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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Biden Tells Migrants Don't Come Across U.S. Border Right Now; At Least Seven People Killed In Shootings At Three Atlanta Area Spas; U.S. Intel Report Indicates Putin Targeted Biden In 2020 Meddling; New COVID Cases At Least 10 Percent Higher Than Last Week In 15 States, Still Down In U.S. Overall; California Governor On The Recall Campaign Against Him; Suspect Apprehended In Atlanta Area Shootings. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 16, 2021 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But obviously, there's a break in details as we're trying to kind of figure out exactly what happened.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And seven -- seven killed as we see this in the context of this rising anti-Asian violence across this country. So much we don't know on this. We'll continue to cover this breaking news. Let's hand it off now to "AC360."

[20:00:20]

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening, we are tracking those shootings. We'll bring you more as the information comes in.

It is a busy night. We begin with this, just in, President Biden for the first time addressing the surge on the southern border and criticism that his break on policy from the last administration is to blame.

He spoke tonight with ABC News's George Stephanopoulos.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: A lot of the migrants coming in saying they're coming in because you promised to make things better. It seems to be getting worse by the day.

Was it a mistake not to anticipate this surge?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, first of all, there was a surge in the last two years in '19 and '20, there was a surge as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This one might be worse.

BIDEN: No. Well, it could be, but here's the deal. We're sending back people -- first of all, the idea that Joe Biden said come because I heard the other day that they're coming because they know I'm a nice guy, and I want them to come.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They are saying this.

BIDEN: Yes, well, here's the deal. They're not.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you have to say quite clearly don't come?

BIDEN: Yes. I can say quite clearly don't come over and the process are getting set up, don't leave your town or city or community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: We have more now from CNN's Phil Mattingly who joins us. So Phil, does it seem like President Biden is or the White House, do they grasp the severity of the situation on the border?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think White House officials do and you heard the President try and compare it to 2019 or 2020 and I think the reality is, from his own Homeland Security Secretary today saying that they're seeing a surge that they haven't seen in nearly two decades. It's a significant problem.

And I think they're -- it's also a confluence of factors right now. It's not any one thing. From the policy side of things, the administration has made one major change from the past administration, and that is they are allowing in unaccompanied minors. That is a shift.

They are doing that they say because they want to take a more humane approach to immigration. They are still turning away any adult that comes to the border on COVID related grounds.

However, they were not prepared based on the system that they say they inherited to handle the surge of migrants over the course of the last several weeks, and it's only growing.

I think you also have the issue that the President was asked about whether or not he is part of the reason that migrants believe that the borders are now open.

One of the issues administration officials have seen is that they've seen coyotes, the individuals who are taking money and trying to escort individuals through the dangerous journey, saying that they believe the policy has changed.

So they are dealing with that, and then they're obviously dealing with the northern triangle countries that are dealing with their own hardships.

Obviously, there were hurricanes down there. Their own issues with their governments that's driving a lot of the surge that you're seeing right now.

So all of this coming together is creating a significant problem, and while the administration seems fully aware, I think from now the President on down that they have a problem right now, they are also cognizant of the fact that it's going to take time to fix in terms of ramping up facilities, in terms of ramping up the ability to move the unaccompanied minors out of Border Patrol facilities where they don't belong and aren't supposed to stay for more than 72 hours.

Given the fact they're overwhelmed right now, they have fallen short of that. They are working to address it right now, but they're saying it takes time -- Anderson.

COOPER: Does the President have plans to travel to the southern border?

MATTINGLY: You know, Anderson, I asked him that today as he was departing the White House on his way to Pennsylvania for his COVID relief tour, I guess, if you will, to talk about the law that was just passed, and he said no, not at the moment.

And I think right now, I haven't talked to an administration official that is urging the President to go down there. He had senior advisers go down a couple of weeks ago. They came back. They gave him a report while they were down there.

Many of whom who speak Spanish had multiple conversations, I'm told with some of the minors that were in custody down there.

So he is having his officials go down, report, obviously his Secretary of Homeland Security is very deeply engaged as well right now.

No sense the President is going to go down, relying on his team at the moment to try and fix what is becoming a growing problem every single day.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly, stay right there. I want to bring in CNN senior political correspondent, Abby Philip. Abby, what do you

make of President Biden's comments?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think he is trying to do two things at once. He's trying to get a hold of the narrative here that Republicans are trying to use for political reasons to attack him for what is going on at the border.

And there are, I think, good reasons for the Biden administration to say, not so fast, this is in part a result of the Trump administration creating a backlog of immigrants who have been waiting in Mexico to come over.

But at the same time, what he said there, "Don't come" has taken two weeks virtually for this administration to get to that place.

