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New Day Saturday

Day Two Agenda: Rebuilding Global Economy, Competing With China; Biden Meets With World Leaders At First G7 Summit As President; Fauci Warns Delta Variant Could Become Dominant In The U.S. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired June 12, 2021 - 08:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST: He sells - as he sells his America's back message to allies.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Plus, as vaccination rates among children rise, there are new questions over just how soon kids should get vaccinated amid new studies showing a possible link between vaccines and heart issues in children.

WALKER: And remembering Pulse. Five years after that horrific shooting the city of Orlando pays tribute to those killed in the massacre. The owner of Pulse will be joining us live this morning.

SANCHEZ: It is Saturday, June 12. Thank you so much for starting your day with us. We're thrilled to have you and we're thrilled to have Amara with us as well.

WALKER: I learned a new word today, cruciferous.

SANCHEZ: Cruciferous, you nailed it.

WALKER: Cruciferous vegetables, I didn't even know what that was. Cauliflower and broccoli. Yummy.

SANCHEZ: And wasabi apparently too.

WALKER: Is very good for you. Yes. A lot of news to get to and underway right now, the world's major economies are meeting for day two of the G7 summit.

SANCHEZ: Yes, on the agenda of building back the global economy post pandemic with a specific focus on competing with China. And for President Biden signing a global health declaration to make sure another crisis like the COVID pandemic does not happen again.

WALKER: Joe Biden's first outing on the world stage as president is a chance to put his America is back mantra into practice and so far the visuals are matching the message. Allies, side by side for so called family photos. Also arm and arm with French President Emmanuel Macron. Those two leaders set to hold a bilateral meeting soon with serious disagreements over China and trade on the table. SANCHEZ: Yes, looming over everything that's happening at the G7

though President Biden's first face to face with Vladimir Putin in Switzerland. The Russian President laying out his view on the state of relations between the two nations this way, listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have a bilateral relationship that has deteriorated to its lowest point in recent years.


SANCHEZ: Let's get straight to England and CNN's Jeff Zeleny, who joins us now live from Falmouth. Jeff, before meeting with Putin, Biden has a series of big issues to tackle with the G7. Walk us through the agenda and how this is setting the stage not just for his meetings with Putin, but also for his NATO meetings in Brussels.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Boris. The President Biden and other leaders of the Group of Seven nations are meeting right now. They're about an hour or so into their second full day of meetings here in Cornwall, England. And topic is China.

Of course, China does not have a seat at the table here, but they are on the agenda in every direction. And speaking to administration officials just a few moments ago, they are outlining some actually some deep divisions that go beyond the - you know, nice photo opportunities here of all the leaders smiling, but some deep divisions among members of the G7 nations.

Just one quick example. Germany and Italy want to foster a broader relationship with China. The fact is they want to sell goods like cars and other products, but the U.S., France and other nations want to take a harder line on China. We are told that President Biden in this closed session delivered very strong words against China, and the forced labor that is going on in that.

So, this is one of the challenges here that these leaders are going to try and come together and build some type of consensus on a communique about China. But this meeting underway right now, it's more contentious than actually was expected. So, we'll keep an eye on that. But all of this is coming as - now there's some lighter moments here as well. We saw at a reception last evening.

Queen Elizabeth flew here to Cornwall on the Atlantic coast of England and met with these leaders. In pictures we frankly don't see all that often, particularly in the wake of the global pandemic. She's largely been held up for the last year plus, not leaving Windsor Castle, but she is here in Cornwall. And you can see these images here mingling with President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden and other world leaders. So pretty interesting sights there.

They will have a private audience with her tomorrow in Windsor Castle. Now all of this is leading into that summit, as you said, with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Geneva. We are learning new information this morning the white house now saying that President Biden will be holding a solo news conference after a series of meetings on Wednesday in Geneva, will not be holding at least as of now a joint news conference with Vladimir Putin.

This is why this is significant. We all remember these images from three summers ago July 2018 in Helsinki, Finland when former President Donald Trump met with a Russian President Vladimir Putin and then I came side by side with him at this press conference and really denied U.S. intelligence information about Russian interference in the election and sided with Vladimir Putin.

