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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Trump Organization CFO Weisselberg Charged with Alleged 15-Year Tax Scheme; Interview with Rep. Adam Schiff; Sources: McCarthy Threatens To Punish Any Republican Who Agrees To Serve On Jan.6 Committee; Search And Rescue Effort Resumes At Condo Site. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired July 01, 2021 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: Wally Funk was a test pilot, the first female F.A.A. inspector and the first female investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board. Well, she will be the oldest person who have flown in space when all is said and done. No word from Bezos yet about Branson's news, but this is all just very cool.
All right, thanks for joining us tonight. I'll see you back here tomorrow. AC 360 is now.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The man once described as the most senior member of the Trump Organization not named Trump is now facing criminal charges, so is the company.
And tonight, the question is, where does that leave the man whose name is on the door?
John Berman here in for Anderson.
Few people have worked longer or more closely with Donald Trump than Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg. He was charged today in Manhattan along with the company and Trump Payroll Corporation in a 15-count indictment alleging tax fraud, conspiracy, falsifying business records, and scheming to defraud the State of New York.
This is a big deal, even if you agree with his lawyers that this shouldn't be a criminal matter. It's a big deal, even if you agree with the former President to call the case, quote, "The political witch hunt by the radical left Democrats with New York now taking over the assignment."
Why is this a big deal? Simple. The investigation is not over. The pressure just grew enormously today on Allen Weisselberg, and no one disputes how closely connected he has been to the man whose books he has kept for decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: Every single thing, whether it was the acquisition of paperclips, lightbulbs, furniture, mattresses, you name it, right, Allen Weisselberg's kids payments, rent, everything would have Donald's signature on it or his initial.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: In a moment, we'll dig deeper into where all this could be going. First, the facts of the case from CNN's Paula Reid.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The namesake company of former President Trump now charged with tax crimes along with one of its top executives. Allen Weisselberg, the Chief Financial Officer for the Trump Organization led into court in handcuffs.
To the judge, prosecutors described a 15-year tax scheme charging Weisselberg, Trump Payroll Corporation, and the Trump Organization 15 counts against the CFO and 10 against the former President's namesake company.
Prosecutors allege Weisselberg evaded taxes on $1.7 million in compensation. All three defendants pleaded not guilty.
Weisselberg's attorney announcing in a statement, he will fight the charges. His indictment and charges against the Trump Organization come after more than a two-year probe by the Manhattan DA, Cy Vance. An investigation, which ultimately led to obtaining Trump's tax records in a Supreme Court battle.
Investigators have been focusing on perks awarded to employees like free apartments, cars, and even school tuition. Benefits that would amount to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, and were allegedly not properly reported for tax purposes.
QUESTION: Allen, how are you feeling?
REID (voice-over): The Trump Organization fired back today claiming prosecutors are using Weisselberg, quote, "As a pawn in a scorched earth attempt to harm the former President." Saying in a statement, "The District Attorney is bringing a criminal prosecution involving employee benefits that neither the I.R.S. nor any other District Attorney would ever think of bringing. This is not justice, this is politics."
Lawyers for the Trump Organization spoke after court.
ALAN FUTERFAS, ATTORNEY FOR TRUMP ORGANIZATION: If the name of the company was something else, I don't think these charges would have been brought.
BERMAN: And CNN's Paula Reid joins us now from the courthouse. Paula, I understand there's some new reporting on the unindicted co- conspirator number one listed in the indictment, who many thought for a moment could be the former President, but what are you learning? REID: That's right. A lot of people thought it could be the former President, but if you look closely at the charges, it was clear that this person was likely someone who was really involved in the financial side of things, someone who allegedly helped Weisselberg conceal this additional compensation and avoid taxes.
Well, CNN has learned that the unindicted co-conspirator is the longtime Trump Organization comptroller, Jeff McConney. Now, we know he has testified before the grand jury where he was asked about matters including compensation.
BERMAN: All right, thank you for clearing that up. Paula Reid, stick around.