A couple of weeks ago, the now Department of Homeland Security Secretary said quite the opposite. He said, we are not saying don't come, we're saying don't come right now. And I think this is an administration that is struggling to settle on where they need to be both in terms of messaging and in terms of policy, to not only deal with the long-term issues, but also to deal with this immediate problem which seems to be escalating by the day, as more and more of these children show up, and they need to be housed, and they need to be put into homes with sponsors.

[20:05:14] PHILLIP: And if they're not put into homes with sponsors, they're

being kept in conditions that their lawyers are telling us are just simply terrible. They're just waiting for -- waiting for opportunities to get out of these situations where they should not be in.

COOPER: And Abby, we just heard President Biden say, quote, "We're in the process of getting set up. Don't leave your town," which makes it almost sound like, well, once we get set up, then it's okay to leave your town. I mean, it is -- I'm not sure what the thought there is.

PHILLIP: Well, you know, I suspect that what he is referring to is something that we heard from another administration official about a week ago, which has to do with standing up a system that allows these migrants to apply for asylum in their home countries before they even make the journey.

He didn't say that. But that is, eventually I think what the administration wants to get to, and what even some Democrats I spoke to, a border Democrat Vicente Gonzalez over the weekend who has been emphasizing, that is crucial to stopping this flow of immigrants coming up through Mexico.

You've got to get them to go through some of this process in their home countries.

The problem is that the administration says that is going to take some time to stand that system up. The question is, how much time do they really have?

I mean, the crisis is now. They don't want to call it a crisis, but the numbers that we're seeing at the border certainly suggest that it is.

COOPER: And Phil, I mean, why did the President wait this long to say, you know, don't come to the border. There are now more than 4,000 unaccompanied migrant children in Customs and Border Patrol custody.

MATTINGLY: You know, I think there was a -- there was a belief that his top officials saying something similar to that, making very clear whether it was his Press Secretary at the podium each day, whether it was his Homeland Security Secretary who eventually came out and made that very clear as well, kind of his top officials getting that word across was going to be enough.

I think the reality is the President hasn't been out. He takes questions sometimes when he is departing. He takes questions occasionally at sprays, but the President hasn't been out and had really the opportunity to make that forceful statement, "Do not come now."

And I think also, the administration right now, I think they would acknowledge, they are scrambling a little bit because to Abby's point, they have long-term goals and I think they feel like they have long- term solutions to some degree, even to the Central American minors crisis that's occurring as they stand, whether it's sending more aid down to the northern triangle countries, whether it's allowing minors that have relatives in the U.S. while they're back home to engage with those relatives and help clear the path forward.

What they don't have right now, what I think they're scrambling for is a short-term solution. And that's where, while it sounds a little bit like blame the last guy why you continue to hear from administration officials, so much of this is what they inherited. It's the system that they inherited that they're trying to overhaul on the run as things are moving and it's obviously a very fluid situation -- Anderson.

COOPER: Phil Mattingly, Abby Phillip, thank you very much.

We are going to bring you more now in the breaking news. At least seven people are known dead tonight after shootings at three spas, two in Atlanta, and one in a nearby county. CNN's Ryan Young joins us now by phone with the latest.

Ryan, so just explain what exactly has gone on because the latest that I had was that there were three -- two dead on the scene and one dead at a hospital from a place called Young's Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia and then two other massage spas, one called a Therapy Spa, which seemed very close to each other.

There were three people killed and then one other person killed at another spot. So, explain what's going on.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Right, so Anderson what we've learned from this information so far, Acworth is in Cherokee County. So that's where the initial shooting happened.

And it's sort of unclear exactly what took place. We know, someone appeared maybe walked inside and started shooting, and that's where the first three people were killed or at least two people were shot and then one person maybe showed up to a hospital.

Then the information that about a 47-minute ride from the second shooting scene, the second shooting scene was a spa that's very close to Buckhead, so if you know Atlanta very well, you know that's a busy area.

This is a very busy intersection where these two spas are located. And then apparently, some women -- three women were shot in one location and another woman was shot pretty much at the spa right across the street.

There's a small grouping of spas in this area. Now, I just got off the phone with a few detectives that I know in the Atlanta area. They're telling me that there's been pretty much a massive call out to law enforcement throughout the Atlanta area to be on the lookout for a suspect vehicle, but also they are working this case to see if they are obviously connected.

That's a theory they are working with currently. Obviously, the Chief of Police just did a news conference in the last 15 to 20 minutes where he was talking about making this a top priority.

That area of Buckhead where the second and third scenes happened, it is a very busy area, so you know, there's probably tons of cameras that are in that area that police are going to have to start scouring through to make sure they have images of a suspect vehicle that they can get them out to the public as soon as possible.

[20:10:19]

YOUNG: They've also set down a large area around the shooting scenes, even in Cherokee County where they are trying to get any sort of evidence they can to get out there so they can try to catch these suspects.

