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Federal Prosecutors Indict 3 Men in Death of Ahmaud Arbery; CNN on Streets of India During "Apocalyptic" Explosion of COVID Cases; Gov. Spencer Cox (R-UT) Discusses Police Reform, Biden's Big, Bold Economic and Infrastructure Plan; "Story of Late Night" Premieres Sunday at 9 P.M. Eastern. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 29, 2021 - 13:30   ET



CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: This is something that should have taken place last year but I'm glad it's happening now.

Clearly, that was a shooting that never should have taken place. That man should be alive today.

And a lot of people don't realize, Brunswick, Georgia is also the site of the federal law enforcement training center. That could very well have been a federal agent that went out for a jog that they wound up killing.

I mean, it's just -- the whole case is something that the Justice Department needed to look into, and I'm glad they did.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Jennifer, what do prosecutors need to prove? What is the standard for hate crimes?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's a challenging standard, Ana. That's one of the reasons you don't see that many federal hate crimes prosecutions.

Prosecutors have to prove that the reason for the crime was the victim's race, that, in fact, what they did to him was because he was black.

So if the person isn't literally screaming racial epithets at the victim as the person is being killed, it's hard to do that.

So we will see evidence of social media postings, communications indicating that the defendants were racist.

There's also reporting that one of the defendants was standing over Arbery's body and used a racial slur. That's the sort of evidence prosecutors will use.

And they'll encourage jurors to use their common sense, and just say to them, listen, if this man was white, do you really think that they would have done this to him? And to get a conviction.

CABRERA: Jennifer, does it seem like the DOJ is getting more aggressive on prosecuting racially charged cases? And how long does it usually take to litigate this?

RODGERS: Without question, they're being more aggressive. To the commissioner's point, the Trump administration prosecuted virtually no hate crimes. But, honestly, in administrations before that, they weren't prevalent either.

Usually, federal officials will wait and see whether state officials will bring a case and if they can get a conviction first. And that hasn't happened here. The state case is also pending.

It will take about the amount of time a case normally takes in the federal system.

But in this case, they will wait until the state prosecution is finished. So they'll wait for that state trial, which should be later this year. And then the feds will pick it up after that.

CABRERA: Commissioner, the families and attorneys of several victims are meeting with Senators right now, including Tim Scott, a Republican, Cory Booker, a Democrat, today.

That includes George Floyd's brother, Philonise, the civil rights attorney, Ben Crump, who has been on a whole number of cases involving the deaths of African-American men and women.

And many more other victims and lawyers are also a part of these conversations.

What do you hope will come of this sit down?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, I hope something comes from it. Now the time to pass meaningful legislation.

I've read the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. There are a couple points there, that, you know, I hope they can work out but I have a bit of a problem with.

But there's one glaring omission in my opinion. There's absolutely nothing in there that deals with leadership development in policing.

I mean, if we really want lasting change, in policing, then we have to be able to face the fact that there's no real system in place to develop the leaders of the future in policing, at all levels, first line supervisor all the way up to chief.

I mean, good chiefs, the sheriffs are more by chance than by design. That should not be. And so there's an opportunity to include that in this legislation.

CABRERA: And Commissioner Ramsey, as you were saying, that made me think of what you represent to just the men and women, the rank and file, and where you are able to get in your career as a commissioner of a major city of a -- the chief of Washington, D.C.

I mean, hats off to you in the -- what you had to face as you climbed the ladder, so to speak, and were able to put yourself in a position of leadership, and we're all better because of it.

Thanks for being us.

Jennifer Rodgers, as always thank you as well.

I appreciate both of your expertise and insights that you're able to share with us.


Let's talk about what's happening right now in India, with new cases of coronavirus just skyrocketing. The images there are difficult to watch. Hospitals being pushed to the brink. And crematoriums, unable to keep up with the demand. We'll go there, live, next.



CABRERA: What a difference a week makes. Take a look at this graph. New cases of the coronavirus dropping. We ended yesterday averaging nearly 52,600 new cases a day in the U.S. That is down 17 percent from last week, and it's the lowest we've seen since mid-October.

So there are other signs that we may soon be returning to normal. Tonight, the NFL draft will be in person after going virtual last year.

The Kentucky Derby is back this weekend with fans. Atlanta set to allow full capacity at two sports stadiums beginning May 7th.

Disneyland is preparing for Friday's grand reopening. And New York City's mayor just announcing today the city will fully reopen on July 1st.

But it's hard to feel too good about this, as we witness what is happening in India.

