Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Obama Rips Republicans For Lining Up To Prevent Sweeping Voting Rights Bill "From Even Being Debated"; Obama Urges Passage Of Sweeping Voting Rights Bill As GOP Passes Laws At State Level To Make Voting More Restrictive; CNN: Decision On Possible Trump Org. Exec Charges As Soon As July; Similarities Between Lead-Up To Jan. 6 & End Of AZ Audit Raise Concerns: Hours Away From Polls Opening In NYC's Mayoral Primary. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 21, 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: Amara Walker reporting for us. Amara, thank you very, very much. Very disturbing. And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WOLFBLITZER. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, President Obama warns the country is in danger, pushing a major election reform bill. It's all but doomed in the Senate as Republicans in Georgia oust election officials who don't see eye to eye with them. Two of those officials are OUTFRONT.
Plus breaking news, pressure mounting on Trump's Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg to cooperate with prosecutors as CNN learns he could be indicted as soon as next month.
And the COVID outbreak shuts down a Florida government building, leaving two dead, three hospitalized. The only person who worked with the sick employees who didn't get it was vaccinated. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, 'our democracy on the line'. That's the quote from former President Barack Obama tonight as he says the United States must protect voting rights or America's democracy could be destroyed, invoking the January 6th insurrection to make his point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The violence that occurred in the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, just a few months ago, should remind us that we can't take our democracy for granted. Around the world, we've seen once-vibrant democracies go into reverse, locking in power for a small group of powerful autocrats and business interests and locking out the political process dissidents, and protesters, and opposition parties and the voices of ordinary people. It is happening in other places around the world and these impulses
have crept into the United States. We are not immune from some of these efforts to weaken our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Those words come as the fight over voting rights comes to ahead in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowing to bring a sweeping voting rights bill to the floor for a vote. The bill which the Democrats called the For the People Act would create automatic voter registration and would expand access to early and absentee voting.
It would also require states to overhaul their voter registration systems, limit state's ability to remove people from voter rolls, increased federal funds for election security and reform the redistricting process. Democrats say it's life or death for democracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Democrats will bring forward legislation to protect voting rights and safeguard our democracy.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Our democracy is at stake.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to do something to fight back.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): What we are trying to do is preserve democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The hot rhetoric, though, doesn't add up to the cold hard reality of votes. The math of Democrats right now does not add up, they need 60 votes to move ahead tomorrow and they're not anywhere close. They don't have a single Republican and the Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has yet to back it. Although he has indicated he's hopeful that he can get there but we'll see.
Meanwhile, in the States, something that needs urgent attention right now is happening to the former president's point. Local election workers and officials are feeling the brunt of standing up to Trump's big lie for doing the right thing, for saying we've counted the votes, in many cases once and twice and three times and here's who won, and that's fair, and that's right and that's what happened. Just for doing that, they're getting death threats against themselves and their families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL SCHMIDT, (R) PHILADELPHIA CITY COMMISSIONER: Those lies have consequences. As we've seen around the country, as we've seen in Washington, D.C., as I've seen outside my house, there are consequences to these lies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The person said enjoy your last birthday cake. BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, (R) GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: This is not
acceptable. This is not acceptable behavior to threaten the wives, the children, the family of people that work for the government or even the government workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Those individuals along with local officials across the country have been on the front lines, coming under attack for speaking the truth. It took a handful of brave officials in key swing states to say no to Donald Trump's lie in the crucial days following the November election. Those crucial heroes to stand up and say we've counted the votes and here is the winner. Just for that, they are the heroes who put America's democracy first and kept it intact.
Many of these people who stood up to their own party like Philadelphia's top election official Al Schmidt, Ohio Secretary of State Frank Larose, Arizona's Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Georgia's Elections Manager Gabriel Sterling along with Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab and there are others.
They may not be household names. Frankly, they don't want to be household names, neither Baoky Vu and Helen Butler. They're both local election officials in Georgia and both are now losing their jobs at the end of the month and being replaced by pro-Trump Republicans.
Vu do the ire of his fellow Republicans for standing up to Georgia's voting law which Trump and his allies backed. And Butler, a Democrat who's a vocal supporter of expanding voting rights is also getting booted, why? Well, it's because of the election law in Georgia that just happened. The Republican Governor Brian Kemp has signed a law which allows Republicans to appoint members to local election boards.
