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CNN NEWSROOM

Demands Grow For Body Cam Footage In Andrew Brown Jr. Shooting; Source: Fulton County DA Has Grown Frustrated With Georgia Secretary Of State's Office Cooperation In Trump Probe; Interview With Georgia Secretary Of State Brad Raffensperger; Interview With Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC); Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); What To Expect From The Pandemic Oscars. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 24, 2021 - 17:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:00:13]

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

And another American community dealing with grief, anger, loss and a demand for answers. People in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, have been marching peacefully and urging the local sheriff's department to release bodycam footage from Wednesday's shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr.

Dispatch audio revealing a first responder saying that Brown was shot in the back.

Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old man, was killed outside his home as deputies attempted to serve him with a warrant. Even city officials are calling for the community to be able to see the body camera footage, the mayor telling CNN that she's demanding transparency and accountability.

Few moments ago, I spoke to Attorney Benjamin Crump who is now representing the Brown family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR ANDREW BROWN JR.'S FAMILY: What we believe is transparency is essential, it is essential, Jim. Why did the taxpayers pay all this money to retrofit these officers with bodycam video if when we needed it most, when it mattered most they would not let the public see what has transpired?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And CNN's Natasha Chen is in Elizabeth City right now.

Natasha, that seems to be the pressing question right now. Why is there this hold-up on the body camera footage? Benjamin Crump obviously is concerned that this footage is being hidden from the public. What's the answer so far? NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, the thing is

people from all parties involved here have publicly stated that they agree that this footage should be released and that includes the sheriff of Pasquotank County. The problem is that the sheriff describes and explains that in North Carolina, you need a court order to have such video released.

So just moments ago, on Facebook, he posted a video explaining some of this, especially after Andrew Brown's family and his representatives gave an emotional press conference this afternoon calling for transparency, saying that the tapes must be seen and family members saying they need answers to the questions. Here's a little bit of the video the sheriff posted on Facebook this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF TOMMY WOOTEN, PASQUOTANK COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: Because we want transparency, we want the body camera footage made public. Some people have falsely claimed that my office has the power to do so. That is not true. Only a judge can release the video.

That's why I've asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to confirm for me the releasing of the video will not undermine their investigation. Once I get that confirmation, our county will file a motion in court hopefully Monday to have the footage released.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: So he says as early as Monday, he could file a motion for this to be released.

So, Monday is going to be critical here because not only is the sheriff intending to potentially file a motion, the city council of Elizabeth City who, by the way, is not involved in what happened on Wednesday because that's a county event, incident the city council has also agreed to file a motion on Monday.

In addition to that, CNN is part of a group of 14 news organizations that formed a coalition serving a petition to file a motion to have that foot and released so you are getting this from multiple parties potentially on Monday to see some progress being made about the release of this footage.

In the meantime, this afternoon, we did hear from one of Andrew Brown's sons speaking emotionally about the loss of his father and how his newborn will no ever get to meet his grandfather. So, there's a lot of pain here. And as you mentioned, the protesters in town have been rather peaceful marching and demanding transparency here, also marching to the family's press conference that we saw this afternoon, Jim.

ACOSTA: And just a heartbreaking situations there in Elizabeth City.

All right. Natasha Chen, thanks for keeping tabs on it. We appreciate it. We'll get back to you. And we're also following new developments involving former President Donald Trump and his efforts to influence the 2020 election in Georgia. Remember this phone call with election officials in that state.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Sources tell CNN investigators in the Fulton County District Attorney's Office have grown frustrated with the level of cooperation they say they receive from staffers in the Office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. You'll recall Raffensperger famously spoke out against the president's actions.

[17:05:04]

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R), GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Even after this office's request that President Trump try and quell the violent rhetoric being born out of his continuing claims of winning the states where he obviously lost, he tweeted out, expose the massive voter fraud in Georgia. This is exactly the kind of language that is at the base of growing threat environment for election workers who are simply doing their jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And joining me now is the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Thank you so much, Secretary, for coming on.

It sounds like to a lot of Americans that Donald Trump was trying to commit voter fraud in that phone call with you. What can you tell us about the status of that investigation?

