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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Visits Memorial Near Site Of Condo Collapse; WAPO: Majority Of Surfside Condo Board Quit In 2019 Over Frustrations About Repair Plans; Washington Examiner: Florida Gov's Office Pleads With Trump To Cancel Florida Rally In Wake Of Condo Tragedy; Trump Org CFO Indicted On 15 Counts, Alleged 15-Year Scheme. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 01, 2021 - 17:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, Joe Biden saying that these families that he met with for approximately three hours are going through hell. He made it clear to these families that he knows that no one is going to understand the depths of their pain, especially those families that are still dealing with the uncertainty of not knowing exactly what happened to their loved ones. Roughly 140 people still remain missing.

The President also, drawing from his own personal experience, chapters of his life, full of loss, to connect with them. Here's more from Joe Biden.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Praying and pleading that God let there be a miracle, let there be something happened for me that's good. Because I have, like many of you do, I have 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.

Jill and I want 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 communicate.


SANCHEZ: Jake, as he has so often during the 2020 campaign, and now into his presidency, Joe Biden trying to spread a message of unity. In fact, very early on in that press conference, he talked about seeing levels of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans that he had not seen in a long time. He specifically went out of his way to thank Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, two Republican senators and Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and local leadership as well.

Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic mayor of Miami Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, saying that this is a moment to show these families that there is no bureaucracy that is going to stand in the way of the federal government lending a helping hand. And he highlighted that by saying he thinks that the federal government will be able to pay for 100 percent of the cost of search and rescue operations here.

The President was also asked about any causes of the collapse. He said at this moment, it still remains a mystery, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Boris, thank you so much.

Let's turn now to the new details coming out about the Champlain Towers Condo Association. According to "The Washington Post," the majority of the condo board quit over frustrations that residents were delaying the building repairs. This was back in 2019, two years before the building collapse.

I want to bring in CNN's Nick Valencia live in Surfside Florida.

Nick, what exactly was the issue between the board members when it came to the repairs?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we spoke to some structural engineers here in South Florida who say in their experience they often do get pushback from condo board associations, especially if maintenance suggestions, the price tag of them are high enough. Now we don't know whether there was pushback in this case. But we do know that there was turmoil.

And this 2018 report didn't appear to be just suggestions, but a warning. Five of the seven condo board members resigned, quitting, because right after that report and a letter obtained by "The Washington Post," the president at the time of the association, Anette (ph) Goldstein went on to say this, "The pattern has repeated itself over and over ego battles undermining the roles of fellow board members, circulation of gossip and mistruths. I am not presenting a very pretty picture of the functioning of our board and many before us, but it describes a board that works very hard but cannot for the reasons above accomplish the goals we set out to accomplish."

So clearly some turmoil coming out after that 2018 report, Jake.

TAPPER: And we just saw a second ago, Nick, some images of the President attending a makeshift memorial in the city, in the town where people have left flowers and cards and all sorts of memorials to those who are lost and missing.

Nick, back to the subject at hand, one of the families is suing the condo association and the inspector who performed the building assessment in 2018 alleging that they failed to keep occupants safe. Tell us what's in that lawsuit.

VALENCIA: Well, we've been talking about all week, we've seen the range of emotions from these family members who are all processing it differently. Clearly some of them not waiting to hold someone accountable, even though there is no official cause of the collapse. And a family who is -- has still has a loved one missing in the collapse alleges in a lawsuit that Morabito Consultants didn't do enough to certify their structural analysis after 2018 with the city saying quote in that lawsuit, "They did not certify the building was structurally safe for occupancy and should have submitted a written report to the city."

They go on to say that the condo association did not do the necessary repairs for the structure damage to that condo because they wanted to cut costs. Now we did reach out to Morabito Consultants, they declined comment on ongoing litigation but did say that they were cooperating with authorities to get to the bottom of what happened.


A lawyer for the current condo association says the current board did not know that the building was in such disrepair. They've hired an engineer to find out what happened. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick, thanks so much.

