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CNN NEWSROOM

Federal Grand Jury Indicts Chauvin, 3 Other Ex-Cops in George Floyd's Death; Lawyer for Accused Capitol Rioter Says Client Had "FOXitis"; As Vaccine Rates Rise, So Does Demand for Travel; Pollster: Stressing the Benefits Likely to Help Vaccine Hesitancy; Chinese Rocket Debris Could Crash to Earth as Soon as Tomorrow. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 7, 2021 - 13:30   ET

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


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[13:33:27]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: As Derek Chauvin awaits sentencing for the murder of George Floyd, today he was hit with federal charges.

A federal grand jury has now indicted Chauvin and the other three former Minneapolis police officers who were involved in restraining Floyd face down on the ground for more than nine minutes.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us.

So, Omar, walk us through this new federal indictment.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ana, this federal indictment is on federal civil rights charges against all four of these former Minneapolis police officers.

Different from the state level and what Chauvin was convicted of just a few weeks ago.

But in this federal indictment, they list out three counts, all of them applying to the officers differently as you go through them.

With Derek Chauvin, specifically, on count one, it says of him that, "Defendant held his knee across George Floyd's neck and his right knee on Floyd's back and arm as he lay on the ground, handcuffed and unresisting, and kept his knees on Floyd's neck and body after Floyd became unresponsive."

The second count singles out former officers, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, saying they were aware that defendant Chauvin was holding his knee across George Floyd's neck as Floyd laid handcuffed and unresisting.

The third count encompasses them all, including former Officer Thomas Lane. And reads, "Specifically, the defendants saw George Floyd lying on the ground in clear need of medical care, and willfully failed to aid Floyd, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Floyd. This offense resulted in bodily injury to and the death of George Floyd."

[13:35:05]

Now, we've reached out to all four of the attorneys representing those former officers. We haven't heard back.

This is different, as I mentioned, from the charges playing out at the state level.

Also different from a recently announced Department of Justice probe into patterns and practices at the Minneapolis Police Department.

And different from a separate federal indictment announced, again Derek Chauvin, today, stemming from a 2017 incident where he allegedly had his knee on the neck of a teenager, even after he was cuffed, prone, and stopped resisting -- Ana?

CABRERA: Omar Jimenez, it makes a powerful statement just seeing these indictments.

Thank you.

The lawyer for an accused capitol insurrectionist is blaming FOX News for his client's alleged actions, claiming he was so hooked on that channel that he developed, quote, "FOXitis."

I want to get straight to CNN law enforcement correspondent, Whitney Wild, for this.

Whitney, just when you think you've heard it all.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: This is one of those creative defenses we've heard. And we've seen a lot of these over the past several months as we've been following these more than 400 federal cases that -- involved in this capitol 6th insurrection.

What we know is this man lost his job about six months ago. And in that time, he began watching FOX News a lot. That's according to his attorney, who said, for the approximate next six months, following the loss of his job, FOX television played constantly.

He became hooked with what I call FOXitis or FOX mania and became interested in the political aspect and started believing what was being fed to him.

Ana, what was being fed to him, according to his attorney, were the lies of election fraud consistently pushed by former President Donald Trump.

Antonio was charged with five federal crimes relating to the January 6th capitol riot, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on capital grounds.

In court documents, he's also accused of pouring water on an officer, being dragged down capitol steps. And they also say, once he got inside the building, he was throwing around broken furniture.

Antonio has not yet entered a plea, Ana, although, has clearly, through his attorney, offered some sort of explanation.

CABRERA: Whitney Wild, stay on it. Thank you.

Want to get more people to get the vaccine? Don't warn about what will happen if they don't. Pollster, Frank Luntz, has been doing the research on what will and won't convince Americans to get the shot. He's next.

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[13:42:14]

CABRERA: Vaccination rates are going up but so does the urge to travel.

Pete Muntean is at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for us.

Lay it out for us, Pete.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It's about to be so busy, Ana. You know, D.C. just announced its first tourism campaign since the pandemic hit. So many places are trying to cash in on this summer travel boom now on the horizon.

The TSA just said 1.64 million people passed through security at America's airports on Thursday. That's a new record of the pandemic. A 7 percent increase in only one week's time.

So it seems that the summer travel boom is getting an early start. The U.S. Travel Association says 72 percent of Americans will make at least one trip this summer.

And that projection really not far off from numbers back before the pandemic, back in 2019. So it's about to be big.

And the U.S. Travel Association says this could be the summer of the road trip -- Ana?

CABRERA: Pete Muntean, thank you. Tell your photographer, that is a gorgeous shot behind you, all that green. Oh, man, it makes me want to get outside.

Good to see you, Pete.

MUNTEAN: Good to see you.

CABRERA: The bottom line is we need more Americans vaccinated. And polling shows Republicans are still more hesitant than Democrats or Independents to get a shot. Now, long-time political pollster, Frank Luntz, is working with focus

groups to find out why.

A lot of it has to do with messaging. He says more Republicans would be more likely to get the vaccine if they heard more about the benefits of getting it rather than the consequences of not.

Frank Luntz joins us now.

Frank, vaccination rates are slowing down. Getting more Republicans to get their shots could potentially save thousands of lives. What can officials do to help make that happen?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLITICAL POLLSTER: And getting more younger women vaccinated will save thousands of lives. And getting those people hesitant in the black and Latino communities will save lives.

CABRERA: Absolutely.

LUNTZ: I think the key in all of this is to get your doctor, your pharmacist, the people who know you the best, and the more that we interact, the more that we combine the medical professionals with the people who they serve every single day, the more people are going to get vaccinated.

