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Erin Burnett Outfront
At Least One Search Warrant on Rudy Giuliani's Home, Office Sought Evidence Related to Firing of U.S. Ambassador; Daily Beast: Gaetz Associate Wrote in Letter that Congressman Paid for Sex with Minor; Gaetz Spokesperson Denies Allegations; GOP Rift Plays Out in Texas Special Election Tomorrow; McConnell Wades Into Culture Wars, Slams 1619 Project; California Governor Faces Recall After Criticism Over COVID Restrictions; U.S. Restricting Travel from COVID-Ravaged India. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 30, 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: To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. You can always tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Remember, our new time 6 pm Eastern Monday through Friday.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the federal investigation into Rudy Giuliani intensifying. Giuliani railing tonight against the federal probe that led to an FBI raid of his home and office, could also lead to big trouble for Donald Trump.
Plus, a damning revelation. The Daily Beast obtaining a letter from a close friend of Matt Gaetz. The letter claims that Gaetz paid for sex with a minor. The reporter who broke the story is my guest.
And a Texas special election set for tomorrow. Only one Republican in the crowded field is standing up to Trump. Is his message going anywhere? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Rudy Giuliani not backing down despite an escalating federal investigation. The former Trump attorney says it's all politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Obviously the Assistant U.S. Attorneys hate me, and they hate Trump - which is probably the whole thing. I mean to believe that I'm some kind of Russian agent - look at my career, I mean look at my background and my career.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, here's what we do know thus far, the Feds are looking into whether Giuliani illegally lobbied on behalf of Ukrainian officials while he was trying to dig up dirt on Trump's biggest political rival, Joe Biden and this is a very serious charge. On its own, it could carry up to five years in prison.
And of course, anything that investigators find as part of this warrant that is illegal, that is completely separate from what the warrant is for, they also can have the right to prosecute. So, this is Pandora's box.
But there's just something about what Giuliani just said there because he is right about one thing, he did once have a very impressive career and then a stunning and stupefying downfall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: A situation like this, a tragedy like this instills lots of feelings of anger and hatred and I'd ask the people of the city not to have those feelings right now or ever.
OPRAH WINFREY, AMERICAN HOST: The day since this devastating attack has led him to be called America's mayor. He's the Mayor of New York City. Ladies and gentlemen, Rudy Giuliani.
GIULIANI: If we're wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we are right, a lot of them will go to jail. So let's have trial by combat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And the insurrection ensued.
Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT live in Washington. Alex, this investigation is escalating tonight and, of course, we do know that it has been going on for quite some time. It's not nascent. They got a lot of information already, what more can you tell us?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is escalating and rather quickly, Erin. The question of what in particular the federal prosecutors are looking for is now becoming clear. Prosecutors who by the way Giuliani continues to insult and accuse of all sorts of things as you heard there.
Investigators are reportedly looking into Giuliani's mission to get rid of the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and whose interest he was serving. That Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, you may remember her name later testified in President Trump's first impeachment proceedings and she made clear that she thought Giuliani was out to get her.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): When federal agents swooped in this week, raiding the New York apartment and office of Rudy Giuliani, they were reportedly trying to zero in on the role that Giuliani played in ousting the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. According to The New York Times, one search warrant stated that it was seeking evidence related to the Yovanovitch ouster. FBI agents seized Giuliani's electronic devices to investigate communication he had with Ukrainians about the effort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: That warrant is completely illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT (voice-over): On Fox News, Giuliani denied that he was acting on behalf of Ukrainians and blasted the prosecutors' decision to search his home and office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: There was no justification for that warrant. It is an illegal, unconstitutional warrant. One of many that this department of injustice tragically has done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney met with Ukrainian officials as he attempted to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, his boss's chief political rival. Giuliani's conversations with Ukrainians also centered around their desire to remove Ambassador Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who Giuliani believed was hindering his efforts to dig up dirt on Biden.
During the first impeachment of Donald Trump, Yovanovitch accused Giuliani of mounting a smear campaign against her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I do not understand Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he's brought about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Giuliani's efforts worked. Trump was convinced and Yovanovitch was removed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you need her out of the way.
