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CNN NEWSROOM

TSA Reports Record-Hight Air Travel Since Start Of Pandemic; The Trial Of Derek Chauvin Set To Resume On Monday; Interview With Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) About Biden's Infrastructure Plan And about Allegations Against Matt Gaetz; Trump Rages Over Election Loss In Statement, Then Say, 'Other Than That, Happy Easter;' Imminent Wastewater Flood Forces Evacuation In Florida; Testing COVID-19 Vaccines On Children. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 4, 2021 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:00]

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Randi Kaye, CNN, Bradenton, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: That is so special.

Thank you so much for joining me on this Easter Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Jim Acosta.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

And if you needed any proof of the nation's COVID fatigue, look no further than your local airport. They are packed by pandemic standards. The TSA is reporting that every day for the last three weeks more than a million people have been passing through the country's airports. The CDC saying it is safe for fully vaccinated Americans to travel domestically, although non-essential travel is still discouraged.

And we have new numbers on vaccinations just in. The U.S. now averaging more than three million doses as day. In all, 165 million doses have been distributed nationally. President Biden and the first lady used their Easter Sunday message to encourage Americans to get the vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By getting vaccinated and encouraging your congregations and your communities to get vaccinated, we not can beat the virus, we can also haste the day we can celebrate the holidays together again.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: But with optimism there is caution. Top public health experts are warning the United States may be on the cusp of another wave of new COVID infections. One comparing the current state of the pandemic to a natural disaster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY: At this time we really are in a category 5 hurricane status with regard to the rest of the world. At this point we will see in the next two weeks the highest number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic. In terms of the United States we're just at the beginning of the surge. We haven't really begun to see it yet.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And with that, CNN's Evan McMorris Santoro is at LaGuardia Airport in New York right now.

Evan, you've been talking to people travelling this Easter weekend. Are people nervous about playing or are they feeling good about it? What are you seeing? What are you hearing?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, that's right. I'm here at LaGuardia at the departures gate in Terminal B. And you can see it doesn't look crazy busy but it's actually pretty busy for a pandemic. And as you mentioned I've been talking to people all day about this and how they feel about these guidelines or how do they think it impacts their travel. I spoke to one woman who was just flying out of New York after spending the weekend here visiting her daughter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The CDC says if you have the vaccine it's safe to travel but they're asking people not to travel that much if they don't have to. Does that still factor into the decisions that you make when you make think about making travel decisions?

STEPHANIE MORRELL, TRAVELER FROM VIRGINIA: Can I say not so much? No?

(LAUGHTER)

MORRELL: Not so much. I mean, we'll be vaccined. We're scheduled. So that I guess will alleviate some worries for us.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So as you mentioned, Jim, this is -- yesterday was the 24th straight day of more than a million people going through American airports which is not a lot in normal times but it's a lot for the pandemic.

Let me show you a quick graph that sort of compares various Easter weekends going back. You can see this Easter weekend so far, 2.9 million Americans have traveled through airports. In 2020, just 200,000. And in 2019 obviously before any of us have ever heard of the term COVID-19, 4.9 million. So nowhere near the numbers we had before there was a pandemic. But a number that is going up and a much, much higher than it was just last year even though there is still a pandemic.

The CDC -- the federal government says only 18 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. And the CDC says if you are vaccinated it's safe to travel, but still please don't travel because we are looking down the barrel of maybe a third wave and that virus still spreading. So Americans -- look the weather is nice.

They're feeling good about it as you heard from that woman in the airport. They're feeling like it's safe to go ahead and do this. CDC saying not, but we are seeing those numbers showing those numbers going up, Jim. Travel is back and it looks like this spring is going to be very busy.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. I have been traveling in recent weeks. And down south, out west, you're seeing almost pre-pandemic volume at these airports. And we're just showing some pictures a few moments ago of the situation down at Atlanta's big Hartsfield Airport. A lot of people there as well.

Evan, thanks for staying on top of it. Evan McMorris-Santoro, really appreciate it.

