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The Situation Room
Rudy Giuliani Breaks His Silence on Raid of Home and Office; Biden Travels to Georgia to Sell Ambitious Agenda on His 100th Day in Office; Interview with Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) about Biden's Multitrillion-Dollar Plans; Sheriff's Office Releases Names of Deputies Involved in Fatal Shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.; COVID Crisis Overwhelms India; U.S. Investigating Possible Mysterious Directed Energy Attack Near White House; Biden: "I Don't Think the American People Are Racist". Aired 6-7p ET
Aired April 29, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And that Kimmel boy just had his birthday.
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Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, Rudy Giuliani breaking his silence about the federal raid on his home and office, denying any wrongdoing. This, as we're learning that federal authorities now expect Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer to fight in court over the files seized during the search.
Also, this hour, President Biden is making a tough sales pitch in the south on his 100th day in office. He's in Georgia, seeking support for his multitrillion dollar plan to transform government and equalize the economy. I'll ask a key House Democratic leader if Biden's massive agenda can get through Congress.
We're also following the apocalyptic COVID-19 outbreak in India right now. It's truly awful what's going on. CNN is on the scene as mass cremations are happening around the clock. The country reeling from the worst day of the pandemic with record cases and deaths.
First, let's go to our senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid. She's keeping track of all the late-breaking developments, and there are many, in the Rudy Giuliani investigation.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, Rudy Giuliani is speaking out for the first time since federal agents raided his home and office Wednesday. On his radio show, he denied any wrongdoing.
RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: The search warrant is one act of failing to register as a foreign -- failing to file as a foreign agent, which is completely false, which I have been able and I'm ready, willing and able, to prove is not true for the last two years, which the Justice Department ignored. And it involves my -- they think representing Ukrainians.
Wow, what a beautiful day. Thank you.
REID: Federal investigators executed multiple search warrants on Giuliani Wednesday, seeking evidence for their probe into potential foreign lobbying violations. The more than two-year investigation is focused on his activities in Ukraine, though at times in the past has included some questions on Giuliani's work in other countries. An attorney for the former mayor said the search warrant sought electronic devices.
Agents retrieved a computer of Giuliani's assistant and a related search warrant was also executed at the home of Giuliani ally and lawyer Victoria Toensing. Her phone was seized by agents. An attorney for Giuliani tells CNN that the search warrant sought communications between Giuliani and other individuals, including right-wing columnist John Solomon. Solomon wrote op-eds for "The Hill" about many of the pro-Trump and anti-Biden conspiracy theories that were peddled by Giuliani and his Ukrainian allies. After a review, "The Hill" found flaws in Solomon's columns on Ukraine including a failure to provide key disclosures.
Former President Trump also weighed in on the investigation into his longtime friend and personal attorney today.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He just loves this country, and they raid his apartment. It's like so unfair and such a double -- it's like a double standard. Like, I don't think anybody's ever seen before. It's very, very unfair.
REID: But this has happened before to his other personal attorney Michael Cohen, whose office was raided in 2018 as part of a criminal investigation. Cohen eventually spent one year in jail. And today he told CNN Giuliani knows exactly what to expect.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: He knows exactly what's coming down the road. He knows how to avoid what the ultimate consequence is going to be. And I believe that he's going to start -- he's going to start talking one, two, three.
REID: President Joe Biden revealed today he did not get a heads-up on the raids.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I made a pledge. I would not interfere in any way, order or try to stop any investigation the Justice Department has underway. I learned about that last night when the rest of the world learned about it. My word, I had no idea this was underway.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
REID: Now that federal authorities have those electronic devices, Giuliani's attorney has signaled he will fight the Justice Department over what he says are materials on those devices that are covered by attorney-client privilege. As CNN has also learned that Giuliani's assistant received a subpoena to appear before a grand jury next month, signaling this investigation is far from over -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Seems to be expanding pretty dramatically. Paul Reid reporting for us. Thank you very much.
Let's get analysis from our chief national correspondent, John King, CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel, and the state attorney for Palm Beach County in Florida, Dave Aronberg.
John, the fact that Giuliani intends to put up a fight over these seized files should not necessarily come as much of a surprise. He is nothing if not litigious.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is. And we watched through four years of the Trump administration, whether it was Congress asking for witnesses, or Congress asking for documents, the special counsel asking for things, many of these cases went all the way to the Supreme Court, some of them are still unresolved.
