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U.S. Capitol Fencing To Be Removed As Soon As Friday, Six Months After Riot, Amid Fears Of Potential Pro-Trump Violence In August; Officials Update Search Effort And Death Toll In Condo Collapse; Trump Files Lawsuits Against Twitter, Google And Facebook Over His Removal From Sites; Aggressive Delta Variant Is Now Dominant COVID Strain In U.S., Accounting For Nearly 52 Percent Of New Cases; Biden Faces Growing Pressure To Curb Ransomware And Cyberattacks After Threatening Action Against Russia; CNN Projects Eric Adams Wins NYC Mayoral Dem Primary. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 07, 2021 - 18:00   ET




All right, let's get to the breaking news. Let's go straight to Surfside, Florida. CNN's Rosa Flores is on the scene for us.

Rosa, we expect this very sad announcement about the condo search at any moment now. Update our viewers.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, sources telling myself and several of my colleagues that during a press conference that will be starting in moments, officials will be announcing more details about the efforts here in Surfside transitioning into a recovery phase.

I can tell you from being present in multiple of these briefings, when officials have taken questions about what this means, they have explained over and over, Wolf, that this means they will continue at the same rate, they will continue searching, and if they do find signs of life, they, of course, will continue to pull people who are alive from the rubble. But this is about closure. It's about giving closure to the families.

Now, I've been in contact with individuals who have been working with the families, and some of them tell me that many of the families, that's exactly what they're looking for. They are looking for closure, many of them getting prepared for this moment. It's about transitioning from the agony of waiting for news if their loved one is alive under the rubble to the realization that their loved one might not be alive.

Wolf, this is a tough moment, a very tough moment, and officials here on the scene have already been very, very emotional from talking to individual searchers. They told me there is no dry eye on the mound, there is no dry eye on the pile because they have searching now for days. The last person that was pulled from that rubble alive was after the collapse, shortly after the collapse, on June 24th.

Again, Wolf, this press conference will start in moments. We, of course, will bring it to you live. Wolf?

BLITZER: We'll get back to you, Rosa. Thank you very, very much. Very sad news down in Surfside, Florida. We'll get to that news conference, as Rosa said.

But right now I want to turn to the state of security at the U.S. Capitol here in Washington, an alleged plot involving a January 6 rioter. Our Brian Todd is covering it all for us.

So, Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, first, we want to talk to you about the fencing coming down around the Capitol. CNN has obtained an email today from the Capitol Hill Police stating that the fencing that you're seeing right behind me, about eight feet tall, is going to come down starting this Friday, as early as this Friday. It will take about two three days, weather permitting.

But according to the Capitol Police, this is because of the threat environment, also the enhancements that have been made to security around here, that they believe that it's time to take this fencing down. But they do say the architect of the Capitol has the ability to put temporary fencing up as needed.

Also we should note that this task force that was led by General Russel Honore did recommend some mobile fencing, some other types of temporary fencing. Now, whether that comes up anytime soon and when that comes up, that remains to be seen. But starting this Friday, according to an email obtained by CNN, this fencing coming down.

Now, the plot that you are talking about, this is according to court documents that CNN obtained recently that uncovered the fact that the FBI infiltrated a loosely known group led by a man that prosecutors say is identified as Fi Duong. He was on the Capitol on January 6. He is facing four charges of going to the Capitol and other charges relating to the riot.

But what really is chilling in this case is that, according to prosecutors, the FBI obtained information after he was befriended by a Washington D.C. undercover officer, then an FBI undercover officer. They infiltrated the group. They went with this man to bible study groups and other places where they talked about possibly surveilling the Capitol.

They talk about building up weapon, about making Molotov cocktails, testing out Molotov cocktails. What really chilling is, Wolf, they had a plan in place and they have some of their associates actually surveilling the Capitol building according to this court documents. This man, Fi Duong, is not under the plea yet and his lawyer has not come at the CNN, Wolf.

