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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Evacuation Operation In Afghanistan Ends Tomorrow; Israeli Prime Minister Bennett Visiting Biden At White House Today; Body Cam Shows Beating Of Black Man By Louisiana State Trooper. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 26, 2021 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: But they have found an angle of attack on this White House and we'll see if the White House and the Biden administration has a counter to it.

EARLY START continues right now.

Good morning, this is EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Laura Jarrett. It's 30 minutes past the hour here in New York and it's time for our top stories to keep an eye on today.

CNN has learned the evacuation of civilians in Afghanistan will end tomorrow and who escapes could be affected by an urgent stay away order in Kabul. The U.S. Embassy warning U.S. citizens at a number of airport gates of a very specific threat from ISIS-K about attacks on airport crowds. We have a live report in just a moment.

ROMANS: More than 100,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID in the U.S., a number that has nearly tripled in the past month. Forty-eight percent of Americans still unprotected by the vaccine. The strain on hospitals struggling to treat the influx of patients is growing.

JARRETT: Democrats scrambling to rally voters to keep California Gov. Gavin Newsom in office. He faces a recall election in less than three weeks. Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to campaign for Newsom on Friday, and President Biden is also expected to help out.

ROMANS: A federal judge is sanctioning a group of former President Trump's lawyers who filed a lawsuit filled with lies to challenge the results of the 2020 election, calling it, quote, "a profound abuse of the judicial process." Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and several others must now reimburse Detroit and Michigan state officials for attorneys' fees and may even lose their law licenses.

JARRETT: ESPN is removing Rachel Nichols from NBA coverage and canceling her show "THE JUMP." The move comes after a "New York Times" report revealed Nichols questioned whether a Black colleague only got to cover the NBA Finals because of the network's diversity efforts. ROMANS: The naked baby on the cover of Nirvana's breakout 1991 album Nevermind is all grown up and now suing the band over alleged child sexual exploitation. Spencer Elden is now 30 years old. He says he has suffered lifelong damages because of the album's popularity. No comment from surviving members of the band or the record labels.

JARRETT: All right, 36 hours to go. CNN has learned the evacuations from Afghanistan will wind down tomorrow, and the job -- well, it just got much harder. The American embassy advised U.S. citizens near three of the gates to leave immediately because of security threats.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke about the real danger to Americans who remain in Afghanistan.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: It's hard to overstate the complexity and the danger of this effort. We're operating in a hostile environment in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban with the very real possibility of an ISIS-K attack. We're taking every precaution but this is very high-risk.


ROMANS: A defense official tells CNN the concerns are based on a very specific threat stream from ISIS-K about attacks against the crowds outside the airport.

We are expecting new numbers on yesterday's evacuations at any moment.

International security editor Nick Paton Walsh back with us covering the story again live from Doha, Qatar. Nick, this is winding down quickly. And I just want to step back for a second here because so much has been happening.

You've got these planes leaving, what, every 45 minutes, I guess, on average here. They're filling these planes with people. They're warning Americans to stay away. They're worried about the threat -- ISIS-K threat against the Taliban, their archrivals.

I mean, it's still very chaotic but it's amazing what has been done -- how many people have been moved out of there.

NICK PATON WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. I mean, look, an absolutely extraordinary operation. We could be possibly -- depending on today's figures -- looking at somewhere in the region of 100,000 people shipped out in a matter of four to five days. That is just beggars belief. It is quite remarkable.

But it also informs, I think, the rapidly closing window that we are now seeing on the ground. I understand from a source familiar with the situation that things will end on Friday in terms of the evacuation operation itself. It's sort of hampered, frankly, by deteriorating security around the airport.

The Taliban have checkpoints but they only let through people, it seems, who prearranged access. And, of course, they have at the gates this enduring issue, it seems, with a bomb threat -- an IED threat maybe linked to ISIS-K, the terror group. That has led to gates to, for the most part, be closed. Abbey Gate, which was an access point, is now fully closed, I understand, and people are being moved away from there, although I am sure this news of a reduced timetable will change some of the dynamics there.

