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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden Calls Georgia Voting Law "Jim Crow in the 21st Century"; Biden Says Justice Dept "Taking a Look" at Sweeping GOP-Backed Voting Law in Georgia, Calls it an "Atrocity"; Federal Judge in Capitol Riot Case Orders Release of Right-Wing Militants in Blow to Justice Dept. Efforts; Lawmakers Request Trump Era Documents on Capitol Riot; Former CDC Chief Under Trump Tells CNN He Believes COVID Originated in Chinese Lab But Has No Evidence; Biden Vows to Push Agenda Forward Without Republicans if Needed. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 26, 2021 - 19:00   ET



KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: And he kept firing and engaging with these officers until he was arrested. As far as the other people in the store, Pam, no one else was shot or killed as officers took on all of that fire.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: OK. Kyung Lah, thank you. I'm Pamela Brown. I'll be back tomorrow and Sunday on my show, CNN NEWSROOM, beginning at 6 pm Eastern.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, atrocity. Jim Crow in the 21st century. Those are the words of President Biden about Georgia's new voting bill. Can the DOJ do anything to stop the law born from Trump's lie?

Plus, a survivor of the Boulder massacre speaks out. She worked at the supermarket. What she saw and the friends she lost, whether she can ever go back to work there.

And the former CDC Director tells our Sanjay Gupta that he believes COVID-19 originated from the lab in Wuhan, China. Tonight President Biden responds. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the lie that is now the law. President Biden tonight saying his Justice Department is looking into the new sweeping Georgia law that restricts voting in the state. A law that is the direct result of Donald Trump's assault on American democracy.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's an atrocity. The idea - if you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency - they passed a law saying you can't provide water for people standing in line while they're waiting to vote. You don't need anything else to know that this is nothing but punitive, designed to keep people from voting.


BURNETT: Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, defends the bill saying it actually expands voting access. He says this, despite the fact, of course, that the law does have the opposite effect, the defense comes from a Governor who thought signing a bill which disproportionately will impact black voters, surrounded by six white men was good optics. And by the way, look behind him, a governor who thought it was good optics to take that photo with six white men in front of the painting of a plantation.

Will Bunch, a columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer looked into that painting and found that it is of the Callaway Plantation where more than 100 black people have been enslaved. The truth is, is that this law is a direct result of Trump's big lie that the election was stolen and rigged. The law was introduced after the presidential election and it takes up some of Trump's favorite lies.

Take, for example, limiting the use of ballot drop boxes. This is something that Trump repeatedly railed against.



Illegal, unmanned drop boxes ...

Drop boxes that were blatantly illegal.


BURNETT: Again, for the record, there was no evidence of widespread fraud of drop boxes or otherwise. Georgia officials have said that all the drop boxes in the State were under 24 hours surveillance. Yet, this bill limits their use.

I mean, just to understand the nonsensicality of this, this is a video tweeted by Georgia's Governor. OK. He doesn't look too concerned about ballot drop boxes in this video, because guess what he's doing? He's using one to cast his own ballot and showing that you can't move it because it's locked down. It's under 24 hours surveillance, all those things.

But this bill means they're going to have fewer of those, limiting voting. The new Georgia law also allows for unlimited challenges to voter registrations and eligibility. Unlimited challenges. I mean, let's just take it on this point. Georgia itself counted its ballots three times because of Trump, because he kept saying it was rigged and all of these crazy things that weren't true.

I mean, should Georgia still be counting? Should an election never have a declared winner because you have an unlimited right to challenge every single ballot in every single vote in perpetuity? Look, we all saw what happened when after those three counts and

Georgia had certified its results and everything was done, Trump kept trying to get them to overturn it and undo it because of dead voters.\


TRUMP: So dead people voted, and I think the number is in the - close to 5,000 people.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, (R) GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: The actual number were two. Two. Two people that were dead that voted. And so, that's wrong, that was two.


BURNETT: That is the Republican Secretary of State of Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, telling the then President of the United States that he's flat out wrong. Just to be clear, there were two dead voters in Georgia, when they did their recount and all of that in their next recount, their next count. There were not 5,000, just a complete lie.

The reality is that Raffensperger and other Georgia election officials, most of them Republicans, led this nation in standing up to Trump during the election. So they had an opportunity if they wanted to have a conversation to work on a bill that focused on improving voting, maybe on addressing things learned during the pandemic to expand access while ensuring voter verification.


