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Erin Burnett Outfront

Confusion Mounts As Cities, States, Businesses Grapple With Whether To Align With CDC On Masks Or Break With Guidelines; Interview with Mayor Quinton Lucas (D), Kansas City, MO; Bitter Feud Erupts As Controversial AZ Election Audit Goes On; Gaetz Ally Formally Pleads Guilty To Six Federal Charges; White House: Biden Expressed "Support For A Ceasefire" In Netanyahu Call. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 17, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The cause was not disclosed. Our deepest condolences to his family. May he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, mask confusion. The CDC's new guidance leaving states and businesses to go it alone. Does the administration at risk of reversing the gains made during the pandemic?

Plus, Matt Gaetz's wing man flips, pleading guilty to among other things paying an underage girl for sex. And now he's attorney has a warning for the Congressman.

And 'this is unhinged'. Those words from a Republican election official in Arizona on Trump's latest claim amid that State's audit. What is his message to Republicans? He's my guest tonight. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the wild west of masking up. Confusion now rains as states, cities, businesses are all scrambling to address the new CDC guidance that fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks anymore not outdoors, not indoors. That's great news. But the guidance has resulted in a lot of confusion. Rules varying from states to stores to stadiums. And today, President Biden doing little to clear up the confusion.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I said last week, some people may want to continue to wear masks, even if they're fully vaccinated. That's a decision they can make. Some businesses may want to continue to require wearing masks.


BURNETT: Home Depot and Whole Foods, for instance, haven't updated their mask policy. Yet chains like CVS and Target aren't requiring masks everywhere anymore. It used to be at least you knew when you went inside into a store, you knew to put your mask on but now nobody seems to know and it seems different even within a given store, nobody is sure and there's a lot of confusion.

And while 20 states plus the District of Columbia dropped mass rules after the CDC changed its guidance the other day. It is confusing. I mean, take Maryland. The state is saying, OK, you take the masks off. But the city of Baltimore, the biggest city in the state isn't. And in some states, entire states like California and New Jersey as an entire state are going incredibly slowly. Well, here's the Governor of New Jersey.


GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D) NEW JERSEY: I don't know how we can expect workers to be able to tell who is vaccinated from who isn't and it is unfair to put the burden on business owners and frontline employees to police every patron.


BURNETT: So you can understand the confusion, especially because fundamentally, the CDC itself admits that this whole new policy is based on trust.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: In terms of the honor system, people have to be honest with themselves. You're protected if you're vaccinated. You're not if you're not vaccinated.


BURNETT: The thing is, look at some of the images from this weekend. I'll show you Kansas City. One of the largest sporting events were masks were optional. The hockey team tweeting these images. I'm just looking. You just really don't see any masks.

But theoretically, if the honor system was working, 31 percent of the people in that stadium would have had no masks. So you would have had about 70 percent, 69 percent of people wearing masks. Picture wouldn't have looked anything like the picture like you actually saw. Is that what honesty looks like?

Now, I'm going to speak to the Mayor of that city in a moment about having this big decision on what to do on masking sprung on him, much like it actually was sprung on the president. Because just days before the CDC changed its guidance on mask, President Biden was sending this message again, and again and again.


BIDEN: Why am I wearing the mask? Because when we're inside, it's still good policy to wear the mask.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: And then it just completely changed. Now, well, the CDC is

making a decision based on the science that they have as they should and the truth is hundreds of 1000s of deaths could have been prevented according to Dr. Deborah Birx, who was President Trump's COVID response coordinator if decisions all the way through this pandemic had been based on science and facts.

And today if you look at the death situation, deaths as Biden pointed out are at their lowest levels since April of 2020. Some experts though fear that those gains could be lost because of the sudden shift, because the confusion sparked by the CDC's abrupt and total reversal on masks. In fact, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is reporting that he spoke with senior leaders at the CDC days before the announcement when Biden is saying it's good policy to wear masks inside.

Senior leaders of the CDC, they were telling Sanjay that indoor masking would be the last thing to be lifted. It wasn't imminent in any way. Then all of a sudden boom it's gone.

And our CNN Medical Analyst and former Baltimore Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen writes, in The Washington Post, "This was a major blunder that threatens to set back much of the progress made. President Biden needs to fix it, urgently."

Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT live near the White House tonight.


