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New Blows To Trump's Big Lie About Election; Peril Co-Author On Trump's Assault On Democracy; Millions Now Eligible For Boosters Amid New Confusion. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 24, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, seriously blows the Donald Trump big lie about the election.
An Arizona audit baselessly demanded by Republicans backs backfires, reaffirming President Biden's win.
And Trump loyalists are hit with subpoenas by the January 6 select committee. I'll talk with Journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa who detailed Trump's assault on democracy in their book.
Also tonight, millions of Americans officially have the green light to get COVID-19 boosters, but the CDC director's decision is fueling some new confusion. Why did she okay shots for frontline workers when her advisers voted against it?
And the makeshift migrant camp under a Texas bridge has now been cleared. But the controversy over border patrol tactics continues, the president condemning the embarrassment on his watch.
We want to welcome our viewers here and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin with a real and present danger to American democracy coming from the former president of the United States. Donald Trump is clinging to his big lie tonight despite new setbacks in that partisan Arizona election audit and the investigation of the insurrection. Trump took another hit just a little while ago.
The White House now says President Biden will not shield Trump era records from the January 6 select committee. Our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is covering it all for us. Tonight the former president is lashing out as his bogus claims of election fraud are being exposed and undermined.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Once again Trump's claims of fraud are being debunked this time in Arizona, and this comes as the house select committee escalates its investigation into the January 6th insurrection and efforts to sow doubts about the 2020 election, issuing its first subpoenas to four of Trump's closest allies who have all helped him promote the big lie.
REID (voice over): In his quest to spread the big lie, Trump has focused on the vote count in Arizona, his allies paid a company to find fraud, but five months and more than $5 million later, the results are in. They found none. In fact, a hand recount actually found more votes for Joe Biden.
Late last night, Trump posted a statement online calling the firm reviewing the Arizona results highly respected auditors, but after the results confirming his loss were widely reported, the statement was deleted from his web site. The sham process was conducted by the Florida based company cyber ninjas which has no experience in auditing but a hand recount by the company showed Biden got 99 more votes than Maricopa County originally reported and Trump received 261 fewer votes. Maricopa County Supervisor, Republican Bill Gates, bucked his own party to reject the sham process.
BILL GATES (R) MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERVISOR: Those behind this, they don't have reverence for democracy. They are trying to sow doubt so that down the road they can, again, question elections if they don't turn out the way they wanted them to.
REID: But the former president continues to spread the big lie. On Thursday, Trump published a letter to the Republican governor of Texas, a state he won by more than five points demanding an election audit while making baseless allegations.
Texans know voting fraud occurred in some of their counties. Let's get to the bottom of the 2020 presidential election scam. Hours later, the secretary of state announced that Texas would carry out audits in four of the state's largest counties.
Trump's efforts to undermine confidence in the system is being embraced by Republicans. In a recent CNN poll, most Republicans said they want Trump to remain their party's leader, and most Republicans also consider support for Trump and his false claim to have won the 2020 election to be an important part of their own partisan identity, alongside support for conservative principles.
Nearly ten months after the 2020 election, the former president continues to trash even his closest allies, if they don't support the big lie. In a few book, Peril, authors, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa document how Senators Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee questioned Trump's claim that the election of stolen.
BOB WOODWARD, CO-AUTHOR, PERIL: These Trump supporters come up with the conclusion, it's bogus, there is nothing there.
REID: Now Trump is taking aim at the two lawmakers who were staunch allies and frequently seen by his side while in office. I spent virtually no time with them, Trump wrote in a statement, Lindsey and Mike should be ashamed of themselves for not putting up the fight necessary to win.
[18:05:07] This comes as the house select committee fired off its first round of subpoenas in its investigation into January 6th to four Trump loyalists. Investigators want to know what Trump and those around him did try to overturn the results of the 2020 election, in addition to what was known in Trump's orbit about the planning leading up to the insurrection and how the administration responded.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We're moving with great alacrity and essentially no one is off the table.
REID: The committee has specifically targeted individuals they believe would be uncooperative. They include Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, former Adviser Steve Bannon, and Kash Patel, a former Chief of Staff to then acting Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller.
