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Erin Burnett Outfront

FDA Panel Rejects Boosters for All, Supports for Some; Breaks with Target Set by Biden and Top Officials; Member: Proves Committee Recommendations are "Independent"; Defense Official Under Trump Held Call with China 2 Days Before Milley's Call, Undercutting Criticism He Was Out of Line. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 17, 2021 - 19:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, a key FDA panel rejecting President Biden's plan to start booster shots for all American adults, only approving boosters for people 65 and older and those with pre-existing conditions, why?

Plus, more breaking news, CNN learning that yet another Trump Defense Department official reached out to China on the day of the January 6th insurrection and just two days before Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley did. Who called and what was the message?

And the Denver FBI joining the search for the missing 22-year-old Florida woman who was on a cross country road trip with her fiance, he's not talking. The police chief on the case is my guest. Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight the breaking news, a major setback for President Biden late today in FDA panel voting not to approve a booster vaccine shot for all adults, only approving the shock for people 65 and older and those at high risk of severe disease. The group specifically voting against authorizing a booster shot for the majority of Americans, those who are 16 and older.

Now, make no mistake, this is a rebuke for Biden because it stands in direct contrast to what he told Americans 30 days ago when he tweeted, quote it simple, eight months after your second shot, gets your booster shot and he attached to this video.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Earlier the today, our medical experts announced the plan for booster shots to every fully vaccinated American, adult American. Eight months after your second shot, get a booster shot.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Every single adult American. Well, that is not what's

happening. And even this morning, the administration seemed confident that booster shots would be approved.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I don't want to get ahead of the FDA deliberations. The data that I've seen, I believe, strongly suggests that that will be the case.


BURNETT: And yet it didn't happen. And even as the FDA panel only approved boosters for people over 65, there is confusion and now the cat may be out of the bag, because Biden was extremely definitive about a booster for every American, every American adult to get one and you get one eight months after that second shot.

We already know as of tonight that more than 2 million Americans have already received a booster dose of a COVID vaccine and the FDA panel's recommendation, frankly, is going to leave a lot of people confused as well as the Biden administration rebuffed.

Phil Mattingly is OUTFRONT live at the White House. And Phil, this is a setback for the President. I mean, he was very clear about what his medical experts had recommended and that everybody should get this booster shot. But this situation in a sense seems self-inflicted by the White House because they said all that before the FDA had voted.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, Erin. Look, the President and his top medical advisors were always careful to caveat that their timeline that they laid out was contingent on the FDA and the CDC actually approving those booster shots. But that process, the process they made clear they were going to have to go through certainly got more complicated over the course of the last couple of weeks.

But Erin, it was expected to be in the vaccine's up for authorization for a booster. There was not enough data for that. The scope and scale of what the President laid out, his intent of those who would be eligible in the first week was certainly winnowed down today, given the fact it would only apply at least from the recommendation perspective to those above the age of 65 and those in high risk communities.

However, White House officials made clear that this was less about a timeline for boosters and more about making sure that they were prepared, that they would be able to roll out booster shots when the recommendations actually came. Now, keep in mind, this is just the first step of a process over the course of the next several days and White House officials say and have said repeatedly over the course of the last couple of days that because of the proposals that they rolled out, the plan they rolled out, they will be prepared when the CDC Advisory Committee meets next week, assuming the FDA approves the recommendations from today, they will be ready to roll out boosters for that smaller population as soon as the end of next week.

But there's no question about it and we've seen it spill out into public the battles between the administration, interagency battles as well that have spilled publicly out and really caused a lot of frustration for White House officials. This wasn't necessarily what they laid out in the beginning. It's not exactly what they wanted from the beginning, but this is where they are and right now it looks at least for some people, boosters will be available by the end of next weekend, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Phil.

So I want to go now to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our Chief Medical Correspondent and Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health.

So Sanjay, look, President Biden made it clear after your second shot, eight months later, get another one, which would mean a whole lot of Americans who are not over 65 should be getting a booster right now. That is not though what happened today, right? It's not where we are.

Look, I'm sure a lot of people in the medical community have serious questions about this, doctors and nurses themselves, because they were among the first vaccinated might be feeling, okay, well then I should be getting mine.


