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Cuomo Prime Time

Queens, NY Family On Flood's Devastation At Their Home; Supreme Court Refuses To Block Texas Six-Week Abortion Ban; Former Prosecutor Indicted Over Ahmaud Arbery Case. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 02, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Almost 600 have been charged in federal court.

News continues right now. Let's hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Appreciate you, Coop.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Tonight, we're going to show you the unimaginable scenarios that are still unfolding, all across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut, and Virginia. Search and rescue missions are going to go on through the night. There is a lot that is still not known.

Once again, though, here's what we do know. The storm that followed the one that we were all worried about, hit harder than expected. Of course, we were all waiting for Henri, in the Northeast, right? And it barely came in any real way.

And then, a lot of people apparently slept on Ida, making its way to the Northeast, and it drowned us. Close to 50 dead, still counting, still early numbers. That's in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

So, the question becomes why? Too much, too soon, so much rain, record rainfall, in many places, in a compressed period of just a few hours.

For example, in New York City, a record three inches of rain in one hour. How much is that? The previous record, which stood for 100 years, was just over an inch. And this record left wreckage.

It was about this time last night that the sky started really unleashing its fury, spawning at least eight tornadoes, dumping that rain, triggering flash floods, places like New York City that never had a flash flood emergency alert issued ever, until now.

Almost the entire subway system knocked out, at one point, came back, different ways. People got stranded, got back on. Other people got stranded, on platforms, and trains, some overnight, roads, railroad, stadiums, homes, completely under water.


CUOMO: Take a look at this. This is a Yankees' minor-league affiliate stadium in Bridgewater, New Jersey. It's almost entirely submerged.

The governor there has just requested a major disaster declaration, from President Biden. We'll see what happens.

We've been watching rescue teams go house to house, in inflatable boats, all day. There are a lot of areas that have not been accessed. And still, water rescue is estimated to be in the thousands.

Once again, first responders are stepping up, everywhere needed. But entire towns are underwater. You can see how the homes are destroyed and what they're dealing with there. You can't see in that water. It makes everything harder.

Last night, I stopped several times. It took hours and hours to get home. But in Queens, everything was flooded. And there were cars stuck. And every time I stopped, I saw neighbors, I saw other drivers, getting out of their cars, and helping people, who are in distress, every time. People stepped up, and it likely saved lives.

But we got a long way to go, just until we know how much damage Ida did here. And remember, the real Ground Zero, from Ida, was when it was a hurricane, down South.

Louisiana specifically is hurting. Nearly a million are still without power there, in scorching temperatures. We're told power could be out as long as a month. Imagine that, 80 degrees, 90 degrees, 80 percent, 90 percent, humidity, no AC, no toilet, no water, no electricity for weeks.

Rescue crews haven't even begun the job. I mean, they're not even able to get to some of the hardest-hit areas. So, we really have no idea who's trapped, who succumbed, who needs urgent help. We don't know yet. That story will evolve over at least the next seven days to 10 days.

President Biden's using the disasters to push Congress on his plan to revitalize our nation's infrastructure, remind Americans of the dire consequences of the climate crisis.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The past few days of Hurricane Ida, and the wildfires in the West, and the unprecedented flash floods, in New York and New Jersey, is yet another reminder that these extreme storms and the climate crisis are here. We need to do - be much better prepared. We need to act.


CUOMO: And the people, who roll their eyes, about climate crisis, a lot of you are the same people, who rolled your eyes, at the vaccine, rolled your eyes at the pandemic. Maybe it's time to straighten your eyes out, and start seeing what's right in front of you. Let's go live now to the front lines of this latest disaster. We've got Pete Muntean. He's in Philly. And we have Miguel Marquez, in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Let's begin with Miguel.

Dark there now, but what's the situation?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I want to show you where I'm standing. This is a wall that I'm standing on top of, and this is only become sort of a - we're only been able to get out of here, right, in the last 10 minutes, 15 minutes, or so.


I can show you how far this has come down. In about 10 minutes, it's come down about two inches. So, inch by inch, things are getting a little better here, in New Brunswick.

