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People Demanding Release Of Body Camera Footage From Fatal Shooting Of Andrew Brown Jr.; Indonesian Submarine Declared Sunk, 53 Sailors Presumed Dead; Anti-Trump Republicans Takes On Texas; QAnon Conspiracy Theory Spreads To Japan; Joe Biden Makes History By Declaring Massacre Of Armenians Genocide; Judges, D.O.J. Say Trump's Post-Presidency Lies About 2020 Could Incite Followers To More Violence. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 24, 2021 - 19:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: The submarine didn't explode but that debris escaped from the crack that formed from the pressure put on the submarine. All 53 sailors on board are resumed dead.

And fallout from the big election lie. The Justice Department warning tonight that Trump's supporters could turn violent again. The misinformation virus goes global as QAnon hysteria and MAGA marches spread to Asia. Political long shot meet the anti-Trump Republican running for Congress in Texas.

And ahead of Hollywood's biggest night entertainment buff Sam Rubin gives us his Oscar picks.

I'm Pamela Brown in Washington, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM and it's great to have you with us on this Saturday night. And new tonight just coming in, a North Carolina Sheriff is not promising to show the whole country what happened when one of his deputies shot and killed a black man this week at his home.

This is Elizabeth City, North Carolina today, but people for days have been demanding the release of body camera footage from the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. At least one witness says Brown was shot in the back. CNN's Natasha Chen is live in Elizabeth City.

Natasha, the sheriff now has explained why his community cannot see the bodycam video right now. What's the reason?

NATASHA CHEN. CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so Pamela, this has a lot to do with North Carolina requiring a court order for such video to be released according to the sheriff. And you can tell the family is very disappointed when they met with the sheriff yesterday.

They were expecting to perhaps see this footage and they were disappointed to find that they could not do that. Elizabeth City officials held a press conference this morning saying they have very little details about what happened. And they have also not seen any evidence nor have they seen the body camera footage. And the sheriff has maintained throughout the last few days that he wants what the citizens want.

But it's going to take some legal process to have this happen. Here's a video he posted to Facebook this afternoon explaining exactly the steps he's going to take.


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 that 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.


CHEN: Monday is going to be key because the Elizabeth City Council has also said that their formal filing will happen Monday for they also want to request to have this video released. Another entity requesting the release is a coalition of news organizations including CNN so a lot of things may be happening in court Monday to get this video out there that is something the family and the public have been asking for the last three or so days, including the people who've been marching peacefully around town.

Some of them still marching right now down the street even as there's drizzling rain, Pamela.

BROWN: Right. Natasha Chen life for us in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. I know you'll keep us updated on all the latest down there. And turning out to the Coronavirus Pandemic for the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine is when a game of green light, yellow light, green light.

The one-shot vaccine though is now back in the mix as federal health agencies signed off on resuming use. The CDC now saying extraordinary outreach is needed to convince vaccine skeptics after that two week pause. Well, that was triggered by 15 cases of a rare blood clotting condition linked to the vaccine.

All our women under the age of 50. 13 rather are under the age of 50. Three of those women died and seven are still in the hospital. The U.S. has more than 9 million doses of this vaccine waiting to go into arms but will the pause deter some Americans from rolling up their sleeves?

Vaccine hesitancy is rampant especially among conservative and rural voters. As we see the average daily pace of vaccinations dip now below 3 million. Well Dr. William Schaffner joins me now. He is a non-voting member of the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and Professor of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He has graciously agreed to answer your questions, the questions that

you have tweeted at me or sent on Facebook or message me with so we're going to get to that but first Dr. Schaffner, great to have you on. I'm going to ask you about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Dr. Leana wrote - Leana Wen rather wrote a piece for The Washington Post and she tweeted that her overall sentiment was "I'm a physician and woman who was in the under 50 age group. I had chosen to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If I knew then what I know now about the risk of a rare but serious blood clotting disorder, I would have chosen another vaccine."


