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FDA Authorizes Third COVID-19 Vaccine For Emergency Use; CPAC Becomes Base For Trump Reboot With His Speech Tomorrow; "New York Times:" Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) Accused Of Sexual Harassment By A Second Former Aide; Attack Against Asian-Americans On The Rise Due To Pandemic; CNN Goes Inside The Dangerous QAnon Movement; Sources: FBI Identifies Suspect In Death Of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 27, 2021 - 20:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is 3/3/2021?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This year, the 3rd of March.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What? Really? I haven't gone to school in such a long time.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to viewers in the United States and around the world on this Saturday evening. You are live in the CNN Newsroom.

And breaking news tonight, a third COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Deemed safe and effective, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to clear its final hurdles at the CDC by early next week, and it couldn't come soon enough as more than half a million American lives have been lost to this pandemic.

CNN Natasha Chen has the very latest on how this FDA emergency use authorization will change the fight against the virus.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A third coronavirus vaccine will likely become available as soon as next week now that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine for emergency use.

DR. GREG POLAND, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, MAYO CLINIC: Significantly, the vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19.

CHEN: The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires no complex refrigeration and only one dose. The company says it's ready to begin shipping doses as early as Sunday.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Having an additional safe and effective vaccine will help protect more people faster.

CHEN: And more people are eager to get one. A Kaiser Family Foundation report on Friday showed 55 percent of surveyed adults in the U.S. had either had at least one vaccine dose or is eager to get one. That's up from early December when only about one-third of adults surveyed wanted a vaccine.

There's still more demand and supply especially after last week's winter storm sweeping through the Midwest and Texas disrupted the supply chain all over the U.S.

Vaccination sites like this one outside of Atlanta saw none of that severe weather but are feeling the effects. This after afternoon, they're seeing all the people whose second dose appointments can canceled last week due to shipments delayed caused by the weather.

More groups of people, like younger adults with underlying health conditions, are becoming eligible for the vaccine in some states.

SOPHIA ELGGREN, TEEN RECEIVED VACCINE: I think I was actually shaking because I was like, oh, my gosh, I can go get it. I think the youngest one that had been through so far, and so they were all, like, wait, we don't know what to do yet.

CHEN: With nearly 7 percent of the country fully vaccinated, the number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue to stay lower than the holiday peak, but majority of U.S. states have plateaued worsened when it comes to new cases. Only 17 states showed downward trends.

This relative progress is threatened by rapidly spreading variants.


CHEN: And the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in many states, New York nursing home reopened with restrictions Friday to some visitors and Tennessee lifts restrictions visiting its long-term facilities Sunday. South Carolina will lift restrictions on mass gathering starting Monday.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I'm worried that people are lifting restrictions, saying this is over, when the reality is, we're not over yet. We're really right now in a race between variants and vaccines and we have to do whatever we can to shut down this virus.

CHEN: Nastasha Chen, CNN, Atlanta.


BROWN: Conservatives are looking for a reset this weekend at their national convention in Florida.


But after losing the White House and the Senate, there is one speaker who commands more attention than all the others, just hours from now, former President Donald J. Trump.

Jim Acosta is in Orlando tonight watching a CPAC like none other. Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: Pam, even though Trump is a defeated ex-president, this is a Trump love fest at CPAC. He is, of course, going to be giving their closing speech on Sunday at this conference.

But in addition to that, you're seeing Trump world figures roaming the corridors of the CPAC. We saw Trump adviser Roger Stone making the rounds, talking to fan boys who would come up to him and ask for his autograph, ask for a selfie with Roger Stone.

We also, at one point, tried to catch up with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We tried to ask Pompeo whether or not he still stands by this comment that he made shortly after the 2020 election when he said that there would be a continuation or a transition to a new Trump administration. Obviously, that didn't happen and Pompeo didn't want to talk to us.

