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Manhunt Underway For At Least Three Suspects In Florida Club Shooting, Two Killed And 21 Shot; Texas Democrats Stage Walkout To Block Voting Restriction Bill; Interview With Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava; Michael Flynn Appears To Suggest A Myanmar-Style Coup Should Happen In U.S.; How The Fight Against COVID Has Changed Since Last Memorial Day. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 31, 2021 - 20:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: We are, and tonight we remember them. Thank you so much for joining us. "AC360" starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. At the end of a consequential Memorial Day weekend, this is, after all, not just the unofficial start of summer, it could also be the beginning of the end to COVID as a daily all-encompassing part of our lives and we can certainly hope so.

We begin though with breaking news in the search for three people who opened fire at a concert venue outside Miami over the weekend. Two people were killed, 21 others wounded; and just a short time ago, we learned authorities have a key new piece of evidence to work with. CNN's Leyla Santiago joins us now. So Leyla, what's the latest?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, investigators found the SUV that was connected to this shooting, this key piece of evidence now helping them to kind of piece together that puzzle.

It was found about 10 miles away from the shooting in a canal, submerged. And it had actually been reported missing or stolen rather, in mid-May.

Now all of this, as after police released a surveillance video earlier today in which they showed what happened before the shooting took place. You see a Nissan Pathfinder arrive about three -- three individuals who come out armed and then run right back over to the car.

Now what you don't see is how young the crowd was at that concert venue. A lot of the victims in their 20, those who had been hurt, one person as young as 17. Police saying today that they believe that this was all stemming from an ongoing rival between two groups, even said that there was some sort of back and forth on social media that was also playing a role in this.

Now, a lot of city leaders today spoke out saying that this is despicable, that this is something that was senseless. And even at that press conference, we heard from the father of Clayton Dillard, he actually interrupted the press conference, clearly very distraught, a lot of anger, a lot of pain that he was showing there.

We are at the hospital where some of those who were injured are tonight and I can tell you that there are still family members that are coming and going, just hoping to get news that their loved ones will be okay -- Anderson.

COOPER: Leyla Santiago, we are going to check back in with you shortly for more on this shooting in this active manhunt.

Now a story that has special resonance on this Memorial Day, because it is of course an occasion to honor the sacrifices that so many men and women in uniform have made in the name of America and democracy. More than that, though, when you go back to its original purpose, remembering the Civil War dead, the holiday exists to remind us what happens when the American experiment and democracy nearly fails.

It's a thread that President Biden today pulled during his visit to Arlington National Cemetery.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy itself is imperiled here at home and around the world.

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


COOPER: Today, speaking where Robert E. Lee once lived and owned slaves and tonight on several fronts, there are new signs that the seismic forces that pulled this country apart back then or making themselves felt once again.

This weekend, we heard retired three-star General and former National Security Adviser appear to openly endorse the idea of a military coup. We will bring more details on what he said.

We begin though with the effort to restrict voting in Texas. It is motivated by the same big election lie that fueled the January 6th insurrection, something this General and his followers are apparently now using along with a QAnon fantasy to justify the violent overthrow of democracy.

Now according to the Brennan Center for Justice, between January 1st and May 14th, at least 14 states have enacted 22 new laws restricting access to the vote. There they are on the map and their number could soon triple, at least 61 bills with restrictive provisions are moving through 18 state legislatures, including in Texas until last night.

Last night, Democrats in the State House of Representatives walked out preventing a quorum and a vote on State Senate Bill 7. At midnight, the legislative session expired delaying passage of the measure, at least until Governor Greg Abbott calls lawmakers back for a special session which he says he will.

As for what's in the bill, Texas Republicans deny it is intended to disenfranchise minority voters, especially blacks who vote heavily Democratic. However, it contains a number of provisions that effectively could. The bill outlaws drive up voting and 24-hour voting both used in the highly Democratic Houston area.

It also bars voting before 1:00 p.m. on Sundays, which would effectively kill Souls to the Polls programs which are very popular in black churches.