You are in the mix Dr. Schaffner to resume the J&J vaccine. Why did the CDC choose not to issue a broader warning to women under the age of 50 and to use one of the other two vaccines available?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, CD ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON IMMUNIZATION PRACTICES: Well, Pamela, of course that is available. And all of the - all of the publicity around this will stress that there are alternatives available. And now that we have more vaccine available than we have demand, both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine are going to be out there in many locations available for use.

Excuse me. And furthermore, the risk was so much greater with COVID, I'm sorry. The risk was so much greater for COVID than it is with this Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which had become so very popular in many, many areas, because it is one and done and it can be used distinctively, to reach out to certain very hard to reach populations.

The homeless people, people who are bed bound or homebound who can't leave it that I think that CDC's Advisory Committee wanted it available to us, but they wanted everybody to know what the issues are. And like the Dr. Wen to make their choice.

BROWN: Right. Right. And of course, her issue is what she was saying was she would have liked to seen a more specific warning cater to women under 50, saying you should consider these other two vaccines. But I hear what you're saying, Dr. Schaffner, and I want to get to questions from our viewers. For people fully vaccinated, can they safely go on walks and other outdoor activities while no longer wearing a mask? I know I've thought about that.

SCHAFFNER: Well, for sure. And you know, we don't talk about safe, we talk about reducing risk. Actually, I think recommendations are in the work from the CDC that will work that kind of thinking. So everybody who's vaccinated can then go out with especially with other vaccinated people, and indeed in public, and enjoy coming back to some semblance of normal with the protection, which is spectacular that these vaccines produce.

So the short answer to your question is yes, but I wouldn't go out and large groups.

BROWN: So just to follow up, though, you said the CDC will likely be having more guidance on this. Can you give us any more - Can you give us any more insight into that?

SCHAFFNER: All I know is that it's in the works and I think it's fair to say that it is eagerly awaited by folks out there. Oh, we in the infectious disease and public health community, and the average people, those folks who are vaccinated who say, now that I have this 95 percent protection, can I return to something that's a semblance of my normal life that I had previously?

And I would encourage that.

BROWN: Yes, can I go on a walk outside and not wear a mask? Right. OK, so I'm going to get to this other question. This came to me from Facebook. What should parents who are vaccinated do about their unvaccinated young children? Resume normalcy or stay bubble? This decision is torturing me.

SCHAFFNER: Well, I hope it's not torturing the lady really. But since those children are unvaccinated, and they're out with other children in school or playmates, they can transmit the virus and bring it in. And of course, the vaccines are 95 percent protective, not 100 percent protected.

So yes, still bubble up until much later in the summer and beyond when we can start vaccinating first teenagers and then work our way down the age ladder.

BROWN: OK, so looking ahead, now, let's talk about the fall the winter coming up a resurgence of COVID, especially with the variants. This is from Nancy Kay, she asks, How soon will it be known if boosters are needed and will the supply hold for teens and kids as well by fall an end of the year?

SCHAFFNER: Oh, we think so. And we're following what's going on with the vaccination program, with new infections and what's happening with the variants and should a booster become necessary, believe me, everybody will hear about it. Booster doses so kind of vaccines 201 have already been made and are being tested.

We will be ready in the event that the variants require us to give a booster and yes, the manufacturing capacity is there. We'll have plenty - plenty of vaccine.

BROWN: Well, that is reassuring. Lastly, Lee Ferguson asks, how long will it take to get the vast majority of the world's population fully vaccinated against COVID because we are not all safe until everyone is safe?


SCHAFFNER: That's a question that goes to my heart because it is a Pandemic and out there, even though we're vaccinating people in the United States, in the rest of the world, if this virus keeps reproducing the spreading, we can throw off mutants that create variants that can come back into the United States.

So both for humanitarian reasons, we would like to protect as many people as possible, but also protect ourselves, we need to develop a better program to get more vaccines more quickly to developing countries around the world.

