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Erin Burnett Outfront

Texas Democrats Block Passage Of Restrictive Voting Bill By Walking Out Of House Floor; Interview With Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA); Dems Plot Next Steps After Senate GOP Blocks Jan. 6 Commission; DOJ Indicts Four More People In Oath Keepers Conspiracy Case For Allegedly Taking Part In Jan 6 Insurrection; Former Trump Adviser Michael Flynn Appears To Suggest Myanmar-Style Coup "Should Happen" In U.S.; U.S. Sets Air Travel Record During Pandemic. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 31, 2021 - 19:00   ET


JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: I hope you had some good times with your family and friends and took a moment to reflect on all those who have died for this country.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Democrats in Texas defeat a controversial new voting bill for now, but the State's Governor is targeting lawmakers to pay and promising not to give up.

Plus, House Democrat plots their next move after Republicans block an independent commission to investigate the deadly insurrection. One congressman calls on President Biden to get involved.

And Memorial Day travel setting a record since the start of the pandemic as cases of COVID continue to drop. Is the worst finally behind us? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Poppy Harlow in tonight for Erin Burnett. Glad you're with us. Welcome to a special edition of OUTFRONT.

Biden takes on the big lie. The President tonight warning Trump's false claim the election was stolen is fueling new laws that pose a serious threat to the bedrock of this country.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy thrives when the infrastructure of democracy is strong; when people have the right to vote freely and fairly and conveniently.


HARLOW: This comes as Texas Democrats have been able to block a bill from becoming law that they argue seriously restricts voting rights but how long can they stop it for? The Governor of Texas bound to hold a special legislative session after Democrats pulled the last-minute maneuver to stop the controversial voting bill SB 7 from becoming law. In a dramatic fashion, they walked out of the state capitol building late last night leaving Republicans without the minimum number of lawmakers needed on the floor to carry out that vote before the midnight deadline.

It was a crushing defeat for Republicans who crafted one of the most far-reaching voting bills in the country when the Democrats say would have suppressed the vote in these ways. It bans drive-through voting. Puts new restrictions on mail-in voting. Grants new powers to partisan poll watchers. Cuts back Sunday morning voting when many black church goers head to the polls. And the bill also makes it easier for a judge to overturn an election without even any evidence of fraud.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott claims this bill is needed to ensure the integrity of his state's elections. But based on what? Listen to the Secretary of State in Texas who was appointed by Abbott himself.


RUTH RUGGERO HUGHS, TEXAS SECRETARY OF STATE: Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, this election was a resounding success.


HARLOW: And her top Deputy, the Director of Elections had this to say when he testified before lawmakers in March.


KEITH INGRAM, DIRECTOR, ELECTIONS DIVISION AT TEXAS OFFCE OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE: In spite of all the circumstances, Texas had an election that was smooth and secure.


HARLOW: And by all accounts it was, just that smooth and secure. According to the Houston Chronicle, the State's Attorney General spent 22,000 hours working on fraud cases yet charged just 16 people with providing a false address on their voter registration form. That's it, 16 people out of more than 11.1 million votes cast in the state.

But Texas is not the only state trying to make it more difficult to vote after Trump's loss. Between January and mid May, at least 14 states have enacted new laws that restrict access to voting according to the Brennan Center and bills that restrict voting are now making their way through legislators in 18 states.

This is one of the many ramifications of Trump's big lie that the election was stolen or rigged and it's playing out in real time right now with real consequences. A lie Trump refuses to let go of the former president even today, releasing a statement that reads in part, "Great work is being done in Georgia revealing the election fraud of the 2020 Presidential Election."

Georgia Secretary of State and other elected officials there, many of them Republicans, have repeatedly said, no, there was no widespread fraud. But that has not stopped Republicans in Georgia and in more than a dozen states including Texas tonight. Our Sara Murray joins us live OUTFRONT in Washington. Sara, what happens next in Texas with this voting bill? SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think Democrats in

Texas know that this is a short lived victory. It was last night and then reiterated again today by Texas Governor Greg Abbott that he does want lawmakers to come back for a special session.