And Phil, is the White House planning to do anything urgently? Do they feel this urgent need to fix anything or to clarify anything to the American people?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Look, Erin, when you talk to White House officials, they understand that there's a scramble going on right now. They see it. They've certainly been hearing about it over the course of the last several days. But to some degree, they acknowledge their hands are tied by what the system that they put in when they took office.

The President and his top aides made very clear they weren't going to meddle with what the science said. They weren't going to meddle with what their public health officials decided was the best course of action. You laid out the timeline quite well.

The President's top advisors didn't even find out the CDC was going to shift the guidance until late the night before. The President not until the morning of. This was essentially sprung on them as well. And then they had to scramble to try and figure out what the repercussions were.

Now, clearly, they leaned into it fully. The President, the Vice President walking out on that day with no masks on, taking off the mask guidance or mask mandates inside the White House campus as well trying to use it to underscore the improvements that have been made, the progress that has been made. But behind the scenes, there's no question about it. There was some

frustration with White House officials about how this was just dropped on their laps and without any sense or a grasp of what the repercussions were nationwide.

Now, that being said, White House officials are making clear they believe the CDC guidance up to this point is clear. They've made sure the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is out explaining the decision.

They believe the science behind the decision backs up the decision that was made and they believe that over the course of the next several days and weeks, they can work behind the scenes with states and localities and businesses to try and smooth out what has been a bit of a rough transition process over the course of the last several days.

What you aren't going to see though is any heavy-handed changes from the administration. Again, it all comes back to the posture they wanted when they took office that the CDC and public health officials, they were going to lead the way.

That's what they've done here. White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, earlier today was asked about this. She made clear it was a CDC Decision, Science is the north star and this is the way the White House is going to go along with the CDC, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Phil. Phil Mattingly from, as I said, near the White House tonight.

I want to go OUTFRONT now, as promised, to the Democratic Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, Quinton Lucas. And Mayor, I appreciate your time. So you're just hearing about how President Biden didn't even find out the CDC was doing an about face on this until the morning of. It's not as if he knew it was coming. He finds out that morning. You find out a few hours later.

The New York Times has pointed out you went from tweeting you weren't changing your mask order to you're completely getting rid of it in the span of seven hours, because the guidance changed in the middle there. I mean, it sounds like you were completely caught off guard by the CDC announcement as well, Mayor.

MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS (D), KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI: We weren't caught off guard. Our goal all along has been to align ourselves with the CDC. We're in a red state in a red region and so we want to say it's the science. It's medical experts who are really helping us make our decisions.

When you see this sort of shift, particularly one that doesn't really align with how enforcement is done, it creates a challenge for us.

BURNETT: So then you change to go along with the CDC and I think the context you point out of where you are in a red state, obviously, is very significant here. But I just showed the pictures of the game in Kansas City this weekend. And the CDC, you heard Director Walensky saying, well, it's the honor system. Well, if it was the honor system, about 70 percent of the people in

the pictures I showed would be wearing masks. But there were none, there were none wearing masks.

So I don't say this to pass judgment on them, but I'm just making the point of are you worried about this? Are you worried about this 'honor system'?

LUCAS: We're very worried about the honor system. Actually, the approach we had before was that if you were vaccinated, you can be in a room or a setting where you know everyone else is vaccinated. That was at least one way that you could at least have some sort of check.

Whereas if you're just saying, hey, go to your nearby crowded retailer and 40 percent can have masks off, while the other 60 percent are supposed to not or supposed to have them on. It creates these sorts of challenges where how does the store clerk check it, how does our health department actually enforce any rule at all.

And so while I respect many of the jurisdictions that they're trying to, I think, really have adherence to the CDC order. It's a challenge for us and we just said maybe this is the point where we have to switch our efforts to encouraging vaccinations because otherwise, there really isn't a way that you can check on and off.

BURNETT: Right. Because it sounds like what you're saying is, OK, if the science shows vaccinated people can do these things, great. But you have a lot of people who aren't vaccinated, so your past science here, you're into social science, you're into psychology and that's what we're seeing. I mean, that's trumping science, at least it would seem.

So did you even think about trying to maintain the mask mandate? I mentioned Maryland where the state's getting rid of it, but the City of Baltimore is keeping it. Did you just feel that wasn't possible given the political environment in your state?


