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CNN NEWSROOM

Republican Voters Embrace Conspiracy Theories About Capitol Riot; Trump To Speak During GOP Donor Retreat At Mar-a-Lago; CDC Warns Of Surging Cases Even With 68 Million Americans Vaccinated; Expert Witnesses Testify About The Direct Cause Of Floyd's Death; Rep. Gaetz Strikes Defiant Tone At Women's Summit While Under Investigation For Sex Trafficking; A Look At How The GOP Rallied Around Roy Moore When Under Investigation For Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 10, 2021 - 17:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:00:41]

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

And by the time he left Washington, Republicans had lost the presidency, the house and the senate, and on his way out the door, he incited an insurrection that left five people dead. You'd think that's the type of leader any political party would want to run away from. Instead the GOP is flocking to former president Donald Trump's haven in south Florida this week.

Tonight, the former president is headlining a closed-door donor retreat at Mar-a-Lago that's expected to raise millions of dollars for the Republican Party. And at the same time just a few miles away at his Doral golf club, allies are holding another Trump fest, this one organized by Women for America First, the very group that planned the rally that proceeded the Capitol riot.

Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz actually spoke at that summit last night. Yes, currently under investigation for potentially violating sex trafficking and prostitution laws, that Matt Gaetz spoke at a women's summit and thought this would be a smart thing to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I take the words of Margaret Thatcher to heart. If you want something said, get a man. If you want something done, hire a woman.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: So what do supporters there think? Welcome to the upside down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Do you think the Trump supporters that did that that day -- it's sort of a black eye --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know that they were Trump supporters.

CROWD: Stop the steal! Stop the steal!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, obviously, some of the people that went in the Capitol were, but you can also see the doors were open.

(SCREAMING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so, yeah, they were trespassing, but they didn't destroy anything. They didn't beat anybody up.

(SCREAMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now, that's not just wrong, that's 100 feet down the rabbit hole and how dangerous and how sad it is we're so divided we can't even agree on the definition of violence. That's clearly violence. I can see it right now with my own eyes, despite people dying in that attack on the Capitol.

But also consider where most of them get their information.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: They didn't have guns but a lot of them had extremely dangerous ideas. They talked about the Constitution and something called their rights. Some of them made openly seditious claims. They insisted for example that the last election was not entirely fair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Our Donie O'Sullivan is there at the Women for America summit -- America First summer.

Donie, you got an earful to say the least. What can you tell us?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Jim.

Yeah, the big lie that the election was stolen is very much alive and well here at the Trump resort. The organizers and attendees at this pro-Trump conference that is happening here this weekend are essentially trying to rewrite the history of January 6th. I spoke to some of them. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KINNET EHRING MCSWEENEY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: And I do believe that the election was stolen and I do believe that it was a peaceful rally that day and just because people who were in the Capitol were wearing Trump shirts and Trump hats doesn't necessarily make them Trump supporters. Anybody can get one of those shirts.

O'SULLIVAN: But a lot of them have been shown to be real Trump supporters, right?

MCSWEENEY: How?

O'SULLIVAN: Through indictments that they've been a longtime supporter of Trump.

MCSWEENEY: I don't know that to be true.

O'SULLIVAN: I think some people who watch this who are not Trump supporters will see here's a Trump supporter who's in denial about January 6th. Would it not be better to sort of admit --

MCSWEENEY: You don't have to say that to me because I had friends and family already say that to me, you know, because they disagree. They think that I'm crazy, that I'm a conspiracy theorist because the election was stolen.

O'SULLIVAN: Speaking of your family calling you conspiracy theorist, Marjorie Taylor Greene is going to be speaking here this weekend. She's known as -- by some, as a QAnon congresswoman.

MCSWEENEY: I don't know what's so terrible about QAnon. Can you tell me?

O'SULLIVAN: It's a baseless conspiracy theory.

[17:05:03]

MCSWEENEY: Well, what's so -- you know, what is so terrible about conspiracy theories anyway? Can you tell me?

I mean, there were conspiracy theories behind JFK's assassination. I'm old enough to remember all the conspiracy theories that swirled around his assassination. It's always -- it's always painted in such a negative way.

O'SULLIVAN: But these conspiracy theories are causing into the foundation of American democracy or helping inspire of violent insurrection.

