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New Day Saturday
COVID-19 Infections Surge as U.S. Fights Over Masks and Vaccines as Cases Soar and ICU Beds Begin Running Low; FDA Targets Early September for Booster Shot Plan; Senate Returns for Key Vote on $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Deal; Americans Urged to Leave Afghanistan Amid Taliban Advances. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired August 07, 2021 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Christy Paul.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Christi. I'm Boris Sanchez. The United States hitting a key milestone in the fight against coronavirus, but the rise of the Delta variant putting off a return to the office and potentially to some schools as mask mandates return across the country.
PAUL: Yes. And not backing down, New York governor Andrew Cuomo slams that report that he sexually harassed 11 staffers. The governor is now facing the first criminal complaint tied to that probe.
SANCHEZ: Plus, leave immediately in order for any American civilians on the ground in Afghanistan as the Taliban gains ground, taking control of a second city.
PAUL: And a repeat performance here. One U.S. team racks up its fourth consecutive gold medal. Boy, they had to fight for it though.
SANCHEZ: They did.
PAUL: We are live from Tokyo. NEW DAY starts right now.
SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for waking up bright and early with us this Saturday, August 7th. We appreciate having you. Good morning, Christi. Always great to see you.
PAUL: You too, Boris. Thank you so much. Let's talk about what health officials are saying this morning, that the U.S. is at a crucial moment in the coronavirus pandemic. Infections are rising, hospitals are overrun with unvaccinated patients as this Delta variant is spreading, but the country does have tools to get the virus under control.
SANCHEZ: And in some ways, that's the saddest aspect of all of this. It is preventable, yet for the first time since February, the United States averaging more than 100,000 new infections a day and deaths are also on the rise. The virus is quickly spreading through unvaccinated communities, especially as you look at that map. There's a lot of red in the south where vaccination rates lag behind the rest of the country.
In states with the highest infection rates, people are getting vaccinated at a pace not seen in April. So that is good news, but hospitals are still struggling to keep up with new cases.
PAUL: In Mississippi, just 35 percent of the state's eligible population is vaccinated, and ICU beds are running low across the state. The message from medical experts is clear -- the only way to get things under control, they say, is to get vaccinated. Now, one man who's fighting for his life right now has a warning for other people. He says don't make the same mistake that he made by not getting that vaccine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRAVIS CAMPBELL, COVID PATIENT WHO REGRETS NOT GETTING THE VACCINE: The easiest thing is getting COVID. The hardest thing is finding a bed, finding oxygen and trying to breathe like a fish in water. I'm so sorry that I made the mistake to be negligent and not get vaccinated. Vaccinations are so important, and I can do better as a parent and as a human and I hope to God everybody else can too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: It is a difficult message to listen to. We're going to hear more from him in a moment, but it's clear that people are starting to get that message. This week in the United States, hitting a key vaccination milestone.
PAUL: CNN's Natasha Chen has more for us.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (Voice over): Half of the U.S. population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In the past week, more than 3.2 million Americans were newly vaccinated, a pace not seen since late June, and in states with the highest case rates, people are getting vaccinated at a level not seen since April, but Travis Campbell in Virginia was not among them. He did not get vaccinated and got sick. Fearing he wouldn't make it home from the hospital, Campbell told CNN he asked his son to walk his daughter down the aisle at her upcoming wedding.
CAMPBELL: I've never been more humbled in my life for all the people across the world for praying for me. They have respected my mistake that I made and I'm just so thankful and I pray that people will just really stop and evaluate what is the value of your decisions on your life and can we make it now?
CHEN (Voice over): Public health officials are urging people to make the right decision.
DR. THOMAS DOBBS, MISSISSIPPI HEALTH OFFICER: This is entirely attributable to the Delta variant which is sweeping over Mississippi, you know, like a tsunami.
CHEN (Voice over): The Mississippi health officer says 89 percent of hospitalized people and 85 percent of deaths there are among the unvaccinated. Hospitals are becoming inundated with patients again.
In Houston, an 11-month-old who tested positive for COVID-19 had to be airlifted 150 miles away because no pediatric hospital in the area could take her. The response to these troubling trends vary greatly. Many private companies are now requiring employee vaccinations, including United Airlines, imposing this requirement on its 80,000 employees by the end of September. California is the first state in the nation to require healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our message is simple. We support these vaccination requirements to protect workers, communities and our country.
