Return to Transcripts main page


Activists Call New Georgia Law Deliberate Voter Suppression; Georgia Governor Calls Voting Law Outrage A "False Narrative"; Dr. Birx: Majority Of COVID-19 Deaths Were Preventable; Biden Vows Transparency, Full Media Access At Border Facilities But Offers No Timetable; Teens, Adults Struggle With Mental Health As Pandemic Drags On; Texas Mom Escapes The Anti-vaccine Movement; Virginia Beach Officer Who Suspect To Death Did Not Activate Bodycam. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 27, 2021 - 20:00   ET



SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): This is a wakeup call to which side of America you stand on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only two things that are missing for this bill is the question of how many bubbles in the bar soap and how many jelly beans in the jar.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: Simply find out what's in the bill versus just a blank statement of this is Jim Crow or, you know, this is voter suppression or this is racist, because it is not.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: OK, had we mitigated earlier, had we actually paused earlier, how much of an impact do you think that would have made.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, FORMER COORDINATOR, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

An emotional Saturday in Georgia. The state's new election law is dividing those who believe it's a way to stop the black vote and those who believe it protects everyone's vote. Georgia is now the flash point for the nationwide battle over voting rights.

In a moment, a key player overseeing Georgia elections will join me. But, first, Natasha Chen in Atlanta with the growing anger over the new law President Biden calls Jim Crow in the 21st century -- Natasha. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, about 150 people gathered outside Atlanta City hall to oppose this Georgia voter bill and also to stand with Georgia Representative Park Cannon, who was arrested for knocking on the door of the governor's office to try to witness him signing this bill. So, a lot of the signs we're seeing say, "I stand with park," "stop suppressing our votes." There's another sign that says, the South shall not rise again.

So, a lot of strong, passionate opinions here about protecting people's access to vote. I spoke with one person who was actually there witnessing Park Cannon arrested that day. Here's what she said.

MARLA CURETON, POLITICAL ACTIVIST, NO SAFE SUITS: She was not disruptive. So, to have that incident happened right in front of me and for it to end with her being taken away, it was horrific to watch as a black woman, to watch her taken into the elevator, to watch the doors close, it was triggering, it was frightening. I felt her pain, I felt her terror.

CHEN: I've also spoken with a voter who came here, describing to me her experience voting in last June's primary here in Georgia. She said she waited in line for several hours past dinner time to the point where a local pizza company had delivered food and soda to them so they could eat and wait in line. That's something that would be now illegal the way this bill was written and passed -- Pamela.


BROWN: OK, Natasha, thanks so much.

Well, Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling became a national star last year for calling out Trump's election fraud lies as a Republican. Last night, he echoed Governor Brian Kemp, tweeting this about the state's controversial new voting law: Nothing in this bill suppresses anyone's vote, nothing. Those saying so are just stirring the pot and raising money. The claim of voter suppression has the same level of truth as the claims of voter fraud in the last election.

Gabriel Sterling joins me now. He is the chief operating officer for the Georgia secretary of state's office.

Gabriel, thanks for joining the show.

You have said that this was the most secure and transparent election in Georgia history. You have been very outspoken against the big election lie. If you still belief that, why this urgent push for these new election rules?

GABRIEL STERLING (R), CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE: Well, several things happened, obviously. You had the president decided he didn't like the outcome of the election and he started that lie. And because of that, millions of Republicans around the country now question the safety and security of the system and the counting of their own vote. Now, what a lot of representatives said early on, and I was on CNN,

and they had no-excuse absentee voting, cutting back on early voting days, getting rid of Sunday voting. I said at the time --

BROWN: We had -- that's not on the bill. Yeah.

STERLING: Look, cooler heads are going to prevail. This bill really does almost -- it doesn't do anything to suppress anybody's vote, but it does do a few things to help people feel better about the election process. One of the things that has been talked about is, once you begin counting voting, you're going to go all the way to the finish. That takes away some of those ability to spread the disinformation on those things.

