tv CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield CNN March 7, 2021 11:00am-12:00pm PST
hello, everyone. thank you so much for joining me. i'm fredricka whitfield. we begin this hour with breaking news just moments ago. a defiant new york governor, andrew cuomo, vowing he will not resign, this despite a third female former staffer and fourth woman overall coming forward with new accusations of inappropriate conduct against the embattled governor. the "wall street journal" is reporting that annelise is a former aide and the next person
to make accusations. charlotte bennett and lindsey boylan were the first ones to accuse him of inappropriate action. anna ruch also came forward about an allegation in 2018. what do you think of this now that the governor has said he refuses to step down? >> reporter: he has faced these accusations over the course of the last week and we're hearing from more women who said they faced inappropriate conduct from the governor. the governor has said in no uncertain terms that he has no plans to resign. the state's attorney general are looking into allegations of sexual harrassment. he said the investigation must be allowed to run its course. here's what he had to say about that. >> i was elected by the people of the state.
i wasn't elected by politicians. i'm not going to resign because of allegations. the premise of resigning because of allegations is actually anti-democratic. the system is based on due process and the credibility of the allegation. anybody has the ability to make an allegation in democracy, and that's great, but it's in the credibility of the allegation. >> reporter: fredricka, as you mentioned, four women have now come forward alleging inappropriate conduct from the governor. three of them are former staffers. we're hearing the story now of ana liss. she was an aide of the administration from 2013 to 2015. she tells the attorney general of a time when the governor called her sweetheart. she said he placed her hand on her lower back at a reception. he once kiss hed her hand as sh rose from her desk. she thought of these as harmless
actions. she later thought of them as patronizing. she has never filed a formal complaint. the governor has made an apology on camera for making anyone feel uncomfortable, saying that was unintentional. he also says he never touched anyone inappropriately. today when asked about a ana liss's allegations, he again said he never meant to make anyone feel unwelcome or uncomfortable and again urged everyone to allow the attorney general to conduct his investigation. fred? >> thank you so much. keep us updated on that. now new warnings about the spread of the coronavirus as more states end mask mandates. experts now saying the u.s. is likely on the tipping point of another covid-19 surge, this despite as the covid-19 bill
could pass as early as this week. >> this is a bill that reflects president biden's belief that the best way to get the economy back on track and get it growing is to invest in working class people and middle class people. >> here's what is in that bill. $1400 checks for most americans, including children. a boost in unemployment aid through september, along with more funding for food stamps and those facing eviction. a beefed-up child tax credit that democrats say will cut child poverty in half. plus big pots of money to reopen schools, distribute the covid vaccines and expand covid testing. joining me right now, one of the lawmakers who voted to pass the plan, democratic senator from pennsylvania, bob casey. senator, thank you so much for being with us. >> great to be with you, fredricka. >> let me ask you before we even
get to this bill and your hopes for it, i would like you to expand, if you would, governor andrew cuomo saying he won't step down. do you have any thoughts? >> that's what a politician says when he has these kind of accusations against them, but these ladies should be heard. we have the attorney general of new york engaged in that process now. every public official is responsible not only for what they do in the workplace but what they say. >> all right. on to the bill now that you helped pass yesterday. president biden said early on that he wanted a bipartisan agreement for this package, but not a single republican elected official in the senate voted for it. so who is responsible, you know, for not being able to reach a more bipartisan consensus? >> well, look, i think the new president -- i'm calling him
vice president still -- president biden started off his presidency with the first major meeting in the white house with members of congress was with republican senators. now, they came in the door and made a proposal. it was about 600 billion at the time, about a third of what was passed yesterday. i don't think that was a serious proposal, but he tried very hard. i think there will be other instances where he can get together with them, but the most important thing here is we just passed a measure yesterday outlined in that chart that can have a transformative impact on the lives of americans. here's the backup. columbia university has attacked the virus by 51%. helping families with food assistance and unemployment insurance and the like, and also to help us reopen our schools safely. it's a very strong bill. i wish we got republican support, but sometimes you can't
do a lot and you just have to get it done. this virus is still with us, we still have variants, and we're glad it's done. >> how do you explain why republicans, period, wouldn't be on board when the consensus is the majority of americans, and the president pointed out yesterday a bipartisan reflection of americans are on board with this bill. >> well, fredricka, this is my view. this isn't the view of everyone. my view is the republicans are in the grip of the far right, and frankly, donald trump. until they escape that grip, they're not going to be willing to embrace a lot of the policies that we tried to put forward here. if you say you're going to be a politician, you're going to elect for your school districts to be safe to open schools, and then if you won't get schools open, you don't have much credibility.