GIULIANI: I didn't need her out of the way, I forced her out because she's corrupt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT (on camera): And we know that one of Giuliani's main Ukrainian contacts to dig up dirt on Joe Biden was a lawmaker named Andriy Derkach. And he, according to U.S. Intelligence, was a Russian agent. Now, Erin, sources have told CNN that while Giuliani was working with various Ukrainians, the Trump administration was warned that some of the information being given to Giuliani was from foreign intelligence.
So of course, it's very hard to believe that Giuliani wouldn't have known that there were very serious concerns about those people he was working with, Erin.
BURNETT: It would seem impossible. All right. Alex, thank you very much.
So let's go to Michael Gerhadt now, Law Professor at the University of North Carolina who testified during Trump's first impeachment hearings, of course, Ukraine central to that and Abby Phillip, CNN Senior Political Correspondent and the Anchor of INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Thanks to both.
So Professor Gerhadt, let me start on what we know so far about this investigation. When you take all of these pieces, how likely is it, do you think, that Rudy Giuliani will be indicted?
MICHAEL GERHADT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's likely. I think that perhaps I could even say very likely. The fact that the subpoena has - excuse me, the fact that the warrant has been executed is an important event and usually that follows the fact that prosecutors already have good evidence of some kind of crime and they're just looking for further proof of it to underscore their case.
And the more Giuliani talks, the more I think he gets himself into legal trouble. The more he basically admits that he was acting without any kind of authority, interfering not just with the presidential election, but operating as a foreign agent without having registered himself. So I think the more he talks, the more he was reflecting his own guilt and I think the fact that the prosecutors now have his electronic devices probably puts them in possession of critical evidence.
BURNETT: So, Abby, Giuliani and his allies are fighting back. So, they're now saying, well, this is all politically motivated. It's all about Trump. They're saying Biden is lying that he didn't know about the ray. They said the federal judge who signed off on it is corrupt, because he was an Obama-appointee. This is what they're doing. Here's Andrew Giuliani, Rudy's son, last night on this show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: You have proof that no other judge would sign the warrant?
A GIULIANI: I don't have any proof, but do you have proof that any other judge would sign the warrant?
BURNETT: Well, I do have a faith in our system, and I trust the Trump judges who turned down effort after effort by your father and the president to overturn election results in states across this country. Many of those were Trump-appointed judges. A GIULIANI: I read over 200 affidavits. That's all I will say about
that. But the truth is, I'm shocked now that the FBI would do this. When my father and Bob Costello, his lawyer, we're actually cooperating with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Abby, I mean, well, it's corrupt or just you throw anything out there to see if it sticks, right? But the problem is, is that putting the facts aside that show it all to be not true, there's a large population latching on to narratives of corruption, right? So putting it out there is very dangerous, isn't it?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, look, they're putting it out there because they know that there are a lot of people who will believe virtually anything that they say. But, of course, we all know that this investigation began under the Trump administration. So, the idea that it was concocted by Biden appointees doesn't make any sense. But, again, these are the same people who continued even to this day to spread massive election lies about the last election.
This is part of a sort of big lie narrative that they sell to their supporters and unfortunately many of them do buy it. You see it in the poll numbers, a majority of Republican voters buy a lot of what former President Trump and his allies say about the election and I wouldn't be surprised about this too.
BURNETT: See Professor Gerhadt, Giuliani insists all of his activities in Ukraine were conducted on behalf of Donald Trump. This is hugely significant, because the warrant itself is to Rudy Giuliani register for what he was doing. But, of course, the what he was doing, if there's anything in there that is illegal in any way, is now going to be a fair game, nothing illegal is protected by attorney-client privilege or anything like that. So he has said, everything he did was for Donald Trump. What do you think this means for Trump?
GERHADT: Well, I think it means that Trump is basically stuck by Rudy's side throughout this entire investigation and if there's a trial, the same would be true for that. Trump basically has made it impossible to think of all this situation without Trump in it. And as you just pointed out, quite rightly, whatever Rudy Giuliani was doing, he was doing it at the request of Donald Trump.
That's why he was in Ukraine. He wasn't there, obviously, on vacation. He was there to do Trump's bidding. And the problem is he was operating without actual formal authority.