But all throughout this convention, speaker after speaker, they are making the case that the future of the Republican Party depends on Donald Trump, and we saw that earlier in the day when Congressman Jim Banks was making that case to the crowd here at CPAC. Here is what happened.


REP. JIM BANKS (R-IN): The most popular Republican figure in Congress today is Kevin McCarthy.

Let me tell you who the least popular Republicans in the party are today. They're those few, very few men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is tittering out there. I just want you to know.

BANKS: Very few Republicans, the least popular in our party are the ones who want to erase Donald Trump and Donald Trump supporters from our party.

If that happens, we won't win back the majority in 2022.


ACOSTA: And, Pam, anytime you try to talk to some of the attendees here at CPAC about whether Donald Trump, in fact, lost the election or whether he had anything to do with the violence that was saw in January 6th, some of these CPAC attendees will become irate, even hostile with you. As for the former president, as he prepares for his speech on Sunday, he is meeting with ex-advisers down at Mar-a-Lago. In fact, tonight, he is having dinner with his former acting director of National Intelligence, Rick Grenell. Pam?

BROWN: All right. Thanks to Jim Acosta.

And my next guest is a Republican who was split with the mainstream GOP on big issues, like COVID and the election, Utah Governor Spencer Cox is with me now. Nice to have you on, Governor.

GOV. SPENCER COX (R-UT): Hey, it's great to be with you, Pamela.

BROWN: So let's start with this breaking news that the FDA granted an emergency use authorization for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. How big of a development is this and have you been given details you need to plan for the arrival of these new vaccines?

COX: Yes, we have. We've been working very closely with other governors and with the Biden administration, assuming that this would be happening. We all hoped it would be happen. We've been praying it would happen. And it did, indeed, happen.

And we expect that we will be getting several thousand doses within the next couple of days. That's been open to us. Again, we've been planning for it. This is big news. It's a single-dose vaccine. It doesn't require the refrigeration and it's just another tool we have in fighting this terrible virus.

And, honestly, right now, of course, we have a supply problem. Demand is far outpacing supply. But with what we know from Moderna and Pfizer and now with Johnson & Johnson, by end of March and into April, we're going to have a demand problem, and that's going to be a better problem to have.

BROWN: Well, let me just ask you really quickly though. So, you're saying you're going to get the vaccine, you've been coordinating with the Biden administration and you expect it to be soon. Does that mean you expect shots in the arms from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in this coming week?

COX: Yes, that's correct. We expect shots in arms this coming week. We know they have about 4 million doses on hand right now ready to go out. They'll start shipping those out, we believe, on Monday. We should have those shots, we think, on Wednesday, and shots in arms on Thursday and Friday. That's a big deal for our state and for Americans everywhere.

BROWN: That is a big deal. And you've also been very optimistic about your state's trajectory overall with COVID and you've even made this prediction earlier this week. Let's listen.


COX: I'm telling you, I'm not going to be wearing this on the 4thof July and I'm going to be in a parade somewhere, and you're going to be there covering the parade, and you're going to be really excited, and we're going to put these in the fireworks and blow them up or burn them or something. I don't know what. We're going to do something.

But if I'm wrong, then I'll come here and I'll admit that I'm wrong and that we're going to do something different.


BROWN: Now, as you know, Dr. Fauci has warned we could be wearing masks until next year and health experts say Americans need to be vigilant because there could be another surge with these new variants. Does your rhetoric about no masks by July 4th undermine that message that people should not let their guards down now?

COX: No. In fact, I think it's the exact opposite. And I'm really worried about that message that we're hearing. And, look, Dr. Fauci and others, they are brilliant and they get paid, their job is to be cautious.


That's what they're supposed to do. And so they're looking at all possibilities out there and warning that we have to be cautious.

But I think they may be having the opposite effect. If we keep telling people that nothing is going to change with these miracle drugs that we have, then they're going to take their foot off the pedal now because people aren't going to be able to do this forever. They need to know that there's hope. They need to know that there's something bright at the end of this, and we have that now. We have these vaccines. They are miracle vaccines.

