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Erin Burnett Outfront
At Least 1 Person Killed in Texas Workplace Shooting; Several in Critical Condition; Trooper Also Shot; At Least 1 Person Killed, Several Injured in Texas Shooting; TX Gov: "Biden is Threatening our Second Amendment Right"; Pulmonologist: Floyd Died from "Low Level of Oxygen"; Rejects Defense Theories Death Due to Drugs, Pre-Existing Condition; Attorney: Gaetz Associate Likely to Strike Plea Deal; CNN in Myanmar as Military Wages War On Its People. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 08, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Brian, thanks very much. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the breaking news, at least one person dead and several others injured including the trooper after a mass shooting in Texas tonight. The shooting coming just hours after President Biden announced executive actions to address gun violence in the U.S.
Plus, gripping testimony about the final moments of George Floyd's life. A breathing expert detailing the second that life left Floyd's body, refuting what had been one of the defense's main arguments.
The story you will see only here, we're going to take you inside Myanmar and the deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at the hands of the country's military. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT this evening, the breaking news, at least one person is dead after a mass shooting. This time at a custom cabinet business in Bryan, Texas. That is about a hundred miles north of Houston.
According to police, at least six other people were taken to the hospital and right now we understand that four of them are said to be in critical condition. One witness describing what she heard and what she was told from other co-workers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was playing with my co-worker and I heard like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I saw the machine got messed up again. So, I tried to walk to figure it out which one and when I started walking, somebody grabbed me and he's like, no, no, no, we need to run because there's a shooting going on. He didn't start shooting like each one. He just starts like picking who he was going to shoot. That's what they told me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Possibly picking who he was going to shoot. The suspect is now in custody and police say a trooper was shot while pursuing the suspect. This afternoon's attack coming roughly three hours after President Biden took executive action to prevent mass shootings and it came one day after five people were killed in another mass shooting in South Carolina.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT live on the phone and on the scene. And Ed, what are you learning right now about this shooting in Texas?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Erin. Well, we're en route to this shooting scene in Bryan College Station. This is not too far from the campus of Texas A&M University. So, this is an area as you mentioned about a hundred north of the Houston area and right now officers are at that shooting scene processing the scene and much of the afternoon has been taken up by a manhunt for the suspects we understand is now in custody.
But that shooter was able to leave the cabinet making shop there in Bryan and was pursued into a neighboring county and that's where the Department of Public Safety says that a state trooper was shot in the process of pursuing the suspect in a neighboring county. That's according to one of the local sheriff's there.
The DPS trooper, we are told, is in serious but stable condition. One person at the cabinet making business has died, six others are hospitalized, several of those are in critical condition. So, all of this is continuing to unfold here this evening in East Central Texas.
BURNETT: So just one follow, it is incredible as you're saying that the suspect was pursued into a neighboring county. I know there's a lot that we don't know right now, and people obviously are fighting for their lives. As you've said several of the six shot in critical condition, we understand now.
Do you know anything more about the police saying anything about the type of gun or any kind of motive or any relationship that the suspect may have had to the cabinet making facility?
LAVANDERA: Well, the Police Chief there in Bryan tell CNN that they believe that the suspect was an employee of the business. But any motive beyond that is something that investigators say they're still trying to piece together through the interviews that they're doing right now and witnesses at the scene. So it sounds like that information still hasn't quite developed fully. So, we'll continue to monitor that as we're en route to the shooting scene.
BURNETT: All right. Ed, thank you very much. And as Ed gets more, we'll go to Ed as he said en route to Bryan.
I want to go to Phil Mudd; FBI Senior Intelligence Advisor, Juliette Kayyem; former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and Isaiah McKinnon; the former Police Chief for Detroit.
Juliette, let me start with you. You heard the witness there and her words quite sobering here. She said he didn't start shooting each one. He started picking who he was going to shoot. That's what they told me. What do you think when you hear that?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And this was a motivated attack of someone who knew the people in the building which we're starting to hear from police officials in the workforce.
This is an industrial site. I was looking at it on the map. It's an industrial site. This is not a commercial area like we got with the recent Atlanta shootings or a place with a lot of consumers that we got with the Boulder shooting. This is a place where you wouldn't really see the kind of traffic that you see in those places. So one would suspect that this was an employee or former employee that triggered it.
And this is three times in two weeks I'm here with these mass shootings and each of them you can sort of parse what the different motivations are. So I would be curious what kind of gun was used in an age when we certainly know that the ability to kill lots of people or harm lots of people quickly is made easier by the amount of guns that we have here uniquely in America.
BURNETT: Certainly, and right. So let me ask you, Chief, the Texas Department of Public Safety does say a DPS trooper was shot while pursuing a suspect. And as you heard Ed say they had to pursue the aspect all the way into a neighboring county. I mean, this was a pursuit. What does this tell you?
