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Barr on Trump's Election Fraud Claims, It was All Bullsh*t; Engineer Raised Concerns about Condo Years before Disaster; Parents Need to Vaccinate Kids Soon in Time for School Year. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 28, 2021 - 10:30   ET


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The U.S., but very much a message to Tehran, a message to Baghdad to get these militias to stop doing this.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: That's a very good point. Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon, thank you very much.

Well, in an upcoming book, former Attorney General Bill Barr admits then-President Trump's allegations of election fraud were baseless and that Barr knew that. Barr told Jonathan Karl in this book that comes out in November, quote, my attitude was it was put up or shut up time. If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all B.S. We realized from the beginning it was just B.S.

Let's bring in our Senior Political Analyst David Gergen. David, good morning to you.


HARLOW: This comes from a former Attorney General Bill Barr, who went along with Trump's big lie in many respects in that interview with Wolf Blitzer, pointing to unfounded claims of fraudulent ballots coming from other countries, et cetera. And then we saw what happened on January 6, the insurrection. Should he get credit now for saying what the truth is?

GERGEN: He gets a tiny amount of credit. But he also gets a scorching amount of criticism. After all, what we now know is that Bill Barr, as the attorney general, one of the most important figures in the administration, along with Senator McConnell, the minority leader on the Hill, both of them knew this was B.S. to start with and they did not go public with it until early December.

Those intervening weeks was a time when the Trump forces put poison into the national discourse and convinced a lot of Americans, about a third of Americans still believe that Joe Biden was elected by fraud. That all could have been taken care of and we never would have had this circus coming after the election had they gone public early.

So they were afraid to for a variety of reasons, they didn't want to cross the president. Senator McConnell was afraid if they went public and said anything, that two seats in Georgia might be lost to the Democrats, so there was a lot going on.

I say one other thing, Poppy, we're now seeing a stream of books like this. There are 17 books in the works on Donald Trump and his presidency. He's given interviews to 22 different journalists for these 17 books. But this is one of the most important and most, I think, significant books to come out because it said so clearly we could have avoided the circus, we have could have avoided this damage to the democracy had Barr spoken up earlier, had McConnell spoken up earlier.

HARLOW: Yes, that is such a good point, and Jonathan Karl clearly, just from reading these excerpts so far, has done important work on this.

David, if we could, I want to switch gears to something that is critically important, I think, to everyone and especially to you, and that is the United States and the Biden administration and how it is handling over 18,000 Afghans who helped U.S. troops and diplomats on the ground as we prepare to fully pull out in the coming weeks from Afghanistan, weeks and months.

You have more than 18,000 Afghans in limbo. The question is what will the Biden administration do for them. The president said they will not be left behind. Officials say these men and women have been targets for murder by the Taliban.

And our Jake Tapper pressed Cedric Richmond from the White House on the details and what the plan is for them. Listen to this.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: These people respectfully, Sir, need more than words and promises. They need action from President Biden. When is he going to tell the Pentagon and the State Department, go, start evacuating them?

CEDRIC RICHMOND, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: Well, Jake, you know that this is a serious issue. I think that the president was very clear that he's not leaving people behind. But if you're asking us to give you numbers, locations and details and timing, we're not necessarily going to do that because of the sensitivity of the information.


HARLOW: You tweeted, we must get this right as a nation.


HARLOW: David, what -- as someone who has advised four presidents before, how would you advise President Biden and his team on this? GERGEN: Light fuses to get things in motion. We only have two to three weeks, it appears, before the Taliban will be in -- be in a place where it could begin slaughtering the interpreters who helped us throughout the war and saved so many American lives. We have a moral responsibility to them, 18,000 there. There are 53,000 members of the families associated with the interpreters.

The process of giving them visas to get out is bogged down in bureaucracy. About a thousand a week are going through the bureaucracy with 18,000 plus these 53,000 waiting to do it, you cannot let this go on any longer. It is time to make a decision and to say, we're not just going to do the visas, we're going to evacuate people.


We're going to take them to places, like Guam, and other places where they're safe, and then we can process them and figure out who can come into the country and who can't.

But the moral imperative today is to save the lives of the people who saved the lives of American soldiers.

HARLOW: And not just the 18,000, as you're mentioning. More than 50,000 --

GERGEN: Of course. And I realize -- yes. Yes, I'm sorry.

HARLOW: You believe it is necessary for the Biden administration to evacuate all of them?

