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Poll: Americans Easing Up on COVID Mitigation Measures; CDC New Guidance Says Surfaces Are Not Big Risk for Spreading COVID; Polls Show Reluctance Among Republicans to Get Vaccine; Facebook Will Remove Chauvin Verdict Content that Violates Community Standards; Video Plays Key Role in Chauvin Murder Trial; Outrage over Waters Protest Rhetoric Exposes GOP Hypocrisy; Pelosi Defends Rep. Waters, Says She Shouldn't Apologize; Putin Critic Navalny Hospitalized & Held in Solitary Confinement Amid Hunger Strike. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 20, 2021 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:30:00]

DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST The only thing they didn't do is they didn't have the menu in a virtual sort of form so we did have to handle, you know, the menus.

But I think it is relatively safe if you're vaccinated.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You know, that's perfect for my next question, because the CDC just put out this new guidance saying surfaces, those menus you're touching, are not the big risk for spreading coronavirus.

How significant is that?

RODRIGUEZ: Well, that is significant because I think people were sometimes overdoing what they were spraying.

And, again, this does not mean that science is wrong. This means that we are learning as we go along.

Where you really need to pay attention is if you don't know the person, for example, who you're with that's touching something, clean that. If someone in your household is sick, clean the surfaces.

But otherwise, cleaning every package that arrives to your house is probably not necessary.

CABRERA: And, of course, we still got to keep washing our hands. That hasn't gone away.

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely.

CABRERA: The White House is trying this media blitz this week to help combat vaccine hesitancy. But we know a lot of the polls have shown a large number of Republicans are among those who don't want to get vaccinated. How do you think the Biden administration can break through with that

group?

RODRIGUEZ: I think the first thing we need to do is not continue to separate people into our political beliefs. That's served us very poorly in the last administration.

But what people need to know is that the vaccine doesn't care if you're Republican or a Democrat.

Right now, the people that are in greatest danger of contracting the virus are the people that have not been vaccinated.

Because guess what? The virus can't infect those people that have been vaccinated. Guess who is left for them to vaccinate?

There are bigger variants that are more contagious. And the right thing is -- and the picking is right for those that are not vaccinated.

So if you're not vaccinated, you're at greatest risk right now.

CABRERA: I spoke to a doctor in Michigan just a few days ago who talked about how it's the younger demographic that is showing up more and more in the hospital with very serious infections.

Again, proof that even those lower-risk groups aren't completely, you know --

RODRIGUEZ: Immune.

CABRERA: -- invisible or immune to this.

I also have to ask about, you know, children, because clearly children are a big part of the population. But they haven't been, you know, eligible for vaccines at this point unless you're 16 and older.

Do you think children will need to be vaccinated before we reach herd immunity?

RODRIGUEZ: I do. I absolutely do.

I think that children, you know, have been spared the brunt of this because there have been probably more feeble people in the population.

But I think almost every expert realizes that we need to -- you know, to vaccinate the whole population.

And we are seeing younger people, children, getting more diseases, more illnesses due to COVID. So, yes, I do think the children are going to need to be vaccinated.

CABRERA: Dr. Fauci said this weekend he's hoping, by 2022, at the latest, early 2022, is when children will be getting those vaccines.

Thank you so much, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez. Appreciate it. RODRIGUEZ: My pleasure.

CABRERA: Today, the country is paying tribute to former Vice President Walter Mondale who died at the age of 93.

Known as Fritz, Mondale was the son of a Methodist minister and a music teacher. He was Minnesota's attorney general and served 12 years in the Senate.

He was elected vice president alongside Jimmy Carter, who honored his vice president overnight, saying in a statement:

"During our administration, Fritz used his political skill and personal integrity to transform the vice presidency into a dynamic policy driving force that had never been seen before, and still exists today."

In 1984, Mondale won the Democratic presidential nomination. He made history by being the first presidential nominee to name a woman, Geraldine Ferrero, as his running mate.

Facebook set to crack down on any content that could fuel violence after the Chauvin verdict. More on that.

And this. Republicans outraged over Congresswoman Maxine Waters' call for protesters to, quote, "get more confrontational," if Derek Chauvin is acquitted.

[13:34:00]

But where was this outrage after former President Trump's calls to, quote, "fight like hell," on the day of the insurrection?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Welcome back.

As the nation waits for the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, Facebook is labeling Minneapolis a temporary high-risk location and taking action.

The social media giant says it will remove any posts that may contain misinformation or hate speech related to the trial and could lead to civil unrest or violence.

Brian Stelter, CNN's chief media correspondent and anchor of "RELIABLE SOURCES" on CNN, is with us now.

Brian, what more are you learning about why Facebook is taking action?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Well, certainly, Facebook is wary of being blamed. They're fearful that they will partly be at fault if there's unrest in the coming days.

