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One Person Killed, Another Wounded In Omaha Mall Shooting; Indianapolis Shooting Victims Range From Age 19 To 74; Interview With Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI); Closing Arguments And Jury Deliberations Start Monday; Queen Elizabeth Says Goodbye To Prince Philip At Intimate Funeral; Princes William And Harry Walk Together After Funeral; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Scraps Launch Of Controversial "America First" Caucus Amid Blowback From GOP. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 17, 2021 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:25]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Sikh community is in mourning as four members were among the victims of the Indianapolis mass shootings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very difficult for a community not to feel targeted, especially given the violence that you've endured for decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protests for a sixth straight night outside Minneapolis and the potential for even more tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens every night is that for hours and hours, you see peaceful protests, and then as night falls, things tend to get a little bit more contentious.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Prince Harry flanked by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. They look comfortable.

Harry and William breaking away there chatting. They broke away together in the name of Prince Philip. In death, he has brought the family together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And tonight, three major American cities -- Chicago, Indianapolis and the suburbs of Minneapolis, they are just the latest places where Americans are terrified. They are fed up with the deadly cycle of gun violence that shows no sign of breaking.

People are furious and taking their anger to the streets. Police are preparing for a possible violent Saturday night as well. And as we join you tonight, news of yet another shooting, this time in a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska; one person was killed, another wounded.

Police say the suspects are still on the run.

CNN's Ryan Young is in Chicago tonight, Jason Carroll is in Indianapolis, but I want to start with security correspondent Josh Campbell in Minneapolis.

Josh, it was chaos not far from where you are right now last night. Police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse angry crowds. How are they preparing for tonight? What's expected?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Pamela, and upwards of 100 people were arrested last night in Brooklyn Center, and just to kind of walk you through the timeline, the evening started out very peacefully we're told.

There were about 250 people that gathered for a march in and near that police station there in Brooklyn Center. By eight o'clock, authorities said they started to see people, some members arrived bringing in shields, bringing in plywood. By about 9:00 p.m., things really started to go downhill.

Authorities say that some in the crowd started shaking the fencing outside of that police station, at one point breached that fencing, that leading authorities to come out using crowd dispersants, clashing with those rioters. Again, upwards of 100 people arrested during that incursion.

Now it's important to point out an important distinction and that is the overwhelming majority of these protests here have been peaceful. In fact, last night in Brooklyn Center, you had community organizers, members of the community imploring the violent members that were out there by trying to riot saying don't do this. This is not how to honor Daunte Wright.

Nevertheless, we saw those clashes with authorities. We also know that tonight, authorities are bracing for another night of possible violence. All five police precincts here in the Minneapolis area have razor wire around them, high fencing, the same in Brooklyn Center, again, as this area here outside Minneapolis continues to deal with two high profile controversial issues involving use of force, obviously, the death of Daunte Wright and the death of George Floyd as trial continues here for that officer, Derek Chauvin here in downtown Minneapolis -- Pamela.

BROWN: I will be speaking to a lawyer for those families later on in the show. Josh Campbell, thank you so much for that.

And straight to Chicago now and CNN's Ryan Young. Ryan, police this week released the body camera footage of an officer-involved shooting that killed a teenager. A massive turnout last night, people demanding justice. Will there be similar protests tonight?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what people are waiting for at this point. And look, we knew there were going to be a lot of people showing up last night. It was a big planned event in terms of protests. You can think about Thursday, only about 50 people showed up for the protest. Last night, you saw you had a couple of thousand people marching through the streets.

But if you talk about getting prepared for this, you can see some of the boarded up walls here in the downtown Chicago area. This is the famous Michigan Avenue, and of course, they want to make sure the infrastructure here is protected.

But let's go back to the video and show you what police were talking about in terms of Adam Toledo. He is the 13-year-old who police say had a gun in his hand when the officer felt he had to fire and that was all a split second decision.

There are people in this community who are very upset about how police officers decided to make that choice.

[18:05:06]

YOUNG: They were responding to a shots fired call. As we walk down this direction, though, and we're talking about this. This is the area they are trying to protect. You have thousands of people protesting yesterday, it remained very peaceful.

