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Two Dead, At Least 20 Injured In Mass Shooting Outside Florida Concert; Texas Lawmakers Poised To Pass Restrictive Voting Bill; COVID Cases Plummet As Vaccinated Ditch Masks Ahead Of Memorial Day; Israeli Opposition Leader; Nazi Comparison; "Friends: The Reunion"; CNN Hero. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 30, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: 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. They were armed with assault rifles and handguns. The attack taking place outside a banquet hall near Hialeah. It's the second deadly mass shooting in Miami-Dade County in just 24 hours.

CNN's Natasha Chen is at the scene for us in northwest Miami-Dade. She joins me now.

Natasha, what do we know? What's the latest?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. A family arrived on scene about an hour ago saying that one of the people who were killed here overnight is their son. And so they are very emotional. We've heard really a lot of pain from them in trying to confirm and figure out what exactly happened here. They say that their son may be one of the two people who died in this shooting.

Police have said that two people died and more than 20 others were injured when this happened sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m. So we're here at what is essentially a strip mall. And outside this business, which is both a billiards lounge, a private club. There was a group of patrons standing outside, according to police, when this car pulled up, when these three people got out and started shooting, police say, indiscriminately at the crowd.

So that's why police are calling this targeted and why it's so difficult for a lot of people to comprehend why this would happen. Another person showed up to this scene earlier today saying that her son and nephew were here at the scene as well, and they were injured. Here's what she said.


ANGELICA GREEN, SON AND NEPHEW WERE WOUNDED IN MIAMI-DADE-COUNTY SHOOTING: That is my son, my only son, my only child. He's not a statistic. He's a graduate from college last year. So he's educated. He was going out with his educated cousin to just celebrate the weekend. And they had not made it into the club as of yet. They said that some

guys came -- three guys that they noticed, they're (INAUDIBLE), and they just started shooting at them in the area for whatever reason. We don't know.


CHEN: And we've seen aerial footage above this scene right here showing what seems to be two people covered on the ground. Investigators have been working since this happened this morning. We see lots of markings on the ground with shell casings, the canines were brought out here.

And now as the limited information is trickling out there more people who may be connected to the folks who were injured or killed are showing up here. A lot of extended family and a lot of high emotions -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. We can only imagine what those families are going through. Yet another mass shooting in this country. It just keeps happening over and over again. Especially on the weekends. We just seem to be covering them time and again.

Natasha Chen, thanks for that live report. We appreciate it. We'll get back to you.

Turning now to another major story we're following. Texas is on the cusp of signing into law one of the most restrictive voting bills in the country. Early this morning, the Republican-controlled Texas Senate passed a new bill that aims to drastically restrict voting access. It would tighten already strict voting rules in Texas and make it easier to overturn election results. You heard that right.

Joining me now, CNN's Dianne Gallagher in Austin, Texas, and Arnett Saenz in Wilmington, Delaware.

Dianne, walk us through what exactly is in this bill and what happens next? It sounds like this bill is on its way to being signed.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's start with that, Jim. What happens next? So in a few hours, the Texas statehouse will likely begin debate on Senate Bill 7. I can tell you I'm a little tired today because I was up until almost -- after 7:00 a.m. Eastern watching the Senate debate before they voted along party lines to approve this final version of this election overhaul bill.

And you mentioned, Texas already has some of the strictest election laws in the entire country. This particular bit of legislation will add new restrictions, new regulations. It adds new criminal and civil penalties to the voting process. For example, it makes it a crime to send an unsolicited mail-in application for a public official. It prohibits overnight and Sunday morning voting. It expands access to those partisan pole watchers.

It stops drive-through voting and it allows judges to more easily overturn election results by lowering the burden of proof. Now that's just sort the tip of the iceberg of what happens if this bill is signed into law. The expectation is that the House will likely vote to approve this legislation, Jim, although Democrats tell me that they still may have some tricks up their sleeves and they plan to use every single minute they are allotted.


The deadline for the vote is midnight tonight. Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has said that he will sign this bill into law if it goes to his desk.

ACOSTA: All right, Dianne. And, Arlette, what is President Biden's response to this bill? We understand he has issued a statement.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, President Biden has made clear that bills like this one down in Texas, that he views them as a direct affront to the democratic process. And the president was quite forceful in specifically denouncing this bill.

