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Erin Burnett Outfront

New Photos Show Chaotic Escape From Kabul In Packed U.S. Aircraft; WH Acknowledges "Volatile Situation" After Biden Claims There Is "No Indication" Of Americans Unable To Get To Airport; Interview With Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Biden To Fearful Afghans Who Cannot Reach Airport: We've Got To Get You Out, We Are Committed; Source: Full FDA Approval Of Pfizer Vaccine "As Early As Monday"; Hurricane Warnings Issued For Northeast As Henri Gains Strength. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired August 20, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The homecoming concert. This once in a lifetime event airs tomorrow 5 pm Eastern exclusively on CNN. Thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, desperate escape. New images of a packed C-17, the lucky ones getting out of Afghanistan tonight. This as President Biden vows to mobilize every resource necessary to get all Americans and Afghan allies out of the country.

Plus, breaking news, CNN learning the FDA will give full approval to the Pfizer COVID vaccine as early as Monday. Is this a game changer?

And more breaking news, hurricane warnings up for the North East, millions bracing for a dangerous storm now that is gaining strength at this hour. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, a desperate and chaotic escape. Tonight, these powerful images will show you capturing the scene inside a C-17 packed mostly with Afghan nationals fleeing their home country. CNN's Clarissa Ward and her producer Brent Swails are on that plane right now, roughly 400 people making their way to Doha, Qatar.

We will hear more of Clarissa's reporting in just a moment. But this does come as President Biden takes questions from reporters for the first time since Afghanistan's collapse to the Taliban. Biden admitting that he still does not know how many Americans are still in Afghanistan, but he promised to get every last one out.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me be clear, any American wants to come home, we will get you home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you sign off on sending U.S. troops into Kabul to evacuate Americans who haven't been able to get to the airport safely?

BIDEN: We have no indication that they haven't been able to get in Kabul through the airport.


BOLDUAN: Yet, this afternoon, Biden's Defense Secretary appeared to contradict the President on that during a briefing with lawmakers. Sources telling CNN Secretary Lloyd Austin said Americans attempting to leave Afghanistan have been beaten by Taliban fighters. And just moments ago, the White House now admits that Americans are facing 'challenge and chaos' at the airport.

The initial disconnect between the President and his Secretary of Defense comes as the President is also changing his tone about what the startling images the world is seeing is seeing coming out of Kabul. The President today sounding more compassionate and speaking to the heart wrenching images playing out on TVs across the globe.


BIDEN: The past week has been heartbreaking. We've seen gut-wrenching images of panicked people act out of sheer desperation. It's completely understandable they're frightened, they're sad, uncertain what happens next. I don't think anyone of us can see these pictures and not feel that pain on a human level.


BOLDUAN: Pictures and images like Afghans handing a baby to U.S. forces over an airport wall to get her help and graphic images also of bodies falling from a plane days earlier as it is taking off. Tonight we are learning more about one of those who was killed after falling from a plane. His name is Zaki Anwari. He was a teenager. He played for Afghanistan's young national football team.

One Afghan official saying Anwari was in search of a better future in America. Those who are able to get out of the country, they are the lucky ones. Look at this evacuation flight out of Kabul, 823 people on board this plane. A plane that normally flies 100 to 350 people, thousands more are still outside the airport in Kabul braving 90 degree heat during the day, sleeping on gravel during the day and night. There cries for help many times drowned out by gunfire from Taliban fighters.


CROWD: (Inaudible) ...


BOLDUAN: Sam Kiley is OUTFRONT live in Doha, Qatar tonight. Sam, President Biden he spoke to reporters today after days of criticism but did he answer the mounting questions about this crisis?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think in short, probably not. One of the main issues emerging from what he said was a suggestion repeatedly from the U.S. President that the collapse of the Afghan government was somehow a foregone conclusion whether it had happened sooner rather than later. Clearly, it happened an awful lot sooner than was planned for and the issue was how much was planned for.


But also, Kate, he attempted to show a bit more compassion. But as these pictures and his reactions to them revealed not so much.


KILEY (voice over): Desperate for a child salvation, a baby handed to U.S. Marines over razor wire at Kabul's airport. President Biden offering a dispassionate view.


