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Giuliani Seeks Trump's Help To Pay Mounting Legal Bills; Liz Cheney Blasts Trump; CDC Data Shows Average Daily Pace Of COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Administered In U.S. Down 20 Percent From Last Week; Derek Chauvin's Lawyers File Motion For New Trial; Rep. Elise Stefanik's Rapid Rise As Trump Supporter Highlights Trump Takeover Of GOP; Out-Of-Control Chinese Rocket On Unpredictable Path, Expected To Plunge To Earth Within Days; Netanyahu Rival Tasked With Forming New Government After PM Fails. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 05, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: Representative Liz Cheney is firing back big time at Donald Trump and the Republicans set to punish her for defying the former president.
In a truly scathing, brutal op-ed posted tonight, Cheney warns the GOP right now is at a turning point. Its future, she says, is threatened by Trump's efforts to unravel, to unravel democracy here in the United States of America.
This comes as Trump is strengthening his hold on the party by pouring fuel on its divisions. He's now endorsing a fervent loyalist to replace Cheney in the House GOP leadership. And more top Republicans are falling in line of behind their party's leader by turning on Cheney. As Republicans embrace Trump, Facebook, by the way is slapping him down, its Oversight Board upholding Trump suspension from the site, as he keeps pushing false claims about the election that got him banned.
Let's start our coverage this hour with our congressional correspondent, Ryan Nobles. He's up on Capitol Hill.
Ryan, Liz Cheney is not going down quietly at all, as she says bluntly history is watching what's going on in our country right now.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. And the reason that Liz Cheney finds herself in this position, in
danger of losing her leadership post, is her unwillingness to side with the former president in his big lie that he actually won the 2020 election.
She's not going to help her chances with this scathing op-ed that was just posted on "The Washington Post"'s Web site.
It reads in part: "Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work, confidence in the results of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this."
And then Cheney goes on to warn her fellow Republicans about the future of the Republican Party. She says: "The party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution. In the immediate wake of the violence of January 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened. We witnessed it firsthand."
And what we are seeing play out here in Washington, particularly here on Capitol Hill, is Republicans not choosing the truth, but instead choosing loyalty to the former president.
NOBLES (voice-over): Tonight, former President Donald Trump is tightening his grip on the Republican Party.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You were killing them, Elise. You were killing them.
NOBLES: Trump, who learned Wednesday that he would not be allowed back on Facebook, is still finding ways to exert his influence, putting his full support behind New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik to replace Wyoming's Liz Cheney as the number three ranking House Republican: "Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice and she has my complete and total endorsement for GOP Conference chair."
Cheney's rapid demise is a sign of the direction of the Republican Party, a party that is increasingly devoted to Trump and ready to dump any Republican unwilling to support Trump's big lie that he actually won the 2020 election.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I have had it with her. It's -- I have lost confidence.
NOBLES: While, up until now, Republicans like Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy expressed their doubts about Cheney privately, many are now going public, GOP Whip Steve Scalise offering up an endorsement of Stefanik. And Stefanik herself, who'd been working behind the scenes, tweeted her plans to challenge Cheney with Trump's support. Even Cheney is resigned to her fate. Unlike the last time her leadership position was challenged, she has decided not to phone colleagues to plead her case. She will not resign, but is ready to shift her focus to a broader goal, the fight for the soul of the GOP.
Even prominent Republicans who in the past supported Cheney are not rushing to her defense.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): One hundred percent of my focus is on stopping this new administration.
NOBLES: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell refusing to offer any support to Cheney, this while McConnell himself is still facing Trump's wrath.
Despite his ongoing social media ban, the former president launching a new Web site, where he's airing his grievances and putting McConnell in the same group with Cheney and his former vice president, Mike Pence, Trump calling McConnell gutless and clueless and attacking Pence for certifying the 2020 election in Congress.
Trump making it clear that the number one criteria for his support is defending his big lie, something Elise Stefanik has had no problem doing.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Tens of millions of Americans are concerned that the 2020 election featured unconstitutional overreach by unelected state officials and judges ignoring state election laws.
NOBLES: And, to be very clear, this isn't a theoretical argument about whether or not President Trump cares about conservatism or just specifically about the big lie.
