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State Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-CO) Discusses Colorado Grocery Store Mass Shooting & Gun Control; Tense Senate Hearing on Gun Reform Highlights Party Divisions; Jury Seated in Trial of Officer Accused of Killing George Floyd; U.S. Health Officials Question AstraZeneca Vaccine Trial Data; New Study Finds COVID Long Haulers Experience Several Neurological Symptoms Lasting 6 Weeks or More; Pro-Trump Lawyer Now Argues "No Reasonable Person" Would Believe Her Voter Fraud Lies Were "Fact". Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 23, 2021 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:30:00]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And what do you think, you know, what are your reflections on the last 10 years? Like, if things haven't changed much, or if they have. And also just, you know, what you miss.

REP. TOM SULLIVAN (D-CO): Well, what I can tell -- the way I look at it -- and it was just last Friday. And now that I'm in the state legislature, every two weeks I go down and I announce -- I think about the Fridays that we've lost.

And last Friday was the 452nd Friday since my son, Alex, was murdered in the Aurora theater massacre, along with 11 others, and all of the things that happened. You know, I have to try to get through those, you know, without him being around.

Again, I didn't know I was supposed to know, when was the last time, you know, I spoke to him. I didn't have to, you know, remember the last time we saw each other.

But thank goodness, you know, we do have some of his things. I wear his jacket every day when I come down here.

And on the really hard days, when we have votes and we have tough debate, I wear that jacket, you know, on the floor. Because you know, I need his strength to be with me.

And, you know, so we keep, you know, moving on. We keep doing the work.

And, you know, when these other tragedies happen like this, we just try to reach out to those people and let them know that we're here for them. And that, you know, if there's anything we can do, just, you know, to let us know.

KEILAR: Thank you so much for joining us today, Tom Sullivan. We really appreciate it.

SULLIVAN: Yes, thank you.

KEILAR: As the country mourns following the seventh mass shooting in seven days, Capitol Hill is talking gun control. The Senate Judiciary Committee holding its first hearing of several hearings on steps to reduce gun violence in America.

The House has already passed a background check bill and Senate Democrats are vowing to take it up. But they may not have the votes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): We face a pandemic of coronavirus. We have another epidemic in America called guns.

We are numb to the numbers. Unless we are personally touched, it's just another statistic. That has got to stop.

This committee, this hearing, I hope will open a conversation about constitutional common-sense ways to reduce gun violence in America.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Every time there's a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater, where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders.

Democrats propose taking away guns from law-abiding citizens. But when you disarm law-abiding citizens, you make them more likely to be victims. If you want to stop these murders, go after the murderers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill for us.

You know, thing about this hearing -- don't think for people watching at home -- this is something they put together really quickly in response to the Colorado shooting. It isn't. It was set before this tragedy yesterday.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and the outcome will likely be the same, despite what we have seen, the horrific shootings. From yesterday, the fact that it's been seven straight days, up until today, in which there have been mass shootings in America.

But still, that has not changed the math on Capitol Hill. There's not just enough support to pass what the Democrats have been pushing for, and what Joe Biden just called for moments ago, demanding the passage of two bills that passed the House earlier this month that would expand background checks on firearms sales.

Also he called for -- to ban the assault -- the renewal of the assault weapons ban. All three of those ideas failed to get 60 votes, what they need to overcome a Republican filibuster.

But not all Democrats are even in support of the two bills that just passed the House.

Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, Democrat, just told our colleague, Ted Barrett, that he does not support the two bills that passed the House. He believes those go too far.

Now what he has proposed is something that actually the Democrats tried to advance in 2013 that had the backing of some Republican Senators, including Pat Toomey.

That would expand background checks on commercial gun sales, close off the so-called gun show, a loophole to deal with Internet sales to ensure that people who purchase the firearms will go through a background check. That is narrower than the bill that passed the House this month.

[13:35:04]

One of those bills would expand background checks for private transactions as well. But Manchin does not want to go that far.

Neither do a majority of most Republicans, if not all Republicans who oppose going as far as the House wants to go.

And virtually all Republicans oppose what Pat Toomey is proposing, the narrow proposal with Joe Manchin.

But nevertheless, Pat Toomey told me moments ago, Brianna, he is looking to see if he can make some modifications to his bill to get Republican support.

I can tell you, in surveying the Republican conference, up and down, from rank and file to leadership, there's not the appetite for that bill.

They contend it would not solve the problem, as you heard from Ted Cruz there. They say there are other issues they need to deal with the root of the problem.