Look, Rudy Giuliani has every right to fight, fight the case and fight the subpoenas whatever in court. He is an attorney, so there will be a special panel set up, Wolf. You know the complications here. There'll be a special panel set up, not of investigators on the actual case to go through these materials to try to separate this is evidence, this we can look at, this is attorney-client privilege, we can't.
But the fact that Rudy Giuliani is going to bring in lawyers to fight this as hard and as long and as high up the chain as he can, no, that's no surprise at all. This will go on for a long time and it will get bloody.
BLITZER: I'm sure it will. You know, Dave, is a legal fight like this something authorities, the federal authorities would have been prepared before for actually going out and raiding his home and office, especially since he's an attorney, a very high profile one?
DAVID ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Yes, Wolf, good evening. The federal prosecutors have what's called a taint team for matters like this, which reviews the documents seized from a lawyer to make sure there's no attorney-client privilege involved. So they're ready for this. Plus, to even get the search warrant, it can't be based on a hunch or a fishing expedition. You've got to have probable cause that a crime has occurred and that the evidence, the items you're seeking contain evidence of that crime.
A federal judge has to sign off on it. And so, when Rudy is complaining that politics were involved, maybe they were but only in the sense that when Bill Barr was the attorney general, they didn't want these search warrants to see the light of day. That's why this whole took so song. So, yes, maybe politics were involved, but not now. Right now, it's called justice.
BLITZER: You know, Jamie, the former president coming out in defense of Giuliani today, their friendship and their loyalty to each other seems to be well known. It's certainly weathered a lot already, hasn't it?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. And I think that alarm bells are going off down at Mar-a-Lago. Look, there is no evidence that this particular case against Rudy Giuliani will lead to Donald Trump, but it does bring it to the doorstep of the Trump inner circle. And you have to wonder as we heard from Michael Cohen, another lawyer of Donald Trump's who went to jail, if these charges are -- if charges are made, if the case goes forward, if there is pressure on Rudy Giuliani, if he is afraid that he is going to be seeing jail time, then is he going to make a deal? And I think it also has to worry Donald Trump that the -- this Justice Department is willing to come after his lawyer.
BLITZER: Yes. I'm sure it does. You know, John, you and I spoke about all of this last night, but this is really just the latest chapter in a series of bizarre chapters in the life of the man who was once formerly known as America's mayor after 9/11 when he was mayor of New York City.
KING: A man who began his political identity, established his political identity as a tough on crime federal prosecutor, he's now under investigation by the very same U.S. attorney's office he once led. It was when he was U.S. attorney, Rudy Giuliani, that was his springboard to the mayorship. And you're right, he became America's mayor after 9/11. And he was an icon, not just in the United States but around the world.
But now he has become something else, a central figure in what is just a giant ethical stain on the Trump presidency. As this was playing out, we'll see where the legal questions go. And Rudy Giuliani, again, he's innocent until proven guilty. He has every right to fight this through the courts.
But this was public, Wolf. We knew he was associating with Ukrainians with Kremlin ties at the very same time he was President Trump's personal lawyer. Right there, any other president would have said, stop, stop, you can make a choice, you're either my lawyer or you do that business, you don't do both. Donald Trump didn't. He kept Rudy Giuliani on until the end. Rudy Giuliani was his partner and still is in the big lies about what happened in the election.
So this was Donald Trump's choice and now he will -- we'll see what happens in the end, but he is Velcroed to Rudy Giuliani. You can't separate that.
BLITZER: How likely is it, Dave, that Giuliani is actually the big fish in this scenario, or could this be a move to get him to eventually cooperate and share information about someone even bigger? ARONBERG: Wolf, Rudy Giuliani does not want to be Michael Cohen 2.0,
who got a 36-month prison sentence for his actions involving Stormy Daniels. He also had his home raided, which is funny that Trump said I've never seen this before. Well, his own lawyer prior to Rudy Giuliani had the same thing happen to him.
