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Floyd Family Reacts To Federal Indictment Of Former MN Officers; Thirty Killed, 50-Plus Wounded In Explosion Near Kabul Girls School; Summer Travel Boom Coming; One Year Later: Pregnant Doctors Fighting COVID In the E.R.; Dems Push "For The People Act" In Senate; Tentative Bipartisan Agreement On Key Issues In Policing Overhaul. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired May 8, 2021 - 12:00   ET



BRANDON WILLIAMS, GEORGE FLOYD'S NEPHEW: I just want to say thank you to everybody that's up here standing with us. Congressman Al Green, always there, we appreciate you, as well as Mr. Bass. I call Ms. Jackson Lee aunty. She's always there. Random (ph) Tate 2:00 in the morning some nights. Always there, he even comes to eat with the family. So, she's definitely part of the family.

But we appreciate everything that you do. And of course, we call being the Michael Jordan silver rice (ph). That's what our family calls them. Always there. Always hard working, always on the front line fighting for the cause. I think everybody on the road appreciates you, so thank you, brother.

But on a lighter note, I feel good to be here. We grew up right across the street in the Cuney Homes, that's where we were raised. We were a big family. I grew up with Rodney and George was always like a father figure to me. We slept in the same bed and there was a lot of play fights and things of that nature. So, it's really significant to be here right - right at their home.

But I think the only reason we're here - so yesterday on a call, it was - it meant a world. We were very grateful for it. If you saw a video, it's self-explanatory. We all know that it was a murder and a torture in broad daylight. We all noticed civil rights were violated.

But for some reason, with video footage, evidence and everything supporting exactly what we saw, we somehow never get these charges. And for what reason? That's to be - that's to be identified later. But we are grateful. In other situations, you see similar things and no charges are brought.

I'm going to go back to on the day we heard the guilty verdict. I was actually on FaceTime as the Judge read the verdict. And I was on FaceTime with Ms. Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor. And it's one thing that stuck out about the conversation - there were two, the fact that she cried, and she cried really hard for us. We are reconnected with him.

But as the judge read the verdict, she said that she was happy for us. She said that I'm happy for y'all. And I stopped her. I told her, no, you're happy for us. This is a moment for America. This is a moment for you too. This gives you hope. And she said that, she said that she had hope. That she was proud because, (inaudible) her daughter wasn't right. And we're still fighting for charges for Breonna Taylor.

So, in a sense, this was for America. And immediately after the guilty verdict, we held a press conference similar to this. And one thing that stuck out to me was something I said, and I never rehearse or write down anything I say. And my exact words were. "So when I say today is a pivotal moment, it's a chance for America to take a turn in the right direction, and right a lot of wrongs, so that we don't keep adding to these names."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Brandon.

WILLIAMS And when I said that that's exactly what I meant. It shouldn't be another George Floyd. I lost a man that was like a dad to me. He was also a father to children. He has a eight year old daughter. He has brothers there. They would just love to call.

A lot of days I find myself having tough days, and I usually call him just for life advice, or just laugh about a sports game. And I can't do that. No family should go through what we went through. It's unacceptable. When is it going to stop? But this gives us hope.

This lets us know that there is change on the way if we keep pressing and mashing (ph) the gas for people in leadership to pass laws. We need better policing. We need police reform. It's no way that the color of your skin or your race dictates how you are policed when in police custody. That's absolutely unacceptable. But I'll close out on.

BEN CRUMP, GORGE FLOYD FAMILY ATTORNEY: We have time for like four questions. And then the family have to get to the next graduation. Any questions? All right.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: What a passionate moment right there out of Houston at Texas Southern University. There you have the nephew of George Floyd, Brandon Williams, who said, no one should go through this. But this gives us hope. Talking about the death of his uncle, George Floyd who was like a father to him.

But then consequently, after his death and the conviction of the Minneapolis Police officer, Derek Chauvin, he says, this as well as the federal charges now just imposed on the four Minneapolis police officers, he says this gives us hope.

And of course, we heard from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who said, "This is demonstrative. Now the Department of Justice is now open for business and lives will be saved." And Congressman Al Green who said, "The winds of change are blowing across this nation. This as a result of the Department of Justice and now imposing federal charges against the for Minneapolis Police officers.


