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CNN: Gaetz's Ex-Girlfriend To Cooperate In Sex Trafficking Probe; Interview With Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); New Videos Document Ronald Greene's Brutal Death In Police Custody; Prince Harry Details Struggles With Mental Health, Alcohol & Drugs; Prince Harry Blasts Efforts By Media And "The Firm" To "Smear" Meghan; Pastors Try To Stop QAnon's Spread Among Evangelicals; White House Pairs With Dating Apps To Promote COVID-19 Vaccine. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 22, 2021 - 15:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

First, they got his former wingman to cooperate, and now, the feds have another critical witness in their investigation of Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, his ex-girlfriend. The unnamed woman, a former Capitol Hill staffer, has been linked to Gaetz since 2017.

Sources say she could help investigators decode hundreds of transactions, including those involving alleged payments for sex. This would make her the second cooperating key witness in a sex trafficking probe after the Justice Department struck a deal, a plea deal with Joel Greenberg, a former close friend of Gaetz.

Gaetz has repeatedly denied ever having sex with a minor or paying for sex. Another thing he continues to deny, the results of the 2020 election. Hours after reports surfaced of his ex's willingness to cooperate, instead of laying low, Gaetz is plugging the big lie in a bizarre road show co-starring none other than Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene at yesterday's stop at Maricopa County, Arizona, ground zero for false claims of election fraud where conservative-led audit of the county's 2020 ballots from the election is set to resume.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): They just think, oh, these are a bunch of resentful people. They can't take the truth. They're just in a state of denial.

Well, you know what? We are working to make elections better. If we ensure that the people who are taking the oath of office are actually who the people elected, then our elections will have more integrity.


ACOSTA: Gaetz is making it clear that he will continue to parrot former President Trump's lies and Trump's in-your-face brand of defiance as prosecutors decide whether to bring charges. And joining me now, Paula Reid, our senior legal affairs


Paula, give us the latest on this case. It does feel like, it does look like things are getting much more serious for the congressman.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, they've been serious, Jim. And they are getting more and more serious as we learn what investigators have obtained. And we know from our sources the congressman is currently under investigation for possibly violating federal sex trafficking, prostitution and public corruption laws and they're also looking into whether he may have had sexual contact with a minor.

Now, this ex-girlfriend is someone that investigators have wanted to talk with for a while. And to be clear, the ex-girlfriend is not the minor at the center of this case. These are two different people. But the ex-girlfriend is significant in this investigation because she was linked to the congressman in the summer of 2017. And that is a key time period for investigators as they determine whether or not he had sexual contact with this underage girl.

It's not clear at this point if the ex-girlfriend has a formal cooperation agreement with investigators but she has signaled she is willing to talk, that is a significant development. Her attorney declined to comment as did a spokesperson for the Justice Department.

But, Jim, this news comes as we have also learned that the congressman's former wingman, Joel Greenberg, has told investigators that the congressman did have sexual contact with that underage girl.

Now, the congressman and his legal team, they have repeatedly denied that the congressman has ever paid for sex or had sex with a minor as an adult. But they've also shifted their defense strategy this week in the court of public opinion attacking Greenberg's credibility. Here's what the congressman said about his former wingman.


GAETZ: I'm not too worried about Joel Greenberg. Joel Greenberg is literally sitting in jail right now because he originally accused someone who is innocent of having had a relationship with a minor.


REID: Look, he's correct. On Monday, as part of this plea agreement, Greenberg admitted to falsely accusing a political rival of having sex with a minor and that was just one of the six charges that Greenberg pleaded guilty to. Twenty-seven other charges have been dropped in exchange for his continued cooperation.

There's no doubt Joel Greenberg has serious credibility problems. And that's why we know investigators don't take things that he says at face value. They're looking for corroborating evidence. And, Jim, we know from our sources that he's not the only witness. There are other witnesses that investigators are talking, other people have gone before the grand jury. We also know there are hundreds and hundreds of records that investigators have and they're trying to make sense of them.

Now, they continue to gather evidence. They continue to talk to witnesses and eventually this decision about whether to proceed with a case against the congressman will fall on prosecutors here in D.C. in the public integrity section of the Justice Department, to look at everything they gather and decide, do they have enough to proceed with an indictment?