The skyrocketing surge in new cases of COVID there is prompting the U.S. government to urge all Americans in India to leave as soon as possible.

Coronavirus is spreading so fast. Yesterday, India hit a new record of more than 3,600 deaths in one day.


Graphics, apocalyptic images coming in from New Delhi that may be difficult to watch. But it's important you see the reality.

Crematoriums are running out of space, forcing them to build makeshift funeral pyres in parks and other public areas. CNN's Sam Kiley is there.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a crematorium where the dead have to join a queue. Their relatives or friends have a take tickets from an office to get access to the crematorium that is dealing with about 150 people a day.

Almost all of them victims of the COVID pandemic, a pandemic that the government seems to indicate earlier this year had somehow passed India by.

That India has somehow reached a level of herd immunity that even countries that are vaccinated on a vast scale have not reached.

Now India is an exporter of vaccines.

People here squarely blame the government for this catastrophe that has unfolded.

And this, after all, is a nation that can put aircraft carriers at sea, that has a space program, that is the center for many international corporations of I.T. and development.

But is also a country where there are catastrophic differences between the very rich and the very poor.

And here it's been extremely because a lot of victims of this pandemic have been middle class. They're the ones perhaps who can afford to have their families burn in a facility like this.

And it may indicate one of the reasons as to why a lot of the estimates for the number of dead and the number of people in India who have been infected may be woefully inadequate.

Sam Kiley, CNN, New Delhi.


CABRERA: That is so heartbreaking to see those images.

Sam, thank you for your reporting.

President Biden is now asking Congress to act on police reform by next month. But will Republicans back his plans? I'll talk to one Republican governor who has championed this issue.



CABRERA: President Biden urging Congress to act now on police reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve.

To root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system, and to enact police reform in George Floyd's name, that passed the House already.

I know Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in a very productive discussion with Democrats in the Senate. We need to work together to find a consensus.

But let's get it done next month, by the first anniversary of George Floyd's death.



CABRERA: Utah's Republican Governor Spencer Cox is with us now.

Governor, it's great to have you with us.

You just signed into law a dozen police reform bills. And we'll talk about that in just a second.

But I couldn't help but notice, in that clip we just showed, the current lack of Republican enthusiasm. They weren't on their feet.

As someone who has prioritized this issue, what's your reaction to that?

GOV. SPENCER COX (R-UT): My reaction is, welcome to Congress. This is what happens. And it happens all the time.

If the Democrat says something, Republicans aren't supposed to cheer. And if Republicans say something, Democrats aren't supposed to cheer.

It's dumb and it's not what the people of our country expect from their leaders.

And so -- but that's the way Congress is. And we're grateful that, in Utah, we're not that way.

CABRERA: Let's talk about what you've done in Utah. You just passed 12 new bills dealing with police reform:

Which include increased training on de-escalation. Internal investigations into misconduct will now continue even after an officer leaves their job.

Also, data will now be collected for every use-of-force incident, and whenever an officer points a gun or taser at someone.

That's among many other things you've enacted. You got this work done with work by both parties. What's your message to lawmakers in Washington as they try to

negotiate police reform?

COX: Well, my message is that we've got to stop thinking as Americans and having to choose between false choices. You can be pro-cop and anti-murder.

We can do these things together. And that's what happened in Utah.

I just can't tell you how different and how cool it was, at this bill signing, with these 12 bills, we had Republicans and Democrats who sponsored these bills together.

We had our law enforcement community, the NAACP, and other community activists standing shoulder to shoulder celebrating these very positive things that happened.

And instead of, you know, defunding the police, we're actually giving more support to our officers, giving them more training.

They want to be held accountable. They want to make sure that the bad cops don't get a pass. They want to make sure that we are giving them the training that they need.

And you mentioned it, de-escalation training. Training around autism, mental health, and suicide by cop, all of those things to help them do their jobs better.

And then collecting data so we can see what's working and what's not working and we can make changes where they need to happen.

CABRERA: Quickly, if you will, on this issue, just for a moment, Republicans we've heard from, who believe that it's better left for the states to handle the police reform, individually, do you think there's a federal role in this?

COX: Well, I think everything's better left to the states to handle. And we have proven that over and over again. The dysfunction in Washington is just unconscionable and it continues.


And so I would rather do it our way because we did it the right way. If they want to copy us, that's great. But we're proving we can do it differently here.

CABRERA: President Biden is pushing this big, bold agenda, as we've been talking about today. You've spoken about the importance of investing in the state's infrastructure.

Can you get behind the president's plan?

COX: I can get behind small portions of it.

We've been really good here in Utah. We were able to, because of the way we handled the pandemic, because of the growth in our economy, we've had a really unique opportunity to invest in education, to invest in infrastructure, and then to give some tax cuts to families and veterans and our seniors.


CABRERA: Forgive me for interrupting but I'm short on time. What parts of this plan could you get behind?

COX: Well, the parts that actually focus on real infrastructure, right? We need to make sure that we have roads and that we have bridges and that we have those types of things that matter.

And some of our infrastructure is aging. Our water infrastructure, for example, the federal government stopped investing in water infrastructure several years ago, which I think was a mistake.

And that's one area where we absolutely need to rebuild our infrastructure.

CABRERA: Utah Governor Spencer Cox, I really appreciate you taking the time. Thank you so much for being here. And I hope you'll join us again.

COX: Thank you, Ana.

CABRERA: President Biden says he didn't have advance warning of the federal raid on the home and office of ex-Trump attorney, Rudy Giuliani. You'll hear from another former attorney of the ex- president, Michael Cohen, ahead.



CABRERA: For the past six decades, late-night television has grown from a shot-in-the-dark experiment to a thriving cultural phenomenon.

Now the new CNN original series, "THE STORY OF LATE NIGHT," examines how late-night TV not only keeps us laughing but shapes how we see the world.

Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve Allen was the generator of a lot of ideas that were way ahead of its time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several critics through the years called my father the most imitated man in television because many of the early experiments he made were often used and developed by other comedians to great effect.

STEVE ALLEN, FORMER HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": And here he is now, the question man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like the question man, where he would provide the question to an answer.

ALLEN: Buffalo Bill.

The question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you buy a buffalo, what do you get at the first of the month?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Johnny did a later version called "Karnak the Magnificent."

JOHNNY CARSON, FORMER HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW"": Sis boom baa. Sis boom baa.

Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes.



CABRERA: Joining us now is Kliph Nesteroff. He is the author of "The Comedians." And we had a little real estate problem.

Kliph, late-night TV is so thoroughly embedded in our culture today. But back when it was first created, in the early '50s, hosts and producers, network executives had no idea what they were doing or what it would turn into.

KLIPH NESTEROFF, AUTHOR: Yes. Originally, late-night TV, "The Tonight Show" with Steve Allen, was largely improvised.

And Steve Allen, who was the first host of "The Tonight Show," was known for his fast wit. And he could really roll with anything, just improvise, talk to the audience.

But right from the very beginning, late-night television was also political. And a lot of people think, in recent history, is when it became sort of polarizing or political with Trump jokes. But it's not the case.

If you go back and watch Johnny Carson in the 1980s, he did lots and lots of material about the Iran-Contra scandal.

And even in the earliest days, 1954, there's sort of a notorious story. Steve Allen had welcomed the great black singer, Lena Horne, who was already a movie star at the time.

And she sang a song. Steve Allen came up to her afterwards. The audience applauded. He was applauding. He gave her a peck on the cheek and said, "You're great, doll, come back any time."

After that moment, later in the week, they got all kinds of racist hate mail because Steve Allen had kissed a black woman on the cheek on live television on "The Tonight Show." And later that week, Steve Allen went on the air, live, and read one

of these hateful letters with all the horrible words. The audience was stunned, quiet. Nobody knew he was going to do this.

And when he finished reading this horrible, racist letter that called him out for kissing Lena Horne on the cheek, he said, if anybody knows who this man is, please let us know. He did not have enough gumption to sign his own name.

And if you do know this person -- and Steve Allen, who is known for wearing his horn-rim glasses -- then whipped off his glasses and said, please find him a psychiatrist. He is the sickest man in America.

And the entire audience erupted in applause. Completely improvised.

So, you know, this is just one of the early examples of sort of the political ramifications and freewheeling improvised atmosphere of late-night television.

CABRERA: Oh my gosh. That gives us such a little tiny taste, an appetizer for the show that's coming up.

Kliph Nesteroff, I wish we had time to discuss even more.


CABRERA: It's so entertaining.

Thank you for being with us.

Be sure to tune into the all-new CNN original series, "THE STORY OF LATE NIGHT." It premieres Sunday at 9:00 p.m., only on CNN.

Thanks as always for being with me. I'll see you back here tomorrow. And please join me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera, in the meantime.

NEWSROOM continues with Alisyn and Victor next.