This is not going to last forever. That was the big message that we heard yesterday from Dr. Anthony Fauci. He was joining us on CNN NEWSROOM yesterday. And I spoke to him about this issue of COVID fatigue hitting the country. And here's part of our conversation, here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: If you had your way, what would you do to prevent further deaths? If some of these deaths could have been prevented during the pandemic, what more can be done now to make sure we aren't looking back and saying, gee, you know, I wish we didn't lose X number of people?

[16:05:02]

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: All right. So I look at it now -- so take now looking forward X number of weeks, and say, OK, it's in our purview now. It's in our ballpark. The two things that you do. A, you keep pushing down and doubling down on public health measures. And B, you do whatever you can to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible.

Four million people vaccinated is really a lot of people. If you multiply that by 30 days in a month you've got 120 million vaccinations that you've done. That is what you need to get your arms around this outbreak and to prevent additional deaths, additional hospitalizations, additional infections.

The other one is doubling down on the public health measures. And you hear the president explicitly getting out there and saying, let's not declare victory prematurely. So it's up to people to realize -- and you know, 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 are not out of it yet.

ACOSTA: Right.

FAUCI: 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.

ACOSTA: No question.

FAUCI: 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.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: We certainly hope so. And joining me now is CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen. She is Baltimore's former health commissioner and a "Washington Post" contributing columnist.

Dr. Wen, great to see you again. She is also the author of the upcoming book, take at this, "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health."

Dr. Wen, always great talking with you. We just heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci there a few moments ago urging local officials to speak up and help convince Americans to hang in there and double down on measures like social distancing and masking. But you just saw some of those pictures or heard our report just a few moments ago about people jamming into airports and so on.

As Baltimore's former health commissioner you have some experience in this arena. Why aren't we hearing more from state and local public health officials right now? Do we need to really, you know, flood the zone with officials, people who are trusted by the public, telling people to hang in there just a little bit longer?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: First of all, Happy Easter, Jim. Glad to be on your new show.

ACOSTA: Happy Easter.

WEN: You know, it -- it is really difficult this position of where we are now because on the one hand there is this great news that we have up to three million, even one day last week, four million vaccinations on a single day. That's all fantastic.

And I think people can see hope on the horizon. But on the other hand, we also have these more contagious variants that are out there. We are also seeing coronavirus spikes in certain parts of the country. And maybe we are on the precipice of what looks like a fourth surge.

And so I think the messaging is mixed, and it gets confusing. And I actually think that what public health officials need do is to meet people where they are, recognizing that it's not working to tell people, don't gather, don't travel. I mean, clearly, it's not working because we're seeing record numbers of people going through TSA. People are traveling regardless.

ACOSTA: That's right.

WEN: So I think we really need to switch our messaging from don't do it to here's how you do it safely. As in, if you're going to travel, of course, make sure that you wear mask. Don't -- when you get to your destination don't go to crowded bars and other settings that are high risk. Also try as much as you can to hold off on traveling until you are fully vaccinated. So just saying don't do it I don't think is the right approach. But rather switch to how can we reduce the risk as much as possible.

ACOSTA: Right. It's almost like we need a transition phase to go through, you know, versus where we have been because this country has just been all over the map on this. People are tired of staying home. We're looking at this video right now of what the Atlanta Airport looked like earlier this morning. We also know people are social distancing less. A new Gallup poll finds less than half of people surveyed says they avoid public places or they avoided public places in March. That number was 56 percent back in February.

And I just have to ask you, is the U.S. in a place right now vaccination wise where we can handle this level of travel. People out and about. I was just coming across down in D.C. to get over here. And the traffic in the district is almost like pre-pandemic traffic.

You're seeing people out in parks and so on. The thing I'm worried about, Dr. Wen, is you have all of these folks getting vaccinated right now but not a lot of young people are getting vaccinated yet. So they certainly can be passing this virus around. What does that mean for the potential of seeing a surge like we've seen in the past?

WEN: I think we are going to see that surge and in fact I think we are in the middle of that surge right now.