Our Omar Jimenez has been covering all of this since the very beginning. He's joining us right now. This is an emotional moment for this family and for all those involved. You heard the nephew and the brother of George Floyd talk about how - like family members, the members of Congress, Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee have been threw out, and how they believe this is a turning point and.

Also, Omar, we're also joined by Tim Alexander, a Civil Rights Attorney and former Police Detective. He's also Democrat running for U.S. House seat in New Jersey. But Omar, let me begin with you about these federal charges, and now that the consequence of such, and how this is making the George Floyd family feel, particularly.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the Floyd family, I think we heard in some of this press conference, they're emphasizing that this moment is bigger than just their family, and they want that message to be clear for other families who have gone through similar tragedies.

I mean, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee listed out the names of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and more. And they hope that the Federal indictments that have come down, given the opportunity to reinvestigate some of those other cases that, as the Congresswoman put it, languish without a proper form of justice.

So, when you look at these actual federal indictments that were brought down again Derek, Chauvin - two federal indictments against Chauvin, but one encompassing all of the former Minneapolis Police officers. And these are in addition to the state charges that Derek Chauvin was convicted on, not too long ago, but that the other officers are still waiting for.

So it really - you get the impression that officials - again, both at the state and federal level did not want this to go by without bringing the full weight of the justice system down on these former officers. And I think for a family like Floyds they look at that and say, while, this is great for us, and we really appreciate this. It can't end with us. And this consistency needs to be available to, unfortunately, the next family, the next hashtag that inevitably pops up in these types of scenarios.

WHITFIELD: And, Tim, heard it from the nephew there, Brandon Williams, who said, this is not just for us, that this is what he heard on the phone when he was on FaceTime with Breonna Taylor's mother who said you know, I want to congratulate you. And he says, really, this is not just for us, this is really for America.

So, Tim, talk to me about your reaction and thoughts to these federal charges, which include willfully depriving George Floyd the right to be free from unreasonable force by a police officer. Two of the officers also charged in connection with their failure to intervene in Chauvin's use of reasonable force.

And then all four were charged with failing to give Floyd medical aid. How much of a groundbreaking set of charges is this from your viewpoint?

TIM ALEXANDER, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: This is exactly what I've been talking about this. First of all, let me acknowledge and give thanks to the fact that since our former AG Jeff Sessions shut down these type of Justice Department interventions, we haven't seen this type of reaction from the Justice Department.

So the Floyd family is correct, that this is a rebirth. This is now an opportunity for us to have the Justice Department review these types of police brutalities. I am ecstatic about it. I think back to my own experience of being abused by - at the hands of police department, and there was no Justice Department review. This is a good day. This is a new dawn.

And to the charges that the Justice Department brought, they're spot on. This is exactly what I've been arguing before I decided to run for Congress. That the ideal situation would be if a police officer sees another police officer abusing one's rights, assaulting someone, when the situation is calm, and you have the - whatever they were dealing with addressed, that officer should turn to the person who was breaking the law in front of them and say you're under arrest.

And I've said this a million times. If they fail to do it, then they are a conspirator to the crime or aiding and abetting at the very least. And here the Justice Department just proved that very point with the indictment for failure to intervene. That's exactly what we want to see happening.

WHITFIELD: Intervening and checking each other. We heard Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee say, while she's - she wants to - she is stepping out of her boundaries. While she's not going to influence the Department of Justice, she did say, however, that she would hope that this would be impetus for the Department of Justice to revisit cases like Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, asking for reconsideration.

To what extent do you believe that might happen? And what kind of potential difference might it make in your view if the Department of Justice does do that?


ALEXANDER: We know that there's no statute of limitations on murder. So they certainly can go back and review those cases to see if they should bring appropriate charges. Now, we're not talking about the actual murder of those individuals, but the violation of those rights within the statute. And that's the only consideration that this should give is, as the statute expire for what they can bring as far as charges.

And I think that they should be extremely expensive. And even by the way, let me just say this, that even if they can't come with charges, they certainly could still do a review and give - issue a report on the Justice Department's - their response to their review and explain why they can't bring charges.

