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Erin Burnett Outfront

President Biden Tours Hurricane Damage in Louisiana; At Least 50 Killed in Catastrophic Flooding Across Northeast; Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) Discusses About the Extensive Damage in New Jersey; White House May Have to Scale Back Vaccine Booster Plan; Biden Confronted with Multiple Crises: Hurricane Ida, Afghanistan Exit, COVID Surge, and Dismal Jobs Report. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 03, 2021 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer. Thanks for watching. As we head into this holiday weekend, Happy Labor Day to all. And to our Jewish viewers, Happy New Year.

Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, President Biden in Louisiana tonight as the misery mounts and the death toll from Ida continues to rise, now 50 dead in the Northeast. We're live on the ground.

Plus, CNN learning that the White House may have to scale back its ambitious plan for booster shots. How big of a setback is this for getting COVID under control?

And America's economy hitting a roadblock hiring down drastically. What's behind the slowdown and should Biden be worried? Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening everyone. I Bianna Golodryga in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight breaking news, President Biden in Louisiana. He's now meeting with local leaders there after serving the catastrophic damage from Hurricane Ida. The President seeing firsthand the unrelenting power of what was a category 4 storm that has left 13 dead in Louisiana and in Mississippi. A storm that has left more than 800,000 people there still without power.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's much to be done and we're working around the clock with the governor and the elected officials here until we can meet every need you all have.


GOLODRYGA: And as you can see from these images, new images, the cleanup has just begun. And even days later, the floodwaters have yet to recede in some places. And with the sweltering heat, no power, no water, food and fuel shortages, many people on the ground are beginning to fear the worse. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got to asleep in the car. My kids are hot. We're hungry. We're going to die in here. Where's FEMA. Where's the Red Cross? We need help now.


GOLODRYGA: And there is an urgent need for help across the Northeast as well. The death toll rising to 50 there as rescue crews continue to search for survivors after the remnants of Ida tore through the region.

In Pennsylvania, roads and homes are still underwater. In New Jersey where 25 people were killed, at least six people there are still missing, including two people who witnesses say were swept into a storm drain by floodwaters.

A lot to get into tonight, our Pete Muntean is in hard-hit Pennsylvania. But I do want to begin with Ed Lavandera. He's OUTFRONT in LaPlace, Louisiana where the President was earlier today. Ed, how are conditions now on the ground there five days into this catastrophe?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's just clear every day that's gone by this week, Bianna, is just a reminder of how long this process is going to take and how long it's going to take for things to get back to normal. Officials here continue to tell people that especially here in the town of LaPlace where we are, which is where the President visited today, that it will take weeks to get the electrical infrastructure rebuild so that the power can get turned back on.

And there's a great deal of structural damage that people are just now really getting to the point where they can begin sifting through their belongings. There have been many people who have come picked up what they can and left the area. But this is where the President visited today to make that point and to try to remind people and to let them know that the federal government is going to be here throughout this process.

But this is all a long-term process and it doesn't turn the lights on today or tomorrow or this weekend. And that is the reality that so many people here in this region are facing, that it's weeks away from getting the power turn back on as the heat index flies over a hundred degrees so the days are long and brutal here, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. Sweltering heat this time of year in Louisiana. Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.

And across the Northeast, many residents are still trying to recover after deadly flooding from the remnants of Ida. Pete Muntean is OUTFRONT in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania.


the East Coast is just beginning in cities and towns large and small. In Center City, Philadelphia crews are racing to clear the Vine Street Expressway. Deep Water is being diverted into the slowly receding Schuylkill River, which swelled Thursday to levels not seen in two centuries.


ADAM K. THIEL, PHILADELPHIA FIRE COMMISSIONER: The recovery process for this is going to take months.


MUNTEAN(voice-over): The EF2 tornado that swirled through Fort Washington, Pennsylvania killed one woman when a tree fell on her house. The twister then targeted the high school township building, police department and Ron Copelin's neighborhood.