ISAIAH MCKINNON, FORMER DETROIT POLICE CHIEF: Erin, as a person who's responded to these kinds of situations, you're always thinking the worst. Who, where, what, when, why and certainly what kind of weapons they're having, as you approach, are you going to have your SWAT team or are you going to have just the officers responding and you just don't know exactly what's going on until you get there and you hope that it's the least of your worries and concerns?
But you always think that my god, this is happening again and let's stop it.
BURNETT: So, Phil, the industrial park setting that Juliette is talking about here, we understand the suspect was an employee. The Police Chief describes it as a fairly spread-out scene and, of course, the witness saying as far as she understood that people were selected and picked out to be shot. I again want to say one of those people is dead, we understand four of them are in critical condition fighting for their lives right now.
Phil, how much does the scene here itself of this industrial park complicate it?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think it complicates it in terms of the second order question, which is what do you do about this. The first question I would have is how do you secure the facility, how do you ensure that you have the subject under control. We have answers to that already, Erin.
The next question going into tomorrow morning is going to be what do you do about this. And when you look at the facility and the person, the question will be were there red flags that tell you that that person should have been suspected. My answer is going to be to you, I don't think so.
So immediately in the environment, the President of the United States just said we're going to institute more controls on weapons. The question is going to be should we have controlled the weapons access of that person. I don't think you can handle 330 million Americans and their access to facilities and ensure that those Americans aren't able to attack somebody.
The question is going to be about weapons, Erin.
BURNETT: Yes, right. Which is the point you're making, Juliette. I mean, you can't know who's going to try to do harm. What you can do is try to restrict the methods by which anyone could try to do harm.
BURNETT: Juliette, the suspect as far as we know is in custody and alive.
BURNETT: Now, this has been the case. Certainly, it was the case in Boulder. But it is often not the case. We often don't have a chance to interrogate someone to find out what their motive might have been to find out more. So what happens now?
KAYYEM: So, one is going to be obviously the motivation whether he's speaking, of course, whether there was some triggering moment with the employer, was it an employee or a former employee or was it a lover, we don't know the details of why he would have chose such a - it's not random, such a targeted place.
And then, of course, the question that we all ask now once you get the why and sometimes, you're never quite sure the why, why did they do this, we're trying to be rational for people who are doing mass killings. Then, you get to the how.
And I've been on enough, I'm kind of tired of the why. The how is so obvious and people can parse which kind of gun and whether they had access and all these different things. At some stage the how is just obvious, which is these are weapons that are killing lots of people. South Carolina, we barely blink, South Carolina five people dead and so that's going to be the question is how did he do it, how did he get access to that gun? And that's the question I hope we can focus on in the future. The why is important, but it's a delay tactic sometimes.
BURNETT: Yes. Well, certainly nationally it has been used just as such as we saw today, hours before this, the Governor of Texas talking about how Biden was threatening Second Amendment rights with his executive orders and then, of course, this happens in his state.
So Chief McKinnon, when you look at what we understand here and, again, this is just what we're hearing from an eyewitness. We don't we don't know all of the facts, OK. But the information such that we have would imply that someone who had a gun was able to pick off individuals that this person wanted to pick off. Am I wrong to think that that implies premeditation as opposed to just sudden anger?
MCKINNON: There's no question. Obviously, when a person goes into a location with a weapon and whomever he or she might shoot, they are thinking that I'm going to kill this person.
Let me say this, Erin.
MCKINNON: I lost four offices during my tenure as Chief of Police in Detroit. And one of the things that truly still grips at me is the fact that I had to tell the wives, and the parents and relatives of those officers about what had happened. That to me, I hope that this officer or whomever will survive because of the possibility of having to tell someone that they've lost a relative, these are just horrible times.
And whether it's in South Carolina or it's in Texas, wherever it might be, we all suffer when these kinds of things appear and to have to tell someone - I remember telling a wife that she lost her husband - these are very difficult times and things to do.
BURNETT: Any time. All right. Thank you all. I appreciate your time.
And as I mentioned, the shooting itself came just hours after Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott slammed President Biden's new executive actions on guns today. So what the Governor tweeted, I'll just read to you, he said, "Biden is threatening our Second Amendment rights. He just announced a new liberal power grab to take away our guns. We will not allow this in Texas. It's time to get legislation making Texas a second amendment sanctuary state passed to my desk for signing."
And then this evening the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, tweeting unclear whether we knew about the shooting or not when he tweeted this, the timing appeared to be at the same time. He tweeted, "Biden announced a bunch of anti-Second Amendment measures today. Not in Texas. I've got a lawsuit hair-trigger and we'll sue Biden if he threatens Texans' Second Amendment rights."
