Return to Transcripts main page
The Situation Room
CDC Says, Pace Of New COVID-19 Vaccinations Ticking Down Again; Capitol Police Memo Warns Of Growing Online Talk Of Violence Surrounding September 18 Rally Supporting Insurrectionist; New Jersey Warns Of Approaching Storms One Week After Ida, I Beg All Of Us To Take This As Seriously As We Can; Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) Is Interviewed About Biden Agenda Faces Critical Deadlines. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 08, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our coverage continues now with Jim Acosta in for Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." See you tomorrow.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Happening now, new evidence that COVID-19 vaccinations are slowing as the delta variant is surging, including among children. This hour, the U.S. Surgeon General joins us to discuss this critical stage of the crisis and the new strategy President Biden will unveil tomorrow.
Also tonight, new video of the suspect who planted pipe bombs ahead of the January 6th riot. Capitol police are now fearing about new violence. We're hearing about alarming online chatter ahead of next week's rally in support of the insurrectionists.
And as the (INAUDIBLE) struggles to clean up and recover after catastrophic flooding, more than 12 million people in the region could be hit with more flooding tonight.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And let's get right to the coronavirus crisis, and CNN National Correspondent Nick Watt. Nick, as Americans face the dire prospect that the pandemic will drag into a third year, there's new CDC data on the pace of vaccinations.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, vaccination is clearly the way out of this. So this really is not good news. The CDC says that the number of people initiating vaccines, that's getting their first shot every day, is down 26 percent in just a month.
WATT (voice over): Misinformation, fear-mongering swirl around break through infections, the vaccinated who still catch COVID. SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: The science shows the vaccine will not necessarily protect you. It's not protecting many people.
WATT: So not true. Here's a box fresh fact. Those very rare breakthrough cases who suffer severe symptoms tend to be older, 73 on average, and have multiple other conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, according to the CDC. And unvaccinated adults are 17 times more likely to be hospitalized than the fully vaccinated.
DR. EDITH BRACHO-SANCHEZ, PRIMARY CARE PEDIATRICIAN: I think we also need to have perspective and realize that the people who are hospitalized, the people who are suffering severe outcomes are the unvaccinated.
WATT: In Miami-Dade County, Florida, 13 unvaccinated public school staff have now died since mid-August.
ALBERTO CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOL: Which represents, quite frankly, the danger of disinformation and misinformation, which is so common these days.
WATT: More than 60 percent of Americans have now had at least one vaccine shot. The average daily death toll keeps climbing, but average new cases dropped 4 percent since last week. It's regional, as always. Kentucky just had its worst week ever, more than 30,000 new infections.
GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): We've called in FEMA strike teams, the National Guard. We deployed nursing students all over the state. We could have prevented this by simply everyone going in and getting that vaccine.
WATT: And as the new school year ramps up across the country, more than a quarter of all new COVID-19 cases are now in kids.
Once again, a judge in Florida just ruled in favor of school mask mandates despite the mask-phobic still bullish governor's law that bans the mandates.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I'm confident we'll end up winning on appeal in that case.
WATT (on camera): Now the silver lining here is that fewer than 2 percent of kids who get infected wind up in the hospital, but, of course, it can end very badly. Today, Mississippi just announced the seventh child to die from COVID-19 in that state, its latest victim, Jim, less than one-year-old.
ACOSTA: That is devastating. All right, Nick Watt, thanks so much for that report.
President Biden met with his COVID-19 advisers today as he prepares to deliver a major address on the next phase of this pandemic response. Our Senior White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly has more. Phil, what are you learning about this big speech tomorrow?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. As the president met with his advisers to finalize the details of those remarks there's a recognition inside the White House that this is a moment to try to reset things, a moment to try to explain to the public, that the White House, the administration has the ability to get control of something that has just been dominated by the delta variant over the course of the last several months.
Now, the president, we're told, will focus on vaccine mandates, building on vaccine mandates for federal workers, increasing the pressure on companies who may implement vaccine mandates as well as safety for millions of children heading back to school, particularly on the testing side of things.
