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At This Hour

Court Docs: FBI Infiltrated Bible Study Group Whose Members Wanted to Test Homemade Bombs and Secede from U.S.; Death Toll Rises to 46 After 10 Bodies Found in Condo Collapse; Biden Brings Infrastructure Pitch to Chicago Suburb; New York City Honors Health Care Heroes with Parade; Sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson Will Not Compete in Tokyo Olympics; ESPN Attempts to Contain Rachel Nichols Controversy. Aired 11:30a-12p ET.

Aired July 07, 2021 - 11:30   ET



WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: At one meeting they found that there were 50 jars, basically, full of materials and the intention was to at some point maybe test these materials that ended up looking and operating or intended to operate like Molotov cocktails.

It's important to know that Fi Duong has not been indicted in any of the cases that -- has not been formally indicted but he has also not been charged for anything related to activity that would have occurred after January 6.

He's only charged in the January 6 insurrection. His attorney did not have a comment; he's not yet entered a plea. But the point here is, Boris, that there are still people out there who are inclined to violent extremism who are still operating and this is exactly the thing that federal officials were warning about.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Whitney, including that suspect that was interested in bombing the RNC and the DNC and the Capitol, that person is still out there. Hopefully officials will find them soon. Whitney wild, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

We have some breaking news to bring you. Officials in South Florida have announced an increase in the death toll in that condo building collapse in Surfside as the search for victims enters the 14th day.

Let's get straight to CNN's Leyla Santiago, she's live in Surfside with the breaking details. Leyla, what did you learn from this press briefing that ended moments ago.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, apologies if it's a little loud. We are currently seeing dump trucks making their way out of the pile with concrete. But we did just have the mayor of Miami- Dade give us an update saying that they have recovered an additional 10 bodies.

That brings the death toll now to 46. So that is the latest update. But I've got to tell you, we have been watching officials give us updates twice a day here since this building collapsed. And we just watched a very emotional mayor leave the podium in tears after providing the latest update to the media, to the world really, as we see behind me search and rescue teams continuing to dig in that pile.

I can see equipment from where I am right now still going down in there. And I actually had a chance earlier to get closer where you could really see the magnitude of how large that is and get a good grasp of what the challenges are for the search and rescue teams.

I did speak to a task force member this morning and he said that he understood very well that they represent hope for these families, and they believe that, if they work as hard as they possibly can, that they will bring families either closer to hope or closer to closure.

Of course, a lot of attention right now on the weather. They are hoping that they can continue to work without the rain, without the lightning and without the wind that has been an issue over the last 48 hours and has caused some delays in the search. Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes. That uncertainty really making the process of grieving and trying to find closure all the more difficult. The death toll now at 46. More than 100 people still remain missing in Surfside. Leyla Santiago, thank you so much for that report.

President Biden is hitting the road again on his way to Illinois to pitch investments he wants to make in families and education. We're going to talk to the mayor of the town where the president is speaking after a quick break. Stay with us.




JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What he's going to do is break down all the specific details and specifically areas like extending the Child Tax Credit, making sure that kids have access to universal pre-K, community college. How can you make people's lives better so that more women can come into the workforce, more families, more kids can be competitive over the long term.


SANCHEZ: That's White House press secretary Jen Psaki previewing the president's visit to a suburb in Chicago today as part of the president's pitch for human infrastructure. Biden hitting the road across the Midwest the last few weeks. And today he's visiting Crystal Lake, Illinois. Joining us to discuss the visit, the mayor of Crystal Lake, Haig Haleblian.

Mayor Haleblian, we appreciate you joining us. What does it mean to you and your constituents to have President Biden visiting Crystal Lake today?

MAYOR HAIG HALEBLIAN, CRYSTAL LAKE, ILLINOIS: Well it's -- Boris, it's real exciting for us. This is the first time in the history of Crystal Lake that a sitting president is coming to our community. So everybody is very excited about this.

SANCHEZ: And notably close to that area in 2020 there was an outpouring of support for former President Donald Trump. Are you confident that President Biden is going to get a warm reception there?