So let's just be clear, these tweets came on the day of a shooting in Texas and on the day that Biden announced he is taking executive action on gun legislation. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whether Congress acts or
not, I'm going to use all the resources at my disposal as President to keep the American people safe from gun violence. But there's much more that Congress can do to help that effort. And they can do it right now.
They've offered plenty of thoughts and prayers - members of Congress - but they've passed not a single new federal law to reduce gun violence. Enough prayers. Time for some action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, there are more prayers after he said that. Another shooting today.
OUTFRONT now, a Senior Adviser to President Biden, Cedric Richmond, he's also former member of Congress. So let me just ask you, this comes on the day of this horrific shooting and as President Biden made that announcement, the Governor of Texas says you can't take away our guns, not in Texas. And then, of course, a Texan went with a gun and killed someone and now we've got people fighting for their lives in critical condition tonight. What's your reaction to what we're saying tonight in Texas?
CEDRIC RICHMOND, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, it's unfortunate, of course, our thoughts and prayers are with the family. But like the President said, that's not enough. We have to act. And we've waited on Congress to act for so long that the President feels that it's just irresponsible to wait any longer and that he has the ability to act. He's going to act. He said he was going to do it on the campaign and he's going to do it.
And the actions he's taking will save lives. And so I think that that's the part that Congress always hides behind the fact that, our Republicans, that would this actually save lives. Yes, they would and the American people want to see it happen and it's just that they just can't get it through the skulls of Republicans that people are tired of the carnage on the streets.
And so yes, we offer prayers and thoughts, but we also offer action.
BURNETT: Well then, of course, someone coming in and shooting a group of people, possibly picking off individual people they wanted to pick off. You wouldn't have had so many people injured, a person dead, obviously, if you had not had a gun. I mean, that's the reality of it.
So let me just ask you specifically about what Gov. Abbott and the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, are saying, Congressman. So the Governor of Texas, of course, we will not allow this legislation in Texas. He wants to make Texas a second amendment sanctuary state. Obviously, playing off of what he feels about sanctuary immigration cities. And the Attorney General says I've got a lawsuit hair trigger and we'll sue Biden if he threatens Texans' Second Amendment rights. How do you respond to that if they sue?
[19:15:06] RICHMOND: Well, we'll respond to it a different way if we're not
working for the White House. But as a spokesperson for the President, I would just tell you, it's unfortunate. And we have to be bigger than this. We have to come together with purpose.
And the purpose is to save lives with meaningful common sense gun reform. This is not about politics, easy, simple-minded politics so that you can score points with a particular base. This is not about profits so that the gun companies can make more money.
This is about making sure that people who go to work come home. This is about children who go to school so that they come home and too often and urban communities around this country, sons and daughters leave out and they don't come home and that's what we're worried about.
And so the difference becomes between President Biden and others is that he is a president that's more worried about other people. He knows what loss means. He knows that deep hole in your heart when you lose someone, especially from a senseless act of violence or accident.
RICHMOND: And so he wants to prevent that from happening and so others want to score cheap political points. The real question is when will the voters start to recognize that those politicians and their interest and their rhetoric is contrary to their safety.
BURNETT: So let me ask you about what happened in Tennessee tonight and this is kind of shocking and I'm sure many of our viewers don't know this. Bill Lee, the Governor signed a law today in Tennessee that makes it legal for most adults to carry a handgun without a permit. So no background check, no training required.
That may sound kind of amazing to many people, even people who support having guns. But yet Tennessee is not the 19th state with such a law, no background check, no training required. So let me just ask you whether Biden's executive action today would actually stop that from happening.
RICHMOND: Well, it depends on the type of gun. Absolutely, it will be covered under some of the executive orders that we passed today when DOJ or the Attorney General makes the rule in 30 to 60 days. But the real question is why, do we think that people on the streets are safer when more people have guns, people that are not trained how to use them.
And so when you look at suicide and you look at gun deaths in this country, the access to guns is not a problem in this country. It is actually the problem. In terms of gun violence and deaths in this country. We just think it's unfortunate.
And look, we don't want to go after governors. We don't want to try to score points against them. This is not us against Tennessee. This is not us against Texas or the governors of both of those states. This is us simply just fighting for American families. We want people to be safe and the actions they're taking are simply not making America safer and that's why the President decided to act.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Cedric Richmond. I appreciate your time.
RICHMOND: Thanks for having me.
BURNETT: And next, a key witness delivers a major blow to Officer Derek Chauvin's defense tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONOLOGIST, EXPERT WITNESS: A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, a major turning point in the federal investigation into Matt Gaetz and whether he had a relationship with a 17-year-old girl. One of his closest allies, someone he reportedly called his wingman is now likely to strike a plea deal. One of his closest allies who's now actually in jail, will he flip on Congressman Gaetz?
