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CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Maintains His Influence Over The GOP From Mar-a-Lago; Testimony Resumes Monday In Derek Chauvin Trial; Investigation Of Rep. Gaetz; Pandemic Rise In Michigan; Prince Philip Funeral; CNN Heroes 15th Anniversary. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 11, 2021 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:43]

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'll Jim Acosta in Washington.

Serving up insults and peddling the big lie. That's former President Donald Trump who is still sounding like a sore loser. Desperate to rewrite history and speaking to a room of Republican donors at Mar-a- Lago last night, Trump called the results BS, slammed his own vice president for certifying them and worked in less than flattering remarks about Mitch McConnell.

Perhaps one Republican lobbyist put it best when he told the "New York Times," and this is a quote, "Trump made grievances into the entree." Yet many in the GOP are still worshiping at the altar of the one-time president. But former House speaker John Boehner is sounding the alarm about the future of the party, especially in the wake of the Capitol insurrection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOEHNER (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: It was sad. Revolting. And literally, I couldn't watch it anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did it make you angry?

BOEHNER: Oh, yes, it made me angry.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And was there anything you could do?

BOEHNER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In the book, you write about political terrorists leading to actual terrorism?

BOEHNER: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was this the outgrowth of the mindset that you've been describing?

BOEHNER: Yes, no question about it. This has been the most extreme example of political terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Would you say Donald Trump is a political terrorist?

BOEHNER: Donald Trump is a product of the political divisions that we have seen grown in our country over the last 20 years.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: He's a product. But he also knew how to play the justice system you described.

BOEHNER: He has a little different style than I do.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is live in Miami, Florida.

Donie, what else did Trump have to say? He had a lot to say, it sounds like.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jim, yes, not surprising he did indeed have a lot to say. He suggested that Republicans don't fight as hard as Democrats. Here's what he said about Mitch McConnell. He said, "If that were Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer instead of a dumb son of a bitch Mitch McConnell, they would never allow it to happen. They would have fought it."

Our colleague, Kevin Liptak, has said when Trump said that about McConnell, a person in room told Kevin that that was met with applause. Here's also what else he had to say, he said that Pence had failed him for certifying the electoral college results and refusing to overturn the -- overturn them, and he made clear he did not accept the results of the 2020 to election as valid. And also said everybody should be calling the coronavirus vaccine the Trump-cine.

And two things from that, Jim, I think that are important. One on the vaccine, it's quite notable that he wants it to be called the Trump- cine given that when he actually took the vaccine himself he did not do so publicly. We only learned about it afterward when he had left the White House.

I have been speaking to Trump supporters in between that time who were hesitant about the vaccine and they weren't convinced that Trump was going to take it or that he would take it. So had he come out at the time, that might have been helpful with the vaccine hesitancy that we're seeing among some Trump supporters.

But I think the most important thing what heard from what happened in Mar-a-Lago last night from Trump was that the continuing perpetuation of the big lie about the election, to have a former president of the United States coming out and saying that he essentially does not accept the results of the election, it's that conspiracy theory that enables basically everything else. It enables the justifications and the reasons for people who took part in the January 6th insurrection.

And then it also leads into the sort of more crazy conspiracy theories like QAnon. It is that central big lie that is still going to be this major, major challenge for the Republican Party -- Jim.

ACOSTA: If only there were a vaccine for the big lie. All right, Donie O'Sullivan, thank you very much.

And joining me now, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for The Grio, April Ryan, and CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart.

Alice, let me start with you first. Trump cost Republicans the House, the Senate, the White House, he incited an insurrection, he was impeached twice. He's more than willing to trash members of his own party. We heard how Boehner feels about it. Why are Republicans still flocking to Mar-a-Lago to hear him speak?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There are several reasons for that, Jim, and if you just look on the surface, three big standouts for this past weekend, certainly with regard to fundraising, with regard to sort of a family reunion, but also a way to build the base.

[16:05:07]

But, Jim, the underlying current that we are seeing here is the new reality. And it's not the reality show of "The Apprentice." It is the "Fear Factor." Fear by many that they will get on the wrong side of Trump. Fear that they will suffer in fundraising if they do so, and fear that the president will come out and speak out against them.

