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U.S. Nears End Of Pandemic As States Drop Mask Mandates; Former Gaetz Associate Strikes Plea Deal; Israeli Airstrike Crumbles 12-Story Building In Gaza City; Republicans Who Condemned Trump After Riot Now Embraces Him; Kobe Bryant To Be Inducted Into Basketball Hall Of Fame; "A Radical Rebellion: The Transformation Of The GOP". Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 15, 2021 - 18:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news in the escalating conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Moments ago, an Israeli airstrike destroyed a 12-storey building in Gaza that was housing several news outlets including the Associated Press and Al Jazeera.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The sirens are going off here right now. We're going to take cover behind a berm here, but when we can hear the sirens, I don't know if you can hear them. That means there's an attack rockets possibly coming in this direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you still wearing the mask?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to stay safe. I want to stay safe and keep all the other ones around me safe.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We are now exposing the two thirds of the country that are not yet fully vaccinated to potentially unvaccinated people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody knows where India is at. India is there. India is out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Houston Police Department says that they have received hundreds of phone calls, some of them tips, some of them alleged sightings of this animal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't go down to PetSmart and buy a tiger.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT Good evening to you. I'm Jessica Jean in for Pamela Brown this weekend. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And this week, an announcement from the C.D.C. that no one really saw coming. If you are fully vaccinated, social distancing is no longer necessary, and this is the big, big, big news, you can take off your mask in almost any situation.

For many people, grabbing a mask while walking out the door has been second nature for more than a year now. And as masks became normalized, they were literal in your face reminders of how abnormal life had become. COVID-19 has now taken more than half a million American lives. It has devastated families. It has wrecked jobs and livelihoods.

It has forced mental health into the collective consciousness.

Removing or altering those everyday small moments turned out to be not so small. So shedding this mask for some is shedding quite a burden, a sense that though it's not over, perhaps we've arrived at the beginning of the end.

And with that relief, also comes a little bit of confusion over exactly how this new C.D.C. guidance will work on a practical level. I want to bring in CNN national correspondent Camila Bernal in Redondo Beach, California, and Camila, This new C.D.C. guidance is throwing a lot of states and businesses for a loop as they sort through all of this.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jessica, there's so much confusion here. But I do want to say that everyone that I spoke to today is just happy to be able to take this off.

The thing is that while many states are telling residents that they can throw it away, here in California, they're saying not so fast. The state wants to review the guidelines, they want to look at the science, and then they will decide what exactly they want to do with their mask mandates.

But I talked to business owners today who say they simply want everybody to be on the same page because that will help them continue this transition into returning to normal.


BERNAL (voice over): To take it off or to keep it on.

SAMANTHA PAXSON, RESIDENT: I don't mind the masks, but I definitely feel like it's liberating to not wear them.

BERNAL (voice over): Trader Joe's, Walmart, Costco, and Starbucks say no mask required in most of their stores for customers who are fully vaccinated. But many small business owners like Jay Spangler --

JAY SPANGLER, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: I love taking this thing off.

BERNAL (voice over): Still unable to make changes and unclear about what they will eventually require from their staff and customers.

SPANGLER: I think that everybody wants to take their masks off. When people come in the restaurant and sit down, they first thing they do is they just want to rip their mask off. BERNAL (voice over): But what makes it even more complicated, states

in red in this map didn't require mask before the C.D.C. updated its guidance, states in blue updated their guidance, and others like California still reviewing their mask regulations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will continue to wear my mask around people that I felt are more vulnerable. And I think it's the responsible thing to do.

BERNAL (voice over): In the meantime, the Biden administration trying to answer questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What should I say when someone tells me they don't want to get vaccinated?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: It's important to understand what you're putting into your body, and this is especially important because we know there's a lot of misinformation swirling around. These are rigorously studied vaccines, doctors and nurses across the country are not only recommending them, but they're taking them themselves.

BERNAL (voice over): The experts have been on defense after the new C.D.C. guidance saying fully vaccinated people can go without a mask in most cases caused a great deal of confusion. The C.D.C. says the change was based on new analysis of data from vaccinated healthcare workers.

