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tv   Don Lemon Tonight  CNN  August 19, 2021 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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tonight cnn learning that more than a dozen u.s. diplomats signed a classified cable last month to the secretary of state, tony blinken, warning of potential catastrophe on the ground in afghanistan when the u.s. withdraws. it's the exact same situation we're seeing right now. diplomats called for the swift evacuation of afghans who had swiftly left the u.s. that's helping to fuel a heated debate over mask mandates in schools, and a man who said he
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had a bomb after an hours-long standoff at the capitol. the author of "joe bi biden: the life and the run and what matters now." what do you know? >> there were clearly people in the federal government who felt there was a greater urgency to the situation than the administration was reflecting. we see that in this state department memo, we've seen that in some of the leaks from the intelligence community suggesting that there were some dire predictions from within the intelligence community. of course, president biden and chief of staff's joint chair milley has said that they were without consensus that the
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government would crumble so fast. i think from president biden's point of view, he had bad options of the one is if he acted in an accelerated manner to have a mass evacuation, he risked undermining confidence in the government and accelerating the collapse of the government. the same with some of his statements that he made about expressing optimism that the taliban would not take over. had he hinted that he thought the taliban was going to rapidly take over, that also would have undercut confidence in the government. he could have sent in more troops, of course, to stabilize the situation, but that's going precisely in the wrong direction of the policy that he wanted to pursue. so what he did was try to go along with the troop levels that he had. they did try to speed up the visas for the interpreters, but obviously not fast enough and the government collapsed, and that is the source of most of the disorder and challenge that we face now. it's a tough situation.
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it certainly doesn't make the administration look good and it makes these warnings oppression in the aftermath, but i think joe biden thought his options were not very good. >> put this in context for us here. the administration is now struggling to explain what happened here while trying to fix a desperate situation at the same time the president's agenda on jobs, infrastructure, the pandemic have largely been successful. how will this all shake out? >> you know, i'm reminded, don, of something that senator biden said to then-president clinton some years ago. he told him not long after that presidency had begun there had been a foreign policy misadventure in the balkans. and clinton sa-- to clinton he said, you can't control certain events. those will be like waves crashing over you and you'll have to respond. that's where he finds himself
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right now. you can't sugar coat this. the events of the last several days is not something any president would like to have on his watch. joe biden has been in politics for quite some time. he knows those will be difficult images to recover from. that's where they are right now, that this process is not finished, in fact, what they have ahead of him is an opportunity to show that the united states can regroup on this question the same way it's regrouped on covid over the course of this year, the way you've seen the economy come together and begin to excel under this presidency. but this is going to require that the next few days are crucial, because this is the period when it's going to come down to try to get the american citizens who are there out of afghanistan and ultimately face this big challenge which you and john talked about with what they were indicating internally, which is ask allies. 55,000 to 65,000 afghans. that is the challenge that will largely define in some ways the
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full legacy of america's experience in this period. >> in a big way, perhaps this president's legacy, you mentioned what he said to bill clinton and his experience as a senator and vice president. one of his selling points, evan, was his experience. we were told his administration would be the full grown-ups with foreign policy experience and the expertise to fix things. not krcronies like his predecessor. is this a blow to that image or remains to be seen? >> part of it will be about how much are they able to speak candidly about what went wrong, what are the lessons learned, and how do you go forward? because they do have experience. i think part of this is joe biden has been pretty clear for 20 years about how he thought about the war in afghanistan, his concerns about it. in some strange way the chaos of the last few days, as he indicated in an interview yesterday were, to his mind, in some ways inevitable. they didn't have to be as bad as it was. this is not something that anybody in this administration
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wanted to have happen, god knows, but i think they're in the position now of saying, okay, we've said this war is one that has to end. it has to end partly because we have not established the institutions and the culture there that were going to create ultimately a positive world for the united states. we now know that in vivid detail. but in order for the united states to leave there with sos some measure of honor, use your skill set at the top and use it properly to get people home and out of the country. >> is this part of the political calculation, knowing that by and large america is with him and they won't hold the aftermath against him? >> americans have supported in polls getting out of afghanistan, longest war in american history, 20 years. but those views are pretty lightly held. there was never going to be a big political payoff for joe biden in this, and now there's certainly not going to be. obviously, as evan indicated.
