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Trump To Speak At GOP Event Months After Inciting Insurrection; NYT: Meadows Pressed DOJ To Investigate Election Fraud Claims; What Sparked The Government's Interest In UFOs; Interview With Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO); Disneyland Opens Avengers Campus After Year-Long COVID Delay; Herd Of Elephants Eating & Drinking Its Way Across China; Shoshone Falls By Kayak "Off The Beaten Path". Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 5, 2021 - 16:00   ET

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


[16:00:14]

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

In just a few hours, President Trump -- former President Donald Trump, we should say, is set to take center stage at a GOP convention. He will be physically in the state of North Carolina but mentally in a state of denial, increasingly, obsessed with his own 2020 election loss. A well-placed source telling me that he's been asking if he could somehow be he reinstated in the White House, this year.

Allies are trying to bring him back to reality, hoping he will move the ball forward, as Republicans approach the 2022 midterm elections. Good luck to them as they are dealing with a man who incited an insurrection over his bruised ego.

And today, we are getting even more information about just how far Trump and his cronies were willing to push the big lie. "The New York Times" is reporting that, during Trump's final weeks in office, get this, his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, repeatedly pushed the justice department to investigate unfounded conspiracy theories about the election, including the theory that people in Italy had used military technology in satellites to remotely tamper with voting machines here, in the U.S. and switch votes for Trump to votes for Joe Biden. That just seems as farfetched as anything could possibly be.

CNN's Martin Savidge joins me now, ahead of Trump, speaking tonight at the North Carolina GOP state convention in Greenville.

Martin, what are we expecting to hear out of the former president tonight?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the big question, isn't it, Jim? I mean, that's what's got the crowd here.

By Trump's standard, it's relatively small crowd, only about 1,200 people here. But here is the thing, this speech tonight is the first of what is expected to be a series of speeches and rallies that the former president is going to hold throughout the summer across the country. So, what you hear tonight is likely what you're going to hear a lot of, through the rest of that time in other places.

We know that allies and those who have been advising the president have been pressuring him, for weeks, trying to get him to simply let go of the loss of 2020, and to focus, more, on the future, to talk about the policy. Talk about the Republican issues that, they believe, will drive the party forward and will win back the House and Senate for Republicans. And maybe, in 2024, after the midterms, win back the White House.

The problem is, it appears that Trump hasn't been listening to the professional voices but has been listening to other voices that have been telling him, no, you need to stick and talk about that stolen election, which, we know, is not true and was not stolen.

The other issue here is that Trump doesn't like to talk about policies. He finds that boring. And as you know, Jim, when he gets in front of a friendly crowd. When he feels that base, he feels like he has to deliver the base, give them the red meat, that kind of speech and talk. And in this case, he might feel that he has to talk about stop the steal.

But the Republican leadership knows that's not how you win back the voters you lost in 2020. They are hoping for moderation. The truth is we'll find out in just a little bit -- Jim.

ACOSTA: We certainly will.

All right. Martin Savidge, thanks so much. Great to see you.

Matthew Dowd joins me now. He is the founder of the bipartisan group, Country Over Party, served as an adviser to the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign. He is author of the book, "A New Way: Embracing the Paradox as We Lead and Serve".

Matthew, about tonight, a guy who's been impeached twice, who incited a deadly insurrection, whose message is deemed to dangerous to be given a platform on Facebook, is going to take the stage in North Carolina at this GOP state convention.

Does tonight say more about the person speaking, or the audience?

MATTHEW DOWD, FORMER BUSH-CHENEY '04 ADVISER: I mean, I think what we -- what we, all, ought to focus on is it says more about the audience in the Republican Party today. I mean, the Republican Party and, lock, stock, and barrel, Donald Trump's party. Not only in sort of personality but in tone and substance.

They have adopted pretty much, wholesale, the big lie. They have adopted not investigating the January 6th insurrection.

