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California Theme Parks To Reopen Under Strict COVID Guidance; Interview With Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) About Voting Restrictions; Biden Vows Transparency, Full Media Access At Border Facilities; Congressional Delegation Visits Atlanta Area Crime Scenes; Nonprofit Group Core Offers Testing And Shots Across The U.S.; Murder Trial For Fired Minneapolis Officer Begins Tomorrow; U.N. Officials Condemn Myanmar's Attack On Civilians. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 28, 2021 - 19:00   ET



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

Well, all eyes were on Michigan as the state's top health director says a third coronavirus surge is under way. Well ahead of the Easter holiday. One of the most troubling aspects is that the new case rate is highest among children and teens ages 10 to 19 years old.

Officials say they're seeing outbreaks directly related to sports teams and other student clubs. Anyone who plays organized sports ages 13 and 19 is now required to get tested at least once a week. Starting April 5th, anyone 16 or older will be eligible for a COVID vaccine in Michigan.

California health officials are allowing major amusement parks like Disneyland and Universal Studios to re-open but only under very strict coronavirus safety rules.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is at Six Flags Magic Mountain Los Angeles.

Paul, that park plans to open in just a couple of days. How are they going to run a huge theme park like that and keep people safe at the same time?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, with a lot of ingenuity, Pam. You can tell, I'm in this sort of barn-like structure. This is going to be thermal temperature check before I can even get into the park. My photographer Dyke Demes (PH) is going give me my reading. What's my temperatures, Dyke?


VERCAMMEN: 98.4. So I'm in. The idea of all of this is be contactless. The security check will be done with imaging. There will be no pat down unless you have a weapon or something. They'll also have you provide your ticket on your phone. Again, they don't want anybody touching anything and they are thrilled to be re-opening on Thursday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN MIYAHIRA, PUBLIC SAFETY MANAGER, SIX FLAGS MAGIC MOUNTAIN: We are opening at 15 percent capacity. So we are not anticipating any shoulder to shoulder, and we discourage shoulder to shoulder gatherings. With that being said, it's also limited currently to Southern or California residents only to even make this reservation. And while you're here, there are some things like social distancing, physical distancing, we have signage on floors to remind individuals to stay separated.

There's also a rule about wearing your mask at all times including while you're participating in our rides.


VERCAMMEN: And should your mask fall off on a ride, there will be the staff standing nearby with extra masks to give out to you and get you back on the rides with the mask on, of course. Among other things they are cleaning up here diligently and interestingly enough, just outside the gates here, the major Los Angeles County vaccine site will continue to operate. So for some people they might be able to get a shot in the arm and then get turned upside down on a roller coaster on the same day.

Reporting from Valencia, I'm Paul Vercammen. Back to you, Pam.

BROWN: Thanks so much, Paul. And I'm glad that you had a good temperature. That was good. Thanks so much for the latest there.

And we want to turn now to Florida. COVID restrictions are nearly nonexistent there, but restrictions on voting are in the works. Like Georgia next door, state Republicans backed by the governor are pushing a series of tougher voting measures.

Republican Congressman Michael Waltz joins me now to discuss further.

Hi, Congressman Waltz. Thanks for coming on the show.

REP. MICHAEL WALTZ (R-FL): Yes. Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: So I --

WALTZ: So I can tell you very quickly, Disney World in Florida has been opened now for months with no major breakouts and in fact I'm in Orlando now and I'm seeing sadly families from California where Disneyland has been locked down flying all the way here to Disneyworld.

No major outbreak. Our statistics are good. Our schools have been open since last August. So, we all want to follow the data, but I would suggest lot of these lockdown states are not doing that. Anyway, just want to --



BROWN: That's fair enough, and we hear you loud and clear. We're going to talk more about Florida and COVID coming up. But I want to first just start with what we're seeing happen across the country with voting rights.

WALTZ: Sure.

