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Source: McCarthy Almost Certain To Tap Trusted Allies For Jan. 6 Panel; Marjorie Taylor Greene Compares Biden Vaccine Push To Nazi- Era "Brown Shirts" Week After Apologizing For Holocaust Comments; Trump Files Lawsuits Against Twitter, Google And Facebook Over His Removal From Sites; Sources: Condo Search Transitioning From Rescue To Recovery; New COVID Cases Three Times Higher In States With Low Vaccination Rates As Aggressive Delta Variant Spreads; Haitian PM Declares "State Of Siege" After President Assassinated. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 07, 2021 - 17:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now with a dangerous storm hits Florida the search for victims of the condo collapse grows increasingly grim, with more bodies found and no sign anyone that have survived beneath the rubble.

Also this hour, chilling plot linked to a Capitol rioters revealed involving bombs, a "Bible study" group and a plan to secede from the United States.

And Donald Trump is now suing, suing over his ban on social media accusing Twitter, Facebook and Google have censorship even as he keeps spreading the lies that got him booted.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with new details of our plans to remove the protective fencing around the U.S. Capitol that was put up after the January 6 Capitol insurrection. Our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles is joining us right now.

Ryan, is six months after the January 6 insurrection, there are now some major developments unfolding in the investigation and the security perimeter guarding the U.S. Capitol. What are you learning?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. This is significant. It's the final temporary security structure that was put up in the wake of the Capitol insurrection. And it is finally coming down. It's the fencing that wraps around Capitol Square, the Capitol building itself in the U.S. Capitol board.

That's the group that oversees security here on Capitol Hill making the announcement today in an e-mail to those affected parties. It said, quote, "Please know that the Architect of the Capitol has the ability to and will reinstall the temporary fencing should conditions warrant. Though the temporary fencing will be removed, the building access restrictions implemented in response to COVID-19 are still in place and will be enforced."

That means access to these buildings will still be contingent on having some sort of a credential or be invited to a meeting by someone who works here in the Capitol. And that means tours of the Capitol are still not something that's going to happen in the near future.

One other note, there will be bike racks placed along the west terrorists in areas that are not accessible to the public. That's important, of course, because that West terrorist was one of the first areas that was breached by rioters on the day of the Capitol insurrection.

And so, this movement towards normalcy here on Capitol Hill comes in the wake of developments as it relates to the investigation as to what happened on that day and the formation of the select committee that's being implemented by the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She's already appointed her eight members to that group. They actually met today virtually this afternoon. It's the question now as to who the Republican members of this committee will be.

And we're told that the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is beginning to strategize as to exactly who he'll put on this panel. Of course, the House Speaker does have ultimate veto power, it's expected that McCarthy is going to pick those that are loyal to him, but at the same time won't be thought of as someone who's going to come in and create problems for this committee, but what the same time defend Republican interests. And you can see some of the names that are being put on as possible picks by McCarthy.

It's also thought that McCarthy may even select someone who did not vote to object through the election results. So Wolf, this will be a key development that we're watching for who will McCarthy appointed that panel. His picks could come as soon as next week. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we'll watch that obviously very significant.

As you know, Ryan, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has already apologized for the truly awful comments she made comparing mask wearing to Star of David -- Jews being forced to wear a Star of David during the Holocaust. What is she saying now?

NOBLES: Well, Wolf, you know, I was there when she made that initial apology for her comments related to the Holocaust a few weeks ago, but it seems as though she's not listening to the own message that she tried to send on that day. She recently sent out a tweet, criticizing the Biden administration's plans to reach out to people in remote areas that may have a difficult time getting the COVID vaccine by going door to door and offering that vaccine for free. She called them medical "brown shirts" and suggested that they were a part of a medical experiment being implemented by the Biden administration.

Of course, the brown shirts, that was a moniker for those Nazi soldiers that were involved in rounding up Jewish people during the Holocaust. Again, Jewish groups already coming out to condemn these remarks by Marjorie Taylor Greene. Once again, pointing out to her that it is never appropriate to compare anything to that period of time in the world's history.

And this particular comparison makes absolutely no sense because the COVID vaccine is not being required to be taken by anyone. They're just offering it if someone would like the opportunity to have it and it is difficult for them to get it. But as you point out Wolf, she just does not seem to get it.