This is Route 18, the Memorial Parkway, here in New Brunswick. There is a lot of debris still out there. There is still a lot of water out there. The tide is going out, and it's taking that water with it. It's really starting to drain quite quickly now.

But look, New Jersey, like many places is really hurting. 23 New Jerseyans now lost their lives. There may be more out there. Lots and lots of people are also missing. That may just be confusion from all of this.

But there may be other people that they are looking for. We've seen emergency crews moving around this area, and throughout New Jersey, looking for others, who may be trapped, maybe in cars like this, maybe in homes, still looking.

One problem that they had here is that they had both the flash floods, and tornadoes, at the same time. So, as those tornado warnings came in, people went to their basements. And, in some cases, may have been trapped in the basements, as that water started to come in. In one place, there were - four people were killed in garden apartments, when they flooded.

So, it was that sort of just massive storm with tornadoes. I mean, tornadoes, in New Jersey! Unheard of! That sort of stuff that just happened that it caught everybody off guard. And still, we are waiting.

The draining of these roadways is beginning. But it's going to take a long time, for not only this water to go, but all of the debris with it, before life starts, to even begin to feel like normal again, here in New Brunswick, and across large areas of New Jersey.


CUOMO: And, as you know, in these kinds of situations, it happens in no time. And then, it takes a lot of time, to deal with what just happened. Miguel, stay safe, you and the team, and thank you.

All right, let's go to Pete Muntean, now, in Philadelphia.

Pete, thank you very much. Again, you got a big water event there. And again, it was a community that wasn't ready for this amount of strain in this amount of time.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You've heard the term "100-year flood," Chris. They're calling it a "Once in every 500-year flood," here in Philadelphia, which is really not out of the woods yet.

You can see one of the most dramatic images of the day behind me. This is the Vine Street Expressway, which is really looking more like Venice than Philadelphia right now.

The water has been rising here all day. In fact, it's come down actually a little bit. Some kayakers here have actually been out here, and they just came back, and they tell me that they were able to put their oars, completely in the water.

So, it is pretty deep out there. It's about halfway between the bottom of the Vine Street Expressway, and the bottom of the 21st Street overpass there. Things are improving a bit here, just because of this massive pumping operation taking place. But this only scratches the surface of the amount of flooding, in the Philadelphia region.

The Schuylkill River, right through Philadelphia, crested at about 17 feet, early this morning. It has come down some. The waters are receding a little bit.

But the National Weather Service says the river will not be below flood stage, until sometime after midnight, which is why the flood warning, here in Philadelphia, persists until 7 A.M., tomorrow morning.

Some of the most serious flooding, in neighboring Montgomery County, the town of Bridgeport, where one person died, because of the rising floodwaters, there, Governor Tom Wolf says there were 500 calls, for water rescues, in Montgomery County alone, last night.

Beyond the serious mortal toll here are really big monetary toll as well. Millions - tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions, just to clean this up. No official estimate just yet.

Also, the cost of what it will be to beef up this infrastructure, something called climate resilience, two words you're going to hear a lot of, in the coming days, Chris.

CUOMO: Yes, I mean, even bridges like that, sure, the water is below it. But that's so much strain, on the concrete, and the formation of it.

And I know you know this, Pete. But those kayakers, you can pretend it's a river. But that ain't clean water. And people should be safe.

MUNTEAN: It is not.

CUOMO: Because the longer that water stays--

MUNTEAN: It's not the best idea to be out here, Chris.

CUOMO: Right. That storm sewage, that's - it's runoff from all different kinds of septic situation.

So Pete, stay safe, and thank you. Let us know what we need to know for the rest. We'll be on two hours tonight.

All right, I want to talk to an official, from one of the hardest-hit areas, in New York, saw as much as 14 feet of water. The place is called Mamaroneck, and it sits along the coastal waters of the Long Island Sound. Their Mayor is Tom Murphy. And he joins us now.

Mr. Mayor, do I have you?

MAYOR TOM MURPHY, MAMARONECK, NEW YORK (via telephone): Yes, sir. You do. Thank you for having me on, Chris.

CUOMO: Thank you for taking the time. I know you have very pressing matters.

What can you tell us about what made this different?

