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Engineer Raised Concerns Years Before Condo Building Collapse; Four Dead 159 Still Missing After Miami Building Collapses; Five Dead After Hot Air Balloon Hits Power Line In New Mexico; Interview With Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI); Officials Give Update On Building Collapse Search Efforts. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 26, 2021 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:09]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, we haven't located any victims.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The incredible difficulties with this fire.

It is extremely difficult to locate the source. It is hampering our search efforts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not -- and I am scared to death. I just want my mom back, and we are praying as much as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buildings in America do not fall down like this. There is a very serious problem here with this property.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From my professional experience, any collapse failure that I have seen is not just one factor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to CNN's special live coverage of the tragedy near Miami. I'm Wolf Blitzer near the scene of the 12-storey condo building collapse here in Surfside, Florida.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: And I'm Pamela Brown in Washington.

BLITZER: We have a lot of breaking news to cover this hour, Pamela. We will do it together. The structural engineering company that inspected the Champlain Towers in 2018 says they also gave estimates back in June of 2020 for the building's 40-year recertification.

Morabito Consultants only provides engineering consulting services, not repair, restoration contracting, the statement said and they also stated this, and I'm quoting, "We are deeply troubled by this building collapse and are working closely with the investigating authorities to understand why the structure failed. As we do so, we also continue to pray for all those impacted by this tragic event."

Tonight, Surfside officials are warning residents of a sister building, the Champlain Towers North and they are warning them to evacuate now. We have a full team on the ground here in Surfside watching all the developments as the desperate search for survivors continues.

So we have CNN's Randi Kaye who is following the multiple challenges facing rescue teams, our own Ryan Young is over at the family reunification center. It's only a couple blocks away. People can only watch and wait and pray where they are.

Randi, let's start with you. Update our viewers on the very latest.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they are still having a very active search scene here. Certainly, an active search and rescue mission still underway.

They have dealt with a lot of obstacles. They've had torrential rains, they've had thick smoke coming from fires that have started in that building, and they are dealing with yet another fire today, which is really hampering the search and rescue efforts.

They are -- we are told that the fire is actually spreading laterally, so it's very hard to isolate. They're using some foam to try and get at it. They're using water of course and they're using some infrared technology.

They've also used some heavy equipment to build a deep trench to try and isolate the fire where they can still go in safely and not be in jeopardy of getting near that fire and they can still continue that search for survivors because that, of course, is the priority.

But the numbers still tell the story, Wolf, it is still four dead, 159 people still unaccounted for. Families waiting for answers have so many questions. They are frustrated and they're especially frustrated now with news of this 2018 report that's come out, a structural field survey report, which cited real problems in that building that collapsed long before it collapsed, structural damage.

Some of the things they cite include sizeable cracks in the concrete slab below the pool deck, crumbling in the parking garage, abundant cracking in the parking garage in the beams and the walls, as well as the previous garage concrete repairs they cited as failing.

So, all of those spell out big problems, but I will tell you in that report, there is nothing that indicates that this building was at risk for immediate collapse or facing imminent collapse.

The Mayor of Surfside said that he doesn't know how that was all dealt with. What if anything the building did about those cracks that this company had found, this engineering company.

Meanwhile, families as I said, still have so many questions. We spoke with a rabbi just up the road here, his synagogue is just up the road from that collapsed building, Rabbi Zalman Lipskar, he told me he believes at least 20 people from his synagogue are missing. They range in age from 20 to 60 years old, including one woman who is associated with the synagogue who has seven family members missing after they came into town for a funeral and stayed at that building. He is also missing the parents of his childhood friend, and he told me

how that man has had to explain to his own young son that his grandparents were missing. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RABBI ZALMAN LIPSKAR, SHAL OF BAL HARBOUR: So, one of my childhood friends, he told his son last night, so I was at his house at 1:45 in the morning and he says, what am I telling my son? You see, he wants to know how we can go to sleep when, our Zaydeh, our grandfather and Bubbee, grandmother are laying in the rubble and dirt. How do we go to sleep?

