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The Lead with Jake Tapper

At Least 11 Dead, 150 Missing As Search Enters Day 6; U.S. Officials: Afghanistan Withdrawal Could Be Completed Within Days, 1,000 Troops Could Stay to Assist with Security; Delta Variant Worries; Insurrection Commission; Miami-Dade Mayor: Building Audit Has Uncovered Serious Issues. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 29, 2021 - 16:00   ET





JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Sadness in Surfside, Florida, turning to frustration, even anger.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Praying for a miracle might be all that's left on day six. Crews are still risking their own lives in a desperate attempt to find survivors of the sudden condo collapse as families grow understandably frustrated and believe that the crews might not be moving fast enough. And they're upset that warning signs might've been ignored.

The GOP squashed a bipartisan January 6th commission where they had nearly gotten everything they requested. And so, now, instead they get Speaker Pelosi with a final say on the select committee to investigate the deadly insurrection. Who might be on it?

Plus, breakthroughs and not in a good way. The Delta variant sounding some alarms, and masks in some places are now making a comeback.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we begin today with our national lead and the new troubling details about just how badly the Surfside, Florida, condominium building was deteriorating in the days, months, even years before it collapsed last Thursday. It is now today the sixth day of search and rescue efforts.

Officials in Florida have confirmed 11 people have been found dead. 150 remain missing. Today, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said the government will continue its search until every missing victim is found. And now, the state attorney for Miami-Dade county is pursuing a grand jury investigation into why the building collapsed.

This at the same time as more photos and letters and building assessments are surfacing, detailing previously known cracks in the concrete, standing water, roof damage at Champlain Towers South, as Drew Griffin now reports.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As more lawsuits are being filed across south Florida in the deadly collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium, there is more evidence residents, engineers and the condo board knew their building was deteriorating. A letter emailed on April 9th just three months ago from the condominium association board president warned the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse since the initial inspection.

That initial inspection in 2018 just three years ago had determined failed waterproofing was causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below the pool deck and entrance drive. It led to a major assessment, $15 million to repair years of damage.

ERICK DE MOURA, CHAMPLAIN TOWERS SOUTH RESIDENT: There were leaks in the garage, cracks in the balconies. So, yes, you need the money to fix it, you know? But unfortunately it was right.

GRIFFIN: Erick de Moura told CNN he received the letter in April outlining how the concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse, so extensive, roof repairs had to be incorporated.

The letter was helping homeowners to understand their share of the assessment, anywhere from $80,000 for a one-bedroom condo up to $336,000 for the penthouse unit. The bigger question remains, why the maintenance on the building had been deferred for so long and how and why no one foresaw the potential for collapse almost unheard of in a modern U.S. building.

JOEL FIGUEROA-VALLINES, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER, SEP ENGINEERS: It's extremely rare for a structure that's been standing for 40 years to all of a sudden collapse in this way. But I'm sure that forensically, we structural engineers will figure out what happened and we'll get to the bottom of it.

GRIFFIN: Records show a surfside building official had reviewed the 2018 report detailing major structural damage. Yet, told residents that it appears the building is in very good shape. The records made public show no sense of urgency to launch repairs as the homeowners association took three years to review inspections, hire engineers, and begin assessments to start work. An attorney for the condo board cautions patience.

DONNA DIMAGGIO BERGER, ATTORNEY, CHAMPLAIN TOWER SOUTH CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION: There is other buildings out there with engineering reports as they near their 40-year certification that revealed more drastic spalling and pitting, dilapidation, rebar corrosion. We need to figure out what were all the factors that went into making this building fall.


GRIFFIN (on camera): Jake, the person hired by the town of Surfside to figure that out was on the site today. He said he's come up with 30 different theories on why this could have happened, and most likely it'll be a variety of several of them. Meticulous computer modeling is what it's going to take, he says.


And that could take months -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Drew Griffin, thank you so much.

President Biden and the first lady are scheduled to visit with families and officials on the ground in Florida on Thursday.

CNN's Nick Valencia has been covering this and has been covering to some of the families on the ground there. He's outside the reunification site right now.

Nick, it's been six days since the building collapsed. Are there still families who hold out hope?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're losing hope and losing hope fast. And not only that, Jake, but they're starting to have their faith in officials tested, especially after what the mayor told a briefing that included family and friends of those unaccounted, using an example of someone surviving a collapse in Bangladesh. Some are concerned that he's giving those families and friends a false sense of hope.


MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: One of the other questions by the family members was how long can people survive under the rubble, which was an excellent question, and there didn't seem to be a good answer to that. Most notable was the one from May 2013 where a woman was pulled from the ruins of a factory in Bangladesh 17 days after it collapsed. So, I think as the governor said earlier, nobody is giving up hope here, nobody's stopping, the work goes on full force.


VALENCIA: We asked Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue about that comparison. And they said that may not be a fair one. They don't think it applies here because not only the nature of the type of collapse, the pancake- style collapse but also the types of materials that are used here in the design versus areas like the ones you see in Bangladesh or even Haiti. We've heard that comparison there too. I did ask the mayor if he thinks that any of those unaccounted. There is 150 that are still unaccounted for at this moment. If he thinks they could have survived this type of collapse, he says he thinks that there could be a miracle somewhere under that debris. What's more important though is what these families and friends think and some now, Jake, are coming to grips with never seeing their loved ones again -- Jake.

TAPPER: Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

Let's discuss with structural engineer Greg Batista. He worked in the building in 2017. He was on site after the collapse early Thursday morning.

So let's start with the "Miami Herald" reporting, if we can, Greg. A pool contractor photographed what appears to be major damage in the garage. This photo was taken just two days before the building collapsed. The contractor said there was standing water all over the parking garage, cracks in the concrete, erosion under the pool.

Is this consistent with what you saw when you worked in the building?

GREG BATISTA, PRESIDENT, G. BATISTA ENGINEERING & CONSTRUCTION: No. When I worked at the building it was just relegated to some waterproofing in the planters and had very little to do if nothing to do with the actual structure itself. So, but I have inspected these types of buildings up and down the coast.

And typically you see these kind of especially on a building this old, you see these kind of damages, I mean, as far as the spalling where the reinforcing steel expands and breaks out the concrete. It's part and parcel of it. But the thing is that this building from what I saw in the report, including the pictures that are inside of this pool equipment room for the extensive damage that we typically see on buildings with a serious problem, these are, yeah, it's typical to see this type of -- this type and extent of damage.

TAPPER: So this is consistent with the building that has a serious structural problem you're saying? If you had seen these photographs before the collapse, what would you have thought?

BATISTA: I would have thought that there is a serious structural issue. And I would have called it out on the report much like this engineer did. What perplexes me and perplexes most of the other engineers that have seen this, that have seen the pictures, have said, you know, yes, you have spalling, you have extensive spalling, you have something that must be dealt with as soon as possible such as this engineer said.

But it didn't even cross my mind that it would be -- it would be that the cause of such a catastrophic collapse as this building. So, I mean, there's something there -- we all agree basically that there is a confluence of issues that came into play and a certain alignment of planets that happened that caused at this catastrophic -- catastrophic collapse. And I'm currently looking into different things. And as I've been on the media expressing my views, people have gotten

a hold of me, people that have not only been on the engineering side but also on the construction side that have come back and told me certain things that -- about how things were built back then, and how things were designed back then.


And, yeah, there's going to be some very -- and I've heard of some very interesting theories, extremely interesting theories that in the proper time, we will be -- we will be exposing these.

TAPPER: Yeah. Well, in 1981 when this building was built, that was before Hurricane Andrew I think in 1992. And it was after that hurricane that Florida started cracking down and requiring more in terms of structural integrity when it comes to buildings.

There is a word you were using about extensive spalling or something? I'm not an engineer so it wasn't a word I was familiar with. What was the word you used?

BATISTA: The word is spalling and that's basically if you're familiar with any coastline properties, it's basically where the -- where the concrete breaks and there's a crack. And if you hit that crack when you open it up, you'll see that there is a reinforcing steel inside of there.

Now, concrete for those going back into basics, when you look at a concrete column or beam, that's comprised basically of concrete. But it's just not the concrete itself. What gives the concrete strength is the reinforcing steel that's inside. It's the regular steel that cars are made, the lunch chairs are made , when you go out and when you have these items out in the coastal environment, they rust. And when they rust, they expand up to seven times its original volume.

So of course if you have a piece of steel that's surrounded by concrete and it expands up to seven times its volume, of course, it's going to break. And as this cancer -- as this cancer continues undaunted, obviously, it's going to affect the structural integrity of that particular beam or that particular column. And when one column breaks and if the building is designed a certain way, this is going to be just a domino effect where the first beam or the first column goes, the building's going to go right behind it.

