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Erin Burnett Outfront

Law Enforcement Official: Investigators Trying To Determine Suspect's Connection To Supermarket; Family Members, Friends Speak Out About Shooting Victims; Interview With Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO); New Videos Obtained By NYT Show Attack On Slain Officer Sicknick During Capitol Riot; Interview With Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA); Biden Admin Publicly Releases Number Of Migrant Kids In Custody After Mounting Pressure; Interview With U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 24, 2021 - 19:00   ET


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: That gave me chills. Brian Todd, thank you for that report.

I'm Pamela Brown and thank you for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, new details on the investigation into the Boulder massacre as a town and a nation mourn, watching an emotional procession for the police officer and father of seven killed in the shooting.

Plus, the insurrection investigation. New Video tonight of Capitol Hill Officer Brian Sicknick shows him attacked by rioters. Officer Sicknick died the following day.

And our reporter OUTFRONT on the U.S.-Mexico border capturing on tape a group of migrants crossing the Rio Grande as President Biden makes Vice President Harris the point person on the border crisis. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, a city and nation in mourning as investigators try to piece together a motive. The alleged gunman in the Boulder massacre will face a judge for the first time tomorrow. Meanwhile, investigators are digging into his background trying to determine why the 21-year-old chose that particular supermarket, that King Soopers market as his target.

This according to a law enforcement official because that market was about 30 minutes from his home. There were many closer. And at this moment there is a growing memorial at the site of the massacre.

These are live pictures that you see on your screen. Cards, flowers now lining a fence that is up around the shopping center. Also tonight, a touching tribute to one of the victims, Officer Eric Talley. People pulling over, lining the street as his body was taken to a funeral home. Talley, the first officer on the scene, leaves behind a wife and seven

children. He is one of the 10 victims who ranged in age from 20 to 65. And tonight, we are learning new details about some of the other victims, including 20-year-old Denny Strong, the youngest victim.

He worked at the store. That day though, just there to pick up groceries himself. One of his co-workers telling one of our affiliates that he was a hero and believe that he tried to stop the gunman. In a moment, I'm going to speak to one of Denny's closest friends.

Also Neven Stanisic aged 23. His parents fled Bosnia in the 1990s. Stanisic was leaving the supermarket after being called in to fix a coffee machine. He was shot in the parking lot.

And Tralona BartKowiak, 49 years old was a small business owner. Her good friend and former roommate saying she 'had probably the brightest light I have ever met in a human being'. According to her friend, she was also planning a wedding and getting married.

Teri Leiker, 51 years old. One friend telling The New York Times something about her air, her smile just soothed me. Terry had worked at that grocery store for more than 30 years.

And then Lynn Murray, a mother of two. A former photo director. Her husband telling The New York Times she was at the store filling an Instacart order, which he said she enjoyed doing to help people during her retirement. He called her an amazing woman. The kindest person he'd ever known.

Jody Waters was 65, two children. She worked in an owned boutiques at a Boulder mall, according to The Denver Post. And someone who knew her told The Post, it sounds like a cliche, but she would light up a room.

Lucy Kafanov is OUTFRONT live in Boulder tonight. And Lucy, are we any closer to finding out a motive behind the massacre?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, sources tell CNN that the FBI is looking at absolutely everything. They are scrubbing the suspect's online activity. They're interviewing friends and relatives to try to understand his motivation for that massacre on Monday.

A senior law enforcement official also tells us that federal investigators are aware of friends who say the suspect had grievances over his perception of how Muslims were treated here in America, but they caution it is too soon to draw any conclusions that it is a complicated picture.



LOGAN SMITH, STORE EMPLOYEE, SURVIVED COLORADO SHOOTING: My heart has been racing every time I try and lay down. It just keeps me up at night.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KAFANOV (voice over): Tonight, as survivors of Monday's mass shooting

struggled to come to grips with the violence, new details are emerging about possible directions of the investigation. A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation tells CNN that officials are examining possible mental health questions. Investigators believed the attack was planned given the timing of Ahmad Alissa's March 16th purchase of the Ruger AR-556 pistol.

The official added they are also taking note that there were no wounded survivors, which is uncommon in mass shootings.


PHIL WEISER, COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL: The defense has to basically say that someone didn't understand the impact of what they were doing. And in this case, given the number of different killings, it does appear that someone was acting deliberately.


