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Matt Hancock Resigns As U.K. Health Secretary After Breaking COVID-19 Restrictions; Fifth Body Found In Champlain Towers Wreckage; 2018 Report Found "Major" Damage In Champlain Towers South; Families Hold Onto Hope After Florida Building Collapse; New Zealand Suspends Quarantine-Free Travel With Australia For Three Days; Inside Myanmar's "Rooms Of Hell"; Georgia's New Voting Law; Historic Paris Department Store Reopens After 16 Years. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired June 27, 2021 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This hour, we'll have the very latest on the aggressive search and rescue effort at a collapsed Florida condo.

Plus the Justice Department sues Georgia over the state's new voting restrictions.

But does attorney general Merrick Garland have any hope of winning?

And much of the U.S. Northwest swelters under a record-setting heat wave. We will have a forecast for the region.

Welcome to all of you watching in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


BRUNHUBER: We begin in Florida, where the death toll has risen following the collapse of a 12-story building in the city of Surfside.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): This is what's left of Champlain Towers South condominiums after part of the structure came crashing down over 72 hours ago. A fifth body was pulled from the rubble by search and rescue crews on Saturday; 156 others are unaccounted for.

The mayor of Miami-Dade County says the aggressive search for survivors is still the top priority.


MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FL: 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.


BRUNHUBER: The cause of the collapse is still unknown but we've learned that major structural problems with the buildings were flagged back in 2018. Randi Kaye has more on that.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Officials here are also looking at a report from three years ago, which has certainly caught the attention of many. It's from 2018 and it's a structural field survey report.

It talks about the structural integrity of this building that collapsed. And there are some things in it that are quite alarming. They cite the sizeable cracks in the concrete slab below the pool. They have crumbling in the parking garage, they say. They found abundant cracking in the parking garage, in the concrete columns and in the beams, in that parking garage. Also they say that the previous garage concrete repairs are failing.

So the question is why wasn't anything done about this -- or was anything done about this in the last three years?

It is important to note that, in this 2018 report, there is nothing to indicate that this building is facing imminent collapse or at risk of collapse. So I just want to be very clear about that.

But the mayor here in Surfside, Florida, say it's really unclear to him what steps were taken to address the concerns cited in the 2018 structural field survey report -- I'm Randi Kaye reporting in Surfside, Florida. Back to you.


BRUNHUBER: As Randi mentioned, the 2018 field survey is raising questions about the structural integrity of the building. The report revealed alarming concerns about concrete below the pool deck and in the parking garage.

And part of it reads, "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 for concrete that is cracked or crumbled. There are concerns now about the safety of the nearby North Tower. Surfside's mayor is recommending residents there evacuate out of an abundance of caution.


MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FL: They didn't find anything out of order so that's reassuring. People have concerns staying in the building. I can't say I'd be excited about staying in that building either. (END VIDEO CLIP)


BRUNHUBER: Joining me now is Forrest Lanning. He is a structural engineer with FEMA Region 9 in California and he deals with collapsed buildings and major disasters, including earthquakes.

Thanks so much for being here with us. You've seen the details in the 2018 report about the structural problems and the repairs needed. You've looked at the pictures of the building before the collapse. So let's set aside hindsight here.

Should the alarm bells have rung much more urgently?

FORREST LANNING, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER, FEMA REGION 9, CALIFORNIA: I think so. I mean, it's been several years since that report came out.


LANNING: And reading through the report, there was evidence of the concrete spalling, cracking and corrosion on the rebars.

What's really concerning is it was happening in the basement. The basement covers the whole block. So it extends beyond the footprint of the building. Above the basement is the exterior, is the outside. The report was stating that there was no slope to the slab.

So it was ponding water so the water would just stay on there until it evaporated. And there was a lot of calcium carbonate in the concrete and there was attempts to repair cracks.

But the report also stated that there was further cracking since the repair, which, to me, would be a huge red flag. That's something that needed to be done and it's unfortunate what happened. But there is -- there was warnings for this.

