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Interview with Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-WA); Atlanta Mayor Condemns Deadly Shooting Spree; Dr. Fauci Pushes Back On GOP Sen. Rand Paul; Says "Masks Are Not Theater, Masks Are Protective"; FBI Releases New Videos Of "Most Violent" Attacks On Officers; Rep. Gohmert Falsely Claims: "There Was No Armed Insurrection". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 18, 2021 - 20:00   ET



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Now in addition to meeting with Asian-American leaders here in Atlanta on Friday, President Biden is also, we're told set to meet with Stacey Abrams.

Of course, she took a lead in registering all of those African- American voters that contributed to Biden's victory last year, but now are in front and center in this conversation is voting rights and what role Biden will play in it -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Jeff, thank you very much.

Thanks to all of you. I'll see you tomorrow. Anderson starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening, a very full hour ahead, including a look at what our lives could look like if as anticipated we soon have a glut, not a shortage of COVID vaccine.

That and the mistaken belief expressed today by Senator Rand Paul that being vaccinated is a license to put the people around you at risk by being an inconsiderate jerk.

We begin though with a different manifestation of the kind of tone deafness that Senator Paul is showing toward anyone who has lost someone to COVID or to the people in his own medical profession whose lives are complicated and jeopardized when people like him stop masking up.

It's a deafness to the acute trauma that Asian-Americans are coping with in the wake of the Atlanta area shootings and the ongoing attacks and fear of more attacks they face daily.

Today, a House Judiciary Subcommittee heard testimony from Asian- American lawmakers about the climate of hatred that they and their constituents are experiencing.

The Committee also heard from Texas Congressman Chip Roy, the Ranking Republican that used part of his time to finally recall the good old days when lynchings in Texas were a -- OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): There's an old saying in Texas about you know,

find all the rope in Texas and get a taller tree. You know, we take justice very seriously and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys.


COOPER: So, to a community living in fear of random acts of violence during a hearing to address that violence and discrimination, Congressman Roy there seems to praise the idea of mobs of people lynching other people from trees.

And just as Americans of Asian descent are being slandered with false allegations of loyalty to a foreign country, racist allegations, and, frankly, a long history in this country, Congressman Roy decided that now is also the time to stoke that particular fire as well.


ROY: The Chi-Coms, the Chinese Communist Party, whatever phrasing we want to use, and if some people are saying, hey, we think those guys are the bad guys, for whatever reason, and let me just say clearly, I do.

And I think that what they're doing targeting our country, and I think that what they're doing to undermine our national security and what they're doing to steal our intellectual property and what they're doing to build up their military and rattle throughout the Pacific, I think it's patently evil and deserving of condemnation.


COOPER: Now, the Congressman isn't wrong in believing the Chinese government does some pretty terrible things. It certainly does.

What he fails to acknowledge or even seem to care about is that Americans -- Americans are being targeted for being of Chinese descent or people believing they're of Chinese descent or merely because some violent person somewhere thinks they are.

Congressman Roy had nothing to offer them. In fact, he barely even acknowledged them before veering off into what about-ism.


ROY: The victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice. And as the case what we're talking about here with the tragedy which we just saw occur in Atlanta, Georgia.

I would also suggest that the victims of cartels moving illegal aliens deserve justice, the American citizens in South Texas that are getting absolutely decimated by what's happening in our southern border deserve justice, the victims of rioting and looting in the streets last week, businesses closed, burned -- I'm sorry, last summer -- deserve justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: So one of the congressman's Asian-American colleagues, what he

said was like saying who cares?


REP. GRACE MENG (D-NY): We cannot turn a blind eye to people living in fear. I want to go back to something that Mr. Roy said earlier, your President and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don't have to do it by putting a bull's eye on the back of Asian-Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids.

This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community to find solutions and we will not let you take our voice away from us.


COOPER: Putting a bull's eye on a community's back as the Congresswoman puts it, it happened to loyal Japanese Americans during the Second World War, it happened to Catholic Americans well into the 20th Century. It now, after a year of the pandemic seems to be happening again and it's not like people are only realizing it now.

Listen to Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, the so-called moderate being asked about it one full year ago today.


QUESTION: Are you on board with the President calling this the "China virus," "Chinese virus?" Does it seem like that that is helpful right now, to call it that?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): That's where it came from.

QUESTION: But is it helpful? It alienates people. It sorts of sends like tones like that like there is someone to blame, that there is a group of people to blame.

CORNYN: Well, I think China is to blame because they're the culture where people eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that.



COOPER: In the year since those remarks, the organization, Stop AAPI Hate has recorded nearly 3,800 acts of hate against Asian-Americans and Pacific-Islanders.

In San Francisco today, an arrest on the attacks on to elderly Asian victims, just the latest in a wave of Bay Area violence against Asian seniors, and according to a study from three UC Berkeley researchers, the rhetoric from the former President and others associating COVID with one particular racial group was indeed associated with an uptick in anti-Asian bias.

Yet ask a supporter of the former President, and here's what you get.