President Trump doesn't have the authority to name some private citizen to replace his state department, that's problematic and that's what was happening. And Rudy was not just communicating with people that were pushing Russian propaganda. Rudy was trying to remove somebody who had the most ideal reputation, a person of enormous integrity. And so when he talks about it, he's basically lying, as we just
pointed out. Not just lies about the election, but lies about every aspect of this case, every aspect of the situation and I think Trump is going to go down with Rudy the more Rudy keeps lying, outrageously about not just his conduct, but about the integrity of the Justice Department.
BURNETT: I mean, Abby, this is the thing. This does raise huge risk for Trump. Huge risk for Trump. Rudy knows a lot and he could be staring, again, I keep saying at the least, because this foreign lobbying registration thing, whatever people want to say about it, the term there is up to five years in prison and that's separate from anything else that they could find. I mean, this would be very serious if they go ahead with charges and Trump's got to be worried.
PHILLIP: Well, I think Trump has a lot of legal worries ahead of him. You know, one of the things that we don't know, though, is what is it that Rudy Giuliani could provide that is of value to federal officials in terms of something that might implicate former President Trump. We just don't know that yet.
It's possible that it could exist in those electronic records and whatever was seized from his apartment. But that's the kind of a black box that we don't have the answers to yet. I do think, though, that this is a really different situation from what we saw with Michael Cohen.
At that time when Michael Cohen's office was raided, President Trump was facing the Mueller investigation, potential impeachment. This time around, it's not clear what is out there that will be of legal risk in this particular case. But there are a lot of other cases involving financial dealings in New York that are a real problem for former President Trump.
BURNETT: Right. Thank you very much, Abby, Professor Gerhadt, to both.
And next The Daily Beast obtaining a letter from an associate of Matt Gaetz who writes that the Republican Congressman paid for sex with multiple women including a minor. The reporter who broke the story is here. Plus, a special election in Texas tomorrow hits 11 Republicans against each other. But can the only candidate with this message win?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's time for us to move past Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: And the U.S. about to begin restricting travel from India as the situation in the world's second most populous nation grows more dire by the hour.
[19:16:51] BURNETT: Tonight, a central figure in the ongoing investigation into
Congressman Matt Gaetz claims the Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women, including one who was 17 at the time. So this new reporting is coming from The Daily Beast which got a letter, a letter from Gaetz's associate Joel Greenberg, in which Greenberg writes, in part, "From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who is not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, CashApp or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman."
According to the report, the letter was drafted after Greenberg asked Roger Stone, a close ally of former President Donald Trump for help obtaining a pardon, because, of course, he is facing significant likely prison time with many of the charges are facing him if convicted, Mr. Greenberg is.
OUTFRONT now, Roger Sollenberger, one of the reporters who broke the story for The Daily Beast. So Roger, look, this is a fascinating report. I hope of anyone at the end of this interview will go and read your entire report in full. I want to mention, I haven't seen the letter from Greenberg, no one here at CNN has, so we can't verify the story. But I know you actually have a copy, so tell me more.
ROGER SOLLENBERGER, REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. So we got this letter. We have several versions of it. One of them is handwritten, an initial handwritten draft and we got that handwriting verified by a handwriting and forensic document analyst who compared it to some other public records that we're able to pull from Greenberg. And this analyst said that, well, the confession letter and these other documents were written, in fact, by the same person. So we do know this came from Greenberg.
And in this letter, he says that he and Gaetz also paid to have sex with women, including a 17-year-old girl, yes.
BURNETT: So Greenberg's works attorney, I should note, declined to comment on the story to CNN. He cited the attorney-client privilege. But Greenberg, as we know, is a former county tax commissioner. He's facing multiple federal charges ranging from identity theft to sex trafficking of a minor.
So as I said, he's staring at the potential of decades in prison. There are reasons not to trust what he says. But from what you report, the letter that he wrote, it's very detailed about the girls' age, it's very detailed about Gaetz's response when Gaetz was informed, oh, my gosh, she's 17. It's very detailed about they went to her and said, you can't do this. You should have told us you were 18.
And then you have details when she turned 18, immediately, Matt Gaetz is back, she's back in this scheme. So putting all this together, what credibility do you put in the letter?
