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CNN NEWSROOM

Gunman Who Killed Eight at FedEx Site Identified as Former Employee; Protests over Police Shootings; Duke of Edinburgh's Funeral Today; Biden: Mass Shootings "A National Embarrassment"; Ousted Myanmar Civilian Leaders to Form Underground Government; Biden Holds News Conference with Japanese PM; End of the Castro Era. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired April 17, 2021 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

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KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A community, a state and the entire U.S. is coping with the trauma and toll from another mass shooting.

Meanwhile, a new protest over the police shooting of a teenager, who had his hands in the air.

And a farewell to a prince. In just a few hours, Britain's Prince Philip will be laid to rest.

Live, from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching here, in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber and this is CNN NEWSROOM. CNN NEWSROOM.

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BRUNHUBER: It's a specific kind of terror, that only seems to, constantly, haunt the United States, mass shootings. The most recent took place, Thursday night, at a FedEx ground facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. Eight people lost their

lives.

That horrific news is compounded by the number of similar incidents, in recent weeks. In fact, it's the 45th mass shooting in the U.S., since the Atlanta area spa killings, on March 16th. And some cities have had more than one.

Now CNN defines a mass shooting as one, in which at least four people are hurt or killed by gunfire, not including the gunman. Officials say they won't reveal the identities of the people who are wounded in that shooting Friday, but they have released the names of those who lost their lives.

They are 32-year-old Matthew R. Alexander, 19-year-old Samaria Blackwell. 66-year-old Amarjeet Johal, 68-year-old Jaswinder Singh, 64-year-old Jaswinder Kaur, 48-year-old Amarjit Sekhon, 19-year-old Karli Smith and 74-year-old John Weisart. Now investigators in Indianapolis are combing through a chaotic crime

scene and reveal disturbing details about how the killer ended up on law enforcement radar last year. Miguel Marquez has the details.

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MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eight more lives lost in America's latest mass shooting.

JEREMIAH MILLER, WITNESS: He was firing in the open and I immediately ducked down and got scared and my friend's mother, he came -- she came in and told us to get inside the car.

TIMOTHY BOILLAT, WITNESS: We heard three more shots and then my buddy Levi saw someone running out of the building and then more shots went off.

MARQUEZ: Officials say a gunman entered the sprawling FedEx facility neither Indianapolis airport just after 11:00 pm last night. After opening fire in the parking lot killing four, he killed another four inside. Seven more injured in the rampage.

MCCARTT: He got out of his car and pretty quickly started some random shooting outside the facility. There was no confrontation with anyone that was there. There was no disturbance. There was no argument.

MARQUEZ: The shooter used at least one rifle, police say, responding within minutes to what police described as a chaotic crime scene, but gunman had already killed himself inside the building.

BOILLAT: I'm a little -- I'm a little overwhelmed.

MARQUEZ: The FBI is assisting local police in searching the suspect's home and car. So far investigators haven't identified the man, but CNN has learned he was known to federal and local officials after a family member reached out to them warning of a potential for violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be premature to speculate on that motivation. I can tell you that there is no further threat.

MARQUEZ: Family members of victims and those who worked at the facility gathered at a nearby hotel as police worked to identify the victims. The facility, the second largest hub in FedEx's global network with more than 4,500 employees.

In a statement, FedEx said the company is deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our team members.

MAYOR JOE HOGSETT (D-IN), INDIANAPOLIS: Nothing we learn can heal the wounds of those who escaped with their lives but who will now bear the scars and endure the memories of this horrific crime.

MARQUEZ: So, this young man was on police radar, in March of 2020, when his mother called police here in Indianapolis, to say she believed he was trying to commit suicide by cop. They went to the home. They checked it out. They took a shotgun from him that he owned. [04:05:00]

MARQUEZ: And they saw something, in his room or in the house, that warranted them calling the FBI. They, then, investigated and interviewed that young man in April, a month later.

They shut the investigation down, they said, because there was nothing that indicated any sort of extremism of any sort. But it does raise the question of how it was he was able to get the gun that killed eight people at this facility -- back to you.