But again, that's not where we are. Were you surprised by what happened today?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I was really surprised because it seemed pretty preordained. You did hear this from the White House that this was happening. They even attached a date to it, September 20th. So it did seem that and obviously you just heard from Dr. Fauci, you just played that sound from him, so that really seemed like was preordained.

On the other hand, when you looked at the data, the data for where it landed, people over the age of 65 who I think are in severe risk of COVID, risk of severe COVID, that data sort of seemed to hold up. That's the data that we were seeing. For people under that age, it just wasn't clear as to why they were talking about people under that age who were otherwise healthy, it didn't seem like the data was really there.

Let me just show you real quick, Erin.


GUPTA: If you talk about what was going on in Israel, they've talked about Israeli data quite a bit. If you look at their overall vaccination, their case rates now, they're very vaccinated, 64 percent, 65 percent of the country vaccinated. They've been boosting since August. Their cases have really never been higher throughout this pandemic. So will you use breakthrough cases as the metric by which you boost

somebody? Not if you're looking at the Israeli data. Let me show you here in the United States. It's been very clear throughout people in the hospitalizations, if you're looking at those numbers, the majority of those are people who are unvaccinated. That's the line that you see at the top there.


GUPTA: A flat line at the bottom is the vaccinated people that end up in the hospital, a very small population we're talking about. And by the way, I'll just share with you this, if you look specifically at those vaccinated hospitalizations, those breakthrough infections, what you find is the majority of them are over the age of 65. So there you go, it all comes back to that, that if you're going to boost somebody, that would be the population of people to boost.

BURNETT: So Dr. Jha, what do you make, though, of how this played out? I mean, I suppose one thing that just surprised me, as you know, hearing Dr. Fauci this morning. He was pretty clear. I don't want to get ahead of the FDA deliberations. The data that I've seen, I believe, strongly suggests that this will be the case. Talking about the boosters for all adults.

And I understand, Sanjay, you're laying out the data. But Dr. Jha, it is a little bit jarring, I think, for a lot of people. I mean, that they kind of don't know what to do or what to believe.

DR. ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Yes. So Erin, thanks for having me back. Dr. Gupta is completely right about the data. The data is that data are that people over 65, people who are otherwise high risk should be getting a booster and that's where the FDA panel landed. And I think that was exactly the right call.

In terms of young, healthy people, the data is just not there yet. I suspect at some point, they will need a booster. If you think about the eight-month math that the White House has laid out, eight months after your second shot, most of those young healthy people probably got their second shot in April or May, they may not even be (inaudible) until December or January.

We'll have more data by then and we will see where things go, starting with high risk people make sense right now. I think that's really the group that requires it and I'm glad that's where the FDA landed.

BURNETT: So Sanjay, when you look through this, there's also the question I mentioned the medical community, because I know, there's a lot of doctors and nurses who - they'll trust the data and the science, but they kind of feel like they may want a booster. And then there's also the how does one define someone with an underlying condition and then there's the, well, I'm not 65, but I'm 63. I mean, this isn't just a clear cut black and white easy thing that they've given us.

GUPTA: No. And there's probably going to be a little confusion around the edges like you're talking about there. As you know, I think some 2 million people have already gotten boosters, because doctors or pharmacists are going ahead and giving them. So I don't think it's going to be really cut and dry like you're saying. We are going to hear from the CDC and they're going to make the official recommendation.

FDA authorizes and then the CDC specifically recommends to whom the vaccine should go and may get at that definition more precisely of who is considered at severe risk. Also, and Ashish may correct me if I'm wrong, but I think health care professionals were part of the EUA as well, because the concern is if you start to get a lot of health care professionals sick, even if it's mild illness at a time when hospitals already overwhelmed, that's a problem. So I think that they may be included in that first group as well.

BURNETT: So Dr. Jha, what do you think happened? Why do you think the Biden administration did what they did? I mean, when President Biden came out and said eight months after your second shot, get a booster shot. He said he was being advised by his medical experts and he was definitive. He didn't just go out on a limb because he felt like it and then you get this rebuke from the FDA.

There has been a lot of sort of fighting going on between the FDA, the CDC, the White House, how concerning is that to you?

JHA: Yes. So what's interesting about this is when President Biden came out with that. He had both Dr. Woodcock who is the Acting FDA Commissioner and Dr. Walensky who is the permanent CDC Director part of that decision making.