Before the law passed, it was a bipartisan decision. I'm going to speak to Vu and Butler in just a moment. But first Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill. And Manu, there is almost no chance this federal voting bill goes anywhere. And obviously Chuck Schumer knows that but going ahead with it anyway. Why?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They want to show that the Democrats are on the same page and make the argument. In their view Democrats are for expanding access to voting and there are arguments that Republicans are trying to restrict access to voting and they're trying to make that distinction very clear. And Republicans are arguing that this bill, the Democrats are pushing what amount Republicans say as a federal takeover of the election system.
But what's happening right now behind the scenes, Erin, is a furious effort to try to get Joe Manchin on board because the concern among Democrats is they do lose that one key vote it will lose that political argument going forward as they head into the midterm election season. So right now, Amy Klobuchar, who's the Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman is having discussions with Joe Manchin to try to get him on board.
Manchin told me earlier this evening he is still not made a decision about whether he will vote to proceed to that legislation tomorrow, saying he wants to see what are the changes that he has proposed, including voter ID requirements, including expanding early access to voting as well as other measures such as dealing with partisan gerrymandering whether that gets included in the bill. Also to pare back significantly, the Democrats more sweeping proposal that he opposes.
Now, Klobuchar told me as she was going in that they worked all through the weekend and trying to work into tonight to try to get an agreement just among Democrats. But Erin, even though they will, still there's optimism among the Democrats. They could get the whole caucus in line.
They still lacked that 60 votes that are needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. There are not going to be any Republicans tomorrow to move ahead, let alone 10 which they will need to overcome a filibuster and Manchin has said repeatedly he will not change the filibuster rules even on this issue to move ahead. So it means, Erin, almost certainly this is doomed until after next year's midterms, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Manu.
And I want to go now to those two Georgia elections officials I mentioned who are losing their seats, Baoky Vu, the Republican Vice Chair of the DeKalb County, Georgia Elections Board and Helen Butler, a Democratic member of the Morgan County, Georgia Board of Elections and Registration. Thanks to both of you.
So Baoky, let me start with you. Republicans tried to replace you as a Republican with a local conservative with a history of false statements. I guess when you look at this, do you think your removal could impact the results of the next election or frankly could have changed the results of 2020?
BAOKY VU, (R) VICE CHAIR, DEKALB COUNTY, GA ELECTION BOARD: Well, Erin, thanks for having me on. First of all, yes, it's certainly a possibility that the real elections integrity will be thrown out the window when you start putting some of these dangerous demagogues in the place of individuals who've carried out their duties under, at times, great risk to their health and to livelihoods.
I will say this, I don't consider myself a hero. The real heroes are the ones who are unnamed, like you said, the workers, the poll election officials, the volunteers, the corporate citizens who took out their time, spent money in order to get folks out to the polls. Those are the true heroes.
And for me, it really is about putting American democracy first. Why? Because for me I believe that voter access and elections integrity are the foundational pillars of functioning democracy. And so I refuse, I simply refuse to be a tool for voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement of our citizens. Forty-five years ago, my family left Saigon before the communists took
over Vietnam and I was I was taught never to take our precious freedoms for granted. And so to me, this is one small token of repayment.
BURNETT: Helen, Republicans say the changes to these election boards are to improve performance. That's the reason that they gave, improved performance. What do you think that actually really means? Baoky is being removed, obviously, he's a Republican. You're being removed along with others. Why do you think you're really being removed from the election board? What does improved performance actually mean?
HELEN BUTLER, (D) MORGAN COUNTY, GA BOARD OF ELECTIONS MEMBER: Erin, thank you for having me. But I can tell you I was not removed to improve performance. The things that we have advocated for on the Morgan County Boards of Elections have been accessed, more access to the ballot box. Having diverts workers, poll workers that will actually know how to operate new equipment that we have the new voting machine technology.
Having intergenerational kind of workers, making sure that polling locations of where they should be having drop boxes. But we've advocated it's a big scheme that goes along with the total takeover. The most egregious part of SB 202 is the takeover process where they can take over boards of elections, as well as takeover election supervisor responsibilities and take away constitutional responsibilities from the Secretary of State.
