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Death Toll Rises In Concert Tragedy As 9-Year-Old Dies In Hospital; President Biden To Sign $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Today; Thousands Of Migrants Attempt To Cross Border In Dramatic Standoff. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 15, 2021 - 07:30   ET



NAMRATA SHAHANI, SISTER OF ASTROWORLD CONCERT VICTIM BHARTI SHAHANI: You know, it's hard to think of death as such a permanent thing. Like, it's pretty insane to me. Like, how she was with me a few days ago and now she's just not there.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You know, it's incredibly -- it's incredibly hard to imagine the permanence of it and I know that you want her to be there with you every moment that you would normally talk to her.

Mohit, you are Bharti's cousin. You were incredibly close.


KEILAR: You were like a brother to her. What does accountability --

BELLANI: Yes. Basically --

KEILAR: -- look like to you?

BELLANI: So, what does accountability -- what was the question again -- sorry?

KEILAR: I was -- I wanted to ask you as you were searching for answers about how this happened, what does accountability look like? Who are you -- who are you focused on as you are wondering how this could happen to your cousin who was like a sister to you?

BELLANI: I think we're focused on figuring out how all of this happened, really. I think it was a series of very unfortunate events that led up to this incident. There were mistakes made by the organizers, the venue, the headliner, who she was actually most excited to see.


BELLANI: There were a lot of problems being the scenes. And we just want to know what happened? Like, why exactly -- why exactly this happened and make sure that it never happens again to anyone because this is a feeling that no one should ever experience. SHAHANI: Go through.

BELLANI: It's absolutely terrible.

SHAHANI: Exactly. Like, I feel like no family should ever see what we're having to see today, and they should never feel as broken as we feel in this moment because --

BELLANI: I think both of us just feel very numb --


BELLANI: -- and like -- I mean, it still doesn't feel real that she's --

SHAHANI: Yes, it doesn't at all.

BELLANI: -- that she's gone from us.


KEILAR: No, and I think that makes sense.


KEILAR: Sorry, go on.

SHAHANI: Yes, sorry. I was going to say I think it's very, very hard on my mom and dad, obviously, along with my younger sister.

But also, Blue, her pet. Like, he is very depressed all the time now. Like, you know, he's -- he obviously doesn't understand, right, the concept of death, so he's always looking for her. Whenever we have visitors, he's always jumping on them, trying to sniff her scent on them. So, I feel like that's also going to be extremely hard on him because she was like the closest to him.


Look, it speaks to her absence in all of your lives and I'm so sorry -- I'm so sorry for your loss, Namrata and Mohit. Thank you so much for being with us and for sharing a little bit about your sister and your cousin. We really appreciate it.

BELLANI: Thank you.

SHAHANI: Thank you.

BELLANI: Just one last thing.


BELLANI: I think all we both want is just --

SHAHANI: Justice for Bharti. BELLANI: Yes, justice for Bharti and justice for the other nine

people now who lost their lives at that festival, if you can even call it that.


KEILAR: You are part of an army searching for that, both of you. Thank you, again.

SHAHANI: Thank you.

BELLANI: Yes, thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The former national security adviser says the United States should have just one religion. So much for the whole Constitution and that whole freedom thing.

And an airline employee hospitalized after a passenger hit her. Details on this new incident of violence, ahead.



BERMAN: Just hours from now, President Biden will sign the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. Both Democrats and Republicans will be at today's signing ceremony at the White House.

Joining us now is Energy Sec. Jennifer Granholm. Secretary, thank you so much for being with us.

Look, we learned overnight that former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is going to be in charge of implementing the spending from this. How will that work, and what do you think gets hit first?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: Well, first of all, I think it's great because Mitch Landrieu, having been somebody in charge of spending on the ground in Louisiana, I think is fantastic having somebody who has that experience.

When you say what's going to get hit first, what do you mean?

BERMAN: What are you going to tackle first in terms of the infrastructure -- $1.2 trillion?