Who still gets on the airport? It seems it is those who have contacts with Afghan security forces who have their own unofficial channel somewhere within the airport, and those who are essentially escorted on with prearranged visits by the United States.

But the number's a lot smaller. And so, when Secretary of State Antony Blinken talks about 500 for certain Americans who need to get out -- yesterday, that is -- and 1,000 who they are looking for who might need their assistance, that is, of course, the high priority.


And the window for that is rapidly closing. It is now already late afternoon in Kabul so they're looking to tomorrow. They're seeing the U.S. and their allied militaries leaving. Australia, Italy, Canada, Turkey beginning that process. The Brits tonight.

I should tell you one more thing. As this closes -- as this panic tightens at the airport, I was told by a source familiar with the situation that a Gulfstream jet tried to land a few hours in Kabul airport. It was denied permission and flew off. And it is thought that it contains another congressional delegation.

Remember, two congressmen were kind of heavily criticized for flying in on resources that should be used for the evacuation a matter of days ago. It does seem as though another private jet has tried to bring some more in. Unclear who they are but startling at this time of desperation that somebody would think to put themselves in that situation and use up the runway.

Back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Nick. Thank you so much for that in Doha -- Laura.

JARRETT: And speaking of those two congressmen who took a secret bipartisan trip to Afghanistan to witness the evacuation efforts firsthand -- well, they are drawing bipartisan condemnation now. This unauthorized visit by Democratic Seth Moulton and Republican Peter Meijer catching the White House and House leadership completely off guard.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, it's not just about them going to Afghanistan, but in going to the region because there's a call on our resources diplomatically, politically, militarily in the rest -- in the region as well. So this is deadly serious. We do not want members to go. REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I don't think others really have the opportunity to go since everything's being pulled out. And I don't think it's smart for others to go. You're putting yourself -- not yourself in harm's way, but you're putting Americans in harm's way if the military has to protect you, in which they will do and they should not.


ROMANS: Moulton and Meijer, two Iraq war veterans, say they secretly flew to Kabul to witness the situation for themselves. Congressman Meijer is defending the trip.


REP. PETER MEIJER (R-MI): We have not had information we need from the administration. We waited for a plane that had open seats to make sure that we didn't take away anything from individuals who needed it, and actually went several hours out of our way.


JARRETT: The Pentagon, though, doesn't see it that way. They say they were unaware of the decision by Moulton and Meijer to visit Afghanistan and that their visit took away -- took time away from the mission U.S. forces are trying to conduct.

ROMANS: All right.

The prime minister of Israel visits the White House today, and for the first time in 12 years, it will not be Benjamin Netanyahu. President Biden sees his Oval Office meeting with new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as an opportunity to reset the relationship with Israel.

Hadas Gold has the latest for us from Washington. And, Hadas, the relationship between Netanyahu and Democratic administrations in the U.S. has always been tense. Will anything change?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, at its core, the policies between Naftali Bennett and his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu are mostly the same, but the approach will be much different. The prime minister telling reporters that he is coming to these meetings, including with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan with a new spirit of cooperation.

So while at its core he may feel the same way on issues like Iran, on issues like relationships with the Palestinians, the approach will be much different. Don't expect big addresses to Congress that goes over the head of the president like we saw under Netanyahu.

This meeting today with President Joe Biden is incredibly important for Naftali Bennett to show that though he is the new prime minister, though there is a new president in the United States, the strong relationship between the United States and Israel will continue despite there having been 12 years of Netanyahu, despite that political bromance between Netanyahu and Trump. There are new governments in place but the relationship will still be very strong.

