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Rep. Gaetz Defiant In Face Of Sex Trafficking Probe & Calls To Resign; Second Week Of Testimony In Chauvin Murder Trial Comes To A Close; Medical Examiner: George Floyd's Death Was A Homicide; Fauci: No Cause For Concern Over Breakthrough COVID Cases; Firefighters Go "Beyond The Call Of Duty" To Vaccinate Homebound Seniors; Florida Sees Highest Rate Of COVID Variants In The U.S.; Production Problems Behind Drastic Drop In Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Supply. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired April 10, 2021 - 13:00   ET


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boehner writes, "There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless a -- hole who thinks he's smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz."


DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What he detested about Senator Cruz was this dramatic histrionic style that wasn't about legislating, but about scoring points in the media. And eventually, that is what led Boehner to move away.


TODD (on camera): We reached out to Senator Ted Cruz's office for a response to Boehner's book. They referred us to a tweet from Senator Cruz, implying that Boehner is obsessed with Cruz.

Cruz did joke about Boehner's criticism of him at a conservative conference in February, asking an audience who's John Boehner. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST (voice-over): And this quick, programming note. Former Senate majority leader Harry Reid join CNN's Jim Acosta later on today for a one-on-one interview. And you can watch that right here on CNN at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

WHITFIELD (on camera): Hi, hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right, we begin with new warnings from the CDC as cases of the coronavirus are on the rise, and Michigan is seeing the worst of it. The governor calling on the White House to provide her state with more vaccines to help stop the spread there. Michigan leads the nation in cases with a positivity rate now of 18 percent.

And there are new concerns this morning -- this afternoon rather, about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine the CDC is saying it's aware of adverse side effects now being reported in four states; dizziness, rapid breathing, and sweating seem to be the most common complaints. And now, Johnson and Johnson shots in some states are being put on hold. Despite that, the CDC is not recommending health departments stop administering any lots of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying, it has performed vaccine lot analysis and has not found any reason for concern.

As for families, the FDA is now considering whether to allow Pfizer to move ahead with vaccines for kids ages 12 to 15.

All right, let's first go to that hot spot of Michigan. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Detroit for us. So, Polo, what do officials there say is taking place and what's behind these new infections?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Fred, the governor of Michigan is actually using that term, hot spot, to describe what's happening right now in her home state. Saying that, unquestionably, this is the hardest-hit area in the United States right now when it comes to these COVID numbers that do continue to appear to rise, not only infections but also hospitalizations, especially, among some younger people here.

And that 18 percent figure that you mentioned a little while ago, that's key because that is four times higher than what officials here in Michigan were seeing about two months ago. Of course, we're talking about the test positivity rate that's 18 percent of COVID tests are coming back positive right now, and its number that it's alarmingly high.

And health officials are certainly seeing some of that at the hospitals. That we should mention that the numbers at the hospitals are still well below what we saw during the last wave in December and January, but nonetheless, some hospitals are already deciding to delay some of those non-emergency procedures.

Now, we should mention that is not out of any potential concerns over COVID infections at these hospitals, it's simply to try to devote more resources and more manpower to treating some of these patients, and getting them hopefully recovered and back home as soon as possible.

But add to that burden, the daily pediatric hospitalizations that have gone up to 237 percent in just the last two months, and that is why what we're seeing here in the State of Michigan is a serious push to address the concerns of young adults, for example, particularly teenagers, to try to get that vaccination.

Just last week, when we attended the church service here, the pastor told us that their message, they're aiming it at young parishioners right now that are expressing some hesitation or at least a more wait and see attitude in terms of getting vaccination, and pressing upon them the need to get that vaccination as soon as possible.

And then, just yesterday, we heard from Governor Whitmer who unveiled this list of recommendations, not requirements, for -- potentially, for high schools in the State of Michigan to resort back to remote learning, at least for the first couple of weeks after spring break. And also calling on youth leagues to go ahead and temporarily suspend any practices or games as well.