And some also fear they could lose their position within the party. So that's a big factor because the president, with all the faults, he does have strong support from the base. And Republicans understand the goal to winning moving forward is to keep that base on board, but also to reel in the people that we lost in this last election.

ACOSTA: Yes. But he still sounds the biggest loser, April, and Trump aide Jason Miller told the "New York Times," quote, "All roads lead to Mar-a-Lago," and to that point the campaign arm of House Republicans is using an aggressive tactic -- this is just astounding -- to push online donors toward committing to monthly contributions saying online, this is just incredible.

It says right now, "We need to know we haven't lost you to the radical left. If you uncheck this box," this is what it says on screen. "We will have to tell Trump you're a defector and sided with the Democrats."

In other words, if you don't let them take the single amount of money out of your bank account every month you're being disloyal to the president. I mean, this -- what do you make of that?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a bully tactic and it's illegal, as we know. And as we've seen that was wrong and he has to give back that money. But at the end of the day, Jim, people are afraid of the bully former president. I mean, you even see Sly Stallone, Sylvester Stallone went to Mar-a-Lago. People are afraid of him to be on the wrong side of him because he will call them out.

What did they do yesterday? He called Mitch McConnell an SOB. That's not the first time we've heard him call someone SOB. Remember when he was president he called those who took the knee about police brutality, deadly police brutality -- he called them, who happened to be black NFL players, sons of bitches. That's not the first time. He is a bully.

And then we also know that Mike Pence will not be on the ticket if he does run again for president. You know, he called him failed. So at the end of the day, this man, this former president, still has power because what he says causes the base to stir up against those who he is against. So that's why you're seeing people flock to Mar-a-Lago. That's why you're seeing people give money, even if it's illegally.

ACOSTA: Alice, former House speaker John Boehner, he is not a member of the Trump base. He is saying in this new book, even Ronald Reagan could not get elected in today's Republican Party. Do you agree with that?

STEWART: In some degrees, yes. And as you had a great interview with Harry Reid yesterday, and Harry said one thing about John Boehner, he calls it like it is. He doesn't hold any punches and he says exactly what's on his behind. And John Boehner in some degrees is right. The current face of the Republican Party is not emblematic of the Republican Party of years old. But that is just what we're seeing in terms of tone and tenor.

I truly believe that the heart and soul of the Republican Party is the way it was back in the Ronald Reagan era. It is about limited government. It is about free-market capitalism, strong on immigration, religion, pro-life, Second Amendment. And that's what we need to get back to, focus more on the policies and get away from the personalities. Because that is the brash abrasive personality that we had over the last five years that cost us the House, the Senate, and the White House.

So if we can focus more on the policies and get back to the Ronald Reagan era, that is a winning formula moving forward.

ACOSTA: Yes, and April, I spoke to Harry Reid, as Alice just mentioned. And here's what he told me about the Republican Party's embrace of Trump. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: 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?

HARRY REID (D), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Yes.

ACOSTA: Can you expand on that?

REID: Well, what is going on with the Republican Party now is not Republican party that was defined over the many years as a party of conservative thought, fiscal integrity. So I think that the Republican Party needs to understand where they are. And I think their being where they are is only good for Democrats. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: What do you think? Is he right?

RYAN: He's absolutely right. Donald Trump, when he was president, and after his presidency, is rallying the Democrats to go to the polls. And Democrats are winning because of Donald Trump. And that's why you're seeing all of these anti-voting rights efforts and restrictive efforts.

[16:10:09]

But I will go back to something that Alice said. Alice said, you know, right now the party is a party of Reagan. Maybe to an extent. But it's also a party that's anti-browning party. This is a party that does not like the browning of America. This is a party that is cheating at the polls.

This is a party that is doing anything by any means necessary to continue the try to win so there are a lot of underhanded tactics that we see that have been placed in courtrooms, that have been placed in the court of public opinion as it relates to the Republican Party and their efforts to try to get anything pushed through that they want.

So the Democrats are rallying, they're getting more people. You've got people like Stacey Abrams and more that are bringing more people to the fold to fight against this at the polls.

ACOSTA: Alice, is April right? Is this a Republican Party that's against the browning of America? You're from Georgia. They had this voter legislation that was just passed recently. What do you make of what April just said?

