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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Taliban Forces Advance On Key Provinces In Afghanistan; Simone Biles Takes Bronze In Olympic Balance Beam Competition; FBI Used Provocative Photos Of Female Staff To Catch Predators. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 03, 2021 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Officers Hunter Hashida and Kyle DeFreytag both died within the last month.


CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER WASHINGTON, D.C. POLICE CHIEF: It's the psychological wounds that we need to pay more attention to and have regular mental health check-ups for these officers.


JARRETT: Their deaths bring the total number of Capitol riot officers who have died by suicide to four.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: The Biden administration is extending a Trump-era public health rule that allows a swift expulsion of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. More than 940,000 migrants have been expelled under the policy, so far.

JARRETT: A pair of special election primaries in Ohio today. In Cleveland, a Bernie Sanders-backed progressive faces off against a more establishment candidate. And in Columbus, former President Trump's endorsement power will be put to the test after it fell flat in Texas last week, as his candidate faced a crowded field of competitors.

WALKER: Another bank is ditching those controversial overdraft fees. Alliant, a digital-only lender, is the largest credit union to scrap the fees that critics say unfairly punish the most vulnerable consumers. Overdraft fees are a major source of revenue for many banks.

JARRETT: Time for a do-over. Results of a failed vote to unionize at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama should be thrown out. That's according to an official with the National Labor Relations Board. There are allegations Amazon may have illegally interfered with the vote.

WALKER: Volunteers patrolling a state park beach in South Carolina did a double-take after an unusual find -- oh, a two-headed baby sea turtle. Officials say the two-headed loggerhead sea turtle is the result of a genetic mutation. The special hatchling was released back into the ocean.

JARRETT: I wouldn't even know what that was.

WALKER: Neither would I.

JARRETT: The latest proof that vaccines work coming from the Halls of Congress. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, has tested positive for COVID. He is vaccinated and he does have flu-like symptoms. He says it feels like a sinus infection. But he's thankful that he's been vaccinated because, quote, "Without vaccination, I am certain I would not feel as well as I do now."

WALKER: Now, Graham was in the Senate with a mask on before his positive result came back.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin entertained a small group of senators on his boat over the weekend and Graham was in attendance.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We were outside, OK, and we were all -- and everybody's been vaccinated so, you know, we're safe. And then, you know, I talked to Lindsey today. He's fine -- he feels good.


WALKER: Democratic senators have been informed that their weekly caucus lunch will be virtual. There is no word yet on the GOP lunch.

Senators on the Republican leadership team met privately with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and all but one emerged maskless.

JARRETT: Meanwhile, a very real concern at hospitals across Louisiana now. The state health officer expects COVID hospitalizations to reach their highest level of the entire pandemic today. And the biggest hospital in the state is out of beds.

Nurses there and in other low-vaccination states have a message regarding vaccines and the road ahead.


FELICIA CROFT, ICU NURSE IN LOUISIANA: We have become a very selfish generation and a very selfish just group of people sometimes when I hear what others say. So this pandemic and masks, and vaccines -- this is not about you and this is not about what always makes you feel good. And it's about your -- you know, the cashier at your local gas station, and it's about your local -- your local baker, and your neighbor, and your cousin's friends, and people that maybe aren't important to you but they're important to someone else.

KATHRYN IVEY SHERMAN, ICU NURSE IN TENNESSEE: It's worse because the patients are younger, partially. They're a lot younger this time. It's worse because it got better. For like a brief shining moment there was a light at the end of the tunnel and it was getting better. And the nurses like me, who became nurses during all of this, were

starting to see what it was like to be a nurse in normal times. And then the numbers started picking back up and the units opened back up, and the respirators came back out. And it's like thinking you walked out of a war and being told you have to go back in. It just wears you down.


JARRETT: The nurses are the heroes in this battle.

And after requiring federal employees to get vaccinated, the White House COVID adviser sees a growing trend to require vaccines.


JEFFREY ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We're seeing it in the private sector. More and more companies are coming up with systems that are modeled after our system or similar to our system, or requiring vaccinations across the board. You're seeing it at universities. You're seeing it at health systems.

So I think that this requiring of individuals to be vaccinated in order to come back to work or to go back to school is a growing trend.



WALKER: And where the vaccine isn't required, more masking is.

Syracuse University, Ohio State University, and the University of Tennessee now requiring masks indoors on campus.

In retail, Target and Kohl's are set to enforce masks for stores -- store workers in high-risk areas. At Home Depot, all associates, contractors, and vendors need to wear a mask.

JARRETT: McDonald's is requiring a mask for employees and customers in high-risk areas.

All told, more than 90 percent of Americans are now living in counties affected by the latest CDC mask guidance.

WALKER: England is launching a new clinical trial today. It's identified the best timing for pregnant women to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Data from the British government show that no fully vaccinated pregnant women have been hospitalized with COVID. The trial will be run across 13 hospitals in England. Initial results are expected by the end of this year.

JARRETT: A top Republican official in Florida is spreading anti- vaccine rhetoric and misinformation. A review by CNN's KFILE found that RNC committee member Peter Feaman compared the Biden administration's vaccine efforts to Nazi brown shirts on his blog and twice called COVID vaccines, quote, "the mark of the beast." CNN has reached out to Feaman and the RNC for comment but neither has

responded. Feaman is one of three officials representing Florida in the governing body of the RNC.

WALKER: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo questioned for 11 hours last month about the sexual harassment allegations he's facing. "The New York Times" reports the interview with the state attorney general's office took place in Cuomo's Manhattan office on July 17th. The "Times" reports the questioning led to a number of tense moments with the governor challenging the fairness and independence of one of the lead investigators. The interview with Cuomo is seen by some as a signal that the investigation could be nearing its final stages.

JARRETT: Five Miami Beach police officers are facing criminal charges, accused of excessive force in their arrest of two men at a hotel last week. A warning that you may find this video disturbing.

Prosecutors say it all started when Daltona Crudup hit an officer with his scooter and then he fled into the hotel. Surveillance and bodycam video shows officers kicking him repeatedly, slamming his head onto the floor. You can see all of them there.

Khalid Vaughn was recording Crudup's arrest on his phone when officers tackled him and punched him in the ribs.

All five officers are charged with first-degree misdemeanor battery.

WALKER: It's not going well. That is the grim assessment from a U.S. defense official about efforts by Afghan security forces to fight back against the Taliban in the weeks since U.S. troops pulled out.

Nic Robertson is in London. He is tracking the latest developments. And the Taliban advance, Nic -- it doesn't come as a big surprise but it obviously is very concerning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The speed of it I think has caught the Afghan forces by surprise, and that's what we're seeing. The Taliban, as we know, have taken a lot of the sort of country districts around the whole of Afghanistan now.

What they haven't done until now is be able to take control of any of the provincial capitals and right now, they're attacking three of them. Herat in the west-northwest, Lashkar Gah in the south, Kandahar not far away in the south. Lashkar Gah seems to be the city where the Taliban are making the biggest gains at the moment and have taken a number of the sort of different police districts that make up that city.

They've also taken control or had control yesterday of a television channel station -- a state-run T.V. channel in the middle of Lashkar Gah.

How the fight is going on the ground today is hard to see. What we do know from the U.N. and humanitarian groups is that civilians are hiding in their houses afraid of the fighting. There are increasing numbers of civilian casualties and deaths among civilians in Lashkar Gah and in Kandahar as well.

From the DOD, as you said, things not going well. That's the picture they paint. An increasing number of Taliban attacks and that's certainly what we're seeing in those provincial capitals.

The U.S. stepping up its drone and fast-jet airstrikes to support the Afghan forces on the ground but also positioning in Afghanistan additional helicopter-based recovery units to help recover any U.S. pilots that may be forced down inside Afghanistan.

But the picture at the moment is of intensification of fighting in three provincial capitals and civilian casualties going up. These battles could go on for days, they might go on for weeks, they might go on for longer. And that's an indication I think of what's to come in Afghanistan at the moment.

WALKER: Yes, very concerning -- this rapid advancement by the Taliban.

Nic Robertson, thank you so much.


JARRETT: All right, we'll be right back.


JARRETT: Welcome back.

In Arkansas, 168 students and three teachers are in quarantine after their first week of school. And with the Delta variant spreading across the country, health experts say we can expect to see more COVID outbreaks in schools this fall.

CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard has more.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER (on camera): Schools I've talked to take different approaches. Some schools are still working with local health departments to develop an outbreak plan and they realize that they are working down to the wire. But with the Delta variant circulating, they are not taking this task lightly.

So, Denver Public Schools is one that is still developing and protocols with their local health officials. Metro Nashville Public Schools -- they say that if someone tests positive, their school nurses will conduct contact tracing and make sure people who have been exposed quarantine.


But there are some elements that all of these different school plans and some others have in common, and if you're a parent you want to make sure your kid's school does this. Now, most outbreak plans should involve isolating people who have COVID, tracking down their contacts who may have been exposed, testing those contacts, and then those contacts should quarantine until their test results confirm whether they have COVID-19 or not.

And along with developing these outbreak plans, some school officials -- they're considering vaccine mandates for their staff, and that's to reduce the risk of a potential outbreak.

Peter McKnight -- he's the head of Drew Charter School in Atlanta, and he says this should be part of more discussions.

PETER MCKNIGHT, HEAD OF SCHOOL, CHARLES R. DREW CHARTER SCHOOL: To my knowledge, we have not had public schools or public school systems who have mandated a vaccine yet. It's certainly something that needs to be on the table as we consider how to keep folks safe.

HOWARD: And at his school, they just started classes last week and already have seen an outbreak of initially nine students and five staff testing positive -- Laura, Amara.


WALKER: All right. Thank you so much, Jacqueline Howard.

Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois signing new legislation that expands background checks on all gun sales in the state, starting in 2024. The measure also invests in community-based mental health programs and establishes a stolen firearms database.

Police in Chicago say they have seen a 63 percent uptick in shootings compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.


DAVID BROWN, SUPERINTENDENT, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Too many violent repeat offenders are being released back into these communities creating a sense of lawlessness and no consequences for their behavior, making for a dangerous environment.


JARRETT: It was another weekend of deadly gun violence in America. Police are searching for four people in connection with a mass shooting in Queens, New York that left 10 people injured. Nine people were shot early Sunday morning at a club in Columbia, South Carolina. And last week, a California mother died after being shot in front of her 6-year-old daughter as she sat in her car. Police are calling it a possible case of mistaken identity.

WALKER: Police in Alaska have been waiting months for death certificates after a cyberattack shut down the state's online system. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services says its vital records system was taken offline in May to prevent further disruption. Well, now, those records are being processed by hand. The department says it's doing everything it can to resume normal services but it does not have a timeframe. JARRETT: All right, big, breaking news. Simone Biles taking bronze in

the Olympic balance beam competition. She's finishing behind two Chinese gymnasts with a strong performance, landing all of her combinations.

Joining us now from Tokyo, CNN's sports analyst Christine Brennan. She's also a "USA Today" sports columnist. Christine, good to see you.

So much anticipation for her comeback. It's been quite a week. How did she look today?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: You know what? She did a great job. It was -- it was a bronze medal performance. It was not gold, it was not silver, but that really doesn't matter.

She got up on that beam. It's been exactly a week since she had to leave during the team competition. We all saw that happen. We've gone -- we've basically lived with her and all of the stops and starts all the way through the week as she's talked about the mental health issues and everything that she's been dealing with.

And she came back for this one final moment -- this incredible punctuation mark -- this exclamation point on her Olympic Games, and she was terrific. She got on the beam. She had one little stop -- otherwise, perfect. She was terrific. And that really is all that matters.

The fact that there was a bronze medal at the end -- she finished second -- or third behind two Chinese gymnasts. Obviously, that's the sports story. But the human story here is about Simone Biles achieving so much more than even we thought she was going to do, coming back one last time on the balance beam and doing a terrific job.

WALKER: You're so right. That comeback is just so impressive, especially after struggling with the terrifying twisties.

And, Christine, if you will -- you know, because we got a small glimpse from the videos that Simone Biles posted of her struggles last week. But talk to us about overcoming these mental health concerns. And also -- I mean, the twisties. I mean, that's terrifying. I saw someone --


WALKER: -- described it as jumping into a pool without water.


WALKER: That's how it feels.

BRENNAN: Well, it -- oh, exactly. And you basically -- you get lost in the air.

And for Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast who's ever lived -- someone who's 24 years old who has been doing this for a long time -- for her to say she was losing her position in the air -- she did not know where she was -- not only is that just stunning and, of course, totally believable and we immediately empathize with someone like that.


But also, the danger there. And we're not talking about a baseball player or football player, a runner, a swimmer having a little trouble with something. I mean, if that happened, that wouldn't be good but they wouldn't be in danger of injuring themselves severely, one would think.

In this case, because of the high-wire act of Simone Biles' life -- and that's really what this is -- I mean, she is so good and so strong at things that are so incredibly difficult to do. Because of that, the danger was so great and I think that's, of course, why she had to make that very smart decision to withdraw and to continue to withdraw from events until she didn't withdraw.

She came back and she -- with the balance beam. But even then -- for those who saw it and for those who will see it -- she's jumping, she's leaping, she's twisting, she's turning, and she did it. So she conquered those twisties. She conquered that fear and was able to come through like the champion that she is.

JARRETT: Christine, where does Simone Biles go from here? She's talked or hinted at retirement before. Do you see her competing in 2024?

BRENNAN: That's a tough one. She's 24 years old --


BRENNAN: -- so she'd be 27. It's only three years. We've heard, like, the swimmers -- Katie Ledecky -- say I'm going to keep going, right? I'm going to go until 2024. It's a different ballgame with the gymnasts.

And even if you see the Chinese bodies -- the women who finished -- got the gold and the silver, it's just a different body. It's a younger, little, tiny body. And Simone is so strong and so muscular that's obviously -- you know, it's a different game. It's a different kind of athlete.

It's going to be hard for her to come back. I'm never going to say never.


BRENNAN: I'm not going to count her out -- obviously, what we saw today. But I think it will be difficult.

But she's going to be around. The Simone Biles tour -- she will be doing, and I'm sure many things in the media. We have not seen the last of this woman by any means, and thank goodness for that.

JARRETT: Yes, thank goodness for that. Simone Biles taking bronze in the beam.

Christine Brennan, thank you so much for popping up quickly for us -- appreciate it. All right.

BRENNAN: You bet. Thank you.

JARRETT: Now to this story. FBI agents posting provocative photos of young female co-workers online -- get this -- to lure sex traffickers in sting operations. It's a tactic that was not authorized, according to the Justice Department's internal watchdog.

We get more on this now from CNN law enforcement correspondent Whitney Wild.


WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Laura, Amara, the Justice Department's inspector general said some FBI agents, quote, "sometimes used photographs of young female support staff employees to pose as minor children or sex workers to entice sexual predators on various social media websites."

The women were clothed in the photos and their faces were blurred, and there's no indication that the women didn't know how the photos would be used. But the watchdog says the photos could still be circulating and the women are now at risk of becoming victims of crimes.

Internal investigators said they uncovered this practice while looking into an FBI agent who allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with a female co-worker. He asked her to send, quote, "provocative pictures" to use in the online sex trafficking sting even though she was an office staffer.

The FBI apparently doesn't have a policy about using photos of non- undercover employees in situations like this, according to the report. There's no requirement on the books that employees in this situation need to be notified if their photos were used, which websites they were posted on, or for how long.

The watchdog report recommended that the FBI establish a policy to get consent and notify managers in cases like these. Now, according to the report, a top FBI official said the Bureau fully accepts the recommendation and will teach the new rules to staffers involved in undercover operations.

Back to you.


WALKER: Don't taunt jaguars -- a common-sense warning that a visitor at a zoo in Jacksonville, Florida didn't heed. The man climbed a barrier, entered the jaguar exhibit, and got too close to one of the big cats who swiped him. Well, luckily, his injuries are not life- threatening.

JARRETT: And finally, a buzzy story this morning. A couple who bought a farmhouse in Pennsylvania got something extra in the deal -- honeybees that had been living in the walls for 35 years -- and 450,000 of them. They bought the home in the winter and they said they had hardly noticed the bees until springtime. Now they're spending $12,000 to have the bees removed and relocated -- look at that -- and the home reconstructed.

Can you imagine?

WALKER: That's awful -- no.

JARRETT: Yes, not good at all.

WALKER: It's a sweet house.

JARRETT: I like the puns.

WALKER: Thanks for joining us this morning and laughing at my jokes. I'm Amara Walker.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. It is Tuesday, August third.

The breaking news, high drama. Simone Biles wins the bronze -- and I do mean wins. Some victories are not about finishing first and this is one of them. Biles' medal is a victory for awareness about mental health after she pulled out of all the other individual events from the Olympics, suffering from what is known as the twisties -- losing herself in the air during these performances.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Now the greatest female gymnast.