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At Least One Dead, 99 Unaccounted for in Condo Collapse; New Video Shows Horrific Scene of Deadly Condo Collapse; Rudy Giuliani's New York License Suspended over Election Lies; Pelosi: House to Establish Select Committee to Probe Insurrection in Hopes of "Seeking and Finding the Truth". Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 24, 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: President Biden seeming to understand that the country is not going to reach the 70 percent threshold, but he wanted to reach by the 4th of July that 70 percent of American adults would have to receive at least one shot by the Independence Day of this country.
You can follow me out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer, in The Situation Room. Thanks for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, a frantic search through the rubble after the deadly and unexplained collapse of a high-rise condo. I will ask the mayor of Surfside, Florida, about the hunt for nearly 100 people unaccounted for.
President Biden declares, we have a deal on infrastructure, praising a rare moment of bipartisanship. But its fate is very uncertain tonight as the president acknowledges his party is divided.
And another stain on Rudy Giuliani's legacy. The former mayor, turned Trump lawyer, has his New York law license suspended for pushing election lies.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.
All right, you are looking at live pictures coming in from Surfside, Florida, right now, awful situation that has unfolded. Our Correspondent Randi Kaye is on the scene for us.
Randi, local officials just a few moments audio, they gave us an update on the condo collapse. What is the latest? Update our viewers.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some good news and some bad news, Wolf. They are telling us now, that 102 people have been accounted for, which is very good news for some families. But they are still saying 99 people remain unaccounted for, Wolf, So those families certainly on edge at this hour.
But I should emphasize this is, still, a very active search-and-rescue operation. They are searching in the parking garage beneath this collapsed building right now. That's where the teams are, beneath that pan caked building. They have been searching this building in that rubble since before 2:00 A.M. They thought they heard a noise, not a voice in the rubble earlier. But still no word on what that turned out to be. But the search, Wolf, does continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE (voice-over): Daylight hours are waning as the massive search and rescue underway in Surfside, Florida, continues where a 12-storey building partially collapsed this morning just few hours north of Miami Beach.
JOSE "PEPE" DIAZ, CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: This is very sad when you are dealing with people that don't know the outcome of their family. They're very worried. They're -- they just are desperate, in the sense that they want to know what's actually taken place.
KAYE: Surveillance video from a nearby building appears to show the moment this 12-storey condo partially collapsed. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to the collapse at 1:30 in the morning and were able to rescue 35 people from the structure that was still standing. Two people were rescued from the rubble. 11 of those people were treated onsite, while four were transported to the hospital. One died.
MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: The problem is the building has literally pan caked. It has gone down. And, I mean, there's just feet in between stories where there were ten feet. That is a -- it's heartbreaking because it doesn't mean to me that we're going to be successful -- as successful as we would want to be, to find people alive.
KAYE: President Joe Biden saying the federal government is ready to help.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are on top of it. We are ready to move and move the federal resources immediately.
KAYE: About 55 of the building's 136 units collapsed. Sending up a thick dust cloud and leaving piles of rubble below. The structure is still unsteady with much of what's left just dangling. Building resident Barry Cohen recalls the horrific moment after it collapsed.
BARRY COHEN, RESIDENT OF PARTIALLY COLLAPSED BUILDING: I looked down the hallway. And it's a very long hallway, probably, a hundred yards, 75 yards, and there was nothing there. It was just a pile of dust and rubble and paint falling from the ceiling.
KAYE: Nicholas Balboa was out walking his dog when he heard a voice shot shouting. It was a young boy stuck in the rubble, desperately in need of help.
NICHOLAS BALBOA, HELPED RESCUE PEOPLE FROM PARTIALLY COLLAPSED BUILDING: Then I saw an arm sticking out of the wreckage. And he was screaming, you know, can you see me? You know, he was just screaming, don't leave me, don't leave me.
KAYE: Balboa was able to alert rescue teams who got to the boy and saved his life.
KAYE (on camera): And as the search continues at this hour, Wolf, families are, certainly, getting anxious because there is only, really, a couple of hours of daylight left for them to search. The last thing these families want is for their loved ones to spend another night, overnight, trapped in that rubble if they are, indeed, still alive.
But saving lives is, certainly, still, the priority here, finding anyone buried in that rubble is the priority. Of course, everyone wants to know what caused this collapse, but officials are saying there will be time to get to that. They will look into that once they finish this search-and-rescue mission, Wolf.
