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CNN NEWSROOM

Former President Repeats Election Lies at Conference; Anti-Coup Protestors March the Day After Deadly Crackdowns; Hearing Delayed for Hong Kong Activists Facing Charges; WHO: Some Countries Undermining Global Vaccine Efforts; U.S. Condemns Weekend Houthi Attack Against Saudi Arabia; Migrant Numbers Surging at Mexico-Guatemala Border. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired March 1, 2021 - 00:00   ET

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


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes.

[00:00:18]

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, former U.S. President Donald Trump back in the political spotlight and hinting at another White House run.

Myanmar's ousted leader readies for a new court appearance just one day after the deadliest day of protests since the military coup.

And migrants from Guatemala on the move, trying to escape the pandemic and poverty for a better life in the U.S. under a new president.

Welcome, everyone. In his first major appearance since leaving the White House, Donald Trump looked to reassert his grip on the Republican Party and hinted about his future in politics.

But as you would expect, his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, was vintage Trump. He insisted that the party is united, while he also attacked the Republican lawmakers who voted for his second impeachment, singling many of them out by name. A clear sign he is seeking revenge and a far cry from unity.

Trump repeated his lies about election fraud. He had no apologies for the January 6 insurrection, and he vowed to help put Republicans back in power in Congress, and the presidency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Together in the coming years, we will carry forward the torch of American liberty. We will lead the conservative movement and the Republican Party back to a totally conclusive victory, and we've had tremendous victories. Don't ever forget it. With your help, we will take back the House. We will win the Senate. And then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. And I wonder who that will be. I wonder who that will be?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Still, it seems Trump's grip on the party might not be ironclad. A straw poll at the conference found just 55 percent of the attendees, all of them devotees of Trump, would actually vote for him for the Republican nomination in 2024.

CNN's Jim Acosta is at the conference in Orlando, Florida, with more on Trump's speech.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF U.S. DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: Former President Donald Trump closed out this year's CPAC with a speech that was filled with one lie after another, but there was no falsehood bigger than the big lie that he has been telling since November 3, insisting that he won the election when that is just not the case. Trump went after the Supreme Court, scolding the justices for not overturning the election results.

And he went after those Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach him, urging his voters to throw him out of office the next time they're up for election. Here's more of what Trump had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have a very sick and corrupt electoral process that must be fixed immediately. This election was rigged.

I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we've begun together, we went through a journey like nobody else has. There's never been a journey like it. There's never been a journey so successful. We began it together four years ago, and it is far from being over. We just started.

This alone should be reason enough for Democrats to suffer withering losses in the midterms and to lose the White House decisively four years from now.

Actually, as you know, they just lost the White House. But it's one of those things.

We're not starting new parties. You know, they kept saying, He's going to start a brand-new party. We have the Republican Party. It's going to unite and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party. Wouldn't that be brilliant? Let's start a new party, and let's divide our vote so that you can never win. No, we're not interested in that.

ACOSTA: And Trump teased the possibility that he may run for president once again in 2024, but he said he will not do so with another political party or a party that he may start on his own, telling the crowd at CPAC that he remains a Republican.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Orlando.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: Joining me now from Allentown, Pennsylvania is former

congressman and CNN political commentator, Charlie Dent.

Congressman, a lot to get through. I mean, this former president clearly wanting to run the party as his own. But you know, I found it interesting, that straw poll of CPAC attendees. Fifty-five percent want him to be the next president. Which -- correct me if I'm wrong. That's pretty pathetic from a crowd of fervent loyalists, and it makes you wonder what the number might be like six or 12 months from now.

[00:05:11]

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Michael, first let me just say something about the CPAC straw polls. They're typically fairly meaningless. For years, you know, Ron and Rand Paul would often do extremely well in those -- in those straw polls. And of course, they never really won the nomination or even came close.

But nevertheless, the straw poll, you know, look, that whole CPAC conference where Trump is was really dominated by, you know, the most sycophantic elements of the Republican Party, in fact, some of the most fringe elements. So one would have thought he would have done better, that Donald Trump would have done better than 55 percent.

But for the moment anyway, that party still belongs to Trump. For the moment. There's a long time between now and the next presidential election.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, and some of those potential contenders might decide to jump ship on Trump at some point. And several of them speaking there.

In the bigger picture, I'm trying to think of another one-term president of any party who lost the House, the Senate, the White House, lost the popular vote twice, impeached twice, who gets treated with such adulation and this sort of expectation of a return to power in this setting. Why is that, this fealty?