But I want to show you what they learned from last summer because one of the things that's happened last summer is things got out of control. So just over here, you can see the heavy equipment that's been pre-positioned, just in case they have to shut down Michigan Avenue. They hope that's not the case.

But as of what happened last summer, when people were looting and tearing up the streets of downtown, they want to make sure that doesn't happen again -- Pam.

BROWN: All right, Ryan Young live for us from Chicago. Thanks so much for that.

And now let's turn to Indiana in a vigil tonight for the eight people who lost their lives in the mass shooting at a FedEx facility.

CNN's Jason Carroll joins us now from Indianapolis. Jason, the horrific attack Thursday struck deep in the Sikh community there. What more can you tell us?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very deep, and in fact, we're here at Krannert Park where we're expecting that vigil is going to be taking place, Pamela, just about an hour from now.

But again, of the eight victims, four were from the Sikh community. And in fact, many of the people from the Sikh community worked at that FedEx facility, and so you can imagine why so many people in that community are feeling especially troubled at this point and, in fact, a letter on behalf of that community sent to President Biden expressing their deep felt hurt.

But again, there were eight victims, four from the Sikh community. Some of the other victims, the oldest, 74 years old, two of the youngest victims, just 19 years old.

And a little earlier today, Pamela, I spoke to a chaplain who has been interacting with the family members and I spoke to her and asked her how she is able to provide comfort, what sort of challenges she faces in trying to do that, in the wake of such a tragedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAROLIN PEREZ, CHAPLAIN, BILLY GRAHAM'S EVANGELICAL RAPID RESPONSE TEAM: Sometimes it's just a matter of being a listening ear because people need to talk, they need to share their experience. And through that experience, then they're able to begin the healing process.

So oftentimes, it's not about the things that you say, but it's about just being a listening ear and available to people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: And just to touch on the investigation, the shooter identified once again as 19-year-old, Brandon Hole. Apparently, he last worked for FedEx in 2020. That was the same year in 2020 his mother called police and she said that she was worried that her son might try to commit suicide by police. He was actually interviewed by the F.B.I., and for a temporary period of time he was put on a mental health hold. He had a gun that was seized.

His family has released a statement and I want to read part of that to you now. It says: "We are devastated by the loss of the life caused as a result of Brandon's actions; through the love of his family, we tried to get him the help he needed. Our sincerest and most heartfelt apologies go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy."

A senseless tragedy, Pamela, at this point, still no motive.

BROWN: Jason Carroll, thank you so much reporting live for us from Indianapolis.

And when you look at gun violence in America, in just the last month, at least 45 mass shootings have happened here in the United States. Look at this map on your screen. That's according to CNN reporting and analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive, local media and police reports.

There have been at least 147 mass shootings so far this year, but when you look at the number of lives lost, 38,000 Americans die from gun violence a year, an average of 100 per day according to Giffords. That is an organization led by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. She was shot in the head by a gunman who killed six people and injured 12 others in Arizona in 2011.

And according to the organization, America has the weakest gun laws and the most guns with 393 million. Nearly every American will know at least one victim of gun violence in their lifetime. So if you don't know one now, you probably will per the numbers.

And when it comes to suicide, gun access triples the risk. The majority at 51 percent involve a gun.

With me now is Rhode Island Democratic Congressman David Cicilline. He is Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce. Thanks so much for joining me.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): My pleasure.

BROWN: You were in the Rose Garden with President Biden less than two weeks ago as he rolled out his first Executive Actions on reducing gun violence.

But I want to show you what the F.B.I. is saying about the suspect in the FedEx killings.

His mom called for help over a year ago worried he tried to die by suicide by cop. He was put on a temporary mental health hold. His shotgun was seized. The F.B.I. checked on him the following month, didn't find signs of violent extremism or any crime and authorities kept his shotgun.

How does all of that happen and the man still manages to walk in and kill eight people with a gun?

[18:10:05]

CICILLINE: It's a great question. I mean, we have to obviously learn about how he got this gun, but the red flag law that you are referencing is one of the things that President Biden signed an Executive Order for the Department of Justice to promulgate and share with state's model red flag legislation to be sure, we keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them.

But as you described in the lead up to speaking to me, we have a gun violence epidemic in this country. Three hundred and sixteen people will be shot every single day, 106 people die at the hands of a gun.

