Return to Transcripts main page
Millions Traveling This Holiday Weekend As New Cases Plummet; Biden Orders Intel Community To Report On COVID Origins In 90 Days; Senate Republicans Block Bipartisan Jan. 6 Commission; Judge Grants "Special Master" Request In Giuliani Raid; Reports: Manhattan D.A. Could Consider Racketeering Charge For Trump Organization; Trump's Grip On GOP Drowns Out Paul Ryan's Case Against Trumpism; Texas Voting Bill Set To Pass After Final Tweaks This Weekend. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 29, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Large hail the size of golf balls and even some isolated tornadoes.
Severe storms will continue across the central U.S. not only Sunday but also into Memorial Day itself. We also have the potential for yet again another set of rain showers into the northeast on Memorial Day. As well, the portions of the southeast look nice.
The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST (on camera): Good afternoon to you. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Jessica Dean in this weekend for Fredricka Whitfield.
More people are flying this Memorial Day weekend than during any time since the start of the pandemic. The TSA reporting that nearly 2 million people traveled through airport checkpoints on Friday alone.
Millions of Americans taking to the skies as most states ditch mask mandates and lift restrictions for people who have gotten vaccinated.
More than 133 million Americans are now fully vaccinated that makes up just over 40 percent of the population. 10 states have already reached the Biden administration's goal of vaccinating 70 percent of adults with at least one dose by July 4th. That's according to the latest CDC data.
CNN's Paul Vercammen joins me now from Santa Monica beach in California. We want to begin though with CNN's Natasha Chen in Miami Beach, Florida. Natasha, people excited to be back outside, I would imagine.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Jessica, people are so excited to party. I mean, the crowds last night on the streets out here were so intense. It created traffic gridlock and we're seeing people just very excited, some of them taking their first trips since the pandemic began. Even the mayor of Miami Beach is saying that the volume of people coming here is unprecedented, which of course, creates its own problems as far as crowd control and he is reminding everyone the virus is still here.
We did talk to a couple of people who traveled in from Gulfport, Mississippi to celebrate a birthday with 50 other people who also traveled in from out of state, and of course, it's the first time they're experiencing getting together with this many people since the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night, it was kind of like gridlock coming back in. So, it was definitely we knew --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We knew the party was about to start for Memorial Day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we definitely turned the corner, I mean, we was a little terrified before for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's like we're going back to a little bit of normalcy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm not forgetting about it, you know, when you got something in serious place you have to wear your back. But for the most part we almost forgetting about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHEN: Almost forgetting about it. That's the tone here. And, of course, restrictions have been relatively lax in Florida, but now we are really seeing, you know, social distancing markers removed, and signs that tell vaccinated people, they don't have to wear a mask even indoors.
So, people are feeling much more relaxed, businesses of course, very excited to see those dollars come in after suffering through the past year hotel occupancy in this county right now. For the first time this year is hitting about the same mark as this same week in 2019. Jessica.
DEAN: Wow! What a difference vaccines make, right? Natasha, thanks so much.
And Paul, you're in Santa Monica, California. California, one of only three states that still has a mask mandate in place. So, over on the other side of the country I'm curious if life is beginning to return to normal there as the state prepares to fully reopen.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is it ever and especially where I'm standing, Santa Monica, California, a tourist town. And yes, I've been vaccinated and so has the mayor. I'm going to talk to her in one second.
But what happened here in Santa Monica a year ago, absolute calamity. We saw these beaches shut down last summer. This really just sucked the lifeblood out of Santa Monica.
Now, glimmers of hope, but still tough times bring in Mayor Sue Himmelrich.
Mayor, how did you survive when your tax revenue through all these hotels and businesses absolutely was obliterated?
SUE HIMMELRICH, MAYOR OF SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA: Well, our staff was amazing. We took some voluntary retirements, laid off some people. But I'm so thrilled that we are coming back now, we are working on our new budget which is still very short of where it was, but you can see around you, people are coming back to the beach, back to the sun, back to the water, back to the pier which was shut for a long time last year. And we're hopeful that we'll be back.