STEWART: I disagree with that strongly. The Republican Party certainly has lost crucial races in the last several years. But the key is, it's important to keep in mind, Donald Trump lost, period. No questions about that. But he also received eight million more votes than he did back in 2016 so we are having more Republicans coming to the table. But the key is to keep them on toward and bring in the people that we lost.

I commend Stacey Abrams 100 percent for the work that she did. Her and people like LaTosha Brown rallying voters in Georgia. They won two more Senate seats. And hats off to them for the good work they did. But I see that more as their strong efforts and Democrats coming out in the state of Georgia as opposed to Republicans who are sitting at home for any other reason than the fact that they didn't like the way that President Trump handled the election.

They didn't like the fact he questioned the certification of the election. And they certainly did not like the way that he treated some of the constitutional officers in the state of Georgia. So that was a big factor in why Republicans didn't come out more than anything. More as the tone and tenor of this presidency was the biggest factor.

ACOSTA: All right, April Ryan -- RYAN: What about Texas? The effort to suppress the black vote in

Houston. So let's go there.

ACOSTA: All right, well, you know what, ladies, we're going to have to leave it at that. But April and Alice, I think this is just a preview of coming attractions. We're going to have you both back to talk about this. And next time, you know, you were a little nice to one another on this one. Next time maybe we can sharpen the differences. We'll have you back and talk more about all these issues.

April and Alice, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

RYAN: Thanks, Jim.

STEWART: Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, see you.

Testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin moves into its third week tomorrow. The defense will likely present their case this week. Will Derek Chauvin himself take the stand? Benjamin Crump, the attorney for George Floyd's family, joins me live next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:17:13]

ACOSTA: Week three of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial begins tomorrow. Here's a reminder of the devastating testimony jurors were left with before breaking for the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTOR: In terms of manner of death, you found then and do you stand by today that the manner of death for Mr. Floyd was, as you would call it, homicide?

DR. ANDREW BAKER, HENNEPIN COUNTY CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER: Yes, I would still classify it as a homicide today.

DR. LINDSEY THOMAS, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: The activities of the law enforcement officers resulted in Mr. Floyd's death. There is no evidence to suggest he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Both the Hennepin County chief medical examiner and a forensics pathologist, a veteran forensic pathologist, saying under oath that George Floyd died as a direct result of Chauvin's knee bearing into his neck.

Attorney Benjamin Crump represents the Floyd family. He has been in the courtroom throughout the trial. Ben, great to have you back. We appreciate it. Do you think that

testimony that we just heard there -- and there was other expert testimony that we saw throughout the week -- do you think that's going to be enough to convince every juror to convict? You know, that has always been a concern, that there might be one juror that could stand out. But what do you think?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: Well, Jim, I think it's very compelling the evidence that was presented. I think the state is presenting a very strategic display of evidence to hold Derek Chauvin criminally liable for killing George Floyd.

Just the fact that you heard those police officers, including the police chief, come and say before a jury in a court of law that what this police officer did violated policy and violated our ethics is very rare, Jim, when you have police coming in front of the blue wall of silence to tell the truth when it is a marginalized minority that has been abused by law enforcement.

So I believe in my heart that Derek Chauvin will be convicted, understanding completely that the American justice system has broken my heart on many occasions.

ACOSTA: And Chauvin's defense attorney was able to get the Hennepin County medical examiner to say under oath that the level of Fentanyl in Mr. Floyd's system could have been fatal in another context. Let's listen to that and get you to comment then on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BAKER: Had Mr. Floyd been home alone in his locked residence with no evidence of trauma and the only autopsy finding was that Fentanyl level, then, yes, I would certify his death as due to Fentanyl toxicity. Again, interpretation of drug concentration is very context dependent.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Do you think that comment there gives the jurors in the room to find a reasonable doubt? Could they find some reasonable doubt in that comment?

[16:20:09]

CRUMP: Well, you would never know what a jury is going to do. But understand what was the last comment from the medical examiner. Everything has to be put in context.