That was a moment that certainly was criticized around the world. Being in Helsinki than I certainly remember how contentious that was. But this White House President Biden, as of now they are not scheduled to hold a joint press conference.


They do not simply want to elevate Putin in that same type of way. So, both sides will give their own versions of events of that meeting. So all of that is coming up next week. But for here, at least for the next several hours, President Biden, other leaders will be meeting and then later this afternoon here, President Biden holding this first one on one meeting directly with French President Emmanuel Macron.

We saw them yesterday arm and arm, they also have some - some differences and issues to work out. So for all the talk of a receptions and photo opportunities. Yes, that's happening, but some contentious issues here, largely revolving around China.

WALKER: It's quite an interesting development there with some disagreements over China. Jeff Zeleny, appreciate your reporting in England for us. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Plenty for us to discuss. So, let's get to it. We have CNN International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson, who is in Carbis Bay, England for the G7 summit. And also joining us is Susan Glasser, CNN Global Affairs Analyst and a staff writer for The New Yorker.

Nic, you were on the ground there at the G7. It looks and sounds like these leaders are getting along and the family photo and the great pictures, the embraces we're seeing, but in the way of substance, especially when it comes to Biden's goal of presenting a united front against China, what are you anticipating will come of this G7?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the underlying difference here is that the European Union wants to trade with China more than the United States does. We saw that because just before President Biden came into office, the EU finalized the financial deal with China. Now they've held back on some elements of it, part in deference to President Biden, but there's that fundamental difference there.

And the European - for many of the sort of European Union leaders, the measures that President Biden wants to take perhaps go too far. Now he's laying this out as look, you know, China has human rights abuses of its Uighur population, it's using them as forced labor. When you use people as forced labor, you have an unfair - unfair trade advantage because you can produce goods for less.

And he wants there to be a set of concrete measures. So, when all these partners see a country like China, in this case, abusing its population in this way, there will be concrete actions. Now, Europeans are a little bit worried because will they get a President Trump type character back in four years' time after another U.S. election? Or will they get President Biden for another four years?

That's really a question in people's mind. So, they've got to decide how heavily do they go in behind the United States or how much independence they try to retain. And that's, you know, that's an ongoing issue. So, I think what we've heard from leaders so far is they want to hear concrete facts and substance from President Biden around the table, more than just sort of rhetoric that we've heard so far, that will convince them that this is a time to align more strongly behind the United States.

SANCHEZ: Now Susan, Nic raises a critical underlying point that we have to keep in mind during these meetings, and I want to share with our viewers, a portion of your new piece in The New Yorker on President Biden's objectives for the trip. You write, "The main accomplishment of this Biden trip will not come from the policy debates that inevitably occur between allies. The win here is that it is happening at all. The fact that Biden and not Trump is president virtually guarantees him a successful international debut. All Biden has to do in some sense, is show up."

To Nic's point, some European leaders have expressed skepticism about American democracy, given Trump's shadow, his America first policies, the impact of the big lie, how does presenting stability at home become a challenge for Biden?

SUSAN GLASSER, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, that's right. I mean, on the one hand, President Biden who just by showing up I think does benefit politically and remember these allies Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, they remember very well what it was like to deal with Donald Trump, they didn't like it.

He bereted them in public and in private, he threatened to blow up the NATO Alliance, called the European Union, our closest allies, a foe actually and an enemy. he was as problematic as our worst adversary. So one question for the Europeans is, how much are they going to remember what it was like to deal with Donald Trump and decide that now's the time to embrace Joe Biden, but I do think it's a low bar for Biden on a personal level to clear with these leaders.

Now to the bigger political question, I think that's where there's some true challenge. Joe Biden has framed his foreign policy doctrine in many ways as this being a key moment in history, almost an inflection point. That's the word he uses between rising autocracies like China and to a lesser extent Russia versus democracies and the West.


And the question is, if he can't rally half of the American democracy, and they see this rigid polarization inside the United States, to what extent does his entire concept that I'm going to rally the rest of the world really work? And so that's a big, big frame challenge. But remember also, Europeans have their own political challenges. They're not necessarily ready for a big foreign policy change right now.

Angela Merkel is on her way out after an incredible run as Chancellor. Emmanuel Macron faces a very difficult reelection bid. So this isn't necessarily a moment to do more than agree on some common principles.