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BRUNHUBER: Now four of the people killed in Indianapolis, half of the number of total victims, were part of the city's Sikh community. The facility, where the shootings occurred, reportedly employs a large number of Sikhs.

And another member of that community described the difficulty of sitting with families as they waited for news of their loved ones. He also said the relatively large number of Sikh victims should be part of the investigation.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given the numbers of Punjabi Sikhs that work in the facility, we fully expect the authorities should and will, conduct a full investigation including, the possibility of bias as a factor.

And despite this violence, the Sikh community now stands with our neighbors and we are ready to do anything we can to help our city heal in the weeks and months ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: U.S. President Joe Biden says, gun violence, quote, "pierces the very soul of the nation" and is an epidemic in the U.S. While addressing the latest mass shooting, he called for Congress to finally take action and ban assault weapons.

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JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every single day, every single day there is a mass shooting in the United States, if you count all those who were killed out on the streets of our cities and our rural areas. It's a national embarrassment and must come to an end.

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BRUNHUBER: So, what can be done to stop gun violence?

Well, ahead, in this hour, I will speak with a gun control advocate, who is also a former speechwriter for President Biden.

Well, tensions have also been rising in the U.S., after several fatal police shootings. Hundreds of protesters gathered in Chicago, outraged over the death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo last month.

As night fell, there were some standoffs between police and protesters. Anger has been reignited, after recently released body cam video showed the moments an officer shot and killed the teen during a chase.

Now police say, the shooting was a split-second decision. Questions, now, surround whether or not the teen was holding a gun in his hand. CNN's Martin Savidge breaks down the video. And a warning, it's disturbing.

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MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the moment when police killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

Newly released body cam video showing the officer identified as Eric Stillman firing one shot as Toledo raised his hands in the air.

Police say this image shows Toledo was holding a gun before Stillman shot him. And they say that gun was found nearby after the shooting.

But look closer, when Toledo raised his hands, he did not appear to be holding anything.

Police say that Toledo was holding the gun less than a second before he raised his hands.

The family's attorney says they won't know if what Toledo had in his hands was a gun until she has the video forensically analyzed but says, it doesn't change what happened.

ADEENA WEISS-ORTIZ, LAWYER FOR ADAM TOLEDO'S FAMILY: That child complied. Adam complied with the officer's request, dropped the gun, turned around. The officer saw his hands were up and pulled the trigger.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Officer Stillman's lawyer says the officer was left with no other option and that he feels horrible about the outcome. But he was well within his justification of using deadly force.

JOHN CATARANZA, PRESIDENT, CHICAGO FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: That officer had eight-tenths of a second to determine if that weapon was still in his hand or not. The officer does not have to wait to be shot at or shot in order to respond and defend himself.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Police say that they were responding to alerts of shots fired in the early morning hours of March 29th. Surveillance video appears to show someone shooting toward a car.

The new body cam video shows the chase that ensued moments after officers arrived on the scene. Prosecutors are now charging a 21-year- Adam Toledo with the beginning of the encounter.

They say the gun recovered at the scene of Toledo's killing match the shell casings found at the first location where the car was fired off. And that Toledo's hands and gloves dropped by the older suspect tested positive for gunshot residue. The White House today called the new video chilling.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Too often in this country, law enforcement uses unnecessary force, too often resulting in the death of Black and brown Americans. The president, again, has repeatedly said that he believes we need police reform.

SAVIDGE: The family of Adam Toledo says they didn't know their son had been killed by police until 2.5 days after he died. The reason, according to authorities, is he had no identification on him. And the man arrested with him gave them a wrong name.

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SAVIDGE: It is adding to the anguish and the anger on the streets of Chicago -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: In Minnesota, hundreds took to the streets outside the Brooklyn Center police department for a sixth straight night, demanding justice following the police shooting of Daunte Wright last Sunday.

Demonstrators were seen throwing objects at police, who used pepper spray and flash bombs in response. Police eventually declared the protests unlawful assembly and quickly moved in, making arrests and dispersing the crowd with rubber bullets.

