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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Hits Four Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses In A Day, Passes Three Million Daily Average Says The CDC; MLB Pulls All-Star Game From Georgia Over New Voting Restrictions; One Officer Killed, Another Injured In U.S. Capitol Attack; Interview With Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX); At Least 22 Mass Shootings In U.S. Since Atlanta Spa Killings; Hunter Biden Opens Up About His Struggle With Addiction. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 3, 2021 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:19]

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): It is unfortunate that Major League Baseball has caved to the cancel culture. And quite honestly, President Biden and Stacey Abrams and a lot of other people are simply lying about this bill. It's really a sad day for Major League Baseball.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D), ATLANTA, GEORGIA: It is really probably the first of many boycotts of our state to come before making decisions not to come to our state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have an opinion as to when the restraint Mr. Floyd should have ended in this encounter?

RICHARD ZIMMERMAN, HENNEPIN COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT HOMICIDE UNIT: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When is it?

ZIMMERMAN: When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint.

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: While we believe that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, C.D.C. is not recommending travel at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't let the vaccines and the sunny spring weather give us a false sense that we're in the clear, because we're not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

An amazing benchmark, over the past day, the U.S. administered more than four million doses of COVID-19 vaccine. That is a record and that brings the seven-day average to more than three million doses per day. But the C.D.C. is still urging caution and says hospitalization rates

are starting to tick up in some areas after weeks of decline.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joins me now from New York City that might be more eager than most to get back to normal. I see behind you there, Evan, it seems like people are out and about. What are you seeing there today?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, as you say, I can kind of show you better than I can tell you. This is Times Square on a Saturday. And frankly, it looks like Times Square on a Saturday, which is actually pretty crazy because not that long ago, this place where I'm standing right now was pretty desolate because people just were staying inside. They weren't doing things. They weren't coming out.

Well, now as you can see, people feel like they're safe to come out again and we're seeing this. This crowd has been here all day long. There are a couple of reasons for that.

One, we're seeing the weather heat up here. It's kind of a nice day. Two, the vaccinations are going very well here in New York. We just got a report today, 10 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in New York since the vaccination program began.

According to Governor's Office, currently, one in five New Yorkers is now fully vaccinated. A number that's expected to go up pretty soon because starting on Tuesday, anyone over the age of 16 can sign up and get an appointment for a vaccine.

Obviously, that's good news. But as you mentioned, some of these crowds, some of the stuff we're seeing, it's not necessarily recommended yet.

Dr. Anthony Fauci was on CNN earlier today, talking about the vaccine, what it means and what it could mean for the future. Let's take a listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I can't give you a day or a week, but I can tell you, as we get more data showing that it is going to be extremely unlikely that people are going to transmit it, you're going to be seeing recommendations that people are not going to have to wear masks.

They're not there yet, but they're getting there.

Same way with the travel saying now you can travel. When you travel, you don't have to get tested before and after except if your destination demands that. You don't have to get quarantined when you come back from a situation.

So more and more, you're going to start seeing the advantages of getting vaccinated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, Dr. Fauci saying there, getting a vaccine, signing up, the best thing you can do to help keep this virus in check and get back to some normal life.

We are seeing in New York though other signs of normalcy. I'm down here in Times Square in the theater district because earlier today, two Broadway stars, Savion Glover and Nathan Lane did a quick event for about a hundred people, frontline workers and Broadway people just showing -- the first time we've seen people inside a Broadway theater since March 12, 2021 when Broadway closed.

Broadway is not open yet. It's not open until September, but on this day that a few people could go into a theater, sit down, enjoy that, just a big, big sign in New York that maybe normalcy is around the corner if people keep getting those vaccines and sticking by the rules -- Pam.

BROWN: If, that is -- that's the big emphasis there, if, but it is encouraging to see signs of life in a sense coming back to that area, coming back to inside that Broadway Theater.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much.

And meantime, the Governor of Georgia, a Republican, is insisting that the entire country is being lied to about Georgia's voting law.

Governor Brian Kemp lashed out at Major League Baseball today for its decision to move the 2021 All-Star to somewhere other than Georgia.