He says what he calls the election integrity bill is must pass legislation and he's essentially encouraging lawmakers to work out their differences before they get back. Obviously, that's going to be more of a call to Republicans who are in the Senate, in the House than it is to Democrats.

But what this did by letting this bill essentially die is it sort of scraps the process that says lawmakers can start from scratch. They could go back to an earlier version of one of these voting restriction bills that didn't have as many restrictions. They could put forth a very similar bill and try to move that forward.


And, of course, Democrats in the State are going to have to try to figure out how they're going to grapple with that when the Governor does set a date for this special session. He has not done that yet.

And I think that's partly because this was a pretty embarrassing situation for the Republicans in Texas. The governor made clear he wanted to get this done. Republicans in the state legislature made clear they wanted to get this done and Democrats were able to pull this move at the last minute and effectively punt on this.

But you can see some of this kind of bad blood playing out just in the tweets from Governor Greg Abbott today. He, at one point today, threatened to veto funds for the legislative branch of government saying no pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. It's unclear how something like that would work out. But you can see there's a lot of tension right now between the Governor and the House and Senate.

HARLOW: Yes. And what the next move is from the Democrats and the state legislature. We will see. Sara, thank you very much for that reporting.

OUTFRONT now let's talk about that with Democratic Texas State Representative Nicole Collier. She also chairs the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. Good evening, Representative. It's good to have you.

STATE REP. NICOLE COLLIER (D-TX): Good evening. Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: So we just went through what you guys did last night. You and other Democrats walked out of the session late last night that prevented this bill from moving forward. But Abbott says a special session is coming. He's threatening you guys with eliminating your pay. You said overnight we may have won the war tonight but the battle is not over. So what's your next move?

COLLIER: Well, we take it day by day. And for the Governor to make that statement is disingenuous because we had the pandemic and we had people who didn't have employment who need more guidance and he didn't call a special session. We had Winter Storm Uri, where so many people without power that he did not try to address that. And we had Hurricane Harvey, no special session.

So for him to say that he's going to call a special session over a political move, it is disheartening and it's a shame for Texas. Can I ask it whenever he does call this special session, can you guys not do what you did last night, keep walking out?

COLLIER: Well, there are 16 rules in the House legislature in our rulebook and one of them is requiring a quorum. In order to have a quorum, you need a hundred people. We do have 67 Democrats that are members of the Texas Legislature and that is an option. But that's a nuclear option.

And, of course, you always want to try to work and have a collaboration, have collaboration with your colleagues. So that's not the first step that you take when you have a disagreement.

HARLOW: But it is a step you took last night, but we'll see what your next step is. Let me move on to the ...

COLLIER: Well, we took that last night because this whole session has been fraught with refusal to allow our members to pass measures that will be helpful to all their constituents. I mean, we have had permitless carry where that is not a major issue for most Texans. I mean, literally critical race theory (inaudible) that impedes learning and teaching in our public education system. So yes, we've had enough. Where you were sick and tired of being sick and tired and so we did what we had to do.

HARLOW: Representative, I'd love your response to Texas Republican Congressman Michael McCaul who was on with my colleague, Jake Tapper, on Sunday. Here's how he defended the bill.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): There are a couple of fundamentals here, though, that I think most Americans do agree with and that is asking for an ID when someone votes. I don't believe that's voter suppression. I think 70 percent of Americans agree with that idea.

And then the idea of verifying signatures, I think is very important as well. I think what the Republicans here would tell you is that they're trying to make sure that the person voting is the person on paper so it's a legitimate vote devoid of fraud.


HARLOW: I get that he's not addressing some of the key things in the bill that we outlined at the top of the show, but I do want your response to him and if you see any merit in any parts of SB 7.

COLLIER: Well show me the receipts, show me where there's a problem. This is it. There is no widespread voter fraud in Texas. The fact of the matter is people's signatures can change as they age and so to proactively take somebody off the voter rolls because their signatures don't match is an infringement of their voting rights. There was no opportunity to cure. This is the thing.

