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U.S. Averaging 2.4 Million Vaccine Doses Administered Per Day; Sen. Ron Johnson Says Comments about Capitol Breach not Racist; Progressive Groups Launch $30 Million Effort To Push Voting Rights Legislation; WH Begins COVID Relief Sales Pitch; Flood Of Migrants Crossing Into South Texas; Dallas Convention Center To Hold Teenagers; Former Police Officer's Lawyer Seeks Trial Delay After $27 Million Settlement With George Floyd Family. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 15, 2021 - 20:00   ET



CHANCE (voice over): Matthew Chance, CNN, Vladimir, Russia.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, and thanks very much. That was an incredible report there.

And thanks very much to all of you for joining us. "AC360" starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Good evening. We begin tonight with welcome news for anyone wanting their pre-COVID lives back. It comes however with a dark cloud.

The good news first, according to the C.D.C., the country is now averaging nearly 2.4 million vaccinations a day. In all, more than 109 million Americans have now gotten at least one shot, sites like the one that Vice President Harris visited today in Las Vegas, and more than 11 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated.

Late today, Connecticut's Governor said he expects to expand statewide eligibility to anyone age 16 and up by the fifth of next month. Other states are taking similar steps as vaccine supply ramps up and Federal health kicks in.

This is happening as new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to fall and evidence grows, most notably, from a recent major study in Israel that the current crop of COVID vaccines prevent the spread of infection, not just illness.


DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER F.D.A. COMMISSIONER: We've always believed that they are having that effect. We didn't know the full magnitude of that benefit, but all of the incremental evidence coming out suggests that the impact on the reduction in transmission could be quite strong. And if that's the case, the vaccine creates what we call dead-end

hosts, a lot of dead-end hosts, meaning people will no longer be able to transmit the infection.


COOPER: So more people than ever getting shots that appear to be more beneficial, the closer you look, the kind of breakthrough we've all been hoping for. So why is it then that in a recent Marist/NPR/PBS poll, 47 percent of 2020 Trump voters and 49 percent of Republican men say they would not take the vaccine when it becomes available to them?

Remember, the former President launched the effort to speed up the testing and production of it and who recently demanded national gratitude for the speedy delivery of what he calls quote, "that beautiful shot."

He is the one who once upon a time even seemed to recognize the public health purpose of someone like him getting vaccinated or not as the situation demanded.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there's a vaccine, and if they wanted me to be first on line, I'd be first in line or I'd be last in line, or I wouldn't take it at all, whatever is best for the country.


COOPER: Well, to cut to the chase, as you know, he did get vaccinated. He did it off camera in secret without saying a word about it, which is pretty remarkable when you consider how willing he has always been to weigh in on virtually anything, but especially his accomplishments, which this actually is.

It's a puzzlement, even to former members of his COVID team.


ADMIRAL BRETT GIROIR, FORMER H.H.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR HEALTH: The people who follow the former President are very committed to President Trump, and I think his leadership still matters a great deal.

I think it's very important for former President Trump as well as the Vice President to actively encourage all the followers to get the vaccine.


COOPER: Well, Dr. Giroir is not alone. Here's Dr. Anthony Fauci.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If he came out and said, go and get vaccinated, it's really important for your health, the health of your family and the health of the country. It seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close follows would listen to him.

He is such a strongly popular person. I cannot imagine that if he comes out that they will not get vaccinated. It will be very helpful to the effort for that to happen.


COOPER: Keeping them honest though, there's reason to doubt the former President's effectiveness as a spokesman for getting vaccinated. It is the same reason his own supporters are now vaccine-skeptical.

The entire COVID outbreak, he politicized public health, whether it was bad mouthing mask wearing, mocking social distancing, touting quack cures or leaning on the C.D.C. as a review today of agency guidance suggests, Donald J. Trump, in effect, vaccinated his supporters against the science.

And toward the end, he even said the quiet part out loud, making it perfectly clear that this wasn't really a pandemic at all and that it was just politics.


TRUMP: That's all I hear about now. It's all I hear. Turn on television. COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID.

A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don't talk about it. COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID.

By the way, on November 4th, you won't hear about it anymore.


COOPER: Not from him, at least, except to complain somehow that vaccine authorization was delayed just to get him, which it wasn't. After that, he checked out completely.

Now, was it because there was no longer anything in it for him? You can decide for yourself. What's indisputable, though is, he prompted tens of millions of Americans to doubt the vaccine, one presumes he would have never stopped boasting about, where he still sitting in the Oval Office today.

But even if the former President had a complete change of heart about it and started praising vaccination to the skies, it is an open question now how much sway he still holds over his former supporters. It is the notion the current President explored when asked about it today.


