Return to Transcripts main page

New Day Saturday

Rep. Gaetz Defiant In Face Of Sex Trafficking Probe; Medical Examiner: Drugs, Heart Disease Not "Direct Causes" Of Floyd's Death; Gun Salutes Firing Off In U.K. To Mark Prince Philip's Death; Biden Announces Executive Actions On Guns After Several Mass Shootings; South Beach Wine And Food Festival To Host Scaled-Back Events, Proof Of COVID Vaccination Or Negative Test Required; 2021 Hurricane Season Expected To Be "Above Normal." Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 10, 2021 - 07:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cases and emergency room visits are up. We are seeing these increases in younger adults.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our current seven-day average is now 3 million vaccinations per day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scattered reports of COVID-19 infecting those who've been vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Witnesses clearly told the jury that Derek Chauvin used, quote, excessive and deadly force on George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Floyd's use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no evidence to suggest he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The House Ethics Committee announced it has launched an investigation into Congressman Gaetz for a laundry list of potential violations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll bet that unless he's actually convicted and behind bars, this will be a badge of honor for him.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): They aren't really coming for me. They're coming for you. I'm just in the way.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Beautiful morning here in Atlanta even with those low clouds, it still looks pretty, doesn't it? And welcome to Saturday morning. We are always so grateful to have your company. GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz says, guess what, he's not going anywhere. The Florida Congressman is defiant in the face of two separate investigations. Last night, he denied all allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution. And he said this, during his first public speech since those investigations came to light.


GAETZ: The smears against me ranged from distortions of my personal life to wild and I mean wild conspiracy theories. I won't be intimidated by lying media. And I won't be extorted by a former DOJ officials and the crooks he is working with. The truth will prevail.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: The House Ethics Committee is now looking into the Florida Congressman's behavior. You know last week we learned about a Justice Department investigation. So far, at least two of Gaetz's staffers have quit. One GOP colleague has called on him to resign.

PAUL: And yesterday his office released this statement saying, quote, these allegations are blatantly false and have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them.

CNN Political Analyst, Margaret Talev with us now, she's managing editor with Axios. Margaret, it's so good to see you. He mentions that he says there is not a single human being willing to put their name behind these. We do know that there are allegedly electronic documentations of what may have happened. But what do you know about any tangible evidence to support the allegations that are out there?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Christi, good morning and Victor, good morning. I'm going to miss you so much on Saturday mornings, but very happy for your next chapter.

Look, here's what we don't know yet. There have not been -- there have not been charges brought. And so that is not to say that nothing is coming, it just to say that it hasn't happened yet. So most of what we know, we have gleaned either from things that Matt Gaetz has said himself about his, you know, dating life as a single man, and things that members of Congress have said, such as reports about him sharing photos of his conquest on the House floor and then things from -- elements of reporting involving this associate of his, this former public official in Florida who has been charged.

And so through that case, through Mr. Greenberg's case, we understand through the reporting that there may be electronic records or maybe some videos or photos, there may be firsthand accounts whether those implicate the Congressman, you know, on a criminal threshold is still to be determined. And so he can absolutely make these affirmative statements and try to convince his fans and supporters, people who are standing by him that no one has come forward yet. It doesn't mean that it isn't going to happen, but it hasn't happened yet.

PAUL: Let's listen to what he said specifically, last night, this was at an event organized by Women for America First.


GAETZ: I do know that there is something special, tangible, and powerful in what women have. And I've known it all my life. There is a sentiment among some women in the workforce, that men are hired and promoted based on potential. But women are hired and promoted based on what they've done.



PAUL: So he was speaking to his audience, certainly the, you know, women, it seemed like though when he also said, and I want to say this, he said, when you see the anonymous sources and insiders forecasting my demise, know this, they aren't really coming from me, they're coming for you. I'm just in the way. So he did address the allegations head on to some degree, which sounded a bit Trumpian to some people. So it was deflection. How potent is that, particularly for his audience or for anyone else?

TALEV: Well, certainly, this is sort of a Donald Trump weekend around the Republican Party in Florida, for many reasons. And this is a page from the Trump playbook, which is, you know, deny about a fight. And also say that it's not really about the person who's being targeted, but it's really about their voters and their base.

