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Two Killed, At Least 20 Wounded In Mass Shooting In Florida; Americans Celebrate Holiday As Vaccination Rates Rise; Israeli Right- Wing Leader Says New Unity Coalition Will Oust Netanyahu; Interview With Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA). Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 30, 2021 - 15:00   ET


JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: In a touching tweet, fellow "Mary Tyler Moore" alum, Ed Asner wrote: "My heart is broken. Gavin was my partner, my brother, my partner in crime and food and my comic conspirator. I will see you in a bit, Gavin. Tell the gang, I will see them in a bit. Betty, it's just you and me now."

Of course, Betty White he is talking about there. He told CNN last night what it was like to work with McLeod.


ED ASNER, ACTOR: He was just the best of guys. He was the best friend you could find the best pal. He was a rock. He was a mainstay. We leaned on him.


DEAN: Gavin MacLeod was 90 years old.

Good afternoon, everyone, and thanks for joining me today. I'm Jessica Dean, in this weekend for Fredricka Whitfield.

And yet again, we are talking about another senseless mass shooting in America. This one in Miami Dade County, Florida making for a tragic Memorial Day weekend. Right now, police are searching for three gunmen who opened fire last night at a concert outside. Authorities say two people were killed, dozens more wounded. This marks the 237th mass shooting in America just this year.

Natasha Chen is on the scene now in Miami Dade County and Natasha, what are you learning this afternoon?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jessica, just now, the family of someone who died on scene has just arrived. They claim that one of the people who died overnight is their son. And so it's a very emotional scene right now and it is unfortunately one that is all too familiar as you just said with the amount of violence we've seen over the past months and years.

This particular person said that his son was in his 20s. He is very emotional right now trying to speak to the cameras and to the law enforcement investigators here saying that, you know, they killed the wrong person. Just very heartbreaking to listen to and the victim's mother seems to be very upset as well.

Just to reset and tell people what we know happened here overnight, between midnight and 1:00 a.m., Miami Dade Police tell us that a white Nissan Pathfinder rolled up in the strip mall sort of right outside an establishment that is advertised as a billiards club, a private lounge, there was apparently a private show going on and three people stepped out of that car with assault rifles and handguns and started shooting indiscriminately into the crowd, killing two people and police say injuring at least 20 others who were brought to area hospitals.

Right now, they are still searching for the suspect. If you can hear the yelling behind me, that is the man who says that he is one of the victim's son. So it is just a very difficult, heartbreaking scene as you can imagine with family members and investigators trying to figure out what exactly happened.

On scene here, we've been seeing investigators really comb through the entire parking lot area with a lot of markings on the ground where there have been shell casings, they brought canines out here. They've been looking at some of the parked vehicles in the last four hours, and we have seen through aerial footage from our affiliate local station here what seems to be two people covered on the ground.

So Jessica, there's a lot still -- a lot of questions still to be answered that we're working on and hoping to talk to some more people who might know what happened overnight.

DEAN: Certainly. We can certainly hear the emotion in that man's voice. Natasha Chen live for us in Miami Dade County. Thanks so much.

Entrepreneur and host of the TV show, "The Prophet," Marcus Lemonis is from Miami Dade County and he is now offering $100,000.00 in reward money for anything that helps track down those three gunmen. And he joins us now from Miami.

Marcus, great to have you on. Thanks so much for being here. We just had the latest there from the scene. Obviously you have personal ties to that area. Tell us -- walk us through what made you want to offer this reward?

MARCUS LEMONIS, CEO, CAMPING WORLD: Well, I think first of all, I'm not a parent. So I can't even imagine what it would be like to have to drive up to a scene where you've lost a child. And obviously, this is probably the most terrible of all things that one could imagine.

I think for me being from South Florida when I saw the news this morning upon waking up, it is startling for me. I've done business in Miami. I do business in Miami today and whether it's Hialeah or down south, you understand the streets and the neighborhoods very well.