In addition, the bill makes it harder to drive groups of voters from those churches to polling places, requiring anyone driving more than two non-relatives to submit a signed form stating the reason for providing transportation.


COOPER: And the reason for these and other restrictive measure, well, listen to Texas Republican State Representative Briscoe Cain who chairs the Texas House Election Committee, and has been spearheading the bill.


BRISCOE CAIN (R), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: This isn't about party. This isn't about what happened in D.C. This isn't about 2020 or 2018 or anything before that. This is about instilling confidence in the electorate, so that they feel like what happens in our government and the laws that are made were because they chose so.


COOPER: Keeping them honest, the only reason there is any talk about a lack of confidence in the election regarding the vote is because the former President and his followers have pushed and pushed and pushed the big lie.

Here's what Keith Ingram, the Director of Elections for the State of Texas had to say about the 2020 elections back in March. And I quote, "In spite of all the circumstances, Texas had an election that was smooth and secure. Similarly, there were no widespread irregularities in 2018, not in Texas or anywhere else in the country."

As for Chairman Cain's assertion that this isn't about 2020, well take a look at where he was in 2020, in Philadelphia.


CAIN: We're looking to see if there was any kind of funny business going on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Representative Briscoe Cain is in Philadelphia tonight, interviewing poll workers and watchers. He is volunteering for President Trump's legal team in their historic challenge against election results in the state. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So the guy who says this has nothing to do with 2020 was actually in Philadelphia, which is a long way from Texas where his job is looking for, quote-unquote, "funny business."

But now, he is back home in Texas and just looking as he says, to instill confidence in the electoral process. That's the way these laws are being sold statewide and nationally, as confidence boosters by the same lawmakers working so hard to undermine confidence in the system that's not broken.

The people who have been unfairly undermining the confidence in the electoral process are the very same people now trying to pass laws because they say people don't have confidence in the electoral process.

More now from Ed Lavandera in Dallas. I mean, Ed, we touched on some of this bill. What else can you tell us about -- can you tell us about how this would impact voting in Texas?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a few other measures that you didn't mention there, but there is one that would essentially increase the access that partisan poll watchers would have inside polling locations all across Texas. And there's some provisions in there that essentially would lower the standard for a Judge to overturn the results of an election.

So there's a great deal of concern about those different types of measures that are included in this bill as well. And what is really fascinating is, you know, there's a prominent U.S. Congressman from just north of Austin, Michael McCaul, who told CNN yesterday that he thought essentially, this bill is about optics, not really pointing to any fraud or repetitive fraud, that would be a concern for wanting to pass a bill like this, but simply described it as something that was driven more by optics.

COOPER: I don't quite understand -- I mean, the argument of having voting start at 1:00 p.m., on Sundays, and not before, you know, a lot of Democrats are saying this is clearly targeting successful Souls to the Polls programs, which bring people from churches to polling places, so it is convenient. What is the argument for saying that's -- I mean, what's the problem with that?

LAVANDERA: Well, you know, the way Republicans talk about this bill in the way, you know, the very title of it is a Voter Integrity Bill. So it kind of goes back once again, to essentially creating this atmosphere and talking about this issue as if this bill is simply designed to ensure the integrity, to ensure the confidence that millions of people across the State of Texas might have.

Democrats are saying that this is essentially a bill that is catering to the far right wing of this party. You have Republicans here in this state who are essentially trying to find that where they coalesce with Trump on a national level, you have the Governor of Texas who is facing a primary challenge in his run for re-election next year. So all of these issues really play to the right-wing Republican base,

and many Democrats are saying that that's exactly who they're catering to with these with these measures.

COOPER: Ed Lavandera, appreciate it. Texas State Representative Chris Turner led the walkout. He is Chairman of the Texas House Democratic Caucus. I spoke to him just before air time.


COOPER: Chairman Turner, you sent a text message to every Democrat in the Texas House last night at 10:35, I understand, and it read, "Take your key, leave the chamber discreetly. Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building." Unquote.

How did those walk out strategy come about.