CHEN (Voice over): But in Florida, President Biden is sparring with Governor Ron DeSantis who has threatened to withhold funding from school districts that implement mask mandates.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But you're not going to help, but at least get out of the way.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you're coming after the rights of parents in Florida, I'm standing in your way.
BIDEN: Governor who?
DESANTIS: I'm not surprised that Biden doesn't remember me. I guess the question is is what else has he forgotten?
CHEN (Voice over): Florida has reported an average of about 19,000 new cases per day in the past week, more than any other seven-day period in the entire pandemic. Health officials hope people see beyond the politics to the human toll.
DR. RAUL PINO, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA DEPT. OF HEALTH IN ORANGE COUNTY: I have taken a few calls on these. It's the type of guilt and remorse that comes with having transmitted this to a member of your family that may die from it because he's older or because he's fragile, because have pre-existing conditions and that had happened and that's a regret that we all can avoid by being vaccinated.
CHEN (Voice over): Natasha Chen, CNN, Orlando, Florida.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
PAUL: Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of the Emory University's School of Medicine at Grady Health System is with us now. Doctor, it's so good to have you with us. Thank you. We know that you're here in Georgia, we know that schools are opening up and we know that there are a lot of people concerned about kids going back to school. What is your level of confidence right now in that? CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOC. DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT GRADY: Well, you know, it's going to be hard, Christi, and it's going to be hard because there's a lot of transmission of COVID in the community. The best way to protect kids is for having the adults fully vaccinated. If we can get, you know, the parents, the teachers, the school administrators, everybody who's working with kids under the age of 12 vaccinated, yeah, you know, that's the best we can do.
But masks are also very important. It's also very important to have good ventilation in the schools, good airflow and if we do all those things, I think it can be done safely, but it's going to be -- it's going to be challenging because as you know, there's a lot of -- there's a lot of -- unfortunately a lot of people not vaccinated and there's also a lot of places where, you know, they don't believe in masks and therefore they're not going to do it.
PAUL: So with that said, there's been some real acrimony amongst people who are vaccinated and people who are not. I want to listen with you to Dr. -- to rather Frank Luntz. He's a pollster and communication strategist and he was talking to CNN about how we need to stay away from demonizing people who have not been vaccinated yet. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER & COMMUNICATION STRATEGIST: The problem is if you demonize them, if you insult them, they will surely not listen to you and they will not be educated by you. They feel pressured rather than educated and so we have to use language and statistics and facts that will bring them in rather than pushing them away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Yes, we know that shame does not work. We also know that statistics and facts have been reported every day all over the place, online, on television, in doctors' offices. What do you think it will take for people to embrace vaccination?
DEL RIO: Well, I think it's going to take several things. Number one, it's going to take somebody in your family getting sick. You had, you know, the unfortunate case of that man who recently spoke on your show just a couple minutes ago. People that have not been vaccinated are in the hospital, are sick are some of the best people to get the message out, please get vaccinated, because they are personally living it, as this man said, I made a mistake. I'm sorry I made a mistake.
It also is very important for trusted leaders to give that message. So, you know, President Trump, you know, anybody -- their local politicians, church ministers, anybody that's a trusted leader has to give that message because at the end of the day, they're going to -- they're going to listen to somebody they trust. We all listen to people we trust.
PAUL: Want to ask you about some new information that came out this week that I've heard some people need clarity on. The FDA said that they could lay out a national strategy for COVID booster shots in early September. The clarity that a lot of people have asked me about was does that mean the strategy is coming out in September or that that would actually be boosters available in September? What do you know about that? What kind of clarity can you give us?
DEL RIO: Well, I think -- you know, again, I'm guessing right now because I don't work at the FDA or at the CDC, but I'm guessing what they're going to do is they're going to come up with a plan. They're going to say, well, people over the age of 65 or people with immuno- compromising conditions can take a third shot and then you can then go to a vaccination site and if you qualify into those categories, you will be able to get a third shot.
At this point in time, it is not allowed by the EUA to get a third shot. So boosters are not allowed. The EUA has to be modified in order for that to happen.
PAUL: Dr. Carlos del Rio, we so appreciate your expertise and you taking time with us, particularly this early on a Saturday morning. Thank you so much, sir.
DEL RIO: Take care.
PAUL: You as well. Listen, want to talk about legal troubles that are mounting for New York governor Andrew Cuomo. We have details on the new criminal complaint filed against him and how Governor Cuomo is trying to discredit the investigation.