If you use a voter ID number, you're even more quickly and easily identity somebody. And in Georgia, ours was so good because we have automatic voter registration, which means that over 97 percent of Georgians are already registered to vote through the driver license system, 97 percent of those, we have 99 percent of Social Security numbers and dates of birth. So, that's an easy way to do this.

Let's remember in Delaware, you still have to have an excuse to your vote. Not in Georgia. In New York -- I'm sorry, New Jersey, and California and Virginia, you have to have your driver's license number mandatory on your drivers' license (INAUDIBLE) absentee ballot request and ballot.

None of this has suppressed anybody's votes in these places.


BROWN: OK. So, we're going to get more into the intricacies of this bill because it is a mixed bag.

But I want to go back to sort of the larger question here, the premise of this, right, why this was even passed in the first place. And you had mentioned one of the reasons, the big reason why we're even at this place having this conversation is because former President Trump pushed the big lie. Governor Kemp says they were, quote, alarming issues in the 2020 election and that is why there is this push for these changes.

But I want to go back to something that you told me in January. Let's listen.


STERLING: When people make these kind of claims, they undermine sort of the underpinnings of how the republic is supposed to work. And if we get to a point where people consistently blame cheating or we were wronged or all of those kind of things, it undermines how the system is supposed to work.


BROWN: So, isn't that what's happening here in terms of this bill being based on this false premise that the election was rigged and setting a bad precedent as a result as you would fear that the losing party goes around saying this election was stolen and then they try to change the voting laws as a result.

STERLING: Pamela, in this state that's what happened in the previous time in 2018. The people who are complaining about us getting rid of signature match, the Democrats, are literally sued -- they sued us last year to get rid of signature match. They're trying to have it both ways. They bought Jim Crow 2.0, the website, weeks and weeks ago.

No matter what Georgia passed, they're going to say Georgia passed voter suppression. And so, whatever they passed here. That's the issue --

BROWN: But this --

STERLING: -- we're running into.

Both sides are guilty of this. And what I'm getting really tired of is both sides, Republican and Democrat, President Trump, in this case, President Biden, not treating American people like they're grownups and telling the truth about all of this stuff.

There are things in this bill that I wouldn't agree (ph) in this way, there are things in this bill that I think are really going to help the election administration. The problem we have is both sides weaponizing the outcome of elections and election administration, which makes both sides, the far left and the far right, not trust the outcomes of elections period. And them claiming voter suppression has the exact same effect.

BROWN: Okay. And I see what you're saying, that both sides are trying to weaponize voting. But in this case, you have a precedent that's been set where the losing party manufactured a lie and then used that lie to pass -- to change the voting laws in the state. Is that acceptable to you? Is that an acceptable precedent to set?

Because the Democrats, you can -- you can criticize them all you want, but this is -- this is a new press precedent were being set here given what started with Trump and now where we are.



STERLING: Well, if that's the case, then I guess the same (INAUDIBLE) of all the Democrats who supported HR-1 because that was also based on stuff that's not true. So, both sides do this is the point.

And I think a lot of people are claiming that this would make it harder to vote. It really doesn't make it any harder. (INAUDIBLE) still protect (INAUDIBLE) absentee.

I mean, the things we're being sued over right now are very minor. It's about the water, which I realize that's a bad optics thing. But the reality of it is, is we have law for decades, that said you can't campaign within 150 feet of the poll location. People are using the food and water to get around that. And, unfortunately, they had to say, we're bright minds, it makes it easy for the sheriffs to enforce and election administrators to enforce. Look, I get it, doesn't look great.

But again -- go ahead.

BROWN: No, no, no. I think it's important to hear what you have to say about this. Go ahead.

STERLING: It's just frustrating because this isn't about racist suppression of votes. What it's about now for the other side is no matter what the Republicans passed, like I said, I wouldn't have written this bill this way. I think a four-week runoff is too short for election administration purposes. But I think it's better than we have. It's always a mixed bag in an omnibus bill.

