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New Day Saturday
Georgia Governor Signs Controversial Voting Law; Biden: Georgia Voting Law Is "Jim Crow in the 21st Century"; At Least 2 Killed, 8 Injured in Multiple Shooting In Virginia; CDC: More Than 136 Million Vaccines Administered In U.S. So far; Dominion Voting System Files $1.6 Billion Lawsuit Against Fox News; Number Of Migrant Children In Federal Custody Jumps By Nearly A Thousand In One Day; Trump Claims Capitol Rioters Posed "Zero Threat"; RPT: Military Kills At Least 50 Pro-Democracy Protesters In Myanmar. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired March 27, 2021 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Biden saying his Justice Department is looking into the new sweeping Georgia law that restricts voting.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting.
GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): It was an election security bill that actually increases early voting opportunities on the weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not only did this come from the big lie that Donald Trump told and follow record turnout among Black voters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The CDC reporting nearly 3.4 million doses of vaccine administered since yesterday, setting a new daily record.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the time to let down our guard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know what to do. We wait for science to rescue us. The science starts rescuing us, we start pulling back further.
DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER DIRECTOR, CDC: If I was to guess, this virus started transmitting somewhere in September, October in Wuhan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Robert Redfield knows where when he speaks. He had access to the information.
DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Most virologists think that he's wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --to be really helpful to offer in some data--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This NEW DAY WEEKEND with Victor Blackwell and Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Cloudy start over the City of Atlanta. Good morning to you. Listen, we're starting in Atlanta and with that shot, because we are starting in Georgia this morning and the nationwide response to the new voting restrictions that the governor signed into law there.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. President Biden has joined the outcry now, saying that Justice Department is looking into what he called quote "Jim Crow in the 21st Century."
BLACKWELL: Voting rights groups have filed a flurry of lawsuits challenging the law. They argue it is designed to discourage voter turnout. And the President who won Georgia in November with a surge of minority support did not hold back as he slammed the new restrictions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: It's an atrocity. The idea - if you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency. They passed a law saying you can't provide water for people standing in line while they're waiting to vote. You don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting. As you can't provide water for people about to vote? Give me a break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So, George's Republican controlled legislature fast tracked the measure to the governor's desk after Democrats won both the presidential race and two Senate special elections in the state. Remember, critics say the law targets minority voters. Supporters paint the bill as an effort to restore confidence in the state's electoral process, despite the fact that there's no evidence of widespread fraud in the last election cycle.
Here is CNN's Sara Murray.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signing a dramatic overhaul of the state's election laws, the first GOP victory in restricting voter access in a major battleground state.
KEMP: After the November election last year I knew, like so many of you, that significant reforms to our state elections were needed.
MURRAY (voice-over): The law puts new voter identification requirements on absentee ballots, limits dropboxes to indoor locations during business hours, allows state officials to take over local elections boards and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to provide food and water.
KEMP: Well, it wasn't a voting rights bill, it was a election security bill that actually increases early voting opportunities on the weekend here in Georgia.
MURRAY (voice-over): The legislation doesn't include earlier efforts to get rid of no excuse absentee voting, and it allows expanded weekend early voting. But advocates say it is still riddled with restrictions that make it harder, particularly for minorities, to vote.
DONNA MCLEOD (D) GEORGIA STATE HOUSE: This is the despicable and disgusting. And it creates more barriers to our voters so that they're not having access to the ballot box like they should. And to actually say to people, you can give somebody food or water, that's just cruel and inhumane.
MURRAY (voice-over): It was a striking scene, Thursday, as Kemp huddled behind closed doors with a handful of white men to sign the bill.
MCLEOD: This Jim Crow 2.0 is represented in that picture. You see those men. There there's no color in them. There's just pure white males trying to basically hold on to power with their life.
MURRAY (voice-over): Just outside Kemp's office, Park Cannon, a Black State Representative, was arrested and marched out of the capitol by several police officers after she knocked on Kemp's door, trying to gain access to the signing ceremony.
Cannon, now out of jail and facing two felony charges, which her allies say, she intends to fight.
ERICA THOMAS (D) GEORGIA STATE HOUSE: We are now is praying for her strength to get through this and we are definitely lawyered up to defend her in every way we know how.
MURRAY (voice-over): Georgia's law, just one of hundreds of bills Republicans are pushing nationwide, as they hold tight to baseless claims of fraud amid their 2020 electoral defeats. Even Kemp, who defended Georgia's election integrity last year, now appears to be buying into the big lie as he braces for a reelection fight in 2022.