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, it's an ongoing investigation and that's a Fulton County investigation and we're fully cooperating with the district attorney, and I assume they'll be taking testimony from several people, not just our office but many people, not just in Georgia but other areas. But it's their investigation and we're not privy to who they're going to be calling. But we'll be supporting their efforts and providing any information they need from our office.

ACOSTA: I do want to talk about the Georgia election law, but just to button that up, when they say that your office is not cooperating with the investigation, you're saying that that's false? That's not the case? RAFFENSPERGER: That's false. We've retained a counsel for the secretary of state's office in lieu of the attorney general's office, and they can coordinate and ask whatever questions they want and what they need. But we'll fully cooperate obviously.

ACOSTA: And you said everything in the Georgia election was done by the books. But now, you're a supporter of this controversial new voting law that aims to correct a problem you said didn't exist a few months. Aren't you just vowing to Trump, the same guy you warned was going to get somebody killed?

RAFFENSPERGER: Absolutely not. What this bill does, number one, is we're moving away from signature match. We've been sued by both the Democrat Party and Republicans on signature match. They both said it's subjective.

We're moving to driver's license number which is a good thing because it's pretty objective. And then if you don't have a driver's license, that 99 percent of all Georgians do, you have your 4-digit Social Security number or other means of identification. You have not of that, we'll give a free ID.

But now, we're moving away from signature match to a very objective measure, and that will help restore confidence in the election process.

ACOSTA: I want to talk about some of the aspects of the law but let me just press you on this a little bit, Mr. Secretary.

When Trump spreads a big lie about the election and insurrection breaks out, you know, we had people killed here in Washington and all of a sudden, laws are changed.

You know, can you help viewers understand how you are not just essentially rewarding bad behavior?

RAFFENSPERGER: The reforms that are in this bill are to really address and make elections more efficient. For example, we had an eight-week runoff as many people in America know and now, we've gone to ranked choice voting for our overseas military balloting. And that allows them to push that down to a four-week run-up and line up with both the state runoffs with the federal runoffs.

That's another reform that we put in the bill. It's long overdue and that was a good thing, and it has nothing to do with what happened back in the November or the January period. Up in D.C. --

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: The law was passed in response to the election and the law was passed in response to complaints by Republicans that they lost your state and these other key battleground states. So, I mean, it was passed in response to the election.

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, we wanted to make sure that going forward, at the conclusion of the runoff race that we had for the U.S. Senate, drop boxes went away. So, now, they've been actually put into state law for the very first time. They were used last year with an emergency rule and that's expired on the finish of that election. So, that's been added also for the very first time. So, that's another good improvement that now will be in state law.

ACOSTA: And let me ask you about what Stacey Abrams had to say about this. She called this new law racist. She made quite a number of points during a congressional hearing earlier this week. Let's listen to it and talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Tell me specifically, just give me a list of the provisions that you objected.

STACEY ABRAMS (D), FORMER GEORGIA GUBERNATIONAL CANDIDATE: I object to the provisions that remove access to the right of vote, that shorten the federal runoff period from nine weeks to four weeks.

KENNEDY: Okay.

ABRAMS: It would restrict the time that a voter can request and return an absentee ballot application.

KENNEDY: Slow down for me because our audio is not real good here.

ABRAMS: It restricts the time a voter can request and return an absentee ballot application.

KENNEDY: All right.

ABRAMS: It requires that voter had a photo identification or some other form of identification that they're willing to surrender in order to participate in absentee ballot process.

[17:10:03]

KENNEDY: What else?

ABRAMS: It eliminates over 300 hours of drop box availability.

KENNEDY: OK, what else?

ABRAMS: It bans nearly -- it bans nearly all out of precinct votes.

KENNEDY: Is that everything?

ABRAMS: No. It is not. No, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: What do you say to Stacey Abrams, Mr. Secretary?

