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Black-Latino Army Officer Suing Two Virginia Police Officers; Prosecution Entering 3rd Week Of Presenting Case Against Chauvin; U.S. Administers Record 4.6 Million Vaccine Doses In One Day; Michigan Sees Alarming Uptick In New Cases, Fueled By U.K. Variant; Michigan Governor To White House: Surge Vaccines To Hotspot States Now; Biden Takes Plea For Infrastructure Money To Capitol Hill; Prince Philip's Funeral To Be Held Next Saturday. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 11, 2021 - 14:00   ET

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


[13:59:44]

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: I feel that sorrow of distance this week because thanks to the pandemic I was not able to see my mother for the last time, nor bury her which is why I thought I might take this opportunity and say "Goodbye, Ma. I love you."

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. And I will see you next week.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone.

Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

The U.S. breaks a new coronavirus vaccine record as a surge in Michigan becomes a reality check for the nation.

The CDC announcing that more than 4.6 million people received a shot on Saturday, shattering last weekend's record. The U.S. administered nearly 22 million doses in one week which is more than the population of Florida.

And there's more optimism. The Department of Health and Human Services says that fewer than one in 28,000 people who get the vaccine experience any serious negative reactions.

We'll have more on the pandemic in a moment including an interview with the Michigan health secretary.

But first, a black and Latino Army officer is now suing two Virginia police officers alleging they used excessive force during a traffic stop captured on body cam video. Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario seeking more than a million dollars in damages after the police pointed guns at him, pepper sprayed him and pushed him to the ground.

One of the officers said he pulled Nazario over because he didn't have a license plate, instead paper plates although later the officers became aware of that -- the taped paper plate taped inside of his rear window based on the police report.

CNN's Natasha Chen joining me now. Natasha, the video of this incident is very difficult to watch.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred. Our viewers should know that some of this video is very disturbing. You're going to see it from three angles. Two of the angles from body cameras worn by officers in Windsor, Virginia about 30 miles west of Norfolk. And the third angle is from the personal cell phone of the man they pulled over -- a man, as you say, who happens to be black and Latino, as well as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHEN (voice over): 6:30 p.m., December 5th, 2020. Lieutenant Caron Nazario driving in his Army fatigues through the small town of Windsor, Virginia saw flashing lights in his rearview mirror. He wasn't sure why he was being pulled over.

According to his lawsuit he slowed down and put his blinker on, indicating his intention to pull over but didn't do so for another minute and 40 seconds, which he later explained was in order to find a well-lit area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Driver, roll the window down, put your hands out of the window. Turn the vehicle off, put your hands out the window.

CHEN: Hearing these different commands while sitting in his car with the seat belt on, Nazario began recording from his own cell phone and put his hands out the window as ordered.

Turns out Officer Daniel Crocker had not seen the temporary license plate taped to the back window of Nazario's brand new Chevrolet Tahoe. And seeing tinted windows and the driver not stopping right away, Crocker decided it was a high-risk traffic stop.

But this was never explained to Nazario who for several minutes continued to ask why he'd been pulled over.

SECOND LT. CARON AZARIO, U.S. ARMY: What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many occupants are in your vehicle?

NAZARIO: It's only myself. Why are your weapons drawn? What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car now.

NAZARIO: I'm serving this country and this is how I'm treated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Get out of the car.

CHEN: Body camera footage shows Officer Joe Gutierrez, gun drawn, unfastening the Velcro around what may be his taser at this time.

NAZARIO: What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on is you're fixing to ride the lightning, son. CHEN: The lawsuit says Nazario thought "ride the lightning" meant he

could be killed.

NAZARIO: I'm honestly afraid to get out. Can I --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you should be. Get out, now.

NAZARIO: I have not committed any crimes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're being stopped for a traffic violation. You're not cooperating at this point right now. You're under arrest for -- you're being detained. You're being detained for --

NAZARIO: For a traffic violation, I do not have to get out of the vehicle. You haven't even told me why I'm being stopped.