VERCAMMEN: You had to use attrition and some other techniques just to try to get by as a city. Can you explain that?
HIMMELRICH: Yes, well, we lost about a quarter of our revenues to -- most of our revenues come from tourism and parking, and all of that went to basically zero.
For several months last year, we've gotten some federal funds, 29 million. Thanks to our fantastic Congressman Ted Lieu. And we have a finance staff that has made our budget fit our community priorities which is what our budget ought to do.
HIMMELRICH: So, our budget commits our -- reflects our values, we fed people who don't have food, we've housed people who don't have housing, and we are working towards a robust recovery for Santa Monica with an eye towards equity and inclusion.
VERCAMMEN: And we should note, it's a little gray right now this morning. But we know the sun will come out and we will see a scene that will warm your heart which is people back to this beach.
HIMMELRICH: Well, I see people on this beach now because you can't keep people away from the beach no matter what. And it will be sunny and people will be on the pier and people will be on the roller coaster, and Santa Monica welcomes them.
VERCAMMEN: Thank you so much for taking time out mayor and congratulations on surviving all this.
As you've heard, Jessica, she's looking forward to people coming back here and that Ferris wheel moving again and that's a sign that California is coming back to life. Back to you.
DEAN: All right, Paul Vercammen and Natasha Chen and the mayor, thanks to all of you.
While the coronavirus pandemic has claimed more than 3-1/2 million lives worldwide. There's still no definitive answer on how exactly the virus originated. But The New York Times reports U.S. intelligence officials told the White House there is still unexamined evidence that could possibly help answer that question. And CNN's Natasha Bertrand joins me now with more on how the White House is planning to get to the bottom of this mystery. And Natasha, what are you learning about this?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. So, what we're told from our sources, Jessica is that the White House is really trying to get the intelligence community to redouble its efforts and re-examine all of the intelligence that it has gathered on this point. And part of that will entail the help from the Department of Energy's national labs.
They have supercomputers that can help the intelligence community sift through these mountains of data, mountains of signals intelligence that they have collected over the last year to make sure that they haven't missed anything that could allow them to get closer to the answer as to what actually caused this pandemic.
The White House also really wants to elevate science. They really want to empower more traditional scientists throughout this 90-day sprint, because they recognize how important even open-source information that scientists can analyze can be to getting closer to this answer.
And our sources tell us that actually traditional scientists and within the intelligence community kind of the lab coat type people were feeling a bit drowned out over the last year because some of them who felt like the lab leak theory was a little bit more plausible felt like they were being drowned out by intelligence community elements who maybe believed based on intercepts or whatever other intelligence they had gathered that perhaps it's more likely that this came from an animal.
But, still no consensus at all by the intelligence community which theory is more likely. And that's in part because of all of the signals intelligence that they have gathered over the last year, there are no intercepted conversations between Chinese government officials that the U.S. is eavesdropping on is spying on that could get us closer to this answer. No sign of a scramble for example after a lab leak. No sign of a Chinese officials trying to cover anything up.
So, right now, it's really just kind of going back to the drawing board using the help of the Department of Energy national labs to try to sift through all of this data and see if we can come any closer to an answer, Jessica.
DEAN: It's fascinating. All right, Natasha Bertrand, thanks so much for that great reporting. We appreciate it.
BERTRAND: Thank you.
DEAN: And joining us now is Asha Rangapa, she's a CNN legal and national security analyst, a former FBI special agent as well. Asha, always great to have you on. Thanks for making time this afternoon.
I'm curious what you make of the president giving the intelligence community 90 days to report back on this.
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. Well, this is not an investigation in kind of the way that we normally think of it. The intelligence community, as Natasha just mentioned, is comprised of the ODNI and 17 different agencies that all have different competencies and expertise. They are collecting raw intelligence, then they analyze it, they disseminate it until they get to, you know, an assessment, a picture of what's going on.
