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CNN NEWSROOM

Two Virginia Police Sued By Black And Latino Army Officer For A Traffic Stop; Medical Examiner Ruled George Floyd's Death As Homicide; Trump Criticizes Pence And McConnell At Republican Event; Alarming Surge Of COVID Cases In Michigan; Iran Says Incident At Iran Nuclear Site Was Terrorism; Coinbase Goes Public On Wednesday; St. Vincent No Power And Water As Volcano Erupts. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 11, 2021 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington and we begin this hour with disturbing new video out of Virginia. A traffic stop that quickly escalated, with police drawing their guns and pepper spraying a black and Latino Army officer in uniform.

That Army officer is now suing the police involved alleging excessive force. And just in, Virginia's Governor Ralph Northam is weighing in with this statement. Here it is. The governor saying, "The incident in Windsor is disturbing and angered me -- and I am directing the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent investigation."

Let's get to CNN's Natasha Chen who has that video that is so difficult to watch. Natasha, tell us more.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, I've had to watch this video a number of times to put this story together and it just doesn't get any easier. We're talking about witnessing a man who thinks he's -- he thinks he might be killed.

You're going the see this from three different angles. Two angles from the body cameras worn by the Windsor Virginia police officers and the third angle from the personal cell phone of the lieutenant they pulled over.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHEN (voice-over): 6:30 p.m., December 5, 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 second when which he later explained was in order to find a well-lit area.

UNKNOWN: Driver, roll the window down. Put your hands out the window. Turn the vehicle off, put your hands out the window. CHEN (voice-over): Hearing these different commands while sitting in

his car with his seat belt on, Nazario began recording from his cell phone and put his hands out the window as ordered. It 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 window and a 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.

CARON NAZARIO, ARMY OFFICER: What's going on?

UNKNOWN: How many occupants are in your vehicle?

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

UNKNOWN: Get out of the car now.

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

UNKNOWN: Yo, well, guess what? I'm a veteran, too. I know how to obey. Get out of the car.

CHEN (voice-over): Body camera footage shows Officer Joe Gutierez, gun drawn, unfastening the velcro around what maybe his taser at this time.

NAZARIO: What's going on?

UNKNOWN: What's going on is you're fixing to ride the lightning, son.

CHEN (voice-over): The lawsuit says Nazario thought ride the lightning meant he could be killed.

NAZARIO: I'm honestly afraid to get out. Can I (inaudible).

UNKNOWN: Yes. You should be. Get out, now.

NAZARIO: I have not committed any crimes.

UNKNOWN: You're being stopped for a traffic violation and you're not cooperating. At this point right now, you're under arrest for -- you are being detained, okay. You're being detained for obstruction of justice.

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

CHEN (voice-over): About two to three minutes in, Officer Crocker tried the open the driver's door. In his report, he wrote "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 body camera footage, Nazario is not seen striking anyone. Crocker's report also says that at this point, Gutierrez "gave several more commands to comply with orders or he would be sprayed with his OC spray." But no search warnings could be heard. Gutierrez just sprayed Nazario still without either officer having told Nazario what exactly he was pulled over for.

NAZARIO: That's (BLEEP) up. That's (BLEEP) up.

UNKNOWN: Get out of the car.

NAZARIO: I don't even want to reach for my seat belt. Can you --

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

UNKNOWN: Get on the ground. Get on the ground.

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

UNKNOWN: 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?

UNKNOWN: Because you're not cooperating. Get on the ground. Lay down or you are going to get tased.

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

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

CHEN (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): But Gutierez said that wasn't the problem.

NAZARIO: The climate we're in, with the media spewing with the race relations between minorities and law enforcement? I get it, okay. So like told you, as far as not stopping, like you weren't comfortable and you wanted a well-lit spot, lieutenant, that happens all the time. It happens to me a lot. I'll say 80 percent of the time, not always, 80 percent of the time, it's a minority.

[17:05:01]

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

UNKNOWN: Why wouldn't you comply?

CHEN (voice-over): Nazario said he didn't know why he was being stopped.

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

CHEN (voice-over): 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.

