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By 50-49 Vote, Senate Passes Biden's $1.9 Trillion COVID Relief Plan; New York Governor Announces Record-High Single-Day Vaccinations; More Than A Dozen States Now Without Mask Mandates; Cuomo Accuser Charlotte Bennett: I Was "Terrified" During Second Meeting With Governor; NYT & WSJ: Cuomo Aides Altered Data To Lower COVID Nursing Home Deaths By Nearly Half; Officials Investigating Communication Between Capitol Rioters & Lawmakers As a Former Trump Official Faces Charges. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired March 6, 2021 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Yes, absolutely. Everyone, everyone. I love Bernie, we love, you know, you have to look for -- at people for what they're -- what -- look for the good in people. And if we couldn't all come together, we wouldn't get this done. Any one of us could have not had it done, OK? So I am -- I have nothing bad to say in answer to your question about any single member of my caucus.
How could you when you got 50 votes. And by the way, all those tough amendments, they tried to put all those logs in our path on every single important vote, every Democrat voted to block those amendments. They tried to trick us in everything else. That's an amazing testament to this caucus, every single vote, you saw the votes they put forward. Not once did anyone dissent on any important vote.
And the few dissents they came to us and it was OK because it wasn't a -- it wasn't a killer amendment or we didn't need their vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to make a serious effort to get Murkowski or any of the Republicans.
SCHUMER: OK. Thank you. We hope (INAUDIBLE)
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. You're seeing --
SCHUMER: -- very good relationship with Lisa Murkowski. We hope we'll start joining us for the good of the country.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leader Schumer, next week, do you expect immigration infrastructure?
WHITFIELD: All right. Still sounding hopeful, they're saying good relationship with Lisa Murkowski. She voted no. But in the end, a 50 to 49 passage of this $1.9 trillion relief package. And you saw Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer there rather a victorious calling in a very fine day, calling it one of the most important pieces of legislation in decades. Joining me right now on the phone is Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Senator, thanks so much for being with me. You heard, you know, your Majority Leader there saying that, you know, Republicans tried to throw a lot of amendments in there and using his word saying tried to trick us, but it didn't work. So, how do you assess the road on getting to this passage?
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH) (via telephone): Clearly was a bipartisan effort, bipartisan in the sense that the American public wanted (INAUDIBLE) assistance for people that were about to be evicted in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a letter. People wanted us to move forward when reducing the child poverty rate now. People wanted the self-unemployed workers to help communities and help schools open to put shots in people's arms and kids back in school and moneys and -- money in people's pockets and people back to work.
And we succeeded the Senate didn't do it bipartisanly but the country was bipartisan, as Senator Schumer said 75 percent public support more than half of Republicans wanted it. So, we move forward and, you know, the unemployed worker in Dayton or the parents send your child to school in Norwalk doesn't care if Mitch McConnell signed off or it was bipartisan. If Senators did it bipartisanly they wanted to see results. And we did it today.
We did it over the last couple of months. And it's the -- it's the best thing -- the best thing we've done in the Senate in my career.
WHITFIELD: So now the proposal, the bill now goes back to the house. We heard Schumer there say very confidently that he believes, you know, Pelosi will be able to help get it done before it makes its way to the President for signature before that March 14th deadline where unemployment benefits run out in all so people can understand what's in this package $1400 one-time checks for cash strapped family's assistance on child care.
Assistance to local governments and also to help pay for the costs of coronavirus vaccine distribution. So, Senator Brown, could you give us an idea, what were some of the amendments that the Republicans threw out there? What will remain in this package? What was, you know, thrown out?
BROWN: Well, they threw out essentially nothing. They, you know, they -- when the arguments are on your side, the public clearly wanted help for unemployed workers, they clearly wanted help open our schools and public (INAUDIBLE) for individual taxpayers, the $1400 the public clearly supported the earned income tax credit for hard working families that are making 10 and $12.00 an hour.
Public what want to help for small businesses. And can we deliver that? So Republican amendments are typical, they were about abortion. They were about immigrants. They were about prisoners, all the kind of hot button issues, they always -- they all -- the buttons they always push when they don't have a good argument. And we were -- we were doing things that positively affect people's lives.
They were trying to change the subject they lost. The public knows what we did, and they will hear more about this but more importantly, their lives will be better. Voters in the summer of 2021, voters are going to say, you know, I voted for Joe Biden and my life got better because Democrats -- that President Biden and Democrats in the House and Senate delivered by unemployment check, delivered help for my small business.
