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Jury Resumes Deliberations in Derek Chauvin Murder Trial; U.S. Averaging 3 Million Shots a Day Despite J&J Pause. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired April 20, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto.
It is day two of deliberations now under way in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, jury considering three separate charges against the former officer in George Floyd's death. They could find guilty on all or none of them.
As those jurors weigh that decision behind closed doors, the country is preparing for the possibility of unrest including, of course, the twin cities where now more than 3,000 members of the Minnesota National Guard, in addition to police officers, are on alert.
HARLOW: Businesses taking steps, you see them boarding up. A lot of different businesses across the area.
For more on the jury deliberations, we're joined now by Civil Rights Attorney Areva Martin and former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman. Thank you both for being here very much.
Areva, I want to begin with a moment that you really thought was key yesterday in the closing arguments, and that came from the prosecutor, Steve Schleicher, when he talked about this being just about one officer, just about former Officer Chauvin, not being an anti-police prosecution. Here he was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTOR: Make no mistake, this is not a prosecution of the police. It is a prosecution of the defendant. And there is nothing worse for good police than a bad police.
This was not policing and he betrayed the badge and everything that stood for. It's not how they're trained. It's not following the rules. This is not an anti-police prosecution. It's a pro-police prosecution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Tell us why you thought that was so important. AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think it's important, Poppy, a couple reasons. One, during the process, when jurors were asked questions about their thoughts, their beliefs, and, you know, how they would be able to set aside any information that they may have learned about this trial, one of the questions had to do with their thoughts about police. And some of the jurors expressed a calmness (ph) for police and police departments.
So, one of the things the prosecution wanted to do is to make sure for those jurors, in particular, that they understood that this was not some, you know, broad scale indictment of policing in this country. This wasn't a case about the Minneapolis Police Department. But this was only about the actions of Derek Chauvin. And they wanted to keep the jurors focused on his actions so that there would be no doubt that they could convict him and that conviction not be somehow a statement about policing in this country.
And I think that was very important. It was brilliantly done. And, in fact, you heard the prosecutor say this isn't an anti-police prosecution, this is a pro-police prosecution. So I thought that was a really good point made by prosecution.
SCIUTTO: Harry Litman, as a former U.S. attorney, you've been inside a courtroom before. You heard judges' instructions before. Did you find it notable when not just the defense brought up the comments from Representative Maxine Waters regarding how the public should react to a verdict in this case, make it more confrontational, but the judge then saying that the defense attorney this might be the basis for a case for appeal.
In fact, let me just for the sake of members of audience that haven't seen that yet, play that moment, and get your reaction. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): We have got to stay on the street and we have got to get more active. We have got to get more confrontational. We have got to make sure that they know that we mean business.
JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA: I'll give you that Congresswoman Maxine Waters may have given something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.
I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Unusual for a judge to make a statement like that and give that recommendation in effect to the defense about something to use on appeal?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes. He was really steamed, wasn't he? Judges are used to being sovereigns in their own realm, and here comes this grenade from afar. [10:05:00]
Nevertheless, I think he was letting off steam, but if he wasn't giving a new idea to the defense, they were, in fact, at the very end after the arguments, kind of doing all the housekeeping possible motions. This would have occurred to the defense anyway. And I don't think notwithstanding the judge's peak that it's going to be a strong argument on appeal.
Remember going back to voir dire, these jurors were all questioned. Look, you know this is -- you lived through this in the community. Can you set it all aside? Can you set aside the responsibility on your shoulders for keeping peace in the community and just look at the facts and the law? They affirm they could. A stray statement like this, even if they hear it, shouldn't really sway them any more than they already are swayed. They're conscience of the consequences here and you have to assume as the law does that they follow the instructions of the court.
HARLOW: There is something, Areva, called the Blakely Waiver, and I want you to explain it to our viewers because it could matter here a lot if there is a guilty verdict on sentencing, because Chauvin has waived his right for the jury to weigh in on any aggravating factors that could increase the sentence beyond the guidelines. This is going to all be in the judge's hands if there is a guilty verdict. Why does that matter?
