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Ukrainian Civilians in the Line of Fire; Salman Rushdie Attacked at Book Event; Russia's War on Ukraine; U.S. House Passes Sweeping Health Care, Tax, and Climate Bill; Interview with LEARN Founder and Executive Director Pashtana Dorani; Investigation into Trump's Potential Espionage Act Violations. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired August 13, 2022 - 05:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and all around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber.
Ahead on "CNN Newsroom," unsealed and revealing. The FBI warrant citing possible violations of the Espionage Act as one of the reasons to search Trump's Florida home. We'll look at the legal ramifications for the former president.
Plus, we're live in Kyiv on the fighting taking place in the eastern part of Ukraine. This, as new shipments of grain arrive in Europe.
And it's been almost a year since the U.S. and its allies pulled out of Afghanistan. We'll look at how life has changed under the Taliban's reign.
ANNOUNCER: Live, from CNN center, this is "CNN Newsroom with Kim Brunhuber".
BRUNHUBER: We now know why the FBI searched former U.S. President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. According to a warrant unsealed on Friday, agents were looking for evidence of possible crimes, including potential violations of the espionage act related to the gathering laws or destruction of U.S. defense information. Also, learning details about some of the items recovered during Monday's search.
A property receipt also unsealed on Friday reveals that FBI agents seized 11 sets of classified documents including one marked top-secret SCI, which stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information, one of the highest levels of classification. They also seized four sets of top- secret documents, three marked secret, and three marked confidential. CNN's Katelyn Polantz explains. what else the unsealed documents tell us about the ongoing investigation?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: On Friday, a federal court in Florida released seven pages of documents that represent that unprecedented search and seizure that took place at Mar-a-Lago, the home of president -- former President Donald Trump in South Florida.
So, what we learned from these records is that there were 33 different boxes or items carried out of Mar-a-Lago that become evidence in this ongoing criminal probe into the handling of federal records. That includes a leather-bound box of documents with various classified, top secret, Specialized Compartmented Information. That's a label in the classification system, the highest type of secrecy level you can have in the government, TS/SCI.
There are also secret documents, top secret documents, and confidential documents all taken out of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI when they conducted that search. We also know from these documents that were released that there are three different criminal statutes that are being investigated here that investigators believe there would be evidence of these crimes that they would find if they conducted this search, if and when they conducted this search. That includes the Espionage Act, the mishandling of the records pertaining to the national defense. So, the type of forms, documents, and papers that could be very harmful to the United States if they got into the wrong hands.
Also, there is the obstruction of federal investigations for obstruction of justice that is being investigated, a very serious felony. There is also a criminal statute over records, maintenance of records, the concealment of records that prohibits removing them or hurting them in some way, destroying them. All of this is being investigated.
No one at this point has been charged in this. And the documents didn't identify who is even under investigation here. But there is a clear statement being made by this search, by these documents of the search warrant that is showing that there was a search for presidential records and also national defense secrets being conducted at Mar-a-Lago on Monday, and that search was fruitful.
At the end of the day, we did get a statement from Donald Trump saying that all they had to do was ask. All the feds needed to do was ask for this and we would have returned it to them, but that clearly has not been the case given that in the history of this investigation. So, far we know that the National Archives was asking for the return of these, they had been subpoenaed, and then finally it prompted the search that took place on Monday. Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.
BRUNHUBER: Trump responded with falsehoods to the latest on the search for documents at his home on his social media network. He said, "The bigger problem is what are they going do with the 33 million pages of documents, many of which are classified, that President Obama took to Chicago?"
Well, the National Archives quickly debunked the claim. In a statement it said, "Assumed exclusive legal and physical custody of Obama presidential records when Obama left office in 2017." Now, the FBI search is only the latest legal problem facing Donald Trump. He's embroiled in multiple lawsuits connected to his time in office and his family business. On Friday, a New York State judge refused to throw out tax fraud charges against the Trump organization. It's accused the involvement -- it's accused of involvement in a tax evasion scheme going back to 2005. Now, that trial gets underway in October.
