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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Texas 6-Week Abortion Ban In Effect After Supreme Court Inaction; Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) Is Interviewed About U.S. Withdrawal In Afghanistan; Official: "Majority" Of Afghan Visa Applicants Left Behind. WAPO: GOP Rep. Mullin Tries & Fails Twice To Get Into Afghanistan; Nearly 50 Percent Of Gas Stations In New Orleans And Baton Rouge Almost Out Of Fuel; Food, Water, Gas Scarce; Moderna Submit Data Supporting Third Dose Of Its COVID Vaccine; 3 Officers, 2 Paramedics Face Criminal Charges In Elijah McClain's Death. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired September 01, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
And that's what we're closely monitoring.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Texas law took effect after both the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court stayed silent, refusing to step in to block the law.
The lack of action comes amid question about whether the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade, the seminal 1973 case that declared a constitutional right to abortion prior to viability, which is around 23 weeks. The High Court is scheduled to hear a case out of Mississippi in the coming weeks that bans abortion after 15 weeks.
STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That they let this go into effect tells us if nothing else that they are not nearly as bothered by the impact of the law on the ground here in Texas, as they have clearly been bothered by restrictions on religious services during the pandemic, by the eviction moratorium, that they just -- that they're not impelled to move quickly.
It doesn't mean that Roe is dead. But I think it does suggest that Roe is on life support.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SCHNEIDER: And the White House is issuing forceful condemnations of this Texas law. President Biden issued a statement saying extreme law blatantly violates the constitutional rights established under Roe v. Wade. Vice President Kamala Harris called it quote, an "all-out assault" on reproductive health.
Now, Jake, the Supreme Court could actually still act here to block this law. There's still an emergency petition that's pending. But you know, these abortion rights activists, they say that the damage has already been done, these abortion clinics have effectively shut down as of midnight, no plans to reopen. And then of course, there's that threat of private litigation if they were to perform these abortions.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.
Let's discuss this with former Texas Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis.
State Senator Davis, thanks for joining us.
In 2013, as our viewers might remember, you held an 11-hour filibuster, and an attempt to block a law that bans abortions in Texas after 20 weeks. This new law bans abortions as early as six weeks which obviously is before many women even know that they're pregnant. How did Texas get here?
WENDY DAVIS, (D) FORMER TEXAS STATE SENATOR: You know, it's been a year after year legislative session after legislative session creep to this very moment. In fact, that law in 2013, even though it ultimately passed, it had already closed over half of our abortion providers in Texas.
The Supreme Court overturned that law, but we've yet to reopen all of them. And so, it's already been the case that for many women here in our state access to abortion has been difficult, if not impossible, and a number of abortion providers, supporters have grown up around this issue to help women with costs, with travel costs. But now, of course, women are going to have to travel in most instances 20 times the distance, they would have had to travel to the furthest abortion clinic here in our state. And for the 7 million plus women of childbearing age in Texas, this has created an absolute obstacle for them.
TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that, because assuming this law stands, it is not difficult to imagine. And I'm not saying that this OK's the law. But it's not difficult to imagine that women who have means being able to either secretly get this procedure in Texas or to fly to Colorado or to California, whom do you see this law impacting the most on the ground in Texas?
DAVIS: That's such a tremendously important point to make, Jake. For women of privilege, abortion will still be available. It's simply a matter of getting in your car and driving far enough or getting on a plane or getting your private doctor to do it in a way that no one else is aware. So this is a law that's going to hit as is the case so many times women who are lower income, women of color, and it's going to further and deepen the systemic racism and the impacts of so many systems in our state.
TAPPER: What's unusual about this law beyond how extreme it is, a ban at six weeks, no exceptions for any reason, including rape or incest, is the fact that this law relies on private citizens, not law enforcement, not government officials to enforce the ban by filing civil litigation against anyone who aids in any way what is a medical procedure. Meaning that, let's say there's an anti-abortion activist or you heard in the previous segment, the guy from Texas Right to Life describing the person as an informant, an antiabortion activist, no connection to a woman or girl getting an abortion for whatever reason she deems it necessary. That person can sue the doctor, can sue the Uber driver who drove her to the clinic for administering the abortion. I'm not a lawyer, you are, will this hold up in court, isn't there a standing issue?
