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$27 Million Awarded to Family of George Floyd; Interview With State Sen. Jabari Brisport (D-NY): President Biden Touts COVID Relief Plan; Calls Grow For Cuomo to Step Down. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 12, 2021 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:03]

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And, as my grandfather used to kiddingly say, with the grace of God, the goodwill neighbors and the creek not rising -- that's exactly what we're going to do.

God bless you all. Thank you for all you did. And may God protect our troops.

(APPLAUSE)

BIDEN: Thank you. I wish I could come out and shake hands with every one of you.

But, next time, it won't be so far apart.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Appreciate it. All right.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Huge day there for this administration, this White House and this man at the center of your screen, President Joe Biden.

You have been listening to him touting this historic COVID relief bill. Let's discuss all of this.

With me now, CNN political commentator Charlie Dent. He's former Republican congressman. Sabrina Siddiqui is with me. She's a CNN political analyst and White House reporter for "The Wall Street Journal." And Dr. Leo Nissola is an immunotherapy scientist and medical adviser to COVID Act Now.

So, Sabrina, let's just dive in on this. Number one, let's talk about the substance of this legislation. This is very progressive. It's not just this patchwork of people are struggling in America and let's get them money, but it is specifically let's get parents money because of their children.

This is something that has been done in other countries, never really in America until now. Can you speak to that, and just what this offers up Americans? SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that's what

you heard the president speak to in his remarks just now, talking about the substance of the bill.

Now, some of this is, of course, the immediate relief that the administration felt was necessary in response to the coronavirus pandemic, like another round for stimulus checks, $1,400 direct payments, that will start going out as soon as this weekend and continue to roll out in the coming weeks.

But there is also an expansion of the child tax credit for another year, with regular payments going out to families, as well as an extension of unemployment benefits, which were set to expire this month, part of why the deadline to pass something was so critical.

And then there is, of course, funding to help reopen schools, as well as to go toward vaccination efforts and to state and local officials as they continue to weather the aftermath of the pandemic.

But it was worth pointing out that President Biden said, this is really just the beginning. And he spoke to how a key the next phase will be the implementation of this bill, how the administration distributes that money, and then they will move toward looking at perhaps another stimulus aimed at revitalizing the U.S. economy.

BALDWIN: But, Doctor, I want -- just to you, obviously, from an M.D. perspective, from a human perspective, from someone who obviously relies on science and the data and organization and responding to all of this, this, to me, just highlights a man who knows how to run government, who isn't just, if I may, winging it.

He's like, this is how we're going to get it done. Then we will send in the National Guard. Then you have the mass vaccination sites. Then we will even get I.T. on the line for people at home who are having issues with signing on online.

I'm just curious your impression of the level of organization and long-term planning of this, from the perspective of this White House, in just the first 100 days?

DR. LEO NISSOLA, IMMUNOTHERAPY SCIENTIST: It's clear to me that President Biden is focused on healing the nation.

We all suffered a whole lot in the past year with isolation or social distancing and a staggering number of death. So, I think this hopeful messaging is definitely the remedy we needed, although the road ahead is long.

And I am concerned that the pathway to recovery and getting us all back to normalcy isn't a straight road. It's definitely not an easy one. There are a lot of things to consider. So I am a little bit concerned of all the challenges in putting in place all the operations that is needed, not only to vaccinate everyone, but also to allow in person businesses to fully reopen in a safety measure.

BALDWIN: Charlie, what did you think? CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I thought, in many

respects, the legislation certainly addresses the COVID crisis well. I'm not -- no issue with that.

My concern are some of the other provisions in here. For example, extending the Earned Income Tax Credit to the unemployed, that's a big policy change and not directly related to COVID. There's $700 billion of this package that they say cannot be -- the CBO says can't be spent until 2022 and beyond.

And so I think they're using this emergency to advance a more expansive role of government in the lives of people. And I think that should be more fully debated.