It has nothing to do with performance. Our Board was performing. We executed our duties flawlessly in a non-partisan way. So it was just a method of taking over, in addition to the legislation, the local legislation allows them also to take over boards of elections.
BURNETT: I mean, it's pretty incredible and we should point out, the bill only came to light. It only came even out there after the Republican Secretary of State of your State said that the election had been won by Joe Biden. So then suddenly in this bill that he, that role, loses its authority to certify.
Baoky, I want to play something else that the former President Obama said today about the fight over the voting rights bill that's going on up in Washington. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Think about this: In the aftermath of an insurrection, with our democracy on the line, and many of these same Republican senators going along with the notion that somehow, there were irregularities and problems with legitimacy in our most recent election. They are suddenly afraid to even talk about these issues and figure out solutions on the floor of the Senate. They don't even want to talk about voting. And that's not acceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: So Baoky, you're a Republican. Why do you think Republicans
in Washington are so opposed to this? So opposed to having a conversation even when you have someone like Joe Manchin say, hey, look, we're going to put voter ID in there, something Republicans have long cared about and is very popular among American voters. Why are Republicans so opposed to a voting bill?
VU: Well, I think sadly, first of all, our political party has devolved from party of ideas into a party of grievance and occult personality. In this case, the elected officials are afraid that the base who - they're pandering to the accusations that lies propagated by the former president will have an undue burden on them being reelected. But to me, again, voter access and elections integrity are the pillars of any strong democracy and they are putting our democracy on the line here.
Forty years ago, 30 years ago, no one ever did this. When George H. W. Bush lost the election in 1992, he graciously conceded. When Sen. John McCain lost to President Obama in 2008, he graciously conceded.
But we are at a point in this nation right now where American democracy is being undermined by these repeated assaults propagated by these dangerous demagogues. And I don't know what else to tell you, but bringing the state bringing the bad actors like Russia and what you've got are just some very worrisome signs.
BURNETT: Helen, you met with the Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss voting rights just the other day. Do you think the Biden administration has a real plan? I mean, I know it's important to have those meetings and it's important to do that, I don't mean to demean it, but there's a difference between having these meetings and actually saying, well, we're going to do something and here's a plan of attack, does she have one?
BUTLER: I believe they have a plan for voting rights and listening to people on the ground to know where it really works, what really needs to be done is a great step. Contrary to what our local elected officials did, they didn't talk to people who are actually doing the work.
They decided what they wanted to change, even looking at the impact of what it might mean, there were a lot of election officials who were caught off guard by this bill to take over their functions, things that they know to do. They've been doing this for years and they know how it worked.
So the plan is to have a federal legislation is in place and we definitely need that legislation now.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much. I appreciate it.
And next, the breaking news, CNN learning prosecutors could decide whether to indict Trump's Chief Financial Officer as soon as next month. That's nine days from now. That's when July starts. As investigators, we're learning, are now looking into another Trump executive. [19:15:04]
Plus, QAnon's obsession with the sham Arizona audit. The chatter around it now resembling what was taking place ahead of the January 6th insurrection. Tonight, an inside look at that security threat.
Plus, two people dead tonight, three more hospitalized after a COVID outbreak at a government building in Florida. We're now learning of a sixth case there. What's going on?
BURNETT: Breaking news tonight, prosecutors could decide whether or not to indict longtime Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg on tax related charges as soon as next month. That's according to a person familiar with the matter. Prosecutors want Weisselberg to turn on former President Trump.
CNN also learning Weisselberg's former daughter-in-law, Jennifer, who previously turned over boxes full of financial documents to prosecutors met again with investigators on Friday.
Kara Scannell is OUTFRONT. And Kara, given this timeline here it appears to keep moving closer and closer. It sounds like it's pretty dire for Allen Weisselberg.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Erin. It sounds like the walls are closing in here. A source tells CNN that prosecutors' investigation intel on Weisselberg is advanced and that they could decide whether or not to bring charges against him as soon as next month. The prosecutors are looking at Weisselberg on whether he paid taxes on some of these corporate perks he received such as a rent free apartment and a company car.