Why are we not there? Why are we not pulling off the cement blocks and bricks? So, what is -- so it's -- there's no words to just -- just give him a hug. A hug and a kiss and say, we're here as a family together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAYE: And Wolf, as you know, this is a very tight-knit community. People want answers. They want to help. People have been offering to go into that rubble pile and try and work it on their own to try and get these families some answers because they don't think those answers are coming fast enough -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So dangerous there, you need to really know what you're doing. It would be way too dangerous simply to go there.

All right, Randi, standby, I'm going to get back to you. I want to bring in CNN's Ryan Young.

Ryan, the excruciating vigil for family members and friends continues right now. You're over there, not far from where I am at what's called the family reunification center. It had to move to a larger location, as more and more people are gathering to wait for news about their loved ones. So, what's the latest? What are you hearing?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you can understand, as some of the heavy machinery moves by us, this has been very painful for the families, especially those who are waiting to hear some sort of news about their loved ones. What we've been told is there's a briefing going on with family members on the inside of this hotel as we speak.

It's just for family members and not the media. So, we're not exactly sure what these family members are being told. Now, we've been talking to family members for the last few hours or so and they have been begging and pleading whether or not they could go down there themselves to start moving some of this rubble because they want something.

They can't believe it's been so many hours since a person has been found. When you look at the large amount of people who are still missing, they understand how difficult this is for rescuers, but they believe if there was a loved one under there that they could get to, they want to help rescuers.

Now, we've been told for the people who are doing this rescue and search effort that they want to make sure they do it the right way. But earlier, there was a briefing, listen to this emotional sound from one of the mothers involved.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a mother. I don't know the best way to go about this. But it's impossible that in four days, nobody has emerged dead or alive. Please don't tell me about the two people, I know about it. It's not enough.

Imagine if your children were in there. You're going to leave here and you're going to take a nice picture. And I know you're doing everything you can, but it's not enough.

You gave us a promise and you're not fulfilling it and you can fulfill it.

Red tape is not important when my daughter is dying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: So, very tough, Wolf. Look, that's the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside that's behind me. As you can imagine, another woman stood up and say, look, these people are not our enemy. We all want the same thing.

We talked to other people here who are just heartbroken waiting for any sort of news, especially when it comes to their loved ones. This has been hard for them. And understandably, with that news briefing going on in the inside, not for us, for the families. They hope to get some sort of new information.

And of course, Wolf, if we learn more from those family members as they walk out, we'll pass it along to you. You can see that we're across the street from this location. They made sure that the media is on this side of the road so people are not bothered. And sometimes they walk over to talk to us and that's how we're able to get some of the information on the inside, Wolf, at this point.

BLITZER: But when you get word on what these loved ones are being told by the authorities, you'll of course, let our viewers know. This is so, so heartbreaking indeed. Ryan, we're going to get back to you very, very soon.

Meanwhile, questions are mounting over how a 2018 field survey report that raised serious, very alarming concerns about the structural damage went unaddressed -- structural damage -- over at the building.

Part of the report reads as follows: "Abundant cracking and spalling of various degrees was observed in the concrete columns, beams and walls. Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion." Spalling is a term used to describe concrete that has cracked or crumbled. The firm behind this report just released a statement confirming these

details and added an estimate was provided to make the extensive and necessary repairs. Troy Morgan is a structural engineer. He is joining us now. Troy, thank you so much for joining us.

I guess, the bottom line question, this report was released and was made available to the building back in 2018. How come a report like this, Troy, go unanswered?

TROY MORGAN, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Yes, I don't know the details of why it wasn't answered or what surrounded it being commissioned the first place, but I will say that report did identify evidence of corrosion and deterioration.

[18:10:07]

MORGAN: I think, you know by itself, the conclusions didn't kind of scream out danger or imminent collapse, but it did indicate that repairs should have been made and in a lot of those repairs, by the way, the patching of spalled concrete, it'll prevent further, you know, chlorides, getting into the steel and kind of accelerating the corrosion that needs to be arrested.

BLITZER: Whose responsibility would it have been to address that? Clearly, these are serious issues.

MORGAN: Yes, I imagine that the building owners would have commissioned the evaluation and, you know, reading the details of those report, I would expect them to reach out to the engineers who produced the report, you know, talk about what the implications are, and how urgent those repairs would have been.

I mean, if they were cosmetic, or could have been done over the long term, you know, that would have been communicated. But if there was a sense of urgency, then that should have been made clear. And then action would have been -- kind of would have been taken as needed.