BRUNHUBER: One of the possible factors experts are talking about is salt from the ocean, from the air. Many years ago, I covered a deadly pancake collapse of a structure. And engineers found runoff from the deicing road salt contributed to the corrosion of the rebar and the bonds with the concrete.

So explain what effect the long exposure to salt has on the integrity of buildings?

LANNING: So having the outside air is a problem. Having high humidity is an even bigger problem.

But having high humidity and salty air is the worst combination. When you have oceanfront structures, you -- the structure is being basically blasted by the sea air, it's full of salt, especially if it's right on the beach the entire lifetime.

It doesn't get a break from it. And salt is the worst corrosive agent for the rebars inside. So usually in structures that are going to be in this maritime environment, there is extra thick what we all concrete cover protecting the steel rebar.

Now I don't know specifically in this case if it had extra concrete for them. My guess is that it wouldn't because a lot of the structure was internal to the building. You usually do that only on exterior features.

But it sounds like there was excess amount of cracking through the top slab of the basement and through on the exterior cladding of the entire building. There's evidence of a lot of this.

BRUNHUBER: The concern, of course, is that this could be more widespread in terms of other buildings perhaps. Miami-Dade's county mayor announced there will an audit of all the buildings in the county that are at the four-year point and beyond. It sounds like a huge undertaking.

But why 40 years? Why is that the magic number?

If the building's 35 years, you know, is there nothing to worry about there? Why is that significant?

LANNING: I'm not really sure where they came up with 40 years. A lot of times, buildings have a lifespan they're designed for. Typically, depending on the type of use of buildings, but more or less they're about 50-year lifespans.

And so 40 years is -- my assumption is that's approaching the end of that lifespan so they're going to do this whole recertification of the building. There's enough time before the end of the lifespan.

BRUNHUBER: But with bridges and other important structures like that, they do it much more often.

Shouldn't that perhaps be doing it every 10 years or something like that, considering especially some people are saying climate change might play a factor, with the changing climate?

Should we perhaps change our regulations?

LANNING: I agree. I think it probably should be 20 years. It should definitely be shorter than the 40 years, especially on oceanfront structures.

Now if there's buildings on the interior inland, that are away from the ocean, 40 years might be fine. But these are these oceanside -- the oceanfront structures really need to have their inspections more often. There will be a lot more, quicker corrosion. It just gets a beating from it, including with all of the hurricanes that hit Florida.


BRUNHUBER: Our thanks to Forrest Lanning, structural engineer with FEMA Region 9 in California.

As rescue crews ramp up efforts, the families of the missing are holding onto hope their loved ones will be found alive. Among them, the daughter of Magaly Delgado. The 80-year-old mother and grandmother lived in an apartment on the 9th floor. Her daughter spoke with Wolf Blitzer on Saturday, describing some of her mother's plans for the future.


MAGALY RAMSEY, MAGALY DELGADO'S DAUGHTER: We were planning a trip after COVID. She became 80 during COVID. We're like, hey, mom, let's go to Napa and the grandkids in August. She couldn't wait for that to happen, so.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: She's lived in this building for 10 years?

RAMSEY: Over 10 years, yes.

BLITZER: Has there been ever any indication of structural problems?

Anything like that?

Did your mom ever complain about the building?


RAMSEY: She didn't complain about the building. She was complaining about a couple of things. There were some assessments and they were reviewing those assessments, whatever they were.

I will say that when the other building beside it was being -- which is relatively new, was being built.

She did complain of a lot of tremors and things being done to the other building that she sometimes was concerned, what may be happening to her building that might be putting it at risk as a result.

BLITZER: But she loved living here and in this building.

RAMSEY: She loved the building. She loved the community, faith based. She had her group of friends at the church, St. Patrick's, very close- knit.

She loved being close. We're about an hour and a half to me. She would take her car and drive to see me in Jupiter without a problem.

She just loved being able she wanted to do and be by the water. She loved being by the water.


BRUNHUBER: To learn how you can help the collapsed victims and their families head to

Britain's health secretary resigns after pictures of a reported affair are made public. But that's not why he's stepping down. The rest of the story in a moment.


