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tv   Don Lemon Tonight  CNN  August 17, 2021 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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so far officials have said americans do not need a booster at this point. but we are learning now as soon as this week, top health officials in the biden administration could announce they are recommending boosters for most americans. and the way this would work and the ideas they're coalescing around right now is americans should get a booster shot eight months after becoming fully vaccinated. and currently this guidance is revolving around those of us who got two-dose vaccine shots. they are still compiling data for the johnson & johnson vaccine and whether those people need booster shots. but right now we are expecting this week that they could recommend most americans to get a booster shot eight months after becoming fully vaccinated. and, don, we should note that the plan right now would start in mid to late september, but all of this is contingent upon
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authorization from the fda. of course they are the ones who make the actual changes to how these vaccines are authorized. then the cdc votes on recommending those authorizations, and that's how this ball gets rolling on this process. but it is significant given that so far, the many, many times we've asked this question, they have said right now, the general population does not need them. but it does appear that's about to change. >> kaitlan collins is joining us now with our breaking news here on cnn. i just want to read the beginning of kaitlan's reporting here. i just got the wire. it says top health officials in the biden administration are coalescing around an agreement that most americans should get a booster shot eight months after becoming fully vaccinated. that's according to a source familiar with the discussions. kaitlan collins is reporting this. kaitlan, my question is when is the biden administration going to announce this? do you know? >> reporter: it could be as soon as this week. we're always cautious with timing on announcements like this given they do depend --
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they're not just policy or political decisions. they depend on the experts and top health officials to actually make these recommendations and these authorizations. but right now what we are hearing internally is this could come as soon as this week. and if that is the plan, if that is what actually goes forth, they don't believe that this would actually start happening until mid to late -- or early to mid september, i should note. and the question, i think, next is, well, if i just got vaccinated, how does this work? right now they are saying you should wait about eight months after your second vaccine shot. so of course naturally if you look at who was first vaccinated in the u.s. when the supply was low, those were nursing home residents, health care workers, the older population. they were all first in line. so they would be the first ones to get a booster shot. and we should note this does come as pfizer did submit data to the fda about what they're saying the clinical data behind why they think people do need booster shots at this time.
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>> so eight months after the shot and they'll do it incrementally with people. the most in need will be getting the booster shots first. breaking news from cnn correspondent kaitlan collins. thank you very much for the update. i want to bring in now cnn medical analyst dr. jonathan reiner and dr. peter hotez. doctors, thank you so much. i appreciate it. i'm going to start with you, dr. hotez. this is big news. people have been wondering. people have been asking me, are we going to get a third shot? when are we going to know about a third shot? some americans are already coming up to their eight-month shot period, right? so what does this mean for them now? >> so, don, this really follows a trend that we've been following out of israel, and there was also a recent mayo clinic study that's been showing what looks like waning immunity
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after six, seven, eight months. for a while, we didn't know if it was true, waning immunity or whether there was a specific issue around the delta variant or maybe a combination of the two. it looks like there is indeed waning immunity, especially in older populations. now i think the game-changer is not only is it waning immunity against infection, it had gone down to as low as 40%, 45%, 50% protection against infection, but it was still holding up against hospitalizations. now we're starting to see more breakthrough hospitalizations, and i think that was the trigger to say now we have to boost americans. in some ways, it was actually both predicted and predictable because, you know, when these vaccines were released through emergency use, it was imperative to vaccinate as many americans as we could quickly. and it was only a three-week interval, for instance, for the pfizer vaccine between the first and second dose. that's not usually enough to give longer lasting immunity, so you often need to space things out more. by giving this third
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immunization, i think it's going to give really robust protection. that might be it for a while. we may not need annual boosters. this could be the third and done. >> let's hope that is the case. dr. reiner, while some americans are eager to get a third shot, millions of americans still haven't gotten their first shots. so are you concerned that this could make the vaccine hesitant even more hesitant? >> well, it shouldn't. i think the messaging from the cdc should be that we have excellent data showing that a third shot of particularly the mrna vaccines produce really a very robust immune response. and as my old friend and colleague dr. hotez said, it's also possible that this third dose will actually create a much will longer-lasting immunity. so i think this should be both reassuring and should underscore the need for folks in this country who have not been vaccinated to start the process now. get your first shot now.
