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New Threat To Kill Law Enforcement After Mar-a-Lago Search; Giuliani A Target In Georgia 2020 Presidential Election Probe; CNN In Afghanistan One Year After Fall To The Taliban; GOP's Cheney Facing Uphill Battle Against Trump-Backed Challenger; Rushdie's Son: "His Life-Changing Injuries Are Severe". Aired 6-7p ET
Aired August 15, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting. David Culver, thank you so much for that report.
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Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in THE SITUATION ROOM. See you tomorrow.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a chilling new threat to kill, to kill law enforcement personnel in the wake of the search of former President Trump's Florida home, and now new claims from Trump about what agents seized during their search. January 6 Select Committee Member Congressman Adam Kinzinger will join us just ahead.
Also, Trump's former lawyer Rudy Giuliani now a target, a target in the criminal investigation into efforts to try to flip the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.
And CNN is on the ground right now in Afghanistan exactly one year after the Taliban takeover of the country now plunged into poverty, how women and girls are once again subjugated to unforgiving rule.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
New charges tonight against the Pennsylvania man who said he wanted to kill -- to kill law enforcement personnel, the latest in a very disturbing wave of threats following the FBI search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.
CNN National Correspondent Kristen Holmes is working the story.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Days after the FBI search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, new graphic threats to the FBI revealed, court documents showing social media posts against federal law enforcement by a Pennsylvania man. Quote, my only goal is to kill more of them before I drop. One quote read, if you work for the FBI, then you deserve to die, read another.
This just the latest episode. Last week, an Ohio man killed after attempting to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio, an armed Trump supporters protested outside of the FBI office in Phoenix, Arizona. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security warning of violent threats against federal law enforcement, courts and government personnel and facilities following the search.
Now, bipartisan calls for transparency into the search. In a letter to the Director of National Intelligence, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee asking for information on the reasoning behind the search and the documents seized beyond what was revealed in the unsealed warrant.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I'm confident the intelligence community will do a damage assessment. That is, I think, fairly routine when there has been the potential risk of disclosure of national security information or classified information.
HOLMES: This as former President Trump, his allies and aides work to question the search.
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): We have this list from the FBI but we don't have conclusive as to whether or not this actually is classified material and whether or not it rises to the level of the highest classified material.
HOLMES: Over the weekend, new details on the June meeting between investigators and Trump's attorneys at the Palm Beach resort. Sources telling CNN one of Trump's lawyers signed a letter asserting there was no more classified information being stored on the Florida property after justice officials left with classified materials. Yet the unsealed property receipt from Monday's search listed classified documents as being seized by the FBI, including some with a high level, quote, top secret SCI designation.
Trump now taking to a social media site, accusing the FBI of taking, quote, boxes of documents protected by attorney/client and executive privilege, as well as claiming they took his three passports, including one that had expired.
HOLMES (on camera): And just moments ago, we learned the Department of Justice opposes releasing the details of that affidavit that led to the search of Mar-a-Lago. They say that if revealed, it would show a roadmap of what their investigation actually looks like.
And they continued by saying that they want to protect grand jury secrecy as well as witnesses, noting that in this probable cause affidavit, they included very sensitive information about these witnesses.
But, Wolf, all of this just goes to show the seriousness of this criminal probe into the mishandling of documents.
BLITZER: Very serious indeed. Kristen Holmes, thank you very much for that report.
There are also new developments right now in the investigation into efforts by Trump and his allies to try to flip the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has now been told by prosecutors he's a target in the criminal probe.
CNN Political Correspondent Sara Murray is working the story for us.
Sara, the man once known as America's mayor is now, as I said, the target of a criminal investigation. What is the latest?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Wolf. And attorney for Rudy Giuliani was informed this morning that he is now a target in this investigation. One of his other attorneys, Bob Costello, confirmed that to CNN. And this is remarkable. It is one of the people closest to the president who we have learned is now a target, a target in this investigation in Georgia.
And as a reminder, the D.A. there is looking into Donald Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn the 2020 election to see if any crimes were committed. And this is a warning shot to Giuliani that she believes that he may have done something wrong, that he is now a target, that she may decide to bring an indictment against him.
And it comes at a kind of remarkable time because Giuliani is slated to appear later this week before a special grand jury in Georgia. Costello says he is still going to be there on Wednesday for that appearance. But it is unclear exactly what questions he's going to answer. Costello tells CNN that if the prosecutors there think that Giuliani is going to answer questions about conversations he had with his former client, Donald Trump, they're delusional, Wolf.