And I don't want to ever make this a political thing and I don't ever want to make it a gun control issue. What I do want to make it is a solution issue and we know that we need to find a way to eradicate these problems and there is no simple solution. And my $100,000.00 is nothing more than an attempt to create awareness around this particular issue in trying to find and solve this case.


DEAN: Right. And I know you talk about that area being close to your heart. We heard from Natasha earlier in the last hour that local officials are concerned about kind of this violence that they're seeing as summer ramps up and more and more people are out, bigger crowds. What has it been like for you seeing this tragedy play out there and kind of seeing, you know, again, more crowds and the potential for violence as the summer goes on?

LEMONIS: Well, I do worry about that. I worry about it whether it's summer or the middle of winter. I think the reality of it is, is that across this country, people are starting to gather again, and we don't want them to go out, feel susceptible to crimes like this.

People are out having a nice time after being, you know, cooped up for 12 to 15 months from the pandemic. And, you know, there's a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm in a positive way. And unfortunately, there's a lot of energy in a negative way, and so I am concerned about it.

I don't think that there's a simple solution here, as I said earlier, and I just want to try to do my part. It's that simple.

DEAN: Right. Well, and you offered $250,000.00, for help solving the Christmas Day bombing that happened in Nashville at the end of last year. You've also offered a $50,000.00 match to one of our colleague's nonprofits in honor of his daughter, Francesca, nicknamed "Beans" who died from brain cancer for their raising money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

What makes you keep doing this? Because obviously, this is something you continue to do. What makes you keep doing this? And would you like to see other business leaders like yourself doing something similar?

LEMONIS: Look, I think it's a responsibility of business owners. We have too many leaders of companies, owners and CEOs who, unfortunately enrich themselves and forget that there's the back half of that which is counting your blessings and giving back to people and in South Florida, I am who I am today, largely because of what I experienced growing up in Miami, have made me who I am.

And whether it's Nashville or Miami or a child with cancer, I think at the end of the day, I realize that I'm very blessed. And what else am I going to do with money? I mean, we don't need more things. We need to solve things for other people. It is that simple for me.

DEAN: All right. Well, that's it. That sounds pretty distilled right there. Thanks so much. Marcus Lemonis, we appreciate you making time.

LEMONIS: Thank you.

DEAN: And right now, across much of the country, Americans are marking Memorial Day weekend in a way they did not during the height of the pandemic last year. This year, people are packing beaches and parks. The Indy 500 is

underway with thousands in attendance and hundreds of bikers are paying tribute to our nation's veterans at the Rolling to Remember Ride in Washington, D.C.

When you look at the number of daily coronavirus cases now, they are similar to the number at the end of last May, but the difference now and this is a big one, of course, vaccines.

Last Memorial Day weekend, an effective vaccine for COVID-19 didn't exist yet. And this year, we have three of them. More than half of U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated. CNN's Paul Vercammen is in Los Angeles and Paul, Americans are not trying to stay put this holiday weekend. It seems like millions of Americans are on the move either locally or traveling either by car or on a plane.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, definitely, and a lot of them here in Los Angeles have come here to Echo Park and you look behind me, you can see the fountain which is a landmark in town and the swan boats and people are fishing again.

And Jessica, you were talking about the positivity rate and vaccines. Well here in Los Angeles County, we have an extremely low positivity rate and we also have a situation when there's only 273 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in a county of 10 million.

A rosy picture indeed, but this Memorial Day weekend, we have to talk about gas prices in California. They are horrendous. We have that gas tax that's around 53 cents a gallon. We have an average price that's around $4.22 a gallon and we talked to one man who was gassing up his Silverado truck large tank, but he says at times it costs him $100.00 to fill her up.


JUAN CRUZ, FRUSTRATED WITH GAS PRICES: It is also being about almost trying to dodge -- it is hard, especially right now that there's not many jobs. And you know, we're in a bad situation economy-wise. I feel like it's too overpriced.


VERCAMMEN: And for that reason, some people shortening their driving trips over Memorial weekend and many just walking on over here to Echo Park. By the way, this park underwent $600,000.00 worth of cleanup and reservations and also in Los Angeles tomorrow, they are going to reopen the LA River recreation areas.

