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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  April 7, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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born april 7th, 1921 tess warren g harding was president. she lives in georgia, the town threw her a birthday parade. she says her secret to a long life -- keep moving, treat people the way you want to be treated. happy birthday. follow me or tweet the show. our coverage on cnn continues right now. welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." we're tracking key developments in the derek chauvin murder trial. new testimony echoing the growing chorus of witnesses who say chauvin used excessive force. the prosecution once again leaned heavily on police officers to testify against chauvin, including one expert witness who said chauvin used
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deadly force in a situation where no force was needed at all. he also told the court that floyd did not pose a threat to police or to the bystanders. let's go to sara sidner. she's covering the trial for us in minneapolis. the prosecution one against turned to law enforcement officers to bolster their argument that chauvin used excessive force against george floyd. >> reporter: that's right. there have been nine minneapolis police officers, both current and former, including the police chief, who have testified for the prosecution in this trial, who was accused murdering george floyd. on day 8 of testimony, we saw more police officers taking the stand against former police officer derek chauvin. so far, nine minneapolis current or former police officers, including the chief, have testified for the prosecution. on wednesday, two other officers testified.
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the lead investigator on the case for the minnesota bureau of criminal apprehension, and a prosecution expert on the use of force from the los angeles police department. >> do you have a pin to a degree of reasonable professional certainly, that the force used as shown in exhibit 254, whether that force being applied then for the restraint period which you have defined would constitute as deadly force? >> yes. >> what is that opinion? >> that it would. >> reporter: he was also asked about the crowd shouting at police as they restrained floyd. >> it would be possible for a loud group to distract the defendant from being attentive to george floyd, is that right? >> yes. >> do you believe that occurred? >> no, i do not. >> why is that? in the body 1 video, you can hear mr. floyd displaying his comfort and pain.
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you also can hear the defend responding to him. >> please. please. ahh. i can't breathe. >> relax. >> reporter: he testified about the medical complication as an officer himself when putting pressure on someone's body. >> how long have the dangers of positional asphyxiation been known? >> at least 20 years. >> reporter: set saw the interaction to make his assessment as to whether the use of force was necessary once floyd was handcuffed and laying on the ground. >> the severity of the crime at issue, did that change during the restraint period? >> no, the crime was still that mr. floyd was in possession of a fake $20 bill. >> reporter: chauvin's attorney
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weed his expertise. >> have you previously testified in any court or state or federal court as an expert on the police use of force? >> i have not. >> you've never been trained by the minneapolis police department. >> no, i have not. >> reporter: it was argued that the crowd was distracting chauvin. >> let me see your other hand. >> reporter: trying to make one point of the defense theory even clearer, that drugs, not chauvin's actions, killed george flow. >> does it sound like "i ate too many drugs"? >> i can't make that out, no. >> so in the chaos of the situation, things can be missed, right? >> yes. >> reporter: the next police witness, james reyerson disputed the interpretation. >> i think he's saying "i ain't
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done no drugs." >> reporter: we've been listening to mckenzie anderson, a forensic sciencist looking at the forensics. she's being asked about some of the items the defense was talking about, for example, a pill in the car where she tested that pill. we're wait to go hear more of her testimony as the trial will resume in a few seconds here. >> stand by, sara. i want to bring in elliott williams and ron johnson. elliott, this expert with the los angeles police department, testified that chauvin used deadly force, and in his own words, no force should have been used once floyd was handcuffed and on the ground. how important was it to hear that from an outside expert? >> right, look, you know, the
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prosecution put on a lot of different witnesses, police witnesses. i've heard a 234u78 better of individuals who say, they might be overdoing it, hering going too far calling too many witnesses. the simple fact is the reasonable dowd standard in criminal trials, you hear these terms all the time. it's a very, very high bar to meet. particularly in a trial of a police officer, where the public is often predisposed against convicting a police officer, including outside witnesses. now, the defense attacked him, or the fact that he's paid, but that's not an uncommon strategy by defense attorneys to poke holes in the potential bias. yes, it was important for the prosecution to put him on. he game quite compelling testimony. >> captain johnson, throughout this trial, we keep hearing about what's called proportion
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at use of force. tell us why that's so critical to this case. >> i think because it coins si coincides with the actions of mr. floyd. in this case, it didn't. mr. floyd's actions lessened, and officer chauvin's actions continued. i think it was a good day of testimony. >> sara, is it clear yet how much more witnesses the prosecution plans to call? >> reporter: it doesn't just yet. we know there's a roster of potentially 400 witnesses. we have gone through 27, i think now, and we are entering obviously the mid second week of this trial. there is a lou of folks who i've talked to around here, analysts who say there's no way that either side will call every
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single witness that they have put there, who are potential witnesses. i do want to say this one thing about inside the court today. we saw something different reported, which is the jury. the reporters inside are talking about what the jury is doing. the jury throughout this, up until day, have been pretty much riveted. they didn't take their eyes off the witness unless they were taking notes. today, yes, they're still paying attention, but there are times when they lose a bit of focus, because this has now gone into the second week and they're hearing some of the same information over and over, but they certainly looked up with the issue of what george floyd said that came up, whether i was doing drugs or i'm not doing drugs, that seemed to spark their attention. we should say we listen to do that over and over and over again when we got that video. it is have i hard to hear. i certainly couldn't tell myself
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exactly what was being said. >> that's at important point, elliott. there's clearly a lot of confusion about what george floyd exactly said. the defense arguing that he said i ate too many drugs, but others are suggesting i ain't do no drugs. so tell us why this is relevant. >> this is backing up exactly what what sara said, anybody who can listen to that video and can come to a conclusion what he said, should sell you a bridge in brooklyn. what the defense is doing is creating a question of fact. this will play into the cause of death, was there drugs in his system or not.
