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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

G.O.P. Representatives Gaetz and Greene Appearing Together in Florida; Texas Poised to Enact Voting Restrictions as Trump's Big Lie Grips Republicans Nationwide; Rep. Stefanik Backs Controversial G.O.P.-Sanctioned Recount of 2020 Election Ballots in Arizona; Federal Grand Jury Returns Indictments Against Four Former Officers Civil Rights Charges. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 7, 2021 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[20:00:00]

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: The Chinese rocket, of course, isn't the only concern. The European Space Agency -- well, I mean this weekend, hopefully it is -- but the European Space Agency says there's currently more than 129 million objects orbiting Earth larger than a millimeter. Most of those would burn up coming into Earth, but when you're traveling at speeds of up to 35,000 miles an hour, there's danger in the skies.

Thanks for watching. It's time now for Anderson.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening. Welcome to a very weird night. John Berman here, in for Anderson, and we end this week, possibly the last full week that Liz Cheney has a voice in the Republican leadership, with their party fully embracing the man who never won a popular vote, was impeached twice and is incredibly unpopular according to all polls.

And not only embracing him, but his violent rhetoric and conspiracies as well.

This is today's G.O.P., to quote Liz Cheney in her op-ed in "The Washington Post" this week, "a dangerous and anti-democratic cult of personality." Just today the Congresswoman who may replace Cheney in leadership, Elise Stefanik, continued her rounds on far-right media with the sort of message a Congresswoman with a moderate voting record has to preach in today's party.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): We need fighters. President Trump is a fighter on behalf of the American people. And voters want fighters to stand up for them and that's what I'm committed to doing, to unify the message, to earn the support of our Republican colleagues and fight for hardworking American families.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now, it's not necessarily a bad thing to be a fighter in politics, it can be a good thing. It's the fight this party wants to have that are the problem.

Stefanik herself in that same interview, and for the second day running on far-right radio said she backed the Arizona -- and we use this term loosely -- "audit."

A giant black hole of crazy that lacks any kind of transparency but has pulled the Republican Party into its orbit despite questions about the auditor and shifting standards.

And wait until we tell you about the new bamboo theory around the audit. I'm not kidding.

And it would be funny if it weren't dangerous. Arizona Secretary of State who has pushed back on the audit now needs extra security provided by the state because the death threats against her are, quote, "pouring in," according to her press secretary. Nice, huh?

And this is all because of the big lie that is now the price of entry into Republican leadership, which by the way, the former President tried to push again today in a statement about two states he lost.

But the statement is so oingo-boingo we are not even going to show it to you. Everybody is in on this thing.

Two other big so-called fighters for the former President, two Members of Congress, Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are on tour right now.

Just a short time ago in Florida, they kicked off their America First tour, weeks after Greene had to scuttle an America First Caucus that was going to promote Anglo-Saxon political traditions, and a lot of other nativist crap.

Gaetz is under Federal investigation after a series of potentially career-ending allegations and Greene, well, her name is now synonymous with Jewish space lasers, thanks to a history of bigoted comments and outlandish conspiracy theories.

And that is where we start this broadcast, again, welcome to a very weird Friday night.

Randi Kaye is in The Villages in Florida with the latest on this America First tour. Randi, what did Representative Gaetz have to say?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, he is still talking actually, he made a speech and Marjorie Taylor Greene made a speech and then the two of them came back on stage together and they have been sitting there together, just sort of bashing the media in this very casual conversation with the people who showed up here today.

But this is the America First tour, and I can't -- I lost count actually how many times Matt Gaetz said Donald Trump's name as he started out. He immediately went to talk about crowd sizes, that the only other person who could have had a crowd this large would have been Donald Trump. He said that there were a thousand people waiting outside. He did talk

about Liz Cheney. He said there's a lot of angry cowgirls in Wyoming at her.

He spoke about voter integrity and so that is going to be a big part of the tour. But he did nod to the allegations that he is facing in terms of the alleged prostitution, sex with the --

BERMAN: We just seem to lose Randi Kaye's feed inside that rally where Matt Gaetz is currently speaking, Marjorie Taylor Greene did as well.

Randi Kaye, our thanks to you for that.