And as you're about to hear from the governor herself, even renewing that call on the Biden administration to increase the vaccine allotments here in the State of Michigan.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): I made the case for a surge strategy. At this point, that's not being deployed, but I am not giving up. Today, it's Michigan and the Midwest. Tomorrow, it could be another section of our country.


SANDOVAL: So, as the governor continues to try to call for the -- for the increase in that allotment, she's also calling on folks here in Michigan to try to avoid indoor dining, at least, for now, and instead, do the carry-out, instead do the outdoor dining, basically, what so many Americans have been doing for well over a year now.


WHITFIELD: That's right. We've all become accustomed to that. All right, thank you so much, Polo Sandoval. Appreciate that.

All right, let's talk more about all of this. Joining me right now is Dr. Lilian Abbo, she is the chief of infection prevention at Jackson Health System in Miami.

You're on the front lines in Florida, Dr. Abo. The CDC now says your state is seeing the highest number of the new variants of any state. So, what have you been experiencing there?

DR. LILIAN ABBO, CHIEF OF INFECTION PREVENTION, JACKSON HEALTH SYSTEM: Hi, good afternoon. What we have been seeing is a steady increase in the number of COVID variants across Miami-Dade County on the state of Florida.

We're sort of the United Nations of the COVID variants, and we're not only seeing the B117 which is the U.K. variant, but there are other variants of concern that continue to increase.

What this means for us is higher risk of transmission, and if people are not wearing masks, and engaging in low-risk behaviors, if people are taking high-risk behaviors and partying, we're seeing an increased number of transmissions, infections, and hospitalizations.

WHITFIELD: And then adding to the health officials concerns about these variants, a likely shortage in the Johnson and Johnson vaccine supply is now upon us next week. The number of shots allocated by the federal government is expected to fall by 84 percent because of a manufacturing delay. So, how much of an obstacle will that be for people in your area?

ABBO: Well, I think it's a barrier, but we have learned with this pandemic that you have to be nimble and you have to adapt rapidly. So, we're very fortunate to still have Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. And we -- and what I have been telling people all along that this is not the time to choose, I want this vaccine for convenience. This is the time to get vaccinated no matter what.

We're in the northern side of the hemisphere, we're in the U.S. We need to be brave and bold and we need to get vaccinated. Yes, Johnson is one dose, but we have Moderna and Pfizer are two doses with 90 percent efficacy. Go and get vaccinated.

WHITFIELD: And while there's some hope on the horizon with the potential availability of vaccines to young people, there's also the concern as it pertains to young people particularly the CDC is saying that children may be spreading it through after school activities like sports. And Florida saw an outbreak after a high school -- a wrestling tournament in December.

So, you know, as schools try to reopen, what is your thought process on the after-school sports activities. I mean, boy, these kids really need their outlets, but now when we hear about the CDC report, what are people to do? How are schools to plan?

ABBO: So, as a (INAUDIBLE) -- as a -- as a -- great question. As a physician and the mother of two teenagers, we all need that mental health release. Most kids are getting infected in the social activities engaged in those sports. So, they also do pizza parties and they all get together in one house, and they're all driving, and mom is doing carpooling in the same car with unmasked children.

So, it's not just the sport itself. I think people need to focus on what are the other social behaviors that come around playing those sports and competitions and driving 10 kids in a car all over the city.

So, I would encourage people to continue wearing your mask. If you're driving multiple kids in your car, lower the windows, do not recirculate the air conditioning, minimize the pizza parties and the social engagements, go get your sports activities, but try to really limit the potential transmission. These are highly transmissible variants and our kids are still those under the age of 16 are still not vaccinated.

So, we all as parents need to be responsible.

WHITFIELD: You break it down in a very common-sense way. Dr. Lilian Abbo, thank you so much out of Miami. Appreciate it.

ABBO: My pleasure, thank you.

WHITFIELD: So, as we mentioned, one in four American adults are fully vaccinated but there is still some hesitancy among many groups. CNN's Jason Carroll went to Maine to find out why people there are choosing not to vaccinate.