BURNETT: Tonight, a devastating day of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial. Three medical experts striking down the defense's central argument. Their argument is that George Floyd ultimately died because of the drugs in his system, not because of the knee on his neck.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. BILL SMOCK, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: He's talking. He's not snoring. He's saying, "Please, please get off of me. I want to breathe. I can't breathe." That is not a fentanyl overdose. That's someone begging to breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Omar Jimenez is OUTFRONT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Testimony about (inaudible) will be the truth and nothing but the truth.
TOBIN: I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Testimony Thursday shifting to the state's medical experts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOBIN: All of my research is related basically to breathing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Dr. Martin Tobin, an award-winning pulmonologist started the day, analyzing those crucial images from May 25, 2020.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOBIN: Officer Chauvin, you're able to see Officer King and then Officer Lane down at his feet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Also poking a major hole in the defense's argument that George Floyd died due to pre existing medical conditions and the presence of drugs including fentanyl in his system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOBIN: If it was with fentanyl, you'd be expecting a respiratory rate of 10. Instead, it actually counted here yourself and you can see when you count it yourself that the respiratory rate is 22. So, basically, it tells you there isn't fentanyl on board that is affecting his respiratory centers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ (voice-over): The defense pushing back arguing that Floyd could have died from an overdose if he had taken the drugs moments before police push him on the ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Is it fair to say that you would expect the peak fentanyl respiratory depression within about five minutes?
TOBIN: Right. I mean, obviously, it would depend on how much of it was ingested. But what if there was any amount of it ingested, yes, the peak would be five minutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ (voice-over): But Dr. Tobin was precise with his opinion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOBIN: Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen and this caused damage to his brain that we see and it also caused a PEA arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ (voice-over): The Doctor even showed the jury how he reached his conclusions. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOBIN: The toe of his boot is no longer touching the ground. Half of his body weight plus half his gear weight is coming down, that's 91.5 pounds, is coming down directly on Mr. Floyd neck.
DEREK CHAUVIN, EX-MINNEAPOLIS OFFICER CHARGED IN GEORGE FLOYD'S DEATH: It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.
TOBIN: Even when the trachea has narrowed all the way down to 15 percent, you're still able to speak.
So it tells you how dangerous it is to think, well, if he can speak he's doing OK.
JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: So was the knee then lifted off of his neck at the point there was no more oxygen in his body?
TOBIN: No. The knee remained on the neck for another three minutes and two seconds after we reached the point where there was not an ounce of oxygen left in the body.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ (voice-over): The day remained focused on the medical evidence with one doctor confirming small amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in Floyd's blood and another ruling out the defense theory that Floyd had excited delirium.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number seven, unaffected by pain.
SMOCK: When we listened to the tapes, do we hear Mr. Floyd complain of pain? Absolutely, we do. Pain in his neck. Pain in his face. Pain in his back. Does this apply to Mr. Floyd? Absolutely not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ(on camera): And one of the doctors testified the fentanyl found in George Floyd's system was in the 80th percentile for DUI tests conducted. But that doctor also said the blood work is more similar to someone who is alive than dead and much has been made of juror attentiveness over the course of this. They paid more attention today than they have in a while.
And even at one point during Dr. Tobin's testimony, nearly all of them started touching their necks as he did a demonstration over the anatomy of the neck.
BURNETT: Wow. That's incredible. All right. Omar, thank you very much. And that detail is obviously so crucial as I bring in Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family attorney.
So Ben, you heard in Omar's piece, Dr. Tobin describing in excruciating detail how George Floyd struggled to get oxygen for those nine minutes and 29 seconds. And he was saying that everyone in the jury that he said much has been made of how much people are paying attention in the jury, but that today, all of them were avidly paying attention. And in those moments, they were they were all touching their necks actually. Is this the strongest testimony you've heard?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, FLOYD FAMILY ATTORNEY: It is certainly some of the strongest testimony we've heard in days of the dot that destroyed Derek Chauvin's defense theory that there was a trace amount of drugs that killed him. He destroyed the theory that he died from a previous health condition, because he specifically said that what they did to George Floyd would have killed a healthy person.
CRUMP: Now, they had nothing else intervening. And then, Erin, he broke it down so masterfully when he demonstrated using his neck, where you had the juries completely engaged.
BURNETT: So Chauvin's attorney then today, Ben, tried to shift some blame onto the paramedics. We had not heard this before. So what he did was seizing on the testimony from Dr. Tobin. He said, well, more than nine minutes passed between the time Floyd took his last breath, according to Dr. Tobin and when paramedics inserted the airway tube. So he was using that gap to appear to shift the blame to the paramedics and away from Chauvin. Let me play that moment for you, Ben.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NELSON: So, between 20:27 and 45 seconds, when the EMTs first arrived and the time they got him to having air in his lungs, that was a crucial nine minutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So what do you make of that defense that the paramedics were the ones who did not respond quickly enough?