Another big fight Republicans want to have in the wake of the former President's election loss -- voting laws. Today, Texas advanced a bill on new voting limits and Democrats were successful in getting several of their amendments included.

Ed Lavandera is in Austin, Texas, with the latest. Ed, why don't you go into detail about what this new law says?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now as it stands, there are a couple of different versions of this bill and it is going through the legislation process of essentially reconciling all of those differences, but broadly speaking, what is contained in these measures is a curtailing of early voting hours, prohibitions on election officials being able to mail out unsolicited mail-in ballots.

[20:05:17]

LAVANDERA: It can affect where ballot drop boxes are located in various counties, and one of the provisions that is most startling to many voting rights activists is that it goes a long way in expanding the ability of partisan poll watchers in what they can and can't do at polling locations.

I'm not talking about the election site workers, I'm talking about partisan poll watchers being able to examine and essentially get closer to voters as they are casting their ballots if there is concern about what kind of questions are being asked or what might be going on.

This is one of those issues that the voting rights activists have been pointing toward as one of the most troubling things, and already, Democratic lawmakers here in Texas, as it became clear that the House was about to pass its version of the bill this afternoon, this is how they reacted, already threatening to take all of this to court.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREY MARTINEZ FISCHER (D), TEXAS STATE HOUSE: You have your vote, you have your majority. But guess what? I look forward to seeing you in Federal Court.

From what I know from my days of voting rights in this chamber, you may have the vote today, but we are all equal in Federal Court and history is on our side and 10 is on our side, so please do not delete any e-mails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAVANDERA: John, Republicans are saying this is to protect the integrity of the ballot, but the ACLU says this is one of the worst voting restriction laws that is being considered across the state right now -- John.

BERMAN: So what happens next, Ed? Does it go back to the Texas Senate and when might Governor Greg Abbott sign this?

LAVANDERA: Right, so it goes back to the Senate side of this. They have to come to, you know, Democrats on the House side felt that they were able to tone down some of the most restrictive language, but all of that can come right back up once the Senate gets its hands on it again.

So, then it might have to go to a conference committee where all of those details are hammered out. But the bottom line here, John is, Republicans control both sides of the legislature. They have the governor's mansion, it is very clear that this is moving toward the Governor's mansion and toward the Governor for signing who has already signaled that he would sign it.

But we should be crystal clear here. This is all happening, as one Democrat said, Republicans are finding -- are fighting a phantom in this issue. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the last election and Democrats saying that these are Republicans simply trying to suppress voter turnout across the state, especially in the bigger urban areas that have trended Democrat for the last several cycles now,

BERMAN: Ed Lavandera for us in Austin. Ed, we appreciate you.

For perspective on what these changes mean, we speak to former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, who says he is considering a run for Governor in Texas in 2022. Congressman, I know there are amendments and other steps to go through here, but just generally speaking, what's the significance of this step today where Texas is headed?

BETO O'ROURKE (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So at about 3:00 a.m., this morning, the Texas House passed S.B. 7, which is an extensive voter suppression bill that would make it even harder to vote in a state that's already the toughest to vote in in the United States.

It still has to be conferenced with a Senate version of the bill, but it can be as early as the next two weeks that you have final passage, and it's on Governor Greg Abbott's desk for signature.

And then you have a state that is 43rd in the nation in voter turnout, the toughest to vote in, a place that will be even harder, especially for young people, African Americans, the disabled and the very old and those who live in big cities in Texas. Those are the populations that were targeted by this voter suppression bill. BERMAN: You know, we see obviously in Congress the effect that Trump's

big lie is having, and now we see in state after state, passing these new laws, these new voter restrictions, I wonder how deep or how widespread the former President's big lie on the election has gone in Texas?

O'ROURKE: It's pervasive throughout the country. Everywhere that you have Republican leadership in America, you have those who are trafficking in the big lie.

We saw it in its most violent form on the sixth of January when the United States Capitol was successfully stormed for the first time since the War of 1812. You see it in more than 47 state legislatures where there are 360 voter suppression bills pending to root out voter fraud that statistically does not exist in this country.

But make no mistake, this is going to make it a lot harder for a lot more people to vote. And now our attention and our hope turns to the Federal government.

