Return to Transcripts main page


Voting Law Fallout; Interview With Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D), Atlanta; Capitol Police Officer William Evans Killed In Attack; First Week Of Derek Chauvin's Murder Trial Comes To A Close; Matt Gaetz Praises Indicted Florida Politician In 2017 Audio. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 3, 2021 - 11:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp hits back at Major League Baseball for taking a swing at Georgia's new voting law.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): It's really a sad day for Major League Baseball, as somebody that grew up playing baseball as a kid and a fan, played in high school, you know, big Braves fan.

I mean this is terrible for the organization. It's terrible for the fans. It's terrible for the small business owners in the metro Atlanta community and our state that was looking forward to hosting this game and had put a lot of resources into it. All because of a big lie. I mean this bill does not suppress anything.


WHITFIELD: The move is also sending reverberations across the sports world and the political spectrum. Moments ago, former president Barack Obama tweeting "congratulations to MLB for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens. There's no better way for America's pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron who always led by example."

A stark contrast from former president Donald Trump, who is slamming the move. He sent out a statement saying "Boycott baseball and all of the woke companies that are interfering with free and fair elections."

Let's go now to Natasha Chen at the Georgia state capitol where Governor Kemp plans to hold a press conference in the next hour. Natasha, what are we expecting to hear from the governor?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the governor has already made his opinions abundantly clear, flooding the air waves since yesterday when this decision was announced. He's been on Fox News a number of times, including this morning. That sound bite you played showed that he was very disappointed, of course, in saying that Major League Baseball has really bent to the cancel culture to the left. He said that Biden and Stacey Abrams had been spreading what he considers lies about this law, which critics, of course, have said that restricts voter access.

We also heard from Gabriel Sterling, from the secretary of state's office today on CNN talking about his reaction to this decision.


GABRIEL STERLING, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE: I was so -- violently pissed off yesterday with MLB -- it's ridiculous. New York, where they are, has excuse-based absentee and fewer days of early voting, whereas we have expansive early voting and even more mandated days in this bill and no excuse absentee voting is protected.


CHEN: And of course, with this law, however, absentee ballot applications are not allowed to be automatically mailed out to all voters now. and there is a shorter amount of time for someone to request an absentee ballot in the state of Georgia.

Keep in mind, Sterling works for the secretary of state who, with this law, the powers of that office are somewhat stripped as well. The secretary of state is no longer a voting member of the state election board and that board now consists of a chairperson-elected by the state legislature.

So that board would presumably be more controlled by the elected members of the Georgia state legislature, that chairperson potentially becoming a more partisan role in this whole system.

So Fred, there are a lot of critics here talking about what should be done in reaction to this law. Of course, a lot of local officials, while they understand Major League Baseball's decision and position, are still highly disappointed that that's what they decided to do, because this does ultimately hurt a lot of the small businesses in the metro Atlanta area who were hoping to benefit from having this game here, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Natasha Chen, again the governor speaking this morning and expected to speak again in the next hour. We'll come back to you then. Thanks so much.

All right. Major League Baseball's decision to move the All-Star Game is getting support from some of the biggest sports and political luminaries. Lebron James and Magic Johnson both tweeting out support for the move, as did Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms who says "Elections have consequences so do the actions of those who are elected".

With me now to talk more about this is Mayor Bottoms. So Miss Mayor, so good to see you. This decision to pull this game from Georgia will likely mean losing millions of dollars for the Atlanta area. What do you think it's a fair trade-off?

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Well, I can't say that I like it, but I certainly understand it. And it is really probably the first of many boycotts of our state to come.

And the consequences of this bill are significant. The metro Atlanta area is home to nearly 30 Fortune 500 companies. We have a very large tourism industry in our state. And just as the legislatures and the governor made the decision -- the legislators and the governor made the decision to go forward with this bill, people are making decisions not to come to our state. And it is going to impact millions of Georgians, employment, small businesses, corporations, and it's very unfortunate.


WHITFIELD: So Governor Kemp and Georgia Republicans show no signs that they will be changing this law and at this point it looks like the law stands. Does this mean outcry from citizens to sports leagues won't help repeal this law?