MARTIN: Well, you're right, Poppy. What that Blakely Waiver does is Derek Chauvin affirmed in open court to the judge that he was willing to waive and sign a waiver basically saying that the jurors will not get to decide if aggravating circumstances should be considered with respect to sentencing. He's going to allow the judge to be the sole determiner of any aggravating factors.
I think what was important yesterday outside of the narrow legal frame is that there is a consideration that's going to be made if there is a conviction in this case about aggravating circumstances that could enhance the charges or enhance the sentencing, I should say, with respect to Derek Chauvin. We already know that at this point the charge that's have been filed against him that the jury is deliberating on, the lowest charge, the manslaughter, carries ten years. That third-degree murder carries 25 years. And that second- degree carries 40 year sentence.
But we also know in the state of Minnesota, there's only been one police officer that has been convicted of third-degree murder facing that 25 years. And I think the judge in that case gave him about a 10 to 12-year sentence. So there is not a history here of police officers facing long sentences like what we -- like the possibility in this case. So very interesting to see what will happen if there is a conviction and what the sentencing phase will look like of this trial.
SCIUTTO: Harry Litman, Paul Callan, also a former prosecutor and CNN Legal Analyst, he made the point yesterday that when the prosecution said to the jury in the closing arguments, go with your gut, in effect here. And what you saw on that video is just as it appeared, right, and out of that phrase, go with your guts. He said it from a prosecutor standpoint. That was actually a mistake, that the prosecutor should have stayed laser focused on the evidence and tell the jury to do so. I wonder if you share his criticism.
LITMAN: Well, look, you know, four trial lawyers, five opinions. But I don't for this reason. They chose a theme at opening and they stuck to it methodically and with discipline. And what was the theme, you can believe your eyes. And why does it matter at the end, because there is a lot of muddle and scientific evidence about causation.
And their one of the few cards remaining to the defense is to try to make one juror believe maybe it was something else. What is the best answer to that common sense-wise? Nine minutes and 29 seconds of a knee on the neck. It has to be only a substantial factor. If you look at that and believe your eyes, you cannot conclude that it wasn't a substantial factor.
They handled the evidence as well, but what was good about that is they resounded the theme they had already chosen. I thought it was effective.
SCIUTTO: All right. Harry Litman, Areva Martin, thanks so much to both of you.
LITMAN: Thanks. Thanks, Areva.
SCIUTTO: And let's take you now live outside the courthouse in Minneapolis where our Sara Sidner is there. Tell us what more you know about today's deliberations, where the jury is, what it is up to, exactly.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are outside the court. To my left is one of the places that is boarded up, like many places here downtown and around the city. People have put their messages to the world on this particular blackboard. And we know that the jury is deliberating. They've been deliberating since 8:00 local time, 9:00 your time. They deliberated for four hours yesterday from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. when they went down, went to bed.
We are not being told where the jury is deliberating, whether it is in the court or somewhere else. And I'm sure that is for safety reasons. But we do know that the jury is sequestered. This is the first time they have been sequestered. The judge told them, he said, look, pack for a long stint in sequestration, but it could be a short stint. But he said, make sure that you pack for a long stint just in case this takes you quite some time.
And so that gave the jury the ability to understand that this may take a while. It could take an hour. It could take days. It could even take weeks. But, generally speaking, everyone is sort of on tinder hooks here, to be fair, waiting to see if there is going to be a question, for example, from the jury and wondering when they are going to come to their decision. Now, we should listen to the closing arguments, because those are important. It's the last thing the jury hears and then the judge will give them their instructions. Let's listen a little to the closing arguments and somewhat was said by both attorneys in this case as Derek Chauvin faces murder charges and a manslaughter charge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHLEICHER: You can believe your eyes. It's exactly what you believe. It's exactly what you saw with your eyes. It's exactly what you knew. It's what you felt in your gut. It's what you now know in your heart. This wasn't policing. This was murder.
ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: All of the evidence shows that Mr. Chauvin thought he was following his training. He was in fact following his training. He was following Minneapolis Police Department policies. He was trained this way. It all demonstration a lack of intention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: So you heard some of the arguments from the prosecution and from the defense.
I'm taking you inside this area right next to the court. Let's just give you a look. I mean, the security increased, as you might imagine. You see those huge fences. You also, if you turn to your right, Albert is taking the pictures here, you turn to your right, this has been here for quite some time. But you'll notice a lot of bits and pieces here. You see that razor wire there. There is barbed wire at the top to keep people from coming anywhere near this building. And we do know that it will be evacuated at some point when the jury comes to its decision.
There have been posters in all manner of things that have been put up here over time and taken down every day and they go right back up. And there have been protests. The protests so far have been peaceful. There have been, you know, dozens and dozens of people that have gone to George Floyd Square, which is about three or four miles from here. And then there have been protests down here just yesterday. We saw quite a large protest right outside of the court that went around the street. It was peaceful.
The worry is that will change depending on what the jury decides in this case. Jim and Poppy?
HARLOW: Sara, thank you so much for being there throughout all of this as we wait for the jury to make a decision.
Okay, still ahead, President Biden speaks with the brother of George Floyd, that happened yesterday. What did he tell him as we wait for a verdict?
SCIUTTO: And the CDC is wiping away what we thought we knew about disinfecting surfaces to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Up next, we're going to tell you why scrubbing everything down should not be your biggest concern anymore.
HARLOW: So, despite the pause in the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, 212 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in total across all three different kinds of vaccines in the U.S., the country still averaging about 3 million of them a day.
SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, it's well above expectations. And we should take that good news. According to the CDC, 132 million Americans have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 85 million people are now fully vaccinated. That's a quarter of the country. But is the race against variants being one?
CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.
Sanjay, good to have you back. A lot of talk about this B117 variant, the U.K. variant. We know the vaccine is effective against it, significantly effective. Is that efficacy helping to control the spread of it in other countries to give us a sense of how it might spread here?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. No, I think there is some good news here. I mean, obviously, when you look at these trajectories in other countries, there are lots of things that are sort of coming into play here. But let me show you this one graphic. We've been paying a lot of attention to Israel lately sort of following their vaccination program, obviously, a much smaller country.
But you bring up the U.K. variant, and so let's look at the United Kingdom. They're in blue there. And take a look. I mean, it is a pretty significant drop in terms -- this is death rates per million people, really, both those place approaching zero. Vaccination has a lot to do with it. It's not the only thing, to be clear, but you can see in places as they have increased vaccination pretty predictably, you do see these death rates start to come down.
I should point out, even if casesmay either be plateauing, new cases plateauing or going up, death rates still coming down a lot of these places, because, as you mentioned, the vaccine is so effective against the circulating coronavirus and the variants as well.
HARLOW: Sanjay, you know, I think we all wondered when the J&J news of the pause broke last week.
What's this going to mean? Will it contribute to vaccine hesitancy? And the initial polling shows it hasn't, which is great. I mean, there is new polling from Axios and Ipsos that a majority of the American public think the pause is responsible and it's not shown on this screen but -- and it's not scaring people away from the other people away from the other vaccines. GUPTA: Yes, I think this really important data here. I mean, first of all, the graphic you have on the screen there, 88 percent, that was across Republicans and Democrats, young and old. People -- this was a trust issue, to some extent. Did you think that they made the right decision in doing this pause? And as you point out, almost nine out of ten people did. That is really important.
It hasn't changed the hesitation issue really in terms of numbers. They're still high. They haven't gone up. But they're still high, around 20 percent or so of people who say they're simply not planning on getting this vaccine. Hopefully that number come down.
And, you know, we'll see what happens with J&J this week if it that has any influence on it. We're likely to hear this week and probably will hear some variant of J&J is kind of comeback but maybe not for certain populations of people who may be more at risk.