BLITZER: All, right Brian, we're going to get to you. We're watching the story very closely. Thank you. We also have news tonight on the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy is now apparently shifting gears and planning to put Republicans on the panel. Our Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean is joining us right now.

Jessica, so what are you learning about McCarthy's strategy, his plans?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was an interesting turn of events. We're hearing from sources that are telling CNN that he has changed his track. At one point, there was thought that perhaps he wouldn't play ball at all, that he wouldn't appoint any Republican member to this house select committee. But now we're learning that it is likely he will appoint members.


He's allowed five appointments to this committee.

Now, remember, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does have veto power over those people. But we're told that he's kind of thinking about it on two tracks. One, perhaps appointing some Trump allies, someone like Jim Jordan or Elise Stefanik, Trump allies that can be in there and play active defense against any sort of narrative that starts to take shape, but also two that he may be considering putting someone considered more pragmatic, let's say, on their as well. Because, remember, this is likely going to continue on into 2022 when those all important midterms are coming up and House Republicans are looking to take back the House.

So they want some control over the narrative, that that's the thinking, of the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on this, that he wants to have some of his own in there who can control a little bit about where this is going. There also some pressure on him, were told, to perhaps pick a woman as well. Again, that's wwere someone like Elise Stefanik comes into play.

And as I mentioned, remember, Speaker Pelosi does have veto power, so when it comes to somebody like, Marjorie Taylor Greene or Matt Gaetz, both of whom have express that they want to be on this select committee, it's likely he won't be appointing them, because Pelosi will likely veto them. But, again, working his way to this final process, Wolf, we should know soon who he will appoint.

And, remember, one key thing, too, is that Nancy Pelosi has House Republican Liz Cheney. She selected her for her side to come on and made this bipartisan. So that puts some additional pressure on McCarthy to kind of change his thinking and to put some of his own members in there as well. So we'll see who those ultimately end up being. Wolf?

BLITZER: We'll see what leader McCarthy that's going to be fairly soon.

Another matter up on Capitol Hill, Jessica, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has already apologized for the truly awful comments comparing mask-wearing to Jews being forced to wear the Star of David during the holocaust. She apologized for that. She went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, but now she's saying, something, once again, something pretty outrageous. DEAN: Right. And she just inserted herself back into this conversation all over again, tweeting just recently and comparing people who might be going door-to-door to help with President Biden's vaccine project to Nazi-era brown shirt. You see it there. She says, people have a choice, they don't need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccines.

As you mentioned, Wolf, she just got over apologizing for comparing mask wearing rules to the Holocaust, even going to the Holocaust Museum to visit, to learn more. There was pressure on her from people on her own party, from her own leadership that she needed to apologize for those comments, and now we're back to this most recent tweet where she's invoking Nazi-era brown shirts into, again, just trying to get the vaccine out to people who perhaps may be homebound and not able to get out and get it on their own. Wolf?

BLITZER: Well, it's brown shirt Nazis, who would go door to door to select Jews and others to be exterminated at the death camps. I guess she didn't learn that when she was over at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. All right, Jessica, thanks very much.

Let's get some more on all of this with a key Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Jim Himes. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

Let's discuss several of these issues. There were questions over whether leader Kevin McCarthy would appoint anyone at all to this select committee. Is it a good thing that he's now decided to actually fill these places on the committee?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Yes, Wolf. And thanks for having me. I do think it's a good thing. And I'm not surprised by it, you know, the notion of handing over on this particular topic, the stage, if you will, where the investigation if you want to think about it more, technically, to the Democrats unrebutted or unanswered by the Republicans, I don't think, was ever going to happen. You know, remember there is a long history of this investigation to get politicized the mini-Benghazi committee all had Democrats on them, et cetera. But, look, this is good, but it's going to be hard, Wolf.