He said in a statement that Senate Bill 7 is part of an assault on democracy that we have seen far too often this year and often disproportionately targeting black and brown Americans.

He added, "It's wrong and un-American," and said, "In the 21st century we should be making it easier, not harder for every eligible voter to vote." We have heard the president use similar language when he's discussed other voting restriction bills including one down in the state of Georgia earlier this year. But the president also is urging for there to be a federal voting rights legislation passed.

There are two bills that are being considered in the Senate but they really face some long odds as that Senate is evenly divided at 50-50. And even some Democrats have said they want to see changes to this voting rights legislation. So the president, while he is urging Congress to act right now, there is very much a steep hill climb in getting anything passed up on Capitol Hill.

ACOSTA: Certainly with the filibuster there it is going to be a tall order.

All right, Dianne Gallagher, Arlette Saenz, thanks so much for that.

And I want to bring in April Ryan, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for TheGrio. And also joining us, Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for the "Atlantic." His latest piece for the "Atlantic" is entitled "Democrats are Running Out of Time."

Ron, let's start with that. Let me read what you write in your piece. You say, "Activists fear that Biden, by constantly stressing his determination to work across party lines, is normalizing Republicans' behavior, even as many in the party are radicalizing, and they worry that he is so focused on producing kitchen table results through his big infrastructure and education and families packages that the voting rights agenda will slip on the Senate priority list." What more do you think the White House needs to be doing, Ron? It

sounds like the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is getting very impatient with the president. They're trying to keep it in check obviously because he is in office and Donald Trump isn't, but they are losing patience.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, they're very worried, obviously, as are civil rights groups, voting rights groups, students of democracy about what is happening in the red states.

I mean, if you look at what's happening we are seeing in state after state where Republicans have unified control of government they are moving on a party line basis to make it tougher to vote and in many cases make it easier for Republican officials in 2024 to try to overturn the results of vote and refuse to certify a Biden potential Democratic victory.

Democrats don't have the votes to stop this in the states, Jim. The courts are a very imperfect avenue for them because this entire current of restrictive voting laws was set in motion by a 5-4 party line Supreme Court decision, written by John Roberts in 2013 in Shelby County that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act. So the one lever Democrats have to try to resist what is happening is passing a nationwide floor of voting rights.

The House has already passed that legislation. There are 49 Democrats in the Senate who have endorsed it. Joe Manchin has not. Joe Manchin says that any changes in voting rights at the federal level should be bipartisan. So in effect, what he is doing is giving a veto to Republicans in Washington over whether to counteract what Republicans in the states are doing.

And while the White House says the key to turning Manchin is an inside game there are many groups that are worried that he is not doing enough to ring the alarm for the public about the magnitude of the thread to small D democracy that is developing.

ACOSTA: Yes, and April, this bill would tighten what's already some of the tightest voting laws in the country. Obviously, you know, this is again -- and we've talked about this so many times, these state voting bills that are cropping up after the 2020 election, you know, they are based -- they're predicated on the big lie in many cases -- in all of the cases.

What are you concerned about, April?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they are predicated on the big lie. But you have to remember much of this movement from Florida, from Georgia, and now Texas is because Dems want -- they got, Georgia, OK. And Republicans don't want to see the wins. What the concern is that this is not reverberating in the community as much. You hear about it but people don't understand the stakes.


And the vice president has leaned in. She's held discussions with it. You've had the president lean in. But the court of public opinion is still out. And more people need to understand the stakes and understand really what's going on. And what's going on is once again it's an assault on minorities voting. In Texas, what's happening is they are pulling back hours and they're stopping drive-through.

It affects black and brown people who have limited ability with time when it comes to being an essential worker and it also deals with people who don't have the vehicle or the mobility to get to the polls. So it's affecting a community that they have been assaulting for years. Let's go back to 1965, the Voting Rights Act. That was based on trying to help people in the South, minorities, to vote. And we are back in 2021 trying to help minorities vote again.

So what needs to happen, I believe, is once again a civics lesson for people to understand what's at stake and what's happening and how it affects them in layman's terms.

ACOSTA: Yes. And they're worried about another blue wave hitting Texas. I mean, they saw what happened in Georgia. They're worried about it's going to come to Texas.

RYAN: Yes.