LUCAS: Well, I said this the other day. I mean, for those of us who have been mayors and governors on the ground for the last 14 months, you already have a whole group of mask haters. And the one challenge, I understand, the CDC was trying to encourage people to get vaccinated. But those of us who have been vaccinated are the ones who really don't have a problem wearing a mask. It was like the wrong population that you're incentivizing.

So many people who've been vaccinated said, hey, I understand I'm going to keep wearing it. I was vaccinated months ago and haven't mind doing so. And so I think what we were really missing out was, no, you want to encourage those people sitting on the fence by them still going to places, needing to mask and saying that this is how we lift up everyone.

If you had thresholds, if they said jurisdictions of 70 percent vaccination rates, those are the sorts of things that might have made a difference for us. But we are in more of a wild west focus.

I say this respectfully to the CDC, but we really need to get back to a point where it's encouraging those to get vaccinated and more of that focus rather than celebrating our newfound freedoms, because the honor system just ain't working here. I don't think it's going to work in a lot of parts of this country.

BURNETT: Yes. Well, I think you're right. I think anybody who's honest, no matter where they live has seen that thus far already. All right. Mayor, I appreciate your time and I thank you.

LUCAS: Thank you.

BURNETT: I want to go now to Dr. Jonathan Reiner. So Dr. Reiner, what do you say to Mayor Lucas, the honor system just ain't working to call it out like it is right now. I mean, we see it in that stadium there in Kansas City. He would have preferred, hey, when we get to this level of vaccination, this is what you're going to get as a way to encourage. What do you say to those concerns?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, then he should do that. Look, the CDC doesn't make law. The CDC issues guidelines.

Look, the CDC got the science right by saying that vaccinated people are completely protected, whether they're indoors or outdoors, whether they're wearing a mask or not, vaccinated people are protected. What states and localities need to understand is they should customize how they enact these guidelines.

So for instance, Maryland where I live has a test positivity rate of 1.7 percent, about half the national average. Mississippi, on the other hand, has a test positivity rate of 13.8 percent. State should also look at what their vaccination rates are. Some states in the northeast have adult vaccination rates of 70 percent. Some states in the south have vaccination rates are 45 percent.

So the leaders in those states should take the guidelines from the CDC and enact sensible regulations that make sense for their states.


REINER: But the good news is, there's so much vaccine now, I'm not sure any of this is going to matter.

BURNETT: Well, that's true. I mean, there's plenty for everybody to have it who wants it and, obviously, we have a surfeit on top of that. I do just raise the question, though, obviously, that the administration wanted to go ahead with the science. They didn't want to get a tip from the CDC and they wanted to respect that and I totally get that.

But are you concerned that there's science and like I said, there's social science, there's psychology and that actually is really important here. And perhaps even more important than just the raw data of what matters for a vaccinated person as opposed to an unvaccinated person. REINER: I hear what you're saying, but the administration and the CDC

were a bit boxed in by politics. And the politics was that administration took vaccine passports off the table early on. And once you took vaccine passports off the table, you removed the ability for businesses to tell who was vaccinated and who wasn't.

So now when things are getting really good for people who are vaccinated, how do you not remove or lessen the restrictions on them? It was hard not to do that. And without vaccine passports, it became impossible to know who's who.

So let me ask you about that issue, because you heard the governor of New Jersey raise it, but it's also a broader issue. President Biden has said he doesn't support vaccine passports. Ron DeSantis has said it. Totally different reasons, but it seems to be something that political you have people on very disparate parts of the political spectrum aligned on.

I don't understand it. Everyone that I know at least they're not taking screen grabs of their vaccine card, because people who are vaccinated are happy to show a vaccine passport. It gets businesses open earlier, which Ron DeSantis should like. It's safer, which Joe Biden should like. Do you understand why there's just such an anathema to it?

REINER: No, it's been politicized the way masks were politicized. But it's a completely pro-business initiative. It's a way to fill up Broadway theaters. It's a way to fill up restaurants at a hundred capacity, a hundred percent capacity if you can show that everyone in the restaurant is vaccinated. It's a pro-business thing.

And for the population. If you don't want to use it, you don't have to use it. No one forces you to use a vaccine passport.

BURNETT: Well, obviously, it would be a nice thing. I think a lot of people around the world would like to have such a thing.