It's a public health crisis. It's an epidemic. It's a level of gun violence that doesn't exist in any other developed country.

And there are things we can do about it. The House has already passed two important bills, universal background checks, and closing the Charleston loophole to make sure that gun sellers have time to do background checks.

But there's a lot more we can do like pass the assault weapons ban, and a number of bills to prevent high-capacity magazines. But you know, the Senate should move quickly on the two bills that are there. But we have a lot of work to do to reduce gun violence in this country.

BROWN: Let's talk about the Senate, because we know, as you mentioned, those two House bills, they are stalled over in the Senate.

Your Democratic colleague, Chris Murphy says he remains optimistic about a path forward, but Republican Pat Toomey, who has co-sponsored legislation in the past tell CNN, it's hard to say if they're making progress, and Senator Manchin, the Democratic swing vote on so many things now will only say he plans to get together and talk on some things with Toomey.

When are the American people going to see both parties sit down and say, here's one thing we can agree on and let's vote on that right now. You've done it in the House in a bipartisan fashion. Why is it not happening in the Senate?

CICILLINE: Well, it is a really important question. Look, the bill that we passed universal background checks, is supported by over 95 percent of the American people, including the majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, and the majority of responsible gun owners. So there's no controversy about this.

We know background checks work. Three and a half million gun sales have been denied since background checks became the law, which meant that people who shouldn't have a gun who were not legally entitled to possess one we're stopped, so we know that they work.

The problem is about 20 percent of gun sales happen without background checks. This will close that loophole. It's bipartisan. It is supported by, as I said, 95 percent of the American people.

The only place that seems to be controversial is in the Republican cloakroom in Washington, and I think the Republican Party is going to continue to hear demands from the people of this country that they enact commonsense gun proposals.

Two of them are already in the Senate. We pass them quickly. They're supported by the American people. And I'm sorry --

BROWN: But even -- go ahead. I just want to point out, though, I mean, even Senator Manchin didn't hop right on board, right? He has his own concerns about private gun sales and so forth.

I'm just wondering, we know things are so volatile and bad in Washington among politicians, among lawmakers. Do you think the Democrats should be doing more? Is there anything more they can be doing to reach across the aisle and try to talk with Republicans, get more Republicans on board, try to come up with more commonsense gun legislation?

CICILLINE: Well, I mean, the bill came out of the House with a bipartisan vote, a strong bipartisan vote. So there is Republican support in the House.

But again, this is one in which the American people have made it clear that they expect Congress to act on this. It's wildly popular.

And so of course, we're going to continue to try to work with Republicans, but they have a responsibility to respond to the demands of their constituents, that they can live lives free from gun violence.

And so there's a lot more we can do and we are going to send more bills to the Senate that will help to reduce gun violence in this country. But they haven't even acted on these two proposals, because of the power of the gun lobby, and I think that's what it is, plain and simple.

The Republican Party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NRA, and even though they're in a weakened position, but I think, you know, the American people just have to keep the pressure on the Republicans in the Senate and demand that they pass the two bills out of there.

BROWN: To be clear, I mean, Democrats, you know, have also -- more moderate Democrats have also had NRA support, and you're seeing a lot of Democrats, I mean, most, right, I mean, all in the House, you have the Senate now get behind this legislation.

If Republicans are going to stand by what they consider to be a Second Amendment fight after 45 shootings in a month's time, do Democrats need to use whatever time they have before the midterms? Forget hopes of bipartisanship and simply vote their conscience, no matter the political risk. What do you think?

CICILLINE: Well, I think that's what we're doing, and I think you'll see continuously more of that and we are going to continue to pass bills in the House that will respond to this epidemic of gun violence in this country and the senators are going to be responsible for either action or inaction on these bills.

[18:15:12]

CICILLINE: But look, you look at the numbers. This is a staggering public health crisis. We have an epidemic of gun violence in this country, and although we can't stop every shooting, we can pass legislation which taken together can significantly reduce gun violence in this country. That's our responsibility.

And, you know, we will work with any Republicans that are interested in working on this issue. But this notion of you can't pass any gun bills, because of the Second Amendment is simply not true. The Supreme Court has already said you can impose reasonable restrictions on the use of firearms. You can't own a machine gun. You can prevent assault weapons.

