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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Pentagon: 3,000 Plus U.S. Troops will be Deployed to Afghanistan; Soon: FDA Could Authorize Booster Shots for Immunocompromised; Census Shows Most Growth in Cities, America More Diverse; GOP Rep. Perry Played Key Role in Promoting Trump's "Big Lie". Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 12, 2021 - 16:00   ET



MCKINLEY NELSON, FOUNDER, PROJECT SWISH CHICAGO: Even today, I got a call that one of the kids in the foundation we lost to gun violence. So in order for me to continue to my job, it was important for everybody to get -- everybody to get vaccinated so we can get back in the gym.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: McKinley Nelson, thank you for the work you're doing and for your time.

I've gone to wrap it there. That does it for me. I'm Victor Blackwell in New York.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: America's longest war not over yet.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Breaking news in Afghanistan. The Taliban seized more cities. The U.S. is sending thousands of troops evacuating staff and telling any U.S. citizen to get out immediately. We're live in Kabul.

Then, it's happening again. Hospitals running out of beds, and now, some people may soon get a booster shot. Are you included?

Plus, how little-known congressman was privately helping former President Trump and the efforts to overturn the election.


BROWN: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper.

And we start with breaking news. Afghanistan on the brink of collapse and moments ago, the Pentagon announcing 3,000 U.S. troops are headed back there.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: This movement is consist of three infantry battalions that are currently in the Central Command area of responsibility. They will move to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul within the next 24 to 48 hours. Those three infantry battalions will comprise 3,000 personnel.


BROWN: Their mission? To get Americans out now. A senior White House official telling me, President Biden gave the order this morning after being briefed by his national security adviser and the secretary of defense.

And here's why. The walls are closing in on Afghanistan's capital Kabul seen here on this map surrounded by the Taliban in red. The same official telling me, quote, we knew this was possible but not the situation we had hoped would be the case.

We're covering this from the ground in Afghanistan as well as the State Department and the White House.

Let's start with CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward live in Kabul.

Clarissa, U.S. Marines, soldiers are just hours away from landing back in Afghanistan. How dire is the situation on the ground there?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's certainly a growing reality that this is not going to be possible in terms of trying to reverse the gains that have been made by the Taliban. Afghan forces clearly are not able to stem the tide. We are seeing major cities falling to the Taliban, falling like dominoes, Pamela. Today, Herat, Afghanistan's third largest city also imminently expected to fall, Kandahar, the second largest city, the spiritual heartland of the Taliban, the birthplace of the movement, the former capital of their Islamic emirate.

If Kandahar falls, this has huge implications. I've spoken to a member of parliament, a lawmaker on the ground there, he says it hasn't fallen yet but it will. We were there less than a week ago and we were at their frontline position with Afghan commandos. That frontline position is now completely under control of the Taliban -- Pamela.

BROWN: And, Kylie, I want to bring you in because you have new reporting about the mad scramble inside the Biden administration, including possibly moving the embassy?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. There are a number of contingency conversations happening right now. One of those is the possibility of relocating the U.S. embassy in Kabul to the airport in Kabul. That is a place where these U.S. troops are going to be going to support these U.S. diplomats that are going to be leaving the country.

Now, the State Department is pressing that this is not an evacuation, not a full withdrawal, not a U.S. abandonment of Afghanistan.

I asked what the message is, however, to the Afghans on the ground when the U.S. is not only withdrawing their troops but now also starting to withdraw their diplomats? The State Department spokesperson said it is a message of enduring partnership, but frankly, that is hard to see given the fact that these diplomats are going to be leaving the country. It appears that there are moves to potentially stage more diplomats to leave the country and President Biden has continuously said that even when U.S. troops withdraw, America is not going to withdraw from Afghanistan.

But it appears today that there are the wheels in motion should that be a possibility, should the Taliban gains grow so close to Kabul that the U.S. needs to pull all their personnel out of country.

BROWN: Clearly leaving the door open for that possibility.

Jeff, we're learning more about President Biden's role in sending troops back to Afghanistan.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, we are. And President Biden did not answer guess this decision today, but as you mentioned earlier, we are learning now from White House officials that President Biden signed off on this order earlier today to send troops back to Afghanistan, some 3,000 or so.