BROWN: Help to open up our schools, kept my apartment, kept me from being affected in the middle of a pandemic. All those things were able to do. And it was because we stopped together and listened to what the public wanted.
WHITFIELD: So, this is a big victory, the first big legislative victory for this administration. And just like we heard from Senator Schumer, I imagine you too feel like this is a personal victory for you. But then there were some real discoveries made here, particularly with Joe Manchin, Senator, Democratic moderate Joe Manchin, holding things up for about 12 hours because of a provision that he thought was very important, as well.
What does this tell you about the road ahead on cohesion within the Democratic Party in the Senate and how working together can still be volatile?
BROWN: It was one hiccup after the first vote. They did, you know, negotiate and talked and all that and then there were no hiccups after we got restarted after Mitch McConnell tried to adjourn. We had no hiccups for 12 hours, we essentially did what we needed to do, held this package together, Republicans tried everything to undermine. Keep in mind, I mean, this is Mitch McConnell the Republican leaders, modus operandi, a dozen years ago, he said, my number one goal is to stop Barack Obama's from getting reelected.
Not my one -- number one goal is to provide healthcare. My number one goal is to balance the budget. My number one goal is to build transportation and infrastructure. My number one goal McConnell said over and over, was to stop Mitch -- stop Barack Obama from succeeding, that's what they're doing again, then the entire Republican conference, like sheep just followed him. But the thing is, we didn't flinch because we knew what the public wanted.
And this is a bipartisan package by any measurement because the public overwhelmingly both parties wanted it. The public doesn't care that the Senate looked a little chaotic for a few hours yesterday morning. The Senate didn't care that Mitch McConnell angrily tried to adjourn, the public cares about what we did, what these checks will mean, what it will mean to schools, what it will mean to healthcare, what it will mean to unemployed workers.
WHITFIELD: And Senator Brown, Ohio, Senator Brown, thank you so much. All the best.
BROWN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Now time for a long nap. So that Miss Brown -- Miss Tina earlier too because I know it's been a very long night. All right. So we're expecting President Biden to speak this afternoon about the passing of this landmark legislation. We'll bring that to you live as it happens. All right. Thanks again for joining me this hour. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. As we have been saying a short time ago, the U.S. Senate approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID rescue package. Here's the moment that bill passed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The yeas are 50, the days of 49 bill as amended is passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD (voice-over): That vote coming down on straight party lines 52 to 49 without any Republican support. The bill is expected to head to the President's desk for him to sign as early as next week. Obviously a huge legislative victory for the president.
CNN's Manu Raju is tracking all the developments on Capitol Hill. Manu, the White House, you know, had hoped for a bipartisan agreement. But we heard from Senator Sherrod Brown there, he says the support is bipartisan, a reflection of America not necessarily of those on Capitol Hill.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And I just tried to talk to Chuck Schumer about that very issue, about whether there are concerns that he has about pushing through this bill on a straight party line vote. And the Republicans believe this is going to be a lot like what happened in the 2010 midterms in which they took back the House in the aftermath of the great recession in which the Democrats pushed forward a stimulus plan and during the Obama years that had virtually no Republican support except for a handful in the Senate.
And they later passed the sweeping healthcare law that --during that session of congress losing the House. He contended, he has no concerns about this being as similar situation suggesting that this is not parallel in any way, saying the public overwhelmingly supports this plan. And he pointed to the number of the provisions that are indeed popular, whether it's providing stimulus checks to individuals and families.
Ensuring jobless benefits or extended money for vaccines, schools, states and cities. There are a number of things that Democrats plan to tout in the weeks ahead. The question is how effective will this be because Republicans are making the case that it absolutely will not be. That is going to be the big question the arguments, the two parties are going to take to the voters and the months and weeks ahead. We'll see how people respond here, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Indeed. All right. Thank you so much. Of course, again later on this afternoon we're expecting to hear from the President. Because this is his first legislative victory. CNN Joe John's is at the White House for us. So Joe, any reaction at all right now?
[13:10:03] JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: You know, funny we have not heard a peep out of the White House except for a tweet from the White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain who tweeted, thanks to Georgia, obviously, you know, those two Democratic senators winning that -- those final two elections that put Democrats in the position of having a 50/50 Senate. It would not have been possible to push this bill through on a straight party line vote had those two senators not been elected in those very close elections.
