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White House Variant First Identified in U.K. Now Most Dominant in U.S.; Day Eight of Witness Testimony in Chauvin Murder Trial; Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 7, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Variants have been found in all 50 states across the nation. What we're also see though is that hospitalizations are ticking up alarmingly among younger people, in their 30s and 40s, according to the CDC.

That could be in part due to the fact that younger people have had less access to vaccines across the country. Deaths, however, going down. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky explaining that that could be the impact of the vaccine.

Health experts continue to be very worried about that variant fueling a surge. We are seeing a big growth in cases in just five states across the nation, making up 43 percent of the new cases. These could be surges that are fueled by variants. That's something the CDC is watching.

They're also saying they're seeing spread linked to day cares and also to youth sports. A big goal right now is to get more people vaccinated of course. The latest we're hearing from the White House, is that by the end of the weekend, Brooke, you could see nearly half of all American adults having received their first shot of the vaccine. That would, in fact, be a major milestone, of course.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Such encouraging news for all of us. So wanting to get back some semblance of normalcy. Alex Field, thank you very, very much.

Let's pivot back to the Derek Chauvin trial. And Elie and Cedric are back with me. I know we've been following this really complex series of events from this lead investigator in the George Floyd, you know, death case. And I know, Cedric, you made a point about the pills. And Elie, I just want to be crystal clear on exactly where the pill was found, which car. It wasn't the Mercedes. It was in the police car, correct?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Exactly. Here's the sequence. The police seized both the police car that George Floyd was transported in and the Mercedes that George Floyd was driving. They searched it once. They did not find any pills in either car. Several months into the investigation, the defense lawyer said, we

would like to search. During the defense lawyer's search, they found pills in the police car. Nobody's claiming the defense lawyers planted those pills. They were there and the police missed them.

Here's what the defense lawyer Eric Nelson has said on the record during pretrial proceedings. He said that they spotted chewed up pills and a full pill in that police car and that, quote, according to Eric Nelson on the record, they are, in fact, methamphetamine and fentanyl and they contain the DNA of George Floyd. That's the sequence with the pills.

BALDWIN: So then -- thank you very much for the clarification. Cedric to you, we finished before going to break saying that you are -- it's about to get very interesting, specifically on the science and the medical analysis of all of this. What are you listening for coming up?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, certainly I want to hear the medical examiner in terms of how he or she may have determined the cause of death and putting it into context.

And of course, you're going to have another medical examiner, if I'm not mistaken, that's going to be subpoenaed who may look at it very, very differently. So, you're going to have opposing diagnoses here around the cause of death of this patient.

But they're going to look at a lot of things physiologically, biologically, time of death, how much drugs were in the body, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And the defense certainly is going to -- and I think we all can pretty much imagine this -- the defense is going to try to make a case that it was the drugs that killed George Floyd and not the knee to the neck.

So the prosecution certainly is going to have its job cut out for themselves, but the science is going to play a real significant part in this very emotionally charged case that got played out to millions of people in this country, around the world.

And we're going to see, I think in the days to come, Brooke and Elie, this case becoming even more complex and even possibly even more emotionally charged.

BALDWIN: Yes. I appreciate you setting that up. And Elie, I mean we were on TV listening the other day to the Minneapolis Police Chief, Chief Arradondo and the sort of crescendo of the initial back and forth between the prosecution where they finally did get to that moment where essentially the chief was testifying when it came to use of force, you know, in all of his training, would that have fallen under the jurisdiction or did with the knee on the neck comply and ultimately the chief said, no. And it was this huge courtroom moment. I'm curious, Elie, what that moment will look like with the medical examiner on the stand.

HONIG: Yes, first of all, I think that that testimony from Chief Arradondo, that still stands out in my mind as the most compelling, most convincing testimony we've seen on this issue of both use of force and the cause of death.

Cedric's exactly right. The defense is going to argue that the cause of death was this overdose. And essentially anything and everything but the knee to the neck. Just intuitively as a commonsense manner, that's hard for me to accept, to understand. We'll see if the jury accepts and understands it.


BALDWIN: Why? Tell me why.

HONIG: Because you would have to believe that George Floyd just happened to expire, to die during or shortly after those 9:29, yet it had nothing to do with the fact that a grown man was putting pressure on his neck for 9 and a half minutes.

So it will come down to a battle of the medical experts. But remember, the two medical experts that looked at this for the prosecution both concluded that Derek Chauvin's actions were at least a contributing cause. One significant cause in the death. That's all the prosecution needs to show.