All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it as always, Doctor.

REINER: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, a Republican election official pushing back against Trump and his lies amid the controversial third Arizona audit. He calls Trump's claim his latest claim unhinged, his word, and he's got a lot more to say he's my guest tonight.

Plus, Matt Gaetz's close friend flips and now his friend's attorney has this ominous warning for the Republican Congressman.


FRITZ SCHELLER, ATTORNEY FOR JOEL GREENBERG: I guess this is just must see television you'll just have to wait and see.


BURNETT: I mean officer who yelled taser before firing her gun at Daunte Wright in court. Her response when a Judge rules the case against her can proceed.




BURNETT: Tonight, a bitter feud erupting among Arizona Republicans over an election audit of the state's most populous county with the Republican Chairman of Maricopa County's Board of Supervisors accusing Republicans of 'a grift disguised as an audit'.

It comes as former President Trump is now floating another baseless accusation about Maricopa's County elections management now saying, I'm quoting a former president, "The entire database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED."


Deleted. All of it deleted. So I guess you couldn't check it because there's theoretically so much frauds, they delete the whole thing. I don't know what conspiracy it's leading to something like that. That's what led my next guest who runs Maricopa's elections department.

So he knows what he's talking about to tweet, "Wow. This is unhinged. I'm literally looking at our voter registration database on my other screen. Right now. We can't indulge these insane lies any longer. As a party. As a state. As a country."

OUTFRONT now a Maricopa County Recorder, Stephen Richer. He is a longtime Republican. And Stephen, look, I appreciate your time.


BURNETT: So you're sitting at your computer and you've got a couple screens up like everybody these days and you're looking at the voter database in the midst of all this. And then this message comes from former President Trump saying that the entire database in your county, the most important county by size in Arizona has been deleted, all caps, deleted. What did you do at that moment?

RICHER: I was just exasperated. I actually got the letter forwarded to me from a supporter and she's a very nice woman named Vicki (ph) and she basically said what gives, what's going on here, why are you deleting files. And I was just sitting there looking at our voter registration database and I have the elections database as well on my computer, what can we do here? I mean, this is tantamount to saying that the pencil sitting on my desk in front of me doesn't exist.

BURNETT: Yes. And I think that's what's so hard to understand about this, because that is what it is and yet people still believe it and they're looking at the pencil and somehow they don't believe it's there. I mean, you responded then. You went on Twitter and you and you took a stand on this and you said - what the President statement was 'unhinged'. I mean, it was completely counterfactual.

Why did you feel you needed to do that and what gave you the courage to do it, because now you've stuck your head up, you know what incoming feels like.

RICHER: Yes. No, I mean, this wasn't about President Trump. This was just about the people who work in this office. I came into this office to try and make it as boring as possible. I've been sitting on the sidelines. I hadn't taken a single interview prior to Friday. This is my first national interview.

But at some point, we're humans. It has to stop. There are good people working here in Maricopa County and I was tired of them being defamed. That's my team. That's my office. That's my friends. And so I just wanted to say something and I never would have imagined it would have gotten that big.

BURNETT: So I know you had a meeting today. A meeting held by Maricopa County's Republican controlled Board of Supervisors and you all talk through a lot of this. You're trying to refute the lies that are now out there around Arizona's election. By the way, I should note, you've already had two audits. They all show the same thing about who won.

Also that board then sent a 14-page letter tonight to the Republican president of the State Senate refuting claim after claim, accusing, even accusing the auditor's of perhaps miscounting some of Maricopa's ballots in this latest, this third audit that the Republican State Senate is now behind. What more can you tell us about all this?

RICHER: Just stop indulging this. Stop giving space for lies. We found out about this latest accusation through the Arizona Senate's audits Twitter account, which is anonymously run, just accusing me and my staff of unlawfully deleting evidence. That's not appropriate.

And I called the Senate President and I said, do you really want to accuse me of unlawfully deleting evidence for an election that by the way, I didn't even run because I took office in January. And she wrote back that she doesn't have any control over this Twitter account.

So I'm just wondering what's going on here, who are these people, who are defaming us. I don't think they're professionals. I don't think they understand how to run elections.

