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Soon, Prosecution to Call more Witnesses in Chauvin Trial; CNN Reports, Biden to Announce He's Moving Deadline for All Adults to be Eligible for Coronavirus Vaccine to April 19; White House Says, Biden will Invite Bipartisan Meetings of Congress to Oval Office Next Week to Talk Infrastructure. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired April 6, 2021 - 10:00   ET


LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: And then be forthcoming about others without really undermining the prosecution's case, making the jury think, well, hold on, this doesn't make sense.


And, obviously, there is now a scapegoat in the sense of something else could be responsible for the third-degree murder charge they keep speaking about, which is the idea of extreme disregard for human life and depraved heart, all those instance there.

So they're trying to carve out here are the questions that would be asked of this particular witness, how is it different from an observation to say the cashier who says, I observed the following.

Now, the real issue here, of course, the prosecution and the defense is what will you get from this witness? If they're only going to provide this very narrow testimony that essentially goes to one issue, one question, then is the juice worth the squeeze and questioning? Is it worth the jurors' inability to compartmentalize? Is it the jurors' inability to understand the nuance?

Now, if you're the defense here, Jim, what do you want? You want there to be this muddying of the waters. You want someone to go on the stand and refuse to answer questions. Why? Because it makes it seem like they've got something to hide.

The prosecution on the other hand is saying to themselves, hold on, if that person goes on the stand and has a legitimate basis to invoke the Fifth Amendment, we don't want them to assume that what they're hiding is of respect to the prosecution's case and only their own.

So this optical discussion that how to compartmentalize is why the judge says, we're not going to decide this this morning. You brief the issue. You tell me what you want to ask. I'll decide about whether this person should have the litany of questions to invoke or whether we can say this person would no longer be a useful witness. Let's essentially provide them with a chance to not testify at all, which is not standard.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Yes. POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Laura, follow-up to that, because you heard Mr. Hall's attorney saying multiple times to the judge, look, if the state decides to prosecute my client in the future, this could hurt him. But she kept bringing up the third-degree murder charge.

As it pertains to her client, which I thought was interesting, because when you look at the definition of murder in the third-degree, it's without intent to affect the death of a person, causes the death of another by perpetrating any act eminently dangerous to others. Can you explain why she's so worried about the third-degree charge here, vis- a-vis Mr. Hall?

COATES: So here is where I think she is getting at. So there are the allegations by the defense that they have raised through cross- examination. We have not heard their case in chief yet. But they have alluded to the fact that there was an overdose involved, that that was really cause of George Floyd's death, that there was some interaction with his body and drugs.

Well, if the defense counsel for this testifying witness believes that the prosecution is going to be unsuccessful on the charge against Derek Chauvin, we actually believe that they will then turn their -- direct their attention to this particular passenger. And if he somehow has a causal link to some drugs that have been in the system of George Floyd, and they are going to prove that that now caused his death, he's concerned about that.

Here is why this, unfortunately, for her, is really sort of a legal fallacy here. The prosecution is so unlikely if they are unsuccessful at this trial to then pursue somebody else for an alternative legal theory for criminal liability. Imagine, if you will, the next juror who, if they are unsuccessful in convicting Derek Chauvin, they presented all these evidence, televised for weeks on end, presumably, about how the knee of the neck and asphyxiation by unreasonable police force caused the death, if an unsuccessful. Then they say, all right, but let's try this instead. Now, we're going to go after this next person here. Do you like this one better, juror? We're going to try to get justice for this family and now turn our attention there.

That's why this can't be reconciled really by the judge and why the prospects of this prosecution team in the state of Minnesota going after an alternative legal theory for criminal liability is so unlikely to happen. But, again, she's not a part of the Chauvin defense team. She's not a part of the prosecution team. She is the attorney for this witness. And she's got to be a zealous advocate and think of all the possibilities no matter how remote.

SCIUTTO: No question. If you're just joining us now, what we've been discussing here is a judge's decision or upcoming decision on the testimony of Maurice Hall who was in the car with Floyd when police first confronted him saying that it might be relevant to be able to ask him, Hall. And this is the video there that is, of course, Floyd on left, Hall in that circle on the right in the background, for him to testify as to Floyd's condition in the car as police approached.

Charles Ramsey, this trial is going to resume in just a number of minutes. We're going to bring it to everyone live as it happens. You've been involved in a lot of trials in your time. I know you're not a lawyer here. But you know that the defense, in cases like this, has a couple ways they could go, right?