Back to you now, Jessica.

DEAN: All right, slowly opening back up. Paul Vercammen in Los Angeles for us. Thanks so much.

And coming up, Israel maybe on the verge of a power shift: what this means for Benjamin Netanyahu's political future. Plus, chilling new revelations that the Taliban has not cut ties with

al Qaeda, despite a promise to the United States, a CNN exclusive just ahead.



DEAN: We're following breaking news out of Israel this afternoon where right-wing lawmaker, Naftali Bennett says he is ready to join a new coalition government to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


NAFTALI BENNETT, FORMER DEFENSE MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): I am announcing that I'm going to work in order to erect a unity government together with Mr. Yair Lapid, my friend, in order to return the State of Israel to its potential.


DEAN: This creates the potential for a significant power shift in Israel where Netanyahu has been Prime Minister for the last 12 years.

CNN's Hadas Gold is live in Jerusalem; and Hadas, any coalition has to be passed by Israel's Parliament. So walk us through the various steps that have to play out next.


DEAN: Well, Jessica, tonight might be the beginning of a seismic event in Israeli political history with Naftali Bennett announcing that he is willing to work with the centrist leader, Yair Lapid to form a new government. This could bring an end to Israel's longest serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has been in power for 12 years.

Now, Naftali Bennett announcing that he is willing to work with Yair Lapid is a big moment because Netanyahu was also trying to woo Bennett to sit with him. Now, Naftali Bennett actually only has seven seats. His party only has seven seats in the Israeli Parliament, but he has essentially been the kingmaker in all of this and in this potential new agreement, Naftali Bennett, could be the first -- could be the Prime Minister in a rotating leadership deal with that centrist leader, Yair Lapid.

Now this coalition will be -- will include a wide swath of small and medium parties within the Israeli political sphere from the left all the way to the right. But essentially, they are all united in that they do not want Netanyahu to continue being Prime Minister.

Now, Netanyahu in his own speech to the Israeli public this evening said that Bennett was essentially erecting a con, this will be a left- wing government that will threaten Israel's security. But what will happen next is even though Bennett has said that he is willing to sit with Yair Lapid and form this new government, there's still a few more things in the pipeline they need to get to work. First of all, Lapid needs to formally sign these coalition agreements

with all of these different political parties, then he needs to formally present it to the Israeli President, then the Parliament has to vote on this agreement and then the government can be potentially sworn in.

All this to say that we are still a few days away from this government being sworn in and the way Israeli politics work, things could change at the last minute, but the important thing is this could be the end of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's run as the longest serving Prime Minister of Israel.

DEAN: Yes. And Hadas, I you said there are still a lot of things that have to happen, and it could still shift. So I don't want to get too far ahead here. But is there a potential for this to shift relations with the U.S. or with other countries in the Middle East should this all go through?

GOLD: Well, listen, this will be a very unique government because you will have people sitting in the same government from as far left as the Labor Party to as far right as Naftali Bennett. And so there is not much that unites them right now, other than they just don't want Netanyahu to be in power.

And so they might not be trying to do some sort of big initiatives like start a peace process with the Palestinians reaching any sort of even two-state solution, because they are so different on these types of ideologies. So it might be a little bit of a different game here.

But that could mean that this will be potentially a fragile government. And if they do fall, if this government is not able to continue, then Israelis could still be heading towards a fifth election. But this will be a very big event in Israeli history, if Naftali Bennett is sworn in as the next Prime Minister, and it would mean the end of Benjamin Netanyahu as the Israeli Prime Minister.

DEAN: Wow. All right, Hadas Gold, thanks so much, for us.

CNN is learning new details about a deadly U.S. raid in Afghanistan last October. It all but proves the Taliban is still helping and housing top al Qaeda operatives despite their promises to the contrary. Nick Paton Walsh has this exclusive report now from Kabul.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): Al Qaeda, the reason the U.S. went to Afghanistan are greatly diminished, the Biden administration said.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is time to end America's longest war.