I mean, I definitely wouldn't have written a bill that took my boss, Secretary Raffensperger, who did a great job and a wonderful out of the role of chief elections officer and the head of the state election board.

All those things are not things that I agree with, but this bill itself is not a voter suppression bill. It's used to build confidence in people who literally, they lost confidence because there were lies. Yes, I get that. And when you ask most of the elected representatives who are Republicans, they know that the election wasn't stolen, but they have to do (ph) so because of their people. This is how a representative democracy works oftentimes.

Your people are banging on your door to do something and you can do a couple things.

BROWN: Yeah.

STERLING: And what they did here was mainly responsible election administration changes.

BROWN: OK. So, let me ask you, you brought it up about secretary of state being taken out, power being stripped essentially from being part of the election board.

Do you see that as punitive action against your office because you and the secretary of state stood up for the integrity of the election amid these false claims of widespread fraud? Is this punitive?


BROWN: Okay. So as a result, are you concerned that the state can now override local election officials if this measure had been in place when, for example, Trump urged Republican officials to find enough votes for him to win in Georgia, would this have given them a legal way to do that?

[20:10:12] STERLING: No, it wouldn't. And that's a really terrible misinterpretation. I think intentional misinterpretation of many people.

BROWN: Well, I tell you, it's not my intentional one, but I think it's a fair question because Ben Ginsberg -- the reason I ask is Ben Ginsberg, the Republican lawyer, actually said it could. So, go ahead.

STERLING: Well, I'll tell why it can't in real life. It's very similar with what we saw in Florida and all of us have been around elections for a long time, every year, Florida, we saw Palm Beach Counties, something up.


STERLING: The state stepped in and then replaced those bad workers. This is a similar model that actually has a bipartisan board who does it. It's going to take weeks and months to go through what they call performance reviews. Then it has to be brought before the SEB. They have to vote.

And then if they don't like it, it has to be appealed to a superior court. There's a lot of de-process. This is about counties who consistently fail. And in Georgia, we have one county, I don't want to say it because they always get upset. But every time we wake up on Election Day afterwards, there's always something messed in this county and it hurts voters.

Those long lines were in the county that I'm talking about. The one you mentioned for the woman earlier, and they were in June. But we've also got to remember about some of this is what happened in Georgia in June was completely COVID-driven. By November, we had eliminated those lines.

And another thing that we had in our bill, in this bill that we pushed for in the 2019 bill as well was to try to get -- if you have 2,000 people at a polling location and you have a line of over an hour, in the next election, you have to adequate or split that polling location. All Democrats voted against it because we supported it.

People need to be grownups and do their jobs and be responsible with the roles that they have and be honest with their constituents. That's one of the things that frustrates me and (INAUDIBLE).

BROWN: But there were really long lines in Gwinnett County, eight hours I believe, during the early voting and so, when you see then that this bill cracks down on handing water and food to people in line, can you see why there is this response, Gabriel, especially because it is being used with the pretext of, oh, this is about election integrity and it's like, OK, well --

STERLING: Here's the reality. We have people walking up to people and say, hey, you've got to get your friends out and vote. Hey, who are you voting for? And there's no way for somebody who's trying to police that the rule, the law that's been there for decades that you can't do it within 150 feet. But they can't sleep (ph) at tables, can't have people (INAUDIBLE).

They always do this and one of the things we've been frustrated with some of these counties is we told them, you need more early voting locations to avoid these kind of situations. We're really talking about election (INAUDIBLE)

BROWN: OK. Very last -- quick last question, my producer is going to have a heart attack. But I'm going to ask you quickly, Gabriel.

Your office has been investigating irregularities. Have you found anything since the election and is there any update on the Trump investigation of those two phone calls?

STERLING: I know those all are continuing. We're still trying to find those two dead voters, because yes, we know two people voted but we have to identify who actually did that for them.

