ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
House Expected To Pass The $1.9 Trillion COVID Bill Wednesday; First Royal Reaction To Prince Harry And Meghan Explosive Interview; Record Number Of Migrant Children Held In Border Patrol Custody As Cases Climb Overnight; FBI Releases New Videos Of Suspect Placing Pipe Bombs Outside RNC, DNC Headquarters; Former President Requests Mail-In Ballot For FL Race Despite Railing Against Them Tirelessly During 2020 Campaign. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 9, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And President Ford's golden retriever, Liberty, had an issue with the carpets, if you know what I'm insinuating here, she preferred them to the yard, but she remained with the family there until her death.
As Harry Truman reportedly said, if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. By the way, he wasn't a dog fan at all.
Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, in less than 24 hours, House Democrats and only House Democrats are likely to pass the nearly $2 trillion COVID Relief Bill which contains money to battle the virus, but also for low-income Americans still struggling to earn a paycheck and to pay for healthcare.
Shortly after it is passed, the President will not only sign it, he'll begin a sales pitch with a primetime speech before the nation this Thursday night.
A new poll released today suggests Americans even beyond those who voted for the President may be receptive to his pitch. Pew Research found that 70 percent favored the bill backed by President Biden, which again is unlikely to draw a single Republican vote in either Chamber of Congress.
What's striking about that fact is that again, according to Pew, about 41 percent of Republican voters say they support the bill. A bill Republican leaders say they'll not vote for in part because they feel left out of the process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): And it didn't have to be this way. We could have had a bill that was, you know, a fraction of the cost of this one that could have gotten bipartisan approval and support, but the Speaker decided to go in another direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, there certainly can be legitimate reasons not to like this current relief bill, just like there were legitimate reasons Republicans and Democrats didn't like the last relief bill, which passed in December and cost $900 billion.
Feeling left out of the process was listed as a reason then, too, few leaders making decisions without significant input from members and the whole thing feeling rushed, but it passed.
By wide margins it passed because the whole outweighed the individual parts that people didn't like. Three hundred and fifty-nine votes in the Democratic-controlled House, 92 votes in the Republican Senate. It was largely bipartisan, same with the first major COVID relief package that passed nearly a year ago, the one that cost $2 trillion. Ninety- six votes in the then Republican controlled Senate, zero against, and yet this time, no Republican votes likely in either House.
So what changed in a year? In addition to hundreds of thousands of lost lives and millions of lost jobs, you can probably figure it out.
Chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins joins us now with breaking details on how the administration is looking to roll out the relief package.
So Kaitlan, how is the President preparing to sell this relief package to the American people in the coming days? And how much is that complicated by the complete lack of Republican support?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think in addition to wanting to take a victory lap to tout his first major legislative achievement, a lot of the driving force behind this and what you're going to see by him getting on Air Force One, going around the country over the next few weeks to really pitch this plan is the fact that no Republicans in Washington voted for it.
Because this is something the White House has been banking on, saying it may not be bipartisan here in the nation's capital, but it is throughout the nation, saying that there are Republican voters, even Trump voters out there that they believe wanted to see this bill get passed, wanted to get stimulus checks, have all of the other aspects of it go into effect.
And so that's what President Biden is going to be saying, by taking that message on the road, and really trying to ensure that this remains a popular plan because you are right, we do not expect a single Republican to vote in favor of this bill, even there are all the iterations that we've seen of it.
And so the White House is counting on saying, well, maybe these Republicans didn't vote for it, but a lot of their constituents wanted them to.
COOPER: You mentioned the President's national address, which is Thursday. Do we know more about what he is expected to say? COLLINS: So this is going to be his first major primetime speech.
We're told it's really going to be forward-looking because the White House seems to register that there is a sense of weariness among the restrictions that you're seeing.
And this comes, of course, after the C.D.C. announces new guidelines for what they believe fully vaccinated people should be able to do. There has been some pushback on the administration and the C.D.C., I should say, I guess, over the fact that it didn't change the travel guidance.
They did not say whether or not fully vaccinated people can travel.
So when President Biden does speak to the nation on Thursday night, that's going to be something that's top of mind for voters. And the White House says he really wants to talk about how getting this plan passed is going to be able to be directly tied to his plan for getting life back to normal really.
COOPER: On the stimulus checks, any sense of when Americans can actually expect to get them?
COLLINS: So this is a big question, because if you remember in the last round, they went out from the I.R.S. pretty quickly. I believe is with within days of the President actually signing that bill.
And so right now, the White House is not offering that specific of a timeline. They're just saying that they should start going out this month. Of course, we're only at the beginning of March.
And so we've pressed them on a more specific timeline today. We did not get one. But we should note one other thing, President Biden may be signing this bill in the coming days, but his signature is not going to be on those stimulus checks.
The Press Secretary told me today it's not a priority for him. He wants to get them out quicker. And of course, that stands in pretty stark contrast to former President Trump who demanded and insisted that his name actually be on those checks that were going out even though we should know, a lot of it was direct deposit to people, but he wanted to make sure he got credit for those checks, and that does not seem to be the case with Biden because he is not making sure that his name is on them.
COOPER: Interesting. Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thanks.
Just a few moments ago, I spoke with one of the top Democrats who will help guide the bill to President Biden's desk, Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer.
COOPER: Leader Schumer, what's your message to millions of Americans tonight who are out of work struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic? I mean, the expectations for this relief bill are extraordinarily high.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Well, help is on the way for so many Americans, the vast overwhelming majority of Americans who need help.
There will be money in people's pockets, checks of $1,400.00 will go to middle class and working families. The vast majority of Americans will receive those. There will be vaccines in people's arms far more quickly than people had anticipated. The pace will be picking up.
There will be money to keep schools open and safely open. So all the discombobulation in terms of kids learning and parents having to deal with kids who are at home will be gone.
And there will be the kind of help to feed people who have lost their jobs and need food, to keep people in their homes, to pay the rent.
This is the broadest, most comprehensive bill to help middle class and working people, poor people that's come along in decades.
It is broad, it is comprehensive, and it will be very effective.
COOPER: I spoke to Senator Bernie Sanders last night and he said even though the bill doesn't include a Federal minimum wage hike, it is in his view, quote, "the most significant legislation for working people that's been passed in decades." It sounds like you agree with that.
SCHUMER: I agree. Totally agree. We worked very closely on this bill, and Bernie was very, very helpful in getting this bill passed and done.
COOPER: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell attacked the Relief Bill on the chamber floor today. He has called it very liberal and purely partisan. He accused you of putting, quote, "lockstep party unity ahead of substance" and had a bipartisan compromise.
SCHUMER: Now, well, the biggest bill McConnell put on the floor was a bill of about the same size, $1.7 trillion. It benefited the top one percent. It was tax cuts for the very wealthy, and for big corporations.
Our bill helps people in the middle class and who are poor, people whose -- it will end -- cut in half child poverty. Poor kids who don't have much of a chance and then grow up not having to have good, full, happy, productive lives are going to get a much better break here.
Mitch McConnell is somebody who instead of just opposing everything, and trying to thwart Biden and be so political, he ought to be joining us and helping the American people.
Close to half of all Republican voters like this bill. This is not a partisan bill, but McConnell is being highly partisan and hurting America.
COOPER: Some Senate Republicans did meet with President Biden early on, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski or Mitt Romney -- could more have been done to get some of them on board? SCHUMER: No, you know, we made a big mistake in 2009 and 2010. Susan
Collins was part of that mistake.
We cut back on the stimulus dramatically and we stayed in recession for five years. What was offered by the Republicans was so far away from what's needed, so far away from what Biden proposed that he thought that they were not being serious in wanting to really negotiate.
COOPER: You got the bill across the finish line in the Senate, it really came down to an 11th hour agreement with conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. Given the narrow majority, does Manchin have de facto veto power over future legislation?
SCHUMER: Well, look, originally, Joe Manchin wanted to do an amendment with Portman -- I said -- Senator Portman. I said that's going to kill the bill, Joe. That is going to kill the bill. He thought about it for several hours and realized that and then said, okay, let's come to a compromise, and we did.
We didn't change things very much. We changed it a little in his direction, I would have preferred not to do it. But this bill, even with that change is so overwhelmingly strong in helping poor and working people in America that I think it's getting huge plaudits from the American people.
When people start getting their checks, when they start getting the vaccines, when school starts opening, when kids can get out of poverty. That's huge. That's huge, Anderson.
COOPER: If it is that popular, given that or assuming that, despite that there's still this unified Republican opposition to it. Are you hopeful Republicans will join Democrats on anything or Democrats will join Republicans on anything in the near future?
SCHUMER: Well, I always say we want to work with Republicans where we can, but we have to get big bold change done and that is our number one priority.
You know, I have a hope, I'm always an optimist, you know, that Anderson, that now that Republicans have seen we can do it without them that they'll realize they ought to try to work with us, but we're not going to make the mistake of 2008 and 2009 and do such a small measly proposal that it won't get us out of the mess that we are in right now.
SCHUMER: The mess health-wise, the mess economically, and getting the economy going to the way it was 20 to 30 years ago, when people's wages went up regularly, when unemployment went down regularly.
We've had a rather placid economy and I wouldn't even say placid, we've had a weak limp economy over the last 10 years. We got to do a lot better than that, to help the American people, give them hope, the American optimism that is so important because leaving people -- and then they turn to a demagogue, a bigot like Donald Trump.
We have to stop that. There's a moral obligation for us to stop that. And the way to do it is show positive change that helps people so there's a positive path and they don't turn to demagogues.
COOPER: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, appreciate your time. Thank you.
SCHUMER: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Still to come tonight, more on the fight against COVID. This time the criticism over those new C.D.C. guidelines for fully vaccinated people, specifically the lack of new guidance on travel.
C.D.C. now saying it may give more information there. Our medical experts are going to discuss that, also whether we should feel safe that case numbers are declining once again.
And later Queen Elizabeth II responds to that bombshell interview with her grandson, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle.
COOPER: There's more breaking news. The C.D.C. now says it may update travel guidance for those who have been fully vaccinated, but must first wait for more vaccinations and data.
This comes after criticism that the agency didn't update travel guidelines when it released its highly anticipated new guidelines, Monday, for those who have had their final or only shot.
Writing in "The Washington Post," CNN's medical analyst, Dr. Leana Wen said she found the guidelines too timid and too limited, quote, "Take flying on an airplane the risk of infection during air travel is already very low and all passengers are masked. Surely that risk is even lower for vaccinated people. Why can't the C.D.C. say that vaccinated people can travel without having a quarantine or get tested?"
Let's get perspective now from our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, someone who continues to express grave concerns about COVID variants.
Sanjay, so the C.D.C. Director Rochelle Walensky, she has warned that every time there's a travel surge, there's a COVID surge. That was before you know, 10 percent of the population was fully vaccinated. Do you agree with Dr. Wen, are the C.D.C. guidelines too cautious?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I do agree with Dr. Wen. I mean, I think they are cautious, but I think one thing to keep in mind here is I think we need to sort of disentangle this issue about flying from vaccinations.
I mean, I think what the C.D.C. is saying is that it's still not a good time to recommend non-essential travel because of the way that cases are, whether you're vaccinated or you're not vaccinated, I don't think that they think that really makes a difference.
It is probably true what Dr. Wen has said that if you're vaccinated, you're not likely to obviously get sick. Could you possibly still pass on the virus to somebody else? Perhaps. It's a risk, albeit a small one.
But I think the larger message, and I talked to Andy Slavitt about this that is that they just, you know, we're still in the middle of this, and they don't think people should be doing non-essential travel at this point. That's the main message they're trying to get across.
COOPER: Professor Osterholm, I know you think we're on the brink of another surge caused by the U.K. variant. Can you just explain your thoughts on that, and whether you believe the new guidelines are, you know, cautious enough?
MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, DIRECTOR FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, the variant that we're talking about is B.1.1.7., the variant that originated in the U.K., and this is one that is actually much more infectious, 40 to 60 percent more infectious, and it also is one that is able to cause more severe illness.
What we've seen in the United States over the course of the last five weeks is an increasing proportion of the viruses that we see in patients actually are coming from the B.1.1.7. source. And what we're concerned about is if this follows as it would in Europe, where once it got to be about 50 percent or more of the viruses were B1.1.7., there was a major surge in cases.
I can tell you, we have an outbreak right here in Minnesota right now that has been developing over the last three weeks of B1.1.7. and it is spreading rapidly and very effectively in schools. And now then on to families, and it is now in multiple counties right here. This just literally happened overnight.
So I think that this is what we're going to see more of in the course of the next six to 12 weeks, and vaccine is a great answer to it. But we don't have nearly enough fast enough to dramatically impact on it.
COOPER: And Professor Osterholm, I understand you actually are not fully vaccinated, I understand you received your first dose of the vaccine January 23. You've delayed your second dose by choice until later this spring. Why do you think it's safe -- this is safe to do when the Pfizer and obviously Moderna trials were based on two doses within three and four weeks?
OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, Anderson, this has become an unfortunate situation where you know, we're basically doing public policy by soundbites and media interviews. And what we've asked the U.S. government to do is go carefully and examine the data that supports that you can actually delay a second dose weeks and not have any material impact on the protection.
At the same time, you could stretch out the number of doses before this B.1.1.7 surge occurs.
I mean, just this past week, the Canadian government after a very careful review, and an exhaustive review, agreed and said that you could actually postpone your doses potentially up to four months.
And this flies, I know in the face of what is the conventional wisdom from our government. But there are many, many experts that actually believe that you will have the same level of protection for that period of time of just weeks.
We're not talking about deferring it for months, and at the same time, we could really make a big difference. We put out a report that suggested that you can save upwards of over 40,000 lives if we could get that many more 65 year olds and older vaccinated before this particular surge really hits us hard.
COOPER: So is that the reason you're delaying because you feel just as a statement that the vaccine that would have -- the second vaccine that would have gone to you could go to somebody else.
OSTERHOLM: That's exactly it. I feel confident in the vaccine I have. I do look forward to getting a second dose, but right now, there may be somebody's grandfather or grandmother, because I didn't get my second dose that can get their first dose.
As of tonight, we still have more than 20 million Americans, 65 years of age and older that have not had any vaccine at all. And that's what we need to really concentrate on.
This is the group, where 80 percent of all the deaths have occurred with serious illnesses. Now, we've done a lot to vaccinate long-term care facilities. I think that's wonderful. But we still have a lot of very vulnerable people that I think as this B.1.1.7. surge occurs, we're going to wish that we had many more of them vaccinated.
COOPER: Sanjay, what do you think about that?
GUPTA: Well, you know, it's a tough call, I mean, and Dr. Osterholm and I have talked about this a fair amount.
I mean, you know, the issue, I think a little bit is just how -- what's the veracity of the science in this intermediate period for Michael here in terms of his protection, if he were to get sick at this point, having received the one vaccine, what would that do to the issue of vaccine hesitancy in this country around the world? Will people then lose a little bit of faith and in their vaccines?
On the other hand, we're in the middle of an emergency. So you know, this has been a theme throughout really, you know, the science is important. This is the data that we have. As Dr. Osterholm points out, we are getting more data from Canada,
also Israel, about the efficacy of single doses, but it's not enough yet for the C.D.C. to recommend that.
They did widen their timeframe, as you know, to six weeks. You can wait up to six weeks instead of, you know, the three or four weeks, but here we are. So how do you balance the emergency versus the pragmatism?
COOPER: Dr. Osterholm, you know, I talked to Chris Murray last night about the Brazil variant or the variant that's in Brazil, which is causing huge issues, especially in the north of Brazil around Manaus and such. What is to stop that from coming to the United States? Because it because I think it was Dr. Murray who was saying, if that does happen, if it gets widespread, then kind of all bets are off?
OSTERHOLM: Well, I think there's two issues here. Number one, is, in fact, what is the immediate urgent issue right now for us, and it is B.1.1.7. The P.1 variant is already here. We don't have any evidence of it spreading widely. It surely is not competing well against the current concern that we have with the U.K. variant.
And the other variant that we're also looking at, of course, is the one from South Africa, the B.184.108.40.206., and I think at this point, that combination surely is a critical issue.
But we've got people who are going to die from this other one, the U.K. variant that we really have to address so I too, am concerned about that. But that's not the first and immediate issue.
COOPER: Yes, Sanjay, Michael Osterholm, always, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, Queen Elizabeth breaking her silence over Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's stunning interview where they accuse the Royal Family of racism and stopping their security protection, the statement from Buckingham Palace when we continue.
COOPER: Queen Elizabeth is finally breaking her silence on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's exclusive interview.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made headlines for their claims of racism within the Royal Family. Also, Meghan Markle said the isolation and despair she felt as a new member of the family was so deep while pregnant with their first child, she contemplated suicide.
CNN's Max Foster joins us now with Royal reaction. So what did the palace say?
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Anderson, actually, you know, we normally get a statement from Buckingham Palace, but this, at the top says a statement issued by Buckingham Palace on behalf of Her Majesty, the Queen, who's here at Windsor Castle.
The message being, this message is from the top. Everyone listen, this is important. So she goes on to say: "The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised particularly that of race are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they're taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately. Harry and Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of the family."
I think what we can read into that is that the Royal Family simply don't recognize some of the things that Harry and Meghan told Oprah, but they are keen to rebuild, look at the issue, particularly of race, investigate that. There will be a probe into that, but also emphasizing they're still part of the family and things can get better.
COOPER: Have Meghan Markle or Prince Harry reacted to the Palace statement?
FOSTER: So I contacted the Office of the Sussexes and they did not respond. I think if you look at the statement from The Queen, she talks about addressing these issues privately. So that was an appeal, I think, to the Sussexes not to go back on TV, not to do more in public, but to try to resolve this directly between the family members.
And by them not responding, I think, is in respect of that. So we'll see how long this truce lasts. But so far, it seems pretty positive.
COOPER: Prince Charles was seen in front of cameras today, I assume he didn't say anything, did he?
FOSTER: No, let's have a look at the video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Sir, can I ask what did you think of the interview?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: They weren't answering. He was actually on diarize visits to a vaccination center. I think really what that was about was showing that businesses carrying on as usual, keep calm and carry on. That's the motto of the family, of course.
And I think they were showing that the monarchy continues whatever all of these family issues are behind the scenes or they're meant to be behind the scenes, they weren't behind the scenes. They're desperately trying to pull them back behind Palace walls.
So I think -- but monarchy is intact today, but it does depend on the Sussexes not doing another interview effectively.
COOPER: Yes. Max Foster appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Yes. Max Foster, appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Want to talk to Bonnie Greer again. We talked to her last night. She -- I had the pleasure of working with her covering Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding, and the rest of the CNN team. She writes about the royal family and other topics for The New European newspapers. She's an American born author, playwright living in the UK.
Bonnie, it's great to see you again. So, I'm wondering --
BONNIE GREER, COLUMNIST, THE NEW EUROPEAN: It's good to see you again.
COOPER: -- what you made of the palace response, because you said something I think was -- you said last night and I don't want to misquote you said something that, you know, we speak the same language, but we don't speak the same language often.
GREER: Absolutely. First of all, let me just say Max's thesis is brilliant, and the linkages are there. But, let's not forget something very important. I'm going to put my answer to your question in this. Is that Diana was the 20th century, Meghan is the 21st.
Diana was more English than the royal family. She knew exactly where she was, she was very, very young. And that's even what's more extraordinary bondage is incredibly young. But she was an English girl. And Meghan, it was -- is an older woman. And she's foreign born and she's a woman of color. So, we're on a different, different terrain.
And so, while we make these linkages, let's not forget what Meghan and Harry are telling us, that they represent a new world. And the battle is with that new world of the old world. And Diana was part of the old world, she wanted to make it a different world. But Meghan and Archie in particular, are the new world. And we mustn't forget that, that's very important.
And of course, the royal family. And Harry again, we need to listen to Harry very closely. I hear it said to us, that they're not their own people. And a lot of what's going on over here is that people are sort of battling up on either side, around that family, which I've said you before, there's a deep, deep unconscious connection in this culture, with that family. But the real battle is with this country, this country, like our country is becoming a minority, majority country. Harry and Meghan live in that country. And we have to decide which way we're going to be. And that's the battle.
COOPER: Well, it also was such an opportunity for the royal family to be in the 21st century and to, you know, help Britain decide what sort of a country and what the future is, is going to look like. And given the vastness, you know, the Commonwealth countries that, you know, makeup are aligned with the United Kingdom, it just such a lost opportunity to I mean, it just -- they just messed it up. GREER: Well, you know, again, let's listen to Harry on this, Harry said to us, that his family is technically in thrall to the tabloids. And, and people who and we talk about tabloids here. They're not the same as they are in the United States. Tonight, no paper in the United States, hold thrall over the whole of the United States as the way the tabloids do in this country.
So, a lot of what maybe the royal family wanted to do or can do. They're very much connected, not only to the tabloids, but to the consciousness of the people, the people in this country and the royal family go hand in hand. And when they actually began to face that, we began to sort through this because it's a dual situation. It's not just a single situation.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, the notion that Harry was sort of raising of the royal family, in a sense being scared of both the tabloids and also just, you know, they only exist because of the favor of the public. And if that changes, then there's not, you know, they can, things can happen.
GREER: Anderson, you nailed it. You remember when we looked out from the bubble, we were in a little tower, and we looked down on the pathway coming out of Windsor Castle, when Harry and Meghan were in the carriage coming out after Alison George, those people standing there, some of them were there for days. They weren't just there as a celebrity thing.
This was a ritual. This was an act of devotion. And these people are also in charge of the royal family. And I think what needs to happen in this country is that people as they are sort of complaining about that family and complaining about the press also need to see their part in keeping status quo the way it is. And like I said, so unconscious, that people actually they can't see it but they need to see it is very important.
And Meghan, actually by our very presence by her person, constantly made them look at it and they didn't like it.
COOPER: Well, I mean, I remember I was a correspondent or, you know, young correspondent for ABC News, and attended, you know, the funeral, I was out in the crowds doing a story for ABC at the time --
GREER: That was (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: -- and there was such anger against, you know, the media and reporters. And yet, there is the hypocrisy of its people who are angry at, you know, media, buying those tabloids and enabling those tabloids and consuming what they are doing.
GREER: But, you know, is this what I was trying to say, it's not a hypocrisy, it's an unconsciousness. And when you're foreigner, you can see it very clearly. I was there. I was part of, you know, involved with being outside with a Catherine and Williams marriage. And I'm telling you, there were people have been there for days, and they would actually take your head off if you got in front of them.
So, it's that sort of thing that we don't understand in America, but it's deep here and Meghan just brought it in relief. And that's what should people up.
COOPER: Yes. Bonnie Greer. Appreciate it as always. Thank you.
GREER: Thank you. Thank you.
COOPER (voice-over): Up next, is the White House refuses to call the growing migrant crowd at the southern border crisis. There are new figures tonight and the number of unaccompanied migrant children now being held by U.S. border control. The breaking news when we continue.
COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. New data reviewed by CNN shows a record 3,400 unaccompanied migrant children are now in custody Customs and Border Protection custody tonight along the southern border. Arrivals fueled by the hope that they can gain entry into the United States under new administration.
According to a customs and border official, more than 440 unaccompanied children were arrested today, and around 2,800 are awaiting placement in shelters suitable for minors, but there are just under 500 beds available to accommodate them. This is White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to call the situation crisis and refused to confirm the actual numbers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We've been very clear that there is an increase, that there are more children coming across the border than we have facilities for at this point in time. Those numbers are tracked by the Department of Homeland Security. So I'm certainly I'm just suggesting that you talk to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Psaki also says a team of senior officials who toured facilities on the border of the weekend still have not briefed President Biden on the situation.
CNN's Rosa Flores joins me now from Donna, Texas, a place where the task force visited. So what are you seeing at the facility where you are?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, I've requested a tour of this facility and it hasn't been granted yet. But what I can tell you is that this is a temporary facility that's designed to increase processing capacity, which of course is key during a surge.
Now CNN has been able to review that data that Jen Psaki was talking about and according to this data, Border Patrol Agents in the past month have encountered or arrested more than 100,000 migrants. Now that is reminiscent of other surges back in 2019, and also 2016.
Now, it's important to note that one official has said that they're encountering about four to 5,000 migrants daily. Now one of the biggest concerns, of course, are the unaccompanied minors, these children that are surging to the border that end up being held in Customs and Border Protection facilities like the one that you see behind me that are not shelters, they are not designed to house children. That is a huge concern, because there's this stall in the processing of those children. Just last week, Customs and Border Protection were holding 1,300 children today, that number grew to 3,400.
Now by law in the United States, children are not supposed to be held for more than 72 hours. However, nearly 1,500 of those 3,400 children are being held right now have already surpassed that. Now according to Customs and Border Protection officials, because of the surge, what they're doing to manage it as they're starting to move migrants not just children to other areas to get processed. Anderson.
COOPER: So, I mean, once the kids come across the border, they're supposed to be processed and transferred out to shelters. That's not happening, what just because there's not enough beds and shelters?
FLORES: You know, it's unclear why that is not happening, especially after the White House suggested today that they might have seen this surge coming because they of course separated themselves from the Trump era policies when it comes to immigration. So it begs the question, why would they not prepare for that?
Here in the state of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, calling this a crisis, attacking the Biden administration for quote, downplaying the crisis. And to be honest with you, Abbott has a point, especially because publicly the Biden administration has been calling this quote, a challenge. But internally, we know from a DHS source that DHS Secretary Alejandro Majorca sent out an e-mail yesterday referring to this as a quote, surge, and also saying that the numbers are quote, overwhelming.
And Anderson of course, that's the reason why we're here in the Rio Grande Valley. My team and I actually just drove in, because we want to see what these facilities look like. We're going to be asking for access, we're going to be asking for transparency.
COOPER: Rosa Flores --
COOPER: -- thanks very much. Appreciate it.
Perspective now from CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash who also is the anchor of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION".
So, Dana not only will Jen Psaki not call this a crisis, the White House isn't letting cameras into the detention facilities. What does that tell you? DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That it's an incredibly complicated issue that Democrats had every right to criticize the Trump administration for, but now it is they're on their watch, and it is their issue and whether it is called formally a crisis from the White House podium or not.
You just heard Rosa's report we have read the incredible reporting from our colleague, Priscilla Alvarez, who got these figures, 3,400 children, unaccompanied children in the United States almost half of whom are not being moved in, which is required by U.S. law. It's hard to see that anything other than a crisis. Anderson.
And, look, they've been in office for, you know, 45 days or so. And at some point, you know, the grace that a lot of people are giving the Biden administration is going to wear out. And this is something that they clearly understand internally is a growing problem, whether they call it a crisis publicly or not.
COOPER: And does it make sense that as of this afternoon, the White House said the President still hadn't been briefed on the border situation?
BASH: That's right. There's no formal briefing yet. My understanding is that the President has had conversations informally with some of the advisors that did go down and to where Rosa is, to check out what is going on there, and that he will get a more formal report.
But, you know, listen, this, as I said, this is not easy. We know this, not just from the fact that we saw what happened over the past four years, and the Biden administration is trying to unwind a lot of the things that he criticized and many Democrats criticized him for.
But we also know that when President Obama was in office, and Joe Biden was vice president, they have a lot of trouble as well, because this is so complicated. You add on top of that, the fact that there is a pandemic, so they're trying to be COVID careful in these areas where they're trying to keep the migrants. Never mind, these unaccompanied children, you know, there aren't a lot of easy answers. But again, this is the job that they signed up for.
COOPER: Yes. Dana Bash. Appreciate it. Thank you very much.
(voice-over): I'm going to show you more of this new video released by the FBI suspect planting bombs on the eve of the Capitol Riot. Investigators are asking for the public's help identifying the suspect. The latest clues they have in a moment.
COOPER: There's breaking news now on the January attack on the US Capitol, the FBI is released new security video of a suspect placing pipe bombs near the Capitol the night before the riot. The bombs were placed outside both Republican and Democratic National Committee headquarters. Investigators are hoping the public can help them identify the suspect.