RON COPELIN, RESIDENT: It's devastating. It really is devastating to see all this. You never think it can happen to you. You never think it's going to happen in your neighborhood. But unfortunately, there's the proof, it did.


MUNTEAN(voice-over): The new numbers are becoming more gruesome. Across New York authorities say 11 people were killed when their basement apartments turned into death traps.


MAYOR SEAN SPILLER, TOWNSHIP OF MONTCLAIR NJ: These are people's lives. These are people's homes. These are people's vehicles. These are people who've been traumatized with car rescues and we're literally getting people out of their homes and apartments.


MUNTEAN(voice-over): Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf tour the damage in the Philadelphia suburbs of Montgomery County where officials counted 467 calls for water rescues on Wednesday night alone, more than twice the previous county-wide record.


MUNTEAN(on camera): How much of this damage do you attribute to climate change?

GOV. TOM WOLF (D) PENNSYLVANIA: Most of it. I think fewer and fewer people are climate deniers these days. I think the more you see this kind of thing, the indiscriminate and intense nature of the storms, I'm not sure how you can sit on the sidelines and say, no, we don't need to do anything. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MUNTEAN(voice-over): Fort Washington Fire Chief Andy Rathfon says his childhood neighborhood was crushed by this storm of unprecedented power now leaving an unimaginable toll.


CHIEF ANDREW RATHFON, FORT WASHINGTON FIRE COMPANY: Just be patient. Check on your neighbors and we're going to get through this. We're going to clean it up. We're going to rebuild and we're going to be stronger than we were before as a result of this.



MUNTEAN(on camera): Behind me is the township building that was hit by that EF2 tornado and this was its roof peeled off like a tuna can. One more thing missing here from the high school across the street, the fire chief says there was a row of dumpsters there. But one of those dumpsters has disappeared, just a sign of how strong the winds were here.

Beyond the mortal toll of 50 deaths, there will be a massive monetary toll associated with all of this and Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania told me live on the air earlier it is just too soon to say officially how much all of this cleanup will cost, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Pete, I just can't wrap my head around those images behind you. It's surreal. And as many are saying, this may be our new normal. Thank you so much.

Well, OUTFRONT now Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski of New Jersey. His district saw several deaths and some of the worst flooding in the state. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. I know you yourself had damage in your own home. I believe you had four feet of water in your basement and your garage. I know you've been touring your district today and meeting with residents there, how extensive is the damage that you've seen?

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): Yes. You mentioned I had a bunch of water in my basement and garage. And when I talked to other people, my neighbors, I feel lucky because what happened to me was nothing compared to what happened to thousands and thousands of families across this part of New Jersey. It's devastating.

We, of course, had the loss of life. Many, many people suffering catastrophic damage to their homes. A lot of infrastructure damage, bridges, roads that are just going to have to be replaced. And on top of that, people just feel tired that this just keeps on happening with increasing frequency. They look to the future with trepidation knowing that.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. It's horrifying to think of what's to come and we're just starting the hurricane season this year. What are residents telling you about what it is they need specifically now?

MALINOWSKI: We need immediate help in the cleanup. We're going to need a lot of federal help for individual homeowners. President Biden has begun that process, but we still need a decision from the White House that the full range of FEMA benefits are going to be available, including for homeowners who need to rebuild for our local governments that have these infrastructure costs for people who lost their homes. That's something I'm going to be fighting hard for in Congress in the coming weeks.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. We heard the President earlier today saying that insurance companies really do need to step up now. But I want to follow up on that point about FEMA, because earlier we heard from residents in Louisiana begging for FEMA to do more. They've gone days now without water in some cases, and fuel, and the sweltering heat there. Are you getting all the resources that you need right now from the federal government?

Well, right now, I mean, this hit us a little bit later than Louisiana. We've only been at this for a couple of days. I think our local governments, our state government have the assurance they need from President Biden that they'll be reimbursed for emergency costs. What we don't have is the assurance that individuals who lost parts of their homes need that FEMA will help them make up for those losses.