When you compare the voting records of Elise Stefanik and Liz Cheney, Cheney has voted with the former president far more often than Elise Stefanik has. The big difference between the two is that Cheney refuses to believe that President Trump actually won the 2020 election, while Stefanik has said that she believes there were irregularities in that race -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Ryan, thank you.
Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill.
Let's go to President Biden's take right now on the Republican infighting.
Our senior White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly, has got some new information. Phil, the president weighed in on what's happening in the GOP just a
little while ago, as he was pushing his own agenda and defending its cost.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, the president used questions from reporters to deliver an impassioned defense of that sweeping $4 trillion legislative agenda he's put on the table, most specifically, his tax increases on the wealthy to pay for that plan.
But the party he's planning to negotiate with to see if there's a path forward for a bipartisan agreement on that plan, well, that party right now seems to have just left him perplexed. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It seems as though the Republican Party is trying to identify what it stands for. And they're in the midst of a significant sort of mini-revolution going on in the Republican Party.
I've been a Democrat for a long time. We've gone through periods where we've had internal fights and disagreements. I don't ever remember any like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And, Wolf, White House officials I have talked to make clear this isn't their fight, but they're certainly watching.
And I think there's a level of concern knowing that, if the president wants to reach in a bipartisan agreement, these are the very lawmakers he's going to have to negotiate with, negotiations that will continue in earnest at the White House next week.
Now, you heard in Ryan's piece Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he is 100 percent focused on stopping President Biden's agenda, the White House pushing back shortly thereafter, saying they are 100 percent focused on delivering relief to the American people.
The president, though, a little more circumspect, making clear he was able to work with McConnell when he was vice president to President Obama, making clear he still wants negotiations with Republicans on an infrastructure proposal.
Worth noting he will meet with McConnell and other congressional leaders next week on May 12, May 12 also the same day of the vote on Liz Cheney, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Phil, thank you.
Phil Mattingly over at the White House.
Let's discuss what's going on.
Our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, is with us. Our chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, is with us. And then CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, the Washington correspondent for "The New York Times," is also with us.
Maggie, in this powerful opinion piece, the number three House Republican, Liz Cheney, she also writes this.
And let me put it up on the screen: "History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be."
She's also going on to ask for bravery from sitting Republicans in Congress. There are a few Republicans who agree with her, but certainly not many.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, there are not, Wolf.
And I don't expect to hear that many Republicans defending her. I think there have been a number of members of the caucus, according to my sources, who have been frustrated with this fight within the leadership.
But what Cheney is trying to do is set the clear tone here that she sees this as essentially for history, that Republicans in her conference are going to have to own what happened. They're going to have to own what happened on January 6 and the riot in the halls of the Capitol and everything that Donald Trump said about this being a false election, and questioning the idea that Joe Biden won an election that he won.
And she is -- I don't -- again, I don't think going to have a ton of company here, but I think that she is laying out that this is the binary that she sees.
BLITZER: And, Dana, the congresswoman goes after the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, in her article, the op-ed she published in "The Washington Post," saying he changed his story about the deadly January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Is she essentially saying, Republicans, you know better than this, what are you doing?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right.
So it is about history, as Maggie was saying, but it's also about the future, about the current Republican Party and the future of the Republican Party. That is really the key here. That is what Liz Cheney is trying to make a point about and trying to fight for.
And, by the way, when you talk about the future of the Republican Party, it is not hyperbole to say, if the future of the Republican Party is that the entire House Republican leadership is made up with people who refuse to acknowledge truth vs. lies about the election, which the former president is still pushing today, the point that she made in her op-ed, but it's also about the fact that, if there isn't a viable Republican Party, how can we have a viable democracy with only one party -- with only one party, meaning the Democratic Party, being the one full of ideas, but also with truth?
And this is about not just truth with regard to philosophy. This is about basic facts. And it's really remarkable that we're at this point, Wolf, where you have to have somebody who -- like Liz Cheney, to stand up and say, I'm a conservative, but being a conservative means being OK with the rule of law.
BLITZER: It's amazing, what's going on.
Brian, the congresswoman makes it abundantly clear in this article she believes the former president of the United States, Trump, is a danger to our democracy, that he could provoke even more violence by what he's saying. And that's clearly at the heart of his continued ban from Facebook, right?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's why Facebook banned him on January 7. It was for violating rules about dangerous individuals and organizations.
And, today, the Facebook Oversight Board said, hey, Facebook was right to do that four months ago. However, the idea of a permanent suspension is too vague. And now the board has given Facebook six months to put more clear rules into place, more transparency.
