Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Biden Slams Texas Voting Bill Pushed By GOP; Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) Is Interviewed About GOP "Betrayal" Over January 6 Commission; Millions On The Move As Mask Mandates Ease And Cases Fall; How To Enjoy The Holiday Safely As More People Are Out For The Holiday; Growing Concerns Over Surging In-Flight Fights And Violence. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 29, 2021 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:12]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Biden is now weighing in on a restrictive Texas voting bill, calling it part of an assault on democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This draft essentially changes elections from top to bottom here in Texas, by adding new requirements, new restrictions, and new criminal and civil penalties to the voting process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to get some normalcy back. People get to traveling. I know people are being crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The unofficial start of summer, ready to go wild and make up for lost time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had some friends that traveled a couple weeks ago, and they said, hey, Rick, it was okay to go, and I sure jumped on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, come on, come on. Pull, pull, pull, pull.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once I smashed the windows is when I saw him having a seizure. That's when realized okay, he's not going to be able to get out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday.

An assault on democracy, that is what President Biden is calling a new Texas voting bill that state Republicans are rushing to pass this weekend with the deadline looming.

Let's get right to Dianne Gallagher live in Austin, Texas, and Arlette Saenz in Delaware for more on this.

Arlette, what more can you tell us about the president's reaction to this bill?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, President Biden was quite forceful in condemning this voting bill down in the state of Texas that's being pushed by that Republican-led state legislature. The president a short while ago in a statement said that the bill is part of an assault on democracy that we have seen far too often this year, and often just disproportionately targeting black and brown Americans. It's wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should by making it easier, not harder for every eligible voter to vote.

Now, these sentiments are similar to what President Biden has expressed to other voting restriction laws that had been placed in the country. Earlier in the year, he called a Georgia state law Jim Crow in the 21st century. And the president, in order to counteract some of these laws that these Republican-led state legislatures are trying to enact, the president is urging Congress to pass two bills, the For the People Act, and also the John Lewis voting advancements act as well.

Now, those legislative proposals face an uphill climb up on Capitol Hill, as they would need 60 votes in order to pass that filibuster in the Senate. At the time it does not seem there would be enough Republicans or Democrats on board, but the president has insisted that protecting voting rights and enhancing voting rights is one of the key priorities of his administration. But he will need Congress to act in order to make that happen, as there's very little he can do on the executive level to impact voting rights long term.

BROWN: And, Arlette, Texas Democrats have asked DOJ to step in. Do we know if there was any movement on that front?

SAENZ: Well, so far, we have not heard any reaction from the Department of Justice relating to that request from Texas Democrats. But in the past, the president has suggested that the Justice Department would be looking at ways to address voting rights sand voting access. But really what he is pushing for is for Congress to act, to make some of these laws more permanent in order to ensure those voting rights are being protected.

BROWN: Dianne, I want to bring you in. If you would walk us through what is in this Texas bill as it stands now?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, Pamela, the actual final legislative text has not been published at this point, but CNN did obtain a final draft that has the expected language of Senate bill 7 in it. And, look, it adds a whole host of restrictions and regulation as well as criminal and civil penalties to the voting process.

We're talking about everybody affected here, voters, election officials, volunteers, and those get out the vote voting rights groups. Now, just to kind of give you an overview of what's in this 67-page draft, there are though headline-making changes from the earlier versions of the bill that would do things like eliminate 24- hour and drive-thru voting, that was used to much success to a great turnout in 2020 in Harris County, Texas, one of the most diverse counties in the entire country.

It also limits hours of early voting. Now, in some cases in some counties that may mean there's actually more access to early voting, but in the larger more diverse counties, it will eliminate extensions because it only allows them from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

[17:05:04]

And the key here is something that's new in this, it starts early voting on Sundays at 1:00 p.m., and lets get it go through 9:00, something Democrats and voting rights group are concerned that might affect the souls to the polls from African-American and Latino community organizations.

Now, there's also elements to this that would add criminal penalties like making it a crime for a public official to send an absentee application if it's not requested. And something that's interesting is that something we've seen in other states be introduced, especially after the success of Democrats like President Joe Biden and in other states with mail-in ballots during the pandemic.

