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More Than 2,000 People Dead After Morocco Earthquake; Soon: Biden Speaks After Wrapping G20, Trip to Vietnam; Category 2 Hurricane Lee May Regain Strength By Monday; Trump, DeSantis Court Football Fans in Iowa. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired September 10, 2023 - 08:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. I'm Amara Walker.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thank you for starting your day with us.

Another aftershock in Morocco. Right now, search crews are combing through rubble, after a powerful 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the country, we were there with the latest.

WALKER: And new clue on the hunt for escaped prison inmate Danelo Cavalcante. Police say the fugitive was spotted on surveillance last night, and has changed his appearance.

BLACKWELL: And an incredible moment. American tennis player Coco Gauff becomes a grand slam champion. We have the highlights.

WALKER: We begin this morning with reports of a 3.9 aftershock in Morocco. This comes two days after Friday's major earthquake in the North African nation. More than 2,000 people were killed, and nearly 2,000 injured in the 6.8 quake. It is the country's deadliest earthquake in decades. And those numbers are expected to rise, as rescuers dig through the rubble.

BLACKWELL: But relief efforts arriving slowly to the most remote areas, drone footage shows the scope of the damage. Look at this. Entire villages have been flattened, homes and buildings are just piles of clay and brick.

Earlier, a person was pulled from under a collapsed building, and carried to safety. Just one of the rescues we're seeing across the country. There was a moment of celebration, before the second night, though, thousands of people have slept in the streets of Marrakesh. Many of them have no home to return to, are facing the threat of aftershocks, they're afraid to sleep in those damaged buildings.


FATIMA SAMIR, MARRAKECH RESIDENT (through translator): I left my son and daughter at home. I was terrified when I saw the houses shaking violently, almost as if in a nightmare. I rushed them back home, gathered our clothing and blankets, and prepared to sleep outside. We have lost -- that I know of, including a family member in her newborn in Subarea (ph) Street.


WALKER: CNN's Nada Bashir joining us from Marrakech.

Nada, what are you seeing?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, Amara, Victor, we are about 44 miles away from the epicenter, but the damage is even evident here, in Marrakech. I'll step out of the frame for a second. You can see behind me, this is one of the buildings here in the medina, the old town, which has sustained damage as a result of Friday night's earthquakes. There are pockets of the city, which is densely populated, which have sustained damage as a result of the earthquake.

But of course, this is nothing in comparison to the sheer devastation that we are seeing around the upper center area -- mountains, and they're of course we have some villages have been completely flattered as a result of that earthquake. The rescue effort is still very much on the going. The -- pressure on these rescue teams over the last two days, it has been quite difficult to get to some of these villages, towards the epicenter. These are remote areas in the mountains, some of the roads have been damaged as a result of the earthquake.

So, it has caused some delay getting those rescue teams there. We've seen videos, we've heard from eyewitnesses describe it themselves, searching for the loved ones beneath the rubble with their own bare hands. But, of course, we do know that the Moroccan government is taking the lead on that search and rescue effort, the military, of course, in charge of that process.

Here in Marrakech, it feels as if people are beginning to return to some sense of normalcy, people are getting on with their lives. But there is still a sense of real fear here. You mentioned there's people been sleeping outside during the night. In another night, we saw families huddled in the streets, many of them afraid that their homes aren't safe, the structures have been damaged in that initial earthquake. They're afraid that there could be a powerful aftershock. And we have seen aftershocks today in that we only go towards heightening that sense of apprehension.

BLACKWELL: Nada, what do you know about the aid that's coming in? The international effort to support?

BASHIR: Well, this is going to be a long, long process for the Moroccan government. Up until this point, we've heard from U.N. coordinating agency on the ground that Morocco has so far independently taken the lead on the search and rescue effort, and on the relief effort as well.

[08:05:07] But in the last few hours, we have learned from those Spanish foreign minister, there have been an official request for it assistance on the relief fronts, it is anticipated that Spain will be deploying additional support when it comes to these search and rescue teams as well as relief effort. But there has been an outpouring of support for the international committee when it comes to humanitarian aid, and there will be hundreds of not thousands of people in need of that humanitarian aid, many of course made homeless, many will have lost their livelihood, of course.

That support will be fundamental at this stage. It is a waiting game to see the extent of the damage, and of course, the true extent of the human death toll.

BLACKWELL: Nada Bashir for us in Marrakech, thanks so much.