CRUMP: Erin, it's what we say that initially even before the trial began, they're going to do everything in their power to distract us to try to say, look over here, look over there, don't focus on what we see in the video with our own eyes. And so I'm not surprised that they would now try to blame the paramedics after they (inaudible) actually they tried to blame the bystanders for being angry. This whole subliminal theory of the angry black people made Derek Chauvin keep his knee on George Floyd's neck. Erin, it is clear what killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force. BURNETT: So Ben, everyone knows these times now, nine minutes, 29
seconds as the time Floyd is pinned to the ground. Now, today, the doctor really went into this excruciating detail on what specifically was happening during that time, during these moments as George Floyd died. I'll play one crucial part of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOBIN: The knee remains on the neck for another three minutes and 27 seconds after he takes his last breath. There's the knee remains. After there's no pulse, the knee remains on the neck for another two minutes and 44 seconds after the officers have found themselves, there's no pulse. The knee remains on the neck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And as he lays this out, Ben, he says the knee remained for three minutes and 27 seconds after Floyd took his last breath. As part of this as he's walking through it, they -- they are literally showing video that they had slowed down, so that people could understand what George Floyd's last literally seconds were.
The jury saw that. Floyd's brother Philonise was in the courtroom today. I've talked to him before. I can't imagine how painfully difficult this was for him to hear and to have to watch.
CRUMP: It is extremely emotional for the family. But it is critical to making sure the jury understands why they must vote to convict Derek Chauvin. It was very direct and specific medical testimony that corroborates the police chief saying that what Chauvin did was absolutely unnecessary.
And, Erin Burnett, it corroborates what we all saw with our own eyes. So, today's testimony completely destroyed Derek Chauvin's defense.
BURNETT: Ben, thank you very much. I always appreciate it.
CRUMP: Yes, ma'am.
BURNETT: Benjamin Crump, as I said, attorney for the Floyd family.
Next, a major development in the federal investigation into Congressman Matt Gaetz and whether he broke sex trafficking and prostitution laws with young girls. A close associate of Gaetz is now likely to strike a plea deal with prosecutors.
And a CNN exclusive. We're going to take you inside Myanmar where people are risking their lives to fight, to have a voice against a military coup.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are shooters and the shooters shoot the children. CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't want you
to get in trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, a huge development and potentially devastating one for Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz and the investigation into whether he broke sex trafficking and prostitution laws and had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old.
Joel Greenberg, a key figure in the investigation and associate of Gaetz's, is likely to strike a deal with prosecutors.
Now, this is according to prosecutors and this is a very important and, and Greenberg's attorney.
Ryan Nobles is OUTFRONT.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For embattled Congressman Matt Gaetz, the news out of Florida today was not good.
FRITZ SCHELLER, ATTORNEY FOR JOEL GREENBERG, AN ASSOCIATE FOR REP. MATT GAETZ: I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.
NOBLES: Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, and political and personal ally of Gaetz, plans to strike a plea deal. It could mean Greenberg is ready to share damaging information about his relationship with the congressman. The FBI continues to investigate Gaetz as part of a broader investigation into possible prostitution and sex trafficking crimes, including allegations that Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl.
Gates and Greenberg are close associates. The two were both once rising Republican stars in Florida, posing for photos in front of the White House, and with Trump ally Roger Stone.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): If Joel were to run for Seminole County, I think he becomes the next congressman for the 7th district.
NOBLES: Greenberg is facing 33 charges of stalking a political opponent, creating fake IDs, stalking a political opponent and sex trafficking. The fact that he's ready to cut a deal to prosecutors could lead directly back to Gaetz, who has denied ever having sex with a 17-year-old as an adult, and that he ever paid for sex.
But his association with Greenberg is what led to the FBI's investigation in to Gaetz's conduct. "The New York Times" reported that investigators believe Greenberg recruited women online, who he paid for sex and that Gaetz had sex with them, too. Their close relationship was well known in Florida political circles.
Florida state Representative Anna Eskamani said this voice mail the pair left her was, quote, cringe worthy.
JOEL GREENBERG, FORMER SEMINOLE COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR: My dear Anna, this is your favorite tax collector. I'm up in Panhandle with with your favorite U.S. congressman, Mr. Gaetz.
GAETZ: Hi, Anna.
GREENBERG: And we were just chatting about you and talking about your lovely qualities.
GAETZ: We think you're the future of the Democratic Party in Florida.
NOBLES: Greenberg's attorney making it clear his client could be a big help to the FBI.