JEFF EDGECOMB, RESIDENT, MAINE: I've always stayed healthy, so, I mean, I don't get sick. I eat right, try to stick -- you know, take care of myself.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Health officials in Maine are desperately trying to reach people like Jeff Edgecomb, a 60-year-old truck driver who has been eligible to get the COVID vaccine for more than a month, but has no intention of getting one.

CARROLL (on camera): Do you have any concerns about coven being out there and not being vaccinated?

EDGECOMB: No, not really.

CARROLL (voice-over): Edgecomb is a supporter of former President Donald Trump. He is not alone in rejecting a COVID vaccination. A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows fewer than half of Republicans say they've gotten the vaccine or intend to do so as soon as possible. Compared with about eight in 10 Democrats and almost six in 10 Independents.

That vaccine hesitancy is happening despite many GOP leaders including former President Trump encouraging people to get vaccinated.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And so, everybody, go get your shot.

EDGECOMB: I'm not going to do it. I don't --


CARROLL (on camera): You still not going to do it.

EDGECOMB: No. I am the way I am, you know, that's how it is.

CARROLL (voice-over): Joy Gillespie, a part-time hospitality and medical worker, also says her mind is made up she will not roll up her sleeve for a shot.

JOY GILLESPIE, RESIDENT, MAINE: I think it's a medical and a political. I'm not -- I'm kind of like up and down with the government as it is, and I think that there's certain things that they put out. I don't think they even know.


CARROLL: Even though the vaccine has shown to be safe and effective, Gillespie thinks it was rushed and is concerned about possible long- term side effects.

GILLESPIE: I just have to watch, I guess, and pray that I don't get it.

CARROLL: Health officials in Maine are encouraged by a census survey in early March, showing four out of five unvaccinated adults in the state say they do plan to get the vaccine, one of the highest rates nationwide. But at the same time, acknowledge vaccine hesitancy could jeopardize their progress. The state's CDC director cautions it's not just politics keeping shots out of arms.

DR. NIRAV D. SHAH, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, MAINE: It's not a monolith. There's a diversity of views, some folks have questions because they are skeptical of the government. Other folks have questions because they are skeptical of pharmaceutical companies. Other folks have questions because they're skeptical of vaccines in general. And I think the trick that we as a public health community have to do is meet those folks where they are.

Androscoggin County has one of the highest percentages of positive COVID cases in the state. On this day, volunteers from a local health advocacy group are going door to door, urging Lewiston residents to sign up for the vaccination. They're targeting members of the immigrant community but they will engage with anyone.



SHIRE: You don't want to?


SHIRE: What if I tell you that it's medically proven, it's approved by the doctors. I got my shots, he got his shots.


SHIRE: All my team got their shots and I think it's safe.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I understand but I don't believe in it.

CARROLL: Health volunteers say conversations like this are not unusual.

CARROLL (on camera): Why the hesitancy you think?

SHIRE: Basically, it's something to do with conspiracy theories that's going around.

CARROLL (voice-over): The state is planning more outreach by mobilizing local doctors to address the concerns of those across the anti-COVID vaccine spectrum.

SHAH: They may not listen to me, they may not listen to someone in D.C., they may not listen to pharmaceutical company, but they will listen to their doctor.

CARROLL: Still, for some, there may be little convincing.

CARROLL (on camera): Is there anyone that could influence you perhaps to get the vaccine?


CARROLL (voice-over): Jason Carroll, CNN, Portland, Maine.


WHITFIELD: And tonight on CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta learns why some people are afraid of vaccine. CNN Special Report "THE TRUTH ABOUT VACCINES" airs tonight at 9:00 Eastern Time.

All right coming up, remembering Prince Philip. Funeral information just announced for the duke of Edinburgh. We'll have a reaction from Prince Charles straight ahead.

And then later, embattled U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz under investigation for alleged sex trafficking. But he's not going down without a fight. We'll talk about his fiery defense next.



WHITFIELD: All right, the royal family confirming just a short time ago that Prince Harry will return to the U.K. for the funeral of his grandfather Prince Philip who died yesterday at the age of 99.

Meghan is not expected to attend the service which will be held next Saturday in Windsor.

