Return to Transcripts main page
The Situation Room
Police Reform Progress?; Interview With Senior Presidential Adviser Cedric Richmond; "Washington Post:" Grand Jury Convened In Trump Criminal Probe, Expected To Consider Whether To Indict Former President; CDC: Half Of Adults In U.S Now Fully Vaccinated; Louisiana State Police: Senior Officer At Scene Of Ronald Greene's Fatal Arrest Did Not Initially Report Body Cam Footage. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 25, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The Manhattan district attorney's criminal investigation of Donald Trump has reached a critical new stage, with a grand jury reportedly convened.
Tell our viewers what this means potentially for the former president.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf.
Yes, "The Washington Post" reporting tonight that the Manhattan district attorney's office has convened a grand jury. They say that this grand jury will hear evidence and could potentially decide whether or not to indict the former president or the Trump Organization.
Now, this is a significant development in this investigation, which has been under way for two years. And it suggests, based on "The Washington Post" reporting, that the DA has decided they may have some evidence of a crime and it may be something they will want to present to the grand jury.
Now, "The Washington Post" says that this grand jury will sit three days a week for six months, and that they will also hear cases other than the investigation involving the former president and the Trump Organization, so this grand jury also hearing other cases. It's not solely dedicated to the Trump investigation.
Now, it is -- this does, though, suggest that this is a new development in this investigation that's been going on for some time and that the DA's office believes that it may have some evidence that a crime was committed -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What crimes, Kara, potentially could they be looking for?
SCANNELL: Well, Wolf, this investigation has been so wide-ranging.
They're looking into everything from potential tax fraud, whether the Trump Organization has misled lenders, whether they may have committed insurance fraud. They're looking at certain properties and the certain tax treatment that they may taken on those, including this family estate known as Seven Springs.
They are also looking into the hush money payments that was -- that were made to Stormy Daniels, the former -- or the adult film star who had accused -- or alleged that she had an affair with the former president, something that he has denied, but something that Michael Cohen, Trump's former attorney, went to jail for.
And Cohen, of course, is cooperating with the district attorney's investigation, so a wide range of topics that they're investigating. And any of those could be on the table for potential charges -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kara Scannell reporting from New York, thank you very much.
Let's get some more on the breaking story.
Joining us now, Dave Aronberg, the state attorney in Palm Beach County, Florida, along with former federal prosecutor CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates and CNN political director David Chalian.
Dave Aronberg, what's your reaction to, first of all, the breaking news that emerged just moments ago from "The Washington Post"?
DAVE ARONBERG, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA, STATE ATTORNEY: Good evening, Wolf.
I think it tells you that Cyrus Vance Jr., my counterpart in Manhattan, is determined to have this case charged before he leaves office at the end of this year. The grand jury is meeting for a reason. This is not a grand jury to start investigating. They're way beyond that. This investigation has been occurring since 2018.
This grand jury would be to come up with charges. And to come up with charges, you don't need proof beyond any reasonable doubt. You just need a preponderance of the evidence, is it more likely than not, and probable cause. That's all. It's a much lower standard to get probable cause than to get beyond a reasonable doubt.
So, obviously, this spells trouble for Trump and his family. But it's not unexpected. It's just a natural progression for this lengthy investigation.
BLITZER: So, Laura, what does it tell you about the strength of this investigation, the strength potentially of the evidence that's emerging, that a grand jury now has officially, formally been convened?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I didn't waste my time or waste the grand jury's time with just asking them to pontificate or help me figure out what type of charges or what type of evidence they might want to see someday. That's part of it.
But you actually are going to have and convene a grand jury in part to have them allow you to indict somebody. The whole purpose of a grand jury, because you cannot do it on your own as a prosecutor, and so about cases, is to decide whether you can indict formally on felony, very serious charges.
And you need, essentially, the approval of the grand jury to say this can happen at the probable cause level. It's not at the actual trial. But what it is telling you is that they want to have enough information before this grand jury to be able to have this closed universe that will now be used if there is a trial.
Cases are won and lost at the grand jury level all the time, precisely because you're able to not have the confines of the evidentiary rules to a certain extent. You're also able to have an opportunity to test what the grand jurors are thinking about your case. It's a preview to what a jury trial might think about these issues.
But, most importantly, it's the subpoena power. It's the ability to get information, to get evidence brought in, and then to present it and say, here is all that we have. Is it enough? Then you can believe that the prosecutors are more than nudging and being persuasive, not because they would need to be.