SPANGLER: The rules change so much that we just wait until the day of and then adapt on the fly.

BERNAL (voice over): Spangler believes there will still be confusion, changes and last minute notices. But overall --

SPANGLER: It's great to see people's faces again.

BERNAL (voice over): And he is hopeful about the future,

SPANGLER: The more we can fit inside, the better, just because we've got a lot of recouping to do.


BERNAL (on camera): It's really just the light at the end of the tunnel for these business owners, but it doesn't mean they don't have questions. There's a lot of concern as to people going into their businesses with preexisting conditions, or just people who are most at risk of getting severely ill.

But what I did hear from them is that they're at peace and that's because of the vaccine. When it comes to that vaccine, we have new numbers as to the percentage of the population that have been vaccinated. We now know that seven states are reporting 70 percent of their population has gotten at least one shot. And when we look at the country overall, we're at 47 percent of the population who has received at least one vaccine. What those numbers are telling us, Jessica, is that there is progress,

but the reality is that there's still a lot of work to be done.

DEAN: Right, quite a transition time. Camila Bernal for us live in Redondo Beach, California tonight. Thanks so much.

And with these new C.D.C. guidelines that Camila just outlined, you probably have some questions. So our guest today, Dr. Saju Mathew will have the answers for you and it's not too late to send in those questions. Tweet me @JessicaDean. You can also find me on Instagram @JessicaDeanCNN and we will try to get as many of those answered for you as possible.

Last month, a lawyer for an indicted confidante of Matt Gaetz suggested that the Florida Congressman is in trouble.


FRITZ SCHELLER, JOEL GREENBERG'S ATTORNEY: I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.


DEAN: And this week may have gotten even more uncomfortable for Gaetz. His associate, Joe Greenberg has now struck a deal with Federal prosecutors to greatly reduce his criminal case. He plans to cooperate in a sprawling investigation that includes a sex trafficking probe.

Federal investigators are still examining whether Gaetz was involved and broke Federal laws on sex trafficking, prostitution and corruption. They're also looking into whether he had sex with a minor. Gaetz has not been charged and he has denied any wrongdoing.

But let's bring in a panel now to discuss this. Marc Caputo is a national political reporter for POLITICO and CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson is a criminal defense attorney. Good evening to both of you guys.

Joey, I want to start with you. Gaetz was not named in the plea documents that were released on Friday, but read between the lines for us. What is this development mean for Matt Gaetz?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So Jessica, good to be with you. It's huge. And let's understand why.

This is a person who obviously is closely associated with Mr. Gaetz. What does that mean? It means he knows that Mr. Gaetz's penchants, his activities, where he is, where he was, what he was doing, who he was doing it with, et cetera, and so the fact now that you have a defendant who will soon be a convicted felon, who as state's evidence is highly problematic, because he is feeding the government material.

Now, hold on one second, the other side will say, my side, the defense side will say just that. This is a person you can't believe. This is a person you cannot trust, you certainly can't respect and why would the government put their faith in him? He is a person who is doing this, which would I'm saying, cooperating with the government, we're presuming he will be, right, in order to save his own hide.

And so that's what you'll see. I think you'll see two narratives, Jessica. On the one hand, you'll see the government and the prosecution say you have to accept everything he says if he knows what Matt Gaetz is doing, if anyone knows, it's him. On the other hand, you'll have the defense say you cannot believe anything he says. The nature of his cooperation is all about his own self-interest.

Having said that, it's never good to have someone who turns state's evidence who knows exactly what you're doing and who you're doing it with.

DEAN: All right, so you lay out the legal implications there. Marc, I want to talk about the political angle of all of this. What do you think it's going to take for Republicans in Congress, really the party of Trump to abandon support for Gaetz at this point? You know, we've talked to a lot of House Republicans, I cover Capitol Hill, what do you what do you see? How do you see that playing out?

MARC CAPUTO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, this is where the politics and the courtroom, the court of public opinion, and the court of law intersect. And it's going to take a whole hell of a lot more than Joel Greenberg.