ACOSTA: OK. Paula Reid, we know you're going to follow this every step of the way. You're doing great reporting on all this so far, and we appreciate you being on this afternoon. Thanks so much.

And joining me now, former Republican Senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake, and former Massachusetts Congressman, Joe Kennedy.

Senator Flake, let me start with you first. When you see these crowds showing up for Gaetz and Greene, my goodness, we saw this just a few moments ago and the at the same time the audit happening, do you even recognize what is going on in your home state of Arizona right now?

JEFF FLAKE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's, frankly, pretty painful to watch. That event was just a few miles from my home in Mesa, Arizona. So, yeah, it's painful. It's not a good look for the Republican Party. It just, frankly, means Republican Party isn't serious about winning elections going forward, let alone what's good for the country.

ACOSTA: And, Congressman Kennedy, let me ask you this. Here's what is also scary. More states may be following Arizona's lead when it comes to the so-called ballot audits. It looks like there is going to be another audit in Georgia's most populated county, Fulton County and New Hampshire, Trump's former campaign manager is seizing on an audit there to push lies about the election outcome.

Let's listen and talk about this on the other side.


COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: This election, they think no one is paying attention any more. They think you can come into a small town like Windham and maybe do what you want to do but I traveled a lot with President Trump over the last six years, the crowd that we saw were bigger than they were in 2016. I truly believe in 2016, they never thought he was going to win. They didn't have to do because he surprised the world in 2016. In 2020, they don't want to take any chances.


ACOSTA: Congressman, is this ever going to end, do you think?

JOE KENNEDY (D-MA), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Let's hope so. I think, look, the job of current elected officials and some of us former elected officials is to make sure that it ends as quickly as possible. And let's be clear about this, Jim, one of my major concerns is that the structural aspects, the way in which Republican Party has abandon all principle who dived into the cult of personality for Donald Trump.

It means you have the stars like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz that are not actually rooted in anything but outrage and vengeance. But the combination of redistricting, of voter suppression has the opportunity to actually tilt the scales towards a Republican Party such that they're at this point favored to win, actually, in the midterm elections in 2022.

So, there is an awful lot of work that has to be done but from an American public to stand up and say, this is not okay. Just as Senator Flake had said. This isn't just a question of what happens for a party, this has real ramifications for the integrity of our democracy and for our country.

ACOSTA: Senator, do you think that your party is pulling back from a commitment to democracy, to free and fair elections in this country?

FLAKE: Oh, sure. Yeah, when you see what's going on around the country, there's no other way to describe it. A lot of Republicans, not all Republicans, but a lot of them, but a lot wanting to choose their voters to make sure fewer people vote. And that's just -- obviously, it's terrible for the party. In the end, you may win an election here or there but you're going to lose in the long run.

And it's horrible for the country to have people lose faith in elections to have this, what's going on this so-called audit in Arizona now spreading to Fulton County in Georgia and what is wanted by many of these Republicans is to have it spread around the country. Yeah, notes that there is less of a commitment for democracy, obviously. You'd have to be willfully blind to say that the last election there was sufficient fraud to overturn it.

That's just not a reasonable position to take for elected officials and that's the big problem now. You have elected officials and representatives in Washington willing to indulge their constituents, come of whom do believe this partly because their leaders are telling them that. And so, yes, it is a big problem moving forward.

ACOSTA: And, Congressman, I want to ask you about another Trump associate, I guess a family member of a Trump associate, Rudy Giuliani's son Andrew who is running for governor of the state of New York.

Let's take a look at Andrew Giuliani when he made his announcement the other day.


REPORTER: What makes you qualified for this?

ANDREW GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I'm the only candidate that spent parts of five different decades of my life in politics or public servant -- public service.

REPORTER: How do you get five decades? You're only 35.

GIULIANI: Parts of five decades. Let me clarify, I said parts of five decades in there. So, if we go back through it, my father's first campaign was 1989. So, we can do the math. I spent 32 -- parts of 32 years in politics.


ACOSTA: Congressman, I'm not sure the math adds up there.


Five decades and he's only 35 years old, but, you know, this is Giuliani math here we're talking about here. But is there extra measure, maybe this explains it, is there extra pressure when you're running for office with a last name that everybody recognizes?

KENNEDY: You know, Jim, many probably would be surprised to hear this but the person that pushed me hardest not to run for office in my first race for Congress was my father, because for those that have served and for that have given everything to their service as an elected official and a public official, you know that one, it isn't as glamorous as it sometimes comes off and there aren't really days off and it can be a grind.

