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Search for Survivors Intensifies 60-Plus Hours After Florida Condo Collapse; Derek Chauvin Sentenced To 22.5 Years For George Floyd's Murder; In CNN's "Cross Exam," Legal Analyst, Elie Honig, Answers Viewers' Legal Questions. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired June 26, 2021 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:23]

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington, joined by Wolf Blitzer in Surfside, Florida, at the scene of that deadly building collapse.

We'll go to Wolf in a moment but first, breaking news, official say fire smoldering deep in the rubble of a collapsed building in Florida is making the search for survivors incredibly difficult. It's now been 60 hours since the condo in surfside came crashing down in the middle of the night, and the numbers sadly have not changed. Four dead, 159 people unaccounted for. And the big question, why?

What we have learned is that three years ago, an engineer warned of major structural damage at the complex. And now there are concerns about the condo's sister building just a block away. The Surfside's mayor says residents there should evacuate out of an abundance of caution.

But what a heartbreaking scene as families wait for word of loves ones as first responders bring in heavy machinery and dogs to sniff through the debris. Officials say they're not giving up hope that they'll find survivors.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer joins us from Surfside.

Wolf, this is just a heartbreaking scene. The big news today that an engineer warned three years ago that there were major structural problems at this complex. Wolf, what do you see down there on your end of things?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: What you see when you get here, Jim, is so much worse than you can even imagine with the pictures, because you see that rubble, it is so, so heartbreaking, just to wonder what happened and why it happened. It's heartbreaking all around. Very, very sad.

And I suspect things are about to get even worse as we watch what happens in the coming hours. Experts are cautioning that it may take months, months to know what happened here. Back in 2018, managers were urged to make repairs. We understand that work was about to get under way. We're going to have much more on that coming up in a few moments. But first, let's get an update on the search efforts. A wall honoring

the 159 people still missing has now been set up. Officials urge families to keep the faith, still hoping that there will be a miracle here. So many people are praying for that miracle.

CNN's Randi Kaye is on the scene for us here in Surfside.

Randi, is there any hope of finding survivors? I know you're speaking to all the experts over there. What are researchers doing to try to locate survivors?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're not losing hope, Wolf, that's for sure. I mean, even with all the obstacles in their way, including a deep, burning fire at the site, at that pile of rubble. That has been burning for some time now. There were fires yesterday. The building, when it shifts, it tends to create small fires.

Now they're dealing with a pretty deep one in that building. It's hampering the search and rescue efforts, unfortunately, which, of course, is frustrating the families and rescue teams. It's spreading laterally, so they're trying to isolate it. They're battling it with foam, water, and infrared technology. They've dug a trench to search for survivors while staying away from the fire.

As you mentioned, the numbers have not changed -- still four dead, 159 unaccounted for. That other evacuation they're now talking about at the sister building of this condo building that collapsed, that would be the north tower, it really -- it was built around the same time. It was built by the same developer, using the same materials. So the mayor here in Surfside is very concerned. He thinks it should be evacuated so they can do a full structural investigation of that building and make sure it's safe, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, they have to err on the side of caution right now.

Randi, I know we're learning more about this building, what was a 12- story condo building, the history and the concerns that it wasn't structurally sound. Tell us about that.

KAYE: Right, we're talking about this three-year-old structural field survey report which was done back in 2018, certainly raising a lot of red flags, including structural damage. It cites sizable cracks in the concrete slab below the pool. It talks about crumbling in the parking garage.

We know that the rescuers were looking for survivors in that parking garage, abundant cracking in the parking garage, concrete columns, beams and walls, and also previous inspections as failing. That's important, Wolf, but nothing in this report indicates that this building was at risk for collapse or facing imminent collapse, I just want to make a note of that. And the Surfside mayor is saying it's unclear what steps were taken to actually handle those cracks, Wolf.

[15:10:09]

BLITZER: Yeah, but they've got to err really on the side of caution, at least right now.

Randi Kaye, we're going to get back to you.

CNN's Brian Todd has more on the clues that investigators are chasing as they try to determine the cause of the collapse.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Structural engineers and other experts now scrambling to find answers as to how this collapse could have occurred, in an area with some of the strictest building codes in the world.