If you're looking right there on the side of the screen you see President and First Lady Biden at a memorial, makeshift memorial that is popped up as these things do.

In Surfside Florida, people leaving photographs and flowers and teddy bears and the like for the people that are lost, for the people that are remain missing.

Let's discuss all of this with Jose Diaz, the Chairman of Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners.

We'll keep the pictures up there on the side.

Thank you so much for joining us, sir.

Today, the President said he thinks the federal government can pick up all of the cost, 100 percent of the cost from surf sides collapse response. Is that going to be necessary? Do you have the funds?

JOSE DIAZ, CHAIRMAN, MIAMI-DADE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: No, that is very important for all of us. The amount of people that are here, the amount of asset that's on the ground, the overtime, everything that's going to be, this is going to be a lot of money, and we don't have those kinds of funds to have to put it in. So that's going to be -- that's incredible for us.

And he told me personally, that he was going to do that. And we were very happy when he said that to us.

TAPPER: Mr. Diaz, according to "The Washington Post," a number of board members of the condo left in 2019 over frustration and disputes because of the repairs, the costs associated with them. I know this is a breaking news story. But what do you make of that?

DIAZ: Well, it doesn't sound good to start out with. There's a lot of condo issues in many, many buildings. People don't get along, things don't happen, because of the cost, the maintenance and so on. But that's why we need to start changing some of those rules and regulations. We're going to be holding a basically a taskforce now when we start with our county commission again next week. That will depend on the storm that could be heading our way to.

We're going to be looking at a lot of things, not about the investigation. Investigation is going to take the support. I met several the investigators in the last three or four days, that's going to be the case. We're going to hold off to know exactly what took place for that part of it.

But on the other things, we're going to be trying to understand all these situations and how they could continue to happen. And we're going to start looking at legislations to start looking and revamping some of these issues.

TAPPER: Since the building collapse, we've learned so much about anecdotes, photographs, building assessments, letters detailing water damage in the building going back years. I mean to be completely candid, 1981 is not that long ago, that's when the building was constructed, and yet, this building collapsed.

Does your part of the country have a handle on rules and safety regulations when it comes to construction? I know that rules were changed after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. And how do you explain why the city didn't force the people who owned the building to fix them?

DIAZ: That's a good question. And that's part of the information.

And to go back a second to what you said, after Hurricane Andrew, we have the strictest building codes probably in the nation. South Florida building code is the strong and the strictest that exists. This is something that we could never imagine happening in our community since we're so strict on building codes.

I know it takes a while to build the building here, but that's how much you have to put into it. So something like this that happened and, you know, this building was built in 1991 and there's a twin building not too far away, it's pretty difficult for something like this to -- none of the space, none of these buildings just fall. Something happened where this building fell.

And until we have the -- all these investigators are on the ground to deal with this, to know exactly what took place, that's just one part of it. Everything else to do with condominium and so on, even though that's under the state regulations and so on, we're going to work together as we've been doing to find, you know, the legislations or rules and regulations so this will never happen again.

And if there's a structural situation, they don't have the money to pay for it or so on, then, you know, we got to deal with that if that's the case. And that's what happened. We were going to have to see about legislation and dealing with that and making sure that that won't happen again.

TAPPER: This morning, search and rescue operations were paused because of concerns that the remaining building could topple. When do you expect the operation, the search and rescue, if not recovery operation to resume?

DIAZ: Well, we are making sure that it's safe for firefighters, men and women, to be safe. We don't need anybody else hurt. In this process, people are trying to save life, you know, to lose their own. That's not what it's about.


So, we're waiting to hear from the fire chief and the people that are looking at the structure. And they're desperate to get back on there. These guys want to get back on there, but we have to make sure of their safety. And that's a big issue right now. And hopefully, they're really working to try to get on there as fast as they possibly can.