BOTTOMS: They absolutely have an opportunity to change this law. So they have just ended the normal legislative session. They can go back into special session and make tweaks. They also have an opportunity to revisit this in January.

And it's unfortunate, because there have been so many issues with our elections across the state. This was an opportunity to fix those things that have gone wrong. This was an opportunity to be a model for the rest of the country on how you can continue to expand absentee voting, how you can expand access to the ballot box.

But instead, we've dialed it back simply because one party lost. It's a horrible example for the rest of the country and people are going to show us exactly how they feel by keeping their dollars out of this state.

And the irony of that is that, you know, Georgia opened up early in the name of economic recovery, so you've put us at risk in the middle of a pandemic to open up the state for economic recovery. And now you wipe that all away with this absolutely insane voting law that was signed into law by the governor.

WHITFIELD: And as it pertains to shaping the law, did you know that Georgia-based corporations like Delta were part of that process before it was passed and signed?

BOTTOMS: So, many people have lobbyists at the state capitol. The city of Atlanta has a legislative team that visits the Capitol daily. It's like watching sausage get made.

There were several versions of this bill that were going through the legislative process. You didn't know which one was going to come out, what specifically would be in the final bill. What was different about the signing of this law is that as soon as it was passed by the senate, and it went through a very short process, it was immediately signed by the governor. So it didn't give a lot of people an opportunity to weigh in once the final version of the bill was passed.

But what I would say, just in terms of our corporations speaking out, better late than never. And now that you have Major League Baseball that's pulled the All-Star Game here, it is hurting our economy. And it's my hope that, finally, leaders across the state will listen.

WHITFIELD: So Delta did reverse course on this bill, at first releasing a statement that it supported the law. Then the CEO changed his tune in this CBS interview. Let's take a listen.


ED BASTIAN, CEO, DELTA AIR LINES: As the process unfolded, it was moving quickly, there were a lot of changes. Our team was in there absolutely, expressing our points of view, making significant improvements to what had been proposed.

But when we got a chance to finally see it all put together and had a chance to digest it, as well as listen and hear from the voices of our people about it, we realized that this was restricting their access, our people's access, particularly in the black community.


WHITFIELD: And that underscores what you just said about the process. So now do you think the other Fortune 500 companies in Georgia will apply some pressure financially to try to get some changes made in this law?

BOTTOMS: I certainly expect that. And when you think about Delta Air Lines specifically, one of our larger employers in the state, and a number of other companies across this state that do a lot to support our communities and also our economy, they employ people not just corporate officers, but there are administrative assistants and thousands and millions of people in this state who make a living from our corporations. So I certainly expect that with it hitting their bottom line, that there will be pressure applied to the state legislature.

We don't have to look much further than North Carolina to see what happened there when people decided to boycott the state based on a bill that was passed. What makes this different than previous administrations in terms of our governor, we've had restrictive laws passed through the state legislature in the past and Governor Diehl would veto those restrictive laws.

Governor Kemp has chosen not to do so, and in fact he's doubled down. But there's an opportunity to reverse this and I do hope that Republicans across the state will take the chance to do that.


WHITFIELD: All right. Always good to see you, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Thank you so much. Be well.

BOTTOMS: Thank you. WHITFIELD: All right.

And now to latest on Friday's deadly assault at the U.S. Capitol. Investigators are trying to figure out more about the suspect who rammed into a police barricade outside the Capitol building, hitting two officers. The suspect was shot and killed by police after getting out of his car, brandishing a knife.

One officer survived the attack, but the other, William Evans, an 18- year veteran of the Capitol Police, died from his injuries. He is being remembered as a hero and a devoted family man. Flags at the Capitol and at the White House are flying at half-staff in his honor.

Let's go now to Capitol Hill. CNN's Joe Johns is there for us. So Joe, where does the investigation stand this morning?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, I just want to pick up on what you said a minute ago. There's really compound tragedies here on Capitol Hill because people here are still getting over the fact that Officer Brian Sicknick was killed in that riot on January 6th.