We're still going through the felon list, which is 74 (INAUDIBLE) individually to say who's finished their sentences and those kind of things. We found some double voters, mainly through absentee ballot and misprocessing and just fear of not having been able to vote, so they went and voted in person and the county had done that yet.

We're still down in the 200 and dozens of this. Nothing left (INAUDIBLE)


And any update on the Trump investigation? Do you think he's going to face charges?

STERLING: It is ongoing. I think the bigger one is probably going to be the one from the Fulton County, Fani Willis. And from our side, I know it continues to move, we have state election board meeting coming up in April. I don't think that's going to be in that particular agenda but I know it is ongoing.

BROWN: OK. Gabriel Sterling, thanks for coming on the show.

STERLING: Thank you. Have a great weekend.

BROWN: You too.

And now to the ongoing battle against the coronavirus. Despite the good news vaccines, there are troubling signs around the world. Plus, a member of the Trump administration COVID response team, now saying that we could've saved hundreds of thousands of lives if messaging had only been more effective.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has more.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than one year into the pandemic, a former Trump administration official revealed in a blockbuster interview, with CNN 's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, airing Sunday night, that she believes that many of the deaths in the United States could've been prevented through different policy decisions.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: I look at it this way. The first time we have an excuse. There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original search. All of the rest of them in my mind could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: You look back at the last year comes on the heels of some relatively good news. The total number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S. on Friday in the U.S. reached a daily record according to the White House.


And more vaccine doses are coming. Next week, Johnson & Johnson expected to deliver at least 11 million doses of its single shot vaccine across the country.

More supply means more Americans will have access. And analysis by CNN finds only 2 states have yet to say one doses are available to everyone eligible under FDA guidance. The other 48 have already made or planning to make the vaccine available to everyone older than the age of 16 in a matter of weeks.

But experts say this is not the time for Americans to let their guards down, especially as warmer weather and spring holidays like Passover and Easter may lead to larger gatherings. And the more contagious virus variants are still spreading. More than 100 cases of COVID in Nebraska were traced to a child care facility, many with the variant first identified in the U.K.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We are having two and a half million vaccinations per day. That's fantastic. But I also think that restrictions are being lifted so quickly, including mask mandates, and people are getting very tired, at the same time we also have these more contagious variants that are circulating, we can help people to manage the risk and to try to reduce the risk as much as possible.

And that means encouraging vaccination, continuing to wear masks, and ideally messaging that masks and vaccinations are out of the way and out of this pandemic.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: It is a very different story outside of the U.S. Brazil is struggling to get doses of the vaccine, and reported its highest single day death toll from COVID-19 on Friday. The president of France and the European Union reacted less quickly in the U.S. when it came to the initial vaccine rollout.

While it sorts its vaccine problems, the E.U. is struggling to reopen. In France, increasing cases in schools leading to new classroom closures. And Germany imposing new quarantine and testing rules on visitors from France, a country it now labels a high risk COVID-19 area.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.


BROWN: And coming up later in the hour, Michigan Attorney Dana Nessel on her mission to make Facebook and Twitter step up against anti- vaccine lies. I will also ask her what she thinks about the leader of Michigan's Republican Party calling her a witch.

But, first, what the Biden administration doesn't want you to see at the border. Our Rosa Flores is on the scene investing the truth of America's overwhelmed immigration system. Her standout reporting is up next.



BROWN: Well, the number of migrants at the U.S. Mexican border is expected to continue to surge, on top of a surge. On Thursday, there were more than 18,000 children in U.S. government custody. Above 1,000 more than Wednesday.

And while the Biden administration has promised more media access to the border facilities housing these children. So far, we're still waiting.

CNN's Rosa Flores gives us a glimpse into with these migrant families are facing.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what the Biden administration has not allowed America to see. To tell this story, we were escorted by Texas state troopers.

Lines of migrants on Texas trails along the Rio Grande.

Nancy is pregnant and cried describing her painful journey from Honduras.