SANCHEZ: Yes, so Biden has his hands full at the G7. Of course, looming over all of this is Russia and the upcoming summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. Biden so far has kept quiet on his message to Putin. Putin, speaking out in in a rare interview. I want to play some sound, some preview of that upcoming interview. Here he is contrasting Joe Biden and Donald Trump, listen.


PUTIN (through translator): Even now I believe that former US President, Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. president. President Biden, of course, is radically different from Trump, because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics. Just think of the number of years he spent in the Senate, a different kind of person. And it was my great hope that yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse based movements on behalf of the sitting U.S. president.


SANCHEZ: Susan, it's fascinating to watch Vladimir Putin frame, how this summit is going to go. And now we're getting the sort of White House framing of this when we learn that Biden is going to hold a solo press conference following their meeting.

Typically, the Russians push to have a dual press conference. What is the significance to you have this announcement that Biden is going to come out and speak to the press on his own?

GLASSER: Well, I suppose there's probably a lot of relief among got his advisors on that. The ghost of Helsinki, as Jeff pointed out, looms large over this entire Putin summit, because it was such an extraordinary moment to see Donald Trump agreeing with Putin over his own intelligence agencies at that press conference, I was there as well. It was really just a shocking moment, in many ways. So Biden doesn't want to repeat that. However, I do think it's interesting to see Vladimir Putin and his approach to this. Remember that as a former KGB man, I was there for the first interview that Western correspondent did with Vladimir Putin, I'm embarrassed to say two decades ago now. And he's a man who reads his briefing book and likes to spit it back to you. So I find it interesting that that's his briefing. You know, Joe

Biden, you won't find any abrupt movements from him, he's not going to shock me with anything. You know, he's a career man, a professional. That's interesting. It's not necessarily the insult that perhaps it's being portrayed, as.

I think it reflects that Putin is very calculating. And I think he and Biden are both very realistic about what they're getting out of this. In some ways, they both will walk away and tell their domestic audiences that they were the tough guy against the adversary.

SANCHEZ: Nothing to be embarrassed about being well versed on these matters, Susan. Nic, similarly, you have a lot of experience covering global issues and summits like these, what is it say to you that Joe Biden is going to go out on his own and speak to the press instead of having Vladimir Putin by the side?

ROBERTSON: Yes, I think it's - he has to do it for domestic consumption. I think he has to explain because there's a lot of pressure on him to explain. Does he confront Putin about Alexey Navalny, about the essentially the trashing of any realistic political opposition in Russia?

Does he confront him about the buildup of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine? These are questions that people want to know that President Biden has been tough, where President Trump wasn't with Vladimir Putin. So I think there's - there's been that level of pressure on President Biden to do that.

But also as well, I mean, you'd like to think also about how more broadly, the Russian press and for here, when we say Russian press, let's read Vladimir Putin had been portraying President Biden until now and that is essentially as a doddering old man.

So there's no way that Biden - there's no way rather that Putin is going to want to be in a position where he's next to President Biden, where President Biden is trying to or getting away with or in any way, scoring points against him, because his portraying him, you know, on the one hand, saying that he is part of the sort of political establishment who's got a lot of experience, he's been in foreign policy forever. We don't expect any new or different from him, framing a low bar for what can be achieved out of these talks.


But he's also been framing him as somebody who's basically incapable of running major office, and potentially, you know, could fall by the wayside during his four years.

SANCHEZ: Insightful and clever analysis, as always. Susan Glasser, Nic Robertson, thank you both.

WALKER: Remembering the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting five years later. What has the country learned about gun violence and mass shooting since 2016? The owner of Pulse joining us this hour. SANCHEZ: and just in time for summer vacation more states dropping

their mask mandates for people who are vaccinated, the push to get more shots into arms for anyone over the age of 12 is next.


WALKER: And just in time for the warming weather, more cities and summer attractions are reopening and dropping COVID-19 restrictions but lagging vaccination rates across the U.S. could leave some areas vulnerable to potential outbreaks and new COVID-19 variants.


SANCHEZ: Yes, the country averaged just over 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered per day over the last week. That is down from over 3 million per day in early April. It's happening just as more businesses look to return to normal, including Disney.

