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CNN NEWSROOM

Five Dead, 156 Still Missing After Condo Building Collapses; Officers Confirm "Mass Casualty Incident" Near Boston; Cop Shooting Ends In Double Tragedy After Good Samaritan Accidental Killed; Cyber Ninjas Wrap Chaotic Arizona Election Audit; President Biden Backtracks With Clarification On Veto "Threat". Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 26, 2021 - 20:00   ET

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


[20:00:03]

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I think we will prevail. But everybody can help by getting involved and urging our elected officials to do the right thing.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: And we're going to end it on that strong note.

Former Vice President Al Gore, thank you for joining us. Thank you for making the time for us on this Saturday evening. We appreciate it.

And the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Tonight, what caused the unspeakable tragedy in the area here near Miami. CNN, now, learning that an engineer raised concerns years before the condo, the 12-story condo building collapsed.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, kicks off his "revenge tour", as it's called, by railing against Republicans who defied him.

And five people are dead, after a hot air balloon flies into power lines before crashing down in New Mexico.

(MUSIC)

BROWN: CNN's live-special coverage of the tragedy near Miami continues, this hour. I'm Pamela Brown in Washington.

BLITZER: And I'm Wolf Blitzer here, in Surfside, Florida, scene of the stunning collapse that turned this 12-story condo into a smoking pile of rubble, in a matter of only seconds.

Within the past hour, the Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava gave an update on the victims of this tragedy.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: 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 are 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 testing onsite 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.

But out of respect to the families, we're not going to be sharing those names, at this time. I just wanted to say how very, very moved I am, and all of us are, at the incredible outpouring of support that we have received right here, in Surfside, from all across the globe, in the midst of this incredible tragedy. We know people are feeling this. They are feeling connected to us. We feel your support. We feel your love and compassion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And the mayor will be joining me, live, right here later this hour. We have got a bunch of questions for her.

Meanwhile, for family members, it's an emotional mixture of heartbreak and hope. Could survivors, still, be pulled from this wreckage?

We're told, a vigil for the missing is about to get underway. Once again, 156 people -- 156 people -- are, still, unaccounted for. Each one, beloved by family members and friends. Each one, with a unique story. As people gather to anxiously wait to glean any news, at all, that they can, any news they can get about their loved ones. They are telling us stories. And they're really wonderful stories, about the people they love.

CNN's Ryan Young is at the family-reunification center right near from where I am.

Ryan, the emotions are truly overwhelming, right now. Tell us about that.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. A test of leadership, and a test of faith, Wolf, as we sit out here and talk to some of these family members who, obviously, are full of so much pain, so much hope, but also, the idea that they just want their loved ones to be found. We can tell you that, in the last hour and a half or so, the family members did get a chance to talk to some of the city officials who were involved in this desperate-rescue search.

And in fact, people in there were giving us messages about exactly what they were being told by law enforcement and city officials. I can tell you, it was very hard for them to hear where they sort of are with this rescue effort. I mean, obviously, they have been dealing with fire, they have been dealing with plumes of smoke, and the idea of moving all this heavy machinery around that area, to try to rescue someone.

And, of course, we have been able to see those clips, and talk about the fact that they did find more remains today.

[20:05:00]

Talking to loved ones who are here, hoping for any sort of news, listen to this woman and the desperation in her voice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIANA LAFONT, EX-HUSBAND MANUEL LAFONT MISSING IN CONDO COLLAPSE: I'm sure they're doing the best. I -- I mean, I don't have any doubts. I mean, I understand people -- I mean, families, it's a very hard situation. They're in the hotel.

They feel hopeless, like, with the time. But I have my faith. I mean, as strong as every -- as every day. And I have a feeling Manny is alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: Yeah. She is talking about her ex-husband, Manuel LaFont. She is Adriana LaFont. They had two children together. She is here waiting for any sort of news and talked about the idea of these DNA samples.

These are family members who are willing to do anything, Wolf. And they want to see that heavy machinery continue to go down the street here to see if there is any kind of news that would come this direction.

I will tell you, there was a point, today, that there were hope from family members that they thought that, maybe, something would change. And then, the rain didn't come through as heavily as some folks thought earlier this morning. So they were happy with the clear conditions.

But obviously, the news in terms of the recovery effort is not going with the way many family members had hoped for, so many hours after this tragedy. And that's why people are now leaning more on faith. There are more pastors. There are more rabbis who are coming out here to provide some sort of solace.