But that's the role of this of the prosecutor, is to say, here's all the information before you. Do we have enough for probable cause and likely enough beyond a reasonable doubt?
BLITZER: Yes, those are good points.
David Chalian, clearly, this is not good news for the former president or the United States or good news for the Republican Party. He still is, for all practical purposes, the de facto leader.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Right, certainly an understatement, not welcome news in the Trump camp, no doubt about that.
But take a look at the timing of this and the context of what's happening politically. Just as the former president is issuing statements, just as recently as this week, asserting his grip on the Republican Party, he is still very much -- if you look at all the polling, Wolf, he is the life force inside the Republican Party.
We know what his play is going to be here in response to this. It's going to play the victim. He's going to rally the troops. He's going to be able to raise a ton of money off this. He's going to call it a partisan witch-hunt yet again, as we have seen him do so many times.
But for the Republican Party that is on the precipice of trying to win back power in the House of Representatives next year and maybe the Senate, this will be an unwelcome distraction, because you heard -- when they jettisoned Liz Cheney from leadership, you heard the Republican leader say time and again, we must be about looking forward, not looking back at the 2020 election, not looking back at the January 6 insurrection, not looking back at Trump.
They want to keep his energy and his supporters engaged. But they want to look forward and make the case against Joe Biden. And now, for the next how many months, Donald Trump is going to be front and center and the potential charges against him.
BLITZER: You know, Dave Aronberg, what does this mean potentially? Could we expect formal charges against the former president or his associates, for that matter? And if the answer is yes, how soon?
ARONBERG: It's hard to say how soon, Wolf, although I think you would see the charges by the end of this year, because that's when Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan DA, is leaving office.
He clearly doesn't want to leave this decision to his successor. He also doesn't want to have this decision made in his last week or last month of office. So, I think that it's going to happen sometime this summer.
Now, this grand jury is supposed to last for six months, so we don't know when they're going to come out with their decision. But keep in mind that this investigation started in 2018. And Cyrus Vance Jr. went to the U.S. Supreme Court twice to chase down Trump's taxes. Now they have got Trump's taxes.
To me, the only question is, will Allen Weisselberg be called to testify before the grand jury? Because they want someone to narrate the story. There's a lot of complex documents on finances here. And they want a storyteller, and that would be the CFO of the Trump Organization.
BLITZER: Yes, the chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.
He has been the chief financial officer, what, 30 or 40 years of the Trump Organization. He apparently knows everything that was going on there.
Laura, there are some signs that the New York state attorney general, the Manhattan district attorney, they are both actually coordinating their investigations into former President Trump. What does that say to you about the potential scope of all of this?
COATES: Well, it's quite rare for these two offices to overlap in this way and intersect, but the idea here, you have got such an overlap and intersection of the underlying facts in this case.
So, the idea of having the statute of limitations clock potentially being able to run out -- remember, as my colleague was speaking about, the idea here that you had to delay this whole experience because of the Supreme Court cases back and forth, that it prolonged it, perhaps, not unnecessarily -- it's important to get that resolved -- but it prolonged in such a way that you're now up against that only Cy Vance's potential retirement from office, but also the idea of limitations period.
And so not wanting to duplicate efforts shows you that both of them has something to gain from the other. I may have had a deposition here. You may have had an interview in this area. You may have documents that I need. Why reinvent the wheel?
So, combining forces in this way shows you that there is a common set of facts that are at play here, the idea of the manipulation of potentially the assets that you have to either inflate or deflate, depending upon what gain you would like to have, or tax benefit, the idea, as Kara was speaking about earlier, the implications for individual states, or even based on the statements we remember the former fixer and attorney Michael Cohen speaking about, the idea when he testified on the Hill as well.
All about this is -- all this is part of that same package. So, you're seeing a wide-scoping and wide-covering prosecution investigation, but you're also seeing the inability to be able to drag this out much longer or have a protracted litigation because of that clock.
BLITZER: Give us, David Chalian, the big political picture right now.
Where does this potential bombshell, a grand jury now formally convened to investigate, to take a look at the potential charges against Trump, where does this fit into the bigger political picture as far as the Republicans are concerned?
CHALIAN: Well, we know that Donald Trump, he has said he's on the precipice of relaunching his rallies, right, and going out in public to make the case for Republicans of his choosing, ones that support his agenda, support his power inside the Republican Party.
We have seen for months since Donald Trump has left office that the Republican Party is trying to still figure out what it is in the post- Trump era. It is so dependent upon Trump supporters that, I mean, you're talking about the huge swathe of the Republican Party aligned with Trump, whether it's about the big lie in the 2020 election, or about removing Liz Cheney from leadership.