MURPHY: Well, Chris, we've been through a lot of floods, in the village of Mamaroneck. But this one was stronger in intensity and larger in extent.


The usual places that flood flooded, but they flooded at a higher level than they ever flooded before, in areas that never got water before. Homes with basements never got wet, were now full of water.

The rain came down, sometimes, at a pace, of about three inches per hour. I'd never seen it rain that hard before. And we've been through a lot of storms up here.

But our police, our EMS, fire, DPW, Parks workers, all our municipal employees have all pitched in. And with the help of God, we have not had a fatality.

But we had over 100 water rescues. We have over 1,000 people displaced, either with friends, or at our Red Cross shelter. And the Red Cross has been amazing. I can't thank them enough, for what they've done for the people of this community.

CUOMO: Yes, we heard reported that there'd been 150 people rescued so far. Obviously, you got to check all the areas, see who else is trapped.


CUOMO: It's very difficult with communications. Let me ask you something, Mr. Mayor, and obviously, please believe this is said with zero judgment. Was there something about this that didn't match what was expected? I mean, obviously, everybody was taken by surprise by its extent. That's why so many people were on the roads.

But from your perspective up there, what was it about this that was not expected?

MURPHY: I think it was just the intensity of the rain, over such a short period. We had a big storm. I think, it was last week. So, the ground was saturated. And the rivers were still high.

In Mamaroneck, that has two rivers that flow through, the Sheldrake and the Mamaroneck River, and there's a confluence at Columbus Park, where they both meet. And that is usually the area, where the trouble starts.

CUOMO: Right.

MURPHY: And once it overtops the banks, of the river there, it's a very low-lying area, and that area floods really quickly.

And, of course, unfortunately, that is the area, where the people are, less economically able to recover, less resilience. That seems to be the way it always happens in this world, isn't it? The people who have the most - the least lose the most.


MURPHY: And so, we're working really hard, to help them recover. And I noticed that the community is going to pitch in.

But I would say Chris, what was different yesterday was just the incredible intensity of the rain, and the saturation of the ground.

CUOMO: Too much too soon.

MURPHY: Right.

CUOMO: So, we'll do this, Mr. Mayor. As you get a sense of what's needed in that community, feel free. You have an open line to me. Let me know what it is. I'll put it out on social media. If the need is great enough that it warrants coverage, we'll do it again on the show.


CUOMO: But let me know what you guys need.


CUOMO: And I wish you well.

MURPHY: Thank you.

Just one thing we do need, we need the federal government to enact the Army Corps of Engineers' plan that has been promised in this community, for over 15 years. We were very close to having it enacted, under the Trump administration. At the last minute, they pulled the rug out from under us.

So, I'm hoping President Biden, and our federal elected officials, can get the ball over the goal line, for us, because the people of this community really deserves that and they're entitled to it.

CUOMO: Let it be heard. Let it be done. Mayor Tom Murphy, thank you very much.

MURPHY: Thank you, sir. Have a good evening.

CUOMO: So, let's look at this, from the meteorological perspective. By our weather team's estimate, if you average out the rain totals, just in New York City, we got 35 billion gallons of water, now, the key part, in five hours.

See, a lot of places can tolerate things over time. But if you mix saturated ground, because we've had so much rain, right, that much rain, in a short amount of time? That winds up being the real powerful brew.


CUOMO: You're looking at Queens. This is where I was last night. And bus riders stood on top of their seats, as the water rose, inside the bus, and the driver kept his cool, and got them through.

I got a Queen's family here who lost a lot last night. They're scared about what tide could bring, and what's tomorrow, and what's next. They weren't ready for anything like this. How could they be? Their story, next.










AMRITA BHAGWANDIN, FLOOD VICTIM: I can't think any more about how I feel, at this point, because of the chaos outside, my neighbors, there's loss of life. I've lost everything in here. And mostly, the lives out there, I just don't know. And I - we need some - we need some support.


CUOMO: Amrita is speaking for so many people, in Queens, and the surrounding Metropolitan New York area.