And now we have the death of Officer William Evans, 18-year member of the force, from western Massachusetts, by the way. He has a couple kids. He was a member of the first responders team. And he was killed in that incident around 1:00 Eastern time yesterday on the east front of the Capitol near the Senate, where an individual in a car crashes into the barricade, emerges from the vehicle carrying a knife. He was shot and killed by the officers but Officer Evans, of course, died.

The investigation continues. They're trying to find out the motivation for crashing into the barricade and we haven't heard anything new from them today.

By the way, the U.S. Capitol Police did tweet out today thanks to all of the people who have essentially been offering their support over the last just less than 24 hours now, saying they're deeply grateful. "Know that your sympathy is appreciated beyond words."

There were remembrances as well from friends and acquaintances of Officer Evans in interviews overnight. Listen.


JASON LAFOREST, FRIEND OF OFFICER WILLIAM EVANS: It is, you know, incredibly sad and just surreal, you know, to know that Billy died, you know, serving our country, doing something that he loved so much.

Above all, he just -- he loved life, he loved being a dad and he loved being a part of the U.S. Capitol Police.

MATT DERRY, FRIEND OF OFFICER WILLIAM EVANS: It was real surreal to think that I had literally just talked to him and we shared a laugh a couple of days ago. and now he's gone. It has just been shock ever since. It's been, you know, fighting back tears all afternoon and then trying to -- trying to make sense of it all and knowing that there's none to be had.


JOHNS: Speaker Nancy Pelosi also put out a tweet and a "Dear Colleague" letter. In that, she indicated that in her view Officer Evans is a martyr for democracy. Of course, there are big concerns about security here at the Capitol after the fatal incidents involving two Capitol Hill police officers since January 6th and real questions about whether they will tighten security and how that will affect the openness of this complex.

Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: Terrible tragedy. Joe Johns, thank you so much.

All right. Coming up, the top lieutenant for the Minneapolis Police Department delivers damaging testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial. A look back at the emotional moments, including how the defense is trying to sway the jury.

Plus, air travelers shattering records during this busy holiday weekend, despite a surge in coronavirus infections. But should Americans really be flying right now? The new CDC recommendations straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: Pain, regret, heartbreak and trauma dominating the first week of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial. The case gripping the nation, ten months after this video of Chauvin pinning George Floyd to the ground, kneeling on his neck sparked widespread outrage.

The week of emotional testimony ending Friday with potentially devastating testimony from the Minneapolis police department's top homicide detective.


MATTHEW FRANK, PROSECUTOR: What is your, you know, your view of that use of force during that time period?

LT. RICHARD ZIMMERMAN, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Totally unnecessary. Pulling him down to the ground face down and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of -- that amount of time is just uncalled for.


WHITFIELD: Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge. Joining me right now to discuss is Areva Martin, a CNN legal analyst and a civil rights attorney and Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and host of "The Talking Fed" podcast. Good to see both of you.

So Areva, you first, does Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman's testimony make this a slam dunk case?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm not saying it makes it a slam dunk case, Fredricka, because cases are rollercoasters. What happens in trials, prosecutors have a good day or a good week, as we say in this case. And then we have to see what the defense has when it gets a chance to put its case on.

But that testimony from Zimmerman, the most senior officer at the Minneapolis Police Department was devastating.

It blew a hole in two key points of the defense's argument. One their argument that Chauvin did what he was trained to do. Zimmerman told us that didn't happen, that he was not trained to put his knee on Floyd's neck.

Secondly, we've heard this argument from the defense that this crowd was unruly, that they were distracting the officers. We also heard from Zimmerman that unless a crowd is attacking you, the crowd should have no factor in the restraint that was used.


MARTIN: And we heard devastating words. The actions by Chauvin were totally unnecessary. So really devastating testimony by Zimmerman.

WHITFIELD: And Harry, hopefully you can hear me ok. I think we were --


WHITFIELD: Ok. Good. It sounded like we were going to have some audio problems.

All right. So Chauvin's defense attorney has already told the jury that Chauvin did exactly what he was trained to do. So in your view, was this testimony of the lieutenant damaging? Or does it simply underscore that there's a real conflict in the way in which some Minneapolis police officers are trained or what allowances there might be?