BLITZER: News right now about Senator Lindsey Graham's attempts to avoid giving testimony in that Georgia probe. What are you learning about that, Sara?
MURRAY: That is right. Graham has also been subpoenaed to appear before the special grand jury. He has been fighting this in court. And he lost in a federal court today. A federal judge said she was not going to quash this subpoena. Instead, the judge said that there were areas of inquiry that were beyond his legislative pursuits that might be worth delving into. So, that means that it goes back to the court in Fulton County, Georgia.
Now, Lindsey Graham, of course, is not too happy. His office already says that he is planning to appeal and he has maintained that any conversations he had related to the election results in Georgia, related to the ballots in Georgia had to do with the work that he was doing as a senator.
Now, one judge today clearly is not buying that. We will see how his appeal proceeds, Wolf.
BLITZER: Sara Murray reporting for us, thank you, Sara, very much.
Let's get to more on all of this. Joining us now, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, CNN Counterterrorism Analyst Phil Mudd and state attorney for Palm Beach County down in Florida Dave Aronberg.
Phil, do you agree with the Justice Department that releasing the affidavit, which they reiterate, implicates, and I'm quoting now, highly classified materials could undermine their investigation if they were to release this affidavit?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I do. If you look at what the government is saying about this, there are two things. There is witnesses, also evidently a confidential human informant. If you get that information, even if that information is redacting, you tell me, Wolf, if you're at the inner circle at Mar-a-Lago, what is the first thing you're going to do. You're going to play, who said what. And soon as you can identify, if you can, someone who is a witness, that person is going to be ostracized.
That goes a step further for the confidential informant who evidently was key to telling the FBI that there are documents still in that building. That is Mar-a-Lago. Remember, we had a lawyer for President Trump certify that there weren't documents. So, somebody flipped on the president. I would be looking, if you're in Trump's inner circle, for who that informant was if that stuff is released. They should release it. People are going to try to hunt down who informed, Wolf.
BLITZER: That is a good point, indeed. Dave Aronberg, this intelligence bulleting just released is warning of threats against specific people, including a man you know, the federal judge magistrate who actually approved the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago. How is he holding up amid these specific threats?
DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Wolf, he's holding up fine. He's a well respected magistrate. He's got a lot of respects on both sides of the aisle because he works hard, he has a lot of experience and he does justice without fear or favor. But it is a shame, a really awful stuff that he's been the subject of threats.
And these threats, these lies about federal law enforcement need to stop, and, ironically, it is coming from the party of law and order. They're the ones sowing mistrust towards law enforcement. And mistrust leads to hate and hate leads to violence, as we saw last week, and yet again, we saw this in Cincinnati , where someone was radicalized into becoming a domestic terrorist because he believed in lies told by people who know they are lying.
BLITZER: Yes, that is really, really sad. Dana, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, they are demanding answers from the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI, for that matter, but are they motivated by very different reasons?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very, very different reasons, Wolf. You heard Republicans over the weekend, and even since, argue that they want more information from the FBI, from the DOJ. Their motivation is because they are hoping that it undermines both the DOJ and FBI, and, ultimately, their case against Donald Trump and just the impetus for going in.
Democrats are hoping for more information because they believe that it would bolster the case against the former president.
You know, both things likely are not true but it doesn't necessarily answer the question that you asked Phil right out of the gate, which is whether or not the DOJ feels that they can release the affidavit that is supporting sworn documents that went along with the search warrant that we got last Friday. It doesn't seem right now that they're going to do that.
BLITZER: You know, Phil Mudd, you're a former CIA and FBI official. How do you respond to the defense, the argument that former President Trump had -- he claims he had a standing order to declassify all of this kind of material? What is your point?
MUDD: Let me hold a little bit of laughter here. Let me give you how declassification works, a classic example that you and every American witnessed. We were requested by the White House before the Iraq war to release a bunch of information for Colin Powell to speak to the U.N. That information obviously included intercepted communications, if you recall. I'm not saying that briefing went well but it included a lot of classified information. A specific event, the president goes to the intel guys, says, I want it declassified for a specific purpose.