So, I think, it says a lot about the Republican Party and who they are, today. Donald Trump is the most popular -- most popular Republican figure in the country, by far, more than any other Republican. So, it's who the party is. And I think that's what's so dangerous, today, about where that -- where one of our two legacy party stands in America, today. ACOSTA: And I want to get to this news that just came out today,

Matthew. "The New York Times" reporting that these newly-uncovered e- mails reveal that Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, pressured the Justice Department to investigate these unfounded- conspiracy theories about election fraud, including, this far-out theory that people in Italy used military technology and satellites to remotely tamper with voting machines in the U.S.

I mean, this is just bizarre, outlandish stuff. But it fits right in with this -- all these other cockamamie ideas that were advanced after Trump lost the election.

[16:05:01]

What's your reaction to this?

DOWD: Well, it doesn't surprise me. I think, every day, Jim, as you know, and as you have learned, every day, we learn more and more. That the Republicans will go to any lengths, and the Trump administration would go any lengths to sort of circumvent our democracy in this country. They will do anything.

It's an ends-justifies-the-means party. That's who they are. They will continue to do it.

The question is -- I think the fundamental question is, is us, either as Democrats, or us as independents or us, as Republicans, who still believe in the Constitution, will we hold them accountable? Will they be held accountable? Because in the end, it's only going to get worse if we don't hold them accountable.

And all of us in the country, I'm in Texas, anywhere else in the country, Atlanta, wherever it happens to be, it's up to the voters and it's up to us, individually, to finally say enough's enough. We're not going to put up with this anymore.

And to me, that's the only way the Republican Party will change. They have to suffer devastating losses to get out of this corrupt, incompetent place they are in. And it's the only way they'll change. They're not going to change because of what you say or I say. They are going to change when they suffer devastating losses.

ACOSTA: That's right but we still have to keep calling it out. I mean, there's just no question about it.

DOWD: Oh, absolutely.

ACOSTA: Yeah. But speaking of accountability, Facebook announced yesterday, it's banning Trump for two years. Some people might view that as not enough accountability. But Trump released an e-mail statement: No twitter, no Facebook. He has to resort to e-mail to get his message out, In which, he says, you know, this about dining with the Zuckerbergs in the future.

It's sort of a laughable quote but I will read it to you, says, Next time I am in the White House, there will be no more dinners at his request with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. It will be all business.

I mean, next time in the White House. I guess, that's like a pathetic attempt to tease us into thinking, oh, that's it, that means he is running. When it's just, you know, more nonsense.

DOWD: Yeah, it's nonsense but it's -- it's dangerous nonsense. As you know, every-other president that became a former president started to -- either didn't talk about things and let the current president act, or they helped build up America, in what our place was domestically and internationally. This president has done none of that.

And one of the things I find fascinating, which Republicans out to be concerned about is that this the only president in modern times, whose favorability rating which was already low, has dropped since he left office. Every other president, when they have either lost or left office, their -- their respect among the American people rises. Donald Trump has gone the opposite direction.

So, I mean, I think it's typical for this president to keep pushing delusional stuff. But the problem, in the end, isn't a delusional president and as I called him a mad king of Mar-a-Lago. It's the people that believe what he says.

And you're right, Jim. You're right. The press, you, me, we have an obligation to call it out, every day, that we possibly can. But there's still a segment of the country, a minority segment, that believes the crazy stuff he says.

ACOSTA: Yeah. And, you know, this is the -- this is the thing I really want wanted to get to during this segment, because you've been a Republican for a long time. Republican adviser, worked for Bush and Cheney. You know people, like Mike Pence. I'm sure you know Mike Pence fairly well.

