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The Situation Room

Biden Warns Democracy Itself Is In Peril While Honoring Fallen Service Members On Memorial Day; Democrats Try To Block Texas Voting Restrictions; Interview With Miami-Dade County, Florida, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava; Millions Of Americans Celebrate First Mask-Less Holiday In More Than A Year; Former National Security Adviser Flynn Tells QAnon Followers A Coup Like The One In Myanmar "Should Happen Here"; Israeli Opposition On The Verge Of Ousting PM Netanyahu After 12 Years In Power. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 31, 2021 - 18:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: First, let's go straight to CNN's Leyla Santiago in Miami.

Leyla, good to see you.

The manhunt is under way right now,. And, tonight, the reward for information leading to the suspects is growing. Tell us about that.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, we are seeing the reward now up to $130,000.

And this comes as a new development now. In just the last few hours, police have actually found that suspect vehicle that we have seen in that video. It was submerged in a canal. And this also is happening as family members are coming here to the hospital, hoping to hear that their loved ones will be OK.


SANTIAGO (voice-over): It took just seconds to change lives forever, three individuals seen jumping out of an SUV with assault rifles and handguns before opening fire into a crowded banquet hall near Hialeah, Florida, just after midnight Sunday.

The three get back into their car and take off less than 10 seconds later.

MAJ. JORGE AGUIAR, MIAMI-DADE, FLORIDA, POLICE HOMICIDE BUREAU: We have a total of 23 people were shot. Two were deceased on scene. Three are critically injured in the hospital today, clinging to life.

SANTIAGO: All three of the shooters still at large.

DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MAYOR OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: We need your help. We need information. We need you to come forward if you have information to help us solve these crimes. SANTIAGO: This afternoon, Miami-Dade police found the SUV they say the

suspects were driving Sunday morning. It was submerged in the Biscayne Canal approximately nine miles from where the shooting occurred. The vehicle was reported stolen on May 15.


SANTIAGO: High emotions for those left behind.

CLAYTON DILLARD JR., FATHER OF VICTIM: You all killed my kid. You must burn!

SANTIAGO: Clayton Dillard Jr. lost his son, Clayton Dillard III, in that shooting.

RAMIREZ: That is the pain that affects our community right there right before you.

MARCUS LEMONIS, CEO, CAMPING WORLD: I just want to try to do my part.

SANTIAGO: Miami community leader, TV host and Camping World CEO has Marcus Lemonis has pledged $100,000 reward for anyone who helps lead to the arrest of those responsible.

Separately, Crime Stoppers and the Miami ATF are offering a $30,000 reward.

LEVINE CAVA: We will bring all those responsible for these heinous crimes to justice, and we will work together to break this cycle of violence.

SANTIAGO: Miami-Dade County determined to get this cycle of gun violence in their city under control.

MORRIS COPELAND, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY CHIEF COMMUNITY SERVICES OFFICER: We're investing in our young people, particularly those that have been disinvested in and disenfranchised from the process, left behind. None of them are born with AK-47s in their hands. None of them are born killers.


SANTIAGO: And investigators say that there was some sort of rivalry between two groups. That's what this all stemmed from, even confirmed that there was a back-and-forth, some sort of back-and-forth on social media that's playing a factor here -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, CNN's Leyla Santiago.

Such a terrible story down there in Miami. Thanks so much.

Let's get more now with the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava.

Mayor, thanks so much for being with us. First, we have just learned the SUV connected to the shooting has been

found. It was submerged in a canal. How big of a step forward is this in the investigation you're looking at? Our viewers can see this video right now, just stunning video to see here.


ACOSTA: They ditched this vehicle, it looks like, after this occurred.

LEVINE CAVA: You know, Jim and Leyla, thank you for covering this.

And it is really extraordinary that we have this really clear video with the car, with the three assailants, with the license plate. They were able to trace it. And they're on the case.

Our police and the county are working with the federal agents, with the municipal agents, state agents. They're sharing information. And I am very, very hopeful that, combined with the reward and our outreach to all of those who were at this event, reaching out to them across the many hospitals where the victims are getting treatment.