This is a party that is made in Donald Trump's mold right now. And yet they're trying to figure out, how do we then go beyond Trump into the future to try and win back the House, the Senate, the 2024 presidential campaign?
So, taking the past and all of Donald Trump's controversies and making that front and center again is not going to be a welcome development.
I also think there's just also, historically, for the presidency, right, to see a former president potentially have criminal trial charges brought against them, this is -- this is a whole new phase of what a post-presidential life could be like. Not surprising to say that about Donald Trump. He didn't really fit any of the norms during his presidency.
And it looks like he's not going to fit many of the norms, potentially, in his post-presidency either.
BLITZER: And, Dave Aronberg, if you're the former president right now, how worried should you be?
ARONBERG: Well, I think you have got to be very worried. And now you're in Bedminster, in New Jersey, where the governor is a
Democrat. So there's no attempt to try to stop the extradition, like there could be in Florida. Mind you, the governor is not allowed to stop the extradition. But if it happens while he's at Mar-a-Lago, the governor could try to delay it.
But the former president has to be worried about this, because things are really getting real. And even though he is -- the former president has control over his party, they're not going to be able to stop an independent district attorney.
And that's another thing, Wolf, that's what's so great about this job as being a district attorney, the governor is not your boss, the attorney general is not your boss, and the U.S. attorney general and president, they're not your boss.
We're all independently elected. And we can make decisions for ourselves.
BLITZER: Governor DeSantis give Trump any level -- could he potentially give Trump any level of protection if Trump were to go back to Mar-a-Lago, where you are, in Palm Beach?
ARONBERG: There is buzz that Governor DeSantis would try to delay matters. There is an obscure statute on the books in Florida that allows the governor to send it to a prosecutor to investigate the extradition.
But that statute cannot override the U.S. Constitution or federal law to stop the extradition. So, DeSantis can do DeSantis things and try to rally the MAGA base. But, in the end, if Trump is indicted by New York, the state of Florida is going to allow New York to extradite.
BLITZER: Major development unfolding right now. It's going to keep us busy for the next several weeks and potentially months. We will see what happens.
Dave Aronberg, Laura Coates, David Chalian, guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, we're going to take you inside President Biden's meeting with members of George Floyd's family one year after his murder in Minneapolis.
One of the Floyd family lead lawyers, Chris Stewart, he is standing by live.
We will discuss.
BLITZER: Once again, we're following the breaking news, "The Washington Post" reporting that a grand jury has now been officially convened in the criminal investigation of former President Donald Trump.
We're going to have much more of that coming up.
Also, we're following the push for police reform exactly one year after the murder of George Floyd.
Let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. She's watching all of this stuff for us.
Kaitlan. President Biden met with George Floyd's family just a little while ago. What are you learning?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the president says that meeting lasted for over an hour.
And, afterward, he is renewing his calls to have police reform passed on Capitol Hill. Of course, we know it has stalled so far as those negotiations have gone on between senators.
But, for their part, after that meeting, Wolf, the family said that not only did the president want to mark the anniversary of George Floyd's death; he also wanted to check in on them.
COLLINS (voice-over): It was an emotional sit-down at the White House today.
GIANNA FLOYD, DAUGHTER OF GEORGE FLOYD: Say his name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALES AND FEMALE: George Floyd.
COLLINS: One year after George Floyd was killed at the hands of Minneapolis police, President Biden welcomed his family into the Oval Office.
PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: It was great. He's a genuine guy.
COLLINS: Biden met with Floyd's siblings, daughter and the family's attorney without any cameras.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He wants that to be a private discussion. He has a close relationship with them.
COLLINS: After the meeting, Floyd's brother Philonise called for action.
P. FLOYD: If you can make federal laws to protect the bird which is the bald eagle, you can make federal laws to protect people of color.
COLLINS: The Floyd family also met with lawmakers as Congress missed a deadline Biden set to pass a police reform bill in Floyd's name.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's get it done next month by the first anniversary of George Floyd's death. COLLINS: Standing with the Floyd family today, Congresswoman Karen Bass, who authored the bill, renewed her commitment to passing it.
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): We will get this bill on President Biden's desk. We will work until we get the job done.
COLLINS: But Democrats need Republican support to pass the bill. And the two sides remain divided over how to handle the legal shield for officers known as qualified immunity.
Senator Lindsey Graham telling CNN: "We have a couple issues we are going to deal with, but there seems to be a desire to get to yes."