The company saying it's taking this action in a number of ways. Here's the statement from Facebook executive, Monika Bickert:

Saying, "We know this trial has been painful for many people and we want to strike a balance between allowing people to speak about the trial and what the verdict means while doing our part to protect everyone's safety."

They say, "We will allow people to discuss and critique and criticize the trial."

But here's one of the examples of what Facebook is doing, Ana. Any calls to bring arms, to bring weapons to Minneapolis, for example, will be removed by Facebook.

[13:40:04]

So this does show you that when Facebook believes something is deserving of more attention, they take action. They try to clean up the poison on their platform.

That begs the question": Why don't they take these actions more often?

But they did this around the election. They've done this around the pandemic. And now they're identifying Minneapolis and the verdict as another area of real focus by the company.

CABRERA: It does seem like they're starting to do more of it and taking more actions.

There have been a number of legal analysts and experts saying the video has been the star witness in this trial.

If not for the video, Brian, not only the bystander video but also police body cam, the dash cam, surveillance videos, I just wonder if he'd be here.

What kind of impact do you think video has had in this country's racial reckoning and conversation around policing?

STELTER: They will be studied in college cases for decades to come. The idea that now, thanks to video in your pocket, and on the surveillance cameras and body cameras, death is witnessed at all angles.

And these incidents, these tragedies become nationalized and internationalized.

Whereas before, this might have been a story only in Minneapolis, now the whole world knows the names George Floyd and Derek Chauvin. Video is the absolute "X" factor.

But I think, Ana, it's also important to recognize as we head into the verdict, whenever that may be, the media coverage of this story reflects the polarized nature of this country.

FOX News, for example, paid a lot less attention to the trial than CNN or MSNBC or other channels did.

Some people may be surprised by certain verdicts if they weren't paying attention or if they only heard the side of the story that they wanted to hear.

It's very much a red-news/blue-news situation -- Ana?

CABRERA: That's a good point.

Brian Stelter, thank you, my friend.

STELTER: Thanks.

CABRERA: Republicans slamming Congresswoman Maxine Waters for calling on protesters to get more confrontational if they don't like the outcome of the Derek Chauvin murder trial.

House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, called these comments "dangerous." He says he'll introduce a resolution to censure Waters.

Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, also jumped in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNEL (R-KY): It's harder to image anything more inappropriate than a member of Congress flying in from California to inform local leaders, not so subtly, that this defendant had better be found guilty or else there will be big trouble in the streets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Waters claims she was not calling for violence, that her words were intended in the spirit of the civil rights movement.

But this kind of rhetoric has come from the other side of the aisle as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Let's have trial by combat.

DONALD TRUMP JR, SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: If you're going to be the zero and not the hero, we're coming for you.

ERIC TRUMP, SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: Have some backbone. Show some fight. Learn from Donald Trump.

We need to march on the capitol today.

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: That was Republican Congressman Mo Brooks at the end there. But no GOP calls for his censure.

CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is with us now.

Gloria, of course, all political leaders on both sides of the aisle should choose their words carefully.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.

CABRERA: And we're learning now Kevin McCarthy is planning to bring this censure resolution to the floor today. But there's some hypocrisy here.

BORGER: Hypocrisy on Capitol Hill? Come on. You're kidding me, right?

(LAUGHTER)

BORGER: People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

And I would argue that, in this case, if the Republicans wanted to start talking about Maxine Waters, they should have dealt with their own problems first.

That is some of the things you've shown up there, Congressman Brooks, for example, Marjorie Taylor Greene, even the former president of the United States. But they have not done that.

So what they're doing is really very transparent. They're trying to take the focus off their own problems and trying to shove it onto the Democrats.

CABRERA: Let's just look at it from the other side here for a moment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN that Congresswoman Waters should not apologize for her comments. And accused Republicans of twisting her words.

Is that a missed opportunity to try to turn down the temperature?

BORGER: Look, I think everybody ought to try and turn down the temperature in whatever way you can.

But what Nancy Pelosi was not about to do was to play into the hands of the Republicans. Because she knows what's been going on across the aisle.

And this is Congress. This is about heat, not light at this point.

And Nancy Pelosi, if she had said that, if she had chastised Maxine Waters -- and quite frankly, she didn't believe the language demanded it, and that is her opinion -- she would have played right into their hands.

[13:45:05]

And, you know, they've got -- they've got their own problems. And what they're trying to do is just jump at anything across the aisle. So they can point at them and say, look, look, look, they're -- they're doing it, too, they're terrible.

And that is why you see Mitch McConnell taking to the floor of the Senate. This is all about changing the subject.

CABRERA: I want to shift to former President George W. Bush. He's been speaking out. He had a new interview today.

Here's his response when asked what he thought about the current state of the Republican Party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HODA KOTB, NBC HOST, "TODAY" SHOW: If you were to describe the Republican Party as you see it today --

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.