And I would draw one important distinction between the January 6 select committee and, and, let's say, the Benghazi committee. Yes, both are -- both sort of had a political overtone, but, you know, each and every one of us lived through January 6 whereas none of us lived through what happened in Benghazi many years ago. And so the ability of one of the president's supporters, I think you mentioned the Elise Stefanik or Jim Jordan, to just make stuff up, to tell us that what happened didn't happen. He or she would be talking to a group of people who actually lived through that day.

So it's going to be challenging thing, but at the end of the day, look, it's a really important committee, and it's important that it be seen as bipartisan, and not just because Nancy Pelosi put Congresswoman Cheney on. And we'll hope -- maybe we'll be surprise and this will actually be a thoughtful examination by the Republicans joining the Democrats about what I think was this most significant threat to our legislature since the civil war.


BLITZER: Yes. We have to learn exactly what happened. But if Republicans, Congressman, do focus their attention on pushing false narratives about the January 6 insurrection, could this committee end up actually doing more harm than good?

HIMES: Well, I don't think so. I think -- I mean, we've seen this already, right? We've seen Republicans suggest, gosh, it wasn't that bad or that these folks were like ordinary tourists. And that probably speaks to about 1 percent of Americans, because 99 percent of Americans, A, are rational, and, B, saw -- I should probably revisit that percentage, but my point is that Americans saw what happened.

And this is why it's an uncomfortable thing for Kevin McCarthy. This is a really hard thing to make up stories about. You can argue that the president in his conversation with the president of Ukraine really didn't do anything bad. You know, that's a very technical topic.

But, you know, every American saw the insurrection, the rebellion against our country on January 6. Then having Jim Jordan or Matt Gaetz shouting about it and making up lies about it is not -- is I don't think that serves either the country or the Republican Party, if that's the way they go.

BLITZER: Let me ask you Congressman about the decision to take down the security perimeter fencing at the U.S. Capitol in the next few days. As you know, extremists and conspiracy theorists, they can once again gather in Washington next month because they believe -- they claim that former President Trump will be reinstated in the White House in August.

Now, are you concerned that the Capitol potentially -- let's hope it won't happen, but potentially the Capitol will be left without enough protection once again?

HIMES: No. I'm actually not concerned that the fence is the issue there, Wolf. And I'm actually very glad to see it come down. I can't tell you every single day when I would walk over at the Capitol. And we had two fences, we had National Guard. When I saw the symbol of our democracy armored the way an armed camp Kabul would be armored, it just -- every day, it broke my heart. So I'm glad that were back to the concept that the American people being able to come right up to the Capitol.

Now, that doesn't mean that we don't work security, and starting with the fact that January 6 was not a fence issue, really, it was an intelligence issue. It was a failure to mobilize the manpower that was necessary to control that insurrection.

And so, you know, hopefully lessons have been learned. We do have a set of recommendations from General Honore. You made that point earlier. We're in the process of instituting those recommendations. But, you know, it's really important that we as a free and open country don't see our Capitol behind a military-style chain link fence.

BLITZER: Yes. Someone who loves Capitol Hill, whenever I -- over this six months, I used to see armored vehicles, thousands of National Guard troops external, you know, really wide perimeter fencing with barbed wire. It was so heartbreaking to see all of that. I'm happy a lot of that is gone and maybe the rest will be gone soon. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

HIMES: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Just ahead, our legal experts are standing by. They'll break down former President Trump's new lawsuits against Twitter, and Google and Facebook and whether it has any legal matter and merit at all.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.


BLITZER: The news conference at Surfside beginning here, the Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava.

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D-MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FL): Our tireless search and rescue teams have continued their efforts throughout the past day and we're very grateful that the weather has allowed us to continue the work without any further delays. And through these efforts, we have recovered eight more victims.

So the total number of confirmed deaths is now at 54. 33 of those victims have been identified and 33 next of kin notifications have been made. At this time, 200 people have been accounted for and 86 people are potentially unaccounted for. So please join me and praying for those we have lost and those we are mourning.