And so, what's happening here is this is really a direction from the president to, you know, prioritize this particular collection requirement and analyze it more fully. What's different about the coronavirus intelligence that they're gathering is that it requires high levels of scientific and medical expertise in order to parse and understand.
So, this is where, you know, the labs are going to come in. And the idea here is to, you know, basically take a blurry picture in which they don't have clear confidence in what theory is correct, and bring it into sharper focus if they can.
DEAN: Yes, that makes sense. And President Biden has asked the intelligence community to go over that material with the help of the national labs, their computers. How is this -- I know you talked about how this is a little bit different and that they're the way they're going to go about this.
But help us really understand how this is a departure from maybe the traditional way things might be done?
RANGAPPA: Well, you know, as I mentioned, different agencies have different competencies, different approaches to intelligence. Some may be collecting human intelligence, Natasha mentioned signals intelligence. Conversations, there may be research data that needs to be parsed through.
And it sounds like from Natasha's reporting that this -- they have voluminous raw intelligence. They just, you know, they don't either they haven't even analyzed it fully, maybe they're not sure about the reliability, it's not corroborated, and so, this is kind of bringing it all together with a more focused attempt to analyze it. And to bring that confidence level up.
So, low confidence, you know, it's not unusual, it just means that you know, they don't have the corroboration or the reliability in what they have right now. You want to, you know, corroborate, vet it, understand the intelligence to bring that confidence level so that they can perhaps land on a theory.
And I think this is really important because there are other narratives that are coming out from China at this moment about the origins of the virus that, you know, in many ways the U.S. needs to respond to.
DEAN: And as I'm sitting here listening to you talk about what it's -- what they're going to be doing, how this is going to work, it seems very complicated and difficult. It seems like quite a challenge. Is that correct? I mean this sounds like a very hard thing to do. What are they up against is they try to collect all this information and sift through all of this.
RANGAPPA: You know, I don't know that it's necessarily -- you know, this is what the intelligence agencies do. Like I said, I think what's different here is the level of scientific expertise that's needed.
RANGAPPA: And it sounds like they're bringing in those experts into this analysis. I mean, what's different here is, you know, normally, you might be looking at say, the geopolitical situation, you know, in an area -- in a region. And you're using analysts who have expertise in that region and that's, you know, something that they're used to, to bring this into an area of, you know, the virus, science, medicine, you need a different kind of background and expertise. So, that's I think what they're bringing in and trying to focus it more.
Like I said, you know China has been promoting a narrative -- a disinformation narrative that the virus originated in the U.S. as, you know, a U.S. government weapon, which has echoes of what the Soviet Union did in the 1980s with the AIDS virus.
It was a highly successful disinformation campaign and really damaging to our long-term public health efforts because where this disinformation took hold, for example, in Africa, you know when we were trying to do combat AIDS, for example, the people didn't trust the U.S. government. So, we want to combat that.
So, another thing that's unusual here, Jessica is the fact that this is being made public. That President Biden is saying we're going to get to the bottom of this, which is both, I think, you know, countering the narrative that China is putting out, but also sending Beijing a message that we will get to the bottom of this, and we will be transparent about it.
RANGAPPA: And so, that is really important in terms of, you know, nipping conspiracy theories in the bud.
DEAN: Right, and we have learned you got to nip them in the bud. Right? All right, Asha Rangappa, thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate it.
RANGAPPA: Thank you.
DEAN: And coming up, 450 people charged, five people killed, yet no independent investigation into the Capitol Hill insurrection. Now, the family of one of the victims wants answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDRA GARZA, GIRLFRIEND OF BRIAN SICKNICK: It's just unbelievable to me that they could do nothing about this.
DEAN (voice-over): Thing prosecutors reportedly investigating whether Ukrainians used him to promote misleading election claims.
