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CNN NEWSROOM

FBI Releases New Footage of Officers Assaulted During Capitol Riot; March Madness Tips Off with Strict COVID Rules; Russia Recalls Ambassador to U.S. after Biden Calls Putin a Killer. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 18, 2021 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president say in his interview that he conducted, that he is encouraging people not to come.

[11:30:06]

Now is not the time to come. This is not a safe journey for people to take of any age.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The border is secure and the border is not open.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWSROOM: Joining me right now, Democratic Congressman from Texas, Henry Cuellar, whose district includes part of the southern border. Thanks for coming back in.

You've been critical of the messaging from the Biden administration, which we described in our last interview as don't come now, come later. They have now shifted that message since you were last here on this show. Is their message now going to have an impact?

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): They still need to do a little bit more. They have to show some visuals to show that people are being returned. Most of the people that are coming in, let's say the 100,000 people that were encountered by Border Patrol in February, about 70,000-plus were male adults, should I say. And they got returned into title 42 quickly. They have to show people going back, because the only thing that they're saying is coming in, but they have still got to counter message number two, which is family, friends, hey, we're still coming across.

But the most important message that down there aggressively marketed by the criminal organizations are those criminal organizations that are using the Biden administration messaging a more humane way of coming across. And that's what they've got to do. They have to show images of people going back.

BOLDUAN: Well, part of that is -- actually that leads me to a question, they are not letting the press largely into these facilities or giving press much data. There has been a lot of criticism of how many press requests, media requests, reported requests are being denied right now. This was one of the only reasons that we were able to see the horrors of the child separation policy of the Trump administration was they let reporters in. Do you see any reason why they are not letting reporters do their jobs?

CUELLAR: You know, they have to. The Biden administration, which I support 100 percent, might disagree on some things, but they ran on being more open, more transparent. And I think one of the best ways to have taken away some of the fears that some people have is letting folks like you into the area. For example, I was in Carrizo Springs at the shelter there. We asked for the media to go in and they told us no. Why not show how the kids are being treated, the education, the medical care and all that? They have to show that. And I think that it is a mistake of them not to allow y'all to go in. It is a mistake.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, as you said, you went into one of these facilities on Friday. What did -- I think it was teenagers, unaccompanied teenagers that were at that facility. What did they tell you?

CUELLAR: Well, I asked them specifically about the messaging. And I said, has anybody hear heard the White House say don't come? No, not a single hand. And I had about 20, 16, 17-year-olds with me. And I said, what about your messaging from your friends and family? Almost everybody raised their hand. They said, yes, we've heard from my family members or friends, come over, come over, and they said we see images of people coming across the river.

And then I asked them the third message, I didn't want to say criminal organizations or drug cartels, but I said any groups help you get here? They hesitated, but they pretty much acknowledged that there are groups which are the criminal organizations coming in.

Yesterday, I had a call with a high ranking Mexican official, former official, that dealt with this. He told me the same thing. You know, he says it is the criminal organizations that are using the messaging from the Biden administration and turning that to their advantage so they can recruit more people.

Look, they charge an average of $6,000, some less, some more, let's say $6,000. 100,000 people were encountered last month. Do the math. That is $600 million that they made on the people that came across. That is a lot of money. That doesn't even include the drug money that they make.

BOLDUAN: This is becoming, as it always does, very political very quickly. Republicans, through an affiliated political action committee, have just started running digital ads in Democratic districts, targeting Democrats and Biden for the argument that they are making in these ads are opening the borders instead of opening schools and businesses. Your district is one of the districts that they are targeting, Congressman. How big of a problem do you think this is going to be for you?

CUELLAR: You know, I have told the White House and I told to other folks that they will use this, the Republicans are going to be using this as a political weapon against Democrats, I mean, no ifs, no buts.

[11:35:03]

I've warned my party some months ago that, look, if they say the border is opening and the Democrats are weak, then that is an attack ad. And that is what -- I was on the radio this weekend. I heard that at a restaurant from some people that I know and said, what are you Democrats doing? Of course, we don't want to treat people the way Trump did.

