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Floyd Family Meets with Biden; Policing Bill Optimism; Floyd Remembered One Year Later; Shareeduh Tate is Interviewed about Floyd; Moderna Releases Adolescent Trial Information. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired May 25, 2021 - 09:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. We're glad you're with us today.

This is a day that marks one year later. And one critical question, what has really changed? Soon, members of George Floyd's family will privately meet with President Biden at the White House on this one year anniversary of Floyd's murder while in police custody. The world, of course, watched. Protests over his death swept the country. Yet one year later, families of black men and women killed at the hands of police are still pleading for meaningful change.

SCIUTTO: Today, marchers will celebrate Floyd's life, a man whose name became a cry for racial justice around the country, even around the world. This as legislation bearing his name remains stalled in the Senate. The president set today as a deadline to get it done. That deadline's not going to be met. Will he take action without Congress? Floyd's brother, who will also meet with lawmakers today, had this message this morning.


PHILONISE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I think about my brother all the time. And my sister called me at 12:00 last night. She said, this is the day that our brother has left the earth. Just devastating.

I don't want to see people dying the same way my brother has passed.


SCIUTTO: One year later. Just remarkable.

In minutes we will go live to Minneapolis and to Capitol Hill.

First, let's begin with Jeff Zeleny at the White House ahead of the president's meeting with Floyd's family.

What do those plans look like?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, we do know that President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with the Floyd family, Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, Bridget Floyd, the sister, as well as Gianna Floyd, of course, who's George Floyd's now seven-year-old daughter. We're told that meeting will take place in the Oval Office this afternoon.

It is scheduled to be a private meeting. It is scheduled to be a chance for the president to come face-to-face with the family. And not for the first time. It was nearly a year ago in June of last year when Mr. Biden, then a former vice president, a candidate for the presidency, travelled to Houston before the funeral and met with the Floyd family and has talked with them really throughout the year and was on speaker phone with them on the day of that verdict of the murder trial in Minneapolis. But now they will come face-to-face here at the White House.

And, of course, the question is, will there be any policing reform. We heard the president during his address to a joint session of Congress last month call on Congress to act on that George Floyd policing bill. I'm told the president has been keeping a close eye on that legislation as it's moving -- as it's coming together slowly as things do happen in Washington. But there is progress on that.

So the president and vice president not necessarily frustrated that he will not be signing a bill into law today, but they are heartened by progress that is being made. So not necessarily much he can do without that legislation. That meeting here today at the Oval Office certainly very symbolic and very meaningful.

Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: No question, Jeff Zeleny. Thanks very much.

There is fresh optimism this morning from top Senate negotiators about the possibility of a bipartisan deal to overhaul policing in this country. Will they deliver, Poppy, this time?

HARLOW: Right. Right. And although they will miss President Biden's deadline of today for symbolic reasons, the big thing that matters, Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill, is, are they going to do it soon?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Will they reach the finish line on that? And that is the question everyone is asking.

And we saw this sharp turn of optimism from the lead negotiators who have been talking with each other for weeks now here on Capitol Hill. That's Senator Tim Scott, a Republican, and Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat. Of course, also Representative Karen Bass from the House of California.

And we heard from Tim Scott and Booker yesterday. They both told me they're feeling much more optimistic. They have been meeting all together over the weekend through the nights working very diligently to try to bridge the gap here. Now, we also know that George Floyd's family, while also taking that

meeting at the White House, will be here on The Hill today meeting with Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Bass, Senator Booker. Also Republicans, including Senator Scott, as well as Senator Lindsey Graham, who has also been involved in some of this as well.

But back to the progress they think they're making. Look, there are still sticking points they've got to resolve, including something called qualified immunity, which is emerging as really the key last sticking point that they have got to get through. They have made some progress and some tentative agreements on things like no-knock warrants and chokeholds, things that people really want to see overhauled in policing in the United States.


Tim Scott telling us yesterday that he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. That there is a framework they're starting to put together, Jim and Poppy. Cory Booker saying it's fair to say that framework is getting put together. He's -- I had asked him a week ago how things were going. He said, we have a long way to go. I asked him again yesterday. He said, we're a lot closer.

