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Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) Holding America First Rally Amid Uproar; New York City Businesses, Actors Eagerly Awaiting Return of Tourists and Broadway; Chinese Rocket Debris Could Crash to Earth as Soon as Tomorrow. Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired May 7, 2021 - 10:30   ET

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


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POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Two of former President Trump's most controversial supporters in Congress, Representatives Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, are going to kick off a national speaking tour later today, the first rally of what they're calling an America First Tour, takes place in a retirement community in Florida.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Lauren Fox is live on Capitol Hill. So this, of course, not in either of their districts, what is the intention here and what is the turnout likely to be?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially these are two of the more embattled members of the Republican House Conference. You're dealing with Matt Gaetz, who is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice, of course, and reminding everyone at home he was not someone who had much support from his colleagues when news broke of that investigation.

Meanwhile, you have Marjorie Taylor Greene, someone else who has come under fire within her conference and, of course, was removed from her committee assignment in a vote of the House of Representatives a few months ago.

So these are two members who are really on the fringes of the fringe of the Republican Party, but their intention is, of course, to go out and try to boost former President Donald Trump to make sure that they are staying in the good graces of his supporters.

I think this is really just another data point when we are talking about what the future of the Republican Party is going to be that these two members want to stick close to Trump. They want to continue riding on his coattails and that the former president is still looming quite large in the party and isn't about to go away any time soon.

Of course, you have that ongoing drama with Liz Cheney and the fact that we expect that she will be ousted from her leadership slot next week in the House Republican Conference. So all of that sort of converging to tell the larger story of the fact that the Republican Party is very much still in former President Trump's back pocket. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Lauren Fox on the Hill, thanks very much.

Well, right now, U.S. Space Command, the U.S. military, other experts bracing for when and exactly where debris from a large Chinese rocket will slam into earth, just how big of a deal is this, what is the level of danger. We're going to speak to the former commander of U.S. Air Force Base Command, next.

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[10:35:00]

HARLOW: Didn't someone say New York was dead, wasn't coming back post-pandemic? I beg to differ.

SCIUTTO: Don't bet against New York from this New Yorker.

HARLOW: You're a real New Yorker. I'm just a transplant. But, yes, exactly.

Well, much of New York City is buzzing now again after the pandemic shutdown a lot more than a year ago.

SCIUTTO: Dramatic difference. Go see it for yourself. Thousands of New Yorkers returned to work but many are still waiting for the shows, the tourists, concerts to come back, and there is good news coming.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich live this morning from the Richard Rogers Theater on Broadway. What plays at the Richard Rogers Theater? I'm trying to remember what it is, something. When is it going to come back?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the goal is to have the show up and running September 14th. So we still have a little ways to go. But 100,000 people have been out of work here on Broadway, so this is really encouraging news. But it's going to take a little while for the shows to get back up and running.

It's also important for the restaurants and the souvenir shops in the area. They want the tourists to come back too.

We spoke to the lead actor in Jersey Boys who plays Frankie Valli, who says he is cautiously optimistic his show will open on September 14th. And we also spoke to a restaurant owner in this area who says that she's excited for the first time in a very long time.

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AARON DE JESUS, ACTOR, FRANKIE VALLI IN JERSEY BOYS: Being on a show like Jersey Boys that touches the lives of so many people on so many levels to not do what we love and share that with the world has been very difficult.

[10:40:09]

And I'm -- I for one am looking forward to the day that we can come back and start that all up again.

JASMINE GERALD, OWNER, JASMINE CARIBBEAN CUISINE: Wednesday nights was at Broadway night. So people come on Wednesday night and then they will eat and then they will go to Broadway. Now, Wednesday nights are like kind of the slowest nights.

So I know when Broadway open, definitely, tourists are going to come, definitely, people are going to come out more, they're going to eat.

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YURKEVICH: And I cannot impress enough how much tourism is the economic driver for this area. One way to kind of track that is ticket sales. Broadway ticket sales for some shows just went on sale yesterday. So that will be an indicator about whether or not tourists are ready to come back to this area.

