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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden: Any American Who Wants To Come Home, "We Will Get You Home"; Interview With Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA); One-Million-Plus Vaccines Administered Yesterday In The U.S.; NC Man Charged With Threatening To Use Weapon Of Mass Destruction; Report: FBI Warning Tech Firms About Russian & Chinese Efforts To Intimidate Employees Into Spying For Them; Hurricane Warnings Issued For Long Island To Southern New England. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired August 20, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The White House now has hindsight, and the Taliban now has night vision.

THE LEAD starts right now.

President Biden attempting to shift the narrative again, ensuring Americans that he will mobilize every resource necessary in Afghanistan as the Taliban start showing off its newly claimed U.S. weapons.

And Americans and Afghan allies remain stuck outside the Kabul airport.

One million shots in a day, a recent high and an encouraging sign. Yet hospitals in the U.S. and their beds are filling up.

Plus, the new spy games. A warning from the FBI about where China and Russia are looking to recruit new spies in the United States.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with our world lead. President Biden addressing the crisis in Afghanistan this afternoon admitting that he does not know how many Americans are left in the country or where they are located, but pledging to use every available resource to get not only U.S. citizens but Afghan allies out of Afghanistan in what would be one of the biggest airlifts in world history.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home. I cannot promise what the final outcome will be or what it will be -- or that it will be without risk of loss. But as commander in chief, I can assure you I will mobilize every resource necessary.


TAPPER: It is, of course, an incredibly complicated operation. The Pentagon says that evacuation flights have now resumed in Kabul after being paused for around eight hours today. That's because the Biden administration was scrambling to try to find other countries willing to accept Afghan evacuees after backlogs at processing sites in Qatar.

Outside the Kabul airport, CNN crews report some Afghans have been waiting literally for days to get through the gates with mothers and children particularly struggling in the 95-degree heat and in the crush of the crowd the desperation apparent.

In this heartbreaking video, a crowd of Afghans lifting a baby over the airport perimeter to U.S. marines. The U.S. confirmed this afternoon that the baby was taken to a medical treatment facility inside the airport compound and later reunited with its father. A source telling me at least seven small children have had medical emergencies outside the airport in the last few days.

And despite President Biden's claim that no Americans are having issues that he knows of getting into the Kabul, a separate story about another baby right now, one veteran I know has been trying to get help for an incredibly sick little girl who is an American citizen. She is stuck outside the airport with her mother.

This information was shared with top U.S. government officials and then with troops on the ground. But because of the mass chaos outside the airport gates, the troops were not able to find this mother and baby. As far as I know right now, that American child is still stuck outside the airport, still described as deathly ill.

Now, free of the politics of all this, what Trump did, what Ghani did, what Biden did, what they didn't do, how this was done, putting that all aside, this is a baby. This is an American citizen, and she is President Biden's responsibility, period.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins starts our coverage today from the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden making a promise amid the chaos in Kabul.

BIDEN: We're going to do everything -- everything that we can --

COLLINS: As his defense secretary, vice president, secretary of state and national security adviser stood behind him, the president vowed to bring all Americans in Afghanistan home.

BIDEN: Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home.

COLLINS: But Biden conceding he doesn't know if everyone will ultimately be brought to safety.

BIDEN: I cannot promise what the final outcome will be or that it will be without risk of loss. But as commander in chief, I can assure you that I will mobilize every resource necessary.

COLLINS: The president also acknowledging that the U.S. still doesn't know how many Americans are left in Afghanistan.

BIDEN: We want to get a strong number as to exactly how many people are there, how many American citizens and where they are.

COLLINS: Flights in Kabul were paused for at least eight hours as the U.S. scrambled to find refuge for Afghans as other locations surged to capacity.

BIDEN: We paused flights in Kabul a few hours this morning to make sure we could process the arriving evacuees at the transit points.

COLLINS: Today, Biden claimed no Americans have had trouble reaching the gates of the crowded Kabul airport.

BIDEN: We know of no circumstance where American citizens are carrying an American passport are trying to get through to the airport.

COLLINS: That account contradicting reports on the ground from CNN's own team.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Anyone who says that any American can get in here is -- yeah, I mean, technically it's possible.


But it's extremely difficult, and it is dangerous.

COLLINS: Biden's latest remarks followed days of defensiveness over the botched drawdown.