If you're going to do that, then give them the opportunity to cure these deficiencies that they're talking about. They had added new things about signing the outside of the carrier envelope. Putting your Social Security number, the last four of your Social or driver's license or notating that you don't have one.


New measures when you start putting on these bureaucratic requirements that make it easy to make a mistake, and so where are we going to do that? We should be making it easier to vote like Harris County did.

HARLOW: Rep. Collier, thank you for joining us especially on this Memorial Day.

COLLIER: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: All right. Out front now, Bill Kristol, Editor-at-Large of the Bulwark. Bill, good evening. Thanks for being here.

You've heard the Republican Texas election official say, look, the 2020 election was smooth and secure. We just played his testimony as such. Yet still this bill is important enough to Gov. Abbott for him to press on in a special legislative session, something he didn't do for other catastrophes in the State. Was what Democrats did last night effective even if it doesn't stop it forever?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE BULWARK: I think it was, because I think it caused much more attention. We're having this discussion now, which we might not be having if it had just passed. And people thought, well, OK, it's going to go to court. There'll be long litigation. There's nothing to be done about it.

And I think the Democratic resistance highlighted certain aspects of the legislation, which really are extraordinary and which obviously, Congressman McCaul didn't address at all. I mean, I voted in Virginia here early on Saturday for our Virginia primary, which was in a week for governor and other statewide offices and we have actually acquired some form of voter ID.

It's a very well run - elections here very well run, there's no fraud. If Texas was concerned about their elections, they could have done what Virginia does. But there was no concern. It's not only to the election was smooth and secure, Poppy, it was record turnout last November.

HARLOW: It was good for Republicans.

KRISTOL: And it was record turnout of both parties. Trump won the state by I think 600,000 votes. What problem are they solving? They're not solving a problem. They're worried about what could happen in the next few elections. They're trying to go after Democratic turnout, especially minority turnout. They're also laying the predicate in a couple of the more obscure parts of the bill for a more active role in making it easier to challenge election returns and then to overturn them.

So all in all there's no point pretending this is anything but what it is, a Republican power grab, which really doesn't - both suppresses some votes, but also lays the predicate for the big lie being more successful in 2024 than it was in 2020, which is very dangerous. But it was just that one thing where they changed the rules about the Sunday. You can't begin voting on Sunday till 1 pm. Where that come from?

Well, where it came from is that there's a custom in the African- American communities of going to the polls together often after Sunday church services. That's it. There's zero rationale for saying Sunday the polls can't open until 1 pm instead of a 10 am.

HARLOW: Right. Also the polls has been highly effective in getting out the vote. Before we go, Bill, you've got the president again today on Memorial Day, a day to honor those who fought to preserve our democracy, once again, working to undermine it with issuing another statement perpetuating the big lie. How much of this is tied to Trump in your opinion?

KRISTOL: I mean, a lot of it because Gov. Abbott might want to do this for his own reasons but he's also doing this because Trump and his associates convinced Republican voters that this is a crucial issue. The amazing fact and Rep. Collier mentioned this, this of all issues is the number one issue that requires a special session at the Texas Legislature.

It's so farcical, if you just came down from outside from abroad and said, oh, really, this is the top issue in the State, a State where there are 11 million voters last year which Trump won incidentally where no one charges any kind of fraud.

Well, you could have had bipartisan consensus on certain measures to tidy up certain aspects of the system, as Rep. Collier said. But no, this is entirely about feeding into, buying into, reinforcing the big lie and this is why it's so serious, because the big lie is not just about 2020. The big lie is laying a predicate for 2024.

HARLOW: Right, it doesn't end here. Bill Kristol, thank you very much.

KRISTOL: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: OUTFRONT next, one Democratic congressman is now calling on President Biden to get involved after Republicans blocked a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol riot. What exactly does he want the President to do? He is my guest.

Plus, Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appears to back what QAnon supporters have been pushing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know why, what happened in Myanmar (ph) can't happen here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No reason. I mean, it should happen here.