The former-vice president was speaking at this Republican dinner in the early primary state of New Hampshire, obviously, trying to tease the potential for his own candidacy in 2024. And he said this. Let's play it, and we'll talk about it on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on that day. But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: It's remarkable, Matthew, because the reason why I prefaced the question the way I did is -- is that, you know, Pence sort of represents the establishment wing of the Republican Party. And it seems that the establishment wing of the Republican Party is incapable of knocking Donald Trump off the stage, incapable of taking the party away from him. And that -- that moment, that Mike Pence had the other night, just seems to be another example of it. DOWD: Well, I -- I agree. But, first, let me just say that, for him to

describe that like we don't agree about that day that happened is akin, to me, it's like Mary Lincoln talking with John Wilkes Booth saying it's okay if we don't agree what happened at the theater, right?

ACOSTA: Yeah, agree to disagree.

DOWD: I mean, as if it's a minor thing in occurrence, it was a blip on the radar.

I think the establishment of the Republican Party is foolhardy in thinking that they somehow can get past Donald Trump. The Republican Party is Donald Trump, as I said, in tone, substance, and manner. And Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney are not going to change the Republican Party. It is gone.

ACOSTA: All right. Matthew Dowd, great to talk to you and hope to have you back again, real soon.

[16:10:00]

Gave us a lot to think about and good to see you. We appreciate it.

DOWD: Thanks, Jim. You, too.

ACOSTA: All right. Coming up, unclassified. An inside look at a government report about UFOs and close encounters. No evidence of aliens but also no evidence that it's not aliens. I will talk to one of the biggest voices calling for information on UFOs. There he is, former Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. And we'll talk to him next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: How is this for a headline? The U.S. is not ruling out extraterrestrial activity.

Sources tell CNN the government in its first-ever unclassified report on unidentified flying objects says that while there is no proof of aliens, it cannot explain more than 120 incidents over 20 years of strange objects that have appeared in the sky.

Here is CNN's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that thing! It's rotating.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A U.S. Navy aircraft captured images of that rotating thing, back in January, 2015, off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look on the S.A.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My gosh. They're all going against the wind. The wind's 120 miles west. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that thing, dude.

KAYE: Also, in 2015, just a few weeks later, this happened. Watch, as a navy air crew struggles to lock onto a mysterious, fast-moving object off the Atlantic Coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa! Got it! Ha ha ha! Whoo hoo!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is that thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my gosh, dude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, what is that man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at it fly!

KAYE: Former Navy fighter pilot, Alex Dietrich, told Anderson Cooper about spotting a strange-flying object in the sky, back in November, 2004, off the coast of San Diego.

LT. CMDR. ALEX DIETRICH (RET.), FORMER U.S. NAVY F/A-18F PILOT: Enter stage left the Tic Tac. That's when we affectionately refer to it as because that's what it looked like.

KAYE: It was about the size of an aircraft fuselage.

DIETRICH: It was white and sort of matte finish just like a Tic Tac. And it behaved in a way that we were -- we were surprised, unnerved. It accelerated -- it almost didn't accelerate, right? It sort of jumped from -- from spot to spot and tumbled around, in a way that was unpredictable.

KAYE: Former Navy commander, David Fravor, was on the training mission with Dietrich and remembers how the object, quickly, maneuvered.

CMDR. DAVID FRAVOR (RET.), FORMER U.S. NAVY F/A-18F PILOT: Like a ping pong ball bouncing off the wall, the ability to hover over the water and then start a vertical climb from basically zero up towards about 12,000 feet. And then, accelerate in less than two seconds and disappear is something I had never seen in my life.

KAYE: So, what was it? The government won't say, or maybe doesn't know. For decades, the Pentagon's research into these close encounters has been kept under raps, along with the images and a now-defunct $22 million program designed to investigate UFOs.

So, what are we to believe about moments like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's getting close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Splash! Splash!

KAYE: Members of the U.S. navy captured that footage of an unidentified-flying object spotted off the coast of California in July, 2019, just before it vanished into the ocean. And with so few answers, extraterrestrials have become a favorite

subject for conspiracy theorists. With much of the focus on a highly- classified U.S. air force testing facility, in Nevada, known as Area 51.