STATE REP. CHRIS TURNER (D-TX): Sure, well, it was in development for several hours and it was one piece of a much larger strategy that had been underway really all day and in the days leading up to yesterday.

You know, big picture, the 67 members of the House Democratic Caucus were united all session long in our efforts to kill Republican efforts to suppress the vote in Texas. And that's what we set out to do to at the beginning of the session, and that's what we ended up doing on the second to the last day of the session yesterday.

And so throughout the course of Sunday, which was the last day for the Texas Legislature to pass bills in the regular session, we had a strategy to delay and slow down Senate Bill 7, this particular vote suppression bill and ultimately kill it.

And we set out to do that by picking up other bills ahead of it, pushing it further closer to the midnight deadline, and then spending a lot of time on procedural maneuvers to try to derail the legislation. And then also speaking against the legislation, because in the Texas House, any member can speak against the bill.

And so we burned several hours doing all of those things, but we knew that Republicans held a trump card of being able to shut off debate, they really wanted to. And as they got closer to midnight, since they were about to do that and that's when I did send that text message.

Several people had already left knowing that this was coming. So a lot of members were already gone. But for the remaining members, we wanted to get that message out.

COOPER: As you know, Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, he has indicated that he'll call legislators back in a special session to pass the voting bill. And in a statement late today, he said that he expects legislators to have worked out their differences prior to arriving back at the Capitol. He's also as, you know, threatened to veto funding for legislator's paychecks.

If Republicans have the votes to pass this law and it seems clear that they do, did last night's actions just delay the inevitable.

TURNER: That's a fair question. There's no question Republicans have the votes to pass things. They control the House, the Senate and the Governor's Office and every statewide office. But Democrats in the legislature and in the House in particular are determined and we are battle tested, we know how to fight.

And we were used to being outnumbered, but we're not used to being outworked, and we are not used to being outsmarted. And I think that's what you saw yesterday is that we used every tool in our toolbox we could to delay the passage of the bill and get it into the place where we had the opportunity to kill it.

And that's what we -- that's what we did.

You know, we can't control what Governor Abbott does in a special session. The Governor has that power -- that is his prerogative, to call a special session.

COOPER: But just to be clear, if he calls this special session and this is the focus, and they have the votes to pass it, you don't have many -- as you said, you used all the tools that you had. There's no more tools left, are there?

TURNER: Well, yes, in a special session, the clock starts out -- a special session is 30 days. And this bill does not pick up where it left off. The bill from last night is dead.

So in a special session, they've got to write a new bill. They have to file a new bill. It has to go through the committee process. It has to go through both chambers. So, the clock starts over.

Again, they have the power, absolutely. The capacity thing they want, in most circumstances, but it does have to go through the process again. We'll just have to evaluate the situation as it develops. It's impossible to predict right now how that will play out.

COOPER: You know, there are those who say look, State Representatives are elected to debate the issues, cast their votes and accept the results of the chamber, not walk out when they don't like where a bill is headed. How do you respond to that?

TURNER: So State Representatives are elected to represent their constituents, fight for our constituents. That's exactly what 67 members of the Democratic Caucus did last night, whether they left or they stayed in the chamber, they all fought, we all fought for our constituents.

And if by stopping a bill and killing and in turn preventing a harmful impact on our communities, if that's what we achieved, then we have fought for our constituents and we have done our jobs and that's why I'm so proud of all the members of the Democratic Party.

COOPER: Chairman Turner. I appreciate your time. Thank you.

TURNER: Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Well, there's a lot more ahead tonight. Next, the Mayor of Miami-Dade on our breaking news of that news surveillance video around the time of the shooting there.

And later, did retired three-star General Michael Flynn actually endorse the idea of a Myanmar style military coup in the United States? We will play the clip so you can decide for yourself.



COOPER: As we continue to listen for late developments in the search for three people behind one of the largest mass shootings in Miami area history, more now on the incident itself and how the impact of it is still being felt. Here again is CNN's Leyla Santiago.


SANTIAGO (voice over): Newly released surveillance video shows three individuals 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.