DAVIS: Well, that's for the court to ultimately decide. And I think right now, one of the reasons that we're seeing courts refrain from getting involved is because they're waiting for the ripeness, they're waiting for that first case to be brought. And for that, too, then impel an opportunity for them to create some kind of intervention against this law.
It was very cleverly designed to create this basically antiabortion citizen, bounty hunter who will look for any opportunity to sue one or more people who may be involved in the chain of helping a woman access abortion. And I can only hope that the Supreme Court's failure to get involved up to this point is because they're waiting for that first ripe case, for that first opportunity to find standing from a plaintiff or in this case, a defendant who's been sued by another private citizen for assisting a woman and exercising her constitutional right.
And the worst and scarier part of this, if there can be one, is that if this succeeds here in Texas, and at least at this point, we have great fear that it's going to, we are going to see laws like this replicated state after state after state after state. And regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court decides in that Mississippi case for women and states across this country, the right to abortion will cease to exist.
TAPPER: What's so unusual about this, beyond what you call the clever, I've heard other people describe it as diabolical, that the way that the law is written, and also the extremeness of it is the fact that even if one is going by public opinion polls, and obviously legislation shouldn't necessarily be done that way. But even if one is going by that -- those polls, polls indicate that there is public support for a woman's ability to get a safe and legal abortion.
Some polls indicate that there are people who favor restrictions on that, but the percentage of Americans who support a total and complete ban, no restrict -- no exemptions for rape or incest, no exemptions for, you know, a fetus that is in trouble and is not going to survive, et cetera, et cetera, it is very small. Are you surprised that this is the avenue that Texas talk instead of just along the lines of what we typically see when it comes to abortion opponents attempts to chip away at it?
DAVIS: What's tremendously tragic about what is happening in Texas is that Republican politicians are engaging in pushing and furthering an abortion ban because they know that it plays well for them to their primary base, and they've become so --
TAPPER: We lost State Senator Wendy Davis, but we thank her for coming on. And obviously a lot of weather problems in the southern United States right now.
President Biden trying to leave the criticism of his Afghanistan exit behind his 1000s of U.S. allies are hoping they will not ultimately be left behind forever. That's next.
And a congressman reportedly with a ton of cash threatening U.S. embassy staff. Why was the congressman trying to slip into Afghanistan? Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, the majority of Afghan allies who helped U.S. troops during the war and applied for Special Immigrant Visas or SIV's, majority of them were left behind in all likelihood during the U.S. withdrawal according to a senior State Department official who cited a number of challenges in getting those SIV applicants out including unpredictable Taliban checkpoints, massive crowds outside the Kabul airport and confusion about the necessary paperwork to board an evacuation flight. Top defense officials pledged once again today to help those SIV applicants get out of Afghanistan.
But as CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports for us now, the White House is looking to leave the criticism in the rearview mirror.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pleasure to welcome
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden welcoming the Ukrainian president to the White House today as the administration tries to turn the page from Afghanistan.
BIDEN: United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression.
ZELENY (voice-over): In the Oval Office by not taking any questions about the troop withdrawal.
BIDEN: Thank you all very much.
ZELENY (voice-over): Or the Americans left behind. Even after President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed concern for the 13 U.S. troops killed an extraordinary evacuation effort.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: Mr. President, accept my sincere condolences because of the tragic death of the heroes.
ZELENY (voice-over): For the first time in more than a week, no Afghanistan briefing in the Situation Room appeared on the President's schedule, as these new images of the final moments of America's longest war emerged.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. is still committed to getting the remaining 100 to 200 Americans out of Afghanistan, but it's unclear when or how such a diplomatic mission would take place.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are in touch with every American citizen we have contact with about our efforts and our commitment to get them out of the country.
ZELENY (voice-over): The White House made clear it is eager to focus on domestic priorities like the President's economic agenda, the stubborn fight with COVID-19 and a potential humanitarian crisis in the wake of Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, where Biden is now planning to visit on Friday. Yet myriad questions remain about the frantic, chaotic and deadly end to the war.
Congressman Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat who served as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, told CNN that he and other lawmakers intended to keep pressing for more answers.
REP. JASON CROW (D), COLORADO: I have an independent obligation to ask questions and to push people on behalf of my constituents and the American people not to be a rubber stamp of any administration, whether it's Republican or Democrat. And that's what I'm intending to do.
ZELENY (voice-over): At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin acknowledged those tensions.
LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: This will take time to -- for people to work their way through their varying opinions on each side of the aisle. And that's to be expected and respected.
ZELENY (voice-over): General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs told CNN's Barbara Starr that he and others have pain and anger from the last 20 days and 20 years. But he was proud of the troops.
GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: This is tough stuff. War is hard. It's vicious. It's brutal. It's unforgiving.
And yes, we all have pain and anger. And when we see what has unfolded over the last 20 years, and over the last 20 days, that creates pain and anger.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ZELENY: Now there is no doubt the White House is eager to move on even to the daunting challenges it's facing with the fight against COVID- 19. And of course in Louisiana is still developing potential humanitarian crisis there. Of course, the President, as we said, we'll be going there on Friday.
But Jake, it's also clear the White House knows it will not be able to move on. Well, those Americans are still in Afghanistan. And today very few answers about what diplomatically will be done to remove them. Jake.
TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny at the White House, thanks so much. Joining us now to discuss, Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst who served in Kuwait and Iraq and was the first, though not the last female combat veteran elected to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Senator Ernst, good to see you. Thanks for joining us.
So, I want to ask you, just I want to start off with the emotion of this moment because General Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he talked fairly candidly about the pain and anger he feels at the end of this war. He reflected on the more than 200 of his troops killed in battle. What are you feeling as we see the end of the war? We can talk about the evacuation and the exit and the SIVs in a second, but just the war is over, this has been a big part of your life.
SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Yes. Yes, Jake. And thank you so much.
And this is the way I've described it. It's surreal. It is gut wrenching. It is so disheartening.
And as I visit with other veterans, as I have talked to those Gold Star spouses, those Gold Star families, many feel that they have been left behind. They're not even part of a discussion anymore.
And what I have not heard from this President is a thank you to those veterans who have served in the Global War on Terror. Not once has he expressed empathy and gratitude to the men and women who have put the uniform on and have fought so bravely overseas the last 20 years to keep our homeland safe.
And I feel that by not acknowledging his gratitude for them is diminishing their service. And so, from the bottom of my heart, I am so grateful for all of those that have served in the Global War on Terror and have protected our nation because we haven't seen another 9/11 during the past 20 years.
TAPPER: I have heard President Biden express gratitude and praise veterans. It may be that he hasn't done it enough for people. And in fact, you know, we don't have a monument for the veterans and the KIA and the WIA from the Global War on Terror. And maybe we need to have that, maybe we need to have more of a national moment of recognition. But I -- this is a factual matter. I have heard him talk about this.
ERNST: I have heard him say, Jake, that he is grateful for those at the Kabul airport. I've heard him mention that many times in his press briefings and various speeches, but he hasn't acknowledged as far as I know. And you might be right, but I listened very carefully, he always acknowledges those that are doing service or have done service at the Kabul airport during the evacuation, but not over the greater Global War on Terror.
And in his speech the other day, he was very defensive and basically stated we should have been out of Afghanistan 10 years ago. And by saying that, what does that say to those veterans who have served in the last 10 years in Afghanistan, that their sacrifice wasn't worth it? I think it was. So, I do hope that President Biden stands up, stands forward and tells those veterans, thank you from the bottom of our heart.
And you're right about a memorial. Matter of fact, I was the lead sponsor of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation, it was established, we are working on that. We just have to find a place to locate memorial. And I'm really, really hopeful that it will be on our national mall (ph).
TAPPER: Yes. Let's talk about this new phase of the evacuation efforts, because obviously, people were left behind. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told me yesterday that the administration is working on two ways to get American citizens out of Afghanistan. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: One would be by air and we're working closely with other countries to get charter air flights going in the short term, second is by ground. And we're working with neighboring countries to be able to accept American citizens or legal permanent residents travelling by ground across borders to get them processed, and then get them safely out of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Are you confident, Senator, that the right plans are in place to get the remaining American citizens or legal permanent residents out of Afghanistan safely?
ERNST: I am not confident at this moment in time, Jake. I do think that we need to have those discussions with the administration. I would love to know how those plans are going to be executed. Because as we saw with the evacuation of those Americans and SIV holders out of the Kabul airport, it did not go well.
And it was not a great success that President Biden proclaims that to be. We lost 13 service members in that effort. So, I would have to know who is executing this. Are we relying on volunteers, as we have heard across the radio waves and airwaves over the last few weeks, volunteers going into the country, and maybe not even with authority to help evacuate those civilians, those SIV holders, those refugees.
So, I think there's a lot of unanswered questions at this time. And I certainly am not one to trust the Taliban to allow for safe passage of Americans or those Afghans that stood beside our service members over the course of the past 20 years.
TAPPER: In terms of Afghan refugees and the Special Immigrant Visa applicants and their families, I know Iowa historically has been a welcoming state when it comes to --
TAPPER: -- individuals like that. I have heard some fairly xenophobic and racist language from conservative voices. And I'm wondering what you say to people like that when you hear from them, whether it's your Senate colleagues or at a town hall?
ERNST: Yes. And there is a lot of concern out there. And, folks, I just need to say we are vetting people that are coming into the United States.
And the governor, Governor Kim Reynolds and I have both stated publicly many times over that we would welcome those refugees coming in from Afghanistan. So, it's important.
I'm sorry about the light there.
TAPPER: It's OK.
ERNST: But it is important that we bring those refugees and these are men and women that have stood beside our soldiers, our Marines, our Airmen over the course of the past 20 years. And certainly they deserve a place in the United States. And I would offer up Iowa to them any day. I would certainly love to see them thrive and prosper in our beautiful state.
TAPPER: One of the rare good things that I've seen in the last couple of weeks, and I'm sure you feel the same way is just the outpouring of support from veterans and soldiers for their Afghan brothers and sisters and their families trying to help them because of all that those Afghan allies did for the U.S. at great personal risk.
Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, thank you so much for your time. And of course always --
ERNST: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: -- thank you for your service.
Coming up, the new threat from Republican leader Kevin McCarthy. He's now threatening retaliation for companies who comply with a legal subpoena. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our Politics lead, after a full-throatedly pushing the election lie that helped inspire the January 6 attempted insurrection on Capitol Hill, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is now threatening to retaliate against private companies that comply with legal subpoenas from the committee investigating that January 6 riot.
CNN's Manu Raju was on Capitol Hill.
Manu, I have to say, McCarthy has supported virtually every previous legislative push to allow the government to subpoena data and phone records and everything else. How is he justifying, threatening to retaliate against companies that comply with a legal subpoena?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he claims that if these companies do comply, it will be an effort by Democrats to impose some sort of surveillance state that can impact all Americans. And he goes further in his statement from last night warning that these companies could face repercussions.
He says that they could violate federal law if they are complying with Democrats that they do provide information to the select committee which has actually seven Democrats and two Republicans. He doesn't explain which federal law that they would violate. We've asked his office, his office has not explained that.
And he says this, this threat got a lot of attention over this past day. He said if companies choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable. Now that is a serious threat because Republicans stand a very good chance of taking back the majority in next year's midterms. There were 35 companies who just got letters over the last day or so asking them to preserve records for certain individuals who may have had a role in the January 6th insurrection.
And we have learned from our reporting, Jake, that some of those individuals are include Republican members of Congress, people who spoke at that so-called Stop The Steal rally that preceded the deadly riot on January 6th. And McCarthy moving forward here, Jake, has prompted some concerns from ethics experts who say that could actually run afoul of House ethic rules and potentially even an ethics investigation. So Jake, this story not over yet. And also a question, will those companies comply with these requests?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes. Sure. It looks like Kevin McCarthy doesn't want the facts to come out about January 6th. Manu Raju, thanks so much. Appreciate your time.
Also in our politics lead, Oklahoma Republican Congressman Markwayne Mullin says he's now headed home after failing twice to get into Afghanistan without authorization as the Washington Post is reporting. He follows Democrats Seth Moulton and Republican Peter Meijer, who did get to Kabul last week, much to the chagrin of the White House, State Department and some of their colleagues. But Mullin's case is quite different.
As CNN's Jessica Dean reports, Mullin is accused of trying to skirt international laws illegally transport a ton of cash and threaten U.S. embassy staff.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin says he's headed back to the United States. Writing in an Instagram post he, quote, went dark for a little, as he helped, quote, get Americans out of Afghanistan. New reporting from the Washington Post reveals during his trip Mullin, in his second attempt to enter Afghanistan in two weeks, threatened U.S. embassy staff in Tajikistan, becoming outraged when they denied his request for help and carrying a huge amount of cash through the country for an unauthorized evacuation effort in neighbouring Afghanistan. The Post reports Mullin embassy staff he was planning to rescue American citizens, a woman and her four children flying from the country of Georgia into Tajikistan and onto Afghanistan. But U.S. embassy officials refused his request for assistance, saying they could not help him bypass Tajikistan's currency restrictions.
NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We have made it abundantly clear that travel to Afghanistan is not safe.
DEAN (voice-over): Mullin's actions alarmed top U.S. officials, according to the Post, and defied House leadership in both parties who repeatedly warned members not to travel to Afghanistan.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Any member that I've heard that might go, I explained to them that I don't think they should. I think it creates a greater risk.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: This is deadly serious. We do not want members to go.
DEAN (voice-over): Unlike Representative Seth Moulton and Peter Meijer, who went on an unauthorized trip to Afghanistan, they described as a fact-finding mission. Mullin is not a veteran. He's a former MMA fighter and small business owner who's been in Congress since 2012.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): I know Markwayne and I've been asking some of my friends and connections about him because I'm concerned for his safety.
DEAN (voice-over): In a statement, Mullin's spokesperson said, "Congressman Mullin has been and is currently completely safe". According to The Washington Post, this is Mullin's second attempt to enter Afghanistan. Last week, he travelled to Greece but the Pentagon denied his request for access to Kabul.
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D) CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: We will get those Americans that are remaining in Afghanistan who want to get out. There's process and plan to do just that. Don't need a member of Congress to go in. That's not his job or his responsibilities.
DEAN: It's unclear if Congressman Mullin ended up getting anyone out of Afghanistan. I did reach out to his office earlier today. They have not responded back to me. We also heard a little bit from State Department Spokesperson Ned Price there who went on to say that all of the embassies are focused on American citizens, Jake, specifically the embassy there in Tajikistan, which is very much focused on getting people out of Afghanistan and successfully over the border there and making sure that they are safe and accounted for. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Jessica Dean on Capitol Hill, thank you so much.
Supplies of food and water running out. Long lines for gas. The crisis unfolding in Louisiana. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
TAPPER: In our national lead, the White House just announced that President Biden is planning to visit Louisiana on Friday to survey the damage left by Hurricane Ida. Nearly 1 million people are still without power in the state of Louisiana. And as CNN's Ed Lavandera reports for us now, some areas are anticipating it could take as long as a month before that power is restored.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ronald Robertson hit the road to get out of New Orleans. He made it about 30 miles outside of town before running out of gas.
RONALD ROBERTSON, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: We had no gas to get through this day but we stand in a line like this. And we ran out of gas trying to get in this line. That's why we pushed it until they went to get a few out, we had a little can. We just trying to get by, you know, when we get to Latvia.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): More than half of the gas stations with power in New Orleans and Baton Rouge don't have fuel. Many gas stations still haven't even been able to reopen. Nearly a million customers are without electricity. Many water systems across the region aren't fully functioning and cell phone service is sporadic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been like hell. I mean, I never mentioned (ph) that like this.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The lines for this food and water distribution sites snake out of a shopping center for blocks and blocks. With temperatures soaring, residents are trying to get supplies to those who need it most.
RAE MCMURRAY, LAPLACE RESIDENT: Helping the elderly and our friends with young people, so that's what we're here for, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) for other people?
MCMURRAY: Anybody that we can help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we got another store (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Some residents are returning to the hardest hit areas in Southeast Louisiana. Floyd and Jane Poindexter rode the storm out here in the town of Raceland. Their supplies of food and water are quickly running out.
FLOYD POINDEXTER, RACELAND RESIDENT: It is horrible, you know, especially with no lights and no water is bad. You know what I mean? We can't even get no ice, you know? We're in trouble for the next couple of weeks.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The Poindexters are cleaning up the storm damage but they say life after Hurricane Ida feels like being stranded on a deserted island.
JANE POINDEXTER, RACELAND RESIDENT: It's just hard. I didn't, you know, sleep last night. I didn't get to sleep in two days. It was miserable right here. It's really hard. I just pray to God that all of us can get back to life. And we can get some water or something.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): We're just beginning to grasp the horrific damage Hurricane Ida inflicted on the barrier island of Grand Isle. The island is decimated. One area official says it could take up to five years to rebuild.
BRYAN ADAMS, DIRECTOR, JEFFERSON PARISH FIRE SERVICES: The people are very sad. A lot of people have lost their homes talking about they don't know whether they'll be able go back or not.
LAVANDERA: And that is the dilemma facing thousands of people here in Southeast Louisiana. This food and water distribution site, Jake, set up by the Louisiana Cajun Navy has been running all day. The line continues around the block onto the street.
At one point today, Jake, it was merging with another line headed to a gas station, another long line until that gas station ran out of gas. And that line disappeared. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.
The New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno joins us now on the phone. Thanks so much for joining us. I know New Orleans has gotten some power restored, but how many people in New Orleans or the greater area are still without power?
HELENA MORENO, COUNCIL PRESIDENT, CITY OF NEW ORLEANS: Hey, Jake, thanks so much for having me on. So we've got roughly 200,000 customers here in New Orleans and only about 11,500 last report, I got have power back. So, you know, it's great that we've got some power flowing back into the city because we were completely cut off just a few days ago. So that's encouraging.
But really the big emergency that we're facing right now is the power situation. The city has had to set up our rec centers as cooling centers. So we have generators at the rec center so that people could just be there for the day and be in the AC and charge their phones and get some water and get some food. Unfortunately, we don't have the volunteers and staff to keep them running overnight. So people have to return to their homes.
I mean, I'm sitting right now at City Hall. We don't even have enough power to really cool City Hall. So I'm sitting here in my hot office talking to you. So that's really our real emergency. We've got people with special needs who are really struggling right now. We have elderly folks who are really struggling right now.
So, I will say that there was a bit of desperation I'm hearing from some individuals. So, just continuing to push, push, push our power utility, which is Entergy New Orleans to get power flowing back into the city as fast as they can.
TAPPER: Address if you would, Governor John Bel Edwards or President Biden, what do you want them to provide as soon as possible?
MORENO: So, you know, I've been in direct contact with the governor and obviously making sure that we continue to have fuel coming into the city to power the generators that are keeping our rec centers and our sewerage and water board, which is our water plant and sewer plant running so that we have, you know, safe drinking water unlike other locations in Southeast Louisiana who do not. So the governor has been really responsive. The President's coming on Friday.
I'm good friends with Special Advisor to the President Cedric Richmond, who was our former congressman who coordinated that trip to bring the President down to Southeast Louisiana and New Orleans. And really, I guess my big ask for the President would be is to please, please, please help us when it comes to resiliency and reliability with power.
One of the things that we saw that happened with the city of New Orleans is that all of the transmission lines that bring power to the city, all eight of them failed. And the transmission lines are actually really under federal oversight. And, you know, there's been conversations and talk before about whether those lines should be buried, so that they don't fail. And that, unfortunately, hasn't happened.
The line failed previously before in 2008 during Gustav. So this isn't the first time that we've been left without any power transmitting into the city. So that would be my big app. Particularly since infrastructure is such a big part of the Biden administration, you know, there's so much talk constantly about the infrastructure bill in Congress. So that would be my big app for the city of New Orleans as council president here.
TAPPER: All right, the City Council President of New Orleans Helena Moreno, thanks so much. Stay in touch with us. Let us know however we can help you and the citizens of New Orleans get what you need to get back where you need to be.
MORENO: Appreciate you so much, Jake. Thank you.
TAPPER: We're coming up on a holiday weekend with the CDC Director now warning one group of Americans should not travel. We'll discuss next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: And we have breaking news, in our health lead, coronavirus vaccine maker Moderna just announced that it has submitted data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to support giving a third dose of its vaccine to people six months after they have received their second dose.
With us now to discuss, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor at George Washington University. Dr. Reiner, thanks for being here. So Moderna is now recommending its third dose to be given six months after the second shot. The Biden administration says people who got the Pfizer vaccine would be eligible for a third dose eight months after their second shot. Why would the timeline be different for Moderna as opposed to Pfizer?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I don't think it is different. And I think it's just a matter of time before that recommendation has changed. Part of the problem is that the CDC and probably the White House has gotten ahead of the FDA. And, you know, there's a whole process to approve a vaccine, either for An Emergency Use Authorization or for final licencing. And when you change the labeling, or you change the group, or you add another dose, there's a process and this vaccine has not gone through that process for the boosters for the general population. That has created a lot of consternation and confusion.
TAPPER: Maybe even resignations. We've seen a couple people resigning the last week.
REINER: Right. The Director and the Deputy Director of the Office for Vaccine Research and Review both resigned yesterday and that tells you about sort of the dysfunction in the FDA right now. The processes, the FDA approves or so called licences the vaccine, and then the CDC, through their ACIP committee, makes the final recommendations about how the vaccines are used. But that pathway has been the tried and true method by which safe and effective vaccines in the United States have been licensed for a very long time.
TAPPER: Is the Biden administration exerting inappropriate political pressure on FDA for doing this? I mean, they announced this push for boosters before the FDA had said it was kosher (ph).
REINER: Right. And I -- and that's the problem. The FDA has a remarkable career group of world class scientists. And these are people that span -- these are non-political people that span all kinds of administrations, and they can't be rushed. Now, I will say there is some suggestion that maybe the FDA has moved a little bit too slow, but they're moving at their pace in the interest of caution and science and getting this right. And there will be pushback when there appears to be political influence, just as the FDA refused to be influenced prior to the presidential election when it was apparent that the Trump administration was really pushing to get a vaccine approved before the election, the FDA would not do that.
TAPPER: We are also hearing that the San Diego hospital system is reporting a dramatic rise in COVID infections in fully vaccinated workers. We should note that in a COVID infection is not a --
TAPPER: -- COVID sickness or a COVID hospitalization, but it does seem to support the argument that additional shots might be appropriate.
REINER: Right. So I was vaccinated the second day vaccines were available. So in -- I think that was December 15. So we are now more than eight months after the first dose, almost nine months now past the first dose of these vaccines, and we know that the efficacy wanes at about the five to six month mark, certainly at the six month mark. So our frontline workers are seeing a decline in their protection, which is why I think it's urgent to start opening up boosters to people who were vaccinated very early.
TAPPER: CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky is also asking unvaccinated Americans to not travel over the Labor Day holiday weekend. She says vaccinated people can travel as long as they wear masks. What do you think of that?
REINER: Look, we saw spikes last year in the fall, Thanksgiving, we saw a Christmas spikes. So -- and it was very harmful to this country. Look, we don't let people carry weapons on board aircrafts because they're a danger to the flight. So why would we let people loaded with virus on board flights?
I think not only is it a good idea now for unvaccinated people not to fly. I don't think unvaccinated people should be permitted to fly until this pandemic is over.
TAPPER: All right. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Thirty-two charges, 32 in the killing of a black man as he walked home from a convenience store. The details next.
TAPPER: In our national lead, three Colorado police officers and two paramedics are facing criminal charges in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain. McClain, as you might remember, was violently detained while walking home from a convenience store. After a 911 caller reported a suspicious person wearing a ski mask was walking along the road, McClain is heard telling the officers, quote, I'm an introvert. Please respect the boundaries that I am speaking. One officer put him in a chokehold. Paramedics injected him with ketamine and claimed died three days later.
Now, the three officers into paramedics involved in the death each face one charge of manslaughter and one charge of criminally negligent homicide among other assault charges.
You can follow me on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. Our coverage now continues with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in The Situation Room.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news.