That's Amrita Bhagwandin. She's going to join us now with her husband, Sahadeo Bhagwandin. They are in Queens, New York. It's where I grew up. I know their area, in Hollis well. It is not set up for this kind of flooding. It doesn't see this, to have water that practically swallowed cars, and in just an hour or so.


CUOMO: This is the inside of their home that we were showing you before. I mean, it's just horrible.

And look, thank god they are here. But losing everything you have, look at this.


CUOMO: The money, the time, the help that it takes, just to clean it out, let alone rebuild!

However, she's about to tell you that she's one of the lucky ones, because two of her neighbors, who lived across the street, they were taken in this storm. And it's a very tight-knit community. She joins us now, like I said, with her husband, Sahadeo.

Thank you both for joining us right now. I know things are very difficult. Where have you gotten, in terms of kind of dealing with what to do next, Amrita?

A. BHAGWANDIN: Thank you, Chris, first of all, for having us. We appreciate it very much.


We are at a loss. The word is loss. We don't know. I don't - for the first time, I don't know where to begin. I've known where to start, in the past. But now, the story has changed forever.

We have lost a son. We have lost a sister. And this - this is - I cannot comprehend no one, the emotions here. I can speak for everyone. There is only sadness. And it's just overwhelming.

So, where we are, is that we have to start from scratch, as we are mourning. We have to see how we can move on, in a more graceful way here, because this is - if you see the situation here, it's very unsafe, very unlivable. It is debt is upon us. This is how I see it.

So, we would like to see the promises made today, by the governor, the mayor, the senators, all the City agencies, to be fulfilled immediately, as was said that the - President Biden has declared a state of emergency here, and we will see immediate help, which we have not seen, except for local officials coming out, and rendering some assistance, with some dumpsters.

That is all we have seen, community just bringing us food, stuff to clean up. That's all we have seen, from New York City agencies. Nothing from them at this point.

We have to clean up. There is mud. There is soil of everything, on every kind of, in every which way you can think of. I cannot describe it, Chris, to you. The pictures speak for themselves.

It is too overwhelming. We need manpower. Everyone is exhausted and overwhelmed. Like I said, the emotions are running really, really high.

We are weary and tired. No one has slept since yesterday. No one has eaten. We do not have gas. We do not have kitchens. We do not have hot water. The list just goes on. So, we want this federal aid to come to us now.

Tomorrow can't come fast enough. It should have been here today, at something somehow. But we can wait for tomorrow, just hoping that it gets here.

CUOMO: When you think about how you made it through last night, when did you realize how extreme the situation was?

A. BHAGWANDIN: Chris, I pay very keen attention to the weather. Hollis is a beautiful place. But it's mayhem when it starts to flood.

And I pay a lot of attention to the weather. I alert all my neighbors. And this is exactly what I did yesterday, was one of my days, for working from home, and I was paying very keen attention to Ida.

And I saw what Ida was doing, and slamming, all these other states. And as I was following it, I see how closely it was going to get to New Jersey, and then to New York, and I started alerting my neighbors.

I literally leave my house because I suffer from panic attacks. I was once trapped in the house already. And I suffer - I suffer from serious panic attacks, when the water starts to fill up.

So, I started to pack my bag. I alerted my daughter and my husband, who was still at work that "We're going to have to leave the house." I normally leave. My husband stays back, to brace it all, because he - they - we all come out. The community comes out.

But I have been so, so damaged, traumatized that I can't handle it, I go up the block, to my sister-in-law, who's standing right here, or my brother-in-law, or my neighbors, just down the block, because I can see from there, when the water starts to rise.

So, as I left, the rain started to pour, and I started - I call - calling my husband, and neighbors, and tell them they have to leave. Before he could have gotten out of the house, the entire, there was like 12 feet of water already. All the cars were submerged in a matter of minutes. And this is when everything started to unfold. I was FaceTiming with everyone, while I was up the block, here. They're showing me how the water is coming up, and it's not going, because as everyone knows, the rain just kept falling--


A. BHAGWANDIN: --harder and harder and harder. And that's when I was alerted that they were getting scuba divers in, and ConEd, and the emergency management.

Thank god to all the NYPD that was here to supervise. There was - there was chaos here. It was chaos. It was like a war zone. It still looks like a war zone, even though there's been so much cleanup going on.

