Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Reauthorizes Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Distribution after Pause; Police Refuse to Release Body Camera Footage of Shooting of Black Man in North Carolina; Police Defend Shooting of 16-Year-Old Ma'Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, as She Was Wielding Knife at Time of Shooting; President Biden Will Reportedly Recognize 1915 Massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Empire, Modern Day Turkey, as Genocide; Attorney Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging Florida's New Anti-Riot Law; San Francisco Giants Open Section in Stadium for Fully Vaccinated Fans to Sit Together; Man Reveals His Participation in January 6th Capitol Insurrection on Dating App. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 24, 2021 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:11]

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It is Saturday, April 24th. We're glad to see you. I'm Christi Paul.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Boris Sanchez. You are live in the CNN Newsroom. Grateful that you're with us. Always great to see you, even from afar, Christi.

PAUL: I know. I know. One of these days, Boris. One of these days.

SANCHEZ: One of these days. One of these days.

Well, Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine is rejoining the race to vaccinate the United States. The single-dose vaccine will now come with a safety warning, though, noting there is a rare, rare risk of developing blood clots.

PAUL: Now, after a 10-day pause, CDC advisers decided the benefits outweigh the danger for people 18 and older. One vaccine expert praised the decision as, quote, the CDC at its best, and a lesson in understanding relative risk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: For example, if you take the risk of a severe blood clot in a young woman, who is probably the highest risk, it's no greater than one in 80,000. So if you're at the University of Michigan stadium and you're sitting there among 80,000 people and a helicopter drops out a ping-pong ball, what's your chance of being hit, one person hit by the ping-pong ball. I think it would help to understand relative risk. Whereas the virus is common.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is outside a museum turned vaccination site in New York City. Evan, the CDC director says there's now a need for, quote, extraordinary outreach to educate people about now that the J&J shots are back on the market. There's also apparently a need to incentivize people to get their vaccines, as you're seeing for yourself.

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Boris. Starting with the incentivizing, here in New York if you come and get vaccinated, you can walk into this museum, the Natural History Museum behind me. You get four free passes to come to the museum later on after you get your shot. So another incentive to come and get your shot.

On to the CDC stuff, what the CDC is worried about is that this Johnson & Johnson issue may end up causing more of the vaccine hesitation than we're already starting to see. So when they went over this careful, looking back at this vaccine to figure out if they're going to release this pause, they said that they found that it just wasn't dangerous enough to keep it under wraps.

And I want to show you one of the other graphic that they put forward about the risks and benefits of this vaccine by age group. You can see there's been about 8 million of these vaccines that have been administered before the pause, and there are only about 15 cases of these blood clots that we heard about. And then only three people from those group died. So looking at the numbers from the CDC, they went through and they found of every million doses, a lot more benefits than dangers. So they're saying that that is a worthwhile thing to put out there.

But on the other hand, you're looking at a situation where overall we're seeing vaccine take rate go down. I want to show you this graphic about the average, seven-day moving average of vaccines. You can see that it's been above 3 million recently for quite a while now, which is very, very good, amazing to think about when you think about how the vaccine was at the beginning of the vaccination process. But you can see that slight dip on the back end, and that's what people are worried about. Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke recently, she's the head of the CDC, about how important it is for people to go out and get their vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: In addition to over 65 percent of Americans over the age of 65 being vaccinated, this is also the week we hit 200 million vaccines in less than 100 days, and a week when all Americans age 16 and older are eligible for vaccination. I encourage all younger people to follow the example of older Americans and to get vaccinated. And regardless of your age, please be an ambassador for your neighbors and loved ones by encouraging and assisting them to get vaccinated themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, the bottom line from health officials is that you have a lot of choices in vaccines right now. You have the Johnson & Johnson, that's a one-shot vaccine, the CDC said it's safe. You have plenty of supply of the Moderna and Pfizer, two-shot vaccines, and you can get those basically anywhere you want to, including here, if you want to walk in and get four passes to go to the museum. So, Boris and Christi, experts are saying the vaccine is out there, and now it's time for people to step up and get it.

PAUL: Evan McMorris-Santoro, good to see you this morning. Thank you, Evan.

CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen is with us now. We have to let you know, she was actually vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine about a week before the pause, and before that she participated in their trial where she got a placebo. So, Dr. Wen, it's so good to have you with us here. I wanted to ask you, since you're in this unique position where you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, had those warnings that we're seeing now being part of the protocol been out when you received it, would you still have gotten it?

[10:05:03]

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: That's a great question, Christi. And here's the thing. I do believe that lifting the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was the right call. I think the initial pause was the right call, I think lifting the pause after the investigation was the right thing to do, because there are extraordinary benefits of this vaccine as compared to the very minimal risks.

However, the risks are actually concentrated in one group, and that appears to be women between the ages of 18 to 50, which is a group that I am a part of. And by the way, we're not just talking about blood clots. I think people should really stop talking about the link of blood clots and oral contraceptives, because we're not talking about run-of-the-mill blood clots. We're talking about a very, very rare and very serious clotting condition where 12 of the women have suffered clots in their brains, where three of the women involved have died, seven remain hospitalized, four are in critical condition. They also have low platelets, making it difficult to treat. And so we're talking about something very specific.

If Johnson & Johnson were the only vaccine available to me, I absolutely would have chosen it. But since there are two other vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, that do not carry this very small risk, I don't think I would have chosen to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine myself knowing that risk. And I wish that the CDC and the FDA had gone further in their discussions yesterday to explicitly put a warning for women under the age of 50 to say, if it is available to you, consider choosing one of the other vaccines that do not carry this particular risk.

PAUL: Do you think that this, at all, this question -- because it's been going on for 10 days with this pause, do you think that might be contributing to some of the vaccine hesitancy we think we're seeing right now? Can you give us some clarity on that? WEN: It's certainly possible, and I hope that people will take away

from all the deliberations that safety is the key. And this is the reason why the vaccination effort for this vaccine was paused, and I really hope that people do not confuse the vaccines, because the very rare blood clotting disorder associated with Johnson & Johnson is not seen at all in Pfizer or Moderna, and in fact, over 100 million people have received those vaccines without an adverse safety signal. And so, Johnson & Johnson, by the way, still has extraordinary benefit, because it is a one-dose vaccine. Certainly, even for women under the age of 50 who want a one-dose vaccine, who otherwise may not get another vaccine, I absolutely think they should choose this vaccine.

And so, I think our messaging needs to be nuanced and needs to be clear, but we also have to value patient autonomy and explain to people, including young women, that they have other choices.

PAUL: So I want to ask you about something that Dr. Robert Frank, who is leading the Pfizer/Moderna trial in kids said during this meeting as well, he said it's possible we could see 12 to 15 year-olds having access to the vaccine sometime next month. That is quick when you think about it. I think there are parents out there who have some skepticism about getting a 12 to 15-year-old, or 15 and under at all vaccinated. What is your thought process on children getting vaccinated at this point? Is it necessary?

WEN: It definitely is necessary for two reasons. First is that we don't want our children to not have the protective effect of these really extraordinary vaccines. And so far, the trial done in Pfizer, Pfizer for the 12 to 15-year-old group show that it's very safe and 100 percent effective. So, I absolutely want our children to benefit from a vaccine like that. I have two young kids. I can't wait for them to be able to be vaccinated.

The other reason is it's going to be difficult, if not impossible, for us to reach herd immunity unless our children are also vaccinated.

PAUL: I was going to ask about herd immunity next and you beat me to it. Dr. Leana Wen, we appreciate you being here. Thank you, ma'am.

WEN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: A series of high-profile police shootings are increasing pressure on lawmakers in Washington to move forward on police reform legislation. Sixteen-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant was shot in Ohio Tuesday, about 30 minutes before the verdict was delivered in the Chauvin murder trial. And the next day sheriff's deputies in North Carolina shot and killed Andrew Black (ph) as they were attempting to serve him an arrest warrant.

PAUL: The George Floyd Justice and Policing Act passed the House last month. It's yet to be taken up in the Senate. The measure would, among other things, ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and would overhaul qualified immunity.

SANCHEZ: We have team coverage on the issue. CNN's Athena Jones is standing by in Columbus, Ohio. But we start with Natasha Chen in North Carolina. Natasha, the shooting of Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City is raising concerns about transparency because the state officers say they are not releasing video of the incident.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris and Christi, unlike some other police use of force cases, in this particular case the body camera footage has not been released, and that's something that the family of Andrew Brown Jr., as well as the public, is now calling for.