We can start repairs, but who's going to pay for those repairs is a lingering question. And then, of course, that's the immediate stuff. We've got to use this as a wakeup call to deal with climate change.

GOLODRYGA: I can't get over last Sunday when people in New Jersey and New York were reaching out to loved ones in New Orleans, thinking of them and worrying about them not even knowing what would transpire in their own backyards just four days later.


The loss of life, obviously, these are numbers that we haven't seen and the New Jersey's governor said earlier that the 25 people are dead, I believe six people are missing in your state alone. Are you expecting those numbers to rise?

MALINOWSKI: I fear that they will and to your point, it's not lost on anybody here, but this is not a hurricane that hit New Jersey. This is a hurricane that hit Louisiana, thousand miles away. And just the remnants of a storm are causing this much damage in this part of the country.

This is about as much damage or more in the communities I represent than we had from the catastrophic Hurricane Sandy some years ago. So that tells you how this increasing intensity of storms is affecting us. And so good news, we've got an infrastructure bill, that's going to add more than $50 billion to our efforts to be more resilient flood control stormwater management.

The bad news is that we can't just keep building bigger and bigger dikes. We've got to move this country away from fossil fuels to clean energy and to move the world and to lead the world in that direction or the engineering we're doing now is going to be useless and outdated, 20 years from now.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Congressman, I think we can all agree that no one wants to see these kinds of storms become our new normal going forward. Best of luck to you and your repairs, I know you said you were among the lucky ones. Thank you for joining us. Have a good weekend.

MALINOWSKI: Thank you, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: And OUTFRONT next, more than 800 nursing home residents forced to ride out hurricane Ida in a warehouse. Four died, dozens hospitalized. Nurses working in the warehouse are now describing the horrendous conditions they found inside.

Plus, Trump was booed for telling supporters to get vaccinated. Now, the former president is revealing whether he plans to get a booster shot.

And an Afghan who served alongside U.S. troops in Afghanistan now in the United States, but he had to leave his parents behind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you didn't even get to say goodbye?





GOLODRYGA: Tonight, Louisiana's Attorney General launching an investigation into the deaths of four nursing home residents during Hurricane Ida. The four victims were packed into a warehouse with nearly 800 other nursing home residents who rode out the storm in shocking conditions.

For the first time, as you see here, we're getting a look inside that warehouse. Two nurses who work there speaking to a local newspaper tonight describing the horrendous conditions inside. One saying, "Part smelled like nothing but feces and urine. I watched people lie in their own feces. People slept on the cement floor."

OUTFRONT now Andrea Gallo, an Investigative Reporter at the New Orleans' Advocate in Times-Picayune. She joins us and she spoke with two of those nurses. Andrea, thank you so much for joining us. This is just a gut-wrenching story and I know that these nurses felt so strongly about what they saw that they needed to speak out, what more did they tell you about the conditions that they found?

ANDREA GALLO, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER FOR THE ADVOCATE/NOLA.COM: Thank you for having me. You're right. The nurses felt extremely haunted by the conditions that they saw inside of the shelter where they had evacuated with their patients. They said that nursing home residents from other facilities were lying on the ground in total filth that a lot of them were lying in their own feces, crying out, begging for help, begging to be changed and that other workers were just passing by them and ignoring them. And they said that things got worse after the storm hit because the shelter lost air conditioning and trash piled up. There was a lot of problems with the bathrooms, toilets were overflowing and they were just disgusted by it.

GOLODRYGA: And what's so heartbreaking about this is that these people were brought to rescue them. They were brought to this warehouse to save their lives and yet here we are with several dead. I want to read a quote from your piece.

And you said that the nurses told you, "People were so neglected. They would yell at us, 'Please help me. I'm thirsty. I need to be changed.'" And the nurses said, "The hardest thing we had to do was keep walking and not help them. That was one of the hardest things I ever had to do." I know that they were so taken aback by this emotionally. They don't even know if they can continue being nurses.