And when you put it in context, what we witnessed on that video for Derek Chauvin putting his knee on George Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, and every other person testifying that he died from positional asphyxiation, and even the medical examiner himself concluded that despite the defense's attempt to distract, the jury is hearing compelling evidence, medical evidence, to corroborate what they already saw with their eyes and heard in that courtroom consistently. I will say this, Jim. I have been a civil rights lawyer for the

balance of my entire professional career. But I have been black all of my life. And so I know that we can never take for granted that a police officer will be held accountable for killing a black person in America unjustly despite whatever evidence we have.

ACOSTA: And some of the most compelling testimony this week came from that renowned pulmonary expert Dr. Martin Tobin. Everybody was talking about this after he testified. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONARY EXPERT: On 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 extraordinarily 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.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Just incredible. And did the Floyd family expect this testimony to be so emotional? How did that -- how did the family respond to that testimony?

CRUMP: Well, they were thankful that Dr. Tobin presented such powerful testimony. But it was very, very emotional for them. For us, George Floyd is a case, it's a cause. He's a hashtag. But for them, Jim, that's their family.

That's their blood. You know, his brothers grew up sleeping in the bed with him, and he always protected them. And so to watch those videos and not be able to protect him when he needed them the most is just very emotional for them on so many levels.

But I will say this. Dr. Tobin completely destroyed the defense's theory that it was a trace amount of drugs or a health condition. He said even a healthy person who had no issues whatsoever -- if they had to deal with what he witnessed on that video, they, too, would have died.

ACOSTA: And as you know, Benjamin, you know that the defense is likely to present their case this week. And they are expected to go after Floyd's character, drug use, and so on. How are you preparing the family for what's ahead? Obviously, they have had to deal with an awful lot up until this point. But I imagine this is going to be a big test for the family.

CRUMP: You are correct, Jim. It's going to be a very big test for them because they are going to hear their brother, their father, their loved one called everything but a child of God. They are going to talk about him as a person having an opioid addiction. They are going to try to use that as the basis to say, that's why he died.

Well, Jim, millions of Americans have opioid addictions. Some of the viewers watching now may know a family member or a loved one who is battling with an opioid addiction. It's almost an epidemic in America. And so are we to believe that just because there is an opioid epidemic that they are going to fall dead even though George Floyd was walking, talking, breathing, doing just fine when we saw him in that video?

And just completely try to disregard this knee on this neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds when everybody out there on the scene, the bystanders, even the person watching the camera at the 911 headquarters said that you are going to kill him? Take your knee off his neck.

[16:25:00]

And so I believe, despite whatever distractions they offer, as long as we focus in on what we saw occur on May 25th, 2020, that this will set a precedence in America. George Floyd's case is a tipping point, hopefully for equal justice for all American citizens so we can make -- when we say liberty and justice for all really mean just that.

ACOSTA: It certainly will be a tipping point.

All right, Benjamin Crump, we'll be watching all of this, as you will as well. And we hope to have you come back. Thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.

CRUMP: Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: Coming up, Congressman Matt Gaetz pulls from the Trump playbook as he faces allegations of sex trafficking, prostitution, and a relationship with a minor. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:30:00]

ACOSTA: Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida, who is under investigate for prostitution and sex trafficking, is now fund-raising off the scandal. In an email to supporters, Gaetz compares his situation to what former President Trump went through.

Quote, a friend, "Here we go," this is what is says here, "Here we go again, just another media hoax. Do you remember the fake Russia hoax? Their attempt to frame General Flynn? I do and now they are coming for me. They have smeared my name while creating another partisan witch hunt all because I dare to stand up with them."

And joining me now to talk about some of this is former Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill. She struck up an unlikely friendship with Gaetz while she was in office. And Gaetz defended her when nude photos of her with a staffer were leaked online. It was a scandal that, ultimately led to her resignation.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it. I know you were horrified that Gaetz invoked your name and what happened to you in that op-ed that he put out the other day about why he wouldn't resign. You called it gross. Do you want an apology from Congressman Gaetz? KATIE HILL (D-CA), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: I mean, if he is not

going to apologize for the scandal that he's in to the Americans that are, you know, embroiled in it, I'm not expecting any kind of apology to me.

