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Americans Among 100+ People Allowed To Leave Kabul Today; Police Request Fencing Be Reinstalled Ahead Of Right-Wing Rally; Trump Endorses Liz Cheney's Opponent In GOP Race; Larry Elder Baselessly Raises Possibility Of Election "Shenanigans". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 09, 2021 - 14:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Today in Kabul, Afghanistan, the first commercial flight took off since the Taliban took over. Roughly 113 people were on board, including American citizens. The U.S. has been pressing the Taliban to allow these departures and blaming the Taliban for keeping many charter flights on the ground. In a statement, the White House calls the Taliban quote, cooperative and says they've shown quote, flexibility.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: CNN's Nic Robertson is in Kabul.

Nic, what do we know first about the flight? And should we expect more?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think the indications are there will be more. Certainly that's what we're hearing from the Qatar is. And I think it was very striking that the Qatar is actually praised the Taliban for their engagement. It's almost as if they're sort of really encouraging them to go down this path of doing the things that are expected over.

So, 113 people on board Americans, British, Germans, Ukrainians, Canadians on there. The British are saying that there were 13 British nationals on board that flight, they took off and flew into Pakistani airspace. We don't know why, but quite likely, because that's the shortest border and perhaps the safest route to go at this time. And then they flew to Doha, where there's a bit where there'll be received, and it is expected that there will be another follow one flight.

So this, a commercial flight, the first international commercial flight from the airport, it's about 90% ready as what we're being told.

CAMEROTA: Nic, it is so good to have you and your crew on the ground back in Kabul, for CNN, for the viewers, we obviously can't see these things firsthand without you. And so, I know that you and your producer just had this experience of driving for hours across parts of Afghanistan. So what is security like now? What's the atmosphere there for journalists and everyone else?

ROBERTSON: So the Taliban really had the towns in the villages locked down tight as a drum. If they see a Western face, they'll stop the vehicle, when they find out you're a journalist, once they understand you're a journalist, and know that you're there, because the authorities, the Taliban, authorities in Kabul say you can be, then they're all smiles and they let you go on their way.

But, you know, what we're not seeing in the towns and villages, many women on the streets, you see them sort of outside the villages. I saw a group of women carrying corn on their heads from the fields and other group of women, all dressed in black, but you're not seeing women in the way that you might used to have seen them in some of these more rural places.

The economy out in the rural areas looks like it's going along just fine. The highways, you know, a busy at this time, but it really feels just an entirely different place. It is odd to go past U.S. bases that I visited before in the past embedded with U.S. forces and to see them with a Taliban flag on them now. That's a stark reminder of where we're at.

BLACKWELL: Talking about that Taliban flag, we know that the leader of NATO has told CNN that he's not comfortable with the new Taliban government and calls it a tragedy. So, has there been some reaction from the Taliban, for the calls to for -- to be more inclusive?

ROBERTSON: There's been pushed back towards the United States specifically, because I think, you know, in the Taliban's mind, it was really the United States that they fought against, that they negotiated with to get to where they are today, and they accused the United States when there's questions raised about the inclusivity that it's not enough -- why there aren't any women. There aren't any other ethnic minorities. There aren't any there isn't anyone from the former government.


The Taliban is saying this breaks the Doha agreement. This is against the Doha agreement that that Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad signed with the Taliban's now Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar back at the beginning of 2020. So Taliban pushing back hard on this one.

BLACKWELL: All right, Nic Robertson for us there in Kabul. Thank you, Nic.

And be sure to join Jake Tapper as he asks the tough questions about "AMERICA'S LONGEST WAR, WHAT WENT WRONG IN AFGHANISTAN?" The CNN Special Report begins Sunday night at 9:00 Easter.

Well, fencing is expected to go back up again around the U.S. Capitol. Its part of the security plan as officials prepare for a right wing rally planned for next week.



BLACKWELL: U.S. Capitol Police are expected to approve reinstalling fencing around the Capitol Building ahead of next week's right wing rally. The event is promoted as a show of support for the insurrectionists charged in January's Capitol riot. And its federal and local law enforcement officials brace for potential violence Capitol Police say they have seen an increase in violent rhetoric online around the event.

