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CDC Warns Of Surging Cases Even With 68 Million Americans Vaccinated; Medical Examiner Tells Jury George Floyd's Death Was A Homicide; Gaetz Defiant In Face Of Sex Trafficking Probe & Calls To Resign; Interview With Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX); Fox Facing Calls To Fire Tucker Carlson After He Spreads Anti-Immigrant "Replacement Theory". Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 10, 2021 - 16:00   ET


JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: And you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.


We begin this hour with troubling proof that even as vaccinations ramp up, we are not out of this pandemic yet. Not by a long shot. More than 68 million Americans are now fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, and yet Dr. Fauci and other experts are sounding the alarm about an uptick in new infections.

On Friday alone, over 80,000 new cases were reported nationally the seven-day average climbing steadily following a month's long decline.

Hospitals in Michigan may be forced to delay or reschedule nonemergency procedures on a case-by-case basis because of the surge. The state leading the nation in infections with the positivity rate of 18 percent. The governor there now begging the White House for more vaccines in an effort to stem the surge.

And CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Detroit for us right now.

And, Polo, the governor says that the state is unquestionably a national hot spot right now, those were her words. What steps are being taken to get this outbreak under control? It is starting to look very serious.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Jim, we can continue to borrow some of the words used by health officials here in Michigan and describe the local public health system as, quote, overwhelmed. That's according to state's chief medical officer that brought us up to speed just not too long ago here, especially just yesterday, telling us that right now, they're tracking close to 1,000 outbreaks throughout the state.

You mentioned that crucial number right now, about 18 percent of COVID tests right now are coming back positive, which is four-times higher than where these numbers were in February. And there's concern here in Michigan that the way these numbers are going, then they could potentially surpass some of the numbers that we saw last spring. But back to those outbreaks that state health officials are monitoring, not just those roughly 1,000 across the state, but about 291 of those outbreaks have actually been linked to youth sports. So, that's why yesterday, we heard from Governor Whitmer a long list of recommendations, not requirements, but recommendations including that high school return to remote learning for a couple of weeks after spring break, but also some of those youth sports suspend practice or also some games at least for the next couple of weeks because they say that those numbers of those outbreaks are concrete proof that that is leading to some transmission especially among young adults.

And then, of course, you also have the potential of getting a surge in vaccinations here which Governor Whitmer is trying to get or trying to convince the Biden administration to significantly increase the amount of vaccinations here but so far no luck.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: 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: Now, we have heard from multiple experts as well speaking to that point that the governor touched on right now, that perhaps not all states should receive the same amount of vaccines, instead that the federal government should consider where their COVID numbers are, which if we look at them, Jim, Michigan is certainly ahead of the pack sadly here and they want to bring those numbers down.

And finally, another key recommendation that the governor laid out yesterday is for people to stop indoor dining at least for now, instead stick to outdoor dining, stick to takeout while they try to bring these numbers back down.

But, look, there's also some criticism I'm hearing on the ground that many people wish they would have seen this as a mandate versus a simple recommendation. But the way the governor says is she doesn't believe that policy won't get things in the right direction. It will be vaccinations, including the ones that are being administered at mass vaccinations like the location you see behind me.

ACOSTA: Right, lockdowns are no good if they're going to be ignored and the governor knows that.

Polo Sandoval, some hearts and minds need to be changed in the middle of this pandemic so we can get it over with. Polo, thanks so much.

Joining us now is CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore health commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen. And she's also the author of an upcoming book, "Lifeline: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health".

And, Dr. Wen, it's great to see you always. When you look at what's happening in Michigan and other hard-hit

states, what needs to happen right now to help bring these cases under control? I mean, 80,000 cases yesterday, even with these vaccines going up. It just doesn't make any sense.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, Jim, we are trending in the wrong direction. We're clearly in the middle of a fourth surge here and what's happening in Michigan, in Minnesota, other places will soon spread to the rest of the country because of this more contagious B.1.1.7 variant. B.1.1.7, the variant from the U.K., has become dominant here in the U.S. It's in all 50 states.

As the CDC predicted two months ago, it is the dominant strain. It's now crowded out all of the other variants and this one is more transmissible. It's more virulent, younger people are becoming infected with it.