And the administration, I know is working on that.

BROWN: So but essentially, you don't know you don't have a timeline. It's just too tough right now. Right?

SCHAFFNER: It's too much in flux. I would say, I would say it will take at least another year, and even beyond that, frankly.

BROWN: OK. Well, Dr. William Schaffner. This was great. Thank you. Thank you to our viewers for your fabulous questions and the ones that we didn't get to, we're going to do this again tomorrow with Dr. Randy. I think that this is really helpful for all. Dr. William Schaffner, thank you so much.

And I want to mention, join me next hour I'm going to talk to fertility doctor Natalie Crawford about COVID and pregnancy and fertility. What questions do you have? Send them to me on Twitter @PamelaBrownCNN or on Instagram?

And here's what else we have this our first the Capitol riots. Now conspiracies about the vaccine rollout. I'm calling out Senator Ron Johnson's dangerous rhetoric. Speaking of which, a QAnon MAGA march in Japan. Our Selena Wang has new reporting on the terrifying way the misinformation virus has infected Asia.

And ahead of Hollywood's biggest night entertainment reporting legend Sam Rubin gives us his Oscar pics. But first the anti-Trump Republican running for congress in Texas. I'll ask Michael Wood why he thinks he can win. And we'll talk at the Republican who isn't afraid to criticize the 45th president or Republicans who support him. Congressman Adam Kinzinger. They join me next.



BROWN: Well, tomorrow GOP lawmakers will meet in Florida for the annual House Republican issues conference. Congresswoman Liz Cheney will be there she is still taking heat from the right wing for her rejection of Donald Trump. But this week, she may have found an ally and former President George W. Bush. He offered his harshest critique yet of his party's trajectory.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you were to describe the Republican Party as you see it today,


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you describe it?

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you disappointed?

BUSH: Well, it's not exactly my vision. But you know what I'm just an old guy they put out to pasture.


BROWN: Well, here to discuss is arguably the most outspoken anti-Trump Republican in the House, Congressman Adam Kinzinger. Also with us, Texas Republican congressional candidate, Michael Wood. He is an outspoken Trump critic who has been endorsed by Kinzinger's Pac. Thank you both for coming on.

Congressman Kinzinger, I'm going to start with you in this conversation. Just if you would lay it out for us. How did you first connect with Michael, why did your pac decide to support him?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Well, it's pretty easy. So, you know, I was paying attention to the race. And I saw this, you know, person that really boldly just told the truth. That was rejecting conspiracies, that said, what needed to be said, which is - we would have been a fantastic country, frankly the history of this party is strong, but we've been astray, we've gone off the rails and, and our allegiance should be to a country and not to a man.

And when I saw that, I just, you know, I got a hold of him. And we had a good conversation, I saw that he was truly genuine. And - and I made that decision to endorse him. It was an easy decision because all you have to do really to be a country first candidate is just say the truth and don't use conspiracy or fear. And I'll tell you, that's it's a recipe that can win elections, sometimes using conspiracy and fear.

But like we saw on January 6, it can ultimately destroyed democracies.

BROWN: It can win elections, that could also raise a lot of money. I mean, if you look at this, you have called out let's look at some of them, Ron Johnson, Senator Ron Johnson, Congressman Marjorie Taylor Greene, for spreading lies, spreading dangerous conspiracies.

You said Congressman Gaetz needs to resign. But Congressman Kinzinger, the Trump wing has raised hundreds of millions of dollars just since the November election. Congressman Green raised over 3 million in her first three months in office, does this signal to you that the Trump wing of the party is now the foundation of the party?

KINZINGER: Well, it signals to me that they certainly have the I guess, momentum. Whenever you have a former president, especially a person like Donald Trump, you know, with the support he has, you're going to raise a lot of money, especially when you use fear, especially when you put out tweets saying things like the Democrats are going to destroy everybody and destroy this country.