So this idea of, you know, you can't constitutionally restrict or impose any regulations on guns, it is just not true, and we have a responsibility to do it.

So you can safely go to church and a synagogue and a shopping mall and a FedEx center without being worried about being gunned down.

BROWN: That would be nice, right? Congressman David Cicilline, thank you very much for coming on the show, sharing your perspective. We appreciate it.

CICILLINE: My pleasure.

BROWN: And we want to let you know that we are also getting a Republican view of this debate. Congressman James Comer of Kentucky is part of the Second Amendment Caucus, and he will join me live here in the CNN NEWSROOM in our next hour.

And coming up tonight, the world remembers Prince Philip. What is next for the monarchy? And can the grief over his death bring reconciliation for his two grandsons?

Also tonight, a teenage COVID survivor explains how a groundbreaking blood cleaning procedure saved her life. It is a fascinating story.

And the strongest proof yet that the Trump campaign was infiltrated by Russian Intelligence.

But first we're going to tell you how doctors are homing in on the cause of blood clots that could be linked to COVID-19 vaccines. That's next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:21:11]

BROWN: Well, within the last few hours, the world reached a somber pandemic milestone. The number of lives lost to COVID-19 has surpassed three million people. Of note, the U.S. leads the world in COVID deaths with more than 560,000 and rising.

There is some promising vaccine news with the U.S. officially administering more than 200 million vaccine doses, almost a quarter of the population is now fully vaccinated.

And beginning on Monday, all adults will be eligible to get the vaccine. However, there is this sobering statistic according to Johns Hopkins, nearly half of the states reported an increase in COVID-19 cases this week.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Detroit for us. So Polo, Michigan is grappling with a new surge in cases with hospitals straining to meet demand, what are you seeing there?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Pam, once again, the focus is on hospitals, at least here in the State of Michigan. There are multiple healthcare facilities here in the State of Michigan that are reporting their hospitalization numbers have not only reached the levels that we saw during the most recent fall winter surge, but in some cases, even exceeding them.

And now there is growing concern that those numbers could potentially reach what we saw last spring at the start of the pandemic. It is certainly a worry over at Beaumont Health, one of the larger healthcare systems here in Detroit.

I spent some time there today with one of their infectious disease experts, Dr. Joel Fishbain, who tells me not only what we've been hearing recently, which is that many of these patients now are not only younger, but that about half of those patients are coming into the ER infected with that highly infectious b.1.1.7 variant that was first detected in the U.K., and many of them admitting to attending those large gatherings that goes against the recommendations that we're seeing not just across the country, but especially here in Michigan where the situation is dire. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JOEL FISHBAIN, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST, BEAUMONT HEALTH: We're seeing many, many more people sick, you know, in families and exposures. And the problem and concern that I have is until everybody gets vaccinated, could there be other variants that now escape the immune system?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANDOVAL: DR. Fishbain there addressing that concern that we are hearing more and more from doctors right now, Pam, which is that this virus has already proven its ability to mutate.

The concern is that it could potentially mutate further and possibly even escape immunity, be it those who have been previously infected with the coronavirus, or those of us who have been recently vaccinated as well. That is a huge concern for authorities and the more opportunity this virus has to spread, as we've seen here in Michigan with infection numbers that are five times greater than what we had in February, then there is a higher probability that that could potentially happen.

But of course, as the research and of course, as you continue to hear from experts, right now, those vaccines that do have that authorization to be used here in the United States do continue to afford that protection, at least for now -- Pam.

BROWN: All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.

As cases spike in Michigan, join me next hour when I talked to John Fox, the CEO of the state's largest healthcare provider that you heard Polo mention there. He says hospitals are at a critical capacity.

Plus, the National Guard in Minneapolis preparing for closing arguments to start Monday in the Derek Chauvin trial. They are blocking off intersections and putting up barbed wire.

I'll talk to two experts about what we should watch for this week, Civil Rights attorneys, Areva Martin and Tim Alexander join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:29:05]

BROWN: Closing arguments are set for Monday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Jurors have sat through 13 days of testimony and heard from 45 witnesses, seven for the defense and 38 from the prosecution.