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it will not make other break the case, but it's still one of the doubts that they can plant in jurors' heads and they have to get to sufficiently through to one juror. now, that defies common sense. a man ends up debt ad after a k on his neck. captain johnson, whatever he said, didn't chauvin have an obligation to get george floyd medical care? >> he did. so he had an obligation, he had the training. we've had a number of witnesses who have come up and talked about the training and what the officers are equipped to do. he definitely -- that's a part of his duty. so i think it's hard to get around that. >> let me also get your
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thoughts, captain johnson that so far, at least eight current or former members of the police department have testified against the former police officer. how unusual is that? >> i think this is the first time in our country we have ever seen this in trials like this, where the department has stood on what is right. i think down from the chief to the dispatcher, so i think that is very important. i think that that will be -- it's really impactful to the jury. >> we'll have more coming up hear. guys, thank you very, very much. coming up president biden making a major push to his infrastructure proposal. he's his's open to compromises. plus congressman me congres is getting a boost from former president trump.
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embattled congressman matt gaetz is getting a boost from former president trump, who just released a statement saying they never considered a pardon.
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he's defending allegations that he had a relationship with a 17-year-old girl. >> reporter: tonight matt gaetz in search of support and getting a returned favor from the man he spent years defending and praising. >> president trump sometimes raises his voice and a ruckus. he knows that's what it takes to raise an army of patriots who love america and will protect her. >> reporter: former president trump weighing in publicly for the first time, responding to reports, confirmed by cnn, that the former congressman approached allying of the president, requesting a blanket pardon for himself before trump left the white house. trump denying that gaetz ever asked him personally for a problem and saying, quote, it must be remembered he has totally denied the allegations against him. >> it's a horrible allegation
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and a lie. >> in his short time in washington, the florida congressman has gone out of hi way to attach himself to trump, as demonstrated in the hbo documentary "the swamp." >> mr. president, i don't need anything, sir, just calling to tell you you did a great job today. we're going to keep fighting with all we've got. >> reporter: gaetz defending trump even when some republicans were unwilling. >> my fellow patriots, don't by shy and don't be sorry. join me as we proudly represent the pro-trump america first wing of the conservative movement. >> reporter: gaetz went to the house floor after the deadly insurrection and claimed, without evidence, that it was groups like black lives matter and antifa to blame for the violence, not trump. >> this morning president trump explicitly called for
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demonstrations and protests to be peaceful. he was far more -- you can moan and groan, but he was far more explicit about his calls for peace that is some of the blm and left-wing rioters were this summer when we saw vilens sweep across this nation. >> reporter: during the first impeachment -- >> behind those doors, they intend to overturn the results of an american presidential election, we want to know what's going on. it's only reasonable we would have questions. >> reporter: he has little battled his fellow republicans, those he deems not loyal enough to the trump maga movement. he traveled to wyoming to attack liz cheney, who voted to impeach trump after the insurrection. >> you can send a representative who actually represents you, and you can send liz cheney home.
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back home to washington, d.c. >> reporter: while former president trump is offering gaetz a modicum of support, it's far from enthusiastic. sources tell cnn that the former president is being advised to stay away from the scandal. meanwhile the congressman showing no signs he's backing away. he's sent out multiple fund-raising requests. and he's expected to be out on friday in florida. >> ryan noble, thanks very much. let's get some analysis from pahreet, and dana bash. you think this is something that an innocent person would typically behave like this? >> uh, no, and the typical guilty person, for that matter,
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doesn't have a close relationship with the president at the time of the united states of america. and it's an example of the culture that was created in the white house, that if you want a pardon, if you're roger stone -- the fact that you're matt gaetz, according to other sourceses, was lobbying for a broad, preemptive sweeping pardon, without any charges being brought to me is what the lawyers call consciousness of guilt. you know you've done something wrong, you want protection, here's a president handing south pardons right and left, maybe i should get one, too. >> in his statement, the former
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president trump said he was never asked for a pardon. carefully chosen words, i suspect. >> no question. that was very, very intentional. you know, just a reminder, for people who didn't read the "new york times" story which broke this and cnn's subsequent reporting on this very issue, there was no reporting specifically that said the ask went directly to the president. it wasn't clear. thank you to the former president for clearing that up, but leaving a very, very gaping hole in the notion of gaetz asking people in and around the former president. it was definitely confirmation by omanages, from the way i'm looking at it. >> the way that system was written. preet, the "new york times" also records that some have theorized that the decision to seek
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pardons for multiple people may have been a way to disguise his own potential legal exposure. what do you make of that? >> it's a weird strategy, it seems to me. on the one hand, if it turns out that he was trying to get coverage for criminal conduct he was liable for because of this investigation and the indictment of his associate joel greenberg in florida, yeah, sure, you bring in other congressmen and say there's a group of us who have had witch hunts launched against them vaguely by the public, so give us all a pardon. on the other hand it made it more remote the likelihood, even that white house, the trump white house, which was pretty generous with pardons, would willy-nilly pick a group of sitting congressmen and give them blanket parts without
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specifics. >> i get it on one level, but on another level, i don't get it. >> it's interesting. trump may have released this short two-sentence statement on paper, but his republican colleagues in congress are essentially silent right now. what does that say to you? >> the sounds of that silence is quite deafening, because there is virtually -- with notable exceptions -- jim jordan, also a staunch defender for no matter what, will go to the nth degree to support president trump -- and marjorie taylor greene -- for the most parts there have been crickets except kevin mccarthy, who said they were going to have a conversation. we don't know if that conversation has ever taken place, and also said if matt gaetz is indicted, if there are actual charges brought again him, he would have to be removed from the judiciary committee on
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which he sits. the one thing i will remind you is congress has been on recess since this whole thing exploded. it's a very different dynamic, atmosphere when these leaders are walking in front of cameras talking about that i agenda and message, and then they get questions from reporters. my question is whether that will change the dynamic, and it if there's more reporting that will add to that. >> preet, where do you think this goes from here? i suspect one nightmare for gaetz, is if his associate flips, in the hopes of a reduced sentence, decides to speak out against his friend. >> i think it's reasonable speculation. you have a person who has a number of charge that keep getting added to his in2k50i789.
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he's facing a substantial prison term if he's convicted at trial, and in that situation, as beef learned, the best way to help yourself is to provided substantial assistance about some other person who the federal government might think is a substantial target. any sitting congressman who takes an oath to uphold the constitution and in a position of trust is such a target. there are questions whether or not matt gaetz used public funds to engage in this conduct, so yeah, i think it's a dire situation, and i think we'll find out relatively soon if his associate has this fact flipped. >> thank you both. up next, the cdc says the more contagious covid strange, first identified in the uk, is not dominant here in the united states. will vaccines be able to keep up with the growing threat? we'll be right back. aa insurance for veterans like martin.
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early this afternoon president biden argued very strongly for miss infrastructure plan, trying to overcome resistance from republicans, as well as from some democrats. let's go to our chief white house correspondent. kaitlan collins says he's now open to compromise. >> reporter: he did. this was in a speech that seemed to be squarely aimed as republicans. he says while he did believe change is probably inevitable, he is not willing to do nothing. of course, wolf, the problem is
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they're fighting over what the definition of "infrastructure" is. >> it's photoa plan that tinkers arrange the edge the. >> reporter: republicans say he's attempting to redefine what it means. >> we invest today so these jobs will be here in america tomorrow. >> reporter: biden arguing infrastructure isn't just roads and bridges, but water pipes, electric grids and broadband, too. >> but to automatically say the only thing that's infrastructure is a highway, a bridge, that's just not rational. >> reporter: republican lawmakers say the president is stretching the definition by including hundreds of billions for home care services and electric vehicle charging stations in a pack age they say should be more narrowly focused. >> when people think about infrastructure, they're thinking roads, bridges, ports, airports.
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>> reporter: biden arguing to expand that definition. >> do we think the rest of the world is waiting around? take a look. do you think china is waiting around to invest in the digital infrastructure? i promise you, they are not waiting. >> reporter: biden's plan is for a issing an uphill battle in congress, but not just from the other party. moderate democrats like senator joe manchin have come out against his proposal to raid the corporate tax rate to 28%, though biden said today, he's open to negotiating. >> i'm not trying to punish everybody, but damn it, maybe it's because i come from a middle-class neighborhood. i'm sick and tired from ordinary people being pleased. >> reporter: at least two corporations have supported the move. >> do you support a tax rate to pay for it? >> i do. i think it's important to make
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investments in the country and the economy. >> reporter: with coronavirus infections rising in the u.s., passing his infrastructure bill is far from being biden's biggest challenge. >> the b.1.1.7 variety is the most common lineage circulating in the united states. >> reporter: dr. walensky confirming that the uk variant is now the most common strain in the united states. studies have shown it is more contagious, more dangerous, and main even deadlier. >> it is the most common lineage, period. >> reporter: with three vaccines authorized dr. anthony fauci says studies have shown a minimum of six months' protection and likely longer. it persists at least through six months and likely, from the shape of the curve, well beyond that. >> reporter: a fourth potential vaccine from astrazeneca hasn't
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been authorized in the u.s. yet, but is facing further setbacks in european countries over concerns about rare blood clots. dr. fauci saying we have three excellent vaccines even if the fda confirms this, we don't need yet another very good vaccine. wolf, tomorrow here at the white house we will see president biden signing executive actions on guns, which he said was emi emimminent a few weeks ago. they will likely petsch to ghost guns, strengthening background checks. we do know we're expected him to nominate once to run the bureau of alcohol, tobacco and
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firearms. -- and he is expected to nominate him tomorrow when he is making these announcements next to the attorney general, wolf. >> kaitlan collins reporting from the white house. thanks very much, especially on this very important day. i think i speak for all of our viewers here around the your honor -- united states and around the world, happy birthday. >> reporter: thank you, wolf. i'm joined by our chief medical correspondent, dr. sanjay gupta. the fact that the variant first identified in the united kingdom is now officially the most common variant here in the united states, what does that mean for containment of the virus and the vaccine roll-out? >> well, you know, first of all, i think this has probably been the case where it's been the dominant strain for some time. there's a real lag between the time of genetic sequencing and
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saying what they said today. we know in certain states this variant hayes really 60%, 75%. we've seen obviously the numbers go up in michigan, of people who are newly infected. that's the big concern. things maybe you could have gotten away with before, you have to be more vigilant in terms of masking, distancing, things like that. good news from people who have been protected, you should be well protected from becoming severely ill. >> dr. fauci, as you well know, says we have three effective vaccines here in the united states that likely will offer protection for at least six months, probably a lot longer than that.
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when do you think we'll know exactly how long they're effective for? >> some of this, wolf, just comes with the passage of time. i think you can make predictions, you know, based on what the antibody levels are like at six months. sometimes you look historically and say people who got infected with sars, for example, back in 2003, how long did those antibodies last. we don't know. there's a good chance it could last much longer. what they're saying with know know it lasts at least six months, and hopefully it will last a long time. the benefit of the vaccine versus infection is the vaccine should be a longer and more durable protection. >> we get a flu shot once a year. maybe we'll have to get a covid shot once a year. dr. gupta, thanks very much. >> you got it. just ahead, more financial fallout for georgia, amid a
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growing corporate pressure campaign against the state's new restrictive voting law. i will speak more with the mayor of atlanta. there she is. ten congressional democrats have joined a growing lawsuit against the former president, donald trump. we have new information. when we found out our son had autism, his future became my focus. lavender baths calmed him. so we made a plan to turn bath time into a business. ♪ ♪
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[sfx: psst psst] aallergies don't have to be scary.about humira. spraying flonase daily stops your body from overreacting to allergens all season long. psst! psst! all good let's discuss this with the pay yor of atlanta, mayor bottoms, thank you for joining us. i know you just issued an executive order to mitigate the impact. you obviously can't change the state law, but what does this do? >> thank for you having me. the new executive order i issued will inform or 1.2 million water
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customers in the city of atlanta on ways that they can access voting. we'll also change our customer service operators so if people call, needing information on how they can get an absentee ballot, where they can drop off an absentee ballot, how do they secure the identification that's needed for voting, we will offer all of that to people in the city of atlanta. hopefully it will help offset some of the system issues that are includeding in voting bit. >> it's important to do that kind of education. mitch mcconnell is now trying to walk back some of his comments so that corporations like major league baseball, were stupid, in his words, to wade into voting rights, but he said ceo ought to read the damn bill. that's a direct quote. how do you respond? >> i have read the bill.
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i know exactly what's in that bill. what that bill does is strips the secretary of state of a place on the state election board. it also gives the republican-controlled legislature an opportunity to take over county voting -- county election offices. if you think of fulling county and decab county, that's primarily a -- primarily democrat areas, it would essentially be controlled by the republican-controlled legislature. there are many challenges with those bills. i don't know if mitch mcconnell has read it. i've read all 98 pages and seen the multitude of issues inherent in this bill. >> the sat thing is georgia is all right taking a huge economic hit with the all-star game being moved from atlanta to denver potentially, we're told, that could be a $100 million loss to
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atlanta, but you say it won't be the last boycott. is taking a stand against these voting restrictions and a lot of people are wondering, is it worth the economic price? >> so the irony of it, wolf, is that the governor opened up our state early in the middle of a pandemic under the guys of economic recovery. with one signature, he's wiped it out. if you think of the big events we host in atlanta, we're up to host the world cup. you have the all-star game that's already moved. we just hosted the nba all-star game. we've hosted a super bowl, college national championship. those are just sporting events. and many more that i have not named. you think of the corporations that potentially will be boy coit, that people are calling for a boycott in our state. this could be devastating. metro atlanta is the tenth largest economy in the nation,
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and my concern is that as people boycott this state, it will be the metropolitan area that will be hardest hit, an area that voted for joe biden and kamala harris, ossoff and warnock. it's unfortunate we've been placed in this position. it's silly, unnecessary, and it will be devastating to millions of people across our state. >> atlanta is a city i love, as you well know. it was where cnn was born back in 1980. it's a great city you have. good luck, mayor couldisha lance bottoms. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. coming up, a lawsuit against donald trump accusing him of inciting the riot on the capitol. ten more have joined? later i'll speak with benjamin crump, an attorney for the george floyd family. we'll be right back.
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ten democratic members of congress have just joined in a lawsuit against former president trump and rudy giuliani accusing them of inciting the january 6th riot. and the former president is taking a lot of heat from all directions, inncluding from joh boehner. jessica schneider has more. >> reporter: john boehner is unleashing on the former president in his new memoir, writing that trump incited the
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insurrection for his personal reasons. boehner blasting trump's insistence that the election was rigged, taking advantage of the trust placed in him by his supporters and betraying them. sayi >> people who wanted to believe that message that the election was stolen, they rode with it, and they continue to ride with
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it. i think we've been had by propaganda, an offensive weapon to shape people's minds. and again, giving people what they want to hear, a sliver of truth. >> reporter: meanwhile, ten members of congress have joined a lawsuit against trump and rudy giuliani and the far-right extremist groups oath keepers and proud boys. it was first filed in february by benny thompson, but now ten democrats are sharing their stories of how they fled the house floor and huddled for hours. saying, as i sat in my office january 6th, i feared for my life, and thought i was glooingo die. the civil lawsuit is seeking
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unspecified damages from trump and the other defendants. more than 300 people have been charged for their role in the attack, and they're still appearing in court almost daily. but prosecutors have told a judge they're close to a plea deal with one defendant, john shafer. a 53-year-old with ties with extremist groups. he's still now sitting in jail. tonight, we're learning a separate defendant has flipped against the proud boys. agreeing to provide information that could allow prosecutors to bring more severe charges against the group's leadership. this is a significant development. >> and there's also some new video of noah green, shopping
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for a knife before the attack. what are you learning? >> reporter: we've learned that green actually purchased that knife 90 minutes before he attacked the officers at the capitol. and he bought it at this store, less than two miles from the capitol itself. the owner tells us he spent 22 minutes inside the store looking for glass display cases and he ultimately bought a $300 slicing knife. >> jessjessica, thank you. coming up, we'll have the latest updates on the late-breaking developments in the derek chauvin murder trial. we'll be right back. t-mobile for business uses unconventional thinking to help you realize new possibilities. like our new work from anywhere solutions, so your teams can collaborate almost anywhere. plus customer experience that finds solutions in the moment. ...and first-class benefits, like 5g with every plan.
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welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in the "situation room." we're following the derek chauvin murder trial right now. prosecutors are drilling deeper and deeper into the former police officer's use of force against george floyd. and floyd's ultimate death. new testimony, echoing what we heard from multiple current and former police officers who told jurors chauvin's use of force was excessive. an expert telling jurors that chauvin used deadly force in a situation where no force should have been used. the defense trying again to emphasize floyd's drug use as a way to try to explain his death. but witnesses pushed back against the defense's interpretation about what floyd said while been

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