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and i think this has to -- this doesn't have to be a very complicated process. everyone in this country who has been vaccinated has received a vaccine card, and the process is going to be simple. we've already done the sort of -- we've gone through the steps to sort of triage people by risk earlier in the year. so the people who will come up first eight months after their second dose are either the elderly or health care providers. now, it's interesting. the timing of eight months is interesting to me because this gives the fda time to approve these vaccines for booster doses because the first people who will be available won't be ready for their shot until about the first week in september now because third shots -- the three-week shots after the first pfizer dose wasn't administered in this country until the first week of january. so that takes us up to the first
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week in september. >> dr. hotez, can i go back to something that you said because you talked about, you know, the third shot might be the last, right, and that we may not have to get boosters every year. is that because the virus keeps mutating? the more people who don't get their shots, who are no, t vaccinates, it allows the virus to continue to mutate. we get a flu shot, and the flu shot is updated every single year. many people thought it would be the same with the covid shot. but why are you saying that? >> with influenza, there are many dramatic changes to the structure of the virus, and it's really a completely different virus. it undergoes aprocess that we're not really seeing with covid. it may be the case if you get really jacked up levels of virus neutralizing antibody, that will be sufficient to provide that extra level of protection that we're going to need.
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we don't know for sure. we'll have to continue to watch it. but the fact that i think we will get a pretty robust boost with this third dose spaced eight months apart. by, look, it's going to require a lot of situational awareness, and we'll have to continue to follow it. and it's great that we had that data coming out of israel, and hopefully we'll continue to follow it here in the u.s. as well. >> dr. reiner, you know i've been asking you about getting a third shot for quite some time now because i thought, hey, maybe we should all be doing it. israel got it. maybe we should be doing it now as well. but i want to talk about young folks. the fda still hasn't formally approved the vaccine for kids under 12. they can't get it. would those approvals convince more people, you think? >> well, i certainly hope so. it looks like pfizer is expecting to file for an eua for 12 and under sometime towards the end of september, and we'll
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probably see that also in tiers, probably 5 through 12 will be the first group and then 2 through 5, and then 6 months through 2 years of age. look, we already have this vaccine approved for w12 and up and only about a third of our adolescents have been vaccinated. so we still have a tremendous amount of work to do to get everyone who is eligible, which soon in the united states will be basically everyone, vaccinated. >> do you think -- do you really think fda approval will make that big a difference in convincing people to get the vaccine? >> i think there are all kinds of ways to get more people -- i think fda approval will sway the people who are -- some people who are on the fence. i think mandates, more and more corporations now are mandating vaccines. i think venues, restaurants, music venues, potentially even airlines. we've seen in canada now, you
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can't fly in canada without being vaccinated. all of these incentives or even negative incentives or sticks essentially will convince more and more people. look, we tried the carrots. we've tried reasoning with people. we've tried lotteries and giveaways. i think it may be that ultimately we'll get more people vaccinated by basically telling them that there are things they will not be able to do if they don't get vaccinated. >> thank you, dr. reiner. thank you, dr. hotez. we were lucky to have you here to talk about this breaking news coming from the white house. appreciate it. president joe biden addressing the nation today about the deteriorating situation in afghanistan, saying he stands squarely behind his decision to withdraw u.s. troops and that there never was a good time to leave, admitting the collapse of the afghan government and the taliban easily retaking control of the country happened a lot faster than his administration anticipated. the president angry
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afghanistan's leaders gave up and fled the country and that the country's armed forces did not put up a fight against the taliban. kabul's international airport a scene of utter chaos as thousands of afghans are desperate to leave the country. cnn's nick paton walsh is on the ground for us. >> reporter: inside the airport, the great escape was not going according to script and check-in security had collapsed. afghans convinced the promise of a flight out was their only life ahead clambering over walkways and tarmac the u.s. spent billions on to maintain its presence. and then the startling image, one of the u.s.'s largest cargo planes taxiing, laden with afghans who did not want to be left behind. later, the plane takes off. what you're about to see is disturbing. as the plane ascends, two objects or people appear to fall from the fuselage. the sheer scale of those who needed help meant it was even
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harder to come by. civilian flights canceled. even the americans had to pause operations till they could regain control. >> cnn's clarissa ward reporting for us inside kabul where the taliban are now firmly in control. >> reporter: taliban fighters have flooded the capital, smiling and victorious, they took the city of 6 million people in a matter of hours, barely firing a shot. this is a sight i honestly thought i would never see. scores of taliban fighters and just behind us, the u.s. embassy compound. some carry american weapons. they tell us they're here to maintain law and order. everything is under control. everything will be fine, the commander says. nobody should worry. what's your message to america right now? america already spent enough time in afghanistan. they need to leave, he tell us.
