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The Lead with Jake Tapper
State Department: 6,000 Will Soon Board Planes To Leave Kabul; Interview With Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO); COVID Hospitalizations Among Children Hit Record High; Dr. Fauci Weighs In On Boosters And The Mask Mandate; Rioters' Sentencing Delayed After Online Sleuths Find New Evidence; At Least 2,100 Dead, Desperate Need For Aid In Towns Isolated After 7.2 Earthquake And Tropical Storm. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired August 19, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The United States now needing to trust the Taliban to get Americans and allies out of Afghanistan. How did we get here?
THE LEAD starts right now.
A dozen people reportedly dead, and the Taliban crushing opposition, clashing with protesters. The same Taliban the U.S. is working with to try the get evacuees to the airport. We're live in Kabul.
The battle over masks escalating in the United States and booster shots going into arms. But still, so many unanswered questions. So Dr. Anthony Fauci will join us to answer them live.
Plus, a standoff with police. A suspect outside the U.S. Capitol today claiming to have a bomb. What led him to it? What is his motivation? The breaking details ahead.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we're going to start with our world lead today, the rush to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies out of Kabul.
This afternoon, the U.S. State Department announced 6,000 people are inside the Kabul airport right now, all, we're told, all of them are fully cleared and we're told will soon fly out of the country. Twenty flights are expected to leave the Kabul airport tonight.
But there are still massive issues for too many others. Sources telling that the State Department advised thousands of local employees to head to the airport yesterday, but many of them simply could not get there. They're either caught in the crowds of thousands waiting outside the airport gates. They were beaten by the Taliban for attempting to leave. They were stopped at checkpoints.
President Biden has pledged that U.S. forces will remain in Afghanistan until all Americans are evacuated even if that means keeping U.S. troops on the ground past the August 31st withdrawal deadline, but the president stopped short of making that commitment to the thousands of Afghan allies who risked their lives to help U.S. forces during the war.
Let's get straight to CNN's Clarissa Ward who's live in Kabul.
Clarissa, there are reports that 12 people have been killed around the Kabul airport in the last few days. How quickly is the situation on the ground deteriorating?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it continues to be really bad, Jake, and it's not getting any better. And that's the worry. The hope was that perhaps the U.S. could have some kind of a plan in place or would be able through these negotiations with the Taliban to try to streamline or improve the process, but that's not what we're seeing at all. I have been speaking to people all day who have been at the airport, trying to get into the airport.
We're seeing biblical scenes still. Crowds of thousands lined up pushing to try to get inside the airport, and basically unless you're American or one of the sort of partner NATO countries, you can't get in. I managed to track down one Afghan who was a translator for the U.S. military who managed to get in today, escaping a beating as he did so, because just for our viewers to better understand, you have the first perimeter, which is Taliban fighters, which is hard enough to get through. They're sometimes looking at documentation sometimes not. They can't actually really read your documentation any way, so it's completely arbitrary.
Then they go through a second later which is Afghan special forces commandos, who are kind of the first line of defense for the U.S. forces. And then you go through a third layer potentially which is obviously the U.S. itself. So basically it has become virtually impossible for people who are not Americans or NATO nationalities to get into that airport, and as a result, many people, even those who are American, who maybe dual nationals, are simply too afraid to risk it, which in turn then means the planes aren't filling up fast enough to keep the evacuations moving.
So, the system is very much broken and the question now is, how does it get fixed?
TAPPER: There's also this new reality setting in for the Afghan people for what life will be like under the control of the extremists of the Taliban, including a curfew impose for the first time this evening?
WARD: Yeah, today was the first day. I have been telling you every day, it's strange and people are shocked and afraid, but it's relatively calm. Today was the first day we started to feel that tension really spiking. And I would say some time this afternoon, for about half an hour, there was continuous gunfire.
Our colleague Najibullah Quraishi (ph), she was actually out on the streets, saw this big crowd of people running away from Taliban fighters. Essentially they had been participating in a parade. Today is Afghan's independence day, and some very brave young Afghan patriots went out on to the streets waving Afghan flags carrying one enormous 200-yard Afghan flag.
