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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Study: Five Clusters with Low Vaccination Rates Now Potential Breeding Grounds for More Deadly Variants; Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) is Interviewed About U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan; Biden Meets with Civil Rights Leaders Over Election Reform; Federal Investigation into Native American Children's Remains Found at Boarding Schools. Aired 4- 5p ET
Aired July 08, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: So, the expectation is that we're not going to see this drag on?
MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: That's certainly what the hope is and there is no reason to think it would really drag on from here.
BLACKWELL: All right. Matt Egan, thanks so much.
EGAN: Thank you, guys.
BLACKWELL: All right. THE LEAD starts right
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Scenes from the peak of the pandemic, all over, again.
THE LEAD starts right now.
The danger of unvaccinated clusters in the United States. One hospital now running out of ventilators. And it could be a breeding ground for new variants.
Track and field, swimming, gymnastics, only on TV. How COVID is forcing something never seen, before, at the Olympics.
Plus, it's up to them. President Biden's stern message to Afghanistan, as he defends increasing criticism about the speed of America's exit.
BROWN: Welcome to THE LEAD.
We start with our health lead today, and an urgent warning that can't be repeated enough, even at this stage of the pandemic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Despite our progress, we are still losing people to this virus. Virtually, all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in the United States are, now, occurring among unvaccinated individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Knowing that, the Biden administration is trying to beef up a grassroots approach towards getting more people vaccinated. And here's where that effort may be needed most. Take a look at this map on your screen -- five clusters, described by researchers as breeding grounds for deadly-COVID variants. Mostly, across the south. Each pocket, with low-vaccination rates.
CNN's Athena Jones starts us off this hour with the new COVID danger zones.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America's COVID-19 crisis isn't over. Infection rates rising in almost half the states, driven in part by the more contagious delta variant. Low vaccination rates putting the country's progress fighting the virus at risk.
DR. LEANA WEN, CNNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The more unvaccinated people there are, the longer this pandemic is going to be. This is not just about the individual. This is about our society.
JONES: A Georgetown University analysis showing five clusters of counties with low rates and significant population sizes stretching from Georgia to Texas to Missouri, places that could become breeding grounds for more deadly COVID variants. New cases jumping more than 50 percent, week over week, in Louisiana, where just 35 percent are fully vaccinated. And Tennessee, where it's about 38 percent.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Simply put, in areas of low vaccination coverage, hospitalizations are up.
JONES: With less than half the population fully vaccinated nationwide, the White House ramping up outreach to pediatricians at workplaces and on school campuses.
ZIENTS: Our job is to keep doing all we can to reach Americans, where they are. To answer their questions, and to make it as easy as possible for them to get a shot, as soon as they are ready.
JONES: Data show that Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are effective, including against the delta variant, which now accounts for more than half of all new cases.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Please, get vaccinated. It will protect you against the surging of the delta variant.
JONES: In Maryland, every person who died of COVID in June was unvaccinated.
And as entertainers like the rapper Juvenile try to appeal to young people, experts are hoping full approval for vaccines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will encourage more people to get the shot. Right now, the shots only have emergency-use authorization.
Meanwhile, mask mandates are back in California's state capitol, after an outbreak of COVID cases among employees.
And with two weeks to go before the summer Olympics, Tokyo is declaring a state of emergency, banning spectators. As COVID fears ramp up, all over, again.
JONES (on camera): And with this more transmissible delta variant spreading rapidly across the U.S., some experts say it may be important to start testing even vaccinated people to make sure this variant isn't evading the vaccines. Current CDC guidelines say fully vaccinated people can refrain from routine testing -- Pamela.
BROWN: Thanks so much. Athena Jones from New York for us.
In Springfield, Missouri, right now, right in the middle of one of those COVID hot spots, today, the CEO of a hospital group there said one of his locations was running low on ventilators. And they took in 97 new patients at just one hospital.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Springfield.
Miguel, over and over, these health professionals say it's the unvaccinated getting sick and dying.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. And over and over, they are correct.
