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Erin Burnett Outfront

Asian Americans, Already On Edge Amid Escalating Violence, Jolted By Spa Shooting That Left Six Asian Women Dead; Interview With State Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-GA); GOP Rep. Gohmert Votes Against Bill To Honor January 6 Police Officers Because It Labels Attack An Insurrection; Interview With Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Cuomo Responds To Biden Saying He Should Resign And Could Face Prosecution If Allegations Are True; Russia Recalls Its Ambassador After Biden Calls Putin "A Killer". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 17, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: She describes her dad as generous and loving. The pillar of their family who took care of everyone, including relatives in India. May they rest in peace and may their memories be a blessing.

Thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, charged. The suspect in the killing of eight people in the Atlanta area charged with murder. Investigators still searching for a motive as fear is growing among Asian-Americans across this country.

And rewriting history. A Republican Congressman wants to change a bill honoring Capitol Police, saying the riot wasn't an armed insurrection.

Plus, President Biden calls Putin a killer. Tonight, Russia pulls its ambassador to the United States. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, a murder charge. A 21-year-old man charged with murdering eight people in the Atlanta area last night at three local spas. Police say he confessed to the shootings and now we are hearing tonight for the first time the terrifying 911 call made by one woman inside one of those spas.



DISPATCHER: Do you have a description of him, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to hide right now, this way, please.

DISPATCHER: Is it a male or female?



BURNETT: Such calm. They have a gun. A gun that killed eight people, including six Asian women. Here are the names of the dead we know so far. Delaina Ashley Yaun aged 33, Paul Andre Michaels aged 54, Xiaojie Yan aged 49 and Daoyou Feng aged 44. All killed by that man last night and that suspect's motivation remains unclear tonight.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very concerned because as you know I was speaking about the brutality against Asian-Americans for the last couple of months. I think it is very, very troubling. But I'm making no connection at this moment for the motivation of the killer. I'm waiting for an answer from as the investigation proceeds from the FBI and from the Justice Department.


BURNETT: We are all waiting. And in the meantime, the fear among Asian-Americans in this country his growing. Crimes against Asians in America have spiked during the pandemic. Police Department statistics show nearly 150 percent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and major U.S. cities in 2020 according to a study, while overall hate crimes fell by seven percent.

And tonight, communities across the country are grieving as police in Atlanta still try and piece together what happened. Ryan Young is OUTFRONT in Atlanta tonight. And Ryan, tell us what you know an absolutely horrific act happening in that community where you are right now.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Erin, I can tell you the names and the faces of the people who were killed in this are really sticking with the hearts and minds of so many people. We've seen for the last two hours or so more than a dozen people show up here to either put a message out or drop flowers off.

There's been a lot of conversation here about why this had to happen and there have been a lot of questions in the community about how to protect people around this area to make sure this never happens again.


YOUNG (voice over): Shock and outrage in Atlanta, Georgia and across the nation after a shooting spree left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women. Police say the suspected shooter 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long has admitted to the attacks on three separate Atlanta area spas. But they say it's too soon to call his motives a hate crime.


CAPT. JAY BAKER, CHEROKEE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: It's still early but he does claim that it was not racially motivated.

(END VIDEO CLIP) YOUNG (voice over): According to investigators, the suspect described

issues of sexual addiction and the spas as temptations that he wanted to eliminate.


SHERIFF FRANK REYNOLDS, CHEROKEE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction and may have frequent in some of these places in the past.


YOUNG (voice over): Police say Long was recently kicked out of the house by his family due to his sexual addiction. A former roommate of the suspect telling CNN that long spent time in rehab for sexual addiction last year. He was deeply religious and tortured by it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some guy came in and shoots the gun, some ladies got hurt, I think, and everybody's scared, so they're hiding.


YOUNG (voice over): The attack started shortly before 5 pm on Tuesday at Young's Asian Massage in Cherokee County Georgia. Rita Barron works next door.


RITA BARRON: I talked to one of the ladies and she say to him, hey shots, shots, man, gun, gun.


YOUNG (voice over): Five people were shot with to dying on the scene and to dying at the hospital. Then around 5:47 at Gold Massage Spa in North East Atlanta, three people shot dead and another killed across the street at Aroma Therapy Spa.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For as tragic as this was on yesterday in Metro Atlanta, this could have been a significantly worse.


YOUNG (voice over): Authorities say that captured Long 150 miles south of Atlanta after tracking his phone with the help of his family. He was on his way down to Florida where he allegedly made a plan to continue his rampage.


BAKER: My understanding it was some type of porn industry in that state that he was wanting to go do some similar act in that location.


YOUNG (voice over): Police found a 9-millimeter handgun in his car, which he told authorities he purchased just this week.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, attacks on Asian- Americans have been on the rise. The group Stop AAPI Hate which tracks reports of discrimination against Asian-Americans says it has received nearly 3,800 firsthand complaints of violence and harassment against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders since March 19th of last year.


YOUNG (on camera): Erin, I think it's something that we should remember is that the family members are the ones who help police sort of put this all together and be able to track him so they were able to make that stop about two hours away from here. And to show you the spa which is right here, the other spa where the shooting was, was just across the street right over there.

This is where people have been coming all day long to pay their respects at both locations, but really as that first court appearance happens tomorrow, people want to hear in court exactly what he said to investigators, so they know why this ever happened.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. This is horrific.

OUTFRONT now, Georgia State Representative Democratic Bee Nguyen. She's back with me and her district covers part of Atlanta, just a few miles from where this massacre happened. So I know you've been speaking to investigators and I know you're working with leaders in the Asian-American community trying to reach out to the victims, to these families. Are you learning anything new tonight?

STATE REP. BEE NGUYEN (D-GA): Well, I want to start off by saying when we learned about this last night, we were horrified. And the sinking feeling that I had was this has to be a crime related to AAPI Hate. And as we have learned the details of the event unfold. I still believe that this is a racially motivated crime.

We know as much as what news outlets are reporting, this happened at three different Asian businesses. One of them is Vietnamese-owned. We know that six Asian women were killed and we know of the women killed, at least four of them were of Korean descent.

We've been working with community leaders to try and connect with the families to assess what their needs are and there's been conversations about potentially setting up victims funds and making sure we really listen to the community and not just respond in a knee jerk way. I think a lot of times in these circumstances, the response is increased law enforcement.

But the conversations we had are our communities much like black Georgians across our state, we don't always necessarily feel safe with increased presence of law enforcement. There's also some questions around just citizenship and whether or not we would endanger the workers and the business owners as well as their families.

BURNETT: So let me ask you, Representative, obviously the suspect claims that the shootings were not racially motivated and police have repeated that. So we're waiting for more information. But as you point out, eight people were shot at Asian massage parlors and spas and six of them were Asian women. Those are the facts. Is fear growing in the community tonight?

NGUYEN: Absolutely. And this fear has been prevalent in the community in the last year since we've seen this spike of AAPI Hate crimes. That number of 150 percent increase of those being reported, 68 percent of those victims are Asian women.

And I think that it has been overlooked nationally and in our state but last month we started to see the rise of violent crimes against our elderly folks on the west coast and now that is hitting so close to home, there is a lot of fear in the community, not just because of the hate crimes that have happened over the last year which are a result of xenophobic messaging around the pandemic by the former president.

But there's a lot of history of Asian-American violence in this country and many of our parents or grandparents or ancestors experienced that. It was the Chinese rail workers, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans, the targeting of Muslim Americans after 9/11, so this is not new. But the fact that it is increased and it hits so close to home and that the crime is so violent and brutal, I think it's all hitting us.

BURNETT: Why do you think the hesitancy to call it a hate crime? I know we don't know the full story here. But I think we can all acknowledge that if a different multiple groups were targeted, even as we waited for more details people would be calling this a hate crime. Why do you think the hesitancy?


NGUYEN: Well, I think this country has a reluctance to admit that there is very real and deep-rooted systemic racism that does result in violence. In this particular case, where the victims were Asian women, we see the intersections of racism, xenophobia and gender-based violence.

We've also seen historically where news outlets and the police frame the story around the perpetrator. And now we're hearing about the suspect in custody and we are hearing stories about how (inaudible) religious, how he suffers from a sex addiction. It's humanizing and centering him versus humanizing and centering the victims of the crime.

BURNETT: Thank you very much, Rep. Nguyen. I appreciate your time. I'm glad to talk to you. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances.

NGUYEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And I want to go now to Greg Ehrie. He was with the FBI for more than 20 years focusing on domestic terrorism. He's currently VP of Law Enforcement Analysis for the Anti-Defamation League. So Greg, Rep. Nguyen laying this out. We're learning the suspect was in sex addiction rehab last year, sources telling CNN he told police he thought about killing himself and then decided to target the spas instead and, again, Asian spas, Asian women. What does this tell you?

GREG EHRIE, FMR. FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, NEWARK FIELD OFFICE: Well, first, thank you for having me tonight, Erin. And again, I wish it wasn't under these tragic circumstances.

It tells us we need to watch this investigation as it unfolds. First law enforcement actively stopped this threat. Because the first priority is always is this a solo act or are there other threats, are there other actors out there. And they seem to have mitigated that.

Now comes the forensic analysis part where the subject's all his electronic media, his phones, his laptop, they're going through, he certainly appears to have given a confession, where he cites the reasons why he may have done this and that's important for context.

But now investigators have to go backwards and say who did he call the morning of, who did he look to, what was he looking at on the internet, what made this happen.

BURNETT: So how do we figure out this whole issue of a hate crime? Because, yes, there are certain situations where people would be calling it that before they had all the information, they would be. And in this case, you're overlaying race. Clearly on some level, you're overlaying gender. You're overlaying possible sexual addiction. Is there any question as to whether it's a hate crime in addition to whatever else it may be?

EHRIE: It's certainly a matter of labeling. Listen, the AAPI community has been terrorized and in any case, this is increasing their fears. So you have to look at it from that aspect. But in another aspect from a strictly legal point of view, this is a gentleman who's going to be facing potentially eight counts of capital murder. A hate crime is an enhancement. The ADL work very closely with George over the last year to pass a state hate crimes law.

But the penalties aren't as stiff as they wouldn't be for something else as the mayor of Atlanta pointed out today. We're going to look at this. Make sure we call it what it is and this is a crime against women, against people of Asian descent, against other victims. But we need to make sure legally as it's prosecuted, it's done in the correct manner.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate your time. Greg, thank you.

EHRIE: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, 12 Republicans voting against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to police officers who risked their lives on January 6th. Let me just say that again, 12 Republicans voted against those honor medals. Why? Well, we'll tell you. Plus, Democrats seeing an opening to kill the filibuster and pass

their legislation with a simple majority. But the Democratic Senator Joe Manchin just crushed that idea.

And why aren't the shootings in Atlanta being called hate crimes? That's what our own Lisa Ling wants to know. I want you to hear her powerful story here. She's OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: New tonight, 12 Republicans voting against what should have been a completely non-controversial bill. OK. They voted against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to police officers who risked their lives on January 6th and they did that because the bill referenced the insurrection which occurred on January 6th, the incident in which those police officers earned their gold medals.

Congressman Louie Gohmert, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, that group trying to rewrite history because the bill referred to the rioters as a mob of insurrectionists. Gohmert falsely claiming that that description is unfair. The quote from Gohmert is, "We now know there was no armed insurrection. Nobody had arms."

Well, just to be accurate here, more than 300 people have been charged for crimes that day. According to court records, weapons confiscated that day included knives, stun gun, bear spray, baseball bat and a spear. We know those things were all used against officers and people died.

Jessica Dean is OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill. Jessica, three police officers died as a result of the riot and yet Gohmert and 11 other Republicans are now trying to say that what happened that day did not happen. That it was not what it was. What more can you tell us?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, this piece of legislation passed to the house with overwhelming bipartisan support. Something you really don't see these days. I don't have to tell you that 413 to 12 in this particular vote. And again, as you said, Congressman Gohmert saying he didn't want to support this because of that language, calling it an insurrection saying he argued that's not what it was when in fact that is what this was.

There was an armed insurrection here on January 6th and his alternative legislation that strikes that out isn't going anywhere. This bill that was presented by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has passed overwhelmingly. It's about making the point, though, that he wanted to make and it's about really illustrating, Erin, the deep divide that still exists here on Capitol Hill, particularly in the House there where you have these 12 members who don't feel comfortable calling this what it was, an insurrection.

And we had another Congressman Thomas Massie saying he wasn't comfortable with the term insurrection because he said it could have implications for someone's prosecution in the future. So you do see that deep divide here about what happened here on January 6th and it's even within the Republican Party of Congresswoman Liz Cheney, number three Republican Erin telling my colleague, Annie Grayer, earlier today that Gohmert's bill was outrageous.


So again, a lot of Republicans supporting Pelosi's bill that ultimately went through but it does signal that deep divide that still exists here when it comes to the question of what happened on January 6th. There are 12 Republicans who say they're not comfortable calling it an insurrection.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Jessica.

So I want to go to John Avlon, our Senior Political Analyst. So John, I'm going to start with the good here, we're going to celebrate how bipartisan this was and that these officers are going to get these medals. That's the very least of what they deserve for what they did. OK.

Now, let's talk about the 12, the dirty dozen. Louie Gohmert and others on that list supported Trump's big lie that the election was stolen, people died that day because of that lie. That's fact. And now they are voting against them Medals of Honor because they don't want to call it an insurrection.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's what's happening. They're trying to rewrite history. And you got to ask yourself who are they afraid of offending, people of the FBI Director calls domestic terrorists for political purposes and it's frankly pathetic.

I mean, look, Louie Gohmert as an exemplar of this wing nut caucus, you got to call it what it is. You want to associate yourself with Louie Gohmert, here's a guy who's an embarrassment to Congress, Texas and the country, somebody who has been so wrong for so long that he's a frequent target of his own state's newspapers who mock him.

His name has become a punch line without a joke. And when this is all over, Gohmert and the people who choose to decide themselves, they're not only going to be in some hall of shame for their attempt to rewrite the history of an attack on the Capitol out of fear of offending domestic terrorists, Gohmert himself is going to be in a class followed by himself along with people like James Traficant except with less dignity.

BURNETT: Yet according to Politico, Gohmert's proposed resolution, the other one which Liz Cheney completely dismissed and is going nowhere, this is how he describes what happened to two police officers who died following the riot. He says that they passed in January 2021. That's what it says.

One of the officers was killed in the insurrection. Died of the injuries he sustained that day. The other Jeffrey Smith died by suicide in the aftermath of what happened that day. And yet he takes out any reference to that day or anything about that moment and replaces it with they passed in January 2021. AVLON: Yes. Like it was some natural cause inexplicable by human

inquiry. I mean, look, this is the rewriting of history and it shows how sinister and ultimately sad this is. Like their hero Donald Trump used to say, if you want to solve a problem, you have to be able to name it. That's when he immediately segue to calling out radical Islamic terrorism.

Well, this is domestic terrorism and this was done in Donald Trump's name by many people. And the inability to call it out and to call a suicide something that - police officer who died after the attack to say that directly speaks to how much they're willing to contort themselves for fear of offending their base. And it's just a complete dereliction of duty and evidence of a complete lack of courage and character and an ability to face facts.

BURNETT: John, thank you.

And next, Senate Democrats see an opening and getting rid of the filibuster once and for all. But did Senator Joe Manchin just again show them who's boss?

And whatever the motive in the Atlanta area shootings, the fear among Asian-Americans tonight is real and it is warranted. My next guest, Lisa Ling, said rise in violence consumes her.



BURNETT: New tonight, key Democratic Senator Joe Manchin pouring cold water on a major push in his party to gut the filibuster and only require a simple majority, instead of a supermajority of 60 votes to move forward on legislation, judicial nominees, those kinds of things. Telling CNN quote, "I'm still at 60. That's where I'm at. I haven't changed."

This as President Biden goes further than he ever has in showing support for changing the filibuster rules even as he stopped short of saying he wants it eliminated completely.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: Aren't you going to have to choose between preserving the filibuster and advancing your agenda?

BIDEN: Yes. But here's the choice, I don't think you have to eliminate the filibuster. You have to do it what it used to be when I first got to the Senate and back in the old days when you used to be around there. And that is that a filibuster, you had to stand up and command the floor, and you had to keep talking along.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're for that reform? You're for bringing back the talking filibuster?

BIDEN: I am. That's what it was supposed to be. It almost is getting to the point where democracy is having a hard time functioning. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now Democratic Senator from Oregon, Jeff Merkley. He has fought for years to eliminate or reformed the filibuster rule. In fact, his Twitter bio lists; dad, runner, chief filibuster antagonist, U.S. Senator from Oregon in that order. That's currently how it is, Senator.

So let me just ask you, just yesterday, you said change to the filibuster is needed to fix a broken Senate. President Biden obviously agrees. That's the first time he said he's open to changing the rule. You heard him saying that he thinks we're almost at a point where democracy is not functioning. Do you see an opening to gutting the filibuster once and for all?

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): Well, the gutting it, I don't, what I've been doing is holding a conversation with all of my Democratic colleagues saying, hey, it isn't filibuster, no filibuster, because the Republicans already eliminated the filibuster on their priorities on the Supreme Court nominees and on tax cuts for the rich.

And so here we are, there's still a thought filibuster on Democratic priorities but not Republican. How is that right? Shouldn't we be as fierce in fighting for the things we campaigned on for the people as Republicans are for the rich and powerful and privileged? And, of course, the answer is, yes, we should be.

So there's many ways to try to make the Senate function again and we're listening to all the members and all the 50 of us have to come together and make this place work. And so in that sense, I'm optimistic.


BURNETT: It has been weakened greatly in the past decade under the former majority leaders of both parties, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell at different times, specifically on nominations, judicial nominations, right?

Now, because of that, Senator, as you're well aware, former President Trump, filibuster-free, was able to appoint over 200 benches because there was no filibuster. More than a quarter of federal judges right now are Trump appointees, according to Pew Research, more than a quarter of federal judges right now are from one president.

Now, my question to you is this goes both ways? Wouldn't the 60-vote threshold filibuster rule have stopped that?

MERKLEY: Well, yes, it probably would have. But realize that in 2009 and '10, the filibuster on nominations absolutely exploded. You're looking at something that was almost never used on any nominations and was used on every nomination by Mitch McConnell.

And we went through a year and a half debate with our colleague saying, let's work this, out there greed and they said, we'll quit doing it. Then they started doing it again. And so it was either not allow the president to have any nominees confirmed or say no, we can't let this stand.

So, we work so hard to work out a deal. This is a recent manifestation, really since 1970, it's become into ordinary used to obstruct rather than -- rather than to occasionally delay debate.

And now, it's being used on everything. It is -- it is not at all the way the Senate was designed. This is a modern abuse that we've got to end.

BURNETT: In the context of a human rights bill, this could be important. It's a sweeping piece of legislation expands voting access across the country.

Senator Elizabeth Warren said, quote, if Republicans block S-1, which is what it's referred to, that will turn up the heat and taking away Mitch McConnell's veto. And she's not alone. Some Democrats say this is your chance to make another exception to the filibuster rule.

Do you think that you can get Democrats on board with that?

MERKLEY: Well, today, our majority leader said failure is not an option on this one. And why is that? We took an oath to the Constitution to defend the ballot box, to defend the basic, kind of pulsating heart of what a democracy is. And so, we are -- we are obliged by that oath to stop the voter suppression.

And we also really have to stop the gerrymandering which violates equal representation, the dark money that is corrupting and polluting the campaigns. And so, these things that American citizens of every party say fix these things. And it is essential that we do so because we're in a kind of a battle between government for the powerful and government for the people.

Government for the powerful now has a simple majority path to get things done and government for the people doesn't, we have to change that. If anything, it should be a simple majority for the people, and a higher bar for those who are already privileged and powerful. So a failure is not an option.

I don't know how we're going to get it done. We've got to have eventually 50 folks and the vice president who say we wrestled with this, we've seen the continuation of the (INAUDIBLE) obstruct strategy of McConnell. And now, we have decided to gather, here's the best path forward.

BURNETT: Senator, thank you very much. I appreciate your time tonight.

MERKLEY: Erin, thank you so much. Take care.

BURNETT: And next, why aren't the Atlanta murders have been called hate crimes? That's what our Lisa Ling wants to know and she's my guest, next.

And Andrew Cuomo says Biden didn't say he could be prosecuted if allegations against him are true, except that is exactly what Biden did say.



BURNETT: Tonight, the shooting in Atlanta that left six Asian Americans dead, escalating fears within a community already shaken by a surge in hate crimes.

Today, three people arrested in the brutal attack of the 67-year-old man a Laundromat in San Francisco, horrific video. This came after an 84-year-old man was shot to the ground during his morning walk, he later died.

In Queens, a 52-year-old woman was assaulted while waiting in line outside a bakery. She had to go to the hospital.

And those are just three incidents, we happen to have video 4 out of nearly 3,800 since last year.


And, Lisa, you know, today when you spoke with us earlier, you were talking to Katie, our producer, and you said you can sleep all night after learning of the shooting. That these attacks all-consuming for you right now. Tell me. Tell me about it.

LISA LING, CNN HOST, "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING": Well, Erin, when it seems that it's open season of people who look like me, who look like my parents, who look like my children, it's really hard to think about anything else. I mean, I've been on these text chains with leaders in the Asian community, and we've been on all day, every day for the last few weeks.

Frankly, we've been communicating about this for the entire year. Every time it seems that out in my social media or my media, I'm seeing and hearing about more attacks on Asian people. And, frankly, I am right now just sick of seeing the face of the man who massacred 8 people last night. In fact, I had to scour the Internet for the names of the people he killed.

And according to the New York Times, I just have to say their names. Delaina Ashley Yaun, Ziaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Julie Park, Park Hyeon Jeong and Paul Andre Michels, who's not Asian.

And there are two more people who were killed whose names I haven't been able to find.

BURNETT: No, we have not confirmed those names either, we have only the ones that you said.

And, you know, but when you hear those names one of them is not Asian, all the rest are. The suspect claims the shootings are not racially motivated, that's investigators told us today. They say that's what he says. But six of the 8 victims were Asian women, period. These were Asian massage parlors. I mean, Lisa, if this were any other minority groups that were

targeted in a shooting spree, will there be this hesitancy?

LING: Well, that's a question that we are all asking. I mean, Erin, when you think about it, if this were a synagogue or black church, there wouldn't be a question. This terrorist targeted three Asian massage parlors. And asking the assailant whether this was racially motivated and taking his word for it just seems like a joke to me.


I mean, we know that this is definitely a hate crime against women, that we know. And, by the, way as you said, this happened days after a 75-year-old Pak Ho, an elderly man in the Bay Area, was brutally attacked.

And as you mentioned, there have been numerous attacks even since then.

BURNETT: So, just a few days ago, I spoke to a restaurant owner in Texas, Mike Nguyen, and he's been on the show over the past, you know, many months. Lisa, he said anti Asian slurs painted across his building. The words "kung flu," "hope you die," all of these horrific things.

And they came after he came on the show, a few days before that, because he was criticizing the decision to lift the mask mandate in his state, right? He was concerned for his restaurant. Go back to China, those are the things that were scrolled all over his restaurant.

Here's what he told me.


MIKE NGUYEN, RESTAURANT VANDALIZED AFTER HE REFUSED TO DROP MASK MANDATE: There is a concern of this is going to escalate to something worse, what's the next step they can do and that's going to be death threats for me?


BURNETT: So, he predicted something like this could happen to him because of his race and then it did. I mean, why is more not being done? It's like this is -- the threats are there, it's happening and yet it still happens?

LING: Well, look, things don't happen in a vacuum. Attacks against Asians are happening, they have been happening all over this country. This terrorist in Atlanta knew what he was doing, the people who are attacking Asians know what they are doing. It's time's poor law enforcement and our intelligence community to start rooting this out.

BURNETT: So, a lot of people link the rise in hate against Asian- Americans to the rhetoric we heard from former President Trump. The reality is Lisa we've seen 100 50 percent surge against Asians in which a timeframe other job 7 percent.

So, last night, when we found out about this horrific attack, the former president went on Fox News and called the coronavirus the China virus, that's what he did. He has repeated slurs like that, kung flu and all the other things he said more than 400 times. China virus, China plague, kung flu, but he's been out of office for two months. And we still see this rising now.

What do you make of that?

LING: First of all, I can't stand talking about Donald Trump anymore. But as you said, he just called COVID-19 the China virus again last night and now 8 people are dead.

BURNETT: You know, you know so much about this Lisa, you talk about people that look like you that's not why you know this. Obviously, you have a personal relationship to it, but you've done so much reporting. And you've done reporting on massage parlors, a phenomenal report if anyone has the senior they've got to see it in your "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING".

But you detail the dangers that these women face every single day, across this country. Did you ever think though, that we would see something like this?

LING: Look, first of all, it is uncertain that the women who are killed or sex workers. They may have been masseuses. There is a lot of talk about how this guy was going for sex in these places. But many of these women who work in these massage parlors, don't even live in the cities where they work.

They move around, they work for like three months with no days off doing things, backbreaking labor in addition to whatever else they may be doing. Most of them are here without their families, they are trying to make money to send home to their families. They already are working in a dangerous profession, made more dangerous by COVID. And they're even working during this pandemic because they are desperate, they need to work, they need to be able to make money.

And with the stigma attached to Asian people right now, I can't think of anything more deadly than with these women have been doing.

BURNETT: All right. Lisa, thank you very much. I so much appreciate your perspective and you hope people will watch that episode of "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING", because it was incredible, thanks.

LING: Thanks, Erin.

BURNETT: Next, Andrew Cuomo digs in. The New York governor on the defense tonight after his longtime friend and political ally, the president, says that Cuomo would probably end up being prosecuted if allegations against him or true. Prosecuted, not just out of office.

And Biden talks tough about Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: So you know Vladimir Putin. Do you think he's a killer?



MADDOW: Russia, with a major response tonight.



BURNETT: Tonight, Governor Andrew Cuomo downplaying and dodging after President Biden said that Cuomo should resign and would probably be criminally prosecuted if the allegations against him are true.


REPORTER: But I wonder what your reaction was to President Biden saying that you could face prosecution.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I don't think that's what President Biden said.


BURNETT: He is the smart man, Governor Cuomo, so he knows what Biden said. But just to played, so you can hear it, here's what Biden told ABC News George Stephanopoulos.


STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you said you want the investigation to continue. If the investigation confirms the claims of the women, should he resign?

BIDEN: Yes. I think he probably would end up being prosecuted too.


BURNETT: I think he'd probably end up being prosecuted too. He said what he said.

Cuomo going on to suggest, actually, there is no daylight between him and Biden.


CUOMO: The president said there should be a review. I agree with him on that. The people of New York agree with him on that. I'm not going to resign. I'll find out the facts and will take it from there.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Alex Burns, national political correspondent for "The New York Times" who has written extensively about the close relationship between Biden and Cuomo and has covered Governor Cuomo for years.


So, Alex, you know, we all just heard Biden say, that if Cuomo did these things, he might be prosecuted and he should resign. Cuomo says that Biden didn't say what Biden said.

What do you make of that?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Erin, I think it's not particularly subtle Jedi mind trick that the governor is trying to pull off there, to tell people that by endorsing an investigation, President Biden is only endorsing an investigation and making no judgments or commentary beyond that. But, of course, people can see with their own eyes, hear with their own ears. The president went significantly further than that.

What the governor is trying to do here, what he's doing at the state level as well as the national level, is to try to cast the two choices here as investigate and essentially leave that as an open-ended matter that sort of lets the governor get back to his day job as normal, or resign immediately. And the president has chosen a third path that is rather more serious than what the governor is suggesting.

BURNETT: Absolutely. I mean, you know, it is true, Biden has not called on Cuomo to resign, right? But he did say if the investigation confirms the claims of the women, should he resign? Yes, I think he probably end up being prosecuted too.

This is further than Biden has ever gone before, and by the way, to make a point here, he didn't just answer the question yes, he should resign. He added in this whole part about, and I think he probably end up being prosecuted too -- which had to be a serious gut punch and a shock for Cuomo to hear. I mean, this has been a long personal friendship and a crucial political alliance.

How significant is what Biden said?

BURNS: That was a pretty drastic thing to throw out there for the president, and I think there are still all kinds of questions about what exactly was he was envisioning when he raised the possibility of prosecution. Most people in New York are talking about is removing him from office through an impeachment process or by forcing a resignation but not actual legal prosecution.

But, of course, the governor is facing jeopardy on a whole number of fronts, not just the allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, but his handling of the COVID-19 response and nursing homes in New York state. So, the governor, the walls are pretty tight around the governor right now.

I think the president sent an awfully clear message that whatever their friendship has been in the past, that is sort of carte blanche to use (AUDIO GAP) White House in the future. BURNETT: And Cuomo trying to shore up his support, getting a vaccine

today, he chose to go to Harlem where he was joined by but black political leaders, including the former New York Congressman Charlie Wrangle. He appeared recently at the Javits Center vaccine site alongside other pastors from black churches. He is certainly trying to send a message with this.

BURNS: He sure is, and the message at least part of it as many of the voters at the core of the Democratic base have not deserted him yet. Yet, when you look at the poll we have so far, and we don't have a whole lot, but the polling we have suggests that most black Democrats in New York are sticking with the governor and the bet that he is clearly making here is while these investigations go on, if he can hold on to that base of support and trump it the state success in vaccinating people on COVID-19, that maybe there is a path for him.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Alex. I appreciate your time.

BURNS: Thanks a lot.

BURNETT: And next, President Biden said Vladimir Putin is a killer. And tonight, the Kremlin response. You'll see that response first OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: New tonight, Moscow pulling its ambassador to the U.S., calling President Biden's label of Putin as a killer ridiculous. That's after Biden also put Putin on notice over the U.S. intelligence assessment that Russia once again meddled in the 2020 election.


BIDEN: He will pay a price. We had a long talking and I were I know relatively well and the conversation started up, I said, I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you know about, don't you think he's a killer?

BIDEN: Uh-huh, I do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, what price must he pay?

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


BURNETT: Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT in Moscow.

And, Matthew, look, this is hugely significant. The president calls Putin a killer and they have now pulled their ambassador from the United States. You've been able to get a response from the Kremlin. Tell me what you know. MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well,

not much of one, actually, because all they've said as you've mentioned it is they said this is ridiculous that President Biden should accuse Putin of being a killer and face a price for that as well. But that's the only reaction we actually had to many Russian officials from my source in the Russian government tonight. No one else has said a word about it.

But the actions that they've taken tell a very different story, shows how angry and how concerned they are. As you mentioned they pulled, recalled the Russian ambassador to the United States, they called him back to Moscow for consultations about the comments that Joe Biden has made according to my source in the Russian government. But also about the whole gamut of strains and issues that exist in that very fraught U.S.-Russia relationship.

What the Foreign Ministry say is that they want to see what to do and talk about that. What move to make to prevent irreversible damage to U.S.-Russian ties.

So, on the one hand, you can see that as a warning from Moscow, that a line has been overstepped. On the other hand, it illustrates just how concerned they are that this whole tension between the U.S. and Russia is getting out of control.

BURNETT: And now, the Biden administration with Biden saying you will see when you see, but they did hit several top Russian officials already with sanctions for the poisoning of top putting critic Alexey Navalny who's in a brutal penal colony that you just were there, you've reported from there, and it just shows what you saw, the lengths that Putin will go to silence his critics.

CHANCE: Yeah, absolutely. An absolutely horrific penal colony but a couple of hours drive away from the Russian capital Moscow. So, it's not that far away from the capital of his friends and lawyers to go and see him, but it is one of the most glorious penal colonies in Russia, known for being very disciplinarian from inside.

Former inmates have told us that they're meant to stand on their feet from early in the morning too late at night. Not allowed to speak to any members of staff or any other inmates, and if they break even the tiniest of rules, then they are isolated and have privileges taken away.

So, it's a really tough regime that Alexey Navalny is going to be in the middle of next two and a half years.

BURNETT: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you very much for your continued reporting on this.

And thanks to all of you.

Anderson starts now.