It's a direct response to that state's new sweeping election law that critics say makes it more difficult for minorities to vote. The Governor says, the opposite is true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEMP: The Election Integrity Act expands access to the polls and ensures the integrity of the ballot box. Then why did MLB move the All-Star game yesterday? Because Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams have spent days lying to Georgians and the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[18:05:46]

BROWN: CNN's Natasha Chen is in Atlanta for us. So, Natasha, how do other officials and Georgia voters feel about this move?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, let's start with the people who were standing with Governor Kemp today at that press conference. He was flanked by a both State and Federal lawmakers applauding him for not wavering on this voting law, applauding him for denouncing what he calls this cancel culture that MLB bent to the left.

At the same time, you have pro-athletes and other politicians, including former President Barack Obama who are congratulating MLB for their decision to relocate the All-Star game.

Now when we talk to people who are just walking past this park, we heard from one neighbor who said he fully agrees with Governor Kemp and feels that it's very unfortunate these local businesses are going to lose out on the revenue from this game.

Now, that particular issue of local businesses hurting was shared by everyone. But these couple of young voters told me that they also understand where MLB is coming from here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY HINSHAW, GEORGIA VOTER: I think they made the right decision for them. Just like I said, it's disappointing that it does affect local businesses and fans. People that would have come into this city and you know, provided the City of Atlanta like more revenue and more traffic just to see like how much it's grown within like the last five years alone.

PARRISH NELSON, GEORGIA VOTER: It could have like a long term effect, especially bigger companies decide to pull from Georgia just because our laws aren't moving in the right direction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: And when Governor Kemp was asked today at the press conference about a potential snowball effect with other businesses, maybe pulling their business out of Georgia, he said he will stand up and fight, so he is doubling down here.

As far as the lost revenue, we are in Cobb County. The Cobb County Travel and Tourism told us, they estimate that there is a loss of more than $100 million in revenue from not having this game played here -- Pamela.

BROWN: Wow. $100 million. All right, Natasha Chen, thanks so much.

Meantime, the U.S. Capitol building endured another violent attack when a man drove a car into a barricade yesterday outside the building. One Capitol Police officer was injured and tragically, another was killed. William "Billy" Evans was an 18-year veteran of the force. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling him a martyr for our democracy, noting that he was a father of two.

Right now, flags of the Capitol are flying at half-staff in his honor.

And this devastating loss comes just months after Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died after he was injured in the January 6th insurrection, and two other officers died after the insurrection, died by suicide.

CNN's Pete Muntean is standing by on Capitol Hill. Pete, what are we learning about the possible motivation for this attack?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, investigators are just now starting to dig into the past of 25-year-old Noah Green and what may have caused him or inspired him to make this attack on the Capitol yesterday. And what's so interesting here are his social media posts.

We have found an Instagram account that appeared to have belonged to Green, and in it, he makes three posts in the days leading up to yesterday's attack. The first one says: "I've suffered multiple home break-ins, food poisonings, unauthorized operations, and mind control."

The second such post, a meme that shows the head of the Nation of Islam. In it, the text says: "The U.S. government is the enemy of black people."

A third post describes terrible afflictions presumably by the C.I.A. and the F.B.I.

Now, Green went to Christopher Newport University not too far away from here in Newport News, Virginia. A 2019 graduate where he played football. We are told he was a pretty good athlete, but he was a bit quiet, a bit of a loner type.

The head of the Department of Homeland Security says there is much to unravel in this investigation. Even still, the fortress around the Capitol is getting more fortified all the time. You can see the six- foot high black fencing behind me, new this morning are the concrete barriers that have gone in just behind it.

So this is getting more fortified all the time. No chance is being taken here when it comes to security, 2,300 members of the National Guard are now here guarding the Capitol -- Pamela.

[18:10:06]

BROWN: Pete Muntean, thanks so much for bringing us the latest there.

And coming up, I'll talk to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee about these two recent attacks at the Capitol, her place of work.

Plus, overnight, there were two mass shootings and there have been 22 just since the Atlanta spa shooting. Nicole Hockley, who lost her young son and the Sandy Hook shootings joins me to talk about Americans gun violence crisis.