Now, in speaking with a Republican author of this bill, he tells me nothing to do with 2020, and everything to do with their desire to secure the ballot. But again there is no demonstrable fraud. Even when asked about it, the governor has said they didn't find any in 2020. Pam, they have until midnight Sunday for both the House and the Senate to pass this. The governor has indicated he will sign it if they do.

BROWN: And I think that is key what you pointed out there, Dianne, that they haven't provided any evidence to support passing all of these restrictions in this bill.

Dianne Gallagher live for us in Texas, Arlette Saenz, thank you so much, ladies.

And now, let's bring in CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser, and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Great to see you both.

I want to just have a broader conversation of what it means for this country. We see it happening in Texas. We've seen this happening in other states so far. It could happen in other states that have voting restrictions in the works.

Ron, this isn't parties diverging over policy issues. This is one party, let us by clear, Republicans fighting against imaginary fantasies about the election being stolen and trying to systematically dismantle the foundation of our, while the other party, Democrats, insists that norms and rules will ultimately prevail.

Do you view this as an asymmetric fight?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I mean, look, this is -- I think there are many scholars on the field of voting rights, democracy, election reform, who believe this is the biggest threat to small-D democracy until we have seen in the civil war and maybe at any point in American history.

If you look at all the dimensions of what's happening, this proliferation of laws that is cascading through red states, making it more difficult to vote. The primary challenge is there are emerging Republicans who certify that Joe Biden's win in 2000 (ph), the audits in Georgia and Arizona, the refusal of Republicans in Congress to allow in the Senate, to allow a January 6 commission to go forward, and the uniform opposition of Republicans to the efforts by Democrats to set a nationwide floor of voting rights.

Of course all of this on top of what made all of this possible was a 5-4 party line Supreme Court decision in 2013 eviscerating the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby County decision. And so, yes, I mean, I think what you are seeing is that for a significant share of the Republican coalition, the fear of demographic eclipse is eroding the baseline commitment to democracy.

We don't fully have a language for understanding what that, what kind of means in American politics. It's more like what we see in parties like Poland, Turkey or Hungary who win an election and then used the tools of the state to try to make it difficult for the other side to ever win again.

And there is -- as I wrote this week in "The Atlantic", a lot of debate among the groups concerned about this whether President Biden himself and Senate Democratic leaders are showing enough urgency about what's happening.

BROWN: In light of what you just said, do you see them abusing the system given to them by the Constitution, by democracy, right? I mean, that's essentially what's playing out.

BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. I mean, look, what -- you know, people describe, you know, they kind of authoritarian parties in places like Turkey or Hungary or Poland that achieve power through the system, and then try to tilt the rules that will prevent the other side from winning again.

And, you know, I think there's a sense of enormous urgency among groups, voting rights groups, election reform groups, civil rights groups that we are seeing is something akin to that, not only the attempt to tilt the playing field in '22 and 2024, but also the risk that Republicans official will refuse to certify clear Democratic victories, especially in the 2024 presidential election.

If Republicans win the House and/or the Senate in 2022, a greater risk of that as well. And again, the Democratic response is this comprehensive election reform bill known as HR-1, it passed the Senate. It has support from -- the House, excuse me.

It has support of 49 Democrats in the Senate, but does the have the support of Joe Manchin at this point. And even if he did support it, he and Kyrsten Sinema and some others are refusing at this moment to consider exempting it from the filibuster which we know is certain from Republicans to try to -- to try to block it.

[17:10:10] So this is a really fraught moment, because there are a lot of people who believe that if Democrats don't use their power that they have now to set a nationwide floor of voting rights before 2022, they will lose at least one chamber and then there will be nothing in the way of allowing Republican red states to go further and further in ratcheting back the right to vote, particularly affecting the growing diverse populations in the Sunbelt states.

BROWN: Susan, I've got to bring you in this. We've written extensively about this issue. What do you think needs to be done at this point to prevent the deterioration of democracy?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, one of the issues is we're confronted again and again with what previously were unthinkable actions. And so, part of the problem is to even understand what we're dealing with.