So the board now that you're a part of, you're calling for the end of this audit, which as I point out is the third audit and this one is now put forth by the Republican State Senate. And you're saying it needs to end for the good of the state and the country.

The auditors I know are saying they've got no deadline to finish their work. In fact, anytime we've heard about it, it's been, oh, this could just drag on for months. How worried are you about that?

RICHER: Yes. Well, that's why we did this. Because it was just exhausting to have to respond to every unfounded allegation and insinuation. Well, we're supposed to be doing the normal work of the county. I have no idea how long this will go on for.

It'll probably possibly into 2022 when then we're another pivotal county in the national landscape. But they've only completed 1/4 of the ballots and they have a whole bunch of other things planned.

And by the way, they're only doing two elections on a ballot that had over 60 elections. And how they chose those? I don't know. But if they wanted to choose the closest race that was on every single ballot in Maricopa County, ironically you should have started with mine in which a Republican unseated a Democrat incumbent.


BURNETT: So you're saying yours where you unseated Democrat incumbent was obviously the closest, but closer than Trump-Biden. So they're obviously not concerned about margin of victory as indicative of fraud, just to state the obvious here.

So what is giving you though, the courage, Stephen, to speak out here because there will be repercussions of your coming out and speaking the facts and speaking why you think this is so important to the country and I know you know that and you're prepared for that.

RICHER: Yes. I don't care about the political consequences. I mean, this has been a very rude awakening into what politics has become. And if I'm not part of it four years from now, so be it. I can do other things that'll make me happy.

What prompted me now, I'm just, I'm tired of my people who are good people who are my friends being defamed, it's just not right.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Stephen, I really appreciate your time. I thank you for saying these things. I know you and I were talking on the commercial break before but I do believe it makes a difference and I thank you.

RICHER: Thank you so much, Erin. I really appreciate it.

BURNETT: All right. Stephen Richer, as I said the Maricopa County Recorder.

And next, Matt Gaetz's is ally pleads guilty to soliciting and paying a girl, an underage girl for sex and that friend's attorney has a warning tonight for the Florida Congressman.

And former Navy pilots revealing more than the government ever has about close encounters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My gosh, they're going against the wind. The wind's 120 knots to the west.



BURNETT: New tonight, Joel Greenberg who Matt Gaetz reportedly called his wingman, formally pleading guilty to six federal charges including admitting that he knowingly solicited and paid an underage girl for sex. Greenberg also pledging in court to cooperate in a wide-ranging federal probe, which includes examining whether Congressman Gaetz had sex with an underage girl as well.

Greenberg's lawyer, who previously suggested Gaetz should be worried about a plea deal, sharing this ominous warning.


FRITZ SCHELLER, ATTORNEY FOR JOEL GREENBERG: Does my client have information that could hurt an elected official? I guess this is just, you know, must see television, we'll just have to wait and see.


BURNETT: All right. Paula Reid is OUTFRONT.

And, Paula, you are in the courtroom today. What did you see? What does this all mean now for Gaetz?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Erin, what was so remarkable in the courthouse today is seeing Greenberg, this man who had bragged about spending tens of thousands of dollars on prostitutes, who intended these drug-fueled sex parties.

He was there, he's been behind bars, he was in a prison jumpsuit news are strained throughout the hearing. He had to sign his one with handcuffs on, a big chain around his waist and that's how it's going to be for him for likely about a decade.

He was pretty quiet, as he whispered yes or no to the judge, as he pleaded guilty to a series of charges not only sex trafficking involving a minor, but also counts of identity theft, fraud, conspiracy and stalking.

Well, one of the most important admissions that he made, he not only had sex with a minor he also introduced this child to other adult men who also paid her for sex. That's the big question, who wear these other men? And has he implemented, or implicated Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Now, Greenberg's lawyer there, he would not reveal what his client has said to investigators, but it's notable that Gaetz's PR team has really shifted his strategy. Now in addition to denying any allegations, there are so attacking Joel Greenberg's credibility. And that is reasonable.

Joel Greenberg is now an admitted felon. One of the things he admitted to today, is falsely accusing a teacher who challenged him for his county tax collector seat, he falsely accused that teacher of being a pedophile. So, Gaetz seems really seizing on Joel Greenberg's credibility.

But, Erin, we know from our sources that the investigators are not solely relying on the word of Joel Greenberg. We know that hundreds of documents, they have other witnesses, they're looking at all of these different things as they assess whether they have enough evidence to charge the congressman.

