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New Day Sunday

Calls For Hate Crime Charges After Atlanta-Area Spa Shootings; More Than 5,000 Unaccompanied Migrant Children In Custody; Miami Beach Declares State Of Emergency Over Spring Break Crowds; Some European Nations Resume AstraZeneca Vaccinations; Stimulus Money A Lifeline For Millions Of Americans; Vaccine Misinformation: The Next "Big Lie"?; LeBron James Out Indefinitely With High Ankle Sprain. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired March 21, 2021 - 07:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is this hesitancy to call a crime a hate crime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We definitely don't want people to target us because of our looks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope that this experience allows more people to stand up for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Biden administration is using a convention center in Dallas to begin to accommodate the number of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border alone.

JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER HUD SECRETARY: I believe it's a challenge that is being managed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been governor under three presidents, and this is by far, the worst situation we've seen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New York state has identified its first case of the P1 variant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really quite resistant to the kind of natural immunity that you get from having had the disease.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mayor announcing a curfew in the South Beach entertainment district.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too many people coming are coming with the desire to let loose and go off.



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And there is Lady Liberty, as we wake up on this Sunday morning, and as always, so grateful to have you with us. It is Sunday, March 21st, I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Boris Sanchez, in today for Victor Blackwell.

Always great to see you, Christi. Hope you're having a great Sunday morning.

PAUL: You too. So glad to have you with us. Getting that wake up call again.

And we want to begin with this growing frustration we're seeing among some in the Asian-American community days after that deadly rampage, at three Atlanta area spas, investigators, even this morning, they have yet to call the shootings a hate crime.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, eight people were killed and six of the victims were women of Asian descent. Authorities say they are investigating the motive in the killings. They say the suspect, this man, Robert Aaron Long, told them the shootings were not racially motivated.

PAUL: A relative of one of the victims says he's waiting to see if investigators can prove that it was a hate crime but he says he knows for certain it was a massacre.


MICHAEL WEBB, XIAOJIE TAN'S FORMER HUSBAND: I think what makes a difference to us and I think I speak for Jami is that justice is done. This was a massacre. We have a -- we have a justice system, and he'll have to be held accountable.


SANCHEZ: Now, there are renewed calls for an end to violence against Asian Americans.


NGA VUONG-SANDOVAL, ACTIVIST: Our community, our Asian American community, right now we are grieving but I want you to know that we're always furious as hell.

TIMOTHY PHAN, ATTENDED RALLY: This is an Asian issue, but on top of that, this is more as well, it's a human issue.

FATHER JOSEPH DANG, VIETNAMESE COMMUNITY LEADER: This cannot go on anymore. This is the reason why that we are here today to stand up and say enough is enough. Racism can't happen. This is the year 2021 in America where we call melting pot.

UNIDENTIED FEMALE: We should be asking for so much more. We can demand more. Demand that people stop hating us. We can demand that people love and celebrate us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see these Asian people, and all people from all communities, all races come over and say this kind of behavior, regardless toward any race is not going to be tolerated. We're going to clean this out from this beautiful country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is not our job to make others comfortable by acting as if we do not live with racism daily.

PHAN: I feel like far too often, we're just erased and that was just a symbol of just erasing our struggle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Off of the sidewalk and into the streets.

VUONG-SANDOVAL: Words and hashtags don't bring change. What's meaningful and needed right now is action.


SANCHEZ: Our next guest is adding his voice to those calls for justice, and an end to violence against Asian Americans.


Joining me now is Jack Liang. He's the organizer of this afternoon's rally against hate, an event taking place in Columbus Park in New York.

Jack, thank you so much for joining us this morning, and first, I wanted to ask, when you watch everything that you've seen all over the country in the form of violence in Atlanta and harassment and vandalism, how does that make you feel, the climate toward Asian Americans in this country?

JACK LIANG, ORGANIZER, AAPI RALLY AGAINST HATE 2021: It's -- it's heartbreaking. My sister calls me and she tells me, you know, to come home more. My mom is scared, you know, she's making sure I call her before she throws out the trash. It's scary, you know, I have to upgrade the security system in my home.

It's devastating, and I kind of expected it to happen to students a lot more, but to see it happen to our elders, there's so much reverence toward our elders. Our elders and our grandparents are really the ones who raise us while our parents are working, and we have so much respect for them. We honor them and to see this happen to them is extremely heartbreaking.