[10:10:07]

They really want to see more transparency in this case. In fact, the family was hoping that they would be able to see the body camera footage yesterday when they met with Sheriff Tommy Wooten of Pasquotank County here. They were disappointed to find that they could not see that video yesterday. Sheriff Wooten did speak to the media briefly yesterday, explaining that he was really trying to protect the integrity of the investigation, saying that to release that requires an official request and that he's waiting on the district attorney's office. Here's what he said about the bodycam footage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF TOMMY WOOTEN II, PASQUOTANK COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: I want what the people of this county want, and I tell everybody, I wasn't elected sheriff to sit on a pedestal and think I'm God. No, that's not Tommy Wooten. I'm not that guy. I want what the citizens of this county want. On the law enforcement side, I am trying to let the investigation unfold.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: The city council last night made the formal request to have the body camera footage released, and so the sheriff's office now has a few days to respond to that. Sheriff Wooten also talked about the reason the deputies were there on Wednesday, that they were apparently trying to execute a couple of warrants, a search warrant and a felony arrest warrant, and these were issued by an alcohol and drug task force. The chief deputy of the office also said in a Facebook video that Brown had a history of resisting arrest. And based on court records obtained by CNN, Brown had been previously charged with resisting arrest, and some of those charges were later dismissed.

Now we have seven deputies who were involved in this incident on administrative leave, two others have resigned, a third has retired. And in just a little bit, within the hour behind us, we are expecting to hear from city officials to speak more on this case that has really gotten more and more concern out of the public, especially as the body camera footage has not been released several days after the incident.

Christi and Boris, back to you.

PAUL: Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

Let's go to Athena Jones who is in Columbus, Ohio, now, regarding the shooting of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant. This is the city's second deadly shooting, we know, by a police officer in the past four months. The transparency issue is not such an issue in that city, as I understand it.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. That's exactly right. There's some contrast to draw here between these two cases in Columbus and also what's going on here in Columbus, Ohio, and what's going on where Natasha Chen is in North Carolina, all related to this issue of the body worn cameras and body worn footage. I want to mention, yes, there was a shooting in December of Andre Hill by a now former police officer who has been indited since that shooting for that shooting, former officer Adam Coy.

But it's important to know all these cases are different. The Andre Hill case, Andrew Hill was unarmed, and Officer Coy was indited, in part, for not turning on his body worn camera until after he had shot Andre Hill. In this case, the case of Ma'Khia Bryant, who was shot on Tuesday afternoon by Officer Nicholas Reardon, his body worn camera footage was released within about five-and-a-half hours of that shooting. I believe you have the slowed-down version of that footage.

Police thought it was important to release that camera footage as soon as possible, given that this shooting occurred just around the time when we learned the verdict in the George Floyd case. But also there was video circulating on social media of the aftermath, bystander video of the aftermath of that incident, and police needed to get the information out to the public. So, there's been a real focus on transparency in this case.

And I want to note, you can see in this footage that Ma'Khia Bryant was holding a knife. You can see there's an image of the knife next to her after the shooting when she falls down. So these are two different cases. In the case of Andre Hill here in Columbus, that officer is under indictment. This Ma'Khia Bryant shooting is now being investigated by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, an independent investigation. That bureau is part of the Ohio State Attorney General's Office. So, they will draw their conclusions.

But so far law enforcement argue that this was a reasonable use of force in this case. But certainly, the video, the handling of the video here in Ohio is very different from what we're seeing in North Carolina. Christi?

SANCHEZ: You would hope that there would be more transparency the way that there is in Columbus. Athena Jones, thank you so much.

Still ahead this hour, President Biden expected to mark a dark moment in history, becoming the first American president to officially recognize the Armenian genocide. What it means for U.S. foreign policy next.

PAUL: Also, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is getting sued for the, quote, anti-riot measure he just signed into law. What the opponents say this bill is really about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:19:05]

PAUL: The U.S. military withdraw from Afghanistan is ongoing right now. Three defense officials tell CNN that equipment is being packed up and shipped out. The Pentagon is also deploying hundreds of maritime air and land forces to assist with the withdrawal operations. And one official says the movement of personnel out of Afghanistan won't begin for a few weeks. Several defense officials say there will be an informal effort to conduct as much of the withdraw as possible before the September 11th deadline that's been set by President Biden.