PATON WALSH (voice over): But a CNN investigation has discovered al Qaeda very much alive and thriving in Afghanistan linked to global cells the U.S. is hunting. Senior Afghan intelligence officials tell CNN al Qaeda are

communicating with their cells worldwide from Afghanistan, getting shelter and support from the Taliban in exchange for expertise and could be able to attack the West from there by the end of next year.

PATON WALSH (on camera): U.S. Treasury in January said al Qaeda was quota "growing in strength" here, but Afghan Intelligence officials I spoke to go further saying, it is more substantial than that, that al Qaeda provide expertise like bomb making, but also in finance, in moving cash around.

PATON WALSH (voice over): Core al Qaeda members number in their hundreds most assessments conclude, but it's not how many but who which is most telling.

Key is senior al Qaeda, Husam Abd-al-Ra'uf, known as Abu Muhsin al- Masri here on an F.B.I. wanted poster issued in 2019.

An Al Qaeda veteran, he was in on 9/11 before it happened said Afghan officials.

PATON WALSH (on camera): Al-Masri crossed into Afghanistan from Pakistan in 2014. In over six years, I was told, moved around different provinces in Afghanistan, something that senior Afghan Intelligence officials say would only be possible if he had the assistance of top Taliban officials.


PATON WALSH (voice over): But he was in October tracked down to here, a tiny Taliban controlled village in Ghazni that we can only see on satellite images.

Afghan Special Forces lost a soldier raiding this compound so fierce with the Taliban resistance and al-Masri died of injuries here.

PATON WALSH (on camera): When they went through al-Masri's possessions, his computer, they found messages communicating with other al Qaeda cells around the world talking about operational matters, not necessarily attacks, but also about how soon Afghanistan could be a much freer, easier space for them to operate in.

Then something curious happened, revealing a lot about al Qaeda and Afghanistan's global connections, particularly in this case to Syria.

There were two rare U.S. strikes in al Qaeda cells in Syria immediately afterwards. This one on the 15th of October, and another, a week later, both in Idlib.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. military said they were, quote: "Not aware of any connection to the Afghan raid." But as senior Afghan official told me they were most likely connected because the Americans asked the Afghans to delay announcing their raid for over 10 days. And during that delay, before the Afghans broke the news, both serious strikes happened. Strikes on Al Qaeda figures are often announced by Afghan Intelligence

who present the threat as why the U.S. must stay. A Taliban spokesman rang CNN to say the claims were false and designed to keep American money coming to Afghanistan.

He also said the Taliban had agreed to kick out terrorists as part of their peace deal with the United States.

PATON WALSH (on camera): I was told there isn't evidence at this stage that al Qaeda is plotting attacks on the West from Afghanistan, but still as they grow in freedom of movement, I was told it is considered simply a matter of time until that may happen raising the question: is the reason why the U.S. came to Afghanistan in the first place going to end up the reason they have to come back.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.


DEAN: Nick, thank you. All talk and no action, sharp words this week from the girlfriend of Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick. But if her passionate plea can't get Republicans to support a commission on the insurrection, what will?

Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean joins me live.



DEAN: Now to Texas where Republican lawmakers have moved one step closer to imposing new voting restrictions in that state. This morning, after more than seven hours of overnight debate, state senators voted along party lines to adopt legislation that would make mail-in voting more difficult and prohibit after hours and drive-thru options.

The measure moves Texas closer to other states like Florida and Georgia that have seized on former President Donald Trump's lies about widespread voter fraud.

Dianne Gallagher is live in Austin for us covering these developments. Dianne, walk us through what happens now that the Senate has passed this bill.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So at this point, Jessica, sometime late this afternoon, the Texas State House is going to take up Senate Bill 7. They have until midnight tonight Central Time to vote on it if it is to become law.

The expectation is that the House will pass this and the Governor has indicated that he will sign it into law, but Democrats tell me they still may have a few tricks up their sleeves, so don't count them out just yet.

The State of Texas already has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country without S.B. 7 being signed into law. This adds new restrictions and requirements that adds new civil and criminal penalties to the voting process.

