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Erin Burnett Outfront

New Video in Fatal Police Shooting of Black Teen Who Appears to Lunge at Young Woman with a Knife; OH Police Release More Body Cam Video of Teen's Shooting Death; Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) Discusses About What Went Wrong in the Shooting of Ma'Khia Bryant; Gaetz Probe Includes Scrutiny of Potential Public Corruption Tied to Medical Marijuana Industry; Caitlyn Jenner Running for California Governor in Likely Recall Election; CDC Chief: J&J Vaccinations May Resume Immediately. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 23, 2021 - 19:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Finally, be sure to join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM next week and every week as we launch a new start time. I'll be here 6 pm Eastern weeknights to bring you all the day's top stories. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, new video of what happened to the moments leading up to the shooting death of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant in Ohio.

And in North Carolina, seven deputies now on administrative leave after 42-year-old Andrew Brown Jr. was shot and killed by police two days ago. Still, there is no body cam video of that incident.

And investigators looking into whether Congressman Matt Gaetz received gifts in exchange for political favors. Part of the same probe into whether gates engaged in sex trafficking and had a relationship with a 17-year-old girl.

Plus, we have breaking news, CDC advisors recommending the U.S. resume using Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine with a new warning. So will it ease worries about the vaccine? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, graphic new video of the moments leading up to the fatal officer involved shooting of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant. The video from a neighbor's security camera shows Officer Nicholas Reardon arriving on the scene in Columbus, Ohio and getting out of his patrol car. You can see in the spot shadow that we've added, there is what appeared to be a scuffle. Bryant is then seen lunging at another young woman with a knife. And that is when Reardon opens fire, killing Ma'Khia Bryant.

This is the latest of several videos that we've seen of the deadly incident. The body cam videos released within hours of Ma'Khia Bryant's death. The Mayor's office telling CNN the timing of the shooting and the verdict of Derek Chauvin's murder trial drove officials to release those videos quickly.

Athena Jones is OUTFRONT live in Columbus, Ohio tonight. Athena, what's the latest on the ground right now?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Well, funeral arrangements for Ma'Khia Bryant are being finalized. And according to a family spokesperson, details could be released as soon as tomorrow as Bryant's family struggles with their loss and many in this city are mourning a life that ended too soon.


JONES (voice-over): A new view of what led to the shooting of 16-year- old Ma'Khia Bryant. This angle from a neighbor's security camera across the street showing Columbus, Ohio Police Officer Nicholas Reardon arriving on the scene, emerging from the vehicle and shooting Bryant, in black, as she appeared to lunge at another young woman, wearing pink with a knife in her hand.

Reardon who has been taken off street duty while an independent investigation is underway, firing four shots at Bryant within seconds. The Police Department and the Police Union President arguing the use of force was necessary to protect the young woman in pink.


KEITH FERRELL, PRESIDENT, CAPITAL CITY LODGE 9, FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: I would ask you, if that's your family member up against the car that had a puppy in their hand, what would you want that officer do in that split second moment that they had a chance to stop harm to others.

We have a duty to protect the public and ourselves. Certainly, the public.


JONES (voice-over): A view echoed by other law enforcement experts.


DARRIN PORCHER, FORMER NYPD LIEUTENANT: Immediately upon exiting the vehicle, Officer Reardon observes an assault that's taking place. He sees one person that's in possession of a knife and then he sees a victim that's - or a potential victim that's standing next to the auto. Officer Reardon believed that deadly physical force was necessary in this encounter, because the potential victim could have possibly lost their life.

JONES (on camera): Explain, once again, why the Officer took these actions and why he did so, so quickly.

PORCHER: This was an incident that went from zero to 100 immediately. The Officer's actions were justified under the purview of the use of force doctrine.


JONES (voice-over): Mayor Andrew Ginther saying the city is grieving a tragic loss and stressing the importance of transparency.