Now, I will tell you that after talking to someone who was working on another taskforce, they were telling me about a robbing crew that had been hitting some of these spas recently, but they're not sure if that's connected to this at all or not.

Of course, they're also working with the theory that someone could have specifically targeted these areas because they are known for the workers that have inside which would be the Asian workers that would be there.

So in terms of what's going on right now, we know there's been just a slew of police officers who have basically been brought in for their investigative duties to try to figure out exactly what's going on with these separate shootings.

But again, the death toll is so surprising with seven people that have been shot and dead.

COOPER: Ryan, let me just run through just some details with you.

So the first shooting that's known, it was in Acworth, Georgia, correct?

YOUNG: Right. Yes, sir.

COOPER: And that's where three people died. Two people died on the scene. One person died at a hospital and you say that's about -- and that's at the Young's Asian Massage, which we're showing video from, that's Cherokee County.

YOUNG: So Cherokee County is about 47 minutes outside the City of Atlanta.

COOPER: Is it know, possibly what time that shooting occurred?

YOUNG: And that is the part that we're still working on, Anderson, because when this originally happened, it looked like it was an accident on the highway. And so police started shutting down some of the roadways around there and all of a sudden, the word came out that there were several shootings that may be connected to this.

And as all of our eyes were kind of focused on what happened with that shooting, it became clear that something else was happening in the City of Atlanta, I would say about two hours later.

I mean, that's when this other busy area close to Buckhead had these double shootings pretty quickly behind each other.

COOPER: Okay, and you said it's a 47-minute ride from Acworth to the other -- just looking at the addresses of the two massage spas in the Buckhead area, it looks like they're very close to each other, just judging by the numbers on the buildings.

YOUNG: Absolutely. They're almost across the street from each other. Anyone who is sort of -- I am being redirected here, there's -- the two spas are pretty much right across the street from each other and that has been there for years.

Police have kept a pretty strong presence in this area for quite some time. But the shootings are less than a mile away from Piedmont Park.

So at this point, on a busy afternoon in Atlanta, you would know this area would be packed with traffic. So whoever pulled the shooting on really with a lot of people, probably very visibly be able to hear the gunshots as it took place.

COOPER: And I assume, Ryan, we don't know at this point the timing of the shootings at the Buckhead area spas.

YOUNG: As what was described to me, they were pretty back-to-back. It looks -- it appears that the person who ever did it probably did it on foot and went from one location to the next.

As I'm looking at the scene right now, there are major parts of the street that have been shut down as police start to gather their evidence.

COOPER: And you said that there's a vehicle of interest that -- had police released details about that?

YOUNG: So about -- I want to say about an hour and a half ago, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department released a picture on their Twitter page a black vehicle. We're not sure how that may be connected to this shooting.

Obviously, they are taking some interest to tweet it out, and then also to add the guidelines from there.

We don't know if they have a suspect's picture. We don't know if these businesses have video cameras and they may have a direct line of sight on whoever may have done the shooting. These are things that we're hoping to get an update from detectives in the near future.

Like I said, the Police Chief of Atlanta did a news conference probably about a half hour ago when they gave very few details. But obviously, this is an ongoing investigation at this point.

COOPER: And I'm just -- I apologize for looking down to our viewers, I'm just looking at information as it is coming in.

According to a CNN report, police said at the time that they responded to the Aroma Therapy Spa, they'd found the one deceased victim all -- we know that all the deceased victims were female appear to be Asian. They didn't elaborate if they were employees or customers at the spa.

And the Cherokee, I guess, that's it for now.

Ryan, stay with us, if you can, if you have to go to gather more information, we certainly understand, but if you can, stay with us.

I want to bring in CNN contributor, former F.B.I. Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe. Andrew, what do you make of what's going on?

[20:15:22]

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, this is a really tough situation. Obviously, in Atlanta, you've got three separate locations, multiple homicides at each, obviously a terrible tragedy for those folks involved and a hugely complicated investigation to undertake by the police officials.

So with all victims, and excuse me, for looking down as well, Asian females, you've got known associates, family members. There are so many potential perpetrators here and so many potential motives for this sort of violence, that it's really important that both the police and of course, our coverage as well keeps a really open mind about this stuff right now.

COOPER: Yes, it's obviously very easy to sort of speculate, and I don't think we should be doing that at this stage, if ever. Ryan, you said you had talked to somebody in law enforcement who had talked about burglaries that are there -- some folks are going around hitting, like robbing businesses in that area.

YOUNG: Some of the spas throughout the Atlanta area for what I was told by one law enforcement official, but again, when they heard the description of the people who may be involved in this, obviously, all law enforcement in those areas antennas went up.

