Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

CDC Unveils New Outdoor Mask Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Americans; Family Attorney Says, Autopsy Shows Andrew Brown Jr. Shot in Back of Head; Biden to Deliver First Address to Joint Session of Congress Tomorrow. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 27, 2021 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00]

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is the case that it would be very difficult to imagine that just these redrawing of lines that this is going to cause will sway the makeup of the House in 2022. It's really going to be about the cycle.

JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: Nathan Gonzales, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, grateful for your time. And grateful for your time today on this busy Inside Politics. We'll see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up right now.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: -- this could be a very useful fundraising tool for him as well.

ANA CABRERA, CNN NEWSROOM: Hello, and thanks for being with me on this Tuesday, I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

If you are fully vaccinated and still don't know what you can and cannot do, today, a little more clarity. The CDC now saying it is safe for vaccinated people to go unmasked outdoors for many activities, like exercising or meeting up with a small group. But when indoors, the CDC says keep the masks on, vaccinated or not.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky just speaking minutes ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: As we gather more and more data on the real world efficacy of vaccines, we know that masked, fully vaccinated people can safely attend worship services inside, go to an indoor restaurant or bar and even participate in an indoor exercise class.

The examples today show that when you are fully vaccinated, you can return to many activities safely, and most of them outdoors and unmasked and begin to get back to normal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Minutes from now, President Biden will have more to say about this. We will take his remarks live.

Let's bring in CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. And, Elizabeth, just lay out for us what else the CDC says vaccinated people can do safely.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. I think a lot of people, Ana, who have been vaccinated are like, all right, I've been vaccinated, what can I do now that I could not do before. And it's so important when the CDC comes out with this really because of messaging. The vaccination rates have hit a bit of wall in the United States and the CDC wants people to think, I should get vaccinated so that I can do X, Y, Z.

So let's take a look at some of the X, Y, Z. If you are fully vaccinated you do not need to wear a mask when at small outdoor gatherings even if some of the people at those gatherings are unvaccinated. Now, if you're unvaccinated, you should be wearing a mask in this circumstance. But if you're unvaccinated, sorry, you should still be wearing a mask in these circumstances, but if you're vaccinated take the mask off.

Also, let's say you're dining at an outdoor restaurant with people from multiple households, a couple families got together. If you're vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask, according to the CDC, but if you're unvaccinated, keep that mask on if you're dining outdoors with others so, you know, multiple households.

However, vaccinated people do still need to wear masks under certain circumstances. The CDC says even if you are vaccinated, keep that mask on at crowded outdoor events, such as concerts, and keep it on indoors, really, pretty much all the time, not at home, of course, but that it's important to keep wearing it indoors at malls or at restaurants, et cetera.

Now, as we just heard Dr. Walensky say, at least they feel like it's safer, you can be indoors, wear a mask, do those things when you're vaccinated but they feel that it's safer given the science that they're looking at. So the bottom line here is that there are more things you can do when you're vaccinated and still be safe and there are times when it's okay to take that mask off if you've been fully vaccinated. Ana?

CABRERA: Let's talk about how it differs then for people who aren't fully vaccinated. Because I think a lot of people hear what you just said and are thinking that almost seems obvious and especially they're saying, keep your masks on for a lot of these activities still. Is it different for people who are unvaccinated?

COHEN: Well, so according to -- I want to keep in mind here, this is all advice, right? I mean, really, the reality is people kind of do whatever they want, whether they're vaccinated or not, not that that's so smart. But the CDC is saying, let's say you're sitting at an outdoor restaurant and you're eating, if you are vaccinated, you can take that mask off. If you are unvaccinated, you should keep that mask on. And so that's just sort of an example where there's a difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The hope is, is that unvaccinated people will hear that and think, wait a minute, when I'm at an outdoor restaurant, I want to take my mask off too, even though I'm not vaccinated. Maybe they'll hear this news and think, well, maybe I should get vaccinated because the CDC is making this distinction. That's the hope is that unvaccinated people will hear this and be inspired to get vaccinated. It's not clear to me that this kind of guidance is really going to do that. Because, as you said, some of this just seems like common sense.