[16:10:03]

The difference between the surge now and that in the past is the people most affected now are the younger individuals. Part of it is the good side of it which is that we have been vaccinating those who are the most vulnerable. 80 percent of the deaths have been in people over 65. And we now have vaccinated many of those individuals. At least 70 percent of those over 65 have at least one shot of the vaccine. So they are relatively well protected.

But then we're seeing in places like Michigan that the people who are now being hospitalized by large numbers are people in their 30s and 40s. And now we're even seeing children getting infected in larger numbers, too. So I think it's a very good point that we really need to double down and continue our precautions.

But I think an important message to send is we need to get vaccinated. It's only a matter of weeks before everybody who wants a vaccine is going to be able to get one. And so let's hold off, at least hold off for the individual until you're fully vaccinated before you do things that are relatively higher risk. ACOSTA: Right. We're almost there. And former FDA commissioner Scott

Gottlieb mentioned today that we're starting to see pockets of infection in younger people. You were just mentioning that. You know, younger people who haven't been vaccinated yet in school age children and in Brazil they're saying that they're starting to see rising infections in younger people as much as 500 percent, 600 percent in those 30 to 49 years old. Those were groups who had previously avoided the worst of the virus so far.

Why is this changing now? Is it because younger people have just said that's it, I'm done?

WEN: I think that is part of it, that people are up and about more. Also we have to remember that with a more transmissible variant, what that means is that the activities that we thought were relatively safe are now going to be more dangerous because you have this virus that spreads more easily. And so again, I think this is a call to action for all as to just hang in there for a little bit longer and I think for public officials to change some of the messaging as well.

I think the CDC really needs to be much more explicit about what it is that fully vaccinated people can be doing. Right now there is this mixed messaging that well, it's safe to travel but still you shouldn't be traveling. I mean, that's really confusing for people to understand. I think they should say here are all these activities that are high risk if you are not yet vaccinated. If you're vaccinated then those -- many of those activities move to a much lower risk category.

And so when you're fully vaccinated go ahead and travel. But until then, don't travel. I mean, something like that is lot easier to understand than the current messaging which I think could breed some confusion. And we know that public health really depends on public trust, which is -- requires a level of a practical guidance that I think currently is not quite there.

ACOSTA: And always wear your mask. If you're not vaccinated yet, until this thing is over, please wear that mask.

Dr. Leana Wen, great insights there. Always great to talk to you. Happy Easter. Thanks so much for joining us.

WEN: Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, and coming up after a dramatic week of graphic footage and eyewitness testimony what's next in the trial of an ex-cop charged with killing George Floyd.

CNN's Elie Honig is standing by with your "Weekend Cross Exam."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:18]

ACOSTA: Testimony in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on the neck of George Floyd, will continue tomorrow after pain, trauma and devastating testimony filled the courtroom this past week.

This brings us to our weekly "Cross Exam" segment with CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig.

Great, Elie, to have you with us. He's with me now to answer your legal questions.

And Elie, one viewer wants to know -- I mean, this has been a powerful trial. Just a heartbreaking trial to watch all last week. So some great questions here. But one viewer wants to know, were Derek Chauvin's actions consistent with standard police training and practice? If so, will he be found not guilty?

We heard from some, you know, top police officers in Minneapolis say that that's not the case. What do you think, Elie?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Jim, this is going to be the big issue for the jury I think this week looking ahead. Now the prosecution is arguing that Derek Chauvin's actions were far excessive, far greater than necessary to safely restrain George Floyd. Like you said the last witness we heard from Friday, Lieutenant Zimmermann, the most senior member of the Minneapolis Police Department said that Chauvin's actions were totally unnecessary, that he violated training and practice. And that by putting a knee on a neck you can kill a person.

Now Chauvin's defense, however, is arguing that his actions were consistent with policy and training. Intuitively it's sort of hard to understand how that could be. They seem to argue that he needed to restrain George Floyd to protect him or hold him for some sort of medical treatment but remember, the question is not whether force or restrain was ever justified.