KAFANOV (voice over): Alissa was living with his brother at this Arvada home, some 20 miles from the King Soopers grocery store in Boulder. Raising questions as to why he chose this particular store when others were closer to his home.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just so glad you're here still.


KAFANOV (voice over): The crime scene now a makeshift Memorial. This morning, several survivors of the shooting returned to pay their respects.


SMITH: It's been hard.


KAFANOV (voice over): Logan Smith, a barista who was working at King Soopers that Monday afternoon escaped with his life. His three best friends lost theirs, including 20-year-old Denny Strong.


SMITH: I kind of accepted that something was up, but to have the words come out of his father's mouth that he was dead, I broke down crying.


KAFANOV (voice over): His other best friend, 25-year-old Rikki Olds mourned by her family today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB OLDS, NIECE KILLED ON COLORADO SHOOTING: There's a hole. There's a hole in our family that won't be filled. I mean, we try to fill it with memories. That's tough. It's tough.


KAFANOV (voice over): In Colorado, grief and anger.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are sad, but we are outraged. We are we are crying, but we're angry.



KAFANOV (on camera): And people have been coming here throughout the day to express that grief. There's also at least seven vigils that we know of this evening to honor and commemorate those 10 lives cut too short in Monday's massacre.

And about an hour from now, the Boulder City Council is holding a special meeting to create some healing for the community, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Lucy, thank you.

And I want to go now to the governor of Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis. I appreciate your time, Governor, as always. A law enforcement official telling CNN tonight that the supermarket was about a half an hour from the suspect's home. There were obviously many grocery stores closer to where he lived. As you're following this investigation, is there anything that you have learned that could suggest why this store, any connection to this store anything about a motive here?

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Erin, thank you for your really thoughtful way of helping to memorialize the people we lost and really showing the full 360-degree picture to the extent we can of who these folks are and what we've lost as a community, as a state and as a nation. What you pointed out does seem one of the otter attributes of this.

I'm confident with the investigation underway being assisted by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, we have 15 of our agents on it as well as some state troopers, I'm confident that these will be some of the answers that emerged. But you absolutely put your finger on one of the strange facts, why here? Why there? Why drive half an hour and do it in a community where you don't live and what was the motive behind it?

There's no motive, that's a valid motive. This is an act of pure, unmitigated evil. So there's no right answer, but I think people want to know and we'll be finding out in the weeks ahead.

BURNETT: So I know - you've said this is a pretty easy case to prosecute in the sense of we know who did it. There were numerous eyewitnesses. The DA, though, is now saying it could take up to a year, Governor, for the investigation to be completed. Do you have any sense as to why they would say that? I mean, it sounds like a long time.

POLIS: Well, yes, I'm not the DA. He'll speak for himself. I mean, certainly to me as a non-attorney community member, it seems pretty straightforward. Lots of witnesses, interviews with the family. They know what was going on already. This is just from reading the media, right, Erin? I mean, I think there's a lot out there.

I don't think it'll be too hard to prove. Obviously, from a DA's perspective, they want to make sure they get the conviction. They don't want anybody to walk on some kind of formality or even get out of any of the charges. I mean, he needs to be prosecuted, prosecuted and convicted of murdering 10 people, because that's what he did and I'm confident that that'll occur by jury.

BURNETT: So we saw it, touching images today. I mean, people lining the streets. I mean, it's heartbreaking to see this. This is the procession, Governor, that I know you saw for Officer Talley as his body was taken to a funeral home. What is the loss of Officer Talley mean?

I mean, this is a person who had a career, I know an IT, then he decided he wanted to go into law enforcement. He goes into law enforcement. He's got seven children. He cares so much about his community. In mid career he says I want to go do this.

He lost his life as the first person who responded to this. What does this loss mean to the community?

POLIS: Well, I can say as a father of two, anybody who's a father of seven deserves an award for just that. But on top of that, put on the uniform every day, protected our community, it just - and, of course, was answering the call of duty, running into fire to save others and lost his life that way in a community where a police officer hasn't lost a life for many years and so this was really shocking to the community.

Of course, first and foremost, our heart goes out to the family. I went to the site today and laid some flowers at the ad hoc memorial site that's been set and really took to a knee and in a thoughtful way just try to understand what had happened and try to make sense of it just as so many people across the country are.


