Aired April 8, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, U.S., the U.K., and the European Union, they've all imposed sanctions on the junta, but in reality, the West doesn't have a huge amount of leverage here. And so far, what we haven't seen, Erin, is a meaningful, unified response from the international community to the crisis in Myanmar.
And that's why those people were so desperate and that's where they risked everything to tell us their stories -- Erin.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Well, we're so grateful. They're grateful, I'm sure all of these governments you're talking about are grateful that you have now put a voice and a picture to it, and to them, it cannot go ignored, thanks to you.
Thank you, Clarissa.
And thanks to all of you for watching. Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We're following breaking news tonight, a mass shooting in Bryan, Texas northwest of Houston just a few miles from Texas A&M University and college station. It happened at a local cabinet company. The local Police Chief says the shooter may have been employed there. He is now in custody.
The chief says at least one person has died, at least five are wounded including a State Trooper who was shot pursuing the suspect.
We have a crew on the scene gathering information and we'll bring that to you live ahead later in the hour once we know more.
Today in the Derek Chauvin trial, testimony from medical and forensic experts casting yet more doubt on the notion that a drug overdose or some other existing medical condition killed George Floyd. That, and a disturbing account of the man's final seconds a live.
CNN's Sara Sidner tonight reports.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DR. MARTIN TOBIN, PULMONOLOGIST: That's the moment the life goes out
of his body.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Today, the prosecutor's expert medical witness did not hold back.
TOBIN: Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen and this caused damage to his brain that we see and it also caused a PEA arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop.
SIDNER (voice over): The world-renowned expert on breathing and lungs, Dr. Martin Tobin, pointed to the officer's actions saying George Floyd died because the officers created a scenario in which Floyd's lungs were put into a vise-like grip.
TOBIN: It was almost to the effect as if a surgeon had gone in and removed the lung, not quite, but along those lines.
SIDNER (voice over): Dr. Tobin said four things cause Floyd to stop breathing, including Floyd's position on the concrete allowing no room for his lungs to expand.
JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTOR: You mentioned several reasons for Mr. Floyd's low oxygen. You mentioned, one: handcuffs and the street. Right?
BLACKWELL: You mentioned, knee on the neck.
BLACKWELL: Prone position.
BLACKWELL: And then the knee on the back arm inside. Were those the four?
TOBIN: Yes. These are the four.
SIDNER (voice over): The doctor also testified about whether drugs were the culprit that killed George Floyd, as former officer Derek Chauvin's attorney has suggested, to that, Dr. Tobin said Floyd had not taken a proper breath for nine minutes and 50 seconds when paramedics finally got a breathing tube in him. And by that point, carbon dioxide in Floyd's body had reached lethal levels.
BLACKWELL: What's the punchline?
TOBIN: The significance of all of that is it's a second reason why you know fentanyl is not causing the depression of his respiration, solely explained by what you expect to happen in somebody who doesn't have any ventilation given to him for nine minutes and 50 seconds.
SIDNER (voice over): On cross examination, Chauvin's attorney pushed Dr. Tobin on two main issues: the potential effects of drugs on Floyd's body and his breathing and his heart disease.
ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And that's going to affect blood flow in a person, right? It's going to make the body work a little harder to get the blood through the body.
TOBIN: No, not really. It's not going to do that.
NELSON: How does that affect a person's respiratory?
TOBIN: You would expect that he would be complaining of chest pain, and you would expect that he will be demonstrating a very rapid respiratory rate. We don't see either.
SIDNER (voice over): The last witness of the day, also a doctor backed up Dr. Tobin's testimony that drugs did not cause Floyd's death.
DR. WILLIAM SMOCK, CLINICAL FORENSIC MEDICINE PROGRAM, LOUISVILLE METRO POLICE: When you watch those videos and we go through them. What is his respiration? He is breathing. He is talking.
He is not snoring. He is saying, please, please get off of me. I want to breathe. I can't breathe. That is not a fentanyl overdose. That is somebody begging to breathe.
COOPER: And Sara Sidner joins us now from outside the courthouse. How did the jury react to the medical experts' testimony today?