The question is what happened during that key nine minutes and 29 seconds. Was it necessary to put a knee to the neck at all? Never mind for that long. We're going to see that argument play out. That will be a big focus this week.

ACOSTA: That's right. And another viewer wants to know, and I think this is a very key question. Can the prosecution call the other three former officer who were with Derek Chauvin to testify against him? We don't see a lot about those officers. What about that, Elie?

HONIG: Yes, almost certainly not. So those three officers have also been charged with crimes related to George Floyd's death. They will be tried together as a group later this summer in August. Now because they are facing criminal charges they have a Fifth Amendment right. This is the good old you have the right to remain silent. Any criminal defendant has that right, anyone who might be charged with a crime has that right.

So the prosecution cannot force them to testify. There are two potential options here for the prosecution technically but neither of them seems realistic. You can immunize a witness, meaning you have to testify but we won't use your testimony against you. That almost never happens with defendants like these who've already been charged. Or theoretically as a prosecutor you could enter into cooperation plea

agreement requiring them to testify. But it's too late. We're in the middle of this trial. So I really would not count on that happening. I do not think we'll hear from those other three at this trial.

[16:20:07]

ACOSTA: That's interesting. And another viewer asked, let's get right to this other one, could the Justice Department still bring federal charges against Derek Chauvin? That's a good question. And I suppose it might depend on the outcome of this current case?

HONIG: You read my mind, Jim. Yes, the federal government can bring charges even though Derek Chauvin is already charged in Minnesota state court. The Supreme Court actually ruled on this exact issue two years ago in 2019. It's called the Separate Sovereigns Doctrine. It just means that it's not a double jeopardy violation for the feds and state prosecutors both to charge a person with the same thing.

Look, we know there is an ongoing federal grand jury investigation of Derek Chauvin. And if we listened to the witnesses this week several of them have talked about how they've been interviewed by the FBI. Ultimately, I think it will come down to exactly what we said. I think DOJ sitting in the background, they're going to wait and see if this somehow results in a not guilty verdict. DOJ can then charge as a sort of safety net.

ACOSTA: OK, Elie Honig. Thanks so much for breaking that down for us. Great insights there. We appreciate it. We'll talk to you again soon. Thanks so much.

HONIG: All right, thanks.

ACOSTA: And be sure to tune in during our next hour. I'll be joined by the attorney for George Floyd's family, Ben Crump. That's coming up in the next hour.

Coming up. Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz facing allegations of sex trafficking, drug and a relationship with an underaged girl. I'll get reaction from one of his colleagues on Capitol Hill. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:25:57]

ACOSTA: President Biden is vowing a good faith negotiation with Republicans as he tries to get a sweeping jobs and infrastructure package passed. The $2.3 trillion plan include traditional projects like roads, bridges and airports, but also progressive priorities like boosting the manufacturing of electronic vehicles and expanding long- term care facilities as well as overhauling aging schools.

To pay for all of this, Biden is proposing hiking the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent along with raising other corporate taxes. And joining me now is Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He sits on the House Oversight Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. And Happy Easter. President Biden says he plans to meet with Republicans in the Oval Office to negotiate. Do you think he's wasting his time?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Yes, first of all, Happy Easter to you and congratulations on the show. I have no problem with the president outreaching. And frankly the priorities you described, more manufacturing jobs, helping education, they're not progressive priorities, they're American priorities. So if the president can get the Republicans on board with helping the working class, with reindustrializing America, that's great. But he should not be held captive by the Republicans. If they're not on board, let's get the work done.

ACOSTA: And some progressives in the House want this infrastructure bill to be even bigger. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, let me put this up on screen, says, "This is not nearly enough. The important context here is that it's $2.25 trillion spread out over 10 years. For context, the COVID package was $1.9 trillion for this year alone with some provisions lasting two years. Needs to be way bigger."

Do you agree with her that this needs to go further?

KHANNA: I do. I think it's a solid start. It has money in there for the smart grid, for electric vehicles, for roads and bridges, for broadband. But if you look at the experts they will say that it's going to take almost $2 trillion over the next 10 years to get the solar and renewable energy we need. That the smart grid actually isn't going to just need $100 billion as this plan has but $400 billion. So if you're serious about tackling climate change over the next 10 years we do need to have more investments.