As I've continued to stress, the Miami-Dade Police Department is working continuously to follow up and verify all of the accounts that they received of people who are potentially missing and to determine whether each person reported was, in fact, in the building during the collapse. And our detectives simultaneously are working around the clock to identify those victims we have found in order to notify next of kin.

It is with deep, profound sadness that this afternoon I'm able to share that we made the extremely difficult decision to transition from operation search and rescue to recovery. It's now been exactly two weeks since Champlain Towers South collapsed, and over the last 14 days, you all know that our search and rescue teams from our local community, from around Florida, from around the country and, in fact, around the world, have been digging through this collapse.

They've used every possible strategy and every piece of technology available to them to find people in the rubble. They've removed over 7 million pounds of concrete and debris from the mound. They've used sonar, cameras, dogs, heavy machinery. They've searched for void spaces and they've searched for victims. They ran into a building they were told could collapse. And they braved fire, smoke, torrential rain and strong winds in the hopes of finding people alive.

We demolished the standing building in just days in order to be able to expand access to the full collapse site. Our top priority throughout this entire operation since day one has been to do everything possible, everything humanly possible and to explore every single portion of the collapsed grid in search of survivors.

I could not be prouder of our extraordinary team, the men and women from here at home and from around the world who have given this search everything they have day in and day out, men and women whose own lives are driven by a single purpose, to save the lives of others.

At this point we have truly exhausted every option available to us in the search and rescue mission. So today is about beginning the transition to recovery so that we can help to bring closure to the families who have been suffering and waiting for news. Nothing we can do can bring back those we've lost but we can and we will do everything in our power possible to identify all of the victims and to offer closure to the families in this time of unimaginable grief.

To share this news with the families this evening who are still missing their loved ones was devastating. And it's also difficult to share it with all of you. So many who have been watching around the world, who joined their prayers to ours, who held out hope as we had hoped in our hearts, and in quiet moments for a miracle. We have all asked God for a miracle.

So the decision to transition from rescue to recovery is an extremely difficult one and one that requires an extremely methodical, arduous and careful process that looks at specific factors. Chief Cominsky and Assistant Chief Jadallah will speak to all of these in more detail.

The transition from rescue to recovery will take place at midnight tonight. Our team has developed a very detailed plan to guide the transition and to ensure that the operations proceed at the same speed and intensity.

After today's press briefing at 7:15 P.M., we'll be marking this transition with a moment of silence in front of the building site with our teams of first responders and faith leaders. The first responders will come off the pile and faith leaders will join us, and we're inviting you as members of the media to witness this ceremony not as members of the media but in your capacity as citizens to mark this solemn moment of transition.


And we hope that you will join us there.

To the families, to the president, and to the president who said, when he visited Surfside, we know that no words can ease your pain but we are with you, we're here for you in all the ways that we possibly can be, we lift you up and we hold you up and we hold you dear in our hearts. To my team, you are heroes who walk among us. This community and the world salute you. We will never forget your bravery, your compassion and your dedication.

So to those watching from around the world, thank you for your endless prayers, your donations and for wrapping us in your love. It is left for us to honor those we have lost by living every sing day in love. Thank you and God bless.

BLITZER: All right. So there you have the very, very sad news, the mayor of Miami-Dade County announcing the extremely difficult decision two weeks after the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, that they are beginning this transition from search and rescue to recovery, and that will happen in the next few hours, very, very sad, indeed. They informed the families of that in a very painful meeting a little while ago.

Rosa Flores is with us. She's been there from the very beginning. She also announced 54 confirmed deaths right now. The number keeps going up. They've recovered 54 bodies. 33 of them have been identified. Next of kin have been notified. 86 people though, Rosa, remain still unaccounted for. This is an awful, very painful situation that's unfolding.

FLORES: You know, the mayor describing it there as devastating for the families. Wolf, when the search and rescue for started the commitment was to pull everybody that they could from that pile of rubble alive. Today, we're hearing from the mayor as this transition into a recovery phase that they commit to identify all of the victims.