MAJOR JORGE AGUIAR, MIAMI-DADE POLICE HOMICIDE BUREAU: We have a total of 23 people who were shot, two were deceased on scene.

SANTIAGO (voice over): All three of the shooters still at large.

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), 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 (voice over): 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 15th.


SANTIAGO (voice over): High emotions for those left behind.

CLAYTON DILLARD, JR., LOST SON TO SHOOTING: You all killed my kid, you must burn.

SANTIAGO (voice over): 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 (voice over): Miami community leader, TV host, and Camping World CEO, Marcus Lemonis has pledged $100,000.00 reward for anyone with information that leads to the arrest of those responsible.

Separately, Crimestoppers and the Miami A.T.F. are offering a $30,000.00 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 (voice over); 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 are investing in our young people, particularly those that have been disinvested in and disenfranchised from the process and left behind, none of them are born with AK-47s in their hands. None of them were born killers.


COOPER: Leyla, what are authorities saying about a possible motive?

SANTIAGO: Well, this morning, authorities said that this was something that stemmed from an ongoing rivalry between two groups, even said that there was some sort of back and forth on social media and even called this a targeted shooting.

Now that they have that SUV, obviously that is a key piece of evidence that will help them sort of piece together the puzzle, Anderson, but today they talked about some of their greatest challenges and even their fears.

Among the challenges for investigators, what they said was the Code of Silence that they really need more help from the community in getting more information. That's why you heard that appeal from the Mayor saying please give us information even anonymously.

As for what their greatest fear is, well, they fear that if they don't get to the bottom of this quickly, we may see retaliation.

COOPER: Leyla Santiago, thanks very much. You heard a bit from the Miami-Dade Mayor in Leyla's report. Daniella Levine Cava joins us right now. Mayor Levine Cava, thanks so much for being with us. I'm sorry, it's under these circumstances. So now that this vehicle has been found, are authorities any closer narrowing in on the suspects?

LEVINE CAVA: You know, this video was so critical and people are calling. There are tips coming in. People are able to perhaps identify some of the shooters, other information. So we're very hopeful that we can place the shooters very, very soon.

COOPER: I mean, it's extraordinary just seeing that video, when you watch the clock as well realizing how quickly, you know, the shots were fired. This whole thing was in under 10 seconds with so many people, two dead and so many injured.

Authorities are seeing the shooting stem from an ongoing rivalry between two groups and the intended target was believed to be standing in front of the concert venue. Can you say anything more about the groups?

LEVINE CAVA: You know, they are being monitored. These are groups that are kind of loosely called gangs. They may be taunting each other on social media, maybe even in the rap music. So these are clues as well.

And as you said, they fear is further retaliation. We have to get to these people and make the stop. This indiscriminate shooting into a crowd because somebody they want to target may be there, obviously is just a cowardly, heinous act.

COOPER: Is it -- is fear of retaliation part of hampering the investigation, or I mean, there's obviously -- you know, often a Code of Silence in a lot of communities and/or concern about coming forward talking to police about anything?

LEVINE CAVA: Yes. Well, we're very hopeful. There have been a lot of tips received. A lot of information is coming in. We have our police department working around the clock. It's the county police together with municipal, state and Federal agents all working together, and leaving no tip uninvestigated.

So we're very hopeful. And I do want to say that this is also about a broader initiative to stop crime at the root. We need to focus on prevention and early intervention, and that's why the peace and prosperity plan that I've developed is so valuable.

We need to give children who are heading down the wrong path that chance to have a brighter future, to have opportunities for good jobs and all of that will be accomplished through this plan.

As well, we are investing more resources into police investigation, state attorney, prosecution and cameras in key areas of shooting and violence.

COOPER: Do you know -- do you have any update on any of the shooting victims who are still hospitalized?

LEVINE CAVA: I heard that a few more have been released. Of course, we have a few that are in critical care. So we're standing by, we're praying and we're watching, and our victim advocates are working with all the families who were there and working with them to get as much information as we possibly can while we pray for the survival of those shot.