And when we come back, jurors heard powerful testimony this week against the fired Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd. We're going to break it down with retired Los Angeles Police Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey and the defense attorney who represented George Zimmerman in his trial, Mark O'Mara. We will be back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: And turning now to Minnesota where the murder trial of fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began this week. The opening days contained hours of emotional and potentially damaging witness testimony.

CNN's Josh Campbell has more from Minneapolis.

[18:15:13]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The family of George Floyd, kneeling in protest Monday, just hours before testimony would begin in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of murdering their loved one.

Prosecutors open with a video that sparked a worldwide movement, capturing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck, which they say killed him.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: You can believe your eyes that it's a homicide, it is a murder.

CAMPBELL (voice over): Chauvin's attorney argued the video doesn't tell the whole story. That Floyd died of an underlying heart condition and--

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl and the adrenaline flowing through his body.

CAMPBELL (voice over): New video from the scene and emotional testimony seemed to drive the prosecution's case.

Like from Charles McMillian, the man heard on body camera video pleading with Floyd to give in to police.

CHARLES MCMILLIAN, WITNESS: I felt helpless. I don't have a mama either. I understand him.

CAMPBELL (voice over): Also heard for the first time since the beginning of the trial, Chauvin himself on police body camera footage as he defends his treatment of Floyd to McMillian.

VOICE OF DEREK CHAUVIN, FIRED MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER: I've got to control this guy because he is a sizable guy. It looks like he is probably on something.

CAMPBELL (voice over): Arguably the strongest testimony for the prosecution came from members of the Minneapolis Police Department. Sergeant David Ploeger, now retired, was the supervising officer on duty. He was asked if Chauvin followed police protocol.

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

SGT. DAVID PLOEGER (RET), MINNEAPOLIS POLICE, CHAUVIN'S FORMER SUPERVISOR: Yes.

FRANK: What is it?

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

FRANK: And that was after he was handcuffed and on the ground, and no longer resisting? PLOEGER: Correct.

CAMPBELL (voice over): The jury also heard from 35-year police veteran, Richard Zimmerman, who testified it was totally unnecessary for Chauvin to kneel on Floyd's neck after he'd been handcuffed, calling it deadly use of force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you handcuff somebody does that affect the amount of force and that you should consider using?

LT. RICHARD ZIMMERMAN, HOMICIDE DETECTIVE, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How so?

ZIMMERMAN: Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Chauvin's attorney attempted to undermine Zimmerman's credibility, arguing that Zimmerman is a detective, not a patrol officer.

NELSON: And it would not be within your normal role or job duties to do such a use of force analysis, right?

ZIMMERMAN: That's correct.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): During the week of testimony, a common emotion emerged from some of the eyewitnesses, remorse. Christopher Martin was the cashier who suspected Floyd handed him a fake $20.00 bill, an interaction that initiated the police response. The teenager was asked what he now feels about the encounter.

CHRISTOPHER MARTIN, WITNESS: Disbelief and guilt.

NELSON: Why guilt?

MARTIN: If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.

CAMPBELL (on camera): Now one thing we've noticed from inside the courtroom is that this jury has been paying very close attention to the witnesses, to the exhibits, taking copious notes, no doubt aware of the gravity of this case and the decision that ultimately awaits them as they will eventually render a verdict in this trial that's being watched around the world.

Josh Campbell, CNN, Minneapolis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Our thanks to Josh and joining me now is criminal defense attorney Mark O'Mara. He defended George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case and retired LAPD Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey. She has a new book out about her years on the force called "Black and Blue."

Thank you both so much for coming on for this conversation. I want to start with another piece of testimony from the top homicide detective at the Minneapolis Police Department.

He describes the responsibility of a police officer once you have someone in handcuffs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you as an officer, according to training, you handcuff somebody behind the back, what's your responsibility with regard to that person from that moment on?

ZIMMERMAN: That person is yours. He is your responsibility. His safety is your responsibility. His wellbeing and -- is your responsibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: What do you think, Mark? How damning was that witness testimony there?

MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think very much so. I mean, the state has done a very good job of sort of laying out their case and remember, it's almost like building a house. You lay good, deep footers, then you put down the slab, and then you put all of your course of brick rounds.

What they're doing with these witnesses and these pieces of evidence is just laying that out and I thought they're doing an excellent job as you would think because it is after all their case to bring in their humanity and the emotions of it.

