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CNN NEWSROOM

Fauci: Danger Of Another Surge; Millions Celebrating Easter Under Restrictions; Slow Europe Rollout Prolonging Pandemic; Atlanta Mayor Fears Boycott Over New Voting Law; Most U.S. States Have Introduced Bills Making It Harder To Vote; Crisis In Tigray; Jordanian Prince Restricted To Home; George Floyd Murder Trial Resumes Monday; Netanyahu Must Appear At Corruption Trial Monday; Florida Officials Declare Emergency Due To Reservoir Leak; Netherlands Studying Way To Bring Back Live Events. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired April 4, 2021 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

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KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Easter during a pandemic: Pope Francis leading mass during scaled back services at the Vatican and around the world.

Georgia's governor says the state is the victim of cancel culture. Meanwhile, executives from more than 100 companies are standing up for voting rights.

And beating the buzzer. This last second shot at the men's NCAA tournament leads to a miraculous finish on Easter weekend.

Live from CNN World Headquarters, welcome to all of you around the world, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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BRUNHUBER: Easter mass is now getting underway at the Vatican. For millions of Christians around the world it is a tangible symbol of hope now that vaccines promise to bring the pandemic under control but we're not quite there yet.

Pope Francis is celebrating with scaled back services. The pope will deliver his annual Easter message in about two hours.

Italians are under a three-day lockdown. St. Peter's Square will be mostly empty again. Delia Gallagher joins us from Vatican City.

You're among very few people in what is normally such a crowded place.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: I was just thinking that, this is the holiest day of the year for Christians. And it is such a different scene today. Italy, of course, in the midst of a national three-day lockdown. They can go to church but they need to go near their home. One reason that Italians can go out is to exercise. So many people

trying to just stop to take a picture at the Vatican. Pope Francis just beginning mass inside the basilica. That is to avoid people coming to the square to try to see him.

Very few people inside with the pope for this Easter mass. We got a glimpse of his message last night and the pope was talking about a renewal of hope for the vaccines. That is the idea of hope, so the pope was tying in those things last night. And I expect that is similar to what we will see today here, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much, Delia Gallagher, appreciate it.

Americans have been warned against Easter travel but airport numbers are up and people are again gathering in large numbers. Evan McMorris- Santoro has more from New York.

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EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The crowds have returned to Times Square, once the epicenter of pandemic in the United States. People feel confident about coming out and returning to normal. The weather is nice and the vaccination rate is skyrocketing.

Ten million doses have been administered in New York since the beginning of the vaccination program. Now one in five New Yorkers is now fully vaccinated, according to the governor's office. But the CDC warn people not to be too hasty.

There is still a reason to wear masks and keep the virus from spreading. But for now, these New Yorkers are feeling normal -- Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: So Americans are anxious to return to some sense of normalcy.

But when is that likely to happen?

CNN's Jim Acosta put that same question to Dr. Anthony Fauci. Let's listen.

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JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: When you start to see the case numbers go down, I think folks are assuming out there that you are going to put out guidance that we can start relaxing some of these measures.

[04:05:00]

ACOSTA: That people can take off their masks, that people can travel again.

I think there some frustration out there because people are going and standing in line, and getting these vaccines, then they get both doses and then they hear these public health officials on CNN and elsewhere, saying, well, you still have to wear a mask, well, you still can't travel.

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ACOSTA: And you're asking everybody to eat their vegetables and they're wondering, Dr. Fauci, when they can go about living their lives again.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: No, Jim, you make a really good point. And what you're seeing is that as data are accumulating, the authorities in this case, the CDC, that makes those recommendations are waiting until they get substantial data and evidence to say, OK, now you can do that.

Even though as more data trickle in before it's nailed down, that the people on the outside who see that are saying, no, wait a minute, we know it's less chance, so why do we just not have to wear a mask. That is coming soon, Jim.

ACOSTA: How soon?