SOLLENBERGER: Well, we know some other things too, so my colleague Jose Pagliery and I have been reporting on this for a couple of weeks.
SOLLENBERGER: And a couple of weeks ago, we broke a story that there are Venmo payments that show that Greenberg can pay this one in, right? And this 17-year-old that he says, oh, no, she's 17 and he was shocked, and he says he immediately called Gaetz and told him and that Gates was shocked.
Well, just a few months later, we had a Venmo payment from gates to Greenberg that says hit up blank. And the blank in this case was the girl's nickname. We know that Greenberg has paid that same girl a year ago too. And then Greenberg turns around, takes Gaetz's money and pays it to three women, including the 17-year-old girl.
So Greenberg says he cut off contact until she was 18. Five months after she turned 18 they were right back in contact with her and paying her money.
BURNETT: Look, it's sick if all of this pans out as they the investigators check it. So a spokesperson for Gaetz told us in a statement, I quote, "Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with a 17-year-old as an adult. Politico has reported Mr. Greenberg's threats to make false accusations against others, and while The Daily Beast story contains a lot of confessions from Mr. Greenberg, it does not add anything of substance and certainly no evidence for the wild and false claims about Representative Gaetz. In fact, the story goes some way to showing how Representative Gaetz was long out of touch with Mr. Greenberg and had no interest in involving himself in Mr. Greenberg's affairs."
I just wanted to give you a chance to respond to that statement.
SOLLENBERGER: We include that in our report, right.
SOLLENBERGER: We also pointed out that Politico story does not say that Greenberg was threatening to tell lies about any of his friends. He was just saying that everyone needs a (inaudible). But, yes, I think that the falling out, apparently falling out between getting Greenberg also seems to have come to a surprise to Greenberg as a surprise as well. So in the text messages between Greenberg and Roger Stone that we have, Greenberg repeatedly expresses surprise that Gaetz is not trying to help him get this pardon.
And at the end of all these exchanges, Roger Stone tells Greenberg the same thing. He says, what I still can't figure out is why Matt Gaetz wouldn't help me. And Greenberg says - he says, wow, he wouldn't help. As a (ph) to that, months later, just in late March, Matt Gaetz, his campaign pays Roger Stone's company, Drake Ventures for strategic political consulting. And less than a week later, we have the first New York Times report and all of a sudden Gaetz is ready to counterpunch with a very Roger Stoney deep state conspiracy extortion scheme against him. BURNETT: Right. OK. Which is really interesting context here, because
Roger Stone told our Chris Cuomo that he didn't help. He doesn't buy the story. He never took any money from anybody. He doesn't recall the letter. Never heard of Greenberg implicating Gaetz, on and on and on. So what's your response to these denials from Stone? Because obviously, you have a lot of specifics that would seem to - that obviously, would make all the things I just listed false.
SOLLENBERGER: Well, if you actually look at what stone says, they're very narrow denials, right?
SOLLENBERGER: I don't think he's actually denied anything in the report. (Inaudible) give him some wiggle room to make the claims in the report comport with those denials and he has not said that these text messages don't exist. He says that they were possibly edited or out of context or out ordered, there's no way he could know that, because we haven't shown him all of the texts that we have.
But, yes, his denial is pretty specific. Also, I'd like to point out that he has - seems to confirm actually some key elements here. He confirms that Greenberg did talked to him about getting a pardon. He also confirms notably that Greenberg did share with him a document right, 'document', that explains I think what Stone characterized as the prosecution, the charges against him and that would seem to also comport with the document that we have.
BURNETT: Right. Well, look, it is it is fascinating stuff and as you say, you've got all these Venmo - there's no need to rely on what Greenberg says, they can now go check and verify and it's going to be there. I just emphasized it to everybody so they understand. I mean, the prison time that you would be looking at for sex with a minor or trafficking a minor, it's a long, long time. All right. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time, Roger.
SOLLENBERGER: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. And next, voters about to head to the polls in Texas to decide the soul of the Republican Party. So which message will prevail?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN RODIMER, (R) TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: President Trump is still the leader of the Republican Party.
