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Bigger Crowds, Fewer Masks on Memorial Day Weekend; Australian Softball Team Arrives in Japan for Olympic Games; Michel Flynn Appears to Endorse Myanmar-Style Coup; New York City Mayoral Candidates Face Off in Primary; Asian-American Communities Start Volunteer Foot Patrols; Battle Over Voting Rights Heats Up In U.S.; Police Hunt For Suspects In Florida Banquet Hall Attack; Tennis Star Quits French Open After Press Controversy. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired June 1, 2021 - 00:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: A restrictive voting bill defeated in Texas, but the state's governor is vowing not to give up and is threatening lawmakers paying. Man hunt in Miami after another mass shooting, the city's police chief predicting a bloody summer unless something is done about gun violence. And the world number two out at the French Open not from her performance on the clay, but out of her own concerns about her mental health. Hello, everyone. Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes.

The battle over voting rights in Texas escalating with both Republicans and Democrats vowing not to back down, that issue is a bill with some of the most restrictive limits on voting access in the U.S. Democrats blocked the measure with a dramatic walkout from the Texas House laid on Sunday.


TONY TINDERHOLT, TEXAS HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE: Am I seeing that we don't have a quorum. And essentially it looks to me like the Democrats left the house floor.


HOLMES: Republicans did not have enough lawmakers left to vote. Now Texas is part of a national trend of Republican-led states trying to pass these restrictive voting laws. And it's all based on former President Donald Trump's lies about 2020 election fraud. Of course, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Republican Governor Greg Abbott suggesting he would withhold pay from lawmakers who "Abandoned their responsibilities." Texas democrats say they are not giving up.


CHRIS TURNER, TEXAS HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: And Senate Bill 7 was the worst of the worst. And so we were determined to kill this bill in any way we could. Some Republican leader in this country is going to have to say, you know what, enough is enough. This is nonsense. This is based on a lie. Maybe Governor Abbott will -- would reach that realization here in Texas. But if he doesn't, and he calls a special session to pass those suppression legislation, we're going to fight him every step of the way. We're going to fight republicans every step of the way.


HOLMES: CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein is in Los Angeles for us. Good to see you, Ron. Joe Biden spoke on Memorial Day about how "Democracy itself is in peril here at home and around the world." But how worried are activist and voting rights groups not just about the laws, but about what some feel is a lack of urgency among the Democratic leadership to, I don't know, get their hands dirty and fight?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, look, I think the civil rights groups, the voting rights groups, people who studied democracy at home and around the world are very worried about what is happening and at the gap between the magnitude of the threat and the intensity of the response from the White House and congressional Democrats. I mean, this Texas bill, Michael, as the this package suggested, is really a gauntlet thrown down directly in front of congressional Democrats because it is as precisely targeted as any of the voter suppression bills that we've seen at democratic constituencies, particularly Harris County, the fourth largest county in the country, where Houston is 300,000 more people voted in Harris County in 2020 than in 2016.

You would think that would be a cause for celebration, but instead, the Republican-controlled legislature has directly and specifically banned many of the innovations, 24-hour voting drive-through voting that the county used to expand turnout in this last election. And so I mean what Texas Democrats are saying is, we have done all we can to try to prevent this. Literally, they were saying today now, it is in your hands, Congress and the White House, and I think that is an accurate assessment of the situation.

HOLMES: Well, speaking of Congress, the Voting Rights Act, H.R. 1, is before Congress. Where is it headed, though, with the filibuster in place? I mean, it could be doomed and democrats like Joe Manchin are not inclined to tackle the filibuster or it seems voting rights themselves in some ways.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Important understand that all of this was set in motion in 2013, when on a party line, 5-4 decision in the Supreme Court. The five Republican appointed justices, in a decision written by John Roberts, eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, which basically gave the green light to the states to pursue this kind of voter suppression. And the situation Democrats are in now is as these laws proliferate across the red states, they don't have the votes to win these fights ultimately in the state legislators.

[00:05:00] And with Roberts being the one who sounded the starting bell for this, it is highly unlikely that in the end, the courts are seriously going to constrain what Republican states are doing to make it tougher to vote. So the one lever they have is control of the Congress and White House, which would allow them to set a national floor of voting rights. The house has passed such legislation to do that, to guarantee all Americans access to early voting and absentee voting, and same day and automatic registration. But the bill is stuck in the senate. Forty-nine Senate Democrats have endorsed it. Joe Manchin has not.