BROWN: Just to be transparent with our viewers, it's important to establish where you stand on this. You have said you had issues with how states went around the state legislatures in this past election, but you ultimately did vote to certify the 2020 election results. So is it fair to say that you accept Joe Biden won the presidency?

WALTZ: Well, I think a number of officials, unelected officials, and a number of states changed the rules just months before the election that many in ways tilted the election in Democrats' favor. But at the end of the day, what makes America different than so many places I fought in around the world is a peaceful transfer of power.


I think those issues still need to be addressed. Many states are addressing them now. And, you know, but we have to move forward as a country. But, to your point, though, you know, if what I keep asking is if many Democrats say the elections were just fine, no issues, then why do we have HR-1 --

BROWN: Wait, hold on, hold on, before we get to that talking point.

WALTZ: -- the Democrats' number one priority, moving through the House.

BROWN: But I just want to get clarity on the question I asked you.

WALTZ: Sure.

BROWN: This basic truth that American voters fairly and squarely put Joe Biden in the White House, yes or no?

WALTZ: President Biden is the president of the United States. He is the commander-in-chief. We can only have one.

BROWN: Did he win fairly and squarely?

WALTZ: Look, I think there are real issues with the election. But he won it.

BROWN: OK, so -- and just on that, as you know, there are -- there were more than 230 cases before the election. The battleground was set and in some Republican states, Ohio, Texas and North Carolina, they also went around the state legislatures as well. Those of course were states that Trump won. But just holding on what you said, kind of what you laid out earlier, you accept --

WALTZ: Yes, I mean, Pamela, we can relitigate the whole thing. But I mean, there are also states, you know, you said Florida is tightening up its laws. But, you know, Florida used to be a laughingstock of elections, now we had a very clear election because we did things differently in '16 and '18 and will continue to improve in '20 and so -- I just kind of reject the premise that Florida is already tightening its rules.

What it's doing is making it better. And I think if those other states do so then we'll have a much cleaner and much more integral election going forward with voter integrity.

BROWN: But, I mean, the bottom line is there are bills in the House and the Senate in Florida that are, reworking the voting laws. I mean, Republicans in your state are pushing to add restrictions to mail voting.


BROWN: And drop boxes.

WALTZ: Sure.

BROWN: The one in the Senate restricts drop boxes totally even though your governor --

WALTZ: One of the things -- well.

BROWN: Hold on, hold on. Let me --

WALTZ: One of the things -- yes.

BROWN: Hold on one second, Congressman.


BROWN: I do want to hear what you have to say but I also think it's important to include this context.

WALTZ: Sure. OK.

BROWN: So even though your governor, Ron DeSantis, frequently bragged about how secure and fair Florida's 2020 election was, let's listen to this.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: The results of 2020 from an administrative perspective was that Florida had the most transparent and efficient election anywhere in the country. Floridians of all stripes can rest assured that in this state, your vote counts. Your vote matters. Your vote will be counted. It's going to be transparent. It's going to be above board. It's going to be a confidence inspiring process.


BROWN: OK, so, in light of that, that was after millions of Floridians voted by mail, including President Trump himself. So why the need to rush through these new rules or put through these new rules on mail-in ballots and drop boxes?


BROWN: If the election was so successful as he said?

WALTZ: Yes, that's an easy answer. Florida has been doing a very strict, a very regimented process of vote by mail for many years. We're very hurricane prone. We have a lot of seniors. And you have to request the ballot, you have to prove with your I.D. who you are. And here's the thing, we knew all of our numbers and all of our totals on election night. You contrast that with states who changed the rules just months in advance with unelected officials.

You know, for example, in Pennsylvania, had 10 time the number of mail-in voting. In New York, they couldn't even settle -- they couldn't even settle congressional election --

BROWN: But mail-in voting was passed in 2019.

WALTZ: Hang on, I let you --

BROWN: Go ahead.

WALTZ: Pamela, I let you ask. Please let me answer.

BROWN: I just have to fact check. Go ahead.