CNN's Max Foster is with me now. And so, Max, I also understand that Prince Charles just spoke. What did he say?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, so we haven't heard from other members of the family. There was a brief statement from the Sussex's yesterday, but apart from that, we haven't really heard from any of the children or indeed the queen in a more formal statement.

So, Prince Charles really speaking in the last 10 minutes or so for the family and particularly the children.


PRINCE CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: My dear papa because was a -- was a very special person who I think above all else would have been amazed by the reaction and the touching things that had been said about him. And from that point, were we are my family deeply grateful for all that it will sustain us in this particular loss, and at this particularly sad time.


FOSTER: There really has been an outpouring of sympathy particularly for the queen, it has to be said, Fredricka, but it's muted. It's difficult. I've just had a statement from the government asking people not to turn up at Windsor Castle, not to lay flowers which is so concerned about the pandemic and making things worse there.

But they're trying to encourage people to go online and, you know, add comments to these online condolence books, but people want to express themselves too. It's difficult.

WHITFIELD: Oh, I'm sure. And people want to go to Buckingham Palace because people, when they go, they're always hopeful, you know, they might see something that is in the form of communication if not an actual person of the royal family, but, you know, something that would convey how people are feeling, particularly, the queen. And the two of them, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were married for 73 years.

Talk to us about their relationship and how she has, you know, conveyed her grief in that statement.

FOSTER: Yes, so, we had a brief statement when, you know, the death was announced, and that was on behalf of the queen. And they were really waiting to hear something more from her, obviously, in her own time.

And it was interesting to see how, you know, she would have had to give clearance to this. The Buckingham Palace put out a tweet where they went back to a quote, a very famous quote where she describes Phillip as her strength and stay.

And I think that's very telling. I think that, that quote pretty much speaks for how the queen is feeling right now. So, simply, "my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many countries owe him a great debt greater than he would ever claim, or shall -- we shall ever know."

And she's really speaking that his contribution to the monarchy and to the U.K. and to the commonwealth, he never wanted any fuss. So, actually, this more muted funeral probably suits him in a way as well. So, I don't think anyone feels that he's not going to be honored on Saturday.


WHITFIELD: It's really lovely just looking at those pictures as well. All right, Max Foster, thank you so much.

All right, still ahead, U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz on defense and firing back against a sex trafficking investigation. Could he hurt his case by talking publicly? My legal panel weighs in next.


WHITFIELD: In a fiery defense of his reputation Friday night, embattled Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz claims he is the victim of an orchestrated witch hunt.


[13:24:59] REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): They lie about me because I tell the truth about them, and I'm not going to stop. So, when you see the leaks and the lies and the falsehoods, and the smears. When you see the anonymous sources and insiders forecasting my demise, know this, they aren't really coming for me, they're coming for you.


GAETZ: I'm just in the way.


WHITFIELD: Gaetz is currently under federal investigation over allegations that include sex trafficking and prostitution.

Joining me right now to discuss, Shan Wu, a defense attorney, and a former federal prosecutor. And Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor, and former justice department official.

Good to see both of you.


WHITFIELD: All right, Shan, you first, you know, when you have a federal investigation, reports of evidence, including Apple pay, Venmo, and allegations of prostitution, I mean, how much trouble potentially is Congressman Gaetz in?

WU: He's in a lot of trouble. That kind of evidence is not the sort of evidence you can just talk away through posturing. There is going to be actual documents, financial records indicating where he went, corroborating the probable testimony of these victims of the potential sex trafficking allegations.

So, this is going to be very difficult evidence to refute, no amount of hot air is going to just do it by itself.

WHITFIELD: Michael, Congressman Gaetz, I mean, he's very defiant. He's going in front of cameras. He's on stage at events there. Do you see this potentially backfiring on him?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if he says anything that is incriminating or can be thought to be incriminating if he ever gets to a trial, then, sure, mostly, as I was the defense attorney, I would say to my clients please be quiet, but he's taking his cue out of the Donald Trump playbook.