Beginning next week masks will no longer be required in most areas at Disney World for vaccinated guests. CNNs Polo Sandoval reports on efforts to reopen across the country.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Restrictions continue being lifted across the United States as more cities and states start fully reopening. On Friday, Chicago's Mayor announced the windy city has dropped pandemic era regulations, no more masked mandate or social distancing requirements, even offering some free tickets to its famed Lollapalooza music festival to vaccinated fans.

MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D) CHICAGO: Now it's time for you to get up, get out of the house this summer and fully and safely and enjoy the events of the best city on a planet. Our beloved city of Chicago.

SANDOVAL: This week, other major cities like Seattle and Denver crossed the Biden administration's goal of having 70 percent of the adult population vaccinated with at least one dose by the Fourth of July. New York State on the cusp of reaching that goal, it's a threshold the state's Governor Andrew Cuomo has said it will trigger the end to all of the states COVID-19 restrictions.

New Yorkers can also plan on the return of the famed Macy's fireworks for Independence Day according to New York Mayor Bill De Blasio. The vaccination rates in certain states remain relatively low, including in states like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming. Adults and children over 12 continue receiving vaccines across the United States.

Nearly 62 percent of that population has at least one dose so far, and experts are split on how urgently children under the age of 12 should receive their vaccine.

DR. RICHINA BICETTE, ASSOCIATE MEDICAL DIRECTOR, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: They are still at risk of hospitalization and they are still at risk of having adverse side effects. Kids have been isolated for a large proportion of time. But as school starts back in the fall, and they're in classrooms, they're in group activities and school sports, it's going to get colder so people are going to start moving inside, their risk is going to increase if they're not vaccinated.

SANDOVAL: Another concern among experts, the mental health of adolescents during the pandemic. Emergency room visits for suicide attempts rose an alarming 51 percent among teenage girls during the pandemic. That's according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Friday, but there remain signs of optimism in the global fight against a pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of two batches of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine that were produced at a troubled Baltimore lab, concluding they're safe to use. Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.


SANCHEZ: Polo, thank you so much for that. Let's discuss all things COVID with Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN Medical Analyst, former city of Baltimore Health Commissioner and Washington Post contributing columnist. Dr. Wen, always great to see you. Let's start with the CDC saying that it's monitoring a number of cases where young people who've recently received a COVID vaccine experienced heart inflammation.

The nation's top health agency says that these cases are rare. What would you tell parents who are concerned about it?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I would say that it's really important for us to follow the guidance of our federal health officials, the CDC and the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration have shown us during this pandemic that they will use an abundance of caution and that they are monitoring this very closely.

So this is a condition called myocarditis, the inflammation of the heart muscle, and it appears to be very rare, but it is something that's being investigated as to whether it could be related to the vaccine. Important to note that myocarditis is generally very mild. People who end up going to the hospital will usually be discharged.

And to date, no one has died from this condition here in the U.S. and so something to be investigated. However, we also should consider that myocarditis occurs with coronavirus and the fact that coronavirus has killed more than 300 children here in the U.S. and so parents should ask questions, should follow the guidance of health officials and by the way the CDC advisors are actually meeting next week in order to discuss whether there's actually causation involved between the getting the vaccine and having this rare but again, tend to be mild heart condition.

SANCHEZ: Yes, so important to have that perspective. There does appear to be some disagreement among certain FDA advisors regarding children younger than 12 getting vaccinated right now. Some FDA - at least one FDA advisory I should say is warning against it. Another FDA adviser has called it silly. What do you make of this debate? [08:25:00]

WEN: OK, I think it's a reasonable conversation for us to have about risks and benefits. Of course, that's the same thing that we would be discussing for any medication or any vaccine. But we also have to be looking at the facts here. The fact is that more than or about 4 million children have been diagnosed with coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 300 have died.

10s of 1000s have been hospitalized because of this. So this is not a benign condition for children. I have young kids, my own a one year old and an almost four year old, I cannot wait for them to be able to get the vaccine. Of course, I want to make sure that it's safe. But my husband and I are limiting our activities.

We're certainly not getting back to pre-pandemic normal until our kids are able to be vaccinated. And I think a lot of parents feel that way too.