PROF. SHIMON WDOWINSKI, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY: It's very unusual to see a building collapse like in this way. It reminds me of building in countries where they have the earthquakes and constructions is not in good conditions.

TODD: Professor Shimon Wdowinski of a Florida International University released a study last year that said 40-year-old building, the Champlain Tower South had been sinking or subsiding as he calls it at a rate of about 2 millimeter as year between 1993 and 1999.

WDOWINSKI: It's not clear if the land was moving or the building was moving into the land, but it was -- obviously, the building itself moved very small portion which is about over the measurement period of six years is about half an inch.

TODD: Wdowinski said that sinking didn't occur in buildings around that complex. He said the sinking alone likely would not have caused the building to collapse. But experts say it could be associated with tension and possible cracks inside the structure. Local officials say there was roof work being done on the building. They're careful to say that may not be the cause of this disaster but experts say it could have been a contributing factor.

KOBI KARP, ARCHITECH: Collusion effects of potentially working on the roof, potentially the non-maintenance of certain parts of the building where the connections could come together fail and create a pancake effect that happened.

TODD: The location and climate of that area experts say also have to be considered.

KIT MIYAMOTO, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Especially the corrosion of the steel as you notice is right next to the ocean, and also the area collapse is the ocean side, right? That's where usually the corrosion is. So corrosion of the reinforcement will compromise the capacity of column. If the column fails, everything fails essentially.

TODD: An attorney for the condo residence association says over the past several months, the building had undergone what he called thorough engineering inspections in preparation for its 40-year certification.

KENNETH DIREKTOR, ATTORNEY FOR CONDO ASSOCIATION: Nothing appeared either to the engineers or to any of the residents that would suggest anything like this was imminent, nothing.

TODD: Experts say it make take several months before we know the real causes. And as for the possibility of one smoking gun --

ATOROD AZIZINAMINI, FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING: Usually, a collapse like this doesn't happen just because of one factor. Usually, it's several factors is combined and like a perfect storm.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (on camera): And we've learned a class action lawsuit has been filed against the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, accusing that group of, quote, failures to secure and safeguard the lives and property of condo unit owners. The suit seeks in excess of $5 million in damages cites a statement from the association's attorney, Kenneth Direktor, who said that repair needs had been identified but had not been completed.

In response to the lawsuit, Direktor said he doesn't know and engineers don't know with certainty what caused the building to come down, so, quote, how is it that this lawyer knows with certainty what caused the building to fall down?

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you very much.

For the families of the missing, this is truly an agonizing time. Right now, there's nothing they can do but wait. They can hope, they can pray, as the search teams comb through this horrible rubble.

Joining us is Josh Spiegel. His mother, 65-year-old Judy Spiegel, is among the 159 people still unconcluded for.

Josh, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for being with us during this very, very difficult time.

How are you and your family doing right now?

JOSH SPIEGEL, SON OF WOMAN MISSING AFTER CONDO COLLAPSE: Thank you for having me. It's been a very big struggle. We're all heartbroken, and we're praying, praying that we get to see my mom again. It's been devastating. And we just are trying to stay as positive as possible.

BLITZER: I know your dad was out of town when this collapse occurred. He of course rushed immediately back. He told CNN your mom was the glue that kept the family together. What do you want people to know about your mother?

SPIEGEL: I mean, absolutely, she was. She was the type of person that literally called me and my brother and my sister multiple times every day, would drop everything to talk to us, do literally anything for us. She was -- sorry, she is the absolute best person in the world. She was philanthropic, across the country and all the places we've lived. She loved music. She's a very big Barbra Streisand fan and Beatles

fan. She loved music. I would go with her to concerts all the time. We shared that love.

And I just want everyone to know -- and everyone that knows her, knows everything I'm saying is just barely an inch of the miles and miles of love that she shares with everybody.

BLITZER: Yeah, I've heard you, your dad, your brothers, your sister, talk about your mother and she obviously is such a wonderful, wonderful mother and she's also a wonderful grandmother too, right?

SPIEGEL: Oh, absolutely. I have three nieces, and they're absolutely beautiful. My mom, their grandma, love them so much, and continue to. And you -- looking at some of the pictures of my mom with the kids is -- you could just see how happy she is every single minute of every day.