So it is classic page from the Trump playbook. But that's politics. And for Matt Gaetz, he has two challenges to juggle simultaneously. One is the political. He's a Congressman. He has to run every two years, if he were running for reelection he would need his voter support. The other is the matter in the justice system. And that one is actually the one in which he's much more imperiled and in which everything he says to the public for political consumption can also become part of evidence later if the Justice proceedings continue.

So this is a very precarious sort of balance that he's doing. But the idea of talking to groups of women, and to surrounding yourself with women and to talking publicly about how much you respect and elevate women is sort of an obvious political play if you are under the gun for relationships involving young women.

PAUL: Well, and they did release on Thursday, his office released a statement from women they said who worked for him and characterized him as principled and morally grounded, no hint of impropriety or ounce of untruthfulness. But it was signed the women of the Office of U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz, there were no named signatories to that. But there were two other resignations from senior aides in his office as well. Does that signal to you there are some cracks in his circle?

TALEV: I mean, yes, I think that's absolutely true. And I think the Ethics case now that the House has begun, shows that at a minimum, there are Republican members of the House as well as Democratic members want to distance themselves from him. So this is a very difficult time to be that Congressman. And, again, the challenges are because there is both the intense sort of political crisis, right, which is going to intensify when Congress comes back next week. This is all played out over recess. Now that the Congress is coming back, it is going to play out in the halls of Congress. But again, the much more important one for any individual is the inquiry, the Justice related inquiry that he's going through right now.

PAUL: Yes. You mentioned this weekend what's happening in the Republican National Committee, their spring meeting, there is former President Trump. He's the marquee speaker at Mar-a-Lago later tonight. What does this tell you? What does this reveal in terms of strategy for the Republicans going into 2022 and 2024?

TALEV: "New York Times" has this fabulous piece when they talked to several donors, and one calls it a tremendous complication. And I think that does sum it up pretty well. Former President Trump has the ability to raise at least as much money as the Republican National Committee right now at this point.

And that means he gets to control at least half of the message. And so for potential presidential candidates in 2024, they're trying to understand whether he's going to run again, or whether they can just get out and start running or whether they have to wait.

And for many donors and strategists, there's a concern that for as much as he retains quite a base inside the Republican Party, many followers remains popular. He also could be toxic in a general election in, you know, in many races and potentially at the national level. And so there is this real back and forth the struggle, because money is important to campaigns and enthusiasm among the base is important to campaigns.

But there are many Republicans, including the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who would like to move past the Trump era and into a kind of a new reset or reinvention. And his continued presence makes the reset very difficult. I think that's part of why you saw McConnell come out in favor of Lisa Murkowski yesterday, the senator who -- the incumbent from Alaska who President Trump is sort of vowed to beat in a primary to try to set, you know, boundaries and try to set their own message.

And this is -- we're going to watch some of this play out this weekend. And we'll be listening very closely for words.


PAUL: You mentioned Lisa Murkowski. I think a lot of people are wondering if it's not going to be Trump who will it be? Is she who they're watching?

TALEV: Well, if it's in --

PAUL: And is she receptive to it?

TALEV: I think in the presidential race right now, there are so many Republicans who we saw, pardon me, who we saw either serve in the Trump administration or be close to it but to the most closest watching the presidential race, of course have been Mike Pence and Nikki Haley. And you are not going to see them as far as I know, at Mar-a-Lago tonight. So a lot of potential contenders, no clarity and a field is potentially muddled by the lingering presence of the former president.

PAUL: Margaret Talev, you're a trooper because I could hear it in your voice and I know what that's like. You just have to cough and you're just trying to get through it. You're such a pro. Thank you so much.

TALEV: Thanks, guys.

PAUL: Sure.

BLACKWELL: In the Derek Chauvin murder trial, the medical examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, he performed George Floyd's autopsy. He took the stand to wrap the week of testimony. And he stood by his ruling that George Floyd's death was a homicide.

PAUL: He did note that heart disease and Floyd's drug use were contributing factors but not, he said, the direct cause. In simpler terms, he said George Floyd would not have died were it not for his interactions with Derek Chauvin. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus has more on this.


ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The second week of the Derek Chauvin murder trial concluded with a key witness, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTOR: You conducted the autopsy on Mr. George Floyd.


BROADDUS (voice-over): Acknowledged that heart disease and drugs played a role in George Floyd's death, but the manner of death remains a homicide.

BAKER: It's what I put on the death certification last June, law enforcement subdual restraint and neck compression.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Baker's statements capped off a week of testimony from medical experts and law enforcement officials repeatedly poking holes in Chauvin's defense, which argues Floyd died from a combination of underlying health conditions, along with the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl.

DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONOLOGIST, EXPERT WITNESS: That's the moment the life goes out of his body.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Dr. Martin Tobin, a world-renowned pulmonologist, broke down in detail four critical factors that he says caused Floyd to stop breathing, like Floyd's position on the asphalt, which restricted his lungs.

BLACKWELL: You mentioned several reasons for Mr. Floyd's low oxygen. You mentioned one, handcuffs and the street, right?

TOBIN: Correct.

BLACKWELL: You mentioned knee on the neck?


BLACKWELL: Prone position?


BLACKWELL: And then the knee on the back, arm inside, were those the four?

TOBIN: Yes, these are the four.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Defense Attorney Eric Nelson argued that Floyd could have died as a result of taking drugs moments prior to officers forcing him to the ground.

ERIC NELSON, DEREK CHAUVIN'S ATTORNEY: Is it fair to say that you would expect a peak fentanyl respiratory depression within about five minutes?

TOBIN: Right. I mean obviously, it would depend on how much of it was ingested. But if there was any amount of it ingested, yes, the peak would be five minutes.

BROADDUS (voice-over): Tobin ultimately conclude drugs didn't kill Floyd, testifying that he had not taken a proper breath for almost 10 minutes, at which point the carbon dioxide in Floyd's body had reached lethal levels.

The jury also heard from Chauvin's former boss, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. He later said what happened to Floyd was, quote, murder. The chief was asked about Chauvin's use of force.

STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: So is it your belief, then, that this particular form of restraint, if that's what you -- if that's what we'll call it, you know, in fact violates departmental policy?

MEDARIA ARRADONDO, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT CHIEF: I absolutely agree that violates our policy.

BROADDUS (voice-over): The defense pushed back, arguing that Chauvin's knee placement which they say was actually on Floyd's back, was a proper police prone hold.

NELSON: Does this appear to be a neck restraint?


NELSON: Does this appear to be a prone hold that some -- an officer may apply with his knee?


BROADDUS (voice-over): But the testimonial theme from law enforcement and use-of-force experts was clear. Witnesses clearly told the jury that Derek Chauvin used, quote, excessive and deadly force on George Floyd when restraining him with his knee for more than nine minutes.


BLACKWELL: Our thanks to Adrienne Broaddus for that report.


Well, still ahead from the bells of Westminster Abbey to gun salutes at sea, the latest tributes to Prince Philip the husband of Queen Elizabeth who passed away on Friday including a message from the Queen herself just this morning. We'll have that for you. We are live in London.


BLACKWELL: What you're seeing is live here to mark the death of the late Prince Philip. There are gun salutes happening in the U.K. And we're seeing tributes from around the world and one from Queen Elizabeth, Her Majesty herself. She tweeted this. He has quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this in many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know. That's a quote from 1997, tweeted this morning.


PAUL: He's the longest serving spouse in British monarchy history. He was a beloved companion of the Queen for 70 plus years. He died two months shy of his 100th birthday at Windsor Palace just yesterday morning.

BLACKWELL: For more of this, CNN's Anna Stewart joins us now from Windsor. And we saw just the timing of television one of those the gun salutes, how often are they happening and tell us about the tributes that we're getting in from around the world.

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: This is the most extraordinary tribute, a 41-gun salute. It's called a death gun salute. And it is sounding out throughout the U.K. Gibraltar and on Her Majesty's ships on land and at sea, one gun round, every minute for 40 minutes. And this is a really brilliant way to reflect on Prince Philip's military associations.