The White House voiced optimism about passing a bill without setting any new deadlines.
PSAKI: I'm not here to put a new timeline on it.
COLLINS: Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said President Biden agreed that any legislation bearing Floyd's name must be significant.
BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD: He said that he doesn't want to sign a bill that doesn't have substance and meaning. So he is going to be patient to make sure it's the right bill, not a rushed bill.
COLLINS: And, Wolf, after that meeting at the White House, Ben Crump, the family attorney, and the family went up to Capitol Hill to actually meet with the lawmakers who are in the middle of these negotiations over what any police reform bill should look like.
For his part, President Biden said he is hoping that they can come to an agreement after Memorial Day, so pushing that deadline from today until after this holiday weekend.
But when he was asked if he would sign a bill that did not end qualified immunity -- of course, that has been that sticking point between Democrats and Republicans -- Wolf, he said he wasn't going to negotiate in public.
BLITZER: All right, Kaitlan, thank you very much, Kaitlan Collins reporting from the White House.
Joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the co-lead counsel for George Floyd's family, Chris Stewart. He was with him at the White House and also up on Capitol Hill today.
Chris, thank you very much for joining us.
I know it was a private meeting, but what can you tell us? How did it go? L. CHRIS STEWART, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD: Today really
embraced what Gianna Floyd said when this first happened, that "My daddy..."
BLITZER: George Floyd's little girl.
STEWART: Yes, that "My daddy's going to change the world."
These meetings that we had today, left and right, never would have happened in history before. But they happened today.
BLITZER: How's the family doing right now looking back on this year?
STEWART: They're embracing change. I mean, they were just included in some of the most powerful meetings on civil rights to get their input. They were in meetings with Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham talking, giving their ideas, talking how it...
STEWART: Yes, how it affected them today. We just left the meeting.
BLITZER: You were there too, right?
BLITZER: Tell us about that meeting. Is there going to be a deal? Are they going to work it out? Because there's a lot of optimistic talk, but until it's a done deal, it's not done, obviously.
STEWART: There is.
The thing I can tell you from talking to Pelosi today, to Representative Bass, to Tim Scott, to Lindsey Graham, everyone wants a bill passed. And the sticking points that they're fighting over now, I think they're getting to a point where they can be resolved.
And, look, I know everyone's fighting about qualified immunity. But we have to also make sure we care about the provisions that stop black people from being killed in this bill before fighting over how to sue a cop.
BLITZER: So you think -- you personally think, based on what you heard from the Democrats and the Republicans, what you heard at the White House, you believe there will be this bill?
STEWART: I think that the bill is going to get done.
BLITZER: And it will be passed?
STEWART: It has to be passed. And both sides know that.
The one thing that both side knows, it has to get passed, because not only are you protecting African-Americans that are being brutalized out there, but you are protecting good officers that are out there doing their job. The bill protects everybody. BLITZER: What is the -- looking back on this year, what does the
family see as the most important thing that needs to be done right now to try to learn from this experience and make sure it doesn't happen again?
STEWART: The devil is in the details, especially with this bill.
Look at how George Floyd was killed. Derek Chauvin was teaching other officers how to brutalize people. He had done it before. With this bill, you will be able to track officers that go from department to department to department, taking advantage of people, breaking the law, brutalizing people.
You would have a federal monitoring system. You would have bias protections against racial profiling. All of these things led to George Floyd's death. And they're in that bill. So, it's important.
BLITZER: The family announced a new fund today in Minneapolis. They got millions of dollars because of the murder of George Floyd. But tell us about this fund. What is the goal?
STEWART: Going back to the community.
That area was hit hard from the protests, from everything that happened with George Floyd. And we have the idea with the family about reinvesting in that area. The problem that happens nationwide is, a lot of areas, especially minority areas, are underfunded.
And they're not fixed up. They're not left in the same condition as their counterpart across town. That needs to change.
BLITZER: So, looking ahead, what do you see happening in the next few weeks, months?
STEWART: Keep these discussions going. People are having powerful discussions that people were ashamed of or scared of having before about policing. They thought, if you stand up for civil rights, you're against policing.
No. Stop the rhetoric, let's fix this, and end all of the chaos that's been happening.
BLITZER: That would be good if that happens.
Chris Stewart, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for all you do.
STEWART: Any time.
BLITZER: Good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
All right, let's stay on top of this story.
Joining us right now, Cedric Richmond. He's the senior adviser to President Biden, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Thanks so much for joining us, Congressman. You're a former congressman. So I still call your congressman.