And if you're doing this because you think that your last name is going to carry you to victory, if you're doing this because you think it is going to be all fun and games and people are just going to come to you and cheer you on, you got something else coming to you.

I got to say it's advice that I would give anybody to think that because your family or one's family has been politically active or engaged in politics somehow qualifies you to be an elected official, let alone governor of the state of New York -- you know, look, ultimately, that's a question for the voters. But I'm not sure the bullet point I would lead with us on my resume.

ACOSTA: All right, very good. All right. Former Senator Jeff Flake, former Congressman Joe Kennedy, appreciate the time. Thanks for spending time with us on this Saturday afternoon. Good to see both of you. We appreciate it.

FLAKE: Thank you.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

ACOSTA: An independent commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol is now on life support with Senate Republicans signaling they will block the legislation next week. Democrats would need ten Republicans to vote with them in order for the commission to go forward. And as of right now, the chances of that happening are next to zero.

And joining me now to talk about this is Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Senator, thanks for joining us. Is this commission at this point dead on arrival in the Senate do you think?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Well, Jim, good to be with you.

I hope that's not the case. This commission came out of the work of Democrats and Republicans in the House working together to come up with a way in which we can have an independent commission review what happened on January 6th, to find out exactly how we can prevent this from ever happening again, to make sure our Capitol is secure. We need this independent investigation. We need to bring closure to what happened on January 6th and protect our nation moving forward and our democratic institution.

So I hope that we will have the support to pass it. I know Senator Schumer is planning to bring it up as early as this week and I know the American people want us to pass this independent commission.

ACOSTA: Yeah, but right now as you know, Senator, Democrats and Republicans can't even agree on whether there was an insurrection, whether it actually happened.

Take a listen to what your colleague, Senator Ron Johnson, had to say.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): You know, the fact of the matter is, even calling it insurrection, it wasn't. You know, I condemned the breach. I condemn the violence, but to say there were thousands of armed insurrectionists breaching the Capitol intent of overthrowing the government is just simply false narrative. By and large, it was all -- it was peaceful protest except for maybe there were a number of people basically agitators that with the crowd and breached the Capitol and that's really the truth of what's happening here.


ACOSTA: Senator, how do you get the this commission off the ground if you're negotiating with members of the Republican Party who are clearly trying to rewrite the history of what happened on January 6th?

CARDIN: Right. Jim, I was in harm's way on January 6th. I was on the Senate floor when the insurrectionists were knocking on our doors. Senator Johnson knows better than that. That's not an account of what happened on January 6th.

And the members of the Senate, both Democrats and Republicans, know what happened and how vulnerable we were on that day and how close we came to even a worse tragedy.

So, we need to get to the bottom of this. It's not partisan. It's how to find out how this could have happened in the United States of America where we came so close to losing our Capitol.

So, it is something that defies logic that we wouldn't want to vote for an independent review, independent review of what happened on that day and take steps that it never happens again. We need the independent investigation. The American people need it. And we need it in order to keep our members of Congress and our staff and visitors safe, as well as our democracy safe.

ACOSTA: But, it seems as though the filibuster, once again, is standing in the way, just as it is on gun rights, gun control, voting rights. Is it time to eliminate the filibuster, do you think?

CARDIN: Well, there's so many reasons the answer to that question is yes.


So, we certainly shouldn't change the way the Senate floor procedures have been misused by the minority in order to prevent legislation from getting to the floor of the Senate or passing the floor of the Senate. So, it's absolutely time to change the Senate filibuster rules. And this is just one example.

We can give you many, many more of legislation that is passed the House of Representatives that was never considered in the Senate and now we want to bring it up on the Senate floor and we run the risk of having to have a 60 percent vote in order to move it forward. That's ridiculous. Majority should control.

ACOSTA: And you're a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and I want to ask you about Israel because a number of your Democratic colleagues want President Biden to speak out more forcefully in a support of Palestinians and their rights and what is happening to the Palestinians over there.

So, President Biden says there's been no shift in his commitment to Israel security, and we heard that yesterday during a joint press conference, but do you think there's been a shift in your party and does the president need to speak out more forcefully, do you think?