[20:10:13]

O'ROURKE: We need the United States Senate to pass the For the People Act. It would do more than anything else to stop what's happening in Georgia, what's happening in Texas and Kansas and Arizona, and so much of the rest of the country and make it far easier for eligible voters to cast a ballot. That's what we need right now.

BERMAN: You may think you need that, but there's no sign that you have the votes in the U.S. Senate to get that, and you see state after state in Republican control passing these new laws. I know there's some people who have hope for the courts, but the courts have a lot of newly appointed Republican appointees sitting on the bench right now.

So given all that, what can Democrats really do? What can you really do about this?

O'ROURKE: I really think when those senators, especially the Democratic senators, look at what's happening in state after state to our democracy, a democracy that's under attack, not just in the state legislatures, but as we saw on January 6th, in our U.S. Capitol, when they realize the gravity of the situation, I think they are going to meet this moment by doing what is required of them, not for their party, but for our country and our democracy. So I still think that we can do that.

But the other thing, John, is that we absolutely have to win elections going forward. This is what happens when we lose. There's a trifecta of Republican power in Texas, and allows them to run roughshod, not only over Democrats, but over millions of voters in this state.

So 2022 is an incredibly important midterm, not just for our party, but for our democracy.

BERMAN: I have one more question. It's not Texas based, but I think it is representative of what is going on? Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican when he signed the Florida bill into law, similar to the Texas bill, he didn't do it in public. He did it in a FOX News exclusive -- a FOX New exclusive.

So what does that tell you?

O'ROURKE: It's interesting, when you look at where the Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp signed their voter suppression legislation, it was in a closed room with other white men under a picture of a plantation and literally an African-American legislator was dragged off in cuffs by the police for trying to witness that.

You have Ron DeSantis giving an exclusive to FOX News to witness that, and here in Texas, the legislation passed at 3:00 a.m. this morning, when literally everyone is asleep and no one is watching.

They do not want us to know what they're doing to our democracy and that is why it's so important for us to make sure that we reach people on TV, through the internet and at their doors when we go to register them and explain to them what is happening to them and their ability to vote in the next election. I think that's what it's going to take for us to overcome it.

BERMAN: Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke, I do appreciate your time. Thanks so much for joining us this evening.

O'ROURKE: Thank you.

BERMAN: We have rescued Randi Kaye from the TV ether. Her shot is back up from The Villages in Florida with the latest on this rally with Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene. So Randi, if you can hear us, what did Gaetz say?

KAYE: He said quite a bit as I mentioned, I'm not sure where you lost me there, but he talked quite a bit about Donald Trump. But he also did make the nod to the allegations that he is facing, the allegations of prostitution and sex with a minor.

He said that I'm a marked man in Congress and cancelled in parts of the internet. And then he tried to make light of it given that today is his birthday. He said that some of the headlines would be that Matt Gaetz has a wild party with the beautiful women here in The Villages, which happens to be a retirement community. So he was trying to make light of the allegations against him.

But he did talk quite a bit about Donald Trump. He repeated many times that Donald Trump is the undisputed leader of the Republican Party. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): We have never abandoned Trump and he has never abandoned America. He is still fighting for us. He will continue to fight for us and we're going to have his back when he does.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KAYE: So now, the two of them are on stage. They're talking quite a

bit about the media. In fact, they took a page out of Donald Trump's book by pointing the crowd towards the media. They all pointed their fingers at us and they've continued to bash the media throughout the night talking about leaks and lies that are spread by the media -- John.

BERMAN; So what about Marjorie Taylor Greene?

KAYE: She spoke. She came out before Matt Gaetz did. She sounded pretty hopeful when she started that they're going to bring hope back to America. They're going to put America first. That's the title of the tour.

But then it just took about two seconds for her to start asking the crowd who the President is, and everyone here of course, shouted "Donald Trump." So she was right away just spreading the big lie once again.

She told the crowd that you're being controlled by the government who wants to take away your freedoms. She plans to impeach Joe Biden, she says and stop the spread of socialism, and she wants to get back to America first and stop globalism.

Here's what she had to say.

