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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Children Now 1 In 4 Weekly COVID Cases, 250 Percent Jump From Five Weeks Ago; Biden Pushes Economic Agenda As Dems Battle Over Price Tag; Abortion Activists Seek Legal Loopholes for Texas Abortion Ban; California Recall: Texas Abortion Ban. Heavy Rain, Tornadoes Possible In Northeast Areas Hit By Ida; Blinken: The Taliban Won't Let Charter Flights Leave Afghanistan. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 08, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The hardest lessons coming early this school year.

THE LEAD starts right now.

An alarming statistic when it comes to COVID and kids and an eye- opening one when it comes to vaccines as a Florida judge makes a key decision on masking in schools.

It is a law designed to be challenge-proof in ways, but opponents in Texas may have just figured out a way to fight the most restrictive abortion ban in the United States.

Plus, Vice President Harris returning home to California, going back to Cali. Can she help save the Democratic governor's political life?


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

And we begin today in our health today with a stunning rise in new COVID-19 cases among children in the United States, a 250 percent jump from just five weeks ago. Kids making up one in four new COVID cases in the United States. Hospitalizations among children are also seeing an uptick. A 12 percent increase in just one week.

Still, we should underline severe infection in children remains rare. Less than 2 percent of kids infected with COVID end up in the hospital. This is a pandemic that remains largely of the unvaccinated and largely of adults. Thirteen Miami-Dade County school employees have died in the past month all unvaccinated.

And now, as CNN's Nick Watt reports, a new study shows when severe breakthrough cases do happen, they tend to be in older, sicker people.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Misinformation, fear mongering, swirl around breakthrough infections. The vaccinated who still catch COVID.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: The science shows the vaccine will not necessarily protect you. It's not protecting many people.

WATT: So not true.

Here's a box fresh fact: those very rare breakthrough cases who suffer severe symptoms tend to be older, 73 on average. And have multiple other conditions like diabetes or heart disease, according to the CDC. And unvaccinated adults are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized than the fully vaccinated.

DR. EDITH BRACHO-SANCHEZ, PRIMARY CARE PEDIATRICIAN: I think we also need to have perspective and realize that the people who are hospitalized, the people who are suffering severe outcomes are the unvaccinated.

WATT: In Miami-Dade County, Florida, 13 unvaccinated public school staff have now died since mid-August.

ALBERTO CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS: It represents, quite frankly, the danger of disinformation and misinformation, which is so common these days.

WATT: More than 60 percent of Americans have now had at least one vaccine shot. The average daily death toll keeps climbing, but average new cases dropped 4 percent since last week. It's regional, as always. Kentucky just had its worst week ever, more than 30,000 new infections.

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY: We've called in FEMA strike teams, the National Guard. We've deployed nursing students all over the state. We could have prevented this by simply everybody going in and getting that vaccine.

WATT: And as the new school year ramps up across the country, more than a quarter of all new COVID-19 cases are now in kids.

BRACHO-SANCHEZ: We relax restrictions, and this virus is really going for the people who are not vaccinated. And among those people are children who don't qualify for the vaccine.

WATT: Once again, a judge in Florida just ruled in favor of school mask mandates despite the mask-phobic still bullish governor's law that bans the mandates.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: I'm confident we'll end up winning on appeal in that case.

WATT: Positive note, less than 2 percent of pediatric cases end up in the hospital, but there are now nearly 100,000 COVID patients of all ages in the hospital right now fighting for their lives.


WATT (on camera): Finally, a little bit of good news from Macy's. They say that their Thanksgiving Day parade will be back this year almost as it was pre-pandemic. There will be people on the streets, spectators. The exact details, how that will work still being ironed out. There will be fewer participants and pretty much all of them are going to have to be vaccinated and masked -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Nick Watt, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Joining us to discuss, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, let's start with this new data. One in four new COVID cases in the U.S. is now in a child. But severe disease among children remains uncommon. What do parents need to know? Should they consider not sending kids to school?


What's your best advice?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, overall, as you just heard from Nick's piece, you know, the numbers are going way up. Children are still less likely to get severely ill. The problem is that you have a relative, you know, risk that's lower obviously in kids, but the absolute numbers are so high that as you increase the overall viral spread, there's going to be more and more kids who are going to be hospitalized, more and more kids who sadly will die of this.