For example, it makes it a crime to send an unsolicited mail-in ballot application. It prohibits overnight and Sunday morning voting, which some argue will make it difficult for projects like Souls to the Polls. It also changes the ID and signature match requirements for mail-in ballot applications and it stops drive-thru voting while expanding access for those partisan poll watchers.

Now, it also has language in it that lowers the burden of proof, making it easier for a Judge to overturn an election. I can tell you that there was a senator last night who was speaking and speaking very powerfully. And unfortunately, it is something that I have heard across the country now this year covering voting rights. Take a listen.


BORRIS MILES (D), TEXAS STATE SENATOR: Where I am from, where I'm elected to be a voice in this chamber, they do call and refer to it as Jim Crow 2.0, and they do ask me every time I'm in a neighborhood, is this 19 -- is this 2021? Or is this 1961? Now, why are we allowing people to roll back the hands of time?


GALLAGHER: Now, the Republican sponsors of this legislation, Jessica, say that this is all in their words an overreaction to left-wing talking points. They say that this is simply about securing the ballot, making things more uniform across the state and restoring people's confidence in elections.

Of course, much of that confidence was shaken by the former President and his big lie about the 2020 election being rigged.


DEAN: Dianne Gallagher, thanks so much for your very important reporting there. We appreciate it.

And one of the most powerful moments this week, the mother of late Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick and his longtime partner walked the Halls of Congress pleading with senators, Republican senators, to support a bipartisan investigation into what happened January 6th, but we now know that their efforts were in vain.


GLADYS SICKNICK, MOTHER OF OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK: If they had a child that was hurt, what was killed on a day like that, they will think very differently. Or if they were hurt. I mean, they could have very well -- somebody could have been killed.

They are elected for us, the people, and they don't care about that.


DEAN: Now, for context here, the Justice Department has so far charged at least 450 people connected to the insurrection that day, but they could not get 10 Republican senators to support a bipartisan commission probing into what happened.

So joining me now is Democratic Representative Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania. Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us this afternoon. It's nice to see you. Now, that a bipartisan commission appears to be off the table, how are Democrats looking to move forward without Republican support? What do you see is a feasible next step? Is it a House Select Committee?

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Well, Jessica, it's very good to be with you this Memorial Day weekend, and I'm so struck by what happened last week in the Senate with Memorial Day approaching.

You know, the biggest problem that we have in our politics is a loss of shame. It's Memorial Day weekend, we're witnessing a Republican majority that is no longer capable of feeling shame, or of smelling the hypocrisy all around them.

Mrs. Sicknick and Officer Sicknick's partner went to the Senate to plead with them to please, of course, seat an independent commission, vote for that. And yet, when they voted no, they raced home to try to lift up the honor of those who died for us in battle.

What happened with Officer Sicknick? He died protecting us. Do they not feel shame? Do they not see the hypocrisy? Of course, we can move on. We will be able to do something, but certainly a fully independent commission with full equal seating and full equal subpoena power would have been the best route. They blocked that.

What we'll do is likely we have the options, of course, oversight in our committees, the seating of a select committee. And of course, I hope the Department of Justice will do a full investigation.

DEAN: And Congresswoman, this morning, your Republican colleague, Michael McCaul of Texas was on our air and explained why he voted down a bipartisan commission. We'll play a clip from that.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): My judgment is for right now, let's let this D.O.J. investigation go forward. They've arrested over 400 people now responsible, I want those responsible to be held accountable and put behind bars and I want all the answers as to what happened on January 6, and then report it to Congress.

I think Congress should have a full report of this D.O.J. investigation that I don't believe will be tainted by politics, whereas some other methods could be.


DEAN: And of course, this has been a Republican talking point on their pushback, their opposition to a bipartisan commission is that there's all these other investigations going on. Do they have a point, Congresswoman? Do you see any truth in what they're saying?

M. DEAN: None at all. It is, obviously, they're afraid of what an independent investigation, free of the politics, free of elected officials will actually show. Will it show complicity of Members of Congress? Will it show their fealty to a failed President?

