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Erin Burnett Outfront

CDC: 91 Percent of U.S. Seeing Substantial to High COVID Transmission; FDA Authorization for Boosters for Some Immunocompromised People Expected Within Next 24 Hours; Israel OK's for People 50 Plus; San Fran Sheriff's Dept Union: Deputies will Quit Over Vaccine Mandate; About 23 Percent of Deputies not Vaccinated; Census Data Shows a More Diverse America: White Population Shrinks as Hispanics and Asians Fuel Growth. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 12, 2021 - 19:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Ariane, thanks so much.

I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks very much for watching tonight.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the CDC warning that 90 percent of the counties in America now meet the standard for masking indoors as more vaccine mandates go into effect tonight. Can the United States slow down the rapid spread? The Surgeon General is my guest tonight.

Plus, the U.S. now sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan to help evacuate Americans as the security situation there deteriorates by the hour. Top Pentagon official is OUTFRONT.

And he's a little-known Congressman from Pennsylvania, but he played a crucial role in pushing Trump's big lie. So who is he? And just how much power does he have? We'll find out. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, ringing alarm bells. That is the warning tonight from one governor as COVID hospitalizations rise in the United States as Americans await the authorization of a third vaccine shot for some immunocompromised people to start off. That is expected to come in the next 24 hours. But right now, the CDC Director warning the situation is getting worse.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Now, over 90 percent of counties in the United States are experiencing substantial or high transmission. As we have been saying by far, those at highest risk remain people who have not yet been vaccinated.


BURNETT: And that is evident in some of the states with the lowest vaccination rates in the United States. The Louisiana Department of Health is reporting its highest number of hospitalizations at any point since the pandemic began. Mississippi is also surpassing its prior record of COVID hospitalizations, prompting the Governor of Kentucky to say this.


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D) KENTUCKY: What we are seeing just to the south, which we always see first, we saw it last summer, we've seen it at other times, ought to be ringing alarm bells throughout this Commonwealth. We never thought we'd see ourselves at a point like that again.


BURNETT: Talking about Mississippi to the south. Well, look, many of us did not - well, we all hoped we'd not be here again, right, but we are thanks to the 41.1 percent of eligible Americans or eligible people in fact in this country who have not gotten vaccinated and thanks to some Republican governors, most vocally the ones of Florida and Texas trying to ban mask mandates.


JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: In the past week, Florida has had more COVID cases than all 30 states with the lowest case rates combined. And Florida and Texas alone have accounted for nearly 40 percent of new hospitalizations across the country.


BURNETT: And the problem right now is not just for adults.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This isn't about politics. This is about keeping our children safe.


BURNETT: While the number of new hospitalizations of children with COVID is up 21 percent over the past week alone. Now, some lawmakers in the U.S. are taking a stand to try to save children and the rest of us. Tonight, Virginia's Governor announced an indoor mask requirement in all K through 12 schools. And that's just among some of them, although of course in Utah, they just said you can't do that. Jeff Zeleny is, OUTFRONT at the White House. So Jeff, how concerned is the White House right now about these rising hospitalization numbers?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORREPONDENT: Erin, there's no doubt the White House and President Obama, excuse me, President Biden, first and foremost, is focused on those hospitalizations, specifically in those states. You heard the COVID advisors, they're talking about the cases in Florida, in Texas across the south, the Mississippi hospital system on the cusp of failing. So the White House without a doubt is watching these rising hospitalization rates. But they're also worried about a variety of other things, including the increasing harsh politics about all this. The President speaking again today for the first time, specifically about these school board meetings when there are fights breaking out, healthcare workers being assaulted, so that is another thing that White House is definitely worried about, but also about the fact of boosters.

Boosters, of course, the White House really walked up to the edge of saying that people who are immune compromised will be soon urge to receive boosters and the rest of the public may not be far behind. So those are all the things on the plate, certainly of the Biden administration as the President headed back to Wilmington to try and resume his summer vacation, Erin.

This COVID fire is raging significantly. The pandemic is politicized and there is no direct end in sight. They're wondering at the end of the summer will this look even worse than it looks now, Erin.