This guy is about to plead guilty for lying about a political rival for having sex with a minor. I mean, to Joey's point, that's more than highly problematic. And there's a reason Matt Gaetz hasn't been indicted yet. Joel Greenberg's word is not good enough, either for the court of law, or for the court of public opinion or Republican politics and Congress.

Now, that having been said, as we reported at POLITICO, the girlfriend -- the ex-girlfriend of Matt Gaetz is in talks for an immunity deal. What is she going to say? And there are many signs that the victim, I guess, we can call her now a victim of the sex trafficking of a minor, she also is showing signs that she might be talking to prosecutors.


CAPUTO: Now, if that happens and if there's an indictment, I think that's going to be enough for Republicans to say, hey, look, we've got to step away.

Let's remember, one of the animating principles of the far right, which is within the fold of the Republican Party is QAnon, which posits a global pedophile conspiracy. You can't have a member who has had or is being indicted in Federal Court having sex with a minor is still sort of, say, oh, the other side is full of a bunch of pedophiles.

Now, I'm not equating the two or the like, I'm just saying that those political calculations and collisions are unavoidable if Matt Gaetz gets indicted. It is still an if. Joel Greenberg, again is just not enough.

DEAN: Right. That's the key question, if he gets indicted, but it also could affect state politics as well. Is there a potential for Gaetz to become a liability for Governor Ron DeSantis? Because he is running for re-election, and then ahead of a potential maybe 2024 presidential bid. Does he get kind of pulled into this at all?

CAPUTO: Well, I guess so and people are going to talk about it and that'll be one of the things you'll see Democrats try to do. But the biggest liability for Democrats is the fact that they've done a horrible job taking care of their own in the State of Florida, they haven't grown the voter rolls. They haven't fielded properly funded candidates. Their messaging has been off.

And until they have that properly secured and taken care of, I'm not sure Matt Gaetz is going to be enough to unseat Ron DeSantis, who according to a raft of new polls, including those taken by Democrats show he is more popular and he is more liked in Florida by voters overall than disliked. That's an important thing for DeSantis as he looks not only at 2022, but also 2024 because nationally, there's a lot of Republican buzz about Ron DeSantis for President.

It's early there, it's early in the midterm. But if Democrats are going to get Matt Gaetz stick to Ron DeSantis and make it count, they're going to have to do a whole hell of a lot better than they've done so far.

DEAN: And I want to put Matt Gaetz on the side for a second, Joey, go back to you and talk about another politician, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He could be back in the spotlight because investigators with the New York Attorney General's office have subpoenaed now at least three of the women who publicly accused him of sexual harassment.

I'm curious what this tells you and what you think the potential fallout from that is or where we could see that moving forward?

JACKSON: Yes. So Jessica, that's a big deal. And as much as it tells me that certainly they're pursuing the investigation, they're pursuing it with some vigor and they're trying really to get to the nuts and bolts of what happened, when it happened, how it happened, if anything did happen, and what were the circumstances of that.

And so obviously, it will depend upon what these women say, it will depend upon the circumstances upon which the Governor allegedly engaged in acts that were inappropriate on tour. The real element here is criminal, the government, of course, saying that making someone feel uncomfortable is not in and of itself criminal. He is certainly entitled to that due process and so we'll see what occurs.

It's important to note that there's multiple investigations, of course, the State Attorney General, having brought in independent lawyers, we have the State Assembly that's looking at an impeachment investigation. Now, of course, we have the Federal government looking at some Federal issues relating to the nursing home issue.

So all around, legal and political, there certainly represents problems. The end result will depend upon the facts, Jessica, as they always do. DEAN: All right, Joey Jackson and Marc Caputo. Thanks so much for your

insights. Have a great evening to both of you. Thanks.

CAPUTO: Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you.

DEAN: The curious case of the missing Tiger in Houston. Coming up, a court hearing for the man linked to the big cat and some new video. You see it there, showing him playing with it kind of like a dog. The ongoing question, where is it now?

And a hugely emotional night for basketball as the late Kobe Bryant is enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

But first, the White House weighs in after an Israeli airstrike destroys a building housing many major media outlets in Gaza City. Our Ben Wedeman is covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for us tonight and he is going to join us live in just a moment.