FAUCI: -- the official recommendation --

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ACOSTA: I know we drive you nuts by asking how soon, but how soon?

FAUCI: Yes. You know, I -- Jim, I can't give you a day or a week, but I can tell you, as we get more data showing that is going to be extremely unlikely that people are going to transmit, you're going to be seeing recommendations.

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 be start seeing the advantages of getting vaccinated, whereas before, you're right, people ask a question, if there's nothing different, you know, why do we need to get vaccinated?

Well, there's a good reason. One, you're protecting yourself and you very unlikely will get sick if you get vaccinated, but also, it will give you a freedom of getting back to some degree of normality. It's coming.

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BRUNHUBER: Lockdown in the U.K. is being eased. prime minister Boris Johnson said this weekend Easter brings the promise of brighter days ahead. Salma Abdelaziz is live in London.

Boris Johnson will be giving a speech Monday.

What are we expecting to hear? SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Can we go on foreign travel?

That is the big question. The prime minister will present a two pronged approach. What we're expecting there, according to local media, is a traffic light system. If a country is red, you have to quarantine; green countries, you would be allowed to travel to without quarantine.

But what countries are going to be what category?

No one is to pick their holidays just yet. The other matter is domestic. That's the other part of this announcement that we're expecting tomorrow. We have been talking about vaccine passports. But they're using the term COVID status. It will tell people whether or not you had your vaccine, whether or not you tested negatively and whether or not you may have something called natural immunity.

And they want to use this COVID status for things that are coming around the country. If there is ventilation and testing, you can reopen events in a safe way. The first pilot will be in Liverpool. People will be tested before and after.

It is not coming without controversy. Authorities are aware of the practical implications of asking for health information. You have members of Parliament that are opposing this. Both parties signing a document saying they disagree with it so they will be facing some opposition there.

But as you said, it's a very stark contrast what we're seeing here, France and Italy putting more rules in place. The U.K. wondering, when you get to the other side of the mountain, how do you reopen in a safe way?

And that's what we're finding out tomorrow.

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BRUNHUBER: We'll see how those COVID-19 passports roll out. You say controversial there, controversial here. Some governors coming out against them here. Salma Abdelaziz, we appreciate it.

The U.S. Capitol Police officers' union calling on Congress to hire hundreds of more officers to help secure the Capitol. The police union chairman said the short staff could face more shortages as officers retire. An 18-year veteran was killed in Friday's attack. The officer that was killed has been released from the hospital.

Details about the attack remain unclear but it doesn't appear to be terror related. Here is Boris Sanchez with the worrying details.

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BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The suspect involved in Friday's attack is Noah Green, a young man in his 20s who was living in Virginia. According to social media posts, it appears that his mind was unraveling in the weeks before the attack. He talks about having suffered terrible afflictions at the hands of

the CIA, FBI and the U.S. government. He called the government the number one enemy of Black people. He also posted about having his mind controlled. It is unclear exactly what his motivations were for coming here on Friday, if he had any specific targets.

But law enforcement is working to figure that out and reviewing posts like the ones we showed you. A Capitol Police officer was killed in Friday's attack. Flags are at half-staff at the White House and at the Capitol over the weekend in honor of his life -- Boris Sanchez, CNN.

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BRUNHUBER: Georgia's economy is already taking a hit and it could be just the beginning but Georgia's governor is not backing down.

Plus the latest in the trial that has gripped the U.S. with horror and pain.

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BRUNHUBER: Atlanta's mayor is fearing that Georgia's economy will pay a strict price for the new voting law. She said Major League Baseball's decision to pull the All-Star game is probably just the beginning. Here is Natasha Chen.

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NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Saturday, governor Kemp doubled down on this voting law, saying Major League Baseball caved to cancel culture, bending to the Left. He said President Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams, have been lying to the American people about this law.

I asked whether lies about the 2020 election had anything to do with the urgency and timeline of passing this bill into law.