I mean, the numbers of incredible. Nobody -- 75,000 people with these three vaccines in the United States during the trials, not one of them died. Not one of them was hospitalized after four weeks. This is the message people need to hear so that they will be careful now, they'll get the vaccine, they'll get the second dose, or the first dose with Johnson & Johnson, and knowing that we're going to get out of this. That's what's going to keep people vigilant, not telling them that maybe in a year or two from now we'll be able to take our masks off.

So I actually think that message is harmful. I think a message of positivity we have, we know something better is coming is the right message right now.

BROWN: And you're willing to amend that message if we still see surges and the numbers like we're seeing right now, right?

COX: Oh, of course. And that's what's important. Again, the experts have been wrong. By the way, go back and look in December. Every single expert, and every single model said that right now, we would be peaking, going into March, we would be peaking and then slowly coming down. And the exact opposite happened.

So, look, we just don't know about this virus. We learn and we adapt. But having a hopeful message right now in 2021 with what we know about where the surge is, and it's falling, where vaccines are, what's happening with variants right now, all of the news is positive, and we need to be sharing that with people so they will get the vaccine so that they will be ready to get their life back to normal.

BROWN: A lot is positive. But the variants that we're seeing emerge, that's certainly not positive and of concern, but I see the argument that you're making, that you need to be optimistic. It's interesting though, because, as you know, many Republicans felt that mask mandates and COVID restrictions took away they're freedoms. Former President Trump led that charge on messaging. Tomorrow, he'll speak at CPAC.

Is he the future of the Republican Party, in your view?

COX: Well, I don't know what the future of the Republican Party is right now. I just want to go back to variants for a second. We are worried about variants. But the latest news on variants is better than what we've been hearing a month or two ago. So we're cautiously optimistic there.

But, look, Republicans will decide the future of the Republican Party. Certainly, he plays a very important role, just like President Obama did when he was finished. He was someone that people looked to. I think he's one of the reasons that President Biden was elected, was he had a long tail that carried Biden along with him, and that's what presidents do. They're a part of the party, as they lead, whether, how important he will be in four years, I can't say, but he certainly is an important part of the party right now.

BROWN: But what's unique about this is he lost the White House and he is essentially being exulted as CPAC, that we're seeing right now. Would you support Trump if he were the Republican nominee in 2024?

COX: Well, it would be difficult for me. I've said that before. It was difficult for me in the past. And so, look, I'm probably not the best guest to talk about this. I'm the boring guest who hasn't watched one minute of CPAC. We're in the middle of our legislative session and we're trying to govern, and we're dealing with this pandemic. I don't pay attention to CPAC and those sorts of things.

I don't think most Republicans do. And so, again, we'll have a process that we go through. We'll -- I like builders. I believe in people who are trying to build the party up and build people up and make our country a better place. We haven't always seen that. And so I hoped that there are builders that rise to the top of the party.

BROWN: All right. Republican Governor Spencer Cox, thank you for coming on the show. We hope you'll come back and talk with us as we continue to cover COVID and all kinds of issues.

COX: Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: And we have more breaking news coming into the CNN Newsroom. The New York Times is reporting that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is now being accused of sexual harassment by a second former aide.

Also ahead, a rally in New York in support of Asian-Americans after a surge of hate crimes. Actor, author activist George Takei joins me later to discuss.



BROWN: "The New York Times" is reporting that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is being accused of sexual harassment by a second former aide. A women telling The New York Times that Governor Cuomo harassed her late last spring.

The former executive assistant and health policy adviser for Cuomo claims at one point she was alone in the office with him and he asked her if she, quote, had ever been with an older man. She left the job in November.

In a statement to The New York Times today Cuomo denied making advances towards the accuser, adding, quote, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.

And he is now called for an outside review of the matter. Earlier this week, Cuomo denied allegations recently made by a separate former aide who accused him of sexually harassing her in 2018.

