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Trump Org. Lawyers Meet with Prosecutors Today in Last Bid to Convince Them Not to Pursue Charges; Biden Orders Airstrikes On Facilities Used By Iran-Backed Militias; At Least 10 Dead, 151 Missing after Building Collapse; Some Nearby Residents of Collapsed Condo Fear for Their Safety; New COVID Rules in Place Across Australia as Cases Rise; Record High Temperatures Gripping Northwestern U.S. Aired 1:30- 2p ET

Aired June 28, 2021 - 13:30   ET



PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Pretty slim. Today's meeting is not expected to change the trajectory of the investigation.

Just last week, prosecutors informed the company it could face criminal charges as soon as this week.

CNN learned the charges stem from allegations the company was trying to avoid paying taxes on certain benefits it gave employees, like free cars, apartments, even school tuition.

Erica, it would be unusual to charge a company for failing to pay taxes on benefits like this.

We know the former president and some others have suggested this investigation is politically motivated.

So we need to wait to see what, if any, charges are filed and how strongly they are supported by the evidence.

Now, we also know there are charges that could be coming as soon as this week against long-time Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg.

The allegation there being that he was among the people who received the benefits where taxes were not properly paid.

This has been a long-term pressure campaign on Weisselberg to flip against the former president or anyone else in the company who may have evidence or dirt on.

But our colleague, Kara Scannell, is reporting that Weisselberg has made it clear he's not going to cooperate.

And at this point, Erica, our reporting suggests there are no charges at this point expected against the former president or any member of his family.

But this investigation is active and ongoing.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: All right. Paula Reid, thank you for the latest there.

President Biden, meantime, today, hitting back at pro-Iran militia groups who have been blamed for attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken says overnight airstrikes on three different targets were aimed at disrupting and deterring further attacks on American personnel.

CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon.

Barbara, what do we know about the specific targets?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the question is why the sudden air strikes. The secretary of state spoke about it earlier and he got right to the point.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We took necessary, appropriate, deliberate action that is designed to limit the risk of escalation, but also to send a clear and unambiguous deterrent message.


STARR: OK. Risk of escalation. What's been going on is along this Syrian/Iraqi border, the Iranian-backed militias have been conducting drone attacks, according to the U.S., attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq.

And there's a good deal of concern that this is going to go very badly and there could be U.S. fatalities as a result of one of the drone attacks.

So the U.S. striking back at two positions of these militias in Syria, one in Iraq sending, that strong deterrent message, telling the Iranian-backed militias to stop it, basically, that the U.S. will respond.

Now, will this end these militias conducting these kinds of strikes? A lot of experts will tell you probably not, not right away, not now. They're very active.

And while they got a message, it's not clear that they think there's any permanent action that they're going to take to step back.

HILL: Barbara Starr, with the latest for us. Barbara, thank you.

Residents near the building collapse now fearing for the safety of their homes. Just ahead, we'll speak with a husband and wife who live in the sister tower to the one that collapsed in Surfside.



HILL: As crews continue searching through the rubble of the condo collapse, we're learning more about the victims who have been recovered.

The death toll now stands at 10. Eight of the victims have been identified. They are parents, grandparents, a couple married almost six decades.

CNN correspondent, Brian Todd, joining us from Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, just north of Surfside.

Brian, you've been learning more about the victims. What can you tell us?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Erica. Some new information we're getting this afternoon about some of the victims. Just a horrible heartbreaking story. They run the gamut in age and nationality.

Here's what we know. I'll put my glasses on just to go over some of the names and just some of the life circumstances of some of the people.

Stace Dawn Fang, confirmed to be dead, 54 years old. She was the mother of a boy rescued alive from the rubble but Stace Dawn Fang later died at a hospital.

Also, Antonio Lezano, 83 years old, and his wife, Gladys, 79. They were married for 59 years and died together in this collapse.

Manuel "Manny" LaFonte, 54 years old. He was a father and a youth baseball coach.

Luis Bermudez, 26 years old, from Puerto Rico.

Also, Ana Ortiz, 46 years old. She is the mother of Luis Bermudez. So a mother and her 26-year-old son, we know now died in the collapse.

Also Leon Oliwkowicz, 80 years old.

Let's go back one. Kristina Beatrice Alvira, 74 years old. And Leon Oliwkowics, 80 years old. Both of them confirmed to be Venezuelan citizens.

These are the eight people identified, Erica, that we know have been pulled out of the rubble, confirmed as deceased. Ten people now confirmed dead.

The rescue teams are really up against it still. They're working long shifts, 12-hour shifts, from noon to midnight, midnight to noon. Five or six teams of rescuers at a time working through the rubble.

[13:40:02] They've dug a massive trench that's at least 125 feet long and 40 feet deep. That trench is described by one official as being horrific. But it has enabled them to get to some of the bodies.