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they already lost lots of lives and lots of money. people come up to them to pose for photographs. they're just chanting "death to america," but they seem friendly at the same time. it's utterly bizarre. >> joining me now, cnn military analyst, retired lieutenant general mark hertling and distinguished fellow at the woodrow wilson center, robin wright. i'm so glad to have both of you on this evening. it's really -- it's a blessing that we have you guys here. robin, i'm going to start with you first. 20 years. more than 2,300 american lives lost. tens of thousands wounded. 2 trillion taxpayer dollars all spent ending in a humiliating mess. what message does this send about the united states to the rest of the world? that's the question. >> this is an epic defeat for
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the united states when you consider that america is arguably the world's most powerful nation. it stood against the mighty nazi war machine 80 years ago as well as the formidable japanese empire and won with its vast air, sea, and land power. in afghanistan, the united states couldn't prop up a military to defeat a rag tag militia with no air power, no armor, and only 60,000 fighters in a country the size of texas. this is -- it's not just humiliating. it will have, i think, a profound impact on america's standing in the world on the future of jihadism, which the united states thought it had won by eliminating the leaders of al qaeda and isis, helping defeat the islamic state. and, you know, the danger is down the road, what nation will want to align itself with the united states, commit troops and
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resources, whether it's for the kind of massive alliance, 132 nations that fought in afghanistan, or the meager coalition of the willing that invaded iraq? the repercussions from this are not just playing out in the tragic scenes at kabul airport. it really, i think, could end up being what historians look at as the bookend on the american era of power. >> can i ask you something, robin? even after devoting 20 years, you think the images coming out of the airport will be the deciding factor in history or with our future allies about whether to form a coalition with the united states of america? i mean the united states, we did slug it out for 20 years before pulling out. >> it's not these scenes at the
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airport. it is the fact that the taliban walked into kabul and then walked into the presidential palace. that the president fled a military that the united states had invested $83 billion in building an army simply melted away. these are the things that will have an enduring impact. is it worth -- what are the circumstances where it will be worth other countries joining in a coalition to fight militarily? i think this weakened america's image, and i mean i don't want it to be. you know, i'm an american too. but i think that the repercussions from this are only beginning to be felt and are likely to be felt for decades to come. >> general hertling, i just want you to weigh in on this because more than 20,000 afghans who helped the u.s. have applied for special visas. we've moved about 2,000 of them out, but you say there are actually many more people to evacuate. i want you to talk about this
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and also reply to what robin just said. >> yeah. i'm not quite sure i agree with robin on the gloom and doom of the rest of the world. you know, i'm old enough to remember when the soviets left afghanistan, and it was pretty devastating to them, and for a while, there were repercussions in terms of their -- the states that aligned with the soviet union at the time. they had also been defeated by a so-called rag tag mujahideen. what i'd suggest, though, is the united states was not defeated by the taliban. what happened, i think, is we got into the mission overreach. multiple administrations made mistakes, did things differently, changed the policies. there were mistakes from the military and mistakes from the intelligence community that all contributed to a mission extension that had us trying to build a government in our image
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that was never going to be a government in our image. and with that, when you have a government that is not trusted by its soldiers -- and that was what was happening. there were some very good afghan national army soldiers that fought for their country. quite a fe lives. the special operations forces within afghanistan were very good. but they lost faith and confidence in their government, and that, don, is a recipe for disaster whetn that happens. getting to robin's point about the united states being anathema around the world right now because of what happened, i think, primarily today, i'm not sure that's true. you know, when president biden went to the nato summit in june, at the time, nato countries had about 10,000 troops in afghanistan as we were drawing down from 13,000 to 2,500 under the trump orders. now, those countries like
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germany, the uk, turkey, georgia, romania, and italy at the time of the nato summit were upset that president biden had not coordinated with them as much as they thought they should have in terms of the drawndo drawdown, but in talking with these partners, because these were my former partners as u.s. army europe commander, they were all in agreement with the drawdown. they welcomed it. they were ready for it, and they thought it was time. they also had spent 20 years in this country, and they were seeing, hey, it's about time that we take the so-called training wheels off and let the afghan army defend their own country, let the afghan government run the operations that they needed to run in order to protect their women and their populous. but unfortunately, don, within the last week, we saw that flat-out didn't happen. that contributed significantly to the chaos we saw today.