It all comes down to a recognition the delta variant has largely gotten away from the administration despite the fact they have tools to address that variant, to address COVID generally.
This was how White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki framed things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He is going to outline the next phase in the fight against the virus. Some of that look likes including measures to work with the public and private sector, building on the steps that we already announce, the steps we've taken over the last few months requiring more vaccinations, boosting, important testing measures and more, making it safer for kids to go to school all at a time when the American people are listening. Again, this will be six steps that we'll work to be implementing over the months ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: And, Jim, that point that Jen made at the end is an important one, that the American people will be listening. They were keenly aware inside the White House that over the course of this summer throughout the month of August, perhaps people weren't paying as close attention. Now, as children going back to school, they think that won't be the case anymore. That will give them an opportunity to really amplify this message, and it is a critical message for an administration that has long made clear solving the pandemic, addressing the pandemic is the number one priority and is really interconnected with everything else they want to do, whether it's on public health or the economy.
Obviously they've seen the approval ratings as well. Throughout much of the president's first eight months in office, his handling of the pandemic was in the 60 percent to 65 percent range. That has dropped 10 or 11 points over the past several weeks. This is now a moment to a rest that drop and push forward new policies to address delta. Jim?
ACOSTA: That's right, ending the pandemic may just be the number one reason why Joe Biden was elected president. All right, Phil Mattingly, thanks so much for that.
Joining us now, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it. You met with the president today as he prepares to lay out this six-pronged approach to addressing the pandemic. What specific solutions is he going to put forward tomorrow? Are we going to hear anything new?
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, it's good to see you, Jim. We will hear some new details tomorrow about the president's plan to address the delta variant and the surge that we're in the middle of. And what this builds on is a fundamental message the president had at the beginning of his tenure, which is that we have to use every lever that we have in the federal government to address this pandemic, and that's what you're going to hear more about tomorrow, the additional steps that we will be taking not only to expand the vaccination effort but also to ensure that our kids are safe when they go to school, to make sure that we're taking all the step we learned, worked over the last year to help reduce the spread of this virus.
ACOSTA: And will you be pushing schools to implement mask mandates across the country? Is that something that you're hoping to do tomorrow?
MURTHY: Well, the president will speak directly to the plan on schools, but here's what I will say on schools. We know what steps worked to have reduce risk within schools. We know that universal masking helps. We know that regular testing works. So we know that distancing whenever possible is useful. We know keeping kids home from school when they're sick helps as well.
But what we have to do is make sure we're implementing these in schools across the country. And where we're not, we are seeing children who are getting sick and other kids around them who are quarantined and unable to actually go to school, so their learning is interrupted.
So what we have to do is make sure that we're using the money that was provided in the American rescue plan to implement these changes. And what pains me, Jim, is when I see states or local elected officials blocking these measures, which are there to really protect our children, we should be doing everything we can to take care and execute on that moral responsibility we have to keep our children safe.
ACOSTA: Will there be a message -- just to follow-up on that, will there be a message to the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, who has been trying to stand in the way of mask restrictions, mask requirements at schools in his state?
MURTHY: Well, the president's message is to the entire country and it's going to be that we've all got to do our part, whether we're an elected official, whether we're a community member, whether we're somebody who knows, family members or friends who are not vaccinated and recognize that a conversation with us may help actually change that. We've all got to step up and do our part. You know the delta variant is pushing back hard, but we've got to push back harder. And we have the knowledge to do that, we have the ability to do that and I believe that our country will do that. We've just got to double down over the next few week, make sure we get vaccinated and until then wear a mask, distance, do the things we all know work especially if you're unvaccinated to stop the spread.
ACOSTA: And Dr. Murthy. Let me ask you about some new polling that has come up, new polling from Gallup finding just 40 percent of Americans think the president has communicated a clear plan of action in response to COVID-19. 42 percent say he has not. Would you acknowledge the communication could have been better since your team came into office?