But Hamilton and other shows are gearing up to open on that September 14th date and they're going to be expecting 100 percent capacity once again. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: I can't wait to take my daughter to her first Broadway show that has been delayed by this pandemic.

SCIUTTO: You can get back in the room where it happens, right?

HARLOW: Exactly, yes. Vanessa, thank you so much. We'll be right back.

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SCIUTTO: Right now, miles above our heads, debris from China's largest rocket is tumbling out of control in orbit and it's heading to Earth. It could crash as soon as tomorrow. China used the rocket to launch a section that country's new space station last week, the size of the debris hurdling towards earth about the size of a school bus, weighs 22 tons as it nears concern grows over the potential damage it could inflict, where it could land.

Joining me now is the retired commander of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, retired General William Shelton. General, good to speak to you again.

GEN. WILLIAM SHELTON (RET.), FORMER COMMANDERS, U.S AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND: Good to be with you, Jim. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: So, listen, debris is coming down from space all the time but the vast majority of it far smaller than this. This is big, 22 tons. Some of it will burn up in the atmosphere, perhaps not all of it. What is the degree of danger, in your view, right now?

SHELTON: Well, you know, 70 percent of the Earth is covered by water. So, you know, hopefully, that's where that debris will end up. But you're exactly right, some of that debris is going to make it back. Depends on the density of the materials, the melting point of materials, all that as it burns up through the atmosphere. So let's hope it's not much and let's hope it hits water.

SCIUTTO: Right now, the U.S., as you well know, people at home might not know, has a tremendous ability to track stuff in space down to the size of a softball. So they're watching this and we know that. They're already talking about it as they track it. But there's a lot they don't know about, including, as you mentioned, materials, things that are classified. So they can't predict be exactly -- I mean, how well can they predict, you know, the final moment exactly where it's going to land?

SHELTON: Well, the problem is, and there are several variables here that make it very difficult to really pinpoint the time. The latest time I heard is 7:13 P.M. Eastern tomorrow, but it's plus or minus nine hours. So that tells you something about the uncertainty. But it's based on the size. It's what's going on with the atmosphere. It's, again, those materials that it's constructed of, density. All those things are variables as it touches the upper atmosphere. Does it skip a little bit? Does it dig into the atmosphere and then come down more quickly? That's all -- that's all unpredictable, to tell you the truth.

SCIUTTO: Now, this is big. It didn't have to be that way. And one of the concerns here is that, you know, had this been a multistage rocket, stages would have been smaller, therefore, more likely to break up. is there something fundamentally unsafe, irresponsible that China did here? Because, by the way, same thing happened a year ago with another Chinese rocket coming into the Earth and some of that material landed on the west coast of Africa.

SHELTON: The vast majority of rockets don't have their first stage going into orbit. The first stage is usually launched from some place that's close to the water so that that first stage drops harmlessly into the water. Apparently, they have constructed a rocket here in the first stage and makes it to orbit with the payload and that's what causes the problem because it's uncontrolled at that point. And there's no way to really pitch it back to where you would like it to land.

SCIUTTO: So that sounds like a fundamentally unsafe decision by China to do that, because then this situation we're in right now is predictable.

SHELTON: Yes, it certainly is designed (ph) to us and there has been a lot of consternation expressed on that very point.

SCIUTTO: From the U.S. to China, you're saying? In other words, expressing concerns about this very kind of thing?

SHELTON: Well, U.S. to China, yes. Yes, from the U.S. but other nations as well. This will be an equal opportunity offender as it comes down. You don't know which landmass it may hit. But as kind of the leader of the space domain, the U.S. has the strong voice here. SCIUTTO: Now, I wonder, I mean, should there be rules about this? I mean, there's been talk for years about some sort of new space treaty, right?