Did President Biden give the Floyd family a firm commitment today that he will get police reform over the finish line?
CEDRIC RICHMOND, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, first, Wolf, I will just tell you that it was just the president, the vice president, and the Floyd family in the room. We were not in the room. The attorneys were not in the room.
It was the president expressing his support for meaningful legislation that bears the name of George Floyd and that we really have to look at policing in an honest manner, make sure that there's transparency and accountability there. And that was the sentiment to the family.
But it was also to check on the family. He knows firsthand that it's been a rough year, and having to watch it play out on TV over and over again and since the trial. He wanted to check in and see how they were doing.
BLITZER: Tell us exactly, if you can, what he's doing, the president is doing, to try to make it happen that there will be this police reform legislation signed into law?
RICHMOND: Well, we're doing everything we can.
And right now, you have House negotiators dealing with Senator Scott and Senator Booker, along with Representative Karen Bass, who are going over the details. So we're trying to get to draft language, so that they can compare.
And the hard part of it is the actual making of legislation. But we supported the bill when it came out of the House. And now that it's in the Senate, we are just as supportive of it. And we will offer any advice or technical assistance that is being asked of us.
But we are very hopeful and optimistic because the negotiations seemed to be genuine and substantive right now.
BLITZER: Yes, you're optimistic. Chris Stewart, the lawyer, he was pretty optimistic as well. And he met with some of the key players up on Capitol Hill.
As you know, Congress missed the deadline that President Biden had imposed to pass police reform, that deadline having been today, the anniversary of George Floyd's death. But there seems to be, as you correctly point out, what I'm hearing, everyone seems to be hearing, some serious momentum in these talks.
Is there a realistic timeline?
RICHMOND: No, and it's more important to have meaningful legislation than to meet a deadline or a timeline.
And I think that that came out today in the conversation with the family, that the president wanted something that was right, not necessarily rushed. And so the family supports that. The family is doing their part. They're here meeting with us. They're on the Hill meeting with representatives and senators of both parties to talk about the need for reform.
And they are thinking about the next generation. They're thinking about people they have not met, nor will ever see. But they want to change policing in this country to make it constitutional and to make it safe. And that's part of what the president really admires about this family, not only what they went through, but how they are just putting their effort towards making this country live up to its creed.
And so we are supportive of that. We're going to keep doing everything we can. And we're going to keep working until it actually gets done.
BLITZER: Is qualified immunity, what's called qualified immunity for police officers, the sole issue holding up an agreement right now, Congressman, based on what you know?
Because, if that's the case, there are some suggesting maybe deal with that separately. In the meantime, get everything passed into law.
RICHMOND: Well, I think the negotiations are going on behind the scenes. And I think that's where they should stay.
And all I know is that I have been assured from Senator Booker, from Representative Bass and Senator Scott that they want to get to a yes. We heard Lindsey Graham say that. And I think we have to give them the space and the support to get that done, because this is important. This is a matter of life and death, and too many people are dying.
And we should come together and unify around this. And that's one of the calls that the family also had today is, the country should unify and get this done.
BLITZER: If there is an agreement, Congressman, do you trust Republican leaders not to pull the rug out from under Republican negotiator Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, like the way that -- what they did as far as the January 6 commission?
RICHMOND: Well, we would hope not.
But that's part of why we want a bipartisan bill that is supported by most Americans in this country. This country should be united behind police reform. This is not anti-police. This is just pro-people, pro- policing. This is about constitutional policing in the United States of America, and that African-Americans and other minorities should not be fearful of interactions with the police, and they should leave those interactions alive and able to go home to their families.
And we think that that is a message that the entire country can get behind. And if the entire country is behind it, like we think they are, then we can make sure we pass this on a bipartisan basis and hurry up and get this done, so that we can move this country forward and protect human life.
BLITZER: Yes, it's so, so important.
Another critically important issue, the stalled infrastructure talks, and you're all over that as well. We know that Republican senators now say President Biden would come down to a $1 trillion price tag. Originally, it was, what, $2.2 trillion, brought down to $1.8 trillion. Now they say a maybe $1 trillion price tag.
If President Biden compromises on the top-line number, does he expect Republicans to compromise on how to pay for it?
RICHMOND: Well, we haven't seen any proposals yet on how to pay for it.
And we're interested in seeing that. We put up a proposal to pay for it because we think it should be paid for. And we think that the corporations in America that benefit from the infrastructure investments we're going to make, we think the top one -- top third of the top 1 percent also should pay their fair share, because what we can't do is put this on the backs of the middle class that have been working and struggling and breaking their backs to keep this country afloat all these years.