ACOSTA: And I have to ask you about the very serious allegations against one of your colleagues, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz. He is now being investigated as part of a prostitution and sex trafficking probe that involves everything from cash payments to women to a relationship with an underage girl. There are also accusations he was showing off these nude pictures of women he had slept with allegedly on the floor of the House.

You worked closely with Matt Gaetz in the past. You even said on a FOX interview that the two of you are friendly and hang out sometimes. I just want to ask you, I assume you're horrified by these allegations against your friend. What do you make of all of this? Does it sound consistent with the Matt Gaetz that you know?

KHANNA: I'm shocked. I'm deeply disturbed and horrified by the allegations. I believe that we need to investigate not just the Justice Department but the sharing of pictures on Capitol grounds would constitute a workplace harassment. And I have never had any interactions with Matt Gaetz outside the Capitol. Obviously, I totally condemn if he shared any of those pictures with anyone. I mean that should be investigated, as the speaker has said, with the Ethics Department. I have worked with him, with Thomas Massie, with Justin Amash, with a

lot of Republicans to end the war in Yemen, trying to prevent the war in Iran, but I agree with the speaker that these are very serious charges and they need to be fully investigated by the Ethics Committee and then there needs to be accountability.

ACOSTA: And have you spoken with him since all of this became public? And have you heard of him showing off pictures on the House floor? Was that something that was common knowledge among other members?

KHANNA: Certainly, wasn't knowledge to me. I don't know if it was knowledge to others. But I was shocked about it. And I obviously have not talked to him or reached out, nor do I plan to. I mean the allegations have been pretty shocking.

[16:30:03]

And I think that there has to be the ethics committee investigation, a Justice Department investigation. And, you know, if you believe what's reported, there's absolutely no justification and there have to be severe consequences.

ACOSTA: And do you think based on what we know right now that Matt Gaetz should step down?

KHANNA: I think there -- I agree with the speaker, let's send it to the Ethics Committee. Let's hear what the Justice Department has to say. My guess is that we're going to have an answer pretty soon and in the next few weeks, and it should be an expedited process.

But I agree with the speakers that decision that let's have the committee's investigate it. But I will say that if any of these parts are, whether it's the Justice Department, whether it was creating a hostile workplace, I mean, they're all very, very serious, requiring serious consequences.

ACOSTA: And let's turn to this horrific attack on the Capitol that we saw at the end of last week, just awful. Given what we've been going through in the nation's capitol since January 6, you were one of the few members of Congress, who was working that day when you got that call about what was going on.

I have to wonder, Congressman, what do you tell your family at this point now that there have been two deadly attacks less than three months apart on Capitol Hill? And what was your reaction to what was happening that day?

KHANNA: Well, my family and I are deeply grateful that the Capitol Police and my reaction is how lucky we are, that we had the Capitol Police to protect us, to keep us safe. And my heart is broken for the family of the officer who lost his life.

And I was talking to officers that day who were understandably shaken up. So I think we have to do a much better job of protecting not just the Capitol, but those officers and think about the type of security that that's going to take and that I think has to be our highest priority.

ACOSTA: OK, Congressman Ro Khanna. I couldn't agree with you more on that. We need to protect everybody up on the Capitol grounds as well as yourself and your colleagues. Thanks so much for joining us. Again, Happy Easter and thanks for stopping by.

KHANNA: Thank you.

ACOSTA: We'll talk to you again soon. Thanks.

Coming up, he does birthdays, wedding, even baby announcements. How is Donald Trump's spending his post presidency nearly three months out of office? Plus, we've had pasta prosciutto and so much more. But if you've missed out, catch the fun from the very beginning, watch back- to-back episodes of the CNN Original Series Stanley Tucci, Searching for Italy. That's starting tonight at 9:00.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:36:43]

ACOSTA: And we promise, there's an Eastern message in there somewhere, former President Donald Trump sending along his greetings for the holiday in his own unique way. And here it is, we put it up on screen. Why is it that every time the 2020 election fraud is discussed, the fake news media consistently states that such charges are baseless, unfounded, unwarranted, et cetera.