GRANHOLM: Oh, what's going to get tackled first?


GRANHOLM: Yes, yes. I mean, so John, as you're probably aware, this is a bill that is spent over five to 10 years.

Some of the requirements will go out quickly because they may be by formula. So, for example, some of the road funding. Already, there is a path to get that funding out the door to states, and that will be easier. Some of it is a little bit longer-term because you -- they may be new programs. So, for example, at the Department of Energy, there's a number of demonstration programs -- you know, very large hubs associated with decarbonizing fossil fuels, for example. Those will take a little bit longer because they require some planning and preparation.

This is not just about shovel-ready projects. This is about shovel- worthy projects over the next 10 years.

BERMAN: How important is it that this is a bipartisan signing today? There will be some Republicans there. Others, like Mitch McConnell, very busy -- too busy -- can't be there today. But at least some Republicans are. How important is that?

GRANHOLM: I -- you know, we are just in such a dang polarized world -- country -- that it is like almost a bomb for the soul that there is actually a hugely significant bill that has bipartisan support.


Why is it controversial? Why is it something that's a negative -- that somebody who votes in favor of roads and bridges for their community because they see it as being a positive -- because it is a positive -- that they end up being the subject of threats and just horrible acrimony?

So, I just -- I -- I'm going to personally, and I think a lot of people there today will revel in the fact that this is a bipartisan moment. That we can actually come together as a nation even as we are retreating to our corners out across the country.

BERMAN: So, gas prices in California -- I have to look down this. The number is so big I shouldn't even need my glasses. Four dollars and 67 cents for a gallon in California. That's more than it's ever been there.

And you don't have to go to California for high gas prices. They're high around the country.

What's the administration doing today to address that problem.

GRANHOLM: Yes. I mean, John, the president is all over this. He really is very concerned about inflation, obviously, and the price of gasoline because that's the most obvious manifestation of it.

And as you know, no president controls the price of gas. Oil is sold on a global market. It is, as we see -- as everybody's coming out of COVID there is a huge increase in demand. The supply has not caught up.

So, the president is looking at the limited tools that he has. I have nothing to announce on this but know he is looking and evaluating all of his options, limited though they may be in the United States.

BERMAN: Well, what are some of those tools? I mean, look, there's the strategic petroleum reserve. There is encouraging production. There is asking for greater supply from OPEC. What of those looks the most --


BERMAN: -- attractive?

GRANHOLM: Yes, and he -- yes. I mean, he has been encouraging -- just to be clear, there -- this is a short-term question because the president really -- ultimately, the best solution is to build an economy on clean energy so that you don't have to rely on the volatility of fossil fuels. And that's really what his Build Back Better agenda and the bill he's signing today is all about.

But we do have this short-term issue and we don't want people hurting in the midst of it. He has encouraged production. People should be producing in the U.S. They should be producing globally.

He's gone after OPEC and asked them to increase. They have said that they will not be doing that.

So, the president wants to see an increase in supply and he has called upon that.

And he has this other tool, which is the strategic petroleum reserve. He's evaluating that as well.

The Energy Information Agency, which is the objective agency that the government has to project and forecast what the cost of fuels is going to be, has said that there will be a reduction in cost in both oil and gasoline over the next few months. He wants to see whether that's going to be taking hold. I'm sure he's evaluating that.

Ultimately, though, the solution is the long-term solution, which is to invest in clean solutions so that we don't -- we can create our own energy here that we are not reliant upon OPEC, and that we are not hurting the planet -- helping to heal it.

BERMAN: Where do you expect prices to be one month from now?

GRANHOLM: Well, I can only tell you what the Energy Information Agency says, and they say at the beginning of December, the price will be around $3.16. But again, projecting the cost and movement of oil is challenging. I'll just say that. Lots of things can change. But that's what they are saying at the moment.

BERMAN: If they're right, that would be a drop from now. I mean, do you have reason to believe that's true?

GRANHOLM: Yes, yes. I mean, today, if you look at the price of crude per barrel, the -- it has dropped from about $85.00 per barrel down in some areas to about $80.00. So there has been a drop in crude and crude presages the drop in gasoline prices.

But again, it is really sometimes more of an art than a science to predict these -- the future of these commodities.

BERMAN: Energy Sec. Jennifer Granholm, we know it's not easy. We know gas prices are something that's a struggle for every administration. But you are with us and this is --

GRANHOLM: It's hard, for sure.

BERMAN: -- this is within your umbrella. So, we appreciate you joining us and discussing it today.

GRANHOLM: You bet. You bet -- thanks.

KEILAR: We have some breaking news right now on the standoff at the border between Poland and Belarus. New video from just moments ago shows some of the thousands of migrants hoping to cross out of Belarus confronted with razor wire. Also, water cannons at the border here.

CNN has teams on both sides of the border. Fred Pleitgen for us in Poland.

Let's go first, though, to Matthew Chance. He is in Belarus. Matthew, describe the situation behind you.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, some dramatic developments over the course of the last couple of hours.


The camp full of more than 2,000 people that have gathered there over the past week or so, essentially emptied out. People gathering their things, packing up their tents, putting it on their backs, and coming here. And you can see there is a whole load of people -- hundreds of people here behind me that have camped out right against the razor wire of the border between Belarus and Poland. They're desperate to get across.

They're convinced that the Pols are going to open this border up and let them through. But take a look what the response of the Polish authority has been. Razor wire, military police deployed there, a huge blue water cannon with its barrels pointed towards the people on the ground. And, of course, a whole line of police dressed in riot gear as well.

So, that's not good news for them. There had been a rumor circulating in the camp that they would be allowed through, but this is a categorical message from the Pols that that's not happening.

Let's take a look now at what these people have been through and the desperation of their plight.


CHANCE (voice-over): With each day that passes, this refugee crisis is getting worse. Desperate migrants here in Belarus are camped against the razor wire set up by Poland to keep them out. Their dream of a new life in Europe in sight but out of reach.

From above, amid choking thick smoke from fires to keep warm, you can see how more than 2,000 migrants from countries like Iraq and Syria are stretched along this frontier, facing an emergency exclusion zone on the other side.

Migrants like Amid (ph) and his 15-year-old daughter Reza (ph) from Iraqi Kurdistan.


CHANCE (on camera): Your country?

REZA: Country dangerous.

CHANCE (on camera): Yes.

REZA: Country dangerous. No water, electric -- no electricity.

CHANCE (on camera): Yes, no electricity.

REZA: No water. Dangerous.

CHANCE (on camera): Yes, and this is Kurdistan?

REZA: Kurdistan.

CHANCE (on camera): Iraqi Kurdistan.

CHANCE (voice-over): It's getting dangerous here, too. Already, Putin's Russia is backing its Belarusian ally. U.S. officials accuse Belarus of weaponizing these migrants in revenge for human rights sanctions.

CHANCE (on camera): There is a blame game being played here. The West, European Union, Poland is blaming Belarus for encouraging these migrants to come here in the first place and then pushing them here towards the border. Belarus and Moscow are blaming the Pols for refusing to let them in. But it's these people stuck in the middle that are actually paying the price.

CHANCE (voice-over): A point with which they seem to agree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attention! Attention! Attention from the police in (INAUDIBLE). If you don't follow the orders, force may be used against you.

CHANCE (voice-over): From loudspeakers across the fence, this is Poland's uncompromising message. Don't even try it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attention! Attention!

CHANCE (voice-over): But that's not stopping daily attempts to break through. Belarusian officials deny helping breach the frontier but they're not stopping it.

KAYVAN (ph), MIGRANT: I want to look after for my family.

CHANCE (on camera): And how many of your family are here?

KAYVAN: Two family. CHANCE (on camera): Two families?

KAYVAN: Yes. My wife, my son, and my friend. I have three kids --

CHANCE (on camera): Right.

KAYVAN: -- and wife.

CHANCE (voice-over): Kayvan, also from Iraqi Kurdistan, tells me he's tried and failed to get past the razor wire -- forced back, he says, with tear gas and pepper spray.

KAYVAN: Now, I want to kiss for my son. My son say my God, don't kiss me because you -- after you kiss me -- my son say you kiss me, it's so bad for your face -- my son.

CHANCE (on camera): So, you -- because the tear gas and the pepper spray.

KAYVAN: Exactly, exactly. Long time, I have -- I have too many chili (ph), too many (INAUDIBLE). I want a kiss from my son. My son is like please, my God, don't kiss me.

CHANCE (on camera): And you've got the chili and the pepper.


CHANCE (on camera): But trying to get across the border, they sprayed it on you?

KAYVAN: Yes, exactly.

CHANCE (voice-over): Over the weekend, even more refugees have been flooding in, piling on the pressure. Belarusian officials tell us 5,000 people will be here in a matter of days, all desperate, freezing, and trapped.


CHANCE: They're desperate, freezing, and trapped and they're no more desperate, freezing, and trapped. Now they've moved away from that camp, I think temporarily, in this bid to try and get access to the European Union through Poland.

Look at this. The response of the Polish authorities again, flying this police helicopter to monitor the refugees that have gathered at the border.


There was this rumor that been circulating, as I mentioned, that they were going to allow them a humanitarian corridor to go through, but that's not happening at all. In fact, as well as the helicopters, there have also been messages being broadcast on loudspeakers to the people here, in English, saying don't break the law or we'll use force against you. But also, in Russia, to the Belarusian authorities as well. And what

they're saying in Russian -- the Pols -- is that look, our friends in Belarus, why are you using these people in this way? They're innocent people. Let them go home. That's the message from the Polish authorities, John -- sorry, Brianna, on the other side.

KEILAR: All right, Matthew Chance. Thank you so much for showing us what's happening there.

We want to go now to the Polish of this crisis and Fred Pleitgen, who is there in Kuznica. Fred, how heated how this situation gotten in the past few hours?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's become extremely heated. And you can see there from Matthew's side what's going on on the Belarusian side of the border.

What you have on the Polish side is that more and more police forces were being deployed on the road that you see right here. I'm at the least checkpoint that you can actually get to as media before coming to that border area. And we saw large columns of police vehicles going past here throughout the entire morning as the situation has been escalating there on the Belarusian side.

Now, of course, as Matthew pointed out, the Pols do say that they have evidence that what is going on there on the Belarusian side was instigated by Belarusian authorities. And we've actually also been in touch with some migrants who are and who were inside that camp and they also told us in text messages and audio messages as well that they were being forced by Belarusian authorities to attack the border. That they were even told to do that. That's something that the Pols have been saying as well.

Now, over the weekend, the Pols also said that Belarusian authorities also, themselves, attacked Polish forces and that they've tried to dismantle the border fence using a vehicle and used strobe lights as well to try and blind Polish forces that are trying to keep that barrier up.

Now, the U.S., the E.U., and Poland itself all accuse Belarus of organizing all of this -- of luring migrants into that country. The Pols continue to say that they are going to remain firm. They are not going to let anybody through. And, of course, are calling on the Belarusian authorities to allow those people to leave.

And on a final note, Brianna, it looks as though the European Union has scored at least a little victory in all of this. Several Middle Eastern countries are now saying they are not going to allow citizens from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan to board flights to Belarus anymore -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Well, look on the border there. Something has to give. This is not sustainable and those folks are paying the price.

Fred, Matthew, thank you so much to both of you. And just ahead, Steve Bannon about to turn himself in -- under

indictment for contempt of Congress. So, what could that mean for many other Trump allies?

BERMAN: But first, Elon Musk versus Bernie Sanders. Why the world's richest man is -- well, trying to control the senator.



