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Justice Department Shares Video from Proud Boys Prosecution; New York Voters to Cast Their Ballots in Democratic Primary; Fauci Hits Back at Critics Who Say He Flip-Flopped on Masks; W.H.O. Official Slams Lack of Vaccines for Vulnerable People; UNESCO: Great Barrier Reef Should Be Listed as "In Danger"; Supreme Court Sides with College Athletes Against NCAA; First Active NFL Player Comes Out as Gay. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 22, 2021 - 04:30   ET






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: F*** you. F*** you ...

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Prosecutors have made it clear they believe this was a key moment as the pro-Trump crowd violently broke the police down to move further into the building. Now Mr. Donahoe is being held in jail, but he is seeking to be released. He has pleaded not guilty. And important to note these videos were only released after a coalition of media outlets including CNN sought access to the tapes and court proceeding, which had previously not been made public.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Legal analyst Elie Honig had this to say about the newly released videos and how prosecutors are using them in court.


ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They are highlighting who the defendants are, who are charged in this case. They're also trying to just establish straightforward truth here. I mean, look, there are strong evidence, there's smoking gun evidence, and then there is this. I mean, they are as guilty as we can see on that video. That is a straightforward as it gets.

And it is so important that the Justice Department collects this evidence and puts it out. Because there needs to be a record of this. And those people sure as heck do not look like tourists to me. They are all going to get convicted, I predicted. Most of them are going to go to prison. It's just a question on whether they flip on one another first.


CURNOW: Well Charles Donahue is not accused of entering the U.S. Capitol, but prosecutors say that he coordinated group chats and gave direction to others on January 6th.

And New York City Democrats will head to the polls today to cast their votes in the mayoral primary. They face a long list of candidates in the voting booth and a brand new way of casting their ballot. Here's Athena Jones.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the frenetic final days in the race to lead New York City --

ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I never had a doubt not one day that we were not going to win this.

JONES (voice-over): Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, whose scant public polling suggest is the frontrunner in the race, keeping the focus on public safety.

ADAMS: I'm not going back to the days where our babies were waking up to gunshots and not alarm clocks.

JONES (voice-over): Meanwhile, in a last-minute twist, two of the other leading Democratic mayoral candidates, former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and businessman Andrew Yang, making a series of campaign stops together.

KATHRYN GARCIA (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Today, Andrew Yang and I are campaigning together.

ANDREW YANG (D), NEW YORK MAYORAL CANDIDATE: So thrilled to be campaigning with Kathryn Garcia today.

JONES (voice-over): The push coming as voters make their picks under a new voting system that allows them to rank up to five candidates in order of preference. The method allows for instant runoffs if, as expected, no one in the crowded field wins more than 50 percent of first-choice ballots in the first round. And it means being someone's second or third choice could make a difference.

But while Yang has repeatedly asked his voters to rank Garcia --

YANG: If you support me, please vote for Kathryn Garcia also on your ballot.

JONES (voice-over): Garcia has declined to do the same.

GARCIA: Let me be very clear, I'm not co-endorsing.

JONES (voice-over): Still, their joint appearance drawing the ire of Adams and his supporters. One likening it to voter suppression.

Adams' campaign retweeting supporter Ashley Sharpton, daughter of Reverend Al Sharpton, who suggested the apparent alliance was aimed at disenfranchising black voters. And Adams saying --

ADAMS: They're saying that we can't trust a person of color or to be the mayor of the city of New York.

JONES (voice-over): Then responding --

YANG: I would tell Eric Adams that I've been Asian my entire life.

JONES (voice-over): Civil Rights lawyer Maya Wiley, who has emerged as the top progressive candidate in the field, also weighing in. Saying: Ranked choice voting -- or alliances formed from it -- is not voter suppression.

Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: And this new ranked voting system isn't the only curve ball in New York's mayor's race. It seems like voters are also struggling to just choose a favorite. Harry Enten breaks down the polling -- Harry.


HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Just look at the polls, the limited data that we have, right. Look at this, Eric Adams up at 24 percent in a recent Marist College poll, but that was taken a few weeks ago. Katherine Garcia, 17, Wiley 15, Yang 13, that's well within any predictive margin of error as I look back of historical accuracy of polls. So any of those four could come out on top.

But also take a look at this, let's put Adams' number in historical perspective. 24 percent for a top choice at this point in primaries with no incumbents running at the final polls, that is the lowest for any frontrunner in a Democratic primary dating back all the way to the end of the last century. Someone like Bill Thompson at this point was 49 percent. So 24 percent, awfully weak for a frontrunner.


CURNOW: Harry Enten there. Thanks, Harry.


Still to come on CNN, we'll find out how the World Health Organization is taking steps to make COVID vaccines more available on the African continent.

Plus, why a big battle is brewing over one of the world's great natural wonders, Australia's Great Barrier Reef.


CURNOW: Welcome back, I'm Robyn Curnow.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is fighting back against critics who say that he flip-flopped on wearing masks. In an episode of "The New York Times" podcast Sway, he explains why his opinion changed.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The people who are giving the ad hominems are saying, ah, Fauci misled us. First, he said no masks, then he said masks. Well, let's me give you a flash. That's the way science works. People who then criticize me about that are actually criticizing science. It was not a change because I felt like flip-flopping. It was a change because the evidence changed. The data changed.