LITMAN: No. No conflict. He leads with the idea that he's doing it according to training and I think this blows it out of the water. He's not going to have any witnesses to say that you're allowed to take an immobilized man who is presenting no threat at all and impose deadly force on him. That's a principle across the country. I actually think his number one defense has been kicked away.

Now, it's true as Areva says that trials are rollercoasters, you don't know what's going to happen. But this was a blood bath of a week for Chauvin. They really -- not simply knocked out his defense, but that whole first four days basically took -- presented a tableau of a community going through an everyday life and this invading force of policemen coming in and making a sort of dust-up over a $20 counterfeit bill into literally a life or death situation.

I think the general vision of somebody coming in and making the problem is now going to be indelible for the jury. There will be a slog of medical testimony next week, but in my experience, juries tend, if there's a conflict, just to overlook it.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And so you believe it was indelible that the jury heard consistency among those witnesses, they all saw that event the same way, you know, and that they all wanted to intervene and they knew something was wrong, but then also felt powerless, you know, to do so.

LITMAN: I think that's exactly right. And compare -- I worked on the Rodney King case. And remember he's sort of out of nowhere, he's wild. Compare this one. You have the scene set up very adroitly by the prosecution of a normal everyday life, people walking around, going in the store, et cetera. And it's the police who come in from afar and make it into the crazed life-and-death situation that it is. Big difference.

WHITFIELD: Wow. So, Areva, you know, although Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman testified that choke holds were not a sanctioned and taught technique, "The New York Times" today reporting, and of course, this was not part of testimony, but "The New York Times" reporting the body weight pinning which Derek Chauvin used on Mr. Floyd is one of the most popular use of force mechanisms in Minneapolis and it, too, is employed in a racially disparate way.

So if the pattern is such, according to that reported analyst will, Chauvin be able to dispute the lieutenant's powerful damning testimony?

MARTIN: No doubt we're going to hear testimony from use of force experts that the technique that Chauvin used was allowed at the time that it was used on Mr. Chauvin by Minneapolis policemen.

But what we're also going to hear and we started to hear some of that from the police officers this week, is that once you have a suspect, in this case Mr. Floyd, in handcuffs, once they are no longer resisting, that any technique of force has to end.

And we saw that from the two police officers that have already testified, that you put him in handcuffs, you put him on the ground. Once he's not resisting, you stop all restraints.

And that didn't happen in this case and that's going to be the difference, I think, in this case than any of those other cases where any use of force or restraints may have been justified.

WHITFIELD: And, Harry, next week will be filled by more technical information, expert witnesses on toxicology and cause of death. But can it significantly change the minds of jurors who heard what the nation heard from these compelling witnesses? LITMAN: Yes. And first we'll have more police officers and that's

another big difference here. Instead of the blue wall, you have officer after officer calling out Chauvin as a rogue cop.

I don't want to be too influenced by this week, but I would think, Fred, it really is going to be after this kind of a blur of medical testimony. I really think that when they go to the jury room, it will be this aspect that will dominate and what's to come, as you say, a lot of medical, toxicological testimony, some notion that maybe he didn't have a real neck injury.


LITMAN: My best guess from my experience is that that will just kind of wash away. But, of course, we'll see. Trials do take twists and turns.

WHITFIELD: Right, they do. And we're going to have to follow along with it.

Areva Martin, Harry Litman -- thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it.

LITMAN: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: So the testimony this week has been emotional, at the very least, and at times so difficult to hear and relive. For resources on how to protect your mental health during the trial, visit

All right. Still ahead, more than 100 million Americans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. But cases across the country are surging.

We'll go live to one of the hot spots next.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

The CDC is urging Americans to avoid traveling, especially if you have not been vaccinated. But even if you have, they're still advising against nonessential travel.

Right now it doesn't seem like people are paying attention. The TSA says Friday set a new pandemic-era record for air travel. They screened nearly 1.6 million people at airports yesterday, as people headed out for the Easter holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, experts are worried by fast rising cases in a handful of states, including New York, New Jersey and Michigan.

Our Polo Sandoval reports from Detroit.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): First, the promising news, the total number of people who have been administered at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine exceeded 100 million yesterday and shots are going into arms at a seven-day average rate of about three million a day, touts the White House.