And so here's where we are. The president came down $550billion, the Republicans went up $50 billion. Where does that happen in a negotiation? So we're waiting, we're eagerly awaiting a response from the Republicans with a new proposal, how to pay for it, what's their number, because this issue is too important.
And what the president has said that his only bottom line is, is that he won't raise taxes on people who make less than $400,000 a year and inaction is not an option on infrastructure because it is crucial to making sure that we can compete in the future and that we can win the future. And investing in infrastructure and American families and people is what's necessary right now. And we expect people to come together and do it.
BLITZER: Cedric Richmond is the Senior Adviser to President Biden. Thanks so much for joining us.
RICHMOND: Thank you for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to have more on the breaking news right now. The Washington Post reporting that the Manhattan district attorney has convened a grand jury that's expected to consider whether to indict, yes, whether to indict former President Trump as part of the criminal probe of his business.
Let's go to our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles, who's working this story also. What are you picking up on Capitol Hill, Ryan?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this story is just breaking right now, Wolf, so not a lot of senators having the time to digest this news of The Washington Post reporting about a grand jury potentially being empanelled to look into criminal conduct from former President Trump.
But I did get a chance to catch up with Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, who is, of course, a big critic of the former president. And he said that he is glad that the grand jury is taking this step, because it allows this process to be taken out of the hands of politicians. He said that he trusts the judicial system in Manhattan and New York State.
He said, quote, I have trust in their credibility, he said, because I think that they want whatever result to have a lot of trust and credibility. So they're going to be very careful and cautious in their judgments.
And, of course, the former president still looms large over everything that happens here on Capitol Hill. And some of his closest supporters remain very powerful and loud voices, particularly in the House of Representatives. And one of them, of course, is Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.
And for the first time, Republican leaders are actually speaking out about the remarks that she made related to the holocaust and the mask mandates in the House of Representatives.
NOBLES (voice over): After five days of silence, Republican leaders finally stepping up and condemning Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene's comments comparing the Holocaust to mask mandates.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): One of the frequent outbursts that is absolutely outrageous and reprehensible.
NOBLES: On the House side, Kevin McCarthy calling her comments appalling and saying the conference condemns this language.
Republican Whip Steve Scalise saying that he condemns these comparisons to the Holocaust. After repeated requests for comments from CNN, the leaders are finally responding, but also couching their criticism by attempting to accuse Pelosi and Democrats of not doing enough to call out anti-Semitism.
Still, the delayed rebuke from GOP leadership causing an avalanche of criticism from rank and file Republicans. Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw tweeting, remember when we all criticized AOC for comparing detention centers to concentration camps, because it was so stupid and insulting to Holocaust survivors? You're doing the same thing. Just stop.
Greene, meanwhile, not backing down, repeating her comparison more forcefully in a tweet Tuesday morning saying, quote, vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.
But while the condemnation is piling up, the question is will action follow? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is the target of Greene's comments, stopped short of calling her to be censured or expelled. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's so beyond reprehensible that it's -- I mean it has no place in our country.
NOBLES: Do you think she should be expelled or censured because of it, Madam?
PELOSI: I think that she should stop talking.
NOBLES: Pelosi's office calling out McCarthy for enabling Greene, saying, quote, leader McCarthy's silence has spoken volumes about his allegiance to the most extreme elements of the GOP conference. McCarthy and the GOP even getting heat from major GOP donors.
Longtime Trump supporter and McCarthy ally Jeff Miller, who's raised millions for the party, calling Greene out. WTF is wrong with you, he tweeted. I think you need to pay a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Museum. And Republican Adam Kinzinger saying it's time for McCarthy to boot green from the conference.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think we should kick her out of the conference, prevent her from, you know come into conference meetings, benefitting from conference materials. And I'm not sure that will happen, but it's just going to continue this kind of stuff.
It's just mind-numbing.
NOBLES (on camera): Meanwhile, the heated rhetoric between Republicans and Democrats still tracking back to what happened here on January 6th in the insurrection that has still left big scars on this building and on this campus.
And the former president now defending himself in court, a lawsuit having to do with the insurrection, the former president's lawyers claiming that the former president has what they call absolute immunity under the first amendment to say basically whatever he wanted during that timeframe, to even claim that the election was stolen from him fraudulently because he was protected under the First Amendment. This is the first time, Wolf, that his lawyers have made that type of argument as it relates the events of January 6th. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Ryan, thank you very much. Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill.