It's huge.

ACOSTA: Yes, there's the SUV. There's this disturbing news surveillance video showing the gunmen. And there's a total of $130,000 in reward money for tips.

You made an impassioned plea for information from the community. Has there been any leads coming out of this at this point?

LEVINE CAVA: I understand that there are lots of leads.

I have spoken to Crime Stopper. And they are getting calls. I can't tell you which of these leads is going to bear fruit, but people are calling. We have very high trust in our community with our law enforcement agency. And that is working to our benefit. People are coming forward.

ACOSTA: That's good news. And you're seeing video there of the SUV being hauled away. Just incredible.

Police say this stemmed from an ongoing rivalry between two groups and that an intended target was actually standing outside the venue. What's the context here, that the shooters would fire indiscriminately into a crowd?


I mean, it sounds as though they were targeting one individual, but they were just spraying bullets everywhere to try to get this person.

LEVINE CAVA: And not only that. They were not there very long. So they came out with their automatic weapons, and they sprayed their gunfire.

So, we are so fortunate, horrible to say, that we have not lost more lives, because this was deadly, it was targeted, but yet it was indiscriminate at the same time across this crowd.

ACOSTA: Right.

And you say the pandemic has exacerbated the issue of gun violence in your community.


ACOSTA: What do you need now from state and federal leaders to address this crisis, members of Congress, the White House, and so on?

Gun violence has just not been dealt with as an issue in this country. What would you say to those leaders right now?


Look, we have a lot of good technology. And we need to invest in it. We're going to be putting money into analysts and more state attorneys on scene to be able to expeditiously handle these cases, more cameras. But we have to invest in prevention.

We know, especially for young people who may not feel they have a future, that they are callous when it comes to these acts. And we know that, if we can intervene and create a pathway for them, which we're going to be doing through our Peace and Prosperity program, that we can help them steer away from a life of crime.

ACOSTA: Well, it's an excellent goal. And we hope you can achieve it.

Mayor of Miami-Dade County Daniella Levine Cava, thanks so much for joining us. Good talking to you. And sorry for the circumstances that we're speaking under right now, but appreciate your insights there. Thank you so much.

LEVINE CAVA: Thank you, Jim. Thank you.

ACOSTA: And joining us now, CNN senior law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey and CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd, Phil Mudd, who's with me here right now in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Phil, when you watch this new surveillance video, it's really incredible how brazen this attack was, one driver, all on the loose. Police apparently have tracked down the car. But what do you make when you see this very clear surveillance video of these suspects showing up, doing what they did, and taking off so quickly?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: What you said brazen. I think I would say not so smart.

Think of the incidences where they're going to interact with individuals and data. First, the simple question. They clearly were evidently targeting people at the site. So you look on social media, you do interviews at the site and say, who hated whom here? And let's go find the people who hated the other people.

The other thing, though, is pretty basic. And that is my old world, data. I got the license plate, since you pulled the car out. I have got the registration number of the vehicle. You might have license plate readers along the site, if you know where it went in the canal.

Are there, for example, toll roads along the way where you can find where the car went? So, the likelihood these individuals didn't interact with a person or some sort of digital media that would allow them to be picked up in the coming days, I'd say brazen, maybe. Not so smart in my world.


It does make me wonder, though, Chief Ramsey, if the car using this attack was stolen, and that's maybe why they were so brazen in this manner. It's now been recovered. Police are calling for tips from the public. There's a big reward out there.

What sort of information do you think would be helpful for authorities who are sifting through all of this data right now, as Phil was talking about?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, my understanding is, the car was stolen, which isn't a surprise.

When I saw the video, and you can see the license plates.

ACOSTA: Right.

RAMSEY: That's one of the first things I thought. It was probably a hot car.

And Phil is right. I mean, they're going to backtrack a lot of things in terms of the social media, looking to see who was sending messages back and forth and so forth. They will eventually catch up with these guys, if the people who they were shooting at don't get them first, I mean, the code of the streets. They don't need probable cause to take action.

