Return to Transcripts main page

Don Lemon Tonight

Search And Rescue Operations In Collapse Continuing Tonight; Structural Engineer Hired To Begin Examining Evidence; Interview With Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA); Northwest Heat Wave, Current Temperatures Reaching 100 Degrees; William Barr Says Trump's Election Fraud Claims Were All Bullshit; 2018 Engineering Report Warned Of Major Structural Damage; NFL Supports LGBTQ Americans. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired June 28, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): Rescue teams discovering another body today in the rubble of a collapsed condo building in Florida. Eleven people now confirmed dead, 150 others remain unaccounted for. The search and rescue operation continuing at this hour.

And also tonight, as President Biden calls for a federal investigation into the deadly collapse, the town of Surfside, Florida hiring a structural engineer to begin examining the evidence to get to the bottom of the disaster. And it turns out an engineering firm wrote a report on the building, this was back in 2018, warning of major structural damage, including significant cracks and breaks in the concrete, and advising the condo association to make extensive and necessary repairs.

Let's get to CNN's Boris Sanchez in Surfside Florida for us live this evening. Boris, good evening to you. It has now been 117 hours since the Surfside Condo collapse. Search and rescue teams have been scrambling to find any survivors. But no one's been pulled out alive since Thursday. So how are families dealing with this?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Don, it's agonizing. They're in a state of excruciating limbo. They're anxiously awaiting any answers to a series of questions. What happened to their loved ones? Are there any signs of life, are there any survivors?

And then they're thinking about accountability as well. Could this have been prevented? What exactly caused this? Did someone know that something like this could happen? Is someone going to be held responsible?

It is very difficult to move forward and begin the process of grieving when you don't know what actually happened to your loved one and also when officials here are putting out a message of hope, trying to keep hope alive. Part of that is the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, continuously repeating the idea that this is still a search and rescue operation. She made that clear during a press briefing today. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: So we have people waiting and waiting and waiting for news. That is excruciating. We have them coping with the news that they might not have their loved ones come out alive, and still hope against hope that they will.

They're learning that some of their loved ones will come out as body parts. I mean, this is the kind of information that is just excruciating for everyone. And they know that we're working around the clock on the search and rescue efforts.


SANCHEZ: Now, the reason that rescue crews have this hope is because they have experience dealing with situations like this in the past, where they have been able to rescue people, six, seven days after a collapse. So they don't want people to lose hope. But when you look at the odds, and you look at these pictures, the families of 150 people right now witnessing this, facing staggering odds, it's just impossible to put yourself in their shoes and understand the pain that they're feeling right now, Don.

LEMON: Yeah. That is for certain. Boris, I have to ask you, I spoke with the commissioner earlier, the Surfside commissioner earlier in the 10:00 hour and asked her about when will this turn into a -- instead of -- a recovery effort rather than a search and rescue effort. She had no idea. Do you have any idea, is anyone talking about that?

SANCHEZ: No. I think officials here are being very delicate about making that distinction between a rescue effort and a recovery effort. They don't want to let these folks down. The rescue workers here, we've talked to officials over and over again about the stress that they must be feeling, braving the elements, risking their own lives to try to make a miracle real.

They don't want to let these folks down. They're still working around the clock. We've seen heavy machinery being moved in even at this hour. Despite that, at some point this obviously will move into a phase of recovery.

And obviously the implication there is that, you know, there are no signs of life. There are no other survivors. They want to be very delicate about moving in that direction. And at this point they are pushing the fact that this is still a search and recovery effort and that these families should keep hope.


LEMON: Yes. Search and rescue. Thank you very much, Boris, I appreciate that.

Engineers are trying to figure out exactly what caused the Surfside Condo to collapse. It may take months to get the answer. But evidence of structural damage already piling up. Here is CNN's Drew Griffin. (BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As new evidence emerges of past inspections, cracks, and potential danger, this short surveillance camera video itself remains the best clue so far as to how and why the Champlain tower south fell in what forensic engineer Joel Figueroa-Vallines calls a clean collapse.