The problem for Rudy is that his main defense here is that he was working on behalf of Donald Trump, not for an interest. But Trump has said that Rudy was never working for him when it comes to Ukraine. And if he did work for Donald Trump on Ukraine, that would open up a whole new can of worms where he could be violating federal campaign finance laws, like his buddies Lev and Igor who are awaiting trial for that very thing right now.
And Lev Parnas is practically jumping out of his chair waiting to testify against Rudy. The previous administration did not want to hear what Lev had to say, but something tells me that this DOJ under new management will be all ears.
BLITZER: I suspect you're right on that. You know, Jamie, what's the image of Giuliani now among his fellow Republicans? You're very well plugged in.
GANGEL: You know, when John Kelly left the White House, he was famously quoted by Bob Woodward as saying crazy town. The word crazy is the word that you hear from fellow Republicans. They are shaking their heads. This is not the man they knew or recognized. And it's just gotten worse and worse over time. I hear words like embarrassing. But this goes beyond that. He is now in legal jeopardy. We have been waiting a long time for this. And I think what I hear from most people is they can't believe that it went from the Rudy Giuliani after 9/11 to the Rudy Giuliani of Donald Trump.
BLITZER: You know, John, I have covered these kinds of stories, you know, although this one is hard to make up. We've covered these kinds of stories for a long time. How worried should the former president be right now?
KING: Well, any time anybody in your inner circle, number one, does it lead to Donald Trump in some, you know, criminal legal way? We don't know that and we need to be very careful about that. But does it lead to Donald Trump in a you judge a man by the company you keep, and here is yet another ethical question, legal question? As Donald Trump said just again today I'm probably going to run again. He lied again about what happened in the 2020 election.
So this is a cloud over Donald Trump and it's also a cloud over the Republican Party. Many in the Republican Party, Jamie knows this better than I do, are trying to break from Donald Trump. He does not want that break to happen. The picture you're looking at right now, that is today's Republican Party. And even the Republicans who honestly are trying to run from it, they just can't when something like this is in the news. BLITZER: Yes. That's an important point. Guys, thank you very, very
much. We're going to stay on top of this story. Obviously very, very significant.
Just ahead, President Biden is hitting the road to sell the extremely ambitious and very expensive agenda he laid out in his speech before a Joint Session of Congress last night.
BLITZER: President Biden is in Georgia this hour picking up where he left off in his big speech to Congress and the nation. He's already getting pushback, though, from both parties on the very ambitious and costly agenda he laid out last night.
Our senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly has the latest.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And on President Joe Biden's 100th day in office, there would be no rest. Biden, fresh off his first primetime address to Congress, marking the milestone moment by hitting the road, touching down today in Georgia. The first in a series of trips over the next 10 days as the White House tries to shape its next 100 days.
Biden has now proposed more than $6 trillion in new spending with this latest $1.8 trillion proposal now on the table, laying out transformative changes to education and the social safety net for families.
BIDEN: My fellow Americans, trickle down, trickle-down economics has never worked. And it's time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out.
MATTINGLY: And already drawing strong GOP opposition.
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Even more taxing, even more spending to put Washington even more in the middle of your life from the cradle to college.
MATTINGLY: But with the narrowest of majorities, it's Democrats the White House is keeping the closest eye on, with crucial moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin telling CNN's Manu Raju he's reviewing the proposal, but its scale is, in his words, a lot.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We're looking at everything, Manu, to make sure that we just don't spend money for the sake of putting money and causing more debt and causing more -- maybe increasing inflation. You know, we can overflood the market.
MATTINGLY: Biden planning to ramp up meetings with lawmakers in the weeks ahead, including his first meeting with the big four. The top four bipartisan leaders on Capitol Hill. Biden in his address laying out a wide-ranging agenda up for discussion from immigration and gun control to union organizing and police reform but making clear his view is much broader than just individual bills.
At one point in his speech going off script to explicitly lay out the stakes he sees in the view of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
BIDEN: He's deadly earnest about becoming the most significant consequential nation in the world. He and others, autocrats, think that democracy can't compete in the 21st century, autocracies, it takes too long to get consensus.
MATTINGLY: But Biden making clear during his speech inaction is not an option, but he is ready to talk.