[18:20:12]

O'MARA: And now they've sort of shifted from the people on scene, his girlfriend and things like that, to the people who really will convince a jury what should have happened and that's law enforcement.

And when you have a law enforcement officer saying, it is his responsibility or it should have stopped or this continuum of force that cops are allowed to use, don't forget, they don't get to use more force than any -- than the rest of us who are just put in a position of having to more, but that continuum has got to drop right back down to the minimal amount necessary.

And when he's in cuffs, when the resistance is over, it goes back down to virtually zero force and that was the opposite of what Chauvin did.

BROWN: Right. And we should mention that we're trying to get Sergeant Darcy Dorsey back, we're having some technical issues with her.

But Mark, talking about what you were just saying, he went on to call Chauvin's neck restraint excessive, as to Chauvin's former supervisor, how much weight do moments like these from Chauvin's own colleagues carry in a trial like this?

O'MARA: Look, it's enormous because when you think about what the defense has to do, if they're going to get their reasonable doubt, find a reasonable doubt to avoid a conviction, they are going to find it in the nuances, right? They're going to find it in the uncertainties and the uncertainties that Chauvin must have been thinking.

So what they're going to do is try and present that he didn't know what exactly to do.

You know, they started off with the angry mob. I thought that was very poor maneuver by the defense, quite honestly, because they weren't angry, they were concerned. But yet, what they have to do is try and explain a way that in the heat of the moment, the adrenalin flowing both in Chauvin as well, that there was some explanation other than this intent to kill that seems so obvious to a lay person's view of that nine and a half minutes.

BROWN: Okay, Mark O'Mara, thank you for coming on and sharing your perspective on this.

Well, kicking into high gear, the C.D.C. says four million doses of coronavirus vaccines were put into American arms in just one day.

I'll speak to Dr. William Schaffner about that and the new travel guidelines, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:26:54]

BROWN: The week began with the Director of the C.D.C. choking up as she expressed a sense of impending doom and ended with the C.D.C. saying fully vaccinated Americans can resume traveling at low personal risk.

The U.S. sent a record yesterday of delivering more than four million doses of vaccine, but some areas like Michigan are seeing surges that some experts are calling alarming right now.

Joining me with more is Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Schaffner, great to have you on. What is the current state of play right now in this pandemic and the race to vaccinate? It seems like it's a mixed bag.

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Well, you can call it a mixed bag, I call it a point of transition, Pamela.

We are indeed vaccinating more and more people all the time. That's great. We're running that race. But so is the virus.

The virus is running its race at the same time. So it's hard for us, the average person, to keep two thoughts in our minds at the same time. We're getting vaccinated, good; I'm getting protection, but I also still have to wear my mask and be careful and do social distancing. Yes, that's what we're asking people to do for just a little bit

longer so that the vaccine can actually win this race and get there ahead of the virus.

BROWN: We want the vaccine to win. That's for sure.

So we just heard from Dr. Fauci last hour. He promises normal is coming, but says we just need to hang on kind of like what you were just saying. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FAUCI: We say it over and over again and we need the local people, we need the governors and the mayors and others to be able to say, we're not out of it yet.

People say well, you just want to confine us forever. No, this is not going to last forever. Because every day that you get four million, three million people vaccinated, you get closer and closer to control.

So what we are saying is double down, just hang in there a bit longer and the vaccine, and the vaccinations of people in this country are going to override the surge of the virus. There is no doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So as you heard there, he is urging local officials to hang on and get the message out that we're not out of the woods yet and so forth.

But what you are seeing in many states across the country is sort of the opposite. They are rolling back masked mandates and so forth. So what is your reaction to that?

SCHAFFNER: Well, of course, I'm concerned about that, Pamela, because we are hoping that local leaders will instruct, actually lead the people in their constituencies, whether it's a state or a city or a county to actually hang in there with the rest of us.

We can get this done if we all do it together and we will get there faster with less damage if we keep wearing the masks while we're getting vaccinated.

That makes good sense to us. I know it's kind of hard for people to keep those two apparently conflicting notions in their head at the same time, but hang in there with us.