And a riot has been declared in Oregon after a group of people were engaged in what police call criminal activity. Crowds have gathered to protest in a Portland park, Friday night, after a man was shot and killed by police.

Authorities say some participants were seen breaking windows and robbing businesses. Police say they made several arrests, during the incident.

All right. Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, the U.S. COVID vaccine campaign has hit a major milestone. But still, COVID-19 case numbers are trending upward in almost half of the country. We'll find out why.

And later, a sad, momentous day for Britain's monarchy as it prepares for the funeral of Prince Philip. We are live in Windsor, next.

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BRUNHUBER: Hundreds of British military personnel have been training to take part in Prince Philip's funeral later today. More than 700 troops will be part of the ceremony. Now the funeral begins in a little more than five hours from now, at 9:45 Eastern time.

The procession, including Prince Philip's coffin, will leave Windsor Castle. Eight minutes later, it will arrive on the steps of St. George's Chapel. At 10:00 am Eastern, the U.K. will observe a nationwide minute of silence.

Then, Prince Philip's coffin will be carried into the chapel. And the funeral service will begin. Anna Stewart is in Windsor for us.

Anna, what more can you tell us how it will unfold at the funeral and the public, who might want to pay respects, as well?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Morning, Kim. It is a terribly sad day, isn't it?

Beautiful and sunny. Tributes been pouring in all week and I think that has been some comfort to them. But of course, that final farewell at a funeral is never easy.

Some comfort, perhaps, to be had for Her Majesty the Queen, that Prince Philip is going to be very present in the proceedings today. Big hand in organizing it. He meticulously planned some elements.

And it will feel like a very personal funeral that reflects his life and career, particularly, with the navy and other branches of the armed forces.

Now in terms of timing, we do expect the coffin to be moved from the private chapel within less than two hours' time. It will be moved so it is ready to be picked up by the pallbearers, who will bring it out at 9:45 Eastern.

The procession, with over 700 personnel from the armed forces, lots of military bands, it is a short procession. It will only be eight minutes long. And it is outside St. George's Chapel, followed by some members of the royal family, including, of course, his children and grandchildren, Prince Harry included. He is back from California.

There will be a gun sounded by the Kings Troop Royal Horse artillery and that will mark the beginning of a one-minute silence. It will be in stark contrast to all of the pomp and pageantry and music leading up to that moment. And real time for the nation to reflect on the life of Prince Philip.

Another gun will sound, to end that. And a coffin will be moved by the Royal Marines, into the church. And that will be when the service begins. Only 30 people there, Kim, as a result of the pandemic. Terribly small.

It will be sad to see Her Majesty, the Queen, sitting on her own. The households will have to keep some social distance due to the pandemic and they will all be wearing masks. There will be no singing for the congregation. A choir of just four will be singing hymns. Many of them picked specifically by Prince Philip. It is going to be terribly sad but, hopefully, also, a celebration of

his incredible life and legacy.

BRUNHUBER: Absolutely, all right. Thanks so much, CNN's Anna Stewart in Windsor, England.

So let's turn to Charles Anson. He was the press secretary to Queen Elizabeth from 1990 to 1997 and he is joining me from Brighton, England.

Thank you so much for -- for joining us here. I want to start with the -- the Archbishop of Canterbury has said the funeral will be an anguished moment for the queen.

Can you give us any insight into that conflict, that will, no doubt, be -- be playing out?

So outwardly, the queen will feel the need to show, you know, poise and dignity. But inside, obviously, so distraught.

CHARLES ANSON, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY TO QUEEN ELIZABETH II: Well, I think, first of all, it's a very public moment, the passing of Prince Philip, after 73 years of marriage and a hugely important public life. It is a moment to pause and, of course, is a very sad moment for the queen.

But it's, also, a moment to celebrate the public service of Prince Philip and his constant companionship and support of the queen, as well as being able to do so much in his own public life to help the cause of young children, the environment, technology, the arts.

