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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  July 8, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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weekend. 60 of them loaded. officials say, even though traveler numbers were down, the rate of confiscated guns has soared. one factor, they say, a high number of first-time flyers and others, who are out of practice. offenders face fines and criminal prosecution and it can, also, slow down the screening process for everyone else. i'm pamela brown, in for jake tapper. our coverage with wolf blitzer in "the situation room" starts now. happening, now. president biden defends the u.s. troop withdrawal from afghanistan. sounding defiant about his decision to end america's longest war. even as the taliban are resurgent and gaining ground. also, tonight. new evidence of the escalating danger from the delta variant. coronavirus cases jumping in the united states and japan now declaring a covid emergency. forcing a ban on spectators at the olympics two weeks away. that, as the search continues in surfside, florida. the mayor is urging other
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condos -- urging them to get inspected amid fears of another collapse. we are standing by for a briefing by local officials, this hour. we want to welcome our viewers here, in the united states, and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." let's begin over at the white house with cnn's chief national affairs correspondent jeff zeleny. jeff, president biden, he is clearly adamant, totally adamant, about all u.s. forces leaving afghanistan in the coming weeks. >> wolf, president biden did offer a robust defense of his decision. he said the two overriding objectives had been met. that is hunting down osama bin laden and rooting out the al qaeda terrorists that attacked the u.s., back on 9/11. n now, biden, of course, is a long-time skeptic of this war. he said, quite frankly, this decision was overdue. afghanistan, he said, must have its own course and defend its country.
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>> i will not send another generation of americans to war in afghanistan with no, reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome. >> reporter: tonight, president biden delivering an impassioned case to end america's longest war. >> united states cannot afford to remain tethered to policies creating a response to a world as it was 20 years ago. >> reporter: the president vowing to remove all combat troops from afghanistan by the end of august. despite resurgent taliban forces gaining territory, moving closer to kabul. >> for those who have argued that we should stay, just six more months or just one more year, i ask them to consider the lessons of recent history. >> reporter: in a defensive and defiant appearance in the east room of the white house, the president making good on a campaign promise. and a long-held belief that afghanistan must control its own destiny. >> one more year fighting in afghanistan is not a solution. but a recipe for being there, indefinitely. it's up to the afghans to make
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the decision about the future of their country. >> reporter: in his biggest decision yet as commander in chief, biden insisted a taliban takeover of afghanistan was not inevitable. he pointed to 300,000 afghan troops trained and equipped by the u.s., that are in place to secure the country. but he grew testy when asked whether he trusts the taliban. >> no, i do not trust the taliban. it's a silly question. do i trust the taliban? no. but i trust the capacity of the afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and more -- more competent in terms of conducting war. >> biden is the fourth american president to contend with the intractable conflict of afghanistan. he brushed aside criticism from what even some military leaders have suggested is a dangerously swift exit. >> so let me ask those who wanted us to stay. how many more? how many thousands more americans' daughters and sons were you willing to risk? how long would you have them stay? already, we have members of our
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military, whose parents fought in afghanistan 20 years ago. would you send their children? and their grandchildren, as well? would you send your own son or daughter? >> reporter: the president said he was committed to finding safe passage for thousands of afghan interpreters, whose lives are in grave danger. >> our message to those women and men is clear. there is a home for you in the united states. if you so choose. and we will stand with you, just as you stood with us. >> reporter: biden, who argued against the troop surge as vice president during the obama administration, spoke with an air of confidence. but with a somber tone at the cost of the long war. >> no, there is no mission accomplished. the mission was accomplished in that we got osama bin laden and terrorism is not emanating from that part of the world. >> now, despite even some of the criticism, there is no second guessing here at the white house. president biden has long believed that this afghanistan war has gone on too long.