BURNETT: All right. JEFF Zeleny. Thank you very much.

And I want to go out front now to Dr. Vivek Murthy. He is, of course, the U.S. Surgeon General.

So Dr. Murthy, I want to start with the overall picture in the United States, 90 percent of counties in America are now showing substantial or high levels of community transmission. Mississippi and Louisiana, as I mentioned, surpassed their own records for hospitalizations, Florida and Texas now account for nearly 40 percent of new hospitalizations across America. How concerned are you right now, Doctor?

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, I'm deeply concerned. I mean, you look at these numbers day in and day out. And the behind those numbers are the stories of individuals who are getting sick, families that are despairing, and people who are hospitalized and losing their lives. And that is so deeply troubling to see, especially now that we're a year and a half into this pandemic.

But the good news, and this is really important, Erin, the good news is that we know how to get through this. The vaccine which we didn't have last year has proven again and again, that it can save lives and prevent people from getting into the hospital. What we got to do is get more people to take it and that's a real challenge.

I've been encouraged to see vaccination rates go up, especially in hard hit states. But it can't happen fast enough, because the Delta variant is the most contagious variant we've seen to date and we're in a race against this variant. It's the vaccines versus the variant.

BURNETT: So we're still waiting for the U.S. to formally OK a third shot for immunocompromised people. We were told it could happen within 48 hours yesterday. So it could happen at any point. Dr. Murthy, though, about two weeks ago you said and I quote you, "At this point, I want to be very clear, people do not need to go out and get a booster shot." What changed?

MURTHY: Well, so I want to make a distinction, specifically when we're talking about the immunocompromised population, which is around less, a little less than 3 percent of our population. We're talking about a population that we have concerns about because we know that, for example, if you are an organ transplant recipient and you're on medications that suppress your immune system or if you're getting treatment for cancer with strong medications that also suppress your immune system that you may not have been able to mount a strong immune protective response when you got your first shot or your first two shots at the vaccine.

So that is why the FDA is working closely with the vaccine manufacturers to make sure that we can get a third dose to immunocompromised individuals. And we're hoping to move that as quickly as possible because we want to protect these individuals from COVID to the greatest extent we can.

BURNETT: Right. So the day after you said that people don't need a booster shot and I understand you were talking about people overall, but on that day after, Israel approved a third shot for anyone over 60. And even today, Israel's announced anyone over 50 can get a third shot now too and they have put out their data as to why.

So why is that not happening here? I mean, do you think the Israeli data is wrong or is the United States just going to follow Israel in a little bit of time?

MURTHY: Well, I'm glad you asked that question, Erin. So let's talk about the concept of booster to the broader population. And there, one thing I want to be clear about, is we are saying that today we are not recommending that people go out and get boosters, but let me tell you how we're making that decision.

We're looking at a number of data sources, including the Israeli data, the data from the U.K., data from Canada and from other countries. We're looking at data from the pharmaceutical companies, which have been following the individuals who were involved in their trial last year and we're looking at data from here, from within the United States, from private healthcare systems, from the U.S. government.

And what we're looking for is the following. We're trying to understand if there's a decrease in protection that's manifesting as a significant increase in breakthrough infections, particularly breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths. And we look at that data very regularly closely.

When we see the threshold met, that's when we'll recommend boosters for additional people. But that's an if question, it's a when question and the data is going to drive our decision on that.

BURNETT: OK. So the bottom line is, you're looking, you're saying basically a broader set of data than Israel or you have a different threshold?

MURTHY: Well, we're looking at a very broad set of data. And I should tell you that in some of the data you look at, it's reassuring. Others may show different numbers. We've got to put it all together and look at the broader trend, understand if a threshold has been met and then decide when a booster may be indicated if it's indicated.

But what I want people to know is we're looking at that closely like we literally talk about it every day and if and when boosters are needed, we will have the supply because we've been planning for this.

BURNETT: So a new preprint study shows Pfizer's efficacy drops to 42 percent across the United States at the end of July. Interestingly, Moderna's was very different. It was a nearly double that at 76 percent.


But Pfizer's was at 42 percent. Do you think that that's valid or are you seeing things that contradict that?