This is all worthy of discussion. But that is not what the bill focused on. President Biden is right about this, they supported a bill that makes it illegal to hand out food or water to people standing in line to vote. Just put those words with this image.

They're giving water out to people waiting hours in line to vote illegal. This is a state, Georgia, which, yes, it gets pretty hot, where a lot of voters had to wait hours in the summer heat to vote during the State's primary. OK. That's not OK to do that and that is just the evidence here of a law that was born of Trump's lie. And it is incredibly ironic that on the first day that parts of Trumps lie become law in Georgia, one of the biggest purveyors of that lie now are facing the consequences.

Fox News today hit with a $1.6 billion dollar defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems, because some of its anchors repeated lies about Dominion's machines being hacked by liberals and bizarre conspiracies, including communist Venezuelan dictatorship involvement, all of that. And then there's Trump's sycophant and attorney, Sidney Powell, she's facing multiple lawsuits, including one from Dominion.

And now she's actually trying to change her whole story. She has said in court documents that no reasonable person would have accepted her unfounded claims of voter fraud, as fact. That's her defense. And the horrible part about all of this is that they did accept that is fact. There's a poll that found 76 percent of Republicans believe there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election, even though one of the top purveyors now says no reasonable person would have believed any of this bleep. There are 44 other states now that are waiting in the wing. Republicans across the country have proposed at least 250 bills which would restrict voting rights.

Kaitlan Collins is OUTFRONT live at the White House to begin our coverage tonight. So Kaitlan, how far will President Biden go to try and stop this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the big question facing the White House tonight. Because, of course, you heard him rail against it earlier, not only putting out that statement saying this is Jim Crow in the 21st century. But then later before he even left the White House to go to Delaware, we asked him again about it and he said he believes it's an atrocity talking about that aspect that you were just talking about there.

The fact that you can't give out water, that it's a crime to give out water to people who are waiting in line. He says that shows that it's punitive, that it's not actually based on election integrity as the Republicans in Georgia have framed this because he's saying look how small that is and that's something they felt like they should include here.

It's not about ballot boxes. It's not about the way you vote or your voter ID. It's something as small as that. And so I think the question of what he could do, of course, his power could be limited, potentially, to a degree. But he did tell reporters the Justice Department is looking into how they can safeguard voters' rights in Georgia, whether or not how that ultimately looks, that's going to still be a massive question. It's not clear they can actually do anything.

But, of course, the other aspect that is more likely is getting legislation passed and even that is still pretty unlikely, because the voting rights bills that have made it through the House, they're now going to go for the Senate. Chuck Schumer has said he will bring them to the Senate floor. They face a big uphill battle and I think the White House is well aware of that even though you saw President Biden urge Congress to pass those laws earlier today.

There's a lot of Republican opposition and Biden needs Republicans onboard if they're going to get something like that pass unless something changes with the filibuster. And, of course, we talked last night about how he's moving closer and closer to potentially being in favor of eliminating the filibuster. But he also gave a dose of reality to that earlier tonight, when he landed in Delaware saying that we do not have the votes to change the filibuster.

And he said if you learned anything in his long career in the Senate, you don't move until you have the votes to do something. And of course, we know there are those moderate Democrats who are not in favor of changing it.

And so that's really going to be a big factor to whether or not they're ultimately successful. They being Democrats and actually passing some voting rights laws here in Capitol Hill in Washington as opposed to those that you're seeing happening at a state level.

BURNETT: That's right and so many of those states. OK. Thank you very much, Kaitlan.

I want to go now to the voting rights attorneys suing Georgia over the voting law on behalf of civil rights groups, Marc Elias. And I appreciate your time tonight, Marc.

So Gov. Kemp from Georgia says tonight this is 'an election bill and it will allow Georgia to have secure accessible fair elections'. The Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who we all know stood up to Trump's challenges, even leaked the phone calls exposing Trump said, "The cries of voter suppression from those on the left ring hollow." Yet you're suing, tell me why.

MARC ELIAS, SUING GEORGIA OVER VOTING LAW ON BEHALF OF CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS: Well, we're suing because this is a voter suppression bill. And I think you laid this out quite well in your introduction, but I want to add just two facts to what you had.


ELIAS: The first is that not only did this come from the big lie that Donald Trump told, but it also followed the election of the first black U.S. Senator from Georgia, Rev. Warnock.