BLITZER: Given this new information, do you believe these cracks in the concrete are the ultimate driver behind the collapse? Or do you need to look at other factors as well?

MORGAN: Yes, there is a need to look at a lot of other factors. And what I would expect in a collapse like this, there's typically a trigger of some sort, either that trigger is some kind of an overload, whether it's an earthquake, hurricane, landslide, but there may be other triggers like deterioration of strength, if there is excessive corrosion and that concrete has become very weakened.

A combination of an unexpected extreme load with, say, weakened concrete from corrosion and deterioration, those two things together could have led to this kind of collapse, but I suspect there will be multiple potential causes to be to be evaluated and considered.

BLITZER: You know, hearing the details in this 2018 report that's just been released now, Troy, how concerned are you about the stability of the sister tower right nearby, built almost exactly at the same time by the same construction company. And it's -- a lot of authorities now are recommending that buildings should be completely evacuated out of an abundance of caution.

MORGAN: I'm sorry, can you repeat that?

BLITZER: How concerned are you about this sister tower that was built right around the same time by the same builders. And the recommendation now by some authorities, that out of an abundance of caution that sister tower should be evacuated?

MORGAN: Well, I mean, evacuation is a -- you know, it would be a major decision to be made, but I could see at least temporarily having an evacuation, so that an examination of building structure, looking at the same kind of details, the same type of spalling was present in these beams and columns and slabs. And if it is found, then, you know, I think appropriate measures need to be taken for sure.

But just given the proximity, I think it's very sensible to assume that, you know, other risks may be, you know, present in a building of the same vintage and in the same location, or very similar location.

BLITZER: I'm sure a lot of the people who live there simply are looking for another place to live, at least temporarily, right now. That is totally understandable.

Troy Morgan, thank you very, very much.

You know, Pamela, it's heartbreaking to see what's going on. I've been here now for a day and you see it, you can smell it, you can feel it. When you see it on television, it is heartbreaking to begin with. But when you're on the scene, as you well known, you've covered a lot of these stories, it is so, so awful. And my deepest fear is that within the next hours, next few days, it's going to get even worse.

BROWN: It's just awful. And it stays with you for a long time, Wolf. I remember when I was in Haiti after the devastating earthquake there, I mean, this is what it looked like, and the smell, everything stuck with me for so long, and it's just so hard to believe that this happened in America that this is what we are seeing where you are on the ground in Surfside, Florida.

And we are all just praying and thinking about those families as they await news about their loved ones.

Wolf, thank you so much. We will be back with you very shortly there in Miami, Florida, but still to come this hour, Dr. Howard Lieberman from Miami-Dade Urban Search and Rescue tells us about the team's walk-in through the rubble in Surfside.

And then, a hot air balloon ride ending in tragedy after it hit a power line.

Also tonight, I'll ask NASA Administrator Bill Nelson if he thinks the government's inconclusive report on UFOs will stoke more alien conspiracy theories.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:18:49]

BLITZER: Right now, a fire burning deep in the rubble of the collapsed building right behind me in Surfside, Florida and it is hindering the search for survivors with nearly 65 hours since that 12-storey condo tower crumbled.

The numbers actually have stayed the same, four people now confirmed dead, but 159 still unaccounted for.

Dr. Howard Lieberman is a trauma surgeon, a member of the Miami-Dade Rescue Team working the scene for us right now. Dr. Lieberman, thank you very much for joining us. So, what's the latest you're hearing? What kind of information can you share with our viewers?

DR. HOWARD LIEBERMAN, TRAUMA SURGEON: So basically, what I could tell you is, as you said, the search is still going. We're not stopping 24/7. We have different shifts.

Technically, our shift starts at midnight and we go to noon, then another team or a set of teams come in at noon, and go to midnight.

BLITZER: So, 12-hour shifts.

LIEBERMAN: Twelve-hour shifts.

BLITZER: By the way, we're just being told that there's going to be a briefing. The authorities are going to be doing an on-camera briefing this hour. We expect to ramp at the half hour, but it could be delayed a bit to give us more information on what's going on all the latest information and potentially as you well know, Dr. Lieberman, that could be significant.

LIEBERMAN: Yes. Yes, I mean, we are making progress and it may appear to be slow. But that's the nature of the game and that's what we have to deal with.