MURTHY: Well, Jim, this is obviously a challenging time with the delta variant, and there's a lot that's changed within the science as well. We've learned a lot about this variant that's led us to change recommendations. And communicating that has got to be an ongoing effort. You know, our commitment has been to be honest with people, to be transparent and to be open with them about our thinking and especially when our thinking changes to explain that to people and we've got to keep at it, and we will keep at it.
The plan the president is going to lay out tomorrow will be another step in that direction of laying out clearly what we are up against and what we need to do to tackle the delta variant.
ACOSTA: And I was eager to ask you about this one. You gave an interview to Politico in which the point is made that unvaccinated people in this country may underestimate the danger of the pandemic while vaccinated people may overestimate their risk. Is one of the messages were going to hear tomorrow, and you do see some of this coming from some folks inside the White House, that vaccinated people can chill a little bit, they can afford to be a little -- I guess a little less cautious. What is your thought on that?
MURTHY: Well, Jim, I think in the conversation about the delta variant and especially as we've seen cases rise and hospitalizations rise, one of the things I think has become lost is the incredible amount of protection that vaccinated people still have, including against the delta variant. If you are fully vaccinated you still have a high degree of protection against the worst outcomes of COVID, severe disease, hospitalization and death. And we've got to emphasize or remind people that if you go into hospitals right now you'll find that the vast majority of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. And the lesson in that is that vaccinations work.
So we've got to remind people of that. We've also got to remind people that if you are unvaccinated, that you're at greater risk now than perhaps at any other time during the pandemic because we're dealing with the most transmissible version of delta that we've had to date. So we've got to keep this in context but we've got remind people of it, because I don't blame folks out there who maybe confuses a lot of information. Things are evolving rapidly. And there's also lot of misinformation, Jim, that is flowing online in particular. So it's not always easy for people to keep things straight. But that's why we've got to be out there communicating honestly clearly and transparently with the public about what they need to know.
ACOSTA: You said there's a lot of misinformation. Do you think the White House -- do you think officials in the administration could have been more aggressive in going after misinformation? Why is it still swirling around? Why do people still have all these crazy, cockamamie ideas when you're the White House, you're the administration, you have the bully pulpit and the loudest voice in the room. Presumably you should be able to knock that stuff down. It hasn't happened.
MURTHY: Well, Jim, you're right, there's still a lot of misinformation flowing. But a few months ago I issued a surgeon general advisory on the health hazards of misinformation. And many officials certainly within the administration and in the scientific community have spoken out against the dangers of misinformation that's flowing online.
Look, some of this is not up entirely to the government to solve. We need an all-of-society response to address the flow of misinformation. That means not only this government need to take action but individuals need to be thoughtful about what they share, asking is it coming from a scientific, credible source? If it's not then don't share or if you're not sure, don't share.
The companies themselves though, the technology companies, especially our social media companies, have a very important role to play, because a lot of this misinformation is flowing on their sites. And I do believe they have a responsibility and a moral obligation to step up, reduce the flow of misinformation, because it is costing people their lives.
ACOSTA: And what is the end goal when it comes to this pandemic? I mean, this is something I think that's on the mind of a lot of Americans. Is it to try to get below a certain number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, to have this completely eradicated? Is there another measure that you would consider to be success at this point, or are we just going to have to live with this? Are we at the point now where there is just going to be a percentage of Americans who are going to refuse to get vaccinated and that will inevitably perpetuate this to some extent?
MURTHY: Well, Jim, we live with a number of respiratory viruses, including the common cold, and we're able to manage with it because what's different from those viruses and delta is that they don't cost us the types of numbers that we see in terms of lives and they don't -- lives lost in terms of hospitalizations. But what we've going to do to get a to successful place with delta is vaccinate enough people, develop enough in the way of therapeutics and treatments such that we're not losing nearly as many people, you know, every day, every week, every year to the delta virus. We can get there, Jim, but we've got to double down on our vaccine effort. We've got to take the other measures that we know --
ACOSTA: But we were there over the summer at the beginning of the summer. I don't mean to interrupt you, Dr. Murthy. We just have a little bit of time left here. But when the summer was getting started, the numbers were far lower than where we're at right now, and it's just gotten so out of control. Do you have any optimism that you're going to get these numbers under control that we're seeing right now?