BERMAN: A low blow landed in a billionaire's battle with a senator, and more bad behavior in the air. Here with that and more, "EARLY START" anchor Laura Jarrett -- Laura.


First up, the world's richest man picking fights on Twitter now, like a troll in his basement.

The latest dustup started on Saturday when Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted this. Quote, "We must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share. Period."

Well, that caught the attention of Tesla founder Elon Musk who shot back, quote, "I keep forgetting that you're still alive."

Musk has been on a tear since Sanders suggested a billionaire's tax could be the answer to help Congress pay for President Biden's economic plans.

And another flight, another fight, this time on Southwest Airlines. Shortly after boarding her flight from Dallas to New York, 32-year-old Arielle Jean Jackson had a verbal altercation with an operations agent at the back of the plane. Then, as she's leaving the flight, police say she punches another Southwest agent in the head with a closed fist.

And speaking of unruly, former attorney general Bill Barr is going on the record with an eyebrow-raising new claim about Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo. In front of the camera, she's given voice to plenty of election-related conspiracy theories. But it turns out in private some of her behavior has been no less disturbing.

In excerpts recently released from this upcoming book "Betrayal," Jonathan Karl writes that last November Bartiromo called Barr to complain that the DOJ hadn't done anything to stop the Democrats from the election. Now, to be clear, this is someone who used to be a very well-respected financial journalist, now acting as a spokesperson for the former president's lies.

Barr told Karl, quote, this: "She called me up and she was screaming. I yelled back at her. She's lost it."

Bartiromo has yet to respond to Barr's claim, but Fox isn't denying that the call happened. A spokesperson for Fox, instead, says it was Barr who was being aggressive.

And finally, here, an 11-year-old girl is the only survivor of a plane crash in Michigan that killed four people on Saturday. This twin- engine light commuter plane crashed near Beaver Island at the northern end of Lake Michigan. The cause of that crash is still under investigation, John.

BERMAN: That is sad.

Laura Jarrett, thank you very much --


BERMAN: -- for that.

KEILAR: Videos of people throwing pandemic tantrums on airplanes have been all over social media. But there is also a fake video that's gone viral this month and it appears to show a woman demanding to see a fellow passenger's vaccination card.

CNN's Daniel Dale, our fact-checker, joining us now to break down why the video actually isn't what it appears to be. Tell us about this.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: So, this video has more than 60 million views on social media. It's mega-viral. And the comments show that a whole lot of these viewers think it's real.

In fact, it is fake. This is staged content professionally shot by a director, including paid actors. It was commissioned by a content creator known as Prince Ea, who does this kind of thing and makes this kind of video just for clicks.

KEILAR: Just for clicks -- and, indeed, there have been a lot, so it's working, right?

OK, so another claim being made is that Colorado's governor is mandating that hospitals don't have to treat people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19. Tell us about this one.

DALE: This is also not true. So, Colorado's governor did issue an executive order but that order does not even mention vaccination status. What it says is that hospitals that are at capacity or reasonably anticipating reaching capacity are allowed to transfer existing patients or direct potential new patients to other hospitals that have more capacity to treat them.

Now, because most COVID-19 patients who do reach the hospital are unvaccinated, it's possible that unvaccinated people will be disproportionately affected by this. But again, it does not explicitly say anything about vaccination at all.

KEILAR: And then, there's a conservative website that has published an article -- this happened last week -- claiming that Pfizer's CEO Albert Bourla was arrested, charged with fraud for his role in deceiving customers on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is obviously totally not true. DALE: It just -- this is fake news in the traditional pre-Trump sense. It's completely made up. And there's a whole lot of this nonsense about famous people being arrested swirling in the fringe right-wing online sphere from President Biden to people like Tom Hanks. So, be skeptical if you see something on your Facebook feed, for example, about someone famous getting dramatically arrested.

KEILAR: And then, tell us about this clip that's circulating on social media.