As you can understand, even when they ask us questions, we are now at that point where frustrations are starting to boil over.

BLITZER: I can -- I can feel that, myself. All right, Ryan, we will get back to you. Thank you very much, Ryan Young, reporting.

Right now, I want to bring in Florida's Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez.

Governor -- Lieutenant Governor, thank you so much for joining us. I know you got a lot going on, as well.

As you know, major structural problems with that now collapsed condo were flagged back three years ago, back in 2018. Whose responsibility, Lieutenant Governor, would it have been to address those issues right then and there?

LT. GOV. JEANETTE NUNEZ (R), FLORIDA: Wolf, well, thank you for the opportunity.

And obviously, that's something the town of Surfside, along with the county, they have oversight with regards to building inspections, building certifications. And so, I think the important thing is not really to hone in at this point. We're focused -- our priority continues to be search and rescue. There will be ample time to sort through all the reasons, all the points of information. Where did they come to? Why was there not action taken?

We want those answers taken just as quickly as those family members from our perspective. But we want to continue to focus on the search and rescue. I think that's priority number one, while the investigations and -- all the structural engineers continue to do their work.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. That certainly is priority number one.

But a quick follow up, if I can, Lieutenant Governor. Three years after that warning, repairs were only now just beginning to be scheduled. Seeing the damage, now, that -- and the loss of life. How should major repair issues on a high rise be handled? Should it simply be left to local authorities? Does the state of Florida have any responsibility?

NUNEZ: Well, the state of Florida has statewide building codes. Some counties, for example, Miami-Dade County has stronger-building codes. So the state, obviously, has statewide-uniform codes.

But I think, obviously, we are going to take a look at it, if there is something that needs to be done, from the state perspective. At this point, we don't believe so. But we are there to offer support. We're there to offer any assistance they may need.

We want to make sure -- I know the county and multiple cities have already begun the process of re-evaluating all of their building structures that have more than 40 years of build time. So, I think, obviously, this has created an opportunity to really revisit.

And I think those discussions will take place, at the appropriate time. But -- but we, again, we really want to focus on the families and the search and rescue.

Again, I think the engineers and all the folks that need to be part of that discussion as to what happened in this particular building. We don't know that that, necessarily, is the case for any other particular buildings along that street or in any other part of our country.

But certainly, we will -- we will look at all of that, as we move forward. BLITZER: Yeah. I mean, speaking to some of the family members and the

loved ones and they agree. The most important thing, right now, is to find survivors, if possible, at all. And that's what they really want. But they, also, lieutenant governor, they want to know what happened.

And they are -- and the point that they are making and I know you agree. If we don't learn from this, it's going to be repeated. There are so many similar buildings, all along the Florida coast, not only the west side, the east side. All over Florida right now, and a lot of folks live in these high-rise condominium buildings. They are worried and I'm sure you appreciate that.

NUNEZ: Oh, absolutely. And I can assure you, Wolf, that both Governor DeSantis and myself want those answers, as expeditiously as possible. So that, again, we can work with our local partners and see what needs to be done.

[20:10:01]

Florida is blessed with, obviously, a great coastline. And with that, obviously, comes challenges. And so, this governor, under our administration, we've been focused on resiliency. And those are some of the things that we have been talking about actively for the past couple of years.

So that discussion, I think, is going to be elevated. And we are going to continue to -- to work, both, on the scene and throughout, to continue to -- to provide assistance. But -- but I agree with you, Wolf, it obviously is a concern.

BLITZER: Yeah. And what's so encouraging right now, Lieutenant Governor, is that everyone is getting involved, working really feverishly to, first of all, find survivors. But then, learn what happened so it doesn't happen, again. And politics, thank God, has not played a role in this. Everyone is working together. The cooperation is very impressive.

Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez of Florida, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for all you are doing.

NUNEZ: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right. I want to go back to Pamela Brown.

Pamela, this is heart -- heartbreaking story that we are all covering.

BROWN: It, certainly, is. And as night falls there in Surfside, Florida, you just think about all of those families who are waiting word about their loved ones. You think about those first responders, the search-and-rescue teams and all of their tireless efforts there.

Wolf, thank you for bringing us the latest on the ground. We're going to be back with you shortly.