BLITZER: Such a heartbreaking situation. Randi Kaye on the scene for us, thank you very much.
Let's discuss with the mayor of Surfside, Florida, Charles Burkett. Mayor, first of all, my heart goes to you and to everyone in Surfside right now. What is the latest you can tell us about the situation where you are on the ground?
BURKETT: The latest is, you know, we've relocated all the people that were in that building and next to that building. And right now, our efforts are, exclusively, focused on finding people alive in the rubble, nothing else.
BLITZER: And you look, and there's 99 people, 99 people that you're looking for, is that right?
BURKETT: No. I wouldn't put a lot of reliance on any of these numbers yet. You know, it's less about the numbers and more about the fact that we are just going to stay looking for people until we finish this job.
BLITZER: What does the search-and- rescue process look like right now? We've got live pictures coming in from the scene. That rubble is enormous.
BURKETT: Oh, it's -- you know, buildings don't fall down in the United States. I mean, we obviously know there were two buildings that fell down in 2001. But this is a third-world country event. And we need to find out why this building fell down. But today is not that day. Today is the day to save lives. So, we're 100 percent focused on that.
BLITZER: As you've speculated, Mayor, that perhaps there were some issues with this building's support or a sinkhole, maybe, are authorities, at least right now, and then I want to move on, any closer to figuring out what led this 12-storey building to collapse? BURKETT: Well, we absolutely figure it out, I mean, but that won't happen today. And, you know, all of those possibilities are on the table right now. It's just that stuff is less important right now than pulling people out alive because time is of the essence right now and every minute counts.
BLITZER: As far as pulling people out alive, Mayor, are you getting all the support, local, state, federal, and I understand, there's some international efforts underway, as well, to try to help?
BURKETT: Let me tell you. We have -- I've had a call from the White House. I've had the governor of our state here with me. I've had both of our United States senators call me. I've had Debbie Wasserman Schultz here most of the day. I've had the Mayor of Dade County give us resources, like you couldn't believe. We're not lacking for resources. We are lacking for a little good luck right now.
BLITZER: How long do you think it's going to take to clear out that rubble and, God willing, find people alive?
BURKETT: We're not going to worry about how long it takes. We're just going to do it. We're going to keep doing it until we find out -- we find all the people we can that are alive.
BLITZER: Before I let you go, anything else you want to tell our viewers?
BURKETT: That's not an issue for us.
BLITZER: You want to tell our viewers here in the U.S.?
BURKETT: Yes, I do. I want to tell you that, you know, at 2:00 in the morning, when I arrived, we had our first responders here and we were told the building was in eminent danger of collapsing. And those guys ran right into the building, and they started pulling anybody that was left that didn't walk out on their own power out of that building. So, you know, this is a story of courage and heroism. But it's also a story of a fight against time, right now. So that's what we're doing. But that's the silver lining in this very, very dark cloud. I've got some heroes on our hands, and we have got a lot of work to do.
BLITZER: And we are grateful to those heroes. Are you concerned, Mayor, about other buildings in Surfside right now? And we hope it doesn't happen that, God forbid, could have the same kind of disaster?
BURKETT: This -- well, I tell you what. We don't understand why this building fell down, and we need to. But the first thing we need to do is save the lives that we can save. We've got a sister building like this one block away. But it's kind of unimaginable to imagine that that would happen, again at the same time. We've had roof work on this building and that's also probably, not the reason why this building came down. But in any event, like I said, we're going to be worried about saving lives right now. And then we are going to worry about why this happened.
BLITZER: Well, good luck, Mayor. We are with you a 100 percent. Mayor Charles Burkett of Surfside, Florida, thanks very much for joining us, good luck.
BURKETT: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Let's get more on this disaster. Joining us now, Dave Downey, retired Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief, and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Roberto Villasenor, a former Tuscon Police Chief.
Chief Downey, nearly 100 people still unaccounted for right now. So, what is happening? Try to explain to our viewers how they are trying to find anyone, anyone, who may still be alive under that rubble.
DAVE DOWNEY, FORMER MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE CHIEF: Well, thanks for having me, and, yes, thanks for the opportunity to explain. And what's happening right now is highly specialized, highly trained, and experienced rescue workers that are methodically and deliberately conducting a search of the entire rubble pile. And they're looking for any signs of life.
