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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Derek Chauvin's Supervisor was Not Initially Told about Knee on Neck; New Video Shows Medics Trying to Revive Floyd; Interview with Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX); Sources: GOP Rep. Gaetz Showed Nude Photos, Videos Of Women He Said He'd Slept With To Lawmakers; Pfizer Says Studies Confirm Vaccine Protection Will Last At Least 6 Months After Second Dose, Likely Longer; Florida GOP's Response To Black Lives Matter Protests; First Meeting A Complete Reversal From Last Four Years: Diversity, Social Distancing And No Fawning Over President. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 1, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Derek Chauvin had plenty to tell his supervisor from the scene of the arrest that killed George Floyd. He had nothing to say though about his knee on the man's neck.
Jim Sciutto here in again for Anderson tonight.
That's what the police supervisor told jurors today, a day which also saw testimony from George Floyd's girlfriend and the paramedics who tried but couldn't revive him.
Day Four of the prosecution's case and continued attempts by the defense to suggest that Floyd was a potential threat, ready to spring back up somehow and do harm.
The latest tonight from CNN's Omar Jimenez in Minneapolis.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The moments when paramedics arrived and George Floyd appeared unresponsive in May 2020 are coming into clear focus. An audio played in court. Derek Chauvin is heard on the phone describing what had just happened.
VOICE OF DEREK CHAUVIN, FORMER MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER: I had to hold that guy down. He was -- he was -- he went crazy. He wouldn't -- he wouldn't go on the back of the squad --
JIMENEZ (voice-over): He was talking to the supervising police sergeant on duty at the time, David Pleoger. STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: Do you have an opinion as to when the
restraint of Mr. Floyd should have ended in this encounter?
SGT. DAVID PLEOGER (RET), MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes.
SCHLEICHER: What is it?
PLEOGER: When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could end the restraint.
SCHLEICHER: And that was after he was handcuffed and, on the ground, and the longer resisting.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Paramedics Seth Bravinder and Derek Smith responded to the scene and arrived to an unresponsive Floyd.
Smith seen here checking Floyd for vitals.
DEREK SMITH, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA, PARAMEDIC: I could not detect a pulse.
ERIN ELDRIDGE, PROSECUTOR: And what of his condition appeared to be to you, overall?
SMITH: In lay terms, I thought he was dead.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): The checking began while now former officer Derek Chauvin still had his knee on Floyd's neck before Bravinder stepped in.
ELDRIDGE: What were you attempting to do at that point in time?
SETH BRAVINDER, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA PARAMEDIC: Just tell the officer to move.
ELDRIDGE: And why did you need the officer to move?
BRAVINDER: So, we can move the patient because he was, I guess, limp would be the best description.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Bravinder testified a cardiac monitor showed Floyd's heart had flatlined.
BRAVINDER: It basically tells us your heart isn't really doing anything at that moment.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): During cross examination, the defense asked about whether overdose patients can regain consciousness and be aggressive?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you personally seen that happen?
JIMENEZ (voice-over): But testimony, Thursday, also touched on who George Floyd was before May 2020.
COURTENEY ROSS, GEORGE FLOYD'S GIRLFRIEND: He loved playing sports with like the neighborhood kids.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): Courteney Ross, George Floyd's girlfriend of three years took the stand. The first testimony heard from someone who knew Floyd.
ROSS: We went out to eat a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?
ROSS: Because Floyd loves to eat a lot. He's a big man and it's -- you know, it took a lot of energy to keep him going and he loved food, and so did I. It was -- it was fun. It was an adventure always with him.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): But while emotional throughout, she testified their relationship also included addiction to opioids.
ROSS: The classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids.
SCHLEICHER: Well, did he have sports injuries that he complained of?
ROSS: Yes, his neck and it went from his neck to shoulder blade and down to his lower back.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): The defense for Derek Chauvin is trying to make the case it was drugs in George Floyd's system that killed him, not Chauvin's knee to the neck.
So when it was their turn the question Ross, they asked about an emergency trip to the hospital Floyd had just two months before his death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you later learn that that was due to an overdose?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you learn what that -- what caused that overdose?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At that timeframe, did you learn that Mr. Floyd was taking anything other than opioids?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did not know that he had taken heroin at that time.
