Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

One Dead, 99 Unaccounted for in Florida Condo Collapse; Bipartisan Deal Faces Hurdles from Both Sides of the Aisle; Biden to Meet with Afghan President in Washington Today; Kamala Harris to Make First Trip to U.S.-Mexico Border as Vice President; Former Officer Derek Chauvin to be Sentenced Today; Giuliani Blocked from Practicing Law in New York; Excessive Heat Watch in Northwestern U.S. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired June 25, 2021 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:00:00]

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Tested and vaccinated more than 75,000 people. See how she does it and get her full story. Nominate someone as well that you know to be a CNN hero at CNNheroes.com. Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Crews are working around the clock in Florida desperately searching for survivors of the condo building collapse.

It could be a big win for the president. The framework of a bipartisan infrastructure deal is in place. Why it could have trouble passing in Congress.

And the big lie proving to be a big problem for Rudy Giuliani as his misleading attempts about the presidential election cost him his law license in New York.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and around world. I'm Kim Brunhuber and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Fire and rescue teams in south Florida are working around the clock to find anyone who might be buried in the rubble of the Champlain Towers. One person is confirmed dead and at least 99 others are unaccounted after the 12 story building collapsed in the early hours of Thursday morning. No one knows exactly why. Surveillance video shows the moment it happened. The center part of the building fell first followed moments later by the tower on the right. Rescue crews are using listening devices, cameras and sniffer dogs to try to find any survivors. They've brought in heavy equipment to try to stabilize parts of the remaining structure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY PATRONIS, FLORIDA STATE FIRE MARSHALL: The men and women that are working right now, they can only work at about 15 minute shifts. The level of exhaustion is enormous. As soon as they come out they're carrying, you know, 80 pounds worth of gear. They're carrying, you know, protective equipment. They're carrying concrete saws. Everything has to be manually because of the shear threat of a building that is unstable looming over them as they are crawling and tunnelling under debris to save lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: Family members of those missing have gathered at a nearby community center waiting for word about their loved ones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PABLO RODRIGUEZ, MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER MISSING: You always hold out hope. You know, until we definitively know, we are trying to stay hopeful. After seeing the video of the collapse, it's increasingly difficult because they were in that section that was pancaked in. And the first section that fell in. And then the other building fell on top of it. So it is not easy to watch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: U.S. president Joe Biden has approved an emergency declaration freeing up federal resources to deal with the tragedy. CNN's Randi Kaye is in Surfside, Florida with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rescue teams say they do plan to search overnight, again tonight they are still at it hoping to find survivors. They were searching in the building's parking garage underneath the collapsed condo building. They also now have teams on top of that pile of rubble searching for any survivors. They are committed to it. They are not giving up hope. They don't want to have to tell loved ones that these family members did not survive. It's also very difficult for them. We had some heavy rains here. Also every time that building just shifts slightly, it has the potential to start small fires which we also saw earlier today.

So these are difficult conditions physically and also emotionally. But the rescuers are staying focused. The families also are very anxious but also staying focused. They want word of their loved ones. They have sort of set up a vigil, if you will, at a community center not far from here -- just a few blocks away. They are not going home as they wait for word. They have requested pillows and blankets because so many are still missing and they want to wait and know what the fate is of their loved ones. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: Joining me now on the phone is the mayor of Surfside, Florida, Charles Burkett. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us know. First of all, my sympathies to you and your community. I know you are not far away from the building itself. What's the latest?

CHARLES BURKETT, MAYOR, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: The latest is we have moved and relocated all the residents of that particular building that we were able to get out and we have focused our efforts exclusively on search and rescue. And we've been doing that now for hours and hours. We will continue to do that until we pull everybody we can out of the rubble.

BRUNHUBER: Unfortunately, I understand the rain isn't helping.

[04:05:00]

BURKETT: The rain is really a disaster. We've had a fire and we've had these rainstorms come through and it just -- it's heartbreaking because, you know, we've got people potentially waiting to be pulled out of the rubble and it just slows everything down.