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but, wolf, the next-five weeks or so are critical. he said all-u.s. troops will be out of afghanistan, by august 31st. but other decisions do remain. that is, do drone strikes, will they be on the table to control some taliban forces there to sort of keep them in check? also, will there be civilian control of the airport? so, there, clearly, are many military decisions left to be made over the next five weeks. but, wolf, no question, president biden confident in his decision that this was a long war, he said, should have been ended years ago. >> and they are moving quickly right now. jeff zeleny at the white house. thank you very much. cnn's anna coren is in afghanistan for us. she is on the scene, live, from kabul. she is joining us, right now. so, what's the latest over there, anna? what's the situation? how is the reaction unfolding? >> yeah, wolf. people here really feel that now is not the right time for america to leave and the reason being is the rapid advances that the taliban are making across
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the country. we know that they're -- they have claimed more than 160 districts, particularly in the north, bordering iran. bordering the -- the -- the central -- central asian countries. it really has been alarming. the speed, at which the taliban have been taking over. and, of course, there's a propaganda war underway, as well. that -- that's feeding into that fear. but as we heard from president biden, he said that the afghan-national forces are capable to -- to fight back. and look. we are seeing these fights play out. and then, they send in air strikes and -- and commandos and they regain that territory. but we are talking about an area in the country, in the -- in the countryside, that was never the heartland of the taliban. and yet, we are seeing, you know, security forces surrender. hand over weapons.
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u.s.-funded weapons, we should -- should add. so really, wolf, for -- for people, certainly here in the capital, kabul, there is great deal of -- of fear about what awaits. obviously, the talk of civil war is -- is son the cards. and the president alluded to that. but he said it is up to the people of afghanistan and, particularly the government, to come together to unite to rid corruption. which as we know, is endemic in this country. and -- and to decide their own future, wolf. >> yeah. the president, president biden, moving quickly, as i said, to get all u.s. troops out of afghanistan, irrespective of what the afghan leadership wants. be careful over there. anna coren's on the scene for us in afghanistan. we will check back with you. let's discuss what's going on with the former-u.s. defense secretary, william cohen. he served under president bill clinton and before that was a republican senator from maine. senator, mr. secretary, i should say, thanks so much for joining us. as you know, the white house
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says this war, quote, has not been won militarily. after nearly-two decades in afghanistan, did you ever think you'd see the u.s. withdraw so rapidly at a time when the taliban is, clearly, gaining a lot of ground? >> well, wolf, we've known for some time that there was no-military solution to the situation in afghanistan. and i think one of the hardest decisions that the president has to make or the secretary defense. i know whenever i had to sign a deployment order, i had to weigh, in my own mind, where am i sending this young man or woman? and are they in danger? what is the risk? what is the benefit to the united states? and i think president biden weighed that and said it's time to come back. and if -- if they're not ready, after 20 years, when are they ever going to be ready i think is the issue. and the president basically -- i have mixed emotions about it because i -- i worry about what will take place. on the other hand, we have more, really, conflicts to deal with.
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we have got a rising china and -- and an aggressive russia. we have got domestic terrorism here at home that present a greater threat to american security than the taliban do, at this point. so i support what president biden has said and done. i hope we carry through on the obligation to bring those interpreters, those people who allied with us and aligned themselves with us and fought with us, bring them to the united states. we have that moral obligation. and i think president has made a right decision and i remember don rumsfeld who passed away just recently. he said there was one of his rules. don't criticize your predecessor and don't criticize your successor. because you don't walk in their shoes. and i have tried to follow that rule. in this particular case, i have listened to president biden today. i know secretary austin. i know that he would give him really the best-possible military advice.
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understanding that the risk is, still, there and it may get higher as we near the departure of the american troops. i, frankly, would have preferred a slower withdrawal and no, specific date. but the president has made that decision. and so, we're going to go through with it. >> the u.s. will go through with it. the -- the president -- president biden said today, mr. secretary, this war has cost u.s. taxpayers more than a trillion dollars. a large part of that, training the afghan military. it cost the united states 2,448 american lives. more than 20,000 american troops wounded. many of them coming back severely wounded. was it worth it? >> well, i would point out that these men and women were following the orders and the direction of the commander in chief saying this was in our national-security interest. we should say that, many afghans benefitted enormously from our presence.
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from our investment. many women have been educated. many women now have careers that they can pursue. not only afghanistan but certainly elsewhere. so there has been benefit. the problem is that, if you are going to try to change the culture and the tradition of a country, like afghanistan. 20 years, as long as it is, isn't long enough. you have to have many-more troops. you would have to have a much longer commitment, over 50 years or longer, in order to change the culture and custom if you are trying to really change the nature of what afghanistan has been because it's not a 21st-century country. it's not a 20th-century country. so the task was can we help? and we've done enormous good, on behalf of the afghan people. but ultimately, this is not america's war to lose. it was never ours to win. it's up to the afghan people to win it, if they can. >> well, let's see what happens because the -- it's a very, very
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dangerous situation that's unfolding right now. irrespective of the fact that the afghan military is 300,000 troops but many of them are simply disappearing. they're not up to a fight. the taliban is gaining ground, all the time. we will see how this civil war finishes up. mr. secretary, thanks so much for joining us. >> my pleasure. and stay with us. we're awaiting this evening's update on the search over at the site of the condo collapse in surfside, florida. we'll have live coverage. also, ahead. new worries that the entire u.s. may be at risk of a new-coronavirus surge because of five clusters in the country with low-vaccination rates.