I want to bring in Trump biographer and Bloomberg opinion senior columnist, Tim O'Brien. He has faced off against the former President in court over the factuality of his reporting and Tim won the case; also with us, CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, a former Federal prosecutor. Jeffrey, this 15-count indictment, how big of a deal is this?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's certainly a very big deal for Allen Weisselberg. The evidence outlined in the indictment -- and we'll see if the government can prove it -- looks really devastating.
I mean, maybe you can argue that a company car and a company apartment were legitimately paid for by the Trump Organization, but how in the world is he going to explain why the Trump Organization paid for the private school tuition of his grandchildren and he didn't pay taxes on that money. That's a very devastating fact.
TOOBIN: Plus, a spreadsheet is described in the indictment where basically his compensation is listed and the money paid to him is reduced by each payment that was made for the car, for the apartment, for the private school, suggesting that everyone involved knew that this was compensation that he should have been paying taxes on.
Now, it is less clear what Donald Trump's involvement of all of this is, and I think it's important to point out that, you know, he is not mentioned in the indictment. He is obviously the big boss, as Michael Cohen pointed out in that piece, but actual evidence against Donald Trump in the indictment is basically nonexistent.
BERMAN: Well, first, let's get smoking spreadsheet into the vernacular, if we can. Second to the point of how closely the former President might be tied to this. Tim, I want to ask you about that, because you have this piece in Bloomberg today, which is really interesting, and it references the 2007 deposition, stemming from an unsuccessful libel suit the former President filed against you.
What did Trump say under oath about how closely he worked with Weisselberg on the company finances? TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, SENIOR COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG OPINION: That they worked hand in glove, John, and that it wasn't Trump merely signing off on documents that Weisselberg prepared for him without any input from Trump. These were documents they presented to banks and other entities that they were seeking loans from that purported to present an accurate snapshot of the company's valuations and finances.
And we deposed Trump for two days in in 2007, eight hours a day, it is 16 hours of sworn testimony, and it is very clear in that testimony that he and Allen worked very, very closely and tightly with a lot of communications and joint coordination around those documents. And that's always been the case at the Trump Organization.
No significant financial decision is made without Trump signing off on it. I think the evidentiary hurdle prosecutors have is proving that anything that was illegal, Trump knew of it, and also intended to break the law when it occurred. That's the hurdle that Vance's prosecutors have to overcome.
One little thing I would mention just off of what Jeff said about no evidence of Trump in the indictment, there is a line in there that Trump signed, or it was set up so that Trump would sign some of the checks that were used to compensate Weisselberg off the books.
But I also don't think this document overall is there to bring Donald Trump down. This document, I think is more sweeping than people anticipated it to be, and it's a pretty heavy blow landing on Weisselberg's shoulders. He is going to face possibly at the most a 15-year prison sentence. I doubt it will go that far. But he's a 74- year-old man, a two-year prison sentence is going to scare him.
And I think that that, at the end of the day is the function of this indictment. It's to encourage Allen Weisselberg to flip. I think the other thing in the indictment is it references other individuals at the Trump Organization who had knowledge of these events, and I think that that also indicates that other people -- there might be other shoes to drop among witnesses.
BERMAN: Paula, what's your reporting on whether or not Allen Weisselberg might flip or cooperate with this investigation?
REID: We know from our sources that Weisselberg it seems has made it clear to prosecutors that he did not intend to cooperate, he would not flip. But today's case was much more substantial than we expected.
Based on these allegations, it is likely that Weisselberg would face prison time, and even though he said you wouldn't cooperate, he had a little time in handcuffs this morning, looking at the weight of this evidence, it could be quite sobering.
Also important to note that the charges allege these benefits were extended not just to Mr. Weisselberg, but also to other members of his family, and while many people note his loyalties to the former President, and certainly you would want to protect him, he may want to protect his family even more. So at this point, only he knows if he is sort of experiencing a change of heart at this point. But this is all by design, prosecutors have been pressuring him and these charges certainly increase that pressure.
TOOBIN: Berman, this is also an appropriate time to point out that as we all know, Donald Trump does not use e-mail. He does not use -- he does not send text. Anything about his involvement in these schemes will have to come from the testimony of others, and it is a questionable thing whether you could build an actual believable criminal case on the words of Michael Cohen, who was he convicted of lying.