But at least identify that yes, we acknowledged that this was wrong, this was potentially criminal, but for the statute of limitations, we can't do anything. But nevertheless, we're now going to issue a review of the overall Department actions based on what we found here. That certainly must - it's not, should happen, it must happen in order for us to start healing our country.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Tim Alexander, Omar Jimenez. Appreciate you both.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: So the Police Reform Bill named in honor of George Floyd is finding bipartisan agreement on some key issues. Sources say a group of Democratic and GOP lawmakers working on a law to overhaul policing, appear to be finding some common ground on major parts of the bill.

For the very latest let's bring in Daniella Diaz on Capitol Hill. So Daniella, tell us about what you're learning.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Fred. That's exactly right. These negotiators are very close to reaching a deal on bipartisan release of police reform legislation.

These three negotiator negotiators include Congresswoman Karen Bass, the former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus; Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina; and Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey. These three had been speaking the last couple of weeks countless times to try to meet in the middle on a Police reform bill that can pass through the Senate.

And here's what we've learned. We've learned that they were able to meet on the middle on some of the sticking points that they've been working on, including setting standards on no knock warrants, banning chokehold except in life threatening situations, and placing limits on equipment that Defense Department can send to police departments. Those were the three issues they were able to meet in the middle on.

Now, there are still two issues that remain that are sticking points for these negotiators including qualified immunity, which protects police officers in civil court, they have not been able to reach a deal on this issue. Scott has proposed shifting responsibility to police departments rather than the individual officers. But Democrats have said they want officers and police departments to be held accountable.

Now, another sticking point is this Section 242, a part of the Federal Law, which sets the standard for criminally prosecuting police officers, Scott has said many times that this is a red light for him.

But bottom line is that these negotiators - these three lawmakers are racing to cut a deal before May 25th, which is the anniversary of George Floyd's death. Even President Biden has said that he's hoping that legislation could be passed by then. But look, Congress was out last week. They're back in session this week. So, we expect these negotiations to continue in-person, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Daniella Diaz, thank you so much on Capitol Hill. Appreciate it. All right, coming up, we're following breaking news out of Afghanistan, where at least 30 people are now dead following a blast close to a high school for girls. We'll bring the latest next.



WHITFIELD: All right. There's breaking news out of Afghanistan. Officials say an explosion near an all-girls high school in Kabul has killed at least 30 people and injured more than 50 others. So far, there are no details on what caused the explosion or if there was a target.

According to local reports, the blast happened as students were leaving the school. The Taliban is denying responsibility. Here now to talk about this, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton, CNN Military Analyst and former Intelligence Officer.

Colonel so good to see you. Of course, we still don't know a whole lot. But when you hear these elements, these facts all-girls school happening near an explosion and now the deaths of more than 20. What immediately goes to your mind about how this could have happened and why, potentially?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, certainly, Fredricka, it's - you know, it's very clear that this was a deliberate ad. This is not a random gas explosion or something like that. The timing of it, in particular, the fact that the girls were leaving the school, it was the end of the school day, that definitely points to deliberate attack.

And that's the sad part about this, Fred, because what you're dealing with here is just the beginning of a concerted effort. Even if the Taliban did not do this particular attack, it plays into their hands and that's one of the things we really have to worry about and the Afghan civilian population has to worry about as we wind down our presence there.

And particularly because of the shared leadership of the Taliban and current Afghan Government structuring, and with the announcement of the U.S. Military pulling out troops there, what has been your concern about this shared government leadership? And any threats or anticipation that Taliban rule, particularly as it pertains to forbidding the education of girls, that there might be a greater possibility of a return to that kind of influence?


LEIGHTON: Well, I think the return to a much more restrictive policy in regard to the education of girls is definitely in the cards. If the Taliban gain control of the Afghan government, we are going to see far less education of Afghan girls, we're going to see repression, not only of girls, but of minority groups within Afghanistan, of which there are so many. And it's going to be a very difficult time for a lot of different people in that country and let alone the people that are part of the current government.

And then when it comes to the current government structure, and the fact that there's this double headed monster, if you will, or a multi- headed monster that we're dealing with in the form of a governing force, it really weakens the central government's hand. And it's going to be very, very difficult for them to not only work out - work their way out of this, but also to assume any degree of legitimate control over the countryside.

Right now, they have control over the cities, but they don't have control over the countryside and that's a major concern.