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coronavirus pandemic, as u.s. cases are up almost 11% from last week. as the aggressive delta variant spreads. cnn's brian todd is working this story for us. brian, health officials are increasingly alarmed. >> they are, wolf. the top-health officials on the president's coronavirus task force issued fresh warnings today about the delta variant. this strain is now threatening to undo some of the progress the country has made in recent months. >> reporter: an ominous warning tonight from top-health officials and experts. the new delta variant of covid-19 has gained dangerous traction in america. and poses a serious threat. >> the delta variant is assuming more and more dominance in this country, particularly in those areas of low vaccinations. >> reporter: the delta variant is a more contagious strain of coronavirus, first identified in india. that's been spreading rapidly across the u.s. and around the world. >> this week, the delta variant is estimated to be the most prevalent variant in the united states.
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representing over 50% of sequenced samples across the country. up from 26%, from the week ending june 19th. >> reporter: and the variant is driving some other scary numbers. johns hopkins university says almost half the states have seen an uptick of at least 10% in covid cases over the past week. tonight, areas of the u.s. with low-vaccination rates are a particular concern. researchers at georgetown university have identified five significant clusters of unvaccinated people. primarily, in the southeastern u.s. stretching into texas and missouri. experts warn those areas could be especially vulnerable to outbreaks, and could allow new variants to develop. president biden's team changing its strategy, in recent days, focusing on a more targeted approach to get people vaccinated. >> now, we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood. and ofttimes, literally knocking on doors.
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>> one expert says it's time for the biden administration to consider vaccine mandates. >> the unvaccinated, also, affect the vaccinated. if you are a vaccinated person, but you are living among a lot of unvaccinated individuals, your chance of having a breakthrough infection increases. your chance of infecting others around you who are unvaccinated, also, increases. and by the way, the more unvaccinated people there are, the longer this pandemic is going to be. >> reporter: low vaccination rates, also, plaguing japan. where only 15% of the population has been inoculated. japan has declared a state of emergency for the capital city. as a result? organizers of this year's summer olympics in that city say they had no choice but to make a dramatic decision. the tokyo olympics will have no in-person spectators. >> translator: there are people who are looking forward to the games. for these people, i am so sorry. >> reporter: journalist christine brennen, who is covering the games, says even without spectators, there is
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another, significant risk. >> i think the most troublesome area is the fact that vaccines will not be mandatory for the athletes and the officials who are coming in from around the world for these olympic games. >> reporter: now, as the pandemic did at its height in america, it is now being felt, again, in the u.s. economy. fears of how this delta variant could affect certain businesses led to a sharp decline on wall street, today. all three major indexes down. the dow jones industrial average declined 260 points. wolf. >> all right, brian. thank you very much. brian todd reporting for us. let's get some more on all of this very disturbing information. the former cdc director, dr. tom frieden, is joining us right now. dr. frieden, thanks for joining us. could these clusters -- clusters of unvaccinated communities around the country set the whole country back in the fight against the pandemic? >> wolf, we're increasingly becoming two countries divided by covid. in parts of the u.s., where vaccination rates are high, cases are low and not
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increasing. in other parts of the country, or in communities where there isn't a high-vaccination rate, we're already seeing increases. and i anticipate, in the coming weeks, we'll see further increases. followed, sadly, by more hospitalizations and more deaths. the good news, though, is that our vaccines work extremely well, even against the delta variant. so, if you are not vaccinated, get vaccinated because it is our way out of this pandemic. >> dr. fauci also says the vaccine will protect people from the now-dominant delta variant, if they are fully vaccinated. but does your risk level change, dr. frieden, depending on the overall-vaccination rate in your particular community? >> if there's intense spread in a community, it is possible that people will be at greater risk of breakthrough infections. so far, what we are seeing around the world is that the vaccines that we're using in the u.s. are nearly-100% protective.