The testimony has been defined by expertise on both sides and emotions from witnesses who were just steps away from what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been night, I've stayed up, apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: In closing, the prosecution will argue that George Floyd died from Chauvin's knee, which was pressed against his neck for more than nine minutes.

[18:30:11]

The defense will argue that Chauvin did what he was trained to do and that Floyd died from illegal drug use and underlying health problems. The jury will be sequestered until a verdict is reached.

Joining me now is CNN Legal Analyst and Civil Rights Attorney Areva Martin and another civil rights attorney, former Detective Tim Alexander, who had a 27-year career in law enforcement after being a victim of police brutality as a teenager. He is also running for Congress as a Democrat in New Jersey's second congressional district. Thank you both for coming on to discuss this.

Tim, let's start with you. When you look at this trial as someone who experienced police brutality yourself, how are you processing all of this?

TIM ALEXANDER, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Thank you and thank you for having me. When I watched this trial, when I watched the murder of George Floyd, of course, all my experiences came to bear that when I went through in 1985 and those officers tried to take my life by shooting at me and beating me up and falsely accusing me of a crime that I did not commit, I had to fight to come from underneath that.

But I use that experience to become a police officer, a better police officer than the men who abused me. And later on as a prosecutor and now civil rights attorney. I looked at this trial, I looked at that event and I said, all that emotion just came flooding back. This was straight up murder.

There was no doubt from the beginning for me and I think the prosecution did a great job laying it out. They did a great job in showing through multiple police witnesses why it was not a proper use of force and how it dissolved into a flat up murder.

BROWN: What do you think, Areva? Do you think that the prosecution has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt, as we know jury deliberations begin next week?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Pam. I think this case will be a slam dunk case, but for the fact that we're talking about a police officer. And we know historically, in the U.S., it's been very difficult to get, one, a prosecution and, two, a conviction of a police officer. Our criminal justice system is biased in favor of police officers. But when you look at the compelling nature of the evidence and testimony that was presented on behalf of the prosecution. I can't imagine that anybody would walk away with any conclusion other than the fact that Derek Chauvin is guilty and guilty of the most serious charge of second degree murder from the compelling testimony of those witnesses.

And you played a piece of - in the lead up to this segment - the star witness in this case is that bystander video. And the prosecution took us frame by frame and showed us literally when the light was sucked out of Mr. Floyd. And then we had those outstanding expert witnesses, both medical and use of force.

And I think one of the most significant things in this case is the Police Chief. We saw a breaking of sorts, of the blue line. We saw police officer after police officer testify that this conduct was excessive and that it was illegal. And I think that's a substantial piece that we have not seen in a lot of these high profile cases.

And my last point is we have four African-Americans on this jury. Typically, these cases are tried and you don't have this diversity on the jury. So there are a lot of factors, I think, in this case that point to a conviction.

BROWN: So you noted, Areva, something that is different about this case than other police cases we have seen. The number of Chauvin's former colleagues on the force testifying against him during this trial, including the chief of police. Tim, there has been a tradition of silence among police officers in cases like this, as you well know. How significant is it that these officers are testifying in this way?

ALEXANDER: Paramount. I think that that's the change. That's the sea change. In addition to the length of time that that event went on, over nine and a half minutes, that Derek Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd's neck. There's no use of force that lasts nine and a half minutes under any circumstance for the officers to come in and say from the chief, down to the dispatcher, who was watching the video to say over and over and over again, this was improper, this was wrong.

That's where the courage comes in, that a police officer recognizes that there can be evil behind the badge and they want it rooted out. They want it identified. Those officers came in with that courage and conviction. And they did exactly what they were supposed to do.

They moved to have a person who committed a heinous crime convicted by sitting in that box and telling what their view of that incident over and over and over again.

BROWN: So Areva, how big of an impact do you think that their testimony could have on the jury then?

MARTIN: Well, I think it's going to be significant. We have not seen, again, in these high-profile cases in particular, a chief of police. We haven't seen the number of police officers testified. And something else, we got to see every frame of what happened to Mr. Floyd. So we saw him in Cup Foods literally dancing, stretching, involved in normal activity and then nine minutes later, we see literally the life squeezed out of him, as his body is smashed to the ground on that pavement. And those compelling bystander witnesses, that emotional testimony.