Sadly, there was massive fraud in the 2020 Presidential Election and many people are very angry and people understand that. With each passing day, and unfortunately for the radical left crazies, more and more facts are coming out other than that, Happy Easter.

And there he is with the Easter Bunny right there. Gosh, it, you know, it almost breaks your heart to read a message like that from a former president United States. But what would you expect? This is not the first time the President, the former president has used a celebration to air his grievances about the election. He was part of a toast that he gave during a wedding last weekend at Mar-a-Lago, perhaps you've seen it, if not, you can't miss this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: They said that 66 million votes are on the election zone are like 75 million. And they said, but you know, so what happens in 30? Thing all of a sudden they said that's a strange thing. Why are they closing up certain place? Now, a lot of things happening right now. I just want to say it's an honor to be here. It's an honor to have you at Mar-a-Lago. You are a great and beautiful couple.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Where might we see him next, the Catskills the Poconos, who knows. He's now a wedding crasher, and a former president. And joining me now to talk about this perfect guest for this segment, Trump Biographer Michael D'Antonio. He's also the author of the book, "The Truth about Trump."

Michael, five months after he lost the election, he's still whining about it. He's so claiming everything was rigged. We read that statement a few moments ago. I mean, you know, you almost need like a flashing siren at the bottom of the screen that says, you know, lie alert, you know, here he goes again, something along those lines. Is he -- you've been covering him for so many years and written about him for so many years. Do you think he's ever going to make peace with this?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: Well, you know, he'll change his tone if any new material comes along. But so part of the problem is he's not a very creative guy. You know, he is like a Borscht Belt comedian. You know, he does belong in the Catskills or the Poconos because he just keeps recycling the same old stuff.

And in this case, it's going to be the 2020 election. You know, I'm amazed he didn't talk about Crooked Hillary, I mean, at least he put that to bed, you know, otherwise, we have to suffer through the same nonsense over and over again. And as you said, you do hate to hear it because, at least technically speaking, he's a former president.

ACOSTA: Right. And yeah, thank goodness they weren't breaking out to the chance of locker up during this wedding. But perhaps the next one he does. The former president's new website is giving us a glimpse at another way he's spending his time. Take a look at this. This is almost beyond parody. He's offering personalized greetings to supporters who fill out a web form.

You pick the occasion you want, birthday, anniversary, new baby et cetera. And maybe you'll get a response in six weeks. You know, Michael, I mean, this is almost straight out of the onion. I feel like this is self parody. And like, it's a gag, you know, he's waiting to see if we fall for it. Perhaps that's always been the case with Donald Trump. What is going on with that?

[16:40:21]

D'ANTONIO: Well, you know, Jim, I already signed you up for every holiday this year.

ACOSTA: So I tried cameo, thank you.

D'ANTONIO: Don't you think this is something people are going to do for their friends as a joke? I mean, it's --

ACOSTA: I guess that's true.

D'ANTONIO: It really is kind of crazy. But --

ACOSTA: I just want to tell everybody at home, please don't do that to me, if you don't mind. Anyway, Michael, continue your point.

D'ANTONIO: Well, he's looking for ways to build a mailing list or what used to be called the mailing list. Now, we should call it sort of an electronic mailing list. So he can make these outreaches for funding. And he's grasping at revenue streams.

You know, this is the most important thing to know about Trump as a business person is, it pretty much always was a grift. You know, he built a few buildings, he licensed His names. But really what he's always been about is figuring out how to turn people into suckers.

And this is, you know, it's part and parcel of the scandal over his fundraising for his election campaign, where he had to give back 120 million plus. You know, there's always an angle with these folks. Always something about what's in it for me. So if you just adopt that perverted point of view, you can see what's going on.