MICHAEL WOOD, (R) TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: This isn't what the Republican Party should be ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Plus, Mitch McConnell, wading into the culture war over America's past and what students across this country will be taught about slavery.
BURNETT: Tonight, a fight for the future of the GOP breaking out in a special congressional election in Texas that's happening tomorrow. And of the 11 Republicans running, only one is campaigning on the anti- Trump message. Does he have any chance to win? Donie O'Sullivan is OUTFRONT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RODIMER: President Trump is still the leader of the Republican Party. I don't think he's going to go anywhere ever.
WOOD: The big lie that President Trump has said since Election Day and January 6th, they really shook me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: A battle for the soul of the Republican Party playing out in a special election in Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'SULLIVAN(off camera): You're concerned about the direction of the party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
O'SULLIVAN(off camera): What do you mean?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's time for us to move past Donald Trump. I think that ...
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): OK. That's going to be my question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, good.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): (Inaudible) I didn't like the man, I don't like the man (inaudible) ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I think a lot of people like us have been in a really hard position these past four years. Like I felt like I had to vote for him in November, just because the Democrats have gotten so far to the left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): There are almost a dozen Republicans running here to fill the House seat left by Congressman Ron Wright who died after contracting COVID-19 in February.
But Michael Wood stands alone being the only Republican candidate to run with an explicitly anti-Trump message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOOD: And I felt like I had to stand up -- somebody needed to stand up and say, this isn't what the Republican Party should be and we've got to go in a different direction.
O'SULLIVAN: This is a district that has been largely Republican but in recent years shown signs of turning blue. There are 10 Democrats running the race that's expected to go to one up with the top two finishers regardless of party.
O'SULLIVAN: You're talking to people telling a lot of voters that the election wasn't stolen. Now, these sort of conspiracy theories like QAnon are all B.S. What has the reaction been like on the ground when you are speaking to voters here?
WOOD: I've had people who are actually there on January 6th come up to me, you know just shaking mad that I am saying the sort of things, that I'm saying about that day and also about President Trump. But I do think that there's about 30 to 35 percent of the party that is open to this message that wants somebody to stand up and stand for this message.
O'SULLIVAN: That is a small minority of the Republican Party. What is happening to your party?
WOOD: I don't know. I'm really concerned about it.
DAN RODIMER (R), TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Doing dirtiest job in the world, professional wrestling, politician, (INAUDIBLE).
WOOD: Another Republicans here are firmly on the Trump train, like, Dan Rodimer, a former wrestler.
Michael Wood says, you know, what you are embracing here, MAGA, what Trump is all about is bad for the Republican Party, bad for the country. What do you say to that?
RODIMER: I disagree with him. I don't think he has any chance of winning unfortunately. He's a great guy, but he's a veteran, but I believe that President Trump's agenda, America First agenda was great with the route we were going.
WOOD: Trump endorsed Congressman Ron Wright's widow, Susan Wright, who's running to fill her late husband's seat, giving a late boost to her candidacy in a crowded filled, yet Wright has not fully lead into MAGA in her campaigning, instead focusing more on her husband's legacy.
SUSAN WRIGHT (R), TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: And his priorities for strong national defense, strong orders, life and individual liberty.
DAVID ROSEBERRY, EARLY VOTER: I'm voting for Susan Wright.
O'SULLIVAN: Michael Wood, he's a Republican and he's voting saying that Republicans need to forget about Trump. What did you think about?
ROSEBERRY: Well, I don't think he's got to make a lot of headway. I just think that too much of the party is still very much ingrain with Donald Trump's values.
O'SULLIVAN: Michael Wood and Dan Rodimer represent two opposite poles of the Republican Party in a debate that will define the future of the GOP. Wood might have a little success, but his campaign could build a blueprint for anti-Trump Republicans in the 2022 midterms.
TERRI DAVIS, EARLY VOTER: And while I tend to vote Democrat, I thought, you know, because I'm not huge on a party. I'm huge on what they're standing for. When you put a Republican who is interested and changing the direction of the Republican Party going in, I thought that was good.
O'SULLIVAN: There's a Trump 2024 flag right over there behind the candidates, what goes through your mind when you see it?