They are all afraid of the power they might lose in their base. So of course, Representative McCaul's calls are hollow. He knows that an independent commission is exactly what's called for.

This wasn't any day of the week. This wasn't any tour group on a Wednesday at the Capitol. This was a joint session of Congress with the Vice President there, completing our constitutional duty when, what happened? We were attacked by insurrectionists incited by the President and his big lie and those who were complicit with that.

People died. Damage was done. People were traumatized. They hunted Members of Congress. They wanted to hang Mike Pence. What is the Representative afraid of?

DEAN: And Democrats have worked to accommodate Republican amendments for this commission and went back and forth with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And yet, it was still -- it didn't -- couldn't get past a Republican filibuster in the Senate, could not get that 60 votes needed.

Is there in your opinion, a path forward that includes Republicans? We did hear from Senator Bill Cassidy who voted for the commission. He said he really wants to see Republicans involved with this, that it's the only way that can be fair and be the appropriate way forward. But is there a path forward that can include Republicans, do you think?

M. DEAN: Well, there are two things revealed there, Leader McCarthy set forward Representative Katko to negotiate a bipartisan commission free of political taint. When Representative Katko did that and Leader McCarthy affirmed that, he then did a backflip and said no, what this also reveals is the failure of the filibuster.

The constitutional framers did not anticipate that so many votes, unimportant matters would require a minority to be in charge. They thought a simple majority vote should be in charge. This is a further proof that the filibuster stands in the way of good governance.

DEAN: And quickly before I let you go, you have Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who are both Democrats, who have made it very clear they are not going to blow up the filibuster. So what do Democrats do? Because at this point, getting anything moving forward with Biden's agenda or this commission seems very, very, very difficult if you can't get past the 60 votes, and they won't blow up the filibuster.

M. DEAN: Look what we did, though, we passed the American Rescue Plan, sending millions of dollars to every single person's district, Republican and Democrat. I'll tell you what? My constituents are darn glad that even though we couldn't earn a single Republican vote, we sent money to our schools, we sent money for food, for housing, for education.

We will continue to work without the good faith of the Republican caucus. They seem to fail to pull themselves together and you saw what we were able to do. I look forward to passing an infrastructure bill, a jobs bill, whatever way we have to do it.

We have to act boldly for the American people and we won't be stymied by Republicans who feel no shame. They see no hypocrisy in their actions, and yet, they were elected to govern and they're failing to do so.

DEAN: Yes, and important to note, those did pass though, with reconciliation, which means they only needed that simple majority. So it'll be interesting to see how it moves forward.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, thanks so much for making time for us. We appreciate it.

M. DEAN: Good to be with you. Thanks, Jessica.

DEAN: Next, two pastors, one dangerous problem, QAnon spreading in their congregation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the name of Jesus, Amen.

GROUP: Amen.

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




DEAN: QAnon and Christian nationalism are spreading in churches across the U.S. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan reports on how two pastors are trying, but often failing to stop the lies and counterintuitive beliefs from spreading.


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

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

PASTOR BEN MARSH, FIRST ALLIANCE CHURCH IN WINSTON-SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA: Nothing in Scripture leads us to claim a political system in the name of Christ through force. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like to get off track and off the Bible,

but as a pastor, I do have to guard the flock. And so the one that I wanted to speak to as far as conspiracies is the QAnon conspiracy.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Is QAnon compatible with Christianity?

PASTOR JAMES KENDALL, GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH IN MADERA, CALIFORNIA: No, because it's a false belief system, almost a religion, but it's not true Christianity because true Christianity is that Jesus Christ is our ultimate hope, not Q, not Donald Trump, not any other person.

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

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

KENDALL: The biblical worldview is that there's a God who is in control of the whole world. And one day, Jesus is going to come back, He is going to judge the wicked, then you look at my understanding of QAnon's belief is that there's a Q that knows everything, and Donald Trump is going to come back and judge the wicked.

It's easier for Christians who already have that belief system to make that jump over and to believing that worldview.

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

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

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden is a fake President.

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

KENDALL: I've tried to talk with some of them about some of the issues, but it doesn't go very far.