HALEBLIAN: I know he's going to get a warm reception. It's been very well planned out by the white house, and I expect that he will be warmly greeted.

SANCHEZ: So let's talk about what he's there to pitch. President Biden set to talk about human infrastructure. What comes to your mind when you hear that term, human infrastructure?


HALEBLIAN: I think what -- my take from it is that he's -- he wants to invest in education in all communities. And let's just use Crystal Lake as an example or county -- McHenry County. You know there's a need for folks, welders, trades people, nursing.

And our college, McHenry County College has been very proactive on implementing programs to fulfill those needs for our local economy. So I expect to hear that he would like to expand on this platform and certainly looking forward to that.

SANCHEZ: And, Mayor, walk us through how the president's visit is going to draw attention to some of the priorities that you have for Crystal Lake?

HALEBLIAN: Well, you know for -- we're a very well-run city. And we -- but as with all municipalities, there's always a need for updating infrastructure, whether it be water, sewer, roads. So we're always looking for federal assistance, state assistance. So I suspect that's what I'm going to talk to him about today.

SANCHEZ: All right. Mayor Haig Haleblian, thank you so much for the time. I hope you have a great visit with the president of the United States.

HALEBLIAN: Looking forward to it. And thank you for your time, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course. So New York City right now is honoring healthcare heroes with a ticker tape parade. We're going to take you to the parade in just a few minutes. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: You are looking at live pictures from Lower Manhattan where New York City is celebrating healthcare heroes and essential workers in the biggest way possible, a ticker-tape parade through the canyon of heroes. There is live music. There are floats. There's awkward dancing brought to you by Bill de Blasio.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is live on the parade route with more. Shimon, this is really a special day to recognize people that risked everything to keep New Yorkers safe during the pandemic.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly an exciting day for many of the people who have come out here because it's been really their first opportunity to enjoy a parade in this city. So this is the Canyon of Heroes, saved for the most special of moments, the big heroes, war heroes, sports heroes, all sorts of heroes.

But today it's about the frontline workers, essential workers, restaurant workers, people who took the task on during the height of the pandemic to make sure the city kept running. Here you have different union members. There are members of the FDNY here.

We've seen nurses out here, doctors from all of the different hospitals throughout the city who are on the front lines dealing with the pandemic and also the clerks, the store clerks, the grocery store clerks, many of the people who were out working making sure we were fed, making sure people had goods that we needed.

We've even seen UPS workers out here. Of course they were so essential in all of the deliveries. But this has been really a special day for many of the people who have been out here. Also, there have been a lot of spectators out here as well.

Boris, you can see there are several kids here, families coming out all in one big celebration, certainly an exciting moment for people here in New York City, it's given them the opportunity to come out here, come together and celebrate so many of the workers who were out there on the front lines dealing with the height of this pandemic, Boris.

SANCHEZ: And Shimon, as we're speaking, we're watching Bill de Blasio's sort of awkward dancing. I'm curious if you've talked to people about any concerns they might have about the Delta variant?

We were just speaking with experts saying that the pandemic is far from over in certain pockets of the country. In New York it seems like thing are going well.

PROKUPECZ: No, things here certainly are going well. I just see some of the pipes and drums from the FDNY go by here. Look, for the most part, people out here feel safe. They -- the city set up a situation where, if you've been vaccinated, you're allowed to come out here.

If you're not vaccinated, they urge people to wear masks, but certainly the city, the mayor has felt very safe about this, city officials have felt safe about this. For now they feel that they have this under control. One of the big issues here has been the heat. The ceremony was supposed to take place after the parade. That has been canceled because there was some concern over the heat.

So what they've done, they're just going to have the ceremony on the ground. They've shortened some of that. But again, it's just been a day of a lot of celebration. People clapping. And I just think it's such a huge moment for the city for many of us.

I was here throughout the entire pandemic, to have this opportunity to come together to thank these people for what they did. This is certainly a big moment.


The mayor wanted to do this. He finally got his wish. And here we are today celebrating all these great people.