[20:15:10]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): We are coming out strong and we are coming out very loud and very proud and we are coming out like we did for President Trump at all of these rallies because we have a message for the Democrats and the fake news media.

You are not going to destroy our country. You are not going to shame us for being proud American patriots. You are not going to put us down for loving President Trump and what he did for the past four years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: Now you can hear the crowd here, John. Now they've just stopped cheering "U.S.A." but it's really the only way to describe this, it has been a love fest between Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene. They are fast friends. They have the same mission to put America first and it sounds like to get Donald Trump re-elected once again in 2024.

BERMAN: Randi Kaye, we appreciate you being there. Thank you very much.

Just ahead tonight, more on the Republican fight over voting laws and what one observer of the Arizona audit says is a hunt for bamboo in the ballots. It's insane and you'll definitely want to hear all about it.

And later, legal analysis of those new Federal indictments handed down today for the officers including Derek Chauvin involved in the death of George Floyd. How his conviction may affect them all when 360 continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: As we mentioned before the break, the Congresswoman whose fealty to the former President has made her the odds on favorite to replace Liz Cheney in the Republican House leadership said again today she agrees for the so-called audit in Arizona, the same day that the Office of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs who has questioned the validity of this endeavor says that death threats against her are quote, "pouring in." She now has a full security detail.

Both Hobbs and the Justice Department have raised questions about the conduct of this recount in the state's largest county. One person observing the process spoke to a local CBS affiliate. He says that one accusation they are investigating is whether there is bamboo in the ballots. Here's why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's accusations that 40,000 ballots were flown in --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To Arizona?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Into Arizona, and it was stuffed into the box. Okay and it came from the southeast part of the world, Asia. Okay. And what they're doing is to find out if there's bamboo in the paper.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So we should point out he was not endorsing this accusation, just explaining it. We should also point out it is freaking bonkers.

Some much needed perspective on all the voting fights going on now from Chris Krebs, a former top cyber security official at the Department of Homeland Security and a partner at the Krebs-Stamos Group.

So, Chris, you see what's happening in Texas and Florida with these election bills, but this situation in Arizona's Maricopa County, man, this is something completely different. There are security flaws in the audit process itself. The Justice Department has issued a warning the audit could be in violation of Federal voting and Civil Rights laws. What do you make it all?

CHRISTOPHER KREBS, PARTNER, KREBS-STAMOS GROUP: Well, John, first, I'd be careful in characterizing this as an audit. The Arizona Senate, the Republicans, at least in the Senate may want to call this an audit, but in no way does it comply with standard audit practice that are performed by election administration officials across the country.

So this is not an audit, it's not a recount. It is a -- just one more performative politic play by those that are carrying on the big lie from last fall. BERMAN: So CNN is reporting tonight that Arizona's Secretary of State,

Katie Hobbs has received death threats amid her criticism of this audit. I'll put it in air quotes there.

You've had security concerns of your own after you vouched for the election's integrity. How worried should people be that this sort of thing is happening in the United States?

KREBS: Well, it's -- I think this is the tragedy or one of the many tragedies of the last several months is that we have, again, professionals that are doing their jobs. They were elected, Katie -- Secretary Hobbs was elected to do this job. This is in fact the second time that she has received death threats and the Governor has had to deploy security controls.

But it is ultimately going to have a chilling effect, and I think we're already starting to see that and election officials are retiring at a historic rate. And there's a legitimate question about whether we're going to have enough election officials in the next cycle to actually administer elections.

But ultimately, again, it's a national tragedy, that we have individuals that are just trying to help everyone, help us as citizens perform our most sacred duty and that's to vote and they get threatened in death threats. It's just -- it is downright un-American.

BERMAN: So as we mentioned, one of the people behind this audit again in air quotes says that workers are inspecting ballots with special cameras to see if there are any traces of bamboo in them -- bamboo, because of this completely baseless, wacko conspiracy theory that 40,000 ballots were somehow smuggled to Arizona from Asia and because of that, somehow there would be bamboo in them. What's your reaction to that?

KREBS: It's just -- it's beyond belief, right? I mean, well, first off, it's flat out racist that because it comes from Southeast Asia, it's got to have bamboo. I mean, it's insanity.