And later, recovering from disaster. CNN is in the Democratic Republic of Congo as thousands flee an erupting volcano.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN (on camera): Some breaking news now. "JUST IN", the NYPD has confirmed to CNN, the suspected gunman who allegedly opened fire in Times Square earlier this month has been extradited from Florida and charged.
You'll remember, two women and a four-year-old girl were wounded during that shooting. 31-year-old Farrakhan Muhammad is facing multiple charges including attempted murder.
In an exclusive interview with WCJB at the Bradford County Jail in Florida, Muhammad denied his involvement in the shooting saying he was not in New York City at that time.
Now, coming back here to Washington D.C. where Republican senators have blocked a bipartisan probe into the January 6th insurrection. Before that vote on Friday, several senators met with the mother and girlfriend of fallen Capitol police Officer Brian Sicknick.
Sicknick's loved ones say they are not surprised with the outcome, but they are blasting senators for paying lip service to supporting them while refusing to investigate what happened that day.
They spoke exclusively with CNN's Jake Tapper yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARZA: Those people were there to, you know, destroy the will of the people. They could have destabilized government as we know it. You know, the vice president was in the building. People were after the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
I mean, the -- it's just unbelievable to me that they could do nothing about this. And now is not the time to sit around and say, well, maybe we'll do something in the future. The time to do something is now.
GLADYS SICKNICK, MOTHER OF BRIAN SICKNICK: They wanted children --
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The country word, this kind of insurrection (INAUDIBLE).
SICKNICK: Right, yes. Do they want their children to grow up like this? I mean, do they really what those people that we saw on January 6th, do they want them to be like that? They want to build a government that, you know, that is with these people? I just don't understand that.
DEAN: With the bipartisan commission now off the table, Democrats are looking at their options to move forward with their own investigation. CNN congressional correspondent Ryan Nobles has more now from Capitol Hill.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): It may have taken a little bit longer than expected.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three-fifths of the senators duly chose -- chosen and sworn not having voted in the affirmative. The motion is not agreed to.
NOBLES: But the outcome was never endowed. Republicans successfully blocking an attempt to form an independent commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection.
The final vote, 54 to 35. 60 votes were needed to move the measure forward.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): But out of fear or fealty to Donald Trump, the Republican minority just prevented the American people from getting the full truth about January sixth.
NOBLES: Six Republicans voted yes. Among them, Maine's Susan Collins who attempted to make changes to the bill to bring her fellow Republicans on board. It was not enough.
Louisiana's Bill Cassidy who voted yes and voted to impeach former President Trump warned his colleagues they will now lose a voice in future investigations. "The investigations will happen with or without Republicans. To ensure the investigations are fair, impartial, and focused on facts, Republicans need to be involved."
And Democrats are already hinting that is the direction they will go.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who made a number of concessions to get the bill over the finish line in the House vowed she was not done investigating what happened on January 6th.
"Honoring our responsibility to the Congress in which we serve and the country which we love, Democrats will proceed to find the truth."
The Republican refusal to form the independent commission comes at the same time as a CNN review, reveals 450 people have been charged in connection with the insurrection. And as moderate GOP voices are increasingly becoming drowned out by the allies of former President Donald Trump, the former House Speaker Paul Ryan speaking from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the latest to insert himself into the party's civil war.
PAUL RYAN, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality or of second-rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere.
NOBLES: His effort mocked by Trump, who called Ryan a "weak and ineffective leader", who spends all of his time fighting Republicans.
While Trump cloned Matt Gaetz, arm in arm with Marjorie Taylor Greene, making it clear who runs the GOP like it or not.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): This is Donald Trump's party. Taking advice on party building from Paul Ryan would be like taking advice on how to interact with your in-laws from Meghan Markle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES (on camera): And despite the gravity of this legislation, 11 members of the Senate didn't even show up to vote. Nine Republicans and two Democrats were not here. Some of them offering up excuses for why they couldn't be here and how they might have voted.
Among them, Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey who said that he would have voted yes even though he is a republican it would not have been enough to change the outcome.
Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.
