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Erin Burnett Outfront
Biden To Terrorists: "We'll Hunt You Down To The Ends Of The Earth"; Biden Defiant Over How Afghanistan War Ended, Dismisses Argument To Keep Presence: "I Was Not Extending A Forever Exit"; Biden: U.S. Will Continue To Support Afghans Through "Diplomacy"; Nearly 14,000 Refugees At Air Bases In Germany Awaiting Travel. 1+ Million Without Power, Water Systems Down, Gas Station Outages; Acting FDA Chief Admits "These Are Difficult Times" After Two Top Vaccine Officials Leave Agency; GOP Front-Runner For California Governor Vows To Appeal COVID Mandates. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired August 31, 2021 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: For next, we will hunt you down. Those are the words from President Biden as he vows to take on any terrorist who threatens the United States now that the Afghanistan war is officially over.
Plus, the growing misery in Louisiana tonight, people in the state desperate for food and water and it could be weeks before power is restored.
And a Republican lawmaker warning of bloodshed as he's pushing false and dangerous claims about America's elections. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, President Biden with a message for ISIS, America is not done with you yet. President Biden vowing to maintain America's fight against terror even as he forcefully defended his decision to end the war in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say it clearly to those who wish America harm, to those who engage in terrorism against us or our allies. Know this: The United States will never rest. We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down to the ends of the Earth, and you will pay the ultimate price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The President on defense of those forceful words because he is on defense. He's saying he will now go after terror where it is today. He explicitly says that terror is not where it was two decades ago, when al-Qaeda, of course, launched the 9/11 attacks from Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The war in Afghanistan is now over. I'm the fourth president who's faced the issue of whether and when to end this war. When I was running for president, I made a commitment to the American people that I would end this war. Today, I've honored that commitment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Biden says the war should have ended long ago. Of course, this is a war that spanned 20 years. America's longest, consumed four presidencies, cost more than $2 trillion and took the lives of 2,461 American personnel including 13 Americans, of course, that died last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The cost that researchers of Brown University estimated would be over $300 million a day for 20 years in Afghanistan for two decades. What have we lost as a consequence in terms of opportunities, I refuse to continue to war that was no longer in the service of the vital national interests of our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Well, these are the images we're now seeing now that the war is over. Taliban fighters wearing what appeared to be American military uniforms in Afghanistan conducting a full sweep of a hanger that had been used by U.S. troops. That's part of why the President is under such incredible criticism.
He is pushing back against critics who explicitly have said the United States should have kept a small force in Afghanistan, people saying 2,500 troops, it's worth the money. He says, no, there's nothing low risk or low grade about any war, again, citing the loss of the Americans who lost their lives and also the mental toll that the war has taken on veterans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We see in the shocking and stunning statistic that should give pause to anyone who thinks, war can never be low-grade, low-risk, or low-cost.
Eighteen veterans on average who die by suicide every single day in America, not in a far-off place but right here in America. There's nothing low-grade or low-risk or low-cost about any war. It's time to end the war in Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Biden's full throated defense of his decision to end the war in Afghanistan comes as defense officials tell CNN that the military made a secret deal with the Taliban, one that resulted in militants actually escorting Americans to the gates of the Kabul Airport. Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT live outside the White House tonight. So
Phil, obviously I just played the President there and his forceful defensive his decision. But I played it today because it happened today. It didn't happen yesterday when they flew that final flight out when we heard the Secretary of State Tony Blinken speak in primetime. It happened today the day after. Why did he wait?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's intentional, at least according to White House officials I've spoken to. There was symbolism in what we saw yesterday. The Pentagon announcing the departure of the final military flights, this kind of symbolic hand off the baton to the State Department who will now be handling the diplomatic efforts which are lead when it comes to Afghanistan particularly as it pertains to the more than 100 Americans who remain on the ground and want to leave, Afghan allies who remain on the ground and want to leave.