But also coming up this hour, Donald Trump kicks off his "revenge tour" by railing against Republicans who defied him. Big-lie believers in Arizona try to reign in the secretary of state's

powers to defend election lawsuits. Katie Hobbs joins me, live.

Plus, a double tragedy in Colorado after a police officer is killed and a Good Samaritan is shot by mistake.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:15:50]

BROWN: Breaking news out of Winthrop, Massachusetts, near Boston. Police have confirmed a mass casualty incident. Two people, in addition to a suspected gunman, have been shot. According to officers, the shooting broke out after a truck slammed into a home.

Michael Yoshida from CNN affiliate WHDH joins me now.

So, Michael, what have investigators uncovered, so far?

MICHAEL YOSHIDA, REPORTER, WHDH-TV: Hey there, Pamela.

Still, very active scene here in Winthrop. You mentioned it just outside of Boston. I will step out of the way and we can zoom in. You can see that stolen-box truck there, still, inside of the building that it demolished several hours ago.

At this point, we are told, by investigators, this all got started around 2:40, this afternoon. That stolen box truck driving through this neighborhood. It then crashed into another vehicle, before then crashing into this building. The driver, who stole the truck, then hopped out of the vehicle, according to police, and then started opening fire on those living here.

We're told a man and a woman who were in the area were shot and killed by that gunman. Police arriving, a short time after that. They opened fire, hitting the suspect, several times. He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

At this point, investigators, still, on the scene. And state police telling us they could be here for hours into the night. Maybe, even into the early hours. It's a very expansive scene that covers several blocks here, in this Winthrop neighborhood.

A lot to piece together here, in terms of the initial vehicle being stolen. Then, how it ended up in this neighborhood, and into this building that it -- has left, pretty much, on the ground, at this point. We are working, as always, to get more information from investigators. But as -- as of now, that's what we know here in Winthrop.

BROWN: What a crazy story this is there. What more do we know about the victims?

YOSHIDA: Yeah. So, we know that one of the victims was a woman, we are told by neighbors, actually. When they first heard this crash, they have a lot of accidents here. So according to neighbors and video we have seen, everyone was just rushing to help. They were rushing to help the people in the silver car that was hit by this truck. They were also running to that box truck, where this gunman was.

And that's when he, apparently, according to witnesses, just started opening fire. He hit the one woman, first. Then, made his way further down the street, and we are told that's when another neighbor, a gentleman, we're told, may have tried to engage him. Heard the gunshots was trying to stop what was going on. He was then shot by the gunman, and later died.

And it was, again, a short time after that, when police arrived. And were able to engage that suspect, open fire, and, again, take him down. And he was taken to the hospital, where he later died, as well.

BROWN: Okay. Michael Yoshida there in Winthrop, Massachusetts, near Boston -- thank you for bringing us the latest on the ground there.

And meantime, five people are dead in New Mexico today after the hot air balloon they were in touched power lines and crashed in a residential area. The accident shut down power to thousands of homes in Albuquerque. Federal aviation officials are investigating what caused the balloon to go down where it did.

And tonight, more questions than answers in the Surfside condo- building collapse. We are going to ask a Miami architect about the 2018 report warning about structural damage. Our special coverage continues, after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:23:35]

BLITZER: As the daylight fades here in Surfside, Florida, the search for the victims of the condominium collapse continues into the night. There are live pictures. Got some live pictures coming in from a vigil that's underway right now.

Search-and-rescue teams have been urgently scouring the site for three-long days now. Fifty-five of the building, 136 units, fell in the early-morning hours Thursday within a matter of only a few seconds. The death toll has grown, now, to five. Five confirmed dead, 156 people, though, remain unaccounted for right now.

Residents in the other, similar tower are -- are now being asked to voluntarily evacuate the building, later tonight, as well.

We're told it could be days, weeks, even months, potentially, before this community gets an explanation for what caused Thursday's tragedy. But today, we also learned that a structural-engineering firm found what are described as significant cracks in the concrete, and structural damage to the building, all the way back in 2018, three years ago.

The Miami architect, Kobi Karp, is joining us right now. Kobi, thank you very much for joining us.

What do you make of this report three years ago there was structural damage that potentially could have caused this?

KOBI KARP, ARCHITECT: I think this report is a standard report that we do for the buildings here. This is a very unique situation.