BRUNHUBER: I mean, How are you balancing that need to have hope versus the realism that's of the enormous odds against the search and rescue efforts?

BURKETT: Well I don't know that we can sort of focus on that. I think that, you know, it starts with buildings like this don't fall down in America. It's a third world phenomenon. And there is something really, really wrong here. People have died. And it's not something that needed to happen. And we need to find out why it happened. That's not today. Today is the day that we're focused on rescuing the people that need to be rescued and we will continue that focus until all of them are rescued.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, I mean as you say, I mean, I've covered these types of building collapses usually after an earthquake in a developing country, as you say. The search can be long and painstaking, usually involving flying in experts from countries like the U.S. But you happen to have some of the top urban search and rescue experts right here in your city. Is that making a difference in terms of the speed that you are able to get to people?

BURKETT: At 2:00 in the morning when I arrived, I guess it was today, you know, the dogs came at 4:00 and we were told the building was potentially in imminent danger of collapsing. And those teams proceeded to go right into the building and grab some people that I think that we saw. We saw some lights up on the upper floors, and without any regard to their own safety, went up there and grabbed those people and brought them down. So I mean, we've got these guys working around the clock now and there's no guarantee that the rest of that building doesn't come down. And they just keep going. That is the one silver lining in this whole thing. We've got real heroes out here doing an amazing job.

BRUNHUBER: We wish you and the rescue crews and everybody in your community the best of luck as you try to navigate through this horrible tragedy. Mayor of Surfside, Charles Burkett, thank you so much for joining us.

BURKETT: You're very welcome, thank you.

BRUNHUBER: Greg Batista is a structural engineer who worked on the Champlain Towers for an unrelated issue two years ago, he says it's possible that spalling -- which is when interior steel bars rust -- could have contributed to the collapse. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG BATISTA STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: The concrete repair and the spalling problem does cause eventual collapses. I mean, I've been on buildings, I've been doing this for 30 years and I've done hundreds of 40 year certifications, been on hundreds or even thousands of inspections. And spalling can get to a point that if not repaired, it can lead to eventual collapse. And I've been to places where there've been collapses of floor, of beams, of columns. And obviously, not something, not nearly as much as we see here, but, yes, it could be either the main factor or one of the factors. Such as there may have been some -- as I've read in some articles that there was a study made that part of the building was maybe subsiding a little bit. So maybe that or a confluence of those different issues can easily cause this kind of collapse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: And stay with CNN, will keep you updated on any new developments throughout the day.

A major bipartisan infrastructure agreement is one step closer to reality. Listen to President Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a really good meeting, and to answer that question, we have a deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: The negotiated measure would cost more than $1 trillion and there are a lot of hoops to jump through before it becomes law. Now there's no guarantee that Republicans or progressive Democrats will even vote for it. Ryan Nobles explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is a deal. But even though there is a deal, there are still many obstacles that need to be overcome before any type of infrastructure package is signed into law. And that's because this deal, which was hatched by Republican and Democrat Senators, comes with a pretty big caveat. That caveat being that is not even going to even go to the floor of the House of representatives let alone make it to President Biden's desk unless it is joined by a much bigger package that's going to be done through the budget reconciliation process.

Now that's a process that allows Democrats to pass the bill with only 51 votes in the Senate as opposed to that bigger threshold of 60 votes, meaning that they can do it without Republican support.

[04:10:02]

And this is important because progressive Democrats in particular saying that the bipartisan deal is just not enough. And they are not going to sign on to that unless they get the bigger package as well. This is what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told me.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Folks can't have their cake and eat it too and nearly negotiate a bipartisan deal with a lot of Republican input and then lower our ambitions in the Democratic reconciliation package. You know, I think that's part of the push and pull here.

NOBLES: The timeline is going to be a big issue here. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer want to begin this process in July, but a lot of those involved in the negotiations believe that this is so complex and so much that has to be done that maybe it won't be until the fall before we actually see something implemented.