And it followed record turnout among black voters during the general election and that runoff election. So this is both a general effort to suppress the vote overall, but it is particularly focused at 1910 [00:00:20] voters, black voters and young voters and that's why we brought up the lawsuit on behalf of New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter and rise.

BURNETT: So let me ask you because you mentioned other states, it's not just Georgia doing this. All these bills coming out post the election and the false premise that there was fraud in it, 44 other states are now trying to implement new voting laws as well. So I know you're looking at all of them. Is Georgia the worst case or are there others that are worse?

ELIAS: So look, it's a terrible competition that we see right now among Republican legislators to see who can pass the most grotesque voting law in order to show fealty to a failed one-term president who is an authoritarian who doesn't support democracy. So let's just start with that.

But we saw before Georgia, we saw Iowa pass a very restrictive voting bill after that State had celebrated its own election successes. They cut back on early voting, cut back on mail-in voting and just for the heck of it cut an hour off Election Day itself.

So I expect we're going to see this in state after state, which is why as you say we are following them closely. BURNETT: So one thing many Republicans are pointing to is expanded in-

person weekend voting. Two days of Saturday early voting, the option of two days on Sunday voting, they want to do that. And I spoke last night with longtime Republican elections lawyer, Ben Ginsberg. And here's some of what he said to me about the Georgia bill.


BEN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: There are parts of this bill that are being oversold. The voter ID requirements, for example, get rid of signature matches, which is a really messy process and puts in Social Security numbers or driver's licenses. Well, that's what California, New Jersey and Virginia democratic states use. So parts of this being overblown.


BURNETT: Does that give you pause at all that what he's implying here is there is a reasonable conversation to be had if you look at what a lot of Democratic states have already done on verification?

ELIAS: Look, Erin, I am the lawyer who sued Georgia over their signature matching verification law that led to Donald Trump claim that the settlement that I entered into Georgia was somehow collusive, that somehow, if you could imagine, me and Brian Kemp thought together. It was crazy thing.

Georgia settled that case because their previous method of verification was rejecting a lot of lawful votes. But to George's credit, we entered that settlement and what we saw was dramatic decreases in erroneous rejections. There was an audit of one of the counties that showed that there were still some people's ballots that were wrongfully rejected, but far reduced and most importantly show that there was no fraud.

So yes, are there states that use alternative methods of verification in addition to signatures? Yes. But the idea that this shift is being made, because somehow Georgia is trying to be a leader of voting rights is just not correct. They're doing this because they are trying to stop people from voting and stop people from having their ballots counted and particularly black voters.

BURNETT: All right. Marc, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

I want to go now to Van Jones, former Special Adviser to President Obama and Abby Phillip, Anchor of INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY.

So Van, how consequential do you believe the Georgia bill is?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's very consequential. First of all, the message that it sends is when African Americans follow the law and when they change the law. We follow the rules and won so they change the rules. In other words, black electoral success is inherently suspect just like an African American family, well to do driving through a neighborhood, we're going to pull you over because how in the heck are you this successful. And so for us, I think it sends a message that our success is being

punished. I think all of the groups that are suing are going to triple down on the organizing. But listen, the idea that this is being done because they're trying to help more African Americans vote is ludicrous. Just the mere idea you're going to criminalize helping voters vote by bringing water to people lets you know this is only about breaking the back of the voter drive in the south.

BURNETT: So Abby, obviously, President Biden says the Justice Department is going to look at this but what can they actually do, especially when Biden is still on the fence about getting rid of the filibuster, which would allow the voting rights bill to move through Congress. But then you've got states rights, federal rights, I mean, what can they really do?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, look, I think that the filibuster really looms large over all of this, because it seems pretty clear that nothing related to voting can move through the Senate unless the threshold is lowered.


But even if the threshold is lowered, there are still some democratic senators who are not onboard with the bills in their current form that Democrats are talking about. So that's a real hurdle for Democrats when they're trying to talk about putting into place federal legislation that is like a blanket over the country as basically the foundation for how voting should operate.

On top of that, there is the Voting Rights Act, which still as we sit here today is still gutted and still needs to be fixed by Congress and hasn't been fixed in many years. That also is something that requires bipartisan cooperation.