[20:25:01]

And this building is relatively young. It was built in the '80s.

So what's interesting here is that I was 18 years old. I was in high school, when this building was being designed and built. What we have here is we have an opportunity to really take these reports in to the next level.

We have the technology. We can do infrared. We can do all kinds of sonar testing behind the concrete. And see what the real, true condition of the beams and the slabs are behind the cracks, and behind the separations.

BLITZER: You and I know this area very well, from Miami Beach, to -- you know, to hear, all the way up to Hollywood, Florida, and beyond. There are hundreds of similar buildings all along the ocean. Should all of them be tested along those lines?

KARP: I truly believe we should test them all. It would make sense. It would give everybody a peace of mind to relax. And really, understand the true condition.

Because this is, like, a cancer. You start to scrape at it. You start to open it up. And you find more. Every time we open up one of these buildings, we find that it's greater than what the original report is.

Therefore, by definition, it would help if we were to take a step back and do infrared or sonar. And check behind, what is really the status, the condition, of the steel? And the actual condition of the concrete, itself? We can drill it, and see what the salinity is.

We have an ability to see what it is, and give everybody a better understanding, in today's world, what is the condition of these buildings?

BLITZER: So the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who live in these buildings right -- right now, in 30-year-old, 40-year- old buildings along the ocean. How worried should they be? Because I'm getting calls. A lot of them are pretty worried.

KARP: Look. I think that there is no need for drama. There is no need for excessive push. The other buildings that are similar to this building have been maintained. The maintenance of the other buildings from what I have seen, it needs to be confirmed, it needs to be checked, is better.

But ultimately, it's the forensic engineering that will tell us what is the actual condition? And what actually, truly did happen here in this process.

BLITZER: It's a heartbreaking situation.

KARP: It is.

BLITZER: You live here. And I am, as well.

Kobi, thank you very much for joining us.

KARP: Thank you for your time, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

KARP: Thank you.

BLITZER: As the search continues here in Surfside, Florida, family members and friends find themselves swinging between grief and hope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hold out for hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am trying to be strong because my -- my aunt was a very strong woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We go through waves of disbelief and hope. You know, you hear and you see tragic things. But you don't expect it to happen to your own, and especially, something like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were asleep. And we hear this loud, thunderous sound. Don't know what it is.

My initial gut was a loud clap of thunder. The power went out. I thought the building got struck by lightning because I see a gray cloud outside of the -- outside of the apartment building. I think it's smoke because I still think it's lightning.

When I open to go yell to the fire department, I realize it's not smoke. There's no smell to it. And it's sticking to my fingers so it's the concrete dust. And now, I know that a building fell down. Still, don't think it's ours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After you see the video of the collapse, if you're -- you're in one of those towers, especially in the one where my mom and my grandmother were, where it fell down, and then the other building fell on top of it. It's extremely hard to hold out to hope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I fell apart, pretty much, you know, because when I saw this, I knew they were gone. It's hard for me to take a look right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are still hopeful and we are praying for a miracle. We are hoping they're in some type of a pocket, somewhere within the rubble, seeking -- just waiting for someone to come find them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's discuss all that's going on right now. Joining us, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava.

Mayor Levine Cava, thank so much for joining us.

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Thank you.

BLITZER: I know you got a lot going on. You just came from a meeting with your staff.

LEVINE CAVA: Yes.

BLITZER: For our viewers here in the U.S., and they're obviously watching and, indeed, around the world, what's the latest information you can tell us? First of all, about the most important issue, the search-and-rescue operation?

LEVINE CAVA: We are continuing. We are searching. And we are hoping to find more people alive in the rubble. We, still, have hope. We're using the dogs, the cameras, the sonar, all of that. And our experts tell us there's still a chance.

BLITZER: There's still hope --

LEVINE CAVA: Yes.

BLITZER: -- for finding at least some survivors because you told us, just a little while ago, still 156 people -- 156 people unaccounted for.

LEVINE CAVA: Yes. Right.

BLITZER: So all the folks that are asking, what does that exactly mean, unaccounted for?

LEVINE: Yeah.

[20:30:03]

BLITZER: Were these people who were definitely in that building when it collapsed?

CAVA: So, not necessarily. Well, so this is people reporting, calling in, oh, we know someone who lived in that building, doesn't necessarily mean that they were at the building at the time of the collapse. So, we've been trying to reach out to locate all of those people. And once we find them, hopefully alive, safe, we turn them into the other list.