TAPPER: I've already seen some reports of inspectors because of this incident going to other buildings built before 1992 been the Hurricane Andrew reforms and finding buildings that are not safe. What's going to happen with those residents, where are they going to go? Who's going to pay for them?

DIAZ: That's a very good question. That's something that the mayor myself and we're trying to see what is actually taking place. Each city has their own jurisdiction, and they have this autonomy to do what they believe is right within their city.

The county's responsibility is actually county wide, but it's also what we call the answer, the unincorporated area. That's really our domain that we deal with. And that's something that I'm going to try to work with other cities in conjunction with the mayor of the city and our mayor to see how we can combine these efforts.

TAPPER: Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners Chairman Jose Diaz, thank you so much for your time today, sir, we really appreciate it.

Coming up, the Trump Organization and chief financial officer indicted on 15 felony counts for an alleged 15-year tax scheme. What it all might mean for former President Trump? That's next.

Plus, why one Trump associate reportedly says this will only fuel Trump to run again in 2024. We'll discuss ahead.



TAPPER: In our politics lead today, Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, thinks that there is more to come after New York City prosecutors charged the Trump Organization's chief financial officer with 15 felonies.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Allen Weisselberg is not the keystone. He is not the keystone to this investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Joining us now is CNN's Kara Scannell. She was in the courtroom today.

And Kara, prosecutors say Allen Weisselberg, the CFO of Trump Organization, he got away with this for 15 years?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Jake, that's right. Fifteen years in what prosecutors call an audacious and sweeping illegal payment scheme.

Weisselberg today was charged with 15 felony counts, the Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp were charged with 10 felony counts. They both were in courthouse just behind me earlier today.

And Weisselberg was led into the courtroom in handcuffs, the dramatic moment. He pleaded not guilty. A lawyer for the Trump Organization also pleaded not guilty to the charges.

But as part of the scheme of prosecutors allege was that over these 15 years since 2005, that Weisselberg and the Trump Organization helped conceal some payments. And the focus here, as we've been talking about has been on benefits.

One of those saying that Westbrook had defrauded New York state authorities by concealing that he lived in New York City at the same time that he was living in a Trump funded apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. So, that's just one detail from these allegations today about -- against Allen Weisselberg and the Trump Organization.

We do expect here to be back in court in September. Prosecutors say that this investigation is active and ongoing, Jake.

TAPPER: What is the Trump Organization have to say?

SCANNELL: So the Trump Organization came out swinging today. They said this was a political vendetta. They said that the district attorney's office here was politically motivated, and that they haven't brought cases against some of the biggest culprits, some of the financial institutions from the financial crisis, but they were homing in on Donald Trump and the Trump Organization.

They also said the case against Allen Weisselberg, they were using him as a pawn to get back at the former president, Jake.

TAPPER: And Kara, well, what happens to Weisselberg now? Does he just go home?

SCANNELL: Yes. So, there's not bail in New York City for these types of white collar offenses. So Weisselberg can go home. But as part of his relief, he agreed to turn over his passport because prosecutors said they were concerned he was a flight risk since he has means and money and also works at the Trump Organization that has hotels and properties all over the world, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Criminal Defense Attorney Caroline Polisi and former Federal Prosecutor Elliot Williams.

Caroline, let me start with you. Fifteen felony counts for Weisselberg, 10 felony counts against the Trump Organization, does that surprise you?

CAROLINE POLISI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, big picture, Jake, and sort of in the context of what had been swirling in the ether about potential charges, and certainly everything that Michael Cohen testified to before Congress. This is sort of a big letdown in that.

You know, these aren't the big time, fraud charges, not bank fraud, insurance fraud, wire fraud, things like that. That being said, and as Kara noted, as you know, garden variety tax fraud schemes go, this is a pretty intense one and the indictment is fulsome. Clearly, the district attorney has done its job. This sounds more like a federal indictment, actually, than a state indictment.