RAFFENSPERGER: She's flat wrong, and I think it's really objectionable that she's using the term Jim Crow 2.0. That really throws -- just makes people question the integrity of the election results. If you look at everything that we're doing out of precinct voting, 26 states right now do not allow out of precinct including the state of Florida. What we've done is said out of precinct voting really hurts and disenfranchises voters. When they show up to vote out of precinct, then all of their down ballot races do not count. Yes, the presidential race would and the other statewide races but their local races wouldn't count.

So, we just tell people, then go to the precinct. Here's where you need to go, but if they show up at 5:00 and it's too late to do something, then they can vote in precinct.

ACOSTA: And there was a provision in the bill that got a lot of attention and I want to talk about it, making it illegal to give food and water to people waiting in line to vote, even if they've been there for hours. I mean, this is the one part of the bill -- I mean, there's a lot part of the bill -- a lot of parts in the bill that people don't like, but is the state really going to arrest people for that? In other words do people need to be aware of the cookie police there in Georgia?

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, last year, we saw a surge in complaints about it. People in effect were using it as a form of electioneering. So, what we did is we modeled the law after New York state. It's always been illegal to politic within 150 feet and people were encroaching on that under the guise of giving people free water.

Now, the local election directors, the precinct workers --

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: But how many times did that actually happen, Mr. Secretary? How many times did that actually happen?

RAFFENSPGER: We had multiple complaints and I'll get you an exact number.

ACOSTA: Yeah, when you say multiple, do you mean dozens, do you mean hundreds, do you mean just a few? What do you mean?

RAFFENSPERGER: It was dozens. And it really was primarily in the runoff race that it really spiked up and that's when we hear all these complaints --

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: As you know -- some of these long lines --

RAFFENSPERGER: -- and we copied New York state's law.

ACOSTA: But some of these long lines as you know are in predominantly black neighborhoods. And so I'm just wondering, you know, if people are standing in line and they are standing in line for hours, and you and I both know, Mr. Secretary, people stand in line for a long time during some of these elections and it predominantly happens in minority communities, communities of color. Are the police going to show up and start cuffing people if they're

handing out water and snacks to people waiting in line? It mean, it just sounds -- it sounds crazy.

RAFFENSPERGER: When there's an investigations, you brought before the state election board. People won't be handcuffed at that time.

But let's go back to that. Many of these counties that had long lines, that have had in the past are run by Democrats, with Democrat controlled election boards. And so if there's an issue there, it's really in Democrat counties run by Democrats, that's the first thing.

But also, in the November election, we have an average wait time of less than three minutes in the afternoon of November. So, we defeated that issue of long lines, and for the very first time, we put in the bills that lines cannot be --

ACOSTA: Won't you have a situation where if you do have long lines occurring, people can't get a drink of water? I mean --

RAFFENSPERGER: No. They'll be able to get water from the precinct workers free to hand out all the water in a nonpartisan, bipartisan method to anyone that's in line. But the point is, is that if you have a line over one hour, we're not going to put up with that anymore and you have to then increase your number of precincts or add equipment or add poll workers for the next election so you don't have those long lines.

ACOSTA: And what do you say to -- I mean, I want to go back to the question earlier. What do you say to people who see this law being passed, other laws passed in other parts of the country whether they go after voting restrictions, whether they go after protesting, and say that, well, they're doing this in these Republican controlled state houses because of Donald Trump. He lied about the election, he couldn't get over the fact that he lost the election and all of you can't stand up to him?

You were standing to him after the election. You were the one who called him out, your office released that tape of him trying to get 11,000 votes and then go and pass these laws in states like yours. Why can't you stand up to him?

RAFFENSPERGER: Seventy-five percent of all Georgians support and added another day of mandatory early voting. We'll now have 17 days of early voting, plus two optional days of Sunday. Seventy-five percent of the voters support that.

[17:15:00]

Sixty-five percent of all Georgians support photo ID using driver's license number for identification of absentee ballot voters. So, it's very well-received and over 55 percent of all voters --

ACOSTA: Stacey Abrams says that requiring ID is going to affect communities of color. RAFFENSPERGER: Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of all Georgians

regardless of where they come from and their background have a driver's license number or they have a Social Security number or they have some other form of state ID. And for that 0.1 percent of voters, we will provide a free ID for anyone that asks.