Look, this is not like the pope looking out over St. Peter's Square and saying, I bless 200 boxes sitting in a warehouse. You needed an event typically, you need a purpose and you go to the intel guys and say, declassify this, and if there is anything dangerous in there, for example, something that exposes an informant who might be killed if he's exposed, make sure to take it out. You don't go to a bunch of boxes and say, voila, it is done, Wolf. That is nuts.
BLITZER: Yes. You have to protect what they sources and methods. Go ahead, Dana.
BASH: I just want to add that there is something so important that we need to say over and over again, and Evan Perez, our justice correspondent, started saying this from the minute we saw the criminal -- the potential criminal charges that could be involved here when we saw the search warrant on Friday, and that is let's just say that everything that the FBI took was not classified. It doesn't mean that there wasn't a crime committed.
It could have been declassified. I'm not saying it was. I'm not saying that what the former president is claiming is right. But let's just say, for argument's sake, it was all declassified. It is still -- there is still a very real potential for a crime to be committed by holding on to those documents.
BLITZER: Dave Aronberg, this is significant. Rudy Giuliani has just reacted to being told he's a target in that Georgia criminal investigation. Listen to this. Watch what he just had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: It is just further desecration of the Sixth Amendment. I was his lawyer of record in that case. The statements that I made are either attorney/client privilege between because they were me and him or they were being made on his behalf in order to defend him. When you start -- when you start turning around lawyers into defendants, when their defending your clients, we're starting to live in a fascist state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So he could be in very serious trouble. He's now the target. And that is a specific word in this criminal investigation. What do you think?
ARONBERG: At the beginning of this investigation, Wolf, Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, said that she was going to look at lies made to legislative bodies. Well, who made the lies? It was Rudy Giuliani.
And there is no exception for lawyers. I don't know what he's talking about. I mean, he went before the legislative bodies of Georgia and he said 10,000 dead people voted. He said that workers were putting out ballots on to tables from suitcases. These were lies. He was told they were lies and he said it anyways. That is why he's facing up to five years in prison. He needs to be careful because they don't sell hair dye in prison. So, I do think he facing real consequences.
BLITZER: He certainly is. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, former President Trump reportedly tried to pass a message to the U.S. attorney general, Merrick Garland. What did it say? We'll talk about it with Congressman Adam Kinzinger. That is next.
BLITZER: More now on the FBI and Homeland Security Department's warning of threats against law enforcement, courts and government personnel and facilities all in the wake of the FBI search of former President Trump's Florida home.
And joining us now, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, he's a key member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, also a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
As you probably know by now, I'm sure you've seen this joint FBI/Department of Homeland Security bulletin, it is now warning of what they call unprecedented violent threats in the wake of the search of Mar-a-Lago. Do you hold the former president, Donald Trump, responsible for inciting his supporters? REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Yes, absolutely, a 100 percent, Wolf. So, I mean, I posted a thread somebody put up of a number of folks on TikTok that were putting out, you know, not just anti-government but really threats to violence, pictures of their guns saying, it is time, we're coming. I mean, this is ridiculous. I mean, and it is ridiculous obviously for what the former president has done in terms of saying this is an attack on my home. I did nothing wrong. And, of course, the little bit that we do know it seems like there is certainly at least good reason for the FBI to have done what they did.
But then members of Congress, senators, you know, any Republican elected official out there that rushes to be the first on television or the first to Twitter to basically condemn the FBI. I mean, look, I'll tell you as a guy that grew up in the right and grew up as a Republican, there has always been a strain of people that believe that the government is, you know, out there to get them, that the FBI represents that part of the government that is out there to get people. This stokes that. It's really dangerous and I fear it could get worse unless people are way more responsible.
BLITZER: Yes. Clearly, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security fear the same thing.
The New York Times has reporting, Congressman, that former President Trump tried to pass a message along to the attorney general, Merrick Garland, saying, and I'm quoting now from the story, the country is on fire, what can I do to reduce this -- to reduce the heat? Did you strike you as odd that the man that set the fire apparently tried to ask the attorney general to put it out?
KINZINGER: Yes. I mean, it is a creepy message, to be honest with you, just like, frankly, Donald Trump and his supporters have become quite creepy in how they're acting and what they're threatening. I don't know what it means. Only Donald Trump in his own head knows what that means. But it does strike me as something like, you know, what you hear from the mafia. A, if you want your store to be secure, give us money. We'll make sure you're secure, when, in fact, there was never a threat in the first place.