COOPER: Mayor Levine Cava, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

LEVINE CAVA: Thank you.


COOPER: Up next, the remarks by the former President's National Security Adviser at a conservative conference and how they play directly into beliefs held by QAnon conspiracy theorists, that's coming up.


COOPER: Former National Security Adviser, General Michael Flynn is declaring that the man who pardoned him after he admitted lying to the F.B.I. actually won last year's election, winning both the Electoral College along with the Popular Vote.

Speaking at a very, very conservative conference over the weekend in Dallas, he was joined by one of the former President's lawyers, Sidney Powell, who has also made a career of saying false things about the election.

But Flynn didn't stop there. At a meeting attended by some QAnon conspiracy theory believers, Flynn also had some things to say about the possibility of a coup here in the United States. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has the details.


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

LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN (RET), U.S. ARMY: No reason, I mean, it should happen here. No reason --

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A former U.S. Army Lieutenant General and former National Security Adviser appearing to endorse a military coup here in the United States.

FLYNN: Trump won. He won the Popular Vote and he won the Electoral College vote.


O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Michael Flynn spent Memorial weekend at a conference in Dallas attended by QAnon supporters, so too did Sidney Powell who was part of the former president's election legal team. Powell, who was represented Flynn said Monday that the media had grossly distorted Flynn's comments.

She denied Flynn had encouraged violence or in military insurrection, but she didn't explain what Flynn had meant. Powell herself spoke of removing Biden from office over the weekend.

SIDNEY POWELL, ATTORNEY WHO CHALLENGED 2020 ELECTION RESULTS: We're definitely an uncharted territory. There are cases where elections have been overturned. But there's never been one at the presidential level, which everybody jumped a point out. That doesn't mean that it can't be done, though.

It should be that he can simply be reinstated that a new inauguration data set and Biden is told to move out of the White House.


POWELL: And President Trump should be moved back in.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The heavily criticized Republican led audit in Arizona has given followers of QAnon end the big lie hope that the election could still be overturned. And some are finding inspiration in the deadly military coup in Myanmar as a way to put Trump back in power.

Flynn's comments were seen as an endorsement of a coup by some QAnon followers. They were welcomed overnight by a prominent peddler of QAnon who has more than 70,000 followers on telegram raging General Flynn says the quiet part out loud.

Earlier this year, Trump supporters in California also cheered on the coup.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Biden is just -- he's like a puppet president. The military is in charge. It's going to be like Myanmar, what's happening in Myanmar, the military is doing their own investigation and at the right time, they're going to be restoring the republic with Trump as president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going on Myanmar right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A different country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government took over and they redo the election, correct? That possibly happened, here possibly.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Would you like to see it happen?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to see it.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Really?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know why? Because the election was stolen from us.


COOPER: And Donie joins us now. So I understand, Michael Flynn appears to have made additional comments about this controversy. What's he now saying?

O'SULLIVAN: That's right Anderson, he is today saying that his words have been twisted somehow that he has not actually calling for a coup. But look, I mean, you heard the comments there in that piece. And essentially, this QAnon conference was devoted to overturning the results of the election. You heard Sidney Powell there talking about a potentially new inauguration day.

And, you know, this talk of a coup is something that has been circulating for months now in the QAnon conspiracy theory world that both Powell and Flynn live in. And, you know, we spend a lot of time, I spend a lot of time reading a lot of these pro-Trump forums, these QAnon forums online and speaking to Trump supporters.

And I will say of all the conspiracy theories we hear and all the different ideas this talk from Americans about a coup cheering on a coup and hoping for a coup in the United States is one of the most chilling things that I hear on the road.


O'SULLIVAN: Anderson.

COOPER: Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it.

Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria, Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee. She's also a retired Navy Commander and represents a district with a heavy military presence.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us. Thank you for your service on Memorial Day weekend and all weekends.

As a former service member to hear Michael Flynn again retired three star generals -- three star army general, former National Security Adviser apparently suggests that a Myanmar-style coup should, could and should happen here in the United States is stunning. To you, as someone who swore an oath to the Constitution, how do you -- how is this happening?