Well, Donald Trump is the clear headliner tomorrow at CPAC but plenty of big names and rising stars in the GOP are looking for breakout moments of their own this weekend.

I want to bring in CNN Political Commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart, and CNN Political Commentator and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona. Ladies, great to have you on this Saturday evening, much to discuss.

And, Alice, I'm going to start with you given everything that's going on with CPAC. Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, is certainly among those whose name is growing in popularity among conservatives.


I want to get your reaction to what he told the CPAC audience on Friday. Let's watch.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Now, Florida is leading on the issues that matter to conservatives. We don't spout hollow rhetoric. We take decisive action. And what's true in Florida is true for conservatives across the nation. We cannot, we will not go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear.


BROWN: So, Alice, when he trashes the GOP of yesteryear, what is he talking about exactly? And do you agree with him on what the GOP is now?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's a great question, Pam, because if you look at since former President Trump was in office, we lost the House and the Senate and the White House, but that being said, he might certainly be someone who is defeated as a president but he is still the de facto head of the Republican Party and certainly CPAC.

And the reason for that is because a lot of these people look at President Trump, former President Trump, as more of a political person and then they look at politics as a pragmatic means for implementing policies that are consistent with their principles. And if you look at the people that are at CPAC, they are strongly conservative, constitutionalists, they support limited government, individual liberties, freedom of speech, and they're looking at Donald Trump as a vessel for those policies that are important to them.

In terms of the demeanor and tone, for many of them, that just adds even more icing on the cake for them. But the key is we cannot continue to go down this revenge politics and what we're going to hear tomorrow from the president questioning the integrity of the election, because a lot of that is simply not going to work.

And we need to keep Donald Trump and the 74 million people who voted for him on board moving forward into the next election but we also need to grow. We need to bring in a lot of the people that stood on the sidelines, because they didn't support the tone and tenor of Trump.

BROWN: And, Maria, I'm going to get you in just a second but I want to follow-up with you, Alice, because your former boss spoke, Senator Ted Cruz, with this message at CPAC. Let's listen.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): And they want him to go away. Let me tell you this right now. Donald J. Trump ain't going anywhere.


BROWN: That's a bit of a surprising statement from Cruz. A few years ago, is he right?

STEWART: Well, it would have been. I was with him a few years ago when he would not have said that by any stretch of the imagination, I can assure you. But the truth is, as we're hearing and it's quite evident that Donald Trump is here and he's not going anywhere. And for the people that are the core base of the party, they love that and I think that's going to be a strong benefit for Republicans as we get to primaries, but it obviously it's not a winning formula for general elections.

And I'm hoping that we turn all of the focus from now until 2022 on nominating strong, conservatives and Republicans that cannot only win a primary but also will win in a general election so we can win back the House and in hopes of winning back the Senate.

BROWN: What do you think, Maria? MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that the Republican Party is absolutely still in the throes of the cult personality of Donald Trump. I don't think it has anything to do with policies. I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that CPAC is full of constitutionalists. Because, in fact, if that was right, they would have been the first ones to step up to the plate and tell Donald Trump to stop spreading the big lie of the conspiracy that he keeps stating, and he probably will restate it again tomorrow, that he actually won the election, and that it was stolen from him.

I think this bodes very badly for the Republican Party moving forward. Look, some of these candidates that are bowing at the altar of Donald Trump, they're not bowing at the altar of conservative principles. They're bowing at the altar of Donald Trump. They might see short-term gain because they will have Donald Trump's support them either with money or tweet -- well, he can't do tweets anymore -- statements, speeches.

But long-term, look, the party that Donald Trump is trying to grow is not growing. What you're going to see tomorrow, and if this is correct, if Jason Miller and -- I'm sorry, Jason and Stephen Miller were the ones who actually helped him write his speech, it's going to be full of anti-immigrant rhetoric, of, you know, building the border, of immigration in terms of America first and those are not policies that go towards growing the party.