And you'll get $20 because you're convincing people that that's the truth, but the reality is different. And so I think it's worth fighting for. That's why I think, you know, maybe it feels like a David and Goliath fight with, you know, country first versus the Donald Trump thing.

But I'll tell you, over time, we know who won that battle. And I think Americans are waking up to the fact that, look, democracies require leaders that are going to tell the truth, and aren't going to reflect back their darkest fears to them in order to simply kill elected for whatever power you think you have.

BROWN: So, Michael, as you're seeing all this play out, does it concern you about your chances of winning, seeing how much momentum as Congressman Kinzinger put it, and backing frankly, the Trump wing has?

MICHAEL WOOD, TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Yes, well, you know, I got into this race thinking that there was about 30 percent of the Republican party that was ready to move past this man. That was ready to reject Conspiracy theories and QAnon and violence. And I think that that number is growing every day.


I think that a lot of times if you just explain to Republicans across this country, that we've lost The White House, we've lost the House of Representatives, we've lost the Senate, and that we're going to be a minority party for a generation if we don't move past Donald Trump, that really, you know, helps people see where we're coming from.

And I think that every day that passes with more and more people that stand up, it increases our chances of eventually winning this fight for the soul of our party.

BROWN: What makes you think you're getting more people on board with you, though? Do you have any evidence of that? Is it just anecdotal? What makes you think that you are you are gaining momentum in the anti-Trump movement?

WOOD: Well, since I jumped into this race, I've been overwhelmed with the amount of support that I've received from across the district, across the state and across the country. And I've been talking to voters across the district, and I have more and more people who come up to me afterwards, after these events, and they say thank you for finally saying what so many of us have been thinking.

And you know, one of the problems with American life right now is it's so easy to fit into sort of a new silo where you only hear a little bit of the information. And I think that more and more people are starting to hear, you know, things that maybe they don't hear from the news networks, they usually watch that the election wasn't stolen, that the President was directly responsible for the Insurrection on January 6.

There's no question that this is an uphill fight, and that this is a big endeavor that people like Congressman Kinzinger have undertaken. But I think that we're starting to see signs of progress.

BROWN: And then some of this, like those who believe that the election was stolen, even though that is not true. Congressman Kinzinger, you know, it's more of an emotional thing. It's not even fact based. You can - you can tell them, no, here are all the facts. But it's an emotional thing. And I'm wondering, from you being involved in politics and being on the frontlines of this fight, and having the pac, how will you and your pac make a dent in that movement?

KINZINGER: Well, so this is the key, I had a conversation with somebody that day, it was really eye opening, they said to me, well, OK, I got the all these facts are saying about the election wasn't stolen, but I just refuse to believe that more people had voted for Biden. At that point, you can't argue with that.

What we know though, is if you project yourself 10 years into the future, we know what the history books are going to say, we know what people are going to believe there's no way this misinformation, this lie continues. So the question is, how quickly can we advance that timeline, and with people like Michael Woods standing up, I think he's going to win.

But even just him taking that fight, to stand up to come on shows like CNN to talk to his local folks too and tell the truth is what's making the difference? The reality is, if you look and you say, man, it's such a big tidal wave, we have to fight, so I'm not going to fight, then you'll never take down that tidal wave.

You have to start somewhere and the reaction we've gotten to the Country First movement, and the reaction that Michael Wood has gotten just in him telling the truth shows me that that timeline to when people are going to wake up and see that is advancing quickly. And I hope it gets here very soon, because there's real damage that's going to be done to the party into the country if it doesn't.

BROWN: I want to ask you before you go, Michael, Congressman Kinzinger was one of eight Republicans who voted to pass universal background checks in the House. Texas is a big gun carrying state, how would you have voted? Would you have voted the same way as the Congressman?