BLITZER: Yes, she doesn't get it at all. All right, Ryan Nobles, thank you very much.

Let's get some analysis. Joining us now, CNN's Political Director David Chalian and CNN Special Correspondent, Jamie Gangel.

Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

I want to get to all of that, David. But first, the House Minority Leader McCarthy trying to put together now five members will go on this special committees. Got a difficult act to walk right now.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. And as Ryan reminded us, rightly so, Nancy Pelosi has veto power over anybody that Kevin McCarthy puts on this committee, which is why I think you're seeing him try to build something that's a bit of a mix, that are not just all fire bomb throwers who are just going to do complete Trump protection. There will be plenty of those up.

But remember, Kevin McCarthy wants to be Speaker of the House, that's what dominates all of the thinking. So he's going to make sure he has some loyal folks to him who are part of this so that this committee doesn't steer off course and consume the Republican Party next year, as they're trying to make their case to voters to become the majority party in the House.

BLITZER: And no matter which Republicans he picks, Jamie, there already is one Republican that Nancy Pelosi selected to be on this special committee. We're talking about Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: The one he doesn't want to be on the committee.

This is a no win situation for Kevin McCarthy. As David said, he wants to be Speaker of the House. But if this is a circus, that doesn't help him become Speaker of the House.

The other problem he has is who's going to accept this? Does Jim Jordan want to be on it? Absolutely. But that's going to be, and David's -- as David said, a bomb thrower. He needs to have some responsible Republicans. And responsible Republicans may not want to do this, because it's not good for them politically. And they may simply not want to appear to be on the wrong side of history and the insurrection. BLITZER: What do you think of these latest comments, really awful comments by Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying that individuals who are going house to house, you know, just recommending to people that they go get a vaccination to deal with COVID, especially this new variant, this Delta variant, they're like "brown shirts?"


BLITZER: You know, which were the Nazi soldiers during World War II who went house to house to select Jews and others for extermination.

CHALIAN: So let's separate the substance of what she's trying to do from the anti-Semitism, which we'll get to in just a moment. As you noted, the Delta variant is taking off right now, especially in unvaccinated communities where vaccination rates are very low.

Why on earth is a congresswoman not out there every day protecting her constituents by urging them to get a vaccine, by welcoming the opportunity to have people reaching into every corner of the country, again, not with a requirement with information, with access to the vaccine, because it makes the country healthier? So, that is the first question is, why are you discouraging that with this?

Then there is the anti-Semitism. I mean, we -- I think it's fair to say a lot of us observed her apology after her tour at the Holocaust Museum, and basically set your watch for when this was going to expire. We now have the answer to that. But in what universe does a politician not learn the fact, you just don't make any comparison to the Holocaust or to Hitler or to the -- or to Nazism, because there is no comparison. It has no place in our modern political discourse.

GANGEL: And to David's point, I think that it is happening in a post- Trump world. This used to not be acceptable. People knew better than to say this. But after four years of Donald Trump, anything goes.

It's not just sad. It's not just dangerous because people are going to die because they're not vaccinated. It's also dangerous because we are seeing rising anti-Semitism, we are seeing more and more attacks. It is irresponsible. And just appalling.

BLITZER: Yes, I thought she would learn something by touring the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum here in Washington. Clearly, she missed out. Didn't learn much.

Guys, thank you very, very much.

We're also learning right now, some disturbing new information about one of the latest suspects arrested in the U.S. Capitol siege investigation. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, this man apparently was part of a self-proclaimed "Bible study" group. Is that right?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's a loosely knit group that prosecutors say this man was affiliated with, Wolf. What we're learning from court documents tonight speaks to what experts say is their broader concern that extremists remain obsessed with the U.S. Capitol.


TODD (voice-over): New information tonight on a chilling alleged plot to attack the Capitol after January 6. Among the rioters at the Capitol that day process say there was an obscure man who videotaped himself inside the Capitol and was caught on surveillance cameras wearing a white mask shaped like a wide grin. Court documents say the man identified as Fi Duong was trying to disguise himself as someone from Antifa and spoke to an undercover Washington D.C. police officer at the Capitol on January 6.