GALLO: That's right. Both of them said that they love their profession of nursing, but they felt like after spending several days inside of this warehouse and seeing the inhumane conditions, they both felt like a kind of moral line had been crossed. And neither of them believed that they will go back to their current jobs at the South Lafourche nursing home center where they both work and both are seriously considering leaving the profession entirely.

GOLODRYGA: You can imagine how emotionally scarring that must have been from them. The patient's came from seven nursing homes owned by one man. He's a Baton Rouge developer named Bob Dean who CNN has just learned also owns the warehouse. Now, he did not respond to CNN's request for comment, but here's what he told our WAFB affiliate. I want to read this to you.

He said, "We only have five deaths within the six days and normally with 850 people you'll have a couple a day so we did really good with taking care of people."

I mean, how heartless could one be? I don't even understand how that could possibly be a defense.

GALLO: That's a good question. And a lot of the families of these 800 plus nursing home residents are absolutely furious about this. They're demanding answers. They're saying that they want to see Bob Dean prosecuted. They're just totally disgusted by the situation.

But I don't know if it should have been that much of a surprise because when you look back, Bob Dean has been owning nursing homes in Louisiana for decades and all of them have horrific back records. There are lots of stories about people at his nursing homes dying. There's one, a disabled man, who was ignored for a few hours when he was in a whirlpool and he died. Another woman who (inaudible) coming out of her nose and her eyes when a nurse found her.


Things like that that Bob Dean's nursing homes have gotten in trouble with inspectors for and yet he's had a license.

GOLODRYGA: Well, hopefully, he'll be held to account now that an investigation has been launched. Nobody should have to die this way. Thank you, Andrea, so much for your reporting.

GALLO: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: And right now, President Biden is wrapping up his tour of Louisiana where he vowed his full support for the recovery efforts.


BIDEN: We're in this together and so we're not going to leave any community behind; rural, city, coastal inland and I promise we're going to have your back until this gets done.


GOLODRYGA: OUTFRONT now, Jaclyn Hotard, President of St. John the Baptist Parish that was one of the hardest-hit areas in the state. She met with President Biden today and she joins me now by phone. Jaclyn, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. What did you tell President Biden when you met with him?

JACLYN HOTARD, PRESIDENT, ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARIS, LA: And thank you for having me this afternoon. First, I thank President Biden and even our governor and local officials for all of the work that they have done and for continuing to ramp up those efforts. And more importantly, I thank him for calling out insurance companies for attempting to distinguish between mandatory and voluntary evacuations and for also triggering the transitional shelter assistance through FEMA that our residents so desperately need, because many of their homes are uninhabitable.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. He said no one was leaving their home to go on vacation, that this was out of desperation. I believe all of your parish is currently without power tonight and many still without access to reliable cell coverage and water. I mean, this is five days later. Is any progress being made to get those services restored for more of your residents?

HOTARD: there is progress being made. However, we know that it's not enough. We do have some water service on our west bank community and some in our communities of Garyville and Reserve. LaPlace is still without water and even the water that we do have coming through the system is not enough, but it's, I guess, more - if you don't have any, it's still something. There's no power anywhere in the parish and we're still struggling with communications.

When we were in neighborhoods today just assessing needs on the ground, many people don't know of all of the places we have available for POD sites with ice, and water, and MREs and other food distributions because they don't have any communications and or they don't have any electricity to charge up the communications they do have.

GOLODRYGA: Well, quickly, Jaclyn, what's the best way that those in your community that need to reach out to you can?

HOTARD: The best way is to just keep in touch with, we put things on our website, social media, those things. I am on the news every single day, so we're attempting to get out information. We do have FEMA beginning to go into the neighborhoods to reach out to individuals that are unreachable right now, so we just asked him to stay connected with us.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Jaclyn, best of luck to you and your community in these difficult days and weeks ahead. We appreciate your time.