And what the department right now is probably very concerned about is retaliation, because that usually follows something like this. My understanding is that some people in the crowd actually returned fire once they were fired upon, which, again, tells you that you have got two armed groups going at each other.

And so I wouldn't be surprised if there's some retaliation. From my experience, the period of time right around the funeral is when you have got to pay particular attention. That's when emotions are the highest and retaliation is likely to occur.

But, right now, I'm sure they're very concerned about retaliation and trying to get their hands on these guys before others do.

ACOSTA: Phil Mudd, I mean, it sounds like the rival gang in all this may know the whereabouts of these suspects before the police do. The police say this was the result of a rivalry between groups.

How do they not only get to the bottom of this, but also stop this from escalating into more violence, as the chief was just saying?

MUDD: Well, a couple of questions.

First, are people on the site talking? As the chief says, you have got a funeral coming up. So, you are talking about, what, three, four or five days. That's your window. If we don't see something by Thursday -- and I would -- that's at the latest.


I'm -- I would personally be thinking about Tuesday, Wednesday. I would be surprised. So, first, is somebody speaking on the scene? But then, going back into my whole world of the spy business, do you have any informants, or, even more basic, somebody you have got a bench warrant on?

We're going to arrest you. We know you know these guys in these gangs. If you don't speak, we're going to prosecute that bench warrant. You're going to jail. Who's going to speak? You could do the digital, Jim. I think the real answer is, somebody's got to talk.


And, Chief, this is just the latest in a string of mass shootings across the country. What sort of impact is the pandemic having on this surge in gun violence? It seems, as the pandemic is ending, people are going out, and they're just shooting up bars and gatherings all over the country these days.

RAMSEY: Well, there's no question it's been a surge in mass shootings.

But, actually, the uptick in shootings and homicides started pre- COVID, in 2019. We started in some cities to start seeing an increase in gun violence. And so, did COVID play a role? It played a role, in the sense that, for a while, courts were shut down. They're reluctant to send anybody to jail now because of the numbers of people that would be confined and how the disease can spread and so forth.

But a lot of it has to do it with right now. And police are under a lot of scrutiny. And, I mean, who wants to be the next viral video? And so some cops are not being as proactive as they once were. And so you have got a group people that have been emboldened. They're carrying guns. They're not afraid to use them.

And they just indiscriminately spray. I heard you ask the mayor about the fact that they fired into a crowd. These guys don't care.

ACOSTA: Right.

RAMSEY: They do not care. They are shooting at one -- they could care less how many people they shoot. They just don't care.

The violence is unimaginable. I think we have had four homicides in Philadelphia just today. And so it's not just in Miami or any one particular city. It's happening all over. And it's not just about mass shootings. People are dying every single day from gun violence. And the saddest part is that absolutely nothing's going to happen,

because we ask the same question over and over again. What does Congress need -- Congress will do nothing, zero, nada. They haven't done anything in the past.

ACOSTA: That's right.

RAMSEY: There's no reason to think they're going to do anything now. They just aren't.

ACOSTA: Over and over and over again. And it doesn't matter how sick the individuals are. This country is just awash in guns, dangerous guns.

RAMSEY: That's right.

ACOSTA: And they're turning these situations into just shooting galleries.

All right, Chief, Phil, thanks so much.

Just ahead: Texas Democrats are pulling out all the stops to block a restrictive new voting bill from reaching the governor's desk.

Stay with us. This is a SITUATION ROOM special report.



ACOSTA: Tonight, Democrats in Texas are taking dramatic measures to block a restrictive new voting bill from becoming law.

Our senior national correspondent, Ed Lavandera, is covering the story for us from Dallas.

Ed, Democrats actually walked off the floor of the House chamber. They were successful in halting this bill temporarily. But they may not be able to stop this from happening in the future, in the near future. What happened? Where do things go from here?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, it was a dramatic moment, about an hour-and-a-half left before the midnight deadline, where all bills were supposed to be passed.

And the head of the Democratic Caucus in the Texas House sent a text message to their members saying that they should leave the building, leave the Capitol Building, and do not come back. Don't stay around in the gallery.