ACOSTA: And typically, former presidents try to build on their legacies by taking on these big charitable endeavors. We've seen Jimmy Carter build houses. George W. Bush has his library down in Texas. Barack Obama is doing that right now in Chicago. He's been working on so many different causes. Is this just filling Donald Trump's need? Have they liked me? They really, really liked me. Is that is that what's going on here?

D'ANTONIO: Well, he is very needy. So he is going to go around, begging for people to like him. In that wedding crasher that he asked, do you miss me? Yeah. And it was really begging for people to applaud and say, well, yeah, we miss you. You know, would have been embarrassing to --

ACOSTA: It's almost a please clap kind of moment, right? I mean --

D'ANTONIO: Yeah, it's Sally Field's. You love me. You really love me. And, you know, by the time Obama actually was a former president, he was already two years into his project called My Brother's Keeper. President Clinton doesn't have a personal website. You go to the Clinton Foundation, and you see these initiatives all over the world.

There is great value in the presidency. If you want to do good. Donald Trump is going to find out, is there a great value? If you want to try and sort of turn people into gullible customers, they'll buy my greeting, by my tchotchkes. I think we should look for the merchandising to start very soon.

ACOSTA: And, you know, I keep thinking about maybe we can show the wedding video again, I don't know if we can pull that back up again. But, you know, I was waiting for Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. to come out and join him there, you know, during all of this, but it's just, it's almost sad to look at. It is sad to look at.

D'ANTONIO: Yeah. Well --

ACOSTA: Mike --

D'ANTONIO: This would --

ACOSTA: Go ahead.

D'ANTONIO: This would be his fat Elvis period. You know, the president, President Trump used to think of himself as an Elvis kind of character, and, sadly, we're in that period for him.

ACOSTA: Yeah. Donald Trump next week at the Tropicana, I guess. All right, Michael D'Antonio, with the fat Elvis reference. We'll leave it there. Thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

D'ANTONIO: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, thanks.

Coming up are Gary Tuchman meets the child heroes on the frontlines of the vaccine fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're done getting your shot now, right?

PHOEBE SWENSON: Yeah.

TUCHMAN: How did it feel?

P. SWENSON: I felt good.

TUCHMAN: Was it easy?

P. SWENSON: Kind of.

TUCHMAN: Do you know that you're a hero?

P. SWENSON: No.

TUCHMAN: You are, you're a medical hero. It says it right there on your sticker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:49:05]

ACOSTA: We want to make you aware we're monitoring a situation in Florida where an imminent toxic flood of toxic wastewater is forcing hundreds of residents from their homes. Governor Ron DeSantis weighed on this earlier today saying that everything is being done to keep people safe. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: What we're looking at now is trying to prevent and respond to, if need be, a real catastrophic flood situation. The public health and safety is the top priority. Obviously we want to protect that in a way that minimizes any of the environmental impacts. But the goal is to ensure the integrity of the stack system as quickly as possible in order to minimize impacts to local residents and to prevent an uncontrolled discharge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And the problem is that a decommissioned phosphate plant and Manatee County, look at this, this is a, just a dramatic video here nearly 500 million gallons of wastewater is stored at the facility and officials fear the wall holding that water back could collapse.

[16:50:10]

The county is currently under a state of emergency. We're going to stay on top of this. Let you know if anything develops further there.

In the meantime, there is one enormous segment of the population for which there currently is no available COVID vaccine and that's young children. But trials are underway. And CNN's Gary Tuchman met a brother and sister who are taking part in one for Moderna, and they couldn't be happier or braver.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN (voice over): This little boy and girl are about to make history. Six-year-old Arlo Swenson and his nine-year-old sister Phoebe are getting COVID vaccines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. All done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was it.

TUCHMAN: Phoebe becoming the very first child to get the shots in the Moderna children's COVID vaccine trial at this Phoenix clinical research facility, and one of the first in the U.S. and Canada.

The day began about 90 minutes earlier, Arlo and Phoebe walking into the facility with their parents, a big brother on the left who was too old for this trial and a baby brother on the right who was too young. The trial is for infants 6 months old through and including children 11 years old. But this initial stage of the trial begins with children at least six years old.