So, it's also funny, we are learning a little bit more, which I think we already knew about how this president operates. He operates on the phone, Senator Chuck Schumer, now just disclosing a little while ago that he did have a conversation with the president after the bill passed. And we also know that the President talks last night with the Senator from West Virginia, as they went through that 10 to 12-hour drama over unemployment benefits.
So, the President clearly on the phone a lot, not necessarily out in public so far talking. We do expect him to talk this afternoon. The question is, what for is that going to take? As you know, Fred, just about a week ago, the President did give another statement after the House of Representatives passed this bill. It was about a minute and a half straight to camera, and they turned right around and walked away.
So, we'd love to get some questions to this president when he does come out before the cameras. Also, behind the scenes we, you know, there had been some question about whether the President was going up to Delaware this week. And apparently, that is not the case. So, that is -- that's where we stand right now. And I'll let you know whenever we hear from the President.
WHITFIELD: Right. And there had been some observations that the President has yet to make -- have a news conference, whereas his, you know, other predecessors have done so rather quickly. Perhaps this is the impetus, perhaps this is what he was looking for, some sort of victory in which to use as the backdrop. some giving real purpose as to whether he is indeed going to have a real press conference upcoming.
JOHNS: That's absolutely right. And you would think that the President would have a victory lap, especially now, after this first legislative victory up on Capitol Hill, the House and the Senate, both passing this bill. Even though, yes, it is still supposed to go back to the House of Representatives. But that's just for a final vote. And I'm told from people up on the hill that they're expecting to do that on Tuesday.
But this would be a big opportunity for the President to come out and crow about this accomplishment of pushing this bill through. And it is, of course, the big start for the Biden administration in terms of legislative successes, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Joe, Johns, thanks so much at the White House. All right, I want to bring in now Nathan Gonzalez, editor and publisher of Inside Elections. OK. So, how big is this for this president? NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, considering the crisis that our country is facing, it's big, right? I mean, our country is struggling, physically, economically, mentally, you know, we need a boost. And hopefully, we can all agree that we hope that this works, right? I mean, I know Republicans are on the record, they think that it won't. But if there's one thing we can agree on, it's like, let's hope that we can get through this and that this helps us get there.
Now, ultimately, the Democrats -- first of all, the election is 21 months away, we're talking about the midterm elections. And there -- that is a -- an eternity and we have to wait and see whether this works. Democrats are confident that's going to work. But we have to see if Democrats were at more risk, I think, or they hold more responsibility because when we get to the midterms, Democrats are going to be held responsible for the state of the country.
You know, they're in control the White House, they control of both chambers of Congress. So, it's going to -- voters are going to be making their decision based on what they're doing. And so, Democrats have more at risk with this, but we just have to wait and see, you know, what -- where are we a year from now or a year and a half from now as we get close to closer to the elections?
WHITFIELD: Yes. And so, Nathan, as you examine this, what it took to get to this point with this, you know, Senate voting today. 52 to 49. What does this reveal to you about the way in which this president operates? We do know, according to Joe's, you know, reporting there that the President did reach out to Senator Joe Manchin last night or somewhere in the wee hours after, you know, that 12-hour moment because of some of the provisions that Senator Manchin wanted.
But what does this tell you about how this President is going to move forward when trying to get legislation passed?
GONZALES: I think the two big things. I think Joe Biden instinctually wants to be bipartisan. I think he wants to bring people together. But ultimately, he wants to get things done. And in this case, when it -- when it became apparent that Republicans weren't really going to go along with what Democrats wanted, they're like, we just got to vote. We just got to get it done. And that, you know, and that means keeping all of the Democrats in the tent.
GONZALES: And we also learned from this vote that because the Congress and particularly Senate is so evenly divided, everything is going to be a struggle, every vote matters. Any single senator can kind of throw a wrench in the process, or at least hold up the process, because it's so close. And so, you know, this is not going to be the first -- the first time that that we're going to see this sort of divided votes.
Have made -- the stakes might not be quite so high in terms of the overall package. But every vote is going to matter on every, you know, when we're talking about the next two years in the Senate. WHITFIELD: Does it demonstrate to you as well that this President will be hands on? I mean, we heard, you know, new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer say, you know, the plan was just right. And he credited the President for helping to craft it that way.