WALTZ: But, no, please I'm happy to go an hour with you and fact check. In New York, the facts are, because the system was overwhelmed with mail-in voting because election officials were pushing it, they couldn't get a primary, Democratic primary counted for six weeks. So I think this notion that states don't have the right to improve their elections over time is just a fallacious one, but I would if I could --

BROWN: Go ahead. Go ahead.

WALTZ: -- want to ask about why then the Democrats, if everything is fine, want to make all states perform their elections the same with HR-1 and include things that just don't make sense. Dropping the voting age to 16? Do we want teenagers voting?

BROWN: Registering to vote.

WALTZ: Banning any state -- banning any state from requiring I.D. You know, I have to present an I.D. to get cigarettes or beer. We certainly should for the integrity of the vote. So, if everything is fine, why are the Democrats cramming this? And I can tell you what's going on in Georgia is about politics. They're gaslighting these changes. They're gaslighting these improvements and fearmongering, calling them racist, calling them Jim Crow, so that they can then justify getting rid of the filibuster and then cram through HR-1.

[19:10:08] BROWN: OK. Well, that's a --

WALTZ: Which will make it the nation vote like California.

BROWN: That's a big stretch there.

WALTZ: And vote like New York.

BROWN: You heard the governor say there was a crisis of confidence in all these issues based on a manufactured lie that the election was stolen. There were multiple recounts in Georgia. I mean, both sides have their arguments about the bill. I just interviewed Gabriel Sterling, Republican, in the secretary of state's office last night.


BROWN: And he conceded that yes, I mean, had Donald Trump not lost Georgia they probably would not have done this. He said there was a punitive measure in the bill against the secretary of state's office.

WALTZ: No he said that --

BROWN: He also went after HR --

WALTZ: Pamela, he said that about one specific issue on his office.

BROWN: I said -- and I said that. I said that. I said --

WALTZ: One specific issue.

BROWN: OK. And --

WALTZ: But Gabriel and Kemp were the same officials, CNN and the media and others were lauding when they pushed back on Trump but now this is a crisis now this is voter suppression and now it's racist. So I think we're -- there's a little bit of talking out of both sides' mouth on this one.

BROWN: Well, and I'm not taking a certainly position, I'm just looking at the facts here and there are --

WALTZ: Fair enough.

BROWN: There are a record number of bills being passed through Republican legislatures, which they have the right to -- hey, they were elected into office.

WALTZ: It's in the Constitution.

BROWN: They have the right to do that.


BROWN: I am saying that --

WALTZ: And through the Democratic-led Congress. Right? So as their number one priority, their first bill, not immigration, not health care reform, not transportation. Their number one priority, and if everything is fine, then why do they want to dramatically change the way the entire nation votes?

BROWN: But then if everything is fine, and the same question would go in, and I wonder --

WALTZ: Right. Right.

BROWN: -- and China, too. But the same question would go again in Florida where if it was so great, well, you guys have been doing mail- in ballots using drop boxes for so long, why --

WALTZ: Because Florida was a disaster. Florida was a disaster years ago.

BROWN: Yes, it used to be, years and years ago you guys --

WALTZ: And we have improved. And we've improved every time.

BROWN: So then why -- OK, so, anyway, we could talk about that and by the way, Pennsylvania in 2019, the Republican legislature passed the mail-in ballots there. But we must move, I like a lively debate and this certainly has been one, Congressman Waltz. But I want to go to China because in 2020, you called the coronavirus pandemic a coverup by China, saying they unleashed this virus. So are you saying this was deliberate and do you have any evidence to back up that claim?

WALTZ: Well, we know two things. We know one that the Chinese military is incorporating biowarfare including gene crisping into its military planning and that's actually -- that's not from fringe elements. That's actually from the former head of their military science department and their National Defense University. And number two, I believe on your show, on -- excuse me, CNN's show, Dr. Redfield is saying that he also believes it came out of the Wuhan lab where we know they were experimenting.

BROWN: He did.