CNN's Evan Perez joins us now with more. So, explain to us what this new video shows exactly.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, these are a series of video clips, surveillance video clips, clips with the FBI says shows this person who is believed to be behind the placing of these two bombs outside the DNC and the RNC, which are right near the U.S. Capitol in the south side of the U.S. Capitol.
It appears to show someone in a hooded sweatshirt wearing a mask going along, you could see this person stopping outside of some of the houses, they're near one of the DNC headquarters. You can see them stop at one point appear to wipe their glasses or appears to be taking some time there.
Someone is walking their dog nearby, perhaps that person saw something and then you see them walking through an alley, they end up sitting in front of a park bench or on a park bench near what appears to be the RNC. Again, these are images showing the time around when these devices were placed.
According to the FBI 7:30 -- between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. on the night before the mob attacks the U.S. Capitol. And so, the FBI is again calling attention to a couple things, the Nike shoes that this person was wearing, as well as this backpack that they're carrying, the everything they want the public to look at the mannerisms, the way this person's walking, anything that could indicate that they're -- you helped them at least try to identify who was behind this, it gives you an impression, Anderson, that they're really kind of out of clues right now.
COOPER: And what's known about the devices themselves?
PEREZ: Well, we know according to the FBI and you've seen the image there, there is a image of a kitchen timer. It's made with black powder, homemade black powder, according to the FBI. And this kitchen timer is interesting Anderson, because it's a simple one-hour device.
And again, if these devices were placed between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., on the night before the attack on the U.S. Capitol is sort of undermines a thesis or a theory that investigators have told us they have which is that these devices were meant as a diversionary tactic, perhaps to draw the police away from the Capitol when the mob was beginning to form in front of the Capitol.
So again, this is the fact that these devices were placed on the night before. And if you look at that simple device, that timing device, it kind of tells you that that this -- it couldn't be the case that necessarily this was to divert attention on the day of the attack, this would have gone off the night before. And then now, of course, that also raises the question. You know, imagine Anderson if these had gone off the night before, I think the security picture at the Capitol would have been far different from what we saw. COOPER: And did they just failed to go off? Or were they just -- where they found before they went off?
PEREZ: Well, they clearly did not go off when they were supposed to.
PEREZ: And this is a one-hour timing device. And so, the question is the two bombs were identical. So, whoever made this was using a recipe and they made the device identically. The devices identically. We don't know of any fingerprints that have been found on these devices. It appears because they were blown up that there were none. The other thing Anderson is that, you know, the fact that this was not a sophisticated, these are crude bomb, but it could have hurt people.
So again, it shows that whoever did this made some mistakes and they made the same mistake on both devices.
COOPER: Evan Perez, appreciate it. Thanks.
Some late breaking news with possible threats of violence remaining at the Capitol defense. Secretary Lloyd Austin tonight approved a request by the Capitol Hill police to keep nearly 2,300 National Guard troops on duty through most of May. Currently they're about 5,100 National Guard members on duty. So this represents a nearly 50% reduction in the overall force.
Up next, as we all remember, the former president relentlessly against mail-in ballots in the 2020 campaign, he did make an exception of course for Florida and next give you an update on his latest request.
COOPER: According to Florida election records, the former president requested a mail-in ballot he be sent to Mar-a-Lago for local elections scheduled for today. As we all remember, he railed time and time against the use of mail-in ballots pretty much all during the 2020 presidential race, always make an exception for Florida, which he made his permanent residence in 2019. This past July he tweeted that with universal mail-in voting the 2020 election be quote, the most inaccurate and fraudulent in history a lie he insisted throughout the course of the campaign.
Photos show that he's not in Florida today and is visiting New York City which is, you know, he used to call home.
Reminder, don't miss "Full Circle" our digital news show that gives a chance to dig in some important topics, have in-depth conversations. You can catch it streaming live at 6:00 p.m. eastern at cnn.com/fullcircle or watch it there on the CNN app at anytime On Demand.
The news continues right now. Want to head over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you Coop. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to "Primetime".
Question, why is the most sweeping legislation in decades to help lift them Americans out of poverty just hours away from passing, but without any support from the right side of the aisle?