MURTHY: I'm actually quite optimistic, Jim. And the reason I'm optimistic is because, we are seeing every day hundreds of thousands of people make a choice to get vaccinated. We are also seeing that the vaccines are protecting people against the worst of delta. If we had more people who were fully vaccinated when delta started, we would have saved more lives. So even though we had millions and millions who were already vaccinated, we knew that saved many lives but we could have saved even more with a higher vaccination rate.
So, we know the pathway, Jim, to success here. We've just got to continue down that pathway, get more folks vaccinated and make sure that we keep communicating with people about what the science tells us and how it evolves. You know, we're going to have more to say, for example, on booster shots after the FDA and CDC weigh in and we will start execute our plan after that. We'll have more to say as we learn more about delta and especially about kids. And we are working hard certainly to make sure we get a vaccine for kids who are under 12, kids like my kids.
So there's any a lot more to save. But what gives me hope, Jim, is we know the pathway to end this pandemic. That's getting vaccinate, and we've just got to keep down that pathway and make it even easier for people to get vaccinated, get them the right information and help them on the path to protection from COVID-19.
ACOSTA: All right. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, thanks so much.
Coming up, the FBI just released new video of a suspect who planted pipe bombs on Capitol Hill shortly before the January 6th insurrection. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ACOSTA: The FBI is hoping for new leads in the months'-long search for a suspect who planted pipe bombs on Capitol Hill the night before the January 6th insurrection.
CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider is working the story for us.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New video tonight on the pipe bomb suspect who has eluded authorities for more than eight months. The FBI releasing this new clip showing the suspect sitting on a bench near the Democratic National Committee where one of the two bombs was placed January 5th, the night before the Capitol riot. The FBI has conducted more than 800 interviews, collected more than 23,000 video files and assessed more than 300 tips, but they don't appear any closer to identifying the suspect, saying only that they don't believe the suspect is from the area.
The new video comes at the same time Capitol Police are warning about the potential for violent clashes and unrest in an upcoming rally in support of those charged in the U.S. Capitol insurrection. That's according to an internal memo reviewed by CNN.
This latest rally is playing at the Capitol September 18th. The intelligence report references amped up online chatter after the officer who fatally shot rioter Ashli Babbitt on January 6th went public, defending his actions after the justice department and Capitol Police cleared him of any wrongdoing.
LT. MICHAEL BYRD, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I know that day I saved countless lives.
I did my job and there was imminent threats and danger to the members of Congress.
SCHNEIDER: The Capitol Police memo notes a recent uptick in violent rhetoric and heated discussions on social media and discussion boards centered on Babbitt shooting and the document warns many might view September 18th in a justice for Ashli Babbitt rally. The event organizer, former Trump Campaign Staff Matt Braynard, acknowledges the rally will address Babbitt' death but says it is primarily focused on the hundred involved in the violent attack in Capitol breach who are now facing federal charges.
MATT BRAYNARD, ORGANIZER, #JUSTICE FOR JAN6: We're calling for charges to be dropped against all nonviolent defenders who, in many cases, were walking through Capitol doors into a public building held open by Capitol Police officer.
This was a peaceful protest for people civil rights have been denied.
SCHNEIDER: The internal memo says 500 people plan to attend and counter-protests are also expected. But the memo notes prior the prior events plan by Braynard's group in Washington have attracted far less and there hasn't been a noticeable increase in hotel reservations in the area that weekend.
Plus, unlike January 6th, the danger is diminished since Congress is on recess. The memo also warns at least one proud boy leader has encouraged followers to show up while others from the far-right group are discouraging attendants online.
Capitol police note nine Republican members of Congress have been invited and all but three have declined the invitation, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and Madison Cawthorn. Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says all of the online chatter about September 18th should be taken seriously.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: If they're seeing and hearing the same sorts of things that they heard before January 6th, they should be taking better preparations and taking those conversations more seriously.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): And we've learned Capitol Police plan to present their security plans to the board this week, that's according to a source.
