Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Adds 916,000 Jobs in March; Trial Resumes for Ex-Cop Charged in George Floyd's Death; Experts Urge Americans to Take Precautions Until Fully Vaccinated; More Federal Investigations into Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired April 2, 2021 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:15]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very good Friday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto. Poppy Harlow has the week off.

A week of just riveting testimony and next hour, more witnesses in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Just stunning statements yesterday coming directly from Chauvin's supervisor admitting that his officer should have stopped restraining George Floyd sooner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: Do you have an opinion as to when the restraint of Mr. Floyd should have ended in this encounter?

SGT. DAVID PLOEGER (RETIRED), MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes.

SCHLEICHER: What is it?

PLOEGER: When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers. They could have ended their restraint.

SCHLEICHER: And that was after he was handcuffed and on the ground and no longer resisting?

PLOEGER: Correct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: That contradicts the defense which says that he was following police training. We're going to have much more on that in a moment. Plus this.

Booming economic numbers this morning. Just booming. The U.S. economy added 916,000 jobs in March. Nearly a million. The unemployment rate sinking to 6 percent. We expect to hear from President Biden on that jobs report at 11:00 this morning.

CNN's Christine Romans joins me now to break down the latest jobs report. Christine, I mean, this is above expectations.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

SCIUTTO: And it shows accelerating job growth, does it not?

ROMANS: It feels like the beginning of the great American comeback, right? I mean, 916,000 in one month. In any normal time would be just gangbusters, but remember, these are lost jobs we are adding back. When you look at sort of the trajectory here, you can see there's still more work to be done. We're still in a jobs hole. That jobs hole is about 8.4 million jobs. So we still have aways to go. Not everyone is on this rising tide here just yet.

The jobless rate is 6 percent. You're right, it's the lowest we've seen of the pandemic, but still well above where we were when all of this started. And when I look at the sectors, Jim, you can see exactly what's happening here. Vaccines, warmer weather, re-openings and schools. We saw jobs added in education. We saw jobs added in leisure and hospitality. In manufacturing. In construction.

Jim, that is that red hot housing market that we're seeing in those construction numbers. The government calling these widespread job gains, but again, really important to point out that these are jobs being added back in the economy. Still down about 8.4 million jobs. And we still have this worrisome trend of some people who have left the labor market and might not be coming back any time soon. We've seen that with women in particular.

In these numbers, more than 11, almost 11.5 million people say they can't go back to work because the business they worked for either closed or just doesn't have enough hours for them yet.

SCIUTTO: Yes, interesting to see that number. Nearly 300,000 in hospitality, restaurants, as these restaurants open up again.

Listen, some good news in there. Christine romans, thanks very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SCIUTTO: In the next hour, there will be more testimony in Minneapolis, emotional moments playing out in court all week. Notable yesterday, truly moving, Floyd's girlfriend walking jurors through his life. Their relationship. And his final days. And new details about the moment that paramedics arrived on the scene.

CNN's Josh Campbell is in Minneapolis following the latest events.

Josh, those paramedics, they testified that Floyd was, you know, I hate to say it, but this is their view, that he was essentially dead by the time they got there.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And that was a question about whether medical aid could have been rendered sooner by the officers as he lay on the ground on the pavement. And, you know, we heard yesterday one of the key witnesses was this former senior police officer who said that the use of force against George Floyd should have ended sooner, when he was under control. That was one of a number of witnesses yesterday.

As you mentioned, we also heard from two of the paramedics. One of them said that when he arrived on the scene, he tried to take Floyd's pulse and he was still in handcuffs. He was still on the ground. He actually had to look to Derek Chauvin who still had his knee on George Floyd and tell him to get out of the way. Here's that exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were you attempting to do at that point in time?

SETH BRAVINDER, HENNEPIN COUNTY EMS PARAMEDIC: Just have the officer move.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And why did you need the officer to move?

BRAVINDER: So we could move the patient. He was, I guess, limp would be the best word.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

CAMPBELL: And now they talked about also these paramedics about, despite their best efforts to try to resuscitate George Floyd, they were obviously ultimately unsuccessful.

We also heard some emotional testimony yesterday from the girlfriend of George Floyd who really did two things.

[09:05:04]

She talked about George Floyd as a person. Really humanizing him. Talking about the things that he loved. Talking about him loving his kids and loving sports. We talked so much about George Floyd as a victim, but we got to hear about him as a person.