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nothing is 100% but they are close to 100% protective against severe illness or death. however, if you have a weaker-immune system, you may be at greater risk for a breakthrough infection. we don't, yet, know whether new variants that emerge after delta will be a problem. what we do know is that the vaccines we're using today are highly effective against delta, which is now the dominant strain across the u.s. the more people get vaccinated, the sooner, the better we can do, the fewer deaths, the less economic dislocation and disruption. >> just get a shot. it might save your life, your friends' lives, your families' lives. it's so important. the cdc, dr. frieden, just put out their new ensemble forecast showing new covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will stabilize over the next month here in the u.s. previously, those numbers had been declining. is this potentially, potentially, the beginning of a new wave? >> i think we will inevitably
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see significant increases in parts of the country, that have low-vaccination rates. wolf, if you look at israel and the united kingdom, which have very high-vaccination rates. despite their high rates, they have had surges with -- with the delta variant. and now, in the united kingdom, they are seeing, also, some increase in hospitalizations. the bottom line is delta makes it even more urgent that more people get vaccinated, as soon as possible. and one thing that's important about delta, one powerful study suggested that a single dose of the mrna two-dose vaccines isn't very protective. so, not only do you need to get vaccinated but you need to get vaccinated soon because you need to get both doses. then, wait the two weeks after the second dose. >> so important. experts are split on whether the u.s. should be doing more testing, among fully-vaccinated people to catch any breakthrough cases of the delta variant. what do we need to keep -- what do we need to keep in mind, as far as this is concerned?
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>> we need real-time data on who's getting severe-breakthrough infections. is it older people? is it people with certain immune-compromising conditions? there is just not enough information in the scientific literature about that. and that's crucially important for us to know, are there people who should get a booster dose? there's no evidence that anyone today needs a booster dose. but if there is evidence that comes to light because there are people getting breakthrough infections. that's really important, in terms of diagnosing people and preventing further infection. >> former cdc director, dr. tom frieden, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. we're standing by for a news conference in surfside, florida, on the condo collapse. we expect new information on the recovery effort. that's next.
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a news conference is expected to get underway, at any moment now, updating us on the recovery effort at the site of the collapsed condo in surfside, florida. cnn's leyla santiago is on the scene for us. leyla, so what is the very latest right now? >> well, wolf, i can tell you the death toll has jumped to 60 and 80 are feared death, at this point. we are expecting to get new numbers in an update over the next few minutes. we will keep you up to to date on that. but today has been the first day of the recovery mission. at midnight, this shifted from search and rescue to recovery, for those workers. and if you stand here, and pay close attention. you really can see a difference. there are more -- there is more equipment on that pile. and so, you are seeing a much more accelerated pace for this
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search. for the families, who still have loved ones in there. i have spoken to some who say, you know, they had already lost hope, before the announcement was made, that this would become a recovery mission. but we were here when we saw a lot of other family and loved ones coming out, still, really struggling to accept what was announced. that -- that officials, essentially, don't believe that anyone could still be alive under the rubble. i -- i spoke with one firefighter who said they will continue to search, until they can bring everyone home. last night, they actually had a moment of silence. >> when their service was done, we went right back to work because this is our job. our job is to do the best that we can, as quickly as possible to remove anybody -- any victim that's remaining in that building. so that we can bring them home to their loved ones. and then, we can go home to ours.
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>> reporter: and, wolf, the mayor of miami-dade, today, also, took some time to make sure. and -- and let families know that they are, still, searching very carefully and with compassion is the word she used to describe it. in fact, she said that when a -- they have a tent set up onsite and when a jewish body is found, they say a prayer and then follow very specific protocols to make sure that families are comfortable and understand that they are caring for their loved ones. >> what's the latest, leyla, on investigating the cause of this horrendous collapse two weeks ago? >> sure. well, we -- we understand that the top-local official has asked the top local county prosecutor, rather, has asked a grand jury to investigate what caused this. and not only has she asked the grand jury to look into the cause. but also, ways to prevent this
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from happening, in the future. but, wolf, i remember standing here hours after this happened. and we were, all, asking that same question, from the beginning, officials have said there will be multiple investigationings. investigations. but those will be investigations that will take time. >> leyla santiago, we'll get back to you. thank you very much. joining us now, josh and rachel spiegel. their mother, judy, is among the 80 people, still, unaccounted for. i met with both of them last week when i was down there. rachel and -- and josh, thank you so much for doing this. i know how painful and difficult it must be. it's been, what, two weeks since the building collapse? first of all, rachel, how are you doing, especially given that they've now declared this a recovery mission? >> i think, for us, it's still -- it's still been really hard. i don't think any of us are doing well. my dad, especially.