So that means over that time frame, there's a lot that could go wrong. Think of it like a tension rod. What's holding this proposal in place are these two competing sides willing to go forward at this point because they're both getting something out of the deal. If either one of them backs down, the whole thing could fall apart.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: President Biden will sit down with his Afghan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, at the White House later today. And topping the agenda, the continued withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan as the U.S. winds down its longest war after nearly two decades. But with forces moving out, the Taliban advance on Afghanistan is gaining ground. Let's bring in CNN's Nic Robertson live in London. Nic, we have several important and time sensitive issues to discuss here.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, one of those is the special immigrant visas for Afghans who've worked with the forces, along with their families -- that could number 70- to 80,000 people. President Biden has promised those who helped U.S. forces that they can have a home in the United States. The question is how to process all those people and get them out of the country. So he will offer reassurances there that they will be able to sort of go through part of that process while they were at a third country. Although the United States has not yet said what that third country that would be, or which country that their nation would be.

The other thing I think one could expect President Biden to tell both President Ashraf Ghani and one of the other leaders of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the former chief executive officer of the country, is to try to hold together the unity, the political unity of the country. You know, we often think about the military forces in Afghanistan, NATO, U.S. forces as being the sort of glue that held the country together, but there's also a political diplomatic glue that's held the political leaders together.

Elections in the country have been fraught, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah supporters for example, tend to be from the north of the country, believe that the election in 2014 was stolen by President Ashraf Ghani, fraudulent voting, all sorts of things. And that came to a real moment of tension. This is something that the Taliban are going to want to exploit. So expect President Biden to, you know, to offer a sense of unity, support to Afghans who've fought alongside the United States. But what he isn't expected do is to say that the United States is about to slow down or stop the drawdown of forces before September 11th, that the Afghan government really is under pressure now to negotiate with the Taliban a political solution.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you -- get your analysis as always, Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is hours away from heading to El Paso, Texas and tour facilities along the border with Mexico. She is tasked with trying to stem the flow of migration from Central America and has faced blowback for not touring the border area before now. Kaitlan Collins has more on the vice president's upcoming trip.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is going to be the first time that you're seeing Vice President Harris on the border since she got this immigration-related portfolio from President Biden earlier this year. Similar to one he held when he was vice president to then President Obama. And so she will be in El Paso. She'll be joined by the DHS Secretary Mayorkas while she's there.

And of course it's hard to ignore this is a trip that comes after she had faced many questions about why she had not been to the border yet. A lot of those were from Republicans though as well who are criticizing her, kind of to try to paint her as the face of any immigration problem under the Biden administration. Though her office has sought to make clear she is in charge of diplomatic efforts not necessarily those soaring border numbers that you saw earlier this year.

But it will still be something that hangs over this visit that is in the background of it. And the White House has defended the timing of this trip given just a few weeks ago. Harris was pushing back on questions about when she was going to go. Saying she also had not yet been to Europe either. And instead Jen Psaki, the press secretary was saying that they essentially evaluating this and they thought now was the time for her to go.

[04:15:00]

Of course, look at the timing here. This is also coming when former President Trump is expected to be at the border with the Texas Governor Gregg Abbott and in the coming days. Trump has tried to claim that the only reason Harris is going is because he is going, although the White House has said that's not true.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: The high profile sentencing just a few hours from now in a case that set off a movement for racial reckoning in the U.S. Former officer Derek Chauvin convicted of murdering George Floyd is about to learn his fate in court.

Also ahead, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani is suspended from practicing law in New York state. We'll tell you why, coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRUNHUBER: New York police are looking for four people who vandalized a George Floyd statue early Thursday morning in Brooklyn. The vandals used black spray paint and wrote the name of a neo-Nazi group on the pedestal of the six foot statue. Police say they are investigating the incident as a heat crime. The vandalism happened one day before Derek Chauvin, the officer Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering Floyd, is scheduled to be sentenced.

[04:20:00]

Now Floyd's killing set off a movement for racial reckoning in the U.S. and it made the words "I can't breathe" a rallying cry for racial justice. The latest chapter in that story will play out in a courtroom in Minneapolis later today as the officer who killed him gets sentenced. Sara Sidner reports from Minneapolis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over) Less than 24 hours from now former police officer Derek Chauvin is expected to learn his punishment.

PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY JUDGE FOR DEREK CHAUVIN'S TRIAL: I find the defendant guilty, guilty, guilty.

SIDNER (voice-over): Two months after former officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts including second-degree unintentional murder in the death of George Floyd, Judge Peter Cahill who presided over the trial will now decide Chauvin sentence.

GEORGE FLOYD, DIED OF POLICE VIOLENCE: I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've waiting the -- if you don't get in the car.

FLOYD: Mama! Mama!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car.

FLOYD: Mama.

SIDNER (voice-over): The world watched as Chauvin slowly took Floyd's life kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes 29 seconds. That slow motion murder captured on a cell phone prompted protest worldwide. It also prompted Judge Cahill to find that there were several aggravating factors in the case including the slow death of George Floyd occurring over approximately six minutes of his positional asphyxia was particularly cruel. During which the defendant objectively remained indifferent to Mr. Floyd's pleas Cahill wrote. But on May 25th, Floyd's flee were heard loud and clear by eyewitnesses trying to save him.

DONALD WYNN WILLIAMS, WITNESS: The called the police on the police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And why did you do that?

WILLIAMS: Because I believed I witnessed a murder.

GENEVIEVE HANSEN, EYEWITNESS AND FIRST RESPONDER: Had they let me into the scene? I already had decided what his level of consciousness was so I would have requested additional help.

SIDNER (voice-over): Prosecutors are asking for a 30 year sentence. The defense is asking for probation, no prison time beyond time served. But because of sentencing guidelines and aggravating factors it will likely be something in between.

MARY MORIARTY, FORMER CHIEF PUBLIC DEFENDER, HENNEPIN COUNTY: The fact that the judge found aggravating factors simply means that he now has the authority to give a sentence greater than our sentencing guidelines.

SIDNER (voice-over): But before the judge makes his decision, Floyd's family will get a chance to tell the court the deep and painful impact George Floyd's murder has had on their lives. Something they had revealed to the public many times outside court.

BRIDGETT FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S SISTER: The officer took a great man, a great father, a great brother. A great uncle. He loved his family.

SIDNER: Well we are almost definitely here for members of the Floyd family who will be making those victim impact statements. We could potentially hear from the defendant Derek Chauvin. He has the right to speak in court. However his attorney, Eric Nelson, has filed a post- verdict motion for a brand-new trial. He has cited many different things including prosecutorial misconduct and juror misconduct. And so it isn't likely that we will hear from Chauvin. It is likely that there will be an appeal depending on what the sentence is.

Sara Sidner, CNN, in George Floyd Square, Minneapolis.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: In Washington, House Democrats say that they will try to get to the bottom of the Capitol insurrection. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she'll create a select committee to investigate what led to the riots of January 6, among other things. The panel could also look into the possible role of Donald Trump and some GOP lawmakers, but law enforcement is already investigating the insurrection. And a former FBI deputy director was asked the CNN what the new committee could find that others already haven't.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: It's not what we wanted. It is not ideal. But it is something, right? And knowing that the house Democrats will retain unilateral authority to issue subpoenas is a good sign. Because without subpoena authority, this goes absolutely nowhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: Officials now say more than 500 people have been arrested over their suspected roles in the riots.

Well he's one of the most recognizable faces in former President Donald Trump's inner circle, Rudy Giuliani. He is now paying a price for his loyalty to Trump and what that loyalty compelled him to say. A New York court has suspended his law license. The reason? Giuliani's repeated false claims about the 2020 election opposed a threat to the public interests. As CNN's Tom Foreman explains, it's a blow for the man once known as America's mayor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Truth isn't truth. The president of the United States says I didn't --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Truth isn't truth? Mr. Mayor, do you realize what you --

GIULIANI: No, no, don't do this to me.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long before a New York appellate court suspended his legal career, America's mayor was melting.

[04:25:00]

GIULIANI: And the reason I keep all these things together is precisely to avoid what the Democrats did.