CURNOW: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta defended Dr. Fauci's comments explaining how recommendations changed as this new data began to emerge.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The big thing that changed with regard to masks in this particular pandemic, was the realization -- something that never happened before, according to Dr. Fauci -- that this was spreading primarily -- this virus was spreading primarily asymptomatically. And that's when it became clear that look, you may not know that you have the virus, you may not have any symptoms, you may not have been able to get tested, you need to wear a mask because you could still be spreading the virus.

We didn't knew that at the beginning. Nobody knew that. You know, nobody had all the information about this in the beginning. But as we learned this, I think that that is why the recommendations changed.


CURNOW: And that was of course CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


Now some experts a calling COVID the forever virus saying it won't disappear because of its changing nature. Well for many former COVID patients, the same is true about symptoms and side effects caused by the virus. They're called long haulers and they have been left with medical issues long after their initial COVID infection.

One long hauler was Heidi Ferrer, a mother and Hollywood screen writer. After fighting constant pain, neurological tremors and other symptoms for more than a year, she died by suicide late in May. Earlier I spoke with her husband Nick Guthe who described her struggle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICK GUTHE, WRITER AND DIRECTOR: For her, it was multiple syndrome. She had the equivalent of excruciating diabetic neuropathy nerve pain in her feet that was virtually 24-hours a day. She said it felt like she was being stung by bees all day long. She had a lot of pain as well in her intestinal track. Digesting food was extremely painful. She had neurological tremors in her upper body and the vibrations within her chest caused by the neurological issues that kept her from sleeping at night. She said it felt like my chest is vibrating and I got like a fizzing feeling in my veins. And it was extremely distracting. And when you add on just the discomfort of not sleeping -- we all know what that feels like to get a bad night sleep. Well get 30 bad night sleep in a row and see how you feel with everything else.


CURNOW: Guthe and other long haulers are calling on the U.S. government to allocate resources to study post-COVID symptoms. The CDC says there just isn't enough data yet to know how many people it affects and how it affects them.

Well the World Health Organization is concerned over the lack of access that poorer countries have to COVID vaccines. They are planning to address the issue on the African continent by partnering with companies to boost vaccine production there. David McKenzie is in Johannesburg, South Africa, with more on this plan. David, hi. What is being suggested here and planned for?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Robyn, well it's certainly a long awaited move and it's made more urgent because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the stark inequality of vaccine access, vaccine production and even just technological know-how has been has really been made much worse by this pandemic or at least illustrated. Now what's happening is that there is a technology hub that's going to be started here in South Africa where messenger-RNA technology famously behind the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines will be shared from biotech companies with local companies to ramp up production and know- how.

Now the problem with this, is that it's a step -- as authorities at the W.H.O. said, Robyn, but it's just a first step.

It could be at least a year before vaccines roll off the pipeline. In the immediate few months, we are dealing here on the continent with very significant surge of COVID-19 while much of the rest of the world sees easing off because of vaccine availability. Some 40 percent increase in just the last week across the African continent. You have countries like here in South Africa, and particularly where I'm sitting in Johannesburg, dealing with a devastating third wave, Namibia, Uganda, other countries in east Africa. And that lack of vaccines is a real problem.

I put the question to the head of the W.H.O. Emergency Response what they're going to do in that short term. And he called the globe's response a catastrophic moral failure. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL RYAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, W.H.O. HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGRAMME: We have a very, very short window of time to get our most vulnerable protected. And we haven't done it. We have not used the vaccines available globally to provide global protection to the most vulnerable.


MCKENZIE (on camera): Dr. Ryan was specifically speaking about the Delta variant which he said is so far the most efficient variant of this virus. He said that vulnerable people in his words could be picked off if vaccines aren't widely available. And they are asking for those countries not just to share excess doses, but also to share doses before they vaccinate their young and healthy. Something probably unlikely to happen because we're not seeing an easing off of vaccine nationalism, but the overall impact on this pandemic will be devastating -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Thanks for that live report there from Johannesburg. David McKenzie, thank you.

So still ahead on CNN, college sport is certainly big business in the U.S. Why the Supreme Court says athletes haven't getting their fair share. We have that story.

Plus, a lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders makes history as the NFL's first active player to announce he is gay. How the league and others are reacting to his coming out.



CURNOW: Well a battle is certainly brewing over one of the world's great natural wonders and one of its most delicate and divers ecosystems. The UNESCO committee is recommending that the Great Barrier Reef be listed endanger due to climate change. But Australia is strongly opposed saying it spent billions of dollars to protect the reef and the country is appealing that recommendation.

Ivan Watson is following this from Hong Kong. Ivan, hi. Why is Australia pushing back on this?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is unusual, kind of a government like Australia taking aim at UNESCO with the environment ministry of Australia, accusing UNESCO of a back flip. And of surprising the Australian government by trying to put -- proposing to put the Great Barrier Reef on a list of endangered world heritage sites.

I think that everybody agrees that the Great Barrier Reef is a treasure. It's nearly 350,000 square kilometers in size, a marine habitat, immensely rich and diverse, bigger than Italy.

[04:50:00] And it has been on the World Heritage list since 1981. But its incredible coral forests have been dying due to the rising temperatures of the ocean. There were bleaching events in 2016, 2017 and 2020 that were killing off huge amounts of the coral and the habitat for all the marine life there.

UNESCO has downgraded the heal of the Great Barrier Reef from poor to very poor. And Australia has been working with UNESCO to try to preserve it. It's invested money in it. But evidently the Australian government does not like a formal endangerment categorization of the Great Barrier Reef. Such that the environment minister and the foreign minister of Australia called the director general of UNESCO and complained about it

And went on to say, quote: I made it clear that we will contest this flawed approach, one that has been taken without adequate consultation. I agree that climate change is the single biggest threat to the world's reefs, but it is wrong, in our view, to single out the best managed reef in the world for an in danger listing.

Environmental groups though have welcomed UNESCO's proposal and some of this has to do with this kind of tension in the Australian government. It's trying to save this environmental treasure but it is also a country that exports some of the most coal in the world and those exports are expected to grow over the next five years. And that directly contributes to global warming, to climate change, which is helping kill this treasure -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. Thanks for that Ivan Watson live in Hong Kong. Thank you, Ivan.

Student-athletes have just won a huge victory at the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices say they deserve more than a free education for their services and the decision wasn't even close as Jessica Schneider now reports -- Jessica.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court will allow schools to give money to athletes for education-related expenses beyond the free tuition and room and board that they already get. Including things potentially like computers or even scholarships for post-graduate study or maybe even paid internships.

So even though these are not direct cash payments or salaries for student athletes, this does amount to a tremendous breakthrough in the long running fight to get student-athletes paid.

And what's especially interesting here is the concurrence written by conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh. He talks about the fact that he believes the fight here is far from over. He says that there are serious questions about other restrictions the NCAA places on students making money and he slammed the organization's justification for those restrictions. Because the NCAA has argued that paying athletes would dilute their amateur status. They even say fans prefer student- athletes not get paid. But in the majority opinion, they said there wasn't much evidence for that assertion.

So Justice Kavanaugh writing: Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate. And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not above the law.

Justice Kavanaugh there pushing back on this idea that tradition and history should hamper the right of student-athletes to at least get some compensation especially when the NCAA and the colleges and coaches are making millions and millions of dollars every year.

The NCAA issued a statement saying while today's decision preserves the lower court ruling, it also affirms the NCAA authority to adopt reasonable rules and repeated notes that the NCAA remains free to articulate what are and are not truly educational benefits consistent with the NCAA's mission to support student-athletes.

But six states, they're taking matters into their own hands. On July 1st they'll allow student athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. And then there's California. That has a law set to take effect in 2023 that will allow athletes to sign endorsement deals.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


CURNOW: Well the sports world reacts to an NFL player's coming out. Plus a stunning upset in the Euro 2020 tournament. Don Riddell has our minute in sports.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Carl Nassib's historic announcement that he is gay, making him the first actively gay NFL player, has drawn praise and love from all corners of the sports community.

The NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell saying quote: The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth.

While the tennis icon Billie Jean King tweeted, quote: The ability to live an authentic life is so important. Representation and visibility matter.


The delayed Olympic games are now just over a month away and the organizers in Tokyo have announced that fans will be allowed to watch the action despite warnings from health experts about the perils of the coronavirus pandemic. Local fans will be allowed into the arenas, but attendance will be capped at 50 percent capacity or maximum of 10,000 people.

Meanwhile the games will be historic because a transgender athlete will be competing for the first time. New Zealand has selected the 43- year-old weightlifter Laurel Hubbard to compete. She will also be the oldest lifter at the games.

And it was a day of really high emotion at the European football championships where Denmark's 4-1 win against Russia carried them into the knockout round. The Danes were playing nine days after their star player Christian Eriksen had to be revived from cardiac arrest on the field. It still seems like a miracle that he survived. Mutual fans all over the world will be rooting for Denmark. Back to you.


CHURCH: And so social media Influencer, Mainer, is paying it forward to help youth in the LBGTQ community. Meredith Steele heard about a local waiter who's opening gay and was stiffed for tips multiple times. On one occasion diners left a church pamphlet instead. Steele is no stranger to gifting large amounts of money collected from her hundreds of thousands of online followers. She knew this was a perfect opportunity to do it again. But Steele ended up collecting more than she expected, so she and the waiter decided to share the wealth.


MEREDITH STEEL, SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER: When I gave the server his gift, I said to him I'd really like to use a portion of this to donate to Equality Maine. And they have a camp for teens. And the server was like, this is awesome. This is definitely something I support.


CURNOW: Using the remaining money, Steele sending 40 LBGTQ youth to a weeklong leadership camp.

Thank you very much for watching. Be sure to connect with me on Twitter and Instagram @robyncurnowCNN. "EARLY START" is up after this short break.