ACOSTA: All right. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for the state of Georgia, and you said you were going to provide us with that information about the number of electioneering cases that were going on involving handing out snacks and water to people in line. We'll check back with you. We'll make sure you get us that information to us and appreciate you coming on. Thanks so much, sir.

RAFFENSPERGER: We'll get that to you. Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right. Thank you.

Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murder, but he wasn't the only officer involved in George Floyd's deadly arrest. How his conviction could impact their trials, next.

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[17:20:15]

ACOSTA: Guilty on all counts. Now that Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd has been convicted, what happens next and what will his punishment be?

Joining us now for our weekly cross-exam segment is CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor, Elie Honig.

Elie, great to see you.

Chauvin is being held at a prison outside of Minneapolis, until he's sentenced on June 16th. And one viewer wants to know what sentence can the judge impose? I think that's what a lot of people are watching for now.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Jim, it's a fascinating legal scenario because Derek Chauvin faces a maximum sentence of 40 years. However, Minnesota uses sentencing guidelines and if you do the calculation, that actually yield somehow a recommended sentence of only 12-1/2 years for Derek Chauvin, largely because this is his first conviction.

However, prosecutors are looking to increase that number by arguing what we call aggravating factors, five of them here.

First of all, that George Floyd was a vulnerable victim, because he was handcuffed. Second that the police -- Derek Chauvin used cruelty in the way he killed George Floyd with his knee. Further, that Chauvin abused his position of authority as a police officer.

Fourth, that the crime was committed in the presence of children. We heard from several of those minors as eyewitnesses. And finally, that the crime involved three or more people, that refers to the other police officers who've been charged.

So it's going to be up to the judge to find those factors. The stakes are really high here. The more of those factors that he finds, the higher he can go with the sentence. I think it's clear he has to go above 12-1/2. That's a ridiculous number. But the question is, will he go all the way up to 40? We shall see.

ACOSTA: And another viewer asked, how does the conviction and eventual sentencing of Chauvin impact the three other former police officers?

HONIG: So, those three officers will be tried together as a group in August. That's no question that trial is going to be more difficult for prosecutors than the Chauvin case. Chauvin's the one who committed the most obvious conduct with the knee to the neck for those 9:29.

Now, the three others are charged with what's called aiding and abetting. Meaning they knowingly and intentionally helped Derek Chauvin commit murder and manslaughter. That's a legitimate legal theory. I charged plenty of aiding and abetting cases.

But the reality is it's harder for prosecutors to prove because you're one step removed so keep an eye on Chauvin sentence because the higher sentence the more incentive to try to plead guilty. If Chauvin gets 30, 40 years, they're going to look and think, look, I may not get that much time but I'm still looking at decades. That will give them more and more reason to try to work out a guilty plea to cap their amount of exposure.

ACOSTA: And, Elie, this week, the Justice Department, as you know, launched a federal civil probe into policing practices in Minneapolis. That's a pretty big move. One viewer wants the know what will the DOJ's investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department entail and what could happen as a result?

HONIG: So this is essentially a full audit of the Minneapolis Police Department's functioning -- hiring, training, use of force, et cetera. They're looking for a pattern and practice and of unconstitutional or discriminatory policing.

Now, the Obama DOJ was very aggressive in initiating these types of cases, against troubled police departments, in Ferguson, in Cleveland and Seattle.

The Trump administration essentially came in and said no way. They had no interest and this is the first of these cases under the Biden administration. I can tell you first hand, these cases can result in meaningful department-wide reform. I've been involved in the oversight of the Newark Police Department, and I'll tell you that that's result in them upgrading their technology, their training, their use of force policy. So, these cases take a lot of time and a lot of effort, but they really can result in meaningful police reform.

ACOSTA: All right. Elie Honig, great insights as always. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.

HONIG: Thank you. ACOSTA: Even after the Capitol attack, Republicans in Arizona are

still trying to help Trump push the big lie and hired a company called Cyber Ninjas to do it. We'll get reaction from the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:28:42]

ACOSTA: George Floyd's death last summer set off a wave of nationwide demonstrations against racial injustice and now, a year later, some Republican-led states are looking to crack down on those protests in a number of ways, including granting immunity to drivers who hit demonstrators with their cars. You heard that right.