That's where I do agree with Ron, what we are looking at right now does appear to be the pretty systematic use of the tools of democracy, using control of various institutions of democratic governance in states across like Georgia, Florida and Texas, in order to impose anti-democratic measures, essentially to restricts access to democracy, so using the tools of democracy against itself.

And that I think is a modern version of, you know, electoral authoritarianism, which is the kind of system that's evolved in places like Hungary or Poland, or Turkey as Ron pointed out. And so, I think there's a through line here, if you look at this vote this week against having even a January 6 investigative commission in Congress, even after it was attack, even then, Republicans wouldn't go for it.

What are you hearing as a result of that, I think it's buying into the Trumpian big lie about the election. In Texas, it's an absurd statement to say, well, we're going to attraction fraud in our voting system that does not exist. Why is this happening? Because Donald Trump has perpetuated a big lie about the election and that fact that there was widespread fraud.

And so, even Republicans who claim that they're not endorsing Trump's views on the 2020 election, what are they doing? They're organizing in a systematic way to eliminate the possibility of voting on the basis of nonexistent fraud claims.

BROWN: Yeah. That's -- and the bottom line is, to within do you do that and infringe on the constitutional right to vote? I mean, that is -- that is the question. When fraud is vanishingly rare, and they make the argument that, well, it's -- there could be fraud you don't see, but look, we have a system in place, checks and balances, a robust system to catch any cases of fraud. They are prosecuted. They are looked at closely.

And when you look at the numbers, it is statistically insignificant. And that is the bottom line. And the bottom line is, you have a constitutional right to vote, and in states like Texas, they are making it harder for eligible voters to cast their ballots. That's the bottom line. Susan Glasser, Ron Brownstein, thanks so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

BROWN: In San Antonio, Texas, no something no one wants to see. Cars at a standstill. Twenty people have now been rescued after getting stranded aboard a coaster, at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. No joke, the name of this ride is Poltergeist. Oh, my gosh.

It reportedly stopped coasting a little before noon, leaving rioters struck on the tracks. The San Antonio Fire Department got everyone down safely, whoa, no reports of any injuries. Everyone was upright and had water during the rescue process.

A spokesman says the ride will remain closed until a complete inspection. Perhaps they should rename that rollercoaster ride from Poltergeist to something else, man.

And coming up this hour, a logistical nightmare, tens of thousands of athletes are about to arrive in Tokyo for the Olympics, but organizers still don't know about spectators.

And then President Biden heads to Oklahoma to mark a century since the Tulsa massacre. That shameful event was practically scrubbed from the history books, until now.

But, first, Democrats are ready to take matters into their hands after Senate Republicans block a bipartisan investigation into the Capitol riot. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal calls it a betrayal and he joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:18:49]

BROWN: Senate Republicans may have blocked the formation of an independent commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection, but Democrats are likely to take matter into their own hands in a bid to dig deeper on the Capitol riot and just how the big lie morphed into a deadly siege.

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut was one of many Democrats calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to appoint a select committee.

Welcome, Senator. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Thank you so much for having me, Pamela.

BROWN: Help us understand, what do we lose by Congress's failure to appoint an independent commission? Could a select committee have the same impact and answer the same questions we all have about what led to the insurrection as this commission could have?

BLUMENTHAL: Really important question, because after every one of our national tragedies, there has been this kind of commission, whether it's 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination, independent, nonpartisan, staffed by experts.

The Republicans by their obstructionism are trying to kill this commission, leaving us no choice but a select committee. I believe we should move forward if they persist in intransigence, we have the option as well to have another vote on the January 6th commission.

[17:20:10]

But we need a full accounting. We need the truth.

Republicans politically fear the truth or their fidelity to Donald Trump is preventing them from going along with it, but right now, it's not about a past president or a future election, it is about white supremacy and violent extremism which represent a continued threat to our democracy. Republicans are making us less safe.

BROWN: And, as you know, if there is a select committee, Republicans will just say, oh, well, this is just partisan. This is run by Democrats.

