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CNN NEWSROOM

Chauvin Prosecutor Says He wasn't Convinced He's Win the Case; Protesters Call for Justice in the Wake of Police Killings; President Biden to Mark 100-Day Milestone This Week; Interview with Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT) about Latest Shooting of an Unarmed Black Man; Japan Struggles to Vaccinate Ahead of Olympic Games; Interview with Governor Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) about Vetoing Gun Laws; Oscars 2021, Hollywood Celebrates Movies from the COVID Era. Aired 8- 9p ET

Aired April 25, 2021 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:02]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun now. Stop walking towards me. Stop walking towards me. Stop. Stop.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Calls for accountability after an unarmed black man is shot by a Virginia sheriff's deputy while on the phone with 911.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We got to put an end to these moments where the public questions where there is going to be accountability. I think there's no question that the American people in a bipartisan way realize and want that there will be some reform of the system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Millions of Americans who got the first shot of the vaccine are now missing that critical second dose.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We're having still about 60,000 new infections per day. That's a precarious level. And we don't want that to go up.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday.

And we begin tonight with a candid confession. The lead prosecutor in the trial against disgraced ex-cop Derek Chauvin says he was never convinced they were going to win the case until the verdict was finally read.

Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison spoke with "60 Minutes" a short time ago and CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is live tonight with the details. Hi, Adrienne.

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey they, Pamela. Like many Minnesotans and black Americans across the country, Attorney General Keith Ellison has experienced disappointment multiple times. Attorney General Ellison led the prosecution in the Derek Chauvin trial. And in that "60 Minutes" interview tonight he revealed for the first time publicly he had doubts about the case.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS' "60 MINUTES": Was there ever a time that you thought you could lose this case?

KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I was never convinced that we were going to win this case until we heard the verdict of guilty.

I remember what happened in the Rodney King case when I was a pretty young man, young lawyer. And I remember how devastated I felt when I heard that the jury acquitted those officers. Whenever an officer is charged with an offense particularly when the victim is a person of color, it's just rare that there is any accountability. And so there was every moment of this case, I thought, what are we missing? What haven't we done?

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROADDUS: But Ellison and the team he assembled worked over an 11- month period. Their job showcasing that video and explaining what happened in that video where we see and hear George Floyd pleading for his life on that video. We hear, according to Ellison, Floyd say at least 27 times that he could not breathe. Ellison also said in that interview tonight he and his team had to, quote, "act as if they didn't have any video."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELLEY: When you first heard the word guilty, you thought what?

ELLISON: Gratitude, humility, followed by a certain sense of I'll say satisfaction. It's what we were aiming for the whole time. I spent 16 years as a criminal defense lawyer, so I will admit I felt a little bad for the defendant. I think he deserved to be convicted but he's a human being.

PELLEY: Somehow I did not expect to hear from you a note of compassion for Derek Chauvin.

ELLISON: I'm not in any way wavering from my responsibility but I hope we never forget that people who are defendants in our criminal justice system that they're human beings. They're people. I mean, George Floyd was a human being. And so I am not going to ever forget that everybody in this process is a person.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) BROADDUS: And I wasn't surprised by Attorney General Keith Ellison's compassion. It speaks to his character and it's also a cornerstone of his faith. Meanwhile, tonight Derek Chauvin is behind bars. He's scheduled for sentencing in June -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right, Adrienne Broaddus, thank you so much. Reporting live for us from Minneapolis.

And happening now, days after an ex-police officer was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, protesters are marching in Los Angeles. They are marching in George Floyd's name, but also demanding justice for all victims of officer-involved deaths.

Paul Vercammen joins us on the scene for us. So, Paul, what are people telling you? What message do they want to send tonight?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the message that they're sending and they're marching right now down towards Los Angeles, the message that they are sending is yes, this was a verdict that they wanted very much.

[20:05:03]

They were thrilled to hear about it. But they say this is just the start. And as we look ahead, you can see they've taken up the entire side of Third Street. This is near the Grove Shopping Center in Los Angeles. And their point is they say they want to watch what's going to happen with the George Floyd's sentencing. They want to make sure that he gets a very severe sentence. And they said that they are watching all of these other officer-involved shootings around the United States and they're calling for reform.