QUESTION: Should President Trump helps promote the vaccine among skeptics, sir, especially those Republicans who say that they are not willing to take it?


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am hearing a lot of reports from serious reporters like you saying that. I discussed it with my team and they say the thing that has more impact than anything Trump would say to the MAGA folks, is what the local doctor, what the local preachers, what the local people in the community say.

So I urge -- I urge all local docs and ministers and priests today to talk about why -- why it's important to get -- to get that vaccine, and even after that until everyone is in fact vaccinated to wear this mask.


COOPER: Others he says and not the former President are better influencers and there's evidence he may be right. Republican pollster, Frank Luntz did a focus group over the weekend with vaccine hesitant Trump voters. "The Washington Post" detailed the results. They blame their hesitation on doubts about the long term effects of new vaccines and accused politicians and government scientists repeatedly misleading them.

What was interesting though "The Post" reports, they blamed Democrats and not the former President for this. At the same time, though, what seemed to change their minds the most were not political endorsements for getting vaccinated, but more science, more evidence.

Here's a woman named Sue from Iowa who says she went from being about 50/50 on getting a shot to 75 percent in favor.


SUE, IOWA RESIDENT: I like the doctors. I like the medical situation when they give us the facts and talk to us without any politics involved. I think that helps me see that my bias was probably with the political side of it, getting involved in just separating the medical side of it.

If I can look just at the medical and health side of it, I'm much better off than when they mix politics in with it.


COOPER: Well, 19 people took part in that group, which included Republican politicians and former C.D.C. Director, Dr. Tom Frieden. All 19 came out of it saying they were more likely to get the vaccine than they were going in.

Joining us now is Dr. Tom Frieden. So Doctor, thanks for being with us. So we heard that focus group participant say she liked hearing the facts about the vaccines.

For you, was that the big takeaway that separating politics from science in order to get people to trust the vaccine? DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, FORMER C.D.C. DIRECTOR: It was a really

interesting conversation, Anderson, because this is a group that is strongly pro-Trump. They have a lot of doubts about the vaccine, but they're not people who are totally anti-vax, and that was how they were selected.

And they clearly believe that the virus, the vaccine, and the response has been politicized. And what they wanted was they didn't want to hear from any politician, not even former President Trump. They want to hear from doctors, their own doctors, and they had understandable rational concerns.

They wanted to know what's the evidence about the long term health complications of the vaccine? This is a reasonable question and they want to be listened to.

And I think that's the fundamental message that for each community, we need to listen and figure out both the messages that are going to resonate most, and the messengers who will be most effective.

And I'll tell you, some of the most effective messages were virtually every doctor was offered this vaccine is going to get it. No corners were cut in approving it; only red tape was cut to get it approved quickly. And it was not rushed to the market in a year.

This is a technology that was more than a decade in the making, and the trials were not small. There were tens of thousands of people and not a single person, as far as we know has died from getting the vaccine.

COOPER: Dr. Fauci said it would be helpful if former President Trump encouraged his supporters to get vaccine, though President Biden, as we just heard, says, you know, look to community leaders, local doctors to promote it.

Your focus group, did they care about the former President's opinion on taking the vaccine?

FRIEDEN: It was actually somewhat surprising. I think it surprised Frank Luntz who organized the whole group. They really didn't want to hear from any politicians, not even a former President Trump. They wanted to hear from their own doctor and that's why it's so important we get shots into the offices of doctors as soon as the supply gets a little more than it is now and they want to hear from medical professionals.

COOPER: Chris Christie also spoke during the meeting, I understand and talked about his own personal ordeal with COVID-19. I'm wondering if personal and emotional stories had an impact on changing minds?

FRIEDEN: Yes, in fact, it wasn't so much Chris Christie's story or his description of getting COVID at the White House. It was his discussion of two family members, one of them quite healthy, who both died from COVID that clearly had an impact.

And this is one thing that's very important. We need to give honest, accurate narratives of what COVID does, of the death, of also the long COVID and the suffering that it causes, because fundamentally, we can't give you a hundred percent certainty that there's not going to be some rare adverse event of this vaccine 10 years down the line.


FRIEDEN: But we can tell you with a hundred percent certainty that you're much less likely to get COVID if you get the vaccine, and if you do get COVID, it's going to be replicating all over your body for a week, and that you do have a chance of having long term suffering as a result.

COOPER: Yes. That was one of the things that personally for me was really powerful. I did a piece on "60 Minutes" about, you know, so- called long haulers, people who had actually mild symptoms when they actually were infected, and we thought they'd kind of gotten away, you know, they had some bad days, but it wasn't -- they weren't hospitalized, many of them.