BLITZER: Yeah, before the collapse, did your parents have any concerns about this building where I am? Because we're hearing about this report that there was some cracking, crumbling of the columns, the beams, the walls, on the parking garage under the building. Did anything -- where there any concerns expressed by your mom or your dad for that matter?

SPIEGEL: I don't think that the gravity of what's coming out of those reports now was ever really given to the tenants. Little things that you look back on now, that even I noticed when I would visit, is like a little bit of water in the garage. And -- but I don't think anyone really understood or knew about how severe these reports are.

BLITZER: Last night, the mayor here in surfside expressed hope that survivors would still be found, that these search and rescue teams have seen people pulled out of the rubble after more than a week goes by. I assume that gives you at least some hope.

SPIEGEL: My whole family is full of fighters and my mom was the strongest of us all. And we're not going to stop until we get her back with us.

And while I understand the gravity of the situation and how literally every second, the clock is ticking -- like, I'm a doctor, I'm a surgeon, and I've done a lot of trauma and burn surgery in my residency, and I understand that every second is precious. And we're trying to do everything possible to spread the word to help my mom, tell everyone who she is, and if anyone can add additional help for us to find her, that's all I ask.

BLITZER: Well, we're praying together with you, Josh, and your wonderful family. I wish we were meeting under different circumstances, Josh. Thank you very, very much. We'll continue this conversation with you and your family. Our hearts go out to you. Thank you so much for joining us.

SPIEGEL: Thank you, Wolf. BLITZER: And to our viewers, for more information on how you can help

the victims of the Surfside building collapse, go to CNN.com/impact, CNN.com/impact.

Up next, we'll speak to a man who was staying at the hotel right next door when this condo building came crashing down. Much more of our special coverage. We're live here in Surfside, Florida. We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:19:00]

ACOSTA: Back now to our breaking news in Surfside, Florida. You're looking at fresh chopper video coming into CNN from our affiliate, WPLG, of the building collapse. Search and rescue teams are working around the clock to find any sign of life after the collapse of that 12-story condo building. One man who was staying at a hotel right across the street describes the absolute horror that he witnessed.

Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL GROVES, WITNESSED CONDO COLLAPSE: This is our hotel. I hope these people -- I mean, there's no way. Look at this. Why are these people still in our hotel?

Oh, my gosh, what a mess in here now. The scariest thing. I thought a tornado literally hit. They just said, no, the building is gone. Oh, my word. Oh, my word.

[15:20:03]

Oh, my word.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And the man who shot that video, whose voice you just heard, is on the phone with me now.

Daniel Groves, thank you so much for speaking with us. You were in Florida on a family vacation to celebrate your son's birthday, and then you captured that stunning footage.

Let's start from the beginning. What was going there your mind at the moment you realized what was happening?

GROVES: Honestly, I was just -- I mean, we -- that video is probably six minutes after the building -- maybe a couple of minutes after the building collapsed. My thing was, I was showing my family what was going on, in case we lost cell service. I was recording video for my family to let them know what was going on at that moment. I don't know -- I shot everything all at once.

ACOSTA: And could you hear it collapse? GROVES: Oh, absolutely. So I was on the second floor, right by the

pool, in the middle of this Solaris hotel, right beside it. I was in the second floor, I mean, literally dead asleep, it's 1:20 in the morning, my wife and I were sleeping. It literally sounded like a bomb going off, the loudest thing I had ever heard in my life, from a dead sleep. The whole building shook.

I felt like we were in the worst earthquake in my life. I immediately, we're talking about 15 seconds, immediately ran to the window, pulled the blinds aside. I couldn't see but four or five feet in front of me, I said, we're in a tornado, babe, get up. We're in the tornado, right as I said that, the alarms go off and we run right into the next room, grab our kids and take off outside, leaving everything in the room.

ACOSTA: And we understand your friends are missing right now. Were they staying inside the condo building when it collapsed? Have you gotten any updates on that?

GROVES: Honestly, it's friends we met on the beach. That was our fifth or sixth day. We had met. This was a family and a couple of guys we had met on the beach.

No, no word. They're still part of the missing. We didn't see them at the community center where they put us. Right now they're still missing, to my knowledge.

ACOSTA: And I can't imagine being on vacation and having something happen like this right next door to where you were staying. This had to be traumatic for both you and your family. How is everybody holding up?