CABRERA: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, we appreciate that update. Thank you.

And now to North Carolina, and Andrew Brown Jr., he was shot in the back of the head by police. That is according to an independent autopsy conducted on behalf of his family.

[13:05:03]

It was presented just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WAYNE KENDALL, ATTORNEY FOR ANDREW BROWN JR. FAMILY: In summary, his death was caused by these officers with a bullet wound to the back of his head that caused him to lose control of that vehicle and crash into a tree. And I think once the video actually comes out, we're going to also find out that there were shots into that vehicle after it crashed into the tree and after he had been hit in the back of the head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: That same autopsy also showed that Brown had a total of five penetrating gunshot wounds.

Demonstrators protested peacefully in Elizabeth City last night, joining the family in demanding the public release of the entire police body cam video. The family says they were only shown a short 20-second clip yesterday, almost a week after the shooting.

CNN's Brian Todd is in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, for us. And, Brian, it was an emotional press conference we heard today. You can sense frustration and pain and grief and just a desire to know more. Take us through what we learned.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, we learned that this was just a brutal shooting, and we get more jarring information every time we hear from the family because we're not getting information from the local county attorney, we're not getting information from the sheriff's office. So we have to rely on the family who has viewed that body camera footage and now has hired a pathologist for their own private autopsy.

So what they have said was, as you stated in your intro there, that Andrew Brown was shot a total of five times, four of those shots hit him in the right arm. And the family attorney say that those were not lethal shots that were fired. They have said that the shot that killed him was the shot to the back of the head that they say, according to their autopsy, entered the back of his neck, at the base of his neck, and then penetrated his skull and his brain.

This is what the son of Andrew Brown, Khalil Ferebee, had to say about this latest autopsy finding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KHALIL FEREBEE, SON OF ANDREW BROWN JR.: To my pops, man, yesterday, I said he was executed. This autopsy report showed me that was correct. Is that not enough? It's obvious he's trying to get away. It's obvious. And they're going to shoot him in the back of the head, man, that's not right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: And we also were told when we asked the attorneys for the family, you know, based on what you saw on the body camera footage, based on what you saw on the autopsy, do you have any information as to how many total shots were fired at Andrew Brown? Ben Crump, the attorney for the family, said they believe dozens of shots were fired at Mr. Brown.

And, again, the attorneys have described that body camera footage with some graphic detail, saying that Andrew Brown had his hands on the wheel, that he was trying to get away, that he was trying to evade the officers, not to strike them with a vehicle. He was actually trying to back up and get around them, to get away, and they kept firing at him.

And, again, one other interesting thing about the body camera footage that we learned yesterday from one of the attorneys was that when the footage actually starts, that 20 seconds, as little as you see there in 20 seconds, they believe that the shooting was still going on when that footage begins, Ana. So there could have been a lot more shots fired at him than we even realize.

CABRERA: Why aren't police telling us exactly what happened? Why aren't they coming forward with their version of the events, at least? Brian Todd in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, I appreciate your ongoing reporting there.

Joining us is Marq Claxton, he is the director of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance and a retired NYPD detective, and Areva Martin, CNN Legal Analyst and civil rights attorney.

Marq, according to the family and what they viewed in just 20 seconds video, plus their independent autopsy, they believe Andrew Brown Jr. was in his vehicle and attempted to drive away from the officers. What is the protocol for when that happens?

MARQ CLAXTON, DIRECTOR, BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT ALLIANCE: Well, there are clear rules and regulations as it pertains to fleeing felons, if you will. But the real variations of it is whether or not there's an actual case that Mr. Brown was a felon, whether Mr. Brown was actually the target, a subject of these warrants that we've heard about, whether or not Mr. Brown had prior contact, prior to the 20-second clip that the attorneys indicated, that they had viewed or an opportunity to view and analyze. There are so many questions.

And what's painfully dangerous in this particular case is the response of the North Carolina officials, from the sheriff's office to the county attorney. There seems to be, and the concern is whether or not there is a cover-up of some level going on there in Elizabeth City.