I mean, what he did, separate the kids from the family members. That is horrible. But, again, we've got to find that balance between strong border security and if somebody gets across, a child, we're going to treat that child like that child was their own. But the messaging has to be better, the balance on security on the border. Otherwise, you are right, the Republicans are going to target me, they're going to target the other south Texas members of Congress, of course. And they have done that already.

BOLDUAN: Well, the message definitely isn't there yet in terms of coming from the White House to stop the surge. Congressman, thank you.

Still ahead for us, new video of rioters on January 6th. Why the FBI hopes releasing this video now will help lead to more arrests, that's next/

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:40:00]

BOLDUAN: We have breaking news into CNN. The FBI just released a new video of the violence committed against officers during the Capitol Hill riot. It is hoping that the public can help identify some of the people seen in this video that they have not been caught yet and we really haven't seen these videos before.

Joining me right now is CNN's Jessica Schneider with much more on this. Jessica, talk us through this.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, Kate, the FBI once again going to the public pleading for help. We've seen this multiple times in the past two months since the Capitol attack. The FBI now releasing ten separate video clips asking for the public's help identifying all of these suspects who have attacked police officers, and you can see it very clearly in all of these videos. So we're going to show you snippets from a few of them.

This one especially disturbing, this is of a man, you can see the screen shots of him in the left corner, the side left screen, but he is actually taking an officer's helmet and face mask, pulling it and bashing that officer's head into the doorjamb. This is one of the more graphic ones we've seen.

This is another one that the FBI is releasing, it is a man in a plaid jacket. They have got screen shots of him as well on the left side. And you can see him right in the forefront there attacking the police and they are behind a barrier, but all these rioters trying to get through the police, which we ultimately know that they did. You can see him there right near a man who is holding up a crutch.

Then we have another video here, this one also very disturbing, it is from a police body cam footage and you can see a man in a black hoodie just punching at police, presumably striking one of these officers.

These are all videos that are being laid out on the FBI's website, we saw three of them here. But in all, the FBI laying out ten videos, they are looking for these suspects, they haven't yet been charged. But these people on video, whether it is body camera video from police or other social media video that has been put out there on the internet, the FBI is asking for help.

You know, Kate, they released a video where the assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office, they said that they have arrested more than 300 people at this point. 65 of those people charged with assaulting officers. But a lot of the arrests here have been from tips. We saw the people earlier this week, two men arrested for allegedly assaulting officers, including Officer Ryan Sicknick, those were from tips as well. So the FBI hoping that when they put these videos out, they'll be able to find out who these people are. Kate?

BOLDUAN: And hopefully they do. I mean, the rage, it never ceases to terrify me seeing these fresh videos of the rage behind their eyes. Thank you so much, Jessica.

Coming up next, after the pandemic canceled last year's tournament, March Madness is back. I'm going to talk to the man in charge of keeping everyone safe and making sure they can play.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:45:00]

BOLDUAN: March Madness is finally here, tipoff time only about five hours away at this point. The men's NCAA tournament this year is unlike any before, all 68 teams competing in one city for the entire tournament one year after being canceled completely due to the pandemic.

The protocols in place are extensive and understandably so. So far, seven people have tested positive for COVID out of more than 6,900 tests administered in Indianapolis.

Joining me now is the man behind the effort to keep the teams safe, Dan Gavitt, the NCAA senior vice president of basketball. I'm surprised you have even had time today, so thank you.

How big of a challenge has this been to pull this off, Dan?

DAN GAVITT, NCAA SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF BASKETBALL: it has been quite an undertaking, Kate. It has taken weeks and months to prepare with the city of Indianapolis and the great state of Indiana. We're very confident that it's going to be a great tournament from start to finish and just thrilled after 710 days from the last March Madness game to bring games back tonight starting at 5:10 on TruTV and CBS. And I know the student athletes are thrilled to be able to get back on the court and play (INAUDIBLE).

BOLDUAN: If you can, what are the three biggest changes or protocols that you guys had to make or put in place to keep this tournament safe?

GAVITT: Well, we've created a controlled environment where all of the participants are being tested on a daily basis. Seven daily negative tests even before arriving in Indianapolis, and they are staying in four hotels, everyone has their own hotel room.

[11:50:01]

Hotels are connected by sky walk with the Indiana Convention Center, where there are practice courts set up, a dozen of them. So all activities are taking place, all team meetings, all meals, all practices and preparation in this controlled environment of the hotels, the convention center and then, of course, the six competition venues.