SCHIFF: These are four important witnesses. They're all very close to the former president. Some were in direct communication with him on January 5th, on January 6th. They are reportedly are reportedly in communication about how to overturn the results of the election.
REID: On January 5th, Bannon predicted on his podcast.
STEVE BANNON, ADVISER, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: All hell is going to break loose.
REID: In a letter to Meadows, the committee noted he was allegedly communicating with the president on January 6th and they also want to know more about his efforts to plan and prepare to contest the presidential election and to lay accounting of electoral votes.
The committee is looking for a quick turn around, and all four Trump associates are directed to produce relevant documents by October 7th and appear for depositions the following week.
CNN has reached out to Meadows, Scavino and Bannon for comment. Patel said in a statement late Thursday that he was disappointed but not surprised that the committee had subpoenaed him before seeking voluntary cooperation.
REID (on camera): The White House says President Biden is not inclined to invoke executive privilege to block any of these requests and that is bad news for Trump and his associates as this committee's investigation is really broad, and the subpoenas to this group of advisers is likely just the beginning.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right, Paula Reid reporting for us, thank you very much. There's a lot to discuss with our guests this hour. Journalist Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, are joining us, Co-authors of the brand new bestselling book entitled, Peril.
ROBERT COSTA, CO-AUTHOR, PERIL: Thank you.
WOODWARD: Good to be here. BLITZER: Here it is. Excellent book, thanks guys, very much for writing it. Bob, you report extensively in this book, Peril, about Trump's developments during, leading up to January 6th, since January 6th and all of that. But what are these new developments we're now learning about tell you about the staying power of his allegations, the staying power, especially among Republicans who continue to spout a lot of this?
WOODWARD: Well, it's more than staying power. It's passion for Trump. The numbers, as you point out are astounding, what we discovered in the reporting on the book is that two of the Trump loyalists, Lindsey Graham, Senator Mike Lee from Utah, conservative, very devoted to Trump, investigated these claims through memos that Rudy Giuliani and White House Lawyer named John Eastman gave them, and it was the kind of investigation almost predisposed, oh, okay, there's going to be supporting evidence here.
They found the absolute opposite. Zero. Nothing. And both went, both Senators Graham and Mike Lee went on the floor of the Senate and said no, nothing. And walked away. So what does that mean? I mean, I think if you really want to look at the facts, as we tried to do here, and if you like Trump or don't like Trump, read what his allies concluded that this stolen election claim is untrue.
BLITZER: But do you see this as an assault on democracy by Trump and his supporters?
WOODWARD: Well, you know, we're just -- people will judge it. What is stunning is, and Lindsey Graham, who -- and you know, for Trump to say he's not -- doesn't talk to Graham, they play golf all the time. They played golf last Friday, I believe. And so, you know, the golf course and the political discussions are endless. So anyway, people can assess the facts here.
BLITZER: Bob, in the book, you outline how Senators Graham and Lee poured a lot of cold water as we just reported on Trump's allegations, the coup attempt as it's being called. Now, the former president, let me put it up on the screen, is saying this, this is the former president, Lindsey and Mike should be ashamed of themselves for not putting up the fight necessary to win. So, does every GOP politician take note of that, of the former president reacts?
COSTA: Let's understand why he's reacting in that way. The conventional wisdom on January 6th is that president Trump was idly watching television in the west wing. What we show in our reporting is that on January 2nd, Mark Meadows, and Rudy Giuliani are meeting with Senator Graham, and January 2nd through January 5th, you have a pressure campaign on Vice President Pence. You have a January 5th meeting in the oval office, Dan Scavino is in there, and then you have Bannon talking with the president on January 5th.
So it's not just these two senators who are talking with the president. It's the president actively trying to get Pence to throw out the electors on January 6th, to get Scavino in one scene of our book to help him to pressure lawmakers to coordinate with him on January 6th and do some kind of move to desert-certify Biden.
Big picture. The January 6th commission wants to know what was really happening January 2nd through 5th as well as on January 6. And that's why the committee has cited our book in the subpoena documents. They realized Bannon was talking to Trump in January, in December, in January. Scavino was there working on the tweets. This was a massive operation on the Trump side.
BLITZER: You know, how much pressure was the former president, then- president, actually putting on his aides and others to try to launch this kind of coup?