SANCHEZ: I also wanted to ask you about the Delta variant. Dr. Anthony Fauci warning that as we watch it ravage India, and as it becomes the dominant strain in the United Kingdom, he's warning that it could become the dominant variant here in the United States. What's your message to people who have been hesitant about getting vaccinated and the perspective of having variants like the Delta variant and potentially future variants, factoring into that decision?

WEN: Well, let's look at what happened in the United Kingdom. They had the alpha variants there that became dominant, it was more contagious and more deadly than the wild type variants that had existed before. Now this delta variant is even more contagious, so much more so that it's actually crowded out the alpha variant in the UK, despite their vaccination efforts thus far.

And this appears to be potentially even deadlier than the other variants that we have. So we already have 6 percent of the variants of the U.S. or this delta variant. If we don't get enough people vaccinated, and there are pockets of large numbers of unvaccinated people in communities, we could very well see this variant becoming dominant here in the U.S.

And so my message to those who are not yet vaccinated, but are eligible to be vaccinated so anyone over the age of 12, they should get vaccinated now because they are still at high risk for contracting COVID-19, from dying from COVID-19. And also we have this variant and the potential of other variants developing that could actually get bring us all back to square one and that would just be totally tragic here in the U.S. after all that we have gone through.

SANCHEZ: Yes, we certainly do not want that. Dr. Leana Wen, thanks so much for the time.

WEN: Thank you.

WALKER: And we are following new developments in a Department of Justice watchdog investigation into Trump-era probes targeting political enemies. The White House is calling the report appalling. The latest, next.



WALKER: A shooting in downtown Austin, Texas has left at least 13 people injured. Now this happened around one o'clock this morning, local time. Two people are in critical condition. No one has been killed or at least that's the report right now.

The city's interim police chief saying the severity of the incident forced officers to transport victims to the hospital themselves.


JOSEPH CHACON, AUSTIN INTERIM CHIEF OF POLICE: It was very difficult to contain the scene. It was very difficult for EMS to make their way into this crowd and because of the nature of the injuries, officers had to go ahead and use their police vehicles to put some of these shooting victims into the vehicles and transport them to themselves to the hospital so that they could get the urgent care that they needed.


WALKER: And the motive for the shooting remains unclear and police are still trying to figure out if there was more than one suspect involved.

SANCHEZ: We're learning more this morning about former Attorney General William Barr and his role in the Trump administration's targeting of Democratic members of Congress.

WALKER: Yes, sources say Barr pushed investigators to finish probes that included secret subpoenas on House Democrats perceived to be Trump's political enemies and the White House had this to say about the reports.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: First of all, an IG investigation looks into how this happened. How could possibly happen and let me be absolutely clear. The behavior these actions, the president finds them absolutely appalling. He ran for president in part because of the abuse of power by the last president and by the last Attorney General.


SANCHEZ: As we heard from Jen Psaki, the White House is appalled and now the Justice Department is investigating. For the latest, let's go to CNN Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz who joins us now live from DC. Katelyn, what's the latest on this? What potential consequences could attorney William Barr face if he's found to have done something inappropriate?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, I'm going to start from the beginning here because there is a lot to cover over what has prompted this inspector general investigation. We essentially have a wrap up a five-alarm-fire about the stewardship of the Justice Department during the Trump administration.

And that is not just about Attorney General William Barr, but it is also about the leadership of the predecessor of bar Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And so all of these developments over the past week led to the Justice Department's independent watchdog, the Inspector General announcing that he would be doing a review of the collection of data of both news media and people on the hill, including members of congress.

And so what we had learned, and this is all coming out now because gag orders are lifted. Those are court orders that were saying that news organizations that had their data collected, their reporters' email data collected, couldn't disclose that that had been collected. There were also gag orders on Apple regarding a subpoena that had been sent to Apple in 2018. Now that's before Barr under the Sessions tenure of the Justice Department, where Apple had been asked for metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses that dated back to the inception of those accounts.


That was for a number of people on the hill, a minor, and also two members of Congress, Democrats, Eric Swalwell, and Adam Schiff, both in the House. Now, that gag order that had been on that congressional subpoena was extended three times. So that is the course of the Trump administration, and then seems to have just petered off in May of this year when it was lifted.