At the moment, it seems that there is not a single Republican who is interested in even touching the issue of voting in the Senate because it is such a hot topic and such a red line for Republican base voters. Unless that problem can be fixed, I don't see how this can be moved forward, given that some moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin don't want to do this unless it's in a bipartisan fashion.

BURNETT: So Van, I want to show you the photos from last night. Again, the one of the Georgia Governor, Kemp, signing the bill, surrounded by six white men in suits. And you heard the columnist of Philadelphia paper had confirmed that it was a specific plantation which enslaved a hundred black people behind him, so that's the photo that Kemp puts out of signing this bill.

Then we also see another photo last night from Georgia. This is Democratic Georgia State Representative Park Cannon. She's being arrested and forcibly removed for knocking on Kemp's door after he signed the bill because he did it behind closed doors. She's been charged with two misdemeanors and she tweeted, quote, "I am not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression." How significant are these two images, Van? JONES: Well, look, they tell the whole story. Locked out of the

process, attempting to participate, being criminalized, she's knocking on the door, she's an elected representative, she's not kicking anybody. She's not threatening anybody. She's not even doing a sit in. She's literally knocking on a door and a low-level Capitol Hill police officer says don't knock on the door again. And she knocks on the door again and they literally arrest her, criminalizing her attempt to participate in the process and that is what the bill that is being signed is doing.

Listen, the souls to the polls' efforts, those things, to go after that is to criminalize our ability to participate in the process.

BURNETT: So Abby, then President Trump goes on Fox News last night, continuing to spread the lie. Here is what he said last night about the January 6th insurrection.


TRUMP: It was zero threat, right from the start, it was zero threat. Look, they went in, they shouldn't have done it. Some of them went in, and they're hugging and kissing the police and the guards.


BURNETT: Of course, this is what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: F**l the blue. F**k the blue.


BURNETT: The mob attacked officers, punched them, officers died. They died. But the President of the United States, the former president characterizes this as hugging and kissing the police. What is his goal here, Abby?

PHILLIP: This is a person who has spent years and years trying to tell people not to believe what they see and hear with their own eyes and instead believe the lies that he is telling them. And he's being aided and abetted by Fox, which gives him that platform doesn't push back and in fact amplifies it.

And so the goal here is to lie to people and what's happening also, I think, as a corollary to that is that he's being helped also by many Republican members of Congress, people like Sen. Ron Johnson who similarly talks about how he wasn't afraid of these Capitol rioters and he would have been afraid of Black Lives Matter protesters. These are the kinds of things that are an attempt to whitewash what happened on January 6th. And it's dangerous not only because of what it leads to in terms of efforts to rollback voting rights, but also our national memory about that horrible time needs to be preserved, because it would really be a tragedy if something like that were to happen again and there you have a former president pretending like it never happened at all. BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Abby and Van.

And next, lawmakers now demanding former Trump administration officials' hand over the documents from the days leading up to the insurrection. So what are they looking for?

Plus, I'm going to talk to a survivor from the Boulder mass shooting. She was working at the grocery store. She lost friends and co-workers in the attack. Will she ever be able to work there again?

And Biden responding to a CNN exclusive. Former CDC Director Robert Redfield has come out and said it. He told Sanjay that he believes the coronavirus originated from the lab in Wuhan, China.


What more does he have to say?



BURNETT: Tonight, a federal judge ordering the release of two members of the Oath Keepers charged in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It comes as prosecutors released new photos of one of the suspects at a firearms class where they say she received 'tactical training' just four months before the riot. Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, judges are questioning the justification for keeping prominent members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers behind bars.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I lost my ability to make a living because ...


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Connie Meggs guarded Roger Stone at this pro- Trump rally in Florida back in December and she was charged with conspiracy for coordinating with her fellow members of the Oath Keepers to plot the Capitol attack.

But today, a D.C. judge released her to home confinement saying, "There is no evidence that she herself assaulted any police officer or even made her way into the Senate Chamber. She was not a recruiter and not a leader like her husband is alleged to be. She is an otherwise law-abiding person."

But prosecutors presented these photos in their attempt to prove that Meggs and her husband Kelly, who's still being held in jail are dangerous. Prosecutors say they took a class on how to attack and kill people as part of tactical firearms training in Leesburg, Florida. Meggs' attorney rebutted that claim saying it was simply a two-hour firearm safety class from a well-known organization.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over in the Capitol.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Donovan Crowl has also been released to home confinement despite these videos of him inside the Capitol. He is now the fourth member of 10 Oath Keepers charged in the conspiracy case that Federal Judge Amit Mehta has released from jail prior to trial. The judge defending his decision saying, "Liberty is the norm for pre- trial."