Is the timing of this based on your belief that there was some fraud in recent elections in Georgia?

KEMP: I've realized, people have all kinds of difference of opinions and beliefs about the 2020 election. But make no mistake, there were issues that happened on the election, like they do in every election.

CHEN (voice-over): Kemp also said MLB should have come to him with specific complaints about the bill and that he would welcome questions about the specifics.

So we did ask him about things like banning mobile voting centers, banning the automatic mailing of absentee ballot applications, specifying the number of dropboxes and location. He chalked up a lot of that to improved election security. Of course,

now you have pro athletes and politicians, like former president Barack Obama, chiming in, saying, they support MLB's decision here.

Whether you support or oppose it, it is local businesses who are really going to hurt from potential lost revenue. Cobb County, where we are located here, estimates that there's more than $100 million potentially lost because of MLB relocating this All-Star game.

MLB has said that it will continue to invest in local organizations in Atlanta as part of All-Star legacy projects as originally planned -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Cobb County, Georgia.

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BRUNHUBER: Major League Baseball is not alone; Georgia based businesses like Coca-Cola and Delta have spoken against the state's new law. On Friday, executives from more than 100 companies issued a statement. Microsoft, PayPal and Uber are among those represented.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

Paul Argenti is a professor of corporate communication at Dartmouth College.

Thank you for being with us. Initially the big companies put out vague statements and then last week they came out much more forcefully.

PAUL ARGENTI, PROFESSOR OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATION, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE: I think there has been a groundswell of support really focused on trying to beat these laws down. I think at the end of the week, when a group of Black executives came out, now 200 companies have joined them. And I think they are pretty hard-pressed to deal with this, particularly those located in these states.

BRUNHUBER: Now a voting rights advocates, just condemning these are not enough, they are saying withdraw financial support from people that back the laws and put money into initiatives for things like voter registration.

[04:20:00]

BRUNHUBER: You've written there are three questions companies should ask before they engage in this kind of action, whether or not the company is willing to put its money where its mouth is.

ARGENTI: In addition to lining up with your strategy, it is a little bit of watching when companies get onto the bandwagon. Let's take the example of MLB. They were going to be celebrating Hank Aaron. No way they can do that anymore. They could just pull out of Atlanta immediately.

You're going to see more and more of that. You're going to see them backing candidates. Companies now have the ability to influence and they're going to use it very aggressively.

BRUNHUBER: But you bring up MLB, that is an interesting case study.

Does it align with their strategy?

Looking at some of their statistics, only 8 percent of their players are Black and polls show a majority of their fans are white.

From your point of view, are they perhaps making a mistake down the road?

ARGENTI: I don't think they're making a mistake this time. The problem is threading that needle. I think in the long run it will be hard for anyone to say they're against people's right to vote.

BRUNHUBER: So the backlash here, Trump saying boycott baseball and all of the woke companies that are interfering with free and fair conditions. Ironic, saying we should fight cancel culture by canceling baseball.

This is a great front for them politically to fight on. This is what Brian Kemp said yesterday, listen to this.

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KEMP: Major League Baseball caved to fear and lies from liberal activists.

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BRUNHUBER: He has done a variation on that line a couple of times now.

How costly could the backlash to the corporate backlash against this bill be?

ARGENTI: I think it will depend on the issue they're fighting against. I think it will be unlikely that there is a backlash against companies like Coca-Cola and Delta, especially when you look at the overwhelming support that they have in this country, not just from corporate America but from most citizens.

I just don't think there is much of a threat. When you take a stand, you're sticking your neck out. Today, if you want to get the right employees to work for you, they are saying they want their companies to do this, this is the way it will be for now.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, I mean, still, yet to be decided. We'll wait and see. But thank you so much for your take on all of this, Paul Argenti, we appreciate it.