CAMEROTA: Joining us now to discuss is CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem and CNN senior law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey.

Great to see both of you.

Juliett, these are people who support the violence and the insurrection from January 6, shouldn't we expect to see more violence on September 18th?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, so I mean and I think that's what we're hearing now is that pre positioning them and it's taking on many forms.

First, it's just these public statements to basically say to the world, we are prepared, we are going to have a show of force, we are not going to be sitting on our hands because we're afraid of a president who's not going to let us do this. We cannot underestimate the extent to which public safety could not act under the former administration, because they were endorsing this violence.

And the second thing that you're least starting to see is Nancy Pelosi calling out before Republican leadership that they have to be well aware of the threat. And they cannot deny that that this threat is coming. In other words, all this -- all the everything that Pelosi is doing is also part of a strategy to get the GOP to pay attention to what they're doing.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And Chief after the insurrection, Speaker Pelosi commissioned this report, to examine some of the, I guess deficits that were within Capitol Police Department. There was a supplemental pass to pay for some things in July. But the intelligence necessary for this department is still lacking. Are you confident that Capitol Police are ready for what's coming next week?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I'm confident only because the chief there Tom Manger, who I've known for many, many years, and who is very experienced, I mean, he's going to be prepared and so will chief county (ph) the Metropolitan Police.

They're not taking this lightly at all. So I think you're going to see a heavy police presence because you not only have to deal with the possibility of another attack on the Capitol, you're going to have counter demonstrators, perhaps it's time show up that and you could have conflict between the people in the rally and counter demonstrators. And we certainly don't want to know the Charlottesville on our hands.

So, there's going to be a heavy police presence on the 18th.

CAMEROTA: But Chief, to Juliette's point that she just made, I mean, what do you think that was learned last time about all that went wrong on January 6, and how law enforcement did feel that their hands were tied that day? And what do you think they'll do differently this time? I mean, other than just have a show of force, will they have different weapons? Will they be positioned in different places?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, I'm sure they have an operations plan, which is not going to be publicly disclosed, that would not make sense to do that. So they'll have a lot of resources and assets, some things you'll see, some things you won't see available to them on the 18th. But I do know that they will not be unprepared and caught off guard like they were on the six. And you also don't have the hurdle of the Sergeant-at-Arms of both the Senate and the House who I think played a key role in the reason why they were so unprepared on the sixth of January.

So, a lot of things have changed. I know they've gotten some equipment in and things of that nature. I am concerned, don't get me wrong. I'm very concerned about the ATF, not just at the Capitol. But this is a day where you could have rallies outside of Washington D.C. and departments need to be aware and need to plan for that. Plus, you still have this guy or woman person who planted this bomb, or two bombs anyway, on the sixth of January and that person is still large.

BLACKWELL: Juliette, let me ask you about this, Andy McCabe said that one of the factors that's leading in the favor of law enforcement is you don't have this sitting president for President Trump, who's now fueling this fire asking people to attend. It's still more than a week away. And it would really be against type for the president, former president not to say something if thousands of his supporters are at the Capitol, so we'll see if that happens.

But how would an endorsement from the former president change this variable change the atmosphere there.


KAYYEM: Well, he's already endorsed it to the extent that he keeps promoting the lie right about the election, because remember, these people are allegedly congregating because they believe that the probe -- what they call a protest on January 6, against the election, the presidential election, that the people being held because of it are political prisoners. So he's already endorsed them, but he has the capacity which he will clearly use to radicalize even more people.

So what we're seeing now is already a counter offense, right, that you're going to deploy resources, you're going to talk publicly about it. All those people that might have been interested or recruited are going to see that this time it's for real that law enforcement is ready.

The one issue I am concerned about, and Chief Ramsey alluded to in terms of operational planning, is because you may have incidents or rallies around the country. One of the things that we need to really focus on is vehicular, the use of vehicles and cars by this insurrectionist in terms of the counter protesters. This is what we saw in Charlottesville is as Chief Ramsey said. We've got to keep cars away from these areas. Because this is, you know, it's a cheap way of harming people. And we've seen it a number of times, including at the Capitol since January 6.

CAMEROTA: Yes, understood. Juliette Kayyem, Charles Ramsey. Thank you both very much. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right, so we're still standing by for this major announcement from the Justice Department expected at about 2:30 running behind now. The challenge is the new abortion law in Texas. We will bring that to you when it starts live.

CAMEROTA: But first an endorsement that should surprise no one. President Trump publicly backs the primary challenger to Congresswoman Liz Cheney in a move to help unseat one of his biggest critics. Liz Cheney's response, next.



BLACKWELL: So this was expected but now it has happened. We know that President Trump has endorsed the opponent of Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, just endorsed the person who's running to unseat her next year's GOP primary. In a statement, Trump called Cheney a warmonger and a disloyal, Republican. Cheney's response, bring it.

CAMEROTA: David Chalian is CNN political director and host of the CNN Political Briefing Podcast. David, great to see you.

What do we --


CAMEROTA: -- how do we think this will affect Liz Cheney's chances in her home state?

CHALIAN: Well, it certainly is the challenge that Liz Cheney knows that she's up against ever since she cast her vote to impeach President Trump and then remained stalwart in her support for some of the fundamentals of our democracy in face of the big lie that Donald Trump is continuing to try and sell across the nation, certainly after in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection.

This is the problem right for Liz Cheney. Donald Trump has a lot of sway inside the Republican Party. So inside a primary contest, this could be a real challenge for her, as you saw, it's not a challenge she shying away from she says, bring it.

But she is one of 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach Donald Trump. And he's basically making his way through the list of the impeachment 10 on the Republican side, seeking out Republican challengers and getting behind them in hopes of ousting those Republican incumbents from their seat, even if it may mean that the seat could be at risk. I mean, most of these are from safer seats.

But nonetheless, Donald Trump is looking to oust Republican incumbents to impeach him. And Liz Cheney is the very top of that list.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's go to California now. A couple days out from this recall election, the Republican at the top of the list of challenges, Larry Elder is taking a page out of the former president's book. Ahead of the election already calling out what he says our shenanigans. If he loses, I told you, they were shenanigans.

CAMEROTA: Couldn't be him.

BLACKWELL: It's not my fault.

CHALIAN: Yes, he'll have to prove that of course, just like, you know, Donald Trump told us in advance of the 2020 election, that he thought, oh, all this mail balloting was going to create so much fraud. We saw him take that to court, you know, numerous dozens and dozens of times and had no proof of that because the election 2020 wasn't fraudulent, despite what the former President continues to say, Larry Elder, taking a page, as you said out of that playbook.

And if indeed, this election doesn't go Larry Elder's way. And he wants to claim that something went wrong in the administering of the election and take that to court. I would hope if he does that, which is his right, he'll actually accept the results what the court says that everything if it does go according to plan that it went according to plan.

It's interesting to note that Larry Elder is doing this. He at one point early on in this race had said that the election results in 2020 were totally legitimate. Then as he was gaining steam as the Republican challenger should Newsom get recalled that he would be the leading alternative candidate. He went on conservative talk radio and said, hey, I need a mulligan on that one. There were some questions about the ballot, because he understands how much doubt about our electoral system Donald Trump injected into the Republican Party base, how dangerous that is.

But of course, it's also got some political currency to it inside the Republican Party and Larry Elder is trying to tap that for as much juice as possible as he heads into these final days of the recall.

CAMEROTA: And very quickly, David doesn't it also suggests he's getting nervous that he's -- trying to plant the seed of doubt?


CHALIAN: Yes, usually people that think they're going to win don't in advance say, hey watch out these election results may be not on the up and up, if you're totally confident of victory, you would imagine you wouldn't go that route.

CAMEROTA: David Chalian, thank you.


CAMEROTA: OK, so as COVID cases surged, President Biden is set to launch a six point plan to beat the virus. His major speech is just about two hours away, and we'll have a preview of what we'll hear from the White House, next.