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

It's such a crucial point that she makes, right? Greenberg will have a story, and he may be a person to tell that story perhaps to a judge or jury. But anything that he says, they will have completely backed up through documentation for the reason she's just laid out.

CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Laura Coates, joins me now.

So, Laura, Joel Greenberg's lawyer, does my client have information that could hurt a elected official? I guess this is must-see television. You'll just have to wait and see.

I would call that a threat to Congressman Gaetz.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It was. It's really a shot across the bow. But it could be a little bit of puffery, a little bit of chest beating here because remember, you don't just go from 30- something charges down to 6, unless you've been able to be of substantial assistance to the federal government in the prosecution in a sense.

And so, there might just be a note for this attorney, to make sure that the prosecutor who ultimately will have to make the decision of saying, what's sort of sentence will to say, look, he really is this valuable. Keep him as a cooperator, he will be of assistance to you, reminding the prosecutors, as much of the people who might also be on the hook down the line to say, he's really that important and a little puffery can go a long way.

BLITZER: So, Gaetz, is sitting there now, knowing things that maybe investigators know right now, maybe they don't yet know, who knows? But he's sitting there and this whole story has now changed, right? His former friend has formally flipped. What do you think Gaetz and his lawyers should be doing right now?

COATES: Well, they're probably very vulnerable right now, wondering what information has already been corroborated as Paula has already talked about, the notion of, you don't just accept his word for it. There are obviously credibility issues are so many perhaps lying about somebody else, involved with a minor in a sexual sense.

You have this obvious Achilles heel now of credibility.

[19:35:00] But you have documentation, if you got receipts, if you have other information that corroborate other witnesses or other people, if then can be trusted the credibility of yet again. And so, Gaetz's team is probably wondering, are there other players that are not yet advertised publicly in this way?

Now, we know that there's now (ph) other sealed documents as of yet that we were waiting to hear more about. We did not see Gaetz's name mentioned in a pleading document. But that shot across the bow is very important.

So, what they have to do is try to attack his credibility. In the court of public opinion, essentially say, hey, if he's lied about that, then he's lying about this as well. This is opportunistic. This is somebody who is trying to be in a self interest rate, trying to get a cooperative deal.

But prosecutors are aware of people incentivized to try to lie to get a favorable or lenient sentence, they have to corroborate another way. So, Gaetz wondering what else do they know?

BURNETT: Right, he knows things that perhaps his own lawyers don't even know.

All right, thank you very much, Laura.

And OUTFRONT next, the violent clashes escalating tonight, Israel pounding Gaza, Hamas firing back and now, Biden expressing his support for a ceasefire. But will that make a difference at all?

Plus, a judge ruling in the case against the former officer who killed Daunte Wright can proceed, that the trial might be on a television. Her response, unexpected.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden expressed his support for a cease- fire in the call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That's according to a White House read out of the call. However, he stopped short of a full on demand for a cease-fire.

And, Biden, in fact, is now under mounting pressure to do that, and more with intensifying about between Israel and Hamas militants and Gaza, which is now entering its second deadly week.

Nic Robertson is OUTFRONT from Ashdod, Israel.

And, Nic, what are you seeing?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, we're not seeing a lot of rockets tonight. Down on the border of Gaza early on today, I was with Israeli Defense Force artillery, they were laying down some very heavy barrages of artillery. That was as the night was falling, they've used those barrages before to target Hamas' tunnel systems.

We heard from the IDF earlier today, later this afternoon actually saying, they had now taken out 80 to 95 -- 80 to 90 percent of Hamas' weapons making capacity. That includes the engineers, and the buildings, and the equipment. And they also think they've effectively rendered useless about 100 kilometers, 60 miles or so of Hamas' tunnel network, the area the space they used to get around, their battlefield without being spotted and seen.

So, there is a lot of destruction and damage that has been done, but Prime Minister Netanyahu today met with his defense chiefs, his security chiefs, his intelligence chiefs and he came out of that high- level meeting instead, the directive is to continue the strikes against Hamas.