And the President wanted the moment to himself not just to lay out a forceful defense of what's transpired over the course of the last 16 or 17 days. But according to one official to kind of pull the lens back a little bit and underscore kind of almost encapsulate his broader national security policy. It's what he ran on. He ran on getting out of Afghanistan, but also the approach that he wanted to take on foreign policy.
And I think that's what you saw from the president today, it was kind of the most forceful layout of how he wants to approach foreign policy and why he did not believe the war in Afghanistan fit into that approach, not just during the campaign or during the last six or seven months, but for the better part of a decade.
And I think, look, it was very clear, the President is frustrated with his critics. He doesn't believe that enough credibility is given to the more than 120,000 individuals who were evacuated over a 17-day period. He doesn't believe that there were more options on the table in terms of leaving a limited force there as you played in that sound.
I think more broadly, the President wanted to remind people why this is actually happening, trying to get away from what's just transpired over the last 17 days, and get bigger and underscore that an issue that was popular with the American people is exactly the issue he's pursuing at this point in time, despite the chaos we've seen over the last two weeks, Erin.
BURNETT: Phil, thank you.
And I want to go now to Clarissa Ward, of course. She's our Chief International Correspondent. She was on the ground in Kabul, as you know, during the evacuation and she is now in Peshawar, Pakistan. Seth Jones is the former Adviser to the Commanding General of U.S. Special Ops in Afghanistan. And David Gregory, our Political Analyst.
David, let me start with you on this, the optics of this and the timing of this. President Biden coming out to give his most forceful defense yet of what has happened here, but he did it the day after the war ended. He let Tony Blinken, Secretary of State, go first in primetime on the night of. Did Biden say enough to quiet the deep criticism and to explain what happened?
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think the President did a good job today. I think it took a while to get to this place. He had a number of remarks to the American people that didn't quite hit the mark. But I thought today was really a distillation of his views about Afghanistan, about the withdrawal and about a kind of more reflective look at 20 years of the war on terror.
There's no constituency for this war anymore, not politically, not among Democrats, not among Trump Republicans, not among conservatives. The withdrawal has been violent and messy. I think the President did himself a disservice by setting expectations that it would be easier than it turned out to be.
But I thought he did a good job today saying how and arguing that the war in Afghanistan morphed into something other than what it was at a start. It morphed into something bigger, a nation building exercise that was not going to be successful.
I covered President Bush who launched this war and I know he told people by the end of his administration, he thought it would be the longest fight and perhaps unwinnable compared to Iraq. The bottom line is 20 years later, I mean, these are two wars that we didn't win, that we fought to withdraw, that's had a chilling effect. And I say good for the President for standing up and saying enough, politically easier to do that in 2021 than ever before.
BURNETT: Right, certainly. And, of course, he talked about the incalculable loss of life and he calculated with the numbers, the $300 million a day. I mean, he made the case.
Clarissa, he did also focus a lot on the Taliban's agreement to allow Americans and other safe passage out of the country. The Taliban, of course, originally had given safe harbor to al-Qaeda. Two defense officials tell Barbara Starr that the U.S. military had negotiated a secret agreement with the Taliban.
And as part of that, the Taliban actually escorted groups of Americans to the Kabul Airport and let them get out of Afghanistan, which on its face on the ground involve great trust, despite the pains that both Biden and Blinken are making again and again to say this relationship has no trust in it whatsoever. Clarissa, you've been there. You've seen it. Can the Taliban leadership actually control its members and operate consistently like this?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they're very much hoping that they can, because they don't want to be a pariah state as they were in the late '90s and early 2000s. They say that they've learned from the lessons of the past. They want international aid. They want funding, and investment and support from the international community.
But the problem becomes, as you mentioned, that there is often, in many of these types of organizations, a disparity between what you hear from the leadership at the top and what you see from the foot soldiers on the ground. So to give you an example, just a few days ago, in a village north of Kabul, we saw one of Afghanistan's famous folk singers taken from his house and shot dead by Taliban fighters, because music is now forbidden.
And the Taliban has said that they're going to investigate this and that this was wrong and that they will punish the fighters if they find them. But it speaks to this broader concern that so many Afghans have of how do you go about keeping all your forces under that very strict chain of command, when sometimes they're being infiltrated by other groups like ISIS-K and you don't even know that, you can't even see that.