So, they're punting this down the road. Of course, six months from now, what's going to happen? The riot is going to be even further in the rearview mirror? Right-wing media is going to try even harder to cover up the crimes, the shame of the riot.
And that's why it's so important that Cheney is calling for a commission, putting that commission idea back front and center. The only way we're going to move forward, if we ever do from this, is with the facts and the truth that Dana was talking about. Let's get those facts on the table, Cheney pushing for a commission.
But, of course, most of her Republican colleagues don't want to do that.
BLITZER: You know, Maggie, Trump has been talking to the House minority leader, McCarthy, through this effort to push out Cheney.
But is he still nursing grudges from the aftermath of January 6?
HABERMAN: Against McCarthy or against Cheney? Because the answer is both, just nowhere near to the same degree.
He goes up and down on Kevin McCarthy, according to people I have spoken with. Some days, he's fine. Some days, he's not fine. I think Kevin McCarthy made a similar comment to my colleague Mark Leibovich.
In terms of Liz Cheney, he remains laser-focused on her. He has for a very long time. Trump, the further we have gotten from January 6, has started talking
about the events of January 6 as if they were vastly different than what they were. He said in an interview on FOX News that this -- these were mostly peaceful folks who showed up, that there really wasn't any danger. I'm paraphrasing, but that was the message.
He has (AUDIO GAP) to the idea that he actually won and has been insisting to people in harder terms that this was an election that he believes he won.
So, if anything, as we have gotten further away from January 6, Trump is doing whatever he can to erase the memory of it. And many members of his party are going right along with him, which is what Cheney is objecting to in the first place.
And when we're talking about grudges, in the statement he released today, he's clearly blasting his vice president, Mike Pence, and Mitch McConnell for doing what they did on January 6, allowing the democratically held election here in the United States to go forward.
Dana, you're watching all of this. Is Congresswoman Cheney's fate effectively sealed right now? Is she going to be removed as the number three House Republican leader?
BASH: Almost certainly.
And it seems pretty clear that she understands that. The first time, the only time so far there has been a vote to remove her after she voted to impeach President Trump, that failed. But it failed in part because she worked it hard. She worked the phones and she shored up support for herself.
And she's not doing that now. And she's not doing that for all the reasons she laid out in that op-ed, because she believes it is so fundamental at this point. It is not about her leadership. It is about the party and, again, it is about truth, as basic as that.
It all boils down to the truth.
BLITZER: Yes, what Liz Cheney says, democracy here in the United States of America right now, she says, is at stake.
Guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead: Allies of Rudy Giuliani are now making a big ask of Donald Trump.
Might Giuliani flip on the former president if Trump says no?
BLITZER: CNN has learned that allies of Rudy Giuliani are calling on former President Trump to help pay for Giuliani's mounting and mounting legal bills.
Federal agents raided Giuliani's New York home and office last week as part of an ongoing investigation of his activities in Ukraine in the run-up to the 2020 election.
Let's discuss this and more with CNN senior law enforcement analyst the former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. He's the author, by the way, of the important book "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump." Also joining us, CNN legal and national security analyst Carrie Cordero.
Andrew, if Giuliani is not paid, if Trump's campaign, his political money doesn't pay for all of his legal expenses, do you think that potentially, potentially, could increase the possibility that Giuliani would flip, would cooperate with federal investigators, potentially give them damaging information about Trump?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it certainly could, Wolf.
There's a lot of pressure being brought to bear on Rudy Giuliani right now, not the least of which is the ever-growing federal investigation, the search warrant of his residence and his office last week, the revelations that are coming out of Ukraine even as recently as in the last 24 hours of individuals who are talking about exactly the steps he took while he was over there.
And this is an additional pressure. He is certainly facing staggering legal bills as a result of this investigation and the other civil cases that are targeting him for his post-election activity.
And I will tell you, if you're Donald Trump right now, and you would like to secure Rudy's everlasting loyalty, about the worst thing you could do is leave him hanging out to dry with these massive legal bills by himself.
So, it's -- it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
BLITZER: Yes, we should find out fairly soon.
Carrie, federal prosecutors are also now asking for what's called a special master to review the evidence seized in the Giuliani raids. First, was this to be expected? And just how significant is this move?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So it seems like an appropriate thing for them to do in this case.