DENT: Well, you know, it was so mystifying to me, the fact that so many Republican leaders are doubling down on defeat. You just laid it out. I mean, the man's been impeached twice. He lost the popular vote twice. He cost Republicans the House and the Senate. And -- and so now they're saying, hey, let's do this again.

I mean, no. I mean, this is -- this is looking backwards. I mean, the party needs to grow, not shrink. And currently right now, the party is actually shrinking. I believe since January we've seen about 120,000 people across the country leave the Republican Party. In Pennsylvania I know it's been about 20,000 people alone since the -- since the insurrection.

So I -- it makes no sense to me why anybody things that embracing a disgraced, twice-impeached president is the path forward for the party. We still have a suburban problem here for Republicans. The suburbs are largely gone. And a big part of the reason was because of Donald Trump. So I don't think that embracing him advances the ball. HOLMES: And -- and to that point, I guess, you know, when you look at

-- not just what happened at CPAC, but generally, what happened with that so-called base, it's clear that, you know, there is a good-sized portion of -- of the party base that is OK with insurrection and still believes the big lie that the election was stolen.

I'm curious, you know, your thought on whether the extremist wing of the GOP has become almost too big to confront. When you have Jim Jordan, you've got Ted Cruz out there singing Trump's praises. And by refusing to confront that, are they normalizing it and -- and bringing that back into the mainstream of the party?

DENT: Yes. Look, there's no question about it that the fringe elements of the party have too large of a voice. Look no further than Georgia, where Marjorie Taylor Greene, you know, was welcomed into the Republican conference and -- and protected by many of her colleagues to keep her committee assignments.

I always felt since day one that she should not have been welcome into the Republican -- House Republican conference and should not have been seated on any committees. That's how you deal with people who are, you know, peddling 9/11 truther conspiracy theories, you know, that QAnon espouses. That's with the party needs to do. It needs to crack down on these fringe elements that have an outsized voice.

HOLMES: We've only got a minute left, but I do want to squeeze this in. I mean, we're talking about how the Republican Party goes forward in terms of, you know, growing the tent.

The base is loud. It's passionate, obviously. But that core Trump base, in purely numerical terms, it's not big enough to win elections, is it? It might swing a Republican primary, but Trump isn't big enough to win a national -- in a national sense. I mean, the party does have to grow.

DENT: That's correct. My own view is that Donald Trump, at least his vision for America, is too exclusionary. You know, politics is an exercise of inclusion, not exclusion; addition, not subtraction; multiplication, not division. And the party needs to grow.

And you -- That means we have to grow towards the center and also diversify. that means we have to embrace the diversity of the country, not fight it, like so many in the party leadership are currently doing.

So I do think we've reached a point where we're either going to break with Trump or not. And -- and if we don't resolve this thing -- if Republicans don't resolve this thing quickly, I think it's going to be very difficult for them to get governing majorities in the House and the Senate.

Now, by all rights, they should win the House majority back in two years, if history is any guide. But if there's going to be an internal fight within the Republican Party, then the election could become less of a referendum on Biden and Democrats, the midterm election, and more of a choice election, which is not something you want if you're a Republican going into the midterms.

[00:10:11]

HOLMES: Yes. Good point, good point, Charlie Dent. Thank you so much Appreciate the time.

DENT: You bet. Any time. Thanks.

HOLMES: Now, Myanmar's pro-democracy protesters are marching again after the deadliest day of crackdown since last month's military coup. The U.N. human rights office says 18 people were killed. More than 30 injured by police and military forces on Sunday.

But the protesters are back in the street showing their resilience and their defiance. They're demanding the army give back power to the civilian government, including Aung San Suu Kyi, the deposed leader. She's due to appear in court today.

Ivan Watson is following all of this for us from Hong Kong. I mean, this has just become more brutal and more deadly in the face of peaceful protest. How much further might it escalate?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, Sunday was clearly a turning point, Michael. There have been -- there has been at least one protester who's died as a result of injuries over the course of the last month. But we've seen a sudden escalation in the violence on the streets.

And not just in one location. According to the U.N. human rights office, there was deadly violence in at least seven different towns and cities across Myanmar on Sunday. I believe we have a map that we could show you just to indicate that -- that this wasn't in just the commercial capital of Yangon or in Mandalay, one of the largest cities, but you had almost simultaneous use of apparently deadly force by the security forces.