GROVES: It's not real good. My kids are really shook. My 6-year-old turns 7 today. We're actually in Disney right now. It's amazing how it worked, the resort kind of got us a rental car and sent us over, told us to come to Disney. We woke up and came here today, just trying to get a little joy out of the last 48, 72 hours, if any.

Toilet flushes, my kids are screaming. A doorbell, a bell on the elevator dings, my kids hold their ears. I don't know. I mean, I don't know what the long term effects are going to be.

Not real well. We're here, we're alive. There's other serious issues here.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And you were saying that you're at Disney now but when you were at your hotel or where you were staying earlier in Surfside, did you feel safe in that building?

GROVES: Well, honestly, it shook very violently. When I went over to look out the window, there was a big crack in the glass where debris flew over and hit it. Right out the window there's dust, debris, concrete, everything.

So, not really. I'm not a structural engineer. I would imagine -- I don't know. I don't know how to answer that. Not really. We just went out and got down the street three or four blocks to the community center.

ACOSTA: Well, Daniel, thank you so much for joining us on the phone and talking about what you captured in that video. It may actually help the authorities try to get to the bottom of all of this. I hope you and your kids are doing better in the days to come. It's just an awful thing that you went through. Thanks so much for talking to us, we appreciate it.

GROVES: Yeah.

ACOSTA: You take care.

Coming up, rescuers are desperately searching for survivors in the rubble of that collapsed condo building. We'll speak to a woman whose mother was on the ninth floor of the building when the unthinkable happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:29:00]

BLITZER: Welcome back to our special coverage of the search and rescue efforts under way right now here in Surfside, Florida. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.

More than 60 hours after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South Condo Building, rescue crews are still scouring the rubble. They're hoping desperately to find survivors. Right now, at least 159 people remain unaccounted for. Among them, Magaly Delgado, an 80-year-old mother and grandmother originally from Cuba who lived in an apartment on the ninth floor.

Maggie Ramsey, Magaly Ramsey, but everybody calls you Maggie, is here. That's your mom we're talking about.

MAGGIE RAMSEY, MOTHER MAGALY DELGADO IS MISSING IN CONDO COLLAPSE: Yes.

BLITZER: You heard about it when you-- you heard about the collapse when you were at a conference in Orlando. You live in Jupiter.

RAMSEY: I live in Jupiter, yeah.

BLITZER: Tell us about your mom.

RAMSEY: So, my mom is a woman, 80 years old, very independent woman, came from Cuba, made her way, worked hard to make her way and was trying to live her best life at this moment, by the beach, by the water, which she loved.

[15:30:00]

And we were planning a trip after COVID. She became 80 during COVID. We're like, hey, mom, let's go to Napa and the grandkids in August. She couldn't wait for that to happen, so.

BLITZER: She's lived in this building for 10 years?

RAMSEY: Over 10 years, yes.

BLITZER: Has there been ever any indication of structural problems? Anything like that? Did your mom ever complain about the building?

RAMSEY: She didn't complain about the building. She was complaining about a couple of things. There were some assessments and they were reviewing those assessments, whatever they were.

I will say that when the other building beside it was being -- which is relatively new, was being built.

She did complain of a lot of tremors and things being done to the other building that she sometimes was concerned, what may be happening to her building that might be putting it at risk as a result.

BLITZER: But she loved living here and in this building.

RAMSEY: She loved the building. She loved the community, faith based. She had her group of friends at the church, St. Patrick's, very close- knit.

She loved being close. We're about an hour and a half to me. She would take her car and drive to see me in Jupiter without a problem.

She just loved being able she wanted to do and be by the water. She loved being by the water.

BLITZER: I've only been here a day, but a pretty diverse community in that building, right?

RAMSEY: Incredibly diverse community. Over at the Family Reunification Center, it's like a plethora of international -- all sorts of international folks. All sorts of different faiths in there. But everybody working real close together.

BLITZER: Do you remember the last conversation you had with your mom?

RAMSEY: Yes, I do. So I just had surgery on Thursday. I'm an only child. She was very worried about me going to work. She was like, you have to take it easy. You have to take care of your health. You're not 20 anymore.

