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House Of Representatives Passes $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Package With No Republican Votes; FDA Expected To Recommend Emergency Use Authorization Johnson & Johnson Single-Dose Coronavirus Vaccine; Tiger Woods Recovering From Surgeries After Car Crash; Report Implicates Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman As Ordering Killing Of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi; Biden Administration Orders Airstrike Against Iranian-Backed Militias In Syria; FBI Identifies Suspect in Death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick During January 6th Riot. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 27, 2021 - 14:00   ET



SUSAN REIF, DIRECTOR OF EVICTION PREVENTION PROJECT, GEORGIA LEGAL SERVICES: It's a timing issue right now between getting this rental assistance to the landlords in time to save the affordable housing.



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with two major developments in the fight against the COVID pandemic. First, President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, a few hours ago the president made a very brief appearance at the White House praising the House of Representatives for passing the bill early this morning and urging the Senate to quickly follow suit.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have no time to waste. If we act now decisively, quickly, and boldly, we can finally get ahead of this virus. We can finally get our economy moving again. And the people of this country have suffered far too much for too long. We need to relieve that suffering. The American rescue plan does just that, it relieves the suffering. It is time to act.


WHITFIELD: The president's first major piece of legislation since taking office narrowly passing the House, largely along party lines. This coming as a third coronavirus vaccine could be authorized for emergency use in the U.S. at any moment now. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to soon grant emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine. The company says once it's given the green light, it could ship out nearly 4 million doses as early as next week.

Let's get straight to CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard. So Jacqueline, what are the final steps in this emergency use authorization process?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: That's right, Fred, this is a process. So the next steps that we expect to see, the FDA any moment now can issue its emergency use authorization for the vaccine. But the story does not end there. Tomorrow we're then going to hear from the CDC.

Today, when the FDA says that, yes, the vaccine can be used under emergency use authorization, tomorrow the CDC will then tell us how it can be used. Are there certain groups, for instance, that will be given priority access? And an advisory committee to the CDC is going to make those recommendations tomorrow. Then it will be up to CDC Dr. Rochelle Walensky to sign off on those recommendations.

So those are the next steps, but in the meantime, we do know that there is a rollout plan to get the vaccine out there. And here's what that rollout plan includes. Like you said earlier, Johnson & Johnson has up to 4 million doses ready to go, specifically 3.9 million doses.

And among those doses, here is what the allocation will look like -- about 2.8 million will go to states, 800,000, retail pharmacies, 90,000 will go to the federally qualified health centers, and then 70,000 will go to community vaccination centers. That's what we can expect to happen. But until the CDC gives its recommendation, we won't see shots going into arms quite yet. That's the next thing that we have to see take place.

WHITFIELD: And then help folks understand the differences between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the Pfizer, Moderna versions that are already out there.

HOWARD: Yes, there are some differences. Johnson & Johnson is given as a one-dose shot, whereas, as we know, Pfizer and Moderna are given in two doses. And then the storage is different. Johnson & Johnson doesn't require those ultracold temperatures. So it will be easier to ship and to store.

And then when it comes to efficacy, trials have shown some different numbers when it comes to Johnson & Johnson and Moderna and Pfizer. Here is what those numbers are. Johnson & Johnson was studied among about 44,000 people in the U.S., South Africa, and Latin America.

And in those global trials it showed to be 66 percent effective against moderate to severe COVID-19, 85 percent effective against severe COVID-19. And we know that Moderna and Pfizer have about 95 percent efficacy. So those are differences in numbers.

But doctors say you shouldn't necessarily think one is better than the other. There are a lot of caveats here. For instance, Johnson & Johnson's trials were done as we saw these coronavirus variants emerge which could explain the differences in numbers, because Moderna and Pfizer's trials began earlier on in the pandemic in the spring in summer.

But overall, the Johnson & Johnson trials do suggest that it is effective in preventing severe disease that requires hospitalization. And no one who got the vaccine died of COVID-19. So it shows to be about 100 percent effective against COVID-19 death.

Here is what Dr. Paul Offit had to say about this. He's a member of the FDA Advisory Committee that recommended the vaccine yesterday. Have a listen.



DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA'S VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: We'll see in the second half of the year whether there will be a second dose recommendation for this vaccine. But certainly, one dose will keep you out of the hospital, keep you out of the intensive care unit, and keep you out of the morgue.