One of which, invariably, is to besmirch the reputation, right, of the victim in some way here and the path is going to be about and get to cause whether drugs were the cause as opposed to the nine minutes and 29 seconds on his -- on Floyd's neck. Your response as you see this play out.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first of all, I find this whole discussion to be very, very fascinating. But let me just say this. When I first heard that they were going to call Hall as a witness, and I figured he would probably take the Fifth, in my non- legal opinion, the last thing as a prosecutor you would want is to have an individual time after time after time take the Fifth. Why? Because guilt by association. I mean, he's the guy who was with Floyd. He's a friend of Floyd's. We heard from the girlfriend that he has sold drugs to Floyd in the past.

And so you build up this -- and, again, you get to the whole issue of Floyd and trying to, you know, paint him with a different kind of brush as not being, you know, easy going nice guy, but here's a guy who is a drug addict, he's this, he's and that. You know, I mean, it would just plant that seed in the minds of the jury. And it wouldn't get to the technical testimony around the toxicology reports and all these other kinds of things. I mean, it would hard to disregard that as a possible alternative cause of death.

And so I don't think it would be in the prosecution's best interest to that this guy be allowed to just take the Fifth.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Well, Charles Ramsey, Laura Coates, stay with us, because, as I said, the trial is going to begin momentarily. We're going to bring it to you live. And, of course, we'll need your analysis as we go in.

But as we await that testimony, Josh Campbell is outside the courthouse in Minneapolis. Josh, we heard the judge there say 9:15 Central, 10:15 Eastern Time they're going to call the jury back in. What happens next this morning?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, the first thing we're looking to as that hearing that just took place outside the jury with the members were not actually in there, as defense and prosecutors and the public defender were discussing this friend of George Floyd. But now that we know that is actually going to be delayed, the judge says if he's not going to make his decision today, he's basically had all parties do, in his words, home work and come back by Thursday. And then we might see a ruling on to whether the judge will actually require Maurice Hall to actually come and testify.

So that leaves us now to additional witnesses. And one that we're expecting to day is another senior officer with the Minneapolis Police Department. This person is the crisis training coordinator. And this really fits this pattern that we've seen with prosecution witnesses. And that is having people from the police department who know about the training, who now about the how officers are taught about use of force, about how to actually assist and intervene with people who might be in a crisis state.

And this will be a continued pattern, to get a sense, a lot of the jury to understand what is the basic level of training for officers at the Minneapolis Police Department, because, again, it goes to how was Derek Chauvin acting on that day. Was he acting in a manner in which he was trained or was he acting outside of the scope of what the Minneapolis Police Department teaches. That is the continuing pattern.

And, of course, we know that so much of the most damming testimony that we've heard thus far has come from Derek Chauvin's former colleagues. And we expect to hear more of that today.

HARLOW: Josh Campbell, thank you so much. Again, this all gets started in just a few minutes. Josh, thank you.

So in about six minutes' time, the jury will walk into the courtroom. We'll take you there live to Minneapolis as the trial of Derek Chauvin continues.

SCIUTTO: Plus, there is big news and it's good news on the vaccine front. President Biden is expected to announce that every adult in every state in this country will be eligible to be vaccinated two weeks earlier than anticipated. Is there enough supply? We'll ask.



SCIUTTO: President Biden is accelerating his push to get all American adults vaccinated and quickly. CNN learned that the president is set to announce that every state must make all American adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by April 19th. That's less than a couple weeks from now.

HARLOW: Yes, and two weeks earlier than the previous deadline. Let's go to our White House Correspondent John Harwood. John, good morning.

This is great news and it comes as the president prepares to visit a vaccination site in Virginia. I just -- I wonder what is behind the thinking on this. Is this because they think they're going to get a huge surge in supply soon? What is it?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're in the process of getting it all ready, Poppy. What we're going see today is the president cashing in on the two prongs of his current approach to the pandemic. The first is a single-minded focus on getting vaccine supply up, out to states and localities and into arms.

And, secondly, communications strategy that underpromised and overdelivered. So the administration came in, said we're going to do 100 million shots in 100 days. That was just one million shots a day, which was slightly more than they were averaging when he came in. A lot of the public health experts say, no, we need to go higher, 2 or 3 million shots today. Well we're now at 3 million shots a day, and actually had a day this past weekend when four million shots were administered.