And it's hard, the healing is hard, the anger is legitimate. The question why, why, why that's on all of our lips.

BURNETT: And I know that you have been to the supermarket yourself, Governor, many times. You've been to this King Soopers. You've been in there to grab bag of chips or soda or what it might be. I mean, Ryan Borowski was doing just that. He was inside the store, bag of chips, soda. Actually, he was over by the checkout area where this happened and

then decided, oh, I want to get ice cream too, so then he went back into the store. Right after it happened on Monday, he spoke to me. Here's what he said.


RYAN BOROWSKI, WAS INSIDE KING SOOPERS SUPERMARKET: Boulder feels like a bubble. And a bubble burst and that's heartbreaking to think that people died in this today. And it doesn't feel like there's anywhere safe anymore sometimes and this feels like the safest spot in America and I just nearly got killed for getting a soda and a bag of chips, so it doesn't feel good.


BURNETT: Governor, do you share that feeling that there isn't anywhere safe now when something like this happens?

POLIS: Boulder is a community where there's a year, two years, three years where it goes to several years in a row without a single homicide, without a single murder. To have 10 people killed at a place that I've been to, that almost every member the community knows has been two, drives past, this is kind of everywhere USA. This could be any grocery store anywhere, anytime.

And I think that's really why this struck a chord not just with residents of Boulder and of Colorado, but with people across the country. And Erin, I have to say we appreciate the deep feelings of love and support coming our way for those families affected for residents and community from across the country and across the world.

BURNETT: Governor, thank you. I appreciate your time.

POLIS: Thank you.

BURNETT: We're now picking up the pieces of their shattered lives tonight. The youngest victim, Denny Strong, was only 20 years old. He worked at the supermarket. But on this day, he was just picking up groceries and the shooter arrived. His close friend Bianca Porter is OUTFRONT now.

Thank you so much for coming on to talk about your dear friend. I'm so sorry for your inexplicable and horrible loss. I know that the other day you were texting with Denny, actually just an hour before he died. What was that last conversation like?

BIANCA PORTER, FRIEND OF BOULDER SHOOTING VICTIM DENNY STONG: Just normal conversation. We're making plans to go do some target practice in the mountains. Nothing out of the ordinary.

BURNETT: Just like your normal life and planning, what you were going to do together as you would as friends.

PORTER: Yes, exactly. BURNETT: Bianca, there were these reports about your friend just doing

such heroic things. One of his co-workers in the supermarket was talking about how he tried to stop the gunman.


BURNETT: And here's what they said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a great individual, very respectable. He is one of the heroes from yesterday.


BURNETT: It sounds like your friend, doesn't it?

PORTER: Oh, absolutely. I had no doubt that he lost his life trying to save other people. That's just who he was.

BURNETT: Tell me a memory about Denny. I know you were making your plans for the weekend. You were going to go target shooting. Just tell me a special memory. I know that he was one of your first friends and that you've been close for four years.

PORTER: I think my favorite memory would be from last year on my birthday. He came. He was only - he was one of the only people that got me a birthday present, which kind of - that just made me feel really special. And he brought his - he's really into aviation and stuff, so he bought his RC plane. And he was controlling it over the pond and just doing some really cool tricks with it. We were just all laughing and having a great time.

BURNETT: That's incredible. I mean it's very special that he did that on your birthday. It says a lot about who he was.

PORTER: Oh, yes.

BURNETT: Bianca, as we've been trying to understand more about him, I mean, just to die at your age, to lose such promise, one thing that we found was on his Facebook page, he said he'd been working at the supermarket since December of 2018.


And he appears to reference the pandemic with the photo on his page and the caption says, "I can't stay home. I am a grocery store worker." Tell me about his job. How dedicated he was to that job.

PORTER: He was really passionate. Denny had a work ethic like no one else that I've ever met. I mean, it's not the most interesting job, but he looked forward to doing it. Never once did I hear him complain about having to go into work away or something. He just really did what he could and had no complaints.

BURNETT: What were his dreams, Bianca? PORTER: Well, he wanted to be a pilot.

BURNETT: So when you think back to all the times you've had together, is there anything you wish you could have told him that now, of course, you won't be able to?

