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At Least 48 Killed in Taiwan Train Derailment; U.S. State Legislatures Consider Sweeping New Election Laws; Black Lawmaker Speaks Out About Arrest at Georgia Capitol; Report Slams U.S. Capitol Police Failures Ahead of Riot; Ontario Shut Down for at Least a Month Over Variants; Millions of Europeans Bracing for Somber Easter Weekend; North Dakota Governor Declares Statewide Wildfire Emergency. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired April 2, 2021 - 04:30   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

All right, here is the latest on our top story, the deadly train derailment in Taiwan. The number of people killed has gone up to at least 48. Dozens more are being treated in at least six nearby hospitals. The train derailed in a tunnel making the rescue operation more complicated. So we will keep you up to date on the story as we learn more.

Republican lawmakers across the U.S. are pursuing hundreds of potential changes to America's election laws. The measures introduced many new impediments to voting and at least one business leader says they are a response to Donald Trump's repeated lie that the 2020 election was stolen. CNN's Dianne Gallagher has the latest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There being 18 ayes and 13 nays, the bills finally passed.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Texas State Senate sent a sweeping election bill over to the House that could change the way that people in the Lone Star State vote.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so, we want a system where it's easy to vote and hard to cheat. Right?

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Senate Bill seven seems to target voting in the recent Democratic stronghold of Harris County, home to Houston, one of the country's most diverse cities and Democrats say that it will make it harder for people of color to vote.

JUDITH ZAFFIRINI (D) TEXAS TATE SENATE: Every minority member of the Texas Senate, all nine of us believe that this bill will impact minorities negatively by making it more difficult for African- Americans and Mexican-Americans to vote, making it easier for them to be harassed by overzealous poll watchers, and diminishing the likelihood that election outcomes will represent the preferences of We the People.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): A new tally by the left leaning Brennan Center for Justice finds that 361 bills with provisions that would restrict voting have been introduced in 47 states as of March 24th. That's a 43 percent jump in the number of bills since Brennan released its last report a little over a month ago.

And most of the bills target absentee voting, nearly a quarter seek to impose stricter voter ID requirements. A handful of states have already acted, including Georgia, where some are calling for economic consequences in response to the state's new voting law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This boycott is against Coca Cola, Delta Airlines.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Including pulling the MLB All Star game set for July out of Atlanta. The commissioner says the timing would make that difficult, but President Joe Biden says that if the players want to change location, he supports it.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I would strongly support them doing that. The very people who are victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these in these various sports. And it's just not right.


GALLAGHER (voice-over): Georgia's business leaders under public pressure are now speaking out.

JAMES QUINCEY, CHAIRMAN & CEO, COCA COLA: Let me be crystal clear and unequivocal. This legislation is unacceptable.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): The CEO of Delta, the state's largest private employer, blasting the law as based on a lie of 2020 election fraud saying in a memo.

It's evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly black voters to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong.

In response, the Georgia House passed an amendment revoking Delta's jet fuel tax break,

SAM WATSON (R) GEORGIA STATE HOUSE: We're going to start taxing jet fuel after July 1, 2021.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He took away the Delta tax exemption as a retaliation.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): But the effort died when the senate failed to take it up. The state's Republican Governor Brian Kemp says the companies are caving to public pressure, claiming these concerns were not raised during conversations with Delta before the bill was signed.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): I'm not going to be bullied by these people. But I'm also not running a public Corporation. I mean, they'll have to answer to their shareholders. There's a lot of people that work for them, and that have done business with them that are very upset, and I'll let them deal with that.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Meanwhile, in Michigan, Republicans have introduced nearly 40 bills that could make it harder for people to vote, even raising the possibility of trying to sidestep an all but certain veto from the state's Democratic governor.

GOV GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): The fact of the matter is, these are this is a solution in search of a problem. And it is unacceptable. And so if and when those bills get to my desk, and they're aimed at making it harder for people to vote, they will get vetoed.

GALLAGHER: So how exactly could Michigan Republicans get around a potential veto from Governor Whitmer? Well, there's this quirk in Michigan law that allows the legislature to enact a measure without the governor's signature if they can obtain 340,000 signatures.

Now Democrats have already warned that if they try and force through restrictive measures, there will be legal challenges.


BRUNHUBER: That was Dianne Gallagher reporting there.

Now you'll remember a black lawmaker in Georgia was arrested outside the governor's office as he signed the state's new law. Democratic Representative Park Cannon was led away in handcuffs after she knocked on the governor's door during the bill signing. Cannon now faces two felony charges. Well she spoke to CNN's Don Lemon about her traumatic experience.


