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New Day Saturday

Afghans Desperate To Leave Afghanistan; Fight Over Mask Mandates Continues In Several States As Cases Surge; Former Aide To Ghani Describes Final Days Before Ouster; U.S. Scrambles To Evacuate Americans Amid Afghan Allies; Northeast U.S. To See Storm Surges, Heavy Rains Due To Henri; Controversial Review Of Fulton County, GA Elections Advances. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired August 21, 2021 - 07:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. Listen, we are tracking Henri this morning. The tropical storms expected to reach hurricane strength before it makes landfall in northeast. We'll talk live to the FEMA Administrator about the potential impacts and what the federal government is doing right now.

SANCHEZ: Plus, imminent approval. A source telling CNN the Pfizer vaccine could get full approval as soon as next week. What that could mean for efforts to get more Americans vaccinated as hospitalizations among kids reach their highest levels yet.

PAUL: And desperate to leave. Look at these pictures here. Thousands of Afghans camped out at the airport in Kabul begging for a flight out of the country. What we're learning this morning about those evacuation flights and the efforts to get Americans back home.

SANCHEZ: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. We're grateful to have you this Saturday, August 21st. Good morning, Christi.

PAUL: Good morning, Boris. Good to see you. Listen, this morning, there are more than five million Americans in the northeast that are getting ready for what could be the first hurricane to hit New England in 30 years.

It's a tropical storm right now; warnings for that have been issued from New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, both declaring states of emergency as they prep for the storm.

SANCHEZ: Henri is expected to reach hurricane strength later today. It's likely to make landfall on New York's Long Island by mid-day Sunday. Let's get straight to the forecast and meteorologist Allison Chinchar, who's live in the CNN Weather Center. She's tracking Henri's path. Ellison, what's the latest? ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, so right now we've got some Hurricane Hunters out there, and we'll get this next update coming up in just less than an hour. But for right now, sustained winds 70 miles per hour, gusting up to 85. As we mentioned, we've got not one but two hurricane hunter flights out investigating the storm, trying to figure out what it's doing.

The atmosphere that surrounds it, is it conducive for it strengthening, is it not? They just measured the wind about 66 miles per hour. So, very close to what the maximum sustained wind is for this particular storm. The question is what is it going to do really in the next 24 hours? Because 24 hours from now, regardless if it's made landfall yet or not, you're really going to start to see some of those big impacts for states such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and even New York.

Then it starts to make a very sharp turn off to the east. But the question becomes when does it make that term? Because that will have implications for places like Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, interior areas that could end up getting some more rain. But along the coast storm surge is certainly going to be the biggest concern, the red area here that includes New Haven, Nantucket, even around Providence about three to five feet of storm surge.

Keep in mind high tide for tomorrow is expected to be pretty close to that landfall time. But also guys, power outages, we are expecting some widespread power outages starting tomorrow, that could linger for several days after.

SANCHEZ: We'll keep watching it. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much. Of course we're going to be following the storm all morning and later this hour, we're going to speak with the Administrator of FEMA about what the federal government is doing to prepare for Henri.

PAUL: Let's talk about the pandemic right now. The Delta variant is fueling this surge of Coronavirus cases across the nation. Officials say, one in five hospital ICUs now has at least 95 percent of beds occupied. All of this as the rates of hospitalizations for children and young adults are at their highest levels we've seen.

SANCHEZ: In Florida, the situation is so dire there is one Mayor that's asking residents to conserve water because liquid oxygen that's used to treat the community's water supply is needed to treat the surge. CNN's Nadia Romero is live from Miami. And Nadia cases are skyrocketing across the country, but Florida in particular is being hit especially hard, the rate of COVID hospitalizations, there is almost three times the national average.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris, and we've seen that really since mid-June, those numbers skyrocketing with hospitalizations all across the state. And we're seeing ICU beds fill up across the country but the world Have it in the southern states being filled with people who are unvaccinated. So, we're learning more from a senior federal official who says that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could get FDA approval as soon as Monday. And that's big news for people who are on the frontlines of battling COVID-19. [07:05:18]

I spoke with the emergency room doctor in Jacksonville just last week about this FDA approval that's pending. And he says that this could be something that he would put in his toolbox, when he's going up against people who don't want to get the vaccine. But he also said to me, you know what, Nadia, we're, we're facing disinformation. That's what we have to deal with all across social media; people who believe TikTok videos over him in his white coat and his many years of experience.