HOWARD: So you see he said there one dose does show to be effective. But Johnson & Johnson is starting to look at what two doses could result in. Those trials are under way right now. So we could see down the line Johnson & Johnson becoming a two-dose shot. But as of now, this one dose does show to be effective, and we could see it rolling out in the next few days, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All encouraging signs. Jacqueline Howard, thanks so much.

Joining me right now to discuss, Dr. Stella Safo, an internal medicine physician in New York City. Dr. Safo, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So in your view, is this likely to be a real game changer?

SAFO: I think it's absolutely going to be a game changer. You have to remember that COVID is a pretty smart virus. And it's going to do what viruses do, which is replicate, form new variants, and just try to survive. And so when we think about how we're going to manage COVID, we have to get as many tools in our arsenal as we can. And I think the J&J vaccine is going to be something else with its storage properties and with its efficacy levels that we're seeing. It's going to definitely help us in the fight against COVID.

WHITFIELD: And when you say the storage properties, meaning it can be refrigerated in a regular standard refrigerator, doesn't need the ultracold freezers. And I wonder if that means it's going to be, I guess, more accessible, or it will open up greater opportunities for it to be in doctors' offices, for instance, to be administered to people?

SAFO: Absolutely. The name of the game right now when we think about vaccinations is taking a look at what the barriers are and then systematically removing those barriers. One of the barriers is for vaccinations, has been the storage properties that we have to follow, or the storage characteristics that the virus requires.

And so you can imagine, if you need these very cold temperatures and you're asking a community doc to hold on to these vaccines, that's going to be a little bit harder than if you're using a J&J vaccine that's more of a classic vaccine that can be refrigerated. Doctors, pediatricians especially, are very used to storing most vaccines and would be able to give this out really easily. So it just increases that access tremendously.

WHITFIELD: One of the researchers who helped identify the new coronavirus variant discovered in New York City says the strain is spreading at an alarming pace and could result in a drop in vaccine efficacy. How concerned are you about that?

SAFO: So these new strains are kind of tough because what we're finding is, we're going to see the strains, or we're going to see the variants before we really have a sense what have they mean in terms of public health transmission and severity of illness. So right now we know that there's a new strain in New York. We don't even exactly what it means.

The good news, and I really take a lot of comfort in this, is that all of the major vaccine manufacturers and developers are already anticipating that there will be not just the New York strain, the California strain, and all these other strains we've seen, but probably many more, and they're already back in the lab tinkering with the vaccines to figure out would a third shot would be helpful for Moderna and Pfizer, or would a booster shot be helpful for J&J.

And so I think that as much as we are all worried, it should make us worried to actually do the public health measures we've been talking about. Wear your masks, socially distance while we allow the scientists, virologists, and others to really make our vaccines even more robust to be able to protect us. But right now, I'm not scared of the vaccinations that we're getting won't keep you at least somewhat protected from even the new variants.

WHITFIELD: We always love that optimism. We all need it. Dr. Stella Safo, thank you so much.

SAFO: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, new information on the death of a U.S. Capitol police officer during last month's insurrection. The FBI identifies a suspect after taking a closer look at surveillance video.

Plus, can Tiger Woods make a comeback after surviving this catastrophic crash? Inside his road to recovery and the challenges he may also be facing.


[14:13:12] WHITFIELD: Tiger Woods is recovering from another round of surgeries after his serious car crash this week. The severity of the golf legend's injuries raise the question, will he ever be able to be back on tour? Paul Vercammen is with us from Los Angeles. So Paul, what are you learning about his recovery?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know from talking to the orthopedic surgeons, especially those who have an expertise in sports, it's going to be a long recovery. Tiger is recovering behind me at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills. It's an esteemed hospital. And you might have heard that he did have successful procedures. He thanked, by the way, his fans and all that.

So we wanted to drill down on this. And we talked to a nearby orthopedic surgeon who is an expert in sports surgery. He's worked with the Clippers. He's also worked with the Dodgers. He is the USC team physician. And Dr. Snibbe was telling us one of the areas of concern for Tiger is these so-called open fractures.