Another Federal Judge in Pennsylvania said he believes Zachary Rehl who prosecutors say as President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Proud Boys could be released on conditions of home confinement. But Rehl will remain locked up for now.


The decisions highlight the delicate balance judges now need to strike especially after the federal appeals court in D.C. advised judges to differentiate between those who actually assaulted police officers and broke through windows doors and barricades or conspired with or coordinated those plans and those who cheered on the violence or entered the Capitol after others cleared the way.


BURNETT: So Jessica, I mean, the court hearings today that you're reporting on, lawmakers are now demanding documents from former Trump administration employees. Do you know what they're looking for?

SCHNEIDER (on camera): Yes. So this is Congress really taking over here. They want documents about what Trump's White House knew about the plans to attack the Capitol. They really, Erin, want all communications before January 6th, anything that discusses the counting of the Electoral College votes and any discussion about the potential protests or the possible violence. And they want communications after January 6th and they're demanding a number of documents from people and agencies and that includes Trump's former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows.

So of course, Erin, if they get these documents, it could potentially shed some light on whether Trump's team knew that there could be violence that day.

BURNETT: Right. Which, of course, goes a long way when you think about possible charges. Thank you, Jessica.

And next, she was working at the Boulder supermarket when a gunman opened fire, murdering 10 people. She escaped. She joins us next with what she saw and what she remembers about the victims.

Plus, the former Director of the CDC speaks to CNN about a stunning theory about where the coronavirus came from.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory.




BURNETT: Tonight, 30 seconds, that's how quickly Boulder police now say Officer Eric Talley was able to lead the team of police officers into the King Soopers grocery store. After he first arrived on the scene, 30 seconds. Think about how many lives he saved.

Police officers saying that no one else was shot after Talley confronted, they suspect and lost his life. He truly was a hero. All these lives he saved.

It comes as the Boulder district attorney announces that more charges will be filed against the suspected gunman.

Shimon Prokupecz is OUTFRONT from Boulder.

Shimon, what do you know about additional charges?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's attempted murder charges. You know, Erin, you mentioned, the heroic efforts of Officers Talley and the other officers who went in with him. The gunman, the district attorney said today fired at those officers and as a result, the suspected gunman here is going to likely face additional attempted murder charges.

He also made face charges in connection with some of the victims inside, the people who were just inside shopping, the store workers. Those people obviously also face the threat and then he could potentially face charges in connection with that threat, Erin.

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

I wanted to go now to Boulder, to Emily Giffen. She worked at the King Soopers grocery store.

And, Emily, obviously, you survived the mass shooting. I'm so sorry for what you went through, indescribable horror. Tell me what you did see that day.

EMILY GIFFEN, KING SOOPERS EMPLOYEE AND SHOOTING WITNESS, LOST 3 CO- WORKERS: Thank you. I was sitting in front of the store on a break with this little girl next to me and we heard this loud popping sound and we looked at each other and grabbed each other and I don't think it's fireworks. And we saw a gentleman running in the middle of the street to get away

and he got shot. Another time, and then when he fell, the gunman shot him for 5 more times in the back when he was on the ground. He honestly looked like a middle-aged guy with a dad bod.

And we just -- she looked at me and said, what do we do? And we just grabbed each other, and I said, we run. And so, we all just ran around the back of the store and we were met by a bunch of employees flooding out of the bat dock and everyone scampered up this hill.

It was really hard because it was covered in snow and muddy and slippery and then everyone just ran around the other side of the shopping center inside the Whole Foods, and we all just kind of huddled up there a little bit.

BURNETT: I mean, you saw someone come out of your grocery store, where you work, it's also across the street, I know, from where you live. You look at it every day. For somebody to come out and treat someone and then when they went down to them and shot multiple times in the back, it's traumatic.

I truly can't imagine it and what you must see when you shut yours. But when you open them, you live across the street, you look at the store, how are you managing this?

GIFFEN: It is pretty rough. I live in -- I'm in a front facing apartment, so my view out of my window is this shopping center and the parking lot. And it's definitely really hard to be so close to it but being able to walk over to the memorial multiple times a day has really helped me. Seeing all the flowers and the love and the support, it's been really great.