Do you think that Nancy Pelosi should go out of her way to make sure that Republicans, like Congressman Katko, who negotiated a commission deal initially, will be on this -- should be on this select committee?

BLUMENTHAL: This bipartisan compromise, the January 6 commission, was indeed a negotiated result. And so, I think including those Republicans who voted for it in the House, maybe some from the Senate who supported it, would be advisable. But the priority has to be to uncover the truth and make recommendations that will make us safer against white supremacy and violent extremism, and to make sure that we protect our democratic institutions from another violent attack.

I lived through it. So did we all. The horror has dissipated. But listen to Gladys Sicknick, who said that opponents should go to her son's grave. This vote was a slap in the face to law enforcement.

I hope my Republican colleagues will talk to those law enforcement officers when they return home or the Capitol police who guard us every day and who put their lives on the line.

BROWN: On the same day this commission was blocked by Republicans, you have GOP Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona tweeting about Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt. She was shot and killed by police in the confrontation. He quotes lyrics from a U2 song about Martin Luther King, saying, they took her life, they could not take her pride, one more than -- one more than of love.

Your reaction to this?

BLUMENTHAL: That death which also was tragic is one more reason to have a nonpartisan independent commission that will uncover all of truth and proceed in a very probative, piercing, bipartisan way. Republicans are leaving us no choice but a select committee.

Our preference continues to be an independent commission that will look at all the deaths, all of the hundreds of injuries, the horror of that day when we were taken to a safe place. Now, thinking back, I am just incredulous that my Republican colleagues despicably voted against this kind of commission.

And I join in Gladys Sicknick's recommendations, my Republican colleagues ought to visit his son's grave.

BROWN: I should correct myself, #onemoreinthenameoflove is what that tweet said.

Let me also ask you what the Justice Department has found. It charged at least 450 people in connection with the insurrection. According to a CNN review, at least 10 percent of those defendants have ties to the U.S. military. Government statistics say people linked to the military only make up about 6 percent of the total U.S. adult population.

How disturbing is this in your view? And what should be done about this?

BLUMENTHAL: Very troubling. I've asked some of our top military leaders, including the secretary of defense, about potential involvement of active duty military in the insurrection, but also in white supremacy and violent extremism. And he has promised that not only will he look into this issue, but also that they will take steps to eliminate white supremacy and violent extremism in the military.

It probably is only the tiniest fraction of our active duty service members. They are dedicated to keeping us safe and they have served and sacrificed. I deeply respect their patriotism, but this tiny fraction, however many it is, has to be identified and rooted out of the military. And I have emphasized repeatedly, privately and publicly, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, how vital the trust and credibility of our military depends on rooting out this problem.

[17:25:04]

And I believe that we'll continue the effort, putting pressure on our military to eliminate even the tiniest fraction of racism, white supremacy, violent extremism, or other kinds of for potential dangers to our democracy.

BROWN: Let me ask you before you let you go, while we're on the subject. Senator Joe Manchin is still opposed to eliminating the filibusters even after this commission bill failed. Of course, he supported the commission bill.

What is your message to Senator Manchin? What is your view of this, how he's handling all of this?

BLUMENTHAL: Pamela, I have stated repeatedly, literally for ten years that I've been in the Senate that I advocate abolishing the filibuster or drastically reforming it. Senator Manchin is a friend but he disagreed.

I hope that this latest vote will help persuade him that we need to change a broken system. But let's be clear about why the system is broken -- Republican obstructionism. We negotiated this January 6th commission modeling after every one of commissions established in the past under similar circumstances to make America safer. We negotiated on a bipartisan way the United States Innovation and Technology Act that now they have chosen to delay again.

We have tried bipartisanship, and, unfortunately, Republican intransigence may leave us no other choice. It takes only 51 votes to seat a Supreme Court justice for life. It takes 60 to establish a commission that will make America safer by protecting our democratic institutions against white supremacy and violent extremism.

There is something deeply wrong with this system. I hope that Senator Manchin will be persuaded to join us in abolishing the filibuster.