Now there's a wide -- a wide variety in a crosscut of opinions here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not reform. Abolition.

VERCAMMEN: And you can hear -- go ahead, we'd like to ask you about that. Well, as you can hear he was chanting abolition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shout abolition and you say reform. It's abolition. Not reform. We do not need police.

VERCAMMEN: That's one of the sentiments here is that they want the complete defunding of police and that is again one of the opinions. We heard a lot about the George Floyd sentencing as I told you and in fact one of the protesters said that they were wishing he was not in a protective custody situation, that he was among the general population so he would get what's coming to him.

As I said right now, Pam, we are going down Third Street here in Los Angeles. It started in Pan Pacific Park. And this is also where very late last May we saw a riot, a breakout and a standoff between protesters and police.

Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now, back to you, Pam.

BROWN: Yes. We remember that.

All right, Paul Vercammen, thanks so much for bringing us the latest there. Live from Los Angeles.

Meantime, the family of a black man shot and killed by deputies last week in North Carolina may have a chance to watch body cam footage tomorrow. That's what their attorney tells CNN tonight. Few details have been released in the shooting of 42-year-old Andrew Brown Wednesday in Elizabeth City. The sheriff's office says deputies were trying to serve him with an arrest warrant at the time. Now seven deputies have been placed on leave. The sheriff says he plans to file a court motion to get the footage released to the public.

And the trial for a former local police officer charged in the connection with Breonna Taylor's shooting has been pushed to February of next year. Taylor, a 26-year-old aspiring nurse, was shot and killed by local officers in her own home during a botched police raid in March of 2020. No charges have been brought in her death.

Former officer Brett Hankinson is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing multiple shots that entered a neighbor's apartment and endangered three people. The judge says his trial day has to be pushed back because of a backlog of trials caused by the pandemic.

And still to come this hour, we have a lot. The family of an African- American man wounded in a police shooting claims the officer mistook the phone he was holding for a gun.

And then coming up tonight, I'm going to ask Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson what meaningful police and gun law reforms looked like.

And we have new reporting now in Japan tonight where the faltering COVID vaccine rollout is threatening to cripple the country leaving the faith of the Olympics uncertain.

But first, President Biden's big moment as he prepares to plant his flag and lay out his agenda at an historic speech to Congress. CNN politics editor-at-large Chris Cillizza is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:12:37]

BROWN: Well, President Biden will deliver his first speech before a Joint Session of Congress on Wednesday. His 99th day in office. And the president is expected to lay out his administration's priorities during the speech including infrastructure, police reform and a new child care plan. All part of an agenda he hopes to pass even with the slimmest of majority in the Senate.

Joining me now to discuss CNN political commentator Chris Cillizza.

Chris, great to see you on this Sunday evening.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Hey, Pam.

BROWN: Thanks for spending it with us instead of watching the Oscars right now. What does the president need to accomplish with this speech in your view?

CILLIZZA: Yes, I mean, look, I think the first 100 days obviously is a marker. And we've actually seen a lot of action in the first 100 days. $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus. Obviously, Joe Biden setting a mark on COVID vaccines and meeting it. The rest of his presidency, right, the first 100 days we focus a lot on but it's 100 days out of four years.

The rest of his presidency I think candidly is going to be more challenging at least legislatively speaking. You mentioned in the intro really been majority. They have 50 seats in the Senate which means that Joe Manchin, Kirsten Sinema, these folks can tilt one way or the other and decide how legislation goes. He's got to do more convincing. He would love to have a few things be bipartisan, most notably the infrastructure bill about $2 trillion that's going to be proposed.

So I think a lot of what you saw in the first 100 days, Pam, was things he could do, right? They could pass this stimulus bill because they had 50 votes for it. He could rescind a lot of things Donald Trump did. He could rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, for example, and the World Health Organization. The next rest of his presidency, at least first term, is going to be a lot of, can he cajole and convince people, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and the House, to get on board with an agenda that he can simply sign and make happen?

BROWN: How does he do that with Republicans in particular when he has this plan for one, calling for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans to combat poverty and expand child care? How do you expect that to go over?