But he's not the only one that's under scrutiny for this. I mean, they're also looking at the Trump Organization and whether they were paying employees a small number of them through these perks to lower their payroll taxes, sources tell CNN. Now, one of those other employees we've learned tonight is Matthew Calamari. He's a top executive at the Trump Organization, the Chief Operating Officer.
The Wall Street Journal first reporting this today, but CNN has confirmed it and a source though tell CNN that the investigation into Calamari is not as advanced as the one into Weisselberg. But this is really seeming like it is the crux of this investigation with prosecutors focusing in on these corporate benefits and perks.
Now, Calamari's lawyer did not respond to our request for comment. Allen Weisselberg's attorney declined to comment. Neither of them to date have been charged with any wrongdoing. But, Erin, this is really the clock ticking here because Cy Vance, the District attorney, his term is up in six months and sources tell CNN that he still intends to make a decision on whether to charge anyone in this case, including the Trump Organization or the former president before he leaves office.
BURNETT: All right. Kara, thank you very much with the new reporting there. I want to go to Elie Honig, our Senior Legal Analyst, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. So obviously you know intimately what's going on here.
So Elie, Kara's reporting that prosecutors could decide whether or not to indict Allen Weisselberg as soon as next month which, let me just point out again, begins in nine days. So now that's just the beginning of the month, I understand they could go longer, but I mean, we'd originally been, oh, well, when Cy Vance leaves office in six, months now it's summer, now it's as soon as July, it keeps moving earlier and earlier. Does these timelines unrealistic to you?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely yes, Erin. Prosecutors have to be moving as quickly as humanly possible. They have to be thinking about endgame.
First of all, as Kara said, Cy Vance only has about six months left in office. He cannot leave this for his replacement who will be brand new in the office. Second of all, prosecutors have to think about the statute of limitations. Generally, you have five years from the time a crime is committed to charge it. A lot of this conduct goes back to 2016 and before that. So they need to keep an eye on that.
And finally, if they do get lucky enough to flip somebody of consequence, it takes time to get all their information and build that into another charge. So if I'm on this case, I'm telling my team, we need to be ready to go as soon as possible.
BURNETT: OK. So Jennifer Weisselberg, Allen's former daughter-in-law, met with investigators multiple times. I've talked to her about it. She's given them evidence, boxes of documents, you should see her in those pictures with it. She was meeting with them again on Friday. What does that tell you, Elie?
HONIG: It tells me prosecutors are targeting Allen Weisselberg for an indictment in order to try to flip him and he's exactly the right person to target. If I'm looking at the Trump Org, my attention goes right to him because he's the only member of the real inner circle there whose last name is not Trump. He's the only person who's not related to Donald Trump.
And the key question for me is what's in those boxes that Jennifer Weisselberg is turning over to prosecutors, does she have enough documentation to back up whatever she's telling them about potential crimes Allen Weisselberg might have been involved in.
BURNETT: Right. So OK, I've talked to her about some of that and she told me that's just one example. There were multiple things. But one example she said she had documents that would prove Trump himself paid for at least one of her children's tuitions, $54,000 a year at a private school. And CNN is confirming that prosecutors are investigating if other
Trump Org employees got benefits as all is part of this tactic to avoid paying payroll taxes. And all of this would add up to a lot over a lot of people, it would be we would call it systemic.
We understand one of the individuals under scrutiny for receiving subsidized rent and company cars is, as Kara just reported, Matthew Calamari who was Trump's former security guard and then became the Chief Operating Officer for the entire company. What does it mean for the investigation if this really seems to be the case they're building that this was par for the course?
HONIG: Yes. A couple of things. First of all, as a prosecutor, the more lines you put in, the more likely you are to flip somebody. Also if they can prove that this wasn't just something that was done for Allen Weisselberg but perhaps it was also done for Calamari, then you can argue more powerfully to a jury, look, this wasn't some mistake. This wasn't some oversight. This was a pattern. This was a way of doing business inside the Trump Org and that strengthens your case as a prosecutor.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Elie, I appreciate your time tonight.