DAVIS: It almost feels like it is intentionally oppressive to somebody that looks like me.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): And, you know, Erin, it's quite telling when you hear what Michael Wood is saying. He is saying that the election wasn't rigged. It wasn't in fact Antifa that stormed the Capitol on January 6th. He is telling the truth.
And the fact that that is controversial position to take in the Republican Party right now is very, very telling about how pervasive conspiracy theories and the big lie is the GOP -- Erin.
BURNETT: Incredible as always. Donie, thank you very much, I appreciate it.
O'SULLIVAN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And on the back of Donie's report, I want to bring in Matthew Dowd, longtime Texas Republican and chief strategist for the 2004 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign.
So, Matthew, looking at this race which, you know, again just emphasizing something that Donie made at the top of his piece is happening because a congressional representative died of COVID. One of the Republican candidates, only one, only one of 11, is running an anti-Trump message. He's seen as a very long shot.
Does that surprise you at all?
MATTHEW DOWD, CHIEF STRATEGIST, BUSH-CHENEY '04 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: No. It doesn't surprise me at all. I know actually this area very well. Back when I had more here and was much younger, I did a state race for a Democrat, in much of that area of the race.
It doesn't surprise me. Donald Trump still has 80 to 85 percent popularity among Americans. He's somebody that still represents what the party is. This is where the voters are, as I've said before, Trump is an effective or the voters, are not a cause of where the voters are.
The interesting about this case which is why there is still some mystery is, there's so many candidates running on both sides of the aisle, north of 20 candidates from both sides of the aisle, and Texas has this unique situation like many Southern states, where you can get 17 percent of the vote and get it in a runoff.
And that's likely. If you get, 16, 17, 20 percent of the vote you could be in a run up.
Is there enough of a sort of anti-Trump in the Republican Party? Is there 15 or 20 percent of the vote among Republicans who are tired of Donald Trump and want to move in a different direction and believe that truth matters and integrity matters?
There may be in that race. But that still doesn't mean that 80 or 85 percent of the party has completely bought wholesale into the big lie about wholesale into sort of all of Donald Trump thinks, he says and does, they are completely part of that program but I think that the results will be interesting because there's so many candidates running.
BURNETT: I think that the last point that you make is really significant but even if the long shot does go to a runoff, don't read into that more than you should. Just looking at, you know, the way that the votes can be split up.
So when you talk about the Republican Party though, Liz Cheney, congresswoman, of course, is under fire again from members of her own party and the latest issue drawn ire is her this fist bump with President Biden before his joint session to congress. Cheney issued this tweet in response to those slamming her for that moment.
Quote: I disagree strongly with Joe Biden's policies but when the president greets me in the chamber of the House of U.S. Representatives I will always respond in a simple, respectful, and dignified way. We're different political parties. We're not sworn enemies. We're Americans.
Do you think that Liz Cheney can remain in the current Republican Party, Matthew?
DOWD: No. I think she has no influence at all in the Republican Party. She may have, some ideas that they buy into on foreign policy, but even, that they have sort of moved past all of the sort of Cheney foreign policy and they are on a whole different track on that. I don't think she can.
Does she keep her position in the party in the leadership? She might because it's just easier to let that happen. But she no longer has any influence in this party.
The people like Liz Cheney are less popular than people like Marjorie Taylor Greene in the Republican Party today. And that tells you everything that you need to know but the Republican Party today. What's fascinating to me and all of these things Erin, because you cover all of this stuff, the small story always tells a bigger narrative.
And the small story here is that unless you are willing to lie to Republican voters, and not tell them the truth, you have no influence of the party and you are no longer part of the Republican Party. So, basically, the table stakes for being a Republican in leadership or being a Republican of any influence at all nationally or even in states, is you have to be willing to lie to their base. And unless you're -- if you're not willing to lie, you have no part of the base.
BURNETT: It's incredible. Terrifying litmus test. Thank you very much, Matt.
BURNETT: And next, Mitch McConnell taking sides on a culture war about how schools teach the history of slavery. Does McConnell's argument add up?
Kamau Bell, host of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" responds next. We're going to get a hint of how he's going to feel.