CABRERA: And to that point, Areva, the family and the community, they don't know exactly what happened. The family was supposed to view this video yesterday morning.

[13:10:00]

It was delayed so that authorities could apparently redact it. And when they finally saw the video, the family, they say it was 20 seconds long, from one police body camera, even though we know there were multiple officers on scene. The family attorney says that the faces of the officers were redacted, the weapons were redacted. Again, this is what the family is saying.

But that's all we have to go on right now because police aren't being transparent at all. What do you see as the impact?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. This is really shameful conduct on the part of those elected officials in Elizabeth City. As Marq said, it appears to be a cover-up. This sets this whole movement towards more transformative policing back decades, really, and definitely some years, when we have seen other police departments step up, be incredibly transparent, make available videotape, talk to the public, give them information. We're seeing the exact opposite in this case.

The family has every right to be frustrated, every right to be angry about what's happening. We know that there were multiple officers because we were told that seven or so were put on administrative leave. So we know there were at least seven body cameras that have some video that could be shown both to the family and to the public and not to do that in this situation in the climate that we are in, there's really no explanation or excuse for how this is being handled.

And we are left having to believe what the family is telling us because there is no other information being provided to the public. And this is not how you build community. This is not how you build positive relationships with a community, particularly when we're hearing from the family that this is yet another unarmed African- American man who's shot and killed by police in what appears to be an incredibly use of excessive force.

CABRERA: Seven people, you're right, who are on administrative leave right now, but two other officers resigned and one retired. So that's ten officers that we are told were involved in this search warrant, as we understand it.

Marq, and the family and attorneys today, they really emphasized making the distinction of Brown fleeing versus running for his life. Why is that important?

CLAXTON: It's vitally important, I think, because it really is determinative as to whether or not the police actions and the use of force was appropriate. In the past several weeks, there's been this conversation regarding proportionality and guidelines that are outlined in the use of force continuum that basically provide police officers -- professional police officers with the parameters in which they can operate and how much force should be used in each situation. And they have to make some critically important decisions at that time. And then so it is hugely relevant as to whether or not Mr. Brown was, in fact, running for his life, or attempted to elude or evade the police officers.

What is clear is that Elizabeth City is operating from an outdated playbook, and their lack of transparency and honesty is exacerbating tensions and will not be successful in eluding the truth. The truth is going to come out. It's just a matter of how it comes out and whether or not the city government -- and that includes the sheriff, who I think yesterday played good cop/bad cop situation with some of the family representatives.

That includes -- it's incumbent upon city government, all of the officials, to begin this march towards transparency so that they can try to instill some confidence in the process.

CABRERA: I'm going to talk with one of those city officials right now. Marq Claxton and Areva Martin, I appreciate both of you. Thank you.

And joining us now is Michael Brooks, he's on the phone, he's a city council member representing Elizabeth City's third ward. Thank you so much for being with us, Michael.

How do you think police have handled this situation?

MICHAEL BROOKS, ELIZABETH CITY, NORTH CAROLINA CITY COUNCIL (voice over): It's not the police. It's really the sheriff's department. But I think they have done a job that is not so good right now. I think they are really doing an injustice to the family and have them suffering through pain because of their lack zeal in going forward to trying to find the truth.

CABRERA: It has been a whole week since Andrew Brown Jr. was killed by the sheriff's office there. There's still so much we don't know. While a family autopsy showed Brown was shot five times, police didn't disclose how many times Brown was shot, exactly where he was shot or how many shots officers fired.

We don't know why officers thought lethal force was justified. We haven't seen the body cam or the dash cam footage. We don't know if Andrew Brown Jr. was armed.

[13:15:01]

Police haven't said one way or another. Police haven't confirmed how Brown died, although CNN independently obtained a copy of the death certificate. We still don't know the identities of the officers involved.

I could list even more, but why don't we have answers for these questions?

BROOKS: It appears at face value, even I'm sure for the family as they go through their pain, and me as an elected official, it seemed like something is being covered up. There's no transparency. That's a word I hear used so often. But the job of the sheriff's department and law enforcement is not only -- they have to also protect the safety of the citizens.