He had active service in the Royal Navy during World War II. And he held many honorary commands for decades following that. And in a really poignant bit of detail in London, the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery who perhaps you can see are using guns that were fired at the wedding of the Queen and Prince Philip back in 1947 and also at the Queen's coronation, a really special moment to reflect on one of the most important aspects, actually, of Prince Philip's life. Victor?

PAUL: So Anna, its Christi here. I'm sure that people want to pay their respects to him. We're in the middle of a pandemic. We also have directives from the Prince for a very simple funeral. What do we know about how people can honor and hold him in reverence publicly?

STEWART: Christi, the outpouring of grief has been incredibly moving. So as you probably see, it's a very gray, cold, wet day here in Windsor, but people have been coming to Windsor Castle wanting to lay flowers, even though they have been advised not to do to the ongoing pandemic, the fact that this country is still in a partial lockdown. People are leaving those tributes.

The pilots have asked that people make donations online to their charities of choice or charities that Prince Philip supported. But of course, it's all very tricky. People are used to when these moments of grief for the royal family of going to your nearest royal residence and being part of the history and paying your respects, you know, physically live as it happens.

So it's an incredibly difficult I think for the British public here. In terms of the funeral, the pandemic will definitely have a big impact on it. Now we have a few details. We know the funeral will be here at Windsor in St. George's Chapel, so not in Westminster Abbey, as you may have expected, and this is in accordance with Prince Philip's wishes. It will not be a state funeral. It will be a ceremonial funeral. So that would be of the ilk of the Queen Mother or Princess Diana, but is expected to be much, much smaller.

Firstly, Prince Philip isn't the sort of person who likes a lot of fast but also of course due to the pandemic is likely to be very restricted, but we should have more details for you soon from the palace.

BLACKWELL: Solemn tribute for the late Prince Philip. Anna Stewart for us there in Windsor, thank you.

PAUL: Thank you, Anna.


So President Biden announced his new gun restrictions in the wake of multiple mass shootings in recent weeks. The changes that he's calling for we'll discuss. Stay close.


PAUL: So the suspected gunman who killed one person and critically wounded at least four others if a cabinet maker in Texas was in court yesterday.

BLACKWELL: His name's Larry Bolin. He's 27 years old. He faces a capital murder charge and is now being held on a $2.2 million bond. CNN's Ed Lavandera has more on what happened in court and what happens next from Texas. ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The shooting here in Bryan Texas took place at that gray building you see there in the distance which is a cabinet manufacturing plant. And one employee, a witness, inside the business said that when the shooting erupted, it actually sounded like machinery that was malfunctioning. It didn't take long for people inside to realize that it was actually gunfire and they all started running to get out of the complex.

Police say that 27-year-old Larry Bolin is the gunman that he walked into this business with a handgun and started firing victims inside the manufacturing but the cabinet manufacturing plant. Police say he was able to get away from the scene before police responded. He was actually pursued into a neighboring county and that's where police say he actually shot and wounded a state trooper that was involved in his arrest there.

Police say that Larry Bolin is now being held a million dollar bond. He has been charged with murder. But many of these victims are still fighting for their lives here this weekend. And we are told that the trooper that was also wounded is also in stable condition and his condition is improving as well. But that was a dramatic intense scene that unfolded here.

And the ironic thing about it is that the shooting took place just several hours after President Joe Biden announced that he would be taking executive actions on gun control issues to which the Governor, the Republican Governor of Texas here, Greg Abbott tweeted, saying that Texas should become a second amendment sanctuary state by the end of that day, just several hours after the shooting, he was tweeting his condolences to the victims of the shooting here in Bryan.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Bryan Texas.

BLACKWELL: President Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure bill will include money aimed at curbing gun violence in the U.S.

PAUL: Yes. This week, the President announced more funding for community antiviolence programs and a list of executive actions specifically on gun control.

CNN's Jasmine Wright is with us from the White House right now. Jasmine, good to see you. Talk to us about what is ahead this week for President Biden in this vein.


JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christi, it's really the fight to get bipartisan support for President Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs package. That is what lies ahead from him next week.