MAYOR ANDREW GINTHER (D-OH), COLUMBUS: Our African American community in particular here is grieving not just at this particular tragic event, but so many deadly encounters with law enforcement they're seeing around the country and even here in this community. And so, it's a common (inaudible) all of us to make sure that we are supporting folks in the community right now that are grieving, but also calling for and demanding for change, reform, and justice. And transparency is such an important part of that.


JONES (voice-over): Police released dash camera footage Thursday from shortly after the shooting. Part of that effort at transparency. Meanwhile, Brant's mother grappling with the pain of losing her daughter.


PAULA BRYANT, MA'KHIA BRYANT'S MOTHER: My heart is really broken right now because I miss my baby.



JONES (on camera): Paula Bryant says she is grieving and is unable to watch the full video of her daughter's final moments which is, of course, understandable, Kate.


BOLDUAN: Yes. Absolutely. Athena, thank you.

OUTFRONT with me now Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio. She represents the district where Ma'Khia Bryant lived and was killed. And she also is the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Congresswoman, thank you for being here this evening. You've seen these videos of the shooting of Ma'Khia. Bryant, what do you think went wrong?

REP. JOYCE BEATTY (D-OH): Well, I think we have to be in a better position to say that we should be saving all lives. We can't say that the lady in the pink would have been killed. Here's what I believe, you see in 11 seconds for shots and a teenager on the ground dead.

I think there has to be a better way. One size can't fit all. When I hear the police say that they are trained to go to the center of the body and to shoot, here is a situation where the police had been called. They knew they were coming into a situation with girls, a teenager and two women. We should have been in de-escalation mode. It should not be that the car pulls up, an officer gets out and then within 10 seconds.

Now, there was another lady that was already on the ground and Ma'Khia had the kitchen knife in her hand. I can't say that I know that her intentions were to kill this person. I think we should be saving all lives and I just think we have to have a better situation and especially as we were on the same day, the same hour, waiting for the verdict in the George Floyd's case.

I was there with that family grieving, had been with the family of Casey Goodson, the family with Andre Hill and all of us are saying enough is enough. We have to learn how to de-escalate. We have to have a better practice, policy and procedure that it is to go in and to put four bullets in a child's chest with a kitchen knife. I'm sorry. This is too hard, too emotional for me right now, to respond to, too many lives.

And right here in Columbus, Ohio, in my district, too many black Americans are dying. We have to come with a better ...

BOLDUAN: And your pain and anguish, quite frankly, is shared by - is being expressed by so many. I mean, we are hearing this over and over again and people are exhausted of it. And I'm wondering, you mentioned how many - this is happening too often even in your district. I mean, we look there have been four people shot to death by law enforcement in the last four months in Columbus. Do you have a problem with your police department in Columbus?

BEATTY: Well, let me just tell you, I think in Columbus, across this nation, whether it's Minneapolis, whether it is Texas, it doesn't - Chicago, it doesn't matter where it is, we have systemic racism. We have differences in how communities of color are treated, in my opinion.

And so I think we have to look at the system. I don't support a system of one size fits all. I don't support a system that you drive up and the automatic thing is to put four bullets in the chest of a 16-year- old. I don't support one size fit all. I think that it's appalling that we can have someone say our system is to train officers to go to the center of the body no matter what.

So if she had a water gun, if she had a sandwich, if she had keys, if she had a cell phone and it looks like she was going to hit or harm someone, the answer is four bullets, six bullets in the back, in the chest. That's not acceptable.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you for coming on tonight. I appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

OUTFRONT with me now is Roberto Villasenor. He's former Chief of Tucson Arizona Police Department. He was also a member of President Obama's National Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Thank you for being here.

Congresswoman Beatty, she - I hope you heard our conversation just now. She is not only upset and angry but she is saying that there has to be a better way. She is not in a place where she's ready to accept that that was the right way. That was the only outcome that was to happen was officer arrives on the scene and four bullets end up in the 16-year-old's chest. I would like your perspective on this. What do you think of the Officer's actions?