BIDEN: There will be plenty of time to criticize and second-guess when this operation is over. But now, now, I'm focused on getting this job done.

COLLINS: While making clear Americans are his first priority, the president vowed to help Afghans who are now targets of the Taliban for working alongside U.S. troops.

BIDEN: There's no important thing that bringing out American citizens out, I acknowledge that. But they're equally important almost as all those SIVs, we call them, who in fact helped us.


COLLINS (on camera): Now, since Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was standing behind president Biden as he gave those remarks, he has since held a briefing with lawmakers on the phone. And according to multiple sources telling CNN, Defense Secretary Austin told lawmakers that Americans have been beaten by the Taliban in Kabul on their way to the airport.

He said that these reports are, quote, unacceptable is what Austin told these lawmakers and he said generally they do not believe the Taliban is preventing Americans from seeking access to the airport, but this is the top brass at the Pentagon saying that, yes, Americans have been beaten on their way to the airport to try to get out of Afghanistan.

TAPPER: Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

Joining me now to discuss, Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. He's a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He served four tours in Iraq.

Congressman, you were just on this briefing about the situation in Iraq where Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said multiple Americans have been beaten by the Taliban in Kabul. What else did you learn?

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Well, we learned that a tremendous amount of the success of this operation is in the hands of the Taliban right now. That we're counting on the Taliban to allow us to get people safely to the airport, and we're counting on the Taliban to allow us to continue this operation and not massacre people long enough for it to be complete. That we're counting on the Taliban not to attack our forces on the ground. It's extraordinary that we've put ourselves in this position.

We also learned that the administration has made changes to make the process go more quickly, including relaxing some of the screening requirements happening at Kabul.

But, Jake, in my opinion, this is all happening way too late. Myself and others have called on the administration to start this evacuation months ago.

TAPPER: Right.

MOULTON: And the fact that we're figuring it out on the fly right now is totally unacceptable.

TAPPER: Congressman, President Biden said something that's just empirically not true. He said that Americans are not having difficulty getting to the airport. Now, does he know it's not true, or are people not sharing this information with him?

MOULTON: Well, of course, I don't know. I'm not in the Oval Office. But all you need to do is look on TV and see the videos floating around the Internet of people trying to get to the gate and being crushed on the way there.

I spent all night communicating with Afghans, with Afghan-Americans, with people on the ground trying to get to the airport gate and unable to do so. It doesn't matter if you're an Afghan, an American citizen or anyone else, you simply can't get through the crowd right now to get access to freedom.

TAPPER: And what do they need? I understand the problem of Americans and Afghan allies who are in Kandahar or can't get to Kabul because the Taliban is taking control of the country. They have checkpoints on the roads. But once people are in Kabul and once people have gotten through that first perimeter and they're outside the airport wall, whether we're talking about Afghan allies who have the right paperwork or American citizens, in some cases, they're standing there in this crowd, they're looking at service members, they're yelling.

What's the problem? Why can't they get in? Are U.S. service members being given rules of engagement that preclude them from being able to help these allies or American citizens?

MOULTON: We simply can't get people through the gate quickly enough. We don't have enough State Department employees on the ground. The State Department announced that they have 20 consular officers in Kabul and they're waiting for 40. Forty people to handle tens of thousands of evacuees? It's completely unacceptable.

All the marines I've talked to on the ground say that they need more troops. So, when the president and the secretary of defense claim that they are giving every resource necessary and available to this effort, that's just not true because you have marine commanders on the ground saying they're stretched thin, they need more troops. If they had more troops they'd be able to process more people getting in through the gates and that's the solution to this present problem.

TAPPER: Look, I get that this is an incredibly dangerous and difficult situation, and I can't even imagine the blowback were President Biden to surge troops to tell them to go out into Kabul, to go out into the rest of the country to rescue people, and then all of a sudden, there was a terrorist attack or the Taliban started firing and we lost American service members.


I understand that that's the equation. But is that what is holding up the situation, that fear, understandable, that concern, understandable, that doing anything more than what they're doing right now would subject U.S. service members to danger?

MOULTON: It must be. But, Jake, I don't think you've got the equation quite right. Because the reality is that as we don't -- while we don't do those operations, while we don't surge more troops into Kabul to make sure we can get more people out, that means people are going to die.

So, this is the challenge with U.S. military operations. And I face this challenge on the ground as a marine commander myself. There were a lot of times where I didn't want to do a mission because I was worried about the welfare of my troops. But I knew that if we didn't attempt the mission, more people would die.