Plus, some workers who risked their lives during the pandemic are now at risk of losing their jobs. Why?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can hold his hand on his heart and think a little bit about the workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wading into the culture wars with a scathing letter against the 1619 Project. The 1619 Project was launched by "The New York Times". It reframes American history around the date of August 16th, 1919, which is one of the first slave ship arrived in the United States.
OK. So to re-frame history through that lens has launched a fierce debate over the legacy that slavery has played in shaping this country and its treatment of black citizens. The Biden administration has embraced it in some ways by proposing to offer grant programs to states and local schools incentivizing them to use the 1619 program in classrooms. But he's not made it mandatory.
Joining me now is Kamau Bell, host of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA".
So, Kamau, McConnell wrote to the education secretary, Miguel Cardona, condemning the curriculum in schools. He argues its revisionist history and he says, quote, families did not ask for this divisive nonsense. Voters did not vote for it.
Americans never decided that our children should be taught that our country is inherently evil. What's your response to that?
W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": Well, yeah, actually, voters did vote for it when they voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and against one of the most divisive presidents in this nation's history if not the most divisive. And, right now, I'm old enough to remember January 6th which is proof that we don't all have the same facts about goes in this country and Mitch McConnell's party right now is perpetuating the big lie and they're literally counting votes in Arizona even though that election has been over for months.
So, absolutely voted for and against all that. And Mitch McConnell has got a lot bigger problems than this. He's trying to use this to distract from all his Matt Gaetz problems and all of his Marjorie Greene Taylor problems, and all the fact that Donald Trump is still the leader of the party problem, so this is all just distractions. He couldn't start the war in Christmas earlier.
BURNETT: You know, I think it's a really interesting point, by the way, that you're saying just in general, that a lot of these quote/unquote culture wars are distractions from really serious issues, and I think that is really important.
Let me ask you one other thing because I think a lot of people are talking about this, right, and thinking about it. So, the original "New York Times" 1619 Project included a core claim that the U.S. revolution, the Revolutionary War, itself was launched in part to maintain slavery. "The Times" came under a lot of criticism from historians about that. They later issued a clarification saying it was not the primary motivation for all of the columnist.
But Damon Linker, a senior columnist of "The Week" just wrote recently the 1619 Projects still exemplifies, quote, one-sided and dogmatic style of history. That can be part of a curriculum, but not it's score. Please don't do this. We will all regret it.
What is your response to that?
BELL: I mean, me and everybody who went to school and I went to school is regarding the history we were taught where the settlers were the heroes. The colonizers were the heroes, and the natives were and we swept off the land because they did not what they were doing with it and, you know, they are still talking about how in different parts of the country where the slaves were happy, and they have food. I regret all of that.
So whatever -- whatever we are talking about here, history has not been taught accurately in this country. If it needs an overcorrectness into focusing on that part, then I'm all here for it.
BURNETT: Interesting point. OK. So this season premier of your show, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA", obviously couldn't be more timely because when the first episode, Kamau, you go to Oakland, your hometown, where you are tonight.
BELL: Yeah, I went over there, I went over there.
BURENTT: Yeah, you went outside.
BELL: For a look -- an intensive look at police brutality in America.
Here's a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BELL: Is this moment different? As far as like where we are in America? Specifically around law enforcement?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, it is just this moment of being a black man, in a police uniform, right? There are some problems, some systemic problems, at least for a very long time that you know, needed to be rooted out.
So, you sit in this place where you're like, do I fit in, right? Sometimes you even asked the question, do I fit in? A black man, before I put on the uniform, and when I take it off, why you got it all, right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I think that is so fascinating to talk to them, as human beings. That is what they are. Every officer is, just like every one of us citizens. So, I know you talked to a lot of police officers, you talk to police reform activists, many of them say law enforcement, at its core, is inherently racist. But when you have conversations with cops who are African American, how do they feel about that? Do they also feel it is inherently racist?
BELL: Well, yeah, I mean many officers will admit, that many black officers will admit it, but as we've seen, they're also stuck in this position right now, that the system is racist. So, like for example, that man is the current chief of police of the Oakland Police Department.
He still has to deal with the racist police unions that protect its members, and don't protect the community. Again, this is why it's about reinventing the system. You can't change the system one person at a time.