We'll use canines to run the rubble pile and look for survivor -- pick up a scent from a survivor. We'll use search cameras and listening devices to be able to check for any detection of any survivors in the rubble pile. But this is an arduous process, painstakingly, space by space by space, in order to successfully have, you know, a good outcome.
So, these rescuers are going to work through the night, and I would imagine for the next couple days in rescue mode, trying to ensure that every void space is accounted for and that there's no survivors left.
BLITZER: Chief Downey, we're just showing our viewers some new video that we've just obtained underneath this building. You see rescue workers there. They're going through it. This is very, very dangerous for these rescue workers as well, isn't it, because we don't know the structure of what remains, how strong it could be.
DOWNEY: Well, I mean, therein lies the challenge that you have part of an existing building still standing that's unsupported. You have all the debris that is still attached to where the collapse occurred. And so the rescue workers are making deliberate moves, they're making educated risk decisions, based on the information. We've got structural engineers that work with our teams that evaluate the building and make the ultimate decision of what areas they can go into, what areas they can't go into and what areas they may be able to go into once they stabilize it.
So, this is a process. They have devices that are monitoring any movement in the building, to a small centimeter of movement. They're monitoring right now. And if they have to, they pull the rescue workers out. But this is something that, you know, fortunately or unfortunately, these rescue workers are trained to do. They're experienced. And they're going to work through the problems.
BLITZER: And they are true heroes. Chief Villasenor, how challenging is it to coordinate a scene like this? Have you ever personally seen anything like this here in the United States?
ROBERTO VILLASENOR, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALSYT: Personally, other than the issues that were talked about in 2001, no. These are extremely challenging issues. But also, this is why most jurisdictions hold joint-operation practice sessions, where they do tabletop and also live-scene scenarios where they work together. They need to understand how each agency works together. Hopefully, they have a common communication channel. They all understand incident command.
Right now, this is a fire-and-rescue mission. And there has to be no pride about that. You know, fire and rescue are in charge of this. Police and law enforcement will serve as a supporting role and trying to keep perimeter control. If there's a need for any evacuations, they can assist, notifications, but also, maintaining the clear path for the rescue vehicles, as people are found, to make sure there's an easy path for them to access out. So, there is a tremendous amount of coordination, and they all work together and support each other in their efforts.
BLITZER: Chief Villasenor, Chief Downey, we are going to stay in close touch with both of you. We are going to stay on top of this story, obviously, a heartbreaking story unfolding in South Florida right now. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
There is other important news we're also following today here in The Situation Room. A bipartisan deal just announced on one of President Biden's top priorities but it's not a done deal. Not a done deal, yet. Its fate remains in question. We are going to explain why when we come back.
BLITZER: President Biden is touting a new bipartisan deal on an infrastructure bill. Our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly is working the story for us. Phil, it's not a done deal since the president has tied it to another bill only supported by Democrats, not necessarily all Democrats.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf. Let's be clear here. There is a long way to go. But clinching this deal, something the president made a major campaign issue about, that he could make bipartisan agreements happen in an extraordinarily polarized Washington is a key component of what the president was seeking to do. It's an issue that has bedeviled his predecessors for the last several administrations, but today, President Biden securing a long-sought bipartisan agreement.
BIDEN: And we have a deal.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Tonight, President Biden clinching his long- sought bipartisan infrastructure deal.
BIDEN: Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal. That's what it means to compromise.
MATTINGLY: Validation for a process, meaning Republicans dismissed, and more Democrats castigated.
BIDEN: I know, there are some of my party who discourage me from seeking an agreement with our Republican colleagues who said that we should go bigger and go alone. To them, I say this. I've already shown, in my young presidency, that I am prepared to do whatever needs to get done to move the country forward.
MATTINGLY: Biden huddling in the Oval Office with ten senators, including five Republicans, signed on to the deal.
BIDEN: The people I was with today are people that I trust. I don't agree with them on a lot of things, but I trust them when they say this is a deal. We'll stick to the deal.
MATTINGLY: Emerging with a roughly-$1 trillion package, $579 billion of that in new spending, a deal that include $109 billion for road, bridges and major projects, $66 billion for passenger and freight rail and $15 billion for electric, buses and infrastructure and more than $100 billion for water and broadband infrastructure.
BIDEN: The investments we'll be making as a result of this deal are long overdue.