So it's a little puzzling why there is a bit of a disconnect. The Advisory Committee today is an independent outside Advisory Committee. It is possible that the FDA could still rule that they're going to authorize vaccines or boosters for everybody. I think that's still on the table, because they don't have to listen to their Advisory Committee.

I think the main issue here is that the data on young healthy people is still a little squishy about whether they really need a booster or not. And it's possible that the White House has read the data differently than the advisors today.

BURNETT: It's really interesting point, too. And it's crucial that you say an Advisory Committee, I mean, usually that's - so FDA has been a rubber stamp. But to your point we don't know, nothing is normal right now.

So Sanjay, at the heart of this is still this core question about where this virus came from. And I know you have a special report on the origins of COVID and it is crucial and it premieres this Sunday, eight o'clock eastern. And you talk to scientists, who know the most about this, about whether the virus originated in nature from animals or whether, no matter where it ultimately originated from, it actually came to people from a lab, leaked from the lab. What did you learn? GUPTA: Well, I learned a lot actually, Erin, about the entire process.

And I'll tell you just starting to even work on a documentary like this, it was really hard to get these scientists to talk, because so many of the people hear it from on Sunday night, you may not hear from again because this is so toxic. I mean, I knew that it was controversial, but just about every scientist we've talked to has been receiving death threats just for their work on this topic, so that just sort of stunned me.

But really getting at what was the motivation and the directions around this WHO report, what was it intended to find, how exactly they go about doing their work and where does it leave us now in terms of further investigation with the lab leak theory. Right now, there's a database that simply went missing in the fall of '19.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology has now allowed anyone to come and do a forensic examination. And even blood work of people who are sick early in the pandemic at the Institute has not been reviewed by the WHO. So it's kind of remarkable to me how much obfuscation there's been throughout this entire report.

BURNETT: Wow, that is incredible. And just even what you say there, I think shows there's going to be a lot of new things that people haven't heard and whatever sort of point of view that they may have on this issue and I hope everybody will watch it. Sanjay's special report, The Origins of COVID-19: Searching for the Source this Sunday night at eight.

And Dr. Jha, Dr. Gupta, thank you both so much as always for your perspective.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BURNETT: Next, CNN obtaining a new report that reveals some Capitol Police had concerns about their colleagues on the day of the deadly insurrection, so we've got the details of that for you after this.

Plus, two breaking stories tonight with major implications for Biden's foreign policy. The United States military admitting that it accidentally killed 10 civilians in Kabul including children. And France were calling its ambassador to the United States, believed to be the first in modern times.

And more breaking news, we are learning of another call from Trump's administration to China. This time on the day of the deadly insurrection, two days before General Mark Milley's second call to Beijing. Who was the caller and what was the message?



BURNETT: Tonight, taking no chances. Capitol Police tell CNN tonight they are ready for tomorrow's ring-wing rally at the U.S. Capitol. The rally is in support of the January 6th insurrectionists. And this comes as we're learning some really strange and troubling frankly, new details about concerns that some Capitol Police officers had about their own colleagues on January 6th.

According to new documents that we just have here, one Lieutenant actually claims that a high-ranking officer who was a vocal Trump supporter told his squad not to wear riot gear on the 6th and that same supervising officer was also accused of hanging back and leaning against a wall as the mob charged the Capitol.

OUTFRONT now Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. Secretary Chertoff, I appreciate your time. So that's pretty disturbing that one revelation and I know there are others, but that one that we had about the supervising officer. A senior law enforcement official directly involved in the planning for tomorrow's rally says this time 'we're ready'. Do you think that on the law enforcement side at least the lessons of January 6th were learned?

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, FMR. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY UNDER PRES. BUSH: I think the lessons have been learned. There's been warning. There's been coordination among our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The National Guard will have a presence and will be standing by. There is new leadership at the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police and D.C. are also on alert.

So I think there's much more manpower available and, of course, they've got barriers up which is very important in terms of preventing people from improperly entering the Capitol.

BURNETT: So on the political side, no lessons learned Trump still stoking flames defending the rioters. His latest statement came just last night, Secretary, in case you didn't see it. He said, "Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election."

So that's just yesterday, after months of saying things like this about the January 6th crowd.



That was a loving crowd.

People are being treated unbelievably unfairly.


BURNETT: Secretary, how dangerous is he and his words?