Again, according to the United Nations Human Rights Office, in at least 74 different locations all on the same day. That suggests a real change in the posture of the security forces against the demonstrators in the civil disobedience movement that has been out in the streets now for four straight weeks.

You mentioned that Aung San Suu Kyi, who was the de facto leader of the civilian government that was overthrown on February 1, she is due to appear in court. We have not been able to hear from her lawyer until now, who was also denied a chance to meet with her client before a previous court appearance. So we're not sure what's going to happen with that right now.

But it was a deadly day and really, a suggestion that there could be more of this deadly violence going forward -- Michael.

HOLMES: And Ivan, do we have any sense of what -- what the military's aim is? What it's doing is essentially ensuring that people are going to reject them and their political role completely. I mean, you can only suppress and repressed for so long. Is there any idea what the endgame is?

WATSON: Well, I mean, the military made the argument, and it tried to justify the coup on February 1, claiming that an election in November, where the main political party of Aung San Suu Kyi won resoundingly. That the election was stolen from them.

And the -- has used that as justification to -- to move out the civilian government. And the response has really been across all sectors of society, as well as the civil servants. So we have a lot of indications that the transport sector, for example, trains, and domestic flights have been all but paralyzed by people not going to work.

That in addition to a protest movement that is out on the streets day after day. The military has shut down Internet communications night after night for more than a week. That doesn't seem to have quelled the protest movement.

And then there have been a growing number of arrests usually taking place under cover of darkness, as well.

And the military seems to be increasingly isolated internationally. So the condemnations were pouring in from the violence on Sunday. Anthony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, tweeting, "We condemn the Burmese security force's abhorrent violence against the people of Burma and will continue to promote accountability for those responsible."

The U.N. secretary-general coming out with the statement condemning the violence and the military. And we have really interesting drama playing out in the U.N. General Assembly on Friday, Michael, where Myanmar's ambassador to the U.N., of course, appointed by the former ousted government, the civilian government, came out and denounced the military coup and called on the international community to stand by, as he put it, the people of Myanmar. He even waved the three-finger symbol that has been a symbol of the protest movement.

[00:15:03]

And then subsequently, on state TV, you had this announcement, announcing the firing of that diplomat. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Myanmar's permanent ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun, doesn't follow the country's order and instructions. Betrays the country and works and helps the illegal group which does not represent the government. He had abused the power and responsibilities of a permanent ambassador, so he has been fired, starting from the morning of February 27, according to civil service rules and regulations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: One of the big players here is Myanmar's neighbor, China. And the Chinese ambassador to the U.N. put out a statement, which said what happened in Myanmar is, in essence, Myanmar's internal affairs.

Also calling on the U.N. special envoy to play an important role in mediating between all sides in this. The U.N. special envoy has condemned the coup and is calling on the international community to unite against the military junta -- Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Ivan, thanks so much, Ivan Watson covering that for us from Hong Kong. From -- yes, from Hong Kong and staying in Hong Kong, actually. A court hearing has been delayed a few hours for 47 pro-democracy activists, accused of violating the national security law there. That law, of course, imposed by mainland China.

Leading opposition figure Joshua Wong is among those charged with conspiring to commit subversion. Now, if found guilty, he and other advocates could face life in prison.

Let's get back to Hong Kong with CNN's Will Ripley. So what are we expecting to happen today, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're waiting right now for the prosecution. There's been a slight delay inside the courthouse here in West Kowloon. You can see the heavy police presence out here.

This is the most police, and definitely the most protesters, that I've seen personally since the national security law was passed last June. We don't have an exact number, or estimate, but it is easily hundreds of people, who kind of stretch all the way around the side of this courthouse.

And at times, they've been chanting slogans that may be considered subversive. That may lead to criminal charges under this national security law, and we even saw some of these Hong Kong police officers taking video of the protesters as they were shouting.

Now you have 47 people who have been charged, and will have their day in court here in Kowloon. Basically, we're in a situation now, Michael, where every single pro-democracy politician and activist that we know of, that has been in any way public, is either facing criminal charges and locked up or in exile from Hong Kong.

This is now the reality of Beijing's national security law. It is really a stunning turn of events, these dozens of new arrests, in addition to the "Apple Daily" owner and media mogul Jimmy Lai, who was also in court here today. And this really does show that, under this national security law, people can be charged simply for expressing political views.

Because the essence of the charges that these pro-democracy lawmakers are facing, Michael, is trying to gain a majority in Hong Kong's parliament so they can veto pro-Beijing government bills.