HONIG: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. And next, QAnon followers now clinging to news that President Biden's German Shepherd champ passed away this weekend. Why in the world?
Plus, a government building in Florida shut down after a COVID outbreak that left two people dead and three in the hospital. Only one person in the affected office, one person didn't get sick. That person was vaccinated.
BURNETT: Tonight, growing concerns that the anticipation ahead of the Arizona audit results resembles what we saw leading up to the January 6th insurrection. QAnon followers in particular shifting all of their attention to this audit in the hopes of returning former President Trump to the White House. It comes as the FBI warns QAnon followers may carry out acts of violence against 'perceived members of the cabal such as Democrats and other political opposition - instead of continually awaiting Q's promised actions which have not occurred.
Donie O'Sullivan is OUTFRONT. And Donie, you've been reporting on this. You've been on the ground, how this is playing out among QAnon supporters and you see this, you see a clear parallel to January 6th?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Erin. There's an anticipation, and an energy and an obsession, frankly, much like we saw in the days and weeks leading up to January 6th. This idea that this is going to be today that everything is going to change, the election will be overturned. Something similar with that energy now we are seeing as we approach the end of this sham audit in Arizona. It's been something we've been hearing on the road, have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O'SULLIVAN: Are you disappointed when Trump lost the election?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was disappointed in the lack of truth and the election fraud that took place within it.
And it's coming out right now in Arizona and it's going to be a domino effect, so the truth is moving forward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless I'm mistaken, this is the first forensic audit of a presidential election, forensic. So, we don't know.
O'SULLIVAN: Do you genuinely think there's a possibility that the election --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That Trump could obtain the electoral slate of Arizona? Yes, I think that's a possibility. If that happens, could that happen to Georgia, possibly, possibly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'SULLIVAN: So, Erin, you can hear that there are people obsessed with this idea that Arizona could be the first domino to fall and the election could get overturned, which, of course, is false.
BURNETT: It is. I mean, and, you know, as you point out these disturbing parallels, you also see, Donie, of course, President Trump in a parallel, stirring up supporters ahead of the results in Arizona, right, making this audit such a big deal as he did the January 6 certification.
Here's what he said about the audit.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Stay tuned for Arizona, it's going to be a very interesting time in our country.
JOE PAGS, HOST: It will be.
TRUMP: It's going to be a very interesting time. You understand what that means, because it will be, you know, I mean, how do govern when you lost? How do you govern when you lost?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, it's disturbing, Donie, and, yet, of course, there are people who hear that and there are people who believe it. How much are people taking their cues from Trump?
O'SULLIVAN: Yeah, I think that is the most concerning thing here of anything, Erin, is that, you know, we've seen these states come and go, right? We know QAnon supporters, some of them believe that the inauguration wasn't going to happen, that martial law would be declared. Others believe that Trump was in some way going to come back in March 4th.
But Trump himself did not endorse either of those ideas openly, what we are seeing now is Trump as you can hear there, it's incredible to hear a former president of United States talking about, you know, how can his -- Biden govern if he didn't really win the election? Trump is now out there, openly endorsing this idea that the Arizona audit could be the first dominoes to fall. And that's I think a very, very dangerous situation.
BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely.
Donie, thank you very much --
BURNETT: -- for your reporting on this.
I want to go OUTFRONT now and tonight's inside look to Mike Rothschild, who is the author of "The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult and Conspiracy Theory of Everything", which comes out tomorrow.
Mike, so look this is not crucial for all of us to understand and to read. You know, these election audits have become the new focus of QAnon supporters. What are you seeing?
MIKE ROTHSCHILD, AUTHOR, "THE STORM IS UPON US: HOW QANON BECAME A MOVEMENT": I'm seeing these audits become the focal point for all of this movements energy and their prophetic desire for great change. You have to understand with QAnon, this is a prophetic movement. They believe that there will be a great event that only a few select people know about that will sweep away all of the corruption and evil, and restore goodness and patriotism. And for three and a half years, that was the storm, that was the great unsealing of indictments, the mass arrests of the Democrats, of Hollywood, the business, wealthy, powerful string-pullers who are making everybody's lives miserable.
