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Interview with California Secretary of Health and Human Services Mark Ghaly; Derek Chauvin Trial Postponed; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Won't Resign Before Investigation. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 8, 2021 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: California has now earmarked 40 percent of its vaccine supply for underserved communities.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, only 17 percent of vaccine doses administered so far have gone to Latinos; they make up, though, 55 percent of all cases in the state of California, so you see the disparity there.

Let's talk about this plan. Dr. Mark Ghaly is the secretary of California's Department of Health and Human Services -- I don't -- for a moment, I was worried I was going to be talking into a black box, so we're glad (INAUDIBLE) --



HARLOW: So this is important, obviously. I just wonder, you know, what's your benchmark for success here because some could have said we knew this was going to happen, and we should have allocated vaccines for this at the jump. So what's going to tell you this new effort is succeeding?

GHALY: Well, we track the data pretty closely on which communities are getting vaccinated, and we expect to see, with this allocation plus many other interventions to support getting people to the vaccine site, make sure they get their second shot as well, making sure we break through on outreach and education, all of that together.

We want to see the numbers in the hardest hit communities in California reach vaccine levels of -- exceed, even, those communities that have, so far, received a high level of vaccines.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Ghaly, in your experience, what portion of this does vaccine hesitancy contribute to this issue?

GHALY: Well, sure (ph) that we have the site set up, which in California (INAUDIBLE) we have, it's really about supply of vaccine and getting up into the communities.

On hesitancy, what we're learning more and more, that there's still a number of Californians with -- brown and black Californians in particular with the right level of education, outreach, engagement that there isn't hesitancy, there's a real willingness to get vaccinated, (INAUDIBLE) what they can to protect their communities and support the state and make sure that they themselves and their families are safe.

HARLOW: Dr. Ghaly, I want to ask you about a piece of reporting that a friend of mine did at NBC a few weeks ago. They were there in California, specifically speaking with a number of farm workers, all of them from the Latinx community.

And the challenge that those workers were running into is that the state said they were qualified to get the vaccine, but when they went on the website, the portal, it kept -- when they clicked the box of their occupation, it kept saying you're not qualified. That was a huge issue for them. Has that been fixed?

GHALY: Well, so absolutely. We know farm workers, all individuals in the food and agricultural industry are eligible for vaccination in California. We're working to make sure that access is robust because we get more supply, hopefully in the next many weeks, then (ph) people will be able to go onto our portals to sign up and figure out where -- not only when but where they can get vaccinated, and that is certainly getting better and better each day.

SCIUTTO: Dr. Ghaly, as the daily vaccination rate increases -- as a country, we almost hit 3 million over the weekend per day -- are you seeing these equity issues become less severe over time? You know, as people in all communities are getting vaccinated.

GHALY: No, it's still pretty uneven. I think the communities that we expected would be easier to vaccinate are that much easier with more supply, that's why we in California are going to target the vaccine to the communities, and not just send it to the communities and providers in those communities, but do even more to make sure that the arms that live in those communities are the ones that are vaccinated.

HARLOW: Can I just -- before we go, just really quickly go back to that question about the website? I mean, it's great that you guys are trying to fix it in the next few weeks -- or every day, you're trying. I just wonder -- I mean, isn't that critical, for this community you're targeting with these extra doses of a vaccine? If they can't get through on a website to sign up for an appointment, they can't get the vaccine you have.

GHALY: So the website itself has gotten better. That said, we are also employing other strategies where we reserve appointment blocs for certain communities, working with, for example, the farm worker employers and others (ph). Appointments are not just available, but really targeting individuals who work in these high-risk industries and settings.

HARLOW: OK. GHALY: So it's not the only option to get an appointment. And we've

seen more and more success as we've done more and more of that here in California.

HARLOW: Good, good.

SCIUTTO: Listen, a lot of places folks are having trouble getting this stuff online, there's got to be a better way. Dr. Mark Ghaly, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

GHALY: Thank you.


SCIUTTO: We'll be right back.


SCIUTTO: Well just in, jury selection in the trial of the former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, charged, of course, in the killing of George Floyd, has now been delayed after the judge released the jury for the day.

HARLOW: Right, so the judge, just minutes ago, granted this recess because of a battle over a potential third-degree murder charge against Chauvin in the death of Floyd. Let's bring in our legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson.

So this comes from an appellate court, I believe, that said that they need to include this third-degree murder charge. What does this actually mean for how this trial will proceed? Like how long will this delay jury selection, do you think?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, good morning to you, Poppy, good morning to you, Jim. So early indications are that it'll delay it at least a day, right? The judge dismissed the jury, indicating that they should come back. So there's a lot happening as it relates to the charges, what is that.

So briefly, let's talk about that. We know that he's facing at least two charges, one is second-degree unintentional murder, the other one is second-degree manslaughter. What does that mean in English? Well, let's talk about that.