SANCHEZ: Plus, we're just a few hours away from a key vote on the infrastructure deal. We'll take you live to Capitol Hill next.
PAUL: So glad to have you back with us here. New York governor Andrew Cuomo facing growing legal and political fallout from accusations that he sexually harassed 11 women. Now, the governor denies the allegations and is resisting calls for him to resign.
SANCHEZ: Yes. Instead, he's attacking the credibility of the investigation into his conduct and now one of his accusers has filed a criminal complaint against him. CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid has the latest.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
RITA GLAVIN, ATTORNEY FOR GOV. CUOMO: This investigation ...
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (Voice over): Tonight, lawyers for embattled New York governor Andrew Cuomo firing back against allegations of sexual harassment, for the first time publicly addressing some claims line by line.
GLAVIN: The governor deserves to be treated fairly and he must be. That did not happen here. This was one sided and he was ambushed.
REID (Voice over): A New York state attorney general's report this week found the governor sexually harassed 11 women, a report the governor's lawyers say was done to support a predetermined narrative.
GLAVIN: I asked why did this report ignore documentary evidence and why did they not want to tell you?
REID (Voice over): A woman, named in the AG's report as Executive Assistant 1, filed a complaint Thursday with the Albany Sheriff's Office. It's the first known criminal complaint of sexual misconduct against the governor.
ANNE CLARK, SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR: In the executive mansion, the governor hugged Executive Assistant #1 and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. This was the culmination of a pattern of inappropriate sexual conduct.
REID (Voice over): But lawyers for Cuomo say that's not what happened.
GLAVIN: She was at the mansion that day for several hours and she wasn't just working with the governor, she was working with other staffers. E-mails that she sent while she was at the mansion reflect that she was joking while she was there, she was eating snacks and she even offered to stay longer at the mansion when her work was done.
REID (Voice over): The governor's office says it notified Albany police of the sexual misconduct allegations several months ago in accordance with state policies. The governor's lawyers also taking issue with another accusation, that the governor inappropriately touched a state trooper assigned to his security detail. The lawyer saying Cuomo sought her out at an event to recruit her and to increase diversity.
GLAVIN: He liked how she maintained eye contact, he liked that she was assertive with him in the conversation and then he asked one of the troopers he knows about her and they said, yes, she's excellent. And he's like I don't understand this. Why do I not have women on my detail?
REID (Voice over): Cuomo's lawyers say the governor will address the trooper's allegations directly soon. Another accuser, Lindsey Boylan, says she left the governor's office after being harassed. The governor's lawyers say that's also not true.
GLAVIN: She was leading the public to believe a false story, that she left because of sexual harassment and a bad work environment when in fact she laughed after being confronted with a number of complaints and then really wanted her job back and they wouldn't give it back.
REID (Voice over): Cuomo's lawyers, who suffered technical issues during their presentation ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My apologies.
REID (Voice over): ... say they are preparing an official response to the allegations and will submit it to the State Impeachment Committee by the August 13th deadline.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
REID: The New York Attorney General's Office responded in a statement saying, "There are 11 women whose accounts have been corroborated by a mountain of evidence. Any suggestion that attempts to undermine the credibility of these women or this investigation is unfortunate." Now, the office also says it will be making redacted transcripts of witness interviews available to the New York State Assembly. Boris, Christi.
SANCHEZ: Paul Reid, thanks for that. Let's dig deeper into the legal and political troubles facing governor Cuomo. Errol Louis is with us this morning. He's a CNN political commentator and host of the "You Decide" podcast. Good morning, Errol. Great to see you as always.
So as Governor Cuomo faces this impeachment probe and potentially criminal charges in the future, his legal team held that press conference yesterday. They doubled down on his rebuttal, they attacked the credibility of both investigators and the evidence, including the testimony of one witness. What was your biggest takeaway from that press briefing yesterday?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Boris. One big takeaway that I had from that disastrous press conference was that, in some ways, they kind of supported the claims of the accusers. It was hard to imagine that this was anything but a desperate short-term lashing out at the direction of their client, the governor, to try and say something.
But the reality is it's not at all -- nothing they said was inconsistent with what the accusers told the Attorney General's Office. The executive assistant, for example, said that she wasn't clear exactly on which date it was. So then for the governor's lawyers to go through this absurd tick tock about what happened on this day in the -- in that office and that -- and at that hour and at this hour and at that hour and she couldn't possibly have been molested, something that might have taken maybe 30 seconds, if she was there for several hours.
You know, there was an implicit assumption, implied assumption by the lawyer that somehow she wasn't acting the way a victim is supposed to act, which is victim blaming which is something that we've been through over and over again and really has no standing in law and that's really an unfortunate aspect of all of this.
And then with the trooper, just as Paula said, this is somebody he met for a few minutes and then said, put her on my executive protection team, the most intimate, the most elite, the most important of the jobs that the people around the governor have, based on a few minutes because she made eye contact with him? Well, that exactly supports what the accuser has said, which is that he bent the rules upon first meeting her, brought her into his inner circle and then proceeded to molest her, which is really what the accusation was in the -- in the first place.
So, you know, I understand why the governor wants to get his side of the story out, but he testified for 11 hours. We've heard his side of the story already. I don't know why he thinks it's a good idea to start attacking the accusers.
SANCHEZ: And, Errol, I want to get a picture of where his mind is right now because as we take a look at public polling related to how New Yorkers feel regarding Cuomo's stint as governor, 7 in 10 people, 70 percent, think that he should resign. That includes 57 percent, a majority of registered Democrats.
Some close to him have argued that he's in denial about his situation, that he's not acknowledging reality. What do you think is going on? You think he believes that he can overcome this and potentially even run for reelection?
LOUIS: You know, the governor -- I've talked to a number of people who are and have been close advisers to the governor. They're saying that he's taking -- he's taking advice from people one at a time rather than bringing people together and kind of acting as a team, which is always what has helped him succeed in the past.
He's keeping his own counsel, he's increasingly isolated, he's not taking the advice that people are giving him so that the leader of the state party, one of his closest political allies, has said publicly he went and urged the governor to resign and that that advice was rejected.
So I think what the governor is doing is, look, he's got some real legal problems here. You know, there is a complaint to the Albany County District Attorney and so he's going to have to really fend off those challenges. He wants to run for reelection. He is in denial about whether or not he can turn this around and I guess, Boris, it's important to keep in mind that while the governor has had a lot of political success, he's a good tactician.
He's not necessarily a long-term strategist, but he's really good at the fight that's right in front of him and so he's going back to what he knows and can do best, which is tackle the problem that's right in front of him. The problem, of course, is that there are 11 accusers. So you can attack ...
LOUIS: ... the executive assistant, you can attack the trooper. Well, what about the nine other women? Are they all biased? Do they all have political motives? It doesn't seem like he's thought this through.
SANCHEZ: And specifically I want to ask you about the criminal perspective of this, the potential for criminal charges, because it's not just that one accuser that has filed a criminal complaint. There are now six DAs in New York that have requested materials from state investigators to potentially file more charges. How does that now impact the messaging from his office and his approach to these allegations?
LOUIS: Well, you know, the events that are depicted in the attorney general's report happened in different parts of the state and each state has -- each county of the 62 counties in New York has its own district attorney and hence, a half a dozen of them are now looking at it. It doesn't mean any of those charges are going to lead to actual investigation, active investigation or even indictment, but it all -- it does mean that for the governor, he's got a problem.
You know, you've got to -- you've got to cooperate, you've got to pay your lawyers, you've got to sit down for deposition, you've got to answer questions and so it's going to take up even more time.
Ironically, though, Boris, I think it puts things back into a frame where our governor, who is a former attorney general himself and a pretty talented lawyer, it puts it back into a frame where he can do, again, this day-to-day kind of tactical fight over evidence, over whether records were turned over, over procedures and avoid the larger question.
Which is why would 11 women accuse you of different -- at different times in different places and without coordination, why would they all accuse you of the same thing and what does that mean for the voters of New York and for the public?
SANCHEZ: Yes. Still a lot of questions to be answered, including about that state trooper. We'll see when the governor's office gives us an answer on that. Errol Louis, thank you so much for the time, as always.
LOUIS: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: And a quick programming note. We may get some answers later today. Rita Glavin, one of Cuomo's attorneys, is going to join Pamela Brown for a one-on-one interview tonight at 6:00 PM Eastern right here on CNN.
PAUL: And a lot of action expected at the Capitol this morning. Senators are preparing to break filibuster for a procedural vote on the infrastructure deal. We're going to take you there live. Stay close.
