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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Reels From String Of Deadly Police Encounters, Gun Violence; Interview With Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA); Britain's Prince Philip, The Duke Of Edinburgh Laid To Rest Today; Biden Administration Says Russian Intel Got Trump Campaign Data In 2016; Press Secretary For Alexei Navalny Says He's Close To Death; Nation On Edge: Civil Unrest, Police Violence & Mass Shootings. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 17, 2021 - 16:00   ET

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


JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: And you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

[16:00:00]

I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

It is hard to put into words what is happening in America today, as cities from coast-to-coast grapple with an endless string of gun violence and controversial police-involved killings.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in Minnesota, where officials are bracing for a possible seventh night after deploying rubber bullets and pepper spray on a crowd gathered last night in Brooklyn Center over the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright. He was shot by an officer who said she confused her gun for Taser.

In nearby Minneapolis, tensions are also very high there ahead of the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer charged with killing George Floyd. Local schools are making plans to keep kids home beginning next week.

In the meantime, protests over deadly police encounters also erupting in Portland, Oregon, Oakland, California, and Chicago, where anger is growing over the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. Police say he had a gun in his hand less than a second before he was shot and killed by a police officer.

CNN's Josh Campbell joins me now.

Josh, so much to cover -- so much ground to cover on all of this, police reported making a number of arrests last night during the protests for Daunte Wright. What more can you tell us?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim, upwards of 100 people were arrested last night in another night of clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement officers. Now, things started relatively peaceful. There were about 250 that gathered, and number slowly went up. Around 9:00 p.m., things really took a downward turn. Authorities say there were some rioters, came and clashed with police, breached the fence line. That leading authorities to disperse that crowd. Again, upwards of 100

people were arrested. I'll show you what things look like right now. We're in downtown Minneapolis, just blocks away from the courtroom where the trial is under way for former officer Derek Chauvin you can see the fencing here, you can also see that razor wire has now been installed here.

We're told by police officials, this is what it looks like in all five of the city's precincts. They're leaving nothing to chance. This city is dealing with two controversies at the same time involving use of force by police, obviously what's happening at Brooklyn Center and fall out from George Floyd on that ongoing trial.

You can see, they have members of the National Guard that are set up. Beyond me, this is what it looks like in many of the businesses. Plywood that has been set up as well, again, the city is on edge.

Finally, what we're expecting on Monday, closing arguments in this trial by both the prosecution and the defense. We're then told that the jury will be sequestered as they deliberate in this. Of course, we don't know how long that will go. But as that deliberation continues, this city certainly on edge.

And as you mentioned, schools preparing to keep kids out of schools next week. Again, you get the sense here, this is not the Minneapolis people are familiar with, there is a sense of tension because of all of these cases that are going on at the same time and, of course, everyone looking ahead to see what the verdict will be in the trial of former Officer Derek Chauvin -- Jim.

ACOSTA: And, Josh, what are we learning about the security preps around possible verdict in the Chauvin trial. I mean, potentially we could see more unrest following the verdict in it that case.

CAMPBELL: That's exactly right, and that is what authorities are preparing for. Now, I've been talking to police officials who say that this is out of an abundance of caution. They don't have any indication that there is going to be any kind of planned threat but obviously, once the verdict comes, if it -- if it doesn't go the way people in the community want, there could be some additional protests and some violent protests as well.

That's what they're planning for so we see precautions taking place. I tell you, there are members of the National Guard behind me and over passes in and around the city of Minneapolis. There are National Guard members in and out. Again, this is not Minneapolis people are familiar with, but it certainly feels like a city that's being locked down slowly day by day. Again, people just on edge here, waiting for that verdict, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Josh Campbell live on the scene for us in Minneapolis, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Joining me now is the attorney for the family for George Floyd, Benjamin Crump. He also represents the family of Daunte Wright, who was killed during a traffic stop in nearby Brooklyn Center. Ben, thanks again so much for joining us. The last time we spoke, you told me in you believe in your heart that Derek Chauvin will be convicted. But you also said the American justice system has broken your heart on many occasions. If there is not a speedy verdict in this case, will you start to worry about what's happening in those jury deliberations?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEYS FOR FAMILIES OF GEORGE FLOYD & DAUNTE WRIGHT: Well, Jim, again, as a black person in America, we always worry about the American legal system valuing our lives appropriately. And so, I think even America understands historically how the criminal justice system has failed minorities generally and I think that's why you see everybody getting ready for the response to the verdict because everybody knows we cannot take for granted what this verdict will be.