And, Jim, we've also learned that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she's invited top Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer as well as well as the two top Republicans, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, to her office for a security briefing. That will happen, we've learned, on Monday. And at that meeting, the Capitol Police chief, Tom Manger, he will detail all of the security preps that are currently in place for that rally happening next Saturday, September 18th.
ACOSTA: Sounds like they're taking it seriously.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, they are.
ACOSTA: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks so much. Let's get more on all this with CNN Counterterrorism Analyst Phil Mudd and CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey.
Phil, what does it tell you the FBI released new video of the January pipe bomb suspect as officials warn of possible violence at this upcoming rally? I'm a little puzzled as to why we're just seeing this now. Maybe you can help me out.
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: A couple things you need to think about. First is the breadth of the investigation. You're talking about many hundreds of people, as you know, who have been charged. Think about your multiplication tables, Jim. Every one of those people involves prosecutors, analysts, it involves witnesses. You've got to go through their iPhones, their laptops, you've got to look at the history of emails, you've got to see what their social media profile is, you have to compare months of interviews when people are lying.
So in the midst of that huge volume of stuff that prosecutors and analysts have to do, you plop down this case of a guy with pipe bombs, there are 800 interviews in this case alone that Jessica mentioned, that investigators have got to talk to everybody in that area on Capitol Hill.
They've got to look at everybody's camera on their front doorbell, their ring doorbell, put it all together into a timeline. There're hundreds of cases, thousands of hours of stuff, that's one of the biggest investigations they have ever done.
ACOSTA: Yes. Chief Ramsey, what about -- what do you think about this video? Should we have seen this sooner, or is it just one of those things develop as an investigation goes on? CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it does develop as an investigation goes on. Perhaps they had it and could have released it earlier. I don't know. But I do know that they have the ability to greatly enhance those videos. So I'm sure they took a hard look at it and still cannot identify the suspect.
Now, they're putting it out publicly and maybe somebody saw something that would lead them to a suspect because it's very troubling that this person is still out there. Now, you've got that rally, the next rally, rather on the 18th of September just a week or two away. And you've still got at least that one person out there.
But you've got others very much like them, you know? And I really am concerned about the threat that exists around September 18th, actually more so concerned than I am about the 20th anniversary of September 11th.
ACOSTA: And, Phil, this internal Capitol Police memo outlines a spike in violent rhetoric online centered on the September 18th rally. What do you think? How do law enforcement agencies do a better job of sifting through what's bravado, you know, what people are just bragging about, you know, beating their chest and what's the real thing?
MUDD: There's a couple ways you can do that. There's no simple answer. The best intelligence cases are cases where you have the head of the snake, the head of Al Qaeda, for example, and you can look at that person or that group as the center for activity. There's no center for activity in this country. I'm sure they've got cases open in every state that's individual, small groups, large groups, like the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys. So, which of those emerges? You've got to depend on not only what you're seeing in that report, social media, for example, but you've got to depend on people calling into, Jim. You need the public.
ACOSTA: And what do you think, Chief?
RAMSEY: Well, listen, they just have to be prepared. And in my opinion, they need overwhelming presence out there to try to make a very -- send a very clear message that any kind of behavior that could lead to either an attack on the Capitol or counter-protesters and protesters getting into it is just not going to happen because we have sufficient resources available. That's what's most important right now.
I don't know whether or not there will be rallies outside of D.C., but I wouldn't be surprised if there are. So, others need to be aware and alert about September 18th as well. But Tom Manger is a veteran police chief. He's been in the national Capitol region for more than 20 some odd years. I've worked with him for more than 20 years. You've got more than just the Metropolitan Police, Capitol and others. They're going to have a lot of people on hand.
ACOSTA: All right. Phil Mudd, Chief Ramsey, thanks so much for those insights. We appreciate it. Coming up a new flash flood watch for parts of the northeast still trying to recover from devastation cause by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. We'll bring you the latest forecast just after the break.