So, slowly but surely they seem to be making their way through it. The question now is, can they get to the finish line? And that's where they're all trying to go.

HARLOW: You certainly worked hard to get answers from both sides on this, Jess, and made a lot of news in the process. It's good for the country that they're coming a lot closer together. So great reporting, Jess, thank you.

DEAN: Thanks.

HARLOW: So our Omar Jimenez joins us now from Minneapolis.

And, Omar, I mean, for you personally, you were there in the days following George Floyd's death. You've stayed. You went through your own harrowing experience that the world saw on television. You covered the trial. Here we are one year later. What is it like in Minneapolis this morning?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's almost hard to put all together what has happened over the course of the past 365 days. Again, from that initial video going viral, from the protests that ensued, from the chaos that ensued as part of those protests from the trials of the conviction to now, that central question is, OK, all that has happened, but what is now different that could affect the long-term change and the root problem here.

There's been a lot of work, of course, being done in Washington. A lot of attention on that George Floyd Justice in Policing Act but also plenty of work trying to be done on the ground here in Minneapolis with community groups continuing to try and meet with the Minneapolis Police Department. One group in particular negotiated a federally mediated memorandum of

agreement back in 2003 on issues like excessive use of force and police community relations. That was signed by a then-Sergeant Medaria Arredondo. Here we are, almost two decades later, he's now chief of police and some of these same issues persist.

Now, one person who knows that maybe better than anyone else is Minnesota State Representative John Thompson. His friend, Philando Castile, was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer in 2016. And Thompson feels the pace of policy just isn't moving fast enough to keep up with reality.


JOHN THOMPSON (D), MINNESOTA STATE HOUSE: We could have saved George Floyd's life in 2016 when Philando was murdered. We could have saved Daunte Wright's life when George Floyd was murdered had we just like looked at police accountability pieces seriously and said, we're going to put an end to this right now.


JIMENEZ: Now, the mayor here in Minneapolis, Jacob Fry, has pointed to some concrete policy changes like bans on chokeholds and requiring officers to intervene when they see excessive use of force, but there's still much more work to be done.

Jim. Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Yes. A remarkable little piece of history there, Omar, that the chief of police, I mean, his own experience of this going back 20 years.


SCIUTTO: Omar Jimenez, thanks very much.

Joining us now is Shareeduh Tate. She is George Floyd's cousin. She now serves as president of the George Floyd Foundation as well.

Shareeduh, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.

SHAREEDUH TATE, GEORGE FLOYD'S COUSIN: Good morning. Thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: You grew up with George Floyd in the same house. You called him "Perry." He talked about being famous one day, I know you and other family members have noted. And for all of us, his seven-year-old daughter, her comment about him has stuck with us. I want to play it so our viewers remember.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your daddy changed the world. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did what?

FLOYD: Daddy changed the world!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy changed the world.


SCIUTTO: My daddy changed the world.

I just wonder, for you, and other members of the family, tell us what today is like for you.

TATE: Well, I think today is probably one that we've all just kind of been regretting to some extent. It's kind of like, you know, it's been a slow and arduous journey first to make it to this day. So, I don't know.

I think emotions are kind of all over the place. You know, you never really know how you're going to feel when this day actually comes, the first anniversary of something like that. But I think, overall, we have always been, you know, anchored in our faith and trusted that that would help us get through. And that's really what we're doing today.

HARLOW: I wonder -- I know the legislation that you have pushed so hard for isn't done yet, but signs are looking like maybe it will actually happen. The family of George Floyd, some of your family members, are going to be at the White House today and there is the guilty on all counts murder conviction of Derek Chauvin and a DOJ civil rights investigation in Minneapolis.


Does any of that give you hope for what's ahead?