And as I continue to articulate, Jim, these two justice systems that seem to exist in America.

[17:05:04]

If George Floyd was a white, American citizen no one would say this is a difficult case. Nobody would say this is going to be challenging, they would scream bloody murder and expect swift justice. It's only when it's a marginalized minority that we then have to worry whether America will live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all.

ACOSTA: And as you know, Derek Chauvin invoked his Fifth Amendment right and chose not to testify. Was the family at all disappointed in that decision? Did you want to hear from him? Did they want to hear from him?

CRUMP: Well, I think they did not expect him to take the stand. Because when you look at that, just horrific conduct displayed by this person who was a sworn law enforcement officer. They knew there was nothing that he could say to justify the torture of their loved one.

And so, the video told them everything that they needed to know about this. There was no justification that could have come out of Derek Chauvin's mouth for keeping his knee on George Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds where members of the public begged and pleaded with him, just take your knee off his neck.

ACOSTA: That's right. And you represent both the Floyd family and the family of Daunte Wright, two families that have now formed and we have seen this over the last several days, a unique bond in the most unfortunate of circumstances, terrible circumstances.

Here is George Floyd's brother, Philonise, talking about the Wright family. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: To the Wright family, just letting you all know, from the Floyd family, you all have our condolences. We will stand in support with you all. It's a shame. The world is traumatized watching another African-American man being slain. Police officers are killing us, and we're being murdered at a rate I never thought I could imagine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: There shouldn't be a community of families in this circumstance, Ben. But take me inside this relationship. How are they supporting one another?

CRUMP: Well, Jim, when we talked last week, man, we didn't know anything about Daunte Wright. And I just couldn't fathom that a police officer ten miles away from we're have the most consequential case involving Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd that they would kill another unarmed black man.

So everybody was in disbelief that George Floyd's family was going through the same thing almost a year ago. So they have interacted with Daunte Wright's family on a level that you and I can't understand, Jim, because we haven't had our loved one taken from us by a police officer who is supposed to protect and serve us.

And so, what they continue to do is try to give them advice about what's going to happen when they start to assassinate Daunte's character. What's going to happen when they start trying to say he's responsible for his own death? It's that kind of bond that they talk and have those quiet moments about how you just breathe, how you just get to wake up as a broken-hearted family member, who knows this hashtag, these calls is your family member, is your blood.

ACOSTA: And there does seem to be a big difference between the two cases, and that the Wright case, the officer resigned immediately. She was charged and arrested. We saw her mug shot. The police chief also resigned in that case.

Do you see progress in that, in the way that things unfolded following the Wright case?

CRUMP: You know, it's so interesting you ask that, Jim. The day they announced the charges, I was with the mother of Michael Brown, who was killed in Ferguson, the mother of Eric Garner who was killed in New York, and the mother of Stephon Clark, who was killed in Sacramento, and all three of them have some variation of video, and neither one of those mothers got due process. None of them had their day in court.

So, I believe it's because of the activists and the people protesting and the sacrifice of their blood that we are finally starting to see progress. I believe that had a big deal to do with at least the D.A. and them thinking about these situations differently and saying, no, we need to charge them.

[16:10:07]

We at least have to get due process, something that's often been denied to marginalized minorities in America. So, I think we are making progress. It's a journey to justice in America. We have to continue to try to do better to live up to our guarantee that we believe all men are created equally.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And I wonder where we would be without this bodycam video that shows us exactly what goes on in many of these circumstances. It certainly makes it very difficult for offending officers to get out of a case like that.

All right. Benjamin Crump, we'll talk about that another time. But thanks so much for joining us. We always appreciate it.