ROBERTO VILLASENOR, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think that the officer was placed in a very terrible situation. I'm not arguing the anger, the frustration, the pain, the hurt that's going on within that community with the outcome of that situation.


However, I think we have to be realistic. Everyone can sit there and say that there has to be a better way, but when the officer got there, it was an immediately explosive situation. Within 11 seconds, all that happened. And the first part of it was already an attack on the other girl that was pushed down also attacked with the knife and then she immediately went towards the young woman up against the vehicle.

And the officer really, in my opinion, had no other resource available to stop that threat. Tasers don't always work and they're not really to be using the lethal force situation. And it was just a terrible, terrible situation. But I believe the officer acted as the training and the law of states that he should have acted.

BOLDUAN: The Police Department released some body camera video of this, within hours of the shooting. It's perhaps among the fastest of such releases. One of the reasons why that the city is saying they did, they move so quickly, is the timing of the shooting. About a half an hour before a verdict was announced in the Derek Chauvin trial. Do you think this should be the new standard for transparency?

VILLASENOR: Well, when we were in the task force, that was one of our recommendations is that we need to be as transparent as quickly as possible. The issue though is that every department works under a different jurisdiction, different laws. They work in different prosecutorial bodies that control the release of information.

You have this incident where the information was released very quickly and then you have other incidents where it's delayed quite a while and that causes suspicion and unrest within the community. But that's the laws that the department has to work under.

It's always best, in my opinion, to get the videos out as quickly as possible that demonstrates transparency and sometimes the video will be showing the officer acted appropriately. sometimes not. But holding the video doesn't improve if it's bad news. Getting it out quickly is probably the best way to start dealing with any issue.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Holding it back is - that is yesterday, that is not this moment that we are in today and it's all about building trust, really, in this moment. VILLASENOR: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: And that is a huge part of this. Thanks for coming on, I appreciate it.

VILLASENOR: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, North Carolina bracing for more protests tonight as we learn new details about where deputies shot Andrew Brown Jr.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a 40-year-old male with gunshot wounds to the back.


BOLDUAN: We're just talking about Columbus and their transparency there. Where is the body cam video for this shooting?

Plus, the Feds looking into whether Congressman Matt Gaetz received gifts including paid escorts in exchange for political favors.

And Republicans in Arizona is still trying to help Trump push his big lie tonight and they're using a company called Cyber Ninjas to do it.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, a third night of protests in Elizabeth City, North Carolina following the fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. These protests come as the county sheriff says seven deputies now have been placed on administrative leave as a result of the shooting and two others have resigned and one has retired.

Police say they were trying to serve an arrest warrant on Brown. Witnesses say deputies open fire on the car that he was driving. Investigators are sharing very little information and citing North Carolina law won't release the body camera video. Dianne Gallagher is OUTFRONT with the latest.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After three days of peaceful protest in Elizabeth City, North Carolina ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you see, all these people here, they want answers.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten revealing seven deputies involved in the incident that led to the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. are on administrative leave and three have left the force on their own.


TOMMY WOOTEN, PASQUOTANK COUNTY SHERIFF: There is absolutely nothing to hide. I am trying to let the investigation unfold.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): Wooten meeting with Brown's family for the first time late Friday afternoon. Though he offered condolences, the family called the sit down 'almost a waste of time'.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The same way we went in is the same way we came out. We don't understand or know anything. When they call the family law, I really thought Wooten is going to see the video.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): The Sheriff claims he wants the same.