Yesterday, we saw him in the Oval Office. He said that he had hoped to get bipartisan support. That he was already talking to Republican lawmakers. But next week, Congress is back in town, and the president is wasting no time. The White House says that a bipartisan group of lawmakers will be here to discuss his plan. Now, we don't know yet who is going to be attending, but we're really looking at key vote. Senator Joe Manchin and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki yesterday would not confirm whether or not he would be in attendance.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not sure if he will be a part of it or not. He is somebody that we're, of course, in close touch with and we look forward to working with as we move the American Jobs Plan forward.

And I will just say that whenever we have the final list, this will be the first of what we envision, as you can see by his schedule next week, to be many meetings and many of them bipartisan as well.


WRIGHT: Now, now, of course, Senator Manchin has kind of become a thorn in the White House's side. As you could say, really using his position as a moderate Democrat in that 50-50 split Senate to signal reluctance to President Biden's more ambitious reform plans, and that includes guns as we just heard about, right?

We know that President Biden moved on his own to issue some executive actions on guns without Congress, really looking to take guns out of the hands of criminals, but also to sink money into those community violence prevention programs.

But we know, Christi, that those were limited in scope. And they didn't go as far as what gun control advocates would have wanted to see from a democratic president leading a unified government, but also they didn't go as far as what President Biden, as a candidate, said that he would do.

But, of course, the White House says that these are just initial steps. Christi?

PAUL: All right, Jasmine Wright, appreciate it so much, ma'am. Thank you.

So, gun control groups are praising President Biden's latest efforts to curb gun violence. Many believe those proposals are just the first of many though that need to be taken.

John Feinblatt is president of Every Town for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the U.S., and he is with us now. John, we appreciate you taking time for us this morning. Thank you, sir.

JOHN FEINBLATT, PRESIDENT, EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY: Oh, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

PAUL: Absolutely. So, I want to talk to you about this executive action from the White House. President Biden is asking the DOJ to propose a rule that would stop the spread of those ghost guns, those ghost guns that are -- they're fabricated in as little as, you know, 30 minutes. They use kits and parts that are purchased online. How plausible do you think it is to crack down on that?

FEINBLATT: Oh, I think it is. But let's just step back for a minute. Because I think that what he announced in the Rose Garden is really a significant victory for the gun safety movement. And what's most important about it is it's a victory that's going to save lives.

You know, Joe Biden as candidate really campaigned as the strongest gun sense champion in history. And what he showed this week is that he's going to govern like the strongest gun sense champion as president.

I think that there's no question about it. He said that this is the beginning and that's absolutely true. We expect more from the White House. But really right now, the shift has got to be to the Senate for them to pass life-saving background check bills.

And really what he announced really were three things. And I think one was he nominated David Chipman, who is a 25-year veteran of the ATF to head that agency. The second is, as you mentioned, he is going to provide hundreds of millions of dollars to tackle on a block by block community-based level. The scourge of gun violence really we've seen an epidemic within the pandemic in the last year. But the third is and perhaps the most important is really to put a stop to these ghost guns.

And let me just back up a second and explain what they are. These are really kits you can buy online with a half-hour or an hour and a screwdriver and another tool or so you can turn them into fully functioning lethal firearms. But under current regulations, they don't carry a serial number, and you don't have to pass a background check to buy them, and that's just plain dangerous.

And what we've seen is that they are today's modern-day threat. Armed extremists know that they can buy them and not be detected, and so, do dangerous felons. And what the president announced was that he was going to promulgate regulations that treat them like any other firearm which is what should be the case because they are no different.

Whether you buy it as a kit, then assemble it at home, or you buy it at a gun store, they still kill people.


PAUL: There are arguments that sections of this bill are just a Democratic wish list. That components are outside the infrastructure spending, obviously. Is that fair criticism?

FEINBLATT: No, absolutely not. Look, I think that what the president is doing is trying to strengthen the country both economically. And the truth is that public safety is part of the economic equation. Because if cities are places where people don't want to come or people don't want to visit, or people don't want to live, or people don't want to do business, then, you've got an economic fallout. And so, what he's doing is taking evidence-based programs that try to stop shootings before they happen, and provide stable funding for them so they don't have to live from grant to grant.

But I can tell you from my experience spending 12 years in city hall in New York City, if you don't address public safety, you are going to be hobbled when it comes to economic revitalization.