BIDEN: I'd like to meet those who have ideas that are different, they think are better. I welcome those ideas.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
MATTINGLY: And Wolf, just a few moments ago we got an update on one of the areas where there are very real bipartisan negotiations, families affected by gun violence, including the brother of George Floyd, several others and attorney Ben Crump met for more than an hour with some of President Biden's closest advisers.
Ben Crump after that meeting said, Wolf, he is optimistic that there is a possibility that they can meet the legislative timeline laid out in that speech by President Biden last night, the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death next month. Obviously talks still ongoing but the family is meeting with lawmakers and top White House officials tonight -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Lots going on, indeed. Phil Mattingly at the White House, for us, thank you very much.
Joining us now, the third ranking Democrat in the House, Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina.
Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. As you know, the president, he's on the road right. He's promoting his massive infrastructure and family plans legislation, his ideas, his concepts. You say he won't get everything he's asking for. So where will he need -- from your perspective, where will he need to compromise?
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, thank you very much for having me, Wolf. You know, I feel very strongly that we have to think about the future of this country and how we will fit in the overall scheme of things. Now when you look at infrastructure, for instance, you hear already people saying we'll vote for traditional infrastructure issues. Well, the fact of the matter is, until Abraham Lincoln did the transcontinental railroad, railroad was not an infrastructure issue. But it is now.
Until Dwight Eisenhower did the Interstate highway, and they said highways were not infrastructure, but they are now. Today broadband is a big infrastructure issue. School construction is an education infrastructure issue. So, I will hope that when we get to our negotiations, people will think about what kind of country we're going to have 10 years from now, 20, 30 years from now, and what is critical in order for us to maintain our competitiveness around the world.
Infrastructure is going to be huge, but it's got to get beyond traditional notions in order to be what we need it to be in the future.
BLITZER: But as you know, there's a 50-50 split in the Senate. The Democrats have a very tiny, with three, four or five, majority in the House. You're going to have to compromise in some areas. You want to give us one or two examples?
CLYBURN: Well, I think we can compromise on time. We can compromise on certain -- you know, the size of certain projects. The fact is, we have to do health care, and health care needs to be done in such a way to be efficient and effective. You can't have effective health care without broadband. You've got to have telehealth, telemedicine. And so we can talk about how big that should be, but it's got to be. We're not going to have adequate education for our children unless they can have online learning.
We can't -- going to be able to have our kids going back to school safely unless we've got school buildings that will not be cesspools for them. We've got to have school buildings with HVAC systems that will work so that COVID-19 will not become incubators in our school, will not be incubated in the schools.
BLITZER: The Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, he now says he thinks other Democrats actually share Senator Joe Manchin's view that this nearly $4 trillion plan, quote, "jeopardizes," his words, "jeopardizes the future of our entire country."
How narrow a tightrope does President Biden have to walk right now to get this passed without losing Democratic votes?
CLYBURN: Well, Wolf, you know, I've had long talks with Senator Joe Manchin. We met last week. We weren't talking about this particular item. We talked about other things that we think need to be done. I share his concern. Nobody believes more than I do that deficit spending is not a good thing. Going too deeply in debt is not a good thing. But I also believe that we've got to give our children a chance at life.
I also believe that our senior citizens, who have given so much for us to be who and what we are today, need to be taken care of in their golden years. And so we've got to look at how much it will cost to do it and how much it will cost if we don't do it, and then decide how we do what makes sense.
Yes, this is going to be very expensive to do, but you aren't going to do infrastructure clipping coupons from the Sunday papers. You've got to put the investments out there and we've got to decide how much is too much and be sure that we're going to do what's not enough. BLITZER: The House majority whip James Clyburn, thanks so much for
CLYBURN: Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: Coming up, we've just learned that the U.S. Justice Department is preparing to file federal charges against Derek Chauvin. The other officers involved in George Floyd's death are facing new legal jeopardy as well.
We have new information. We'll share the details, get analysis right after the break.
BLITZER: Derek Chauvin is now facing even more legal trouble as he awaits sentencing in the murder of George Floyd. The U.S. Justice Department reportedly is planning to indict Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers with federal civil rights violation.
Also, tonight, we now know the names of the deputies involved in the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. in North Carolina. Our Brian Todd is on the ground for us in Elizabeth City in North Carolina for us. Brian, so what are you learning about the officers involved?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in releasing the names of these seven deputies involved in the shooting of Andrew Brown, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said that four of those seven deputies did not discharge their weapons. So, he's placing those four back on active duty. But in doing so, have did name them and he did name the three deputies who did discharge their weapons, those three deputies still on administrative leave. We have their names.