WOOTEN: The family is not going to have to wait much longer. Their wishes will be granted. I want what the citizens of this county want.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): But that state law prevents the video from body cameras worn by deputies who shot and killed Brown while serving warrants from being publicly released without a court order.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We asked our local officials to release that video.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): Something the city council called an emergency meeting Friday afternoon to request. CNN has also joined a media coalition to petition the court to release the videos. Officials haven't given many details about the shooting itself, they say deputies were serving both search and arrest warrants issued by an alcohol drug task force.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an arrest warrant surrounding felony drug charges. Mr. Brown was a convicted felon with a history of resisting arrest.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): Witnesses claim Brown was in his car trying to get away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it's grass, so of course it's spinning mud and they started. They stood behind him. I couldn't tell you who shot him. I couldn't do that. But one of the offices or maybe a couple shot him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a 40-year-old male with gunshot wounds to the back.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): A law enforcement radio dispatch from the deadly encounter obtained by CNN does reveal that Brown was shot in the back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be advised, EMS has got one male, 42 years of age, gunshot to the back.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): Brown's family says its quest for answers is made even tougher when they think about what his death will mean for his children.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never in my life see a man take up the time and love his children the way that he did. And the way he would just look at them and they loved him.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): Wishing they could see him one last time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would just want him to know, as he did, that I loved him. And I loved him.




GALLAGHER (on camera): Now, the Sheriff says that he wants to make sure that everything is perfect. All of the details are put together before releasing information about this investigation. But the family, the people who live here in Elizabeth City, they say that the more time that goes by, the more suspicious they become. And that once that video is released, they plan to stay out here, depending on what's on it until they get accountability and justice, Erin.

BOLDUAN: Diane, thank you so much.

OUTFRONT now Montre Freeman, the City Manager for Elizabeth City. Thank you for the time this evening.

So the Governor, Roy Cooper, he's just called for the footage that body cam video to be made public as soon as possible. It's been now more than two days since this happened and obviously nobody can video has been released. Do you think that's acceptable?

MONTRE FREEMAN, CITY MANAGER, ELIZABETH CITY, NC: I don't. But I'm trying to trust the process. As an attorney myself, I want to believe in the process. This happened on the heels of a guilty verdict, three guilty verdicts for Derek Chauvin the very next morning. This took place and so I want to hope for the best, I want to believe in the process. I want to trust those decision makers are making, good accurate decisions out there.

But my focus is just to keep the citizens very safe and create an environment for them to exercise their 1st Amendment rights and provide police protection while they do so.

BOLDUAN: I have to say, just listening to you, it sounds that you're not necessarily convinced that you can trust this process.

FREEMAN: I'm an African-American male and initially this felt like yet another one. And so I'm married to a district court judge and so we talk about these things all the time. And what I'm hoping is that the slow speed of the process will equal accuracy.

I said when I first spoke about this matter was that I was not concerned with the speed, but I'm extremely concerned in watching the accuracy. And so I've been asking the citizens of Elizabeth City and they have been so amazing.

I'm so proud of the citizens of Elizabeth City in how they have brought awareness to the situation. But they have been extremely careful not to create any distractions, because distractions take away from the matter at hand. And so I'm believing and trusting and I will continue to create a very safe ...

BOLDUAN: How long is too long, though? Because for a lot of folks they say, look, get before the judge. Why hasn't someone gotten before a judge two days ago?

FREEMAN: That's a very good question. My counsel - what came out of today's emergency meeting was a letter that will go over to the sheriff's office to make a request for the body cam to be released. North Carolina general statute says that he has up to three days to either answer or not respond a non-response, a non-response will equal a denial and then at that point, we could procedurally petition to court and so ...

BOLDUAN: This sounds like this is not happening anytime soon.

FREEMAN: That is a very good statement. I'm just hoping. We are now at 7:20 something on a Friday, so we know nothing will happen before Monday. And so when you do the math on that, we are going into a very long time without any answers.

BOLDUAN: Look, I got a couple things on this because as you said protests have been peaceful, thankfully. But look around the country, the longer this goes on and the public gets the feeling that they are not getting transparency and as Dianne Gallagher was saying, the family says that they're going to become more suspicious the longer this goes on.

We've seen again and again the longer this goes on and people aren't being transparent, frustrations flare. Are you worried that this is going to turn?