One of the problems -- the biggest problem I have is that the lack of concern for life, that was at an intersection for Roanoke and two roads that dissect off of Roanoke Avenue, just a few blocks from a school and a social service building.

And that's really aggravating. And a bullet went through the house that's right at the corner that the vehicle ended up in the yard, a bullet went inside of the house, broke a clock, broke a window and the police saw that, and the shell ended up in his kitchen. That could have been a life that's gone that's unwarranted. It shouldn't be that.

So --

CABRERA: There is a life that is gone and that is Michael Brooks' life, shouldn't they have been concerned about his as well?

BROOKS: Michael Brown.

CABRERA: Michael Brown's life. Excuse me, I was in Ferguson, Missouri, with Michael Brown. It's Andrew Brown Jr., forgive me.

BROOKS: Andrew Brown, yes. But I tell you, that was -- it really hurts. It is the 20-second clip, that's what it was. The family have been suffering in pain while they waited close to a week for a 20- second clip. That is the sting of injustice and it plagues the hearts of the family. Every time their heart beat, it intensifies in pain as they remember their loved one that appears being executed by law enforcement.

CABRERA: Councilman Michael Brooks, thank you for joining us. And I should mention I know the city council has also petitioned for the release of that body cam video. We know there is supposed to be a hearing in the case at least addressing the media petition for the public release of the video tomorrow, so we're going to stay on top of all of this. Again, my appreciation to Councilman Michael Brooks for joining us there.

President Biden is set to speak just minutes from now. We will bring his remarks live as he addresses the COVID-19 response and new guidelines released today by the CDC.

Plus, 2020 census data shaking up the nation's political landscape, what that means.

And no vaccinated teachers allowed? A private school in Miami is using debunked COVID myths to back up its ban on letting my employees who have gotten a shot from having contact with students.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:20:00]

CABRERA: It's a big week for President Biden as he closes the chapter on his first 100 days in office. He is also delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress. And that speech is a longstanding tradition, which Biden is no stranger to, but this year will be very different due to the pandemic. Attendants will be very limited, masks will be worn. Plus, for the first time ever, the president will be framed by two women, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is joining us from the White House. Phil, what are you learning about the president's message tomorrow?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, in just a few moments, we're going to hear from the president with a very specific set of remarks related to COVID relief and his administration's response.

You can view tomorrow night's joint address in Congress in primetime as kind of a more 30,000-foot view of things, obviously, a look back, a look back at more than 200 million doses of the vaccine delivered in those first 100 days, $160 million stimulus checks doled out in that first 100 days. But also a look forward, and I think that where things will get very interesting because of just how ambitious President Biden's plans are on the policy side of things over the course of the next several months.

He will actually be rolling out more than $1.5 trillion, what the White House is calling, human infrastructure plan, tomorrow, just in advance of the speech, will use the speech to talk about that proposal. You're talking about hundreds of billions of dollars for childcare funding, universal pre-K, free community college, paid family and medical leave, extensions of the child tax credit expansion that you saw in President Biden's COVID relief law, all huge components, big Democratic priorities that the president will be rolling out during that speech tomorrow.

What this means, it's really the second part of a more than $4 trillion spending proposal. He's already unveiled the infrastructure piece of this, the physical infrastructure, as well as home care funding along with this. But it just kind of underscores, while the president talks about what the White House believes they have accomplished over the first 100 days, it's very clear that they have a very, very high set of standards where they want to see in the days to come.

CABRERA: And that agenda, you laid out there sounds like an agenda that progressives will be cheering. Will the president's address reach across party lines?

MATTINGLY: You know, I think every time the president talks about negotiations on the legislative front, he talks about wanting to reach out to Republicans. Obviously, he's had several meetings in the Oval Office, bipartisan meetings related to the infrastructure plan, some related to the relief plan as well, and White House officials, I'm talking to, say they are bolstered to some degree by the fact Republicans put out a counterproposal to their initial first stage of their infrastructure proposal.

I think what the president -- what you will hear from the president, according to White House officials I've spoken to, is that the door is open.