QUESTION: Do you regret using terms like Chinese coronavirus?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I don't know. Does CNN regret that? Does the Democratic committee that started out regret that? I would wait to see why the shooter did what he did. But if the virus came from China, and I think the knowledge we had at the time is exactly that.

I don't think people from the standpoint to go after any Asian in any shape or form and I condemn every action to that.


COOPER: By the way, for the record, as for the Congressman's allegations about CNN, we stopped using such terminology very early on. We explained it to viewers and language like this from March of last year, and I'm quoting now, "After consulting with medical experts and receiving guidance from the World Health Organization, CNN has determined that name is both inaccurate and is considered stigmatizing."

So we stopped a year ago. Congressman McCarthy, he didn't. In fact, he doubled down. And the former President went further hammering the phrase and even went further actually calling it quote, "kung flu" over and over again to cheers and laughter from large crowds.

But as much as the Congressman would like to make it, this isn't a got-cha game over words. It's an example of a moment when words actually matter. Victims know this. Sadly, sort of, they are victimizers. The only ones who don't, it seems, are the people clinging to them.

Joining us now, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland, Democrat of Washington State. She is Korean on her mother's side.

Congresswoman Strickland, I appreciate you joining us. A number of Asian-Americans testified today in front of the House Judiciary Committee on this uptick in violence. Have you noticed a change in behavior of attitudes towards Asian-Americans since the pandemic began?

REP. MARILYN STRICKLAND (D-WA): Definitely. We know that hate crimes against Asian-Americans have increased about 150 percent in most cities. And you know, I have friends who tell me stories of standing in line at the grocery store and having people say, you know, you're responsible for this.

I have friends who work in healthcare, and they've told me stories of patients not wanting them to touch them because they're afraid to get COVID.

And so as I said, on the House floor yesterday, Anderson, words matter, leadership matters and we have to stop using this rhetoric that tragically, I believe, ended in death in Atlanta. COOPER: The fact that your House colleague, Congressman Roy, thought

today was a good day to bring out lynching in terms that seemed kind of glowing about the days when, you know, mobs would lynch people. And he said in the State of Texas, from trees, is at the very least bizarre if not wildly offensive.

I mean, you know, famously 17 Chinese men and boys were lynched by an angry mob in 1871 in this country. I mean, is there any reason to believe that Chip Roy understands, or is really concerned about the fear that many in the Asian-American community are feeling right now? Because he seemed to want to talk about a lot of other groups.

STRICKLAND: Yes, I mean, I think with someone like Chip Roy, is that he probably knows better, but he likes to use language that's inflammatory and dramatic. And here we are in the news talking about him.

And so, you know, if he chooses to be ignorant, that's his thing. But what we need to do is speak out against that ignorance and that hate.

COOPER: Law enforcement has not ruled out calling the shooting a hate crime. Do you see it as a hate crime?

STRICKLAND: I do see it as a hate crime and there are many elements into this. You know, this was, you know, eight people who were murdered. This was a result of gun violence. But I also believe there is an issue around racism and bigotry.

And you know, these were women who worked in a spa, and the shooter went there looking for them. And so we can talk about economic anxiety, we can talk about sexual addiction. But I want to make sure that people understand that when women are murdered, when women of color are murdered, there is often a nexus between racism and misogyny, and we cannot ignore that.

COOPER: We've learned even more attacks today on -- learned of more attacks in Asian-Americans. When you read these stories, you watch videos of elderly Asian-Americans being pushed to the ground, completely randomly by people just passing by, families in restaurants being verbally harassed, spit on the street.

You know, I spoke with basketball player Jeremy Lin last night. He talked about how important it is for Asian-Americans to stand up and speak out about it and he does feel that there's kind of this change, particularly in the younger generation in this country and their willingness and their sense of urgency about speaking out.

Is it enough to speak out or are you afraid that these attacks against Asian-Americans are going to just going to continue to rise?

STRICKLAND: So you know, with any type of attacks on any group or any hate crime, we need people to be punished and held accountable and I think that's what has to change.

[20:10:04] STRICKLAND: And you know, you're right. You know, when Jeremy Lim

talked about the fact that people have maybe historically remained quiet about it or not wanting to confront it or to speak out, that has to change.

And I do believe that for some people, there's a narrative that if you're Asian, if you're Asian-American and something happens to you that you're just going to be quiet and go away and that -- things have changed.

I mean, you know, we saw protests happening around the country yesterday. We're talking about ally-ship between, you know, African Americans, Latino-Americans, and people who want to join with us.

And so this is just another example of the tragic history of racism that this country has and it started with slavery. We know that it included the expulsion of Chinese Americans, the internment of Japanese, the way Mexican-Americans are often demonized during economic crises and here we are during COVID, now having hate against Asian-Americans.

And so people are exhausted, people want folks to be held accountable and we need allies who are going to speak out with us.

COOPER: Were you surprised when you heard the -- I don't know if you saw the press conference, but you may have read about the remarks made by a representative from the Sheriff's Office in Gwinnett County where the shooter was apprehended and where the first shooting took place.

Essentially said that the shooter was having a bad day and was at the end of his rope. Does -- that's not the kind of language I'm -- I mean, if the shooter was not, I mean, I'm wondering how you interpreted those statements.