i know they talked about how big it was and how expensive, but we have to meet the moment. open schools, get more vaccinations and help families, and they had no compunction when they ran through a bill in 2017. they weren't talking about fiscal responsibility then. >> it goes back to the house. it could be on the president's desk as soon as this week. if it was signed this week, how soon before families would see the $1400 checks or see the other benefits that come from this bill? >> i don't know the number of days that would take to get the check out. but i will say this. the treasury department is prepared for this. they've bep deen dealing with t issue since last march. if you have an actual paper check, it takes a while to get through the mail, but the electronic transfers, which are most of the payment, could happen in very short order.
i just don't know the exact number of days. >> your colleague, west virginia senator joe manchin, held up the vote for some 12 hours or so before feeling comfortable with unemployment benefits that would go to americans. what does this tell you about the road ahead for democrats to keep the caucus together since there is such a -- very little space, you know, to lose a democratic vote in any upcoming legislation? >> it's difficult, fredricka. it's a small margin for error, so any bill is going to be difficult. but it was significant, i think, that we were able to come together as a party, even with just a 50-50 senate. of course, yesterday we only needed 50 because the republican senator was not there. it's difficult, but i think
chuck schumer is doing a good job keeping it together, especially something as big and urgent as getting this bill done. i think it's one of the most important pieces of transformative legislation in a generation. >> and it will be difficult for democrats to reach a 60-vote threshold to pass administration without the threat of a filibuster. some of those in your party have actually called on ending the filibuster, but listen to what one white how else official said about where president biden stands on this issue. >> it is. it is still his position. his preference is not to end the filibuster. he wants to work with republicans, work with independents. he believes when we're stronger, when we build a stronger coalition of support. look what we've been able to do the first six weeks we've been in office with the filibuster in place. we just passed a $1.9 trillion rescue plan -- >> with no republican votes. >> but we were able to get it done.
it's a 50-50 senate. we understand that. we'll have to navigate on a 50-50 senate. >> where are you on ending filibuster? >> i'm very much open to it and i wouldn't have said that two years ago. when you consider the destruction of mitch mcconnell in the obama years, all they seemed to be doing every day is confirming right wing judges, making no progress on major issues. it's pretty difficult to see how we can make advances in climate change, minute wage. if you're going to end the filibuster, you have to earn it. but this idea you just call for -- you invoke a filibuster without doing the work to bring it forward, i think, is really a joke. maybe the most compelling
argument i heard was harry reid had more than 400 times filibuster views when he was majority lieader against our party. the senate is not the senate of years ago, and i think we should be open to changing. >> we'll leave it there for now. thank you so much, pennsylvania senator, bob casey. appreciate it. >> thanks. coming up, the fight over masks leading to wild scenes like this. life- life-saving ppe destroyed during the middle of the pandemic? then as the nation declaire's, biden signs an executive order for expanding
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don't have mask mandates in place, and two more states will soon be added to that list. in idaho, defiance over such virus protection was front and center at "burn the mask" rallies held across the state this weekend. in the capital of boise, parents and children set fire to their masks, denouncing their usmask . it's only encouraged to wear one. this week the state saw its largest increase in new confirmed cases of covid in nearly a month. and then today, independent governors like tate reeves of mississippi are defending their mandates to lift mask orders, even though they're still encouraging residents to wear them. >> we look much more closely at a daily standpoint of hospitalizations, members of mississippians in the icu, the numbers of mississippians on