Now she also talked about their -- both of their, the couple's past history with drug addiction. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COURTENEY BATYA ROSS, GIRLFRIEND OF GEORGE FLOYD: We both suffered from chronic pain. Addiction, in my opinion, is a life-long struggle. So it's something that we dealt with every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going forward to May of 2020, was there a time when you thought he might be using again?

ROSS: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMPBELL: Now people may be asking, well, why would prosecutors bring up George Floyd's past drug use? It was essentially an effort to preempt what the defense has been trying to accomplish. And that is to focus on the idea that maybe Floyd had died because he was under the influence of some kind of substance last May, rather than because of the actions of that officer.

And so the prosecutors asked the girlfriend about the past drug use. During that exchange what they essentially elicited was the fact that yes, George Floyd may have used drugs in the past but he obviously had never died from it and it was that action on May 25th where he found himself on the ground, his neck under the knee of a police officer, that ultimately resulted in his death.

Of course, it will be up to the jury as they hear -- continue to hear evidence to ultimately render a verdict in this case that is certainly being watched around the world -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. So many developments, too, every day.

Josh Campbell, we know you'll be watching when it starts up in a little bit.

With me now, Laura Coates, CNN senior legal analyst, and former federal prosecutor, Charles Ramsey, former Philadelphia police commissioner, former Washington, D.C. police chief.

Good to have you both on again. A lot of questions here. I want to get the significance of what we learned yesterday. Let's start with one, Laura Coates. And that is Chauvin's supervisor, the sergeant, saying explicitly that Chauvin should have stopped using that force, the knee on the neck, when Floyd stopped struggling. This undermines, contradicts what has been the defense argument here that he was simply following his training.

How significant is that to hear it directly from that police sergeant's mouth?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It is so significant. You're not talking about a bystander and what they believe police protocol should be. You're not talking about an off-duty firefighter who believes she understands what police protocol should be or even a 911 dispatcher who is looking at the scene and wondering, is something off here?

You're hearing it from the supervisor, somebody who has obviously more training, more expertise, more experience, and is in a position of power over somebody like Derek Chauvin, to say that, look, officers have the ability to use force.

They are absolutely able to use force. But you must stop the use of force when you no longer are needing to restrain somebody or you no longer need to use a level of force. So it created a very clear demarcation, Jim, from the time that use of force was appropriate to a time that converts to an assault. And remember that's the crux of the at least one of the claims, second-degree murder charge. It is based on having somebody die, unintentionally, while committing an underlying felony. The felony itself, the prosecution is looking at, is the assaultive

behavior of kneeling on the neck. So if the training stops, if the reasonable use of force stops, and then it becomes unreasonable and assaultive then you've got the makings of the second-degree murder elements.

SCIUTTO: Understood. OK, Charles Ramsey, other big moment was what we heard from those EMTs essentially saying that by the time they got there, there was no hope, right? That he was unresponsive. It was effectively too late for their intervention. Significance of that, right, is that that seems to indicate that the police officers should have not only stopped applying force earlier, but started to try to save George Floyd's life, right?

You know, from a police officer's perspective, explain what the training is there. What the officers should have done.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, if you know a person is in distress and stopped breathing, it could be something like a heart attack for an example. Doesn't have to be the Floyd incident. Officers are trained in CPR to be able to try to resuscitate an individual until EMS can arrive at the scene. What you have in the George Floyd situation is a person that had been laying motionless for minutes.

Even one of the officers said, you know, should we roll him on his side? He could feel that something wasn't right himself. I mean, that's the time to take some action. That action depending on what it was that you discovered, as you rolled him over, which, obviously, in this case, he wasn't breathing, let's say, or certainly in distress. That would be a reason and an opportunity there.

In fact, by training, it's what you should be doing is performing some kind of CPR because you are in an emergency situation now.

[09:10:04]

You already have EMS rolling to the scene. Even get on the radio and say, hey, step it up. You know? We've got a problem here. And none of that happened. I mean, so, yes, that's truly an issue.

SCIUTTO: Laura Coates, so you have acts of commission, right? The application of force. And then acts of omission, the lack of help rendered, right, to someone in distress. And I wonder from a legal perspective, with these charges that Chauvin -- potential charges that he is facing here, does that act of omission, right, not intervening when Floyd was showing distress, does that add to the case, right, for conviction on any of those charges?