STRICKLAND: Well, I mean, it's absurd that someone would even make that remark. But you know, who had a bad day, Anderson? The eight people who were murdered. You know who had a bad day? The family members and loved ones who had to get phone calls from officials telling them that their loved ones died.

And so to say that someone had a bad day is another example of excusing something and making excuses for people.

COOPER: Yes, by the way, it was Cherokee County. I think, I misspoke. Congresswoman Strickland, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

STRICKLAND: Thanks for having me, Anderson.

COOPER: Coming up next, the Atlanta investigation, the question of hate crime charge and also more about that Sheriff's spokesman who by the way is no longer a spokesman on the case, we'll tell you why. There's new information out.

Plus, a clash over mask wearing. One senator versus the facts.


INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Here we go again with the theater. Let's get down to the facts. Let me just state for the record that masks are not theater. Masks are protective.




COOPER: A Cabinet member in the former administration is weighing in tonight in the Atlanta area mass shootings. Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Transportation in the prior administration telling CNN quote: "The critical work to combat the haunting rise of hatred against the AAPI community must intensify with the immediacy, this latest tragedy commands."

As for her husband, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he ignored multiple questions today, including about whether the former President's rhetoric has led to a rise in anti-Asian American bias.

As for the investigation itself, CNN's Amara Walker joins us now with the latest.

So are investigators ruling anything out tonight?

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, they're not, Anderson, and you know, that's the big question. You know, were these victims targeted because they are Asian? Because of the way they look?

And Atlanta Police held a news conference a couple of hours ago and they said, look, they're looking at everything and not ruling anything out. They also updated us with information about the suspect that he frequented these two spots here in Atlanta, that he purchased the handgun that he used in these shootings on the day of the shootings.

But again, Atlanta police stressing that is just too early to say whether or not these shootings were racially motivated. Take a listen.


DEPUTY CHIEF CHARLES HAMPTON, ATLANTA POLICE: As a result of that, though, we still have an investigation that is still ongoing. Our investigation is separate from the Cherokee County's investigation. Our investigation is slightly different.

We had four Asia females that were killed, and so we are looking at everything to make sure that we discover and determine what the motive of our homicides were.

So again, it's just very important to let you know that we are not done.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALKER: Now, Anderson, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms believes

race did play a role in these attacks. In fact, she says that you just can't ignore the fact that six out of the eight victims are Asian women. And she also raised a good point, you know, mentioning the suspect's claims that this was not racially motivated.

He apparently told police that this is due to a sexual addiction, making him lash out at these spas and Mayor Bottoms said look, you can't take at face value the comments of a confessed murderer -- Anderson.

COOPER: Also if part of what he has allegedly told police is that he was trying to kind of eliminate sexual temptation, the idea that he equates sexual temptation with presumably Asian spas that itself seems based on race, which seems to counteract what the police have been saying about this race had nothing to do with this.

When will the alleged shooter actually appear in court? And is it clear what the charges -- expected charges will be?

WALKER: So he is charged with eight counts of murder in both Fulton County and Cherokee County. We don't know, Anderson, when his next court appearance will be. He was scheduled for his first court appearance today, but that for some reason was cancelled on request of his attorney.

So he waived his right for a first appearance, Anderson.

COOPER: Amara Walker, I appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

We're going to hear more from Mayor Bottoms shortly.

More on the fallout over that Sheriff Department's spokesman and what he said on camera, and we're now learning what he posted online as well.

CNN's Natasha Chen has that.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Cherokee County Georgia Sheriff's Office says Captain Jay Baker is no longer a spokesperson on the case of a killing spree at three spas, resulting in eight deaths.


CHEN (voice-over): Baker has come under fire for this social media post he allegedly shared last April showing custom graphic t-shirts reading "COVID-19: Imported virus from China." The post read, "Love my shirt, get yours while they last." The account has since been deleted.

Baker further invited controversy with this comment in an answer to a reporter's question about whether the suspect understood the gravity of his actions. CAPTAIN JAY BAKER, CHEROKEE COUNTY GEORGIA SHERIFF'S OFFICE: I spoke

with investigators that interviewed him this morning and they got that impression that yes, he understood the gravity of it. And he was pretty much fed up, he had been kind of at the end of his rope and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.

MARYA HARRIS, RESIDENT: If someone is having a bad day, you don't go around shooting people.

CHEN (voice-over): Marya Harris and her mother-in--law are Muslim- Americans who live near the site of the Cherokee County shooting. They say had the suspect looked more like them instead of being white, the actions would not be chalked up to a bad day.

YASMEEN KHALID, RESIDENT: Muslims are called all terrorists. If someone goes out and kills someone, it's terrorism. If a black guy does something, he is driving and is speeding, they are going to just shoot him.

HARRIS: I have a young kid who's going to be growing up in this society, a child of color. How am I supposed to explain this to him?

CHEN (voice-over): The Cherokee County Sheriff issued a statement regretting any heartache Baker's words may have caused. Part of the statement reads: "In as much as his words were taken or construed as insensitive or inappropriate, they were not intended to disrespect any of the victims, the gravity of this tragedy or express empathy or sympathy for the suspect."