BALDWIN: But do you think people -- let me jump in. I mean, people are hurting. Millions of Americans are hurting. They want their kids back in school. They want to keep a roof over their head. They want money in their pocket. Do they care about what you're pointing out?

DENT: Well, I'm all for helping people who have been displaced, who have lost their incomes and their livelihoods. That's not the issue at all.

[15:05:04]

We should be supporting those people. And they have been supporting those people. But some of these provisions of -- that are disconnecting income from work, I think, are big policy debates that ought to happen maybe outside of the emergency at some point.

If the goal is to simply expand the size of the welfare state on an indefinite basis. I think that's not the proper way to use this crisis. We have -- the country has gone big here. I think we're up to $6 trillion now

And I supported the first five bills that came through, but this one, I think, is a little too large, even though there are many good aspects in terms of--

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: I hear you, but ,politically, and again, not a single Republican there at the Rose Garden event, not a single Republican voted on this -- politically, is this a win?

DENT: I look, I think, sure, it's a win for Biden, absolutely. It's a win.

But they really never tried to do this on a bipartisan basis. They said, we're going to do this in reconciliation. They heard 10 Republican senators with a plan for $600 billion. They said, we're going to go our own way. OK, that was a choice that they made.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Hold on. Hold on. Pause on that thought. Sabrina, just over to you, did they have a choice?

SIDDIQUI: Well, I think that the administration moved fairly quickly toward reconciliation, because, as they did entertain those bipartisan conversations with Republicans, it became clear that, in order to secure Republican support, they would have had to significantly reduce the overall price tag.

And President Biden was adamant that they wanted it to be as close to $1.9 trillion as possible. In the end, that is, in fact, what he was able to secure with Democratic support.

But that Republican counteroffer, as Charlie pointed out, was just a fraction of what the administration was proposing. There was another bipartisan compromise that was only roughly $800 billion, so, again, really just a fraction of what the administration was seeking here.

Now, I do think that what the White House is doing -- and you will hear them sell this message when they travel the country beginning next week -- is point out that there was broad bipartisan support for this legislation across the country in polling, some of which showed nearly three-quarters of Americans backing this bill, at least right now.

So that's sort of the message that I think you're going to hear in the coming weeks from the White House, as well as Democrats, that it may have not been bipartisan on Capitol Hill, but the bill does have bipartisan support with the American people.

BALDWIN: Right. It's not like this money is just going to blue states. It's going to all of the states. And it's going -- and it was popular with folks on both sides of the aisle.

And, Charlie, to add to Sabrina's point, already, Republicans -- look at some of the Republican mayors out there already touting this COVID relief for their own constituents. They're thrilled.

DENT: Well, sure.

Look, I was in state government too. I loved it when federal money came our way. It made my life a lot easier. And, again, to be fair, last summer, the states in particular were really struggling financially, but then something happened in the fall. They had a huge revenue gusher coming in, and many of the state's fiscal problems were considerably less than we had anticipated.

So, I don't begrudge any state or local government some support. I question the amount of support that is going out the door, in light of the fact that their revenue pictures were much better than they originally forecasted back then.

So, like I said, there's a lot of good stuff in here. But I think it's too big. They're going too far in some respects. And I think they want to make a lot of this stuff permanent, and using the crisis as a pretext for these changes.

BALDWIN: Dr. Nissola, back over to you.

Off the top, you were just saying, essentially, hang on, everyone. We're not out of the woods just yet. And I want you to come back to that point, because, even when you look at the death toll, right, it is much, much better than it has been, but the U.S. is still losing more than 1,000 people a day.

What is your advice to all of us, some of whom are vaccinated, some of whom are not? How should we be living our lives?

NISSOLA: I think we should be more aggressive into fighting disinformation around hard-to-reach communities.

And I think one mistake we did in the beginning of our vaccination efforts is not learn the lessons of developing countries that have actually put in place strong massive-scale vaccination campaigns and plans. And we should start considering releasing the red tape around these vaccines sooner than we did in the past.