ARGENTI: Thank you very much, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: It is worth noting other states are changing laws, too. A group is tracking measures across the country and they're finding that 47 states have legislation in the works with restrictions. Texas, Georgia and Arizona have the greatest number.

Update on a worsening crisis in Ethiopia and the growing international outrage over an apparent massacre.

And Tampa, Florida, is facing a water emergency. We'll explain what happened and the attempt to avert disaster next, stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us from around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

A shocking video of a murder in Ethiopia's Tigray region is drawing condemnation. The soldiers in the video are wearing Ethiopian military uniforms, seen executing 11 unarmed men and pushing the bodies off of a cliff. The U.N. says war crimes may have been committed.

CNN broke this story and Nima Elbagir is joining us now from London.

I think it is fair to say this reporting has shocked the world. In the last five months we reported on awful atrocities but this is different. We see men in Ethiopian army uniforms.

Why is that so important?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is the combination of seeing Ethiopians carry out this brutal attack on camera. It is incredibly graphic video.

But towards the end it is almost more shocking than the violence, which is the impunity that they throw bodies casualty over the cliff with no fear of being discovered.

And that is what is really leading to a lot of the outcry at the moment, is that previously there had been a sense, heavily encouraged by the prime minister, that most of these crimes were the result of actions by Eritrean soldiers. And now we have verified on camera Ethiopian state actors behaving with appalling immunity.

[04:30:00]

ELBAGIR: And that seems to have focused the world's attention on the Ethiopian government.

BRUNHUBER: But will anything concrete come of this?

The U.S. secretary of state and others have called for months for independent investigations.

What does the global community do now?

ELBAGIR: What this seems to have done is focus international opinion on the issues surrounding allowing Ethiopia to be part and parcel of investigating its own atrocities. The U.S. supported mechanism is a joint mechanism between the Human Rights Commission and the U.N.

What we're beginning to hear and we heard this in the aftermath of our reporting from the head of the U.S. House committee is that perhaps the push should be for than internationally led investigation.

For now the success focused on an independent international joint investigation. But there is a growing sense that Ethiopia can't be trusted to investigate these actions.

BRUNHUBER: Nima Elbagir, thank you very much.

To Jordan now where there have been several arrests in what is called a security sweep. Also the former crown prince says he has been restricted to his home. Let's go now to Jomana Karadsheh, monitoring the story from Istanbul.

I know it is hard to get a clear idea of what is happening but you lived in Jordan and you have a unique insight to the country.

What more can you tell us?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think a lot of people right now are trying to understand what has been unfolding in the kingdom over the past 24 hours. We've heard very little from the leadership in the country. We have had one statement from the Jordanian military, saying there is a security operation that was ongoing yesterday.

Some people were detained, including some high-profile personalities in the country. He also denied reports that the former crown prince had been detained or was under house arrest or was restricted in any way, saying that he was instructed to basically seize (sic) actions and movements that could contribute or could be exploited in a way to destabilize the country of the military.

Shortly after that, Kim, we had bombshell videos that came out from the former crown prince, it seems, sent to a number of media organizations and an English one, obtained by the BBC, in which he describes the circumstances that he is in right now, saying he was instructed by the military chief to not leave his home, that his communication had been cut off, his internet was cut off.

And this could possibly be his last message out, that a number of his friends had been arrested, his security had been removed. Really dramatic statement there that we heard.

But what is most shocking about this is that we have never seen a member of the royal family in Jordan with these sort of statements. What followed was six minutes of lashing out at the state of affairs in the kingdom, striking at the heart of the grievances of so many Jordanians, talking about rampant corruption, the management in the country, the state of public services.

But he was basically talking about this ruling structure. So this is really, really shocking. I can't stress enough how unprecedented and unusual this is coming from a member of the Jordanian royal family. We will possibly be getting a statement in the coming hour or so, who will have to do a lot of damage control after this.

BRUNHUBER: Absolutely, especially, widening this out a little bit, Jordan is such a huge regional player and U.S. ally in the Middle East.