DR. JASON SNIBBE, ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON: It was an open fracture, meaning that the bone popped through the skin. And when the bone pops through the skin, it's got to tear through the muscle, some of the tissue, the small little nerves that are in the skin, and right through the skin. And the amount of trauma that that causes to the soft tissue around his lower leg is significant. Those muscles are going to scar. There's going to be scar tissue. There's going to be atrophy. There's going to be stiffness. And you cannot underplay the significance of that soft tissue trauma that occurred in that accident.


VERCAMMEN: But Dr. Snibbe does predict that Tiger will probably be able to play in some form again. He says something that will help him is Tiger's mental toughness and the fact that he is an elite athlete.


He also says that modern technology is going to play a huge role in Tiger's favor, medicine being the best that it's ever been. And they will use this technology as they treat and rehabilitate Tiger. Back you to now, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Wow, he has made comebacks before, but now we're talking about a comeback that is also predicated on the metal rods that are put in his leg, that was part of the surgery. And is there, I guess, a prognosis on how that will increase his chances of the kind of recovery that the doctor was just talking about?

VERCAMMEN: There is, and that's what he was alluding to when he was talking to this technology. He says those rods are the best they've ever been, those pins and screws, the best they've ever been. In another era it would have been one of those hard casts. But they're finding they're able to set these broken bones better than ever before. And because of that technology and the way they can scan for these

things, he says that gives Tiger a huge advantage. And also the fact that he went to Harvard UCLA, a top flight trauma center in the nation, and was operated on immediately, he says that gives Tiger a huge advantage, and he complimented the doctors there for the great job that they did immediately after the wreck.

WHITFIELD: Wow. All right, well, come on, Tiger. If anyone can overcome it, right, it's him. Paul Vercammen, thank you so much.

The Biden administration has taken no direct action against the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, prompting the questions, what should the U.S. do? We'll talk about that, next.



WHITFIELD: The Biden administration is issuing sanctions against dozens of Saudi officials and departments for their role in the murder of "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The sanctions follow the release of a declassified U.S. intelligence report about the 2018 killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The report specifically implicates Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the one who ordered the operation, but he is not specifically targeted by the sanctions. Secretary of State Tony Blinken is defending that decision.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: So what we've done by the actions that we've taken is really not to rupture the relationship but to recalibrate it to be more in line with our interests and our values.


WHITFIELD: Let me bring in now Colonel Cedric Leighton, a CNN military analyst, a retired Air Force colonel, and a former intelligence officer, and Aaron David Miller. He is a CNN global affairs analyst and a former Middle East negotiator for the U.S. State Department. Good to see both of you gentlemen.


WHITFIELD: So Aaron, you first. Are the sanctions announced yesterday enough? Should the Crown Prince have been singled out for his role?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The release of the DNI report is a good first step. It's a naming and shaming exercise in order to try to at least identify the reality that the Crown Prince, MBS, Mohammed bin Salman, has blood on his hands.

But I don't think it goes far enough. I think without formally sanctioning him, and I didn't expect formal sanctions, I would have created a deep freeze for an open-ended period of time. That is to say, no contacts between MBS and senior administration officials.

And I would have suspended arms sales, again, for an open-ended period of time in an effort to review them to determine what Saudi Arabia actually needs for its defense rather than what it always wants. And in the interim period, we would seek changes in Saudi policy, pressing them at home to release dissidents and trying to get them to play a much more constructive role in Yemen.

So I think we need to change the nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, Fred, because it's been a one-way street for far too long.

WHITFIELD: So you mentioned at the top that you think this is a good first step. Then do you see that all of those other things you suggested really could be a potential follow-up?

MILLER: I doubt it. I doubt it. I think the administration has calculated, unlike Lehman Brothers, the U.S.-Saudi relationship is too important and too big to fail. But what it fails to recognize is that we have enormous leverage. The Saudis need us far more than we need them. And we should make it unmistakably clear to MBS not to take us for granted.

WHITFIELD: So Colonel Leighton, I see you nodding your head a lot. So what do you believe this will mean for the Biden White House and its relationship with Saudi Arabia?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET), CNN MILLION ANALYST: I think, Fred, that what you see here is, like Aaron said, the first step in a way to get the Saudis perhaps to move in a different direction. This -- ideally what I think we should see is the removal of MBS from the chain of succession in Saudi Arabia. Probably unlikely that we get there, but that would be the ideal situation. There are plenty of sons of King Salman that could take his place. And I think that would be really the right policy for the U.S. to pursue. But we may not want to do that as overtly as a direct sanction of MBS would indicate.