They obviously understand what's been going on across this country. There are several large pockets of the Asian community here in Atlanta, and so there are businesses that clearly get targeted sometimes. But there's also areas of town where you know, there's a large presence of Asian-Americans.

So this has been a conversation from some of the top law enforcement officials who are trying to figure out how this may be connected, what the next steps may be. They're talking to some of their partners.

Because obviously, with this happening in Cherokee County network, it's not the same as the Atlanta Police Department.

So you have a robust police department here in Atlanta, but the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department also has to work this case, I'm sure the G.B.I. will be getting involved as well as all of these sort of entities here in Georgia try splitting up how they can go after whoever did this.

COOPER: Yes. Director McCabe, if the Cherokee County officials have tweeted out an image of a vehicle of interest, is that something that they would have done based on -- solely based on eyewitness accounts, or certain closed circuit television accounts, I guess?

MCCABE: You know, it could be any of those things, Anderson. It is entirely possible that you have video surveillance either at the crime locations or at the neighboring businesses across the street that sort of thing that could give you a great vision into a vehicle that may have entered or left the scene at the right time.

At the same time, I'm sure those police officers are canvassing all of the individuals who were present at the adjacent businesses, across the street, or what have you to see if anybody saw anything suspicious.

You know, vehicles moving at a high rate of speed, people looking like they're fleeing the scene. So there's all kinds of different channels that they could have relied upon to get that vehicle description.

We don't know at this point how they're characterizing the vehicle. So it's -- but it's obviously something they're going to be looking closely for.

COOPER: And Director McCabe, when you have incidents like this in different jurisdictions. I mean, one is in Cherokee County, the others are in in Atlanta, on Piedmont just very close to each other. How much more difficult does that make the kind of the early part of this investigation?

MCCABE: You know, it requires a really high degree of coordination between these different agencies. It's likely that their relationships and their ability to coordinate are well developed and strong because they are so close to each other, I'm sure they have criminal activity that very frequently overlaps from one jurisdiction to another.

But I can tell you that those Sheriff's Deputies in Cherokee and those police officers are interacting and exchanging information real time phone to phone to understand, you know, whether or not they can together develop some suspects to focus on.

COOPER: There's also the question of obviously, is it the same person involved in all three incidences? Obviously, the ones that are close together, that would seem more obvious, the question, of course is, did somebody you know, go to Acworth, Georgia have this incident at the first spa, and then drive 47 minutes to the others?

MCCABE: You know, and I know this is an unsatisfying answer, but both possibilities are completely in play right now. Right?

So if you think just from the perspective of, is this some sort of an ethnically or racially motivated hate crime that could be conducted by an individual who would access all three locations or a small group of people who are looking to victimize that community in an effort to make some sort of statement.

[20:20:14]

MCCABE: If it's an individual offender who, for whatever reason, decided to commit this atrocity, may just be some, you know, based on family reasons or business reasons or whatever that might be, it could be somebody who went from place to play, so they really have to keep the aperture very open right now.

COOPER: Andrew McCabe, appreciate it. Ryan Young, as well. We're going to continue to follow this story. Bring you any new developments as we get them in.

The new Intelligence Community report on Russian election interference in 2020, who it was intended to help and hurt, that's next.

Also, what to make of the race right now to vaccinate in what everyone hopes will not turn out to be one last surge of the virus.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Just about any other night, this would have been the lead story. A report just out confirming that Russia did interfere in the 2020 election and it was aimed at helping the former President.

[20:25:06]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, I want no help from any country, and I haven't been given help from any country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: The former President said that a little more than a year ago, shortly after Intelligence officials briefed lawmakers about what Russia was once again up to.

Today's Intelligence Community assessment put out by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence spells it out quoting from page four: "We assess that Russian leaders viewed President Biden's potential election is disadvantageous to Russian interests and this drove their efforts to undermine his candidacy."

In other words, precisely what the former President denied was happening as far back as early last year and well into the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.

All of the e-mails, the e-mails, the horrible e-mails of the kind of money that you were raking in, you and your family. And Joe, you were Vice President when some of this was happening, and it should have never happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Which brings us to tonight and CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. So walk us through this new assessment, Jim. JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I

spoke to a senior U.S. Intelligence official tonight who was involved in the 2016 U.S. Intelligence assessment on Russia's interference in that election. And he said to me, you look at this report and Russia has been remarkably disturbingly consistent.

In fact, the language of the report reads almost like verbatim from the 2016 Intelligence assessment. It begins with this key point and that is that: "We assess (the U.S. Intelligence Community) that Russian President Putin authorized this interference." And then it goes on to the details of what did Russia do to influence this election.

It says that it denigrated President Biden's candidacy, much as it did, Hillary Clinton's candidacy in 2016, as well as the Democratic Party. It supported former President Trump just as they did in 2016.