SANCHEZ: President Biden also prepared to recognize the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, modern day Turkey, as a genocide. Biden informed Turkish President Recep Erdogan of his decision yesterday according to a person familiar with the conversation. Readouts from both governments did not mention the issue, but the person familiar with the call described it as tense.

[10:20:00]

We're joined by the Armenian ambassador to the United States, Varuzhan Nersesyan. Ambassador, we appreciate you spending time talking to us about this. For our viewers that may not be familiar with the history, help us understand what happened during the Armenian genocide and why it happened.

VARUZHAN NERSESYAN, ARMENIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much, and thank you very much for this interview, indeed, Boris. Well, we are hopeful that any moment the statement of President Biden will be out. But basically, what happened is undoubtedly, is the first genocide of the 20th century. More than 1.5 million Armenians had been systemically killed in their ancestral land, and hundreds of thousands have been expelled towards the deserts in Syria, and this has been the first genocide of the 20th century. And based on this very tragic experience, Raphael Lemkin, Polish-American lawyer, coined the very term "genocide" which .

SANCHEZ: Apparently we have some technical difficulties there with the ambassador. We will try to get him back.

In the meantime, this week Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signing a controversial anti-riot and protest bill into law. One attorney, though, argues it is unconstitutional. Hear from him next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:25:54]

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. We've just reconnected with the Armenian ambassador to the United States, Varuzhan Nersesyan. Ambassador, let's pick it up where we left off. For generations U.S. presidents have declined to recognize what happened to the Armenians in the early 1900s as a genocide, partly because they didn't want to upset Turkey, which is an important U.S. ally, it's a NATO ally, and it's critical to foreign policy in the Mideast. What do you think moved Joe Biden in this direction as we anticipate that he's going to recognize the Armenian genocide later today? NERSESYAN: Thank you. And thank you for -- sorry for this technical

interruption. Basically, yes, we're very much hopeful that President Biden, as I said, based on his earlier record as a Senate foreign affairs chairman, and as the vice president, has been very much in support of the Armenian genocide recognition.

And this, we think, it's in my own opinion that President Biden, based on the preliminary positive signals that we have received these last days, that President Biden today will call the things by their own name, namely saying Armenian genocide. But why it is so, because President Biden will bring this message, and it's also about U.S. leadership, U.S. moral leadership. And this is not an issue only about the past, this is not an issue only about the Armenians. This is an issue in regard to humanity and this is an issue for the future. This is a strong message if President Biden does so for the prevention of future atrocities and for the prevention of future genocides.

And having known President Biden's strong record, being a champion in defense of human rights and human values, that's why we are confident that today President Biden will call the things by their own name and make a historic -- make history in setting the record straight.

SANCHEZ: Ambassador, the Armenians for 50 years have been pushing for this recognition, and Turkey has spent millions of dollars in lobbying, there have been threats, even assassinations of prominent Armenian activists. Personally, as an Armenian, what does this moment mean to you?

NERSESYAN: This moment means to me a lot, being someone who is a son, coming from the generation of the genocide survivors. This moment means a lot for me in person and to the Armenian people in the world. To the Armenian American community, to the people of Armenia and worldwide Armenian communities. This means an end to the long history of denialism. This means the U.S. is being on the side of justice, of human rights, and that this means to me, in person, that justice will prevail, and humanity will prevail. And this means a very positive and strong message for the humanity, as I've said, in the terms of prevention of future genocide.

As I have said, we have seen in the past, this is not only about the past, but this is also about our current times. Even 106 years ago Turkey has not changed its attitude. And Azerbaijan, with Turkish full participation and support, conducted a 44-day aggression against the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh. It was just several months ago that Turkey dispatched jihadist terrorists to Nagorno-Karabakh, and it's deadly, lethal drones to kill the Armenian population, after which the entire Armenian population was under the threat of extermination in Nagorno-Karabakh. Therefore, what we're talking is not only about the past atrocities, but also it has a very strong meaning today. Back to you over, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and Varuzhan, quickly, if you could, what do you expect the response to be from Turkey?

[10:30:01] A source familiar with the call between President Erdogan and President Biden said that it was tense. And technical issues strike again. Ambassador Varuzhan Nersesyan, we do appreciate the time. Christi, the gremlins got us this morning.