Stella Silva, who came to pay respects to the people killed at Young's Asian Massage says removing Baker as a spokesperson on this particular case is not enough. She says law enforcement agencies should go further and offer better training to their officers.

STELLA SILVA, RESIDENT: If you had more sensitive sensitivity training or if you were more in tune with your community, you would know that the words that you chose to use at the time of like, he said, an event that he's not used to in his 28 years serving, he would know not to use such flippant language.


COOPER: And Natasha Chen joins us now. So in addition to the statement that they released, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office also attended a vigil held at one of the shooting locations tonight. What did he said?

CHEN: Yes, Anderson, Sheriff Reynolds said some of the same things he said in that written statement when we asked him about Baker. He also said that there wasn't any additional information at this time to suggest racial motivation. However, he said he wanted to let the Asian-American community know that they're in his thoughts and prayers, and that he was very shaken by this crime -- Anderson.

COOPER: Natasha Chen, thanks very much. Reaction now from Atlanta's Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms. We spoke just before air time. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Mayor Bottoms, I want to talk to you about how people in Atlanta are doing in a moment. But first, I'm wondering what your reaction is to the Sheriff's Department captain in nearby Cherokee County. For him to say the alleged shooter had a bad day really struck I think a lot of people as something he, you know, likely wouldn't have said for somebody else?

And this revelation that the captain had previously posted a racist, anti-Asian COVID-19 image online.

MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS (D-GA), ATLANTA: Yes, that's very disappointing. I can tell you, Anderson, in all honesty, standing there yesterday and having the benefit of getting a briefing before we walked in, I thought that he was relaying what the shooter shared with him. I obviously didn't have the information regarding the post that he put on Facebook. That obviously is inexcusable.

I'll leave it to him to explain what that's all about. But we were focused on the eight people who were killed on yesterday. And that's been hanging very heavily over our entire city and the unfortunate part is there's now an added layer to this.

And it just really speaks to where we are as a country. There's so much that we have to learn about each other and our sensitivities to one another. And what we're seeing playing now with Asian-Americans across this country is hateful.

It's not who we are as Americans or who we should be as Americans. So I would like for us to focus on the healing that needs to happen in this country, especially as it relates to black and brown communities across America.

COOPER: Do you feel that you know what the motive of the shooter was? Because obviously police have said what they said, you know, it has upset some people who, you know -- but I'm wondering what your perspective is.

BOTTOMS: Well, it looked like a hate crime to me. This was targeted at Asian spas, six of the women who were killed were Asian, so it's difficult to see it as anything but that.

And what we know about the definition of a hate crime is its -- it can also be based on someone targeting women. So there are many areas of hate that are covered within the definition of a hate crime.


BOTTOMS: So I think any way that you look at it, it is a hate crime. It should be treated as such, and eight people were murdered. I know he's already been charged with that, but I do think it's appropriate that the prosecutors look at the most stringent and stiffest -- most stiff laws that can be applied to this and I think it's difficult to see it as anything other than a hate crime. COOPER: Do you -- do we know at this point what those laws -- what

laws might apply? I mean, when you say the stiffest, do you have a sense of where that might go?

BOTTOMS: Well, obviously, there's an opportunity for Federal investigators and prosecutors to engage. We know that we are looking at two different investigations in our state. There's one in Cherokee County, the Deputy that you mentioned, is a Cherokee County Deputy. And then there's the one that happened in Atlanta in Fulton County.

But regardless of what the state charges are, there is still an opportunity for Federal hate crime charges to be brought as well.

COOPER: There's clearly increasing fear among communities of color across the nation. I'm wondering what is being done in Atlanta now to help protect citizens and allay their concerns? And is there more that can be done?

BOTTOMS: Well, we've spent a lot of time over the past day or so reaching out to people in the Asian community, just to make sure that we have all of the information that we need to make sure that our communities are protected.

President Biden and Vice President Harris are coming to Atlanta tomorrow. There will be a discussion with several leaders during their visit on tomorrow, and we're going to continue the dialogue.

COOPER: Do you feel like hate speech and, you know, obviously, hate speech violence predates the former President, do you feel like things have gotten worse because of just the rhetoric of the last couple of years?

BOTTOMS: I know they've gotten worse. There seems to be permission now to be hateful. And this is something that this country has dealt with since the creation of this country.

But there seems to be a permission that I've not seen, at least in my lifetime that this President has given to people and it is -- it's -- we saw it play out on yesterday.

We've been watching it play out. We've seen it play out on social media. We've seen it on CNN. We've seen people attack.

And this summer, we went through this. They're having this whole discussion about where we are as black people in America and now we're having a continued discussion on the hatred that is being -- that Asians and American are on the receiving end of and what we know is, this is not the first time for the Asian-American community either.

So it does predate Donald Trump, but he certainly has given permission and done his part to elevate the hatred.

COOPER: Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

BOTTOMS: Thank you.


COOPER: Well, still to come, a testy exchange between Dr. Fauci and Senator Rand Paul, what it symbolizes about the battle underway between health and public officials about the safest way to reopen the country.