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those were the worst kind of images that a commander in chief would want the american people to see on his watch. it is the most crucial part of the challenge in front of him, that is managing that evacuation over the next several weeks to try to get those people out safely. we so far have not seen american casualties, we've not seen widespread loss of life, so this is a recoverable situation in a practical sense on the ground. but foreign affairs are not at the top of americans' agenda politically. the views are very susceptible to events. even if you had a smoothly managed withdrawal, if you had a subsequent terrorist incident and arguments from political opponents that the departure from afghanistan had led to a resurgence of terrorism from afghanistan, he would be vulnerable to that. this is something that i think president biden decided based on the belief that he's held for a
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long time that evan indicated. he was going to take this step. it's a difficult step. three presidents have intended to take this step. he has now ripped that band-aid off, and it is -- his presence is going to rise and fall on things domestically, covid, the economy, not on afghanistan. >> it's good to have you both on. evan, we'll have you back. thanks so much. covid-19 is surging across the country but that's not stopping certain politicians like marjorie taylor greene pushing dangerous information about the very thing experts say will help keep us all safe. here's what she said at the iowa state fair today. >> i'm completely against masks. they don't work. they're not stopping the spread of covid. i'm also completely against forced vaccines. the vaccines are failing. >> i don't need to tell you that that's not true, okay? we know that's not true. the science is clear.
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vaccines save lives, masks help stop the spread. cnn's donie o'sullivan is in des moines tonight for the iowa state fair. donie, good evening. let's talk about marjorie taylor greene bringing her anti-vaccine message to iowa. do people on the ground believe all her misinformation? >> reporter: hey, don, yeah. greene does this thing where she prefaces her statements by saying she supports people getting the vaccine if they want to get it, even pointing out that her parents got the vaccine. but then she goes on these long monologues attacking the vaccine that could discourage people from getting their shots, and that is a message that is resonating with some of our supporters here. have a listen. would you consider getting the vaccine if more businesses, there's parts of the country now where you can only go into a restaurant if you have proof of a vaccine? >> no, no. i'm not for that. this is america, and we are a free country, a free people.
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we have the right to decide what goes on with our bodies, and mandatory vaccines and vaccine passports, i believe that is unamerican, anti-american, and the government has no place in doing that. >> i'm not vaccinated and i'm not going to get vaccinated. o our days are numbered. it doesn't matter if it's covid, or i could go down the highway and get hit by a semi, t-boned, killed. we take what god gives to us. >> but you've had the vacirus? >> yeah. >> wouldn't that be enough to take the vaccine? >> no, i'm not taking the jab. >> so that convinces me that people won't take the shot.
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>> that is a vaccine tent at that fair. are people taking advantage of it, and if they are, what is the reason for getting the shot now? >> reporter: yeah, so don, that was the bad news, this is the good news. there is a vaccine tent here. hyvee, the supermarket chain, is set up here and they said over 200 people got the vaccine. we met an older gentleman this afternoon who got their shots. they actually work here at the fair. they'll be traveling around the country going to other state fairs. they said partially why they're getting it is one of the fairs they're going to in new mexico requires staff to be vaccinated. but they also realize as well it was a safer thing to do. especially now they had been wearing masks but now the folks aren't wearing masks as much. they said they felt safer with the vaccine. there is a possibility that some folks' minds have been changed, like these gentlemen, one of them also mentioned that he had been quite hesitant.