ROSS: No. JIMENEZ (voice-over): She testified days before he died, Floyd was
using again, but never complained of shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
SCHLEICHER: Had Mr. Floyd been an active person physically?
ROSS: Yes. He is very active.
SCIUTTO: Omar Jimenez joins us now, and Omar, quite a day in that courtroom. What can we expect when the trial gets underway again tomorrow?
JIMENEZ: Well for starters, we're going to have a brand new witness starting tomorrow, but the court has been withholding the identities of these witnesses for security purposes. At some point in the future though, it is expected that current Minneapolis Police Chief, Medaria Arradondo, the Medical Examiner and even members of Floyd family are expected to testify.
JIMENEZ: And really over the course of this week, what we've seen with this testimony, they are puzzle pieces that have come together to paint a clear picture of what happened on May 25, 2020.
You take yesterday, for example, we got a clear picture of what happened when the ambulance left and what happened before police were initially called. Today, it centered on context around any prior to George Floyd's drug use, also that when medical personnel got there, they believed for all intents and purposes, that George Floyd was dead.
And then the supervisory sergeant at the time for Derek Chauvin, saying definitively when he was pressed by prosecutors that he believes Derek Chauvin used excessive force on George Floyd.
SCIUTTO: That moment, notable, no question Omar Jimenez. Thanks very much.
Let's bring in our legal and law enforcement team, CNN legal analyst Mark O'Mara and Laura Coates. He's a criminal defense attorney. She's a former Federal prosecutor; also, CNN law enforcement analyst, Charles Ramsey, former top cop in D.C. and Philadelphia.
Welcome to all of you. Laura, I do want to begin with the testimony from Derek Chauvin's supervisor, his Sergeant, him saying -- I mean, he said in no uncertain terms that the force applied by Chauvin, the knee on the neck should have stopped when Floyd was no longer resisting This contradicts the defense to this point, saying that he was just following training, how critical was that testimony?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This was extraordinarily, critical to have somebody who is in law enforcement, his supervisor to really debunk this myth that he was perpetuating so far, which is that you're able to use force even after any force is being used against you.
Remember, this is about the idea of whether an officer can use a reasonable amount of force to stop whatever perceived threat is against them. Once that perceived threat is essentially neutralized, then you have to reassess and act differently.
And so the idea of not only the use of force, which may have been justified initially, you have to go all the way down the timeline and figure out is it because -- does it become assault? Does it become excessive once the threat has been neutralized? Does it then become unreasonable to continue and sustain this force?
This was extraordinary testimony here today. And really, it shouldn't come as a surprise because remember, Chauvin was fired very quickly after they realized this because it was conduct really unbecoming of a police officer in Minneapolis or anywhere.
SCIUTTO: Mark O'Mara, you've defended folks in court. What's the defense's possible response to that? This is Chauvin's police sergeant saying it should have stopped. There's nothing in the training that justified keeping his knee on Floyd's neck. Well, what's the defense's potential response to that?
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what they have to do is try and focus on the stress of the moment that even though Chauvin looking at him in the cold light of day afterwards, may not have done the right thing, they have to focus on the fact that what he was perceiving at the time that he was doing what he did.
We can very easily look at it and say there's no way that's justified. And what I think is very compelling, as Laura just said, is when you have an on the ground officer, the supervising officer come down and say I look at that, and I say, no good. That's very compelling to a jury because now they have another officer saying it.
There's going to be a fight back and forth of the use of force experts that I presume are going to be called. But when you have the very supervisor saying it shouldn't happen.
And here's something else, I thought, Jim, was very important. The way Chauvin said and he explained his behavior by saying he was acting crazy. It seems as though that's now his perception he is trying to give to a supervising officer, when everyone who saw that tape knows for at least six minutes, if not more, he wasn't acting crazy and that's exactly what the problem with the continued use of force is, it is going to drop back down as the threat does.
SCIUTTO: That was notable. And Chief Ramsey, the other thing notable about Chauvin's communications to his supervisor immediately after the incident, Chauvin notably did not mention that he had placed his knee on Floyd's neck to restrain him for minutes as the tape shows and as the eyewitnesses. Is that a piece of information that you, for instance, would expect a police officer serving under you to share with you in the aftermath?
CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I would, but he's trying to cover himself at this point in time clearly, when he's talking to his sergeant. The reality of what just took place may not have really hit him yet because this stuff is on video. It's on audio tape.