Also new videos from the January attack on the Capitol and a request from the FBI to help identify some of the people in it.



COOPER: The tension between Republicans pushing a quicker reopening of the country and top U.S. health officials who urge a more cautious approach exploded during Senate testimony today. That Senator Rand Paul questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci about the need for mask and the fear of coronavirus variants.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): What studies do you have that people that have had the vaccine or have had the infection are spreading the infection? If we're not spreading the infection, isn't it just theater?


PAUL: Not vaccine and you weren't to mask? Isn't that theater?

FAUCI: No, that's not -- here we go again with the theater like --

PAUL: What proof is there that there are significant reinfections with hospitalizations and deaths from the variance? None in our country, zero.

FAUCI: Well, because we only have a prevalent of a variant yet. We're having one -- can I finish. We're having 117, that's becoming more dominant.

PAUL: You're making a policy based on conjecture.


PAUL: You have the conjecture --

FAUCI: It isn't based on conjecture.

PAUL: (INAUDIBLE) variants. So you some you won't be able to wear a mask for the couple years.


PAUL: You've been vaccinated, and you parade around in two masks for show.

FAUCI: No. Let me just state for the record that masks are not theater. Masks are protective. And we as --

PAUL: We ask community, they're theater. If you already have immunity, you're wearing a mask to give comfort to others. You're not wearing a mask because of any sign.

FAUCI: I totally disagree with you.


COOPER: We should point out that while the United States has administered almost 116 million doses of vaccine, the country is also seeing a double digit rise in cases and at least 14 states now. Half of those states the increase is more than 20 percent.

Joining us, a CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen, emergency room physician and former Baltimore Health Commissioner.

So, just thought the exchange, I'm wondering what your reaction is from a medical doctor, you know, I mean, the senator is an ophthalmologist. What do you make of his comments?

LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I saw a clash Anderson between medicine and politics, the same kind of clash that has characterized our unfortunate response in this country to the pandemic. I mean, what Dr. Fauci was saying was medical science and Senator Paul responded with, at best wishful thinking, because right now we know that masks and vaccines, that's our ticket back to normalcy. And we have more contagious variants. We have increases in the number of cases, we're coming off of a very high baseline level of infection. We really need both masks and vaccines to get us through this. And that's the message that I would want all of our leaders to carry forward.

COOPER: The CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said today that more guidance is coming sooner what people can do safely once they're fully vaccinated against coronavirus. Is Senator Paul is an indication there's clearly at the very least confusion whether it's disingenuous or not. You said the last round of guidance was a missed opportunity.


WEN: Right. And that's because I am really worried about vaccine hesitancy as the main barrier that's going to prevent us from reaching herd immunity. We're seeing restrictions being lifted in so many parts of the country, we're seeing travel at an all time high. People are already going back to pre-pandemic normal. And I think we have a pretty narrow window of opportunity to make clear what the benefits of vaccination are.

Now, we know that these vaccines are really effective at preventing severe disease. They also do substantially reduce your risk in each of these different types of settings, whether it's going to the restaurant or gym or seeing family and friends. Then I think what the CDC really needs to do at this point is to same for unvaccinated people. And here are the activities that are low risk, medium risk and high risk, probably a lot of things are going to be high risk for unvaccinated people. And then they do the same for vaccinated individuals. You're able to do so much more, nothing is going to be zero risk. But many of these activities that were formerly high risk are now low risk. I think that type of benefit of vaccination really needs to be illustrated to people. Because for a lot of people, they are so desperate to get the vaccine, but many others need to be shown what is in it for them.

COOPER: We've also learned the CDC is expected to update its physical distancing guidelines for schools from six feet to three feet on Friday. Do other measures need to be in place to make up for the lack of distance?

WEN: That's exactly right. I think we need to look at the distancing as a layer of mitigation. And that means that if you remove that layer, you need to put in other layers of protection. So for example, maybe the CDC can come out and say, you can go from six feet to three feet. But you also have to have twice weekly testing. You also have to have upgraded ventilation.

And I also think that we need to look at what is the role of vaccination as an at a certain point, can we say that teachers and staff all need to be vaccinated and maybe even parents? Because if you have enough community immunity for that school, because kids are not able to be vaccinated yet. Maybe that is also going to help to make school safest.

COOPER: Well, Dr. Fauci talked about kids today said, he believes that kids may need to be vaccinated before we can truly see herd immunity. How does that square with reopening schools for in person learning ahead of vaccines being approved for kids?

WEN: It's going to be hard. And I think this speaks to the broader problem of, you know, we've been saying that we need somewhere between 70 to 85 percent of the American population to have immunity either through recovery or through vaccination. But if kids are not able to be vaccinated, we're talking about 90 percent plus of adults who have to be vaccinated, and I just worried that we're not going to be able to reach that number.

And this is why I think we need to do everything we can to increase not just the education and outreach but actually getting vaccines to people. We need to make vaccination the easy choice by going to churches and workplaces and schools and really helping people to overcome the barrier of access.