FREEMAN: Extremely. I'm extremely worried. We got intel from some of the protesters that they will continue to protest in a manner impacts our businesses here until they get answers. And so this thing is going to have a ripple effect the longer is out here.

My daddy would say all the time, you can only sing and dance for so long before you're going to have to perform. And so what I need is a performance and I need it to be a really good one when the time is here.

BOLDUAN: Look, we know now that seven deputies have been placed on leave. Two other deputies have resigned and one deputy has retired after this.


What does that tell you?

FREEMAN: I don't want to make speculations, but I would really love to know why they resigned, why the one retired. I can speculate that the seven on leave that's kind of a protocol that happens when these types of things take place while the investigation is going on.

BOLDUAN: Is it suspicious to you that three others who weren't involved have now left?

FREEMAN: Very. That says to me that someone feels like or have seen some things that does not match the training that law enforcement receives. And that's very unfortunate for those officers who tried and attempt to do it right every single day.

BOLDUAN: You've got a lot in your hands and you've got some really tenuous days ahead. City Manager, thank you for coming on.

FREEMAN: The pleasures mine and thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Good luck. OUTFRONT next, the Feds digging deeper into Matt Gaetz's past and

whether he might have received gifts including paid escorts in exchange for political favors.

And former Olympian and reality star Caitlyn Jenner says she is running for Governor of California. Does she have a chance?




BOLDUAN: New tonight, sources telling CNN federal authorities are looking into whether a 2018 trip to the Bahamas involving Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz and several young women was part of an orchestrated effort to illegally influence him in the area of medical marijuana. This as Gaetz is also under investigation for alleged sex trafficking and possibly having a relationship with the 17-year-old girl.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT for us tonight.

So, Paula, whatever federal investigators looking at?


Well, CNN has learned the federal sex trafficking investigation into Congressman Gaetz also includes look at whether Gaetz took gifts including travel and paid escorts, in exchange for political favors. Sources briefed on the matter say that justice department is scrutinizing a 2018 trip to the Bahamas involving Gaetz and several young women. They're specifically looking at whether the gateway was part of an orchestrated effort to illegally influence the congressman on the issue of medical marijuana.

Now, CNN has previously reported Gaetz is under investigation for engaging in a relationship with the girl that began when she was just 17. And that Gaetz attended sex parties in Orlando with other prominent Republicans, involving women, drugs and exchanging sex for money.

CNN has also learned that investigators already have one key witness who is cooperating, and that is Joel Greenberg, the former Seminole County tax commissioner. He's a close associate of Congressman Gaetz, and he also attended those sex parties. He was indicted last year on multiple, federal charges including sex trafficking. And he is expected to enter a plea deal in the coming weeks.

BOLDUAN: Paula, you report a number of close associates have ties to the industry. Who are these people?

REID: Well, Gaetz has a long history of advocating for medical marijuana. He's introduced pieces of legislation at the state and federal levels, seeking to loosen laws that regulate the drug. Now, he also has associates who overlap with the industry. According

to reports, Dr. Jason Pirozzolo, a Florida doctor who founded a medical marijuana advocacy group accompanied Gaetz on that 2018 trip to the Bahamas. And Gaetz is referred to this doctor as one of his best friends. The pair have also repeatedly intersected over medical marijuana.

Now as far back as 2014, Gaetz, then a state representative in Florida, introduced medical marijuana legislation two weeks after vacationing with Pirozzolo in the Florida keys. One week after the legislation passed, Pirozzolo launched a medical marijuana consulting company.

In April 2018, we've also learned that when it Gaetz introduced the medical cannabis research bill, a source tell CNN the congressman hand delivered a fully written draft the bill to his staff which overlapped significantly with the agenda of the doctors group. Near Gaetz nor Pirozzolo have been accused by the Justice Department of any wrongdoing or any crime. And attorney for Dr. Pirozzolo declined to comment. But a spokesman for Gaetz told CNN, Matt Gaetz is a long time public see experts on the subject and passed legislation on the matter as far back as 2013 to suggest that anyone else needed to nudge him along is risible -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Paula, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT with me now for more on this is Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and former deputy assistant attorney general under President Clinton.

Harry, out of it together, how much trouble do you think Congressman Gaetz could be in now?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: He already was in a lot of trouble. He's really in the soup for the whole wealthier of sex, drugs, money behavior. So that is the big part here. We have extra witnesses from the December 2018 trip, including many women. That's one side.

The other side is the possibility that he actually was trading off, if you give me this quality travel, lobster, hotel, I will sponsor medical marijuana for you. The one thing I will say about that is that sort of case is a very hard to prove. Because he will be able to say, as other defendants have, look, I would've done it anyway. I am on record as being in favor of medical marijuana since 2013 and before.

So I think that this is more the whole kind of spiders web of different, sort of, nasty, see the behavior the department is looking into. They could with unusual proof try to say there is a specific bribe, a quid pro quo. But they've been burned trying to do that before. That kind of case usually gives them all kinds of heartburn.

BOLDUAN: So Gaetz has a documented history of being a vocal supporter of changing laws around marijuana.

[19:35:04] Let me -- well, let me just play this for you.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I have worked to be a positive influence on the president for marijuana reform.

The federal government has lied to the people of this country about marijuana for a generation.

I would implore my colleagues in the majority party, reach out to President Biden as I did to President Trump, ask him to take executive action to remove marijuana from the list of schedule I drugs, so that we can accelerate marijuana reform for the benefit of our fellow Americans in those who are in need, and in pain.


BURNETT: That last comment, Harry, was just four days ago. Look, the commentary isn't incriminating necessarily, of course. But do you think this is a case of when there is smoke there must be fire somewhere? I mean, how much do you think the clock is ticking on him?

LITMAN: So the clock, I think, is taking big time. They've been going 9 months, there have indications of who they're talking to has gone up the line and told him already he is a subject. So, I think that he's in a world of hurt and can expect charges in the next couple of months.

On this particular one, yes, it's all part and parcel of who he is. I think it does fit in with his lifestyle. By the way, drugs are involved in the different allegations. Not just marijuana. Ecstasy is the main one.

But I think at the end of the day, this whole kind of more seamy underside will be used to support the kind of nasty girl trading, you know, general corruption that he was living along with Pirozzolo and Greenberg, who interestingly doesn't go on this December trip. And a rather than a specific, do this for me, I will do medical marijuana for you.

BOLDUAN: Harry, thank you for coming in.

OUTFRONT for us next, Trump cheering on a desperate attempt by Arizona Republicans to find fraud and the 2020 election. With help from a far- right TV network in a company called Cyber Ninjas.

Plus, breaking news, CDC advisers recommend the U.S. resume using Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. But that recommendation comes with a new warning.



BOLDUAN: New tonight, former President Trump cannot help himself. Jumping on a desperate Republican attempt and audit of the 2020 election ballots in Arizona's largest county of Maricopa County.

Here's what Trump said about it. He said: Thank you state senators and others in Arizona to commencing this full forensic audit. I predict the results will be startling.

If by startling he means once again disproving his massive election lie of widespread fraud, then sure, it could be startling.

Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An election audit in Maricopa County organized by GOP state senators overseen by a purveyor of election conspiracies and a livestreamed by a pro-Trump television network moves forward tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is just an exercise to perpetuate the big lie.

MURRAY: A judge agreed to temporarily stop the controversial audit Friday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm putting a very temporary halt to it.

MURRAY: But he required Democrats who sued to pay a million dollar fine. They chose not to sow the audit led by GOP senators continues.

It comes after county election officials conducted two audits found no evidence of widespread fraud. But they've highlighted some of Republicans continued efforts to cling to unfounded claims of voter fraud.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: This election was stolen.

