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Judge Unseals Some Mar-a-Lago Documents, Sets Up Possible Affidavit Release; Ex-Trump Officials Refute Claim Of Standing Order To Declassify Documents; Ex-Trump Org Finance Chief Pleads Guilty In Tax Fraud Scheme; Biden Admin Stepping Up Response To Monkeypox Outbreak. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 18, 2022 - 18:00   ET



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Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call THE SITUATION ROOM. See you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a federal judge just released some documents tied to the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago, and he is signaling he may unseal parts of the search affidavit as well. The hearing revealing new information about the investigation of former President Trump.

Also tonight, Trump's claim he had a standing order to declassify documents he took from the White House is dismissed, and I'm quoting, now as ridiculous and complete fiction. 18 former Trump administration officials spoke exclusively with CNN to refute Trump's attempted defense for stashing top secret papers at Mar-a-Lago.

And the longtime chief financial officer for the Trump Organization pleads guilty for his role in a tax fraud scheme. Allen Weisselberg agreeing to testify against the former president's company but not against Trump or his family.

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

We begin with new moves by a federal judge to give the public more information about the historic FBI search of former President Trump's Florida home. CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider reports on today's important hearing in Florida.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, a federal judge in Florida says he wants at least some portions of the affidavit justifying the Mar-a-Lago search made public, saying, I'm not prepared to find that the affidavit should be fully sealed.

Before deciding, Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart is giving the Justice Department one week to propose redactions. The DOJ has forcefully opposed releasing details from the affidavit, saying that could derail their ongoing criminal investigation.

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Much of our work is by necessity conducted out of the public eye. We do that to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans and to protect the integrity of our investigations.

SCHNEIDER: Judge Reinhart has already released the search warrant and the inventory of items taken from Mar-a-Lago, including 11 sets of classified documents. Today, he made several more filings public, including the DOJ's warrant application, where they describe the potential offenses being investigated as the willful retention of national defense information, concealment or removal of government records, and obstruction of a federal investigation.

The newly released filings also show prosecutors believe they needed to file paperwork under seal before the search because they feared evidence might be destroyed and that they wanted to repossess several items that remained at Trump's Florida home illegally.

In court, DOJ lawyers did reveal a few details about the affidavit, saying it was very lengthy, very detailed, and described what several witnesses told investigators. But the lawyers also argue that the release of any additional information could endanger the safety of government investigators or the witnesses sharing information with them.

DOJ Attorney Jay Bratt pointing to the volatile situation of people threatening FBI agents, including the standoff with an armed man who was later killed outside the FBI field office in Cincinnati, noting there are many amateur sleuths on the internet to find personal information.

DEANNA SHULLMAN, ATTORNEY FOR DOW JONES AND CO. AND ABC: I think Judge Reinhart is going to protect the identity of confidential informants, and that's probably the right outcome here. We don't want -- none of the media interveners want to jeopardize the safety or security of a confidential informant. It is very common in these situations that information that would lead to the disclosure of their identity is kept secret.

SCHNEIDER: The judge did not unseal the full affidavit today, something Trump and his allies have demanded. Trump writing this week on his Truth Social page, I call for the immediate release of the completely unredacted affidavit pertaining to this horrible and shocking break-in.

Meanwhile, CNN has learned Trump is considering publicly releasing surveillance footage from inside Mar-a-Lago of the FBI agents searching and seizing documents. His son, Eric, talked about the possibility this week.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: You still have the surveillance tape, is that correct? Are you allowed to share that with the country?

ERIC TRUMP, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Absolutely, Sean, at the right time.

SCHNEIDER: Sources say some of Trump's allies believe releasing the video would energize Trump's base and could be included in campaign ads.


Others warn it could backfire, providing an alarming visual of the large volume materials seized from Mar-a-Lago.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): And we could know more about how much of that affidavit might get released by late next week, and, Wolf, that's because the judge in this case has told the DOJ to propose redactions, or maybe even explain why they can't release this to the public. He wants more explanation by next Thursday at noon.