BIDEN: We've secured the airport, enabling flights to resume not just military flights but civilian charters from other countries and the NGOs taking out civilians and vulnerable Afghans. And now we have almost 6,000 troops on the ground.


KILEY (voice over): But through the eyes of daylight today, no evacuation aircraft left the runway, leaving hundreds pressing on its perimeter as night fell. Some 13,000 people have been flown out by the U.S. since last Saturday, August the 14th. Many times that number awaiting in heat, chaos and gunfire. Threatened by Taliban whips, they fear worse awaits them if they stay.

The German broadcaster, Doi Chavella (ph), says that Taliban fighters searching for one of their journalists, killed a member of his family and artists are fleeing in fear too.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a human being, you should have a value. But under Taliban rules, OK, you live by the miserable life. OK, life is not about just hitting or (inaudible) it is about creativity.


KILEY (voice over): The Taliban is dismissing allegations of reprisal attacks against those who fought them or work for NATO as fake news. Twenty 20 years of fighting by the U.S. and its allies has resulted in a Taliban triumph and an evacuation of local allies and foreigners that looks more like a route. Many European allies of the U.S. are rattled by the sudden withdrawal of American forces and the Taliban victory.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: There are hard questions that we need to ask ourselves, our engagement in Afghanistan.


KILEY (voice over): The President defiant.


BIDEN: There's a greater danger from ISIS, and al-Qaeda and all these affiliates in other countries by far than there is from Afghanistan. And we're going to retain on over the rising capability if they were to come back to be able to take them out, surgically move. So this is where we should be. This is about America leading the world and all our allies have agreed with that.


KILEY (voice over): The Taliban meanwhile celebrating with broadcast parades of its special forces carrying what appear to be captured American weapons. They were all born in a time of war, like this baby who was treated in an airport clinic and returned to their family. If he or she makes it out of Kabul, they at least will have no memory of these dark days.


KILEY (on camera): Kate. CNN correspondent to the Pentagon have also just learned that the rescue of 169 Americans by U.S. forces who went outside the wire at the international airport there was conducted using helicopters traveling over a very short distance indeed, but outside the perimeter according to the Americans to a local hotel and shipping those people back here. That is the first report we've had of Americans using helicopters as part of this evacuation, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Sam Kiley, thank you very much.

As so many people tried desperately to find a way out of Afghanistan tonight, the situation at the airport only got more chaotic, dangerous and heartbreaking today. As I mentioned, CNN's Clarissa Ward and her team finally boarded a plane out of the country. You're looking at pictures that her producer Brent Swails captured of the scene inside the C-17 taking them all to safety.

It's mostly filled with Afghan nationals desperate to flee the Taliban and they are the lucky ones. Here's what Clarissa saw before she boarded that flight.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After three weeks in Afghanistan, we joined the crowds at Kabul Airport now the only way out of the country.


WARD (on camera): There's a huge block here. Lots of cars.


WARD (voice over): Hundreds of people wait in the blistering heat, hoping for a flight out.


WARD (on camera): So we just managed to get into the airport compound and I have to say it was pretty intense. It's just like this crush of desperate people and screaming children, women and babies. And, yes, it's not often you really see desperation like that.


WARD (voice over): The few people that do make it are exhausted and scared, but they're the lucky ones. They've made it past the Taliban checkpoints, Afghan security guards and finally the airport gate. But they can't forget those who they left behind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're getting out. We're happy for that. But we're heartbroken for our country, especially for those who can't get out.


Those who are stuck here. We're really heartbroken. Our heart bleeds for them.

WARD (off camera): What do you feel for all the mothers with young daughters who will now be growing up under Taliban rule?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pain. Lots of pain.

WARD (on camera): The back of a pretty long line now transportations under strain, they said, and obviously the priority is getting children and babies out as soon as possible. But I think we'll probably be here for a while.

Do you work for the U.S. military or ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not military but we are working with the Ministry of ...




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But we are also work with the foreign people too.

WARD (off camera): And so you have visa?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes we have documents and visa too.



WARD (voice over): As we interview this couple, suddenly shouts behind us, a vehicle speeds through.