But also crucially and more broadly, it says it undermined public confidence in the electoral process and exacerbated sociopolitical divisions in the U.S.

On that last point, what was truly remarkable this time around, Anderson, is that it had an ally here in the U.S. in the former President himself, because he has raised leading up to the election since the election and to tonight on FOX News, raise those same questions about the electoral process, calling it a stolen election when there is no basis for it.

So you had in effect, Russia, had in effect, an ally on the ground here in the U.S. pushing the same divisive narrative.

COOPER: And the report also talks about close associates to the President.

SCIUTTO: It does. It says that Russia deliberately targeted close associates of the President, and those close associates repeated, propagated the same lies Russia was trying to propagate and it does not name Rudy Giuliani, but it does name Andrii Derkach who is a Ukrainian politician, a known Russian Intelligence agent that Giuliani met with frequently to get information, dirt on President Biden, which Giuliani went on the airwaves many times here in this country, to claim falsely about President Biden, former, you know, at the time candidate Biden.

So again, what's different this time around was winning help from Americans in Russia's election interference, and it's remarkable to see.

COOPER: And the former President and administration officials all had said it was really China and Russia interfering in the election, the assessment contradicted that, correct?

SCIUTTO: Absolutely, leading up John Ratcliffe, the former D.N.I. under Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr on CNN, they all said no, Russia is the bigger threat. What we find from this Intelligence report is either they were flat

out wrong, they missed it, or that they deliberately misled because in fact, the report found, the assessment that China sent this one out. It calculated that neither result would really make a difference for them and they wanted to maintain stable relations with the U.S., so they did not interfere.

The Trump administration got that wrong or lied about it.

COOPER: Jim Sciutto, appreciate it.

We're continuing to get new information on the shootings in and around Atlanta. We will bring you live update shortly.

Also the latest on COVID, the good, the bad and the potentially very much worse.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:32:07]

COOPER: We continue to follow reports out of Atlanta tonight on shootings and fatalities in locations in and around the city. CNN's Ryan Young has just arrived here at the Atlanta crime scene. He joins us now from there. Bring us up to speed Ryan.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson a complicated scene here. I want to show you this. The road behind me has been shut down and they do these separate investigations. As you look across the street, you can see where some of these shootings have happened.

What I can tell you right now is detectives have been pulling people from the surrounding businesses to have a conversation about exactly what happened. You can see these officers tying up some more tape. Now they've blocked off more than three blocks of road here to diverting traffic. But the news about the seven people being killed in these three separate shootings is what has everyone asking questions.

Now, this third floor right here, if you look across the way that is a dancing gentlemen's club, I guess you could call it, a strip club. That's there. They've been talking to some people who might have witnessed the shooting from over there. Then as you come back this way, you see the two spas and question, you see the aroma therapy spa, you see the other spa right there.

And then directly across from that there is another spa. Now all these businesses usually have cameras going down this way. We've seen more than nine detectives walking this area trying to get a news from anyone who's over here about what's going on with this investigation.

I can tell you also in Cherokee County, where the original shooting scene was that police department has been actively working some of the leads they have we know just in the last five minutes or so, they've started to put a name out there about a possible suspect. We have not confirmed that. I'm all the way with the police in terms of why they're looking for this particular person. When we get that bit of information for you, it's still tied to that

same black car that talking about Anderson, but they are looking for a SUV that is black and color that might have some damage to it. But that's what detectives from Cherokee County are putting out right now. But you can see the accuracy as we speak.

COOPER: Yes. Just for our viewers who are just tuning in for this about this late this afternoon in Cherokee County, two people were killed. There are actually three people were killed, two on the scene of a spa, one who died later at the hospital then some 40 -- about an hour or so after that. There were shootings at two separate spots. And that's the scene where Ryan is right now.

Now, COVID in today's array of good and bad news vaccine availability is growing nationwide, with Montana today becoming the latest to announce universal eligibility for all adults in their case starting April 1st. That said test positivity is taking backup. Positive cases though down overall have risen by at least 10 percent in 15 states since just last week. And in Minnesota and Michigan new cases have spiked more than 40 percent.

Globally European countries are locking back down as new variants spread and vaccine efforts stall. While back home, the TSA is reporting some the busiest air travel days since the pandemic began. This being Spring Break season many of those travelers are not exactly taking precautions where they land.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[20:35:10]

DAN GELBER (D) MAYOR, MIAMI BEACH: Problem is we have too many people coming. We have too many people coming who want to just let loose in ways that are unacceptable. And we have a pandemic, including I think, really sort of ground central for the variant. So, you know, there's a lot of things to be concerned about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: With that mind, we're joined now by Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. Also, CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, what do you make of where we're at right now?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think the image is starting to come into clearer focus. I mean, we've been talking about these variants for some time. Obviously, Professor Osterholm has been sounding the alarm on this for a while.