It is always more sensitive when there is a search conducted of an attorney. A normal circumstance, if this was a regular case of a person who is not -- does not have such a high public profile, and there would be usually what's called a taint team. So it would be a separate team of investigators and prosecutors who would review the information from the search, separate out any attorney-client privilege information, and then that would be separate from the team that is conducting the actual investigation.
That would be the normal way that this type of thing would work. But, in this case, because of the sensitive nature of it, the high political presence of the individuals involved, the fact that Rudy Giuliani was the former president's attorney and public adviser, it makes sense that the government would request a special master in this case.
BLITZER: Andrew, Ukraine's foreign minister is now speaking to CNN.
And he says he's not aware of any formal requests for assistance from the FBI, but that Ukraine would be open to helping the United States. And he insists Ukraine has nothing to hide.
Let's listen to more of his exclusive conversation with our Matthew Chance. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: So, he was definitely playing politics. And he put the situation at risk for Ukraine and for Ukraine's relationship with the United States.
And we did our best to avoid that trap and to maintain that bipartisan security, with bipartisan support from the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How could that type of cooperation, do you believe, Andrew, potentially help the FBI in this investigation?
MCCABE: Well, it's true, Wolf, that the FBI frequently reaches out to foreign governments for assistance in investigations that have essentially gone overseas, that have overseas implications.
And in this case, the FBI actually has an office, a legal attache office, in the American Embassy in Kiev. So that's the -- those are the folks that would make that ask. It's possible that the agents are just not ready to sit down with the -- their Ukrainian counterparts at this point.
They may want to go through all of that material they got in a search warrant last week before they make those sorts of requests. It's also possible that the case, at the end of the day, is so strong that they don't need the assistance of their counterparts in Ukraine.
So, again, we will have to see. This is going to take several months to play out. And -- but, ultimately, I would expect that the Bureau would make some contact and ask for some assistance.
BLITZER: Yes, I suspect this investigation is really only starting, big time, right now.
Guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up: Daily COVID vaccinations here in the United States sink to the lowest level since February, as the CDC director stresses the threat of so-called wildcard variants are still out there.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Tonight, there's even more evidence as to demand for COVID-19 vaccinations here in the United States is declining, and that's very worrisome.
CDC data shows the average daily pace of doses administered in the U.S. is down 20 percent from last week.
CNN's Alexandra Field has more in our pandemic report.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to sit out and wait to see the effects it had on everyone.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It only gets harder from here.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We knew that we would have a lot of supply by the end of April, early May. But we also knew that this would be the time that we had people who were more hesitant.
FIELD: Shots in arms falling to fewer than a million yesterday for the first time since February, the average daily number of vaccinations under 2.2 million, down from highs of three to four million.
Accordingly, the White House's vaccination goal, 70 percent of adults getting their first dose and 160 million adults fully vaccinated by July 4, is more modest than the first 100 days.
RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: That's an achievable goal. It's a stretch goal, but it's an achievable goal.
FIELD: Walgreens stores, as of today, offering walk-in appointments, among the 40,000 pharmacy locations asked to do that.
DR. PHILIP KEISER, GALVESTON COUNTY, TEXAS, LOCAL HEALTH AUTHORITY: Herd immunity has almost become sort of like a mythical creature, like a unicorn, and except no one knows what it looks like. Our goal is to get as many people vaccinated as we can.
FIELD: Experts warning that, at current vaccination levels, we could still see another surge in the winter.
WALENSKY: I think we have to be humble with this virus. I think we have variants ahead of us. We have not full immunity in this population yet.
[18:30:02] FIELD (voice over): The head of the CDC says, within the next few weeks, there could be a green light to start vaccinating children as young as 12. But there are questions about the CDC guidance on social distancing and masks for kids at summer camps.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: It looks a bit strict, a bit stringent but that's the reason why they look at that and trying to re-evaluate on literally in real-time whether or not that's the practical way to go.
WALENSKY: What we are trying to avoid in this camp guidance is what we saw in outbreaks in camps last summer.
FIELD: Nationwide, new infections have dropped again. The daily average down 10 percent since last week and more states are opening up, three Vegas casinos now operating at full capacity, Indiana welcoming back its state fair this summer, and Missouri, state workers heading back to the office May 17th. The governor saying it is time to take this step toward normalcy for ourselves and the people of Missouri.