ventilators, and the fact is those numbers have plummeted over the last two weeks. michigan has also seen decreases in hospitalizations. >> in ohio, we've found the masks work exceedingly well. >> we're at the 10-yard line. we're somewhere at 50 and dropping the mask mandate and that's a dangerous situation. >> our paul cammerman is seeing a vaccine rollout in california. paul, what are you seeing? >> so far in california, you've got 10 million. most of these are getting
vaccinations. the governor has said if they reach a threshold of 2 million vaccine doses administered in low-income vulnerable neighb neighborhoods, then there will be a dramatic easing of restrictions. this site is already a well-oiled machine and now they're increasing the number getting vaccinated each day. up to 7,000, 8,000. when i was here a couple weeks ago, they said they had projected the peak to be at 6,000 a day. this is a key factor in all of this. and i'm going to bring in a fema spokesperson. this is going to be veronica verde. she's going to explain to us -- you have overshot your projections of pfizer and moderna vaccinations. how did you do this. >> originally we started with 4,000 on february 16. we're up to 7,000, some days 8,000. we're working with the city and county and their leadership and
also getting the word out about this vaccine site. >> reporter: you had originally said this was a pilot program. how long will you be there? we should note we have 2,000 soldiers putting needles in arms. >> initially thfis was a four-week project. we're looking to see if we need to go beyond that. so far there's only 450 vaccination sites as they start to come in, and this only helps get people vaccinated. >> reporter: as california opens up the rules on who can be vaccinated, teachers, food service workers and the like, tell us about the demographic and the people who will be coming through here now and soon will be coming through here. >> as you mentioned, we have tier 1a and b. that will be food and agriculture. next week they'll see who is
eligible, so we want people to pay close attention to see when they could get vaccinated through that website. >> we're on the campus of cal state university of los angeles, and not far from here are many of these vulnerable, very poor zip codes. you're from the los angeles area. how does it feel for you to be putting a dent in those figures that the governor has highlighted, how he wants to get 40% of the vaccinationed dedicated to these zip codes. >> this is also part of president biden's role. with governor knewnewsom, they in to open up these sites. east l.a., englewood, south central are getting mobile site sites one, two, three days for people who live in that community. we're working closely with the city and county of l.a. leadership to make sure we're there and get people vaccinated who are from that community. >> great. i thank you so much for taking
time out. if you'll excuse me, i'm going to wrap up this for fredricka. so some good news on an otherwise gloomy day. as you heard, this vaccination site is a well-oiled machine and it's humming right along, fred. >> paul, appreciate it. dr. swamithan, good to see you. we've had almost 9 million vaccinations in the u.s., and yet still no cdc guidelines on how people should behave after getting one. dr. fauci says it's coming imminently. why the delay, and is it important to have this kind of instruction for folks who have been vaccinated? >> i think the delay here is trying to figure out what the best messaging is and what really is safe. there are so many unique situations, it's hard to know how to give the best overall advice. but getting this advice is going
to be very important because people need to know why they're getting the vaccine, not just because it's protecting them from covid, but what to do after getting the vaccine, and what they can tell their friends and neighbors about getting the vaccine as well. i think it will be safe if everyone is vaccinated to gather in small sbgroups, indoors, wit no masks. i think that's something we'll see from the cdc. i think we'll have encouragement of having large groups, and if vaccinated and unvaccinated people are getting together, definitely masking, distancing as much as we can. i think that's what we can expect to see but i do think it's important because people need to know what they're working towards. it's not just because i have a vaccine, now i can go back to doing everything. a vaccine is not a hall pass. we can't just break all our restrictions and public health limitations because we have a vaccine, we need everybody to get it. >> don't abandon those precautions as yet.