KEMP: There's no doubt there were many alarming issues with how the election was handled. And those problems understandably led to the crisis of confidence in the ballot box here in Georgia.
MURRAY (voice-over): Former President Trump, meantime, still parroting his fact free claims.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at the last election, it was disgraceful. It was a third world election. It was a disgrace.
MURRAY (voice-over): As the fallout of the big lie spreads, Fox News facing a $1.6 billion defamation suit from Dominion Voting Systems for spreading lies that the machines were linked to election fraud.
STEPHEN SHACKELFORD, DOMINION LEGAL COUNSEL: Fox gave life to these lies. Fox took this small flame and they turned it into a raging fire.
MURRAY (voice-over): This is former Trump legal team member, Sidney Powell, defends herself in her own defamation suit from Dominion, claiming in a court filing that even though she spread voter fraud claims, "no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact."
MURRAY (on camera): And in a statement Friday night, Donald Trump congratulated the Georgia State Legislature, saying in a statement, "They learned from the travesty of the 2020 presidential election, which can never be allowed to happen again. Too bad these changes could not have been done sooner."
Meanwhile, there were three civil rights groups who are already challenging that new Georgia law in court. Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Sara, thank you so much. I want to bring in the President of Atlanta's Chapter of the NAACP, Richard Rose. Mr. Rose, so grateful to have you here. Sara just mentioned some of the organizations that are bringing some legal action against this, that are filing some lawsuits. Does the NAACP have anything to do with any of those lawsuits or perhaps any plans to file your own?
RICHARD ROSE, PRESIDENT, NAACP ATLANTA: We absolutely have plans statewide to file a separate lawsuit. There's already been filed by a couple of other grassroots organization. But all of us are unanimous in opposing this bill, this egregious reminder of Jim Crow. It could be 1921 instead of 2021.
PAUL: Help us understand what it feels like to read some of these restrictions that are being put on at the limits of the ballot drop boxes, the new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, making it a crime to give food and water to people who are standing in line. When people see that, when we see such a turnout, as we saw in the last three elections here in Georgia, help us understand what that means to the people who maybe showed up for the first time?
ROSE: Sure. You it's intended to be - to discourage our voters. But the only two things that are missing from this voting - for this bill, is the question of how many bubbles in a bar soap and how many jellybeans in a jar. They have completely changed the way election is supposed to be run in Georgia. And it is, again, obstacles - continue to put forth obstacle for people for the poor, to be able to vote.
These ballot boxes restrictions, the food and water, as you mentioned earlier, just absolutely unconscionable kinds of restrictions. But we will fight these and we will also be fighting throughout these elections, throughout the court battle and in our communities to make sure that we are not discouraged from voting. We will not be mistreated. We will not stand - we will be standing up to these restrictions.
Dr. King said that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And we call on people - righteous people across this nation to stand with Georgia, to stand against these egregious restrictions.
PAUL: I want to get your thoughts on another twist of fighting this. The AME 6th Episcopal District is calling for a statewide boycott, specifically of Coca-Cola and companies that have not voiced an opposition to this bill.
I want to listen to Bishop Reginald Jackson yesterday - last night, actually, talking about what's next. I'm sorry--
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. JAMES WOODALL, PRESIDENT, GEORGIA NAACP: Thank you about the county level organizing that we're going to see, because we know this, this fight is not over. And other states needs to be put on notice that this is going to continue to happen. We see it already in Arizona, we've seen in Michigan, we've seen in Texas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I apologize. That's Reverend James Woodall, who's the State President of the Georgia NAACP. When he says he's looking at the county level organizing they're putting on, putting other states on notice, what precise plans other than legal action do you have?
ROSE: Well, one of the things we want to do is call out corporations across America to not accept that racism is an acceptable political philosophy. Racism is an evil against humanity. And those corporations that we buy from, that we support, should not be supporting racists across this country.
And we call upon Coke and Delta and UPS and all the major corporation to absolutely just stop supporting these politicians with their contributions. They should reject the philosophy of racism in every way possible.
PAUL: Do you think an economic boycott will help?
ROSE: Well, we think we should be selective consumers. And those corporations who stand with the racist, who stand with Jim Crow, we should not stand with them.
PAUL: OK. I want to ask you about Georgia Representative Park Cannon. We saw the video there of her being arrested as she was knocking on the door of the governor as he was signing the bill. Have you spoken to Park Cannon?