CILLIZZA: Yes, it's going to be really high. Difficult. The corporate tax rate is going significantly down, too. It's going to be something that obviously the business world is going to fight in the infrastructure plan. And if you don't do that, you don't finance it, and therefore it doesn't work.

[20:15:04]

Look, Joe Biden came into office, Pam, and ran and spent most of his Senate career as sort of a pragmatic deal-maker. Right? I mean, he was the guy in the Obama administration when he was VP who would cut deals with then Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to keep the government open, to, you know, to finance a budget, et cetera, et cetera. Can he play that role as president after these 100 days and with a Republican Party that is still absolutely loyal to Donald Trump who by the way continues to fight election results and places like Arizona?

Elections have been over for a long time. We're talking about Joe Biden's first 100 days in office. I think the issue here is Joe Biden, the incentive for Republicans to cooperate with Joe Biden is very low. The disincentive, Pam, is very high because Donald Trump will attack them. They can lose in primaries. And that's something that Joe Biden can't control. He can't control how Republicans think about working with them.

And that's why I think the next 100, 200, 300 days are going to be a lot more challenging for him. Obviously the first 100 days dealing with COVID was hugely challenging, but challenging in a different way in terms of trying to be a deal-maker with a party in the Republicans who I'm not sure want to make any deals.

BROWN: And Democrats view as the White House knows that things could change in 2022. Right? So they don't have a lot of time to try to get these --

CILLIZZA: Well --

BROWN: Go ahead.

CILLIZZA: That's -- you're exactly -- I mean, look, if history is a guide and you know, I always say if because Donald Trump getting elected may have broken history, at least as we think of it in terms of politics.

BROWN: That's a good point.

CILLIZZA: In terms of political history, and say, these things that used to be true in the past maybe they're not in the future. But if political history is a guide, the first midterm election of a president, 2022 for Joe Biden, almost always sees significant House seat losses and some Senate seat losses. Democrats don't have a lot of seats they can lose in the House, six, to lose the majority. And if they lose any seats in the Senate, they lose the majority.

So I think what you're seeing to your point is, liberals really want to get everything possible done between now and November 2022 because they know if history is a guide, they're going to have split control of the House and Senate, maybe Republicans get control of the House and Senate come 2023. Obviously, that would complicate anything getting done between then and the 2024 election. You've got to think ahead in politics. I know people don't want to think of 2022 much less 2024. But if you're planning it out --

BROWN: But it matters for what's happening now. Yes.

CILLIZZA: It absolutely does. Yes.

BROWN: All right. And thanks for breaking it down for us, Chris Cillizza. As always, appreciate you coming on.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Pam.

BROWN: Well, President Joe Biden gives his first address to a Joint Session of Congress. Join Jake Tapper, Abby Philip, Dana Bash, Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer for CNN's special live coverage starting Wednesday night at 8:00.

Well, tonight, a Virginia family is demanding more answers about why a sheriff's department shot an unarmed black man. It's another high- profile shooting that involves law enforcement. What needs to happen for these to stop?

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes from the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:22:38]

BROWN: Well, this hour there is growing outrage and calls for police accountability after an unarmed black man in Virginia was shot and seriously wounded. 32-year-old Isaiah Brown remains in serious condition after his family says he was shot 10 times by a deputy on Wednesday. State police say the same deputy had given Brown a ride home just an hour earlier, and then returned to respond to a domestic incident.

Now in the 911 call released Friday, you hear sirens approaching, the dispatcher instructing Brown to hold his hands up, and that's where this audio picks up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isaiah, are you holding your hands up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me your hands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Put your hands up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me your hands now. Show me your hands. Drop the gun. Drop the gun now. Stop walking toward me. Stop walking toward me. Stop. Stop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just shot him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me your hands. Show me your hands. Drop the gun. Drop the gun.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: A family attorneys claims the deputy mistook the cordless house phone Brown was holding for a gun. Here's what the deputy's body camera shows, and we want to warn you some viewers may find this video disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got a gun to his head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the gun now. Stop walking toward me. Stop walking toward me. Stop. Stop.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Family attorneys are calling on this Spotsylvania County sheriff's office to release audio between their dispatcher and the deputy. The deputy's identity has not been released.

And tonight Congresswoman Jahana Hayes joins us now to discuss all of this. She is a Democrat from Connecticut and deputy whip for the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

First, Congresswoman, thank you for coming on the show, for sharing your time with us. I want to ask you about this latest shooting of an unarmed black man in Virginia. Isaiah Brown's family attorney claims the deputy mistook Brown's phone for a gun before shooting him 10 times. We're still waiting for more information and evidence to back all of this up. But I want to get your reaction to what we've seen and heard so far in the body cam footage and 911 call.

[20:25:03]

REP. JAHANA HAYES (D-CT): Well, thank you for having me, and I wasn't even aware of this most recent shooting. I have to say that the frequency that we're seeing, unarmed black men killed by police, is jarring. But on a case-by-case basis, I hadn't even -- I wasn't even aware of this last incident that you just showed.

BROWN: Well, I know that you are aware of one case and that of course is the George Floyd case and what happened recently with former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who was convicted in the murder of George Floyd. And you released this statement following the verdict. You said in part, "Today justice was articulated through accountability. Today is a moment of reflection for our entire country. Tomorrow we resume the work and recommit ourselves towards building a more just nation."

So where exactly does this country go from here? What is the next step?

HAYES: I have to say, I didn't even realize I was internalizing that I was preparing for a not guilty verdict. I didn't even realize that -- but leading up to it, I could just was a range of emotions. So when the guilty verdict came out, there was just a moment of reflection where I realized that so many people in this country just expect for even though we see something on camera, even though we're waiting for the verdict to be had, that none of that will matter.

Moving forward, I think that's why the work that we do is so important. We have to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act for reform and training and accountability to make sure that there is an amicable relationship and a working relationship between law enforcement and our communities. And I say that from a very intimate perspective. I have three black sons and my husband is 25 years on the police force.

So I don't take any of this work lightly. I know how difficult his work is but as a mother, I can't imagine the pain of losing a child to this kind of violence. BROWN: So if you would, to ask you a more personal questions on that

note, what is it like for you? What has it been like for you watching these videos, unarmed black men being shot by police as a mother of three sons. What is that like for you? What does it feel like?

HAYES: It's difficult. It's very difficult to articulate. This was actually a conversation I just recently had with my staff. I said, I am a mother. I am a mother of black sons. It is impossible for me to explain to you what this feels like. One of the things that I worry about is in the time that it takes for my children to identify themselves or even my husband to identify that he is law enforcement, off duty holding a firearm or carrying a gun, in the seconds that it takes in this culture that we are in, there could be an incident of violence.

So those are the types of things that are deeply disturbing to me. And again just the frequency with which we're seeing these incidents happening. It's almost on a daily basis that -- I mean, we couldn't get through the George Floyd trial, we were waiting for the verdict when the Daunte Wright case came up. It just -- the residual trauma that is coming as a result of this is just unbearable.

We have to pass justice in policing to offer the proper training, to reform our law enforcement departments, to give them the support that they need and to rebuild the trust that we have within our communities.

BROWN: I want to ask you about guns before we let you go. The U.S. has seen more than 45 mass shootings since the middle of March. So far, though, no gun reform laws passed in Congress. When will this country see bipartisan gun reform legislation become law?

HAYES: We have to do it now. It's long past time that this needs to happen. Any conversation about commonsense gun reform is seen as an affront to Second Amendment rights. I support the Second Amendment. I think that legal gun owners should be able to do that responsibly. But if you're going to own a gun, you have to store it responsibly. You have to pass background checks.

We have to hold people to -- there's a mandate right now to make sure that we are keeping our communities safe, and we have to be able to pass legislation in a bipartisan way. People should not have to choose between supporting the Second Amendment or keeping our community safe. We can do both. It is not a binary choice. And we have to have a comprehensive approach. In 2021, we've already had 159 mass shootings. That's 159 too many. And last year 43,000 people killed as a result of gun violence. Anybody who sees this as politics is not looking at -- is not seeing what I'm seeing.

[20:30:04]

We have to address this and we have to do it now. We currently don't event collect data on school shootings because people say, you know, that's an attack on Second Amendment rights. It is not. These are what responsible gun owners want, 90 percent of the people in this country agree with background checks. This should be bipartisan and it has to happen now.