And so, those ICU beds are filling up and at that particular hospital, they have an overflow hospital outside a mobile unit, just in case. And here in Florida and in Texas, where they have some of the highest numbers, the governors are pushing for people to take antibody treatments. But that's a reactive measure. It's only for if you have COVID-19.

When it comes to being proactive and limiting the spread with mask mandates, the vaccine, social distancing; those governors are not supporting mass mandates. And we're seeing that here in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, telling school districts that he doesn't support mass mandates in Georgia with Governor Brian Kemp he had an executive order, giving businesses a pass telling them that they don't have to follow any COVID restrictions. And we're seeing that across the southern states. Boris and Christi.

PAUL: Nadia Romero, we appreciate the update. Thank you, ma'am.

So, Cardiologist Dr. Bernard Ashby is with us now. He's also the Florida State lead for the Committee to Protect Medicare. Good morning, so much. Dr. Glad to have you back with us. I want to get your thoughts first of all on this news that the Pfizer vaccine could get full approval by Monday. Do you think that could entice people or, or convince people who have real trepidations that they could get the vaccine.

DR. BERNARD ASHBY, CARDIOLOGIST: Morning. And that is great news. The fact that Pfizer is finally going to get FDA approval, something that we physicians in the medical community thought that was long overdue. I mean, we have literally millions of folks who have gotten the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and the real world, the real world experience has largely been in line with the clinical trials, the phase three clinical trials that were done, and the safety and efficacy has stood up even against the variance.

And so the fact that we're going to have approval by Monday, I hope should change a lot of folks minds and allow them to finally get the vaccine.

PAUL: I wanted to ask you too about this news that the U.S. is reviewing whether the Moderna vaccine is linked to higher risk of uncommon side effects than previously thought? Again, that's the belief we don't know for sure, but we know the Washington Post is reporting that the Moderna has been linked to that myocarditis, particularly in younger adults. What are your thoughts on that? And how are you advising younger people who want to get vaccinated. ASHBY: So, that's, that's actually not surprising, given the fact that Moderna, if you look at the dosage of the actual vaccine it is higher than Pfizer. And there is a trend now that actually shows that Moderna has slightly better effectiveness in the real world than Pfizer. And so, there's essentially a trade off.

Now, if you're older patient with multiple risk factors, and consider highly vulnerable, Moderna is a better choice for you. If you're younger, and no risk factors, otherwise, otherwise healthy, Pfizer will likely be a better choice, given the fact that you have a lower dose, and you're not as high or higher risk.

But just to be clear, you do not want to get the virus your chances of getting microdots with the actual virus, which is inevitable at this point is roughly 10 times higher. So we have to frame this in the context of what's going on in the real world. But you know, again, if you're younger, Pfizer's probably better because a better idea versus a Moderna. And if you're older, Moderna, for sure.

PAUL: And just to clarify what you just said, you're more likely to get myocarditis from the back from the virus than you are from a vaccine.

ASHBY: Yes, every single thing that you see in the vaccine, you could multiply that by a factor of five. And that's what you're going to get, especial with the Delta variant.

PAUL: OK. OK, so I want to ask you then about the boosters because there's been a lot of questions about this. We know President Biden and the First Lady have said that they will get their boosters when they're available. It's expected they'll be available in the fall. A lot of people have said to me, what is the booster? Is the booster just simply a third dose of the vaccine? Or is it some sort of modified shot, to that you say what?