WHITFIELD: Aaron, I also want to talk about the air strikes the U.S. carried out air strikes this week against Iran-backed militias in Syria. The U.S. says it was meant to be proportionate response to attacks against Americans, but not to provoke an escalation of tensions with Iran where a revival the nuclear deal seems possible. So is the U.S. on the right footing here?


MILLER: Fred, negotiating with Iran is far more than just negotiating with them at the negotiating table. They use their Iraqi pro-Iranian militias to attack American interests and have for years. So the administration, I think, had three options -- go big, or disproportionate, to send an unmistakable signal that we can't be struck by Iran, do nothing, or, frankly, find I guess the goldilocks approach, not too hot, not too cold, but just right. And the reality is I don't think we had any alternative but to respond. And they did. And I think it was appropriate and proportionate.

WHITFIELD: Colonel Leighton, do you see that Russia and China now have a chance to exploit any pullback between the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East?

LEIGHTON: Absolutely, Fred, and particularly with Saudi Arabia. So this is one of those high wire acts that we find ourselves performing once again, both militarily and diplomatically. The Russians and the Chinese are very interested in peeling Saudi Arabia away from the U.S. orbit.

And if they were to be successful in that, it would really complicate our efforts in the region, and it might even impact on the ability of energy supplies for the United States as well as for our allies, especially in western Europe but also in Asia. Right now, of course, the United States is benefiting from energy independence to a large extent. But the Saudi oil fields still provide a great deal of oil for the rest of the world, and that becomes an important calculation for all parties in this field.

WHITFIELD: And Aaron, President Biden informed congressional leaders about the strike in Syria but then faced sharp criticism for not getting broad approval from Congress and not giving them a better heads-up. So do you see that this might undermine the president's declaration that the U.S. is back, particularly on the global stage?

LEIGHTON: I think coordination and consultation with Congress is important. And remember, Fred, the president is the 24/7 energizer bunny of the American political system. Congress goes in and out of session. So does the Supreme Court. The president never goes in and out of session.

And constitution, plus the realities of responding, and it should be a thoughtful response, and consultation is important, but in large part Congress has created its own situation by not wanting -- polarized, divided, and also not wanting the kind of responsibility that comes with making rather than simply consulting and coordinating on foreign policy. Yes, so consultations are great, but the president is going to have to act, sometimes in real time.

WHITFIELD: And so Colonel Leighton, sometimes it's the issue of the element of surprise?

LEIGHTON: Yes, absolutely. And for military purposes and even for diplomatic purposes, I think it's very important to maintain that element of surprise. But particularly when you're looking at military strikes against Iranian-backed militias, the element of surprise becomes critical not only for U.S. policy but also for military operations. So in this particular case I think they did it just right.

WHITFIELD: All right, Colonel Cedric Leighton, Aaron David Miller, good to see both of you gentlemen. Thanks so much.

MILLER: Thank you, Fred.

LEIGHTON: Thank you. WHITFIELD: Still ahead, President Trump making some fundraising moves ahead of his CPAC speech tomorrow.

Plus, misinformation and conspiracy theories. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan goes one on one with Trump supporters who are still challenging the election.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN POLITICS AND TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: You trust a man more who sells pillows than the Republican officials in Georgia?





WHITFIELD: The FBI has identified a suspect in the death of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick. Law enforcement officials are telling CNN that the working theory is that Officer Sicknick became ill from bear spray used by rioters at the Capitol on January 6th. There is also video evidence that appears to show the attack that could have caused his death. Investigators are still waiting on the report from the medical examiner and a full toxicology report. More than 200 people have been charged so far in the Capitol riots.

And this just in, former President Donald Trump is considering forming a super PAC. Trump spokesperson Jason Miller telling CNN today that it could be a revamped version of America First as Trump weighs his political future. Trump will give his first major speech since leaving the White House tomorrow afternoon as he closes out CPAC.

That's where we find CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joining us from Orlando. Donie?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN POLITICS AND TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Hey, Fred, yes, some very excited Trump supporters who are hoping to see the former president speak here in Orlando tomorrow where he is expected, of course, to continue to perpetuate that conspiracy theory that he did not actually lose the election. And conspiracy theories like that are spreading across this country from coast to coast. And last week, we met some Trump supporters in southern California, and here is what they had to say.