And even though the Taliban has said, you can fly whatever flag you want, you can participate in whatever religious festival you want -- they're trying to showcase this new, modern, more relaxed, if you will, approach -- the protesters found themselves face-to-face with Taliban fighters who were firing shots into the air, trying to clear them, causing panic, store shops -- store owners then closing down their stores for the day.
And this also happening the day after a similar scene took place in Jalalabad when a bunch of protesters took down the Taliban flag and put up the Afghan flag. So, a lot of people are now afraid that it hasn't taken that long for the Taliban to start showing its true colors if that's indeed what's happening, Jake.
TAPPER: And on that note, the Taliban has been making this very strong propaganda effort trying to present the group as less brutal than when they ruled in the past.
President Biden among others is not buying it. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you believe the Taliban have changed?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. I think -- let me put it this way -- I think they're going through a sort of existential crisis about, do they want to be recognized by the international community as being a legitimate government. I'm not sure they do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: From what you're seeing on the ground, what do you make of it?
WARD: Well, it's interesting. I actually had this conversation with a Taliban commander the other day, who I must say was exceptionally articulate, spoke perfect English, had studied law and political science, and he was very adamant the Taliban does want to have international relations, it does want to be recognized, in part because the Taliban knows from its past and being an international pariah that the purse strings only really open if you can be accepted and have a relationship with the international community.
But as with so many things we're hearing from the Taliban, it's one thing to say it. It's another thing to actually behave in a way that leads to that.
TAPPER: And, Clarissa, you also spoke with a senior Afghan officer who said he used to be able to easily reach American generals and officers on the ground there, and now no one's taking his all there.
WARD: Yeah, he's actually one of the senior officers in President Ashraf Ghani's security detail. He was with Ghani the night he fled the country. He told him, I'm just getting into the helicopter to do a press conference, and I'll be right back.
He has been completely devastated by this, feels betrayed and abandoned, is in fear for his life and says he's been furiously texting all the generals who he used to have lunch with on a regular basis when they were here and with Ghani, et cetera.
Take a listen to what he said about his attempts now to reach out to General Miller and others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENIOR AFGHAN OFFICER: Now I'm calling on Miller and the generals I was in touch with. I can give all their names. They're on my phone. Unfortunately, since this happened they don't respond to me emails. I'm asking the American forces for help, because I was very close to them and they shouldn't leave us like this, and also they should help my colleagues.
WARD: What is next for you?
SENIOR AFGHAN OFFICER: It's a very uncertain situation, and every second I see myself closer to death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: and there you have it, Jake. I mean, this is from -- I can't tell you how many messages I get like this from people. Desperate pleas from those who worked in lock step with the Americans for two decades.
The other thing that officer said to me that really stuck with me, he said, I started working with the Americans before I had a beard, and now I have a white beard. Just to give you the sense of that passage of time and the amount of stress and shared work together. And this really deep sense, as you heard right there, of betrayal, of being cast aside. Suddenly nobody wants to answer his calls.
TAPPER: Clarissa Ward, live in Kabul. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado, who's a former Army Ranger. He served in the Iraq and Afghanistan.
Congressman, as someone who served in that country, what's your reaction when you see the horror and chaos continuing to unfold at the Kabul airport?
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Hi, Jake.
Yeah, my heart continues to break. I'm still in shock that we're at this point in these scenes that I'm seeing and hearing about are unfolding and hearing that story about that general.
My phone is ringing constantly. I'm getting text messages, emails constantly with stories like this. You know, I'm getting passport photos email to me of young children and visa photos, people begging for help. This is not the sign of a situation that's going well.
Our honor as a country, our integrity as a country is as stake, our reputation is at stake, but our moral authority is at stake here. We have made promises for over 20 years to these men and women, these partners that stood by us.
I may not be here talking to you today had it not been for the service of some of these Afghan friends and partners, and there are thousands of Americans that are in the same situation that I am in. We have the opportunity over the next couple days and weeks to do the right thing, and that's why I'm calling on the administration to take the very clear steps to do so.
TAPPER: Well, when you say the right thing, tell me what you mean. Because, obviously, the Afghan translators and interpreters and others who applied for those special immigrant visas, those SIVs, them and their family, it's about 19,000, plus thousands more and their families. That's one group.