And because of that, there weren't enough members inside the chamber to continue on with business. So, it -- this bill essentially died, for now, because of that procedure. And, of course, a great deal of back-and-forth now between Democrats and Republicans here in Texas, but Democrats are saying this was their only way to stop what they view as a voter suppression bill that is by far one of the worst that they have seen in the country.

Republicans are saying Democrats vacated and walked away from their constitutional duty to do this work. But it's not over yet, Jim. The governor of Texas says that this voting bill issue will be placed on a special session calendar, but exactly the timing of that is not clear at this point.

Texas also is getting two congressional seats because of the latest census figures. So, the state has to go through the redistricting process. That's expected to happen later this year. So, you can imagine a special legislative session where you have Republicans, Democrats not only fighting over redistricting, but fighting over this contentious voting bill.

It will be an explosive special session, to say the least -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Sounds like it will be.

Ed Lavandera, thanks so much. Great to see you.

And let's get more on all of this with our senior political analyst Ryan Lizza and CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers.

Bakari, the battle over this bill is going to continue. Listening to Ed Lavandera, it doesn't sound like maybe it's going to happen tomorrow, but it's certainly going to happen, it seems. What's the impact, do you think, of this walkout?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, as a former state legislator, I can tell you that that walkout is usually the last resort that you pull out, especially when you're being bullied by the majority party.

In this case, in Texas, it's actually even more rarely used. And so you have to applaud the courage of the House Democrats in using this last tool that they had.

But if you think about a special session, I mean, the governor of Texas did not use a special session for COVID. He did not use a special session for Hurricane Harvey relief. He did not use a special session for gun control measures after mass shooting after mass shooting after mass shooting in Texas.

But he wants to use one to further infringe on the voting rights of many of those who came out in record numbers in the state of Texas in this last presidential election.

There are two other just quick facts I want to lay out. The first is, this is all framed after and because of a big lie. The voter fraud that Republicans are talking about is simply a red herring or committed by Republicans.

And, number two -- and Democrats get mad at me for repeating this, but until Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin get out of the way of reforming the filibuster, and we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, this will continue to happen in state after state. [18:20:12]

ACOSTA: Yes, that filibuster issue has come up once again.

Ryan Lizza, let me ask you. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has already said this bill must pass in a special session. He's threatening to veto funding for the Texas legislature. As Bakari was saying a few moments ago, he's pulling out all the stops here.


I mean, Texas legislators in the House, I think they make about $7,200 a year. They're part-time legislators. So -- and they have already been paid for this session. So, it will be interesting to see how that -- how that's going to punish the Democrats that walked out last night.

But, look, this Texas law is death to -- a lot of Democrats see this as a -- for the future of the Democratic Party in that state incredibly important. They watched similar laws get passed in Georgia and Florida, without the ability to stop them.

I mean, just to show how important this law is to Democrats, Joe Biden put out a statement the other day blasting this law as undemocratic and a threat to democracy. And this White House does not weigh in on state issues. It's a very disciplined White House. They're very careful about what they weigh in on.

And they encouraged Democrats to stand up and do everything they could. And this was the last resort. I think the idea last night was, Democrats would sort of do a talking filibuster, where they would make the clock run out just by giving speeches.

In the end, the Republicans had the votes to stop that. And they resorted to what I guess you would call a walking filibuster, and left the chamber, depriving the Republicans have a quorum. You need 100 votes in the Texas House to vote on anything.

And now I think Republicans are not going to give up on this. It looks like Abbott is dead set on passing this. But it gives them a little bit of breathing room, puts a lot of national attention on this law and, as Bakari pointed out, puts national attention on Democrats in the Senate who want to have a national law to prevent these kinds of state voting restrictions from taking place in the first place.

ACOSTA: Yes, Bakari, let me ask you about this, because Republicans are going to push ahead with this bill in Texas. This is just one of hundreds of restrictive voting bills across the country.

You were just talking about Senator Sinema, Senator Manchin. Ryan was just talking about President Biden putting out this statement. He was talking about democracy being in peril earlier today over at Arlington National Cemetery.