HOTARD: Thank you so much. Yes, ma'am. Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, OUTFRONT next, new confusion from the Biden administration over the planned rollout of booster shots. Health officials warning that it may need to be scaled back.

Plus, a lousy jobs report putting President Biden on the defense over his handling the economy.



GOLODRYGA: Tonight, the White House may be forced to scale back its plan to offer COVID booster shots to all vaccinated adults starting in just a few weeks. President Biden announced just last month that his administration plans to offer boosters starting September 20th, telling Americans to prepare to get a third shot eight months after their second dose.

But his plan got ahead of the FDA and the CDC. Top health officials are now warning the White House that the booster plan may be limited to those who received the Pfizer vaccine, because they don't have enough information from Moderna or Johnson and Johnson.

Arlette Saenz is OUTFRONT from the White House. And Arlette, this is clearly a setback for a White House that has been touting this booster plan with a date just in a few weeks.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Bianna, the Biden administration had hoped that they would be able to offer booster shots for both Pfizer and Moderna, but they have also long said that any decision about and plan for booster shots would depend on that FDA approval and review process.

Now, a source familiar with the discussions who I spoke with earlier today told me that plan for Pfizer is still on track to get approved by that September 20th timeframe that the Biden administration had set. But it's Moderna that's a bit more complicated. This source said that there was inadequate data and they needed more data from Moderna and needed that time to review the data as well. Now this afternoon, Moderna said that they completed their submission

to the FDA today, so there's now a question of whether that might change the calculus on whether an approval process might be able to go forward for Moderna before that September 20th timeframe.

Now, this comes as FDA officials had tried to ask the White House previously not to set a specific timeframe or deadline for getting these booster shots out. But that is something that they decided to go forward with anyways. So now in the coming weeks as they are reviewing this data, right now official say they're on track for Pfizer to be available for September 20th but it's really Moderna that is in question.

And one thing that the acting FDA Commissioner also said this week is that they still needed to put forward a plan so that they're not caught flat footed once this is all approved by the FDA. So in the coming weeks, we should get more clarity about how soon both of those booster shots might be available. And Johnson and Johnson is a bit further behind as they're still waiting for more data, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Clearly, this administration in a race against time now with this Delta variant continuing to spike across the country.


Arlette, thank you.

For more on this, I want to bring in Dr. Jonathan Reiner who advised the White House medical team under President George W. Bush.

And, Dr. Reiner, I know I believe you have a few opinions on this as well. But let's make clear this isn't about whether booster shots in general offer protection. We know now from real world data, from Israel, that they do.

So, does this confusion come from the White House getting ahead of the scientists because that is something this administration said that it would not do?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: What a mess, Bianna. Look, I think most people think that at some point, we're going to boost everyone. The problem is relied on data from Israel to understand how the efficacy of our vaccines wane and how much you can boost the efficacy by giving it an additional shot.

The problem is Israel has given entirely the Pfizer vaccine. So while I think there is robust data to support a third shot for the 55 percent of Americans who received the Pfizer vaccine, there's much less data to support the use of boosting the Moderna vaccine and there is even less data for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which many vaccine scientists think actually is in greatest need of a boost.

Yet, two weeks ago, both acting commissioner -- acting FDA Commissioner Woodcock and CDC Director Walensky basically jointly said we would be boosting everyone at the end of the September. They did this despite the fact that the FDA office tasked with approving changes to vaccine usage had not met and had not yet convened their experts. So they certainly got ahead of their skis and it seems now certainly they're going to have to back off.

GOLODRYGA: Right. And, of course, this seems to create two headaches, not just one because for those who have headed Moderna vaccine and the J&J vaccine, they had been waiting for this September 20 date and that may or may not happen now but I think more importantly, correct me if I'm wrong, there are still millions of Americans get to get one dose of any vaccine and this may cause them to pause on getting another one because of this confusion.

