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Marches, Rallies Mark One Year Since Police Killing of George Floyd; Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Says, Greene's Holocaust Comparison Appalling; Blinken Meets with Palestinian Authority President Abbas. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 25, 2021 - 10:00   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.


On the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's murder, America still has a race problem. Promises of meaningful police reform have not been met on Capitol Hill, and in the year since floyd's killing, reignited demands for racial justice and accountability, more black Americans, sadly, have died at the hands of police.

HARLOW: But this morning, there is new light at the end of the tunnel, in the words of one of the key lawmakers leading the negotiations. They're indicating a bipartisan deal may happen and it may happen soon. Members of Floyd's family will meet privately today with the president and lawmakers. Among them will be Floyd's young daughter, Gianna, who said in the days following her father's murder, that her daddy changed the world, and he did.

And so will actual change happen in the form of a new law on policing in America? That is where we start this hour. We have live team coverage from Washington to Minneapolis.

We begin at the White House. John Harwood is there for us. John, this is the first time President Biden will meet with the family in person since Floyd was buried. Do we know what will happen, what he will say?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we expect, Poppy, though the meeting is going to be private, we expect the president to, first, of course, acknowledge the one-year anniversary and extend condolences to the family, but also try to make the case that even though they're not meeting the deadline the president had set for enacting this legislation. They do have the chance to turn George Floyd's death into some sort of police reform that would be applicable around the country, and that's what Philonise Floyd had to say on New Day this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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.


HARWOOD: Now, there is the potential for a breakthrough here, as you indicated before. This has a potential to be a bright spot on the president's agenda. But it also underscores the challenge of shifting conditions as we get deeper into the year. Rising crime in cities around the country has changed the tone of the policing conversation and similarly on economic recovery, that's changed the tone of stimulus negotiations, how much federal investment is needed and where it should go.

The challenge for the Biden team on this and other issues is to try to keep momentum and focus from slipping away, guys.

SCIUTTO: Manu, the president set today as a deadline to get police reform bill on it. That, of course, is not going to happen. But there is more positive talk on the Hill. I consider you the Congress whisperer here. Is that optimism based on something?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. And, look, the fact that they are indicating that they're moving closer is significant. Typically, when things are not going so well, you'll get indications from the key negotiators that they are still far apart. Even Tim Scott, the top Republican negotiator, had said just a couple weeks ago they are very far apart. But last night, he did say he sees light at the end of the tunnel.

And I did talk to a another one of the key negotiators, who is Cory Booker, late last night. And he also said he agreed with Scott's characterization. He said that he believes that they've made a significant progress over the weekend. They're going to continue to talk.

And I asked him about that key sticking point, which is qualified immunity, which is civil lawsuit protections for police officers. That had been dividing the two sides for weeks. And he would not -- he didn't want to get into the details of that but he said he along with Tim Scott and Karen Bass are moving much closer, and if they're moving much closer, it suggests some movement on that key issue of qualified immunity.

Now, there are issues that they have already resolved, including dealing with chokehold, standard for chokehold. Democrats had wanted a national standard outlawing choke holds, as well as federal standards for no-knock warrants and limits on equipment from the Defense Department.


They had been talking about those issues. They had been set aside as they deal with these more significant sticking points.

And one issue that Tim Scott has said off the table is lowering the threshold to actually criminally prosecute police officers. Democrats wanted to move that to make it any reckless conduct could be enough to prosecute police officers. He wanted that, Tim Scott, off the table. It seems that it's not going to get into the final package here but we'll have to see in the days ahead. But at least optimism on both sides of the deal could be coming together. Guys?

SCIUTTO: That's a big change if that's not part of it, right, Poppy, that standard.

HARLOW: Yes, that's true. But you know what? If both sides give a little and they can get something done, that's a big deal for the American people. Manu, thanks a lot.

Omar Jimenez is with us now in Minneapolis where you have been, Omar, for the last year covering all of this. What is it like in the city today?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy and Jim. Well, a little later this morning, celebration of the life and legacy of George Floyd is going to kick off a day of remembrance and reflection on this year anniversary. And it means so much to so many different people. But part of what people are looking for now is what is different this year later.

Well, for starters, this over the past few days we've seen an ongoing series of events from the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, trying to bring together some of the people that have been affected in different ways and in different settings.

Last night, for example, we saw panel of -- that included the families of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Daunte Wright, Botham Jean and more. These are -- this is a family made up of families united in the worse way imaginable.

And while so much attention has understandably been given to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, trying to make its way through Washington, there's been a lot of work being done on the ground here in Minneapolis from community groups. One in particular that highlights how difficult this work actually is, they negotiated a federally mediated memorandum of agreement with the Minneapolis Police Department in 2003, signed by then Sergeant Medaria Arradando. He is now chief of police. It is nearly two decades later and they are still dealing with some of the same issues.

We spoke to one of the leaders of that community group. And I simply asked him, what's different this time around?


JIMENEZ: What is different here in Minneapolis? And what is different in the fight that you all are trying to wage?

PASTOR IAN D. BETHEL, UNITY COMMUNITY MEDIATION TEAM: The difference now is that there is more awareness of the atrocities that the Minneapolis Police Department has been he getting away with for decades. That's the difference.


JIMENEZ: But even still, the pace of policy has lagged behind reality. And the mayor here in Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, has pointed to some policy changes, including bans on chokeholds and now requiring officers to intervene when they are witnessing unreasonable uses of force, but many that's not enough.

And we should also mention, we are in the middle of a Department of Justice probe into patterns and practices at the Minneapolis Police Department, a probe that city leaders support but one they hope yields results that they can actually use in a timely manner, and that's going to be the real question. Poppy? Jim?


SCIUTTO: Those pattern and practices investigations often yield real change, right, with lasting effects. Omar Jimenez, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thank you, Omar.

Well, this morning, Moderna joins Pfizer and becomes the second COVID- 19 vaccine maker to announce really positive trial results in kids ages 12 to 17. Moderna says its COVID vaccines appear safe and effective in preventing the virus in adolescence.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now, CNN Health Reporter Jacqueline Howard. So, tell us more what the data from the trial shows.

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Jim and Poppy, this data is very promising. And the company's CEO for Moderna announced just this morning that they plan to submit these trial results to the FDA and regulators globally as early as in early June. So that means if things go well, we could see Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine possibly authorized and available for younger ages 12 to 17 by as soon as next month.

Now, the trial results showed the trial was done in ages 12 to 17. There were more than 3,700 trial participants. Some of the participants were vaccinated. Some were not. They were given a placebo. Researchers found that in that vaccinated group, there were zero COVID-19 cases and the unvaccinated group, there were four COVID- 19 cases identified. This tells us the vaccine works well in ages 12 to 17, just as well as it works in adults.

The company also announced the safety profile was similar to what's seen adults. There were no major safety concerns. Moderna plans to submit these results to a peer review journal soon. And, again, if things go well, Moderna could add to the supply for ages 12 to 17, just like Pfizer added to that supply.


And health officials have said there is a lot of demand among these younger ages. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: Listen, these remarkable results for vaccines we're seeing consistently. Jacqueline Howard, Thanks very much.

Still to come this hour, a fight over the filibuster heats up. Senate Democrats moving forward with a vote on the January 6 commission even though it's facing an uphill battle from Republicans.

Plus, the sound of silence, why isn't House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling out Marjorie Taylor Greene's recent offensive comments?

HARLOW: And as COVID-19 cases drop, vacation bookings soar. We're going to be joined live by the CEO of Airbnb with his big prediction ahead.



HARLOW: Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene this morning once again reiterating incredibly offensive and inaccurate comments comparing health mandates for the pandemic to the holocaust.

SCIUTTO: But just moments ago, a change after a number of days of these comments from the GOP leadership. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had this response on Twitter, unusually strong words. Marjorie is wrong and her decision to compare the horrors of the holocaust with wearing masks is appalling. The House Republican Conference condemns this language, he says.

CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash is here now. And, Dana, as you know, Greene has been saying some fairly nasty and unfounded things for a number of months now. But these comparisons clearly step too far for the Republican leadership.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, they should not be a step too far, as I know you both agreed. This should be a leap and a bound, miles too far for the leadership. Let's say it's clearly appropriate for the House Republican leader to finally speak out and to say that he shouldn't even have to condemn language like this from a member of his own conference, but he does, and he did.

And It took many days and not just in original comment but her doubling down on the disgusting comments comparing mask-wearing to the holocaust, and then tripling down on it with another tweet this morning. He finally said what he said. What are the repercussions? We don't know.

I will say that this new statement from McCarthy comes amid a lot of pressure not just from his own rank and file, who have spoken out, not everybody, but a lot of people have, and even some people who he has known for a long time. One of his very good friends, Republican strategist and fundraiser Jeff Miller tweeted this morning about Marjorie Taylor Greene. I think you need to pay a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Museum, talking about how disgusting and ignorant her tweets and comments are. I mean, when you have someone like that and others really, clearly trying to publicly push the leadership to do the same, that's what we just saw from Kevin McCarthy.

HARLOW: so this is a first step, right? So this is a statement and a comment on what she has been saying for a few days now. My question to you, Dana, is, and then what?

BASH: Great question. Here's -- that's the question, Poppy. Because here is the political reality for these Republicans. If they have not taken the step towards, I'm going to do what I need to do for my conscience and my political viability be dammed, like Liz Cheney, like Peter Meijer, who I talked to on Sunday, Republican from Michigan, and like others of that ilk. They are worried about their own political viability, which is why it took so long for Kevin McCarthy to speak out.

And that speaks volumes about where the GOP is now, that it is potentially politically dangerous to speak out against somebody who is saying repulsive things about mask-wearing and the holocaust and about Jews and the holocaust and are already being be taken as fuel for anti-Semitism in this country.


BASH: I mean, that is so telling about where the Republican Party is. But that is the reality now.

SCIUTTO: And, listen, there are voices that they have not been willing to challenge, the president is among them. And there is a common thread here, not a comparison to the holocaust, but we look at the president's comments going back to Charlottesville. I mean, those people marched with torches, talking about blood and soil, deliberate anti-Semitic message there. And, of course, the president made his famous both sides comments.

I do want to talk about something beyond Greene, and that is what is happening or is likely to happen in the Senate this week regarding a commission to investigate January 6th because this is a remarkable reality to be in. Many senators said, yes, 9/11 commission, at least in the days after January 6th. Now, they're saying, actually, we really don't want to go there. And they're going to use the filibuster, it seems, to block this. Where does that say in terms of where the party stands right now?

BASH: It's obviously very different in some ways from Marjorie Taylor Greene but it's very similar.


Because it all boils down to the same root problem and issue, which is the inability and the -- it's impossible for so many of these Republicans to speak out against lies, and more importantly, the flipside of that coin, to find the truth, to find the truth in whatever is happening.

And what they are refusing to find the truth on now is what happened in their own building, what happened to them. They were the potential victims here. A lot of them are traumatized because of the insurrection, the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

And, yes, even Kevin McCarthy, other Republicans were very pro- commission at the beginning and they're not now, and it's because Donald Trump says, don't do it. And he's still pushing the big lie. If you find the truth, it's hard to still push the big lie at the same time.


HARLOW: By the way, Dana, that interview with Congressman Meijer on Sunday was great. And I think it is just so important for people to hear just the emphasis and the despair in his voice in some of the answers to your questions said a lot. Thank you, Dana.

BASH: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: Up next, a surge in attacks on Jewish-Americans, and it is not just the horrifying physical violence we're seeing. Find out what the Anti-Defamation League discovered about online activity, ahead.



HARLOW: Welcome back. Right now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This follows the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

SCIUTTO: Earlier, Blinken held similar talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and announced that the U.S. would be making, quote, significant contributions to help rebuild Gaza after the 11 day conflict. He also spoke about the rise of anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: In our own country, in the United States, we've witnessed a shocking eruption of anti-Semitic attacks. As President Biden said just yesterday, they are despicable and they must stop.


SCIUTTO: Authorities have now arrested a second person in connection to just a heinous anti-Semitic attack in New York's Times Square. What we've been learning recently, video captured the gang of men attacking a 29-year-old Jewish man as he walked alone on Broadway in daylight.

The spike in anti-Semitism across New York forcing the governor to call on state police to increase security in and around Jewish communities and places of worship. According to the Anti-Defamation League, it received 193 reports of possible anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in the week after the fighting between Israel and Hamas began up nearly 50 percent from the week prior. Joining me now, Jonathan Greenblatt, he is CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. Jonathan, good to have you back.


SCIUTTO: So, first, if I can, just because it happened in the last few moments, we saw the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, after a number of days of just appalling comparisons by Marjorie Taylor Greene of vaccination records and other health measures here as being somehow comparable to the holocaust. McCarthy himself denouncing those, calling them appalling, himself. Your reaction to that?

GREENBLATT: Well, look, I'm glad that Congressman McCarthy spoke up. It took him long enough. I mean, I think one of the things that is most powerful is when people are willing to call out those within their own party when they say things that cross the line. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has been stripped of her committee assignments, she is QAnon enthusiast, like she thinks there are Jewish space lasers starting forest fires. She has got a long track record of sort of unhinged statements. But, again, it's powerful when the leader of the Republican Party speaks out.

And I think it's incumbent upon whether you're from the right or the left in this moment when we're seeing anti-Semitism in the streets, and some on the left haven't called it out clearly unequivocally, Jim. We need people to be willing to say without qualification anti- Semitism is unacceptable and has no place in America.

SCIUTTO: It would seem to be an easy thing to do in the year 2021, and yet for some, it's not. Tell us, explain to our viewers who might not understand this, what you believe is fueling this right now. You noted to my colleague, Wolf, last night that social media is a big part of the problem.

GREENBLATT: There is no doubt that social media has amplified and exacerbated this issue. Look, in previous situations when there has been conflict in the Middle East, we've seen an uptick of anti-Semitic acts in America, but nothing like the disturbing and drastic surge of late. We tracked a 63 percent increase over the two-week period, you know, that the conflict happened, which is stunning. And as you mentioned earlier, assault in broad daylight that were brazen and brutal.

Social media, we've seen like a hashtag Hitler was right, amplified more than 17,000 times on Twitter. We saw a 350 percent increase of anti-Semitic poison on 4chan and from TikTok to Instagram, it's been incredibly ugly.