And yet, you know, eight months later, they are still, you know, having trouble walking, having trouble breathing, having brain fog, and the like and that for me was really kind of a wake up of, you know, you don't even want to get it and not have any symptoms or thinking you have mild symptoms.

We played sound a few minutes ago from the former F.D.A. head, Scott Gottlieb telling CBS this weekend about the evidence that has shown that vaccines are reducing asymptomatic infection and transmission.

Dr. Gottlieb, we should point out is on the Board of Pfizer. If he is right, that is a huge step toward getting the virus under control. What more do you know about that?

FRIEDEN: Well, we have better and better news about the vaccine. What you're seeing already in the U.S. is a dramatic decrease in nursing home death, and that is undoubtedly an impact of vaccination.

Already, these vaccines are saving thousands of lives in this country and that effect is going to get even greater in the coming weeks as vaccine induced immunity kicks in for more and more people who are over the age of 65.

So this is making this virus even less lethal, and there is growing evidence that it reduces the likelihood that you'll spread the virus to others. But we don't know that yet. It's not certain. But I do think that the vaccine is getting the best of the virus.

Now, we're not out of the woods, it ain't over until it's over. You're seeing explosive spread in Europe, in parts of Latin America. You're seeing variants that can overwhelm the immunity that you get from getting the virus infection before.

So it's really a race of the vaccine against the variants, and the more we control the virus, the more we vaccinate, the greater the likelihood that we'll get to a new normal sooner.

COOPER: Dr. Tom Frieden, appreciate it. Thank you very much.

FRIEDEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, a Republican senator responds to allegations of racism over his statements about the January insurrection.

Also arrest finally in connection with the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.

And later Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the President's COVID Relief Bill and the money that's already going to people's pockets.



COOPER: "This could get me in trouble," that's what you say when you can't help saying something, but you possess just enough self- awareness to know that you know, you can't help saying it.

Tonight, Republican senator and insurrection doubter, Ron Johnson is answering to charges of racism on what he said Friday about the attack on the Capitol and the people behind it, his kind of people.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I knew those are people that love this country that truly respect law enforcement would never do anything to break a law. So I wasn't concerned.

Now, had the tables been turned, Joe, this could mean trouble. Had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.


COOPER: That was Senator Johnson on Friday, saying that the people who attacked the Capitol loved law enforcement.

Senator Johnson late today.


JOHNSON: There was nothing racial about my comments, nothing whatsoever. This isn't about racist, it is about riots.

It is still pretty shocking that would take what I consider completely innocuous comment and turn it into, you know, use the race card on me and say there's some kind of racist comment involved when there was none.


COOPER: Joining us now, CNN political commentator and former South Carolina Democratic state lawmaker, Bakari Sellers.

Bakari, I'll let you just speak on this because I was just so surprised by -- not surprised by, but just irritated by what he just said now to justify what he said previously. The idea that, you know, that he sees the truth here in his comments and knows that there was nothing racist involved.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And you know, when people are making racist comments, the first thing they want to push back with is simply say, you know, you can't play the race card, but it's our job to call it out.

I mean, I'm not surprised. But -- and I'm not disappointed anymore. Nothing about this is new. I mean, this, as an American as American can be. But I'm troubled because this is coming from the highest part of the land.

I mean, this is coming from the United States Senate, the United States Congress. Just last week, we heard from Representative Grothman, as well saying that Black Lives Matter didn't believe in the old traditional family.

And now, you have Ron Johnson saying the same thing. You know, for me, I go back to Stokely Carmichael, Anderson and Stokely once said, that if you want to lynch me, that's your problem. But if you have the power to lynch me, then that's my problem.

Racism in this country is a power construct, and people like Ron Johnson have the power and the ability to implement racist policies even when they are ignorant to the fact that what they're doing is racist.

This is not about somebody calling you nigger. I get called that enough in my Twitter comments. I get called that in my messages when I leave CNN every single day. It's not about that.

It's about something more than that. It's about the systemic oppression. It's about the systemic racism and people like Ron Johnson who play a role in it and are so ignorant to the fact to the role they play, that they sit there and simply turn their back and say, don't play the race card.

We're not playing the race card, Senator, we're trying to educate you on the fact that either -- there's one of two things. Either you're using racism as political currency, which is cowardice or you simply are ignorant and do not know that the language that you're using is racist and hurtful.

It's one of those two options.


COOPER: You know, and then, using the term, you know, "the race card" as if it's some sort of game here.

SELLERS: Yes. And, you know, for me when I -- if I -- if I had the opportunity to sit down with Senator Johnson, I would go back and say, Senator Johnson, you know, what this is, is an ignorance of the history and how far we've come.

You know, I would sit down and tell him that the reason that we got the '64 and '65 Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act is because of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and people who were brutally beaten on national TV for the first time in this country's history, white folk throughout this country were able to see the dogs, the water hoses, the batons, et cetera.