Again, this is devastating for the families that have been waiting in agony, now here is the timeline, according to the mayor at 7:15, we're expecting a moment of silence, a moment of silence to transition into this recovery phase, but the recovery phase will actually happen at midnight, according to the mayor.

The mayor also explaining that they have used every resource very aggressively, not just the brave men and women that have been sifting through the rubble and tunneling and delayering, trying to get to survivors, but also heavy equipment, canines, machinery, they've used drones, they've used every single tool that they have to try to find survivors. But, Wolf, as you just heard this transition to recovery phase beginning at midnight tonight. Wolf?

BLITZER: The dead toll goes up, 54 confirmed deaths, 86 people still unaccounted for. Rosa thank you very much. We'll get back to you.

Our special coverage here in The Situation Room will continue right after this.



BLITZER: Tonight, the former president, Donald Trump, is living up to his infamous penchant for filing lawsuits. He's going after the big social media companies. They banned him from their sites for spreading the so-called big lie about the 2020 presidential election. Listen to Trump make his case.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: 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 Buche and Jack Dorsey, three real nice guys.

We're asking the U.S. district court for the Southern District of Florida to order an immediate halt to social media company's 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 our top Legal Analysts, Jeffrey Toobin and Laura Coates.

Jeffrey, does this lawsuit have any realistic chance of succeeding?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It does not. I think as most people know, the First Amendment operates as a bar on the government discriminating on the basis of people's viewpoints. It does not tell Facebook or CNN what it can and can't broadcast. And Facebook has the right to ban Donald Trump from the use of its facilities according to its own rules.


In addition, this is not a class action and Facebook has a rule that if you are going to sue Facebook, you have to sue in California, not in Florida. So it is a publicity stunt, it's a fundraising device, but it will get a lot of attention.

BLITZER: It certainly will. You know, Laura, he claims these companies are violating his first amendment rights. What do you make of that claim?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I find it shocking that he was the president of the United States and doesn't understand that state actor distinction. I mean, your mother telling you to be quiet doesn't violate your First Amendment rights, nor does an exclusion of a private company's playground called Twitter or Facebook or anything else. You can, as Jeffrey said, file this under a publicity stunt, but it was meant to be brought in the court of public opinion.

You heard the support and the applause behind him because it's an attack against this so-called cancel culture. But in reality, the First Amendment does not somehow, by virtue of the fact that a government actor or somebody who want to participate cannot, it doesn't convert these private companies into state actors.

They have a First Amendment right to moderate their platforms. But it's really talking about Section 230, excuse me, as well in his attempt to try to ensure that these tech companies are somehow can be held liable for their content moderation because he wants to participate in a way that was successful for him, beneficial for him. The problem is the people he named there, none of them are state actors, nor can they be converted to state actors for his purposes.

TOOBIN: And -- but if I can add one point, I mean, Laura and I agree, and I think everyone who is familiar with the law will say that this case does not have any merit, but there is a problem here. And even if you don't like Donald Trump, you have to understand it, which is the power of these companies. I mean, these companies control a tremendous amount of the information in the world.

Think about another company, Amazon, Amazon web services, which essentially runs the cloud. Can Amazon simply say on any of the thousands and thousands of websites, we don't want the following statements to be made? You know, they haven't done that yet, but that is a problem.

And the power of these companies is a problem. The law has not addressed it yet. This goofy lawsuit won't address it. But the problem is real, and Trump, as usual, is recognizing a source of anger in the country, even if he's not doing anything productive about it.

BLITZER: If this lawsuit goes forward, Laura, the social media companies and their lawyers, they can call for depositions of the president. He'll be called to testify and provide all sorts of information about what's going on. I suspect he's not anxious to do so. What do you think?

COATES: I mean, it's amazing how often people sort of circle around Donald Trump with the hopes of getting a deposition out of him and oftentimes what happens is the reaction is and the result is a written response to questions and best of his recollection, et cetera.