But I think that, you know, there are two things. First, it's -- I find it horrifying that my own scandal with -- which involved a consenting adult and his that involves, you know, a person that's under 18. That involves sex trafficking. That involves, you know, all kinds of abhorrent behavior. They are not the same. Let's not pretend they are the same. And, you know, that's one of the reasons it offended me so much.

And then, the other thing is that he defended me when I had naked pictures that were shared without my consent. And then, come to find out that that's pretty much what he was doing or is certainly accused of doing by multiple people on the floor of the House of Representatives.

And so, on a -- for me, that kind of -- that just shuts it off, right. Like, those -- you can't -- you can't defend me for the same thing that you're going to do. And you certainly can't compare my scandal to the one that he's facing right now.

ACOSTA: And lot has been made of the fact that Gaetz is following the Trump playbook when it comes to approaching scandal. He is denying it. He is remaining totally defiant to the point he actually saw no problem with speaking at a women's event over the weekend. And quoting former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Let's listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: A little strange, isn't that, Miss Hill?

HILL: Yes, I mean, certainly the organization -- the quote, unquote, "women's organization" that invited him deserves as much criticism. But, man, that's a -- that's a level of I don't even know, chutzpah that is just overwhelming to me. That you would -- that you would show up at a women's event right now.

ACOSTA: And, so far, only one Republican member of Congress, Adam Kinzinger, has called on Gaetz to resign. When Liz Cheney was asked about it today, she called the allegations sickening. But she didn't go as far as Kinzinger did. When you compare that to what you went through, do you think there is a double standard for women, but also for Democrats?

HILL: Well, there is absolutely a double standard. And I resigned before there were major calls for my resignation from my own party, because I felt a personal obligation to. I felt like I made a mistake, and I owed it to the people of my district. I owed it to my colleagues.

I owed it to, you know, the people that I had let down to not further embroil them in the scandal. And to step aside and to say, I -- you know, I need the do my own healing. I need to step away from this position of power. And that's the right thing to do.

In his case, you know, and in men's case in general, when they are faced with this kind of scandal, we just see over and over again that they deny, deny, deny. And they refuse to apologize and they wait it out. And, you know, at least in the case of, for example, Cuomo, he -- we saw that he at least was called on to resign by his Democratic colleagues.

He didn't, and he probably is -- you know, I think we're just going to see him ride it out in the same way that other male politicians have. But the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that they -- Democrats at least want to hold our people to high standards. And the GOP just circles the wagons and says you know, they're our people. We're going to protect them. And that's that.

And, you know, considering how much heat Liz Cheney has faced from Matt Gaetz, and -- I'm shocked that even she's not going forth and telling him that he should resign.

[16:35:05]

ACOSTA: Are you disappointed in Liz Cheney?

HILL: I have no -- I have no right to be disappointed in her or not. But I think that it's -- it is just shocking that -- you know, because there are so many reasons that he should resign. Even if -- you know, even if this piece of investigation is still going on.

You've got multiple people who have said that he was sharing the photos on the House -- on the House floor. We've got -- you know, this -- he's embroiled in an investigation by the very department that he oversees on his committee in the Judiciary Committee.

So, it's, like, the best thing for his district and for the people would be to step aside and say, look, I've got this stuff that I've got to clean up and I'm going to step away from the public right now which is exactly what I did. But we never, ever, ever see men do that.

And I think that's it's just -- that's indicative of the double standard that we're facing in that -- you know, I don't want to say that it's the -- that I did the wrong thing by stepping down. But it certainly is clear that, in terms of political expedience and in terms of your political career, I don't know if, as a woman, I could have ridden it out in the same way that these men seem to do.

ACOSTA: And you had a friendship with Matt Gaetz. I just want to ask you very quickly, Miss Hill. I want to know, did you ever see any warning signs of this kind of behavior? There are all sorts of allegations that have been made. Was he acting like an out-of-control frat boy up on the Hill, as far as you could tell? HILL: I mean, I didn't have personal experiences like that. I think

that -- you know, I said this before. My judgment, when it comes to men, has clearly not been the best. But I think that -- you know, I saw him as a -- there was banter. There was friendly banter.

We were on the same committee. We were about the same age. It was actually a bipartisan committee, for once. You know, it's the only one left on armed services. And I saw him as, certainly, broey (ph). But I've been friends with broey people before and it's often fairly harmless.