WOODWARD: It was absolute. The investment, I mean, what the reporting shows and Costa has the exact quotes, the interesting pressure was Trump to Pence.
COSTA: Oh, that was the moment. It could have been a constitutional crisis. We have discussed this a lot. I mean, there was that Eastman memo that was first reported in our books.
BLITZER: That law professor.
COSTA: Done terrific reporting on it as well, and you see, this is not just a conversation on January 5th in the oval. It's a document from the vice president from a conservative legal expert in the view of the Trump side, at least, that you can do this. That's what he said to Vice President Pence on January 4th, a meeting in the oval office, listening to Eastman, Mike, listen to John.
BLITZER: Look at these poll numbers. I want your assessment because you've reported on several presidents over these years. So, look at this polling. A huge jump in Republicans who have, quote, no confidence at all that the 2020 presidential election was fair. If you take a look, 63 percent. 63 percent of Republicans don't think the election was fair, compared to others, take a look at 2016, 10 percent, 2012, 12 percent, 2008, 6 percent, 11 percent. No confidence at all. These are among the losing candidates' parties. Look at how it's jumped up to 63 percent.
WOODWARD: It's astonishing, and that's why the proper word is passion that these people feel for Trump and Trump is kind of, you know since he left office January 20th, has laid out his rationale for the candidacy. It was a stolen election. And people are signing up to the stolen election argument, and, you know, we looked. We spent months looking around. Is there something here? Is there some -- and you now see in Arizona they did the count, and it shows very clearly that Biden won.
BLITZER: Biden actually got a few more votes.
WOODWARD: Got a few more votes. And so, you know, we put out the call as much as we can as a reporter to anyone in the Trump campaign, organization, we want to hear. That's how we got to the Giuliani memo, and our series of memos that he sent to Lindsey Graham, and the John Eastman memo by searching for and through Trump supporters. COSTA: No one's stopping him. You have Bill Barr knowing in November of 2020 that it's all B.S. His words, based on our reporting on the voting fraud and the machines and everyone seems to around President Trump know he's going in the wrong direction, know he's spouting lies about the election, but very little is done to corral him.
BLITZER: In the end, though, Pence, the Vice President did certify the election as president of the Senate. I give him credit for that. All right the book is entitled, Peril, Bob Woodward, Robert Costa. Guys, thank you so much for writing this book. Must read. Appreciate it very, very much.
WOODWARD: Thank you.
COSTA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we're going to drill down on the new subpoenas for Trump loyalists to testify in the investigation of the insurrection.
A prominent member of the January 6th select committee, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, there you see him, Adam Schiff, he's standing by live. We'll discuss when we come back.
BLITZER: Tonight, the January 6th select committee has issued its first subpoenas, the panel targeting four top Trump loyalists. We're joined by a key member, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Adam Schiff. Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for joining us. Why are these four witnesses who have just been subpoenaed, all close Trump aides, so critical to your investigation?
SCHIFF: Well, because they were in and around the president on these pivotal days on January 5th, on January 6th.
They were in communication, some of them with each other, others with the president, and we want to know what was the administration aware of in the run up to January 6th, what did they know about the propensity for violence among those that were being rallied to come to this stop the steal event as the president's campaign billed it, what was going on at the Pentagon. And this will help us fill out the picture of what led to that bloody insurrection, and we need to know all the facts in order to be able to protect the country going forward.
BLITZER: Indeed. The former President Trump, he reacted saying, and I'm quoting him now, we will fight the subpoenas on executive privilege and other grounds, calling your investigation once again, I'm quoting, unselect committee. Does that threat by the former president have any teeth? Because the White House, the current White House says President Biden wouldn't assert executive privilege. SCHIFF: Well, first of all, it's very encouraging that the Biden administration is not going to allow those that were potentially implicated in January 6th to hide behind bogus claims of privilege. So that's very encouraging from the Biden administration. We wouldn't expect anything different from Donald Trump.
Look, he spent four years stone walling all subpoenas. He spent the last couple of years pushing out this big lie, and now he's continuing to push out the big lie. So this is not surprising. We're going to use whatever compulsion we need to, to get these witnesses to testify, and we went straight to subpoenas because we were aware that they might very well try to do what they did, frankly, in the last administration. That is run out the clock for years and years.