ACOSTA: New Jersey's governor is warning people about storms moving into parts of the northeast tonight a week after deadly flooding caused by remnants of Hurricane Ida.
CNN Meteorologist Tom Sater is tracking the system for us. Tom, what can you tell us?
TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Jim, it's a little more frightening when you look at the radar. It is a well-defined line of thunderstorms embedded in this cold front that stretches from Eastern Canada to Texas, but I guarantee you we're not going to see the catastrophic flooding, but there are some concerns here because the ground is saturated in the New England area and all the debris that has been piled up in area streams and creek, that could divert some of the rainfall or even impede its flow and cause it to back up.
Storm drains could be another issue that haven't been cleared since all the flooding has kind of pretty much went away. But, again, if you've got a storm drain near you in your community, and you know you can get out there with something just to make sure it's clear. We've already have embedded thunder storms that are being severe, dropping hails and storms over in Vermont, over an inch an hour. And I know that's frightening in parts of Pennsylvania and New York.
So when this line moves through, it's going to move through rather quickly, but because we have thunderstorms embedded in it we can easily see one to three inches. So we're not talking 10, we're not talking 15 inches, but the severe weather threat is real. We've already had a few tornados with the systems as well to the south. So that's there as well.
The watches in effect does not include New York City but you're just on the line. If you want to play it safe just tell everyone just postpone your travel out this evening. This will be out of this area by 3:00 in the morning.
ACOSTA: And, Tom, we're also monitoring a new tropical storm that just formed in the Gulf of Mexico. What's up with that?
SATER: Yes. This one spun up quickly. It's very disorganized, more of a nuisance storm. We've been watching it for days down in the Bay of Campeche sliding northward. And at 5:00 P.M., the National Hurricane Center said, yes okay, it's Tropical Storm Mindy.
It's about 60 miles southwest of Appalachia Cola but it's moving at 21 miles an hour and this will make landfall this evening. And will kick up the seas, and it will kick up the winds over 40 miles per hour gusts. Again, that could throw around a little debris and maybe knock out power here and there. Most of the rainfall is going to be on that eastern flank across northern and central areas of Florida.
It moves through quickly though, Jim, heavy rain are already two and half in areas at Panama City and it slides across the Florida-Georgia line here.
You can see with the flood warnings in Panama City. This is off Georgia's coast by tomorrow afternoon.
So, a disorganized storm, more of a nuisance than anything, but, be aware, flash flooding is a concern in areas up in the northeast, but it will move through very quickly.
ACOSTA: All right, CNN Meteorologist Tom Sater, thanks so much for those warnings. We appreciate it.
This just in, several family members representing nursing home residents where multiple people died during an evacuation ahead of Hurricane Ida have just filed a class action lawsuit against the warehouse facility were those residents were shipped. And there are chilling new descriptions tonight of conditions inside that facility.
CNN's Brian Todd reports, we're now hearing firsthand accounts from patients and nurses about what it was like.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The horrific accounts keep pouring in of overcrowded conditions inside this warehouse where some 850 elderly patients were taken from nursing homes around Louisiana to ride out Hurricane Ida.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just horrible. I just don't want to think about it truthfully.
REPORTER: So you watched people die there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, at least four that I know of.
TODD: Bridget Edmonds, an elderly woman evacuated to this warehouse in Independence, Louisiana from a nursing home spoke to CNN-Affiliate WVUE. Edmonds' sister gives her own jarring description of conditions inside.
CILLEN MEISTER, SISTER OF EVACUATED NURSING HOME RESIDENT: They didn't have adequate staff. She said that the bathrooms were overflowing. People couldn't go to the bathroom and people were using the corners of the warehouse to go to the bathroom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man has asked to be changed. Since early in the morning to be changed, and here we go, it's 4:21 and still yet he's yet to be changed.