PORTER: Honestly, I just wish that he didn't try to charge at the gunman. I mean, I knew that's just kind of part of who he is, but I feel like he would still be here with us today if he hadn't done that. Yes.

BURNETT: Well, he was a hero. I'm sure in that action, he did save so many others and I know you felt ...

PORTER: Yes, I'm sure he do.

BURNETT: ... yes, so lucky to know him. I'm so sorry for your loss, Bianca, of your dear friend and his future. Thank you for sharing him with us.

PORTER: Yes. Thank you for having me.

BURNETT: And next, we have new video that for the first time shows how Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was attacked during the riot. He died the next day.

Plus, Democrats in Congress pushing a sweeping voting rights package as Republicans in 43 States try to pass bills restricting voting rights.

And Joe Biden makes Kamala Harris the point person on immigration as we take you to the border with thousands of migrants who've been arriving in the recent weeks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The activity has been picking up and I've got a feeling that the worst is yet to come.




BURNETT: Tonight, new videos obtained by The New York Times show for the first time the moment Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after responding to the Capitol riot, he's attacked with bear spray. It comes as we're learning new details about the alleged coordination between two far-right extremist groups before the riot occurred. Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, we are getting our first glimpse of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick in the hours before he died on the front lines guarding the west side of the Capitol January 6th. In new video from The New York Times, the moments before and after Sicknick was hit with a chemical spray play out.

You can see one of the two men accused of assaulting Officer Sicknick and two other officers, Julian Khater, standing nearby in the crowd. In another angle, you can see the proximity of Khater and Officer Sicknick. Then, Khater is seen raising what the Times identifies as a spray can and shoots the chemicals in Officer Sicknick's direction.

You can see Officer Sicknick suddenly turn away after being struck by the spray and start to move away from the crowd. Prosecutors previously released these pictures of the officers huddled together and hunched over. They say three were hit and all were temporarily blinded.

Officer Sicknick later collapsed in an office and died at the hospital the next day. The medical examiner has not yet released the cause of his death. And the role the chemical spray played is still in question.

But Michael Sherwin, the former Acting U.S. Attorney in D.C., who led the riot investigation for the past two months said it is possible that Khater and George Tanios, though only charged with assault now, could eventually be charged with murder.


MICHAEL SHERWIN, FORMER ACTING D.C. U.S. ATTORNEY: If evidence directly relates that chemical to his death, yes, we have causation. We have a link. Yes. And that scenario, correct, that's a murder case.


SCHNEIDER (voice over): Meanwhile, the possible coordination between far-right groups, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in advance of January 6th is being exposed by federal prosecutors. A new court filing lays out the Facebook messages from alleged Oath Keeper leader Kelly Meggs saying he orchestrated a plan with the Proud Boys.

It's the first time prosecutors have publicly linked the allegedly violent efforts of the two right-wing extremist groups and documented their alleged pre-planning. In one message, Meggs allegedly writes the Proud Boys, "I've been communicating with the leader. We are going to march with them for a while then fall back to the back of the crowd and turn off. Then we will have the Proud Boys get in front of them. We will come in behind Antifa and beat the hell out of them."


ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: This is very powerful evidence that indicates conversations, contact and not just that but agreement between the two groups on things like tactics and positioning.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHNEIDER (voice over): In a Facebook message from December 22nd, two

weeks before the insurrection, prosecutors say Meggs plan for 50 to 100 Oath Keeper members to travel to Washington and then wrote, "Plus we have made contact with PB and they always have a big group. Force multiplier."

Three days later on Christmas, Meggs allegedly laid out the gear members should bring. "D.C. is no guns, so mace and gas masks, some batons. If you have armor, that's good."


BURNETT: So Jessica, Officers Sicknick, I mean, these new images that we're seeing of him being attacked during the riot are awful. Where does the investigation into his death stand?

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Yes. The key here, Erin, of course cause of death and that's the primary question right now for prosecutors, whether that chemical spray from Julian Khater that we see in this new video, whether it directly caused Officer Sicknick's death.

But we also got a glimpse of what prosecutors are working with, that was in court late last week. They actually presented a number of videos of the attack and the videos came from officer body cameras. So presumably, they're also combing through hours of video documenting this chemical attack too. We haven't gotten our hands on that video, Erin, but we're working on it.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much.