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>> robin, i have time for a quick response if you want to. >> first of all, remember that the soviet withdrawal from afghanistan led to the demise of the soviet union or contributed mightily to it as well as the end of communist rule. i didn't say anathema. the united states is still the west's major power, but it's going to take a lot for other countries to commit to create a coalition to fight alongside us. this is -- you know, this is a moment you need leadership, and the united states looked like its political, diplomatic, military, economic plan for afghanistan failed. >> yeah. plenty of discussion points that we need to hit on, and we will as we continue. thank you both. i appreciate it. why the afghan military failed so dismally, and why did the u.s. ever believe that they could defeat the taliban as the country sinks into chaos? >> i know my decision will be criticized, but i would rather take all that criticism than
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trust aag for the best reverse mortgage solutions. call now so you can... retire better so president biden today trying to explain why afghanistan faell to the taliba so quickly. >> i will not mislead the american people by claiming that just a little more time in afghanistan will make all the difference, nor will i shrink from my share of responsibility for where we are today and how we must move forward from here. i am president of the united
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states of america, and the buck stops with me. >> he says the buck stops with him, so why is he blaming so many others? joining me now, cnn presidential historian douglas brinkley. doug, good evening to you. first i want to get to the former president george w. bush and the former first lady laura bush just issuing a statement on the fall of afghanistan. it says in part, the united states government has the legal authority to cut the red tape for refugees during urgent humanitarian crisis and we have the responsibility and the resources to secure safe passage for them now without bureaucratic delay. our most stalwart allies along with private ngos are ready to help. so the bushes have a long history with afghanistan. this is personal for them. >> absolutely. i mean george w. bush has gotten a lot of criticism and rightfully so for his managing of the war in afghanistan. listening too much to dick cheney and donald rumsfeld, but
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what you just read is exactly right. here ex-president bush is calling it straight. we at all costs have to bring our afghan allies into the united states. these are the people who fought for democracy. they're our friends. and, you know, whether it's 20,000, 30,000, or more, i think history will determine how this all went because this is our longest war. we could all be saying, don, look, the war ended, this is a good thing. but the contingency plans unraveled. nobody knows what's going on. it's chaos. but we might be able to turn this into a positive if we show we don't leave people behind like gerald ford did during the vietnam war, bringing the vietnamese, our friends, into america. >> before the president spoke today, douglas, former defense secretary leon panetta said he should take responsibility like jfk did after the bay of pigs. biden did say the buck stops with him but only after a lot of finger-pointing. how will history remember this speech? >> oh, it was not much of a speech. it was very bland. it's not going to be soaring
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oratory, but he said the key thing with the buck stops with me, meaning i will take the blame. i mean john f. kennedy and the bay of pigs could have blamed eisenhower, but instead kennedy took the blame. he went up in public opinion polls and then he latched on to going into space with the moonshot and went up in the polls after that. so i think biden did the right thing. he took that truman-effect, kennedy-like stance today. >> can i ask you something? did you think i framed the question properly? do you think that there was a lot of finger-pointing because i said that. i don't know if that was your assessment. >> i didn't think there was a lot of finger-pointing, except i don't think president biden was kind enough to our afghan allies. he seemed to be blaming the army there, and i didn't like that part of it. it was an opportunity today to really thank the men and women who have been fighting for 20 years for democracy. but instead he just wanted to do
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that personal buck stops with me and then head back to camp david. i thought it was a missed opportunity today, and he's going to have all sorts of ugly political ramifications unspooling on him because of the chaotic withdrawal. but i thought it was solid that he at least is saying, i'm responsible. the american people that want out of there, 70% will like that. a lot of them will. >> more of the president. listen. >> how many more generations of america's daughters and sons would you have me send to fight afghanistan's civil war when afghan troops will not? how many more lives, american lives, is it worth? how many endless rows of headstones at arlington national cemetery? i'm clear on my answer. i will not repeat the mistakes we've made in the past. >> so jonathan martin of "the
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new york times" says that reminded him of lbj back in 1964. here it is. >> we are not about to send american boys 9,000 and 10,000 miles away from home to do what asian boys ought to be doing for themselves. >> so, listen, you just mentioned it in your answer before about the 70% of people wanting the polling, showing that americans want to get out of afghanistan. i'm wondering if that's going to -- if that will hold up after this and if the president continues to take a stand, saying, i stand by my decision, then i don't think there's anything much for anybody else to do. if he stands by his decision, he stands by his decision. >> stand by the decision. secure the airport in kabul, and make sure that we make these afghani friends, people who have collaborated with us, into the united states. you know, don, in the 19th