CARDIN: Jim, the overwhelming number of Democrats support Israel's right to defend itself and the close relationship between our two countries and how important that relationship is to United States security.

I think President Biden handled this crisis extremely well. He met at the highest level through conversations with the leaders of the Israel government. He was able to get the Egyptians to engage Hamas. He was able to move forward on a cease-fire. He was able to now set up a plan in which we can try to bring some stability to Gaza.

I think all of that is in our national security interest and is supported by Democrats and Republicans and the American people.

ACOSTA: Do you think Prime Minister Netanyahu is a partner for peace in the region?

CARDIN: I think the only future for Israel is to -- and the Palestinians is for two states living side by side in peace. Can that happen in the short period of time? It's going to take longer than that.

But I think we need a path forward where we can bring the parties together and recognize the challenges that we have so we can move forward with peace in the Middle East. We made progress in getting other Arab states to recognize Israel's right of existence.

I think we have a path forward that under President Biden to deal with a future for the Palestinians. So, I think there is a way for us to get a two-state solution and I think, yes, the Israelis recognize what they want is peace for their people, and they want to leave peacefully with their neighbors.

ACOSTA: OK. Senator Ben Cardin, appreciate that so much. Thanks for joining us this afternoon. We'll see you next time.

And coming up, his family says police told him he died in a car crash but now new video show troopers tasing, kicking and dragging a black man before he died. Why was the footage kept under wraps for two years?



ACOSTA: New today, President Biden will host a family of George Floyd at the White House on Tuesday to mark the one-year anniversary of his death at the hands of police. The meeting will come as lawmakers are likely to miss the president's initial May 25th deadline for a bipartisan police reform bill. Last month, the jury convicted former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of murdering Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes.

And an American family is reliving a similar nightmare right now after the release of more police video recorded two years ago. Ronald Greene's family was told he died instantly in a car crash in Louisiana but newly released videos from nine different body and dash cameras tell a completely different story.

CNN's Randi Kaye takes a deeper story on what the videos and an autopsy reveal about how Greene died. And I do want to warn you, the images you're about to watch are incredibly disturbing.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new video obtained by CNN is 30 minutes long and offers a different view from a Louisiana State Troopers' body camera than the video obtained earlier by "The A.P."

It shows Ronald Greene following a high-speed chase near Monroe, Louisiana, on the ground, face down and struggling to turn over.

TROOPER: Don't you turn over.


TROOPER: Don't you turn over. Lay on your belly. Lay on your belly.

GREENE: Yes, sir. Okay, okay, sir.

TROOPER: You're going to lay on your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) belly.

TROOPER: Like I told you to. You understand?

GREENE: Yes, sir.

KAYE: Greene apologizes and politely calls the officer "sir," even as they continue to berate him.

The video shows Greene's leg shackled and his hands cuffed behind his back. When he cries out in pain, even calling on the Lord Jesus, the officers continue to restrain him.

TROOPER: Yes, yes, that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hurts, doesn't it?

GREENE: Oh, Lord Jesus. Oh Lord.

KAYE: Louisiana State Police kept this video under wraps for two years. Greene's arrest and subsequent death occurred back in May 2019. This is what the family says Louisiana State Police initially told them happened.

DINELLE HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S SISTER: That he was in a car accident and that he hit his head on the steering wheel and that's how he died.

KAYE: The family says police initially made no mention to them of the arrest or use of force now revealed on the body camera videos.

Another police report said Greene was taken into custody after resisting arrest and a struggle with Troopers and that he died on the way to the hospital. His family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

D. HARDIN: This has been a cover up from day one. They were out to kill him. He had no chance of living.

KAYE: In the video, it's not clear if Greene is offered medical attention as he lay on the ground, moaning and gurgling.


TROOPER: I was going to sit him up, but I didn't want him spitting blood all over us.

KAYE: At one point on the new video, a medical technician arrives, and he is clearly concerned.

PARAMEDIC: He's not getting enough air.

KAYE: And when it was over in previously released video obtained by "The A.P.", one Trooper can be heard on his body camera audio boasting about beating Greene.

TROOPER: I beat the ever living (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of him, choked him and everything else trying to get him under control.

He was spitting blood everywhere. And then all of a sudden, he just went limp.

Yes, I thought he was dead.