One of them is Daniel Meads, listed as holding the right of investigator. He has been with the department since September 2015. One is Robert Morgan, with the rank of deputy sheriff. He's been with the department since December of 2016. And one is Aaron Lewellyn, who holds the rank of corporal, he's been with the department since March of 2019. Those are the three deputies who discharged their weapons, according to the Pasquotank County sheriff.
Also tonight, Wolf, we have learn, we've gotten the copy of the arrest warrant for Andrew Brown. It reveals that the deputies were serving a warrant for possession of three grams of cocaine at the time they approached Andrew Brown on his house on April 21st. Wolf?
BLITZER: As we can see and as we can hear, Brian, you're with the protesters there. So, what do you brace for? What do you expect tonight?
TODD: Well, tonight, Wolf, the protesters are going to be watching to see if the police are going to come out in riot gear. They came out last night in riot gear, which upset a lot of these protesters. We talk to several of them. They really think that that was overkill and that they should not have been approached with riot gear, because they've been peaceful the entire time.
I do have to say, Wolf, regarding those three deputies who are named as the shooters, we have tried to reach out to --
BLITZER: It looks like we just lost our connection with Brian. But I know he was going to point out that CNN has tried to reach out and unfortunately, we have not been able to get their response.
But let's get some analysis right now from CNN Legal Analyst and Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson and Baltimore City Deputy Commissioner Anthony Barksdale, he's a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst.
Joey, let's start with the news that Derek Chauvin and the other former police officers involved in George Floyd's death could be charged with federal civil rights violations, that according to two Minnesota media outlets that we're monitoring right now. How significant is this?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good evening Wolf. It's a very significant development and here is why. We certainly know and understand that the state has authority to prosecute. We saw that in the Chauvin case, and they prosecuted successfully. The state will be pivoting to charge and, of course, they have charged but to prosecute the other three officers as well. So, what is this mean? It means this federal government has a role also as it relates to federal violations.
Why is that important? Because it shows that the Department of Justice, Wolf, big picture is back in business. It shows that there's a place for the federal government when they conclude based on their investigation that there's an intentional violation of a civil right that they should get involved and that they should have accountability.
Let's know and understand, Wolf, that these matters, it matters because it sets a tone, it sets the temperament. We know and understand that as a result of that conviction, there will be a deterrent value, right? No one is above the law. Whether you're an officer or you're not an officer, the fact is that if engage in a transgression, you should be held accountable.
And so, the state has said that and now the federal government under the leadership of Merrick Garland has said that we're going to look at pattern and practice violations in police departments with regard to how they've treated communities of color in the past, what their protocols and procedures are. And specifically, as it relates to this case, they have looked and examined and they have decided that at the end of the day, we believe this is a willful violation of a right, the right to be free from excessive force. And I think they're proceeding and that's the right thing to do.
BLITZER: So, Anthony, what sort of message would federal charges send to law enforcement around the country for that matter, about how the Justice Department here in Washington is tackling this issue of police killings?
ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Wolf, it sends a message that this is a new day and you better watch out if you're a police officer and you're out there doing the wrong things to the citizens. This is huge. Joey nailed it in every aspect. This is coming from the top and it is something that every officer, every police chief, every organization must pay attention to, because they're saying we're not going to tolerate it.
BLITZER: Joey, let's go back to what's going on in North Carolina, the police shooting there that stemmed from a warrant for cocaine possession. Does that merit, seven police officers arriving on the scene, the way they did with the family attorney saying just four seconds passed from their arrival to the first shots?
JACKSON: So, let me tell you what concerns me, Wolf. Different law enforcement agencies have different protocols, have different directives with respect to who should arrive and what they should do. The fact is, is that when you do arrive, you have to make an assessment as to the threat, as to the perception of the threat and as to whether or not there's an immediate force, right, because you are fearful for your life and you have to act accordingly.