ASHBY: The booster is, is the actual vaccine that there's really no difference in the formulation from the priority doses of the Pfizer or the Moderna versus the booster. And essentially, what you're doing is boosting your immunity, more specifically, your antibody response. And we know that surely after the vaccine within the first three to six months, that's when your antibody levels are the highest.


But I want to make one thing clear, the vaccines are very effective. The New England Journal of Medicine, recently published a study looking at the Pfizer vaccine in the contents of the Delta variant. And it shows that 80 percent of those subjects in that study had no symptoms of COVID-19 at all. So, that is extremely high. And if you remember when we were talking about the vaccine effectiveness and what the threshold was, Dr. Fauci said anything, essentially, above 70 percent was, you know, effective.

And we're at 88 percent threshold, so these vaccines are outstanding, and we have to really, again, contextualize this before we make any conclusions that the vaccines aren't doing what we expected them to do in real world.

PAUL: Yes, yes. Sound advice there, Dr. Bernard Ashby, we hope that everything is going well for you. We know how overrun some of these hospitals are. We hope you and your team are well, thank you so much.

ASHBY: My pleasure.

PAUL: Well, the President of Afghanistan was no different than thousands of Afghans who wanted to leave after the Taliban took control exclusive details for you. Yes, so how the now former leader Ashraf Ghani got out of his country.

SANCHEZ: And later, we'll find out how FEMA is getting ready to help the millions in the path of Henri, which could become the first hurricane to hit New England in 30 years.



SANCHEZ: We are learning more about the chaotic situation in Afghanistan where thousands of Afghan citizens are trying desperately to get out of that country. A source telling CNN there are now 14,000 people at the airport in Kabul.

PAUL: And the U.S. is scrambling to find more evacuation sites where they can take them. President Biden's Valley to get Americans and Afghans who helped the us out of the country but US officials just aren't sure how many Americans are still in Afghanistan.

SANCHEZ: Let's go live to CNN International Security Editor Nick Paton Walsh he joins us from Doha, Qatar. Nick among those who did make it out is the Former President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani. You've done some great reporting on his exit from Afghanistan, the behind the scenes moments that took place before he fled the country, including the role of an al-Qaeda affiliated character in all of this.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is utterly startling so many have been asking quite whatever happens former now President Ashraf Ghani when he disappeared without notice. I spoke to a senior formal official who told me one thing that I will never be able to forget, somebody called Khalid al Haqqani, essentially a negotiator for the Taliban, part of the Haqqani family who are affiliated with al-Qaeda, he was the guy who went to the Afghan government's national security adviser and said, you guys have to surrender.

You have to hand over the reins of power peacefully. And hours later. That's what they did. Here's what I found out.


WALSH: They were the final days of the Afghan government. Kandahar falling Kabul on the edge, and then suddenly the Taliban in the presidential palace. Now a former senior garni administration official has given CNN for the first time their detailed account of what happened. Before the president the official said fled to Termez in Uzbekistan for one night and then on to Dubai, where he is now.

There was no money with him. The official said, he literally just had the clothes he was wearing.

But why did the collapse happen so fast? First, the official said that underestimated the local and tribal political deals the Taliban made to ease their advance and hoped under American advice to fall back consolidate in cities, but cities like the vital Kandahar fell before they could.

He said that underestimated to the effect the US withdrawal would have on morale. As Kabul began to look precarious, the US helped focus on negotiated settlement that would lead to Garni. stepping aside and transition, the president agreed to leave to ensure peace. The official said the concern was war inside a city of 6 million people. We knew that if Ghani left the guns would be silent.

Talks were meant for Monday and Qatar. But on Sunday, the Taliban hit Kabul's outskirts, then, Gandhi's National Security Adviser got the final demand to surrender from a man the U.S. wanted as a terrorist Khalid al-Haqqani, from a network affiliated with al-Qaeda. Haqqani, a long term Taliban negotiator wanted a peaceful transfer of power, and the government should issue a statement of surrender.