COOPER: Dr. David Kessler is a top official Department of Health and Human Services, told members of the Senate today, quote, will have within 90 days in essence, quadrupled our vaccine supply said I believe that we're going to be shifting from a supply, issue to a demand, issue pretty soon. If we're looking at equity though, so many communities still lagging behind on getting vaccinated because of lack of access or hesitancy. How much does the, you know, suddenly having all the vaccine we need? How does it change the outlook for those people, if at all?

WEN: Yes. So, there are three barriers that are preventing us from reaching herd immunity. One is supply, two is distribution of the vaccine. And third is acceptance of the vaccine. I think it's great and credit to the Biden administration that we're going to have enough supply. Also, credit to the Biden team that we're ramping up distribution so quickly. But I think we need to address this third issue that of vaccine acceptance head on. And I think so often we're putting people into two categories, people who really want the vaccine and people who really don't be anti-vaxxers.

We're neglecting the huge number of people in the middle who need want to get the vaccine but may have some concerns, or who just don't have time to take time off from work or find childcare. We need to make vaccination easy for those individuals and also really clearly demonstrate what is the benefit of vaccination. Made clear the messaging that vaccines are the pathway back to pre-pandemic life.

COOPER: Yes, Dr. Leana Wen, as always, thank you for your time. Appreciate it.

Today, the FBI released several new videos from January 6 Capital riot. Investigators are hoping that you the public can help identify some of the rioters who they say responsible for some of the most violent attacks on law enforcement when 300 people have been charged so far in the Capitol insurrection. The investigation is far from over there.

Our Jessica Schneider joins me now with more. So, let's talk about these new images the release of them. It obviously comes amid attempts by some members of Congress to downplay what happened on January 6, or frankly, just rewrite history. Can you just talk about these videos and the timing of their release?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Anderson these are probably some of the most shocking videos we've actually seen released in the past two months. And it's because these videos they literally cast a spotlight on 10 of these most violent individuals who are really viciously attacking law enforcement. And they're coming out now because investigators have spent the past eight plus weeks poring over every angle of video from every source to really pinpoint the perpetrators here.


Now, they have faces, but they don't have the names and they're asking for the public's help. So take a look at some of this video. You know, we're seeing some of these graphic and brutal attacks play out on video. You can see this one man punching out a police officer. And then, this next video it shows the suspect grabbing a police officers helmet. It's coming up next right there. Yes, grabbing a police officers helmet and facemask and then banging his head into a door jamb.

Now that officer who was attacked there, we now know that officer was Daniel Hodges. He actually told us back in January, how he was savagely attacked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DANIEL HODGES, CAPITOL OFFICER: There's a guy ripping my mask off. And he was he was able to rip away my baton beat me with it. And, you know, he was practically foaming at the mouth. So, just these people were true believers in the worst way


COOPER: Is there any sense to have more arrests may be in the works?

SCHNEIDER: Yes. Officials have said there actually could be at least 100 more arrests Anderson really in the coming weeks and months. And they've told us all along, this is going to be a long process. Because you see it there, they have to identify the people, they have to then find them. And then they have to charge them. And we we've learned that there are still 250 unidentified people. These are people who are up on the FBI website.

So the FBI is urging the public to go to their website, look at these people, help them identify these people they haven't been able to pinpoint yet. And then of course, send the tips in and the websites tips.fba -- sorry, There's still a lot more work to do here, Anderson, a lot more arrests a lot more charges as well.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, their faces are clearly visible, which is extraordinary what they've done with the recognition of it.


COOPER: It's just a question of getting in front of enough people's eyes to see. Jessica Schneider, appreciate it. Thank you.

Democratic Congressman Jason Crow was in the House galleries. The attackers breached the Capitol Complex. I spoke with him just before airtime.


COOPER (on-camera): Congressman Crow, when you saw this new video released by the FBI showing insurrection as violently attacking Capitol Police, just on the heels of congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas, along with 11 other House Republicans trying to get the word insurrection stricken from a resolution honoring the police because in Gohmert's words, it was quote, language that was neither fair nor accurate. What goes through your mind?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Well, I mean, I just asked the question is anything sacred to some of these people? All right. We have police officers that were murdered, over 140 that were brutally beaten. And they want to play politics with this. It's just beyond the pale, really. And that's why I introduced the Capitol Remembrance Act, to make sure that we're not sweeping this under the rug, that we continue to draw attention to what happened.

COOPER (on-camera): You know, Louie Gohmert said, I just want to read people what he see -- the quote he said, I'm all for the metals, but the speaker's legislation contains language that was neither fair nor accurate. We now know there was no armed insurrection. Nobody had arms, so just trying to keep it honest, so that we only put truthful things in the bill.

First of all, the word armed it means to be armed with a weapon. There were tasers. There were people using hockey sticks to bludgeon police officers, flagpoles. I mean, it's even by Louie Gohmert standards, that is a ludicrous statement.

CROW: Yes, which is really saying something, isn't it? I mean, because he makes some pretty ludicrous statements. But yes, I mean, there were pipe bombs planted outside of the DNC and the RNC. They had built a gallows. And let's not forget, they had built a gallows outside of the Capitol. You know, I just -- when I think about this, I think about the fact that in the days after this insurrection, yes, those Capitol Police officers, many of whom have become friends of mine. I'm watching them limping around Capitol Hill, covered in bruises.