And he is -- you know, as you saw in the clip, he's saying they're coming for you, this is not about me, this is about us, the movement. And that's fine to fundraising --


WHITFIELD: Yes, we've heard that refrain before.

ZELDIN: Yes. He's -- he -- and he's -- he said a million fundraising letters off the back of this. So, you know, it's fine as a media strategy, but it won't help him as a trial defense strategy where he charged with any of the charges that are in the news today.

WHITFIELD: Shan, Congressman Gaetz, you know, he's been speaking out since the day The New York Times, you know, broke the story about the investigation. Listen to what he had to say.


GAETZ: I can say that actually you and I went to dinner about two years ago. Your wife was there and I brought a friend of mine, you'll remember her, and she was actually threatened by the FBI. Told that if she wouldn't cop to the fact that somehow I was involved in some pay- for-play scheme, that she could face trouble.

And so, I do believe that there are people at the Department of Justice who are trying to smear me, you know, providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you're dating who are of legal age is not a crime.

And I'm just troubled that the lack of any sort of legitimate investigation into me would then permute, would then convert into this extortion attempt.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, FOX NEWS: I don't remember the woman you're speaking of, or the context at all, honestly.


WHITFIELD: All right. So, Shan, just listening to all that Gaetz, you know, spit out aside from, you know, Tucker Carlson there, Gaetz believes this is advantageous for him to state it in that manner. Is it?

WU: No, it's terribly disadvantageous. To Michael's point, he is actually incriminating himself. He's basically admitting that there are women that he may have given gifts to, that he paid, so it's a terrible statement to make. And it's -- yes, he either has really bad legal counsel or he's refusing to listen to it because that's exactly the kind of thing you don't want your client out there talking about.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And then, Michael, you know, an attorney for a Joel Greenberg, a central figure in this ongoing investigation into Congressman Gaetz says his client will likely strike a deal with federal prosecutors that seems pretty potentially devastating for Gaetz. Is it not?

ZELDIN: If the deal involves cooperation. Many defendants plead guilty to a plea bargain that doesn't involve cooperation. If Greenberg has something incriminating to say about Gaetz, that is his greatest leverage to get himself out from under what is a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for the sex trafficking activity. And so, if he can --

(CROSSTALK) WHITFIELD: And then, what did he deal unless there was that, right? I mean, they're not going to want to cut a deal unless there is something incriminating.

ZELDIN: Well, not always, Fred. If you are facing a 33 count indictment, and that trial could take weeks, and the defendant is going to plead guilty to some lesser amount that gets you what you want as a prosecutor, those plea deals take place all the time.


In this case, Joel Greenberg's latest lifeline is if he can testify up against Gaetz or anybody else that the investigation involves.

Remember, this investigation is supposedly a broader investigation than just Matt Gaetz and Joel Greenberg. So we have to see what Greenberg knows, what he can say.

And to Shan's point, how it can be documented. Because you don't want to go to trial on the word of Joel Greenberg alone.

WHITFIELD: Shan, how do you see it?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I agree. Although I really think, judging from the lawyer's remarks for Greenberg, he is going to cooperate.

And I think one important context, Fred, is the Epstein case. Because the Justice Department has messed this up once before, letting a sex trafficker go with just a slap on the wrist.

They're not going to let that happen again. This is a different environment than it was before.

The testimony of any of these complainants, particularly the underaged minor, is going to be devastating.

This is a new time. We care about victims. And I think that is going to be the biggest problem for Gaetz.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh, I'm glad you brought that up. I'm telling you, at the beginning of reading things on this story, it sure made me think about the Epstein case in south Florida, and how that evolved.

We'll leave it there. Thank you so much. We will talk again soon. Michael, Shan, thank you very much.

We'll will talk about the second week of the damaging testimony of the prosecution witnesses in this case.



WHITFIELD: All right, the second week of testimony in the trial over the death of George Floyd was powerful. The Hennepin County chief medical examiner saying the strength was

more than Floyd's heart could take as former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee on his neck last year.

The prosecution shifting focus to the specific cause of Floyd's death as the defense argued that Floyd died of a drug overdose and pre- existing health conditions.


JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Those other pre-existing conditions are not conditions that you consider direct causes, is that true?

DR. ANDREW MICHAEL BAKER, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST & CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER, HENNEPIN COUNTY: They are not direct causes of Mr. Floyd's death, that's true. They're contributing causes.

BLACKWELL: And in terms of manner of death, you found then, and then you stand by today, that the manner of death of Mr. Floyd was, as you would call it, homicide?

BAKER: Yes, I would still classify it as a homicide today.


WHITFIELD: Ben Crump, the attorney representing George Floyd's family, joined me in the last hour, saying that Derek Chauvin's actions are all that matters.


BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR THE FAMILY OF GEORGE FLOYD: We just have to remain focused on what we saw on that video of Derek Chauvin putting his knee on George Floyd's neck for 9:29.

The only thing that killed George Floyd Jr was an overdose of excessive force.


WHITFIELD: Back with me now, Shan Wu, defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, and Michael Zeldin, former federal prosecutor and Justice Department official.

Glad you're back with me.

Michael, can it get any more damning for the defendant from the medical examiner to renowned pulmonologists, George Floyd died of homicide because of the officer's knee to the neck. That was their testimony.

How will and can the defense dispute this, change the minds, perhaps, influence the jurors?

ZELDIN: I think what the defense is really stuck with at this point is trying to get the lesser charge of manslaughter, that is culpable negligence creating an unreasonable risk of injury to Floyd.

What the prosecutor is really going for is the murder charges, which is purposefully engaging in activity that would likely cause the results either through a deprived mind or other sort of felonious act while committing an assault.

So I think you have a battle here. Because I don't think you can really defend Chauvin's actions on the merits as much as you have to, at this point, in my mind, go for the lesser-included offense of manslaughter.

WHITFIELD: And, Shan, the defense is also going to try to paint a different picture of the victim, George Floyd, trying to blame drug use for his death.

Listen to this testimony from one of the expert witnesses.


DR. LINDSEY THOMAS, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: It was not the type of death that has been reported in a Fentanyl overdose.

For example, where someone becomes very sleepy and then just sort of gradually, calmly, peacefully stops breathing. This was not that kind of a death.

The activities of the law enforcement officers resulted in Mr. Floyd's death. And that specifically those activities were the subdual of a restraint and neck compression.


WHITFIELD: So we heard from the family attorney, Ben Crump, earlier, who said, Shan, that they are expecting the defense will try to take the direction of George Floyd's death.

Because of pre-existing conditions, because of his life and habits, but not because of what that officer did.

WU: I think that is what the defense is trying to do. I think right now they're going to have a very uphill battle trying to take on the medical testimony directly. They have to be a little bit nuanced about it.

To Michael's point, what they have to do is try to move this into reckless negligence, into that arena. And there's room for that.

Even in Dr. Baker's testimony, where he clarifies it's really the police actions that was too much for Mr. Floyd, well, it's too much in the context of his underlying conditions.

So they can focus on that and try to make the point Chauvin didn't know about those underlying conditions. He's stressed from the crowd and he can't be held accountable for the death that happened.

[13:40:06] But let's remember that the proposed jury instructions are not going to require the prosecution prove that Chauvin's actions were the only cause of death.

It's probably going to be a substantial contribution to it. They've already made that.

So I think they really just have to try to tamp it down as much as possible to make light of the fact, bring into the light that Chauvin couldn't have known about these underlying conditions, and try going that direction.

WHITFIELD: Michael, will the defense try to establish that perhaps Chauvin didn't even know that the method he was using was lethal.

And if you try to make that argument, how do you do that without putting Derek Chauvin on the stand himself?

Doesn't he also have to express or explain the fear that his attorneys say that he felt as a result of a crowd forming?

ZELDIN: It's a defense attorney's nightmare. Chauvin, in some sense, has to take the stand to articulate that -- his state of mind and that he wasn't intending to kill George Floyd.

But that the circumstances that surrounded him caused him to behave in this way, and this way was reasonable.