You know, he did a huge amount, as well, in his own right. But it is essentially a sad moment of the funeral but also a celebration of his life and his support of the queen for many years, the longest reign in our history and one of the longest marriages in history.

BRUNHUBER: You've said that the queen has been, sort of, prepared for Philip's death.

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BRUNHUBER: How so?

ANSON: Well, I think, first of all, in a very long life, which Prince Philip had just short of 100 years, they have enjoyed an enormous amount together. And I think an important but little discussed point is that the queen is a woman of very strong faith.

And so was Prince Philip. He had an interest, not only in Christian faith but in all sorts other faiths as well. So I think the queen will be very much supported by her own faith and the knowledge that this moment was going to come at some point.

So it will be a sad moment. But also, I think, a very fine moment, celebrating an outstanding public contribution by both the queen and, of course, of her husband. BRUNHUBER: You've -- you've spoken there about the longevity of their

relationship. But tell us a bit more about it, from -- from the inside. I mean, from the outside, we only see the -- the sort of carefully manicured impressions there.

But behind the scenes, in those more casual moments. I mean, we were just showing some pictures, earlier, of them sitting together in the Scottish highlands, sort of a bit more casually there.

What -- what was it like in those more unguarded moments?

ANSON: Well, I think it was a very close relationship. It was a very good team. And certainly, as a member of -- of the royal household, it was a pleasure to support and be present on public occasions with the queen and Prince Philip on a walkabout or meeting people.

You know, they were a great combination, a rather formal and shyer personality of the queen and the very outgoing, easy nature of Prince Philip, able to joke and to talk to people in a nice way in a way that naval officers learn to do living in close quarters on ships and so on.

So I think, it was -- they're a marvelous team to work -- work for, in that way. They're both trusting in their characters. But what they were joined by is, first of all, a very long and strong marriage but also, an equal commitment to public duty and trying to, you know, in ways, make a contribution to a slightly better world, in many different fields.

BRUNHUBER: We heard from our reporter there, Anna Stewart, that -- that -- that this will be a more spartan -- more sparse funeral than usual because of the COVID restrictions.

Is that -- is that a real shame, considering the length of service the prince has rendered?

Or is it fitting, given that he said he didn't want too much pomp and fuss?

ANSON: He -- Prince Philip's certainly someone who didn't like pomp and fuss. And especially he didn't really want it for himself. So I think, he'd have -- he would have been smiling rather wryly if it ended up being rather a small funeral.

But of course, he was very much involved in the planning of it, with the -- the Land Rover hearse that will carry his coffin to St. George's Chapel, the hymns and psalms of the sea. There will be a lot of him in it.

And I think it will be an occasion which, thank goodness, has -- is being televised and will be enjoyable all over the world not only as a -- as a dignified and stylish farewell to him but also, you know, a marvelously historic chapel, which has seen many royal services, over a thousand certainly, more than 500 years.

So I think all of that comes together very well, today. And, of course, COVID restrictions have meant that it's a smaller service. But in a way, I think that's a good thing. The monarchy is a great thing, at the apex of society.

But I think, for the queen and for members of close family, who will be in that very small service, they will be in the position that millions of other people have had to endure this past year, of losing a very close member of the family during this time of restricted COVID conditions.

So it is small but the occasion is enormous. And it will be seen all over the world, as a spectacular example of public service, I think.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. You -- you've just referred to the -- the members of the family that will be there. And, of course, many eyes will be drawn to Princes William and Harry. This is the first time they have seen each other in over a year after the -- the very public rift.

Do you think this might be a chance to -- to mend their relationship?

ANSON: Well, of course, one always hopes on these family occasions, if there are tension or difficulties.

[04:25:00]

ANSON: It can help to heal them.

But I think, you know, the queen's focus will be, very much, on -- on the farewell to -- to her husband. And what I think for her children and grandchildren, they will, also, be equally and steadily focused on -- on remembering and cherishing the memories that they have of this extraordinary father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

And I think, widely, in our society and actually around the world, people will be celebrating and recalling with pleasure this degree of very public service of, you know, seven decades.

BRUNHUBER: Charles Anson in Brighton, England. Thank you so much for all your insights there. We really appreciate it.