TOOBIN: Allen Weisselberg who is fighting for his life, you know, his estranged -- Weisselberg's estranged daughter-in-law. I mean in the absence of texts and emails, it's going to be very tough to make a case against Donald Trump.
BERMAN: You know, Tim, very quickly -- cooperate to what end though? Weisselberg could give them what? Bring what additional charges? We keep hearing the investigation is not over -- into what?
O'BRIEN: Well, I think the meat of this is possible, a very robust bank fraud, if they get it; more robust tax fraud, if they get it. I think money laundering is in play. Falsification of business records, and Allen Weisselberg is an eyewitness to Trump's thinking and behavior around this. But as Jeff points out, that only goes so far.
The e-mail thing is an interesting issue because while Trump didn't personally use e-mail, he directed his administrative assistant, Rhona Graff to send e-mails on his behalf. And she would also say in those e-mails, Mr. Trump has directed me to do X, Y, and Z.
If prosecutors have gotten their hands on Rhona Graff's hard drive, they are going to have more evidence in print of Trump's thinking at different points in time.
With the tax returns, they would have gotten the accountant's work product. There would be evidence in the work product of directives they received from Trump and Weisselberg, if he handled the tax returns in a certain way. But they do need more than just people like Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg to make their case.
BERMAN: All right, Tim O'Brien, Paula Reid, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you all very much.
Just ahead, more on the man at the center of the 15-count indictment and his deep ties to the family, Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.
And later, the latest from Surfside, Florida why search and rescue efforts were temporarily paused and what President Biden told the families missing loved ones.
BERMAN: More now on the 15-count indictment against the former President's namesake company, also a man who may be a mystery to some. So just who is Allen Weisselberg? Simply calling the Trump Organization's Chief Financial Officer doesn't really convey how close Weisselberg is to the family and how far back those ties go. Randi Kaye has the details on the man who may know all.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Replacing George this week is my Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, and you think George is tough, wait until you see Allen.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump's longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg enjoying his 15-minutes of fame on "The Apprentice" years ago. But these days, in real life, Weisselberg would much rather avoid the spotlight.
KAYE (on camera): Can you say how many times have you met with investigators?
JENNIFER WEISSELBERG, ALLEN WEISSELBERG'S EX-DAUGHTER-IN-LAW: Absolutely. It's still ongoing.
KAYE (voice-over): Jennifer Weisselberg is Allen Weisselberg's ex- daughter-in-law.
J. WEISSELBERG: There's a forensic accountant that was originally appointed by the state and is now working with my new criminal attorney to dive deep into the tax returns, statements of net worth, bank accounts, credit cards.
KAYE (voice-over): She and Weisselberg's son, Barry, divorced in 2018. With Trump and his company, the Trump Organization now indicted and others under investigation for possible tax fraud, insurance fraud, grand larceny, and other alleged schemes to defraud, Jennifer Weisselberg is a go-to witness for investigators because of her knowledge of her former father-in-law, Allen Weisselberg and his role in the Trump Organization.
She says conversations with investigators have focused on the compensation and gifts received from the Trump Organization.
KAYE (on camera); Does it surprise you that investigators are zeroing in on Allen Weisselberg?
J. WEISSELBERG: Absolutely not. I mean, he is the money person.
KAYE (voice-over): Weisselberg has been the company's money man for more than two decades. He first started working with the Trump family in the 1970s when Trump's father, Fred Trump was in charge.
These days, he is not just the CFO of the Trump Organization, he also handles the Trump family's personal expenses. He knows things and Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance and New York's Attorney General who are investigating Trump want details.
There's the issue of the so-called hush money payments, which were allegedly used to silence two women who came forward during campaign 2016 alleging they'd had affairs with Donald Trump, affairs the former President denies.
Michael Cohen, Trump's former fixer and attorney says he secretly recorded a conversation with Trump talking about payments to one of the women. The recordings were released in 2018. And on them, Cohen mentions Allen Weisselberg, which would mean Weisselberg was in the know about the shell company allegedly set up to make the payment.
COHEN: I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with funding.