BURNETT: And I know that 3 of the victims where your coworkers. Benny Stong, Rikki Olds and Teri Leiker, and I know you say Denny was like a little brother, you had posted a video of him at work of you guys goofing off a bit together.

What is your memory of him?

GIFFEN: Denny, every time you -- every time you saw him, no matter if you just walk past through a second ago, he would always go, whoo, are we having fun yet?


He's a really high-spirited kid, passionate but, you know, always there to listen and be there for you, and always trying to make a joke, whether they were funny or not. There was one day, he saved amounts they found in the store, took it to a park far away and he was so proud of himself and so happy about it, just showing off to everybody.

BURNETT: I know, I know you were so fond of him.

Rikki Olds, another one of your colleagues, you say she was always so happy. She looks that when this picture. Tell me about her. GIFFEN: She was really quirky. She used the just to silly little

dances and always try to make people laugh. She was definitely always the person you go to when your happy or your mad or you just want to be with Rikki. She was just a goofy really fun, smart, loving person. She actually just got a brand-new tattoo the other day that she was so proud of, it's pretty cool.

Yeah, she's really great. She definitely didn't deserve any of this.

BURNETT: Emily, I know that this is very hard for you to think about at this point, but what do you do now? Do you think you will return to work at the grocery store if it reopens?

GIFFEN: So I had all actually already put my two weeks in, April 2nd was going to be my last day. There is a part of me now that honestly doesn't want to leave, that wants to come back and be with this people who I went through this with.

But there's a part of me that never even wants to go into a store again. And it's hard to think about what I'm going to do. I don't know if there's even space to make those decisions in life. But, yeah, there is definitely a part of me that wants to go back and be with my same friends and community again.

BURNETT: Emily, thank you very much.

GIFFEN: Of course, thank you.

BURNETT: Emily Giffen, as I said, worked at the King Soopers store and three of her friends died and she saw that horrific murder of the man outside.

OUTFRONT next, the president responding to an exclusive CNN interview with the former director of the CDC who believes the coronavirus did come from that lab in China.

Plus, Biden's message to Republicans, get on board or step aside. But is this strategy going to work? Our man who has built himself a great unifier, John Kasich, is OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: New tonight, President Biden declining to weigh in on the origins of COVID-19.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have theories, but I'm not a scientist. I'm going to wait until scientific community makes that judgment.


BURNETT: Biden's comments come after former CDC director, Robert Redfield, told our own Sanjay Gupta in a new CNN documentary, that he believes COVID-19 originated from a lab in Wuhan, even though, obviously, there has been no formal evidence to support the theory.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: If I had to guess, this virus started transmitted in September and October in Wuhan.


REDFIELD: That's my own -- it's only opinion. I'm allowed to have opinions now.

You know, I'm of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped. Other people don't believe that. That's fine. Science will eventually figure it out. It's not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect a laboratory worker.

GUPTA: It's also not unusual for that type of research to be occurring in Wuhan. The city is a widely known center for viral studies in China, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which has experimented extensively with bat coronaviruses.

It is a remarkable conversation I feel like we're having here because you are the former CDC director, and you were the director at the time this was all happening.

For the first time, the former CDC director is stating publicly that he believes this pandemic started months earlier than we knew and that it originated not at a wet market but inside a lab in China.

These are two significant things to say, Dr. Redfield.

REDFIELD: That's not implying any intentionality, you know? It's my opinion, right?

But I am a virologist. I have spent my life in virology. I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human and at that moment in time the virus came to the human became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human-to-human transmission.

Usually when it goes from a zoonotic to a human, it takes a while for it to figure how to become more and more efficient in human-to-human transmission.


BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible, it's incredible that he's saying that he's coming out and saying it. Because Chinese officials and state media, you know, they're now increasingly pushing ridiculous so- called multiple origin theory. It came from a lot of places.

It's amazing that more than a year after the outbreak began, we still don't have a definitive answer of the origin of this virus. China is not letting anybody find out anything. And over 500,000 U.S. deaths alone later, more than 2.75 million people dead worldwide, we need an answer.

OUTFRONT now, Josh Rogin. He's done extensive reporting on the origins of the virus. He's the author of "Chaos Under Heaven: America, China and the Battle for the 21st Century.