And on Wednesday, Trump refused to answer questions during a deposition for New York's attorney general, invoking his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. New York's A.G. is investigating whether Trump's company used fake or misleading asset valuations to get economic benefits.
Joining me now is civil rights attorney and CNN Legal Analyst, Areva Martin. She joins us from Edgartown Massachusetts. Thanks so much for being here with us. So, just starting with the big picture here. What do you make of the unsealed search warrant? What surprised you the most here?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what surprised I think all of us, Kim, is the level of detail that the Justice Department provided to this judge that ultimately signed off on this search warrant. We know that Donald Trump and many Republicans are complaining and suggesting that somehow this is a politically motivated action. And that this is, you know, some kind of nefarious act against the former president.
But what's clear from what we have been told by the Department of Justice is that there were grounds, there was sufficient evidence, so sufficient that a federal judge signed off on a search warrant of this former president's private residence. We know this is unprecedented in U.S. history. But the acts that Donald Trump engaged in in terms of taking secret, confidential, highly sensitive documents from the White House, very serious allegations against him and very serious actions that required this level of intervention from the FBI and the Department of Justice.
BRUNHUBER: Yes. I mean, in that list of potential crimes, some come under the Espionage Act. But that doesn't necessarily mean spying as it sort of sounds to the layperson, I guess, it's pretty broad. Take us through that.
MARTIN: Yes, you're right, Kim. When we hear the word espionage automatically, I think, people think that, you know, it relates to spying on the U.S. government. But that act covers things broader than just spying. It covers things such as the removal of sensitive documents that could land up -- that could land in the hands of a foreign adversary, someone, or some governmental entity that is adverse to the United States.
And we don't know exactly what is in the documents that Donald Trump removed from the White House, but we know those documents are highly sensitive. Many of them documents that were only meant to be reviewed inside the White House in the skiff. Documents that were never meant to be removed from the inner, you know, sanctum of the White House. And the fact that these documents have been taken to a private residence could potentially end up, again, in the hands of a foreign adversary warranted the level of intervention that we've seen with respect to this search warrant. BRUNHUBER: Yes. But, you know, president -- or former President Trump has claimed that he, you know, declassified all the documents which, you know, it doesn't necessarily matter in terms of breaking the rules of taking them home. But how valid is this, you know, so-called declassification magic wand as a defense?
MARTIN: Yes, what we hear Donald Trump claiming, as you said, Kim, is that he, as the president at the time, had the authority to declassify these documents. But the three laws, the potential laws that were broken by Donald Trump by removal of these documents. The fact that he may, in his opinion, declassify these documents doesn't justify the removal still creates the potential for criminal actions on his part.
Again, these documents, highly sensitive documents, documents that if landed in the hands of a foreign adversary could be adverse to the United States. And this judge, you know, knew full well that Donald Trump had the authority as president to declassify some documents. But still went forward in signing off on this search warrant. So, it's not going to be a defense that he has the power as the sitting president to declassify documents. These are very serious, potentially Donald Trump is facing very serious charges.
We don't know if there will be an indictment of the president for the removal of the documents. But I think one thing that's important to note, Kim, is that this didn't happen in a vacuum. There have been multiple, multiple actions on the part of the Department of Justice, on the part of the FBI to communicate with Donald Trump's legal team. To try to negotiate with his legal team for the return of these documents. We know a subpoena was issued to Donald Trump in an effort to get documents returned. And we know that some documents were returned to the United States government, but not all of the documents. So, the fact that Donald Trump refused to return these sensitive documents, again, suggests that he may be again, not certain, but definitely, the potential is there that he faces some very serious charges.
BRUNHUBER: We'll keep watching this fast-developing story. Areva Martin, thank you so much for being here with us. I really appreciate it.
MARTIN: Thanks, Kim.