And coming up, Congresswoman Maxine Waters joins me live on her much talked about exchange with Republican Jim Jordan. Remember this one?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:15:07]

ACOSTA: Before he died, Daunte Wright called his mother and told her he was being pulled over from hanging an air freshener from his rearview mirror. In a nod to that, protesters have been hanging air fresheners from a perimeter fence outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department. There they are.

Questions are being raised not just about the traffic stop, but also about how the officer who killed him could have confused her gun for a Taser. A warning, you might find what you're about to see disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM POTTER, FORMER OFFICER: I'll tase you. I'll tase you. Taser! Taser! Taser! Oh, my (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I shot him

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Now, my next guest raised questions about the now former officer when she held up photos of a gun versus a Taser, tweeting, how could a trained officer make a mistake shooting an unarmed gun with a gun instead of a Taser? Hard to believe. It certainly is.

And Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California joins me now from Minneapolis.

Congresswoman, the entire state of Minnesota is on edge, as you know, you're there both because of the Daunte Wright case and also because we're expecting a verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-cop who held his knee on George Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes.

What is going to take do you think to bring healing to this devastated community? WATERS: Well, as you know, the world is watching. And this is a clear

case -- certainly George Floyd the way he was killed, you know, in plain view of millions of people. And so, we absolutely expect a verdict for the officer to be determined to be guilty, and, of course, we cannot see how we cannot get a guilty verdict.

If we don't get a guilty verdict, it would be a miscarriage of justice, and unfortunate, because it certainly will do nothing to heal the divide in this country as it relates to police who are killing unarmed black men in particular.

ACOSTA: And your congressman -- Congresswoman, your colleague, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, reacted to Daunte Wright's killing by tweeting, quote, I am done with those who condone government-funded murder. No more policing, incarceration and militarization. It can't be reformed.

What did -- what did you make of your colleague's comments on that? Do you agree with that? What do you think?

WATERS: Well, of course, we are all very, very anxious to get justice. We have lived with, you know, so many young black people in particular, men and women, but certainly black men being killed and the officers getting away with it. The family left without having gotten justice. It goes on and on and on.

So I can understand the disgust. I can understand the feelings that so many have about, we've got to get some justice in both of these cases. And so, I know that my colleague speaks her mind. And she said what was in her heart. I understand that very well.

I'm here today, because, number one, I want to show that there are members of Congress who really care about what is happening with these cases, and whether or not we're going to get justice, or whether or not the police unions and the lies they tell are going to win. So she spoke her mind been and I appreciate that, and I love her for it.

ACOSTA: And, Congresswoman, I need to ask you about what you said to Republican Congressman Jim Jordan after he had a heated exchange with Dr. Anthony Fauci at a hearing. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): What objective outcome do we have to reach before -- before Americans get their liberty and freedoms back?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: You now, you're indicating liberty and freedom. I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying --

JORDAN: You don't think Americans' liberties have threatened the last, Dr. Fauci? They've been assaulted. Their liberties have.

FAUCI: I don't look at it as a liberty thing, Congressman Jordan.

JORDAN: Well, that's obvious. FAUCI: I look at it as a public health thing. I disagree with you on

that.

JORDAN: I just want to know when do people get their First Amendment liberties back?

FAUCI: You know, I don't think anyone was censured because they felt they couldn't disagree with me. I think you're making this a personal thing, and it isn't.

JORDAN: It's not a personal thing.

FAUCI: No, you are. That is exactly what you're doing.

JORDAN: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman, I don't want you to answer my question. The America people want Dr. Fauci to answer the question.

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): Well --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your time has expired, sir.

WATERS: You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Congresswoman, that had a lot of people talking about this moment. You told him to shut his mouth. Take us back to that moment. What upset you so much?

[16:20:01]

Obviously, he was hectoring Dr. Fauci there about COVID restrictions that have been going on for over a year in this country, or about a year in this country. People are fed with it obviously.

What upset you so much during that moment? Why did you speak out?