And now we're learning about all of these attempts to investigate leaks, because those gag orders are lifted. Now, in addition to that, Barr, our sources were telling us that Barr had really reinvigorated leak investigations in the Justice Department once he became the Attorney General in 2019. This had always been a priority for the Trump administration. Here's Trump in 2017 and then again in 2020.


DONALD J. TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks, those are criminal leaks.

I think it was leaked from the Intelligence Committee, House - House version. And I think that they leaked it, I think, probably Schiff leaked it.


POLANTZ: And what and what we've learned now is that from our sources, Evan Perez, and I have, our reporting as of yesterday, that Barr doesn't recall, what happened with this subpoena that swept up congressional information, or data regarding the members. And Sessions was not involved in that subpoena in 2018. Back to you. WALKER: Katelyn, if I could follow up, just to put things in context

here, because we know that Department of Justice leaked investigations. That's routine. Talk to us a little bit about what in these cases steps outside the boundaries of normal?

POLANTZ: It's a great question. I mean, the way that this normally works is that the Justice Department regularly is going about sweeping up data for investigations, they go to all kinds of service providers when they're doing these sorts of things. They get court orders, they get subpoenas from grand juries, and they rope in data. What normally doesn't happen is there typically are extra steps that must be taken in order to get data from news organizations, and especially members of Congress.

Members of Congress really are protected as a branch of government. There's the Speech and Debate clause that brings in all kinds of additional things that you have to think about if the Justice Department is going to pursue information out of members of Congress.

And so all of these things put together and then in addition to that, the gag orders, I mean, that is really an extraordinary step to put on news organizations, especially.

WALKER: In fact they're only finding out about this because of them expiring too. Katelyn Polantz, appreciate your reporting from Washington. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

POLANTZ: Thank you.

WALKER: Well, it has been five years since a gunman killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. After the break, the co-owner of Pulse will tell us how the community has been recovering since that tragic night.



SANCHEZ: It was right around this time, five years ago today that the world learned about the horror that unfolded inside a popular dance club in Orlando, Florida. 49 people were killed, dozens more wounded after a gunman opened fire inside Pulse nightclub. The incident intensified debate in this country about gun control, terrorism and the rights of LGBTQ Americans.

Joining us now to discuss the legacy of the Pulse shooting and more is the club's co-owner and the founder and CEO of the onePulse foundation, Barbara Poma. Barbara, we appreciate you sharing part of your weekend with us to talk about this. This morning, you took part in a vigil honoring the victims. How did it feel to be there, looking back on what happened five years later.

BARBARA POMA, FOUNDER & CEO, ONEPULSE FOUNDATION: Being there - first, good morning, and thank you for having me. SANCHEZ: Of course.

POMA: But being there at 2:02 in the morning is something that has been quite organic over the last five years. It's nothing that is ever organized but it's something that seems to call many of us there at that time. And so it's - it's a moment where we gather for a very short prayer service and candle light, and we just speak their names. And we just hold each other up.

Being on the site that time is extraordinarily difficult, but for some reason it feels like it's the only place to be.

SANCHEZ: It's hard to believe that it's been five years. I should tell you that I actually reported from the scene outside Pulse as it was still happening before police breached the club. And something that has stayed with me were the faces of the survivors. Moments before I met them, they were running for their lives and in their eyes, you could see that they were still processing what they watched happen to their friends and their loved ones.

I'm curious about how you process that trauma because it's not the sort of thing that you can just shake off.

POMA: It's not and I know, I was not there that evening. I wasn't even in town. So my journey has been extremely different than those who were inside the building and endured that terror that night. For me, it's - my processing has - flowed, there are some days that are better than others. I can surely tell you that as we approached June every year and as soon as May starts to hit you realize June is next, something just physically happens to your body.


I don't know if it just your - your brain overpowering it but more you anticipate June 1 coming, you certainly know it. Your whole body knows it. Your senses are heightened, and you're just sort of trying to figure out how you're going to cope with it. And it's something we all feel here. Something that's very common.

SANCHEZ: So I want to ask you about some of the politics involved. Recently, the Senate unanimously passed a bill introduced by Florida Senator Rick Scott to make polls a national memorial. It's expected that President Biden is soon going to sign off on it. You've been working to raise money to build a memorial and museum. How does the federal effort impact your own and what's the status of it right now?