ANSON: Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: And CNN special coverage begins at 8:00 am Eastern time, that's 1:00 pm in London.

Violence is erupting across the U.S. Mass shootings, police brutality and public outrage, we will talk about ways it might be stopped, coming up.

Plus, as Myanmar's military kills more civilians, deposed civilian leaders want to form their own army. Stay with us.

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(MUSIC PLAYING) BRUNHUBER: There have been 45 mass shootings in the U.S., in just the past month. President Biden is calling this tragic trend a national embarrassment.

[04:30:00]

BRUNHUBER: Meanwhile, protests in several cities have erupted over shootings and other violence by police. CNN's Tom Foreman looks at the stories that have emerged just this week alone about the violence that is rocking America.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eight people gunned down at their workplace.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEVI MILLER, FEDEX EMPLOYEE: I immediately ducked down.

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FOREMAN (voice-over): Stunned survivors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIMOTHY BILLET, FEDEX EMPLOYEE: More shots went off. Somebody went

behind their car to the trunk and got another gun and then I saw one body on the floor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired. Shot fired. Get an ambulance over here now.

KIM POTTER, FORMER BROOKLYN CENTER POLICE OFFICER: Holy (inaudible). I just shot him.

JOE GUTIERREZ, FORMER WINDSOR VIRGINIA POLICE OFFICER: What's going on? You're free to ride the lightning, son.

It's not a problem.

2ND LT. CARON NAZARIO, U.S. ARMY: Get your hands off of me.

GUTIERREZ: Back off, Daniel.

NAZARIO: I didn't do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN (voice-over): That was just the latest in a horrifying week of violent moments. So many that officials at all levels are cautioning against any excessive backlash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: There is absolutely no justification, none for looting, no justification for violence.

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POTTER: Taser. Taser. Taser.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN (voice-over): Many of the incidents have involved police. In Minnesota, the fatal shooting of an unarmed young man Daunte Wright right during a traffic stop, police say it was an accident, spurred a week of protest and some became violent.

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KATIE WRIGHT, DAUNTE WRIGHT'S MOTHER: Everybody keeps saying justice. But unfortunately, there's never going to be justice for us.

GEORGE FLOYD: I cannot breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

FLOYD: I cannot breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN (voice-over): Tension was already up around the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd by kneeling on his neck more than nine minutes. Derek Chauvin says he's not guilty. The jury has not spoken. Others have.

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MAYOR MIKE ELLIOT, BROOKLYN CENTER, MN: Our hearts are aching right now. We are in pain right now.

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FOREMAN (voice-over): In Chicago, another disturbing video emerged. A police officer chasing 13-year-old, Adam Toledo and shooting him dead. Police say the teen had a gun. The family says he did not when the officer shot him.

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ADEENA WEISS-ORTIZ, TOLEDO FAMILY ATTORNEY: If you're shooting an unarmed child with his hands in the air, it is an assassination.

GUTIERREZ: Get out. Get out of the car now. Get out of the car.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN (voice-over): In Virginia, a video from last December came out. Police pulling their guns, pepper spraying and forcing an army officer to the ground again for an alleged traffic violation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAZARIO: This is (inaudible) up. I can't (inaudible). I can't believe I'm being treated like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN (voice-over): And all that comes against a backdrop of other mass shootings in Colorado, Georgia and elsewhere, the political cold war in Washington and the pandemic which has taken well over a half million lives.

So the vice President's response to the Indiana killings could have covered it all.

"We've had more tragedy than we can bear."

FOREMAN: In normal times, any of these incidents might spur calls for new laws and new attitudes and change, calls, which typically don't lead to much. But in the past few weeks, the nation has been hurt so deeply, so many people, shocked and outraged, the potential for future change, in this case, is not, at all, clear -- Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

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BRUNHUBER: Mathew Littman is the executive director of 97Percent Gun Safety and joins me now from Los Angeles. He is also a Democratic strategist and former speechwriter for Senator Joe Biden.