BROWN: All right. We'll leave it there. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, again, thank you so much for your time tonight and for sharing your perspective.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, this holiday weekend is the first in more than a year without mask mandates. Across the country, Americans are on the move. We are live coast to coast, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:31:43]

BROWN: Turning now to the unofficial start to a summer unlike any other. This Memorial Day weekend is the first maskless holiday since the pandemic began for millions of people.

And it's the first since the CDC said no masks are needed indoors for the fully vaccinated.

Now Americans are coming out in unprecedented numbers. The TSA says nearly two million passengers traveled though airports Friday. That broke a pandemic-era record.

And AAA forecasts 37 million people are hitting the road, up 60 percent from last year.

The CDC says half the nation has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine.

All of it is making many people feel like the country is taking one giant step toward the pre-pandemic life we all miss.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone's really excited to get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just excited to be able to do more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More summer than last summer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Summer fun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to be great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: We have this extraordinary summer kickoff covered from coast to coast. CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Santa Monica, California.

I'm going to begin with CNN's Natasha Chen in Miami Beach, Florida.

Natasha, Miami Beach saw enormous crowds during spring break. What is it like today?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, the crowds have been growing since then. In fact, the mayor of Miami Beach said the volume of people coming here is unprecedented.

And that for a city like Miami Beach, that's used to seeing a lot of visitors, that's a big deal to say that.

We actually saw a lot of that crowd last night out on the streets, parting, creating such a traffic gridlock that, when we were trying to drive just a few blocks, one street away from us, it took about an hour to do that.

We could see and feel and hear the energy from people really so eager to come out, saying COVID restrictions are pretty much done and a lot of them vaccinated.

Here's one person we met traveling here from Brooklyn, New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRYANN MCGREGORY, VISITING MIAMI BEACH FROM BROOKLYN: A whole year of staying indoors, and now you come outside and everybody is out, riding their bikes, jogging, exercising, partying.

So I love it. I love the music. I love the energy. I love the vibes. It's great.

Like, everywhere I go, like masks, nobody really -- if you want to. It's like if you want to. But nobody is saying anything.

Even though, in front of the restaurants, it says -- or any other stores, it says mask mandatory, people are like if feel like wearing it.

If they don't, nobody is looking at you funny, you know, giving you the eye. It's OK now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: It's definitely a different world, even compared to a couple months ago when masks were required indoors in many businesses. Some of these loosening that restriction now.

The mayor of Miami Beach tells us his local residents aged 12 and older, about 70 percent to 80 percent are fully vaccinated.

But it's hard to tell what's going on with the status of all these people flocking to their city. So he's still a bit concerned there. He says the virus is still here.

Hoping that everyone really stays safe as they enjoy themselves this holiday weekend -- Pamela?

BROWN: Certainly, Miami Beach is better positioned now versus spring break when we saw all of those crowds there gathering.

From Florida to California.

Paul, how is Santa Monica looking this big holiday weekend?

[17:35:01]

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're looking phenomenal. Look right over here.

David, you can go ahead and pan.

You can see a roller coaster is ready to start up. This is the Santa Monica Fear. At one point, it was completely locked down.

What the movement of this roller coaster symbolizes is a return to the economy of Santa Monica, which is based on tourism. They lost so much of their tax revenue, which is hitched to tourism during the lockdown.

And now, as we see, all of these people back on the beach.

The mayor says it's not just more about dollars and cents. She says this is good for people's moods.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR SUE HIMMELRICH (D), SANTA MONICA: After the very dark year we've all lived through. And I personally have lost three people in my family in the last eight months.

I understand what a relief it is to people who have been living under the shadow, to come to the beach in the sun, in the water, on the sand, play with their families, and go to the pier, and actually have some relief from the depression that everybody is suffering.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: So there they are, bathing in the Pacific Ocean, dealing with everything, including getting rid of whatever bad feelings were there.

And by the way, the reason you're not seeing more people in the water is the temperature is 61 degrees -- Pam?

BROWN: OK. That explains it. All right.

Paul Vercammen, live for us in California and Natasha Chen in Miami Beach, thank you both.

Well, as concerns grow and cases spike across Japan, the International Olympic Committee is pressing ahead anyway with the games this summer.