This is about the assassinations, the Medgar Evers, the Emmitt Tills Rivers, all of those things led to the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.

I would say Senator Johnson, the way we got the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was because Dr. King got assassinated. I would say, hell, the reason that the Confederate flag came down in South Carolina is because nine people including my friend, Clementa Pinckney were murdered in a church.

I would say, Senator Johnson, the only reason we're on the cusp, and having these discussions about Criminal Justice Reform is because George Floyd had a knee on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

What I'm trying to tell you is that there is a great deal of pain in black blood that's flown through the streets of this country, so that we could have a semblance of political change, and so I think that he needs to understand the history of this country.

So when you make comments like, it's okay for these white boys to come in here with the Confederate flags and anti-Semitic rhetoric and beat police officers and murder a cop. But if there is somebody black standing up for what they believe to be right and just saying that we need to stop being killed in the street, you want the National Guard called on them?

See, that's the problem, and it's not people who use ignorant rhetoric, it is people in power who implement racist policies. That's why I have a problem with Grothman and Ron Johnson.

COOPER: He is also rewriting history. I mean, he looks at the crowd who attacked the Capitol. He is not scared of them, he alleges because he knows that they are good people who love this country and love law enforcement.

I mean, there are hundreds of people who have been arrested. You know, and numerous police officers who have been injured, one police officer lost their life, two others have died by suicide.

I mean, it's a complete rewrite of what happened.

SELLERS: It's a rewrite of what happened, but it is American history, like, just think about Ron Johnson being more sympathetic to cop killers, and anti-Semitists and people carrying Confederate flags than black folk protesting. But it's not just about Ron Johnson. That's what I'm trying to tell

folks, when we talk about systemic oppression, imagine the Ron Johnson who works at Wells Fargo who is your loan officer, who looks at you as less valuable than a white guy who comes in there.

Or imagine Ron Johnson as your Professor or a teacher who looks at you as less intelligent. Imagine Ron Johnson as your police officer that pulls you over on the side of the road, who thinks that you are more of a danger than a white boy.

See, that is what we're talking about when we talk about this systemic injustice. But Ron Johnson creates the laws. And so yes, we've got to call it out. We've got to push back and I wish that he would, instead of doubling down which is what Trump got us, I wish he would simply try to educate himself on the ignorance in the statements that he makes.

I know he is retiring, but there is still time to do better. And maybe that's my youthful naivete. I still believe that Ron Johnson can be a better man than he displayed last Friday.

COOPER: Bakari Sellers. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Even more to the point, this comes as we learn that two of those allegedly police loving men as Senator Johnson describes them had been arrested and charged with assaulting Officer Brian Sicknick who later died after the Capitol attacks.

CNN's Evan Perez joins us now with more on that. So what do we know now about these two men because this has been a long time coming as police have been looking for how he died and who killed him?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. This has been a top priority for the F.B.I. and these two men. Their names are Julian Khater and George Tanios, they are facing nine counts including assault on a Federal office.

COOPER: That's Officer Sicknick by the way, that's the picture of Officer Sicknick.

PEREZ: Right, right. That's officer Sicknick. They're charged now with assault on Sicknick and two additional officers according to the F.B.I., the affidavit from the F.B.I. in court today. They are seeing in video, on surveillance video as well as some of the body worn camera images that they were able to retrieve using some kind of spray, some kind of chemical irritant.

COOPER: So just for our viewers to -- that -- where there's a red rectangle over one of them and then, I guess, the other one is the guy there in the hat off to the right hand side.


PEREZ: Right. And the guy in the hat appears to be Tanios. He is -- he owns a sandwich shop in West Virginia, helpfully for the F.B.I., he wore a shirt that has the logo of the sandwich shop that he runs. And so what you see in some of these images, Anderson, is the attack

according to the F.B.I., in which they're using some kind of chemical irritant spray.

I'm told that that is some kind of bear spray. I'll read you just a part of what the F.B.I. says in the affidavit that says: "The Officers Sicknick, Edwards and Chapman are standing within a few feet of Khater. (This is one of the two men there). They all react one by one to something striking them in the face. The officers immediately retreat from the line, bring their hands to their faces and rush to find water to wash out their eyes."

This is what happened according to the Capitol Police, Anderson, Officer Sicknick goes back to his office sometime thereafter. He becomes ill, he is taken to the hospital. He dies the following day.

You might be asking, why aren't these men being charged with murder? At this point, I'm told that investigators are still waiting for the final medical examiner's report to show cause of death and so we may yet see additional charges.