BLITZER: The Chairman of the Select Committee, Bennie Thompson says if these witnesses don't comply, then I'm quoting now criminal contempt or other measures will be open to us. That's a quote from Bennie Thompson. What other measures, Mr. Chairman, are on the table?
SCHIFF: Well, that is, frankly, probably the most severe measure. There are a number of ways to enforce subpoenas, as we have tried over the last four years. There're civil efforts to seek to effectuate those subpoenas in court, but that can be very time consuming. Now, during the last administration when Bill Barr was the attorney general, he was doing everything he could to protect the person of the country, not the country itself, which meant, of course, that he wasn't going to assist in enforcing subpoenas.
But it's a very different Justice Department now that puts the public interest first, and so if people, you know, willfully ignore the law, and they defy these subpoenas, then pursuing a criminal contempt is viable, and we would hope that we would have the support of the Justice Department in that. We have to reestablish that people can't simply thumb their nose at legal process and get away with it.
BLITZER: While you're investigating the lies that led to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, the former president is continuing this effort, lashing out at senators for not fighting harder for his coup attempt, calling on Texas right now, the state of Texas to audit the 2020 election. How dangerous is all of this?
SCHIFF: It's extremely dangerous because, you know, what the former president is doing and has been doing is undermining one of the pillars of our democracy, and that is that we settle our disputes at the polling place, that we believe in our election system, that we have faith in our democracy. He's undermining that faith.
In California where we just had a recall election, the recall was overwhelmingly defeated and of course Trump and his allies and Republican Party officials around the country make bogus claims of fraud, and sadly, a great many people believe them.
I saw some polling out of California that showed a very high degree of Republicans, high percentage of Republicans who believe now those big lies about the California election. So it's deeply damaging to our democracy. BLITZER: It certainly is. Congress Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you so much for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, a rare split between the head of the CDC and the agency's vaccine advisers on COVID booster shots. We're going to take a closer look at who's eligible now to get one. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: A rare move by the Head of CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, splitting with her own vaccines advisor and backing COVID vaccine booster shot for people age 18 to 64 who are at high risk because of their work setting or living situations. The advisers had rejected that recommending booster only for people age 65 and older and American adults with underlying medical conditions.
Let's dig deeper with our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, I want you and our viewers to watch how the CDC director explained her decision today. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: I want to be very clear that I did not over rule an advisory committee.
I listen to the comment on the vote. And this was a scientific close call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So walk us through what happen here, Sanjay.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well. I think the biggest thing was basically determining how much of an impact would boosters have on healthy people under the age of 65 who work in high exposure settings like hospitals, health care workers, grocery stores, frontline workers, that's sort of things.
The advisory committee said that they didn't there be that much of an impact from providing boosters for those people and Dr. Walensky basically said she thought there would be. So it was airing on the side of providing more boosters.
Let me show you this graph really quickly, Wolf. I put this together for you. You know just saying like how much of an impact would boosters make on people. If you look at the far right of the screen that's people 65-plus. You can see that blue graph there, that shows that there's a quite a bit of impact on hospitalizations among older people. If you go to the left, people much younger, there's hardly any impact on hospitalizations because there's far less likely to be hospitalized. But there may be a impact cases. How many cases of COVID are actually diagnosed in that age group before and after booster. There seems to be some benefit according to these modeling studies of using boosters.
But admittedly, Wolf, it's not really iron clad evidence that the vaccine help as much with transmission. Certainly they help, but how much do they help exactly. I think that was the point of contention. Nevertheless, that was the specific disagreement.
BLITZER: So who should be going out right now, Sanjay, and getting a booster?
GUPTA: Well, I can put up the list here. And you know, it's interesting, if you look at the CDC's language on this they have a couple of categories of should go get the booster, 65 plus age group. People who live in long-term care facilities, but also people ages 50 to 64 who have underlying conditions. And that could a long of conditions and that could be a long list of conditions, I'll mention those as well.
But then also eligible are people, again 18 to 49 with underlying conditions and anybody frankly above 18 who has a job that might put them at risk. People have ask a lot, Wolf, I tell you quickly about what are those conditions that potentially make you higher risk for severe COVID and that is also long list, you know cancer and kidney disease, lung disease, including to moderate to severe asthma, diabetes, Obesity.