And so I don't care whether there are two officers or ten officers. If there is not an immediate threat, if you act to shoot someone, you had better have a reasonable belief that you're going to die or that they're going to commit serious bodily injury against you. And that's why the need to release these tapes is so important. The fact is, is that irrespective of what warrant you're serving, did he represent a threat at the time, was that threat immediate, did you fear for your life such that you had to use the force?
Last point, Wolf, and now we have an argument between the prosecutor, who apparently is trying to justify the force, as he did in court, and between the family attorney who says that it didn't happen that way. We all should be able to evaluate the tape, evaluate the tape and draw a conclusion for ourselves as to what happened. They need to be fully transparent and fully transparent now. And that's why are people protesting, they don't trust the police, they don't trust the government. Release the tape so that everyone could see it and make our own observation as to whether the force was proper and appropriate.
BLITZER: Very quickly Anthony, give us your thought.
BARKSDALE: It is the lack of transparency in this incident it's unacceptable. I am glad that the DOJ is also on top of that. And once again, we're looking at a warrant resulting in the death of another minority in the United States of America. We need to rethink the value of these stat-driven drug arrests, rethink the tactics and training of all officers, because we're pouring billions of dollars into policing and, frankly, this isn't working.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, thank you very, very much. We'll obviously stay on top of this story, it continues.
Meanwhile, coming up, a crematorium in India is burning around the clock right now as COVID cases explode all across the country. CNN is live on the scene. We'll go there right after a quick break.
BLITZER: India is experiencing right now what's being described as an apocalyptic explosion of COVID-19 cases. Hospitals are truly overwhelmed. They're running out of oxygen. Some areas have resorted to mass cremations to try to keep up with the number of dead.
Our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is in New Delhi for us. Clarissa, tell us about the deeply troubling accounts you are eye witnessing.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. I mean, I have to say this is truly a heartbreaking and terrifying tragedy of epic proportions. We've literally seen people dying on the streets. And the health care system is on the brink of collapse. It simply can't cope.
We visited one facility for people who have no other options, it's the end of the line if you're turned away from a hospital, if you can't source oxygen privately. This is essentially a Sikh temple that is being run by a charity as a sort of drive-in oxygen place where people who are very, very ill can go for just a couple of hours to try to get that desperately needed oxygen so they can breathe. Take a quick look.
BLITZER: You know, Clarissa, I know you've been doing a lot of reporting on the ground over there. It was only a few months ago people were praising India. They seemed to be doing such a good job in containing COVID-19. What are you learning about what led to this devastating surge?
WARD: Yes. Sorry, Wolf, about that technical error, that you weren't able to see that video. But I can tell you what it was briefly. It's a woman who arrived in a rickshaw. She is completely unconscious. They are desperately trying to revive her, giving her some oxygen, massaging her very vigorously over the chest area to try to bring her back to life essentially. We don't know what happened to that woman, where she is now, how she is now. But her story is the story of so many people here.
And you touched on such an important point, Wolf, because, as you said a few months ago, the Indian government was basically doing a victory lap, saying that they had overcome COVID. They're now trying to blame this vicious second wave on this so-called double mutation variant. But scientists say, hold on, it's way too early. We don't have enough research to be able to confirm that that's the reason this is being transmitted so quickly.
And a lot of people here on the ground are pointing to real failures in government policy, the fact that large election rallies have been held in state elections across the country, the fact that the Kumbh Mela, the big, huge Hindu pilgrimage was allowed to go ahead with millions of pilgrims all descending on one area, cricket matches have been allowed to take place, weddings. These are the sort of large- scale events, along with what people call failures to provide adequate hospital beds, to make sure that there were more ventilators.
It's these things that people on the ground here feel that the government has failed to deliver and are in large part responsible for this horrific crisis, Wolf.
BLITZER: Clarissa Ward on the ground for us in India, stay safe over there, Clarissa. We will stay in close touch with you.
And, Clarissa, by the way, is going to have much more of her excellent reporting later tonight on the crisis in India on "AC360", 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Coming up, are American adversaries deploying directed microwave energy weapons right outside the White House? U.S. intelligence authorities are deeply concerns about attacks on American soil. We'll tell you what's going on.
BLITZER: U.S. military and intelligence officials are now investigating mysterious attacks believed to have involved directed energy, one of which have been near the White House here in Washington.