And you know, in the meantime, the media attorneys for this case who are arguing for full release, and, of course, that includes attorneys for CNN, they're applauding the judge here for really fighting to try to get at least some of this information out into the public.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jessica. Stand by. We have more exclusive reporting that we're getting right now.

I want to bring in CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel for that. Jamie, after the Mar-a-Lago raid, Trump claimed he had a standing order to declassify any documents he took from the White House. I know CNN had an opportunity to speak with 18 former senior Trump officials about this. Tell our viewers what they've been saying.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think this is nothing short of extraordinary. We frequently do stories with multiple sources, but these were 18 former senior Trump officials, White House, intelligence community, justice. Many of them served in positions, Wolf, where they would have been part of the declassification process or they certainly would be aware of it. And each and every one dismissed the notion that there was a standing order. Many of them laughed at it and this doesn't often happen many of them went on the record.

So, we have former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly who said, quote, nothing approaching an order that foolish was ever given. And I can't imagine anyone that worked at the White House after me that would have simply shrugged their shoulders and allowed that order to go forward without dying in the ditch trying to stop it. From another chief of staff, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, he flatly dismissed the idea and he told me, quote, not aware of a general standing order. And former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Wolf, called it, quote, a complete fiction. It goes on and on. Olivia Troye, who was homeland security, called it ludicrous. A very senior intelligence adviser said to me he just laughed and he said it's ridiculous. And several very, very senior officials called it B.S.

BLITZER: Very interesting indeed. And while a president does have broad powers to declassify very sensitive material, the president at the time, a sitting president would have to have a record to show that, right?

GANGEL: As one source said to me, show me his signature. There is a process to declassify. It is frequently a complicated process that requires lots of agencies weighing in. Bottom line, Donald Trump can't just have this idea in his head. He can't just, as one source said, wave a magic wand, especially not after the fact. The sources I spoke to said that they felt this was just a very transparent way for Trump to try to defend himself and give himself some legal protection after the fact.

BLITZER: Jamie Gangel, excellent, excellent reporting. Thank you very, very much.

I want to bring in our political and legal experts to assess what's going on.

George Conway, just take a look at the documents released today. They argue the basis for the search is possible, quote, evidence of a crime and contraband. They also warn that evidence might be destroyed. How revealing is all of this?

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: Well, I mean, I think it tells us things that we already know, that this is a serious criminal investigation. It wasn't just an effort by the Justice Department and the national archives to obtain the documents and recover the documents. I mean, this is a very serious criminal investigation. And I would be surprised if any truly significant details, factual details will appear in the redacted affidavit that will come out next week if the judge approves it.

BLITZER: If the judge may release, as we've been noting portions of the actual affidavit. But what is your assessment? How much could we actually see after the redactions?

CONWAY: If it's done properly, not much. I mean, we'll see something like blank dually sworn deposes and says I am a special agent of the FBI, comma, blank, and then you'll see, we're requesting a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago. You'll see the address, 1100 South Ocean Boulevard. And then you'll see blacked out paragraph after paragraph.


We're just not going to see that much. I mean, they're certainly not going to describe the witness interviews that they've conducted, who the confidential sources are, what grand jury materials they have. We're just not going to see any of that, if this is properly done. And if the judge orders something further than that, you can be sure that the Justice Department will take it up to the court of appeals. So, I think what we're going to see is just Swiss cheese. But that said, I mean, it's going to be something to actually see page after page of blacked out material going on to -- I don't know how many pages. They said it's a very lengthy affidavit. I mean, just the fact that you're seeing a lengthy document with all this information blacked out, I think is going to tell us, just going to give us the feeling that there really is -- there's something behind the curtain. We already know that. But to see it in blacked out, black and white redacted, even if no details are provided, I think, it's going to provide us with some, I guess, satisfaction that there is something real there. We're just not going to know what the details are.

BLITZER: I suspect you're right.