UNKNOWN: There is 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, okay. 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 (on camera): I want to read you a little bit more from the governor's statement, Governor Northam's statement that he released in the past hour. He said that our commonwealth has done important work on police reform but we must keep working to ensure that Virginian's are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable and people are held accountable.'

Governor Northam also said that he invites Lieutenant Nazario to meet with him and speak soon. CNN has not yet been able to reach the officers involved 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 yet to hear back from them, Jim.

ACOSTA: Natasha, it's just so disturbing. I mean, to see this soldier, you know, in uniform, treated in this fashion. It certainly just raises all sorts of disturbing questions, questions that we hear about and see so many times over and over again. All right, Natasha Chen, we know you'll stay on top of it. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.

And as we've been saying all along, the nation is already gripped by the case of former officer Derek Chauvin in Minnesota. As we get set to watch the defense take the center stage in that trial this week, last hour I spoke to George Floyd's family attorney, Benjamin Crump, and wanted to know how he's feeling two weeks into the testimony in this trial.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN CRUMP, LAWYER FOR GEORGE FLOYD'S FAMILY: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And I want to bring in CNN's Adrienne Broaddus from Minneapolis. Adrienne, here comes the defense. It is going to be trying for the Floyd family. We talked about that with Benjamin Crump. What can we expect?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, as the prosecution prepares to rest its case, it's likely they will call a member of George Floyd's family to the stand. This family member will be able to remind the jury that this isn't just a case, but George Floyd was someone they loved.

To the prosecution, obviously, this is a case they want to win. To the defense, this is a case it wants to win. But to the family members, Floyd was a brother, an uncle, a father. And on that video that we've heard play throughout the trial over the last few weeks, we heard Floyd pleading for his life.

And toward the end of the video, he calls out and says, tell my children I love them. This family member will be able to speak intimately about Floyd's love for his daughter. And they will probably also tell us how the family didn't even call George, George. They referred to him as Perry.

And Floyd's sister said he was someone she could turn to when the family was hurting. This week, the family is turning to their faith in the higher power and leaning on each other, especially after hearing some of this testimony. Listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

ANDREW BAKER, HENNEPIN COUNTY CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER: Mr. Floyd's use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint. His heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint. In my opinion, the law enforcement subdual restraint and the neck impression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of that -- those heart conditions.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROADDUS: And Jim, the family's response to that testimony was painful, painful but necessary.

[17:09:53]

And as we prepare to enter the third week, the family is bracing for more pain because the person they love will be described in a different light as the defense tries to paint the picture that George Floyd died as a result of drug overdose and possibly his underlying medical conditions. But the family is prepared and keeping hope. Jim? ACOSTA: It should be an emotional week. All right, Adrienne Broaddus,

thank you so much. We appreciate it.

So, how do we get to a place where these incidents keep occurring? And, you know, how can we stop them from continuing to occur? Radley Balko is the author of "The Rise of the Warrior Cop" and an opinion columnist for the "Washington Post."

Radley, thanks so much for joining us. I want to talk to you about both this body cam footage out of Virginia and the Derek Chauvin trial. First the trial. Let's play some of the testimony that struck me this week. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOBIN: When he last take a breath, the knee remains on the neck for another three minutes and 27 seconds. After he takes his last breath, the knee remains. After there is no pulse, the knee remains on the neck for another two minutes and 44 seconds. After the officers have found themselves there is no pulse, the knee remains on the neck another two minutes, 44 seconds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Radley, are you shocked when you hear something like that?

RADLEY BALKO, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, it's shocking sort of as a human being to hear something like that. As somebody who has been writing about and extending (ph) policing for a long time, unfortunately, neither of these stories is all that shocking.

For a long time, there have been kind two of battling forces in policing. There's the kind of reform, de-escalationist movement which you see sort of in police leadership in places like Minneapolis, but then there is this counter-movement of trainers, of police union leaders, and kind of rank and file law enforcement officers who are increasingly talking about the threats that police face.

And I would say sort of exaggerating them, when police go through training, when they go through police academies, they are shown images of officers getting assaulted during traffic stops, video after video after video.