MCSWEENEY: No, I don't believe that's the case. In what way? Can you explain?

O'SULLIVAN: The lie the election was stolen.

MCSWEENEY: Well, see, that's where we part ways. I don't believe that it's a lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'SULLIVAN: And, Jim, obviously what you hear there from that woman, a lot of it is false, but it's not necessarily fringe in the Republican Party at this point. We've seen polling over the past week that shows many Republicans, a majority of Republicans believe some version of lies about the election and about January 6.

And, you know, you heard that woman there ask what is wrong with conspiracy theories, what is the problem with QAnon? And our colleague I want to show you this quote by our colleague on CNN.com today from a congressman, a rare Republican congressman who's speaking out against all this.

He said: When we say QAnon, you have the sort of extreme forms but also this softer gradual undermining of any shared collective sense of truth. And that is precisely the point here. Not everybody believes in all the lunatic elements of QAnon but many, many Republicans like those we've spoken to here this weekend believes in that big lie that continues to be perpetuated by the former president of the United States -- Jim.

ACOSTA: The lies, the conspiracy theories, the denialism runs deep there at that summit.

All right. Donie, thanks so much for bringing that to us. We appreciate it.

And what better way to show support for former President Donald Trump than to host a GOP retreat in his own backyard.

Later this evening, hundreds of Republican donors would gather for an invitation-only event at Mar-a-Lago, a clear message that while some in the GOP may be ready to move on from the Trump era, many are holding on tightly with all of their might.

And CNN's Michael Warren joins us from Palm Beach, Florida.

Michael, what do we know about tonight's event?

MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, just about 300 yards behind me, about 350 Republican donors are about to go about ten minutes up the road to Mar-a-Lago where former President Trump will be sort of giving the keynote address to this retreat to donors. We have the excerpts of what he's expected to say.

He's expected to give his commitment to the Republican Party. This is an RNC event. This is about the entire Republican Party, questions about whether former President Trump would be committed. He's trying to say, yes, I will be committed.

We do have a couple of excerpts I want to read. We are gathered tonight to talk about the future of the Republican Party, Trump is expected to say, and what we must do to set our candidates on a course to victory. I stand before you this evening filled with confidence that in 2022, we're going to take back the house and we're going to re-claim the Senate, and then in 2024, a Republican candidate is going to win the White House.

He's going to talk, Jim, about Joe Biden, the man who beat him in the presidential race last November, talking about the failure of his agenda in his administration. He's also going to hit on what are these issues that has really been bubbling up among conservatives and Republicans in the cultural sphere, these questions about what corporations are doing in response to say Georgia's voting law? He's going to hit on corporations like Coca-Cola, Delta and Nordstrom and is going to decry the woke cultural capitalism that is hurting things like Major League Baseball which moved the all-star game out of Atlanta.

That's what we expect to hear and a lot more from Donald Trump tonight, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. And they'll have to move the Diet Coke out of view of the cameras and folks their in attendance.

Michael Warren, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

One prominent Republican certainly done treading lightly around Donald Trump in his new book "On the House." Former House Speaker John Boehner accuses rips into the former president, accusing him of inciting the January 6th attack on the Capitol, saying Trump did it, quote, for nothing more than selfish reasons perpetuated by the bullshit he'd been shoveling since he lost a fair election in the previous November. That's a direct quote.

He also bemoans the rise of the Tea Party, saying, quote: You can be a total moron and get elected just by having an "R" next to your name. In that year, by the way, we did pick up a fair number in that category.

And my next guest is also featured in the former speaker's book in a very colorful way, that is vintage John Boehner so to speak and that's former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He joins me now from Las Vegas.

Senator, great to talk to you.

I want to talk to you about John Boehner's book in just a moment. But, first, I have to ask you after seeing or listening to those segments that we just went through, what do you make of the Republican Party today versus the party you dealt with when you were in office?

HARRY REID (D), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I look back with some nostalgia to John Chafee, John Heinz, and these Republicans who worked with Democrats. We work together at that time.

And we don't see that now. It's tribal and it's not working well. And I think the Republican Party needs to find itself.

ACOSTA: And you and John Boehner now co-chair of Policy Institute in Las Vegas, but it wasn't always so friendly between the two of you. We know this.