And so you know, it doesn't make any sense to try to alter the story when it's right there and so at that moment, it seems to me like when he is speaking with the sergeant, he is trying to justify a use of force is simply unjustifiable.
SCIUTTO: Laura Coates, the other big piece of the testimony today was really multiple accounts and questions about George Floyd's drug use up to this.
Even the prosecution, right, discussing with his girlfriend that they were both opioid addicts. She said it very openly, something that he and she struggled with, and also, you know, establishing that he had other problems with drugs, including just two months before, an emergency trip to the hospital for an overdose from heroin.
I wonder, from the defense's perspective here, is that primarily about an attempted character assassination, right, calling into question, questions about the victim here, or is there something else going on here about raising questions about what could have caused his death, right, or at least a reasonable doubt about what could have caused his death?
COATES: It likely is more of the latter, because of course, the way people think about opioid abuse and addiction is a different time that we're in now, in 2021.
The idea of being an addict is not the vilifying factor that perhaps it may have been in character assassination years ago for a defendant or a victim in a crime. And so they've already talked about the characterization with that.
And remember, it was the prosecution who fronted this because they want to be able to take the wind out of the sails of any defense argument to say, a-ha, this is what they don't want you to know. Why didn't they tell you this? And if they didn't tell you that, what other things aren't they telling you?
But ultimately, this is going to come down to two questions. Number one, whether the use of force sustained over a period of time was reasonable? And number two, whether the kneeling on the neck was a substantial causal factor in his death?
Now remember, in Minnesota, Jim, it need not be the sole factor in the death, but it has to be a substantial causal factors. So they are probably trying to set the groundwork that says, hey, we know the knee was on the neck, but he had drugs in his system, that was the one that was the substantial causal factor, not the knee to the neck. They're trying to lay the groundwork now, so far, unsuccessfully.
SCIUTTO: Mark O'Mara, you know, these are human stories, right, juries are made up of -- they are a jury of our peers, fellow human beings with emotions. They react to sympathetic witnesses, right?
And you saw the accounts there, sometimes tearful from George Floyd's girlfriend, describing him as a man with a lot of interests and as a loving partner and so on.
I just wonder, you've been in the courtroom, right? You know, as a defense attorney, as you watched that today, did you see that as powerful for the prosecution?
O'MARA: I thought it was very, very powerful. I think everything that the prosecution has done so far has been by plan and has been effective. Again, this is their best day, right? These last four days and the future couple because it's their presentation, but I thought the idea of the way they presented it, firstly, people who sort of knew George Floyd a little bit, then gave the scene and now from the girlfriend. I think it was very, very powerful, because exactly what they want to do is to personalize that victim.
And I do think that the defense has to be more careful. I think the idea of sort of going after these witnesses with almost a shotgun approach, they need to be more focused on what their defense really is. If they're going to attack cause of death, do it; but leave the witnesses like even the girlfriend out of the crosshairs.
SCIUTTO: Yes, I get that point because you don't want to antagonize. Chief Ramsey, from your perspective, do you believe that Derek Chauvin owes it not just a Floyd's family, citizens of Minnesota, but also to the law enforcement community to take the stand at some point in this trial and testify? Do believe -- do you believe that?
RAMSEY: I don't know. I think he'll go based on whatever his attorney tells him to do. So whether he testifies or not, I really don't know. I'd personally be surprised if he did under the circumstances.
But if I could mention just one thing that I thought was curious and that's when the defense brought up the issue of critical decision- making model that is used in police training regarding use of force. It really is replacing the old use of force continuum that we used to use.
And the use of force, or rather, the critical decision making model is one that really forces officers to constantly reassess their actions based on the change of behavior of the suspect, which can either escalate or deescalate, obviously, but you have to constantly reassess, reassess, reassess.
Just because force was justified at one point, it doesn't mean it's justified later because you have to reassess: what is he doing? What's the threat? And if the threats not there, stop.
SCIUTTO: Yes, it's a great point. And that goes back to where we started, right? The Sergeant, Chauvin's Sergeant saying, it should have stopped because Floyd was no longer resisting.
SCIUTTO: Listen, Charles Ramsey, Mike O'Mara, Laura Coates, thanks to have you -- good having you again on tonight.
Coming up next, the Congresswoman hoping to reform policing and redeem justice in the wake of this tragedy, Sheila Jackson-Lee, she is going to join us.