WOOD: I think we might have a disagreement on this issue. You know, I have certain concerns that I don't think have been adequately addressed whenever it comes to these universal background checks. But you know, the important thing is, we very much are in some ways in an existential fight for the soul of the party, and also for the country.

We're going to have disagreements about this or that issue. But the important thing is we're on the same side of telling the truth to the American people and moving past where we've been for the past few months, especially.

BROWN: And do you regret voting for Trump in 2020, Michael?

WOOD: Absolutely. I don't know how you could not after you seen what has done to our country, you know, since Election Day and the Capitol was attacked. Of course, I regret it.

BROWN: OK, thank you. What an interesting discussion with you both Candidate Michael Wood, Congressman Adam Kinzinger. Really appreciate your time tonight.


WOOD: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you. Well, a fierce Trump supporter in the U.S. Senate is now downplaying the urgency of the Coronavirus vaccine, and he's skeptical that all Americans need to get it. I'm calling out Senator Ron Johnson's dangerous rhetoric when we come back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



BROWN: Well, this week, another right winger shared some dubious opinions to call the COVID vaccine effort into question. This time it was Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): The science tells us that vaccines are 95 percent effective. So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not? What is it you? You've got a vaccine and his science is telling you it's very effective. So why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine?


BROWN: Well, let me explain this. Let's look at the science right here. Doctors say COVID can't be eradicated until somewhere between 70 and 85 percent of the population is immune. That's why you should care whether your neighbor has the vaccine. Unfortunately, spreading this type of misinformation is nothing new for Ron Johnson. In fact, it's the main feature of his political agenda now.

Earlier this month, he echoed the racist replacement theory.


JOHNSON: This administration wants complete open borders.


And you have to ask yourself why. Is it really they want to remake the demographics of America to ensure that they stay in power forever? Is that what is happening here?


BROWN: So for the record, before this vile idea made its way into the talking points of some G.O.P. lawmakers, it was touted by the El Paso mass shooter, the Christchurch mass shooter and white supremacist groups.

Johnson also was the senate's loudest proponent of floating the demonstrably false idea that the Capitol riot was carried out by anti- Trumper. Here he was back this February giving credence to that narrative.


JOHNSON: A very few didn't share the jovial, friendly, earnest demeanor of the great majority. Some obviously didn't fit in and he describes four different types of people: plain clothes militants, agents/provocateurs, fake Trump protesters and then disciplined uniformed column of attackers.

I think these are the people probably planned this.


BROWN: Before that, the Senator from Wisconsin pushed the big lie about massive voter fraud in 2020.

Johnson is up for re-election next year in what is projected to be a competitive seat. He hasn't announced his plans yet, so, this all raises the question -- is this just a cynical ploy to try and cement his standing among the Trump base before the campaign or does he truly believe that science free theory about the vaccine, the racist replacement theory, the Capitol riot false flag and the rigging of the election.

Either way, the kind of ideas that used to get laughed out of the public discord and banished to fringe internet forums have found a home in the highest ranks of the Republican Party.

And speaking of alternate realities, Japan has become one of the most active networks for members of the unhinged conspiracy cult known as QAnon, and while the theory has its roots in American politics, experts warn that it is quickly going global.

In Japan, it's beginning to take on a life of its own. Selina Wang reports.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Protesters march against President Joe Biden's inauguration. No, this isn't the U.S., it's Japan. Waving American flags and carrying signs like these, among them, QAnon supporters.

QAnon may be in disarray in America after Trump's election loss, but not in Japan. Its niche, yet by many accounts is growing. One group calls its QArmyJapanFlynn, after Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. One member, Hiromi, is an acupuncturist, divorced with three children.

WANG (on camera): What does QAnon mean to you?

HIROMI, QARMYJAPANFLYNN MEMBER (through translator): I used to think it was my fault when things didn't go well. It was because I wasn't educated or didn't have talent or money. But when I found QArmyJapanFlynn on Twitter, I felt so much more certain about my place in the world. WANG (voice over): Hiromi believes the U.S. election may have been

stolen from Trump, but adds her group did not support the violence during the Capitol Hill riots.