The UK variant was probably here, you know, in December, maybe even early December, we're mid-March now, 49 states. Now have confirmed that the UK variant is there. So that gives you some idea of how quickly this is spreading. But when I say it's coming into clearer focus, I mean, there's still some trend lines that we're trying to figure out, as you mentioned, Anderson 15 states have had numbers increase at least 10 percent, a couple states, 40 percent. But then, you know, Florida, for example, where the UK dominant has become more dominant. So the UK strain has become more dominant. The cases still appear to be going down. So we're not sure if that just hasn't caught up yet, or what's happening there.

Just show you quickly, Italy, France, United States. You mentioned this a minute ago, Anderson, you know, I remember last spring, we were all talking about Italy, we can show the graph of what's happening now. But when you're talking about Italy last spring, we thought, well, we're not going to follow that trajectory. Of course, we did.

And now we see what's happening in Italy, the blue line in France right now. And I think that, you know, the UK variant is dominant in Italy. So that's the concern. You know, so many provinces are now going back into the significant mitigation mode in Italy. Is that going to be a precursor of what happens here? That's the question.

COOPER: Professor Osterholm, what, in terms of the variance in the United States, how concerned are you about them, especially given what we're seeing in Europe?

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR, CIDRP: Well, all the variants of concern that those that are capable, either causing more transmission of the virus or more serious illness or evading the immune protection from the vaccine, or natural infection are all a concern. The one is Sanjay has pointed out that really is front and center is B117, the variant first seen in the UK, which actually is about 60 percent, or more infectious and previous strains of the virus, as well as it causes anywhere from 50 to 60 percent, more severe illness.

That's the one that's spreading widely right now in the United States, we'll have to deal with the other variants that from South Africa and from South America. But right now, front and center, I think the next several weeks are going to be all about B117. And the race we have between vaccine and the variant. And again, of course loosening up as we are right now, we are creating a perfect storm scenario for this virus to spread.

COOPER: So, Professor Osterholm, if people continue to travel, stop wearing masks, open things up. And this variant is spreading and, you know, people not getting vaccinated, what happens?

OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, there's an assumption made by a lot of people that so many people have been infected or are getting vaccinated, that not much will happen. And that's just simply not true. Right now, we have somewhere between 50 and 55 percent of the U.S. population that's protected through having had infection before and having immunity or having been vaccinated.

But for example, we still have almost 20 million Americans 65 years of age and older that haven't had a drop of vaccine. And in Europe to have those countries that were following very closely, Malta and Hungary are two countries that have actually had well, some of the most active immunization programs going on.

They too have been really hit hard in the past, meaning that they have a number of people who are immune from previous infections. And right now, they have the steepest increase in cases of any of the European countries. So I think it's a harbinger for us of potential things to come. If we continue to loosen up and allow this virus to go willy nilly.

COOPER: Sanjay, I mean, you have more states rolling back restrictions air travel up a lot of activities picking back up. How concerned are you?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I mean, it's concerning. I mean, I think that the idea that the two are 12 percent of the country has been vaccinated I think is Dr. Osterholm mentioned. I think it's 30, 35, 40 percent of people over the age of 60 are now fully vaccinated, 60 percent have received at least one shot.

But, you know, if you look at these new IHME projections, these are the models from the University of Washington. They've actually increased their death projection by July 1st now by 20,000 more people. So close to 600,000 people they say will have died of this by July 1st.

[20:40:07]

It's concerning. You remember Anderson, we talked to Chris Murray, a couple of weeks ago. And he's talking about the impact of rolling back the mask mandates in Texas. And at that point, he said, look, mask usage has been largely stable in the country around 75 percent.

But now they're saying in those places where the mask mandates have been rolled back, I guess perhaps not surprisingly, you are seeing decreased mask use. And that's a problem. I mean, those are some of the states that are fueling that increase.

COOPER: Professor Osterholm, Moderna announced today that the first children have been vaccinated in their pediatric trial, including infants as young as six months old. If it's proven safe and children, could that vaccine be ready to go for the next school year?

OSTERHOLM: We're hopeful that it could be ready for if not the beginning of school soon after school begins. And we're even more excited about the possibility of having even younger children and children in daycare vaccinated in the future. But for now, that's obvious, not a solution.

I would say that one of the things that's very concerning about this B117 variant, is the fact that prior to this time, young kids were really not important from the standpoint of spreading the virus or for that often getting infected.

And the large outbreak that we have emerging in Minnesota right now, just as we've seen in Europe, kids get readily infected, and kids transmit the virus, which I think is going to create a new challenge for school openings. I've been one of those saying you can open schools, particularly through kindergarten through eighth grade, safely. And I think what we've seen in Europe, and now we're seeing in the United States is going to raise a challenge to that because this new strain is really spreading in kids.