HARLOW: Also a newly released video taken from a U.S. warship raises questions about the existence of UFOs. Wait until you see all of this.



HARLOW: Tonight, House Democrats preparing for a caucus meeting tomorrow. One topic that will likely come up what is their next step after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly insurrection.

One top democrat though, asking President Biden to take matters into his own hands at this point. That is Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia issuing a statement that reads in part, quote, "In light of the GOP's cowardly filibuster of a bipartisan January 6th Commission, I urge President Biden to form and appoint a presidential commission to fully investigate the insurrection at the Capitol."

Congressman Connolly is OUTFRONT now. He sits on both the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Good evening. Thank you for being here. And let's start with that.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): (Inaudible) with you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Can you explain exactly what you want President Biden to do? And I wonder since you sent this, I think it was Saturday, if you've heard back from the White House.

CONNOLLY: I have not heard yet, although I was with the President Friday. But my view is we've got lots of precedent for presidential commissions that have looked at momentous events in American history. And by and large, they've comported themselves well and they have commanded broad public respect.

Given the fact that the Republicans don't want to look at this at all, I believe elevating the issue to a presidential commission level and having the President have the latitude to appoint bipartisan members but statesmen and states women who care about their country and want to look at the insurrection thoroughly. I think is the answer.


And so I think a presidential commission is a better way to go than a select commission, although obviously that has its upsides as well. But I just think the Presidential commission is what we ought to do right now.

HARLOW: OK. Well, keep us posted if you hear back from the White House on that. CONNOLLY: I will.

HARLOW: Meantime, some of your fellow Democrats, Joaquin Castro, Ted Lieu, they're calling for Speaker Pelosi, as you know, to create this House Select Committee to investigate the insurrection. I thought it was interesting what your Democratic colleague, Dean Phillips of Minnesota said to me about that this morning, though, listen.


REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): If there's the House Select Committee to investigate it, I would ask and implore and frankly demand that Republicans be included because it does need to have legitimacy to more Americans than it would if it was just a bipartisan exploration, even if that partisan investigation expose the truth.


HARLOW: Do you agree with Congressman Phillips that any Select Committee must include Republicans?

CONNOLLY: Yes. So I think it's got to include Republicans, but we have to take some care here. I'm fearful that Republican leadership will fill such a committee with members of this sedition caucus, members who are sort of playing down what happened in January six. And I think those folks ought to be disqualified, frankly, and that's why I think a presidential commission is a better way to go.

The President has the latitude to tap into Republican talent polls, including former members of Congress who do care about their country and do care and are troubled by the events of January 6th. And again, I just think that's a preferable way to proceed and get us out of the partisan politics of the moment in the House.

HARLOW: But the President is a Democrat. I mean, how would that not faced equal criticism for being partisan to a House Select Committee from Pelosi?

CONNOLLY: Well, the President would have to, I think, balance that commission with Republican as well as Democratic members. It'd be a little hard, I think, for the Republicans in Congress to kvetch about the membership if the President goes to upstanding and, well, regarded former members of Congress who happen to be Republicans.

HARLOW: Congressman, thank you very much for your time this evening.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure, Poppy. Thank you.

HARLOW: OK. OUTFRONT next, four alleged Oath Keepers seen storming the U.S. Capitol indicted in a federal conspiracy case.

Plus, the largest sporting events since the start to the pandemic, 135,000 fans shoulder to shoulder that is the Indy 500. So does that mean the worst is now behind us?


HARLOW: Twelve people charged in the DOJ's largest conspiracy case related to the insurrection on January 6th have court hearings tomorrow, all 12, allegedly taking part in the riot with the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers and this comes as federal prosecutors indict for more alleged members of this group. Our Whitney Wild is OUTFRONT.


WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Justice Department is expanding its conspiracy case against the far- right extremist group the Oath Keepers, announcing charges against four new defendants. The ongoing probe is the largest against any of the groups who participated in the January 6th insurrection. So far federal prosecutors have charged 16 people accusing them of planning the siege ahead of time.