Oklahoma and Iowa both passed a law offering protections to drivers who unintentionally injure or kill demonstrators while trying to flee from a demonstration. Oklahoma has passed stricter penalties for those who obstruct a public street during the course of a protest.

Meantime, in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis there just signed legislation he calls the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement pieces of legislation in the country. The new law boosts the penalties for protesters who assault a law enforcement officer during a riot and imposes harsher penalties for people caught damaging or defacing historic monuments.

And the all -- the calls to defund the police will now in a Florida -- in Florida, municipality needs state approval before cutting a police department's budget.

And joining me now is the House majority whip, Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

It's a mouthful going through all of those state laws passed that are being passed across the country.

[17:30:00]

ACOSTA: And I have to ask you, as someone that lived through the civil rights movement, what do you make of all of these bills seemingly aimed at cracking down on people protesting?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Thank you very much for having me, Jim.

I am instructed by history in all that I do. And I tell people, please, just look back at our history and see what happened after Reconstruction.

The things that we talk about that we attribute to Reconstruction, those things came after Reconstruction. The Jim Crow laws were post- Reconstruction.

And when you look at what transpired in this country, going down through that period, it culminated in a Supreme Court case called Plessy v. Ferguson. And it locked in "separate but equal" and has stayed that way until 1954.

So what I'm saying to people today, we have got to stand up now. And if I might use this word that my colleague, Maxine Waters, was chastised for, we have to confront injustice. That's what we've got to do.

These unfair laws --

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: You're saying be confrontational?

CLYBURN: Yes. We have to. We can't sit idly by while you have a governor down there in Florida saying he's going to allow what happened to the young lady, Heir, up at Charlottesville, give immunity to the guy that ran over and killed her.

Come on. This stuff is crazy.

(CROSSTALK)

CLYBURN: So we can't sit by and think it will go away. It is not going to go away. We have to push it away. We've got to confront it. We cannot sit by.

This is not about whether you riot. This is about whether or not you are in favor of maintaining this democracy. A democracy that started off as a protest that was called the Boston Tea Party.

That was the protest. That's what led to what this country is today.

So when people protest and you're going to decriminalize the First Amendment -- that's what you are doing, to petition for redress of grievances, a First Amendment guarantee.

And a state to criminalize pursuit of the First Amendment? This is crazy stuff.

ACOSTA: I spoke to Congresswoman Waters about this earlier today and she had this to say about the role far-right Republicans play in black communities. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): The black communities are under siege by these right-wing Republicans. The KKK. The QAnon. The Oath Keepers. The Proud Boys.

These are domestic terrorists. And they are targeting us in so many ways. Unfortunately, our young people are dying. And we just have to keep talking. We have to keep acting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Is the black community under siege by the far right in this country, Congressman?

CLYBURN: Absolutely. No question about it.

QAnon, all you got to do is listen to them and hear what they are saying. This stuff is a siege.

I would say that all freedom-loving people in this country, people who believe that the Constitution of the United States means something, people who believe in fair play, join the efforts to confront this injustice.

ACOSTA: President Biden, Congressman, is going to give his first joint address to Congress next week.

How's he going to get Republican cooperation with that thin majority that he has when you have members like Senator Hawley who can't even bring himself to vote for an anti-Asian hate bill?

How do you get cooperation or even compromise from the other side of the aisle?

CLYBURN: I would hope that that gentleman, if I might call him that, is not speaking for all Republicans or all people who are not in the Congress.

I would hope that we will isolate him just as they did on that one vote. And we will continue to seek common ground.

This is not about partisan politics. I'm the son of two Republicans. So I don't have anything against Republicans.

I do have something against people who disregard constitutional principles. People who feel that it's their way or the highway. People who think that they are superior to all others.

[17:35:04]

People who raise clinched fists against the United States of America, as Senator Hawley did. This, to me, is what we need to guard against in this country.

ACOSTA: All right. The House majority whip, Congressman Jim Clyburn, thank you so much for joining us. We'll look for you next week when President Biden gives that joint address.