COOPER: Wow. Professor Osterholm, appreciate it. Sanjay, always.

We're of course also keeping an eye on that breaking news from Atlanta where seven people are known dead in a series of shootings at spas.

Meanwhile, up next, California Governor Gavin Newsom on the recall campaign against him and what he's saying now about going to a fancy restaurant during the height of the pandemic when he was telling others to stay home.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

COOPER: We continue to monitor the situation in the Atlanta area. At least seven people killed and shootings at three massage parlors will bring you any updates. Now to the recall fight for California Governor Gavin Newsom he spoke with CNN earlier today, the day before organizers of the recall, face a deadline for submitting nearly one and a half million signatures for verification.

They've said signatures already collected amounts in nearly two million. Some of the money raised for that campaign by his opponents he said was from out of state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[20:45:16]

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): -- received almost $3 million of money some coming from different parts of the country, not just from the state of California. So at the end of the day, it's complicated as to why this is on but that's not determinative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well CNN Dan Simon now on how politician who wants him pretty much invincible found himself in this situation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWSOM: Absolutely. We're taking it seriously.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Governor Newsom taking seriously the threat to remove him from office.

NEWSOM: And I'm worried about of course I'm worried about it.

SIMON (voice-over): And that's why he's on something of a media blitz, appearing on shows like "The View".

NEWSOM: Good morning Whoopi.

SIMON (voice-over): And making the rounds on cable news including on "The Lead" with Jake Tapper.

NEWSOM: This is the sixth, sixth recall effort and just 25 months since I've been governor.

SIMON (voice-over): The appearances perhaps a tacit acknowledgement that Newsom is in deep political trouble. As more than 2 million signatures to put a recall on the ballot have been collected. Well over the 1.5 million needed to move forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) Newsom.

SIMON (voice-over): The governor who earned high marks for his management early in the pandemic has seen his fortunes fall. Amid tight restrictions, cases and deaths soared. Small business owners got crushed, public schools were shuttered, the initial vaccine rollout slow and disorganized. And then there was Newsom's PR disaster showing up at a fancy Napa Valley restaurant while urging people to stay at home.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: What on earth are you thinking?

NEWSOM: Oh as a friend of over a quarter of a century he is having his 50th birthday. Restaurants were open in the state. I wasn't suggesting people should not eat. There were too many people at the table that was inconsistent with what I was expressing.

SIMON (voice-over): The bottom line critics say California has nothing to show for its aggressive moves to fight the pandemic.

NEWSOM: It's been a difficult year in hindsight, you know, we're all experts. The reality is it was about a year ago was a year ago this week. California was the first state to initiate a stay at home order. I think we save thousands and thousands of lives.

SIMON (voice-over): Newsom now framing the recall as a Republican backed movement supported by anti-vaxxers, QAnon conspiracy theorists and anti-immigrant Trump supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's behind the partisan recall of Governor Gavin Newsom?

SIMON (voice-over): His campaign launching a website and splashy ad called stop the Republican recall. Linking the recall organizers to those who tried to overturn the presidential election.

RANDY ECONOMY, SR. ADVISOR, GOV. NEWSOM RECALL CAMPAIGN: We're proud boys, we're QAnon, we're extremists, we're this. Listen, it's welcome to the campaign and this is the labels that they're going to start throwing out at us. And it's nonsensical.

SIMON (voice-over): Recall organizer Randy Economy, a former Democrat turn Trump campaign staffer says the two million signatures he's gathered a force to recall represent a wide swath of California.

ECONOMY: This is not a Republican movement. That's not a Democratic Party movement. It's a people's movement here in California. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: Well, tomorrow is the deadline to have all those signatures submitted. The bottom line here is if everything goes according to plan for the recall organizers. This election would take place in the fall possibly October or November. And if Newsom survives this, and many political analysts in California think that he will give him the politics. He would then be on the ballot again in 2022 for his reelection. Anderson.

COOPER: Dan Simon, appreciate it.

It has certainly been a busy yet busy night. We have more breaking news from President Biden's the interview with ABC News. He tells George Stephanopoulos the sexual harassment investigation in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo should continue. What's more, the President said that if allegations against him are confirmed he thinks Governor Cuomo will probably end up being prosecuted.

We'll be right back more ahead.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

[20:51:50]

COOPER: We continue to follow the breaking news out of Atlanta three shootings in Atlanta area spas where at least seven people have been killed. CNN's Ryan Young has just arrived near the Atlanta crime scene. He joins us now there with the latest. What's -- a suspect has been apprehended I understand.

YOUNG: Absolutely. We do have some new information here. One we believe that number is now moved to eight Anderson. We also believe the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department is now saying that Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock has been arrested. The one thing that we're not sure about is whether or not he's connected to all the shooting scenes. We know at least in the Cherokee case, that they believe he is a suspect they were looking for. That's where the initial shooting happened.

As I step out of the way here and you look back this direction, what we're told is that there was a stop made and Chris County, and Robert Aaron Long was taken into custody. Now the shooting thing that you see behind us, there are a bunch of detectives who have gathered who've just finished some of the interviews are going through.

We know they're also trying to go through surveillance video. But we've learned that at least four people were shot and killed here. We're not sure where that other additional victim may have been, because, of course, we've been saying seven dead. Now we believe there's eight, so we haven't connected all those scenes together.

This is obviously a multi-jurisdictional shooting. So Cherokee will have to talk to Atlanta, Atlanta will have to talk to Cherokee. And now you have that Chris County component. We believe the Georgia State Patrol was actually able to stop that man on the roadway. They might even use the pit maneuver from what we're being told. Now

investigators will be going through this information, obviously going through some of the eyewitness accounts to see if the same vehicle appeared in both locations. And this shooting scene right here you can see where this shooting happened in directly across the street here is the other shooting scene. So that's all a part of this.

Of course, this is a fast-moving investigation, because this has been going on all afternoon and police are still trying to gather all the detail pieces. But let's say again in the last half hour or so, police have been able to make an arrest of a Woodstock man, they did put a picture out we'll hope to get that up for you at some point soon. But this is the man they were looking for. It'd be interesting to see if they can connect all the dots now they haven't (INAUDIBLE)

COOPER: And just very quickly Chris County, how far is that from Cherokee or from the Buckhead area?

YOUNG: Well, so I think he left this shooting happened maybe an hour and a half ago, I think it's about 50 miles away from here, if I'm correct --

COOPER: OK.

YOUNG: -- Anderson, not 100 percent sure.

COOPER: OK.

YOUNG: As soon as we got that information we just got on air, but I do believe it's about an hour away from here.

COOPER: OK. Again, unclear if it's the same person involved or persons involved. Ryan Young, appreciate it.

Perspective now from our law enforcement analyst, Charles Ramsey who joins us on the phone.

Chief Ramsey, what do you make of what you've been watching?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, you've got three active crime scene. So you've got a lot going on now. It was just reported there is a person in custody. Hopefully, he's someone who will talk and provide more information.

But with the three scenes going on two different jurisdictions, there's an awful lot of work taking place right now and you got to interview witnesses pull video, process the scene. You know, I'm not a big believer in coincidence. So, somehow these three scenes are connected. The question is how are they connected? Is it a one person that's a shooter? Was it a small group? Could there be, you know, one person that owns all three? I mean, we don't know what the motive is yet. It could be driven by hate. That's what investigators will be focusing on.

[20:55:19] But the odds of having three shootings within a short period of time, all spies, all within a radius of let's say 60 miles, happening on the same day. I mean, that's not likely to have happened.

COOPER: How at this early stage an investigation, how important is his motive? Is that something that come sort of becomes of interest later on? Or is that integral to the early stages?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, it'll come later on, as he started to interview people, he started to find more out about the suspect, they started going through social media, I mean, all the things that an investigator would do, and start to kind of take a look to see what the motive is. But first, they want to make sure that there aren't other shooters out there.

And so, I don't know what evidence they've collected from all three scenes, but they're going through a lot of information right now in terms of video, interviewing witnesses to any of the people who are witnesses. Did they survive the shooting? Were they in despite the time so they'd be able to provide a description? We just don't know the answer to any of that yet. But it'll unfold as time goes on.

COOPER: Yes. And as you said it's a number of jurisdictions, which obviously complicates things.

RAMSEY: Well, it does whenever you got multiple jurisdictions, but they all coordinate. And of course, you've got the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. I'm sure they're involved as well. So it'll all come together, and they'll compare notes and they'll talk to one another and so forth.

But right now, between Cherokee County in Atlanta, there's just an awful lot of work going on. But there's also an awful lot of interaction between the investigators I'm sure.

COOPER: Yes. Chief Ramsey, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

Well, more from us just ahead. More in this throughout the night. We'll be right back.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

COOPER: Between the President intelligence report, COVID and the Atlanta shootings it's quite evening and as we've been reporting the Atlanta area stories unfolding as we speak. In the city just north of it in Cherokee County in about two hours south and Chris County where the police said the suspect in the Cherokee County shooting has been apprehended.

So, a lot to cover tonight. With all that, let's head over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME". Chris.

[21:00:02]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Yes, Anderson. I'm picking up on the reporting authorities in the area. I don't believe this is a coincidence.