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Erin Burnett Outfront

Pres. Biden Addresses Anti-Asian Hate: Asian Americans have been "Attacked, Blamed, Scapegoated and Harassed"; Rep. Bee Nguyen (D- GA) Discusses About the Meeting with President Biden About Asian American Hate Crime; New Surveillance Video Appears to Show Georgia Suspect's Vehicle Pull into Spa Parking Lot Before Shooting; House Dems Weigh Ejecting GOP Winner of Contested Iowa Race; Biden on U.S.- China Scrap: "Very Proud" of Secretary of State; One Year Anniversary of California Lockdown, Governor Facing Recall. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 19, 2021 - 19:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Look at the stories of loss and survival experienced during the pandemic. The CNN Special Report the Human Cost of COVID airs tomorrow at 9 pm Eastern.

And I'm Pamela Brown. Thanks very much for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, President Biden and Vice President Harris speaking to a community in pain saying Americans must act against anti-Asian violence. This as we are learning new details about the attacks and how the shooter targeted his victims.

Plus, the White House growing more concerned with the number of Republicans who won't get a COVID vaccine as Dr. Fauci has a warning about the variant that is about to become dominant in the United States.

And a sitting Republican Congresswoman could lose her seat if House Democrats decide to overturn the results of that November election. I'll talk to the Democratic challenger about why she believes she's the winner. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, President Biden condemning the spike in attacks on Asians in the United States. Three days after a mass shooting left eight people dead, six of them Asian. The President of the United States speaking directly to a community that tonight is in pain and fear.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Too many Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying. Waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are stake. They've been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They've been verbally assaulted and physically assaulted, killed.

Documented incidents of hate against Asian-Americans have seen a skyrocketing spike over the last year, let alone the ones that happened and never get reported. It's been a year of living in fear for their lives. Hate and violence often hide in plain sight and it's often met with silence, that's been true throughout our history. But that has to change, because our silence is complicity.

We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act. Overall, the good the laws can do, we have to change our hearts. Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It must stop and it's on all of us, all of us together to make it stop.


BURNETT: President Biden also addressing what has been the source for the spike in attacks, racist slurs, some of which former President Trump and his allies often used to describe the pandemic.


BIDEN: Words have consequences. It's the coronavirus, full stop.


BURNETT: Words do have consequences and those consequences now are real, starkly real. Major U.S. cities with a 150 percent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020. And for Vice President Harris who is South Asian, this is personal.

And although she stopped short of calling it a hate crime, her point was clear.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whatever the killer's motive, these facts are clear, six out of the eight people killed on Tuesday night were of Asian descent. Seven were women. The shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian-Americans. The shootings took place as violent hate crimes and discrimination against Asian-Americans has risen dramatically over the last year and more.


BURNETT: And tonight, we are learning more names of the victims from massacre, they are Hyun J Grant. She was 51 years old. According to a GoFundMe page, she was a single mother of two. Her songwriting, "She was one of my best friends and the strongest influence on who we are today. Losing her has put a new lens on my eyes on the amount of hate that exists in our world."

Also killed, Yong Ae Yue, 63 years old. Her son Robert Peterson telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she was laid off when the pandemic hit last year and have been so excited to start working again. He called his mother a kind and deeply caring woman who will go out of her way to feed anyone who showed up at her door. The other two victims that we have learned the names of tonight Soon

C. Park aged 74 and Suncha Kim aged 69.

Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT live at the White House. And Phil, what were White House officials hoping President Biden could achieve with his remarks in Atlanta today?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Elevated issue I think is one of the primary goals of the speech that you heard from the President. An issue that has really been on the radar of White House officials since their opening days in office.


The President signed an executive order related to this issue. He's obviously been speaking about this all over the course of the last week and it's been an area of rising concern. And what they wanted to do and what you saw the President do today was not just forcefully condemn it but make very clear his position on it. And they understood, there was a delicate line, delicate balance here given the motive of the killer is still not fully fleshed out at this point.

But they wanted to, to some degree, put that aside and recognize what the Asian community, Asian-American community is feeling right now. The surge that they've seen in hate crimes over the course of the last year and what that has meant to the community.