Joe Manchin is saying that changes in voting law at the federal level should only happen on a bipartisan basis, which means in practice, he is giving a veto to Senate Republicans over whether Washington should try to respond to this -- these votes that are occurring in red states on a party line basis in state after state to tilt the playing field toward Republicans. There's a lot of anxiety about whether there's a pathway to convince him to change his mind. And I think there's a lot of concern among the groups that Biden is so focused on making progress on his big economic agenda that the voting rights concerns are slipping on his priority list.

HOLMES: This is such an important issue. I mean, in many ways, the moves by these Republican legislators are so transparent and the aims, you know, so obvious. It begs the question that these laws with their incredible impacts are passing. And while there's criticism, is there a climate of public outrage? I mean, where --


HOLMES: -- are people on the streets saying no to this?

BROWNSTEIN: No, I mean, look, there are -- there's a lot of fingers being pointed at the White House and the Democratic Congressional leaders were not displaying enough urgency. But it's also true that the other side of the equation hasn't been there in terms of the activist groups building kind of a mass movement. I mean, you know, when the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, it is true that Lyndon Johnson made an enormous effort. And he said at the time, my stack is all in as if he was at the poker table, but the opposite, you know, is happening from the outside.

And also it was the March on, you know, in Selma that really created the climate that made voting -- the voting rights legislation unstoppable in 1965. And I think there is anxiety about whether any institution in the U.S. is really fully grappling with what -- with the magnitude of what's happening. We don't have a language in American politics for what we are seeing occur.

We have not seen a party that is systematically showing a willingness to depart from the underlying tenants of Democracy, if that's what it takes to keep power and in many ways, a big chunk of the Republican coalition and its elected officials are behaving more like a party in Poland, or turkey, or Hungary, where you use the -- you acquire state power, and then you change the rules to try to prevent the other side from ever winning again. And I think there is concern that we just -- we don't fully have an understanding in American politics of how to deal with a threat that is so different than what we face really almost any time in our history.

HOLMES: Yes, important issue. That's for sure. Ron Brownstein in L.A. Thanks so much, Ron. Good to see you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Michael.

HOLMES: Now, police in South Florida might be closer to cracking a murder case after this weekend's brazen shooting outside of Miami area banquet hall. Two people were killed, at least 20 hurt. Have a look at this video here. These gunmen opening fire on a crowd gathered for a concert. That video shows the three attackers jumping out of a white Nissan Pathfinder. And now officials say they do have that vehicle. It was found dumped in a canal after being reported stolen May 15.

But the case isn't isolated. Violent crime is surging around the country and in Miami-Dade County. There have been at least 41 homicides this year matching the total for all of 2020. And Miami police are already reporting at least one more possible shooting on Memorial Day. The city's new police chief wants tougher gun laws. He says it's not just criminals who need to be held accountable.


ART ACEVEDO, CHIEF OF POLICE, MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT: So unless the American people speak out, it's going to be a long, hot bloody summer. And we can thank a lot of elected officials for that.


HOLMES: Mathew Littman is the Executive Director of 97Percent Gun Reform. He joins me now from Los Angeles. Good to see you, Mathew. I mean, there has been this surge of gun purchases in the U.S. which was already awash in guns, and almost routine but horrific shootings and deaths. Two hundred and thirty-nine mass shootings so far in 2021. The Miami police chief predicted a long hot summer of bloodiness given the right of gun violence. Do you think he's right?

MATHEW LITTMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, 97PERCENT GUN REFORM SAFETY: Well, Michael, this year has been terrible so far, and last year was the worst year on record. So every year, it seems to get worse. Now as people are gathering again in public places, we're going to see more of these mass shootings.


It's inevitable. You were saying there are all this big rise in gun sales. There are about 400 million guns awash in the United States, right? People have about 40 percent of the United States owns a gun. So it's mostly it's -- not everyone has a gun. But some people have several guns. And people seem to be using these guns as a way to communicate in a way that's killing people.

HOLMES: Yes, that's an interesting way of putting it down. Yes. Now, I was reading, too, that, you know, research data shows that about a fifth of all Americans who bought guns last year were first time gun owners. And also there was one week in spring where at least 1.2 million background checks were carried out. 1.2 million in a week. That was a record. Why do you think this surge?