Dana Bash, is the Justice Department right to be very worried about what the release of the actual affidavit could mean for witnesses?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, because we don't know what they know, a lot of what they know, we're not sure what their big concerns are. I mean, George just talked about some of the basics. If in fact they had to go really specific and get very detailed on why they felt this was so urgent, and presumably they did since they were talking about an unprecedented move to go into the house of a former president, then perhaps there are a lot of bits of information in there that not only have to do with whatever investigation they're doing that has to do with the documents that they went in to get, but maybe even other investigations.

We just don't know, which is why it is very noteworthy that the judge today made clear that it wasn't a no, it was, I'm going to go -- probably go and talk to the Justice Department and get a sense of why and how we can redact as much as possible. Because in this -- never mind the legal implications, which are a big deal, but in this political environment, sunshine is the most important thing, which is why media outlets have had lawyers in court today, because they can fill the vacuum in the Trump orbit with a lot of things that are just not true. They can't if we have more information about what is true.

BLITZER: I want to get the thoughts of Kaitlan Collins, who is with us as well. The former president, Kaitlan has demanded that the actual affidavit be made public but his lawyers didn't make that case to the court today, did they?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, and they haven't made that case at all. And so what you've heard from former President Trump and his aides and his legal team is they say they want to see the full affidavit released, no redactions. This is something Trump says he wants done in the interests of transparency.

But, notably, today, you did not see them make that stance public in court. They've said it on social media, they've said it on television, on cable news. They have not said it in court today despite having opportunities to do so, Wolf. And it's notable given Christina Bobb, who is one of the attorneys on Trump's team, she was actually there the day that the search was happening, she was in court today, but she said it was just to monitor the proceedings. She didn't actually submit any kind of formal notion to make the affidavit publicly, to make the affidavit public in its entirety, which is what they have said is their stance. They're just not saying so in court.

Now, I'm told that it's a possible they may actually make that stance, they may take that, but so far, Wolf, they have publicly pushed for it, just not in court.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a significant development indeed.

Everybody stick around. We have a lot more to discuss about the Mar-a- Lago search and what comes next.

Plus, the long-time chief financial officer for the Trump Organization pleads guilty to a tax fraud scheme. It's all right after the break.



BLITZER: Tonight, one of the criminal investigations tied to former President Trump has produced a conviction, a longtime top executive of the Trump Organization pleading guilty for his role in a 15-year-long tax fraud scheme.

CNN National Correspondent Brynn Gingras is outside the courthouse in New York City for us. Brynn, walk us through what this guilty plea means for Allen Weisselberg and for the investigation of the Trump Organization.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. I mean, this means that Weisselberg, who is in his 70s, is going to be spending time in Rikers, likely about 100 days, according to this plea agreement. But he also today just admitted in court that he underreported his income to his accountant in the taxes, didn't talk about all those benefits he received at Trump Org, which included luxury cars, rent, private school tuition for his grandchildren. So, he pleaded guilty to 15 felonies here, which is significant.

Also significant to note, Wolf, this means he now is going to testify in the upcoming trial against Trump Organization, which is going to be invaluable, as the Manhattan D.A. said today, that information giving the inner works into Trump Org.

Also significant to note, Wolf, is what he won't be doing is flipping on his former boss, Donald Trump, or any of his adult children in the criminal investigation that is ongoing by state prosecutors here in New York.

And you can tell there is no bad blood happening between the Trump family and Weisselberg as the Trump family released a statement calling Weisselberg a fine and honorable man and calling him a friend. Also important to note, Wolf, is that they said they will not be taking any sort of plea agreement and that they look forward to this trial set to begin in October.

BLITZER: Yes. Weisselberg worked for the Trump Organization for 40 years, 40 years.

Brynn Gingras, thank you very much for that report.

Let's get back to our panel right now. George Conway, how is it possible for Weisselberg to testify against the Trump Organization without actually implicating the former president or his family for that matter?


CONWAY: Well, it's sort of a difficult thing to split, the baby to split there. Because, I mean, this is a small family corporation. I mean, it has a lot of assets, but it's basically run -- was run from one floor to the 26th floor of an office building. And there are only very few people involved in the running of the company, and the two critical people were Donald Trump and Allen Weisselberg.