And so what happens is once you get that momentum, you start rapidly exceeding your goals.


They've already exceeded 150 million shots. His new goal is 200 million shots in the first 100 days, well on track to meet that. So deadlines are getting accelerated.

And the president promised, remember, that we would get life back to a semblance of normal by July 4th. A pretty good bet that that is going to be exceeded as well in terms of the United States being able to move on a faster timeline than that as a result of what is happening with manufacture and distribution of vaccines.

HARLOW: Nice to be able to report good news amid some tough news still with these variants, et cetera. But, John Harwood, thank you for bringing us that update at the White House.

Let's bring in our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Doctor, good morning. And the caveat to the good news, right, is the bad news, and that's what's happening in Michigan, this huge surge, surges elsewhere, packed Ranger stadium and really contagious variants.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, that is exactly right. And in some ways, we are so close to saying that we are able to contain this virus, maybe not, you know, eradicate it or bring this to an end completely, but to really contain this. And the vaccines are helping that along.

But as this happened so many times over the last year, is that it's our own behavior for the most part that is sort of making us stutter step over that sort of metaphorical finish line. I mean, it's, in some ways, just bewildering that it is still happening because science in many ways rescued us from our own worst behaviors. And even now still, we're still having a hard time sort of abiding by that.

People are tired. There's a lot of fatigue out there. But you'd hate to be one of these people who at this point when we're so close still ends up becoming infected and possibly getting very sick.

SCIUTTO: I mean, it's amazing how history repeats itself. You look at the 1919 flu pandemic, the exact same thing happened. Some communities, you know, stopped mitigation efforts early and it came back. I mean, it's -- this stuff, you know, this stuff is not new, right, in terms of the way it works.

I do want to ask you, Dr. Gupta, about one development when it comes to these new variants. There is a mutation in the South African and Brazilian variants. I believe it's called the E4A4K. It's been nicknamed the EeK mutation. The worry that some studies are showing about this, you know better than me, is that that mutation reduces the efficacy, not just the vaccines bit some of the treatments that have been used for people that have been infected.

And I wonder how concerned you are about this. How bad it looks or is it mixed news?

GUPTA: Well, this is a concern. So what you're describing is a particular mutation in some of these variants, right? So we don't know if the mutation in and of itself is the problem or it's the mutation in conjunction with the Brazilian variant or the South African variant. That is still knowledge that needs to come out.

But I would say two things, and I follow this very closely. I've been talking to researchers who have been helping conduct these vaccine trials. The vaccines overall were very effective at reducing the likelihood that people would become severely ill and die, whether it was a variant or not. And, in fact, some of these trials were conducted in Brazil in South Africa where the predominant strains were these, quote/unquote, variants.

And the vaccine still protected against severe illness and death. People were more likely to become infected or even develop mild or moderate illness if they had the variant, but still the big sort of protections against illness and death, I think, were there.

I think that it's going to be something we have to follow. Because if some of these mutations start to really congregate and develop what we call immunity escape, so you're escaping the existing immunity, that's going to be something that is a problem. We need to then be thinking about is this a yearly vaccine we need to be giving? Do we need to be giving boosters, things like that? We just don't know yet.

If we can immunize enough people as quickly as possible, it reduces the likelihood that some of those mutations will emerge. That's just -- that's the race. When people talk about the variants versus the vaccine, that is the race, right there, that I'm describing.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Well, I know something like so many things with this outbreak, we're going to learn more as it happens. But always good to have you, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to have us walk through it.

As we said in other times, we're just moments away from the restart of the trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin. It will get back underway in just a couple of minutes' time. We're going to bring it to you live. Meanwhile, a short break.



HARLOW: President Biden pushing for bipartisan support of his $2.2 trillion infrastructure bill. The White House says the president will invite members of Congress from both parties to the Oval Office next week to talk. SCIUTTO: This comes as one Democratic senator warns that the bill may already be in jeopardy, why, over corporate tax hikes to pay for the infrastructure plan.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond and Lauren Fox tracking both ends of the negotiating table.

Jeremy, let's begin with you. Tell us more about the White House meeting slated for next week. I mean, do they realistically hope for Republican votes here? Because they also have news about pursuing this via reconciliation, they don't actually need them.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the line out of the White House still, that the they do want to negotiate with Republicans, they do want to try to and get to an agreement. But I will say, this sounds eerily familiar to what we heard at the beginning of those coronavirus relief negotiations, which ultimately resulted in Democrats doing this go-it-alone strategy for reconciliation with not a single Republican in the House or Senate coming out to support that piece of legislation.