KAYE (voice-over): Cohen has said both Trump and Weisselberg had knowledge of the hush money payments. He testified about this before the House Oversight Committee in 2019.
COHEN: Other checks to reimburse me for the hush money payments were signed by Donald Trump Jr. and Allen Weisselberg.
KAYE (voice-over): Throughout his testimony, he mentions Weisselberg many, many times.
COHEN: The bottom signature, I believe is Allen Weisselberg's. I was asked again with Allen Weisselberg --
I was instructed by Allen --
In the office with me was Allen Weisselberg.
KAYE (voice-over): Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion and violating Federal campaign finance law among other things, and was sentenced to three years in prison.
In 2018, Weisselberg was granted limited immunity in the Cohen investigation, so that he could share information with Federal prosecutors in New York.
Trump once shared his views on immunity at a rally.
TRUMP: And if you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for?
KAYE (on camera): So when it comes to those hush money payments, would Allen Weisselberg know if Trump had knowledge of them?
J. WEISSELBERG: Absolutely, yes. He wouldn't do anything without him. He would never want -- he is not his -- he would never do anything without his approval.
[20:20:10] KAYE (voice-over): At first, Trump said he had no knowledge of the payments. Then, his attorneys admitted that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the $130,000.00 hush money payment he made the porn star, Stormy Daniels.
If Trump did make hush money payments, then he may have violated election law. The question surrounding all of it, of course, is will Allen Weisselberg cooperate and share what he knows about his boss?
KAYE (on camera): Did Donald Trump sign off on everything that that Allen Weisselberg touched or did he have the ability to go rogue?
J. WEISSELBERG: Allen Weisselberg doesn't go rogue. Allen Weisselberg and him have a conversation about everything that they do together. Yes.
You know, Donald Trump knows everything that he is doing.
KAYE (voice-over): Weisselberg has pleaded not guilty to 15 felony charges in connection with an alleged tax fraud scheme dating back to 2005. The Trump Organization was also charged with 10 counts and pleaded not guilty.
But Weisselberg's boss, Donald Trump has not been charged with a crime.
KAYE (on camera): Given what you know about Allen Weisselberg's relationship with Donald Trump, do you think that Mr. Weisselberg would ever flip on him and cooperate with investigators in this case?
J. WEISSELBERG: Absolutely, he would. He will protect himself.
BERMAN: And joining us now is Randi Kaye in Doral, Florida outside the Trump National Golf Course, which of course, is owned by the Trump Organization. So Randi, were you able to get any sense of Jennifer Weisselberg's reaction to the charges today, given her many meetings with investigators?
KAYE: John, I spoke with a representative who was answering questions on her behalf and he told me that she says she is pleased that the truth is finally out. Those are her words.
But if you look at the range of charges, John, it's everything that Jennifer Weisselberg has been talking about. She says that she and her ex-husband received from the Trump Organization an apartment in New York City, a car, vacations, tuition, and in that indictment is that $350,000.00 tuition payment paid by the Trump Organization to a private school in New York City, I'm told that that is for Allen Weisselberg's grandchildren, Jennifer Weisselberg's children.
So, here you have him. He is 74 years old, Allen Weisselberg. Now, he has to decide, he is not just facing an investigation, but he has now been indicted. So, certainly his loyalty is at play here, John, as he decides his next move. BERMAN: No question about that. Randi Kaye, thank you very much.
Next, why Republicans are still allergic to investigating the January insurrection, even threatening the careers of House lawmakers who joined the probe.
BERMAN: Keeping them honest tonight, a question of priorities. It is directed at the lawmakers who seem to have forgotten or choose to ignore that not so long ago, they were fleeing a violent mob bent on overturning the election and maybe hanging the Vice President and the House Speaker while they were at it.
Tonight, House Republicans are once again fleeing their responsibility to get to the bottom of what happened that day. They are refusing to serve on Democratic-controlled select investigative committees. One big incentive not to serve, well, it is coming from their boss, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who according to sources yesterday threatened to strip any Republican member of their committee assignments if they served on the Select Committee.