COOPER: Evan Perez, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Let's get perspective now from our security analyst, Juliette Kayyem. So you've heard Evan's reporting, investigators still waiting for the final medical report, which is one reason why we're not seeing murder charges. Can prosecutors later add the murder charge of their investigation shows the two men they arrested for assault were responsible for the officer's death?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Absolutely. And it was smart of them actually to start with assault, and then work their way because with these arrests, maybe family and friends will come forward and tell them what they -- tell the police what they know.

But one piece of evidence that has come out that has been reported that is in the affidavit is they also knew each other before they got there. They were childhood friends, I believe.

So there's going to be either social media conversations or e-mails between the two of them about what their intent was. Was it just to go to the rally for Donald Trump? That seems hard to believe given that they had this bear spray. Or was it to inflict bodily harm and on whom?

So this case will unfold quickly and it will also unfold probably more dramatically than what we saw today.

COOPER: Yes, well, you have the former President saying it's -- you know, come to Washington on January 6th. It is going to be wild. They brought bear spray, because it's going to be wild.

KAYYEM: Right.

COOPER: More than 300 people have been charged in connection so far with the assault, the Department of Justice says the figure could easily pass 400. Does the focus remain on those who took part in the assault? Or is there also conspiracy angle to this?

KAYYEM: So the conspiracy charges continue. They're not showing themselves to be very strong and that there's so many cases, it's hard to say that there's a general theme.

It seems like the conspiracy was essentially everyone agreed to go listen to Donald Trump, honestly, and then they meet there and organized. There may be conspiracies amongst one, two, three people. But that's the way the cases are unfolding. But 300 isn't enough in my book.

I have been saying that there's a connective tissue here from what Bakari was saying to here, which is the racism, the anti-Semitism that we saw with this new Navy guy who -- the Navy Nazi guy who was arrested as well, with the anti-Semitic -- he was wearing a --

COOPER: He was walking around a Navy base with a Hitler mustache.

KAYYEM: Yes, I mean, at the outset, right, exactly. What do you know -- he had good intentions, I'm sure, and the racism that animates from this crowd to essentially what Johnson -- what Senator Johnson is saying, I adore Bakari Sellers.

But Ron Johnson knows exactly what he is doing. This is a party now. And we know it because of all the efforts that they're doing to minimize or to undermine voting rights.

This is a party now that has aligned itself with a strategic effort to essentially deny the vote and put into question the votes that had already occurred, those votes that they look at are not white votes, as Ron Johnson made clear, it's the African-American votes and the Hispanic votes.

So, you know, when you write something, you think about the connective tissue about all of the -- about what you're writing or about all these cases. The connective tissue is white supremacy and racism. And it's just -- that's why every single one of these cases matters, because the goal now is to stop recruitment.

And the more that these folks go to jail, that they are shamed and isolated, and that we have a President who doesn't nurture racism, but condemns it. I think that we are going to have better days. It's just a really hard time right now.

COOPER: Juliette Kayyem, appreciate it. Thanks.

Just ahead look, a look at the hundreds of proposed state laws across the nation that would curtail voting rights, what Juliette just alluded to, and the public pressure campaign progressives are running to defeat Republican measures.



COOPER: Public pressure is ramping up on the voting rights front, two progressive groups have vowed to spend tens of millions of dollars to convince senators to pass a major civil rights bill stuck in the Senate as groups in Georgia are launching campaign to persuade major corporations base there to oppose restrictions recently proposed by Republican lawmakers.

On Sunday, George Democrat Stacey Abrams called these new proposals a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie, that was quote. According to the left leaning Brennan Center for Justice, they're just some of the more than 250 bills that state lawmakers have introduced nationwide that would restrict voting rights.

Joining us, our chief national correspondent John King. And back with us, Bakari Sellers. We'll start with John at the magic wall.

So John, how widespread are the proposed voting restriction laws?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NAITONAL CORRESPONDENT: The proposals Anderson are everywhere. You see the map here shaded by how those states voted in the presidential election, 43 states, 43 states. The Brennan Center is right, in 43 states for the 200 proposals again, they're not all going to become law, but some of them already have and some of them will.

And they have a common theme. They're being pushed by Republicans. And they are the legacy of the big lie. You have Republicans in state after state after state saying the problem in America is not that more people voted in 2020. It's that there was so much fraud. We know that's a lie. It's a legacy of the Trump lie.


But it's happening coast to coast. There's one way to look at it just through the states. Another way to look at it is the deeper the green, the more proposals in that state. So 15 proposals or so an Arizona, dozen or so in Texas, you see Georgia here as well. So they're everywhere in state legislatures.

And again, Anderson coming back to this map, they're not all going to become law, but a lot of them are and the consequences are enormous. In 2022, you have the redrawing congressional district, Texas, we're getting two or three seats, Florida is going to gain a seat, Arizona is going to gain a seat. Governor's races in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Iowa and beyond. This is a huge deal.