O'SULLIVAN: These Trump supporters are in denial about what happened on January 6th, and some believe in QAnon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going to happen at some point is there will be arrests, and that will include a lot of the lying media, and then there will be military --

O'SULLIVAN: That hasn't happened. They keep saying that, for years, and it's not happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It hasn't been years.

O'SULLIVAN: It's been since 2017. It's been years now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a 6,000-year-old death cult. You can't take it down that quick.

O'SULLIVAN: I understand you're a very passionate Trump supporter, right?



O'SULLIVAN: But you surely, you surely can admit that the people who stormed the Capitol were Trump supporters?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I definitely cannot. In fact, you're talking to the right person, because I can send you tons of footage that shows that that was all the left dressed up --

O'SULLIVAN: Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- Antifa and BLM dressed up as Trump supporters.

O'SULLIVAN: Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is my hope that President Trump comes back as the 19th president of the United States under the 1776. And that he is inaugurated on March 4th. That is my hope for our future.

O'SULLIVAN: Some have bought into a new conspiracy theory that Trump will return as the 19th president on March 4th. Why? They have misinterpreted an 1871 law and believe Ulysses S. Grant, who was inaugurated on March 4th, 1869, was America's last legitimate president. It may all sound bizarre, but online discussion about March 4th has been a contributing factor in the decision to keep the National Guard in Washington, D.C.

Are you going to feel foolish on March 5th when Biden is still president?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then Trump has a different plan in play.

O'SULLIVAN: Everybody keeps saying Trump has a plan, he has a plan. When he lost the election, they said he has a plan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump did not lose the election, sir.

O'SULLIVAN: But he did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump did not lose the election, and that's where we differ.

O'SULLIVAN: Right. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's where I believe the information that

Mike Lindell has put out --

O'SULLIVAN: The pillow guy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- of all of the abuse, corruption, stealing.

O'SULLIVAN: You trust a man more who sells pillows than the Republican officials in Georgia?


O'SULLIVAN: But you realize that sounds --


O'SULLIVAN: -- crazy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- just tell you that the people in Georgia are sick.

O'SULLIVAN: And while most of the world looks on in horror at a deadly military coup in Myanmar, that's exactly what these Trump supporters hope to see happen here in the United States of America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This whole thing with 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.

O'SULLIVAN: In a different country --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going on in Myanmar right now, the government took over and they're redoing the election.

O'SULLIVAN: Would you like to see it happen?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to see it happen.


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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never would have believed CNN would have given me a chance to speak the truth. What a miracle. Praise God.

O'SULLIVAN: But we're going to say in our news report that QAnon is a conspiracy theory. You don't believe QAnon is a conspiracy theory?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know it isn't. I know it isn't. I'm not much for believing. I have to know.


O'SULLIVAN (on camera): And that's really troubling stuff there to hear, Fred. I mean, obviously it's all ridiculous, it's bizarre, but particularly troubling to hear that talk about sort of celebrating what is happening in Myanmar. We learned on the 6th of January that this isn't just all rhetoric, that sometimes it can lead to real world violence. Fred?

WHITFIELD: You used the apropos words -- troubling, bizarre. That encapsulates a good bit of it. Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much.

Still to come, powerful words from NBA veteran Jeremy Lin over the rise in attacks on Asian-Americans, why he's asking is anyone listening?



WHITFIELD: The nation's two biggest cities are fighting a sudden rise in violence against Asian-Americans. The stabbing of a 36-year-old man in Manhattan Thursday is the latest in a number of attacks against people of Asian descent.

According to NYPD data, there were 29 reported racially motivated crimes against people of Asian descent in 2020 in that city, and that's a sharp rise from three similar crimes the year before. The Asian-American Federation is holding a rise up against Anti-Asian hate rally right now in New York.

And in Los Angeles, people are investigating an attack this month on a Korean-American man as a hate crime. New data from the LAPD shows the number of anti-Asian crime reports more than doubled in 2020. Authorities have linked many of the incidents to the reported origins of coronavirus.