And this came after a meeting last evening I am told with his top national security advisers, and he was briefed again this morning by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as well as his top national security adviser Jake Sullivan. It was that the point that we're told that President Biden gave this order to the Pentagon to send more troops back. But beyond that, the White House is not releasing a more formal statement on this statement. But they behind the scenes, Pamela, are working to make clear that the president is deeply engaged in this.

We should point out that his view overall this, Afghanistan policy has not changed. I'm told he does me of that this is in line with what his overall strategy is and he said just two days ago here at the White House he does not regret his decision to pull U.S. troops out. So the White House does not see this as a contradiction by ordering to send more troops. They say it's not different from his policy but, that of course, is the open question here. What happens next here going forward?

So the president choosing not to address this directly today with reporters, but we do know he was deeply involved in a meeting last night as well as signing off on that order earlier today, Pamela.

BROWN: Right. And the source I spoke with earlier, administration officials said that, look, they knew this was possible. The Taliban was strongly positioned when President Biden made this announcement, but this was certainly not the scenario that they want to see play out, how quickly the Taliban has been able to gain control.

And, Clarissa, you have been talking to Afghans desperately looking to get out. What are they telling you?

WARD: Well, whatever the semantics might be in terms of how the State Department is presenting this, saying it's just out of an abundance of caution, it's not evacuation, it's a withdrawal, the way it's being seen on the ground as Kylie pointed out is as an evacuation, it's being seen as a pivotal moment, it's turning the tide here from a sense of dread to a sense of panic. How do we get out? When can we get out? When is the Taliban going to surround the city? What will happen to our families? What are our options? Where can we take safe harbor?

And the reality is people are not getting a lot of messages or feedback, particularly from the Afghan government, as to what they should do or where they should. Particularly of concern are the thousands of people who have worked either with the U.S. military over the last 20 years, with NATO forces over the last 20 years, the U.S. embassy -- you know, we've heard that over a thousands of them have been able to get out of country into the U.S. but there are many, many more who are mired deep in paperwork, who are growing panicked by the moment.

We've been in touch with one young man who talked about potentially trying to set himself on fire outside the U.S. embassy as a form of protest. Now, I'm not sure he's going to do that. I certainly hope he is not, but I do think that speaks to the situation here in terms of just how alarmed and panicked people are becoming.

BROWN: Absolutely. And you noted that some Afghans have been evacuated, but there are still 15,000 SIV applicants in Afghanistan waiting to be evacuated, and you have spoken to some people in Kandahar. You were just there last week. Did they expect this to happen so fast?

WARD: No. They didn't. When I interviewed this lawmaker last week, Pamela, what was extraordinary is he was saying you should look out tonight. We're launching a big counteroffensive. Afghan forces will take back some of the territory that the Taliban had, and when we were there at that frontline position with the soldiers looking out at a Taliban flag which was not that far away, by the way, those soldiers felt pretty confident that they had the situation under control.

Well, I sent those soldiers a message earlier today. I said are you okay because obviously that position has now been completely overrun by the Taliban, and they said simply we left. We left, and this really speaks to the core issue here, Pamela, is that many Afghan forces now confronted with the growing momentum that the Taliban has on its side are simply choosing to surrender or to desert. They do not want to die. They are not willing to do it, and that means that the Afghan government has very little opportunity to try to turn this thing around.

WARD: So Afghan forces have a lot more manpower than the Taliban. The U.S. keeps saying that we have given them so many resources. How is the Taliban able to dominate so quickly? Does this just come down to a matter of will, Clarissa?

WARD: No. There are some other factors at play here. Resupply is a big up, okay. The idea was to have these Afghan bases all over the entire country. This is a vast country, and what happens is when the -- even when the get-go resupply was the issue and now with the military under such strong pressure it becomes even more of a central issue.

We actually recently were talking to some Taliban fighters in Ghazni province who said they were able to take over an Afghan base because the Afghan soldiers inside the base ran out of food because it was no longer possible for them to get resupplies. Another thing that I would say is a really key issue is morale within the Afghan forces. They don't have the same level of commitment to the cause. There's disenchantment. There isn't the same cohesion and coherence. A lot of people feel resentful about corruption within the Afghan government.

Then you compare that with a Taliban soldier whose very goal in life is to die in battle to enter paradise and you can begin to see how it becomes a very difficult fight for these Afghan forces to accomplish.

BROWN: Clarissa Ward in Kabul, Kylie Atwood at the State Department and Jeff Zeleny at the White House -- thank you.