DEAN: 11 senators not there to vote. All right, Ryan, thanks so much.
Up next, another state is cracking down on voting rights. Lawmakers in Texas working through the weekend to strike a deal before a critical deadline.
DEAN: A federal judge has granted a request by federal prosecutors to appoint a special master to review the materials that were seized during the raids on Rudy Giuliani's home and office back in late April.
The judge said he was granting that request to ensure the perception of fairness in the Giuliani investigation. Prosecutors are looking into whether Giuliani violated foreign lobbying laws by operating on behalf of Ukrainian officials.
And joining us now is former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin. He's also the host of the podcast that said and is Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Department of Justice.
Michael, great to see you. Thanks for being with us.
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (on camera): Thanks, Jessica.
DEAN: Special master, walk us through what that is and what this person is going to do in this case?
ZELDIN: Right. So, a special master is appointed by the judge to essentially be the agent of the judge to do certain procedures that are necessary before a trial can be commenced.
In this case, like in the case of Michael Cohen, the special master is going to inquire of the documents and the materials seized from Giuliani to see if anything has attorney-client privilege protections. And the master will look at this, and if it is attorney-client privilege protected, it will be put to one side. If it's usable evidence, it will be given over to the court, and the prosecutors will be allowed to use it at trial.
DEAN: Right. And Giuliani has argued that the searches were problematic because of his status as a lawyer, which is kind of what we're getting at here. Why do you think the judge then denied that argument and does that go hand in hand with the fact that there's going to be somebody who can look who's kind of this impartial person that's going to look at and sort through these documents?
ZELDIN: Right. That's exactly right, Jessica. They want to make sure that there's no actual prejudice or even appearance of prejudice because Giuliani was a lawyer acting on behalf of his client and they want to make sure that there is no communications that are protected by attorney-client privilege that could somehow infect this case.
ZELDIN: And so the judge is acting prudently.
The prosecutors and defense attorneys will now submit possible names for the special master, and then that will be decided by the court.
DEAN: And what does it tell you, Michael, about the fact we're at this point in this case? What does that tell you about how this is progressing?
ZELDIN: What it tells me is that the case is moving along on the type of continuum these things normally move on.
Which is evidence is acquired, then the evidence is culled through to make sure that there's nothing in there that's prejudicial that's not supposed to be in there.
And then it goes to further stages of inquiry by the prosecutors ultimately for a decision whether to charge or not charge Giuliani or anybody else connected with this case.
DEAN: Right. So it sounds like it's progressing at what would be expected, right?
ZELDIN: Exactly, yes.
And Giuliani being investigated for possibly violating foreign lobbying rules when he tried to get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine fired and pushed for the U.S. to investigate Hunter Biden.
How difficult is it to put together this kind of case, to prosecute this kind of case?
ZELDIN: Well, so his requirement, if he's acting as a foreign agent on behalf of Ukraine, is to register that with the government that he's doing that.
So the easy part of the case is, did you register or did you not register?
ZELDIN: The harder part of the case is, were you acting as an agent of the foreign government?
So that's what the evidence has to be carefully constructed to determine.
And if it was, in the view of the prosecutors, an act that required the certification, and he didn't seek that certification, then it's a pretty straightforward case.
DEAN: Right, right.
And there were also reports this week the Manhattan district attorney could pursue racketeering charges against the Trump Organization. Obviously, a different case here.
But how likely do you think that is at this point?
ZELDIN: Well, so we've been hearing a lot of sort of rumors out of the Manhattan district attorney's office.
One, that they convened a grand jury that will last for about six months.
Two, that they've been telling witnesses they need to come in and be prepared to give evidence.
And now, three, last night, we heard that, among the considerations the U.S. attorneys -- the prosecutors are thinking about is using the Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organization, RICO, statue, which would be against the entire Trump Organization.
We don't know whether that case is true. RICO is a difficult statute. It's a bit convoluted to prove.
I would be surprised if they wanted to be a RICO charge. I would think they would want to bring the most straightforward case they can.