Bob Lazar is the conspiracy theorist and former physicist who said he worked at the secretive government research site, Area 51. He said he was hired to reverse engineer a flying saucer buried there.

BOB LAZAR, SAYS HE WORKED AT AREA 51: This came from somewhere else. I mean, as bizarre as that is to believe but it's there and I saw it.

KAYE: Others have bought into his claims that the U.S. government buried extraterrestrial technology at Area 51.

LAZAR: It looks like sand. It's made to look like the side of the mountain it's in. Whether it's to disguise it from satellite photographs.

KAYE: So, until someone says, for sure, what's really out there --

TERRY MAUTH, SAW STRANGE OBJECT IN SKY: No sound. No blinking lights. Just this big, illuminated form.

KAYE: -- we'll be left, still, to wonder.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And joining me now is former Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. While in office, he secured the money for a now-defunct Pentagon program investigating UFOs. He's also been one of the loudest voices calling for the government to release this information about these close encounters in the sky, whatever these things are in the sky.

So, Senator, let me ask you this. This report apparently says there is no evidence these objects were alien spacecraft. But they are not ruling it out, either. Were you hoping for more from this report? I know I was.

HARRY REID (D), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I (AUDIO GAP) what they were going to come up with. And it wasn't going to be much and isn't much.

My take on this is that they should continue their research on this. Shouldn't be a one and done. I believe that one of the things I did, that I'm glad I did. I made a decision, because of my curiosity, that I thought we should find out.

What, if anything, there was to these UFOs. And that's when I went to Stevens from Alaska and Inouye from Hawaii and said I -- told them what I want to do. I want to spend some money to collaborate, collaborate what they were trying to find out.

And Stevens said, immediately, said when I want to do this, he said I was a pilot in World War II and something in the air off to my left. I would go up, down, around. Got low on fuel, came back down, landed. I asked air traffic what that was. They said we didn't see anything.

So, with the money that we got from the taxpayers, we found that -- a few dozen people saying they saw things like this. But we learned there were hundreds and hundreds of them. And so, even though my staff said stay the hell away from this. It was something I was bound to do. They said it would hurt me in my reelections. It didn't hurt me that much. I got re-elected.

So I think it's a good thing for the country. It's a good thing for the world. And the American people can accept the truth, whatever is the truth. We need to be transparent in everything we're doing in the government. Let the American people know what we're doing, scientifically and otherwise.

ACOSTA: And, Senator, I have to ask you because I know the folks at home will want me to ask this question. Do you believe that these UFOs are alien spacecraft? And is the government trying to cover it up?

You were the Senate majority leader, senator, for a long time here in Washington. What can you tell us about both of those questions? Do you think they exist?

(CROSSTALK)

REID: I do not know what they are. Yeah, I don't know what they are. No one does, to my knowledge, at this time.

But I -- that's why I say this task force that's going to report later this month should continue. We're not going to solve all the questions we have in a few weeks. We need to continue working on it.

This is something that is interesting. It's important for the country. And it could be important to the world.

ACOSTA: And in that report, Randi Kaye referenced Area 51 which you actually got to visit when you were in office. What can you tell us about what you saw there? These questions about whether things are buried there? What did you see?

REID: Let me tell you here -- here is my most graphic memory. I go. There was -- they had a ranch -- not a ranch. It was kind of basically on weekends, and have picnics and barbecues.

So one weekend, they go up here and there -- there's military police. Their property's barred off. And so, what's -- what's this?

Well, the reason they did that is so in that property of theirs, they could look down Area 51 and that was the end of their weekend trips to their -- their property. So, I -- knowing Area 51. I have been there quite a few times. Saw some really interesting things. Much of it is, still, classified.

But I remember looking at Soviet helicopter that had been from some place we got. They also had a stealth helicopter they were working on and was classified. So a lot of things went on at Area 51.