CUOMO: Let me ask--

A. BHAGWANDIN: So, they announced of this--

CUOMO: Amrita? Let me ask now, and bring in your husband.

Sahadeo, where do you go from here? What do you need right now? Are you even able to stay in your own home?


SAHADEO BHAGWANDIN, FLOOD VICTIM: Yes, we can stay in our home. But we need some help right now. We need like some manpower. We need money. Money is the most important thing.

We need to get contractors, to come in, and clean up, help us clean up, start fixing stuff that is broken in the house. We've been doing this, for a while now, on our own. We're not getting any financial aids or help from the City.

So, all we're going to do is try to clean up whatever we can do. And we're going to move on from here. But we're not going to give it up that easy, because this is not the only place that they experienced this flooding.

So, well we need - we need a lot of help in this neighborhood. And, over the years, we've been neglected. This neighborhood, I came here in 2003. And since 2003 to 2021, we're getting flooding. And nothing has been done.

We have several projects that were completed in this block. But it's not resolving the issue we have.

CUOMO: Yes, I was saying to people, I grew up in Queens. I grew up in Holliswood, not far from where you are in Hollis. And flooding has always been an issue there. And the area has just never been set up to deal with a lot of water very quickly. The same thing happens with snow sometimes in the wintertime. And yet--

S. BHAGWANDIN: Yes. Yes, that's correct. CUOMO: And yet, you guys, as bad as it was, when you think about Amrita, what happened to your neighbors, across the street, that frightening prospect, and that they are now gone, how do you deal with that emotionally?

A. BHAGWANDIN: Chris, I am so devastated. I can't wrap my head around this. I always thought I would be the one drowning in that house because of - I have sung this alarm, so many times, I cannot tell you.

I've explained it. I've told the City, "You need to come out here and see what's really going on. Don't come, when the water has receded, so you don't understand it."

So, this is the emotions that I feel right now. I don't even have words to tell you how I feel, because I feel that could have been me. That could have been my daughter, or my others neighbor's daughter. We are like a family here. This flood has brought us so close together. So, this loss is so huge for us. It is extensive.

We have been on the streets. Nobody has gone into their houses, because we cannot comprehend what is going on here. We just lost a kid and his mother just like that? This is not acceptable. This was not supposed to happen. This is - this is like murder.

CUOMO: Amrita?

S. BHAGWANDIN: And you know, Chris? The City - OK.

CUOMO: Yes, sir, last word to you.

S. BHAGWANDIN: Yes. The City has come around so many times. Every time there's a flood, the City shows up. All the politicians come along with them, and they do a lot of talking. They have all the media with them. And when they leave, that's the end of the story. Nothing happens. Absolutely nothing happens here.

CUOMO: I hear you. That's why I wanted you on tonight.

S. BHAGWANDIN: We have to fend for, yes, we have to - we have to fend for ourselves. Yes.

CUOMO: Well.

S. BHAGWANDIN: We have to fend for ourselves. We have not received a penny from anybody here.

CUOMO: You have to speak for yourselves, and that's what you're doing.

S. BHAGWANDIN: Even the insurance companies, yes.

CUOMO: But you don't have to fend for yourselves.


CUOMO: That's why you have government. That's why you have leaders. And this is about them and their job. And I understand your frustration, and that it's not the first time, and that now you lost people, who you care about, and you don't think it was necessary. Amrita, I hear you. That's why I wanted you on, to make your case.

S. BHAGWANDIN: Well that's--

CUOMO: And I'm going to put up the GoFundMe page for your family,, OK? I'm also going to put it out on social media.


S. BHAGWANDIN: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: God bless and good luck. Thank you. And we will stay in touch, to find out how you're doing, OK?

S. BHAGWANDIN: Thank you.

A. BHAGWANDIN: Thank you, Chris.

S. BHAGWANDIN: Have a good night.

A. BHAGWANDIN: Good night

CUOMO: All right. Listen, I understand it, why they feel the way they feel, right now. You don't know the neighborhood. It is very tight, ethnic. It's, this happens a lot. Not like this! Not like this! But if a place was going to get hit hard, it would be this place.