But Ghani fled, and the official insists there was no single scapegoat here, because the process was never fully controlled by Afghans in the first place. So, just remember that particular moment, the time when the Taliban said to the government, the U.S. has been supporting all this time get out of town, that message was delivered by somebody very close, if not part of al-Qaeda, a wanted terrorists in the United States.

The reason the U.S. came here, potentially the man who turned around and said it was time for the government to leave. Situation on the airport though is what has everybody deeply concerned at the moment you heard earlier 14,000 on there, that is possibly untold bias or to close the situation because for few days, essentially there was no filtration system people were allowed in for humanitarian reasons.

We've seen those pictures now they're beginning to filter a little more carefully. Possibly Qatar taking more Kuwait taking people if they're on the way to America, we're seeing people going to Germany, the U.S. has greater capacity to move these people on.

But basic math tells you there's about 30 plus plane loads of Afghans trying to get out on that airport right now. That's two, three days- worth of flights. The source also said people are beginning to wonder quite how long this is going to go on for. It's indefinite.

Really, the Americans don't know that. President Biden doesn't know how many Americans are still in Afghanistan take out there the priority the number of Allied Afghans could be in the 10s of thousands. How long could this go on for the source I spoke to said they're wondering really whether they have a week of this success, America's own enemy more come failure, people panic and try and be a deadline? It's lose-lose either way, awful scenes. [07:20:58]

SANCHEZ: Indeed, we know you'll keep watching it for us Nick Paton Walsh from Qatar, thank you so much. Let's dig deeper with CNN Political Analyst Josh Rogin. He's also a columnist with the Washington Post who has written extensively on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Josh, we appreciate you sharing part of your weekend with us. Let's start with that detail from Nick Paton Walsh that it was apparently an al-Qaeda affiliated wanted terrorist who knocked on the door of the presidential palace in Kabul and essentially said to the associates of the former president of Afghanistan, you have to get out.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, this is shocking, but not surprising. The Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban have been working together this whole time with a lot of support from elements of the Pakistani security state. And we had reporting just last night that the Guardian network, which again is a designated foreign terrorist organization, led by terrorists has been placed in charge of security in Kabul.

In other words, there are terrorists in charge of policing the streets of Kabul, under the Taliban government right now. So that just puts the lie to this idea that you've heard that, oh, the Taliban are going to fight the terrorists or that, oh, they're even going to disassociate themselves from terrorists or even that Kabul will become a place where we don't have a terrorist threat as or that al-Qaeda has gotten, like Joe Biden said yesterday, because on the ground is Nick Paton Wash wants to just report it.

That's just not the case. The terrorists are everywhere. There are lots of different kinds of terrorists. They're not all the same. But the Taliban is friends with all of them. It seems,

SANCHEZ: Josh, it's not the first time that we've seen this White House have some dissonance from what we're hearing, not only from our reporters on the ground, but even from other members of the bind administration. You noted the disconnect between President Biden saying al Qaeda is gone in Afghanistan to the news that we're getting further a few weeks ago, him saying that the fall of the Afghan government was not inevitable to yesterday saying that chaos was inevitable in a U.S. withdraw. What is the disconnect here? Is it an intelligence failure or a messaging issue?

ROGIN: Both. I mean, I think First we have the intelligence failure, obviously. And now we have a messaging issue. In other words, the Biden team and the White House, if you just see what they're focused on, they're focused on the narrative. They're focused on spinning this disaster to avert blame. And inside the Biden administration, they're all focused on blaming each other.

It's a circular firing squad and the military and the intelligence community and the State Department of the NSC are all leaking against each other to any Washington reporter who will listen and none of that has anything to do with what's going on in Kabul, which is a humanitarian crisis that's getting worse, by the way.

So, yes, I think there's a lot of focus on the politics and on the messaging. And the Biden team is very concerned about getting blamed for all of this. But, you know, meanwhile, the situation in the airport is still horrendous. And meanwhile, the 10s of thousands of Afghans and Americans who can't get to the airport are hiding, as Taliban gangs roam the street and terrorist gangs were on the street, looking to find them and murder them.