As the number of violent attacks against Asian-Americans escalates, former NBA star Jeremy Lin says he has experienced racism while playing basketball. In a social media post, Lin says he has been called "coronavirus" on the court, but says he has no plans to name or shame anyone who made the slurs. For more on this, let's bring in CNN sports correspondent Patrick Snell. So Patrick, what more can you tell us about these accusations?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, these are all very, very concerning to hear and to process. It all comes, as you say, with Lin speaking out against the spike in racist acts against Asian-Americans during this pandemic. Lin, who now plays for the Warriors G League affiliate, having risen to prominence -- just to remind our viewers, back in 2012 he was the breakout star of the New York Knicks, his success then dubbed as "Lin-sanity" at the time.

Lin tweeting, though, he won't be naming the person coronavirus while he was playing basketball. The 32-year-old saying "I know this will disappoint some of you, but I'm not naming or shaming anyone. What good does it do in this situation for someone to be torn down? It doesn't make my community safer or solve any of our long-term problems with racism."


Earlier, Lin, who became the first Asian-American to win an NBA title while playing for the Toronto Raptors, very movingly sharing more on social media about the racism he's experienced on the court. These words are really powerful, Fred. Take a listen to this. This is from a Facebook post, Lin writing, "We are tired of being told that we don't experience racism.

We are tired of being told to keep our heads down and not make trouble. We are tired of Asian-American kids growing up and being asked where they're really from, of having our eyes mocked, of being objectified as exotic, or being told we're inherently unattractive.

Being Asian-American doesn't mean we don't experience poverty and racism. Being a nine-year NBA veteran doesn't protect me from being called "coronavirus" on the court. And being a man of faith doesn't mean I don't fight for justice for myself and for others. So here we are again, sharing how we feel. Is anyone listening?"

Really powerful, as I said, moving to hear that. The Warriors head coach Steve Kerr certainly is listening, praising Lin for his courageous stance. Take a listen to this.


STEVE KERR, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS HEAD COACH: Really powerful. I applaud Jeremy for his words and echo his sentiments regarding racism against the Asian-American community. It's just so ridiculous.


SNELL: Steve Kerr, as you say. It really is very, very difficult to process. But it's out there, it's been publicized by Jeremy Lin. Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: Very strong, powerful words from Jeremy Lin. Patrick Snell, thank you so much.

Lady Gaga's French bulldogs Koji and Gustav are now back home and safe and sound. Two of her three dogs were stolen Wednesday night in a violent robbery that left dog walker Ryan Fischer hospitalized with a gunshot wound. A $500,000 reward was offered by the singer for the safe return of her pets. The dogs were dropped off unharmed at the Los Angeles Police Department by a woman Friday night. It's unclear if she was connected to the robbery, and police are still investigating the attack and have no one in custody.

We're back in a moment.



WHITFIELD: One of the electric companies accused of price gouging during the deadly winter storm that hammered Texas last week has now been kicked out of the state's electricity market. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, also known as ERCOT, removed Griddy Electric. Some of the Griddy's customers saw bills in thousands of dollars following power outages. Griddy claims it was forced to hike prices as ERCOT raised its prices due to high demand.

Meantime, as Texas tries to return to normal for the demand -- the demand for plumbers now across the state continues to grow as hundreds try to get broken pipes and damaged water heaters fixed. Here is CNN's Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Texas plumbing supply used to be just for the pros, plumbers. Now it's everyone scouring stores everywhere for parts to get the water flowing.

ALFRED WEBSTER, HOME HAS MULTIPLE LEAKS: I'm so tired of running to places trying to find pieces. That's the thing about the job, you've got to go here and there and there and there to find just one piece. And if you go in Lowe's right now and Home Depot, them shelves are like skeletons. There ain't nothing in there. Nobody got nothing.

MARQUEZ: Alfred Webster works nights and has spent the last four days trying to fix busted pipes.

MARQUEZ: You fix one leak, and then you find another over there.

WEBSTER: I found about five leaks.

MARQUEZ: Five leaks so far.

More than a week after a Texas-size chill brought two days plus of subfreezing temperatures and widespread blackouts, the hard reality of no running water, pipes shattered and ruptured across the lone star state.

GLENN FULLER, OWNER, TEXAS PLUMBING SUPPLY: In five days, on some items, we sold more in five days than we sold the entire year last year.

MARQUEZ: Really?

FULLER: In five days on certain items.