But top of mind on this agenda will be Iran. Naftali Bennett plans to press President Biden on Iran. The Israelis have long been opposed to a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

And the prime minister plans to present to Joe Biden what he's calling a holistic strategy that addresses Iran's nuclear ambitions, but also what they call their regional aggressions in places like Syria and Lebanon, as well as the incidents we've seen recently at sea. The attack on Mercer Street cargo ship, which both Israel and the United States attribute to Iran.

Now finally, Bennett essentially wants a sort of regional NATO of countries that will work together to counter Iran.

The real question, of course, will be how will President Biden accept these proposals. And also, at its core, what will the relationship be like between these new leaders. There is a very big age gap. This is a very new prime minister with a very experienced politician. So the question will be what will that relationship be like, what will Joe Biden do with these proposals, and how will this relationship move forward?

But for the Israelis, this is a very important trip because they really feel as though time is completely running out on Iran.

ROMANS: All right, Hadas. Thank you so much for that.


It's just about 40 minutes past the hour. We'll be right back.


JARRETT: Welcome back.

More than half of Florida's students are now enrolled in public school districts where masks as mandatory. That's despite threats of sanctions from Gov. Ron DeSantis. We're talking about some of the biggest school districts in the country here, such as Miami-Dade and Hillsborough.

But masks somehow, some way, still divisive. A Fort Lauderdale high school parent allegedly pushed a student during a dispute over masks and has been arrested.

Meantime, the U.S. now averaging more than -- more than 100,000 deaths a day. Sorry, more than 1,100 deaths a day. Medical staff nationwide are overwhelmed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best thing you could do to support us is not need us. So get vaccinated. We no longer are as measured as we usually are and we ask people to please do their part. You know, we were heroes last year. This time it's your time to put on your cape. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: More than three-quarters of America's ICU beds are filled. In six states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas -- more than 90 percent are full. People with non-COVID health issues are falling through the cracks because hospitals are packed.


DR. NITESH PARYANI, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, TAMPA ONCOLOGY AND PROTON: Delta's just ripping through the hospitals in ways that we couldn't have imagined. And the strain it's causing on the healthcare system is unimaginable.


As I put it out on the editorial, I wrote I had to turn away a cancer patient that needed an emergency treatment simply due to the fact that my hospital didn't have any beds.

When I established my cancer practice -- and I'm a third-generation oncologist -- the one principle that I had built -- my family had built treating cancer patients off of is that we would never turn away a patient regardless of whether they could pay or not. And for the first time in 60 years of my family's history of treating cancer, we had to turn someone away.


JARRETT: You can feel that doctor's frustration.

Colorado fitness coach Bill Phillips is urging people to get the vaccine. He lost 70 pounds fighting for his life. He chose not to get vaccinated because he thought he had antibodies from an earlier infection. The 56-year-old spent two months in the hospital.


BILL PHILLIPS, COVID SURVIVOR: And it didn't help that I could bench press 300 pounds or run a mile straight up a hill. I made a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, to see Bill go from this person who was so strong and full of life to this person that can barely stand up.


ROMANS: I don't know sometimes why that's not getting through when you talk -- people who have survived COVID. Sometimes it's taking so long to recover.

One sign of hope, vaccinations are up 70 percent from mid-July. The greatest increases are in states that have been lagging behind, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

JARRETT: Now to this newly-uncovered and disturbing body camera footage showing a Black man, Aaron Larry Bowman, being repeatedly beaten by a Louisiana state trooper. It happened more than two years ago.

Here's what Bowman told CNN's Don Lemon just last night.


AARON LARRY BOWMAN, BEATEN BY POLICE DURING TRAFFIC STOP: He searched me down and I did exactly what he asked of me. In the next few minutes, he snatched me out of the car and swung me to the ground and went to beating on me. And while he was doing it the rest of the deputies -- cop -- police that was there was just standing around watching.

It just -- it just bothers me when I talk about it. It's like I relive it the whole time.


JARRETT: The incident involves the same division of the Louisiana State Police that's already being investigated for systemic abuse against Black motorists.