By mid-January, the document say, an FBI undercover agent made contact with Duong, who introduced the agent to a loose unnamed group of likeminded people. The agent went with Duong to a Bible study meeting in Alexandria, Virginia in February, where in addition to discussing biblical verses, they talked about seceding from the U.S. and weapons and combat training.

It was around that time, prosecutors say, that Duong and his group started surveilling the Capitol. And the undercover agent learned that Duong and his friends had a cache of weapons like AK-47s and materials for Molotov cocktails.

JOANNA MENDELSON, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, ADL CENTER EXTREMISM: This arrest signifies that for some January 6 is just the beginning. If you believe that the election was stolen, if you believe that the current presidency is illegitimate, if you believe that our democratic process is broken, that this could inspire future action.

TODD (voice-over): Fi Duong was arrested last week, charged with four counts related to the Capitol riot. He has not yet entered a plea. His attorney declined to comment to CNN.

Court records revealed Duong spoke of writing a manifesto and investigators noted him saying, quote, "If I get into a gunfight with the feds and I don't make it, I want to be able to transfer as much wisdom to my son as possible."

JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, THE CITIZEN LAB: What he says about the manifesto is that he's writing a manifesto in a series of letters to his son, at one point he describes it as similar to the documents that serial killers write. That way, if he gets into a conflict with the government, there will be something for his son to read that he has written.

TODD (voice-over): This comes a CNN learns of recent court documents filed in another Capitol riot case detailing a bizarre discovery. The paper say that when law enforcement searched the home of defendant Robert Morse, who faces police assault charges and other accounts connected to January 6, they found a fully constructed U.S. Capitol Lego set, though prosecutors don't say if the Legos had any particular meaning.

SCOTT-RAILTON: The Lego model speaks to something broader, which is antigovernment folks, Mujahedin (ph) and other extremists now have a clear obsession with the Capitol. And many of them seem to have taken the lesson from January 6, that the Capitol should be a focus of their attention going forward. That's obviously extremely troubling.


TODD: When law enforcement arrested Robert Morse in June, they found what appeared to be the gear that he wore on January 6, along with three guns and a notebook where prosecutors say he wrote about battle about weaponry and about creating what he called a hometown militia in addition to their discovery of that Lego set.

Robert Morse has pleaded not guilty. Next week a judge will consider whether he should remain in jail pending his trial. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Brian, thank you very much. Brian Todd with new information.

Coming up, former President Trump sues the social media giants who removed his accounts after the insurrection.



BLITZER: Today, former President Donald Trump announced he's suing major social media companies that have removed his accounts including, Twitter, Facebook and Google. He made the announcement at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, in conjunction with the America First Policy Institute, I'm filing as the lead class representative, a major class action lawsuit against the big tech giants including Facebook, Google and Twitter, as well as their CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey. Three real nice guys.

We're asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to order and immediate halt to social media companies illegal, shameful censorship of the American people and that's exactly what they are doing. We're demanding an end to the shadow banning, a stop to the silencing and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing and canceling that you know so well. Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, it's unconstitutional and it's completely un-American.


BLITZER: All right, let's discuss with Palm Beach, Florida State Attorney Dave Aronberg and CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter.

Dave, does this lawsuit stand any chance of succeeding or is it purely some sort of stunt?


Trump's chances of winning this lawsuit are about the same as his chances of getting reinstated in August. That is to say, no chance. This is a publicity stunt. And within an hour of the press conference, there were mass appeals for fundraising from his most devoted followers. So, that tells you all you need to know.

And I don't think this lawsuit is going to last very long. I expect it to be voluntarily dismissed pretty soon. Because when you file a civil lawsuit, you open yourself to depositions and document production and other types of discovery. And Trump has to know that and he doesn't want any information out there that could show his role in the January 6 insurrection.

This is the type of thing that could produce more viable information about his role in the insurrection than any January 6 commission could accomplish. So you can liken this lawsuit to a honeybee, after it stings, it dies.


BLITZER: And you would think his lawyers would have advised him about that before he went ahead and file this lawsuit.