now, with so many states now reopening and public health experts, you know, saying the main concerns now are new variants, do you think there will be a need for a vaccine booster or additional doses because of those variants? >> i think this is a major concern, and we're not sure yet, but it's something that i think a lot of public health experts, a lot of the virology experts have definitely said this is a possibility, that we'll need a booster. whether that booster is the same shot again to boost our antibodies, or if it's a booster more directed at the variant that's prevalent at that time, we're not sure yet. this is very similar to what we see with flu on a yearly basis. as new strains pop up, we get a vaccine that creates an immunity to that. i would think if you get a
yearly shot, you'll also be getting a covid booster. we need to think of how immune we are and what works best. >> i think of those who had a difficult transition with the vaccines they did get, and now they might be in that space to coordinate how do they get their booster. i can see anxiety levels going right back up again. >> you bring up some important points with those barriers. the barriers are important to address not just now but for the future. let's get the boosters to people instead of dragging them to us. >> we'll leave it there now. dr. swaminathan, thank you very much. >> thank you. coming up, president biden turns his attention to voting rights as more than 250 voter restriction bills are introduced across the country. we'll have details next. into this chip.
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on the 56th anniversary of bloody sunday, the day when peaceful voting rights protesters were attacked by state troopers in selma, alabama, president biden signed a new executive order today aimed at expanding voting access. biden's order directs the heads of all federal agencies to submit proposals for their res respective agencies to promote voter registration and participation. the order also calls for the modernization of the federal government's vote.gov portal. >> i'm signing an executive order to make it easier for eligible voters to register to
vote and improve access to voting. every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted. if you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. let the people vote. >> biden is also praising a sweeping new voting rights bill the house just passed and urging the senate to support the legislation. the new bill is aimed at countering efforts by the gop in 43 state houses across the country restricting voter access. diane gallagher has more. >> reporter: demonstrators chained themselves together outside the georgia state capital, protesting one of hundreds of new proposed laws around the country sparked by former president trump's big lie. >> we won this election and we won it by a landslide. >> reporter: the massive nationwide push by state republican lawmakers is now underway to pass election laws that experts say will restrict voting access.
more than 250 proposed bills in 43 states so far this year, according to the brennan center for justice. >> the ayes are 97, the nays are 72. >> reporter: they would add new idea requirements for absentee voting and reduce voting hours, among other major changes. >> today i object to this because it was predicated by a big fat lie. >> reporter: it encourages black voters to cast their ballots the sunday before election day, leaving georgia democrats calling it, quote, the most blatant lie on voting acts since jim crow. >> there are a lot of good commonsense ideas in this bill that is in front of you. >> reporter: in arizona, state legislators have introduced
nearly two dozen restrictive bills. many focused on limiting voting by mail, a method used by more than 80% of arizonans in 2020. >> no voter in the united states of america should have their access to the ballot dependent upon who holds the majority in their state's legislature. >> in the supreme court, arguments over a different arizona election law that legislators have already passed saying it would limit voter fraud. when asked by amy barrett why they would pass this law, telling the high court -- >> because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to democrats. >> reporter: democrats are fighting this push at the federal level, hoping to pass hr-1, the so-called "for the people" act which in part would require states to have at least 15 days of early voting, automatic and same day registration and would prevent
states from mail-in and curbside voting. republicans have slammed the bill. >> it was a bill by the majority, for the majority and it is intended to entrench the majority for years to come. >> reporter: former vice president mike pence called it an unconstitutional, reckless and anti-democratic bill. voting activists, while holding out hope for congress, aren't ready to give up on their states. >> it's not an either/or. i want both. i want the federal government to provide protection but i also want our state legislature to do right by the citizens of our state. >> diane gallagher, thanks so much. the battle for voting rights is also playing a big part in today's nba all-star game in atlanta. lebron james and other athletes have launched an ad campaign to help protect voting rights. here's what he said just moments ago. >> this has been a great thing and we've been able to do more
of a vote, continuing to highlight and educate people what's going on in a lot of our communities with the voter suppression and things of that nature, and obviously, you know, making sure that people don't think that the job is done. the work is not completed, it's never completed even if you have a victory. it's never completed. >> all-star game tipoff is just hours away. meantime, coming up next hour for us, we'll take a closer look at the campaign to help protect black voting rights. representative terry sewell joins us from selma, alabama, the very birthplace of the civil rights movement on the 56th anniversary of bloody sunday. he was caught on camera, kneeling on george floyd's neck for eight minutes. now he's about to stand trial as tensions rise outside the court in minneapolis. we're live.
