Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Capitol Officer Who Shot Ashli Babbitt Breaks Silence; Hurricane Watch On Gulf Coast, Including New Orleans; Surgeon General: False Information About Kids And COVID Hurts Vaccination Rates. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 27, 2021 - 07:30   ET



REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): Counterterrorism is about neutralizing those with the capabilities to strike the U.S. homeland. The United States retains the prerogative for counterterrorism operations everywhere in the world. We are operating in dozens of countries in the Middle East and Africa to ensure that we do not have strikes on American citizens, and we need to sustain that in Central Asia as well. And we've got to take a thorough look at the assets and the intelligence necessary to do that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to end where I began with you and I just want you to reflect on the Marines and other service members who lost their lives yesterday and the jobs they were doing, and the nature, Congressman, of the sacrifice that they made.

AUCHINCLOSS: It's agony. These Marines were literally pulling people to freedom and they represented the best of the United States military. They were bringing order to chaos, they were bringing hope to a grim situation, and their sacrifice must be honored by bringing to justice the architects of this atrocity.

BERMAN: And they are doing it and continue to do it this morning in almost impossible conditions.

Congressman Jake Auchincloss, appreciate you being with us. Thank you for joining us this morning.


BERMAN: Up next, the police officer who shot and killed a Trump supporter while defending the U.S. Capitol revealing his identity and speaking out for the first time.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And the storm now expected to become a major hurricane when it makes landfall on the Gulf Coast by the end of the weekend.



KEILAR: The veteran U.S. Capitol Police officer who killed pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt during the January sixth attack speaking out for the first time about his decision to pull the trigger.


LT. MICHAEL BYRD, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I'd been yelling and screaming as loud as I was -- please, stop. Get back, get back, stop. You are ultimately hoping that your commands will be complied with and unfortunately, they were not.

LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS" AND "DATELINE NBC": What did you think this individual was doing at that -- at that moment?

BYRD: She was posing a threat to the United States House of Representatives.


KEILAR: Joining us now is Terrance Gainer, CNN law enforcement analyst and former U.S. Capitol Police chief. Thank you so much for being with us.

I know that you watched this interview with Lt. Byrd with so much interest, and I wonder what you thought of the interview and also the fact that he's become such a controversial figure.

TERRANCE GAINER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER U.S. CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF (via Webex by Cisco): Well, Brianna, my heart goes out to both him and the parents of the -- of Ashli Babbitt. There's not much we can say to assuage their hurt in this but Lt. Byrd was doing his duty. He was doing what was expected to keep those members and staff safe.

KEILAR: I think sometimes -- and I mentioned this last hour -- what gets lost in this discussion of what happened that day is where this occurred. This was the door going into what's called the speaker's lobby. It was feet from a door right into the House chamber where members of Congress were holed up. And yet, somehow, this has become incredibly controversial by supporters who say the folks you see here in this video weren't posing a threat and shouldn't have been stopped.

What do you say to that?

GAINER: Well, Brianna, I know that hallway, that stairway, that door very, very well. So whether it was in my role as the chief of the Capitol Police and then later years, as the Senate sergeant of arms, I escorted President Obama there, President Bush there, and it was, as you said, just a few feet from getting inside the chamber.

So the people doing this weren't people on a stroll in the Capitol. For whatever reason they came in there, at that moment, at that door, on that floor they were insurrectionists. They were involved in criminal activity. There's no doubt about that.

That Lt. Byrd and others tried to dissuade them -- to get them to calm down didn't work. Lt. Byrd was doing his duty.

And I think the others that were outside with her in that doorway yelling and screaming and breaking in there -- they owe some responsibility to this, too. We're responsible for each other. We expect officers to intervene when they see something going wrong and we should expect the same thing of our citizens.

So I feel bad that she got herself in that position. He didn't shoot someone who was a supporter of President Trump. He shot someone who was in the midst of criminal activity trying to get in and do harm to members of Congress.

That hurts, and I know that would trouble her parents. It would trouble me. But he did his job. He did what was expected.

KEILAR: He, of course, has been criticized by President Trump. Listen to what he said about that.


HOLT: Former President Trump has talked about you and this -- and this incident. He says she was murdered. What does it feel like to hear that from a former president?

BYRD: Well, it's disheartening. If he was in the room or anywhere and I'm responsible for him, I was prepared to do the same thing for him and his family.

HOLT: Would you have his back today if you were so assigned?

BYRD: I sure would because it's my job.


KEILAR: What did you think about that?

GAINER: Well, I think it says a lot about him and the other -- the ethics of the police officers up in that Capitol and, frankly, around the nation. We never cared how someone got elected -- how they got into their position -- whether they were Democrats or Republicans or Independents, or even they had bizarre ideas about where America should go.