WARD (on camera): That's a newborn baby that just flew past in that vehicle. That was a newborn. Did you see the baby? It was this big.


WARD (voice over): The baby we find out has heatstroke and needs treatment. A reminder for these families that they're close to safety, but not there yet. We stand in the blazing hot sun for hours. Everyone's seeking what shelter they can. Patients wearing thin.

It's an agonizingly slow process but finally we're allowed inside. Out on the tarmac now safe but the chaos continues.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been waiting for two days, yesterday since 3 am.

WARD (on camera): Yesterday since 3 am.


WARD (on camera): Tell me what the situation was like trying to get into the airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was really busy and a lot of people are just fighting and trying to make way for themselves. But we push through.

WARD (on camera): We are certainly some of the very lucky ones here. Others, as you heard from that young man have been waiting for two days. Others we saw getting turned around, sent back, told you don't have the appropriate paperwork and there's no question everybody here is doing their best, but it's not clear if it's fast enough, if enough people can get out and how much longer they have to finish this massive operation.

Clarissa Ward, CNN Kabul.



BOLDUAN: Clarissa, thank you so much for that.

OUTFRONT with me now, Democratic Senator Ben Cardin. He sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. He was briefed today on the situation by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Senator, thank you for being here. Did you gain from that briefing any understanding, any better understanding of what went wrong here?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Well, Kate, first of all, it's good to be with you. I think we are concentrating on the immediate mission of saving lives. This humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan today. We want to get all Americans who want to leave out.

We want to get those who helped us directly in our mission in Afghanistan and those quite frankly who are vulnerable to the Taliban. The leadership among women in Afghanistan, the news organizations, et cetera.

And this is a very challenging situation. So our first priority is to have the personnel at the airport necessary to keep it safe, but also to process those that we are trying to get out of Afghanistan and it's a real challenge. So we're going to have plenty of time to try to understand why we were caught in this situation.

There's a lot of mistakes that were made over the 20 years in Afghanistan and we're going to have plenty of time to analyze that. But our immediate concern is to get people out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Plenty of time to look back, but there are definitely immediate mistakes in how this, not the drawdown policy, but how it was executed even coming from fellow Democrats, Senator.

Now, you talked about the immediate mission at hand. There's contradictions that we've heard publicly today that I would love to see if you've gotten any clarity on. The White House came around to admitting tonight that there have been reports as they are putting it that Americans are facing 'challenging chaos' at the airport. But the President said otherwise today that Americans have not been met with a challenge in the Taliban getting to the airport.

Defense Secretary Austin told House members in a call this afternoon Americans have been beaten by the Taliban in Kabul. Did Austin tell you the same?

CARDIN: No, we did not hear that at our briefing. Let me tell you, I agree with you that we should have been able to predict the chaos that is occurring today. We had information about how the Taliban could likely control the country.


We should have been prepared to take necessary steps faster. But as far as Americans are concerned, our information is that we're getting Americans to the airport and out and that they're not being harmed. So I have not heard of the Americans being harmed.

BOLDUAN: Why weren't we prepared?

CARDIN: Well, that's a good question. I think we should have had contingency plans to be able to deal with the extraction of those who helped us and Americans in a much more orderly way. We're going to have a lot of time to understand that and do things to make sure this doesn't happen again.

But the immediate problem is not to analyze what went wrong, but to get people out as quickly as possible. That's why we were told today that more diplomatic personnel are on the ground at the airport in order to process this, that we are allowing people to get out of harm's way without all the necessary documents produced that we'll work for that later on in a third country.

So there's a lot of things being done to try to expedite the process. We were assured that we are working not just for Americans that our top priority, but those who helped our mission and those that are in harm's way. And that we are increasing the numbers that we can get out by a significant number each day.

But there's a tremendous backlog. We ask questions what happens to someone who's not in Kabul that we're trying to get to, how they're going to get that information, how are they safely going to be able to get to the airport, there's a lot of questions that went unanswered. But I can tell you that we're going to do everything we can to help the Biden administration get people out of Kabul as quickly as possible.

BOLDUAN: Yes. The questions about the crisis continues. Senator, thank you for coming on.

OUTFRONT with us next, she fled Afghanistan when she was eight years old after the Taliban killed her father. The only way she could go to school was to dress like a boy. She is our guest.

Plus breaking news, CNN learning full FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID vaccine could come as early as Monday. What could this mean for vaccine mandates?

And more breaking news tonight warnings and watches are going up for millions as Tropical Storm Henri gained strength and head straight for ports of New York and New England.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, she fled Afghanistan when she was just eight years old after her father was brutally murdered by the Taliban. The only way that she could attend school under Taliban rule was by disguising herself, dressing as a boy. Her name is Samiya Azizi. And we first told you about her story last night.

Former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent sharing publicly on OUTFRONT for the first time that Azizi lived with his family in Pennsylvania during her senior year of high school. That was about nine years ago and she now lives in Colorado as a college graduate and aspiring doctor.

Samiya is now OUTFRONT as is Congressman Dent and his wife Pamela. They have not seen each other in nearly a decade. Samiya, I want to talk about this beautiful reunion and living with the Dent family. But first, you still have family in Afghanistan. When you see the desperate images out of your home country, how fearful are you for their safety?

SAMIYA AZIZI, AFGHAN REFUGEE; LIVED WITH FMR. CONGRESSMAN DENT'S FAMILY: I'm very, very, very scared and just heartbroken and everything that is coming out of there right now.

BOLDUAN: I mean, when you see the fear on their faces, the crash of the people trying to get to the airport, the stories, the desperate stories that we're hearing, what do you think that means for your country?

AZIZI: A lot of instability, I think. But also a lot of broken homes, broken families and just chaos.

BOLDUAN: I want to show again, some of the pictures that you shared with us, pictures of you as a child in Afghanistan. Your mother, as I mentioned, disguise you as a boy so you could go to school under Taliban rule. The Taliban now is saying that it is changed and reformed and will allow girls to go to school and respect the rights of women. Do you believe that at all?

AZIZI: No, not at all. Not at all. There's nothing else to add to that, but no.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Samiya, Congressman Dent, he told me last night that, the way that he put it is that you gave them far more than anything they ever gave you in the time that you lived together. What did that time with the Dents mean for you when you were a senior in high school?

AZIZI: It was a very, very special time. And I call them my bonus family for a reason. They were just the kindest, the most welcoming people. And I think it was just such a beautiful lesson to learn from them as well that when you have more than you need, you can build a longer table instead of a taller wall.

BOLDUAN: That's beautiful. Congressman, we're not all physically together, which of course I wish we were, but I love seeing you even through these magical boxes of television able to reconnect with Samiya for the first time in so long. I mean, what do you think hearing that?

CHARLIE DENT, (R) FORMER CONGRESSMAN; AFGHAN REFUGEE LIVED WITH HER FAMILY: We've always said that the reason why this worked so well is really because of the woman sitting next to me, my wife, Pam. She's the one who put it all together. I was in Washington three to four days a week but she's the one who took the bull by the horns and said we're going to straighten this situation out and she did.

And so it was just great having Sami as part of the family. The kids adored her. Our dog adored her. Everybody adored her and she brought a lot of happiness into our life. It was a difficult time for her, I'll be very honest with you and we hope we made her experience a little bit better at that moment in her life, but she was popular in high school. I remember graduation and the prom with our daughters, my daughter, and Sami was like a daughter.


They all went to the prom together. It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience.

BOLDUAN: I'll call you Pamela, though I know the Congressman calls you Pam. And he deservedly gives you all the credit for this, just beautiful show of humanity and love. What do you hope that people can learn from it as we were looking at, look, 10s of thousands of what are now and will be new Afghan refugees?

PAMELA DENT, WIFE OF FMR. REP. DENT; AFGHAN REFUGEE LIVED WITH THEIR FAMILY: Well, Sami, wonderful to see you even if from afar. And it was definitely a family effort. Charlie was in D.C. all week and he was home on the weekends, but it was definitely a family effort with my daughter, our oldest daughter, Kate, our son, Will, and our youngest son, Jack. Family effort by all of us with Sami and we just wanted to make a difference.

I had my whole goal and purpose was for Sami to graduate from high school. When I had heard that her family was moving, they were renting, that they did not own a property and they were moving out of the district, I knew that it would be much more difficult to graduate senior year, just think about it, senior year. You want to be with all your friends, your classmates and so we opened our home to her.

And the biggest reward was her graduating, just to see her graduate. I knew that if she did not graduate, it would be more limiting and if she were to graduate, it would lead to a much more successful future (inaudible) ...

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Samiya, you've graduated and then some, my friend. I mean, what a beautiful life and what an amazing American story as well that comes from Afghan roots. And I think there's just so much to be learned. I mean, there are people who are trying to exploit this crisis now to instill fear about refugees, right-wing commentators and others. And what do you want people to know about the images that they're seeing on TV from a woman who was once a little girl just like them?

AZIZI: I think once we're kind of looking through things at a screen, it becomes a little bit harder to connect with them on a human level. And my only wish is that everybody would kind of do that just like as the Dents did for me and opened up their home and instilling those values into their kids too that they can kind of carry on that tradition. Because like they said, Kathryn shared her family and her senior year with me, Will shared his birthday with me, Jack gave up his room for me.

So it was definitely sort of an effort together that they made my life so much easier at that point. And I hope if there's anybody that can take anything away from this, it's just knowing that it is a team effort and we are going to have to work more with our hearts than our minds.

BOLDUAN: Charlie?

C DENT: Kate, I'm just going to say that we know there are going to be plenty more young women or girls like Sami who are going to be coming over to this country and they're going to need help. And so I hope that people in America and throughout the world, not just the United States, but our friends and allies do their part.

We didn't do anything our own, we just did our little part and we're just encouraging people to do their part. Do something, help these people who are going to be coming to our country and they're going to be like, many are going to be like Sami, they're going to be wonderful people. They're going to be contributors. You're going to want them to be your friends and neighbors.

BOLDUAN: And we all wish there are so many more Samis in the world. It's really great to meet you all. (Inaudible) meet you, Samiya. Charlie, I know you all too well and Pam, God bless you. You've got to deal with him and thank you for being so wonderful.

P DENT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you guys.

OUTFRONT for us next, we do have breaking news we need to get to. CNN learning full FDA approval of Pfizer's COVID vaccine is 'imminent', coming as early as Monday.

And the search to replace Alex Trebek is back on after Mike Richards steps down as host of Jeopardy following offensive comments about women and minorities.



BOLDUAN: Breaking news, full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine is, quote/unquote, imminent. A senior federal official telling CNN as the Biden administration official says full approval could be as soon -- as early as Monday.

Let me bring in, right now, Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He's advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush.

Dr. Reiner, this is something so many people have been waiting for, now coming as soon as Monday, how significant is it?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think it's a milestone, a big milestone. So, today, the United States passed another milestone vaccinating 200 millionth person in this country with at least one shot.

But we have another almost 30 percent of the country to go. And we won't do that in our current state. What approving the vaccine means is that, first of all, it will allow businesses, states to I think more easily mandate vaccines. Hospitals, school districts. I think once the vaccine is approved for children over the age of 12,

I think you'll see school districts mandate the vaccine for children going back to school.


It will, I think, also give confidence to some of the folks who are still vaccine hesitant. A recent Kaiser Family foundation survey suggested one-third of the holdouts can be swayed or willing to get vaccinated once the vaccine receives full approval. So I expect we'll see a surge in vaccinations to follow.

BOLDUAN: I was actually going to ask you about that Kaiser poll because I was looking at that from May. It was 32 percent of unvaccinated adults would be more likely to get the shot if I was fully approved.

You know, you see the hesitancy in the polls. This will make a meaningful difference with the hesitancy that's gone on and become resistant in some regard, make a meaningful difference in the number of people getting the shot?

REINER: I think it will. I think it will allow a variety of entities to mandate the vaccine, taking away the concern that they may not be able to mandate a vaccine approved with an EUA. But there's been a false narrative circulating that how can you push an experimental vaccine. So, first of all, the vaccine is not experimental and once it's fully approved, it should extinguish but really slur on the reliability and safety of the vaccine.

So, I think we'll see more people realize that this is our ticket, our collective ticket towards finally putting this pandemic down.

So I expect that over the next several weeks, we'll see a significant increase in the number of people being vaccinated.

BOLDUAN: Do you think that this approval impacts the process or timing now for the shot to be approved for kids under the age of 12?

REINER: I hope so. You know, there is a process that the FDA has to -- and we want and expect them to follow. You know, it's a little different for kids under the age of 12 because it's not simply the same dose of the same vaccine, you know, for smaller children, the dose has to be attenuated so we want to make sure that the dose that will finally be approved is both fully safe and very effective.

So that process has to take some time. We do expect that the manufacturer, at least Pfizer is apparently going to apply for an EUA as early as the sort of the mid to last part of September for children under the age of 12.

BOLDUAN: Also, Dr. Reiner, sorry, something was in my ear. Appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

REINER: My pleasure. BOLDUAN: So, I want everyone to look at this now. People in Florida lining up at a makeshift clinic offering a monoclonal antibody treatment with some so sick, that they can't event stand, as Governor Ron DeSantis pushes the treatment while still shunning mask mandates. It comes as Texas' governor Republican governor, who also is getting he same antibody treatment after testing positive this week is adding more treatment centers in the state.

So, what is this antibody treatment?

Elizabeth Cohen is OUTFRONT with more.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: That is a tool in the tool box that really needs to be used.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott have been talking a lot lately about this medicine.

DESANTIS: The Regeneron has been found to be effective against the delta variant.

COHEN: A monoclonal antibody drug made by Regeneron is a treatment for COVID-19, a treatment that's needed in large part because under these two Republican governors, COVID-19 is spreading fast in their states.

Florida number one in COVID-1 hospitalizations per capita in the country. Texas, not far behind at number seven.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: The vaccination rates were too low to fend off the delta variant. We know we got there because there wasn't indoor masking. It is really mind blowing that these governors are not implementing these measures.

COHEN: Resulting in desperation and despair. A woman lying on the floor of a Florida clinic waiting for treatment with Regeneron's antibody drug.

Louie Lopez, another patient at the clinic took the photo.

LOUIE LOPEZ, COVID-19 PATIENT: People had nowhere to sit. They are sitting down but they were so sick, the picture really doesn't do it justice because they were moaning, they were in a lot of pain. It really drove the point home as to how serious these people are. I mean, for all I know, these people could have been dying right there and then.

COHEN: Despite the high rates of COVID-19 in his state, DeSantis has threatened to withhold funds from school districts that implement mask mandates. Abbott, who's taking Regeneron after recently testing positive for COVID has prohibited state and local agencies from requiring vaccines. Instead of encouraging all of the best prevention methods, they're toting treatment, just as former President Trump did after taking Regeneron's drug when he was hospitalized with COVID-19. [19:40:10]

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: It just made me better. Okay? I call it a cure.

COHEN: Regeneron's drug isn't a guaranteed cure but it can help treat some people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are not in the hospital and if someone is exposed to COVID, it could help keep them from getting sick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The monoclonal antibodies work.

COHEN: The Biden administration has been trying to get Regeneron's drug get to parts of the country seeing the surges. The federal government has spent billions on the drug, for patients it's free.

The state of Florida set up the clinic but would have been better if the patients haven't gotten COVID in the first place. Perhaps nobody knows that better than Tou Madin (ph) that's her in that photo. She was not vaccinated, caught COVID-19, received the antibody treatment and thankfully is recovering.

This is her advice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get vaccinated. It may not be the first thing you want to do but it's better than the end result.


COHEN (on camera): Governor Abbott and former President Trump appear to have had no trouble getting Regeneron when they got COVID-19 but many other patients say they've had a tough time. The federal government says that the drug is plentiful so it's unclear what the bottleneck is -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Elizabeth, thank you for that.

OUTFRONT for us next, the Cyber Ninjas soon coming out with their report on Arizona's sham audit. A Republican election official in the state now has a message for the conspiracy theorists.

Plus, we do have breaking news. Hurricane warnings in effect for millions bracing for a storm gaining strength tonight.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, bracing for impact. A top Republican in Maricopa County speaking out and setting the record straight as the report on the Arizona sham election audit is coming out any day now. Four months after the so-called "audit" began, it has no -- absolutely no credibility than it did when it began.

The report is drafted by the Cyber Ninjas, a dubious firm with no audit experience and whose executive has pushed Trump's big lie. And just ahead of the report's release, my next guest is laying out blistering criticism against it, calling it a, quote, abomination that's so far eroded election confidence and defamed good people.

OUTFRONT now is Maricopa County recorder, Stephen Richer.

Thanks for being here.


BOLDUAN: You lay out in exhaustive detail, 38 pages, footnotes and all, the evidence as you write, quote, nobody stole Maricopa's county election.

Why was it important, Stephen, for you to get this out there ahead of the Cyber Ninja's report?

RICHER: Yeah, absolutely. Well, you're right. I like to write and it was important for me to spell out the whole story. And really, this is my hug to the Republican Party this is not about Republican versus Democrat or at least it shouldn't be. This shouldn't be a test of partisanship.

This should be a test of, do you believe in professionalism? Do you believe in facts? Do you believe in logic? And if the answer to those three things is yes, yes, and yes, then you should know that the election in 2020 wasn't stolen and you should be very skeptical of whatever the Cyber Ninjas does produce, because they have exhibited a shocking degree of unprofessionalism.

BOLDUAN: As you layout exhaustively in your report, Cyber Ninjas have no credibility but that does not mean their message isn't going to resonate when they release this. What do you expect the report will say and what will the impact be?

RICHER: Well, I don't know what they'll say but I know what they've already said and one thing that has been consistent about the Cyber Ninjas is that with each leak, they had to walk back a few days later, maybe a week later some of the pretty extreme allegations they have made. For instance, they recently made an allegation that 74,000 ballots were fraudulently injected into the system and they made that right before President Trump came to Arizona and he re-shared that.

Well, it turns out that whoops, that wasn't the case. That was debunked with anyone that had knowledge about Arizona's elections. And so, that's why we built a website called,, to really put out the facts so people can know in advance that a lot of this has been addressed. Things like sharpie- gate, we already put to rest. There was no stolen election.

BOLDUAN: You call this a hug to the Republican Party but a lot of folks aren't hugging back. I mean, you've gotten death threats. You've faced personal attacks and to remind everyone, you're a conservative Republican who supported Donald Trump.

Have you been able to make any sense of why people in your party are not letting this go despite the overwhelming evidence that the election was not stolen?

RICHER: Yeah. Well, I don't want to call fellow Republicans flies but you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. And that's really my hope here.

And, you know, it's really -- I'm emphatic because we're hurt. We lost an election. We don't like what's going on in Afghanistan. We don't like what is going on at the border. And we're looking for a reason because we didn't see President Joe Biden campaigning here in Arizona.

But the facts aren't there. It's been tried in court eight different times here in Maricopa County. We've run dozen of tests. We've had post-election hand count audits, and it's just not there.

And at some point, we have to accept the individual responsibility, because that's where we are, a party of individual responsibility and we have to dust ourselves off and we have to get ready for 2022.


BOLDUAN: Well, a lot of people are still fighting out 2020. Let's see what this report --


BOLDUAN: -- does to that when it comes out. Thank you for your time.

RICHER: Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, breaking news, hurricane warnings now posted for parts of New York and New England as the Northeast is facing a direct hit by a hurricane for the first time in 30 years.

And the search to replace Alex Trebek is back on after the brand-new host of "Jeopardy" suddenly steps down after insulting women and minorities.


BOLDUAN: Breaking news, millions in the Northeast bracing now as tropical storm Henri gains strength and is expected to become a hurricane. It could be the first hurricane to make landfall on Long Island in 36 years. Hurricane warnings in effect at this hour for eastern Long Island and southern New England.

Jennifer Gray is OUTFRONT in the weather center with more on this.

Jennifer, what is the latest on when and where Henri could make rainfall -- landfall, I mean?


JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Kate -- right. The latest advisory just came out. It is still a strong tropical storm but expected to become a hurricane sometime tonight or tomorrow morning. New York City is in the hurricane zone and hurricane warnings have been issued for New England, as well as portions of Long Island.

So, tropical storm Henri, 75-per-hour winds, gusts of 85, this is moving to the north at 7-miles-per-hour. So, this storm is going to move pretty quickly over the next 24 hours but then slow drastically once it approaches landfall, most likely making landfall as a category 1 hurricane by Sunday afternoon.

Now, we'll start feeling the impacts from this storm as early as tomorrow afternoon. We will start to see windy conditions, tropical storm force winds coming sooner, and then we'll see the hurricane force winds come onshore. You can see a little bit of uncertainty still in this forecast track though. This storm could make landfall anywhere from New York City all the way over to southern Massachusetts.

So, some uncertainty there, Kate, but this is going to slow significantly. So, that's going to produce a lot of rainfall for the Northeast and New England.

BOLDUAN: But how far reaching are the effects of Henri going to be?

GRAY: It's going to be pretty far reaching especially when you talk about the rain because this is a supersaturated area. And when you have a lot of rain on top of very wet soil, we're going to see trees come down a lot of power outages. They could be very widespread across New England.

You can see all the watches and warnings in place in that area, and we're talking about the winds too. You combine the wind with the rain, and that's going to help bring down those trees as well. So, I think that's going to be the biggest impact when you're talking about this storm well inland, in fact, and then we're also going to see the storm surge impact where we could see three to five feet of storm surge across southeastern portions of Massachusetts as well as Long Island and Connecticut.

The winds could be 74-miles-per-hour plus in those regions shaded in red, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jennifer, thank you so much.

So, it appears to be a wrong answer for "Jeopardy" tonight. Just days after taking the job as the host of the iconic game show, Mike Richards quit.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's Mike Richards out from the host podium just one day after he started taping the new season. And now "Jeopardy," a show synonymous with smarts is mired in scandal over Richards' offensive comments about women and minorities, and Sony's failure to vet him.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Everyone is talking about this.

STELTER: Richards is a long time TV producer and host who became the "Jeopardy" executive producer last year. He briefly overlapped with Alex Trebek who kept hosting during cancer.

When Trebek died, this lucrative franchise needed a new star.

"Jeopardy" genius Ken Jennings filled in first and then Richards.

ANNOUNCER: And now, here is the executive producer of "Jeopardy," Mike Richards.

STELTER: He implied that he was filling in because A-listers like Savannah Guthrie and Aaron Rodgers could not get to L.A. as COVID cases were on the rise there.

MIKE RICHARDS, TV HOST: It was very literally at the last minute the decision was made for me to step in and keep the show going.

STELTER: Some viewers liked him a lot but some questions persisted about his daily double role. Was he in the running while auditioning others? For some, it was a bucket list experience.


STELTER: While others were notably snubbed, like CNN's Laura Coates who Trebek suggested as a possible successor. Some fan favorites felt slighted or shelved until the end of the season.

LEVAR BURTON, ACTOR: Who is me, LeVar Burton.

STELTER: The bosses at Sony who run the show went with Richards despite the appearance that he picked himself or manipulated the race.

COLBERT: Wow, what are the odds. Exactly the same as me being named Stephen Colbert magazine's sexiest man alive.

STELTER: Richards defended himself when news outlets resurfaced old lawsuits alleging he mistreated colleagues at the "Price is Right" and he apologized when "The Ringer" website his old podcast with a litany of offensive remarks about women, Jews, Asians and others.

Richard said: My attempts to be funny and provocative were not acceptable. And he pledged to be a role model.

But the damage was done. "The Ringer" story hit on Wednesday and Richards taped five episodes on Thursday. But Friday's episodes were cancelled.

Guest hosts take over against next week.

But Sony says Richards will remain executive producer. And execs claimed they didn't know about his old podcast, which means the smartest game show on TV made a rookie mistake.

Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.


BOLDUAN: Brian, thank you so much.

Tomorrow night, don't miss the "We Love NYC: Homecoming Concert" starting at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, exclusively on CNN.

Thanks so much for being with us.

I'm Kate Bolduan.

"AC360" starts now.