So you can see the list, but when you added all up, the people over the age of 65 and then people who may fall in to the category of having one of these conditions, you're you know 170 million people roughly, Wolf. So even though it's still, these categories, it's a large segment of the population that would be affected by these recommendations.
BLITZER: About a half of the population right there. Sanjay, I want you to standby. I want to bring in Dr. Paul Offit, the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital at Philadelphia. He's also a key member of the FDA vaccines advisory committee and he's the Author of a brand new book, there you see the cover, You Bet Your Life from Blood Transfusion to Mass Vaccination, The Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation.
Dr. Offit, thanks very much for writing these books. Thanks very much for joining us. As I said you're one of the FDA advisers. What do you make of the CDC director's booster guidance Dr. Walensky's decision to go ahead and basically challenge what some of her advisers were telling us.
DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR, VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER AT CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, PHILADELPHIA: I think is what have been a lot easier if instead of saying greater 18-year-of-age, that they have said greater over 30 years of age. Both were the sort of high risk individual as well as just for people who work in either occupations or institutions where transmissions are higher because that's what worries people. What worries people is the 18 to 29 year old is at higher risk of this side effect might acquire that is of mRNA vaccines. And if you look at the third dose of the Pfizer MRNA vaccine, it's a much greater immune response after the third dose and after the second dose.
And so I think people are worried that in boosters and who are not a high risk of hospitalization or deaths, such as, for example, a healthy young 18 to 29 year old, and now you're giving a third dose, that you might actually find that your increasing the risk of myocarditis than you make the benefits may be outweighed by the risk. I think that's what this boiled down to.
There were two things said yesterday in the CDC's meeting that hopefully didn't get lost. One is that the COVID working group said the priority is vaccinating the unvaccinated, that's our best chance to get on top of this pandemic, and the second thing they said that I think was really important was they said that for those of you in the general public who have received two doses of an mRNA-containing vaccine, you should consider yourself fully vaccinated.
Because I think what we -- what happened I think with these -- under this whole sort of Biden administration push for a third dose, this kind of third dose fever, was that there was a lot of people now who wonder whether or not they really aren't vaccinated, and I think we scared people.
BLITZER: Yes. There are still, what, 70 or 80 million Americans who are eligible for a vaccine who refuse to get the shot, at least so far, I hope they changed their minds. And Dr. Offit, as you know Dr. Fauci is cautioning people not to get their boosters too soon, and you write in your new book, You Bet Your Life, that there's some level of risk in every medical decision, so you're saying the risk is too high for the general public, is that what I'm hearing?
OFFIT: I'm saying that the data that we have right now for the general public is the two doses of mRNA-containing vaccine, whether it's Pfizer or Moderna, appears to provide excellent protection against serious illness, that protections include delta variant, it includes all age groups.
So, right now, there's not a problem in terms of protection against serious diseases.
The issue then, however, is that over time with these kinds of vaccines, the neutralizing antibody response and the circulation will start to decline. With that decline, you'll have an increase and since a symptomatic infection, mildly symptomatic infection or moderately symptomatic infection. During which time you can be contagious, but the thinking was okay. If we get a third, we can decrease contagions and get an impact on the pandemic. But the question I think, Sanjay brought it up, is really what kind of impact will it have as compared to what we really need to do, which is vaccinated the unvaccinated.
BLITZER: Good point, Dr. Offit, congratulations on your new book, You Bet Your Life, I have it right here, an important read. Sanjay, as usual, thanks to you as well. I know you going to have a new book coming out in a few weeks. We'll discuss that once that book is out as well.
And just ahead, President Biden vows action amid outrage over disturbing images of border agents on horseback, aggressively confronting migrants. The president saying, and I'm quoting him now, that those people will pay.
BLITZER: The path forward for President Biden's top legislative priorities is unclear at best tonight with the president himself saying his own party is at a stalemate between moderates and progressives.
CNN Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny is over at the White House for us. Jeff, lots of talking but no signs of progress as President Biden's economic agenda right now is hanging in the balance.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just a few moments ago, President Biden told reporters here at the White House as he left for the weekend in Camp David that he has had just another conversation with Speaker Pelosi about the way forward on this agenda.