Long time Olympics broadcaster and CNN contributor, Bob Costas, disagrees with that decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It should be postponed, not canceled.

BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER": Right.

COSTAS: If they postponed to the summer of 2022, as a one-off, it would go back to the way it was in the '90s, which was that the winter and summer games took place every four years in the same calendar year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So everyone is out and about this weekend. How do you enjoy the holiday safely? That's a big question a lot of families have on their minds. Dr. Leana Wen is standing by to answer that.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:41:19]

BROWN: With so many people out and traveling this holiday weekend and knowing the pandemic isn't over, we wanted to find out Memorial Day activities that are safe to do. And what might be more risky, particularly if you're out with your family and some of them aren't vaccinated.

CNN medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen, joins me now.

Good to see you, Doctor.

You wrote in "The Washington Post," that despite all of the reason for optimism, COVID is still a real concern for many people.

Who is most at risk right now, in your view?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, we know who is not at risk. Those are the people who are fully vaccinated and are generally healthy.

If you're vaccinate but severely immunocompromised, you are still potentially at risk. But almost everyone fully vaccinated should feel very well protected.

Those who remain at risk are those that are unvaccinated, including children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, as well as adults who have just not been vaccinated yet. Their risk, according to a "Washington Post" analysis, is similar to

their risk in the middle of the height of the surge in January.

So they should really still take precautions, including mask wearing, distancing and avoiding crowded indoor gatherings.

BROWN: Why is the risk so high if so many people are now vaccinated?

WEN: Well, we do have, thankfully, at this point, 40 percent of the country that's fully vaccinated. And 50 percent of the country that's received at least one dose of the vaccine.

But that means that half of the country has not seen a drop of the vaccine yesterday.

Another way to think of it is, yes, we do have cases dropping exponentially, which is fantastic. I think we have a much better summer ahead of us.

But that also means the virus has fewer place to say go. So those people who are unvaccinated are still at high risk.

We do have more transmissible variants. And unfortunately, those individuals who don't have immunity are not protected from these variants that can wreak a lot of havoc.

BROWN: A lot of families are eager to see one another again. I saw mine recently. It was just so wonderful.

Is it safe to get together indoors if everyone is vaccinated? And what about if some family members are vaccinated and others aren't?

WEN: Well, if everyone is fully vaccinated, it is safe to see everyone indoors, with hugs, no masks or distancing. Everyone can have meals together. It will be pre-pandemic normal.

If there's pandemic members from one household unvaccinated, but everyone else is fully vaccinated, that's also fine.

The concern is when you have multiple households mixing, where they are people from multiple households that are unvaccinated. They are a risk to one another.

If that's the situation, if there's an extended family, and maybe there are four households all with young kids or others who are not vaccinated, they should still see each other outdoors as much as possible.

BROWN: OK, Dr. Leana Wen, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

WEN: Thank you.

[17:44:15]

And up next, President Biden plans to visit Oklahoma to commemorate 100 years since the Tulsa race massacre. That shameful event was practically scrubbed from the history books until now. More on that, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: On Tuesday, President Biden will travel to Oklahoma to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre. It was one of the deadliest, most destructive, and most ignored race crimes in American history.

It happened in Greenwood, a corner of north Tulsa, known as Black Wall Street, because black businesses, art, and culture flourished there.

The new CNN film, "DREAMLAND: THE BURNING OF BLACK WALL STREET," looks at what really happened in Greenwood that day.

Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR G.T. BYNUM (R), TULSA: My name is G.T, Bynum. I'm the mayor of Tulsa. I grew up here in Tulsa. My family has been here since the 1870s. My great, great grandfather was the second mayor of Tulsa.

I heard about the massacre in 2001 or '02 and I was 24 years old at this point. Every high school student in Oklahoma has to go through an Oklahoma history course. Never came up.

[17:50:08]

My dad had been president of the Tulsa Historical Society. Never came up.

Hearing about that, it was shocking to me, because I love Tulsa. I couldn't believe that Tulsa would be the kind of city where something like that could happen.