They need to appeal more to a multicultural segment of the country that is absolutely growing, more African-Americans, more Latinos, more women. And what you are seeing from a general election standpoint, Pam, is that this is a party that is shrinking.


So, you know what, as a Democrat, I'm like, bring it on, because the more that Republicans bow at the altar of Donald Trump and start kissing his ring and have no idea how to go about growing their party, the better it is going to be for Democrats in all kinds of elections up and down the ticket.

BROWN: But does it worry you at all, Maria, should it worry Democrats more that they're seeing so many conservatives, even ones that had come out against Trump, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, even Lindsey Graham right after the January 6th riot, and now they are all kissing the ring again? Should that make Democrats nervous, that he still holds that much sway over the party? And he did win the election? He lost this last election but the one before that, he did win.

CARDONA: Yes. And, absolutely, it makes us nervous, Pam. It is actually spine-tingling and scary, because what you saw were supposedly leaders in the Republican Party who were folks who understood how important it was to stand up for the Constitution, and they were there at Donald Trump's side when he was posing this lie and telling followers that he was the one who won the election.

Mitch McConnell, he got kudos for a couple of floor speeches where he actually said that Donald Trump was in the wrong, but what did he do for four years, Pam? He along with so many other leaders of the Republican Party, they enabled Trump. They gave him the power. They handed the power over to him.

So, yes, in that sense, it absolutely is scary, because you do have 74 million people who supported Donald Trump. I don't think the bulk of them were supportive of the Trump riot that happened on January 6th that killed six Americans, but many of them are so susceptible to whatever comes out of Donald Trump's mouth. So many of them, I believe, have been pushed into the cult of Donald Trump.

And when you have Republican leaders who are not able to --

BROWN: Okay. Quickly, Alice, because I'm getting wrapped in my ear, but, Alice, I want to (INAUDIBLE) very quickly.

STEWART: Very quickly. We've spent this entire type talking about divide in the GOP and how it's divided. But one thing is for sure, GOP and Republicans are united in the effort to stop the policies -- progressive policies of President Biden, who ran as being a moderate and he is doing everything he can to push progressive policies.

BROWN: We're going to have you ladies back on, because I see you shaking your head, Maria, and there's more to discuss on that front as well. So, ladies, please, come back on the show soon to continue this discussion. Thank you so much.

STEWART: Thanks, Pam.

CARDONA: Thank you, Pam, great to be with you.

BROWN: And up next on this Saturday evening, speaking to the legendary actor, author and activist George Takei about the disturbing surge of hate crimes against Asian-Americans. We'll be right back.



BROWN: Right now, the U.S. has seen a startling rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans. Police attribute almost all of those crimes to the coronavirus pandemic, and you may recognize actor George Takei from his years as Mr. Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series and movies. But in his memoir, "They Called Us Enemy." Takei, takes us inside his real-life childhood as a prisoner and an American internment camp for people of Japanese descent during World War Two.

It is a sobering story that began with Takei just four years old and born in the U.S. being forced along with his family from their home, shipped to relocation centers, and held for years under armed guard. George Takei joins us now.

George, it's so nice to have you on the show really is and you obviously have such an important perspective, experience voice on this issue with everything you went through as a child. What is it like now to be going through this, this rise in attacks on Asian-Americans? GEORGE TAKEI, AMERICAN ACTOR: Well, thank you for the invitation. Yes, this is very, very concerning. And it's terrorizing in many sectors of this country. Asian-American hate has been as organic to American history, not as long as discrimination against African-Americans that began in 1619. But it's been a steady ferment in the United States from the very first Asian that came to this -- to this country about the middle of the 19th century. That was the Chinese coming first.

And in my hometown of Los Angeles, back in 1871, there was a case where a white woman complained about being harassed by a Chinese man. And very quickly, a vigilante mob formed poured into Chinatown at random dragged out 17 Chinese-American -- young Chinese men, and they strung them up in the Central Plaza of Los Angeles from this giant tree. That Plaza is still there. It's a historic monument. But 17 Chinese were lynched there, back in 1871.