Well, that's not going to happen now, Joe Biden is presumably as deep in the deep state as you get. He is not going to arrest himself. So, what you have now is not a prophesy of Trump getting rid of all the bad people, but it prophesy have Trump being restored to office. That's really where people are looking at right now.
BURNETT: So the FBI has warned, obviously, Mike as you're well aware, that QAnon believers may carry out more acts of violence. They have talked about for months about that Myanmar-style coup in the United States, with former General Flynn encouraged.
Here's what some of them told our Donie O'Sullivan recently at a Trump rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a false election, they took over and that's what happened. The military took over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That could possibly happen here possibly, if the military thinks that Trump --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I personally think that's what they're working towards.
O'SULLIVAN: Do you think that's what could happen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's when I think would happen.
O'SULLIVAN: Would you like to see it happen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to see it happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know why, because the election was stolen from us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The military is doing their own investigation, at the right time they're going to be restoring the republic with Trump as president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Mike, do you believe QAnon is a real security threat at this point?
ROTHSCHILD: Absolutely, QAnon has been a security threat since the very beginning. The very first Q drop in late October 2017 said, that Hillary Clinton was about to be arrested and that the Marines and National Guard holdup to crush the rights that would take place in the wake of that arrest. This is a movement that is always yearned for a kind of military dictatorship, to take over and get rid of the people that they dislike.
And a lot of these people are just waiting for it to happen, maybe they make some Twitter puffs. But if you people are very eager to take into their own hands, we started seeing as early as summer 2018 when you had the Hoover Dam blockade by a QAnon believer waiting for the real inspector general report to be released.
ROTHSCHILD: That doesn't exist, that came from Q.
This guy had 900 rounds of ammunition and it was in a homemade armored truck. It's a miracle nobody was killed when he was arrested.
BURNETT: I mean, you know, one of the whole premise this is for Q is this belief and this satanic child pedophile Democratic ring of some sort, which is really hard stuff to even understand, okay that someone who believe this. But you have seen chatter among QAnon followers, about something that just happened, Mike, that I do want to ask you about because this is really out there.
BURNETT: This is the German shepherd, sorry, Champ, Biden's German shepherd Champ died at the family's home in Delaware this weekend. This is not part of QAnon belief of white?
ROTHSCHILD: QAnon operates in a secret language, so things that seem run-of-the-mill to us like a picture of a dog, or a code, or symbol to them in secret communication. We call it calms. This is one of the things that brings QAnon people together, that they have a secret shared language that keeps other people out.
So, one of the things that has a meeting the secret language, are pictures of dogs that were the owned by prominent people and those dogs died. When those dogs die, that is supposed to be a code that a high-level member of the string pulling cabal has died or is going to be executed. That death will be used as a false flag, to perpetrate some kind of terrorist event.
It sounds completely bonkers, because it is to most people who look at things and see them for what they want to see, it makes perfect sense.
BURNETT: Which is why it's so terrifying, right? Something you can reason with and you can explain, and to somebody who believes, it right? That's the whole power of it, the problem with it.
You tackle this in your book, what's advice do you give, I know people have family members who they don't know how to deal with anymore or even interact with, because their family members believe the stuff. What do you -- what do those families do?
ROTHSCHILD: The first thing that you do is you realize that you are not alone. Whether it's QAnon, whether it's extremism, or whether it's membership in some kind of a violent group. There are a great number of people right now who are in meshed in violence, prophetic extremist movements. So, you are not alone. You're not the only person that this is happening to.
The second thing is, that if you feel like you need to cut off contact with this person, that is absolutely within a right to do that to keep yourself safe.
But if this is someone who you do want to reach out to, you feel like you might be able to get through to, don't try to debunk it, don't try to fact check him out of it, don't try mock way out of it. None of that is going to work in just going to drive them in deeper.
Make sure they know that your safe place, you are safe person to talk to. Not about politics or Trump or anything like that, but just about shared experiences with things you've enjoyed together. Let them know that you are there, if they start to find some trouble, some contradiction in this movement. If they start to find a dangling threat, they start to pull on and you can be there to help them through it.
BURNETT: Mike, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much and I hope everyone reads this book. It has become such a crucial thing for people to understand, for all of us. "The Storm is Upon Us" by Mike Rothschild as I said. Thanks so much.