[20:25:13]

KREBS: But more broadly, it's just a continuation of the asymmetric nature of the big lie, and that they can throw a thousand different claims that are incoherent, that make no sense whatsoever, and ultimately, they're not trying to convince you that in fact, there's bamboo, they are trying to confuse, they're trying to undermine confidence.

And so then they run back to the one person that they all believe in and that's former President Trump that he can continue the narrative that it's a stolen election.

So this is just a continuation of really what started even years ago that this election would be rigged. And then it was, you know, fraudulent ballots, and all of that.

So we have to figure out a way to move past this and it starts with the former guy, the former President just coming clean and admitting if it's even within his character, that he lost a fight fair and square.

BERMAN: Chris, I was talking to the Republican Secretary of State from Washington a few days ago who said, no matter what happens in Maricopa County, it set this dangerous precedent, where now, forevermore, people will think they have a right to these partisan recounts, these partisan audits after fair elections.

KREBS: I think that's right. You know, never mind, the fact that states all over the country already conduct transparent bipartisan audits both before, during and after elections and those have just been tossed by the wayside apparently, in Arizona.

I mean, look at what happened in Georgia where they counted the vote three times and got to the same result. You know, I think, really one of my fears here, and I think a number of other election officials share it is that they're going to manufacture some anomaly in Arizona that they're going to export to other states, like Georgia, or Michigan or Wisconsin, and try to conduct the same sort of, you know, whatever this is in Arizona, and it's just -- it's unfortunate.

The big losers here, above all, though, are us the voters because what it's doing is casting a pretty long shadow over confidence in American elections, and it's going to take a long time, I think to recover and restore confidence.

BERMAN: Chris Krebs, we appreciate your time. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.

KREBS: Thanks, John.

BRZEZINSKI: Up next, why a Federal grand jury has indicted Derek Chauvin and three former Minneapolis officers in connection with the death of George Floyd.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:31:26]

BERMAN: A federal grand jury Minneapolis is indicted for former city police officers including Derek Chauvin in connection with the death of George Floyd alleging the officers violated Floyd's civil rights. This comes after Chevron was found guilty of murdering Floyd in almost a year after his death triggered protests around the nation. The grand jury also charged Chauvin and a separate incident in which he allegedly used unreasonable force out of Minneapolis 14-year-old in 2017, by allegedly holding the teen by the throat and striking his head multiple times with a flashlight.

Joining me now, CNN legal analyst Areva Martin, a civil rights attorney in Elie Honig a CNN senior legal analyst and a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York.

Areva, Derek Chauvin obviously, you know, awaiting sentencing at this point. He's in prison right now awaiting sentencing, the other officers had to stand trial on the state level already. So, in light of that, how significant are these federal charges?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: These charges are very significant, John. One, they send a very serious message that the federal government has an interest in the death of George Floyd. And we know that Merrick Garland made a commitment to pursue charges, civil rights charges against officers to hold them accountable. And this is a big step towards that commitment that the Department of Justice now the Attorney General made. And not only as you said is Chauvin facing civil rights violations with respect to George Floyd, the Justice Department is looking back to 2017 for an incident involving a 14- year-old.

I think what's so disturbing about the indictment involving the 14- year-old is that the Minneapolis Police Department obviously knew what happened to that 14-year-old boy, but yet Derek Shogun was allowed to remain on that forced, to remain on the streets, to remain patrolling the streets of Minneapolis. And then we see him engage in very similar conduct as it relates to George Ford.

So this is a big day, in terms of the Justice Department sending a message that police accountability is the order of the day.

BERMAN: Elie, we saw a lot of evidence and witnesses during the show of in state trial, how much of that might resurface in the federal case? And would you expect any sort of different evidence presented in the civil rights case?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, John. So as Areva just laid out the charges in this federal case are actually technically legally different than the state charges. The state charges were combinations of murder and manslaughter charges as we remember from the Chauvin trial. Here, federally, the charges relate to deprivation of civil rights.

However, the bottom line factual questions are going to be similar. Did Derek Chauvin use excessive force? Did that excessive force medically caused George Floyd's death? The additional question here in this federal case will be was there a deprivation of civil rights with respect to the three other officers the way this has been charged is that they deprive George Floyd of a civil rights by failing to intervene, by failing to stop Derek Chauvin from putting his knee on the neck which is interesting and a different theory than the states using and with respect to all four officers, that they failed to give him medical aid. That is count three of this indictment that's also theoretically distinct from the state charges.