So, the fact that he is admitting that they engaged in this practice makes it hard to believe that Donald Trump didn't know about the practice. It's going make it impossible for the Trump Organization to defend itself.

But at the same time, it's something of a victory for Donald Trump, because Allen Weisselberg, he went back 40 years, as you say, he knows where all the bodies are buried. I mean, the whole point of this case was really to get Allen Weisselberg to flip against Donald Trump on things of much greater significance, and much greater financial amounts involving the valuation of real estate, insurance, potential insurance fraud, bank fraud, tax fraud, and he clearly refused to cooperate.

And that's why we saw the resignation of two ranking very high, very prominent, two of the best criminal lawyers, former prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers in the city, Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne, resigned because of the new incoming Manhattan D.A.'s refusal to move forward with the case, and presumably the issue was whether you move forward with the case without the insider witness, Allen Weisselberg.

So, Weisselberg stood them down. At the same time, I don't think any of us would want to spend five months in Rikers Island and I don't think it's going to make the Trump Organization look very good when he goes to trial and testifies against them.

BLITZER: And that will be in October.

Kaitlan Collins is still with us. I want to turn, Kaitlan, to your reporting. What can you tell us about how former President Trump may actually wind up using the Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage of the FBI search as possible leverage?

COLLINS: He's already using it certainly to his gain when it comes to fundraising, Wolf. Because ever since that search happened on that Monday and the days following, if you're signed up to get the former president's fundraising text messages or emails, you certainly saw a flood of them. Almost every single one was centered on the search of Mar-a-Lago, whichk, of course, he framed in his political action committee framed as a raid of his residence by Democrats. Of course, those are accusations they basically used to translate instead of saying that it was a lawfully conducted search warrant at his residence by the FBI, they've been using it to fundraise, Wolf.

And it is actually working for the former president because we are told and we have confirmed The Washington Post reporting that in some days following the raid, the contributions to Trump's political action committee topped a million dollars for several of the days, as you have seen him send text message after text message and email after email trying to fundraise off of this. So, of course, while a lot of this remains to be seen, what happens in court, what his legal exposure is here, he is certainly fundraising and making a lot of money off of the search.

BLITZER: Jessica Schneider, the FBI actually asked them not to film the search, right?

SCHNEIDER: That's exactly right. Trump and his team, they've actually been forthcoming about the fact that FBI agents did, in fact, ask them to turn off the surveillance cameras, and they refused. Sources have told us our team that it was actually Jay Bratt on the day of the search, he's the head of counterintelligence and export division at DOJ, he's the one who is in court today making the arguments for DOJ. And he was the one on the day of the search who also requested that the cameras be turned off.

We know, of course, they weren't turned off, that Trump has that footage, that he is mulling over whether to release. But the truth of it is actually that Trump and his team and the people at Mar-a-Lago, they actually did not have a duty to turn those surveillance cameras off. That would have been something they would have had to do if there was court order. But absent any court order, they were well within their rights to keep that footage rolling that they now have in their back pocket they might release.

BLITZER: They did keep that footage rolling indeed. All right, stand by for a moment.

George, while I still have you, if you were representing the former president, would you advise him not to release that video?

CONWAY: I don't know. I'd have to see what was on the video. I think that what he's going to end up doing is probably releasing some kind of an edited version with creepy music on it, and one that doesn't show the fact that the FBI took out so many boxes of classified information.

That said, I just don't see that much of a benefit to it other than to excite the people he's bilking of money because people looking at files and carrying around documents in an orderly fashion, there are no guns drawn here.


These FBI agents knew that they were under surveillance. They are going to conduct themselves, particularly in the presence of the Secret Service, in a former president's home. They're going to conduct themselves in the most buttoned down fashion possible.

So, I doubt that there is anything. If you looked at these tapes, you'd probably just fall asleep there may be some way to edit them to make them look nefarious and put some dark cast on it with special effects and music, but other than that, I think it's a silly exercise for them to release the tape in a cheap and disgusting exercise.

BLITZER: On that specific point, Dana Bash, we've seen how Trump allies have actually spun all sorts of conspiracy theories out there. Are they likely to do the same thing with this video regardless of whether it's ultimately released?