CHEN: About two to three minutes in, Officer Crocker tried to open the driver's door. In his report, he wrote, quote, "when I attempted to unlock and open the driver's door, the driver assaulted myself by striking my hand away and pulled away from Officer Gutierrez's grip."

But in his own body camera footage Nazario is not seen striking anyone.

Crocker's report also says that at this point Gutierrez, quote, gave several more commands to comply with orders or he would be sprayed with his OC spray. But no such warnings could be heard. Gutierrez just sprayed Nazario, still without either officer having told Nazario what exactly he was pulled over for.

[14:04:54]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up. Just (EXPLETIVE DELETED) get out of the car.

NAZARIO: I don't even want to reach my seat belt --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your seat belt off and get out of the car. You made this way more difficult than it had to be. Get on the ground. Get on the ground.

NAZARIO: Can you please talk to me about what's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground now.

NAZARIO: Can you please talk to me about what's going on? Why am I being treated like this? Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you're not cooperating. Get on the ground. (INAUDIBLE)

CHEN: The officers handcuffed Nazario then stood him back up. He told them his dog was in the backseat and was choking from the pepper spray. Medics arrived and the conversation mellowed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would have been a two-minute traffic stop turned into all this.

CHEN: Nazario explained why he didn't immediately pull over.

NAZARIO: I was pulling over to a well-lit area for my safety and yours. I have respect for law enforcement.

CHEN: But Gutierrez said that wasn't the problem.

JOE GUTIERREZ, POLICE OFFICER: The climate we're in, with the media spewing with the race relations between minorities and law enforcement? I get ok.

So like I told you, as far as you not stopping, because you were uncomfortable and you wanted a well-lit spot, Lieutenant, that happens all the time. It happens to me a lot.

And it's -- I'll 80 percent of the time, not always, 80 percent of the time, it's a minority.

CHEN: And while the officers couldn't understand why Nazario didn't get out of the car as instructed --

(CROSSTALK)

CHEN: -- Nazario said he didn't know why he was being stopped.

NAZARIO: I never looked out the window and saw guns blazing immediately.

CHEN: Gutierrez eventually told Nazario that he had a conversation with the chief of police and was giving him the option to let this all go.

GUTIERREZ: There's no need for this to be on your record. I don't want it to be on your record. However, it's entirely up to you. If you want to fight and argue -- and I don't mean that disrespectfully, ok. I mean you have that right as a citizen.

If that's what you want. We'll charge you. It doesn't change my life one way either way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHEN: You heard that officer say it doesn't change his life whether the lieutenant is charged or not. But clearly now that the video has been shared widely online, all three of their lives are inevitably changed.

CNN has not yet been able to reach either officer at this time, and it's not clear if they have legal representation for this lawsuit.

CNN has also reached out to Windsor police and Windsor town leaders and we have not yet heard back, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it's pretty extraordinarily striking and shocking. We look forward to a response from all of those people that you've already reached out to. Thank you so much, Natasha Chen.

All right. Joining me right now to discuss is Tim Alexander, a civil rights attorney and a former detective who had a 27-year career in law enforcement after being a victim of police brutality as a teenager himself. And he's also running for a U.S. House Senate seat as a Democrat in New Jersey.

And we'll talk more about your story, your journey, and how you've been shaped in a moment. But first, I would love to get your reaction to all that we just saw.

TIM ALEXANDER, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: It was deplorable. It truly was deplorable. And it's important to point out that the vast majority of law enforcement officers in this country, men and women, are outstanding citizens that do a great job and they provide service to their community.

These two officers, particularly the contact officer, that's the person who had the most contact with the second lieutenant does not need to do another day on the streets of that community.

He is -- he was emotionally hijacked. He lost his bearings. And it was a motor vehicle stop. I would question, would he have acted that way if the driver of the vehicle was a 65, 70-year-old white woman? My answer is no.