BROWN: Yes, you're citing that Quinnipiac poll that just came out recently.

All right, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, thank you for the discussion. We appreciate it.

HAYES: Thanks for having me.

BROWN: Well, coronavirus surges are hitting countries like India so hard right now. So will the U.S. send vaccines to those places? I ask the White House senior adviser for COVID Response to that. His answer is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: COVID-19 is devastating India. The Biden administration is announcing today that it will send supplies to help out.

[20:35:02]

In fact, we're just now learning that the Defense Department will provide support to India for its COVID response. And just a short time ago, I spoke with White House senior adviser for COVID Response, Andy Slavitt, and I pressed him on why one critical item is not on the list of supplies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: I want to ask you about world events, The White House announced the U.S. is working to send support to India as they deal with this major spike in COVID. Test kits, ventilators, personal protective equipment, they were all part of this relief plan. But what about vaccines beyond funding vaccine manufacturing in India? Only 1.59 percent of their population is fully vaccinated. Tens of millions of AstraZeneca vaccines are currently gathering dust in the U.S. Will the administration release some of them to India and other countries struggling right now?

ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: So I want to just make sure we're very clear about this. The U.S. is back in the global stage. We're back leading. We are in a position increasingly where we are more and more confident that Americans are going to have the vaccines they need. Once that's the case, we've always said that what we're going to do is then make sure that we turn our attention to making sure we help the world.

We're not only going to be able to fund more vaccines. We've already unilaterally given vaccines to two countries. But we're also going to start manufacturing and exporting vaccines. It's going to create jobs here in the U.S. And for places like India that are hot spots, our National Security Team, USAID, our COVID Response Team, we are in constant communication with them, figuring out their needs.

I think you're going to continue to see the announcement you saw today as a major step forward and some of the things we're doing to help India both in the short term and long term.

BROWN: So I want to circle back on vaccines. Is there a plan right now to send those AstraZeneca vaccines, some of them to India?

SLAVITT: When we made the decisions on what we are going to do with additional vaccines, about exporting them, we'll announce them. We're not going to announce anything here. But we are in constant communications, we're evaluating all these options. And we'll give you a satisfactory answer.

BROWN: OK.

SLAVITT: But understand that we got teams of people working on it.

BROWN: But it sounds like it's under discussion at least, is what I hear from you.

SLAVITT: Everything is on the table, absolutely.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And today India confirmed nearly 350,000 new coronavirus cases. That is a world record since the start of the pandemic and the result is that India's healthcare system is collapsing. Hospitals are overloaded and are experiencing widespread shortages of basic medical supplies. The country is running short on oxygen in particular. Some hospitals are rationing oxygen for patients while others have simply run out of it all together. Just horrible.

And coronavirus variants are also putting Japan in a tight spot. The Olympics are set to begin at the end of July but four major areas are now under a states of emergency and very few Japanese citizens have been evacuated.

CNN's Selina Wang has more from Tokyo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Tokyo Olympics are just three months away but Japan is far from ready. The country is struggling to contain a fourth wave of COVID-19 driven by more contagious variants. The prime minister has just declared another state of emergency in Tokyo and other prefectures.

Japan may be one of the most technologically advanced countries on the planet but it has struggled to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine. Japan has fully vaccinated less than 1 percent of its 126 million people, the slowest of G7 countries. Only 17 percent of healthcare workers have received two shots. Just 0.1 percent of senior citizens have had a single dose.

(On-camera): Do you think the Olympics should be cancelled?

KENJI SHIBUYA, INSTITUTE FOR POPULATION HEALTH, KING'S COLLEGE LONDON: I think it is time to consider it, and eventually cancelled.

WANG: If you had to predict when Japan's population will be fully vaccinated, I mean, how long is it going to be?

SHIBUYA: Given the kind of pace, it would take 10 years or something?

WANG (voice-over): Officials have blamed European export curbs for the delay. But red tape, poor planning and vaccine hesitancy have also held the country back.

A key reason is Japan's slow approval process. The country requires additional domestic clinical trials of new vaccines. So far it's only approved Pfizer's. Officials say the cautiousness is necessary. Japan has one of the lowest rates of vaccine confidence in the world driven by a series of vaccine scandals over the past 50 years.