And next, Mitch McConnell accusing Democrats of a power grab as they race to stop Republicans from passing measures that restrict voting. But can Democrats stop these efforts? They're at the state level.

Plus, Border Patrol officials now releasing some migrants without even notifying them of their court dates, just letting them go, why?



BURNETT: Tonight, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accusing Democrats of a 'power grab' with their sweeping voter rights package known as Senate Bill One. Sen. Schumer firing back, calling Republicans' move to restrict voting in 43 states despicable.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Instead of doing what you should be doing when you lose an election in a democracy, attempting to win over those voters in the next election, Republicans instead are trying to disenfranchise those voters. Shame on them.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): If everybody ought to be feeling a shame around here, it's turning the FEC into a partisan prosecutor. The majority controlled by the President's party to harass and intimidate the other side. That's what you ought to be ashamed about.


BURNETT: The FEC is, of course, the Federal Election Commission. Now, Schumer singling out specifically the state of Georgia, saying the voting bills expected to pass through that state legislature in the next few days are 'the most reprehensible effort of all'. Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.

So Tom, walk us through is since Georgia has been singled out as Schumer saying is the most reprehensible of all. What exactly do the bills in Georgia aim to do?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, as this fight over new voting restrictions rages toward a final vote in Georgia before the end of the month. The Republicans position is boiled down to these key targets, limiting dropboxes by insisting they must be inside formal voting locations and available only in certain hours.


Expanding legislative oversight, essentially they are saying they want to have Republican oversight of the process. Big contest, they want to pick the referees. Mandating early voting days.

And here is the big one -- substantially increasing the limits of absentee voting by requiring proof of identity, maybe to a drivers license, state ID card, passport, utility bill, anything, just an extra barrier there.

Republican, say they just want to secure their elections from fraud. But look at this, more than 1.3 million absentee ballots were cast in Georgia last November, 6 times as many in the previous presidential race. And we know Joe Biden's significantly outpaced Donald Trump in all forms of early voting.

So, opponents, say this is what is really about, attacking that advantage, because if these restrictions have been in place and just 12,000 voters had been somehow dissuaded, hadn't taken part. If they were wiped out, Donald Trump could have won the state -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, well, thank you very much, Tom.

Let me ask you one of the question though before you go, on the other states because they were talking or Georgia here and I'm going to be joined by the congresswoman from Georgia in a moment. But any other states, what are the key issues there?

FOREMAN: The key issues there is that they're 250 measures like this have been proposed in 43 states, according to the Public Policy Center of the Brennan Institute. Critics say these are largely aimed at suppressing minority and Democratic votes, especially in states controlled by Republican legislatures and governors.

We've seen examples in Arizona, another sample of where the presidential race flipped from red to blue. Of course, talk about Georgia, Florida, down here, Pennsylvania and how about this, in Michigan, just today, Republicans introduced nearly 40 bills about voting rules. And right in the crosshairs, you guessed it, new limits on drop boxes and absentee voting -- Erin.

BURNETT: Incredible, 40 in just one day just to give everyone a sense of the onslaught we're talking about. Tom, thank you.

So, I do want to go to the Democratic Congresswoman Nikema Williams of Georgia. She holds the seat of the late civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis, and has been on the frontlines of fighting for fair elections.

So, Congresswoman, I appreciate your time.

So, when we look at the situation in Georgia, and Senator Schumer has picked this out as the most crucial state. You got Republicans in control of the statehouse, the state senate and the governorship. So, all indications are that they're going to be able to pass these voting restrictions by this time next week.

So how do you fight back?

REP. NIKEMA WILLIAMS (D-GA): So, Erin, the people in the ground will remember who's standing up for their rights, who's standing up for their ability to choose elected leaders of their choice. We played by the rules, we won, and now, they want to change the rules.

But we know that federal law is -- takes precedent over state law. And so, today, we saw Republican leaders in the legislature in Georgia, introduced the resolution to try and encourage members of Congress to not move forward with HR-1 and SR-1, which would stop all of these voter suppression tactics that are happening right now in Georgia.

I voted for HR-1, the first 300 pages of the For the People Act were written by Congressman John Lewis, and this is part of his legacy. So, all of the people who are standing there in saying that they stood with Congressman Lewis and applauding him for his life's work, but now they want to erode everything that he fought for. So, that's why we have to make sure that HR-1 gets to the United States Senate.