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): Well, when I hear these words, I just I have to say that it's unconscionable this language is dangerous. This is just the propagation of further lies in my mind that's inciting violence.

I heard some of the other supporters of the former president remarking before I came on, and it's dangerous that someone who served our country and retired as a three star general is using that position, using that title, using that voice to incite violence, essentially, to encourage people to overthrow the government as was done in Myanmar. And it's incredibly concerning.

COOPER: As someone who served in the military I mean, is it possible to reconcile the sense of honor and duty exemplified by the vast majority of service members with the things that, you know, General Flynn continues to say?

I mean, he's clearly gone down this rabbit hole of conspiracies, he's multiple times talked about us the QAnon slogan, he's praise it. What -- I mean, how does somebody -- does it make sense you have somebody who makes an ark like he has made? [20:35:09]

LURIA: It does not make sense. And you ask if there's a way to reconcile it. I say that this is irreconcilable. You know, there's a lot of questions about whether someone who's served in the military recently continues to receive retirement benefits as a retired officer. I mean, General Flynn receives over $164,000 a year of taxpayers money in his position as a retiree and a former general.

And, you know, the fact that he's making these kinds of comments inciting violence, recommending that there should be a coup overflow the -- overthrow the U.S. government is unconscionable. And I truly believe that action should be taken against General Flynn.

COOPER: You mentioned that the kind of language is dangerous. We saw that certainly on January 6, we've heard from a number of federal judges who've also now echoed that saying that, in response to cases they have before them of conspirators. I mean, do you -- or people who took part in the attack. I mean, do you think, has the problem subsided, you think or has anything changed since the insurrection?

LURIA: It has not. Honestly, it's like a crescendo. I keep hearing it growing. And the suggestions continue to become more and more violent in nature. And I would say that General Flynn's remarks border on sedition, there's certainly conduct unbecoming an officer, those are both things that can be tried under Uniform Code of Military Justice. And I think that as retiree of the military, it should certainly be a path that we consider to have consequences for those types of work.

COOPER: You really think this is possibly sedition?

LURIA: I think it is. You know, if you look at the definition of sedition, as defined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, it's an in person with an intent to cause or overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority. It's very clear that in suggesting a coup, a military coup to overthrow our government, that falls to me within the definition of sedition and to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

COOPER: Congresswoman Luria, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

LURIA: Yes, thank you.

COOPER (voice-over): Coming up, we catch up with one of the Republican senators who voted not to establish that bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 riots, when we continue.



COOPER: Like most of his Republican colleagues, Kansas freshman senator Roger Marshall voted against establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate not only the facts of the January 6 riots, but what led up to the insurrection in the first place. Like most of his fellow senators, he went back home without really giving much of a public explanation as to why he voted the way he did. It didn't stop our Gary Tuchman from trying to get one. Gary traveled to Fort Riley, Kansas for the Memorial Day holiday to be there. Senator Marshall attended a ceremony on a rainy day to honor the war day. This is part of what he said.


SEN ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): First, I want to take a moment of privilege and speak directly to our Gold Star families. I know it takes a lot of courage to come here today. But I just want you to know that that you inspire me and so many other folks.


COOPER: Gary joins me now from Fort Riley. So after the event, I understand you ask the senator about his vote. What did he say?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, some more information about Roger Marshall. He's an army veteran. He's a physician. He's a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He's in his first term in the U.S. Senate. And when Donald Trump was in the White House, he was a fervent Trump loyalist.


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Your words today were eloquent and moving regarding our heroes who serve their country. I do want to ask you, though, about another hero, Officer Brian Sicknick --


TUCHMAN (on-camera): -- who protected you, other senators, Congress, people on Capitol Hill --


TUCHMAN (on-camera): -- died after the insurrection. His mother came to Capitol Hill. Did she meet with you?

MARSHALL: She did.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): She did meet with you met with other Republican senators.