So, the bottom line facts here will be largely the same, but the legal questions will be a bit different.

BERMAN: Any harder to prove Elie?

HONIG: Yes, it is, because this idea that the violation is based on an affirmative duty to intervene is very different than what we saw in the state case. For example, in the state case, the three other officers Thao, Kueng and Lane are charged with aiding and abetting, meaning with helping Derek Chauvin commit that murder. That's not what they're charged with here. They're charged with failing to intervene, failing to render medical aid that's a bit of a higher bar that the feds need to clear.

[20:35:01]

BERMAN: So Areva, what does the fact of these charges the existence of them tell you about the Merrick Garland lead Justice Department, and perhaps tell you about how issues surrounding police violence will be handled going forward?

MARTIN: It tells us John that there's a big pivot away from how the Justice Department was run under Donald Trump. We know that Donald Trump's Justice Department retreated from these kinds of cases, they had a policy, an affirmative policy not to intervene, or they believe that somehow it was a not the province of the Department of Justice to oversee what happened at the state level and at the local policing level.

What we see under the Biden Department of Justice and Merrick Garland is a very different approach more akin to the approach under Eric Holder and President Obama, that says police officers, police departments have to be held accountable, not just at the state level, and not just with state prosecutions, but with federal civil rights prosecutions.

And we should note, John, that not only are there indictments against the four officers involved in George Floyd's murder, there is a complaint that has been filed in terms of a pattern and practice investigation that's going to take place with respect to that Minneapolis Police Department as well.

BERMAN: Elie, talk to me about the sequencing of the additional state trials, also the appeal in the state trial and the federal cases. Do you think that this is something that the federal prosecutors would want to take all the way to trial? Or is there a chance maybe for playing out?

HONIG: Yes. So, a lot of moving parts here, John, the next thing that's going to happen is the state trial of the three other officers that set for August. Now, this changes the strategic calculus a bit, I think, for both sides. If you're on the defendant's side, now, you're thinking, wow, we've got to win our state cases. And Derek Chauvin of course, has already been convicted. And then we have to beat these federal cases, it's already hard enough for a defendant to get a not guilty verdict, a healthy majority of cases that go to trial result in guilty verdict. And if you get convicted at trial here, as one of these defendants, you're going away for decades.

So, there may be some incentive for these defendants to come to the table and say, how can we plead to all these charges at once we call it a global plea deal, wrap it up and sort of cap our top line exposure. If prosecutors are looking at this case, they have to understand that the case against the other three defendants is not going to be as strong as the case against Chauvin. That's just reality. And so, prosecutors may have some incentive here to talk about a potential plea with the other three as well. BERMAN: Areva Martin and Elie Honig, great to see you both. And I thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thanks John.

BERMAN (voice-over): So, heads up. A chunk of Chinese rocket is hurtling towards Earth. It's only hours away from re entry. The question is, where will it land? The latest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:41:25]

BERMAN: There will be a lot of nervous eyes looking to the sky this weekend. Part of a Chinese rocket as big as a 10-storey building is expected to plunge down to Earth as early as Saturday, but where? More now from CNN's David Culver.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What goes up must come down. The question is where? Scientists say they will not know the exact entry point of the 22-ton Chinese rocket until it's so close it's only hours away from re entry. Experts say don't panic. This is not like the Hollywood blockbusters where the impact of something from outer space threatens to end the world. But uncontrolled space junk crashing back to Earth is a growing concern.

What's expected to hit Earth this weekend is the empty core of a rocket that's been losing orbit since its launch, much of which should burn up in the atmosphere. But some pieces could get through like last year, when the largest piece of space debris in 30 years landed in the Atlantic Ocean and over parts of Africa, remnants of a similar Chinese rocket.

JONATHAN MCDOWELL, HARVARD-SMITHSONIAN CENTER FOR ASTROPHYSICS: The Chinese have this new type of rocket called the Long March 5B. And unlike other big rockets, it literally space by leaving its big 20-ton core stage in orbit. American rockets, Russian rockets, European rockets don't do that.