The activities that we thought were relatively safer before because it's more contagious, people are now getting it, even with the activities that otherwise they might have gotten rid with it in the past.


And so, I think the governor of Michigan is right that policy alone is not going to do the job because you can imagine you can ban indoor dining but if people are going to be gathering indoors in their homes to have dinner, that's not really much, that's hurting the economy without actually getting this under control.

So, I think that what needs to happen, places that don't have mask mandates absolutely must have them and we have to send a strong, unequivocal message, get vaccinated. Until you're vaccinated, do not gather indoors with individuals and stay away from crowded indoors places until you are fully vaccinated.

ACOSTA: And, Doctor, you know, more than 68 million Americans are fully vaccinated and that's a great number, it's great news. But as vaccinations continue, there's this debate over whether or not proof of immunization should be required in the form of a so-called vaccine passport. You think that's kind of a misleading term.

I read your op-ed in "The Washington Post". You say we need to stop using that phrase. Explain that for us.

WEN: Well, vaccine passport, that terminology is divisive, it is polarizing and it's actually just inaccurate because when you think of passport, generally, we think about a government ID, like a driver's license, and you need to show this in order to get certain societal benefits. You would be restricted from certain freedoms if you don't have it.

That's really not what people are proposing when we're talking about proof of vaccination. Actually, this is more similar to a health screen. Right now, if you want to go to a doctor or a dentist, you have to fill out a symptom questionnaire. Maybe you get your temperature check at the door, maybe you even have to get a rapid test.

The vaccine -- proof of vaccine is actually something like. Now, maybe you don't have to do all those other things if you can show that you are now fully vaccinated. What I find really troubling is that there are government officials, governors that are saying private businesses aren't allowed to enforce their own rules when business identities are trying to innovate so they can keep their customers, they can give their customers peace of mind.

And I think it's actually government over-reach when governors are not allowing private entities do their part to help their customers.

ACOSTA: Yeah. I mean, maybe we should think of it as an EZ-pass or a fast pass. It will us get us into the events that we want to go to if we have been vaccinated. I mean, I go to the airport. I have a TSA precheck number. I get to go around the big line, because I've been screening in advance.

But anyway, let's move on to this next question. Yesterday, Pfizer requested an amendment to its emergency use authorization of its vaccine to expand use in kids ages 12 to 15 in the U.S. Is that a good idea as we're seeing this surge in cases and as you were just saying, a surge in cases among young people?

WEN: Absolutely. This is extremely promising. Pfizer last week announced they have data showing that for 12-year-old to 15-year-olds that the vaccine that they have safe with no adverse concerning safety signals and very effective. So far, it looks like it's 100 percent effective in this group they're studying.

And so, I think this will be excellent because we know older children transmit the virus similar to adults. They transmit more than younger children do. We know that older children, just like all children can get ill. And so, having the vaccine will be able to protect them.

But also very importantly, if we have any chance of reaching herd immunity, we also need to have our children to able to have some level of protection as well. So, I'm very optimistic about this. I think it will be a game-changer if high school-aged students are able to be vaccinated before next school year.

ACOSTA: Yeah. That would be amazing.

And, Dr. Wen, before I let you go, a nurse in Brazil, you got to see this, is going viral for a technique she came up which she calls the little hand method where she used gloves filled with warm water to heat the hands of her COVID patients to properly measure their oxygen levels, she came up with the idea when treating a patient whose hand was too cold.

What's your reaction to that? Could this be used here?

WEN: We have a lot of methods here to accurately measure the oxygen level especially in critically ill patient. But I think that all of these innovations, we're seeing so many examples of innovations in therapies, among frontline workers who have had to take care of patients under really difficult circumstances.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. Lot of professionals have had to be very creative all of this.

Dr. Leana Wen, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate your insights as always.

Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, you have to join him on a journey to learn to why some people are afraid of vaccines. This new CNN special report, "The Truth About Vaccines", begins tonight at 9:00. You don't want to miss it.

And in the trial of Derek Chauvin this week, filled with testimony from medical and law enforcement officials, why their testimony may be damming for the defense.


That's next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


ACOSTA: The country has been living through another week of gut- wrenching testimony in the trial of former Police Officer Derek Chauvin. The prosecution this week had its witnesses walk us through George Floyd's torturous final minutes of life, we heard from both medical examiner who conducted Floyd's autopsy, as well as forensic pathologist. But perhaps the most gripping testimony came from a renowned pulmonary expert. Together, the three delivered some damning testimony.


DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONARY EXPERT: From the right image, you see his knuckle against the tire. And to most people, this doesn't look terribly significant, but to a physiologist, this is extraordinary significant because this tells you that he has used up his resources and he's now literally trying to breathe with his fingers and knuckles.


DR. ANDREW BAKER, HENNEPIN COUNTY CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER: Mr. Floyd's use of fentanyl did not cause the neck restraint. His heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint.

In my opinion, the law enforcement subdual restraint and the neck compression is just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions.

DR. LINDSEY THOMAS, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: There's no evidence to suggest he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement.


ACOSTA: And joining us, former Detroit police chief, Isaiah McKinnon, and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.

Joey, do you think the prosecution got what they needed from its witnesses this week to convince the jury that Derek Chauvin's knee to George Floyd's neck is what caused his death? I mean, this was just devastating testimony.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Jim, good to be with you. Good to be with you, Jim.

I don't think there's any question about that. I think we have to back up from the medical testimony and look first to the use of force testimony. In looking at that, what you're looking at is whether or not the force was objectively reasonable, right? Remember, that's the first pillar of the case, Jim, establishing that, there was no objectable -- objective reasonableness with respect to Chauvin and Floyd.

Well, what does that mean in English before pivoting to the medical testimony? It means that, number one, you assess the severity of the crime. Here, we're talking about a counterfeit $20 bill presumably. So, that's not really responding to something of high significance.

Then you look at the immediacy of the threat. I think if you look at the videotape, there came a point in time where any reassessment, reasonable reassessment by Chauvin would have established that he was compliant, right, whether that was because he could no longer control or under control.

Look, the fact is that he was compliant. So, the immediacy of the threat you assess, and then you look to see if the force was proportionate to the threat. I mean, we could all draw our conclusions. It appeared not. And then, finally, you look at the level of resistance and it was non-existent.

So, when you have chiefs and everyone else coming on the stand and saying, look, we're about the sanctity of life and we're about everything else, and this wasn't it. That was damning.

Pivoting quickly, Jim, to the medical testimony, wow, the defense is trying to say it was COVID. It was hypertension. It was heart disease. It was 90 percent blockage of his arteries, it was everything, and fentanyl, it was methamphetamine. It was everything else.

But I think it's important to understand the rules of engagement here and very briefly, those rules, Jim, suggest that all the prosecution has to do was establish that the knee on the neck was a substantial cause, not the only cause with regard to the death. And so, although there's other contributing factors, they don't carry the day.

If the prosecution shows as I think they did very compellingly that the knee on the neck was a substantial factor, then I think you think the matter is pretty close, and the matter is, you know, pretty well- established. ACOSTA: And I want to play more from Dr. Martin Tobin. This was just

ordinary testimony. He was a renowned pulmonary expert. Let's listen to this testimony.


TOBIN: When you last take of breath, the knee remains on the neck for another 3 minutes and 27 seconds, after he takes his last breath, the knee remains. After there's no pulse, the knee remains on the neck for another 2 minutes and 44 seconds. After the officers have found themselves there's no pulse, the knee remains on the neck another 2 minutes 44 seconds.


ACOSTA: And, Chief McKinnon, I mean, as a former police chief can you think of a scenario in which an officer needs to kneel on the neck of someone who didn't have a pulse.

ISAIAH MCKINNON, FORMER DETROIT POLICE CHIEF: You know, I've been around for a long time, I've been in law enforcement since 1965. I've never, ever seen a situation of this sort. The world saw a man die on TV. I mean, not like the TV stories, but for nine and half minutes, a man held his knee on a person's neck.

What stands out to me in this is that I was shouted by a federal officer in 1967 during the rebellion year, and I was beaten up by a police in 19 -- when I was 14 years old. The same look that that officer had on his face is the same that those officers had when they were doing that to me. I've never seen anything like that.

And, secondly, I had never seen a chief, a commander, lieutenant, and everyone else, it seems like everyone in the department was saying, those guys are wrong. So I'm hoping that the jury will say, look, this is -- this is really something.