SIDNER: They reacted particularly to Dr. Tobin -- Dr. Martin Tobin there, that you heard with a slight Irish accent. He was so pointed and he at one point had the jury, try different things to show them exactly sort of how breathing works and used their own hands to touch parts of their neck that he was referring to. And almost all, all, but three jurors were doing that and at one point, Anderson, the Judge says to him and the jurors, now listen, you don't have to do this after an objection from the defense, you don't have to do this. You don't have to do what he says. But you can if you want.
And they did continue to do exactly what Dr. Martin asked them to do. Dr. Martin Tobin, you know, in touching different parts of their neck so that they could understand exactly what he was talking about when Floyd was unable to breathe. It was pretty remarkable -- Anderson.
COOPER: Interesting. Sara Sidner. I appreciate it. Thanks.
I want to bring in our senior legal analysts: Laura Coates, former Federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, Mark O'Mara. So Laura, you just heard about Sara. Sara was talking about the prosecution's medical expert, Dr. Tobin. How effective do you think he was?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, he was absolutely the most compelling witness that we've had so far, and that includes the emotional testimony that we saw from last week, from the age ranging from nine years old to somebody more than half a century older. You've had all the law enforcement officials.
No one expected this moment, as opposed to a Medical Examiner and autopsy to be this captivating, but his methodical approach, his cadence, the rhythm of his information, the way in which he presented in very digestible pieces. If you didn't know what a pulmonologist was before he got up there, you certainly were following along with the demonstratives and you were actually understanding and watching through the lens now of an expert, who was pointing out different nuances.
The manipulation of handcuffs, identifying the four factors that contributed to the loss of oxygen as Sara talked about the definition, essentially, of torture. And this notion, this image that's indelible in my mind, Anderson, of a man reduced to trying to breathe by trying to use his knuckles, his finger, his shoulder, all to no avail.
And still to have the knee on the neck and the pressure, to 91 pounds on his body on his neck. It's an image that the jury won't be able to get out of their minds either.
COOPER: Mark, how effective was that? Also, to have the jury participate in as we heard, there was an objection from the defense on that.
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It was amazingly effective, because when you have a witness, or if the lawyer can be the guide for the jury, who can actually walk them through an otherwise somewhat complicated series of events, then that person is going to be the guide for the jury all the way through.
And what happened here was Dr. Tobin just literally became that person from the -- like Laura said, their lilting voice, the Irish accent helps. But much more importantly, he actually brought them in to his explanation, the hand on the neck was great, and that really got the jury involved, even with the objection.
But even when he had them counting the breaths, because if you remember what he said, he goes, when you count them yourself, then you'll hear, and I will tell you, I thought that the respiration counting was one of the most specific and very interesting points of evidence because that completely destroyed the suggestion of fentanyl, and what it causes -- a decrease in respiration, which is one of the high points of the defense's presentation so far through cross.
He completely destroyed that, and of course, other witnesses then destroyed some other possibilities of a defense. I thought, this witness, as Laura said, the most compelling because he literally walked the jury all the way through the state's case.
COOPER: And Laura, it is very important what Mark said about, you know, the defense clearly is pushing, you know, potential drug use as an issue. Do you agree that Tobin did a very effective job of kind of batting that away? COATES: He did. Here's how. You want your witness to be an expert
witness, to establish that rapport very quickly with your jurors. They are the ones who matter. You want them as people who are assessing and evaluating the credibility of witnesses, to be able to feel like this person is informative, not just simply trying to influence me.
It's my job as the juror to ultimately be the fact finder, they say, and so I need somebody that I can trust. And so his sort of ability to not only lay out the information through the vantage point of an expert, as opposed to a layman identifying new things, but also to address and resolve statements.
Remember, there was even that moment, talking about this phrase we keep hearing about, Anderson. If you can talk, you can read. We even heard the audio body cam of Derek Chauvin making that statement, almost taunting George Floyd. It sounds like a whole lot of oxygen there for someone who can't breathe, to paraphrase his words.
Well, you had him describe exactly what the human body is capable of doing even though oxygen deprivation is imminent. He walks us through that. He walked the jury through that, but he had already established all of the rapport and the credibility as somebody who is not a paid expert, had volunteered his services, had written the textbook on these things and provided demonstrative kind of like crash test dummies looking at the efficacy of an airbag. He was able to have people in the moment visualizing it.