GONZALES: You know, I think we're seeing a mix from President Biden. I think he is -- he's been somewhat -- he's been hands on in the fact that he has senators over to the White House and having meetings and trying to, you know, bring people together in that way. He has made -- he made his thoughts known on some of the specifics of the bill, but he also left some of it up to the leaders in Congress and leaders in the Senate to hash out the details.
And so, I think we're seeing a combination which is really different than, you know, President Obama when Biden was vice president. President Obama was very hands off. I mean, he didn't want to get into the -- into the kind of partisan muck and I think that that actually hurt President Obama in terms of how long it took to get -- to get the Affordable Care Act done. But Biden is taking a more hands-on approach. Although, I, you know, I don't see him being in every single detail.
WHITFIELD: All right. Nathan Gonzales. Good to see you. Thank you so much.
GONZAELES: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up. The United States could reach herd immunity by this summer as health officials raise red flags about rolling back restrictions. We're live in Atlanta and New York, next.
WHITFIELD: All right. And now new hope for an end of the pandemic. A CNN analysis shows the US could reach herd immunity by late July through vaccinations alone and it could even come sooner closer to June depending on how many people already have some immunity to the virus. Right now, we're at just under nine percent a way to go but welcome progress. With me now Natasha Chen in Atlanta and Evan McMorris-Santoro in New York.
Natasha, you first. You're at the -- this mass vaccination site at Mercedes Benz Stadium, one of the sites trying to speed up the rollout here in Atlanta. What's happening?
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So this has been a site operated by the Fulton County Board of Health since early January, open five or six days a week, they've been averaging maybe a thousand people a day coming through here. You can see sometimes there's a line that forms over here, people come in, get their registration done at the tables.
And we can already tell over the course of the last couple of months that we've been here that the process has been streamlined, because over to the other side, when they are typically trying to get to the waiting station over there we're now seeing nobody sitting in the waiting area at all.
People are going straight on through. See those chairs in the background are empty when, you know, a few weeks ago, we were seeing that part process stall a little bit. And just a few weeks, this will get another boost of resources and predictability. FEMA has told me today that they will start their support initiative here launching March 24th. And their goal is to ramp up to 6000 doses a day, seven days a week for eight weeks.
And that means there's a predictable flow of vaccine, there are more personnel that are going to be on site. One of the things that has been helping the county board of health thus far with this operation is that they've actually got medical students helping with vaccinations. Here's Dr. David Holland, talking about how they help with that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DAVID HOLLAND, CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER, FULTON COUNTY BOARD OF HEALTH: It's a great opportunity for everyone. They're really excited. I think a lot of students, medical students, PhD, students in the health sciences have been wanting to find a way to contribute to COVID control efforts and haven't really found a way until now. And they're actually allowed to provide vaccinations under supervision. And so, we give them that opportunity. And of course, they help us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And so, also, what we're going to see in the coming week, is that teachers in Georgia along with adults with certain underlying conditions, will be able to join the groups of eligible people to get a vaccine. Of course, the current eligibility group is people 65 and older first responders and healthcare workers.
So, more and more people will become eligible. And then come March 24th with this FEMA initiative, there will be much more predictable flow of vaccine availability and hopefully that means an easier time people for people getting appointments, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, thank you, Natasha. And Evan Governor Cuomo announcing a record-high for vaccines administered in a single day. What can you tell us about that?
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. This state and this city here in New York, where I'm standing, are getting the vaccine into people's arms. Cuomo announcing yesterday 183,000 doses more than that number in just 24 hours. More than five million New Yorkers have been vaccinated so far in at least one dose. That's a really good number. It's moving pretty fast.
But to show you just how much more there is to do, let's look at this graphic really quick that shows the percentage of New Yorkers who have been vaccinated. As you can see it's around eight percent. More than 70 percent data herd immunity number. So, a lot more is going to have to happen here. And the state is expanding eligibility rapidly and setting up new sites and getting -- the getting the vaccine out is going to have to do a lot more to get to that herd immunity number, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Natasha, Evan, thanks to both of you. I appreciate it. All right. Dr. Mike Saag is the Associate Dean of Global Health at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Always good to see you, Dr. Saag.
DR. MIKE SAAG, ASSOCIATE DEAN OF GLOBAL HEALTH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA: Good to see you, Frederick.
WHITFIELD: All right. So, soon we'll have 17 states without a mask mandate. How does that potentially impact the timeline for reaching this herd immunity?