But the White House, President Biden, to his credit, has already met with Republican and Democratic members of Congress to talk about infrastructure and the White House now says he will have a bipartisan meeting with some members of Congress yet to be determined next week in the Oval Office.

Now, what we do know is that there's been this fight over what exactly is infrastructure. And there is no question that President Biden is stretching the bounds of what infrastructure is with his $2.2 trillion plan by including things, for example, like investments in care for the elderly and other types of care-giving tax deductions and investments.

But the White House is defending that definition of infrastructure and going after some of the Republicans, frankly, who have said that some of the things in this package should not be included. Listen to Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, just yesterday on CNN.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: I mean, there was a lot of quibbling over the definition of infrastructure. I've been puzzled to hear a lot of Republicans express a view that things like water and waste water, pipes don't count as infrastructure. I think they do. They're very important for us to be able to live and thrive and have a strong economy, same thing with broadband.

Now, I know broadband is not traditional infrastructure but railroads weren't traditional infrastructure until we built them. Part of good infrastructure policy is thinking about the future.


DIAMOND: And there is no question that the definition of infrastructure has been expanding on both sides of the aisle in Washington. Republicans under President Trump were pushing for broadband to be included. Now, you're hearing some criticizing President Biden for having it in this.

I asked the president yesterday what exactly is he willing to compromise on. He wouldn't get into that. But what he did say is he said this is about competing with the rest of the world, talking about the investments of hundreds of billions of dollars that other countries are making in their infrastructure and the U.S. needs to do the same, he says.

HARLOW: Well, and if you talk about compromise, there was not a ton of wiggling on the number of the COVID relief bill, right? A lot of bipartisan meetings at the White House, the top line number from the Biden administration didn't really change. I wonder if it will here.

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, Lauren, is the linchpin in all of this, and he knows it. And he doesn't want the corporate tax hike as high as the Biden administration wants it, up to 28 percent. He said, in no uncertain terms if I don't vote to get on it, it's going nowhere. We've got leverage here. And what I thought was interesting, Lauren, is he said he's got six or seven other Democrats on his side here.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's exactly right. Look, Manchin knows that he has the power here, and part of that is because of the narrow majority that Chuck Schumer has in the Senate. It's a 50/50 majority in the Senate. And, of course, that is not enough to give you wiggle room to lose Joe Manchin. So even if they use the reconciliation process and they can pass this with just Democratic votes, they have to convince Manchin.

What Manchin said yesterday is that raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent is too high. Right now, it sits at 21 percent. He thought something in the neighborhood of 25 percent would be what he said was, quote, fair.

Now, one of the issues with that is if you only raise the corporate tax rate a couple of points, three or four points, you're raising about $300 to $400 billion instead of about $700 or $800 billion. That is a big discrepancy and you have to find a way to pay for this bill in another arena. And I think that's what the Biden administration is going to be struggling with these pay-fors aren't always popular but they might be necessary to convince the American public that this bill is responsible. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: Can I just -- go ahead, Jim.

SCIUTTO: No, go ahead. I was just -- in terms of taxes, you have this other proposal out there, Janet Yellen talking about a sort of global tax, right, to capture some of this income because all of these countries, multinationals, they hide their income overseas. Totally legally but therefore don't have to pay U.S. taxes. And I wonder if that, Lauren, factors in -- Poppy knows this better than me, factors into some of the negotiations here.

FOX: Well, certainly, that will be a factor. But you have to use a number of different tax tools as a way to pay for this bill. You can't just rely on one area specifically.

I think that what the Biden administration and what Senate Democrats are looking to is what can you sort of cobble together, a couple billion dollars here or a couple billion dollars there, to get you to a place where Democrats are comfortable with the amount of the bill that is actually paid for.

And that's going to be one of the key questions from moderates here. They don't want to just excessively spend after spending $1.9 trillion on a COVID-19 relief bill just a couple months ago.

HARLOW: And that's a great point, Lauren. And, Jeremy, just to build on that, I think it's important for us not to forget that the Biden White House proposal here is $2.2 trillion paid for over 15 years of tax hikes for eight years of infrastructure improvement. Do the math. There will be a different administration in eight years and the next president and Congress, they could get -- they could get rid of this.


They could reverse the tax code. So it's just not a guarantee that it's paid for any way you slice it.