And so, whenever there is an incident against Asians, it surges up. And as you noted in my introduction, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and we're Americans, my mother was born in Sacramento, my father was born in Japan, but he was brought to San Francisco when he was a young boy. And he was educated and reared in San Francisco. And so, he was Japanese in birth only, but he was of Japanese ancestry.


That -- after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, this xenophobic hysteria swept across the country, and that hysteria reached even the presidency of the United States. And -- I don't know what it is but --

BROWN: This is -- there we go.

TAKEI: Sorry about that.

BROWN: No -- that's -- we're all used to these technical issues in the era of COVID.

TAKEI: We are in the COVID technological -- sometimes that sound goes out. But the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an executive order ordering all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast, approximately 120,000 of us, which I happen to be one of which I happen to be one, to be summarily rounded up at gunpoint and imprisoned in barbed wire prison camps. And I remember my experiences in three of those camps. We were first sent to the horse stables of Santa Anita because the camps weren't built yet.

So, we were imprisoned in a horse stall. Can you imagine three children and my parents in a horse stall until for about three or four months, and then we were shipped out to the swamps of Arkansas. They were all in the most desolate, and godforsaken places in this country. And we were there for about year and a half, and then transferred to another camp in Northern California.

Here it is again.

BROWN: Oh, no. TAKEI: Something's wrong with this. And so now, the President that came before President Biden, during the pandemic, continued to refer to the pandemic -- or the virus as the Chinese virus or the Wuhan virus or Kung Flu and just to -- agitated and it came to a head again, surging, and Asian-Americans were -- innocent Asian-Americans had nothing to do with it, were victimized by these hate attacks.

In San Francisco, an elderly Asian man, I think he was 81, was walking down the sidewalk. And this 19-year-old boy came running toward him at full speed down the sidewalk and smacked him down on the sidewalk with such impact that he was killed, he died.

BROWN: I mean, there's so many other horrific examples in in New York. You saw the -- we just heard about this incident there where an Asian man was stabbed in the torso, went right through his liver. I mean, it's just --

TAKEI: Where a woman set on fire.

BROWN: A woman -- I mean, it is disgusting. There is no excuse for this. And I am so glad you laid out the historical perspective too and what you went through as a 4-year-old little boy. I'm just picturing you in a stall, a horse stall with your family for three to four months. And then to think what is happening right now --

TAKEI: Sorry.

BROWN: No, that's fine. These things happen. But I want to, I want to just ask you, though, as a 4-year-old going through that, and now, in this time where Asian-Americans are being targeted, what is it like for you personally? I mean, obviously, you're famous, you're well- known. Sorry, you're --

TAKEI: Brad, something's wrong here.

BROWN: Well, perhaps we can go back to you, George. And once you sort out the technical issue there. I think all of us who work from home during this time can really --

TAKEI: Sorry about that.

BROWN: OK. So, you're back. OK. So, let me just wrap this up. What is the personal experience been like for you? I mean, are you concerned about leaving your house now and just walking down the sidewalk? I mean, we've heard from many people who are now even afraid of doing simple daily activities because of what we're seeing.

TAKEI: Well, we are strict observers of the quarantine protocols, so we don't leave the house. Only once a day do we leave the house and that's at 6:30 in the morning, when we go off for our 45-minute walk in the neighborhood and we live in a very safe neighborhood. Hancock Park, so that's the only time we expose ourselves to that.


But it is really frightening and I can't imagine people who live in other neighborhoods Asians, Asian-Americans going out that we are fearful of going out and being victimized and it is random, it is senseless, it is irrational, and it is terrifying. And then -- well, some people have been killed.

BROWN: It just makes your blood boil. It's just so awful. But George Takei, thank you for coming on and lending your voice to this really important issue that's happening right now in our country. And we hope to have you back. Hopefully, we'll get the sound issues worked out for the next time you come on the show, George. Thanks so much for coming on.