SAAG: I don't think it really affects the herd immunity status. I think we're going to get that through the vaccine. That's getting enough people with immunity to shut the virus down or shut its transmission down. The concern about the mask orders, and the release of them is that we know that they work in terms of stopping transmission. And what I think we're all concerned about is that we still have 1000 to 2000 deaths per day from coronavirus.
And that's what we're really concerned about with mask orders and releasing restaurant restrictions.
WHITFIELD: And then what's your view on whether CDC guidance is necessary on what you can and cannot do once you have been vaccinated?
SAAG: You know, that's one of the most common questions we're getting out in the field. And what happens for example, if everyone in a family or friends want to come over and they've all been vaccinated and common sense kind of rules here that you -- it's OK to get together with people when we know they've been vaccinated. And that gets us back sort of to normal, but we're not there yet.
I think it would be helpful for CDC to give some guidance on that just to make everything uniform.
WHITFIELD: And then does that vaccine in your body last a year or do we even know definitively yet?
SAAG: We don't know for sure exactly how long that immunity will last. Based on the decay rates of antibodies that we've seen in the vaccine study so far, the estimate is it will last at least a year. And we're hopeful that variants don't catch up with the vaccination. That's what the race that we're in is right now.
WHITFIELD: Like, say the flu shot, you would be able to, you know, count on it for about a year or so. All right. So, Dr. Fauci, you know, said this morning the vaccine doses should never go to waste, even if it means giving them to people who are not yet eligible. Is there a point where states, you know, should change their rollout plans to use everything they have?
SAAG: Yes, I think this is all hands on deck. And there's so many people who want to be vaccinated, it would be tragic for us to throw any vaccines away. The hard part, of course, is logistics, because we're trying to prioritize those at higher risk. But if they miss their appointments don't show up and you have leftover vaccine at the end of the day, you want to use that.
So, maybe we'll create a place or a way for people to be on standby, they get called in towards the end of the vaccination period on a given day, and they can get vaccinated. That's really important. And again, common sense.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And we do know that there have been some instances and a lot of places where they do have leftover at the end of the day, and they essentially, you know, do an all call like say if it's in a pharmacy or grocery store, and then, you know, people, you know, learn that it's available to them if they want to. And that's pretty amazing. So, as vaccinations, you know, do rise, the rate of testing seems to be dropping. Can you explain why that could be potentially problematic?
SAAG: Yes, it is problematic because we've been using the testing as an indication of how much penetration the virus has in the community. Specifically, we look at the percent positive testing rate. That assumes that people are getting tested, either just seeing if they're safe for them to go visit someone or more importantly, if they've had an exposure, did they get infected from that exposure?
When people aren't being tested widely enough, then that percent positive rate becomes a little bit more difficult to follow. The thing we'll fall back on, of course, is hospitalization. People will still go out and at all possible to keep the rates of testing up.
WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there. Thanks so much, Dr. Mike Saag, good to see you. Stay well. All right. Up next.
SAAG: Good to be back with you.
WHITFIELD: Thank you. One of Governor Cuomo's accusers relives the moment she says he crossed the line and we have that interview, next.
WHITFIELD: Hi. Welcome back.
We're expecting President Biden to speak this afternoon about the passing of the $1.9 trillion landmark COVID relief legislation. We'll bring that to you as it happens.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he supports a bill repealing his emergency executive powers related to the coronavirus pandemic. The state legislature passed the measure and will now send it to the governor's desk for his signature. This coming as we learned new details from one of the women accusing
the New York Democrat of sexual harassment.
Here's CNN's Brynn Gingras.
CHARLOTTE BENNETT, FORMER AIDE TO GOV. ANDREW CUOMO: He is a textbook abuser.
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Charlotte Bennett, the 25-year-old former staffer of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, telling CBS the man she saw as a mentor asked her to find him a girlfriend.
BENNETT: When he said he was lonely, I mentioned that his daughters had been around. And he also rejected that, and said, yeah, I love my daughters. But that's -- I want a girlfriend.
GINGRAS: Bennett held an executive assistant position in the administration last year. During one interaction with the governor, where she was tasked to take dictation, Bennett says Cuomo told her to turn here recorder off. Then the conversation turned personal.
BENNETT: Without explicitly saying it, he -- he implied to me that I was old enough for him, and he was lonely.