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he was a little bit scared to get the shot but he came around to it. there is some positive in all of this happening here at the fair. >> progress, progress. we'll take it where we can get it, the good news. thanks a lot, donie. appreciate it. i want to turn to political analyst ron brownstein and political commentator amanda carpenter. amanda, you first. the people in iowa believe the lies from republican politicians like marjorie taylor greene. we're seeing this across the country. but is there anything that can actually stop this dangerous information? >> that can stop the dangerous information from getting out? no. it's out. it's really amazing. that clip that you guys played from marjorie taylor greene, she's considered a friend, remember, but i think her messaging, no masks, no mandates, is right in the wheelhouse of where the hard right is right now. if you listen to things that florida governor ron desantis is
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saying, comparing mask mandates to medical authoritarianism, that's where it's at. what's just amazing to me, don, when you talk about the disinformation is they all do this dance where you can get the vaccine if you have a concern that someone might not have to get it. we've peddled every other thing except the vaccine. there was herd immunity, high clocks -- hydroxychloroquine. there's the answer, and it's the vaccine. but because trump has politicized this so much, they've looked at everything except what works, mandates and masks. >> if you get the momonochromal
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you're actually putting stuff in your body that's worse. ron, i have to get your take. this is some breaking news out of texas. the supreme court is refusing to intervene on mask mandates issued by several local jurisdictions. listen basically tonight, because i think we're overcomplicating it here. the courts now have agreed that texas can mandate masks until this litigation goes further. what does this mean right now? >> first of all, the extent of the open defiance and rebellion that we're seeing in texas with now, i think, dozens of school districts is truly extraordinary. every large metro in the state now is openly defying what the governor wants to do. and the governor and the attorney general, ken paxton, tried to get basically to an end run on the courts and asked,
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say, the supreme court to intervene immediately to block all of these local mask mandates. what the state supreme court said today was, no, you have to go through the regular process. you have to go through the appellate level before we will weigh in. strikingly, don, on the same day, today, that that happened, the texas educational agency said they will not enforce governor abbott's ban on mask mandates until all the litigation is done. you take those two things together, it could be a signal that some republicans, certainly the republicans -- the state supreme court is entirely republicans -- are looking for a way off the ledge that the governor has -- you know, has moved the party to on this. by the way, this comes as the county judge, in effect, the county supervisor in dallas county announced a few days ago that there were literally no pediatric icu beds available in north texas, and the head of the north texas medical center in houston said 20% of their cases
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are kids. abbott and paxton has taken the republican to an extreme position, one that could threaten their hold on the suburban voters which are still critical in deciding the balance of power in this state, and it's not clear where the next stage goes. it's not over yet, though. >> ron, listen, also abbott and desantis keep fighting with local officials over masks. you looked into this and you found an important similarity about where these fueuds are happening. what is that? tell me about that. >> what we're watching is extraordinary. we have never seen anything like the open defiance of this many large jurisdictions to efforts from the republicans to override and preempt their decision. i mean, basically what we are seeing is that the governor in each state, in both texas and in florida, are trying to override decisions in counties that voted against them. if you look at all of the big counties in florida that are trying to impose the mask
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mandates, miami-dade, palm beach, broward, hillsborough, osceola, and maybe orange county, they all voted against desantis in 2018. and similarly in texas, all the big counties except for tarrant county voted against abbott. so what we are seeing, i think, don here, is the crystallization of what has been a long-developing dynamic where you have this republican coalition in the sun belt states that is rooted in their dominance of preponderantly white urban areas, big metros that drive the economies in the population, and this is the moment where we're seeing the breaking point, those metros pushing back, and it's going to produce epic battles for the governorships in 2022, in georgia, florida, arizona, and maybe in texas, although it's less clear that the government will have a top tier mandate.
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>> amanda, vaccines and masks are free and liberty. what is it about getting others sick with the delta variant? >> i can't believe anyone feels free when they're staring down the possibility of getting a tube stuck down their throat. here is where all the energy is at. all the pushback of mask mandates is cloaked in this medical freedom, pushing back, as ron desantis said, medical authoritarianism coming from the big government. when it comes to this red state governor, blue state city dynamic that ron has written so eloquently about, and i encourage everybody to read it. they believe in radical dominance, radical control. when you have this blue area saying we want the freedom to do masks and lockdowns as needed.