TAPPER: So, the mayor of Miami-Dade said that the building audit has already uncovered serious issues including a building closing four balconies previously due to safety concerns. I assume you expect to hear more and more reports like that.

BATISTA: Well, I had heard of that report, but it would not surprise me because I saw the pictures from the engineer, the 2018 report. And there were balconies that had this type of spalling that we're talking about. And, again, for a balcony -- excuse me, for a building that has this extent of damage that hasn't been corrected in a while, apparently, yes, it's normal to see this kind of damage also happen in the upper floors, especially the part that's closer to the ocean. TAPPER: So, Greg, how worried are you about other buildings in the


BATISTA: Well, as I told you before, I've been receiving calls and emails from other engineers, from other contractors that have been doing construction in Florida. And I stress the word Florida for a long time. And there are certain practices that are concerning that have been happening for a long time. And having heard these things and knowing about these things, it does -- it is a cause for alarm.

But I do not want to enter into any specifics right now because I am in the middle of confirming some of these things with numbers with other people and seeing how viable these theories actually are.

TAPPER: All right. Greg Batista, thank you so much for your expertise. We appreciate your time today.

Officials looking at hundreds of older buildings after the Surfside collapse. Why it could take years, if ever, to make the necessary repairs, even if these buildings are in danger.

Also breaking this afternoon, on plans to end America's longest war and most troops could be home a lot sooner than you probably thought.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Breaking news in our world lead. America's longest war may be over in just days. America's role in it at least.

CNN has just learned that the U.S. could finish withdrawing all forces from Afghanistan as soon as this week. That's according to multiple U.S. officials.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is live for us at the White House, and CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon.

Barbara, let's start with you.

Not all U.S. troops are leaving. A few are staying behind but for a very specific duty. Tell us about that.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Jake, perhaps more than a few and a very significant job. Look, what is going to happen in the coming days is U.S. troops are expected to leave that giant base at Bagram where they've been for 20 years, fall back down to Kabul.

There will be U.S. troops to protect the embassy and at the airport. And that could total up to 1,000 U.S. troops staying in Afghanistan on this crucial security duty for some time. Because the key is if you cannot ensure security at the airport, if you can't ensure that people can get out, you basically can't keep the embassy open. So, look for about 650 to 700 troops in a massive security detail at

the U.S. embassy in Kabul and the balance perhaps going to the airport -- Jake.

TAPPER: Phil, the Taliban have obviously made significant gains in Afghanistan in recent months -- recent weeks U.S. military officials are publicly saying that they're worried about the possibility of civil war.

Is the White House acknowledging these concerns?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, you've seen a shift from White House officials in terms of how they speak about the possibilities in the months ahead compared to when the president first announced the withdrawal. They wouldn't even entertain the possibility, while they would acknowledge it's possible, they didn't want to talk about the possibility that the Taliban could overrun the Afghanistan government in rather short order.

That has shifted. U.S. officials I've spoken to over the course of the last couple of weeks have made very clear they're clear-eyed about the deterioration on the ground. They're clear-eyed about the fact that things are certainly moving in the opposite direction of the government the U.S. served to support for the course of 19 years.


How they view things at this moment is from a baseline of, are U.S. troops in danger right now? They have not seen attacks on U.S. troops. They believe that is a positive thing. They believe Kabul at it stands right now is in a much better place than other parts of the country that's facing Taliban offensive. Those are their metrics.

In terms of the broader scope of what's going to happen with the country, they recognize things are moving in a very different direction than they had been and that's very unlikely to change any time soon, Jake.

TAPPER: Barbara, what does this mean for the up to 20,000 Afghans who worked as translators and assisted the U.S. military in other ways, who are terrified the Taliban might hunt them down and slaughter them? Nineteen thousand or so have at least started the process of applying for these special immigrant visas. What about them?

STARR: Well, Jake, the Biden administration says they will not be left behind, that they will try and process as many as they can and get them out of the country. But again, this goes right back to the international airport in Kabul. That is the route out of Afghanistan.

And the unknown card is in fact the Taliban. Will they allow these people to leave? Will they allow the airport to stay secure and have this orderly movement of tens of thousands of people? Or will the Taliban cause trouble -- Jake.