[18:20:08]

LIEBERMAN: We had a few concerns with the weather. So far today, the weather has been okay. The fire that you alluded to earlier is pretty much under control, it's not really hindering or hampering our efforts. And we have some good hours that we put in this morning and they'll continue.

BLITZER: The families, the loved ones, they want to know, is it realistic to even think that their moms and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, grandparents are still alive?

LIEBERMAN: Right. You know, like I say, you can never give up hope. You always have to be optimistic. I've seen literally miracles happen before.

It is a concern, as you know, hours become days. And you know, kind of going further from the event that happened, you know, back on Wednesday night or Thursday morning, but you know, we don't give up hope until it's over because it is not over.

BLITZER: How are you handling this? How are you dealing with it? You and your fellow trauma surgeons who are here getting ready to potentially God-willing save lives.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, so we have a very robust team. There's a lot of people here, and I think everyone's sort of deals with it a little bit in their own way. But we have each other to support. We have each other, you know, like, we're kind of a big family here.

One of the things you know, we have search and rescue dogs. And as crazy as it may sound, sometimes just, you know, seeing a dog for two, three minutes, kind of helps you emotionally. And we sort of -- we don't think about it as our job, we just do it, we keep doing it. And then when it's over, go ahead and reflect upon it.

And everyone I think deals with it a little bit in their own different way. But we deal with it.

BLITZER: Have you ever seen anything like this before here in the United States of America?

LIEBERMAN: No, other than obviously, you know, 9/11, which at that time, I was in Toronto, and obviously I saw it on TV, but I've never seen anything like this in person. I've been deployed to hurricanes, such as Hurricane Michael in the Panhandle. But it's completely different than what we're seeing here.

BLITZER: Building all of a sudden, you know, goes down like this with a lot of people sleeping at 1:30 in the morning.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, no one had time to prepare for it. No one knew what was happening, and it was over literally in the blink of eye.

So, it's just -- you know, it's a tragedy. And we're doing everything we can to, you know, find people and provide some relief to people who are waiting for their loved ones. And we're just -- like I said, we're not going to stop working. We'll just keep going and going and going.

BLITZER: We're grateful to you, Dr. Lieberman. You're at Jackson Memorial Hospital as well.

LIEBERMAN: Right, a trauma center.

BLITZER: Yes. We're grateful to you and your colleagues for what you're doing. Thank you very much.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you so much.

BLITZER: Hopefully, you'll find an opportunity to save some lives from this rubble.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. Once again, we're waiting for a news conference from officials here in Surfside, Florida. We've just been told they will be briefing. The news media will have live coverage of that once it happens, and we'll get some more information for sure.

Also, tonight, investigators are piecing together how a scenic balloon ride turned into tragedy, much more coming up. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:27:19]

BROWN: Welcome back. We are waiting for updates on the ground there in Surfside, Florida. We are expecting a press conference there any minute now for any updates on the latest there after a building collapsed on the ground.

And then tonight, also another sad story. A scenic hot air balloon ride in New Mexico ending in tragedy after it hit a power line. Five people died.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is following the story. He joins us now. What are you hearing, Evan?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, as you mentioned, when you imagine what could go wrong on a hot air balloon ride, this is one of the worst case scenarios.

Around seven o'clock this morning in Albuquerque, a balloon set off with five people in it. It struck a power line. That power line severed the gondola, it is the part where the people are in from the envelope. That's the balloon.

The gondola came crashing down into an intersection and the envelope floated on for a while before landing in someone's backyard.

When police arrived on the scene, they found four dead in that gondola including the pilot of that balloon and one man in very, very dire condition. He went to the hospital and unfortunately, he passed away from his injuries.

It's a terrible story and one that hits especially hard in New Mexico, which is a kind of balloonist haven. It is the home of one of the largest balloon gatherings every year, and Mayor Tim Keller of Albuquerque said earlier today, just how hard this is hitting that community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR TIM KELLER, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO: For all of us in New Mexico, you know, we think about ballooning and what it means to us. I do know that this is a tragedy that is uniquely felt and uniquely hits hard at home here in Albuquerque and in the ballooning community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: The thing is there are some larger questions beyond New Mexico, however, the N.T.S.B. and the F.A.A. are now investigating this crash. And the N.T.S.B. has been talking about balloons and balloon safety for years now.