WHITFIELD: And if I can ask you really quickly too on the timing, because while the U.S. is talking about 9/11, withdrawal, the timing that something like this would happen right now, what kind of signal is that? I mean, there's an intentional signal, right?

LEIGHTON: Yes, there is absolutely. What they're trying to do is, they're trying to get us out of there. Give as much crisis feeling in Afghanistan and hasten or withdrawal. They're going to use it as a propaganda ploy against us.

But they're also going to warn the government that they are not going to be in control of this country much longer, in their view. And they're also going to make it a lot harder for the government to exercise the remaining control that they have.

WHITFIELD: Colonel Cedric Leighton, I appreciate your expertise. Thank you so much.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Fred, anytime.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, an out of control Chinese rocket set to reenter Earth's atmosphere sometime this weekend. Officials don't know when or where the debris will drop. We'll discuss what the game plan is. So many unknowns, that's next.



WHITFIELD: All right. As coronavirus cases and hospitalizations reached their lowest point in nearly seven months, air travelers are shattering records. The Transportation Security Administration screened 1.7 million people on Friday, passing the previous pandemic record set just the day before.

And after many people have spent the past year cooped up, there's also huge interest in vacation rentals and road trips. As CNN's Pete Muntean reports, bookings are already on the rise.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hui Zhang said she needed to reset from working from her home in Washington D.C. for more than a year, so she booked this weekend getaway in rural Virginia, close enough to drive, because she thought flying was too risky.

HUI ZHANG, AIRBNB GUEST: I just need to pause a little bit. I just want to refresh my mind.

JOAN HULVEY, AIRBNB GUEST: Pretty much booming. Its days booked just about every night.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Joan Hulvey runs this centuries old cabin now rented out for 16 weeks straight on Airbnb. Just the latest example of a summer travel season that could feel more like before the Pandemic.

The U.S. Travel Association says 72 percent of Americans will make at least one trip this summer.

ROGER DOW, PRESIDENT, U.S. TRAVEL ASSOCIATION: This is very close to what we normally find. We find going this summer 75 to 80 percent of Americans say they're planning on taking a trip away from home. This summer is going to be really a comeback for travel.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): While the CDC relaxed, it's traveled guidelines for those who are fully vaccinated, overseas flights and Caribbean cruises are still bogged down in pandemic restrictions, that's why experts say prepare for the summer of the road trip.

HULVEY: I've had people call me and said, I've just got to get out of the house. I've got to get Tim out and he's driving me crazy.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Gas prices are already going up, in part, because demand for driving is coming back. The average price for a gallon of gas has increased 60 percent in the last year. In some places as high as $4 per gallon.

JEANETTE MCGEE, AAA: While summer travel is not going to be what it was in 2019, it's not going to exceed pre-pandemic levels, it's going to be close.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): KOA Campground says this year's bookings are 20 percent higher than 2019. Yosemite National Park is so popular that it's now requiring reservations. And in Hawaii, rental cars are in such short supply that some have taken to renting U-Hauls instead.

One study says the top destinations include beaches and cabins, like this one, for a summer travel season that's about to look like no other.

DOW: You can't get a rental car. You can't get an RV these days and people are taking to the roads in the good old American road trip.


MUNTEAN (voice-over): Pete Muntean, CNN, Quicksburg, Virginia.


WHITFIELD: All right, happy traveling. All right, up next. It was Mother's Day last year when I was joined by a panel of doctors who were all pregnant, working at the same hospital, by the way. They discuss their concerns as doctors expecting children during a global pandemic.

Well, this Mother's Day weekend, that same trio is back with me. That's coming up next.

And tomorrow night, join Don Lemon for a look at Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking album, "What's Going On", 50 years after its release. Why has it become an anthem for a new generation?


MARVIN GAYE, AMERICAN SINGER: Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking "What's Going On",

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the first time that I understood poetry.

GAYE: And picket signs. Don't punish me with brutality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one a great albums ever made.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His melodies were like a voice of Christ (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He created something that lasts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 50 years later. Why is it an anthem for a new generation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This prophecy man.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: What do you think Barbara (ph) would think about "What's Going On"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CNN special report, What's Going On: Marvin Gaye's Anthem For The Ages tomorrow at 8:00.