SANCHEZ: It is a big day on Capitol Hill. The Senate is moving closer to pass a sweeping $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package. In just a few hours, senators are expected to break the filibuster on the bill and meet for a key procedural vote.
PAUL: Yes, they failed to reach a deal on Thursday night on quick passage of the bill. CNN's Joe Johns is live at Capitol Hill this morning. Joe, it is so good to see you this morning. Talk to us about what we expect today.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi and Victor. Well, this is a big moment up here on Capitol Hill. It's a major procedural vote. It is expected around noon Eastern time today. That bill is -- includes a lot of stuff that Democrats and some Republicans want very badly, including about $550 billion in new spending for things like roads, bridges, public transport, also, Broadband, as a matter of fact.
But at this stage, there is a possibility of a snag as there always is. One of the snags, of course, is that if all Democrats come along on this bill, they'll still need 10 Republican votes in order to get to the point where they will actually take up this bill and debate it. Now, one of the other big problems, of course, is the Trump people here on Capitol Hill. Many supporters of the former president have been opposed to this bill. They say spending is the problem.
The price tag is a little bit too high, $256 billion in deficit spending over the next 10 years according to the Congressional Budget Office. So, we'll be watching to see whether the Trump people continue to push against this bill. Also, there's a big question, as a matter of fact, as to whether Republicans on Capitol Hill simply want to give Joe Biden a big win on one of his key issues, all of that, a question here on Capitol Hill, still this bill will not be passed even if they go to the procedural vote today. Back to you.
SANCHEZ: Yes, a huge moment on the Biden agenda potentially coming up in just a few hours. Joe Johns from Capitol Hill. Thanks so much.
PAUL: The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issues a dire warning to Americans who are in Afghanistan. They say, look, you need to leave now. This message is coming as a second city falls to the Taliban, we are live for you there, next.
SANCHEZ: The United States is issuing an urgent message to American civilians in Afghanistan today, "leave immediately". This as one U.S. official or U.N. official, I should say warns that war with the Taliban has reached a dangerous turning point.
PAUL: Yes, in fact, the Taliban, we understand, has captured a second city now, and in this exclusive report, CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward actually spoke to residents in Afghanistan's second largest city where the Taliban is closing in now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the road to Kandahar's front line, there is still civilian traffic even as the Taliban inches deeper into the city. Afghan commandos have agreed to take us to one of their bases. (on camera): This used to be a wedding hall, now it's the front line
(voice-over): Most of the fighting here happens at night. The Taliban snipers are at work 24 hours a day.
(on camera): From snipers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WARD (voice-over): The men tell us the Taliban are hiding in houses just 50 yards away from us.
(on camera): And they shoot from people's homes? They shoot from civilian houses?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think you see this is a civilian home. We cannot use big weapons, the heavy weapons.
WARD: Up on the roof, Major Habib Bullejer(ph), he wants to show us something. So, you can actually see the Taliban flag just over on the mountain top there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See the flag.
WARD (voice-over): It's been nearly a month since the Taliban penetrated Afghanistan's second largest city. Since then, these men haven't had a break. U.S. airstrikes only come in an emergency, the rest of the time it's up to them to hold the line.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel a little bit weak without U.S. airstrikes and ground support and equipment, he says, but this is our soil, and we have to defend it.
WARD: In a villa in the eastern part of the city, Kandahary lawmaker Gul Ahmad Kamin is hunkered down. In decades of war, he says he's never seen the fighting this bad.
GUL AHMAD KAMIN, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, KANDAHAR: Millions of people in this city are waiting for when they will be killed, when someone will kill them, when their home will be destroyed and it is happening every minute.
WARD (on camera): Just spell out for me here, the Taliban is basically surrounding the entire city of Kandahar now, is that correct?
KAMIN: Definite, yes.
WARD: And so where is there to go?
So there is only two options, do or die.
WARD: Do or die?
WARD: And what does do look like?
KAMIN: That is the thing to convince different sides to ceasefire, to work on peace, to convince them to not to fight, not to kill.
WARD (voice-over): But that is a tall order in a city where war has become part of everyday life.
(on camera): You can probably see there is a lot more cars on the road than there were previously, and that's because in just 2 minutes at 6:00 p.m., the cell phone network gets cut across the city, and that's when the fighting usually starts.
