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The Lead with Jake Tapper
End of America's Longest War; Several Hundred American Still Stranded In Afghanistan; Damage Left By Hurricane Ida In Houma, Louisiana; Pentagon: Last U.S. Military Planes Have Left Afghanistan; CDC Advisers Meet As Hospitalizations Skyrocket; U.S. Averages 1,290 COVID-19 Deaths A Day; Pfizer: Data From Trial Of Booster Shots Available Late Sept-Oct; Jan .6 Select Committee To Seek Phone Records From Trump, Members Of Congress. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired August 30, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And Kaitlan, four presidents, 20 years, both Obama and Trump promised to end this war and now President Biden has done it. It may not have been a pretty exit, but it is a very significant moment for the United States.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is, Jake, and I do think it's significant that, of course, this is driven by a decision that President Biden made, but he did not announce this. It was Central Command, of course, that made this announcement that one minute before the deadline before the clock in Kabul struck midnight for August 31st was the last time that C-17, a military plane, took off from Kabul and headed back home.
And he is confirming there that not a single U.S. service member is left in Afghanistan. However, he did note the heartbreak of this evacuation saying they did not get everyone out of Afghanistan, out of Kabul that they wanted to evacuate. But General McKenzie saying there he did not think if they had 10 more days to continue evacuations that they still would have been able to get everyone they wanted to get out of Afghanistan.
Still, he did note the big numbers, the thousands of people that they were able to get out. He said about 6,000 Americans were part of this evacuation that of course involved tens of thousands of third-country nationals and Afghan allies, of course other endangered Afghans as part of this massive evacuation effort.
And Jake, one notable thing that he did say there is there are still Americans left in Afghanistan who wanted to get out. He said he believes it's in a very low hundreds. But he said on those last five military flights that happened before that midnight deadline that they did not have any Americans on those flights.
He said they were not able to get to the airport, they were not able to accommodate them on those flights. So, of course, that's another notable moment as well as he is saying this is shifting from a Pentagon mission to a State Department effort. And the State Department is still going to work with those people who are still in Afghanistan and want to leave.
I imagine those are the next steps that we are going to hear from Secretary Blinken in just a few moments from now. One other thing I want to note, Jake, before we do go to Secretary Blinken, though, is talking about this equipment on the ground and he said the efforts that they had to demilitarize it and essentially make it useless.
A lot of those Humvees, a lot of aircraft, things that were left on the ground, they said they left because they figured it was more important to ensure the safety of the troops than to make sure that equipment was either destroyed or got out of there.
But he did say a lot of that is going to be inoperable like those Humvees won't drive again, those planes won't fly again. So, notable moments of what's left behind, of course, in the bigger picture of this moment that the U.S. presence from Afghanistan is gone.
TAPPER: You know, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on "State of the Union" yesterday that August 31st, which it is now, that's now the date in Afghanistan, that's not a cliff. There still will be efforts to get people, especially American citizens, out of Afghanistan.
And, in fact, General McKenzie just said that one of the biggest tasks for the Taliban right now is to gain control of the airport so that commercial flights in and out of that country can resume.
Kaitlan, it is fascinating to me that this momentous decision was given to General McKenzie to make and not President Biden because, ultimately, this was a decision made by President Biden. Tell us about that decision.
COLLINS: Well, it's not clear why it wasn't President Biden who announced that the last flight had left, the last service member was gone out of Afghanistan. Because remember it was the president who back in April after he had made his decision after what he got was what aides later described as not a sugar coated review of what the options were when it came to the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
It was President Biden who announced it here from the White House that that was the method they were going to be pursuing and that was the decision he had made. But he left it up to one of his top military commanders to announce this, who of course, has been overseeing this entire evacuation mission over the last several days, some of which have been incredibly chaotic and deadly.
And it was General McKenzie who talked the day that those 13 U.S. service members were killed and took questions from reporters, and he noted that there. He said that is something that he is going to carry with him for the rest of his life and other military commanders will carry that with them as well.
And Jake, I just also think some of the reporters in the room were getting at this, but just to look at what the last few moments looked like and how he was saying they did not hand things over to the Taliban, but they did inform the Taliban when they were leaving and that they were leaving, which is notable given now it is up to them to deal with that air space, to deal with that airport, to deal with securing Kabul, of course, the city that they took over in surprising fashion that stunned so many of the officials in this administration with how quickly it happened.