She had called me on Wednesday night while I was at the conference, I wasn't able to talk to her because I was at the meeting at the time. I was like, I'll call her tomorrow morning. And that never happened.

BLITZER: How did you hear about this?

RAMSEY: I turn on the news every morning. That's what I do every morning, I turn on the news. My husband is from the beach. He said, something happened at the beach.

He said, oh, it's by your mother's house. And when we looked, and we're like that's her building. Never in a thousand years did I think that was her building or that

her building is just not there anymore. But that's how we found out. We quickly packed up and headed down.

BLITZER: It was a 12-story building. What floor was her apartment?

RAMSEY: Ninth, right in the middle. It's a big end of the "L." She's right in the middle of the ninth floor of that "L."

BLITZER: Are you still praying? Do you have hope?

RAMSEY: I'm a faith-based woman. My mother taught me to be strong self person in faith. Although, we're burdened with despair and heavy hearts at the moment, we're lifted up by a lot of the faith in the miracles God can create.

I have to say also, other than this horrible thing going on right now, the worst thing is not to know. And so I'm very -- at first, it was difficult because we weren't knowing a lot.

And now officials have been great. DeSantis has come in. And we're getting updates every -- twice a day.

And they're being very detailed. They'll sit with us and give us more detail, exactly where they're going, where they're boring.

That's kind of alleviating the heart a little bit. Because, like I said, knowing whatever the outcome may be, you hope that they didn't suffer if something did occur.

But knowing is a little bit healing in itself, you know?

BLITZER: I think I speak for all of our viewers in the U.S. and around the world, good luck.

RAMSEY: Thank you. I appreciate that.

BLITZER: We're praying together with you.

RAMSEY: Thank you. Prayers for good weather.

BLITZER: Your mom sounds like an amazing woman.

RAMSEY: She's an amazing woman.

BLITZER: Yes. She's blessed to have a daughter like you.

RAMSEY: Thank you. Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Jim, this is so heartbreaking, when you hear these stories. Unfortunately, so many of them. We'll have more coming up. But, you know, what can I say. It's just a wrenching thing to know

what's going on right now. I fear and suspect it's going to go to the worse.

ACOSTA: Absolutely, Wolf. I know you have some connections to the Miami area.

So I can only imagine how it must be just gut-wrenching to watch this and see the pain that is just so obvious on the faces of those folks down there, who are just waiting to find out, you know, if there's some miracle that their relative could be alive.

BLITZER: We're all praying.

And we know so many people in this area who live in buildings very similar to this building. And a lot of them right now, elderly people, they're really worried, they're nervous, as presumably they should be.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And I've been down to Miami so many times. You see these buildings all the time. You just take for granted that they're structurally sound.

And anyway, Wolf, we'll get back to you shortly, thanks so much for that great coverage, as always.

[15:34:47]

Coming up, 22 and a half years behind bars for ex-police-officer, Derek Chauvin. Is that enough for George Floyd's family?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRENCE FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother's neck?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: We're continuing to follow the tragic situation unfolding in Surfside, Florida, where rescuers are desperately searching for any signs of life in the rubble of a collapsed condo there.

At this hour, nearly 160 people remain unaccounted for. This was the front page of "The Miami Herald" today simply describing the situation simply as heartbreak.

We're continuing to talk to rescue crews and family members looking for loved ones. We'll keep you updated on all that.

Meantime, former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.

The judge writing in a sentencing order that Chauvin had denied Floyd the dignity owed to all human beings when he knelt on Floyd's neck for an excruciating nine minutes and 29 seconds, during part of which, Floyd beg for his mother and cried, "I can't breathe."

As a crowd gathered outside, Floyd's family spoke out.

[15:40:02]

Including a statement from his 7-year-old daughter, Gianna.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIANNA FLOYD, DAUGHTER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I ask about him all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: If you could say anything to your daddy now, what would it be?

G. FLOYD: It would be, I miss you and I love him.

T. FLOYD, BROTHER OF GEORGE FLOYD: I wanted to know, from the man himself, why. What were you thinking? What was going through your head when you had your knee on my brother's neck?

BRANDON WILLIAMS, GEORGE FLOYD'S NEPHEW: Our family is forever broken. And one thing we cannot get back is George Floyd.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Joining me now, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.