And that seems to me to be a little bit more important right now, then, you know, who inside the Biden administration said what. It's actually kind of shocking to watch the President of the United States, Joe Biden, say things that are clearly not true, because and the way we know they're not true is because of the brave reporting of Clarissa Ward and others who are at the airport showing us that it's not true.

And we don't know if that's because Biden is spinning or because he doesn't have the right information. Either way, that's pretty bad. But we'll have plenty of time later to review how we got into this mess. The patient's still on the operating table. The crisis is still ongoing right now, that has to be their first priority in my view.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And Josh, let's talk about the ramifications beyond terrorism and beyond the, the crisis that we're watching unfold in Afghanistan, because you wrote an op-ed this week that points out the enormous impact this has on credibility for the United States.

He wrote, in part: "The problem with Biden's cold national interest calculation is Afghanistan does not exist in a vacuum. Afghanistan's reversion to a state ruled by brutal fanatics is not just a problem for Afghanistan and the sad turn of events there will reverberate around the globe."

President Biden went into office talking about the 21st century being a competition between autocracies and democracies, and the autocracies in China and Russia are watching this, and gladly using the last week's images as propaganda.


ROGIN: Well, that's right. I mean, it's not just devastating for the Afghan people what's going on right now, although that's the -- should be in, well, should be, should continue to be the primary concern. Of course, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the bungled nature of it, the real disaster of lack of planning and lack of execution shows the world that America can't even retreat competently, OK.

It's one thing not to be able to win the war, it's another thing to trip over yourself on the way out the door, and, and people are going to die because of that. And that's, that was avoidable, and that's shameful. More broadly, China and Russia will, of course, use this to not only portray the United States as a empire in decline, but to fill the void.

And you see that already. They're, they're hardening and strengthening their relationship with the Taliban, which is odd if you think about it, because China's committing a genocide against Muslims, but they didn't even care. They're going to make friends with the Taliban, because they're both dictatorships, because they're both thuggish regimes that are aligned against us.

And for all of our Western allies, who we sort of thrown under the bus and for all of our Afghan allies who are begging us to save, save them and waiting for us to save them. It just sends a message to every other group around the world that, you know, the United States might tell you for a while that they believe in things like human rights and democracy and freedom in women's rights. But at some point, they might pull the rug out from under you and then ask you why you fell down.

SANCHEZ: We have to leave it there. Josh Rogin, thanks so much for the time.

ROGIN: Thank you.

PAUL: Tropical Storm Henri is churning slowly toward New England. We're talking to the Administrator of FEMA about what the federal government's doing right now to get ready for this.



PAUL (on camera): Governors in both Massachusetts and Connecticut have declared a state of emergency, they've activated portions of their National Guard as Tropical Storm Henri is approaching New England.

It's expected to become a hurricane later today. It could bring life- threatening storm surges, flooding, heavy rains to the region.

The Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA is with us now. Deanne Criswell, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

Let me ask you, first and foremost, we know this is expected to be a pretty expansive target. I mean, they're talking about from New York City through Cape Cod, all of Long Island, and New England. What are you doing right now to secure resources to help them when this hits?

DEANNE CRISWELL, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Christi, thanks so much for having me on this morning.

We've been watching Tropical Storm Henri for several days. And we have been in contact with all of the states that are in the path of this storm. And we know what their preparedness actions are, and we've also begun moving resources into the area -- or they're already in the area.

Things like food, and water, generators. I mean, some of our incident management assistance teams to help lead the coordination after the threat has passed. We have strategically placed across the region so we can respond quickly after the storm has passed.

PAUL: The thing that is striking about this, too, is the fact that Long Island haven't seen a hurricane since 1985. The first one in many areas where they were even talking about they haven't seen anything since the 50s and 60s.

So, the devastation of this impact when you look at that map could be really substantial at the end of the day. What is your sense of the expected level of damage?