TODD: Video filmed by an anonymous person inside given to WVUE shows crowded conditions. A man told that station they were, quote, packed in like sardines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were placed on beds that weren't even beds. There were just mattresses on the floor and there were insects crawling all over the place. There were roaches, spiders, ants crawling all over the place. The heat in there was just -- just not good.
TODD: We interviewed Independence Police Chief Frank Edwards, who told his officers tried to help people at the warehouse before, during and after the storm.
CHIEF FRANK EDWARDS, INDEPENDENCE, LOUISIANA POLICE: During the storm, the wind was blowing hard. It was blowing rain. Water got into the facility, not from rising water but from water going sideways and under the doors. So the floors were wet.
TODD: At least seven nursing home residents died after being evacuated to this warehouse. State officials say five of them are considered storm-related deaths. The Louisiana Department of Health has revoked the licenses of all seven nursing homes they came from, which are all owned by the same person, Bob Dean, who CNN has confirmed also owns the warehouse.
Two nurses who tended to patients at the warehouse spoke to CNN. Nurse Natalie Henderson saying the conditions were, quote, nasty, very unsanitary. She also spoke to CBS.
NATALIE HENDERSON, NURSE WHO WAS INSIDE WAREHOUSE: The whole place is reeking of urine and feces. On top of them trying to eat, they're begging for water.
TODD: Another anonymous nurse tells CNN, quote, they told us we were going to sister facilities out of town. They at no time told us they were going to a warehouse.
MEISTER: Oh, I'm furious right now. Someone needs to be held accountable and the state needs to do something to control this during a hurricane. We -- the hurricanes are not new to us.
TODD (on camera): CNN has reached out several times to Bob Dean, the owner of the nursing home facilities and warehouse, seeking comment and seeking any explanation for what happened there. He's not responded to us, but Dean did tell affiliate WVUE, quote, we only had five deaths within the six days. Normally with 850 people, you'll have a couple a day, so we really did good on taking care of people, end quote. Jim?
ACOSTA: Brian Todd, a disturbing report. All right, thank you.
Just ahead, President Biden's domestic agenda is in peril tonight as pivotal Democrats senators talk at the price tag.
ACOSTA: President Biden's agenda is in jeopardy tonight with Democrats divided over his $3.5 trillion tax and spending package.
And joining us now to talk about that and more, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. Congressman, thank you so much. We appreciate you joining us.
The White House seems to be framing this as a choice for Democrats, get onboard or you're going to miss the train. Is it fair for the White House to put it in those terms when, obviously, there are members of your party who have real concerns about this?
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, Jim, thank you very much for having me. There's always concern when you put a price tag on anything, and I think what has happened here is that the communication around this build back better plan, which has a ceiling of 3.5 trillion, is just that a ceiling. No one has ever said that's an exact number or that's a floor. It's up to $3.5 trillion. Now, I see that Joe Manchin has mentioned a $1.5 trillion number. So, somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5, there is $2 trillion. Those $2 trillion are there.
And I think there's a lot of room for people to sit down and negotiate. It may be when you sit around the table, you may not need 3.5 trillion to do what the president wants done and what the country needs done. But let's work on it and stay out of all of this negotiating in the media. That's not the way to negotiate. Let's keep this around the table and see what we can come up with.
ACOSTA: And here's what Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to say about Senator Joe Manchin trying to put pause on this bill. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): It's not just, you know, Senator Manchin that has leverage. Frankly, the entire party also needs to, quote/unquote, worry about that more moderate agenda in the House, because just as we have an extremely slim Senate margin, we also have a very slim House margin. So, we aren't saying it's either your bill or our bill, but that both of these bills must move forward together or neither will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: You worry that the moderate Democrats agenda could tank both of these bills?
CLYBURN: I don't worry about that but I am concerned about that. I do believe that that's why we need to stay at the table and look on what needs to be done to do what the American people would like to see.
Remember we have a history here that we ought to be guided by. When you start trying to recover, this country when it tried to recover from this so-called Great Depression and you put things together, and everybody says that Franklin Roosevelt did a great job.