COOPER: What kind of restrictions are we talking about John?

KING: Follow the pattern here. Again, they're different in every state. The Iowa restrictions are actually law, the Republican governor has signed them. It reduces the number of early voting days from 29 to 20. Makes it harder to vote fewer opportunities to vote. Closest places an hour early on Election Day.

Again, makes it harder to vote. Also, new restrictions on absentee voting something that was used throughout the pandemic, follow the pattern. In the state of Georgia, again, this is still in the legislature but narrows the eligibility for absentee voting. Notice the pattern here. Limits the use of mobile or drop boxes voting locations.

Again, very important to Democrats, you need a court order to extend polling places. New I.D. requirements. The legislature has the authority to block emergency powers. Look at Texas and again, prohibits early voting in tents and garages. That's Harris County, that's Houston, that's reaching out into communities of color trying to give people easier opportunities to vote.

A finds for local officials, if they don't purge the voter rolls. Shortens the window to return your mail-in ballots, seeks to limit and standardize early voting. Again, Everywhere you look, it's baldly transparent Anderson, Republicans are pushing proposals that would restrict voting in areas where Democrats do well, there's really no other way to look at it.

COOPER: And Bakari, I mean, again, you know, people said, oh, well, look, the President lied. Sure all politicians lie. This is the big lie. And this is the rip, these are the ripple effects of the big lie. I mean, its legislation is now being proposed in all these days based on a lie.

SELLERS: Yes, but Anderson, I want to be clear, and I believe John knows this as well, these things didn't just start popping up recently.

COOPER: Of course.

SELLERS: This has been an effort that goes back to 2008, after the election of Barack Obama. When I was in the General Assembly, we were probably the second or third state to try to implement voter I.D. laws after the state of Indiana, which made it more difficult for individuals to actually go to the polls and cast their ballot. It's not just about having an identification card.

It's about having a state issued identification card, not allowing people to use college IDs or utility bills or anything else. And so, you're starting to see this, this trend across the country, it's come to a head and they are targeting black and brown communities. Look, Anderson, we should be having a discussion about how to make it easier to vote.

Why don't we vote on Saturday? Why isn't voting a national holiday? Why don't we have 30 days of no excuse absentee voting with multiple drop boxes in every single county? So everybody who wants to vote has an opportunity to vote. Republican saw what is that 160 million people come out to vote or nearly 160 million people? And they completely lost their mind.

So I think that we have to do a better job of allowing as many people as possible to participate in the Democratic process, not shrink the numbers. We're not having a conversation about how to expand the electorate, we're having a conversation about how to shrink it.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, after an election that had historic turnout, which is actually a good thing. I mean, it's represents, you know, democracy a word that Bakari that the U.S. House just passed a bill that would protect voting rights on a national level. It's got entails a lot of this the voting access expansions that help President Biden win in 2020. Where's that stand in the Senate? I mean, the likelihood of it passing is what in the Senate.

SELLERS: Let me -- well, the Senate, I joke and say that the Senate has bills piling up in front of his door, like my wife has Amazon boxes piling up in front of her door every time I come home. So they're not doing much. It's just stacking and stacking and stacking. But the fact is, if we do not pass this voting rights bill, this John Lewis Voting Rights Bill, then Democrats will not win elections for the remainder of the decade, point blank period.

You know, it's very clear. I mean, we know that the Republican Party has gutted the Voting Rights Act. We know that there are no protections in place to prevent against these discriminatory bills that are being circulated throughout the country. And so without this, there are no checks and balances. And I know that Kyrsten Sinema, and I know that Joe Manchin have a fundamental problem with eliminating the filibuster. But this is an issue of democracy. And this is the issue of justice in that bill must pass Chuck Schumer.

COOPER: John, what the likelihood you think?

KING: The prospects are bleak today Anderson. Bakari raises a key point, if more of these legislations, if more of these states pass this legislation, this is going to become a Republican power play going into 2022. And the pressure is going to be on President Biden, on Vice President Harris on other Democratic leaders to get to the Senate to at least in one case, change the filibuster rules for this one piece of legislation because it is such a fundamental piece of the Democratic Party and Bakari is right, in the Trump era, this is all put on put on steroids, but this is historical. This is legacy and this is critical.


COOPER: John King, Bakari Sellers. Thank you.

(voice-over): Just ahead, another fight Democrats are waging transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg gives his perspective on COVID relief plan that received zero Republican votes as the Biden administration begins a sales pitch to Americans across the country.