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this is about the electoral college and how long republicans can have political dominance while catering to a minority of those just because of built-in advantages they have in the system, and right now that's playing out the medical freedom, as they say, of the unvaccinated. >> i tell you, ron, that's high praise from the woman who wrote the book about gas. i would take that. >> i'll take it. >> thank you, both. i appreciate it. the latest front in the mask wars, georgia, where parents in one school district are battling the school board and speaking up in favor of masks. >> if you can't read the writing on the wall -- >> 30 seconds. >> -- let me read it for you. some of the people in this room may not be here next year due to covid. children could become disabled and die if changes aren't made. take care against the virus and
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latest front in the mask wars, georgia, where some parents in the school district are speaking up in favor of masking, going against the school board that is leaving it to parents to decide whether their children wear a mask or don't wear a mask. cobb county parents tonight putting the pressure on their local officials. >> i've heard the argument that we all want to make our own choices. to that i say your choice has taken my choice away. i don't have a choice but to send my children, one severely asthmatic, into an unsafe learning environment. i don't know if there are a certain number of positive cases that you're looking for or do a certain number of kids need to die before you humble yourselves enough to admit that you're wrong? >> it's alarming and disturbing that the school system i thought would protect and nurture my
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boys is unnecessarily and deliberately leaving them vulnerable to illness. >> and you are asking us to drop our children in shark-infested waters and forcing them to swim without so much as a raft. >> let's discuss now with dr. timothy lynn, a pulmonary doctor and a parent of two young children in the cobb county school district. dr. lin, thank you. you're one of 140 doctors signing on to urge the school board to look at more safety measures. our staff and community members deserve to be protected while they learn, yet your decision has faced a majority of them at risk. delta is serious. do these cobb county officials get that? >> i don't know. you know, i work in a hospital where i see a lot of icu patients, i see the great majority of covid patients that are sick, and it's horrible. i think the biggest thing i'm concerned about in my county is
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just protecting all the kids. and i don't know that they understand that. >> i've spoken to parents and doctors who have been threatened, yelled at because they supported masks in schools. were you concerned about what reaction you would get for taking a stand? because i'm sure maybe you've seen some of the news reports of that happening to parents? >> yeah. i mean, i think my wife is more scared of it than i am. i think for my sake i'm pretty isolated working counts hless hs in the hospital, so i don't actually have time to go to the rallies which i would love to go to, but from my standpoint i feel like i need to do what i can to get the message out that i think masks are really important to protect our kids. >> doctor, cobb county lets parents decide therfor their ki but we know how kids are.
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doesn't that put them in a tight spot if their kids have to wear them and other kids don't? >> yeah. if you leave it up to the kids, no kid wants to wear a mask. at that point it's up to what the parents want to do. it really doesn't do anything. you're exposing so many kids to other kids that may have covid and may not, we don't know. that's a problem. a lot of times they're asymptomatic. >> if you make the masks fun and do contests and things like that, maybe kids will want to do it. i think they probably get their cues from their parents. you have two young kids in school. you're so busy, though, treating patients that you don't get a chance to go to the rallies and all that. treating kids with covid, you can't even attend the meetings. talk about what it's like in your hospital right now. >> well, i know that you just had gone to louisiana. i mean, it's probably just exactly what you saw. it is awful. we have a 21-bed icu and we have
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probably 30 to 35 icu level care patients. and a majority are covid patients. it's just so sad. i feel bad for the patients, i feel bad for the families that can't see the patients, but at the same time it's preventable. it's hard on patients, the families and also the staff, you know, trying to take care of these patients. it's very difficult. >> the thing is it's preventable. that is the most frustrating part. just south of you more than 19,000 students from florida's biggest school districts are quarantining already after schools have just barely been open there. is it even possible to sustain in-person schooling without masks right now? >> well, i think that's a good question. i think the problem is that we have all these cases, and then there's the quarantine process that i don't think is very good, and at some point you're just going to get more and more and more cases. that's just how it goes with
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covid, especially with the delta variant being so contagious. >> thank you, dr. lin, best of luck. you be safe. we appreciate the work you're doing in the hospitals and for the students. thank you very much. >> thanks for having me. chaos on capitol hill after a man livestreamed from inside his truck parked outside the library of congress holding what he said was a bomb. his facebook page showing he frequently made pro-trump posts. [engine revs] time to go incognito.. [zippers fasten] [engine revs] i love you, ricky! i love you, cal! what's the next stop? it's time for your extracurriculars. ¡vámanos, amigos! woo-hoo!