NATHAN MAUNG, U.S. CITIZEN (from captions): I want the world to know please don't deal with the terrorists. Please support the people to fight for their freedom.


BRUNHUBER: A U.S. citizen is giving his first interview since being released from a prison in Myanmar, just one of many journalists arrested since the coup. We have our exclusive just ahead. Stay with us.






BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Thousands marched through the streets of London Saturday in protest of the COVID lockdown as well as austerity measures and also calling on the government to step up in the fight against climate change. A lot of COVID restrictions have had to stay in place because of the spread of the Delta variant.


BRUNHUBER: The U.K.'s health minister is calling it quits after causing a scandal for breaking social distancing rules. Downing Street says Matt Hancock is being replaced by former chancellor Sajid Javid.

Here's what happened. Matt Hancock was caught kissing an aide in photos published by "The Sun." The British tabloid said they were having an affair and the images were from May when stricter COVID restrictions were in place.

Isa Soares joins me now live.

Isa, sounds like hypocrisy, not infidelity, is at the center of the controversy.

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, that really was the downfall for Matt Hancocks, former health secretary, forced to step down, given the pressure on him from that photo that you mentioned.

It's an image put on the front page of "The Sun" newspaper on Friday. This image shows Matt Hancock, in an embrace, kissing his aide at the time. It wasn't so much the morality of his actions, of the affair, the infidelity, but rather the hypocrisy.

It was on May 6th, only a week after that there was some easing of social distancing, a week after that photo that you could actually hug people. This from a health minister, who told people they had to abide by the rules. It was strict for the right reasons, to keep a lid on this pandemic.

This is the man who created, was the architect of these rules and clearly what people are saying it is hypocritical of him because he was doing the opposite. And this was what really broke the camel's back.

That and now accusations of cronyism because Gina Coladangelo, the aide captured in the photo, he brought her in as a nonexecutive in the health department. And that is public money being spent. So plenty of accusations regarding that.

But let me give you a sense of what the papers are saying.

I'll show you the front page of the "Sunday Times." It says, "Humiliated Hancock quits," inside it says, "Puritan in chief who became the minister for hypocrisy."

"The Mail," "Hancock Quits His Job and Marriage."

"The Observer," inside you have, "Hancock may have gone but questions of integrity linger."

Matt Hancock wrote a letter to the prime minister. The prime minister said he was sorry to see him go. But he apologized for his failings. Take a listen.


MATT HANCOCK, BRITISH HEALTH SECRETARY: I understand the enormous sacrifices that everybody in this country has made, that you have made. And those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them. And that is why I have got to resign.


SOARES: It wasn't just the public outcry but also members of his party, of Boris Johnson's party, who felt that his position was untenable -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: So much more than just a kiss there. CNN's Isa Soares reporting, appreciate it.

New coronavirus restrictions have gone into place in parts of Australia this weekend as COVID case numbers tick upward. A two-day lockdown went into effect a few hours ago in some Northern Territory areas.

A two-week stay-at-home order is under way in the greater Sydney region. Ivan Watson joins us live from Hong Kong.

What is the latest?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's an outbreak in New South Wales, 30 more cases overnight, more than 100 linked to a cluster believed linked to the driver of a vehicle transporting airport air crews around. And this is centered on the Bondi Beach region.


WATSON: The top official is warning the numbers are expected to continue to grow.


GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN, PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES: I also do want to foreshadow that, given how contagious this strand of the virus is, we anticipate case numbers will increase beyond what we've seen today.

We are seeing that people in isolation unfortunately have already transmitted it. So we do want to anticipate that case numbers will increase.


WATSON: The authorities in New South Wales have a softer term, not lockdown but stay-at-home. Our cameraman was filming around Sydney and Bondi in that neighborhood, which is kind of the hot zone for this outbreak.