I know White House officials have been speaking to Asian-American, to the community leaders. Obviously, the President had a meeting with Asian-American leaders from the community that went longer than was expected, more than an hour. And there's a recognition from those meetings, from those conversations that perhaps the recognition throughout the country of what was actually happening, what's occurred, what's transpired over the course of the last year, maybe hasn't been fully grasped or at least hasn't been fully grappled with.

And I think that's what you saw the President going for today in his remarks. That's certainly what you saw the Vice President. The first Vice President of Asian-American descent try and make the point to, Erin. That's what they were going for today and I believe White House officials hope, believes they accomplish that.

BURNETT: All right. Phil, thank you very much.

And I want to go now to two local leaders who met with President Biden today for more than an hour. Stephanie Cho is back with me, the Executive Director of the Atlanta Chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. And also back with me, Georgia State Representative Democrat Bee Nguyen whose district covers part of Atlanta just a few miles from where these shootings happen, so thanks to both of you for coming back.

Rep. Nguyen, let me start with you. You were in that private meeting, both of you were, with the President. What happened in that room?

REP. BEE NGUYEN (D-GA): I want to start off by saying I recognize the significance of us being able to sit down in this room with the President and the Vice President. And having the Vice President there did comfort me, because she is half Asian and I do believe that when we are talking about these specific issues that impact our community, it is important to have somebody who understands our history and understands the cultural nuances of not just the horrific shooting that happened this week, but also the history of Asian-Americans living in this country.

We spent over an hour with the Vice President and the President just talking to them about the concerns and what we've heard from members of our community to elevate this issue, to treat it seriously but also to talk about other ongoing issues that have to deal not only with the shooting but the rise of AAPI crime and the public pandemic as well as economic issues within our community.

BURNETT: So, Stephanie, what stood out to you the most after that session that you were able to have with the President and the Vice President?

STEPHANIE CHO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ASIAN AMERICANS ADVANCING JUSTICE- ATLANTA: I think really when President Biden said that he knows that he's listening and that he was meeting with us, but that his words, basically, his words mean more - I'm sorry, his actions mean more than his words and that we would have to see.

And for us this is symbolic at least for me that he's doing exactly the opposite that the former president did. And so, I would also like to see him consistently messaged us, not just now, but in the future.

BURNETT: So, let me just follow up on that point, Stephanie, because you say that. I do know the topic of former President Trump came up in that meeting and his impact, his words and what they mean in the context of this surge in anti-Asian violence. What did President Biden say about that?

CHO: He mention it and I think one of the things that he said I immediately called that out. And he's trying to also say that he's looking at his administration to mend the White House. And so it seems like he's trying to take it very seriously. But like I said, I want to see more actions, not just when it's in a crisis situation, but (inaudible) ...

BURNETT: Rep. Nguyen, what did you take away from the conversation as it pertained, why this is happening and how that includes the words of the former president?

NGUYEN: It's obviously a stark contrast between the former administration. We were led by somebody who would not acknowledge that systemic racism, that xenophobia and that misogyny exists in our society. And the President and the Vice President have a very different understanding of that. And what I do want to talk about is one of the most powerful moments in that meeting was when Stephanie read victim statements, statements from the victims' families directed towards the President and the Vice President.

In this whole tragedy, we have heard very little from the victims' families and we know very little about the victims.


And so to hear those words were very powerful. They were very emotional and it struck me as I was sitting in that room with the leaders from the Asian community that there are so few of us in the State of Georgia that is the same dozen people who have been involved in rapid response for the crisis, making sure that we are addressing the needs of our community, but also making sure that we are front facing with this so that the narrative around what happened is not going to be a narrative centered around the perpetrator.

And that is a heavy burden for all of us to carry. It was probably the first time that I was publicly emotional about what has happened this week because I got to hear the words of the victims' families.

BURNETT: Stephanie, can you tell us more about what you were able to share in that room of messages from those victims' families?

CHO: Those messages were private, for that room only. But I will say that it was very emotional to hear the words and I think all of us in that room, particularly the Asian-American women in the room, including Vice President Harris was very difficult to process what was happening. And I think we all had a very somber moment during that time, because it's really centering around the issues of violence against Asian-American women.

BURNETT: All right. Both of you, thank you so much for your time.

NGUYEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, we have new surveillance video of what appears to be the suspect getting out of his car before as he confesses to opening fire, what this could tell investigators.

Plus, growing concerns inside the White House over conservatives who are reluctant to get vaccinated and that is because of comments like this.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: It turns out there are things we don't know about the effects of this vaccine.


BURNETT: And the House now being asked to overturn an election, but it is not a Republican who wants to reverse the results. This time, it's a Democrat.



BURNETT: Tonight, new surveillance video obtained by our affiliate appears to show the suspected shooter in Atlanta driving up to one of the spas where he allegedly carried out the deadly attack. This comes as we learn disturbing new details about these shootings. Ryan Young is OUTFRONT.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, investigators are actively working to piece together the exact movements and motive of the suspect who confessed to Tuesday's attack on massage spas in Metro Atlanta. CNN obtained the arrest warrants for Robert Aaron Long from Cherokee County. He faces 11 felony charges, four counts of murder with malice, one count of criminal attempt to commit murder, one count of aggravated assault with intent to rape, murder or rob and five counts of possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.

For victims like Mario Gonzalez who lost his wife, Delaina Yaun, during the shooting, the charges do little to fill the hole left in their hearts.


MARIO GONZALEZ, DELAINA ASHLEY YAUN'S HUSBAND: About an hour in, almost at the end, I heard the shots. They took the most valuable thing I have in my life. I had because she taken from me. He left me with only pain, the killer who killed my wife, something needs to be done.


YOUNG (voice-over): The medical examiner today revealing the names of the other four victims who were gunned down; Soon C. Park, Hyun J Grant, Suncha Kim and Yong Ae Yue.

Police say at least three of the victims were shot in the head and they're still working to determine the shooter's motives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is very important to let you know that we are not done. We're still working very diligently to ascertain all the facts, so we can have a successful prosecution, because that's what's most important now.


YOUNG (voice-over): This afternoon Crabapple Baptist Church where Robert Long worship released this statement about the suspected shooter. "No blame can be placed upon the victims. These actions are the result of a sinful heart and depraved mind for which Aaron is completely responsible."

As investigators struggle to put the pieces together, there are growing calls in this community and country to protect the memories of the women involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To target three Asian businesses and to kill six

women who look like me, could be me, could be my mom, could be my sister, could be my aunt and then to not call it a hate crime is dehumanizing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To say that it is unclear what the motivations were is - it's silencing. It's taking away our story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We keep trying to scapegoat one person and fail to see this is actually part of a larger issue. This was incredibly predictable. It is built up over the course of many years.



YOUNG (on camera): Erin, there is a growing Asian community here in Atlanta. I can tell you so many people have been walking over to us saying they want more stories about this community and what they are experiencing. This has been a very difficult week to watch that pain sort of happen over and over again as they're trying to really live not only their own experiences, but feeling like the stories of these people have been silenced. And of course, we're trying to do our best to bring these stories to light, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

So, I want to go now to retired FBI profiler, Jim Clemente. So Jim, we just have this surveillance video coming in, obtained by our affiliates what appears to show the confessed shooter in his car walking into one of the spas. The shooter went to three separate spas where he murdered people. And he shot a number of these victims in the face or head from what we understand so far. Six of the eight of them Asian women. You take all these things together, what do they tell you?

JIM CLEMENTE, RETIRED FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT, BEHAVIORAL ANALYSIS UNIT: Sure. Well, first of all his actions in going to three different spas that were owned by Asians may indicate pre attack surveillance. In other words, there was premeditation here. I don't think he just happened upon these places.

But he did manage to kill seven women and six of those women were Asian. And so they were all engaged in the same profession, they were all in similar type locations where they were working and they were all, well, many of them were shot in the head or face and that seems like it was a targeted execution.


In other words, I would classify this as a goal-driven mass murder and that he probably didn't know, there's no indication that he knew any of the victims, but they represented something to him that he hated and that he wanted to wipe out.

BURNETT: And you use that word hate. I mean, let me ask you Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. He's now been taken off the case, but he originally said that 'Tuesday was a really bad day for him', referring to the shooter 'and this is what he did'. And he also said that the shooter had said it wasn't race based, that he has a sex addiction. So that's what we originally were given that he had a bad day and this is a sex addiction.

CLEMENTE: Yes. Well, I think this indicates more planning than a bad day. But be that as it may, the fact is that actions, as the President said, speak much more loudly than words do. And his actions showed that he targeted a particular type of person on this particular day.

And not only did he do it at one location, but he went to a second and a third location. He had to travel between those locations. And that shows me that that was the goal. It wasn't just to hurt people or randomly shoot people, it was to actually attack this particular type of person and that appears to be Asian women.

BURNETT: And back to that word hate which you use specifically, Georgia law includes hate against women is a hate crime. I understand classifying something as a hate crime wouldn't be additive in terms of any kind of a sentence or a punishment in this case, but yet that word matters in every way and in every legal way to people. Is it a hate crime?

CLEMENTE: Well, I think it is and I think that's something that the federal government could step in and actually evaluate, investigate and make that determination. It does have many of the hallmarks of it but obviously we need a full investigation.

BURNETT: Yes. And of course, obviously, the President and Vice President did not go that far today. Thank you very much, Jim. I appreciate your time.

CLEMENTE: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And next, the White House growing concern that the U.S. may not be able to reach herd immunity because of comments like this one.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't trust the government and I don't trust Biden.


BURNETT: Plus, a Republican wins a congressional race by just six votes. Her Democratic challenger is crying foul and wants the House to determine the winner, but should they?



BURNETT: Tonight, the White House increasingly concerned over Republican reluctance to get the vaccine for COVID. As we've reported, polls show nearly half of all Republican men say they won't get the vaccine. And we're learning there have been several high-level conversations about this very issue inside the White House.

So of course, the crucial thing at the heart of all of this is that the U.S. can't get to herd immunity without this large group of people. We're just not going to get there, and certain pockets of the country aren't even going to come close and then variants spread, all of the work could get undone.

So, this is coming as Dr. Anthony Fauci warns a coronavirus variant that is rapidly spreading throughout the United States right now is both more deadly and more contagious than the original coronavirus. Nick Watt is OUTFRONT.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reopening America's schools just got a bit easier. The CDC now says desks need only be three feet, not six, apart.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: In classrooms with universal mask wearing.


WATT (voice-over): The CDC now also says one kid per row on the bus, staff should still keep six feet away from kids and each other and everyone should still keep six feet of distance in the hallways when eating, singing, exercising. Physical barriers between students no longer advised, but divide them into groups.

According to the CDC, the science says ...


WALENSKY: That K to 12 schools that implement strong, layered prevention strategies can operate safely.


WATT (voice-over): More good news, the President promised 100 million vaccine shots in 100 days done.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In just 58 days, weeks ahead of schedule.


WATT (voice-over): But there's a massive mountain still to climb. About 12 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated. Herd immunity, best estimate, 70 percent to 85 percent.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: If it is that, we would probably have to get more children. And I believe as we get high school students vaccinated in the fall, we'll be able to reach that.


WATT (voice-over): Normality creeping closer. Starting today, New York City restaurants can be half-full inside, nationwide 98 percent of AMC's theaters are open again with restrictions, but open. While officials fear that more contagious variant first found in the U.K.


FAUCI: And likely accounts now for about 20 percent to 30 percent of the infections in this country and that number is growing.


WATT (voice-over): Average new case counts arising in 10 states, Michigan up 45 percent in a week.


DR. JONEIGH KHALDUN, CHIEF MEDICAL EXECUTIVE, MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: We are going in the wrong direction with the key metrics that we are tracking for COVID-19.


WATT (voice-over): Case counts falling in 11 states holding steady for now in the majority, including Texas. There's a jack in the box manager in League City, Texas showing a customer their rules to help slow the spread.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When officers arrived at the scene, they found the shift manager leaning against the counter with multiple stab wounds.


WATT (voice-over): Stabbed, police say, for asking that customer to wear a mask.


WATT (on camera): Now, that manager is going to be OK. Erin, you mentioned at the top that the Biden administration is fearful of vaccine hesitancy among conservatives. So maybe as early as next week, they're going to launch a massive PR campaign to try and turn that around working with people from NASCAR, country music, rural organizations.

Now, of course, former President Trump could help, probably won't. Remember, he got vaccinated in private, didn't tell anyone. Polls show his supporters, the numbers who say they'll never get vaccinated is rising, Erin. [19:30:06]

BURNETT: Wow. Rising. That video was just horrible.

All right. Thank you very much, Nick, as always.

I want to go now to Dr. Jonathan Reiner, who advised the White House medical unit under President George W. Bush.

So, Doctor Reiner, we see the U.K. variant. Now, 20 to 30 percent of cases, according to Dr. Fauci. The U.K. has been warning since December that this is more deadly and now, they're saying that here as well.

And the Biden administration is worried, as they should be. When you do the math as you have over the past few days, if the people right now who say they're not going to get vaccinated don't, you may not get to herd immunity. How serious of a worry is it?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It's a big worry. You know, we used to worry about creating a vaccine in magically would do it within a year. And we were worried about producing a vaccine. No one really imagined we wouldn't be able to get Americans to take the vaccine. But that is where we are in some parts of the country.

So, if that recent NPR poll is right, it suggested more than 40 percent of conservatives will not get this vaccine, it is a huge number. So, remember 74 million of people voted for the former president. So that -- if you're just using the number of people who voted that places the number of people who potentially may not get the vaccine about 30 million. That's the cumulative population of 18 states.

So, you're right. We will not get to herd immunity without those folks. And we will have big surges come the fall in large parts of the South and parts of the Plains of the country. So, we have to get to it.

I love the idea of reaching out to NASCAR and country music. Let's get people to think about vaccines as a patriotic duty. And I cannot think of a better people to do it than NASCAR and Nashville.

BURNETT: So, Gary Tuchman, our CNN reporter, went to a deep red county in Oklahoma, and did this amazing report. Ninety percent of the vote in that county where Gary went, went for Trump. And he struggled to find anyone, anyone who wanted to get the vaccine.

Let me watch part of the report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Does anybody in this restaurant think it's a good idea to take the vaccine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. TUCHMAN: Raise your hand if you think it is. Anyone here, a good idea

to take the vaccine? Raise your hand if you think it is. Not one person here it thinks it's a good idea.

Are you going to take the vaccine?


TUCHMAN: Tell me why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't trust the government, and I don't trust Biden.


BURNETT: So, Dr. Reiner, how do you breakthrough to people like that? Who can breakthrough to people like that? Who they deeply believe this. Okay. Forget the incrimination, and all that, right? They deeply believe this. How do we change that?

REINER: We have to go grassroots level. We have to go to churches, the VFW posts, and talk to people with people who they trust, their local doctors. You know? The people, the elders in their community.

This disinformation is being propagated by conservative media. When you hear people like Tucker Carlson questioning the safety, efficacy of the vaccines, which have been proven in robust clinical trials to be both very safe and very effective. It resonates throughout the conservative community in the country. A lot of the responsibility for getting to these folks has to come from the doctors.

I talk -- I talk to my patients every week about this. I want to see the American medical association put a big push for doctors throughout the country to do the same thing every week, with every patient.

BURNETT: All right. Dr. Reiner, thank you, as always.

REINER: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, a Democrat is challenging the results of a congressional race, a race she lost by 6 votes. Why she thinks she is the real winner. She wants Congress to declared so.

And what's China's very bold confrontation with the United States says about how it now sees its place in a whole new world.



BURNETT: Tonight, the House is being asked to turn the results of an election from November. But this is not coming from former President Trump. Rather it's coming from a Democrat, from Iowa, who believes she is the real winner in a race where the margin right now is a razor thin 6 votes.

Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): You'll often see hypocrisy this blatant --


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I would not put it past them to try to steal the race.

SERFATY: Over a decision by Democrats to review the results of a contested congressional race in Iowa. A controversial move that could potentially overturn the state certified Republican win in the district.

MCCONNELL: Congresswoman Miller-Meeks has been sworn in. She is here. She is working. But Democratic leadership is trying to use brute political power to kick her out.

SERFATY: Last November, Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks defeated Democrat Rita Hart after a district-wide recount revealed she won by just 6 votes, out of nearly 400,000 votes cast it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to make sure every eligible vote counts.

SERFATY: The results were so defined by a bipartisan board of Iowa officials, sending Miller-Meeks to Washington.

REP. MARIANNETTE MILLER-MEEKS (R-IA): I'm proud that a narrow majority of you elected me as your next member of Congress.

SERFATY: But in the month since, Hart has continued to challenge the results.

RITA HART (D-IA), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The initial attempt at a recount was inconsistent, without enough time to count every vote. And it left at least 22 Iowans disenfranchised.

SERFATY: Hart argues 22 legally cast ballots were not properly counted. Ballots she says would have flipped the results in her favor. The Democratic-controlled House is now involved.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Rita Hart has raised specific, credible allegations that ballots were wrongly excluded in certified totals to reverse the election's outcome.

SERFATY: The House Administration Committee voted last week to consider the case, opening the door for the full House to decide the election, and potentially replace Miller-Meeks with Hart.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We'll see where it takes us. There could be a scenario to that extent.

SERFATY: It would be an extremely rare move. From 1933 to 2009, the House has considered 107 contested election cases.


Only three have led to the seating of candidate who contested the results.

Republicans are calling it the hypocritical partisan power grab, pointing to criticism by Democrats of former President Trump's attempts to overturn the results of the November election. Even as some in the GOP tried to rewrite history when it comes to supporting Trump's efforts.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Trump tried to overturn the results in Congress, and you supported that effort.

MCCARTHY: Well, now, you're saying something that is untrue.

PELOSI: For them to call anybody hypocritical about elections when two-thirds of them in the House voted against accepting the presidency of Joe Biden is -- well, it's just who they are.


SERFATY: And both campaigns are now submitting a series of written questions back to the committee. This will be due later this month, essentially just laying out their side, their side of the case here.

And Erin, Democrats are still continuing to push ahead of this, but they certainly are very aware of the optics here of potentially replacing Republican who has been serving for months.

BURNETT: All right. Sunlen, thank you very much.

With all the details now let's go to Rita Hart. She is OUTFRONT.

And, Rita, I appreciate you taking the time.

So, let me just start by asking you a very basic question I think it's important for everyone to understand. People might say, okay, six votes is really close. I can understand why you might want to challenge it. They would say go to the courts, right? Like Trump was told to do.

But you are challenging these results to the House. So, explain why. Why was it the decision you made?

HART: Sure. And hi, Erin. It's great to be here, and it's great to be able to talk about the facts of this case.

And that's the bottom line, is that this is the closest race in the entire country, actually the second closest race in all over 90 years of races in the U.S. House.

And so, after a very flawed recount process where both sides agree that votes were left on the table, we had -- we had an opportunity to follow the law, and do what needs to happen in a case like this when there is a question. We know that votes were left on the table.

And so, the option to go to the Supreme Court was truncated, a 6-day operation. I decided the only choice here would be to take this to the Federal Contested Elections Act, so that the committee would have the time to truly do the due diligence that we need in order to take a look at these 22 votes that were lawfully cast and were not counted due to simple errors. Things like -- I want people to understand, things like two people with disabilities who made the effort to get to the county auditor's office, casting their ballots, curbside give them to the workers. And then, for some reason, those were set aside and never counted.

These are 22 individual ballots that are specific cases of ballots that should have been counted and were not. So, I'm thrilled the committee is willing to take it up, do due diligence, about these 22 ballots, and do a complete hand recount of the district so that we get accurate results.

BURNETT: Right. Okay, so I understand you're asking for that. And, look, I think everyone listening, I don't know with their point of view might be. But if they are objective, you hear examples of it. I could understand how you must feel, with a margin as close as it is, right, 90 years to have margin that close, six votes, I get it.

However, the state has certified the results, right? The winner has been serving for months. And it does fly in the context of what President Trump did, right?

And here's what Democrats said about Republicans refusing to accept that Biden won the election, the same Democrats now looking at your case.


PELOSI: It's most unfortunate that the Republicans have decided that they will not respect the will of the people.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): I will vote to respect the people's decision and defend our system of government as we know it.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We are not here, Madam Speaker, to vote for the candidate we want. We are here to recognize the candidate the people voted for in the states.


BURNETT: So, I know already in your case, there was a district-wide recount. I know you want to hand recount. But there was a recount. The results were certified by a bipartisan board. Secretary of the state, in your state, certified the results.

But just to be consistent isn't the right thing to do to accept the loss as painful as it may be and move on?

HART: The right thing to do is to make sure that every voter who cast a legal vote in this election gets their vote to count. [19:45:09]

And -- and so, there is no comparison here. We're not talking about millions of votes, and no one is saying there was any voter fraud, or anybody did anything that was outside of the law. In fact, quite the opposite.

Yes, it was certified. The election officials did their job with the information that was given to them, knowing that this is a legal process that I have the opportunity to follow, to make sure -- again, our only concern is that these 22 voters who didn't get their votes to count when they did everything right, and should have been counted, people like Sadie (ph) who received a wet ballot in the mail to the post office. And the return envelope was already sealed.

So, she had to open it, in order to return her ballot. She had her mother call the auditor's office, who told her, yes, go ahead, open, it tape it shut, it will count. She wrote on the envelope, and explained the situation, and signed her name, and still, the vote was not counted.

These are 22 specific situations, that's a totally different situation. And this is a legal process that we just want to follow until we get -- until this committee has an opportunity to follow the facts.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Rita, I appreciate your taking the time, and laying this out in the detail that you did. Thank you so much.

HART: Thank you, Erin. It's a great pleasure to be here.

BURNETT: All right. And next, U.S. tensions with China escalating, after an unprecedented, and very public confrontation before cameras. And you know what? This wasn't just objects, this actually matters. It matters for all of us, and matters for America, and where we are in the world.

And California's once popular governor now facing a massive recall effort. And it is not just Republicans who want him out. A special report.


BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden saying he is, quote, proud of Secretary of State Tony Blinken after the nation's top diplomat got into an extraordinary confrontation with Chinese officials over democracy, and human rights.


The two sides quarrelling in front of the cameras. That's what's really incredible about this.

Before China's foreign policy chief took the floor for a 16-minute speech, all in Chinese, even though he speaks fluent English, right, done on purpose, to force the translation of these comments. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRANSLATOR: Let me say here, in front of the Chinese side, the United States does not have the qualification to say it wants to speak to China for a position of strength.


BURNETT: The United States does not have the ability to speak to China from a point of strength. This is an incredible moment in history.

Jim Sciutto, anchor and chief national security -- chief national security correspondent, I'm sorry, Jim, is with me now.

But you, Jim, also were the chief of staff to the United States ambassador in Beijing during the Obama administration. So, you know, it is just an incredible moment, for them to say, it's no longer the strongest, it's not machinations behind the scenes. This is happening.

And I saw this tweet this morning, along with a cartoon graphic of the two sides fighting that came from a Chinese state newspaper editor who wrote, quote, China and the U.S. have never blamed each other in such an open and unceremonious way. It shows the era in which the U.S. can pretend it has enough power to talk down to China, is over.

It's pretty incredible, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is. Listen, I've been in a lot of meetings like this at this level, and I have never seen a confrontation like this and public. Certainly, in front of the cameras, and not to this degree, even in private. This is an expression of China's growing confidence, frankly.

They have the ambition not just to compete with the U.S., but to surpass the U.S. Their goal is to do so a mound the middle of the century, and there are even some Chinese diplomats, and others, who see that timeline being moved up. They see the U.S. having been weakened by the Trump administration, weakened by the 2008 financial crisis, long wars in the Middle East. And you are seeing that demonstrated in bold boosts by China, not just rhetorically like this, but in real world moves like taking Hong Kong, right? In effect, stifling Hong Kong's democracy, the detention of 1 million Uyghurs.

This is a new, more forthright China that the U.S. has to stand up to.

BURNETT: It's incredible, as you say, right? It's not just a challenge, it is to surpass.

And, you now, they planned, meticulously here. It's not that this was not spontaneous, and I think that's part of the power of it, it was planned. It was performance. They don't improvise a 16-minute speech.


BURNETT: You don't choose to speak Chinese, and if you speak English, on the short to force the translation in this moment. This was all planned.

And we haven't seen it at this level. There's been this phenomenon called Wolf Warrior diplomacy among Chinese diplomats abroad. You'll see it on Twitter, they're active, in public comments and so on, and we haven't seen that at this level, face to face, with U.S. leaders.

By the way, Erin, this goes back to Xi Jinping. Xi Jinping is a very confident, aggressive, Chinese leader. He's been misread for years by multiple administrations. He is making his mark, and it is something the U.S. will notice in a lot of moves going forward in these coming years.

BURNETT: All right. Jim, thank you very much.

And next, California's governor, fighting for his political life. And here is the thing, it is not just because Republicans want him out.



BURNETT: Tonight, marks the first anniversary of California's COVID lockdown under Governor Gavin Newsom. The governor now admitting to mistakes as he is facing a massive recall effort over his handling of the pandemic. And it is not just Republicans who want him gone.

Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four-thirty in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every day. Every day.

LAH: At his Pasadena, California, parking lot, Alex Hartunian (ph) moves exercise machines from inside his fitness studio, one by one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eighteen machines here, 350 pounds, each.

LAH: For hourly-morning classes taught by his wife and co-owner, Jen Yates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got it. Keep going. Keep pressing.

LAH: A year into California's COVID restrictions, they are still tens of thousands of dollars in debt. After shutting indoor studios, and pivoting to virtual classes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beautiful, go, Katie.

JEN YATES, OWNER, STUDIO METAMORPHOSIS: We're in survival mode. And we're just powering through it.

LAH: How do you think the governor has done, this past year? ALEX HARTUNIAN, OWNER, STUDIO METAMORPHOSIS: I'm not sure if he's done

a good job. I know he hasn't done a great job. It didn't seem like there was a planning process. It was just haphazard, you know.

LAH: A year of open-and-close orders with shifting standards has helped fuel a recall effort against Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, led by Republicans and conservative donors.

Recall organizers say they have collected more than 2 million signatures.

Governor Newsom is now launching a counteroffensive.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): I think we saved thousands and thousands of lives.

LAH: Telling CNN that those seeking to oust him --

NEWSOM: They are supporters of QAnon-conspiracy theorists, white- supremacist groups. That's not just -- that's -- that's factual.

LAH: That's false, say recall organizers, who claim it's not just Republicans.

TOM SOPIT, RESTAURANT OWNER, EMPLOYEES ONLY: The governor should be fired right now.

LAH: It's also independents, like Tom Sopit. For him, the recall is not political, it's personal.

Are you scared?

This was Sopit a year ago. His West Hollywood restaurant and bar closed, like all the others, because of COVID restrictions.

SOPIT: I'm concerned.

I mean, a year ago, I really thought there wasn't really light at the end of the tunnel.

LAH: Since then, he's reopened, and closed, again. Then, turned his parking lot into an outdoor-dining space.

SOPIT: Make sure six feet there.

LAH: Pivoting with ever-changing protocols.

SOPIT: You choose whatever you want.

LAH: His business is still standing. His faith in the governor, though, has fallen.

SOPIT: I voted for the guy. But I actually agree with the recall. We have to pivot. We have to learn how to adjust. But somehow, the government didn't.

HARTUNIAN: It just doesn't seem like we're his primary interests.

LAH: But this couple wouldn't support the recall, because in a year of crisis, after crisis, they don't want a political one.

YATES: I don't know if somebody else that steps in is going to change things.

HARTUNIAN: What assurance do we have? Like, who is going to come in? And who are they?


LAH: All those signatures that have been turned in now have to be verified by the individual counties. It will take weeks for us to know the outcome. And then, there have to be at least a million and a half signatures verified in order to trigger this recall election -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Kyung, thank you very much.

And, of course, as Kyung's saying they need a million and a half verified. They have already got more than two. They are padding it out to make sure they are going to get there.

Thanks so much to all of you for joining us. Don't forget you can watch OUTFRONT. You just go to CNN go anytime you want.

Anderson starts now.