CULVER (voice-over): Chinese state media says the risk of it hitting a populated area are low and suggested may fall in international waters or burn up on re entry, a fair guess since more than 70% of the planet is covered in water. The United States is tracking its course and says right now it has no plans to shoot it down. But with a cloud of 9,000 tons of rocket boosters, dead satellites and other hardware floating above. There are growing calls for more regulation of what gets sent up to space and how it returns.

GEN. WILLIAM SHELTON, FMR COMMANDER, U.S. SPACE COMMAND: As we think about launching thousands of objects into low Earth orbit here. We need norms of behavior so that everybody's playing off the same sheet of music, and everybody is focused on safety of flight. We just don't have that sort of thing by now. CULVER (voice-over): Until then, all eyes are on this guy's this weekend with the questions of when, where and how much debris will fall still up in the air.

David Culver, CNN Shanghai.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Joining us now for more insight into this falling rocket is astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium and author of Cosmic Queries Star Talks Guide To Who We Are, And How We Got Here And Where We're Going.

On that subject Neil, you heard David Culver, when, where and how much are the questions of this hour for the Chinese rocket? Why hardest -- why it's so hard for scientists to pin this down?

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST: Oh, because the -- this piece of debris is not sort of a perfectly model Hubble spherical object. And when you have something that is highly angled, and highly non- aerodynamic, you have no idea especially going at the speeds that it does. You have no idea where it will ultimately land until it's kind of till you're close enough to that ultimate point where you say, OK, now I got this. But until then, the tumbling object becomes very hard to predict.

BERMAN: One of the things that I think is most interesting about the discussion here is the difference between the fact that it's incredibly unlikely that anyone will be hurt by this. And the fact that it's a nonzero chance, though, that someone could be hurt by this. So, you know, explain that.

TYSON: Well, so, as was noted in the graphic, more than 70% of our surface is water, so you're doing good there and half of all the world's population lives in cities hovered together around very small pockets of area around on Earth surface. And so much of what his land is uninhabited. You know, so much of Siberia and central China, and you know, the Pacific, the southwest and Canada. So, you -- and the outback of Australia. So, it is true that the chances of getting hit are very low.

[20:45:24]

But that there's a bigger question here is if you're going to send things up into space, and you know they're going to come back, you want to have a controlled re entry, not an uncontrolled re entry. And it's not that hard to do. One-third of all longitudes is spanned by the Pacific Ocean, that's the great toilet bowl of the space program. All right? You can you can do orbit something with very high uncertainties and just land it there in the ocean and not hurt anybody. And that's not what the Chinese have been doing.

BERMAN: Why? I mean, that was my very next question. This is a an uncontrolled re entry. Why is it that the Chinese now have a very active space for ram (ph) keep designing it this way? TYSON: Yes, I can't get inside people's heads, I don't know. But it won't be the first country who had something, fall back to Earth in an uncontrolled way. I'm old enough to remember Skylab that fell out of the sky in an uncontrolled way and ended up scattered, if I remember correctly in the Australian outback. And it didn't quite make it into the Pacific Ocean.

So -- but if you know in advance that you're going to have a piece of hardware that's got to come back. And in this case, just imagine a Greyhound bus falling out of the sky. Yes, it is true. We expect a lot of that to burn up. But pieces within pieces and denser bits, no, they're not going to burn up.

And so, this is part of the precautions we're going to need to take. But really what it says is as we go into space, and space becomes this domain, this international domain, we need international cooperation to keep space clean. Otherwise, he can't conduct business there. You're not playing well in the sandbox. And that's a problem.

BERMAN: It's pretty big sandbox, but you keep putting big things up there. It could get dangerous very quickly as the Chinese space program accelerates. Is there a chance we'll see more of this?

TYSON: Yes, unless they do something about it. And by the way, the last booster that puts your object into orbit, it is also in orbit. And so, that needs fuel to slow it down in a controlled way. And that's what all nations have to end up making sure that their boosters have. And SpaceX there to -- their initial booster, they stick the landing each time. There's still a later booster that burns up in the atmosphere later.