JOEL FIGUEROA-VALLINES, FORENSIC ENGINEER SEP ENGINEERS: There was a pancake effect, so it was almost symmetric and vertical. And what that causes is the structure to come straight down instead of collapsing sideways or collapsing in any other trajectory, which would mean that whatever caused it, which is unknown at this point, would have caused this structure to have a clean, vertical collapse of those towers.

GRIFFIN: But while engineers continue to speculate from afar, in reality the answer lies, like the victims, trapped under rubble. The 40 year old structure was due for massive repairs. An alarming 2018 inspection report warned of abundant cracking in concrete columns and several instances of deteriorating rebar, especially on the condo's pool deck and in the parking structure garage underneath the building.

According to the report, failed waterproofing was causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slabs below the pool deck and entrance drive. As dire as it may sounds, several engineers CNN spoke with say the 2018 report did not foresee a catastrophic collapse. And minutes from the condominium association board meeting the following month shows that a town official told residents it appears the building is in very good shape.

Champlain towers south was in the process of recertification, a Miami- Dade County government structural and electrical assessment of any building 40 years old. According to the condominium association attorney, the building had multiple inspections and was in the process of extensive work which would have cost $15 million. Structural Engineer Jason Borden examined Champlain tower just last year.

JASON BORDEN, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER, SURVEYED SURFSIDE CONDO BUILDING IN 2020: I saw typical things like we typically see when we are looking at buildings, when we are preparing to this type of investigation or study. I saw cracks in the stucco facade, I saw deterioration of the concrete balconies. I saw cracks in the deterioration of the garage and plaza level. But those are all things that we're accustomed to seeing. And that's why our job exists.

GRIFFIN: Any cause for alarm in what you saw?

BORDEN: In what I saw, no.

GRIFFIN: The lack of alarm is now sending chills through residents and other aging building s along this beach and beyond. Inspection underway. Voluntary evacuations for the Champlain's tower's sister building and a rush to find the answer to why this building just fell. Forensic engineering caution that answer could yet be months away. Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


LEMON: Drew, thank you so much for that.

Urgent work is now happening in other buildings in Florida to make sure that they're not at risk of collapsing. CNN's Brian Todd had a chance to look at the new inspections under way.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Municipalities on the Florida coast are scrambling tonight to make sure the kind of collapse that happened in Surfside doesn't happen to them. CNN got exclusive access to the re-inspection and repairs going on at the Winston Towers complex in Sunny Isles Beach, just a few miles north of Surfside. We saw worried residents complaining about the red tape.

UNKNOWN: We didn't get marching orders for 40 years (inaudible).

TODD: There are seven buildings in this complex, each either the same age or older than the condo that collapsed in Surfside, each more than 20 stories tall with at least 250 units in every building. Inspectors show us the damage inside the parking garage right under the pool deck, a layout similar to Champlain tower's complex.

UNKNOWN: Similar design.

TODD: The pool water drained for this repair. There are columns and concrete floors cracking, rusted rebar and cables that support the concrete. Inspector Robert Conde looks at a support column that needs repair.

When you look at this now, given what happened at Champlain, how big a concern is this?

ROBERT CONDE, INSPECTOR: It's a big concern.

TODD: Why?

CONDE: Because it could fail and people could die.

TODD: These inspectors emphasize this is normal wear and tear for buildings like this and it doesn't mean the building is in imminent danger of collapse. Still, the work will have to be done to prevent a repeat of the Surfside collapse. A contractor points to something he's concerned about.

CONDE: The chlorine from the pool has deteriorated the reinforcing and the post tension cable in these areas. So that's why we have a massive repair underneath this pool.

TODD: And Sunny Isles Beach Vice Mayor Larisa Svechin points out, if the owners of each unit who have to pay for repairs.

UNKNOWN: These buildings are up against a huge assessment potentially up to $25,000 apiece.


These is where our families live and middle class or working class, the people that are working in the restaurants, all the kids that go to the school, all the kids that would normally use this pool. These people are not in a situation where they are able to afford that kind of money.

TODD: Brian Todd, CNN, Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.


LEMON: All right. Brian, thank you. Joining me is the former FDNY commissioner Thomas von Essen, he was commissioner during the September 11th terror attacks. Commissioner, thank you for joining us here. We really appreciate you and the expertise that you have in such matters, because you went through a rescue and recovery just like this for 9/11, just on a much bigger scale. The conditions for these rescuers are incredibly tough. What challenges are they facing as they look for these survivors?