So, I think it's important to have this deadline of returning to normal by July 4, but it's more aspirational to me than a hard-set promise. I think it's important to understand that there's a long road ahead to recovery, which includes the 10 percent of COVID-19 patients that are now struggling with long COVID.

I think in order for us to understand how big of a challenge that will be, it's putting to a perspective that three million people right now are still struggling with their COVID-19 infection from last year. That's going to be a challenge, not only for public health expenditures, but also in person return to the office. Should that occur within this year?

[15:10:17]

BALDWIN: It's a great question. I have got an employment attorney later on, because everyone's wondering, do I have to be vaccinated to go back to the office, you know, just what our rights are as things return to normal, whatever normal will be later on this year.

Dr. Nissola, Sabrina Siddiqui, Charlie Dent, great conversation. Thank you all very, very much.

We have much more to come here, more breaking news this afternoon, including the growing chorus of powerful Democrats calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to step down. The governor remains defiant, saying he will not resign and claims that he never harassed anyone.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:15:45]

BALDWIN: Pressure is mounting on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today, as multiple New York congressional lawmakers are calling for his resignation, among them, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler.

The governor, though, not backing down.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): People know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth.

Let the review proceed. I'm not going to resign. I was not elected by the politicians. I was elected by the people. I never harassed anyone. I never assaulted anyone. I never abused anyone.

To the extent you get these people who say, well, he took a picture with me and I was uncomfortable, I apologized for that. I have not had a sexual relationship that was inappropriate, period.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BALDWIN: This comes less than 24 hours after it was revealed the state is launching an impeachment investigation into the Democrat tied to multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

So, CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is following the story for us today.

And, Shimon, when you see these names now coming out, these are prominent members of the governors own party in his own state telling him it's time to resign.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, those congressional member; 14 of them now have been urging and put out statements saying that he should resign.

You mentioned Ocasio-Cortez, but also Jerry Nadler, a senior member of Congress, the head of the Judiciary Committee in the House. Certainly, to see his name was very significant, someone who's been part of New York politics for many, many years, calling on the governor resign.

And this all comes as many of the lawmakers here in Albany also calling from -- for the governor to resign. You have now this impeachment investigation that the Assembly is going to undertake, and then also a majority of the Senate here, the state Senate, also calling on the governor to resign.

Today was the first time we have heard from the governor since a lot of the lawmakers called for him to resign. He's vowing, as you played that sound, that he's going to keep fighting, that he's going to stay in office. He was speaking directly to New Yorkers today saying that they know him, they know what he's about, and that what he wants is for this investigation, these reviews now -- there's two reviews, the attorney general and now by the Assembly -- for that to move forward and for people not to make any judgments.

And then he also said, Brooke, is that this is all about politics, attacking some of the members of his own party.

BALDWIN: Shimon, thank you so much, Shimon Prokupecz there. I want to continue this conversation now.

With me, one of those New York state senators calling on the governor to resign, Jabari Brisport.

Senator Brisport, thank you so much for joining me.

Of course, Brooke. Thank you for having me.

There is no indication that Governor Cuomo is going anywhere. Do you think the governor is in denial?

SEN. JABARI BRISPORT (D-NY): The governor is in complete denial and is attempting to gaslight not just the credible women who have come forward bravely with their stories, but all of New York and all of America that's watching at this point.

BALDWIN: I want to push back on you just a bit. I want to play another part of the governor's conference call. Listen to this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CUOMO: The people of New York should not have confidence in a politician who takes a position without knowing any facts or substance.

That, my friends, is politics at its worst.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Senator, why not let the investigation conclude before casting your judgment on the governor?

BRISPORT: I want to push back on the claim that people are making decisions without facts or evidence.

We have the facts of nearly a decade of Cuomo's power in New York, which involved underfunding and other undercutting social services. When we go to the nursing homes, this is before even the issue that happened last year. This is an entire decade of underfunding them, to the point they had skeletal staff and lacked PPE.