Now, as the government efforts are ramping up and the aid is slowly coming in, people there are helping one another.

WALKER: A man who lives in Morocco's capital drove to Marrakech, and the surrounding areas, to help where he could.


MORITZ SCHMOLL, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITE MOHAMMED VI POLYTECHNIQUE: These regions are some of the poorest areas of Morocco, so even before the earthquake the infrastructure wasn't particular good there, and so, the population is quite scattered throughout the mountains, some of the villages and hamlets, we've basically tech firms him and paved roads that weren't even close to the hardest hit areas -- these areas were affected badly, but, I some of the pictures I've seen from the real mountains are really horrific, and these are places that even with unpaved roads are really, really difficult to access. So, it's a lack of basic infrastructure, even before the earthquake.

If you go into the remote villages, where the houses are built in a more makeshift manner there's lots of instability, and the people there are in need of everything, basically, a food and water, and blankets, medication, transportation. And at the moment, they're camping outside and waiting for people, for help to reach them.


WALKER: As we mentioned, relief organizations and governmental agencies are now gathering much needed to supplies to help out in Morocco.

BLACKWELL: This morning, we spoke with a representative from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and here's what he talked about, those massive efforts ahead.


MEY AL SAYEGH, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES: People need food, people need water, as you know the water pipelines are now damaged. The electricity cut off, the roads are blocked, and so people need first basic needs, and they need shelter, and they are traumatized. Psychosocial support is very much needed, and these are the basic needs we have witnessed in many disasters before, and also (INAUDIBLE) also helpful to provide services for the affected people. And from all over the world, we have calls from Red Cross and Red Crescent national society.


BLACKWELL: The Moroccan national football team has been donating blood for the injured. The Atlas Lions, they were scheduled to play Liberia in an African Cup of Nations qualifying match yesterday, but the match was pretty postponed because of the powerful quake. Players are also urging others to do whatever is possible to help. In a post on Instagram, one player wrote, we are living in difficult times, and our thoughts are with all of the injured and the families of the victims.

WALKER: We you can learn how to help the victims of the Morocco earthquake at, or text "Morocco" to 707070 to donate.

We are awaiting remarks from President Biden who is on a key trip to Vietnam in the wake of this appearance at this weekend's G20 Summit.

BLACKWELL: Let's go now to Hanoi, and to CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond. He's traveling with the president. What are we expecting to hear, and when are we expecting to hear from the president?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, we just saw President Biden sitting down with Vietnam's general secretary, and we saw them essentially move forward with this stepped up partnership between these two countries. The formal announcement that we're expecting is for the United States to be up to upgrade their partnership to the comprehensive, strategic level, which is Vietnam's highest tier of diplomatic relations, putting the United States on par with countries like Russia and China.

But it really is significant, when you look at the arc of U.S.-Vietnam relations, from the Vietnam war to today.


And it's a result -- it's really a process that has been decades in the making, as you look at the increasing trade between the U.S. and the Vietnam. But also when you look at Vietnam's growing concerns about China's aggressive military posture in the region, in particular, in the South China Sea.

And so, what you're seeing is, Vietnam here making an attempt to try and counterbalance China's muscular presence in the region, and it's something that the Biden administration has also been actively pursuing. If you look at the last five months, you see President Biden hosting the president of the Philippines at the White House, the first visit of a Filipino leader in more than a decade, hosting the Indian prime minister for a state visit, and then having this very symbolic summit, at Camp David, with his Japanese and South Korean come counterparts.

All of those countries are China's neighbors. All of these countries are joined by this growing concern and wariness of China's posture in the region. Now, President Biden, he just finished up his visit to the G20 in New Delhi, where China was also a focus their, despite the fact that the Chinese president was not present.

But it was that contrast, that opening that President Biden really sought to exploit, as he reached out to hand to developing countries to try and portray the United States as a more reliable, more effective partner in the long term, versus China. So, those will be some of the issues to be covered by President Biden during this news conference, but it's been sometime since we've had a direct formal solo press conference from the president, so you can expect a range of issues will come up.

Some of those divisions at the G20, including on the issue of Ukraine is following that joint statement that did not directly condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, that could be a topic here. But, of course, there is the political trap backdrop. We are heading into a reelection season here, and President Biden is facing some of the lowest poll numbers of his presidency.

So, a whole range of issues to be covered here, and we're expecting the president, if he's on time, in the next hour. But it could be later than that, we will have to see. But we'll be there for you guys.

BLACKWELL: If he's on time. We will see.

Jeremy Diamond there for us here, in Hanoi, traveling with the president.

With us now, Aaron David Miller, senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment and former Middle East negotiator for the State Department, and Kim Dozier, CNN global affairs analyst and senior managing editor for "The Military Times".

All right. There's so much to discuss, let's start though with the G20, before we come back to Hanoi, and we are awaiting these remarks from the president and the secretary general.

The White House says, specifically, when it comes to the absence of Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin, this was an opportunity for the U.S. The G20 hosted by India, along with the U.S. and South Africa there, all reaffirming the group as the premier form for international cooperation.

Let me start with you, Aaron, what did the president accomplish on this visit, and was this accomplishment in any way aided in the absence of Xi and Putin?

AARON DAVID MILLER, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT MIDDLE EAST NEGOTIATOR: I think there's a paradox here, Victor. The fact that you -- to demonstrate that in effect, the United States could be the security and economic partner, particularly the ladder, for a lot of countries in the Global South, which is itself a complicated block, eager I think to benefit from the economic proposals the president brought, particularly leveraging maybe $200 billion for food security and infrastructure, and digital reform.

The reality though, is that that declaration, the G20's consensus, which most experts believe they would not reach, was reached in large part because there are any number of nations which are simply not willing to follow the American lead if it means alienating Russia, and China. I think the administration simply settled for that reality, and accepted language on Ukraine that was a real walk back from the Bali G20 last year.

WALKER: Yeah. Let's talk about that walk back, Kimberly, because that was one key point of contention. The G20 not explicitly condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as it did in 2020. I will show you these joint declarations side by side.

So, this year, the leaders declared in part all states must refrain from that threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition. Last year, in 2022, much strong warning, saying most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine. Despite Putin being absent, despite Xi being absent, why this softer stance on Russia?

KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think you're seeing the combination of a couple factors. One of them is, we are further into the war.


The shock isn't as fresh. But the other factor is, the waning of role (ph) on the Biden presidency. International leaders, they also see those poll numbers, and they know that they need to head to their bets with Russia and China, because perhaps, especially with Russia, perhaps the next U.S. president is going to be a pro-Russia GOP candidate instead.

So why make a sacrifice for this president who is just on the cusp of being in his fourth year presidency trying to get another term.

BLACKWELL: Aaron, the addition of another representative of the African Union to the group, something that several members, including Narendra Modi, have advocated for. Africa has a young population, additional 1.3 billion people, over the next two and a half decades or so. The significance of adding the E.U. to this group?

MILLER: Well, again, it was an effort both to reach out to the Global South, 55 countries, the G20, which is basically 19 countries plus the E.U., is now going to be the G21. I think it's an important indication of the seriousness with which the developing world is taking Africa. At least that's the case.

As you pointed out, within the decade, population in Africa is going to comprise a quarter of the world's population. So, I think that was an important point.

It's also a real testament to Modi. The big winner here, Victor and Amara, is I think is Modi's India. He pulled off a relatively flawless summit, with a consensus and a declaration I think few people believed he could get, and he's seeking to become a bridge between the West, the developing world, and the Global South.

So, for Modi, and there was very little criticism, probably no criticism of his human rights record, and his aggressive Hindu nationalism. It was quite interesting that they all paid respects to the Mahatma Gandhi memorial in a way Gandhi -- Gandhi preached Muslim- Hindu unity, and it's a very much a controversial issue in Modi's India today.

WALKER: Kimberly, we'll give you the last word before we go, and back to the point that this was seen as an opportunity for President Biden to say to the world, hey, Xi and Putin aren't here, here's your chance to align with us. From an economic standpoint, and countering China from an economic standpoint, you know, Biden presented this alternative partnership, right, to the developing world, rather than China, i.e., you know, China's belt and road initiative, that I think is a one trillion dollar infrastructure project that lends money to these developing nations, Biden presented this alternative, pushing these global banks to increase their lending power.

How did that resonate?

DOZIER: Well, I think the developing nations at this point are saying, show me. They are still being asked by the Biden administration to take public sanctions against Russia, which is starting to put them domestically -- taken part in the sanctions, but on the China side, Beijing did a little bit of a misstep (INAUDIBLE) before the G20, which was to release its annual map of areas that it claims for itself, and it defended nearly every Asian nation who attended the G20 summit, including Vietnam, by laying claim to parts of territory that Vietnam and the other nations consider their own. So, Biden was able to take advantage of that.

WALKER: All right. We're going to have to leave it there. Aaron David Miller, and Kimberly Dozier, appreciate you both, thank you.

And as we said, we are waiting for the president's news conference to begin, as he's now in Vietnam, trying to enhance that relationship. We'll bring it to you live, when it happens.

Up next, 2024 contenders look to score points with voters as candidates take their message to tailgate party in Iowa.

BLACKWELL: Plus, a category 2 hurricane is churning in the Atlantic, and it could really strengthen and get larger in the days to come. We'll take a look at the threat that Hurricane Lee could pose, and the impact on the Atlantic coast.



BLACKWELL: Developing this morning there is been another reported sighting of escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante. Police say the fugitive was spotted last night in the northern Chester County area near Phoenixville and Cavalcante has changed his appearance. He's now clean shaven, was last seen wearing a yellow or green hooded sweatshirt, a black baseball cap, green prison pants, and white shoes. Police also say he may be in a vehicle, that maybe is a white vehicle.

WALKER: Hurricane Lee is still churning in the Atlantic Ocean, with sustained winds of 105 miles per hour. Lee is currently at category two hurricane, but it is expected to really strengthen and then get larger in the coming days.

BLACKWELL: It's not clear if the hurricane will make landfall, forecasters say the storm will still bring dangerous surf and life threatening rip currents to the Atlantic Coast.

Let's go now to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar in the weather center.

So what are you seeing?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: So, I just want to point out, today is September 10th, this is the statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. We've got hurricane lee, the last update coming in with sustained winds of 100 my five miles per hour, that movement is to the west, northwest in just nine miles per hour.

It's going to continue that westward movement over the next 24 to 48 hours, it is expected to strengthen a bit. It's going to get into an area that has less shear, allowing for it to intensify back up to a category four storm, before finally starting to make its way off north. Now, when it makes that right turn, is kind of a little bit uncertain at the moment.


All the models kind of vary. They fall within this red box, but exactly when it makes that right turn is really uncertain at this point. That has big implications, the longer it takes to make that turn, the closer it'll make its approach to the U.S. East Coast.

The faster it makes that right turn, the more likely it is to head up towards Nova Scotia, Canada, by the end of the week. Right now, this high pressure system, the Bermuda High is really what's steering Lee at the moment. Now, over the next couple days, that high is expected to break away, begin weaken, a secondary high sitting on the southern portion of Florida, also becomes a factor, and also this. This low pressure system riding along the trough, that's going to have some steering concerns about where Lee goes.

We still have the possible path of taking it up along the East Coast, or others that take a closer to Bermuda, but certainly something we'll have to keep an eye on in the coming days.

BLACKWELL: Allison Chinchar, thank you.

WALKER: All right. Turning now to the presidential race, and the former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis crossed paths in Iowa on Saturday, at the Iowa versus Iowa State football game.

BLACKWELL: Trump and DeSantis attended tailgates, separate ones, before the game, to try to score some points of the voters. DeSantis even commented on former president Trump's long going legal troubles, and touted his efforts to visit all 99 counties in Iowa.

CNN's Kyung Lah has details.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amara and Victor, here in Ames, Iowa, the day is all about Iowa football. But for the presidential candidates running in this first of the nation caucus state, it is a political opportunity. Both Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis came to the game, they both sat inside, DeSantis with the crowd sitting beside Iowa's popular Republican governor. Donald Trump sat in a stadium box.

But I want you to take a look, as the former president exited the stadium.


LAH: You can hear the crowd chanting, and loudly applauding. This is an image that Trump's campaign certainly wants Iowa voters to see, ahead of going inside, Trump and DeSantis both were tailgating. Donald Trump stopping at a tailgate party hosted by a fraternity. He flipped burgers and signed footballs, even tossing some footballs around.

Ron DeSantis trying to do very much the same, drum up the same sort of excitement, tailgating as well. What he did, though, is to focus on the number of political visits he's made to the state, eight in total, far more than Donald Trump. He pointed out to reporters, also saying he has visited more than half of Iowa's 99 counties.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm actually starting to hear people saying, because you're showing up, I'm supporting you, because that's the way you got to do it. Iowans don't what the campaign to be about the past, or to be about the candidate's issues. They wanted to be about their future, and the future of this country. And that's what I represent.

LAH: More than 60,000 people were at this game, this rivalry game between Iowa and Iowa state. Students saying they enjoyed the spectacle, but they were far more interested in the football, and as far as the results of a ball game, Iowa topped Iowa State 20 to 13 -- Victor, Amara.


WALKER: Coming up, Coco steals the show at the U.S. Open. We'll show you how the 19-year-old superstar rallied from behind, to secure her first grand slam.



BLACKWELL: Coco Gauff has won the U.S. Open, and now is a Grand Slam champion for the first time.

WALKER: How great is that? The 19-year-old pulled off an incredible comeback win in front of the home crowd in New York.

Coy Wire joining us now from New York. This was something so special to watch, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Hi, Amara and Victor.

Coco Gauff becoming the first American teen to win the U.S. Open since her idol Serena Williams' in 1999.

She had to rally after losing the first set. 27 of the last 28 players to win the first set had gone on to win the U.S. open. But the crowd started chanting let's go Coco and she found another gear.

Aryna Sabalenka, the Australia Open champ never stood a chance. Coco taking the first four games of the third set and watch Amara and Victor as she hits the winner. She collapses to the court.

Coco turned pro at 14 years old. She had to graduate high school virtually in Paris during the French open last year and now at 19 she claims her first-ever career Grand Slam title, just over a decade ago, she was in the stands there at Arthur Ashe Stadium as a fan and now she's showing that dreams really can come true.


COCO GAUFF, U.S. OPEN 2023 CHAMPION: That little girl, like she had the dream, but, you know, I don't know if she fully believed it. As a kid you have so many dreams that, you know, as you get older sometimes they can fiddle away. I would tell her, don't lose that dream.

Honestly I feel like I lost a little bit of the dream as this journey has gone but I would just tell her just keep working hard and keep believing in that dream and don't let the doubters diminish that.


WIRE: The university of Texas is back. The 11th ranked Longhorns on the mark, piercing the soul of the number 3 Crimson Tide, pulling off a crushing upset in Tuscaloosa.

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers making Xavier (ph) worthy the pot of gold at the end the 44-yard rainbow. It's one of Ewers' three passing touchdowns on the day.

And how about that Longhorns defense? Sacking 'Bama quarterback Jalen Milroe five times, forcing two interceptions including to (INAUDIBLE) Thompson in the fourth -- hook 'em. 34-24 the win.

This was Nick Saban's first nonconference home loss in 16 years. And set your fantasy lineups. The first NFL Sunday of the year is

here. One of the favorites to win it all this year, the 49ers led by Mr. Indispensable quarterback Brock Purdy on the road against the Steelers.


WIRE: And another Jalen Hurts and the Eagles looking to run it back to the Super Bowl after losing to the Chiefs last season. They start by trying to spoil the party.

The Patriots have planned to honor Tom Brady at halftime. He won six of his seven Super Bowl title there.

And a new era in the NFL's oldest rivalry. Jordan Love replacing four- time MVP Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. They'll be taking on Justin Fields and the Bears in Chicago.

And tonight, my one-hour documentary exploring the fight to make America's most popular sport safer. We go behind the scenes at an NFL- funded research lab testing new equipment like safer helmets. The one I wore back in the day is banned now. It's not safe enough.

We have head coaches Andy Reid of the Chiefs, Bills' Sean McDermott, current and former players revealing a whole new world of player safety in the NFL.

But it's not just them. Take a look.


WIRE: The first-ever championship game for this spring football league and their new owners -- the XFL. And it has some major star power behind it. Co-owners Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Danny Garcia, athletes who met back in college in the early 90s.

DWAYNE JOHNSON, ACTOR: We love the league, the NFL. I mean that was the dream was to get to the league.

I was at the University of Miami, full scholarship. Freshman year, we're the reigning defending national champions. Right, you know, that was a hell of a team we had back then.

My coach called me in, said you're going to be the only freshman to play. It's going to be, this is amazing. Keep working hard.

That was the last day of practice in pads. Completely tore my shoulder. Had to get a complete reconstruction done. Tailspinned out, fell into depression.


WIRE: The Rock knows all too well the dangers of the game so he and co-owner, Danny Garcia tell us they're XFL is changing the game to make it safer. That's important with NFL and the other pros are doing because it has a trickle down effect on the collegiate, high school and youth levels to hopefully make their league safer as well.

WALKER: Absolutely does. The influence, tremendous.

Look forward to seeing that, Coy. Thank you.

And you can catch Coy's inside look at player safety on "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" tonight at 8:00 on CNN.

WALKER: And still to come, a stark warning from FBI director Christopher Wray. He says the number of Russian Spies operating inside the United States is still way too big. His words. That despite efforts to kick them out.

WALKER: And we're also waiting on President Biden to speak. You are looking at live pictures there from Hanoi. The president is there after finishing the G20 summit. We're going to bring you his remarks as soon as they begin.



BLACKWELL: FBI director Christopher Wray is warning that the threat of Russian spies operating in the U.S. is growing and the government is making every effort to stop them.

WALKER: Wray also said that Moscow is not just using Russian intelligence officers, but also individuals who act as intermediaries between agents.

CNN's Katie Bo Lillis with more.

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Victor and Amara.

During public remarks given on Thursday night at the Spy Museum in Washington, FBI director Christopher Wray warned that the number of Russian spies operating inside the United States is quote, "still way too big", despite U.S. efforts to kick them out.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The Russian intelligence footprint and by that I mean intelligence officers, is still way too big in the United States. And something that we're constantly bumping up against and trying to block and prevent and disrupt in every way we can.


LILLIS: This is, of course, a core responsibility of the FBI, to root out foreign spies operating on U.S. soil. So to a certain extent the reaction to this from some former intelligence officials that I spoke to was sort of that old Casablanca line. I'm shocked to find that gambling is going on here. We do know that there have been a number of high-profile espionage cases involving Russian nationals in recent year. President Trump in 2018 expelled 60 Russian diplomats that the U.S. had identified as intelligence officers and ordered the closing of the Russian consulate in Seattle.

Earlier this year the Justice Department under the Biden administration charged a Russian national who prosecutors had specifically said had been gathering information from American citizens about the then looming Russian invasion of Ukraine.

One other thing to understand here that Wray mentioned is that Russia doesn't always use traditional intelligence officers to collect information.

Moscow sometimes uses cutouts like a Mexican national arrested by U.S. authorities in 2020 for allegedly assisting Russian intelligence.

Wray did say on Thursday that the U.S. has made good progress in identifying good old-fashioned Russian spies and taking them out of the country.

But spying is also the world's second oldest profession as intelligence officers love to tell you. and so to some degree officials are always sort of playing whack-a-mole.

One thing that we should never forget is that the U.S. is trying to do exactly the same thing. U.S. intelligence agencies are actively working to recruit their own Russian spies to provide information to the United States about Russia.

The CIA just this week issued another recruitment video encouraging Russian citizens to contact them and showing them how to do so securely. So in other words, Victor, Amara -- the games continue.

BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you very much.

And coming up on "STATE OF THE UNION" Jake Tapper will sit down with Secretary of State Antony Blinken as well as 2024 GOP candidate Nikki Haley and Texas Congressman Michael McCaul. That at the top of the hour right here on CNN.


WALKER: Up next, an intense late summer heat wave is putting pressure on schools, some even forced to cancel classes amid record temps. So are the heat days the new snow days?


BLACKWELL: A new report from the U.N. and European Union shows this summer was far and away the hottest on record. From June to August, earth's global average was around 62 degrees Fahrenheit. It's the warmest that period has seen since they began record temperatures in 1940.

WALKER: Now scorching heat is stretching into September and shutting down classes, going virtual and causing major disruption for schools and parents just as the academic year is beginning.

CNN's Gabe Cohen has more. [08:49:48]




GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As scorching heat bakes Baltimore, these kindergarteners and first graders are heading home from school hours early.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's too hot.

COHEN: The rest of the students are staying home entirely, taking virtual classes all week because the school has no central air- conditioning.

Is it hot in there?

DELANO FAISON, STUDENT: Yes. It was super hot.

COHEN: 7-year-old Delano (ph) and his mother Patricia are frustrated.

FAISON: I want this to go away and winter today.

COHEN: Do you worry about your son's safety when it's this hot out and there's no air-conditioning in the school?

PATRICIA, MOTHER OF DELANO: Yes, I do because he has asthma.

COHEN: 15 Baltimore schools are on similar heat schedules this week, because they lack air-conditioning. In some cases, delivering cooling units to classrooms.

I can already feel this place heating up.

ANDRE RILEY, SPOKESPERSON, BALTIMORE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Yes, imagine trying to learn in an environment with this warm.

COHEN: Andre Riley, a district spokesperson took us inside these empty classrooms.

RILEY: It's better to shift them to an environment where we can have the focus again be on teaching and learning, as opposed to, it's hot.

COHEN: This widespread heat wave is closing classrooms from Connecticut to Wisconsin. In Pittsburgh, dozens of schools are going virtual. In Philadelphia 74 schools dismissed early on the first day.

Near Detroit, an entire district shut down Tuesday because of the heat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really doesn't make any sense to me why they don't have air-conditioning.

COHEN: Parents at this D.C. school are upset that kids are in class despite a broken cooling system.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know how hot it's going to be every summer. So the fact that they aren't really prepared for these kinds of incidents is a little ridiculous.

COHEN: A 2020 government report estimated that 41 percent of public school districts need to update or replace HVAC systems in at least half their schools -- 36,000 in all. Many of them spent COVID relief dollars on HVAC improvement. But districts not known for sweltering September temps are now struggling with what could be a new climate- fueled norm with recent heat days in major districts like Kansas City, Denver and Milwaukee.

How big of a setback can this be for students to have several heat days in a row at the start of school?

RILEY: Definitely not preferable. You don't want to send students home early or transition them to a virtual environment for a long period of time.

COHEN: At a time when kids are still recovering from pandemic learning loss, many like Delano, are headed right back home.

PATRICIA: I mean what are we going to do? We can't just keep letting them go without the air.


BLACKWELL: Gabe Cohen reporting from Baltimore. Thank you.

Still to come, this is, I guess, New York's latest and perhaps most bizarre tourist attraction. We'll tell you what's prompted some people to check out the city's rats.



WALKER: I really don't get it, but have you seen this new viral TikTok?

BLACKWELL: I've not. I'm not on the TickyToks. I'm not cool enough. Most people tend to run away from rats, but some people are running towards them in New York.

CNN's Jeanne Moos explains why.




MOOS: It's Rat-Tok. Rat Tok's a scream, featuring regular nighttime excursions to record New York city rats, dodging the feet of pedestrians or better yet, colliding with them. Descending like a fireman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this. Oh, my God.

MOOS: Down a pole. Some fans are so into it that instead of visiting the Empire State Building or Lady Liberty, they'd rather take liberties with rats, by arranging a rat tour.

Like this Pennsylvania man, who grabbed a rat's tail at a construction site in Queens. The guy who runs Rat Tok is no rat-loving Willard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'll do anything I tell them.

MOOS: Do you have a thing for rats?

KENNY BULWARK (ph), RAT-TOK: Absolutely not. I don't like rats at all.

MOOS: Kenny Bulwark started streaming rats live on TikTok so he could rat them out to the city of New York for extermination. But then his videos started drawing fans. How could they not when you can see Kenny's friend, Mario, show up with a fishing rod.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, buddy, how they biting?

MOOS: Oh, they were biting.

He caught a rat? Well, he didn't catch one, but what happened?

BULWARK: Yes, so he threw the bread out there on the wire. There was no bait or hook, or anything like that. We weren't trying to harm it. It was kind of just for fun.

And since out of towners seem excited to see rats --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My first rat experience in New York.

MOOS: Kenny started offering free rat tours.

BULWARK: Make their memories.

MOOS: See them fight over a bagel, feel them run between your feet, even a New York city rat knows --

FRANK SINATRA, SINGER: If I can make it there, you know I'm going to make it anywhere --

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

SINATRA: New York.

MOOS: New York.



WALKER: If you, I don't know, want to go on a diet and lose your appetite completely, watch that TikTok video.

BLACKWELL: That is the nastiest mess I think I've seen on this show and I've been doing this for 11 years.

WALKER: You look really disturbed, as am I.

BLACKWELL: I mean, people just need other things to do. Like, are we going out and chasing rats with chunks of bread?

WALKER: Just for fun?

BLACKWELL: I don't know.


WALKER: 8 million is the number of rats running wild in the city, that's according to the Society for Microbiology. They can run their own city.

BLACKWELL: And the mayor's trying to do something about it. I mean -- we did a whole package on rats running around New York City.

Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

WALKER: Have a great morning.

"STATE OF THE UNION" is next. Have a great day.