THOMAS VON ESSEN, FORMER FDNY COMMISSIONER (on camera): Well, the emotions being one. As time goes by, it becomes really kind of depressing for them to have not found anybody, and not even to find remains. I think I'm surprised that they haven't found more fatalities, at least, even if we haven't been fortunate enough to find any survivors. I'm hoping that it's because a lot of those folks that we think of are missing just went home, they live in another country and they haven't contacted us for one reason or another.

I just hope that not all 150 people -- and I doubt very much there's that many people in that collapse. That's my hope. But what the rescuers are running into now is the same thing that we ran into on September 11th. As you say, on a much smaller scale. If they rush, they are in danger of moving heavy pieces of concrete or steel. Or too much fire, too much water. There's a potential of drowning somebody who might be caught down there and still alive.

So there are so many ways that they can make it worse, exacerbate the situation that that person is in, waiting to be rescued. So they have to go slow, deliberate. There's 250 people working on it right now. You can't have any more than that.

They have heavy equipment, trying to slowly move the extra heavy pieces of equipment, of concrete and steel. So they're doing everything they possibly can, as methodically and as professionally as possible.

LEMON: Let's talk about everything they're doing, and then perhaps you can add to what you're saying, because we've seen these huge cranes lifting giant slabs off the rubble pile. Dogs have been looking for signs of life. Professional rescue teams have come in from Israel and from Mexico.

How many different methods do these rescuers have to try to reach people who may be trapped here? Because they've got a lot of resources. But still, as you said, haven't found a lot of people alive, they haven't been able to remove a lot of the rubble here. So how many different methods or resources do they have?

VON ESSEN: Well, the easiest way to do it would be to just bring in all the heavy equipment and just push all of that concrete and steel out of the way and look for remains of people that have died. But because they are still hoping that there's people alive, they don't want to move all that steel like that, they don't want it to shift, they don't want the weigh to slide across on top of someone who might be alive.

So they're trying with all the latest technology. They have all kinds of electronic equipment. They have the dogs, as you mentioned. There's sonar, there's so many new things that have come since September 11th that allow them to penetrate the steel without doing any damage. They've gotten equipment from NASA.

They've had the sonar. There's ways of listening to sound. They have audio equipment, they can hear any kind of movement, not necessarily the sound of a human but the sound that's created by something that might give a hint to -- you know, that someone might still be alive or at least it's a void that they should try to go through.

Underneath that pile where you see a lot of men and women standing around or just moving slowly, there's people digging tunnels, and trying to find crawling into holes that are small and very dangerous, because if it shifts, the rescuer can be crushed. So they shore it up as they go through it.

They are just -- and as professional engineers and structural engineers, professional engineers, doctors on the scene, EMS people ready to help anybody that needs it as quickly as possible is really that you saw concept, the urban search and rescue concept that has been developed since September 11th or probably since Oklahoma city, there's probably 28 teams from around the country, I think Florida has three of its own, that whole concept has been a phenomenal source of professionalism for all the rescues that are necessary throughout the country and throughout other countries also that we've gone to help.

LEMON: So let's talk about this, because you said, you know, they're going into holes, and they're moving stuff around. But even if they do find someone who is trapped, right, it still may not be easy, to probably won't be easy getting too them. I mean, there is a lot involved, if they find someone who is trapped, trying to move the debris or the rubble around in order to be able to get to them safely or get them out safely.


VON ESSEN: Don, there is nothing easy about this whole operation. As you hear so many of your viewers are talking about, they're not getting enough information, they're not getting this, they're not getting that. It's one of those situations where you're not going to -- it's kind of a no-win. Until you find somebody and you're able to get them out, that's the only win.

Everything else is just the inevitable time that you take to try to get to that point where you have a resolution. And even a resolution, we saw it on September 11th, people are grieving, they're sad, they're crying, and then they're angry, they'll be angry at the inspectors or the people who didn't do what they should have done in their opinion over the course of time to maintain the building.

They'll be angry at the officials for not preventing this from happening. It's just a natural course of events. And there's no solution to it. It has to just be played out. And it's very sad, and people will criticize those that are making this valiant effort. But a lot of the criticism, most of it in my opinion, will not be valid.

LEMON: Commissioner Von Essen, thank you very much, we spent so much time with you during 9/11 and here we are again. And we appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

VON ESSEN: You're welcome.

LEMON: And for ways that you can help Surfside building collapse victims, please go to, stay on the bottom of your screen.

So the northwest has never seen temperatures like this. 115 degrees in Portland today. So hot that power cables melted, suspending service for the day. 107 degrees in Seattle. I'm going to ask Governor Jay Inslee what the heck is going on.



LEMON: So a record breaking heat wave crippling the Pacific Northwest. Portland, Oregon hitting a scorching 115 degrees today. Seattle, Washington, 107 degrees. Parts of Washington State reportedly even reaching 118 degrees, which the Seattle National Weather Service says would tie the state temperature record from 1961 if that is confirmed. OK.

It's usually in the 70s in the area at this time of year. So, I want to discuss now with Washington Governor Jay Inslee. Governor, wow, wow, wow.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA) (on camera): Good evening.

LEMON: Good evening to you. This is a lot to bear for people who are living in that area. You've been a leader in the push to, you know, addressing the dangers of climate change. But did you ever expect to see Seattle at 107 degrees in June in 2021?

INSLEE: We knew this was going to happen some year. The science is very clear on this. I and so many others have been trying to arouse our nation to an effort against climate change. And now we're here. The opening act has arrived of a climate catastrophe.

And we're getting it in the Pacific Northwest right now. I-5, some lanes buckled. We had to shut down lanes of our interstate through Seattle today. We have thousands of people without power, as you point out. Sometimes lines just melted. But I think the important lesson for the Pacific Northwest is we're

getting ours tonight but everybody is going to get it. Sea level rise in Florida is going to flood people and who knows what damage it's going to cause. The Tundra is melting in Alaska. Where the whole villages are melt into the Tundra.

California is just as an explosive tinder box that has gone off several times in the last several years. Everyone will is going to get hit by this climate catastrophe. We're facing it tonight. It hurts. It stinks. I hate to think of people having heat stroke tonight and people drowning who have been trying to escape the heat. That's why I'm very hopeful that Congress will final act and pass a reconciliation bill that will tackle climate change.

LEMON: Yeah. I've got to tell you, people in your state, really, a lot of people aren't used to, wherever you are, but people in your state especially, aren't used to this type of heat. Seattle is actually the least air conditioned metro area in the country, only 44 percent of homes have ac. Are you there, did you lose your earpiece?

I think his earpiece fell out. Governor, if you can hear me, if your earpiece is back in? OK. So we lost him. But again, this heat wave, very serious. Look at the temperatures, it's 300 plus, I think records will be set in the coming days because of the heat. I mean, you've got roads buckling and electric lines melting, in a place that's usually 70 degrees right now, and now it's in the 100s, in the 90s. Look at this, Seattle streetcar. This is from Twitter. But this is an electric line melting. So there we go.

More to come on this and more, right after this break.



LEMON: OK. So we got Governor Jay Inslee of Washington back. Governor, thank you. I knew you had dropped your earpiece, because when I saw it come out, and I said can you hear me. I stopped my question, but so let me ask you again. We were talking about the record temperatures in your state and the lack of air conditioning there. Only 44 percent of homes in Seattle have ac. So, what are residents doing to keep safe?

INSLEE: Well, we're trying to help each other, of course. Neighbors are helping neighbors. We have opened up quite a number of cooling centers. We've expanded our capacity. And we had COVID restrictions on capacity on some of these centers. But we've set those aside, so we can get more people into cooling centers. People are trying to get in the water physically, and unfortunately we've had several drownings in part as a result.

So we're doing what we can do. But I think the fact is, though, is, look, this problem of climate change can't be solved by air conditioners. It would be like sort of, you know, trying to win World War II with air raid bunkers.

[23:30:00] INSLEE: We have to attack the source of this problem because this climate is changing so fast in my state. It is hurting the fundamental aspects of our culture and our economy.

I talked to a couple of farmers here. They are just terror-stricken they're going to lose their crop this year because of this heat. The forest product industry is suffering because of forest fires. Our shellfish industry, we have not been able to grow baby oysters in Puget Sound without treating the water because of ocean acidification.

You can't run from climate change. You have to challenge it and defeat it, which means building a clean energy economy.

I'm proud of my state. We've now adopted the most ambitious, the most aggressive, the most robust climate change, clean energy job, creating programs in the United States. It's a model for the rest of the country.

We need Congress to adopt the same measures we have in our state.


LEMON: Will this be part of infrastructure? Because, look, I'm sure -- are you dealing with rolling blackouts and all that stuff because that happens? And I'm wondering --

INSLEE: We are.

LEMON: -- if we should start tacking --

INSLEE: We are.

LEMON: -- if people should start tacking this, you know, maybe with some infrastructure, this new -- whatever they're trying to do with infrastructure.

INSLEE: Yes. Yes, we need to make our grid more robust. We need to make sure renewable energy can be tied into it. But since you mentioned infrastructure, there is a danger right now in our nation's capital. If we only do roads and bridges and we don't do clean cars and clean electrical grid and energy efficiency in our buildings, it would have been an enormous opportunity, really our last opportunity, squandered to save ourselves.

So this is very imperative that Congress and the president buckle down and make sure that if this bipartisan infrastructure deal goes through, a reconciliation bill also goes through, it will be a real climate bill. And I've heard some senators say no climate, no deal. I think that's an appropriate approach.

We have to have, in this infrastructure package or reconciliation package or both, a meaningful, strong climate proposal to get on top of this problem. It is absolutely imperative and we all ought to be talking to our members of Congress about this subject.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, I know it sounds trite, but stay cool, and we appreciate you joining us.


LEMON: No, I'm serious. Look, I grew up in Louisiana. It's hot as hell in August, and it's humid. I can't imagine when it's dry. You guys aren't used to that. We're used to that.


LEMON: We were built for that.

INSLEE: This is -- this is -- this is not a -- this is not a June deal in the Evergreen State, right?

LEMON: Yeah.

INSLEE: This is a whole different deal.

LEMON: It's a whole another show.

INSLEE: And we got to get on top of it.

LEMON: Thank you, governor. Thank you. I appreciate it.

INSLEE: Thank you.

LEMON (on camera): So I want to turn now to the former attorney general, Bill Barr. He says that he is a suspect -- he suspected that former President Trump's claimd of widespread election fraud were -- and these are his words -- all BS. He used the actual word.

The former A.G. also says that he is not aware of any discrepancies in the 2020 election. So I want you to listen what he told ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl. Here it is.




BARR (voice-over): You know I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all (bleep).

You can tell me all you want to about, you know, this could have been hacked or, you know, whatever. But it's a counting machine. And we save everything that was counted. So you just reconcile the two. There's a pile right there. How many ballots? A thousand.

KARL (voice-over): Right.

BARR (voice-over): Now, let's see who they're for. There's been no discrepancy reported anywhere that's, that's looked at that and I'm still not aware of any discrepancy.


LEMON (on camera): I mean, and that's it. Thank you, guys, for joining us. Good night.


LEMON: There is John Avlon and Elie Honig. Elie Honig wrote the book called "Hatchet Man: How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutor's Code and Corrupted the Justice Department."

So, I mean, Elie, he said it. I mean, you're not -- but you're not buying what Barr is selling. Why?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, AUTHOR: Here's a question I would have liked to ask Bill Barr if I had a chance to sit down with him, which by the way, Don, he declined to sit with me several times for my book.

OK, Mr. Former Attorney General, you knew this was all B.S. like you said. Why did you embrace it for months leading up to the election, when the public was still impressionable? Why did you fan the flames of the big lie?

Why did you go on NPR and lie so that NPR after the interview had to issue an article entitled, NPR let the attorney general tell a falsehood on air? That's pretty bad. Why did you go in front of Congress and lie about the big lie? Why did you come on CNN and lie to Wolf Blitzer about the big lie?

This is spin control by Bill Barr but it's not even effective because it's so easy to refute the nonsense that he's trying to put out now.

LEMON: Yeah. Why didn't he do it when he actually had a bigger megaphone? And now it is over.


LEMON: So, John, Barr first -- he finally -- first finally admitted that there was no widespread election fraud right before he resigned. After that, Jon Karl reports that the former president yelled at Barr, saying, you must hate Trump.


LEMON: Yeah, refers to himself in the third person.


LEMON: Is that more proof that Trump saw the attorney general as his own personal attorney, didn't understand what an actual attorney general was and Barr certainly, you know, obliged in that?

AVLON: Yes, of course. I mean, you know, he saw the attorney general as his own personal lawyer, the Justice Department as his own team of hatchet men as Elie says, his military as "my generals." You know, you take a step back here and what you see and how history is going to record this is, we had a mad king for a time, who tried to overthrow an election in the United States of America, and there was a cult of personality around him being enabled by people like his chief of staff, who tried to aid that effort.

And that is why all -- whether it's a rehab tour or not, we need the full truth to come out. We need to confront people with that truth consistently, because there can be no compromise with lies and that's what they've been peddling for too long.

So, even if it's a rehab tour conversion, I'll take it only to confront folks with the truth without absolving them for the lies that some of these folks did when they were in office at Trump's behest.

LEMON: Lies. What are you talking about? What are you talking about?

AVLON: Lies.

LEMON: People lied in the Trump administration?


LEMON: Shocking.

AVLON: Come on.


LEMON: John, there's a new reporting also from The Wall Street Journal, Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender's new book obtained by Axios. His reporting says that Trump wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act to put General Mark Milley in charge of a military campaign inside the country to suppress last summer's racial justice protests.

Trump yelled at Milley that he was -- quote -- "f-ing in charge" and Milley fired back that he was not. Trump has denied to Axios, duh, that it happened. What does this new reporting tell us?

AVLON: Look, also Trump denied that he and his aides were discussing the insurrection at the time, which just shows how seriously you should treat any denial by Donald Trump at any point.

It's just one more sign of how serious what was going on behind the scenes was all throughout the election year. The president of the United States calling for invoking the Insurrection Act to crack down on peaceful protesters and has to be lectured by the joint chief of staff to say they're bunch of lawyers in this room, why didn't you tell what I can do under the law and what I can?

And this -- you know, we had a president who wanted to deploy the U.S. military illegally to -- quote -- "crack the skulls" of peaceful protesters in the streets of America.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, Elie, the former president, Barack Obama, was, you know -- he is talking about future elections and attempts to overturn them. He is sounding the alarm, saying, you know, what's going to happen.

What do you think could happen in 2024, 2022, and beyond -- and beyond if, you know, these laws that are in 22 states -- excuse me, these 22 sets of laws that have been enacted in states where legislatures can overturn the election or give it to whatever candidate they think is right, that they want to win, what happens?

HONIG: It's really important that former President Obama is drawing attention to this issue because it's really dire when it comes to our fundamental rights to vote.

I mean, there's only really two ways to combat, to fight back against these restrictive state laws. One is Congress, the United States Senate and House. They're not going to have their act together. They're not going to overcome the filibuster. Democrats don't have the numbers. Democrats don't have the willpower. I think it's foolhardy to count on that.

So the other key is going to be through the courts, through litigation, through lawsuits. This past week, we saw the Justice Department announced that it would be filing suit against the Georgia legislation. Now, that's really important. I think it signals that DOJ has changed course and that they'll be challenging some of these other states.

But also understand that's an uphill climb. DOJ has to show that there was purposeful discrimination behind these lawsuits. They do a good job in the complaint. But again, you don't have anybody out there saying let's pass these laws so we can discriminate. You have to sort of look at the stats and read between the lines. But it's really important that DOJ is taking up this fight.

LEMON: My goodness. Every election can't be like this one. Oh my, gosh, this is going to be nuts. I don't know if I have the stomach for it.


LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it.

A 2018 report said that there was -- quote -- "major structural damage." Three years later, the building is a pile of rubble right now. We're going to look at what could have caused it. That's next.

Plus, the NFL comes out during Pride Month. The NFL comes out during Pride Month. I'm going to explain. You got to see their new ad.




LEMON (on camera): Tonight, as President Joe Biden calls for a federal investigation into the collapse of the condo tower, the town of Surfside, Florida is hiring a structural engineer to begin looking for answers. And a report by an engineering firm back in 2018 warned of major structural damage, including significant cracks and breaks in the building's concrete.

More from CNN's Tom Foreman. Tom?


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don. All eyes are focused on this 2018 inspection and report about this property, which found major structural damage and abundant cracking and spalling of the concrete.


FOREMAN: This is a term some people refer to as concrete cancer. It happens a lot in human environments and salty environments. And there's a lot of concern about it.

Beyond that, there was concern about water seals on the building. The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially. Again, a reference to that concrete cancer people talk about there.

How much would it cost to have done the repairs? It is just over $9 million in 2018. Yet that same year, there was a meeting with people tied to the condo and a city official there in which the city official said it appears the building is in very good shape.

There was a lot of questions about why that was said, what the reaction was to it, especially in light of this report being out there.

And these were not the only concerns, by the way. There have also been concerns in regard to this building. An e-mail about the nearby construction, some people in the building say they felt shaking in the building which alarmed them, and of course we've heard reports of creaks in the building.

Does any of that prove that any of this had anything to do with the collapse? No, it does not. But these are things that absolutely have to be looked at closely by investigators. Don?


LEMON: Right on. Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

I want to bring in now Abieyuwa Aghayere, a professor of structural engineering at Drexel University. Thank you for joining us, professor. I really appreciate it.

You took a look at this 2018 building inspection report that raised concerns about major structural damage to the concrete slab below the pool deck, and cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams, wall of the parking garage. Professor, when you hear that, does this offer clues as to why this building came down?

ABIEYUWA AGHAYERE, PROFESSOR OF STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING, DREXEL UNIVERSITY: The clue it offers is that the engineer should have been given access to check the interior of the building, the slab to column connections, which he never had access for some reason. It showed that deterioration was going on, but he did not check the main towers and check the slab/column connections.

This building is a flat slab construction. So punch and shear, where the slab punches through, you know, the column punches through the slab, that's a common failure mechanism for these types of structures.

If he had been given access to check those column connections to the slab, we would have known whether those were badly deteriorated and whether punch and shear was going to be an imminent failure mechanism for this structure. Because the tower that came down, came down on itself.

LEMON: Mm-hmm.

AGHAYERE: It's almost like a controlled demolition. And, you know, there are several ways that can happen. The column could have failed. Punch and shear could have happened. The foundation could have given way. We also need to check the original design. Was this structure well-designed?

Folks might say that the building has been standing for 40 years. So was the I-35 bridge. It stood for 50 years and collapsed even though that was designed (inaudible). So those are the things that I would check. I mean, this engineer's report was crying out for more investigation into the building in 2018.

LEMON: Professor, you know, you're right about the bridge. And you're right about -- as we looked at that video, we saw the video of this structure, this condo collapsing, pancaked. As you said, almost like a controlled demolition. So when you see the images, the before and after, what stands out to you?

AGHAYERE: What stands out to me is that, like I said, I mentioned those, you know, three possible failure scenarios that could have caused the center portion to collapse.

The thing that stood out to me was the east segment. The east segment of the structure, you know, was looking for bracing, was looking for some lateral bracing. It had none because there was only one wall in the north-south direction in that segment, in that north-east segment of the structure.

Had there been more walls in the east-west direction and in the north- south direction in that segment, we might have been able to at least rescue some people and have that standing for a while. That is the thing that stands out to me.


AGHAYERE: The walls in this structure, what we call the shear walls that are there to resist lateral loads, especially in the east-west direction, I feel there should have been more of those.

LEMON: Thank you, professor. I appreciate you joining us.

AGHAYERE: You're welcome.

LEMON: So the NFL topping off Pride Month by coming out. That's next.



LEMON (on camera): As we close out Pride Month and one week after Carl Nassib of Las Vegas Raiders came out as the NFL's first active player to announce he is gay, now the league is releasing a new video supporting LGBTQ Americans. I want you to take a look at this.




LEMON (on camera): Well, I mean, you know, we have always known football is gay. Have you seen the uniforms and all the padding and -- anyways, it finishes with a message of support from The Trevor Project, an organization that works to prevent suicide in LGBTQ youth. That is the important part of all of this.

So, everyone, happy pride. Thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.