These jurors are no longer flies on the wall seeing it through the eyes of bystanders. They were participants. That's exactly where you want to be as a prosecutor.
COOPER: Mark, you thought the defense actually missed a few opportunities today?
O'MARA: I really thought they did, because I think they allowed Tobin to go way beyond his area of expertise. I thought that they should have been objecting to a lot more of what Tobin was saying.
He is a pulmonologist, he's a great one. He can talk about breath. He can talk about respiration. But when he starts talking about everything else that he did to give the state the best evidence that they could, again, destroying the idea of fentanyl intoxication, even the meth intoxication, I thought that the defense should have really honed him in a lot more, particularly when you have such an effective witness.
Because you have to try and at least interrupt the flow, interrupt the cadence and I thought the defense just sort of got lulled to, you know, sitting there listening to how intriguing he was.
And I also want to say that I thought the State did a masterful job through this witness of leaving the knee on neck sort of behind a little bit, again, because it was questionable: is the knee really on the neck the whole time? All of that is there. They shifted from knee on neck to just full body on body compression,
and I think that is really what caused the death. We now know that to believe, Dr. Tobin, and I think that was a great way to sort of move over to something that they can truly justify, rather than just the knee on neck.
COOPER: Mark O'Mara, Laura Coates, appreciate it.
We're joined next by George Floyd's cousin, talking about what she and other family members think about the trial thus far.
And later, a live update from the shooting scene in Bryan, Texas. The suspect is in custody, at least one person we know has died. We'll have details on that.
And Congressman Matt Gaetz facing potentially damaging news tonight. His indicted friend could be getting ready to make a deal and cooperate with prosecutors.
COOPER: Difficult testimony for anyone to watch and hear today at the Derek Chauvin trial, especially one close to George Floyd.
Joining us now is Shareeduh Tate, his cousin and President of the George Floyd Foundation. Shareedud, thanks for being with us.
First of all, how are you and your family doing during this trial?
SHAREEDUH TATE, PRESIDENT, GEORGE FLOYD FOUNDATION: I think we're doing about as well as you can expect, you know, the opening arguments was a very tough time for us because it was a time for many where we had to kind of re-live the video again.
For me, it was the first time actually seeing it, but I think we are managing as well, as you can expect at this point.
COOPER: It was the first time you had watched the video. That's interesting.
TATE: Yes, the first time that the video was sent to me, I actually only listened to maybe 15 to 20 seconds of it, I heard his voice and that was confirmation for me that it was actually Perry, so I did not watch it again.
COOPER: It was just too painful to watch.
TATE: It was too painful to watch. It was painful to actually hear his cries out. Him crying out was painful. So, I couldn't even imagine allowing myself to actually watch it.
COOPER: I know before the trial -- before the trial started, you said you were pessimistically optimistic about what would happen in court. I'm wondering how you feel now? TATE: Well, I mean, I thought today was a good day for the
prosecution. And for us, hearing the testimony from the doctor who, you know, sort of reiterated what we've known all along is that his -- you know, his death was from him not being able to actually breathe and not a drug overdoses as has been they've been trying to allude to.
So yes, pessimistically optimistic was just my position because, you know, we've seen this time and time again, where the outcome is not what we would like to have happen.
So while I think I see some very good points on our side, I still reserve the right to say that it's a foregone conclusion that we'll get a conviction.
COOPER: Are you -- I don't know if pleased is the right word, but you think the prosecution is working well?
TATE: I think so. I think Mr. Blackwell, you know, I really like the way that, you know, the opening statement was done. It really, for me, kind of spelled it out, you know, line by line. We had a good view of what the whole process was, you know, watching the tape, breaking it down for us, I thought that he did an amazing job with that.
And then all of the witnesses to come back and just kind of support what he laid out in the beginning. So, I feel good about what the prosecution is doing.
COOPER: What do you -- what do you hope comes out of this trial? I mean, obviously, this is a pursuit for justice for George Floyd, for your family. On a larger picture, you know, so many people are watching this trial, hearing all the evidence, thinking about these issues, and I'm wondering if there's a larger -- something larger that you hope comes out of it?