[18:30:09]

BROWN: But it's the bottom line and look no further than what's going on in Europe and look no further than what's going on right now in Michigan. That's where it seems like the variants are really hitting hard Michigan right now with more younger adults ending up in the hospital. How concerned should we be that that is a harbinger for what's to come in the rest of the country? SCHAFFNER: Well, many places in the rest of the country, Pamela, are

already seeing slight increases. We're doing that here in Tennessee, fortunately not to the extent of Michigan. But we have to reach out to people who were younger than age 65, middle age and younger adults recognizing that they don't stand the same chance of becoming seriously ill as do older persons, but they can be dreaded spreaders. They can be vectors. They can spread these variants amongst themselves and to older people and then they can get sick.

BROWN: All right. Important message there from Dr. William Schaffner. Thanks so much, Doctor.

SCHAFFNER: Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: Well, old wounds reopened on Capitol Hill and security tightens after the second deadly attack in just three months. I'll speak to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee up next.

You are live in the CNN Newsroom. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:35:37]

BROWN: Well, months after the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a second violent attack on Capitol grounds yesterday shook Washington, D.C., a suspect ramming his car into a barricade. Capitol Police Officer William 'Billy' Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force lost his life in the attack. And another officer was injured. An awful reminder that the nation's Capitol on those who work there are still under threat.

Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas joins me now. She's a member of the House Homeland Security Committee. Congresswoman, thank you for coming on. Thankfully, you and many other members of Congress weren't on Capitol Hill yesterday, though, staffers were and others, but what went through your mind as you watch this attack play out?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, first of all, you know that I'm going to offer my deepest sympathy to the family of Officer Evans and thank him for - let them know how much we appreciated the service he gave to the nation and we pray for them during this very difficult time. The one thing I know is that our staff who were there, many of them have felt very secured by the United States Capitol Police. They made sure that they were safe and locked the doors.

So we know that we have a very fine force that needs a lot of help. And obviously, what went through my mind was the fact that there will be many lone wolves and others. We don't know how many others may be interacting with conspiracies and wanting to test the security of the nation, frankly, with two or three or one. We are not safe after the toxicity of January 6th, of course, promoted and agitated by the former President of the United States.

What he did was to say to those disgruntled persons that this perimeter, this citadel of democracy was vulnerable. We have to show them that it is not and I believe we need to get working expeditiously.

BROWN: And, of course, we're still learning more about the motivation behind this attacker from yesterday. But given the realities and obviously as you well know being on the Homeland Security Committee, there's always the concern of copycat attacks and so forth. Do you feel safe working on Capitol Hill?

LEE: Well, I like to say that I'm not afraid. Frankly, I believe that the Capitol Police are doing and would do everything they can and could to protect us as members of Congress, our staff and support staff. But let me tell you what we really need to do, we need to move quickly on general honorees recommendation, which indicated some of the defaults and failures of January 6th besides the fact of thousands upon thousands insurrection has come and poisoned with the idea that the election was stolen.

We need to improve on intelligence gathering and intelligence communication. We need at least 800 to a thousand new police officers and this is to protect police officers. We need a crisis team. We need a team that is mounted patrol.

And yes, in spite of the partisan response, we need to have a National Guard crisis team that is available for the officers and others to call as appropriately needed. And we don't need to delay, we don't need to put this in a partisan posture. We need to put this in a posture of protecting the citadel of democracy in the United States of America.

BROWN: And it is worth noting that yesterday it appeared that the National Guard did deploy much more quickly than what we saw on January 6th. But I want to switch gears to talk more about the election frankly and the big election lie and what we're seeing across the country in these Republican legislature as the Texas State Senate advanced a far reaching elections bill this week with several provisions placing new restrictions on the voting process, particularly for people living in densely populated counties, banning drop boxes and drive through voting. Republicans have said the bill is about election security and integrity. What do you say?

LEE: Pamela, I am on the Judiciary Committee as well and our urgent actions in the next couple of weeks will be to work hard to push forward the John Robert Lewis Voting Rights Act.

[18:40:02]

There needs to be a number of hearings on the HR 1 bill that deals with the practicalities of voting and days that one could vote and as well different procedures for voting is already passed out of the House and moving to the Senate.