Doesn't the president of the United States need to be heard on this? It seems to me Democrats want to hear Joe Biden saying more about this.

SELLERS: I think so.

And I think that we have to make -- and I was speaking to a good friend of mine, Charlamagne tha God from "The Breakfast Club." And in our casual conversation, he said, the most important piece of legislation that Democrats have is the John Lewis voting rights bill, because, if we don't do this, then Democrats and actually democracy are going to be in peril for generations.

And Democrats know we're going to get hammered in redistricting because of the number of state legislatures that are run and ruled by Republicans. We know that.

However, if you don't have that pre-clearance, if you don't have that ability for the Department of Justice to step in and rule in matters in these voting laws that we view to be very, very regressive, this voting -- this voting law -- and as much as was made out of the Georgia bill that was passed, the most regressive voting law in recent history was actually in North Carolina.

This Texas voting law goes further than that. And that's why I don't understand Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. I understand the kind of utopian naivete of having this bipartisan world that we live in. That just ain't what it is right now.

And so we have to have filibuster reform so we can pass bills which would help out democracy.

ACOSTA: Yes, a lot of people feel the filibuster is busted.

All right, Ryan Lizza, Bakari Sellers, thanks so much to both of you. We appreciate it.

And note to our viewers: Stay with us for a special CNN film, "Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street," from producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter. That premieres tonight at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Coming up: President Biden's Memorial Day message comes with a warning for Americans during a fragile moment for our democracy.



ACOSTA: President Biden has a stark warning for Americans this Memorial Day: The democracy that so many fought and died for is in grave peril.

CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz is on the story for us.

Arlette, this was a pointed message from the president. You don't hear a president of the United States say very often that democracy is in peril.


And President Biden called on Americans to come together to strengthen and protect democracy, which he argued is in danger. This comes on the heels of that insurrection on January 6, which the country is still dealing with the aftermath from, and also as some Republican-led state legislators are trying to enact new voting restrictions, something that the president this weekend called an assault on democracy.

But as he honored those fallen heroes and talked at his first Memorial Day service as commander in chief, the president said that it is up to Americans to defend democracy, which so many gave their lives for.

Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy itself is in peril here at home and around the world.


What we do now? What we do now? How do we honor the memory of the fallen and determine whether or not democracy will longer endure?

Democracy thrives when the infrastructure of democracy is strong when people have the right to vote freely and fairly and conveniently.

And so we remember those who gave their all to the cause of unity, to the cause of a nation that endures because of them. We must honor their sacrifice by sustaining the best of America while honestly confronting all that we must do to make our nation fuller, freer and more just.


SAENZ: The president today also reflected on all of those lives lost in service to the country, but also reflected on his own personal loss. It was six years ago yesterday that his eldest son, Beau Biden, passed away from brain cancer. And so often when the president talks about losses for military families, he expresses his own experience, trying to empathize with what he endured and what these military families are enduring as well.

The president said that this time of year is a very hard time for his family as well as so many military families and service members across the country as they are remembering their loved ones they lost in service to this country. Jim?

ACOSTA: All right, Arlette Saenz, thanks so much.

I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado. He's a veteran of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan and serves on the Armed Services Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for your service to the country on this Memorial Day. We're grateful to speak with you today. President Biden, that was a striking message, I think, to say that democracy is in peril and that what we do now to honor the fallen will determine whether or not democracy will endure. Are Americans living up to that charge, do you think?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Hi, Jim, thanks for having me on. You know, it's always remarkable, President Biden tells it like it is. He's always promised to deliver the news as it is, not as people want it to be. He continues to do that. We face some very real challenges.

You know, his speech was striking to me for a couple of very important reasons. Number one, it was a speech that had a lot to do with empathy and compassion. You can't be a good leader without empathy. And Joe Biden knows that because of his own tragedy.

And the second is he has set out for us the challenges that we face, and so that democracy is not self-perpetuating, it's not inevitable, it doesn't just continue on its own. It continues because people at every generation people step up and they fight for it. They sacrifice for it. And when people stop fighting for it and sacrificing for it, it begins to die.