WHITFIELD: OK, so tomorrow is Mother's Day, let's call this whole thing, Mother's Day weekend. But for many reasons, you know, this entire year really has been a huge challenge for so many moms everywhere. And that's especially true of three incredible women that we spoke to last Mother's Day.

Each of them are E.R. doctors, each of them happen to be pregnant at the time with daughters, while they were also fighting COVID at the same time, at the same hospital in Maryland. And now Lida (ph), Olivia (ph) and Annalise (ph) were each born last year, all within a few months apart. And here's how their doctor moms said that they were feeling last year before giving birth. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, PRINCE GEORGE'S HOSPITAL CENTER: We, initially, were so excited that we were all pregnant at the same time and all having girls and it was all our second child. So we had all these commonalities that --


CLAYBORNE: -- were really exciting. And I think, you know, in early February, when the pandemic first hit, that excitement shifted a little bit to being nervous and afraid. And we were entering uncharted territory as most of the country in the world was and I think -- I feel so fortunate that I had both of them to kind of lean on.

I've talked to several other pregnant colleagues who, and all the mothers out there, who might be pregnant or, you know, at risk, and you feel alone and isolated, you have this elevated risk, you don't really know what to do. So I was so happy that I had two other females that I could bounce ideas off of.


WHITFIELD: Oh, that is so nice, that kind of partnership. And here they are with their bundles of joy now. Hello ladies. And I mean that times six now. The super doctor, super moms with me now.

Doctors Elizabeth Clayborne, Michele Callahan, and Tu Carol Nguyen, all of you doctors, thank you so much. And Happy Mother's Day to you all. And I love your bundles of joy, they're all beautiful. And they're hanging tight through this shot.


WHITFIELD: And all quiet for now. Oh my gosh. They are in tuned with the moment. Well, let me begin with you. Dr. Clayborne. Oh, there we go. Yes. Thank you. Dr. Clayborne, you first, you know, we saw you there a year ago talking about that intersection of anticipation, anxiety. So what has this past year been like?

CLAYBORNE: Well, Fred, it's really nice to reflect upon the last year and really, even though a lot of us have been through what I would consider a traumatic year, a challenging year. It's also a year that was filled with so many blessings, like --


CLAYBORNE: -- I, you know, gave birth to this beautiful baby girl. And she's not aware that there's a pandemic going on in this world. And so, every time I come home, even though there's been a lot of stress, I still is going to come home to the like the joy and energy of my daughter Lida (ph) and my other daughter Ada (ph).

And so, I'm tired, I'm fatigued but like a good fatigue in a way that I still feel like I'm doing such important work in the E.R., but also doing important work as a mom and just trying to juggle it all and do the best that I can. And even though it's challenging, it's very rewarding, as most moms will tell you.

WHITFIELD: Oh, important work. And Dr. Nguyen, I loved how Annalise (ph) was clapping just at that moment. So she concurs. So Dr. Wynn, what have been, you know, the stresses of the rewards that have, you know, come with being these women who have remained in the workforce in this past year. And in some cases, you know, you all are the breadwinners too of your families.

DR. TU CAROL NGUYEN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, PRINCE GEORGE'S HOSPITAL CENTER: Correct. I mean, it has been somewhat stressful. We have to go back to work after like three to four months being at home with our kids and everything. And so being away has been a little bit difficult. And then rebalancing, you know, going -- with COVID as well as our children. But it's been very rewarding.

Going to work is stressful, but we all enjoy our jobs very much. And in itself, it's a rewarding job and then coming home and better to be able to be with our families and our kids and just -- we're just -- it's actually -- despite some of the stress at work, coming home, we're just really happy to spend every moment we can get (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: And Dr. Callahan with Olivia (ph) there, right? You know what will you be, I guess, is it too soon to even think about, but what will you be considering, you know, as we hear, you know, discussions about vaccines for, you know, our younger family members and, you know, if and when Olivia (ph) will become eligible, what will you be weighing? How will you navigate this world of vaccines with our little ones?


DR.MICHELE CALLAHAN, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN, PRINCE GEORGE'S HOSPITAL CENTER: I'm fully on board for vaccination. She was actually born with a heart condition which we're monitoring, but she is kind of in a higher risk group where she to get COVID. So I am definitely on board with anything I can do to protect her, to protect my son. I have no hesitation about it.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And, you know, and ladies, you know, we wanted to talk to all of you tomorrow. But, of course, like so many of us, working women, you'll be working on Mother's Day. And, you know, I know a lot of people ask me to, you know, well, how do you juggle being a mom, being a working person?