This is truly unusual that the entire department, that the entire command of the department is saying these officers -- this officer was wrong and what I think this attorney is trying to do is have a one person say that, well, no, the officer did his job. There's no such thing. He did not do his job.

ACOSTA: I mean, I just think that's extraordinary, too, the number of law enforcement officials in that department testifying in this case. You just never see that. I mean, this is not a code of silence at all that we're seeing in this trial.


And, Joey, we're told that during Tobin's testimony jurors were engaged, and taking notes. They watched every video, picture, and graphic that was showed. They even followed the instructions to touch their own neck and feel different parts of their throat.

What does that tell you? It seems to indicate that the jury is just riveted by what they're seeing. JACKSON: Yeah. You know, Jim, there's no question about that. I think

you have to evaluate the medical testimony in context with what the charges are, and what we're facing. And if you look at the medical testimony, there were demonstrable exhibits.

What that means, there were exhibit that we're put together for purposes of aiding the jury to understand when the breathing stopped, what the prone position, that is face down, right, chest to the ground, what it means, how it restricts breathing, how breathing could be eased when put on the side.

So, when you look at the charges, I think the testimony of Tobin in addition to the other witnesses went to those three charges and if you assessed them, you have enough considering the medical testimony for the assault. What is that significant, Jim, because if you can establish an assault and as a result of that assault is a death, that gets you second-degree murder, punishable by 40 years.

But let's just say that the jury is not convinced to the assault, Tobin's testimony and the other medical testimony also established inhumanity. It established depravity. It established, how could you? It established depravation of alcohol, that gets you or -- excuse me, of oxygen. That gets you, the depravity charges, which is third-degree murder, and, finally, right, 25 years.

And then to last charge which is manslaughter in the second degree, say the jury doesn't buy any of that, Jim, right, but they say, look, there's rules, policies, regulations and procedures. He's a 19-year veteran. He's charged every year with regard to this training and going and knowing, isn't he at least negligent? If you could establish death in the face of negligence, that gets you to manslaughter.

So, I think it was a very compelling week for the prosecution and I think they established their case in a very, you know, sensible, organized and structured way.

ACOSTA: And, Chief, there was a moment where Dr. Tobin talked about how dangerous it is to believe someone just because they can talk that they can breathe. Do you think that's a common misconception?

MCKINNON: There's no question. Look, I think first of all, I think Joey would be great to do closing arguments for the prosecution here in all of the things he said. But I think that, as I said before, the defense is looking for one person on that jury, because see, there's no question he's not going to have everyone, probably.

But one person to say, well, the officer was doing his job. I think when you have that doctor and everyone else who says this was wrong, let's go through this step-by-step. And, you know, their people have come to me and said, what was on that officer's mind? How could you do something like that?

And I think that most people are thinking that way when they see something like that or saw exactly what occurred there, a person died and the officer appeared to not care at all. It dehumanized George Floyd. ACOSTA: All right, Chief McKinnon, Joey Jackson. Thanks so much for

joining us. Great conversation. We appreciate it. We'll see you again soon.

Coming up, a Florida congressman doubles down and strikes a defiant tone to a female crowd all while under investigation for sex trafficking.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I may be a cancelled man in some corners, I may even be a wanted man by the deep state, but I hear the millions of Americans who feel forgotten.




ACOSTA: Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz is resisting calls to resign despite a prostitution and sex trafficking probe.

CNN's Paula Reid with more on that.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz adding two New York attorneys to his defense team, including Marc Mukasey, who's also represented the Trump administration in the past.

In a statement, the spokesman said the two will help Gaetz fight back against the unfounded allegations.

Now, "The Daily Beast" offering new insight into the trail of money. Venmo records obtained by the site show how in May of 2018, Gaetz reportedly paid friend and then Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg $900. The next morning, Greenberg transferred money totaling the same account to three women, according to the report.

JOSE PAGLIERY, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: When Matt Gaetz sent them to Joel Greenberg, it said test, and hit up this girl. When Joel Greenberg paid them to these girls, it said, school, and tuition.

REID: CNN has not confirmed the details of allegations in this story and there's no indication the women were under 18 at the time or the payments were for anything illegal.

JOEL GREENBERG, FORMER SEMINOLE COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR: It really is an honor to be here today.