How might this reverberate beyond its borders?

KARADSHEH: I mean what really underscores the significance of all of this, the State Department, saying they're monitoring the situation.

[04:35:00]

KARADSHEH: They're reaffirming their support for King Abdullah as a key partner for the region. There is a number of Gulf states in this region, saying that they support whatever the Jordanian leadership is doing and that stability is key to them.

It is a small country in this region but it's one that the West, the United States, always really depended on in this very turbulent region. It is one of the few stable countries with ties to the United States, a key partner on so many different levels.

So they will be watching this very, very carefully. As we mentioned, the outpouring of support has been constant since last night.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, we're waiting for that statement from the government and, you know, keeping an eye on this very unusual story throughout the day. Jomana Karadsheh, we really appreciate your insights here.

All week, we heard emotional testimony in the murder trial of the officer accused of killing George Floyd. We'll get an update next.

And Florida officials are fearing a bigger crisis with this leaking reservoir. We'll have that, next. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: The trial of former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, resumes Monday. He is facing charges for the murder of George Floyd. The video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck is seared into the minds of millions around the world. CNN's Josh Campbell looks at the trial so far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (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.

[04:40:00] CAMPBELL (voice-over): Prosecutors opened 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's 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 seem 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 feel helpless. I don't have a mama, either. And 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.

DEREK CHAUVIN, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: Got to control this guy because he's a sizeable guy.

(CROSSTALK)

CHAUVIN: And it looks like he's 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 a supervising officer on duty. He was asked if Chauvin followed police protocol?

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

SGT. DAVID PLOEGER, RETIRED MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER: Yes.

SCHLEICHER: What is it?

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

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

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 had been handcuffed, calling it deadly use of force.

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

LT. RICHARD ZIMMERMAN, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: 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 of -- 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 bill, an interaction that initiated the police response. The teenager was asked what he now feels about the encounter.

CHRISTOPHER MARTIN, CASHIER: Disbelief and guilt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why guilt?

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

CAMPBELL: Now one thing we have 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.

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BRUNHUBER: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a tough Monday ahead of him, he has been ordered to attend the opening session of the evidentiary phase of his corruption trial even as he tries to form the next government. CNN's Hadas Gold has more.

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HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to be doing, Monday morning. Visiting the head of state. Trying to convince the president to give him the mandate to form a governing coalition.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): Any other government that is formed, that is not a right wing government, will be an unstable, left wing government, that will be formed against a clear and absolute ideology of the majority.

GOLD (voice-over): Instead, he will be back here at the Jerusalem district court for the start of the evidentiary phase of his corruption trial. But the two are intimately linked. And if his Likud Party colleagues achieve success at the president's residence in Netanyahu's absence, that could help with his potential success in court, says the head of the Israeli Democracy Institute, Yohanan Plesner.

YOHANAN PLESNER, ISRAELI DEMOCRACY INSTITUTE: The past two years, the legal clock and the political clock are completely intertwined. Nothing that happens in Israeli politics can be, really, understood, without understanding the timeline of Netanyahu's trial.

Netanyahu's key motivation is to dodge the legal process. Or to try and, somehow, overcome it.

GOLD (voice-over): Netanyahu faces charges in three, separate cases. In case 4,000, Netanyahu faces the most serious charge, of bribery, as well as fraud and breach of trust.

Prosecutors say Netanyahu advanced hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of regulatory reforms for a multimillionaire business man.

[04:45:00]

GOLD (voice-over): In exchange for favorable coverage in the businessman's Walla! news website.

In case 2,000, prosecutors say the prime minister sought favorable coverage from the publisher of one of Israel's largest newspapers in exchange for limiting the circulation of the paper's main rival.

And in case 1,000, prosecutors say Netanyahu received gifts, such as cigars and champagne, from overseas businessmen, something a public servant should not do.