KAYE: CNN has also obtained the autopsy report. It lists Greene's cause of death as cocaine induced agitated delirium, complicated by motor vehicle collision, physical struggle, inflicted head injury and restraint.

According to the autopsy, injuries included a fracture of the sternum or breastbone and a torn aorta, the body body's main artery.

The autopsy notes that Greene had alcohol and a significant level of cocaine in his system.

These postmortem photos of Greene released on the NAACP Baton Rouge Facebook page show the extent of his injuries, and the autopsy notes, lacerations of the head inconsistent with motor vehicle collision injury. Instead, finding these injuries are most consistent with multiple impact sites from a blunt object.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


ACOSTA: Just so terrible.

And coming up, royal revelations Prince Harry reveals using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain after the death of his mother, Princess Diana.


PRINCE HARRY: I was so angry with what happened to her and the fact that there was no justice at all. Nothing came from that. The same people that chased her into the tunnel photographed her dying on the back seat of that car.




ACOSTA: Prince Harry is opening up to Oprah again this time in a new mental health series, and the latest sit down, the Royal admits for the first time publicly that he abused drugs and alcohol in an attempt to cope with the death of his mother, Princess Diana.


PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling. But I slowly became aware that, OK, I wasn't drinking Monday to Friday, but I would probably drink a week's worth in one day on a Friday or a Saturday night.


ACOSTA: And with me now to talk about this is CNN Business Editor at Large Richard Quest. Richard, it's great to see as always. This isn't the first time Harry has spoken about his mental health. As a working royal, he helped found the Heads Together campaign with his brother and sister-in-law. Why do you think we're seeing this level of candor now?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR: It's a good question. I think because he broken away from the royal family. He's now working and he's the one of the senior officers in an organization called BetterUp, which means he's making mental health issues, if you like the cause of his life. And he is opening up further about what he sees as the poor appalling treatment that he received at the hands of his own family.

The problem, Jim, here is that he also puts the boot into his own family. For instance, talking about his Father, Prince Charles, he says of the Prince that his father said, this is what it was like for me, expect this is what it'll have to be like for you. And what Harry then goes on to say is, you would have thought any father would have wanted it to be different, would have wanted to do what ever they could to make sure that their children didn't suffer.

Now for Harry to be so blunt about his own father in such a public forum, I can tell you, will go down extremely badly with the royal family. Jim, he has broken the cardinal rule, saying nothing, doing nothing, complain about things (ph).

ACOSTA: Right. But he is bringing up an excellent mental health issue and that he is talking about how these issues can be passed down from generation to generation. I also want to talk to you about how Prince Harry also talked about the slew of negative press, press stories about his wife, Meghan, leading up to that first interview with Oprah. Let's listen to that.


PRINCE HARRY: Because of their headlines, and that combined effort of the firm and the media to smear her, I was woken up in the middle of the night to her crying in her pillow because she doesn't want to wake me up because I'm already carrying too much. That's heartbreaking. I held her. We talked. She cried and she cried and she cried.


ACOSTA: Richard, there's no putting this back into the bottle, I mean, this is just out in the open. Harry and Meghan are -- they're going to continue to talk about this.

QUEST: They are and the issues he raises, Jim, as you point out, are exceptionally important and will be identified by many people as being what they face to in times of grief or times of stress or times where other loved ones didn't respond. In that -- and this is really what he's saying. What is the core of what he say is, I was in mental turmoil, firstly, because of what happened to my mother. Secondly, because of the way I was living my life as a royal in a goldfish bowl with the Paparazzi .


And here's the lastly, and third, because no one cared. No one in my family bothered to care. And that is what will resonate with millions of people. But at the same time, official royal then (ph) won't know how to deal with it.

ACOSTA: Right. And speaking of his mother, Princess Diana, let's talk about her because I want to ask you, Richard, about this report this week that found that the for BBC journalist, you know about this all too well, Martin Bashir, had used the seat to land his bombshell interview with Princess Diana that, you know, to this day, it just, you know, I think has had major repercussions for the royal family. It's going so far, Martin Bashir, it is to create fake bank statements. Here's part of Prince William's response.


PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: It is my view that the deceitful way the interview was obtained, substantially influenced what my mother said. The interview was a major contribution to making my parents relationship worse. It brings indescribable sadness to know that the BBC's failures contributed significantly to her fear, paranoia and isolation, that I remember from those final years with her.