The CDC is also out with much anticipated guidance announcing the roughly 18 percent of Americans that are fully vaccinated should feel safe while traveling, eliminating some testing and quarantine recommendations.

The CDC also issued guidance saying it's safe for vaccinated people to gather indoors this Easter. The rest are still advised to keep celebrations outside and within the household.

But with more than three-quarters of the country still not fully protected by a vaccine, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is still advising against nonessential travel.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: While we believe that fully- vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, CDC is not recommending travel at this time due to the rising number of cases.

SANDOVAL: And that's what worries health officials, especially with the increasing number of viral variants. This week, Michigan confirmed its first patient infected with the mutation of the virus first reported in Brazil, but it's the dreaded B117 variant that has Michigan hospitals dealing with another patient spike.

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI), We haven't abandoned protocols, it's just that we've got a higher proportion of variants and part of that is people getting tired. There's fatigue and there's variants and there's more travel and that's some of what the story is here, for sure.

SANDOVAL: That's Michigan's governor who says in her state young people are among those fueling Michigan's latest surge. This infectious disease expert agrees.

PROF. WILLIAM HASELTINE, PRESIDENT, ACCESS HEALTH INTERNATIONAL: The majority of people going to hospitals, not just getting infected, going to hospitals, are under 60, and many of them are between 30 and 20.

So this is not what was happening before. It's a different virus. More transmissible, more lethal, and more dangerous to the young.

SANDOVAL: Michigan joined by New Jersey and New York on the list of states with the highest COVID infection rate per capita. Kansas, California and Arkansas has the lowest as the race between vaccines and variants picks up speed.


SANDOVAL: Back out here in Michigan, the state is very well aware of the fact that there has been an increase in Michigan residents or families and students that are hitting the road right now, either for spring break or Easter. So what they're doing is asking those people to test before their trip and also after, so as a result yesterday Governor Whitmer announcing the deployment of well over 30 different COVID testing pop-up sites throughout the state, urging people to use those.

The main goal is to try and keep these numbers from increasing because that is where they are right now. just consider alone, in February the average number of new cases about 1,000. Today it's about 5,600.

WHITFIELD: Wow. All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much in Detroit.

And in his debut newsroom show today, Jim Acosta will talk more about the pandemic with Dr. Anthony Fauci. Don't miss the interview later on today in our 5:00 hour.

All right. Still ahead, disturbing posts from the suspect in the Capitol Hill attack. A closer look at his digital footprint and his state of mind and his views of the federal government.



WHITFIELD: All right. We're learning new details about the suspect in yesterday's U.S. Capitol attack that left a police officer dead and another officer injured. Federal and local law enforcement sources identify him as 25-year-old Noah Green. His social media posts railed against the government.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is looking into all of this. so Shimon, what do we know about green?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Certainly an individual that was very troubled, from what investigators are finding. And a lot of the clues that they're getting is coming from his social media posts.

In almost the immediate aftermath of this, investigators went to social media and they were quickly able to learn some of what was going on in this person's life. And just to give you an example of some of the things that he talked about and wrote about on social media.

In one post he talked about how he suffered multiple home break-ins, food poisoning, assaults. And then he talked about mind control. He also talked about his concern over the fact that somehow he was afflicted by the CIA and the FBI and railing against the U.S. government.

And from talking to sources, what we've learned is that certainly mental illness, there is a component of that here and this is something that investigators are looking at, talking to his family members and friends and looking through his history. That is a factor, certainly, they believe right now in all of this, in this really this tragic and sad attack.

WHITFIELD: So given this latest attack, Shimon, is security at the Capitol changing again?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. I mean so far, Fred, we have not seen any significant change. Certainly, this area where this happened here behind me. I'm going to step out of the camera, because the gate, the steel fences that have been surrounding the Capitol, they did put an additional piece of fencing here.


PROKUPECZ: This was not here yesterday, which allowed him to drive through here into the barriers there and just really what was a sudden and just very spontaneous attack on the police, really leaving them any ability -- they really had no ability to defend themselves.