PAUL: That is an understatement.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: That's OK. We'll get them back. We've got guys to figure that out, and they're pretty darn professional about it.

So let's talk about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, right. He's being sued over what's being called the anti-riot bill. Why critics say it unfairly targets those trying to exercise their First Amendment rights. We'll walk through it with you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: A Florida attorney has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state's new anti-riot law. This bill, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis this week, creates tougher penalties for people who participate in protests, and it boosts protections for police.

[10:35:01]

It also denies bail to protesters that have been arrested, and it creates new protections for public memorials, including Confederate monuments. Florida is not alone. Lawmakers in over 34 states have introduced more than 80 anti-protest bills since January 1st. Critics say it's in direct response to the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that rocked the country last summer.

Joining us to discuss, Aaron Carter Bates. He filed the lawsuit against Florida, and he represents the nonprofit group Lawyers Matter Task Force. Sir, thank you so much for spending time with us this morning. In promoting this bill, Governor Ron DeSantis actually cited the mob that ransacked the Capitol during the attempted insurrection on January 6th. He says that rioters should be held accountable. You argue that this goes beyond accountability and into suppressing First Amendment rights. Why?

AARON CARTER BATES, FLORIDA CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: And it's not just the First Amendment. It's the First, the Eighth, the Fourteenth. And I appreciate you having us on today, Boris. What individuals need to understand about this bill, is, one, Florida has not had one reported instance of destroyed buildings or death arising from demonstrations or protests which took place in the state of Florida. And, actually, I believe the governor was on Tucker Carlson's show bragging about that point.

So, one, the bill is not a reaction to anything that Floridians were concerned about, and it really is a badge for a presidential run in 2024. And it's disconcerting because, as you mentioned, if this was in response to January 6th, there might be an argument for it. But in reality, we have a governor that runs on originalism and the importance of the founding fathers, and I can tell you George Washington would be doing cartwheels in his grave if he read this bill.

SANCHEZ: Aaron, I want to dig into something you suggested, because you're right, last summer during the BLM protests across the country, in Florida there really wasn't expansive looting or expansive property damage. But you're arguing that you think that DeSantis is using this bill to position himself for a run to the White House.

BATES: Well, I worked at the capitol. I went to law school in the capitol. I know the attorneys up there, very bright attorneys. One of the senators that opposed the bill, Senator Pizzo from south Florida is a former prosecutor. Any attorney that takes ten seconds to read this bill will see the blatant constitutional issues that arise. And what individuals need to understand is there's nothing in this bill that is not already on the books in the laws of Florida. So this bill isn't doing anything to make us safer. All it's doing is enhancing criminal penalties already on the books. And we have a mechanism by which to do this. So really, I view this as no more than an unconstitutional badge for a political run.

SANCHEZ: So I want to read to you now a portion of a statement from Governor DeSantis to CNN. He writes about the lawsuit, quote, "The governor's office has not yet been served in the case, but we will firmly defend the legal merits of HB-1, which protects businesses, supports law enforcement, and ensures punishment for those who cause violence in our communities. He calls it an unapologetic stand for public safety.

In your mind, is there a way for local and state governments to more harshly punish the extreme violence that we saw during protests without going as far as this bill goes?

BATES: Absolutely, Boris. The laws on the books in Florida are perfectly fine. For example, the organization I represent, a longtime friend and colleague of mine, Shannon Ligon, came to me, and there's a vigil today in honor of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives as a result of violations of civil rights. And I told her, look, you don't want to go out this Saturday, even though you are legal observers and you're doing training, you're not technically demonstrating, because of the overbroad and vague nature of the bill, you guys could get swept up in a felony prosecution for just being present if something goes wrong.

So I instructed her not to go, not to allow the organization to go. And at that point I started to look at the bill and it was just -- it was egregious. This is not what I do 9:00 to 5:00. I'm a real estate development attorney. I have a history of civil rights because of my disability, but this is just so egregious, we stopped what we were doing and filed this, and I don't think we're the first ones. I'm sorry, the only ones.