Trying to get a veto, after being elected by the people, that's democracy. But, clearly, as we're seeing out here today, democracy is all but dead in Hong Kong. And yet, these people, many of them wearing black, many of them

chanting protest slogans, are out here in defiance to try to win. Not only the communist party in Beijing know, but also the Hong Kong government know that they still believe in democracy, even as the government chips away, slowly and slowly, at freedoms that were guaranteed for this semiautonomous territory for 50 years from the 1997 handover from British rule, freedoms that they're seeing rapidly fall away today.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, there's certainly not much of that left. That's for sure. Will, the U.K. foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, condemned all of this as deeply disturbing. But realistically, what can the international community do about this -- this, you know, in plain sight, erosion of democratic norms in Hong Kong?

RIPLEY: This suppression of the pro-democracy movement here in Hong Kong is condemned by the United States, by the European Union. And yet, China is such an economic superpower that some of the same countries that are condemning the suppression of democracy here in Hong Kong, the suppression of Muslim majority groups in Xinjiang, and other human rights violations that mainland China is accused of.

These countries continue to do business with China. They don't necessarily sanction China. Or maybe might threaten sanctions, but then back down.

At the end of the day, China has the economic firepower to kind of move forward, emboldened, if you will, by some of the chaos in Democratic countries like the United States, pushing their communist agenda, which doesn't include the right of people here in Hong Kong, or anywhere under Chinese rule, to choose their own leaders.

[00:20:13]

HOLMES: A dramatic day there in Hong Kong. Momentous, really. Will Ripley there for us. Thank you, Will.

We'll take a quick break. When we come back, Americans are beginning a new week with a new coronavirus vaccine. The CDC just gave Johnson & Johnson the go ahead. We'll tell you when Americans could start getting those shots.

And life under lockdown, of course, isn't easy, not even in paradise. Why New Zealand's prime minister is saying follow the rules. Don't let the country down. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: New Zealand reporting no new local cases of COVID-19 after the first day of Auckland's weeklong lockdown. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern spoke at a news conference earlier. She said zero complacency is the key to getting through the lockdown, which was brought on by a single case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: We made contact with those who are at risk. We placed testing requirements on them. For close contacts, we have symptom and isolation checks, including in-person checks. Primarily for welfare needs but also to ensure compliance. We also use wider restrictions as an extra layer of protection. That we also ask people to follow the rules, to play their part, and we have always done that. Quite simply, we cannot do this alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now, under the lockdown, people can leave their homes only for work and essential shopping. Some high-profile events have been disrupted. Still, some residents say they are unfazed by the restrictions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a little bit disappointed, but I'm working from home, so I'm not upset.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's easier and harder at the same time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, pretty bothersome, but I mean, it's just something you have to deal with for the next week. We'll get through it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now, right now, Johnson & Johnson is shipping millions of doses of its coronavirus vaccine across the U.S. And Americans could start getting it this week. The CDC recommended the nation's third vaccine, just hours ago, one day after it got emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

Unlike the other two vaccines, Johnson & Johnson's requires just one dose and can be kept at refrigerated temperatures, normal refrigeration, making it easy to store and transport. Officials say it offers 86 percent protection against severe forms of COVID-19.

Joining me now is Dr. Kent Sepkowitz. He's the deputy physician in chief for quality and safely at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

[00:25:09]

Good to see you, Doctor. So I read your article on CNN.com. You're vaccinated. OK. So what's it like? Do you get to run free through your community without a care in the world? Or do precautions still exist as necessary?

DR. KENT SEPKOWITZ, DEPUTY PHYSICIAN IN CHIEF FOR QUALITY AND SAFETY, MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING CANCER CENTER: The precautions still exist entirely, but a little voice in my ear keeps saying, you know, Cut this corner, cut that corner. It's tempting. I've resisted, but it feels fundamentally very different to know that one's been vaccinated.

HOLMES: Yes, I imagine mentally it's good, but you would say, you know, post-vaccination, you would tell people to do what?

SEPKOWITZ: Keep doing what you're doing. I think we have to not start celebrating too soon. It's like an athlete who tears their knee up or something and hurries back onto the field. We have a very, very fragile cease-fire, or call it what you will, between us and the virus. We've made some headway.

But if we blow it, we're going to go way back, again, as we've done several times with the pandemic. So I'm worried that we're celebrating way too soon.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, good point. At what level of community vaccination do you think there will be a return to some normality?

SEPKOWITZ: Yes, I think we've oversold the notion of monolithic herd immunity. I think what herd immunity is really composed of, a bunch of little communities, each with its own habits and its own microcosm of people who have not being vaccinated.

So it might be that my neighborhood is in pretty good shape, but the neighborhood a couple of miles away is not. And it's going to be very hard to declare today is the day, that the United States of America, officially, has herd immunity. There will be areas with it, and there will be areas without it. And that's just going to be the truth.

So we're a long way from even talking about it realistically. The numbers of 60, 70, 80 percent vaccination, is the real number. That's 200 million people.

HOLMES: I wanted to ask you all we had you, about the international aspect. This COVAX shot started arriving a few days ago in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. I think Nigeria gets vaccines this week.

I mean, it's a good start, but the WHO is warning that countries making deals with vaccine manufacturers could undermine COVAX. I mean, talk about the importance of getting shots, in rich and poor arms?

SEPKOWITZ: I think the moral imperative is the strongest imperative. That it's the right thing to do. It is the wrong thing to hog all the vaccines.

There's also a public health argument to be made that if one area is not vaccinated, the whole world is not sufficiently vaccinated. I think that is more brought up to sell the idea. It has a high moral value. It doesn't sounds like you're -- you're doing it to protect the world. It's harder to just do it because it's the right thing to do for the people in resource-starved countries.

HOLMES: Yes.

SEPKOWITZ: So we've got to do it. It's the only right thing to do. It will ultimately protect us to protect others. But really, it's the moral imperative that is, to me, much more.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly. Exactly. With variants occur through spread, and if we don't vaccinate places where that spread could happen, they'll end up back in those rich countries. That's exactly right.

Dr. Sepkowitz, I wish we had more time, but I really appreciate you. Thank you so much.

SEPKOWITZ: All right. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now, just two months into this year, and we're already seeing a surge of migrants fleeing Central America for the U.S. When we come back, you will hear from two brothers on why they make the journey and the dangers they've already faced. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:31:48]

HOLMES: Tensions are building between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia after that intelligence report blaming Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the 2018 killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Later on Monday, the U.S. State Department is expected to outline more actions the Biden administration might be taking against the Saudis. That's as the U.S. president is feeling the heat for not penalizing the crown prince directly.

CNN's Nic Robertson has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Given the strong pushback that we've heard from the Saudis about the assessment the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, issued the order to capture or kill Jamal Khashoggi, and the strength of pushback from the Saudis Gulf partners, supporting Saudi Arabia on this.

There will be a degree of concern about what President Biden is going to announce on Monday. He's talked about how the relationship generally going forward with Saudi Arabia is going to be shaped. He's talked about holding Saudi Arabia to account on human rights abuses.

How is this going to take shape? It's been an extremely bumpy weekend for the U.S.-Saudi relationship. The Saudis also profited over the weekend by attacks from Houthis, firing ballistic missiles all the way from Yemen to the capital, Riyadh. That will cause concern for the Saudi leader, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi officials are saying that they see this as an escalation of the Houthi tactics. Of course, the Houthis are backed by Iran. So that sense of instability or uncertainty in Saudi Arabia and the region has really gone up over the weekend, and this announcement by President Biden that there's more to come on Monday is really only going to fuel that.

The Saudis were expecting a bumpy time when President Biden came in but perhaps not quite like this. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: The Biden administration is sending negotiators to restart peace talks with the Taliban. The State Department says they will travel to Afghanistan and Qatar to try to work out a ceasefire between Afghan officials and Taliban representatives. The White House facing a bit of a deadline in May. They have to decide whether to end the nearly 20-year-old U.S. military deployment in Afghanistan.

Officials told CNN this month that there are no good options.

Now fleeing poverty and seeking a friendlier face in the White House, the number of migrants leaving Central America for the U.S. is surging so far this year. But the trek as dangerous as ever.

CNN's Matt Rivers follows two brothers near the Guatemalan-Mexico border on their journey, asking is it worth it?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not far from the Mexico- Guatemala border, fielding two full soccer teams at Laciente (ph) migrant shelter is easy because the number of people headed to the United States is surging.

Carlos, 19, is bound for the U.S., too. He left Honduras five days ago with his little brother, 14-year-old, Wilfredo (ph).

He says, "A lot of people, not just us, decided to leave and migrate to look for a better life."

After dark, they're among dozens that will spend the night inside the shelter.

(on camera): The number of migrants like these lining up each night to enter the shelter has blown away the numbers that we saw last year. In the first two months of 2021, more migrants have already been registered here than in all of 2020.