TAKEI: Accurate issue, I hope.

BROWN: All right, we'll be right back.



BROWN: FBI officials have reportedly put a name to a person they're focused on and the violent death of a U.S. Capitol Police Officer January 6. The FBI now believes Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was hit with bear spray by someone in the mob, and that contributed significantly to his death. Officials haven't released the name of the person they've identified, and it's unclear what charges that they will be able to bring.

One driving force behind that deadly capital insurrection was the QAnon movement. Several of those charged in the riot have expressed support for the extremist conspiracy theory, which says that Democrats and celebrities are part of a satanic pedophilia ring and calls for their mass execution. Obviously, it's made up. But even though President Biden has been in office more than a month, true believers of QAnon have a new theory.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan explains.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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'll be arrests and that'll include a lot of the line media and then they'll be militarized --

O'SULLIVAN: They keep saying that for years and --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it must have been years. It must have been years.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Believe me. We're taking -- it's a 6,000-year old death cult. We can't take it down that quick. O'SULLIVAN: I understand you're very passionate Trump supporter, right? But you surely -- you surely can admit that the people who storm the capital 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 Antifa, the BLM dressed up as trump supporters.

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? Well, 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's 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: Oh, Trump didn't lose the election, sir. Trump did not lose the election, and that's where we differ. And that's where, I believe, the information that Mike Lindell has put out --

O'SULLIVAN: The pillow guy.

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

O'SULLIVAN: So, you trust a man -- you trust a man more who sells pillows than the Republican officials in Georgia?


O'SULLIVAN: But you realize that sounds crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me 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 on my 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 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 want to believe CNN want to give me a chance to speak the truth.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What a miracle. Praise God.

O'SULLIVAN: I mean, 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: Oh, I know it isn't. I know it isn't. Not much for believing. I have to know.


O'SULLIVAN: And, Pam, obviously, that's all bizarre, it's ridiculous, t's false. But as we saw on January 6, these sort of conspiracy theories can lead to violence and all eyes are going to be on Orlando tomorrow here in Orlando where President Trump -- former President Trump will be speaking for the first time since he left office, and he is expected tomorrow to perpetuate the lie that it's at the base of all of this. The lie that is justifying why some of these people that I spoke to want to see a military coup like what is happening in Myanmar, the lie that the election was in some way stolen.


BROWN: No words Donie O'Sullivan. Thank you for bringing us that report. We'll be right back.


BROWN: Well, last night, the House held one of the most consequential congressional votes in recent history on President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. But more than a dozen of Donald Trump's closest Republican allies in the House skipped it. They had their colleagues vote on their behalf, signing letters saying they couldn't attend, quote, due to the ongoing public health emergency.

For the record, those GOP lawmakers were all in Orlando and listed as speakers at CPAC to energize their base and boost their own profiles. And one, Paul Gosar of Arizona played hooky not only for CPAC, but for an appearance at a far-right conference hosted by a prominent white nationalist here. Here he was trying to clean up that appearance this morning at CPAC.


REP. PAUL GOSAR (R-AZ): Before I get to that, I want to tell you, I denounce when we talk about white racism, that's not appropriate. I believe in a strong immigration system, but illegal immigration system and we have to be very pointed and basically looking throughout the federal government for those programs that are not authorized by Congress and don't have checks and balances.



BROWN: But back to the vote by proxy rule, it's not just Republicans being liberal with it. Last May, two Democrats congressman Charlie Crist and Darren Soto were criticized when they attended a SpaceX launch after using the public health emergency justification to miss votes. That same month, House Republicans tried to block the pandemic vote by proxy roll, but more than 12 of them just took advantage of that same rule yesterday.

Well, thank you so much for joining me on this busy Saturday evening. I'm Pamela Brown. We'll see you tomorrow 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Have a good night, everyone.