We saw some kind of empty commercial areas but along beaches, large numbers of people out on streets and on beaches, exercising, which is allowed without masks on. And, as he pointed out, quite close to a COVID testing area, where the people administering the tests were in full, kind of almost hazmat suits, which made for an unusual contradiction there.

One of the challenges that Australia is facing, with relatively low number of infections, about 30,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, very strict quarantine rules for travel in and out of the country, is that it has very low vaccination rates with about 7.2 million doses distributed in a population of some 25 million.

Estimates are that around 10 percent of the population is vaccinated so it is a population that is vulnerable to new potential outbreaks and to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

There are efforts to try to contact trace after a miner tested positive in the Northern Territory and now the authorities are looking for some 900 other people who were working in the same gold mine there.

The latest outbreak in New South Wales punctured, temporarily at least, the travel bubble with New Zealand, which suspended quarantine- free travel for the moment to and from New South Wales.

BRUNHUBER: Something to keep an eye on. Thank you for wrapping that up for us, Ivan Watson in Hong Kong, appreciate it.

Nathan Maung, a U.S. citizen, is speaking out for the first time since being released from prison in Myanmar. He told CNN he was tortured by the junta in the facility known as the rooms of hell. He's fighting for the release of other journalists just like him, who have been arrested. Anna Coren has the interview.


ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dwarfed by elm trees on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., Nathan Maung takes in his new surroundings, a world away from the hell where he has been.

Just last week, the 44-year-old journalist arrived on American soil. The U.S. State Department securing his release after more than three months behind bars in Myanmar

MAUNG (from captions): Sometimes, I dream I really want to go back to prison because my body is here but my mind is with my friends, my journalists, my country.

COREN (voice-over): Nathan, a U.S. citizen who lives in Myanmar and cofounded Cameat (ph) Media, was arrested with his producer, Hanthar Nyein, back in March a month after the military junta staged a coup.

Nathan says dozens of police raided their office. Several hours later, they were blindfolded and taken to an interrogation center housed within this military compound on the outskirts of Yangon. That's when the real terror began.

COREN: How did the treatment begin?

MAUNG (from captions): They started putting the blindfold and handcuffs and started questioning and hit our face and head and shoulder all the time for every our answers.

They kicked us, they beat us for like three days, nonstop.

COREN (voice-over): On the fourth day, Nathan says the soldiers realized he was a U.S. citizen and stopped the beatings. But for 39 year old Hanthar, it only intensified. They bashed him, burned his skin with cigarettes and then, as a way to get his password to access his phone, Nathan says they threatened to rape him.

MAUNG (from captions): And was crying, oh, no, no, no, please don't, please don't. I will give you my passport.

COREN (voice-over): And this is what the soldiers found, a photo of Hanthar with deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The torture lasted for 15 days, the screaming and crying Nathan heard from other prisoners haunting him.

Soldiers then moved them to the notorious Insein prison, home to about 10,000 prisoners.


MAUNG: I believe I wasn't here, I was in hell (ph).

COREN (voice-over): Nathan and Hanthar were separated and held in solitary confinement in cells 8 by 12 feet. MAUNG: I was in cell number 9 and he was in cell number 12.

COREN (voice-over): Nathan heard that fellow American journalist, Danny Fenster, was also held at Insein prison but he did not see him. On the 14th of June, charges of spreading misinformation were dropped and Nathan was released.

MAUNG: Yes, me and Hanthar.

COREN (voice-over): But his dear friend, Hanthar, a Burmese national, remains behind bars.

MAUNG (from captions): I said, "See you, buddy. We will be back together outside. We'll work together. I will be waiting for you."

Yes, yes. We'll be together, someday.

COREN (voice-over): For Hanthar's family, it has been agony, the military refusing any access to him.

KYI THAR, HANTHAR NYEIN'S SISTER (through translator): As a sister, I just want to hug him tight. I miss him so much. I'm so worried he will not be released and have to stay inside.

COREN (voice-over): Nathan says the junta see the people as the enemy and is pleading with the international community to stand up against this brutal regime.

The junta says it is using restraint against what it calls riotous protesters.