PAUL: There are a lot of people who are proponents of the Second Amendment who are taking issue with this. We're just going to have to see how it plays out. John, Feinblatt, we appreciate you taking time for us. Thank you, sir.

FEINBLATT: Thanks so much. Good to be with you.

PAUL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL (on camera): One of the nation's biggest culinary events is returning now after being postponed because of COVID.

How do you do that with tens of thousands of people at these events -- dozens of events? We're going to explain. We're going to talk with the festival's founder.



BLACKWELL: So, it's getting warmer and a lot of people want to get back outside, especially, to those festivals. Are those festivals making a comeback? The South Beach Wine and Food Festival will be an early test. It's now in its 20th year. The gathering of top chefs and foodies, one of the largest in the country.

And this year, there will be capacity restrictions and the festival wants visitors to prove they tested negative for COVID before coming in, or provide proof of vaccination. But that clashes with an executive order from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It blocks businesses from requiring customers proving that they have been vaccinated.

The festival's founder, Lee Schrager is with us now. Lee, good morning.


BLACKWELL: So, let's start here with why you are requiring one or the other? Because that really is not the default for a lot of events across Florida. Most of the events are outdoors. According to your web site, there's only one indoor. So, why the -- why the requirement?

SCHRAGER: Because, you know, our commitment from the get-go has always been that we were going to produce the safest and most comfortable festival and environment for our talent, our consumers, our sponsors, and nothing's going to change there. That's still our number one priority, safety.

BLACKWELL: So, the executive order that Governor DeSantis signed last week suggested that vaccine passports -- let's put it up on the screen, or the requirement to show proof of vaccination to participate in events like yours will "reduce individual freedom", and create, "two classes of citizens." What's your reaction to that?

SCHRAGER: Well, listen, I -- what I can tell you is that we stay steadfast in our commitment that safety is number one priority. And you know, we're going to -- we're going to play this out until the very end.

We're working with the governor's office to ensure that safety is our number one priority. And you know, basically, our message is, if you are not comfortable coming to our festival this year because we are providing the safest most comfortable environment, we will miss you, take a pass, we'll see you in 2022.

BLACKWELL: All right. So, let's walk through this hypothetical here. I come to one of the events, I do not have evidence of a negative test, but I have my white card and I show evidence of vaccination. The most recent shot is two weeks ago. That will be my passport in, I will be allowed to enter the event?

SCHRAGER: If your card is showing your second vaccination, you will have access into our festival once you attest that you have been vaccinated or tested negative.

BLACKWELL: So, so, let me ask you this. Let's read Section Two of the executive order because that seemed to violate the order. Section Two, I'm going to read it just from what the governor signed. "Businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post- transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business."

Isn't that hypothetical we just walked through a direct violation of what the governor signed?

SCHRAGER: Well, I would like to think that we will not be in violation of what our governor, you know, has the executive order. But right now, we're steadfast in we are requiring attestation of a proof of vaccination or -- excuse me, a testing to vaccination or a negative test.

You know, up until the last moment, we'll be working with the governor's office so that we can provide and produce what we committed to all along a safe environment for everybody attending.


BLACKWELL: You concerned about legal consequences if you get to that moment and the governor's office doesn't change?

SCHRAGER: I'm concerned about producing the safest environment for the guest, and consumers, and our talent. BLACKWELL: OK. Another element of executive order stipulates that compliance is required to be eligible for grants or contracts through the state. Florida International University, I know you're very proud of how this benefits their hospitality, school, their beneficiary of the festival. Do you think this requirement jeopardizes their funding? Does it jeopardize any of the restaurants, the businesses that you work with?

SCHRAGER: I certainly hope not. I -- listen, I respect the governor and appreciate what he's done for our state to date. But I also feel that as an event producer, as a citizen of Florida and Dade County that we should be entitled to require attestation that you've been vaccinated or have a proof of a negative test.

And I think that, again, from the get-go, even before the executive order was put in place by the Governor's Office, this has been our message. It's on our web site, in the front page. You know, everywhere, we promote our market, we have our COVID guidelines, and we're going to -- you know, up until the last second, we're going to hope that the governor's office will work with us to make sure that the South Beach Wine and Food Festival is the safest environment possible.