And while that is, you know, certainly something that police officers need to think about and to take precautions for, it's also extremely rare. And it's part of kind of this underlying philosophy of policing that I'm talking about that every sort of -- they should look at every encounter with a citizen as a potential threat.

Every interaction with a citizen could be their last. And you really see this, you see this in the video from Virginia, definitely. You see it in the Chauvin trial. We're going to show the video of, you know -- when I watched that video of George Floyd, I saw a desperate man, a man who was scared, who had said he was claustrophobic. He was afraid of being shot. And then we saw video of Chauvin talking to somebody who was

protesting afterwards or asking him, you know, why did you do that? And he said, you know, I can't remember the exact words, but some to the effect that George Floyd is, you know, a big man and he was probably on something and he was a threat. We saw a desperate man who was very scared. Chauvin saw a potential threat. And I think that really is all the difference.

ACOSTA: Yes, those two police officers in Virginia, they were going in there like they were something out of Rambo. And then, of course, you see the manhandling of George Floyd. And it's just absolutely disturbing. And it seems with the advent of body cam footage, we're just seeing these incidents over and over again.

I want to read something that you wrote this week. I read your column about some of this and it struck me as being very important. And you write, "Unless reforms come with real teeth, including diminishing the power of police unions and giving police executives the power to fire officers who stand in the way of change, the no hesitationists, as you call them, will continue to wield their influence, subverting change from behind the scenes." Break that down further for us.

BALKO: Also, a big example of this is -- you might remember the case of Philando Castile, which is also in Minneapolis. The officer in that case pulled over Castile. Castile was a legal gun owner, had a permit. Told the officer, hey, I've got a gun. I've got a permit. And yet, when he reached for his driver's license as the officer asked for it, he misinterpreted that apparently as reaching for a gun and shot and killed him.

Well, that officer had attended a training class and really was a few months, maybe in year earlier called the Bulletproof Warrior. And the Bulletproof Warrior classes teach officers basically to see threats behind every corner. They tell them there is a target on their back, that every interaction with a citizen could be their last.

And it really creates -- puts officers on edge and it creates this sort of very us versus them kind of mindset. And it makes them, you know -- it creates the kind of situations that you see in these videos where they treat people not as citizens with rights but as potential threats.

[17:14:54]

Now, the interesting thing about what happened with Castile, the officer that shot and killed Castile is, after it was revealed that he went to one of these classes, the mayor of Minneapolis banned police officers in Minneapolis from attending these classes.

And the police union responded by saying they would pay the tuition of any officer who wanted to attend one of these classes. So, it's really was an illustration of how you can have political leadership, even police leadership saying one thing while sort of, you know, the police culture, the police unions and rank and file officers are doing something entirely different. ACOSTA: And I talked to Attorney Ben Crump last hour. He represents

George Floyd's family as you know. I want to play you something that he told me in the last hour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUMP: As long as we focus in on what we saw occur on May 25, 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Are you optimistic that fundamental change is coming sooner rather than later? Could this trial be the tipping point for that?

BALKO: I think it's a mistake to put too much of our sense of justice or whether George Floyd's death will sort of achieve real change in the outcome of this trial. Trials tend to turn on things that kind of have nothing to do with the issues that we assign to them.

Certainly, I think Derek Chauvin should be found guilty of at least one of these charges and should be punished for it. However, I mean, I do think we need the look at the big picture here. I mean, the George Floyd protests have changed the world. I have been covering these issues for 17, 18 years now, and I have never seen the kind of change that we are seeing on the state and local level in response to these protests.

You've got police departments across the country that are banning choke hold, banning no-knock raids. We are seeing, you know, significant changes in funding, the funding of violence interruption groups, of groups that send, you know, counsellors to mental health calls instead of police officers.

You know, there is still a long way to go but we are seeing change like we have never seen before. So I think no matter what happens in this trial, and I think George's family -- George Floyd's family obviously if Chauvin is acquitted, they are going to be very disappointed and we all are and I understand that.

But we should always remember that Floyd's death did matter and the protests that resulted from it have brought really consequential change across the country.

ACOSTA: That's absolutely true. And Radley Balko, thanks for all of those great insights. We appreciate it. Thanks for coming on.