MATTINGLY: It's a marked departure for Biden's predecessor for whom infrastructure week became a running punch line from the ability to make any progress at all yet turning the deal into an actual law is hardly a sure thing, something even Biden acknowledged. Progressive Democrats already ripping into the proposal.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Way too small, paltry, pathetic. It has to be combined with a second, much more-robust, adequate package to be deserving of a vote.
MATTINGLY: Making clear they will vote against it unless they have assurances a sweeping, second, multitrillion-dollar proposal will move as well. Biden moving immediately to address the flare-up head on.
BIDEN: The bipartisan bill, from the very beginning, was understood there's going to have to be the second part of it.
MATTINGLY: Making clear his proposals to invest billions in education, climate and the social-safety net must pass, as well.
BIDEN: If this is what comes to me, then I'm not signing it. It's in tandem.
MATTINGLY: Directly aligning with Democratic leaders.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): There ain't going to be an infrastructure bill unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate. MATTINGLY: It's an arduous two-step process now in full swing. Biden acknowledging nothing is guaranteed but making a bet that underscores his confidence in what's ahead.
BIDEN: My party is divided but my party is also rational. If they can't get every single thing they want but all they have in the bill that -- before them is good, are they going to vote no? I don't think so.
MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Wolf, this is turning into a day of potential breakthroughs for the Biden administration. Just a short while ago, we are now learning police reform, something that has been the subject of negotiations for several months now, may be on the verge of a deal. A statement from the key negotiator saying, quote, after months of working in good faith, we have reached an agreement on a framework addressing the major issues for bipartisan police reform.
Now, the caveat is that it is not all done yet and nothing is agreed to until everything is. But very clear that on another central agenda item for President Biden, there is a path forward and lawmakers hope to close that deal in the coming weeks, Wolf.
BLITZER: If they could do that, that would be very, very significant indeed for this new administration and for the country for that matter. Phil Mattingly reporting for us. Thank you very much.
Let's get some more on all of this. CNN Political Commentator Van Jones, is with us, Senior Commentator, John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio, and our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger is with us as well.
Van, hurdles remain on this infrastructure compromise deal but how important is it to see these very rare moments of bipartisanship?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think it's extraordinary. I mean, look, it's hard to fly this plane but if you got a pilot like Joe Biden, you can actually get it off the ground and you can move forward. Now, he is going to have to land that plane, get out and walk with the rest of Democrats only but it's still good and I think we ought to, every now and again, take yes for an answer from Republicans who want to be constructive. I think Joe Biden is right (INAUDIBLE) today.
BLITZER: How realistic is it, Gloria, is it that Congress can pull off this dual track, passing the traditional-infrastructure deal and a much bigger progressive package that could be passed through what's called reconciliation?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: As Nancy Pelosi said, she wants to see that happen in the Senate first before she has votes in the House. So, look. It's going to be very difficult, but I want to echo what Van said, which is just take a moment and stop and think. When was the last time you saw a president standing with Republicans and Democrats at the White House saying we have a deal, we all agree on something?
We haven't done anything on infrastructure in this country in a very long time. Yes, it's the beginning of a process. Yes, it could turn out to be a house of cards. We have no idea. But we should appreciate what they have done because we haven't seen that, in so long.
BLITZER: Let me ask Governor Kasich. The president is making it clear he won't sign one without the other. So what do you make of that tactic?
JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: I think that's bizarre, myself. I -- that, I don't understand, that I don't know what this reconciliation bill will be. But if we're going to celebrate something, we have an infrastructure bill. Why don't we just go ahead and sign that, do it, get it done, sign it. Police reform, great news, we need that. I think Biden's realized that crime's a major issue. So, he's now leading with that. We can get police reform, which means the police can be -- you know, that we can increase the resources for police while at the same time hopefully improving their training and having the reforms that we seek. In terms of this other package, I don't know that they're going to get that through.
But this reminds me back in the days when Bill Clinton. We had an issue, whether he would sign welfare reform and Medicaid reform, and I advocated at the time, let's take what we can get. And I think we are in a take-what-we-can-get moment in Washington and let's do the infrastructure. If we're not getting infrastructure before reconciliation, I'm not sure you are going to get infrastructure. I'm just not sure it will happen.
BLITZER: Let me get Van, and then Gloria. Go ahead, Van.