I think, look, to every Republican out there that is knee-jerk reaction is to defend this guy, let me just say this. I know people are very frustrated that Merrick Garland did not move faster, for instance, on some of the January 6th stuff, I don't think it is a man to overreact and do it too quickly. I think it takes a lot information for him to do that. And in this case, for him to approve a raid on Mar-a-Lago, to go after what appears to be classified information, there had to be good reason.
And I would encourage anybody in a position of authority to take some time to figure out what this is before you just jump on the Donald Trump bandwagon on this.
BLITZER: Yes, a good point. The explanations for this from Mr. Trump and some of your fellow Republicans range from brushing it off as not a big deal to conspiracies about planted documents. But just how serious was the risk to national security to have these highly sensitive classified documents stashed away at a resort and event space.
KINZINGER: Well, I mean, look, some of the things I've heard, just kind of reported on open source that some of the classifications of these documents were such that you can't even talk about what the classification was because the classification in and of itself is classified. So that would go to imply that these are some pretty serious situations and that nobody should have access to these except for the few in government that are currently in government at the time.
I mean, the explanations from Donald Trump fearing stuff was planted to all of a sudden saying he just like mentally declassified this stuff, to saying, well, people take work home all of the time, I mean, just like anything, just like January 6, when it started out as an Antifa operation, then it was the FBI, and then it was really just a bunch of tourists, and then it was a bunch of people that were misunderstood. There is always an evolving explanation. But that evolving explanation is always a lie and it points to the fact that Donald Trump knew what he was doing.
So, I don't know the details of the raid but it certainly seems like Donald Trump's explanation is not accurate.
BLITZER: Quickly, before I let you go, Congressman, the only other Republican, as well know, on the January 6 select committee, Congress Woman Liz Cheney, the vice chair, faces steep odds in her primary tomorrow out in Wyoming. What will it say about your party if she were to lose her seat?
KINZINGER: Well, I think it shows that the party is in a bad place. Look, we are standing up against evil. Liz Cheney is standing up against evil. And I say this. I put out this message the other day, which is a lot of people sit around and they dream about the day they get to do it and very few people ever get that chance to really stand up against evil. And as you've seen in Congress, many that do get that chance don't.
She has fought a valiant fight. Her fight is not over regardless of what happens on Tuesday. And I think it says a lot about the party if she loses. I think it says a lot about the party that were quick to say, defund the FBI, and support a guy like Donald Trump.
BLITZER: Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, thanks so much for joining us.
KINZINGER: Any time, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, U.S. intelligence officials have worried for years, for years about national security issues at former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago beach club. What this means for the top secret classified documents the FBI found there, that's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:25:00]
BLITZER: The FBI's search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort has his Florida home back in the spotlight right now. But security concerns around the property go back almost to the start of his presidency.
CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us. Brian, what is the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're learning new details tonight about how Mar-a-Lago has been basically a security nightmare from the day a Chinese national snuck on the property with what was called a modern day burglar's toolkit to the concerns about top secret documents sitting in a vulnerable place at the facility.
TODD (voice over): New concerns tonight that Donald Trump's Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, did not meet the standards needed to store top secret classified documents.
AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: You have this perfect storm of intelligence, interests and poor security, all in one place in Florida.
TODD: According to a review by CNN's Kevin Liptak, security at Mar-a- Lago has come into question on several occasions in recent years. One night in 2017 at the resort when Trump and then Japanese leader Shinzo Abe consulting on a sensitive national security issue, word of a North Korean missile launch, club guests were close enough to take photos like these. In view of the guests on the patio, documents were illuminated by the light of a cell phone.
PERITZ: The fact that he has these documents lying around and he shares it with a foreign national who happened to be a prime minister and who knows who else is incredibly serious, and it shows a general lack of understanding of how our national security system works.
TODD: Another post from a Mar-a-Lago guest showed the guest standing with an aide who he said held the president's nuclear launch codes satchel. It was unclear how close the guest got to the satchel.
In 2019, a Chinese businesswoman was arrested for trespassing at Mar- a-Lago.
ANTHONY FERRANTE, FORMER FBI CYBER COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AGENT: She carried into Mar-a-Lago or was able to carry in to Mar-a-Lago a modern day burglar's toolkit.
TODD: Including a thumb drive, a laptop, an external hard drive and four cell phones. Prosecutors said they later found in her hotel room a device to detect hidden cameras and thousands of dollars in cash. One intelligence veteran worries about who else could have breached the compound at any point.