(voice-over): Throughout the night, the sounds of gunfire and artillery pierce the darkness. Kandahar is the birth place of the Taliban. They are intent on taking it back, and the government knows it cannot afford to lose it. By day, an eerie calm holds. The U.N. says more than 10,000 people are now displaced in this city. On the outskirts of town, we find 30 families camped out in an abandoned construction site.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(on camera): He's saying that none of these children have fathers. All of their fathers have been killed in the fighting.
WARD (voice-over): Thirty five-year-old Rubina(ph) fled with her two daughters to escape the fighting after her husband was shot dead, but still it gets closer and closer.
"Last night, I didn't sleep all night", she says, "and the fear was in my heart." In the short time we are there, more families arrive. Street vendor Mahmed Ismail(ph) says they fled the village of Malajat after an airstrike hit. "Three dead bodies were rotting outside our home for days, but it was too dangerous to get them", he says. The Taliban is attacking on one side, the government is attacking the other side, in the middle, we are just losing.
Back at the base, dust coats the chairs where wedding guests would normally sit as the siege of Kandahar continues, life here is in limbo with no end in sight.
WARD: Just to give you a sense of the scale of the optic in violence, Boris and Christi, we spoke to the ICRC; the International Red Cross. They told us that the hospital that they assist in Kandahar, in the first six months of this year has seen more than 2,300 weapon-wounded patients. That's more than double the amount from the first six months of last year. So, really painting a picture of a very grim scene, indeed.
And we did hear also from the new U.N. envoy to Afghanistan, she warned of a potential catastrophe and I quote, "so serious it would have few if any parallels this century." Simply put, there is a deep- seeded fear here in Afghanistan that this country is unraveling, and the question is, can the gains that the Taliban has made being -- that the Taliban has made be reversed? At this point, there is no strong indication that, that is still possible, that Afghan security forces can, indeed, turn the tide of it before it spirals completely out of control. Victor -- sorry, Christi, Boris?
PAUL: Yes, Clarissa, I am in awe every time I watch you of how close you get and the people that you get to talk to you. Please, you and the team stay safe there. Clarissa Ward for us, thank you so much.
SANCHEZ: Thank you, Clarissa.
PAUL: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: With us this morning to discuss the situation in Afghanistan is CNN military analyst and retired Major General James Spider Marks. General, always great to have you on, we very much appreciate your perspective. I want to ask you about what that official told Clarissa in Kandahar when she asked him what do is in that do or die equation. He said, convince them to seek peace, convince the Taliban to seek peace.
Peace negotiations with the Taliban have not led to any significant change in Afghanistan. What should we expect out of trying to continue these talks? Is it worth it for the U.S. especially to stay engaged moving forward?
JAMES SPIDER MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, you always want to stay engaged -- and first of all, thank you, Boris, for allowing me to join you this morning. You know, you should always try to stay engaged and leave the door open for some possible negotiation, but let's be level-headed about what the potential outcome looks like, Boris. It's not going to look -- it's not going to look good frankly. The Afghan forces have not made any significant advances against the Taliban. They've not been able to resist against the Taliban. So, the "do" in the "do or die" is let's try to stop the killing.
Let's try to stop the kinetic engagement which means there's going to be some form of capitulation where the Taliban simply take over governance, ultimately will go to the Taliban and they'll be uncontested. Now, bear in mind, you also have al Qaeda still in the country, you have ISIS still in the country. So, you've got these competing terrorist organizations, but the Taliban will resume control in Kabul. It appears that the Afghan military is not going to be as Clarissa Ward indicated, be able to unravel or to put-back together what existed in some form a priority, the fighting and the departure of the U.S. forces.
SANCHEZ: So, General, it seems as though there's been a shift. Because in recent conversations that you and I have had about Afghanistan, we've talked about the Afghan government trying to maintain control of the capitol, of Kabul, and that being sort of the lynchpin, the last hope of that government maintaining some semblance of power. Now, it sounds like you're of the opinion that the Taliban is likely to take over the capital relatively soon.
MARKS: Well, I think there is an -- you know, there is an inevitability to what the Taliban are able to achieve, what they've been able to do on the ground. Clearly, if Kabul has not fallen, then you do have some semblance of governance. But again, let's be frank. Over the past 20 years that the United States and this great coalition has been involved in Afghanistan, what takes place in Kabul is extremely irrelevant to what takes place in many of the provinces outside of Kabul. They have the center piece of governance in some form of control and outside those lines around the capital city, you've got increasing chaos that exists and challenges to any form of governance-linked back to Kabul.