Today, he said he was not threatening anyone, but declined to name members to the committee, only Liz Cheney chose to serve.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I think it's clear to all the people on this committee that our oath to the Constitution, our duty, our dedication to the rule of law, and a peaceful transfer of power has to come above any concern about partisanship or about politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: She was one of just two Republicans to vote in favor of the Select Committee and one of just a few Republicans to support the bipartisan commission that died in the Senate. She was one of just a small number who voted to impeach the former President, and was stripped of her leadership post basically because of it.
So, it's not only McCarthy's message yesterday that is dampening any G.O.P. appetite for investigating the insurrection, it has become something of a habit, a priority worth enforcing and punishing dissenters for.
On the other hand, a Republican Congressman having ties with a white nationalist Holocaust denier as Paul Gosar has to Nick Fuentes, no problem. He is still on both his committees.
What about the Congressman Andrew Clyde seeing here barricading himself from the mob, by the way, was he disciplined for later trying to say the insurrectionists behave no worse than a tour group or more recently for refusing to shake a wounded officer's hand? Nope. He is still serving on the House Oversight and get this, Homeland Security Committees.
What about Congressman Matt Gaetz being investigated in connection with the alleged sex trafficking of a minor gotten him bounced from his positions? Don't be silly. He's still on the Judiciary Committee.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, she of the conspiracy theories and Jewish space lasers. Now, she was stripped of committee assignments but by Democrats after Kevin McCarthy refused to take any action to hold her accountable because whether haters, crazies, and targets of Federal sex crime investigations are offensive to him, disciplining them isn't a priority. Defending the former President is. It seems to be his first priority.
Oh, and just as a cherry on top of this hypocrisy sundae, it's not like Kevin McCarthy hates all select committees either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: With that, let's bring in California Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff. He is Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member now of this Select Committee that most Republicans want nothing to do with.
Now, Chairman, what do you think it says that Kevin McCarthy is willing to punish Republican lawmakers for serving on a Select Committee to investigate January 6, but he won't strip people committees for you know, anti-Semitism, Jewish space laser conspiracies, alliances with white supremacists. What does that say?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, that Kevin McCarthy has only one priority and that is to do whatever Donald Trump tells him to do.
Donald Trump doesn't want the events around January 6th investigated and didn't want the commission, so McCarthy opposed the commission, as did McConnell and now, the Select Committee is meeting the same opposition from McCarthy.
But we're determined to do our job nonetheless. And to develop a comprehensive, objective report of what happened prior to the 6th, what happened on the 6th, why we were so ill-prepared, and most important, make recommendations about protecting our government, our capital and our people in the future. And we'll do that regardless of what Kevin McCarthy may do.
BERMAN: So what happened even if no other Republicans besides Liz Cheney joined the committee, what happened then? SCHIFF: Well, we will go forward. The fact that they've rejected at the commission that was even five Democrats, five Republicans with, you know, combined, subpoena power, that is neither party could subpoena witnesses on their own. The fact that they would reject that demonstrates clearly they're just not willing to do their duty. And we can't, we can't force them to do their duty and uphold their oath. We can only uphold ours, but we're certainly not going to leave the events of January 6 uninvestigated in the country and protected because they won't do the jobs.
BERMAN: On the subject of subpoena power, Congressman Bennie Thompson, who will chair the select committee has said he would quote, not resist calling former President Trump to testify. Do you want to see the former president testify subpoenaed as part of this probe?
SCHIFF: We're -- I think postponing any of those kind of decisions until we are fully staffed up, and not just with our staff, but our members. And we have a chance to discuss the scope of the investigation and our priorities. There'll be plenty of time later to decide on which witnesses are most important and what evidence we need to gather. But at this point, we're still just getting squared away.
BERMAN: Kevin McCarthy, also a name. I think that some people are wondering whether or not he would be called to testify because of the phone call that he had with the President on January 6. Of course, you're no stranger to people ignoring subpoenas or not responding to subpoenas. What happens then?