SANCHEZ: According to your Facebook page, one of your goals today is to send a message to local politicians that anti-Asian hate is an urgent issue that needs to be addressed immediately with some form of legislation. I'm curious what would you like to see happen? Not just locally, but potentially even nationally. LIANG: Yeah, I think there's just not enough information on what is a

hate crime in our community. It's not clear. We do not understand it. And there's just not enough attention on it until now. And it's, you know, gotten to the point where we have, you know, families being destroyed for people to finally take a look at this. We just want justice, and we want it now.

SANCHEZ: And speaking of justice, you know, earlier we heard from the former husband of one of the victims in the shooting rampage, and he says he wants to wait for investigators to determine if this was a hate crime. He says he wants justice. The suspect, of course, right now is being held on murder charges. He's told investigators the crime was not racially motivated.

In your eyes, though, can justice be served if he does not face hate crime charges?

LIANG: It won't be served for me. This is hateful. It's a hateful crime. I mean, what he did was just -- it seemed planned, you know, he went to three different separate locations, and he targeted these people, and if it was another race, another type of hate crime, another person, would that be counted as a hate crime?

So to me, it's hateful, and I want to get to the bottom of this.

SANCHEZ: Jack, I have to ask you, inevitably, we're all going to encounter people who espouse racist and ignorant beliefs, and sometimes, you know, it's people you knew in high school on social media. Sometimes it might be your own family members, so how would you approach someone, especially someone you potentially really care about who says ignorant things?

LIANG: Yeah, the first thing is not to get triggered, to understand it's not them who is, you know, saying these things. It's kind of what they have been told, what they have seen on social media, what their friends have been teaching them. Don't get triggered. Understand where they're coming from, and then you can really only get change when you have a conscious conversation, and begin, like, starting to have that conversation. Introduce it to them. People won't change overnight. I think they'll change slowly, and it just starts with us speaking up.

SANCHEZ: All right. Uncomfortable conversations. A lot of them that just have to be had for progress to be made.

LIANG: Exactly.

SANCHEZ: Jack Liang, thank you so much for the time this morning. We appreciate it.

LIANG: Thank you, guys.

PAUL: And we should have watched CNN tomorrow night for an in-depth discussion about the fear in America's communities of color. It's at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow night right here on CNN.

SANCHEZ: Now to the growing surge of migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border. More than 5,000 unaccompanied children are currently in Customs and Border Protection custody, including hundreds detained in just the last few days. The sudden spike is overwhelming resources causing overcrowding and reportedly unsanitary conditions.


PAUL: The Democratic Senator Chris Murphy tweeted this, just left the border processing facility, hundreds of kids packed into big open rooms in a corner. I fought back tears as a 13-year-old girl sobbed uncontrollably explaining through a translator how terrified she was having been separated from her grandmother and without her parents.

Now, Senator Murphy was part of a tour led by the homeland security secretary where relying partly on the words of politicians to understand what's happening in these facilities because journalists were not allowed on that tour.

White House press secretary said media tours of facilities haven't been permitted because of COVID-19 restrictions and that the administration is considering potential options.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, more minors are currently being housed at makeshift locations. Buses were seen arriving last night at the Dallas Convention Center which is serving as a temporary intake facility for up to 1,200 teenage boys.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is there. She has more on this.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: The Biden administration is using the center in Dallas to begin to accommodate the number of children cross the U.S.-Mexico alone. The convention center behind me is being transformed to have cots, showers, provide medical services and entertainment to children as they come here and work through the process to be relocated with the family in the United States.

These are measures the administration is taking to begin to alleviate overcrowding in the border control facilities where the number of kids has continued to tick upwards.

In Dallas, Priscilla Alvarez, CNN.


PAUL: Priscilla, thank you.

Thomas Kaplan, national political reporter for the "New York Times" is with us.

Thomas, thank you so much for taking time for us.

I want to point out, CNN has a new piece, "How the border problem caught the Biden team off guard, and how they have scrambled to fix it." There's a Biden official who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity,

about these border problems, and here's what he said. He was asked, were you prepared? To that he responded quote, yes, everyone wants to be like crisis, crisis, crisis, but it's like, you know, actually things are going well. Yes, we brought in FEMA, but you know what, that was the responsible thing to do, unquote.