MAUNG (from captions): I want the world to know, please don't deal with the terrorists. Please support the people, to fight for their freedom.

COREN (voice-over): Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. journalist Danny Fenster was charged under the newly adopted fake news law and is due to appear in court on July 1st. His family still has not had any contact with him and are appealing to the U.S. government to secure their son's release.

Washington says it has not been granted access to him by Myanmar officials.

Sudan's council of ministers has agreed on a resolution with the country's military to hand former president Omar Bashir to the International Criminal Court.

He was ousted in April 2019 after months of nationwide protests and faces five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes, allegedly committed during Sudan's military campaign in Darfur between 2000 and 2008. The court says arrest warrants for him were issued in 2009 and 2010.

He is the first sitting president to be indicted by the International Criminal Court. It's not clear whether he will be transferred to the court.

Coming up, the death toll in Florida's devastating building collapse rises, as desperate families await news of loved ones still unaccounted for.

And a historic heat wave is baking the northwestern North America.

Is there any relief in sight from the record-breaking hot weather?

We go to live to our meteorologist ahead. Please do stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world.

Returning to Surfside, Florida, where search and rescue operations are growing more aggressive after another body was found in the wreckage of a massive building collapse. Part of the structure came crashing down in a matter of seconds early Thursday.

Right now, the death toll stands at five and the whereabouts of 156 others are still unknown. We've learned major structural problems with the building were flagged back in 2018 so that's leading to concerns about the nearby North Tower and just how safe it is.

The impact of this tragedy extends far beyond South Florida. Many of those still unaccounted for are from Latin American countries. Their loved ones outside the U.S. are watching the situation unfold from afar. Matt Rivers has more from Mexico City.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so many American families are awaiting news, any sort of word on the fate of their loved ones as a result of this partial collapse.

So, too, are dozens of Latin American families whose loved ones are among those that are missing. Remember there are multiple South American countries that have citizens that are among the dozens and dozens of people that remain unaccounted for at this point.

We've done some reporting over the last several days, talking to different family members from some of those South American countries. And the consistent theme we hear is that, among the worst of all of this is just the lack of information, the lack of any sort of news on the fates of their missing family members.

We know this is an international response. Both Israel and Mexico saying that they have sent workers, rescue workers, to try and help with the international effort, with the search and rescue effort that is currently underway in South Florida.

We also know the U.S. government, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio's office trying to expedite visas for the foreign nationals who have family members who are among those missing at this juncture.

I tried to get family members the ability to even come to South Florida and be their present as these rescue efforts continue but, unfortunately, we know that the more time goes by, as each hour ticks by, the chances of finding people alive in that debris continues to go down -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


BRUNHUBER: Residents of the other Champlain Towers are asked to voluntarily evacuate. Reporter Joseph Ojo from WPLG has the story of a woman who survived by climbing through rubble in the dark, holding her dog.


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

JOSEPH OJO, WPLG REPORTER (voice-over): As Sharon Schechter was fast asleep --

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

OJO (voice-over): -- her condominium came crashing down.

SCHECHTER: It felt like the whole building was shaking.

OJO (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): -- then quickly grabbed her dog and ran for safety.

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

OJO (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): -- 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.


BRUNHUBER: That was reporter Joseph Ojo from CNN affiliate WPLG.

We're also learning from -- hearing from a man who witnessed the immediate aftermath of Thursday's tragedy. Daniel Groves was on vacation in a nearby hotel when he heard a loud explosion that shook the building. He spoke with CNN about his terrifying experience.


DANIEL GROVES, CONDO COLLAPSE WITNESS: That video is probably six minutes after the building -- maybe a couple of minutes after the building collapsed. My thing was, I was showing my family what was going on in case we lost cell service. I was recording video for my family to let them know what was going on at that moment. I don't know -- I shot everything all at once.

I was on the second floor, right by the pool, in the middle of this Solaris hotel, right beside it. I was in the second floor; I mean, literally dead asleep. It's 1:20 in the morning; my wife and I were sleeping.