SCHELLER: He's uniquely situated. So --
NOBLES: Investigators are also examining Gaetz's travel schedule, specifically a trip to the Bahamas. Sources say the probe is looking into the possibility that women were paid to travel for sex with Gaetz and others. Gaetz declined comment to CNN on the trip, but a spokeswoman told CBS that, quote, Representative Gaetz has never paid for sex nor has he had sex with an underage girl. What began with headlines about sex trafficking has now turned into a general fishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults.
NOBLES (on camera): And despite all this pressure on the congressman from Florida, there are more signs today that he has plans to go nowhere and stay in Congress as long as possible. A statement put out by eight members of his congressional staff, all women, defending their boss, saying that he's been nothing but professional to them and they believe him when he says he's not guilty of these allegations -- Erin.
BURNETT: OK. Thank you very much, Ryan.
I want to go now to Marc Caputo, national political reporter for "Politico". He has covered Florida politics extensively for two decades and knows all the players here.
And David Aronberg, a state attorney for Palm Beach County and former Democratic state senator, also does and is back with me.
So thanks to both of you.
So, David, we talked last week, with you told me the Greenberg probe is what Congressman Matt Gaetz should be worried about the most, that there'd be immense pressure on Greenberg to flip on Gaetz, right, and Greenberg -- of course, he's got a serious prison term ahead of him. He's -- you know, after violating some of the terms, he's even in jail before his trial starts. So what do you think is happening here?
DAVID ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY: Good evening, Erin.
I think that Greenberg is starting to flip on Matt Gaetz.
After all, he's facing up to life in prison and a ten-year mandatory minimum for child sex trafficking and 32 other federal crimes. So he has every incentive to flip. Plus, he is in jail right now, as you said, awaiting trial because he violated the terms of his pretrial release.
So the only lifeline is there is a bigger fish than he is out there, Matt Gaetz. Matt Gaetz is a member of Congress, whereas Greenberg was just a local tax collector. And there's an old adage. When you go to the prosecutor's office for a deal, the first in, first to win. It looks like Greenberg wants to be the first one in to get the best deal.
BURNETT: I mean, his lawyer, it wasn't just what he said, it was the tone he said it. I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable. So, it was said with like a level of snark and disdain from Greenberg's attorney. So, it's pretty clear that's what they intend to do. We'll see as they negotiate a deal.
So, Marc, sources are telling CNN that investigators think Greenberg recruited multiple women online for sex, introduced the women to Gaetz. "The New York Times" reviewed receipts from both Apple Pay and Cash App that show payments being made from Gaetz to Greenberg, and then to at least one of the women. They're looking at whether drugs changed hands, too, and what went down here.
But, Marc, it's pretty clear Greenberg and Gaetz hung out. Greenberg seems to know a lot about Gaetz.
MARC CAPUTO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, yeah. You know, our reporting as well showed, and this is according to eight friends and associates of the two, that they -- one of their things was to have women that Greenberg would either meet or recruit in some circles on the Sugar Daddy website, seeking arrangement.
Now, the Bahamas trip, Greenberg wasn't on that. In fact, one of the women on that trip who is a girlfriend of a doctor, who had his plane flew out there, she was the one who apparently recruited the women on seeking arrangement. So there's not just kind of one player and Greenberg doing that, there's a few.
Now the questions about what is sex trafficking as far as the adults, whether these women were escorts or whether the government can prove that, we're going to have an interesting time, kind of examining those allegations. One of the things that we're starting to learn, according to two sources, is that the 17-year-old who Greenberg had had sex with, and who Gaetz is -- or I should say allegedly had sex with, and who Gaetz has allegedly also seen, she went on that Bahamas trip as well, but may have been 18 at the time.
And so, there appears to have an ongoing relationship. A number of them have spoken to prosecutors, a number of the women, to the degree they're classified as escorts, to the degree the government can show whether money was actually sex trafficking, whether money is changing hands for sex, that's going to be what this case hinges around and the kind of Dave's point earlier, is testimony of Greenberg will help fill in those gaps.
Now, having been said, Greenberg could be a problematic witness. Remember, not only does he have these child sex trafficking charges that he might have to plead guilty to. One of the other charges is that he actually smeared a political rival by accusing him of being a pedophile. So having to fill in the gaps and the prosecution witness might be kind of complicated. We'll have to see.
BURNETT: It's an interesting point. And then, of course, that gets you to all the receipts that seem to be there, and what they show. And as you point out from your sources, that there may have been another person playing the Greenberg role, maybe on the Bahamas trip, maybe on others. Obviously, that would be problematic, possibly for Mr. Gaetz.
So, Dave, when you put all this together, how bad could this get for Matt Gaetz?
