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The Situation Room
FBI Releases Horrific Videos From January 6 Riot At Capitol; New Forecast Shows Elsa Expected To Become A Hurricane Before Landfall Over The Northern Florida Gulf Coast; Thirty-Six Confirmed Dead In Condo Collapse, 109 Unaccounted For; Biden Renews Outreach Plans As Vaccination Pace Slows, Aggressive Delta Variant Spreads In U.S.; At Least 233 Killed In More Than 500 Shootings Across U.S. During The Fourth Of July Weekend; Gaetz Confidante Asks To Delay His Sentencing In Sex Trafficking Probe In Order To Continue Cooperating With Investigators. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired July 06, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Will his updated strategy for getting shot at arms work?
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're on THE SITUATION ROOM.
And we begin this hour with the breaking news on those horrific new videos from January 6th. Our Law Enforcement Correspondent Whitney Wild is covering it all for us. Whitney, as we watch these new images, you are also learning more about ongoing security problems at the U.S. Capitol. Update our viewers.
WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, these videos are gut-wrenching, they are chilling and they are the very thing that police officers worry could happen with these constant threats that are still lingering. Federal officials warning about ramped up potential threats over the summer. All of this as the agency they work for maintains they have made big changes.
WILD (voice over): Tonight, roughly a dozen newly released videos show rioters' vicious attacks on police. In one video rioters are heard chanting, our house. In another, a man in a pro-Trump hat fights with law enforcement. And this footage release Tuesday by the Justice Department captures the moment a rioter allegedly stole a badge and radio from D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone.
Six months after the insurrection, a Capitol Police say the agency is changing to adapt to the threat landscape. They purchased more equipment, offered new training and now share intelligence with officers, something glaringly absent before rioters attacked the Capitol.
But officers tell CNN they're worried the changes amount to marginal differences and fear they're no better prepared today than they were in early January. Since the insurrection, at least 75 officers have resigned.
TERRY GAINER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Providing security is done by people. Those officers have to be rested, trained, sharp with good information and well-led. When morale is bad, that makes it more difficult.
WILD: Terry Gainer is a CNN Contributor and the former Chief of Capitol Police as well as a former Senate Sergeant at Arms. He worked on the first review of Capitol security that generated more than 100 recommendations from hiring hundreds more officers to ramping up intelligence operations.
GAINER: We thought some of the recommendations could take upwards of a year or two.
WILD: Physical security around Capitol Hill is slimming. The National Guard, once a large presence, is gone, the outer perimeter fence taken down, and in coming days, the inner perimeter fence will likely be folded up too, according to reports. Long-term fixes will ultimately require Congress to pay for them.
WILD (on camera): Wolf, these Capitol Police officers should in theory get a break in August because that's when Congress will take a vacation. However, there is this conspiracy out there floating in the far-right corners of the internet that former President Donald Trump will return to the White House. That has Capitol Police officers very worried that they could see something similar, maybe not on the scale but a new threat come August.
And, so, they are very worried watching these changes of Capitol Police closely. We've learned from a source that security officials told Capitol Police right now they're monitoring the situation, but there haven't been any new definitive security plans, Wolf.
BLITZER: Whitney Wild, excellent reporting. Thank you very, very much.
Let's discuss this with the former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe. He's a CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst. He's also the author of the book, The Threat, How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump. Also with us, our Senior Political Correspondent Abby Phillip and CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman, the Washington Correspondent for The New York Times.
You know, Andrew, the new video that we just saw, we saw the rioters stealing Officer Fanone's badge and his radio, what can we learn as we take a closer look at all these videos that are coming in, especially the ones that came in today?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Sure. So, Wolf, we had this conversation many times, and each time I have told you buckle in. We're going to see more of these videos. We're going to see more gritty detail. We're going to see more horrific assaults on Metropolitan Police officers and Capitol Police officers. And that is what we see in these videos. If you read the statement of the agent that supported the arrest warrant in this particular case, it goes through each of the details about how this individual ripped the badge off of his chest, took it with him when he left that day, lied about it to the agents when interviewed, took it home to Buffalo, New York and buried it in his backyard. So you are really getting the inside details on how each and every one of these Capitol rioters executed their particular criminal acts.