TUCHMAN: Yet you voted no on the commission, January 6 Commission?


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Why can't you put politics aside and voted yes and honored his memory that way?

MARSHALL: Well sort of my decision was not based upon politics. My decision was based upon that we already have I believe seven committees in the House looking at this, two in the Senate. There's four in the executive branch, four different agencies looking at this, they've arrested 450 people.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): It's an important one independent investigation, like there have been so many other things in this country's history, 9/11 other things. Why not have one independent investigation? Have you had a problem politically with it, argue as it went along but not just say no, right away?

MARSHALL: Yes. I think that this has been investigated. And all these committees will do their jobs. It's really only one --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Do you it's been investigated?

MARSHALL: I think they're in the process --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Is President Trump's rolling in?

MARSHALL: Yes, I do think it's being investigated. I think it's been very thoroughly investigated. Already, the January 6 commission has came out and said we need to spend what a billion dollars fortifying the Capitol already really is only one question that I want to be answered yet, is when President Trump recommended we have 15,000 National Guard troops there in January 6, who stopped that from happening. And most of us would think that that type of decision would have been made in the Speaker's office.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): You think that interaction would have happened if President Trump didn't say to people go to the Capitol?

MARSHALL: I think that the people that committed that crime should be held in judgment for their own actions.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): Don't you feel badly that President Trump said that that obviously led to what it would not have happened if he didn't say that? Doesn't that make you feel a little bit bad about voting no on this?

MARSHALL: I made the best decision I could. I think it's a decision of the heart. I think it's the right decision. I think in so many ways. This has been politicized by Speaker Pelosi, if she hadn't politicized it and made it into a weapon. If she could just start off by making this a bipartisan commission that would have appointed the lawyers investigated, it should have been appointed by both parties.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): But the Democrats --


TUCHMAN (on-camera): OK. But the Democrats did say they agree to all these provisions if you had the commission, would you not agree with that?

MARSHALL: She had every chance to start off in a in a bipartisan fashion with this investigation --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So you don't think it's bipartisan?

MARSHALL: It is absolutely not bipartisan --

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So you stand by your vote?

MARSHALL: Of course, I do.


TUCHMAN: So we were curious if in any way the senator regretted his vote and seems like he certainly regrets nothing. Anderson.


COOPER: Gary Tuchman, thanks very much.

(voice-over): In addition to Memorial Day today also marks the centennial the Tulsa Race Massacre. Just ahead, we'll examine the causes in the aftermath of one of the worst race massacres in U.S. history with the director of a new film about it called Dreamland, which premieres here tonight on CNN in about 15 minutes.


COOPER: Hundred years after the Tulsa race massacre, one of the deadliest in US history. President Biden honors the memory of those who died today and those few still alive with the proclamation.

It reads, quote I call upon the people the United States to commemorate the tremendous loss of life and security that occurred over those two days in 1921, to celebrate the bravery and resilience of those who survived and sought to rebuild their lives again and commit together to eradicate systemic racism and help to rebuild communities and lives that have been destroyed by it.

A new CNN film about the massacre premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. It's called Dreamland: the Burning of Black Wall Street explains how white mobs destroyed the community of Greenwood, Oklahoma, which had been a vibrant area of black business, art and culture, and what's being done to restore its legacy.


We should warn you parts of this film are deeply disturbing of course, but as this clip indicates they're also necessary to keep the memory of Tulsa alive.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can confirm that we have identified a large hole that had been excavated and into which several individuals have been placed. This constitutes a mass grave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight, scientists believe they have found evidence of a mass grave in Oklahoma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More than a year after the work started at Oaklawn Cemetery, the team found human remains. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today is a significant moment in the history of our city in trying to do right by the victims of this event.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I heard that they found 12 bodies, I said, finally, finally, it's no longer folklore. It's no longer a rumor. It's true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's going to beat the beginning of justice.


COOPER: And Salima Koroma, the director of the film joins me now. Thank you so much for being with us.

This is a really extraordinary film. We just heard the President talk about the Tulsa massacre today. What was it that brought you to reexamine the story of what happened there?