SCHIFF: Well, we'll cross that bridge, I guess we'll get to it. There are mechanisms that we have to enforce our subpoenas, including holding people in contempt and going to court, but as we saw in the McGahn litigation, which took us a couple years, that's not a very viable remedy. In fact, I have a bill Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would accelerate court enforcement of congressional subpoenas so that we don't have anyone run out the clock on us like this, again, those reforms are going to be very important. But in the near term, we're going to do everything we can to make sure that we get the evidence that we need to develop that report.
BERMAN: How important is it to you to find out exactly what was happening in the White House, ask people who were there, maybe subpoena them to find out what the President was doing, what he was saying, what he was asking for during the insurrection?
SCHIFF: Well, I think it's going to be very important that we get a full body of evidence and follow the facts wherever they lead. And I don't want to prejudge what direction that will take us. We really need to discuss that as a committee. But at the end of the day, should there, should be no sacred cows. We should investigate and find out all of the factors that went into that tragedy, why there wasn't a more robust response in protecting the Capitol when it happened. What role anyone played in that, whether they're in the White House, in the Congress, in the police, you name it.
So, we want this to be comprehensive. We want it to be objective, we're going to do our best to do it in a nonpartisan way. And we'll just follow the evidence wherever it leads us.
BERMAN: Congressman Adam Schiff, I appreciate you being with us tonight.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
BERMAN: Next, President Biden in Florida today as counselor in chief, consoler in chief. Meeting with the families of those holding out hope for those still unaccounted for in the deadly condo collapse. What he told them and the latest on the search effort, when we continue.
BERMAN: Breaking news this evening on the deadly collapse of the condo in Surfside, Florida. Just a short time ago, authorities say they were able to resume the search and rescue efforts. They had been paused for almost 15 hours. After three devices monitoring cracks in the structure the structure that has remained standing went off.
And just -- engineers have secured the area. However Miami-Dade's mayor now says they are proceeding with plans for the likely demolition of the building. The number of dead remains at 18, 17 have now been identified. The latest include the two children we told you about last night as well as their mother. They as well as the father were killed. The children were 10-year-old Lucia Guara and four-year- old Emma Guara. Their mother 42-year-old Anna Lee Rodriguez, the father 52-year-old Marcus Guara had been previously identified.
All of this occurring the same day President Biden and the First Lady visited Surfside, they met behind closed doors with dozens of families still unaccounted for. About 200 in all for almost three hours. He said he told them to never give up hope, and later told reporters the families understood the odds this far out from the disaster. Once again, drawing from the family tragedies in his own life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Realistic I -- it just brought back so many, so many memories. It's bad enough. It's bad enough to lose somebody. But the hard part, the really hard part is to not know whether they survived or not. Just not have any idea. When the accident took my wife, and my family the hardest part was were my boys going to get out. Could they going to make it? And not knowing, not knowing. When you're flying over from Washington to get the news, you know, I just don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: As President Biden and the First Lady reboarding Air Force 1, the President was wearing a hat given to him by a recovery crew earlier. The hat has their names on them.
I'm joined now by the mayor of Surfside, Charles Burkett. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us. Once again, I want to ask you about the search efforts once again resuming. What can you tell us about how it was determined that it is safe to start again?
CHARLES BURKETT, MAYOR, SURFSIDE FL: Well, that's a really good question and the mayor expressed in the press conference of Dade County, rather that we were going to get some answers regarding that. And I'm curious to understand exactly why, you know, we couldn't get started sooner, but there were probably good reasons. It was disappointing. It was a long, 15 hours, especially when minutes and hours matter, desperately.
BERMAN: And I know every -- everyone is eager for this search and rescue effort to continue in 15 hours feels like an eternity. I know today was also a very emotional day with President Biden and the First Lady there just talked to us about what was going on behind the scenes and the visit today.
BURKETT: It was great. President arrived, and we were taken into a room with about 20 officials, elected officials and high-level support personnel. Everybody talks to the President and gave their perspective of, you know, what was going on what needed to happen. The President was very, very attentive. He basically in so many words, said, listen, I'm here to tell you that you're going to get whatever you need. Towards the end of that meeting, I reached out to the President because the little girl who I had come across praying for her father in the rubble, late one night, had called me and asked me if she could meet the President. And I gave the President her picture, and told the President the story, and it was a very emotional moment for all of us at the meeting. And the President looked at me and he said, I absolutely want to meet her, please have her come right away.