WHITFIELD: And it's extraordinary because what we heard from the officer on that videotape, a lot of it very incriminating, right because he even said, you know, I understand looking for a well-lit area but the majority of the time something to the effect of it being minorities.

And then also rather threatening language, right? I mean it could be worse if you want to keep sparring with me essentially or we can just let it go. I mean, this only makes the matters even worse as it comes down to this lawsuit that has been filed and how the city, the police department might try to explain -- and the officers might try to explain this away.

ALEXANDER: And thank God, there was video to support what actually happened because if it was just those officers' version of the events we wouldn't even hear about this situation. It would just be a second lieutenant who was arrested for failing to obey the police.

But thank God for video and that, by the way, took me back to my own incident back in 1985 when --

WHITFIELD: Tell me about that.

ALEXANDER: -- when I was shot at. Sure, I was shot at, arrested, and beat up by the police, and it wasn't until the next day when we were in court that one of the -- the city attorneys representing the town came to me and said, oh, this is a huge mistake. If you just sign this release, we'll downgrade this and it will all go away.

Thank God I had my grandfather with me who had the wherewithal to say he's not signing anything. We have an attorney. And it worked out greatly for me. I was able to go on and have a wonderful law enforcement career and to try to effect change from within.

[14:09:53]

WHITFIELD: And how often do you think that has happened with the signing of the release and people then consequently becoming trapped, and especially in cases where they did nothing wrong and then now they've signed that acknowledgment, and can never really shake it for the rest of their lives?

ALEXANDER: Far too often. And we know that our criminal justice system is broken that sometimes innocent people just because they don't think they can win their case agree to things that they did not do.

And it just occurs way too often in our criminal justice system. And by the way if it happens once, and we know it happened in 1985 and it happened again there -- it's way, way too often.

WHITFIELD: Ok, so then you said that precipitated, in a strange way your experience precipitated your interest in going into law enforcement. And that's so perplexing because some people would think you were so turned off by your experience that no way. What enticed you then to go into law enforcement? What was your ambition along the way?

ALEXANDER: Although I was only 18, 19 years old at the time I had already expressed and took steps to join law enforcement. But that incident happened while I was trying -- my father passed away and my grandfather and I were trying to take care of his funeral arrangements.

And after all that happened I really was dejected and I didn't feel as though law enforcement was going to be my career choice. And it was my grandfather who actually said you're a far better person than these men will ever be. You have the opportunity here to be a police officer if that's what you want to do and you will be a much better police officer than they can ever hope to be and that's why I pursued it.

WHITFIELD: This video and this story, and even you sharing more about your personal story, all coming in the midst of the nation gripped with this Derek Chauvin trial. And his actions under the microscope, and hearing police chief and fellow colleagues testify that the decisions he made were unwarranted and wrong.

Listen to what an attorney for George Floyd family said yesterday last night, and this also on the precipice of Ben Crump telling me that one of the family members of George Floyd will be testifying as early as this week. But listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF STORMS, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: Well, I think that tells the world just how egregious this conduct was that the old playbook of the blue wall of silence can't even be used. And you know, for the family and the legal team and the world, when you look at all the officers who have come to testify against Derek Chauvin, topnotch experts who are testifying for free, you ask yourself if a white officer cannot be convicted of killing a black man under these circumstances, when can an officer be convicted?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So tell me about your point of view on what is usually the blue wall of silence, how in this case, you know, that that wall has been permeated to a degree and all juxtaposed with your personal experience in law enforcement and that wall of silence?

ALEXANDER: Sure. And take that particular point, of course, you have a parade of police officers coming in -- I can't say "of course". It's highly likely that Chauvin will be convicted because of that.

and that's what's needed. We need to re-train police officers to have the courage and conviction to recognize a criminal is a criminal, regardless of what his or her profession is.