It literally sounded like a bomb going off, the loudest thing I had ever heard in my life, from a dead sleep. The whole building shook. I felt like we were in the worst earthquake in my life.

I immediately -- we're talking about 15 seconds -- immediately ran to the window, pulled the blinds aside. I couldn't see but four or five feet in front of me.

I said, "We're in a tornado, babe, get up. We're in the tornado." Right as I said that, the alarms go off and we run right into the next

room, grab our kids and take off outside, leaving everything in the room.


BRUNHUBER: If you want to help the collapse victims and their families, go to We have links there to charitable organizations that have been verified by CNN.

U.S. authorities are investigating a deadly hot air balloon crash. The balloon went down in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Saturday, killing five people. The crash involved power lines, temporarily knocking out electricity to 13,000 people.

The area is popular with ballooning enthusiasts. Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are supervising the investigation. According to NTSB data, there were at least 12 fatal balloon crashes across the U.S. since 2008.

It's never been this hot in Portland, Oregon. The temperature hit 108 degrees on Saturday, the hottest it's ever been since records have been kept. And it could be hotter today. Seattle was in triple digits on Saturday and that morning was the second warmest of all-time there. More than 18 million people are under excessive heat warnings across parts of the western U.S.

The big question, is there any relief in sight?



BRUNHUBER: The U.S. federal government gets involved in a battle over a restrictive voting law in Georgia.

But does the Justice Department have leverage to succeed?

A former U.S. attorney weighs in. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: A high stakes legal battle is brewing over a controversial voting law in the state of Georgia. On Friday, the Justice Department sued the state over the law it passed in March.

The law imposes a number of voting restrictions, including new voter ID requirements for absentee ballots, allowing state officials to take over local elections boards, limiting the use of ballot drop boxes and making it a crime to approach voters in line and give them food and water. Opponents say the measures are nothing less than voter suppression.

But state Republicans, including governor Kemp, who signed the law, say it's necessary to boost confidence in elections. Kemp slammed the Biden administration for filing the suit.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): The Biden administration is weaponizing the Department of Justice to serve their own partisan goals. They are coming for you next. They're coming for your state, your ball game, your election laws, your business and your way of life.


BRUNHUBER: Joining me now from La Jolla, California, former U.S. attorney Harry Litman, host of the "Talking Feds" podcast.

Thanks so much for being with us.

In the context of all the voting restrictions that Republicans have passed or are passing across the country, this case could obviously have national implications, so how does the DOJ make its case here?

And what are the odds it will succeed?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, you know, in fact it's not that easy a case for it to make. It used to be able to go under a different provision of the Voting Rights Act, that the Supreme Court struck down about eight years ago.


LITMAN: So this remaining provision, Section Two, requires it to show that people in Georgia, officials in Georgia, had the purpose of limiting, of suppressing the vote of minorities, not in the sort of sense of hatred for minorities but, nevertheless, knowing that the provisions they were passing, about absentee ballots and drop boxes and keeping people from giving food in line and the like, would disproportionately disadvantage Black and Brown voters.

So that's their showing. Always a little hard to make a showing about what's in the mind of state officials. But that's what they've taken on with this lawsuit.

BRUNHUBER: But then to help them make their case, I suppose you could say Republicans in the state have already said, listen, our election was run fairly. There was no fraud.

So then how can they defend taking up these measures to prevent a problem that they said didn't exist?

LITMAN: That's right. So one of the big pieces of evidence will be that the proffered reason really doesn't hold water. And that pulls the rug out from under. And the DOJ will take the additional step of showing, what's the real reason. The real reason is to disadvantage the vote, especially in a place

like Georgia, which is on the real knife's edge in the country of blue versus red, as is, by the way, Arizona, Texas, the places where the Republicans have passed the most restrictive sets of laws.

BRUNHUBER: Absolutely. And another case about Arizona is we're going to see a decision from the Supreme Court about that, which may impact this one.

I want to ask you specifically about one of the things that the Republicans are really making a lot of noise about and that's the fact that the federal government would take over state elections, asking the courts to invoke a provision, putting Georgia elections under federal supervision.