BURNETT: So let me just ask you one thing, though, you know, for someone watching who says, all right, you want as many people to vote, that's the entire goal, right? So, that's -- to say someone approaches this with that point of view.

But then they say, well, an absentee ballot, you're not going to actually see the person in person, right? So what's wrong with requiring some sort of identification if they're going to say, well, it could be a utility bill, it could be a license for those who don't have that. It could be something else.

Can you explain why that is an unreasonable thing to do?

WILLIAMS: So, Erin, first of all, there's already signature matches so nobody is voting absentee and not being verified of who they are when they cast their vote through the mail or by absentee voting. But the challenge with this is to require that you have a picture of

your photo ID, or to send in a copy of it, we know that that's going to disenfranchise people who don't have access to a printer, who don't have a ways to get that copy and submit it, or who don't have an ID with them at their home. But they have a signature match on file, they can submit their vote by mail and it can be verified. That's already been proven.

What we don't have evidence of his voter fraud in the 2020 elections in Georgia. But we do have clear evidence right now of them trying to suppress the right to vote of people.

BURNETT: So, your colleague in Georgia, Democrat Stacey Abrams. I know you've worked very closely with her, Congresswoman.

She spoke at an event today with former President Bill Clinton. And she said she supports getting rid of the filibuster, right, the 60- vote threshold to go ahead and pass that legislation you're talking about, right, at the federal level regarding election laws.

Here's what she said.


STACEY ABRAMS (D), FORMER CANDIDATE FOR GEORGIA GOVERNOR: If we don't solve the democracy crisis, the rest of it is irrelevant. It is a moral imperative that we not allow a procedural rule to destroy the most durable democracy the world has known.


BURNETT: So, she makes the case there. I do understand, though, Congresswoman, President Biden at this point has been very clear, he does not support getting rid of the filibuster entirely. And, you know, we learned that he told Senate Democrats on the call this week that they've got to do, they've got to pressure Republicans to get this passed, right, as opposed to, forget Republicans, let's get rid of the filibuster.

What do you say to President Biden on this?

WILLIAMS: What I know is that people across the country, people in the state of Georgia aren't looking at procedural rules in the Senate. What they, now is that they sent a majority of Democrats to the United States Senate, to the House and they elected a Democratic president. And they want us to work for them.

I'm in Congress to do the work of the people, not to sit here and play procedural games when it comes to something as important as standing up for voting rights. It should not matter where you live in this country that if you have access to the ballot. It should be simplified across the board, and that's why I am encouraging us to move forward with whatever we need to make sure that HR-1 or SR-1 passes the session and gets to the president's desk to be signed.

BURNETT: Congresswoman Williams, I appreciate your time again tonight. Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the White House allowing cameras into a government shelter for migrant children today, but what we saw is vastly different than what our reporters have seen.

And Team Biden putting together $3 trillion new spending plan, a plan that could transform this nation. But is their support for such a massive bill on top of the $2 trillion just passed a couple weeks ago?

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Just in, for the first time, the Biden administration just releasing the total number of unaccompanied migrant children in federal custody. And so we have the number, it's stunningly large. More than 16,000 children we are told are currently in government facilities. More than 16,000 children.

It comes as President Biden has tasked Vice President Harris with leading efforts with Central American countries to stop what is truly a dramatic surge of migrants at southern American border.

Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.


SHERIFF JOE FRANK MARTINEZ, VAL VERDE COUNTY: The activity has been picking up, I got a feeling that the worst is yet to come.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Val Verde County sheriff Joe Frank Martinez is taking us to the edge of the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, to a spot that's become a landing point for several thousand migrants in recent weeks, as we show up one of his deputies and a Border Patrol agent have apprehended a family from Venezuela.

MARTINEZ: This little group right here, I think it's 42 that my deputies have personally handled today.

LAVANDERA: When he looks across the river to the Mexican side, they spot another family crossing. We noticed there are two men guiding the family through the safest part of the river, the current here can be deadly. A young girl is being carried on a man's shoulders, the law enforcement agents are waiting. As the migrants reach the shore, one tells me they're also from Venezuela.

One of the guides throws a bag of dry close to the Border Patrol agent, after that the two men turn around and splashed through the river back to Mexico.