I don't know that this general, whose identity was obviously protected, is one of them. Does the U.S. owe that individual a trip to the United States? What exactly are you calling for?
CROW: Yes, we do owe somebody like that a trip to the United States and safe harbor after proper vetting, but the first step is getting them out of Afghanistan. None of this matters, none of the discussion about whether somebody close in, under a priority 1 visa, priority 2 visa, special immigrant visa -- none of that matters if they're dead.
So, let's get these folks to a military installation overseas, a third country, and figure out the bureaucracy nightmare that continues to bog this down and streamline that process.
But we have to get folks out. You know, the administration is saying that they expect to ramp this up to 6,000 people a day. At the same time, there is this potential deadline at the end of the month, less than two weeks from now, that we're looking at pulling out.
I'm no math genius, but those numbers don't add up. We have 20,000 special visa applicants alone. You multiply that by a factor of three for their family members, and that's 80,000 people right there. Another 5,000 to 10,000 American citizens, that's not even counting the priority 1 and priority 2 visa holders like this general and commandos, civic society leaders, nonprofit leaders and others that we have to get out.
There's well over 100,000 people we need to make every effort to get out, because that's our obligation, that's I think as our moral authority as a nation. We have to get it done and we can get it done.
CROW: That's the other thing. We have the ability to do this. We have to make the commitment. TAPPER: And we should point out to viewers that you were supportive of
President Biden's decision to withdraw all U.S. service members from Afghanistan. And President Biden defended that decision in a new interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't think this exit could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?
BIDEN: No, I don't think (AUDIO GAP) that -- we're going to go back in hindsight and look, but the idea that somehow there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you agree with that?
CROW: I think there's a distinction to be made about the decision to withdraw. I think you're right. I've been supportive of the ending of our combat mission in Afghanistan. After 20 years, it's proven there was no solution here. I continue do agree with that.
But I do not think the noncombatant or the civilian evacuation has gone well and according to plan. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly that plan was.
And that's why, Jake, I have been calling since April to start this evacuation. As soon as the president said he was going to withdraw American combat forces, I knew we could be in this situation, that we might be facing this challenge right now.
That's why I said, let's start the evacuation. Let's get American citizens out, let's get our partners out. We could be so much further ahead in a different position now had we started back in April when me and my colleagues started to call for this. We were beating the drums, talking to anybody who would listen to us, to say, let's get it done.
Unfortunately that did not happen. Now we're in a position of trying to get 100,000 plus folks out under difficult circumstances with limited options. That's why we need to put combat power in, secure the airport, open the streets around the airport to make every effort we can make to get people to the airport and get them out.
TAPPER: Yeah, the evacuation would have been a lot easier before the Taliban took over the entire country.
Democratic Congressman Jason Crow, thank you as always for your time and, of course, thank you for your service.
Online sleuths bringing insurrectionists to justice. What a group of sedition hunters found hours before the court hearing (AUDIO GAP), next. That's ahead.
Plus, Dr. Anthony Fauci joining us live with Americans anxious as more COVID cases rise, more shots go into arms. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, day by day, hour by hour, that's how the Pentagon describes the U.S. rescue operation in Afghanistan. American forces have now flown 7,000 evacuees from the airport in Kabul since the Taliban's takeover this past Saturday, we're told. But the Pentagon could not answer how many Americans are still trying and waiting to leave.
Make no mistake: officials are terrified of the long list of things that could go wrong, over which they have no control, such as a terrorist attack.
CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us at the State Department. Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon.
Kylie, the State Department is telling U.S. embassy staff in Kabul to just go to the airport, but even that is far easier said than done. What are you hearing?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, State Department surging resources to the airport right now. They saying when that surge is done they'll have a higher capacity to get the personnel who make it into the airport out of the country on these military flights.
But as you said, getting to the airport is the problem. I talked to one Afghan who worked with the embassy for years. He went to the airport with his family. He faced a horde of people. He faced an unsafe situation and had to leave.
So, the problem is, what are they doing for those people? The answer as of now is nothing. State Department told me they don't have resources to be going outside of the airport right now.