Ronnie says his family fled Honduras due to devastation from two recent hurricanes. And under this bridge, even more lines of migrants. Their silhouettes behind the trees, a sign America's immigration system is overwhelmed.


FLORES: During his first formal press conference, President Biden says --

BIDEN: I will commit to transparency.

FLORES: And while one pool news camera was allowed inside an HHS facility for unaccompanied migrant children this week, it was a sanitized version of reality, far removed from the bottleneck of this border processing facility.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection releasing their own video this week.

CNN's repeated request for access to immigration processing facilities have been denied.

The day we captured this video, Texas state troopers were our guides.

SGT. LEO PALACIOS, TEXAS STATE TROOPER: As soon as they make landfall that's considered the U.S. side for us.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: The cartel --

FLORES: Sent here by Governor Greg Abbott earlier this morning to thwart smugglers.

VICTOR ESCALON, DPS REGIONAL DIRECTOR: It's way to suffocate and put a lot of pressure on the cartel.

FLORES: Victor Escalon is the top cop in charge of what Abbott calls Operation Lone Star.

ESCALON: As Border Patrol gets tied up with processing migrants that come across, they'll leave miles at times open on the river.

FLORES: That's where Texas steps in, by water, air, and by ground, says Escalon, to fill the gaps of the security on the Rio Grande.

According to state troopers, if you look closely in between those trees, you'll see a camp, some sort of staging area on the Mexican side and on the U.S. side. And this is one of the hot spots they described, a trail that is used by migrants, and you can clearly see the path.

The landscape is peppered with evidence that it is used by migrants. We see clothes, documents, masks.

All leading to these dirt trails with arrows pointing migrants to the immigration processing center under the bridge.

Nancy says feeling hungry for two was the worst part of the journey.

While most of the migrants I met say they made the trek to the U.S. because they were poor, this little girl was rich in faith. Ending our conversation by saying, thanks and God bless you.



BROWN: That was Rosa Flores.

This just in: Senator Ted Cruz has tweeted photos and video he says are from inside the border patrol facility in Donna, Texas. The images appear to show children gather in crowded rooms with many of them wrapped in the blankets you see here.

The photos and videos Cruz tweeted blurred of the faces and identifying details of the children.

As we know, Cruz led a delegation into the border on Friday.

Well, more than a year, in coronavirus still takes a toll on mental health. And it's not just kids who are struggling. Dr. Christine Moutier from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention joins me next.



BROWN: Well, as the pandemic begins to turn a corner, the realities of the mental health toll will become even more evident in the months to come. A CDC study published this month says virtual learning may increase risk to mental health and wellness compared to in-person learning.

And the national poll for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan found almost half of parents say their teen has a new or worsened mental health condition since the start of the pandemic and nearly three out of the four parents noticed a negative impact on their child's ability to interact with friends.

Dr. Christine Moutier, the chief medical officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention joins me now. Thank you for coming on, Doctor.

I just think mental health is such an important issue. We talk so much about the physical impact of COVID, but the mental health impact is large, and we still don't know the full scope of that. I want to talk about this new study published by the CDC last week that says virtual learning may pose more risk to the mental health of children and parents than in person learning.

What signs should parents look for in their kids to see if their mental health is being impacted?

CHRISTINE MOUTIER, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION: You know, Pamela, thank you so much for having me on, for covering this important topic because everyone is experiencing some level of distress with this pandemic. And even a year in and with some light at the end of the tunnel, there's more to come. And I think you're so right, distress could actually increase here in these later parts because we're not girding ourselves in the same way.

It's sort of a paradoxical effect, but what I look for in my own kids and my loved ones are changes in behavior from their usual patterns of behavior. It can look like anger outbursts, it can look like withdrawing not being as into their usual activities, it can be physical changes like changes in their sleep, their appetite, their energy level. And your gut instinct will tell you, especially, as a mother, as a

father, as a loved one. You know what your loved ones' patterns actually look like and you shouldn't be afraid to open up a caring conversation if that signal is going off inside of you.