ACOSTA: Ron, let me play for you what Congressman Hakeem Jeffries told CNN's Jake Tapper earlier this morning. Let's talk about this.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well, the Texas law is shameful and Republicans clearly in Texas and throughout the country want to make it harder to vote and easier to steal an election. That's the only way that I can interpret the voter suppression epidemic that we see working its way from one state, Georgia, to Arizona, to Texas, and all across the country in so many different ways.


ACOSTA: Ron, you know, the congressman is pushing back. We are hearing the verbal pushback from Democrats. But is that going to be enough? What more can Congress do at this point if things are going to be deadlocked in this way? It seems to be shaping up -- Arlette Saenz was talking about this a few moments ago, they just don't have the votes in the Senate it seems to push this through.

BROWNSTEIN: And that really is, you know, the singular focus of all the groups working on this. As I said the courts are not really an answer. It's highly unlikely that John Roberts, who set all of this in motion, it's important to understand with the Shelby County decision in 2013 that eviscerated the pre-clearance provisions to the Voting Rights Act, because he argued voting discrimination was a thing of the past.

It's highly unlikely in the end that the courts are going to stop much of what's happening in the states. The one lever the Democrats have is to set a national floor of voting rights to guarantee Americans' access to early balloting, mail balloting, automatic registrations, same-day registration. The House has passed that legislation. It is now sitting in the Senate where 49 Democrats are supporting it, but not Joe Manchin.

And Manchin is saying that he will only act if Republicans join, which as I said is giving a veto to the Republicans in Washington over whether they'll limit what the Republicans in the states are doing on party line basis. Biden, as you know, has made a decision. He is being focused -- when we see him in public, he is focused on kitchen table concerns. Shots in the arms, checks in the pocket, shovels in the ground.

He has made strong statements about some of these state laws but he has not really gone all in. And it may be that ultimately, he has the -- he is the lever here, that if there is a way to get Joe Manchin not only to support the bill but restrict the filibuster in order make it possible everyone agrees that's going to have to come from pressure from Biden. Lyndon Johnson said on the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, my whole stack is in. And ultimately that's --

ACOSTA: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: I've made use of (INAUDIBLE) for Joe Biden as well.

ACOSTA: And April, you know, when Ron Brownstein mentions -- what's that?

RYAN: You know, LBJ told Dr. King, Ron, you have to make me do it as well. The court of public opinion, you have to bring pressure in on it from the public.

ACOSTA: That's right.

RYAN: That's one reason why Joe Manchin is against it. So if the public came in and there was a groundswell to have voting protections like you did in 1965, things might change.

ACOSTA: April, I was going to ask you about Joe Manchin because it seems like the song these days is how do you solve a problem like Joe Manchin here in Washington? You know, he was --

RYAN: The ground swell.

ACOSTA: Yes. I mean, he was -- he seemed pretty upset about how things played out late last week with the vote to block on the Republican side the January 6th Commission. And now once again, Joe Manchin on the filibuster coming up again in this voting rights discussion.

What do folks on the progressive side of the Democratic Party, in that very influential wing of the Democratic Party, what do they think can be done about Joe Manchin?

RYAN: You know, Joe Manchin is looking for power, and he's got it. At issue is the power is the people. And people have to realize once again we the people have to stand up and go back to what I said. It's about the court of public opinion. And unfortunately, sometimes, we have to go back to "Schoolhouse Rock" to understand what things look like and how they really work.


Give it to us in layman's terms so we understand how it impacts us. And once again, if there is a groundswell, if people really understood how we are voting without the full protections of the Voting Rights law now, how we are going to the polls and we can't bring grandma water who is standing in line because she wants to make sure her rights are taken cared for herself and her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and those to come.

People have to understand what's really at stake. And unfortunately, the Democratic Party is out there talking and is celebrating Stacey Abrams but they're not putting on the table what they're taking away from you. And once people understand the real terms and what's being taken away and how it affects them on day to day, that's when it makes a difference. And that's when Joe Manchin might be eased out.

ACOSTA: All right, well, we'll see about that. Joe Manchin is a survivor here in Washington, as you both know. But great talking to both of you and a great discussion on an important topic. We're going to be following what's happening down in Austin, Texas, and we'll get back to everybody on that.