BALDWIN: OK. We're waiting for the trial to resume. Quick commercial break. Back in just a moment.



BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will get you back to the Derek Chauvin trial as soon as testimony resumes any moment now. But in the meantime, President Biden today just made his very latest pitch to pass his $2.2 trillion infrastructure proposal. He said he is open to negotiation but not inaction. As he is set to meet with Republicans in the coming weeks just to debate the details of this infrastructure plan.

And that includes increasing the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from the 21 imposed under the Trump administration. That is to help pay for the package which improves or expands roads, bridges, broadband networks and more.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: New independent study put out last week found that at least 55 of our largest corporations use the various loopholes to pay zero federal tax, income tax in 2020.

It's just not fair. It's not fair to the rest of the American taxpayers. I'm not trying to punish anymore, but damn it, maybe it's because I come from a middle class neighborhood. I'm sick and tired of ordinary people being fleeced.


BALDWIN: Our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is there. And Kaitlan, I mean he was really taking the GOP attack on his infrastructure plan like head-on there. And he spent a lot of time talking about what he says is infrastructure.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, this is basically a speech directed at Congressional Republicans pretty squarely. The entire time he was refuting these arguments that you've been hearing from Republicans ever since he proposed this sweeping infrastructure plan.

And he was directly arguing what you were just talking about. This is a new definition of infrastructure. He was saying, it's not rational to think that infrastructure is still what it was in the past. To think of roads and bridges. But he was saying things like broadband and these electric vehicle charging stations and in-home care. All of those aspects that you've seen folded into this infrastructure proposal. He says are his definition of infrastructure.

And so, while he said he was willing to negotiate with Republicans, he warned he was not willing to do nothing. And of course, we know that we've talked about possible pathways for him to get this passed without actually getting any Republican support.

So we'll have to see if they take that because he says he does have meetings with Republicans scheduled in the coming days really starting next week.

But one other thing that he was talking about where he got pretty angry, Brooke, as he was this speech, was not only talking about regular people getting fleeced, why he wants to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, but also competitiveness for the U.S. on the world stage really. Talking about China and other countries, that he says are counting on the United States to not invest enough or go big enough on infrastructure, saying they are counting on democracy, American democracy being too slow while they are getting ahead in the world race here on infrastructure.

So, that was another reason he was saying it's so vitally important to him to push this plan. Of course, we do know it is facing a pretty uphill battle. Not just with Republicans but even some Democrats who don't like that corporate tax rate.

BALDWIN: To your point about China, you know, I was talking to Phil, our colleague Phil on that, and he was saying, Brooke, you could have counted the number of times the president mentioned China on two hands. Just significant. And we'll see -- we'll see how this shakes out as he meets with these Republicans.

Let me ask you, Kaitlan, about tomorrow. The president is going to take action on guns. It's a promise he made, and in the wake of back- to-back mass shootings in Boulder and the Atlanta area, what is he going to do?

COLLINS: Yes, the White House isn't really revealing the extent of what we're going to see tomorrow, but we do now know -- my colleague, Kevin Liptak reporting that we are expecting executive orders to come from President Biden on guns tomorrow. The White House has only said we'll hear more from him on this. But we know that this has been pretty imminent, it's something that the White House has been talking about ever since those shootings in Georgia and in Colorado.

And so, the question really is not just whether or not he's going to actually put an executive order forward, but it's how permanent can it be. Because of course, the fear there and the threat there is they can be undone by the next president and a different party should they so choose.

And so that's really going to be the scope that we're looking at here. How far do these executive orders go? What do they actually do when it comes to strengthening background checks? Things of that nature that we know President Biden has been interested in. And then does he still try to pursue that legislative route that he has said is important to him but of course not as important as infrastructure -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Kaitlan, thank you. We're going to leave it because the trial has resumed there in Minneapolis. Let's head back.

MATTHEW FRANK, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Mr. King's body-worn camera, correct?


FRANK: During that same time period?



FRANK: And prior to the short clip of Lane's body camera that you were shown as Exhibit 1007, is there a discussion about drug use by the officers and attempting to speak to Mr. Floyd?


FRANK: And hearing that section of the audio, did that help you to understand what Mr. Floyd might have been saying, that you were asked about by counsel?


FRANK: And your Honor, then we would ask to play 127 -- Exhibit 127 which is cued up to 20:20:30 through 20:21:01, where that phrase appears that Mr. Reyerson -- agent Reyerson was asked about.


GEORGE FLOYD: Please. Please, let me stand.