POMA: Well, we are so grateful that congressmen Darren Soto, Stephanie Murphy, Val Demings, introduced it in the House and that it was passed to the Senate this year. Getting that federal designation mean so much to the LGBTQ community, in our nation around the world. It really is a stamp of we see you, we accept you and we will not forget what happened here. And so for us, it is truly monumental and extremely impactful to the project.

SANCHEZ: I do want to ask you about Rick Scott's successor, Ron DeSantis. He recently vetoed funding for mental health services for Pulse - Pulse shooting survivors and their families. He's also signed legislation banning transgender girls from participating on female sports teams. I'm curious if you had a message for Ron DeSantis, what it would be.

POMA: You know, that moment was something that I really feel hit the LGBTQ plus community in Florida so hard and it was unexpected, really was the services that were provided to our families and survivors, the first responders are crucial. The funding that was to go to our zebra coalition to housing LGBTQ youth who are homeless, I mean, this is all really crucial funding.

I think we need to talk about it. I'm not sure what conversations took place. I'm not - I'm not part of that - those organizations. But of course, the communities they serve are the same communities that they know that we work with. And it's - it's just something we have to talk about, we have to figure out, you know, how we can have better conversations so that moments like this, don't occur. This community is so used to having you know, one step forward and two steps back, that it's just kind of keep figuring how to keep doing the work and it really does empower us to keep doing the work.

SANCHEZ: Having those conversations is a critical part of progress. And that's why we are glad to have you this morning. Barbara Poma, thank you so much again.

POMA: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Stay with New Day Weekend. We'll be back after a quick break.




SANCHEZ: We are just about 52 minutes past the hour. Here are some of the top stories that we've been following this morning. Police are investigating a mass shooting in Savannah, Georgia that happened last night. One person dead, eight others injured including two kids.

WALKER: Both children aged two and 13 have non-life threatening injuries. Other victims are in serious or critical condition and police at this time do not have a motive, and they have not named any suspects at this time.

A Chicago cop has been charged for his role in the January 6, Capitol insurrection. Carol Cheswick allegedly entered Senator Jeff Merkley's office and walked through the Capitol before leaving through a broken window. Chicago police Superintendent David Brown, relieved Cheswick from duty after being aware made aware of his role in the insurrection.


SUPERINTENDENT DAVID BROWN, CHICAGO POLICE: What happened in DC on January 6, was an absolute disgrace. The fact that a Chicago police officer has been charged in that attack on American democracy makes my blood boil, makes me sick to my stomach. And yes, if these allegations are true, it breaks my heart.


WALKER: Now he is facing five federal misdemeanors including knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct. Boris.

SANCHEZ: The Department of Justice is pushing back against new restrictive voting laws that have been passed across the country in Republican led states. Lawmakers in those states wrote the legislation, claiming that there was a need to correct problems with the 2020 election, which many experts have declared the most secure in U.S. history.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that within the next 30 days, the department will double their civil rights divisions' right to vote enforcement staff.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There are many things that are open to debate in America. But the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them.


SANCHEZ: The department also plans to put out guidance for vote by mail and early voting ahead of the 2022 midterms.

WALKER: And a programming note for you tomorrow night on United Shades of America W. Kamau Bell sits down with people from the black transgender community in Dallas. Here's a quick preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe those scripture was there for us to keep interpreting them the same. The scriptures allow us to be convicted. It allows us to be corrected. It allows us to be encouraged. It allows us to grow.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: You just - you just invoked the bells.


BELL: You started up the Holy Ghost.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can take these two ways. Thank you, Lord for the confirmation or oh no, we don't have this conversation.

This is God's doing and I'm very blessed. So, I'm not going to have the conversation that God made a mistake. I want my community to be bold enough to understand that God intended for them to be here in existence.


That's why they were created, and they were created for purpose. And then the other piece is as those that are looking outside in that we're trying to recruit as allies. Love your neighbor as yourself.

BELL: Pretty sure that's in the Bible somewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is in the Bible.


WALKER: The season finale of United States of America airs tomorrow night at 10pm.

SANCHEZ: Hey, don't go anywhere. Amara and I are going to be back in just one hour.

WALKER: Smerconish is next.