MURTHY: Yes. It's a good question, Erin. And I know the study you're talking about, I looked at it. And I think in this environment, we have to be cautious about interpreting a single study as being indicative of what may be happening across the board. There are data sets that we've seen, which show that the efficacy and breakthrough rate quite low. There are others like the Mayo Clinic, which may be a bit different. But we have to look at the totality of the evidence and then decide ultimately when to act.

But here's the key thing and you saw this even in that Mayo Clinic study, hospitalizations and deaths, those are still very, very low in people who are vaccinated. So that's the key is if you want to, again, be protected from death and hospitalization and severe disease, getting vaccinated even with a Delta variant is still the right pathway.

BURNETT: So a group of people who cannot be protected against hospitalization and severe illness by the vaccine, of course, are kids under 12. And the American Academy of Pediatrics is saying the FDA needs to authorize the vaccines for kids in that age group. Based on the initial trial data already available, they say it is time.

The FDA we understand, though, is asking for more data. Here's what the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics just told my colleague, Wolf, yesterday.


DR. LEE SAVIO BEERS, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: It's really important to make sure that we are approaching authorization of the COVID vaccine for our youngest children with the same urgency that we did in adults, because it really is a very urgent situation.


BURNETT: So should the FDA move quickly on this and try to get these young kids in the vaccine pipeline and then act a couple weeks here?

MURTHY: Well, Erin, let me tell you this and I know you and I are both parents, and we think about how to protect our kids all the time. My kids are under 12. They are not eligible yet for a vaccine and I want a vaccine available for them as soon as possible. But what I can tell you is this, in my conversations with the FDA, they are very clear that their highest priority are COVID vaccines for the broader population, including kids.

But in order to approve a vaccine or authorized one for kids under 12, number one, the trials have to be completed, the data has to be submitted by the company and then it has to be evaluated by the FDA. What the FDA is trying to balance is speed with thoroughness. Because as all of us parents know, we want our kids to be protected, but we also want to be sure that the vaccines have been thoroughly evaluated for both safety and efficacy.

So they're going to move as quickly as they can in partnership with the companies but the companies still have their trials ongoing. They've got to submit that data ultimately to the FDA first.

BURNETT: All right. Dr. Murthy, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

MURTHY: Of course. Thank you so much, Erin. Take care.

BURNETT: All right. And next, San Francisco Police fighting back against the city's vaccine mandate. They're threatening mask resignations and early retirement. The head of the deputy sheriff's union is OUTFRONT.

Plus, the number of white people in the United States fell for the first time since 1790. Is that why highly charged messages like this are gaining traction?


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The Democratic Party is trying to replace the current Electorate, the voters now casting ballots with new people more obedient voters from the third world.


BURNETT: And unprecedented numbers, record numbers of migrants apprehended at the southern border. So what is the Biden administration doing without it?



BURNETT: New tonight, San Francisco becoming the first major American city to require proof of full vaccinations for some indoor activities. Mayor London Breed is saying that as of August 20th, anyone 12 or older has to show proof to enter places including an indoor restaurant, a gym or a theater. This as the city Sheriff's Department warns there will be a wave of resignations of San Francisco's vaccine mandate for its employees is enforced. So OUTFRONT now, Ken Lomba. He is the President of the Deputy Sheriff's Association for San Francisco.

Ken, I really appreciate your time. So this goes to the heart of it. It's your police department, it's others as well. I know you've been hearing about this directly from your members. According to a Facebook post, 160 deputies which is about 23 percent of the force there of the deputies are not vaccinated. What are you doing to talk them out of potentially resigning, one? And two, what are you doing to encourage them to get the vaccine?

KEN LOMBA, PRESIDENT, SAN FRANCISCO DEPUTY SHERIFF'S ASSOCIATION: Hi, Erin. Thank you for allowing us to be on the show. We're definitely working on it. The city is putting out a very robust educational program for COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the Sheriff's Department.

And recently they even started a hotline for your deputies, police, fire nurses, other employees to call in getting answer to questions and help them with their concerns with the vaccines. And I do want to let you know some good news, our vaccine rate is going up.

BURNETT: That's good.

LOMBA: The majority of our deputies are vaccinated and it's increasing and we are encouraging that. We encourage that obviously verbally and also with our communication methods with our members, with our email newsletters and so forth.

BURNETT: So I know that there is a possibility of testing and I know that there's some deputies who say, OK, well, I'm not going to get vaccinated, but I'll get tested regularly. Of course, we all know that that's not foolproof, you can, depending on how often you're testing, you don't always know when someone has it. Of course testing also - they're doing it every single day and PCR can be very expensive.

What are you doing about that, about having them understand the testing is not the first thing, right? The first thing is a vaccine that they should be looking at.

LOMBA: Well, the Deputy Sheriff's actually practice a very high standard of COVID-19 safety measures along with wearing the mask and I understand your position, what you're stating on the testing as well.


But we do know testing does work. There are some failure rates with it, but majority of it, it is a working system. They do wear masks. We have your hand sanitizers throughout your facilities. We provide them gloves. They do stay the distance. So they're practicing all the safety measures as well. We just let you know we are advocating - go ahead. We are advocating for ...

BURNETT: No, I know. You made it clear, you're advocating for the vaccine. I understand that. But who pays for the testing, though? LOMBA: Well, it could be a variety of sources. Right now the city is but even outside of that there are a lot of locations that do provide testing, you have private companies. So there's a lot of resources out there. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure if you're aware of this or if you heard of a company called Tiger Tech where they have a electronic device that is FDA approved and does do the COVID testing as well.

BURNETT: Yes, absolutely. So on the San Francisco Sheriff's website, there's a photo with a caption, Sheriff's deputies are getting vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones and the people they protect and serve. And a captain who survived COVID also posted this message.


CAP. STEPHEN TILTON, SAN FRANCISCO SHERIFF'S OFFICE: I feel much better after getting the vaccination. I'm very happy that I got vaccinated. There really are no excuses. Please get vaccinated and protect yourself and others around you.


BURNETT: How effective is that?

LOMBA: I think is very effective. I do know that Captain. He is a friend of mine. We communicate often I think that's a very effective message. But also we do have a group of members that are concerned about the vaccines, too. They're concerned about the side effects. They would like to wait for FDA approval, approved vaccines.

And as a matter of fact, some of them would even like to wait for some of the newer vaccines that are coming out that are more effective. So I think our vaccination rate is going to increase. I just hope we have the opportunity to take advantage of the newer vaccines, the FDA approved vaccines and we want to avoid termination.

Right now with the mandates, the city is - the only other option is vaccinate or terminate. It's a very strong and extreme position. And we're low staffed, the police department is low staffed, the nurses are low staffed, other city departments are low staff. And if they're going to be terminating employees, we're going to get into an emergency staffing crisis in San Francisco and that's really going to affect public safety.

Human life is priceless and it's really unfortunate the amount of deaths with COVID-19. And in San Francisco this year, there's approximately about 130 deaths. But I'd like you also compare that to the drug overdose deaths. There are about 50 a month or we're actually approaching 700 drug overdose deaths this year.

So in comparison, I mean, COVID-19 in San Francisco is an emergency. The city is mandating some very extreme mandates, but on a parallel level of an emergency are the drug overdose deaths. And I don't see that attention there where it's really needed as well.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Ken, I appreciate your time? Thank you very much.

LOMBA: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: And thank you for raising that as well.

LOMBA: Thank you.

BURNETT: All right. And next, the number of white people in the United States fell for the first time since 1790. So is this good news for Democrats or not?

And the situation in Afghanistan dire at this hour and getting worse. Thousands of American troops are now heading back into Afghanistan just to evacuate the diplomats on the ground.



BURNETT: New tonight, for the first time on record, the white population in the United States has declined. Just released data from the 2020 census shows the white population in America is down 8.6 percent from 2010. So just think about this context, OK? It's the first time it declines and it declines by 8.6 percent. I mean, that's stunning. It's huge.

So now the white population is 57.8 percent of the population. The Hispanic population grew by 23 percent, responsible for more than half of the entire country's population growth. More than half coming from Hispanics.

Now, the population overall increased by more than 62 million across the country. And in California, the Hispanic population became the largest racial or ethnic group in the state for the first time now making up 39 percent of the state's population. So obviously, it's not a majority, but it's the biggest single group.

So this is as the data shows much of America's population growth was in the South and West. That, of course, is not a surprise. And this data is crucial, because it's going to be used to redraw the district lines for congressional districts before next year's midterm election and determines the political future of the country.

OUTFRONT now, elections guru David Wasserman, who is the U.S. House Editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, Maria Cardona, former DNC Communications Director and, of course, our own Van Jones, former Special Adviser to President Obama, among many other things.

So Dave, let me start with you. You've gone through the data and the numbers that just came out. What was the big takeaway for you?

David Wasserman: Erin, this is a country that continues to get more urban and more diverse. Non-Hispanic whites were just 57.8 percent of the population in this census. That's two points lower than the pre- census' estimates suggested. It's six points lower than it was in the 2010 census. And the Latino undercount that a lot of Democrats and advocacy groups feared heading into this census as a result of the chilling effect from the Trump administration.


It didn't materialize in the data that we saw today. In fact, Hispanics were 18.7 percent of the U.S. population, which is even a 10th of a point higher than the benchmark estimates suggested. That will keep more power in urban areas of Texas and California.

More good news for Democrats, for the counts from big cities like Chicago and New York, came in a bit higher than the estimates suggested. And those are states where Democrats are really hoping to draw the lines in their favor.

Now, we're moving into a critical phase here, and that's redirecting. That's where Republicans hold a net advantage when it comes to redrawing the political boundaries for the next decade. They could gain between zero and ten seats thanks to their advantage in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas.

And keep in mind, they only need five seats to take back House control in 2022.

BURNETT: All right. So, Maria, you know, we talk about things that stand out here. Of course, obviously the drop in the white population stands out hugely, but so does the growth in the Hispanic population, and where the growth happened. A lot of it in the south. Texas gaining 4 million residents in the last decade. Nearly half of those residents were Hispanic.

But, you know, I just want to challenge the assumption here this is all going to be good for Democrats, who have failed to turn Texas blue. We heard about that came pan after campaign, it's going to happen. It has not happened.

So all this Hispanic growth we are seeing, is it good for Democrats or could it be a gift for the GOP?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's good for the country, because I think diversity is good for the country. The more diverse this country is, the better it is for economy, the better it is for our policies, and, frankly, the better it is for our politics. That doesn't mean there isn't going to be a fight, because there will be a fight.

To your question, which party will this be better for? That depends on the parties. I agree with you. It should not be an assumption this is going to be good for Democrats. Demographics is not destiny.

But I do think what it does is that it will embolden Democrats to fight very hard, especially hike you said in Texas, even though we have not been able to turn Texas blue, we have been able to come very close. And these new numbers, these growth numbers will really give us a chance to continue to fight. But we have to have a message that attracts the Latino population, the multiracial population.

Erin, this country now, the under 18 population, is majority non- white. That is jaw dropping numbers to add to the ones you focused on at the very beginning.


So, Van, the broader context here, of course, is that there are some who are deeply concerned and upset about this. Let me give an example here of Tucker Carlson, who has used rhetoric like this on Fox News.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots with new people, more obedient voters from a third world.

Demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party's political ambitions. In order to win and maintain power, Democrats plan to change the population of the country.

This is the administration bringing felons, violent criminals into our country on purpose. Why would you do something like that?

What they're doing is bringing in people they think will vote for them.


BURNETT: Okay. So, Van, just to make the point obviously, nobody is -- felons are not accounting for the growth here of Hispanic population or any others.

Okay. For parts of the country, though, this argument holds water, right? And the reason we know that is because he keeps doing it again and again and again, right? It's resonating with some people. How come?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Uh-huh. Well, look, change is hard. And when things change, people -- some people can jump on that and demagogue.

The reality is, nobody is coming to the United States to vote for Democrats or Republicans. They're coming to the United States to get jobs and to vote at all in some cases.


JONES: And it's the Republican Party -- yes, it's the Republican Party that's driving the Latino community into the Democratic Party's arms. We're happy to take them.

But, honestly, you've got people who are coming from countries where they had bad experiences with socialism, people coming here with a strong ethic, big faith background, Catholic. You have to work hard as Republican Party to repel this many voters who some of them naturally should be voting for you.

So it's not that the Democrats are bringing people here to vote, it's people are coming here to work and Republicans have been so nasty, and hostile, they're driving away voters that they could have. This demographic change could help either party or neither party, but it's helping Democrats because of Republicans.

CARDONA: Erin --


BURNETT: Yeah, go ahead, Maria.

CARDONA: If I could just add, to your point, I think we should all go into these next several years with eyes wide open. Tucker Carlson is making an argument that a lot of people are eating up and will eat up. Donald Trump's rise and his popularity within the Republican Party and in this country is still based on white resentment of the kind of demographic change that today is underscored more than at any other time in our country.

And so what I hope, though I haven't seen, is that Republicans will actually look at this diversity as a positive for the country, and look at the politics and the policies that we're going to need to continue to be number one in the world, because if we have the growth of under 18 or the population under 18 right now, that is majority non-white, that means that the future of this country, the future leaders of this country, what this country will be like, has to -- has to reflect the policies that help those populations, which then will help America as a whole.

BURNETT: So, Dave, let me ask you, it's interesting, you know, to the point Maria is making, right, under 18, whites are in the minority. So, obviously, the fact that whites are still in the absolute majority is because older people still trend white. So, I give that context, basic math here, just to set up this question, quiz for our viewers, what is the fastest growing metro areas in the United States? Ha ha, definitely not New York, but it's retirement communities.

Tell me, Dave, about what's standing out to you.

WASSERMAN: Yeah. So look, Georgia is down to 50.1 percent non-Hispanic white. North Carolina is down to the high 50s. So you see this head of steam of demographic change that isn't necessarily dooming Republicans. We saw actually the irony in 2020 of Trump's claims about election fraud that were false in Democratic cities, was that he actually made the biggest strides with a lot of non-white voters in a lot of those urban counties.

Now, the news from the census is it's those urban areas which are heavily Democratic that have gained population. Most rural counties in the country which are predominantly white, lost population. That's on the whole good news for Democrats, but redirecting and gerrymandering still favors Republicans.

BURNETT: And, Van, a final word to you. Four years since the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, and we get the latest census data. And we see the diversity of this country, but yet still the deep split. JONES: Yeah. I still don't think the country has recovered from that

day, seeing Nazis march in America. You know, President Trump's response, disappointed a lot of people, shocked a lot of people. Some say it was taken out of context, but he was not able to find his footing and reassure people and we haven't recovered.

And the reality is, America is the greatest country in the world because we get to cheat and steal talent from everywhere. We got all -- the smartest people, the hardest working people from around the world, come to be on our team. And that is the secret to our success.

We are cutting our own noses off to leave all this talent to compete against us outside. We should welcome everybody here. That's what Reagan talked about. That's what George H.W. Bush talked about.

Republicans should be talking about it. And if they don't want to, Democrats will.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all. I appreciate your time.

And next, thousands of American troops are on their way back to Afghanistan to help get Americans evacuated, as the Taliban is taking over more parts of the country at lightning speed.

And the Republican congressman who aided and abetted Trump in his insurrection, who is Scott Perry?



BURNETT: Breaking news. President Biden ordering 3,000 U.S. troops to arrive in Afghanistan's Kabul airport in the next 24 to 48 hours to assist with departures of U.S. diplomats with any possible evacuation. This as CNN learns the U.S. may relocate its embassy to that airport.

And all this comes amid a rapidly deteriorating security situation as the Taliban continues seizing territory, claiming control of three more provincial capitals in the last 24 hours alone.

OUTFRONT now, John Kirby. He is assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs.

And, John, I appreciate your time.

So, President Biden sending 3,000 troops back to Afghanistan to assist with evacuations and getting Americans out of the country, it does seem to be quite a deterioration on the ground to have this suddenly needed just to get diplomats out of the country.

How bad is the security situation as you know it?

JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: It's deeply concerning, Erin. As you rightly point out just a few minutes ago, three more provincial capitals have fallen to the Taliban and they are putting pressure on Kabul. And I think the president decided this was the right thing and the right time to do it. A prudent decision to scope down, to reduce our civilian foot print in Kabul, while we still have an environment where we can do that safely.

So that's what the U.S. military is going to be doing. We're going to be helping our State Department colleagues get that foot print down to a smaller size. But we will not be eliminating our diplomatic presence in Afghanistan.

BURNETT: So you talk about the provincial capitals. Let me just ask you about that. You know, three more falling to the Taliban in the past 24 hours, which brings the total to 12.

You know, obviously I guess I'm being definitional here. But the situation in Kabul is deteriorating more quickly than anyone anticipated, which is why these troops are going back in. I mean, how close are we to Kabul falling to the Taliban, too?

KIRBY: I don't want to get into an intelligence assessment and speculate about the future, and I would say that it's the -- it's the country side, and outside Kabul, where we're -- where we have seen Taliban activity and Taliban advances.


We are not seeing that same sort of activity in Kabul proper, which again means that we've got an environment now where we want to take advantage to reduce this footprint in a safe and orderly way. And we've got 3,000 troops on the way. They'll be there to help secure the environment to make sure that this can be done safely and efficiently and nobody gets hurt. And again, as we said earlier, our troops, just like always, have the right of self-defense. If they're attacked or fired upon, they certainly are going to have the right to defend themselves.

BURNETT: So President Biden was not in the Afghanistan meetings today. His message is that Afghanistan needs to be responsible for its own security. We can see how that's going.

How concerned are you that the message Biden is sending emboldens the Taliban and terrorist groups, right? The Taliban taking over this country like lightning after the U.S. leaves, and the terrorist groups are looking for safe haven once again in a Taliban controlled Afghanistan.

KIRBY: I think the commander-in-chief has been exceedingly clear, Erin, that we are not going to allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven for terrorist attacks on our homeland again. And we're going to maintain and we have maintained a robust over the horizon counterterrorism capability in the region. Yes, it's more difficult than when you have troops on the ground but not impossible.

You can see that which we've been trying to support our Afghan forces in the field, our Afghan partners through airstrikes, which are coming from outside the region.

So the president's been very clear. We're not going to be anything less than vigilant when it comes to the potential for a reemergence of a terrorism threat in Afghanistan.

The other thing, Erin, is that the terrorism threat, particularly the serious ones, have metastasize outside Afghanistan. We're seeing much more in other places, the Levant, and North Africa.

BURNETT: Right, right, and, you know, we have traveled and covered those stories. But I want to be clear, you're saying that you think you can prevent Afghanistan -- the United States can prevent Afghanistan from being a harbor for terrorists, even if it is fully controlled by the Taliban?

KIRBY: We are going to make sure that we maintain the capabilities to prevent terrorist threats from emanating out of Afghanistan ever again. There isn't a scrap of earth that the United States military can't touch if we need to, and we're going to do that. It's another reason why, Erin, we're pushing so hard to try to get to a negotiated political settlement, though I know it's clear that the Taliban is no longer interested in that, we still believe that an Afghan-led political settlement is the right answer, not only for the Afghan people, but for the opportunity to prevent threats from coming from that country.

BURNETT: So, Defense Secretary Austin will seek a mandate requiring service members get a COVID vaccine by mid-September. What about military members who refuse to get vaccinated in terms of getting people to do it, would they be dishonorably discharged from service?

KIRBY: Yeah, I think there's been a lot of talk about this, Erin. Look, yes, once you mandate a vaccine, it becomes a lawful order.

But we know that commanders are going to administer a new vaccination program when it comes mandatory, with skill and professionalism, and most of all, compassion. That they have lots of tools available to them short of disciplinary action, short of using the military justice system to get soldiers, to get sailors, airman and marines to make the right decision not just for them but for their teammates and for their units and for their local communities.

BURNETT: All right. John, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

KIRBY: You bet, Erin.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, a little known congressman played a key role in Trump's big election lie. So, just who is Scott Perry?

And a record number of migrants detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. Numbers we have not seen in more than two decades.



BURNETT: Tonight, one little known congressman playing a big role in pushing former President Trump's lie about the election, feeding the White House election fraud conspiracies from his home state of Pennsylvania, even introducing Trump to the man who would try and fail to topple the leadership at the Justice Department in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

So who exactly is Republican Congressman Scott Perry?

Sarah Murray is OUTFRONT.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A little-known Pennsylvania congressman who publicly parroted claims of election fraud --

REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): We want the ballots and the votes that are counted to be legal.

MURRAY: -- was privately helping former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Republican Congressman Scott Perry has acknowledged he connected Trump with Jeffrey Clark, an environmental law chief at the Justice Department. Clark worked with the White House to help push baseless fraud conspiracies and attempted a leadership coup to oust Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, and take the job himself, according to documents and testimony from former Justice Department officials.

Perry had a friendly relationship with Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A wonderful man who represents this area, Scott Perry.

MURRAY: It's unclear how he knew Clark, but the three men were united in the embrace of election conspiracies.

PERRY: I don't understand if there's criminal activity present, fraud, that's criminal activity, why we don't look at that.

MURRAY: In a batch of e-mails released by the House Oversight Committee, Perry passes along documents to the Justice Department that allege there were more votes counted than voters who voted in Pennsylvania, a claim that's been debunked.

That same day, Trump mentions Perry's name in a call with Justice Department officials.

Later in the call, Trumps instructs justice officials to say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen.

In Washington, Perry, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has courted controversy by objecting to the certification of Pennsylvania's election results in the hours following the insurrection.

PERRY: Sadly, but resolutely I object to the electoral votes of my beloved commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

MURRAY: And voting against awarding the congressional gold medal to officers who defended the Capitol on January the 6th.

Back in Perry's south central Pennsylvania district, many of his allies are unfazed by his role to overturn the election.

JEFF PICCOLA, YORK COUNTY REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE CHAIR: One man introduces another man to a third man. Where is that illegal or improper or inappropriate?

MURRAY: At home, Perry is known for his humble roots, getting a start at a local farm at age 13, rising to the rank of brigadier general in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, and winning five terms in Congress.


Here, Perry's election skepticism and unwavering support for Trump may help him win elections.

PICCOLA: There's a lot of suspicion that things in the election didn't go right because there were some shenanigans going on.

MURRAY: Not all of Perry's supporters agree, like Gary Eichelberger, who oversaw Cumberland County's elections.

GARY EICHELBERGER, CUMBERLAND COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS CHAIRMAN: We have to appeal to a large number of swing voters if we want to win in Pennsylvania and if we want to win any nationwide elections. So, doubling down on the divisiveness is a potential death sentence for the Republican Party.

MURRAY: We tried to ask Perry about those concerns but he was to where to be found this week when we visited all three of his district offices.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, we also reached out to Perry's staff to see if he wanted to comment, we got no response. His behavior has enraged Democrats in his district. They called on him to resign. Earlier this year, he responded with a one-word press release that just said "no" -- Erin.

BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Sara, thank you very much.

And next, what is behind a record number of arrests at the southern border? We'll be back.


BURNETT: Big news. Not good news tonight from America's southern border. Unprecedented numbers of migrants illegally crossing into the United States last month. In fact, a rate we have not seen in two decades.

Customs and Border Protection encountered 212,672 people in July, right? Encountered and detained. That's up from nearly 189,000 in June. The head of the DHS says those numbers include repeat crossers. Some expelled under Trump era policies who keep coming back, now getting detained again.

Alejandro Mayorkas calls it a serious challenge made more difficult because of the pandemic. Apprehensions, of course, usually decline in the hot summer months, but that's not what we've seen this summer, seeing them go up between June and July and significantly so.

So what is the United States doing about it? Well, that's a crucial question. Clearly more needs to be done. Customs says they are in part resuming fast track deportation procedures for migrant families and setting up flights to send people to other border areas for processing.

Thanks for watching.

Anderson starts now.