[10:40:00]

SANCHEZ: Sure. Aaron, two things that I wanted to get your thoughts on. The part of the bill that can be read as an effort to protect Confederate monuments, and the other part of it that appears to absolve drivers who plow into crowds of protesters from responsibility. It brings to mind what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, a few years ago. Am I reading that correctly? What do you make of those two parts of the law?

BATES: Right, as far as the protections for monuments, including Confederate monuments, and I'll put that on the shelf. That's been an issue we've been dealing with strenuously in this country for several years now, and it kind of came to a head last year. However, what I don't think Floridians know and what I hope Americans will now know is this bill does exactly what you just said. As we all know, in Charlottesville someone plowed into the crowd, and there were severe injuries and death resulting. Under the law passed by Governor Ron Dion DeSantis, you are civilly immune from liability if you drive into a crowd that is determined to be a riot under the bill. The problem is, the bill makes no clear definition of what a riot is, what is inciting a riot, and really you're going out to demonstrate for teacher wages or against police misconduct, and you really have no idea what you can or can't do that will subject you to felony prosecution.

SANCHEZ: Aaron Carter Bates, we look forward to furthering this conversation as the lawsuit moves ahead. Thanks for the time.

BATES: Thank you.

PAUL: When the Los Angeles Dodgers play the San Diego Padres tonight, fans who are fully vaccinated for the coronavirus are going to have a section to themselves. The San Francisco Giants debuted its special section for fully vaccinated fans at its game on Thursday. Let's listen to the usher of that new section, what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIE BENNETT, USHER FOR VACCINATED SECTION: I love the idea. I think it makes me feel safe, and I think the people here feel safe because they can actually sit together and they don't have to socially distance if they're vaccinated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: So let's bring in the president and CEO of the San Francisco Giants Larry Baer. Larry, good morning to you. Welcome.

LARRY BAER, CEO, SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS PRESIDENT: Good morning, Christi. How are you?

PAUL: I'm well. Thank you. Better question is, how are you? How did this special seating go over at Thursday's game?

BAER: It's gone well, Christi, and I think it will only expand. Previously, before a couple days ago, or Thursday, you could only go really one way to the ballpark, and that was sit in a pod of four and then six feet socially distance from the next seating group. Now, with vaccinations climbing, and with the numbers here in San Francisco and California extraordinarily good, vaccination sections will be offered, we're offering, and we think that it will build and we'll have a huge amount of takers going into May when we have that big series that people can buy in advance.

And the big thing is, baseball is a community event. It's a communal thing. And now you can go with a group of 10, 12, 15 people, friends from the neighborhood, friends from work, big families can go and sit together.

PAUL: So the headline from local media is that fans feel safer. Do you feel safer?

BAER: Right. And that's really important. There was a fair amount of feeling early on as we got into the baseball season and we were playing a full season, which we're really excited about. And it really became the first communal event, I think, in this country where everybody was able to come together in ways that they have before, and kind of return to normalcy. But how are you going to do it in a baseball park? How are you going to do it with concessions?

And so we started slower in April with the pod seating. We had remote ordering of concessions, et cetera. And now restrictions are being eased because fans do feel safe. We've learned a lot. Outdoor transmission is really not happening if you're safe, and the protocols are safe. So we're really excited about this being a way for people to enjoy baseball within larger groups, and you get the excitement back in our communities.

PAUL: So we just mentioned the Padres and the Dodgers are playing, and you've done this now. Are all of you -- are you collaborating in any way? I know that there's competition, obviously, between every team, but this is one of those situations where we're all kind of working together.

BAER: This is one where we try to knock each other out on the baseball field and win, beat each others' brains out and get into a competitive race, and actually Giants, Dodgers, and Padres are just separated by a couple of games early in the season. But that's on the field. Off the field, it's to everybody's advantage to work together. So with Governor Newsom, the five California teams have actually been together and helped set up the protocols with the health director, Dr. Ghaly, here in the state, and it's worked quite well, that collaboration.

[10:45:09]

So it's really been a case where we're all in this together, and the results are good.

PAUL: So they still have to present proof of either they're fully vaccinated or that they have a covid negative test, is that correct?

BAER: In some communities. That's the case in San Francisco, the San Francisco health director. So the state sets the rules, and then the local community adjusts according to their views. So, yes, for socially distanced sections, you have to have either a proof of a negative test or a vaccine 14 days out. Then the vaccinated sections you just need proof of the vaccination. And in May we're going up to about 50 percent capacity. Right now we're effectively 25 percent. So this will just allow a lot more people to attend. And our view is May is going to be better than April, June better than May, and let's get back to a full ballpark here before the end of the season.