He acted quickly, he came out with a knife, and then he attacked the officers. We're not seeing a lot of capitol police officers out here. And I'm sure they're going through a lot.

So it would seem that, at least what the department has done is kind of allowed them to stay back and inside. We are seeing a lot of National Guard troops out here. They're been out here obviously since the insurrection.

But relatively things are quiet here. We're not seeing a ton of stepped-up security. I've been here for many, many weeks. Certainly it's a much different view and a much different situation here than what it was weeks ago with security.

So things are relatively quiet. There's a lot of tourists out here. So generally things are quiet, but certainly we are seeing a lot of National Guard troops out here and things are kind of proceeding as if things have been normal here, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes. The normal that people have become accustomed to, that is.

PROKUPECZ: Yes. Exactly.

WHITFIELD: All right. Shimon Prokupecz, yes, thank you so much.

All right. Let's talk more about all of this. Joining me right now CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem. She's a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security under President Obama. Julia, it's so good to see you.

So yes, this is very early in this investigation. But what do police focus on during these first 24 hours?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: They're basically focusing on what his motivation could be and it seems obvious, at least in some part by his social media presence, or his statements on social media, he had political delusions, political anger. Did that amount to having a political agenda? It does not appear to be that way.

So lots of people can have anger at the government without having a goal or ideology. So they'll look into his medical records, his mental health, friends and family, and may probably come up with a motivation that is complicated, complex, and maybe not singular. That he had a number of motivations.

I think one of the things they want to also look at is how quickly did he plan this. I think the use of a gun -- excuse me, the use of knife and a car suggests that there may have been some triggering thing. Cars are easy, he has one. Knife is easy, anyone can get one. And so look into what -- if there had been a triggering episode.

WHITFIELD: And looking into this kind of forensic evidence, I mean his digital footprint, talking to his family members et cetera is going to be key because he was killed during this attack, you know. And without some sort of manifest or something that, you know, was a clear statement of why he did this, this is going to be, perhaps, very perplexing, take a long time to figure out what the motivation -- a clear motive was?

KAYYEM: Right. And, remember, a clear motive may never come. I mean if he did have mental issues, most people with mental issues do not do things like this so that there might be a complexity of issues. It seems like he had a paranoia about what the government was doing to him.

So it may be that they determine there was some triggering event or he told someone why, but I think it's probably going to be relatively quick in settling what this case is, because, at least from what we can tell from the district police, they have essentially shut down any notion that he had any co-conspirators or this was part of a larger ideological plan. It looks like that is the case, but they were clear to say this did not appear to be part of a larger ideological or terror mission.

WHITFIELD: And the barrier, that green (INAUDIBLE) that was put up in response to the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol, you know, do you see it now, it is being looked at as a target unlike before?

KAYYEM: Right.

WHITFIELD: I mean do you see these barriers, fencing, likely to be more long-term? I mean if you recall, I mean just outside the White House after 9/11, it has never really returned to, I guess, a more -- you know, vehicle or even pedestrian-friendly atmosphere like it was prior to 9/11.

KAYYEM: That is true. I mean in security we call this like the sort of ratcheting up challenge, right. It is so easy to put so much security up and so much more difficult to make a fair assessment of whether the threat is gone.

I'll tell you honestly, I wouldn't do it now. I would -- maybe not all the fencing needs to be there, maybe you don't need all the personnel. But what you do want to do is minimize the possibility of a large consequential event. It's hard to stop everything and we don't live in that world. We know bad things can happen.

So that would be vehicle traffic and large groups of people. Those would be my two concerns. So I would focus on those first. And then over time sort of right-size it.


KAYYEM: I say often in homeland security the challenge is not security. We know how to do that well. It's the homeland. We want things to be open. We want our democratic governmental buildings to be open. And so we have to sort of right-size the challenge between security and democratic flow, having people be able to access our congress.

WHITFIELD: Yes. But clearly this will be the posture for a while --


WHITFIELD: -- that the Capitol has to operate as though it is a constant -- under constant threat. So then how that for U.S. Capitol police, in the interim, I mean, they have already expressed after January 6th they need more.


WHITFIELD: They need more intel, they need more resources, and can they get it soon enough?