You know, I called one of them the next day, who I've gotten to know pretty well. And he was covered in bruises, limping around, but he showed up to work the next day. And people want to play politics with that. I'm just not going to let it happen.

COOPER (on-camera): You know, there's also Senator Ron Johnson, who said he never felt threatened by the insurrectionist because he quote, knew those people that love this country that truly respect law enforcement would never do anything to break a law unquote. Which is, I mean, again, it's Gohmert asked. He also said he would have felt differently if they were Black Lives Matters demonstrators. I mean, as someone who took cover in the House during the insurrection. How do you work alongside these people?

CROW: Well, there are some people that I just don't, right. I mean I just won't. I'm not going to normalize certain behavior. There are people that are kind of pretty beyond that at this point. I'm not going to normalize that by trying to work with them. That's a small handful, though. I mean, there's an awful lot of folks that my GOP colleagues that I think are that are trying to do the right thing, trying to move things forward. And I'm working with them. And that's where I'm focusing. I'm certainly not going to normalize the brave behavior or immoral behavior. When I see it. I think we have to make sure that we're not as a society, normalizing this.


But, you know, Senator Johnson's comment that he would have felt a lot safer, a lot less safe. If they were Black Lives Matter protesters, I think speaks volumes about what we're talking about. Right. I think we have to acknowledge that, you know, these insurrectionists, this mob, a lot of these folks were white supremists, they were white nationalists. We are still dealing with systematic racism in this country. That was a huge driver behind what happened. And his comment actually illustrates that point. You know, it illustrates the fact that there are people that just don't want to perpetuate this systematic racism, and he is part of that problem.

COOPER (on-camera): And the idea that people love law enforcement would never break the law, who are attacking police officers, injuring police officers and attacking the seat of democracy. It is -- I mean, it's, you know, it's shocking. And now you have Kevin McCarthy today telling CNN's Manu Raju that he did not try to change the outcome of the election, which is obviously not true. He back to Texas lawsuit to invalidate millions of votes. You know, it seems so understand people trying to rewrite history, you know, years from now, but immediately while, you know, the memories are still clear, and the wounds are still visible, to have these lawmakers trying to kind of rewrite what they did and what actually happened. It just seems a slap in the face to all those who continue to suffer.

CROW: Well, logical consistency is not the strong point of some of the -- some of my colleagues in here on Capitol Hill, those folks that, you know, want to want to just say something completely different than what actually happened. But, you know, my obligation, I have an obligation, as do a lot of people that actually stand up and call that out. Right. Because if we just let it pass and let it go, then that stuff starts to kind of seeking to seep into the public consciousness.

So, we have to make sure that we keep on stepping up and saying, no, that's not what happened. You are the facts, your, you know, our societal values and our morals. And we're going to continue to stand up for those.

COOPER (on-camera): Congressman Crow, appreciate your time. Thank you.

CROW: Thank you.


COOPER: Just ahead, breaking news about an unprecedented verbal exchange between top U.S. and Chinese diplomats who were meeting face to face.

(voice-over): Also, President Biden calling Vladimir Putin a killer. Now the Russian leader has escalated the war of words. New York Times columnist Thomas Freeman joins us to talk about both stories when we return.



COOPER: Just a short time ago, face to face efforts between top U.S. and Chinese diplomats descended into public recriminations with both sides trading accusations about their conduct in regard to their own citizens. Secretary of State Antony Blinken actually pulled cameras back into the room at one point to make sure his response was recorded. Well, more on that in just a moment.

First President Biden's war of words now with Vladimir Putin hours after the Russian leader escalated the war. The White House said today the President does not regret calling Putin a killer in this interview Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: He will pay a price. We had a long talk he and I -- we've -- I know relatively well. And I the conversation started off I said, I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred then be prepared.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: So you know Vladimir Putin, you think he's a killer?

BIDEN: I do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what price must he pay?

BIDEN: The price he's going to pay? Well, you'll see shortly.


COOPER: They were referring to the release of report by the director of national intelligence that said in part Russia interfered in the 2020 election on the side of the former president. An operation that targeted and was embraced by some of his allies. In response to the President's comments, Russia recalled its ambassador for quote unquote, consultations. Today Putin said this.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translation): What would I answer him? I would tell him be healthy. I wish him good health. I say this without irony. Without jokes.


COOPER: He says it also with the knowledge that he's been linked to several high profile poisonings, which he's denied, including one of Russian distant last year and another using the same military grade poison involving a former spy and his daughter. And that man was released from the hospital, Putin said quote, I wish him good health.

Perspective now from New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, author of among many other bestsellers, Thank You For Being Late.

So, Tom, when you hear Vladimir Putin's response and Biden, how do you interpret that?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, you know, Anderson, Vladimir Putin is like America's bad boyfriend from hell. He's this guy, he won't go away. The truth is we want to date other people. We want to focus on China right now. There was a time when Russia was very important to us. That time was called the Cold War, when Russia really threatened to take over the world with a communist ideology and nuclear weapons. That those days are long gone. We'd like to forget about Putin.