BLACKWELL: Well, Lee Schrager, listen, I lived in Palm Beach for several years, and I know that there are a lot of people who look forward to that festival every year, and we will be watching to see how it all happens about six weeks out.

Lee Schrager, thanks so much.

SCHRAGER: Have a good day. Thank you.


PAUL: You have so much more coming up. Let's talk about a lot of these people who are limiting how much meat they eat. They still need to include protein in their diets for health.

So, in today's "FOOD IS FUEL", health reporter Jacqueline Howard gives us some options for protein other than meat.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER (on camera): Protein is great for building muscle and it benefits your hair and nails too. But while meats are a great source of protein, research suggests that replacing red meat with plant protein could help you live longer.

Beans and lentils can be a start. They're rich in plant protein plus fiber, B vitamins, iron, and folate. Most beans are also low in fat. Plant-based sources of protein also include nuts and seeds. Try stocking up on almonds, pistachios, cashews, and walnuts.

And when it comes to eggs, for a mere 75 calories, an egg delivers seven grams of high-quality protein.

Another option for a breakfast is to go for oatmeal. Whole grains like oats, buckwheat, and brown rice, are also good sources of protein. And you might assume that all fruits and vegetables contain less protein than other plant-based foods. But protein accounts for about a third of the calories in Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, and artichokes.

ANNOUNCER: "FOOD AS FUEL" is brought to you by noon. Noom is based in psychology for lasting health and weight loss results.



PAUL: So, tens of millions of you are in this target zone of severe storms primarily in the south this morning.

BLACKWELL: Yes, and there could be some heavy rain and flash flooding out of these storm systems. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is here with details. You got a lot of color on that map.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we got a lot to talk about too because it's not just heavy rain, you've also got lightning, you've got tornado warnings. We've got a lot going on across the southeast this morning.

A tornado watch in effect for a lot of areas here until 9:00 a.m. Central, or 9:00 a.m. Eastern 8:00 a.m. Central Time this morning.

Look at that lightning. Even if you aren't awake yet, that lightning is surely going to wake you up as this system continues to slide to the east. The focus is still going to be severe weather across much of the southeast. But notice this does extend even up to the Ohio River Valley today, but the main focus again, right there along the Gulf Coast.

Damaging winds, tornadoes, and large hail will be the main threats. We have the storms already ongoing this morning, but the focus really begins to shift to the east as we head into the afternoon and evening hours, especially across Georgia, the Carolinas, and Florida.

And then tomorrow, the main focus entirely becomes Florida in terms of severe weather. Now, today, the focus is severe weather but Floridians are also looking ahead to the upcoming hurricane season. And the reason for that is, we have a new normal, things are changing in terms of hurricane season.

Prior to this year, the normal for a typical year, you would get 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. But that is now changing. New data that has just come in from the last decade shows that those numbers are going up. We now can expect 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes on average in a typical year.

Colorado State, however, a legendary source for putting out hurricane forecasts before the season begins. Just put their forecast out two days ago. And they're calling for 17 named storms this year, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes. Again, that is above even the new average where the numbers went up. It's also above what they actually had forecasted for last year. So, certainly, something to keep an eye on.

Now, we are having a new list of names so far this year. This is the list that storms that we will have this year. If we run out of names this year, we will no longer go to the Greek alphabet. There is a supplemental list that we will use because the Greek alphabet was retired along with several other names last year.

Victor, because you are leaving us, very sad by this. I did what I could, called in a few favors, not really, and I got your name added to this year's hurricane name list.


BLACKWELL: I do not want to be on the list, Allison. I do not want to be on -- let's hope it's a fish storm that just stays out in the sea.

CHINCHAR: Yes, agree.


PAUL: Victor, you are a bit of a hurricane.

BLACKWELL: I can be now.

PAUL: Yes, he can.

BLACKWELL: I can be. Allison Chinchar, thanks so much.


BLACKWELL: All right, stay with us. Next hour of your NEW DAY continues after a break.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cases and emergency room visits are up. We are seeing these increases in younger adults.