It's been reported on, but John Boehner writes about it in his book about getting angry after you referred to the House as a dictatorship of the speakership, saying, quote -- and this is John Boehner here saying -- if I were a dictator, do you think I'd let all these members get away with screwing me over all the time. Hell no. And Reid, he goes on to say, who was a ruthless bastard, those were his words, knew exactly what he was doing. So, when I saw him at the White House the next day talking quietly with Mitch McConnell before the meeting, I went over and got in Reid's face and said, do you even listen to all the S that comes out of your mouth, go F yourself.

I'm curious, Senator Reid, are we romanticizing to a degree what it was like in the pre-Trump era?

REID: Well, the deal was this -- John Boehner and I got a lot done but we didn't mince words. He was right I did everything I could to cause him trouble because I knew he was having a lot of trouble. The more trouble he was having in his caucus, the better it was for us, and he knew what it was doing.

And I didn't -- I wasn't at all surprised that he came to me and gave me one of his other -- he's someone we got along well for a couple of reasons. Number one, we had a deal. He would not come to my office. I would always go to his office, because I didn't him smoking in my office.

So, all our meetings were in his office, he could smoke to his heart's content. And we had a staff member on hand John Summers (ph), in my office, David Crone (ph). We got a lot of things done. Behind the scenes, there's crazy (INAUDIBLE), but I have a lot of respect for John Boehner. He as far as I'm concerned was a great patriot.

ACOSTA: And earlier in the show we talked about the conspiracy theories surrounding the Capitol riot and how some Republicans are trying to rewrite that history. I can't imagine what you would have thought that day if you had been there.

What was going through your mind as you saw the Capitol being attacked that day? And what do you make of some of the revisionism that's going on now about it?

REID: That was very troubling to me. My first stint in Washington, I was a Capitol policeman. I worked that shift from 3:00 to 11:00, every six days a week. And for me to see what was going on in the Capitol, troubling, because not only did I work as a Capitol policeman, during the time I was a leader, I had a lot of people trying to hurt me. So, the Capitol police actually lived with me 24 hours a day for many, many months.

So I am very, very concerned about the safety of the Capitol, and I think it's something we need to take a look at long and hard. I think that this happened once, could happen again and we have to be prepared next time not to let it happen.

ACOSTA: And do you think all that fencing should stay up around the Capitol? A lot of people want to take it down. And then we had that incident last week where another officer died.

REID: I think we shouldn't be doing this piecemeal. I think there should be an overall plan. I think there should be a study made, do it quickly, find out what needs to be done. Fencing -- of course, we'd like to have no fencing. (INAUDIBLE)

because I indicated earlier, we had Capitol police at the doors, but they were lucky to, you know, how to roll (ph) their pistol. There was no security problems.

Now, of course, over the years, it's developed. So, there's some of the highest security around the world is in the United States Capitol and rightfully so. But we have to make sure we keep the Capitol so it is possible for people to come and visit.

ACOSTA: And, Senator, everyone wondered will the riot be the moment Republicans abandon Trump, and not only did that not happen, many of them are headed down to Florida tonight to hear him speak. Were you at all surprised that some of the people you served with, old guard types like Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, that this wasn't the moment that they said enough was enough?

We know Mitch McConnell spoke out against the former president during the impeachment, but much of the party is still really lock-step behind him and embracing him at this donor summit this weekend.

[17:15:05]

REID: As we heard earlier in your program, there were members of Congress who are still going on spouting the election was stolen. That is the most abominable (ph) lie you could imagine. As Pat Moynihan said you're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. You're trying to develop facts that don't exist.

ACOSTA: But I want to ask you this. So, you were saying earlier that you like to make mischief for John Boehner. Would you like to see the Republican Party continue to embrace Donald Trump and in the way that they are right now? Would that be good for the Democrats were they to continue to do that?

REID: Yes.

ACOSTA: Can you expand on that?

REID: Well, what is going on with the Republican Party now is not the Republican Party that was defined over the many years as a party of conservative thought, fiscal integrity. Now, some of the biggest steps we've ever had in this country has been under Republican leadership.

So I think the Republican Party needs to understand where they are, and I think being where they are is only good for Democrats.

I think that Donald Trump still has a following, no question about that. It won't last forever. He is a man who is dangerous. He's a demagogue, and he's shown his inability to govern.