Parents Ashton and Stephen (ph) take a seat and sign consent forms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to have you write your name --

TUCHMAN: And children who are seven or above also will have to sign. Pre-vaccine medical procedures then begin. Blood pressure, an ear check.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good. (Inaudible).

TUCHMAN: And then a requiring COVID test.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you pull your mask down for me and look up to the ceiling. Thank you. All the way up. There. Right. Perfect.

TUCHMAN: The children are brave throughout. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep your arm straight.

TUCHMAN: Even with the blood test. It's then almost time for the COVID vaccine. And we take some time to talk to the proud parents.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Was it a hard decision to allow your children to be in this trial?

ASHTON SWENSON, MOTHER OF CHILDREN IN VACCINE TRIAL: No, it was not a hard decision at all for me. We believe in the science of vaccines and we were excited about the opportunity to be a part of it.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Among this first group of participants, also known as the first arm, a lesser dose is given than the dose adults receive. Jason Wallace is the clinical research site manager for the Phoenix Medpharmics facility and says this regarding placebos.

JASON WALLACE, CLINICAL RESEARCH SITE MANAGER, MEDPHARMICS: So for the first 750 patients nationwide, they're doing -- it's going to be open label, which means all the children that are going to be in those first arms for that 750 are guaranteed to get the actual vaccine.

TUCHMAN: Placebo will be used later on in the trial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go.

TUCHMAN: The youngest children will start getting scheduled soon. Three-year-old Alley (ph) and two-year-old Charlotte (ph) will be two of those participants. Their parents are Rachel and Derek (ph) Guthrie.

RACHEL GUTHRIE, MOTHER OF CHILDREN WHO WILL BE IN THE STUDY: We knew that this was something we wanted to participate in, the opportunity for them to be vaccinated at such an early stage. We jumped at the opportunity, honestly.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Alley and Charlotte are scheduled to be vaccinated within a few weeks. These small children, unbeknownst to them, will soon be leaders in the effort to help humanity.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Which brings us back to Phoebe's brother Arlo, the six-year-old is getting his COVID vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready?

ARLO SWENSON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to do great. And go. Good job. Not too bad, was it?

TUCHMAN: Both children will come back in four weeks. Their health will continue to be monitored.

TUCHMAN (on camera): You're done getting your shot now, right?

PHOEBE SWENSON: Yes. TUCHMAN: How did it feel?

P. SWENSON: It felt good.

TUCHMAN: Was it easy?

P. SWENSON: Kind of.

TUCHMAN: Do you know that you're a hero?

P. SWENSON: No.

TUCHMAN: You are. You're a medical hero. It says it right there on your sticker.

A. SWENSON: I know what ten times ten is.

TUCHMAN: What's ten times ten?

A. SWENSON: A hundred.

TUCHMAN: You're absolutely right. You're not only a hero, you're smart, right?

A. SWENSON: Yes.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Gary Tuchman, CNN, Phoenix.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Oh, there's some really cute kids. All right.

The reason attacks on Asian Americans are just the latest reminder that prejudice and bigotry remain a serious problem in the United States. This week, CNN Heroes salutes two tattoo artists in Murray, Kentucky for their efforts to fight intolerance by covering up hate tattoos for free.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seeing people risking their lives for the Black Lives Matter movement on TV that moved me greatly. This is genuinely helping people move past their past is powerful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Growing up, I was never raised to be racist. I just was around the wrong people. And I wanted to show everyone that I was above them. And one day you just realize this racist thing stupid. Everyone's equal. I look back on now I'm ashamed of it. You know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go ahead and take a look at the design here. Most of these tattoos are pretty old, worn and outdated. Just like that ideology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got two granddaughters, they're mixed. I love my grandbabies to death. So I get change in life and this is the last step and this man is here to help you to fulfill it. That is so cool. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[16:55:12]

ACOSTA: And get the whole story and nominate someone you know to be a CNN Hero at CNN heroes.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)