BROWN: And as you know, the kids are the only ones feeling the impact, adults are noticing the pandemic affecting their mental health as you -- as you noted on Twitter, I certainly have. I've had more anxiety than I've ever had. I think for a lot of people, it's realizing -- it's kind of giving people a new empathy for mental health issues because so many people are going through so much during this time.

What do you recommend for people who notice changes in their mental well-being? As you said, you know, people need to guard themselves for what's ahead.

MOUTIER: Yes. The key thing is that we all have mental health, just like we all have physical health, so it's sort of invisible to us a lot of the time, because we're not paying attention to it. But if we start paying attention, which so many of us have needed to do unfortunately during the pandemic, and thank you for sharing about your experiences, because I think that helps so many people to know that it's not always what it seems on the outside. We looked zipped up, but we're all having these internal experiences.

So, just like with our physical health, we can learn what works for us and how to achieve our best outcomes. We can do the same for our mental health, but we have to start talking about it. There are things we can do on our own and there are mental health professionals that are trained to help us really optimize our mental health. It's a time when we all should be letting our guard down talking about this more and getting the help that we need.

BROWN: I think so much -- so much of the problem is people identify with it like there's something wrong with them, but it's not something to be shameful of, you can still have a successful life and still treat that, that part.

So, Dr. Christine Moutier, thank you. We will certainly be continuing this conversation.

MOUTIER: Great. Thank you so much, Pamela.

BROWN: And if you or someone you know is struggling, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number is on your screen. The line is available 24/7 and completely confidential.

Well, amid the pandemic, misinformation about COVID vaccines are rampant on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and now, 12 attorneys general are calling on the giants to remove the content.

Michigan's attorney general, Dana Nessel, is one of them and she joins me live, up next.



BROWN: Well, beyond the birthday wishes and cat videos, there is a definite dark side to social media misinformation.

CNNs' Donie O'Sullivan talk to a Texas mom who became a social media influencer discouraging other moms from vaccinating their kids, but later Heather Simpson had a change of heart.


HEATHER SIMPSON, FORMER ANTI-VACCINE INFLUENCER: I've had people tell me that they're not vaccinating because of my posts.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How does that make you feel now?

SIMPSON: Really bad.


BROWN: Well, right now, there is a flood of misinformation about the safety and effectiveness of the -- COVID effectiveness, rather, of the COVID-19 vaccines, and it's gotten the attention of lawmakers who worried that thousands of lives are at stake.

On Thursday, they tried to pin down social media execs like Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.


REP. MIKE DOYLE (D-PA): Why in the midst of a global pandemic that has killed over half a million Americans that you haven't taken these accounts down that are responsible for the preponderance of vaccine disinformation on your platforms?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FACEBOOK: Congressman, yes, we do have a policy against allowing --

DOYLE: Why don't we have a policy. Will you take the sites down today? You still have 12 people up on your site doing this. Will you take them down?

ZUCKERBERG: Congressman, I would need to look at the -- and have our team look at the exact examples to make sure --

DOYLE: -- tomorrow because those still exist.


BROWN: Well, joining me now Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel, she is one of 12 attorneys who -- attorneys general who have now called on Facebook and twitter to shut down anti-vaccine content. Welcome to the show. Thank you for coming on.


When did you realize how much does information was out there and how much does it worry you that people in your state were being put in danger?

DANA NESSEL, MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, honestly, it's just recently that we actually saw the numbers on this. And, you know, what you heard in terms of the testimonies that only 12 anti-vaxxers personal accounts and associated groups and organizations are responsible for 65 percent of all the public anti-vaccination content, but it's already reached over 59 million Americans and many of those people would have gotten vaccinated and now are more skeptical about it.

And so, it's incredibly concerning considering the fact that we still see -- have over thousand people dying every day in this country, and 75,000 new cases per day. I mean, this is a serious problem. The only way we're going to be able to address it is through vaccinating as many people as possible.