Prosecutors have charged three alleged Oath Keepers from Florida, a 51-year-old Joseph Hackett, 44-year-old Jason Dolan and 21-year-old William Isaacs with conspiracy and engaging in the January 6th riot. A fourth alleged Oath Keeper's name was kept secret in the most recent court filing.

Prosecutors describe the anti-government group as a large but loosely organized collection of individuals. It's led by Stewart Rhodes who has not been charged but has been accused of giving directions before and during the riot. In a January 19th interview with CNN, Rhodes denied planning or instructing anyone during the riot.

Documents show prosecutors believe at various moments during the Capitol siege, Hackett, Isaacs and Dolan joined with others wearing Oath Keepers patches and formed a line that snaked through the crowd with each member keeping at least one hand on the shoulder of the other in front of them. The filing describes their actions inside the Capitol accusing Isaac's of yelling, the fight is not over and waving rioters down the hallway towards the Senate.

Investigators are also revealing details about alleged efforts by Oath Keepers to transport weapons. Prosecutors say someone they refer to as person three walked along object covered by a sheet, possibly a gun into a nearby hotel where the Oath Keepers gathered.

As the Department of Justice moves forward with its case against those who were trying to stop the 2020 election from being certified, one of the most vocal supporters of the January 6th rally has sparked new controversy.


MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The next President of the United States right here.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WILD (voice over): Former President Donald Trump's National Security

Advisor Michael Flynn was one of the loudest voices calling for overturning the election. And well speaking at a recent QAnon rally now seems to think the coup in Myanmar should happen in the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a simple Marine. I want to know why, what happened in Myanmar can't happen here.

FLYNN: No reason. I mean, it should happen here. No reason.



WILD (on camera): Several of the Oath Keeper defendants are set to have a check in hearing in court in D.C. on Tuesday. Isaacs, Hackett and Dolan were each arrested in Florida last week. Attorneys for Isaacs and Dolan didn't immediately respond to requests for a comment and attorney information for Hackett wasn't immediately available, Poppy.


HARLOW: Whitney, thank you.

OUTFRONT now, John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst, and Elie Honig, CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.

Good evening, gentlemen.

And, John, I mean, you have studied the Oath Keepers are closely. You did some of the first interviews with them, including with the founder Stewart Rhodes, more than a decade ago for your book. What's your reaction to these new details, that Whitney just reported about their preparations for January the 6th, including efforts to get weapons from Virginia to the U.S. Capitol?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It all fits a broad pattern. I mean, this is in some ways was the culmination of why they were created back in 2008. But I think tellingly at that time, the inauguration of President Obama, they were trying to collect ex- military, law enforcement folks to resist what they saw as to potential tyrannical overreach by Democratic president.

But here, when a Republican president was trying to overturn an election, they were effectively acting as a front flank. These details, these communications all this rhetoric, the apocalyptic rhetoric, the preparing for in effect war, that you see in these chatter it's all out of their playbook. It's all out of this right wing militia.

HARLOW: And, Elie, I mean, you've still got several people still unnamed in this indictment, including the leader of the Oath Keepers. So far, the DOJ has really only focus on people that entered the capitol that day. Why? And also explain why critical of some at least of the way that the DOJ is charging in this?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Poppy, I think this is an important indictment. Why is this powerful, it's powerful in the sense that charges serious people very serious crimes, it lays at the evidence in a really detailed fashion, most importantly.

This indictment makes entirely clear that the only reason that those Oath Keepers went into the Capitol was to vindicate the big lie, was because of Donald Trump, let it be said. It's even more important now than ever that the DOJ made that clear, given the uncertainty about the January 6th commission.

One the other hand, where the sedition charges? Sedition means to try and overthrow the government, to try and interfere with governmental function -- counting the electoral ballots -- or to try and take over a building by force. No sedition charges, they absolutely could apply here and Merrick Garland, when he took office vowed that he would start with the people on the ground, followed up the chain wherever the leaves may go, we've not seen yet -- that yet, and DOJ has work to do here.