BLITZER: And more than 500 already have been charged and indicted. You know, Maggie, look at the way these rioters were attacking police officers in these videos, this was an assault on the American democracy, yet Republicans, at least many of them in Congress, seemingly have no interest in addressing the cause of this riot.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, either addressing it, Wolf, or downplaying it, you know neither one of them, frankly are good routes for Republicans. They want to wish it away entirely for the -- not all of them but for the most part Republican leadership does, because among other things, it is bad for them in the 2022 midterm elections, where they're hoping to take the House back and to take the Senate back.
They are concerned that they are going to turn off former President Trump's voters who support him, supported some of the activities that took place, are buying into these wild conspiracy theories based on falsehoods that, you know, either that there is wide spread fraud or that former President Trump is somehow coming back. They just want move past it. However, they talk about moving past it. And the former president is stuck on the election. It's all he talks about. But he doesn't want to talk about January 6th. And images like this are why.
There is really no good answer for this from Republicans, particularly Republicans who, as this was all going on, when this session was reconvened to certify the Electoral College vote and to certify President Biden's win, some Republicans still objected to that. And so that is all why they don't want to revisit this, but, again, there are going to be more videos. This is just going to keep going as the various investigations continue.
BLITZER: Yes, you are absolutely right. You know, Abby, you know, what's clear from the videos is that members of Congress, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, they were all endangered. And you would think they would all want to know why and they would all want to learn so that it doesn't happen again. But they can't get there -- Congress can't get its act together.
ABBY PHILLIPS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, they can't get their act together because at the core of this is these election conspiracy theories. And I think people at home may be tired of hearing about them but that is what is behind the brutality that we are seeing on these videos. It is what, as Maggie said, that former President Trump continues to talk about every single day, and he is the person setting the agenda for the entire Republican Party.
So the reason that Republicans in Congress don't want to talk about January 6th is because Trump doesn't want to talk about January 6th. Trump doesn't want to get to the core of what happened on that day, and he is setting the agenda for the Republican Party.
BLITZER: You spent 21 years in the FBI, worked your way up to deputy director. Is the U.S. Capitol today, six months after the January 6th insurrection, exactly six months, is it safer than it was then?
MCCABE: I think you could make the argument, Wolf, that it's less safe than it was, certainly in the immediate aftermath of the riot. Those fences we've seen are gone. The concertina wire is gone. The National Guard soldiers are gone.
And we still haven't made the commitment of resources to the Capitol P.D. that is necessary by every estimation to bring them up to the place where we're all comfortable that they can handle the next riot. There is a lot of work left to be done and a lot of money and time that needs to go there.
BLITZER: A few months ago, there were thousands of National Guard troops.
MCCABE: That's right.
BLITZER: There were armored vehicles. There was the razor wire over the external perimeter fencing and all that. A lot of that is gone right now.
You know, Maggie, some security analysts are already looking ahead to a potential threat in August when these conspiracy theorists falsely believe former President Trump would be reinstated over at the White House. The former president has no interest in tamping down those conspiracies, does he?
HABERMAN: No, he does not, Wolf. And, look, I mean, you saw a statement that he put out in the last couple of weeks. I don't remember precisely when but he said something about 2024 or before. And that was leaning into this false idea that he could somehow be reinstated.
Look, he has been laser focused for months on these controversial audits and that is a term that is not widely agreed upon, they're taking place in places like Arizona, lawsuits in Georgia. He continues to believe that there's going to be something that will undo Joe Biden's win in one of those states that made Joe Biden president, which he is now, and that somehow this will either muddy up his victory or that it could end up going to the Supreme Court and then returning the victory to the former president.
It's very, very hard to track the roots of this conspiracy theory and how they suggest it would happen but this is something that the former president has been focused on for many months. This is not just in the dark recesses of the internet. This is also people like the CEO of MyPillow, Mike Landell, a
supporter of the former president who talks to him a lot and spoke publicly about this. As long as you have the former president of the United States privately and not so privately and privately encouraging these thoughts, it is going to continue.
BLITZER: You know, so as long as -- Maggie, I just want to be precise. As long as the president is stoking these lies, is it safe to say the threat will remain here in Washington?
HABERMAN: I think that they were going -- I think there would be a threat whether he was doing it or not, but I certainly think it does not help tamp things down, when you have somebody who is still the leader of the Republican Party until there is another Republican nominee for president, he will be the leader. When you have somebody who is the leader of the Republican Party feeding this and playing into this and giving supporters hope of some kind or another, that is only going to add fuel to the fire.