COOPER: Days after signing into law, President Biden and his administration began a massive publicity blitz for their nearly $2 trillion COVID recovery plan. The goal is to emphasize the medical and financial relief they believe the law will bring.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Over the next 10 days, we'll reach two goals, two giant goals. The first is 100 million shots in people's arms, will have been completed within next 10 days. And 100 million checks in people's pockets. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: As we mentioned earlier, Vice President Harris and her husband as well as First Lady Joe Biden were also out today at separate events with the president scheduled to appear this week in Pennsylvania and later in Atlanta with Vice President.

Shortly before air, I spoke with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg who talked about the impact they believe this Recovery Act will have on the lives of everyday Americans.


COOPER (on-camera): Secretary Buttigieg, the President and Vice President are out there this week to really sell the stimulus plan to the public, there may be $100 million dollar -- 100 million checks given to two Americans in the next 10 days, there's still $1.9 trillion attached the bill. How do you assure Americans that it's worth the cost?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Well, Americans already believed that it's worth the cost. That's why this is a bill that had so much bipartisan support. Now, of course, it was bipartisan support among the American people. Not much on Capitol Hill.

But the American people don't need convincing that this is worth doing. I do think it's appropriate for us to take some time right now to remind everybody of what's just been achieved and what to expect. The $1,400 checks go into families, things I care about here in the Department of Transportation like shoring up our transit agencies that are so important not just in big cities, but in smaller communities in rural areas too.

The news that flight attendants were told they can tear up their furlough notices among the many, many jobs across America that have been saved. And of course, what this is going to do for poverty, cutting child poverty in half. And for the middle class by reducing health premiums. There's a lot of really good measures that were taken.


And, you know, the President said from day one, the biggest risk was doing too little and not doing too much. We think we've done just what it takes in order to get through this dark season that America has experienced.

COOPER (on-camera): As you mentioned, I mean there's billions of dollars going to transit in this bill. What is the future though, in terms of transportation? I mean, people are right now obviously not using public transportation as much as they did before the pandemic? Is there a longer-term solution to keeping these industries viable? Or do you think it'll return to that the way it was?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think the rescue plan has gotten us through this moment, or I should say it will, as we go out and implement it. Another thing the President's been clear on today is that we still have to do a good job of getting those resources out to where they need to be.

But that was step one. Now, we're ready to work in earnest on step two, and that is that long term vision for transportation in America. Look, everybody knows that our roads, our bridges, our infrastructure, from ports to you name, it needs a lot of work, we got to fix what we have, and we've got to build for the future. And the future is not going to look like the past.

COOPER (on-camera): According to TSA, more Americans have traveled by air in the last four days in any four day period and pandemic, are we ready to return to traveling like we did before the pandemic?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, this is still not a time to travel, just because and the CDC has encouraged people to obviously should check the CDC website. Think twice before traveling if you don't have to. But we're also taking measures to make sure that travel is safe. The President's Executive Order clarified what needed to be done in terms of mask mandates.

And by the way, I really think it's very important for passengers, whether you're on an aircraft or for that matter of bus across town, to pay attention to and respect that mask mandate, and not put flight attendants or bus operators or others in the position of having to tell you or require you to do what everybody ought to be doing, which is to keep yourself and others safe.

COOPER (on-camera): Do you want to see the CDC updating their travel guidance soon? Because they've said that they likely will.

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, we want to be traveling more as soon as it's safe. Now, the CDC is in charge of making a science based determination, based on the medical facts about when that will come. But I'm among the many Americans who feels that that impatience that urge to get out to travel, to see people that we care about, to be able to travel for work, more and more and, and yet, we know that we should do that only when it's responsible.

COOPER (on-camera): The White House today said that they'd welcome the support of the former president promoting the vaccine. How far do you think that message will go, especially among some Republicans, obviously, he and his wife have been vaccinated, but they didn't mention it, they didn't publicize it at all?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, it can't hurt. I mean, the more people are getting that message out, the better. And it would be a reminder that this isn't about politics. That said, I think most people listen most to people in their own lives. And so, you know, especially in communities that are maybe more conservative, you know, they wouldn't do something just because they felt like one party or one president was asking him to do it.

Talk to your doctor, talk to people in your life who are knowledgeable about medicine, and they'll tell you what people without regard to politics who are working on this virus were saying which is the this vaccine is safe, and it's the best way to protect yourself, your family and those you love.

COOPER: And just lastly, I wanted to ask about the allegations about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. President Biden on Sunday, called them, quote, troubling and quote, hard to read. Obviously, if you know a number of Democrats, Senator Chuck Schumer have called on Governor Cuomo to resign. Do you think he can still effectively govern if he's lost the support of Democrats in his own state?

BUTTIGIEG: What I'll say is these allegations are really disturbing. They are serious and they need to be investigated as they are. And that investigation, of course, is underway.