FIELD (on camera): Also tonight, Wolf, the Department of Justice is appealing a ruling from a federal judge in Washington who has set aside the CDC's moratorium on evictions nationwide. That's a policy that was implemented to help protect some of the people who have been most severely impacted by the economic fallout of the pandemic. The court looked at the question of whether the CDC has the legal authority to impose such a moratorium finding it does not. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, that's important. Alexandra, thank you very much.
Let's discuss with Dr. Paul Offt, the director of the Vaccine Education Centers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He's also a member, by the way, of the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee. Dr. Offit, thank you so much for joining us.
Some experts are suggesting the CDC's guidance for fully vaccinated people is simply too conservative and it's actually leaving vaccinated people confused about their immunity. Can you set the record straight for us, how protected are fully vaccinated people here in the U.S.? What kind of activities can they safely do?
DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: Well, I'm fully vaccinated and when I walk outside, by myself walking outside, I will take my mask off.
But if go to the deli, a few blocks down the street, and I know there other people there, I will wear my mask. Because I'm -- the main reason is I'm scared of variants, variants like the New York Variant, the South African variants, the Brazilian variant. Because even though I'm fully vaccinated, I'm assuming I'm protected, I still might get mild or moderate disease associated with being exposed to the variant. So I think that's what you have to be aware of. We're not quite there yet. We're almost there. If we can get about another 80 to a 100 million people vaccinated, I really think we can significantly slow the spread of this virus and then we can relax, but we're not quite there yet.
BLITZER: Yes, we certainly are not. For the first time since early March, end of February, there were less than 1 million COVID shots administered in the United States yesterday. You've actually warned that the U.S. needs to reach 80 percent herd immunity or we could face another surge this coming winter.
As the pace of vaccination seems to be declining less than a million yesterday, it was 2 million, 3 million, almost 4 million not that long ago, in recent weeks, are we in danger now of falling short of that mark?
OFFIT: I do worry about that. And I don't understand it. I understand the initial reluctance to these, say, first two vaccines, the mRNA vaccines of Pfizer and Moderna, because it was a technology that's never been used before. But now you have all the data you need to make that decision.
We know that these vaccines are more than 90 percent effective. We know that they're effective against all manner of illness. We know that they're effective against for all age groups, and including for a variety of co-morbidities, which would increase risk.
And you could even argue at the beginning, yes, but it was tested in tens of thousands of people. I want to wait until it's in tens of millions of people to make sure it doesn't have a very rare adverse event. And now it's more than 200 million doses have been administered.
So I think at this point, the decision is easy. I don't understand why it is that people are still reluctant. These first two vaccines are as close to perfect vaccines as you can ask for in the midst of a pandemic that has killed more than 570,000 people and probably infected about a 100 million people in this country.
There was an article in Public Library Science recently that I think said it all, which was this. Over the next few years, you 're going to have two choices. Get a vaccine or get infected, and vaccines were always a better choice.
BLITZER: Yes, let's not forget just yesterday, almost 1,000 Americans were reported to have died from this virus just yesterday. This pandemic clearly is continuing. Dr. Offit, thank you so much for joining us.
Just ahead, we'll have the latest on the request for a new trial by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin's lawyer. We'll talk about it with the lead attorney for George Floyd's Family, Ben Crump, there you see him. He's standing by live. We'll discuss when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:35:00]
BLITZER: Lawyers for Derek Chauvin have now filed a motion for a new trial for the former Minneapolis Police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd. Let's discuss with Ben Crump, he's the lead attorney for the Floyd family. He also represents, by the way, the families of several other high profile police shooting victims, including Andrew Brown Jr. and Breonna Taylor. Thank so much, Ben, for joining us.
What's your reaction and the Floyd family's reaction to this motion for a new trial?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, Wolf, there's every criminal defendant that is convicted that is going to file an appeal so they don't waive that right. That was fully expected that Chauvin's criminal attorney, Eric Nelson, would file an appeal.
So we expected this and we expect that appeal to be denied.
BLITZER: The motion for a new trial, it doesn't mention any specific incident or a juror by name but a picture has emerged of one juror at the march on Washington last summer wearing a shirt that said, get your knee off our necks. Do you fear that potentially creates a window for Derek Chauvin's defense seeking a new trial?