I didn't know that he had voted against an anti-revenge porn bill in Florida. He had been one of the only ones to vote against it. But even most recently when the organization that I -- that I found, her time, we've been working on getting a federal statute to criminalize, you know, the sharing of non-consensual nude photos. And he voted against that just recently, too.

So, I think if I had known some of those things, I certainly -- you know, I would have had more red flags to begin with. And probably my radar should have picked up on it.

But, look, that's just -- that just is what it is and I have to continue to grow. And I do -- I really do hope that -- this is the piece that I think that I wish for anybody who's gone through a scandal is that people -- if you admit fault. If you say, I've done something wrong. I'm sorry. Then you can learn and you can grow from it.

But if you refuse to. If you say, I did nothing wrong. I did -- you know, I'm not going to say I did anything wrong. I'm not going to apologize for it and I'm not going to resign. There is no way that you can grow as a person and that you can recognize that things you've done in the past have been wrong and problematic.

ACOSTA: It sounds like we're not seeing a whole lot of personal growth from Matt Gaetz right now. Former Congresswoman Katie Hill, thank you so much for your time. Thanks for that perspective. We appreciate it. Hope to see you again soon.

HILL: Thanks. Good to talk to you, Jim.

ACOSTA: And now, a preview of a powerful new CNN series, "The People Versus The Klan," premiering tonight on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have got black man hanging from a tree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Donald was an innocent good Samaritan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No doubt, the Klan is behind this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was my baby and nothing they do can bring him back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must continue to fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stakes could not be higher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an incredible story of courage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: A powerful new CNN series, "The People Versus The Klan," tonight at 9:00 on CNN.

[16:39:27]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Light at the end of the tunnel is looking pretty dim in Michigan. The state is seeing a surge of Coronavirus cases. Governor Gretchen Whitmer is relying on personal responsibility to stop the spread, asking, but not mandating, that people stay indoors. The situation in Michigan is a reality check for other states that could soon be the new hot spot as vaccination rates go up and precautions goes down.

CNN Polo Sandoval has more from Detroit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If ever there was a critical time to double down on Coronavirus protective measures in the state of Michigan, it's right now. From COVID-19 positivity rates not seen since the start of the pandemic to hospitalizations nearing December peak levels, it's not getting any better in the wolverine state.

ROB DAVIDSON, EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR, MICHIGAN: With pandemic fatigue, with the unique challenge here in Michigan of a very, sort of, anti- Coronavirus movement with about half of our population, people who don't want to wear masks, don't want to distance, I think getting vaccine shots in arms is -- it's our ultimate defense.

SANDOVAL: Repeated calls from Michigan leaders to the Biden administration asking to increase their vaccine allotments have been unsuccessful so far.

LT. GOV. GARLIN GILCHRIST (D), MICHIGAN: In every conversation we are having, at every level of the federal government, we are asking for more help for more vaccines.

SANDOVAL: Hoping to help curb the rise in outbreaks, Governor Gretchen Whitmer asked high schools to go remote, youth sports to pause, and people skip indoor dining for at least the next two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, redouble your efforts.

SANDOVAL: But these are only recommendations, insists the governor, not the mandated sweeping shutdowns from a year ago that made her the subject of criticism and even death threats. [16:45:02]

GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: 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.

SANDOVAL: Andy Witkowski, a Detroit area special education teacher, wants to see a more aggressive move from the state leaders. Perhaps, make those requests requirements.

ANDY WITKOWSKI, SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER, DETROIT: I think it fell short that she didn't mandate it. I think that the reason our numbers are spiked is because we've opened up. Schools are back. They haven't had an uptick in the sports here.

SANDOVAL: Other Michiganders, like Leah Fairbanks, stand behind the governor's approach.

LEAH FAIRBANKS, NURSE, DETROIT: Whitmer is a rock star. You know, she's doing her best. It's a pandemic. When it comes down to it, people are either going to take care of themselves and take care of each other or they're not.

SANDOVAL: Jordan Ross is frustrated that his peers are choosing not to.

JORDAN ROSS: I'm seeing a lot of students. You know, they know the issues that are going on, but they're still choosing to either go out and hang out with friends or go to, like, Florida or things like that. So, that's kind of concerning to me.