PERITZ: If I were a hostile intelligence service, I would have tried to recruit a maintenance person, a maid, middle management, a secretary, one of the people that comes and goes within Mar-a-Lago all the time.
TODD: in 2018, while the president and first lady were at Mar-a-Lago, a college freshman was able to get on to the grounds by walking through a tunnel from the beach. Prosecutors said he was screened for weapons by the Secret Service at some point but wasn't stopped from entering the property, even though he wasn't supposed to be there.
LAURENCE LEAMER, AUTHOR, MAR-A-LAGO, NSIDE THE GATES OF POWER: It was just waiting for disaster. You could walk into the pool. There is nobody standing there.
TODD: Author Laurence Leamer has written a book on Mar-a-Lago and says he's been on the estate several times. Leamer says Trump's personal attitude toward security there is part of the problem.
LEAMER: He's perfectly comfortable in Mar-a-Lago. Why? Because he has to be adored. He can't stand to be alone. He wants to have people around him all of the time celebrating. So, when he walks into Mar-a- Lago, people stand up. They're constantly standing up and applauding him. He needs that. He's hungry for that.
TODD (on camera): Regarding the latest reporting of sensitive documents remaining at Mar-a-Lago, CNN has reported that one of Trump's attorneys claimed earlier this summer that no classified material remained at Mar-a-Lago. Trump and his allies have said he used his presidential prerogative to declassify the documents before leaving office, but they have not provided any evidence of a formal declassification process taking place. Wolf?
BLITZER: Good point. Brian Todd reporting, excellent report, thank you very, very much.
Joining us now is CNN Political Analyst Carl Bernstein, one of the journalists who, of course, helped exposed the Watergate scandal. Carl, thanks very much for joining us.
Of all of the lines Richard Nixon crossed, and you reported on that all the time, was he ever willing to put the country's national security in jeopardy as former President Trump has by taking top secret classified information to his Florida beach club?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No. What Nixon did do was use national security policy to his own political advantage. But we need to look at the Trump presidency and at Donald Trump as an event in the history of this country unlike anything we've seen. We have a president of the United States, Donald Trump, who we know, demonstrably, is a seditionist president. We know of his criminality beyond doubt. We know of his instability. And all of those things are known particularly by members of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill, who have been so craven that they haven't spoken out about what they know. And I think that that is something that we really need to look at and could talk about perhaps a little bit now.
BLITZER: Yes, well, that is a good point. In the wake of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Carl, Trump and his allies have fueled anger and distrust towards some of our nation's bedrock institutions, including the FBI and the Justice Department, federal courts for that matter as well. Did you ever think you would see a former president of the United States show such little regard for these key American institutions?
BERNSTEIN: No. Everything almost that Donald Trump did as president, and he's doing as an ex-president, is unlike anything we've seen. We have Donald Trump and a far-right Republican Party, which is enthralled to his authoritarianism, to his excesses and why Donald Trump in part has managed to produce in terms of the legislative goals, the judicial goals of the far-right, of Mitch McConnell and the judiciary, of authoritarianism, even to the point of really moving toward the acceptance of hatred in this country, the hatred of some religious groups, the hatred of some ethnicities, not to say that it is the policy of the Republican Party but rather that the individuals in the leadership of the Republican Party have not made it their business to say, this is not our agenda.
Donald Trump's authoritarianism and racist appeals, that is not our agenda. We haven't had that.
And I think one of things that happened has to do with journalism, has to do with our reporting. I don't know of many reports on Capitol Hill, many national reporters understand from their sources who are assistants and staff of most of the leaders of the Republican Party on the Hill, in the Senate, a great number of House members, they are being told how their bosses are -- in private, despise Donald Trump, hold him in utter contempt, think he is a criminal, think he is dangerous. That is what many members of the Senate say, their aides say to me and others, same in the House. And yet we allow the stories to go on that as if there is great belief in this president among these same Republican leaders and members of the Congress.
We need -- I did a story back a year or two ago -- two years ago, saying that 21 members of the Senate, according to their aides, despised Donald Trump, hold him in contempt and I named them. And there was maybe one or two denials from those senators. I got a call the next day from a Republican senator. He said, Carl, the number is really closest to 40.