You know, they've got these great PSA campaigns, that you've got Hollywood celebrities, you've got notable people saying get vaccinated.

The truth is, based on our research, nothing does better than your own doctor making the call, sending you a video, saying, hey, I got vaccinated, so should you.

CABRERA: Please correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding was you've been doing focus groups specifically with Republicans and that's why we're focusing on that group that is hesitant.

But I appreciate your point, that there are other groups, too, that have vaccine hesitancy that we've been reporting on as well.

I do want to get more of the insights you've learned through your conversations.

[13:45:02]

Because I know, throughout the pandemic, we've heard messaging that the government's response has taken away your freedoms, whether it be the masks, not being able to go to restaurants, et cetera.

That is a big sticking point, you found, right?

LUNTZ: Absolutely. And the key to messaging is, it's what you get.

The de Beaumont Foundation came to us and they said use your messaging skills and figure out what will motivate people.

So I'll give you three examples.

Number one, if they find out that 90 percent of doctors or more than 90 percent have been vaccinated, that's the single strongest statistic.

Number two, you do the positive, not the negative. It's what you get back, how you get to go back to your life.

I'll give you an example. Relationships. Grandkids can't see their grandparents, and vice versa. The idea that you can tuck your grandkids to sleep at night, that you'll be able to enjoy your family again, that's the second most powerful impact.

And, third, if you want to return to normal, this is all that's required. That, in the end, be responsible, do what's right for yourself, do what's right for others.

You don't have to be forced into it. Don't do the mandates. The government should not be saying to people, "You must do this."

We should be saying to each other, just as your show is doing right now, it's the right thing to do for you and for the people you love.

CABRERA: Frank, there's been a lot of talk lately about vaccine passports when we talk about, you know, getting life back to normal.

But how does vaccine passports, how does that factor into your focus group conversations?

LUNTZ: Oh, it's been awful. And we've got polling data for you. And you're probably showing it to your audience right now.

It's the worst way to communicate what you've got, because Republicans look at it as just another government mandate.

Democrats look at it and say but people don't have access to passports, if you're not as well off, or you're not as educated, that it doesn't mean anything to anyone.

It should have been a vaccine verification.

We know that if it gives you the right to travel, it gives you the ability to return back to normal, people will do it, voluntarily.

But a passport is exclusive for some people, or a government mandate for others, and so it doesn't work.

I was really angry that this phrase took off because it actually prevents or discourages people from getting vaccinated.

That's my key message to you. Rather than demonizing those who haven't been vaccinated, let's celebrate those who have.

CABRERA: I like that. And I appreciate you sharing all that with us. I think it's so useful. Thanks for being here. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. We'll talk

to you soon as you continue these focus groups because there's a lot to learn.

LUNTZ: Thank you.

CABRERA: Space is full of junk, but it's not every day some of it takes aim at the earth's atmosphere. The big question is: Where will this rocket hit the ground?

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[13:52:15]

CABRERA: It's a bird. No, no, no. It's a plane! No, no, no. It's debris from a Chinese rocket that is plummeting to earth uncontrollably. And scientists don't know where it will land.

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MICHIO KAKU, THEORETICAL PHYSICIST, CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK: Like a bat out of hell this 20-ton rocket of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket is tumbling out of control. And it could hit anywhere as far north as New York City or as far south as New Zealand.

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CABRERA: That's reassuring, right?

CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon.

Barbara, he didn't really narrow it down there, but we do have a better sense of when we could see some action?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, perhaps. You know, the U.S. military now continuing to monitor this around the clock with their own sensors.

And, you know, I have to state the obvious. This is a story that is all about rocket science.

Right now, the calculation is it could impact the earth sometime between late Saturday into Sunday.

What they're looking for is when this rocket will punch through the atmosphere and then begin that final plummet to earth.

The concern is that it will be uncontrolled because, the way the Chinese, who put that rocket up to launch one of their space station elements, the way they did it, it doesn't essentially de-orbit the correct way, according to U.S. officials.

So, this rocket, 100 feet tall, 22 tons, hot metal, coming into the earth's atmosphere. And once it hits the atmosphere, the concern is, due to astrophysics -- don't ask me -- but they tell me it will begin to bounce around within the atmosphere. And there will be a significant rush to try and make the high-tech calculations about exactly where it will hit.

Look, the experts continue to say the overwhelming likelihood is somewhere into the ocean. The ocean covers, what, 70 percent of the world's surface.

That is certainly the hope that it just very quietly plinks itself right into the water and we don't have to worry about it again -- Ana?

CABRERA: Right. Twenty-two tons, that is a monstrosity of an object.

I know we've reported that the Defense Department is not planning to shoot this thing down because it is very unlikely it will end in a harmful way.

But at what point do they make that decision?

STARR: Well, the problem is the uncontrolled flight of this rocket. You have to, to some extent, know where it's coming in and where it is going to land and what kind of path it will be on.

The thing about trying to shoot something down, then it breaks into a bunch of pieces. And you have potentially a much more significant situation because you can't necessarily predict where all the pieces of debris go. And that's the real bottom-line concern here.

[13:55:08]

Space, space is crowded. And 27,000 manmade objects up there, you know, on a very crowded space highway.

The U.S. military wants to see nice, orderly traffic up there, like we've talked about. And right now, that is not what they see with this rocket -- Ana?

CABRERA: This is just a wild story. And I appreciate all the updates you brought us.

Thank you, Barbara Starr. Have a great weekend.

STARR: Thank you. You, too.

CABRERA: And thank you for being here with me, as well. You can follow me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera. I'll be back on Monday.

Meanwhile, the news continues next with Alisyn and Victor.

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