That's actually from a Taliban source saying that to CNN that in some cases, these militants are melting in to the Taliban's rank. So it makes it very difficult to have a really strict accounting of what Taliban rank and file are doing on the ground versus the words that we're hearing from their leadership.
BURNETT: Your context of terrorists melting into the Taliban is really important for this next question, because, Seth, today President Biden talked about why he got out of Afghanistan. He made his case. He said there is no vital interest in America being there now, because the United States already succeeded in doing what it set out to do, here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The fundamental obligation of a president, in my opinion, is to defend and protect America, not against threats of 2001 but against the threats of 2021 and tomorrow. That is the guiding principle behind my decisions about Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So he's saying the threats of 2021 and tomorrow are very different than 2001. That's the case he's making. Seth, is it true?
SETH JONES, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, the threats today are certainly different from what they were in 2001, Erin. But I would say the challenge that the President has now is looking forward his own intelligence community assesses that Afghanistan is now with the Taliban government that has strategic level, all the way down to tactical level of relations with al-Qaeda that Afghanistan is on a trajectory to once again becoming a safe haven for terrorist organizations.
And it's really hard to put as fine a point as we just saw with the ISIS-K attack against U.S. forces. ISIS is still active. There are a number of anti-Indian groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba active in Afghanistan. And obviously, we have al-Qaeda, which is very active in the country and was active in the Taliban's takeover embedded in Taliban units. And just one last comment on the challenge here is, I think it's very
important for Americans to understand the war is not over that we've seen retributions and killings even over the last 24 hours and those are likely to continue, so the war will go on, America's role will just decline.
BURNETT: So David, Republicans, some of them are calling for Biden to resign or be impeached. The House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy has been asked about this a lot. He's dodging those questions as to whether he supports that. Here's what he said instead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I believe right now we should get every American home. I believe there should be accountability for what I see is probably the biggest failure in American government on a military stage in my lifetime and we could never make this mistake again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, David, Biden promised to get all Americans out who wanted to.
GREGORY: I'm sorry.
BURNETT: OK. Go ahead, David. Go ahead.
GREGORY: Kevin McCarthy is not a serious person. He is not a serious person. I've known him. I've covered him. That is not a serious comment to make about the most serious military mistake that's been made by the administration, even in the past 20 years. Just stop, stop and be a serious grown up leader. That's not what you're being.
The substantive point is about getting Americans out. He doesn't know how difficult that is. I don't know how difficult that is. The President said they're going to keep trying to do it. The bigger question is Seth's more important point and then Kevin McCarthy's and serious point which is the war goes on, what brings America back in.
President Biden may want to quit Afghanistan. Afghanistan may not want to quit us. The war on terror doesn't necessarily want to quit the United States, but there's a chilling effect and Kevin McCarthy is not in touch with this. Twenty years after 9/11, what is America prepared to die for? I don't know the answer to that question.
We've been fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for 20 years and we didn't win those wars. At best, it was a draw or we lost them and the war on terror continues. The enterprise was to prevent a terrorist state from taking hold in that part of the world. That's the concern going forward does Afghanistan become that again.
BURNETT: And Clarissa, what's your sense on the ground? Does Afghanistan quit the United States or does the United States end up having to go in, in a big way yet again?
WARD: Well, I think the Taliban very much wants to avoid the United States coming back in and that's how this whole deal was basically struck. The Americans really wanted to leave, the Taliban really wanted the Americans to leave and the one thing they could both agree on was that if the Taliban is able to prevent Afghanistan for once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists, then that deal will be honored.
But the reality on the ground is a lot more ambiguous because while the Taliban's sweep to power has been stunning and shocking by any measure, and while they do have a lot more control on the ground, certainly than the Afghan army had when it was in control, there are still huge questions about how they can sustain that control when they are also in the business of governance.