REID: Gaetz's friend, Greenberg, has been indicted on 33 federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor.


REID: Greenberg is likely to enter a plea deal in his case, raising the possibility he could cooperate with federal investigators and put pressure on the congressman.

SCHELLER: I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.

REID: Gaetz has continued to deny any wrongdoing.

GAETZ: It is a horrible allegation, and it is a lie.

REID: Writing on Monday: I have never, ever paid for sex. And second, I as an adult man have not slept with a 17-year-old.

In a sign the Gaetz investigation may expand beyond sex trafficking, "The New York Times" is reporting prosecutors were told Gaetz discussed arranging a sham candidate in a Florida state Senate race last year with a Florida lobbyist to help his friend win the seat.


REID (voice-over): Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, the first GOP member of Congress openly calling for Gaetz to step down. Tweeting last Thursday, "Matt Gaetz needs to resign."

(on camera): The House Ethics Committee announced it has launched an investigation into Congressman Gaetz for a laundry listen of potentially violations:

Including sexual misconduct, drug use, sharing inappropriate images on the House floor, accepting bribes and misusing campaign funds.

In a statement, Gaetz's office called the allegations "blatantly false" and not validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


ACOSTA: Coming up, the crisis at the border as the Biden administration tries to care for 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children now in custody, including this little boy.










ACOSTA: There's a story I can't get out of my head about a 10-year-old boy abandoned in a field. No parents, no belongings, nowhere to go, just totally alone in a new country.

You won't get to see his face but all you have to do is listen to his voice.


















ACOSTA: You don't have to speak the language to understand that he's afraid, crying the same way your own kids might cry.

Add his story to the one I was telling you about a week ago about two little girls, ages 3 and 5, sisters, who were dropped by smugglers from a 14-foot border wall. There's the video right there again. Just unbelievable.

Finally, we get to see them in the light of day being offered food and comfort by a Border Patrol agent. That is some good news to see right there. Some images of those little girls right there getting cared for.

Think of these two little kids abandoned and found at the California border with just their mother's name and phone number written on their forearms.

Now take all of these stories, as hard and heartbreaking as they are, and add roughly 20,000 more. That's how many unaccompanied minors are in U.S. custody right now.

And as border facilities get more and more crowded, the questions grow louder for the Biden administration.

Joining me now to talk about this is Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, of Texas. Her district includes El Paso and suburbs on the border.

Congresswoman, the Biden administration has pushed back on the idea that it's a crisis down there. Is it time to start calling it one? What do you think?

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): Hi, Jim. Thanks so much for hosting me on your show today.

Whenever folks talk about the crisis at the border, part of my own personal frustration with that framing is that it focuses again only on the border, which is what the United States has done as part of its failed domestic policy strategy for decades.

The real crisis is in Central America. The real crisis is what these families are living through, the desperation that they face that drives them to our nation's front door.

There's an additional crisis, though, and that is a crisis of leadership that spans decades, as I mentioned.

Our country has focused only on enforcement and not thinking of what's happening outside of our nation's front door.

And we're now living the consequences of that failed domestic policy and failed foreign policy as well.

ACOSTA: And you told "The Intercept" that you're worried about some, quote, "sick forces in the Border Patrol," people who you think want to see a more compassionate approach fail, in favor of the tactics used by the Trump administration.

What do you mean by that?

ESCOBAR: I first want to say, Jim, in the greater context -- and I said this to "The Intercept" as well -- we need the to recognize there are a number of really great, hardworking agents, people who are put in terrible situations because of the failed leadership that spans decades.

But there are some folks within that agency that do want to see a more compassionate approach fail. I've heard it myself, our advocates have heard it, that folks believe

we should go back to cruelty as a deterrent. Folks who say that MPP, or Return to Mexico, was working. Folks that say Title 42 is a good policy.

These are not good policies. We know that deterrence doesn't work.

Thankfully, the Biden administration is unwinding MPP. Title 42 is still in effect.

I hosted Secretary Mayorkas here in El Paso on Thursday. I got him to sit with advocates, all of whom shared the harrowing stories of Title 42 and their gratitude that MPP is finally being unwound.

We've got to make sure that we have an agency where good folks are protected.


You know, when you root out some of the bad elements, you elevate and uplift and support the good elements, regardless of what ever agency it is.