FLOYD: Please, let me breathe.

MALE OFFICER: Get up on the sidewalk, please. One side or the other. FLOYD: My face, get a (INAUDIBLE).

MALE OFFICER: Should we get his legs up?

MALE OFFICER: That's all right. Nope. Just leave him. Just leave him.

MALE OFFICER: All right.


FLOYD: Please. Please. Please, I can't breathe.


FRANK: So, the record should reflect that we've played through 20:21:10 with the quote that you were asked about appearing really at 20:21:01, correct?


FRANK: Having heard it in context, were you able to tell what Mr. Floyd is saying there?

REYERSON: Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd is saying, I ain't do no drugs.

FRANK: So it's a little different than what you were asked about when we saw a portion of the video, correct?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

FRANK: And then to clarify what we did earlier, it would appear that I had inverted a couple of exhibit numbers, correct?


FRANK: We have now straightened that out. Exhibits 53 and 54 are both parts of the Dragon Wok video. You have seen those, and they are, in fact, what was obtained from the Dragon Wok, correct?

REYERSON: Correct.

FRANK: And also Exhibit 55, is that a portion of the Dragon Wok video as well?


FRANK: And so, your Honor, just to be clear what we had initially offered as Exhibit 54 should actually be Exhibit 53. And we will declare the offer Exhibits 53, 54 and 55.



CAHILL: 53, 54 and 55 are received. FRANK: I don't intend to publish them at this time, your Honor.

CAHILL: OK. Anything that was not received is received but not published. Which one are you going to publish?

FRANK: We are not going to publish them.

CAHILL: Not going to, OK, thank you.

NELSON: Your honor, I am requesting permission to publish a portion of Exhibit 55. Agent Reyerson, you have had an opportunity to review the Dragon Wok surveillance video?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And there are portions of the video where Mr. Floyd is present, correct?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And it shows various interactions. But after Mr. Floyd leaves, there are other interactions between other people walking past. The camera continues to run the same perspective, correct?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: Your Honor, I would ask for permission to publish Exhibit 55, starting at the time stamp 20:38:48. And Agent Reyerson, I'm going to ask you to watch the area of the vehicles and the passengers in the vehicles.

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: Were you able to see?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: What does it appear that that individual does?

REYERSON: The individual in the red hat you're referring to?


REYERSON: It appears as though he throws something.

NELSON: So he's looking initially through the passenger -- or through the vehicle, looking in the area of the police officers, correct?

REYERSON: It appeared that way.

NELSON: It appears that he then reaches into his backpack and retrieves something?


NELSON: And it appears he then throws it off to his right -- right shoulder, right?

REYERSON: That's correct.

NELSON: And it appeared to go some distance away?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: Would that be consistent with someone trying to get rid of something that they don't want the police to find?

REYERSON: Could be, yes.

NELSON: I have no further questions.

CAHILL: Anything further.


CAHILL: All right. Thank you, agent. You may be excused from your stand. Thank you.

FRANK: The state would call McKenzie Anderson to the stand.

CAHILL: Raise your right hand. Do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony you're about to give will be the truth and nothing but the truth?


CAHILL: Have a seat, please. And if you would not mind, we would like to have you remove your mask for testimony.


CAHILL: And if you could begin by giving your full name and spelling each of your names.

ANDERSON: McKenzie Anderson. M-C-K-E-N-Z-I-E, A-N-D-E-R-S-O-N.

CAHILL: Mr. Frank.

FRANK: Thank you, your Honor. Can you tell us how you're currently employed?

ANDERSON: I work for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the Forensic Science Laboratory.

FRANK: So you are a scientist, a forensic scientist?

ANDERSON: I am a forensic scientist, yes.

FRANK: Can you describe for the jurors your educational background to be a forensic scientist?

ANDERSON: I have a bachelor's degree in forensic science from the University of North Dakota. And I have a Master of Forensic Science degree from George Washington University.

FRANK: So when did you achieve your Bachelor of Science degree in forensic science?


FRANK: And where from?

ANDERSON: University of North Dakota.

FRANK: You've said that already. And so you worked on a master's degree as well?


FRANK: And where did you get that from? George Washington?

ANDERSON: George Washington.

FRANK: And what year was that?


FRANK: So what kinds of things do you have to do to get a master's in forensic science?

ANDERSON: The coursework included criminal justice coursework, law courses, there was a lot of hands-on application of forensic practices, and my concentration was in forensic molecular biology, so there's a lot of coursework dedicated to DNA testing.