I don't think you can say he is directly responsible if something happens because, you know, I think this was going on before that, but he is certainly not helping to tamp it down and he could.
BLITZER: You know, it so worrisome, Abby, when you see what's going on. It's hard to believe six months after the insurrection that there are these people out there still stoking and promoting all these lies.
PHILLIPS: And, in fact, actually, Wolf, it is getting worse. The lies and the conspiracies are getting more outlandish because after all this time, Trump has not been reinstated. There's been this pile of evidence showing effectively no fraud. And so the conspiracies are getting more crazy and that's what makes this whole situation so dangerous, because at the end of the day, it's radicalizing a large swath of the electorate in the United States.
70 percent of Republican, according to some polls, believed that there was widespread fraud in the election. A chunk of those people believe these lies. That's a really dangerous thing for this country. It's a dangerous thing for democracy. And there is no one except for a handful of Republicans in Washington on the Republican side willing to say it has to stop and it has to stop now. That's incredibly notable after six months of all of this.
BLITZER: I just want to follow-up. Do you think it would be time right now to beef up security on Capitol Hill, bring some National Guard troops in, armored vehicles, the razor wire, expand the perimeter of the fencing?
MCCABE: There is no question we have an ongoing threat from these sorts of domestic extremist groups we have been tracking. There's no question Abby is exactly right. The tenor of the conspiracy theories is getting worse. They're not getting closer to success. Who knows what that leads to in the end. I think we should be constantly reevaluating the security situation on the Hill and looking to bolster that as necessary, Wolf.
BLITZER: Reports are the next few days they might be removing the final perimeter fencing.
PHILLIPS: And I do think that we need to learn more about what is happening on the intelligence side, what are people taking seriously about the threats that are out there that are being talked about on the internet. It is not just people at the Capitol physically. It is about finding the threats before they even show up there.
And I think we still have a lot of questions, more questions than answers, about how prepared, you know, the entire intelligence apparatuses to find these people and stop these threats before they happen.
BLITZER: Abby, Andrew, and Maggie, guys thank you, guys, very, very much. We're going to stay on top of this story for sure. And just ahead, we're going to get an update on the search for victims in the condo collapse as the death toll rises and the operation is threatened by severe weather. Stay with us. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We're following two breaking stories out of Florida right now. Tropical storm Elsa is now forecast to become a hurricane before it makes landfall over the state's northern gulf coast in the hours ahead. This as the confirmed death toll from the condo collapse in Surfside has now climbed to 36. So 109 still unaccounted for, 109 people still unaccounted for.
CNN Leyla Santiago is on the scene for us. Leyla, we got an update from local officials just a little while ago. Tell our viewers what we learned.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miami-Dade mayor confirming that four additional bodies have been recovered from the rubble. So, as you said, that makes the death toll now stand at 36. I can tell you, we are starting to feel the wind pick up, the rain is coming back down. And this comes after lightning and wind gusts actually forced rescue crews to pause for about two hours today here in Surfside.
SANTIAGO (voice over): Tonight, the search and rescue effort growing more urgent as Tropical Storm Elsa looms closer to Florida, the outer bands of wind and rain already being felt in Surfside.
MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FL: Despite the rain and the other adverse conditions, we have recovered four additional victims. The number of confirmed deaths is now 36.
SANTIAGO: Teams still working as long as wind gusts remain under 45 miles per hour. CAVA: They were forced to pause for a little bit, about two hours earlier this afternoon because of the lightning, which is mandatory to not work during lightning. And also some gusts of wind that did go above 30 miles an hour with the tropical storm.
SANTIAGO: Rescue teams now have 100 percent access to the building rubble and a third of the site where they couldn't safely explore prior to Sunday's demolition, expediting the discovery of victims, but no sign of life just yet.
CHIEF ALAN COMINSKY, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY FIRE: Unfortunately, we're not seeing anything positive that continues in that sense. You know, the key things we're looking for all throughout in regards to void space, livable spaces, you know, we're not coming across that. So we're actively searching as aggressive as we can.
SANTIAGO: While the search and rescue effort is still the main focus in Surfside, numerous investigations are happening simultaneously and new federal partners are arriving in the community to assist in the investigation.
CAVA: The National Institute for Standard and Technology is leading the federal investigation, and they have been able to tag all of the evidence that has been already gathered, and they are vetted and working with our police department to tag everything that is coming through the pile. The whole world wants to know what happened here.