As you know, Brian, Twitter was his lifeline, all of us know that. He had 10s of millions of followers. Now it's gone. Is this all just some sort of personal vendetta?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: He definitely has a reaction, you know, six months to the day basically, since he was banned from Twitter. But here he is trying to present a presidential looking event, trying to use Bedminster like it's a White House. And he couldn't even pronounce the Google CEOs name correctly. So this is all a bid for attention and really an attempt to tell a story.

I think this lawsuit is a storytelling strategy, Trump as the fighter battling big tech. And eventually when he loses, his fans will say, well, the deck was stacked, the courts are corrupt, et cetera, et cetera. It all plays into a story that Trump keeps telling, the story of the GOP, which is a story of victimization.

And so, I think that's what he's trying to do with his eye toward 2024. He's telling a story through this lawsuit.

BLITZER: Dave, what do you make of his claim that these companies are violating his first amendment rights?

ARONBERG: Wolf, it's constitutional law 101 that the First Amendment does not apply to nongovernmental actors. In fact, the very first sentence of the First Amendment says that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, and that was later applied to the States through the 14th amendment, but never has been applied to private companies. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear that the First

Amendment prevents government from forcing private companies to broadcast someone else's speech. And that includes those who are kicked off a social media platform for repeatedly lying about an election that led to an attempted insurrection.

BLITZER: You know, Brian, as you heard Dave say, Trump is already fundraising off this lawsuit after his announcement this morning within minutes, started fundraising on it. What does that tell you about his case?

STELTER: Right. It's like a perpetual motion machine where he comes up with his stance in order to raise money, whether it's going to the border, or now trying to sue these big tech companies.

Bottom line is, freedom of speech is not freedom of reach, that is an important expression in this case. He still has the freedom to hold a press conference and see if anyone will show up.

And he's still pretty good at manipulating the media and drawing attention to himself, but he doesn't have the freedom to force a private company to let them into his -- let him into their party. Raising money off of this lawsuit shows the real aim here, I think, which is to show that he's trying to fight big tech, and of course line his pockets while doing so. But all with an eye toward the next election. It's as if he wants to crowd out his potential rivals on stage for the coming election.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens once the other side starts asking for depositions of him.


BLITZER: Let's see what happens then.


BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you. Dave Aronberg, thanks to you as well.

Coming up, alarming new trends, as coronavirus cases here in the United States sparked by the highly contagious Delta variant are increasing in states where people have been avoiding vaccinations.



BLITZER: We're standing by for a news conference on the condo collapse in Surfside Florida, where the death toll sadly has again climbed with the recovery of yet more victims. CNN's Leyla Santiago is on the scene for us.

So, Leyla, has the pace of the search actually picked up? I understand there are some significant new developments. LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we've just spoken to some family members as well as some officials who were in a 4:30 briefing where the families were told by officials that this is now going from a search and rescue mission to a recovery mission. So that essentially tells these family members that crews will continue to dig through here, but they don't have any hope that anyone is still alive. So you can imagine how hard it is for the families to process this.

I can tell you that this afternoon, officials did take survivors and family members back to the site where the building collapse. One survivors saying that she was so overwhelmed, she had to walk away within minutes. But this is a lot to process for family members who have waited nearly two weeks for some sign of hope and now will be forced to move to a sense of closure with this announcement.

We expect to get more details in an upcoming press conference. That will be at 6:00 today. But that has just come in and we are working to talk to more family members to see what they plan to do to move forward and process all of this.

As far as the latest on the numbers, Wolf, I can tell you that the death toll stands at 46. That came from this morning's briefing.

When I spoke to somebody from a search and rescue team earlier today, it's interesting because they were saying that they understood that they represented the hope for these families and they wanted to work hard to get them closer to that. But now that this will be shifting, there will be a different tone from those search and rescue teams when we talk to them and for the families who will now be grieving.

Now, I want to point out, we are standing right in front of the building collapse but just about half a block away, the memorial site is still there on this wall. And all day we have seen people come and put flowers and pictures and they just put in new harts down (ph) with everyone's names for people to sign.


So clearly, this is a community that is grieving and is now going to take the next step in this process. Earlier today, the Mayor spoke, even she was very emotional when speaking to the media. And again, we're going to wait until 6:00 to get more details on what will happen in the hours ahead. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thirty-six confirmed deaths so far, but 100 people are still missing. We'll get new numbers at the top of the hour. Thank you very much. Leyla Santiago on the scene for us. Awful situation there.