And I say, there is no juggling, you know, or even balancing, it really is just kind of prioritizing. So I wonder for you, you know, Dr. Clayborne, you know, tell us how you, you know, relish in this personally and professionally.

CLAYBORNE: Yes, you know, Fred, I really think that Mother's Day is an important time to acknowledge that it does take a community, you know, it takes a village to raise children. And so there are a lot of people that helped me do what I do.

And I just feel so fortunate that I have my parents who live nearby, my mom is very active and she, you know, she gets to be in her grandchildren's life, I have an amazing live in nanny, who makes it possible for me to go to work so I could focus on patients and know that my children are well cared for at home. My husband is supportive of the career that I have, even though it requires a lot of work and a lot of hours.

And so, I think that as a mom on Mother's Day, I like to also celebrate everyone behind the scenes, right, that makes being a mom possible, especially in the modern age where a lot of us are working and a lot of us are professionals.

And for, you know, people out there that are struggling, that are moms that don't have as many resources, you know, take a look at those (INAUDIBLE) that might need help. You never know who they are, and make sure that you're always offering, you know, a helping hand and knowing that someone might put on a good front. I think a lot of us come off as super women, but we're not all the time when we do need help. And so for me (INAUDIBLE) is, you know, admitting when I need some help and asking for it.

WHITFIELD: Oh, fantastic advice. Dr. Nguyen, how do you see it? You know, what were your advice, you know, to moms who are, you know, trying to manage a lot, and particularly during this pandemic?

NGUYEN: I mean, I'm also very fortunate as well with having (INAUDIBLE), my mom lives with me, my husband's able to (INAUDIBLE) so that has been great. Media advice, I guess I have to -- you know, mothers who are working and trying to juggle everything in time of COVID, I mean, you just try to do the best you can. If there are resources out there, that's going to work for you and your family, really try to (INAUDIBLE).

WHITFIELD: Right. Thank you (ph).

And Dr. Callahan, I understand that you're pregnant again. Congratulations.

CALLAHAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Oh, fantastic. So, what, you know, how are you approaching this pregnancy, given what you have already been through in the last year? And what would be the advice that you impart to others, perhaps in a similar predicament as you, situation as you?

CALLAHAN: I think that by now, we're sort of all used to this new way of living. So it's not been a huge adjustment for me. I am very thankful that I was able to get the vaccine very early on in the pregnancy and so, I feel really reassured by that.

And I encourage women who are pregnant, who are a little bit hesitant about it to, you know, consider a talk with your doctor, because I think, you know, it's known that pregnant women can have more serious cases if they do contract COVID. And there's also been, you know, it's been shown that you can have antibodies to your baby.

So I think something that has made me excited is to be vaccinated, but I don't, you know, day to day, I don't think it's going to be very much different than the last one because it wasn't that long ago, and we're sadly still in the pandemic.

WHITFIELD: Well, congratulations. You all are all phenomenal. Thank you so much. And thank you to Lida (ph), Ada (ph), as well, big sister, Olivia (ph) and Annalise (ph) and Dr. Nguyen, Dr. Callahan, Dr. Clayborne, you're all magnificent, fantastic examples and so inspirational. Thank you so much. And thanks for juggling at all, doing it all.

CALLAHAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Happy Mother's Day to everybody, and to all of you at home as well. We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: On Friday, Texas lawmakers voted to move forward with its own voting bill that could make it one of the most difficult places in the country to cast a ballot. This week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new bill into law that curves mail-in voting, puts in place tougher voter ID requirements and limits who can pick up and return a voter's ballot.

And that's all on top of Georgia's controversial voting law which limits outdoor dropboxes, changes voter ID requirements and bans handing food and drinks to voters waiting in long lines.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are pressing forward with plans to combat many of those changes. The Senate is working on a House passed For The People Act which would largely expand voter access.

Joining me right now to talk about all of these live from the National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day event in Atlanta, Georgia, Democratic Congresswoman Nikema Williams. So good to see you, Congresswoman.