Thanks so much for having --

CLYBURN: Thank you for having me.

ACOSTA: -- time to be with us today. Great talking to you, sir.

And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: And former President Donald Trump cheering on a desperate attempt by Arizona Republicans to find fraud that doesn't exist in the 2020 election.

Trump said, "Thank you, state Senators and others in Arizona, for commencing this full forensic audit. I predict the results will be startling."

He's referring to an audit of more than two million ballots in Maricopa County, one that follows two other audits that found no evidence of widespread fraud.

[17:40:03]

This time around, the $150,000 audit is overseen by a Florida cybersecurity firm called Cyber Ninjas, whose CEO, Doug Logan, has amplified election conspiracy theories.

Logan was listed as an expert witness in a Michigan lawsuit that reiterate the unfounded claim of election fraud connected to Dominium Voting Systems.

Adding to the hyper partisan tenor, the right-wing One America News America is live streaming the event. But its hosts are also helping to raise funds for the audit.

And with me now to talk about this and other topics is the chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House, Congressman Adam Schiff.

Congressman, what do you make of the audit in Arizona?

It is a sham audit, given that the capitol riot, fueled by the Big Lie that the election was stolen for Donald Trump, was less than four months ago, it just screams -- you know, it's just not credible.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): No, it isn't. I think for those who thought that maybe the danger passed to the democracy when Donald Trump left office, we see that it hasn't passed.

That there are efforts in states like Arizona and around the country to continue to push out the big lie about the election to continue trying to disenfranchise people, to disqualify their votes.

So we are not out of the woods. And we are heading in a very dark direction with these attacks on our democracy.

ACOSTA: And a new report shows that, speaking of that, foreign adversaries like Russia and China weaponized QAnon messaging in the months leading up to the insurrection on January 6th.

You are the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Were you aware or this? And what is the U.S. doing to counteract it now and going forward?

SCHIFF: There are efforts by foreign nations, bad actors, to propagate some of lies pushed out in the last election by the president but continue to be peddled on QAnon and other conspiracy-based organizations online.

Look, in particular, Russia loves to try to tear at the fabric of our society, try to pit Americans against other Americans.

And to the degree they can help discredit our democracy by amplifying these fictions about the last election, then they're meeting their objectives.

So I think calls on us to be vigilant about the information that we get to be skeptical what we see online.

But also to send a clear message to Russia, China, Iran, anyone else trying to interfere in our domestic politics, that they do so at their peril.

ACOSTA: I want to ask you about the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. is still battling the pandemic.

And there are indications that the supply of COVID-19 vaccines may soon outstrip demand. The daily average of average doses administered have fallen beneath three million.

Given that reality, I want to play what Senator Johnson, on the Republican side, said about vaccines and get your response to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI) (on camera): The science tells us that vaccines are 95 percent effective. So if you have a vaccine, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?

What is it to you? You got a vaccine and science is telling you it's very effective. Why is this big push to make sure everybody gets the vaccine?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: What is your message to Senator Johnson in response to those comments?

SCHIFF: My message is to sit down with an expert and learn facts here.

The problem is, if we don't get enough people vaccinated, we won't achieve herd immunity, which means the virus will continue to pulse through the society.

And the longer that happens, the more mutations you see, and the more the virus is around to mutate, the greater the odds to break through these vaccines.

That will continue year after year to be fighting these surges of COVID.

So it's very important not just that you get vaccinated but that your friends and family and community and country get vaccinated if we want to put this in the rear-view mirror.

ACOSTA: That's right.

And I want to talk about Armenia because this is a very big story.

President Biden today issued a statement officially calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire a genocide.

We remember the lives of those that died in the Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing an taro from ever again occurring.

Writing -- and I'll put this on the screen -- "Each year, we remember the lies of all those who died in the Ottoman-era American genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring."

I know you've been pushing for the U.S. to recognize the massacre as a genocide.

I remember covering President Obama's administration. There was great disappointment he didn't go as far as President Biden is going today.

What is your reaction? How historic is this?