So I called and had the police department bring her up, the President met her, gave her a hug, reassured her, and I think really boosted the morale of not only that little girl, but everybody around her. So, my hat's off to the President. He did what he said he was going to do the day after his office called me. They've followed through beautifully. He's done his job. And he can be very proud of that.
BERMAN: That little girl still waiting for word on her father. We learned today from the Miami-Dade Mayor that authorities are proceeding with plans for the likely demolition of the part of the building that is still standing. And that's a tough word, I know. For the families still waiting, and still holding out some kind of hope. What kind of a sense can you give us the timeline there?
BURKETT: Well, I don't think it's a tough word. I think that when there's a choice between knocking that building down, or, you know, pulling people out of the rubble, I think it's an easy choice. I met with the governor early this morning to talk about just that subject while we were stopped. And he and I both agreed that if the building's the problem, we need to get rid of the problem. And to that end, we agreed that we would take preparatory steps in that his emergency operations director started to get some information on demolition companies and I directed my building official to do the same thing.
So, that at the point where Mayor Cava made a decision, she would at least have some of the homework that had already been done, so we wouldn't lose any time.
BERMAN: And I understand right now the search efforts have resumed in three of this, this -- there are nine grids, and they're able to safely search in three of the grids, the remaining six not being searched is that because of concerns still about the building?
BURKETT: Well, you know, I was out there, again, around 5:00 to do a check, because I had been told by the fire chief that the work might start in an hour or two. So, I just wanted to go out there and see what was going on for myself and I did go out. And everybody was very excited because the work was ongoing, and it was going full speed. I will note that there was a barrier that was built some days back that sort of kept the men off of the building, the structure still remains because there had been some reports of debris that was loose or falling. And that barrier has been moved back further now.
So, that the teams are working on the pile. And -- but they're not working in those areas that have been cordoned off, unfortunately. And I hope that they'll find a way to stabilize that area so they can work in that area too. Because like I said earlier, you know, minutes count.
BERMAN: They sure do. Listen, Mayor Burkett, we appreciate your time tonight. Thank you for being with us as always. Please let us know if there's anything more that we can do.
BURKETT: I'll do it. Thank you.
BERMAN: Coming up, we told you last night about the rise in anti- Semitism here in this country but the hate isn't confined to the U.S. In Europe some protesters against COVID restrictions blame Jews for the pandemic. That's next.
BERMAN: According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents here in the U.S. are at quote near historic levels. Tonight, in the second installment of our series examining the worldwide rise of anti-Semitism, we look at Europe, where the numbers are showing the Jewish community is also under increasing attack there.
Here's CNN's Melissa Bell.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elie Rosen knows all about where heat can lead. His grandparents survived the Holocaust. They always warned him to keep his head down because there might be more to come. Last August, they were proved right. Rosen was targeted along with his synagogue in the Austrian city of Graz. Its walls made from the bricks of the synagogue destroyed in 1938 defaced.
ELIE ROSEN, ATTACK VICTIM: After this attack, those warnings of my grandparents have kind of flashback and this made me very, very sorry and are brought tears into my heart and (INAUDIBLE).
BELL (voice-over): A few days later, just outside the synagogue, Rosen was chased by a man wielding a baseball bat, but managed to get back into his car just in time.
ROSEN: Suddenly, I was scared of being physically attack are is a dimension that different than being verbal attack, which I'm used to because anti-Semitism has risen within the last year.
BELL (voice-over): In 2020, anti-Semitic incidents in Austria reach their highest level since the country began keeping records 19 years ago, and in Germany, incidents rose as much as 30% according to a German watchdog. Much of the rise in both countries is being blamed on harsh COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Protesters demonstrating against the restrictions held signs depicting forced vaccination by Jews, and to people in Berlin were shouted out by a man who they believed blamed Jews for the pandemic.
KATHARINA VON SCHNURBEIN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION ANTISEMITISM COORDINATOR: I think that anti-Semitic conspiracy myths have been there for centuries. And in fact, whenever there is a pandemic, they have come to the fore again.