MARQUEZ: Modern Plumbing Company has fielded 7,000 inquiries, done 800 jobs, and has another 500 on the books. There are 14 crews working 24/7.

JOSH HOLLUB, SUPERVISOR, MODERN PLUMBING COMPANY: We have a very strong network of plumbers. And they are proud people, and they're working hard. And a lot of people are going through and pulling the same strings that we are trying to get things done for folks. And I'm proud to be part of that.

MARQUEZ: And it's not just plumbers and plumbing supplies running short. The need for water and food growing.

TOMEKA BREWSTER, BIBLE WAY AND HOUSTON FOOD BANK: There has been so many families that have come through still not -- they don't have water. They don't have -- some families may not have lights. It's been a great, great need since this winter storm.

MARQUEZ: The Houston food bank on some days serving up more than a million pounds of food and water.

With the pandemic, with the storm, how tough has it been?


MARQUEZ: Why? What are you out of? What are you missing?

ROUGEAU: The thing is water, and bread, and lunch meat on baking something besides, and canned goods -- everything.


MARQUEZ: The cold weather and storm long gone, the aftermath only now coming into sharp focus.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Houston, Texas.


WHITFIELD: Abraham Lincoln is the often hailed as one of America's greatest presidents, who ended slavery and saved the country from collapse. But the truth is more nuanced than that. This week's episode of the new CNN original series "Lincoln, Divided We Stand," provides a revealing look at Lincoln's election to presidency and the challenges he faced as he entered the White House. Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many people came to Lincoln after the election and said, OK, you have to say something to conciliate the south. You have to reassure them again that you will not take action against the institution of slavery in the south. Other people came to him and said you have got to reaffirm that you are anti-slavery. So Lincoln decided to say absolutely nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he believed that if he did not do anything, he would be able to return those states that had seceded from the union without touching slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He believed that the country was in-dissolvable, and that pro-union sentiment would prevail and that there would be opportunity to work things out. And I think he unrealistically held that view longer than he should have.


WHITFIELD: All right, joining us right now, Edna Greene Medford. She's a professor of history at Howard University, my alma mater, and the author of "Lincoln and Emancipation." Professor, so good to see you.


WHITFIELD: Today I've had two Howardites join me, Father Nealy (ph) who says he took a few classes there, and he is a Bison. So talk to me about Lincoln and the legacy. The country was at bitter odds over slavery during the election of 1860. And while it only existed in the south largely, it really had a huge impact on the economy, society, culture of the whole country. Tell us about that.

MEDFORD: Slavery had always been important to the country, even before it was a country, while they were still colonies. So even though you had enslaved labor facilitating agriculture in the south, you had enslaved people building towns and cities in the north as well, and participating in commercial aspects of the economy in the north. And after the revolution with American independence, slavery was being phased out in the north, but it was still important to the north.

So merchants, shippers, bankers became wealthy as a consequence of their association with these southern planters. And the issue of slavery enters the political discourse not because of humanitarian concerns so much, but because of the economic, because it was understood that whoever controlled Congress would also be able to pass legislation that would benefit one part of the nation over the other. And so that's why slavery became central to those political issues.

WHITFIELD: And in his inauguration speech, Lincoln tried to encourage the south to come back to the union. What was his message to the south? And why didn't it work?

MEDFORD: Well, the message was very conciliatory. Lincoln started by trying to assure them that he intended to do nothing about slavery where it already existed, so they need not fear anything from his administration. He did indicate to them, however, that he planned to protect federal installations.

He was even willing, though, to go as far as to support them in their insistence that the Fugitive Slave Act be enforced. And that was really important because it was an act that allowed slaveholders to actually chase their human property to the north and recapture them, and required that these jurisdictions help in that apprehension.

And so although some people felt that his address was right on point, because he was trying to bring the nation back together and trying to stem the tide of secession, African-Americans did not appreciate that Lincoln was will to mortgage their freedom, to not assist them in getting their freedom at a time when they felt that this was the perfect opportunity to end slavery. But he was not interested in that at that moment in 1861.

WHITFIELD: We are looking forward to yet another installation. Howard professor Edna Greene Medford, thank you so much for being with me today.

MEDFORD: My pleasure. WHITFIELD: And be sure to tune in an all new episode of "Lincoln,

Divided We Stand," that airs tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. only on CNN.