MURRAY: Then, former President Trump continued to tout it as he thanked Arizona's GOP senators Friday. After Republican lawmakers subpoenaed for election materials and a judge ruled the county must comply, Maricopa officials handed 2.1 million ballots and nearly 400 tabulation machines to the Senate this week.

Overseeing the exercise, a Florida cybersecurity firm called Cyber Ninjas. The main contractor for a $150,000 deal with the GOP- controlled Senate.

It's run by someone who amplified election conspiracy theories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not here to audit Mr. Logan's opinions about anything. We are here to audit the ballots, envelopes, everything that was involved in the Maricopa election in November 2020.

MURRAY: Cyber Ninja CEO Doug Logan immediately coming under fire after Arizona reporters unearth since deleted retweets from Logan like this one, in which someone claims -- you may discover Trump cut 200K more votes than previously reported in Arizona. Logan was also listed as an expert witness in a Michigan lawsuit that

reiterated the unfounded claim that there was election fraud connected to Dominion Voting Systems.

Adding to the partisan tenor, the right-wing One American News Network is not only live streaming the event but its hosts also help raise funds for the audit.

All of this sparking an outcry from election integrity groups, Democrats and some GOP county officials. The point of its partisan nature, restrictions on outside election observers, limited information about who will conduct a hand count, and opaque plans to protect election materials beyond claims of 24/7 security and recordings of the proceedings.

If Arizona Senate Republicans are looking to reassure all voters about election integrity, Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsberg says this isn't the right approach.

BEN GINSBERG, ELECTION LAWYER: Thirty or 35 percent of our population doesn't believe in election results. That is a ticking time bomb for the country. But the Arizona Senate Republicans have made a huge mistake in the people who they have hired to do this audit because they are tainted by partisan leanings, but what they've said in the past.


MURRAY (on camera): Now just to give you an idea of how controversial this audit is, Maricopa County supervisors who are predominantly Republican in overseeing the elections have refused to participate at all in this audit. They are standing by the integrity of the election results, that show that Joe Biden nearly carried Maricopa County.

BOLDUAN: Great report, Sara. If you all at home were shaking your head in disbelief, that this continues as Sara was going through her reporting, you're not alone.

Great report, Sara, thanks.

OUTFRONT next, breaking news, CDC panel has just voted to recommend resuming use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine, with the caveat.

And also, former Olympian and reality star Caitlin Jenner announces she is running for governor of California.



BOLDUAN: We do have breaking news tonight. The CDC and the FDA have lifted a pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine. The J&J vaccine rollout has been paused, as you well know, for nearly two weeks now, so researchers, they could spend the time to investigate a potential linked to rare, but serious, blood clots. The FDA will be issuing an updated label, alerting women under the age of 50, of the wrist of blood clots associated with the vaccine.

We're going to get back to the story in just a second.

But tonight, former Olympian and reality TV star, Caitlin Jenner, is running for California. The longtime Republican is hoping to replace Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in an unexpected recall election later this year.

Jenner announcing early today, tweeting this: I'm in. California is worth fighting for.

A source involved with Jenner's campaign says that general run as a socially liberal, fiscally conservative Republican.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT in Los Angeles for more on this.

Kyung, assuming there is, in fact, a recall. What are generous chances here?


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, you can't look at Caitlin Jenner without looking at the numbers here in California. And those numbers are continuing to get better, and better, for California governor, Gavin Newsom. The positivity rate is way down, vaccinations are, up kids are going back into school. The state is talking about fully reopening by June 15th.

And so, those numbers, including his poll numbers, which currently say, 56 percent of Californians would vote to keep him? They're starting to look better and better for him.

But, and here is the big but, Kate, is that you cannot take a reality star with no political experience for granted, especially here in California. The governor's office, certainly, understands that after experiencing Donald Trump. So, that's why you're seeing this sort of statement from the governor's political campaign.