And in this instance, it's working. The police officers are coming in from the chief on down. This is not law enforcement, this was not a proper use of force. This was murder, plain and simple. We need more officers to do the same thing.

And throughout my career I took that stance, some other officers did, some other officers did not. I want to see a point where, if you and I are police officers and we make an arrest, and I break the law in the process after that issue is resolved, you then turn to me and say, now, you're under arrest. Because that's when we will have a perfect police force.

WHITFIELD: And how will this all now equip you as you run for that Democratic House seat in New Jersey?

ALEXANDER: I have already framed out a re-training program, I want to blow up police training. I want to put some money with it to get it out to the departments that they have to recognize what the problem is, we have some solutions, we're going to work through, push it out and totally revamp how we put brand new officers into communities, particularly communities that don't look like them and they have never had an interaction with.

WHITFIELD: Tim Alexander, pleasure to meet you. Thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, we'll talk more about the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and discuss who the prosecution is expected to put on the stand this week.

Plus, coronavirus vaccinations in the U.S. are on the rise, but the surge of cases in Michigan, well that's a real reality check on how quickly variants of the virus are spreading.

[14:14:54] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: We're entering week three in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The prosecution could finish presenting its case this week which may include calling a member of George Floyd's family to the stand.

Adrienne Broaddus has been following this trial for us from Minneapolis, joining us now. So Adrienne, family attorney Ben Crump told me Floyd's brother may be called what should we be expecting from the prosecution as early as tomorrow?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fred, before a member of George Floyd's family takes the stand, we are also expecting to hear the prosecution call on a medical doctor, a doctor that was suppose to testify on Friday morning. That testimony was pushed to tomorrow.

[14:19:44]

BROADDUS: But by calling a member from George Floyd's family to the stand this is the prosecution returning to how it started. Keep in mind, during the first week of the trial we heard that emotional testimony from bystanders and other witnesses. We heard from the 9- year-old who just wanted to go to the store to get snacks.

By calling on this member of Floyd's family the prosecution will remind the jurors a life was taken. This was not just an incident but someone's life was ended. George Floyd was a brother, a father, an uncle, a boyfriend, a friend.

Keep in mind, on that video that we've all heard by now as Floyd's final moments were approaching, he called out, "tell my children I love them".

This family member who takes the stand will talk about Floyd's love for his children, his love for his family and he'll also talk about Floyd's chronic pain. Keep in mind the defense has made the argument Floyd's drug use paired with underlying medical conditions led to his death, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And of course, all the medical testimony this week disputed much of that saying if not for the intersection between Floyd and the police he would be alive as far as they could tell.

Adrienne Broaddus, thank you so much in Minneapolis, appreciate it.

All right. Coming up, Los Angeles opens a new chapter in the vaccination race. CNN's Paul Vercammen is live for us from Dodgers Stadium, Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Coming up in a few moments here, Fred, there's a lot of exuberance at Dodgers Stadium. Fans in the stands for the first time in a long time. But also, this continues to be a critical vaccination site nationwide.

We're going to talk to the Dodger president about that and more. That's coming up in just a few moments.

[14:21:29]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

The U.S. is breaking records as it races to vaccinate Americans against the coronavirus. The CDC announcing more than 4.6 million people received a shot on Saturday and that brings the total of vaccines administered in the last week to nearly 22 million doses.

But the threat from the coronavirus remains high. Michigan is in the middle of another wave, reporting thousands of new cases daily and more concerning, the rise of the U.K. variant in that state.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is live for us in Detroit with more on that. But first let's go to Los Angeles. CNN's Paul Vercammen at Dodgers stadium in L.A. where two major events are happening -- opening weekend for baseball and mass vaccinations.

Paul, Dodgers Stadium seems to have been the busiest of multitasking sites for months now.