Remember, they're charging theoretically the former president of the United States.
So RICO gets them some things they may not be able to get if they just charged straight bank fraud or wire fraud or tax fraud. But I'd be surprised. I'd be surprised.
DEAN: I guess we will all find out.
Michael Zeldin, thank you so much for being with us.
ZELDIN: Thank you, Jessica.
DEAN: Still ahead this afternoon, a closer look at just how fractured the Republican Party has become.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: If a conservative cause depends on the populous appeal of one personality or of second-rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): We have a Second Amendment in this country. And I think we have an obligation to use it!
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): You know, Nazis were the National Socialist Party, just like the Democrats are now a nationalist --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: The GOP or the party of Trump? There's no greater snapshot of what's happening inside the Republican Party than this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: Once again, we conservatives find ourselves as a crossroads. And here's the reality that we have to face. If the conservative cause depends upon the populous appeal of one personality or of second-rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere.
GAETZ: This is Donald Trump's party! And I'm a Donald Trump Republican!
GAETZ: We're not going back to the days of the Bushes and McCains and Romneys.
GAETZ: Our way, America First, is the way forward for America!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Former House Speaker Paul Ryan pleading with Republicans to preserve the future of the party in that first clip. And embattled Congressman Matt Gaetz making it clear he believes the leader of the GOP is still the former president.
Gaetz was co-headlining an event in Georgia with fellow Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Greene has come under fire for continuing to compare Democrats to Nazis and mask wearing to the Holocaust.
But as CNN's Martin Savidge found out, her constituents are not happy with what she's been saying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marjorie Taylor Greene!
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Back home and not backing down.
GREENE: You know, Nazis were the National Socialist Party, just like the Democrats are now a national socialist party.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Following her comparison of mask mandates to the Holocaust, Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene on Thursday night turned against what she called a little group in the Democratic Party.
Singling out Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Abdullahi Omar of Minnesota.
GREENE: So we have actual United States members of Congress, the Jihad Squad. And there's a big group of them, by the way.
SAVIDGE: Until now, Marjorie Taylor Greene has been brushing off criticism from her fellow Republicans. But can she ignore her own voters?
Those we talked to wonder what was she thinking?
STEVE KARAKOS, ROME RESIDENT: The Holocaust was terrible, terrible. And why she said that, compared to that, I really don't know.
SAVIDGE: At a diner in Rome, Georgia, Wayne White says he voted for Greene but that the congresswoman's comments have gone way too far.
SAVIDGE (on camera): What do you think?
WAYNE WHITE, ROME RESIDENT: I don't think anybody should be comparing anything to the Nazis and the Holocaust. That's a different world. Just not appropriate. SAVIDGE (voice-over): White says Greene has essentially become all
talk and little action when it comes to representing the 14th District.
(on camera): Would you vote for her again?
WHITE: No, no.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Nancy Jones said she's Republican but didn't vote for Greene. She calls the congresswoman's Holocaust comparison reprehensible.
NANCY JONES, ROME RESIDENT: And I'm ashamed that that lady is representing my district in Congress.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Why do you think she did it?
JONES: I think she's ignorant. She has no clue.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Before you start thinking Greene may be in trouble at home, you need to remember how she got to Washington, earning close to 75 percent of the vote in the 14th District, one of the reddest in the state.
Former President Trump calling her a rising Republican star. And she has ridden outrage all the way to the bank, raising $3.2 million in just the first quarter of the year.
Steve Karakos doesn't like her Holocaust talk, but he still likes Greene.
SAVIDGE (on camera): This wouldn't change your vote?
KARAKOS: Probably not because of what's going on with the left. I would probably vote for her again.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Robin Deal also voted for Greene and said the congresswoman has been taken out of context.
We came prepared.
SAVIDGE (on camera): I can show you the tweet. And it's not just the tweet. There's been interviews. And maybe you've seen them.
That first line right there: "Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazi's forced Jewish people to wear a gold star."