So here we find ourselves, again, except, you know, looking at the big picture, it seems, even worse, if possible. According to the statistics, you know better than I do, the -- the Gun Violence Archive says this was the 147th mass shooting in America since January. By this time, last year, there were 83.

And since the spa shootings, here, in Atlanta, a month ago, there have been 45 mass shootings. It's just -- it's just incredible.

Is it more useful to start thinking about these types of gun deaths, as, you know, less as tragic and sensational outliers and more as a -- as a core public health issue?

MATHEW LITTMAN, 97PERCENT GUN SAFETY: Well, that's a great point. It is a public-health issue. And this year is going to be worse than last year. There is no question. Because last year, people didn't gather as much, in public. This year, they are.

So that's why you are seeing this big increase in these mass shootings. But also, at the same time, more people have guns in the United States. And what that may mean is that some people who shouldn't have guns do have them. And they are using them. And that is the situation we find ourselves in now.

BRUNHUBER: So to try and stop that -- I was struck by something in Indianapolis. A city council member told Anderson Cooper, in her state, it's easier to get a gun than the vaccine. On gun control, President Biden, your -- your former boss, said Congress has to do something.

Earlier this week, he was urging Democrats to go after the liability protections for gunmakers.

So first, for you, what would be the best-case scenario?

And second, I mean, how realistic would it be?

[04:35:00]

BRUNHUBER: Given that, you know, since all those shootings earlier this year, the Senate still hasn't sent a single measure to the floor on gun legislation?

LITTMAN: Very fair. They are going to send a measure to the floor. You know, it's interesting. The most popular legislation in the United States, in any area, is universal background checks, which is favored by 97 percent of the country.

A person could reasonably ask, if it is favored by that many people, why don't we have it?

Another thing that is very much favored by people in the United States -- and this includes gun owners and non-gun owners -- are red flag laws, which have even a better chance of probably getting through Congress. For example, they are supported by Lindsey Graham, the Republican, from South Carolina.

Now will they pass?

Well, that's the tough part. We are trying to get gun owners more involved. You know, as gun owners basically feel the same way as non- gun owners, they're just not heard as much.

So is it possible that it passes?

It's possible. But this is a very difficult road as it's been for a long time.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. I mean, the -- the political realities here, you say, you -- you want to get gun owners on board. But you know, when -- on the Republican side, anyway, the only message that they get, at least, in conservative media, is that -- that any measure, no matter how small, is basically they want to take your guns away.

And -- and Republicans are almost twice as likely to own guns as Democrats.

LITTMAN: So it's a good point. So the -- it -- it -- many people feel that it is a slippery slope, that they are taking away your guns and then, they are going to take away everything else about your life, right? That is the argument that often gets made. But that argument is really made by a very small amount of people, who are very vocal. Over 80 percent of gun owners, for example, favor universal background checks but you don't hear a lot about that.

But the truth is most gun owners want the same things as people who do not own a gun. There is no more -- legislation that is more favored than universal background checks in the United States.

However, the way that the Senate is set up is that some senators have a much bigger say than the population of their state should indicate, right?

So in other words, you could be from a small state. But your say is just as big as if you were from California. And you have an equal voice. And that's the way the system works. So unfortunately, the way that it works right now is that we are about at probably 55 senators favoring background checks.

You need 60 and we're not there right now, unless we get rid of the filibuster.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. And that looks increasingly less likely.

But even if Congress were to act, which -- which, given the past, seems unlikely, then, there are the courts, right?

With the current balance of power strongly favoring Republicans, chances are, the Supreme Court would be -- would be more supportive of Second Amendment challenges to gun laws, unless -- unless Democrats expand the court.

LITTMAN: Well, so, no one is talking about getting rid of the Second Amendment. That's not up for -- for -- up for grabs here. Most people are in favor of the Second Amendment.

But there is also just being smart about it, right?

We have driver's licenses. We have seat belt laws. We have all sorts of things. You don't want to get -- let somebody who is a criminal, for example, or has a violent history, have a gun. Most people are against that. So that's what we are talking about.