WATERS: Well, first of all, let some just say that we have so many important things to be concerned about. We are concerned about defeating this virus. And we just put out a $1.9 trillion piece of legislation to make sure that people have food on their tables, getting a $1,400 stimulus check, $300 to help with unemployment, money to the cities and the states.

And I have worked very hard on rental assistance now between December and now, I have created over $47 billion for people to get the back rent paid. And here you have Jordan coming to the committee, challenging the most credible human being on this issue of dealing with this pandemic.

Well, I want you to know that Dr. Fauci has been response for encouraging people to do what the experts tell us to do. He's been responsible for helping us getting to the point where we can see the light of day. We can defeat this virus if we are only listening and paying attention. And so, Jordan is a bully. He tried to intimidate Dr. Fauci. Dr. Fauci

is more credible in his little finger than Jordan will ever have, and yes, I shut him down, because we did not need him, number one, disrespecting the chairman and then try to bully and intimidate Dr. Fauci.

Sometimes you just have to do that and get back to the issues so we can deal with what the public sends us to Congress to do, and that is solve problems and provide a safety net for all of our people.

ACOSTA: It sounds like you would do it again.

WATERS: Well, let me just tell you, I'm one that does not take kindly to intimidation and bullying. So, of course, I intervened there, and I said what I had to say so that we could get back on the issues.

Then I had an opportunity to talk with Dr. Fauci about what is known as long haulers. Those people who've been in hospitals, who've gotten shot, move down everything. But there are a few of them, a small percentage of them that can't seem to shake the virus. And that's the kind of information we need.

And he was able to explain what is going on with that. He was able to further the American people about how important to all of us to listen to the experts, so that we could combat this virus. And so, that's what I wanted to do, get back on the issues.

And Jordan, every time he comes, he over-uses his time. He does not pay any attention to the chair. He knows that we only each have a few minutes, five minutes, to speak.

He goes overtime. He challenges the chair. He intimidates. And so, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do and say what you have to say and move on.

ACOSTA: And I want to switch topics here. We just learned in the last hour that Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of your colleagues on the Republican stand, is standing down on launching an American First Caucus that Punch Bowl News reported on, said it would have been calling for protecting what it described as, quote, Anglo-Saxon political traditions.

Greene had faced blowback from House leadership, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying the GOP is not the party of nativist dog whistles.

But I just to remind everyone who they did support. Let's play a little bit of this, and I'll ask you about it on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some I assume are good people.

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

Look at my African-American over here. Look at him.

Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects or flag, to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now?

She is a low IQ individual, Maxine Waters. I said it the other day.

They've gone so far left that they consider Pocahontas to be a rational person.

I can name Kung flu.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Why do you think Kevin McCarthy was willing to call out Marjorie Taylor Greene but Donald Trump, Congresswoman?

WATERS: Well, I don't know what goes on in that caucus.

But, you know, you played the voice of the past president of the United States, Donald Trump, and it's okay, because people need to be reminded how disrespectful he was, how dishonorable he was. And we're still wondering, and many are still wondering across the world, how did he become president of the United States with that kind of attitude, with that kind of voice, or with that kind of disrespect?

[16:25:06]

And so, that's who he was. I don't know what's going on in that caucus, except they are splintered, I know, but the more QAnon takes over the party, some of them are going to have to step up to the plate and step away from that, because I think following what happened on January 6th, when we were invaded in the Capitol of the United States, in the Capitol building was broken into and the roof was climbed on by those invaders, those insurrectionists, we're reminded what happened.

And they're going to be reminded what happened in the history book of this country, that they were insurrectionists, that they tried to destroy the Capitol, and they came to kill Nancy Pelosi and any of us who could have been caught out on the plaza where they were.

And so, knowing that, I'm hopeful that it will bring some sense to some of them, and they will back down, and they will not go forward with further trying to divide us and talk about who is credible, who is a real American, who deserves to be supported, and who does not.

It's unfortunate that we've had to live through with. We've got to get out of it, and we've got to go forward. And we've got to support our democracy and make sure that we get rid of not only the proud boys, but the Oath Keepers and QAnon, and the KKK, and all of those racists who are trying to destroy our democracy.