CRISWELL: We need to take this storm very seriously. Even if it doesn't make landfall as a hurricane, the tropical force winds and the storm surge can cause significant damage.

And we're also looking at a region that has experienced a lot of rainfall over the last several weeks. And so, the ground is saturated. So, we're going to see power outages, we're going to see downed trees. And even after the storm has passed, the threat of falling trees and limbs is still out there.

And so, I encourage everybody, make sure that you're aware of your surroundings, listen to your local officials and what advice they are giving you to take.

PAUL: Do you anticipate evacuations?

CRISWELL: At this point, I don't anticipate evacuations. But again, it's important for everybody to listen to their local officials and the direction that they're going to give them. They're going to have the best information on what they want you to do.

PAUL: What are local affiliates telling you about evacuation routes if there needs to be some or we know how they're advising people right now, and the timeline of when that could change? What do they have to see to change their advisory -- their advisements?

CRISWELL: You know where we're at with the storm track right now since it's going to come in tomorrow. Right now, the best advice is to again, is to shelter in place.

I don't anticipate evacuations from this storm. So, make sure that you have the supplies you need to stay at home until the threat has passed. And once it has, check on your neighbors, check on your family and your loved ones make sure that they are OK.

PAUL: You know, between this pandemic and the -- and the flooding on the east coast, and the wildfires, I cannot imagine what kind of a year it has been for you and your teams there. What kind of impact does that have on response to Henri?

CRISWELL: You know, our team has been working hard throughout this pandemic, hurricanes before that, and last year with a record-setting wildfire season and hurricanes. But they're strong, they are committed to helping people before, during, and after disasters.


CRISWELL: We've made sure that we've given everybody some time to rest and reset, and we are ready to respond to this event. PAUL: Administrator Deanne Chriswell, we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today. Please take good care of you and your teams. Thank you.

CRISWELL: Thank you, Christi. Stay safe.

PAUL: You, as well.

SANCHEZ (on camera): Up next, the fight over voting rights. Why the most populous county in Georgia is once again being investigated for alleged voter fraud in the last election. We'll speak to an expert ahead.



PAUL: 40 minutes past the hour right now, the Texas House Democrats' 38 day-long quorum break ended this week opening the door for Republicans to pass restrictive voting legislation.

Now, at least three Democrats returned to the state House floor unexpectedly, on Thursday, citing the need to manage Texas's COVID search. Some of their fellow lawmakers who fled the state last month say they feel betrayed now the Republican House Speaker praised the move.


REP. DADE PHELAN (R-TX): This has been a very long summer. We've been through a lot. I appreciate you all being here. I appreciate the members who made quorum today. It's time to get back to the business. The people of Texas.


PAUL: The civil arrest warrants issued for 52 House Democrats been canceled now that they've reached a quorum.

SANCHEZ: Debate over voting rights also heating up in Georgia this week, where a controversial new law has forced the state election board to set up a panel that will review local election systems.

Their first order of business is a review of Fulton County, a Democratic stronghold, and the state's most populous county. Now, some voting rights activists are warning the review is simply an attempt to intimidate and limit the will of voters.

Joining us now, the chairman of Fulton County Board of Commissioners Rob Pitts. Good morning, Rob, we appreciate you spending part of your weekend with us.

State, local, federal officials of all political backgrounds have said again and again, there was no widespread evidence of voter fraud in Georgia or anywhere else in the 2020 election. So, why are these officials focused on Fulton County? ROBB PITTS, CHAIRMAN, FULTON COUNTY COMMISSION: That's a great question. And the only -- the only possible explanation is that those conspiracy theorists are trying to curry favor with former President Donald Trump.

The 2020 elections are over. The votes have been counted in Georgia three times. Not one, not two, three times. One time by hand, results are almost identical every time. So -- and election has been set of certified.

So, if that's the case, what is this all about? Well, let me tell you what it's all about. It's all about the big lie, and preparing voters for the 2022 elections.