O'SULLIVAN: They don't hear it?

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

O'SULLIVAN (voice over): QAnon ties in with what is known as Christian nationalism. JERUSHAH DUFORD, GRANDDAUGHTER OF BILLY GRAHAM: The term Christian

nationalism in and of itself is ironic because there's nothing Christian about nationalism. But what it is turned into is basically just Christians believing that their nation is, you know, kind of up with Scripture, and with the Bible, and the tenets of our nation are up there with the tenets of our faith.

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


O'SULLIVAN: You know, for some of these folks, QAnon is a religion?

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

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

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

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

KENDALL: Well, there's always a risk. But as a Pastor, my role is to protect my people, and teach them to place their hope in Jesus, to obey God's word, and so that's something that when I have to do it, I have to do it, and I take the consequences that come.

But fortunately, I've received a lot of support from my people for speaking out.


DEAN: Our big thanks to Donie O'Sullivan for that excellent reporting.

We're back in just a moment.



DEAN: Tonight, W. Kamau Bell is back with an all-new episode of "United Shades of America." And this week, Kamau travels to San Diego to explore the issues, disparities and injustices that both active duty troops and veterans face throughout their military careers and in their transition back to civilian life. Here's a preview. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That isolation is 110 percent real and the fact that Richard and I are sitting here telling you our experiences is due to these creatures right here.

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": I don't have a history of service in my family, you know, only less than one percent of Americans serve in the military. So I understand there's a real misunderstanding about what it is to be a veteran and how our military treats veterans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't care what alignment you have, the people who are in charge are not doing it right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was medically retired the end of May, and so I'm still, to this day feeling lost. And I felt like I didn't have the support when I really needed it. I think I may have acquired the majority of my PTSD when I was boots on ground in Iraq and there was a lot that happened, stuff I saw that haunts me.


DEAN: W. Kamau Bell joins us live now, and this episode is airing Memorial Day weekend. It's great to see you. I love this show. Tell us why you wanted to take a closer look at the U.S. military experience and a little bit about what you've learned in the process.

BELL: I mean, I think that we have a standard thing that those of us who are in the military do. We say support our troops when we meet a veteran or someone in the military, we say, "Thank you for your service." And for the most part, it ends there. So this episode is about investigating, one, how we can better support our troops, and also how veterans feel when you say, "Thank you for your service," how that makes them feel.

DEAN: And so how -- that is a great question. I know, obviously, we need to watch the episode, but I'm curious, too, like what do you think, what did you find is the best way to support the troops?

BELL: I mean, you know Kirsten Gillibrand has been talking about this all week. The thing I hear is that generally, civilian oversight of the military, they feel like the military is often a closed system, and that whatever the people at the top of the military say goes and right now with Kirsten Gillibrand trying to address multiple issues of harassment and criminal activity in the military, a lot of sexual harassment and sexual assault, they want us to be more involved in our military and they feel like the top brass of the military and our former President wants to keep us away from the military.

DEAN: And you don't pull any punches in this. This is a very candid, very critical look at the American military and what's going on and how service members feel. What do you say to those who say maybe it's unpatriotic to question the military or to criticize them? What's your message? BELL: I think most people will say it's unpatriotic to question the

military are in the military. You know, to a person I talked to, they believe that civilians are supposed to be involved in the military, and finding out if the military can do better by our veterans is actually the job of us outside of the military. So I don't think -- I think this is the ultimate patriotism actually.

DEAN: All right, well, W. Kamau Bell, we will watch tonight. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.

And be sure to tune in for the all new episode of "United Shades of America" with W. Kamau Bell. It airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. only here on CNN.



DEAN: Thanks so much for joining me on this Memorial Day weekend. I'm Jessica Dean and CNN NEWSROOM will continue with Jim Acosta in just a moment.

But first, I want to honor the men and women who died while serving the U.S. military.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington on this Memorial Day weekend.

The country is suffering yet another mass shooting. This one happening overnight in Florida's Miami Dade County. Two people were killed and at least 20 others were injured when three gunmen got out of a car and started firing into a crowd.