(voice-over): The shelter says more than 5,500 people just since New Year's Day.

Father Gabriel Romero (ph) says people are no longer afraid to leave their countries due to COVID. This is a moment of a humanitarian emergency.

The next day, Carlos and Wilfredo (ph) are among a dozen that set out at dawn, set to walk for hours through an overgrown, unforgiving landscape. And thousands have just taken similar trips. The number of people apprehended at the U.S. southern border last month? Higher than the same month in each of the last three years.

Over three days, dozens of migrants told us the reasons for the increase are myriad, with poverty chief among them. Finding work was always hard but never worse than during the pandemic.

Plus, after back-to-back Category 4 hurricanes destroyed entire Central American communities in November. Tens of thousands were displaced.

And as this group of migrants told us, there's another reason, too. It's not a Trump White House anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)

RIVERS: This migrant says it's no longer a racist president, because he looked at us like we're animals.

The Biden administration is trying to and Trump's more restrictive immigration policies and says it will admit more asylum seekers. But they've also said now is not the time for migrants to come, citing the pandemic and policy changes not yet completed.

That did not dissuade anyone we met, with many saying Biden in charge gives them a better chance of getting in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)

RIVERS: "That's the difference," he says, "that suddenly the new president is noble with a good heart."

On a break from that day's trek, Carlos told us they hadn't left for any one reason. Poverty, hurricanes, Biden, all a part of it. He just remembers his mom crying as they walked away. We asked what she said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)

RIVERS: "She said not to go. It's so sad leaving, not knowing if you're going to die. Because all migrants know how dangerous these treks can be."

And the proof came just a few hours later in a small village. The group had just been attacked and robbed by armed men left with nothing but their clothes.

We had a basic medical kit on us, so producer Natalie Kajon (ph) and I tried to patch them up the best we could. Both brothers were pistol whipped. Fourteen-year-old Wilfredo (ph) with a deep gash on his head.

(on camera): You can see here the blood in his hat after he was hit with the butt of a pistol, according to the group. Now we've given him a bandage and -- (SPEAKING SPANISH).

He says he's in a little bit of pain, but he's OK for now. So --

(voice-over): But just moments later, they had to run. A van fast approaching.

(on camera): So this is Mexican immigration. And that's why our group here just ran into the woods. We wouldn't find them again until early the next morning. They walked more than 12 hours after they fled. Exhausted and resting outside of a small shop, we took the moment to

ask is this worth it? Carlos said it was. That a better life awaited. Wilfredo (ph), quietly not so sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)

RIVERS: "I don't know," he says, "but wherever my little brother is, I'll always be there."

Another half mile down the tracks, they enter another shelter for the night. But for the weary, there won't be rest, because in the next day or two, it will be more trekking through never-ending forests, their singular group just one of thousands doing the same.

Matt Rivers, CNN, near the Mexico-Guatemalan border.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:41:30]

HOLMES: The Golden Globes on Sunday proved Hollywood is still trying to find its rhythm in this pandemic. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the show put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with awards given to nominees video chatting from their homes.

Film and television nominees were notably different, with streaming media dominating the categories.

British royalty drama "The Crown" swept the television section, taking home four trophies including Best Drama, Best Actor, Best Actress. "Nomadland" director, Chloe Zhao, made history as the first Asian woman and second woman overall to win Best Director.

The film also took the award for Best Motion Picture, Drama.

But the night also had its share of funny moments. Actress Catherine O'Hara won Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her work in "Schitt's Creek" and was played off the stage by her husband just a few words into her speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CATHERINE O'HARA, WINNER, BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL OR COMEDY: It's an experience I'll forever hold dear to my heart and I'm proud to be part of their family, although not really.

(RECORDED MUSIC)

Thank you, Tim, for making -- no. Thank you, CBC, for making the show in Canada. Thank you -- Seriously? Thank you, Netflix. Netflix brought this show around the world. Our family is in lockdown. I hope it won't take you six years to realize your greatest asset is having somebody to love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: It's a great show if you haven't seen it.

Yet another timeless treasure has been unearthed in Pompeii. Archaeologists say they have found a ceremonial chariot made of bronze and tin, apparently in excellent condition.

Excavators say they have discovered chariots before but none quite like this one. In 2018, experts found a stable with the bodies of horses, one of which was still harnessed near the latest find.

Experts say this is another clue to what life was like in Pompeii before it was buried in volcanic ash 2,000 years ago.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. Stay tuned for WORLD SPORT. I'll see you in about 20 minutes.

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