So, if they can continue to sow doubt, any doubt in the minds of voters, they think that that's going to be there to their advantage in 2022. And also in 2024, when it's expected that former President Trump will try to make a return.

Now, what happened here in Georgia, our secretary of state fell out of favor with President Trump. And so, he is trying to do everything he can to curry favor with Trump, and his in that crowd now.

Because after go back to 2020, once again -- after the 2020 elections, he praised Fulton County for a job well done. So, what's happened from 2020 when he prays us to where we are now? The only thing that's happened, he's fallen out of favor, with the Trump in that crowd, now, he's trying to do everything he can to appease former President Trump and the followers of the big lies, as simple as that.

SANCHEZ: So, Robb, this three-person panel that's been appointed has one Democrat, one Republican, and an official from the Republican secretary of state's office.


SANCHEZ: I'm wondering how confident you are that the panel is going to be impartial and do right by your voters?

PITTS: Well, technically, there's probably two Republicans and one Democrat. And I don't know them personally, but I'm hoping that they will -- that they are good people. And we'll look at the facts and based wherever they've come up with solely and (INAUDIBLE) on the facts that they find.

And I am confident that they are not going to find any evidence of any orchestrated effort to defraud the people, and the voters of Fulton County, none whatsoever.

In fact, I have challenged then-President Trump, secretary of state, and anybody else who have said and continued to say, proponents of this big lie that there was total fraud and chaos with respect to the Fulton County elections, is not true.

So, if you have something, any evidence whatsoever, bring it to me, and I will personally look into it. As of this morning, no one -- no one has come forward with any credible evidence.

And I've been involved in a lot of elections. There is no such thing as a perfect election. So, you've make adjustments as you go along, and that's what we're doing. We're always trying to improve and that's what we will continue to do.

We have municipal elections coming up in November, but the big one is going to be in 2022 when we will have the eyes and ears of the world, and once again, beyond the State of Georgia and Fulton County.


PITTS: Because Fulton County, we're the largest county in the state of Georgia, probably the most democratic. And if you look at the metropolitan Atlanta area, the five counties, we make up approximately 40 percent of the population, and thereby the voters of the State of Georgia, heavily democratic.

So, that's why there's so much emphasis and attention being placed upon Fulton County in particular. But, let me just tell you this, they picked on the wrong county because I want to fight and I will be joined shoulder to shoulder by many other organizations and surrounding counties in this fight.

We know that our elections once again, they were open, they were fair, and they were transparent.

SANCHEZ: And Robb, do you think there's a racial component to this?

PITTS: I wouldn't necessarily say racial, but there is clearly a partisan relation to it. And that's the unfortunate thing. This is partisan politics at its worst, because there is nothing here, again, I've challenged him. If you have something, bring it to me.

If you do not put up or shut up, even this are -- one of our Georgia representatives -- this woman, Representative Margie or Marjorie Taylor Greene and Gaetz from Florida, they are sticking their noses in the Fulton County business.

Have nothing to do with Fulton County. I told him to stay the hell out of Fulton County, you have nothing to do with that. We can take care of our own business here. Our elections were fair, open, and we're transparent, and that's exactly what we're preparing for in our November elections in the next year.

Because keep, keep in mind. This area here, Fulton County, the DeKalb County, Clayton County, Gwinnett. County in Cobb County, again, we represent some 40 percent of the population of the State of Georgia. And we were responsible, quite frankly, for the election of President Biden and clearly senators, Ossoff and Warnock.

And next year, yes, and the eyes and ears of the world will be focused on the State of Georgia and Fulton County, in particular, with respect to the reelection of Senator Warnock.

We're prepared for the fight and we shouldn't have to. But think about it. Nine months later, we're still here dealing with this big lie trying to justify when even the former -- the secretary of state's own person, this Carter Jones that he put in to monitor our elections. And his report concluded that there was no malfeasance, no wrongdoing whatsoever with respect to the elections in Fulton County.

So, that being the case, what is this all about? Pure partisan politics. We won, they lost.