ACOSTA: Wow, Richard, what do you make of this report?

QUEST: It's appalling. I was at the BBC, I was working there in 1995, '96, '97. I knew all the parties involved during that time, didn't know about the story of course. The reality is, it's horrific what Bashir did, it was even worse, what the BBC then went on to been covering it up for so many years. And finally, Prince William is not declaring war on the BBC, but he is saying that he does not forgive them and he blames them and there will be a price to pay in the future.

The most -- finally, the most important thing yesterday was what the British Prime Minister said, Boris Johnson, that we may have to look at the governance structure of the BBC, that will have sent a chill through the corporation.

ACOSTA: And that could have a major effect on this industry as well. Richard Quest, didn't know that about your history at the BBC. Those are great insights. Great to have you on this Saturday afternoon. We'll let you get back to whatever you're enjoying without that tie on. Good to see as always.

QUEST: You too. Thank you.

ACOSTA: Take care right there.

All right, and take a look at this everybody. This is some incredible video right here, a volcano in the Democratic Republic of Congo is erupting right now. This is right outside the city of Goma. The last time this volcano erupted was nearly 20 years ago. It killed 250 people at the time. So far, it's not clear just how large this eruption is. Although just looking at this video, this is just unbelievable stuff.

But no one has been asked to evacuate just yet, according to the latest reports we're hearing from the ground. Here's another look at all of this. Just really wild, wild video of this volcano erupting right now in Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo. We'll keep you updated on all of these. As new video comes in, we'll bring it to you right here on CNN.

And coming up, how QAnon is spreading in some churches, how preachers are trying to stop the lies.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the flag that went into the Senate when the doors were broken. The Christian flag (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Name in Jesus, amen. Amen.







ACOSTA: There's growing evidence that the bogus conspiracy movement known as QAnon is seeping into the Christian evangelical community and that has some pastors fighting back saying QAnon has no place in what they preach. Here's CNN's Donie O'Sullivan with the closer look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the flag that went into the Senate, when the doors were broken. The Christian flag (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Name in Jesus, amen. Amen.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They thought they were doing the work of God because pastors and leaders have lied to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, heaven Father's work (ph).

PASTOR JAMES KENDALL, GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH: Nothing in Scripture leads us to claim a political system in the name of Christ through force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like to get off track and off the Bible, but as a pastor, I do have to guard the flock. And so the one that I wanted to speak to as far as conspiracies is the QAnon conspiracy because --

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): Is QAnon compatible with Christianity?

KENDALL: No, because it's a false belief system, almost a religion, but it's not true Christianity because true Christianity is that Jesus Christ is our ultimate hope, not Q (ph), not Donald Trump, not any other person.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Months after the January 6th insurrection, QAnon lives on, and it's more popular among evangelicals than people of other religions.

(on-camera): Do you think particularly for people of faith, that there is a specific appeal?

KENDALL: The biblical worldview is that there's a God who's in control of the whole world. And one day, Jesus is going to come back, he's going to judge the wicked, then you look at -- my understanding of QAnon's belief is that there's a Q (ph) that knows everything and Donald Trump is going to come back and judge the wicked. It's easier for Christians who already have that belief system to make that jump over into believing that worldview.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Pastors Ben Marsh (ph) and James Kendall are sounding the alarm. But other pastors are preaching conspiracy theories from the pulpit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When patriots took back key branches of the U.S. government in 2016, a life was turned on to the vast corruption network that had infiltrated into the highest positions of power across every state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a demonic hedge of protection around Joe Biden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden is a Fake president.


O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Have you had conversations with any of your flock who have bought (ph) into QAnon?

KENDALL: I've tried to talk with some of them about some of the issues, but that doesn't go very far. O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): They don't want to hear it?

KENDALL: A lot of times they're not really open to hearing my side of things or explanations.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): QAnon ties in with what is known as Christian nationalism.

JERUSHAH DUFORD, GRANDDAUGHTER OF BILLY GRAHAM: The term Christian nationalism ended up itself is ironic because there's nothing Christian about nationalism. But what it is turned into is basically just Christians believing that their nation is, you know, kind of up with Scripture, and which with the Bible, and the tenants of our nation are up there with the tenants of our faith.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Jerushah Duford is the granddaughter of famed evangelical preacher, Billy Graham, and niece of Trump supporting pastor Franklin Graham. She, along with 200 other prominent evangelical, signed a letter denouncing Christian nationalism and the role it played in the Capitol attack.