One, little statistic for you, I could quote them, all day long. But here in Green County, where we are in Springfield, the county reported 17 deaths this week. Didn't all occur this week, but they reported 17 deaths this week. All 17, they were unvaccinated.
At Cox Health here, the -- the delta variant is a real concern here. It was, first, discovered in this area in May. Cox Health here, in the state, when they send out their samples to the state government here, 90 percent of the patients that are checking in there and being hospitalized, the Cox Health System, have that delta variant.
And one doctor there who runs the emergency department at Cox Health says they are coming in sicker, and they are staying longer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. HOWARD JARVIS, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT/COXHEALTH: We are seeing a younger population, frankly, a healthier population, a lot of people that you wouldn't, necessarily, expect were going to do poorly. The longer we let this circulate, you know, we may end up with a variant that the vaccinations do not work against. If that happens, that's going to be what becomes the dominant, you know, variant. And we're in deep trouble, if this that happens. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: Here is the concern -- if there are large pools of people, who are unvaccinated, like you have here in southwestern Missouri. We were down in Taney County where Branson is. Everybody knows Branson. It's a big-tourist draw. Only 25 percent of the population in that county are vaccinated, 75 percent are not.
Public-health officials are begging people, begging the politicians, begging church leaders, to send out that message to get vaccinated. If they don't, that -- that virus will spread in those unvaccinated populations. And it will get -- we'll have more variants, and it will only get worse -- Pamela.
BROWN: You're really feeling that sense of urgency from medical professionals in certain parts of the country like where you are right now, Miguel.
Dr. Ashish Jha is with me now from Brown University School of Public Health. We also have CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten.
Great to see you both.
Dr. Jha, I want to look at that cluster map, again. Most of these pockets have COVID cases going up, right now. And they're at risk for even more deadly variants.
I mean, is it a matter of when, not if, more deadly variants will emerge?
DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yeah, Pamela. First of all, thanks for having me back.
It's been I think a real wake-up call to all of us watching the emergence of these variants and they always tend to happen in the context of large outbreaks. So, I think all of us expect, at this point, there will be more variants throughout the rest of this pandemic. Obviously, we hope they don't evade our vaccines. But the ones that emerge tend to be more infectious, more deadly and that's what we have got to avoid and the best way to avoid that is bring these outbreaks under control.
BROWN: And, Harry, you crunch political numbers every day. And the math of states with low-vaccination rates looks a lot like the 2020 presidential map.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: The correlation is incredible. Look at the states right now where the -- where the adult population, at least 70 percent, is vaccinated. Blue, Joe Biden won 'em. Look at that. It's all blue. All the states with at least 70 percent of adults with at least one dose were won by Joe Biden. Zero, by Donald Trump.
Now, look here. Look at the states where less than 70 percent of the adults are vaccinated. Look at all that red on the map. Only five Biden states have less than 70 percent of adults with at least one dose. While all 25 states that Trump won are under that 70 percent threshold.
I just never see correlations like this. It's incredible, pam.
BROWN: Wow. And trust and where people get COVID information could be a major factor why vaccination rates are so low in some spots.
ENTEN: It's exactly right. You know, the federal government, you hear Biden say, over and over, again, you know, you should get your vaccine.
Here's the problem. Look among Republicans, right? Who do they trust in terms of getting their coronavirus information from? Look at that. Their own doctor. That's who they really trust.
But they don't really trust Dr. Anthony Fauci. They really don't trust President Joe Biden. CDC kind of iffy there.
But just to sort of drill this point home. Look at the unvaccinated Republicans. Look at this. I think this gives you a really good in understanding of what's going on. Do you trust the federal government COVID information? Among unvaccinated Republicans, just 3 percent say a great deal, 51 percent say not at all, 32 percent say not very much.
So when Biden's trying to make this outreach to those unvaccinated Republicans, it's just falling on deaf ears.
BROWN: So what is your reaction to this, Dr. Jha?