Up next, booster shots potentially coming soon, but only for a small number of Americans. We're going to explain who might get one.

Plus, brand new census numbers. Where the country is growing and why it matters for you.



BROWN: In our health lead, a push for vaccine booster shots as COVID- 19 engulfs the U.S. Today, the CDC said more than 90 percent of counties have substantial or high levels of transmission.

And here's a stunning comparison. What the country looks like one month ago on the left and what it looks like right now. The highly infectious delta variant and low vaccination rates mostly to blame.

Now, as CNN's Nick Watt reports, the FDA is planning to authorize a third dose for many Americans.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The FDA expected very soon to green light an additional vaccine shot for the immunocompromised.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: That actually encompasses a relatively small proportion of the population, around 3 percent or so.

WATT: So what about boosters for the rest of us?

FAUCI: We believe sooner or later, you will need a booster for durability of protection. We are preparing for the eventuality of doing that.

WATT: Meantime in Franklin, Tennessee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can leave freely but we will find you and we know where you are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll never be allowed in public again.

WATT: After a school board vote for a mask mandate, members, doctors, nurses harassed. The president sold this video.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, our health care workers are heroes. To the mayors, school superintendents, educators, local leaders who are standing up to the governor's politicizing mask protection for our kids -- thank you, thank you as well. Thank good that we have heroes like you, and I stand with you all.

WATT: Thousands of kids largely in the south already sent home back to virtual school. Why? Exposure and/or high case counts where they live.

DR. LEANA WEN, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER: Masking is I think a lot of us would say something pretty small that we can do in order to prevent all these negative consequences.

WATT: Nearly 99 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties where people should be wearing masks indoors according to new CDC guidance.

Meantime, more than 75,000 people are now in the hospital fighting the virus. Look at that line climb over the past month. That's a problem.

JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIURS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Florida and Texas alone have accounted for nearly 40 percent of new hospitalizations across the country.

WATT: Triage tent just went up again at LBJ hospital in Houston, Texas.

DR. ESMAEIL PORSA, PRESIDENT & CEO, HARRIS HEALTH SYSTEMS: Things are terrible. My hospitals are full.

WATT: And filling fast in missies.

DR. ALAN JONES, COVID-19 CLINICAL RESPONSE LEAD, UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI MEDICAL CENTER: If we continue that trajectory within the next five to seven to ten days, I think we're going to see failure of the hospital system in Mississippi.

WATT: Anger in Alabama that the virus is surging.

DONNA ALBERNATHY, NURSE, ATHENS-LIMESTONE HOSPITAL, ATHENS, ALABAMA: Until we get enough people vaccinated, we're just going to continue to see this revamp its ugly face.


WATT (on camera): Now San Francisco just became the first major city in this country to enact an ordinance like this. Pretty soon gyms, bars, restaurants, indoor gyms, bars, restaurants, these remembers going have to ask for proof of full vaccination from employees and customers before they are allowed inside. Down here in Los Angeles, the city attorney is right now preparing something similar -- Pamela. BROWN: All right. Nick Watt, thank you so much.

And joining me now to discuss, CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

Today -- good to see you, Sanjay. Today, the CDC director said the booster dose would go to immunocompromised people. Only 3 percent of Americans would receive this from the immunocompromised community, but what does this signal to the rest of us? Does that mean that it will happen for the rest of us soon?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, I think the most honest answer is I don't know, but I don't think that this necessarily is like a linear thing, that it's this population and that for sure it's going to lead to everyone needing a booster. The issue with people who are immunocompromised is their immune system cannot generate the same antibody response. That was the concern.

Let me show you one study that came out of the "New England Journal of Medicine". This was specifically looking at organ transplant recipients and finding out what happened if they got the regular two shots. That is the bar graph on the far laugh. They got neutralizing effect, but then when they got that third shot you can see how much more protection they got.

So that was because their immune system in the first place did not generate enough antibodies. They needed the third shot.

For the rest of us, the news, Pamela, every time we look at is that the vaccines remain very effective. Studies coming out today talking about Moderna still effective at six months even against the delta variant. The trigger will be most likely not so much seeing waning antibodies.


It will be people who are healthy, got vaccinate and still got, you know, severely ill. And we're not seeing that yet thankfully. These vaccines still remain very effective.

BROWN: Right.