CNN's senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt has the latest.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's called Havana Syndrome, from where the strange, debilitating attacks against U.S. personnel were first noticed. Now, sources telling CNN about at least two more on American soil. Similar, mysterious incidents, including one late last year right near the White House.
AVRIL HAINES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Thank you for your attention on this issue. It's critically important.
MARQUARDT: The country's top intelligence official today saying she is focused on the attacks, believed to be the result of directed microwaves.
The Pentagon is also investigating.
Multiple sources telling CNN that defense officials briefed Congress earlier this month, telling lawmakers that the White House incident in November happened near the grassy oval area known as the Ellipse, just south of the White House. An official from the National Security Council was sickened.
Another incident first reported by "GQ" happened across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia, in 2019, also seemingly targeted at another White House staffer.
Similar attacks have struck U.S. diplomats and CIA officials not just in Cuba, but China and Russia as well, including Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA officer, who says he was hit with an attack while visiting the Russian capital in 2017.
MARC POLYMEROPOULOS, FORMER CIA SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: I woke up in the middle of the night with an incredible case of vertigo. The room was spinning. I wanted to throw up.
MARQUARDT: Polymeropoulos served in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Because of the Moscow attack, he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and had to retire from the CIA.
POLYMEROPOULOS: I've had a headache every day since that night in Moscow. It's never gone away, day or night.
MARQUARDT: A study this year by the National Academy of Sciences found the most likely cause of the symptoms was directed pulse radio frequency energy. Symptoms include ear popping, vertigo, pounding headaches and nausea. Alongside the Pentagon, the State Department and CIA have also launched investigations.
WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: I will make it an extraordinarily high priority to get to the bottom of who is responsible for the attacks.
MARQUARDT (on camera): And who is responsible remains a major question, Wolf. U.S. officials say that it could be Russia. They say could also be China that they simply don't know.
I want to underscore how extraordinary would be for an incident to take place so close to the White House. We are right on the edge of the lips. That's it right there. Just south of the White House which you could see in the distance.
This is one of the most highly secured areas here in Washington, D.C., and across the country. You are looking right there at Secret Service. There is U.S. Park Police, D.C. police and yet it appears that a White House staffer may have been targeted just steps from the White House -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very worrisome indeed.
All right. Alex, thank you very much.
Just ahead, President Biden says he agrees with Republican Senator Tim Scott's assertion that the U.S. is not a racist country. What does CNN's W. Kamau Bell think about that? He's standing by live. He'll join us with his reaction right after this break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: President Biden speaking out tonight about racism in America after the GOP's only African American senator, Tim Scott, said in the party response to Biden's congressional speech last night that America is not a racist country. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think the American people are racist, but I think after 400 years, African Americans have been left in a position where they are so far behind the 8-ball in terms of education, health, in terms of opportunity. I think the overhang from all of the Jim Crow and before that, slavery, have had a cost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: W. Kamau Bell, the host of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA", is joining us right now.
In your new season, Kamau, you explore policing in America. I want to watch part of the conversation you had with a police officer about what he sees as systemic problems. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
W. KAMAU BELL, HOST, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": Is this moment different as far as like where we are in America and specifically around law enforcement?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, it's just this moment of being a black man in a police uniform, right? There are some problems, the systemic problems that have been in the police for a very long time. As you know, they need to be rooted out.
You sit in this place where you are like, do I fit in? Sometimes you even ask the question, do I fit in? I'm a black man before I put on a uniform and I'm one when I take it off. You are one will you got it on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Kamau, tell us more about that conversation and the solutions you discuss.
BELL: Well, to sort of throw it to what President Biden was saying, whether or not you to find this country is racist, it's about creating an anti-racist society, which is what we are talking about when we are talking about the history of policing. We need a police force that is anti-racist, not one that is just not racist or trying to not be racist. How do we imagine a new version of policing in this country? BLITZER: Yes, it's really important. It's really important that you
get to the substance of these issues in your new series of 7 episodes coming up starting this coming Sunday.
And, Kamau, thanks for everything you're doing. I just want to let our viewers know, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" premieres Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Thanks so much for doing what you're doing. Thanks so much for joining us. I really appreciate it very, very much.
Good luck and we will stay in close touch with you. We've got a lot more to discuss.
BELL: Thank you.
BLITZER: And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.