And that's the challenge that's before us now as we sit here and recognize this weekend people that have given everything for democracy and for our country. The question for us is, are we going to be willing to make the sacrifices and put in the work to continue this project forward?

ACOSTA: And as you heard, President Biden specifically mentioned voting rights in his remarks today, this as Texas Republicans are pushing these new restrictions. If democracy is in such danger right now, do Congress -- does the White House need to do more to protect it? When are we going to see some action on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue on this?

CROW: Well you know, it begins really with the Congress passing federal voting rights laws, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. We know what we need to do to pass it. We just have to get to the Senate, and that actually means we have to end the filibuster. You know, this is foundational, Jim.

We can't be a democracy unless we protect the right to vote for everybody in this country that has a right to vote. And it just seems like we've taken that for granted in so many ways and now it's in question. And that's why things like the January 6th commission are so important because what's happening right now is the big lie is not just continuing, it's expanding.

More and more people in the GOP are realizing this. They're acknowledging the big lie. They're perpetuating the big lie that's being used to undermine voting rights in states across the country that pass these voter suppression laws. That's why, it's important that we have to, number one, end the filibuster and get voting rights laws through Congress, and number two, convene a bipartisan commission to shed light on these conspiracy theories and the big lie that continues to expand. ACOSTA: Well, and a lot of people though, are still under the spell of the big lie. I want to ask you about these comments by Michael Flynn, President Trump's fired National Security Adviser. He suggested that a military coup like what we saw in Myanmar should happen here in the United States to put Trump back in power. As an American and especially as a veteran, how offensive is that?

CROW: Well, it's incredibly offensive, Jim, and it makes my case. You know, I've been talking about this. That a 1/6 commission, making sure we're doing the investigation around this. This is not just for the history books.


Now, this is to make sure that we're doing right by those officers who died on and after January 6th, over 140 others that were beaten. But we have a danger right now of violent extremist movement, a conspiracy theorist movement that is growing. It's not just constant, it's growing, it's spreading.

When you have people like Michael Flynn, a retired three star general that give credence and legitimacy to it, it becomes incredibly important for people like me and others to stand up and say, this is not okay. And we're not going to allow this to happen.

We love our country and our democracy too much to allow people like Michael Flynn and others undermine it and turned their back in all that we love and what people have sacrifice so much for in decades past.

ACOSTA: It's incredibly dangerous to have a retired general using that kind of language. He needs to know -- Michael Flynn needs to know we're not going to become some military junta in this country. It's just not going to happen, in part because of folks like you.

Congressman Jason Crow, again, thank you for your service on this Memorial Day. We appreciate your time. Thanks for talking to us.

And just ahead, Americans turn out in force for the first mask-less holiday weekend in more than a year.



ACOSTA: After more than a year with little to celebrate, Americans are finally observing and enjoying a holiday weekend that feels closer to normal than anything the country has seen since the pandemic started. CNN's Alexandra Field has the latest from New York.


ALEXANDRRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The comeback is big.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: we're ready to rock and roll starting today.

FIELD: Americans from coast to coast are taking full advantage of the first nearly normal holiday we've had in more than a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never thought that the shutdown was going to last that long.

FIELD: After so much time spent at home, AAA says 37 million people are expected to travel this weekend. Airports are clocking pandemic era record numbers. 1.96 million passengers were screened Friday according to the TSA. But today is poised to be the busiest air travel day yet.

STEPHEN KAUFER, CEO AND PRESIDENT, TRIPADVISOR: Travel is back. Half the people in America want to take their summer vacation domestically. Another quarter want to take an international trip.

FIELD: Miami Beach deployed extra police in anticipation of unprecedented crowds. California's beaches are also open this holiday weekend.

BOB ALFERA, SANTA MONICA RESIDENT: It feels very, very close to normal, and it's nice to see people really all in a good mood.

FIELD: Tonight is the night New Yorkers have waited for, the curfew lifts on indoor restaurants and bars. The party is already on just outside of New Orleans, where 50,000 people turned out for this weekend's delayed Mardi Gras-style parade.