It's unclear what will happen to these migrants of the most families are being allowed to wait out the immigration cases in the United States.

MARTINEZ: It just hits you, it just hits you, you know? You feel for them.

LAVANDERA: Sheriff Martinez frustration is growing over seems like this unfolding in remote border towns like Del Rio.

What's your message to President Biden right now?

MARTINEZ: Well, we don't know what the plan is. In my opinion, the policy makers came in with a policy change, but they had no plan in place to implement a plan. So this is what we're seeing, people are going to continue to come in mass numbers, people are going to die but something has to be done quick.

LAVANDERA: Last week in this area, eight undocumented immigrants were killed in a high-speed car crash. Authorities say, the driver was a suspected smuggler trying to get away from state troopers.

And a fisherman captured video of migrants struggling in the Rio Grande, Border Patrol says two people drowned as they tried to get away from agents. Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano, a Democrat, says, his small town of about 36,000 people doesn't have the resources to deal with this surge of migrants.

MAYOR BRUNO LOZANO (D), DEL RIO, TEXAS: Where is the plan of action? I believe that the things that they're doing now are band-aids. It's a band-aid.

LAVANDERA: An old Del Rio city building is where the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition helps immigrants who have been released from custody, the group's director says they're seeing about 100 migrants a day here.

Wadner Demeille and his family across the river into the U.S. earlier this week. He says he escaped Haiti four years ago after his brother was murdered because he couldn't pay $100,000 ransom. Wadner says he in a family of travel to South and Central America for four years to get here.

He says reaching the U.S., made him cry tears of joy.

He said, I've been looking for this country for a long time.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Erin, this afternoon federal government officials allowed reporters to tour one of the health and human services facilities where unaccompanied minors are being kept.


But that is not some of the facilities here on the front lines on the border where there are still thousands of migrants being kept in Border Patrol facilities, which by all accounts are not ideal for these migrants in these initial hours after being captured here on the border.

Much of the work and the pressure that has been put on not just local ordinance, or organizations here, but we saw a lot of charity groups up and down the border, who are really doing the brunt of the work in carrying for these migrants that once they are released, legally released, as they await their immigration process here in the United States.

And we've talked a lot of these people volunteering charities along the border and they say they are doing the brunt of the work caring for these people once they are released -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right, Ed. Thank you.

And next, another stunning number, $3 trillion. It's President Biden's next big agenda item on infrastructure and other things. Is it too big? Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is next.

And it is one of the busiest and most important shipping lanes on this planet. Tonight it is blocked and at a standstill.



BURNETT: Tonight, the White House preparing a sweeping $3 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan. You heard me right, that is another $3 trillion on top of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill that's just passed.

So, again, basic math, that is about $5 trillion in spending proposals before President Biden's first 100 days in office. Biden is set to be briefed by his team on the proposal this week and they are going to split it into two parts, we understand. One in infrastructure and clean energy, the other on other domestic issues, including universal pre-K and significant spending on other things including childcare.

OUTFRONT now, President Biden's energy secretary, Jennifer Granholm.

And I appreciate your time, Secretary. It's good to see you again.

So, we don't know all the details yet --



BURNETT: -- about the plan. But in your realm, obviously, energy, we do know it will spend heavily on clean energy.

Overall, presidential historian Michael Beschloss today told "Axios" that President Biden may end up being close to FDR and LBJ, he said, quote, in terms of transforming the country in important ways in a short time.

Do you see this plan, Secretary, along with COVID relief, as rivaling those of FDR and LBJ?

GRANHOLM: I do. I mean, we have to see what it actually looks like, but what does the country need? We are coming out of this massive problem, this huge pandemic.

And the relief bill, the rescue bill that we just saw provide -- you know, obviously as you know and you've covered it, it's got over 76 percent of Americans that support it. And this infrastructure package, which is really a recovery package, the rescue and recovery, is going to be investing in the things we need which will create jobs.

In my role as energy secretary, for example, who can doubt that we need to invest in our transmission grid? We need a resilient grid. We need to make sure that it's able to withstand these weather events. We need to add capacity for clean energy to the grid if we want to electrify our transportation system, and get electric vehicles on.

We've got to do so much in addition to roads and bridges and all of that and that usually has enormous bipartisan support. So, it's a really exciting time because he does want to transform the country to the positive.