TAPPER: Phil, I asked Cedric Richmond, the White House senior adviser about this on Sunday. And he used the old -- I can't tell you anything more because that would put these people's lives in danger, which I certainly understand to a degree.

But are there any details showing that they are actually making plans to evacuate these Afghans? So many questions remain. What's the status right now?

MATTINGLY: So many questions still unanswered. Look, we have cursory details, and obviously they have identified a smaller group of individuals that have applied for these special immigrant visas and they are planning to move them to a third country as that process is completed.

But it's worth noting that is not the entire universe of those who have applied for special immigrant visas. It doesn't go beyond the folks who are already in the system. And the reality is this is a massive logistical lift to actually address all of the people who would likely qualify under what they're trying to do right now.

And the process has been exceedingly slow, Jake. You've spoken to lawmakers in both parties who have really amped up the pressure on the White House. They feel that at least dislodged some information. But the reality is, Jake, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, extremely powerful, just sent a letter today to State Secretary Antony Blinken, with 12 specific questions they didn't have answers, one of them, who is leading this process? That's how few answers we have on this issue as time is running very short at this moment in time, Jake.

TAPPER: That's astounding that the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee doesn't know who's in charge of the process. Incredible.

Phil Mattingly, Barbara Starr, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Breaking minutes ago, we now know when a vote will happen to greenlight the committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our politics lead now. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN today that she has the power to veto any Republican picked to be on a new select committee in the works to investigate the January 6th Capitol insurrection. A vote on the creation of this committee is expected tomorrow.

Pelosi can pick eight members, Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, can recommend five.

I want to bring in Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill.

So, Ryan, do we have an any idea who might be picked? And who is on Pelosi's veto list, even if Kevin McCarthy picks them? RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, at this point,

the House speaker has been very guarded in who she may appoint to serve on this select committee that she is basically the author of. And the only thing that we can tell for sure when it comes to this veto power that she has over the Republican pick that's she has said that she wants those members to be responsible.

And you would have to imagine that means not allowing Republican members that have delved into conspiracy theories involving what happened here on January 6th or even those that voted to object to the election results and support former President Donald Trump's big lie be appointed to the committee.

At this point, though, we are not for sure who is going to be appointed to this committee until it comes from the speaker herself, and it's not expected that she'll name those people until after the vote passes tomorrow. The one thing we should point out, though, is that we're not exactly clear how cooperative the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is going to be in this process. He refuses to answer any questions about it and said today that he and the House speaker have yet to even speak about the formation of this committee -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Ryan, there's also a chance Pelosi could pick a Republican for one of her eight Democratic slots. Who might that be?

NOBLES: Yeah, that's an interesting wrinkle. The House speaker one of her top aides telling us yesterday that she is seriously considering a Republican as one of her eight picks. The most likely choices could probably either Liz Cheney of Illinois or Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Both of those Republicans have been very strict on their criticism of the former president's actions on January 6th. And we're also very supportive of that bipartisan independent commission.

I caught up with Kinzinger yesterday and asked if he would accept an appointment to the Select Committee. He told me that he preferred the commission, the bipartisan commission, but made the point that it was his party that blocked its formation and then ultimately said it was up to the speaker. That indicates that he's at least open to the appointment, Jake. So it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.


Let's bring in our panel now.

And, Abby, let me start with you.

I mean, Pelosi could pick Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, especially if she's ruling out two-thirds of the House Republicans who voted to undo the election by voting against the Arizona and Pennsylvania results.

But, already, you have people who even voted to impeach, like Congressman Katko, saying that they don't want to be part of this committee. ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that

there's a concern among Republicans that they would basically be putting a target on themselves if they were to volunteer or be perceived to being a part of anything that Speaker Pelosi is doing.

But I do think that it would be wise for her to figure out how she can incorporate Republicans in good faith in this process. I think, looking back at the impeachment process, Democrats decided to exclude some Republicans who might have had some things to say on the floor on the matter, who might have been perhaps chosen as impeachment managers.

And I think that they could have been part of a bipartisan sort of presentation of the impeachment proceedings. And now this is another opportunity for her to reach across the aisle to the Republicans who are not responsible for the insurrection to make this a process that the American people can have some more confidence in.

TAPPER: That's right. I believe it was Adam Kinzinger, the conservative Republican from Illinois.

PHILLIP: He volunteered.


TAPPER: He volunteered. They wouldn't give him more than a minute. They wouldn't give him more than a minute, which is not exactly a good way to create the bipartisan image she wanted.

PHILLIP: Exactly.

TAPPER: Jackie, McCarthy, the House Republican leader, says Pelosi hasn't spoken to him at all about this and didn't tell him about it before she announced it. What do you make of that?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we're kind of at a point where having any bipartisan cooperation on this committee has gone out the window.

If he wanted an equal say, he had it. He had it in the last commission that the majority of Republicans voted down, before he threw his bipartisan negotiator, Congressman Katko, under the bus.

They -- Pelosi had given them equal representation. She had given them several different concessions in that commission that was rejected by Republicans.


In fact, take a listen to this, Abby. It's Hakeem Jeffries, the congressman from New York and a member of the Democratic House leadership.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Wanted to have joint subpoena power. We gave them joint subpoena power in the commission.

They wanted this to wrap up before the end of the year. Speaker Pelosi agreed that the January 6 commission would complete its work by the end of the year.


TAPPER: And not only that, but Republicans -- McCarthy asked for 50/50 membership. And they gave it. The Democrats gave it. Now it's eight Democrats, five Republicans.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, here in Washington, we would call that a cave. Speaker Pelosi caved on all the things Republicans wanted.


PHILLIP: And they still rejected it out of hand.

This is not a situation in which I think, from the leadership perspective, the Democrats are dealing with Republican leadership that actually wants to look into this at all. They do not want to look into what caused the January 6 insurrection.

Democrats know that. The question is, are there other members across the aisle who are worth bringing into the process? Because it's not about how Republicans in Congress feels. It's about the rest of the country. And it's about history. It's about making sure that we actually know what transpired.

KUCINICH: But this does open the door ,because, if it is unequal, to the Republican talking point, which they were going to use anyway, for all intents and purposes, that this is a partisan situation, that anything kind of comes out of it is going to be partisan and it's just going to be used to attack Republicans, which is what they were saying when everything -- when everything was going in their favor.

So I think the messaging on this would have stayed the same. It just -- they are given more fodder by having this something that's constructed by Speaker Pelosi.

TAPPER: We shouldn't be surprised that Speaker Pelosi is a very partisan Democrat, but it does seem that sometimes she is so at her own -- to her own detriment, I mean, right?

PHILLIP: Well, I mean, you could argue that.

But, at the same time, I think Jackie's right. Anything that Pelosi touches is going to be seen as hyperpartisan. There's a reason that Congressman Katko, for example, doesn't necessarily want to be a part of this. He knows it's a poison pill.

She is sort of this lightning rod figure among Republicans of all stripes. So it's a very difficult thing for anything that she does to be perceived other than as a partisan act. At the same time, she is someone who has survived in Washington because she plays hardball.

TAPPER: She sure does.

PHILLIP: And she's not going to be rolled by Republicans who are not coming to the table on this particular issue.

TAPPER: And, yes, and she doesn't care what I say about her, right, at a panel like that. She's like Harry Reid in that respect, all right? She just does what he what he thinks is right, regardless of criticism from the press.


TAPPER: Speaking -- I want to talk about Congressman Paul Gosar. He's kind of a fringe member from Arizona, Republican,.


And there's this white supremacist Holocaust denier named Nick Fuentes who has this group. Gosar has spoken before the group before earlier this year. He -- this guy Fuentes put out a flyer promoting a fund- raiser for Gosar. Gosar was asked by Manu Raju about whether or not he was appearing at a fund-raiser with this white supremacist, Holocaust denier.

Gosar said he had no idea what was going on. But, earlier, Gosar tweeted: "Not sure why everyone's freaking out about this controversy" in reaction to a tweet about it. 'There are millions of Gen Z, Y and X conservatives. They believe in America first. They will not agree 100 percent on every issue."

And, again, where are the House Republican leaders on this?

PHILLIP: I mean, this is something that they have been just tolerating and accepting for months.

He has been -- he has spoken in front of this group, as you just said. Republicans said nothing about it. There are no consequences for the racist, anti-Semitic beliefs that he is coddling by appearing before these groups.

It's this bizarre idea that the big tent needs to include racists and white supremacists. I don't understand why that is happening. But that is exactly what's going on right now. The leadership in the Republican Party at the Washington level, they have decided it's better to just not say anything at all, don't give credence to the critics.

And they don't want to be the ones to kick certain people out of their base. The result of that actually is January 6, frankly--


PHILLIP: -- when you saw these very same people showing up at the Capitol.

TAPPER: Yes, the Camp Auschwitz and all the like.

PHILLIP: Exactly. TAPPER: Abby and Jackie, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Some parts of the country are putting masks back on as the dangerous Delta variant spreads. Should you be? That's next.



TAPPER: In our health lead today: To scientists, Delta is the symbol for change. And the coronavirus variant by that name is certainly keeping everyone on their toes.

Now that variant is responsible for one in five new cases in America.

So let's get straight to CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And, Sanjay, a week ago, Andy Slavitt, who was a senior adviser to President Biden on coronavirus, tweeted this -- quote -- "If you're vaccinated, the most important thing you can do right now is go live your best life and make up for lost time. There are far greater threats in your life than the Delta variant."

There are others, however, who point to the fact that "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting about half of adults infected with the Delta variant in Israel had been fully vaccinated. What do you think of what Slavitt is saying?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, the vaccines are really protective, Jake. I mean, that fact remains true. And that's been tested now for some time. You have real world data saying, OK, Delta variant, Alpha variant, all these other variants, how well do the vaccines work?

If you're vaccinated, the idea that you're going to get seriously ill or need to be hospitalized or die is incredibly low. That has held up.

When you look at that Israeli data, there's a couple things to sort of look at specifically. The cases are going up in part because they're -- you're seeing the -- even among the -- I think they have 60 percent of the country vaccinated. You will see more breakthrough cases.

The real question is, are people getting sick? Are they -- are you seeing a corresponding increase in hospitalizations or deaths? And we haven't seen that. Maybe we should say we haven't seen that yet, because we always got to be humble about these things.

TAPPER: Right.

GUPTA: But that's -- I think that remains the important, critical point.

One thing, Jake, in this country, if you have been vaccinated, most people aren't getting tested anymore. Might the breakthrough infection rate be a little bit higher if we were routinely surveillance testing? Perhaps.

But if those people aren't getting symptoms, aren't getting sick, I think that's going to be the critical point.

TAPPER: And for anyone out there who doesn't understand, a breakthrough means somebody who is vaccinated and yet still gets infected, which is different than getting sick and being hospitalized.

GUPTA: Right.

TAPPER: We're talking about people being infected. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they're ill, which is what, obviously, the vaccine mostly is relied upon to do, to keep us from getting sick.

Sanjay, Los Angeles' Department of Public Health just issued a new voluntary mask guidance, asking Los Angeles residents to wear a mask in public spaces, even if they're fully vaccinated.

Does that make sense to you? And is it something that the whole country should be thinking about?

GUPTA: You know, I think they're being cautious. This is not -- the CDC is not saying this at this point, as you know. They're saying, if you're vaccinated, you don't need to wear masks indoors.

I mean, it becomes a game of odds to some extent, Jake. Still, everything we just said is obviously still true. You're less likely to get sick if you do develop a breakthrough infection. We know that, even then, you are far less likely to then be contagious, to be able to transmit that virus to somebody else.

But I think what they're saying and what the World Health Organization is saying, and they're looking at countries around the world that have very low vaccination rates, that there's still enough viral spread out there that, even though it's a much lower likelihood that you would develop a breakthrough infection and spread it to somebody else, the chances go up as the virus spreads more and more.

So, they're being cautious. I still think that, if you're vaccinated person, you probably should feel very comfortable at the level of protection that you have.

TAPPER: You're fully vaccinated. Are you going to be wearing a mask in public settings because of fears of the Delta variant?

GUPTA: Well, I -- so, for example, I'm flying tomorrow. I'm going to get on a plane tomorrow. And public transit still requires masks.

TAPPER: Right.

GUPTA: So, I will wear a mask in that setting.

Go to the office.

[16:45:00] We know, for example, in our office buildings vaccination's required. So, when I go into a office space like that, a public setting like that, I don't -- I don't need to wear a mask, I won't be wearing a mask. They're probably going to have higher vaccination rates within that public setting than most of the rest of the community.

It's going to essentially be within that space, a higher herd immunity level of protection.

So it depends a little bit on the setting. And obviously, there are still places that are going to have their own guidelines like planes, like, you know, public transit.

TAPPER: But when you're just out in public, you're not worried in particular about the delta variant to the degree that you're going to wear a mask when you're outside even though you're fully vaccinated?

GUPTA: Right. That is true. I am not worried that I will, especially outside that I would get the virus and even if I did get a breakthrough infection, which I would find only if I surveillance tested myself, even if I did that have that, I'd feel pretty comfortable that I wasn't going to transmit it to somebody else.

TAPPER: All right. Good to know.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks as always for joining us. We appreciate it.

Pushing off repairs, passing the buck. A close look at the system which may be putting other beachfront condos like the one that collapsed at great risk.

Stay with us.




MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Our building audit also continues. And we're taking swift action to immediately identify and address any outstanding issues with the buildings that have not yet completed their 40-year certification process. That's our priority right now. And just last night, our building officer notified one of those properties, a building in northeast Dade that four balconies must be immediately closed to residents due to safety conditions.


TAPPER: That's the mayor of Miami-Dade County today announcing early results of the frantic building audits going on right now at hundreds of older buildings in the area of last week's deadly condo collapse. But once those audits have been completed there's no guarantee anything will be fixed no matter how severe the specific damage.

CNN's Tom Foreman is taking a closer look at these audits for us.

And, Tom, reporting structural problems, it's just the beginning of a process that could theoretically take years before anything is done.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Getting something done is a whole different matter. Think about this building. They knew in 2018 that they needed $9 million worth of repairs. Apparently, very little happened.

We got to this position where all of a sudden you had letters going out saying it was significantly worse, accelerating, much worse. And then we got to where we are now with needing $15 million worth of repairs. That's where they were before this disaster hit.

Why didn't they do it earlier, and how do you get people to do it if they need to do it?

We talked to a group out there called the community associations institute which works with a lot of condo groups. They say there are several potential road blocks that do get in the way.

One, every condo association is required in Florida to have a schedule of repairs and funding set aside for it. Unless membership votes against having the funding set aside, in which case it has to be done on an ad hoc basis. That can build in delays.

You can have conflicts in assessment. One engineer can say this is a critical, urgent problem. Another one can say maybe not so much, and maybe that's not communicated well to the membership. Another delay.

And you can have residents who resist paying, not because they're being stingy but simply because you can talk about whopping amounts of money here. And look at the area we're talking about. If you talk about Miami, this is the 25 most popular metropolitan areas. Median household income, here's Miami down there. And that's normal folks of Miami.

If you start talking about retirees and many of the people we've talked about here are retirees living on $40,000, $30,000, $20,000 a year, they look at these new repair costs and they suddenly say, hey, I have not budgeted for an extra $80,000 over the next 15 years, I don't know what to do about it.

None of this should stop progress toward making things safe. But it does define a very big difference between closing a few balconies and really putting pressure on some of these places to say, you have to revamp your entire property because we can't have another disaster like this. It's not as simple as saying we're going to do it. You actually have to make it happen. And in this environment, a lot of road blocks can get in the way -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Tom Foreman, with a closer look. Thank you so much.

The man who looked out his window and realized that his parent's apartment building was gone. The shock and sadness as families began to come to grips with the tragedy of last Thursday. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's moved to form a select committee to investigate the insurrection, including possibly picking a Republican for one of the Democratic slots. Who might that be?

I'll talk with Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota about that and much more.

Plus, three days in a row of temperatures never before seen across several states, including 116 degrees in Portland, Oregon. We're live on the ground on the city experts say is not built for such extreme heat.

And leading this hour, it is now the sixth day for the desperate search of any possible survivors in the Surfside, Florida, condo collapse, 150 people are still missing. At least 11 people are confirmed to have been killed.

Today, we're learning that the Miami-Dade state attorney's office is planning a grand jury investigation into why the building went down. But for now the search continues. More than 800 responders are on the ground.

And as CNN's Ryan Young reports, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis says the search and rescue operation will continue until every one of the missing victims is found.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, dozens of frustrated and distraught family members still waiting for updates on their missing loved ones. Rescue teams still searching through the debris, the deadly south Florida condo collapse for a sixth day. The search getting increasingly dangerous for rescue teams as debris has started to fall from the building that is still standing.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Those first responders are breaking their back trying to find anybody they can. And they are going to continue to do that.

YOUNG: Families visiting the site of the debris pile again today looking for any way to quell their anxiety.