Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

NYT: Firing Of U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine Becomes Central Focus Of Federal Investigation Into Giuliani; Daily Beast: Associate's Letter Says Gaetz Paid For Sex With Minor; Chris Christie Says He'd Give Trump An "A" Grade; 50,000 Fans Return To Churchill Downs For Kentucky Derby; Poll: Vaccine Hesitancy Common Among Republicans; Videos Of Police Shootings Become Source Of Training. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 1, 2021 - 17:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:00:34]

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Jim Acosta in Washington and we have new details about what FBI agents were looking for when they raided the Manhattan home and office of Rudy Giuliani this week. And the revolution has former President Donald Trump's inner circle worried about what could come next, that is because according to "The New York Times", the FBI is looking into something Rudy Giuliani may have done while serving as former President Trump's attorney.

In fact, rather something it appears he persuaded his client, then president to do, and that is to fire the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Obviously, the assistant U.S. attorneys hate me and they hate Trump, which is probably -- which is probably the whole thing. I mean, to believe I'm some kind of Russian agent? Look at my career. I mean, look at my background and my career.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ACOSTA: CNN's Alex Marquardt has the new details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When federal agents swooped in raiding the New York apartment and office of Rudy Giuliani, they were reportedly trying to zero in on the role that Rudy Giuliani played in ousting the former U.S. ambassador Yovanovitch, Marie Yovanovitch.

According to "The New York Times", one search warrant stated seeking evidence related to the Yovanovitch ouster. FBI agents seized Giuliani's electronic devices to investigate communication he had with Ukrainians about the effort.

GIULIANI: That warrant is completely illegal.

MARQUARDT: On Fox News, Giuliani denied that he was acting on behalf of Ukrainians and blasted the prosecutor's decision to search his home and office.

GIULIANI: There is no justification for that warrant. It is an illegal, unconstitutional warrant. One of many that this department of injustice tragically has done.

MARQUARDT: Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, met with Ukrainian officials, as he attempted to dig up dirt on Joe Biden, his bosses Giuliani's chief political rival.

Giuliani's conversations with Ukrainians also centered around their desire to remove Ambassador Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who Giuliani believed was hindering his efforts to dig up dirt on Biden. During the first impeachment of Donald Trump, Yovanovitch accused Giuliani of mounting a smear campaign against her.

MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I do not understand Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me.

MARQUARDT: Giuliani's efforts worked, Trump was convinced, and Yovanovitch was removed.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Why do you need her out of the way?

GIULIANI: I didn't need her out of the way. I forced her out because she's corrupt.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And joining me now is the man once quoted as calling Giuliani a hand grenade who was going to blow everyone up. John Bolton is former national security adviser under President Trump. He's also a former U.N. ambassador and author of the book, "The Room Where It Happened", a White House memoir in which he details being directed by then President Trump to help with Giuliani's pressure campaign on Ukraine.

Ambassador Bolton, thanks so much for joining us.

Back in 2019, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee as you recall said you tipped him off, that's something improper had happened with Marie Yovanovitch's firing.

Now, two years later, to hear that these raids on Giuliani have to do with that very topic, how do you feel? Do you feel vindicated in all of this?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I don't feel vindicated. I knew what was going on in 2018 and 2019. I didn't understand what Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine. I didn't understand the conspiracy theories that he and President Trump were following and that worried me.

It wasn't that I had any specific information about it. It was precisely the opposite, that they were operating this out of government investigation if that's what it was with no contact to the actual government itself. And I think the effort to get rid of Ambassador Yovanovitch who just heard Rudy Giuliani call corrupt was probably the most fantastic thing that I did have direct knowledge of. She was a career professional Foreign Service officer.

I didn't see anything that she did, didn't get any reports from anybody other than Giuliani that she was doing anything improper at all. So, it was -- it was part of the mystery of what Trump and Giuliani were actually up to.

ACOSTA: And was there one specific detail that you did learn at the time that prompted you to reach out to the chairman at that time?

[17:05:00]

BOLTON: Well, I just thought that as I explain in the book, the House Democrats in their impeachment effort had gone on a very narrow track. I felt it was doomed to fail. I thought it was going to actually buttress Trump's position when he was acquitted in the Senate, as it turned out to be.