Well, remember when they did Social Security, they left out farm workers. They left out domestic workers. Who were those farm workers, and who were those domestic workers? There were people especially in the South, there were people of color.
Now, we can't put together a package today, and I'll remind all of my friends that leave people out. To me, the number one thing we need to be concerned about is this coverage gap. This coverage gap is there. There are 12 states where Americans cannot get health care coverage, and we need to take care of the people in these 12 states.
We can't keep leaving this stuff up to states to decide who to cover, who not to cover. The Senate did a great job with its $1 trillion program. But they only cover 65 percent of the broadband that needs to be covered.
Who do you think is going to be covered by the 65 percent, and what 35 percent do you think is going to get left out? So we've got to be serious about this.
And the same thing applies -- you just had a piece here about nursing home care down in New Orleans. Nursing home workers need to be brought into this, and we need to take care of nursing home care because that's where Medicaid money pays for that. Yet we see people wanting to take care of Medicare and then not do right by people on Medicaid.
What 19-year-old low income person gets Medicare? That 19-year-old is eligible for Medicaid. And so we need to take care of the 19-year-olds and the 90-year-olds. Take care of everybody.
And so, that's why we've got to stay at the table and stop all this foolishness about how much it costs. How much will it cost if we don't do this? Just think about what it's going to cost down in New Orleans about those nursing homes down there that have allowed people to die. That's a big cost that this country can do without.
ACOSTA: Yeah. It's certainly is a desperate situation down there, Congressman.
All right. Congressman Jim Clyburn, thanks so much for joining us this evening. We appreciate it.
CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.
ACOSTA: And coming up, with California's pivotal recall election just six days away, Vice President Kamala Harris is hitting the campaign trail with Governor Gavin Newsom. Will it be enough to help the embattled Democrat keep his job?
ACOSTA: With just six days until California's hotly contested recall election, Vice President Harris is stepping into the fray.
Our chief political correspondent Dana Bash has been tracking the campaign and she's out with a new podcast "Total Recall: California's Political Circus."
Dana, what does this joint campaign rally tell you about what's at stake? The White House sounds like they're worried about this.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And as they should be.
BASH: And the tone and tenure of the campaign not just today when the vice president was there but in the past few weeks has been deliberately nationalized saying, look, what's happening in Texas with voting. Look what's happening all over the country with voting. Look what's happening in Texas with abortion.
Look what's happening in Washington so on and so forth, trying to make clear that this is not just about California or maybe the better way to put it is what they're trying to do is worry Democrats in California who may be complacent about the notion of a recall actually going through that you know what, you can't be, trying to give them passion.
And I -- as you said, I've been working on a podcast, the first episode is out today and it's about the 2003 recall. But I talked to the man who won that, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he talked about some of the similarities in terms of atmospherics between then and now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), FORMER CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: There is millions of people out there that are dissatisfied, dissatisfied maybe the way the coronavirus was handled, dissatisfied with the fires, dissatisfied with the blackouts.
BASH: You're saying dangerous for Gavin Newsom?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Very dangerous, yes, absolutely. It's very dangerous for him because you got to take this stuff seriously. For too long, they didn't take it seriously, but now I think they do take it seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So he was pretty honest, as you heard there, about the fact that he didn't think that Newsom who -- I should say, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Republican.
Gavin Newsom is a Democrat. Schwarzenegger told me he considers them friends, Newsom a friend. And he is very actively aggressively neutral when it comes to the candidates but he obviously has an opinion on the atmospherics there. The fact he and Newsom is campaigning as aggressively as he is now, Schwarzenegger thinks it's about time.
ACOSTA: Yeah, he was able to capitalize on that recall process years ago, and --
BASH: Yeah, Newsom isn't a mega movie star. It's a little different.
ACOSTA: We'll see if he survives this.
All right. Dana Bash, thanks so much.
BASH: Thank you.
ACOSTA: And to remind our viewers, once again, be sure to listen to Dana's new podcast, "Total Recall: California's Political Circus" with the governor there.
And more news just ahead.
ACOSTA: I'm Jim Acosta.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.