DEAN: Today in Gaza, an Israeli airstrike levels a 12-story building home to two major global media outlets.


DEAN: Journalists for the Associated Press and Al Jazeera were warned to evacuate about an hour before that 12-story building was reduced to rubble and anger for Al Jazeera English had this emotional response on air.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This channel will not be silenced. Al Jazeera will not be silenced. We can guarantee you that right now.


DEAN: Al Jazeera's Acting Director later called the attack a quote, "war crime" and it provoked this response from the Biden administration. On Twitter, Press Secretary Jen Psaki wrote: "Ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility." But Israeli Defense Forces maintain that the building also housed a research and development unit for Hamas that was operating technological equipment against Israel.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has the very latest now live from the West Bank. Ben, what more have you learned about this attack?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we understand is that even the AP in addition to putting out an earlier statement has added that the Bureau has been in the building for 15 years. "We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building."

Now, it's important to keep in mind that of course the Israelis did give an hour to the occupants of the building to evacuate, but it wasn't just AP and Al Jazeera, it was also many civilians who were living in the building as well. And this is just the latest of these bombings of multi-story buildings that just brought them crashing to the ground.

And I think it's important to make the point, every opportunity that Israel possesses the technology and the Intelligence to know exactly where these offices -- these alleged offices are -- and they could easily hit them individually rather than bringing down the entire building.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has been quite blunt, they believe this attack is an attempt to silence the media in Gaza as it tries to cover the Gaza end of this current conflict -- Jessica.

DEAN: And, Ben, what do you think likely comes next in this conflict? I know it's almost impossible to predict, but you're on the ground. What is your sense of what happens next and what unfolds?

WEDEMAN: We've had a rather odd couple of hours recently. Hamas declared what it is calling lifting of its curfew on Tel Aviv, that it would stop firing rockets from 10:00 p.m. to midnight tonight.

And in fact, they did. And when that time expired, there were rocket attacks on Tel Aviv and other cities in the south of Israel and Israel, as soon as that so-called curfew was over and Hamas fired those rockets launched a series of very violent airstrikes on Gaza -- in Gaza City. In fact, some airstrikes that were very close to CNN's Bureau there.

All the indications are that the Israelis appeared determined, despite some talk of efforts to work out a ceasefire. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister has made it clear, Israel will continue its operations in Gaza until it achieves its objectives which is to ensure the safety and security of Israel.

But of course, at the moment, Israel is dealing with a variety of challenges. In addition to Gaza, there is this unprecedented communal violence within Israel itself. We've had two days of intense clashes across the West Bank. There have been incidents on the border with Lebanon, and Jordan. So it's not just about Gaza at the moment -- Jessica.

DEAN: All right, Ben Wedeman, we are so grateful for your reporting tonight. Thanks so much.

And as Ben just mentioned, journalists from the Associated Press and Al Jazeera were among those forced to flee their offices right before an Israeli airstrike reduced their building to rubble. The Israeli military claims the building was being used by Hamas Intelligence agencies and the media offices were being used as, quote, "human shields."

Now this is new video just in to CNN that the AP recorded while their offices were cleared out. Take a look


DEAN: A remarkable video to watch that we just got into CNN in there to see them trying to evacuate as quickly as they could with all of that equipment.

Now later tonight, I'm going to be getting more information on that airstrike from Gary Pruitt, the President and CEO of the Associated Press, so we hope to learn more about that coming up a little bit later.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM, and up next, history re-written. An anti- Trump rebel's exile, as the Republican Party purges anyone bold enough to speak the truth. I'll ask former Republican Congressman Francis Rooney if he still recognizes his own party. He joins us next.



DEAN: The Republican Party is not moving on from former President Donald Trump. Yesterday, Trump loyalist, Elise Stefanik, a former moderate who has gone all in on the big election lie replaced Trump critic, Liz Cheney as the number three House Republican.


REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I also want to thank President Trump for his support. He is a critical part of our Republican team. I believe that voters determine the leader of the Republican Party and President Trump is the leader that they look to.

I support President Trump, voters support President Trump. He is an important voice in our Republican Party and we look forward to working with him.


DEAN: Now contrast that message with what G.O.P. leadership was saying in the days after the Capitol insurrection.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Trump and I -- we've had a hell of a journey. I hate it to end this way. Oh my God, I hate it.

From my point of view, it's been a consequential President, but today, first thing you'll see. All I can say is count me out. Enough is enough.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The President bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action for President Trump. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There is no question, none, that

President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it.



DEAN: Here discuss, former Republican Congressman from Florida Francis Rooney. Congressman, great to have you with us. Thanks for joining us.

We just watched those video clips there. For a brief stretch, it appeared after that Capitol attack that the GOP might hold President Trump accountable. But now several months later, he appears as influential as ever, what do you think is behind these changing dynamics?

FORMER REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R-FL): Well, I think it's the quest for Trump's base and they feel that Trump is link to that base and that's created this cult of the individual and I'm not sure what Republican Party stands for right now. Is it the party of Trump?

Is it the party of Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater that could accommodate different views and assimilate different views into a broad coalition? No, it's not. It's a very narrow one focused around a cult of personality. And history will tell you that cults of personality never work out well.

DEAN: I want to revisit what Georgia Congressman Andrew Clyde said about the insurrection on Wednesday. Let's play that clip.


REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol and walk through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures. If you didn't know the TV footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.


DEAN: A normal tourist visit. That's Clyde. Here's what he was doing during the January 6th attack. He's seen in that photo right there helping barricade the door. So those are two different big, wide perspectives there from one person. He was barricading the door and now he says what we just heard him saying there that they were just tourists.

Congressman, what do you think is driving this type of revisionist history from Republicans? You talk about cult of personality, I heard you in your first answer there, has this become a litmus test, especially for House Republicans?

ROONEY: Yes. I think a lot of people have really lost all foundation in principle in their devotion to Trump and there's a desire to cultivate Trump's base. For that guy to say that when you look at the pictures with the Trump banners hanging over the balcony of the Capitol and the people storming the Capitol with Trump banners, how can the guy even make a comment like that without being totally divorced from reality?

DEAN: So to you, you're saying that it's like a disconnect from reality in your opinion?

ROONEY: Well, and I think that it's a chase for the Trump base and to protect themselves at all cost. And this is a bigger question of what is leadership, OK. Where are our leaders that would drive our party forward versus protect themselves and hide behind Donald Trump to do it?

DEAN: What is leadership? So let's take that question and let's watch Liz Cheney. She weighed in on Trump's role in the party yesterday. Here's what she said.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Well, I think he is currently attempting to convince people that the election was stolen. He uses words like it was rigged. Every day now we see another release out from him and it's really dangerous. What it does is it undermines people's confidence in our system and ultimately, we've got to have respect for the rule of law. We had 60 state and federal courts that heard his claims rejected those claims. The Electoral College met. That's the end of it.

Now, of course, in this instance, it wasn't. But we've seen what he's capable of and he hasn't expressed any remorse or regret for January 6th. And I think it's very important for people to understand that the ongoing danger of a former president attempting to undermine the system in the way he is.

DEAN: And Cheney has said his continued influence, the former president, is partly a leadership failure by Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader. You were in Congress with McCarthy. You're talking about what is leadership. Do you agree it's a failure of leadership by him in this situation?

ROONEY: I think it's a failure of leadership by a whole lot of Republican senators and House members. They're all sucking up to Trump, if you will, for no better expression rather than going on about their business, describing the principles and values that have made our party great and have contributed to the success of our country.


They're hiding behind Trump because they think it helps them and that's a short-term strategy. Personality cults will not work. What we ought to be doing, in my opinion, is ignore him. Ignore him, isolate him, and move on and start to talk about what we stand for as Republicans, which is different than the Democrat agenda.

DEAN: Well, we'll see what the Republican Party ends up doing right now. It looks certainly with the House Republicans that they are focused on former President Trump to your point. Former Congressman Francis Rooney, thank you so much for your perspective. We certainly appreciate it.

ROONEY: Thank you for having me on.

DEAN: Yes. Any moment now Michael Jordan will induct the late Kobe Bryant into the Basketball Hall of Fame. We're going to talk about the event with reporter Carron Phillips. That's next.



DEAN: Any moment now, the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant will officially become a Hall of Famer. The Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2020 will be enshrined later tonight with the induction of the five time NBA champ set to be the main event. Yesterday, the Hall of Fame unveiled its new Kobe exhibit designed in part by his widow, Vanessa, and dedicated to Mamba. Both the player and the father.

Senior Writer at Deadspin, Carron Phillips, joins me now. Tell us a little bit, Carron, about what we can expect tonight.

CARRON PHILLIPS, SENIOR WRITER, DEADSPIN: First of all, there's probably going to be a lot of tears in the building. But that's not out the norm for any Hall of Fame induction, whether it'd be basketball or NFL or Major League Baseball. But with the events that have happened since Kobe's death in this COVID time where everyone is kind of spaced out at the location and it's not a packed house as usual, just going to be a very emotional night.

The other night we saw his daughter, his oldest daughter Natalia. They gave her his enshrinement jacket. So going to be a very, very emotional, especially with someone like Michael Jordan being his presenter.

DEAN: And you mentioned Michael Jordan. He's going to be presenting Kobe during that ceremony. It's significant. Explain why. Explain the significance of Michael Jordan being there to do this.

PHILLIPS: Well, when we think of Michael Jordan, our leading greatest basketball player of all time, Mike didn't really have a lot of friends. Scottie Pippen is there, Phil Jackson is there but even with Scottie that's a little love and hate relationship every now and then. It seems like every couple of years we learn something new.

But Kobe made it known and made it public that he was trying to be like Mike and be better than Mike. It started as like a mentor-mentee relationship that grew into something to where there was a report the other day from ESPN about how Michael Jordan still hasn't deleted or gotten ridded of the last text he got from Kobe.

And what started this young 18-year-old kid coming to the NBA and is nagging Jordan about all these questions turned into this very brotherly bond. And you got to see a guy who was the closest person that we've ever seen be like Mike. We saw Jordan speak about him and get emotional at the funeral and memorial service. So I will expect that same energy and heartfelt sentiment tonight.

DEAN: Yes. It's certainly going to be something to see and as you said, quite emotional.

Part of this is his legacy, so tonight really is such a key piece of Kobe Bryant's legacy as a basketball player, of course. How do you see him being remembered as a basketball player and his legacy really being enshrined along with him in the Hall of Fame?

PHILLIPS: We have one of the 10 greatest players of all time, but you also have him being enshrined with arguably the best Hall of Fame class along with Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. And then when you think about the relationship with Kevin Garnett, these were two of the first guys, not the first, but two of the first guys that came to the NBA from high school and were able to be huge stars and led franchises and won MVPs and won championships that ushered in that new era of high school kids coming and then college kids coming in with a one and done era we're in right now.

So when we're talking about Kobe Bryant, if you talk about the greatest shooting guards of all time, that list is going to go Michael Jordan and then Kobe Bryant. So you have that caliber of a talent and a basketball player, but just a man who - you've seen the resume, you see the 20 years with the Lakers, but when he was getting back to the women's game with his daughter, Gianna, and how he gave back to the WNBA.

And as he got older and retired out of the league, you saw him turning into an elder statesman just for the game of basketball, which is why when you're having Hall of Fame enshrinement like this with this class, especially with the untimely death of himself, his daughter and everyone who was on that helicopter, very, very emotional day and it all comes full circle that Kobe would be in this class with these players at this moment.

DEAN: Yes. Poetic almost in that way and what a loss. Carron Phillips, thank you so much for being with us. We'll all be looking forward to that tonight.

To understand the GOP today and how bizarre conspiracy theories have become the heart of the party. You have to examine its origins, Fareed Zakaria joins us next to discuss that.




DEAN: The Republican Party has become radicalized from a deadly insurrection to rampant conspiracy theories and it's making voting harder for Americans. But it's important to understand these radical tendencies in the party go back decades. CNN's Fareed Zakaria examines that in his new documentary, "A Radical Rebellion: The Transformation of the GOP."


It airs tomorrow night at eight and here's an excerpt.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) Republicans or Democrats back up off the door.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST (voice over): A bill in Michigan gives poll watchers more power to challenge voters.



GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA: I'm actually going to sign it right here, it's going to take effect.


ZAKARIA (voice over): A law in Florida makes mail-in voting much harder.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes are 100. The nays are 75.


ZAKARIA (voice over): And the law passed in Georgia ...


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R) GEORGIA: I will not back down

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Protect the vote.

CROWD: Protect the vote.


ZAKARIA (voice over): ... strictly limits drop boxes and makes it a crime to give water to voters standing online.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How inhumane can these legislators be?


ZAKARIA (voice over): These are all efforts by Republicans to make it harder for Americans to vote. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



ZAKARIA (voice over): And they have all been triggered by a lie.


TRUMP: We won in a landslide. This was a landslide. This is the most corrupt election in the history, maybe of the world.

I've just received a call from Secretary Clinton.


ZAKARIA (voice over): Trump won the Electoral College and thus the White House in 2016. But in 2020 ...


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: CNN projects Joseph R. Biden Jr. is elected.


ZAKARIA (voice over): He lost both the Electoral College and the popular vote.





ZAKARIA (voice over): That loss highlighted a big problem for Republicans. These days, they face a daunting challenge in winning real majorities. In the last eight presidential elections, the Republican candidate for president has won the popular vote only once.




ZAKARIA (voice over): In 2004.


ZAKARIA (on camera): The Republicans have found a way to lose and yet still win. This has made elements in the party sour on democracy itself. (END VIDEO CLIP)


DEAN: And Fareed Zakaria joins me now live. Great to see you, Fareed. Former President Trump supported many conspiracies during his time in office, most notably the big election lie. But you say this kind of behavior isn't all new to the GOP. Tell us more about that?

ZAKARIA (on camera): Thanks. Well, you really have to go back into its history and we start the documentary in 1964, which is really the pivotal moment where you have the creation of the modern Republican Party, Barry Goldwater, this fiery western conservative from Arizona and he creates what has become called the conservative base.

But what happens is that that base is fed a whole bunch of lies of mistruths or falsehoods that promise things that are never delivered. We're going to repeal the New Deal. We're going to repeal Medicare.

We're going to repeal Medicaid. None of it ever happens and so it grows more and more enraged, more and more wondering why these things aren't happening and more and more prone to conspiracy theories, that explain that the reason they're not getting their way is not that the American people like Medicare, but because there's a conspiracy and it goes back to McCarthy, but what has happened in the Republican Party is nobody has ever told the truth to the voters.

Republican leaders have played this game of firing up the base by feeding it these kinds of conspiracies. And the result is when you finally get a candidate and then a president who is conspiracy theorist in chief, it takes over the whole party. It goes from being at the outer fringes of the party to becoming the rock core of the party.

DEAN: And I know you talk to so many experts in all of this, kind of really digging deep into why this is the way it is and the history and evolution of all this. What else can we expect to hear from those experts and was there anything particularly where you thought, I didn't think about that way before or I learned something new by hearing from this expert.

ZAKARIA: I think probably the degree to which this is a story about betrayal that Republicans elites have constantly betrayed their followers by making them these grand promises and then not delivering, and how that betrayal then has created a culture of extremism and hate in the party, where they dislike more even than Democrats, their own moderates, their own leaders, their own presidents.

And you see this again, finally culminating in Donald Trump, who is a Republican nominee for president in 2016, who wins the nomination by trashing every other living Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, John McCain and both the Bushes.


That's a weird party where the standard bearer of the party gets to that place by trashing every previous standard bearer to the party.

DEAN: All right. Well, it is certainly very, very fascinating. Fareed Zakaria, thanks so much for being with us. And you can watch Fareed's full report, A Radical Rebellion: The Transformation of the GOP tomorrow at 8 pm right here on CNN.

Well, finally, the U.S. is nearing the end of the pandemic as new rules on masks take effect across the country. Dr. Saju Mathew joins us next to answer all your questions about post pandemic life and there's a lot of them. We'll be right back.