COATES: Normally people think about duty of care and acts of omission. We were talking about the civil side of liability. But it does have a direct consequence in a criminal prosecution because, again, it shows the transformation from when a duty of care was owed to the denial of a duty of care converting to assaultive behavior.

Remember back with Jerry Blackwell, who is the lead opening statement prosecutor who said a duty of care owed in your custody is owed a duty of care. Well, contrast that to what compelled the paramedics, the EMTs to act. They immediately came on the scene, recognized that somebody was under physical duress and immediately began to act. They did not say that the verbal crowd precluded them from being able to perform that duty of care.

They just did it in a way that could be nimble to not have the crowd intervene in some way. And so here you have this contrast between everybody else on the scene recognizing a duty of care is owed to somebody in police custody, and the one holdout is Derek Chauvin. Why did he choose not to perform the duty of care and in fact, to deny the opportunity to not only other officers but bystanders and even ultimately having to be actually asked by the paramedics trying to perform a duty of care to get off him just so they can take a pulse.

This is a huge contrast. It's going to inured the benefit of the prosecution.

SCIUTTO: OK, Charles Ramsey, other key moment, right, was the talk and acknowledgment of George Floyd's history of drug use here. And you have the prosecution getting ahead of this. I mean, they're drawing it out from his partner here. They're not trying to hide it. The defense intention appears to be, OK, this could have been a factor, right? Did he know what kind of drugs were in his body? You know, was he -- he bought it from someone and didn't know what he was getting? You know, this sort of thing.

And I wonder, listening to that testimony, was that convincing to you at all? Did it -- would it raise questions? Because, listen, all they have to establish is a reasonable doubt as to what caused Floyd's death.

RAMSEY: Well, it wasn't convincing to me. First of all, we know all this now. When the officers responded to the scene, they didn't know what he was on, if anything. They may have observed him and said, you know, I think this guy might be on something but you'd have no way of really knowing that. And so, you know, what's his actions? What's his behavior? He allowed himself to be handcuffed almost immediately after getting out of the car. They were able to calmly walk him across the street to get to the other patrol car.

The other only time you saw any resistance at all was when they were trying to put him in the car. And that's because he was saying, hey, I'm claustrophobic. I'm too big. I can't get in the car. And they used force get him in the car, even though they wound up pulling him out again. So, I mean, when you look at all that combined, then, I mean, it's hard to make an argument that a person's erratic behavior is due to being under the influence of drugs. I have seen people act erratically under the influence of drugs. That was not an example of one.

SCIUTTO: Understood. All right. Well, listen, Laura, Charles, always good to draw on your experience. Thanks very much. We're going to have a lot more to discuss coming forward.

Other story we're following, experts are warning that a pandemic-weary nation is trying to let their guard down far too early. Particularly this easter weekend. The CDC issuing new guidance on how to safely gather. We'll bring that to you just ahead.

Plus, new details emerging about Congressman Matt Gaetz as the Justice Department investigates him over sex trafficking allegations. Sources tell CNN he would show nude photos of women he had slept with to other lawmakers.

And New York City on edge over alleged hate crimes committed on its streets. What the police department is doing about it. The commissioner of the NYPD joins me just ahead.

[09:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Well, it's Good Friday. Easter weekend is here. But health officials are pleading with Americans to wait until they are fully vaccinated before getting together for the holidays. According to the CDC, you can celebrate indoors even without masks but if you have been fully vaccinated.

Joining me now is the Dr. Ebony Hilton, she's an associate professor of anesthesiology at the University of Virginia, as well as the co- founder and medical director of Good Stock Consulting.

Good to have you on, Dr. Hilton. So this news here if you're fully vaccinated you can be indoors. You don't even have to wear a mask. For most of the country that is not yet fully vaccinated, what is safe, what is unsafe this easter weekend?

DR. EBONY HILTON, CO-FOUNDER AND MEDICAL DIRECTOR, GOOD STOCK CONSULTING: Thank you for having me. You know, as far as being fully vaccinated, right now in America, that's only 16 percent of us, right? So we have to keep that number in mind. When we're choosing what we're going to do and going out and enjoying family, what we have to realize is that we have a rise in our cases over the last several days.