Let's discuss with CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel and CNN Political Commentator Mia Love, a former Republican congresswoman.
You know, Jamie, you know a lot about what's going on inside the GOP right now. Trump, for all practical purposes, is still the de facto leader right now of the GOP. Cyrus Vance, the breaking news, the Manhattan district attorney, formally convening a grand jury to investigate potential criminal charges against Trump. How is this playing? JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: This is terrible news for Donald Trump and it's certainly not good news for the Republican Party. One of the things that we're hearing about this is that it is an expansive grand jury, that it's going to go on for more than six months, that they're looking into his business practices before he was president, possible bank fraud, taxes, compensation for executives. That caught my eye because who are some of the executives? Allen Weisselberg, the accountant --
BLITZER: The chief financial officer.
GANGEL: The chief financial officer. His children are executives of the company.
I actually just reached out to Michael Cohen, his former lawyer, who always has something to say, Wolf. And I asked him about it and he said, quote, unable to discuss at this time. Maybe he doesn't know anything, maybe he's going to be called for that grand jury.
BLITZER: I suspect he probably has been called several times in relation to this.
You know, Mia, what's your reaction? Can the former president be the effective kingmaker in the Republican Party if he's facing potentially criminal indictment?
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it depends on the GOP. If the GOP continues to talk about President Trump, to continue to use President Trump to help them in elections, to continue to talk about his style and his way of policy, yes, it's going to hurt.
But I see this, Wolf, as an opportunity for the GOP to say you've got a lot to deal with. We don't want to be in the middle of it. You should take care of that and let us do what we need to do. Let us start turning the page and getting away from the former president and start talking about the future.
Now, Kevin McCarthy said he wanted to do that. And I think that this is the perfect opportunity for him to say, you've got your own issues, we've got some --we've got our own work to do.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, let's see if that happens.
Jamie let's get to this other issue, the explosive, awful, disgusting comments by this Republican congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene. It has now been five days since she began, then she doubled down, tripled down, quadrupled down, but five days later, the Republican leadership finally, finally condemning her.
GANGEL: My Republican sources have been furious at Kevin McCarthy. And they say this is really too little too late. I spoke to both House members and GOP donors. I'm told they were increasingly embarrassed, that they were reaching out to Kevin to finally say something and he did.
Just to quote one, I asked, do you think this will go further, do you think that he will finally expel her from the conference? And one source said, Kevin should do it, but I doubt he will. A second source said Donald Trump likes her, Marjorie Taylor Greene, he supports her, and Kevin doesn't want to upset Donald Trump.
BLITZER: And, Mia, why did it take five days to do the right thing? Five days?
LOVE: Well, of course, this is what I honestly believe happened. In conference, there was a showdown where they said, if you can do this, if you can get rid of Liz Cheney, you better do something about Marjorie Taylor Greene. To sit there and actually compare wearing masks to the killing of so many people, so many Jewish people, is absolutely absurd. So, finally, he did the right thing.
BLITZER: Yes. Finally, finally that's the keyword. All right guys, thank you very much.
Up next, with half of all adults here in the United States now fully vaccinated, how close can we get to 100 percent?
We're going to break down the challenges when we come back.
BLITZER: Tonight, the United States has crossed a new milestone. Half of all adults here in the United States are now fully vaccinated.
Let's bring in CNN Medical Analyst, the emergency room physician, Dr. Leana Wen, she's the former Baltimore City health commissioner as well. Dr. Wen, thank you so much for joining us.
How significant is this milestone and what challenges lie ahead as officials work to convince more adults to get vaccinated?
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It's a huge milestone, Wolf. It's no surprise that and no coincidence that we also have a decrease in the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. I think the work ahead of us is going to be really challenging, because while the people who are fully vaccinated are well protected, we still have to keep on convincing individuals who are not yet vaccinated that they are not safe. The pandemic is not over for them.
Actually, a "Washington Post" analysis this weekend found that when you take out the people who are vaccinated, the risk to people who are unvaccinated looks about the same as in the middle of the surge in January. So for those individuals, I hope they will take heed and get vaccinated as soon as possible and in the meantime to keep on masking and distancing and practicing these safety precautions, because they are still at high risk of getting infected.
BLITZER: Another significant development, Moderna now says its vaccine is safe and appears to be effective for children ages 12 to 17. Will the addition of a second authorized vaccine for this age group help combat hesitancy?