So despite what we're seeing here, no consensus in Washington what to do, and no consensus within the Democratic caucus to change the rules in the Senate to advance legislation on the simple majority, not 60 votes.

As a result, we could see impasse yet again -- Brianna?

KEILAR: That might not help. You're talking about Joe Manchin who's not on board with Democrats here.

Manu, explain how -- look, you have a very closely divided Senate on this issue that doesn't reflect actually what Americans think about this issue. That is for a reason, because of the way, you know, members of Congress and the Senate are elected.

But just explain why there's a reticence on Capitol Hill, and politically, it's -- you know, it makes sense, to actually take on this issue. RAJU: Yes, look, the Republicans are dead set against any expansion of

gun control. And in a large part because they have powerful constituents on their side opposing any expansion in gun control issues, namely the NRA, others also within their base.

They've made the Second Amendment essential to their efforts to get reelected. There are always concerns, of course, about any primary challenges that could ensue if they were to break ranks on that issue.

One Republican Senator today, Brianna, told me, Cynthia Lummis, of Wyoming, she just won her race in the fall. She said would oppose any efforts on background checks. In her view, the expanse of any gun control efforts would essentially erode the Second Amendment.

That is not the view of what Democrats say, other proponents, and a large majority of Americans, who do support an expansion of background checks.

But That is the view of a lot of Republicans, their base, their of course, supporters.

One reason why we're not seeing any signs of consensus emerging on this issue despite all these tragedies -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Manu, live for us from the Hill, thank you so much.

Ahead, new and serious concerns that outdated information may have tainted AstraZeneca's vaccine trial results here in the U.S. We're going to talk about just how big of a setback this is.

And are you ready to head back into your office? Well, New York City's mayor just told remote workers they'll be back in May.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:43:07]

KEILAR: Just into CNN, a jury of 15 has finally been seated in the trial of Officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. That number includes three alternates.

Derek Chauvin is accused of killing George Floyd in May of last year. Chauvin knelt on 46-year-old George Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd told him and three other officers that he could not breathe, and he called out for his mother.

CNN's Jean Casarez is in Minneapolis following the story.

What do we know about the jurors here?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it's interesting. There was extensive individual questioning. We really got to know them.

Let me tell you a little bit about them. There's an accountant on the jury, a nurse, an R.N. on the jury. There's a social worker. There's several jurors that are managers. They manage people. One of

the managers has a passion for I.T. and technology. And there's also a retired person on the jury.

Now, the jurors range from age 20s to the 60s. There are actually four that are in their 20s.

Let's look at the numbers right now. There are nine women on this jury. There are six men on this jury. There are nine white jurors. There are four black jurors. And there are two mixed-race jurors.

As I told you, extensive questioning. They were asked from a questionnaire they had filled out in December how they felt on many issues.

One being, have you seen the video? Almost all of them, all except one, have seen the video.

And your impression of the defendant, Derek Chauvin? Somewhat negative by far was the majority of these jurors.

They also said they don't know what happened before. They don't know what happened after. They could set aside their opinion. They could be fair.

Black Lives Matter. They believe that it's important to assert the rights of the blacks, so people understand.

Blue Lives Matter. Most of them were neutral.

[13:45:01]

But one juror, a lady in her 60s -- and she helps teach children to put them on the right path in life -- they asked her how do you feel about Black Lives Matter? She said I'm for Black Lives Matter. I'm black.

How do you feel about Blue Lives Matter? I support them. My relative is a Minneapolis police officer. And I respect what he stands for.

So you can see, Brianna, it's fair and impartial. That's what they went for on this jury. Opening statements begin on Monday.

KEILAR: It is a fascinating look at the jurors for what is going to be a trial so many people are watching across the country.

Jean Casarez, thank you so much, live for us from Minneapolis.

New developments in the investigation of the suspected Boulder mass shooter. What police found inside his home.

Plus, some COVID long haulers are reporting neurological symptoMs. How this disease could impact your brain, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:50:49]

KEILAR: There's been another setback for the AstraZeneca vaccine. U.S. health officials are now saying that there are concerns about the trial because outdated information may have been used.

In the meantime, some good news, the daily averages of new coronavirus cases and deaths are at their lowest point since the fall.

And in New York, the mayor announced city workers can come back to the office to work starting May 3rd.

CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, is with us. He's an internal medicine and viral specialist.

Let's talk about this AstraZeneca vaccine. First, we hear all the rave reviews yesterday about the vaccine, then today, there are concerns.

Bottom line, is this safe or are there questions here about whether it's safe?