[13:25:02]

But make no mistake about it, the red line the president has laid out throughout the course of his policy agenda is action is the one thing that's not negotiable. They want to move forward.

And it's very clear, the scale of what they want they want to do is much larger than what Republicans are looking to do right now. Whether or not they can find some middle ground there I think is very much an open question.

But you'll see the president talk about his willingness to talk across the aisle. Whether or not he's willing to deal, I think we'll still have to wait and find out.

CABRERA: Senator Tim Scott, who has been instrumental when it comes to negotiations over police reform, he will be giving the Republican response to President Biden's speech. What will you be watching for there?

MATTINGLY: I think police reform, which is expected to be a key component of President Biden's speech, is also going to be a key component of Senator Scott's speech. He's the lone African-American Republican senator. This has been an issue he's led on now for several years. He's in negotiations with Democrats right now. Certainly, that will likely be a component of what he talks about.

But I think he will also broaden things out as well. Obviously, he is a conservative. He wants to talk about conservative principles, he wants to talk about where Republicans and Democrats may be able to agree but also why he believes certain things the Biden administration is pursuing he believes are going in the wrong direction. He's somebody that Republicans inside the Senate conference, the 50 Republicans think very highly of, looked to on many issues. I think you're going to hear him try and highlight a lot of those and how they differ perhaps from where President Biden has gone in his first 100 days.

CABRERA: All right. Phil Mattingly at the White House for us, thank you, sir.

It happens once in a decade and the 2020 census data is now shaking up the nation's political landscape. The big takeaway, the south and the west are growing more powerful as more and more people are moving to those regions.

So let's bring in CNN's Kristen Holmes to break it all down. Kristen, who are the political winners and losers of last year's census survey?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, the first thing I want to note here is that this was not as big of a shift that could have happened and it was actually forecasted to be an even bigger shift than we saw.

Now, that being said, there were still clear winners and losers. And on the first look on paper, it looks like this is really great news for Republicans.

I want to touch on that big takeaway you mentioned first though. Take a look at where the seats were actually lost and gained. This is showing you where that political power in the United States is shifting. It is moving away from the northeast, away from that Rust Belt and into the south and west. The only state in the west that lost a seat was California, and that was to be expected.

Now, let's talk about the big winners. Texas is obviously the biggest winner here. It was the only state that gained more than one seat, at two. In terms of other winners, we saw Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon, all of them gaining one seat.

Now, in terms of losers, it goes back to exactly what we just said, that the northeast and Rust Belt are actually losing political power, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and then California.

Now, Ana, one thing I really want to point out here is New York, because this is really stunning. We hear talk about people saying that they don't think the census is that important. But in New York, if 89 more people, this narrow margin, and millions of people in New York had been counted, they wouldn't have lost a congressional seat. So that's something to really keep in mind, moving forward, as a country.

CABRERA: I guess another way to look at this too in terms of keeping perspective, is, you know, if this new map were to be what we use for the 2020 election, would it have changed anything?

HOLMES: Well, it's a good question. By all projections, Biden would have still won the election, which is good news for Democrats. However, it's also good news for Republicans because he would have lost electoral votes. One thing to note here is that Texas, North Carolina and Florida, those are all emerging as political powerhouses.

They're also all states that voted for Trump twice. That's likely to be about four electoral votes, which would wipe out the entirety of Hawaii, which is a Democratic-leaning state that also has only four electoral votes. So this is going to be more positive for Republicans.

But I do have one giant caveat before I start getting emails from statisticians and people who are redistricting. This is not a done deal yet. We still don't have all of the data that goes into redistricting. We're not going to see that until the fall. So we can't go dive into how exactly this is going to affect the House, for example, how are those races going to look, because we just don't know where the actual districts are going to be. However, Democrats are bracing themselves. Most of the state legislatures that do control this and that are part of these seats gained are run by Republicans, which means they're going to have control over what that redistricting actually looks like.

So, one of those things to keep in mind, Democrats are concerned here but it could have been worse.

CABRERA: Okay, Kristen Holmes, thank you.

Masks or no masks, today, things are a little clearer for people who have and have not been vaccinated. The president about to speak on this moments from now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:30:00]