WALTZ: Where we know they were experimenting. So what we also know is that the Chinese government disappeared journalists who were trying to be whistleblowers, disappeared doctors who were trying to sound the alarm. Still haven't shared data with the WHO, would not allow the CDC to come in. So I think the Chinese government is absolutely complicit in a coverup. If not, in a serious accident at best that came out of its lab and is responsible for the deaths of millions around the world.

And then the irony is they are now leveraging vaccines and leveraging PPE in this kind of hostage diplomacy for countries who are desperately trying to recover. It's like the arsonist, you know, profiting off of the fire that they started.


WALTZ: It's really sad and it's sick. BROWN: And really quick, we should note Dr. Redfield did propose that

theory. It was his opinion, he did not provide evidence. I don't know -- it didn't sound like -- this is your opinion as well. Not necessarily based --

WALTZ: Well, I mean, I cannot reveal. There is intelligence reporting and there is other reporting and there have been a series of diplomatic cables for years now, questioning the safety of the lab and knowing that this type of virus manipulation was going on in that lab.

BROWN: So you've seen recent intelligence then that suggests -- to support that theory then? Is that what you're saying?

WALTZ: Well, I don't want to go any further but it is contemporaneous, and we know that, again, we know that the Chinese government, beautiful and amazing culture and people, it's an authoritarian government that is incorporating and experimenting with bio warfare as part of its military planning.

BROWN: OK. Really quick, before we let you go, I just want to get your thoughts on the Biden administration today not looking to punish China over its handling of the COVID outbreak and also the Beijing Olympics. I know you've been on the forefront of boycotting that.

WALTZ: Well, to be clear, we have asked the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, to move it now for years but given the coverup of the coronavirus, millions dead around the world, and this sad, I mean, just the awful genocide that is going on in Western China, mass internment, concentration camps, a mass sterilization campaign of the Uighur women.


And what the BBC has now exposed is a mass and ongoing rape campaign, President Biden's secretary of State has admitted there was also genocide, I just don't know how we put our athletes in a position to compromise their own values when you have over a million Muslims in this kind of horrific conditions.

And how do we give the CCP, the Chinese government, this platform to basically whitewash everything that it's done and continue its propaganda. I think we need to take a stand both on human rights grounds and for what they've done with this pandemic.

BROWN: OK, Congressman Michael Waltz, thank you for that spirited discussion. Appreciate it.

WALTZ: I salute you.

BROWN: All right.

WALTZ: And thank you for your family's service. All right.

BROWN: Thank you for saying that. Thank you for your service, too. We appreciate that. Thank you. And coming up, Hollywood actor and activist Sean Penn will join me in

just a few minutes. His organization is working to get more people vaccinated against the coronavirus.



BROWN: Well, it's now been three days since President Biden's first press conference where he pledged more transparency in the Customs and Border Protection facilities. That's where almost 6,000 unaccompanied migrant children are being held after being processed. Conditions there not suited for children and many are being held beyond the 72 hours the law allows.

Several Republican senators visited the Donna, Texas, facility on Friday. Senator Ted Cruz sharing this video he says was taken inside, showing overcrowding and migrants huddled under these blankets.

CNN White House correspondent John Harwood joins me now for more.

So, John, what is the White House saying about the holdup on allowing media into these facilities?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, they're citing the needs of maintaining COVID safety, but it's pretty clear they're not eager for embarrassing pictures of these unfortunate conditions that children are being held in. Immigration is a damaging issue for Democrats to begin with. And what the administration would rather do is contrast their policies with those of the previous administration of Donald Trump and emphasize their scramble for new better facilities under the care of HHS, as Jen Psaki did on FOX today.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Trump administration was turning away kids at the borderer, sending them back on the treacherous journey or they were ripping kids from the arms of their parents. We're not doing that. We are committed to allowing cameras into the Border Patrol facilities, absolutely. I will also say we're committed to solutions. That's why I noted that we reopened or opened three facilities that have almost 7,000 beds to allow for processing these kids more quickly out of the Border Patrol facilities.