BLITZER: You also said at the news conference a little while ago, I was taking notes, that you found, in your words, I'm quoting, some human remains.

CAVA: Yes.

BLITZER: You know, it's so painful to even think about that. But when you say some human remains, tell us about that.

CAVA: The impact was huge. And sometimes, there are parts of bodies, not the entire body, and that is some human remains.

BLITZER: Have they been identified via DNA yet? Do we know who these --

CAVA: No, not yet. No, we do not yet know who those people are, those remains would be sent to the medical examiner's office and attempt to match DNA. And then after that, they would notify next of kin.

BLITZER: Are you getting all the help you need from local state federal authorities? I know they're going to help internationally as well.

CAVA: Exactly. We are getting the help that we need. It's been extraordinary. First of all, we have the best team in the world for search and rescue. These folks have trained and our Task Force One, that's what they're called, through FEMA, and they have been all over the world, the Haiti earthquake, 9/11, so they know what they're doing. And then as well we've had embedded from Mexico and Israel, as well as from around the United States.

BLITZER: What's the hardest from your perspective? You're the mayor here in Miami Dade County. You got a huge responsibility. What's the hardest -- the hardest thing you have to deal with?

CAVA: The families.

BLITZER: Have you been talking to the family?

CAVA: Yes, yes, of course.

BLITZER: Tell us about those conversations.

CAVA: It's just unimaginable, because, of course when it's your loved one and you just have no clues where they are, and you don't understand why it is that they haven't been located. I -- they've offered to go to the pile and dig. And I said, if I could dig, I would dig. Because clearly, we all want to find these people alive. And that is how the fire rescue, a team, is treating it.

They live to find people alive in the rubble. So, it's really just devastating to have to say we don't have news, they need to wait, they need to be patient, and that's how it's going.

BLITZER: For some of these family members, and my heart goes out to them, they've said they want to go over to the rubble, are you going to let them do that?

CAVA: We're working on a plan to allow family members to have an opportunity to be by the site and pay vigil to their family.

BLITZER: Because they feel this would be very, very, you know, emotionally satisfying for them to see it. Some of them wouldn't want to go, but some would. But you're open to letting them go. CAVA: Absolutely. We're working on arrangements and we'll be able to report that soon.

BLITZER: Mayor, thank you so much for what you're doing. I know this is painful for you. It's painful for all of us, but it's mostly painful for the loved ones, the family members. If they're worried about their moms and dads, their grandparents, their sons and daughters, right, brothers and sisters, we can only imagine what they're going through.

CAVA: Thank you, Wolf. We're here for them and the whole world is here for them, and that brings us great comfort.

BLITZER: Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, thank you so much for all you're doing. Thanks for joining us. Let's continue this conversation.

CAVA: Very good.

BLITZER: Let's pray that there will be a miracle and they will find some --

CAVA: Everyone should pray. We need prayers.

BLITZER: I totally agree. Thank you very much.

Pamela, what can I say? I keep saying it's a heartbreaking story that we're covering, but we will continue to stay on top of this story because it is so important that the families find out what's happened to their loved ones. And it's also so important that we learn exactly what happened so that it doesn't happen again. People sleeping at 1:30 in the morning and within 11 seconds, the building collapses.

BROWN: And to think what the mayor said about those family members wanting to go to the pile and dig themselves, it just gives you a window into that feeling of desperation as time ticks on and their loved ones have not been found.

All right. Thank you so much. Wolf, we appreciate it.

Up next, a Good Samaritan who confronted a cop killing gunman has been mistakenly killed by police. More on what went wrong when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:35:40]

BROWN: Today, we're learning more about a double tragedy in Colorado. First, the senseless killing of a police officer and then the death of a Good Samaritan caught up in the violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINK STRATE, ARVADA, COLORADO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Officer Beasley was responding to a call in the area of Olde Town Arvada. And within seconds, he was brutally ambushed and murdered by someone who expressed hatred for police officers.

The threat to our officers and our community was stopped by a hero named Johnny Hurley. What happened next is equally tragic. A responding Arvada officer encountered Mr. Hurley who was holding a rifle and our officer shot him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Police say suspected gunman, Ronald Troyke, was caught on camera shooting and killing Officer Gordon Beasley in the town of Arvada on Monday. John Hurley, who was nearby at the time, confronted and killed Troyke. But when officers arrived at the scene, they accidentally killed Hurley believing him to be the gunman.