KAYYEM: Yes, here's what I would suggest. We need to start detailing other law enforcement agencies over to the Capitol police just to be able to relieve some of this pressure that's on them, as we certainly know some of this increased hours and overtime that we're seeing in the numbers. And we can do that relatively easily and would recommend it.

Then, at that stage, then you start a sort of longer-term training process, where do you want to put people. And I think one of the most important things for all of us, but in particular for people who would use this moment, these months as a way to sort of denigrate the security risks that are facing our democratic institutions throughout the government, is to take them seriously.

Because this threat exists, whether it's a random person or an organized group, and in the end it's our police officers and law enforcement that we're seeing that are taking the brunt of us not taking it seriously.

It's not just the two that died. We also know two took their own lives and those are deaths in the line of duty, like as if they had been --

WHITFIELD: Underscoring the trauma --

KAYYEM: Exactly.


KAYYEM: Right.

WHITFIELD: Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right.

Coming up next, a sex trafficking investigation, provocative photos, and even claims of extortion. The saga involving a congressman, Congressman Matt Gaetz, is getting more dramatic by the day. And now there's audio of him praising a man who has just been indicted.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

From allegations of extortion and sex trafficking to new accusations of sharing nude photos, the scandal around Congressman Matt Gaetz keeps getting wider and more bizarre. CNN has obtained two audio recordings of Gaetz shedding light his relationship with the Florida politician who has been indicted with underage sex trafficking.

Marshall Cohen is with us now out of New York so Marshall, what's the latest?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, good morning to you. We've got Congressman Matt Gaetz involved with this underage sex trafficking probe. It started from an investigation into this other man, you mentioned him, Florida politician, Joel Greenberg.

He's a friend of Gaetz, a former tax collector in Seminole County, Florida. Investigators believe that he, Greenberg, recruited multiple women online for sex and that he introduced some of these women to Congressman Gaetz, who also had sex with them, according to the New York times.

Some of these women allegedly received cash payments from Gaetz and Greenberg according to "The Times" which said that it reviewed receipts from ApplePay and CashApp.

A source told CNN that the Justice Department is examining whether any of those payments illegally came from the congressman's federal campaign funds. Now, to be clear, in a statement, Gaetz's office says he has never paid for sex and that he refutes, quote, "these disgusting allegations completely".

He's defended himself by saying that he paid for flights and hotel rooms for women of legal age that he was dating but his friend Greenberg was charged last year with sex trafficking of a minor, stalking and a host of other alleged crimes.

As you mentioned, the feds hit him this week with a new 33-count indictment. He's pleaded not guilty. But I do want to play for you some of those clips that just show how close these two men are. This first clip is from a radio show in 2017. Gaetz was urging his friend to run for Congress. Check it out.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Joel Greenberg has gone into the Seminole County tax collector's office and taken it by storm. He's been a disrupter. So I think that if Joel Greenberg runs with his ability to fundraise, with his ability to, you know, put his own skin in the game for his campaign.

If Joel were to run from Seminole County, I think he becomes the next congressman from 7th district.


COHEN: Clearly a supporter of him to run. He didn't actually end up running. But the duo also according to a Florida lawmaker left an unsolicited and, frankly, strange voicemail on the cell phone of a Florida lawmaker. This was in 2019. She gave this recording to CNN this week. Listen to this.


JOEL GREENBERG, MATT GAETZ'S FRIEND: My dear Anna, this is your favorite tax collector. I'm up in the Panhandle with your favorite U.S. Congressman Mr. Gaetz.

GAETZ: Hi, Anna.

GREENBERG: And we were just chatting about you and talking about your lovely qualities.

GAETZ: We think you're the future of the Democratic Party in Florida.


COHEN: Yes, YOU KNOW, her lovely qualities. It's odd, Fred.

Fast forward to today, Greenberg is under indictment and Gaetz is under investigation.


WHITFIELD: All right, that is a lot there. Thank you so much, Marshall Cohen, for bringing that to us. Appreciate it.

All right. Coming up -- Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is expected to speak at any moment now about Major League Baseball's decision to move the all-star game in response to the new voting restrictions that is now law. We will go live to the state capitol next.



WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.