I want to warn you that some of the video you're going to see is disturbing here. CNN's Ryan Young reports for us.

All right, we're going to keep going here. We'll try to come back to that piece in just a little bit.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business in the meantime this morning. Looking at markets around the world, Asian shares -- if you could pull up the screen for me -- narrowly mixed here, although Hong Kong and Shanghai both down one percent. European shares have opened slightly lower here. On Wall Street, stock index futures have been wobbling a bit this morning, basically flat for Dow futures.

This is after another record-breaking day on Wall Street. The Dow closed up 39 points, inching closer to 36,000. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq finished slightly higher -- record highs there.

Look, the economy is booming but the Delta variant still a risk for the recovery. Ford said it is delaying its return to offices until 2022, citing the very fluid state of this pandemic. Deutsche Bank said its New York trading floor will only be open to vaccinated staff.

So we're still in the thick of this. But the path of least resistance, Laura, for stocks has been higher here --


ROMANS: -- just again and again.


All right. A Little League star throws another no-hitter at the World Series. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.


You know, I asked the question earlier this week -- could one Little Leaguer win the entire World Series? And so far, that answer is yes when it comes to South Dakota's Gavin Weir. The 12-year-old giving up just one hit and struck out 114 batters during this run. South Dakota grabbed the lead in the first inning against California and Weir just kept mowing batters down.

And with the team up one to nothing in the fifth, Weir was about to reach the 66-pitch limit that would trigger him having to rest for four days, meaning he couldn't pitch again in Williamsport. Well, that's when his manager Mike Gorsett came to the mound.

MIKE GORSETT, SOUTH DAKOTA HEAD COACH: The whole world wants to see you pitch Sunday. Listen to me -- listen to me -- you're not coming out of this game. You're going to shove it right down, OK? We've got four outs to go and we're in the championship game this evening.

I've got all the confidence in the world that you're going to show up and throw a gem on Sunday, and I've got all the confidence in the world that the rest of this pitching staff is going to come in and do the job, OK?

You be my horse right now and give me four more outs and then you hit me a bunch of home runs the rest of the way out. You understand? Let's go right now.


SCHOLES: Yes. So, Weir struck out the final four batters, ending with 14 Ks on the day. South Dakota beats California 1-0.

Weir and his teammates just two wins away from an unlikely World Series crown now. They'll have to get those last two wins, though, without Weir on the mound.

All right, Dodgers and Padres, meanwhile, playing a marathon game that ended at 4:00 a.m. eastern. San Diego, at one point, didn't get a hit for nine full innings until Fernando Tatis, Jr. tied the game with a two-run shot in the 15th.


The Dodgers, though, would answer back in the 16th -- A.J. Pollock, a two-run home run, himself. That would finally put this game away. L.A. wins 5-3 in the longest game since the pandemic rules of starting a guy at second in extra innings were put into place.

All right. Finally, another big name pulling out of the U.S. Open with an injury. Venus Williams says she, unfortunately, has a leg injury and not going to be ready. You can add her to the list of stars -- her sister Serene, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer all not participating due to injuries this year.

First Grand Slam event in the main singles draw without Venus, Serene, Federer, or Nadal, guys, since 1997. Still got Djokovic going for that Grand Slam, though.

JARRETT: All right, Andy, thanks so much -- appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: All right, I want to get back to that body camera footage I mentioned earlier showing a Black man, Larry Bowman, being beaten by a Louisiana state trooper.

Here is CNN's Ryan Young.


BOWMAN: I never did nothing.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another Black man beaten during a traffic stop. This body camera footage from May 2019 appears to show now-former Louisiana State Police officer Jacob Brown beating Aaron Larry Bowman as other officers hold Bowman down.

Trooper Brown is seen swinging what appears to be a flashlight, repeatedly striking Bowman while he's face-down on the ground with his hands behind his head. Bowman's attorney saying Brown hit their client 18 times in just 24 seconds.