And you know, I had thought -- I was actually surprised at the loss amount, they're getting up to $900,000, a million dollars in lost amount. That means that Weisselberg could be facing jail time. Grand larceny is a Class C felony in New York, it doesn't carry a mandatory minimum. So there could be the opportunity for a probationary sentence. But you know, if they're trying to get Weisselberg to flip, this gets a little bit more in that direction than I had anticipated.

TAPPER: And Elliot, the indictment mentions "certain employees," plural, employees, "Weisselberg and others" and quote, "persons other than Weisselberg." Obviously, that suggests that there are people other than Weisselberg involved. Do you expect more indictments?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it is quite telling because throughout the indictment here, they do mention several times other people. There could be other lower ranking employees that would be sort of odd to indict someone like the CFO, and then go down and, you know, go to people lower on the totem pole.


Or, you know, I hesitate to say the president the United States, the former president, but any number of other people, they have spoken with the comptroller, the chief financial officer, the chief operating officer at various points. So, I would be shocked if more did not come down, Jake, but we'll just have to wait and see.

TAPPER: Caroline, if you are representing Weisselberg, as a defense attorney, would you advise him to flip if that is ultimately prosecutor's goal here?

POLISI: Well, I haven't seen the evidence. But clearly, you know, where I to give that advice, it would have been well in the past. So, if the ship hasn't sailed completely for Weisselberg here, but by all accounts, he is holding steadfast in his ability not to flip as it were or, you know, I prefer the term cooperate.

But you know, again, the fact is, he may get off with the potential for no jail time here. I think it's interesting that they've charged the organization first. I'm probably less optimistic than Elliot is that there are going to be more indictments here.

There may be another round of indictments on these tax fraud cases. But in terms of those higher level charges that we were all sort of waiting to see, you know, I'm not sure. Given how fulsome this indictment is, I'm really not sure that there's going to be more.

TAPPER: Elliot, you heard Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, say that Weisselberg is not the quote, "keystone." Who is? And is Donald Trump in any legal jeopardy, do you think?

WILLIAMS: So, obviously, he was implying that the former president is the keystone here. But we can absolutely envision a scheme in where the -- in which the former president just wasn't aware of the illegality that was going on. For instance, you know, he's not aware of whether lower level employees are paying their taxes or who's getting cash advances or who's paying rent or so on.

And we know that the President doesn't e-mail and there is an electronic record of communications that he would have been a part of. So, it's actually going to be quite hard to charge him.

Even if, as Michael Cohen says, there's a lot of anecdotal statements that, well, everybody knows that Donald Trump knew that this stuff was going on. But that doesn't mean you can charge him with a crime for.

TAPPER: He's not really famously a detail guy, right?


TAPPER: I mean, like, just based on what we know, of Donald Trump, it's hard to imagine he would say to Weisselberg, you know, use this tax break or --


TAPPER: -- cheat on your taxes this way, I mean, for 1.7 million?

WILLIAMS: Well, I didn't say -- you know, I'd hesitate to say that if how he governed as president is indicative of how he managed the company, odds are, that he was not steeped --

TAPPER: Right.

WILLIAMS: -- in the details of the particulars of the finances of the organization when he's got the money guy, he's got Calamari and Weisselberg and Michael Cohen to do things like that.

TAPPER: Yes. And Caroline, the Trump Organization lawyers keep saying that typically, this kind of case would be a civil case, not criminal. Is that true?

POLISI: That is absolutely true. And I would say that the addition of Susan Necklace who gave that statement later this afternoon there, she is a great addition to that team. She is a very well respected criminal defense attorney here in New York City. And Cy Vance really has, you know, if this is all that there is, Cy Vance really has opened himself up to a lot of criticism in that regard. This has been a two-year, maybe three-year long investigation. He pressed this case up to the Supreme Court. You know, Tish James is now pitching in from the attorney general's office. I mean, they made a lot out of this case.