Experts say QAnon's spread of baseless conspiracies is a danger to Japanese society, but Hiromi says, it is about giving those who are struggling a feeling that they can change society.

Another member, 2Hey, graduated from college and studied architecture. He has one son, used to work in real estate and is now a delivery worker.

WANG (on camera): What do you think of Japanese society today?

2HEY, QARMYJAPANFLYNN MEMBER (through translator): It's so tough to stay afloat, even with both parents working. I kept thinking something was so wrong. And that's when I discovered QAnon.

It's not about whether Q believes in Trump or not. We want everybody to realize there is something wrong with the status quo. This movement isn't just limited to Japan. It's a global movement. That's why I joined.

WANG (voice over): QAnon in Japan shows how easily unfounded claims can move from the darkest corners of the internet to draw in people from around the world.

In January, Twitter suspended the accounts of the members we spoke to. They say they've now moved to other platforms and are recruiting offline, including J here, who is a financial consultant but now travels across Japan to recruit, spreading misinformation along the way.

MELANIE SMITH, HEAD OF ANALYSIS, GRAPHIKA: it's been one of the most self-sustaining communities and the most resilient. I think, the major danger of QAnon is just an undermining of voices that are intended to deliver public information.

WANG (voice over): QArmyJapanFlynn members tell CNN their numbers have increased during the pandemic. They say they have members across the country, male, female, rich and poor.

WANG (on camera): Experts say recent actions from social media companies and Trump's defeat won't stop the conspiracies from flourishing.

QAnon is rooted in the belief that the government and established institutions are lying to the public, an idea that many experts say will far outlive Trump and the 2020 elections.

Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.


BROWN: Fascinating look. New concerns tonight by the Justice Department and two Federal judges in the wake of the deadly insurrection. Could Trump supporters be called to act again?

Marshall Cohen joins us next to explain.



BROWN: With a single word today from President Biden, global history changed in the eyes of the United States.


BROWN: Well, that is the scene right there in Armenia tonight, where they are celebrating, after Biden officially recognized the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I as genocide. That is a first for any American President.

By most estimates, at least 800,000 Armenians were killed over three years. But the recognition has always come at the risk of infuriating Turkey, and while Turkey's President Erdogan offered condolences to victims on this 106th Anniversary, we are just learning that state media reports Turkey summoned the U.S. Ambassador today who was told the statement is quote, "unacceptable" and that Turkey totally rejects and strongly condemns it.


BROWN: Meantime, prosecutors and Federal judges say by sticking to his big election lie, Trump could incite more violence down the road. That is their warning.

CNN's Marshall Cohen has new reporting for us on this tonight. Hi, Marshall.

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Pam. The Justice Department and some Federal judges here in D.C., they're worried that former President Trump's continued lying about the 2020 election could incite his supporters again to commit violence in the future.

Now, this has come up a few times this past week at some of the cases stemming from the January 6th Capitol insurrection. Most of the 400 people facing charges were arrested and released. But a few dozen were sent to jail before trial. Some of them are trying to get out. But Trump's recent comments have been making that much more difficult.

See, the rioters were motivated by Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was stolen and prosecutors are now arguing that the threat hasn't gone away, and that's because Trump keeps lying about the election in TV interviews, speeches, press releases, including a statement on Friday that falsely claimed there was large scale voter fraud.

So, one Federal Judge cited Trump's comments in a ruling against releasing one of the rioters who allegedly attacked police on the Capitol steps. That Judge also said at a hearing on Thursday, quote, "The unfounded allegations are out there and they are being made constantly by the former President."

Pam, it's pretty rare to see a judge call out a former President like that so explicitly. Not only that, another Federal Judge pointed out it's not just Trump who is still pushing these false narratives, it's also right-wing media outlets flooding the air waves with some of the same disinformation that radicalize many of these Trump supporters in the first place.