They have tracked 12 fatal crashes across the country in hot air balloons since 2008, and since at least 2016, they have been urging the government to add more regulations. Now, we don't know the details of this crash yet, that is still under investigation, but we do know that those questions about balloons have been with us for a while now. And this is another moment where maybe we should be thinking about them -- Pam.

BROWN: All right, Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much.

Wolf, back to you in Florida.

BLITZER: All right, Pamela, at any moment now, we're going to get an update from authorities here in Surfside, Florida. They're about to hold a news conference to give us the latest information. All of this, as the ongoing search and rescue efforts here in South Florida are growing more urgent by the hour.

A fire burns inside the rubble of the collapsed condo building. The numbers tonight remain the same. Four people are confirmed dead, at least 159 people are still unaccounted for.

[18:30:05]

Vigils are being held for the victims. But three days into this disaster, hope is turning to anger as people wait, and wait, and wait for any information at all about their missing loved ones.

Today we learned, for example, that an engineer back in 2018 warned of major structural damage in parts of the building. Concerns are now being raised about the condo's sister building right down the street, Surfside's mayor is recommending that those residents evacuated out of an abundance of caution.

Let's discuss with David Paulison, he's joining us now. He has unique perspective on the challenges facing these heroic rescue crews who are working behind this. A former FEMA Director, was Fire Chief for Miami- Dade County as well.

So what do you think on this day three of this disaster the question on so many minds, how likely is it that crews will find survivors?

DAVID PAULISON, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR: I know the families are frustrated, Wolf, But the crews are doing the right thing. They are under the assumption that there are people that could survive this and they're taking that precaution and moving slowly because of that.

As the days goes on, it gets less and less, but don't forget, we found children and in Haiti 10 days later and baby that survived. So it is survivable and that's what the crews going to do. They are motivated. They're dedicated. I talked to Dave Downey earlier, you had him on at four o'clock and he said their crews are taking all precaution to make sure they're safe, but they're moving ahead and going out with the assumption that there are people in there that could have survived. BLITZER: The site as you know, David, is incredibly unstable. Part of

the building is still standing, but how great of a risk is there? How great of a risk does that pose to these heroic rescue teams that go in there, they risk their lives to find survivors?

PAULISON: Wolf, it's terribly risky what they're doing and they're doing it knowing that. The fact that they were underneath the rubble pile in a parking garage trying to find some voids in there somewhere. Now they're on top. They're trenching through the rubble pile to get down on there where they can find the voids and they understand that.

But we have structural engineers on the scene. They're monitoring every movement. They're monitoring every squeak that they hear to make sure that this thing doesn't come down. Don't forget the rubble pile is right up against the rest of the building that's still standing. And as they move that stuff out of the way, they're going to have to be very cautious that the whole structure doesn't come down.

BLITZER: Is there a point, David, when this operation goes from being a search and rescue operation to becoming a recovery, a recovery operation. Meaning that they don't think anyone is still alive.

PAULISON: I think that's going to be the call of the crews on the scene. Right now they're not even talking about doing that. They're talking about continuing to search and that's why they're moving so methodically.

And again, I know it's frustrating for the family, they want this over with, but they're doing the right things for the families. They're taking the time to make sure that they don't cause an injury if someone is still alive in there.

BLITZER: We now know of this very disturbing 2018 report these engineers put together that flagged what they described as major problems with this tower's structure. The tower that went down. Why weren't those issues addressed immediately given the fact that what so many people actually lived in that building.

PAULISON: Wolf, I can't answer that. That's up to the Board of the condo association and who made that call not to fix those things right away. This report that I haven't seen other than what I've heard was definitely the piece of the puzzle once the engineers get into determine why this building failed. They should not have failed.

BLITZER: All right. I want you to stand by, David, because once again there's going to be a news conference. Authorities are gathering right now. We expect to get new information on what's going on. We'll take a quick break. Resume our special coverage. We're alive here in Florida. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:38:29]

BROWN: We are still waiting for the press conference there on the ground in Surfside, Florida. Right now you are seeing the search and rescue teams in that collapsed building looking for survivors. We will be hearing an update from officials there on the ground shortly.