It is true that these are typically the types of charges that really do get resolved with organizations like this in sort of consent decrees or agreements to pay money. And I would actually bet that, you know, the District Attorney's Office approached the Trump Organization to try to settle. And I think it does say something that they are fighting these charges as well as Weisselberg.

TAPPER: And it just does seem, Elliot, that they didn't get them, you know. That Cy Vance and others, and Letitia James whatever, went after Trump, wanted to get Trump. I mean, this is -- I'm not a lawyer. I don't know.


TAPPER: And who knows what's going to happen, right? Anything could happen. Weisselberg could flip. There could be more.

WILLIAMS: Right, of course.

TAPPER: But if this is what they got?

WILLIAMS: Yes. I mean, another thing to think about, and we're just keeping the options open here and seeing where things go.

TAPPER: Just based on today's evidence.

WILLIAMS: Based on today's evidence, it looks like what they did was filed charges to get within the statute of limitations of a number of the crimes. If you notice there for tax years, I believe 2016, 2017, 2018. At a certain point, you can't charge conduct that's farther for the remote in the past. They can then supersede the indictment down the road and add more charges.

But you're right, and this is exactly what Caroline was saying a moment ago, you know, where were the bigger sort of insurance fraud or charges that might have brought more serious liability. And if they had them, why didn't they come forward with them at this time.

TAPPER: Well, all right, Caroline Polisi and Elliot Williams, thanks to both of you for joining us. Really appreciate it.


One of President Trump's, former President Trump's upcoming rallies is reportedly drawing criticism from a top Republican ally. Who? We'll tell you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: And we are back with our politics lead. President Biden is right now in Surfside Florida, a meeting with families and first responders and local officials after the horrific condo collapse one week ago.

It is -- his predecessor's upcoming trip to the state of Florida, that is the focus of some new concerns today.


The conservative "Washington Examiner" is reporting that the office of Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has quote, "made a direct plea" to Trump's team, asking Trump's team to cancel a rally that is currently scheduled for Sarasota, Florida. On Saturday, one Florida Republican telling the outlet that Trump and his team need to, quote, read the room.

Let's discuss. Amanda, let me start with you. The Trump team says they're not cancelling the rallies more than three hours away from Surfside, Florida, so it won't impact rescue efforts. And they also say they're going to collect donations at the event for suicide victims. Still the optics, if the examiner story is true, DeSantis saying please don't come, that's just not the time for our state is focused on this horrible disaster and trumping like, yes.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Does Ron DeSantis really think he's going to be able to tell Trump no? I mean, this is the problem. And I think part of the reason that Ron DeSantis has been able to become popular, and then has been viewed as the potential 2024 Republican nominee is because he's never really been under Trump's thumb, right. As a Florida Republican Governor, he's never had to be responsible for Trump in the way that say a Nikki Haley has or some of these other contenders like a Ted Cruz, where you've actually had to answer for Trump's actions.

But if Trump comes into Ron DeSantis's backyard and starts going on about the rigged election, and everything else, when everyone else in that state is focused on the horrible disaster that unfolded in seaside, that's not going to look good. But for Ron DeSantis, when do these optics get better? When is it ever going to be good for Ron DeSantis for Donald Trump to go in there and keep relitigating the stolen election and downplay the insurrection? And so, I think their team is trying to test the waters and see what they can get Trump to do. But Ron DeSantis is completely boxed in because the only way he gets the 2024 nomination is that Donald Trump hands it to him on a silver platter.

TAPPER: Yes. What's interesting, though, also because this comes, Ashley, the same day that we see this very nice American moment of a Democratic president and a Republican governor just like putting aside their vast differences about politics and they disagree about almost everything, to just talking about what can be done to help the residents of Surfside and what can be done to help the survivors. The Washington Examiner article quotes a source saying, "The Governor", Governor DeSantis "is getting tested here as to far -- how far he's going to be pushed before he breaks ranks with President Trump. And he has to be very careful because this is Trump country. The base loves the president, but they equally love Ron. It's a showdown going on right now".