We absolutely agree these are not places for children and our focus is on solutions and moving them as quickly as possible.


HARWOOD: And Pam, the reality is, the White House wants to the maintain focus this week on the issue of economic recovery, that massive $3 trillion program that the president is going to propose to upgrade infrastructure and help families up the economic ladder. That is the second priority after COVID relief. President Biden will outline his plans in a speech at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

BROWN: All right, John Harwood, live from the White House, thanks so much.

And in the Atlanta area today, a delegation of U.S. Congress members and Asian community leaders retraced the steps that a gunman followed 12 days ago when he opened fire on three Asian owned businesses and killed eight people.

CNN national correspondent Natasha Chen is in Atlanta right now.

So, Natasha, why did the delegation feel it's so important to travel the same route the killer did?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they wanted to see for themselves the route that the gunman took from the first fall location in Acworth and Cherokee County down to this spa and the one across the street from us in Atlanta. They made the drive which is 27 miles, about 45 minutes with no traffic. And they said after making that trip, they could feel that this person definitely could have stopped after killing four people at the first location.

And now seeing how he traveled, that to them underscores the idea that he truly sought out and targeted these locations. They came, laid down flowers and prayed and paid their respect and then they met with some victims' families, including the family of Xiaojie Tan. That family shared with me this photo of their meeting and they told me that it was very emotional. They thought it was going to be a more business- like setting. But they said, they were wrong. They felt that the lawmakers were honestly grieving with them.

And later the members of this delegation spoke to the press, talking about their goals to support the Asian American community and prevent further violence. They also talked about how in their minds they feel this is definitely a hate crime, even though such charges have not been filed.


REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): These are the issues that we need to deal with. And I tell you that everything that we saw today gave me even more determination to go back to Washington, D.C., to ensure that we have our Department of Justice use its resources to call these murders a hate crime. To make sure that they interview all the witnesses in their own languages, that they look at the ethnic media, that they look at the social history of the shooter, and take every opportunity they can to call it what it is.


CHEN: Congresswoman Chu also talked about how in California where she is from, there's a 10-day waiting period to release a firearm to someone who has purchased it. She believes that gives time for someone to calm down and reevaluate actions. And she thinks that something similar, a waiting period in Georgia, would have prevented this gunman from buying a weapon the same day that he killed eight people -- Pamela.

[19:25:07] BROWN: All right, Natasha Chen, thank you so much for bringing us the latest there from Atlanta.

Well, at least a quarter of the U.S. population has had at least one shot of the COVID vaccine. Now one nonprofit is helping the U.S. test and vaccinate vulnerable and underserved communities. The co-founder, actor Sean Penn, joins me live, up next.


BROWN: Well, more than a quarter of all Americans have gotten at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.


Now, the U.S. is well on its way to hitting President Biden's now double goal, 200 million shots in the first 100 days of his administration.

One nonprofit that's pitching in CORE, an emergency relief nonprofit that focuses on vulnerable and underserved communities.

For the past year, it's been helping give free COVID testing in LA and beyond and right now, it is working to help vaccinate communities across the country.

And I'm happy to welcome a co-founder of CORE, two-time Oscar winning actor and activist, Sean Penn.

Sean, thanks for joining the show. Off the bat, why are grassroots efforts like this so important right now?

SEAN PENN, COFOUNDER, CORE: I think what we're going to find is that in the best of circumstances, governance is not enough. There are just not the resources possible and that citizens have to stand up in natural disasters and we've found that there's an extraordinary will to do that.

I think it's what -- it is the center of the success of CORE to date is that when we work in the various areas of the country that we work, we hire locally and have found that there's just a very determined will to participate as citizens.

BROWN: And you've started off with testing during COVID, now the focus is on vaccine. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, you've said that volunteering to restore and rebuild has opened your eyes to the way people connect to participate, and I actually had gone to Haiti, too, during the time after the earthquake and saw it firsthand myself. I had two trips there.