But he has said himself that there will be ups and downs in this long legislative process. But something notable happened today, Wolf. He sought to turn the conversation away from these trillion-dollar price tags. He said the price is actually zero because all of his programs will be paid for.
The only problem, there's no consensus for how.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Now it we're at the stalemate at moment.
ZELENY (voice over): Tonight President Biden delivering a blunt reality check on his economic agenda.
BIDEN: We're going to have to get these two pieces of legislation passed. Both need to be passed.
ZELENY: The president warned the resolution between progressives and moderates won't be quick or easy but expressed optimism that divided Democrats will ultimately find consensus on his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, and a far broader $3.5 trillion budget address in climate change and expanding the safety net for most Americans.
BIDEN: I make no apologies for my proposal and why I'm proceeding, and why I think by the end of the year we'll be in a very different place.
ZELENY: Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledging to move ahead and bring the measures to the floor next week, hoping to break through the impasse. But key progressives warned that vote will fail. REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We have at least 50 people who are not going to vote for that bill. So, I think what we need is to take the temperature down a little bit.
The vote is going to drive up tensions, not drive down tensions.
ZELENY: After a week of disturbing images from the southern border --
BIDEN: Of course I take responsibility. I'm the president.
BLITZER: -- Biden weighing in for the first time on how border patrol agents on a horseback rounded up Haitian migrant families.
BIDEN: To see people like their dead, horses running over, people being strap is outrageous. I promise you those people will pay. them is outrageous. I promise people will pay. There will be consequences. It's an embarrassment, but beyond an embarrassment, it's dangerous, it's wrong. It sends the wrong message around the world.
ZELENY: Appearing on the view on ABC, Vice President Harris said the images of law enforcement officers on horses were horrific.
KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I was outraged by it, it was horrible and deeply troubling. There's been now an investigation that is being conducted, which I fully support and there needs to be consequence and accountability. Human beings should not be treated that way.
ZELENY: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended his department against comparison this week from some Democrats, that Biden administration border policies are no better than the ones under former President Trump.
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, DHS SECRETARY: Let me be quite clear. We do not conduct ourselves in an immoral way, we do not conduct ourselves in an unethical way. In fact -- in fact -- we are restoring people by reason of the immorality of the past administration. We are reuniting families that were separated.
ZELENY (on camera): And Secretary Mayorkas making clear that all migrants have been removed from that encampment in Del Rio, Texas, but Wolf, those searing images linger on.
BLITZER: They certainly do. All right, Jeff Zeleny, at the White House. Thank you very much.
Let's get some more now on the crisis along the U.S./Mexico border where at one point of 15,000 migrants were camp under the bridge that are linking Del Rio, Texas to Mexico. Many of them are originally of course from Haiti. CNN's Matt Rivers is in Mexico for us, just across the border from Del Rio.
So Matt, are there any migrants left, what are you seeing and hearing right now? MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On the U.S. side of the border, Wolf, the answer is no to that. We can show our viewers a video proof of that right now. You heard Jeff just say it there, Secretary Mayorkas saying that all remaining Haitian migrants on the U.S. side of the border have now been removed, either deported to Haiti or brought to other parts of the U.S. border with Mexico for immigration processing.
However, that's a bit different than the scenario that's happening right here on the Mexico side. You can see behind me the remains of an encampment here. We can walk a little bit and show you where there are dozens and hundreds of Haitian migrants that basically chose to stay here on the Mexico side. These people who made the same journey from South America that all those people and all those images that we've seen, Wolf, over the past week, ten days that made that encampment of thousands of people on the U.S. side, these are all part of the same group.
All of these people here are Haitian migrants. However, these people chose to stay here in Mexico because they were too afraid that if they went across to the United States, they would be deported. It's a very real fear that people have.
One thing that struck my team and I during the day today was listening to Secretary Mayorkas give that press conference. He said the United States had made the decision that conditions in Haiti are such that they believe Haiti can, in fact, absorb the thousands of deportees they were sending back to Haiti.