I am so saddened by sore losers and individuals who (inaudible) into the big lie and I understand that these legislators, all Republicans have been driven by their constituents. I wish I could put a peace sign up and say to them that anytime you have an election under this democratic process, some people win, some people lose. Who knows who will win in next coming elections.

I think this idea of putting forward this legislation is oppressive. It's suppressing the vote. But it also has a tone of racial attitudes, because so many people of color voted. I for one am going to say that every opportunity to let Americans vote, I as a member of the United States Congress will be supporting.

But I also will stand against this horrific wave of seemingly legislation that has a tinge of racism and as well disparities in the fact that when certain populations vote, all of a sudden one needs to correct the voting system.

I think we need federal laws for voting, but I think our federal laws should be to give everyone a safe and legal way to vote. That's what happened in 2020. So we'll have to just vote these federal laws in, I think we need to move as quickly as we can to the United States Senate and we need to put these laws on the desk of the President of the United States. Because America has to be a beacon of light to the world and that beacon of light is a democracy that allows people to vote and decisions to be rendered peacefully.

BROWN: Right. And as you know there just aren't the votes there with the filibuster in place for that legislation to pass. But Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, of course, this is something we're going to continue to be discussing. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

LEE: Thank you for having me and we may have to deal with the filibuster and may I say go Cougars. Go Cougars.

BROWN: OK. Thank you so much.

LEE: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, meantime overnight shootings in North Carolina and Alabama left several people dead. There have been nearly two dozen shootings since the rampage in Atlanta. When we come back, I'll speak to Nicole Hockley. Her son, Dylan, died in the Sandy Hook mass shooting and since then she has fought for gun reform.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:46:55]

BROWN: America's spate of gun violence continued in the early morning hours today. In Wilmington, North Carolina, three people are dead, including a 16-year-old and four wounded after gunfire broke out just after midnight at a house party. Authorities are still trying to identify suspects, nobody is in custody but police have determined the public is not in danger.

And then in downtown Tuscaloosa, Alabama cops responded to a shooting outside of a bar shortly before 3 am. Two suspects have been arrested and charged with attempted murder. Five people were transported to the hospital for gunshot wounds, including one of the suspects. And with this latest violence overnight, America has suffered at least

22 mass shootings since the Atlanta spa attacks that left eight people dead. Now, these are defined by four or more casualties excluding the shooter. So that's more than one per day all across the country, as you can see here on this map.

In 2020, many Americans spent much of the year in lockdown, the gatherings of people were more scarce. This might, you might think, that that would have led to a slight downturn in gun violence but the opposite happened. We saw more than 600 mass shootings in 2020. According to Time magazine, that's 50 percent more than 2019 and the most in the past five years.

But those mass shootings accounted for just a fraction of all the gun deaths in America. The gun violence archive research group says more than 19,000 people were killed in the U.S. in 2020, the most in two decades. If you add in suicides by gun, the total eclipse is 43,000. That means more than 100 people are dying from guns every single day in America.

So while the debate over assault weapons and the discussion of preventing mass shootings are crucial parts of stopping this plague, they are still just the tip of the iceberg. Immediately after the Boulder shooting, President Biden promised quick action, not the first president to do so. For the record, he has yet to introduce legislation or sign an executive order on guns. Even though right now you can still go to his campaign website and see the dozens of gun control initiatives he promised to enact as President.

Meanwhile, in Congress, the House passed repair a background check bills, but as always seems to be the case on this issue, they are now languishing in the Senate. Just this year, the U.S. has already suffered more than 10,000 gun violence deaths. How many more thousands of Americans will die before more is done to break the cycle.

Nicole Hockley joins me now from Newtown, Connecticut. She lost her son, Dylan, in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. And she is the Co- Founder of the Sandy Hook Promise group that works to end gun violence. Thank you so much for coming on, Nicole.

NICOLE HOCKLEY, SON DYLAN WAS KILLED IN SANDY HOOK MASSACRE: Thank you for having me.

BROWN: So as I mentioned, President Biden has yet to send a gun control bill to Congress. He has signed dozens of executive orders, but zero dealing with guns so far a couple months into his administration.

[18:50:04]

He says his presidency is about timing. Do you think the time is now for him to act on guns?