ARONBERG: It could get so bad that he could be facing up to life in prison. If he's charged and convicted with child sex trafficking, there's a ten-year minimum sentence. That's why the issue of the flight to the Bahamas is not, in my opinion, as big a deal as the sex trafficking allegations, because if he engaged in sex acts with sex workers who were all of age and participated in the transportation of them to the Bahamas, then he could be guilty of a violation of the Mann Act, which is punishable by up to ten years in federal prison.
But contrast that to child sex trafficking, which has a ten-year minimum. So it's a much more harsh sentence, and rightly so.
So I think Matt's in a lot of trouble. Even if he didn't have sex with an underage girl, even if he didn't pay for it, he could still be guilty of child sex trafficking under the statute.
BURNETT: Right. And it's incredible, as you point out. Any of these crimes it carries serious, serious prison time. Thank you both very much.
I appreciate it.
ARONBERG: Thank you.
CAPUTO: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, we're going to take you inside Myanmar. This is an incredible and exclusive look at the military takeover of the country and the brave, incredibly brave people who are fighting it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: Somebody just flashed three fingers at me. That's the hunger games salute which has become emblematic of this uprising. I'm speaking very quietly, because I don't want our minders to know what they just did.
BURNETT: Tonight, at least 11 more protestors were killed in anti-coup demonstrations in Myanmar. According to local news reports cited by "Reuters", at least 570 people have been killed, including more than 40 children. Roughly 3,000 people have been detained since the military took over in a coup two months ago.
Myanmar gained independence in 1948. The country has spent more than 50 years under military rule. Only for the past decade has the country of 55 million actually had civilian rule, a taste of democracy. But that all ended on February 1st when the military, which is one of the largest in Asia, reasserted itself with deadly consequences.
CNN's Clarissa Ward and her team were the first outside journalist allowed in the country since the coup. Her exclusive report, right now, OUTFRONT.
WARD (voice-over): By day, the junta continues its brutal crackdown, killing pro-democracy protesters who refuse to submit to military rule.
At night, the raids begin as soldiers round up activists and drag away the dead, their bodies evidence of the military's shoot-to-kill tactics.
Two months after overthrowing Myanmar's democratically elected government in a coup, the junta has been unapologetic in its ruthlessness and silent in the face of international outrage.
Fearless local journalists and activists have risked everything to show the world what is happening while outside access to the country has been blocked.
But now, the military has granted CNN the first access to visit Myanmar. From the moment we arrive, our movements are tightly controlled.
It gives you a sense of the intense level of security with us. One, two, three -- another three over there, six trucks full of soldiers accompanying our every move.
At township offices across Yangon, alleged victims of the protest movement dutifully await us. They tell us they have been beaten, and threatened and humiliated by the violators, a pejorative term the military uses for the pro-democracy protesters.
In North Okkalapa township, the local administrator complains the demonstrators were noisy and broke the law by gathering in groups of more than five.
Are you seriously comparing these infractions to more than 500 people being killed, among them children? Are you saying that these are equal?
Our minders are perturbed by the question, and it goes unanswered.
They take us to a shopping center, one of two attacked by arsonists overnight. Like many businesses in Myanmar, they are partially owned by the military. The strong implication from our minders is that the protesters are to blame.
It's a similar story at several burned out factories.
This is the third factory that the military wanted to show us. They say it's clear proof that the protesters are violent, that they have been setting fire to businesses like this. But the protesters say they had nothing to do with it at all. And the factory owners who we've spoken to say they simply don't know who is responsible.
Sandra's Chinese-owned garment factory was completely destroyed. She asked we not show her face.
Do you have any sense of what you will do now?
SANDRA: Waiting for the government to give me some helping.
WARD: Who is the government right now in Myanmar? Sorry, is that a hard question?
SANDRA: Yeah, I don't know.
WARD: Every moment of our visit is carefully choreographed. When protesters begin posting about our movements on social media, the military cuts off Wi-Fi across the country. Still from the window of our convoy, we catch glimpses of reality.
Some people from the balcony just flashed three fingers at me. That's the hunger game salute, which has become emblematic of this uprising. I'm speaking very quietly because I don't want our minders to know what they just did because honestly it could be a very dangerous situation for them.
We pass a small protest, rejecting Myanmar's return to half a century of oppressive military rule. Their banner calls for a spring revolution. Our minders won't let us stop.
Finally, after days of pushing, we are allowed to visit a public space, an open market. We avoid approaching anyone, mindful of the fact that we are surrounded by security forces. But within minutes, one brave man flashes the three-finger salute.
I saw that you made a sign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WARD: Tell me what you mean by making that sign. You just stand back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice, justice, we want justice.
WARD: You want justice?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WARD: Moments later, another man approaches.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not scared.