Now, DeSantis's office, we should point out, is denying this story, OK? So, and this is the Washington Examiner, I can't attest, it's their reporting, not mine. But what do you think?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, I mean, are we surprised that Donald Trump is not concerned with the agony and misery that the people in Surfside, Florida are actually enduring? He hasn't ever shown real compassion, at least that I've observed. So I'm not surprised that he's putting politics over the people like he's done his whole presidency and political career.

In terms of DeSantis, I think he is going to play it cool, not acknowledged these type of stories.


ALLISON: You know, I mean, what good does it do? DeSantis was, you know, a landslide victory in his election in Florida. Trump won pretty decisively in Florida. So it definitely is Trump country. And so he needs to rerun -- get reelected before he can run for president. So he's going to play a cool, say, not calm, and have this great bipartisan moment. I think it was encouraging for people to see, but doesn't surprise me with Trump, doesn't surprise me that DeSantis would be frustrated, but not publicly say it.

TAPPER: I agree. The smart thing is for him just to --

ALLISON: Take it (ph).

TAPPER: -- just --

CARPENTER: And so Donald Trump demands that Ron DeSantis come to come --


CARPENTER: -- and ups the stakes like he always does.

TAPPER: Well I don't agree (ph).

CARPENTER: Why? What do you mean?

TAPPER: Because it's the DeSantis who's dealing with the disaster.

ALLISON: Why would Trump (ph) know?

CARPENTER: Would that be beyond the pale for Donald Trump to do?

TAPPER: No, it wouldn't add, but I but I -- anyway, I think DeSantis will do what you're saying. This does come on the heels of the Trump Organization and its CFO, Amanda, being charged with tax crimes today. A former aide telling Politico that Trump sees this as a political witch hunts, the aide says, quote, now he's definitely gone going to run for president. Again, I'm not sure what the calculation is there, but what do you think?

CARPENTER: I mean, I do think part of Donald Trump's calculation and making it seem like he is running for president and doing a lot of these rallies now is to insulate him from these kinds of legal questions, right, like, don't come after me. I am still political candidate. I'm a political figure. This is a witch hunt, and he can play that game. That said, is this going to add up to anything for Trump? I don't know. I mean, is it worse than anything we saw go down in his White House? Is it worse than him inciting insurrection? I'd say not.

TAPPER: And Ashley, the Biden White House has tried to walk a very fine line here only pointing to President Biden's tax reform proposals. When asked about the charges, is that -- is there a risk for Biden, if he were to say too much? I mean, you saw when he was asked about, he said, I don't know anything about it, I was on my way which, you know, I don't believe that for one second, but what do you think?


ALLISON: Well, I mean, I don't know whether or not President Biden was briefed on the situation but I think it is important for him to stay focused to continue to govern. He has a huge infrastructure bill. We just got a big blow to voting rights today. We have a voting rights bill that needs to be passed. Let the courts handle Trump and the Trump Organization and see what happens but I don't think Biden should engage in this conversation and I appreciated him staying focused on the victims today.

TAPPER: Ashley Allison, Amanda Carpenter, happy Fourth of July, Happy Independence Day to both of you.

CARPENTER: Same with you.

TAPPER: Really, really good to see you. Enjoy your holidays.

Coming up next, his parents survived the Holocaust and now he's been the target of anti-Semitic acts. Look at the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe, next.


TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you in our national lead, rescue operations have resumed at the site of the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. The town's mayor tell CNN, those operations were paused earlier today when the pile of debris shifted and engineers were worried that the remaining building could topple. So far, 18 people are confirmed dead, 145 remain missing.


Turning to our world lean now, we continue our series on the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism across the globe. Yesterday we looked at what's happening in the United States today. CNN's Melissa Bell focuses on Europe, where the scars of the last century have not healed and new incidents of hatred are sadly increasing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elie Rosen knows all about where hate can lead. His grandparents survived the Holocaust. They always warned him to keep his head down because there might be more to come. Last August, they were proved right. Rosen was targeted along with his synagogue in the Austrian city of Graz. Its walls made from the bricks of the synagogue destroyed in 1938 defaced.

ELIE ROSEN, PRESIDENT, GRAZ JEWISH COMMUNITY: After this attack, those warnings of my grandparents have kind of flashback. And this made me very, very sorry and brought tears into my heart and to my face.

BELL (voice-over): A few days later, just outside the synagogue, Rosen was chased by a man wielding a baseball bat, but managed to get back into his car just in time.

ROSEN: Suddenly I was scared of being physically attacked, is a dimension that different than being verbal attack, which I'm used to because anti-Semitism has arisen within the last year.

BELL (voice-over): In 2020, anti-Semitic incidents in Austria reach their highest level since the country began keeping records 19 years ago. And in Germany, incidents rose as much as 30 percent, according to a German watchdog. Much of the rise in both countries is being blamed on harsh COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Protesters demonstrating against the restrictions held signs depicting forced vaccination by Jews. And two people in Berlin were shouted out by a man who they believed blamed Jews for the pandemic.

KATHARINA VON SCHNURBEIN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION ANTI-SEMITISM COORDINATOR: I think that anti-Semitic conspiracy myths have been there for centuries. And in fact, whenever there is a pandemic, they have come to the fore again.

BELL (voice-over): Across Europe, anti-Semitic attacks have been rising for years. From a deadly standoff in 2015, at a kosher supermarket in Paris, to Vienna, where four people were killed in a rampage outside the Stadtemple Synagogue last year. And then there is the desecration of Jewish graves, like these in eastern France.

In Brussels, Rabbi Albert Guigui now wears a baseball cap when he goes out to hide his very identity.

Of course, I wear a yarmulke at home, he says, but outside I prefer to cover my head less conspicuously. It's not healthy, he explains, to live in an atmosphere of fear and where you feel hunted. I think that as well as being vigilant, we must tackle the evil at the root of the problem and that is about being different.

The Holocaust killed an estimated 6 million Jews in Europe. But as living memory gives way to feeding footage, so denial grows and hate speech returns. As well as the tension around COVID lockdowns, the violence between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East in May also drove hate towards Jews across Europe.

Like here in Berlin.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison through translation): Shitty Jews. Shitty Jews.

BELL (voice-over): Or in Brussels, where the chants spoke of ancient battles between Jews and Muslims.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison through translation): Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning.

BENJAMIN WARD, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: You do see a cyclical increase in expressions of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence linked to events in the Middle East. But if we look more broadly at the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in Europe, we see that it's much older and also much wider, and it's really a European issue.

BELL (voice-over): The hate is also spreading online, according to Human Rights Watch. Horrific cartoons like this one, depicting Jews with a big hook nose, or this one in France of a conspiracy theory blaming Jews for the pandemic, and shared he says mistakenly by a candidate in recent regional elections. The European Commission has a deal with tech companies to remove offensive content within 24 hours, but only once it's been alerted.

(on-camera): This is the memorial in the very heart of Vienna to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were deported during World War II. Most did not survive. It's a reminder of where words and conspiracy theories can lead, but it's also a reminder of Europe's own very violent, homegrown history of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitism that has never quite disappeared.


(voice-over): Prayers continue to be heard all over Europe. From the center of Paris to the old Stadtemple Synagogue in Vienna.

Elie Rosen says that his grandparents' approach of keeping a low profile after the Holocaust was understandable, but ultimately misguided. European Jews keeping their heads down, he says, has not prevented anti-Semitism from rearing its head once again

ROSEN: Contrary to my grandparents, I will tell my son or I will tell young Jewish people to be proud of being Jewish.