Again, Afghanistan really has no deep history other than it's been defined by the borders of its neighbors. So, it's very difficult to get this tribal kind of arrangement to have some type of allegiance to a capital city.
SANCHEZ: That is an important reminder. General, while we have you, I do want to ask a quick question about COVID-19. CNN first reported this week that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is going to seek authorization from President Biden to essentially make a vaccine mandate and push that on service members. Do you anticipate he might get some push-back from the rank-and-file?
MARKS: I would certainly hope not. I mean, in my view of all of this, I don't know what we've been waiting for. Look, the military is all about readiness, if you're not prepared to go to unknown locations and fight tonight and engage with that -- in that type of an environment, where COVID and different variants may be rampant, then you are certainly trying to send soldiers and troopers of all -- you know, the marines, the Air Force, the Navy, special ops folks and the army. What you're going to have is put them into an environment where they're at risk.
And you can judge their ability to execute their tasks based on this environment and how they can work within it. And if you've got COVID, and if it's rampant, you're going to have a readiness challenge. I would think we would have done this at the very start of the roll out of the vaccine. The military should have been jabbed early on. Look, in the military I grew up in, when they said, look, stand in line, you have to deploy, our readiness is number one. We took the shots, we didn't think about it. I mean, before I -- we liberated Iraq in '03, I mean, everybody was lining up and we eventually got our six Anthrax shots. I don't think anybody asked the question is, you know, what are our liabilities here or what are our personal protections individually? Those are discussions for legal guys. I look at this through a readiness filter. The vaccine is going to enhance the readiness posture of our military.
SANCHEZ: Yes, defense means much more than just weapons and strategy. It means the general health of the military. It's an important step. General Spider Marks, we appreciate the time as always, thanks so much. MARKS: Boris, thank you.
SANCHEZ: Of course. Stay with us, we'll be back soon.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to Tokyo, I'm Coy Wire. And we start with your Olympics highlights. The U.S. men's basketball team after losing their opening match here in Tokyo was looking to secure its fourth gold medal. Kevin Durant and company overcoming adversity, gelling as a team and they get that sweet revenge in the final over France who was the team to beat them in the opener, 87-82 in the win. Durant was a star among stars, 29 points, claiming his third gold medal as an individual. He's now tied with Carmelo Anthony for the most in Olympic hoops history.
The women's team, they'll be going for a seventh straight gold versus Japan tomorrow. Now imagine winning an Olympic medal for something you've only done three times in your entire life. That's exactly what American Molly Seidel has done. The 27-year-old won bronze in a marathon behind a pair of Kenyan runners. The Wisconsin native run cross-country in college, but never ran marathons.
Seidel was baby-sitting, working at a coffee shot last year. But she never gave up. Now, she's gone the distance, she's returning home as an Olympic bronze medalist. And as the Olympics wrap up, football season has come. The NFL induct two hall of fame classes this weekend. Today's difference makers is Dolphins hall of famer Dan Marino, he and his wife Claire have dedicated three decades to helping people with autism and other developmental disabilities through the Dan Marino Foundation. Their own son is the inspiration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN MARINO, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK: Our second born Michael was diagnosed with autism. And we started the foundation and really got the foundation going in 1992. So, it's been 29 years now, and really it was, you know, it's just to make a difference in kids lives that have developmental disabilities, and to give them the same opportunities that Michael kind of had when he first -- you know, when we first diagnosed that he had autism. And right now, we're just trying to make biggest effect as we can on communities with kids with developmental disabilities and helping them through life.
WIRE: When you see some of the great works that your foundation that you have there with your wife, and you're able to give back and you're able to inspire others, what does that mean to you?
MARINO: As you know, I'll tell you what, Coy. It is such a great feeling when you see that you're making a difference in the community, and you're making a difference in your families, in their children's lives. You know, I know we've been -- Claire and I and our family have been very fortunate. Michael has done great. You know, he's married now, he's living on his own, you know, he's got a job, he's working and all the great things that happened to us. So when you see a family or a child and they come up to you and they say, hey, you know, our center, our school, things we've done in the community really has changed our lives, man, it just gives me chills, and it makes me, you know, feel so proud to be a part of what we've been able to do as a foundation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: Susan Morantes with the Dan Marino Foundation tells me they've raised nearly $90 million to date. And for their efforts, Marino recently became one of more than 1,200 former and current players awarded grants from the NFL through its inspired change initiative.