Repeating lies about a stolen election, slamming his own former vice president, oh, and calling Senator Mitch McConnell a name not safe for kids. Just another night in the post presidency world of Donald Trump. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:00]

ACOSTA: For Donald Trump, every day is kind of a grievance groundhog day. It seems he gets up every day, gripes about the election then wakes up the next day still a loser. After airing his complaints about the election in his Easter message and at a recent wedding toast, Trump kept up the theme at an RNC donor retreat last night.

According to a person in the room, he called the results BS, slammed his own vice president for certifying them and then said, and this is a direct quote, we can put this up on screen, unfortunately, "If that were Schumer instead of that dumb son of a bitch Mitch McConnell, they would never have allowed it to happen."

That is the former president of the United States. The comments, by the way, were met with applause. What a retreat, indeed. Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst John Avlon and CNN political commentator and host of PBS "Firing Line" Margaret Hoover. Margaret, let me you go to you first. This is who Republicans are flocking to right now? Trump just won't give it up.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know how much Republicans are flocking to him, and certainly Mitch McConnell isn't. Mitch McConnell has got his eye on 2022. So, Mitch's operative is always is trying to the thing he can to maximize his chances of winning back power.

But notice that was a Republican National Committee retreat. And they all had to go to him? He's not working to call and keep active and lead the Republican base. I mean, the fact that he -- I mean, he thinks it's in his interest to have taken his visage away from their ability to fund raise.

But he is going the find that if you are a president out of power, your power wanes pretty quickly and we're seeing that with Donald Trump. So, I am not so sure this is his formula for coming back or frankly, regaining power.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

ACOSTA: And John, yes, what's your take on it?

AVLON: I mean, first all, I think you get points for coming up with grievance groundhog day. I think that's (inaudible). Look, you know, this guy --

ACOSTA: Bill Murray references are always welcome on this program.

AVLON: Look, the shtick is wearing thin even among donors. You know, there were reportedly applause when he talked about how he thought the Republicans were going to take the House in '22 and the White House in '24. But when he's railing against Mitch McConnell and repeating the big lie, this is a shtick that's starting to fall flat because it's just more narcissism and more grievance and more negative partisanship. And that's all he's got to offer.

And folks in the Republican Party know even if they get that he is popular with the base, that that divisive message isn't going to help. The question is whether people like Mitch McConnell will stop sort of playing footsie with the Stockholm syndrome and actually come out and say, no, he should not be the nominee in 2024. Just draw a clear line in the sand. It's not like they've got any rational excuse other than fear.

HOOVER: Mitch McConnell should do what Liz Cheney did, which is explicitly say --

AVLON: Yes.

HOOVER: -- he shouldn't be doing that by calling the election a fraud and continue to propagate the big lie. He's not for the constitution. He is undermining the constitution. He is undermining the rule of law and our judicial system. And that is against the premise of the founding of this country.

AVLON: Yes.

HOOVER: And we need to be for the constitution. I mean, we need way more of Liz Cheney and way less of Donald Trump.

[17:25:00]

ACOSTA: Oh, we'll see about that. And speaking of there is no bottom, the Anti-Defamation League is publicly calling for Fox's Tucker Carlson to be fired after his remarks about the white supremacist so- called replacement theory. Let's take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term replacement. If you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots with new people, more obedient voters from the third world.

If you change the population, you dilute the political power of the people who live there. So every time they import a new voter, I become disenfranchised as a current voter. So I don't understand where you don't understand this. I mean, everyone wants to make it racial issue out of it. You know, the white replacement theory. No, no, no, this is a voting rights question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: John, is Fox going to do anything about this?

AVLON: No, but they should, and here's why. You know, when Tucker says that the people want to make a racial issue out of this great replacement theory, do you know who wanted to make a racial issue out of the great replacement theory? The El Paso mass shooter who drove hundreds of miles to target Hispanic at a Walmart.

This (inaudible) has been bubbling up, it has been encouraged. But when you have someone whose got that kind of a platform trying to dignify replacement theory, ADL was 100 percent right to call it out. And I'm going to recommend Phil Bump wrote a great piece about this in the "Washington Post" where he talked about Tucker Carlson's ancestor, (inaudible) Lombardi, who came Swiss German -- came here.