SANDOVAL: The state's medical executive says nearly 1,000 COVID-19 outbreaks are being traced in Michigan, linked to indoor dining, bars, youth sporting events, and K through 12 classes.

DR. JONEIGH KHALDUN, CHIEF MEDICAL EXECUTIVE, MICHIGAN: Our public health system is overwhelmed. We are not able to get information on many cases, nor are we able to identify their close contacts.

SANDOVAL: There is also the spread of the highly infectious COVID-19 variants. Some 2,200 cases identified in Michigan, though experts say there are likely more.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL (on camera): And top Michigan officials, Jim, have received word recently that the Biden Administration would be sending another round of assistance here to hard-hit Michigan. In the form of about 160 FEMA vaccinators. These are, essentially, boots on the ground that will assist in the -- actually, administering some of these vaccines.

Officials here on the ground, Jim, while they say they'd certainly appreciate any kind of help they can get, what they're still after is a boost in the number of vaccine doses that they are receiving here. Their argument is that Michigan remains unquestionably a nation COVID hot spot.

ACOSTA: Yes, they've got to get that situation under control in Michigan, no question about it. All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks so much for the report.

Coming up. Will Prince Harry, in his return to the U.K. for his grandfather's funeral, will that help heal a royal rift in the family? We'll go to Windsor Castle, next.

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ACOSTA: Former British Prime Minister John Major says the funeral for Britain's Prince Philip could be an ideal opportunity to mend any rifts in the royal family.

CNN Royal Correspondent Max Foster joins us now from Windsor, England. Max, what do you think about that? Prince Philip's death comes about a month after Harry and Meghan gave that bombshell interview to Oprah. What more can you tell us? Can there be a rift mended here?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's a little of hope. I think what John Major is really speaking to there is that families often do come together in a crisis. So, a real hope that Harry and William, in particular, will be able to find some common ground through this family crisis, perhaps with Charles as well. Of course, the Duchess of Sussex isn't coming over. A lot of tension with her as well.

But I think, you know, it would be a first steppingstone, wouldn't you, if you could see William and Harry getting along at this event. And we're expecting to hear from William and Harry later in the week. Today was really about Prince Philip's children having their chance to speak to the cameras. So, we heard from Andrew and from Edward. But, also, from Edward's wife, the countess of Wessex, who gave some detail about how Prince Philip passed as well.

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SOPHIE HELEN RHYS-JONES, COUNTESS OF WESSEX: It was right for him. And it was so gentle. It was just like somebody took him by the hand and off he went.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, wow.

RHYS-JONES: It was very, very peaceful. And that's all you want for somebody, isn't it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.

RHYS-JONES: So, I think it's so much easier for the person that goes than the people who are left behind. We are all sitting here looking at each other, going, this is awful. But, equally, so many people and look at all the tributes. It's just amazing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Sophie there speaking to well-wishers after church. We also heard from Princess Anne, who sent this photo out today. She was very, very close to Prince Philip. And, obviously, there is a lot of solace in the way that Prince Philip passed, after a very long and rich life. But she spoke for many, I think, when she said, you know it's going to happen but you're never really ready for it. And, you know, I think it's been very difficult for everyone, despite his very rich life.

ACOSTA: All right. Max Foster, thanks so much for that. We appreciate it. We'll all be watching next weekend.

Every day, people are changing the world. And, since 2007, CNN Heroes has celebrated hundreds of these amazing individuals. They are all around us. And you can help shine a light on their efforts by nominating them as a CNN Hero. Anderson Cooper has more.

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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been a time of challenges and change. But it's also a time for hope. This year, CNN Heroes celebrates our 15th year of honoring everyday people doing extraordinary things. From front-line workers fighting against the Coronavirus Pandemic, to those battling for racial equity and social justice. From spontaneous acts of courage, to those who've dedicated their lives to making a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to see the world differently.

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

COOPER: Everyday heroes are all around us.

[16:55:00]

COOPER: Do you know a hero? Tell us about them. Nominations for 2021 CNN Heroes are now open at CNNheroes.com. Now, more than ever, the world needs heroes.

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