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century, the british were in afghanistan. we've been there longer than the british. we've been in afghanistan twice as long as the soviet union was. at some point we were going to have to find an exit strategy. it's just so sad that they didn't seem to be choreographed. if anything, it reminded me of jimmy carter's desert rescue during the iran hostage crisis, where carter said, i just needed one extra helicopter. we needed a plan, and it wasn't actualized. so biden is going to take a black eye for that. but on the other hand, in the long sweep of history, that ladder of the american embassy in saigon that we watched, that was a symbol of american shame when that happened. but today that ladder is in the gerald ford museum, and it stands for america not leaving its friends behind. so what george w. bush said at the outset of our talk here, don, is the exact right message right now. biden needs to run a humanitarian effort out of
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afghanistan like nobody's business, and he started that process with an executive order that happened just a couple of hours or less ago. >> i appreciate our conversation. thank you very much, douglas. i'll see you soon. the afghan military crumbling at a rapid pace as the taliban swept across the country. and in many cases, shots weren't even fired. what went so wrong? - [narrator] as you get ready for what's next, custom gear from custom ink can help make the most of these moments. we've developed new tools to make it easy for you. custom ink has hundreds of products to help you feel connected. upload your logo or start your design today at customink.com hey, i just got a text from my sister. you remember rick, her neighbor? sure, he's the 76-year-old guy who still runs marathons, right?
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i'm back now with carter malcasian. he served as a civilian adviser in iraq and afghanistan and was the senior adviser to general joseph dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff from 2015 to 2019. he's also the author of the book "the american war in afghanistan." carter, thank you so much. i appreciate you joining me this evening. you've spent so much of your career focusing on afghanistan, especially the afghan military. why did they feel so miserably? >> thank you for having me on tonight, don. so one of the reasons -- there's many reasons, but one of the reasons we should focus on just from the get-go is that the united states in afghanistan, we were essentially occupiers. and the afghan forces were fighting alongside us, fighting alongside and for a government that was very connected to us.
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as you know from afghanistan history, resisting occupation is something that's been a part of their history, and that helps motivate people to do things. it helps define what it means to be afghan. i don't think this is terribly hard to understand. this is a characteristic of many countries but it's certainly evident in afghanistan. so when it came to who's going to fight toe to toe the longest, who's going to stick it out the longest, the taliban often had the edge. that's kind of a base reason. there's some more things that have happened over the past two weeks or so that go into addition to that, but i'd label that as the base reason for what we've seen happen. >> you have been trying to answer the question, how do we lose this war? in politico, you say, corruption was part of the problem. as is well known, the effectiveness of soldiers and police suffered because government officials or military commanders pocketed their pay, hoarded their ammunition, and diluted rosters with ghost soldiers. a stronger explanation was that
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the police and soldiers did not want to put their lives on the line for a government that was corrupt and prone to neglect them. i mean that's pretty strong there. check out the taliban taking over the palace this weekend as the president of afghanistan fled, as we see these images. do the afghan people not feel a connection to their government? >> so in many places, the connection to the government was thin, and it's troubled by corruption, some other factors such as the one i mentioned. but the other thing to remember is what we've seen happen over the past two weeks is additional factors and additional ma magnification of the problems that exist. not only did we have these problems with corruption and fight ago long side occupiers, but there was also the problem of facing defeat after defeat after defeat. that just worsens morale, and that drags things further down. if the expectation is that
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there's going to be another defeat in the future, then that is going to incline forces to run. by the time the taliban had gotten to kabul, the army had seen defeat after defeat. it's just like a stock market crash. everyone ran. everyone stopped investing. earlier on, we still had many incidents of afghans fighting, of afghans fighting hard. but as things got worst, it just all fell apart. >> i want to but this image up of this cargo plane jammed with hundreds of people trying to flee. it is devastating to look at. we're told others are hiding in their homes, afraid to leave. who is responsible for failing these people? >> that's a hard question at this point. you know, to some extent -- to some extent, yes, i think we all hoped elements of the afghan army and afghan leaders would have fought harder.