So, Pam, here's the bottom line. By continuing to lie about the 2020 election, former President Trump is actually making life harder for some of his strongest supporters, people who are in jail cells right now because of what they did on January 6th. And the Justice Department has been seizing on this to persuade Judges that these people, some of them, are just too dangerous to release while they're awaiting trial -- Pamela.

BROWN: Interesting. And also interesting to note that one of the judges that is speaking out was the same judge who oversaw the Michael Flynn case, as well, Emmet Sullivan.

COHEN: That's right. He knows the disinformation stuff pretty well at this point.

BROWN: Yes, he certainly does. Marshall, thank you for bringing us the latest there. Always good to see you on the show.

And meantime, a South Texas Church is used to helping and caring for migrant children, but the pandemic is making things much more difficult. How they are caring for these children without being in the same room, when we come back.



BROWN: Well, Sunday Services were a lifeline for unaccompanied migrant children along the southern border. But the pandemic has kept many of them from attending church and forced them to stay in shelters with little contact with the outside world. But one church is not giving up on these kids. CNN's Rosa Flores explains.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is more than a Sunday Service in South Texas. It used to be a lifeline for dozens of migrant children living in shelters who crossed the border alone.

Before the pandemic, here they are attending a Christmas posada. The children allowed to come to church every week.

Alina Leal (ph) and Sister Sindi Bardales say they'll never a boy -- whose eyes filled with tears when he said his mom wouldn't take him out of the government custody.

FLORES: So the mom was in the U.S. and rejected her child?

SINDI BARDALES, WORKS WITH MIGRANT CHILDREN: Yes. It's very painful. It's a painful situation for them.

FLORES (voice over): Pain the children now have to deal with in confinement. The pandemic keeping them in South Texas shelters with little to no contact with the outside world.

Except for this religious livestream with Catholic Priest, Tony O'Connor.

REV. TONY O'CONNOR, SAN FELIPE DE JESUS CATHOLIC CHURCH: Because of COVID, we can't go into the centers and they can't come here.

FLORES (voice-over): Nearly 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children live in shelters under the care of U.S. Health and Human Services for about 30 days.

FLORES (on camera): What do you tell them?

BARDALES: Be patient and have faith. Even though they feel that they are in prison.

FLORES: Do they tell you that it feels like a prison?

BARDALES: Yes, they do.

FLORES (voice over): And while they're treated well overall, says O'Connor --

O'CONNOR: Well, they're looking to be free.

FLORES (voice over): He's sure they miss the little things.

O'CONNOR: And we would always manage to find a lot of food, because they like food and Coca-Cola.

FLORES: They like Coca-Cola?

O'CONNOR: They like Coca-Cola.

FLORES (voice over): Since the pandemic, the pews where the migrant children used to sit are empty. But their presence is peppered throughout the church.

O'CONNOR: That's from one of the kids.

FLORES (voice over): Their prayers in sealed envelopes are here at the foot of religious statues.

O'CONNOR: Probably saying help me get out of here. Increase my process so that I can go north and be with my family.

FLORES (voice over): The bright paper flowers and figurines they made inside the shelter, still decorate the church. Including this swan made by a boy, who O'Connor said, had been in custody for a year.

O'CONNOR: When they talk to you about it, you just say, well, you know you're not going to be here 50 years. Just don't throw the towel in. You'll get out.

FLORES (voice over): But he knows that advice is tough for young children. Especially since they can't leave the shelter.


BARDALES: I pray for them, and I always have them in my heart.

FLORES (voice over): Leaving them without freedom, through faith.

Rosa Flores, CNN Brownsville, Texas.


BROWN: Well, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM tonight. Up next, we couldn't go to the movies, so the movies came to us, and now, Hollywood gets ready to celebrate its biggest night after a different year.