It's not a Second Amendment Issue. We believe in the Second Amendment. Most Americans believe in the Second Amendment. However, there are ways to be smart about this. If there were universal background checks, most people wouldn't even notice it in the places it exists.

It's favored by the people in those states. So I don't think that the courts would get very much involved in a background checks issue.

BRUNHUBER: All right. Well, let's certainly hope that something at least is done. We appreciate your time, Mathew Littman, thanks so much.

LITTMAN: OK. Thank you. BRUNHUBER: Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, months after they were

kicked out of office, in a military coup, Myanmar's elected leaders are forming a new, underground government. We will talk about how that'll work.

Plus, Monday will be a big moment for the vaccine rollout in the U.S. But a new COVID-19 case surge, already, may have started across much of the country. Stay with us.

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[04:40:00]

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BRUNHUBER: Several of Myanmar's ousted civilian leaders are forming a shadow government. They are calling it the National Unity Government and it stands in opposition to the military junta that stole power from elected leaders back in February.

Now, here they are. They are taking an oath of office online. They say they want to form their own army as well. Paula Hancocks is tracking these developments from Bangkok.

So Paula, what does this actually mean?

Take us through how this would work and what effect, if any, it might have on the situation there.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim, the last question, first.

Really, what impact does it have on the ground?

And -- and the reality is it will have very little impact, in the short term. It doesn't make any difference, to the military. It doesn't change the bloody crackdown that is going on within that country at the moment.

But what we have seen, certainly via social media, listening to -- to protesters and activists, they welcome the creation of this national unity government. So potentially, it could give hope to those who are fighting back against the military coup, which happened on February 1st.

So what we understand, at this point, is that some of the positions have been listed. We know that Aung San Suu Kyi, the ousted leader, will be state counselor. But of course, she is detained. We know that she is currently going through a -- a court case from the -- the military.

So it's very difficult to see how they can physically form. Most of the people who are named as -- as having significant positions are outside of the country. Others are within the ethnic areas. But the -- those that have formed this national unity government say

that the key, now, is to make sure that they can get international support and international recognition. We know that conversations have started, also, with the U.S. State Department. And certainly, that is what they are pushing for, now.

Let's listen to -- to one of the main people within this national- unity government, Dr. Sasa.

DR. SASA, MYANMAR UNITY GOVERNMENT MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION: We are democratically elected leaders of Myanmar, yes?

It's free and fair. Election was free and fair and it was democratic. So if the free and democratic world reject us, that means they reject democracy. It's very simple. That means they reject the people of Myanmar.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANCOCKS: There's also a plan to form a federal army using some of those armed groups in the ethnic areas, groups which have been fighting against each other for years. So while it all sounds very good in practice, the devil certainly could be in the detail. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely. All right. Thank you so much, Paula Hancocks, in Bangkok. Appreciate it.

[04:45:00]

BRUNHUBER: Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga said he had serious talks on China's influence with U.S. President Joe Biden. Mr. Suga is the first foreign leader to visit the Biden White House. The two leaders agreed to work together to respond to China's aggressive actions in the region.

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JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, Prime Minister Suga and I affirmed our ironclad support for U.S.-Japanese alliance and for our shared security.

We committed to working together to take on the challenges from China and on issues like the East China Sea, the South China Sea, as well as North Korea, to ensure a future of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: China's embassy, in Washington, criticized the meeting, saying, in part, the scheme of the U.S. and Japan will only end up hurting themselves.

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BRUNHUBER: Well, the U.S. has just hit a major COVID vaccine milestone. The CDC says more than 200 million doses have now been administered. And starting next Monday, every adult in America will be eligible to get one.

But, well, what about children?

CNN's Nick Watt has that part of the story, as well as the latest on the troubled Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: What I am most concerned about, the numbers which are most on my mind, are the rising cases and hospitalizations among those who are not vaccinated.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Average new daily cases up more than a quarter in just a month. Those more contagious variants now account for about half of new infections.

So?

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The administration is investing $1.7 billion, from the American Rescue Plan, in an effort to more effectively track emerging and circulating variants across the country and to better prepare the country for the next pandemic.