TATE: It does. It does. I think that, you know, when we reflect back on others -- other families who have experienced what we have and, you know, haven't seen this level or this type of movement take place, and so, you know, it helps to know that, number one, from the time that Perry was murdered, that there was really a global movement that we saw that everybody was in solidarity on the same page, saying, you know, they saw and they felt what we were feeling. And so to be at this point where we do have the guilty convictions, three guilty for Derek Chauvin, as well as the federal charges and the investigation that's going on, those are all positive signs.

Certainly, we would have liked to have seen the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to already be passed at this point, but I think delayed is not denied. You know, we certainly have come a long way and I am optimistic that we'll get there. But we are more interested in having a bill that has some meat and potatoes to it versus just having a symbolic bill.


TATE: And so I'm hoping that it will include the qualified immunity and those other components that we think will make it a good bill.

SCIUTTO: It's early. It's been a year. There's a long way to go. I just wonder, do you think you and your family and this country might look back to that day, May 25, 2020, as a turning point in the fight for greater racial justice in this country? Do you think it has the potential to be one of those days in this country's history?

TATE: I think so. I think so. And I can say that because from my perspective, you know, when -- when we lost him, it -- it was a very personal thing for us initially and we had no idea the kind of impact that it would have. But it was almost immediately like seeing the fact that people were able to have conversations and, you know, cross diverse lines, people were able to talk about things that we never had a conversation about before.

And, again, to see, you know, the charges and the convictions and the legislation, those are all things that are indicators that there's a change. And I think we're moving in the right direction. So I definitely consider it one of those change -- one of those turning points.

HARLOW: Shareeduh, we can't know your pain, but, again, we're so sorry and we're so grateful you are with us this morning. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: We are.

TATE: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Well, we have a lot ahead this hour. Still to come, Moderna announces that its vaccine appears safe and effective in adolescents. What this means for our kids as they go back to school in the fall.

Plus, Louisiana State Police say one officer initially did not report his body camera video from a fatal encounter with Mr. Greene. Why not?

SCIUTTO: And Senate Republicans set this week to filibuster a bipartisan bill for a bipartisan January 6th commission. We will speak to a House Republican who voted for that bill. Please stay with us.



SCIUTTO: Some big news this morning when it comes to protecting America's children from COVID-19. Moderna has announced new vaccine trial results for kids between the ages of 12 and 17.

HARLOW: And this study finds that it is safe -- appears safe and effective at preventing adolescents from getting sick from COVID-19.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us.

Another bit of good news.


HARLOW: What is the most important thing from this trial?

GUPTA: Yes, so this is information that's coming from the company itself. I always state that at the beginning because this will be data that's reviewed by the FDA.

HARLOW: Right.

GUPTA: But I think the most significant thing is basically these trials are showing through what's called a bridging trial. Very similar data to what Pfizer vaccines showed in this age group, but also similar data to what we're seeing in adults. So take a look at the numbers overall.

So 3,700 people in the trial. And, again, that's a smaller number than the original trials because you're trying to bridge this data. You're looking at the adult data and then bridging it to this younger age group here. And what they found was that in the vaccinated group there were zero cases of COVID and there were four cases in the placebo group. But, importantly, as you mentioned, they also studied antibodies. Are these people who are getting vaccinated generating antibodies, neutralizing antibodies, which is a term everyone knows nowadays but those are the proteins that help fight off the virus. And the answer was yes, at least according to the data released by the company.

So if this holds up, I think it will be another vaccine likely to be authorized for, in this case, 12 to 17-year-olds.

SCIUTTO: So, as you know, Pfizer's vaccine, it got the green light for emergency use a little over a week ago and those vaccines have been happening, millions of children 12 to 15 getting them.

What has that pick-up rate been like, and is it sufficient to help control the spread of the virus in the younger population?

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, Jim, this sort of surprised me a little bit because I wasn't sure what the pick-up was going to be like. But we can show you, overall, keep in mind that 12 to 15-year-olds, if you do the math, they're about 5 percent of the population of the country.