ACOSTA: All right. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, we knew you would have strong words for us today. Thank for you stopping by. We appreciate it. We hope to have you on in the future. Thanks so much, Congresswoman.

WATERS: Well, thank you so very much. I appreciate being on.

ACOSTA: All right. Thank you.

And coming up, a royal remembrance as the queen says good-bye to her husband of seven decades and two brothers reunite after a long time to honor their beloved grandfather.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:31:31]

ACOSTA: The duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, was laid to rest today at Windsor Castle.

The funeral was filled with personal touches paying tribute to his 99 years filled with service, service to his country, service to the crown and service to his family.

Because if you're able to look underneath all of the pomp and circumstance, that's what you may see, a family mourning the loss of its patriarch.

The queen, who after 73 years of marriage to a man she calls her strength and stay is now navigating life as a widow.

And here you see Prince Charles. He's the heir to the throne. But in this moment, as he walks behind his father's casket, he is simply a son. A single tear appears to fall down his cheek.

Some moving images from earlier today.

England and CNN correspondent, Bianca Nobilo, joins me now from Windsor, England.

Bianca, talk to us about the significant of today's service for this family.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Today was an extraordinary day and one of great import for the future of this family and the future of the monarchy itself.

You made the important point that this was, at its heart, a family funeral. Only 30 close members of the family allowed inside St. George's Chapel to say their farewell to Prince Philip.

In terms of what this means for the family going forward, first and foremost, they have lost their patriarch. Prince Philip, even though he retired from royal duties, he was still head of the family.

That now falls to Prince Charles. We would expect that he will step up in the royal family, and also in the public consciousness, now that there's a gap left by Prince Philip.

It also means that the queen will be without her support, without her strength and her stay, as you said.

Now, what that means longer term remains to be seen. That's where the real question mark is.

Because the public have an unquestionable amount of respect and admiration for Queen Elizabeth II, and for Prince Philip.

Prince Philip today was lauded for his service in the military, in the Navy, as one of the Greatest Generation.

Now we look to Prince Charles and Camilla as the future of the commonwealth. And they are still broadly popular within the United Kingdom but not as popular as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

So even though the monarchy's position in Britain looks stable in those polls that we see, it's not as clear when it comes to the commonwealth.

Obviously, the queen is head of the commonwealth of 54 nations.

Now, there's been stronger republican currents that we've seen in some of those countries, particularly Australia, Barbados, for example. So that's something that we can keep an eye on.

But as for today, I mean, what I took away from being on the streets of Windsor, in this historic circumstance of the pandemic, watching this momentous funeral unfold, was how odd it was that such a towering and important figure in British public life, and now in our history, was remembered today in a way which did not have much fuss or pomp or circumstance, but actually was quite sedate and intimate.

There weren't thousands of people lining the streets as we've had in all previous royal funerals, but just a smaller family affair, which the royal family invited the world into by televising it so that we could all take part, hear the service, which Prince Philip himself designed, and remember him -- Jim?

ACOSTA: OK, Bianca Nobilo, thanks so much for that. We appreciate it. Thanks for sharing those very touching images with us.

[16:35:01]

Up next, connecting the dots between the Trump campaign and Russia. The bombshell revelation found in one sentence in a 2,000-word press release from the Treasury Department. Former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, joins me, live, next to discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Time for a trip down memory lane to the day Donald Trump first called me fake news.

It was January 2017, and I was trying to ask the then-president-elect if he or any of his associates had any contacts with the Russians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Since you're attacking us, can you give us a question?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go ahead.

No, listen --

ACOSTA: Mr. President-Elect, Mr. President-Elect --

TRUMP: Go ahead. Go ahead.

ACOSTA: Since you are attacking our news organization --

TRUMP: No, not you. Not you.

ACOSTA: -- can you give us chance --

TRUMP: Your organization is terrible.

ACOSTA: You're attacking our news organization.

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: Can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir?

TRUMP: Go ahead.

ACOSTA: Sir --

TRUMP: Quiet. Quiet.