Speak to us about the accuracy of that assessment that things are going well, and the unwillingness, it seems, for them to use the terminology crisis.

THOMAS KAPLAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it's obviously a challenging logistical situation to deal with. The pandemic adds another layer of complications here, and I think the White House is sensitive to the fact that political opponents are certainly very eager to latch on to this issue and use it against them. And you see that in the debate over is this a crisis, is this a challenge, this is an issue that obviously can have political ramification, and Republicans are eager to use in the midterms.

That being said, it definitely is an urgent thing the administration needs to address. Clearly, the number of migrants is posing a challenge. That would be the word they prefer to use, and you're going to need to see steps taken quickly in order to address processing of migrants, housing of children coming across the border, and it's clearly something the administration has to deal with urgently no matter what it wants to call the situation.

PAUL: So, Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio, and former presidential candidate, of course, was on CNN last night, and here's what he said about it.


CASTRO: Look, this is a challenge at the border. I don't agree that it is a crisis.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: It's not a humanitarian crisis, you don't believe it's a humanitarian crisis?

CASTRO: I believe it's a challenge that's being managed. Joe Biden is trying to pick up the pieces of a human rights catastrophe that Donald Trump left at our doorstep.


PAUL: Okay. First of all, out of that, your reaction to the assertion that it's being managed.

KAPLAN: I mean, I think for one thing, it's a little hard to evaluate from afar. I mean, hopefully press access improves to be able to actually see what's happening and not rely, you know, in the way we have in the past couple of days in for instance, the senators who visited a few days ago.

But, I mean, it's certainly something that the administration is tackling. They're going to be evaluated both by folks on the left and the right on how they're handling this, and I think you're going to see different reactions on both sides for sure.

PAUL: We had John Moore, a photographer who have taken really iconic pictures of what's been happening down there for years. He's worked at the border through Bush and Obama, and he has never been kept from having access to some of those areas. How much of a problem -- how problematic might that be when it comes to transparency?

KAPLAN: I mean, I think in general, access for the press to see on the ground what's happening is imperative across the board, no matter what kind of situation you're talking about.


And certainly, this falls in that category, just as a broad principle. Obviously the pandemic is a factor. I mean, that's not -- that's not nothing. But I think it's in everyone's interest in general for the press to be able to bear witness to what's going on to be able to report to the country how a situation like this is being handled.

PAUL: You know, I think every administration we hear from in the beginning, whether it's Democratic or whether it's Republican, has blamed -- they're blaming the previous administration for whatever they may be dealing with in that moment. Now, in his defense, president Biden has only been in office for what, 60 days, but at what point does that argument we're trying to handle something that was left over, get transferred to this is this current administration's responsibility?

THOMAS: Right. That's a great point, question. I think for sure the Biden administration is going to continue to point the finger back at the Trump administration and say, look at how they handled this issue and left us so ill-prepared. That, I think, is something you're going to continue to see, especially because this issue of border security, immigration, was such a sort of hallmark Trump issue.

That being said, President Biden clearly wants to go in a very different direction here. That's part of what the sort of tricky challenge is. President Biden wants to have a more humane, sort of welcoming immigration system, and the extent to which that's encouraging some of the migration, you know, that is a challenge this White House will have to deal with. Those are the two things.

PAUL: Thomas, I only have a second but I want to get this in, "Washington Post" this morning says senators see dire conditions in packed border stations as officials consider flying migrants north. They continue to say internal DHS communications reviewed by "The Washington Post" conclude overcrowding at the border has become a life or death emergency.

Is this primary issue an HHS inability to move and house these minors?

KAPLAN: So the -- I mean, it's sort of multiple pieces. You have the Border Patrol and the processing, and then you have the longer term housing of minors. I don't know where the fault lies or where the bottleneck is, if there is one, but it's certainly something that the administration is going to have to answer to in the days to come.

PAUL: Thomas Kaplan, thank you so much for taking the time for us this morning. We're also grateful to have you with us.

KAPLAN: Thank you.

PAUL: Sure.

And Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will join Dana Bash on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning. That's at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead, a spring break super spreader. State of emergency issued on Miami Beach, why the mayor says he had no choice but to enforce a curfew.