What it means, (INAUDIBLE), if you're committing some other felony like assault, and the person happens to die, (INAUDIBLE) intentional murder, it can get you 40 years. As it relates to second-degree manslaughter, that is more of your acting (ph) negligent (ph) way, where you consciously disregard the risk that your careless and negligent behavior can cause a death, right? So that's problematic, that gets you 10 years. This third-degree murder charge, very briefly, relates to something

that's called depraved indifference. If I take a gun for example -- not a gun use here, just an analogy -- and I fire it into a crowd, I create an unreasonable risk for a number of people. One of those people dies? That's third-degree murder.

The issue legally was whether or not third-degree murder could apply when your depraved indifference is applicable to one person. The knee was on the neck as to one person, and so the dispute was if it has historically been applied to a crowd of people when you act depraved, how can you only apply it to one? The appeals court said you can, that's what the dispute is about.

SCIUTTO: OK, Joey, tell you, historically, it has been difficult to convict (ph) even when the circumstances, to many of us, look quite clear. Does keeping a third-degree option -- or multiple options here, manslaughter, murder, second, third-degree murder -- make a conviction more likely? In other words, to give a jury a path, in effect, to a charge that they might not be able to reach, you know, again, based on the law. We know how the laws are written when it comes to cops.

JACKSON: So, Jim, that's absolutely right. What happens is, whenever you're prosecuting a case, when you have a smorgasbord, if you will, of cases for the juries' determination and consideration, that's important. Why? Because if the jury finds that the unintentional murder, he was not -- that is Chauvin that we're looking at there -- engaged in an assault, that would let the second-degree murder charge be an acquittal.

If the jury, however, finds that there was negligence, right? Meaning that he consciously disregarded a risk that that behavior could cause a death, right? Then at least you get that charge. With the addition of the third (INAUDIBLE) one, now you get the depraved indifference, you see a leaning (ph) depravity (ph). And does that depravity, since it's applicable to one person, still legally make out the charge? The court said yes.

So in answer to your question, the more charges there is for consideration, the more it would be for a jury to potentially reach a verdict of guilt under the egregious circumstances that we have here.

SCIUTTO: Well, Joey Jackson, we know you're going to be watching this closely, we certainly will bring all the news as it happens. Thanks very much.

JACKSON: Thank you.


SCIUTTO: Well, calls are growing louder -- even among some Democratic lawmakers -- for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign, now as five women have accused him of sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct. How will the governor respond? So far he's saying he won't. We'll have the latest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is refusing to resign. This, even as two more women come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against him.

SCIUTTO: The number of people, lawmakers calling for the governor to step aside is growing. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart- Cousins, the highest ranking Democrat in New York State, now says that Cuomo should resign for the good of the state. CNN's Alexandra Field, she's been following the developments.

Alex, tell us the details of these latest allegations. What do they involve exactly?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jim. Look, this pressure is mounting as a result of the allegations that we're seeing over the weekend. They come specifically from a third and fourth former aide to the governor, who say that he acted inappropriately with them.

Karen Hinton, telling the "Washington Post" over the weekend about an incident that occurred more than 20 years ago, when she was serving as a paid consultant to the governor, who was then at HUD, Housing and Urban Development Department, saying that she was inside a Los Angeles hotel room with him when he embraced her in a way that she said lasted too long and was too intimate.

The governor responded to those allegations over the weekend, flatly denying Hinton's accusations.

They come as Ana Liss was speaking to "The Wall Street Journal," she is also a former aide to the governor. She says he was inappropriate with her during her tenure with the administration, calling her sweetheart, asking whether she had a boyfriend, touching her on her lower back, kissing her hand as she got up from her desk at one point.

Cuomo has responded to those allegations by saying the interactions with Liss were comparable to interactions he had with dozens of staff members over a period of decades. He strongly denies inappropriately touching any woman, but he apologizes if he made anyone feel uncomfortable.

That said, on the question of whether he would consider resigning, the governor's saying this.


GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY) (via telephone): I was elected by the people of the state. I wasn't elected by politicians. I'm not going to resign because of allegations. The premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic... The system is based on due process and the credibility of the allegation. Anybody has the ability to make an allegation in democracy, and that's great, but it's in the credibility of the allegation."



FIELD: Due process, according to Cuomo, means allowing the state's attorney general, Letitia James, to conduct her investigation into these allegations of sexual harassment. But, Jim and Poppy, you really can't underscore the significance of the state's senate majority leader calling for a resignation and the state's assembly speaker falling just short of a call for a resignation.

HARLOW: Yes, yes. Alex, appreciate the reporting, a lot of developments on that over the weekend. Thank you so much.

And thanks to all of you for joining us today, we'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. NEWSROOM with Kate Bolduan starts right after a quick break.