How powerful has it been to see that in action during the pandemic?

PENN: Well, there's been a lot of reasons not to have optimism in these last year, there's been such division in the country, but when COVID hit and I saw what young people were willing to do, standing up very quickly, being trained, we had focused on the partnerships and we found very good partnerships to support those teams starting with the Los Angeles Fire Department and Mayor Garcetti and Los Angeles into Fulton County with the Chairman Pitts and Dick Parsons and the Board of Health in Georgia, Chicago with the President Nez and Navajo Nation.

And in working together with governance, we found we were able to build out much more quickly much less overlap.

BROWN: So fear and misinformation are doing a lot of damage right now, as you know. How do you react when you hear people saying they don't want to get the vaccine? They don't trust the vaccine. They read something online about it that was bad.

PENN: You know, I think that while there is a very real vaccine hesitancy issue, it is also true that now that there are very clearly defined guidelines that are leading people to understand the programs available initially with the testing and now in vaccination, I really believe that we are going to find that there's more trust in it as we go along. There is more people getting vaccinated throughout the diverse population.

And I think that there is now a much more understood -- a kind of penetrative understanding of how we have to work with community leaders, with church leaders, especially in in neighborhoods of color and we're at this stage, you know we don't have any shortage of clients as it were because we're not only doing -- we get a lot of attention for our big sites like Dodger Stadium.

But we do an enormous amount of mobile sites and what we're finding is in 90 percent of those are in neighborhoods of color and we're finding that there's a lot more responsiveness than a lot of the talk would lead us to believe.

I think it's getting more and more trust. These are extraordinary vaccines, all three of the ones that are currently in distribution in the United States and all we need now as everyone knows is more inventory, scaling up the vaccine.

BROWN: And more inventory, yes, exactly and I want to dive a little bit deeper into what you said about helping serve underserved communities.

Tell me how you've been able to use your celebrity to cut through red tape, specifically with the Navajo Nation? Tell me what the experience has been like.

PENN: Well, Navajo Nation, you know like any body politic, it has -- there are a lot of, you know, push and pull but significantly President Nez has as offered a leadership. It is very clear there, you know, as when we went into testing, it has a very clear reverence for elders and so there was an enormous amount of buy in on the distancing, on the masking and in participation and in Navajo Nation in particular, we really are following their lead.

We are not as directly involved in the testing space or the vaccination space there, it is more distribution of hygiene kits and the building of additional housing for isolation.


BROWN: I see and before we let you go, I want to ask you one last question. The U.N. Secretary has said the global vaccination campaign presents the greatest moral test of our times. As someone who has spent time in poor countries, and right now, if you look at nations like Brazil, they are just getting hammered by this virus. Do you think the U.S. has a moral obligation to share more doses of the COVID vaccine? We know they sent some to Canada and Mexico, but beyond that?

PENN: The ethics of this are really complicated. On the political side, I would understand the public in the United States and leadership with an enormous amount of pressure to make sure that there are as many Americans are vaccinated as possible with those things that we were able to afford.

But I think that being able to afford it is a grace that we should extend beyond. How we do that, initially, before we have, you know, satisfied kind of herd immunity here in the United States, I don't know. There are better brains to speak on that.

But I do know that we are already beginning to work, coordinate with some countries in Central America and in Ukraine. We're speaking to Ukraine and some of these other countries to see what CORE can do once we have done our kind of mission mandate here.

BROWN: Well, Sean, Penn, thank you for all that you are doing, really, and if you want to learn more about CORE, go to

Thanks again, Sean.

PENN: Thanks very much, Pamela.

BROWN: Well, tomorrow, opening statements begin in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who we saw kneel on the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes. Details on what we can expect, up next.



BROWN: Well, tomorrow morning, fired police officer Derek Chauvin caught on video kneeling on George Floyd's neck for nine minutes while Floyd begged for his life will face a Judge and jury in a televised Minneapolis trial.

Floyd's death in May of last year set off months of nationwide protests and calls for racial justice and police reforms.

Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second degree unintentional murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter charges.

I want to talk about this trial was CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson. Joey, great to see you. Set us up for what we're going to see day one tomorrow. What are your expectations?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Pamela, good to see you. You know, I'm going to be looking for three things from both sides. And what are those three things? Number one, both sides have to address the issue of cause of death. Causation is entirely relevant. It's entirely a major issue with this case, because of, we know there's a report that existed with respect to his death and it listed that there were other contributing factors, preexisting conditions, et cetera.

I expect the defense to seize upon that to give the indication that there were other causes of death not necessarily indicative of Officer Chauvin.

The prosecution will say nonsense and what they will also say is that, it does not have to be the kneeling on the neck the sole cause, it has to be the contributing cause.

So both sides have to deal with that in an artful way. Of course, the prosecution needing causation to establish the elements of the crime.

I then want to see, of course, Pam, how they deal with the issue of the use of force. The prosecution will argue that there were reasonable alternatives that George Floyd did not need to die and that the force was excessive, it was inappropriate and indeed unlawful.

And then, of course, the defense will try to counter using experts to give the indication that Floyd was noncompliant, et cetera. And then finally, Pam, I'm going to be looking for the issue of how they treat George Floyd.

Will his character be at issue? Of course, the defense is going to want to muddy his character, make him unsympathetic, make him noncompliant, but the prosecution will remind that jury that he didn't deserve to die. This is not about Chauvin, who was the victim. This is about George Floyd, who was the victim and who is dead.

So those are the three big things I'm looking at. We'll see how they address those issues, Pamela, in the opening statements that are forthcoming in the morning.

BROWN: We shall see. It is televised. Again, jurors, let's talk about that, what that's going to look like? The jurors who are made up of six men, nine women, nine white, four black and two of mixed race. Many of them in the 20s and 30s. How would you expect the attorneys to approach the makeup of this jury?

JACKSON: So I think the makeup is very significant for the following reason. Obviously, who the jury is important, because you want to be speaking to a receptive audience, right? In the event that you have a jury impaneled and they're not buying what you're selling, it doesn't matter what you say. They have preconceived notions and it's over.

But I think they did a pretty good job, the court system that is. It is sending those jurors questionnaires, getting an indication of what they feel about police issues, Black Lives Matter. Were they involved in protest? Did they hold signs? What did those signs say? What are their views on policing in communities?

And of course, they question both sides, defense and prosecution, those jurors and they were able to get the mixed jury that we see. And so you have to believe that the jurors are there because they can keep an open mind and evaluate the case on the facts as they come out in the courtroom and nothing else.

Of course, it's a diverse jury, and that is a very compelling and important thing as well.

BROWN: Well, that video that everyone -- just about everyone has seen, right, that infamous video of the officer holding his knee on George Floyd's neck while Floyd begged him to release it.

What would the legal strategy for the defense be to get a juror to move past that?

JACKSON: You know, Pam, that's a great question because we all have such a visceral reaction when you see it. We have the reaction of inhumanity, the reaction of how could you? And then you've compound the video not only with the visual, but with the audio as to, "I can't breathe," as to calling for his mother, as to bystanders and others saying, Sir, back up off him. Can you not see he is in distress?"

So I think what the defense is going to do, Pam, is they're going to bring forth expert witnesses. They're going to speak to the issue of noncompliance. Remember that a ruling that the Judge made allows another case in which George Floyd was not compliant with police. The defense will seize on that to say, look, again, he was noncompliant. The officers had to engage in force. They have the right to go home at the end of the day.


JACKSON: Whether that is another issue with regard to reasonableness, we get and understand officers have to be safe. They do a service to the community every day.

But did you have to do that? And I think that's what the prosecution will say to rebut any claims of this being the proper protocol for police to have followed in this case.

BROWN: Okay, Joey Jackson, thank you.

JACKSON: Always. Good to see you.

BROWN: Meantime, tonight, President Biden is weighing in on senseless violence in Myanmar. Government forces gunning down more than 100 protesters yesterday alone. We'll be back to discuss.



BROWN: Well, new tonight, the push to free the container ship stuck in the Suez Canal is intensifying. Powerful tugboats are trying to dislodge the 1,300 foot vessel.

This morning, Egypt's President said the ship would start preparing to quote, "lighten the load," but that would require a powerful crane that Egypt doesn't have.

Meanwhile, the number of ships waiting to pass through the blockage has grown to more than 300, costing the global supply chain hundreds of millions of dollars with each passing hour.

And now to the situation in Myanmar, protesters took to the streets again today, a day after what's been called the bloodiest day in the country since the military coup began.

More than 100 civilians protested the coup were killed Saturday in a show of military force. The U.N. officials have condemned the violence and President Biden says his administration is working on a U.S. response.


QUESTION: Any reaction to what happened to Myanmar?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is terrible. It's absolutely outrageous. And based on the reporting I've gotten, an awful lot of people have been killed, totally unnecessarily.


BROWN: CNN's Will Ripley is following the story from Hong Kong.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pam, it's hard to believe that Myanmar's military coup happened less than two months ago. It will hit that milestone later this week.

But in that short period of time, UNICEF is now saying that a staggering number of young people, 35 children were killed. And Myanmar now which its local news outlet is reporting that 114 people were killed at least on Saturday alone in Myanmar.

It is happening across 44 towns and cities, soldiers opening fire on civilians. Horrifying accounts being shared on social media. All of this, CNN is not able to independently verify.

But when you look at all the pieces, it is brutality. And yet the senior general who is leading this coup, actually had a parade on Saturday, the same day of this violence to honor Myanmar's Armed Forces Day.

He gave a speech promising to protect the people and strive for democracy. As state TV was warning protesters if they go out, they could get shot in the head in the back.

But demonstrators bravely went out anyway, many of them young people who grew up in the years after the 50 years of military dictatorship in Myanmar. Older folks remember the brutality, but this is the first time that a lot of these younger protesters are experiencing it firsthand.

But now, they have social media, camera phones, and they're sharing this information and public outrage across Myanmar is growing and the crowds are growing, too.

The United Nations put out a statement saying, "The shameful, cowardly, brutal actions of the military and police who've been filmed shooting at protesters as they flee and who have not even spared young children must be halted immediately. The international community has a responsibility to protect the people of Myanmar from atrocity crimes." -- Pam

BROWN: All right. Will Ripley, thanks so much.

Meantime, health officials in Michigan say the state has seen a third surge of coronavirus cases mostly among people 10 to 19 years old. So what does that mean for other states? We'll take a look.



BROWN: Well over the past several months, hundreds of schoolchildren in northern Nigeria have been kidnapped. Some have been released, but many remain captive as terrorist groups spread fear and violence.

But in a place where militants have killed tens of thousands and displaced more than two million people, more than half of them children, many have found hope thanks to this week's CNN Hero.

He is determined to safely educate kids and bring peace to a war torn and pandemic ravaged region.


ZANNAH MUSTAPHA, NIGERIA'S PEACE BUILDER: These are children who do not even know what is their second name, what's their tribe, their religion. Children who are not even having this war. They are confused and in the helpless state, you need to give them courage, you have to give them hope.

Morning, morning, morning.

We are in a community where every segment of the society is being ravaged

Good morning.

CHILDREN: Good morning.

MUSTAPHA: What keeps me going is the resilience of these children. Whenever I see their faces, it gives you hope. It keeps my dream alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: To see how he builds peace even amid war in the pandemic and to

nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero, just go to right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): As more Americans get the vaccines, concerns grow that a new surge could be coming.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: When you're coming down from a big peak and you reach a point and start to plateau, once you stay at that plateau. Once you stay at that plateau, you're really in danger of a surge coming up.