GINGRAS: The following day, she was called to the governor's office again, and was alone.
BENNETT: I was terrified. I was shaking. I thought, any moment, something can happen. And I have no power here.
NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS ANCHOR: Then what happens when you're with the governor?
BENNETT: He asked me a few questions about how to use his iPhone and sends me back to wait. And then finally, he calls me in and he asks if I found him a girlfriend yet.
GINGRAS: Bennett says Cuomo also seemed fixated on her history as a sexual assault survivor.
BENNETT: I think abusers look for vulnerabilities, previous traumas, the idea that maybe I'm more willing to accept behavior because I have a history of sexual violence.
GINGRAS: Cuomo's office didn't respond to CNN's request for comment on the interview. Instead, pointed us to his apology on Wednesday.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I never knew at the time I was making anyone feel un uncomfortable. And I certainly never, ever meant to offend anyone. GINGRAS: It's not the only controversy the governor is facing right
now. A second, over his administration's reporting of nursing home residents' COVID-19 related death data last year.
"The New York Times" and "Wall Street Journal," citing an internal report from June, that purportedly shows Cuomo's top aides deliberately reworked the data in an effort to lower the death toll of these residents.
CUOMO: Nothing was hidden from anyone.
GINGRAS: The handling of the information now being looked into by the U.S. attorney's office and FBI.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The consequences are going to be determined by the Justice Department. They're probing them for a reason. Because you can't lie to everybody.
GINGRAS: Cuomo's chief counsel tells CNN, "The out-of-facility data was omitted after DOH could not confirm it had been adequately verified. This did not change the conclusion of the report, which was and is that the March 25 order was not a driver of nursing infections or fatalities."
Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.
WHITFIELD: All right, up next, new fallout from the deadly insurrection on Capitol Hill. Investigators are now trying to determine if lawmakers helped the rioters as a former Trump official faces charges.
WHITFIELD: The task force charged with reviewing Capitol Hill security after the January 6th insurrection is recommending an overhaul of safety measures.
An advance copy of the report obtained by CNN calls for installing mobile fencing around the capitol complex, having a quick-reaction police force on standby when Congress is in session, and overhauling how members are protected in their home districts.
This comes as CNN has learned investigators are now looking into whether members of Congress may have helped the rioters on January 6th.
CNN's Katelyn Polantz is joining me now.
So, Katelyn, what are official saying about this investigation?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, they are now looking at lots of data, of information that they're gathering from the rioters, who were in contact with in the days before and during the insurrection.
And what we are seeing is that investigators have discovered contacts with lawmakers and rioters around January 6th and rioters potentially talking to one another about their associations with members.
Now it's not illegal to talk to someone. And so there isn't any indication right now that there are any criminal investigations or reasons for criminal investigations into members of Congress.
But this is the sort of thing that investigators pieced together as they look at all of the information, not just what happened in the building of the capitol on January 6th, but before, in the days before, especially related to pre-planning potentially.
And so last night, "The New York Times" reported that a member of the Proud Boys, they found a call with someone associated with the White House. We don't know much more about that at this time.
But that's the sort of thing that is becoming revealed to investigators as they piece together a fuller timeline of what happened leading up to and during January 6th.
WHITFIELD: Then, Katelyn, a former Trump official, who worked in the State Department, has been charged in the capitol violence. Tell us about that.
POLANTZ: That's right. People are still being arrested as they are being identified to the FBI. It's been two months.
And on Thursday, there was a man in Virginia -- his name is Federico Klein. He was arrested on Thursday night, put in jail overnight.
And in his court papers, the FBI, it was able to identify him as a -- someone who had worked for the Trump campaign in 2016, and then who had become a political appointee, midlevel or thereabouts, in the western hemisphere region of what the State Department -- one of their offices.
And he had stayed until the end of the Trump administration. He resigned on or around the very -- the inauguration of Biden.
And after that, a co-worker from the State Department, a former co- worker, and some other people, who had seen him on FBI wanted posters and recognized him, identified him to the FBI.
He is still in jail. And he's due back in court this week.
He actually was arrested not just on the charge of entering the building but also carrying a police riot shield and pushing against a police line.
That's a more serious charge. And so the Justice Department is seeking to keep him in jail -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: Wow, what a discovery that must have been for those alleged co-workers. [13:45:03]
Katelyn Polantz, thank you so much.