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not doing well. you know, even though they changed it from rescue to recovery, we still have the same mission that we want to be reunited with my mom, no matter what the outcome. and -- and we are not gonna stop, until we find her. >> josh, you're -- you're a trauma surgeon. how are you holding up? >> um, i'm trying to keep my work experience out of this. and -- and in all honesty, there's nothing like this that's ever happened. and we're experiencing it, firsthand, unfortunately. and we're trying to get through it as a family. >> rachel, have you -- have you gotten any word at all about your mom from officials down there? >> we've heard nothing. we were, however, on the family meeting, just now.
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we were actually in this room on the call. and they did confirm on the meeting that they have found 64 loved ones. they said that they, i believe, it was either 39 or 40 folks that have been -- the families have been informed. but there's, still, many people. i guess, they are doing the dna testing and -- and still processing various factors. but it does give us hope that, you know, maybe, our mom has been found. and -- and we haven't been notified, yet. or um, you know, we believe that -- that the team is doing everything in their power to continue to find the missing. and we just really -- we're -- we're hopeful that we'll have an answer, soon. >> yeah. we can -- we -- we hope and pray, together, with you. josh, how do you try to grieve, as a family, when you still don't have the answers? >> it's extremely difficult. and i think every one of us is
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going through things, a little bit different, which makes it, also, a struggle. we're trying to keep our own mental sanity, while, also, trying to support each other. and that's something that's extremely difficult. but we're a strong family, and we thank our mom for that. and -- >> but there is no rulebook for this. you know, this is really challenging, almost unheard of. i mean, really unheard of. and, you know, we're -- we're definitely struggling through it. i mean, we're -- we have a great-support system for one another. but i mean, all of us are going in roller coasters, at different paces, in different ways. and -- and it's really hard to navigate. >> it's extremely difficult. >> well, i -- we had a chance to meet when i was there in surfside. and i can only, i think, speak for all of our viewers here in the u.s. and around the world. we -- we send our love. we know your mom and dad have been married for almost-40
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years. and judy spiegel is a very, very special woman. and we are praying, together, with you. i know you have been dealing with this. it's just an awful situation. and, you know, we just -- we just pray and hope that, you know, you guys will get through this. and -- and move on. but, josh and rachel, is there any, final word you want to say before i let you go? >> we just want everyone to continue to pray for my mom, get the word out. about her. and how amazing she is. and we just thank all the first responders and everyone who has been helping in this extreme, extreme effort to find everybody. >> and we need to just support my dad because, you know, obviously, my mom is the rock of the family. but as you just said, you know, my parents have been married almost-40 years. i don't -- and they have a wonderful, wonderful marriage. i think, life for my dad, moving
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forward, i think that we all haven't really been able to grieve. and i -- yet -- because we don't really have that final answer. but i think that life, moving forward, is going to be really different and -- and strange and weird. and, you know, we are going to need to lean on each other and our friends. you know, the friends that we've had for a lifetime and the new friends that we've made through this journey. but we really appreciate your love and support. so, thank you. >> well, we do love you. and we do send all of -- all of our thoughts and prayers with you and your dad, your other brother. and we just wish, you know, obviously, the best. thanks to both of you for joining us. we'll stay in very close touch. >> thank you so much. we'll have more news, right after this.