ROTHSCHILD: Thank you for having me.
BURNETT: And, next an outbreak in a government building in Florida, two dead, three hospitalized. And now, we're learning the only person from that particular office that didn't get sick, was vaccinated.
Plus, we are just hours from polls opening in the most watched mayoral race in the United States, as the top Democrat is now getting behind a candidate who wants to put more police on the street.
BURNETT: New tonight, a sixth worker at a county government building in Florida testing positive for coronavirus. This after a COVID outbreak left two people dead and three hospitalized in one office in the building, two dead and three hospitalized. That's five people. They're only six in the office and the only not sick was vaccinated.
Now, it seems to have spread beyond that office in this building which is now close. The 2 people who died were both in those fifties, the youngest of those hospitalized was 40. All five of the cases, people were not vaccinated as I said.
OOUTFRONT now, county administrator Scott Hopes. He's also an epidemiologist who worked in the SARS epidemic.
So, Scott, I really appreciate your time. This is a disturbing story, OK, for everyone trying to imagine going back to work and normal life. Thank you for joining me. I'm sorry for this it's awful and awful for these families who at this one probably thought this was in the past and in the rearview mirror.
What can you tell me about the latest confirmed case, which I understand was in the building but outside of the exact office of where these IT workers work?
SCOTT HOPES, ADMINISTRATOR OF FLORIDA COUNTY WHERE COVID OUTBREAK SHUT DOWN GOVERNMENT BUILDING: Right. The original six workers, five of which had contact with patient zero and were all infected except for the one vaccinated the individually 7th floor, I was just inform this afternoon that indeed we had another cased test positive like last week, working on the same floor but not in the IT department. Ironically, it's one of our cares worker that's been working to help people with rental assistance.
BURNETT: I mean, so my understanding from what you said is in the first 5 cases, that other than this were mostly healthy. The initial symptom was just a simple sore throat, but then days later, two of them were dead and three others are in the hospital. That is really scary, right?
We understand that the new variant going around is more transmissible, possibly more deadly. When I'll see know whether these workers had a variant? Or how they were interacting in this office?
HOPES: Well, from the clinical presentation, it certainly appears that way. Patient zero was one of the group of six, five individuals had direct contact with a patient zero. All were infected with the exception of the one young man, 23 years old, who is vaccinated and individuals that had contact with the vaccinated individual.
Also did not -- also tested negative. What's unfortunate is that of these five infected cases, all of which were either severely ill to the point of hospitalization are dead. Actually, four were hospitalized, one hospitalized individual died, and one individual that was not hospitalized, is also, deceased.
And it's my understanding that this 6th case, on the same floor, also has been hospitalized. The clinical presentation gives me concern that we are dealing with a very infectious variant that is quite deadly.
BURNETT: It would certainly indicate that. I know you haven't on mass testing, but you're telling me that the person who it is has another one who's been hospitalized.
Look, I understand, Scott, you are part of the decision when county eliminated the decisions for masking, and distancing, right, and Florida offices. And they cited the widespread availability of vaccines. But when I hear this, or anyone else here is this, and they've all been told you need to go back to work, and it's an honor system on the vaccine, what do you think the policy should be? I mean, does this -- this isn't something people want to take on the honor system.
If you come to work, should it be that you have to be vaccinated?
HOPES: Well, ironically,, we are looking in the rearview mirror. At the same time this was taking place, I was an elected official on the school board of Manatee County.
And, later that week, we voted to end the mask requirement, but it was also the last day of school. But -- and looking at this, we encourage people to get vaccinated, and we've encouraged those that are not vaccinated to wear a mask, and not just any mask, and N95 mask, or an equivalent, which we have made available to all employees, and visitors. Clearly, the masks work, but the vaccine is more important this point.
BURNETT: I would hope people understand, you're talking around six people getting it now, right? One of whom who is vaccinated is okay, 5 hospitalized, or dead. I would hope that people who don't take this seriously, I don't know what -- I don't know what they do take seriously.
HOPES: No, I agree with you. This is a very serious concern, and the vaccine, at least in this case, has been proven to be effective against this variant. And it's a variant that is highly in contagious, and deadly.
BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Well, Scott, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
HOPES: Sure, Erin. Thank you, goodnight.
BURNETT: All right. Good night.
And next, a last-minute twist in one of the most watched mayoral -- watched mayoral races, I'm sorry, mayoral races in the United States. Why two of the front runners are campaigning together.
Plus, remembering a woman we first told you about last week. You remember the grocery store worker? She was shot. She was killed, just because she asked a customer to wear his mask.
BURNETT: Tonight, U.S. approaching 300 mass shootings this year. Ten of those shootings happening this weekend alone. Seven people dead, 45 injured. Among the victims, two children, a 10-year-old and a 15-year- old in Dallas.
It's a crisis coast to coast, and it's front and center in New York City, and it's mayoral race ahead of the primary election tomorrow.
Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.
ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I have never had a doubt, not one day, that we would not going to win this.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eric Adams, the perceived front runner in the New York City mayoral race, striking an optimistic tone in the final hours before tomorrow's Democratic primary. His confidence coming in part from the belief that his anti- crime campaign message has resonated with voters in a city where shooting incidents are up 64 percent year to date.
ADAMS: I am going to show you how to keep a city safe, without treating people into disgrace. CARROLL: Adams, a retired former captain in the NYPD, took aim to
other leading mayoral candidates, Andrew Yang, and former sanitation commissioner, Catherine Garcia. Who, in a surprise last-minute move, teamed up over the weekend, and campaigned together.
Yang, announcing Garcia is his number 2 choice for mayor.
ANDREW YANG (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: If you support me, please do have (ph) Kathryn Garcia also on your ballot. She's a tremendous public servant.
CARROLL: While the two campaigned together, and handed out literature with both of their faces, Garcia stopped short of co-endorsing Yang.
KATHRYN GARCIA (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I am not telling my voters want to do, I just want them to get out there, and I want them to use the system that we have for ranked choice. As I've said, since the beginning, I wouldn't be in this place if I had a solid number two.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ranked choice voting for its June primaries.
CARROLL: For the first time, rather than choose one candidate, New York City primary voters can rank their top 5 choices for mayor. That way, even if a voters topic doesn't have enough support to win, their rankings of other candidates could end up playing a role in determining a winner. Adams has not named a 2nd choice, and accused the Garcia-Yang matchup as, an effort to shortchange black and brown voters.
ADAMS: For them to come together, like they're doing in the last three days, they are saying, we can't trust a person of color to be mayor of the city of New York.
CARROLL: Maya Wiley, former counsel to Bill Blasio, who has emerged as a top progressive candidate in the race, took a moment during the final stretch to show off a different set of skills.
She issued a statement, disagreeing with Adam saying, in part: Kathryn Garcia and Andrew Yang, have made a decision to campaign with one another. It is not a decision I would have made. However, this partnership is not racist, and we should not use this term so loosely against other candidates at the end of a long campaign.
CARROLL (on camera): And, Erin, Adams got a late endorsement from the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The chair of that committee, Congressman Maloney, as you know, blamed many of our losses that they saw in 2020, in House races, on those members of the party who are out there, and endorsing defund the police.
CARROLL: And so, this go-around, they're advocating for someone who is more police, not less -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jason.
Next, a touching tribute to the grocery store worker who was killed after asking a customer to wear his mask.
BURNETT: A moving memorial happening right now for a woman we told you about last week, her name is LaQuitta Willis. She's the Georgia grocery employee who was shot and killed just doing her job, asking customer to wear his mask properly. Willis died a week ago after a man argued with her about the mask. She was a longtime employee of the Big Bear supermarket in Decatur, a vital member of her community.
This is what LaQuitta's sister told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXIS BRELAND, SISTER OF LAQUITTA WILLISM, GROCERY CLERK SHOT AND KILLED: She was actually a, serving leader of our community. As prevalent as you can see with all the people that are coming out a supporter, you can see the many lies that she touched.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Servant leader and a bright light. That's who LaQuitta was, and our sincere condolences to her family, to her friends, to her whole community for this unspeakable loss of LaQuitta.
And thanks to all of you for being with us.
Anderson starts now.