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so with all of our, you know, attention focused overseas, the threat of domestic terrorism is as real as ever. a man parked in a truck near the capitol today livestreaming, holding what he said was a bomb and threatening to detonate it. so i want to get to cnn's congressional correspondent ryan nobles with the very latest for us this evening. ryan, thank you for helping us out with this very disturbing story. the suspect is in custody, the area cleared now. authorities did not find a bomb in the vehicle. what more do you know? >> reporter: there is no doubt, don, it was a pretty intense couple hours on capitol hill today. you're right, capitol hill police did not find a bomb in this man's truck, but what they did find is what they're calling bomb-making materials, and this is after more thaa standoff of n
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five hours, then went on facebook and threatened a long line of grievances and claimed he had enough explosive material and shrapnel in the car to blow up two city blocks. that led capitol police to evacuate a two-plus-block radius. it locked down buildings in that area. you're talking about not only the capitol but the office buildings around it. everything turned out to be okay. he ended up surrendering peacefully and he didn't have nearly the dangerous material in the car that he claimed to, but just, you know, six or so months after what happened on january 6th, there were a lot of anxious people on capitol hill today. >> a lot of people out there with issues, you know, that need to be dealt with concerning mental health and just the connection to reality and what is real and what's not. the suspect was livestreaming the entire time. what was he saying?
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>> don, when you talk about his mental health, i think that was on display in this livestream. i watched almost everything he posted on facebook today. it was actually on facebook for a significant amount of time given the rhetoric and the danger that it posed. we don't want to show you too much of it because we don't want to give it too much credence. a lot of what he had to say didn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense, but here's just a small sample. >> you shoot me, two and a half blocks are going with me. and then you're talking about a revolution. the revolution is on. it's here. it's today. >> reporter: and what he said there kind of crystallizes why it had police so concerned. there was so much politically charged rhetoric of what he had to say in that livestream. he demanded president joe biden to step down. cnn actually spoke with his son after this incident was all
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over. he said that after the election, he was very upset that former president donald trump didn't win, and it kind of put him into a tailspin. he also had a loss of some family members over the last couple of months, so there are a lot of dynamics here at play. the long and short of it is, don, it ended peacefully but it shows that there is still a problem here when it comes to violent political rhetoric and what it could lead to. it turned out not to be a serious thing here today, but there is no doubt a lot of people in capitol hill and washington in general that are concerned that something worse could happen in the future. >> well said, ryan nobles. appreciate your reporting. be safe out there. >> thank you. let's turn to darren johnson. he is the author of "hateland:a long, hard look at extremists' hated heart." the man is in custody. he had a history of supporting the former president. he called himself a patriot. he was talking about a revolution. he called for all democrats to
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step down. clearly the threat we saw on january 6, that type of threat is not going away. >> that's exactly right, and one of the big takeaways from this incident, thank goodness he didn't have the amount of explosives that he was bragging about, but i look at it as these people are looking at the events unfolding over in afghanistan, some of these patriots have military experience and have been over in afghanistan, and, you know, seeing how the country was able to deteriorate and crumble so quickly, it almost gives this sense of i went over there for nothing. so here we are in 2021 when we've got this pandemic that's ongoing, and a lot of these extremists are agitated about the mask mandates and the government regulations and looking at it as an infringement on their rights, and now we have this events unfolding in afghanistan which gives these veterans who have joined these groups or being recruited by these groups even more anger and frustration that may manifest
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itself in future events like this. and then couple that with the 2020 census information that was released last week where it shows a big change in our demographics in our country. this will continue to further agitate the white supremacists and other types of extremists. so, you know, these events that we're seeing, unfortunately, i think is just manifesting an ongoing threat that's not going away any time soon. >> to that end, you know, today there wasn't a mob like we saw on january 6, it was one man in a car, or a truck, rather, claiming to have a bomb. tell us about the current domestic terror threat, especially with lone wolf attackers. >> right. so the extremists in this country, those that turn to violence and who mobilized toward terrorist action, they follow this concept of leaderless resistance, lone wolf
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and sole tactics which have training, surveillance in their community and operate in stealth. it's difficult for law enforcement to detect these types of threats and mitigate against them. here we are today, this gentleman is an example of that. like i said, i think that this is kind of the start of something that may grow given the events in afghanistan as well as the u.s. census results that have been released this past week. >> darrell, thank you so much. appreciate that. >> thank you, don. he is known for talks on gender, and now talk radio host larry elder is the new front-runner a against governor gavin newsom. mbers.