NETANYAHU: They created a crime that doesn't exist in the rulebooks of the United States.

GOLD (voice-over): Netanyahu denies all the charges and has said he wants the case to run its course.

NETANYAHU: Basically, a fake witch hunt with fake charges with blackmailing witnesses. Unbelievable. Erasing documents. Creating new crimes. This is ridiculous. I mean, the whole thing is just collapsing.

GOLD (voice-over): In the political arena, Netanyahu faces what many analysts say is an insurmountable task, trying to cobble together a 61 seat majority coalition, either by trying to convince members who had defected from his Likud Party to return or by getting a small Islamist party to sit alongside extreme right wing and religious parties.

The opposition parties are having similar problems as they fight amongst themselves about who should lead a potential hodgepodge coalition. But Netanyahu presses on. Israel's longest serving prime minister hoping to keep his streak going and keep himself out of jail -- Hadas Gold, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: The teams are now set for the men's college basketball championship after a game winning shot in overtime. Coming up, the buzzer beater for the Final Four.

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BRUNHUBER: The governor of Florida and local county officials have declared a state of emergency because of a leak in a Tampa area reservoir. Officials said Saturday the leak in the containment wall could cause structural collapse at any time. So far it has been tough going.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VANESSA BAUGH, MANATEE COUNTY COMMISSIONER: I thank the brave men and women that have been working around the clock to minimize any impacts that this situation may have for public safety. Crews worked until 2:30 this morning, trying to reinforce the berm and the breaching areas. Those efforts were sadly unsuccessful.

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BRUNHUBER: On a happier note, excitement is building for the men's college basketball tournament. Gonzaga went into overtime last night. They will face Baylor in Indianapolis for the championship.

Whether it is a basketball game or a night at the theater, the impact on live events by COVID-19 has been very severe, something that researchers are now exploring. Zane Asher has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A win for Orange. Special night for some fans in the Netherlands back in the stadium again, for a World Cup qualifying match between the Dutch national team and Latvia.

FIONE ZONNEVELD, SPECTATOR: I'm very excited. It's a good occasion to dress up again and to be able to share it with so many people, with my friends.

[04:55:00]

ZONNEVELD: We always watch the games together.

ASHER (voice-over): The match is one of several experiments organized by the Dutch government and sports and entertainment groups to research how to safely hold live events.

Only 5,000 spectators were allowed to attend the match. Each had to test negative before it and get tested afterwards.

Inside the venue, participants were divided into sections. Some told to wear masks and social distance and others given more freedoms. Research is hoping to gain insight into how transmissions occur.

The group leading the study, Field Lab Events, has not yet published any conclusive results but so far says the data looks promising for the return of live events.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The big difference is that people over here have obviously far more contact but they are pretested, whereas at home and with visitors, you have last contact but are with people who are not tested. In the end, what our hypothesis for this research was that the risk you run at home is identical to the risk you run here.

ASHER (voice-over): Other trials have revived more prepandemic fun.

Remember dancing at festivals?

1,500 people did just that at this outdoor concert using the same protocols as the football match.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course I miss this, who didn't right?

ASHER (voice-over): What happens in a party indoors?

That, too, was studied when 1,300 people danced to tunes run by live deejays in Amsterdam's biggest musical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to let go, we need to socialize, it's very important for people for our mental health.

ASHER (voice-over): The data of these trials is set to help officials decide when to lift COVID restrictions. Although the government extended all COVID restrictions until April 20th.

A Dutch tour company is helping to fill the void, offering a test holiday to Greece for 187 people, to stay on the island of Rhodes at a resort under the conditions they don't leave the location and quarantine when they return.

So far, 25,000 people have applied for it. The lucky few will be chosen by criteria set by the Dutch government. The rest will have to wait like everyone else for the slow return to normal -- Zain Asher, CNN, New York.

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BRUNHUBER: That wraps this hour of the CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be back in just a moment with more news, please. Stay with us.