I wish I knew what kind of qualifications the U.S. government used to make that decision, because my team and I spent a better part of two months in Haiti, between July and August, and I saw violence, I saw poverty, I saw some of the worst conditions since the earthquake struck in 2010. There are thousands of displaced people in that country already, and yet the U.S. government making a decision to deport thousands of Haitians into what is already a country that is reeling.
One man told us that he cannot believe that the Biden administration is making that decision. How could you send someone back to a country, he said, where violence, where poverty, where corruption is still so pervasive.
Wolf, that is the fear that have driven Haitian migrants here on this side of the border to stay in Mexico rather than going to the United States.
BLITZER: Really awful situation, indeed.
All right. Matt Rivers, excellent reporting. Thank you very much.
Coming up, two hosts of "The View" test positive for COVID moments before an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris. We're going to show you the reality drama that followed.
Plus, there is a new health twist emerging right now.
BLITZER: The search for Bryan Laundrie just ended for the night at a Florida nature preserve in the investigation of the homicide of his fiancee, Gabby Petito.
CNN national correspondent Athena Jones has the latest on the manhunt.
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, new details emerging surrounding Gabby Petito's fiancee, Bryan Laundrie. Last seen ten days ago. His parents say he was heading to this massive nature reserve. A source close to Laundrie's family telling CNN he left his parent' Florida home without his cell phone or wallet and that his parents were concerned he might try to hurt himself.
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: No 23-year-old leaves the house without his cell phone. He may have just completely manipulated and engineered this entire situation so that he could disappear without a trace.
JONES: Laundrie is now the subject of a federal arrest warrant for his alleged actions after Petito was killed. A federal grand jury indicting Laundrie for his alleged use of unauthorized access following Petito's death. The indictment alleging Laundrie had intent to defraud for using a debit card and pin for accounts that were not his, though not specifying who the accounts belong to.
It says Laundrie racked up more than $1,000 in charges between August 30th and September 1st, the day police say Laundrie returned to Florida from the couple's cross-country road trip without Petito.
JOE FUSSELL, NORTH PORT POLICE DEPARTMENT: We are looking through wooded areas. We are looking through bodies of water. We are looking through swampy areas.
JONES: The search resuming for Laundrie Friday morning after pausing overnight because of darkness.
FUSSELL: We're not wasting our time out here. We are doing our due diligence to find Brian and in an area that intelligence had led us that he could possibly in be in and it's upon us to make sure that we search this area as best as we can.
JONES: North port police showing what they are up against. The difficult wet terrain covered in deep mud and marsh land. Authorities have reported no sign of Laundrie after days of searching the treacherous wilderness.
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DIVISION: I think he is a camper, not an outdoorsman. I don't think he can -- he can survive in that wilderness area. I don't think he can survive more than a couple days in there. (END VIDEOTAPE)
JONES (on camera): Now, memorial service for Gabby Petito will be held on Sunday in Holbrooke, New York. In lieu of flowers, her family is asking for donations to a foundation they plan to establish named for Petito -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Athena Jones reporting for us. Thank you.
I want to bring in CNN's senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe. He is the author of the book "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump."
Andrew, thanks for joining us.
The search, obviously, will continue at this nature reserve through the weekend. What -- what sort of information might investigators have if they are devoting all this time and all their energy and resources to this one site?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, maybe a better question would be what sort of information do they not have, right? We know that the Laundrie's family pointed them towards this -- towards this nature reserve, so that's the lead they have to go on. So far, there haven't been any recent sightings of Laundrie anywhere in the area. You know, we have sightings of Laundrie from around the area in Wyoming where Gabby Petito's remains were found. But nothing since he returned back to Florida.
So they are simply working with -- they are doing as much as they possibly can do with the lead they have. The -- the concerning thing here is that they haven't had leads pointing in any other direction. So, you know, for now, they'll probably stay the course.
BLITZER: If Laundrie's parents were concerned he might hurt himself when he left the house, why didn't they immediately call the police?
MCCABE: There is no good explanation for that obvious discrepancy. If -- if his family was concerned for him when he left, there's no way to explain why they waited for three days before they called the police, you know?
And it -- and it raises some unfortunately some uncomfortable questions for them as to were they -- were they trying to give him an opportunity to get a head start? Were they intentionally avoiding law enforcement during those three days to try to give him some cover to get out of the area? Which he certainly could have done.