PAUL: Also, to get the AstraZeneca vaccine or not to do so. The confusion surrounding the vaccine's rollout in Europe. That's following reports that it's linked to blood clots.



PAUL: Look at what is happening in Miami Beach. A state of emergency there overnight. At least a dozen people we know were arrested. Police had to use pepper balls to break up what the mayor calls overwhelming crowds.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, a lot of this was spurred by violence and vandalism in the street, but just the thought that people are in large crowds acting recklessly is adding to fears that we could soon be headed for a COVID spike.

Yesterday, the United States recorded 52,000 new coronavirus cases. Nationwide, new infections seem to be holding steady in sort of a plateau. But as we've heard from experts, plateaus typically signal an oncoming surge.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is following the latest on the pandemic.

And, Evan, it seems like a lot of people are starting to let their guard down.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Boris. It does feel like we're in a challenging moment right now where we're seeing restrictions loosened but not fully lifted. People are getting back to normalcy maybe too fast.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Another pandemic recordbreaking air travel day in America on Friday. More than 1.4 million people screened by the TSA in U.S. airports. That's a record since this pandemic began, and the ninth straight day of more than a million flyers. So it seems at least some people in America are ready to get back to

normal. But the coronavirus is still presenting challenges. Spring break declared a state of emergency in Miami Beach. The mayor announcing a curfew in the South Beach entertainment district and a block on traffic on causeways at night.

The crowds are just too big, he says.

MAYOR DAN GELBER (D), MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: It feels like a rock concert, wall-to-wall over blocks and blocks. Last night, somebody shot a weapon in the air, and there was a riot. Other things have happened that are similarly challenging, and so it feels like a tinder. It feels like just any match could set it off.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Signs all over the country that crowds during this pandemic are still dangerous.

In Idaho, a legislative session shut down and postponed after an outbreak among lawmakers and staff. Undergraduate students at Duke University may be finally coming out of this stay in place order prompted by a surge in cases. Indoor dining still banned and students still on travel restrictions.


The fear among experts remains the spread of variants across the country.

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I am worried, many of us are worried. This is something that we have been warning about for the last several months. I am concerned. Now 20 to 30 percent of cases of COVID in the United States are this new U.K. variant. And we very much are on track for that to be the dominant strain in the United States within a couple of weeks.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: New York dealing with the variant first identified in the U.K. On Saturday, the state reported its first case of the variant first seen in Brazil. Keeping the variants in check requires getting more Americans vaccinated fast. On Saturday, the CDC announced more than 79 million people in America have received at least one dose.

New York, like the lot of states, vowing to expand eligibility for the vaccine soon. Experts say Americans need to get it as soon as they can.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): So look, this is really simple. I have everything that I need to keep these variants in check right with me where I am right now. Behind me is a vaccinate site here in Manhattan. People when they get their eligibility for vaccines need to go out and get vaccines as soon as they can. That's what experts say. In my pocket, I've got my mask, which I wear around other people and try to keep that air flow from getting into people's mouths. That's all you need, the mask, the vaccine, get out there, get it, and that's how we're going to keep this virus in check -- Boris and Christi.

SANCHEZ: Important to remember the basics.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, reporting from New York. Thanks so much.

Right now, Europe is facing a third wave of coronavirus infections and some countries have ordered new restrictions. Protesters in Switzerland, Sweden, Austria and Germany have clashed with police over the new lockdowns.

In fact, in London, police say they have arrested at least three dozen people, most of them from violating COVID regulations.

But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson rolled up his leave, and this is notable, for the Oxford, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Regulators in the E.U. have deemed that shot safe to use.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, earlier this month, several countries paused shots with that vaccine following reports that it could be linked to blood clots. The European Union aims to vaccinate 70 percent of its adult population by September. But vaccination efforts have taken a hit as many people are still not convinced it is safe.

CNN's Melissa Bell has more.


CATIA PEREIRA, WOULDN'T TAKE ASTRAZENECA VACCINE: The AstraZeneca vaccine, if it was offered to me today I wouldn't take it. I wouldn't get vaccinated with this vaccine. That's it.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But at least some of the 8 million shelled AstraZeneca shots in Europe are once again being put into arms in places like France, Germany, and Italy. After the European Medicine Agency declared it did not increase the risk of blood clots.

JENS BODMAN, GETTING VACCINATED: I asked my doctor, he says it's fine, I should do it. So I heard him and I follow his instructions.

BELL: In Milan, too, at a vaccination drive in, the AstraZeneca vaccine was on offer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to the experts. They say there is no correlation between those tragic events and the administration of the vaccine. So you have to trust them.

BELL: The French prime minister, trying to instill exactly that, some trust. By getting the shot himself, with the new poll showing that only 22 percent of French people now have confidence in it. After it was suspended in several countries, it's roll out ground to a halt in Italy on Monday, the very day the country entered a new partial lock down.

Here in the vaccination center outside Rome airport, they have been delivering the AstraZeneca vaccine. Just as we arrived, officials were given the word they were no longer allowed to distribute it.

DR. GIOVANNI REZZA, ITALIAN HEALTH MINISTRY: We were vaccinating about 200,000 people in Italy a day. And so this really slowed us down. We know we will have to recruit for it that daily number of vaccinations, but we may have to double the speed.

BELL: By Wednesday, under the pressure of the third European COVID wave, the president of the European Commission criticized AstraZeneca, not over safety but supplies.

URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: We also know that AstraZeneca has unfortunately under produced and under delivered. And this painfully, of course, reduced the speed of the vaccination campaign.

BELL: For now, though, Europe's fully inoculated less than 4 percent of its population. Its aim is to get to 70 percent by September.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


PAUL: So families have been crushed by the pandemic, and they're thrown a lifeline in the form of stimulus checks that started going out last week. The big difference that money is making for people who are just trying to survive another month.

SANCHEZ: And LeBron in an unfamiliar position out.


The play that has King James sidelined indefinitely.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Here's a number for you: more than 90 million Americans have now received a stimulus payment, so many people obviously out of work, struggling to pay their bills. That money is a real lifeline for them.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich reports.


ASHLIE ORDONEZ, WAITING FOR STIMULUS CHECK: We've given up so much as a family already. It's just scary to think that we might be losing more.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): It's been a year of sacrifice and uncertainty for Ashlie Ordonez, Kyle Price (ph) and their five children in Denver, Colorado.

They drained their savings and sold her wedding ring, all to survive.

KYLE PRICE: That was a tough one.

ORDONEZ: It's just a piece of material and it's a means to an end for my business.

YURKEVICH: Like 100 million other Americans, they're eligible for stimulus checks as part of President Joe Biden's COVID relief package.


They could get up to $8,400 to their family, which they say will go straight into their wellness studio that's been surviving month to month. The checks will give them one more.

ORDONEZ: It's keeping our dream alive.

YURKEVICH: In Arkansas, Nikki Martin's check arrived just in time.

NIKKI MARTIN, RECEIVED STIMULUS CHECK: It has kept a roof over my head, and kept my lights on. Martin just finished months of aggressive chemo treatment when the pandemic started.

MARTIN: I didn't get to celebrate being cancer free for very long before this hit.

YURKEVICH: Without a job, she filed for disability checks and is still waiting, making her ineligible for unemployment. When that $1,400 in stimulus hit her bank account, she breathed a sigh of relief.

MARTIN: I just immediately got online and paid every bill I have and got caught up for the first time in months.

YURKEVICH: And Madeline Aguiar out of work for the last year has spent much of it here, applying to hundreds of jobs.

MADELINE AGUIAR, RECEIVED STIMULUS CHECK: I've had to move from where I lived before New Jersey to my parents' house in the Bronx.

YURKEVICH: Aguiar said she lost her job in hospitality when the industry was crushed by the pandemic, with work hard to come by, she's found herself in debt and receiving a stimulus check, both for the first time.

When you think about $1,400, does that seem like a lot?

AGUIAR: Not in comparison to the debt I've had to incur.

YURKEVICH: Do you see a way out of the debt in the future?

AGUIAR: I think the only way out is to get a job.

YURKEVICH: For many Americans, stimulus checks will make a difference, but for Ashlie and Kyle who put their house up for collateral to ensure their business is simply not enough.

ORDONEZ: Any extra income goes straight to the business so that we don't lose this house. It's kind of the last thing we have, so it's really scary thinking about me. There's like --

YURKEVICH: Thoughts of the future, too much to bear, especially one so uncertain.

Vanessa Yurkevich, CNN, New York.


SANCHEZ: That was Vanessa Yurkevich reporting.

The outer Capitol fencing erected after the January 6th riots is finally coming down. The removal is already underway and expected to be completed by Monday, allowing traffic to reopen on Independence and Constitution Avenues. The inner perimeter fencing will remain, and there's no current plan for the removal of that.

The acting House sergeant at arms announced its removal on Friday in a memo to lawmakers saying, quote: There does not exist a known, credible threat against Congress or the Capitol complex that warrants the temporary security fencing. So could this be the next big lie? Up next, a look at why vaccine misinformation is spreading so quickly among supporters of former President Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do I want somebody to push something on to me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm perfectly healthy and fine. We're not going to die from it. And you know if we do? Then it was our time to go because we believe in God.




SANCHEZ: In the race to vaccinate more Americans, misinformation seems to be a big reason why one critical group is holding off on potentially getting life saving shots, former President Trump's Republican base.

PAUL: The former president encouraged his supporters to get vaccinated recently. We want to point that out. Will that make a dent in the so called, quote, new big lie?

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan spoke to the skeptics about why their hesitant.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Have you guys got your vaccine yet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we're never going to get a vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do I want somebody to push something on me (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm perfectly healthy. I'm not going to die for it. And you know what? If we do, then it was our time to go, because we believe in God.

SULLIVAN (voice-over): Former President Trump's team quietly at the start of March that Trump had taken the COVID-19 vaccine at the White House in January.

On Tuesday, he told Fox News --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would recommend it, and I would recommend it to a lot of people that don't want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly, but, you know, again, we have our freedoms. And we have to live by that.

O'SULLIVAN: Trump takes credit for the vaccine.

BETH ANON, AUTHOR, "LOVE JOY TRUMP": Yeah, he's giving them what they want. I think people are so brainwashed. They need to get a vaccine just to get on with their lives again.

O'SULLIVAN: At a gathering of Trump supporters in Ventura, California, in February, hardly anyone said they would take the vaccine. Some didn't even think Trump would take it.

So you're not going to take the vaccine?


O'SULLIVAN: What if Trump came out and said, please, please take this vaccine?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't believe he'll take it.

O'SULLIVAN: Vaccine hesitancy in part fueled by dangerous misinformation is higher among Republicans and Trump voters than other parts of the U.S. population. Speaking at this event was Judy Mikovits, a discredited researchers, and known peddler of dangerous misinformation about COVID-19.

A lot of people who'll say the message you are spreading anti-masks, anti-vaccine is dangerous.

JUDY MIKOVITS, DISCREDITED RESEARCHER: And every piece of data says it's not dangerous. Has the mask helped up? No. You're going to get sick with a bacterial infection.

O'SULLIVAN: Mikovits is wrong. The CDC and science says masks do work. Mikovits was the star of "Plandemic", a video that went viral on YouTube and Facebook last year, which was full of false claims about the coronavirus.


And now, false claims about the vaccine spreading on and off-line. Fear-mongering using false information about death rates and posts like this falsely claiming people over 60 need to be monitored for weeks after getting their shots.

Are you planning on taking the vaccine?


O'SULLIVAN: You are?

SKOLNIK: I have an elderly father. He's 93 years old. I have to take it. I don't want to get him sick. I don't want to get anybody else's parent to get sick.

O'SULLIVAN: You're the first person to tell me you're going to take the vaccine.

SKOLNIK: Serious?


SKOLNIK: I think a lot of the people who are angry and said they don't want to take the vaccine, a lot of them are more angry at he establishment, the lockdowns. So, they take -- they take their anger in different directions, and they may say screw the vaccine, screw all Dr. Fauci, all that other stuff.

I think a lot of them out of anger say stupid things, but I believe that a lot of everyone knows that this is real and it was a contributing factor to my mother's death three months ago.

O'SULLIVAN: Sorry to hear that.

SKOLNIK: Yeah, thank you.

O'SULLIVAN: A conservative voice condemning vaccine misinformation, QAnon and other dangerous conspiracy theories. But on the Ventura Promenade, as on the national stage, it wasn't long before it got drowned on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN is fake news. Why would you talk to him? He lies 24/7.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen this guy before.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's even probably framing you to look small, right?

SKOLNIK: I was basically speaking up for the conservatives. I'll be honest with you, I don't like CNN, but I'm talking to you because I want to get my point across. That was it. I hope if you use this --


SANCHEZ: We want to thank Donie O'Sullivan for that report.

A quick programming note, a new episode of CNN's original series "LINCOLN: DIVIDED WE STAND" airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. Here's a quick preview. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After Appomattox, he does something a little bit more complex. He gives a speech that turns to a conversation about the challenge of reconstruction. He said, we need to have a non- ideological approach to reconstruction. And he goes further on one element than he has gone before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says that he believes that black people should be allowed to vote, at least those who have served in the armed forces and those who are very intelligent, by which we assume he meant literate.

LOUIS MASUR, PHD, AUTHOR: What a shocking idea that was. In a society that held the deepest racist ideologies about the incompetency of blacks.

MARY FRANCES BERRY, PHD, FORMER CHAIRWOMAN OF THE UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHT: From a guy who was not an abolitionist, was not really purely anti-slavery in terms of doing very much about it, and he ends up saying that maybe blacks could vote.


SANCHEZ: It is a powerful series. Be sure to watch "LINCOLN: DIVIDED WE STAND", tonight at ten, right here on CNN.



PAUL: So the NCAA was forced to call off last night's game between VCU and Oregon, after VCU had multiple positive COVID tests in the program.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, Andy Scholes is live with us this morning from Minneapolis.

And, Andy, for the student athletes, it's got to be crushing.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, heartbreaking for them, Boris and Christi. You know, the NCAA was really hoping to avoid this scenario. They set up a controlled environment with strict controlled environment here in Minneapolis, you know, hoping to keep COVID from distracting this tournament, but the VCU head coach Mike Rhoades says that his team had multiple positive COVID-19 tests over the last couple of days, due to contact tracing and they didn't even have five players to play, so they are forced to withdraw from the tournament, which means Oregon moves on.

Decision came hours before tip-off and it was hard for the players and staff to swallow.


MIKE RHOADES, VCU HEAD COACH: It was devastating, it was heartbreaking. Not a lot of -- no dry eyes. This is what you dream of as a college player and a coach and to get it taken away like this is just a heartbreaking moment in their young lives.


SCHOLES: All right. Meanwhile the women getting new gym equipment in San Antonio following backlash over the lack of amenities compared to the men. Ahead of the opener tonight, Tara VanderVeer ripped into the NCAA.

In a statement released last night, the winningest coach in women's college basketball history said a lot of what we've seen this week is evidence of blatant sexism and this is purposeful and hurtful and I feel betrayed by the NCAA. And the message is that you're not valued at the same level as your male counterparts. This is wrong and unacceptable. Let's fix this once and for all.

Now the women's tournament tips off later today there in Texas.

Finally, on NBA, LeBron James is out indefinitely after suffering a high ankle sprain yesterday against the Hawks. LeBron tweeting that he'll be back soon, but you know, guys? That high ankle sprain, that's tricky injury, and takes a lot of people at least a month to get over that.

And the most incredible thing we've seen about LeBron, in his 18-year career, he never gets hurt. So, this is pretty rare for him. We'll see how quickly he's able to bounce back.

PAUL: That did not look pretty.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, it is the first time in 18 years that something like this has happened. He'll hopefully be in time for the playoffs, though, and what he really cares about, potentially winning another championship.

Andy Scholes from Indiana, thanks so much.

PAUL: Thanks, Andy.

Listen, he's 96-year-olds old and World War II veteran and he's still serving his country, turning his fashion for knitting into a way to help other people.


Tom Cornish started knitting and since last year has donated hundreds of handmade hats to the Salvation Army.


TOM CORNISH, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: Volunteering did something to a person. You're working for others.

DAN FURRY, THE SALVATION ARMY: Last year, he donated 400 hats.

It goes to show people that there is something that everyone can do.


PAUL: With that coming to an end, Tom is beginning to knit baby hats when he intends to donate. He says he hopes to continue knitting until his last breath.

Tom Cornish, we thank you for your service then and now. Thank you so much.

And good to see you, Boris. Thanks for being here. We hope all of you have a -- hey, we'll see you soon.

SANCHEZ: "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY" with Abby Phillip is next.