The fact is, you know, Russia makes nothing that Americans really want to buy, 52 percent of the exports of oil and gas, 2 percent are machinery and computers. So, you know, the only thing they sell that we want are basically Matryoshka dolls, caviar and vodka. We'd like to forget about him, but he doesn't want to forget about us, because him being in a fight with us is what gives him status. So he just won't go away. Biden would really like to focus on China but Putin does have a cyber capability they did break into some of America's both government agencies and a lot of companies, but you really want to ask him what are you going to do with all that? What are you going to do with all those credit card numbers flat going up giant Amazon by? I mean, what is it you are up to?

The fact is, think about Russia. Anderson. This is a country that gave us soccer of Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Rachmaninoff, and Vladimir Putin will be remembered for giving the world poisoned underwear. That's what he did to Navalny.

And so, it's kind of pathetic. We have to deal with him. We have to brush him back, but our real focus needs to be building up our muscles for the competition with China. That is the game. And do our best to ignore this bad boyfriend from hell.


COOPER: I mean, you know, Chinese intelligence operations against U.S. businesses and business and U.S. interest is massive in this country. I mean we do focus a lot on Russia, because they have been so involved in the last two elections, but that that's just part of the concern about China.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, there's no question. China uses espionage for industrial purposes. But you know Anderson, at the end of the day, all the things we're stealing in America are hiding in plain sight, or the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, a free and fair judiciary, as long as we can keep those at a high level, we will be an example for the world. And we will always invent the next new thing.

And so, that's really what I'm focused on right now, building up our internal strength, by building on our best institutions and values. Because if China's game is that they've always got to steal our next secret, that's not a very, you know, productive game. I think China actually has much greater capabilities than that. But, you know, I think we got to focus really now on building our own strength.

COOPER: There's this breaking news now that to President Biden's closest envoys and Secretary of State and the National Security Adviser are meeting with Chinese officials in Alaska tonight and tomorrow. CNN is reporting that the initial meetings at the summit have already boiled over into public criticism as an insult from both sides. What does it tell you about the nature of that relationship?

FRIEDMAN: Well, basically, you know, Anderson, between 1979 and 2019, there was a kind of four decade relationship between the U.S. and China. It was an era of I would call unconscious integration. We really became one country, two systems in many ways, not Hong Kong and China. And Chinese could work and operate here, Americans could work and operate there, that 40-year era is over. We're now trying to define what will be the new era. Now during that 40 year eras, China sold us shallow goods, you know, shirts we worn, our back shoes we wore on our feet, solar panels, we put on our roofs, we sold them deep goods, computer software, things like that. Things that went deep into their system. What's new now Anderson is that China can sell us and make deep goods, not only us, but our allies. They can make 5G, they can make computers and software that go into our systems. Well, when they just sold the shallow goods. We didn't care the word that we didn't care whether China was authoritarian, libertarian or vegetarian. Who cared. We're just buying their shallow goods. But when they want to sell us deep goods, the fact that we have no trust between us that we have no shared values really matters. And we're now trying to sort out with them, what is going to be the new basis of the relationship.

COOPER: Well, I mean, there's also the question of, you know, Chinese expansionist interests in throughout Asia. I mean, obviously, we've seen what's happening in Hong Kong, Taiwan, you know, China in Africa, it seems like China has a longer game plan than the U.S., you know, which certainly seems to kind of tack left and right, but not necessarily have a 30-year strategic plan.

FRIEDMAN: Well, that's the problem right now. I mean, we are not, you know, I probably said this to you before, you know, I think China's the worst governing system in the world.

COOPER: The worst.

FRIEDMAN: They're getting 90 percent out of about a bad system. We have the best governing system, we're getting about 10 percent out of our system, you know, and we've got it -- we've got to change that. We can't be wasting our time, you know, debating about a woman who thinks Jewish run space laser start for its buyers. China's not doing that. But we got to focus on building our strength. Because Anderson, good ideas, human rights, democracy, the rule of law, an independent judiciary, those values dominated the world for the 50 years after World War II, because we were strong. We wanted the three big wars of the 20th century, World War I, World War II and the Cold War. Ideas follow power. If we are not powerful, our ideas will not be powerful in the world. China's was.

And that's why I keep coming back to America, what we do if we are serious about planning and building our strength, investing in research, infrastructure, and yes, immigration to attract the world's high IQ risk takers, we're going to be fine. And if we don't, then we can insult China all we want, but we will be not leading the way and they will not be paying attention to us.

COOPER: And that's and we only have about 30 seconds left, but that's what it -- that's part of building up America you're saying embracing the risk takers embracing people from all over.

FRIEDMAN: We got rich as a country Anderson, because president, all our great presidents built up our government funded research to inspire new companies. They built up our infrastructure they attracted the world's most energetic and talented people. They invested in the right rules to incentivize risk taking and prevent recklessness, those and invested in education, we have got to focus on that. And the name calling you between them and China, us and China or us and Russia. It's not going to matter if we are not strong. No one will take us seriously.


COOPER: Tom Friedman, as always, thanks very much. Appreciate it.


COOPER: News continues, let's hand over with Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME." Chris.