SANCHEZ: It is really curious that the Georgia secretary of state praised Fulton County, and then, the first order of business for this state-mandated election review board is to review the results in Fulton County when they have been reviewed now, as you noted, multiple times, and there is no evidence of widespread fraud whatsoever.

Robb Pitts, we appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.

PITTS: Thank you for having me.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

PAUL: So, we've got Bruce Springsteen, Wyclef Jean, Jennifer Hudson. Just some of the stars playing it tonight's We love New York concert. And a preview for you next.


GIL WILLIAMS, FAN OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Hi, I'm Gil Williams, and I'm a Bruce Springsteen superfan, and this is how I follow his music.

First concert was on the eve of my 21st birthday, 1981 and that was at Wembley Stadium, and it was just awesome. And that was it. I was hooked and I haven't missed a tour since.

Living in New Zealand, I traveled to New Jersey to see him. So, that was probably the furthest I've been to see him. This was over 20 hours traveling. It was worth it.

Wherever he goes, I'll be there. It was the Christchurch show, 2017. I've been waiting 36 years to get up on stage. He picked somebody up and next minute he was like, and I was like, yes!

And we had a very long hug. It was fantastic. I can die happy now.




SANCHEZ: Excitement is building as New York gets ready to celebrate its comeback from the coronavirus. 20 performers, including Christi's beloved Barry Manilow, are going to take the stage at the star-studded We Love New York City: The Homecoming Concert.

PAUL: He does not lie. I did. That is what I said.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is near New York Central Park where the concert's taking place.

I don't think you knew who -- you didn't know what song I was talking about. Did you and I apologize for putting you on the spot? I am showing my age, Shimon.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN'S CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER (on camera): No. I mean, I know Barry Manilow but you're probably right.


PAUL: Yes.

PROKUPECZ: I didn't know exactly the song you were referring to. So, you know for me like towards (INAUDIBLE), even Jennifer (INAUDIBLE) to be really, really exciting. When you think -- out here. Bruce Springsteen -- a big one.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): They're expecting about 60,000 people here. 80 percent of this -- so, who are going to be attending are here for free. They were able to get tickets online and obviously, 20 percent are some very expensive tickets in VIP areas.

I want to show you the stage as they prepare here. -- down checks later this morning -- was getting going here.

PROKUPECZ (on camera): The staff is starting to arrive. You could see the big NYC's -- up just beautifully. And it's really going to be just a really beautiful, beautiful day here as well. It's hot, it's humid right now, but it's going to be jam-packed as this day continues.

People will start streaming in, a lot of excitement here certainly for this as this is one of the key things to show that New York City is back and things that hopefully at some point can really get back to normal.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and what you can do if you've been vaccinated, right? Be outdoors.


PROKUPECZ: That's right.

SANCHEZ: And get around other vaccinated people and celebrate. Shimon Prokupecz from Central Park. Thank you so much.



SANCHEZ: Christi, I'm more of a Copacabana guy myself.

PAUL: Oh, well, that too. There's not a song by Manilow that I don't like. I will admit it. I will admit it. And -- but I mean music is so healing too. So, this is look at --

SANCHEZ: Right. PAUL: Shimon just going -- well, what are we doing? Are we done? Can I -- can I go get some breakfast or something? I going, Shimon, I know, it's going to be a long day. Thank you so much.

PROKUPECZ: No. No, no, no, I wasn't sure we were done. I'm so -- I'm so excited. And you think about like everything that's happening here. I --


PAUL: Yes. I know.

SANCHEZ: Waxing poetic about Barry Manilow from Central Park.

PAUL: I know. But the music is healing, and people just want to get out there and experience it again. Shimon, thank you so much. Good to see you.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Shimon.

PAUL: Listen, we're moments away from the next advisory from the National Hurricane Center regarding that big blob of red you see on your screen there, Henri.

This is a storm slowly marching toward the northeast coast. If you got to look at the track how cities in its path a preparing next.