Let's discuss this and more with Florida's Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez. Thank you so much, Lieutenant Governor for joining us. So now these sources are saying the operation, so sadly, is shifted from a search for survivors to what's called a recovery mission. Tell us about that. It's an awful situation. We were all bracing for this bad news.

LT. GOV. JEANETTE NUNEZ (R-FL): Yes, Wolf, you're correct, we've been bracing for this bad news. We understand based on the expedited recovery of victims over the last couple of days. They were able to access areas of the debris where they weren't previously able to. But it's taken an emotional toll. And you can imagine those family members that were holding on to hope having to hear that news, process that news, just for (INAUDIBLE) around.

But what I can tell you, Wolf, is that I guarantee you that those search and rescue teams that are now shifting their operation to recovery, they are going to continue to dig with the same fervor, the same passion and the same compassion that they feel towards these families to be able to uncover the remains of their loved ones. And so really, it truly is a sad day. It's been a sad for us, South Florida community, that our hearts go out to those (INAUDIBLE) that have been holding out hope over the past 14 days.

BLITZER: I know you've spent a lot of time with these families who, understandably, are so heartbroken. I was there last week, it is very, very painful to hear their stories. What's your message, Lieutenant Governor, to these families who are grieving?

NUNEZ: My heart goes out to them. I'm praying for them. The governor is praying for them. We've heard their stories. Many of them have met with us privately. We've talked to them. And what I'll tell you is through the pain, through the sadness, through this unspeakable tragedy is a legacy, a bright light that shines in each one of those victims.

And we've been able to hear stories, we've been able to cry and laugh with them. And really understand that the web (ph), the beautiful intricacy of these individuals that made this community. While South Florida is really large, you know, we've got millions of people here.

I don't know a single South Floridian that doesn't have some sort of direct or indirect connection to someone in that building. So their legacies will forever be etched in our hearts and our memories. And I can assure you that we are all united with them in their grief.

BLITZER: Yes, well said indeed. Once again, the breaking news right now after two weeks, the search and rescue, rescue operation has now moved from search and rescue to search and recovery, meaning, they've given up hope of finding people alive. So, so sad.

While I have you, Lieutenant Governor, let's talk about this Storm Elsa, you've been tracking the situation in your state of Florida. How many people are without power? What sort of impact do you think it's going to have on the state of Florida?

NUNEZ: Well, as of early this morning, there was roughly 26,000. That number has dwindled down to 18,000. And it has dwindled down even further. We have over 10,000 line men and women that are working around the clock. We're thankful that the impacts of Elsa were not nearly as drastic as we expected. Minimal if any damage in some counties, there was slight damage to some homes but very minimal impact.

We are, of course, as always, concerned about storm surge, rivers that may rise in the next couple of days, rip currents that are always an issue, and when people decide to go back to the beaches very quickly after a storm passes. But we'll urge people to continue to be take precautions and be careful if there's, obviously, waters in the roadways.

Don't run your car through there. If there's ground power lines, don't get near it. But for the most part, Florida was spared and we're thankful that we've been able to brace the storm, be able to prepare and be able to assist those counties that were in the cone in the impact.

BLITZER: Yes. The good news is it's, obviously, it hasn't caused that much damage. The bad news, hurricane season continues over the next several months. So you're going to have your hands full (ph).

Lieutenant Governor of Florida Jeanette Nunez, thank you so much for joining us. Good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in Florida.

NUNEZ: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Meanwhile, there's rising concern tonight as the COVID-19 Delta variant is fueling a rise in cases and hospitalization in parts of the United States.


Let's get some analysis from Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at the Rhode Island Hospital, associate professor at Brown University. Dr. Ranney, thank you so much for joining us. As we track the rise of this more transmissible Delta variant, Dr. Fauci says, if there ever, if there ever was a reason to get vaccinated, this is it. But will anything, do you believe, convinced people who simply refuse to get the vaccine to change their minds and do it?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, RHODE ISLAND HOSPITAL: So when you look, Wolf, at national data on who has not gotten vaccinated yet, there are folks that still don't fully believe that this is safe or effective. For those people, I think that the FDA finally providing full approval of the vaccine will make a difference. There are people who say that they'll only get it when they're mandated.