FRANK: And after you achieved your bachelor's degree in forensic science, and working on your master's, did you begin working in the field as well?


FRANK: Where did you initially start working in the field?

ANDERSON: I initially started working at a lab called Bode Technology, that was out in Virginia, it was a private forensic laboratory, and I did DNA testing while there.

FRANK: Prior to that did you have some experience with the BCA?

ANDERSON: Prior to that, I was an intern at the BCA, between my first and second year of graduate school.

FRANK: And what kind of work did you do during your internship?

ANDERSON: I did projects with our latent print section, also with the mitochondrial DNA section. They had to do with validating a new instrument that they were using at the time.

FRANK: So then you went to work at Bode Technology, which is B-O-D-E, correct? ANDERSON: Correct.

FRANK: And what did you do there?


ANDERSON: I started out working in the group called customized casework. I did a lot of technician work for them. After that, I moved to a role in their databasing unit. So I did convicted offender samples from a variety of states who contracted with that lab.

FRANK: And so at some point did you leave that lab, obviously?


FRANK: Where did you go?

ANDERSON: I started at the BCA in 2009, in October of 2009.

FRANK: And what job did you take at the BCA?

ANDERSON: I was hired on as a forensic scientist in the biology section.

FRANK: What does the biology section do?

ANDERSON: The biology section does DNA testing and body fluid identification, which is the identification of bodily fluids as it's relevant to a case and including sample collection from a variety of physical items of evidence that come into the lab for DNA testing.

FRANK: So when did you start doing that?

ANDERSON: I was hired in October of 2009.

FRANK: When you get that job for the BCA, was there some specific training that made you go through because you were hired by the BCA?


FRANK: Can you describe that for the jury?

ANDERSON: So the DNA training program takes about a year to complete. It starts with typically people start with that body fluid identification portion first. I'll get trained in that, and then they'll move on to DNA testing. So all of that training includes watching other scientists do their work, many practice samples, competency sets we need to do. We do written tests, oral tests before we are signed off and able to work independently and issue our own reports.

FRANK: So are you still working in the biology section?


FRANK: And at some point did you take on additional responsibilities at the BCA?

ANDERSON: Yes. In 2014 I joined our crime scene team.

FRANK: And have you been working on crime scene team since then?


FRANK: At some point did you become a crime scene team leader?

ANDERSON: Yes, I did, in 2016.

FRANK: We'll come back to that in a little bit. Are you a member of any professional organizations or affiliations?

ANDERSON: I am. I am a member of the Midwest Association of Forensic Scientists and also the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

FRANK: And so, we've heard a bit about the BCA, the different divisions they have. You're in the laboratory division, correct?

ANDERSON: Correct.

FRANK: Can you just describe for the jurors what all the laboratory does? Not in any great detail necessarily, but just to give an overview of what it does.

ANDERSON: The laboratory has a number of different sections that processes different types of evidence. These sections include DNA, drug chemistry, latent prints, firearms, toxicology, so depending on what the item of evidence it is, it gets routed to the appropriate section of the lab.

Sometimes there are items of evidence -- items that we work on in multiple sections of the lab. So it just kind of depends on what the request is and what the item of evidence is that we're working on.

FRANK: And is the crime scene team considered a separate section?


FRANK: Do you know how many crime scene teams there are?

ANDERSON: We have two main crime scene teams. We have a team down in St. Paul at our BCA headquarters. And then we have a second team up in our regional lab in Bemidgi.

FRANK: And so, when did -- you started working on a crime scene team in approximately, what did you say, 2014?


FRANK: And you became a team leader in 2016?

ANDERSON: Correct.

FRANK: Is there something you need to do to become a crime scene team leader?

ANDERSON: Yes. In order to join the crime scene team initially, there's a lot of training that we go through at the lab that includes, you know, lectures, and presentations, and hands-on practical exercises, oral boards in order to join the team.

To become a team leader, there is some additional training that we go through specifically that covers shooting scenery construction and bloodstain pattern analysis, which again comes with its own tests and oral boards before we're able to issue reports in those sections.

FRANK: So as you are working there now, you're in both sections.

BALDWIN: -- the medical piece of all of this, how did George Floyd die? We've had lawyers like Elie Honig coming on and saying ultimately the defense is going to try to show that George Floyd's cause of death was because of this drug overdose.

And the prosecution is saying, no, it's because of the knee on the neck, because of the former officer Derek Chauvin.

So we're watching it day eight here in Minneapolis. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. THE LEAD with Jake Tapper starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I am Jake Tapper.