But what they represent is about 25 percent of the overall vaccines now over this past week. So, you know, people are showing up in that age group to get the vaccine, which is good. A lot of people are using this as an opportunity to get their kids vaccinated before the summer, for summer camps and things like that. If another vaccine is available, one thing we can be certain of is that the overall supply of vaccine will not be the rate-limiting step. I think we can say that for -- for -- with pretty great certainty now.

HARLOW: Yes. That chart just showed a lot.

How big is the news from Moderna in terms of, you know, getting kids back fully vaccinated into school before the fall knowing that we -- I don't know if any city has said yet, Sanjay, certainly not New York City and New York state, if they're going to mandate all kids get vaccinated for school.

GUPTA: You know, I sort of -- you know, having reported on this for a while, have a couple of minds on this. One is that, you know, clear -- I think it was pretty clear, even based on the data, that even before these vaccines were authorized for this age group, that it would have been impossible to open schools with those mitigation measures that we talk about. I think the change here is that you may be able to relax some of those mitigation measures going into the fall now if you get enough kids vaccinated, which looks promising.

We also know, looking at some of the trials that are ongoing, that ages -- kids ages five to 11 may also potentially have a vaccine that is either close to authorized or authorized by the beginning of school year next year as well. So we'll see. I think -- I think it could have a significant impact.

Again, they probably could have done it even without the vaccines but this will, I think, really pave that road.

SCIUTTO: As you know, Sanjay, there's a growing debate within the U.S. intelligence community, but also scientific communities when it comes to the origin of this virus. You know, was the story that China told early on that this escaped from a wet market true? Are there contra indicators, in fact, as we've seen in several workers in China's Wuhan Institute of Virology, that lab there, were hospitalized going back to 2019. When you interviewed the former CDC director, Robert Redfield, early this year, he said then he thought that COVID-19 was not only circulating in September or October in Wuhan but could have escaped from a lab. I want to play that clip and then get your thoughts on it today.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR (March 25, 2020): I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human and at that moment in time the virus came to the human, became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human-to-human transmission. Normally when a pathogen goes from a zoonom (ph) to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient in human-to-human transmission. I just don't think this makes biological sense.

GUPTA: So in the lab, do you think that that process of becoming more efficient was happening? Is that what you are suggesting?

REDFIELD: Yes, let's just say I have coronavirus that I'm working on. Most of us in a lab were trying to grow virus. We're trying to help make it grow better and better and better and better and better and better so we can do experiments and figure out about it, right? That's -- that's the way I put it together.


SCIUTTO: Is that where the conventional wisdom is going right now?

GUPTA: Yes, I think so. I want to give a simple answer to that question. I mean I think that we still don't know the overall origins of this virus, but I think there is a preponderance of evidence that is starting to grow on that side of things.

One thing about -- talking to Dr. Redfield at that time, as you know, is that he was the CDC director when this was all happening. He had access to raw intelligence and raw data that I didn't have.

When he was answering that question, I wasn't so surprised about what he was saying, because the theory had been out there. I was surprised that he was the one that was saying it. And I thought that was really significant.

One thing I want to just point out quickly is that those people who -- people talk about that got sick from that virology lab. If they had blood samples that were taken at that time, and those blood samples are still available, you could then test those for antibodies to see if there was antibodies present even going back to, you know, fall of 2019. That could start to really lay some more objective evidence down.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Wow.

HARLOW: Wow is right. I mean that interview, that whole documentary you did, Sanjay, with all those experts now is like continuing to be more and more relevant given all we're finding out.

Thank you very much for that.

GUPTA: You got it.

HARLOW: Well, we have new evidence this morning of a potential cover- up in the police killing of Ronald Greene. CNN has learned the ranking state trooper at the scene of the arrest initially did not even tell the authorities he had body camera footage of his own or turn it in, in the investigation.


What it all means now for this.

SCIUTTO: And we're moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Futures pointing higher. This after stocks jumped to start the week. Recent comments from Federal Reserve officials have helped ease concerns about rising inflation. We're going to keep an eye on it.


HARLOW: Soon, Secretary of State Antony Blinker is set to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, just hours after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


SCIUTTO: Not a particularly comfortable meeting.