KELLEY CARTNER, JEFFERSON PARISH RESIDENT: It feels amazing. Like to be out here with family and friends, it's just amazing.

FIELD: And it's because of vaccines. More than 40 percent of Americans are now fully vaccinated. As of this holiday weekend, more than 60 percent of adults nationwide have already received one dose of the shot, bringing us closer to President Joe Biden's goal to get that number up to 70 percent in time for the next holiday weekend, July 4th.

And when it comes to children who have already been vaccinated, this summer promises to be better than the last. New CDC guidance says vaccinated campers don't need to physically distance or wear a mask.


FIELD (on camera): And, Wolf, so much does look so very normal this holiday weekend. That push does continue ahead of the next holiday weekend to vaccinate more Americans. Here in New York City, the strategy is about conquering vaccine hesitancy where it exists and also bringing shots to people where they are. That means sites like this popup walk-in one right in the middle of Central Park, really, whatever it takes now, Jim.

ACOSTA: We're trying to make it as convenient as possible. All right, CNN Alexandra Field, great to see you, thank you so much.

And joining us now, Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. Dr. Jha, great to see you on this Memorial Day. The last time the country this year, the last time we were here on Memorial Day, the country was shut down. As you watch people celebrate this Memorial Day, I wonder what's going through your mind. It is nice to see people getting out there again.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes, Jim. First of all, thanks for having me back. It is really nice to see people getting out there. And most of what I feel is relief and celebration. A little bit of concern.

We still have a chunk of people out there who are unvaccinated who are still at risk and with the variants circulating may be quite a bit at risk. But for a majority of Americans who have gotten the shot, it is a huge, huge moment to sort of be able to celebrate again.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And this is a huge question for parents right now. They're preparing to send their kids to summer camp and masks will not be required outside, but younger kids still can't get vaccinated. So, not all camp counselors will be required to get the vaccine as well. What's the bottom line for parents navigating this? I mean, they're really going to have to get a lot of information about what's going on at this camp when they send their kids off.

JHA: Yes, and, you know, every camp is probably going to end up handling this a little bit differently, so it's going to be a lot of work on parents. The single biggest thing you can do if your kid is 12 or over is get them vaccinated because that will protect them throughout the summer and, of course, also into the fall and winter.

If your kids are under 12, it's a bit more tricky. They can't get vaccinated. If all the adults in that camp are fully vaccinated, that's going to make an enormous difference if you're in a low infection area, that will make a big difference. This is a bit of a transition summer, especially for the younger kids.

ACOSTA: All right, Dr. Ashish Jha, thanks so much for joining us on this Memorial Day, great to see you and stay safe.

JHA: Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: Thank you. Coming up, President Trump's former National Security Adviser apparently endorsing the idea of a coup, yes, a coup in the U.S.



ACOSTA: We're following some incredibly disturbing comments from former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who appears to be endorsing a coup against the U.S. government.

CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, he made these comments to a group that included followers of the QAnon conspiracy theories. So, I suppose these comments fit right in. But still, just so


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are disturbing, Jim. You know, in recent months, analysts say that Michael Flynn has been very careful not to say openly that he's all in on the QAnon movement.


But it's unmistakable that he's been voicing some of QAnon's main talking points and indeed Flynn's latest comments are alarming.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I mean, honestly, it's unbelievable, right?

TODD (voice-over): A man once at the right hand of the president of the United States, with open access to the Oval Office, who advised the president on the most series matters of national security, now appears to say he thinks a coup like the coup in Myanmar that killed hundreds should happen in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know why, what happened in Myanmar can't happen here.

MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No reason. I mean, it should happen here. No reason.

TODD: Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn who before he resigned was briefly President Trump's national security adviser said that in response to a question during a conference in Dallas this past weekend, a conference attended by several followers of the QAnon conspiracy theories.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, TRACKS EXTREMIST MOVEMENTS: Flynn's comments are stunning, remarkable. They are scary. But in the world of QAnon, a possible coup in the United States inspired by what is happening in Myanmar. That's something that QAnon followers have been talking about basically since Trump left office.