SALIMA KOROMA, DIRECTOR, DREAMLAND: I think there were a lot of things. One was the opportunity to explore this time in American history where black people had created this utopia in America. So, just being able to tell that story. But then also, when I pitched it, it was, you know, in 2019, 2020, where America was also sort of looking back at its own racial past and having to reckon with the injustices that have happened. So I think that really drew me to the story.

COOPER: And I mean, for a long time, this was not in history books. And for those who don't know what happened in Tulsa 100 years ago, I mean, the size and the scope, the horror, the violence, and the destruction is really staggering.

KOROMA: Yes, this was two nights or two days of terror, ultimately. It was a community, a lot of black people. And across the tracks was another community of white people. And through, you know, jealousy and an event that happened between a young black boy and a young white girl, it, you know, ended in these two days of destruction.

COOPER: I mean, how far have we come since then? I mean, we, you know, we, obviously, we have seen what this country has gone through just in the last year alone since the killing of George Floyd. You know, we see things now that we didn't I mean, imagine if there had been cameras in Tulsa at that time, it wouldn't perhaps it changed it in the moment, but at least there would be the fact that there's not a recording, we don't really see these images, it -- we see things now that we didn't before.

KOROMA: Well, you know what, I would say that Tulsa 1921 didn't just happen, the massacre didn't just happen. And that's the end of the story. There's 100 years of history that this enclave, this town, Greenwood, still exists, and they're dealing with things today. And so, I guess the question is, how far have we come?

We can look at Greenwood today and see that Greenwood is not what it once was. And then we can ask ourselves, how far have we come? You know, we haven't even done the repper -- the repairing to this community to the three survivors who still live in Tulsa and surrounding areas today. We haven't rectified for the, the descendants as well. So how far have we can come? I'm not sure how far we've come Anderson.

COOPER: We've seen communities across the country. I was in Africa a few years ago in Africa town, which is a small community in Alabama, which was formed by the last -- people from the last ship that brought enslaved Africans to Alabama, adjusting the start of the Civil War.

And that was once a thriving black community as well in the 1920s, 1930s. A highway was then, you know, put through the center of the town, as happens so often they figure out where do you put a highway? Well, let's just put it through the black part of town. And the community breaks up.

KOROMA: That's exactly what happened in Greenwood. It happens -- it happen all across America and black neighborhoods were highways were built right in the middle of these thriving communities. Greenwood went through what was called urban renewal and what happened was a lot of people were taken out of their homes and the city were -- was using that land for other things.


So the descendants of Tulsa, the descendants of this massacre, they're still dealing with these things today. You're absolutely right.

COOPER: Yes. Salima Koroma it's really just an extraordinary film. Thank you so much for being with us.

KOROMA: Thank you.

COOPER: Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street premieres in just a few minutes at 9:00 p.m. here on CNN.

Ahead, COVID Memorial Day and what a world of difference a year can make.


COOPER: We end this Memorial Day in a far different place than we did one year ago on this day. Back then I was telling you about how the nation was trying to honor those who gave their lives for this country while also trying to contain growing rates of coronavirus transmission. Our rates were rising or holding in about 80% of the states one year ago today. The lack of coordination and testing that took place and whether states would have the supplies to carry it out.

Well this Memorial Day, one year later, we are thankfully in a far different place. People went to the beaches this year. They did last year too but they were encouraged to do it this year.

And this time it was OK for people not to wear masks the beach as long as they were vaccinated. Airports were busy places one of our staff flew home cross country last night on a packed flight. Masks were in evidence as far as he could see. The most obvious reminder of what we have all been through.

Unlike last Memorial Day, there's an NBA season with packed arenas. Last year at this time, the virus forced the league to go on hiatus for much of the summer. Baseball won't have to go through a contracted season this year either and vaccinations have meant that even as some players and staff test positive, the league doesn't need to shut down.


America's opening again. On this Memorial Day, it is a beautiful thing to see.

Thanks for watching. "Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street," starts now.