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Infighting Threatening the Future of Republican Party; Romney Booed at Utah Republican Convention; Restrictions are Easing in Parts of Europe; French Students Reflect on Losing Loved Ones to COVID; Manchester United Fans Storm Pitch to Protest U.S. Owners. Aired 4:30- 5a ET

Aired May 3, 2021 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there is a fight going on inside the U.S. Republican Party. Supporters of former President Donald Trump are still quick to come back at anyone with a disparaging word about him. Utah Senator Mitt Romney is a former presidential nominee and voted twice to convict Trump in the former president's impeachment trials. He was subject to boos from his own party when he appeared at a convention.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I don't hide the fact that I wasn't a fan of our last president's character issues.


ROMNEY: And I'm also no fan --



CHURCH: Suzanne Malveaux reports on the price to pay within the party for speaking out against the former president or for just being polite to his Democratic successor.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is an exclusive club, but it is getting bigger. These are Republicans who have defied Trump, who are now being punished by their own state parties. So we're talking about Cassidy, Murkowski, Cheney, Sasse, Flake. The list goes on and on. Some of these who voted for impeachment conviction or even those who felt that the election, the presidential election was legitimate, actually expressing that. Some of them facing censure as well from their own party.

Well, Romney was spared censure at the Utah convention, the Republican convention, but certainly humiliated, faced with, as you saw, all of that booing. It got much, much worse when he talked about his own conviction, using his own mind, what he believed was the right thing to do and putting out his street cred as a Republican, the 2012 presidential Republican nominee, all of that making it much, much worse. Now, you know, he has had problems in the past with the hard core Republicans of Utah, but this much, much worse, indicating something that this is a real litmus test for the party going forward.

Senator Susan Collins, a Republican with an independent streak herself, who was also spared censure in her own state of Maine, really expressing a great deal of dismay with the direction of the party.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I was appalled. Mitt Romney is an outstanding Senator who serves his state and our country well. But we Republicans need to remember that we are united by fundamental principles such as the belief in personal responsibility, individual freedom, opportunity, free markets, a strong national defense. Those are the principles that unite us. We are not a party that is led by just one person.

MALVEAUX: That one person that Collins is referring to, of course, is Trump himself. Another person under fire again, the number-three House leadership position, Congresswoman Liz Cheney also floating the idea of a potential 2024 run. Saying that she felt those who did not certify the January 6th election results should be disqualified from running, being criticized by Trump allies as well as House minority leader Kevin McCarthy for her outspoken views.

But also for the friendly fist bump that she gave President Biden as he was walking down the aisle before his address to the joint session of Congress. She defended the move saying it was just simply civil behavior, but there are some who feel that this is just too friendly with the administration. This is clearly a turning point, a point of inflection for the Republican Party.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, at the Capitol.


CHURCH: Joining me now is Ryan Lizza, CNN's senior political analyst and chief Washington correspondent for Politico. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So a CNN poll shows that lies have consequences, revealing that 70 percent of Republicans still believe the false and baseless claim that Joe Biden didn't win the 2020 election.


Donald Trump and GOP leaders keep pushing this election lie and it's clearly working. So how is it possible the lie of this magnitude is being accepted by the majority of the party?

LIZZA: Well, it's a basic fact of politics that partisans look to their most trusted political leaders on big issues. And if you have the leadership of a party on his or her own and through partisan media channels repeatedly saying something, then partisans adopt those views. And it takes an enormous amount of information from people that they trust to change that.

CHURCH: And Ryan, at the same time, GOP infighting is intensifying with Liz Cheney in danger of losing her leadership post because of what she has said about Donald Trump. Mitt Romney narrowly avoiding censure but was booed instead while speaking at a Utah GOP convention. Cindy McCain slammed the Arizona GOP, ordered to vote in that state. And former President George W. Bush says Republicans are behaving like they want to be extinct. What's the likely future of the GOP and those that dare to criticize Trump?

LIZZA: I think this -- this argument, this debate, this -- you know, to use the cliche the Civil War in the Republican Party will play out for quite a bit longer. And the Trump faction has the upper hand. No doubt about it.

I think Romney in Utah is a very important race to watch. He is up in 2024, so he has got -- he has got a long way to go. Cindy McCain has all but left the Republican Party in Arizona.

But a lot of this fight really is playing out in the states even more so than in Washington D.C. and Congress. But the big way it is playing out in Congress, of course, is this fight between Cheney and McCarthy. McCarthy has sort of distanced himself from Liz Cheney recently. There is talk among House Republicans that there could be another vote to try and expel Cheney from leadership. And it's all over the same issue. It is all over fealty to Donald Trump. Liz Cheney is not willing to change her mind about him and what he did and his responsibility for January 6th. Other Republicans either don't want to talk about that or defend Trump outright.

CHURCH: We will be watching to see what happens. Ryan Lizza, many thanks as always.

LIZZA: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Caitlyn Jenner is facing backlash from many in the LGBTQ community for her views on trans-athletes. Jenner is a former Olympian and a transgender woman herself, and she plans to challenge California's Democratic governor as a Republican in the state's expected recall election. In an impromptu interview with TMZ, Jenner said she is against transgender girls playing girls sports.

Jenner later tweeted, I didn't expect to get asked this on my Saturday morning coffee run, but I'm clear about where I stand. It's an issue of fairness, and we need to protect girls sports in our schools.

All this comes as at least half a dozen states are trying to block trans-girls and women from competing on female sports teams.

Well, it is the first day back to in-person learning for many in France. When we return, why some students say returning to the classroom will be one of the most difficult things they've ever done.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.

Well, in Europe the outlook on the pandemic is optimistic with restrictions easing in many areas. The U.K. will look at whether people who have been exposed to the virus can take a daily COVID-19 test instead of going into quarantine.

Meantime, Italy reopened beach resorts Sunday even though the weather wasn't ideal for sunbathing. And restaurants in Greece are reopening after six months. Customers will be served outdoors for now.

Jim Bittermann is live outside Paris. He joins us now. Good to see you Jim. So what more are you learning about the easing of restrictions across the continent as preparations are made for the summer arrival of fully vaccinated American tourists.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well things are looking slightly better, Rosemary. Basically the case numbers -- the daily case numbers are going down and the vaccination numbers are going up. And in many places like France, for example, first signs of easing of restrictions in France here today. On the 3rd of May, they are going to open up or have been opening up the middle and upper schools -- at least partially. The education minister and Prime Minister are out heralding that accomplishment today.

Also today the French no longer have to carry around, at least during the non-curfew hours, they no longer have to carry around this permit they've had to carry around with them at all times. And they can move from one region to the next. It's not much of an easing in the regulations, but it's something. And the big one's going to come two weeks down the line when, in fact, restaurant terraces and bars and whatnot will open up. But that's not quite yet.

Meanwhile, Germany, the government is looking at ways that they can come out of the lockdown there. There's going to be a cabinet meeting later in the week to discuss the kinds of things that they can do. The worry is that if they ease up too much, of course, the cases will start going up again, and they'll be watching, for instance, what happens on the 1st of May. On Saturday there were demonstrations and masking regulations, and distancing regulations weren't necessarily followed. There were big demonstrations in Paris and in Germany and in Spain and elsewhere across the continent. So they'll be watching to see what happens a couple weeks down the line.

And one of the things about the schools opening today they'll be watching too is what happens there because there's a rule in France that if there's one positive case, you have to close down the entire class. So if you have one class that has a positive case, you have to close down the class.


They opened the primary schools last week, and in fact they had 1,000 classes that had to be shut. So some optimism but it's guarded optimism -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, certainly baby steps there. Jim Bittermann joining us live from just outside of Paris, many thanks.

Well as we just heard, in France secondary students are headed back to school. They will be able to switch between in-person and remote learning, so classrooms will only be half full. But the already difficult year looks to be even worse for students who have lost a loved one to this pandemic. CNN's Melissa Bell reports from Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been a year since Grace and her sisters lost their father to COVID-19.


BELL (voice-over): Grace, who's asked us not to use her surname, is in her final year of high school. All she wants now is to make her father proud.

One of the hardest things, she says, was having to go back to school last September, burdened not only by her grief but also by her fear.

"It's not even for myself that I was worried," she says. "But about catching it and passing it onto a cousin or nephew. I'd have felt terrible, even though it would not have been my fault."

France has made keeping schools open its priority. Throughout the pandemic, French schools kids lost 10 weeks of school, according to the U.N., compared to the 47 lost by American children.

JEAN-MICHEL BLANQUER, FRENCH EDUCATION MINISTER: We are really convinced that it's necessary for children to go to school. Not only because of the education, and learning, but also for interactions with the others, and for psychological and health reasons. So the idea is to say that COVID is a key question, but it's not the only question.

BELL (voice-over): In the end, France did close schools in April for one month amid a wider lockdown. On Monday, high school kids will go back to class with more testing and tighter measures. Speaking exclusively to CNN, France's education minister says the French experiment has shown that it is possible to make schools safe.

BLANQUER: I believe, thanks to the different studies we have, that school is not a specific place for contamination. Of course, you can have contamination at school. But not specifically, because at school there are rules, and those rules are respected, which is not the case in the other aspect of life.

BELL (voice-over): But some schools did suffer disproportionately. Grace's school on the outskirts of Paris in one of France's poorest regions saw 20 children lose a relative to COVID-19 in 2020. And this year hundreds of children and staff got sick.

MAELLE BENZIMERA, STUDENT, EUGENE DELACROIX: Well, I was really scared, because I knew that if I catch the virus, I will be a little bit sick, but I won't be sick enough to go to the hospital. Whereas if my parents or grandparents have the virus, I know that they could die or could go to the hospital. And it's pretty scary.

BELL (voice-over): Teachers here tried to get the school closed down but to no avail. They say that too little was done to help keep them safe.

COLLEEN BROWN, ENGLISH TEACHER, EUGENE DELACROIX: France may be exceptional in that they've kept the schools open at all costs, but they have not been exceptional in funding the schools so that they can do that safely.

BELL (voice-over): Nationally, too, France's policy has come in for much criticism. The minister accepts that it may not have been perfect, but he says that focusing on in- class learning was the right thing to do.

BLANQUER: The strongest critics were in May 2020, at the beginning, when a lot of people said you don't have -- you should not reopen. The critics are less strong because of a kind of consensus of the society was created around the opening of school.

BELL (voice-over): And even Grace, who bore such a heavy burden personally, says she has achieved her aim. Thanks to her teachers, she says she expects to do well in her final exams. And when she sees how well she's doing, she says she thinks of her father looking down and feeling the pride she'd always hoped he would.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


CHURCH: And coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, angry Manchester United fans invade the pitch at Old Trafford. What they're angry about and what changes they want to see when we come back.



CHURCH: These Manchester United football fans are furious at the American ownership of their club. Chanting Glazers must go in reference to the Glazer family that bought the team back in 2005. This was the scene at Old Trafford just hours before the team was set to play Liverpool in a Premier League match. That match was postponed.

So here to discuss this is CNN World Sports Patrick Snell. Good to see you, Patrick, as always. So fans furious and they want to see changes. How did this all play out and where's it all going?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, these were absolutely resonating images coming in from English football's most famous names and most decorated names and most successful names. Manchester United and Liverpool. Sunday's mass protest of the iconic Old Trafford stadium. The big question this Monday, when will this fixture actually get played?

Let's reflect on what we saw Sunday. These scenes at the famous venue. Fans invading the forecourt there at old Trafford. This was hours before the fixture was due to take place. The protesters, as you were saying, chanting, we want Glazers out. And that is a reference to the club's American ownership -- Florida-based ownership and owners perceived essential to now failed European Super League breakaway faction of 12 clubs, six from England, including Man United and Liverpool.

Flares thrown. There was damage to camera equipment. Two police officers injured. One according to greater Manchester police after being attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face, requiring emergency hospital treatment.

The two teams, Rosemary, didn't even get to the ground to play. The match initially delayed. Then it was postponed. 1,000 fans had gathered at the stadium. Around 100 -- I want to be accurate with the reporting because I've seen all kinds of numbers.


But police say around 100 getting onto that famous pitch. Another 200 meantime protesting at a Lowry Hotel in Salford. That's where the United team is headquartered between home games. Now the team did eventually get to leave the hotel several hours later on Sunday evening. I want you to listen now to former United Player, Red Devils legend in fact, Gary Neville. He was at Old Trafford Sunday. Take a listen.


GARY NEVILLE, FORMER MANCHESTER UNITED DEFENDER: I don't think they trust the owners of this club. They don't like them. They think they should leave. I think beyond today, I think the reality of it is it should be about reform and regulation and making sure that obviously they can't do it again. That really needs to be because obviously protesting is the right of every single person in this country to do that. You know, we must retain that element of being able to protest.

However, I think beyond today now, I think it's a case of making sure that the fans across the country unite to ensure there's reform in English football. That is the most important thing. If anything today, it's got to be a precursor to that or else it will be a waste of time today if there isn't reform in English football.


SNELL (on camera): Well we would certainly love to hear from the Glazer family. We have an open invitation to come on here and speak to us. Man United is a club, Rosemary, saying that, look, they understand the passion of the fans, but they don't condone what they saw out there on the pitch Sunday. Back to you.

CHURCH: Absolutely. Patrick Snell, many thanks. Appreciate it. Well in the near future, visitors of Rome's ancient coliseum will have

the chance to stand where gladiators once fought. The Italian government has approved a plan to restore the arena. The 2,000-year- old structure is currently floorless. A Milan engineering firm won the contract with its vision involving rotating wooden slats. The floor is expected to be finished by 2023.

And thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. "EARLY START" is coming up next. You're watching CNN. Have yourselves a wonderful day.