April Ryan, Ron Brownstein, thanks so much.

Up next, this weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. And this summer will look a lot different from last summer as America is reopening. But are we out of the woods yet? We'll talk about that. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: This weekend marks a major milestone in America. For the first time in over a year, Memorial Day will be the first holiday many Americans ditch their masks. And here's why. More than half of the U.S. adult population is now fully vaccinated. And new coronavirus cases are plummeting.

Joining us now is CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore health commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen.

Great as always to see you, Dr. Wen. This time last year we knew very little about the virus. Vaccines were still a pipe dream. Did you think this is where we would be one year later?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, last year at this time when we're telling people what not to do, we were saying don't see anyone outside your household. We didn't know what was to come. And actually, the worst was definitely yet to come. I don't think any of us could have anticipated how bad things were going to be. But also now we are definitely not quite in the clear, but we certainly have a much better summer coming. We have falling infection rates, falling hospitalization rates, and so

forth. But we have to remember that as long as coronavirus rages around the world and we still have nearly half of the American public that hasn't even seen one drop of the vaccine, that we can't declare victory just yet.

ACOSTA: Yes, we've got to convince that other half to get in there, get on with it. You just wrote an op-ed for the "Washington Post" where you make an important point, the pandemic is not over, especially for your children. What's your message to parents right now? Because it is critical that we get these kids protected, too.

WEN: I think there is a sense that we are all taking a deep sigh of relief. And I think it is important for us to celebrate our progress and to know that those people who are vaccinated are extremely well protected. But that said, the pandemic is still occurring and people who are unvaccinated, including our children, remain at risk. And some people will look at the statistics and say, well, look, children tend to not get as sick as adults do. Over 300 children have died, but that's out of 3.94 million children who've gotten infected.

Maybe we shouldn't be so worried. But I think it's also reasonable to look at those same statistics and to say we want to be cautious still. And for those parents that want to be cautious it is reasonable to say, we only -- like my family, for example, will see anybody outdoors but if we're going to be spending time indoors with people, they should be fully vaccinated and we should still be wearing masks indoors if our children are not yet vaccinated.

ACOSTA: And Dr. Wen, I want to talk to you about something that's important. Unfortunately, there are still some who refer to COVID as the China virus like former President Trump infamously started calling it last year. I've talked to the former acting director of National Intelligence yesterday, Rick Rennell, he was trying to defend some of this and insisting it wasn't racist and so on, even though Trump used terms like kung-flu and whatnot.

How dangerous is that kind of rhetoric? And what do you say to people out there who say, people shouldn't be offended by this? Why is this offensive? Why is it so problematic, do you think?

WEN: There is a reason why the World Health Organization has a system for naming diseases. And specifically, they say do not call diseases by the country of origin for fear that it would spark harassment, discrimination, and violence against those people. And in fact we've seen that right here in the U.S. We've had shop owners who are Asian- American getting their shops burned down or graffitied over saying -- blaming them for coronavirus.

We've had doctors, nurses, medical students spat upon and chased out of work, and patients refusing to be treated by them saying that they are the reason why coronavirus exists in this country. I mean, I think words have real consequences. And it's up to all of us to try to correct them. And by the way, I'll just say that it is really important for us to get to the bottom of what led to coronavirus. If in fact it was a lab leak or animal spillover, we need to know the

answer, but let's use a specific process for determining this. Let's not adjudicate this in the political realm and jump to conclusions because attributing intentionality and culpability really has consequences and I and other Asian-Americans actually really fear for a potential rise in anti-Asian hate and discrimination if we use the wrongs words because as we've seen all throughout words really, really matter.

And even if we're angry about the actions of a government or certain individuals, we really should separate that from anger and animus towards an entire group of people.

ACOSTA: Well said, Dr. Wen. I think that's so important that you said that. And, you know, people can be ignorant in the beginning and use terms like that. But, you know, we've moved way past that stage. We now know that using terms like that can cause tremendous harm in Asian-American communities across this country, all over the world really, Asian-American communities all over the world, and that kinds of nonsense just needs to stop.


So, Dr. Wen, thanks for that analysis, that perspective as always, and glad we're able to tackle that subject with you. We appreciate it as always. Great to see you.

WEN: Thank you. You too, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, take care.