And the discrimination he and Italians faced at the time because they were not considered white. They were considered diluting the racial purity of America at the time and taking away votes and influence from folks whose families had been here for longer generations. So Tucker should look in the mirror, he should look at who's been echoing replacement theory. And if he knows it already, which he might, that makes it all the worse.

ACOSTA: And Margaret, I want to get your --

HOOVER: Can I just say one other thing here?

ACOSTA: Well, okay.

AVLON: No, let's go Matt Gaetz.

ACOSTA: Let's -- I want to shift gears while we can. We've got a little bit of time left to shift over to Matt Gaetz. He is resisting calls to resign amid a sex trafficking investigation. I spoke to former Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill last hour.

As you know, she resigned after nude photos of her with a staffer were leaked on line. She highlighted not just the difference between men and women in these scenarios, which there appears to be a big difference, but also between Republicans and Democrats. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE HILL, FORMER CONGRESSWOMNAN OF CALIFORNIA: 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. The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats at least want to hold our people to high standards. The GOP just circles the wagons and says, you know, they are our people, we're going to protect them, and that's that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Margaret, is she wrong?

HOOVER: No, she's not. She's exactly right. I just want to say, there was a curious case of Matt Gaetz defending Katie Hill when her case came out. And at the time, if you roll the tape, I am quite sure on CNN I said, sounds like Matt Gaetz is laying the defense for his future -- laying the foundation for his future defense right now, which is exactly what's happening.

ACOSTA: Interesting.

HOOVER: She's exactly right. I mean, if you know Matt Gaetz, where there is smoke, there is probably fire. Of course, we believe in due process, let's see what the investigation finds, but I am not confident that since Donald Trump's attorney general wanted to be seen nowhere near Matt Gaetz in a photograph, that this is probably not going to end well for Matt Gaetz.

She's right, though. Nancy Pelosi really leaned on her to resign and she resigned. She did the right thing. That was the appropriate thing. That is the thing that bestows dignity on the office that you respect the office and you respect the integrity of the electors who put you there and their decency. And that's -- if this end up in that direction, Matt Gaetz absolutely should resign, swiftly.

ACOSTA: And John, I mean, we're kind of getting to this point where it's like nobody resigns now. Everybody says, I'm going to hang in there and I'm not going to resign no matter what. I mean, Katie Hill is kind of an anomaly in that.

AVLON: She is and she is right in saying the Democrats exert pressure. And Al Franken resigned, of course, but I think a lot of folks regretted that action, not least Mr. Franken. Look, this is about toughening it out in politics.

But what's particularly odious is the way folks who've incredibly accused, project and deflect and then play the victim card, which is what Matt Gaetz did this weekend. He is all of a sudden the victim for being under investigation, you know, for sex trafficking and other claims that the Trump justice department did.

And that's what I think speaks to the deeper sickness in our politics. It's this play the victim after you have been credibly accused and see if you can raise some more money from the base.

ACOSTA: Incredible. Matt Gaetz playing the victim. I think that's putting it best right there. All right, John, Margaret, great to have the Hoovalon once -- on once again. Thanks so much. We appreciate it. Great talking to both of you.

[17:30:04]

HOOVER: Take care. Have a great weekend.

AVLON: You too. You did well.

ACOSTA: You too. Take care. All right, up next, why experts are still urging caution even as the U.S. hits a record number of COVID vaccine doses administered in one day. You are live in the "CNN Newsroom."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: 4.6 million shots in arms recorded in just one day. The U.S. breaking a new coronavirus vaccine record as the race to get people vaccinated becomes even more urgent. Just last week, the U.S. reported that nearly 22 million Americans received a shot. That's almost as many vaccines given in the first six weeks combined.

[17:35:03]

But the threat remains high, especially in states like Michigan, which is reporting thousands of new cases a day as variants become even more widespread. And joining us now is CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner. Dr. Reiner, great to see you. He's also a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University. Doctor, first on these vaccine numbers, is this where the U.S. needs to be right now?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Oh, boy, was that a great day yesterday. Absolutely. We are averaging about 3.1 million vaccinations per day. We have vaccinated the vast majority of the people in this country at greatest risk. That is people over the age of 65.