But as Jeffrey talked about, the idea here in terms of being able to depose him, depose him to say what? Obviously, we all want other information from Donald Trump, but the idea of what? Whether or not these entities are state actors, whether the president of the United States, the former president of the United States is aware that they're not part of the executive, legislative or judicial branch, and, therefore, they are not part of the Congress shall make no law aspect of this thing.

What gets you about this case is, of course, I check my section 230, both Democrats and Republicans, liberals, conservatives, right-wing, left-wing, they all would like to see changes to the Communication Decency Act. There are question about the idea of the parameters of these powerful organizations. But the First Amendment is not the vehicle or the conduit to do so and to conflate it really is just idiotic.

BLITZER: Let me quickly get your thought to a news that just move, Jeffrey, that Rudy Giuliani has just had his law license here in Washington D.C. suspended, this comes after New York State suspended his license for lying about the 2020 election. What's your reaction?

TOOBIN: Well, I just saw the order. It seems like it's an active reciprocity to New York. It's not a new investigation. But, you know, Rudy Giuliani has very serious legal problems. He can't practice law. He is the defendant in libel suits, defamation suits from these voting machine companies that are very serious cases. It's hard to win libel cases, but these cases are really strong, as far as I can tell.

And so he may not just be looking at the loss of his law license, he may be looking at millions of dollars in damages from these lawsuits that have just been filed but will be going on for some time.

BLITZER: Yes. They certainly will. All right, Jeffrey, thank you very much, Laura, thanks to you as well. To our viewers, Laura is filling in later tonight on Don Lemon Tonight at 10:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN.


As I always say Laura, we will be watching. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

Coming up, just how dangerous is the delta variant now that it counts for more than half the COVID, more than half of all the new cases here in the United States. I'll ask a former top COVID adviser to President Biden, Andy Slavitt. He's standing by live.


BLITZER: Tonight, there's even more reason for health officials here in the United States, the fear that the delta variant will set back the nation's progress against COVID-19. It's now the dominant coronavirus strain in the U.S.

Let's discuss with Andy Slavitt, the former Senior Adviser to the Biden White House COVID Response Team. He's also the author of the very important, very timely brand new book just out entitled, Preventable, The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics and Selfishness Doomed The U.S. Coronavirus Response. Andy, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks so much for writing this book.


How much does this delta variant actually threaten Americans right now, threaten the progress we've made against this virus?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO THE BIDEN WHITE HOUSE COVID RESPONSE TEAM: The delta variant is dangerous. We should think about the delta variant as the 2020 version COVID on steroids. It's twice as infectious.

Unfortunately, unlike 2020, we actually have a tool that stopped the delta variant on its tracks, that's called the vaccine. So if you get two shots of COVID or Moderna or even one shot of Johnson & Johnson, the delta variant prevent very little threat to you, very unlikely that you're going to get sick. But if you have it, and I think we're starting to see these down communities largely in the south, where you got lower levels of vaccination, the delta variant is very much a threat to us.

BLITZER: Yes, two shots of Pfizer or Moderna or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson. What would actually take, Andy, to convince the many Americans who see need at all to get the vaccine because President Biden is doubling down on strategies that just don't seem to be persuading these people that they really need to be persuaded, they got to get a shot?

SLAVITT: Well, look about 67 percent of our adults have started the vaccination process. That compares to about 2 percent when President Biden took office, so there's been a lot of progress. And there is another, about, I would say, 10 percent of people who are strongly considering getting vaccinated or are open to it.

Some of them are just -- quite frankly, they're under 25 and it's just not a high priority. Some of them say they have questions that they need answered and we should make sure they get those questions answered in reliable places from -- largely from their own doctors. And you know, we need to do all the things that President Biden's doing now. It's a painstaking ground game to reach out to folks.