[18:35:06]

One thing that young woman who filmed the bystander video said she felt guilty that she didn't intervene, that she didn't do more. So I'm just wondering if the jurors are also going to be asking themselves as the final arbiters, should they be the ones that step up, be courageous, follow the evidence, follow the judge's instructions and hold Derek Chauvin accountable so that they don't have the same kind of remorse and guilt that that young lady had. I think that's going to be a significant part of what those jurors are thinking about.

BROWN: Tim, what do you think of someone who was the victim of police brutality who then worked in a police department? What police reforms do you think need to happen?

ALEXANDER: We have to with the recruiting and the training. Recruiting and making sure we get the right people for the job, people who have a commitment to the community. We don't need individuals coming into community to patrol, and contain and control the citizens. We need people who work, interact and function with the community.

We start by making sure that young recruits spend at least a year in community service before they become a police officer. We make sure through background investigations that they are not victims of bullying. They are not themselves bully.

We want to know about their juvenile, not just arrest record, but also how they interacted as a young man or woman before they become a police officer. Because that's going to tell the tale what type of person they are, are they community-centered.

And then we go into changing the entire training program to include getting rid of some of these simulations that are no win, when officers go into the shooting simulators and they come out with no other choice but to shoot and shoot as many rounds as they can and there's nowhere near to reality. There's so much that we have to do and it can be done as long as we have the will to do it.

BROWN: All right. Tim Alexander, Areva Martin, thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thanks, Pam.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, as Queen Elizabeth says goodbye to Prince Philip at an intimate funeral, a moment of reconciliation finally for her grandsons. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:41:25]

BROWN: Solemn moments as Britain lays Prince Philip to rest at Windsor Castle. It was a scaled back funeral as the Royal Family adhere strictly to the U.K.'s COVID regulations. There were haunting images of Queen Elizabeth you see here dressed all in black, head down and sitting alone during the service for her husband of 73 years.

But there were also images of brothers, Prince William and Harry coming together, standing shoulder to shoulder. The service is marking the first time Prince Harry has attended a publicized event alongside his family since the bombshell Oprah interview.

I want to discuss Prince Philip's legacy and the future of the monarchy with CNN Royal Commentator, Kate Williams, who joins us from London. Kate, great to have you on, as always.

You have been following the Royals for a long time. Your thoughts when you saw the Queen sitting alone during the funeral?

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Pamela. As you say, incredibly moving image. This was a ceremony. A ceremony of funeral that the Duke has planned to the absolute final end. She chose the music to celebrate his naval career, the principle of service, 700 military personnel participated in the really impressive parades.

But the one thing he would never have wanted as what we saw his wife, his wife of 73 years sitting there mourning him alone due to COVID restrictions. And it was such a painful and moving image.

And I think a really striking reminder about how many people across Britain and across the world in this past year have lost people and be unable to mourn them as they would have wished, because there was the queen, a 94-year-old lady who've given all her life to duty and so with the Duke as well and no one could go and hold her hand due to the rules we have in place at the present.

BROWN: Yes. I mean, it's just heartbreaking. There is no getting around the image, of course, of the brothers, as I mentioned earlier, William and Harry, walking. They were standing side by side. I know not just Royal watchers, a lot of people are watching that closely. What was your reaction when you saw that?

WILLIAMS: Yes. So there's been a lot of conversation about the rift between William and Harry over the last week and actually some of this conversation really threatened to sort of overpower the whole conversation about the funeral itself and about the Duke's contribution to public life.

And certainly, I think, when we saw them coming out of the chapel, they could have driven back, but they chose to walk. They're coming out to the chapel and Harry really walking up to William and talking to him. I think Harry knew what a powerful image that would send, a powerful image of reconciliation of politeness.

They haven't seen each other, of course, for years since the Commonwealth service last March and after and then the pandemic struck. And really there has been, as we know, a lot of criticism, a lot of negative criticism of Harry and Meghan, particularly in this country.

And I do hope that this ideally is going to be an end of that kind of criticism and really a movement towards supporting the Queen and thinking about the future of the monarchy and less of the constant criticism of Harry and Meghan. That's what I'm hoping, but I'm not sure.

But certainly, Harry is someone who held service so dear. He adored his grandfather and wanted to commemorate him, wanted to be there and I know, obviously, Meghan wants to too but wasn't able to due to pregnancy.