ROSE: I have not spoken to her. Our first Vice President of Atlanta NAACP is representing her. We think he's doing a fine job. There are two felonies lodged by the state. We'll see how that works out with the Fulton County District Attorney finding with us. We don't believe that they would return an indictment on those charges. PAUL: It's spring, the election is five months in our rear view mirror, why do you think this has become an issue when initially Governor Kemp continued to defend that there was a fair election in November here in Georgia?
ROSE: Well, as I speak to voters, our citizens, I remind them that not only is the vote powerful, the threat of the vote is powerful. And that is what we see. They are threatened by the turnout that we saw in January 5th, which was phenomenal 92 percent of what the November 30th election turnout was. That never happens in a runoff, has never happened in Georgia and so they are threatened by that.
They're - they've admitting that they don't have policies that will appeal to people, so what they want to do is pick and choose who can vote.
PAUL: Richard Rose, we appreciate you taking time for us on this Saturday morning. Thank you, sir, for being with us.
ROSE: You're welcome. Thanks for having me.
PAUL: Of course.
BLACKWELL: So the election law in Georgia and others pending in state legislatures across the country puts voting rights towards the front of an already packed list of legislative challenges for Congress.
PAUL: Let's get to Capitol Hill. CNN's Daniella Diaz is there. Daniella, any action we know is going to need to wait, because Senators aren't going to be in Washington for a while. How long are they gone and what happens thereafter?
DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Christi, the Senate is in recess for two weeks and this comes as there are major issues looming over the Senate, including this voting rights legislation that has hit a wall.
This legislation called SP1 (ph) would counter any Republican led efforts at the state level to limit voter access. And this comes as you guys mentioned with this interview you just had before me. This legislation passed in Georgia that would limit voter access. And this comes also as President Joe Biden won the state in the 2020 election and President Donald Trump has been pushing the lie that the election was stolen from him.
And two, Democrats won a Senate runoff in January, taking seats that were previously held by Republicans. Here's what one Senator had to say about the issue this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): This is an interesting change in tune for the Governor. He just said couple years ago that everything was under control with our elections here in Georgia. Our own Secretary of State said that the election that was held - this most recent election - was not rife with fraud, as some have tried to suggest. And so, what's the purpose behind all of this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAZ: So, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has committed that this will be a priority in this Congress. He wants to see this passed by the Senate. But right now, we - they've hit a wall, as I've mentioned they do not have the 60 votes needed to pass this in the Senate, true for a lot of legislation that Democrats want to pass in this Congress.
They need 60 votes to break the filibuster. We always go back to that topic - the filibuster again and again. And Republicans have called this a major power grab on behalf of Democrats, which is why they're not supporting this.
But, look, these Republican led state efforts at the state level to limit voter access will have massive consequences on elections going forward, which is why Democrats are making this a priority.
PAUL: Daniella Diaz, we appreciate it. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: There's an investigation into what police are calling a chaotic night in Virginia Beach. Two people are dead, eight others are injured after three shootings on the ocean front. Eight people were hurt at the original crime scene.
Their injuries ranged from serious to life threatening. A police officer then shot and killed and a man with a weapon just a few blocks away in a related incident we're told, not clear if the man killed was suspected of shooting those eight victims.
Then there was a woman who was later shot and killed in the area, in what police believe was an isolated incident. And a Virginia Beach Police officer was hit by a car during all this chaos. He is expected to be OK, though.
PAUL: So the U.S. is breaking these records when it comes to coronavirus vaccinations, would seem to be the good news. But there were more than 1,200 people who died just yesterday of COVID-19. What health officials say we need to do next?
BLACKWELL: Still ahead, disturbing new video of migrants - a lot of them children - at a facility near the U.S.-Mexico border. And the number show the crisis is getting worse.
BLACKWELL: Coronavirus vaccines are being administered at a record pace across the United States, getting closer to - it's still far off, but getting closer to the goal of herd immunity. According to the White House COVID Response Team, more than 71 percent of the group most vulnerable to coronavirus, people 65 and over, have received at least one shot. PAUL: CNN's Polo Sandoval is with us from a mass vaccination center in New York. Polo, good to see you this morning. I know a lot of great news coming when we're talking about vaccinations, particularly. But the Director of the CDC still says she's, "deeply concerned." Talk to us about that.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Christi, because at the end of the day, according to the nation's top infectious disease expert, we haven't turned the corner yet, especially we're still losing an average of about 1,000 people a day to the coronavirus. And, of course, those other parts of the country that are still experiencing an uptick in their cases.
But, nonetheless, speaking to that silver lining there certainly are some positive data points indicate that at least we are at that corner according to Dr. Anthony Fauci that includes, the fact that by now we've seen almost over 137 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered across the country, the fact that we are now seeing an average daily rate of about 2.6 million vaccinations a day. So because of that, we're slightly going to continue to see that numbers - those number increase.
And then also consider the fact that come Monday, we will see another round of states expand eligibility to include members of the general public. Those states including Oklahoma, Ohio, Texas, North Dakota, Louisiana, and we are expected to see even more states before the beginning of May 1st, expand their vaccine eligibility.
Something else that you should be on the lookout for is this research that was announced by Dr. Anthony Fauci just yesterday. Scientists are going to be setting out to answer two key questions that are affecting those close to 50 million Americans that consider themselves now fully vaccinated, and that is, can they be infected asymptomatically and can they potentially infect those of us who have not been vaccinated?
I want you to hear directly from Dr. Anthony Fauci as he previewed this research for us just yesterday.
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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: So we hope that within the next five or so months we'll be able to answer the very important question about whether vaccinated people get infected asymptomatically and if they do, do they transmit the infection to others?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: Now, in order to answer those questions, they will be enlisting to help about 12,000 college students that they will be monitoring. They will have to be keeping a digital journal as well. They'll continue to obtain some of those nasal swabs as well to try to answer those key questions.
Because as Dr. Fauci points out, that will be key in reviewing the latest guidance, which is still to continue to wear the mask, continue to remain socially distant even if you've been vaccinated as well. So, again, five months from now we could potentially see a change to that, but we'll have to see.
BLACKWELL: Polo Sandoval for us in New York, thank you. And let's start there with Dr. Megan Ranney. She is an emergency physician at Brown University. Doctor, good morning to you, and let's start with what we heard from Dr. Fauci. If vaccinated peoples get infected asymptomatically and can they then transmit - transfer the virus? How would that potentially change the response to the virus and the timeline on getting back to normal?
MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY: That would be a very, very unfortunate scenario if it were true. The good news is, is that the data to date suggests that it's not true. That if vaccinated people do get infected, it's at a very low rate and they get very mild symptoms. And it seems so far like they are less likely to transmit it to others.
But if they could get infected and transmit it, it would mean that being vaccinated only protects me and does not protect you, which would be a shame, because it's going to make it tough then for the folks who can't get the vaccine or for whom the vaccine doesn't work, it means that they would never be protected.
What we're really hoping for is herd immunity like we have with measles or mumps or any of the other common vaccines where enough of us are vaccinated that we protect those who are too young or too old or too sick to be able to get the vaccine.
BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about that approach to herd immunity. Pfizer has now started trials of its vaccine on children under the age of 12. If it's safe and effective, of course, that could help schools get open - reopen soon across the country.
Now, herd immunity, the latest number I heard is the need for 80 percent of people to be vaccinated. If you've got 23 percent of the population that's under 18 and you've got a significant amount of adults who will not get the vaccine, maybe they're anti-vaxxer, so they're just reluctant. You need kids to get vaccinated, do you not?
RANNEY: Well, so far, the data suggests that kids are less likely to catch and transmit the vaccine - or excuse me catch and transmit the virus, particularly those who are less than 12. Vaccinating them would be lovely.
But I'll say I have a nine-year-old, he's been back in school since October in our public school system. Whether or not the kids are vaccinated, once the teachers and staff are vaccinated, if you have universal masking in place, it is absolutely safe to put those kids back.
Would vaccinating all kids help us to control the virus? Doubtless it would. But I think that we can start moving back towards normal once we do get an enough adult vaccinated even before we get it in kids. BLACKWELL: OK, so the concern that we're hearing from the White House about maybe rushing back to a state of normalcy too soon. The Miami Heat, they have announced that they'll offer a vaccinated only section at home games, that fans will have to wear masks. Social distancing rules will be relaxed.
Listen, we all want to get back to concerts, we want to get back to our sporting events. Do you think that this is a prudent decision, even with masks and some social distancing?
RANNEY: So, I'll tell you, I've worked a bunch of shifts in the ER this week and I am still seeing people who are really sick with COVID. And, of course, the folks that come to the ER, they're just the tip of the iceberg. None of the people who are admitted to the hospital or to the ICU had been vaccinated.