The final thing that I think will make a difference is, at some point soon, the FDA is going to approve the Pfizer vaccine and give a final approval, and I think that's going to be meaningful. And I think we'll see a bunch of more people get to vaccinated then.

BLITZER: As you know, Dr. Fauci says more data is needed from Israel right now and whether the vaccine is less effective in light of the delta variant. What questions do you have about this, Andy? What do you think people need to know?

SLAVITT: Well, look, I talk to Dr. Fauci about this and I think, you know, there is this dangerous thing called a kind of single study headline that I think we all should be cautious of it. We have to just wait and see.

I mean all the things that going on in Israel is they're not testing more and more people that are coming into contact with people who tested positive. The things we know for sure about Israel is there have been only 35 serious cases of COVID in the entire country of 9 million people since the vaccination program began. So the vaccines are working.

What might be happening is one of two things. It might be that we're seeing the effects of the vaccine begin to weigh in a little bit in certain population, that it might be -- that we're just seeing more cases that are -- of people who are asymptomatic because we're testing more, but they're people that aren't getting sick. In many cases, of course, are among younger people who haven't been vaccinated.

So I don't think it's a cause for concern as of yet. I think Dr. Fauci is right. If you're vaccinated, you're protected. And at some point, we'll have to have a conversation about whether or not we need an even further boost.

BLITZER: We will have that conversation. Andy Slavitt, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for all you're doing. Once again, he's brand new book is entitled, Preventable, The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response. Andy, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, President Biden's under pressure to respond to new cyberattacks believed to be carried out by Russian-based hackers.

Plus, we'll talk to the projected winner of New York City's Democratic Mayoral Primaries. Stand by, Eric Adams is joining us.



BLITZER: Tonight, the White House says it's racing to finalize its strategy to deter ransomware attacks as pressure mounts on President Biden to take action.

Let's go to our chief White House correspondent Kaitlin Collins.

Kaitlan, the president has promised to hold Russia accountable for attacks originating inside that country. What's the latest?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He has, Wolf. But, so far, he's not saying whether or not he believes Russia is behind this latest hack, an attempted hack of the Republican National Committee. And so far, there are reports that it was the intelligence arm of the Russian government that was behind this, but so far, President Biden says he was briefed on it this morning and is still waiting on more information from the FBI, which he says is coordinating with the RNC.

And right now, they are saying that their networks were not actually breached by these attempted hackers.

But, of course, Wolf, the big question for the president is going to be once the U.S. government does make a determination about who was behind this attack is what he's going to do.


COLLINS (voice-over): President Biden under pressure tonight to respond to brazen new attacks believed to be carried out by Russian- based hackers.

REPORTER: What's your message on cyber? Any message after your briefing on cyber from your officials?


REPORTER: At what point does the United States respond?

COLLINS: Biden telling reporters he'll deliver a message to the Russian president after convening top aides in the Situation Room following an attempted hack of the Republican National Committee and a global ransomware attack.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We, of course, are investigating. The FBI, CISA are in touch with the RNC, and we will determine attribution and make a decision accordingly.

COLLINS: after hackers breached a contractor for the RNC, Press Secretary Jen Psaki says it's too soon to know who's responsible.

PSAKI: We don't have anything new to report in terms of attribution nor do we have anything to preview in terms of operational actions or considerations.


COLLINS: According to "The New York Times," early indications show the culprit is Russia's SVR intelligence agency, which hacked the Democratic National Committee six years ago and recently carried out the sweeping SolarWinds attack.

The White House still reeling after dealing with a ransomware attack on hundreds of businesses worldwide that a Russian cyber gang has claimed responsibility for.

BIDEN: It appears to have caused minimal damage to U.S. businesses but we're still gathering information.

COLLINS: The latest attacks posing a major test for President Biden who promised to be tough on Vladimir Putin and demanded Russia crack down on cyber crimes following their summit in Geneva.

BIDEN: I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attack, period, by cyber or any other means. Sixteen specific entities.