BELL (voice-over): Across Europe, anti-Semitic attacks have been rising for years. From a deadly standoff in 2015, at a kosher supermarket in Paris, to Vienna, where four people were killed in a rampage outside the Stadttempel synagogue last year. And then there is the desecration of Jewish graves, like these in eastern France.
In Brussels, Rabbi Albert Guigui wears a baseball cap when he goes out to hide his very identity.
Of course, I wear a yarmulke at home, he says, but outside I prefer to cover my head less conspicuously. It's not healthy, he explains, to live in an atmosphere of fear and where you feel hunted. I think that as well as being vigilant, we must tackle the evil at the root of the problem. And that is about being different.
The Holocaust killed an estimated 6 million Jews in Europe. But as living memory gives way to feeding footage, so denial grows and hate speech returns. As well as the tension around COVID lockdowns, the violence between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East in May also drove hate towards Jews across Europe. Like here in Berlin.
BELL (voice-over): Or in Brussels, where the chance spoke of ancient battles between Jews and Muslims.
BENJAMIN WARD, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH EUROPE: We do you see a cyclical increase in expressions of anti-Semitism and anti- Semitic violence linked to events in the Middle East. But if we look more broadly at the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in Europe, we see that it's much older and also much wider, and it's really a European issue.
BELL (voice-over): The hate is also spreading online according to Human Rights Watch, horrific cartoons like this one, depicting Jews with a big hook nose, or this one in France of conspiracy theory blaming Jews for the pandemic, and shared he says mistakenly by a candidate in recent regional elections. The European Commission has a deal with tech companies to remove offensive content within 24 hours, but only once it's been alerted.
(on-camera): This is the memorial in a very hard of Vienna to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were deported during World War II. Most did not survive. It's a reminder of where words and conspiracy theories can lead. But it's also a reminder of Europe's own very violent, homegrown history of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism that has never quite disappeared.
(voice-over): Prayers continue to be heard all over Europe, from the center of Paris, to the old Stadttempel synagogue in Vienna.
BELL (voice-over): Elie Rosen says that his grandparents approach of keeping a low profile after the Holocaust was understandable, but ultimately misguided. European Jews keeping their heads down, he says has not prevented anti-Semitism from rearing its head once again.
ROSEN: Contrary to my grandparents, I will tell or my son or I will tell young Jewish people to be proud of being Jewish.
BERMAN: Melissa Bell joins us now. So Melissa, you mentioned the deal you has with tech companies to take down hate speech within 24 hours. What else is being done to fight anti-Semitism there?
BELL: Well, this new idea from European commission that they're trying to push through a new piece of legislation that would try to make tech companies much more responsible for their content, John. So what the European Commission coordinator you just heard from there explained to us was that it would be giving regulators better access to things like algorithms, how their advertising works, and how responsibly they're dealing with their content.
What she said was, they're not like postman delivering letters, the contents of which they have nothing -- they know nothing about and that's what Europe's really trying to tackle. Of course, in the meantime, the pandemic has only worse than this.
And, you know, this is something that I've heard from people whenever we've covered anti-Semitic attacks, a rabbi just a couple of years ago said look, the world needs to be sitting up and paying attention because what starts with Jews never ends there, John.
BERMAN: Melissa Bell such an important reminder and an important report. Thank you.
Next, a moment today in Florida the Senate example we can all hope to follow.
BERMAN: Sometimes the story is important not for what it says about the way things are but from what it suggests about the way things ought to be. Which is why these moments between President Biden and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during the President's visit to Surfside are so important to see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You recognize the severity of this tragedy from day one and you've been very supportive.
BIDEN: You know, what's good about this (INAUDIBLE).
DANIELLA LEVINA CAVA, MAYOR, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: Yes sir.
BIDEN: Which was really important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Governor DeSantis is a deep red Trump supporting Republican and potential 2024 presidential candidate. Joe Biden is likely to be his rival that won't change. What could change though is that others might do as these two did today, and throughout this entire crisis, what they did was their jobs. How about that?
The news continues. So let's hand over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIMETIME."