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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Any Moment: Biden to Speak After Meeting with Surfside Families; Trump Org CFO Indicted on 15 Counts, Alleged 15-Year Scheme; Biden Speaks After Meeting with Surfside Families; Rep. Chip Roy (R- TX) is Interviewed About Leader McCarthy Threatening Members Over January 6 Select Committee. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired July 01, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Biden embracing families who are running out of hope.
THE LEAD starts right now.
The consoler in chief at the community in Surfside, Florida, as rescue teams have to stop because of fears the rest of the tower could fall.
Criminal charges filed against the Trump Organization. The man who may know more than anyone else about Donald Trump's finances in court today accused of a, quote, sweeping and audacious illegal payment scheme. How worried should Donald Trump be?
Plus, quadrupling down on the big lie and the attempt to change the subject. Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy issuing a threat over any Republican accepting Speaker Pelosi's invite to investigate January 6th. But Congresswoman Liz Cheney calls his bluff.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We start with breaking news in our world lead. Any minute, President Biden is set to speak in south Florida, where at least 18 people are dead and 145 remain missing, one week after that tragic condo collapse. Moments ago, the president met with some of the families of those killed and unaccounted for.
Earlier today, the president met with first responders thanking them for their service while recounting how much he had relied on law enforcement officers during that horrific experience earlier in his officer the car crash that killed his first wife and daughter in 1972.
We also saw what is a sadly rare and pleasant moment in American politics when Biden and the Republican governor, he may face off against in 2024, Ron DeSantis, came together for the benefit of the people of surfside, Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Well, thank you, Mr. President, and you recognize the severity of this tragedy from day one and you've been very supportive. You guys have not only been supportive at the federal level but we've had no bureaucracy. When we're dealing with FEMA, we are literally getting requests routed from local to state to federal in no time.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I promise you there will be none.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: CNN's Kaitlan Collins is traveling with President Biden in Surfside.
Kaitlan, what do we know about the meeting with families that President Biden just wrapped up?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, it stretched for nearly three hours which was what the White House had expected. This was going to be the longest and likely most difficult meeting of the president's day as he came face to face with these families who know what happened to their loved ones and are devastated and they're still waiting for word from these teams.
And, of course, this meeting that the president had came just hours after they got more grim news which is that those search and rescue operations had to be paused out of concerns that officials had for those first responders and the people sifting through this rubble for their own safety. And so, we are told, Jake, by people who were in the room including the mayor, the Governor Ron DeSantis was in the room when they got started.
And at the beginning, President Biden started. He spoke to the entire room, really talking about his own experiences with grief, saying it is something he knows deeply well, unfortunately, and he knows they are going through something similar that never really goes away, but is something that you learn to process and talking about what that process is like saying no one really knows what you're going through except you and talking about the added layer of difficulty that comes when you are grieving in public. And that is something that, of course, he knows all too well.
And so, I'm told by the mayor that at times, his voice became emotional as he was talking about this, Jake, and he talked to the families and he went around to smaller groups of tables of these families of people still not yet accounted for and they do not know what happened to them and was talking to them one-on-one, Jake, for about three hours inside this room. And so, we do know we are going to hear from President Biden any moment.
We should note that earlier in the day, he did have a meeting with local officials. During that meeting he seemed to be getting them off guard saying he does believe the federal government will be able to front the full cost of this recovery and the search-and-rescue effort.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Let's turn now to the disturbing moments just before the Surfside, Florida building collapse. CNN obtained new video taken by a couple who's staying near the tower that seems to show the entrance to the parking garage where you can see water and debris leaking into the garage.
As CNN's Drew Griffin reports, this is just the latest sign that years of water damage and decay and neglect were an issue.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lawsuits, e-mails and letters are pointing to years of delays and disarray in fixing known problems at Champlain Towers South. Building documents reveal property management and leadership that the condo association had changed in recent years.
"The Washington Post" reports the resignation of five board members in 2019 as residents and board members argued over how to pay for a massive multimillion dollar repair bill aimed at fixing deteriorating concrete pillars and damaged concrete slabs.
In a letter obtained by "The Washington Post," the former president of the homeowner's board voicing her frustration. We worked for months to go in one direction and at the very last minute objections are raised that should have been discussed and resolved right in the beginning. She goes on to say: This pattern has repeated itself over and over, ego battles, undermining the roles of fellow board members, circulation of gossip and mistruths.
All of it crashing down last Thursday as surviving residents watched in horror.
ILIANA MONTEAGUDO, ESCAPED CHAMPLAIN TOWERS SOUTH DURING COLLAPSE: I saw a crack starting in the ceiling coming down, coming down fast and that black line opened it, and opened it and opened it.
GRIFFIN: While the official cause has yet to be determined.
MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: The investigation is ongoing. We have no comment at this time about the possible causes.
GRIFFIN: Another unanswered question, why major repairs on the building had not been done? Lawsuits point to a 2018 engineering report that identified major structural damage, conditions that were becoming significantly worse according to a letter sent by the board president sent this past April.
John Pistorino is a South Florida structural engineer who helped write the Miami-Dade County requirement that all buildings reaching 40 years of age undergo major inspections and re-certification. JOHN PISTORINO, HIRED TO INVESTIGATE SURFSIDE, FLORIDA CONDO COLLAPSE:
We expect in the state statutes and the building code require that owners of these buildings maintain them from the day that they were built.
GRIFFIN: Champlain Towers South 40 years old this year appears to have waited until just now to begin fixing major issues. New video shows water spewing into the garage just moments before the collapse.
PISTORINO: Consulting engineers have discovered issues that were alarming and we would bring them on to the association. We'd bring them to the building official and we made sure something is being done if we found it necessary.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Jake, a lawsuit on behalf of a family suing the Champlain Tower South association names Morabito Consultants, which performed that structural analysis of the building in 2018. As a defendant it argues that the firm should have further examined the building's stability by inspecting that subsurface foundation. That engineering firm, Jake, told CNN it did its job -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Drew. Thanks so much.
Let's discuss this with Dr. Benjamin Abo. He's an EMS physician with the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue. He's also personally knows four people currently missing.
And, Benjamin, I want to be very clear, you're on a search and rescue mission, but this is also very personal for you. So let's take a moment. Tell us about the four people that you know who are currently missing.
DR. BENJAMIN ABO, EMS & URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE PHYSICIAN: For the most details, I kind of personal and sentimental reasons kind to keep that to myself, but two of the people that are missing are physicians that when I first moved down here I was working with here in south Florida when I moved down for residency. They were just stellar, kind people, but yeah, they are still among the missing. And the others were just personal friends out of my social network here that were just genuine and great people.
TAPPER: Okay. You're spoken to some of their family members obviously without getting into names or anything, tell us how they're doing. How they're holding up?
ABO: They're -- it's tough, but they see the efforts that are going on and those that I talk to can know personally what I'm going through with them and the fire departments and the different departments here are going to try and go through it so they can give them closure. So, it's tough. We're getting closer to different acceptance stages of even what's going on, even if there is a rescue which we're cautiously optimistic about.
They're more understanding in terms of the accident that's happened and all that's going on and the trauma that they physically and emotionally have been going through.
TAPPER: This morning search and rescue operations were paused because of concerns that the remaining building could fall down, as well. When do you expect the operation could resume?
ABO: There are a number of experts that are looking from every angle, left, under and around to always try to analyze what's going on and we've been doing this all throughout each step and our engineers and rescue specialists and I do expect things to get back under way later today, hopefully sooner than later because we're all anxious to do good, strong work and also safe work.
TAPPER: Do you expect that this might continue to happen, stopping and starting because of the weather in Florida at this time of year?
ABO: Yes. This -- the possibility is starting and stopping has been -- is going to be consistent from start to finish. That's based on things like weather, wind conditions, lightning, thunder and having everybody up on top of there or underneath and doing things like that, as well as changes in the structural integrity. This isn't something that's fallen by the game plan and we know where the places have laid. We're trying to use a lot of experts and different sciences behind it to try and understand the physics of what's going on and how to keep things safe so we can continue to go through and take pieces away and uncover different things.
TAPPER: Dr. Benjamin Abo, thank you so much. And, Ben, best of luck to you in your work down there.
ABO: Thank you. I appreciate it.
TAPPER: Any moment, President Biden will speak to the cameras in south Florida. We will bring that to you live.
Plus, the first criminal charges today against former President Biden's company. The man who could hold all of the company's secrets was in court this afternoon. He had previously vowed to never flip. Might that change?
And just how far are Republicans willing to go when it comes to fealty to Trump? House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy's new threats to Republicans over the January 6th committee. That's next.
TAPPER: In our politics lead today, 15 felonies, that's what Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg was charged today by New York City prosecutors.
Weisselberg in handcuffs as he entered the courtroom. It's the first indictment of Trump's company and lawyers say they have the receipts, 15 years worth of digital drives, bookkeeping records, tax records, witness statements and more. New York City lawyers say Weisselberg dodged taxes on $1.7 million worth of income.
CNN's Paula Reid is at the courthouse to break this down.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The namesake company of former President Biden now charged with tax crimes along with one of its top executives. Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, arraigned today after surrendering to the Manhattan district attorney's office this morning. In court, prosecutors described a 15-year tax scheme charging Weisselberg, Trump Payroll Corporation and the Trump Organization. Overall, 15 felony counts including conspiracy and grand larceny.
Prosecutors alleged Weisselberg evaded taxes on $1.7 million in compensation, all three defendants pleaded not guilty.
Weisselberg's attorney announcing in the statement he will fight the charges.
His indictment and charges against the Trump Organization come after a two-year probe by the Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance.
An investigation which was originally triggered by questions surrounding hush money payments made by Donald Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels and ultimately led to obtaining Trump's tax records in a Supreme Court battle.
Investigators had 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.
JENNIFER WEISSELBERG, FORMER DAUGHTER-IN-LAW FOR ALLEN WEISSELBERG: When you get the same salary for 21 years and the same bonus and then the raise is paid in an apartment, in a car, in a tuition. That's an issue.
REPORTER: Allen, how are you feeling?
REID: 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 IRS 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.
REID (on camera): Former President Biden released a statement calling today's charges a political witch hunt brought by radical left Democrats who suggested that these charges are dividing the country like never before. Now, at this point, there's no indication the former president will be charged, but we know from our sources that this investigation is active and ongoing and today's charges increase the pressure on Weisselberg to cooperate against the former president -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Paula, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Joining us now to discuss and much more, Adam Serwer, he's a staff writer for "The Atlantic". He's the author of a brand-new book "The Cruelty is the Point: The Past, Present and Future of Trump's America", available now.
I wanted to ask you, you heard Paula talking how Trump says this is a witch hunt. Also, there's a new statement -- I don't want quote his frequent press releases but he just tweeted or emailed rather, did people see the radical left prosecutors and what they're trying to do to 71 million voters and patriots for what it is.
In other words, they're going after me, but they're not really going after me, they're going after you to his supporters.
How -- explain how that fits in with what you write about in your book.
ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Well, Trump has always presented himself as both a champion and avatar of his voters, and so that any attack on him personally or personal, political difficulty is actually an attack on his base and that's part of how he cultivates among his most ardent supporter a sense of persecution and the rival party does not want to beat them in elections, but wants to destroy them and annihilate their way of life, and that sort of apocalyptic rhetoric is a big part of how Donald Trump cultivates his appeal and energy among a particular subset of his voters.
TAPPER: And you write in your book that Trump understood Republican voters better than the Republican establishment in Washington in 2015- 2016 which is really an interesting thing to say because there obviously were a lot of people, professional class Republicans who never thought Donald Trump would get far. And your point is that Trump under stood the voters that these people had been cultivating for years far better than they did.
SERWER: He did because Trump was a vociferous consumer of Fox News and one of the things he did was he watched Fox News and he reflected the sort of current of whatever the current fashion of fear-mongering was prominent on Fox News, he would reflect that back to his audience and doing that, he would validate the fears that they were having as a result of what they were watching on Fox News and this created a kind of connection and intimacy between him and his audience because they were having their fears and hopes validated in a way that other politicians might not have been willing to do precisely because of the tone of coverage on the network even though a lot of Republicans go on that network.
But Donald Trump was willing to go all in on those kinds of ideas and fears and conspiracies that the base had already embraced, but that other mainstream Republican politicians would not necessarily talk about in that particular tone.
TAPPER: And one of the other things that you write about that was so interesting was we've all been talking about since 2016 the similarity in a very superficial way, but the similarity in talking about the system being rigged, that Bernie Sanders would talk about and also Donald Trump, was there some overlap in 2016. Obviously, it's very different.
Explain the difference in your view between the system being rigged that Bernie Sanders talks about and the system being rigged that Donald Trump talks about.
SERWER: Yeah, I mean, in some ways these were fairly conflated because they're a reflection of two very different lenses and sometimes people talk about Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the same breath that year, and I don't think that they're comparable, and I don't think they're comparable because, essentially, Bernie Sanders was saying there is an unfair economic system in America and we need it change the system. And what Donald Trump is saying is that there is a group of people in America who are also Americans and they're your enemies and we need to destroy them in order to make life better for you because they're the ones who are ruining your way of life and who want to destroy you.
And I think those are two very different ideological lenses. You know, it's not that people's grievances aren't legitimate, but just because your grievance is legitimate and just because you're legitimately struggling doesn't mean that whatever you do in response to that suffering is legitimate. So, I would regard it as distinct because they were actually talking about two different kinds of rigged systems despite talking -- using the same phrase sometimes.
TAPPER: You talk about the role that you view racism played in the surge of Trump and his popularity. I want to play for our viewers, two moments, decades apart that you mentioned in the book. First is Trump reacting to David Duke's win in Louisiana in 1991 when he won the Republican primary. The second clip is 2016 after David Duke endorsed him for president. So let's watch these two clips.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: It's an anger vote. That's -- people are angry about what's happened. People are angry about the jobs. If you look at Louisiana they're really in deep trouble.
Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: You talk a lot of your book, you write about America's collective amnesia on race. Explain.
SERWER: Well, I mean, Donald Trump he actually went further than that, he said that David Duke might actually do well in a Republican presidential primary, that he was very similar to Pat Buchanan although Pat Buchanan was a more polished package and that Pat Buchanan was going to give the president at the time, George H.W. Bush, a run for his money.
So, when Trump in 2016 was pretending not to know who David Duke was, when he was quite aware of who David Duke was. He saw his campaign and how it appealed to Republican votes and he deliberately lied about his knowledge of that because he didn't want to be associated with a campaign that he knew he would be associated with if you compared the two.
And I think, you know, it's kind of awesome that you found that clip. But I think, you know, the reaction to David Duke's candidacy was quite similar. And what Donald Trump said this is obviously an economic issue. It's about jobs.
But there were a lot of black people in Louisiana who were struggling very hard at that time economically and they voted en masse against David Duke.
And David Duke got votes in the wealthy suburbs in Louisiana, as well. So there was a kind of deliberate attempt to place a simplified economic frame on the issue without considering, you know, how ideology would force people to interpret their own economic misfortune.
SERWER: Adam, congratulations on the book. Whether or not you're a progressive, whether or not you're a Trump supporter, you might find it interesting. It's very provocative. Adam Serwer, his new book is "The Cruelty is the Point". It's out now.
Thanks, Adam. Good to see you again.
Any minute, President Biden is set to speak in South Florida --
SERWER: Take care.
TAPPER: -- after meeting with the families of the condo collapse. We're going to bring that to you live.
The House minority leader meanwhile is threatening Republican members over the January 6th special committee that's being formed. What is McCarthy afraid of here?
Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: We are told by the White House that President Biden is seconds away from coming out in Florida and talking about what he has seen today in his various meetings with the first responders and families and others following the devastating condo collapse.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is traveling with President Biden. She joins us now live from Surfside. Kaitlan, it must be a very emotional day for President Biden given all of the loss and devastation.
COLLINS: Yeah. We are told he was in the room with those families for nearly three hours, meeting with them. And the White House said he was going to meet with every single family member that wanted to talk with him and he wasn't going to leave until after he had done that. And I think that really does speak to that this is often the role that the president has to play -
TAPPER: Kaitlan, I'm sorry, Kaitlan, I'm sorry, I have to interrupt. Here's President Biden right now.
BIDEN: Let me begin by saying that the degree of cooperation between local, state and federal officials down here has been remarkable.
I want to thank our FEMA director for leading this national effort, Governor DeSantis, Senators Rubio and Scott, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Mayor Cava, they've been -- they've all cooperated in ways that I haven't seen in a long time, and it's really a testament to how difficult things are down here and it's what, quite frankly, we miss a lot.
You know, we've all been working in tandem from the moment we got the news of the collapse of the building. I think my colleagues will tell you we cut through the bureaucracy.
The one order I gave federal folks was, no bureaucracy, just cut through it and give it to whatever they need. That's why I decided to cover, for example, 100 percent of the search and rescue costs for the first 30 days. Not done often, but necessary here, in my view.
And FEMA is going to provide temporary housing and other urgent needs for the survivors. The State Department is expediting visas for family members from other countries and there are from Latin America, South America, Europe, Israel.
And I want to give a special shout out to the first responders. The International Association of Firefighters, one of the best organizations in the country, and I particularly want to thank the president. Ed came down from Boston and he's here with the entire group. You know, these folks are always showing up, no matter what. They're risking their lives.
You know, there's that old expression, I know the press that travels with me is tired of hear me saying it, but I'm not tired of saying it, and that is that old expression, God made man and then he made a few firefighters. They're remarkable, remarkable people, and there's always -- they're always risking their lives to save lives as well as the police and other first responders. I got to meet with a whole of bunch of them.
And we're able to deploy nearly 500 personnel, including five other search and rescue teams on the ground today here because our FEMA director ordered it. I want to compliment FEMA and I might add those folks risking their lives to save lives but holding out hope for those to be found. Hope springs eternal.
When I talked to those first responders, I pointed out that they're under a great deal of stress and we should take advantage -- they should take advantage of the mental health facilities that are going to be available, because you know, we talked about our military suffering from post traumatic stress, seeing what they're seeing, doing what they're doing, understanding how much trauma is involved. I just don't want them thinking that they should walk away from help if it's needed. You know, they stand together and it's really impressive.
And there's also the need, in addition to state and local assistance to determine the cause of this collapse and the adjacent buildings and how safe they are. There are two outstanding concerns. First, the remaining buildings may collapse -- remainder of the building may collapse. We need to determine if it's safe for first responders to return to the site to continue their rescue mission.
That's being done right now and that's why I asked the National Institutes of Standards and Technology to investigate and see if it's safe to go back and what caused the building to collapse in the first place because we're committed not only to recover, but to restore the safety across the board.
But the other reason I came down was to meet with the families. The whole nation is mourning with these families. They see it every day on television. They're going through hell and those who survived the collapse as well as those who are missing loved ones.
I realize I'm a little late because I spent a lot of time with the families, a whole lot of time, and I apologize for taking so long to get here because I thought it was important to speak to every single person who wanted to speak to me.
So after so after what you all covered when I opened up the meeting, I spent the remainder of the time and I -- they're such incredible people.
I sat with one woman who had just lost her husband and her little baby boy.
Didn't know what to do.
I sat with another factually that lost almost an entire family, cousins, brothers, sisters, and to watch them and their -- they're praying and pleading that God, let there be a miracle and let there be something happen to me that's good because I have, like many of you do, some idea what it's like to suffer that kind of loss so many of them are suffering.
You know, they had basic, heart-wrenching questions. Will I be able to recover the body of my son, daughter, my cousin, my mom and dad? How can I have closure without being able to bury them if I don't get the body? What do I do?
Jill and I wanted them to know that we're with them and the country is with them. Our message today is that we're here for you as one nation, as one nation, and that's the message we communicated.
We'll be in touch with a lot of these families continuing through this process, but there is much more to be done. We're ready to do it.
And again, I thank the governor. I thank my colleagues, my -- Senator Scott and Senator Rubio. I thank Debbie Wasserman Schultz for their total and complete cooperation.
There's no -- there's no disagreement, no bickering. Everybody is on the same team. It's what America's all about. It's about pulling together, leaving nobody behind and that's the one thing that made me feel good about this is the cohesion that exists.
There's no Democrat or Republican out there. Just people wanting to do the right thing for their fellow Americans.
So may God bless the victims and their families, and may God protect our first responders.
And I'll take a couple of questions right now.
REPORTER: Mr. President, what were you told today about the likelihood -- you said hope springs eternal, but that somebody will be able to be pull out alive from this? And what were you able to convey to the families about that possibility?
BIDEN: Well, look, first of all, the families are very realistic and they know the longer it goes -- one of the things that the local FEMA personnel as well as the local first responders did is they took all of the families to the site to see -- to see what it looked like up close and they're all realists. They all look and they see those floors just literally, cement upon cement upon cement.
You know, I -- when I talk to some of the families and some of the people who did escape, who survived and got out and they talked about watching the building collapse and watching the garage, one floor come down with a whole floor on top of another floor. They know that the chances are, as each day goes by, diminished slightly.
But at a minimum, at a minimum, they want to recover the bodies. They want to recover the bodies. There are a lot of very religious people who are in there. Members of the rabbi and the Jewish community were talking about the need to be able to recover the body to be able to bury them and give them the -- you know -- anyway.
So I think they're very realistic, Mike, but I don't think that that in any way suggests that it's too -- that we should stop. I think that there's -- we should move on, continue to try to recover the bodies.
In the meantime, that's why NIST and others are determining whether or not it's safe to send the first responders back. When they asked me about this, I pointed out that the last thing they would want or we would want is in the process of trying to recover and the possibility -- there is still a possibility that someone could be alive and someone could still be breathing and somebody could be there that the last thing you want to have happen is to have that building collapse and kill 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 firefighters or wound them or first responders.
So -- but, Mike, they're -- you know, they're realistic. 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're surviving 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, were they going to make it?
The not knowing, not knowing, when you're flying home from Washington and you get the news, you know? You just don't know.
So, it's -- but I was amazed. As you know, unfortunately, I've done a lot of these, circumstances when I've met with families who have had great loss and what amazed me about this group of people was the resilience and their absolute commitment and their willingness to do whatever it took to find -- to find an answer. I walked away impressed by their strength.
And, Nancy Bloomberg, do you have a question?
REPORTER: Oh, thank you.
What did you learn, if anything, about the collapse of the building? Is there anything more you learned from investigators, from the FEMA administrator?
BIDEN: No. It's underway. I don't -- and the director of FEMA is with me and we don't have any firm proof of what's happened. There are all kinds of rational speculation about whether or not rebars were rusted. Whether or not the cement, where there's limestone or not.
Whether or not -- but a lot of families who survived talked about how upset they were that in the last years that they've been here how there was one condominium complex built across the street and the road was purchased. And while they were living there, they heard the drilling and they'd feel their building moving and shaking. There were all kinds of discussions about whether or not they thought that water level rising, what impact it had.
And interesting to me, I didn't raise it, but how many of the survivors and how many families talked about the impact of global warming, how much -- and they knew exactly whether they talk about how sea level's rising and about how -- and the combination of that and the concern about incoming storms, incoming tropical storms.
And so -- but, I don't think there is at this point any definitive judgment as to why it collapsed and what can be done to prevent it from happening and whether their buildings may have to be inspected to determine if they had the same problems.
I'm supposed to head out and catch up with the governor. So I want to thank you all for taking the time.
REPORTER: Mr. President, let me ask you about two matters away from where we are now. First, while you've been speaking, the top associate of the former president has been in the New York court pleading not guilties to various financial charges. Do you have a reaction to that?
And secondarily, if I can, does the Supreme Court's ruling today on an important voting rights decision add to the sense of urgency you feel about pursuing voting rights legislation at this time?
BIDEN: I know nothing about the first circumstance because I've been gone. I haven't any idea so I'm not going to comment on that. And even if I did, I wouldn't comment on an ongoing case if it's an ongoing case.
With regard to the second point, I think I did get a summary on the way down in the plane of a Supreme Court decision. It is -- my only positive in the sense that there is a remedy available based on the particular voting decision.
I think that it is critical that we make a distinction between voter suppression and suspension. The ability of a state legislative body to come along and vote, their legislature vote to change who is declared the winner, I find to be somewhat astounding.
But the Supreme Court rule did not rule that way today to the best of my knowledge and -- but I have much more to say about that because I planned on speaking extensively on voting rights and as well what's going on the road on these issues.
Thank you all very much.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We've been listening to President Biden speaking live in South Florida after the tragic and deadly condo collapse in Surfside a week ago. He spoke about conversations he had with family members of those who were killed and those who are still missing, their intense pain, their prayers.
The president also praised the efforts of local and state officials, including the Republican governor.
He thanked the first responders who rushed into danger to search for survivors.
Let's bring back Kaitlan Collins, along with Gloria Borger and Laura Barron-Lopez here with me in the studio. And, Gloria, all presidents are called upon to offer consolation to
victims and families of victims in times like this, but three hours with the victims is a staggeringly long period of time. I'm sure quite meaningful for everyone and not criticizing him at all.
This is in many ways his greatest strength.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. As someone said to me once, it's his super power. And I think it gives him strength because, of course, we all are familiar with what he's been through in his life, not only losing a young child and a wife, but then, of course, losing his son Beau who was in his mid-40s.
TAPPER: And on the subject of Beau, he knows what it's like to be holding out hope.
BORGER: Right. And I've been told when Beau was very, very sick, and people have given up hope and said he's got a day or two, and Biden was the holdout. He said no, I'm not going to give up hope here. And this is what he told people today.
And he actually said, I know what it's like for people to be holding out hope. And that's why I thought it was important to meet and talk to every single person who wanted to meet with me today. And that's exactly what he did.
So I'm not surprised that it was three hours. I'm kind of surprised that it could have gone on I'm sure.
TAPPER: And, Laura, we heard Biden talk about the cohesion after talking to the Republican leaders of the state of Florida, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rick Scott, Governor Ron DeSantis with whom he had an extraordinarily nice moment in terms of each one of them praising the other on the work they are doing on behalf of the American people. It's sad that it's rare that we see leaders putting it away, putting away their differences.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: And this is something Biden said during the company he wanted to be able to do, that he would try to bring back the stability of being able to work with the other party. He also said, we are here for you as one nation, so trying to create the sense of unity that Democrats and Republicans are working together in the face of this tragedy.
And inside the White House, they also are very aware that the public wants to see more of this. The polling that they see inside the White House is that they -- the public wants Republicans and Democrats to work together.
TAPPER: Yeah. I'll go to Kaitlan.
Kaitlan, the president apologized to the families for taking long to get down to Florida. What do you make of that?
COLLINS: I think a lot of that has to do with not wanting to divert from the resources, because, Jake, it is a massive presence. We've been down here all day. We're obviously not far from where the building collapsed. And I think one thing that really stood was President Biden saying they brought the families over here to show them what the site looks like.
And he said a lot of them are realistic. And we are so far into this, he said they saw that and they saw cement on top of cement on top of cement. He said at a minimum, what those families told him behind closed doors today is they'd like to recover the bodies of their loved ones. That's what it's come to. That is really important to them, talking about some of them who are religious.
And really, Jake, that has been the sense we've gotten from officials here on the ground as they've been navigating through this, now that those search and rescue operations have paused for right now. One other thing the president said that stood out, Jake, is talking about the first responders. And saying, you know, we talk about PTSD, for people who are in the military. But what these people are saying and what they are going through searching is through this rubble is really going to be something they need to take care of and be attuned to going forward.
TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan, Gloria and Laura, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Turning to our politics lead now. Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her eight picks for that new select committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection. The most notable name was not in the room.
Pelosi appointed Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney as one of the eight Democrat slots. The congresswoman stripped of her Republican leadership position after voting to impeach Donald Trump.
Cheney's new appointment comes as sources tell CNN that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to pull any other committee assignment from any Republican who accepted Pelosi's offer to serve on the panel. Today, McCarthy denied making that threat.
I want to bring in Republican Congressman Chip Roy of Texas.
Congressman, good to see you. Thanks for joining us and thanks for being patient during the breaking news event.
Republican Leader McCarthy calling it unprecedented that your colleague Liz Cheney would accept the offer by Speaker Pelosi. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I don't know in history where someone would go get their committee assignments from the speaker and expect to have them from the conference as well. I was shocked she would accept something from Speaker Pelosi. It would seem to me is, since I didn't hear from her, maybe she's closer to her than us. I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Congressman Roy, you've spoken in support of Liz Cheney in the past.
What's your reaction to that?
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Well, first of all, let me just say our prayers are with the folks in Florida. I know it's a terrible tragedy. And so, I have no problem waiting for the president to be able to address that and talk about that. So, thanks and good to be with you, Jake.
Look, I don't think there should be any real surprise here. I think there's a difference of opinion with -- on this matter with my friend Liz Cheney and where a lot of the conference is. That is at the heart of the matter and why she is no longer the conference chair.
My position on this has been pretty clear. Reporters, you know, come out and ask me these questions when I'm heading to the Capitol and go vote. I said, look, I'm on the Judiciary Committee. We have oversight over the Department of Justice which is executing investigations, has arrested over 500 Americans. I think we need to have oversight and have a report out of the Department of Justice.
We had two reports issued out of the Senate from two committees there. I think Rules, and I can't remember the other committee, but two committees that merged together to do report out in the Senate. They went through a lot of security breakdowns.
We had the House Committee on Administration where we can go through and see what happened with the security breakdowns and talked to Capitol police, House Armed Services can call DOD and deal with the Guard.
My point being, an oversight has broad powers, which I used to serve on an Oversight Committee. My point being, we have all the authority we need on the committees we need, and I don't know why we're not going through and getting reports that way. That's what the Senate did. I think that's what the House ought to do.
I think many of my colleagues view this as mostly if not entirely political theater by the speaker. And I think that's the frustration is that -- is that Liz is kind of playing into the narrative there and playing into their hands by making it more about political theater than just executing and following the truth. I'd like to know about these investigations of 500 arrested Americans.
ROY: Why? Who are they? What did they do?
TAPPER: You have been willing to criticize former President Trump's behavior after the election for pushing the election lies and more. Trump has attacked you for it. When you ran for a Republican House leadership position, Trump said,
quote, I can't imagine Republicans would go with Chip Roy. He has not done a great job, will probably be successfully primaried in his own district, unquote.
The only reason up bring it up is because you were with Trump yesterday when he visited the border there in Texas. Did you have any reservations about joining him on the border?
ROY: Yeah, I don't have any reservations whatsoever. I'm a congressman from the great state of Texas. The district I represent is about 100 miles from the border, the open border -- the crisis we're having is having a direct impact on the people I represent.
You know, anybody who follows politics, literally anyone, knows exactly where I come from ideologically. They know that I'm a rock- ribbed solid conservative, a limited government constitutionalist. My voting record reflects that. I have a strong voting record supporting America First.
But, look, here's the deal, I don't dance. I don't dance for anyone. I don't dance for the leadership. I don't dance, you know, for the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Article 1 and Article 2 are supposed to be separate. I represent the 750,000 Texans who I'm supposed to represent.
And when I agree -- and when I fight for the things I believe in, when they're aligned, I will do that.
ROY: You know, I know the president knows that. So I have no qualms going to the border, standing there in front of the fence that is not finished, standing there next to where there are 700,000 apprehensions that have occurred along our southern border. It's part of the border, by the way, that Vice President Kamala Harris has not gone to.
ROY: In her pit stop Los Angeles, she pit stopped in El Paso, which is 750 miles away from McAllen where, Jake, you know and I know the epicenter of the crisis actually is.
TAPPER: Yeah, let me ask --
ROY: So, I was proud to be there with the governor, with the former president, with my colleagues.
TAPPER: Let me ask you about -- about the border crisis because Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas was on the show yesterday. He spoke about the humanitarian crisis at the border.
What more do you think needs to be done to stop the migrants from making this dangerous journey creating the crisis that you're talking about? ROY: Well, look, I think this is pretty simple. We do need to maintain
Title 42. And I'm very concerned that the Biden administration is considering getting rid of it.
And for your listeners, if they don't know, Title 42 is the health codes allow us to turn people back because of the pandemic.
Look, the vast majority of the people that are coming across the river, coming here for economic reasons and God bless them. I understand it. When I go to the river, Jake, and I do it often. Last night, I went down to the river. I almost got stuck in the mud, by the way, because it was raining.
But I was down there and there were 700 migrants in the holding facility that had come in the literally three to four hours before in the late afternoon shift.
This is a real problem that everyone I talked to and I talked to some yesterday in my broken Spanish. I say, why did you come? They say for jobs, economic opportunity, et cetera.
I understand that, but that's not asylum. Asylum is a very specific law in our books to help fleeing persecution.
We need to be serious about our laws. We can't put asylum posters on trees next to the Rio Grande, pointing to a processing center and encourage the entire world to flood our borders. And now, we're getting people from all the over the world because they want economic opportunity.
I get that. But we need to have an immigration system that sends a signal that here's how you come. You get in line. Here's how the numbers work and if you truly need asylum for persecution, then here's how you do it.
We're not doing that. It's irresponsible. We can fix it in a minute.
Heck, Obama's policies five years ago when Biden was vice president were very strong compared (ph) -- Jeh Johnson -- compared to what we're doing today which are wide open borders and, unfortunately, my Democratic colleagues won't admit it or acknowledge it.
TAPPER: Republican Congressman Chip Roy, thanks so much for coming on the show. Hope to have you again soon.
ROY: Anytime, Jake. Take care. God bless. Happy Independence Day.
TAPPER: Thank you, to you as well. And also, Chip Roy don't dance. That's a good slogan. Chip Roy don't dance.
The search suspended in fear that the rest of the building could topple. I'll ask the Surfside, Florida city commissioner when the search could resume with precious seconds ticking away.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, the former president's namesake company, Trump, facing multiple felony charges. The Trump Organization's chief financial officer just appeared in court and we've got the details.
Plus, we're live on the ground in Afghanistan as the U.S. nears the completion of the troop withdrawal. The fears of what will be left behind ahead.
And leading this hour, President Biden speaking in south Florida moments ago. He's been meeting with families and first responders in the wake of that devastating condo collapse. The president saying the whole nation is mourning.
The death toll has grown yet again. Now 18 people are confirmed dead, 145 remain missing. And the efforts to find those missing has been suspended over fear has the remaining tower could now fall.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is on the ground in Surfside, Florida, for us.
And, Boris, President Biden just reflected on his meetings with the families of those who are missing, those who are killed. What did he have to say about those conversations?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, Joe Biden saying that will the families he met with for approximately three hours are going through hell.