So, you know, the picture that is painted on the ground, despite these efforts, despite diplomacy, despite President Biden's conversations with the prime minister supporting a ceasefire but not demanding a ceasefire, despite all of that, it does seem the conflict is set to continue. The death toll in Gaza rises, the strikes continue here, Hamas' rocket strikes continue here in Israel. An apartment building was hit here, if you residents injured there.

So, there is nothing at the moment that appears to be putting the brakes on in the conflict. And that is what we're seeing. Although I would add again tonight, it's been relatively quiet in terms of Hamas rockets.

BURNETT: All right. Nic, thank you very much.

Maybe quiet now but, of course, as Nic says, the situation that continues to escalate.

Kylie Atwood joins me now, with a reporting on the U.S. response.

And, Kylie, you know, Biden obviously supporting a cease-fire during a call with Netanyahu today, but not a demanding one and the administration is facing growing questions about why it is not doing more to put pressure on Israel right now. What happened today? And why the hesitancy?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, that's a good question, Erin.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken was asked during interview today twice, why the Biden ministration isn't doing more to put pressure on Israel? To stop this air campaign in Gaza, particularly given the special relationship that the U.S. and Israel have, particularly militarily.

Secretary Blinken dodged the question. Both times he reiterated that the Biden administration supports a two-state solution, he referenced the intensive diplomacy that he and other Biden administration officials are carrying out.

And we should note that those conversations are ongoing. There is a flurry of diplomatic conversations that Blinken has had, in recent days. Today, yesterday speaking with a number of his counterparts in countries like Qatar, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, France, European Union.

But we are still waiting to see with those ongoing discussions that push to bring an end to this crisis, actually amount to.

BURNETT: All right. Kylie, thank you very much.

And next, many businesses struggling year after the pandemic. But not for the reasons you may think.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a lack of customers, it's purely for staffing reasons.


BURNETT: And former Navy pilots revealing new details of close encounters, off the Atlantic Coast.



BURNETT: President Biden in Michigan tomorrow, pressing his jobs plan and economic agenda. This as the administration is still facing major headwinds from the economy.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.


PATTI EISENBRAUN, CO-OWNER, BROWN IRON BREWHOUSE: How are we doing on reservations today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're doing good. We're on schedule.

EISENBRAUN: So, are we full?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Brown Iron Brewhouse, business is booming, or starting to, after a punishing year with the pandemic.

But, one day each week, the dining room is dark.

EISENBRAUN: How is everything so far? Good?



ZELENY: Because Patti Eisenbraun has no other choice.

EISENBRAUN: It's not a lack of customers, and it's purely for staffing reasons. I had 120 people before the pandemic, I am down to 70. I need immediate higher for 30 people.

ZELENY: It's a stark warning sign in the economy, a labor shortage, facing frustrated business owners here in Michigan and across the country. Now hiring signs from restaurants to manufacturing, in most everywhere you look.

EISENBRAUN: We are trying everything we can. There's just not the people out there right now.

ZELENY: Just as President Biden's fortunes were tied to tackling coronavirus, so too are they linked to an economic recovery.

The rest of his presidency will likely rise or fall on the strength of that rebound.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Yes, he will be judged on how the economy is doing, as well all of us. So, our job is to work together, and keep the economy strong.

ZELENY: Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell says the labor shortages real, as are its root causes. Like childcare concerns, lingering COVID fears, and above all, women leaving the workforce in droves.

Optimistic about the economy, or too soon to say?

DINGELL: I'm going to choose to be optimistic, and it's my responsibility, and everyone else's to make sure we deliver on that optimism.

ZELENY: And delivering on that optimism means fighting the unmistakable economic headwinds, many of which revolve around rebuilding America's vanishing workforce.


MARGIE MARTIN, UNEMPLOYMENT SPECIALIST 3ER METRO DETROIT: We have tons of jobs, we have more jobs than folks.

ZELENY: Margie Martin is an employment specialist, matching workers to jobs. She's on the front lines of a question hanging over the presidents economic agenda. Are unemployment checks keeping potential employees on the sidelines?

MARTIN: I don't think so. In my own personal experience, there are other issues that doesn't allow someone to get employment. A single mom doesn't have a support system. Her kids are at home.

ZELENY: Just north of Detroit, in Sterling Heights, Mayor Michael Taylor is a Republican, who's been watching the new president closely. When we first met him last fall, he told us, he was supporting Biden.