[10:50:01]

I mean, we have got treaties that control the use of nuclear weapons, for instance. You set bars so that everyone is following the same rules. Does this show us that we need, and particularly because everybody is launching stuff into space now, more and more countries?

SHELTON: Yes. Treaties are difficult. You know, a treaty that you can't verify is really not worth a whole lot. And it's very, very difficult -- given the volume of space, it's very difficult to have a verification regimen where you can really enforce that treaty.

The first steps are more like norms of behavior. And we've been in discussions for many, many years on norms of behavior in space. And it's high time, frankly. As we think about launching thousands of objects into lower orbit here, or broadband constellations and that sort of thing, we need norms of behavior so that everybody is playing off the same sheet of music and everybody is focused on safety of flight. We just don't have that sort of thing right now.

SCIUTTO: I know that U.S. is tracking this now, but they said openly, we won't know until later exactly where it's going to come down. There are too many variables, including space weather, as it's known. But when we do get to that point, you know U.S. capabilities very well. Can folks at home be confident that at that point they'll know exactly who is in danger and who is not, if anyone?

SHELTON: You know, as we get down to -- as it comes down in altitude and we get to the last few orbits, we get a lot more certain of where it's going to come. But I can remember times when I was still on active duty, when we might have been half on orbit or a full orbit off in our prediction. So I don't think anybody can really responsibly say at this point that we will know especially the time until you see it burning up as it's coming through the atmosphere.

SCIUTTO: Wow, half an orbit, that is 12,500 miles, if I got my math right. General William Shelton, thanks so much for coming on. We appreciate it.

SHELTON: Good to be with you, Jim. Thank you.

HARLOW: Holding our breath, I guess, for tomorrow. Yikes.

All right, well, President Biden is set to speak in just a few minutes. He'll talk about, of course, this morning's jobs report, which is a big disappointment. We're standing by for that. A quick break, we'll be right back.

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[10:55:00] SCIUTTO: Deadly protests now amplifying the toll this pandemic is taking on the people of Colombia. At least 26 people have been killed, hundreds more injured since the violent demonstrations began more than a week ago there.

HARLOW: Our Polo Sandoval joins us in Colombia this morning. Walk us through what is going on. Obviously, they completely think the government has not taken care of them through this.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that's what's really fueling frustrations, Jim and Poppy. As you see behind me here now, the Parque Nacional's park, it's in the heart of the city of Bogota. You see corporations from what will likely be a peaceful protest.

Now, you certainly have to recognize that some of the protests, especially overnight at the neighboring city of (INAUDIBLE), that we have seen these protests boil over and we have seen people killed as a result of these protests. But what we are seeing is also a strong condemnation coming from the government but also from peaceful protesters that they will not stand for that kind of violence. They feel that they have a legitimate concern right now that they want the government to hear out.

And let me take you back to last Wednesday so we can kind of understand the dynamics of this. This all started with a tax reform act that was introduced by President Ivan Duque to try to pull this country out of this economic difficulty that they've been experiencing, especially because of the pandemic. However, many of the critics of that reform package said that that would take the pocketbooks of working Colombians and especially some of those that have been struggling for a very long time. So they withdrew that program.

But now, this is the result. There's this still widespread anger. There are people with a clear message here. Their demands are pretty simple here. But I know they're not simple address, and that is to address the economic inequality worsened by COVID and also to address heavy-handed police tactics, or at least what they describe as heavy- handed police tactics, as we prepare for what might be another long day of protests (INAUDIBLE).

SCIUTTO: Polo Sandoval, good to have you there.

HARLOW: Thank you, Polo.

All right, before we go, a quick programming note, you're going to want to watch this. CNN has a brand new special series, What's Going On, Marvin Gaye's Anthem for the Ages.

SCIUTTO: The special explores why 50 years after its release, the album has become an anthem for a whole generation. It starts Sunday night 8:00 P.M.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking What's Going On. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the first time that I understood poetry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one, the greatest albums ever made.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His melodies were like a voice of cry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He created something that will last.

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