JONES: I see it differently. Look, you have two big problems that got solved in the country. One is the physical infrastructure, and some Republicans want to be constructive on that. Let's work together. But you have got a big yarning gap when it comes to human infrastructure. You know, all these women that got knocked out the workforce because we don't have enough services to help with people pre-K, with elder care. That's infrastructure too from our point of view. And if the Republicans don't want to walk with us on that, we have to walk by ourselves.
But the reality is, you know, some people said, we all just do it all by ourselves. We can get it all done by ourselves. We could have but Biden wanted to do it differently and I'm glad that he did. But we are not going to abandon those moms and those elderly folks and those kids just because Republicans don't want to come the rest of the way with us.
BORGER: And, you know, you might not be able to get the Democrats you need in the house for this compromise infrastructure package, unless they have a promise of something larger on the human infrastructure. So if you were to take that vote, Governor, right now, without anything else coming down the pike, they might say no. They might say we don't want --
KASICH: No, but --
BORGER: We don't want to do this right now. I mean, that's Biden's problem.
KASICH: Well, here is the issue. Nobody is saying we should abandon these other folks. There are many parts of that bill, that big $4 trillion bill, that -- there are parts of it that are good. Pass it separately. You know why they couldn't pass it? The reason they couldn't pass it does not have anything to do with Republicans, Van. It had to do with Democrats. There are Democrats that don't like that level of spending and taxation.
So my view is we want an infrastructure bill, then pass the infrastructure bill through the House, pass the infrastructure bill through the Senate. If you can't get all the Democratic votes in the house, pass it with Republican votes. And, hopefully, over in the Senate, McConnell will go along so you can actually get something accomplished. But if we're going to play this dance, it's got to be both and not one, I don't know where that's going to leave us. It's a mess. But it's good news, initially, here about the package.
JONES: You know, leadership really matters. I mean, Biden is having to negotiate and deal with a divided Democratic caucus and he's found a way through. You know, people (INAUDIBLE), oh, he's out of it, what's he doing, you know, this guy? If you listen to the other stations, you think this guy was laying on a lawn chair someplace and he's figured out how to solve a Rubik's cube that was very, very hard to solve. At least in theory, we can see -- we all see if he can pull it off in practice.
BLITZER: All right, Van Jones, Gloria Borger, John Kasich, guys, thanks. We'll obviously stay on top of the story as well.
KASICH: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, Rudy Giuliani has his law license suspended for fueling former President Trump's election lies.
Plus, we'll have more on the breaking news. We are going back live to Surfside, Florida, the scene of that urgent search-and-rescue operation underway. Right now, 99 people still missing tonight after the collapse of a 12-storey condo.
BLITZER: More on tonight's breaking news, the truly horrible collapse of part of a 12-storey condominium near Miami. We are just getting new video of the urgent search-and-rescue operation happening right now. 99 people, residents, of that condo are still unaccounted for, according to local authorities.
Rabbi Sholom Lipskar is joining us. He's on the scene. Rabbi, thank you so much for joining us. I know you have been counseling victims at the community center. As a man of faith, how do you try to understand and explain something as horrific as this?
RABBI SHOLOM LIPSKAR, THE SHUL OF BAL HARBOUR: You, obviously -- it -- you can't explain it so let's start from there. There's no rationality for it. Anybody that gives you a rational reason for it is an idiot. This is something that transcends our capacity for understanding. It's a reality. We accept it and we have to learn, as we do in our culture, resilience and to move forward because challenges don't hold us back even though it's extremely painful.
This is a surreal kind of a space now where hundreds of people are sitting and waiting for the ultimate, you might say, judgment, alive, or, God forbid, not. So it's -- you know, there is a certain hope in the air but it's a very strange kind of feeling. I have rarely had this feeling except in a war zone.
BLITZER: I understand, Rabbi, that some members of your own congregation are among the 99 residents who are listed as unaccounted for right now. And I know you have been meeting with their families. How are you helping them right now?
LIPSKAR: The only way you can help in this kind of a situation, the outpouring of caring, empathy, love, in the community has been unprecedented, on any level. Every -- there are way more volunteers than we can use. Our synagogue big hall, which is a giant space, is filled with blankets, pillows, microwave ovens, chargers, food. It is an extraordinary outpouring, and it's real. It's sincere.