FOREMAN (voice-over): From the outside of Donald Trump's tumultuous term, Rudy Giuliani was a prized player around the oval office.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rudy is a very straight shooter.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But others saw help differently.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is the political henchman for the president.

GIULIANI: You are just repeating spin.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How? But you won't, right? You're not spinning anything?

GIULIANI: I'm not spinning a damn thing.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The chief problem, Giuliani was neck deep in the Ukraine scandal, from the get-go. Despite evidence that he was part of Trump's effort to secure foreign help in the 2020 election. Giuliani insisted with no proof that Democrats were trying that trick. GIULIANI: In fact, I'm a legitimate whistleblower.

FOREMAN (voice-over): He seemed in lockstep with all the president's denials --

GIULIANI: He didn't do anything wrong. I mean, he didn't obstruct.

FORMAN (voice-over): -- all the time.

TRUMP: No collusion and no obstruction.

FOREMAN (VOICE-OVER): And if anyone doubted his closeness to the commander-in-chief --

GIULIANI: You can assume that I talk to him early and often.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Soon whenever accusations arose of any wrongdoing in Trump land, the president's lawyer started swinging.

GIULIANI: Shut up, shut up you don't know what you are talking about. You don't know what you're talking about, idiot.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And when Trump decided to dispute his clear and fair loss in the election, Giuliani was right there too.

GIULIANI: Dead people voted. Over 300,000 ballots were counted in secret.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Pressing the case at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia. Not the hotel, the landscaping firm. And anywhere else anyone would listen.

GIULIANI: We cannot allow these crooks because that is what they are, to steal an election from the American people.

FOREMAN: For a long time, a lot of Trump's critics have felt that Giuliani has been running dangerously wild with his claims and should be shut down. Now the court has granted their wish saying before the New York bar at least for now, the former mayor has been muzzled.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: That was Tom Foreman reporting.

And Giuliani says he's not very happy about having his New York law license suspended. On Thursday Giuliani told the conservative outlet Newsmax that the ruling was, quote, a Democrat decision by five judges who should be themselves investigated. There's no doubt if I was representing Hillary Clinton I'd be their hero. I represented my client so effectively that they're trying to get me to shut up.

This weekend is forecast to bring scorching hot weather to parts of the Northwestern U.S. The National Weather Service says areas of Oregon and Washington state will be under an excessive heat watch with temperatures possibly breaking records. And joining me now is meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek, the West heating up yet again. What can you tell us?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and Kim, you know, and it's not just kind of hot. We're making a big deal out of this because it needs to be marked in time. Get this, the potential exists for both Portland, Oregon and as well as Seattle, Washington to experience temperatures never recorded in the history of the city's record keeping. So that really puts it into context. Over 300 heat records possible through the next week or so across the Western U.S. Specifically the Pacific Northwest where the National Weather Service has hoisted these excessive heat warnings for over 13 million Americans at the moment and that includes much of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and into Northern California.

Look at this, the average temperature in Portland, 76 degrees. Some of our computer models -- now granted we still have some time to iron out the exact details -- we're talking about temperatures around 113 on Sunday, 107, by the way, is the maximum temperature -- highest maximum ever recorded within that particular city.

We're also flirting with record-breaking territory for Seattle. Look at those triple digit heats. And according to the Weather Prediction Center, this is not a short duration heat wave. This is forecast to extend right into the first parts of July. So if you're looking for a warm Fourth of July Independence weekend, well this is your weekend across the Pacific Northwest. The fingerprints of climate change written all over this. There is an inexorable link between climate change, extreme temperatures and long duration heatwaves like we're experiencing now.

On top of that, flash flood watch continues across the Midwest. Here is a look at the excessive rainfall outlook. It continues to impact portions of the Midwest and the Great Lakes right through this weekend. Kim, lots to talk about, lots to cover.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, thanks so much, appreciate it.

Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, not giving up hope. Family members wait for word about their loved ones still unaccounted for in that south Florida building collapse.

Plus, Canada's dark past is forced into the light as hundreds of unmarked graves are discovered at another former indigenous school. We'll have those tragic details just ahead.