SANCHEZ: Yes, undoubtedly a special moment commemorating the work of so many at such an awful time. Hopefully a chapter that is soon closed in the history of this country. Shimon Prokupecz from New York City. Thank you so much.

Coming up, America's fastest woman sprinter will not be competing for Team USA in the Olympics. Listen to her reaction after a quick break.



SANCHEZ: We're learning this morning that sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson will not be competing in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. USA track and field choosing not to include America's fastest woman on the roster for the relay team after a one-month suspension for marijuana use.

Richardson tested positive for the drug after winning the individual 100 meter race at trials last month in Oregon. Marijuana is legal there but it is banned under Olympic anti-doping rules.

Joining us now, its CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. She's also a sports columnist at USA Today. Christine, we appreciate having you on. The justification from the World Anti-Doping Agency to ban cannabis is almost like a commercial for cannabis. They say that it decreases anxiety, fear and depression.

It helps athletes overcome traumatic events. There's been back lash calling that policy hypocritical. I'm curious why you think USA track and field is taking such a stance after she finishes that one month suspension.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Boris, the main reason is it's following the rules as they exist today. And even in response and in their announcement that Sha'Carri would not be part of the relay team, which by the way, was not entirely unexpected because her results were wiped out because of the marijuana positive test and being banned.

And so that meant she would have had to be put on the team as an alternate in the relay and they had already named a couple athletes to that. So they would have had to have taken one of them off. Very messy situation and very unfortunate.

But USA track and field did say they are totally sympathetic and they understand the situation. And everyone I've talked to, the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency, the individual international governing bodies people are saying let's look at this again. Let's talk about marijuana, let's see if it isn't time to have it taken off the banned list.

I think that's a very natural conversation to have and an important one, Boris. But right now the rules state as of now, that -- that it is banned. And because of that, USA track and field decided not to go against that.

And you know, this is an international story. It's not just our U.S. point of view. There are a lot of countries that disagree with the U.S. on this and I think that's part of the conversation as well.

SANCHEZ: That is a really good point. I want to get your response to Richardson's reaction. She says that her misfortune is going to help women's track and field. She tweeted out this, quote, "You can't be mad at that." What's your reaction to how she's responded throughout all of this?

BRENNAN: She's been amazing. Just amazing. What a role model for handling difficult tough times. No, matter what we think of whether marijuana should be banned or not. Just a class act all the way.

Compare her reaction to the whining, the complaining, the lying, throwing people under the bus of Lance Armstrong and so many others over the years. Sha'Carri Richardson is a model of class and dignity and grace and hopefully that will hold her in good stead and help her moving forward in terms of endorsements, the 2024 Paris Olympics, which are only three years away.

So much disappointment for her right now. But what an amazing performance as a role model for all people, not just girls or young women or people of color. But everyone to see how she's handled this.

SANCHEZ: She certainly has a bright future. I do want to ask about an ongoing controversy over at ESPN surrounding broadcaster Rachel Nichols. Nichols who is white was caught on tape saying that her colleague, Maria Taylor, who's black, got a job hosting NBA will finals coverage because ESPN was quote, feeling pressure on diversity. What is your take on all of this?

BRENNAN: Boris, I know both women Maria and Rachel. I've known Rachel since she was in High school. I mentored her. She went to Northwestern as I did and I've known her for years and we worked together at The Washington Post. And I think it's best to quote Rachel on this.

She has talked about how deeply, deeply sorry she is for what happened. She has apologized. Obviously, this is not good but her apology I think stands as the answer to the question. Her apology, she went on air and apologized. She's also been apologizing under -- the way The New York Times reported it.

She's also been trying to reach out to Maria. It's a really, really tough situation. Obviously something Rachel should not have done. Of course it was captured on a hot mic, so to speak. That doesn't change it. And, of course again, her apology, I believe, stands for itself.

SANCHEZ: Yes, notably, Maria Taylor right now is in this limbo with her contract at ESPN. They've yet to give an indication that they plan to renew her. Perhaps she hasn't accepted terms. Still unclear. We have to leave the conversation there though.

Christine Brennan, thank you so much for the time. Always appreciate it.

BRENNAN: Thank you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course.