BURNETT: So, Secretary, you talk about that usually has bipartisan support. Look, infrastructure always does in practice, it actually never has in reality whether it has Obama attached to it, Trump attached to it, we shall see with Biden.

But on that front, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell today said he has only spoken to President Biden once, once since he became president, and that conversation was about Burma and there was not any Republican support for the last $2 trillion bill that the president wanted to get through Congress.

Can you get another $3 trillion in spending if McConnell and Biden are not talking?

GRANHOLM: Well, I'm certain they will be. I mean, they are old colleagues. They've known each other for a very long time. This is a different era in terms of Biden's relationships with the Senate, obviously.

But President Biden is committed to doing this, to making sure that we make the critical investments that we have lacked for so long. We are falling behind our economic competitors. Some of our airports are embarrassing, not to mention our roads --


GRANHOLM: -- including local roads.

So, I mean, come on. We have got to do this. And one way or the other, he's going to do it, and that is exactly what's needed.

And by the way, when I say bipartisan support, I'm talking about folks out there in Michigan --

BURNETT: One way or the other, though, you are saying they will do it through --


GRANHOLM: -- fixing the damn roads.

BURNETT: They'll do it through reconciliation if they need to, Republicans be darned?

GRAHAM: Well, you know, that's not the preferred way. We'd love to get 10 senators to come on board on the Republican side and support what their -- what their constituents want. But one way or the other, I hope that they push it through because that's what the country needs.

BURNETT: So, I mentioned other things in the bill. There's obviously section you are dealing with directly but there's also other things, childcare, universal pre-K, and that comes on today being Equal Pay Day. It's something I know you have spent a lot of time thinking about over your career.

President Biden at the event in the White House about it and it comes, Secretary, as you know as COVID has taking a massive toll on women in the workforce. In January, 275,000 --


BURNETT: -- women left the workhorse, only 71,000 men.

This isn't going to just reverse itself, right? Many women do not want to return to the way things were. Equal pay is crucial but this that we are seeing in the labor market right now seems to be way bigger than even that, doesn't it?

GRANHOLM: Yeah, it totally is. I mean, we are seeing a reversal of three decades of progress for women. Women -- I mean, you know, women make 82 cents on the dollar than men make. So today is the day that women can start turning equally on average. It's just -- that's not right but the fact that 4.2 million of women have fallen out of the workforce entirely is really a problem.

But one of the things from the COVID relief package that we just talked about that is awesome is for family.


Now, of course, women usually are the primary caregivers -- one of the things that is so critical is that they increase the child tax credit and they are allowing people to take it in monthly increments. So you don't have to wait until April to file your tax returns, to get that child tax credit, so they increase it.

So, if you've got two kids who are under 7 and you qualify, that for -- that's $600 a month that you'll be getting from July to December. That, for many women, for kids who are in poverty, 66 million of them, that is a game-changer.

And that's something that I think this country should consider on a permanent basis, personally. Like other countries are doing. Let's support your family so that women can make those choices to be able to stay home or go to work. But, right now, many feel like they just simply do not have a choice.

BURNETT: I appreciate your time, Secretary. Thank you so much.

GRANHOLM: You bet. Good to see you.

BURNETT: All right, Secretary Granholm.

And next, a ship nearly the size of the Empire State Building is now blocking one of the most important waterways in the world.


BURNETT: Tonight, standstill. The Suez Canal, one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, has come to a halt after a massive container ship ran aground. The Ever Given, its name, was on route to Rotterdam when it got stuck. It is 1,312 feet long, which is nearly as long as the Empire State Building as tall. It is massive.

Now, I was on assignment and once travelled through the canal on another massive Suez Max oil tanker. Being in shape that side makes the canal feel very narrow. OK, here's how it works, ships wait days to enter the canal that they travel through a procession, it's one way so narrow.

This is what it looks like from the deck, blinding white sand on either side, desert in this impossible small seeming ribbon of blue. Once it through the narrow path, ships essentially park in the middle of the canal. It's wider, it's called the Bitters and then they get the green light to continue one way to continue.

The impact of Ever Given's grounding is huge because nearly a quarter of a close to that canal is oil, oil and petroleum products. Oil prices have risen more than 5 percent on the news as the ship is still stuck.

Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.