So, what does that mean? You can see what they think about, in terms of accountability. Let's see what happens. We will monitor them. We'll have updates, as we will, with all these different aspects of the storm. And we'll stay on the breaking news of this disaster.

But I also want to stay focused on what's happening, in a couple of other big fights. A couple of things that are seen as prospective are not there now. The Supreme Court fight over Roe v. Wade, is right now, OK?

The Supreme Court just released an order saying that it would not stand in the way of Texas, basically, operatively, practically, making reproductive rights, unavailable to women, when it comes to abortion. That's what they just did. And the Supreme Court didn't stop it.


Might they stop it in the future? Yes. But they didn't stop it now. And that tells you everything. What will women there, face now, because of what Texas did, and what the Supreme Court did not know, and did not do?

We're going to talk to a doctor, who performs abortions there, what the reality is, what this could mean for people, next.







CUOMO: Got a lot of people worried about the rights of women in Afghanistan. But in America, you can worry about what's happening with women's rights right here. The fight over the future of Roe v. Wade isn't about the future. Texas is already feeling the effect.

Dr. Allison Gilbert is, the Medical Director, at the Southwestern Women's Surgery Center. She's also a physician, who performs abortions, in Dallas, and knows the situation.

Doctor, thank you for joining me.

The idea of six weeks, heartbeat at six weeks, does that even exist in science? Is there a heart at six weeks?

DR. ALLISON GILBERT, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, SOUTHWESTERN WOMEN'S SURGERY CENTER: First, thank you so much for having me on this evening, Chris.

So that's a great question. At six weeks, that's when we can oftentimes detect what we call cardiac activity.


While there is most certainly not a fully-formed heart, at that gestational age, it's more of an electric clicker that you can see on the screen, which we refer to cardiac activity, rather than a heartbeat, as many of the proponents of this law, like to refer to it, as the "Texas heartbeat bill."

CUOMO: Doc, and look, we know. They call it the heartbeat bill because the heartbeat pulls on your heartstrings, makes you think "Person." That's what has a heartbeat.

How many women in your experience, come in, and find out, they're pregnant, and they are close to or more than six weeks pregnant?

GILBERT: Oh, the vast majority. Looking back through our records, for the last few years, in anticipation of this, we've seen that only about 10 percent to 15 percent of our patients would actually be eligible for an abortion, under this restrictive law.

CUOMO: Now, you had procedures. I got to be honest, I don't like describing you as "A doctor who does abortions," you know? It's I'm like putting a target on you, all the sudden, when it's supposed to be just another procedure.

I was talking to another doctor, today, on my radio show. And she was like, "Listen? You need to be telling people, do you know how many pregnancies we end for medical reasons? Do you know how hard it is on the body? Do you know how many pregnancies fail, that you're making it sound like it's just an option, like it's contraception, and that's not the reality."

Do you see that as well?

GILBERT: I see abortion as health care, as normal health care that is a part of a reproductive person's right. Anyone capable of becoming pregnant should have a right to abortion. And that's how I see it.

So, in my mind, while saying I'm an abortion provider, I'm a doctor, who provides abortion, I'm actually quite proud of that label. So, you are welcome to call me that.

CUOMO: I'm saying I just, you know, you do a lot of things. That is one thing that you do. And I understand absolutely. I'm not saying it is a Scarlet Letter. I'm saying I just didn't want to limit you, and try to play to some full controversy.

The idea of why pregnancies are ended, the concept is, "Well, you need this law, because women just use this like contraception. They don't have to have it. There's nothing wrong with any of these things. All these babies would have been perfect. And they just kill them for no good reason."

In your experience, what comes through these operating rooms, in terms of why the abortions are necessary?

GILBERT: We see patients for a vast, vast list of reasons that could be anywhere from having other children that they need to care for.

It could be someone, with medical comorbidities, where the pregnancy itself puts their life at risk. There are some medical conditions that have upwards of a 30 percent risk of mortality, in the setting of continuing a pregnancy.

There are patients, who are in poverty, who don't have the financial means, to continue their pregnancy, and choose to parent. There are patients, who are diagnosed with fetal anomalies, which, usually doesn't occur, until well into their second trimester.