So for those folks making sure that it is necessary to go to university, to work in a healthcare facility or a nursing home, for those people, the mandates will make a difference. There is going to be a segment of folks who may never want to show up and get vaccinated. But we know from history and from the COVID pandemic, that sadly, when people themselves get sick or see their loved ones get sick, that often changes their mind.

And I will tell you right now, you want to look at who's getting sick, whether from the Delta variant or any other variant, it's people who haven't been vaccinated. So I don't want it to come to this. But I'm hopeful that these surges will drive more people in those states with low vaccination rates, to finally go out and get their shot.

BLITZER: Yes, more than 200 Americans every day still are dying from COVID, more than 12,000 every day get COVID. So this problem continues. As you know, Dr. Ranney, 17 states are now seeing a spike in new COVID cases. How dangerous is this, not just to the people in those states, but as a potential breeding ground for even more transmissible various?

RANNEY: Well, that's exactly it. So right now who's at risk are the people who are unvaccinated. If you are fully vaccinated, you've gotten both shots of Pfizer or Moderna, or you've gotten your single shot of J&J and you're more than a few weeks out, you're protected. You know, wear a mask if you're in a crowded situation, but otherwise, you don't have to worry a lot.

But what makes me worried isn't this variant because this variant we're still protected against with vaccines. What worries me more are the variants yet to come. And every time this virus is passed from one person to another, it has a chance to mutate. And it's only a matter of time until we have a variant against which the vaccines no longer protect us. That's the moment that I'm really worried for.

BLITZER: Yes, me too. Dr. Ranney, thank you so much for joining us.

RANNEY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, just ahead, we'll have the latest on the shocking assassination of Haiti's President. I'll be joined by Haiti's Ambassador to the United States.



BLITZER: We're following a very important international story here in The Situation Room, a truly shocking assassination of Haiti's President Jovenel Moise. During the night, he was shot to death by a group of attackers at his home.

Joining us now, the Haitian Ambassador to the United States Bocchit Edmond. Mr. Ambassador, our condolences to you, to the people in Haiti. Thank you so much for joining us. I know you say these assassins were --


BLITZER: -- well-trained killers. What more Mr. Ambassador, can you tell us about how this shocking attack unfolded?

EDMOND: You know, unfortunately, I don't have more details to share with you now, but we can say for certain, those were professional killers. It was a well-orchestrated attack against the President. We understand that what they use, they use even -- they pretended to be the agents. So -- in a wide (ph) and the middle of operation, but it was exerted to mask what they came to do, to kill the President in his own private residence.

BLITZER: Yes, it was shocking, indeed, how they got in and how they managed to pull off this assassination. Mr. Ambassador, what are you learning about the potential motivation behind this assassination?

EDMOND: I wish I had, you know, I wish I had known the motivations behind this senseless act of killing of President function (ph). But I do believe, sadly, the President was killed for his beliefs, for his policies, for his policy reforms. I believe that's could be the reason because I don't see why President would have been killed for just being Haitian president (ph).

I believe that's one of the reason, but unfortunately, and Haitian politics so far, we are not able to find a, you know, a way to discuss our political disagreement in a peaceful manner. So unfortunately, it has resulted to the death of the President because of what he believes in and because of what he has done.

BLITZER: Do you have any evidence, Mr. Ambassador, at least at this point, on where these attackers came from, and whether they're actually still in the country?

EDMOND: I just don't want to speculate but I believe, to what we have as a preliminary information, they are foreigners, certainly helped by some local accomplices. But I do believe to what we had, they may have been still in Haiti. But the national policies is just started manhunt to try to track them down and see if, in case, they are still in Haiti and for the National Police to get them in and bring them to justice because it is -- it's not a simple act, it's an act -- it's the killing of the president or the head of state.


Therefore, we will put all necessary resources to make sure that we apprehend them. And that's one of the reason we call on the international partners to work with us and to give us some more expertise and investigation, and to help them capture those people and be brought to justice.

BLITZER: Very quickly, the First Lady of Haiti was shot. Just give us the status of her condition, if you don't mind, Mr. Ambassador.