WEN: I think it does provide more reassurance. We have increasing data now of more than 3,000 adolescents studied in the Moderna child that these vaccines are safe and they are effective. I also think as teens get vaccinated, they're going to start showing selfies and videos.
I hope they'll do even more of things like that in order to convince their peers about how vaccination for them is a way to get back to pre-pandemic normal and to engage in sports and do sleepovers and birthdays and other things that they may have really missed.
BLITZER: A new "Axios" poll shows only 30 percent of people trust people outside their close circle to be honest about their vaccination status. Look at these numbers, look at this, only 24 percent said they trust travelers at airports to truthfully report whether they are vaccinated, and just 25 percent trust fellow Americans at restaurants, bars, sporting events, concerns. What's the solution, Dr. Wen, to this flaw in the honor system?
WEN: Well, frankly, I agree with the Americans who say they don't trust the others around them, because we have 50 percent of people who are fully vaccinated of adults who are fully vaccinated, so if you're in a sporting event or a restaurant and no one around you is wearing masks, I don't trust all those people are vaccinated. I really wish that the Biden administration had come out much earlier with a way for us to verify vaccination. And I think that at this point we should expect the private sector to really step up and do this.
I would feel a lot more comfortable getting on a plane and be willing to pay more for a flight where everybody is fully vaccinated. I think a lot of people would feel more comfortable going back to the gym or their workplace if they're going to be shoulder to shoulder with people who are unvaccinated and potentially unmasked if there is some kind of proof of vaccination. So, I think that's what is in store for us going forward.
BLITZER: That's an important point. Dr. Wen as usual, thank you very, very much.
Coming up, new developments right now stemming from body cam video showing troopers brutalizing an African-American man who later died. We're getting new information. We'll share it with you when we come back.
BLITZER: We're following key new developments tonight in the investigation into the police custody death of Ronald Greene.
CNN's Brian Todd has details.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, there is growing pressure on the new superintendent at the Louisiana state police to bring justice in the case of the brutal beating of motorist Ronald Greene.
COL. LAMAR DAVIS, SUPERINTENDENT, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE: You have my commitment that we will follow the facts and hold our personnel accountable.
TODD: But simply firing the officers involved, if that happens, might not satisfy Ronald Greene's family.
MONA HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S MOTHER: Somebody needs to go to jail for this, this is murder. This is what happened to my son, Ronnie.
TODD: But so far, no one has been charged in relation to Ronald Greene's death. Meanwhile, the man heard on body camera footage praising the officers who had beaten Greene during his traffic stop is the focus of additional allegations of a cover-up on the part of the Louisiana state police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all did a good job, you all called it out, did a good job.
TODD: That senior officer, Lieutenant John Cleary who arrived on the scene when Greene was still detained, did not initially report his own body camera footage in evidence submitted to the local district attorney. That's according to a spokesperson for the Louisiana State Police.
ANTHONY BARKSDALE, FORMER ACTING BALTIMORE POLICE COMMISSIONER: This is very disturbing. But it really validates that this is a cover-up. How is that missed after so long by the higher executives in that department?
TODD: It is not clear why Lieutenant Cleary praised the other officers at the scene, or what he knew about the incident at the time. A Louisiana state police captain tells CNN, Lieutenant Cleary who arrived after other officers used physical force to detain Greene during the 2019 incident had three body camera videos, showing troopers still holding Greene to the ground, showing Greene moaning and depicting officers explaining why they didn't sit Ronald Greene upright.
POLICE OFFICER: I was going to sit him up, but I didn't want him spitting spreading all over us.
TODD: Greene died on the way to the hospital after being punched, kicked, tased and restraint on the ground, despite video showing him appearing to be compliant with officers.
RONALD GREENE, VICTIM: I'm scared! I'm your brother, I'm scared!
TODD: The Louisiana state police captain said they are conducting internal reviews to determine why Lieutenant Cleary did not initially report his videos.
[18:55:07] Cleary is also accused by an attorney for Greene's family of lying about another aspect of that incident.
LEE MERRITT, GREENE FAMILY ATTORNEY: He alleged that when he arrived that Ronald was still aggressively resisting arrest. That additional force was necessary in order to get him under control. But what you find in his actual body cam footage was that Ronald was already in handcuffs, he was hog-tied, but he was in feet shackles, that he was fully compliant.
TODD (on camera): CNN has reached out but has not been able to get comment from Lieutenant John Cleary or his attorney. We've also not been able to get comment from two of the other surviving officers involved in the case or their attorneys -- Wolf.
BLITZER: CNN's Brian Todd, thank you very much.
More news right after this.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.