WARD: Not scared?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not weapons. We don't have no weapons. Not scared. But every day fighting, every day, just like that, just like that.
As word of our presence spreads, we hear an unmistakable sound. Banging pots and pans is a tradition to get rid of evil spirits. But it has become the signature sound of resistance.
This young teacher says she ran to talk to us when she heard the noise.
You want democracy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want democracy. We don't want military coup.
WARD: You know we're surrounded by military, like this guy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't -- I'm not afraid at all. If we are afraid, we people around here will not hit the bang and the pan.
WARD: Like many young people, she sees her future being ripped away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't want to go back to the dark age. We lost our voice. And we had democracy only for ten years. We don't have weapons. We don't have guns. Just only we have voice.
WARD: But even words can be punished here.
Not wanting the situation to escalate, we decide to leave the market, as people honk their horns in support of the protest movement.
The junta has grossly underestimated the determination of its people and the growing hatred for the military. In the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, we finally have the opportunity to confront Myanmar's senior military leadership.
MAJOR GENERAL ZAW MIN TUN, MILITARY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): I will tell you the reason why we have to crack down. The protests were peaceful from February 1st to the 8th. The reason for the crackdown was because they blocked civil servants.
The security forces are giving warnings. Firstly, shouting to break the crowds and then shooting in the air, and the crowds are throwing stones and using slingshots.
WARD: Are you seriously comparing stones and slingshots to assault rifles? The military is using weapons against its own people that really only belong on the battlefield.
TUN (through translator): The main thing is, they are not only using stones and slingshots, we have evidence they use gasoline and Molotov cocktails. You have to add those, too.
For the security forces, they use crackdown weapons for riots. There will be deaths when they are cracking down the riots but we are not shooting without discipline with the rifles we use for the front lines.
WARD: So, this is CCTV footage of a 17-year-old Kyaw Min Latt going past a police convoy. You can see the police shoot him on the spot. His autopsy later said that he suffered brain injury as a result of a cycling accident, which I think we can all see that's not a cycling accident.
How do you explain this?
TUN (through translator): If that kind of thing has occurred, we will have investigations for it. We will investigate it, if it's true or not. There may be some videos which look suspicious, but for our forces, we don't have any intention to shoot at innocent people.
WARD: So 14-year-old Tun Tun Aung who was killed by your forces, what do you say to his mother? You say that he was a violent protester? Or what would you say to the father of 13-year-old Htoo Myat Win also shot dead by your forces?
TUN (through translator): We have heard about the deaths of the children, too. There is no reason we will shoot children. This is only the terrorists that are trying to make us look bad.
WARD: But the lies are paper thin. According to the U.N., as of March 31st, at least 44 children have been killed.
Back to Yangon, our minders take us to another market in a military area, keen to show they have popular support. But the ploy backfires.
I understand. A man just told me, we want democracy, as he walked past, but he was too scared to stop and talk.
Others are more bold.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please save our country.
WARD: Save your country.
These people are not activists. They are ordinary citizens, and they live in fear of the military.
You have goose bumps, like shivering.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are not -- they are not human.
WARD: Yeah, they are not human?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.
WARD: They are desperate for the outside world to know their pain. One girl approaches us, shaking.
I feel like you're very nervous. Are you okay?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, yeah.
We are not safe anymore. Even in the night. There are shooters and the shooters shoot the children.
WARD: I don't want you to get in trouble. I don't want you to get arrested, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, thank you.
WARD: All right?
She knows her bravery will certainly be punished, but this is a resistance built on small acts of great courage.
WARD (on camera): Erin, that woman was unfortunately arrested just as she was running away from the market. Seven others were also arrested. Their only crime, talking to CNN. Thankfully, they were all released after a couple of days.
But it's really just an illustration of how threatened the military is by this popular movement and also how extraordinarily brave these men and women are risking their own security to make their voices heard across the world, Erin.
BURNETT: Clarissa, your reporting is incredible and, of course, brave on its own. The bravery, you point out, I'm deeply moved by the people. The three fingered salute, I was just deeply moved by your entire report.
The Biden administration has put out sanctions on, you know, any sort of companies that there are in Myanmar. What impact are the sanctions having?
WARD: So U.S., the U.K., the European Union, they've all imposed sanctions on the junta. But in reality, the West doesn't have a huge amount of leverage here. And so far, what we haven't seen, Erin, is a meaningful unified response from the international community to the crisis in Myanmar. And that's why those people were so desperate and that's why they risked everything to tell us their stories, Erin. BURNETT: Well, we're so grateful, they are grateful. All of these
governments are so grateful that you have put a voice and picture to it. To them, it cannot go ignored, thanks to you. Thank you, Clarissa.
And thanks to all of you for watching.
Anderson starts now.