JHA: Yeah. What it says to me is that we have got to bring new people into the conversation. Absolutely, political leaders in those places. Doctors really remain, among the most trusted doctors and nurses. They have to become more fierce advocates.
You know, 96 percent of physicians have gotten vaccinated. Doctors are doing it because they know. They have got to translate that to other people, as well. This is going to be fought community by community. That's how we are going to counter all the misinformation that's out there.
BROWN: And the reality is those that are unvaccinated could be as one doctor told me, variant factories, as we spoke about earlier, Dr. Jha. And that raises the question about what should vaccinated people do? Do you think vaccinated people who are asymptomatic should be tested to see whether the -- the variant is impacting them or not?
JHA: It's a really good question. And I know the CDC has, so far, held off. I think I am increasingly coming to believe that there is value in testing. Doing more testing of vaccinated people.
Certainly, people with mild symptoms, I think we're probably missing some number of breakthroughs because people have mild symptoms. They get better, never get tested. We need to understand much better what -- how this virus is circulating in the vaccinated population.
Thankfully, it's not causing people to get super sick or die. But we still need to learn more about it.
BROWN: And I just want to circle back. You touched on this. But I want to see if you have anything more to say on this trust issue. How the Biden administration becomes more convincing, if so many people don't trust the government?
JHA: Yeah. You know, my feeling is that, again, a lot of people who don't trust government, who don't trust this vaccine, are -- are people who supported our previous president. And I would like to see President Biden come out and give President Trump more credit for -- for developing these vaccines under his administration.
And, of course, this may be a fantasy, but I'd love to have, you know, President Trump out there. Talking about these Trump vaccines and how his administration was so instrumental in getting them through the regulatory process and available to the American people. We've really got to make vaccines bipartisan. They have been developed in a bipartisan way and administered in a bipartisan way. And that's what we have to remind people of.
BROWN: But what do you do to people who just shun big government? Government at all? I mean, there was an article today in, I think, "The New York Times," where there was a woman in Michigan saying she doesn't care that it was created under Trump. She just doesn't trust the government, and she is not going to take the shot.
JHA: Yeah. But there are people she does trust. And we've got to work with those individuals. Whether they're church leaders, political leaders, local-political leaders, medical and public health leaders. We have to identify people who are trusted by folks who are not vaccinated. And work with them to get the message across.
BROWN: So, Harry, putting trust aside, there are other reasons why people are not getting a shot, right?
ENTEN: Yeah. I mean, look. There's always been this question, right? Is it access? People lack access to the vaccine. Or do they believe one of these BS-conspiracy theories or simply put, believer they don't need it?
Look at this. Among unvaccinated folks, at this point, just 10 percent say they were afraid to miss work, don't know where to get it, too far away, it was an access issue. But 89 percent, the vast, vast majority who haven't gotten it believe one of these BS-conspiracy theories. They don't trust the government. Simply put, they don't think they need it.
We need doctors out there telling them why they need it. That is the best way we can get folks who are currently unvaccinated actually getting the vaccine and we can save lives that way.
BROWN: Okay. Harry Enten, Dr. Ashish Jha, thank you so much.
ENTEN: Thank you.
JHA: Thank you. BROWN: Well, President Biden, this afternoon, emphatically defending the end of the U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan, now just a matter of weeks away. I will talk to a lawmaker who served in Afghanistan, up next.
Plus, a federal investigation into what led to the mass graves of young children found behind schools. And why there could be more.
BROWN: In our world lead, President Biden today announced that the U.S. will end its war in Afghanistan by August 31st. Ahead of the original September 11th deadline.
And this comes, as the Taliban makes significant gains across the country. But as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, Biden says a Taliban takeover is not inevitable.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the Taliban surging as the U.S. withdrawals from Afghanistan, President Biden is vowing to press ahead.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31st.
COLLINS: Biden defending his decision to withdraw and saying he had no, other option. After his predecessor struck a deal with the Taliban to pull troops out, by May.
BIDEN: That's what I inherited. Once that agreement with Taliban had been made, staying with a bare-minimum force was no longer possible.