HARLOW: So you think sedition charges are to come, you're saying?

HONIG: I think it absolutely could've been brought, based on the fact in this indictment. And my question is, where are they? Why wouldn't they be brought? I think DOJ's missing it.

HARLOW: Look, John, we got to switch gears here to what we just heard in Whitney's reporting, former President Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn at this conference over the weekend, the conference featuring QAnon believers, suggesting a military coup should take place in United States, just like it did and is going on in Myanmar. Watch this moment again.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know why, what happened in Myanmar, can't happen here?

MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No reason, I mean, it should happen. No reason, that's right.


HARLOW: I mean, given the atrocities taken place in Myanmar, you saw our own Clarissa Ward's reporting on the ground, their government leaders detained more than 800 people killed including peaceful protesters. All of this, and you've got the former national security advisor saying, it can happen here, it should happen here.

AVLON: Yeah, the former national security adviser, somebody saw the highest position in our military and intelligence services, is calling effectively, for a coup. Not the first time he's done it, but he's continuing to do it. That by any definition to Eli's point is sedition, it raises questions of treason frankly, if you're advocating a military overthrow of an election, based on a big lie, and it's part of this pattern.

You know, for anybody out there, who still buying this bug, a mostly peaceful protest. Listen to the rhetoric from Flint about advocating a military coup, overturning our democracy. Look at the military grade weapons that were brought by the Oath Keepers and other folks, in and around the capitol attack. You'll see we're talking about, here is stark, it is serious, and to dismiss it or diminish it is to be woefully clueless. This is dangerous stuff.

HARLOW: You know, Elie, at the same event Trump supporters continue to use the big lie, that Trump won the 2020 election. There was also this from Flynn, and also from Sidney Powell, let's play it.


FLYNN: He won the popular vote here, he won the electoral college vote.

SIDNEY POWELL, FLYNN'S ATTORNEY: It should be that he could simply be reinstated, that a new inauguration day is set. .


HARLOW: What, that last one is Sidney Powell who argued recently -- remember reading the court filing -- that there is no reasonable person who would've actually believed her claims of voter fraud. She's being sued for a lot of money by Dominion Voting System, $1.3 billion in damages is what they want.


And yet she's just said again what we heard.

What do you make of?

HONIG: Yeah, this is unhinged delusional stuff as John just laid out. She's not helping herself in the civil case, like you said. Her defenses, nobody would take this seriously. Then she repeats.

Also, let's there be any question about how dangerous this rhetoric is, look at the Oath Keepers indictment, because what that indictment makes clear, this kind of rhetoric overheated as it is, has real effects. That rhetoric, that indictment lays out in detail, how rhetoric from Donald Trump and others around him, that is what spurred those Oath Keepers to storm the Capitol in January 6. There are real consequences to this language.

HARLOW: John Avlon, Elie Honig, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT next, seven million people flying in the United States this holiday weekend as Americans return to the theaters, big sporting events. But my next guest has a warning, as the country reopens.

And this tonight, a filmmaker releasing new video of a close encounter with a U.S. warship. What does it show? The filmmaker is OUTFRONT.



HARLOW: Tonight, growing signs this holiday weekend that life maybe getting back to normal. More than 7 million, screened at airports by the TSA since Thursday. Movies like "A Quiet Place Part 2" also helped kick off the summer movie season, overall box office sales expected to hit $100 million for the first time in over a year, and roughly 135,000 fans fill the stands to watch the Indy 500 in person.

OUTFRONT now, John Barry. He is the author of "The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History."

John, good evening. It's nice to have you.

JOHN BARRY, AUTHOR, "THE GREAT INFLUENZA": Thank you. Nice to be here and happy Memorial Day.

HARLOW: I hope it's a meaningful Memorial Day for you and your loved ones.