It's actually a yellow star, but that's immaterial.
ROBIN DEAL, ROME RESIDENT: Right.
SAVIDGE: She makes a direct contrast --
DEAL: She does. SAVIDGE: -- to a horrific murderous event in history.
DEAL: Well, I don't necessarily agree with that statement. But I do agree with her right to say it.
GREENE: Thank you, Georgia.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Like many other Greene supporters, Deal was concerned I would twist her words.
SAVIDGE (on camera): To compare safety measures for the coronavirus against Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, that is wrong.
DEAL: Again, I'm not saying I agree with what she said, but I understand the emotion of what she said it with. How about that?
SAVIDGE: Would you vote for her again?
SAVIDGE: She still represents to you --
DEAL: I absolutely would. I absolutely would vote for her again. Yes, sir.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Martin Savidge, CNN, Rome, Georgia.
DEAN: Martin, thank you.
Trump's grip on the GOP also taking place in dozens of state voting laws. Fourteen states have enacted new laws, making it harder for people to vote.
Lawmakers in another 14 states are advancing similar bills, including Texas. The state legislature there just submitted its final version of a new bill a few hours ago.
CNN's Dianne Gallagher joining us now live from Austin.
Dianne, walk us through what's in this bill and what would happen.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Jessica, the final text of this bill has still not been published, even though it's been filed.
But we did obtain a final draft. We haven't had a chance to compare them.
But in that draft there are new regulations, restrictions and criminal penalties added throughout the voting process here in Texas. And it's important to point out Texas already has some of the most
restrictive voting laws in the country.
Now, some of the items in earlier versions that got a lot of attention were the idea of making all voting hours uniform.
That is seen as a target against Harris County, the most populous county where Houston is, one of the most diverse places in the United States.
This would eliminate 24-hour voting, eliminate drive-thru voting, elements that are with used to help during pandemic voting but also saw record turnout.
There would also be enhanced criminal penalties. And it would eliminate some of the tactics voting rights used to get out the vote.
Again, we're still looking at this language. There are elements in this that were not in either the House or Senate-passed versions, S.B.-7. So there will have to be additional votes taken on those.
I spoke with the author of the bill who said, you know, this is not as bad as people claim it is.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. BRYAN HUGHES (R-TX): One county chose to rewrite the law. They don't have that authority.
As far as working folks go, you probably seen the numbers. Look at why working people are voting. Look at college-age, education. All of those things are shifting. And many nontraditional Democratic voters and nontraditional Republican voters.
This doesn't target anyone. This makes the rules fair and equal for everyone across the board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: I want to be very clear voting rights groups and research on voting tendencies indicate that if you add additional barriers, if you make it harder to vote, people may not vote.
And they see that especially play out in young voters and voters of color and people who may work difficult schedules, Jessica.
Now time is running out here. They have to have this done before the legislative session ends on Monday, but the votes need to be in by Sunday night.
We could see the first votes in the Senate on this as early as today.
DEAN: Dianne Gallagher, in Austin, Texas. And also important to remember, that when we saw record number of voters and voting numbers in 2020, there was no widespread election fraud.
Thank you so much.
Coming up, disaster in the Democratic Republic of Congo. See what a volcanic eruption left behind.
DEAN: Officials say it is going to cost more than $1 billion to repair the damages from last week's volcanic eruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Thousands who evacuated returned to find their schools, homes and roads and infrastructure ruined by ash and lava.
CNN's Larry Madowo has more now from Goma.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What you see behind me is people's homes. Where we are standing used to be a family of seven, a mother and her six children. And there's nothing left of it. What is smoldering there used to be a home.
Her business, her livelihood, ever everything that she owns has been covered by this lava.
She has been back here and she is overcome with emotion. She doesn't know what to do or where to start.
But she -- her neighbor next door was luckier. That the lava took down her wall, but not the home itself. The house is intact. And it's made of wood, so it would have not offered any resistance.
And we're hearing so many stories about people and they don't know how to restart. And 80,000 people have been displaced from this, 80,000 households, 400,000 people according to the local military government here.
And the people we're speaking to, some of them tell us they don't think they will get compensation, and they just don't know where to start.
And then, on top of that, they are now being told that there is a possibility of a new eruption from under the ground of under the lake that could come with little to no warning. So they just can catch a break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Such destruction.
All right, Larry Madowo, thank you very much.
We will be right back.
DEAN: President Biden is headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma, next week to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the deadliest and most destructive race massacres in American history.
It happened on May 31st, 1931, in the thriving community of Greenwood, in the corner of north Tulsa, also known as Black Wall Street, where black business, art and culture flourished.
A new CNN film about the Tulsa massacre, "DREAMLAND," premiers Monday.
CNN's Abby Phillip looks at what's being done to compensate the massacre's few remaining survivors and other victims' descendants.
REGINA GOODWIN (D), OKLAHOMA STATE HOUSE: How long would you wait for your justice, right?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lessie Beddingfield Randle, Hughes van Ellis, Viola Ford Fletcher, these are the last three known survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.
VIOLA "MOTHER" FLETCHER, 107-YEAR-OLD SURVIVOR OF THE TULSA RACE MASSACRE: I will never forget the violence of the white mob when we left our home. I am 107-year-old and have never seen justice. I pray that one day, I will.
PHILLIP: For decades, massacre victims and their descendants have called for reparations. But now, with Democrats in power in Washington, the issue is being seriously debated and studied.
REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): The victims of this atrocity have been denied justice for far too long.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: There's only one reason why descendants of the Tulsa massacre have not been compensated. And that reason is racism.
PHILLIP: Today, this mural and half a city block are all that is left of Greenwood, also known as Black Wall Street.
One-hundred years ago, it was a vibrant city within a city where black businesses, entrepreneurs, art and culture thrived.
In 18 hours, it was destroyed and burned to the ground by a racist mob. Historians believe, as many as 300 black residents were killed.
(on-camera): What do reparations mean to you?
DAMARIO SOLOMON-SIMMONS, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING TULSA RACE MASSACRE SURVIVORS: Well reparations, what it means, the root word is to repair. We must have financial compensation to those who suffered the massacre.
PHILLIP (voice-over): With the eyes of the world now trained on Tulsa, Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons is fighting back, suing the city for restitution and calling for the Massacre Centennial Commission to give back to the victims some of what has been raised.
SOLOMON-SIMMONS: Now people are really starting to understand, you know, what happened in Tulsa and the magnitude of the devastation and destruction.
PHILLIP: Today, white-owned businesses and corporations are rapidly developing land in Greenwood as black businesses see their presence dwindling through gentrification.
Across the country, reparations have taken different forms.
In Evanston, Illinois, the city will distribute $10 million to black residents as reparations for discriminatory policies from the 1920s to the late '60s.
And in California, the state may return millions of beachfront property taken from a black family in the 1920s.
But here in Tulsa, there has been far more resistance from elected officials, including the Mayor G.T. Bynum.
MAYOR G.T. BYNUM (R-TULSA): Getting into trying to make cash payments to people, it divides the community on something that we really need to be united around.
GOODWIN: I disagree. And again, what is divisive is when we're not willing to talk about the truth, or we're not willing to talk about the harm done.
What I am saying is, even as a descendant, let's take care of the survivors right now that are in our face. And let's take care of them.
PHILLIP (on camera): Many black Tulsans that we spoke to said that reparations should not be just about paying money to the victims of the massacre, but also about rectifying the long-term harms caused by it and the decades of systemic racism that followed.
Abby Phillip, CNN, Washington.
DEAN: Thank you, Abby.
And be sure to tune in. The all-new CNN film, "DREAMLAND, THE BURNING OF BLACK WALL STREET," premieres Monday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.
Thanks so much for joining me today. I'm Jessica Dean.
CNN NEWSROOM continues now.