We don't know the answer to that, yet. I would expect at some point the prosecutor's going to be pursuing that with Laundrie's family and maybe even in front of this grand jury.
BLITZER: Laundrie apparently left without his cell phone, his wallet. How much more challenging is it then for authorities to track him down? What else do they have to go to find him, to go off of?
MCCABE: Well, there's not much, right? So, particularly, without that cell phone, you really lose the electronic advantage that you have in trying to find people these days. There is all kinds of ways that the devices that you carry leave a record of locational data that law enforcement can use. If he doesn't have any of those electronic devices, you don't have that advantage.
You are literally looking for a needle in a haystack. This is one man who may be in a nature reserve that is about 40 square miles. So that's a lot of ground to cover in a few days.
BLITZER: Certainly is. The former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, thank you very much.
Meanwhile, there is a new twist in the COVID-19 drama that played out on live television earlier today only moments before Vice President Kamala Harris was scheduled to appear on the view.
Our Brian Todd has new details just coming into CNN.
Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These are some wild moments, Wolf, we are just learns since this morning, the host of the view in question, Sunny Hostin and Ana Navarro, have each tested negative twice for COVID. But this morning, as it was playing out live on the air, it was awkward and confusing.
TODD (on camera): On the popular ABC show, "The View", today, an awkward unscripted moment for co-host Sunny Hostin and Ana Navarro after an exclusive interview with Vice President Kamala Harris had been promoted.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Okay. We are back and there seems to be something happening here that I am not 100 percent aware of. Can someone please apprise me of the situation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two of you to step off for a second.
BEHAR: Okay. Ana and -- and -- and -- Sunny have to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay.
BEHAR: And we will tell you why.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More information later. It's a tease.
TODD: As Hostin and Navarro made their way off set, more awkwardness.
BEHAR: So shall I introduce the vice president?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BEHAR: Okay. So, vice president -- no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
BEHAR: Okay. Shall we dance? Let's do a tap dance.
TODD: Another commercial break. Then, host Joy Behar returned with the news.
BEHAR: So since this is going to be a major news story any minute now. What happened is that Sunny and Ana both apparently tested positive for COVID no matter how hard we try. These things happen. They probably have a breakthrough case and they'll be okay I'm sure because they're both vaccinated.
TODD: The vice president didn't appear until a half-hour later in the very last segment of the show. She appeared remotely and she was on for less than eight minutes.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sunny and Ana are strong women and I know they're fine.
TODD: CNN's Brian Stelter reports "The View's" hosts are usually tested for COVID twice a week but that they were tested an extra time this week because of the vice president's arrival. A White House official says Vice President Harris, who's received two doses of the Moderna vaccine, did not interact with Sunny Hostin or Ana Navarro before the show.
But one medical expert says this could have been a close call for the vice president and speaks to the risks she and the president often face.
DR. SAJU MATHEW, PUBLIC HEALH SPECIALIST: Anytime you are surrounded by so many different people from so many parts of the country, on a daily basis, you are potentially exposed to that virus every single time.
TODD: And Dr. Saju Mathew is critical of how the show handled this.
SAJU: I think the ball was dropped somewhere. Why did these anchors not know about their tests before the show began? Especially, on a day when you are interviewing Vice President Harris.
TODD (on camera): Those are among the questions we posed to publicists for "The View". Why did hosts not learn about the results until the show was on the air live? The publicists have not gotten back with us, nor has Sunny Hostin.
I did reach Ana Navarro who is also a CNN political commentator. She told me she is shocked by this. That she feels great. That she is really glad the vice president is safe.
Now, as we reported, two sources have now told CNN both Ana Navarro and sunny Hostin have subsequently tested negative for COVID twice since this morning. But a wild scene live on the air.
BLITZER: That's really encouraging that they have both, since the show, have tested negative. And these various tests. And I hope they are negative.
TODD: I think so. You know, it also speaks to the messy nature of all of this. The COVID testing and what we in TV go through, what politicians go through, and everybody is exposed to so many people in those venues. It's pretty tough to deal with.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, reporting for us, thank you. We will stay on top of this story as well.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.