The next big challenge is to vaccinate the people that are powering some of the hot spots in this country, particularly the surge in Michigan which are the young people. And within about a week, every state will be open to every adult in the United States at any age. And we need to really focus on getting vaccine into young people because that's where the transmission is coming from.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And 20 states are reporting an uptick in new cases. But Michigan is arguably the worst right now. I mean, you have been seeing these reports. What concerns you the most when you see the surge in new cases there and what needs to happen right now?

REINER: Right. So Michigan has about 3 percent of the country's population, but every day about 10 percent of the new cases are coming out of Michigan. You know, over the last couple of weeks, cases in Michigan have risen 60 percent.

Other parts of the country, they have been flat. Not enough is being done in Michigan. Bars and restaurants are still open. Hospitals are being inundated in Michigan. So, I am not sure how you can have bars open and restaurants open, and at the same time have your ICU's full.

So Michigan needs to shut down. That's one thing they need do. Governor whiter has been reluctant to do that. We need to surge vaccine into Michigan and the Biden administration has been reluctant to do that.

But think about it this way. You know, every year during fire season when forest fires get out of control, we don't just leave the states to manage it as best they can. We surge fire fighting forces into those states. So Michigan is on fire now and we need to put that out.

So they need more vaccine and they need more vaccinators to extinguish the fire. We can do that. We have the ability to do that. It's time to do that this week.

ACOSTA: It certainly seems like Michigan is on fire right now. And 18 percent of Texans -- switching over to Texans. They are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. But I want you to listen to something that Governor Greg Abbott said earlier today about herd immunity. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG ABBOTT (R), GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: When you look at the senior population for example, more than 70 percent of our seniors have received a vaccine shot. More than 50 percent of those who are 50 to 65 have received a vaccine shot. I don't know what herd immunity is, but when you add that to the people that have acquired immunity it looks like it could be very close the herd immunity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Doctor, does the governor's math add up there?

REINER: No. I know what herd immunity looks like, and it's somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of the entire population of the state having been either vaccinated or having recovered from the virus. And we are not close to that yet. You know, we're not close to that in Texas, and we're actually not close to that in the United States yet.

So, over the next two to three months, we have the ability to get there. And the way to do that is to vaccinate like crazy. And you know, the last 20 to 30 percent are going to be the hardest because a lot of folks in this country are still hesitant to get the vaccine. You know, we are seeing it all over the country. We're even seeing it in the military right now.

So, we need to really get down to the grassroots level, talk to people about their hesitancy and get shots into arms because if we don't vaccinate that last 30 percent or so, we are still going to have to live with this virus for a very long time.

ACOSTA: Let me quickly get you to what we hear from a source telling CNN that former President Donald Trump said in a speech last night in Mar-a-Lago. He was talking to a Republican donor conference down there and he said that everybody should be calling the coronavirus vaccine the Trump-cine instead the vaccine.

And he was highly critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci. I mean, I don't recall former President Trump ever being in a lab coat looking through a microscope, you know, working on a vaccine. What is your reaction to that?

REINER: Well, my reaction to that is if this president wanted to take credit for this vaccine and he wanted to do the country an enormous favor, he would have been photographed or videoed being vaccinated.

[17:40:03]

Because about 40 percent of the GOP faithful are vaccine hesitant. About 50 percent of Republican men say they will not get the vaccine. So if the president wants to take credit for the vaccine, he should be reaching out to these folks and explaining why the vaccine is important.

And maybe he should explain why he was vaccinated in secret. I will say that the federal government did a great job in terms of taking the financial risk out from vaccine manufacturers. But these vaccines were developed through the brilliance of NIH and industry scientists and the courage of the clinical trial participants.

I applaud the former administration for funding it, but the hard work was deny by scientists and clinical trialists, and people who stood up and took the risk and got the vaccine. That's who I give the biggest credit to.

ACOSTA: They were certainly in the trenches, for sure. All right, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thanks so much for those insights. We appreciate it.

In the new CNN Original Series, "The People Versus the Klan" tells the little-known story of Beulah Mae Donald, a black mother who took down the Klu Klux Klan after the brutal lynching of her son Michael in Mobile, Alabama in 1981. Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: Living in Mobile was a quiet town. It's nothing but Oak trees. But after March, 1981, it was kind of like creepy to me to just look at the trees. The hurt is still there. The hurt my mom went through. I just visualize her face, and I go, like, I can't talk about it today. My momma, Beulah Mae Donald, was a quiet woman. She was a good-hearted person. All the neighborhoods that we had lived in, everybody loved her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And "The People Versus the Clan" premieres tonight with back to back episodes starting at 9:00 p.m. only on CNN.

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[17:45:00]

ACOSTA: And developing right now, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization is condemning an incident at the Natanz nuclear facility calling it a terrorist action. For more details on this, I want to bring in CNN's Frederik Pleitgen. Fred, what more do we know?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We certainly know the Iranians seem to believe that some sort of outside power seems to be behind it. That's why they are calling it an act of terrorist -- a terrorist action as they put it. They haven't however said who they think is behind it or who they are going to place the blame on. (Inaudible) they call this terrorist action. They have, however said, they might retaliate.

That was quite interesting because a little earlier this evening we had the head the Israeli army come out and sort of seem to hint that it may be the Israelis who were in some way, shape, or form behind this. He was saying that the enemies of Israel as he put it, are very closely watching Israel's actions and certainly been adjusting their behavior according to that.

There are some who believe that could mean that Israel might be behind it. There were also some reports in Israel that seem to indicate that maybe Israel's intelligence service might be behind it. But again, that's very difficult to verify at this point in time. However, Jim, this incident comes at an extremely important point in time. Just yesterday, you had Iran's National Nuclear Day where the Iranians

unveiled some new centrifuges which they say are more efficient, more powerful, could really up their nuclear program. And of course, it comes at a time that the U.S. and Iran aren't at the same table but certainly they are at least indirectly negotiating to try and save the nuclear agreement to try and bring Iran back into full compliance and then bring the U.S. back into the agreement at all.

Both Iran and the U.S. -- both Iran and the Biden administration have said that that's what they want to do. Of course, we know Jim, that Israelis very much opposed to that nuclear agreement as well, Jim.

ACOSTA: That's right. It seems tensions are building once again around this issue and the Biden administration could be facing a potentially very serious situation. And Fred Pleitgen, we know you'll be on top of it. Thanks so much. And we'll be right back.

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[17:50:00]

ACOSTA: And a big company is about to go public on Wall Street. Here's Julia Chatterley with your "Before the Bell Report."

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. Copper endings are coming and this time they aren't something to dread. The big bank start reporting their first quarter results this week. Overall, analyst expect profits for the S&P500 to rise nearly 24 percent from a year ago. But the question though is, how much of this good news is already priced into stocks.

That's why forward-looking guidance from companies will be absolutely critical. The debut of Coinbbase will grab investor attention this week. The digital currency exchange is the highest profile company yet in the crypto space to go public. Its direct listing is scheduled for Wednesday on the NASDAQ. Coinbase is riding a wave of bitcoin enthusiasm, raking in $1.8 billion in revenue last quarter. That's more than it made throughout the whole of 2020.

As for the IPO market overall, it's coming off its busiest quarter since 2000. From January through March, 100 IPO's raised more than $39 billion. And with more IPO's in the pipeline, analysts expect another busy quarter. In New York, I'm Julia Chatterley.

ACOSTA: Thanks, Julia. And incredible pictures today from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. If you haven't seen this, you've got to take a look at this. You can see heavy ash covering the trees and streets on the island overnight, shower ashes hardened this morning and just take in these images, just incredible.

The island is experiencing major power and water outages now following a series of eruptions. A seismic expert said Friday that the volcano there continues to show periods of explosive activity.

[17:55:01] It looks like scenes out of a movie, but the prime minister says it could take up to four months for things to return to normal there on the island. And that's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you back here next week, Saturday, at 3:00 p.m. eastern. Pamela Brown, she's in charge now. She takes over the "CNN Newsroom" live after a quick break. Have a good night.

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