Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

The Israelis And Palestinians Fighting Intensifies And The Death Toll Rises; Confusion And Relief On New CDC Guidance On Wearing Masks; Missing Tiger In Houston Turned Over To Authorities; Former Matt Gaetz Associate To Plead Guilty And Cooperate; Rising Consumer Prices As Inflation Speeds Up; Colonial Pipeline Return To Normal Operations. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 16, 2021 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:00]

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: We're now getting heartbreaking images of children being rescued from the ruble of buildings that were leveled by Israeli airstrikes.

Elsewhere, an Israeli airstrike took out a house and a refugee camp killing 10 members of one family including eight children as they slept. An infant was the only survivor.

Amnesty International calling for an investigation into that attack as well as the airstrike that leveled a high-rise building -- we showed you this yesterday -- housing offices for Al Jazeera and the Associated Press.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended that airstrike earlier this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: And here's the intelligence we had. It's about Palestinian terrorist -- an intelligence office for the Palestinian terrorist organization housed in that building that plots and organizes the terror attacks against Israeli civilians. So it's a perfectly legitimate target.

One of the, I think AP journalist said, we were lucky to get out. No, you weren't lucky to get out. It wasn't luck. It's because we took special pains to call people in those buildings to make sure that the premises were vacated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Hamas launched rockets over Israel overnight. At least one of them hitting a synagogue in Ashkelon, blowing a hole through the ceiling. And CNN's Nic Robertson joins me from Israel. Nic, you know, the violence just seems to be escalating by the day.

The United Nations Security Council held a meeting on all of this violence this morning. What are you seeing on the ground and is the U.N. doing anything at this point to stop this violence? NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, on the

ground here you get the impression over the past couple of days that the number of rockets that Hamas and other groups are firing out of Gaza has reduced. The number of times the sirens, for example, in this city have gone off is not as many today as it was yesterday as it was the day before.

The synagogue being hit in Ashkelon just a little bit behind us and I think my cameraman, Freddy (ph), might have just spotted something over my shoulder because it's behind me there that you'll see the intercepts of the Iron Dome missiles with the rockets that are fired over here.

If that happens and if there's an air raid siren that goes off warning us of an incoming attack. We may have the move to another location, but we'll stay here. It hasn't gone off. But this is the sort of nature of the conflict at the moment. What seems quiet one minute, isn't the next.

And certainly, we've heard from the Israeli prime minister today, Benjamin Netanyahu, indicating that as far as he is concerned, that the conflict is not done. That he hopes that will be soon, but he says it's not over just yet.

And I think the intensity of the strikes on Gaza today indicate that going after tunnel systems, going after weapons caches that are there. And also, taking out the headquarters of -- taking out the house, rather, of the political leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar. A real political message there being sent to Hamas at this time.

But as far as the U.N. is concerned, yes, there's mounting pressure on both sides here to deescalate and come to some sort of cease-fire arrangement. But the difference in gap between the two sides, as you can imagine, is big.

Just listen here to the Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister and Israel's ambassador to the United Nations taking part in that meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RIAD AL MALIKI, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY FOREIGN MINISTER: Israel is persecuting our people, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. We are not two neighbors living side by side in peace. Israel is the armed thief who has entered our house and is terrorizing our family.

GILAD ERDAN, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF ISRAEL TO THE UNITED NATIONS: For years Hamas has been using international aid not to help the people of Gaza but to abuse them. It has built a vast web of underground terror tunnels which snake beneath playgrounds, maternity wards and mosques with the clear strategic goal of increasing the number of Palestinian civilian casualties when Israel is forced to respond.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTSON: That's the gulf of disagreement that exist there. Those rockets that we thought we could see that Freddy (ph) saw, he tells me while we were listening to that clip there, he saw three rockets. Laura (ph) has been checking her alert system here. It appears that they were headed for Batsheva in the center of Israel where the sirens have gone off. So, Jim, look, it's still going on. The rockets are still coming out. This is far from done.