COOPER (on-camera): Secretary Buttigieg, appreciate your time. Thank you.

BUTTIGIEG: Thanks for having me.


COOPER: Up next, is the Biden administration on its way to being boxed in as a result of the growing stream of migrants that southern border? (INAUDIBLE) Democratic congressman who represents one of the key districts there about that, when we continue.



COOPER: The Biden administration tonight is facing increasing pressure from both sides of the political aisle to come up with a plan to alleviate the growing migrant surge at the southern border. Now in a moment I'll talk with Democratic -- Texas Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar who's calling the situation potential crisis though the White House doesn't use that word. There's no question the number of migrants is way up.

As of yesterday, CNN has learned that more than 4,000 children are in Border Patrol Custody. And according to a DHS official in a city memo obtained by CNN, the administration plans to use a convention center in Dallas to hold more than 2,000 migrant teenagers.

Joining us now from Laredo, Texas, where the surge is being felt is Congressman Cuellar. Thanks for being with us.

So, you follow the immigration policies of both the Obama and Trump administration's very closely. Do you tribute the recent surge to President Biden what's behind it?

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): No, I don't. Actually, I had called the White House about a week after inauguration, say, hey, look, this is what we're seeing on the ground. If you look at the numbers, they actually started coming up in August of 2020. And of course, October, November, December, January, were high numbers there.

Those are all under Trump times. And of course, February was the low beggar (ph) over 100,000, which you got to remember is this is that March, April, May and June, are the base of the peak months. And we're going to see some big numbers.

COOPER: In terms the messaging that we're seeing President Biden so far, I mean, he hasn't spoken at length on the issue. The White House has stayed away from calling a crisis, instead of calling a challenge. Do you think President Biden needs to be clear and telling migrants the border is not open?

CUELLAR: Well, look without due respect of the message has to be clear in Central America. There's three messages down there. One is from the President saying don't come. The other one is the family friends network that get over here then they tell their friends and family I was able to come through. And then the other one is that very aggressive marketing that the criminal organizations do.


This Friday, I was there and I talked to some of the people that had come across, there were about 20 of them. I asked them which message have they heard, never heard the President, but they're heard from their friends and neighbors that they were coming across, they saw things on T.V. that people were coming across, and there were getting recruited by people to come over across.

So, it has to be a strong message, because without due respect, the administration's message is not coming through. That's the reality of it.

COOPER: The House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, and a number of other Republicans visited El Paso today, I just want to play with some of what they said for viewers.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: It's more than a crisis. This is a human heartbreak. The sad part about all of this, it didn't have to happen.

All because the policies of our president has changed and told them something different. Told him to risk their lives and broke families apart.


COOPER: What do you make of what you heard from Kevin McCarthy?

CUELLAR: Well, it was expected, because they focus only on the pull factor and don't focus on the push factor what happens in Central America. Let me give you the numbers. And in January of this year, 8 percent of the encounters that we had, 8 percent were unaccompanied kids, unaccompanied kids.

When you look at the family units, maybe it's about 10 percent. The rest are single adults and the single adults, they're being returned under Title 42, which is a 1944 law that Trump started using again. The high point says go back to May, May, May of 2019. Well, we had a crisis, or 61 percent of people coming across were family units. Now that was a crisis. The only thing what makes this difficult is just the fact that we're in the middle of a pandemic. But if you look at the reality, the real numbers, this doesn't compare to what happened in May of 2019, which is of course under President Trump. Those are the numbers. I don't care what people say, those are the numbers and the reality.

COOPER: Congressman Cuellar, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

CUELLAR: Thank you so much.

COOPER (voice-over): Coming up, as the trial of former Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd moves into its second week. The defense asked for delay in proceedings, will explain ahead.


COOPER: Two more jurors were selected the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who's charged in the death of George Floyd. Also today, Mr. Chauvin's defense team is asking for delay citing the city's approval of a record $27 million settlement to Floyd state.

Defense lawyer Eric Nelson told the judge he was quote incredibly concerned by the announcement calling it quote, extremely prejudicial to the jury pool. The judge said he would call the jurors already selected and question them about the settlement and would take the motion under advisement.

In court, the judge said that he wish that the city hadn't made the announcement but added that he didn't see any what he termed evil intent in the timing. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second degree unintentional murder, second degree manslaughter charges. He's also pleaded not guilty to a lesser charge a third degree murder, which was reinstated last week.

Reminder, don't miss "Full Circle" our digital news show. You can catch it streaming live 6:00 p.m. Eastern at Or watch it there on the CNN app anytime On Demand.

News continues tonight right now. Let's hand over Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, Anderson, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Happy Monday. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "PRIME TIME".

I say Happy Monday because we do have good news.