The men and women of the United States Capitol Police protect them all equally and I think Lt. Byrd demonstrated that. And the more people keep trying to turn this into some type of conspiracy theory, some execution -- including the ex-president, including sitting members of Congress -- are doing an injustice to us all.

KEILAR: Chief, thanks for being with us this morning -- Terrance Gainer.

President Biden vowing to hunt down the attackers in Kabul and make them pay. So how does the U.S. do that and withdraw by Tuesday's deadline? We're going to talk to a top former U.S. commander.

BERMAN: And next, we have brand-new reporting from the White House. What the Biden team is bracing for right now. Stand by.



KEILAR: All right, Tropical Storm Ida barreling now toward land. Let's go now to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. Chad, what are you tracking here?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey -- good morning, Brianna.

You know what? We have a storm that is getting stronger, really, by the minute. It was 45 miles per hour at 5:00 a.m. and now we are looking at a storm that's likely 55 miles per hour for the 8:00 advisory. And it's going to get into the Gulf of Mexico and it's going to get a lot stronger than that.

The 5:00 a.m. advisory does have this storm now at 115 miles per hour at landfall somewhere between Cameron, Louisiana, and maybe as far east as Mobile. So this is going to be a storm. And the hurricane center also saying at this hour that it could be bigger -- could be stronger than 115.

We're going to have to keep watching it. This is going to be a major event for the northern Gulf Coast all the way from Louisiana all the way to the Gulf Coast of Florida that comes in Sunday and lasts through Monday.

Power outages will be in the hundreds of thousands, and a storm surge somewhere in the ballpark of 11 feet. Eleven feet of storm surge is life-threatening and catastrophic for some spots -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, it certainly is. We know that you will be watching it. This is very bad news as we're seeing this track towards land here.

MYERS: That's right.

KEILAR: Chad, thank you.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: This morning, the Biden administration bracing for the possibility of another terror attack as the U.S. works to complete its evacuation missions from Afghanistan by Tuesday.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now with the new reporting and, I guess, the new thinking inside the White House, Jeremy. What have you learned?


Listen, in the lead-up to that deadly terrorist attack that took place yesterday, we heard some of these very same warnings from the White House and from the president about the threat level that existed in Kabul. This morning, I spoke with a senior official who said the threat is

still out there. She -- this individual said it is still heightened. So we know that this is certainly something that the White House is bracing for as there are just five days left until the U.S. is set to complete its evacuation mission and get all of those U.S. troops who are still securing that airport in Kabul out of the country.

The president is expected to get regular updates on this threat and the state of those evacuations throughout the day today, beginning at 8:00 a.m. with his daily intelligence briefing -- a meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Situation Room.

And I'm also told that the president does soon plan to contact the families of those 13 fallen service members. The White House is still working through the planning on that and wants to first, ensure that those next-of-kin notifications that the Department of Defense makes in-person to these families to let them know that their loved one has, indeed, died -- they want to make sure that has happened first before the president reaches out. But I'm told by a senior official that he does plan to reach out to those families -- John.

BERMAN: I think this morning we all should be thinking about those families.

Jeremy Diamond, we thank you for your reporting. Please keep us posted throughout the morning.

KEILAR: Just ahead, new details on evacuations underway right now at the airport in Kabul after the horrific twin attacks that killed 13 U.S. service members and 90 Afghans.

BERMAN: And the surgeon general sounding the alarm about the danger to kids posed by COVID.



BERMAN: This morning, coronavirus cases and hospitalizations among children are rising, and the U.S. surgeon general is worried that this false idea that COVID isn't dangerous to young people is hurting youth vaccination numbers.


DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: There are some people who have absorbed the message that somehow because they are younger that they don't need to get vaccinated. That COVID's not really a problem for them.


BERMAN: Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, this is one of the things that's been out there for a while that if you're young, it doesn't really get you that badly. You won't get it if. If you do get it, it's not so bad. And the surgeon general now saying that's having a big impact across the board.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN HOST, CHASING LIFE PODCAST: Yes. I mean, this has always been presented as not only an adult sort of disease but an older adult's disease, but we know that it can have an impact on kids -- smaller impact. That has remained true. But it has increased, especially with Delta.

First of all, let me -- let me show you just the vaccination rates here. Obviously, 12 to 15-year-olds -- they got authorized later but you can see that there's a significant sort of difference in terms of the percentage of uptake of vaccines overall. And that's a concern because kids can get sick.

I mean, 450 children have died, thousands have been hospitalized, tens of thousands have been diagnosed. It's leading to quarantines of schools all over the country.