So, that -- you just have to keep that in mind. Both things can be true. It can be far less risky in kids. But if the numbers are that high, the absolute numbers of kids affected will go up.

Let me show you, Jake, just in terms of going to school. You did the town hall last year about going back to school pre-vaccines we were having this conversation. Right now, the modeling studies will say if you do nothing within the next three months about 75 percent of kids in K-12 will be infected. Talk about 50 million people sort of in that category.

If you do just masking, you bring it down as low as 24 percent. If you do masking in regular testing, down to 13 percent. Which, in many cases those schools would actually be safer areas in terms of viral transmission than the surrounding community in which that school is located.

So it is possible. Even before the vaccine, it was possible. Basic public health measures do work. They've shown this by comparing school districts where you're doing them to school districts where you're not. And it makes a huge difference. So, yeah, I think people can go back. But the parents got to ask these questions.

TAPPER: Masking plus testing, the safest way to have kids go back to school. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said there is not data to show that the cases are more severe now than before among children. So what do you attribute this rise to? GUPTA: Yeah. So, first of all, it's interesting to sort of say, like,

what makes a virus more severe? Does it sort of attach to more receptors? Does it cause some other problem with different organ systems? And when you start too look at that data which we have, you can't say the delta variant is doing something differently than the variants before it. What it seems to really be a problem, more than anything else, is just that this is a far more contagious virus. It sort of outruns the other viruses out there.

So, it'll go, it'll stick to these receptors. It may stick longer. It may spread more easily if someone does have the virus in their own body -- all those things. Does it necessarily cause more severe disease? I don't think you can say that. But, again, it gets back to just the statistics of it. More and more people, even if 98 percent of them when it comes to kids are not going to get that sick or severely sick if you have thousands and thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who are in the hospital, a larger number of them will end up being kids.

TAPPER: A new pre-print study from the CDC finds when there are these severe breakthrough cases, people who have been vaccinated still being able to contract COVID. They tend to be in older, sicker people. What else stands out to you in that study?

GUPTA: I think this is a really important study. This idea -- first of all, in the context of boosters, this has been a big conversation, who should have their immunity boosted and why. They say, well, we're going to cut down on breakthrough infections. Well, okay. But people who are vaccinated may have breakthrough infections and have no symptoms. Is that who we should be boosting?

Well, no. Not necessarily. So let's figure out who is likely to get sick. And that's what this study is really focused on. If you have a severely symptomatic breakthrough infection, people tend to be older, average age of 73, as Nick mentioned, and with typically three co- existing sort of illnesses or risk factors. So, those are the people who are most at risk.

Think of it like this, Jake. A severe flu-like illness in an older person is going to be a much bigger deal than that illness in you, someone who's much younger. So, you know, will a severe disease like that push somebody over the edge even if they're vaccinated if they're older and have these risk factors versus somebody else?

I think the answer's clearly yes. And I think some of that rationale will probably help drive this decision about boosters that we're going to hear from the FDA and CDC as well.

TAPPER: And tomorrow, President Biden is expected to announce mandates, testing, and other things in order to continue to combat the pandemic with an emphasis on schools and private businesses. What more can -- what more should this administration do?

GUPTA: Well, I really do think at this point the idea of mandatory vaccinations in the areas where you can do that is important. A lot of private organizations have taken that on. The federal government can take that on as well with regard to transportation, for example, airline travel, trains, things like that. That might be an area where you could increase overall vaccination rates which make a difference. Funding for schools, a lot of that was already given as part of the relief plan.

But to make sure schools have enough for testing for masks, also ventilation.


I think one of the big things I think as well, Jake, just from a communication standpoint. We have arrived in this place in the pandemic where it's clear that this virus is here to stay. Endemic is the word that they call it.

So what does that mean, and what does success mean then? Achieving zero COVID is probably not arguably a goal that is achievable. So, what is success? What are the things that people should be striving for? I think it's been a little messy win terms of defining that, I hope it's something the president does.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks. Good to see you as always.

As President Biden fights to turn the tide on COVID, again, he's already running out of time to deliver on a couple of big-ticket promises on Capitol Hill.

Plus, not enough food, not enough oxygen, leaking ceilings. Nurses now sharing what it was really like inside Louisiana warehouse where seven seniors died during hurricane Ida.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, top advisers say that President Biden is preparing for a major speech to be delivered at the White House tomorrow on new ways to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

On Capitol Hill, however, two key parts of Biden's domestic agenda are on the clock as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports, the president is trying to project optimism, but with just three weeks until this self-imposed deadline for both the infrastructure and the $3.5 trillion budget deals, progressive and moderate Democrats are now issuing ultimatums towards one another.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to build back better. We have to. We must. We will.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden closing in on a critical period for his domestic agenda as his party stares down a major math problem.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have to talk about what does it take, where would you cut? Childcare? Family medical leave paid for? Universal pre-K?

COLLINS: Democratic leaders are vowing to move ahead with a $3.5 trillion tax and spending package after one of the party's most pivotal swing votes, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin warned the price tag is too high.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: We're moving full speed ahead. We are moving forward on this bill.

COLLINS: Senator Manchin has said privately he could accept a number closer to $1.5 trillion, but that's a fraction of what the progressive wing of his party says is necessary to transform the nation's education, healthcare, and climate structure.

REP. MONDAIRE JONES (D-NY): The idea of a $1.5 trillion price tag being sufficient to accomplish those goals for the people is fanciful.

COLLINS: Some House Democrats are even warning they could sink the $1 trillion infrastructure bill already passed by the Senate if they're not on board with the larger package.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I, as well as many, many members of the progressive caucus, simply will not vote for Senator Manchin's infrastructure bill unless it is tied together with the Build Back Better.

COLLINS: Budget Chairman Senator Bernie Sanders adding $3.5 trillion is the floor, not the ceiling, to address the challenges facing the U.S.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): In my mind, this bill, that $3.5 trillion is already the result of a major, major compromise.

COLLINS: President Biden telling CNN he is confident he can get Manchin on board eventually.

REPORTER: How deep is his resistance, do you think, to the reconciliation?

BIDEN: Joe -- Joe at the end has always been there. He's always been with me. I think we can work something out, and I look forward to speaking with him.


COLLINS: So, President Biden says he looks forward to speaking to Senator Manchin, Jake. And, of course, we should note it's not just what's -- the price tag of this bill that is going to be a very critical discussion the Democrats are having sometimes in public, clearly, over the next few weeks. It's also what is going to go inside of this massive bill.

And, of course, with Democrats, with their margins as slim as they are, really every member has sway, not just Senator Joe Manchin.

TAPPER: Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Let's bring in CNN's Ryan Nobles live on Capitol Hill.

Ryan, Senate Democrats have zero margin for error here. So what happens next?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, Jake, we are in a high-profile staring contest between the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and those moderates who are uncomfortable with spending that much money. To Kaitlan's point, there is a level of mutually assured destruction between both sides because the progressives clearly want to see that $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package passed into law. But the progressives are going to be unwilling to go along with that plan unless that $3.5 trillion -- or the human infrastructure package, the budget bill goes along with it.

So what's going to happen now over the next two weeks, and it is a pretty tight time line, is going to be some intense behind-the-scenes negotiations between the moderates and the progressives to come to a place where all sides feel comfortable voting for both packages. Now this is not going to be easy because they seem to be so far apart in that bottom-line number. Joe Manchin saying he's only going to be comfortable with something that he believes the government can pay for in the range of $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion, whereas Bernie Sanders said $3.5 trillion is the base line.

So, Jake, we're going to have to see how this time line plays out over the next couple of weeks. The timeline is tight and because the margins are so tight, just one Democrat senator or even member of the House could blow the entire thing off -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill, thanks.

After the Supreme Court failed to block it, there's a new fight to stop the toughest abortion ban in the country. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead today, leaders of abortion clinics and abortion rights activists in Texas are doing everything they can to continue providing services in spite of Texas' new abortion ban. They are now turning to state courts to try to fight this controversial law, the strictest abortion ban in the country, one that seems to go against the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling.

CNN's Paula Reid joins us now.

And, Paula, tell us about how the leaders of these clinics and abortion rights activists plan on fighting this law.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you just noted, they really see state courts right now as being key to try to stop this law. And they have been successful in getting some temporary restraining orders against specific anti-abortion activists.


But those restraining orders, they are temporary. And they are specific to an individual or an entity. And that's because this law was designed to make it very difficult for a court to block it. That is a feature, not a bug, because, historically, the courts have blocked laws of having strict abortion restrictions. They blocked them by trying to prevent the people from enforcing them.

So a government official that's in charge of implementing punishment, the court would just block that official. But here this law deputizes any citizen to go ahead and bring a civil action against anyone who helps a woman get an abortion after six weeks. So you no longer have the traditional ways to fight these laws. This is the product of a long game that anti-abortion activists have been playing. They really seized on loopholes in the law on these specific procedural nuances.

And last week, we saw five Supreme Court justices let them do that. So, now, we see clinics in Texas, they are saying that they're no longer going to perform abortions after six weeks. So, we're also seeing activists on the ground trying to help women get access to abortion services in other states.

And that is not prohibited by this law. We also see the Biden administration under a lot of pressure to try to do something to stop this law. We've heard the attorney general say he's going to do everything that he can. He specifically pointed to trying to enforce a law that protects abortion clinics from threats at their entrances or threats again women.

But, Jake, it's just not clear that that particular type of action will bring the kind of case that is needed to stop this law.

TAPPER: But four abortion rights activists, for the people that run the clinics, this strategy, this doesn't seem like a sustainable long- term strategy.

REID: No. I mean, clearly, this has been a long game for both sides. But this has been -- a lot of people make the comparison to whack-a- mole. It's just not sustainable. And it's unclear how they are going to get that test case unless there is a clinic, unless there is a practitioner who is willing to violate the law and take all of those incoming lawsuits to get that true test case that could potentially make it all the way up possibly to the Supreme Court.

TAPPER: All right. Paul Reid, thank you so much.

An attorney and associate professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University, Professor Katie Watson joins me now.

Professor Watson, what do you think of this strategy being employed in Texas to fight this abortion ban, this law going case by case through state courts? Is this the most effective strategy? KATIE WATSON, ATTORNEY: Well, as you've already established, it's

unsustainable. And I think the whack-a-mole analogy is correct. It's the best strategy at the moment, but it is not a long-term strategy.

TAPPER: Law Professor Carter Snead wrote about the Supreme Court decision, quote, the Texas strategy was ingenious in that evaded the usual pre-enforcement injunction by a federal court because neither the state officials nor the private citizens sued in the case were involved in the enforcement of the law. The Supreme Court lacked the power to intervene.

It does seem as though a lot of abortion rights activists were relying on the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay, as they have done in the past. Was that -- do you agree, and was that a faulty strategy?

WATSON: Well, I disagree with Professor Snead that the court lacked the authority to issue the injunction. I agree with Justice Sotomayor in her dissent where she said a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand when confronted with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights.

TAPPER: The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, he was asked about how this law would force the victims, survivors of rape and incest, to carry a child to term if not terminated before six weeks. Take a listen.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: It doesn't require that at all because obviously it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion. So, for one, it doesn't provide that. That said, however, let's make something very clear: rape is a crime. And Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas.


TAPPER: I'm wondering what your reaction is to those comments and how they square with the real-world experiences of rape survivors and women when they find out that they're pregnant.

WATSON: Well, I have two responses. And the first is, of course, those who oppose abortion rights try to impose waiting periods, suggesting women haven't thought long enough about it. And yet when women don't act quickly, they are punished in Texas.

So, someone who's been traumatized by a rape and has to later learn whether they are pregnant and then make a decision, it's incredibly punitive to think they should have to rush that.

Secondly, I think our focus on rape and incest is important, but that's a minority of abortion seekers. In my work, I talk about ordinary abortion. The majority of women and people capable of pregnancy seeking abortion are absolutely entitled to follow their conscience and do what's best and right for them and their family. And I think it's just as unjust to them as it is to people who did not

consent to sex.

TAPPER: The attorney general, Merrick Garland, has pledged to try to protect abortion clinics and those whose use those facilities for health care using the FACE Act. That's a 1990s era law that prohibits making threats against individuals seeking reproductive health services and against individuals obstructing clinic entrances.

Do you think that is legitimate? Will that work?

WATSON: Well, there -- I think Attorney General Garland is referring to the physical attacks or obstruction on clinics, and that was what the drafters of the FACE Act were envisioning.

However, the Texas legislature has been very creative in drafting this statute. And I think the federal opposition to it should be equally creative. Americans expect the federal government to intervene when states try to rob them of their constitutional rights. We have a long history of that in the South.

And so what FACE prohibits is private citizens blocking someone trying to enter a clinic. And I would argue that's what the Texas statute does. It puts a wall between a pregnant person and the pastor who would tell them where to go get an abortion, the friend who wanted to drive them to have the abortion, the family member or insurance company or abortion fund that wanted to give them the money to do the procedure, and the doctor who wanted to deliver safe medical care, and makes it impossible for her to get into the clinic.

That's not what the drafters of FACE were envisioning, but it's exactly the outcome they were trying to prevent, private citizens blocking their neighbors from exercising their constitutional rights.

That would be a creative application of FACE, but I think this is the year for creativity and adapting the use of these older statutes to the modern anti-choice harassment, shaming and blocking techniques.

TAPPER: All right, Professor Katie Watson, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today.

WATSON: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: California's governor hoping to survive a critical recall election with the help of some big names, one of which rhymes with Mamala.

That's next.



TAPPER: In our politics lead: With less than a week before he faces the challenge of his political life, the recall election, California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is getting a little help from his friends.

Former President Barack Obama is expected to appear in an ad supporting the governor. And, this afternoon, Vice President Kamala Harris was back in the Bay Area to campaign with Newsom.

CNN's Kyung Lah attended the rally, which was near Oakland and just ended.

And, Kyung, Vice President Harris is just one of many prominent Democratic women trying to help Newsom stay in office. The women's vote there is key for him.


And the governor knows that, if he can win women, the wind is at his back. Now, the vice president opened her remarks here by saying it is good to be home. And she is home to help her longtime political brother Governor Gavin Newsom stay on the job.


DANVY LE, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC VOTER: Oh, my God. I am here for Mamala Kamala. She is -- I am very, very excited to see her.

LAH: The return of Oakland's beloved Democratic daughter is the big draw for this Bay Area crowd.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Your hometown hero, the vice president!

LAH: Vice President Kamala Harris energizing the progressive female base at home.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We fight for working people. We fight for organized labor. We fight for dreamers. We fight for women. We fight for voting rights. And we stand as Democrats, and we are proud to do all of that and more.

NINA QUICK, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC VOTER: We all love Kamala Harris. She has a long history here and has done so much for us. And having her come, I think, IS really going to energize people to get out the vote. And I hope that they do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we fight, we win!

LAH: With less than a week to go before Election Day, the vice president is the woman leading the cavalry for California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, from Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, the senator saying it may be a California ballot, but this is about national women's issues.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): These fights, they're not just in Texas, Florida, South Dakota. These fights have come to California.

Are you ready to fight?


LAH: This is part of the governor's strategy to nationalize the recall in this final week, drawing a sharp contrast with Republican Challenger Larry Elder, an outspoken radio host with conservative views on race and gender.

NEWSOM: Racial justice is on the ballot. Economic justice is on the ballot. Social justice is on the ballot. Environmental justice is on the ballot. Women's rights are on the ballot.


LAH: There's a reason Newsom is focusing on the issues impacting women in his party. In 2018, some of Newsom's most enthusiastic voters were women, helping him win the governor's mansion.

NEWSOM: Thank you, California.

LAH: Sixty-four percent of women voted for Newsom then.

NEWSOM: Defeating this Republican recall.

LAH: In 2021, a recent poll shows 66 percent of women say they will vote to keep Newsom in office, among them, Lissa Malone.

LISSA MALONE, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC VOTER: I have never attended a rally before, but I felt like this is very important to attend this one.

LAH (on camera): Why now?

MALONE: Just in light of what's happening in Texas and in light of what's happening to our state.

LAH: But Larry Elder says the Democrats' focus on national issues is Newsom avoiding state problems.

LARRY ELDER (R), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: As you know, they are scared to death, which is why all these politicians from outside California are now weighing in, including Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Senator Elizabeth Warren.


ELDER: They don't defend his record on anything.


LAH: We should point out that the vice president did echo a lot of the national themes that the Newsom campaign has focused on.

And the governor in fact joked about the vice president being here, Jake, saying that he would keep his remarks brief, because he knew who the crowd was here to really see -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Kyung Lah, thanks so much. Let's bring in CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

And, Dana, this is high stakes for Harris as well as for Governor Newsom.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's true, because this is one of the first times, if not the first time, that it is such a high-profile surrogacy move that she's made. And it matters, because she is a California woman. She is still beloved there, which is why -- among Democrats, which is why they brought her in.

And the fact that they are making this such a national message, as Kyung has been reporting, is fascinating, because the whole goal is to move Democratic voters from apathy to passion, and this is how they think they're going to do it.

TAPPER: And you just released a new podcast focused on a story that was one of my first big stories to cover on a national level. It's called "Total Recall: California's Political Circus."

It's about the first recall in 2003, the first one in modern history, 2003. You interviewed the only guy to ever do this successfully. And we don't know what Larry Elder or whoever else is going to be able to do.

Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, does he think that voters are paying enough attention this time around or as much attention as they did to his recall?

BASH: Certainly not as much as they did to his recall.

TAPPER: When he pushed out Gray Davis.

BASH: Yes, I mean, you were there. There were -- he was the biggest movie star in the world. There were hundreds of cameras following him around. It's not anything like that at all.

I should say that he is aggressively neutral when it comes to the candidates. But he definitely has an opinion about the atmosphere.

Take a listen.


BASH: You mentioned the debate of the current recall, but there were no cameras there.

How concerned are you that people just don't care, as you said, and there won't be a lot of people who go and vote? What are you thinking about with regard..

FMR. GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R-CA): Well, I think that people do care, but they sure didn't care about the clowns up there on the stage having a debate.

It was like the media is not stupid. The media go and say, look, if we get millions of requests to cover the thing, of course we go there with the camera. But there was no one interested. So, this is -- I think there's people interested that want to go and unseat Newsom.

They will be motivated. And they will say, we got to get rid of him. And they will come out and vote. And then there's the Democrats that maybe take this a little bit too relaxed, and maybe not come out, and that's going to be -- that could be dangerous for Newsom, if that is the case.


BASH: So, he is friends with Gavin Newsom, and he says he also has relationships with some of the candidates who want to unseat him.

But his point there was that -- and he said flatly that the Newsom campaign and Newsom himself didn't take this recall seriously enough until recently. Now they have changed, obviously. But it took a while for them to get there.

TAPPER: It was nice of him to dress up for the interview.


TAPPER: I appreciate it.

Dana Bash, thanks so much.

Remember to listen to Dana's podcast, "Total Recall: California's Political Circus." You can download it wherever you get your podcasts. And I will be downloading it on my drive home tonight.

Dana, congratulations.

Some people who lost everything in Ida are bracing for what could be another devastating forecast.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, one week after the remnants of Hurricane Ida caused devastating flooding in the northeastern United States, killing at least 52 people, that same water-logged region is getting another storm tonight, one that could only make matters worse, stirring up strong winds, even possible tornados.

CNN meteorologist Tom Sater is tracking it all for us.

And, Tom, where could we see the most severe weather in the hours ahead?


TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it looks like, Jake, it's going to fall on the same areas that we had the catastrophic flooding with Ida. It's going to be in the Northeast.

Now, the line right now is still back in the Ohio Valley. But there are a lot of embedded thunderstorms with a lot of lightning. So damaging winds will accompany this, even a few tornados are possible, had a few warnings in the Carolinas.

But as this band moves in, it's thin. However, it takes a while for the environment to recuperate. The ground is saturated. There is debris everywhere.

So every stream and tributary is going to kind of impede the flow of a normal flow with thunderstorms. But also just think about the neighborhoods and those that are having to gut their homes, you know, the molded sheetrock to the damaged furniture. That alone lining neighborhoods could cause a little deviation in how these floodwaters move through.

We're not talking 10, 15, 17 inches of rainfall, just a couple. But because there is a threat of severe weather, too, these thunderstorms could unleash that rainfall in a short amount of time. So the flash flood watches in effect does not include New York City. It's mainly northern New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and parts of southern New York.

But if you just want to be careful, and I know anxiety is high, nerves are still rattled. Just do not go out tonight let's say between 10:00 and 1:00 in the morning for New York. It's going to start in D.C. around 7:00 to 8:00. It will be in Philadelphia around 9:00 to 10:00 and later on points to the north, Boston in the early morning hours.

So, again, if you have a storm drain in your area, I'm sure they may have been cleared but you may want to go and check them because a lot of times they clog up again in the latter hours of the rainfall. I do want to point this out, though, Jake, just moment ago, national hurricane center declared this cluster a tropical depression. If there is enough time and space, it will become a tropical storm, and its name will be Mindy. They're going to get a lot of rainfall too.

But you're not going to have the images in New York that we had with Ida, thank goodness.

TAPPER: All right. Meteorologist Tom Seder, thanks so much.

Speaking of Ida in Louisiana, the state's health department has revoked the licenses of seven nursing homes that sent elderly residents to a warehouse to shelter from Hurricane Ida. Seven of those residents died. And health officials say conditions inside the makeshift shelter were unsafe and unsanitary.

CNN's Ryan Young is live near that warehouse in Independence, Louisiana.

And, Ryan, nurses who worked at the facility say they were never told that the evacuation site was a warehouse.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. And that's really tough to hear, Jake. And if you think about this, the details of this are quite scary, especially for the family members who didn't know their loved ones would end up here. You're talking about seven facilities and 850 people.

We wanted to drive here, it's like 50 miles outside of New Orleans, just to see for ourselves. and look at this warehouse. There is so much trash that's piled outside here. There are still two wheelchairs that remain outside. And we see some medical waste that has been left behind.

You think about the sweltering heat that we were experiencing right after that hurricane, and imagine those 850 people inside here begging for help, more than 60 calls to 911 where people just wanted some sort of assistance. You still see some of the medical supplies that have been left outside.

Now, we did get a count sort of what was from 911, not the actual audio. But here are some of the logs. In one instance where a caller says that a diabetic patient needed emergency transport because they had not eaten due to not having any more supplies. On august 28th an operator wrote in a log about someone reporting a patient gasping and having trouble breathing. And then three hours later, another caller reported a person that was having seizures.

When you put all this together, Jake, and you get this look and standing outside you realize what this building is made of and the heat these people were probably experiencing. And then the staff that was here and didn't have an idea that this is where they would fall back to, you understand that it was a lot of trouble in the situation.

TAPPER: All right. Ryan Young in Independence, Louisiana, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

From Guantanamo bay to positions in the new Taliban government, the former detainees now in charge. That's next.



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

This hour, a record number of kids in the U.S. with COVID as more return to school this week. We'll talk to a pediatrician dealing with a huge spike and many, many frustrated and worried parents.

The thought police. Kids in China given new school textbooks, banned from playing video games during the school week. What's behind this communist crackdown?

But, first, leading this hour, the battle after America's longest war. Taliban fighters using whips and sticks to beat back women protesting the repressive and all-male new Taliban government as some private group accuse the U.S. State Department of slowing down their efforts to get American citizens and Afghan allies out of the country. Today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged the frustration

of those trying to escape on flights from Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, planes the Taliban is allowing to refuse to take off. But Secretary Blinken's response, essentially, "there's only so much we can do" will no doubt do little to quiet the criticism from Democrats and Republicans.

CNN's Kylie Atwood starts us off this hour from the State Department.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Secretary of State Tony Blinken now directly blaming the Taliban over confusion of charter flights stuck in Afghanistan.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: As of now, the Taliban are not permitting the charter flights to depart. They claim that some of the passengers do not have the required documentation.

ATWOOD: With planes suddenly grounded, a rift has developed between the Biden administration, lawmakers, and private groups working on the flights.

Critics have accused the administration of making it even harder to get flights in the air.