PAUL: At what point, dependent on what's happening in that community, might you pull back on this?

BAER: Well, we're going to follow the local health ordinances. So in terms of pulling back, it's really going to be -- we're going to move forward, we're not going to move backwards, unless, obviously, there's health results that indicate that, or the health director locally or in the state says that that's necessary. But we're optimistic that the results have been really good, and the safety measures that we've taken are so far bearing fruit.

So it's a good story, Christi. We feel like there's a lot of positives, and the communal feeling that you get back in the ballpark, back to having a hot dog and a drink with a friend. We even had a couple bring -- I don't know if you saw this, but there was a couple brought a bunny to a game the other night. It was a therapy bunny. And they had all sorts of really interesting stories with the fans coming back.

PAUL: Wow. Larry Baer, good luck with all your games. Good luck with all of this transition. I know this is a whole new way to play ball. But it's good to talk to you, and we're wishing you the very best. Thanks for making time for us this morning.

BAER: Really appreciate it, and thanks to everyone who is coming to the ballpark. Play ball.

PAUL: They want to see it as much as you do. Thank you so much.

BAER: Talk to you soon.

PAUL: OK.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, he swiped right on the wrong woman. How a dating site led to the arrest of one of the people accused in the Capitol riot.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:52:13]

SANCHEZ: When swiping right goes wrong. Nearly 400 people have now been charged with federal crimes in connection with the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

PAUL: Yes, so let's get to what you just said. One of the latest suspects was arrested after the FBI got a tip from a surprise source, one of his matches on the dating app Bumble. Let's go to CNN's Marshall Cohen in Washington. All right, Marshall, walk us through this one.

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Christi, good morning. They say online dating can be hard, right, especially during the pandemic. But this is not the way to do it. So Robert Chapman from Yonkers, New York, he was on the app, Bumble, according to court filings, and started -- he got a match and started bragging about what he did on January 6th. There are screen shots actually in these court filings that reveal him trying to lay on the charm here and say that he was in the Capitol, he was in Statuary Hall, and even was interviewed by some members of the media.

It was not playing well. The person who matched said just with a deadpan, we are not a match. And according to prosecutors, they went straight to the FBI. And the FBI started looking into it. They compared his Bumble pic to bodycam footage from inside the Capitol, surveillance footage from inside the Capitol, and some images that he posted online. You can see one right here. They thought that it was a match. This was the right guy. And not too long after that, they came knocking to his home in New York. He was arrested and released. He's not charged with any violent crimes, just a few misdemeanors. So he's not in jail, but it's just an example of incriminating social media posts, a big part of this insurrection.

PAUL: Oh, my goodness. Go ahead. I know, I know.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: Laying on the charm.

PAUL: Charm, right. Marshall Cohen, thank you so much.

So listen, I don't know what your plans are today, but hundreds of miles above the earth there is a party going on. Four astronauts have successfully made it to the International Space Station. Look at this greeting by their friends that have been there for many months here, six months. The incredible images for you just ahead.

We do have quick programming note for you as well. We're getting for an all new season of "United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell". This season he travels the country to talk with people about COVID-19, Black Lives Matter. There is so much to this. It starts Sunday, May 2nd, at 10:00 eastern right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:59:24]

PAUL: The crew of the SpaceX Dragon capsule made a successful landing aboard the International Space Station this morning. This is the first time SpaceX has used a previously flown rocket and spacecraft for a crewed mission.

SANCHEZ: The crew of four astronauts is going to spend the next six months on the ISS. They're actually going to replace four other astronauts that are scheduled to return home next week. For now, though, that brings the total number of personnel onboard to 11, one of the largest crews ever hosted on the ISS. They're going to be doing impressive breakthrough research. They have out-of-this-world views. But as we learned this morning, no booze on board. They can't celebrate with champagne, Christi.

PAUL: That's OK, I'm sure that they'll do it when they get back, Boris.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: Go make some great memories out there today. Thank you for watching.

SANCHEZ: Thanks for joining us. The next hour of Newsroom continues with Fredricka Whitfield right now.