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Flood Threat To Remain In Eastern Kentucky For Several Days; Biden Isolates After Testing Positive Again For COVID; DHS Inspector General Knew About Missing Secret Service Texts; Trump Hosts Saudi- Backed LIV Golf Tournament At His New Jersey Club; Justice Alito Mocks Foreign Critics Of Roe v. Wade Decision; Sotomayor, Coney Barrett Appear Together For Public Talk, Call For Civility; Debris From 23-Ton Chinse Rocket Booster Falls Back to Earth. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired July 30, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.
Historic flooding is devastating Eastern Kentucky. At least 25 people are dead and now an urgent search for survivors is underway as more storms are looming on the horizon. Just look at the destruction here now that some of the water has receded. Entire towns are wrecked, homes, roads and bridges no longer exist. Power and water to thousands of homes is out. The floods gave little warning and desperate residents scrambled to their rooftops or what was left of them. One teenage saved herself and her dog. You see the image right there.
But if infrastructure was no match for the fast-moving current, it is no wonder that the victims include four young siblings all washed away from the arms of their parents. Kentucky's Governor Andy Beshear today warning residents to brace for more bad news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY: It's going to get worse, and I think that we will be updating it maybe even for weeks to come. We don't lose these many people in a flood, yet there are still so many people unaccounted for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Meteorologist Gene Norman is in the Severe Weather Center for CNN.
Gene, this is just devastating what has happened in Kentucky right now, and as bad as it is at the moment, the flood threat is not over yet? Is that correct?
GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That is correct, Jim. Brand new flood watch issued as new storms are beginning to percolate in Western Kentucky and Western Tennessee, and they're going to be marching eastward throughout the overnight. It's probably going to start raining in a place like Hazard where the flooding was really bad. Sometime after, let's say, midnight tonight.
Also see a bunch of storms firing up along a cold front. That front is going to lift northward. And that's going to help these storms develop and give them quite a punch. As I mentioned, new flood watch just issued that does include Southern and Eastern Kentucky until Monday morning. As we take a look at the rain as it moves through in waves, that's where the problem is. We're going to move over the same areas repeatedly. It could add some heavy amounts. In and around Hazard maybe about one to three inches. Doesn't seem like a lot, but on saturated grounds that's going to really cause problems.
And anywhere from Eastern Arkansas all the way to Virginia there is the threat for flash flooding. Now we're focusing in on Kentucky but certainly any of these yellow shaded areas could have some of those heavy rains as well.
ACOSTA: And Gene, earlier this week it was St. Louis, now Kentucky. I mean, what do you think? What is causing these, you know, one in a thousand year flood events?
NORMAN: Well, Jim, the key of course is climate change. These kinds of events are the fingerprints of climate change. We have a warm atmosphere, holds more water, and of course that leads to these heavier rainfall events. And when we say a one in a thousand year flood event, it doesn't mean it's going to happen every thousand years. In fact, it means there's a good chance of it happening -- the probability is one in 1,000 or 0.1 percent.
Another way to think about this is let's say you had a deck of cards, and you wanted to say, well, what are the chances of having a 100-year flood event. That would be like pulling out the two of hearts from that deck. A 500-year flood event, it would be like pulling out two cards of the same suit, and a thousand-year flood event would be like pulling out the ace of a specific suit from that deck. The problem is, Jim, the deck is loaded against us.
ACOSTA: It certainly is. We're not getting -- dealt the best hand these days when it comes to our climate. All right, Gene Norman, thank you very much. And as we look at these images again, some aerial image of the devastation there.
For more information about how you can help the victims of the Kentucky flooding, please go to CNN.com/impact, and do what you can.
President Biden in the meantime has tested positive for COVID again. He had tested negative several days in a row, but got a positive antigen test result this morning.
CNN's Kevin Liptak is at the White House for us.