EDMOND: What I can tell you, First Lady was evacuated to Miami. I think she's going to be in Miami, being treated. We do hope the doctors will find a way to save her life because it would have been more devastated blow for the country to lose the President and his wife at the same time. Hopefully, we keep our prayers. Hopefully, they should come out.

BLITZER: Yes, I hope so too. The Haitian Ambassador to the United States, Bocchit Edmond. Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us.

EDMOND: Thank you so very much for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Once again, our deepest condolences.

Still ahead, as President Biden pushes his economic plan. We're about to speak live with the Transportation Secretary, there he is, Pete Buttigieg. We'll discuss when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLITZER: President Biden spent this afternoon in Illinois pushing his Build Back Better economic agenda. We're also trying -- he's also trying, I should say, to build support for his plans to spend trillions of dollars on roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

We're joined now by the President's Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg. Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. You've been on this program talking with me several times over the past few weeks. Each time you and I discuss the infrastructure plans, why is it now July, and a true breakthrough has yet to actually happen? When do you think we're likely to get at least an initial breakthrough?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Well, let's remember by any normal reckoning, this is happening at lightning speed. And I would say a major breakthrough was when the President did something you don't see very often these days, which is walking out of the West Wing of the White House with Republican and Democratic senators at his side and announcing that they had reached the framework of an infrastructure agreement.

Now, it still takes a lot of work to put that into legislative text, to marry it with the work that the House and the Senate Committees have already been doing on things like the surface transportation bill. Obviously, there's a lot of complexity to that, but there is fantastic progress being made in turning that into policy, turning it into law, and hopefully getting it to the President's desk as quickly as possible. Because, you know, the American people have been wondering for years, why infrastructure week kept turning into a punch line.

We've finally got a chance to do the things we need to do from roads and bridges to airports and ports to the things that go beyond my transportation lane, like getting led out of our pipes and getting internet to every family. It's time to get it done. The American people want to get it done. And remarkably, we have a bipartisan agreement, even in today's Washington, about how to get it done.

BLITZER: It's so critically important, indeed. As you know, Mitch McConnell is now vowing, and I'm quoting him now, he's doing a hell of a fight. Are Democrats ready for that? Because you're going to need every single one of them fully on board in order to get this passed.

BUTTIGIEG: So I think the part that the Senator was referring to fighting was what the President was speaking about today. But I think, you know, the more Americans hear about this, the more the support is going to deepen, there's already enormous support. In fact, last I checked, about three quarters of Republicans, of Republicans think we ought to be investing more in the care economy.

The things that President talked about today, getting every family 12 weeks, up to 12 weeks of paid family leave. But think about what that would mean to millions of American families, making sure that there's access to pre-kindergarten education for three and four-year olds, making sure that we get two years of free community college, the childcare provisions, these are things that would make such a difference immediately. And the American people are right there with the President.

So we got two pieces now. We got the transportation piece, which is part of that bipartisan framework, Republicans and Democrats agreeing together. And then we have what we call the human infrastructure piece that the President shared today. I'm not giving up on the idea that we can persuade Republicans to vote for that as well, although that's on the path that would call for 50 votes. But anyway you cut it, the American people want us to get this done.

You know, earlier when this is all part of one package. A lot of our Republican friends were saying, yes, that's good stuff, the child care, the health care, the veterans support, that's all good, but it's not -- we don't think it's infrastructure so it should be in a separate package. Now it isn't a separate package. And I'd like to know if they'll support it now.

BLITZER: We will find out fairly soon. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us. The Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, once again, thank you. Appreciate it.

BUTTIGIEG: My pleasure. Thank you.

BLITZER: All right. There's more breaking news here in The Situation Room. The search that -- in the collapse condo down to Florida now transforming -- transitioning from a rescue effort to a recovery effort. We're standing by for a news conference live coverage coming up.



BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. We're expecting a very somber announcement at the scene of the condo collapse down in Florida. We're told officials will disclose that the search is transitioning from rescue to recovery.

Also tonight, fencing installed at the U.S. Capitol after January 6th is about to come down as we're learning about an ominous plot linked to a rioter who was seeking civil war and allegedly use a Bible group recover. And former President Trump is suing the social media companies that banned him accusing them of censorship and lawsuits, critics are calling baseless. Our top legal experts standing by to weigh in.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

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