[15:20:03]

On top of that, the governor rewrote the rules to direct them to accept COVID-19-positive patients. When additional people died because of his decisions, he lied about how many people were dying to protect himself. And that's coming out now.

Now he's been bullying legislators to keep quiet. And this is one after the other woman coming forward with credible stories. At this point, we have to wonder, how many women is it necessary to come forward in order to move forward with impeachment proceedings?

BALDWIN: Listen, I hear you. Again, I have to remind everyone watching these are allegations. And, again, we need to wait for this investigation -- or at least we know that investigation is taking place, an independent investigation.

But you bring up a lot of issues that concern New Yorkers, Senator. And I know a lot of Democrats are suggesting that Governor Cuomo is unable to lead at this moment.

What does this mean for New Yorkers, who are still very much in a pandemic?

BRISPORT: It means we have a very capable lieutenant governor that can step in, after seeing this through. We have a very capable attorney general who is conducting her own investigation.

And I would also just add that an impeachment involves the investigation and trial as well. An impeachment is not a conviction. It's not a jump to conclusions. It is holding trial of the governor to be looked at by the Senate.

BALDWIN: Right. It's two steps, impeachment and, as we have learned on the national level, and then, of course, the trial, whether or not he would be convicted and removed.

Is there anything that Governor Cuomo could do right now, could say that would change minds, acknowledge, apologize, anything?

BRISPORT: It's not about changing minds. We have to recognize that the governor at this point is morally unfit to serve this state.

When you have someone who has a decade record of underserving the state, of gaslighting New Yorkers, of hurting working-class New Yorkers through austerity measures, and is now attempting to sweep things under the rug, this is showing that he is morally unfit.

And it is my duty, as a state senator, to say that he is not capable of having the ethics and the morality to serve in his position as governor. It is my duty to hold him accountable.

BALDWIN: Jabari Brisport, state senator here in New York, thank you, sir, very much.

BRISPORT: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Breaking news into CNN: The family of George Floyd and their attorney are reacting to that settlement made with the city of Minneapolis. We will have a live report from Minneapolis next.

And as the Democrats are taking their victory lap today for passing that massive piece of COVID relief legislation, the next one may not be as easy to get through. We will explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:27:35]

BALDWIN: Just into CNN, the Minneapolis City Council has just unanimously approved this settlement in the wrongful death suit filed by the family of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died in the hands of police last May.

The Floyd family is speaking, their attorney is speaking right now. We expect to hear from family members shortly.

Omar Jimenez covered the story from the very beginning. He is live in Minneapolis.

And, Omar, this is the largest settlement of its kind. What is the family saying?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right.

The city approved a $27 million settlement in the civil wrongful death lawsuit filed against the city and the four officers involved in his death. The family is, of course, thankful for what this case ended up being on the civil side of things, knowing that, of course, no sum of money could bring back George Floyd.

But this in many ways shows that there is some form of accountability, at least what we have seen on the civil side of things. As a reminder, this is separate from the criminal proceedings taking place for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin now and for the three former officers later on this year.

Attorney Ben Crump for the Floyd family said that this was the largest of its kind, especially in a pretrial fashion. And for it to be for the life of a black man, he says, shows that black lives do matter. And here's some more of what he's having to say right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD: It says to America that we can do more than just point fingers, accuse one another and engage in more division. We can actually come together and make things better.

We can reach an agreement about what form justice might take, not wait for it to be determined only by a historical discriminatory criminal justice system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JIMENEZ: Now, what we do know is, this is the largest settlement and Minneapolis city history, but also the second in less than five years involving a police officer to at least hit $20 million.

So, it's a wakeup call, at the very least, that at least some sort of reform needs to happen here. This came actually at the same time as the Minneapolis City Council was voting to push forward a proposal to abolish the police department here in favor of a more encompassing public safety department, so a lot of movement there.