It was just a short distance from there that we had the stealth fighter (INAUDIBLE) fighter plane. People learn to fly, our airmen learn to fly there because Soviet satellites would come over during the daytime and, of course, they could -- they could see everything down there. So we did it at nighttime, so the Soviets couldn't see what we learned, what we were doing.

And what they were doing is learning to fly these new airplanes. They did it all at night. Everything they did in pitch darkness. So, it was very interesting.

Area 51 is important to the security of this country. It still is and has been for many decades.

ACOSTA: And I am sure you have seen that Joe Manchin has been back in the news. The senator from West Virginia who you know well. There is all of this talk about whether he is -- and, you know, folks like him, standing in the way of -- of reforming or getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate.

What -- what do you think should be done, at this point? We saw the January 6th commission knocked down, even though there were well more than 50 votes to approve that. Is it realistic to find 60 votes for much of anything, these days? What use is the filibuster?

REID: I wrote an op-ed for "The New York Times" several months ago, where I said the filibuster's on its way out. It's not a question if, it's a question when it goes away.

You cannot have a democracy, whether it takes 60 percent of the vote to get everything done. Republicans created the Senate when they were in charge was only a manufacturing site for new judges. So, it's going to go away. It takes a simple-majority vote. I proved, when I was the leader, we wanted change much of what we need went from a supermajority to just a simple majority.

And it was the right thing to do, at the time. And now is the time to get rid of the filibuster.

[16:25:02]

And as I said, and I repeat, it's going to go away. It's a question of when. It's not good for the country. It's not in the Bill of Rights. It's not in the Constitution. Something Congress felt, Senate developed on their own. It's got to go away.

ACOSTA: All right, Senator Reid. You have given us a lot to think about this afternoon. Great to see you, as always.

And maybe, we get more from this task force, we'll have you back on so we can discuss this further. Appreciate your -- your curiosity in the subject of what's -- what's out there. We want to find out, too.

REID: Thank you very much, Jim.

ACOSTA: Thank you.

REID: And coming up. Senator John Hickenlooper sings us a song. Yes, a song, about voting rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-CO) (singing): I'm just a bill, yeah, and I'm sitting here --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:30:17]

ACOSTA: The insurrectionist-in-chief is back in the news this week. You remember Donald Trump and his motley crew. Or is that motley coup?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNEY POWELL, ATTORNEY: It should be that he can simply be reinstated. That a new inauguration date is set.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Wasn't just the likes of Sidney Powell. Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared to endorse a military coup, like the one in Myanmar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know why what happened in Min-a-Mar can't happen here.

GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP: No reason. I mean, it should happen. No reason.

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: It's Myanmar, not Min-a-Mar. Myanmar. Never mind.

Flynn has since backtracked on this. But Trump has been stirring this pot for weeks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's going to be a very interesting time in our country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be.

TRUMP: Going to be a very interesting time. You understand what that means. Because it will be -- you know, I

mean, how do you govern when you lost? How do you govern when you lost?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Sounds like he wants to get the old mob back together again.

But hold on. As for this notion that Trump could resume the presidency, one Trump associate told me, advisers have been stressing to him it's not happening.

Another Trump adviser said Trump is, quote, "desperate for attention these days."

Speaking of desperate, I also spoke -- spoke with Mike Lindell, the MyPillow guy, who has been spreading this nonsense that Trump will be back in office in August.

Lindell claims Trump got the idea for -- from him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE LINDELL, CEO, MYPILLOW: All the evidence I have, everything, is going to go before the Supreme Court. And the election of 2020 is going bye-bye.

Donald Trump will be back in office in August.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Lindell was recently on Jimmy Kimmel. It did not go well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": Do you really understand this stuff?

LINDELL: Yes, absolutely.

KIMMEL: Like, what does -- do you know what an I.P. Address is?

LINDELL: Yes, I.P. And then we have the I.D.s. Now we --

(CROSSTALK)

KIMMEL: What does I.P. Stand for? Do you know?

LINDELL: I don't know what it stands for.

KIMMEL: I think that you should know what I.P. stands for, if you have evidence --

LINDELL: It's where the computers are at. Wherever the I.P. address is of the computers. I mean -- I mean --

KIMMEL: So, you are not an expert when it comes to this stuff?

LINDELL: You don't have to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Don't have to be.

Want to hear the sad thing? Lindell told me Trump called him after that appearance to tell him how well he did. It's almost like Trump wishes he had been on Kimmel. Sad.

But not as sad as the man, the mob wanted to hang on January 6th, letting Trump off the hook.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, you know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on that day.

But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Don't see eye to eye? Agree to disagree. On an insurrection?

What makes this so dangerous is that this could happen, again. Just listen to what some Trump supporters are saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETH, TRUMP SUPPORTER: It's going to be like Myanmar. What's happening in Myanmar. The military is doing their own investigation. And at the right time, they're going to be restoring the republic with Trump as president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: It's Myanmar. Anyway.

Now, Lara Trump said on FOX she doesn't know where this reinstatement stuff is coming from.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARA TRUMP, DAUGHTER-IN-LAW OF DONALD TRUMP: As far as I know, there are no plans for Donald Trump to be in the White House in August. Maybe, there's something I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Thank goodness. Because there's no mechanism for Trump to get reinstated. That is delusional. If Trump really believes he will be back in the White House this

August, he should get help.

You are not well, sir. You need to get over this.

Same goes, for the GOP. It's as if much of the Republican Party is trapped in a Jimmy Buffett tune.

Wasting away again in Mar-a-Lago-ville, looking for that next election to assault. Some people claim that there's an orange man to blame, but I know it's my own damned fault.

[16:35:01]

Hey, I was thinking about Bedminster Rhapsody, oh, Marjorie, oh, Marjorie, oh let me go. But I digress.

Listen, Trump's life, it's like a country-music song. He's lost the House. He's lost the Senate. He's lost the White House. His Web site. If he had a dog, the dog would leave him, too.

If you're Trump, why not let America's democratic institutions burn?

But perhaps, what we are witnessing, these days, is more of a slow- motion coup.

Some 14 states have enacted 22 new laws making it harder to vote since Trump lost.

The sham audit of the votes continues in Arizona. Some Pennsylvania Republicans flew there to get a closer look.

In Texas, the GOP wants to revive their restrictive-voting bill.

More than 100 scholars said it best, this week. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake.

History will judge what we do at this moment.

Please, no more elections to assault. If it happens again, it will be our own damned fault.

Joining me, now, is Democratic Senator John Hickenlooper, of Colorado. He is co-sponsor of the "For the People Act," a bill that would help counterbalance the voting restrictions Republicans have passed at the state level.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us this afternoon.

A version of this bill has already passed the House. But it faces steep odds in the Senate.

How are you going to get this across the finish line, especially with the filibuster there?

SEN. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-CO): Well, I think we just have to keep working to try and get to 60 votes.

And I think that entails a lot of listening. Active, hard listening, and trying to hear what their real concerns are. And see if we can find some middle ground and get to that magical 60-vote threshold.

ACOSTA: And you -- you heard what's happening with this Arizona sham audit. And some 14 states have already enacted these laws to make it harder to vote.

This is -- this is sweeping country right now. There are many-more bills being debated across the country.

If this is our democracy at stake, shouldn't Democrats ditch the filibuster? What do you think?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, I -- I, certainly, agree that -- that having less people vote makes our democracy weaker. And when we can get more people to vote, our democracy is stronger.

And I think that's got to be the -- the holy grail that we're going towards. That's what we are trying to achieve.

I think it's a little too early to give up on the filibuster, yet.

You know, we have gotten a lot of examples of bipartisan success. The -- the Asian-Pacific -- and Pacific -- the Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander Hate Bill was strongly bipartisan.

When we rolled back Trump's rollback of the methane regulations, that was bipartisan.

I think voting integrity is crucial to our democracy. And I think that once we sort through some of the differences, there might be a way to get 60 votes.

ACOSTA: And tomorrow marks five months since the capitol insurrection. And yet, former President Donald Trump is being welcomed back to the stage in North Carolina. He is going to be doing rallies all summer.

Tonight, he will, no doubt, repeat this big lie that the election was stolen.

What do you say to your Republican colleagues who are sticking by this president? What -- what do they say to you?

HICKENLOOPER: Well, again, they don't discuss it. And I think each person is making their own political decisions.

You know, this is a free country. Donald Trump's going to be able to go out and do rallies and -- and he's going to promote, you know, what we call, the big lie, this notion that he somehow -- somehow is magically going to -- or actually did win the election.

He didn't. We all know that. There were no serious voter problems in any of these contested states. And yet, he is going to go out and same the same, old nonsense. This is how demagogues have always tried to operate. Lay out a whole

array of -- of untruth and -- and misinformation and hope people begin to get mesmerized by it. But I don't think it's going to stick.

And I think, right now, as you were just saying, I think he -- he's desperate for attention.

ACOSTA: And you're searching for bipartisanship in some new and interesting ways.

Senator, we shared a little preview in the tease a few moments ago of you showing off your banjo skills with a song about the "For the People Act."

Can we ask for an encore? What can you do for us?

HICKENLOOPER: I will do the best I can. I'm warning you, I am not a banjo player.

ACOSTA: It's all right.

HICKENLOOPER: The song goes like this. I'm just a bill, just a regular bill. And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill. There's a bill here in the Senate called "The People Act." It gives power to the voters and not a corporate tax. This bill will make it easy for voters to have their say. So let's make elections fairer and pass S-1 today.

[16:40:32]

ACOSTA: Senator, I think you sold yourself short. That was terrific. That was great. Well done. We appreciate -- and you did it live, too.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was not taped. This was done live. We put the Senator on the spot. And he brought back Schoolhouse Rock in a new and interesting way there.

We will see if that bill keeps sitting up there on Capitol Hill, though, Senator Hickenlooper.

Thanks so much for joining us, this afternoon. And maybe, we'll bring you back for an encore, real soon. We appreciate it.

HICKENLOOPER: When we pass the bill. Exactly.

Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: There you go. Sounds good.

Thanks, Senator.

All right. Coming up, Avengers assemble after a year-long delay because of COVID. Disneyland's brand-new campus is open to the delight of superhero fans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:20]

ACOSTA: After a year-long delay caused by COVID restrictions, the new marvel superhero-themed Avengers campus is finally home at Disneyland.

But with capacity limits still in place and reservations required to get into the park, this is not your normal Disney-style opening.

Our Paul Vercammen is outside the park and joins me now.

Paul, I hope doing this live shot means you get access to this exhibit. This part of the park. Because I'm sure it's really popular.

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: Tell us about it.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We -- we got some video for you, Jim.

ACOSTA: Good. All right.

VERCAMMEN: We shot some the other day. They are not letting the media in today.

We should note, though, it's crucial that this Avengers campus is a success because Disneyland is the economic engine that drives this part of Anaheim in Orange County. And so, there's a lot of anticipation.

As you pointed out, not everybody can get in. Because we are still in the tiered system in California.

But on June 15th, they will open up Disneyland more. And out-of-state visitors can then get into the park.

And we are seeing teens start to flock here.

Now, you may have seen the CDC is saying they are seeing an uptick in hospitalizations for COVID-19 regarding teens. And we talked to two of them about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AHLZUA BONDOC, DISNEYLAND VISITOR: I feel like, we should still start going out more because we've been trapped in our houses all -- for the past couple months.

VERCAMMEN: Do you keep your mask on?

BONDOC: Yes.

VERCAMMEN: And what about for you?