I want to get back to normal just as much as anyone. And the data suggests that if two people are vaccinated, it is safe for them to be around each other. Chance of them getting sick, chance of themselves giving the virus to each other is really low.
But right now, when so few people in the U.S. have been vaccinated, putting large groups of people together in an indoor space is simply not safe. And that's why we're continuing to see cases hospitalizations and deaths. That's why we've stalled or even worsened on our progress against this vaccine - against the virus.
BLACKWELL: All right. Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you so much.
RANNEY: Thank you.
PAUL: So, Fox News is facing a $1.6 billion lawsuit, accused of spreading election lies about Dominion Voting Systems. What could this mean for the network, we'll talk about that next.
PAUL: Well, the number of unaccompanied minors in federal custody is growing this week, that's according to the latest government data. There were about 18,000 minors in Border Patrol custody on Thursday. That's up from more than 17,000 the day before.
Now, the Biden administration has struggled to move children away from Border Patrol facilities within the legal timeframe that's allotted. Alayna Treene a White House Reporter for Axios is with us now.
Alayna, good to have you with us. Talk to me, first of all, about the Biden administration. We're getting this information that's calling for more federal volunteers to help with the migrant children. What does that tell you about the preparedness of this administration and potential overwhelming nature that they're facing themselves in right now?
ALAYNA TREENE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, good morning. Christi. Yes, so we - Axios obtained a memo from the Office of Personnel Management that has been going around requesting for volunteers from across the federal government to help deal with this crisis.
And I say crisis, the administration hasn't been trying to use that word, but I think, it's reached the point. You said 18,000 migrant minors are in U.S. custody right now. Over 5,000 of them are in facilities that are unfit for minors. And so this is overwhelmingly becoming a crisis.
And, again, the nature of reaching out to volunteers asking for more help shows just how bad this is becoming. And it's really - it's something that we've seen the Biden administration really struggle with across the board from their response, but also from their messaging, and I think that's why we see so many reporters pressing the administration for more answers on this, because they haven't been quite as transparent as people had been hoping about the situation down at the Southern border.
PAUL: What do you make of the Vice President being in the point person on this particular issue? I mean, how does that change - do we know how it changes the strategy that maybe taken?
TREENE: Well, I think that came - I think the timing of that announcement was really interesting. It came right before President Biden gave his first press conference, and as well as a lot of questions about who is the point person on this, how are we handling this? And I think that pointing - appointing Vice President Kamala Harris with this shows the increased importance that they're giving it.
And that OK this strategy of - before where they really weren't addressing this head on and directly wasn't working. It kind of allowed Republicans to fill that space with counter messaging and attacks, and they realized they needed to seize control of the narrative again.
And so Vice President Kamala Harris will be working with the Northern Triangle countries, with Mexico, Guatemala other from - who we're increasingly seeing minors coming across the border from. And so, I think that that's for now kind of their stance on this. And they're really looking at solutions of how they can work with the other countries to help stem the flow that we're seeing right now.
PAUL: OK. I want to ask you about the filibuster. I think it's perplexing to some people because there's not enough Democrats to vote, to change the filibuster rules. The president has acknowledged that already. But if they don't make some modifications, we know that it's unlikely that any substantial policies is going to gain any footing. So, what is the primary fear or opposition from the Democrats to changing the rules?
TREENE: Well, I have to say, I feel for a lot of the Democrats in the Biden administration right now, because they are really in a very difficult situation where it's kind of almost a lose-lose in many ways.
Democrats are worried - Centrist Democrats, like you said, they don't have the votes right now. People like Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, but even others, like Senator Chris Coons, aren't quite on board with eliminating the filibuster. So even if they push to do that, the votes aren't there right now.
But if they do eliminate it, and this is the concern of these Democrats, it fundamentally will change how the Senate operates. It would may get more like how the House operates. And when - whoever the majority is, whoever the majority rules, decides what bills get passed. And that's a big concern among lawmakers across the board from either party.
And it also could come back to haunt Democrats in the midterms when you see an a party controlling the White House and both chambers of Congress like Democrats are now, typically that means that they're going to lose either the House or Senate in in the midterms. I'm not saying that's guaranteed, but that's how history has shown what happens.
And so, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, has promised to make Democrats' lives as painful as possible if they did go down this route with the filibuster. And so they're really in this difficult situation, because if they don't eliminate it, they're not going to get a lot done.