The only thing that helps in these times is kindness and empathy and togetherness because you can't take away the reality. You can't make -- this is not about a Pollyanna story. You know, that's good for the world to come but, in this physical world, we see it in a very dynamic way. So, I'd say the way we help them is by just pouring kindness and empathy and being there where we don't leave them there for a moment alone. They are surrounded, each family member, there are five or six community members that are around them giving them support and just being there and so forth. So it's the only way that you can do anything for them. There is nothing more that you can do.
It's very interesting. It's interesting, because the governor was here last week. He was here today. And he was here last week. And he signed two bills at our synagogue. One was the month of silence, the other was to give the local (INAUDIBLE) Jewish emergency movement official status in the state. And today, both of those were the only things that were helpful, prayer and this emergency units, nothing else. So it went right into practice, interesting perspective.
BLITZER: Rabbi Sholom Lipskar. I was going to say, Rabbi, please, pass along our love to your congregates, to members of your congregation there, to everyone there I know that all these families are so desperately searching for their loved ones right now. And let's hope and let's pray to God that we can report that they will be found alive in the midst of that rubble. Thank you so much for joining us. LIPSKAR: Amen. Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you, Rabbi Lipskar.
There is other news we're following here in The Situation Room tonight as well. The former Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani today had his New York state law license suspended over what a court calls his demonstrably false and misleading statements about the 2020 election.
CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent, Paula Reid has details.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, Rudy Giuliani has his law license suspended for promoting the big lie.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: They stole the election.
REID: In a 33-page opinion, the state appellate court concluded there is uncontroverted evidence that Giuliani communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with the Trump's failed effort at re-election in 2020.
Giuliani has been a member of the New York Bar for over 50 years. He went on to become a top official at the Justice Department and then, of course, the mayor of New York, before joining former President Trump's legal team, mostly defending that client in the court of public opinion.
GIULIANI: The collusion part, we're pretty comfortable with because there has been none.
REID: The former president issued a statement today defending his longtime friend as a great American patriot and the victim of yet another witch hunt. Giuliani's team issued a statement saying they were disappointed by the ruling but once the issues are fully explored at a hearing, Mr. Giuliani will be reinstated.
The former mayor has been actively re-tweeting supporters and his son, Andrew, also, posted this video.
ANDREW GIULIANI, SON OF RUDY GIULIANI: I stand by my father. He did everything, ultimately, by the book.
REID: But following news of his suspension, Giuliani did not attend a federal-court hearing in Washington today on a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, sending a lawyer to argue, on his behalf instead.
JOHN POULOS, CEO, DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS: Rudy Giuliani actively propagated disinformation to purposely mislead voters. Because Giuliani and others incessantly repeated the false claims about Dominion Voting Systems on a range of media platforms, some of our own family and friends are among the Americans who were duped.
REID: The company alleges Giuliani and others put it at the center of numerous conspiracy theories related to the election. Giuliani, along with former Trump legal team member, Sydney Powell, and MyPillow CEO, Mike Lindell, are all asking a judge to dismiss defamation claims Dominion has brought against them. Lindell continue to attack Dominion on his way into court today.
MIKE DINDELL, CEO, MY PILLOW: You are all out there talking about MyPillow and you're all going there's rocks and knives in my pillows. You think I will just sue you? No, I'd open it up and say, it's beautiful patented fill. That's what I would do. Dominion didn't do that.
REID: Powell, who famously vowed last November to release the cracking to prove widespread voter fraud, also attended in hearing but there was no sign of the former mayor.
REID (on camera): It's incredibly unusual for a lawyer's license to be suspended and especially for it to move this quickly after these complaints came in earlier this year. But Giuliani, who had his apartment and office raided in April as part of an ongoing federal criminal investigation, he can request a hearing to try to get his license reinstated but that's going to be a long process, and, Wolf, he has a lot of other, legal issues to tend to before he gets back in a courtroom as a lawyer.
BLITZER: Yes, that's important to understand as well. Paula Reid, thank you very, very much.
I want to bring in Dave Aronberg, the State Attorney for Palm Beach County, in Florida, and CNN Legal Analyst, Elliot Williams.
Dave, how did Giuliani go from being America's Mayor, after 9/11, to personal attorney to the President of the United States, to now being unable to practice law in his home state of New York?
DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Yes, good evening, Wolf. This is the latest in a long, sad decline of a guy who went from being America's mayor to America's favorite punch line. And the appellate court in New York was right to immediately suspend his law license because he repeatedly violated the rules of conduct for a lawyer in New York and immediately threatened the public interest through his lies. It's not just any lie. It's the big lie, the lie that undermines our democracy, threatens our institutions and leads to violence. And in the court's ruling, they mentioned the January 6th insurrection. Words have consequences.
And, you know, Rudy is not just a lawyer. Rudy was a top federal prosecutor in Manhattan. And so he knows better. We prosecutors are supposed to be ministers of justice. And he is not a prosecutor anymore but he continues to tar my profession. He continues to embarrass all of us in the legal profession. And so I think this action was overdue.
BLITZER: What do you think, Elliot, because he was, correctly, as Dave says, one of the top prosecutors in the United States?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. And it's incredibly rare, as Paula had said in her reporting, to suspend the license in the first place but also to do it immediately. Now, he has a right to appeal it and ask for a hearing but the immediacy of it is a big deal.
But, look, let's forget Donald Trump, forget Giuliani for a second. If you look at the state of New York's bar rules, which, look, I am a member of the bar there, and why they exist. And they're clear in this opinion that it is not about punishing individual attorney's for protecting the integrity of the system. And if you can't trust lawyers and set aside all the lawyer jokes you have, I know many of them as well, but if you can't trust lawyers and can't trust courts, then the system completely falls apart.
And what they are trying to do and what the court does here is try to protect the whole system. And they go in great detail, almost shameful detail, the kinds of statements that Mayor Giuliani had made. And making -- saying that these, by virtue of making them from his platform, hurt the integrity of the system.
BLITZER: That whole statement it's really, very, very powerful. Dave, some people may hear this and think lawyers, they lie all the time in defense of their clients. You know, so what's the distinction here, from your perspective? I know, you've read the statement. What line did Giuliani cross that led to this specific suspension?
ARONBERG: Well, the court sent out a bunch of things, including saying repeatedly that Pennsylvania received more absentee ballots than they sent out. And he kept repeating the lies. He went in the court and in a court of law said that there was election fraud. And, of course, there was no election fraud.
So it's one thing to lie to the public. That's bad enough. But you really cannot lie to a judge. And for those who think that all lawyers are like that, we're not. But there was an example of a lawyer like that. Roy Cohn. And, ironically, Wolf, this week marks the 35th anniversary of the disbarment of Roy Cohn in New York by the very same appellate court in New York. And Roy Cohn was Trump's lawyer as well and Trump holds him up to be the model of a lawyer.
But keep in mind that, Roy Cohn later died penniless and disgraced. And, unfortunately, Rudy seems to be on that same path.
BLITZER: Dave Aronberg, Elliot Williams. Guys thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, a congressional committee here in Washington is announcing that it will investigate the January 6th Capitol siege.
Also, the story behind Britney Spears' conservatorship after she publicly called it abusive and bizarre, and pleaded for a way out.
BLITZER: With Senate Republicans blocking the creation of an independent commission to investigate the U.S. Capitol insurrection, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced today she will create what's called a select committee to investigate the deadly riots.
Let's dig deeper with CNN senior law enforcement analyst, the former FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe. His book is entitled, "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump".
Andrew, thanks for joining us.
How essential is it right now? You're the former deputy director of the FBI, to get to the root causes, to learn exactly what happened leading up to January 6 and what happened on January 6?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It is absolutely essential. It's essential to the safety and security of this nation. It's, you know, what's important here, Wolf, is not politics or who is this story good for, and who is it bad for? What's important is to try to figure out why our federal agencies, specifically the FBI and DHS, failed to prevent this act of domestic terrorism on our Capitol, period. And the only way to get to the bottom of that is with a legitimate, powerful investigative entity.
BLITZER: A bipartisan independent commission would have been better than this select committee which will be led by Democrats.
MCCABE: That's absolutely right, because as in all these situations, politics is the enemy of an investigation, right?
You want these investigators to be able to go wherever the facts take them, and they need the ability to compel people to testify, to produce documents, to really get inside the agencies to understand what they knew, what they didn't know, and what they did about this situation.
BLITZER: Because a lot of us remember the select committee on Benghazi. How did that work out?
MCCABE: You know, I can tell you, as someone who had the unfortunate experience of appearing before a committee several times, it was just mired in politics. You really got the sense sitting in those -- sitting at that table with a glass of water answering the questions that you were there to support a political narrative, rather than to actually get down to the bottom of what happened.