VERCAMMEN: Oh, it seems like almost for a year -- think about these statistics, Fred, as the Dodgers welcome fans back for the first time this weekend, 375,000 vaccinations done here. We think that's the highest in the nation. More than a million COVID-19 tests. It was a major voting site. And all this when the team won the world series.

I'm going to bring in Dodger President Stan Kasten. So what is going through your mind right now when you reflect on this year?

STAN KASTEN, PRESIDENT, L.A. DODGERS: It was a year of great challenges But like everyone in our city, like everyone in our country, we came through it. we exercised our patience muscles and we're going to have to Keep doing that for a little while longer.

But we are much closer to the end than we are to the beginning. And we're very excited about it.

VERCAMMEN: You might know that the positivity rate of COVID-19 in California is 1 (ph) percent, thanks in large part to the aggressive vaccine campaign here. What does it feel to be part of that and will it continue as we open up more of California?

KASTEN: This community has supported this organization for 60 years in numbers greater than any other organization. And when we had a chance to do our part to give back to the community, we couldn't have been more proud to do that.

We are going to continue to run our vaccine centers for a while on game days. The hours will be adjusted, but as long as we can keep helping, we're going to keep -- because that's what the Dodgers do, and it's how much our community means to us. VERCAMMEN: And as the governor's promising a further reopening of

California, we see that we have zip ties on some seats because you're, of course, social distancing with fans.

KASTEN: Yes.

VERCAMMEN: What's the strategy right now in terms of all of the safety precautions?

KASTEN: Ok, we have -- even though we're allowed because of our tier to be at 33 percent, we've only sold 27 percent of our seats because we need to keep that six foot distance.

As that eases we'll be able to go up. We're hoping by May 1 we go into a lower tier which will allow us to do that. As you said the governor is hoping for a June 15th return to normalcy.

VERCAMMEN: Well, I know a lot of people would like to thank you because of the dent that you put in this huge problem with the pandemic in getting those shots into arms.

So again, thank you, Stan Kasten --

KASTEN: Yes. Thanks Paul. Great to be with you.

(CROSSTALK)

VERCAMMEN: And thanks for your organization and all you've done.

So there you have it, Fred, from Stan Kasten, the Dodgers president. They're going to continue to vaccinate here at Dodgers Stadium. Critical in the landscape of all of California.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you, Paul and Stan.

Polo Sandoval is in Detroit for us, a state seeing a troubling surge of new cases. Polo, what new measures is that state taking to mitigate the spread?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, multiple recommendations really. And what we did is heard from Michigan's governor today which essentially echoed what she said on Friday which his despite multiple attempts to try to have the Biden administration increase the vaccination, its allotment that's coming here to the state of Michigan, so far, those attempts have been unsuccessful.

The Biden administration saying right now, especially with the potential impact on supplies, it's not the time to revisit those allocations that multiple states are receiving.

[14:29:45]

SANDOVAL: So it is (ph) -- we heard again, as we said, a little while ago, from Governor Whitmer earlier today on CBS, essentially countering that message saying that what we're seeing here in Michigan could potentially be seen and felt elsewhere if they do not receive a surge in their vaccinations.

[14:30:04]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: I don't think there's a governor in the country that's leaving any vaccines on the table. I can tell you that's certainly the case with Michigan.

When there is a surge we think that it's important that we go to -- we rush in to meet where that need is, because what's happening in Michigan today could be what's happening in other states tomorrow and so it's on all of us to recognize we can squash where we're seeing hot spots, it's in everyone's best interest.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: As Paul mentioned, while the Biden administration is not yet increasing the vaccination allotment here in -- or at least the number of doses that are being shipped here to Michigan yesterday they did announce they will be sending dozens of FEMA vaccinators, essentially more boots on the ground.

But, Fred, here in Michigan, state officials are saying what we really need are more doses for the people of the state of Michigan.

WHITFIELD: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much in Detroit. Paul Vercammen from L.A., thank you so much.

Let's talk more about the situation in Michigan. Joining me right now is the director of Michigan's department of health and human services, Elizabeth Hertel.