ACOSTA: Sir, Mr. President-Elect, can you --

TRUMP: She's asking a question. Don't be rude.

ACOSTA: Mr. President-Elect --

TRUMP: Don't be rude.

ACOSTA: -- can you give us a question? You're attacking us.

TRUMP: Don't be rude.

ACOSTA: Can you give us a question?

TRUMP: Don't be rude.

ACOSTA: Can you give us a question?

TRUMP: No, I'm not going you --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I'm not going to give you a question.

ACOSTA: Can you state categorically --

[16:40:01]

TRUMP: You are fake news.

Go ahead.

ACOSTA: Sir, can you state categorically that nobody --

(APPLAUSE)

ACOSTA: No, Mr. President-Elect, that's not appropriate.

TRUMP: Go ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: It's safe to say he didn't like the question at the time. And he probably will not like this reporting any more than that.

According to information released by the Biden administration, Trump's 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy, Rick Gates, passed internal polling data to a Russian agent named Konstantin Kilimnik, who then passed it on to, yes, you can guess, the Russian government.

Joining me now to discuss this is the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

Thank you so much, Mr. Clapper, for joining us.

In January 2017, you briefed then-President-Elect Donald Trump on allegations that Russia had compromising information on him as well as allegations that there may have been coordination between Trump surrogates and intermediaries with the Russian government.

Was this part of what you are warning him about the at the time?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Just to be -- thanks, Jim, for having me.

Just to be clear, James Comey actually handled the brief discourse, discussion with then-President-Elect Trump on January 6th, 2017, at Trump Tower about the dossier.

The rest of us that participated in that briefing only treated the Russian interference.

And we, in that assessment, did not address collusion or cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

The reason was we simply didn't have evidence of it, of a sufficient high-confidence level that we could include in our assessment. Now we had concerns about it.

And if you go back even further, before January, there was, of course, the Trump Tower meeting, I think, June 16th, '16, which contemporaneously we did not know about. Then, of course, the famous speech in July of '16, in which the

Candidate Trump exhorted the Russians to go find the missing 30,000 e- mails of Hillary Clinton.

In my book, I discuss the striking parallels and similarities between what the Russians were saying on social media and what the Trump campaign was saying particularly about Hillary Clinton's health.

So inferentially, we had concerns about it, but not -- insufficient evidence that rose to the confidence bar that we were confident enough to put it in the report.

The Senate Intelligence Committee did report this out about the contacts between Paul Manafort, who was then the campaign manager for the Trump campaign, and Kilimnik, who was a known Russian intelligence operative.

So I think was this represents is executive-branch affirmation of, I think, information that was already kind of out there.

The Mueller report refers to it and infers information about it, but much of that was redacted because they apparently weren't sure about just what transpired.

ACOSTA: But this was, I think, putting it in black and white for the public to see it, in this fashion, I think puts a period on something that I think a lot of people did not fully understand and really hasn't fully understood up to this point.

Let me ask about the link between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence. Is this a link that is enough for you to conclude that the two sides were working together to get Trump elected at the time?

Why is this piece of information so important, do you think?

CLAPPER: Well, it certainly confirms there was a conduit, at least one, anyway, between Manafort, Gates, his campaign manager and deputy campaign manager, and the Russians.

What we don't know is whether the Russians used any of this is information or not, or if they did, how it was used. I don't know. We don't have that piece, either.

But the denials about collusion I think kind of fall flat now. I mean, if the sharing polls data with a Russian intelligence operative wasn't collusion, I don't know what is.

ACOSTA: Right. And Paul Manafort repeatedly lied to federal investigators when he was being investigated. He was later pardoned by Trump.

Do you think those two things combined means that there are parts of this story that we will never know?

CLAPPER: I think probably so, Jim. I think that's the case mainly because some of the principal players, you know, have not been completely forth coming.

So there's probably more to this story than we have seen so far. And there's much more to the invisible part of the iceberg.

[16:45:04]

But as you point out, importantly, this is executive-branch confirmation of what we had surmised in the past.