A key lawmaker said vaccinations for people over 65 which only started this month may not be finished until end of this year or next.

For Japanese Olympic hopefuls, the slow rollout is leading to mounting anxiety. 73-years-old Kimie Bessho is vying to be in her fifth Summer Paralympic Games. A competition she says she's risking her life for.

[20:40:05]

"I'm prepared to die under these circumstances," she tells me. "But I don't want to die of COVID."

The qualifiers for Paralympic table tennis are just weeks away in Slovenia. Bessho says she's called local health center many times. They say they still have no plan to provide vaccines. Despite public opposition to the games in Japan, officials have projected unwavering confidence.

"I express my determination to realize that Tokyo Olympics and the Paralympic Games as a symbol of global unity this summer. And President Biden once again expressed his support," he said.

The question is what kind of symbol the Olympics will be if Japan is unable to protect its citizens.

Selina Wang, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And up next, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed a bill that could have blocked federal gun laws in his state. The governor joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:45:29]

BROWN: Well, as America's gun violence epidemic rages on, Republicans in the Senate and a few moderate Democrats are standing in the way of a background check bill that is supported by some 90 percent of Americans. Meantime, some state Republicans are taking preemptive action should such a law make it through Congress. Arizona passed a law that would block federal gun laws from being enforced in the state and in Arkansas, a similar bill made it to the Republican governor's desk, but he vetoed it.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson joins me now to discuss this.

Governor, nice to see you. Thank you for coming on the show.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): It's great to be with you this evening. Thank you.

BROWN: If you would, explain your veto decision here, knowing that your state's GOP-controlled legislature is just going to override it and they'll probably do it tomorrow. Walk us through it.

HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, I identify completely with the concern expressed by the legislature that they're very worried that the Biden administration, that Washington is going to come along and pass more restrictions on gun ownership that they believe and I believe would violate the Second Amendment. And so that's the reason whether it's Arizona or Montana and other states considering these laws.

Now the reason I vetoed it is that the bill that was before me went too far. It actually would criminalize a law enforcement officer, a state and local officer who cooperated with federal authorities. And it would also remove their immunity as well. And so that would destroy our task forces, our cooperation, the partnership that's so essential. And that element was not in the bills that were passed by the other states.

So I think it's important to note that the reason to veto was because this bill went too far and would hurt law enforcement, would penalize them unnecessarily, and would really hurt public safety. But the other thing is that this illustrates the worry that's out there and real Americans, states like Arkansas, about the effort to further restricts Second Amendment rights. I hope that we can reach a compromise and expresses the frustration, does some good on protection but doesn't go too far.

BROWN: And let's talk a little bit more about that. First off, I want to get your -- more of your views on the background check bill. The universal background check bill that is in front of the Senate right now, languishing in the Senate, passed in the House. Do you think it should be passed or no?

HUTCHINSON: No. I don't. I don't believe that's the answer to the violent crime that we see across America. And we always should ask the fundamental question when you're considering an idea, will it make a difference? And, you know, we do believe an effective background checks, but we have one in place. It's supposed to be instantaneous. That's the foundation of it. And so to modify that, I don't believe will be helpful.

Whenever you look at the other proposals on there, the limitations on magazine capacity, these are things that the normal responsible gun owners utilized. We don't need to burden them with further restrictions and that's where I don't see it going anywhere.

BROWN: So I want to talk a little bit more about the background checks specifically. You were saying you don't believe it could make a difference. But if it could even make a little bit of a difference to cut down on mass shootings, if it can prevent a gun from hanging up in a criminal's hands, wouldn't that be worth it? I mean 80 percent of guns obtained for criminal purposes were acquired through unlicensed sellers according to Giffords Law Center.

As you know, that's what this bill is trying to close, that loophole where there would have to still be a background check. And the public widely supports this. So why wouldn't you support something that the public supports, that could keep the guns out of hands of criminals?

HUTCHINSON: Well, you can always look for better ways to do it. But in fact, when you're looking at real estate and you want to transfer ownership of a firearm to a neighbor, should you have to go 30 miles down the road, to find a license firearm dealer, to check the transaction out. That's a burden on gun ownership. It's a burden on responsible citizens. And so -- and that's where it's not going to make a difference. Criminals are always going to get the firearms that they want.

[20:50:02]

They can steal them, they can get them off the black market, they can get those, and so you're putting a burden on average citizens and not accomplishing and keeping it out of the hands of criminals. What we've got to do is make sure the data is in, the checks that we do. We've got to make sure that we concentrate on mental health issues in our country. These are some positive things that we can do that will make a difference.

BROWN: So I want to talk a little bit more about this because you're saying that criminals are going to find a gun any which way. But several studies have shown states with stricter gun laws do have fewer gun deaths. As you know, in Arkansas has a high rate of gun deaths. Recent data shows it has one of the country's highest rates of gun deaths per 100,000 people. Roughly four times higher than a state like New York that has stricter gun laws.

So for all the -- for your argument about protecting the Second Amendment, what do you say to those who would come back to you and argue -- oh, did we just lose him? Darn it. We just lost Governor Hutchinson. We had much more to discuss there. Unfortunately we lost his connection.

Coming up, our Chloe Melas is up next with the early results from the Oscars. Plus Regina King's moving words on America's racial reckoning. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:55:58]

BROWN: Well, the Oscars are underway. The results are coming in and winners are being announced.

CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas joins me now. So, Chloe, what have been your big takeaways so far?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Pamela. Well, listen, I mean, we have been anticipating this since the Oscars was pushed back two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's a much more intimate, scaled down evening. And I want to talk first about Regina King. She kicked off the show. It was powerful. And she spoke about the Derek Chauvin trial. And she said, you know, listen, I know people don't like it when celebrities got political but I am not sorry. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REGINA KING, ACTRESS: I have to be honest if things have gone differently this past week in Minneapolis, I may have traded in my heels for marching boots. Now --

(APPLAUSE)

KING: I know that a lot of you people at home want to reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you. But as a mother of a black son, I know the fear that so many live with and no amount of fame or fortune changes that.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

MELAS: Her movie is actually nominated this year, Pamela, "One Night in Miami." You know, there is no host this year. I actually talked to Billy Crystal earlier this week who said it's a mistake to not have a host. And you know, he's hosted nine times after all. But Regina did a great job carrying this through. The first part of the show.

There have been some other big wins tonight. I want to tell you about Best Supporting Actor. It went to Daniel Kaluuya for "Judas and the Black Messiah." That category had three actors, black actors, nominated this year. He paid tribute to Fred Hampton in his speech. His mother was crying in the audience. A really special touching moment.

BROWN: And obviously this year is different because of the pandemic. They've had to sort of switch the script if you will. So did the award ceremony live up to the hype this different ceremony?

MELAS: I hate to be critical but I have been waiting for this, right, as an entertainment reporter and Steven Soderbergh was one of the three producers, and I was told that this is going to be like a movie, and so far they haven't really played any clips of movies. They're just talking about the movies. In award shows past we watched clips of the movies that are been nominated. That isn't happening.

You know, look, ratings have been down over the last few years, Pamela. And I would assume that this year won't be much different but there is a big push to get people back to theaters. That is their big message tonight is that hopefully it will be safe for people to go back to theaters when they open near you.

BROWN: All right, Chloe, we all hope that. Thanks so much. Appreciate you coming on tonight.

MELAS: Thank you.

BROWN: And we want to leave you with this on this Sunday. NASA's dynamic duo, hardest work on Mars. The Ingenuity helicopter made its third flight today, going further and faster than ever before, while the Perseverance rover beamed back images. NASA is testing out the helicopter's navigation system, cataloguing incredible images of the Martian surface and trying to determine how feasible life is on a planet with a vastly different atmosphere than our own.

And don't forget that you can tweet me at PamelaBrownCNN. Also be sure to follow me on Instagram. Thank you so much for joining me on this Sunday evening. I'm Pamela Brown. Of course I will see you again next weekend. "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" is up next.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: This is Jared Steven Leone. He's 18. He's in city hall in Beaverton, Oregon, and according to him he's high on mushrooms. He starts to fight with some cops. They all wrestle and then Jared grabs a cop's gun and shoots it.