GERGEN: I do. And if you look at the members of the Congress on the Hill are now pressing for this. Seth Moulton happens to be a dear friend who is in the House and he's been making the argument, and many are agreeing with it now, they ought to go to Guam. That's the place it's easiest to get them to. But there has been no sense of urgency in the administration. People keep saying, yes, we'll do it, we'll do it, but it doesn't happen. And time now, as I say, is ticking down.

And I just can't tell you, we will -- if we don't do this, if we let those people be slaughtered, we will look back upon this as one of the most sorted chapters in American history. We have to act. And I think there is plenty of congressional support for the president.

The word is that the White House is somewhat concerned about the word, evacuate, because it reminds people of in Saigon, going off the roof. Call it whatever you want. It is accelerated departure. And it is safety and it is morally responsible.

HARLOW: David Gergen, thank you, as always, for being here but especially for shining a light on this topic. We will stay on it. I promise.

GERGEN: Thank you, terrific.

HARLOW: Still ahead, the sudden collapse of that condominium in building in Surfside, Florida, has residents of other sister buildings worried about their safety as well. Up next I will speak with a Miami- Dade official about potential legislation that he says could prevent, maybe, another tragedy like this.



HARLOW: Well, the collapse of the Champlain Towers South is shocking and sudden, a tragedy may have been years in the making. A 2018 report warned of structural damage that needed to be addressed in that building. These are some of the pictures from this report done by a consulting firm, again, three years ago. It is unclear, though, how much, if any, work had been done to make those suggested repairs or whether the issues in that report contributed to the disaster.

Now, officials across South Florida are taking steps to try to prevent whatever caused this once. They do have those answers. One of them is Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Chairman of Miami-Dade Board of Commissioners. Chairman Diaz, thank you for being with us this morning.

JOSE "PEPE" DIAZ, CHAIRMAN, MIAMI-DADE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS: Poppy, thank you so much for allowing me to be with you here.

HARLOW: I would like to begin with that report. In addition to those photos we just showed, it found major structural damage, that is a quote. They said many of the previous garage concrete repairs were failing. They were very concerned about a lack of effective waterproofing on pool deck that extended beyond that. The report did not say that the building was at risk of imminent collapse but it did say these repairs need to be fixed in a timely manner. That didn't happen. Did you ever see this report? Did you and your team ever know it existed before this week?

DIAZ: No, we have not. It is -- first of all, it is in a different -- it is in a city of Surfside, and in the city of Surfside, they have their own department as the county has theirs. It is a very big department. So it is Surfside's former department, but they're the ones responsible for all of these issues in the 40-year report and so on.

So, we are waiting for the investigations that are taking place slowly because our first thing right now is rescuing people. That is the first thing. At the same time, we've ordered to look at buildings of the same type of stature to look at their structure and to look at their situation, especially in a 40-year review. That is stuff that we're doing as we speak. But we don't want to do knee-jerk reactions to things that we do not know yet, really what actually took place here. And at that point we'll be taking some very serious steps once we know exactly what took place.

HARLOW: I completely understand that. One of the key questions from residents is are we safe in neighboring buildings, sister buildings, if you will. I want to you listen to this. This is a young woman, 15 years old, named Nina, who lives in Champlain Towers East, I believe, speaking with my colleague, John Berman.


NINA LE TROADEC, WITNESSED BUILDING COLLAPSE FROM HER BEDROOM: It was madness there, there were people screaming, crying, all types of emotions there.

Every night, I go to sleep thinking is my building going to collapse. Like I don't think anyone should have to go to sleep thinking that.


HARLOW: What you could say to her this morning?

DIAZ: We are looking to buildings of the same structure. The mayor has ordered a review of all 40-year structures, especially those that are on the beach area. All cities are doing the same, as we speak right now, just to continue to check.

Also, let's be real clear, we have several of the top-rated engineers in the world, some that have come from the federal government, some that come from the state government, some that are from our government and then local governments. We are all standing by in a sense of looking at the future situation, but at the same time, looking at current possible situations that people are reporting or stating to us.


We're taking all of the looks that we need to. Like the young lady said, we don't want them to be fearing that they could be in the same situation. Nobody ever thought this could happen here in Miami-Dade County. Nobody ever could have thought that a building would collapse in the way it did.

So we're doing everything in our power to assure those that are living in structures like this that they're safe or not. That depends on the exams that are being done on these in the last couple of days.