But in the meantime, we have other news we want to get to, Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will set up a new House select committee to investigate the Capitol insurrection. And this move comes as Republicans continue to downplay the riot, blocking an independent investigation, spreading conspiracy theories. One of them even described the scene on January 6th as being like a tourist visit.

Yesterday, D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone who was beaten by rioters abruptly left a meeting with House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OFC. MICHAEL FLYNN, WASHINGTON, D.C. POLICE, BEATEN BY RIOTERS: I asked him specifically for a commitment to denounce that publicly. And he said that he would address it at a personal level, with some of those members. But again I think that as the leader of the House Republican Party, it's important to hear those denouncements publicly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: And joining me now is Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan. He recorded this video we're showing you right here of officers with guns drawn inside the House Chamber as rioters were trying to break in. He says he has suffered symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder since then.

[18:40:02]

Congressman Kildee, thank you so much for joining us.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Thank you very much for having me.

BROWN: First off, I want to get your reaction to this meeting in which Leader McCarthy apparently refused to publicly disavow or denounce some of these crazy conspiracy theories that members of the Republican Party are spewing?

KILDEE: Well, it's really disappointing. And what I have to assume, based on what I've seen, and other things that Republican members have said to me is that these members of Congress, these Republicans have decided they're going to go with it. They're going to benefit from that 30 percent or whatever the number is that somehow believes that Donald Trump had this election taken from him, some of whom believe he's going to be reinstated in August. This weird theory that they have.

But what Kevin McCarthy seems to be doing is warming himself from the fire that these people set. He may not be responsible for the insurrection, but that hot fire that's burning, he's taking some comfort from it. He's trying to use the political momentum that it provides and still provide some distance by not claiming those theories to be his own, it's really a cynical effort to maximize the political benefit of something that was a truly tragic day when Democrats and Republicans were under attack by a mob. BROWN: So then by him staying silent, do you think that he is in a way

complicit and the damage that all of these conspiracy theories in the wake of the insurrection are doing to democracy?

KILDEE: Absolutely. In fact, I hold the Republicans in the House who have been mostly silent, mostly responsible for this. Because, look, we've got the crazy conspiracy theorists in the House. We know who they are. They're nuts and they're just railing all the time about this stuff.

But then there is a big group of Republican members who are just quiet. They never challenge anyone who raises these ideas. They know they're false, but they want to benefit from that energy. The only real energy within the Republican Party right now is around this crazy conspiracy, this nutty stuff. They want to benefit from it.

So I hold people like Kevin McCarthy and others, who are mostly quiet, were trying to benefit from the conspiracy theorists without having to take responsibility for their nutty ideas. And I think that, unfortunately, is the calculation that they seem to be making and it's very damaging to the converse, the political conversation in this country.

BROWN: And speaking of conspiracy theories, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told CNN's Jim Acosta that she wants a spot on Pelosi's committee investigating the insurrection. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: Would you like to serve on the Committee? Would you like to be on the Committee?

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Sure. She should put me on the Committee, that would be great.

ACOSTA: And you would show up and ask questions?

GREENE: Absolutely. Of course, I would. I've worked hard all my life and I would work hard there as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: What is your reaction to that?

KILDEE: I don't think we need people who believe that Jewish laser beams caused the fires in California to sit on a serious committee to examine the events of January 6th. We'd turn it into a complete sideshow to have one of these really clownish figures who are, in many ways, leading the Republican Party in the House, front and center, in what is expected to be a really serious deep dive to find the facts. She has no interest in facts. She has her own theories. She's already drawn her own conclusions and they're crazy.

BROWN: I'm wondering. You said earlier in the conversation, if I heard you correctly, that you had talked to Republicans and they're just banking on this being good for them. What do you say to them? When you're having those private conversations, those Republicans who know all of this is just - it's wrong, it's bad for the country, but they're staying silent, what do you say to them?

KILDEE: Well, it's frustrating. It's really difficult, because I tell them that I'm disappointed. I can't look at them the same way that I used to and that's the thing that's most painful. These are people that I have differences with, disagreements over policy.

But for whom until this, I had some respect for and it's really difficult to hold them in any level of respect when they are participating in a lie by not denouncing it, by pretending it's true or at least allowing others to think it's true. They have a responsibility to speak truth and they're not doing it and it's very tough to look at them in the same way that I used to.