(on-camera): You know, for some, some of these folks, QAnon, is a religion.

DUFORD: I think what you're finding from a lot of these people who are, you know, hardcore QAnon believers, this is somewhere where they fit in.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Is there not enough sense of community in churches? What do you think is this appeal?

DUFORD: I think that churches were absolutely designed to be about community. And I don't think that that's what a lot of people find. I think churches have become extremely exclusive. I'm not sure Jesus would be welcomed in an American church today.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Are you concerned at all that by speaking out, that you could be alienating some of your congregation? Or do you think it's just the right thing to do?

KENDALL: Well, there's always a risk. But as a pastor, my role is to protect my people and teach them to place their hope in Jesus, to obey God's word and so that's something that when I have to do it, I have to do it, and I take the consequences that come, but fortunately, I've received a lot of support from my people for speaking out.


ACOSTA: And our thanks to Donie O'Sullivan for that eye-opening report.

Coming up, A shot at love in more ways than one, why the White House thinks Pfizer, Moderna and J&J could get you to swipe right. Plus, on United Shades of America, W. Kamau Bell looks at what the gap between the rich and poor really looks like in America. Tune in tomorrow night at 10:00 p. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


ACOSTA: Finding love in the modern world can be a challenge, doing it during a pandemic is even tougher. But now the White House is teaming up with some of the most popular dating apps out there to help people connect and encourage them to get their COVID vaccination. CNN's Arlette Saenz joins me now with the details on this plan to help single folks find love along with coronavirus protection. Arlette, I didn't realize Dr. Fauci was playing cupid these days.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He's certainly is trying to right now, Jim. And what you're seeing is the White House is hoping that Americans will swipe right on vaccinations and they're teaming up with some of the most widely used dating sites in this country.

The White House is partnering with sites like OkCupid, Match, Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, there are many dating apps that they are working with to try to encourage people to get those vaccinations. In these apps, you can actually have badges that show that you've been vaccinated. You can set filters so that you're matched or connected with people who have vaccinations.

And they're also trying to offer some premium content like super likes and super swipes to try to encourage more people to get vaccinated and to share with others that they've been vaccinated as well. And in these sites, you can also register for those vaccine appointments as well. And this is something that the White House is clearly having a little bit of fun with. Take a listen to the COVID briefing yesterday where they talked about this initiative.


ANDY SLAVITT, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: People who display their vaccination status are 14 percent more likely to get a match. We have finally found the one thing that makes us all more attractive, a vaccination.


SAENZ: You see Dr. Fauci and others there chuckling as Andy Slavitt said that. But this is just the latest partnership that the White House has established with businesses trying to encourage vaccinations. You'll remember that they teamed up with Uber and Lyft to offer free rides to and from vaccine appointments. But right now, the White House is hoping that people will get vaccinated and find their shot at love. Jim?

ACOSTA: All right. No pun intended there, right, Arlette? OK.


ACOSTA: Thanks so much for that, we appreciate it. Perhaps cupid there, instead of an arrow, could have a vaccine instead. Thanks so much for that report. Great stuff. After a decade behind bars this week, CNN Hero, Hector Guadalupe, built a successful career as a personal trainer. He's now helping other formerly incarcerated men and women follow his path to reshape their lives.


HECTOR GUADALUPE, PERSONAL TRAINER, A SECOND U FOUNDATION: After surviving prison, you come home thinking you're able to start over. You want to be part of the society, but there's just so many layers of discrimination, boxes. You have to get through just to get an opportunity. Society thinks, oh, you should just go get a job and it's not that easy. Once you have a record, nothing is set up for them to win.

And up, one, good. Right back on that.

At a second, you foundation we get formerly incarcerated men and women, national certifications and job placements in, boutique gyms or corporate health clubs throughout New York City. You got to be thinking outside the box.


You can't give someone a mop and say this is your future, take minimum wage and deal with it.

Hey, go, you got it.

When you provide people with livable wages, they're able to be productive members of society.

GUADALUPE: Look at that belly.


GUADALUPE: And that's why we are A Second U, we want to give you a second chance at life.


ACOSTA: Get the whole story about Hector's program and nominate someone you know to be a CNN Hero at