Well, listen, right now, people are headed to their deaths at the hands of the Taliban because we're not getting people out quickly enough. So we need to do what it takes. We need to make sure we understand that we want to minimize risk to the U.S. troops. But if we're not using U.S. troops, if we're not getting the troops there that we need, there will definitely be people who die as a result. TAPPER: And just to reiterate because so many times Biden defenders

try to say that anybody that is being critical of this evacuation wants troops in Afghanistan forever, wants a forever war. You're in favor of the withdrawal of U.S. service members, you're just being critical of how this evacuation's being done?

MOULTON: I mean, look, there's no one who wants to bring the troops home more than those of us who have had to go over and fight in these forever wars.


MOULTON: I don't like having troops in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever forever. But I understand this is a nuanced calculation. And how we withdraw, the timeline for doing so not just over the course of weeks but potentially over the course of months and years, how we conduct that withdrawal, all this really matters.

And there's a second and third order of consequences here too. I've heard from veterans all across the country who are just distraught at what they see going on, seeing their friends the people they put their lives -- in whose hands they put their lives being potentially massacred in the coming days -- I mean, look, you're going to see a rise in veteran suicide as a result of the way that we handled this withdrawal. That costs American lives. That costs service member lives, too.

TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, thank you, sir, and as always, thank you for your service.

Thousands ready to go, so many more stranded as the Taliban are going door to door, what the Pentagon is saying about their chances of getting out, next.

And may be the best medicine was a dose of reality. The U.S. seeing a surge in COVID vaccine shots, thankfully, as intensive care units overflow.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world lead, sources tell CNN that with U.S. allies such as Qatar now claiming they cannot take in any more evacuees from Afghanistan, the U.S. is now scrambling to find new places to relocate these Afghans desperately trying to escape Taliban rule. That's, of course, having a domino effect because that slows down the caravan of U.S. flights waiting to leave Kabul because they need to find new places to fly to.

At one point, no U.S. plane took off for eight hours. And new video today shows the frantic scene outside the Kabul airport gates. Take a look.


TAPPER: This was about 12 hours ago. You can hear the scream when's some sort of riot control agent is being used on scores of Afghans trying to get through. Maybe get on to one of those flights.

CNN's Oren Liebermann just got an update from the Pentagon on the U.S. operation in Kabul.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Outside of Kabul international airport, chaos reigns. Bursts of heavy gunfire compound the fear and panic as Taliban use ride control agents on hundreds of Afghans waiting outside a closed U.S. military gate. So many desperate to flee what remains of the country they so recently knew.

A mother cradles her young child in the oppressive heat. A crowd hands a baby to U.S. marines who get the infant medical help. There is little relief at night.

More gunfire. Afghans forced away from the barrier that separates them from salvation.

Inside the guarded walls of the airport, the U.S. military showing a very different world. There is food, there is water, medical help but only for those who can get in.

Flights finally resuming after an hours-long pause as the U.S. scrambled to find more countries to accept evacuees. Qatar the first place to accept fleeing Afghans had reached its limit. And U.S. flights stopped leaving Kabul.

But there are still thousands of people at the airport waiting to get out.

PETER QUINN, FORMER ARMY MAJOR: They have received night letters through mass text messages from the Taliban, and the Taliban said we are going to summarily burn you and your families alive.

LIEBERMANN: Former Army Major Peter Quinn worked with Afghan commandoes and pilots during deployments to Afghanistan, the elite of the Afghan military. Now he's trying to get them out before they are hunted down.

QUINN: I love these men and I owe a debt of moral obligation to them to get them, their wives and their children out to safety.

LIEBERMANN: The Pentagon repeatedly says it is a planning organization but those plans have failed to keep up with the reality on the ground.

JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Though there have been sporadic reports of some Americans not being able to get through checkpoints, I fully admit that. By and large, what we've been seeing is that Americans are able to get through those checkpoints and able to get onto the airfield. LIEBERMANN: Since the U.S. sent more troops into Kabul to speed up the

evacuation, there have been no reported exchanges of fire between the Taliban and U.S. forces. But the Taliban has shown offer its new equipment courtesy of the U.S. government seized during the collapse of the Afghan military.


The U.S. has made its mission clear: get out as many people as possible as quickly as possible. But for everyone waiting outside the airport trying to board a flight, there are many more who couldn't get this far.


LIEBERMANN (on camera): Their mobility command says they're moving about 400 people on average on board those C-17s leaving Kabul international airport. That's more than double what it was just a few days ago. But, Jake, obviously that does you no good if the airport is shut down for eight hours a day or eight-hour periods as they are trying to find places to fly those C-17s full of Afghan evacuees and refugees.

TAPPER: And, Oren, President Biden said earlier that the U.S. military has helped get 169 Americans over a wall around Kabul airport perimeter. Today is the first time we've heard. What can you tell us about that?

LIEBERMANN: The first acknowledgment from the Biden administration that there has been any sort of physical interaction with U.S. troops with people beyond the wall. We tried to get more details on this, but the Pentagon simply didn't have them.

They said there were 169 Americans who were close, very close, they emphasized, to the wall, and there were some sort of communication between those Americans and the U.S. troops inside Kabul International airport and they were able to bring them over.

We also pressed them, does this mean you're moving over the wall to collect Americans beyond that into Kabul and other places? That was that there is planning for that, but there has been no demand for that sort of action.

TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thank you so much.

A vaccine milestone in the U.S. as the new debate emerges on how to best protect our children. That's next.



TAPPER: In our health lead today, more than 1 million vaccine doses were administered just yesterday in the United States. That's the first time since early July, but still, roughly 30 percent of eligible Americans have yet to get their first shot, as cases and hospitalizations continue to surge.

And as CNN's Miguel Marquez reports for us now, one state has even resorted into turning a library into an anti-body treatment center as hospitals there near full capacity.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 1 million vaccines reported by CDC went into arms Thursday, the most in weeks, but the delta variant hasn't slowed down yet.

DR. JENNA CARPENTER, PULMONARY CRITICAL CARE PHYSICIAN, MARSHALL MEDICAL CENTER SOUTH: At the bottom of my heart, we as the medical community are completely exhausted.

MARQUEZ: Nationwide, deaths up 62 percent. Most unvaccinated on a seven day average, 862 Americans now dying every day on average from COVID-19.

More than 93,000 Americans now in hospitals, numbers climbing towards January's record high. Cases 14 percent higher than last week's seven day average, more than 141,000 Americans testing positive on average every day. Just 30 days ago, the average was around 37,000.

MARY C. MAYHEW, PRESIDENT & CEO, FLORIDA HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: Not only are we seeing a significant number of COVID hospitalizations, but we have a much higher volume of critically ill non-COVID patients.

MARQUEZ: Florida intensive care units statewide nearing capacity, along with Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas. ICUs filling to concerning levels all at more than 90 percent capacity. Alabama is out of ICU beds statewide.

MAYHEW: We are seeing a much younger group of individuals who are hospitalized for COVID in our intensive care units on ventilators. These are healthy, young 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds who because of the aggressive nature of the delta variant are now being hospitalized. The Supreme Court ruling the governor cannot stop schools from imposing mask orders.

MARQUEZ: In Florida, in Texas, the battle over masks and schools continues. The Texas Supreme Court ruling the government cannot stop schools from imposing mask orders.

In Florida, the state ordered two counties to give an opt-out option for their school mask mandates or lose funding and face new scrutiny from the state.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: My view is that the parents understand what's best for their kids.

MARQUEZ: The governor instead pushing monoclonal antibody treatment clinics that are being set up across the state. One of those sites, this Jacksonville library, where LouiE Lopez snapped this disturbing picture. LOUIE LOPEZ, COVID-19 PATIENT: They were so sick, the picture really

doesn't do it justice because they were moaning, they were in a lot of pain. It really drove the point home as to how serious these people are.


MARQUEZ: And, look, we're starting to see these disturbing situations in many places. In Roseburg, Oregon, Mercy Hospital there reports that there was a person with COVID in their emergency department. They couldn't find an ICU bed in time to save that person's life, and they died amazing enough, shockingly they issued a statement. San Francisco is now mandating vaccines for anybody entering restaurants and bars and theaters and restaurant, and gyms.

All this backlash this pandemic is a long way from over -- Jake.

TAPPER: Miguel Marquez, thanks so much.

CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, joins me now.

Dr. Reiner, good to see you. Thanks for being here.

So, we hit 1 million daily doses yesterday. But about 30 percent of eligible Americans are still not vaccinated. Where do we need to be with vaccine numbers to slow the surge and prevent future mutations?


DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: We need to vaccinate basically everyone in this country. I think that's really the bottom line.

So, today was a nice benchmark. We just passed our 200th million person in the United States, which is great, except there are 330 million people in this country. So about 55 million, 60 million people are under the age of 12 and can't be vaccinated now, hopefully soon.

But for the other 80 million people or so, we need to get down to the grassroots level. We need to really get some of the hardest-hit states across the South, for instance, we're starting to see an uptake in vaccinations because people are now starting to see people that they know get sick and die.

TAPPER: So, CNN went to the Iowa state fair to speak to unvaccinated Americans about why they have not gotten the vaccine and if they could be convinced to get it. Take a listen.


DENNIS BELIEU, RELUCTANT TO GET VACCINATED: I'm not sure that I could be convinced, but I'm open to looking at scientific evidence, real scientific evidence, not just something which spoon-feeding everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Okay. No disrespect to that gentleman, but you and I know there is a boatload of legitimate scientific evidence that's been made public. It's out there for anybody who wants to see it. It's not just -- people aren't just trying to spoon-feed it. Do you think that in order for this country to get out of this pandemic, there need to be more requirements for people to get vaccinated? Would that help?

I know you told me that in Canada you have to be vaccinated to get on an airplane. Do we need to do that in the United States?

REINER: Absolutely. So if you look -- let's look at nursing homes, for instance. So, in the United States only about 60 percent of people who work in nursing homes, nursing homes house are our most vulnerable population. Only 60 percent of folks there have been vaccinated. So the federal government now is going to threaten those institutions with a loss of funding if they don't institute vaccine mandates.

The District of Columbia just this week issued a statement whereby the mayor said that everyone who works in healthcare, hospitals, dentist offices, doctor clinics, everyone who works in healthcare in the District of Columbia must be vaccinated by the end of September.

I think we need to see more of this. You know, we tried cajoling people. We tried carrots with lotteries. Now we need the stick.

TAPPER: So, you mentioned Mayor Bowser, a mayor here in Washington, D.C. She's imposing that mandate. But she hasn't imposed it for teachers. It's not a requirement for teachers even though 12 year old -- my son's 11.

REINER: Right.

TAPPER: He can't get a vaccine. So he goes too a school where they do have a vaccine mandate. But that's not the same for public school teachers. And you have all these kids who can't get vaccinated.

Does that need to be the norm? Washington state and Oregon announced that they're going to require all teachers and school staff to be fully vaccinated.

REINER: My mom taught first grade in New York City for 30 years. I was one of the first people earlier this year to try and get teachers prioritized, to get them ahead in the line, to really treat them like essential workers.


REINER: And now the reverse has to be true also. Teacher unions have to understand that if a teacher is in front of a bunch of unvaccinated kids or even partially vaccinated kids, they owe it to the children's safety to be vaccinated.

So I think if you want to teach in a classroom in the United States absolutely you should be vaccinated.

TAPPER: Culver City, California, they're taking the step further. They're saying not only teachers and faculty and staff but any eligible student needs to be vaccinated. Do you agree with that?

REINER: Every state in this country requires kids to be vaccinated. Let's look --

TAPPER: For other things, you're saying, yeah.

REINER: Right. You know, Florida, for instance, requires ten different vaccines before a child can enroll in school. This is a lethal disease. You know, in the last, you know, during this pandemic, 4.5 million kids have become infected. In the last two weeks during this delta surge, almost a four of a million of kids in the United States have become infected.

And delta is a much nastier virus for children. We're starting to learn that. Pediatric hospitals throughout the South are filled with kids. You can't find a bed in an intensive care unit for child in parts of the United States.

So if we're going to send kids into harm's way, shouldn't we protect them? They're our most treasured asset in this country and they are incredibly vulnerable.

TAPPER: So, just quickly, if you could, what do you think when you see governors like Abbott in Texas or DeSantis in Florida who are saying, um, to schools you do not have the right to impose a mask mandate? What's your reaction?

REINER: Look, I'm a doc so I deal with reality. They're living in this fantasy political world.


Look, all those same states have dress codes for kids. So, forget about masks as an intervention to prevent a virus. It's basically a dress code. And every one of those schools in Texas and in Florida have -- tell kids and tell parents what their children can and cannot wear. Why is a mask any different?

You know, their politics is basically placing their kids and their kids' families at risk.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Reiner, thank you so much. I appreciate your time today.

Tomorrow, New York City is holding a concert to celebrate that city's comeback from COVID. You can watch it exclusively on CNN. "We Love New York City: The Homecoming Concert". That airs tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

An FBI warning for some of America's biggest companies about whom their employees may really be working for. That's next.

Plus, the man who claimed to have a bomb outside the U.S. Capitol appears in court today. What we're learning about his motives, after this.



TAPPER: In our national lead, with so many lawmakers worried about terrorism in Afghanistan, this afternoon, a North Carolina man who said he was going to detonate a bomb near the U.S. Capitol yesterday was officially charged with threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Floyd Roseberry Thursday ranted on a Facebook livestream from his pickup truck parked right outside the library of Congress demanding that all Democrats step down. His social media was full of pro-Trump posts and videos from Trump's big lie themed "Million MAGA March" last November.

As police flooded the area, Roseberry repeated the big election lie. He railed about illegal immigration and healthcare, and he mentioned President Biden several times.




TAPPER: Five hours and several evacuated congressional buildings later, he thankfully gave up.

Let's bring in CNN's senior justice correspondent Evan Perez.

Evan, did he have anything, Mr. Roseberry, to say in court today?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: He did, Jake. He -- definitely a more pathetic figure in court today. He talked about missing his mind pills, and as a result of that the judge ordered that he be held pending a mental health evaluation. He's charged, as you mentioned, with threatening with a weapon of mass destruction, as well as a threat of explosives.

We learned today also from the FBI that apparently in the day before he showed up in front of the Library of Congress, officials in North Carolina received a call from a relative of his who said that he was talking about some of these anti-government views that he was talking about traveling to the Washington, D.C. area with the purpose of carrying out violence. This is a report that the local police apparently received, and they called the FBI as this was unfolding yesterday in front of the Library of Congress.

Obviously brings back a lot of memories for people on the hill for residents in that neighborhood of January 6th and some of the threats that people have been receiving since those events.

TAPPER: Yeah. I mean, this is the kind of far-right MAGA adjacent violence that the FBI and national security has been warning about. And speaking of which, while police were still assessing the scene, Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks who spoke the morning of January 6th, he posted a statement saying: Although this terrorist's motivation is not yet publicly known, and generally speaking, I understand citizenry anger directed at dictatorial socialism and its threat to liberty, freedom and the very fabric of society.

If a sitting member of Congress says he understands the frustration of terrorists, are law enforcement officials worried even more -- about more of this kind of, again, MAGA-adjacent terrorism?

PEREZ: Right, no, exactly. This is exactly what these officials have been warning about because since January 6th, Jake, we've seen, you know, online, again, stoked by not only mo brooks but people like Donald Trump still stoking this kind of anger. And, look, I mean, there's people like this gentleman who appears to not be completely well and others who might be prone to carry out some kind of act because of this constant stoking.

And, you know, there's an official who talked to our Geneva Sands this afternoon who said this incident reminds him exactly of what they've been talking about. He said thousands of people exactly like this gentleman are out there.

TAPPER: Yeah, can you imagine if it had been an Islamist terrorist and a member of Congress expressed sympathy with that terrorist's views?

PEREZ: Different reaction.

TAPPER: Unbelievable, I would say so. Evan Perez, thanks so much.

Turning to our tech lead, word of a stark FBI warning to Silicon Valley's tech firms. Watch out, they're saying, for Chinese, Russian, or other autocrats trying to intimidate your employees into becoming spies for them.

CNN technology reporter Brian Fung joins us.

Brian, what's the FBI telling you about this warning which is being reported by a new media company called Protocol?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Well, Jake, the FBI describes this as their top counterintelligence priority. The concern here is that Chinese nationals or other employees of tech companies in the bay area could traffic trade secrets back to China. Now, the FBI says their concern here is not with the Chinese people but rather the Chinese government, which is trying to compel people to spy on its behalf.


Let me read you a little bit of a statement that the FBI sent us earlier today. It said like we've said before, our adversaries' targets are our core economic assets, our information and ideas, our innovation, our research and development, our technology. No country poses a broader, more severe threat to those assets than China. Now, again, the people who are conducting this espionage may be

ordinary, regular people, not, you know, official trained spies working on behalf of the government. In fact, the U.S. government has prosecuted a number of people who worked for companies like Apple, for example, who ended up -- were accused of stealing secrets related to Apple's self-driving car technology or in car technology. The FBI is very focused on this potential threat even though many of the people who are engaging in this espionage are just ordinary people.

And the tactics the Chinese government uses here are very sophisticated. According to an expert on national security that I spoke to, he said the Chinese use all the traditional tools, sex, money, ego, and the most effective are to squeeze people by threatening family back in China or to offer people funding if they spy before they go back.

They're desperate for American technology. We haven't put enough effort into stopping them. This is a longstanding problem, and the FBI is really desperate to try to get its arms around it. And it's really warning companies out in Silicon Valley about this threat that they are targets -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Fung, thank you so much for that.

New England bracing for something they haven't seen in 30 years. That's next.



TAPPER: And we have some breaking news on our national lead. For the first time in 30 years, New England is facing a direct hit by a hurricane. Hurricane warnings now are posted from New York's Long Island to Southern New England as what is currently Tropical Storm Henri. It spins in the Atlantic, playing roulette with the northeast coast.

Let's go to CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray.

And, Jennifer, you've been watching for an update from the national hurricane center. What's the latest that you know?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right, Jake. The latest advisory, the 5:00 p.m. advisory just came out a few moments ago. And the update to that are the hurricane warnings that have been issued for portions of Long Island, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Also the track has shifted a little bit farther to the west. We'll show you that up next.

Right now, the winds are still at 70 miles per hour. This storm could strengthen into a hurricane some time tonight into tomorrow morning. This is the latest forecast track, and you can see it is going to race up to the north and then sort of bend back to the west.

Now, the cone has inched just a little bit farther to the west. You can see New York City just on that western side of the cone. But there's still a lot of uncertainty.

According to the National Hurricane Center, landfall could be anywhere from western Long Island, all the way to Cape Cod. And so, there is a lot of uncertainty still with this track. What we do know is that this could be a category 1 storm impacting portions of the New England, as well as the northeast as early as Sunday evening.

Now impacts from the storm could be felt in the Northeast and New England as early as tomorrow evening when you're talking about gusty winds. Also swells coming into the area. You can see the latest forecast tracks. A lot of the spaghetti models still not quite agreeing on where this is going to make landfall just as mentioned.

But this is a very saturated area. New England has gotten a lot of rain over the last weeks and months. And so any additional rainfall is going to lead to flooding and with a saturated ground like that the winds that we're going to get from this storm will easily be able to uproot some of the trees. So we'll see a lot of power outages across the region.

But we're talking about more than 74-mile-per-hour winds across coastal sections of Southern New England. We could see winds of 60, 65-mile-per-hour gusts even in Boston.

So, this is going to be a big story moving forward at the end of the weekend. Look at this. Two to four inches of rain could fall across portions of New England as well, Jake. So, I think the heavy rainfall as well as the wind will be the biggest threat. But we also have a storm surge three to five feet across portions of New England as the storm moves on shore.

TAPPER: All right. Jennifer Gray, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, a desperate, chaotic scene as Americans and Afghan allies try desperately to escape the Taliban.

We're live outside the Kabul airport, next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, more schools taking action to mandate vaccines for teachers and staff. Some districts even mandating it for eligible kids. Where do you draw the line? I'll talk to one state's governor ahead.

Plus, I'll take historic downfalls for 1,000. The nearly named host of "Jeopardy!" steps down after being caught having insulted women and Jews. And the search for Alex Trebek's successor starts again.

And leading this hour, the Taliban taking over, showing off the U.S. weapons they now control, as Americans and Afghan allies try to escape that country. Dramatic scenes are unfolding right now at the Kabul airport. A crush of desperate people, families, babies all trying to escape this afternoon.

President Biden trying to spin what we're seeing with our own eyes -- utter chaos. The president today vowing to mobilize every resource to get Americans home, though President Biden admitted that he still does not know how many Americans are left in Afghanistan or where they are.

The U.S. says the huge crowds in Kabul are due to claims of a capacity issue in Doha, Qatar, one of the few landing sites for flights out of Afghanistan.

CNN's Sam Kiley is in Doha with that side of this urgent rescue operation.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT ( voice-over): Desperate for a child's salvation, a baby handed to U.S. marines over razor wire at Kabul's airport.