Kevin, first of all, how's the president feeling? Is he showing any symptoms at this point?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Jim, he says he feels fine. He says he's got no symptoms. And in a letter, the White House doctor, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, said that he had not experienced any reemergence of these symptoms that he had been experiencing when he had COVID and that he does continue to feel quite feel.
But, Jim, this is not the news that the president really wanted after it seemed like he had been finished with his bout from COVID. He tested negative on Tuesday night, and he tested negative every day since then until this morning when that antigen test came back positive.
Now the White House says he will isolate at the White House. They've pulled down a string of events that he had had. He was supposed to go to his house in Delaware tomorrow morning, and he was also supposed to go to Michigan next week. They've canceled that.
Now what they're attributing this resurgence to is that antiviral Paxlovid, and President Biden had been taking a course of that during his initial bout with the virus, but what the White House had done is kind of downplayed the potential that another positive test could come back.
They said that examples of that were quite rare, but they had held out the possibility that it could happen, and so they said that they would increase the president's testing cadence after he tested negative last week. They said he would wear a tight fitting mask. He wasn't always wearing it at the White House last week, but they kept him distanced from other people. Now they're trying to do some contact tracing of people he may have been in touch with, but certainly the president had been hoping to get back out there, but he will be isolating here at the White House until he tests negative again -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right, Kevin, thank you very much.
And now to a CNN exclusive. New concerns about the missing Secret Service texts. According to multiple sources, the Homeland Security inspector general first learned of those missing messages back in May of 2021. That's more than a year before the inspector general of that department alerted the January 6th Committee investigating the insurrection.
Those texts could be invaluable since according to witness testimony the former president fought with his Secret Service agents when they refused to let him go to the Capitol on January 6th after his speech that day. And it doesn't end there. "The Washington Post" also reporting texts from Trump's then acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his top deputy Ken Cuccinelli, those texts are messaging as well.
Those messages were also sent in the days leading up to January 6th. But any lost data could be important as the January 6th Committee received testimony that Trump wanted the Department of Homeland Security to seize voting machines in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
And joining me now to talk about this, Olivia Troye, former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism adviser to the former Vice President Mike Pence, and Jennifer Rodgers, a CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor.
Olivia, let me start with you. When you heard the texts belonging to Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli were missing on top of the fact that the department's inspector general, a Trump appointee, waited more than a year to report missing messages from the Secret Service, it sounds like the Department of Homeland Security is now the department of new phone, who this?
OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER TO VP PENCE: Yes, I've got to say, what the heck is going on over there?
TROYE: I don't understand this. And also, look, I've worked on technical migrations in the U.S. government. I know the extent of the planning that goes into these things, and so I'm just -- I'm just very confused about whether it was a failure of leadership here, full incompetence or there's something more nefarious going on. And look, I came from the Department of Homeland Security when I was detailed to my White House tenure on Mike Pence's team.
I know a lot of the players. There's a reason that I did not go through the official whistleblower process through the inspector general is what I'll say. When I had concerns about what I was seeing, I went public and I -- you know, when you work at the senior levels of the Trump administration, you know who a lot of these players are, and you know what they're capable of, is what I'll say.
And so I'm just -- I'm concerned. Like there's communications there. I personally as an American would like to know what the communications were between any of the leadership at DHS and the former vice president's team. You know, if I would have been my role, I can tell you, I would have been texting them and I would have been asking for help and wondering what the heck was going on, on January 6th, and so, and in the lead up to it. So I don't know, raising a lot of questions here.
ACOSTA: Yes, you mentioned the inspector general there, and you had mentioned that perhaps you would not have wanted to go the route of becoming a whistleblower. Do you think there should be -- that there ought to be concerns about this inspector general, the independence of this inspector general. He was a Trump appointee and there was that time during the administration as we all remember when Trump was putting pressure on those inspectors general across the federal government.
TROYE: He was. He definitely was, and I know this firsthand because they actually asked a colleague of mine if they would be interested in the role actually at an intelligence agency, and we had a very serious conversation about that, and I said, is this what you want to be after a national security career? Do you want to be the watchdog for the inner circle of Trump, and you know that it's not going to be in an impartial way.