HARLOW: Chairman, just briefly before you go, is it mandatory in your -- in Miami-Dade County right now for any residential buildings or, I suppose, office buildings, commercial, to report to the county or to the city any reports they get that recommend significant repair? And if it is not, do you believe that that at least is a step that should be taken going forward?

DIAZ: Poppy, I'll tell you right now that this is something that is going to be looked at in every aspect that you could imagine. One of them is exactly what you have stated. If there is a report by an independent engineer on this stating one thing or another, then we're going to be probably setting up legislation that immediately, immediately has to be reported if it hasn't been reported. And trust me, by the amount of reports we're getting on different structures right now, that people are stating and complaining on things, everything is being looked at as we speak.

HARLOW: Jose Diaz, Chairman of the Miami-Dade Board County of Commissioners, thank you very much and we're so sorry. DIAZ: Thank you.

HARLOW: We'll be right back.



HARLOW: So, the first day of school varies widely across the country. It really depends what state you live on. For some states, it's the beginning of August to the middle of August. And if those parents want their children to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before they head back to class, they need to act soon.

Let's go to our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, obviously, this doesn't pertain to young kids, my kids, for example, but it does to some of yours, so there is a big push here for parents.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It does, and I'm happy to say that the youngest member of the Cohen family has now received both of her doses and it didn't even occur to me, wait minute, we need to do this in time for the school year, because school year seems so far ahead. We haven't even hit July 4th to thinking about back to school seems terrible, but you really do have to think about it in some parts of the country, for example, Atlanta, where the first day is August 5th and the Atlanta public schools and in many other places.

So let's take look at a calendar and you'll see what I mean. It is a little bit sobering. So, let's say, for places like Atlanta and many other school systems, the first day of school is August 5th. If you kind of back time all of this, you would have -- in order to for your child to be fully vaccinated, this is kids 12 and older, they would have to get their second shot on July 22nd, which means that they have to get their first shot on July 1st because this is Pfizer and you have to wait three weeks between the doses and then wait two weeks for them to sort of take effect. So first shot, July 1st, oh, my goodness, that is Thursday. So if your children are going back to school, ages 12 and up in early August, you need to start thinking about this now.

Now, I do want to mention that many parents are nervous about these reports of myocarditis, I'm going to tell you why you should be much more scared of COVID than you should of the myocarditis, that has been an extremely rare side effect of this vaccine. COVID kills young people. It kills children. That should really scare you.

Now, let's look at the myocarditis. The myocarditis cases have been extremely rare. This is inflammation of the heart after vaccination. Most cases were mild and typically resolved quickly. In other words, COVID can do terrible damage, can kill your child, this vaccine will not harm your child and, in fact, could save your child's life. Poppy?

HARLOW: Thank you. It is such an important reminder. We need to repeat it over and over again. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks for the reporting. A record heat wave is hitting millions across the Pacific Northwest. Right now, nearly 20 million are under an excessive heat warning in the region. Portland, Oregon, saw an all-time high twice over the weekend reaching 112 degrees on Sunday. That eclipses the previous record of 108 set the day before.

Our Camila Bernal is live in Portland this morning. It does not appear to be letting up?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not until tonight, Poppy. And it is not just hot, it is dangerous, because a lot of people here just don't have air-conditioning. And you mentioned those records being shattered day after day. Well, today, we could see temperatures reaching about 115 degrees. Already, the county is saying that there are a number of people that had to be taken to the hospital because of heat-related illnesses.

In addition to health issues, you also have to take into consideration power outages. Thousands yesterday were left without power. Most of those power outages have been restored but many are worried about what could happen this afternoon when we get close to that 115-degree temperature.

And so many people are concerned because on top of that, you do have to take into consideration businesses that have to close their doors, food truck operators, for example, saying it is just too hot to work in these conditions. Hundreds were at cooling centers over the weekend.


And authorities say they're lifting COVID restrictions, those COVID restrictions are still in place here in Portland, they will be until Wednesday. But in the meantime, they have told people that they will lift all of those limit capacity restrictions at shelters, at movie theaters, malls, for example, anywhere you can go to cool off a little bit.

And, of course, we are waiting for those temperatures to drop tonight. That seems to be the only time when people will start to get some relief, Poppy.

HARLOW: Glad it is at least coming but dangerous heat, for sure. Camila, thank you for the reporting for us in Portland.

And thanks to all of you for joining us today. Jim and I will see you back here tomorrow. I'm Poppy Harlow. Wolf Blitzer picks up our coverage after a quick break.