Straight ahead, the Biden administration makes a major move to help with the growing number of migrant children crossing the border.
And we're expecting President Biden to speak this afternoon about the passing of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package. We'll bring that to you live as it happens.
WHITFIELD: The Biden administration is reopening facilities for migrant children to pre-pandemic levels. According to the latest figures, approximately 7,700 children are in HHS care right now.
CNN reported earlier in the week that children are being held in Border Patrol custody for longer than the max allowable time of 72 hours before moving them to HHS facilities.
CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Brownsville, Texas.
Polo, what are you seeing?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, waves of migrant families have been making their way into the country.
There are those who have been waiting right across the border in Brownsville in migrant camps for well over a year when the Trump administration implemented their migrant protection protocols.
In the last several weeks, we've seen those families, now under the Biden administration, now be processed and allowed to seek asylum in the United States.
Important distinction, thought, those are families that have been tested for the coronavirus across the border in Mexico and have tested negative even before they make their way into the United States.
But where it gets tricky and a big topic of conversation have been those families, the so-called interior releases.
Those families, who have been released from CBP custody, many of which you'll find at this bus station in the heart of the city of Brownsville, being helped by many of these nonprofits, waiting for their bus ticket home.
Important to point out these are family members who have been tested for coronavirus by the city of Brownsville. Those who test negative can wait here for their buses. Those who test positive have the opportunity to potentially stay here in quarantine or make their way north. I want you to hear briefly from a one of those folks who have actually
been helping many of these families, including a member of Team Brownsville.
You've really been telling us about what these families have been going through. And also with this latest wave, how it's different perhaps from previous ones we've seen starting back in 2014. How is that?
ANDREA RUDNIK, CO-FOUNDER, TEAM BROWNSVILLE: These families are different because people that we are processing through our bus station are all mothers and fathers with young children under the age of 8.
They are crossing, fleeing violence in their countries, fleeing political violence, fleeing poverty, degradation.
So we are here to try to bring a little humanity to them, bring a little dignity to them, and help them as they go through the process of applying for asylum legally, and traveling on to their sponsors throughout the country.
SANDOVAL: Andrea, this pandemic has changed so much. We've been here already, since back in 2014, a few years later, when we saw another wave, and here we are again.
How has the pandemic changed the way you and other volunteers are doing this kind of humanitarian work?
RUDNIK: We're very cautious. We all wear protective masks. We use a lot of hand sanitizer. We've received handmade masks from all over the country, from different organizations. And we distribute those out to the people, as well as their own personal bottles of hand sanitizer.
There's separation here. And the bus station goes through a whole process of sanitation of the seats on a regular basis.
So we're all very aware of COVID and the devastation it can bring. And we're trying to prevent both volunteers and the asylum seekers from having any kind of negative result.
RUDNIK: Because of being at the bus station.
SANDOVAL: Andrea, co-founder, Team Brownsville, thank you for your time.
RUDNIK: Thank you.
SANDOVAL: We'll let you get back to all of that work you've been doing.
Fredricka, That gives you at least a snapshot of the reality here on the border. But there's also a big debate about how you are able to test many of these families.
You do have the federal government, including the Biden administration, that is essentially trying to get the wheels in motion to offer FEMA funds to these municipalities to test these people before they make their way into the United States.
But at the same time, we've also heard from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has refused that help, and says it should be the federal government's role to test these folks.
Any way you look at it, it's becoming clearer and clearer every day, the topic of immigration is certainly going to be become one of the bigger challenges for this new Biden administration -- Fred?
All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much, in Brownsville, Texas.
All right, coming up, she was praised for her poetry at President Joe Biden's inauguration. Now Amanda Gorman is opening up about the realities of racism after being profiled outside of her home.
WHITFIELD: The young poet who gained national attention at President Biden's inauguration is calling out, quote, "The reality of black girls," after she says she was followed by a security guard, unwarranted.
In a tweet, youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, said she was pursued while walking home Friday night. According to Gorman, the security guard called her suspicious and then left without apologizing after she buzzed into her building.
Gorman went on to add, "This is the reality of black girls. One day, you're called an icon, the next day, a threat."
In a follow-up post on her Instagram, Gorman said, "I am a threat to injustice, to inequality, to ignorance. A threat, and proud."
And this programming note. In 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts returned to earth but their mission wasn't over. CNN Films' "APOLLO 11: QUARANTINE," tonight at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.