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, Brianna, there are definitely questions here about whether it is safe. It is probably a very good vaccine, but the data that was put out was put out by the company itself, by AstraZeneca.

And I think people should find some sort of comfort and solace in the fact that these studies are being monitored so closely.

There are data monitoring safety boards in every study that check even how the data is input. And what they found is that there are some inconsistencies with the data, you know, that has been put out.

What they're trying to make sure is that the data was not what we call in research mined, which means that they only presented the gold nuggets as opposed to all of the rocks.

So, the data safety board and the NIH said they will be presenting more information after they review this more closely I think in around 48 hours.

KEILAR: Let's talk long haulers because there's a new study of COVID long haulers released today and it finds that some COVID survivors experience four or more neurological symptoms that last six or more weeks.

Have you seen this? Have you seen this happening? What do you make of this?

RODRIGUEZ: In my patients, yes, I absolutely have seen this happening. And this is what people need to realize. This is not just about surviving a respiratory illness.

We're learning more and more about the long-term effects and the fact that this virus can affect many parts of the brain.

For example, if you lose your sense of taste or smell, it's because the nerves in your cranium, the cranial nerves have been affected.

In my patients, I have patients that now, for going on eight or nine months, numbness of their fingers.

And what is most common, though, is a certain agitation that they just can't describe that comes along with panic attacks, insomnia.

So, apparently, all of the nervous system, the brain, the fingers can be affected by this virus. Who knows for how long.

This study shows that for at least six months, some people have these symptoMs.

KEILAR: That is incredibly scary. It's important for us to know because people may have some of these symptoms and not understand where it's coming from.

Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, thank you.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you.

Ahead, you would think that you could trust the words said by a lawyer who used to represent a president of the United States. But that ain't so. What one pro-Trump lawyer just admitted to a judge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:57:15]

KEILAR: It's a 180 from pro-Trump attorney, Sidney Powell. Powell, who spread baseless claims of election fraud and filed several lawsuits to overturn the election, is now going with a defense strategy that worked for Tucker Carlson. Why not, right?

Powell's attorney arguing in a court filing that, quote, "no reasonable person" would believe her election fraud claims were based on, quote, "statements of fact."

Trump's former attorney is facing a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting systems.

Brian Stelter is our chief media correspondent. He's with us now to talk about this.

OK. Let's just -- let's call a spade a spade here, Brian. There was no election fraud.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Right.

KEILAR: Now she admits it.

Although, she seemed pretty sure of it, even though it was very clear it wasn't happening at the time. And Trump supporters stormed the capitol over these lies.

She's facing a huge lawsuit. What's going on here?

STELTER: Well, this shows that a -- as the old adage says, there's an unreasonable person born every minute, right?

Sidney Powell is apparently claiming there's a lot of unreasonable people in the country. She's trying to make this legal maneuver to get out of trouble after previously saying she would try to fight these lawsuits by proving her case, by proving the fraud that isn't actually there.

Sadly, the lies, the fantasies, that Powell and FOX and Newsmax spread all over the air waves, they are now the foundations for new attempts to undermine the vote, to target voters, to restrict the vote.

It's voter suppression. It's built on a big lie. And people like Powell are partly to blame for that.

But of course, they're not looking backwards. They're trying to look forwards, coming up with these new excuses in court.

KEILAR: She is -- I mean, it seems very clear that she's taking a page out of the FOX defense, where attorneys for FOX defended Tucker Carlson recently during a defamation suit.

This was something the judge found convincing in the way that they said it.

Quote, "Would a reasonable viewer be coming here and thinking this is where I'm going to be hearing the news of the day. It's "Tucker Carlson Tonight," which is a commentary show."

It worked for him in the McDougal case.

STELTER: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: But he is a -- but he is a host and he's certainly known to be full of it.

She is a lawyer. And you know, the bar has some say over whether a lawyer can go in court and go before the public and just spout off stuff that isn't true.

STELTER: Right, so there are real consequences here for Powell, in a way that there are not for Carlson.

I had viewers email me, Brianna, and say, it seems like Powell is using Tucker Carlson's defense. And that is what she is doing. But that defense is outdated.

But Carlson's viewers have been told for decades not to trust the news, to only trust the commentary shows. That's why so many started to believe Powell's lies about the election.

So now this big lie, which takes a lot of people to promote, including Powell and others, now Powell and Trump and the rest have to hope that the rest of the country doesn't hear about this ridiculous legal defense.

[13:59:06]

They have to hope people don't hear about it because again, 24 hours ago, Trump was on right-wing TV still claiming he won.