BRUNHUBER: FBI Director, Christopher Wray, is warning bureau agents and employees to be vigilant due to an unprecedented wave of threats against the agency following the Mar-a-Lago search. Sources tell CNN that the two agents who signed the warrant, as well as the federal judge who authorized it are among those receiving threats. We're also finding out more about the suspect who attempted to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati. CNN's Brynn Gingras has the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New details tonight about the armed suspect who was shot and killed after allegedly trying to get into the FBI's Cincinnati field office, including how the recent FBI search at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate may have inspired him. The Ohio State Highway patrol identifying the suspect as 42-year-old Ricky Shiffer of Columbus, a former U.S. Navy fire control technician, who our source tell CNN brought a high-powered rifle to the FBI office.
We've learned just minutes after the attempted breach, a post was made by an account bearing Shiffer's name on the Donald Trump-founded site truth social. At 9:29 a.m., the user posted, well, I thought I had a way through bulletproof glass and I didn't. If you don't hear from me, it is true. I tried attacking the FBI and it will mean either I was taken off the internet, the FBI got me, or they sent the regular cops while -- the post presumably ends presumably as a chase ensued.
The account recently saw an uptick in posts in the days following the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago. On August 8th the user wrote, this is your call to arms from me. Get whatever you need to be ready for combat. And, evil already won, now we need to fight a civil war to take back the country. On August 9th, the day after the Mar-a-Lago search, the user encouraged people to go to Palm Beach and that if FBI agents broke up the group, "Kill them." Investigators have not yet confirmed if that account belonged to Shiffer. But a law enforcement source tells CNN, an image on the account matched a government photo ID of him.
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Donald Trump has an amazing amount of influence over people who harbor these sorts of beliefs when he baselessly floats out an allegation as he did on Monday about the FBI possibly planting evidence in his residence, which we all know there's been absolutely zero proof produced for that.
GINGRAS (voice-over): After Shiffer took off from the field office, troopers located him, exchanged fire, and surrounded him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Law enforcement officers attempted to negotiate with the suspect.
GINGRAS (voice-over): he was killed at the scene. Two sources tell CNN, Shiffer was previously known to the FBI in connection to the January 6th and because of his link to associates within the Proud Boys.
MICAHEL MOORE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY: I mean, it was troubling, obviously, to see what happened in Cincinnati. And the concern is the proof, really, is just to see how the rhetoric sparks people's violent tendencies.
GINGRAS (voice-over): Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Russia's offensive in Eastern Ukraine picks up again and civilians end up in the line of fire. After the break, we'll have the latest in a live report from Kyiv.
Plus, award-winning author, Salman Rushdie, attacked at a book event, Friday. We've got the latest on his condition. Also, a look at the death threat that followed him for decades. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: In Ukraine, a stern warning about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the nation's nuclear operator says the facility is now at risk of violating radiation safety and fire safety standards. He's blaming damage from recent shelling of the plant which Russia and Ukraine are pinning on each other.
Meanwhile, Ukraine says the city of Kramatorsk came under artillery fire which damaged 20 residential buildings. Ukraine says five people were killed in attacks across the Donetsk region, including in Kramatorsk on Friday. 35 others were reportedly wounded.
In Kyiv, president Zelenskyy is making a case against letting Russian citizens travel to Europe. He says they shouldn't be allowed to use the so-called Schengen visas that allow holders unrestricted travel through most European countries. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): First of all, it should be guaranteed that Russian murderers and accomplices of state terror cannot use visas. Secondly, the idea of Europe itself cannot get destroyed. Our common European values cannot get destroyed. Meaning that we cannot turn Europe into a supermarket where it doesn't matter who is coming. What matters is only that the purchases are paid for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: David McKenzie is keeping an eye on developments in Ukraine, and he joins us now from Kyiv. So, David, let's start with the news from the front lines. What's the latest?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's really important what's been happening, Kim, in the eastern part of this front line. If we look at that same map that you talked about, according to Ukrainian officials and CNN was right on the ground there with Nic and his team, there are gains by the Russian forces in and around, or I should say, around that town of Bakhmut.