And I spoke with Eliot Engel, a ranking Democrat at the time, a man I had a lot of respect for, just to let him know there was a lot more that people were not exploring, that was not known.

ACOSTA: And you wrote in your book about how you warned the then Attorney General Bill Barr that someone should rein in Giuliani before he got completely out of control. What were the warning signs that you were seeing?

BOLTON: Well, that there was all this activity going on, that there were efforts to get the government of Ukraine itself involved. In fact, later when President Zelensky had been elected and was newly in office, I visited Kiev and told his new prosecutor general, the equivalent of our attorney general, to talk only through official channels and not to deal with Giuliani.

As I say, it was -- it was a series of things that we could see Giuliani doing but like a shape deep, deep underwater, you can see there's something there. But I at least couldn't figure out the details and I was very worried about the potential consequences.

ACOSTA: And were you worried that he was operating outside the law? Is that -- is that essentially what it was?

BOLTON: Well, I had no idea what he was doing. That alone was frightening because it was clear he was in a position to say to people, I'm the lawyer for the president of the United States and you need to listen to me. And what effect that would have on people who didn't understand that this was a rogue operation I thought could have serious consequences for American foreign policy. ACOSTA: And Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, who has firsthand

experience with being raided by the feds, predicts that Giuliani would eventually flip on Donald Trump.

Let's listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think Rudy knows that he has trouble. I think Donald understands that Rudy will provide whatever information that he has to the SDNY because Rudy has no interest in going to prison and spending the golden years of his life behind bars. That's I'm certain of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Ambassador Bolton, do you believe Donald Trump should be worried what Giuliani might be telling the feds or potentially flip and talk to the feds about what was going on back then?

BOLTON: Well, you know, we are speculating on speculating here. There were a number of subpoenas that went out last week. One apparently reported in the press to Giuliani's secretary for testimony before the grand jury.

I think there's still a long way to go here and how serious this is and what the outer limits of the investigation are. I mean, honestly, at this point, we don't know.

I hope and expect that the Justice Department's not going to say anything publicly or through leaks. I think that would be a big mistake on their part if that were to happen. Let's just see how this proceeds.

ACOSTA: And just to button up that little aspect, federal authorities reached out to you, Ambassador Bolton, to talk to you about what happened back then?

BOLTON: No, they have not. Not at this point anyway.

ACOSTA: All right. And Giuliani, as you know, is the man who was seen as America's mayor after 9/11. What about this fall from grace? You have known Rudy Giuliani a long time. You've been in the same Republican circles for years now. How did he go from America's mayor after 9/11 to this?

BOLTON: Well, we were in the Reagan Justice Department, too. I can't explain it. I think it's tragic for Rudy and his family and I just -- I can't explain them.

ACOSTA: I mean, was he -- do you think he just fell under Trump's spell or something? What do you make of it? You've been around him.

BOLTON: Well, yeah. I think a lot of people have been harmed by their association with Donald Trump. And because of Trump's focus only on his own interest, his inability to see the bigger picture. I think a lot of people in public service think they're trying to do

the right thing for the country and never encountered anybody like Donald Trump before, thank God. Hopefully they never will again. But they suffered as a consequence and I think Rudy falls in that category.

ACOSTA: I do want to ask you about Afghanistan. It's been ten years since the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. I believe the 10-year anniversary, it's going to happen just about any moment.

I want to play that moment when CNN first announced the news ten years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: CNN is told by several sources now that the president of the United States will announce in just moments that the United States has the body of Osama bin Laden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:10:07]

ACOSTA: And the drawdown of U.S. troops has already started. As you know, the administration is planning on all U.S. forces being out by September 11th. What is your thinking on all of this, Ambassador?

BOLTON: Well, I think President Biden's decision to withdraw American forces without condition is a big mistake. I think sadly it's simply a continuation of President Trump's determination to withdraw forces. I think this debate has gotten completely lost in a series of cliches.

Our forces in Afghanistan have not been engaged in a war for quite sometime. They're there with allied NATO forces providing training and assistance to the Afghan army, and providing intelligence for the United States and its allies about terrorist threats inside Afghanistan, and being very conveniently situated geographically to watch Pakistan on the eastern side and Iran on the western side.

But, look, we have had forces overseas in Germany, Japan and other countries for over 75 years since World War II. When American interests dictate that we maintain a presence overseas, we shouldn't be impatient. We shouldn't lose sight of the advantages to having that capability in Afghanistan.

I'm very pessimistic. I hope I'm dead wrong. I'm very pessimistic about what's going to happen in Afghanistan.

I think Taliban are going to come back largely into control. I'm worried about other terrorist groups taking root there again and I'm very worried about the threat to the United States. I hope it doesn't come true but I think this is a big mistake.

ACOSTA: And I want to talk to you about President Biden's speech to Congress this week. He made this point. I think it's an important point. Let's talk about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart? America's adversaries, the autocrats of the world, are betting we can't and I promise you they're betting we can't. They believe we're too full of anger, and division and rage. They look at the images of the mob that assaulted the Capitol as proof that the sun is setting out on American democracy.

But they're wrong. You know it and I know it. We have to prove them wrong. We have to prove democracy still works, that the government still works and can deliver for our people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Ambassador Bolton, does Joe Biden have a point about autocrats and our adversaries watching this moment right now?

BOLTON: Well, I think it's certainly the case that a lot of people think that Trump represents substantial decline for the United States. I don't agree with that analysis.

I think Trump was an aberration. I think our democracy is strong. Our institutions are strong. I think we can and will prove that.

But I also think that having a functioning vibrant constitutional democracy here isn't going to throw our adversaries off course. It's not going to persuade China that they really don't want hegemony in eastern and southern Asia or ultimately global hegemony.

We're in a long struggle with China for the rest of the century. We have other adversaries around the world.

I think it's important for our own sake to correct the damage that the Trump years caused to the United States. I have every confidence we can do it.

But I tell you, turning away from the threats we face internationally is not going to make us safer. It's going to make us weaker.

ACOSTA: All right. Former national security adviser John Bolton, if we have a lot more time we can delve into all this stuff. We'll bring you back on another occasion, and talk about all that.

Ambassador Bolton, I appreciate it. He's the author of "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir", and we appreciate you joining us. Thanks so much.

Coming up, embattled Congressman Matt Gaetz is hitting the road on what he's calling an America First tour. His first stop, a rally with none other than Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. That's right.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:19:11]

ACOSTA: New developments in the sex trafficking probe around Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz. "The Daily Beast" said they have a confession letter from a close Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg, who claims he and the Florida Republican paid for sex with multiple women, including one who was just 17 at the time.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is following this for us -- Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The drip, drip, drip of accusations against Congressman Matt Gaetz continues. This now a "Daily Beast" story that outlines a letter that Joel Greenberg, the former associate and close political ally of Congressman Gaetz sent to Roger Stone the Trump ally in which Greenberg asked Stone to help him with a pardon because of the problems that he was facing legally.

Now in this letter which CNN is not able to verify independently, Greenberg writes, quote: My lawyers that I fired know the whole story about MG's involvement -- MG being Matt Gaetz.

[17:20:07]

They know that he paid me to pay the girls and we had sex with the girl who was underage. That was a letter sent to Roger Stone on December 21st.

Now, Roger Stone for his point tells CNN's Chris Cuomo that he knew nothing about this letter. He said he never received it and that he never attempted to solicit a pardon on behalf of Joel Greenberg and Congressman Gaetz through a spokesperson saying that he knows nothing about the accusations from Joel Greenberg.

In a statement, he said, quote, Congressman Gaetz has never paid for sex nor has he had sex with a 17-year-old as an adult. Politico has reported Mr. Greenberg's threats to make false accusations and while the story has confessions from Mr. Greenberg, it is not adding anything of substance and certainly no evidence for the wild and false claims about Representative Gaetz.

In fact, the story goes some way to showing Representative Gates was long out of touch with Mr. Greenberg and had no interest in involving himself in Mr. Greenberg's affairs.

And Congressman Gaetz showing no signs of backing away as the pressure on him legally mounts. In fact, he has plans to go on a tour across the country with another controversial congressperson and that would be Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

The two are teaming up for a political tour across the country they are dubbing an America First Tour. Two also planning to fundraise together, filing a statement with the Federal Elections Commission forming a joint fund raising committee showing that Gaetz hopefully from his mind with the help of supporters of President Trump across the country plans to hold the ground as the accusations mount.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And joining us now, CNN political commentators Paul Begala and Amanda Carpenter.

Paul, not only is Matt Gaetz defiant, he's planning to go on tour. This is what -- I mean, I guess we have gotten away from they'll never step down to going on tour. What's your reaction to how he's handling this?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is just astonishing, Jim. This is apparently now the new face of the Republican Party, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz. I mean, we saw the face of the Democratic Party last week. We saw President Biden and Vice President Harris and Speaker Pelosi. That's who runs the Democratic Party, and as a Democratic, I'm very happy about that.

I don't know a lot of Republican who is are particularly psyched to see Marjorie Taylor Greene, who she's got some eccentric views, OK? It's been reported that she believes in some of the QAnon conspiracy. It's been reporting that she suggested Parkland and Sandy Hook mass murders were somehow staged.

She speculated under her writing that the wildfires in California might have somehow been caused by lasers in space and somehow coordinated through the Rothschild Bank, a very famous anti-Semitic trope to attack the Rothschild.

So, she's a rather eccentric partner for Matt Gaetz. Of course, Mr. Gaetz kind of has his own problems, doesn't he? She's the less controversial of the two.

ACOSTA: It's kind of amazing when you think about him that way. And, Amanda, what does Gaetz's defiance tell you about how he 'em empowered this base and how the base feels like they empower him?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, there's an appetite for this stuff. There's an appetite for the super MAGA base who just loves somebody that fights no matter how ridiculous, how outlandish, how fringe, how disgusting the things they may be fighting for. And so, I mean, this is worrisome. This is not great.

There are a lot of Republicans. I don't want Matt Gaetz to be the face of the Republican Party. There's a fight going on and the reason why Gaetz and people like Marjorie Taylor Greene feel, look, that they can draw audiences like this, that they can fundraise like this is because there's such a leadership vacuum in the Republican Party.

I mean, look, these guys have a free pass to go to Congress, not even sit on committees anymore. Marjorie Taylor Greene got stripped and just go fund raise all day. Like where is the intellectual competition of ideas? Liz Cheney is trying and it is just outrageous to see House Leader

McCarthy essentially stand by and let this play out. Liz Cheney is a member of the leadership team. Her conference voted to keep her after guys like Matt Gaetz tried to oust her and still McCarthy doesn't have a grip on the caucus to say, Gaetz, cut it. They let them trash Liz than stand up to Gaetz because Kevin McCarthy doesn't have the juice to head us.

ACOSTA: Right, Liz Cheney had a fist bump or a nice, you know, amiable moment with President Biden, and got ripped for it, Amanda.

CARPENTER: Yeah. I mean, that was a nice moment and I liked it to show that President Biden respected her and saw what she was doing and what normal people doing. You shake someone's hand if they extend it to you or give it a fist bump in the time of COVID.

[17:25:04]

But this is what's going on right now, and it's really hard to watch for Republicans like me to see this happen. And this is a real fight. We'll see if Liz Cheney keeps the seat.

And asked recently in an interview of primaries and she just said, listen, if we have a fight every day about the insurrection and impeachment, I'll have that fight. But there's not enough people willing to do what she is doing and I only hope they can look at her and she'll be successful and people follow her lead and not Matt Gaetz's.

ACOSTA: And, Paul, I need to ask you about someone you know very well from your Bill Clinton days, James Carville. I'm sure you know I was going to ask about him, made headlines this week for saying Democrats have a problem with wokeness.

Let's listen to James.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I call it the politics of the faculty lounge. And in my view, if you want to -- in politics, you should speak the language of the people. You should speak clear, direct English and address people as they address each other, not like the humanities department at Amherst wants you to address that we like (ph).

I think that -- people are woke and tired of being woke. People want -- after this pandemic and stuff, people want to go about the lives. They want to enjoy it. They want to enjoy their friends. They don't want to be nervous about how you address them and talk to them anything.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: Is your level of concern about the wokeness issue and the way it plays such that it could cost the Democrats the control of the House in the midterm elections?

CARVILLE: It almost did in 2020. We could not do well. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: What do you think, Paul?

BEGALA: Well, I love James and think he's absolutely right. We -- the Democratic Party in the last election dropped nine points among Hispanics, nine points. So, 1 out of 10, nearly 1 out of 10 Hispanics who voted for Hillary voted against Joe Biden, voted for Trump the second time around. That's a catastrophe.

Now, there's a lot of reasons for it, but I do think James is on to something saying too many elite Democrats sound like they're more comfortable in the faculty lounge than the factory floor. You know, the Democratic Party is built by working women and men, and those are the folks that we should be speaking to and with and speaking in their language.

So it's not really the ideas. You know, Missouri, Oklahoma, blood red states voted to expand Medicaid, which is part of Obamacare. So, if Missouri and Oklahoma, two of the reddest states in America like Obamacare. The problem is not the ideas. Florida voted to raise minimum wage the minimum wage on the same day they voted for Donald Trump to be president.

So, I do that there's a rhetorical problem and I think it's well- intended. Ruben Gallego, the Hispanic congressman, Democrat from Arizona, has said this. He hates that phrase Latinx and he thinks Democrats should stop using it.

I think we ought to be listening more to our base, our African American base, our Hispanic base, our working-class base and maybe a little less to professors. I say this as a professor, visiting, adjunct, whatever it is, professor at Georgetown. So, I guess I'm part of the problem.

Probably Carville is a professor, he's a professor at LSU. Not university of Texas or James Madison, but it's pretty good school.

ACOSTA: Not a bad school indeed. And I never got back in the teacher's lounge back in the day. I wasn't in too much trouble for that.

But, Amanda, let me ask you this -- former New Jersey governor -- I'm sure that will surprise everybody -- former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie surprised some folks when he said this about Donald Trump. Let's play this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Overall, how do you grade Trump as president?

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Oh, listen. Overall, I give the president an A, you know? But the fact of the matter is that there were some things that happened specifically at the end of the presidency that I think had some things that clouded his accomplishments. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Amanda, an A.

CARPENTER: You know, I would have a hard time giving someone an "A" that gave me COVID and putt me in the hospital for seven days. But that's just me.

What Chris Christie is saying isn't unlike what a lot of other Republican leaders are saying. Mike Pence gave a speech in South Carolina the other day essentially just looking past the bad parts of the Donald Trump presidency, didn't have a word to say about the insurrection.

And so, I find it interesting that all these people think they can just say, oh, well, everything was going great before COVID and somehow he gets a pass on COVID because no one could help that.

You saw Tim Scott go that route in the Republican response but a president messing up a response to a pandemic is a legacy killer. A president inciting an insurrection on the way out the door is a legacy killer. So I don't know what kind of curve they're grading on but that's one that Paul Begala wouldn't give in his classes.

(LAUGHTER)

ACOSTA: Yeah. Paul Begala, an "A" for the coup attempt? I mean, I don't understand there.

[17:30:00]

BEGALA: You know, Chris Christie, he's apparently thinking about running for president. He thinks that's the way to do it.

His brand has always been plain talk, unvarnished, barked-off plain talk. And he probably wouldn't tell you how great Trump is after a few beers but that's speculation.

ACOSTA: Yes. Sounds like a bridge too far for me.

Paul, Amanda, thanks so much. That's why I never got in the teachers' lounge right there.

(LAUGHTER)

ACOSTA: Thanks.

It is Derby day, everyone. How are fans celebrating? We'll take you to Churchill Downs next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:35:09]

ACOSTA: Churchill Downs is expecting a crowd of 50,000 fans today for the Kentucky Derby, the run known as the run for the races. And it is the most exciting two minutes in sports. No doubt about that.

It's scaled back. The race usually draws an audience of 150,000. Spectators will have to pair the fancy hats with masks and maintain social distance.

But an improvement from last year when horses raced on an empty track.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro joining us now.

Evan, you see people doing the safety protocols. What is happening?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, we are closer to that big race and we have been out here all day inside Churchill Downs and now right outside.

And, look, folks are really excited to be doing something they're used to doing here in Louisville, which is having the Derby with fans.

There are a lot of changes. You mentioned the smaller crowd, the mask requirement and social distancing.

But fans were feeling like they can get back to normal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've had both did shots so I'm there. But I still like the idea that you've got to wear a mask. I wear my mask around other people. And I think it's the right thing to do until we get through this thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Jim, that is one of the best hats that we saw. That guy literally dressed like a Batman villain, which is how you want to go through the Kentucky Derby.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. Sort of a penguin look there.

Evan, you tried on the hats. Tell us about this moment here.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: So, look, I was really fascinated by the idea of how you go about a big formal event with a mask. So I got the preferred milliner of the Kentucky Derby-- that's Christine Moore -- to put the hats on my head.

And I have breaking news to help to show how we are into something normal here in Louisville. She sold 1,000 hats this weekend.

She didn't say how many more after I was wearing them but a good weekend for her. And suggests people come out and wearing the hats. And when they buy the hats, they ask for matching masks.

ACOSTA: There you go.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: She said you can be formal, be out and still be safe for COVID, Jim. Maybe get a good model like me to help you sell some hats.

ACOSTA: I think we'll sign you up for that. Hats off to you for that, Evan, but please -- if you don't mind, just never do that again. Just this once we just need to keep it to just this once.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: My personal fascinator, you know that.

ACOSTA: I try my best. I don't know if I could have pulled that off the way you did. That was terrific.

Evan, McMorris-Santoro, thanks so much.

Still ahead, a closer look at vaccine hesitancy. A new poll shows over a quarter of Americans unwilling to get the vaccine. We'll discuss why after this.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:21]

ACOSTA: As the race to vaccinate Americans accelerates, hesitancy is a central threat. More than a quarter of Americans say they won't get the shot, a decision that will make herd immunity almost unachievable.

And the common thread that ties most vaccine-adverse Americans together is political affiliation.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joins me.

Donie, what have you found so far? It is depressing that there are folks just totally unwilling to do this, though it will get us out of the terrible pandemic.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Jim. If you break it down by party lines, as you can see in the CNN poll, almost half of Republicans say they will not get the shot. That's compared to only 8 percent of Democrats.

Over the last few weeks, we have been speaking to some Republicans, some Trump supporters, who said they're not going to get vaccinated. And here's what they have to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'SULLIVAN: Are you getting vaccinated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I don't need a vaccine. I had COVID last march. Sick for all of five hours. I don't need a vaccine for that.

O'SULLIVAN: The CDC recommends you should be vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they can recommend.

O'SULLIVAN: It has emergency approval. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who determine the emergency approval?

O'SULLIVAN: Do you think Trump is wrong on this one?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know the situation but I know we're not wrong and we're the independent freedom people of America and we make our own decisions.

O'SULLIVAN: You're not getting vaccinated?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:

O'SULLIVAN: Even if it is the Trump vaccine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doesn't matter whose vaccine it is. President Biden got it. President Trump was still in office. So, yes. It is the Trump vaccine. I have no intention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't blindly follow what President Trump did or didn't do. It's the fact that he promoted individual freedom and your ability to excel. It was a movement. He just happened to come along at the right time to help.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'SULLIVAN: And, Jim, what's interesting here, of course, is that when Trump got the vaccine himself, he didn't do so publicly. We learned about that after he left the White House.

So he's been careful in how much he embraces and pushes this vaccine.

It may be because of people like that we spoke to there in his base and some of his biggest supporters say, for them, vaccine is the red line and will not go with Trump on it.

And it's possible that the base is influencing his thinking about this and that is why he's not pushing the vaccine as much as he should.

[17:45:04]

Obviously, if he did push it, it would hopefully bring down the number of Republicans not taking the shot.

ACOSTA: Yes. It is incredible. They want him to have credit for the vaccine but won't take the vaccine.

All right. Donie, thank you for unspooling that for us. We appreciate it.

Coming up, we take you inside the intensive new training to prevent shootings like the recent one of Daunte Wright. That story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:15]

ACOSTA: Police departments across the country are using videos of real-world fatal police shootings to try and stop future tragedies before they happen.

CNN's Ryan Young takes a look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These four officers are working their way through a hands-on week of intensive training.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, what we are going to see is a team of officers who are dispatched to a distraught male on a bridge. They're going to trying and gain his compliance through de-escalation techniques.

YOUNG: It's part of a realistic, high pressure moment that will go over in the days to come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm fine. I didn't call the police.

(CROSSTALK)

YOUNG: Roll play and work on simulators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we have a real subject. He is wearing a grey shirt.

YOUNG: Sir, it's okay. We'd just like to talk to you for quick second.

YOUNG: All this in hopes of not having another tragedy like 22-year- old Stephon Clark in 2018, when police say officers believed he had a gun and shot and killed him in his backyard, but no firearm was ever found.

CHIEF DANIEL HAHN, SACRAMENTO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Somebody has to do this, our community would not be safe without the work of police officers. And it's a tough job.

YOUNG: Situations that officers face on a day-to-day basis across the country. Like those fatal police shootings of Daunte Wright in Minnesota, and Ma'Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio.

HAHN: When you look at the Ohio incident, it's really important because somebody died.

If there's a better way after viewing that how that could've been half has that could've been handled, then all departments need to do it.

You should be ashamed if you don't learn from somebody else's issues.

YOUNG: So, the Sacramento PD takes that literally, turning graphic videos of controversial police shootings into teachable moments. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It can trick the brain very quickly into putting you physiologically in that environment.

YOUNG: They can use virtual reality to recreate those police calls within a day.

LT. ZACH BALES, SACRAMENTO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Some of these incidents you see on TV, almost immediately after a major police incident, we are able to take it and analyze it and then immediately incorporate any lessons learned into our training.

YOUNG: Rotating all their officers through the training that reflects the diversity of challenges they face, while videos of police encounters like George Floyd's, feed calls for police reform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protesting has its place, but after protests, then what? We've got to talk solutions, and I don't want anybody in our community to be shot, myself, or you included.

YOUNG: Solutions that for Chief Daniel Hahn start with a reckoning, and a problematic history of law enforcement in America.

HAHN: So, when people say defund the police department because we have racism in our past, first of all, we have to acknowledge that's absolutely true. So absolutely we have racism in our past.

But so does our entire country. We have to deal with those just as much as we have to do with giving officers new equipment.

YOUNG: And from situations like this one, where officers are trained not to engage physically.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you turn around?

YOUNG: But intervene and de-escalate and keep the community and officers safe.

BALES: De-escalation is -- first of all, it is the expectation of the community. The community wants us to respond to these problems and help solve the problem. If we're escalating the situation, we're not helping solve the problem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: As the vaccine rollout continues in parts the U.S. and states are loosening restrictions, schools remain in flux. Many parents remain in a difficult position. Who will supervise their children while they return to work?

That is where "CNN Hero," Jennifer Maddox, steps in. She turned her afterschool center on Chicago's southside into a remote learning hub to provide students with the support they need and give families peace of mind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JENNIFER MADDOX, CNN HERO: We don't want them to make the choice, earning a living versus my child getting an education. What type of choice is that?

Good morning.

If they have to go back to work, we're available for them to bring their kids every day so they can go to work.

We provide them with a safe space, making sure they're online every morning, on time, and making sure they're in class, they're engaged and able to complete their assignments.

(INAUDIBLE)

MADDOX: We tried to make sure our door stayed open, that we're constantly staying involved and connected with the young people because they were really struggling trying to cope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: To see the full story of Jennifer's work to support kids and their families during the pandemic, go to CNNheroes.com. And while there, nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero."

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

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

[17:54:57]

Have a good night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Throughout much of the country Americans are seeing signs. The light at the end of the tunnel draws near.

[18:00:00]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly, we are heading in the right direction. I think we'll have a really good summer but have to be a little more careful against the big stuff right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I also fear people are going to get complacent and see things are returning to normal.