Arizona's so-called election audit is over, at least that is according to the audit's propaganda feed on Twitter. For two months, a company called Cyber Ninjas has been pouring over ballots in Maricopa County using bizarre tools in an attempt to find evidence of voter fraud.

Joining me now is the top election official in Arizona and outspoken critic of this audit, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. She's also running for governor. Good to see you.

[20:40:04]

So, do you have any timeline of when we could expect a report to be released? Do you expect an alleged election fraud?

KATIE HOBBS (D), SECRETARY OF STATE OF ARIZONA: It sounds like they're planning to release a report sometime in the next couple of months. And we do certainly expect it to not be a valid report. Everything we've seen in the process shows us that they are not following any type of post-election audit best practices, they've been inconsistent with applying procedures that's lead to errors.

There's been lack of security, so all kinds of problems which just have created an atmosphere where we just aren't confident in the results that they'll come up with that all.

BROWN: I want to play a clip from one American news where reporter makes the very same baseless accusations that are behind the Arizona audit. Listen to what he says should happen to the people who he falsely believes stole the election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PEARSON SHARP, OAN REPORTER: What happens to all these people who are responsible for overthrowing the election? What are the consequences for traitors who meddled with our sacred democratic process and tried to steal power by taking away the voices of the American people? What happens to them? Well, in the past, America had a very good solution for dealing with such traitors, execution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Now, he has denied since saying that, that he wanted people to actually be killed or executed over this. But how concerned are you about the threat of violence in Arizona as this audit comes to an end?

HOBBS: You know, I'm very concerned. But first of all, I will say, and I know you know this, and your audience knows this, but all the claims are made -- he was making were false, the election was not stolen, the results that we certified in Arizona and across the country are valid results.

And so -- but I am concerned, I mean, the attacks, and harassment and reminders every day levelled towards my office have not slowed down. And so, you know, when this report comes out, I think people are going to feel emboldened to take action based on rhetoric like this that we're -- that we're continuing to see.

BROWN: So, tell us a little bit more about some of those threats. What are people saying to you? And are you boosting security? Are your staff members boosting security ahead of the report release?

HOBBS: Well, to be honest with you, the amount of just garbage thrown at our office has been hard to keep up with. And we have staff that this isn't their regular job, but they're trying to sort through it to find threats that we might need to report. But I do have security, we are in constant communication with the -- with the Department of Public Safety to -- around monitoring these threats. And -- but we certainly are concerned about things ramping up.

BROWN: And have you had to go to police over some of these threats? Tell us about that.

HOBBS: I mean, we've certainly reported threats that have come in. And because of those threats, I have a protective detail.

BROWN: Do you know what will happen now to the ballots and voting machines that were handed over to the Cyber Ninjas?

HOBBS: Well, my understanding is that they will be returned to Maricopa County. We certainly have concerns about the chain of custody, particularly on the equipment. We've already notified Maricopa County that based on guidance from the federal government that the chain of custody has been irreparably harmed and that equipment shouldn't be used again in a future election.

BROWN: Katie Hobbs, thank you so much. And sorry to hear that you and your staff members are still receiving threats. It's just -- it's just a horrible thing that is playing out there. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

HOBBS: Thank you.

BROWN: Also, tonight, former President Donald Trump kicking off his revenge tour against Republicans who voted to impeach him. First on the list GOP congressman, Anthony Gonzales. Trump rallied in Ohio this evening in support of his primary challenge, Max Miller, a former Trump aide.

As Trump returns to the campaign trail, his business braces for criminal charges. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office informed Trump Organization lawyers that the company could face charges and we have learned that those charges could come down any day now.

And a quick programming note for you, as we get new details about what happened on January 6, Drew Griffin talks with those who were there, "Assault on Democracy: The Roots of Trump's Insurrection," airs again tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern just a few minutes from now.

But up next, President Biden is backpedaling after Republicans slammed what they say was a threat to veto the bipartisan infrastructure deal right after he agreed to it. The president said, that wasn't his intent, but is the damage done? We'll go to the White House, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[20:45:34]

BROWN: President Biden doing some backpedaling today, insisting he will not veto the bipartisan infrastructure deal he had previously agreed to. It's a fairly significant course correction for the president who released a statement saying, he didn't mean to hint earlier this week that he was threatening a veto.