This is the way Donald Trump -- these Republicans in the leadership know who he is. They understand the danger to the country posed by him. And yet they are so craven, so afraid of being unelected, so afraid of being primaried, that they will not do what the Republicans during the Richard Nixon conspiracy did, get up and say, we cannot have criminality in our president, former president and he must be held accountable, and, indeed, we are now seeing a president, a former president who probably may face indictment in three different cases. We don't know that he will but it certainly is possible.
BLITZER: It certainly it possible. Carl Bernstein, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.
Just ahead, it's been one year since the Taliban took over Afghanistan's capital. We're about to go back live to Kabul for a firsthand look at what life is like under Taliban rule. That's next.
BLITZER: Today marks one year since Afghanistan's capital fell to the Taliban. CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward reported on ground in Kabul as that dramatic scene unfolded. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a site I honestly thought I would never see, scores of Taliban fighters, and just behind us the, U.S. embassy compound.
Many women are afraid they will not be allowed to go to school. They will not be allowed to work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can go to the school. They can continue their education, but Islamic hijab.
WARD: So, like I'm wearing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not like you, but covering their faces or something.
WARD: Cover the face?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WARD: So, you mean niqab?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Niqab.
WARD: Why do they have to cover their face?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it is in our Islam.
WARD: Is it in Islam though that you have to wear a niqab?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And Clarissa is now back in Kabul for us. Clarissa is joining us live.
How much of Afghans lives actually changed over this past year, since the Taliban took over?
WARD: Well, Wolf, it is been a dramatic change. And for some people, the Taliban, we saw them celebrating on the streets of Kabul today, the victory against the American occupiers. But for many other people in this city and across the country, today was another day of mourning. They are faced with so many challenges, Wolf, from the devastating economic situation, the humanitarian disaster, human rights issues and, of course, most pertinently, the issue of girls' education. Girls in Afghanistan above sixth grade still cannot attend school despite repeated promises from the Taliban that they would be able to.
We were amazed to see that so many of them are improvising ways to defy that ban that, Wolf, they're setting up on official schools. Take a listen to what one girl, Nahid Sadata (ph), a very brave young woman, said, in spite of the fact that she won't get a diploma, she is determined to continue her studies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said that I'm so powerful, I'm strong and these things can't bring my aims and my dreams and what I want to do.
WARD: Do you ever feel scared?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It is a risk for us that we do -- we don't cover our face and we study our lessons.
WARD: You're very brave.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: We pushed the Taliban foreign ministry spokesperson on when those schools will be able to open again. He would not be drawn on the specifics. He said there are still some issues to be resolved but, again, wouldn't say what those issues are and so many here fear that those schools are not opening any time soon, Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Clarissa, what are the Taliban saying about the risk of Al Qaeda and other terror organizations regrouping?
WARD: Well, this is pretty interesting. Essentially, they're dismissing any concern about this. And we did again press the spokesperson on the issue of the fact that the U.S. killed the leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, right here in Central Kabul just over two weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDUL QAHAR BALKHI, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SPOKESMAN: We've made it very clear that the government of Afghanistan was unaware of the arrival or presence of Mr. Zawahiri in Kabul. So far, we have been unable to establish as a fact, as a matter of fact, that Mr. Zawahiri was indeed present in Kabul.
WARD: Isn't that almost more frightening, though? The idea that you're claiming potentially the leader of al Qaeda was here in the center of the city and you didn't even know about it?
BALKHI: Again, we contend that notion that he was even present here. But even if he was, these types of incidents happen everywhere in the world.
WARD: But they really don't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD: And it is this kind of strident attitude, that is really putting a road block in any attempt to normalize relations between the U.S. and the Taliban. And that, of course, complicates efforts to unfreeze some of the billion dollars that have been frozen since the Taliban takeover.
CNN spoke today to Tom West, who is the U.S. envoy and he said in light of al Zawahiri, there is no short-term plans to try to recapitalize Afghanistan's central bank, Wolf.
BLITZER: Stay safe over there.
Clarissa Ward in Kabul, thanks very much for pressing him as well.
Coming up, Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney's uphill battle to keep her seat in the U.S. Congress. Will standing up to Trump cost her the Wyoming primary?
BLITZER: Congresswoman Liz Cheney's political future is on the line in tomorrow's Wyoming primary. Cheney, one of only two Republicans on the House, January 6th Select Committee, is facing a battle against the Trump-backed challenger.