We have Tulsans, of an undetermined number, who was murdered in this event. And so we have a responsibility, I think, as a city, to try to find out where their remains are and what happened to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: You can watch "DREAMLAND: THE BURNING OF BLACK WALL STREET" Monday at 9:00 p.m.

Well, as more people start flying again, the number of unruly passengers on planes is also increasing.

Just this week, Southwest Airlines says it is permanently banning the woman accused of a violent assault on a flight from Sacramento to San Diego.

As CNN's Pete Muntean explains, it's part of a disturbing trend of increasing violence in the skies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SHOUTING)

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The newest problem facing pent-up demand for travel is pent-up frustrations in the sky, with federal agencies citing a serious surge of in-flight fights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you serious?

MUNTEAN: In a new letter, Southwest Airlines flight attendants say unruly passenger incidents are becoming intolerable and more aggressive.

These images are from a Southwest flight on Sunday, when a flight attendant had two teeth knocked out by a passenger, according to their union.

LYN MONTGOMERY, PRESIDENT, TWU LOCAL UNION 556: They seem to be almost angry before they step onboard the aircraft. And they are verbally attacking flight attendants, calling them names, pulling on their lanyards, getting aggressive. We've had to deal with almost riot-like incidences.

MUNTEAN: Even if you are fully vaccinated, masks are still required on all public forms of transportation and in terminals by the TSA. It is now investigating 1,300 cases of people violating that mandate.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it has received 2,500 reports of unruly passengers just this year, 1,900 of them about mask compliance.

UNIDENTIFIED JETBLUE CREW MEMBER: Started antagonizing other passengers.

MUNTEAN: A crew member on this JetBlue flight says an unruly passenger cut this coast-to-coast trip short, causing it to land in Minneapolis.

UNIDENTIFIED JETBLUE CREW MEMBER: Gesturing, stabbing motions towards the other passenger. And there was also observed erratic behavior and snorting a white substance.

(CROSSTALK)

DARBY LAJOYE, ACTING TSA ADMINISTRATOR: We want to be clear that anyone causing a disturbance onboard an aircraft or within the airport environment will be punished with fines and possible criminal charges.

MUNTEAN: Even still, health officials are telling fully vaccinated Americans to enjoy Memorial Day.

AAA says the rush to return to travel is on, with 37 million people headed out this holiday weekend, only a 13 percent drop compared to 2019.

Airports that were a ghost town last year are now filling up. TSA figures show air travel has already hit 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, compared to 13 percent a year ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been a stressful year and I'm just going to go by myself and have some fun in the Bahamas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It can be a little crowded but I feel pretty safe. I've got my vaccine and my mask, hand sanitizer. So should be good to go.

MUNTEAN: The latest forecast from the U.S. Travel Association says 77 percent of Americans will take at least one trip this summer, up from 29 percent last year.

But flight crews hope, with people rushing to return to normal, this does not become the new normal.

(SHOUTING)

SARA NELSON, INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: These actions onboard the aircraft, what may start out as little actions, can become really big problems really quickly.

And we're stuck in a metal tube, where we can't call for help or people cannot walk away. So we've all got to treat each other with respect.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Southwest Airlines is telling its workers that the flight attendant who was assaulted on Sunday is receiving ongoing care.

But in a new memo obtained by CNN, Southwest says it's not releasing any more information until it is done gathering its own details.

Southwest says it's received hundreds of reports of unruly passengers on its flights and it has a zero-tolerance policy.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Reagan National Airport.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Our thanks to Pete.

Well, the Duchess of Cambridge has joined the millions of Britons who have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

She posted a photo of herself getting the shot yesterday, you can see right here, along with a heartfelt message for British health workers.

Saying, "I'm hugely grateful for everyone who played a role in the rollout. Thank you for what you are doing."

Her husband, Prince William, announced he has received a first dose of the vaccine, as well.

[17:54:56]

And some sad news tonight. We have learned that actor, Gavin Macleod, best known as Captain Stubing on "The Love Boat" and as Murray Slaughter on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show," has died. In the next hour of NEWSROOM, I'll talk to Ed Asner about his friend, Gavin Macleod. He was 90 years old.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)