That is a real conversation that happened while inside the West Wing. So, I mean, I think that says it all. And so in terms of the IG at the Department of Homeland Security, I'll say this. There has been reporting on some of the retaliation against other whistleblowers, other sort of investigations going on in this office, and I would say that I would have serious concerns here if I were sitting in the committee or in Congress in terms of this IG's ability to actually conduct this very serious investigation when it comes to such a major event like January 6th.
And, also, it just raises a lot of concerns across Homeland Security in terms of in the leadup to events, what happened here, which was in my opinion not a failure of intelligence on that day because certainly all the trends were there, but it was a failure to act on the intelligence and secure the area for our country's leadership, which we saw as all of their lives were threatened that day.
ACOSTA: And, Jennifer, with more and more records regarding the insurrection, seemingly unaccounted for, I mean, that's what we're getting from the government right now, we don't know if that's the case, but that's what they're saying. Could there be legal ramifications here? What do you think?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there certainly could, Jim. I mean, criminal charges are hard to bring. Always the burden of proof is high. But I believe DOJ should be looking into this as far as destruction of evidence, obstruction of justice is concerned, and, you know, I think that the president actually needs to take a role here, and he needs to fire this Inspector General Cuffari assuming that the reporting bears out because this isn't the first time that he's acted in a way that is not independent and is partisan.
There have been numerous other instances over the years. His firing has been called for before, and we need someone right now in that inspector general role who can actually untangle what has happened here. So I think that both President Biden should get involved by firing the inspector general, getting someone new in there, and DOJ needs to get involved as well. I expect a criminal investigation into all of this missing information, particularly now that we're hearing about the role of the inspector general and the fact that Texas from the top two in leadership at DHS, you know, magically went missing as well.
ACOSTA: Yes, and Jennifer, I mean, add to that that Trump was I guess you might describe it as documentation averse. You know, and he's been infamous with this. It's been said that he doesn't e-mail. He doesn't text. Add to that apparently the White House photographer was kept out of the room when Trump was watching the events unfold on January 6th. You have the gaps in the White House call logs. What does that add up to you?
RODGERS: Well, it's somewhat unusual that someone has, as you say, such an aversion to texting and e-mailing and kind of putting things in writing, and what that means is if you're a prosecutor or an investigator on the January 6th Committee, you have to piece that information together another way, and one of the ways you would do that is by communications between other people who have information. So, for example, talk about Cuccinelli and Wolf, and other people at
the highest levels of not just DHS, of course, but the Secret Service, the other folks in the White House, Trump's aide Mark Meadows, you need to figure out what's happening by looking at the communications of all of these other people. And so that's what they're trying to do, and it obviously makes it much harder when those communications seem to have been manipulated, seem to have been destroyed.
ACOSTA: Yes, it's critical that the committee gets to the bottom of what is going on with all of this missing documentation.
And Olivia, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, he was asked about a key conversation that he allegedly had with Cassidy Hutchinson leading up to the attack on the Capitol. Take a listen to this back and forth with our own Manu Raju about that, and I'll get your reaction on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Cassidy Hutchinson testified --
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): So we're going to January 6th, go ahead. Yes.
RAJU: Yes. She testified under oath --
MCCARTHY: You know we're in a recession, too, right?
RAJU: Well, she testified under oath saying that you called her after Donald Trump said that -- told his supporters that they were going to go to the Capitol, and you were concerned about those remarks and said don't come up here, figure it out, don't come up here. She said that under oath. Did you tell her that, and why were you concerned about the prospects of Donald Trump coming to the Capitol on January 6th?
MCCARTHY: To be honest, I don't even recall talking to her that day. I recall talking to Dan Scavino, I recall talking to Jared, I recall talking to Trump. That's what I talked to on television like that, too. If I talked to her, I don't remember it. If it was coming up here, I don't think I wanted a lot of people coming up to the Capitol. But I don't remember the conversation.