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the suspect of the victim who killed george floyd had a verbal comment after the shooting. that corner has been a memorial to floyd after he was suffocated to death. tomorrow jury selection begins in the trial of the man responsible for floyd's death, former police officer derek chauvin. else accused of killing floyd after leaning on his neck for eight minutes. omar jimenez is in los angeles. what's expected tomorrow, omar? >> reporter: we won't see any prospective or chosen jurors in this. this is what's known as a sequestered jury selection, meaning any chosen will be outside the presence of other
chosen or prospective jurors. they will have a number of challenges they can use for picks as well. bottom line, it's not expected to be an easy process getting down to 12 yours. prospective ones, i should also mention, were sent a 16-page questionnaire asking about everything from what they know about the case to what sort of news they primarily consume. all is part of a process that has now been a long time coming. from calling for justice to letting the justice system play out, derek chauvin, the former officer seen on that now infamous cell phone video leaning on the neck of george floyd for nearly eight excruciating minutes. he is standing on trial for second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter, both of which he's pleaded not guilty to, but the first carrying a weight of up to 40 years in prison if convicted. the case is likely to bring protesters and renewed attention to george floyd's death. his family remains at the center
of it all, balancing grief with the weight of a racial justice movement. now with the trial on the horizon, preparations are underway on a number of fronts, including closing the intersection where some of floyd's final moments played out, leaving it as a central grieving point as it was in the immediate aftermath of his death. >> we fully expect our minneapolis residents to engage in the time-honored tradition of their first amendment rights and speech, and we want to make sure that that right to protest is protected in every way, shape and form. >> reporter: but what some protests over the summer dein devolved into is still on the minds of some officials, which is why they say it has gone on for weeks and months, with national guard ready to respond. >> we cannot allow any sort of unlawful activity. >> reporter: not to mention the physical barriers going up
around the government center where the trial will be taking place. then there's covid-19 protocol. chauvin will be one of the only four former officers on trial with judge cahill citing physical limitations in the courtroom make it impossible to comply with covid-19 physical restrictions in a joint trial involving all four defendants, beginning march 8, 2021. given the number of lawyers and support personnel, the parties have now advised the court are expected to be present during trial. the judge said it's the largest courtroom they have. tied to that, only one member of the chauvin family and one member of the floyd family will be allowed in the courtroom at a time, a decision the floyd family called disappointing. >> the video is enough. there's nothing else to talk about. you can make a judgment off of that. because chauvin showed you he was the judge, the injury and executioner all at once right then and there when he took my brother's soul from his body. >> reporter: and with jury selection beginning march 8th,
opening statements weeks later, a country watches as a test to police accountability gets underway which many see as a major step toward justice for george floyd. every day, starting tomorrow until potentially to march 26, jury selection will begin at 10:00 a.m. eastern time going until 6:00 p.m. a judge had dropped a third murder charge prosecutors wanted against chauvin. an appeals court judge said this judge has to reconsider reinstating this charge. it's unclear right now if reinstating would affect the timing of this at all, but again, jury selection begins tomorrow with opening statements set to begin march 29th. fred? >> omar jimenez, thank you so much in minneapolis. up next, pope francis pushes for peace and unity during his trip to iraq.