But just to give you a little bit of context, 450 children dying. In 2017-2018, one of the worst flu seasons on record for kids, 188 children died and it -- and it sounded all kinds of alarms. So you just get a --you get the idea because, again, we've talked about adults for so long. Four hundred fifty pediatric deaths is somehow not raising the alarms that it should, and I think that's the point the surgeon general is making.

Plus, the longer people transmit the virus, the longer this pandemic continues. And we know young people can transmit as well.

KEILAR: Yes, that is a lot of deaths, especially as we are going into --

GUPTA: It is.

KEILAR: -- more and more exposure when it comes to kids, which makes you worry that we're going to see even more.

I do, Sanjay, want to get to a viewer question that I think is -- it's really a good one.


This is Chinmay asking, "Seems like we will be required to take the flu shot and COVID booster in the next few months. Is there a particular order we should take them? Should we take flu before COVID or it doesn't matter when and how we take them?"

And then also, can you just tell us when should we be taking our flu shot? Should we be taking it earlier than we might usually do?

GUPTA: Right. So, first of all, Chinmay, it doesn't matter. But it did matter and that's why you're probably asking the question.

In the beginning, when the COVID vaccine came out, the guidance was look, wait at least 14 days before you get another vaccine. And part of that was just because they were still figuring out exactly what the sort of side effects people might have after the shot and they were playing it safe.

Now that they have all this data, they say it doesn't matter. You can even get the shots on the same day if you'd like -- simultaneously. You've got to get them in different injection sites, so if you get them in both arms you might have two sore arms. So take that into consideration but it doesn't really matter.

As far as the flu shot, we're coming up on the sort of potential double whammy of all these different respiratory viruses and COVID at the same time, so they're recommending getting the flu shot within the next few weeks. You -- it's not usually a problem to get the flu shot early. The only issue is if you start to see significant surges of flu going into the January-February sort of timeframe you want to make sure you're well protected at that point as well. So within the next few weeks, I would recommend getting the flu shot.

We'll see about the boosters. We'll see about the boosters. You know, next week is going to be a big week regarding the FDA and CDC and we'll see what they formally recommend. I know there's a lot of news about this but we'll just wait and see what they say in terms of how they recommend this.

BERMAN: Sanjay, the case rate in the United States -- the cases at levels we haven't seen since January. And hospitalizations up at levels we haven't seen in a long time, either.

Where are we with deaths? I know we're now up to more than 1,000 a day, which is shocking. But one of the things we've been looking for is would the rate -- the death rate rise in a corresponding way, albeit later, to deaths and hospitalization? Are we getting any sense yet?

GUPTA: I think we're getting some sense and in that case, there has been some decoupling. And what I mean by that -- I don't mean to use such a clinical term but there is -- we know that primarily, the hospitalizations have been among the unvaccinated, so that -- once you're in the hospital it's almost always unvaccinated.

So why are deaths better? Because we have learned more about how to take care of patients with COVID. I mean, in the beginning, you'll remember -- I mean, typically, someone has respiratory distress. You put them on a ventilator right away. That was always what was taught.

We learned quickly within the first few months of the pandemic that was not always going to be a good option. The lungs of a COVID patient are different than the lungs of other people with respiratory distress.

So strategies like that -- when to use steroids. Even things like monoclonal antibodies early in the course of illness have changed the likelihood someone would go to the hospital.

So we have learned a lot. It would be a lot better if we had a much higher vaccination rate. And just think about that. Ninety-eight percent of those in the hospital in June and July were unvaccinated. If everyone had been vaccinated we would have lowered that 50-fold in this country.

This is easy. And there's difficult problems out there to solve. You guys have been talking about them all morning. This isn't one of them. We can -- we can -- we can fix going -- fix this problem going into the fall and I think we really have to.

KEILAR: Yes, it's the easy stuff -- come on, right?

Sanjay, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

GUPTA: You got it.

KEILAR: NEW DAY continues right now.

BERMAN: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar. It is Friday, August 27th.

And this morning, the United States is pressing on with evacuation flights despite the growing danger after those two deadly bombings at the Kabul airport. The White House says that 12,500 people were evacuated from Afghanistan in the least 24 hours and that's even with those attacks. President Biden still insists the U.S. is doing everything possible to get Americans and Afghan allies out in the final days of the evacuation and complete U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Yesterday was one of the deadliest days for the U.S. in the 20-year war. Thirteen U.S. service members and 90 Afghans killed in the terror attack, which took place just outside the Kabul airport.

A senior official tells CNN moments ago that President Biden plans to contact the families of the service members who were killed after those families are first notified by the Department of Defense.

KEILAR: You know, ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for this -- ISIS Khorasan -- and the president is vowing retaliation for this. Top military commanders are on alert for even more potential violence by the Islamic State.