TREENE: Both parties so divided right now. But if they do eliminate it, this could spell trouble for them down the road.
PAUL: Alayna, real quickly, Axios recently reported that during a virtual meeting with Senate Democrats, progressives were pushing the administration's infrastructure to go beyond that $3 trillion mark that we had seen, which is a really staggering number for a lot of people to wrap their heads around. What do you know about that meeting? And the temperature of Democrats to that thought?
TREENE: Right. Well, Christi, the key here is, yes, the two parties right now, Republicans and Democrats are so divided. But there's so much - there's a lot of factions within the Democratic Party too. We saw this come out during one of those virtual meetings this week with Senate Democrats, progressives were questioning the number of 3 trillion, pressing the Biden administration to go even bigger, to go bigger, to go bolder.
If they're going to do this package, which is expected to be done via the reconciliation process, they're saying, why don't we just go all in and tack on as much as we can to this bill. Of course, that's a very concerning (ph) to Centrist Democrats.
And so we're going to see this play out in the weeks ahead, people like Senator Bernie Sanders, I mean, of course people like AOC on the Left, pushing the Biden ministration to go even farther and bolder in their words. PAUL: Alayna Treene, it's good to talk with you this morning. Thanks for taking time for us.
TREENE: Thanks for having me.
BLACKWELL: A year after the coronavirus pandemic began, the leaders of the war on COVID-19 sit down with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The CNN SPECIAL REPORT airs tomorrow at 9:00. Here's a look ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Sanjay.
ANNOUNCER: In an unprecedented event, the leaders of the war on COVID break their silence.
DR. DEBORAH BIRX, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: They wanted to make sure that we stopped saying that the risk to Americans was low.
REDFIELD: I finally had a moment in life where I said, you know, enough is enough.
ANNOUNCER: What they saw?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a line in the sand for me.
FAUCI: We're in for a disaster.
ANNOUNCER: What they believe?
REDFIELD: People are not being transparent about it. I could use the word cover up.
BIRX: I knew I was being watched. Everybody inside was waiting for me to make a misstep.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Where you threatened?
ANNOUNCER: And what's next?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As bad as this was, it could be worse. And there will be another pandemic, guaranteed.
ANNOUNCER: Join Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
GUPTA: We were not testing enough.
REDFIELD: I agree with you.
GUPTA: Why not?
ANNOUNCER: CNN SPECIAL REPORT, COVID War: The Pandemic Doctor Speak Out, tomorrow at 9:00.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Fox News being hit with $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit that's been filed by Dominion Voting Systems.
BLACKWELL: So, the company alleges that Fox recklessly disregarded the truth and participated in a disinformation campaign against it, because the lies were good for Fox's business. Dominion is the second election technology company to file a lawsuit against Fox, Smartmatic sued fox for $2.7 billion last month.
CNN's Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter is with us now. Stelter how is Fox responding?
BRIAN STELTER, CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Fox says this lawsuit is meritless, just like the last one, and they say they will vigorously defend themselves in court. The company's position is that they're very proud of their 2020 election coverage, which shocks a lot of journalism observers, because so much of the coverage had nothing to do with journalism at all. It was propaganda on behalf of President Trump, sowing lies and discord.
And yet they say they are proud of it. And so far, we have seen this is going to be a long court process. But it's important to know, these lawsuits Dominion and Smartmatic, these are the real deal, and legal experts say this could be a real threat to Rupert Murdoch.
PAUL: So, let me ask you this Brian, because one of the lawyers who frequently stood next to Rudy Giuliani spouting off the voting machine fraud stuff, is Sidney Powell. And I know this week in a new court filing she claims that no reasonable person would have believed her assertions. I want to go back to November and listen to this Fox exchange between Powell and Fox's Maria Bartiromo?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK ANCHOR: Sidney, we talked about the Dominion software. I know that there were voting irregularities. Tell me about that.
SIDNEY POWELL, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL FLYNN: Let's put it mildly, the computer glitches could not and should not have happened at all. That is where the fraud took place, where they were flipping votes in the computer system or adding votes that did not exist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So now according to Powell, all of that was a lie. What does Fox do now? How does it defend itself? STELTER: Right. It makes it more difficult for Fox to say, well, we were just airing both sides. We were just presenting a controversy and letting people make up their own minds. Powell is out there in a filing saying no reasonable person would have thought she was telling the truth and stating facts. Instead, she was just, presenting a case that would then later be figured out in court.