CHERTOFF: Well, I think people are rightly concerned that this encourages people to come, again, in a ridiculous effort to kind of overturn the election. Let's remember, police officers died and were seriously injured. For politicians who claim to be supporters of the police, overlooking police being killed or otherwise being seriously injured is a real deep contradiction. So I think this is not a good message. I do think though that there's

now word getting out that perhaps some of the right-wing groups will stay away because they're afraid they may wind up actually getting trapped.

BURNETT: So as I mentioned, you, of course, worked on Under President George W. Bush.


And in an email to supporters today, former President Trump's PAC wrote, "Former President Bush alludes that Trump supporters are bigger terrorists than those from foreign countries that hate America."

Now, of course, that isn't actually what President Bush said, Secretary. Here's what he did say last week on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, I was proud to lead an amazing, resilient united people. When it comes to the unity of America, those days seem distant from our own. Malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument and every argument into a clash of cultures.

So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment. That leads us worried about our nation and our future together.


BURNETT: What do you say to Trump trying to raise money off of taking President Bush down?

CHERTOFF: I will tell you that I think the President Bush's statement was essentially a perfect statement and a perfect encapsulation of what it means to be a patriot and to put the country first. And someone who tries to make money off of disunity and dissension is taking exactly the opposite of a patriotic position, they're being disloyal to the country and to the Constitution.

BURNETT: Secretary Chertoff, I appreciate your time. Thank you for joining me.

CHERTOFF: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, the Pentagon today admitting it made a deadly and tragic mistake by targeting the wrong vehicle. They killed 10 civilians, not terrorists in a targeted drone strike when they said they were stopping an imminent attack was nothing of the sort.

Plus, a staggering emergency at the southern border, now more than 12,500 migrants packed under a bridge in triple digits. That's 3,000 more than the number we reported last night. The mayor of the town calling the crisis a 'nuclear bomb alarm'. We'll take you there.


ROSA: We can see at least three different spots where migrants are crossing over into the United States.




BURNETT: Breaking news, we're following two major developments on foreign policy tonight that have major implications for the Biden administration. In Afghanistan, the United States tonight formally admitting to killing 10 civilians including seven children, after targeting the wrong vehicle in a Kabul drone strike. They're saying it's 'a tragic mistake'. And in what is likely the first time in modern history, France is recalling its ambassador to the United States in protest of a National Security deal that it is calling a betrayal.

Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT. And Alex, I want to start with Afghanistan. This was after the attack that killed American Marines and a soldier and it seems as if the military was terrified that something else could happen and made this horrible mistake.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They did. It was a tragic mistake, but it was simple. They got the intelligence wrong and now there are 10 civilians from a single family who are dead, who had nothing to do with ISIS.

The intelligence we learned today indicated that there was a car, a white Toyota Corolla that they believed ISIS would use in the next attack, which they said was imminent. So they were tracking a white Toyota Corolla through the streets of Kabul over the course of eight hours going from an area that was associated with ISIS to the office of a U.S.-based NGO where they believed they saw men loading it up with explosives.

We now believe that that was water. This car was then driven to a compound near the airport where as you mentioned, Erin, there had just been an attack that left 13 American servicemembers dead and that is when a drone, a U.S. drone fired its hellfire missile at 4:53 pm local time tearing into the car of Zemerai Ahmadi, a 43-year-old father, killing him and nine others.

You'll remember, Erin, a couple days after the strike, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley called this a righteous strike. And today I asked the head of CENTCOM how they went from righteous strike to now what we know in this tragedy, take a listen.


GEN. KENNETH MCKENZIE, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: I think we issued a statement from U.S. Central Command about six hours after the strike, acknowledging the possibility civilian casualties, so we knew from the very beginning, there's a possibility of civilian casualties. I think we still thought we had good reasons to have taken that strike and it took us gathering the facts to change that.


MARQUARDT: McKenzie also rejected the description of a reporter that this was a complete and utter failure. He said, "I would not qualify the entire operation in those terms." Erin?

BURNETT: All right. And now to France, I mean, it's a pretty stunning story, that recall of an ambassador from France to the United States. They're supposed to have their big party tonight, celebrating France's support of America in the Revolutionary War, called off, they're calling it a betrayal. This is pretty shocking.