BELL: Jake, one of the figures that struck us the most as we began to dig into this problem was that it is nine out of 10 European Jews, that's according to European Commission survey who now feel that anti- Semitism is rising in their own countries, which means, Jake, that just 80 years after the Holocaust began a lifetime. People are beginning to forget here in Europe precisely what the world had vowed it never would, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, CNN's Melissa Bell in Paris with that sobering report. Thank you so much.

Coming up, we're live on the ground in Afghanistan. We'll show you and tell you what a top Afghan official just shared with CNN. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead today, a CNN exclusive, one of the top leaders in Afghanistan telling CNN there's no guarantee that the country will not become a safe haven for terrorists again once U.S. forces leave. Abdullah Abdullah, who met with President Biden at the White House last week is now admitting that the Taliban have gained ground in recent weeks.

CNN's Anna Coren is live for us in Kabul. And Anna, you just spoke with Abdullah Abdullah, what did he have to tell you about the U.S. withdrawal and his concerns about the rise again of the Taliban?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, we've yet to hear from any of the Afghans leaders since the Taliban launch their massive offensive, you know, claiming so much territory which coincides with the U.S. withdrawal. But we did sit down with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah today at his home. He gave her a very, you know, frank overview as to what the situation is at the moment. And that is the Taliban is gaining momentum. They are seizing territory, and it has caught government officials and Afghan National Security Forces off guard.

In relation to the U.S. withdrawal, he said, this is not the choice of the Afghan people, this is not what they would have chosen, but that this is the reality we have to live with it. But they are not being abandoned. America will continue to support Afghanistan.

What I found particularly alarming was when I asked him whether he could guarantee if Afghanistan could remain, not become a safe haven for terrorists again. Take a listen to what he said.


ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, AFGHAN HIGH COUNCIL FOR NATIONAL RECONCILIATION: I don't think that there is a guarantee and there are also Taliban who failed. They promised that they will delink with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. We don't have many signs of that. So that's the danger for us, as well as for the region.


COREN: Certainly, for every U.S. military leader that I've ever spoken to when I've come to Afghanistan, that was their mission, to make sure that Afghanistan was never a safe haven for terrorists again. Dr. Abdullah also, you know, spoke about the challenges facing this government. Peace talks virtually nonexistent, they've made that a little if no progress, and he says that he's under no illusion that the Taliban want peace.

You know, when I asked him about the mass exodus of Afghans wanting to flee the country, because they feel they have no future here, this is what he had to say.


ABDULLAH: Our country, our people are going through very, very difficult times. The world has supported us and they will continue to support but it's only us who can save it. Those who believe in military takeover take responsibility for the continuation of the misery of the people, suffering of the people. And they will not have their ideas materialized.


COREN: Dr. Abdullah Abdullah knows that there are tough days ahead, Jake.

TAPPER: And Anna, what do we know about how much ground the Taliban has definitely gained in recent weeks?

COREN: Yes, look, the numbers vary depending of you if you speak to the Taliban, or if you speak to the government, but certainly the data that we are looking at it, it's over 100 of the 370 districts, that's worked out to be more than 50 percent of the territory. The Taliban are yet to seize any provincial capitals. But, you know, here we are in Kabul, the Taliban are some 10, 15 kilometers away.

They are continuing to release propaganda video on a daily basis. This is another war that is ongoing, and the most recent video shows the Taliban as they claim taking another district as well as seizing equipment from the Afghan National Security Forces. Equipment, I should add, Jake, that is U.S. funded.


TAPPER: All right, Anna Coren in Kabul, Afghanistan. Thanks so much. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: In our national lead, take a look at this video from Los Angeles overnight.




TAPPER: That's a bomb disposal truck exploding. Police officers were intentionally detonating illegal commercial grade fireworks and improvised explosives after they were tipped off to the massive stash, according to officials, but something went very, very wrong.


CHIEF MICHEL MOORE, LOS ANGELES POLICE: Something happened in that containment vehicle that should not have happened and we don't know why.


TAPPER: Seventeen people including 10 law enforcement officers were injured by the blast.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer live from Surfside, Florida.