But everyone that's around the student athletes and coaches is being tested on a daily basis. And we're doing everything we can to mitigate the risk, obviously put social distancing, with masking to make sure that everybody is safe and healthy, and can both start and finish the tournament to determine a very worthy national champion.

BOLDUAN: I mean, that's kind of part of the big question right, start and finish the tournament. I mean, one of Oklahoma's key players, he is out for the first two rounds due to protocols, top seeded Virginia is arriving late, if you will, because of protocols, and it really is me wondering, and I'm sure everybody, is COVID going to pick the winner of the tournament? I mean, what do you think the chances of that are?

GAVITT: I think they're pretty low, frankly. I think it's going to depend on how disciplined the teams are. They've been incredible throughout the entire regular season, and now in this tournament atmosphere of practicing social distancing and masking and making sure that if someone unfortunately does test positive, as you note the one example that there are quarantines that result post-contact that could impact an entire team.

We think the medical protocols are setup in such a way that they shouldn't be spread if practicing safely and we've seen that indeed happen here very well done by the teams preparing both competitively but also from a health and safety perspective to make sure that they can be prepared for their first game and continue playing and enjoying this experience right until we determine the champion (INAUDIBLE).

BOLDUAN: At the end of this whole thing, how do you define a successful tournament?

GAVITT: The bar for me is high, if all 67 games played safely, responsibly, and on time and on schedule. I think we can accomplish that, and starting the first night and hopefully we can get to that successful conclusion.

BOLDUAN: I'm not going to ask you for your final four. Are you guys even allowed to fill out a bracket considering your position?

GAVITT: No, I'm not. Family members do though, and I hear, you know, their input but, no, we just hope the games are competitive, entertaining, controversy-free and that the student athletes have a lifetime experience they'll remember forever.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, good luck, thank you.

GAVITT: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, tensions between the U.S. and Russia suddenly flare up. Russia is recalling its ambassador from Washington. We're going live to Moscow, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:55:00]

BOLDUAN: A quick and sudden escalation of tension, Russia is recalling its ambassador to the United States. Moscow making the move after President Biden said that he thinks Vladimir Putin is a killer in an interview just this week.

After four years of Donald Trump's soft approach to Russia, to say the very least, Joe Biden is already looking at escalating tension with this major adversary.

CNN's Matthew Chance is joining me now from Moscow for much more on this. Matthew, what are you hearing is behind this decision to pull back the ambassador? What is Vladimir Putin saying about it today?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Vladimir Putin isn't mentioning the ambassador but I've been speaking to senior government officials, and they're telling me that this is at least partly about discussing the exact comments that Joe Biden made when he made that personal insult as it's seen here to Vladimir Putin that he was a killer, what that means about the broader U.S./Russian relationship, which, of course, has already been fraught with problems when it comes to the situation in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea, it's the seven-anniversary today of that annexation, by the way.

The attacks on various Kremlin critics and political opponents here, for which, in election meddling, of course, for which Russia has been sanctioned terribly by the United States and others in the international community.

Now, I suppose there were some hope against hope in the Kremlin that this new start in Washington, with the new Biden presidency, they might be able to look at ways to cooperate. They signed that nuclear agreement, the START 2 Treaty -- new START Treaty, rather, to limit nuclear weapons, there was hope there could be other areas they could build on but that doesn't seem to have gone that way. President Biden, after less than 100 days in office has said categorically now that he won't tolerate the kind of behavior that has been displayed by Russia over the past several years, and he is totally prepared to call out the Russian president as and when he sees fit. And that's something that's very disconcerting in terms of the future relationship from the Kremlin's point of view, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And so what's Vladimir Putin saying?

CHANCE: So Vladimir Putin, I mean, he's clearly furious about this, right? I mean, he's the one who recalled the ambassador. That hasn't happened for decades. I certainly have never seen it happen in the 20 years or so that I've been reporting in Russia. But he came out on television and he was asked about his response to Joe Biden's remarks. And he said, you know, I wish him well, you know, and I mean that without joking, without any irony.

[12:00:03]

But some people took it as some kind of threat to Putin but, in fact, he's just talking.