BASH: Sure. They're already doing it. Kaitlan just talked about all of the text messages all of us have gotten. We're certainly not donors but we as reporters what want to know what they're asking for when it comes to money. And it's been a boon. And just is such an indicator, an illustration of how it's upside-down world when it comes to politics, the politics that we have been used to covering for our whole careers, and Donald Trump just yet another indicator.

Can you imagine another president, candidate, any public figure saying, oh, I'm going release the surveillance video of the feds coming into my house? No. But he takes everything and he turns it into a political jujitsu moment, and this is no different whether he releases it or not.

BLITZER: Yes, we shall see soon enough. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, FBI personnel already facing imminent and unprecedented threats. Will unsealing the Mar-a-Lago search affidavit put them in even greater danger? Stand by.



BLITZER: More now on the possible unsealing of the affidavit behind the search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. Tonight, there is concern it could potentially fuel the already unprecedented threats against federal law enforcement.

CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The possible unsealing of the probable cause affidavit for the FBI's search of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home raising concerns tonight about what it could mean for the safety of FBI agents. A Justice Department lawyer telling the judge today, if the affidavit is unsealed, the department would want to redact background information on the agents involved in the search.

ERIC O'NEILL, FORMER FBI COUNTERINTELLIGENCE OPERATIVE: If I were an FBI agent right now, I would be concerned. TODD: if that affidavit is released, even if it's heavily redacted, could it put agents in further danger? Former FBI Counterintelligence Operative Eric O'Neill says it depends entirely on what the released information says about the search's objective.

O'NEILL: If the basis for raiding Mar-a-Lago was just to find documents, then I think there is going to be a lot of trouble in the nation. If the affidavit is unsealed with redactions that protect witnesses, and it shows that there is something really critical that mandated or merited the FBI raiding Mar-a-Lago, I think that people are going to give the FBI a break.

TODD: The Justice Department also warned that targets could be tipped off and witnesses could be spooked.

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: People are out there looking for who these witnesses are and who is possibly in danger of being approached if this should come out, if the affidavit is released.

TODD: The possibility that the former president could release surveillance video of the search is also worrisome to current and former agents, like CNN's Josh Campbell.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: If the faces of these agents actually makes it into the public domain, that could put those agents at risk. Because we know after the search at Mar-a-Lago, those two agents that signed court records that were the then released, they have faced unprecedented threats to their personal security.

TODD: But the threats already made since Mar-a-Lago have been ominous and are putting FBI agents on edge tonight. A Pennsylvania man arrested for allegedly making threats on social media, saying FBI personnel deserve to die. My only goal is to kill more of them before I drop. That's according to court documents.

In another incident, a social media account bearing the name of Ricky Shiffer, the suspect who law enforcement says tried to breach the FBI's Cincinnati field office before being killed in a roadside shootout said on the night of the Mar-a-Lago search that the search was a, quote, call to arms.

JOHN SCOTT-RAILTON, SENIOR RESEARCHER, CITIZEN LAB, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: The rhetoric, this kind of violent rhetoric, there is a war, there's a civil war, the FBI is the enemy of the people, this stuff activates lone wolves.


TODD (on camera): And we're hearing several FBI agents are taking more precautions. Our Josh Campbell, a former FBI supervisory special agent, says he is hearing that several FBI agents are carrying more firepower and ammunition with them during routine field operations, and doing things like circling their offices, scanning for potential threats before pulling into the parking lots. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very disturbing information, indeed. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

Let's discuss with CNN's Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, the former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe. Andrew, thanks for joining us.

I want to begin with the judge's decision to release some of the affidavit for the Mar-a-Lago search. In your view, what are the security implications of some of the document actually being made public?


ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Wolf, I don't think the substance of whatever is made public will have -- will change what we really understand about this search warrant materially. So, whatever information comes, most of it will be redacted. And that information that comes out will largely be things that we know already, about meetings that took place and locations and things of that nature.