LITTMAN: So the surge has been going on for a while. This has been about a year and a half. It even actually started before COVID where we're seeing a big rise in gun sales. And now what we're seeing is, a lot of first-time gun buyers are black people or Latinos. They're leaving the surge in gun purchasing. And Michael, it's crazy to say it, but it's like an arms race amongst people. It's like, you know, how we used to have the United States and Russia building new nuclear weapons.

Now it's Bob and Michael getting new guns, and people are doing it because they feel that United States is a very individualistic society, and people feel a need to protect themselves. So you know, 99.9 percent of the people, Michael, very good gun owners. Very few people make a big difference when they're not.

HOLMES: It certainly does. Yes. You only need a few bad people if they're incredibly well armed. I mean, you touched on this, I mean it's worth revisiting. I mean there are 393 million civilian owned guns in the U.S., that's according to the Small Arms Survey, a reputable one. That's one for every man, woman, and child with 67 million left over. People watching around the world often ask, you know, what is it with Americans and guns? Not just the guns per se, but the types and the power of the weapons? And as you pointed out, the numbers that some people own. Why is it?

LITTMAN: So well, we do have this very individual -- individualistic society, and America has the Second Amendment, which is the right to own a gun. So people have been owning guns in the United States for a long time. Now, many of those guns are extremely deadly. But really, Michael, a significant issue here is there 42,500 deaths with the gun in 2020, 23,000 of those are suicides. So, that, very often, is people use a handgun to kill themselves. And if you're going to use try to kill yourself with a handgun, you're going to succeed. If you tried any other way to kill yourself, you're probably not.

So we talk a lot, Michael, about all these big mass shootings with different types of guns. But really suicides make up the vast majority of gun deaths in the United States.

HOLMES: That -- that's a really good point. One thing, too, I wanted to ask you, the vast majority of Americans. I mean, the vast majority, including gun owners, and Republicans want at least some change in the laws, like universal background checks. With support like that, you would think politicians would carry out the wishes of their constituents. But that is not the case, why the lack of political will to act on things everybody seems to want?

LITTMAN: Thank you for the chance to promote our organization, which is called 97percent, because that's the number in the U.S. that favored background checks, Michael. If you had a survey of people who like pizza, it would be less than 97 percent. There is nothing that gets 97 percent of the public behind it yet, as you're saying, we don't have universal background checks. It's crazy. And the reason why is because you have small states that have just as equal as, say, as big states in the Senate. So for example, if a senator from Alabama decides that he doesn't want legislation on guns, he has just as much of a say as a senator from New York or Massachusetts, which are much more populated.

It doesn't -- it's not based on population in terms of the vote when it comes to legislation. So while almost everybody wants something, unless you get the people from those specific states, you're not getting it. And that's where we are today. There's something called red flag laws. That also has over 80 percent popularity. Universal background checks are favored by gun owners, by huge majorities. It's ridiculous. It's a very basic thing. It's ridiculous that we don't have it.

HOLMES: Yes. Meanwhile, the country almost becomes numb during mass shooting after mass shooting. It's extraordinary. I got to leave it there. Mathew Littman, always good to see you. Thanks so much.

LITTMAN: Thank you.

HOLMES: And still to come on the CNN Newsroom, a stunning withdrawal from Roland-Garros by the world number two tennis player. Why she's taking time away from the court. That's when we come back.



HOLMES: A shocking move by tennis star Naomi Osaka on Monday announcing that she's withdrawing from the French Open. Now this comes after she was fined $15,000 for skipping a news conference after her first match. Osaka said last week she wouldn't participate in media events, citing mental health concerns. In a statement on Twitter, she says in part that the move is the best thing for the tournament, the other players, and her own well-being. Joining me now from CNN World Sport is Patrick Snell. Patrick, good to see you. Let's start with, you know, how Naomi's life has transformed since winning her first major and how it's changed what's expected of her.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Yes, Michael. You're spot on. There's no question, you know. That victory over Serena Williams in 2018 at the U.S. Open, utterly life-changing, beating a childhood (INAUDIBLE) the Big Apple, the first of today, four Slam titles. Life hasn't been the same since then. Let's not beat around the bush, everyone wants a piece of her rightly or wrongly, almost like she now no longer has a right to privacy. Her first ever career major going back to 2018, remember, was overshadowed by the Williams row, with the (INAUDIBLE) there. Naomi really does admit she's naturally a quiet, reserved person.


Yet we've seen that huge change in her, haven't we, in recent months? And the really impressive and courageous stance she's taken in the fight against social injustice over here in the United States. Remember when she went all the way and won the U.S. Open in New York City again last year, she wore a face mask in memory and in tribute to the seven victims there. So that really has seen the transformation. And she's had to adapt to that. But this is a situation. She's made a big, bold statement of intent here by withdrawing from the French Open in Paris.

HOLMES: I'm curious, how are other athletes in tennis and other sports for that matter reacting to what's going on?

SNELL: Yes. And I think this does speak volumes as well. There's no question about that. We've had reaction from the world of tennis and beyond. Look, we have the NBA Superstar, Steph Curry. "You shouldn't ever have to make a decision like this but it's so impressive taking the high road when the powers that be don't protect their own. Major respect." The tennis great Martina Navratilova tweeting, "I truly hope she will be OK. As athletes, we are taught to take care of our body and perhaps the mental and emotional aspect gets short shrift. This is about more than not doing or not doing a press conference." And then we got this, this is interesting, from the 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, take a listen.


SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS SUPERSTAR: The only thing I feel is that I feel for Naomi. I feel like I wish I could give her a hug because I know what it's like. Like I said, I've been in those positions. We have different personalities. And people are different. Not everyone is the same. I'm thick, you know, other people are thin. So everyone is different and everyone handles things differently. So, you know, you just have to let her handle it the way she wants to in the best way that she thinks she can. And that's the only thing I can say. I think she's doing the best that she can.


SNELL: Serena Williams there, Michael. And, of course, it remains to be seen what happens next? What will be -- the impact be of Naomi Osaka taking a stance using her platform to great effect? Will change follow? We shall see. We're following it very closely, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. I know you are. Patrick Snell, thanks so much. Christine Brennan is the CNN Sports Analyst and Sports Columnist for USA Today. She joins me now from Washington now. Good to see you, Christine. But, you know, it is very sad to read about Naomi Osaka's, you know, her revealing this pressure, the depression, see her pull out of a tournament like this. Speak to the level of pressure athletes are under to perform. And, you know, in the Osaka situation, how does press scrutiny compound that?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Certainly attention of any kind on one's play, especially if it might not be your best day, can be difficult. We're talking about young athletes. Naomi Osaka is only 23. She's been around a while. She's won for Grand Slam championships, as you know, two Australian Opens, two U.S. Opens, but she's still young. And as she has told us with the statement that came out a few hours ago, you know, dealing with bouts of depression since she won that first major, the U.S. Open in 2018, which was the one with the Serena Williams meltdown with the chair umpire, so much emotion, so volatile, such a controversial first victory for her. She talks about how she wears headphones to just block everything out,

the anxiety that she feels. And, you know, let's face it, there are -- these young athletes are scrutinized. They're scrutinized often from teenage years onward. There is a lot of pressure, there's a lot of money to be made. It looks like a beautiful, wonderful life. It looks like the life of your dreams. And for some it is, and for many it is, but it also comes with pressure and attention and can be bouts of depression and difficult ups and downs.

HOLMES: It was very poignant when she wrote -- she said "I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes' mental health. And this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one." It really makes me sad to read that. I mean, do you think that the International Tennis Federation, as an organization, needs to do more for players when it comes to things like mental health, depression, and so on?

BRENNAN: I do. I do. I think this is going to open people's eyes to a conversation that we should be having. And if it also helps others because Naomi Osaka is such a role model to thousands, probably millions at this point, if it helps a young person, or two, or ten, or a hundred or a thousand, as they start to deal with and grapple with some of these issues then, oh, what a wonderful gift Naomi Osaka will have given even as she's struggling and dealing with these issues herself. We have no idea the extent, the depth of the issues that she's dealing with, and the troubles that she has.


But if it helps others, my goodness, as I said, what a gift as a role model. And, you know journalism, obviously I've been in those press conferences, I've asked tough questions of athletes. I think most of us have asked -- tried to be very heartfelt. And I think this will have us all thinking about that and aware of that. We're still journalists. We need to do our job. And the athletes by and large, of course, want us to be there. And Naomi has said that.