The governor's office, the campaign arm of the governor's campaign says, quote, we always knew the republic could recall would be a ludicrous circus full of Trump supporters.

The reason you are seeing that tied to Trump supporters is, because, the governor is anxious to tie Jenner, and anyone who is a possible Republican challenger, to Donald Trump, who's exceptionally unpopular here. He lost this state in 2020 by -- Joe Biden doubled the amount of people who voted for Donald Trump, here in the state of California.

So, certainly, Kate, can't take them for granted. That's what we hear from the governor's campaign people. But certainly, they are going to be watching this -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Now, a lot more people are going to be watching as well.

Thanks, Kyung. OUTFRONT next, we solved our technical problems, and we're going to

talk to Dr. Jonathan Reiner about a CDC panel and the important decision they made today. That they are now recommending -- the CDC panel just voting to recommend resuming the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine. We'll be right back.



BURNETT: Breaking news, as we discussed before the break, the CDC and FDA now lifting the pause on Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine. Now, it will come with a warning for women under the age of 50.

OUTFRONT with me now is Dr. Jonathan Reiner, cardiologist to advise the White House medical team under President George W. Bush.

Dr. Reiner, what do you think of this decision?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think it is the right decision. The J&J vaccine is a really effective vaccine. It has a lot of benefits compared to the mRNA vaccines. It's very easy to transport, it can -- it can remain in a refrigerator without a deep freeze for months at a time. It's only a single shot. So, it really amplifies our ability to get vaccines into arms.

The risk of thrombosis is really low. The CDC committee found 15 cases out of almost 8 million shots. That is about a few cases of thrombosis per million shots. So, it's very, very safe.

Just to put this in perspective, the risk of thrombosis from COVID-19 itself is around 16 percent. So, you're, you know, many orders of magnitude more likely to get a cloth from the virus itself, then you are from the vaccine.

I think they made the right decision. Adding a caution in the label allows docs and providers to discuss in detail with patients.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. On the overall vaccine effort, Doctor, Republican Senator Ron Johnson is sticking his neck out again, questioning the public health push to get everyone vaccinated. Let me play for you what he said in the new radio interview.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): From my standpoint, because it's not a fully approved vaccine, I think we probably should have limited the distribution to the vulnerable. To people that really aren't, you know, to the very young, I see no reason to be pushing vaccines on people.


BOLDUAN: Johnson's a Republican. We know that vaccine hesitancy is a real problem among Republicans, and we know he isn't a doctor, and definitely isn't an expert. But is he doing damage? REINER: Yes, I think he is doing damage. Look, I don't understand what

Senator Johnson doesn't understand about vaccines. We vaccinate people in this pandemic, in this national emergency, not just to reduce illness among the most vulnerable, but to reduce illness in the population, and to prevent this virus from spreading, to prevent the virus from mutating, and to put it away, once and for all.

Senator Johnson is not really known for his wisdom. He once said that Obamacare was the greatest assault on American freedom. So, I really discount what he says.

This is the time to vaccinate the entire country and pushing for really universal vaccination isn't an infringement on the freedom of Americans. This is a way to open up the freedom for all Americans, by putting this virus down, once and for all.

BOLDUAN: We don't have much time left, but I did want to ask, you tweeted something about how you went home this morning after treating a COVID patient, and had to wash away the last 14 months, you basically said. You've had it with this virus.

What is it about this day?

REINER: Yeah, it's a long 14 months for every person in the United States who works in a hospital, or health care settings. It -- this virus has put American health care workers at risk, every single day, and after spending the evening taking care of a person, having a heart attack with active COVID, it just got to me. I stood in the shower for a long time --

BOLDUAN: Understand that.

REINER: -- thinking about where we've been, and how we need to put this away once and for all.

BOLDUAN: Doctor, thank you so much.

Thank you all so much for joining us tonight.

"AC360" starts now.

Anderson, I know you're picking up on this breaking news, and this very important development Johnson & Johnson tonight.