The problem is that the former president's goal here is to use whatever happens, whatever comes out, however many redactions, as another opportunity to generate outrage and grievance among his supporters. Those are the exact same factors that drive the threat picture currently focused on FBI agents. It is that same outrage and grievance that will compel the most extreme members of that Trump- supporting community to consider taking acts of violence into their own hands. So, the former president's pursuit of political advantage is generating a risk for on board FBI agents as they do their work every day.

BLITZER: Well, let me just follow up. Are you concerned that the release of even parts of the affidavit, even if they are heavily redacted, could put both witnesses and FBI agents at serious risk?

MCCABE: I am very concerned about that. Whatever comes out, I'm confident that the former president, in his mastery of creating false narratives and manipulating information to his own advantage, will be able to take whatever comes and turn it into a point of outrage and grievance, and that's really where the threat comes from.

BLITZER: What about if the former president and his team decide to release the surveillance video?

MCCABE: Same issue, exact same issue here. Now, they can certainly do that. That's their property. The former president is free to do whatever he wants with it. But it becomes a flashpoint to really focus and generate people's anger about the FBI involvement in what is what we all know to be an absolutely lawful law enforcement operation.

But the video carries the extra problem of that it might facilitate the identification of individual agents that were on that operation, and that will really focus the threat on those people in a dangerous and unfair way.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Andrew McCabe, thank you very, very much. Just ahead, over 20 dead and dozens injured after an explosion erupted inside a mosque in Afghanistan's capital.

CNN's Clarissa Ward is standing by live in Kabul.



BLITZER: We're following the investigation into the deadly explosion at a Kabul, Afghanistan mosque, the death toll climbing in the attack, coming one year after the Taliban takeover of the country.

CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is in the Afghan capital for us tonight. Clarissa, what's the latest?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, just one day after this horrific attack, that death toll has now risen to 21 people killed, 33 injured. Among those injured, at least nine of them were children. This is according to the chief of police here in Kabul. We have heard a statement that was released by the spokesperson for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, who essentially said that the perpetrators will be caught and they will be punished.

But this really presents a significant challenge for the Taliban that is grappling to assert its authority, to show that it can provide security while dealing with an increasingly violent insurgency in the form of ISIS-K, although, in this case, we don't yet know who exactly is responsible. No one yet has claimed responsibility, Wolf.

BLITZER: And, Clarissa, I know you had a chance to visit a rural part of Afghanistan. What are the Afghans there saying a year after the U.S. withdrawal?

WARD: So, we traveled to a place called the Tangi Valley. And it really is striking how people there have a very different perspective on the U.S. withdrawal. They are delighted, frankly, to see the back of U.S. forces. They associated American soldiers with night raids, with drone strikes, with continued fighting. This is one of the hardest hit areas, a frontline area that had seen so much damage and so much death over the last couple of decades.

We spoke to one man who lost two of his sons and his niece and his great niece in a night raid. One of his sons, I should say, was a Taliban commander, but the night raid to kill or neutralize that Taliban commander also claimed the lives of a second son, of his niece and also his great niece.

Take a listen to what he had to say.


WARD: What was your reaction when what was your reaction when American forces left a year ago?

I said that peace has come to Afghanistan, he says. There will be no more mothers becoming widows, like our mothers and sisters who were widowed and our children killed.


WARD: And what's so striking about this, Wolf, is that the Tangi Valley is less than 50 miles from here in Kabul. It's a two-hour drive. And yet the perspective that you get and the voices that you hear and the feelings that people have about the Taliban takeover are so radically different for most of those opinions and feelings that we've heard here in the capital, Wolf.

BLITZER: Clarissa Ward, stay safe over there. Thank you very, very much.


Coming up, first on CNN, the White House ramps up its monkeypox vaccine rollout after its lagging response to the crisis. We will discuss the detail with Dr. Anthony Fauci. That's next.


BLITZER: Tonight, the Biden administration stepping up its response to the spreading outbreak of monkeypox, a story we reported first right here on CNN.

We are joined now by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president's chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Fauci, thanks for joining us.