But that's -- I think, overall, the trust issue here was what I really took away from this polling.
SCIUTTO: It's interesting because that was the FDA's argument to do this pause, right, was that you had to do it to show you're on top of things like this and to increase confidence. It's interesting if that pour out (ph).
All right, so we've wiping everything down for the last year and a couple months now to disinfect. But now the CDC says the actual risk of transmission of COVID-19 via surfaces is very low. I mean, basic question to you is does that mean we should stop and what does it mean about -- I mean hand washing though, I imagine, is still an important thing.
GUPTA: Yes. No, so, you know, it took a year. I mean, you sort of saw how science proceeds here, sometimes slowly, but, you know, really understanding how does this virus transmit. Is it going to behave more like the norovirus, pre-pandemic cruise ship sort of virus that would spread easily on surfaces or even other cold viruses, which spread easily on surfaces.
In the beginning, I think there was a lot of caution. We don't know how this transmits fully. Now we know it does not seem to transmit very well on surfaces. If you were living in a household and somebody has known COVID-19 in that household, probably still a good idea to be disinfecting surfaces. But other than that, really not much utility is what the CDC is saying.
Also worth pointing out if you can keep this image in your head, the virus itself is sort of encased by fat. If you think about like a fatty frying pan, you're and trying to clean it, you wouldn't use a Clorox wipe, you would probably use soap and water. Think about that same concept when it comes to your hands. So washing your hands with soap and water, that's really going to be your best bet.
Surfaces were never really the specific problem. It was touching the surface then touching your eyes, nose and your mouth. If your hands are clean, then it will help you with this, but also flu and other cold viruses and other viruses, in general.
HARLOW: So, Sanjay, none of us have had very many opportunities to smile over the last year, especially you. You've been with us by our side through this crazy year almost year-and-a-half of COVID and so much else. But we have something special to show our viewers.
So let's roll the tape in the control room. This is -- drum roll -- Sanjay. That is you with your amazing hair and everything on your first day on CNN 20 years ago and we are grateful for you. Right, Jim?
SCIUTTO: Well, Sanjay, first of all, you were a sophomore in high school or something at that point based on how you look. Second of all, Poppy, I'm going to show up with that hair tomorrow on the air just so you know.
HARLOW: Sciutto? No, because he has great hair. Sciutto has exceptional hair. Sanjay, you still have all your hair and it's still exceptional.
GUPTA: i couldn't afford a haircut back then. I just let it grow out. But I think I still have that same tie. I just noticing the tie there. I still have that same tie. I'll wear it one of these days. Thank you, yes, 20 years.
HARLOW: What a ride.
GUPTA: It flies by, guys. You know, I'll say, you know, it's amazing. We all have kids and it was likening this to my girls this morning. And the one day they're born and the next day they're looking at colleges, it seems. And in a blink of an eye, I feel like this career has been that way. Loved it, love working with you guys, I've always loved journalists long before I was privileged to become one. And, you know, I love it even more now. So thank you. Thank you for showing the hair. I appreciate it.
SCIUTTO: We thank you. I'm sure a lot of viewers thank you too to have you around for these last 14 months some odd months of this pandemic has been invaluable.
HARLOW: Don't go anywhere.
GUPTA: Thank you.
HARLOW: Sign another 20-year contract.
GUPTA: I'll be here.
HARLOW: All right, thank you, Sanjay, so much.
All right, well, the White House is, we know, closely monitoring the trial of Derek Chauvin, this as the president actually spoke with George Floyd's brother yesterday.
What did he say, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HAROW: Welcome back. The jury in the Derek Chauvin murder trial is right now in its second day of deliberations. But it is not just the city of Minneapolis waiting for the verdict. It's the country and it's really the world, Jim.
SCIUTTO: No question, lots of eyes watching us, including the president paying close attention.
CNN's Adrienne Broaddus, she is in Minneapolis. Tell us, Adrienne, what is the feeling there? We've been reporting a lot.