Why is this significant? Well, because as the Russians try to push into -- from east to west the Donetsk region, this is the -- one of the key stated aims of the Kremlin at the start of this conflict. If they get -- are able to take Bakhmut, Kramatorsk, then it is potentially, realistically, they could take that whole region.
But the importance is over the last few weeks, certainly, the Ukrainians have been giving very stiff resistance, inflicting heavy casualties, according to Ukrainian officials on Russian forces, in part, because of their longer-range western donated artillery pieces. It means that for every inch the Russians try to gain, they are -- they are dealing with a lot of loss of blood and treasure.
And so, this conflict on the east is extremely important for the wider war here in Ukraine. You had several civilians tragically killed, according to Ukrainian officials, in Bakhmut, in Kramatorsk, in that zone in the eastern part of the conflict. And this may be an area that will be critical, certainly in the next few weeks and months, for both the Russian and the Ukrainian side of course.
BRUNHUBER: All right. And then, David, in a more positive development, we're now seeing ships filled with grain getting out of Ukraine and arriving in foreign ports. I think we can even show some live pictures of grain being -- we don't have those pictures. Well, anyway, we know that they are arriving and that they are heading elsewhere -- actually, there are the pictures of the grain being unloaded. What more can you tell us about this vital shipment of grain?
MCKENZIE: well, this is very important for Ukraine, of course, because Ukraine is an extremely critical supplier of wheat and grain from this zone into really the rest of the world. And with that negotiated settlement between Russia and Ukraine, you have seen now a trickle of ships coming in and out with grain supplies. The latest news is that a ship from -- that is commissioned by the World Food Programme is in the Ukrainian port being loaded up. It will head to East Africa, which might have some impact on the grinding famine-like conditions and drought in that part of the world.
It really speaks to the wider impact of this conflict, that it's important not to forget this negotiated settlement has allowed some grain to get out. We will see if that can continue. But it speaks also to possible avenues of cooperation between the Russian and Ukrainian side. Of course, we've been speaking all this week about the nuclear power plant. And you mentioned it, Kim, Zaporizhzhia, if there can be some kind of settlement there to allow demilitarize zone, it will be very important. But I think that is a much harder thing to negotiate even than this success with getting grain out of Ukraine. Kim.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely. All right. David McKenzie, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.
Well, from global leaders to celebrated writers, the world is condemning the stabbing attack on award-winning author, Salman Rushdie. Among them, French President Emmanual Macron who tweeted, "His fight is our fight. It is universal. Now more than ever, we stand by his side."
This all happened at a book event in New York State, Friday. Witnesses say a man rushed the stage, stabbing the writer at least once in the neck and abdomen. Rushdie's agent tells the "New York Times" that he is on a ventilator with nerve and liver damage and he may lose an eye. The suspect was taken into custody at the scene. And authorities are working to determine the motive, but Rushdie has been living in danger for years. Our Michael Holmes explains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL NEWS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the threat that loomed over Salman Rushdie for decades. In 1989, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa or religious edict. Ordering his Muslim followers to kill the author after the publication of his fourth book, "the satanic verses."
The book initially sparked protests by Muslims in the UK and India, which then spread throughout the world after the fatwa. At times demonstrations were violent. Some Muslims were outraged saying the novel blasphemed against the Prophet Muhammad and ridiculed the Quran and events in early Muslim history. For almost a decade, Rushdie went into hiding under the protection of the British government. But by 1998, he was able to go public again.
TRITA PARSI, QUINCY INSTITUTE FOR RESPONSIBLE STATECRAFT AND AUTHOR, "LOSING AN ENEMY": All of that actually came to an end 10 years later when the United Kingdom and Iran reestablished diplomatic relations. And at that time, as part of that reestablishment, the condition was that the Iranians would completely distance themselves from that fatwa.
HOLMES (voice-over): But some lingering resentment and threats against Rushdie remained. They were renewed protests against him when he received a knighthood in Britain for his services to literature. Al Qaeda's deputy leader at the time, Ayman al-Zawahiri, accused the UK of insulting Islam with that move.