But fundamentally, what this boils down to, Jake, is a policy decision. They see what is happening, but they also see most of the Americans are getting to the airport and decided they don't want to do anything about the situation on the outskirts of the airport, so that is an area to watch. Are they going to change that policy, or are they going to to keep it in place? No indications right now of any change.
TAPPER: And, Oren, the Pentagon says it can evacuate roughly 9,000 passengers a day from the Kabul airport. Right now, they're nowhere near that level. Will the Taliban allow this evacuation effort to go past the August 31st deadline?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we just learned a short time from a marine general that they're processing twice as many people as yesterday at the evacuation control point. So, the number is moving in that right direction, but it's certainly still very far away from being able to go through 5,000 to 9,000 people a day to get them on those flights.
As for the Taliban, to some extent, this whole process relied on coordination with the Taliban. President Biden yesterday opening the door to the possibility of staying after 31st with constant and daily communication with the Taliban on the ground in Kabul. It's worth noting just moments before Biden's comments, neither the secretary of defense nor the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made any mention of August 31st or the end of the month in their press briefing.
TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, Kylie Atwood at the State Department, thanks to both of you.
Breaking news in our national lead -- a surrender and an arrest after an hours-long standoff across from the U.S. capitol. A man claimed to have a bomb and he posted videos calling himself a patriot when he arrived at the Capitol. Police identify him as 49-year-old Floyd Ray Roseberry. In the Facebook videos he posted for hours, Roseberry repeatedly called for President Joe Biden to step down.
He expressed frustration about the current situation in Afghanistan. He also frequently made pro-Trump posts on his social media. Police closed off streets and evacuated buildings in the area of the Capitol, and library of congress. We're still waiting for more information about this incident. We will bring that to you when we get it.
More third doses, but what about the first doses? We'll talk to Dr. Anthony Fauci about the new vaccination booster push.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: We have some breaking news for you in our health lead. A third U.S. senator announced just moments ago he tested positive for coronavirus. Democratic Senator John Hickenlooper of Colorado has joined with independent Senator Angus King of Maine and Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi who both also tested positive today. We are told all three are fully vaccinated and all three say they are experiencing mild symptoms and isolating. Obviously we wish them all well.
Major questions about boosters remain after the Biden administration announced beginning next month adults will be eligible for boosters eight months after they circumstantial evidence their second dose of the vaccine.
In just a moment, Dr. Anthony Fauci is going to join (AUDIO GAP)
But first, the debate over masks in schools is escalating. And as CNN's Athena Jones reports, some states are now requiring that all staff be vaccinated and one school district will even require vaccines for all students who are eligible. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As COVID cases and hospitalizations rise across the country, pressure to introduce more vaccine and mask mandates is mounting.
More than 91,000 people now hospitalized nationwide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I watched a 28-year-old previously healthy unvaccinated patient die from COVID complications. And while we value every life, that's -- that one was tough, because it could have been prevented.
JONES: Hospitalization rates for children and adults under 50 setting new records. The biggest jump in adults ages 30 to 39 and children under 18, climbing more (AUDIO GAP) than their previous peak in early January according to the CDC.
In the two least vaccinated states in the country, Alabama and Mississippi, where just 36 percent are fully vaccinated, hospitals are strained. Hospitalizations in Mississippi setting a pandemic record, as the state reports the highest seven-day average of new COVID cases per capita in the country.
The surge in cases leading Washington Governor Jay Inslee to issue one of the strictest vaccine mandates yet, requiring all teachers and staff in public and private schools to be vaccinated.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: (AUDIO GAP) that's point where testing is enough to keep people safe.
JONES: near Los Angeles, Culver City will now require all students 12 and older to get vaccinated by mid November. Teachers and staff must also get the shots.
But battles over masking requirements in schools continue, with kids stuck in the middle.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I mean, the masks are, like, uncomfortable, but it's for safety.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: If I wear my mask, that means I get to see my friends I'll just wear a mask.
JONES: In Florida, some 4,600 students and 1,500 employees across the 15 largest school districts have tested positive (AUDIO GAP) another 19,000 students and staff have been quarantined or isolated. (AUDIO GAP) school boards voted (AUDIO GAP) three additional counties. Miami- Dade and Palm Beach and in Hillsborough, where quarantining students is becoming a new focus of outrage.
Some parents are arguing it should be up to them whether they keep their child home from school after a COVID exposure. The governor agrees. GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: I think quarantining healthy kids
deprives these kids of the ability to get an education. Now maybe a parent would want a healthy kid to be quarantined if there's an exposure, but I think that should be the choice of the parent.
JONES: It's an approach that flies in the face of public health guidance.
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We have a moral obligation to follow the science and keep our children safe.
JONES (on camera): And now, Oregon state health authority will require all K-12 teachers, educators, staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated by October 18 or six weeks after full FDA approval. Governor Kate Brown saying children need to be in the classrooms five days a week and in order to do that, masks need to be worn and adults around those children need to be vaccinated -- Jake.
TAPPER: Athena Jones, thanks so much.
Let's bring in the chief medical adviser to President Biden, and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Fauci, good to see you.
So this new booster guidance is quite different from what top health officials were saying even just a few days ago. Listen to you talking about boosters last month and then --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The CDC and FDA said that based on (AUDIO GAP) the decision is we don't need to do it right now. It's not imminent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So that was August 12th. You said it wasn't imminent. Do you understand why some Americans are confused, why the president has said that there is now this booster push? I mean, the World Health Organization says that the data is not there.
FAUCI: Yeah. Well, the data are there, Jake, and what has really changed has changed relatively recently. The data that came out from the cohorts that the CDC have been following of tens and tens of thousand of people in different cohorts throughout the country, together with some information that we very recently got from Israel which I'll mention in a moment.
So the situation is that when I made that statement it was absolutely true based on the data we've seen that people who are vaccinated, who are fully vaccinated had very, very low likelihood that they would be hospitalized and get severe disease. The breakthrough infections that we were seeing, which are natural
when you don't have a 100 percent effective vaccine, were in people, and the disease was mostly mild or asymptomatic, and what was holding strong was the fact that you were having protection from severe disease.
But what the CDC data that literally came out a few days before we made the announcement, we're getting it from the cohorts that they were following, that something different was going on, and that is the protection against infection and mild to moderate disease was beginning to attenuate in multiple cohorts of individuals, attenuate that it was dropping.
What was holding tight was against severe disease, but when you looked at the data in Israel, which is generally about a month or two ahead of us, in the only was the protection against infection going down, but they were starting to see that the protection in certain people like individuals in nursing homes for severe disease was going down.
So we made a decision that even though right now we're still holding strong, we want to stay ahead of things, we don't want to wait until, all of a sudden, a lot of people are getting hospitalized and a lot of people are dying.
We want to be ahead of it, and we want to be prepared for it to keep the durability of the protection up. That's a very important distinction. It's understandable how people might be confused, but it's kind of like I use the analogy -- you want to skate where the puck is going to be, not where the puck is right now.
FAUCI: And we want to have protection for what will happen a few months from now.
TAPPER: So is the World Health Organization wrong when they say there isn't enough data to support boosters? Because obviously, they are looking at information from more than just the United States, or are they more guided by the idea that they want to get everybody in the world, and there are a lot of countries that lag way behind the United States and the West, they want to get everybody vaccinated at least one shot or two shots before people like you and me get three shots?
FAUCI: You know, I think it's more the latter, Jake, and with all due respect to my very close colleagues in the W.H.O., and I understand where they are coming from. But we in the United States believe, first of all, data are in our favor. If you look at the data that came out today and yesterday from Israel, it's showing that the boosters is having a very favorable effect. So the data are there.
But what I believe they are saying is something that is quite reasonable.
They are concerned and I am, too, that most of the world in the lower and middle income countries don't have vaccinations that are anywhere near the level it should be. Sometimes a couple of percent, but in the United States we feel we can do both. You can protect our citizens maximally and you can make a major contribution to getting vaccines to the rest of the world.
And as a matter of fact, Jake, we are doing that. We can do more and we will do more. But as you know, we've done more about doses to other countries, particularly low and middle than the rest of the world combined.
FAUCI: We have half a billion doses that are going out at 200 million at the end of this year and 300 million in the beginning of next year. We've already given over 115 million dozes to 60 countries and $4 billion.
We do believe there is an issue. We want to get doses to the rest of the world, but we can do both things. We can protect our citizens and play the major role in getting vaccines to the rest of the world.
TAPPER: Let's talk about kids and schools. For children under 12, Surgeon General Murthy says they're going to prove -- the FDA is going to move fast to approve the vaccines when they approve the data. When should we expect a vaccine announcement about children under 12?
FAUCI: You know, Jake, I have to be honest with you, I don't know and I just can't get ahead of the FDA. I don't know where they are in their evaluation. There's a safety thing that they pay very close attention to.
We look -- we've done trials together with the companies and independently of doing dose escalation studies for children, namely going from 11 to 9, 9 to 6, 6 to 2 and so on. So far, it looks like there's no eminent really big safety signal that we've seen, and it looks like we're inducing a good response.
But the final decision, Jake, is a regulatory decision with the FDA. I hope that that will be soon, but I can't guarantee it because they are an independent agency which is a good thing that they are independent. They look at the data.
TAPPER: Right now, some states, Washington, Oregon and some school districts are mandating that teachers and faculty be vaccinated in order to protect kids and each other, but it seems to be in the minority for anybody listening right now, any school districts or any teachers.
Do you think if you're talking about protecting kids, the smart decision would be for school districts and states to mandate vaccines for all those who are eligible for teachers, faculty and staff at schools?
FAUCI: I feel strongly that way, Jake. I really do. I mean, we want to protect our children. We want to keep them in school, physically in the classroom. We've spoken often on the show of the deleterious effects of keeping kids out of school physically. Mental health issues, social developmental issues.
But if you're going to do that, you've got to create a safe environment, and there are a few ways of doing that. One of the most important ways is to surround the children with people who are vaccinated if they are eligible to be vaccinated, and that means teachers and personnel in the school. We've got to maintain the safety of the children at the same time we provide them with an education in a way that does not hinder them in the way virtual learning does.
TAPPER: An important lesson for anybody in a school board or a teachers union or any school administrator to hear.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
New York City is planning a celebration of the city's comeback in the wake of COVID, and can you watch exclusively on CNN. "We Love New York City: The Homecoming Concert" airs Saturday starting at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.
Coming up, the fight to punish January 6 insurrectionists and how online groups are working with law enforcement to help bring about justice.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In hour national lead, a charged insurrectionist's sentencing was just pushed back after online sedition hunters, volunteer sleuths who help law enforcement track down suspects from the Capitol attack, unearthed this video apparently showing Robert Reeder beating up a police officer.
As CNN's Jessica Schneider now reports for us, this discovery forced prosecutors to rethink their charges against him just hours before the judge's decision.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This video was a last-minute find by a group of amateur online detectives known as "Sedition Hunters". On Wednesday, the same day the sentencing was scheduled for accused Capitol rioter Robert Reeder, the Sedition Hunters Twitter page blasted out the video spotlighting Reeder allegedly punching a police officer.
The discovery had serious consequences because prosecutors had not accused Reeder of violence on January 6th and his sentencing was only for the misdemeanor of unlawfully demonstrating inside the Capitol.
Sedition Hunters sent out this message online: We're extremely good at what we do. Our small group has spent thousands of hours on research, yet only four hours before a court hearing for a plea deal for Robert Reeder do we find the assault. This truly is a massive undertaking. Did we make it in time? #wehope.
It was indeed in the nick of time. Prosecutors notified the judge and Reeder's defense attorneys about the new footage Wednesday morning and the judge delayed reader's sentencing until October 8th.
Federal Judge Thomas Hogan said he was concerned about the video since Reeder was previously portrayed, quote, more as an observer than as participant. Reeder's attorney admitted the clip was problematic at first glance but argued there could be other footage uncovered to help his defense.
The quick response to last-minute discovery of images showing a suspected assault clearly shows the dedication by all involved.
JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, THE CITIZEN LAB: It can be easily tens of hundreds of hours of time just following a bobbing head in a crowd trying to put it together.
SCHNEIDER: John Scott-Railton did his own scouring of images online of the so-called "zip tie guy" who was identified as Eric Munchel on January 6. He says the public quickly followed his efforts and wanted to take part.
SCOTT RAILTON: What's so inspiring about watching the sedition hunters community go it's about publicly holding people accountable and ensuring that the public understands what happened on that day, even as Republicans and others continue to try to rewrite history.
SCHNEIDER: And prosecutors have cited the work of these online sleuths in several court files and, of course, Jake the FBI has credited the public in this. They received more than 200,000 digital tips from the public and, of course, at this point more than 500 people have been charged.
There's actually 575 by our latest count, but as you saw in that piece the public is doing a lot to help prosecutors out in these cases.
TAPPER: And the key is, of course, they are sharing these tips privately so in case they made a mistake, nobody innocent gets tagged.
Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.
More than 2,000 people dead after two disasters in Haiti. CNN went to the earthquake epicenter where locals are taking action because the government has not shown up to help.
Stay with us.
[16:51:29] TAPPER: In our world lead today, desperation in Haiti in the wake of the double disaster of an earthquake followed by a tropical storm. The epicenter of Saturday's magnitude 7.23 quake on Haiti's southern peninsula. Tropical Storm Grace passed nearby early this week dumping nearly a foot of rain.
CNN's Matt Rivers went to that area and discovered help is not on the way.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Driving into rural Haiti is not easy. Miles and miles of tough on paved roads.
But it's at the end of those roads where some of the worst damage from this earthquake lies. This is Karai (ph), a fishing town of 30,000, where hundreds of structures have been destroyed. Kilim Rashard (ph) lost everything when the ground shook.
I lost my business and my home, she says. I have six kids to send to school, and I don't know what I'm going to do.
Hers was just the first home we saw. Up the street, we couldn't drive past this home because, like so many others here, what remains could collapse at any moment.
So these guys behind me aren't professionals. They're just locals with hammer, wood, and nails, trying to figure out a safe way to bring that severely damaged building behind me down to the ground. They told us, in the nearly 5 days since this earthquake happened, they still have not had one representative from the central government show up.
It's a tough place to get to, but as some pointed out to us, we managed to do it. So why hasn't the government?
Anger, a persistent sentiment for many. This man's family was injured when their home collapsed.
Do you think that the government can come here and help you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so. I don't think so. I don't think so.
RIVERS: So you're not waiting for them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no.
RIVERS: And are you frustrated with that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, very frustrated. I'm very frustrated. I'm very frustrated.
RIVERS: No matter the reason, the reality persists: people in need are growing increasingly desperate.
I need help, she says, and no one is helping me. So far, I think it's only God who I think will help me right now.
The place where she might pray for that, the church in the town center, also destroyed.
Thankfully, fewer people died during this earthquake, compared to previous similar quakes. Imagine, as one person told us, if it had happened on a Sunday morning when church was full.
RIVERS (on camera): And, Jake, we reached out to the central government asking have you sent representatives to this area. If not, why -- how are you going to make things better for the people there? We have not yet received a response.
TAPPER: CNN's Matt Rivers in Haiti, thank you so much.
A dozen people are reportedly dead in Afghanistan. President Biden defiant about the chaotic exit from the country. That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, out-of-control passengers -- from cocaine to assault to the number of incident on American flights taking off and the FAA wants people to pay up.
Plus, we'll talk to the first female air force pilot in the history of Afghanistan who later sought asylum in the U.S. What does she make of the rapid collapse of the Afghan military? Ahead.
And leading this hour, President Biden defiant as he faces the biggest foreign policy challenge of his presidency so far, and his administration's competence is questioned. "Reuters" reports that at least 12 people have been killed in and around the Kabul airport. The president insists there was always going to be chaos and that the U.S. is now relying on the Taliban to help get Americans and Afghan allies out. Yet, President Biden also acknowledges he does not believe the Taliban has changed.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports from the White House where the president is getting outside pressure to do more than is now being done to help U.S. allies still in Afghanistan.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the White House today, President Biden and his advisers scrambling to bring order to the chaotic evacuation of tens of thousands of Americans and Afghan allies from Taliban-controlled Kabul.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out and everyone that should come out, and that's the objective.