MARQUARDT: They feel spurned. There are no two ways about it. And as far as we know, this is the first time in modern history that the French have recalled their ambassador from Washington, our first and oldest ally and really is for two reasons. The first is economic.

As a result of this new deal between the U.S., Britain and the U.K., sorry, U.S., U.K. and Australia, they are losing out around $65 billion in a submarine deal that the French had with the Australians. The Australians are now going to be getting nuclear technology from the Americans.

The second reason is that they feel completely blindsided. They didn't know about this until the very last moment and so they are hurt, they are feeling spurned and this is remarkable coming at this moment when the Biden administration wants to rebuild these relationships with its closest friends.

We just heard from the White House, they said that they regret the decision for the Ambassador to be recalled to Paris. They said we understand their position and will continue to be engaged in the coming days to resolve our differences, Erin.

BURNETT: It's pretty incredible though, spending months negotiating a deal to cut them out of it and they had down to the minute, it is at best humiliating.


Thank you very much, Alex.

And more breaking news -- military official on the Trump administration reaching out to China days before the Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, which undercuts the criticism that his call, the one on January 6th was done in secret. We're learning the former deputy assistant called China his counterpart on January 6th, of course, the day of the deadly insurrection to assure Beijing that the presidential transition would be stable, not to worry.

Two days before Chairman Milley's second call to his counterpart, that was reported of course by "The Washington Post", Bob Woodward and Robert Costa where he, again, reassured China.

Now, the January 6th call would have been placed under Trump's acting defense chief, Christopher Miller, who has publicly criticized Milley for his calls to China, said he wouldn't have approved it but we're finding out there were multiple people under Miller making these calls.

Katie Bo Lillis is OUTFRONT. And Katie Bo has breaking news of this.

So, Katie, what else do you know about this call?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, so there is two calls under scrutiny here, right? There's this October call from Milley he says don't worry, the United States is not about to attack China. And the second call that takes place in January, two days after the attack on the Capitol, in which he sort of seeks to reassure the Chinese don't worry, American democracy is stable, the United States is stable and everything is good.

Now, some critics have characterized these calls as having been done in secret. We now know certainly for the first call that was not true. That call was done in coordination with then Defense Secretary Mark Esper, that wasn't the case with the second call, the January call, either. What we are now able to report is that an official in Chris miller's office in the acting secretary of defense's office made his own call on the 6th of January that actually was prescheduled. It was the kind of routine call that the Pentagon expects to do in advance of any transition touching base saying don't worry, everything is going to continue to be sort of consistent even as we go through this transition period.

Now, I also spoke to Chris Miller today and he told me that in fact, he's not concerned about the January call. He said that look, that Milley is perfectly within his authority to do that. What we've seen is what began as a story of allegations of insubordination has become a story of bureaucratic protocol.

BURNETT: All right. Pretty incredible. All right. Katie Bo, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

And I want to go now on the back of Alex and Katie Bo's reporting to Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and famed historian, who has written extensively, of course, about U.S. presidents and the American military. He's also the host of the new "It Was Said" sports podcast.

Now, Chairman Milley has broken his silence about these calls to China. Of course, as you know, Jon, "The Wall Street Journal" has come out and said that Milley said the calls that he made were perfectly within the duties and responsibilities of his job. As you look at this through history, right, we talk about calls of insubordination and treason and things that are being thrown out there and then others like John Bolton coming strenuously to Milley's defense, is there any comparison you can think of where joint chiefs chairman field so compelled to act to prevent a possible war? JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, the clearest example is in

the latter part of Watergate in 1974. The secretary of defense, so not a uniformed officer but James Schlesinger, put out word any military order from the White House, any nuclear order questionably be cleared with him. He was worried about an unhinged Nixon in the White House trying to do something to preserve his power.

I think the more we learn about this particular episode, I think the country should be somewhat reassured if I may because why shouldn't we be talking to potential adversaries about states of readiness. One of the things that we know unquestionably from history is that wars tend to begin by mistake. It happens again and again and again. The Spanish American war and the main was sunk, it blew up. The Gulf of Tonkin was not it was said to be.

President Kennedy wonderfully said in the midst of the Cuba missile crisis, what he worried about is there is some poor son of a bitch who doesn't get the word, you know, down the line as orders go. And so I look at this sort of through that prism that in a complicated world, having someone like General Milley in touch with people that might be our rivals, not as though we're in a strategically precarious place with China. You know, this is not like the Cold War, right? This is not like your tipping soviets to something you're doing.