So that was part of the conversation with "The Intercept."

ACOSTA: You made headlines this week for also saying that you think Trump's former senior adviser, Stephen Miller, should be behind bars for, quote, "human rights violations" because of the policy of separating children.

You really want Stephen Miller locked up?

ESCOBAR: It's not a question of what I want, Jim. It's a question of what is just and what is right.

What we saw during the Trump administration were some egregious human rights violations.

The administration and our government, at the hands of that administrations, damaged generations of children and families. Hundreds of those families, Jim, have yet to be reunited.

Some of those children, many of those children were infants when they were separated from their families.

It will be very, very difficult to reunite them with their families. They can't identify their parents because they were taken as infants.

These are the kind of human rights abuses that our nation would condemn and call for justice were they were happening in another place.

And so I --


ACOSTA: So you think Stephen Miller should be prosecuted for this? What do you think? Or were you overstating things in that interview?

ESCOBAR: No, I was not overstating them. That's my opinion. I stand by it.

ACOSTA: And do you think that that -- do you think that takes the conversation in the wrong direction?

How can you a debate with the other side when you're talking about that? That's what Trump did. He talked about locking up political adversaries.

ESCOBAR: You know, here is the thing, Jim. I have actually been focused on solutions.

So many of the CODELs I bring -- I bring congressional delegations to El Paso. In 2019, I brought nearly 20 percent of Congress to El Paso.

I have reached out to across the aisle to Republican colleagues, invited them to come and participate in these CODELs.

I had a bipartisan congressional delegation here two weeks ago. Because my focus is solutions.

But when I'm asked a question, I'll respond honestly and candidly.

So I was asked about what I thought about the prior administration's specifically as it pertained to folks like Stephen Miller.

Folks who were -- people who are architects of some of the most abhorrent cruelty of our generation. Things that we saw that we never thought that we would see on American soil.

But my focus and my priority is solutions.

And so I published an op-ed in "The New York Times" where I laid out a plan that I think is pretty comprehensive and wholistic.

A plan that I think could get us towards stability in the western hemisphere but also embrace our values, our American values, and create a system that's focused on compassion.

ACOSTA: Congresswoman, I do want to ask you about gun control.

Obviously, you had that horrific mass shooting in El Paso. That community is still recovering from that. I know that all too well.

But recently, you know, this past week, President Biden announced a series of proposals to address gun violence. Do they go far enough?

ESCOBAR: Well, it's a start.

You know, my hope would be that we could work together, both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and bring forward solutions that are common-sense approaches to the gun violence epidemic in our country.

What we've seen in the House of Representatives are bipartisan bills that are widely supported by the American public.

But in the Senate, because of the filibuster, because the Senate has become basically unable to govern, because it has become all about the status quo because of that filibuster.

I support the president's efforts via the executive orders.

Those executive orders are a beginning. You know -- we have to take a comprehensive look at this epidemic, which includes gun violence prevention legislation. It includes research. It includes investment in programs that work.

So executive orders alone won't address the violent, horrific epidemic that the country has lived through for too long.

My hope is that the Senate will act, and that they will act with us. But in the absence of that, we've got to do something.

ACOSTA: All right, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, thanks so much for all of that. We appreciate it. We'll talk to you again soon. Thanks for coming on.

ESCOBAR. Thanks so much.

ACOSTA: A quick programming note. Make sure you tune in next hour. Congresswoman Escobar was just talking about the filibuster. I'll be interviewing former Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, who knows something about that, about the lack of cooperation in Washington. You don't want to miss it.


Coming up, the racist on-air commentary from Tucker Carlson that has the Anti-Defamation League demanding that he be fired.

Plus, don't miss the powerful new CNN series, "THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE KLAN," the true story of a black mother who took down the Ku Klux Klan after the brutal lynching of her son. It premieres tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m.



ACOSTA: The Anti-Defamation League is calling on FOX News to fire host, Tucker Carlson, for pushing a racist theory that's been a favorite of white supremacists for years.

The Replacement Theory is one that imagines, falsely, that white people are being intentionally replaced by third-world immigrants to, quote, "dilute American voters."

And while that is a ridiculous lie, we're going to play you Tucker Carlson's remarks so you can fully understand why they're so toxic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TUCKER CARLSON, FOX HOST, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT": I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term "replacement."