RAJU: Why were you concerned specifically about Trump coming to the Capitol?
MCCARTHY: I don't remember that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: What do you think, Olivia?
TROYE: Wow. Well, to that I would say there seem to be a lot of Republican elected officials who don't recall the conversations and phone calls they had on January 6th. We have Kevin McCarthy not recalling this one. We had Jim Jordan not recalling how many times he called or spoke to the president on that day.
I don't know, you know, I wasn't in the situation, but I can tell you this, I remember most of every moment on January 6th as I sat there and wondered if my former boss was going to make it alive that day and other people and watched this all hell break loose live on TV. So I find it interesting but not surprising given the demeanor where, you know, it was just a peaceful, you know, tourist day that day for a lot of these Republican officials who behave in such a cowardice way and continue to do so.
ACOSTA: All right, Olivia Troye, Jennifer Rodgers, we'll continue this conversation. Thanks so much for those insights. We appreciate it.
And coming up, 9/11 families speak out against former President Trump for welcoming a controversial Saudi-backed tournament at his New Jersey golf club.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT EAGLESON, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, 9/11 JUSTICE: Our loved ones are the heroes. The golfers and the former president are cowards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Right now the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational is in full swing in Bedminster, New Jersey, at a golf course owned by former President Donald Trump. Round two kicked off this afternoon. Golf legend Phil Mickelson hit the opening tee shot yesterday but not before a heckler got this in. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. Do it for the Saudi royal family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Awkward. Yesterday families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 terrorist attacks protested near the course just 15 miles away from the World Trade Center.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIETTE SCAUSO, DAUGHTER OF 9/11 FIREFIGHTER DENNIS SCAUSO: My dad was a man of integrity, and someone who believed that the actions we take in this lifetime define us.
But a word to Mr. Trump and all of the participating golfers in this tournament, my father wasn't the type of person who could be bought, and I just want you to know that if you were there that day, my father would have run in to save you without a second thought. EAGLESON: I see these golfers dodge questions, put their head in the
sand, not want to confront us, not want to address our issues, and just say golf is for the greater good or I'm doing this for my family, well, my dad went to work that day providing for his family, and he got blown away, and if we can't get a golfer to at least look us in the eye and tell us that they're doing it for the money and they don't give a shit about the atrocities of Saudi Arabia, they're cowards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Joining us now is CNN sports analyst and sports columnist for "USA Today," Christine Brennan.
Christine, we heard the outrage there from the 9/11 families, justifiably so. Are we hearing anything at all from these golfers defending themselves for participating in this tournament. What are they saying?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Jim, it's almost like a script has been handed to them from MBS. I've covered and asked questions of the golfers at the U.S. Open in Boston and the other day, I went up for a day, and you ask and they say we have empathy for the 9/11 families. We feel so sorry for them. You know, two or three sentences and then one golfer, Paul Casey said I got to go run and do a photo shoot.
It's say a couple of things, sound nice, and get the heck out of there, and it is exactly what sportswashing is all about. Basically do what the Saudis tell you to do, take the money and run.
ACOSTA: Yes, almost out of a -- like out of a scene from "Bull Durham" or something when they used to feed the pitchers and the players, you know, the canned comments to make to the sports casters.
And then Trump, when he was asked to defend all of this made this ridiculous remark, just a disgusting remark that we haven't been able to get to the bottom of 9/11. I mean, this is just a -- this is a debacle.
BRENNAN: Well, it is. So that was Thursday. I was there Wednesday, as you know, you've been to Bedminster. It's Trump, everything Trump, and he is in his glory. The idea that he --
ACOSTA: I didn't get into the golf course, I should say. They kept me on the outer perimeter. But anyway, please continue.
BRENNAN: You didn't miss much.