TATE: Most definitely, like you said, you know, we had from the very onset had two things in mind. One that there would be conviction for all of the officers involved in the murder of George and then also that we will see some true change take place.
And so I think the climate that we're in right now from his death being the catalyst for the movement, we've seen all over the world with people, you know, protesting and pushing for some change.'
So I think, for us, you know, not having his death being in vain and actually seeing some change for generations to come is what we had hoped to see.
COOPER: I know you're working for that with the George Floyd Foundation. I really appreciate your time tonight and I wish you well in the days ahead.
TATE: Thank you so much for having me.
COOPER: Thank you, Shareeduh Tate. Coming up next, we'll have an update on the breaking news out of Texas
we told you about at the top of the program, another mass shooting happened at a workplace northwest of Houston. A live report when we continue.
COOPER: We're now on the breaking news out of Texas where there's been yet another mass shooting. At least one person is dead, five others wounded including a Texas State Trooper.
Our Ed Lavandera is there. So what happened, Ed?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. Well, this shooting took place in this business complex on the north side of Bryan, Texas, back over those trees that you see over there. Police have cordoned off that area.
Investigators say this afternoon of what they believe to be an employee, walked into the cabinet manufacturing business here in Bryan and started shooting. One employee described to a local affiliate here in Bryan that it sounded as if some of the machinery was having issues and then that's when everybody inside the business started to run.
LAVANDERA: In the end here, one person was killed, five others wounded. Four of those that have been wounded, we are told are in critical condition tonight and the gunman was able to get away from the scene before officers arrived and was then pursued into a neighboring county and that is where it's believed that the gunman also fired and hit a State Trooper that was pursuing him in that neighboring county. We are told that that State Trooper is in serious, but stable condition tonight.
Police here in Bryan, Anderson say they believed the suspect used a handgun in the shooting. But they do not know at this point what the motive might be or what set him off at this point.
They are not releasing his name yet, but they continue to work the scene here behind me in Bryan, Texas -- Anderson.
COOPER: So at this point, they don't know a motive, or at least they're not saying of one.
LAVANDERA: They do not know a motive, at least that they're not -- they're not saying anything publicly. They're continuing to interview witnesses and employees at the business. The Police Chief here in Bryan did say that the gunman was an employee of the business. It's not clear if he was a current employer or a former employee, but definitely has some sort of connection to this cabinet manufacturing business here in Bryan.
COOPER: All right, Ed Lavandera appreciate it. Thank you.
The shooting came only a few hours after President Biden announced a series of executive actions on guns after a wave of other mass shootings that he said were, quote, "a blemish" on the nation.
The President referenced yet another mass shooting that happened yesterday afternoon in South Carolina, a doctor, his wife and two of their grandchildren were killed in their home. Authorities state that a former NFL player was the suspect and then he died of a self- inflicted gunshot wound.
Among the measures he announced today was one to restrict so-called ghost guns, weapons that can be built from parts and instructions purchased online.
He once again called on Congress to pass stronger legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whether Congress acts or not, I'm going to use all the resources at my disposal as President to keep the American people safe from gun violence, but there's much more that Congress can do to help that effort and they can do it right now.
They've offered plenty of thoughts and prayers, Members of Congress, but they passed not a single new Federal law to reduce gun violence.
Enough prayers, time for some action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Joining me now is Georgia Representative Lucy McBath, whose 17-year-old son was shot and killed back in 2012 while sitting in a car with a group of friends at a gas station.
Congresswoman McBath, I appreciate you being with us. You ran for Congress, in part because of the killing of your son in 2012. With today's Executive Action, do you think the President is moving fast enough when it comes to gun control?
REP. LUCY MCBATH (D-GA): Well, what I know is that President Biden understands the pain of losing someone, and it was definitely apparent in the Rose Garden today as he spoke directly to survivors like myself and advocates, he made it clear that this administration -- his administration is willing to fight to keep all of our families safe.
And of course, we know that this is a -- this is a problem that is going to take some time to dampen. It's going to take some time to create an environment in which people feel safe in their communities, and so everything that he is doing is tangible.