And coming you up, a right-wing leader in Israel says he is working to form a unity government. That would mean a new prime minister for the first time in 12 years. Full details next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


ACOSTA: In Israel today, right-wing leader Naftali Bennett announced he is working to form a unity coalition government that if successful would unseat Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.



NEFTALI BENNETT, OPPOSITION LEADER, ISRAIL (translator): I am announcing that I'm going to work in order to erect a unity government together with Yair Lapid, my friend, in order to return the state of Israel to its potential.


ACOSTA: Joining me now is CNN's Hadas Gold. Hadas, we've seen Benjamin Netanyahu on the ropes before. But perhaps things are changing now. What happens now? HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, Prime Minister Benjamin

Netanyahu's run as the longest serving prime minister in Israeli history may soon be coming to an end. This is after, as you noted, Neftali Bennett, the leader of the small right-wing party, Yamina, announced tonight that he will be working with the centrist leader, Yair Lapid, to form a new coalition government.

Now, it's widely believed that as part of this agreement, Neftali Bennett will be prime minister first, followed by Yair Lapid as part of a rotating leadership agreement. This new coalition government will be made up of a wide swath of political parties, ranging from the left-wing labor party through the center's parties and to Neftali Bennett's Yamina right-wing party. They will all be sitting together.

But Neftali Bennett said that he is willing to sit with people on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum of his in order to prevent Israel from going through a fifth round of elections in two years. Now, Benjamin Netanyahu, in his own televised speech tonight, lashed out at Neftali Bennett, who is a former lieutenant of his, saying that he is deceiving the public. Saying that this new government will be left wing and that it will be a threat to Israeli security.

So, what happens now? Now, all of these different parties have to actually formally sign their coalition agreements, before it can be presented to the Israeli president. They have to do that by Wednesday.

Then, the Israeli Parliament, known as the Knesset, has to vote on this new government before it can be officially sworn in, which means we are a few days away before this government, before, potentially, a new prime minister can be sworn in.

And the way these -- the way Israeli politics works, things can change very quickly. And just two defectors from this coalition could completely change the calculations here and could call this -- cause this whole deal to crumble.

But the way it seems right now, the way it's looking, is that we could be looking at the final few days of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's prime minister -- Jim.

ACOSTA: That will be fascinating to watch. All right, Hadas Gold, thank you so much for that.

And coming up, this country is seeing a disturbing rise in anti- Semitic incidents. What will it take to stop these attacks? A Holocaust survivor, and former national director of the ADL, joins me next. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise across the country. In fact, in the week of May 17th alone, 124 incidents were reported in the U.S. That's according to the Anti-Defamation League. Take St. Petersburg, Florida, for example, where police are investigating a possible hate crime after the state's Holocaust museum was defaced and spray painted with a swastika and anti-Semitic language.

Meanwhile, in New York, the NYPD has made two arrests, so far, in connection to the attack of a Jewish man outside Times Square last week. He has since speaking out on what he hopes will come from this.


JOSEPH BORGEN: Moving forward, ideally, obviously, what I want to do is hopefully prevent what happened to me happen to anyone. Anyone Jewish, anyone of minority. Ethnicity, religion, it doesn't matter. Nobody should be afraid to leave their house and free getting out in the streets.


ACOSTA: Abraham Foxman is a Holocaust survivor and the former national director of the Anti-Defamation League. He's also the author of "Never Again, The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism."

Abraham, thanks for doing this. We appreciate it. Do you get the sense that this problem is getting worse as you see what is happening across the country right now?

ABRAHAM FOXMAN, FORMER NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Sadly to say, yes. I think we were used to seeing it in the streets of Europe and Paris and Berlin and London. But to see (INAUDIBLE) attacks against Jews, singled out as Jews, in the streets of New York, and L.A., and Tucson, and all over the country, is a new, scary phenomenon.

There were -- Jews were not targeted in this country all these years, until two years ago we saw it in Pittsburgh, and Poway, and Jersey City. So, yes, it is a new dimension. It's a new degree. And it's very scary.

ACOSTA: Why is it happening, do you think?

FOXMAN: Well, Jim, if we knew what caused anti-Semitism and hate, we may be able to eliminate it. And it's there because anti-Semitism is one of the oldest hatreds. It's -- it served many interests and many purposes and it metastasized it. Mark Twain, over 100 years ago, wrote an essay where he travelled through Europe. And he came back and he said, strange phenomenon.


FOXMAN: I found anti-Semitism wherever I went, rich people, poor people, smart people, stupid people, religious people, atheists. So, even 120 years ago, he tried to figure it out. He said it's because there's jealousy of Jewish success.

Well, you know, some of success, in terms of our history which has been sad. But I guess as long as it serves people's interests and as long as we don't come up with a vaccine or an antidote, it's going to be with us. So, it's not only anti-Semitism. It's anti-Asian. It's anti-black. It's anti-LGBTQ. The phenomenon of hate is in a society that's lost civility.

And, Jim, you reported on it. The last couple of years, the consensus of civility in our country is gone. There are no taboos anymore. And, --


FOXMAN: -- from my experience, the gas chambers in Auschwitz did not begin with bricks. They began with words. Ugly words. We're hearing a lot of ugly words. And we're not hearing all the people stand up and say, no. It's unacceptable. It's un-American. It's unchristian. It's immoral.

ACOSTA: Let me --

FOXMAN: And we need to begin to do that.

ACOSTA: Yes. Let me ask you about that. Because Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green has made some just shameful comments recently, speaking of words, comparing Democrats to Nazis, mask mandates to the horrors of the Holocaust. It pains me to listen to this piece of video again, but I'd like to play it for you and get your reaction to it.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R), GEORGIA: You know, we can look back on a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star. And they were definitely treated like second-class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany. And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.

You know, Nazis were the national socialist party, just like the Democrats are now a national socialist party.


ACOSTA: Abe, your parents were taken by the Nazis when you were just a baby. Can you describe to this person what really happened during the Holocaust? Unless anybody thinks there is some comparison that can be made between a mask mandate during the pandemic and what happened during the Holocaust?

FOXMAN: Jim, I was -- I was very lucky. I guess intervention, miracles, my parents, the catholic Jewish woman who risked their life to save me, baptize me, hide me for four years.

But Holocaust trivialization (ph) is a tool used by ideologically, politically and sometimes hate-motivated people who compare whatever cause their -- they don't like to the millions -- the murder of six million Jews.

So, Marjorie Taylor Greene knows exactly -- sometimes it comes from ignorance. She knows what it is. And to her, masks or vaccinations, or whatever it is that troubles her, is so evil, is so terrible that she compares it to the worst of evils, the murder of six million Jews, the Holocaust. You see it in people opposed to abortion, to climate change. Politically, you know, President Trump was quoting Hitler, President Biden --

ACOSTA: But a member of Congress making those comparisons. Yes, Abe, a member of Congress making those comparisons.

FOXMAN: And comparing Israel to the Nazis. Yes. Yes. It does -- and it's words. And these words need to be put down, need to be condemned. And good people need to speak out.

ACOSTA: And what --

FOXMAN: Education is the antidote, but that's a long process.

ACOSTA: It certainly is. It is a part of the process. I am afraid that some people can't be educated, at this point, unfortunately, about what you're talking about, Abe. But your comments are just spot on, and we appreciate those insights.

Abe Foxman thanks so much for being on with us this afternoon. We really appreciate it. And thanks again for sharing your story.

FOXMAN: Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: Your family's story. It's so important to reflect on. Thanks so much.

FOXMAN: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Appreciate it.

And we'll be right back.



ACOSTA: It's a reunion that "Friends" fans have craved for years. And now, more than 17 years after the final episode of the hit sit-com aired, I can't believe it's been 17 years, fans finally got what they wanted. "Friends: The Reunion" is now streaming on HBO Max, which shares the same parent company as CNN. The original show made these actors household names, gave us classic scenes and quotes, such as pivot, smelly cat and, of course, this.


DAVID SCHWIMMER, ACTOR, "FRIENDS": We were on a break.

We were on a break.

We were on a break.

We were on a break.

We were on a break.


ACOSTA: And we're on a bit of a break right now. We're going to have some fun with this segment. One revolution in the reunion is the we were on a break debate not only splits fans, but the actors, too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were Ross and Rachel on a break?






ACOSTA: Great stuff. With me now is the co-creator of "Friends," David Crane. David, great to see you. Thanks for coming on. I have to ask you, where do you stand in this debate? Were they on a break? Can you solve the mystery for us?