And just to dig a little bit deeper on what you were just noting there. There's this new study showing the delta variant has significantly impacted vaccine efficacy. So I want to put these numbers into perspective a little bit more, Sanjay. Between January and July, researchers found two doses of Moderna's advantages own were 86 percent effective in preventing infections and two doses of Pfizer's vaccine were 76 percent effective but by the end of July after the delta variant took hold the efficacy for Moderna dropped to 76 percent and Pfizer to 42 percent.

So for those watching this right now who may have had the Pfizer vaccine, what should they be thinking when they see those numbers?

GUPTA: I'd be very careful interpreting these numbers. It's an early study and it hasn't even been peer-reviewed. But let's say that even those numbers are accurate, which we're not sure about, if they hold up in larger populations, the real question is, does the -- does the vaccine protect you from getting severely ill? That was what the initial outcome trials were looking at, and that's, you know, the most important thing.

I think what we're seeing is that the delta variant is far more transmissible so there's people who test positive because they are dealing with a more transmissible virus but they are not necessarily getting sick or they're not necessarily getting very sick and that number has held constant.

So I think what we're thinking is more people are able to actually test positive and carry the virus in their nose and month but second part of that equation, that then translates and getting severely ill, still thankfully not seeing that. And that's the really important point, because you have this new piece out today about people who are vaccinated but end up testing positive with COVID and in that piece, you argue, we should get away with calling them breakthrough cases. Why is that?

GUPTA: Well, you know, breakthrough sort of gives this sort of impression, you know, that incorrectly the -- the -- the virus is breaking through the protective armor of the vaccine, and that the vaccine is somehow failing.

What -- if you think about the vaccine, and this is something that I think is real important. I've learned more about just over this past year and a half, the vaccine itself, primarily the vaccines are working at the level of the lung, okay? So the virus in your nose and mouth, you may test positive but you're probably not that ill, probably have a few symptoms.

It's when the virus goes into the lung that people start to get severely ill. These vaccines work at that level. So it is quite reasonable that people would still have the virus in their upper airway, test positive, be considered a breakthrough infection but again not getting severely ill because the vaccine is doing what it should be doing. So, in some ways, a breakthrough infection is an indication to the vaccine-makers that the vaccine is working.

So I think the term is just one of these terms that people misinterpret. Scientists often say post-vaccine infection. Whatever the term, don't interpret that as a vaccine failure.

BROWN: And that's important. I mean, language matters when you're dealing with so many people in this country who are still unvaccinated, who may want to look at -- point to that and say, well, see.

What you're saying is it can really save your life because it's not making it down to the lungs. The vaccine is working and that's the point of all of it, but I do want to ask you big picture here, given how many people are still unvaccinated and people who just say they will not get vaccinated no matter what, is it inevitable that the next strain is going to be just as bad or not worse than the delta? GUPTA: There will be more mutations for sure, know. It's a little bit

of a game of chance and I'm not trying to say that to be glib, but the more the virus spreads, the more mutations occur. Many of those mutations may be harmless or not making the virus worse, but every now and then will be a mutation that does make the virus more transmissible.

So the real issue is not -- obviously we want to get people vaccinated. That protects them and ultimately will lower, you know, viral spread, but the key is to just reduce the number of times the virus spreads from one person to another. That's the key, because each time that happens, more mutations can occur.

I think that's why we talk about vaccines and masks at the same time. You want to vaccinate to protect people. Ultimately have this long- term protection against viral spread, but masks now can actually bring the viral spread down, reduce the chance of mutations and -- and as a result reduce the chance of some problematic variant emerging.

BROWN: Right, I think that's the case. It's the difference between, know, a pour down if it's raining outside versus, you know, just kind of sprinkling, right? I mean, it real brings down the transmission which is part of this whole calculation.

All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.


And up next, brand new details shedding light on how America has changed and what it might mean for you.


BROWN: In the politics lead, one of the most consequential sets of numbers to be released in the last decade, results of the 2020 census.

Bottom line: America has changed, a lot. These results help term how billions of dollars in federal funding are spent, where to build roads, and how much to get public schools, how many elected leaders represent you in Congress.


So let's get you right to CNN's Tom Foreman for the breakdown.

Tom, start with the overall numbers. How much has the U.S. population changed.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's bigger, as would you guess. Look at that, 331.4 million people in the U.S. on this latest census. That is, of course, growth, but look at it compared to the past year. One of the things the census folks note it's the slowest growth we've had in the country since way back in the 1920s and 1930s, so this is much slower than we would normally expect, Pam.