MAYOR MICHAEL TAYLOR (R), STERLING HEIGHTS, MICHIGAN: I can't wait to cast my vote to get Donald Trump out of office.

ZELENY: So, how are things going?

TAYLOR: Well, I'm still happy with my decision.

ZELENY: But Taylor said he believes that unemployment assistance should not be extended so more people return to work.

TAYLOR: That's the number one concern I've heard from business owners.

ZELENY: Back at the brew house, Eisenbraun is offering a bounty for employees who bring in new workers. She also offers health care, and a 401(k), and dismisses those who blame all business owners for the labor crunch.

EISENBRAUN: I think that the misconception that I see, from the politicians, is the reason why people don't go back to work is that the jobs aren't worth it. These are low paying jobs. But they aren't.


ZELENY (on camera): Now, these hiring challenges, Erin, are complicated piece of this economic puzzle, facing the Biden administration. Now, the president is coming here to the Detroit area tomorrow to promote his American jobs plan, as well as electric vehicles being built by the Ford Motor Company.

But, across every sector here, it is so striking that the now hiring signs are just blaring. So, the question is, can some of these businesses find workers, and what this does mean for the president's economic agenda going forward? Erin?

BURNETT: All right. Jeff Zeleny, crucial questions, thank you.

And next, the former police officer who yelled Taser before firing her gun and killing Daunte Wright will now standing trial. Her response to that decision, next.

Plus, are UFOs real? Former Navy pilots are, tonight, revealing never before known details about what actually could be, they say, close encounters.



BURNETT: New tonight, the case against a former police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop last month in Minnesota can go ahead. A judge ruling at a court hearing earlier today that there is probable cause to support second-degree murder case against Kim Potter. Potter says she accidentally fired her gun at Wright, instead of her Taser, after he tried to escape, being arrested for an outstanding warrant.

The encounter was captured by body camera video, which I will warn you is disturbing.


(INAUDIBLE) POLICE OFFICER: I'll Tase you! I'll Tase you!

Taser! Taser! Taser!

Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED)! I just shot him.


BURNETT: Adrienne Broaddus is OUTFRONT.

So, Adrienne, obviously, this can now go ahead, this case, probable cause found by the judge, in order to proceed. How did Potter react to today's hearing and ruling?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, she only spoke once, and that was to answer a question from the judge. She was not wearing her mask as she sat inside of the office of her defense attorney, Earl Gray.

So, we were able to see her facial expressions. For example, the prosecuting attorney told the court, a motion has been filed, requesting video, and audio be allowed inside of the courtroom if and when this case goes to trial. At that moment, Potter opened her mouth widely.

Before that, she was sitting with her hands together, and her lips sealed. She also began to flinch, and blink her eyes when the judge set a potential trial date for December 6th. And there was a moment, at the beginning of the trial -- or excuse me, at the beginning of the hearing, when Potter bowed her head. That was the moment when the judge acknowledged the attendance of Daunte Wright's family, and friends, who were inside of the courtroom.

Towards the end of this hearing, the judge made it quite clear, by saying, she wants this case expedited, and she said, the judge, Regina Chu, and in part, she says, it's to the benefit of everyone to come to a resolution, or a trial, as quickly as possible -- Erin.

BURNETT: Adrienne, thank you very much.

And, obviously, interesting what Adrienne is reporting, coming to a resolution or a trial. That, perhaps, they would be able to resolve this in some way before that December date.

And finally, tonight, they are officially known as unexplained aerial phenomena, UAPs. We normally call them UFOs, as normal people. And former Navy pilots are revealing more than what we previously knew about what could be close encounters. One of them telling "60 Minutes" that they saw UFOs off the coast of the Atlantic coast every day for at least a couple of years, in restricted airspace.

So, what you're able to see stunned pilot as apparently there was, quote, a whole fleet of them.


NAVY PILOT: My gosh, we're going against the wind. The wind is 120 knots to the west.

NAVY PILOT: Look at this thing, it's a rotating.


BURNETT: It's rotating.

Well, so far, no official public explanation about these objects could be, or where they came from. The Pentagon, though, has confirmed some witness accounts. One pilot said he is worried and considers whatever he saw a security threat.

Well, this all got to a point now that the government is expected to release a report about UFOs in June. No idea how detailed it will actually be.

Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.