It is a lot easier to be an insurgency than it is to be governing a country as Gen. David Petraeus said talking about the U.S. military once, we have to be right every time. They just have to be right once. That's what the Taliban is up against and it remains to be seen whether they can provide adequate security and prevent this country from becoming a safe haven again.
BURNETT: Clarissa, Seth and David, thank you very much.
And next the 10s of thousands of Afghan refugees that could soon be making their way to American soil. Is the United States even remotely prepared for what could be up to 50,000 people about to come?
Plus, the death toll rising after Hurricane Ida as rescue crews are now working around the clock to help those stranded with no food, no water and no power, live on the ground tonight.
And CNN goes one-on-one with the man who could be the biggest threat to Gavin Newsom in California's recall election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you follow the science?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to follow the science.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight thousands of Afghan refugees hoping to make their way to the United States, many of them waiting tonight at the U.S. base in Doha, Qatar, crowded conditions and very crowded conditions at the U.S. airbase in Ramstein, Germany. I will show you some of those pictures. I mean, there's 14,000 refugees waiting for their next flight. These are at U.S. air bases, these pictures you're looking at. This happens to be in Germany. It's pretty incredible.
It comes as President Biden praises coalition efforts, because overall the evacuation was 123,000 civilians that are now scattered at these types of bases that came out of Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We completed one of the biggest air lifts in history with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety. That number has more than double what most experts thought were possible. No nation, no nation has ever done anything like it in all of history. Only the United States had the capacity, and the will and the ability to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He's right, it is a record. It's an incredible thing. But now the question is what now, all these people on air bases with nowhere to go.
OUTFRONT now, former Republican Congressman Will Hurd who's also an undercover CIA agent in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And I appreciate your time, Congressman.
So just taking the air base Al Udeid in Doha, they have about 20,000 refugees. I just shared some of the pictures from Ramstein in Germany and these scenes can be replicated in other places as well. The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Adam Smith, last night told me specifically about Doha that there's a struggle there on that air base for even to have enough food and water, the basics, to supply the refugees who are there. Obviously, there wasn't preparation for this sort of thing to occur even on this point of it, so what happens now?
WILL HURD, FORMER UNDERCOVER CIA AGENT IN AFGHANISTAN & PAKISTAN: Sure. Well, the disaster continues and, yes, a lot of people were evacuated out of Afghanistan but the Biden administration still left people behind. And now we're trying to sort through the folks at these various bases and it's not just at U.S. air bases, there are many that are going to be transported to other countries, other countries have welcomed them in to sort through, to make sure they have all the right paperwork in order to go onward to their final destination.
A lot of these are folks that were helping us because of great, tremendous risk to themselves and their family. They're high skilled. I know there's a number of businesses and philanthropic organizations that are looking to try to get them to be placed in jobs, but now we got to make sure that we are able to continue to house and feed them and get them to their onward destination.
BURNETT: All right. So then let's talk about that, because the United States right now apparently says they have the capacity for 21,000 refugees. Again, the number of people evacuated was 123,000. The U.S. is trying to double the number they have space for to 50,000. Just that U.S. bases but on the continental United States over the next couple of weeks. And, again, there's a big difference between 50 and 125-ish, right? So is the United States going to be ready to do this? Are these bases going to be ready to do this? I mean, this is not a small undertaking.
HURD: It's not a small undertaking. And right now, you see that the bases aren't equipped for this. They're not equipped and that's not a criticism on the individual at the base, it's that the leaders that were working on this didn't prepare them. They didn't think through many of these issues. They had to slip out of Afghanistan and escape Afghanistan sooner than what they expected.
And so right now, there's also a lot of frustration with the administration because they bungled the operations in Afghanistan and this is continuing to happen. And so there's frustration for the folks that are in those situations. There's frustration about the people that are dealing with this. It's something that we're seeing similar that border patrol is having to go through on our southern borders as well.
So this is something that is starting to become a hallmark of this administration. But these are folks that helped us, we should be doing everything we can in order to make sure that we take care of them because they took care of our brothers and sisters and our spouse while we were fighting the global war on terrorism.