[18:45:00]

So I hope that this is the moment of more conversations. We know that Harry wants to speak to William and Charles but they weren't always returning his calls. Let's hope it's the beginning of more conversations between them.

BROWN: Right. I mean, no one knows. You just sort of laid that out. But do you think it gives Royal's fans reason to smile on such a somber day and feel hope, at least hope that the pair is reconciling here?

WILLIAMS: Yes. I think that it does give hope and I think certainly things can never be the way they were. Harry and Meghan didn't feel supported in the Royal Family. There was no support. There was racist, abuse, and there was no support and Meghan was really suffering. And so they had to step back. They want to do the part time role, that wasn't allowed. They had to step back.

So it will never be as it was, but certainly in Royal occasions, Harry wants to be there to support them. He does want to support the Queen. He does want to support the Royal Family and it's really incredibly important to him. And I think hopefully, that we can see a movement forward of less criticism of them. And as you say, a movement and reconciliation and hope.

BROWN: All right. Kate Williams. Thank you so much.

Tonight, a sudden reversal, 24 hours ago Conservative Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene was assembling a group of far-right lawmakers known for their hardline views. Now, her controversial America First caucus is being scrapped. Suzanne Malveaux is on Capitol Hill and will explain why when we come back.

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[18:51:13]

BROWN: Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is now scrapping plans to launch her America First caucus, which would have brought together a group of far-right lawmakers known for their controversial rhetoric. A flyer obtained by Punchbowl News said the new Congressional caucus also would have called for a 'common respect' for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions, otherwise considered white traditions, will also pushing a series of conspiracy theories about election integrity.

Joining us now from Capitol Hill is CNN's Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, what more can you tell us about this decision?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, this language was considered so offensive, the concepts, as well behind it this mission statement that was put out previously that even Greene's own allies, the people that CNN reached out to for comment who would normally sign on to the caucus kind of automatically were taking a wait and see type of approach, non-committal on this. The only person who really expressed enthusiasm was Rep. Matt Gaetz who has his own legal problems as well as a federal investigation.

Pam, this really was received very poorly among, not only, the moderate traditional Republicans but also some Trump supporters as well. Most notably, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy putting out this tweet saying that the Republican Party is a party of Lincoln and the party of more opportunity for all Americans-not nativist dog whistles.

The number three Republican Liz Cheney chimed in saying, "Republicans believe in equal opportunity, freedom, justice for all. We teach our children the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage. Racism, nativism and anti-Semitism our evil. History teaches us we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate."

We also heard from Adam Kinzinger, an outspoken Republican when it comes to former President Trump. But he said he was disgusted by this and call that anybody would sign on for this caucus to immediately be removed from their committee assignments. Now, Greene doesn't have to worry about that, she was already removed for previous comments that she has made.

But yesterday it was really quite the reversal, her office putting out acknowledging that, yes, Punchbowl did get it correct in the language of this flyer and some of the details of the mission, but they were disturbed that it had been leaked, but said that it was going to be released and launched. There was a lot of enthusiasm behind it today.

The statement now saying, "The Congresswoman wants to make clear she is not launching anything. This was an early planning proposal and nothing was agreed to or approved." And it seems as if Greene now saying it was kind of half-baked, blaming the media and her staff tweeting here, "They released a staff level draft proposal from an outside group that I hadn't read."

So Pam, it's unclear whether or not she is going to launch such a caucus or maybe some sort of movement about America First, but what is really clear at this point is that this is a test for the Republican Party, their mission and their message going forward. We know that green has made controversial comments before she has been punished before, but she has also raised an unprecedented amount for a freshman of Republican and she has raised $3.2 million just in the first three months.

It is an extraordinary amount of money. The question remains whether or not she will pay for these kind of outrageous outlandish comments or whether or not it will pay off, Pam.

BROWN: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, we shall see. Thank you so much. Reporting live from Capitol Hill.

And moments from now, we are live as a community gathers to honor the victims of the mass shooting in Indianapolis. Stay with us.

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BROWN: Well, the new CNN Original Series, "The People Versus the Klan" tell us 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 clan with back-to-back episodes tomorrow night at nine Eastern right here on CNN.

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I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday.