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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  April 9, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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our deepest condolences to friends and family. may his memory be a blessing to his wife and his five kids. be sure to watch cnn's state of the union on sunday. my guests include pete buttigieg, democratic congressman james clyburn, hutchinson. our coverage on cnn continues right now. i'll see you sunday morning. welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in the situation room. dramatic new developments in the derek chauvin murder trial today. the medical examiner who conducted george floyd's autopsy says he stands by his ruling that it was a homicide. he did acknowledge a key theory put forward by the defense that floyd's drug use and heart problems played a role, but said they were not the direct cause. just before the medical examiner took the stand, the prosecution called on yet another forensic
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expert to testify that neither drugs nor health problems caused floyd's death. and we're also standing by for public remarks from the embattled congressman matt good faith s faith gaetz. let's get to senior national correspondent, sara sidner. she's covering the chauvin trial for us in minneapolis today. we heard important testimony from the medical examiner who conducted george floyd's autopsy. >> reporter: this is one of the most important witnesses. he's going to testify he was the one who did the autopsy on george floyd. and he was unequivocal in what he said how george floyd died, why george floyd died. no matter whether the prosecution or defense was asking him the questions. one of the most important witnesses in this case for both
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the prosecution and the defense took the stand today. >> you conducted the autopsy on mr. george floyd. >> i did. >> reporter: unlike the other medical experts, medical examiner andrew baker is the only person to testify that he did an autopsy on george floyd's body. he determined the cause and manner of death. >> the law enforcement sub redul restraint was more than he could take. >> reporter: asked if drugs or heart disease caused death. >> the fentanyl dis not cause the neck restraint. the heart disease did not cause the neck restraint. >> reporter: without those two things, done by derek chauvin and the other officers, mr. floyd would not have died, he testified. but the testifies tried to poke holes in his determinations. >> and so in your opinion, both the heart disease as well as the history of hypertension and the
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d drugs in his system played a role in mr. floyd's death. >> in my opinion, yes. >> also on the stand. >> state call for the first witness, lindsey thomas. >> unequivocal in her assessment of how george floyd died. >> there's no evidence to suggest he would have died that night. except for the interactions with law enforcement. >> reporter: she agreed with dr. baker's autopsy report that floyd's heart was enlarged and that he had drugs in his system. so chauvin's attorney then asked a hypothetical question. >> you find a person at home. no struggle with the police, right. and the person doesn't have a heart problem. but you find fentanyl and methamphetamine in this person's system at the levels that they are at. would you certify this as an overdose? >> again, in the absence of any of these other realities, yes.
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i could consider that to be an overdose. >> reporter: on redirect, she testified that is not how george floyd died. >> the cause of death was the law enforcement subdual restraint and compression and the manner of death is homicide. >> reporter: restraint and compression. restraint and compression. restraint and compression. we heard that over and over and over again from both of these medical experts and that is the difficulty for the defense. no matter which way he tried to get around that, tried to ask whether it could have been drugs or his heart disease, in the end, they both went back to the same exact sentence. it was because of constraint, restraint and compression that george floyd died. wolf? >> i want you to stick around, sara and bring in our legal analyst, elliott williams. the criminal defense attorney and the chief medical examiner for allegheny county,
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pennsylvania. dr. carl williams. elliott, the medical examiner. we heard the testimony. very powerful and dramatic. it said the police officer's actions were more than mr. floyd could take. so how high stakes was this testimony today? >> right. well, look, wolf. there are three words that matter in this trial. right, and the legal standard is substantial causal factor. were the actions of the police a substantial causal factor in george floyd's death and the simple fact is no one is disputing and the prosecutors aren't disputing the presence of methamphetamine or fentanyl or anything in george floyd's systems. but number one, looking at the medical examiner's report and all of the testimony, it is clear and doctor thomas's testimony confirmed the actions of the police were, "a," if not the substantial causal factor. assuming the presence of the other substances of the size of his heart or whatever, strip
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that all away and get down to what the law says. and it is just hard to see how the prosecution has not met this burden. stranger things has happened before in trials but it's hard to see how they haven't won on that point. >> dr. williams into this. the medical examiner, dr. williams, a medical examiner said heart disease and drugs played a role in mr. floyd's death but he also said those issues weren't the direct cause of death. it was a homicide as an expert in this area. what stood out to you? i think it's pretty clear it's a homicide and i think it's pretty clear that any medical examiner coroner faced with this set of facts is going to call it a homicide, only potential limited choices, leave it as quote unquote undetermined, but the facts aren't so clear. i don't think anybody would choose that option for that manner of death.
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the cause of death is more complex. you've heard some discussion of that. there's more ability to tell a story, that's what you try to do when you certify the cause of death. you try to summarize all the facts and tell a story. different medical examiners, different coroners are going to choose a variety of different ways of putting that in the first part of the death certificate, the cause of death. i think dr. baker did a very good job of putting that tog together, the pressure on the neck. the neck is an extraordinarily vulnerable area. we all know that and the police know that and everybody knows that. i think that needed to be on the first line of the cause of
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death. the second part of the death certificate which you've heard discussed as other significant conditions. you look at the facts and analyze all parts of the case and then you choose what to put in the other significant conditions and clearly, the presence is that there was fentanyl on board. clearly, the presence that he had heart disease or other significant conditions that contributed to the death with primary cause with pressure on the neck in the context of police restraint. >> you know, let me bring mark into this because the prosecution, mark, as you well know, doesn't need to prove that chauvin's actions were the only factor in mr. floyd's death. just that they were and elliott pointed this out, a substantial causal factor in his death. how does that testimony fit those parameters? >> well, wolf, a good team,
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legal defense team and legal prosecution team spends two-thirds of their time proving their case and you try to spend about a third of your time disproving the other side. in this case, they've had the luxury with all of these witnesses, with all of the evidence and they've done a very good job. they spent half their time if not more of dissecting and doing away with and literally destroying what the defense is going to argue because the defense is going to argue exactly what elliott said. it is not a significant contributing factor. so if so, then you have to come up with something else. the contributing factor is fentanyl, meth, heart. anything else other than chauvin and what the stage has done, i think, just wonderfully on their behalf was prove their case without question, but also dismantle the defense case and i don't know what the defense is going to be able to present. certainly, they'll have their own experts to counter some of these experts, but the jury has been so massaged with all of
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this information. it's going to be difficult to overcome. >> you're there on the scene for us and this was clearly very sensitive day talking about the autopsy. can you just explain a little more how this was handled in court, how the jurors seem to be reacting? >> they weren't writing as many notes as people have seen in the past with these medical experts. however, we are hearing that we are getting very close potentially to the prosecution wrapping up its case. as you might imagine, dr. baker who is the chief medical examiner here in hennepin county was one of their lynch pin witnesses and now that he's done and he is finished with his testimony and the cross has happened, we may have only one more witness for the prosecution. we could be hearing the defense's case very, very soon and, you know, as our guest just mentioned, as our medical examiner just mentioned there, they're going to probably put on
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experts who refute the experts that you have heard throughout this trial for the prosecution, but there are so many experts and their expertise world known in some cases that it is going to be an uphill battle. >> earlier today, elliott, the forensic pathologist broke down a complicated phrase from the autopsy. she said and she's an expert, it means an i'm quoting, now she said it means the activities of the law enforcement officers resulted in mr. floyd's death. but the medical examiner never really said it clearly. how important is it for the prosecution to simplify that for the jurors? >> right. well, if you notice what the prosecution did was put on two experts before they called the medical examiners, just a quick word, wolf. experts are on to testify as their opinions. they're people who don't have a direct connection to the case but they're testifying based on
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training and experience. you could make an argument that the medical examiner is a more important witness. i think the prosecution tried to blunt the testimony of the medical examiner because there was some ambiguity and the defense does have, for instance, it doesn't say asphyxia in the report and that's something the defense could exploit. the prosecution put a couple of witnesses on, very credible opinion witnesses to frame things up and put things in plain terms. okay, what's asphyxia? how did, what were mr. floyd's final moments like? get that on the record and then put the doctor who was quite technical and didn't really stray from his technical views, his technical findings on the medical exam report which was a clever way to put things on. because had that medical examiner, dr. baker testified earlier in the trial, i think this would have come out and felt very different, almost as a narrative matter. you have to hand it to the
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creativity of the prosecution because this isn't a foregone conclusion. the order you put witnesses on is itself a decision made by lawyers and that's how the prosecution chose to do it. >> you know, mark, what's the most important thing based on what's happened so far in the first two weeks? what's the most important thing the defense will need to do when they start to call their witnesses and make their case likely next week? >> they have to come up with an alternative theory of death. the only way they're going to get away from the strength of the state's case right now, as strong as it is and well founded as it is with not only the emotions of the first few days, but most importantly, the almost irrefutable testimony of all the experts. the only way the defense has a chance, and again, they don't have to prove innocence. they have to disprove reasonable doubt. the only way they'll get to that standard is if they have some compelling evidence to say, everything that the state witnesses said could be true. but it's not necessarily true and here's an alternative.
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here's a reasonable highypothes of innocence as we call it. if someone is strong on heart disease and fentanyl and meth, if some witness can really wedge in that reasonable doubt, that's the defense's chance and i think it's their only chance. >> do we have any idea, sara, how many witnesses the defense intends to call? >> reporter: no. we do have a list of witnesses but the list is just the 400 potential witnesses here. we do not think that all 400 will be called, but we will see and we're not even exactly sure whether or not the prosecution is actually going to only call one more witness. so we're just kind of waiting to see. we're all kind of waiting to see what's going to happen and we know that each day out of courtesy, the prosecution said, they do tell the defense who is coming up each night before and
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the defense, who was already prepared, certainly, will know who they need to cross examine each day the night before that witness takes the stand. it has been fascinating. i do want to add one more thing and we think of this on a larger scale, but really what the defense has to do is convince just one juror that the juror has some reasonable doubt because then that would be a hung jury and either retry the case or decide not to, whatever the prosecution decides to do. i'm sure that he plans on trying to do at least that. >> i'm sure. thank you very much. coming up, more news we're following. we stand by for public remarks from the embattled republican congressman, matt gaetz. hundreds of dollars to accused sex trafficker who then paid three young women that exact same amount. also, experts warn the u.s. is falling behind in the race against dangerous new
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coronavirus variants. we have new information. we'll share it with you. stand by. look at that scuffed up wall. embarrassing you. that wall is your everest. but not any more. today let's paint. behr. exclusively at the home depot.
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announced it's launching a
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formal investigation into the embattled florida republican congressman matt gaetz. the news comes hours before gaetz is supposed to give a highly anticipated speech down at the doral trump hotel in florida. go to cnn's randi kaye who has the very latest. >> reporter: congressman matt gaetz takes the stage under a cloud of suspicion which has even some members of his own party calling for him to resign. why does rep adam kinzinger think he should do? the evidence is stacking up. gaetz sent two late night venmo transactions in may 2018 for $900 to his friend joel greenburg, a former seminole county florida tax collector and accused sex offender. the next morning, according to the outlet, in an 8 minute span, greenburg used the same app to send three young women money totaling the same amount. >> we have our venmo payments that show payments from the congressman to this local official and then hours later,
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payments that add up to the same exact amount to three young women. one of whom later turned out to be a porn star and all of these women are extremely young. >> mean whag? >> well, one just turned 18 six months before that happened. >> reporter: cnn hasn't independently confirmed this report or what the money was used for. from the start, gaetz has denied doing anything wrong. >> it is a horrible allegation. >> reporter: took to the bahamas and whether women were paid to travel for sex with the congressman and others. that is a potential federal crime. cbs news which first reported on the trip to the bahamas was told by a spokeswoman representative gaetz has never paid for sex, nor has he had sex with an underage girl. what began with blaring headlines about sex trafficking has now turned into a general fishing exercise about vacations and consensual relationships with adults. it's unclear what greenburg may
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know but he and gaetz were good friends. >> he's uniquely situated. >> reporter: greenburg's lawyer now signaling he's willing to make a plea deal with investigators. >> does he have anything to worry about? and you're asking me to get into the mind of matt gaetz? i'm sure matt gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today. >> reporter: and there's more. separate from the allegations of sex crimes, the "new york times" is also reporting investigators have been told of a conversation where gaetz in a prominent florida lobbyist discussed arranging a so-called sham candidate in a state senate race last year to siphon votes from an ally's opponent. they caution that aspect of the inquiry in its early stages. gaetz did not respond to the "times'" request for comment. hitting the congressman in unavoidable way. put this billboard in the
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florida panhandle which reads matt gaetz wants to date your child. more detail on the house committee ethics investigation. they've launched two, one into congressman matt gaetz and then tom reed of new york, potentially looking at matt gaetz for sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, converting campaign funds to personal use and possible acceptance of a bribe as far as tom reed goes, allegations of sexual misconduct. now, gaetz's office did respond to this latest house ethics committee investigation saying that once again, these allegations are blatantly false. they have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them. when he takes the stage here at the save america summit here at 7:00 p.m. tonight, we'll see if he addresses that and anything else, wolf. >> we'll stay in touch with you, clearly. thank you very much. randi, joined by cnn political dir
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dir dir director david chalian. how do you expect gaetz will try to navigate this scandal and this new investigation from the house ethics committee when he speaks publicly later tonight? >> well, i'm not sure if he'll address this publicly or maybe wear it as a badge of honor. if you've seen his responses to date, wolf, he's sort of been pulling from the trump play book of dealing with controversy and scandal. obviously, he's denying everything but he's also blaming his political opponents, blaming the media for this and taking zero responsibility or acknowledging any involvement in this. of course, matt good aetz has something far bigger to worry about than his pr problem. this is a potential huge legal problem for matt gaetz. that's really what he's focused on. >> as you know, abby, republican congressman adam kinzinger from illinois is calling on gaetz to resign but he's the lone
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congressional republican calling for this, i take it. hundreds of others remain silent, right? >> yeah. i mean, the silence is deafening on the republican side and to david's point, this is straight out of this kind of new era in crisis management led by trump which is effectively never back down, never apologize, never give in, even when the allegations are very serious. there was a time not that long ago when no one in washington would have wanted to be near matt gaetz with a 10 foot pole but of course, now he's speaking at that conference tonight in doral which tells you, i think, everything you need to know about how much or how little people are distancing themselves from him. i think that there's actually probably more concern on the republican side about abandoning him, perhaps in their view, too soon before all of these allegations play themselves out. >> david, the former republican
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house speaker john boehner exploring this growing rift in the republican party and discussing it in a new book just out. i want you to listen to what he told kcbs about one of his fellw republicans, listen to this. >> you call some of these members political terrorists. >> yes, jim jordan especially. my colleague from ohio. >> never saw a guy spending more time tearing things apart and never building anything. never put anything together. >> where does this go from here? >> as you noted, it is a rift inside the party. but john boehner is on the losing side of that rift, wolf. donald trump is gathering the trump republican party this weekend in florida. the event tonight that gaetz is speaking at, marjorie taylor green. that's for sort of activists part of the group that organized the january 6th rally, actually. you have high dollar donors going to mar-a-lago to hear the former president this weekend and a lot of 2024 republican
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presidential hopefuls should donald trump not run up there as well to these high dollar donors. donald trump has a pretty firm grip, 100 days out of his presidency or nearing that on the republican party. so john boehner is making very wise observations about what occurred here but make no mistake about it, his wing of the party is the one that is not ascended inside the party right now. >> thank you very much. an important note to our viewers, be sure to join abby for cnn's inside politics sunday. it airs 8:00 a.m. eastern. it's an excellent, excellent show. we'll be watching. up next, warns the u.s. is falling behind the race in the new coronavirus variants as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. (vo) nobody dreams in conventional thinking. it didn't get us to the moon. it doesn't ring the bell on wall street. or disrupt the status quo. t-mobile f for business uses unconventional thinking to help you realize new possibilities. like our new work from anywhere solutions, so your teams
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we're seeing some concerning new trends in the coronavirus pandemic even as the pace of vaccinations here in the united states steadily climb. cnn's alexandra field. what are you hearing? >> reporter: a critical push to vaccinate more people. applied to the fda to allow use for vaccine ages 12 to 15 after the company released data of clinical study showing 100 defected in that age group. now the acting chairman of an fda vaccine advisory committee is saying it's highly likely that the fda would give approval and that it could happen fairly
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quickly. >> we're working to put this pandemic behind us as fast as we can. >> reporter: but the spread of new covid-19 cases is yet again moving quickly. >> the vaccine is great. but if these numbers skyrocket, the vaccine is not going to bail us out. >> reporter: nearly 80,000 new infections reported across the country on thursday. >> you're in, we all know what works and this has to be a team effort. we have to do this together. lives depend on it. >> reporter: the governor of michigan urging high schools to go remote as her state faces among the highest number of new cases per capita in the nation. part of the surge in the upper midwest where some cases are tied to youth sports and the prevalence of more transmissible variants. >> we'll be offering states with increases in cases a set of additional tools to help them to stem the spread. >> reporter: in part, making sure every distributed dose of the vaccine is administered. one quarter of american adults are now fully vaccinated. >> our vaccination efforts this
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week continued to accelerate. >> reporter: the white house task force saying there is enough supply to maintain the current average of about 3 million daily shots in arms. that despite a johnson & johnson manufacturing setback that slows their output and worrying governors already depending on those shipments. >> we were told two days ago that we were going to have an 85% cut in the dose of j&j. about 80,000 dose reduction for us. >> reporter: still, health experts predict we could soon be at the point where supply outpaces demand. >> as more and more americans gain access to the vaccine, i'm happy to share vaccine confidence is rising. >> reporter: there are, however, some concerns over the astrazeneca vaccine which isn't available in the u.s. several vaccine advisers through the federal government now saying they wouldn't take the astrazeneca vaccine themselves if given another option. dr. anthony fauci says he doesn't foresee a need for the astrazeneca vaccine in the u.s. but officials insist more does need to be done to combat
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vaccine hesitancy in order to get to herd immunity. >> millions of people still have questions about the vaccine and misinformation and disinformation continues to spread. >> reporter: amid a handful of reports of illnesses and infections among elderly people vaccinated, that in small numbers, dr. fauci said is expected. >> there's nothing there yet that's a red flag. we obviously will keep an eye out on that, very very carefully but i don't see anything that changes our concept of the vaccine and its efficacy. >> reporter: all right. you heard dr. fauci there seeing no red flags. the breakthrough infections remain rare but the federal government is tracking any report in cases of them. the surgeon general going on to say the confidence in these vaccines is high and that they are effective. wolf? >> alexandra field in new york. let's get some analysis from cnn medical analyst dr. lena wen. thank you for joining us as
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usual. you heard nearly 80,000 cases of coronavirus were reported in the u.s. just yesterday. that's higher than we saw at the peak in july and yet it seems warnings for public health officials at least in many parts of the country are being ignored. if basic health behavior off of data, how careful do we all need to be right now? >> we should be careful because i do believe that we are in the middle of a fourth surge. the surge looks different from previous surges because we do have many of the most vulnerable who are already vaccinated and already protected, but it's now younger people who are getting hospitalized, who are getting severely ill. and i think we have to keep in mind that we have a more transmissible variant. and that means that if we were able to get away with some activities before and not get infected before, if there's something that's more contagious, we might get inif he canned now and so if you're not yet vaccinated, sign up and get vaccinated as soon as you can if you're able to and otherwise, continue to keep on masking, continue to avoid indoor crowded
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gatherings for the time being. >> dr. fauci, as you heard, said breakthrough cases. that's what someone tests positive for coronavirus after being fully vaccinated. he said that's not necessarily surprising. can you explain what that means? >> absolutely. the vaccines that we have are extremely effective at preventing infection. but they're not 100%. there's nothing that's 100% and so you are still going to see some infections that break through, even in people who are fully vaccinated. some of those people may even become hospitalized or become severely ill in large part because we have some of the most vulnerable who receive the vaccine, who may already be very medically frail. that's why it's really important for us to understand exactly what numbers we're talking about here. very likely, the numbers that we're seeing are very, very low. we're talking about hundreds of breakthrough infections and hundreds of thousands of people in a particular area but we need to see exactly what these cases
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are, what variants are involved and also, how severe are these cases? because if it turns out that these breakthrough infections also tend to be less severe, that in itself would also give us more confidence about the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing severe infections. >> i want to turn to the johnson & johnson vaccine. i know you got the single dose vaccine you received. we're now learning that there may be some rare adverse reactions. tell us what exactly is going ton because i know you've studied this very closely. are you concerned at all? >> it appears now there are four reported cases of blood clots and low platelets in people who received the johnson & johnson vaccine. however, i just want to emphasize, this is not proven as a link and actually, we don't even know the numbers of what we're talking about. as in, we know that when you give lots of vaccines to hundreds of millions of people, you are going to see naturally some health events occur.
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we need to understand what is the baseline level of these health events occurring compared to those who receive the vaccine to really understand. a full investigation is absolutely needed and needs to be done quickly and transparent si. i will say that i myself as well as taken the vaccine just over a week ago, i am not personally concerned because there is not yet evidence that links any of these adverse events to the vaccine. >> good point. dr. wen, thanks, as usual, for joining us. sad news out of the united kingdom. prince philip died at the age of 99. we go to london for an update. i had this hundred thousand dollar student debt. two o hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars in debt. ah, sofi literally changed my life. it was the easiest application process. sofi made it so there's no tradeoff between my dreams and paying student loans. student loans don't have to take over for the rest of your life. thank you for allowing me to get my money right.
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when all this is over, and the world starts finding its way back, will you be the same person you were, before it began? or will you be someone different? will you care more about your health— your body? your mind? when all this is over, who will you be?
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we've got drones that can delive fridges that tell us when we're out of eggs, and people with diabetes are still pricking their fingers? meet the dexcom g6. see your glucose right on your phone without fingersticks. finally, a better way to manage our diabetes. we follow important developments in britain where prince philip, duke of eden bro and husband of queen elizabeth died today at 99 years old. cnn's bianca nobilo joining us from windsor. how is the uk handling the news of philip's death? >> reporter: wolf, where i am
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right now, we expect more details about the funeral. namely, the date which people are waiting to hear. we expect to hear that tomorrow and we do know that the funeral will be in line with customs and with the duke of edinboro. irreplaceable figurehead in british life. tonight, the end of an era in the royal family. prince philip passing away today at the age of 99. the man who stood resolutely by the side of queen elizabeth ii for more than 73 years. now lies at windsor kcastle draped in personal standard. the announcement came after midday. simple note on the gates of buckingham palace in london. deep sorrow her majesty the queen announces death of her beloved husband. will remain at windsor castle where members of the royal family will be able to come and pay their respects.
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the british prime minister among those paying tribute. >> like the expert carriage driver that he was, he hoped to steer the royal family and the monarchy. so remains an institution indisputably vital to the balance and happiness of our national life. >> reporter: silence at the royal family's two london resi residences. windsor and buckingham palace as crowds gathered. >> it was a big symbol for a lot of people in england and nice to pay our respects to him. >> i have deep respect for the queen. i think a wonderful woman and very sad today. lost a life partner. >> reporter: his death, while a shock to the nation, was not unexpected. in march, the duke left the hospital following a month's stay where he underwent heart surgery. he left in high spirits. plans to celebrate his 100th birthday in june continued. earlier in march, headlines would rock the royal family involving allegations of racism.
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>> also concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born. >> reporter: making it clear the racist sentiments were not delivered by prince philip or the queen. since marrying in 1947, prince philip left an indelible mark on the many public figures he met. including a host of u.s. presidents. eisenhower, ford, kennedy and obama. president biden whom philip never met personally praised the duke's decades of devoted public service. adding his legacy will live on. as funeral arrangements are now being made, questions will inevitably turn to who will attend and whether his grandson prince harry will make that trip in california. for the next few days, flags will be lowered and a book of condolences opened. nation mourns with her majesty the queen with the loss of her
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beloved husband. funeral plans that have been many years in the making have now been drastically altered to comply with the uk's coronavirus restrictions. so where we'd expect thousands of people to attend and pay respects on the day, only 30 will be able to attend the funeral. but as travel into the united kingdom is permitted for compassionate grounds including funerals, it is possible, wolf, for prince harry to attend. >> may he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing. bianca, thank you very much for that report. coming up, the financial future of the powerful nra gun lobby here in the united states is hanging in the balance as prosecutors accuse the group of abusing the bankruptcy process. and later, we'll have an update on all the late breaking developments in the derek chauvin murder trial. everything that occurred today.
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prosecutors are accusing the national rifle association of exploiting the bankruptcy process to sidestep its growing legal troubles. the powerful gun lobby is facing a lawsuit in new york for allegedly violating the state's charity laws and misusing funds. brynn gingras is working the story for us. >> reporter: the financial future of the national rifle association may be decided in a texas bankruptcy court. in a trial that kicked off this week, the nra is hoping a judge will allow it to restructure, seeking chapter 11 even after the country's largest gun lobbying group said this january that it was, quote, in its
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strongest financial condition in years. it's one reason why prosecutors argue the nra's bankruptcy request is just a ploy to escape legal troubles in new york. back in august, new york attorney general leticia james sued the nra. >> we are seeking an order to dissolve the nra in its entirety. >> reporter: accusing the organization, which is registered as a nonprofit in new york, of violating the state's charity laws. james singled out members of the nra's leadership for misusing funds, particularly long time ceo wayne la pierre. >> he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal private plane trips for himself and his family. >> reporter: the nra claimed the suit was politically motivated and counter sued. in court this week la pierre
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said his use of nra funds was necessary. >> it was a security retreat. >> reporter: organizing he needed to take shelter on a friend's yacht after a string of mass shootings. quote, i was basically under presidential threat without presidential security in terms of the number of threats i was getting. this was the one place i could feel safe. la pierre's defense prompted gun control advocates to mock his notorious tag line. >> to stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun. >> reporter: one activist saying the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good friend with a yacht. the courtroom battle may end with a blow to the nra, which is already facing a shift in support in the wake of more mass shootings. >> gun violence in this country is an epidemic. >> reporter: and now a new
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administration calling for more action on gun control. a judge is expected to decide if the nra can file for bankruptcy next week. wolf, really no matter which way the judge decides on this bankruptcy trial, the nra could face more legal troubles down the line. as james said, she referred much of her findings to the irs. coming up, key developments in the derrek chauvin murder trial today as the medical examiner who conducted george floyd's autopsy today by his conclusion it was a homicide. we're also waiting for public remarks by matt gaetz as he fends off a sex trafficking probe and a new house ethics committee investigation.
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welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room" with our coverage of the derek chauvin murder trial. we heard from one of the most highly-anticipated witnessed today, the medical examiner who actually conducted george floyd's autopsy. he stood by his ruling that floyd's death was a homicide, testifying that the force used by chauvin and other police officers was more than floyd's body could take. he told jurors that heart disease and drug use were not the direct causes of floyd's death, but he believes they did, repeat did play a role. in earlier testimony, a forensic pathologist explicitly ruled


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