ACOSTA: All right. Nic Robertson, stay safe. Obviously, this is an active scene where you're at right now, but as always, appreciate the reporting. I'm joined now by the host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS" right here on CNN, Freed Zakaria.

Fareed, there two basic facts here that after Hamas launched rockets at Jerusalem, Israel is defending itself and that Israeli airstrikes are killing Palestinian civilians.

[17:05:01]

And when you listened just a few moments ago in Nic's report to those representatives from the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority, it doesn't sound like either side is close to any kind of cease-fire in any of this. And the rockets are still flying over Nic Robertson's live shot a few moments ago. How do we get out of this?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Well, even if we do get some kind of cease- fire, and I think you've described the situation very accurately, even if we do get a cease-fire, it will be a band aid.

The fundamental political disagreement in dynamic has gotten much worse over the last 10 years as the Israeli government under Netanyahu has basically decided that it doesn't need to solve the Palestinian problem. It doesn't need to deal with the fact it has these four, five million people who have no political rights living in the territory Israel controls.

Instead, it's trying to make peace deals with the moderate Arab states. That process was encouraged and abetted by the Trump administration. And now this has all erupted, you know, in their faces. So, until you deal with that issue, you're just going to have a series of temporary band aid cease-fire even if we get both.

ACOSTA: And why is the sudden escalation between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews so significant to those unfamiliar with the region?

ZAKARIA: Well, there are two things. One, Jerusalem is highly contested. So the efforts by Netanyahu's government to evict Palestinians living in Jerusalem is in a sense -- triggered as to what the ultimate shape of Jerusalem will be. Will it be a shared city or will it be an exclusively Jewish one?

But what is happening as you said, is this is all now spilling into Israel proper. You are seeing clashes between Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews. Twenty percent of the citizens of Israel are Arab. And if this now becomes a deep polarized, even violent clash within Israel, then you for first time, I would say, you start to worry about the stability of Israel itself.

ACOSTA: And you worry that we're passing the point of no return here when it comes to coexistence between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I was talking to Leon Panetta, the former defense secretary, CIA director, yesterday and he is worried about all-out war.

ZAKARIA: Well, at the end of the day, I'm not as worried about that in the sense the asymmetry of power is so huge to that you can't really have much of a war. I mean, Israel is the regional superpower. You can see this in the casualty numbers, right. It's about a 20 to 1 difference between the number of Israeli casualties and Palestinian casualties. Twenty Palestinians for every Israeli.

So, you know, there will be some kind of order but it will be a pretty brutal order imposed by Israel's extraordinary and very capable military.

ACOSTA: And I want to talk to you about your special that's airing later tonight, "Radical Rebellion: The Transformation of the GOP." It airs tonight at 8:00. Let's take a look and talk about on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA (voice-over): Let me give you some snapshots of the Republican electorate today.

UNKNOWN: We need to stop watching the media and start getting the facts.

ZAKARIA (voice-over): In a CNN poll conducted after January 6th, 70 percent of Republicans said they did not believe that Joe Biden won the election legitimately.

UNKNOWN: There's too much evidence of fraud.

UNKNOWN: Fight for Trump.

ZAKARIA (voice-over): Over 40 percent believe Bill Gates is planning to use the COVID-19 vaccine as a pre-text to implant microchips in people's brains in order to track them.

And roughly one in four Republicans agree with the key tenant of the Qanon conspiracy, that a group of Satan worshipping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our media and politics.

UNKNOWN: Joe Biden is the biggest pedophile on the face of the planet.

UNKNOWN: It's not a conspiracy. It's a fact.

UNKNOWN: Fight for America.

ZAKARIA (voice-over): It becomes impossible to deny. The Republican Party today has been infected by a series of crazy conspiracy theories. Why? (END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And Fareed, are we going to get to an answer to that question why?

ZAKARIA: Yes, Jim. I mean, in a way, you've been covering a lot of the craziness today. What I try to do is go back to the roots. And what you find is that Republican leaders have consistently fed fantasies, you know, fake news to its base to an increasingly conservative base to explain away the fact that, you know, they've never really tried to implement any of the crazy ideas that they put out there, repealing the new deal, repealing the great society.

[17:10:07]

And so instead of that, they have always, you know, fed them the fantasy there were some kind of conspiracy. That somehow there were some shenanigans that didn't make stuff happen. And the base has believed it. And the base has become the increasingly conspiratorial and increasingly prone to believe that there is some great betrayal at work. Why are they not getting the things that their leaders have promised them?

You know, this goes back to Goldwater, to Nixon, to Reagan, to Newt Gingrich. And Trump really, the big transformation is Trump realizes he doesn't need to speak in code anymore. He doesn't need to, you know, to hint at this.

He becomes the conspiracy theorist in chief and that's why you get these stunning numbers now, 70 percent of Republicans believe the (inaudible) election was eligible, 40 percent believe Bill Gates is trying to control their brains. I mean, these are crazy numbers when you think about it.

ACOSTA: And I will tell you, I mean, when I saw what happened on January 6th Fareed, I described it as a bonfire of the insanities because to me it seems like everything that you're talking about really culminated on January 6th and just exploded in front of our eyes. I'm wondering though, do you see a way out of this for the GOP? You know, they see by and large Donald Trump as the leader of that party despite what happened on January 6th.

ZAKARIA: It's going be a long road. Liz Cheney is not going to find this easy at all because one part that we talk about in the documentary, whole segment, is the rise of a militant Christian right that really has come to believe in a kind of apocalyptic version of end of days, the (inaudible) or the country is collapsing. Civilization is collapsing. They have to do whatever they can to save it.

You reported on this on January 6th. A lot of those people were praying before they were going and storming the capital. And when you have that kind of level of (inaudible), it's very difficult to dial it down. It's very difficult to turn it off. They think the stakes are civilization itself and they are going to do what it takes to -- and you know, the ends justify the means. ACOSTA: Yes. And really what we're looking at, I think, Fareed, is a

flirtation with fascism in this country and I know that you're exploring all of these dark subjects in this documentary. We'll be watching it later on tonight. Fareed Special "A Radical Rebellion: The Transformation of the GOP." Don't miss it. It is tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.

Coming up, 330 million people now on the honor system as more Americans unmask. Questions remain about how the new CDC guidelines will be enforced.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:15:00]

ACOSTA: Relief and confusion can be felt nationwide right now following the CDC's long-awaited move to lift the mask mandate for fully vaccinated Americans. Major retailers wasted no time falling in line with Publix, Walmart and others telling their customers its okay to lose the mask in their stores.

But this of course is all reliant on 330 million people following I guess sort of an honor system at this point. A concern that CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky was pressed on this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: I think that people who were not inclined to wear a mask were not inclined to wear mask before Thursday.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But some of them were mandated to do so and those mandates are lifting in part because of your new guidelines.

WALENSKY: Yes. And what we're really asking in those settings is to say, in terms of the honor system, people have to be honest with themselves. You're protected if you're vaccinated, you're not if you're not vaccinated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And CNN medical analyst, Dr, Jonathan Reiner, joins me now. Dr. Reiner, we kind of had an honor system since the beginning of all of this. We've needed people to act as though they care for the welfare of other human beings in our society. What do you think of Dr. Walensky's prediction on how all of this is going to play out?

JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: You know, I think the CDC has gotten the science right, but they've gotten the messaging wrong and they have been sort of boxed in by politics. So, let me explain that. So, look, if you're vaccinated, you are basically immuned to this virus. You're sort of incredibly well-protected from getting sick or dying. So, there's really no danger to you going basically anywhere without a mask. So the question is what about those who can't get vaccinated now, kids, or those that even if they're vaccinated, they might be at risk. The immunosuppressed. Maybe people who are getting chemotherapy, maybe some organ transplant patients. How do you protect them?

And the way you would protect them ideally would be to know who is vaccinated and who is not vaccinated. And the unvaccinated folks would still be required to wear a mask. And this is where politics comes in. At the very onset of the Biden administration, they made it clear that vaccine passports would not be part of their agenda.

If we had had a very simple electronic system from the beginning, basically you have a pass on your phone that turns green after you've been vaccinated, businesses and venues all over the country would be able to say good news if you have a green pass you don't need to wear a mask. Those with a red pass still need to wear a mask on the premises. And we don't have that.

ACOSTA: Yes.

REINER: So, how do we go forward?

ACOSTA: Yes. I mean, if you had that, Dr. Reiner, you would also have a lot of screaming oh, they're tracking me and that sort of thing with my phone and all that. Sadly, we've had to deal with just a lot of people passing on disinformation as you well know.

But following this new guidance, CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leanna Wen, wrote this in "The Washington Post."

[17:19:55]

It says, "Let's say you go to the grocery store, it's crowded and a few people are masked, perhaps everyone is vaccinated, but perhaps not. What if you don't have child care, so you had to bring your kids along? They didn't choose to remain unvaccinated. The shots aren't available for them. Surely it's not fair to put them at risk."

Is it safe for that unvaccinated child, Dr. Reiner, to be in that scenario where people could be around unmasked and unvaccinated?

REINER: It's not safe for that child to be in that environment without a mask. The problem with, and I agree, you know, I know and admire Dr. Wen greatly. The problem with that is that children won't be protected until the fall at earliest, maybe, you know, the early winter.

So, at what point do we relax masks standards for the country? Tomorrow we'll pass an important milestone. We'll pass 60 percent of adults in this country, people over the age of 18 with at least one shot. So, how many more folks in this country do we have to get vaccinated before you can drop masks standards

Because if we're protecting kids, if that's the goal, to protect kids and it's certainly important, kids won't be, you know, vaccinated until the fall. Are we going to keep indoor mask standards until that point? It's a very difficult problem. I feel for her. My kids are big. Her kids are small and I understand

why she feels this way and, you know, she's right about the science, but the policy is very difficult.

ACOSTA: Yes. And I think the answer is we just have to start looking out for one another. It hasn't happened yet overall, unfortunately. Let's talk about this. SNL poked some fun at some of this widespread confusion last night. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: Hi, we're four friends from three different households.

UNKNOWN: We're all half vaxed and traveling by train from Florida to the U.K.

UNKNOWN: One of us is old and severely at risk.

UNKNOWN: And one of us is a baby.

UNKNOWN: So, how many of us should wear masks and in which order?

UNKNOWN: And go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: It's still a little bit of a mess, isn't it, Dr. Reiner? We're trying to feel our way through.

REINER: It is. And so I can simplify it. If you have not been vaccinated, you can still die of this virus. About 600 people die every day. Every single one of them is unvaxed. If you are vaccinated, you'll be fine. But, you know, I love what you say, Jim. We should approach how to wear a mask and when to wear a mask as a community project.

If you're going to be in place with people at risk, put a mask on. If you're going to be in a place where people are going to be uncomfortable if you're not wearing a mask, put a mask on.

Look, I can walk around D.C. without a mask, but when I get into an elevator, in the parking lot, I make sure I'm wearing mask because I don't know how the person who is going to maybe share the elevator feels.

So let's be considerate. Let's be a country, let's be a community and take care of each other. But the truth is now, people who are vaccinated are very well protected and the 40 percent of adults in this country who have not yet received a vaccine are still at great risk. I encourage them to get vaccinated.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. That's the key. And I think just taking care of one another, if we can end on that note, I mean, I think that is the key in all of this. It's how we're going to get out of out of it. And as we were saying in the last hour, don't be that guy. If you're not vaccinated and you want to walk around, swan (ph) around

without mask on, you're just putting yourself at risk. You're putting others at risk. Don't be that person. Don't be that guy. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Coming up, people in Texas breathing a sigh of relief. A Bengal tiger missing in Houston for nearly a week has been caught. How this wild search finally came to an end, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:25:00]

ACOSTA: A pet no more. This teal rhinestone collar, looks something out of "Bling Empire" was removed from the neck of a tiger which was missing in Houston for almost a week. "India," the nine-month-old Bengal cat is now safely residing at an animal sanctuary. Thank goodness. CNN's Rosa Flores has details. Rosa?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, according to the Houston Police Department, a concerned citizen called police about this missing tiger yesterday and this person according to police, knows Gia Cuevas. Gia Cuevas is the wife of Victor Hugo Cuevas, the man that was linked to this missing tiger who from the get go, through his attorney, has denied that he owns this tiger.

Well, according to police, he is the owner. Now, the transport to authorities happened yesterday. Today, that tiger is either on its way or is already at a sanctuary in northeast Texas called "Black Beauty Ranch." Once that tiger arrives, it will get a full medical evaluation. The director says that this tiger will stay in the sanctuary through its life expectancy (inaudible) half-acre habitat that will have trees and a pool.

Now, it costs about $10,000 to $20,000 a year to take care of a tiger. And "Black Beauty Ranch" is a non-profit organization. The director of this organization of this sanctuary says that overall, the cat looked healthy.

[17:29:55]

Now, of course, a lot of us are wondering, we saw a lot of videos and pictures of this cat interacting with humans. So, will this cat miss his human companions? Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOELLE ALMRUD, SENIOR DIRECTOR, CLEVELAND AMORY BLACK BEAUTY RANCH: It's amazing how quick they adapt to not being around people. You know, they are wild animals. They go right back to being a wild cat. They do not show any adverse effects from not being around humans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORES: As for the humans who owned "India" the tiger, Victor Hugo Cuevas and his wife Gia Cuevas, the Houston Police Department says that it does not plan to file any charges to issue any citations in this case of a missing now found tiger. Jim?

ACOSTA: All right, Rosa, thanks. Coming up, the potential new legal trouble for Congressman Matt Gaetz and his former friend and wingman strikes a plea deal and agrees to cooperate in a sex trafficking probe.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Some horrific new video just into CNN shows the moments bleachers packed with people collapsed trapping some underneath.

[17:35:02]

It happened at an orthodox synagogue in the West Bank. But before we show you the video, we want to give you warning that what you're about to see is disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

ACOSTA: That is just unbelievable. CNN has learned that two people were killed including a child believed to be about 12-years-old. More than 100 people were injured and taken to hospitals. And we'll keep tabs on that and bring any new developments as they come in.

In the meantime, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz may be feeling the pressure this weekend after a former associate has struck a deal with federal prosecutors. That associate, Joel Greenberg, we've been hearing a lot about him, was potentially facing decades in prison on 33 federal counts, but instead he will plead guilty to just six counts in exchange for cooperating with a sprawling sex trafficking probe.

And CNN's Paula Reid joins me now. Paula, great to have you with us. What more are you learning about this deal that Greenberg has struck and just how bad could this be for Matt Gaetz?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Greenberg's deal is not good news for Congressman Gaetz. This is a very close associate who is now cooperating with federal investigators. As you noted, the congressman is currently under investigation for prostitution, sex trafficking and sex with a minor.

But Congressman Gaetz is not mentioned anywhere in the 80-page plea agreement that was released on Friday, but the key graph from that agreement, it reveals that Greenberg will admit in court that not only did he have sex with an underage girl more than seven times, he also introduced her to other men who also paid her for sex. And that is the question, Jim. Who are those other men?

Now, we know from our sources that the investigation into Congressman Gaetz is pretty much wrapping up on the ground. Then that decision will go up to Washington where it will likely have to be decided at the highest levels of the Justice Department whether there is sufficient evidence to charge a sitting congressman, also someone of course, who is a close associate of former President Trump. It's a very delicate decision.

Now, on Friday, the congressman's spokesman once again denied these allegations, pointed that the congressman was not mentioned in the plea agreement and he also took some shots at Joel Greenberg's credibility. And Jim, that's fair.

In this plea agreement, Greenberg admits to accusing someone else falsely, of being a pedophile. Joe Greenberg is a very imperfect witness. But we can tell from sort of how generous this plea deal is to Mr. Greenberg, that it is likely that they probably have other evidence to corroborate what he's saying.

We know from our sources that investigators have hundreds of transactions, records of those transactions, and other witnesses that they are all putting together to just try to learn more about this case.

ACOSTA: All right, Paula Reid, it sounds like that corroborating evidence is going to be key in all of this. All right, Paula, great to see you and we know you're following it down in Orlando. We'll check back in with you.

Joining me now to talk about this and other topics, CNN political commentator and columnist for "The Bulwark" Amanda Carpenter and Dave Aronberg. He is the state attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida. David always has his hands full down there in Palm Beach County.

Let me ask you this, Dave. Federal investigators obviously do not hand out plea deals for nothing especially to alleged child sex traffickers. What do you think the bar is here for federal authorities to agree to something like this? Obviously the corroborating evidence is key. They're not just going to hang this all on Greenberg.

DAVID ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Yes, good evening, Jim. Federal prosecutors will not cut this kind of deal with an alleged child sex trafficker unless that individual has some evidence that the Feds believe is trustworthy to implicate others who are equally or more culpable than he is or a bigger fish.

Now, it's clear from what we know that Joe Greenberg is the most culpable person here. But he went down from 33 counts to 6 because there's a bigger fish. And that would be a sitting member of Congress, a person in a position of trust.

And it is indeed ironic in our criminal justice system, that the person who is the worst will get the deal that is the best because he has the information that is most accurate and will implicate the most amount of people. That sound you hear right now is the sound of a bunch of Florida men calling their lawyers.

ACOSTA: And Amanda, Gaetz is not laying low during the scandal. Sign of the times. People don't lay low anymore even in this kind of hot water. Here he was speaking in Ohio last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Just imagine the irony here. I am being

falsely accused by exchanging money for naughty favors, yet Congress has re-instituted a process that legalizes the corrupt act of exchanging money for favors through earmarks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[17:40:00]

ACOSTA: Did you hear that Amanda? Naughty favors as what Matt Gaetz was talking about there.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, that's an awfully strange way to characterize allegations of trafficking a minor for sex. I mean, that is what we're talking about here. We're talking about a minor, 17-years-old being paid for sex by older men.

We don't know who but to call that a naughty favor, I mean, that's just an awfully callous and dismissive way of characterizing that kind of act which shows you how seriously Matt Gaetz takes this.

But it is also interesting the way that he is sort of continuing to use Trump as political cover. He was speaking, you know, there in Ohio to I think a crowd of about 400 people. He was in The Villages last week. He's going to Arizona.

I mean, essentially, they are doing Trump rallies without Trump. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, two of the most controversial members of the Republican Party now are continuing to wave that flag for cover. And I don't expect them to stop.

This is sort of a traveling political freak show that they are putting on where they show feats of fealty to the crowd and get lots of applause.

ACOSTA: I mean, I want to ask you about Liz Cheney just for a moment. Dave, since Amanda mentioned Trump, last week, there were some reports that prosecutors in Florida were beginning to have conversations with prosecutors in New York about the possibility of extraditing Trump to New York in some kind of an indictment comes down that affects the former president. Are you aware of these talks? Have you been involved in those talks? What can you tell us about that?

ARONBERG: Well, Jim, I can clear that up because I'm the state attorney here in Palm Beach County and we have not had conversations with prosecutors in New York about this. The story that you saw was in formal conversations with the clerk of courts and other local officials in case an indictment happens.

There was a story in "The New Yorker" some time ago that said that there are rumors that Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida would try to stand in the way of an extradition back to New York. So that's the conversation we're having. What is the governor's power?

And the governor's power to stop an extradition is really non- existent. He can try to delay it. He can send it to committee and do research about it, but his role is really ministerial. And ultimately, the state of New York can go to court and get an order to extradite the former president, but DeSantis could delay matters.

ACOSTA: And you'll fight that obviously if that's the case?

ARONBERG: Well, this is a real ministerial effort. I mean, you know -- right, well, we would, you know, we would be a part of it, but really it's ministerial. But then again, I thought that when Congress counted the votes on January 6th that would be ministerial too, and look what happened then. So you have to be prepared for anything.

ACOSTA: And Amanda, Congresswoman Liz Cheney was purged from House leadership because she wouldn't support Trump and his big lie. But even though she spoke her conscience, look at this CBS News poll that came out earlier this morning. Unbelievable. It found 80 percent of Republicans agreed with her removal. Compare that to only 20 percent that didn't. What does that tell you about the Republican Party right now, Amanda?

CARPENTER: I mean, I think that the most ardent Republican supporters want Donald Trump to continue to lead the party which is something that Liz Cheney just can't in good conscience go along with. And I do think the most important thing about what she is doing is pushing for that bipartisan January 6th commission, which will be very helpful in establishing a baseline of truth about the 2020 election and what role Trump supporters and Republicans played.

ACOSTA: And Amanda before we go, I want to ask you about, and Dave we can get you to chime in on this too if we got time, but "Politico" is reporting that Oscar winning actor Matthew McConaughey is making calls as he weighs a run for governor of Texas in 2022. You know, I feel a little dazed and confused even asking the question, Amanda, but what do you think?

CARPENTER: Hey, you know, it's not that much different than Caitlyn Jenner and other celebrity thinking about running for office. And, I think, listen --

ACOSTA: Or Donald Trump.

CARPENTER: -- it's a free country --yes. He has every right but what I think this shows is that you can't just trade on your celebrity name for name I.D. You really do have to have a command of the issues. And say what you want about Donald Trump.

He did tap into a vein in the grass roots Republican Party that was concerned about the border and other issues. And so, you know, does Matthew McConaughey have the potential to create a base grass roots following around an issue? I don't know, but we'll see.

ACOSTA: Dave, everybody picks on Florida and for the politics that you have going on down in your state, but you don't have Matthew McConaughey.

ARONBERG: No, we don't. Also, we don't have missing tigers. Thankfully the tiger was found, and that was in Texas, not the sunshine state. ACOSTA: All right, Dave Aronberg, Matthew (ph) Carpenter, thanks so

much. We'll see if McConaughey says all right, all right, all right to running for governor. Sorry, I had to say it. Appreciate it. It's almost the end of the week for me. I had to throw that in there. All right, thanks guys.

[17:44:59]

Are you noticing that a lot of things these days are more expensive? Here is Christine Romans with your "Before the Bell Report."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. You're paying higher prices for just about everything. It's the byproduct of re-opening in a roaring U.S. economy. It's called inflation, of course, and it means every dollar you have buys a little bit less. Consumer and producer prices rose much faster than expected in April.

The Federal Reserve and top economists have said the price spike is probably temporary. Supply bottlenecks will work themselves out. But Wall Street fears the Fed is under playing the threat. It may have to raise rates to cool the red hot economy. That's why this week investors will play close attention to minutes from the Fed's last meeting.

They are also looking for fresh insight into how the consumer feels. Walmart, Target, TJX and Macy's reporting quarterly results this week. Home Depot and Lowe's released earnings as well. Shares of both the home improvement stores are up about 20 percent this year. They are benefiting from rising lumber prices and strong demand in a red hot housing market.

In March, home prices hit a record high because there aren't enough homes for sale. The average house sold in just 18 days. That's a record low. Did the trend continue in April? This week, reports on both housing starts and home sales are due. In New York, I'm Christine Romans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:50:00]

ACOSTA: The fuel crisis sparked by the Colonial Pipeline cyber hack has started to ease. The pipeline's service is back up and running after a massive ransomware attack forced it to shut down for nearly a week. But the impact from the shutdown is still being felt.

Drivers across the country are facing major shortages right now. People are fed up, obviously. CNN's Natasha Chen joins me now from a gas station in South Carolina that is completely out of gas. Natasha, people are pulling their hair out over this.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. This gas station hasn't seen any re-supply of fuel yet, but others around this area did get fuel tanks coming through in the last couple of days. So, it's really hit or miss here. At least in the city of Charleston, most of the gas stations seem to be getting gas now so, that is a relief for people.

But it depends on where you live in the southeast. The improvements are happening really, really slowly. So even though Colonial Pipeline said on Saturday that their systems are at normal operations, it could take several days, in some places, a couple of weeks even for it to feel normal at the pump.

We can just tell you right now an update in the last hour or so what it's like in several states, 69 percent of gas stations in Washington, D.C. still without fuel. That is actually an improvement from earlier. Fifty-eight percent of gas stations in North Carolina, 48 percent here in South Carolina, and 42 percent of gas stations in Georgia without fuel right now.

The important thing that authorities want to keep repeating is to tell people not to hoard gas, because if you do that that could just prolong the problem. And there are states of emergency in effect in several of these states in attempts to help the situation. In one sense, lifting weight restrictions for trucks delivering the fuel in Georgia, suspending the gas tax, and putting also putting in measures that would prevent price gouging.

So, if people are frustrated right now, it's really a game of patience. It will normalize, experts say, and it just takes time and the price may even come down a little bit. Today, Gas Buddy, a crowd sourcing app where the drivers are reporting all this information about outages and prices, that app showed that the U.S. gas demand was at an all-time pandemic high. Jim?

ACOSTA: All right, Natasha Chen -- and make sure, folks, do not put gas into plastic bags if you're trying to fill up at the pump. Please don't do that. We've seen some of those pictures.

CHEN: Not a good idea.

ACOSTA: Not a good idea. All right, Natasha Chen, thanks for keeping tabs on it. We appreciate it.

When the original king of late night decides it's time to ride off into the sunset, who takes the throne? Here about the drama behind the scenes as the network scrambles to find his replacement. Here's a preview of a brand new episode of "The Story of Late Night."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNKNOWN: Jay was first to ask to guest host the show. I remember he was sitting in his hot tub and Jay says to me, you know, I think maybe I could take over the show after Johnny leaves, maybe I could do it.

UNKNOWN: And the more he did it, the better he got.

UNKNOWN: So, Jay Leno took over as permanent guest host, and I thought he was a natural.

JAY LENO, FORMER LATE NIGHT HOST: Kind of a snappy dresser, now. This is -- looks like fashions by Davey Crocket, apparently here. I'm not really -- kind of a hip snake kind of thing.

UNKNOWN: Jay broke out among the Letterman Show as the guy who sort of the revel comic. He thought to himself, if I am going to be the host of the "Tonight Show," I can't be that guy. That guy is too narrow. So he made a conscious decision, you know, wear down those edges at least if not eliminate them.

LENO: Actually, "Time" magazine says the biggest problem facing Americans is litter. You know, if they are so concerned about litter, why don't they get rid of those stupid little subscription cards that keep falling out of the magazine.

UNKNOWN: Jay thought he was selling out to, you know, get the "Tonight Show" away from him basically. So naturally, he thought, I don't respect Jay for doing that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And be sure to tune in, "The Story of Late Night" airs tonight at 9:00 right here on CNN.

[17:55:03]

And now to the wildest video of the weekend. A cat testing out just how many lives it has. You have to see this to believe it. Take a look at this. A cat trapped inside a burning building on the fifth floor in Chicago finds itself stuck as smoke billows out with little time to spare.

Did you catch that just a moment ago? Here it is again. Finally it jumped, landing miraculously on a narrow patch of grass and prances away seemingly unharmed and unscathed. Just unbelievable video there. Wow! Look at the cat. Good job.

All right, that's the news. Reporting from Washington -- I still have nine lives, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you back here next Saturday at 3:00 p.m. eastern. Jessica Dean takes over the "CNN Newsroom" live after a quick break. Good job kitty.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:59:59]