ENCAR CRUZ, DISNEYLAND VISITOR: Same thing with her. I feel like people should still have their mask on due to, like, the COVID. Vaccinated or not, I feel like you should still have your mask on. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: So the CDC recommending teens get vaccinated. Many of them, undoubtedly, will flock to the Avengers campus.

And while I'm not a teen, I am rather immature. And here's what it looked like inside.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(CROSSTALK)

VERCAMMEN: Lots of high-tech wizardry here. But some of the effects are just old-school optical illusions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VERCAMMEN: So, that floor was flat as the sidewalk behind me. There's a lot of opportunities, in this Avengers land to take these selfies.

ACOSTA: So cool.

VERCAMMEN: And what we've seen from getting inside is there is also a lot of opportunities to interact with those Avengers characters.

Reporting from Anaheim, I'm Paul Vercammen.

Now, back to you.

ACOSTA: Paul, in my next life, I want to have this job, where I get to go to theme parks and do these segments.

What was that V.R. ride like? I saw you doing a Spiderman V.R. ride. That looked incredible.

VERCAMMEN: It was just great fun. You are able to sort of move your arms. You sling webs, if you will.

They use this system, where they capture your movements. I think, I believe, 60 movements per second.

And then, when they trace those, they can get a sense for what it would be like if you were slinging the web at these spider bots that have run amok. And the idea is that you catch them.

That was tremendous. And it was also great fun seeing Spiderman and others running around the campus.

No doubt, it's the type of magnet that Disney wants to lure people here and get back on its feet, completely, economically.

Back to you -- Jim?

ACOSTA: Looks like a lot of fun. All right. Paul Vercammen, thanks so much. Great to see you.

[16:48:53]

A herd of elephants, in the meantime, has been traveling across China. Take a look at this. Stealing food and getting drunk. No, this is not a joke. The wild story is next.

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[16:53:46]

ACOSTA: There are 15 elephants traveling across China. But no one knows why. This herd has traveled more than 300 miles from a nature preserve in southwest China.

They have been walking for more than a year. And experts have no clue where they're going, or why.

Asian elephants get some of the strictest animal protections in China and it sure seems like the herd's caught on.

They have eaten crops, truckloads of food. Accidentally gotten drunk off stored grains. And so far, caused at least $1 million in damage. Oh, my goodness.

This is the longest-recorded movement of elephants in China. And there's no sign of them stopping.

But just amazing pictures there. And I hope they are going to be OK, wherever they're going.

In the meantime, Idaho's Shoshone Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the U.S. In this week's "OFF THE BEATEN PATH," we kayak right up to the falls' breathtaking splash zone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL MELNICK, OWNER, AWOL ADVENTURE SPORTS: The Shoshone Falls have been nicknamed the Niagara Falls of the West.

Most people see the falls from the observation deck. But a very unique way to see the falls is to kayak to the base of them.

Kayaking up in the Snake River Canyon is an absolutely beautiful adventure, upon itself. You will be passing along a bunch of waterfalls that are cascading hundreds of feet down the canyon rim.

[16:55:00]

Along the way, you will pass underneath the Prime Bridge. You will get to see base jumpers from around the world that are parachuting down to the southside of the canyon. This is the only place in the country where you can legally do it.

Halfway there, we come across Pillar Falls. And in my eyes, Pillar Falls is our true hidden claim to fame down here in the canyon.

The way the river is cut through the rocks over the centuries and it's constantly changing channels, making new pools, it truly is a wonder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We usually come down here just to get a nice little hike in, get a good exercise. But it's beautiful, as you can see. Can hike out on it.

The water's refreshing, if you want to take a little dip.

MELNICK: When you get around the corner and the falls come into view for the first time, it's absolutely breathtaking.

This is how you see Shoshone Falls!

You feel it in your chest. The fall is thundering over. You can feel the spray. It is an absolutely beautiful and unique experience.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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