SANTIAGO (on camera): And, Wolf, we're starting to see activity just outside the building collapse area pick up. And that is because for the first time, officials are allowing media to have access to where they have been searching for 13 days now. So our teams will be in there and we'll have more to report soon for you.
BLITZER: We certainly will anticipate that. Leyla Santiago on the scene for us in Surfside, thank you very much.
And we did learn from the mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, just a little while ago, she got a phone call earlier today from President Biden, who was just there a few days ago, offering his support and offering to the mayor any additional federal support that they need. Obviously, he was very moved by what he saw when he was there last week.
Let's get some more on the challenges of the search and rescue operation in Surfside right now. We're joined by the commander of the Israeli Military's National Rescue Unit, Colonel Golan Vach. He's been assisting with the condo collapse search since the very, very beginning almost. Colonel Vach, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for all you're doing.
As you know, this storm, Elsa, is approaching hurricane strength right now. Mayor Daniella Levine Cava just said the search had to pause earlier due to lightning, gusts of wind. What does that mean for the search and rescue operation?
COL. GOLAN VACH, COMMANDER, IDF NATIONAL RESCUE UNIT: Good evening. The search and rescue operation continues. And just when it's too rainy and too stormy, we stop for a couple of moments, hour or two. But, as you know, soldiers and firefighters do not melt in rain.
BLITZER: As you know, Colonel Vach, you have now full access to the collapse site after the demolition of the remaining tower. How has that impacted the pace of this operation?
VACH: It scaled up the operation. We are working now more fast than at the beginning when we had the risk of the remaining building. Now, we have access to almost, almost all the building except, of course, the basement that is still blocked by the building that collapsed into it.
BLITZER: So what exactly is happening at the site, if you could be a little bit more precise? Have you been able to move new equipment in? Are more people able to work at the same time?
VACH: Yes. I want to illustrate our methodology, our plan by this diagram. So we can see here our plan. Our plan is the fire department team's plan and as well as we, we see the apartments with different colors, each apartment from 4 to 12. And inside the apartments, we see the black dots. Each dot symbolizes one of the missing people that we are looking for.
The red -- the red grid symbolize and allocate every one of the team commanders on site that could find themselves. We painted it on the sidewalks. And each one of the responders, each one of the commanders can know exactly where he is standing and who he is looking for.
BLITZER: You've said, Colonel Vach, that you actually told family members, and I know this is very difficult, very painful, that the chances of finding someone alive in the rubble are now close to zero. At what point do you believe this should move from a search and rescue operation to a recovery mission?
VACH: As I said before, I'm not dealing the official statement what phase we are on. Right now, we get all we need to extract, to find, to pull out people that we find, and for me, this statement does not mean anything. We've got all we need, many -- enough hands on the deck, enough vehicle, enough machines, so we got all we need.
BLITZER: 36 confirmed deaths so far. I know just a little while ago, you recovered four more bodies, 36 confirmed deaths. The mayor says 109 people are still unaccounted for. Colonel Vach, tell us about that. How do you go about looking for those 109 people?
VACH: Those are people that we are looking for, and I think that right now we have found about 6 to 12 people each 24 hours, so make the count how much time it will take.
BLITZER: I know you and your Israeli colleagues have been doing this all over the world on many occasions, earthquakes, hurricanes, terror attacks, et cetera, but tell us a little bit the toll, how it's taking on your men and women who are with you as well as on yourself when you see what's going on down there in Surfside.
VACH: It's the same all over the world. When we see signs for a potential void, we are happy.
We are ready to crawl inside to call the names of the missing people. And when we see people that are not alive, we are trying to find out how to carry and to pull them out with most respect and dignity there could be. And we do it. It's not easy. It takes time. It will take time. But we are with you.
BLITZER: Colonel Golan Vach of the IDF, thank you so much for doing what you are doing. Thank you so much for joining us.
VACH: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, President Biden ratchets up his warning about the dangers of the delta variant as he pleads with unvaccinated Americans, pleads with them to go get their COVID shots.
BLITZER: President Biden is making a new appeal to unvaccinated Americans tonight. He's warning about the danger they face as the delta variant spreads aggressively around the country, especially among people who haven't gotten their COVID-19 shots.