ACOSTA: And back in 2013 -- let's go and talk about the filibuster because this is obviously an important subject that everyone has been talking about in recent days. You took the dramatic step back in 2013 over eliminating the filibuster for most nominations by presidents. At the time, the argument was you had to fix a broken system but seeing now Republicans then turned around and used this to their advantage under Trump, they got three justices on the Supreme Court, do you have any regrets about that?

REID: None whatsoever. Remember, we were able as a result of that able to pass the Affordable Care Act, we passed on Christmas Eve. We hadn't met in the Senate in 100 years on Christmas Eve. We passed the Affordable Care Act to allow people not to worry about disabilities. We were able to get huge lands bill that was important to the entire country. We're able to so much done that made Obama's presidency meaningful.

They would not even approve the secretary of defense, first time in the history of the country. They filibustered the secretary of defense. They wouldn't allow the second most important court in the country, the D.C. Circuit, to be filled with five or six vacancies. We couldn't get as I indicated cabinet officers filled, subcabinet, National Labor Relations Board. The Republicans couldn't attack the leader head on.

So, we went and made it so we couldn't get cornered. As a result of my changing the rules, we were able to get all that done in Obama's first term as president of the United States. His first Congress was the most productive Congress in the history of the country even going back to Roosevelt's first term when he had a good Congress. But ours was better.

ACOSTA: I want to ask you this. You know, I think something sort of thought provoking came out of the Biden administration this past week and it didn't get a lot of attention because there's so much going on in the news. He's now created a commission to look at adding seats to the Supreme Court, other ideas that some progressives are pushing for. They want to see the court's conservative majority be balanced.

Where do you stand on that? Do you think it's a good idea to add seats to the Supreme Court?

REID: I think we should be very, very careful in doing so. I have no problem with the commission. But I think that the commission is going to come back and disappoint a lot of people because I think they're going to come back and say we should just kind of leave it alone. I think it would be inappropriate at this time after the long history we have in the country to have term limits for judges.

I think we better be very, very careful in saying that we need to expand the Supreme Court. I think we better be very, very careful.

ACOSTA: Okay. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, I think some people might be surprised to hear you say that because you were definitely a fighter when you were in the Senate and liked to take it to the other side. But it sounds like you're urging caution moving forward in that regard.

REID: Let me just say one -- let me say one thing.

ACOSTA: Yeah. REID: The filibuster is on its way out. It's not a question if. It's a question when. You cannot have a democracy that makes 60 percent of the vote. And so it's only a question of time until a filibuster goes away.

ACOSTA: All right. Senator Reid, we'll see if that happens. Thanks so much. We appreciate that. And come back and join us any time. We appreciate it.

More than 20 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated but an alarming rise in cases especially in Michigan is warning all of us that we're not out of the woods yet.

[17:20:06]

We'll tell you what you need to know and how to stay safe. And you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Michigan right now is in crisis mode, leading the nation in coronavirus infections with a positivity rate of 18 percent. It's gotten so bad that hospitals may be forced now to delay or reschedule nonemergency procedures in order to treat the surge in COVID patients.

And, Dr. Paul Offit joins us now. He's the director of the vaccine education center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Dr. Offit, great to speak with you again.

The governor of Michigan as you know is begging the White House for more vaccines to help slow the spread. It sound like it's becoming a critical situation there. Is that going to be enough?

DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA : Yeah, you know, it's frustrating. Obviously, this variant, this B.1.1.7 variant, the so-called U.K. variant is more contagious and I think there's just fatigue from this pandemic out there.

[17:25:05]

So a lot of people don't wear masks, don't social distance. So we've basically taken a step back in Michigan.

It's really frustrating because we're almost there. I mean, we have 20 percent of people that are now fully immunized. We have about 25 percent of people who have been naturally infected which will provide immunity. And if we can get to about 85 percent population immunity we can slow the spread of this virus.

And by giving basically 3 million plus doses a day, we can get there in the next two months, but we have to hang in there for the next two months, and we're not doing that. I just think what's going on in Michigan is a combination of pandemic fatigue and the variant that's very contagious. ACOSTA: Well, we can't get fatigue because we're not out of this yet.

And yesterday alone, we can put this up on screen, 80,000 new cases were recorded nationwide. That's prompting concern among medical experts like Dr. Fauci.

How worried are you we're now entering a fourth surge?