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right now, we are learning more about the democrats' strategy for the upcoming house select committee investigation of the january-6th insurrection up on capitol hill. sources say the the democrats
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are looking for ways to keep the committee from becoming a partisan circus. let's discuss with cnn's senior political correspondent, abby phillip. she is the host of cnn's inside politics sunday. abby, how did they do that? is that wishful thinking from keeping this special committee becoming very political? >> i think it will be very, very difficult. um, i think there are a lot of democrats, first of all, who really do want to get to the bottom of the part that -- of this that is like a livewire, which is trump's role in getting to the insurrection. and that's going to be very difficult for republicans to swallow, even though it might be necessary. i do think, though, that what you are hearing from democrats is that they want to follow the facts. and if they take a methodical pathway to this. if they avoid the kind of circus atmosphere that you saw during the benghazi hearing, it might very well be possible but it will be very difficult. >> we know kevin mccarthy, the republican leader in the house is going to name five republicans to this select
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committee. they'll have, presumably, a little bit of a different agenda than the democrats. >> absolutely. i mean, the agenda is to play defense for donald trump. and to -- to actually, it seems, to obscure what really happened in the january-6th insurrection. a couple things i would be looking out for. one, you have got republicans trying to make this broader than just about the people who were there on january 6th. they want to make it about black lives matter and antifa. that's a big factor in all of this. and the second thing is -- is a hyper focus on the decisions of people, like speaker pelosi, and others, who were in positions of power leading up to the insurrection. those are thin things are important but it's not the whole picture and i think you will see republicans trying to focus pretty narrowly on some of those other things in order to distract frankly from some other issues. >> select committee will continue to for months and months. abby, thank you very much. also tonight. seven suspects have been killed following the assassination of
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haiti's president. matt rivers is joining us with all the late-breaking developments. matt, we are learning new details about this brazen killing. what's the latest? >> yeah. i mean, this is such an ongoing situation, wolf, that it seems like every hour that goes by, we are getting new information from haitian government authorities. what we've heard from the country's police chief is, now, as you mentioned, seven different suspects that, allegedly, took part in this brutal assassination have been killed by the country's security forces. four of them died during a gun battle. and three of them, later, died of their injuries at the hospital, later on. we also know a number of different people are -- have been detained, as a result of their alleged role in this, including at least one american citizen, in all this, wolf. but beyond that, in terms of motive, in terms of the amount of foreign nationals involveled. we're not exactly sure. we know a number of the people that have been killed and/or detained are foreign nationals. we know, like i said, one, at
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least one american, involved. but who -- >> matt, hold on for a moment, matt. we are going to get back to you. but the mayor of miami-dade, daniella lee siren cava, is taking a statement. >> we are here at the end of day 15. since our last briefing, our first responders have continued to work on the file. pile. with great skill and ongoing urgency. they are using the heavy equip -- equipment. the heavy machinery and their manpower and womanpower to sift through the rubble and today they have recovered four more victims. the total number of confirmed fatalities is, now, 64. there are 40 identifications and 39 next-of-kin identifications. 200 are accounted for. 76 are, still, potentially, unaccounted for. our detectives have continued,
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as they've done for the last-two weeks, to verify every single report that has been received. and they are working to identify those who have recovered -- who -- who are recovered as quickly as possible. so, reporting these numbers has not gotten any easier. please, join me in keeping these families in your prayers. today, we did bring some of the families who have lost loved ones to the site for a visit, at their request. we held a moment of silence with our first responders. they paused their work on the pile, briefly, to honor the victims and their families. and they received an aerial salute by the miami-dade county police department. the national institute of standards and technology, nist, is a key partner on the site, as you've heard. and i want to take this
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opportunity to thank them. they have been working very hard. they've brought in incredible personnel. expertise and support. and they have tagged 182 specimens from the evidentiary debris at the original-collapse structure, an additional 32 from the demolished building. their teams have been scanning the site twice a day and flying drones to collect essential imaging that will support the fact-finding process. the public, also, has a very important role to play in this investigation. so, if you have any photos, if you have any videos, related to the collapse, please, visit nist's online portal at studies. you can scroll down to the
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champlain towers south collapse link to submit those materials. the wonderful team that is staffing the family-assistance center is continuing to provide critical services to the family in need of care and compassion. and just today, they served 33 families. so that brings our total to almost-200 families served at the family-assistance center. i want to thank all of the organizations that have joined us there. it's over 25 who are onsite today. it's -- it's truly a community-wide response and everyone has gone above and beyond to service the community's families, during this incredibly difficult moment. [ speaking foreign language ] >> all right. so there, you heard the mayor of miami-dade county, daniella levine cava, with the new numbers. very sad numbers. four additional bodies were actually found today. that brings the number of confirmed dead to 64.