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if you see wires down, treat them all as if they're hot and energized. stay away from any downed wire, call 911, and call pg&e right after so we can both respond out and keep the public safe. pope francis on the last full day of his historic trip to iraq is visiting a church in northern iraq, a town decimated by isis during its proclamation. this is the first time the pope has visited the country, telling followers today iraq will always remain with me in my heart. cnn's ben wedeman is in iraq. ben, what is the purpose of the pope visiting that church and
visiting with muslim leaders? all right, ben -- >> do you hear me? >> i hear you. it looks like we have a delay. >> yes, i can hear you loud to baghdad after, as you said, a very busy day in northern iraq. he started in mosul where he prayed in a square that was once home to four separate churches, but thanks to isis, all of those churches are now in ruins. he then went to the town of katakash, which is the largest christian town in iraq, also ravaged by isis there. he went to a church that i went to in 2017 that was completely
scorch bid isis. they had lit all the bibles and prayer books on fire. they had used the courtyard as a firing range. in katakoshe, he called on worshippers to have forgiveness, but after such knowledge they've experienced, what forgiveness can they have? he then came here to abile where he attended mass in a stadium for about -- perhaps even more than 8,000 people. 8,000 was the number given by kurdish authorities here. it was a wildly enthusiastic event, people there saying it was sheer happiness to see him, to have him there, someone of his stature to speak to christians and others all around the country. he ended his mass by saying in
arabic, salem, salem, salem, leaving one woman to say perhaps there will be peace now. democrats and republicans putting politics on ice. cnn goes ice fishing in minnesota. >> there are no common grounds anymore, right? and everybody is so rangry abou it. i think everyone is just tired. a destination. e yeah, but most of the time, her destination is freedom. nope, just the coffee shop. announcer: no matter why you ride, progressive has you covered with protection starting at $79 a year. voiceover: 'cause she's a biker... please don't follow me in.
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less than 100 days into president biden's term, and it looks like republicans and democrats are still having a tough time working together. but in one minnesota suburb, voters agree they are tired of the political division. cnn's bill weir has more on how they managed to put some of their concerns on ice. >> reporter: it's the end of ice fishing season, the one sport so slow it demands, food, drink, seating and conversation. are you more optimistic for the future as an american? >> i'm way more optimistic than i was two years ago. >> reporter: but in the conversations on lake minnetonka these days, hope is mixed with worry. >> i don't see smooth sailing for biden, i see it all as
obstructionism going in the wrong direction. >> biden has vaccinated i don't know how many people not even in the first 60 days. >> reporter: while love for biden is not lacking for president biden, some see it as unkept. >> they put things on the back burner and they're dropping bombs in syria, and those bombs are kind of expensive for a dude that owes $2 trillion, you know? >> reporter: they all worry about division. >> there's no common ground right now and everyone is so angry about it. i think we're just tired. >> i'm all about love. everybody should be loving each other, there shouldn't be this -- >> so divided. >> there doesn't need to be that and i think it's just really sad. >> we all got along and now it's like, those guys are not my friends anymore because i know
what they really think. >> reporter: that's heartbreaking. >> i can't hang around with someone who says, yeah, you think it would be a good idea to assassinate a country leader. >> reporter: but sometimes bonds are stronger than politics. you're on opposite sides? >> yeah. we just don't go there. >> reporter: what if trump ran for the house, and he got elected in the house, then we took the house and the senate, and he sent impeachment to both the president and the vice president, he would be president for the next two years, plus he would be reelected for another four. good idea? >> reporter: that's a new one. i hadn't heard that. so he would be speaker of the house? >> yeah. >> it's that old story you don't talk politics or religion with your friends or your family. >> reporter: ah, yes.
the good fences make good neighbors theory of politics. at least for now, the arguments are followed by laughter. >> it's going to be difficult for me to be here from now on. >> reporter: i'm sorry. >> it's okay. >> nobody ruins a barbecue like bill weir. >> reporter: bill weir, cnn, lake minnetonka, minnesota. hello, everyone, thanks so much for joining me. i'm fredricka whitfield. we enjoy with a historic anniversary and a movement to restore voting for all. president biden signed an executive order to promote voter registration. the order comes in the midst of a slew of state proposals that threaten to make voting harder for americans. and that battle is getting the attention of nba superstar lebron james who is launching more than a vote today at the all-star game in atlanta. georgia is one