SCHIFF: It is truly historic. I've been at this for a long time and seeking recognition for a quarter of a century and have urged now four presidents to recognize the genocide.

[17:45:11]

And I am thrilled. And I spent the entire day with the Armenian community in my district.

And there are a lot of tears of relief that, finally, at the very highest levels of the U.S. government, America is recognizing the trauma that took place, that to claim the lives of so many family members, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

A Holocaust survivor once described the denial of genocide as the last chapter of genocide, a double killing.

So there's enormous relief that finally the truth has been told.

ACOSTA: The Turkish foreign ministry said Biden's statement will open up a deep wound.

What is your response to that? Isn't that concerning that a NATO partner like Turkey has these feelings about this, or do you feel at this point that this needed to be done, no matter the ruffled feathers?

SCHIFF: This needed to be done. And frankly, if the U.S./Turkish relationship is so fragile and so weak that it can't stand our speaking the truth about genocide, it's not much of a relationship.

And we have seen Turkey buying anti-aircraft technology missiles from the Russians that are incompatible with the NATO obligations.

We see Erdogan drifting in a more autocratic direction.

So there are problems in the relationship already. But none that should prevent us from speaking truth to power.

And for the Armenian community right now, in the wake of a war, where Azerbaijan and Turkey made war on the Armenians just months ago, claiming thousands of lives, there's a real fear that a genocide could occur again.

So there's a very contemporary importance here.

ACOSTA: Very big importance.

All right, Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you so much for coming on and talking about this issue. Give our best to the Armenian community in your district. We appreciate it.

SCHIFF: You're welcome. Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: Coming up, the Oscars will look different this year. What to watch for.

Plus, from Johnny Carson to Jimmy Kimmel, the stories of all of your late-night legends are coming to CNN. "THE STORY OF LATE NIGHT" premieres Sunday, May 2nd, at 9:00 p.m.

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[17:52:25]

ACOSTA: The 93rd Annual Academy Awards are set to air on Sunday. Hollywood's big night will look different this year due to the ongoing pandemic.

Here's what to expect. The Academy Awards will be held at Union Station in Los Angeles. The red carpet will be closed to most media and the backstage interview room will be virtual.

The films with the most Oscar buzz this year include "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," with the late Chadwick Boseman nominated for best lead actor. Boseman passed away from cancer last year at the age of 43.

"Minari" is another film with plenty of Oscar buzz. It depicts a family of South Korean immigrants and moves to Arkansas to start a farm. It was inspired by the real-life story of its director, Lee Isaac Chung.

Other movies we should tell you about. "Nomadland" is another big film to keep an eye on. It's nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture, best director, and also best lead actress for Frances McDormand, who's always wonderful.

And I'm also keeping an eye on "The Sound of Metal," which is also terrific.

In the meantime, Glenn Close, who is up for best supporting actress for her role in "Hillbilly Elegy," is using this moment to shine her spotlight on a very personal issue, mental health. When her little sister, Jessie, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder,

Glenn made it her mission to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.

She cofounded, Bring Change to Mind, a nonprofit that brings mental health awareness and support into schools and communities.

This week's "CNN Hero" shares her work and her family's story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN CLOSE, ACTRESS & CO-FOUNDER, BRING CHANGE TO MIND & "CNN HERO": I've always said that mental health is a family affair.

When my sister Jess came to me and said, I need help because I can't stop thinking of killing myself, it was like a bolt out of nowhere.

We have, over the last 10 years, learned a tremendous amount about stigma, about how toxic it is. We have found that the best way to start ending stigma is to talk about it.

Bring Change to Mind is a nonprofit organization that fights against the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

It's a chronic illness. It is not who you are. It is something, because we have this amazing, wondrous fragile brain, is part of being a human being.

Especially now, because our collective mental health is under such stress, it should be something that really connects us, this need, to take care of our brains. It makes us human.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:55:00]

ACOSTA: It certainly does. And to learn more about Glenn and her sister and the Close family, and their mission to destigmatize mental illness, and to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to CNNheroes.com right now.

That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you back here tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Pamela Brown takes over the CNN NEWSROOM, live, after a quick break.

Have a good night.

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