But this is really damaging - this phrase, "no reasonable person," because millions of people were caught up in this lie. It's a domino effect that is still happening today, from the election to the riot, to all the craziness online with QAnon, and now to these voter suppression attempts in some states. It's all connected to Trump's claim that he didn't lose the election.
And now we see very different strategies in court, Powell say, well, nobody would have believed. No one should have believed me. But Fox saying they're very proud of their coverage.
BLACKWELL: Yes. And how many times they booked Sidney Powell to come on and say something she now says no reasonable person would have believed?
Let me switch topics here. A former President Trump coming on television now, defending seemingly the insurrectionist from January 6th, and the way he describes what the whole world watched, is baffling. Let's listen to what the President - former president said.
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TRUMP: It was zero threat. Right from the start it was zero threat. Look, they went in. They shouldn't have done it. Some of them went in and there they are hugging and kissing the police and the guards. They had great relationships. A lot of the people were waved in and then they walked in, and they walked out.
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BLACKWELL: You know, actually, we should probably just start putting up full screens, because to hear him say that again, we're just playing what he told someone else that was a lie. What's the impact of the president now coming on trying to dress this up as hugging and kissing the police officers when we watched them beat them with flagpoles and hockey sticks?
STELTER: This is reminiscent of his presidency where he told people not to believe your eyes or ears and most Americans saw through it. Only his most loyal followers went ahead with his lies. I looked at donaldtrump.com. One of his campaign reelection messages from last fall was, we are backing the blue and the blue is backing Donald Trump, that the Donald Trump was the pro-police president. And, of course, that has been a narrative for the past few years.
But he's blown that narrative apart by claiming that these rioters who were trying to injure police, were trying to hug police, they were trying to hang Mike Pence, not hug Mike Pence. And Trump may or may not know that, we don't know what's going on in his psyche. But we do know he's unable to get off television, unable to stop speaking and let President Biden be in charge. That is very revealing about where he is in this post presidency.
When George H. W. Bush lost in 1992, he went away. Nobody heard from him for months or years afterwards. But, of course, Trump is the opposite of the Bush - of the Bushes. And so here we are. And I think this revisionist history attempt is only going to work among a small minority of Americans. But it's still shameful. It's still shameful even if it doesn't work on anybody.
PAUL: I want to stick to Sharon Osbourne, because we're learning she's leaving the CBS daytime talk show "The Talk" after that investigation into remarks that she made defending Piers Morgan and remarks he made after the Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markel, what do you know about that?
STELTER: Right. And all this is fundamentally about Meghan Merkel's comments about race, about mental health, about her own fears, about what was going on with the royal family and her feelings about not wanting to be alive.
That incredibly revealing interview with Oprah was then torn apart by Piers Morgan. Sharon Osborne, in some ways, was collateral damage by deciding with Piers in some ways, in some moments.
But then what happens is, when there's an episode of "The Talk" like this, that's so controversial, then stories come out - came out about Osborne's past, then claims came out about Osborne's offensive behavior behind the scenes.
That's why CBS halted the show for two weeks, conducted an investigation And it was pretty clear right away, Osborne wasn't - not going to be coming back to the show. So that's what's happened. Oftentimes, the most interesting, most dramatic moments on these daytime talk shows happen off air, off camera, and that's what's happened on "The Talk."
They say she will not be coming back, but I'm sure we will hear from her about this, in the same way, we're going to hear from Piers Morgan tomorrow. Piers Morgan, over in London, he's going to have a big front-page story tomorrow with his side of the story about Meghan Markel. So some of these folks, they never go away.
BLACKWELL: There is more that he hasn't said about Duchess Meghan. I mean, I feel like he has said so much about her.
STELTER: Thousands of words.
BLACKWELL: Yes. All right. Thank you, Stelter.
BLACKWELL: We'll be back.
PAUL: Following a developing story out of Myanmar. Reports from Reuters at least 50 people have been killed when security forces open fired on a crowd of pro-democracy protesters in several parts of the country. Now this is part of brutal crackdown on dissent following a military coup that removed the country's elected leader back in early February. Activists there say nearly 400 people have been killed since the protests began then.
BLACKWELL: And we will have a live report on the situation in Myanmar coming up at 10:00 o'clock. So thanks so much for joining us. We will be back in an hour.
PAUL: SMERCONISH is up next. We'll see you in an hour.