And so, I -- I take it as the institutions of government actually working. I know the other side that some folks say oh, that's the terrible deep state but as your reporting is showing, it seems to be a lot more complicated.

BURNETT: It certainly does. And I also want to ask this news about France, recalling the ambassador from the United States for the first time in modern history in anger. They're using the words betrayal that now the United States, the U.K. and Australia are going to do this submarine deal and share technology and cut France out. Sure, they're losing a lot of money, but it's a humiliation and it's a big change.

I mean, Jon, there is three months ago, President Biden and the French President Emmanuel Macron are arm and arm. Look at this, you can see this from every angle. There they are arm and arm. Macron at the time saying, quote, America is back.

How big of a problem is this for President Biden do you think?

MEACHAM: Well, let me say about America is back, America is back and this is an example of that and France is worried at some level that they will be, as you put it, dealt out of the arrangement. This is a very important -- let's not let a French diplomatic distract us from -- this is a generationally important strategic announcement about our balance of power and our possibility of creating a global order against this massive country that's going to be our rival. We hope it will be a partner at some level for a century or more, China. So it's a very big decision.

I remember in 2003 in the run-up to the Iraq War and France was causing trouble, I was actually interviewing George H.W. Bush on the phone and I said to him, it was a Friday evening I remember and I said, why is France being so difficult, and Bush said because they're France. You know, this is -- this is a national characteristic about pride. I don't mean to minimize it but I do think that what it tells us is that everybody understands the strategic future does lie in the Pacific and that's what links the two stories you're talking about.

BURNETT: Certainly. It certainly does and does line behind the Pacific where you see the U.S. and China, of course, at loggerheads increasingly.

Thank you so much, Jon. I appreciate your time.

And next, the mayor of Del Rio, Texas, warning the situation in his border town is a nuclear bomb alarm. There are more than 12,500 migrants and counting under that bridge and the situation is getting worse.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So all these people just crossed?

PILOT: Yeah.

FLORES: This is hundreds of people?

PILOT: Oh, it's not hundreds. It's thousands.


BURNETT: Plus, breaking news, police at the Florida home of Brian Laundrie, the fiance of the 22-year-old woman who vanished while on a cross country trip. We're going to talk to the chief of police investigating the case.



BURNETT: Tonight, the mayor of Del Rio, Texas, declaring a local emergency, as 12,500 migrants, a number that is growing, are now living under a bridge, waiting to be processed. That's one third of the entire population of the city.

The mayor calling the border crisis a, quote, nuclear bomb alarm.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT.


PILOT: Sky condition clear.

PILOT: Keep this helicopter (INAUDIBLE)

FLORES: So all these people just crossed?

PILOT: Yeah.

FLORES: This is hundreds of people?

PILOT: Oh, it's not hundreds. It's thousands.

FLORES (voice-over): This stretch of the U.S. southern border is raising eyebrows.

Have you ever seen anything like this?

PILOT: Nothing. This far exceeds anything we've ever seen down here.

FLORES: Migrants, mostly Haitians say officials crossing the Rio Grande into Del Rio, Texas, from Mexico.

We can see at least three different spots where migrants are crossing over into the United States.

Men, women, children flocking to the area under the international bridge that connects Texas to Mexico where more than 12,000 migrants are waiting to get processed by federal immigration authorities according to the Del Rio mayor.

This couple from Venezuela says they spent two days under the bridge with their 4-year-old son sleeping in the dirt.

On the dirt, you were sleeping on the dirt?

They say they're fleeing political persecution and breakdown crying describing the toughest part of being under the bridge.

She's explaining she would tell her son that the family was camping so that he didn't worry.

MAYOR BRUNO LOZANO (D), DEL RIO, TEXAS: This is setting the nuclear bomb alarm that this is no longer sustainable, acceptable.

FLORES: The local mayor, a Democrat, pleading for the Biden administration to boost resources saying that at the current rate, it will take two weeks to process these migrants.

And signs they're having to settle in are visible from the air. A makeshift camp is going up and the mayor says at least one woman has given birth.

Most of the migrants will be expelled or placed in removal proceedings say federal authorities who also say more resources are coming and that it's already providing water, towels and portable toilets.