OFFIT: I don't think that's going to happen. I think there are things working against this virus. One is the fact we are getting more and more vaccine out. Two, the weather does work against this virus. Even last summer if you look, even though the virus came in and started killing people last March, we saw a peak up to 2,500 deaths a day in April and then it started to come down in like, you know, June, July, August, even though we had a fully susceptible population who didn't have a vaccine.

So, it is at its heart a winter virus, although obviously, it still can spread over the summer. Plus, you have a lot of population immunity from natural infection. I'm going to predict there's not a fourth surge, realizing you should never make a prediction about this virus because you're pretty much never right. But I don't think we're going to see it.

ACOSTA: And CNN has learned nearly 40 percent of U.S. marines that were surveyed have declined the COVID-19 vaccine. What do you make of that? What risk are they putting themselves and their fellow service members into and what could be behind that? Is it potentially the source of news they're receiving, that sort of thing?

OFFIT: Two things that stand in the way of getting on top of this pandemic and the one that worries me less is the variants. The one that worries me are people choosing not to get the vaccine. I mean, you've seen the number of polls, you know, 46 percent of Republican men say they don't want to get a vaccine, 14 percent of black or African-Americans in that community say they don't want to get a vaccine. You know, 30 percent of Christian evangelicals say they don't want to get a vaccine.

I mean, it's not -- it really shouldn't be your choice not to get a vaccine. It's not a privacy issue. You know, if I cut my foot on a rusty nail and go to a hospital and get cleaned up and choose not to get a tetanus vaccine and then get tetanus, that's my choice. No one is going to catch tetanus from me. It's not a contagious disease.

This is a contagious disease, and it shouldn't be your right frankly to choose possibly to catch and transmit a potentially fatal infection. I think if we can get to a point -- we're going to get there by late summer, where we're going to have enough vaccine, and then if it is a significant percent, and that therefore it doesn't allow for control of this virus, then we're going to have to decide exactly where we want to go from there.

ACOSTA: There's certainly a lot of vaccine out there, Dr. Paul Offit. We just need to get more and more information out there to folks so that they can become less hesitant about it. Dr. Paul Offit, thanks so much. We appreciate it. And coming up next, week two of the testimony in the Derek Chauvin

trial wrapped up with accounts from medical experts about what led to George Floyd's death. What they said next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:32:58]

ACOSTA: A dramatic second week then Derek Chauvin murder trial wrapping up with critical testimony from the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on George Floyd.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus takes a closer look at some of this week's key moments.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The second week of the Derek Chauvin murder trial concluded with a key witness, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: You conducted the autopsy on Mr. George Floyd?

DR. ANDREW BAKER, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST & CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER, HENNEPIN COUNTY: I did.

BROADDUS: He acknowledged that heart disease and drugs played a role in George Floyd's death, but the manner of death remains a homicide.

BAKER: It's what I put on the death certification last June, law enforcement subdual restraint and neck compression.

BROADDUS: Baker's statements capped off a week of testimony from medical experts and law enforcement officials repeatedly poking holes in Chauvin's defense, which argues Floyd died from a combination of underlying health conditions, along with the ingestion of Methamphetamine and Fentanyl.

DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONOLOGIST: That's the moment the life goes out of his body.

BROADDUS: Dr. Martin Tobin, a world-renowned pulmonologist, broke down in detail four critical factors that he says caused Floyd to stop breathing, like Floyd's position on the asphalt, which restricted his lungs.

BLACKWELL: You mentioned several reasons for Mr. Floyd's low oxygen. You mentioned one, handcuffs and the street, right?

TOBIN: Correct.

BLACKWELL: You mentioned knee on the neck?

TOBIN: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Prone position?

TOBIN: Yes.

BLACKWELL: And then the knee on the back, arm, and side? Were those the four?

TOBIN: Yes, these are the four.

BROADDUS: Defense Attorney Eric Nelson argued that Floyd could have died as a result of taking drugs moments prior to officers forcing him to the ground.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Is it fair to say that you would expect a peak Fentanyl respiratory depression within about five minutes?

TOBIN: Right. Obviously, it would depend on how much of it was ingested. But if there was any amount of it ingested, yes, the peak would be five minutes.

[17:35:02]

BROADDUS: Tobin ultimately concluded drugs didn't kill Floyd, testifying that he had not taken a proper breath for almost 10 minutes, at which point the carbon dioxide in Floyd's body had reached lethal levels.