And by the way, that little word terrorism isn't over and it's unfortunate ...
BURNETT: No. So you raise the point that many of these people obviously helped Americans indeed. They need to come out and that is the least that America can do. But there is this concern about when you get 123,000 people, the biggest ever out of a country in 10 days, who did you really get out.
And Chad Wolf, the former Acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security raised a warning about the refugees. Here it is, Congressman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAD WOLF, FORMER ACTING UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: When you have this amount of individuals that you have a screen and vet in a matter of days, they're going to be corners that are going to be cut. And I think the most concerning thing is if those applications, these applications are not finished, and we know that they're not going to be finished in time, you could have dangerous individuals at these military installations, leaving these military installations in some cases and we find that they don't pass the screening and vetting at the end of the day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Congressman, do you think those concerns are fair?
HURD: It's always a concern to make sure that the people that are coming in, we need to know who's coming in, that is a hallmark of making sure you're protecting your country. I don't know the specific examples that the previous speaker was talking about. But in most of these cases, a lot of these folks have had sponsors or people that - individuals, Americans that are here now that said this person had helped us and confirmed their identity.
HURD: When you look at the number of the members of Congress that are getting calls from constituents that have some connection to many of these individuals, this is something that we're going to be going through this process. And I trust the folks on the ground to make sure we get through that.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Hurd. Appreciate your time tonight.
And next, a curfew about to go into effect for New Orleans. Thousands there suffering no power and now told it could be weeks before it's restored. It's life and death for some.
Plus, CNN sits down with the Republican front runner in California is recall race. The man there's no shortage of controversial opinions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe the science suggests that young people should be vaccinated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, more than a million people in Louisiana, a million, still without power after Hurricane Ida. Officials warning electricity in some areas may not be restored for a month. There are also long gas lines across the state with a significant number of gas stations reporting they're out of fuel or electricity needed to pump it.
All of this adding to the wide spread devastation with some parts of the state still completely under water.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The water got up just above the floor board.
DOMINIQUE THOMAS, LAPLACE, LOUISIANA RESIDENT: Yeah, just above the floor board.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The day after Hurricane Ida wrecked Dominique Thomas's home, she's cleaning up the disaster. She says she's lived through many storms before but this was different. THOMAS: You can still just hear everything ripping and flying and
banging and people's roofs were coming off and we just -- we prayed that we would all live.
LAVANDERA: And the emotions of experiencing Hurricane Ida's furry have caught up to the 32-year-old mother.
THOMAS: The most scariest thing we ever did, it really was. We were there for so long not knowing how high the water would get. I don't think I'll ever stay again.
LAVANDERA: The day after hurricane Ida ripped through southeast Louisiana, officials are warning residents across the region it will take considerable time to get life back to normal. There are more than a million customers without electricity and for many, it could take weeks to get the power restored. Water systems are down, as well and cell phone communication is spotty. The coming days and weeks will be long and hot.
JACLYN HOTARD, ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH PRESIDENT: We are resilient group of people. This is going to be very difficult, worst disaster that we've all seen in St. John Parish. And it's going to take a long time.
LAVANDERA: In LaPlace, residents say they were stunned by the intensity of the storm's winds and the structural damage it caused.
DEBBIE GRECO, LAPLACE, LOUISIANA RESIDENT: It was horrible. It was -- the wind, I never had wind shake the house the way it did.
LAVANDERA: Debbie and Ronnie Greco say after 4 feet of water poured into their home, the roof started to collapse.
GRECO: The ceiling started caving and I got scared. It was like my God, is the roof going to blow off and we're going to be out exposed?
LAVANDERA: Some of the hardest hit areas of southeast Louisiana are still nearly impossible to reach. This is what Grand Isle looks like. This video was captured by one of several dozen people who didn't evacuate and are now stuck on the barrier island.
THOMAS: Seeping in from all the doors, all the closets.
LAVANDERA: Dominique Thomas is bracing for weeks of recovery but can't stop thinking about the eight brutal hours her family endured through the storm.
THOMAS: The doors were rocking back and forth. The windows were shaking. It was just a matter of time before you felt like everything would go right off.
BURNETT: That was Ed Lavandera reporting.
And now, Jaclyn Hotard, you just saw her there briefly, joins me by phone. She is president of St. John the Baptist Parish, which was really thoughtfully red, was talking about the hardest hit area in the state and where he is right now. Thanks so much for being with me. We heard you calling this the worst disaster that you've ever seen in your community. Tell me about what you're seeing, the devastation on the ground.
HOTARD (via telephone): Thank you, Erin. Thank you so much for having me.
And not only were those my words but, you know, our president and the governor have both called this one of America's great disasters. The devastation is hard to put into words. Went up several hours ago in a helicopter to do additional damage assessments to get a real picture of what the extent of the damage is and it's catastrophic.
Our entire community, the entire parish is without water. The entire parish right now is without electricity and we had extensive damage to all of our infrastructure.
So, the recovery is going to take much longer because of the extensive damage to our infrastructure.
BURNETT: You talk about this, it's stunning to think about it. I know that your governor said about 80 percent of the rescues thus far in the state happened in your parish nearly 800 people have been rescued. When you talk about areas that are just impassable, Jaclyn, do you know how many more people are need in of rescue and how many are in dire need of help of some sort?
HOTARD: We are continuing to receive calls in the 911 center that maybe more of wellness checks but the calls for actual rescues have died down. We did have the National Guard performing checks in some of the neighborhoods. We had our fire department and sheriff's office going through the neighborhoods. You know, with intercoms and just checking on people. Not just wellness checks but just doing an assessment of who is all still in their homes.
So, at this point, we are blessed that we have not had a single storm related fatality in this entire event so far and that's just only by the grace of God, I can say. But those calls for actual rescues have come down but we are still making sure that we do our best to keep our residents safe. It's a very uncomfortable situation because there is no electricity. There is no water, and then also, we still have many trees down where many of the roads are impassable so some people who have evacuated, can't get in to check on their own homes. So, it's -- it's devastating.
BURNETT: Catastrophic but it is -- as you say, miraculous you don't have more people in dire need and more death. Thank God for that.
Thank you so much, Jaclyn. Appreciate your taking the time and showing this so people understand what is happening.
HOTARD: Thank you. BURNETT: Next, the top two vaccine officials at the FDA abruptly
resign as CNN learns that there is frustration inside the agency over the White House decision to announce booster shots this fall.
Plus, a congressman that's tied himself to Trump's big lie leveling this warning about future elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): It's going to lead to one place and it's bloodshed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, the acting head of the FDA admitting these are, quote, difficult times. Two top vaccine officials abruptly resigned and there is frustration inside the agency about the White House announcing there will be COVID booster shots this fall before FDA approval.
The White House COVID response coordinator defending to recommend booster shots for all adults in the face of this reporting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: This is pending FDA conducting an independent evaluation and CDC's panel of outside experts issuing a booster dose recommendation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Dr. Jonathan Reiner is OUTFRONT.
You've seen this from all sides. Dr. Reiner, you get these abrupt resignations at the FDA and, by the way, the context here is really important. The FDA has no confirmed leaders. You don't have anyone formally confirmed and charged. Officials are frustrated the way the White House announced boosters would be available for all adults beginning next month.
So, how much does all of this matter? Could it hurt trust in the vaccine process itself when we see all this infighting?
DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It matters a lot, Erin. Let let's look what happened. The director and deputy director of the FDA center task with approving buy logics including vaccines, when they both abruptly resign on the same day during a pandemic at a time the FDA is endeavoring to approve not just booster shots but also vaccines for children under the age of 12, it speaks to great dysfunction within the FDA.
So, what's supposed to happen is the FDA is supposed to license or approve a vaccine and then the CDC, their ACIP committee meets to basically form the recommendations for how the vaccines will be used. That's what happened for the booster for immuno-compromised people.
But then five days later in a statement before the FDA approved the vaccine for other people, the CDC director and acting director of the FDA issued a joint statement saying come September 20th, they would open boosters to the public and that apparently has really rattled or angered the leadership of the FDA center tasked with approving vaccines.
BURNETT: I mean, it is all really concerning and it comes as you point out during a pandemic.
BURNETT: I emphasize the "during" because you got 100,000 people now according to the models expected to die in the next four months. The Biden administration is monitoring oxygen supplies because sources tell CNN hospitals are seeing oxygen shortages.
They don't have enough oxygen. They have liquid oxygen issues. They are saying they could run out imminently in some cases. This is pretty stunning to see this happen in the United States of America at this point in the pandemic.
REINER: So, remember in the spring when things were getting better in the United States and things were cataclysmically bad in India, what was happening in India is the hospitals all over that massive country were running out of oxygen and, you know, people in the United States sort of pitied them and how could that happen in a modern country?
But yet, that's what is happening in the United States. Warren Buffett has said only when the tide goes out can you tell who is swimming naked and the tide went out 18 months ago in this country when the pandemic hit us.
And what we've learned is that large parts of our medical infrastructure in this country are broken, and we're going to need to rebuild it, rebuild supply lines. We've run out of masks. We've run out of gowns.
You've seen pictures of nurses wearing trash bags to try and protect themselves. We need to fix this.
BURNETT: Yeah. Very sobering. Thank you very much Dr. Reiner.
REINER: My pleasure.
Next, another sobering and frightening story. A Republican congressman warning of bloodshed after spreading dangerous lies about future elections and the Republican who could replace Governor Gavin Newsom if he's recalled responds to past controversial comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LARRY ELDER, CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I've always felt that minorities and women complain too much about racism and sexism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Tonight, Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn warning of, quote, bloodshed, claiming United States elections are rigged.
And he's not alone in making false dangerous claims.
Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.
CAWTHORN: We know that it was a stolen election.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Freshman Congressman Madison Cawthorn pushing false claims about election fraud in the 2020 election.
CAWTHORN: If our election systems continued to be rigged and continued to be stolen, and it's going to lead to one place and it's bloodshed.
SERFATY: Warning there could be violence over future elections.
CAWTHORN: I will tell you as much as I'm willing to defend liberty at all costs, there is nothing that I dread doing more and having to pick up arms against a fellow American.
SERFATY: The congressman made the comments Sunday at a North Carolina County GOP event.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: When are you going to call us to Washington again?
CAWTHORN: We are actively working on that. And I don't have an answer for that. Ma'am, we are actually actively working on this. We have few plans that I can't make public right now.
SERFATY: The county GOP has since deleted footage of Cawthorn's appearance. The congressman's office told CNN in a statement, Congressman Cawthorn is clearly advocating for violence not to occur over election integrity questions. He fears others would erroneously choose that route and strongly states election integrity issues should be resolved peacefully and never through violence.
But there's no evidence of mass voter fraud, something Cawthorn himself admitted on CNN after the violence at the U.S. Capitol.
CAWTHORN: I would say that the election was not fraudulent. You know, the Constitution allowed for us to be able to push back as much as we could. Joseph R. Biden is our president. SERFATY: However, Trump supporters including Cawthorn have now
revived the narrative that the election was stolen, and again justifying potential violence.
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Today, I will be objecting to a stolen election
SERFATY: Provocative Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.
GREENE: I wouldn't call it an insurrection.
SERFATY: Who in the past has been indicated support for executing prominent Democrats like in this comment on social media that said, a bullet to the head would be quicker to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley who is out front and pushing election conspiracies --
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I objected during the Electoral College certification, maybe heard about it.
SERFATY: Defending his part in trying to overturn the 2020 election results.
HAWLEY: I said, we ought to have a debate about election integrity. I said, it is the right of the people to be heard, and my constituents in Missouri want to be heard on this issue.
SERFATY: As well as former President Trump accused of inciting the insurrection.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDET: All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by a bold and radical left Democrats. If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.
SERFATY: And in that controversial speech on Sunday, Congressman Cawthorn also said that he's trying to support and get help for the rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6, people he calls political hostages. Despite, Erin, of course, many of them being charged with felonies.
BURNETT: Yeah. All right. Thank you very much, Sunlen.
And OUTFRONT next, CNN sits down with the man who's the biggest threat to California Governor Gavin Newsom. Wait until you see this.
BURNETT: Tonight, the man who may be the biggest threat to the California Governor Gavin Newsom. Controversial conservative radio host Larry Elder, the GOP front runner in the recall election, is now just two weeks away and there are growing fears among Democrats that Newsom's days may be numbered as governor as governor, which is stunning development.
Joe Johns is OUTFRONT.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the man who could set off a political earthquake in California.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Larry, Larry!
JOHNS: Larry Elder, a 69-year-old conservative talk show host turned political candidate has become the Republican frontrunner --
LARRY ELDER, CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: This man that I'm going to defeat.
JOHNS: -- in the race to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom.
ELDER: My agenda is crime. My agenda is homelessness. My agenda is the way the state was shut down by --
JOHNS: That agenda, says Elder, includes rolling back the state's COVID restrictions, vowing to repeal mask and vaccine mandates for California state workers.
Will you follow the science?
ELDER: I'm going to follow the science. I'm going to -- I don't believe the science suggests that young people should be vaccinated. I don't believe science suggests that young people should have to wear masks at school. I'm not sure the science alone has said that at all.
And young people are not likely to contract the coronavirus. And when they do, their symptoms are likely to be mild and not likely to be hospitalized and they're certainly not likely to die.
JOHNS: The science says he's wrong on several counts. Millions of children have tested positive for COVID-19, they're hospitalized, and masks are proven to prevent the spread of the virus.
A California native, Elder was raised in south central Los Angeles, made his way to Brown University, and received a law degree from Michigan.
ELDER: Larry Elder here, from south central --
JOHNS: For 27 years, he was the voice of conservative rage on the radio.
ELDER: Blacks exaggerate the significance of racism. Affirmative action is wrong.
JOHNS: Some of his most controversial comments over the years were about things like systemic racism and policing.
ELDER: Studies do not show that the police are pulling black people over just because they're black. The studies do not show that police are killing black people just because they're black. It is false.
If I had known there would be so many people, I would have prepared something to say.
JOHNS: Many of Elder's views after a career in talk radio are extreme. But at least on two policies, Elder tells me he would not try to implement them if elected governor.
ELDER: Am I opposed to the minimum wage? Yes.
JOHNS: Are you going to get rid of it?
ELDER: Am I going to do anything about it? Absolutely not. That's not even close to anything on my agenda list.
JOHNS: On immigration, Elder suggested in a 2010 column a constitutional amendment to deny citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants. A politically explosive position in a state rich with immigrants.
Are you going to do things like deny medical care and education to undocumented immigrants in the state?
ELDER: Again, not even close to anything on my agenda.
JOHNS: As elder's political star rises, his decades of comments on race and women mocking sexual assault and saying women know less than men about politics are drawing fresh scrutiny.
ELDER: I've always felt that minorities and women complain too much about racism and sexism.
JOHNS: For instance, Elder tweeted that women have no right to maternity leave in addition to other sexist comments.
ELDER: I have great deal of respect for women. My mom was a woman. I had her on my show every Friday. Only you bring up these kinds of issues.
When I'm on the campaign trail and I meet a lot of women, nobody says to me, you know, Larry, I'm concerned about what you're going to do women. Just you guys.
JOHNS (on camera): I asked Larry Elder whether he wants the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. He says he is quote, indifferent and has not asked for it. A source with Trump told me no decision has been made about whether to support Elder -- Erin.
BURNETT: It's fascinating. It's fascinating to watch, the history and this whole scenario. It's going to be incredible to watch. Joe Johns with that interview with Larry Elder, joining me, of course,
live from Los Angeles tonight. Thank you so much, Joe.
And thanks very much to all of you for joining us. You can always watch OUTFRONT. Re-watch that, or anything else, anywhere on CNN Go.
In the meantime, "AC360" starts now.