HOLMES: Right.

BRENNAN: She said there's so many cool journalists. Women's Tennis is known for having a great relationship with journalists. And let's hope that continues.

HOLMES: Yes, I did want to get this thing in a broader sense. I mean, we've seen also NBA players spit on, water bottles thrown. I mean, one player made the point that he felt athletes are just seen as performers, commodities, rather than, you know, individuals with the same issues and feelings as everyone else. I mean, Kyrie Irving in the NBA, he said some fans treat players like they're a human zoo. I mean, does he have a point?

BRENNAN: Yes. When we've seen some of the unrest and the trouble in these fans, even over the last few days in the NBA, it is troubling. It's very concerning. And I think what has happened is, we -- these athletes are on such a pedestal. They're -- they almost feel untouchable, unreachable, and we forget that they are human beings. And also the idea that we know them, right? There's so many -- someone screaming in the stands. And it's as if they know this person down on the field, on the pitch, on the court, wherever it might be.

Well, they don't know them. I covered them, and I know them probably better some of them, better than most people would and I don't know them. We (INAUDIBLE) percent -- percentage points of their entire life, you know, maybe five percent of their life. And so we don't know what they're going through. We don't know how hard it is. And the athletes now are starting to speak out and make this clear. And so yes, I think it's incumbent on fans, it's certainly incumbent on the media. And it's incumbent on the players themselves to have a conversation. And Naomi Osaka is, of course, leading us to that conversation.

HOLMES: Exactly. In a way as you said, you know, hopefully she's brought this out into the open and the conversation can be had. I wish we had more time. Christine Brennan, thanks so much. Great to see you.

BRENNAN: Michael, you as well. Thank you.

HOLMES: COVID cases may be relatively low in the U.K. right now. But one expert warns that could change. We'll have the latest on the virus when we come back. Also how Americans are honoring those who served and those who gave all for their country. When we come back.


HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


Large numbers of Americans have been hitting the beaches and ballparks and having backyard barbecues while enjoying the long holiday weekend. But this Memorial Day was a poignant day for many.

People from coast to coast remembering those who died in service of their country. The U.S. president honoring them during remarks at Arlington National Cemetery.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On this Memorial Day, we honor the legacy and the sacrifice. Duty, honor, country. They lived for it; they died for it. And we as a nation are eternally grateful.


HOLMES: And what a difference a year and vaccinations make. Airlines are poised for record-breaking holiday travel. Monday was expected to be the busiest day in America's airports since the start of the pandemic.

Americans also returning to movie theaters. Films like "A Quiet Place, Part 2" helped kick off the summer movie season. Overall box office sales could hit $100 million for the first time in more than a year. Alexandra Field picks up the story.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The comeback is big.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're ready to rock and roll, starting today!

FIELD: Americans from coast to coast are taking full advantage of the first nearly normal holiday we've had in more than a year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never thought that the shutdown was going to last that long.

FIELD: After so much time spent at home, AAA says 37 million people are expected to travel this weekend. Airports are clocking pandemic- era record numbers; 1.96 million passengers were screened at airports on Friday, according to the TSA. But today is poised to be the busiest air travel day yet.

STEPHAN KAUFER, CEO AND PRESIDENT, TRIPADVISOR: Travel is back. Half the people in America want to take a summer vacation domestically. Another quarter want to take an international trip.

FIELD: Miami Beach deployed extra police in anticipation of unprecedented crowds. California's beaches are also open this holiday weekend.

BOB ALFERA, SANTA MONICA RESIDENT: It feels very, very close to normal, and it's nice to see people really all in a good mood.

FIELD: Tonight's the night New Yorkers have waited for. The curfew lifts on indoor restaurants and bars.

The party is already on just outside of New Orleans, where 50,000 people turned out for this weekend's delayed Mardi Gras-style parade.

KELLEY CARTNER, JEFFERSON PARISH RESIDENT: It feels amazing. Like to be out here with family and friends, it's just amazing!

FIELD: And it's because of vaccines. More than 40 percent of Americans are now fully vaccinated. As of this holiday weekend more than 60 percent of adults nationwide have already received one dose of the shot, bringing us closer to President Joe Biden's goal: to get that number up to 70 percent in time for the next holiday weekend, July 4th.

And when it comes to children who have already been vaccinated, this summer promises to be better than the last. New CDC guidance says vaccinated campers don't need to physically distance or wear a mask.

(on camera): And in this country over the next few weeks, you will see a major push to try and make the president's July 4th goal. The strategy now centers on trying to conquer vaccine hesitancy where it exists and trying to make shots more convenient for people.

To that end, New York City deploying mobile vaccine units to crowded summer hot spots this holiday weekend, like right here in Central Park and to the city's beaches.

In New York, Alexandra Field, CNN.


HOLMES: Next on CNN NEWSROOM, international athletes have begun to arrive in Japan for the Tokyo Games. But with a country battling a fourth COVID wave, there are a lot of questions about whether Japan is ready to play host.


We'll have that and more when we come back.


HOLMES: Fifty-two days and counting until the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games, and with nine Japanese prefectures, including Tokyo, still under a state of emergency today for the next 3 weeks, the pressure is mounting hundred pan to get its COVID outbreak under control.

Olympians, meanwhile, have already begun to make their way into Japan, for the upcoming games. The Australian women's softball team -- the Aussie Spirit they're called -- flew into Narita just a few hours ago. They're among the first international athletes to travel to the games since the pandemic forced its delay.

CNN's Blake Essig is in Tokyo, covering the countdown to the Olympics for us.

I guess for weeks now, we've heard endless criticism and calls for the game to be canceled. I guess the arrival of those Aussies, the softball team, sends a message of it's on.

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Michael, it's great news for all those hoping that these games do actually take place this summer, other than the south Sudanese track and field team, who have been here since before the pandemic began.

Now, the softballers from Australia are the first team to arrive, further sending the message that these games will go ahead, just as the IOC and Japanese government had been saying for months.

Now while the team from Australia has been fully vaccinated, starting today, the vaccine rollout for Japanese athletes taking part in the Olympics is now underway.

Currently, more than two and a half percent of Japan's population is fully vaccinated. And only medical workers and people over the age of 65 are eligible.

Now, the decision to vaccinate athletes ahead of people who might be considered higher risk isn't sitting well with some medical professionals. Infectious disease specialists that I recently spoke to told me that holding the Olympics is like holding a festival in the middle of a disaster. He said that vaccines should not be given to host an event. Instead, they should be given to save lives.


Now regarding vaccines, the IOC says 80 percent of the people inside the Olympic village will be vaccinated, but that doesn't include the roughly 78,000 foreign delegates expected to travel to Japan for the games, and no word on where they'll stay or whether or not they'll be vaccinated.

In March, Pfizer did announce that they will be donating COVID-19 doses to Olympic participants, but so far, only 20 out of more than 200 counties or territories are expected to participate in that program. These are places where the vaccine is already approved for use.

For others, Pfizer says they're currently working to establish a central location where delegations can go to get vaccinated. And that really all kind of plays into that 80 percent number we keep hearing from the IOC, as far as the vaccination rate inside the Olympic village.

So the reality is, Michael, time is running out. There are only 52 days to go before these games are set to begin, and it takes five weeks after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine before you're considered fully vaccinated. So it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

HOLMES: Yes, absolutely. Yes, time is marching on.

Blake, got to leave it there, unfortunately. Blake Essig, live in Tokyo for us.

And thank you for watching, our international viewers. WORLD SPORT is coming your way next. For those of you here in the U.S., I'll be back with more news after the break.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!


HOLMES: U.S. House Democrats will meet in the coming day, and they could signal their next step in investigating the January 6th Capitol insurrection.

Senate Republicans have blocked a bipartisan probe. At least one Democrat calling on Joe Biden to appoint a presidential commission. A former top adviser to Donald Trump, meanwhile, facing backlash for

his comments at an event in Texas, where he appeared to endorse a coup in the U.S.

CNN's Brian Todd with the details.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Honestly, it's unbelievable, right?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man once at the right hand of the president of the United States, with open access to the Oval Office, who advised the president on the most serious matters of national security, now appears to say he thinks a coup, like the coup in Myanmar that killed hundreds, should happen in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know why what happened in Minimar [SIC] can't happen here.

MICHEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: No reason. I mean, it should happen. No reason.

TODD: Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who before he resigned, was briefly President Trump's national security adviser, said that in response to a question during a conference in Dallas this past weekend, a conference, attended by several followers of the QAnon conspiracy theories.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Flynn's comments are stunning, remarkable. They're scary, but in the world of QAnon, a possible coup in the United States, inspired by what is happening in Myanmar, that is something that QAnon followers have been talking about, basically, since Trump left office.

TODD: An attorney who has represented Flynn denies he was endorsing a military coup in the U.S.

At the Dallas conference, Flynn repeated the false claim that has fueled QAnon and other extremists since the November election and through January 6.

FLYNN: Trump won.


FLYNN: He won. So, what happened? What happened? Well, I'll use a military term. We were outmaneuvered.

TODD: In addition to believing the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, many of the QAnon movement's followers believed Trump would be reinstated as president on March 4 of this year, misinterpreting a law passed in the 1870s that gave Washington, D.C., its first municipal government, believing that turned America into a giant corporation, not a country. That every American president since then, until Trump, was fake. JULIAN FEELD, PRODUCER AND HOST, "QANON ANONYMOUS" PODCAST: They

essentially believe that Ulysses S. Grant was the last-American -- valid American president.

TODD: Monitors of extremist movements say Michael Flynn has become a hero to QAnon followers, whose core beliefs are that the government, media, and financial sectors in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a child sex-trafficking operation.

They've preposterously claimed that Hillary Clinton was part of sex trafficking rings; that Michelle Obama is a man; and that a storm is coming to sweep the elites from power.

BETH, QANON FOLLOWER: What's going to happen? At some point, there's going to be arrests, and that will include a lot of the lying media. And then there will be military type government.

TODD: Analysts are now concerned about the possibility of someone taking the suggestion of a coup literally.

BENJAMIN DECKER, ONLINE EXTREMISM RESEARCHER: Ultimately, we are one unstable person away from another possible act of domestic terrorism.

TODD (on camera): And again, a firm denial from Michael Flynn's camp. Attorney Sydney Powell, who has represented Flynn in the past, said that Flynn had, in no way, encouraged any act of violence or any military insurrection. But she did not explain why Flynn answered that particular question the way he did.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: France and Germany say they are seeking full clarity on a report that the United States spied on several top European politicians from 2012 to 2014 with the help of Danish intelligence.

One of those politicians was allegedly the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. She discussed the report Monday during a virtual conference with the French president, Emmanuel Macron. He said, if true, the espionage is unacceptable between allies.

New York City will elect a new mayor this year, and the field of Democratic candidates is incredibly diverse. Whomever wins this month's primary has their work cut out for them on issues including unemployment and rising crime.

CNN's Athena Jones looks into the combative race that is tightening in its final days.


ANDREW YANG (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I will be the people's mayor.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's crunch time in New York City's mayoral race.


ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: My entire life has prepared me for the moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be able to make things better for all of us.

JONES: The top eight candidates hitting the streets, vying for the Democratic nomination, one handshake at a time. In deep-blue New York, the winner of the primary is heavily favored to win in the fall.

The next mayor will face overlapping challenges in a pandemic-ravaged city, like a high unemployment rate, over 11 percent in April, and rising crime.

With just over three weeks to primary day, it's the more moderate contenders who are the perceived front-runners in what "The New York Times" calls the most consequential election in a generation.

YANG: Really new ideas!

JONES: A businessman running on hope and optimism, Andrew Yang benefits from name recognition after months on the national stage as a 2020 presidential candidate. And argues that, as a newcomer to city politics, he can shake things up.

(on camera): What do you say to critics who say you lack enough knowledge about how the city works?

YANG: If we just take the same people who have been rattling around the bureaucracy for years and years, that things aren't going to change the way that most New Yorkers both want and deserve.

JONES (voice-over): Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has held elected office in the city for years.

ADAMS: The next mayor must be someone who has gone through a lot to help people who are going through a lot.

JONES: A former New York police officer who was beaten by police as a teen, Adams joined the force to fight police brutality from the inside. A one-time Republican, Adams has focused much of his campaign on public safety and the economy.

ADAMS: We have to get our businesses back up and operating. New York used to be the Empire State. Now we're too bureaucratic, too expensive.


JONES: Kathryne Garcia touts her long resume in public service, most recently running the city's massive sanitation department. She got a boost after being endorsed by the editorial boards of "The New York Times" and "The New York Daily News."

GARCIA: We feel a lot of momentum.

JONES: A Garcia win --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm voting for you.

JONES: -- would make history.

(on camera): If you were to be the first woman to be elected to lead New York after hundreds of years, what you bring to the table there, as a woman?

GARCIA: Yes, and isn't it shocking that 50 percent of the population has never had an opportunity to sit in that chair, to bring our lived experience.

JONES (voice-over): On the left, a battle for the progressive vote shows no signs of consolidating.

MAYA WILEY (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Hello, sir. Maya Wiley. I'm running for mayor.

JONES: With civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley, nonprofit executive and former public schoolteacher Dianne Morales, and New York City controller Scott Stringer, a veteran of New York politics, each aiming to come out on top.

SCOTT STRINGER (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Ready on day one. Someone who has a progressive vision that has the skills to bring our city back from our greatest challenge.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to start with Shaun. Come on up.

JONES: Shaun Donovan, a housing secretary in President Obama's cabinet, and Ray McGuire, a former Citigroup executive --

RAY MCGUIRE (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: How are you doing? I'm Ray McGuire, running for mayor.

JONES: -- round out the crowded field, hoping to lead a comeback for the nation's largest city.

(on camera): And for the first time, New York City will be using ranked choice voting where voters can rank their top five candidates. It's a new system that allows for an instant run-off until one candidate gets above 50 percent, but it makes predicting the winner a challenge. And with just over three weeks to go, this is still anybody's race to win.

(voice-over): Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: Yet another incident of vicious violence against Asians in the U.S. Police say a 55-year-old Asian woman was attacked in New York's Chinatown Monday evening. She was just walking past outdoor diners when the suspect came up and just punched her in the face.

An arrest has been made, the woman taken to hospital.

Now, with attacks like that on the rise, some Asian-American communities are coming up with creative ways to protect themselves and make visitors feel more comfortable, as well.

Dan Simon shows us how these communities are turning their pain into anger and positive action.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is one of the oldest Chinatowns in North America, a distinctive cultural hub in the heart of Oakland.


SIMON: But recent attacks on businesses and pedestrians have caused foot traffic to wane, business owners say, with many stores shutting down early each day since the pandemic began, and racist, verbal and physical assaults on Asian-Americans grew.

DAVID WON, STARTED PATROL TO POLICE COMMUNITY: This is disappointing. This is our country, and this is where we grew up.

SIMON: So 59-year-old David Won, an Oakland native and financial services professional, decided to do something to protect members of his own community, becoming a part of a group to help restore a sense of safety along these iconic blocks.

WON: We want to make shoppers in the area feel safe, and we want to make business owners feel safe also.

SIMON: This all-volunteer foot patrol fans out across the neighborhood seven days a week.

WON: Probably two-thirds of the walkers are, you know, ladies in their 60s and early 70s. Probably the average age is probably 65 to 68 years old.


We try to -- to show our presence to try to make sure that individuals that might be out there, you know, don't try to commit any crimes.

SIMON: One study, using police data from 16 of the nation's largest cities and counties, shows reports of anti-Asian hate crimes up 164 percent from the same time last year.


SIMON: The surge could be even greater, because hate crimes against Asians are often under-reported. Similar foot patrols have expanded to other cities, including Seattle and New York.

In Oakland, there are now at least four different groups conducting patrols.

WON: At least on every patrol, there are people that say thank you for coming down. You know, we wouldn't be down here without you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it's very good patrol. And most of the clients say that they -- they feel safer to come in Chinatown and to come for haircut or (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SIMON: Business owners tell us in the few months since the foot patrols starts in February, they'd had a measurable impact.

JENNIFER CHEUNG, OWNER, NEW TIN'S MARKET: We just call, and they just come out, come to help. So the customers feel as -- more safe. So they just -- the business is coming back.

SIMON (on camera): And the group wants to make it clear that they're not a replacement for police. Their aim is to prevent crimes from taking place, and when they do see something ugly happen, to speed up the response team.

We talked to folks throughout here, and they seem to really welcome the additional presence.

Dan Simon, CNN, Oakland.


HOLMES: Thanks for watching, spending part of your day with me. You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter, @HolmesCNN.

Stay right here, though. The news continues after a quick break. We'll be right back.