BLITZER: What was the select committee that Nancy Pelosi has announced, will they be able to subpoena everyone who potentially was involved? Because if we don't learn from the mistakes in this historic event, we're bound to repeat them. MCCABE: They absolutely need that power, Wolf. They need the ability
to issue subpoenas that the agencies and personnel have to comply with. I think it would be important for the president to send a loud and clear message to the federal agencies that full compliance and transparency with this investigation is absolute necessity.
BLITZER: What about Trump administration officials? Can they be compelled? Will they be compelled through subpoenas, like Mark Meadows, who was the White House chief of staff, for example?
MCCABE: They certainly can be subpoenaed. Now, it remains to be seen how and whether or not they fight those subpoenas, whether they, you know, whether we get dragged into court in the same way we did with many of the subpoenas that you saw Congress tried to serve in the last term.
BLITZER: All right. Andrew McCabe, thanks very much. We're going to stay on top of this story, as well.
MCCABE: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, Britney Spears breaking her silence and pleading with a judge for freedom from her father's control over her personal and financial life.
BLITZER: Pop star Britney Spears breaking years of silence and pleading with a judge to end the conservatorship that gives her father significant control over her personal and financial life.
Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd who is working the story for us.
So, Brian, what's the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Britney Spears says she's been traumatized by this conservatorship, that she just wants to get her life back. The pops start gave a very disturbing portrayal of the control she says her father has exerted over her.
TODD (voice-over): She sold at least 33 million albums and amassed a fortune of $60 million. But pop star Britney Spears has told a judge she's a virtual slave. Spears spoke out in court on the phone, pleading for the judge to end her conservatorship administered by her father, Jamie, calling it, quote, "abusive."
NISCHELLE TURNER, HOST, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": She said she felt pressured by her father. She felt pressure by him to work as much as she did. She felt pressure by him to maybe take medication that she didn't want to.
TODD: Spears told the judge she was put on lithium, despite her objections. While she was on lithium, a strong drug used to treat depression and bipolar disorder, Spears said, quote, I felt drunk. I couldn't even stick up for myself.
And she said, under the conservatorship, she can't get married or have a child. Quote, I have an IUD inside of myself so I don't get pregnant. I wanted to take the IUD out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won't let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don't want me to have children.
TURNER: Those are all things that are tough to hear and traumatic, knowing that she's lived this whole life underneath this conservatorship for 13 years.
TODD: Since 2008, Britney Spears' father, Jamie Spears, has had remarkable control over several aspects of his daughter's life, including her money. He petitioned the court for legal authority over her because of concerns about her mental health and potential substance abuse, and following some very public meltdowns. Including one in 2007, where a head-shaved Britney wielded an umbrella and attacked a car belonging to a member of the paparazzi.
BRITNEY SPEARS, POP STAR: Guys, I'm scared. I'm scared. I'm scared. I'm scared. Where's the door?
TODD: Some of the singer's more erratic moments captured in a documentary produced this year by "The New York Times" and FX, titled "Framing Britney Spears".
SPEARS: Why are so close to my car?
TURNER: We saw her tumble. We saw her fall. But now, looking back at it, we know there were some mental health issues there.
TODD: But Nischelle Turner says Britney Spears is also now a story of redemption, that while battling the conservatorship and all her personal issues, she's still been one of the top earners in Hollywood in recent years. She even has a movement behind her.
Still, one attorney says conservatorships can often be difficult to get out of.
TAMAR ARMINAK, CONSERVATORSHIP ATTORNEY: The conservetee has a condition that doesn't get better over time. A lot of times, it involves dementia or significant mental illness that stays with the person. So there's always the risk that if you release them from the conservatorship, they may back slide and go back to where they were in the beginning of the conservatorship.
TODD (voice-over): But Attorney Tamar Arminak says she believes the judge could still grant Britney Spears a little bit more freedom and that her father could be removed as her conservator. For his part, Jamie Spears, her father, has always said he was doing what he had to do to keep his daughter safe and healthy. After Britney Spears' testimony, a lawyer for the father read a statement saying that he's saddened to see his daughter in so much pain, that he loves his daughter and that he misses her -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's see what happens down the road.
Brian Todd, thanks for that report. Brian Todd helping us appreciate this story.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.