For all of these reasons, and many, many more, we care for these patients, and we see these patients every day.

CUOMO: So Doc, what happens now?

GILBERT: It's a great question. We are keeping our clinic doors open, in any way that we possibly can. We are complying with the restrictive laws that are now in front of us. We knew that this was likely a reality. We've been planning for this.

It's devastating. It is heart-wrenching to have conversations with patients, who present to us, either unaware of the law, or aware of the law, but were right on the cusp of six weeks, and we detect cardiac activity, and we have to tell them that we can no longer provide them the health care that they have the right to.

CUOMO: Dr. Gilbert, I appreciate your frankness. I appreciate your experience in this situation. Thank you for taking this opportunity.

GILBERT: Thank you. I appreciate it.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.









CUOMO: OK, the White House says there are about 100 Americans left in Afghanistan. I don't know if that number is right. I don't know where they get it. But that's the number.

We do know that they say that a majority of the Afghans, who worked alongside our military, were left behind. Now, if you've been watching this show, you know we've been following. And one person, in particular, Sara, we have been using her for a metaphor of this movement.

She's an American. She was an interpreter. Her life is in danger, every second she's in Afghanistan. So far, she and so many others can't even get anyone with the State Department, on the phone.

But they've been lucky. Sara has been lucky. She was able to turn to veterans, who've been putting together what you see online, called #DigitalDunkirk. They're working stateside with groups like AlliedExtract, and folks like my next guest, to find ways out of Afghanistan, for these people.

So, let's find out about Sara, and also a new question. Is the State Department trying to stop the work of these veterans, who are helping people, like Sara? If so, why?

Harvey Graham-Green joins us now.

Welcome to PRIME TIME, and thank you for what you're doing.


CUOMO: First, let's start with Sara. What do you know about her status?

GRAHAM-GREEN: Sara is safe. Her - and the children are safe. We are continuing to do everything that we can, as a group, to keep it that way. For operational reasons, I can't go any deeper, as of now. But we are doing everything that we can to keep her, and the children safe, and they are currently safe.

CUOMO: Last thing I want to do is compromise her safety.

Now, Harvey, help me with this. And I know this can be sensitive. It's less sensitive for you, because you don't have U.S. Reservist restrictions on you, and fears of the chain of command.


But I have heard several accounts now, from these NGOs, and these "Digital Dunkirk" types like you that you're doing the logistics. You're raising the money. You're getting the people. You're getting them someplace. You're staging to take them out.

And then, you are being told you can't, by some government agency, the Department of State, the FAA, something else.

Is that true?

GRAHAM-GREEN: Yes, you are absolutely correct.

The fact that I'm on here tonight, to speak for this, one of our U.S. combat veterans, was due to come on, but due to pressure, he's facing, from his chain of command, he asked me to come on, because I am more impartial.

And, at this point, we are a group of groups. We're linked together by people like Sam Rogers. Under his leadership, we're achieving the impossible daily. We're even at a point, where we have aircraft available, through partner organizations, something we couldn't have dreamed of, five weeks ago.

The issue at this point is we need somewhere to land this aircraft. Charter flights coming out of Afghanistan, it's not a new thing. But it is an emerging situation. And we need somewhere to land the aircraft.

At this time, the State Department, are not only blocking that, but they are also putting into place other restrictions such as placing cease-and-desist orders, on NGO.

As it stands, with everything that we've done, with everything that our people on the ground are achieving, doing the impossible every day, the last piece that we need to put in place, the thing that is stopping Sara, from coming home, is the fact that the State Department will not give us anywhere to land our charter there.

CUOMO: Let me let you hear what the State Department said about this today.


NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We understand the concern that many are feeling, as they try to facilitate charters, and other forms of passage, out of Afghanistan.

The fact of the matter, now, is that we do not have personnel on the ground. We do not have air assets in the country. We do not control the airspace, whether over Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the region.


CUOMO: Does that work for you?

GRAHAM-GREEN: I mean, the first call-out here, Chris, is the fact that if they had fulfilled their promise, for the evacuation, and got everybody out, by August 31st, this wouldn't be a conversation we were having.