ACOSTA: President Biden is calling for a de-escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Russia after announcing sweeping economic sanctions against Russia for election interference, that massive cyberattack, that's been in the news in recent months, and the occupation of Crimea.

The U.S. has tried sanctions before, as you know, and it hasn't stopped Russia. Putin appears to be flexing his muscles once again with the jailing of Navalny and so on.

Will this time be any different, do you think?

CLAPPER: Well, I don't know. We'll never know what the past sanctions' actions may have prevented. There was no way to know that.

At some point, though, I do think there will be a threshold reached where this, you know, is causing real pain. I think the significance here is in the restrictions on the sovereign debt.

This is something we discussed a good bit in 2016. You know, what do we do about the Russians?

When you start messing with our connections with the international financial system, that's going to get their attention.

I think, deliberately so, the administration left some latitude to take further action, if need be. Say, if there's an incursion into the Ukraine by the Russian military or cutting off gas supplies to Europe.

There is latitude in the executive order that allows for even more draconian action.

So I don't know if it's going to work or if it will change Russian behavior, but I'm quite confident it's gotten their attention.

ACOSTA: OK, former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, thank you so much for your time. Great talking to you once again.

CLAPPER: Jim, thank you.

ACOSTA: Coming up, doctors are raising serious concerns about the health of Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny. We'll bring you a live report from Moscow next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:51:41]

ACOSTA: Some disturbing developments overseas this weekend where Putin critic, Alexei Navalny, is reportedly very close to death in a Russian prison. He's been on a hunger strike for about 18 days.

Let's get more from CNN senior international correspondent, Sam Kiley, in Moscow right now.

Sam, this sounds very serious. Give us the latest.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the moment, Jim, we've only got the statements from people inside the Navalny camp.

But among them are a number of independent medical experts, doctors, who say that they have had access to some of the medical reports on him emerging from the penal colony where he's in jail, suggesting that he could face imminent renal failure and possible heart problems.

Of course, you will recall, Jim, he was attacked with Novichok, the nerve agent, back in the summer of last year, and narrowly only just survived that attack, blamed on the Russian authorities after intense treatment in Germany.

But he chose to return to Russia, face charges of embezzlement. That's, indeed, what he's in jail for. But he's striking, hunger striking in demand for more independent medical attention.

This all coming whilst the opposition is also trying to galvanize support for him from the general Russian population with an online petition calling for 500,000 signatures. They're at about 450.

When they get that, they say, at an unspecified time, they will start organizing what they say would be the biggest rally against Vladimir Putin's rule effectively of Russia.

But of course, they're also saying that if he dies as a result of his hunger strike and treatment in this penal colony, then perhaps the demonstrations would have a very different tone and a different trajectory entirely. I think we have to see.

Some of these statements coming from the Navalny camp as an effort to galvanize support for this mass demonstration. But we are hearing privately that there are very deep concerns, indeed, about Mr. Navalny's future health -- Jim?

ACOSTA: That is a very situation. We know you're going to stay on top of it, as will all of us.

Sam Kiley, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Up next, UFOs, they may be unidentified, but now, according to the Department of Defense, they are real.

[16:54:05] You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: UFO videos have been circulating on the Internet for years, but now the Defense Department is weighing in, saying, in some cases, they're real. Well, at least, three are.

The DOD recently confirmed these videos showing what they call Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. They say the videos are legit and were actually taken by Navy pilots back in 2004 and 2015.

Government officials provided no clarity on what the objects could be but say a task force created to examine UFO sightings by the military continues to investigate.

A quick programing note. The new CNN original series, "THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE KLAN," tells the true story of Beulah Mae Donald, a black mother who took down the Ku Klux Klan after the brutal lynching of her son, Michael.

Don't miss the powerful conclusion of "THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE KLAN" with back-to-back episodes tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

From one crisis to another, America is grappling with an endless cycle of police violence, civil unrest, and mass shootings.

[16:59:56]

And Minnesota police forcefully cleared out a crowd with pepper spray and rubber bullets. At least 100 people were arrested.

The National Guard now bracing for a likely a seventh night of protests over the police shooting of Daunte Wright.