Later, as if the sex trafficking allegations and blackmail claims were not enough, there is yet more breaking news, shocking developments in the Congressman Matt Gaetz story.
SCIUTTO: We got a fuller picture of George Floyd, the man, in court today in moving testimony from his girlfriend.
We're joined now by a Congresswoman who shares his Houston, Texas roots, Sheila Jackson-Lee, who is spearheading police reform legislation now bearing his name. It's now awaiting action in the Senate. She spoke at Floyd's funeral.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE (D-TX): And so I say to George Floyd, it'll be up to us. That his purpose and his assignment for the justice of this nation, for the fact that there will never be the brutality faced by a man that says "I can't breathe" and call to a mama, who loved him so.
That is the direct call for all of us, and so as the Lord and the Scriptures said, when asked who should I send? The first who said, "Send me" was George Floyd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee joins us now. Congresswoman, thanks so much for taking the time tonight.
JACKSON-LEE: Thank you, Jim, for having me this evening.
SCIUTTO: You, of course, authored the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, and I want to talk about that in a moment. But first, your reaction as you've watched these first few days of the Derek Chauvin trial, you know, even for instance, to see a moment you reference there at his funeral, him calling for his mother in his final moments.
JACKSON-LEE: Well, Jim, I think we want what every American should want, as we watch this trial, and when I say that, African-Americans, people of goodwill, and that is justice and a recognition that we are a country of law and order.
But as I've heard, police officers say, they want to go home to their families, and I've added, and we want to go home to ours. This officer, Chauvin, did not allow George Floyd who was loved by so
many, as we have seen in the midst of his death, to go home to his family, whether it was in Minneapolis, or whether it was in Houston, Texas, or places beyond.
And for that, we believe that Officer Chauvin should be held accountable. I think what we have seen is a block by block building of a story and a physical structure and I think it's been strong.
I believe the prosecutors have carefully laid out with eyewitness testimony, with video, and then I'd highlight today, yesterday a very emotional day, showing that the persons that were standing around who came around, they were not intimidating to the police. They were hurt and they were concerned.
I think the prosecutor has laid this out, and I think it's up to the jury to see the facts as clearly as they can and to match that with the law.
SCIUTTO: Well, we'll be watching. So the bill you named in memory of George Floyd, it passed the House. The history of cases like this, and there's no case exactly like George Floyd, but as you know, we've seen what appeared to be excessive force by police and not punished in a court because the law is written in such a way that it's hard to do.
I wonder if you could explain what the bill that you have brought forward does to attempt to change that.
JACKSON-LEE: Jim, the power of this bill is the massive support it's gotten and the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus that worked extensively with all of us on this legislation. And in this legislation, we are fair.
How are we fair? One, we look at the chokehold which the EMT/EMS operators today told us that when they arrived, they thought he was dead. Why? Because Officer Chauvin used excessive force, and used in essence, a chokehold form of action against old Floyd, and he went beyond even the training and actions on Minneapolis Police.
So we outlaw that. Period. We outlawed the no-knock warrant, if you will, that killed Breonna Taylor. We end racial profiling, that, in essence, put Sandra Bland in jeopardy. We provide a massive formula for training police officers and ending excessive force. And we also indicate that if by chance, you are a victim or your family has lost a loved one, you have an equal chance in the court of law just as a police officer.
You can be fairly heard as a victim, just as the officer can be heard, and I think that is very important.
SCIUTTO: There was a moment following the depth of the Floyd protests last summer when there was some bipartisan support for some police reform. The two parties did not come to agreement.
Do you have Republican support? Have you ever spoken to Republicans as you lobby for this? And of course, I know the Senate is the next step. Do you think that's possible in this moment?
JACKSON-LEE: You know, if anyone is looking at this trial, I hope that their hearts and minds have been as much touched during the trial as it was touched, I believe, in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, the murder of George Floyd.
And so we may not have vocal Republican support. There are discussions going on, but I tell you what we do have. We have an Executive Order that Donald Trump wrote or his administration wrote that really had a large part of some of the aspects of the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act.
I would ask my Republican colleagues who are so enamored with the past President, whether or not now they reject those elements that they were willing to support in an Executive Order. The legislation that has been promoted by our friend, Senator Scott is not where it needs to be. It's not strong. It doesn't have the strength that we need.
JACKSON-LEE: But the table, the chairs are still there, Jim, and I believe, at this time in history, it will be good for America if we can resolve these issues and have a coming together to recognize that this nation is a nation of law and order, but it is also a nation of humanity and compassion and justice, and that's what the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act represents.
SCIUTTO: We'll be watching, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
JACKSON-LEE: Thank you for having me.
SCIUTTO: And coming up next this hour, a story that still has more remarkable, even alarming twists to it. New allegations in the Federal investigation involving Republican firebrand and Congressman Matt Gaetz. Details, there are a lot of them, coming up.
SCIUTTO: Tonight, a series of developments, one simply more shocking than the next in what sources say is an ongoing Federal investigation in Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, a staunch defender of the former President in favor of the hard right.
CNN's Paula Reid is with us now for the latest. And Paula, it was hard to keep track of all the developments in this. Tell us what more we learned today.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening. Well, Jim multiple sources tell CNN, Congressman Gaetz showed other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women he claimed to have slept with. One source said Gaetz shared these images on his phone while on the floor of the House. Another source said it was a point of pride for Gaetz. Now, there is no evidence the Justice Department is looking into this issue or that these were photos of minors. His office so far, though, hasn't responded at all to our reporting. But all of these counts as CNN is learning new details about the scope of an entirely separate criminal investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by Gaetz.
REID (voice-over): Tonight, new details on the sex trafficking investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz. CNN has learned prosecutors are looking into a relationship with a woman that began when she was just 17. And whether his involvement with other young women, broke sex trafficking and prostitution laws according to two sources briefed on the matter.
Those sources say investigators are also pursuing allegations that Gaetz may have used cash and drugs in his dealings with young women. And they've also looked at whether any federal campaign money was involved in paying for travel and expenses. An attorney for Gaetz declined to comment. Gaetz has previously denied any wrongdoing.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): It is a horrible allegation. And it is a lie.
That is verifiably false. People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case.
REID (voice-over): Sources now telling CNN the investigation began as part of a broader probe into trafficking allegations of this man, Joel Greenberg. Two sources familiar with the matter tell CNN that in a meeting last year, federal investigators were told by a witness that Gaetz was seen with Greenberg on an internal office surveillance system looking through driver's licenses on a weekend evening in 2019. Greenberg had access to the surrendered licenses as head of the tax collector's office. There's no indication that the licenses seen handled on the video were used for illegal purposes.
But according to the court documents, Greenberg allegedly use the surrender licenses to create fake IDs. Greenberg has entered a plea of not guilty. Attorneys for Greenberg and Gaetz had no comment.
CNN has learned former Attorney General Bill Barr received multiple briefings while he was in office on the sex trafficking investigation into Gaetz. Barr did not take issue with the investigation, which began in the final months of the Trump administration. Also, CNN has learned that Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson was angered at the congressman's attempt to rope him into the scandal. According to a source familiar with the matter. Carlson was livid.
GAETZ: You and I went to dinner about two years ago, your wife was there and I brought a friend of mine, you'll remember her and she was actually threatened by the FBI.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: I don't remember that the woman you're speaking of or the context at all, honestly.
REID (voice-over): Carlson distanced himself afterwards. CARLSON: That was one of the weirdest interviews I've ever conducted.
REID (voice-over): Gaetz tried to distract from the allegations by connecting the criminal investigation to a separate alleged extortion plot against him.
SCIUTTO: So, there are a series of allegations here almost hard to keep track of but this extortion claim, and we should be clear about this. This does not relate to the original investigation. This relates to the information about that investigation existing. But Gaetz still claiming that somehow exonerates him that doesn't hold water does it?
REID: Exactly. CNN has learned they are two entirely separate cases. We have a clean (ph) documents that appear to corroborate that someone with seemingly no direct connection to the sex trafficking case, offered to make the lawmakers legal troubles go away in exchange for money. We've also obtained e-mails that confirm dates his father is cooperating with the government to investigate that effort.
But it's important to note as you pointed out, Gaetz was a staunch supporter of former President Trump but this sex trafficking investigation began in the final months of the Trump administration. And with his political future on the line, Gaetz is trying to conflate the two cases, reframing himself as the victim and distancing himself from the seriousness of the allegations he faces.
SCIUTTO: And under Bill Barr. And Bill Barr got briefed on this investigation. Paula Reid, thanks so much for your reporting.
Well, a great many late breaking developments and perspective now from Preet Bharara. He is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and a CNN senior legal analyst.
Preet, it's great to have you on. I was trying to keep a running tab of all the alleged I'm doing here because there's the idea of a sexual relationship with an underage girl, trafficking, misuse of campaign funds in some sort of involvement with these young women, fake IDs, a fake ID scheme, allegations of prostitution, allegations of use of drugs. I mean, that's a long list. Can you help us prioritize those or is any one more serious than the other?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: They're all pretty serious. And I think you have a good tab on it, Jim. I think what will really matter is which things can be proved. I mean, at this point, you have a lot of reporting, some of it seems to be credible reporting. I think one of the biggest problems that Matt Gaetz faces, as was, you know, alluded to in the report, is that there's a person who's already under indictment for sex trafficking other charges, Joel Greenberg. And I haven't seen any reporting to this effect. But you have to, you know, wonder whether or not this person who is facing lengthy prison time potentially if convicted, has flipped, has become a cooperating witness against Congressman Matt Gaetz. That means then, that if he takes that position, he becomes a cooperating witness, that he's in a position to give very powerful evidence to the government to bring charges against Matt Gaetz relating to the stuff that he's involved in.
So, I think when you when you try to think of where there's most jeopardy, I don't necessarily look at, you know, which potential crime carries the longest prison sentence, which particular crime carries the most potential evidence in the form of cooperating witness testimony or other things.
SCIUTTO: Understood. And listened as you know, prosecutor they, they look for cooperators, it helps them build their case. Help me understand and invest the seriousness of an investigation like this. And we should note, it's an investigation. Nothing has been charged yet. Perhaps you don't find sufficient evidence. But it's been going on for a number of months. And by the way, it started under Bill Barr in the Trump administration, despite the fact that Gaetz a Trump ally, and Barr was briefed on it.
Given that and given that the investigation to CNN's reporting continues, how serious does it make that investigation?
BHARARA: I think it's quite serious. It's interesting to note that all this information is coming to light now, I'm not sure why there are leaks going on. There was the case that my own office oversaw a few years ago that had far reaching implications in another regard. But the case against Congressman Anthony Weiner, was a serious one and involved in his conduct with respect to a minor. These are cases that the Department of Justice takes very seriously. Both because it involves minors, and also because the targets of the investigation are people who have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and are supposed to be beyond reproach.
So, I think they take it seriously. I think they also want to make sure that they get everything right. You don't accuse a sitting member of Congress, unless you have all your T's crossed and your eyes dotted. And I think that's what they're going to be doing here. And a few months is not a long time, in connection with this kind of thing. And it may be the case, as you point out with your long litany of potential investigations, that they want to square away lots of different things before they decide what they want to do with respect to charging.
SCIUTTO: Understood. In the midst of this, this claim by Congressman Gaetz that his family was the victim of an extortion attempt. And again, I always notice when you bring this up, not in relation to the target of this investigation itself, but it seems the information that it exists. What do you make of that? I mean, clearly that is being investigated that CNN is reporting. Surprising to you, bizarre to you?
BHARARA: Yes, it's all bizarre. I mean, I tweeted the other night, when Matt Gaetz made his statements, and this is something that used to be my bread and butter. You know, it's in the heartland of what I understand criminal investigations and accusations made by people who are under investigation. And I said something like, I don't even understand what's going on here. It's very bizarre. And you say, I think correctly based on what we know, those two things are unrelated.
But it's obviously in the interest of somebody who's being investigated to connect them to each other to as Paula Reid said, cast himself as the victim and he keeps using the phraseology that he and his family are being extorted by a former Department of Justice official, making it sound like person was at the Department of Justice, you know, just a few weeks ago, and had something to do with the underlying investigation. That's not true. This person was a former member of the Justice Department and has been gone for two decades is my understanding.
So, it can be simultaneously true that Matt Gaetz is being investigated for serious sex trafficking conduct. And separate from that someone is trying to extort him based on the fact that that's happening.
BHARARA: It's unusual, but it happens, but they're separate.
SCIUTTO: And we should note that former Justice Department official does deny that allegation.
Preet Bharara, will continue to dig. Thanks very much.
BHARARA: Thanks, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Well as the pace of vaccinations keeps rising around the country, it's great news. One question remains, how long will the vaccines protection last? We do have new information on that. We'll bring it to you when we come back.
SCIUTTO: Well the drug maker Pfizer today's has an ongoing Phase 3 trial of its coronavirus vaccine confirms. The vaccines protection last at least that's key, at least six months after the second dose. This is Dr. Anthony Fauci not only agree with that, but says, tonight the protection is likely to last longer, all the while there are worries about the rise in overall new infections around the nation.
Joining me now is Dr. Leana Wen, she's a CNN medical analyst, former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore. She's also the author of a forthcoming book Lifelines, A Doctor's Journey In The Fight For Public Health. It's now available for pre order. You'll want to read it.
Dr. Wen, we should also note, also a participant in the Johnson & Johnson trial for the vaccine she received a placebo. I want to ask you about that Dr. Wen. But first, let's talk about this Pfizer data here at least six months, should we look at that as a baseline number though, because the fact is, that's as much data as we have at this point because the vaccine is only been around and tested for six months. Is that the right way to look at this? LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: That's exactly right, Jim. So, this is the floor definitely not the ceiling.
WEN: Most likely the protection that the vaccine will provide will be years even but we just don't know that. And I do think that there's a possibility that we may need to get a booster shot, maybe booster shots on target new emerging variants, but I think that's a small price to pay given that we now have these safe and very effective vaccines that are out there.
SCIUTTO: Which is not unlike other vaccines where you do get boosters after the fact to continue the protection. OK. As this is happening, and I always like to do it, I talk all the time about the pandemic, and I like to accentuate the positive, because there is a lot of positive news and more people are getting vaccinated, and I got vaccinated and everybody's happy. But infections are rising, because people are just kind of given up, right, and a lot of places, tell us how concerned you are about that, and what your advice to people would be.
WEN: I am very worried that we are on the precipice of a fourth surge here. And we're seeing virus hotspots emerging in different parts of the country. And we're seeing that the population of people getting sick are actually skewing younger. And in a way that's good. It means that the older people who have been vaccinated first, that they are well protected. But I am very concerned about this trend that we're seeing and my advice for people is to hang in there.
Please, wait at least until you're fully vaccinated before you're traveling, before you're engaging in higher risk activities. Know that when you become vaccinated, the activities that were once higher risk are now going to be lower risk. And so, just wait until then.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Don't be the last person to get infected, right? I mean, it's almost as simple as that. All right, as I mentioned, the top you are a participant in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine trial, you actually found out that you received a placebo because that's the way these things work. You know, half the people don't actually get the vaccine, but you did get the actual vaccine yesterday morning. For folks at home who haven't been vaccinated yet, how are you feeling? What are the effects?
WEN: I actually feel just fine, Jim. So, I was pretty convinced actually that I had gotten the vaccine before. So I was in the -- I'm still in the in the trial. But that's a part of the trial that I was in was the two dose Johnson & Johnson trial to see if two doses of the vaccine will provide better protection than one dose. So, I received two doses of what turned out to be placebo. And then I found out that I actually got the placebo and so had the opportunity to get the Johnson & Johnson one dose.
So, I'm now in the one dose part of the trial to compare that to two doses. I have a mildly sore arm maybe I was a little bit more tired last night, I feel fine. And I actually feel just really grateful that I am protected myself. And also that this brings us a little bit closer to getting more people protected in the country.
SCIUTTO: Exactly and that same for me. I had the Pfizer one and I have a little soreness in the arm. But otherwise I feel like my old self.
Dr. Leana Wen, thanks very much to you.
WEN: Thank you, you too.
SCIUTTO: Coming up next, how Florida Republicans are responding to protests surrounding the killing of George Floyd? Why critics say it could criminalize what were peaceful demonstrations.
SCIUTTO: As the trial of Derek Chauvin unfolds, Florida Republicans are in the middle of advancing a controversial anti-riot bill. It's a prerogative of Governor Ron DeSantis, and it's his party's answer to last year's Black Lives Matter protests spawned, of course by the killing of George Floyd. Critics say defines riots far too broadly, and could end up criminalizing legitimate public protests.
"360's" Randi Kaye has the details.
GENEE TINSLEY, VOLUNTEER, FREEDOM FIGHTERS 4 JUSTICE: I definitely think it's unnecessary, I definitely think is anti-protest, anti-Black Lives Matter. And it's not for the people.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Genee Tinsley is talking about Florida's anti-rioting bill, officially known as HB1. As a peaceful protest or here, she's been watching the bill's progress. It passed the House on March 26th after several hours of spirited debate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seventy- six days, 39 days Mr. Speaker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show the bill passes.
KAYE (voice-over): And soon the Senate will take it up. If it passes, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is eager to sign it into law.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you are involved in a violent or disorderly assembly and you harm somebody. If you throw a brick and hit a police officer. You're going to jail.
KAYE (voice-over): That tough talk is exactly what has Genee concerned.
TINSLEY: It gives police more power to potentially abuse it for them to define or decide what is a riot. KAYE (voice-over): Critics say the bill so broadly defines a riot that even peaceful protesters may get caught up in arrest. State Attorney Andrew Warren argues the bill criminalizes peaceful protests.
ANDREW WARREN, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY, 13TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT: The problem with that is if you have 100 people at a protest, and three of them decide to commit a crime. Under this bill, the other 97 are guilty of rioting just for being there.
KAYE (voice-over): The bills co-sponsor Republican Representative Anthony Sabatini says that's not the way it's designed.
REP. ANTHONY SABATINI (R-FL): You're not going to see people who aren't breaking the law dealt with, like as if they were violent protesters.
KAYE (voice-over): The bill includes a mandatory six month sentence for those convicted of battery on police. It also bans the practice of blocking roadways during protests and prohibits the demolition of memorials or statues. And for people arrested for riot related offenses, the bill requires they be held in jail without bail until their first court hearing.
DESANTIS: These are all scraggly looking, you know, Antifa types. They get their mugshot taken, and then they get released. And it's like a carousel on and on it goes. That's not going to happen here in Florida.
KAYE (voice-over): The bill was announced last September.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: Black lives matter.
KAYE (voice-over): Following a summer of nationwide protests in response to the death of George Floyd.
SABATINI: It was George Floyd's death that spawned those instances of behavior, but it's just a matter of time before another political event spawns different -- the same behavior for a different cause.
KAYE (voice-over): Sabatini says Florida needs more tools to crack down non-violent protesters. But State Attorney Andrew Warren disagrees.
WARREN: This anti-protest bill is an unconstitutional waste of time that tears a couple quarters off the constitution by encroaching on free speech and free assembly. It doesn't even help prosecutors. We already have the tools we need to prosecute people who commit rioting.
KAYE (voice-over): Some see racial undertones in the bill too.
TINSLEY: It targets definitely black people, people that are, you know, wanting change.
KAYE (voice-over): Sabatini, the co-sponsor says the bill doesn't target any specific group.
SABATINI: It is a racially and politically neutral bill and we're going to keep it that way.
SCIUTTO: Randi Kaye joins us now. Randi, I want to get to the root cause here because were the protest, the Floyd protests in Florida, actually that violent, therefore warranting a new law like this?
KAYE: Yes. Well, Jim, it really depends on who you ask. The co- sponsors of the bill say absolutely. But that State Attorney we spoke with says definitely not. And he points to one night in Tampa, in Hillsborough County where his offices he says one night things got out of control. There were some rioting and looting and neither was somebody burned down to sporting good stories that that person is now charged and pleaded guilty. And he's prosecuting that person. He also said he's prosecuting another 120 people in crimes from that one night.
So, his point is, is that they don't need any more laws that they have enough tools right now here in place in Florida to do their job. So, we'll see. We don't have a date when the Senate is going to take this up yet. But that is a Republican majority in the Florida Senate here. So we'll see what happens. They do expect it to pass.
SCIUTTO: The state legislators they have a lot of power. Randi Kaye, thanks very much.
And still to come tonight, the very different look and tone to President Biden's cabinet. What their first meeting says about this administration and the last one when we continue.
SCIUTTO: President Biden held his first cabinet meeting today a complete 180 from the previous four years, no constant fawning over the president. Everything about it was different. To start the diversity as many women as men and more non-white attendees than white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American all represented.
It was also very COVID conscious. Unlike traditional cabinet meetings, this one took place in the East Room rather than the Cabinet Room, because it's bigger due to social distancing constraints.
Well, the news continues. So let's hit it right over to my good pal, Chris, for a show called "CUOMO PRIMETIME."