CRANE: Technically, maybe. But the thing that -- as the writer, the thing that I love is that you can argue about this for 20 years. From a story standpoint, anything you can debate this long, that's just gold.

ACOSTA: That's great. And what was it about "Friends" that made it so popular? I mean, here we are 17 years later. That is hard to wrap my head around, first of all. And we're still -- there's some -- so many people who were obsessed with the show know all the lines and so on. What made it resonate for so many people, do you think?

CRANE: I think it's -- the themes of the show are universal. The one- line pitch when we sold it was it's that time in your life when your "Friends" are your family. And I think either, you know, you've had that or the 12-year-olds who are still discovering the show, it is aspirational. You want those kind of friends. You want -- you want the feeling that the show gives you. And I think that's, hopefully, timeless.

ACOSTA: Yes. And what are some of your favorite moments from the decade that "Friends" was on the air? Because it really was a show that reflected that era, I think. You know, it was little simpler back then. It wasn't as crazy as it is now.

CRANE: It was. If we were doing that show today, I think everyone would just be on their phones. ACOSTA: That's true. I mean, that's very true.

CRANE: Yes. It would be talking and texting the whole time. So, yes, it's simpler time.

ACOSTA: And it's the relationships between the characters. I mean, that's what we were all glued to. I mean, it seems to me. That's what I was glued to, I guess I have to confess.

CRANE: I would absolutely agree. I think the show, hopefully, was really funny. But, for me, the part that I'm proudest of is that you cared about these people. And so, the episodes that I always love are the emotional ones, and, you know, the births and the weddings where you have that investment. To me, that's what made the so enduring.

I think if it were just funny, we would not have been there 10 years.

ACOSTA: And we're seeing some great video of the cast hanging out together, you know, to this day, reminiscing about this. What was it like watching the reunion for you?

CRANE: Oh, it was -- it was like the best high school reunion. I was sort of nervous because I was afraid it was going to be like all the anxiety of a high school reunion. And my husband, Jeffrey, said, would you relax. You liked high school. And it's true. I loved those 10 years. And so, being back there with everyone on the stage was just -- it was fantastic.

ACOSTA: Yes. And like a lot of high school reunions, sometimes they can go too far. Someone always gets a little crazy, a little out of hand. But that's what makes us remember those great times in our lives. And "Friends" I think really captured, for so many younger folks from that generation, you know, what was the best time in their lives.

And, David, that was -- that was a great gift that you gave everybody to bring that back to us. "Friends: The Reunion," it's now streaming on HBO Max. Thanks so much for being with us. And it was great talking to you.

CRANE: Thank you.

ACOSTA: We appreciate it.

CRANE: It was great. Thank you.

ACOSTA: Thanks again.

One year ago, the murder of George Floyd sparked global protests against police brutality. Yet, even those who didn't take part in the demonstrations were profoundly impacted by them. This week's CNN Hero salutes Washington, D.C.-based health care consultant, Rahul Dubey.


RAHUL DUBEY: That night of June 1st, what I saw were people confused. I saw fear. They were trapped on the street trying to get home. And you hear this loud bang. And I saw the clubs coming out and pepper spray flying everywhere. All I could do was just fling open the door and I'd, like, get in the house.

They were getting pepper sprayed as they were running off. It was pure chaos. They were washing their eyes out with milk, baking soda. Everyone was tending to each other. Protesting in an organized way was not my thing. I would hear of these verdicts. And, yes, I would say to myself, oh, my God, that's terrible. And then, I would still go to dinner.

But to see the atrocity show up on your front door. If people like me don't open the door, then, really, who will?


ACOSTA: And to see the full story of how that night changed Rahul's life, go to And while you're there, nominate someone who you think should be a CNN Hero.

And still to come, we're getting incredible pictures out of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a volcano could erupt again. Plus, it's an unthinkable discovery. The remains of 215 children have been found buried near a school. What authorities think may have happened to them. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Just in, off the coast of Florida, the search for 10 Cuban migrants has been called off several days after the boat they were in capsized. Take a look at this video. The U.S. Coast Guard says, the decision to call off the search was not easy, after spending more than 100 hours searching with boats, helicopters, and airplanes.


ACOSTA: Eight people from the capsized boat were rescued.