BROWN: Earlier this year, you said that you were dealing with PTSD after the January 6th insurrection. Can you tell us about how you're doing now?

KILDEE: Yes. I mean, I'm coming along. I'm doing better.

[18:45:00]

I think all of us are still dealing with our reaction to January 6th in our own way. I've been open about it. I sought treatment for PTSD. That treatment is very helpful and it's working and I encourage anyone, any staff member, any member of the Capitol or Metropolitan Police, any other member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, if you're struggling with this, get some help. And that goes for anybody, anybody who's dealt with any form of trauma. It makes a difference if you get treatment.

And so I hope to hold myself out as an example of somebody who went through a bad experience, had a reaction to it, got treatment and it helped, and I feel so much better.

BROWN: It's so important to get that message out from people who are leaders in this country like yourself to reduce the stigma around mental health and just let everyone know it's okay to get that help. Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you so much for coming on. We hope we'll have you on again soon.

KILDEE: Absolutely. Thank you.

BROWN: And coming up, we are waiting for a news conference in South Florida. When it starts, we're going to bring it to you live. But when we come back, NASA administrator and former Florida Senator Bill Nelson joins us to explain how NASA technology is helping in the search for heartbeats and breathing under the debris.

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[18:50:46]

BLITZER: Hundred and fifty-nine people still unaccounted for in the collapse of the Champlain Tower in Surfside, Florida where I am right now and the Mayor of Surfside, Florida Charles Burkett is joining us right now. We're standing by, Mayor, as you know for this briefing. Authority is going to be briefing us on the latest developments.

But I understand, you're getting some possible information on what authorities might be doing with some of the family members, the loved ones who have gathered and who are so, so worried about their families?

MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: Absolutely. Well, listen, as far as I'm concerned, that's our only concern in supporting the families. And I don't know what you're talking about with respect to the family, but they've been relocated, they've been put up.

And when I went to speak to them the other day and ask them what they needed, they told me they needed politicians not to come and talk. They wanted to hear from the fire experts and the search and rescue people.

I went to the Dade County Mayor and I asked her if she would provide the Fire Chief, which he did in 15 minutes. The Fire Chief came over and spoke to all the residents and answered all their questions and then further committed to go ahead and talk to them every four hours thereafter.

BLITZER: There was some speculation that I had heard that maybe they were going to allow some of those family members who wanted too to go over and see the destruction.

BURKETT: I would support that.

BLITZER: Do you think that's a good idea?

BURKETT: Well, I would support that. Listen, they're suffering unimaginable sort of distress right now and I think that they want to be close and obviously they can't stay there while the work is being done. But personally, I think that they can safely be escorted there briefly to see the site and then go back.

BLITZER: Yes.

BURKETT: But that's above my pay ...

BLITZER: That's up to the family. It's families too.

BURKETT: ... it's up to the family and it's certainly up to the Fire Chief and everybody else there as far as safety goes.

BLITZER: Do believe we're going to get some new information at this briefing that's about to begin?

BURKETT: I believe you get updated information because we know ...

BLITZER: I mean, new numbers maybe.

BURKETT: Well, I think the numbers are tough, because we don't know how many people were in the building, that's the honest answer. The fact of the matter is, is we're compiling that list because we have family members calling and asking about their family, which tells us that there was that person in the building.

We never had any knowledge of who was in the building at the collapse. So we've had to build that information. There are no logs of owners coming and going.

BLITZER: How concerned are you, Mayor, you're the Mayor of this beautiful town. It's a great place. I've been here so many times over the years, family who live just down the street from here. How concerned are you about this 2018 engineering report that raised serious questions about the structure of this 12-storey condo that collapsed?

BURKETT: Buildings in America did not fall down. The only time we saw buildings fall down was in 2001 and this was eerily like that, because we had two pieces of the building fall down separately right on top of each other and then we had a fire that we've been fighting for days.

Something was very wrong with that building very, very wrong and we're going to get to it. But we're not going to get to it today, we're not going to get to it tomorrow or the next day because we're only focused on bringing people out alive and getting them back to their family. That's the entire goal right now.

BLITZER: The sister, this exact same building down the street, built by the same builders around exactly at the same time ...