TODD: An attorney representing Flynn denies he was endorsing the military coup in the U.S. At the Dallas conference, Flynn repeated the false claim that has fueled QAnon and other extremists since the November election and through January 6.

FLYNN: Trump won. He won.

So what happened? Well, I'll use a military term, we were out- maneuvered.

TODD: In addition to believing the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, many of the QAnon movement's followers believed that Trump would be reinstated as president on March 4th of this year, misinterpreting the law passed in the 1870s that gave Washington, D.C. its first municipal government, believing that turned America into a giant corporation, not a country, that every American president since then until Trump is fake.

JULIAN FEELD, PRODUCER AND HOST, "QANON ANONYMOUS" PODCAST: They essentially believe that Ulysses S. Grant was the last American, valid American president.

TODD: Monitors of extremist movement say Michael Flynn had become a hero to QAnon followers whose core beliefs are that the government, media and financial sectors of the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a child sex trafficking operation. They preposterous claimed that Hillary Clinton was part of sex trafficking rings. That Michelle Obama is a man and that a storm is coming to sweep the elites from power.

BETH, QANON FOLLOWER: What's going to happen at some point is there will be arrests and that will include a lot of the lying media and there will be military tribunals.

TODD: Tonight, analysts are concerned about the possibility of someone taking the suggestion of a coup literally.

BENJAMIN DECKER, ONLINE EXTREMISM RESEARCHER: Ultimately, we are one unstable person away from another possible act of domestic terrorism.


TODD (on camera): And again with the Flynn camp's denial here, Attorney Sydney Powell who has represented Michael Flynn in the past said today that Flynn had in no way encouraged any act of violence or any military insurrection, but she had not explained why he answered that particular question the way he did.

ACOSTA: Yeah, this is disturbing reporting. And infuriating -- it's infuriating to see that.

TODD: It is.

ACOSTA: Brian Todd, thank you so much.

Coming up, we are following a major political shakeup in Israel with Benjamin Netanyahu on the way out after more than 12 years in power. We will have a report right after the break.



ACOSTA: Tonight, amid a very fragile cease-fire in the Middle East, Israel might be on the verge of its biggest political shakeup in more than a decade.

CNN's Hadas Gold has the story.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly 10 weeks after Israelis cast their ballots, and the decisive primetime move from former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett.

NAFTALI BENNETT, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY (through translator): It is now clearly proven there is no right wing government possible with Netanyahu at its head. It's either a 5th election or unity government.

GOLD: Once a close aide to the prime minister, now perhaps the man to sink Netanyahu's 12-year unbroken run as Israel's leader.

BENNETT: I am announcing today that I intend to fight with all my strength, to form a national unity government, together with my friend Yair Lapid, so that God willing together we will rescue the country from this tailspin and we will get Israel back on track.

GOLD: Minutes later, Netanyahu lashed back.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): He's deceiving the public again -- the same lies, the same hollow slogans about hatred and division, this from a man who is actually contributing to hatred and division, a man who is committing the deception of the century.

GOLD: Apparently no greater crime for Netanyahu than seeking to create a left wing government. And accusation at which Bennett scoffed, given his own previous support from West Bank annexation.

BENNETT: The left is making difficult compromises when it be stairs upon me, the former leader of the right Yesha Council in proponent of the land of Israel, in the role of prime minister.

GOLD: Up to eight political parties would likely take part in any unity government, but sources close to coalition talks say the hard work has already been done. The position of prime minister is widely expected to rotate with right-wing Bennett going first and centrist Lapid second. An announcement could come in the next few days and then parliament has a week to give its approval.

Even so, in a country so long used to seeing Netanyahu in power, fueling out the possibility of a further twist or two before the story finally resolves.


ACOSTA: And was CNN's Hadas Gold reporting.

And finally tonight, on this Memorial Day, we want to take a moment to acknowledge all of the men and women who died in the service of our country. They have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect us. And for that we are eternally grateful. May they rest in peace.

I'm Jim Acosta, thanks very much for watching this Memorial Day weekend. I hope you had some good times their family and friends and took a moment to reflect on all those who have died for this country.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.