HOCKLEY: Well, I do think the time is now. As you said, so many people, more people have died last year than the previous year or the year before that and they continue to die every day. Every day in the United States we have a hundred people die and another 200 that are wounded or injured as a result of gun violence.

Those are astonishing numbers and sadly those numbers continue to grow. But I do understand President Biden's approach to timing. The COVID pandemic is has to be his number one priority and I understand that he's putting the time into infrastructure as well.

And I think, President Biden was with us in 2013 when we tried to pass background checks then. He remembers the failure. He wants to ensure that we pass this through and that means it has to be bipartisan, you have to have enough votes and that means more and more conversations have to happen with Republican senators. But I do believe that this will happen this year and then we can celebrate that we will be saving lives for the future.

BROWN: So you do believe it will happen this year, what makes you believe that? What gives you hope?

HOCKLEY: I always have hope. But at the end of the day the reason I have the most hope about the background checks bill right now is because what we were facing eight years ago when I was lobbying for this is a very different country right now. There are more people in this movement than ever before.

There are more deaths than ever before. There are more polls suggesting that the numbers have increased. It was still the majority of people last eight years ago that wanted background checks, but now it's between 90 percent and 97 percent of everyone who's researched on this that want this sensible measure.

So there's a lot more pressure and there's a lot more conversation about it. This used to be the third rail that no one wanted to talk about. Now it's part of everyday life. The problem is while there's more support and movement than ever before, there's also more gun sales than ever before, there's more gun deaths than ever before.

So I think it's time for people to stop just responding to polls and really contact their senators now. Those phone calls, emails and letters to your senators do make a difference. And so don't just respond to a poll, put the pressure on them. They need to do the right thing and I do believe that this is the year for that to happen.

BROWN: And you see after each mass shooting there's a lot of coverage, everyone is talking about it, both sides talk about it and then it sort of dies down until the next mass shooting, which is one of the reasons we wanted to have you on and to do this segment. Because it's still something that inflicts that is a plague in this country.

I mean, as I mentioned, there were two mass shootings overnight. For you, this is more than just wanting to stop mass shootings. It's personal. And we're sitting here right now having this conversation and after we have it, more people will die from gun violence. How do you get that message through more to people that, hey, this could impact you, this could impact your family member.

HOCKLEY: And it's really - no one wants to think about that until it's too late. I never thought gun violence would affect me until my son was murdered in his first grade classroom. I'm sure that the people in Atlanta or Boulder didn't think by going to a spa or going to a grocery store that they were going to end up with their lives taken from them or irreparably damaged and the communities from that as well.

And when I think about nine-year-old Matthew who died in Orange, California this year, you have to think about this could be your child. This could be your mother, father, aunt, uncle just going about their business, going to a movie theater, going to a house of worship, going to the grocery store, going to school and not coming home because they are killed in an active preventable gun violence.

If you can just imagine that for a moment and feel that pain, then you're not going to allow this to go away and just wait for the next mass shooting to happen and then more headlines and more thoughts and prayers and demanding action. It's past time for that. We can't demand action anymore. We need to expect action and we need to make that action happen.

BROWN: Nicole Hockley, thank you so much for coming on, lending your voice to this conversation.

HOCKLEY: Thank you.

BROWN: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:59:01]

BROWN: Well, Hunter Biden is out promoting his soon to be released memoir. It's called beautiful things and it explores his struggles with addiction, his battles with grief and his relationship with his family. Kate Bennett joins us now from Washington.

So Kate, you've got an early copy of this book, what stood out to you on the first read?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Many things, Pam, including the brutal honesty that Hunter Biden discusses his addiction and his struggles. And also something else that's really important, the President Joe Biden was really involved in helping his son get better through the decades and I think one thing we know about addiction is that it's the great equalizer.

If you have a family member who is struggling, you feel vulnerable and powerless. I'm going to read an excerpt here, Pam, from the book. At the time when then Vice President Biden goes to visit Hunter who has sort of hold himself up in his apartment and his drinking and he knocks on the door.

He says, he writes, "he looked aghast at what he saw," writes Biden, who said he told his dad he was fine. "

[19:00:03]

"'I know you're not fine, Hunter,' he said, studying me, scanning the apartment. 'You need help.'