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76 people are, still, unaccounted for. but this is a recovery -- a recovery operation, right now, no longer a rescue operation. 76 people, still, unaccounted for. 64, confirmed dead. our deepest condolences to their families. there is other news we are following tonight, as well. and by the way, we will be speaking next hour with the mayor. but there is other news that we're following right now. the white house facing ethics concerns, over paintings by president biden's son hunter. some of them are about to go up for sale at considerably-high prices. cnn washington correspondent, sunlen serfaty, has details. these paintings by president biden's son hunter are sparking ethics concerns for the white house. hunter's art work is set to be displayed at private and invite only showings in los angeles and new york city. priced between $75,000 to half a
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million dollars per piece. some ethics experts are crying foul. >> it just is implausible that this art from an unknown artist would be selling at this price if it didn't have the biden name attached to it. the cache that comes with buying this art is saying you own art created by the president's son. >> sources tell cnn the white house has been involved in forming a deal between a soho new york gallery owner and hunter biden to attempt to address any ethics concerns. two sources familiar with the arrangement say neither hunter biden or the administration will have any knowledge of who had bid or purchased the art work. it will be kept anonymous. and if there is any unusual behavior like the offer price is too high, the gallery is expected to turn down the offer. >> now they have created opportunities for people to try to get preferential treatment without even having to pay the price. this is just really an amateur
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mistake. >> at the start of its administration, president biden vowed to avoid even the perception of conflicts of interest. >> here is how i look at it. i said the foul line is 15 feet away from the basket. never get me closer than 17 feet because it really is a matter of public trust. >> in response to concerns over the sale of hunter's art, the white house in a statement to cnn says the president has established the highest ethical standards of any administration in history. on the gallery website, hunter's biography does not mention that he is the son of the president. instead, detailing his art style and describing him as someone who devoted his artistic career to the visual arts. in the past, hunter has been open with his battle with art addiction and suggested that art helps, telling "the new york times" that painting puts my
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energy towards the positive. and president biden has faced scrutiny over his son's actions before. family hunter biden's business dealings, which was a big issue during the presidential campaign. he also faces a federal investigation currently. >> i know you have been doing a lot of reporting about this. what can you tell us about the latest ethics rules? >> early on in the administration and very early on, the president signed an executive order that basically really tried to avoid even be appearance, the perception of any impropriety. that was something aworked on early on, but all of this called into question, all of those things he was leaning forward, leaning in on in his administration. >> thank you very, very much. this sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern, cnn premieres the new original series "history of
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the sitcom." one of my personal favorite moments was from this 1996 episode of "murphy brown" when i was cnn's white house correspondent. watch this. >> hi, murphy. how do you think it's going so far? >> hi, wolf. nice job. >> between you and me, jim couldn't carry a tune if it had handles on it. >> i have been meaning to tell you, you have been doing a terrific job covering the white house. yes, sir, cnn is lucky to have you. i have been piecing together a little story myself. i was wondering if you could help me. >> sure. >> who pushed me out? >> you're barking up the tree. i really can't help you. >> okay, okay. look, look, you're working for a cable outfit. they're probably not paying you that much. i'll give you $50.
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it was you, wasn't it, blitzer? i'm going to get you. >> be sure to watch "history of the sitcom" this sunday night 9:00 eastern only here on cnn. meanwhile, very serious news coming up. the coronavirus delta variant now fuelling a very disturbing new rise in covid-19 cases in the united states. they're up almost 11% in just one week.
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breaking news. pfizer says it is seening wayning immunity from its covid-19 vaccine. are americans protected and are booster shots likely in the months ahead? also, the confirmed death toll from the condo collapse in florida just went up to 64. i'll ask miami-dade county mayor. and president biden steers clear of declaring mission accomplished in afghanistan as he reveals an end date for america's longest war. the resurgence of the taliban leading to a testy exchange. we want to welcome our viewers from the united states and around the world. you're in "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. >> and we begin with breaking news. pfizer revealing that its seen waning immunity from its covid
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vaccine. they are developing a booster shot to protect against the spread of variants, including the aggressive delta strain. our correspondent athena jones is tracking it all for us. >> america's covid-19 crisis isn't over. driven in part by the more contagious delta variant. low vaccination rates putting the country's progress fighting the virus at risk. the more unvaccinated people are, the longer this pandemic is going to be. this is not just about the individual. this is about our society. >> a georgetown university analysis showing five clusters of counties with low vaccination rates and significant population sizes stretching from georgia to texas to missouri. places that could become breeding grounds for more deadly covid variants. >> a stronger mutation will surface and it will become predominant unless we get vaccinated. >> new cases jumping 50% week over week in louisiana where


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