Let's go straight to CNN's Arlette Saenz at the White House. Arlette, some of the people in that building behind you are playing clean up today. So, what is the actual crystal-clear message?

[20:50:02]

ARLETTE ASENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, President Biden really himself dove into cleanup mode today as he looked to stave off some of the concerns after those comments he made earlier in the week, which really threatens the future of that bipartisan proposal and agreement on infrastructure.

Now, just hours after the President had reached that agreement with a group of bipartisan senators, the president suggested that he would only sign that bipartisan agreement if a larger package that's expected to pass, just on democratic votes, was also passed at the same time, essentially tying the two together, saying he would not sign one without the other. Now, that comment really frustrated Republicans who suggested that the President had not been negotiated in good faith.

Now, the president today seeking to walk some of that back, he said he understood why Republicans were upset. And he said in the statement, "My comments also created the impression that I was issuing a veto threat on the very plan I had just agreed to, which was certainly not my intent." The President went on to say that he fully supports that bipartisan agreements, and will be promoting it with vigor.

But, really, over the past 48 hours, you have seen this White House top aides trying to ease those concerns of Republican senators and also moderate Democrats. They held calls with them yesterday to talk about some of those frustrations that they felt about the President's previous comments.

Now, shortly after the president released that statement today, two of the senators who were involved in the negotiations, Republican Senator Rob Portman and also Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate Democrat, they tweeted their support of this plan, and Sinema even saying she was honored to have the President's support.

Now, this is going to be a long road ahead. The President still is going to, over the course of the next few months, still needs to build that bipartisan support and keep Democrats on board as well, but it's certainly gotten off to a bumpy start.

BROWN: It certainly has. Arlette Saenz from the White House for us, thank you so much.

And up next, a survivor from the South Florida condo collapse describes how she managed to escape with just seconds to spare. We'll be right back with her story.

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[20:55:55]

BLITZER: More on our breaking news tonight. We've got an update just a little while ago from Miami officials about the search for victims and survivors of the Florida high-rise collapse. Five people have now been confirmed dead, 156 people still are unaccounted for. Residents of the other Champlain Towers are being asked to voluntarily evacuate tonight.

Reporter Joseph Ojo from CNN-affiliate, WPLG, has the story of a woman who survived by climbing through rubble in the dark holding her dog.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARON SCHECHTER, ESCAPED COLLAPSED CONDO: I mean, I was one of two, I think, that survived on my floor.

JOSEPH OJO, WPLG REPORTER: As Sharon Schechter was fast asleep --

SCHECHTER: I started hearing noise that was a little unusual.

OJO: -- her condominium came crashing down.

SCHECHTER: It felt like the whole building was shaking.

OJO: She looked outside to see what was wrong.

SCHECHTER: I realized, I said, Oh, my God, where's the building? There's no building.

OJO: Then quickly grabbed her dog and ran for safety.

SCHECHTER: I mean, I literally walked out with nothing.

OJO: Sharon tells me she and others tried running down the only available stairwell, but then they were faced with a ton of rubble.

SCHECHTER: There was no way, we're screaming help, we're here, come get us, we're here, banging on the door.

OJO: She tells me she had to climb through the rubble and on top of cars to get out.

SCHECHTER: It was pitch black. It was like Titanic. You know, we're finding our way out until we get to some light.

OJO: And when she got out --

SCHECHTER: Now, it's like, Mike, Mike's in the building. Where's Mike? You know, I called him, I have his number.

OJO: All she could think of was her neighbors who didn't make it out.

SCHECHTER: I felt like a mourning every minute for someone in that building.

OJO: Sharon operates a Medicare insurance business out of her apartment. She says the building collapsed so quickly that she wasn't able to grab her personal items like her passport and important documents for work. Although her livelihood is gone, she is grateful to be alive.

SCHECHTER: I'm hoping that there's a reason why I survived a bigger -- a bigger picture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Thanks for the reporting. Joseph Ojo from CNN-affiliate, WPLG, for that report.

And to our viewers. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer live from Surfside, Florida. Thanks for joining us for our special coverage.

BROWN: And I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. We'll both be back with you tomorrow. "Assault on Democracy: The Roots of Trump's Insurrection" starts now.