Good to see you, Elizabeth.

So, we just heard Governor Whitmer's call for the White House to send more vaccines to your state. Is there any hope that you might get more vaccines? We know the Biden administration has said more personnel from FEMA in the CDC will come to assist in contact tracing, but what about vaccines?

ELIZABETH HERTEL, DIRECTOR, MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Good to see you. Thank you for having me on this afternoon.

We continue to have discussions with the White House and the federal government to make the case for surging vaccines to places that are seeing increases in case loads. Michigan obviously is one of those states, but in the interim, we are planning for the additional assistance with the -- for vaccinators and contact tracing and will continue to plan out for that.

WHITFIELD: And how will that help?

HERTEL: We'll be able to utilize a lot of those resources in some of our higher through put sites. We have that FEMA site in Detroit. We also have some other large mass vaccination sites around the state. We can utilize that personnel in those places, focus some of our vaccine allocation in those areas to move people through as quickly as possible.

WHITFIELD: And so to deal, or one way in which to deal with the surge of the new cases in your state, Governor Whitmer has asked people to take a voluntary two-week pause on indoor dining and gatherings. The idea of shutting down again, is that being ruled out?

HERTEL: We already have some pretty stringent restrictions in place in the state of Michigan. We're at 50 percent indoor dining. We have limitations on our gathering sizes indoors and outdoors. We're also recommending going back to virtual schooling for middle school and high school, pausing on student sports for a couple of weeks to try to bring those case rates down.

WHITFIELD: The U.K. variant has become a dominant strain really across the country. Michigan is reporting the second highest number of cases of the variant, only behind Florida.

So what are you doing if anything to prevent that variant from infecting more people? Is there anything you can do?

HERTEL: So we know that that variant is more transmissible and I think that that is one of the reasons we're seeing these outbreaks currently. And we know that the mitigation measures that we have in place, and that we recommend work, even for the variants.

So continuing to mask, continuing to social distance, continuing to avoid gatherings hopefully going to virtual for schools, pausing those sports, and focusing more on outdoor dining instead of going inside will help mitigate that transmission.

WHITFIELD: And more on that notion of middle schools, high schools mostly going virtual as you just suggest, is that the case, that it is that much more worrying that the number of young people who are being hospitalized with coronavirus in Michigan has escalated, and do you have any -- any sources to blame on that?

HERTEL: I don't know if there's anything to blame except COVID. However, you know, we did see the number of hospitalizations in our populations 65 and older are significantly down and we know that population has been vaccinated so we're seeing younger individuals in the hospitals, so trying to keep those kids, especially younger kids, out of those gatherings, away from groups, we'll hopefully stem some of that transmission across the state.

WHITFIELD: All right. Elizabeth Hertel, thank you so much for joining us. All the best to you.

HERTEL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up next, live insult and profanity. President Trump takes aim at a key member of his party. Details coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:38:55]

WHITFIELD: Former President Trump is once again blasting his own party in a profanity laced tirade last night at a swanky six figure donor dinner. Trump railed again that the election was stolen from him and that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is, quote, a stone-cold loser and a dumb SOB, and even mocked McConnell's wife Elaine Chao, Trump's former transportation secretary.

Today, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas says the divisions need to stop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: Anything that's divisive is a concern, and it's not helpful for us fighting the battles in Washington and at the state level. In some ways, it's not a big deal what he said but at the same time whenever it draws attention we don't need that.

We need unity. We need to be focused together. We have slim majorities, or slim numbers in Washington. And we've got battles to fight. So we need to get beyond that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is in South Florida covering GOP events.

[14:40:02]

So, Donie, Trump can't let go of the big lie and it seems the Republican Party doesn't want to break free of him either.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Fred.