The new initiatives include an additional 1.8 million doses of the monkeypox vaccine and a program that will make vaccines available at large events attracting LGBTQ communities.


Why is this only happening now, Dr. Fauci? Was it a mistake not to roll out these initiatives before Pride Month events, for example?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Wolf, obviously, you can go back and say, I should have been done earlier, but if you look for it now about where we are, it is true that early on, when the strategy went from a post- exposure prophylaxis, which means giving a vaccine around the people, who have been definitely exposed to somebody with a documented case. When that shifted to what is called pre-exposure prophylaxis, namely vaccinated people who are just at risk and may not have it documented exposure to someone, the increased dramatically the demand for vaccines, which took a little bit to catch up.

But now, with the initiatives that you just mentioned, in addition to the fact that we can now use the vaccine with a different round of administration, namely internally, as opposed to subcutaneously, then we have five times as many doses because one 5th of a dose in the interment in the skin is equivalent to get immune response quite comparable to a full dose subcutaneously.

So, the situation is rapidly changing now, and we anticipate that with the gay pride events, southern decadence and gay pride and some other southern states and other states, that we will now by prepositioning a considerable number of doses of vaccine, we will be able to handle it and get our arms around this, so that we don't see further spread.

BLITZER: Who should be getting a monkeypox vaccine right now, Dr. Fauci?

FAUCI: Well, I believe in my colleagues, my colleagues believe that anyone who is risk behavior, in the sense of an individual who might be having multiple sexual partners, sometimes I'm not as people that you hookup would, that you don't know what their history is of illness, those are the people who clearly should be getting vaccinated. In addition, for example, if a person lifestyle is indicating that they should get pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, those people absolutely should be getting vaccinated.

As well as people who are HIV infected, who are on antiviral drugs, whose viral load is below detectable level, and they don't have the risk of transmitting HIV to someone. But if they don't have the protection that you need, or they are not prudent and making sure that they are careful with the sexual partners, they are at risk of getting infected.

There is an awful lot of people who on the basis of lifestyle should be getting vaccinated, as opposed to waiting until you have definite exposure to somebody with that. When you do that, Wolf, we likely will dramatically diminish the trajectory of the cases that we are not seeing in the United States.

BLITZER: A related question, there's going to be these updated coronavirus booster shots that will be made available in the next few weeks by early to mid September, we are told. Who should be getting these new and updated booster doses?

FAUCI: Well, certainly, anyone who has not gotten a booster in the calendar year of 2022 should definitely get a booster. If you are a healthy person, and you have no underlying conditions, you might want to wait until we get to mid September when those boosters become available, because they are much better matched to the circulating virus, the variant that is going on now, but 89 percent, Wolf, of all the viruses that are circulating BA.5. This particular booster variant is what is called a bivalent and that is actually specifically directed against that circulating variant.

BLITZER: Dr. Fauci, thanks as usual for joining us.

We will have more news right after this.



BLITZER: The man charged with stabbing author Salman Rushdie is pleading not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted murder and assault.

CNN crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz is joining us. He's got the latest developments.

Shimon, the suspect we understand is being held without bail tonight.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. His attorney was going to make arguments for bail, but the judge has denied bail and is in keeping him behind bars, as he will now await trial. You have seen him this afternoon appearing in court.

This was the announcement of the indictment. Prosecutors announced the charges that he was indicted, and now, it will be set for trial. You know, Wolf, still, the big question here is what motivated this attack? Rushdie has had this threat over his head for decades, some 30 years.

But investigators, including folks from the FBI are still trying to sort out exactly what participated this attack. Was he directed by someone? Was his something that he just studied on his own and decided to do?

There are still so many questions here, wolf, for investigators as they continue to try to figure out what motivated the attack. We know there was some planning, according to investigators, that one into the suspect here, Hadi Matar had planned this. He took a bow to the area and then took a ride share.

So, it involved some planning. So, that's certainly something that investigators are looking at, but they want to know more. They want to know what was behind this and is there something, either someone directed him, or what was the ultimate motivation, Wolf?

BLITZER: We will stay on top of the story. 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.