WATT (voice-over): Vax news: now nearing a quarter of the U.S. population fully vaccinated. Come Monday, every adult in America will be eligible. But no Johnson & Johnson shots for at least another week. A CDC committee will meet again next Friday, to weigh if benefits outweigh potential risk.

Reports of these blood clots after vaccination appear to be, literally, about one in a million.

And?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Putting this vaccine on pause for those of us that are front line health care workers has really been devastating.

WATT (voice-over): Meanwhile, Pfizer says this.

ALBERT BOURLA, PFIZER CEO: There will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and twelve months. And then, from there, there be an annual vaccination. But all of that needs to be configured.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: Ongoing, already, are clinical trials, looking at a boost of the original wild type virus vaccine, as well as a boost with a variant specific.

WATT (voice-over): Researchers also now testing the Pfizer vaccine on kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to give it to her right in her arm.

WATT (voice-over): On kids as young as 2.

The key?

What size of dose is best for little bodies?

WATT: Now two teams of doctors, one in the U.S., one in the U.K., say they are getting close to figuring out what is causing those rare blood clots seen after some AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. They say this will help to treat those clots whether they are linked to the vaccines or not.

And remember, there is no established connection so far. Here in the U.S., the Biden administration position is, listen, this temporary pause on Johnson & Johnson should, in fact, increase confidence in these vaccines because the safety system works. This should not increase vaccine hesitancy -- Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: Cuba is entering a new era after 60 years of Castro family rule. We'll look at the impact of brothers, Fidel and Raul, next. Stay with us.

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BRUNHUBER: It's the end of an era in Cuba. Raul Castro is stepping down as the head of the Communist Party there after 60 years of rule by himself and his late older brother, Fidel. Castro received a standing ovation at the party's Congress Friday as he endorsed the next generation of leaders. Our Patrick Oppmann takes a look at the six decades of Castro rule.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For over 60 years, there has always been a Castro at the helm of Cuba. In 1959, Fidel Castro's upstart revolution, suddenly, took power. Forcing U.S.-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista, to flee the island. At Castro's side, his most trusted deputy, younger brother, Raul, charged with turning the ragtag army into a disciplined military.

Alarmed by the Castros' leftist sympathies, in April 1961, the U.S. sent a CIA-trained army of exiled Cubans to take back the island. On the eve of the invasion, Fidel Castro declared Cuba to be a socialist state.

The Castros' forces met the exile army, as they landed in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, a name that would become synonymous with failure.

As Cuba's fledgling revolution, improbably, defeated the U.S.-backed troops. Cuba became an ally of the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro a permanent thorn in the side of nine U.S. presidential administrations.

Castro would be both president and head of the Communist Party in Cuba, the maximum leader, Cubans called him; a dictator, according to the U.S.

Then, in 2006, with Cuba's economy still struggling in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro fell mysteriously ill and nearly died. There was no clear transition plan, Cuban officials admit, but his brother and longtime enforcer, Raul Castro, was the obvious choice.

[04:55:00]

OPPMANN (voice-over): Two years later, as it became evident that Fidel Castro would never be able to return to power, Raul Castro took over, permanently, as president and first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party.

Castro said he would begin a transition to a new generation of leadership in Cuba, stepping down, after 10 years in office.

In 2018, he turned over running the day to day operations of the Cuban government, to his handpicked successor, Miguel Diaz-Canel. Now 60 years to the month after the Castros defeated the U.S.-backed forces at the Bay of Pigs, cementing their hold over Cuba, Raul Castro, 89, is stepping down as head of the party.

The rare revolutionary, who lived long enough to retire.

"After that, if my health permits it," he said in 2018, "I will be just one more soldier with the people, defending this revolution."

Cuba, without the Castros in power, looks pretty much the same, a destroyed economy, a one-party state, a still contentious relationship with the United States. But for Cubans, the end of an era has arrived -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I am Kim Brunhuber. I will be back in just a moment with more news, including Britain's monarchy as it prepares for the funeral of Prince Philip.