CNN's chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny is in Jackson, Wyoming, for us tonight.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We have to set aside partisan differences and understand that there is something much bigger at stake here.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the eve of the Wyoming primary, Liz Cheney is in an uphill fight to hole her congressional seat even as she begins eyeing the next steps in a bigger battle ahead.
CHENEY: Many people will come up to me and say, I never voted for you before. But I'm going to do it this time and I say, great and let's keep that going. ZELENY: A Republican from one of the state's most storied political
families, Cheney has become a pariah in her own party, and she's turning to Democrats and independents for a last-minute life line.
ANNETTE LANGLEY, WYOMING VOTER: I never thought I would vote for Cheney. But she has earned my respect.
ZELENY: Annett Langley says she is a proud Democrat but she stood in line for nearly an hour today to change parties and vote Republican.
LANGLEY: She might not win but she needs as much support as possible for doing what she's doing.
ZELENY: The odds are long considering how former President Trump's shadow looms large in Wyoming, where the rolling summer beauty has been punctuated by a scorching political campaign between Cheney and Harriet Hageman.
HARRIET HAGEMENT (R), WYOMING CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We're fed up with Liz Cheney.
ZELENY: If the crossover vote doesn't save Cheney, her admirers hope it could help avoid an embarrassing blowout that Trump would revel in.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Liz, you're fired. Get out of here.
ZELENY: Mike Sullivan is the former Democratic governor of Wyoming, who served three decades ago.
MIKE SULLIVAN (D), FORMER WYOMING GOVERNOR: Wyoming, always a trail blazer.
ZELENY: He planted a Cheney sign in his front yard to send a message for democracy and the rule of law.
SULLIVAN: Without regard to her politics, she has reflected herself as a leader. I think history will prove her. And the legacy that she leaves will be a very impressive and important one.
ZELENY: Joe McGinley, a former GOP county chairman in Casper, said he believes some Republicans are afraid to admit their support for Cheney, fearing the wrath from Trump and his loyalists.
JOE MCGINLEY, CHENEY SUPPORTER: There are lots of people throughout that are supporting Representative Cheney. They are just afraid to speak up, unfortunately.
ZELENY: The outcome of Tuesday's primary will make clear whether such a hidden Cheney vote exists or if Republicans reward her for not changing her position in the face of a brutal campaign.
CHENEY: I will never violate my oath of office. If you're lack for somebody who will, you need to vote for somebody else on this stage because I won't.
ZELENY: These days, Cheney is hard to find. Outside of friendly audiences, at house parties, which aides attribute to rising threats of violence. She told CNN last month she was well aware of the headwinds facing her.
CHENEY: I don't intend to lose but some things are more important than any individual office or political campaign.
ZELENY: Now, it's less a question of whether she wins here tomorrow, Wolf, or what will she do after. The reality is when you talk to so many of her supporters and indeed, admirers, they believe that tomorrow is likely going to be the end of her congressional career. She, of course, has served three terms.
But the bigger question, what does she do next? She has vowed to do one thing, to keep former President Trump from the Oval Office. We'll see how she goes about doing that, Wolf.
BLITZER: We certainly will.
All right. Jeff Zeleny in Jackson, Wyoming, thanks very much.
Just ahead, we'll have the latest on author Salman Rushdie's condition after he was stabbed on stage.
BLITZER: New details tonight on the attack on the author Salman Rushdie.
CNN crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz is joining us. He has the latest.
First of all, Shimon, what are you learning? What is the latest?
PROKUPECZ: Right. So, the latest is there's an FBI investigation. The FBI has joined this investigation along with the local police there in Chautauqua.
The big question, obviously, is motivation. The government here, the FBI, along with U.S. officials, want to know if this 24-year-old suspect Hadi Matar was in communication with anyone overseas, whether or not there was anybody that was directing him because clearly, they have found indications, according to prosecutors, that this was preplanned. This was a premeditated, attempted assassination here.
And so, there is a lot of concern certainly from the U.S. officials and from the FBI. As to the condition of Rushdie, we're told that he's off his ventilator. That he's up. He's speaking.
But he has some injuries, Wolf. Certainly an eye injury. He also has some nerve damage to his arm and family members have described it as life-altering injuries. But nonetheless, they expect him to survive. But this investigation, Wolf, is just getting started as U.S.
officials, the FBI, the local police are continuing to dig through the suspect's past.
BLITZER: I'm sure we learn a whole lot more.
Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very, very much.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.