PARK CANNON, GEORGIA STATE DEMOCRATIC REPRESENTATIVE: I was afraid just like many Americans are when they come into contact with law enforcement that there would be a need for me to protect myself, but instead I was able to just continue to think about the world was watching, people could see, and it was so very terrifying in that moment. I was hopeful that people would see that I was being nonviolent and even as we speak right now the legislative session is over, the pen strokes have been made but the people's voices have not been heard.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The video is up now of you being arrested as you were knocking on the door there, two troopers there, one now and then another one walks in. Have you had a chance to look at that video and if you have what do you think when you see it?

CANNON: Yes, and it makes me wonder why. Why were they arresting me? Why were they doing this? Why did the world have to experience another traumatizing arrest?

LEMON: Attorney Griggs, let me bring you in now. Thank you for waiting patiently here. Let's talk about the charges against the representative here. Two felonies. How can knocking on a door in a place that you work result in a potential eight years in prison? It's just unfathomable to think about.

GERALD GRIGGS, ATTORNEY FOR CANNON: Yes, definitely unconscionable. And I mean, to merely be asking for transparency and to be present in the moment when this bill was being signed so that you can witness it on behalf of 4.5 million Georgians that will be affected and so that you can report back. As representative Cannon said, for the last five years she's always been present to witness the bills and that's all she wanted to do that day. And I think it's horrendous that an individual would be subjected to the potential of being incarcerated for over eight years for something that she's routinely done for many years and just demanded transparency in this moment.


BRUNHUBER: In a scathing new report the government watchdog for the U.S. Capitol police is laying out the agency's failures leading up to the January 6th insurrection. Five people were killed and nearly 140 law enforcement officers were injured during and as a result of the riot. CNN's Brian Todd has details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A U.S. Capitol police force overwhelmed, and its own inspector general now says woefully unprepared for the January 6 violence.


A source familiar with a new preliminary report from the department's inspector general tells CNN the report says the Capitol Police had intelligence as early as December 30th suggesting the protestors may have been inclined to become violent. But that the department did not prepare a comprehensive department wide plan for demonstrations planned for January 6.

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER WASHINGTON DC POLICE CHIEF: You would like to think that with adequate planning and preparation, you could have done a much better job to keep them from at least getting inside the Capitol.

TODD (voice-over): The inspector general also criticized the Capitol police for not passing around information from outside agencies. Like a memo from the FBI's Norfolk field office that was disseminated the day before the riot, warning of a war at the Capitol.

The new report says a Capitol police intelligence officer sent that FBI memo around internally. But the current and former Capitol police chiefs have said it never got to their level. And they were never warned about the potential scale of the attack. ACTING CHIEF YOGANANDA PITTMAN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: No credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol. Nor did the intelligence received from the FBI or any other law enforcement partner indicate such a threat.

RAMSEY: They've got to look internally at their intelligence capabilities, communications, of their preparation, certainly there's already been talk about a rapid deployment force and so forth.

TODD (voice-over): Meantime, the attorney for two U.S. Capitol police officers, who are suing former President Donald Trump, have spoken to CNN.

Officer Sidney Hemby says he was crushed against doors, sprayed with chemicals. Officer James Blassingame says he was slammed against the stone column. The officers say they suffered injuries because Trump allegedly inflamed, encouraged, incited, and directed the mob.

PATRICK MALONE, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING INJURED CAPITOL POLICE OFFICERS: They were attacked over and over and over by people who told them hey, we came from the president, and you should join us.

TODD (voice-over): The former president has denied inciting the riot. This comes as prosecutors have charged rioter Daniel Rodriguez with eight counts, including assaulting an officer for the attack on D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone.


TODD (voice-over): In court documents, prosecutors say Rodriguez tased Officer Fanone, beat him with a flagpole. Fanone was dragged down the steps of the Capitol and says rioters screamed to kill him with his own gun. Fanone did tell CNN some rioters surrounding him tried to help him, but --

FANONE: I think the conclusion I've come to is thank you, but (BEEP) you for being you.

TODD: Officer Fanone suffered a heart attack from the tasing, in addition to a concussion, traumatic brain injury, and posttraumatic stress disorder. The man who allegedly tased him, Daniel Rodriguez, has not yet entered a plea.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: More Canadians are ending up in intensive care because of COVID-19 and they're getting younger as well. We will show you what's behind this alarming case surge.

And lockdowns, curfews and closures, Europe is preparing for another major holiday under heavy restrictions. Ahead what can and can't be done this easter weekend. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: The Canadian province of Ontario says variants are spreading at alarming rates and it could be weeks before new cases and hospitalizations ease up. So officials are taking emergency action and shutting down for at least a month. CNN's Paula Newton has details.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The province of Ontario in Canada is now announcing an emergency breaker shut down for at least the month of April. At issue are menacing variants that continue to spread throughout the province.