BURNETT: So, talk to me a bit more, OK, I'm not -- we're out of time. But I hope -- I hope everyone, Kamau, will watch the new season of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA". It's Sunday night at 10:00, and we get to see that off some episode.
So, thanks so much, Kamau. I love talking to you. And next, a grocery chain that made billions last year, shutting
stores because it affords it can't afford the hero pay for its frontline workers.
And the U.S. about to restrict travel from India. It sounds like it's kind of way too late. The country, reporting another record number of new cases and on the verge of collapse.
BURNETT: Tonight, California Governor Gavin Newsom is facing a recall election. Newsom has faced heavy criticism for his COVID restrictions. It comes as major cities, in a state, including Los Angeles, are facing grocery store closures, to the local mandates that require them to pay workers hero pay, which is an extra $5 an hour.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Food 4 Less grocery store in East Hollywood, California, the value of the essential worker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The right to hero pay for risking their lives --
LAH: -- is what's on the line.
They are trying to keep the store open. It is among the half dozen Kroger stories, the grocer announced, would close on the West Coast, after cities like Los Angeles, mandated temporary hazard pay, so- called hero pay. To help frontline workers, for a few months during the pandemic, workers, like Nelsy Cifuentes us.
NELSY CIFUENTES, FOOD 4 LESS EMPLOYEE: I have 3 kids.
LAH: She makes $15.30 an hour, and will soon lose her job at the store.
CIFUENTES: It's not fair, for everyone, it's not fair.
LAH: Kroger says the extra $5 for workers will cost nearly $20 million, over 4 months. Saying, it is impossible to operate these stores.
JULIAN AGUAYO, FOOD 4 LESS EMPLOYEE: Trust me, if it wasn't for the workers, if it wasn't for all of us, they would not be making $21 million.
LAH: He is talking about Kroger CEO, Rodney McMullen, who salary in 2019 was more than $21.1 million, while his workers average around $27,000. That is almost 800 times what his workers make on average.
McMullen and S&P 500 CEOs have made more money on average during the pandemic than ever before. Data from research firm, MylogiQ shows in 2020, while the U.S. hit record unemployment, CEOs got paid a median salary of about $14 million, and 11.5 percent increase, from 2019.
Paycom Software paid its CEO about 3,000 times more than its average worker. General Electric, about 1,400 times more. Starbucks, 1,200 times more.
While workers say CEO, certainly, have tough jobs, they're not the ones who are on the line working through the pandemic.
Nelsy Cifuentes still fears bringing COVID home from work, and infecting her young children. Her union says, at least 158 grocery workers nationwide have died from COVID. She wishes her CEO would think about that more.
CIFUENTES: I think a little bit about workers, we worked so hard for the community.
LAH: There is little sign that Kroger, which posted a $2.8 billion dollar operating profit in 2020, will change its mind about closing Cifuentes's store. And the CEO class is on track for another record year for their pay.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.
BURNETT: And next, the situation in India growing more dire tonight, bodies are burning, and people are left fighting for oxygen, and hospital beds.
BURNETT: The U.S. just announced it will restrict travel from India starting Tuesday in response to the catastrophe there as COVID is ravaging the country.
The move by the Biden administration coming after other countries have imposed similar restrictions. Canada, Hong Kong, and New Zealand have suspended all commercial trouble with India.
The suffering is staggering. It's seen almost everywhere in the country. There is little hope right now that the situation is going to get better either.
Case numbers were up Friday for the night day in a row. More than 386,000 setting another daily record according to CNN's tally of figures from the health ministry.
And just -- I want to be clear here. That's the case as we know about, right? The testing there is not anywhere near widespread. The true numbers likely are greater than what I just said and funeral fires are burning night and day. People have to get tickets, tickets in order to dispose of loved ones'
bodies. There is a line at crematoriums. And people crowding the streets competing for oxygen and hospital beds, both nearly nonexistent.
The desperate really cannot breathe. We're looking at the fortunate who managed to access oxygen on the street for a few minutes or a little longer, if they're lucky. Literally, just on the street.
All right. Well, thank you for joining us.
It's time now for Anderson.