COLLINS: Reports of violence on the ground are growing more dire, by the day, as the Taliban gains more territory.
BIDEN: I made the decision with clear eyes and I am briefed daily on the battlefield updates. But for those who have argued that we should stay just six more months or just one more year, I ask them to consider the lessons of recent history.
COLLINS: The president arguing that America's longest war could not be won militarily, as was proven by his predecessors.
BIDEN: We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build.
COLLINS: It's one of the most significant decisions of his presidency. And a drawdown, he advocated for, long before becoming commander in chief.
Biden making clear, he doesn't view this as a mission-accomplished moment.
BIDEN: There is no mission accomplished.
COLLINS: The president also telling reporters that the decision to withdraw was the right one, and long overdue.
Given the amount of money that has been spent and the number of lives that have been lost, in your view, with making this decision, were the last 20 years worth it?
BIDEN: You know my record. I can tell by the way you asked the question. I opposed permanently having American forces in Afghanistan. No nation has ever unified Afghanistan, no nation. Empires have gone there and not done it.
COLLINS: Biden, also, promising to evacuate thousands of Afghan nationals, now targeted by the Taliban for working closely alongside U.S. troops.
BIDEN: Our message to those women and men is clear: there is a home for you in the United States, if you so choose, and we will stand with you just as you stood with us.
COLLINS: But it's, still, not clear how many the U.S. will evacuate, or which countries they'll go to, while awaiting decisions on U.S. visa applications.
BIDEN: I think the whole process has to be speeded up, period, in terms of being able to get these visas.
COLLINS (on camera): And, Pam, during these remarks, the president made quite clear that he stands by his decision to withdraw, essentially arguing that he could not justify staying. And so, that is the -- the reason, essentially, behind this saying he did not think the U.S. would ever be able to alter the course of Afghanistan.
Past nations have tried, past presidents have tried with no success.
And really, his main reason for getting out was saying, quote, I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no, reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome.
BROWN: Yeah. He certainly did not mince words in defending his decision to withdraw.
Kaitlan Collins live for us, from the White House, thanks so much.
And joining now, Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado. He is a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan.
Congressman, thank you for taking time out of your day to be with us.
Biden says Taliban takeover is not inevitable. But U.S. intel sources say that -- services, rather -- say that Kabul could fall in as little as six months.
Do you think Biden has a full understanding of the risk?
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Well, thanks for having me.
I know President Biden has a full understanding of the risk because I've seen the same intelligence that he's seen. And there is risk. The issue is not whether or not there is risk. This is all about relative risk.
The United States faces risks from dozens of different places, dozens of different transnational terrorist organizations, a rising China, an aggressive Russia, cyberattacks, climate change.
We don't have unlimited resources. We have been there for 20 years. Over 2,000 Americans have given their lives. We have spent over $2 trillion on this conflict.
There is no military way to solve it. If there was a military way to solve it, we would have found it a long time ago.
The president made the right decision. It's time to focus our resources other -- elsewhere. But we -- that does not mean we are going to disengage from Afghanistan, but we continue to support the Afghan government and the security forces but we're going to do so without boots on the ground.
BROWN: So you support Biden's withdrawal, but I want to get your reaction to this. What sources have told CNN that the pace of U.S. withdrawal is catching some in Washington and Afghanistan by surprise.
Now, we heard Biden say today that speed is safety. Let's listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Thanks to the way, in which we have managed our withdrawal, no one, no one U.S. forces or any forces have -- have been lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So, do you think that this is happening too quickly? Or has it, in fact, saved lives by being so quick?
CROW: Well, the president is right, in that withdrawal operations are actually some of the riskiest things that you do in the military. The military calls it retrograde operations which is their term for withdrawing. It's very risky because as there are fewer and fewer personnel, boots on the ground, at any one operating base or outpost, those folks who are behind are at greater and greater risk.
Nobody wants to be the last person on the helicopter. But what I do know is if there had been an attack in the last couple of months and U.S. soldiers had lost their lives during the withdrawal. Then, that's when we would be talking about. We would be talking about whether or not the withdrawal was botched, whether it was done the right way. No Americans have lost their lives because we've done this quick.
We've done it efficiently. We've done it the way that it's supposed to be done. And, you know, instead, we're having a discussion without additional American lives having been lost.
BROWN: And as you well know, there are many components to a withdrawal and there is this big question about relocating Afghan nationals. Biden says that that will happen, you know, clear of this month. These are Afghan nationals who helped U.S. forces.
But it's, still, unclear, how many or where exactly they'll go.
How do -- what do you think about how the Biden administration has handled this issue?
CROW: Well, I continue to push the Biden administration on this issue. That's why I, along with several other members of Congress, actually formed the Honoring Our Promises working group shortly after the administration announced the withdrawal, because this is extremely personal for us.
I am not exaggerating when I say I may not be here, sitting here, talking with you today had it not been for the Iraqis and the Afghans who served with me, who fought with me, who warned me of risks, that helped me navigate challenging situations. They're our brothers and sisters. They fought alongside of us and even lost their lives sacrificing for the United States of America.
So we have an obligation to protect them and their families, number one. Number two, this is a national security issue. We're going to be facing risks in the future and future years and decades. And our future partners are going to look at how we treat our current partners, whether or not we leave them behind, whether or not the American handshake matters.
And that's what's at stake here. We're going to debate the Afghan war for decades to come. Books are going to be written about it, debates are going to be had about it but there is honor in the next couple months in doing the right thing and standing by our Afghan partners and we are going to continue to push the administration to make sure that's what happens.
BROWN: So, it just sounds like from hearing you talk about it that you -- that you disagree with some of how the Biden administration has handled this, is that right?
CROW: No, I think that they have come around to this. The president has been very clear in the last couple of weeks and even today that they are going to conduct an evacuation.
But it's complicated. This is not an easy thing to do. You have to get people to Kabul. You have to put them through a vetting process to make sure that we're keeping the United States safe.
[16:235:02] You know, we are passing legislation. We actually passed one of my bills last week in the House to expedite the special immigrant visa process. We're going to pass more legislation in the coming weeks to speed that process up.
This is not easy. But I, certainly, have been pushing the administration to do it. I -- I wish they had done it, a little bit sooner because time is of the essence here. But they have come around to the right decision. But as a member of Congress, my job is not the rubber stamp and just agree with the administration. My job is to make sure I'm pushing them when I need to, and that's what I'm going to continue to do.
BROWN: I am going to get your reaction to this piece in "The Economist" today that made this point, quote: Those who worry about possible reprisals against the locals who worked as translators for the Americans are missing the big picture. America is abandoning an entire country of almost 40 million people to a grizzly fate.
Do you worry Afghanistan will essentially go back to exactly where it was 20 years ago?
CROW: Well, I disagree with the premise of that statement. I mean, the premise is that Afghanistan shouldn't stand on its own or can't stand on its own.
The Afghan people are a proud people. They are a people with a proud history and if you ask any Afghan, regardless of where they are or where their sentiments lie, they want independence. They want to stand on their own.
This idea that we should perpetually be there or need to perpetually be there is not one that, I think, really holds much water. So there is risk. And I think it comes back to the risk issue. And there is risk in a lot of places.
But we don't have unlimited money. We don't have unlimited resources. We have to make a decision about how best to protect the United States, how best to make sure we're spreading peace and freedom and democracy around the world given the various challenges that we face, in -- in the Asian Pacific area, in Europe and so many other places.
We are not abandoning Afghanistan. We will continue to engage with them. We're just not going to have American boots on the ground.
BROWN: All right. Congressman Jason Crow, thank you for sharing your perspective, especially as someone who has served in Afghanistan and has been on the ground there. Thanks so much.
CROW: Thank you.
BROWN: It may now be one of the deadliest incidents in the U.S. in decades. The heartbreaking turn to a recovery effort in Surfside.
BROWN: The national lead: after two weeks of heartache, the saddest day, yet, in Surfside, Florida. Overnight, with a moment of silence, the rescue phase at the site came to an end. Officials, today, increased the death toll in the condo building that collapsed to 60, with 80 unaccounted for.
But sadly, all those victims, now, are presumed dead, presumed rather -- as CNN's Rosa Flores reports.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With heavy hearts and a moment of silence at the site of the collapse, the mission in Surfside, Florida, transitioned from search and rescue, to search and recovery. Officials say there seems to be zero chance of life under the rubble.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): When that happened, it took a little piece of the hearts of this community.
FLORES: A crushing blow for families and first responders, who were hoping for a miracle. Some looking at pictures of loved ones they'll never see, again. At least 60 people have died. Dozens are, still, unaccounted for, making this tragedy one of the biggest-mass casualty events in America since 9/11. Among the youngest victims, 4-year-old Emma Guara and her sister 10-year-old Lucia. The sisters shared one casket. The funeral service also included their parents who perished during the collapse.
FATHER JUAN SOSA, GUARA FAMILY'S CATHOLIC PRIEST: Family members were clinging on each other and that's good because they were able to hold one another, and support one another.
FLORES: Officials say, every victim is treated with compassion. And so are their personal items, like photos and jewelry.
MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: As we work hard in the weeks and months ahead to reunite family members with whatever items are possible.
FLORES: The Miami-Dade county state attorney announcing a grand-jury investigation into what caused the collapse. Meanwhile, Surfside officials looking into the safety of Champlain Towers North, the collapsed condo's sister building.
MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: We have also taken core samples of concrete to determine the strength and composition, looking for potential-salt content, which can significantly compromise the structure.
FLORES: The mayor, also, urging all buildings east of Collins Avenue to hire structural and geotechnical engineers to check structural conditions in the area, so what happened here at Champlain Towers South, doesn't happen again.
FLORES (on camera): We are learning more from the Surfside mayor about this deep-dive forensic analysis that is being done on Champlain Towers North. That is the sister building to the building that collapsed. He says that core samples have been taken of the actual concrete. They are checking to see if the salt has compromised the integrity of that building.
And, Pamela, we, of course, don't know what caused the collapse of Champlain Towers South. But whatever they find here will have ramifications because, as you know, buildings like that dot the landscape here in South Florida -- Pamela.
BROWN: All right. Thank you so much, Rosa Flores live for us in surfside.
Well, President Biden is struggling to appease a key group of voters, today, over an issue that could decide the 2022 midterm elections.
BROWN: In our politics lead, the Texas legislature today started a special session aimed at debating and passing a new, restrictive voting bill. Democrats say it will make it harder to vote. While Republicans say it will make it harder to cheat, despite nearly-zero evidence of any cheating, so far.
Texas is one of several Republican-led states that are considering or have, already, passed election reform laws, on the federal level.
Voting rights activists are pressuring the White House to do something. And right now, President Biden is meeting with civil rights groups to talk about this very issue.
Let's discuss this with CNN political commentators, Mia Love and Bakari Sellers.
Great to see you, both.
Bakari, let's start with you. Press Secretary Jen Psaki says Biden intends to give a major speech on voting rights. Do you think he has done enough on this issue?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, that's a tough question. I'm not sure that we need any more speeches on voting rights legislation. I think we all know the import of this issue. This is the life and legacy of someone, like John Lewis. In fact, there is a piece of legislation that bears his name.
We know that the John Roberts Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act and it's just hanging on by the proverbial nub, now, after its most recent ruling. So, I think, we're beyond the point of speeches, although, I look
forward to hear his words. I think that if these words continue to fall on the deaf ears of Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, then all of this will be for naught. Those two individuals are the ones that have to care about minority communities in this country voting and it's apparent they do not.
BROWN: And you are talking about, also, you know, their support for this bill. But also, the filibuster, too, is part of this conversation.
Congresswoman Love, we are hearing the agenda for this meeting with President Biden and civil rights leaders included automatic voter registration at age 18. And making Election Day a federal holiday. Do you think Republicans would have a problem with that?
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think Republicans should have a problem with that. I think it's absolutely essential for us to give as many people, as many options and places to vote. As many opportunity to vote, and as much time to vote as possible.
And if it's considered a federal holiday and people can have the day off and dedicate their time to go out and vote. I think that that's a good thing. This -- in our country, it's the -- it's a right and it's a privilege to vote. And -- and it's an important part of being an American.
So, I don't think that Republicans should have an issue with it. I think that they should, actually, celebrate it.
BROWN: Bakari, did you want to jump in?
SELLERS: Yeah. No. I appreciate and that's why we miss my -- my colleague being Congresswoman Love because they, apparently, do have a problem with it. And it's the members that are sitting there, now.
I mean, these are -- this isn't a partisan -- this should not be a partisan issue. This is an issue about democracy. And the fact that you have Republican states, around the country, who are pushing back against the highest turnout we have had in American history. And the voter fraud we see is nonexistent or happens on Republican watch.
So, I -- I -- this is a clear effort, by Republicans, to push back in state legislatures around the country to push back against allowing voters to have access. But again, to the Democrats out here, like, if we're not going do something, then why do we have a majority?
BROWN: And on voting fraud, it does exist but on a very small scale, statistically insignificant, statistically insignificant.
So, Congresswoman, at what point do Republicans infringe on the constitutional right for valid voters to be able to cast their votes in America by putting in these restrictions in the name of voter fraud that is statistically insignificant?
LOVE: Look, I think it's absolutely crucial for states to go back and look at the things that they've done in the last election due to COVID. To make sure that they are doing everything they can of the things that actually worked, that gave people more opportunity to vote. They keep in.
And -- and look at some of their laws. I do believe that requiring ID is not voter suppression. However, I do believe that when you are stopping people from voting on Sundays because you're afraid that their church is going to send them to the -- to the polls -- I think that's absolutely ridiculous. I think that the messaging is important. That's -- that's Republicans and Democrats. That's their responsibility to get the message out. However, every state should do everything they can to let both parties in the state have as many opportunities to vote.
BROWN: Right. And that is why some of those efforts in Republican-led states were so troubling. The cutting down on Sunday hours, and the question would be, if you are really making these changes in the name of, you know, making sure you are boosting the integrity of the vote. What evidence do you have that -- that fraud is going to be, you know, that there's been fraud during those hours on a Sunday? I mean, it raised all kinds of questions.
But, Bakari, you are a former-state lawmaker in South Carolina. You know, more than most, how hard it is for Democrats to do anything in a Republican-controlled legislature. So, how can Democrats combat these state bills?
SELLERS: I mean, you're -- you are dredging up my PTSD of sitting on the election law subcommittee in the South Carolina House of Representatives. I mean, the fact is after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, we lost 1,100 state legislative seats across the country, 1,100.
And so, that's why you are seeing a lot of these laws pass.
I mean, the devil's in the details because I -- you know, I think that -- that if -- if -- if my friend and I were in a room together. We could come out with a voting rights package. A Democrat and Republican, Utah and South Carolina, two conservative states coming out. We could do that. If we wanted to pass voter ID, I would just ask that all forms of voter ID are allowed to be used, college ID utility bills, et cetera, would be allowed to be shown at the polls.
And so, I think that we have to get to the point of allowing access to the ballot box.
BROWN: All right. Bakari Sellers, Congresswoman Love, thank you so much for joining us.
And up next, a new investigation into a dark and troubling chapter in American history, after graves of young children were found.
BROWN: A new reckoning over America's painful relationship with Native Americans.
For decades, many indigenous children were taken from their families and tribes and sent to boarding schools in an effort to indoctrinate them into White Christian culture. After the remains of children were found on the grounds of a former Pennsylvania school, a federal investigation will look into this dark chapter in American history.
CNN's Martin Savidge reports.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota, America's nearly two century efforts to eradicate native languages and cultures continues to traumatize.
Was it a hard day?
MALONE ARROW, SICANGU YOUTH COUNCIL: Yes, it was.
SAVIDGE: In 2015, Mallory arrow went to Washington, D.C. with the tribe's youth council. They stopped at a former Native American boarding school in Pennsylvania.
ARROW: Getting there, it wasn't -- I didn't feel anything. I didn't like I felt like I was supposed to feel getting to the school. But it wasn't until we got to the grave sites.
SAVIDGE: They found graves of native children their age from their very own Sicangu Lakota tribe, taken from their very reservation more than 100 years ago.
ARROW: We all started crying. Like, we all felt that energy there.
CHRISTOPHER EAGLE DEAR, SICANGU YOUTH COUNCIL: It's like mourning a relative you didn't know you had.
SAVIDGE: They left with one question.
EAGLE DEAR: Why don't we bring 'em home? We don't have an answer for that. You know? Why don't we bring them home?
SAVIDGE: During the 19th and much of the 20th century, generations of indigenous children in the U.S. were forced into boarding schools. Many run by religious organizations or the federal government, part of a campaign to assimilate them into White Christian culture.
RODNEY BORDEAUX, PRESIDENT, ROSEBUD-SIOUX TRIBE: Take the Indian out and save the child was kind of the -- the talk, back then.
SAVIDGE: Many children suffered sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, malnourishment, and disease. No one's really sure how many died. But the more than 900 unmarked grave sites found near just two Canadian schools is a grim indicator of what could be found in the U.S.
CHRISTINE CLEAVE, CEO, NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN BUILDING SCHOOL HEALING COALITION: If you look at the numbers here, from the United States, we had twice as many schools. You can, basically, just estimate that our numbers will be double what they found in Canada.
SAVIDGE: Many tribal leaders believe the generational trauma from erasing people's identity directly relates to the chronic issues on reservations today -- poverty, addiction, suicide. So no one went untouched?
BORDEAUX: No one went untouched. No family went untouched so we need to find out the truth.
SAVIDGE: Finding that truth is what the federal investigation is all about. But it's likely to be uncomfortable.
As for those children, Mallory and her friends found in the graveyard years ago, they are coming home. In the largest repatriation of its kind, the remains of nine Lakota children from that former Pennsylvania boarding school will begin the journey back, next week.
ASIA "ISTA G WIN" BLACK BULL, SCANGU YOUTH COUNCIL: We saw a change that we needed so we became the change.
SAVIDGE: The young Lakota plan to escort the children home.
Christopher even sing to them in their own language, something the boarding school would have forbidden.
Is it the end of something? Or really, just the beginning?
BLACK BULL: It's the beginning. There's so much more boarding schools that we have, yet. This is just the start.
SAVIDGE: They know much more needs to be done. Many more children need to be found.
BLACK BULL: You look at it as why do these schools with, you know, a lot of the white children got to attend schools with playgrounds. Our children had to attend schools with graveyards and it should be a wakeup call, now.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Pamela, this is the veteran cemetery on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and it's where the children will finally rest. They will be back home.
As for the investigation, tribal leaders and many native groups are in favor of it. But they worry that a lot of the records have either been lost or maybe even purposely destroyed over the years. They also worry that they will only work to identify potential grave sites of mass burial sites. It won't actually bring the children home, which is, of course, what they want -- Pamela.
Chills, watching that story.
Martin Savidge, thank you for shining a spotlight on it.
Well, fewer travelers but more guns. The surge of weapons at airports, up next.
BROWN: And we are back with our national lead. And a surge in the number of guns found at TSA checkpoints. More than 70 guns were caught by agents over the July 4th weekend, 60 of them loaded. Officials say, even though traveler numbers were down, the rate of confiscated guns has soared. One factor, they say, a high number of first-time flyers and others, who are out of practice.
Offenders face fines and criminal prosecution and it can, also, slow down the screening process for everyone else.
I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper.
Our coverage with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" starts now.