BRENNAN: It is not one of the world's great golf courses, not at all, but this is all Trump. So of course he's there. Of course he's making a big scene, and he has to justify, I guess, in his brain why he's there and why this is OK. So he says the complete opposite of course of what he said when he was running for president. That, you know, we have to get to the bottom of this. Of course we know 15 of the 19 hijackers, Jim, as you well know and
the viewers know were Saudi Arabian and Osama bin Laden himself was Saudi. So that's what we know.
BRENNAN: And then you have, of course, the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi as well. So it's awful, and the fact that this is 50 miles from Ground Zero, an hour's drive, it is just as they say salt in the wound, razor blades in the wound for these families, but also good for them for protesting. They came out and had a press conference. They've also protested, and they're certainly making the point known and bringing up issues that probably a lot of people had pushed back out of their minds. So maybe the Saudis are getting a little more than they thought they would bargain for with the negative publicity they're getting.
ACOSTA: No. It's absolutely appalling and the "Wall Street Journal" is now reporting that it's been lightly attended. The tickets are not selling for as high of a price as you might suspect for something like this. And do you think it's possible that this LIV Golf tournament overtakes the PGA? Is it going to rival the PGA in any sort of serious way? Or, I mean, is this just an act of desperation by the Saudis to try to, I don't know, find some PR, good PR somewhere?
BRENNAN: Yes, and in sportswashing again.
ACOSTA: Yes, Sportswashing.
BRENNAN: Sure. Ten of the top 50 men's golfers in the world rankings have gone to LIV Golf. Most of them are not the names that people keep an eye on, except, say, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, of course Bubba Watson just went, but Phil Mickelson, 52 years old, certainly it's kind of the kickback and exhibition style golf that these guys want to do at this point in their life.
Will it -- it's certainly making an impact. The PGA Tour is responding and trying to do its best to keep these guys. I think, you know, you look at the comments of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods saying no way would they do this. They want real competition. As you know, this is not real -- there's no cut. This is exhibition style, basically no name kind of goofy golf, and so they want the real deal with the PGA Tour.
But moving forward absolutely. There's going to have to be some kind of conversation especially if more guys -- and it's all about the money, take the money and run. I think we wouldn't even be having this conversation, Jim, if who was bank rolling this was, you know, Bill Gates or Melinda Gates, if Jeff Bezos was bank rolling this, we wouldn't have even this conversation.
The fact is the Saudis are throwing this kind of money, the business model is there's no business model. Just throw hundreds of millions of dollars at these guys and see if you can get them to be your PR machine, and so far it is working. ACOSTA: Yes. And the former president of the United States, if he's
not in enough trouble already, attaching his name to something like this, it's just reprehensible.
All right, Christine Brennan, thank you very much.
BRENNAN: Thank you.
ACOSTA: Coming up, Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito lets loose on critics of his Roe versus Wade decision, overturning Roe versus Wade. What does it say about the status of the court today? That's coming up.
ACOSTA: Conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito facing criticism after he publicly mocked world leaders who criticized his opinion reversing Roe versus Wade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I had the honor this term of writing I think the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders.
One of these was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But he paid the price.
ALITO: What really wounded me was when the duke of Sussex --
ALITO: -- addressed the United Nations and seemed to compare the decision, whose name may not be spoken, with the Russian attack on Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: CNN's Supreme Court reporter, Ariane De Vogue, joins me now.
Ariane, Alito made these very sarcastic remarks while speaking at the Notre Dame Law School religious liberty summit in Rome. This almost sounds like his Vegas act or something. He was telling jokes and so on.
How surprising was this? What did you make of this?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: It was unusual. There he is on foreign soil, and he was there to make this major speech on religious liberty.
And in fact, he diverted and for the first time brought up this landmark decision that he wrote a month ago. And he chose to go after the foreign leaders who had criticized it.
So he mentioned Emmanuel Macron from France and Justin Trudeau from Canada. And then you heard those comments of Boris Johnson where he's sort of making fun of the resignation. And then even to go after Prince Harry.
Now, listen, I talked to somebody who was there with him, who say the media is making too much, that this was just wisecracks. But the fact remains, it's the very first comments he has made about this landmark decision, the most important decision in decades.
It's really changed the landscape of women's reproductive health. And the issue still, a month later here, is still very raw.
So a lot of people question that, question why on foreign soil he would go after foreign leaders.
But it is worth noting that the bulk of his speech was on religious liberty. More so than any other justice on the Supreme Court, he talks a lot about religious protections.
And you may have, listening to that speech, that he thought somehow religious liberty was in danger at the Supreme Court level, and it is not.
Alito and the other members of this conservative court have really issued opinions, particularly last term, protecting the rights of religious conservatives.
A lot of people wondered why, in this speech on religious liberty, he chose to sort of make fun of, mock these foreign leaders -- Jim?
ACOSTA: Yes, I mean, there's nothing lighthearted about this monumental abortion decision, I mean, for the millions of women who are dealing with this issue here back in the United States.
I just want to ask you, you know, Amy Coney Barrett, who said publicly she doesn't want the court to be seen as partisan hacks, and liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, make an appearance and stressed that, even though they often disagree on the law, they still like each other.
Let's listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SONIA SOTOMAYOR, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I think one of the wonders of being on the Supreme Court is my knowing that every single one of my colleagues is equally passionate about the Constitution, our system of government, and getting it right, as I am.
We may disagree on how to get there. We often do. But that doesn't mean that I look at them and say, you're bad people. I accept that it is a difference of opinion. I'm going to work very hard to try to convince them to look at it my way and to correct their wrong --
ANY CONEY BARRETT, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Ditto.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Ariane, some of that sounds a little bit like wishful thinking, does it not?
Or maybe it's beside the point how well they're getting along with one another, how their relationships are going when you have a very hard right, determined hard right court that appears to be intent on upending a lot of what has been established law for decades in this country.
DE VOGUE: Well, right. That was their first public event together in a speaking event.
And no question about it, particularly Sotomayor, all the justices, they talk on and on about their civility, maybe separating themselves a little bit from the other branches of government, how that they are always civil to each other.
But let's be honest here. In front of the cameras, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she is talking about civility.
But when you read what she says in her opinions and what she says from the bench, you can tell she is worried about this court. There are tensions on the court.
For instance, during oral arguments in that abortion case back in December, she basically said, look, the only reason we are looking at Roe v. Wade again is solely because of the change of the composition of this court, suggesting it was political.
And she said, how are we going to get rid of that stench? Another time, she called the conservatives restless conservatives.
So to be clear, they believe in civility. They talk about civility. But this court, right now, these are very tense times. You can say all that she wants about civility, but that doesn't hide what's going on.
And other justices too, conservatives, they're worried about the court. For instance, Clarence Thomas was very worried about the leak of that draft opinion.
We saw Chief Justice John Roberts in that abortion case, he felt like his conservative colleagues had gone too far in overturning Roe, that they had lost the idea of judicial restraint.
This is a time that this court, with its public opinion plummeting, they are concerned and they are worried.
ACOSTA: All right, Ariane De Vogue, thank you so much. We appreciate those insights. Coming up, what goes up must come down. But when it's debris from a
23-ton Chinese rocket, it is anyone's guess where it will land. Those details next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
ACOSTA: Now to some out-of-this-world fallout. The world braced for the aftermath of an out-of-control piece of space debris belonging to China. A 23-ton booster from this Chinese rocket fell to earth this afternoon over the Indian Ocean, according to U.S. Space Command.
Sky watchers on social media have been posting some pretty remarkable videos of what some experts believe could be images of the rocket booster burning up in the atmosphere over Malaysia. CNN cannot confirm the voracity of the images.
But take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cannot believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: This uncontrolled descent marks the third time that China's been accused of not properly handling space debris from its rocket stage.
And former NASA astronaut, Leroy Chiao, joins me now.
Leroy, thank you so much for being with us. Great having you on.
What are you hearing about where these pieces of this fallen booster landed? And I mean, what do you make of some of these images? Could those images be that booster coming back into earth?
LEROY CHIAO, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: It certainly could be. It's hard to tell.
From my understanding, the pieces of debris hit somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Probably no big chunks made it to land. Hopefully, that's the case.
Having said that, yes, this is going to happen every time that China uses their Long March 5 rocket. It's designed to work this way. And because of that design, you're going to have this large booster that is going to enter the atmosphere unpredictably every time.
ACOSTA: How dangerous is this booster's out-of-control descent? I mean, you know, that's what we were talking to an expert about in the previous hour of this program. And that is, you know, it seems as though this is sort of like firing a gun into the air not knowing where the bullet will land.
CHIAO: Well, that's pretty much exactly what it is. It is not the ideal way to design your trajectory, to design your rocket.
The chances of it hitting something, you know, of value or, you know, damaging or hurting people is pretty small, but it's not zero. And so nobody else designs their trajectories this way. This is just, you know, not really the way that you want to do it.
So other ways, for example, the space shuttle. Large pieces of the external tank would enter the atmosphere, but it was always designed, the trajectories were such that we knew where the debris would land well away from shipping lanes and, you know, places where it's not going to cause any damage.
ACOSTA: Is there anything that the U.S. could do to stop China from putting people and property at risk like this? I mean, you know, the Chinese are -- they do have a knack for requiring technology in other realms and perhaps in the remaining of space technology.
Why can't they get their act together on this?
CHIAO: Well, I mean, it wasn't -- it's not really not getting their act together. They just -- you know, to put it bluntly, they didn't really care. They found an efficient way to get their large pieces of payload into orbit. And as a consequence, they're going to have this debris.
They could have designed a rocket differently. They could have another stage. Two smaller stages would have burned up or the upper stage could have been put into a graveyard orbit.
So there are a lot of things that could have been done. But now with the rocket's designed, I don't see them scrapping that design. I don't see them going back and saying, oh, yes, maybe we should have done it differently and design a new rocket.
ACOSTA: All right, well, retired NASA astronaut, Leroy Chiao, thanks for breaking it down for us. Hopefully, no serious problems as a result of this one coming back to earth.
Thank you for your time. We appreciate it.
CHIAO: Thank you.
ACOSTA: All right. And coming up, "Monsters of the Cape." After dozens of great white sightings off the coast of Massachusetts, a "Shark Week" expert tests out new ways to keep beachgoers safe. That's next.
ACOSTA: They must have heard it was "Shark Week" because, in the last few days, dozens of great white sharks have been spotted off of Cape Cod.
And tonight, on our sister network, Discovery, we'll see experts diving right in and testing cutting-edge ways to keep beachgoers and the sharks safe.
Here's a preview of "Shark Week's" "Monsters of the Cape."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since I was a kid I heard stories about monsters in Cape Cod. The locals called them man eaters, surfers spoke about the curious beasts filled with teeth, while sailors recalled the colossal creatures with ravenous appetites.
Summer after summer, I returned to find them, but they were gone. But then one day, I had heard the great whites had returned. Now they're swarming in astonishing numbers.
UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: Another shark attack in Cape Cod today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now the beaches of the cape --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the hell out!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- are filled with fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: All right, joining us now is Craig O'Connell. He is a shark biologist, one of the "Shark Week" presenters and the founders of the O'Seas Conservation Foundation.
Thanks so much for joining us, Craig. We appreciate it.
In this clip, we just saw swarms of great white sharks suddenly returning in huge numbers to Cape Cod. Do we know why that's happening? DR. CRAIG O'CONNELL, SHARK BIOLOGIST & PRESENTER, "SHARK WEEK" & CO-
FOUNDER, O'SEAS CONSERVATION FOUNDATION: So there's a lot of things that are actually changing in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. We protected the great white sharks prey. And we've also protected the great white sharks. So now their population is recovering.
And here's the thing in Cape Cod. There's an abundance of seals right along the shoreline. When there's an abundance of prey along the shoreline, the predators are right there following. That's the great white shark.
ACOSTA: And you and your team have been diving in Cape Cod, working on shark deterrents trying to keep the water safe for people and sharks. I didn't think this existed.
What does that work look like? And I guess how is it having an impact?
O'CONNELL: It's pretty amazing work. And it's, to me, this is a key part of the episode. We are breaking new boundaries. We didn't even know if we'd be able to dive in the waters of Cape Cod.
Because these white sharks are feeding in the exact same area. So we broke the boundary, we got in the water outside the cage, and we're testing two new noninvasive technologies.
One of them is known as the exclusion barrier. And the exclusion barrier targets a shark's visual system and their electro-sensory system.
And the goal for that system or that barrier is it's going to be deployed from shoreline to shoreline, sea floor to sea surface. And it's going to be this continuous barrier that's going to protect the beach, protect the people and also protect the sharks.
And we're also trying a new technology that uses sound. Sound as a way to deter sharks very quickly. And we're hoping that using sound it will give someone that may be a swimmer in distress, it will give them enough time to get out of the water and into safety.
We are doing a lot of work. It's been very, very promising. And this fall, we're going back to Cape Cod to run some more trials.
ACOSTA: Best of luck on that.
The movie -- speaking of sounds, the movie "Jaws" was famously filmed off of Cape Cod. Nobody will forget that soundtrack, the score of that movie.
How is that movie -- how has it shaped public perception of great whites, even to this day?
O'CONNELL: That movie did a lot of damage in the sense that it made people terrified of sharks.
But on the other side of the coin, it also sparked some fascination in people because they wanted to see what was really out there. And for me, I was terrified of sharks because of that movie and for a
lot of other reasons. Then I got in the water. I saw a shark for the very first time. I was expecting it to eat me, just like it did in "Jaws."
And that shark couldn't have been more peaceful. It was super curious and it swam right by and did its thing.
And at that very moment, it made me so fascinated with sharks. And I wanted to change everyone's opinion on what these animals truly are. They're amazing creatures and people need to see that.
ACOSTA: All right, well, we'll be watching.
Dr. Craig O'Connell, thank very much.
Catch his show, "Monsters of the Cape," tonight at 8:00 p.m. on Discovery.
And one other programming note. Discovery's "Great White Open Ocean," featuring a diver's terrifying close encounter with a great white shark airs tonight at 9:00 right here on CNN.
We'll be right back.
ACOSTA: Crews continue to work around the clock to contain a large wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park in California. The Oak Fire is now 52 percent contained. It's burned nearly 20,000 acres, destroying more than 160 buildings, including dozens of homes.
The fires started a week ago. What caused it is still under investigation. Lack of rain, drought conditions, and dead trees have been factors in the fire's spread.
W. Kamau Bell heads to California to learn about the wide-ranging implications of the state's recent wildfires on a brand-new episode of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA."
Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": So what was it like when you got out?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, it was hard. I spent almost two years trying to hack into firefighting. I would be applying for jobs. And I'd sorry, you're not qualified. I'm sorry, like you don't have all the certifications.
BELL: Why aren't they hiring you? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straight up, like the United States of America has
a problem like utilizing incarcerated people, period. It's like we were firefighters before, we came home, we should be able to do it again.
BELL: If there's any job where you want to be like you want to do it and you have the skills, like come on. This would be the job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
Yes, no, no.
BELL: Firefighters probably like the most respected career in the country, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes.
BELL: So when you talk about like formerly incarcerated people who are transitioning into a space of like the highest regard --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Highest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people just don't want to see us in the space.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're black folks. We're formerly incarcerated people.
But what folks don't realize is that we're already out here. We've been protecting your homes for the past three years when I was locked up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And be sure to tune in. "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" airs tomorrow night at 10:00 right here on CNN.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.
We begin with the mud, misery, and fear for the missing in eastern Kentucky right now. Historic flooding has killed at least 25 people, including four young siblings swept away from their parents.
The governor says many are unaccounted for with the death toll expected to climb.