[09:20:09]

We've had a 10 percent increase in our overall death over the last eight to nine days. That we're seeing more and more of these mutant and these variant strains that are literally across our nation. This isn't the time to relax those guards. And particularly if you're going into closed facilities like going to church, we just have to be hypervigilant.

SCIUTTO: Yes. They're close and people are singing, they're talking. I mean, that's a good way to spread this thing. We know that from the data. Other headline this morning, the surgeon general saying, make it a point we've heard before but highlighting it that vaccination is key to prevent further mutations, right? Because the more the virus is going around out there the more chances it has to change, possibly to a point where the vaccine is less effective.

But I suppose the good news in what he's saying is that to this point the variants we know about, U.K. variant, South African variant, these vaccines protect against them.

HILTON: Right. And the vaccines had a fantastic week this week. You know, we had the Pfizer result that showed 91 percent effectiveness at, you know, at six-month mark. We saw that our children 12 to 15, they are, you know, 100 percent, you know, protected with this vaccine.

We've had tremendous results. But again, what we're seeing, though, and what I'm hearing when I'm talking to patients is that vaccine hesitancy is still there. And I have to force this idea that there's a particular group, and particularly white Republicans, that we're seeing a true vaccine hesitancy.

And if we don't reach herd immunity, right now only 30 percent of our population has received one dose. At least one dose of the vaccination. If we don't get from 30 percent, to 70 percent to 80 percent, we are not going to reach herd immunity. And particularly for white America, what we're seeing is that white Americans are dying at higher rates. In fact, between February to March, 58,000 white Americans died. As a comparison, black Americans, that was 10,000. Hispanic Americans, 16,000.

So we've seen a large jump for white America from December where we had 27,000 deaths for white Americans to 42,000 to 47,000, to now 58,000 white Americans dying. So we really have to get that group of persons to understand that behavioral choices are probably more dangerous than COVID for them at this point.

SCIUTTO: And is that the cause of that? That among white Americans you have folks that are just ignoring the advice at this point? Is that what's behind that data?

HILTON: I mean, looking at the trend, it would suggest that. In September, we had 11,000 white Americans die. That went from September 11,000 to October 15,000 to the beginning of November, about 15,000, and then after Thanksgiving, we went to 27,000. After Christmas, we went to 42,000. After New Year's, we went to 47,000. And now we're at 58,000 as people feel safe to be able to go out and about.

You're not safe to go out and about if you're not fully vaccinated. You're not safe to not wear a mask and go on spring break, and what we know what happened is that we're seeing now, instead of the older population, we are protecting those seniors. Now we're seeing the deaths of younger and younger people. And we're leaving behind orphans in the wake. We have to be conscious of the consequences of our actions.

SCIUTTO: You're not bulletproof no matter how young you are.

Dr. Ebony Hilton, thank you.

HILTON: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, there are new details in the growing scandal involving Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, including allegations he showed off nude images of women he says he slept with from his phone to other lawmakers on the House floor. We'll have more details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:28:28]

SCIUTTO: This morning, there are just stunning new developments in the Justice Department's ongoing probe into Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. Sources tell CNN that federal investigators who are looking into Gaetz's relationships with young women have examined whether any federal campaign money was involved in paying for travel and other things for the women.

Joining me now is CNN's Paula Reid and CNN's Lauren FOX on Capitol Hill.

Paula, I want to begin with you, and I was just going down a rough list of all the things being investigated in relation to Gaetz. But it's sex or relationship with underage women, trafficking, prostitution, drugs, fake IDs, possible use of campaign money. I mean, none of this is proven but at least investigated. What's the latest we're learning?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. I think you got the full list there. Well, speaking to our sources, CNN is learning more about the scope of this criminal investigation into the lawmaker. We've learned that investigators are looking at whether Gaetz's relationship with young women may have violated federal sex trafficking or prostitution laws.

Now one of the women they are looking at was just 17 years old, allegedly, when their involvement began. Not a woman, a girl, and they are also looking at whether Gaetz may have used federal campaign money to pay for travel or any other expenses for these women. Now interestingly, this investigation began in the final months of the Trump administration. Attorney General William Barr, he was aware of it. He did not object.

But it was actually part of a larger investigation into another Florida politician, Joel Greenberg. And last night "The New York Times" reported that Greenberg was actually advertising online for women for sex.