And really the concern is the amount of hospitalizations and ICU admissions among younger people. The province already saying that ICU capacity is at a historic high already. At this point they say they cannot afford for cases to continue to increase.

And Canada's top doctor has also indicated that most of Canada is now what they're calling a third resurgence. Now while about 15 percent of Canadians have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The vaccine rollout is still far too slow in Canada at this point in time to try and mitigate any of the hospitalizations or ICU admissions that would happen in this so called third wave.

Paula Newton, CNN, Atlanta.


BRUNHUBER: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some good news for fully vaccinated Americans. They can celebrate Easter indoors with no masks, but for those who haven't been fully vaccinated the CDC says they should stay home or celebrate outdoors while socially distancing.

Michael Holmes looks at the restrictions in Europe where cases are surging again.



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR (voice-over): Inside the famed Notre Dame cathedral, a Holy Week mass is nearly empty, as Catholic leaders across Paris prepare for another Easter in a pandemic. This weekend, France enters a third lockdown, restricting movement, limiting domestic travel, and continuing curfews.

In the Vatican, a similar pandemic holiday is ahead.


HOLMES (voice-over): Easter crowds won't throng St. Peter's Square this year. Instead, Pope Francis will hold a sparse mass in the basilica as the Vatican follows Italy's nationwide lockdown.

They are among millions of Europeans bracing for a somber Easter weekend as governments try to control rising infections or vaccinations sputter across the E.U.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel walked back plans to extend a national lockdown through Easter, but she issued a public appeal.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): It should be a quiet Easter with those closest to you, with very reduced contact. I urge you to refrain from all nonessential travel and that we uphold all the rules.

HOLMES (voice-over): Though a hard lockdown was averted, national curbs on social contact and gatherings remain, as the country battles a third wave of new cases.

Amid restrictions at home, tens of thousands of Germans planned Easter getaways in the sun, flocking to the Spanish island of Mallorca. But Spaniards themselves can't do the same. While much of the country remains open, travel between regions is largely banned.

Social events are also limited during Holy Week. On Sunday, worshippers can attend church. But most large Easter celebrations are canceled. So, too, in the U.K. Residents there will spend Easter under a second phase of lockdown. But easing restrictions are offering renewed optimism.


Performing a streaming Good Friday service, Britain's Royal Opera Chorus hopes to greet audiences in May.

WILLIAM SPAULDING, CHORUS DIRECTOR, ROYAL OPERA CHORUS: It's only, you know, about the springtime and celebrating the coming out of lockdown. And luckily, we got a little bit of sun. And it's about greeting, you know, Easter time and greeting the -- the world, you know, after lockdown.

HOLMES (voice-over): Glimmers of hope for a new future as another pandemic holiday comes to pass across Europe.

Michael Holmes, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: A tourist town in North Dakota has started to evacuate as the entire state faces a wildfire emergency. We will have a live report from our meteorologist next. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: North Dakota's governor has declared a wildfire emergency for the entire state. The measure allows the state's National Guard to be deployed two Blackhawk helicopters to fight the flames. The fire has forced the evacuation of the entire town of Medora in the western part of the state.

Let's bring in meteorologist Derek Van Dam.


Derek, what can you tell us? Looks very serious, obviously.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Kim, conditions on the ground are like a tinderbox just like much of the Western U.S., the Great Basin in particular. But now this drought weather has also spread to much of the northern and central plains.

Look at the conditions that they have to deal with, forcing the evacuations across this small town in the southwestern North Dakota. This is yesterday's fire outlook. And you can see that it was actually critical when the fire broke out across North Dakota.

Today we have elevated fire conditions which means that the combination of stronger wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour, the low humidity and the extremely dry vegetation means that all the ingredients are necessary for the fire weather conditions to continue.

Look at the red flag warnings that are extending from the Dakotas all the way to the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle, anywhere you see that shading of pink. High pressure still firmly in control of the weather, that suppresses cloud cover, allows for sunshine to come out in maximum force. And also, you couple that with the above average temperatures even across the Dakotas right now several record high temperatures possibly being broken through the course of the day today.

So unfortunately looking ahead our forecast radar imagery is not showing much in the way of moisture, no rain in this forecast, in fact, we will stay high and dry for the next seven days across southwestern North Dakota and much of the West for that matter, but here is a look at the seven-day forecast for Medora, North Dakota. You can see dry as a bone right through the weekend, cooling off only somewhat by Monday and Tuesday of next week -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much, Derek Van Dam. Appreciate it.

And that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. "EARLY START" is up next.