BROWN: What about population by race? Any notable changes there released today.

FOREMAN: There absolutely are. Look, white people, non-Hispanic white people remain the majority almost everywhere and certainly the plurality in places where they are not the majority generally, but look at movement here by the Hispanic or Latino population. That's sort of the pink line here.

A lot of movement there, so much so that they are now the biggest group in California and New Mexico and coming strong in other places, too, like Texas and here's another one that they made a big point of. Look at the number of people in the country who say there are some other mixed ethnic ethnicity of almost 50 million people here is way up. Now, some of this is because the Census Bureau allowed people to better designate what they see themselves as. So, some of this is actual change in society and some of this is people being able to express who they are, but that is a big number and that really changes the math for a lot of people out there trying to figure out the politics of all of this.

BROWN: And all of this impacts the numbers in Congress, Tom. What do we know?

FOREMAN: Yeah. Well, we know for one thing that the pandemic made all of this counting very problematic and confused a lot of people but the census people say they are confident that they got a good count and right now the race is on. Operatives from the Democrats and Republicans and anybody else who wants to play, but they are out there looking at all these districts saying where do we gain people, where do we lose people because this is what you base congressional representation on.

We know already that Texas, for example, is going to pick up some seats. We also know that Florida is going to pick up some seats. These are states that have been a big deal in this election, and there's been a big fight over how the vote goes there, and we also know some other places have lost seats, so what you're going to see is this mad dash now by the parties to say how can we draw these district lines to multiply the effect of our voters and diminish the effect of the other side? That will happen in back rooms but that's where these numbers are real, really going to count -- Pam.

BROWN: All right. Tom Foreman, thanks for helping us understand all of this.

FOREMAN: You're welcome.

A rather late financial disclosure raising some eyebrows about an investment made by one U.S. senator's wife. We'll discuss, up next.



BROWN: Topping our politics lead, new details about one of the bit players in Trump's big lie. The Trump White House, of course, had plenty of well-known deputies willing to peddle his baseless claims of election fraud.

But CNN's Sara Murray reports on one Republican congressman who worked furiously behind the scene to stop the will of American voters.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A little-known Pennsylvania congressman who publicly parroted claims of election fraud --

REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): We want the ballots and the votes that are counted to be legal.

MURRAY: -- was privately helping former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Republican Congressman Scott Perry has acknowledged he connected Trump with Jeffrey Clark, an environmental law chief at the Justice Department. Clark back channeled with the White House to help push baseless fraud conspiracies and even attempted a leadership coup at the Justice Department, according to documents and testimony from former Justice Department officials.

Perry had a friendly relationship with Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: A wonderful man who represents this area, Scott Perry.

MURRAY: It's unclear how he knew Clark, but the three men were united in the embrace of election conspiracies.

PERRY: I don't understand if there's criminal activity present, fraud, that's criminal activity, why we don't look at that.

MURRAY: In a batch of e-mails released by the House Oversight Committee, Perry passes along documents to the Justice Department that allege there were more votes counted than voters who voted in Pennsylvania, a claim that's been debunked. That same day, Trump mentioned Perry's name in a call with Justice Department officials.

Later in the call, Trumps instructs justice officials to say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.

In Washington, Perry, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has courted controversy by objecting to the certification of Pennsylvania's election results in the hours following the insurrection.

PERRY: Sadly but resolutely I object to the electoral votes of my beloved commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

MURRAY: And voting against awarding the congressional gold medal to officers who defended the Capitol on January the 6th.

Back in Perry's south central Pennsylvania district, many of his allies are unfazed by his role to overturn the election.

JEFF PICCOLA, YORK COUNTY REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE CHAIR: One man introduces another man to a third man. Where is that illegal or improper or inappropriate?

MURRAY: At home, Perry is known for his humble roots, getting a start at a local farm at age 13, rising to the rank of brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, and winning five terms in Congress.

Here, Perry's election skepticism and unwavering support for Trump may help him win elections.

PICCOLA: There's a lot of suspicion that things in the election didn't go right because there were some shenanigans going on.


MURRAY: Not all of Perry's supporters agree, like Gary Eichelberger, who oversaw Cumberland County's elections.

GARY EICHELBERGER, CUMBERLAND COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS CHAIRMAN: We have to appeal to a large number of swing voters if we want to win in Pennsylvania and if we want to win any nationwide elections. So doubling down on the divisiveness is a potential death sentence for the Republican Party.

MURRAY: We tried to ask Perry about those concerns but he was to where to be found this week when we visited all three of his district offices.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, we also reach out to Perry's staff to see if he wanted to comment at all for this piece and we didn't get any response and his actions have really enraged Democrats. They already called on him to resign earlier this year, Pam. He responded in a one- word press release that just said "No".

BROWN: All right. Well, we know where he stands.

Sara Murray, thank you so much for that.

Let's discuss.

Sabrina, I want to kick it off with you on the heels that have report from Sara Murray. I mean, the more we learn about all the behind-the- scenes shenanigans with DOJ officials and congressmen, the more this smacks of a coup attempt. What do you make of the lawmaker's unwillingness to answer for his actions?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it really shows to your point how many people were involved in this effort to try and subvert the will of the American people, and Congressman Scott Perry is one of the Trump loyalists who really played a prominent role as Sara Murray pointed out in trying to promote the big lie, each encouraging stop the steal events. Of course, his home state of Pennsylvania, one of the key Rustbelt states that swung from former President Trump into President Biden's column.

And he also introduced as Sara Murray said the former president to Jeffrey Clark, relatively obscure Justice Department official who really became key in trying to push the -- the president's efforts to overturn the election.

So it just reinforces how many people the president was willing to turn to in his effort to overturn the election, not just cabinet officials who, of course, rebuked him but members of Congress as well as obscure officials within the Justice Department. The question now is whether the committees were investigating these matters are going to bring forward any consequences for lawmakers like Scott Perry who were involved.

BROWN: Yeah. I mean, it's remarkable to see, as Sara laid out, how much this whole big lie, election lie is actually helping Republicans.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Right, and it's just interesting to me that the there are so many Republicans who not only perpetuate the so-called big lie but then they had a role it like the reaction to it so it's like they are pushing it, but then they are also saying, you know, therefore we should not certify Joe Biden's Electoral College win or at the state level they are saying therefore we should change our laws because we want to make elections more secure.

And, again, to your point, it does speak to their base in a lot of far right MAGA Republicans are celebrating what the lawmakers are doing but it's making them harder for them in swing states to win because voters in the middle and Democrats are not pleased.

BROWN: And one of the people who has also been pushing the big election lie or raising suspicions has been Senator Rand Paul who by the way made a very late financial disclosure this week that has raised eyebrows, that his wife purchased stock in February 2020 in the company that makes the antiviral drug remdesivir.

How troubling, if you put this in perspective, Paul, is this late disclosure?

PAULA BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, it's the least bad story Rand Paul has had this week. It wasn't a huge investment. It was his wife. It was 165 days late but it came out and voters for Kentucky did decide if that's problematic.

I think what's far worse is the comments he made on YouTube telling people that masks don't work. You know, nobody is going to die because his wife made an investment. She said she didn't even make money on it.

So, honestly, I'm ready to make him the benefit, I'm a Democrat, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the investment. It's to go forward and tell people that mask, don't work when we know they do. Now he's whining and moaning about that because YouTube for a whole week suspended him from their account, a whole week.

If he does it again, maybe he'll miss the Jonas Bothers concert and be grounded for two weeks. People can die because of that. In his commonwealth in Kentucky where you grew up, a half a million people have been infected, 7,394 have died. He has an obligation it tell the truth in his stock transactions but also about public health. And I think that's much more outrageous frankly and a lot more people are going to be hurt by that.

BROWN: I mean, it's a big deal. It was a big deal because he was suspended, as you say --

BEGALA: It's a slap on the wrist though.

BROWN: Yeah, it's a slap on the wrist but it is still a big deal.

Kristen, I want to bring you something that falls in your expertise and that would be the census data. This new data that came out shows that almost all the nation's growth happened in cities which have been Democratic strongholds, not rural areas. What does all of this tell us?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & POLLSTER: Well, it's interesting. You have -- versus expectations have you seen this data giving some good news to Democrats when there was an expectation that there would be a lot of good news for Republicans.


Early estimates had, you know, Texas, Florida, they are picking up the congressional seats but then you look at where the growth is happening in some of these places, and if it is the cities that may make it more challenging for Republican legislators or commissions appointed by Republicans in some of these states to carve up districts that are Republican safe.

Now, there's a lot of talk over the last decade and a half well, are demographics destiny? We saw in the census really huge growth in terms of the non-white population in the U.S. have states like Florida and Georgia that are on the brink of being majority minority states which has huge political implications.

But just because, say, the Latino population in Florida is growing does not necessarily mean it's becoming a bluer state. You can look for instance a county like Osceola County where I grew up, you've had huge population growth there. It's a large Latino County and a county that swung a little bit red this time around. Demographics aren't destiny but there's still a lot of good news in this for Democrats as they look towards redistricting.

BROWN: So, should Republicans be worried about this or?

ANDERSON: Well, I think Republicans -- it just underscores their need to make sure they have a message that appeals beyond white or evangelical rural voters. America is changing. Their message is going have to reach people that don't necessarily look like the Republican coalition of 10 or 20 years ago may have looked.

BEGALA: Yeah, and they also have to appeal to people in the metropolitan area. The census today says that metropolitan America grew by 9 percent. All ten of the top ten cities added population. Rural America lost population, 2.8 percent of the population of rural America that was there ten years ago is now. They are voting with their feet.

And a big part of Republican talking point has been that cities are bad and cities are hell holes I think is what our president called them -- our former president. I think that's a terrible message.

I live in rural America. I listen to country music. How many countries songs are out there say cities suck and city people are evil. One of my sons like hip hop, not a single hip hop song that says country people are awful. I trust him, I don't listen to, but I gather he's right.

So, Republicans got to learn how to appeal to people in metropolitan America because that's majority of America.

BROWN: Yeah. All right. Well, thank you all so much. Wish we had more time. Appreciate it.

Coming up, a stunning and sad story about a dad who confessed to murdering his own kids. This is just an awful story. What he told investigators up next.



BROWN: In our national lead, a California father confessed to stabbing his two young children in the death leaving them in a ditch in Mexico, telling investigators he did it for several reasons, including serpent DNA and the QAnon conspiracy theory.

CNN's Josh Campbell has more, and we must warn you the details of this story are disturbing.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two small children stabbed in the heart with a spear fishing gun. Their own father allegedly leaving their bodies in a ditch in Mexico. Mexican authorities describing difficult details.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Under the bushes, they found the lifeless bodies of two children, one female, one male.

CAMPBELL: Authorities say 40-year-old surf instructor Matthew Taylor Coleman from Santa Barbara, California, confessed to murdering he is 2-year-old son and 10-month-old daughter this week in Mexico, telling the FBI he was driven to the killings after being enlightened by QAnon and Illuminati conspiracy theories. Police and federal agents were called in after the children were

reported missing by their mother. Authorities tracking Coleman's cell phone to Mexico. Surveillance video images released by authorities show Coleman checking into a hotel with his children August 7th.

Just before 3:00 a.m. on August 9th, he packs them up and leaves the hotel, returning hours later alone. He was stopped by border officials while returning to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers finding what appear to be blood on the vehicle's registration paperwork but no children.

The FBI soon learned from Mexican authorities that the bodies of two children were found overnight along with the murder weapon, bloody clothes and a baby's blanket.

According to the criminal complaint, Coleman allegedly told authorities he was receiving visions and signs revealing that his wife possessed serpent DNA and had passed it on to his children. Coleman also allegedly telling the FBI he was saving the world from monsters.

He was arrested and charged with a foreign murder of U.S. nationals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a horrific tragic loss.

CAMPBELL: Coleman's neighbors back in Santa Barbara stunned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just shocked frankly. Immensely tragic, and having known the two kids and the family, that's just awful.


CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, Pamela, CNN has reached out to the public defender representing Coleman. We have not yet received a response. This case obviously very tragic. We obviously don't know there are mental health issues at play here.

Obviously, not every adherent to QAnon is going to act with violence, but experts and law enforcement officials tell us that some of them have and this is a movement that certainly remains concerning both for officials here in America and in parts of the world -- Pamela.

BROWN: It just shows you that there is danger in believing this. This is one of the worst stories I've heard in a while.


Josh Campbell, thank you.


BROWN: Well, it may be August, but we already know something that you're going to be paying more for during the holidays, but it may be a good thing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: Christmas is coming early this year, at least for the Post Office. The Postal Service is requesting a temporary price increase starting in October to ensure your holiday packages arrive on time. The charge would range from 20 cents to $5. The higher rates still need to be approved.

Our coverage continues now.