CRUMP: Well, I'm certain his defense would try to put forth that argument but I'm equally certain that the appellate court will look at the record. They will look at the questions that was not only asked of this juror but all of the jurors, Wolf.
They will also be able to glean that this juror was picked by the defense and the prosecution even though the defense had more strikes left where they could have stricken him. And I believe that after you look at everything, the verdict will stand because the jurors base the verdict on the evidence. There was overwhelming evidence that Derek Chauvin should be convicted for the killing of George Floyd.
And furthermore, I want to say as a constitutional lawyer and a civil rights lawyer, we want Derek Chauvin to get all his rights to appeal and due process because there's far too many criminal defendants in the black community that are denied their due process and appeals rights. So we want every citizen in America to be able to have all their constitutional rights, even Derek Chauvin.
BLITZER: I want to get your quick reaction while I have you to this story. Just two weeks ago, after George Floyd was killed, another man, Rayshard Brooks, was killed by an Atlanta Police officer in a Wendy's parking lot. This was two weeks after George Floyd was killed.
Now, a board has ruled that that officer was wrongfully terminated, that the officer's lawyer says he intends to get his client back to work. So what's your reaction?
CRUMP: My reaction is that it's astonishing that you can be charged with murder but yet be able to keep your job carrying a gun and a badge. And even though it's surprising, we have seen it before in marginalized communities.
Pamela Turner, a black woman killed in Bay Town, Texas, while she was laying on her back, screaming, I'm pregnant, was shot in the face, in the chest and in the stomach, and the officer had been charged for killing her, yet he is still employed by the Bay Town, Texas Police Department.
So we have to continue to try to hold a mirror to America's face and say that we can't have these two justice systems that exist in America, one for white America and another for black America. Because we know if the roles would have been reversed and those would have been white citizens, those officers would not have been allowed to maintain employment.
BLITZER: All right. Ben Crump, as usual, thanks so much for joining us. We'll continue this conversation down the road.
Coming up, we're getting new details right now of an out of control Chinese rocket expected to plunge to Earth within days and we have no idea where it will land.
BLITZER: Republican Elise Stefanik is a rising star in the party, now poised to become the number three leader in the House of Representatives.
Here's CNN's Brian Todd.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Tens of millions of Americans are concerned that the 2020 election featured unconstitutional overreach by unelected state officials.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congresswoman Elise Stefanik was considered a rising Republican star even before she started gathering momentum to replace Liz Cheney as the number three GOP leader in the House.
STEFANIK: I know that my constituents in New York 21 have many concerns about the fact that Hunter Biden, the son of the vice president, sat on the board of a corrupt company like Burisma.
TODD: In late 2019, during then-President Trump's first impeachment proceeding, Stefanik left no doubt that she had arrived with her tenacious questioning of witnesses.
STEFANIK: Any reference to bribery?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, there was none.
STEFANIK: Any reference to quid pro quo?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, there was none.
STEFANIK: Any reference to extortion?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, there was none.
TODD: At those hearings, Stefanik was a bull work for Trump. She questioned the veracity and agendas of witnesses and made it clear to powerful House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff that she wouldn't be intimidated.
STEFANIK: Ambassador Yovanovitch, I want to thank you for being here today.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The gentlewoman will suspend. You're not recognized.
STEFANIK: This is the fifth time you have interrupted members of Congress, duly elected members of Congress --
SCHIFF: Gentlewoman is not recognized, the gentlewoman will suspend.
ANNA PALMER, CO-FOUNDER, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: It's where she aligned herself for the first time very publicly. She defended the president. She really singled herself out by being a vocal supporter of Donald Trump and going after Democrats aggressively.
TODD: At the time Trump tweeted, quote, great going @elisestefanik and on Fox News was effusive about the woman going toe-to-toe with his arch rival Schiff.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know a lot about stardom, I know a lot about it. I've made plenty of them. But I tell you what, this young woman from Upstate New York, she has become a star.
TODD: But analysts say Elise Stefanik was not always considered a Trump Republican. A former staffer for President George W. Bush and former House Speaker Paul Ryan, Stefanik was seen as a moderate when in 2014, she won a House race in upstate New York at age 30, flipping a Democratic seat.
She was endorsed in that campaign by Trump adversary Mitt Romney, who she had also worked for him. In Congress, Stefanik has pushed back against Trump on issues like tax concerned governor shutdowns.
Now, analysts say with her raw ambition, a bigger national profile is certainly possible.
PALMER: If Republicans take the majority in 2022 as most people expect, if she wants to run statewide in New York, is there a potential presidential election in her future? It's really wide open about what's actually she wants to do next. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TODD (on camera): But analysts say, with Elise Stefanik, just like with Kevin McCarthy and other top GOP leaders right now, the because potential tripwire is moving too close to Donald Trump and what might happen if Trump's legal problems realign the Republican Party's leadership.
We reached out to Congresswoman Stefanik's office for comment on our story. They declined to comment -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yeah, she's clearly poised to become the number 3 Republican leader in the House of Representative. Brian Todd, thank you very much.
Up next, an out-of-control rocket on an unpredictable path, raising a lot of fear of potential disaster when it plunges to Earth. We're getting new information right now. Standby.
BLITZER: Right now, we're following an unfolding drama in space, an out-of-control Chinese rocket expended to plunge to Earth within days.
Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is working the story for us.
Jim, the U.S. military is tracking the rocket. What are you learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a rocket the size of a school bus traveling in excess of 15,000 miles an hour in low earth orbit.
It has a whole host of materials as well as other variables the U.S. does not know. So it could track it, but it's not going to know until closer to re-entry exactly where it's going to re-enter, with the crucial question, is it over water? More likely. Or over land, particularly populated areas? Less likely.
This is likely to be an issue of contention between the U.S. and China. The U.S. tends to launch these rockets in multiple stages so there are smaller more likely to burn up in the earth's atmosphere. This one is bigger, that is fundamentally more dangerous.
I will say this, Wolf, the U.S. does have the ability to shoot down objects in space, at least from the surface of the Earth. China and Russia have demonstrated the ability to do the same from space.
But I did ask the Pentagon today, is that adoption that the U.S. is considering at this point as a last resort? They have said, definitively no. But they are tracking this closely. It is a potentially dangerous event, but they won't know until closer to reentry exactly where it's going to come down -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's hope it comes down in the water. And that would be so much better. All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you very much.
Other international news we're following. The top rival to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now has four weeks to form a new government after Netanyahu failed to put together a coalition.
CNN's Hadas Gold is in Jerusalem for us.
So, Hadas, what happens to Netanyahu now that he has failed to form a government?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the mandate, Wolf, is out of his hands. And as you noted, it's been handed to the leader of the centrist party. Yair Lapid is actually a former journalist and his party won the second highest number of votes in the election. Now, Yair Lapid has 28 days to try and prove that he can form a government. He said that we will perform a unity government that brings together small parties from the right, across left, across the political spectrum.
Ironically, though, even though he is the one that has received a mandate to form a government who may not actually be the prime minister even if he succeeds in forming that government, because in order to be able to form the government, he is likely to offer the first shot at being prime minister to leader of a small right-wing party, his name is Naftali Bennett.
His party only won 7 seats in the last election. But as part of this sort of deal to form a unity government, Yair Lapid may offer him the first host of being prime minister. That would be a very unique situation in Israel where that leader of such a small party could become the next prime minister.
But that's the way Israeli politics seems to go nowadays. But if Yair Lapid fails t forming a government in the next 28 days, the Israeli president could send the mandate back to parliament and if that fails, Wolf, Israelis could be heading to an unprecedented fifth election, yes, count them, five elections in two years -- Wolf.
BLITZER: How does it all affect Netanyahu's criminal invest -- he's facing a criminal investigation right now.
GOLD: He is facing a corruption trial right now and I think if he had his way, then he would stay in power as part of a way to help him in that corruption trial. But right now, it's just a wait and see game to see who is, if anybody can form this next government.
That could be potentially, if Yair Lapid is successful in forming this next government, he could potentially be the one, even if he himself is not prime minister, he could be the one that ousted the longest serving prime minister in Israeli history, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But, Wolf, until that happens, until somebody forms the next government or until we have elections, which some analysts actually think that Benjamin wants the fifth election, that's the best option to him on the table right now, especially as he faces this corruption trial, until that happens, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stays exactly where he wants to be, which is in power, as prime minister.
BLITZER: Yeah, and if there is a fifth election, he remains in power and he remains prime minister until that election as well.
CNN's Hadas Gold, working the story, very significant developments in Jerusalem right now. Appreciate it, Hadas. Thank you.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll be back, of course, tomorrow.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.