Longtime Hollywood reporter, Sam Rubin joins me next with a look at this year's Academy Awards.



BROWN: Well the Oscar's red carpet is back, sort of. Tomorrow night, it's the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, after a bizarre year for the movie business.

This year's nominees will include movies released in 2020 and the early months of this year. With the theaters shut, streaming services dominated this year's nominees.

Five movies nominated for best picture primarily played on streaming service. Joining me now to discuss is a Hollywood veteran, KTLA Entertainment anchor, Sam Rubin. Great to see you, Sam.

Award shows in the age of COVID, they are different, we all know, to say the least.

Tell us about how the Oscars are adapting this year and do you think it will be engaging enough to bring in the ratings?

SAM RUBIN, KTLA ENTERTAINMENT ANCHOR: Pamela, that is the multimillion dollar question. Hello from Hollywood here and what will happen tomorrow night at the Academy Awards is something we've never encountered before.

Usually there are thousands of people filling the Dolby Theater. This time it's our train station, Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, just a smattering a few hundred people under very, very strict COVID protocols. Will it make a sort of intimate cocktail party as opposed to a big flat-out awards show? And will the intimate idea carry the day or not?

Steven Soderbergh, who is a really accomplished director and Oscar winner, himself, this in essence is his idea, making the whole thing like a movie, he says. Of course, he made the "Oceans" films and a variety of caper films.

You've got a lot of high-profile stars in presenting positions, no hosts per se. But I tell you, to me the biggest mystery of tomorrow night is not who walks away with an Academy Award, but how this entire new approach will work.

And I think it's a dramatic flip of the coin. It is either going to be really innovative and interesting or it's going to seem like a pale imitation of a big-time award show.

BROWN: One thing won't change, though, of course, and that is who the Best Picture is going to be, Best Actor, Best Actress. Let's hear them.

RUBIN: Best Picture: every prognosticator suggests it would be "Nomadland," the Frances McDormand movie about the economic crisis. It's a very well-made, very affecting film. The Best Picture awards are done by a preferential ballot, so if that splits the vote, maybe the high profile "Trial of Chicago Seven" sneaks in. But I think you can bet the farm on "Nomadland."

Best Actor, very likely, all the precursors have gone to the late Chadwick Boseman. His widow has been beautiful and eloquent, and I think that could be an emotional high point, her speaking to the smaller group of people inside this train station tomorrow night.

Best Actress, that one is very difficult to call. That's the hardest category people think, Frances McDormand for "Nomadland." She will get an Oscar as a producer of "Nomadland" if it wins Best Picture, so does that open up voters' minds and hearts to Carey Mulligan, a promising young woman or Viola Davis, and I was talking to one Oscar voter over the weekend who said, you know, the thing about Viola Davis, all of these other actresses are respected, their performances are good. She is beloved.

So maybe that helps her carry the day.

BROWN: We'll see. Let's talk about Best Director. For the first time ever, there are two women nominated for the category. How likely is it that one of them will take home a win?

RUBIN: It is very likely, Pamela. We think that Chloe Zhao who is essentially the person behind "Nomadland," writing the screenplay, directing the film, bringing the whole thing to life will be the first woman who has won a directing award. She won the DGA Award.

You know, they talk about the idea of trying to diversify Hollywood. There are very few female directors still. It would really be something if she would win and obviously, as a minority representative as well, there's not been an Asian woman who has ever been up for that award. It would really be something.

BROWN: All right, and final question to you, Sam. How has the pandemic changed the way Hollywood does business? RUBIN: Well, this would normally be a week of parties and

celebrations, and the run up to Oscar is really an extraordinary time out here. It's been a very quiet time out here.

And there's a lot of business usually transacted during awards season. All that has been put aside. They really want more than anything, Pamela, a safe event and we hope a really entertaining event. So fingers crossed for tomorrow.

BROWN: All right, fingers crossed. Sam Rubin, thank you so much.

And your next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


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