If you suggest the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the third world.

If you change the population, you dilute the political power of the people who live there. So every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter.

So I don't understand why you don't understand this. I mean, everyone wants to make a racial issue out of it. Ooh, the White Replacement Theory. No, no, no. This is a voting rights question.


ACOSTA: So bizarre.

Our chief media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter, joins me now.

Brian, this is hardly the first time Tucker Carlson -- and I'm not sure why he spells Tucker with one "K" sometimes -- has been accused of making racist remarks.

But will FOX do anything this time about what he's doing over there?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": There's no indication that FOX will do a thing. Tucker Carlson is untouchable, he's invincible, because he's such a highly rated host for FOX News.

He's increasingly the face of FOX News. So the Murdochs tolerate everything. Not just tolerate, they embrace it.

It's been more than 24 hours since the ADL sent the letter to the head of FOX News, calling for Carlson to go. FOX has not publicly responded to that letter. The ADL has not heard anything back from FOX that I'm aware of.

But as you said, there's a history to these comments. They can't be viewed in isolation.

Here's some examples of Carlson in the past talking about the same rhetorical line of argument.


CARLSON: This may be a lot of things, this moment we're living through, but it is definitely not about black lives.

And remember that when they come for you. And at this rate, they will.

If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns of problems this country faces, where would white supremacy be on the list? Right up there with Russia probably. It's actually not a real problem in America.

White supremacy, that's the problem. This is a hoax, just like the Russia hoax. It's a conspiracy theory.

In the year 2000, Hazelton's population was 2 percent Hispanic. Just 16 years later, Hazelton is majority Hispanic. That's a lot of change. How would you feel if that happened in your neighborhood?


STELTER: And that's the face of Fox News.

He's also the poster child for what Van Jones called five years ago the White-lash, this white resistance to a changing country.

Tucker Carlson, that is very much his brand. He has a lot of viewers who seem to be with him. And FOX is not going to take any action against him.

ACOSTA: And, Brian, I'm sure there are folks whose heads are exploding just seeing you and I talk about the subject together.

But let's talk about some of this. Help people understand how dangerous this idea of replacement theory is. It was actually the driving force --

STELTER: You think about -- yes.

ACOSTA: -- in some recent mass shootings.

STELTER: Christchurch in New Zealand. And closer to home here in the states, the El Paso attack at the Walmart in 2019.

Both killers in both those cases referred to replacement theory in their so-called manifestoes.

This is fringe white supremacist idea that is, unfortunately, being mainstreamed by the likes of Tucker Carlson.

And he knows exactly what he's doing because he said on the air on Thursday, no, no, no, that's not what I'm talking about, as he literally repeated the exact same concept.

He seems afraid somehow that people of color are going to replace him in the voting rolls, you know, that his vote is going to be diluted by new arrivals to the country.

But the story of America is a --


ACOSTA: When kids turn 18, they're going to replace --

STELTER: Including Carlson's own children. ACOSTA: Yes. Yes, exactly. When kids turn 18, they're going to replace

older voters who pass on.

He also tried to rewrite history when it came to the capitol attack. This might be the most ridiculous line of B.S. yet from Tucker Carlson.

Let's listen.


CARLSON: They didn't have guns but a lot of them had extremely dangerous ideas. They talked about the Constitution and something called their rights.

Neither Lisa Eisenhart nor her son damaged any property at the Capitol or committed any violence. They just walked into what we used to refer to as the people's house.


Some perspective, please.


ACOSTA: It's just -- it's inexplicable. I can't -- I can't explain what he's doing.

STELTER: Absolute revisionist history, denial of the riot.

Twenty years ago, 9/11 Truthers were rightly condemned across the political spectrum. But now, 20 years later, Riot Truthers, people in denial about the riot, are getting airtime on primetime on FOX News.

I'm afraid this is going to get worse, Jim, as the Republican Party tries to cover up what happened on Capitol Hill that day.

ACOSTA: Yes. He's just a whack job, that's all there is to it.

Brian Stelter, we can keep talking on and on about this but we don't want to make too many heads explode. We'll do that some other time.

Brian Stelter, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

And be sure to catch Brian on his show, "RELIABLE SOURCES," tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.

And we're back in a moment.