COLLINS: The president warned of consequences if the attacks continued and said he wasn't confident Russia would change its behavior without pressure from the world's democracies.

BIDEN: I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and diminishes their standing in the world. I'm not confident of anything. I'm just stating a fact.


COLLINS: And, Wolf, today his press secretary said that cyberattacks are not new, but what's new, they believe, is the dialogue that's happening between top Russian officials and top American officials on these cyberattacks. Those are discussions that are supposed to continue into next week according to Jen Psaki.

But, of course, Wolf, one big question is going to be what actually comes out of those talks and whether it actually stops these attacks, because, of course, given what has happened over the last few days with that attack over the weekend, this latest suspected attempted hack of the RNC is what Russia is actually doing to change its behavior, if anything.

BLITZER: We shall see. All right. Kaitlan, thank you very much. Kaitlan Collins at the White House.

Up next, we'll talk to Eric Adams, there he is. CNN is projecting he's the winner of New York City's Democratic mayoral primary. Stand by.



BLITZER: Tonight, CNN is projecting that Brooklyn borough president, former police captain, Eric Adams, will be the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City.

Eric Adams is joining us right now.

Congratulations on winning the Democratic primary. But you still have to win the general election that's coming up. The race was pretty nasty, but will you strike a new tone in the run-up to November?

ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much. And, you know, always when people identify me as a former police captain, I like to add that I was also a young man that was arrested and beat by police officers. And so I went in to reform the system. I believe justice and public safety, they go hand in hand.

And the race wasn't nasty. This is New York. We like to make sure that candidates have to air out their differences. This is how we run a challenging campaign. This is for the mayor of the city of New York and you're going to go through a vetting process.

BLITZER: Yeah, it's going to be -- it's going to be lively, I'm sure, because it's New York, as you correctly point out.

A lot of this race focused on rising crime in New York City. You responded to Governor Cuomo's emergency declaration on gun violence by saying, quoting you now: What took so long?

If you win, you're going to have to work cooperatively with the governor to tackle this huge problem, this crime rate, right?

ADAMS: And we work well together. When I am saying what took so long is why did he have to be the first governor to identify this? This should have been a national call.

Every day we're watching, in the south side of Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, California, New York, we're watching handguns just really taking innocent lives. Here in our city and cities across America.

So this wasn't directed at the governor, but our entire country. Why are we ignoring nationally a real handgun crisis when innocent black, brown, immigrant and poor people are being victimized every day and no one seems to care? That's not acceptable to me.

BLITZER: Yeah, it's not acceptable to me either. It's a -- it's a heart-breaking situation that's unfolding and it's so hard to believe it's happening all over the country, there's gun violence and these shootings.

Ron Klain, a man you probably know, President Biden's White House chief of staff said and I'm quoting him now, the coalition that Mr. Adams put together in New York is not dissimilar to the coalition that President Biden put together.

Do you agree with that comparison?

ADAMS: Yes, I do. I believe there's some real similarities that I think we have allowed a different tone of what I believe Democrats really want. They want safe cities, safe streets. They want places where we can educate our children. And we really have moved away from the core of that.

I said it and I'm going to continue to say it. I'm the face of the Democratic Party, of African-Americans, Caribbean, of white working class people, working class Americans. They want a city and cities to be safe and productive for children and families.

And that is what I represent and that is what I'm going to do as I continue on this campaign trail.

BLITZER: We only have 20 seconds, but when some say defund the police, you say what?

ADAMS: I say that's the wrong way to go. We cannot keep our cities safe with slogans. Public safety is a prerequisite to prosperity and we can get justice and safety, they go together. That is my life work and I'm going to use that to rebuild our city in the right direction.

BLITZER: Well, please come back here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll continue this conversation down the road. You've got a great city, New York, New York. We love New York.

Thanks very much, Eric Adams, for joining us.

ADAMS: Thank you. Take care.

BLITZER: And that's it for it. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.