And so, that's a big question, too, as this is now a State Department effort, and we'll hear from Secretary Blinken what their plan is going forward for those Americans that are still there, those Afghan allies that are still there.
But also what does Afghanistan look like going forward and who does control the airport ultimately and how does this work with the Taliban? Are they ever internationally recognized as a legitimate form of government? Those are big questions that still remain going forward from the U.S. presence there.
TAPPER: Kaitlan, stick around. I want to bring in CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon. Alex Marquardt also with us from the State Department. And, Barbara, it was very interesting when General McKenzie said that they did not get every American out, but he also thought even if they had 10 extra days, he didn't think they would be able to get out everyone they wanted to get out.
It has been an incredibly complicated logistically and also very dangerous process. We've all been hearing behind the scenes about buses full of people trying to flee Afghanistan, not able to get through the gate because of the terrorist threat.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I think that's right. And I think, going back to your previous point, some of this may be the reason you saw General McKenzie be the one to make the announcement.
Make no mistake, President Biden now has a four-star general in the Marine Corps, senior commander putting his stamp on this withdrawal today, the completion of the U.S. effort -- military effort in Afghanistan.
The terror threat from ISIS-K has certainly complicated it in recent days. McKenzie took -- I thought it was interesting. He took pains to say that they had come to a pragmatic relationship with the Taliban. And he pointed out that the Taliban had been helpful. But lots of reports that people could not get through those initial Taliban checkpoints surrounding the airport or were too terrified to even make their way there.
So that is a big part of the problem. And that now is going to be something that I think the U.S. is going to press the Taliban to rectify their own position because McKenzie went on to say one of the big problems for the Taliban right now, they're going to have to deal with ISIS-K. It's going to be their problem.
They have to secure Kabul, secure the airport, and there are now estimated, according to the general, about 2,000 ISIS-K operatives out there, many of them released during the prison releases by the Taliban in the early days of this takeover.
So, McKenzie is very much making the public point. This is now in the Taliban's lap. They are going to have to maintain security. They are going to have to deal with ISIS, and that the U.S. shifting to the diplomatic front with the State Department is going to press the Taliban to live up to that promise that Americans, anybody who wants to leave, Afghans at risk, will be able to travel out of the country.
TAPPER: And if you're just joining us, we are in a moment of history. It is August 30th here in the United States of America, but it is August 31st in Kabul, Afghanistan. And General Ken McKenzie, the commander of Central Command has announced the end of U.S. operations, the end of any U.S. service member presence in Afghanistan. In effect, the war in Afghanistan is over.
It is a historic moment. It has been an ugly exit. The argument from President Biden has been that it was going to be exit -- an ugly exit no matter what. Be that as it may, it has not been an exit that every American in Afghanistan has been able to leave.
Alex Marquardt at the State Department, we've heard from the administration that they think there are a little bit more than 200 American citizens who want to leave who have not been able to get out. There are some Americans who have family there and who have chosen to stay. Of those 200, 250 American citizens who want to leave, what can you tell us about them?
ALEZ MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The way they're describing it, Jake, is fewer than 250. And it was so remarkable to hear General McKenzie there saying that we didn't get everybody out who we wanted to get out. They said that -- he said that they maintained the capability of getting Americans out up until the very last moment, but that there were no Americans on those last five planes that flew out at 3:29 eastern time, so just before midnight on August 30th in Afghanistan.
Now, I think at one point that is important to make, Jake, is that you may have American citizens, you may have green card holders, you may have SIV visa holders who technically can get out of the country, but so many of those people don't want to leave loved ones behind or don't want to leave people that they have worked with behind.
I spoke with someone earlier who said that they were an American citizen who did not want to leave by herself. She had a group of people who she said worked with Americans who also wanted to get out.
And it's remarkable that McKenzie there said that these Americans, fewer than 250 as the Biden administration has said now repeatedly, were not able to get to the airport. So that begs the question how are they going to be able to get out now with no American presence on the ground?
McKenzie making clear in his comments that the next step is what he called the diplomatic sequel, that this is moving from the military to the diplomatic realm, landing, if you will, to borrow Barbara's wording, in the State Department's lap. So we are hoping to get some kind of explanation from Secretary of State Blinken in the coming moments as to how he expects Americans, Afghans who have supported Americans, and other Afghans at risk to get out of the country now.