Josh, I think just watching that clip, anybody can understand how significant it is for the former CDC chief to say this, right? He saying it's my opinion, but I'm a virologist. I've spent my life doing this. The theory out there is B.S., it couldn't have been more clear that he saying, the theory that it came from a bat and suddenly boom, the most infectious thing we've seen in 100 years.

He was there from day one of the pandemic. How significant is it that he's choosing to say this publicly?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it changes the whole narrative and frankly, I think we have to take his words very seriously because Robert Redfield knows whereof he speaks. He was there. He was the head of the CDC.

He had access to the information, he says it's just as opinion, but he's in a position to know. He's also train virologist, you know, and he has no reason to bail out the Trump administration on their theory for their sake. He's doing this because this is what he believes happened.

And it's clear from the interview, if you just listen to it, that he's been wanting to say this for a long time, but he was waiting for the Trump administration to leave, so it wouldn't be seen as a Trump administration gambit, and that's really the problem with the lab accident theory, is that it was associated with Donald Trump and discredited because it was associated with Donald Trump.

But now, we have the Biden administration confirming the Trump administration's information about suspicious activity in the lab.


And we have Robert Redfield, the head of the CDC, saying, he's pretty sure where he thinks, based on his professional analysis that this lab accident theory is the most likely theory.

BURNETT: I mean, you have a labs that coronaviruses and that's what it does and Wuhan and that's where it comes. That alone would be enough to have everyone have to just honestly say, that that would be the most likely theory, but look at everything and see.

But then on top of it, there's what were you reported in April on the State Department cable from U.S. embassy official, all the way back in January 2018, about this lab in Wuhan that focuses on coronaviruses and you report the cable says, during interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted that you lab as a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high containment laboratory.

And the cable also warned that the lab is doing dangerous research on coronavirus in bats.

So, they're doing research on coronavirus in bats, and you have study come into the U.S. government saying they are not doing it with the protocol they should, this is dangerous. And then, boom, a virus comes out of Wuhan that is a coronavirus.

Redfield seems to back up what you are reporting on.

ROGIN: Right. And it just shows that there are a lot of people inside of the government, for years with concerns about this lab, and the risk of coronavirus research there doing. Now, we should be clear, we don't know how the virus originated. We need more investigation of all of the possible theories.

But what Robert Redfield is saying here is that this lab accident theory is the one that needs more investigation. And he knows when he saying that, he's coming out the WHO investigation, which has already concluded, for some odd reason they, don't want to look into that, they don't want to think that the lab was involved.

So, you know, he's smart enough to know, when he says this publicly, he's calling the Chinese government liars. He saying that they're hiding what they are doing, or implying they're hiding what they're doing, and by the way, that matches with the Trump administration said, and what the Biden administration confirmed.

So, you know, you could say, there's no firm proof of a lab accident theory, which is true as far as it goes, but there's no proof or evidence of the other theories either. So, you know, we have to sort of take Trump out of it, depoliticize the issue, and get to the bottom of this so we can prevent the next pandemic.

BURNETT: Well, as I said, this pandemic and what happened and how China is handled, their economy surging and ours could be one of the most important moments in the history of the world economy, and our future. So, it's pretty darn important get to the bottom of it.

Josh, thank you.

ROGIN: Absolutely.

BURNETT: And don't miss Sanjay's special report, "COVID War: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out". It is Sunday night at 9:00. That interview and so much more.

And next, Biden banking that Republican voters will back his $3 trillion infrastructure plan, and it will hurt Republican legislators who oppose him at the polls. Is that how Governor John Kasich sees it?

Plus, families say farewell to loved ones who lost their lives in the Atlanta spas shootings.


BURNETT: Tonight, the White House, with a tough ultimatum for congressional Republicans -- work with President Biden, or get out of the way.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: His objective, and his hope, is to work with Republicans. It's really on Republicans in Congress to decide if they're going to be part of the solution, or if they're going to be part of obstruction. So, he's leaving it up to them to make the decision on what role they want to play in history.


BURNETT: And Psaki there reiterating the aggressive posture that Biden took during his press conference.


BIDEN: I think my Republican colleagues will have to determine whether or not we want to work together.

I'm just going to move forward, and take these things as they come.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, former Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, who is also, of course, a former congressman, and ran for president.


BURNETT: So, Governor, you called Biden a, quote, unifier. You endorsed his candidacy at the Democratic Convention.

Look, it's a bad situation in Washington, but he's made a decision that he's going to move ahead, and he's going to use reconciliation, he's going to pass $2 trillion here, $3 trillion there, that if he can do it without them, he'll do it.

Do you think it's smart of him to do that without Republicans, politically?

KASICH: No. I don't think it is smart at all.

By the way, the Republicans went into see him at the White House, it was the first meeting he said he had.


KASICH: He was at $1.9 trillion, they came in at $600 billion, and they said they had a good meeting, and then Biden staff came out and said, the meeting didn't mean anything. We're not changing anything.

There was no serious negotiation on the part of the administration, and I'm not sure how serious the Republicans were.

But the fact is, they passed a $1.9 trillion package without one single Republican.

Now, if you're so great at bipartisanship, you can't even get one Republican to vote with you?

So, now, they're saying, either you get on our train, or we're just going to ignore you.


KASICH: Oh, come on, Erin, we know that doesn't make any sense. I was a governor, I had difficult times passing things. I was a congressman, I was the one who negotiated the budget agreement in '97 that got us to a budget balance.

It's not my way or the highway. It's about being patient. It's about appealing to people's conscience. It's about bringing them along, and unlocking them when they get stuck. OK? I get that.

BURNETT: No, I get that. Look, I also get how people have acted on both sides in Washington, and Biden said he wasn't going to do that. So, I hear you on that.

But his logic here is that he is actually doing what Republicans want, Republican voters, right? The COVID relief bill was very popular, of course, direct payments, but it was very popular among Republicans.

So, he's trying to basically thread this needle of, Republicans like what I'm doing, it's just the Republican legislators that don't. Here's how he put it.



BIDEN: I would like Republican, elected Republican support, but what I know I have now is electoral support from Republican voters, Republican voters, who agreed with what I'm doing. I may not be able to unite Congress, but I can unite the country.


BURNETT: As I said, the COVID relief bill had those direct payments, the new bill is $3 trillion. It's got a lot of things a lot of people may like, but it doesn't have direct payments. He says it's basically going to hurt elected Republicans on Election Day, because Republican voters support him.

Is that the right gamble, politically?

KASICH: We're a long way to go. But Edmund Burke said, I don't just owe you my toil, I owe you may judgment.

As a politician, we talked about courage. You got to use your judgment.

Let me ask you the question.


You know, you think of all the money that's being spent, $1.9 trillion now, all the money that was spent when Trump was president, where, by the way, the Democrats filibustered when they didn't like the fact that Trump was trying to pass that stuff.


KASICH: Now, we're going to have another $2 trillion, another $3 trillion, another $4 trillion?

Let me ask you a question. What are your kids going to have to pay? We haven't repealed the law of gravity. We are spending money like there's no tomorrow.

So, you know, look, I understand with Joe -- I endorsed the guy, OK? I think his tone has been good.

But I think that they can do a better job of reaching out to Republicans, and they better be careful about the spending they're doing, because we have not repeal the laws of gravity.


KASICH: So, Erin, I wish him all the best, I will help him however I can, but at the end of the day, I got to call them like I see them. They both have movement that has to be done in order to make progress down there. Thanks, Erin. Thanks for letting me say this.

BURNETT: Governor, I appreciate your time, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much, as always, Governor.

KASICH: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, tonight, a painful farewell for victims of the Atlanta area spas shootings.


BURNETT: A day of mourning and remembrance as funerals are held for two victims of the Atlanta area spas shootings today.

Xiaojie Tan owned one of the spas and treated like friends according to her former husband. She died just days shy of her 50th birthday. She had worked hard to save money for her retirement, retirement that will never come.


JAMIE WEBB, XIAOJIE TAN'S DAUGHTER: I'll tell her that I love her and I just wonder -- and maybe give her a hug. MICHAEL WEBB, XIAOJIE TAN'S FORMER HUSBAND: We really have to

quarantine ourselves to avoid being gunned down in the grocery store, or schools, our businesses, our places of worship. Must our flags always flight half mass. We as a country should be ashamed.


BURNETT: Xiaojie was a Korean-born American citizen, a mother and a grandmother. She was an amazing and kind hearted woman, according to her son. We all grieve with families and loved ones of these two women and all the victims of these horrible shootings.

And coming up tonight at 9:00, don't miss CNN's special town hall, "Afraid: Fear in America's Communities of Color".

Anderson starts now.