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CNN NEWSROOM

Half of Adults Fully Vaccinated in 19 States & D.C.; Former CDC Director: Telling Fully Vaccinated People to Wear Masks Reinforced Vaccine Hesitancy; Gov Ned Lamont (D-CT) Discusses 75 Percent of People with at Least One Shot in His State & Getting People Back to Work; NY AG Opens Criminal Tax Investigation into Trump Organization CFO; Report: Martin Bashir Used Deceit to Secure Diana Sit-Down. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 20, 2021 - 13:30   ET

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


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[13:32:45]

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Welcome back.

We have more positive news today in the fight against coronavirus. At least half of adults here in the U.S. are now fully vaccinated in 19 states and Washington, D.C.

And nearly 48 percent of the total U.S. population has received at least one dose while almost 38 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

But vaccine rates continue to slow nationwide. And according to former CDC Director Robert Redfield, initially telling vaccinated people that they needed to wear their masks only reinforced vaccine hesitancy.

CNN's senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is joining us.

Elizabeth, what more are you learning about why people are hesitant to get this vaccine?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, some of this is a mystery. And some we have sort of an idea why people don't want this vaccine.

First, let's take a look at some of these numbers.

If you chose five random Americans, data shows us three will have received their first shot. These are adults by the way. Three are either fully vaccinated or on their way.

One of them, the guy in red is saying, uh-huh, I do not want this shot. Maybe I'll get it if you absolutely make me. Like, if my boss tells me I have to, but I do not want the shot.

The yellow guy has not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine and it is not entirely clear why.

Maybe they're waiting to see if other people get sick. Maybe they haven't gotten around to it. Maybe they have some sort of logistical barrier.

That is what everybody is trying to figure out so they can convince the yellow guy to get vaccinated.

That yellow guy represents 50 million Americans. If you can get all the yellow guys and gals vaccinated, you vaccinated 80 percent of adults, not 60 percent. That is a big difference.

Let's take a look at some of the varying vaccination rates around the country. This is very telling.

The national average for fully vaccinated adults is 48 percent. Almost half of adults in the U.S. are fully vaccinated.

Look at Bristol Bay Borough, Alaska. They're doing something right, 84 percent of adults fully vaccinated.

Then look at the other end, Miller County, Arkansas, just 9 percent of people in that county are fully vaccinated. What is going on there? We checked. There's vaccine all over that area.

If you live in Miller County, you're no more than half an hour from a vaccine. So what is going on? Do they not want it? Are they having trouble getting to one of those spots? What's going on?

That is what public health folks need to figure out. And they need to figure it out pretty quickly -- Ana?

CABRERA: OK, Elizabeth Cohen, we appreciate the update.

President Biden's goal for 70 percent of U.S. adults to have at least one COVID shot by the Fourth of July has already been surpassed by seven states. You see them there in the northeast.

One of them is Connecticut, where about 73 percent of adults are now partially vaccinated. That state's positivity rate for new infections is just above 1 percent.

The governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont, is joining us now.

Governor, 73 percent with at least one shot. Your state seems to be leading right now on vaccines.

What has been the key to your success, do you think? And how do you plan to reach those additional holdouts?

GOV. NED LAMONT (D-CT): Come on, Connecticut. Let's get to three quarters, 75 percent. We can do it today.

[13:34:59]

Look, for adults, we've got a very high proportion. People over the age of 60, we have a herd immunity. We have to work a little harder on the younger groups, sort of 20 to 35, the so-called invincibles. Maybe that's you.

One way we've got it is, starting yesterday, we Have a Drink on Us promotion. If you show you've been vaccinated, you get a free drink at any Connecticut restaurant.

CABRERA: You have some incentives you're putting out there.

You're also now, in an effort to get things back to normal, your state has lifted capacity, social distancing restrictions for businesses, as well as mask mandates for fully vaccinated individuals.

What do you see now as the biggest challenge going into summer?

LAMONT: I'm feeling very confident about the summer. Seasonal helps us as well as continuing vaccinations.

The fall, we'll watch that because we know from seasonality that sometimes can be a little pickup in the flu season and the COVID season.

Those eligible 12 and above can be well vaccinated between now and August.

CABRERA: We know children are vulnerable and more so now because they aren't eligible, a number of that part of the population, 12 and under.

So this week, we know Texas and Iowa announced they are banning mask requirements even in public schools. I know you are taking a different approach and requiring them at least through the end of the school year.

Are Texas and Iowa wrong on this?

LAMONT: I think so. Look, these are young people that aren't yet vaccinated. I think at least through June 20th, we said we'll keep the mask mandate in the schools.

Really important for the teachers. Gives them the confidence to go back in. And we have 100 percent of our schools open now for in-person learning. That makes a big difference.

We owe our teachers the sense of confidence they can go back safely.

CABRERA: A big part of the nation's return to normalcy, of course, is getting people back to work. And last check, 65,000 people were still looking for jobs or needing jobs in Connecticut.

You announced a program giving $1,000 payments now to 10,000 long-term unemployed people for getting new jobs.

Other states are taking a different approach. Almost a couple dozen states now are dropping the extra federal unemployment benefits, extra $300 a week. Why do you think your tactic is better?

LAMONT: Look, there are a lot of people that have still real COVID hesitancy. Sometimes they're in a multi-generational family where they have had some real hits.

Look, the $300 is going to go away from the federal support within the next three and a half months.

I want to, right now, give people an extra incentive to go to work, an extra thousand dollars, help them with transportation, help a little with childcare, some of the things that maybe give them hesitancy.

By the way, we've expanded childcare, twofold, doing everything we can helping everyone women, particularly, get back into the work force.

CABRERA: You probably know the House Republican leader in your state has criticized this move, saying, "Persuading people to give up one government benefit with promise of another one is a little like a dog chasing its tail."

How do you respond to that?

LAMONT: I think Republicans like to give people incentives for people to work. So I don't quite know what that means.

Look, we're all about getting people back to work. That is what your question was. We still have relatively high unemployment rates.

And so we're doing everything we can in terms of childcare, doing everything we can in terms of upgrade certificates at community colleges so you can get a new skill and get back into the work force.

CABRERA: Governor Ned Lamont, got to leave it there today. Thank you for coming on.

LAMONT: Thank you.

CABRERA: A reminder, I've been asking you to tell us how you're making your comeback after the pandemic. Who are you seeing? What are you doing? What did you miss most?

Please send me your pictures or your video to Twitter. Tag me, @anaCabrera, Use the #thecomeback. And we'll feature some of you on the show tomorrow.

[13:40:10]

Pressure is growing on a long-time aide to former President Trump. The New York A.G. has been looking into the taxes of Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg. What for? We dig in.

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CABRERA: Even more shock waves hitting the Trump Organization. CNN has learned the company's CFO is now the subject of a criminal investigation over his personal taxes.

Sources tell CNN the New York attorney general has been looking into Allen Weisselberg, Trump's long-time money man, for months.

Let's bring in CNN's senior legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor, Elie Honig.

Elie, why is Weisselberg such a key figure? And what do you think they're looking for?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Ana, Allen Weisselberg could be a pivotal figure in this case because he is so uniquely situated in the world of Donald Trump.

Weisselberg has been working for the Trump family and the Trump Organization as far back as the 1970s. That's why prosecutors are now trying to flip him.

And the way they're trying to do that is to build a tax case that might give him criminal liability.

[13:45:01]

The general theory is that some of the benefits that the Trump Organization paid to Weisselberg were made in the form of tuition payments to try to avoid payroll tax penalties.

So if you look at the structure of the Trump Organization, it's really a very closely held family run business.

The executives at the organization are Donald Trump himself, his children, Donald and Eric Trump, who are both executive vice presidents. His daughter, Ivanka Trump was an executive V.P. before she went to work for the White House.

Weisselberg is really the only person, as CFO, chief financial officer, who has access to the inner circle. And that is why his information could be so important.

CABRERA: Getting into a wider probe of the Trump Organization.

HONIG: Yes, exactly. Into the wider probe.

So Weisselberg's -- prosecutors have been focusing on Weisselberg because he could hold the keys to the whole kingdom here.

The D.A. opened this investigation and the attorney general has now joined forces with the D.A. So we're seeing a growing, expanding investigation here.

Now, the key theory is that the Trump Organization intentionally inflated or deflated assets.

And if you look at some of the assets of the Trump Organization around the world, the idea is that when it came time to apply for bank loans, they would inflate the value of those assets to try to get higher bank loans. But when it came tax time, they would deflate the value of the assets.

And if you think about the fact that Allen Weisselberg was CFO, chief financial officer, who would be better positioned than he to make those decisions and to explain them to prosecutors?

CABRERA: You mentioned earlier you believe they are trying to flip Weisselberg. How likely are they to succeed in that?

And what makes you certain they're trying to flip him as opposed to going after him being the main target?

HONIG: So this is going to come down to two things. First of all, do they have enough evidence to make a case against Allen Weisselberg?

If they don't, it is unlikely he is going to cooperate with prosecutors. It is all about leverage and giving him a reason to cooperate.

This is just based on my own experience. This is how you do it when you are trying to get into a complex, closed organization, you target people who you think might flip.

If they are able to put together a criminal charge against him, then it is going to be a question of Allen Weisselberg's loyalty.

Who is he more loyal to? Is he going to try to protect himself and prevent himself from potentially going to prison or is he going to take that risk and instead protect the Trump Organization and the Trumps?

That is the fundamental question all people have to face when it comes time to potentially cooperate.

CABRERA: Quickly, do you have any idea how much longer the investigation could be ongoing?

HONIG: They have to be moving quickly here, Ana. Cy Vance is in his final months in office, not running for re-election.

I think it is important Cy Vance himself make the decision to charge or not. Because it will be less politicized then if he is on his way out retiring.

And they're running up against the statute of limitations. The law gives them five years to charge these crimes after the crimes were committed. And a lot of these crimes date back to pre-Trump's presidency, 2016, so it has to be within the next few months.

CABRERA: OK. Thank you, Elie Honig. Always good to have you.

HONIG: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: It was a controversial sit-down that shocked the world and the royal palace. But was Princess Diana conned into sharing those secrets? A new report was just released.

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[13:52:52]

CABRERA: More than 25 years later, Princess Diana's panorama interview remains one of the most controversial and most candid tell-alls ever given by someone in the royal family. It ended her marriage and it changed the course of her life.

And a brand-new report finds that the man behind it, former BBC journalist, Martin Bashir, lied in order to secure this landmark sit- down.

I want to get to Max Foster in London.

Max, walk us through what exactly this report has found.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's three levels to it, Ana.

First of all, what they described as the deceitful tactics used by Bashir to get this interview he used, he forged bank statements to suggest to Diana's brother, Charles Spencer, that people were being paid off to spy on her. So that was part of it.

But also, there were BBC investigations following rumors that these deceits had taken place. And those investigations were woefully inadequate, according to this report. And the BBC then covered up the findings from those investigations as well.

So a very dark day as the current director general of the BBC is describing it today for the BBC. And very, you know, there's a lot of concern in the BBC about this and how it's damaged trust within the BBC.

Then there's the Diana story itself. And I can tell you that in about 10 minutes time, a panorama is going to play on the BBC in the UK.

And in that is an interview with Charles Spencer. And he draws a direct line between this interview with Diana and her death a couple of years afterwards.

So, it's a very powerful story here in the U.K. And it plays into so many different narratives.

And it does suggest that a lot of the things that we believed about Diana, what Diana believed, weren't true. They were made up by Martin Bashir, who's being described as a liar today.

CABRERA: And how is he responding to all of this? What is he saying about the tactics he used?

FOSTER: So, he's apologizing for using these fake documents. And he says that that was the wrong thing to do.

[13:55:01] But he still stands by the interview and says he's very proud of it. And he says he's always been quite consistent in what he said about his tactics behind this.

CABRERA: Max Foster, it's all fascinating. And we continue to learn more year after year.

Thank you for your reporting.

And thank you all for being with me. I'll see you back here tomorrow, same time, 1:00 eastern. You can follow me on Twitter, @AnaCabrera.

Stay tuned for the news with Alisyn and Victor, next.

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