We do know some of the family members have been shuttled back and forth over the last couple days to view the scene, a grim task, indeed, for them to look at this and for the rescuers to brief them on what's going on -- Erica?

HILL: Brian Tood. Brian, thank you.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Thank you, Erica.

The collapse is prompting nearby cities to begin inspecting some condo building starting today.

The city of Miami is urging all buildings over six stories and 40 years old immediately start getting inspections from a structural engineer and report back to the city within 45 days.

Some residents of the Champlain Towers North building -- that's the sister building to the one that collapsed -- are understandably growing very, very anxious.

Both buildings are almost identical. They were both built right around the same time.

Inspections of the north building began over the weekend. They are ongoing right now.

Philip Zyne and Nora Zyne are residents of the Champlain North Tower. They're with me right now.

Philip and Nora, thank you so much for joining us.


BLITZER: I know you know people who live in the south tower. We'll discuss that in a moment.

But let me start with you, Nora.

How concerned are you, because you're staying in your building right now, even though the mayor of Surfside recommended, out of abundance of caution, maybe for the time being, to go someplace else?

NORA ZYNE, RESIDENT OF SISTER TOWER NEXT TO COLLAPSED CONDO: I know. For some reason, I feel some kind of peace in our building. It's very well maintained. We've never had any problems.

And I don't know. I just want to be home. And I believe we were told yesterday that it was OK. It was not mandatory.

Our daughter and her husband and family want us to go there. But I don't know. I don't know. I want to be here still.

BLITZER: Philip, how do you feel?

PHILIP ZYNE, RESIDENT OF SISTER TOWER NEXT TO COLLAPSED CONDO: I feel fine. Obviously, I'm a little concerned. You always want to be a little concerned because you don't know.

But as long as they do a thorough inspection and bring in engineers this week and next week and check everything out and make sure everything is really safe and solid, I'm not worried. I'll stay there.

I believe our building is a nice one. It's been maintained properly. I don't believe it's the same condition as the south was.

BLITZER: Even though both buildings were built around the same time, basically on the same ground by the same construction company?

P. ZYNE: Everything is the same.

BLITZER: They're about the same age.

P. ZYNE: And the design is almost the same and everything. But that's why I say I'm concerned, but I'm not terribly worried until the inspections are completed.

BLITZER: Your kids are much more worried than you guys.

P. ZYNE: I think they are.

BLITZER: Are your neighbors staying or are they leaving?

N. ZYNE: Some are.

BLITZER: Some have left already?

N. ZYNE: Some have left. Some are still there. Because, I mean, they've been there all their lives, practically from the time it was built, like maybe --

BLITZER: In the early '80s.

N. ZYNE: Exactly. So like me, I don't know -- Surfside is a beautiful city. It's a tight-knit city.

BLITZER: I agree. I've been here. I spent a lot of my life here visiting family and friends as well.

N. ZYNE: Right, so --

BLITZER: And you don't want to leave.

N. ZYNE: I don't want to leave. I'm going to wait. I'm going to wait.

And if I do, then I do have to prepare for it, because I have a lot of things that I would have to take with me.

And my husband works from the house, so there's a lot of files and cases and, you know?

So we're -- I don't know. For some reason, I'm not nervous.

BLITZER: Have they told you that if you do leave, they will help you make arrangements to live temporarily someplace else?

P. ZYNE: They've hinted at it. I've never gotten anything definitive as to what they're going to do. Nobody has come to us and said, hey, if you move, this is what you're going to get.

But they said in a meeting that the city has said that if you want to move, you can move, but that's all they said. They haven't said what they'll give us in case we move.

BLITZER: I know, Nora, you know people who were in the tower that collapsed.

N. ZYNE: Yes.

BLITZER: Tell us about them and tell us what you're hearing.

N. ZYNE: Two friends, especially. There were three women in that particular condo. I've known them all their life.

Our children went to school together. We're a tight community from Epiphany. It's a Catholic church in the south.

So we've known each other. Went to elementary school, you know, high school. And I knew them.

And I knew they were there. She used to use that as a summer place to come and enjoy it. And I haven't heard from her.

BLITZER: Have you been speaking to family members, friends of theirs?

N. ZYNE: No. No, they're not communicating. They're privately staying.

My daughter is communicating with the youngest one, and, you know, holding onto hope.


BLITZER: -- the kids.

N. ZYNE: The kids, yes.


N. ZYNE: The younger's daughter, which is my daughter's friend.

It's very sad. Very sad.


BLITZER: How many years, Philip, have you guys been living here? P. ZYNE: We bought the building about 12 years ago. For the first six

years, it was a weekend or summer place to stay. But then about six years ago, we moved back and have been living there permanently.

BLITZER: No more snowbirds or anything like that?

P. ZYNE: No, no. Not anymore. I used to have an office in Orlando also. I just closed that up. I'm basically just working down here now.