These are tangible actions that we know right now are building a really strong foundation, of course, which Congress, we have to build upon this foundation. But these are tangible efforts that he is willing to put, you know, forth right now, he and Vice President Harris to make sure that we're keeping our families safe.
COOPER: Obviously, as a candidate, President Biden made a lot of promises around gun reform legislation from reinstating an assault weapons ban, for appealing liability protections for gun manufacturers. Obviously, he hasn't moved on those proposals.
And given, you know, the situation that he's in, you know, his position that legislating is, quote, "a matter of timing." How patient are you willing to be?
MCBATH: In this culture of gun violence, which has been building and building for years, Anderson, it is going to take some time, it is not going to happen overnight. And every piece of policy that we put forth, every move that we make, everything that we do each and every single day is building a culture for safer communities, and he is acting to save lives.
But Congress, we are the ones that have to act. We are the ones that are responsible and accountable for our constituents, so it is up to us to do right by Americans and put forth these life-saving measures. That's our responsibility.
COOPER: Do you have any hope of Congress actually doing anything?
MCBATH: Yes, I do. The fact that I was able to lead a letter with my colleagues that we were able to appropriate and secure $25 million to study the effects of gun violence, do that research, collect that data to substantiate the policies that we need to put forth to save lives. We are moving forward. But, you know, sometimes we have to lose forward. But we are moving forward and we're building a community of activists and movement builders on the ground and, you know, gun violence prevention organizations and my colleagues that are not willing to lay down on this. We are not giving up.
COOPER: Congressman McBath, I appreciate your time and I'm so sorry for your loss.
MCBATH: Thank you so much.
COOPER: Thank you.
(voice-over): Ahead, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin stays with CNN for an exclusive interview about his relationship with President Biden and the control he now has over the President's agenda in a divided Senate.
And later a dramatic turn in case that could have a direct impact on the federal probe of Congressman Matt Gaetz were attorneys for an associate of Gaetz, who's currently sitting in jail said today, when we continue.
COOPER: The one man who may control the fate of President Biden's agenda is not making life easy for his fellow Democrats. In a new editorial West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin says he opposes weakening the filibuster and he doesn't want Democrats to normalize reconciliation a process that bypasses the ability to filibuster some legislation. Effectively the stance could block the President's agenda in a divided Senate.
In a CNN exclusive interview with Senator Manchin, our congressional correspondent Lauren Fox discusses his role as power broker.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The other Joe who holds the power in Washington clear and unequivocal tonight.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): No more killing the filibuster.
FOX (voice-over): The reason, Senator Manchin tells CNN the insurrection at the Capitol.
MANCHIN: January 6 changed me and I was very clear with everybody. I never thought in my life, I never read in history books, to where our form of government had been attacked at our seat of government, which is Washington D.C., our Capitol by our own people.
Now the British did it, but not Americans. So something told me, wait a minute, pause, hit the pause button, something's wrong. You can't have this many people split to where they want to go to war with each other.
FOX (voice-over): Insisting the only way to move past the animosity is by working together.
MANCHIN: I think we can find a pathway forward, I really do. I'm going to be sitting down with both sides and understanding where everybody's coming from. We should have an open, fair and secure election. If we have to put guard rails on, we can put guard rails on so people can't take advantage of people. And I believe there are Republicans that feel exactly like I feel.
FOX (voice-over): How does that affect his relationship with the White House?
MANCHIN: They've been very, very kind and talking. We do talk, we have communication.
FOX (on-camera): How often?
MANCHIN: As often as I would like, as often as they were like, I'm always, you know, with President whenever --
FOX (on-camera): The President directly?
MANCHIN: Whenever he calls me, he calls me we have a good conversation. We've had a good friendship and relationship for a long time we understand each other.
FOX (voice-over): And he has a warning for fellow Democrats, slow down on thoughts of ramming through legislation, like voting rights. (on-camera): Some progressives think that you're standing in the way of significant changes the President could make on voting rights, because you don't want to get rid of the filibuster, other changes that they could make on gun reforms --
MANCHIN: (INAUDIBLE) of all these changes, if we try to work towards the middle, you can't work in the fringes. You just cannot work in the fringes. We want fair, open security elections. And what Georgia has done some things which I thought were just atrocious. OK. But I'm also been a secretary state and I've been a governor. And I know the 10th Amendment. I know my rights as far as states rights. And I don't think there should be a over -- overreaching, if you will, federal elections.
FOX (on-camera): What he just --
MANCHIN: The guy -- you know, well, I'll tell you the one they did, which is unbelievable to me. They took away the powers of the election, Secretary State's Office and put it in the hands of the Congress. I mean, in their legislature. Now you have no one person that you can hold accountable for. You have a whole legislative 100 people or more. That's crazy.
FOX (voice-over): And gun control.
MANCHIN: I support what the President did today. From what I heard, OK, what he's doing on executive order. Now, there's an awful lot of the things he talked about, but the executive order says, ghost guns should not be allowed to be legally made or sold or used. It's illegal, because they're making them all for printers and can't detect it.
FOX (on-camera): But you still can't support the House pass background check though?
MANCHIN: Not the way the House bill is, but they're you know, that's negotiations.
FOX (on-camera): Had there been any negotiations over this recess?
MANCHIN: We haven't gotten the bill yet. No, we haven't.
FOX (on-camera): OK.
MANCHIN: And I'm happy to work with him, sit down. And I think that just we call common gun sense. And if you come from a gun culture, such as I do in West Virginia, I don't think there's a person. I don't know personally. I have a gun. OK. It's a different background. I'm anxious to work with them and try to do something in a most constructive way.
FOX (voice-over): What does he think of his newfound role as rainmaker?
(on-camera): Some of your colleagues joke that you're the president of the Senate? Now, I've heard them in the hallways remark that to you, do you like this role? How does it feel?
MANCHIN: Let me tell you about and I said this before, I'll say it again, I've watched people that had power and abused it. I've watched people that sought power and destroyed themselves. And I've watched people that had a moment of time to make a difference and change things and use it. I would like to be that third.
FOX (voice-over): And while he may not like the role he has been given. He says he knows he has a real friend in the other Joe.
MANCHIN: I'm so pleased to understand that we have a person sitting in the White House that understands legislating. Understands how Congress works and should work and understands that basically, we've got to represent the people that we represent. And I'm representing West Virginia to the best of my ability, and I'm trying to speak for my state.
COOPER: And Lauren Fox joins us now. It is remarkable the power that the Senator has.
FOX: Well, that's exactly right Anderson. Look, he is that 50 of the vote for Democrats. And Chuck Schumer, the majority leader can't pass anything that Biden sends over without Joe Manchin even using that special budget process known as reconciliation. He made it very clear today that what he thinks needs to happen is the Democrats and Republicans need to sit down and iron some of these issues out.
And we should know that really takes time and when you have someone like the House speaker saying she's hoping to pass infrastructure through her chamber by the July 4th recess, that doesn't leave you a ton of time to really have those negotiations with your Republican colleagues.
Manchin making it clear tonight that he does have some areas where he needs to work with his Democratic colleagues, as well, of course, Raphael Warnock the Senator from Georgia has been arguing that they need to get rid of the filibuster in order to pass the voting rights bill that already passed in the House of Representatives, at least just do a simple carve out.
Manchin making it clear to me he doesn't support that. But he did say when he gets back to Washington, he wants to get in a room with Warnock and then his other colleagues Senator Ossoff to try to have a conversation, to try to figure out if there might be a way to potentially bring Republicans into that discussion.
But it's important to remind viewers at home that Manchin doesn't need one or two Republicans to work with him, he needs 10 Republicans Anderson and that I just don't see the math right now in the U.S. Senate.
COOPER: Yes. Impressing. Lauren Fox, appreciate the interview. Thank you so much.
Just ahead, major potential trouble for Congressman Matt Gaetz, a stunning announcement in a separate legal matter involving a Florida politician and associate of Gaetz, who's currently in jail, Details on that when we come back.
COOPER: In a case that's closely tied to the fate of Congressman Matt Gaetz, federal prosecutors and the defense attorney for an associate of Gaetz made a pretty stunning revelation in court today. When they could have direct bearing on the federal probe of the Republican congressman and allegations about whether he broke sex trafficking and prostitution laws.
CNN's Paula Reid tonight was in the courtroom was now has details.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the investigation surrounding Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz enters a new phase as a key associate signals he might strike a plea deal with the government.
JOEL GREENBERG, FMR TAX COLLECTOR, FLORIDA: It really is an honor to be here today.
REID (voice-over): Joel Greenberg, a friend of Gaetz and a former tax collector in Seminole County, Florida is likely to enter a deal in his own criminal case raising the possibility he could cooperate with investigators as part of the deal.
FRITZ SCHELLER, ATTORNEY FOR JOEL GREENBERG: I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.
REID (voice-over): Greenberg's attorney was in court today and said any potential for cooperation would be worked out in conjunction with a plea deal.
SCHELLER: If somebody signs a cooperation agreement they're required to cooperate.
REID (voice-over): Gaetz's friendship with Greenberg is key to the federal investigation surrounding him, but two have been friends for years posting photos together. Gaetz even told a local radio station in 2017 that Greenberg would make a good member of Congress.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Joel Greenberg has gone into the Seminole County tax collector's office. He's taking it by storm. He's been a disrupter.
REID (voice-over): The plea deal is not finalized. But if the agreement goes through, it means one of Gaetz's close confidence would be cooperating with the government putting further pressure on the Congressman.
SCHELLER: Mr. Greenberg, if he accepts a plea, or a plea agreement he want it will show his sense of remorse, which he does have and a sense of acceptance of responsibility. Number two, I think he's uniquely situated.
REID (voice-over): Greenberg has been awaiting trial in jail after violating the terms of his bail earlier this year. He is charged with 33 criminal counts, including allegations of stalking and harassing a political opponent also included one count of sex trafficking a child between the ages of 14 and 17.
While details in the court records for this charge are scant investigators believe Greenberg recruited multiple women online for sex. And then he introduced the women who received cash payments to Gaetz who had sex with them too according to The New York Times. Gaetz has denied all allegations writing on Monday, I have never ever paid for sex. And second, I as an adult man have not slept with a 17-year- old.
GAETZ: Providing for flights and hotel rooms for people that you're dating who are of legal age is not a crime.
REID (voice-over): But a source tells CNN, investigators are examining whether any federal campaign money was involved in paying for travel and expenses for the women. And now, federal investigators are scrutinizing a trip Gaetz took to the Bahamas, and whether women were paid to travel for sex with the Congressman and others, a potential federal crime sources tell CNN.
As part of a broader probe, investigators want to know if Gaetz was accepting paid escorts and travel in exchange for political favors according to people familiar with the investigation. Gaetz's lawyer was declined to comment but a spokesman for Gaetz denied the allegations to CBS News, calling them part of a general phishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults.
Paula Reid, CNN, Orlando.
COOPER: Well let's get some perspective from Norm Eisen, former ethics czar for the Obama White House and a CNN legal analyst. And back with us CNN senior legal analyst, Laura Coates.
So Ambassador Eisen, you heard Paula, if prosecutors are thinking about offering Joel Greenberg a plea deal, what does it say to you about their case so far?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Anderson, thanks for having me back. It says to me that Mr. Greenberg must have something very serious given the nature of the charges against him. In order to get a plea deal, he's going to have to give something up. And based on all the evidence that we know, publicly, it looks like evidence against Congressman Matt Gaetz, is that thing that he's going to need to trade for. COOPER: And Laura when in a plea deal situation, do -- I assume prosecutors know what is on the table, what is being offered? I mean, they know the range of what somebody can testify to.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: They will know the foundation for why the person's willing to sort of scratch my back, if you scratch mine, et cetera, scratch yours. But the idea here it could be a much wider net that's cast once the plea deal arrangement. In other words, a cooperation agreement is out there, then you have the opportunity to delve in even deeper. There may be other people, bigger fish, smaller fishes, a wider net being cast.
But remember, agreeing to sign a cooperation deal does not end your obligations to the federal government. That's where the story really begins. And until you've actually been sentenced, you're on the hook for providing information throughout that. And sometimes cooperation agreements don't end until you've actually provided the testimony that you've said you're going to provide. You backed up the information in some way, and sometimes can often lead to a conviction, it can be very broad to secure that if the government's going to drop the what 33 felony charges against you or reduce it in any way. You better have something to show for it because prosecutors don't just bring cases based on a hunch they already have the evidence when they have the indictment.
COOPER: Norm, I mean, after the hearing today, Greenberg's attorney said quote, I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today. We showed that clip. It's kind of a snarky thing to say for an attorney. I'm not quite sure I understand the strategy of saying it whether there's maybe there's no strategy at all, but is not sure why he would kind of want to particularly worry Matt Gaetz, if there isn't even yet a sign plea deal.
EISEN: Anderson, it was a miscue that is not best practice for a defense lawyer. Yhe best thing to do and I done it for decades, and in representing individuals, the best thing to do is to be very neutral until that deal is done. Prosecutors will look askance at that kind of grandstanding. But that being said, I think the intent was to signal to the world what I'm sure Mr. Greenberg's lawyers have been saying to the government, we can give you Matt Gaetz.
And part of what's going on now is, they're proffering as we put it, sharing evidence, and ultimately, the government will want to sit down with Mr. Greenberg himself before they do a cooperation agreement, before they do a plea to see if that in artful statement is true and how Mr. Greenberg presents.
COOPER: And Laura, there is I mean, given the number of charges against the this, this guy, Greenberg, any sense of how many charges could I mean, what kind of an impact a plea deal would have on his potential sentencing?
COATES: Well, normally, it would be in a plea agreement. Even with this scope of charges, there might be some that they're willing to reduce in terms of either what they're going to ask for a sentence, if they do plead guilty, or reduce the number of charges or even as a possibility, you could have a multiple number of convictions, but ask for sentence to actually run with a call concurrently meaning, it's not going to be back-to-back-to-back-to-back to be able to get the wide scope of charges. But it's also signals to a lot of people here to Norm's point maybe who is not being asked to cooperate.
And sometimes when the defense is trying to tell the world, hey, here's who we have information on. It might signal who the government is interested in finding out information about and who does not -- who is not in the good graces. What you're seeing here is the persona non grata who started to form here, and it appears to be Congressman Gaetz.
But again, just saying in front of a camera, prosecutors need more, it's more than innuendo, more than insinuation, they want evidence. And likely they want corroboration and what they may or may not already have.
COOPER: Norm, it's so interesting that Congressman Gaetz chooses to fundraise off. I mean, I know how interesting it is. I mean, it's probably this is what they do. But the fact I mean, I don't know if it's like chutzpah or what, but the fact that he's fundraising off of this, I mean, generally, you would think if somebody is, you know, facing potential charges and investigation, and they're the person they've been paddling around with and doing all sorts of things with is in jail and potentially going to give a plea deal. They might just be a little humble.
EISEN: Well --
COOPER: Or at least just quiet.
EISEN: Anderson, having worked on the House Judiciary Committee, when Congressman Gaetz was a member, I can tell you that humility is the last thing that will come his way, but it's not smart for his exposure. He has been all over the map, making public statements about this. He's decided to try it in the court of opinion -- public opinion. You know, he's taken the wrong lessons from his role model ex-President Trump. Here, every Statement he's made is potentially incriminating, and can work against him.
COOPER: Yes. Norm Eisen, Laura Coates, appreciate it. Thank you.
Up next, how mother took down the Ku Klux Klan after the lynching of her son.
COOPER: She facedown in the KKK and she won. Here's part of the powerful story of a grieving black mother after the lynching of her son and her fight for justice.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That morning, one of my cousins Carla said they believe it's Michael, it's him. That's all I could say was, it's him. I was just numb. I couldn't believe that this was happening. And (INAUDIBLE) I looked outside my mom's dough. And it was people everywhere. I mean, everywhere in the neighborhood they had come from for and near. My sister Cynthia Hamilton, she went to identify the body with my husband.
SEN. VIVIAN FIGURES (D-AL): All he had done was left his mom's house that night to walk to the service station to buy a pack of cigarettes. Not knowing what was waiting for him. I can only imagine what Mrs. Donald went through.
COOPER: That is an excerpt from "THE PEOPLE VERSUS THE KLAN" a new CNN original series. It's going to premiere this Sunday night with back- to-back episodes beginning at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. It's extraordinarily powerful.
The news continues right now. I want to hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris.