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The Lead with Jake Tapper

DOD: Kabul Strike Mistakenly Killed Three Adults, Seven Children; FDA Vaccine Advisers Vote Against Pfizer's COVID Booster For Americans 16 And Older; FDA Advisers Vote to Recommend Pfizer Booster Shot For Those 65+ And High Risk; Officials Preparing For The Worst Ahead Of Right-Wing Rally; France Recalls Ambassadors To U.S., Australia Over Security Spat; 12,500-Plus Migrants Living Under Bridge At U.S.-Mexico Border. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired September 17, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The U.S. military went from righteous strike to tragic mistake in just days.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The Pentagon minutes ago admitting they got it really wrong, targeting the wrong vehicle in Afghanistan, killing ten innocent civilians, including seven Afghan children. How could this happen?

And a key FDA panel moments ago rejected Pfizer's request to add a booster dose of its COVID vaccine for everyone. What does that mean for you, ahead?

Plus, more than 12,000 undocumented migrants gathering at the border waiting to be taken into Border Patrol custody. We're live on the ground with the escalating situation, ahead.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start with breaking news. The U.S. military admitting to a massive and deadly mistake in a targeted drone strike on August 29th that killed three Afghan adults and seven Afghan children in a Kabul neighborhood. The military initially claimed that they had successfully targeted a member of ISIS-K, someone who posed a threat to American troops at the airport.

But just moments ago the leader of United States Central Command took responsibility and admitted they got the wrong vehicle.


GEN. KENNETH F. MCKENZIE JR., COMMANDER, UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND: Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake, as the combatant commander, I am fully responsible for this strike and this tragic outcome.


TAPPER: This is a total about face from the Pentagon's initial denial they got anything wrong days after the attack.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: At least one of those people that were killed was an ISIS facilitator. So, were there others killed? Yes, there are others killed. Who they are? We don't know. But at this point we think that the procedures were correctly followed and it's a righteous strike.


TAPPER: No longer so righteous.

We're covering every angle of this story.

Let's start with CNN's Anna Coren.

It was pretty clear from your investigation a few days ago that the U.S. military had made a huge, tragic mistake here in one of the United States' very last acts in this 20-year war in Afghanistan. What is the response going to be?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think people are shocked, in fact, that the U.S. military is actually owning up to this. You know, we're almost three weeks since that drone strike that killed ten people. I think there's been a lot of pressure on the military to do this mea culpa.

Obviously, our investigation as well as other outlets have been honing in on this, speaking to people on the ground, speaking to the families, speaking to the colleagues who were with 43-year-old Zamarai Ahmadi, the target, the person who the U.S. military initially named as an ISIS facilitator.

He has no connections whatsoever to ISIS. He was basically in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong white Toyota corolla. And we know that that is when the U.S. military began honing in on his car. They had been monitoring this ISIS safe house, which they still maintain was an ISIS safe house for some 36 hours following the Abbey Gate attack that killed 13 U.S. service members and more than 170 Afghans. And then they followed this car for the next eight hours, not knowing who the driver was.

But they followed this car as he picked up colleagues, as they stopped at a cafe, as they went to the office. We saw the CCTV footage, and what they were doing on that day, we spoke to the colleagues who were in the car with him the whole time.

And when the U.S. military initially were defending the strike, Jake, they talked about these heavy packages being loaded into the car. Well, we saw from the CCTV footage that he was filling up water containers because they had no running water in their home. He had been doing this for months. So those heavy packages were in fact water containers, not explosives.

The other piece of information that the military stood by for weeks was this significant secondary explosion. But it has been told to us by a U.S. official with knowledge of the operation that this actually was probably a flare-up. This is what they saw on their infrared cameras monitoring from the sky. That has now been determined as either a propane gas tank exploding or vapors from the vehicle gas tank exploding.


And just quickly, Jake, I think it's really important to mention that there were three children in the compound. That was established after the strike had been made, the shot had been taken. They could see these three children in the compound. It is being told to us now that further analysis goes to show that the father actually got out of the car, that his children got into the car, and that is when the drone struck.

TAPPER: And one wonders how much the pentagon would be admitting this if it weren't for your reporting and "The New York Times" and other media outlets.

Thank you so much, Anna Coren.

Joining us now CNN's senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt.

Alex, how remarkable is it for the pentagon to go public with the mistake of this magnitude? After all, drone strikes abroad have been killing innocent people for quite some time.

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, I think you just touched on it. This was a very public one. There is no question that not only have tens of thousands of civilians been killed in Afghanistan over the course of the past 20 years, but that there have been mistakes in the past. This happened to be a very public one at a very public time.

It was made very public, in large part, thanks to the various media organizations, including CNN, that brought this to light. That was acknowledged by General Frank McKenzie just a short time ago in his press conference. So now we have apologies from the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Milley, and the head of Central Command, General McKenzie.

I think probably what is most remarkable, Jake, is despite the fact that we have these apologies and these admissions that the intelligence was bad, when asked whether this was a complete and utter failure, McKenzie actually pushed back, saying that he would not qualify the entire operation in those terms. This, of course, also raises serious questions about these over-the-horizon capabilities that they keep talking about with no troops, no military presence in Afghanistan, how will they be able to strike these terrorist targets?

And, again, General McKenzie pointed to a strike against another ISIS- K target just two days prior, in Nangarhar Province, saying that that was extremely successful. He also said there were other successful operations that we haven't heard about. But, Jake, again, there was the possibility of civilian casualties

raised immediately following this strike by Central Command itself. But, at the same time, three days later, General Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs, called this a righteous strike. They still believe that they had taken out an ISIS target.

Now we have an apology from General Mark Milley, which I want to read, in part. He says that he talked about the context of this high-threat environment saying the commanders on the ground had appropriate authority and that our conclusion now is that innocent civilians were killed. This is a horrible tragedy of war, and it's heart-wrenching and we are committed to being fully transparent about this incident.

Jake, General McKenzie did say that they are weighing the possibility of making payments to the family, admitting that it would be difficult without a U.S. presence there. And then when asked also who was responsible for carrying out this strike and what level did this happen, he said it was an over-the-horizon strike commander. We don't know who that is and we don't know to what extent that person will be held accountable for this horrific tragedy -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much.

Let's bring in retired Lieutenant General Spider Marks.

General, what do you make of the Pentagon admitting this? I mean, it's a pretty horrible mistake.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it is a horrible mistake. First of all, Jake, it's Major General Spider Marks, not lieutenant general. But thank you very much for --

TAPPER: I apologize.

MARKS: No, no, not an issue.

To the most important topic here, it's a terrible tragedy. I think two things really come to mind in my mind as an intelligence guy. First of all, General McKenzie talked about in great detail the type of intelligence that was used to track this white Toyota vehicle, and then at multiple times he talked about other reports, which means he was looking for some other confirming data to go with the single- source data, which in many cases we will use, which is imagery intelligence, you know, the visual capability that we have as a result of the really large number of drones that we rely upon.

The second thing that comes to mind is where was the authority to launch? And as General McKenzie indicated it was in theater, it was the over-the-horizon commander. And I'm not saying where that is, I think I know where that is, but that'll be another question that comes up. Whether there will be an effort to tighten the controls in terms of what is very often fleeting intelligence, targetable intelligence that then needs to go through different layers before you have a strike authority.

[16:10:01] But those are the necessary things that have to be discussed when you have a tragedy -- I mean, an unimaginable tragedy like we experienced. And the good news is, obviously, and we were talking about this earlier, the United States came forward and said we made a mistake. There aren't many nations that would do that as quickly and as fulsomely and as honestly as the United States.

So, I need to disagree with Anna a little bit, and I'm not shocked that the United States, that DOD came forward and said, look, mea culpa, we made a mistake here.

TAPPER: I have to say I'm not a big fan of the term over-the-horizon strike. I understand that's military speak for we're not in the country that we're attacking. But it kind of makes it sound poetic when really it is an admission of we're not there so our intelligence is not as good as it otherwise would be.

This is now how the U.S. is going to operate in Afghanistan with over- the-horizon strikes since there are no troops on the ground. I'm not sure, if this was an over-the-horizon strike, given that we did have service members on the ground at the time, but let's assume it was completely over the horizon, doesn't that suggest that this is going to be -- and, again, I'm not advocating that we have a military presence in Afghanistan -- but this idea of an over-the-horizon capability is going to be even more difficult going in the forward, given even though there's going to be al Qaeda and ISIS-K, et cetera?

MARKS: Absolutely. It's an incredibly difficult strategy to maintain. Our counterterrorism efforts will rely on exactly what you described. We will not have a presence on the ground, unless of course our Central Intelligence Agency has an ability to start to generate some sources in country that can give us some eyes on target.

We're not reliant exclusively on human intelligence. Look, the human can be biased just like a device can be biased. But it's important for us to realize that we have had some great successes with over-the- horizon type of striking. We have some incredible intelligence capabilities, but it does render this counterterrorism strategy, upon which we want to make sure that Afghanistan does not go back into totally ungoverned space where the ISIS's of the world and the other jihadists can begin to kind of populate and start to rehearse for their next big strike.

The United States really has to up its game. And it knows how to do this. But you're exactly right. It takes multiple forms of intelligence in order to validate a target before you pull the trigger against it. And when you don't have one of those key elements, human intelligence on the ground, you've got to duplicate it and you've got to complement it by other means, but you're going to still going to lack that one critical element.

TAPPER: Yeah, retired Major General Spider Marks, thank you so much for your insights.

And more breaking news, a stunning decision. A key FDA panel just voted against recommending booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine for everyone despite the White House's suggestion that this was going to happen. What does this mean for you and your family? That's coming up.

Plus, on alert, law enforcement officials say they're taking no chances as backers of the insurrectionists plan to gather at the U.S. Capitol in just hours.

Stay with us.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: More breaking news for you. An FDA vaccine advisory panel has just voted against authorizing a third dose booster shot for Pfizer's COVID vaccine for everyone, 16 and older, despite the fact that the White House said that was going to happen. The main pushback, the scientists say there is not enough data to support this booster shot for most Americans.

But the FDA advisers did seem to support boosters for older Americans.

Let's bring in CNN's Elizabeth Cohen.

Elizabeth, we knew today's meeting would be contentious. Did anyone expect a no vote, though?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, some people did expect a no vote. As I was talking to sources this morning, it was starting to not look good. The fact that it was so dramatically no, that the vote was so overwhelmingly no, I think that was surprising.

But let me talk about why they voted no or one of the reasons they voted no. The sort of theory put out there was if you give everyone boosters, you're going to cut down on infections, so younger people won't be infected. And we know that younger people after they're vaccinated if they get infected they're usually fine.

But the theory was, oh, maybe those young people will spread it around, and that will be bad. And I think a lot of people question that theory. People question the theory of whether it was worth giving boosters to people under the age of, say, 60.

So let's take a listen to Dr. Paul Offit. He's an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been very sort of -- he's, I guess, had a lot of questions about these boosters for many weeks now, and he talked about this theory. Let's take a listen.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE: The third dose of mRNA vaccines increases the target neutralizing specific antibodies and will likely decrease the likelihood of symptomatic infection which is associated with contagiousness. So, then the questions, what will be the impact of that on the arc of the pandemic? Which may not be all that much.


COHEN: So, in other words, what Dr. Offit is saying is if you vaccinate a bunch of people over the age of 60, and so, you don't get so many breakthrough infections, those people who are asymptomatic or barely sick, does it really matter? He's saying he thinks it does, and obviously, I think a majority of the members agreed with him. But there is sort of a way out of this. There is a way the boosters could get approved in the United States.


As we speak they are coming up with sort of a second possible vote, maybe they'll make it that this won't be full approval of boosters, but just emergency approval. Or maybe they'll say, you know what, we're not going to ask for boosters for everyone in the U.S., we're just going to ask for boosters for people who are over age 60. When you're over age 60, your immunity isn't good, there's more of a case that you might need a booster.

So this isn't over yet, but certainly this overwhelmingly no vote really is -- I'm just going to call it a slap in the face to the Biden administration, which, as you pointed out, Jake, in August, said basically we're starting this September 20th. That is not going to be the case in quite the way that they had hoped -- Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, they've been criticized, in fact, the Biden administration for putting pressure on the FDA.

Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

I want to bring in Dr. William Schaffner. He's a professor at Vanderbilt Medical Center who studies infectious disease and preventive medicine.

Dr. Schaffner, so, this is -- this is pretty big news. What do you make of this first vote by the FDA panel against recommending a third dose or a booster for all Americans 16 and over?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Actually, Jake, I'm rather surprised because I would have thought that the committee would look at the safety data and the immunogenicity data, doesn't raise those antibodies in the blood, and I think those data are clear, and they would have left these nuances of who should get vaccinated, when and under what circumstance to the CDC's committee, which is meeting next Wednesday and Thursday. So, I think this ruling really surprised me. I'm not so sure the FDA is absolutely obliged to conform to this recommendation. But they usually do.

TAPPER: Israel is already administering these third shots. Health officials there told this FDA advisory panel today that the booster shots, in their view, helped their hospitals avoid going over capacity. There are about 95,000 people in American hospitals right now with COVID occupying about 30 percent of all available ICU beds. If not a third dose, what is the best way to get hospitalizations

down? Is it to vaccinate the unvaccinated? Or is it the boosters?

SCHAFFNER: Well, you're right on, Jake. It's to vaccinate the unvaccinated, of course. They're the ones who are driving the hospitalizations well over 90 percent of people being hospitalized today are unvaccinated. And there were people who were concerned that our energy bandwidth in public health would suddenly be diverted to boosters when it should continue to be concentrated on getting the people who are unvaccinated on board and vaccinated. That certainly would curtail the outbreak.

TAPPER: Israeli health officials said that of the 2.8 million booster shots administered in that country, they had only 19 serious adverse events. Those included cases involving allergic reactions, one case of the inflamed heart condition called myocarditis. Another case of Guillain-Barre syndrome and other events involving blood clots. No deaths, we should note.

Now, you've studied vaccines and infectious disease for a long time. When it comes to boosters, do you think the benefits outweigh the risks?

SCHAFFNER: Well, I would think we'll all need a booster at some point. And, yes, I think the benefits do outweigh the risks. These are really very, very safe vaccines, and the third dose looks to be about as safe as the first and the second. So that's really quite reassuring.

TAPPER: Today's vote was just on Pfizer's COVID vaccine. Could developments today impact the Moderna vaccine and the only single-dose vaccine from J&J, Johnson & Johnson? What do you think?

SCHAFFNER: Well, they're in train. Those companies will submit their data. And, yes, I would think this president might well influence what happens with Moderna and Pfizer. Of course, we have some time, and we'll see what happens now with the CDC's advisory committee and the general response across the country to this.

TAPPER: Do you think that one of the reasons why the FDA may have, this advisory panel may have ruled the way they did, is because they didn't like the fact that the politicians were getting ahead of the science? The Biden administration has been criticized for saying that these boosters were coming, and scientists had been saying for weeks, the data's not there, what are you doing?

SCHAFFNER: Well, I think things did get reversed. They put the cart before the horse. But I don't think that that's a reason my colleagues voted against it. They had solid scientific reasons for doing that. And that's what they were expressing.

They're not voting out of spite. Please don't get that idea.

TAPPER: No, not spite but just the idea they want to prove their independence and they think the data's not there. And so, perhaps -- they want -- okay, but you disagree with the premise, that's fine.

Is the makeup of the other two vaccines, Moderna and J&J, that much different than the makeup of Pfizer?

SCHAFFNER: Well, Moderna's very similar to Pfizer. J&J is different. And so, we'll have to look at the data independently for each product very carefully. And that will be done.

TAPPER: And, Dr. Schaffner, as long as I have you, I want to ask how is the -- in Tennessee, how is the effort to convince the unvaccinated to get vaccinated? President Biden spoke very forcefully the other day a week or so ago about that. Did that have an impact? Are the skeptics, are the people who have questions about the vaccine, are they being won over?

SCHAFFNER: Well, the effort is undiminished, I assure you. The response is still very slow. But we're persisting. We would certainly hope that over time more and more people can be brought over.

You know, just recently we were first in the country in terms of new cases per 100,000. That's not a position that's very favorable.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Schaffner, thank you so much, appreciate your time.

I want to bring back CNN's Elizabeth Cohen who has more breaking news.

So, Elizabeth, the FDA advisory board just voted to recommend a booster shot for some Americans. Tell us more.

COHEN: So the recommendation that they're looking at now is age-based. And so over a certain age, people will be able to get boosters is what it's looking like. This is all just coming together.

I think that if that's what they end up doing, if the recommendation is age-based, I think that is very much in keeping with what I have heard from sources, which is there's not a lot of data that says that boosting people who are younger is going to help. Because those people probably would never end up in the hospital boosting people who are older makes more sense. That's what the Israeli data said.

The Israeli data said people 60 and older who got boosted were less likely to end up in the hospital than people that age who did not get booster shots. So I think that an age-related rule is something that, you know, makes some sense here.

TAPPER: Well, just clear this up, if you would, Elizabeth. Has the FDA advisory panel voted on this second recommendation? Or are they just discussing it?

COHEN: So far, I'm actually not exactly sure. I know that this was under discussion. I don't know if the exact vote has happened, but this is in process, all of this is going on as we speak. But we are not surprised that they brought this back as an age-related item.

In other words, before Pfizer was saying we want to give boosters to everyone 16 and older, and they got a lot of persistence to that. The advisers said, wait a second, if you're under age 60, 65 or so, do you really need a booster? You're probably fine with just those two shots. Now, you could say younger people need to have boosters as well

because then they won't get infected and spread it to older people. But that argument's a little bit harder to make. It is relatively easy to make the argument, especially with the Israeli data in hand saying, look, when Israel gave boosters to older people, those older people tended to end up in the hospital less. So, this is being considered by the committee. I don't know that we have a vote in yet.

TAPPER: All right. We're going to have more on this later in the show. Elizabeth, thanks so much.

Concern among the Capitol police about some of their fellow officers' behavior on January 6th. What new documents reveal, next.



TAPPER: In our national lead, Capitol Police this afternoon trying to reassure the public that they are prepared for any possible scenario including violence ahead of tomorrow's right-wing protest at the U.S. Capitol in support of the violent criminal mob that attacked the Capitol and police.

Criminals to whom Donald Trump said recently they were being persecuted unfairly. The U.S. Capitol police reinstalled new fencing around the U.S. Capitol complex, including concrete barriers. The D.C. police department has been fully activated. And TSA ramped security at D.C.'s airport.

In addition, today, the secretary of defense approved a plan for 100 D.C. National Guard members to be stationed just a few miles away from the Capitol ready to deploy, if needed. Police expect fewer than 700 people to rally in support of those arrested for participating in the January 6 violent insurrection.

But as CNN's Ryan Nobles reports for us now, the Capitol police says even though they're only expecting 700, they are not taking any chances.



CHIEF TOM MANGER, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: The leadership of the U.S. Capitol police department has been preparing, working to ensure that we don't have a repeat of January 6th.

NOBLES: The U.S. Capitol police are preparing for the worst, establishing a massive security presence.

MANGER: We're not going to tolerate violence and we will not tolerate criminal behavior of any kind. The American public and the members of Congress have an expectation that we protect the Capitol.


And I'm confident with the plan we have in place that we're going to be able to meet that expectation.

NOBLES: This security presence is akin to that of a major event like the State of the Union or inauguration. It includes a massive security fence that wraps around the entire Capitol. An all-hands-on-deck force of officers, backup from local police and the national guard, and specific training in tabletop exercises for a worst-case scenario. Capitol police chief tom manger says he and his leadership team took time to meet with each individual officer to make sure they were ready, especially those who are on the front lines on January 6th.

MANGER: We're trying to get in front of every single police officer in the U.S. Capitol police department. And the reason was to brief them on our plan, and the whole purpose behind that was to instill confidence that the department has prepared.

NOBLES: While the Capitol is the focus, law enforcement leaders are also concerned about the city at large. A number of festivals and sporting events are scheduled throughout Washington D.C. and the Metropolitan D.C. police chief promises his officers are prepared.

CHIEF ROBERT J. CONTEE III, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE: We expect it to go on, and people who attend are going to enjoy themselves, we are prepared, we have contingency plans for any possible disruptions.

NOBLES: Chief manger couldn't provide an estimate of how much this massive and quick security scale-up would cost. But said more than anything it was designed to practice for threats bigger than the one they anticipate this weekend. He also predicted this won't be a regular occurrence.

MANGER: I think that we're going to use it when it needs to be used. But 99 percent of the demonstrations we handle are handled without this kind of planning.


NOBLES (on camera): And let's give you an idea of what it's going to look like here tomorrow in Washington D.C. The protest is scheduled to take place just over the reflecting pool behind me. Now, this is right across from the Capitol. And should these protesters attempt to try to get into the Capitol, they would be immediately met with this big black security fence.

And it wraps all the way around the Capitol itself. There will also be an intense human police officer presence here as well. This is something that wasn't here on January 6th. And Capitol police are hoping that's enough of a deterrent to keep everyone safe and secure tomorrow -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, CNN's Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

Also in our national lead, CNN has obtained new documents showing just how concerned some Capitol police officers were about the behavior of their fellow officers on January 6th.

CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider's here with more.

Jessica, this includes someone who believed a Capitol police officer disclosed the secret location where members of Congress were sheltering during the insurrection?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. This was a longtime friend of that officer. They even called the FBI tip line. They later told Capitol police this, saying, I don't want to report a friend of 40 years but he says enough concerning statements that I feel like I need to do this. He's just fallen into this cult and these beliefs, it sent alarm bells off that he would just casually give that info.

So this friend accusing this officer of inflammatory statements, spouting conspiracy theories, but also of telling him in conversation the secret location of these lawmakers that they were whisked away to on January 6th. This was just a conversation among friends. There isn't any allegation that this officer told the rioters that.

But nonetheless this officer has been recommended for discipline by Capitol police. And there were more than a dozen documents that I reviewed here. They have not been made public by Capitol police here. But they really seem to show a department divided in the wake of January 6th. You see an incident where an officer is recommended for discipline after posing for selfies with pro-Trump rioters.

TAPPER: We all saw that, yeah.

SCHNEIDER: Exactly. And I also saw a number of complaints from officers against their fellow officers, saying they didn't do enough to stop the rioters, that maybe they were even sympathetic to the rioters. And then there's one lieutenant who voiced an allegation to this email tip line internally at Capitol police saying that he observed a high-ranking officer telling his other officers not to wear their riot gear, and then also, supposedly, standing back, leaning against the Capitol and not trying to thwart the pro-Trump mob as they tried to enter the Capitol.

Here's what that officer actually wrote in an allegation. He said: I have serious concerns that one of the officers assigned to the Capitol division may have assisted the insurrection attempts through passive inaction. The officer has been a rather vocal in the past for his support for Trump. But little was thought of it until the below examples I observed.

Now, it's unclear based on the documents that I've reviewed whether or not this officer was disciplined at all, but all of these documents really shed light on what was happening inside Capitol police on January 6th, and then in the aftermath, and really do show that this department became somewhat splintered afterward with officers turning on some of their other fellow officers, Jake.


TAPPER: It's just very disturbing.

Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

TAPPER: Now, for breaking news in our world lead. The French government has recalled its ambassador to the United States. The government of France is angry with the U.S. after the Biden White House announced a national security partnership with the United Kingdom and Australia to counter the rising threat from China.

CNN's Melissa Bell joins me now live from Paris.

Melissa, why are the French upset? How unprecedented is this move?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, this is the kind of move that is normally reserved for adversaries, not for allies. This is the very week when France was looking to celebrate the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Chesapeake that had ultimately led to American independence in which France had taken part, much more muted celebration as a result.

Essentially here in France, it isn't simply the many billions of euros that the submarine deal with Australia that it lost it's caused. It is much more for Europe. What it means that they hadn't even heard about it until they heard about it on live TV Wednesday night.

The president of the European Commission had gone with the state of the union that day just to speak about how Europe is united. It want to be a major player on the world stage. That really stole her thunder. It wasn't just about the money to the French. It is actually in the end about the snub to Europe in general.

No one in Europe had been informed of the fact that that deal would be dropped and that that new alliance would be created. And I think that has ruffled a lot of feathers. The lack of communication -- in fact, the French foreign minister went as far as to say this is the kind of lack of warning and of change of mind that we expected under the Trump administration that we had not expected under the Biden administration.

And it plays into fears that Europe has had these last few weeks over, for instance, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, that in terms of dealing with allies, they expected the United States would come back. And they now understand that it will not.

The idea that both the U.S. ambassador to France and -- sorry, the French ambassador to the U.S. and the French ambassador to Australia will be recalled. I think it's a sign of just how badly Europeans had taken this.

TAPPER: President Biden was elected promising to restore these alliances. It seems to be not living up to that.

Melissa Bell in Paris, thank you so much.

Now to our national lead -- right now, almost 1,300 migrants mostly from Haiti are sheltering under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, straining the already broken U.S. immigration system.

This is a, quote, humanitarian crisis on steroids according to Republican Congressman Tony Gonzalez who represents the border town, a sentiment echoed by his fellow Republicans who insist Biden's mixed messages are the reason for the highest number of border encounters in 21 years.

CNN's Rosa Flores is at the border talking to these undocumented migrant families camping in the 100-degree heat while they wait to be processed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sky condition, clear.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, all these people just crossed?


FLORES: This is hundreds of people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it's not hundreds. It's thousands.

FLORES (voice-over): This stretch of the U.S. southern border is raising eyebrows.

Have you ever seen anything like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing. This is (INAUDIBLE) we've ever seen down here.

FLORES: Migrants, mostly Haitians say officials crossing the Rio Grande into Del Rio, Texas, from Mexico.

We can see at least three different spots where migrants are crossing over into the United States.

Men, women, children flocking to the area under the international bridge that connects Texas to Mexico.

You can see the people are starting to wash their clothes and dry it on the fence.

Where more than 12,000 migrants are waiting to get processed by federal immigration authorities according to the Del Rio mayor.

This couple from Venezuela says they spent two days under the bridge with their 4-year-old son, sleeping in the dirt.

So, on the dirt, you were sleeping on the dirt.

They say they're fleeing political persecution and break down crying describing the toughest part of being under the bridge. She's explaining that she would tell her son that the family was camping so that he didn't worry.

MAYOR BRUNO LOZANO (D), DEL RIO, TEXAS: Border patrol is unfortunately strained to its limit, beyond limit now.

FLORES: The local mayor, a Democrat, pleading for the Biden administration to boost resources, saying that at the current rate, it will take two weeks to process these migrants. And signs they're having to settle in are visible from the air. A makeshift camp is going up, and the mayor says at least one woman has given birth.

Most of the migrants will be expelled or placed in removal proceedings, say federal authorities, who also say more resources are coming and that it's already providing water, towels, and portable toilets.

Buses like this one with dozens of people are dropped off at this migrant shelter every day.


TIFFANY BURROW, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, VAL VERDE BORDER HUMANITARIAN COALITION: My concern is the spread of COVID and how that affects our country.

FLORES: This group is asked if they're vaccinated against COVID. About half the adults raise their hands. Some holding proof they got the shots.

All this as the Department of Homeland Security faces a series of challenges, including more than 200,000 migrant encounters last month. The abrupt resignation of two top DHS officials, the Afghan resettlement effort, and now this sudden spike of migrants in Del Rio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people are desperate, they're determined, and they're determined to get here.

FLORES: As the humanitarian crisis unfolding at the southern border of the United States.


FLORES (on camera): The Del Rio mayor issued a disaster declaration today, he says so that he can get access to more city resources. And, Jake, to get a better sense of what's going on under that bridge, I asked for an interview with Customs and Border Protection, a ride- along. They say that those weren't granted. So in lieu of that, I sent a list of questions so that we can get a better sense. Those emails have not been responded to -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Rosa Flores trying to get answers for us on the border for the United States. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

We're following breaking news. The FDA advisory board voting against recommending booster shots for most Americans. But voting yes when it comes to recommending boosters for a smaller group. Well, who does that include? That's ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TAPPER: Topping our pop culture lead, our colleague Anderson Cooper is opening up about his family history in a new book, specifically about his mother's side of the family, the famed Vanderbilt. The book is called "Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty". It comes out next week on September 21st.

And Anderson Cooper joins me now.

Anderson, you and I were just going through the photos of the book and you -- each story for each one of the photos was just amazing. Yeah, no, it's incredible.

I have to say you have not really embraced talking about the Vanderbilts for a great deal of your life. You didn't want to be associated with it. You felt squeamish about it being part of it.

So, what made you decide to write this great book?

ANDERSON COOPER, AUTHOR, "VANDERBILT": Yeah, I'm actually even uncomfortable kind of talking about it now. But, you know, I wanted to -- I didn't want to be associated with it because I kind of thought no good could come about it. And I didn't really know much about them. My mom never really talked about it when I was growing up.

And I kind of wanted -- I didn't want myself to walk into a room and have that be what people knew about me because when you hear that name Vanderbilt, there are all sorts of obvious associations that come with it. And I really didn't want those associations relating to me.

But having, you know, my mom dying, and then having my son, I realize, I didn't know what I would tell him about the Vanderbilts. And so, I started reading all these letters my mom had stored away in boxes from her Aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, and her mother and father.

And I sort of heard the voices of these people for the first time. I had always viewed them as kind of ghosts who were kind of mysterious and from another world. And I wanted to be able to have this book that it really is kind of a letter to my son about who these people were and this extraordinary history, this extraordinary of America, this extraordinary history of a family, which the first one came here as an indentured servant.

You know, Cornelius Vanderbilt, who's this -- has a mania for making money from the time he's 11 years old and drops out of school, makes -- dies in 1877 with more money than anybody had ever seen before, $100 million. And within two generations and three generations all the palaces that they built with that money, all of it was essentially torn down.

And much of it has just disappeared. I think it's a fascinating story about the rise and fall of this American dynasty. TAPPER: Well, that's the thing. After Cornelius, he had William and he

doubled the family fortune. But at the heart of the book it's about the rise and fall of an American family because the money was made, and then so much of the fortune was squandered.

I want to read a quote that really jumped out at me. Quote, no one can make money evaporate into thin air like a Vanderbilt, unquote. Reading about the ways that your ancestors spent the money, the parties, the mansions, just jaw-dropping.

COOPER: Yeah, it's extraordinary. The son of the commodore had $100 million in 1877. He doubled it to $230 million in just eight years. And then subsequent generations went on this kind of spending spree because at that time the Vanderbilts were like the new Vel Reis (ph), un-couth. The commodore was hard-drinking, he died, in part, syphilis.

So, he wasn't part of New York society, but in order to break into New York society, the Vanderbilts went on this spending spree, building palaces, and they became -- they're now thought of as kind of this old money family. At the time, they were these new money aravice (ph) who were shunned.

But they built these palaces. They threw these parties. And they became New York society. And it's really interesting to me to kind of chart the personal lives of these people in key moments throughout their lives, in key moments in American history. And that's what the book is.

TAPPER: The book is "Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty." It comes out next week. Congratulations, Anderson.

And what a great gift to Wyatt, what a fantastic thing to hand down to him.


COOPER: Yeah, I want him to be able to know who these people were and to chart his own course.

TAPPER: Awesome.

All right, well, congratulations. Good to see you, my friend.

Coming up, a key FDA just voted to recommend booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine, but only for some people. So what happens now? The breaking news, next.


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

This hour, one of the ten house Republicans who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year will not run for re-election, partly because of what he says is the cancer in the Republican Party, a cancer he calls Donald Trump. Plus, a missing woman and a silent fiance. Gabby Petito's family and

police are pleading for her partner to tell them what does he know as investigators say he is withholding critical information about her disappearance.

And leading this hour, a stunning twist today in the battle over booster shots. A key FDA panel just voted to recommend an additional Pfizer dose, but only for those who are 65 years and older or high- risk. Earlier, the panel voted against recommending Pfizer boosters for everyone, for those ages 16 and up who are already vaccinated, which is what the Biden administration wanted.

The FDA advisory panel votes three days before the White House wanted to roll out the third shots.

Let's go to CNN's Phil Mattingly over at the White House.

And, Phil, the Biden administration has been trying to push back on the notion that even their talk about boosters put any sort of pressure on the scientists, but there are a lot of folks who disagree.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There's no question about it. And it's really caused a lot of tension from the interagency side of things. The FDA and the CDC to spill out into the public, something that's been a serious point of frustration for White House officials over the course of the last several weeks.

Now, keep in mind what the White House's public health advisers and the president himself announced on august 18th was that every adult American would be eligible for a booster shot within eight months after their first shot come the week of September 20th.