A person who was in the room at Mar-a-Lago last night during that speech told our colleague Kevin Liptak that when Trump called Mitch McConnell a dumb SOB, that that was met with huge applause. Trump was also, we're told, very critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci and even suggested the vaccine should be called the Trump-cine, taking credit for the vaccine, which is notable given that Trump didn't publicize when he himself took the vaccine while he was in the White House in January.

But as you said, the major theme of last night, it all comes back to the big lie. He made clear that he doesn't accept essentially the results of the election. He is convinced he won, and that is something that we're seeing percolate down through the Republican Party to the Trump base.

We -- just about an hour and a half south of Mar-a-Lago at another Trump property, there was a Women for Trump group that helped organize the protest that preceded the insurrection on January 6th. And there we heard many of the conspiracy theories that the president is repeating. I had a conversation with one woman there about conspiracy theories and about lies. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KINNET EHRING MCSWEENEY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'SULLIVAN: And that fundamentally there is the issue facing the Republican Party, this embrace of a total parallel universe of conspiracy theory where the election wasn't legitimate or paving a path forward. Obviously, we are seeing that many Republicans, many senior Republicans are slow to come out and criticize the former president.

WHITFIELD: So, Donie, that one woman says conspiracies exist, but I don't think anyone's arguing that these things exist, the lies exist, the conspiracies exist, it's a matter of embracing it. So what's the explanation as to why people knowingly are embracing information that's not true?

O'SULLIVAN: Well, I guess you see that ecosystem that many folks are living in, they get their information from hyperpartisan sources, they get it from Trump supporting outlets.

So, for many people, the big lie, the conspiracy theory about the election, denial that January 6th was involving Trump supporters, that is their reality, and, you know, where the -- where the line -- where you draw the line between whether they are embracing this because they support Trump, and knowingly are embracing a lie or what are they actually believing, that's something that's very, very difficult to measure. But what we are seeing from speaking so to so many people around the country is that this is dividing many families.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, we've seen lots of evidence of that, people who are talking about the separation between, you know, children and their parents over these very issues.

All right. Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much.

And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:48:38]

WHITFIELD: President Biden's plea for trillions of dollars in money for infrastructure will be the top priority when Congress returns to work tomorrow. He's set to meet with the bipartisan group of lawmakers, the president says he's prepared to compromise, but that may not be enough to get his bill through the U.S. Senate.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny looks at one of the places most in need of the money.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the face of Americas failing infrastructure. It's the Brent Spence Bridge, crossing the Ohio River from Cincinnati, to northern Kentucky, and one of the busiest trucking routes in the country. For years, it has also been a political football.

BRAD SLABAUGH, VP AND GENERAL MANAGER, HILLTOP CONCRETE: It's been batted around by both parties, for a very long time. So, the need is now.

ZELENY: At Hilltop Concrete, Brad Slabaugh has had a front row streak to a trail of those broken promises.

SLABAUGH: We have President Obama speak here, almost 10 years ago, about the need for a bridge, and nothing had happened.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Behind us stands the Brent Spence Bridge. It is in such poor condition that it's been labeled functionally obsolete.

ZELENY: The Obama infrastructure plan, failed in Congress.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: What a nice crowd.

ZELENY: And this pledge five years later --

TRUMP: Replacing the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, you got that? Which is critical to the region.

[14:50:01]

ZELENY: -- rings hollow, as a Trump plan never materialized.

BRENT COOPER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NORTHERN KENTUCKY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: It's been extremely frustrating. We've gone through multiple presidents, President Obama, President Trump, and now, President Biden. And we're hoping that something will, finally, get done.

ZELENY: President Biden's proposal is bigger and bolder, going far beyond just roads and bridges.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To automatically say that the only thing that is infrastructures a highway, or a bridge, whatever, it's just not rational.

ZELENY: Biden's $2 trillion American Jobs Plan calls for much more, including $100 billion to explain broadband Internet, $400 billion to increase wages for those who care for the elderly, and $45 billion to replace lead pipes.

To pay for it, Biden wants to raise the corporate tax rate from 21 to 28 percent, a proposal causing Republicans, like Senator Rob Portman, to recoil.

What is more problematic in it right now? The definition of infrastructure, or how it is proposed to be financed?

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): Well, both. I mean, for the president to start off with tax increases, he knows that that's a nonstarter for most Republicans, maybe all Republicans.

ZELENY: Senator Sherrod Brown, and other Democrats, say majority of Americans support raising corporate taxes. But above all, want Congress to act.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): It's a bill that's going to meet the needs, the crying needs for a generation of rebuilding our country.

ZELENY: It's a critical test, not only for Biden's agenda, but for whether government can deliver on his promises.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's definitely time to fix it.

ZELENY: The Brent Spence Bridge opened nearly 60 years ago, for 80,000 vehicles a day. Now, more than twice as many cross it, including trucks, carrying $1.1 billion worth of freight, daily. Causing traffic jams, and fiery crashes, like this one last fall.

MARK POLICINSKI, CEO, OHIO-KENTUCKY-INDIANA REGIONAL COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS (OKI): We've been promised, so many times, that this will be pushed across the goal line. I think it is different. People understand, today, better than they ever have, how vulnerable an economy is.

ZELENY: Back along the Ohio River, the gridlock is bad for Slabaugh's business. He said he likes most of what's in Biden's infrastructure bill, and paying for it may be something companies just have to swallow.

SLABAUGH: I'm not a big proponent of tax increases, but the bridge doesn't need to be built, in one fashion or another.

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ZELENY (on camera): There is widespread agreement infrastructure projects like this bridge here and others across the country must be fixed. The question, of course, is how to pay for it. President Biden inviting lawmakers from both parties to the White House to begin negotiations.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Covington, Kentucky.

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WHITFIELD: And still to come, the royal family in mourning. What Queen Elizabeth is saying about the loss of her husband, Prince Philip.

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WHITFIELD: Incredible pictures today from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent.

You can see heavy ash is covering the trees. The island is experiencing major power and water outages following a series of eruptions. The prime minister says it could take up to four months to turn things around.

Funeral plans are now set for England's Prince Philip who died Friday at the age of 99. The service will take place next Saturday at Windsor Castle with a limited number of guests, and Queen Elizabeth telling her family that the loss of her husband of 73 years has left a huge void in her life.

CNN royal correspondent Max Foster joining me now from Windsor.

So, Max, what more are you learning?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the family's really just coming to terms with things. There was a church service here in Windsor today, and two of Philip's sons were there. So, Prince Andrew was there, Prince Edward was there, and Prince Edward's wife as well, the countess of Wessex.

And they came to the cameras afterwards and expressed some of their thoughts, saying the queen was bearing up, thinking about other people before herself as usual. They were saying and this is what Prince Andrew said in credit to his father.

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PRINCE ANDREW, DUKE OF YORK: He was a remarkable plan. I loved him as a father. He was so calm. If you had a problem, he would think about it.

And that's the great thing that I always think about is that he was always somebody you could go to and he would always listen. And so it's a great loss. I think the other way I would put it is that we've lost almost the grandfather of the nation.

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FOSTER: Really speaking for the nation in many ways, Fredricka, the countess of Wessex giving detail about Prince Philip, the way Prince Philip died. It was -- she said it was peaceful and it was as if someone had taken his hand and he'd gone away. So some -- a positive ending, if you like, but it's never easy, is it,

whatever the circumstances. And Princess Ann released a photograph of her with her father at the Olympics. They were very, very close indeed. She wasn't there for the church service but she said you know it's going to happen but you're never really ready for it.

And I think that speaks obviously for anyone that experiences a parent dying, whatever the age.

WHITFIELD: That's right. Nothing could ever prepare you.

All right. Max Foster, thank you so much. We'll check again with you.

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WHITFIELD: All right. Hello, again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.