Let's go to our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly. Phil, after the president fell short of his July 4th vaccination goal, what's his strategy now?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Double down, Wolf, and not in the mass vaccination effort you've seen over the course of the last several months but in pursuing a more targeted approach, a series of initiatives the administration has had in place really wants to kind move more forcefully on that will directly reach those areas with the least vaccinated people. It's something that underscores an urgent concern the administration has as the delta variant starts to emerge across the country.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: So please get vaccinated now.
MATTINGLY (voice over): Tonight President Biden pleading with millions of Americans to do the one thing proven to defeat COVID-19, get vaccinated.
BIDEN: If you are vaccinated, you are protected. But if you are unvaccinated you are not.
MATTINGLY: Laying out a series of expanded initiatives design to target areas with the lowest vaccination numbers. Biden's remarks which followed a briefing from his top COVID advisers underscored their urgency felt by the administration, but the clock ticking.
BIDEN: Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected.
MATTINGLY: Even in the wake of historic success in its vaccine roll- out, the White House now finds itself in a race against the spread of the delta variant.
BIDEN: It's more easily transmissible, potentially more dangerous. It seems to me that should cause everybody to think twice. And it should cause reconsideration, especially in young people.
MATTINGLY: After months of steady and in some cases dramatic declines, the variant driving an increase in new cases and no secret where transmission is highest, the series of states with the lowest vaccination rates.
ERIK FREDERICK, CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, MERCY HOSPITAL SPRINGFIELD: It is almost done, I think, a sense of shock a little bit, like how did we end up back here, a sense of fatigue and frustration knowing there is a readily available solution to this problem and we have so much reticence in the community to step in and join collectively in this fight to kind of get things back to normal.
MATTINGLY: Including Missouri, where the seven-day average for new cases has raise in 165 percent compared of this time last month, as stories of new outbreaks start to trickle in, including from this church in Galveston, Texas, which is forced to shutter after more than 125 people tested positive after attending summer camp, the vast majority made up of teens eligible for the vaccination yet likely unvaccinated.
ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: Obviously parents need to decide in this, and kids need to decide to this for themselves. But we in the U.S. have determined that if you are over 12, it is safe to get vaccinated.
MATTINGLY: Underscoring the rising concern inside the White House across each groups, all as warnings about the delta variant continue to grow. The Israeli Health Ministry releasing preliminary data showing the Pfizer vaccine protected 64 percent of inoculated people from infection, down from 95 percent before.
But crucially, the vaccine is still 93 percent effective in preventing severe illness in the same group, underscoring a message Biden and his team are practically shouting out to the country right now.
BIDEN: You can do this. You can do this. Let's finish the job. Finish it together.
MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Wolf, White House officials have spoken to really frame this as the grind it out phase of this vaccination process. They're going to be sending individuals, going door to door, trying to get information to those who have not been vaccinated yet. Push more vaccines to primary care physicians, pediatricians knowing
that people including those who haven't been vaccinated tend to trust their doctors, maybe more willing to be vaccinated by their personal doctors, also expanding mobile vaccination units, trying to set up vaccination opportunities at people's workplaces, grasping the fact that part-time matters. Some people just don't have the time to get off of work, trying to bring vaccination to people, trying to make it as easily accessible as possible, trying to get it from the individuals they trust most.
That is the strategy right now. They know it will be slow in plotting. But there is no question about it, the White House making clear, the president making clear, they are not giving up on their efforts any time soon, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. All right, Phil, thank you very much, Phil Mattingly reporting.
Let's bring in our Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen. She is an Emergency Room Physician, former Baltimore City Health Commissioner. Dr. Wen, thanks for joining us.
As you heard, the president is doubling down on the same strategies, but how far will that go with many American who is haven't been convinced they need a vaccine?
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I do think that President Biden's efforts are going to make an impact. It will definitely make an impact for individuals who otherwise may not have had the information, who will benefit from that door to door outreach.
This work is hard.
And so I commend the Biden administration for committing to it. But I also think they need to realize the limitations of this approach. It's not going to have a dramatic impact. What will is for them to get behind the idea of a vaccine credential, not a federal mandate by any means. But rather there are businesses, there are universities that want to mandate vaccines, and the federal government can help.
And I also think the Biden administration has to change their approach. They have to stop talking about vaccines as an individual choice, because if you are vaccinated, it actually also matters whether the people around you are also vaccinated. If there are lots of unvaccinated people around you and in high transmission area, even if you are vaccinated, you are at risk for contracting coronavirus and potentially transmitting it to others. And they really need to spread that message about the likelihood of breakthrough infections with the delta variant.
BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point. You know about the statement from the Israeli government on the Pfizer vaccine's effectiveness. That statement is raising new fears. It's still 93 percent effective, the Pfizer vaccine, against severe illness and hospitalization but they saw a big drop to 64 percent efficacy over all. Does that spell potential trouble here in the U.S. where this new delta variant is gaining a lot of ground?
WEN: Well, the top line news is still good because 93 percent protection against severe disease, against hospitalization and death, that's what we care about the most.
But I think this Israeli information really should compel the CDC to issue some kind of statement because we really need to understand if it's true, if it's true, that the vaccines that we have are only 60- some percent effective in protecting against the delta variant, then that really changes what it is that vaccinated people who live at home with those who are immune-compromised or unvaccinated children, for example, how they should behave.
Also right now, our recommendations say that if you are exposed to COVID-19, that you don't even need to be tested or quarantined if you got vaccinated. But maybe we should be changing our recommendations as Israel has done.
BLITZER: Take a look at this map, Dr. Wen, 11 states now in red and orange. They're seeing a spike in new cases overall in the country, more than 200 Americans are still dying of COVID every day, more than 12,000 new daily cases. How dangerous is the trend that we're seeing?
WEN: It spells danger. There are vast parts of the country that don't have enough immunity, either through recovery from COVID-19 or through a vaccination. Those are the areas that we could really have huge outbreaks, and we're already seeing what happened in Texas with high schoolers, more than 125 kids and campers who are infected. That could happen all over the country, with knock-on effects throughout the U.S.
BLITZER: Dr. Wen, thanks as usual for joining us.
WEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, a grim snapshot of gun violence over the July 4th holiday weekend here in the U.S. New York now declaring a disaster emergency.
BLITZER: Very disturbing new numbers are out showing the deadly toll of gun violence over the 4th of July weekend here in the United States. There were more than 500 shootings leaving at least 233 people dead, more than 600 wounded. The New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, has declared a disaster emergency in his state because of the gun violence epidemic. He says more people in New York are dying from shootings than from the coronavirus in recent days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We went from one epidemic to another epidemic. We went from COVID to the epidemic of gun violence, and the fear and the death that goes along with it. It's been all over the newspapers. It is undeniable. It is so bad that when you look at the recent numbers, more people are dying of gun violence than of COVID.
Somebody said to me on July 4th weekend, those weren't fireworks you were hearing, those were gun fires.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's dig deeper with the former New York Police commissioner and Los Angeles Police chief, by the way, Bill Bratton. He's the author of a brand new, very important, very timely new book, The Profession, A Memoire of Community, Race and the Ark of Policing in America. Commissioner, thank you so much for joining us. Congratulations on this excellent new book.
First of all, do you agree with Governor Cuomo's assessment? Is gun violence here in the United States a new epidemic?
WILLIAM BRATTON, CO-OUTHOR, THE PROFESSION: It's not new. It's been basically paralleling the coronavirus epidemic. But now that that epidemic is subsiding, thank God, the parallel epidemic is now rising to the surface. So this epidemic has been underway for a couple of years, but nobody is paying much attention to it.
BLITZER: And we should be paying attention to it. As you know gun violence in New York State is up by around 32 percent over the same period last year. So far there have been -- these numbers are staggering -- 773 shooting with 895 victims in New York. You used to lead the NYPD. What goes through your mind when you hear those awful numbers?
BRATTON: Great frustration, because until 2018, we had conquered crime in New York City. Homicides were down by 90 percent, overall crime by 80 percent. But then the legislature in Albany, in New York went into the mix with a well-intended but incredibly flawed criminal justice reform set of initiatives.
And that's the crime epidemic began in New York. So you don't have to look too far as to where it began basically in Albany. Now, Albany is going to try and solve it after the fact.
BLITZER: As the former chief of a major metropolitan police department, how much can individual police officers, police chiefs, how much can they really do about this crisis?
BRATTON: Police are the essential element in any plan trying to deal with this. The governor come out with a seven-point initiative today that sounds a bit like a wedding, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, the police.
It's a good first step. But I haven't seen all the details of it, but a lot more is going to need to be done including in the case of New York City, New York state, reforming the reforms which are still having a great impact. The court system is basically failing to function as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, very slow to get back into operation.
Over 5,000 individuals in New York right now who are arrested for gun charges who are still on the streets of New York. They basically have not been tried. So, hopefully, in addition to that seven-point plan, they will take a close look at the courts.