Let's begin with where we are. You've got 50 percent of Americans, receiving at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. You wrote this in your "Washington Post" column a few weeks ago, quote, COVID-19 was never going to disappear. But there is a reasonable chance it will fall under the 1918 president and become an endemic, influenza like illness that kills, serious enough to be sure and will require vaccine updates, but not require shutdowns. That would be the best case.

Based on where we are, and where we were this weekend, do you believe the worst is past us?

BARRY: In the United States, barring the emergence of a really nasty variant, which is always possible. I think the United States is in very good shape. I look forward to watching football and a stadium in a few months.

HARLOW: Who will you be rooting for?

BARRY: With Tulane University, of course.

HARLOW: Of course. We can't see -- we can't see your shirt, but you're wearing a Tulane shirt. Look, there have been a lot of comparisons to what you're next but on, when you've written so much about. And that is a 1918 flu pandemic, you had the Roaring Twenties that came after that. Yes, you had an economic slump for about three years, but we came out. You had the Roaring Twenties.

You wrote something interesting, you said in terms of social, economic impacts, 1918 is not a president. Why?

BARRY: Well, 1918 killed on a per capita basis, many, many more people. It was a much more lethal virus, but it was such a short period of time, any particular community in 1918, the virus passed through it, it was a lethal second wave. Six to eight weeks, we've been living, when it was over was over, it was over. There was a third wave, but they know it's coming, it was not as lethal as the second wave.

We've been dealing with this for well over a year. It has definitely affected society. There is -- you know, it's not as intense. There's not a tear those other 1919, but the incredible stresses that it has been put on people. The economic damage that so many people have suffered, that is much greater than 1918.

HARLOW: President Biden, as you know, in the last week has ordered the intelligence community to dig deeper into the origins of COVID-19, because there are so many questions about was it a lab leak from the Wuhan lab? And not a wet market, as China has claimed. Biden wants answers and 90 days.

One of the country's top vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez says not getting those answers, would likely have dire consequences. Listen.


DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF THE NATIONAL SCHOOL OF TROPICAL MEDICINE AT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE IN HOUSTON: This is now our 3rd major coronavirus epidemic, the slash pandemic of the 21st century. Mother Nature is telling us what's going to happen, there's going to be COVID 26, COVID 32 unless we fully understand the origins of COVID-19. And this is absolutely critical, and what's needed.


HARLOW: Do you agree with his dire warning?

BARRY: There is certainly going to be more pandemics, whether it's another influenza virus, whether it's another coronavirus is not really clear. But understand the origins are important.

I think the scientific committee is going to try and move toward a vaccine that would work against multiple coronaviruses. We should be easier to obtain frankly, just so they're trying to develop vaccines that will work against essentially all influenza viruses.

I do think it's very important, to find out the origin of this, and we do not know at this point, I think it's still probably more likely that is natural. But this is a reasonable possibility, I was an accidental lab release.

HARLOW: Finally, briefly, you leave us all with a warning. That is that hubris is not our friend. What did we learn?

BARRY: Well, I mean, India is the best example of that.


You know, they thought they had done very well in the first wave, they relaxed everything and they got hit now with a new variant, and, obviously, a very dire situation in India. We are in a much better position, because we have so many people vaccinated, and we have other people who have some immunity from natural infection.

But, the possibility does still exist for a variant, that's what happened in 1918. There was a first wave, that was quite mild, and so mild that scientific journal article said, it looks, and smells, like influenza isn't killing enough people, so it's not influenza.

Then, you have a lethal second wave. You know, it's still possible that a very nasty variant emerges, and will escape immune protection. And we just need to be careful about that.

It is much more likely to develop elsewhere in the world.


BARRY: Which is one reason it's on our self interest to help the world get vaccines distributed, as rapidly as possible.

HARLOW: Absolutely. John Barry, thank you so much for your time this evening.

BARRY: Thank you.

HARLOW: OUTFRONT next, newly released video shows a close encounter with the U.S. Navy ship, raising questions about UFOs ahead of a key report.

Plus, President Biden paying tribute to the men, and the women, who gave their lives fighting for freedom.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Duty, honor, country, they live for it. They died for it.