KOTB: -- how would you describe it?

BUSH: I would describe it as isolationist, protectionist and, to a certain extent, nativist.

KOTB: Are you disappointed?

BUSH: Well, it's not exactly my vision.

KOTB: Yes.

BUSH: But I'm just an old guy they put out to pasture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: "Isolationist, protectionist, nativist."

BORGER: Right.

CABRERA: What did you make of those comments?

BORGER: I thought, first of all, it was remarkable because he has tried not to comment on politics during the entire tenure of the Trump administration, Obama administration. He's really tried to stay out of it.

It's clear, with the publication of his portraits of immigrants that immigration is an issue he cares deeply about.

And he's written that it was one issue he really was sad that he could not handle when he was president of the United States, that he failed on that issue.

He ran for president on what he called "compassionate conservatism." What you see now in the Republican Party is not compassionate conservatism.

And I think he's at a point where he's got to be really honest about that and say, as he did, that's not my vision.

The next step is that shouldn't be the vision for the future of the Republican Party.

But he backed away from that a little bit saying, you know what, I'm the old guy around here, I'm not president anymore, so he didn't kind of take that final step.

But you know clearly where he stands on this.

CABRERA: Gloria Borger, I appreciate the conversation. Thank you.

BORGER: Good to see you here.

CABRERA: Yes, likewise. Thank you for joining me.

One of Putin's biggest critics is reportedly fading fast. He's suffering in solitary confinement. This is according to the lawyer of Alexei Navalny, who is now calling for new protests across Russia. We're live in Moscow.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:51:55]

CABRERA: Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, is weeks now into a hunger strike. His lawyer says he is being held in solitary confinement in a prison hospital.

And now his team is calling for mass protests across Russia on the same day President Putin plans to deliver his State of the Nation address.

CNN's Sam Kiley has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cries of pain caused by poisoning.

(MOANING)

KILEY: An attempt to silence Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, permanently. It failed.

Today, he languishes in a penal colony hospital in his homeland. Again, his staff say close to death. Others must now speak for him.

YAROSLAV ASHIKMIN, DOCTOR & NAVALNY ALLY: We see that a big fragile patient with an extremely high pain syndrome, with deterioration of leg and arm function, with extremely elevated levels of potassium, that might cause fatal arrhythmia or fatal heart block.

KILEY: Twenty days into a hunger strike over his demands of independent medical attention, the international protests of his failing health have been led by the U.S.

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We have communicated to the Russian government that what happens to Mr. Navalny in their custody is their responsibility and they will be held accountable by the international community.

KILEY: Barely recovered from the nerve agent attack that nearly killed him, Navalny returned to Russia from Germany in January, where he was detained for violating the terms of his probation, in a years old fraud case, which he said, was politically motivated.

Then, predictably, sentenced and imprisoned.

Is there an element here that he is seeking martyrdom?

LEONID VOLKOV, ALEXIE NAVALNY'S CHIEF OF STAFF: No, of course, not. He is just doing what he has to do, because he had to return because he didn't know anything wrong.

He was not given the medical treatment. He used the hunger strike route as a last resort but still as a legitimate political instrument, a legitimate tool of the political fight.

KILEY (voice-over): Breaking down the walls of political power around the Kremlin will take much more.

KILEY: Any hopes that Alexei Navalny might have displacing Vladimir Putin from that building behind me remain pretty remote.

Approval ratings for him are at 19 percent. For Putin, they are about 64 percent.

There are also concerns within his movement that efforts being made here in Moscow to prescribe it as an extremist organization could snuff it out completely.

KILEY(voice-over): Meanwhile, the pro-democracy movement plans mass demonstrations on Wednesday against Putin and in support of Navalny, a man that the Kremlin is keen to dismiss as insignificant.

ANDREI KELIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.K.: He believes like a hooligan, absolutely. He's trying to violate every rule that has been established. His political purpose in all of that is to attract attention.

[13:55:05]

KILEY: Whatever the outcomes for Navalny and his movement inside Russia, beyond its borders, it's the next moves of Vladimir Putin that will receive the most attention.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KILEY: Ana, the Russian government has moved inevitably to try to close down that demonstration that's scheduled for tomorrow evening, local time, after work.

But people are being told that they shouldn't turn up, that they would be risking arrest. The police are going to be deployed early on in the day.

And of course, a lot of focus being generated on TV here around his State of the Nation address.

And I should also add that Mr. Navalny has been posting on Instagram that he is, at the moment, walking around his cell -- Ana?

CABRERA: Navalny's strength and courage is just amazing.

Thank you so much for your reporting, Sam Kiley.

And thank you all for joining me today. I'll see you back here tomorrow at 1:00 Eastern. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter. @AnaCabrera.

NEWSROOM continues next with Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell.

Have a great day.

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