But yes, you got to aim for the Pacific. If not, you got to get out of the sandbox.

BERMAN: Neil deGrasse Tyson, we really appreciate talking to you. Thank you so much.

TYSON: OK. Thank you.

BERMAN (voice-over): Up next what President Biden had to say about the dismal jobs report issued today? We'll check in with the White House when we continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:51:56]

BERMAN: A dismal jobs report released today, just 266,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in April. Now, normally, that might not be bad, it might even be good. But it is far, far less than the million or maybe even more jobs that economists have predicted. And the unemployment rate rose to 6.1%.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House for us tonight. Kaitlan, how's the White House responding to these numbers? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Biden is saying it's all about perspective. He is talking about the deep hole that was created by the pandemic, of course, it's an economical hole. And President Biden is saying it's going to take some time to climb out of that. And I think what you've heard so much from him -- from the President and his White House aides today is the word volatility. And they believe maybe this is temporary. They're hoping this is just a one month change aberration and what's been going on and what's the -- well, we've been seeing the trends from January, February, and March.

And so, that's what they're really counting on, saying it's an unpredictable time. It's an unpredictable period. And that's why you saw such a drastic drop off and what actually happened today, and what was the expectation from economists, which, of course, is that this was going to be about a million jobs instead of the 266,000 that we got. And so, they are hoping it's an aberration.

And so, President Biden was saying today, you know, look at the jobs that have been created since I took office 1.5 million jobs. That's where we're headed. We're still working on this. But he was saying it is a long road to that recovery.

BERMAN: Some Republicans and conservative economists suggest that the enhanced unemployment, enhanced and extended unemployment benefits work as a disincentive dissuades people who are out of work from trying to get a new job. What does the White House say about that?

COLLINS: Well, President Biden pushed back on that specifically, he was calling it loose talk earlier today when he was addressing this grim jobs report here at the White House. And he was saying that they looked at the data. So to the treasury secretary, his top economic aides, they don't see evidence that this is actually what's causing out of work Americans to stay home, this enhanced unemployment benefit that he had extended when he signed that COVID-19 relief bill, in March, it gives people an additional $300 per week, and they said that looking at where people are coming back into the workforce, and, you know, the travel and leisure industry, that is a sign they believe that this is not what's causing people to stay how many said that this is proof that people are still out there looking for work.

But I do think this is posing a challenge to the White House kind of a test of their strategy to revive the economy and what it's actually going to look like because you are hearing this from Republicans and critics of this administration, but you're also hearing it from other experts, economic experts who are questioning whether or not this is something that needs to change. And that includes people who are on the ground involved in this, business owners who are saying we need to come up with a solution where people can keep the unenhanced or the enhanced unemployment benefits, but they need to be encouraged to come back to work. Keep that even if they do come back to work and commit to coming back to work for the rest of the year.

So, what the solution on that actually looks like it remains to be seen. This is something that's underway under discussion here at the White House. I think they're really waiting to see is this a pattern or is this a one off really, John.

BERMAN: It makes the June numbers very much more important. Kaitlan Collins -

[20:55:02]

COLLINS: Yes.

BERMAN: Thanks so much. Nice to see you.

(voice-over): Coming up, one groundbreaking album and 50 years later, it's inspiring a new generation of activists. A preview of Don Lemon special report, "WHAT'S GOING ON MARVIN GAYE'S ANTHEM FOR THE AGES." Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: This Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern, join CNN's Don Lemon for a look at Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking album What's Going On, nearly 50 years after its release. Hear from those who knew him best and others inspired by his work including Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Spike Lee, and see why it has become an anthem for a new generation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking What's Going On.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the first time that I understood poetry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This when a great album ever made.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His melodies were like a voice of (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He created something that lasts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifty years later. Why is it an anthem for a new generation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's prophecy man.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on-camera): What do you think Marvin will think about what's going on?

[21:00:04]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN SPECIAL REPORT: "WHAT'S GOING ON MARVIN GAYE'S ANTHEM FOR THE AGES," Sunday at 8:00.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Cannot wait to see that. So the news continues. Want to hand it over to Michael Smerconish, who's in the anchor chair tonight for "CUOMO PRIMETIME."