REINER: Right. So about 25 percent of adults have yet to get vaccinated, and many people were concerned about safety. Other people were concerned about efficacy, but, you know, whatever the reason why people have with held getting vaccinated having this kind of muddled message coming out of CDC, FDA and administration does not help.

GOLODRYGA: Well, we know many of those who have yet to get a vaccine are skeptical are relying on former President Trump and everything he says and he just today said that he is unlikely to get a booster shot. This is what he told "The Wall Street Journal". I want to read this for you. He said I feel like I'm in good shape from that standpoint. I probably won't. I'm not against it but it's probably not for me.

He is saying he's not against it but we know many of his supporters oppose vaccines. This isn't going to help anything, is it?

REINER: It almost seems like this is intentional sabotage. Only about half of the people that voted for him have been vaccinated. That's what the polls suggest. And if you're looking to send a signal to people that vaccines are safe and that the information you're getting from the CDC and FDA is accurate and important and real, you would strengthen it by saying yes, as soon as boosters are available I'm getting the booster.

Yet, he says he doesn't think he needs it. It's not like he's convened a panel of vaccine scientists and has reviewed all of the data, right? He's just riffling but his riff really resonates with the people that listen to him.

GOLODRYGA: There are real life consequences, too, because perhaps we wouldn't be talking about the need for boosters if more Americans were vaccinated with the first and second dose. Dr. Reiner, thank you as always for coming on.

We appreciate your expertise. Have a good weekend.

REINER: My pleasure. You, too.

GOLODRYGA: And OUTFRONT next: surging COVID cases, climate crisis, Afghanistan and now, President Biden is dealing with an economy that is facing serious new headwinds.

Plus, an Afghan who was forced to leave his parents behind before flying to the U.S. fears for his family's safety and tonight, he has a message for the president. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


GOLODRYGA: Tonight, the August jobs report is a bust for President Biden. Just 235,000 new jobs were created. The lowest job since January and much lower than the 728,000 jobs that were predicted. Headlines saying the numbers are lackluster, weak and have, quote, economists worried.

President Biden admitting that the jobs report was not what he was hoping for.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Biden plan is working. We're getting results. There is no question that the delta variant is why today's job report isn't stronger. I know people were looking and I was hoping for a higher number.


GOLODRYGA: OUTFRONT now, Matthew Dowd, who was the chief strategist for the Bush, Cheney 2004 presidential campaign.

Matthew, my friend, good to see you, as always. So, let's talk about this number --


GOLODRYGA: -- because after really strong numbers this summer, the president having to admit these disappointing numbers are because of the COVID crisis and delta variant. Given the fires he's currently juggling, if you were advising him right now, would this be high up on the list of concerns?

DOWD: Well, first, I'd advise and remind him of history, which is the last three, four, five presidents have gone through the late summer, early fall.


President Obama got went through it, President Bush went through it, President Clinton went through it. So, stay focused on the long term on this and get through the months of hard stuff.

But I think more important than anything is containing the COVID epidemic, which then directly affects our economy. Both of those things go together and are interlocked to and will determine the jobs approval rating will determine what happens in the midterms.

All of those lineup, but it is August of 2021. A lot of time left. And I also think it's not only -- it's not only the delta variant, I think there is psychological thing going on in the American public after they have been through this and worked remotely and there is a segment of the population reassessing where they are in life and what they want to do.

And so, maybe we're at a place where job growth is not going to sustain itself like economists thought.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, perhaps we're experiencing tectonic shifts what the job market looks like in the country coming out of a pandemic.

But this isn't the only issue he's dealing with. It's coming on top of the fallout over his withdrawal of U.S forces from Afghanistan, growing concerns about new surges in the COVID cases, and as we've been talking about earlier in the show, the devastation caused by Ida in both the South and Northeast. How does he reassure Americans he's on top of these issues?

DOWD: He doesn't overreact. He stays steady. That's the main thing and he has competent people around him to get the job done.

And if you know you're going to go through from a historical basis and every president goes through bad times, overreacting, doing things that are outside of who you are and what leader you are, he has to do a competent job but has to do a competent job at these things with the crisis over the climate, at the crisis internationally.

All of the economic situations, all of those, the best thing he can do, not about speeches and it's not about some event somewhere, it's about doing a good job because if you do a good job over time, Americans don't focus on one month's job report or two months report, they focus on the length though period lengthy period of time.

So, just stay steady and have competent leadership.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Matt, I know anyone that follows your Twitter account is one thing that took issue with you and millions of Americans is abortion rights after the Supreme Court refused to freeze the Texas law that bars abortion after six weeks. "Axios" is reporting President Biden is, quote, eager for a fight over abortion because he believes it's politically advantageous ahead of the 2022 midterms. Is he right?

DOWD: I absolutely think he's right. Two-thirds of the country once Roe versus Wade is in place. I think most of the country falls into pro-choice and pro-life, meaning they want women to have the right to choose but there are many things we can do to protect individuals around the country.

And so, this idea of divorcing those two things is a very, very strong issue for the Democrats. They have to talk about it right but I think overwhelmingly, including here in Texas, including here in Texas and overwhelming majority of the country supports keeping Rowe versus wade in place.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, Texas leadership taking a victory lap and other states looking to follow as well.

Matt, always good to see you. Have a great weekend.

DOWD: You, too, take care. GOLODRYGA: OUTFRONT next, one Afghan who finally made it to the U.S.

but he's now terrified for the family that he was forced to leave behind.

Plus, 16 second graders were in the room when then President Bush learned about the 9/11 attacks and tonight, we hear how that day changed their lives.



GOLODRYGA: Tonight, more than 40,000 evacuees from Afghanistan already admitted into the United States and now we're hearing from one of them. He's terrified for his family still in Afghanistan, so we're not using his full name to protect him.

Brynn Gingras is OUTFRONT.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the first day of a new life for Zubair and Shabano (ph). This tiny one-bedroom apartment in Buffalo, New York, is their new home.

ZUBAIR, FORMER U.S. TRANSLATOR WHO FLED AFGHANISTAN: I can't believe that I'm here in the United States. Sometimes I'm telling to my wife, I'm not sleep. She says no, now you wake up.

GINGRAS: It was one week away when Zubair was living a nightmare in Afghanistan.

ZUBAIR: It was really bad. We are stuck at home. One minute is like one day.

GINGRAS: The former translator worked alongside U.S. forces for four years. He applied for a special immigrant visa more than two years ago. Zubair was one of the lucky ones. It was granted, just two days before the Taliban overtook Kabul.

But Zubair needed to get his family to the airport. He and his father both worked with the U.S. government and they knew if they stay in Kabul, their lives would be in danger. Zubair was getting text messages from friends also trying to escape.

ZUBAIR: Says it's like horror movie. He says that Taliban are like zombies.

GINGRAS: What were you thinking watching this?

ZUBAIR: I thought I can't get out of Kabul.

GINGRAS: Zubair says he was on his own with visa in hand, he spent days trying to get himself and his family past the Taliban. With no help from the Americans he says.

ZUBAIR: The Taliban was behaving very bad. Most of them were beating people. I was seeing this, I caught gate inside the Kabul airport.

GINGRAS: But his father.

ZUBAIR: I leave him at the gate, the last think -- I couldn't talk with him, because I was intending (ph) to leave Afghanistan.


GINGRAS: So, you didn't get to say good-bye?


GINGRAS: The couple fled with just these three bags, leaving everything else behind -- family, friends, and former co-workers.

Z, a fellow translator, says he was days away from getting his visa when the Taliban took over. He's still stuck in Kabul. He asked we not disclose his name or show his face for his safety.

"Z", FORMER U.S. TRANSLATOR UNABLE TO LEAVE AFGHANISTAN : People like me, there are a lot of people like me who was working with the same company. We all left behind. So, we're currently, we are -- we're receiving the threats, my family and my life is really in great danger.

GINGRAS: His plea to the U.S. government.

"Z": My message to Mr. President Joe Biden is don't leave us behind.

GINGRAS: Zubair calls friends of his left behind daily. He says his mom is too heartbroken to speak with him, but he keeps hope.

ZUBAIR: I have hope that one day there will be, today in America, I see him here alive.

GINGRAS: In the meantime, he and his wife are starting over with help from a resettlement agency, Journey's End Refugee Services, which expects to assist many more Afghan families in the coming months. They couple says they feel safe here, they can finally sleep and dream about what lies ahead.

ZUBAIR: The feeling that I will start everything again, it looks like a mountain, very high mountain. Now I am looking how I can climb this mountain. I should find a way.

GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN, Buffalo, New York.


GOLODRYGA: Don't leave us behind. Very powerful message to President Biden.

Well, OUTFRONT next, a first look at a CNN special on the 16 second graders who had a front row to history on 9/11.


GOLODRYGA: Tonight, President Biden ordering the release of classified documents related to the FBI's 9/11 investigation. And this weekend, CNN revisits the defining moment 20 years after the attacks. President Bush learning of the attack while visiting a classroom.

In a special report, Victor Blackwell talks to the teachers and students about those first few minutes.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: How long was your moment?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could have been two minutes, three minutes, but I knew I had to get back to the kids. So I didn't want them to think that they had done something wrong, so I had to let them know it was not their fault.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something in the way that you presented it to us, like, allowed me to understand that, like, the human side of it, that, like, I am not the most important person right now, like, he's got something he has do. People are hurting. He has to leave and that's okay and it's not our fault.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think after that, that's when, you know, they put on the TV for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those Americans who are looking at horrific pictures.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then it came together, like I grasped how serious it was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think myself and main other students thought it was like a movie or something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It didn't look real.

BLACKWELL: The TV was here. You took them to a different room?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The monitor that President Bush had was in his office next door. The memory of it might fluctuate a little. After I came out of the room I told them what happened. The pictures and the images that they saw, they might have seen them when the door was open, but the TV network came in here. I was very careful about how much I exposed them to and what I said to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the first day I learned the word terrorist, too.



GOLODRYA: Victor Blackwell joins me now. Victor, I can't believe this hasn't been done before because that was

such an iconic moment seeing president bush there, Andy Card, chief of staff, whispers in his ear the U.S. is under attack of the. The take away for the students, what kind of impact did being so close to the president on that day have for them?

BLACKWELL: Yeah, Bianna, this is the only place you will see these students together on the 20th anniversary. They are still working through that.

What I heard from most of the students and the teacher, Mrs. Daniels, there is a degree of guilt. They use that word, guilt. Something like a survivor's guilt because it was so much bigger than their reading with the president, than they are being congratulated for lifting their grades.

As they got older, they learned about the thousands of people who lost their lives and to be connected in this way and to not have that loss that so many others had, they really, most of them, are reluctant to talk about it. Mrs. Daniels for years didn't talk about it. They describe a duty to make sure that this part of this narrative, of this story is also shared, and only they can tell that portion of the story.

GOLODRYGA: And to hear Mrs. Daniels say it was her job to protect those students and tell them it wasn't their fault, you went to the 9/11 memorial with them. Quickly, what was that tour like?

BLACKWELL: Yeah, she said it was a dream to take her babies, as she called them, there. It was closure for them to now see the memorial, to see the pools, to see the names. This was something she waited 20 years to do. She had not come to New York because she didn't want to do it without them, and to see that this all came together for them, it was a moving moment. You will see it on Sunday night.

GOLODRYGA: You just made me realize this is something I wanted to see for 20 years, too, to see their faces all grown up.

Victor Blackwell, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: And don't miss that report "Front Row to History: The 9/11 Classroom", Sunday night at 10:00 Eastern.

Well, thank you for joining us tonight.

"AC360" starts right now.