BURKETT: Potentially with the same material.

BLITZER: Right.

BURKETT: Potentially with the same plans, which is the exact issue that I raised the other day because when I came home and I had a call from residents who live there saying they were afraid and they explained to me it was the same building, that triggered my intention to call Sen. Scott and Mayor Cava and ask them what they thought about my idea to deal with the people in there because they didn't want to stay there. They were afraid.

So what we did along those lines is we sent our building official in there today, along with engineer who did a cursory inspection and has told me that he did not see anything that jumped out at him as problematic. I'm paraphrasing.

But that the condominium association has retained engineers both of them, I believe. I know for sure that the Champlain North but probably both to come in next week and do a much more thorough investigation. OK. Having said that, there are people that are just frightened right now and they don't want to stay in that building.

[18:55:03]

So Gov. DeSantis, FEMA, they've said that arrangements will be made for those particular people who are fearful to have alternative housing, which I think is just fantastic. BLITZER: Do you think the entire building should be evacuated out of

an abundance precaution?

BURKETT: No. Listen, I think that the chances are low that the lightning could strike twice in two days or three days. If it were me, I don't think I'd be comfortable staying there knowing what I know. But there may be people that don't have a problem with it.

Now, as a political person, I'm not really big on mandatory sort of directives. But giving people the choice to do that is kind of where I'm at.

BLITZER: And finally, I got to run because we were waiting for this news conference.

BURKETT: Understood.

BLITZER: Tell our viewers if they don't know, what is that?

BURKETT: This is (inaudible) breathing in all the smoke. We had a bad day yesterday with smoke. And all day long, all of us, probably you, I don't know if you will (inaudible) ...

BLITZER: You can still smell it.

BURKETT: Yes. But it was a cloud and I mean we were in it all day, but that was it, we had no choice. We did what we had to do and we stayed here and we went on. And first thing in the morning, I went to the captain and I asked him if he would let me have one of these and he was kind enough to give it to me.

BLITZER: Mayor Burkett, thank you so much for what you're doing.

BURKETT: My pleasure.

BLITZER: I will stay, obviously, in close touch. You got a great time up here.

BURKETT: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you very much.

Pamela, it's a heartbreaking story as you and I well know.

BROWN: It certainly is. And Wolf, I want to bring in the former Florida Senator Bill Nelson. Senator, you are a fifth generation Floridian. I just like to get your reaction what is happening in Surfside right now.

FORMER SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL): Well, I have a friend that was not in her apartment and she is safe. And I have another friend that is thought to have been in her apartment on the east side when it collapsed. And so this is a tragedy of immense proportions.

I want to tell you about since I now head up NASA, there is NASA technology now on site. It's a suitcase size. It is technology that is built on radar that we sent earth absorbing as well as planets and detects heartbeats and breathing. And it was used successfully in Nepal after the earthquake and it can detect heartbeats and breathing through 30 feet of level and 20 feet ...

BLITZER: OK, Sen. Nelson, sorry to break in, but this press conference on the ground is starting now. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to be selecting each and every one of you just to address where you want to speak to and once we call upon, the person will be up to the podium. And I would like to bring up the Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D) MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: Thank you. Good evening, everybody. We're approaching the end of day three. Today, I want to report that we did make some progress with the fire and the smoke that we reported earlier was hampering our search and rescue operation and we were able to continue searching with fewer limitations. So we swept the pile. We swept the pile with the K-9s. We tried to minimize the heavy equipment and we've continued to use sonar and cameras.

And so we're continuing to focus on the grid approach to the pile. Our top priority continues to be search and rescue and saving any lives that we can. And our brave firefighters are telling us that that's the right thing to do. And we stand with them. Our teams have been working around the clock as always to search for survivors, they have not stopped.

And today, our search and rescue teams found another body in the rubble. And as well, our search has revealed some human remains. The process of identifying these victims is very difficult. We're going to be relying on DNA testing and that is why we've already been gathering DNA samples from the family members. So they have all participated and provided DNA to assist us in the identification.

This allows us to do rapid DNA testing on site for bodies that we find. And you know we identified three bodies in the rubble and had already notified the next of kin. So that is an update as well because the three previous remains now we have contacted the next of kin.

[19:00:04]