And your coalition actually found 12 accounts and their associated organizations being responsible as you pointed out for 65 percent of the public anti-vaccine content on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and in particular the accounts target people of color to discourage them from getting the COVID-19 vaccines.

When you decided to run for attorney general, did you have any idea how much of a challenge you'd face from fake news?

NESSEL: Well, we already saw it, of course, during the 2016 election when I ran for election in 2018. So, I was already aware that it was out there.

But let me say this, during the 2020 election, our office worked so effectively with Facebook and twitter and YouTube and all the other online media platforms to ensure that we weren't having massive misinformation and disinformation about voting. So, we know that they're capable of it. And they did a great job of working with us.

And those targets, more often than not, were communities of color African-Americans that were being targeted with misinformation about the campaign. I'm sorry about voting, about absentee voting, and how you could -- the best way to vote.

So, all we're asking is that they do the exact same thing they did then in terms of ensuring that we don't have misinformation and disinformation about vaccinations, which are targeting the same communities.

BROWN: OK. We actually are getting some breaking news in out of Virginia Beach, so unfortunately, we have to wrap this up. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, thank you so much.

NESSEL: Thanks for having me.

BROWN: And be sure to join us for a new CNN special report as Ed Lavandera investigates one state. It's an unemployment system and the impact of COVID-19, the CNN Special Report, The Price We Pay: The Economic Cost of COVID, airs next. And as I mentioned, we have breaking news this hour. We have just learned that the Virginia Beach officer who shot a suspect to death did not activate their body cam. A lot of unanswered questions about the situation there tonight. Our law enforcement analyst, Cedric Alexander, joins me next. So, stick around for that.

And right now, several states are under the threat of severe weather including a tornado watch in effect. We're tracking all of it.



BROWN: Breaking news into CNN tonight on the multiple shootings in Virginia Beach. We have just learned that the officer in the shooting death of Donovan Lynch did not have his body camera turned on. Have a listen.


CHIEF PAUL NEUDIGATE, VIRGINIA BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT: I've seen some of the community concerns about Mr. Donovan being or Mr. Lynch being unarmed. What I can tell you is that there was a firearm recovered in the vicinity of where this incident occurred. We would like to be more forthcoming, but unfortunately, we do not have body cam footage of this incident. The officer was wearing a body cam, but for unknown reasons at this point in time, it was not activated.


BROWN: Well, there were a total of three shootings on Friday night, one incident was a physical fight that ended in gunfire. Police have made three arrests in that shooting investigation and another nearby, they found the body of Deshayla Harris.

I want to bring in Cedric Alexander to discuss this. He is a former police chief and former president of the National Organization, a black law enforcement executive. Cedric, thanks for coming on.

As you heard there, they were talking about Friday night and Virginia Beach, the police chief there said, his officer who was involved in one of those shootings did not have his body cam activated, and he hasn't even been interviewed yet. Does that strike you a standard protocol?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR, DEKALB COUNTY, GEORGIA: Well, you know, in these types of situations, particularly high-profile situations where you have officer involved shootings, body cameras have become so much a part of that investigation and is so important to have it if you can.

Now, the reason why the officer did not have a body camera on could be for a variety of reasons. And I think that is yet to be disclosed in this investigation, because it's still to be very early on. Everything that I'm reading and hearing is that you have a number of agencies that are involved in this investigation, and I think that's critically important for as information this gather. We have no more and really we have to applaud the chief for sharing as much information as he can at this point.

BROWN: But I just want to ask you about being interviewed because I would imagine that after something like this, you would want to talk to the officer while the incident is still fresh in the mind. What do you think of that aspect of this?


ALEXANDER: Well, typically, that will happen. Investigators will speak with officers, different departments have different policies based on sometimes what their policies may stake -- state, you may have access immediately to talk to those officers. But you also have to remember for them is also a traumatic event as well, they may give them some time before they take a statement from them.

So, it varies from department to department in these cases. But certainly, it becomes critically important to get statements from those officers and from witnesses, so that more can be learned about what is going on here.

BROWN: All right. Cedric Alexander, thanks so much.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.

BROWN: And this just in to CNN. The top military leaders from the U.S. and its allies are publicly condemning the violence by Myanmar more security forces.

CNN's Barbara Starr joins me on the phone right now with the latest. Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, we've had a very interesting development tonight. As you just said, the head of the U.S. military, the most senior U.S. military officer, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and 11 of his counterparts, from 11 different countries late tonight, have issued a joint statement condemning the Myanmar Armed Forces, where of course, we've seen these very disturbing moves by the armed forces there, killing civilians in the streets.

The statement is from the U.S., the U.K. I want to read them all off Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. And as I said, the United Kingdom and the U.S. And they say all 12 of them as chiefs of defense, we condemn the use of lethal force against unarmed people by the Myanmar armed forces. And they go on to say they urge -- ceasing the violence and working to restore respect and credibility with the people of Myanmar, that it has lost through its actions.

I do not recall -- I have to tell you, Pamela, a similar action by military chiefs across 12 countries. We often see U.N. Security Council resolutions. We see international condemnations, but to have the chiefs of military staff across 12 countries issue a statement like this condemning Myanmar and what it is doing, is very -- is -- I do not recall it ever happening before.

Now, will it make a difference? Probably, frankly, not in the long run. We are seeing the Myanmar Armed Forces out in the streets killing civilians on the street. We're seeing the protests continue. It's a pretty dreadful situation over there with so many civilians dying.

But tonight, we see the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs clearly with the approval of the White House, making this international statement along with 11 other countries. Pamela?

BROWN: That is significant. Barbara Starr, thanks for bringing us the latest.

Also, more breaking news, a tornado watch is in effect right now for parts of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, as a line of severe storms move through the area.

CNN meteorologist, Gene Norman, joins me now with the latest. Gene, what can you tell us?

GENE NORMAN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I can tell you it's going to be a long night for a lot of folks in the South, Pamela. We're talking about the potential for back to back tornadoes. There's never a good time to have severe weather, but certainly in the evening hours is the worst because you can't really see what's going on.

Let's take it to the latest, and we can show that there's a stream, a steady stream of these storms that's moving across a good part of sections of Arkansas and Western Tennessee. And these purple boxes you see here, those are active tornado warnings. And we've had at least a couple of tornadoes on the ground. And this one, I believe, is still tagged by the Weather Services, the potential to have considerable damage.

And as you mentioned, a lot of states are under a tornado watch stretches from Middle Tennessee all the way back into the portions of Texas. A lot of these won't expire until midnight. It's not out of the question that some of them could be extended further East as the storms continue to ramp up.

Now, our computer model that shows where the storms are going to go, shows them marching across, yes, unfortunately, sections of Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia still trying to clean up from Thursday's storms.

And then to make things worse, these storms are going to push their way up into the Carolinas tomorrow and even into Southern Virginia. The risk for severe weather has increased, let's say from South of Richmond to toward Raleigh.

And if you don't get hit by the severe weather, well, the problem is we're looking at heavy rain. We could be looking at some dangerous flooding conditions to a long night. So, make sure if you're in these areas, you have a way to know if that dangerous weather is coming for you.


BROWN: Absolutely. And it comes after the parts of the country are still reeling from severe weather earlier in this week. Meteorologist Gene Norman, thank you for bringing us the latest there.

And coming up tomorrow, two-time Oscar winner, Sean Penn, will join me, his nonprofit organization is working to help communities across the country handle the surge in COVID cases and the vaccination efforts.

And thank you so much for joining me this evening, I'm Pamela Brown and I'm going to see you again tomorrow night starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. The CNN Special Report, The Price We Pay: The Economic Cost of COVID, hosted by Ed Lavandera is up next.