We don't even know who controls the airport. Is it going to be the Taliban by itself? Is it going to be Taliban in conjunction with other countries like Qatar and Turkey? Could it be a private company? Are they going to be expecting people to cross at land borders into other countries? We simply do not know.
We do expect Secretary Blinken to lay out his vision for how the American diplomatic effort is going to continue, not a presence, because there won't be any American diplomats there. The last American diplomat, the most senior, Charge d'Affaires, was on that last plane out.
So, they -- a senior State Department Official told us earlier that they have come up with an option for how they intend to maintain that diplomatic effort, but that there are so many questions that remain, so many answers that we hope to get from the secretary when he speaks in what should be just a few minutes' time, Jake.
TAPPER: Alex, Barbara, Kaitlan, stay with me. I want to bring back Juliette Kayyem and retired Major General Spider Marks. General Marks, first, this moment in history, the war in Afghanistan is over, 2,461 U.S. service members, thousands more American contractors, more than 20,000 American service members injured, including of course in the casualty toll, the 13 U.S. service members killed last week and the 20 wounded. What's going through your mind right now, general?
SPIDER MARKS, RETIRED U.S. ARMY: Jake, thanks for the question. This is, as General McKenzie indicated, the time to begin reflection and to begin the real tough work of doing after-action review to determine what did we not see, where did we fail in our efforts, what did we miss in terms of our assessment of this Afghan military with whom we had been embedded and had equipped and trained for the past two decades.
Did we not see that there was incredible fractures throughout the entire organization of the Afghan military and law enforcement and all the security forces? Was it really a misreading of the culture? Did we not have the right filter on in terms of understanding this? We certainly had history in front of us. The Brits couldn't do it in the 19th century. The Soviets couldn't do it in the 20th century. And with a little bit of hubris, we thought we'd get it done in the 21st century and found out we could not.
So, we need to be able to come back and get back to the notion of how can we as an American military, along with incredible diplomatic efforts, be able to reach across the horizon and better figure out who our friends and partners are and to convince folks that they can move to our side of the national security perspective so that we can get a better understanding. We can't go at it alone. We certainly cannot go at it alone. TAPPER: Juliette Kayyem, you used to work for the high-ranking official at the Department of Homeland Security. Let me ask you a broad question. Twenty years later, thousands of lives, $2 trillion, is the United States, are the American people safer now than we were on September 10th, 2001?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I can say affirmatively yes. I mean, I think there's just no question about that. We're not safe, we've never been safe. I think some of the mythology about 9/11 is the belief that, you know, it was unicorns and roses before that, but 9/11 showed a vulnerability.
It's not just simply our homeland security defenses and that we're better at that. Of course, it is just -- as General Marks was saying, just our capabilities to stop counterterrorism. But it's not risk- free. We have not eliminated the risk. We delude ourselves. If reporter analyst talk about it that way, there's no risk elimination in a world like ours, but we can continue to reduce the risk.
And I think -- I think there's a lot of emotion for a lot of us right now because when you think about when the Afghanistan war started, and righteous may not be the right word, but I think that there was sort of a singular focus about what our mission was in terms of counterterrorism, the world I came from and what had happened on 9/11.
That mission changed and we also started another war. And you -- we're going back to that mission, as General McKenzie made clear at the end of his presser, we will continue that mission, we must. That is a good mission for the United States. But a lot was lost in 20 years. But we're a stronger nation in terms of our defenses, our capabilities are different.
And the Taliban is different. I mean, we don't know what they're like, but it's a different world, but I'm going to quote McKenzie who said he was conflicted about leaving Afghanistan. I think he was speaking on behalf of much of this nation.
TAPPER: Yes. The Taliban is different, we hope. We hope the Taliban is different.
TAPPER: I'm not so certain. Everyone stick around. We are waiting to hear from the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken after this historic moment, this historic withdrawal of U.S. from Afghanistan. Stay with CNN.
Plus, of course some other crises still going on in this country. Families are trapped in attics in scenes reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina after levees failed. CNN is live on the scene on the Louisiana coast as volunteers look for survivors after Hurricane Ida. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:20:00]
TAPPER: Welcome back. We are waiting to hear from the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken for more on the end of the war in Afghanistan, America's longest war. Stick with us for that. We'll bring it to you live.
But in the meantime, lots of other stories in our "National Lead." Ida is now a tropical depression, weakening after having made landfall yesterday in Louisiana as a category 4 hurricane. At least one person has been killed, as CNN's Jason Carroll reports. The governor in Louisiana is warning that the death toll almost certainly will not stay there.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Throughout much of downtown Houma, Louisiana, one can see the damage from Hurricane Ida in nearly every direction. This was once the childhood home of Harrison Short. His great grandmother lived here. Now it's all gone.
HARRISON SHORT, HOUMA RESIDENT: My whole childhood is gone now. All of our home is this left from one (inaudible).
CAROLL (voice-over): Across the street, the barbershop destroyed, the home next door is still standing, barely. Lionel Hawkin says part of the roof is damaged, his carport gone. He waited out the storm with his wife at their home, and at one moment he says the wind was so bad they thought they would not survive.
UNKNOWN: It was scary, though, you know. And I -- and me and my lady prayed and went down, gone on our knees, asked the lord to take care of this peril (ph) and protect us. You know what I mean? Give us another -- give us this opportunity to breathe.
CARROLL (on camera): You got down on your knees and prayed?
UNKNOWN: Yes, sir.
CARROLL (on camera): Lionel, what do you think next time a Category 4 comes through here, will you evacuate?
UNKNOWN: I'm getting out of here.
CARROLL (voice-over): Winds topping more than 100 miles per hour swirled around Houma for hours as Ida crawled across the southwestern section of the state. Portions of the Houma-Terrebonne Airport destroyed. Countless numbers of homes damaged under Ida's crushing wind gust. Tim (inaudible) came out and found someone else's roof had landed on his car crushing it. Thankfully it missed most of his home.
UNKNOWN: I heard a big thump on top of my house and (inaudible) me.
CARROLL (on camera): Well, we're trying to figure out whose roof --
UNKNOWN: Whose roof it is?
CARROLL (on camera): I mean, it could be from this building over here or that one over there.
UNKNOWN: It could. We have a bank. We live across on the bank (inaudible). I mean, a restaurant is in the backyard. So we're not sure where, you know, where the roof came from.
CARROLL (on camera): So, Jake, some out here in Houma were luckier than others. Some came home and found out that they had just lost their roof or part of their home. Others came home to a scene like this. The man who lives in this house --
-- in this house, at one point, yelling out for help. He survived the storm. He, like so many other people here, now figuring out what to do next. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll in Houma, Louisiana. Thank you so much. Joining us on the phone right now is Timothy Soignet. He is the sheriff of Terrabonne Parish. Sheriff, have you been able to reach every part of your parish to assess the damage?
TIMOTHY SOIGNET, SHERIFF, TERRABONNE, LOUISIANA (via telephone): We're still working to get through and get clear. We're pretty much covering (ph) the north end and south end of the parish and we're clearing roadways to get out there so we can continue to (inaudible).
TAPPER: Sheriff Soignet, you're breaking up a little bit. What more do you need from the state government or from the federal government?
SOIGNET: Well (inaudible) sheriff task force and they've been very helpful in getting us what we need so we can continue serving our people in Terrabonne. So, we're doing pretty well with our task force as we continue to move forward to these areas to take care of the people of Terrabonne.
TAPPER: Residents of your parish still don't know when they can return to their homes. When do you expect that to happen? When will roadways --
SOIGNET: You know, I'll make a pretty simple statement. We have no (inaudible). The natural gas (inaudible) are down. There's not a lot of fuel and there's no running water and there's no electricity. And there's flooding (inaudible) here for (inaudible) get back. This roads (inaudible).
TAPPER: All right, Sheriff Soignet, the phone lines are, in addition to all the other challenges in Louisiana, the cell phone service is pretty horrific.
We hope to make a connection with you that would be better and so that our viewers can hear it.
Any moment we're expecting to hear from the Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the end of America's longest war. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: Breaking news, America's longest war has officially come to an end. Just moments ago with the announcement from the Pentagon that all U.S. troops have left Afghanistan. Veteran and Republican congressman of Illinois, Adam Kinzinger, joins us now.
Congressman, I know that you are critical of the way that Biden, President Biden has conducted this exit. And I know that you disagree with the idea to withdraw all U.S. forces. But just as a moment in history as a moment of this war is over, are you feeling -- what are you feeling?
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Well, it's certainly a significant moment. I think we all expected we would be out in an additional 24 hours because August 31st deadline, I think, we all assumed it was 11:59 .p.m. on the 31st. And so it's surprising, but it's also -- you know, at the one hand, it's great relief that we got those thousands of military members out without further incident besides, you know, the one tragic bombing, because that's really difficult to do.
On the other hand, it's kind of like a mix of sadness, because I have the sense of, you know, a number of Americans, a number of allies that we've left behind. I know that the Taliban's kind of good front they've put up is going to disappear soon. And so it's kind of a mixed feeling. I hope I'm wrong. And I hope, you know, maybe we have this magical relationship and the Taliban decides they want to liberalize and give women rights and not have retribution against people that fought against them. I really hope so, but I, unfortunately, don't foresee that happening.
TAPPER: You just tweeted about General McKenzie's announcement, you wrote, "Watching a four star general call the Taliban pragmatic and businesslike isn't something I ever expected to see. Not too businesslike to beat women and children.". You know, obviously, General McKenzie was talking about how they dealt with them in the matter of this exit. I don't think he was praising them as Jeffersonian Democrats, but do you think, as a general rule that you as officials have been naive about the Taliban during this withdrawal process, or do you think that they've just been, you know, playing the hand they've been dealt?
KINZINGER: Well, I think it's that. I think you're playing the hand you're dealt. I mean, look, they -- here's the reality. You have, on the one hand, these, I guess, pragmatic negotiations with the Taliban when it comes to airport security. On the other hand, behind that, you have Afghan sibs, American green card holders getting beaten as they went through checkpoints. I think that's an important point to make. And I think when all the troops are out of there, I don't think we have to basically go kind of above and beyond. And I don't blame the General for saying that really, I don't think he was trying to be, you know, particularly nice to them. But to me, it's surprising that we were ever in a position where, you know, we have that relationship with the Taliban. And I think the important point here isn't that we can't look and say maybe there was a pragmatic relationship for that little moment. But that we don't now go from here with this naive belief that somehow the Taliban is going to be our bulwark against ISIS-K or against al-Qaeda.
I would encourage people to really study the relationship and the interplay between those ideologies before we start somehow thinking that the Taliban is going to be the new protecting savior of Afghanistan because it's just not.
TAPPER: General McKenzie said that there could be still up to 250 American citizens who want to leave Afghanistan still stuck there. Obviously, we know also, there are thousands of legal permanent residents of the U.S. who wanted to leave, who couldn't, the Afghan allies with special immigrant visa, applicant numbers, who wanted to leave who were not able.
General McKenzie also said that he thought that they could have extended the date 10 more days, and still they wouldn't have been able to withdraw everybody they wanted to. What was your reaction to that?
KINZINGER: I mean, again, it's -- I, you know, looking at -- and I think it's important now to kind of look back and say, where did things go wrong? Because we're out. And this is now essential that we do this.
You know, I think part of it is the second we surge troops into Kabul. First up, our Bulwark, our -- like our base of operations was an urban airport with one runway in the middle of the largest city in Afghanistan, OK? So tactically, that is a huge problem.
Secondarily, when we landed with 5,000 troops or 2,000, initially, and then we spun it up, we should have pushed those troops outwards to go save Americans at that point, and we hit a defensive position, the perimeter. Look, I'm not the tactical guy to sit back here and second guess all of that, but what I do know is that we ended up in a situation where we were relying on former special operators. You know, people that had relationships with these Afghan SIVs, we talked about this, you know, Pineapple Express, but Pineapple Express is one of many of these kind of unofficial networks, getting people to the fence.
I mean, there's going to be heroic stories written. But there is no doubt that that position we found ourselves in is not one that any military planner would ever have authored if we could have done it like basically our own way.
TAPPER: I know that you've been working hard behind the scenes to try to get American citizens, legal permanent residents and SIV holders out and I know that not everybody, especially with the SIVs have been able to get out. What do you tell them? What's next for them?
KINZINGER: Well, I think look, it's don't lose hope. Again, you know, I don't have any vested interest in them, but operation recovery, we're going to give them money. I raised a lot of money for a country first, and we're going to give them some of that. They're going to continue with the mission of getting people out, in some cases, through overland to border exits, maybe, you know, maybe it's Pakistan, Tajikistan, et cetera.
This isn't over, but it gets far more dangerous when you start having to evacuate people overland. I hope the story is told of these people, though, you know, that had this great relationship with some of these Afghan translators that just put together these informal networks. You know, Lieutenant Colonel Mann retired, for instance -- we've learned about this whole Pineapple Express, save the people they needed to save, and then expanded that to save hundreds and hundreds more.
It's an amazing story. And I think there's going to be heroic books and movies written about it, just to show what -- you know, the goodness of America and the goodness of who we are as a people.
TAPPER: Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thank you so much. It's good to see you as always.
Coming up, we're going to hear from the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken for more on the end of America's longest war. Plus, more clarity on booster shots and when you could need one could be coming today. We'll talk about that next.
TAPPER: We are still standing by for the live remarks from Secretary of State Antony Blinken following the Pentagon's announcement that the last U.S. military planes and last U.S. servicemembers have left Afghanistan marking the end 20 years later for presidents to trillion dollars, thousands of lives, the end of America's longest war.
Let us turn out to another story while we wait for Secretary Blinken. In our health lead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Vaccine Advisory Board has been meeting today. As CNN's Athena Jones reports for us now, that meeting comes as coronavirus hospitalizations here in the United States are still skyrocketing.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surged to levels not seen since January, averaging more than 155,000 a day, a grim new prediction. The country could see 100,000 more COVID deaths by December, according to a University of Washington model.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What is going on now is both entirely predictable, but entirely preventable.
JONES (voice-over): The alarming forecast driven by the 80 million people eligible for a vaccine who haven't gotten one, Mississippi and Florida leading the nation in new cases per capita.
FAUCI: We could turn this around and we could do it efficiently. And quickly, if we just get those people vaccinated. This is very, very important not only for your own health, but for the health of the country.
JONES (voice-over): COVID deaths continue to rise.
At nearly 1,300 a day, the seven-day average of COVID deaths has jumped nearly 30 particularly over last week. And with nearly 100,000 people hospitalized nationwide with COVID and about 30 percent of intensive care unit beds occupied by COVID patients, another problem emerging, not enough oxygen to treat them.
DR. AHMED ELHADDAD, FLORIDA ICU DOCTOR: We're seeing the younger patients, 30, 40, 50-year-old and they're suffering, you know, they're hungry for oxygen and they're dying.
JONES (voice-over): Several hospitals in South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana and Florida at risk of having to use their reserve supplies or running out of oxygen.
Meanwhile, the Central Florida medical coalition bought 14 portable morgues to help with the unprecedented number of COVID deaths in the region. As strained funeral homes delay retrieving the dead.
MAYOR JERRY DEMINGS, ORANG COUNTRY, FLORIDA: Some of them are reaching a point in terms of their storage before they can cremate bodies, they're at on near some capacity.
JONES (voice-over): And as more and more children head back to school --
Dr. ESTHER CHOO, PROF. OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, OREGON HEALTH AND SCIENCE UNIVERSITY: There's no question that we're headed into a really tough time for young people.
JONES (voice-over): With thousands of students already quarantined due to COVID cases, experts say vaccine mandates for in-person instruction should be on the table for eligible children.
FAUCI: We've done this for decades and decades requiring polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis. So this would not be something new, requiring vaccinations for children to come to school.
JONES (voice-over): For kids aged five to 11, Pfizer expects to submit data to the FDA in September and apply for Emergency Use Authorization in October.
TAPPER: All right, thanks to Athena Jones for that report. Let's bring in Dr. Peter Hotez, he is the co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children's Hospital as well as dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Hotez, good to see as always. So the CDC advisory board as expected, voted to recommend the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older, what kind of difference will that make?
DR. PETER HOTEZ, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT AT TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Well, I think first of all, it's long awaited and we want to remind the American people that the Emergency Use Authorization process was sound. And because we require their cooperation, and this is a great validation for the work of the center -- of both the Centers for Disease Control and especially the FDA that they got it right to the emergency use process.
I think, you know, a lot of people are hoping now that it's fully approved, it's going to flip a lot of vaccine hesitant people to now getting their first shot because they were waiting on this. I don't know how much of that is really the case. I think there's a pretty big group that's deeply dug in ideologically against it. Maybe it'll flip some people but it's certainly a positive development.
TAPPER: So President Biden is talking about people getting their booster shots eight months after their second shot of the mRNA vaccines. Do you think eight months should be a hard and fast marker? What about people planning to travel six months after their second shot today? Is that not good enough reason to get a booster, that third shot?
HOTEZ: Well, I think we have to look at the data showing when immunity actually wanes. And we actually haven't seen certainly very little published data. It's mostly information on the Israel Ministry of Health website, a little bit of data coming from the Mayo Clinic and other sources. So we haven't really had the chance to review the full data to say when that set point is to give the third immunization.
And I think the other thing that we need to do, Jake, is reframe this a little bit. We keep on talking about as a booster. Whereas, I've thought all along, this is a three-dose vaccine. And it was a three- dose vaccine because the way we had to give those first two immunizations, bang, bang, right in a row, just three to four weeks apart. Because we were in crisis, we were losing 3,000 American lives a day, we had to get everybody fully vaccinated.
But when you do that kind of schedule, it almost guarantees that you will have waning immunity at some point. That's so -- and that's the reason why it became a three-dose vaccine. The other piece, though, is we haven't seen whether we're really seeing breakthrough hospitalizations, yet we are seeing a lot of breakthrough infections. Efficacy is declining from over 90 percent of 40 percent to 50 percent, but that's for infections.
Do we need to see that decline in hospitalizations as well or because of the long haul COVID that we're now seeing, even among our breakthrough vaccinated cases that we want to boost on that point. So the ACIP, which met today, only set aside a small amount of time for this -- for these questions. Pfizer just recently applied for it. So I think this will come up at the next ACIP meeting.
TAPPER: So Pfizer today indicated that it will submit vaccine data for children ages five to 11 in September, which is just next month, and possibly apply for Emergency Use Authorization for that vaccine for kids in October. That means, theoretically, assuming that they get what they want, young children won't be getting shots until very late this year. What should parents do until that?
HOTEZ: Well, I think the most important is to make certain that everyone in the household who is eligible to get vaccinated get fully vaccinated, because we know a lot of young kids are getting sick from their parents or from unvaccinated adults in the house. And I also think it's going to be really important that your -- when your child attends school, that everybody in that school is masked and everybody who's eligible gets vaccinated, and that's kind of what's happening in the Northeastern part of the country.
But down here, Jake, where I am, we've got still, you know, 25 percent of the teenagers vaccinated. So the vast majority of teenagers are not vaccinated, even some of the teachers. So really trying to build in as much as we can, enforcing the importance of having everybody in the school vaccinated is going to be critical.
TAPPER: Dr. Peter Hotez, thanks so much as always.
Coming up, he was almost an investigator on the January 6th committee, now he could be a witness. That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back. We are still waiting for an update from the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He will speak any minute now about the end of America's longest war in Afghanistan.
Until then, let us take a look at our politics lead. The House Select Committee investigating the deadly January 6th riot at the Capitol, is set to request phone records from a number of members of Congress, from former President Trump and from members of the Trump family. The records request is the first step in the committee's investigatory process and could signal the direction that the committee plans to go when it calls witnesses.
CNN's Manu Raju joins us now from Capitol Hill. And Manu, it's interesting one of the members of Congress that the Select Committee is seeking phone records from had been nominated to be on the committee by Republican Leader McCarthy.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim Jordan of Ohio. He is one who has spoken to Donald Trump in the run up to January 6, spoke with Donald Trump on January 6, and was viewed by the Democrats as a material witness of what happened on that day in January 6. And he is one of the Republicans who could be targeted by this investigation, at least the conversations that he had with Donald Trump providing potential and any information he had about what Donald Trump's mindset was at the time.
Now what we are learning just moments ago, the Select Committee announced that it plans to a -- has asked 35 companies, telecom companies mainly to preserve records of -- in certain individuals of communications that they had from the middle of 2020 through the end of January 2021. Now they don't listen to the individuals whom they are asking to preserve records for. But we have learned from our sources that they could include Republican Members of Congress, some of whom participated in that so-called Stop the Steal rally that occurred in the -- on the day of the insurrection here in the Capitol.
People like Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama, others, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Congresswoman, people who -- or some of Donald Trump's staunchest allies here could be the subject of this investigation, going forward at least those conversations that they had with Donald Trump and any of his allies on that day.
Now, at the same time, the former president himself could also be targeted here as well, Jake. We are learning that the committee is interested in hearing from former proceeding what records are involved the former president as well as his daughter Ivanka, his son, Donald Trump, Jr., as well as Eric Trump and his daughter-in-law, Laura Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle who is Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend and also a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.
So, Jake, this investigation has been happening behind the scenes. These letters are coming out just now. But as you can see, all the groundwork being laid here for an extensive investigation that can run up into the midterms next year. Jake?
TAPPER: Manu, what will -- well -- OK, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Manu Raju, thank you so much.
Coming up, we're waiting to hear from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken for more on the end of America's longest war. Stay with us.