Joey, thanks so much for joining us this afternoon.

Prosecutors asked for 30 years, as you know. Derek Chauvin got 22 and a half.

What did you think of the result? There are a lot of folks who thought this comes wasn't enough.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm probably one of those folks, Jim. In fact, I firmly am.

It's a significant start. I think when you look at the case, when you look at the fact that there was a conviction here, that in and of itself is significant in terms of a reckoning, in terms of accountability.

The second portion of it, 22 and a half years absolutely is significant.

But, you know, as lawyers, Jim, what we do is we look at precedent.

As the prosecutor noted during the sentencing, if one aggravating factor -- and just to reset, remember that he would have been -- that is, Chauvin would have been eligible for 12 and a half years if there were no aggravating factors.

Meaning, if he was just convicted of the crime but the judge didn't find, A, that he abused his authority, B, that he acted with three or more people, C, that you had children that were present, and, D, that he acted with particular cruelty and inhumanity.

And so if one aggravating factor can double the standard sentence of 12 and a half to 15 years to the 30 the prosecutor asked for, and you have four aggravating factors, I just didn't see the reasoning from the court as to why they would not give the 30 and, instead, settle for the 22 and a half.

And that's my analysis with respect to the judge's punishment of the 22 and a half years.

ACOSTA: Joey, let's play what Derek Chauvin said to the Floyd family, said yesterday in court.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEREK CHAUVIN, FORMER MINNEAPOLIS POLICE OFFICER CONVICTED IN DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD: I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family.

There's going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest. And I hope things will give you some peace of mind.

Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: No one knows what he means when he says, "Some other information in the future." He doesn't sound particularly remorseful to me, Joey.

We should note federal charges are still pending against Chauvin. What could that mean?

JACKSON: So there's a couple of things, Jim. An open question was whether he would speak at all.

And the basis for him potentially not speaking, given a broader narrative, was because you have an appeal pending, in addition to what you mentioned, which are federal charges.

So the fact that he said, hey, my condolences, I think is important. And the family certainly needed to hear that.

What he means about something coming in the future is a mystery to me. And I can't even speculate.

Is he penning a letter to the family? Will he write something to them to express what he's going to do? I just don't know.

But I do know that in addition to this state case, that federal case will come. And certainly, based upon that, we know he's charged federally with civil rights violations for his conduct, and he'll be held accountable in that court, too.

So that could add additional time to the time he's serving now.

ACOSTA: Interesting. All right, Joey Jackson, thanks so much. Appreciate that analysis.

We'll watch to see if Chauvin receives more years in prison. That may alleviate some of this criticism we're seeing after that decision from the judge.

Joey, thanks again for joining us.

Coming up, criminal charges against the Trump Organization could be days away. How the Trump team is responding, next.

[15:44:15]

Plus, she wrote the book on romance and feminism. But this is the only story she never told. CNN films' "LADY BOSS: THE JACKIE COLLINS STORY" airs tomorrow at 9:00 Eastern on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: And you're looking at live pictures coming in now of that building collapse in Surfside, Florida where authorities are still searching for survivors and victims of that deadly collapse.

Just painstaking working going on there. You can see some of the rescuers on the pile as we speak.

We'll, of course, keep you posted on any developments just as soon as they come in. Our Wolf Blitzer is on the ground there as well.

Meantime, we're learning charges could be coming soon in an investigation into the Trump Organization.

The Manhattan district attorney has told lawyers for the company that it could face criminal charges as soon as next week.

Sources say the charges will likely be in connection with benefits provided to employees. And allegations that the Trump Organization tried to avoid paying taxes on those benefits.

An attorney for the former president saying this about the investigation and the potential charges. Quote, "It's outrageous, it's unprecedented, it's never happened before. It's done just to get to Donald Trump."

And our Elie Honig, a CNN senior legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, joins me now to answer your legal questions.

Elie, a ton of questions about all of this.

[15:50:01]

We should also note, you're the author of this upcoming book that's coming out very soon, "Hatchet Man: How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutor's Code and Corrupted the Justice Department." Can't wait to read that. But just a ton of questions coming in about these charges that appear to be looming for the Trump Organization.

One viewer asking, Elie: If the Trump Organization is charged criminally, what could the legal consequences be for Donald Trump or others who ran the company.