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in less than a month, california voters will go to the polls to decide if they want to recall their democratic governor gavin newsom. the leading republican candidate hoping to replace newsom is a conservative talk radio host named larry elder, a trump supporter known for his inflammatory rhetoric. more tonight from cnn's ky kyung lah. >> reporter: california gubernatorial candidate larry elder won't stop to answer our questions outside his public
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rally. what he prefers, the prepared stage and his fans. elder is the leading republican candidate in the recall election of democratic governor gavin newsom. >> this man that i'm going to defeat on february 14. >> a trump supporter and talk radio fixture, elder is en energizing the republican base. >> the momentum is going with the republicans, hopefully. >> reporter: a first-time candidate, he's never held office, better known for inflammatory, take no prisoners talk in conservative radio. his sharpest comments are on race and gender. >> i argue that the welfare state has been divided. >> reporter: elder penned this editorial, writing, women know less than men about political issues and current events, adding, the less one knows, the easier the manipulation.
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on family leave elder tweeted in 2016, you have no right to maternity leave. just this week, elder said employers should be able to ask women if they plan on getting pregnant. >> i believe that a female employer could ask questions of a female employee or a male employee that directly impacts on whether or not that person is going to be available to work a full-time, a full 48-hour week. >> on climate change this was elder's position in 2008. >> the bad news is that global warming is a croc. >> it's a position his campaign indicates he's evolved from, now that he may be partially involved in climate change. but elder spent years on line promoting global warming as a myth. he also posted ten steps to a fix america plan which include abolish the irs, eliminate corporate taxes, take government ought of education. our union should be in the hands of the private sector.
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legalize drugs and abolish the minimum wage. that position has not changed. elder tweeted this month, the ideal minimum wage is zero. one position shifting just this month? who won the 2020 election. to the sacramento bee -- >> i do believe that joe biden won the election. >> reporter: then just two weeks later after blowback from the trump base -- >> do i believe that joe biden won the election fair and square? give me a mulligan on that one. >> was there an election flaw in 2020, are you kidding me? >> reporter: but it wasn't sitting well with trump supporters. >> joe biden won fairly and squarely. i'm answering the question. >> reporter: he didn't want to talk to us about it, either. there was that second to last question about -- >> why don't you talk about what else i talked about. can you talk about any of those
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things? >> reporter: he didn't stick around long enough for me to ask. governor newsom's campaign released an attack ad directly on larry elder. increasingly, his sharp attacks have been about larry elder mentioning him by name and the governor has been stressing that in a state where democrats outnumber republicans 2-1, a governor larry elder would be out of step with the majority of voters >> kyung lah, thank you. we'll be right back.
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and before we go, i want to make sure you know about "we love new york city, the homecoming concert." make sure you join us for a once-in-a-lifetime concert event. it's this saturday starting at 5:00 p.m., exclusively on cnn. and thanks for watching, everyone. our coverage continues.
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it's time for the biggest sale of the year, on the new sleep number 360 smart bed. it helps keep you effortlessly comfortable by sensing your
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good evening. we begin tonight with nine seconds of video that speak to the chaos and desperation in afghanistan. take a look.
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what you see happened at the airport in kabul. that's a baby being handed to american troops on top of the wall. we can't say much more about it than that. we don't know why the child was handed over, nor do we know -- new details of negotiations between the top american commander in afghanistan and his taliban counterpart. to be clear, these are not the ongoing talks between diplomats in qatar. this is a admiral, a navy s.e.a.l., speaking directly with the taliban, seeking a way to secure the evacuation of americans and presumably afghans from the country. also, tonight, new reporting on a group of american diplomats who foresaw the chaos unfolding today. we will tell you about the extraordinary action they took to warn their boss, the secretary of state, that the situation in

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