And throughout the years, a bounty for Rushdie offered by Iranian hardliners has steadily increased to more than $3 million. But throughout his ordeal, Rushdie continued to write, penning 14 novels and other works over his career. He was married four times, most recently to television host, Padma Lakshmi. The lecture where he was attacked on Friday, in Chautauqua in New York was intended to be a discussion of how the U.S. is a place of asylum for writers and other artists. Of course, Rushdie knew firsthand by continuing to live and work despite the threats against him.
SALMAN RUSHDIE, AUTHOR: I mean, it may have been an unpleasant decade, but it was the right fight. You know, I was fighting for the things that I most believe in against things that I most dislike, which are bigotry, and fanaticism, and censorship, and so on. So, yes, I came out of it in a way clearer.
HOLMES (voice-over): Michael Holmes, CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: U.S. House of Representatives passed landmark legislation, including the biggest investment to combat the climate crisis in American history. We'll break it all down when we come back.
Plus, parts of Europe are in the midst of yet another record heat wave. Scorching temperatures and months of dry weather are causing dangerous conditions. We'll have details ahead, stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is "CNN Newsroom." The U.S. Justice Department has now indicated it had probable cause to investigate whether former President Donald Trump may have violated the Espionage Act by keeping classified materials at his Mar-a-Lago home.
Court documents, unsealed Friday, show the FBI removed 11 sets of classified materials from Trump's property on Monday. One set was marked with the highest level of government classification. Now, those are supposed to be kept in a highly-secured government location. Agents also seized four sets of top-secret documents, three sets were marked secret, and three were classified as confidential. In addition, the FBI also recovered a document on Trump's pardoning of Roger Stone, a staunch ally who was convicted of lying to Congress. U.S. House of Representatives has given Democrats and President Biden something they so desperately want. Now look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Motion is adopted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, a $750 billion climate, energy, and healthcare package which is also meant to cut inflation. CNN's Jessica Dean has details on the new bill.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats and President Biden, scoring a big win as we saw their massive package focused on climate, taxes, and health care passing out of the House. It is now headed to President Biden's desk for his signature.
We spent the day hearing debate from both sides, but it was very clear from the beginning that this had full Democratic support in the House. This is something that passed along party lines, just like it did in the Senate. The reason behind that, they are using a budget process that requires them only to have Democratic support so they can pass this out of Congress with just their Democratic majorities, and that's exactly what happened.
Just a reminder to everyone a little bit what's in this, there's three different planks. There's the climate plank, it's the largest investment in climate that we've ever seen come out of Congress. Some $369 billion in climate initiatives. There's also health care provisions in there. They're extending the affordable care act subsidies by three years. They're capping out-of-pocket Medicare expenses at $2,000. It's also allowing Medicare for the very first time to negotiate the price of certain drug prices.
Additionally, there are tax provisions in there. Namely among them a corporate minimum tax of 15 percent that's going to go toward -- that's going to be for the country's largest businesses. They will pay that 15 percent minimum tax. But again, lawmakers now headed out on August recess. They're going back to their districts, back to their States.
And for those who are running for re-election, it was very important for Democrats to be able to talk about this when they went home and say that it had passed and be able to discuss what had been put in there. They're now going to be able to do that.
For their part, Republicans continue to criticize this legislation, saying that it will only add to inflation, not bring it down. That it will actually harm businesses, not help them. And you can expect to hear more from them on that as we head into November. They are certainly going to be talking very much about inflation and the economy. But the big picture here as the House makes this very historic vote is that it is a win for Democrats, and it's one they certainly -- even about a month ago, didn't think that they would be seeing. Jessica Dean, CNN, Capitol Hill.
BRUNHUBER: Scientists are warning of a disastrous event that could happen in California in the next four decades, and it's not an earthquake. Have a look here. You're looking at what's now drought- prone areas in the State that are predicted to one day be a vast inland sea. A new study by science advances shows that climate change had doubled the chances of what's called a megaflood. Climate scientists describe it as a severe flood across a broad region and has the potential to bring catastrophic impacts to society. Experts say the flood would be unlike anything anyone alive today has ever experienced.
In neighboring Nevada, an unwelcome water show as heavy rain poured into some Las Vegas casinos. Unbelievable. Have a look here. You can see water gushing through the ceiling onto card tables on Planet Hollywood. It's the second time in two weeks the casinos have been flooded. Las Vegas is facing its wettest monsoon season in a decade.
Meanwhile, concerns over this satellite image of the Rhine River in Germany, showing exceptionally low water levels in some areas due to the lack of rainfall. Shipping has been disrupted on the country's most important inland waterway causing transport costs to soar. And it's not just Germany. Many countries across Western Europe are suffering through record heat and drought.
Have a look here. This is a video from the Medusa Music Festival near the coastal city of Valencia, Spain. And authorities say at least one person is dead and more than a dozen injured after the high winds caused part of the stage to collapse. And you can see the concertgoers evacuating as the wind blows debris around. Al Goodman joins me now from Madrid. So, Al, what more can you tell us about the tragedy there at that festival?
AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: Hi, Kim. Authorities are saying at least 17 injured, three of them seriously in hospital. Now, in an unusual tweet at 3:00 a.m. local time by Spain's National Weather Agency, it warned of 80 kilometer-per-hour winds, that's about 50 mile-per-hour winds in an area that they were talking about, the Alicante Airport which is just down the Mediterranean Coast from where the concert was being held.
And they said the temperatures were around 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit at 3:00 in the morning. Now, just an hour later, in the 4:00 a.m. hour is when officials said the winds hit that festival, collapsing part of the stage, causing that fatality and those injuries. The festival organizers suspended the festival and later issued a statement issuing their condolences to the victim and his -- the victim's family, and also extending their support to everyone else. But clearly, this weekend festival that was supposed to attack -- attract tens of thousands of people on this holiday weekend in Spain has gone seriously wrong with the climate. Kim?
BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely. And speaking of the climate, I mentioned earlier Western Europe dealing not just with heat but with drought as well.
GOODMAN: Well, you mentioned the Rhine River in Germany, now that's a key artery where barges haul grain and chemicals and coal up and down that river. Because of the low waterway, the German rules allow them to keep -- the shippers to keep moving those goods but they have to lighten their loads. So, that is driving up costs. And it's also getting fewer goods to where they're supposed to go, interrupting the supply chain.
Just going another -- to a different country nearby -- to England, the drought conditions there have gotten many, many municipalities prohibiting people from using their hoses to water their gardens and wash their cars. So, in Italy and in other countries of the UK, farmers are struggling. In Northern Italy, farmers are facing a potentially 80 percent loss of their cross -- they're not crops. They're not being able to get enough water for irrigation. They're not being able to grow enough food to feed their cattle and other livestock for the winter. 60 percent of the European Union is under some sort of drought watch and warning right now according to the EU. Kim?
BRUNHUBER: Yes, we heard from the weather center that there is supposed to be rain coming later in the week. But we'll see whether that's enough to counter this extreme drought that we're seeing in that area there. Al Goodman, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Well, it's been almost a year since the U.S. and its allies pulled out of Afghanistan. CNN returned to the capital to see what life is like after a year of Taliban rule. We have our report just ahead.
Plus, an entire generation of Afghan girls are now growing up without formal education. Our guest will explain what that could mean for Afghanistan's future. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Afghan women have all but disappeared from public life under the Taliban. So, this protest today outside the education ministry in Kabul was extremely rare. About 50 women were chanting food, work, and freedom. And then the Taliban arrived.
Now, the crowd ran for cover as the Taliban fired weapons around them to break up the demonstration. The women's rights advocate said the protesters fled to nearby homes and shops for safety. It's not known if anyone was hurt.
Now, Monday marks one year since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan after 20 years of war. What followed was a mad dash to evacuate U.S. and allied troops, foreign civilians, and thousands of Afghans who had worked for the U.S. and its allies. By the time the airlift ended two weeks later, only a small fraction of the Afghans had made it out. 13 U.S. service members were killed in a suicide bombing at the airport before the withdrawal was over.
Well, today, the guns are mostly silent but the country is more impoverished than ever. Food has become a luxury many cannot afford. And huge percentages of Afghan women no longer attend school. CNN's Clarissa Ward has done extensive reporting from Afghanistan and recently returned to Kabul to see what life is now like for ordinary Afghans. Have a look.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN Chief International Correspondent: I think you can probably see behind me we're at a market, there is a sense of normalcy on the streets of the city. There is not the same, sort of, or anything approaching the levels of chaos and violence that we saw playing out during those heart-wrenching scenes last year. But the change has also brought about a real decrease in the standard of living here. A lot of people are now fighting to put food on the table.
The U.N. says that nearly half the country is in a state of acute hunger. The International Rescue Committee says by the second half of this year, they believe -- well, we are now in that second half of this year, more than 90 percent of people will be living below the poverty line. And that's for a whole plethora of reasons. Partly because of sanctions and the freezing of Afghanistan's federal reserves after the Taliban took power. Partly because of the food crisis. Partly because of inflation.
But what you see when you go around -- and I just want to show you a little bit seeing as we're here in this market, you could see there is food. There is food that you can buy. The market stalls are full. But the conversations that we've been having with vendors make it clear that for the vast majority of people, it's become unaffordable, this food. So, flour, I was told by these vendors, has doubled in price. Cooking oil, which is obviously one of the biggest necessities has more than doubled in price. And that's not even before you start talking about the very real changes in the impact that they've had as the Taliban has gradually become firmer in implementing its vision or version of Sharia Law.
BRUNHUBER: Joining me now is Pashtana Dorani the founder and executive director of an NGO for girls' education called LEARN in Afghanistan. And she joins me now from Wellesley, Massachusetts. Thank you so much for being here with us. So, we'll talk specifically about the condition of women and girls in just a moment.
But just speaking more generally, I wanted to start with this. So, when the Taliban took over, there were many dire predictions about what would ensue. So now we're looking at this a year later, looking at the state of the country right now. Are things, you know, not as bad as you thought they might be or worse?
PASHTANA DORANI, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LEARN: I think on rights-wise, on civil rights-wise, on social rights-wise, I think it has never been worse than it is right now. According to security, I cannot say that it's 100 percent secure, but there still is less secure, but then again Taliban were the ones who were bombing everything. So, you cannot, like, complain about it if they are now bombing it, yes.
BRUNHUBER: Yes. So, only from a security perspective, I guess, things might have improved. But when you look at, you know, as we just saw in the piece, access to food and so on and so forth. I mean, they have access but so many people can't go to work, they're not earning money, things like that. I mean, it's a real dire situation for so many people across the country.
DORANI: Oh, yes, definitely. It's negative peace. If -- it's peaceful, but your kids are still starving and they're going to bed hungry, which is what Save the Children report said that was released this week. If the girls -- half of the girls in the country are depressed, if women, 30 percent of the workforce is at home, if millions of girls are out of school, I don't think security would matter at that point because a lot of people don't even have the right to enjoy that security, you know?
BRUNHUBER: Well, exactly. So, that's what I want to ask you about you know. When we last spoke, maybe a couple of months ago, I think we were talking about the condition of women and girls and so many millions of girls can't go to school. And we talked about how, you know, the Taliban banning -- making people wear the head scarf. I mean, that was like the last nail in the coffin of women in Afghanistan because that was the -- basically, the last thing that they could ban. So, looking at this a year later now, how dire is the situation for women and girls specifically?
DORANI: Let me start with the fact that Afghan women in -- apart from the religion, in our culture, we still wear scarves. So, when they were forcing scarf on people who already wear a scarf was the weirdest degree that they were passing. That's the first thing. The second thing is Afghanistan is a communal society. People always go in pairs outside or everything like that. And then they imposed the escort on women where they have to have a mahram or a chaperon to go with them.
I think right now when you look at it and reflect on it, Taliban are using Afghan women for political legitimacy for more aid and political bait so that they can have more power over the International Community. Get more aid, get more time, screen time and be more discussed for their alleged met work (ph) that they do. BRUNHUBER: With so many, you know, women and girls unable to go to school. I mean, is it conceivable, at least in the short to medium term that your generation might be the last educated generation of women in Afghanistan?
DORANI: I mean, probably you can say that, that our generation might be the last one to have advanced structured learning and access to that structured learning and also be able to go abroad and study. Whereas the current generation, other generation that comes after us cannot study outside on scholarships because they're asked to have an escort or chaperon with them. Then the same goes for the girls who are from grade seven to grade 12 cannot even access learning. So, yes, you can say that we might be the last generation who could access structured learning or could go outside to study.
BRUNHUBER: But you and your organization are helping women and girls to learn with these, sort of, hidden schools, something we saw, you know, when the Taliban were last in power in the '90s. Explain to us how exactly that's working and how does that work for so many people who don't necessarily have access to online and so on?
DORANI: So, I think, for now, the reason we do this because we know that when back in the day, the technology was not so much accessible. Even then women didn't lose hope and kids were still learning and kids were still going to underground schools. So, I think it would be a shame if we don't put an effort for the next generation that would ask us. And this is our responsibility.
So, the four schools that we run in four different regions of Afghanistan is to make sure that the next generations have at least 100 leaders per program. So that one day when we become a democracy, those girls are the ones who are leading the country into the best and better phase.
BRUNHUBER: You are still hopeful that your country will become a democracy. Before we go, to that end, what would you ask of the International Community now?
DORANI: I think one thing that I would like to ask the International Community is that change the generation of Afghans you're talking to because the Afghans you have been talking to are either drug lords, warlords, corrupt Taliban, people who have used Afghans as bait for their own power and money. I think it's time that you start listening to people who are actually invested in Afghanistan. And then at the same time, stop posing with the Taliban just because you went to Afghanistan. It's not brave.
At the end of the day, it's Afghan women who are suffering. And at the end of the day, they will continue to suffer if you continue to pose and not stop Taliban from doing what they are doing right now.
BRUNHUBER: All right. We'll have to leave it there. But thank you so much for your insights on this, Pashtana Dorani. Really appreciate it.
DORANI: Of course. Thank you.
BRUNHUBER: And we'll be right back.
BRUNHUBER: The Emmy award-winning actress Anne Heche is still on life support. Although according to the law in California, she's now considered legally dead. Her family says she is brain dead. But doctors are still working to determine if she's a match for organ donations.
Her family called Heche a bright light. A kind and most joyful soul. A loving mother and loyal friend. And Hollywood co-stars remembering her as a lovely woman. The actress was badly burned a week ago when she slammed her car into a house in Los Angeles, setting off a fire. The accident is still under investigation.
The all-star shortstop of the San Diego Padres is out for the rest of the baseball season after he tested positive for a banned substance. Fernando Tatis Jr. was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for the performance-enhancing steroid fastball (ph). El Nino, as he is called, apologized to his team. In a statement, he said he took the drug inadvertently to treat ringworm but failed to check if it was legal. But he's been out all season this season due to a wrist injury and he was on the verge of returning when the suspension was announced.
A vigil in Mexico for 10 miners trapped now for more than a week. Relatives are growing impatient. Some say they're not being kept informed about any progress in the rescue efforts. Authorities say the response team made three dissents into the mine shaft on Friday to remove debris blocking the rescuers. It also announced divers would enter the flooded part of the mine but water levels were still too high. Mexico's attorney general office is requesting a judicial hearing to file charges against the owner of the mine.
Well, that wraps this hour of "CNN Newsroom." I'm Kim Brunhuber. For our viewers in North America, "New Day" is next. For the rest of the world, it's "Connecting Africa."