REP. NIKEMA WILLIAMS (D-GA): Thank you for having me and having this important discussion today, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Absolutely. And first off, Happy Mother's Day weekend. I know you're a mother of a small one. So your battle, you know, for voter rights --

WILLIAMS: Thank you, thank you.

WHITFIELD: -- goes back to your days with the young Democrats of Georgia, does the, For The CNN fight, look even more bleak when you have legislatures from Georgia to Texas and Florida now passing what critics are calling voter suppression laws?

WILLIAMS: So fortunately, for us, Fredricka, here in the south, especially in Georgia, the home of Congressman John Lewis, the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, were the cradle of the civil rights movement. So we understand what it's like to be under these oppressive systems that are continuing to be an affront to our voting rights.

And we have a history of standing up and speaking out and fighting back. And so, while the state legislatures are passing laws that are the equivalent to what we saw in the Jim Crow era days, we might not be counting jellybeans in a jar, but their results that they're seeking are still the same to keep people like me away from the ballot box.

What we know is that people are going to continue to turn out in spite of, and we are going to do the work and get into that good trouble that Congressman Lewis spoke about to make sure that we get national response to these voting restrictions and pass H.R. 1 because it should not matter where you live in this country, your right to vote should be standardized, your zip code should not determine your access to the ballot.

WHITFIELD: So H.R. 1, For The People Act, I mean, it's still getting tweaked in the Senate, but you say, you know, you really need to get that passed in order to, you know, combat some of these new laws on the state level. But right now, it appears as though there is very little chance in this U.S. Senate of clearing the 60-vote threshold needed. So then what?

WILLIAMS: So we still have to look at this filibuster. The filibuster is a relic, also of the Jim Crow era and we have to make sure that we're not allowing procedural maneuvers in the United States Senate to get between people in their right to vote, because that's what's happening right now.

So we're still having conversations on the Senate side with our Democratic colleagues that are not yet completely on board. But I am confident at the end of the day that the United States Senate will be on the side of the people and on the side of democracy, and make sure that everyone has free and fair access to the ballot.

WHITFIELD: And then let me get your thoughts on this other very important topic, the police reform right now. There is a bipartisan group of lawmakers, senators, in particular, who are trying to find some compromise, how hopeful are you?

WILLIAMS: So I have every confidence in my colleague Karen Bass, and the work that she's doing with the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act. I know that there are tough conversations that are happening right now. And I completely have faith in her that as an end result, when we see a final product, there will be accountability measures included in the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act so that we can make sure that we're moving forward in a way that all people feel safe in this country when it comes to interactions with the police.

WHITFIELD: So while it appears right now, the leading senators working on this, you know, Booker, Bass, and Tim Scott, while there are some agreement on no-knock warrants, on banning chokeholds, and limitations on equipment provided by the Department of Defense, it still seems like it's the qualified immunity issue where there is much consternation. Tim Scott is, you know, saying here is some compromise, perhaps it

would be the police departments held accountable instead of individual officers accused of bad acts when it comes down to any kind of civil lawsuits. Do you feel like that is a good compromise or do you feel like there's still a lot of work to be done on the issue of qualified immunity?

WILLIAMS: So there is absolutely still work to be done. Accountability is the key in this. What we saw in the Chauvin case is that that was one case where an officer was held accountable.

And we have to make sure that we have a standardized process across the board so that all police are held accountable in their interactions and what they're doing. And so that's why I am a firm believer that we need to repeal qualified immunity because accountability is the key in this whole process.

Congresswoman Nikema Williams, we'll leave it there for now. Thank you so much again. Happy Mother's Day weekend.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, an out-of-control Chinese rocket headed straight for Earth. It's 100 feet tall, 22 tons. And officials don't know exactly when or where the debris might land. So how are preparations being made? That's next.



WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. All right, we begin this hour with breaking news, a massive exploding in Afghanistan has killed at least 30 people and injured more than 50 others. The blast happened just outside in all girls' high school in Kabul. Local reports they have happened just as the girls were leaving the school.

CNN International Security Editor Nick Paton Walsh is following these breaking details for. So Nick, what more are you learning about this explosion?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: As you said, Fredricka, it does appear to have targeted a girls' school or girls leaving a school in the west of the capital Kabul.