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i think we'll have to, over the next days and weeks, look at ourselves and to see what extent we think we might have done something that's wrong there or might have made some mistakes there. and then some of it, of course, here is that there were hard decisions to make as some of your previous commentators kind of alluded to. hard decisions about u.s. strategic interests and pursuing those hard decisions and pursuing u.s. strategic interests was going to involve costs. and right now we have to feel those costs. >> carter malkasian, thank you very much, sir. i appreciate you joining me. >> thank you. emotions running hot over masks and vaccines. one vaccine protest in los angeles getting so heated, someone was stabbed.
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>> unmask them! unmask them! unmask them all! >> what is -- what's prwrong wi, joining me now, a reporter who was there. james, good evening. my goodness, my goodness. how did this get so violent? >> so this started out, you know, a couple of days ago. l.a. city council and l.a. county board of supervisors both started considering vaccine mandates for entry into a few places and this rally starts to be organized mostly against vaccine mandates and really just generally against the idea of a vaccine. probably about 200 people on one side of first street in downtown l.a. on the city hall lawn, a few dozen counter-protesters had organized on the opposite side of the block. i didn't see the initial exchange of blows, but the two groups, you know, started fighting in the middle of first and spring and then where that
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video picks up that you just showed, i'm standing right in the middle of that as it happens. the two groups square up again and you hear people start screaming about antifa and that one gentleman screaming, unmask them all. they charge and that's kind of when all hell breaks loose. people getting kind of gang tackled to ground, punched and kicked. obviously one person was stabbed and seriously injured per the lapd, remains hospitalized. it just exploded pretty quickly, and unfortunately this is a pattern we've seen at a few other protests around l.a. going back to january 6th of these kind of ideologically opposed groups just breaking down into street brawls. >> do people come ready to fight? did they come in this one? >> in the moments before that video starts, i was walking around the edge of city hall, and there were definitely people among the anti-vaccine rally functioning as de facto security. at least one of them has showed up in other pictures wearing proud boy merchandise, so it's been suggested there were other
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proud boys there. they were kind of talking over walkie-talkies. on the other side, yeah, you saw people in knee pads, people with helmets on. i don't know people's motives. i don't read minds. i can't say they came there dead set on violence, but there were people, you know, definitely wearing clothing that would suggest they were at least prepared for combat. >> yeah. what did police say about the attack? so far no one has been arrested, is that correct? >> no one's been arrested. the lapd just put out an image a few minutes ago of who they believe is the stabbing suspect. it's just a picture of a person with a black hoodie on. yeah, they have not made any other arrests or have not described any other suspects in relation to this yet. >> is it getting worse in the short time we have left? is this only going to get worse, you think? >> i mean i can't predict the future, but there's a lot of tensions around the vaccine rules in l.a. right now. there's a lot of frustration on
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one side of this equation. >> the counter-protesters are very frustrated with the way the lapd has responded. they accuse them of giving groups leeway. both sides are furious with one another, and at least one has little to know trust in the police department that's supposed to be responding to these situations. so the potential is there. >> good luck, man. you be safe. james we'lly, "l.a. times," thanks so much. we'll be right back.
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welcome to our viewers joining us here in the united states and all around the world. i'm rosemary church. just ahead on "cnn newsroom," vaccinated americans may be rolling up their sleeves again. the white house is expected to call for americans to get a third shot. biden defiant in the face of afghan chaos, doubling down on his decision to pull out of afghanistan. and grace regains strength

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