Is that at all likely here?

LITMAN: Well, again, it's just whether the suit will succeed. Kim, that's basically straightforward it follows, if, in fact, the law goes afoul of Voting Rights Act Section Two. You could call it the Feds taking over or call it simply showing that it violated federal law. And a state can't violate federal law, so that just follows as night from day.

I do want to double back quickly to the point you made at the top, though, because the department came out of the blocks with this lawsuit today under Section Two, knowing that next week, almost certainly not later than next week, the Supreme Court will issue a decision in two cases involving Section Two.

And it's possible that the Supreme Court will announce new or different standards in Section Two that will make the department's road steeper even to climb. They are doing it in advance of that, rather than in arrears, in order to at least try to strike the blow before it's potentially disempowered.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, I'm intrigued about how that will turn out. And especially we're talking about the judges there, we're talking about a Supreme Court, which recently hasn't been all that friendly to voting rights arguments.

LITMAN: Correct.

BRUNHUBER: And that was before it tilted even further to the Right.

LITMAN: Yes, that's exactly right. And remember, this is the court who, just as you said, already gutted the most important provision of the Voting Rights Act, Section Five, and now it's poised to gut -- or at least substantially change -- the remaining tool that the department is now invoking.

BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much for joining us, Harry Litman, always appreciate your insights.

LITMAN: Thank you, Kim, good to be here.


BRUNHUBER: A historic department store has had a facelift. The reopening of a Paris landmark -- ahead. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: A historic department store in Paris, which fell into disrepair but harkens to a bygone era of elegance, is reopening after 16 years. CNN's Jim Bittermann takes us inside the newly renovated La Samaritaine.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not every day the president and first lady of France turn out to open a department store. But then, this is not just any department store and it is owned by France's richest man.

This is a newly renovated icon of consumerism, classed as an official historical monument of France, a veritable jewel of Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture, that Macron called "an institution" and that the owners hope will become a tourist destination.

It wasn't always like this. La Samaritaine, named after the Biblical story of the good Samaritan, was one of the first department stores in France, opened in 1870. It expanded into four buildings, eventually becoming the largest store of its kind in the country, offering everything from hardware to fashion, groceries to home furnishings, a fixture on the River Seine in the heart of Paris.

It was a sales monster and passed into the vernacular with its slogan, "You will find everything at the Samaritaine," something historic capitalized on with an ad featuring King Kong.

But tastes changed, sales dropped and the building fell into disrepair, becoming a safety issue and something of an eyesore on prime Parisian real estate.

Still, before the new owners of the site, LVMH, the fashion conglomerate, could begin a $750 million renovation program, there was more than a decade of very public political debate and administrative red tape over exactly how the historic monument should be rebuilt.

ELEONORE DE BOYSSO, PRESIDENT, EMEA DFS GROUP OF LVMH: Well, you know, politics, when you have such an iconic building in the center of Paris, of course, it comes into play.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): In the end, the company won approval for what has become known as a concept store, attempting to integrate on one side a sales point for 600 brands, a dozen restaurants and luxury hotels, spa and offices, all the while restoring the highly refined details of the building with optimistic expectations of turning it into a tourist destination.

BITTERMANN: In an era where businesses of every sort are abandoning bricks and mortar, it might seem like a risky venture, investing huge amounts of money in restoring a department store.

But the directors of the Samaritaine project are confident or, at least, hopeful, that the iconic nature of this building is going to help it make it a financial success.

BENJAMIN VUCHOT, CEO, DFS GROUP OF LVMH: Oh, bricks and mortar is definitely not finished and this is a demonstration that, you know we can still make big things happen and really deliver something outstanding that is differentiating and a true answer (ph) to choice.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): So, finally, consumers still can find everything at the renovated Samaritaine. It's just that LVMH has redefined the word "everything" -- Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


BRUNHUBER: That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber for the United States and Canada. "NEW DAY" is ahead. For everyone else it's "QUEST'S WORLD OF WONDER."