In terms of security, there are plenty of U.S. airfield, in the region, where, these, aircraft, can land, and the passengers can be screened safely, get their first night's sleep, without fear, for probably a week, and then, can come home, back where they belong, in the U.S.

I understand that why the security is concerned. Flights out of any region, which has an active ISIS presence, or any other localized terrorist group, that is a threat we see across this region. But that is not in itself reason enough, to stop flying American citizens out that we have left, well, the State Department has left, in Afghanistan.

CUOMO: Have you had any indication that things will change, in terms of your ability to get Sara out?

GRAHAM-GREEN: We've had no indication that there is any willingness, from the State Department.

Workarounds that have been looked into, by our partners, especially landing in third countries, permits have been denied. And a source within the State Department has told us that that is due to pressure being applied by the State Department.

CUOMO: Harvey, as I said to everybody, I've been working with, on the "Digital Dunkirk" side, one, it's not like you're just some bunch of nobodies.

Almost all of you have an aspect of military Intelligence work, and veterans' work, where you understand the processing, and you know these people involved. So, it's not like you're coming at this blind.

But you have my number. I will be always a text away or a call away. And we are going to put pressure on the State Department, starting yesterday.

Harvey Graham-Green, thank you very much, and good luck with your work.

GRAHAM-GREEN: Thank you, Chris. Thank you for all support and being our voice.

CUOMO: Absolutely. Somebody's got to do it.

Listen, I'm going to go to break on this. But people in the government, I know you're listening.

This is one of those situations, where when these situations, not if, go bad, and people were waiting, and it can be traced back to you, not doing something, because you don't have the process, because it doesn't fit, how you usually do things, you will regret it.

We'll be right back.









CUOMO: Can't make the mistake, we can't turn away from stories like the killing of Ahmaud Arbery. You deal with it in the flush, and then you move on.

So, almost two years now, his case is finally going to trial. And now, beyond the men, charged in his death, the former local prosecutor, who initially declined to press charges, has been indicted herself.

We can't let these cases fall aside. So, let's bring in Lee Merritt, who's representing the Arbery family.

Counselor, thank you for joining us once again. Were you surprised by the indictment? And what does it mean for you, in the overall sense of justice?

LEE MERRITT, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF AHMAUD ARBERY, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I was surprised because it's unprecedented precedent. I have never seen a prosecutor, who failed to bring charges, who helped, actively participated in the cover-up, of misconduct, indicted criminally themselves.

What this means for us, first, it's a signal, signaling to other prosecutors that if they are not forthcoming, with the evidence, if they somehow participate, or put their finger on, on the scale of justice that they can face consequences themselves.

But for the family, who, you have to know, when this first happened, and you've had Wanda, on the show many times, that's who they went to, the local elected prosecutors, to say who's going to be held accountable. And she was left in a dark for 72 days.

And so, this was a big relief to her, because she was as offended by that, as she was, about the murder of her son.


CUOMO: Also, the idea of what do you believe the prosecution will show?

MERRITT: The prosecution will show - the question is in regards to the McMichaels, or in regards to Jackie Johnson?

CUOMO: Jackie Johnson, the D.A.

MERRITT: OK. OK. With regard to Jackie Johnson, what was presented to the grand jury was first, evidence that Jackie Johnson had a relationship with Gregory McMichael, the father of the shooter, Travis McMichael that, immediately became involved in the case.

The first phone call that Gregory McMichael made, from the scene of the shooting, was to Jackie Johnson, saying "I'm in trouble, and I need help."

And instead of opting out, and saying that she had a conflict, she called the subsequent prosecutor, George Barnhill, and began to discuss, and get his advice, on the case, before ultimately, referring the case over to him, without disclosing to anyone that she had referenced him, for this case, or that he too had a conflict concerning Gregory McMichael.

And so, the prosecution will show that she violated her oath of office that Ahmaud Arbery or, and his family wasn't given a fair shake at justice, from the beginning, because she put her thumb, onto the scale, by using relationships that she had developed over time.

CUOMO: Understood. Counselor Merritt, thank you very much. We'll keep following the situation.

MERRITT: Thank you.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.