BOWMAN: I never did nothing, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, fighting us ain't going to help you, bud.

BOWMAN: I'm not fighting you.


YOUNG (voice-over): Bowman can be later heard moaning, saying it hurt me.

BOWMAN: They hit me in the head with a flashlight.

YOUNG (voice-over): Bowman was left with multiple lacerations, a fractured arm, and broken ribs, according to court documents.

This video from more than two years ago but was just recently turned over to Bowman's attorneys.

State Police releasing a statement in December, saying, "A detailed search of body camera video revealed the incident was intentionally mislabeled and Brown was involved. And detectives concluded that Brown engaged in excessive and unjustifiable actions and failed to report the use of force to his supervisors."

Brown was charged with aggravated second-degree battery and malfeasance in office in December.

But the incident is part of a bigger issue. The Division of Louisiana State Police, where Brown worked -- Troop F -- is under federal investigation for potential abuses committed by troopers against Black motorists.

LEE MERRITT, RONALD GREENE'S FAMILY ATTORNEY: That troop that are -- that he belongs to -- Troop F in Louisiana -- is notorious and they've had -- they've left a lot of victims and families in their wake.

YOUNG (voice-over): The Troop F investigation started following the death of Ronald Greene, a Black man who died after he was beaten and tased during a traffic stop also in May of 2019.

RONALD GREENE, BEATEN BY LOUISIANA STATE POLICE: I'm scared I'm your brother. I'm scared.

YOUNG (voice-over): Greene's family say they were told by Louisiana State Police that Greene died in a car crash following a chase. But nine body camera and dash camera videos tell a different story of what happened that night.

MERRITT: And now will the leadership of Louisiana be stirred into action to hold these officers accountable, to dismantle this troop? To adjust the policies that allow this to go -- to go forward. To adjust the cover-up from the prosecutors on down.

YOUNG (voice-over): Ryan Young, CNN, Atlanta, Georgia.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you, Ryan, for that troubling report there.

All right, we're now down to the final 36 hours of this historic evacuation out of Afghanistan -- a Herculean effort. A week of desperation and chaos in a rush to escape Taliban rule. The images heartbreaking.

A teenager on Afghanistan's youth national soccer team died after he fell from a U.S. military C-17 as it took off from Kabul.

More than 80,000 people ultimately evacuated unmatched in modern history. The American military pulling off an infinite number of miracles.

This toddler dressed in yellow lemons so the U.S. Marines who had her picture could find her in the crowd. Her mother held her aloft in the outfit so the Marines could find her.

And this woman delivering her baby girl just as her evacuation flight lands. The baby forever linked to that plane that flew her out.


GEN. TOD WOLTERS, USAF, COMMANDER, U.S. EUROPEAN COMMAND: Because we've had further conversations with the mom and the dad of the baby that was born on the C-17 inbound to Ramstein. They named the little girl Reach and they did so because the call sign of the C-17 aircraft that flew them from Qatar to Ramstein was Reach. So that child's name will forever be Reach. And as you can well imagine, being an Air Force fighter pilot it's my

dream to watch that young child called Reach grow up and be a U.S. citizen and fly a United States Air Force fighter that's in our Air Force.



ROMANS: An infinite number of miracles that the U.S. military pulled off. I mean, the idea of those Marines with the little baby girl in yellow looking for her. They had her picture on a WhatsApp group chat -- these Marines -- and they are -- they are looking around trying to find this little girl, looking for the outfit.

JARRETT: And we remember the baby being taken over the razor wire last week.


JARRETT: Just the desperation of people who are just hoping for a way out.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

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


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday, August 26th. I'm Brianna Keilar alongside John Berman.

And we are beginning with some significant breaking news. Sources telling CNN that the frantic evacuation effort in Afghanistan is in its final 36 hours. There are still U.S. citizens trying to get out of Kabul; others possibly stuck outside the city. And the fate of thousands of green card holders and their families growing dim. These are legal, permanent --