The jury also heard from Chauvin's former boss, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. He later said what happened to Floyd was, quote," murder."

The chief was asked about Chauvin's use of force.

STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: So is it your belief, then, that this particular form of restraint, if that's what we'll call it, in fact, violates departmental policy?

MEDARIA ARRADONDO, CHIEF, MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT: I absolutely agree that violates our policy.

BROADDUS: The defense pushed back, arguing that Chauvin's knee placement, which they say was actually on Floyd's back, was a proper police prone hold.

NELSON: Does this appear to be a neck restraint?

ARRADONDO: No, sir.

NELSON: Does this appear to be a prone hold that an officer may apply with his knee?

ARRADONDO: Yes.

BROADDUS: But the testimonial theme from law enforcement and use-of- force experts was clear. Witnesses clearly told the jury that Derek Chauvin used, quote, "excessive and deadly force" on George Floyd when restraining him with his knee for more than nine minutes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And that was CNN's Adrienne Broaddus.

As Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz resists calls to resign, I'll talk to a former Senator who witnessed first-hand how the GOP rallied around Roy Moore when he was facing allegations of sexual misconduct. Doug Jones is my guest next.

But first, here's a preview of the powerful new CNN original series, "THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE KLAN."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you've got a black man hanging from a tree.

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Donald was an innocent good Samaritan.

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No doubt the Klan is behind this.

(MUSIC)

BEULAH MAE DONALD, MOTHER OF MICHAEL DONALD, KILLED BY LYNCHING: That was my baby and nothing they do can bring him back.

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must continue to fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stakes could not be higher.

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was an incredible story of courage.

ANNOUNCER: A powerful new CNN original series, "THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE KLAN," tomorrow at 9:00 on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:41:57]

ACOSTA: Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz defiantly fighting back last night against allegations of sex trafficking and other crimes while attending a women's summit at former President Donald Trump's golf resort down in Florida.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHEERING)

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I may be a canceled man in some corners --

(APPLAUSE)

GAETZ: -- I may even be a wanted man by the Deep State --

(LAUGHTER)

GAETZ: -- but I hear the millions of Americans who feel forgotten.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: I want to bring in CNN political commentator and former Alabama Senator, Doug Jones.

Senator, whenever you're complaining about the Deep State, you're usually in deep something else.

But anyone who thinks the GOP will automatically abandon Matt Gaetz need only look back to your race in 2017 when you defeated Republican Roy Moore.

Moore, you'll remember, faced accusations he had pursued sexual relations with teenage girls while in his 30s.

Despite those accusations, Moore continued to receive support from President Trump at the time. I was there. I reported on all of that.

Based on that experience, do you see Republicans getting to a point where they abandon Gaetz if he has Donald Trump in his corner?

DOUG JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think they will at some point. I mean, this is beyond the pale.

You know, Matt Gaetz says he may be a wanted man. Well, he likely will be at some point because I think he's in a world of hurt.

And I believe at some point -- and we're not there yet. It takes a lot to break through the tribalism of today's politics, Jim. But I believe the tribalism is breaking. It's going to crack.

What Gaetz is accused of doing, if the facts bear that out, is beyond the pale.

And I think you saw in the Moore case people abandon them, they kind of came back. Donald Trump went to him because he was so afraid of losing the seat.

Tribalism is still strong. But at the end of the day, I think this is going to be something that the Republican Party in the House and across the country just cannot ignore.

ACOSTA: Hard to break from Donald Trump but maybe a little bit easier when it comes to Matt Gaetz.

Switching gears, tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m., CNN is premiering the first two episodes of a pretty amazing original series, "THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE KLAN."

Let's take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beulah Mae Donald and her attorney, Michael Figures, enlists the voice of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, future presidential candidate, to come to Mobile and tell their story and put it on a national stage.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Ms. Bueller, I had no fear she wanted to see those who killed her son come to justice. And I was impressed with her resilience to fight back.

CASMARAH MANI, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: One of the most feared names around here in Alabama. We said the preacher was coming to town, the white folk got upset let me tell you. OK.

So when Jesse came here, it brought national attention to our issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:45:01]

ACOSTA: Incredible stuff.

And our issue that many people are watching in all of this, Senator, I mean, this is just something -- people don't know, Senator, that you famously prosecuted the KKK members who bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young black girls back in 1963.

How big a legal challenge did Beulah Mae face taking on the KKK in 1981?

JONES: It was a significant challenge. I don't think anyone should underestimate the challenge.

Even in 1981, one would think we'd gone so far in terms of race relations, but we were not. I mean, we were still not just in the south, Jim -- I want to make that clear -- it was still around the country. There were still issues.

And the challenge she faced was really twofold. I mean the law was on her side. The facts were on her side.

What was not on her side was the enthusiasm law enforcement. It took a couple of special prosecutors and investigators to really get to the bottom of it.

Because in those days, most every crime where you saw a young man of color who ended up dead, it was thought to be a drug crime. It was just automatically assumed. So she had to overcome that with a criminal case.

And then in the civil case and the criminal case with a jury because people were still reluctant to convict folks and then much less to give money to her for the murder.

And that was an incredibly significant matter. The civil case in that whole story, Jim, was as important as the criminal case.

Because it was the civil case and that $7 million judgment that just wrecked the Klan, bankrupted them, destroyed the Klan for a time being.

ACOSTA: And you've been following the Derek Chauvin trial for us. Do you see any similarities between George Floyd's case and Michael Donald's cases?

JONES: Well, I think the real similarity, you go all the way back to the '63 bombing case, and the other crimes of that era.

What I see in this is that People that feel empowered, that they feel like they can do anything.

In this case, it was a police officer. You know we love to give our police officers the benefit of the doubt. We should in so many instances.

But sometimes there are officers that seem to abuse that, like Derek Chauvin, and can do whatever he feels appropriate.

And in connecting those dots, in the early '60s, it was people that were giving these dog-whistle politics to the Klan in one case, maybe police officers in this case, that it's OK, you do your job and nothing will come of you.

That, I think, is the biggest connection.

And what we're seeing in the Chauvin case now is a breakdown of that blue wall where so many police officers are pushing back and saying no, no, not this time, not on our watch, we believe this is wrong and he should be held accountable.

That is an incredibly significant development in the Chauvin case.

ACOSTA: And we'll see if justice is done.

All right, former Senator Doug Jones, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

And a reminder to our viewers. A new CNN original series, "THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE KLAN," premieres with back-back episodes tomorrow night right at 9:00 right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:52:55] ACOSTA: New this hour, the suspect in the stabbing deaths of three young children in suburban Los Angeles has been apprehended, according to the LAPD.

This woman pictured here, 30-year-old Liliana Carrillo, was taken into custody.

All three children who died appear to be under the age of 5 years old. They were found in a home in the neighborhood of Reseda.

A law enforcement source telling CNN the deaths of the three children do not appear to be a random attack.

And residents on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent woke up this morning to ash falling from the sky and a strong smell of sulfur.

Take a look at this. Incredible video. A volcano, which had been dormant for decades, has been erupted three times since Friday, shooting ash and smoke miles into the air.

No injuries have been reported. But residents are being warned about serious health risks and are ordered out of the red zone near the volcano. It's probably a good idea.

And some cruise ships are sending ships to the area to help with any evacuations.

And everyday people are changing world. Since 2007, "CNN Heroes" has celebrated hundreds of these amazing individuals. They are all around us.

You can help shine a light on their efforts by nominating them as a "CNN Hero."

Anderson Cooper shares more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It's been a time of challenges and change. But it's also a time for hope.

(SINGING)

COOPER: This year, "CNN Heroes" celebrates our 15th year honoring everyday people doing extraordinary things.

From frontline workers fighting against the coronavirus pandemic, to those battling for racial equity and social justice --

(SHOUTING)

COOPER: -- from spontaneous acts of courage to those who have dedicated their lives to making a difference.

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to see the world differently.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Anyone can have an impact, no matter their age.

(SINGING)

COOPER: Everyday heroes are all around us. Do you know a hero? Tell us about them. Nominations for 2021 "CNN Heroes" are now open at CNNheroes.com.

[17:55:04]

Now, more than ever, the world needs heroes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And remember, you don't need to personally know your hero to nominate them. It only takes a few minutes. You can do it right now at CNNheros.com.

That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you hear back tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Pamela Brown takes over the CNN NEWSROOM, live, after a quick break.

Have a good night, everybody.

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