What do you think?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, Jim, prosecutors do have the ability to indict corporations like the Trump Organization. But it's important to know what that is and is not.

No person, no human being goes to prison based on a corporate charge. The only way to do that is to charge the individual and convict the individual.

That said, there could be really serious penalties for the corporation, for the Trump Organization: Fines, restitution, compliance. They could even be disbanded.

Basically, this could be the end of the Trump Organization if they're indicted.

What do prosecutors look at? They look at things like, how pervasive was the criminality? Was it one bad actor? Was it sort of spread across the entire company? What's the history? How long has this corporation been involved in crime?

So, Jim, if there's an indictment of the Trump Organization, that's obviously very significant. But it's also very different than an indictment of Donald J. Trump, the individual.

ACOSTA: Elie, another viewer asks, as state legislatures pass laws restricting access to voting -- this also a huge story this week -- what steps can be taken to reverse or challenge them?

HONIG: You know, Jim, there's two ways that that can happen. The first way is through federal legislation.

I think we've seen quite clearly in Congress, over the last couple of weeks, that's not going to happen any time soon.

The other way is through the courts, through the lawsuits. That's why this is such a big decision by DOJ to bring this lawsuit.

Now DOJ is going to have to prove that the Georgia law was passed with a discriminatory purpose. That's not going to be easy to do. Because there's not going to be evidence of some Georgia legislator saying, hey, let's pass this new law so we can disenfranchise voters.

Instead, what DOJ does, in its briefs, is they say you have to look at the history of repressive voting laws in Georgia. You have to look at the fact that Democrats just barely won the presidential race and two Senate races in Georgia, largely on minority voting and minority heavy districts. Based on that, the DOJ makes its arguments.

So this is going to be an uphill legal climb for the DOJ but a really worthy and important legal fight for them to have.

ACOSTA: And, Elie, earlier this week, we learned Rudy Giuliani, the former personal lawyer for Donald Trump, has been suspended from practicing law in the state of New York.

If there wasn't so much going on, we would be talking a lot about this, more than we are.

Can Giuliani fight the suspension? I suspect he can, but this is going to be difficult for him.

HONIG: Jim, it's really a stunning fall for Rudy Giuliani who was once a very respected lawyer in New York City.

So it is rare to see someone have their license suspended. It happens but not very often, especially where you have a judicial panel who found that Rudy made demonstrably false statements.

The opinion goes point by point and really debunks the big lie.

Now Giuliani can request a full hearing, absolutely. He said he's going do that. I don't think it's going to go well for him. But he has that right to appeal.

ACOSTA: Elie Honig, thanks so much. Appreciate those insights, as always.

HONIG: Thanks.

ACOSTA: In the meantime, since the start of the pandemic, people of color have been devastated by COVID-19, dying at a much greater rate than white Americans.

But early on, most at risk have often lacked access to testing. And vaccinations still lag among black Americans. Only 22 percent have been inoculated.

This week's "CNN Hero" is working to change that. She's a pediatric surgeon who has spent the last 14 months building trust and bringing testing and vaccinations to those in need in her hometown of Philadelphia.

Meet Dr. Ala Stanford.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ALA STANFORD, CNN HERO: African-Americans were dying at a rate greater than any other group in Philadelphia, so I jumped in.

We were intentional about getting black and brown communities the access and care they needed.

Those who are most vulnerable, they need to have the support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm done. Feel great.

(CHEERING)

STANFORD: Just seeing folks come out, day in and day out, their presence says anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she's smiling.

STANFORD: There was all this narrative, black people don't want the vaccine, but they were lined up.

We had to lever the trust of the people.

You know it's saving lives. Data shows it.

I couldn't allow one additional life to be lost when I knew I could do something about it.

Everything was done for them, to make sure they get the care they deserve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:54:50]

ACOSTA: And today, Dr. Stanford's group has tested and vaccinated over 75,000 more people. See how she does it and get her full story, and nominate someone you know to be a hero, at CNNheroes.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:59:57]

ACOSTA: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta, alongside my friend, Wolf Blitzer, who's at the scene of the deadly building collapse in Surfside, Florida.

We'll go to Wolf in just a moment, who is on the scene there.

But in the meantime, the breaking news we're following at this hour.