HARLOW: Tonight, a newly-released video, raising questions about the existence of UFOs. The video of radar, on the U.S. warship, off the coast of California, shows multiple objects popping up around the naval ship in July of 2019.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy (EXPLETIVE DELETED) they're going fast. Oh, it's turning around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That one is perfectly zero, zero, zero relative, right?



HARLOW: It comes ahead of the release next month of a highly anticipated military report on what the Pentagon calls, unidentified aerial phenomena. The man who posted the footage is documentary filmmaker, Jeremy Corbell. He joins me.

Jeremy, good evening.

The footage is incredible. You can see several objects, moving around the naval ship, before they all disappear. CNN reached out the Pentagon to ask about your video. And here is one of the DOD spokeswoman told us, quote: I can confirm that the reference photos and video were taken by Navy personnel. The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force included these incidents in their ongoing examination.

Explain, what you believe people are seeing on this video.

JEREMY CORBELL, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: Right. So, this is part of a much larger serious. I obtained, and released a series of it is, over the last two months that show corroborated data.

So, this is UFO radar footage from the USS Omaha. This is one of our warships, in a warning area, off of San Diego. It was swarmed, at one time, by more than 14 UFOs at one time.

So, I released all of this data with my mentor and journalism, George Knapp (ph), and were showing people real, government filmed, Pentagon confirmed, UFO footage, as it is engaging our military. So, this is groundbreaking, and important.

HARLOW: I just want people to be able to listen to this from former president Obama, who has opened up about this. Here's his assessment.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: What is true, and I'm actually being quite serious here, is that there are -- there's footage, and records, of objects in the skies that we don't know exactly what they are. We can't explain how they moved, their trajectory, and they did not have an easily explainable pattern. And so, I think that people do still take seriously, trying to investigate and figure out what it is.


HARLOW: Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly told CNN last week, he thinks it's sort of an optical illusion, quote, maybe combined with some military flight tests of unmanned aerial vehicles.

What do you say to that? What do you say to skeptics?

CORBELL: That is a data poor perspective, unfortunately. We have such a data rich environment at this time, about UFOs, which are unidentified. We don't know. Are these adversarial nations? Are these black projects? Those are all

being eliminated, one by one, and we are left with a very uncomfortable idea that these may be more exotic.

As you said, yourself, the Pentagon has confirmed the footage that I have obtained, and released. These are true unknowns, and they demonstrated technology, that is beyond next generation technology. Like the black and white footage that I released where it appears to be going into the water, without destruction. Yeah.

HARLOW: Jeremy, clearly, it dissipates for a much larger conversation. Jeremy, thank you.

CORBELL: Thank you for covering it.

HARLOW: OUTFRONT next, a special Memorial Day tribute to the men, and the women, who gave their lives serving this country. And we are button hour away from the premiere of CNN's new film, "Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street".

Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine Harlem, Bourbon Street and Chocolate City all in one place.

ANNOUNCER: From executive producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People call it the black Wall Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was nothing that you could not do. The sky was the limit.

ANNOUNCER: A strong black community destroyed by a white mob.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's lynch talks on the streets of Tulsa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White Tulsans murdering black folks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between 100 and 300 people, most of them black, were killed by white mobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, we're calling it a massacre.


ANNOUNCER: The crime was hidden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Victims were buried in unmarked graves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were trying to get rid of the bodies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: White Tulsans could control the narrative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a systematic cover-up. ANNOUNCER: Until now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a responsibility and an obligation to find the truth.

ANNOUNCER: "Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street".



HARLOW: Today, Memorial Day, of course, marks the unofficial start of summer, but this is a solemn day as well, as Americans from coast to coast remember those who died in service to our country, President Biden reminded us all of that deep sacrifice during his remarks today at Arlington National Cemetery.


BIDEN: This Memorial Day, we honor their legacy and, their sacrifice. Duty, honor, country, they lived for it, they died for it. And we as the nation are eternally grateful.


HARLOW: We are. And tonight, we remember them.

Thank you so much for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.