But in some sense, it's the last person you want on the stand if you're the defense attorney because he's so vulnerable to the withering attack of nine minutes-plus on a person's neck, several minutes of which occurred when the person was essentially unconscious.

And remember, in this case, the prosecutor doesn't need to prove that Chauvin intended to kill Floyd. He has to only prove that his actions resulted in Floyd's death and those actions were unreasonable or were the result of a deprived mind.

And I think they've done that so far.

WHITFIELD: And, Shan, all of those descriptions, people can't forget George Floyd was handcuffed.

And so you have to wonder whether the defense now is at all worried about its case and is considering some sort of plea.

I mean, it just seems to get worse by the moment, based on the prosecution witnesses, which have been very strong be very damning.

Do you believe that they are seriously considering, right now, whether a plea is something they need to be discussing seriously?

WU: If I were them, I would be considering that. But I'm not really seeing any signs of a crack in his defense counsel's view on this.

He's just kind of like plotting forward doing the same things he was doing before.

He's going to have to really up his game some here if he's going to exploit some of the possible nuances in Dr. Baker's testimony.

I don't know if --

WHITFIELD: You're talking about the -- Eric Nelson --

WU: -- that he's going to be able to do that.

WHITFIELD: -- the defense attorney, you mean?

WU: Yes. Yes. I think, for the prosecution's offer of plea mid-trial, they're going to extract a heavy price for that.

I mean, when I was a prosecutor, I'm not going to offer you a good deal now that I'm already in trial and I'm doing well.

So they're not going to give him some third-degree manslaughter-type charge if they're going to plea him out in the middle of the trial. So I think that's unlikely to happen.

WHITFIELD: Shan Wu, Michael Zeldin, good to see you both. Thank you so much.

ZELDIN: Good to see you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Still to come, firefighters going "BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY" to fight coronavirus.



WHITFIELD: Dr. Anthony Fauci said he isn't surprised that the so- called breakthrough COVID-19 cases are happening in parts of the U.S.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: That number of individuals who are breakthrough infections is not at all incompatible with a 90-plus vaccine efficacy.

So I don't think that there needs to be concern about any shift or change in the efficacy of the vaccine.


WHITFIELD: Out of the millions of people who have been vaccinated against the virus, a few people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have still been infected with the virus and, in some cases, have died.

In clinical trials, both Moderna and Pfizer were found to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infections. And recent studies, under real-world conditions, have shown very similar numbers. Some seniors in southern California are getting their shot in the arm

from local firefighters who are going "BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY" to ensure they are fully vaccinated.

Here's CNN's Stephanie Elam.


UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: Are you ready for your vaccine?



ELAM: -- vaccine means freedom.



ELAM: Now thanks to her local firefighters, that's about to change.

STEPHEN ELLIOTT, FIREFIGHTER/PARAMEDIC, GLENDALE FIRE DEPARTMENT: The citizens we serve are like our family and seeing the toll it took on them was pretty tough.

ELAM: Glendale Fire Department, in partnership with Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital, is offering free at-home vaccinations for residents 65 and older who may need help.

SILVIO LANZAS, CHIEF, GLENDALE FIRE DEPARTMENT: It makes sense to use Johnson & Johnson for this effort. We come to your home one time. Each team has three people, two fire department employees and then a nurse.

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: It's just going to be a little shot here.

ELAM: Finding innovative ways to care for their community is what Glendale Fire does.


ELAM: Last year, just as the pandemic began --

LANZAS: -- for food, medications or other special needs --

ELAM: -- the chief asked the city's senior citizens to stay at home and let the firefighters do their grocery shopping.


LANZAS: We made a connection with them. We want to get vaccine into them to get back to do all of those type of things to be somewhat normal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The vaccines are going to be in transport cases. ELAM: An important step for a city slammed by the pandemic.

SCOTT MONLENBICK, CAPTAIN, GLENDALE FIRE DEPARTMENT: It is something that I have not seen in my career.

It is extremely emotional, call after call, going on patients that were really sick.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has been waiting to get his vaccine.

ELAM: With a shot in his arm, 69-year-old Nelson Navarro feels safer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the city of Glendale to come here, it is a huge, huge service for us.


SHAW: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's it. You are all done.

SHOW: You are kidding?

ELAM (on camera): Now that you have got your shot, what is Ms. Lili going to do?

SHAW: I wish I could drive to Malibu.

ELAM (voice-over): Seeing people past the pandemic is the payoff for the firefighters.

MONLENBICK: It is really enjoyable for my heart and my head to be in the front of it.

LANZAS: It is at the core of what we do, saving people's lives. And this vaccine is saving people's lives.

ELAM: Giving residents their freedom back one house call and one shot at a time.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Glendale, California.


WHITFIELD: Still to come, a mother goes after the Ku Klux Klan after her son was lynched. We will take a look at the power and impact of the KKK, next.



WHITFIELD: Authorities on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent say they have recorded a third volcanic explosion.

Stunning pictures from the island show massive plumes of ash shooting more than two miles into the air on Friday.

No injuries have been reported but residents are being warned about serious health risks. And they are being ordered out of the red zone of the volcano.

Some cruise lines are sending ships to the island to help with any evacuations there.

The Centers for Disease Control says racism in America is a public health epidemic, and perhaps nothing is more symbolic of racism than the Ku Klux Klan.

And CNN's Joe Johns has a closer look at its impact and influence on other white supremist groups.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fliers invoking the name of the Ku Klux Klan, promoting a White Lives Matter rally in Huntington Beach this weekend, have been showing up in southern California neighborhoods.

DEVIN GEORGE, NEWPORT BEACH RESIDENT: I moved from the south specifically for those reasons, because you are experiencing a lot of things like that. And I don't want to experience it here.

JOHNS: The mayor and city council members denouncing the fliers in a public meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: We are not a place of hate.

JOHNS: But the First Amendment limits what local leaders can do.

KATRINA FOLEY, ORANGE COUNTY SUPERVISOR: We can't stop people from speaking. It is rooted in American values. But what we can do is we can express an opposition.

JOHNS: Groups that track extremism say there's been a mass increase in dissemination of white supremacist propaganda. In 2020, more than ever previously recorded in a single year.

There are many likely reasons, including anti-immigrant sentiment, former President Trump's attitude toward white nationalism and his big lie that the election was stolen, as well as inciting fear.

MARGARET HUANG, PRESIDENT, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: It is not about organizing people to join them. It is very much about frightening the residents and making them feel unsafe in their communities.

JOHNS: One surprising fact, experts agree the influence of the Klan has diminished in the recent years despite its long history of hate. (on camera): In 2020, the Klan's total number of propaganda

distributions in the U.S. only amounted to about 2 percent of all such events, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which says the propaganda surge in this country is being fueled by other organizations.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Extremist energy is moving toward other groups.

JOHNS (voice-over): And that energy is potentially dangerous.

The U.S. director of National Intelligence reported last month that racially or ethnically motivated extremists and militias present "the most lethal domestic violence extremist threat."

And "are most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians, law enforcement and government personnel."


JOHNS: As we saw with the violent assault on the U.S. capitol on January 6th.


JOHNS: And just like with the insurrection, a lot of this propaganda gets shared on the Internet.

Though, more recently, many groups have started to limit their postings on social media and now favor encrypted messenger services.

Where information about the advertised White Lives Matter even in Huntington Beach this weekend and possibly other cities have been circulated.

GREENBLATT: Sometimes these individuals or these so-called groups, they kind of posture in these messaging channels, right, in these group chats.

Nothing really comes to fruition. On the other hand, sometimes they do.

JOHNS (on camera): Experts in law enforcement say they will be watching very closely.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.



WHITFIELD: And tomorrow night, CNN's new original series, "THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE KLAN," takes a revealing look at the story of Michael Donald, a 19-year-old black man, who was killed and lynched by the Klan in 1981.

Donald's mother, Beulah Mae, fought a heroic battle to bring her son's killers to justice, essentially bankrupting the Klan.