Other cities have their own unique sets of problems. So there is no one for each American city. Each one will have to their version or variant of the crime virus.
The good news is that we conquered this once before. It may take longer this time because of the terrible politics that we have in the country right now with neither side talking to each other. But believe me, police will have to be an essential element to dealing with this problem. And right now, they're demoralized, dispirited, defunded in many locations.
New York City, for example, is still basically defunding their police by almost $1 billion from last year. If you want to solve the problem, you have to figure out who can help to most quickly deal with it. Right now, most cities don't have those answers.
BLITZER: Bill Bratton, thanks so much for all your service. Thanks so much for writing your new book, "The Profession: A Memoir of Community, Race and the Art of Policing in America". There you see the cover right there.
Bill Bratton joining us. Appreciate it very, very much.
Coming up, a twist to the sprawling sex trafficking probe and what it could mean for Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz.
BLITZER: A confidante of Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz is asking to delay his sentencing so he can continue cooperating with investigators in a sprawling sex trafficking probe.
CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paul Reid is here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM.
So, what does this tell us about the level of this guy's cooperation?
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: So, he was scheduled to be sentenced on August 19 after he pleaded guilty to six federal charges, and as part of his cooperation agreement, it was expected that he would provide evidence against several other people, including Congressman Gaetz. Now, in terms of this 90-day delay, this doesn't mean much to the congressman.
I've spoken with several sources close to this case. This is really more about other issues. He owes some of his other victims money in this case. So it's more about restitution, and some other sentencing related issues. It's not about cooperation against Congressman Matt Gaetz.
The investigation into the congressman, it does not hinge on Joel Greenberg. It can't. He is such a problematic witness.
One of the things that he admitted to was falsely accusing somebody else of being a pedophile. So the investigation into Congressman Gaetz, they're relying on a lot of other witnesses and documents, not just Joel Greenberg.
BLITZER: So, he's going to -- they're going to now wait another three months before he gets a sentence?
REID: It's expected that the judge will agree and give this extra time before he gets his sentence. What's interesting is we know since the investigation of the congressman, that's active and ongoing. They are still bringing witnesses before the grand jury. We've also learned that investigators -- they have done another round of outreach to some of the women involved in this alleged sex trafficking, alleged prostitution.
So, this investigation is ongoing and it really looks like from our reporting that investigators are trying to cross their T's and dot their I's before they make this really critical decision about whether they can really charge the congressman or anyone else involved in this.
BLITZER: Based on your reporting, Paula, are these other women cooperating with the investigators?
REID: It does appear that they have mostly gotten the kind of cooperation that they expected. Not across the board. Not everyone is as honest or cooperative as they had hoped, but it does appear many of these women, most of them have lawyers, most of them I spoke with. They are engaging, not necessarily formal cooperation agreements, but answering the questions, and in some cases appearing before the grand jury.
BLITZER: All right. We rely on you for this kind of information. Thanks, Paula, very, very much. Paula Reid reporting for us on these late developments.
Coming up, we'll have the latest on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. We're going to Kabul for the very latest.
BLITZER: Tonight, after two decades of war, the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is almost, almost over. The last U.S. troops left the Bagram Air Force Base on Friday. Now there is growing concern about the Taliban moving into more territory.
CNN's Anna Coren has the latest from Kabul.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as the security situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, U.S. Central Command has announced that more than 90 percent of U.S. withdrawal is now complete. It comes days after U.S. and NATO forces flew out of Bagram Air Force Base, once the nerve center of U.S. operations in America's 20-year war.
Since President Biden announced the withdrawal back in April, the equivalent of approximately 984 C-17 loads of equipment has been flown back to the U.S. Six hundred and fifty U.S. Marines will remain in Afghanistan to protect the U.S. embassy, while other troops will secure the international airport until a permanent arrangement is reached with Turkish forces.
But while these maybe the end of America's war, for Afghanistan, it is just another chapter. An emboldened Taliban is launching wide scale offense around the country, particularly in the north, with tens of people have been displaced as they flee the fighting.
Peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are at a virtual standstill and the threat of civil war is looming.
For the Afghans that we speak to, they say there is no end in sight for the violence and have no confidence they will ever be at peace in this country -- Wolf.
BLITZER: CNN's Anna Coren, doing amazing reporting for us. Stay safe over there. Anna Coren in Kabul.
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.