Buses like this one with dozens of people are dropped off at this migrant shelter every day. This group is asked if they're vaccinated against COVID. About half the adults raise their hands.

Some holding proof they got the shots. All this as the department of homeland security faces a series of challenges, including more than 200,000 migrant encounters last month, the abrupt resignation of two top DHS officials, the Afghan resettlement effort, and now, this sudden spike of migrants in Del Rio.

SHERIFF JOE FRANK MARTINEZ, VAL VERDE COUNTY, TEXAS: These people are desperate. They're determined. And they're determined to get here.

FLORES: Has a humanitarian crisis understand folding at the southern border of the southern United States.



FLORES (on camera): We have breaking news here out of Del Rio, Customs and Border Protection just tweeting moments ago that there will be a temporary closure of the international bridge here in Del Rio and the traffic will be rerouted to Eagle Pass, which is about one hour south of where I'm standing. Now, according to the CBP tweet, they say this is due to the urgent safety and security needs presented by the influx of migrants in Del Rio -- Erin.

BURNETT: Wow, it's unbelievable.

Rosa, thank you very much. Rosa has been there and up looking in the air and showing it to you over the past days. Thank you so much.

And next, breaking news, police right now at the home of Brian Laundrie. He is the fiance of Gabby Petito, who has not been seen since the two set out on a cross country trip.

And tonight, why Google and Apple are caving to Vladimir Putin.


BURNETT: Breaking news: you are looking at live pictures out of Florida, where several members of law enforcement and a crowd of protesters are at the home of Brian Laundrie. That is the fiance of missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito, who disappeared on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie. The police department saying, quote, North Port police are currently speaking with the Laundrie family at their request. At this time, they are not speaking with Brian.

Athena Jones is OUTFRONT.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a search for Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito, missing for weeks, continues in Wyoming --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I need from everyone here is help.

JONES: And, Petito's family pleads with her fiance, Brian Laundrie, to tell them where he last saw Gabby, Laundrie's sister, telling ABC --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me and my family want Gabby to be found safe. She's like a sister, and my children love her. All I want is for her to come home safe, and found and it's a big misunderstanding.

JONES: Gabby Petito's father wants more from her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's a mother.


And she's got kids. So, I'm hoping that the pleas, and the begging, and the community, and the entire damn planet, knock some sense into her.

JONES: Petito, and laundry, had been traveling cross country for months in her white, 2012 Ford transit fans.

GABBY PETITO: It's 10:00 in the morning, but it rained all afternoon, yesterday.

JONES: They documented their journey on social media, including YouTube.

PETITO: All of the chocolate melted!

BRIAN LAUNDRIE, FIANCE: It's melted. I know, it's a river of chocolate. Be cautious.

PETITO: You can't keep chocolate in Utah. Not in July.

JONES: Petito's family last heard from her in late August. They believe she was last in the Grand Teton/Yellowstone area of Wyoming. According to a lawyer for the family, Petito spoke with her mother, August 24th, on FaceTime, saying, she was leaving Utah, and heading to the Tetons.

CNN affiliate KSTU reported Petito was last seen checking out of the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 24th. The family's lawyer says Petito and her mom exchanged multiple texts on August 25th, and August 27th. The last text from Gabby, was on August 30th. But her family doubts she wrote. It read: no service in Yosemite. The family hasn't said why they are convinced Gabby didn't send it, or who they believed did.

Local police found Petito's van and her fiance Brian at the home they shared with his family, in North Port, Florida. He returned there, alone, September 1st, without reporting her missing.

Laundrie officials say is not cooperating with the police. Petito's family reported her missing on September 11th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have never spoken a word with Brian.

JONES: Weeks earlier, on August 12th, police in Moab City, Utah, were called to a possible disorderly conduct, captured in this body camera video.

REPORTER: What's going on?

PETITO: We've been fighting all morning, some personal issues, and he wouldn't let me in the car before.

JONES: Petito described in the police report is confused, and emotional, and manic.

POLICE OFFICER: Don't touch each other tonight.

JONES: At the officer suggestion, the two separated for the night. One of the officers, concluding that the situation was the result of a mental health crisis. No charges were filed.

North Port Police, saying they don't know what, if anything, the incident had to do with Petito's disappearance.

A lawyer for the Landrie family saying earlier this week they would not be commenting. Petito stepfather, who is in Wyoming to help look for her, begging Brian Laundrie, to help.

JAMES SCHMIDT, STEPFATHER OF MISSIONG WOMAN: This is the love of your life. If that is true, and do the right thing. You need to do it now. Stop waiting.


JONES (on camera): At this point, multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating Gabby Petito's disappearance, including several FBI field offices. The FBI Denver office, joining the case late Thursday. Meanwhile, North Port, Florida Police are asking anyone who interacted with, or saw, Brian, or Gabby, or their van, to get in touch. And one more thing, Erin, police in North Port are still at the Laundrie home, right now -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much, Athena.

So, I want to go to police chief, Todd Garrison of North Port, Florida, where Gabby Petito live with her fiance.

So, Chief garrison, I understand you have officers at Brian Landrie's home right now. What is happening?

CHIEF TODD GARRISON, NORTH PORT, FLORIDA POLICE: We received a phone call from the family's attorney, and they requested that we come out there, and the parents wanted to talk to us. Right now, I don't know what that conversation entails. Our team is still out there, talking to the parents.

I can tell you, Brian is not there, and the context of the conversation, I'm not aware of right now.

BURNETT: OK. So, I understand, you're telling me as much as you can. I know there were protesters outside of the family homes. It doesn't sound like you're understanding is they called to complain about that. They called because they have something to say to their officers, whatever that might be.

GARRISON: That's correct. The protesters preplanned, and we need information that is going to be a peaceful protest out there, and that is a coincidence for at the same time there.

BURNETT: So, when you said Brian was not there, is he just not talking to your officers? In other words just his parents? Or is he actually physically not in the home? And if so, do you know why?

GARRISON: He's physically not in the home as far as I am aware, right now. We are, strictly, talking to the parents.

BURNETT: So, is the first time they reached out to try and speak to you?

GARRISON: That is correct, yes.

BURNETT: Okay, obviously, it could be very significant. I understand, you're not yet sure, and you are talking, as you and I are talking.

Let me ask you one other thing if I could, Chief.


Laundrie sister did speak out this morning in an interview. Just listen to a clip of what she said.


CASSIE LAUNDRIE, SISTER OF BRIAN LAUNDRIE: I haven't been able to talk to him. I wish I could talk to him.

I've cooperated every way that I can, and I wish I had more information, or I would give more.


BURNETT: So, obviously, you know all of this chief, better than everyone. There are 10 days between the time Brian Laundrie returned home, and when Gabby Petito was reported missing, by her own family. He never reported her missing.

Do you think his family knows more than they offered thus far?

GARRISON: Well, you know, Gabby lived in a house to, here in north port. Brian returned, and you think people would be asking, where is Gabby at? So, there had to be some type of conversation, and dialogue, with the parents, in the other family members. So, you know, I'm a reasonable person, but I wouldn't believe, yes, they do know something.

BURNETT: It would certainly seem so. Something that -- anything they know, is something, at this point.

Chief, just one other question here. Do you know why Brian isn't in the home? Or where he is?

GARRISON: Right, now currently, I don't know where he is right now. He could be anywhere. I don't know. BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time and your being

willing to talk to me. I know, obviously, you're in the middle of a crucial conversation with your officers and that family. So, I look forward to talking with you about that, and hopefully, and we'll know -- we'll know very soon. God, let's just hope for so couldn't be decent news here.

Thank you so much, Chief.

GARRISON: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, why are Apple and Google paving to Putin?


BURNETT: Tonight, Google, and Apple caving to Putin. Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny's team is now accusing Apple and Google of removing the top Kremlin critic's app from their online stores in Russia just as polls open for elections in Russia. Putin spokesperson told reporters that the app was illegal, and Navalny's press secretary called the decision to remove it, which it was meant to rally voters, but they called the decision a huge disappointment and act of political censorship. Which can't be justified, says the spokesman.

Putin's government have been cracking down on websites linked to Navalny. According to "The New York Times", the Kremlin threatened to prosecute local Apple and Google employees if the app wasn't removed. So far, Apple, and Google have not responded to CNN's request for a response, but, of course, they have gone ahead and done what Putin wanted.

Thanks for joining us. Don't forget you can watch out front anywhere on CNN Go. Anderson starts now.