BLITZER: So what's your bottom-line message? And I'll ask you both to wrap it up.

But what's your bottom-line message to folks watching?

P. ZYNE: If they're in our building, they have to make their decision. I can't make it for them.

I feel safe there, but I tell them, encourage the board, the association, the city, the county, the state, everybody to get the results of that forensic structural engineering examination right away.

And then once we know that, then we can decide whether we stay or go.

BLITZER: Nora, what's your message?

N. ZYNE: The same thing. I share my husband's message.

And I think we should be more diligent in checking our buildings. What we used to take for granted, that we thought oh, it's all right, it turned out to be not.

BLITZER: I assume both of you are walking around the structure, the ground level of your building to see if there are cracks --

N. ZYNE: Oh, yes, yes.

BLITZER: -- or anything like that.

N. ZYNE: We had people from the city do that.

BLITZER: Yes. It's one thing for people of the city --


N. ZYNE: No, we are hiring --

P. ZYNE: We need our own engineer as well as the city and the county, and we'll see if they all agree. That's the main thing.

N. ZYNE: And pray for the souls.

BLITZER: Good luck.

Let's pray for miracles.


BLITZER: That's all we can do at this point.

N. ZYNE: I know.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Good luck to you.

N. ZYNE: Thank you.

BLITZER: I hope you find your friends.

N. ZYNE: I hope so, too.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

N. ZYNE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Philip and Nora, I appreciate it very much.

Erica, back to you.

HILL: Wolf, some other headlines today. With a surge in cases related to that COVID-19 Delta variant, now forcing the city of Sydney, Australia, into another lockdown. We'll take you there, next.



HILL: Australia's prime minister is announcing new coronavirus vaccination policies, calling the Delta variant far more difficult than previous strains.

Many cities, including Sydney, are under lockdown for the next two weeks after a spike in cases.

CNN's Angus Watson is in Sydney with more on the restrictions.


ANGUS WATSON, CNN PRODUCER: Communities across Australia facing rare coronavirus outbreaks, fueled by the Delta variant.

Australia, since the pandemic began, has done well at quashing these outbreaks when they arise. But now the Delta variant has authorities more concerned.

So concerned that their contact tracers aren't able to keep up with the community here in Sydney where, for the next two weeks, social distancing restrictions have become a necessity.

Authorities telling people not to leave your home unless it's absolutely necessary.

One of those reasons to leave your home? To get tested for the virus. Like what's happening at this mass testing center behind me.

Across the state at testing centers like these, over 58,000 people turned up to get tested on Sunday. Just 18 positive COVID-19 results from that over 58,000 number, which authorities say is a good thing.

But they'll be watching those numbers very carefully over the next couple of weeks as people are forced to stay at home.

One of the reasons they're so nervous, because not enough Australians have been vaccinated for these lockdowns to become a thing of the past. Just under 5 percent of Australians are fully vaccinated.

The problem is both a supply and a hesitancy issue. Australia bet big on the AstraZeneca vaccine, the only vaccine that's being produced domestically here.

But the problem with that, as we know, that very rare chance of patients developing a blood clot.

Two people have sadly died in Australia of is that complication. That's led health authorities to say that only people over the age of 60 should be getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The rest need to be getting Pfizer. The problem, there are very few Pfizer doses available.

Angus Watson, CNN, Sydney, Australia.


HILL: Back in the U.S., a record-breaking heat wave is now gripping the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday, a scorching 112 degrees in Portland, Oregon, and it's supposed to get even hotter today.

CNN's Camila Bernal is there.

People in Portland, it's not just the heat. It's that this area of the country so rarely deals with temperatures like this. That really adds to the danger.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is so dangerous, because it could be deadlier, Erica.

And we were told that 43 people over the weekend had been taken to the emergency room or a clinic because of heat-related illnesses. That's about half the number of people they see in an entire summer. So it is concerning.

I want to go over some of the record temperatures in this region over the weekend. So 104 in Seattle and 112 here in Portland. That was yesterday. Today, the high is 115. Olympia, for example, 105 degrees.

So people are concerned. People are worried.

Here in Portland, for example, the light rail, the street cars, not operating because of the heat. Thousands were left without power yesterday. And people are worried about more power outages today.

Even the pools are closed. We were told a lifeguard had a heatstroke. And so just the locals not really knowing how to deal with this.


I spoke to Bri Oswald. She's lived here her entire life. And here's what she told me. She said she's never been more hot, or more -- just in general, more worried about the heat, over and over again, every year, just getting hotter.

She does not have air-conditioning. Many here in the area do not have central A.C. And so they're hoping to get some relief by the end of the day -- Erica?

HILL: Let's hope so.

Camila Bernal, thank you.

And thanks to all of you for joining us this hour. I'll see you tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

The news continues next with Alisyn Camerota.