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Bill Cosby Has Just Arrived Home After Prison Release; Donald Rumsfeld Dies; NYC Mayoral Race in Chaos After Test Ballots Were Mistakenly Counted; House Votes to Create January 6 Select Committee; Surfside Mayor Confirms 16 Dead. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 30, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Obviously, we will continue to follow that breaking news.

We have more breaking news. Just now we have just learned that former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld has died at the age of 88. This is according to statement that we are just getting from his family saying it is with deep sadness that we share the news of Donald Rumsfeld. We'll have much more on that in just a moment.



CAMEROTA: Breaking news now, former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld has died. His family just put out a statement moments ago. Don Rumsfeld was 88 years old. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has a look back at his life.

BARBARA STARR, CNN Pentagon correspondent


DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Let us never forget what this great institution is about.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Donald Rumsfeld holds the distinction as both the youngest person to ever serve as Secretary of Defense and the second oldest to serve in the position. He was Defense Secretary for President Gerald Ford in the 1970s and President George W. Bush in the early 2000s.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's going to be a great secretary of defense again.

STARR (voice over): It was his second stint in that role that which would come to define what Donald Rumsfeld was most known for. Driven from office by the Iraq war after being seen as a hero in the hours after the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. RUMSFELD: We have day caretaken a series measures to prevent further attacks and to determine who is responsible.

STARR (voice over): Rumsfeld was inside the Pentagon when it was struck by a hijacked plane killing 184 people. He rushed to help evacuate the injured until his security team begged him to go back inside. But soon, Rumsfeld would lead the global war on terror.

RUMSFELD: -- and active forces are deployed and redeployed --

STARR (voice over): In the coming years he of oversaw two conflicts, the Iraq war and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

RUMSFELD: We are in a sense, seeing the definition of a new battlefield in the world. 21st century battlefield. And it is a different kind of conflict.

STARR (voice over): Rumsfeld was left defending an unpopular war, the war in Iraq. Which was widely denounced as a quagmire with no clear strategy especially when violence on the streets of Iraq grew.

RUMSFELD: It's untidy and freedom's untidy. Think of what's happened in our cities when we've had riots and problems and looting. Stuff happens.

STARR (voice over): And Rumsfeld was roundly criticized for this answer to a soldier's question about the military's lack of properly armored vehicles in Iraq.

RUMSFELD: As you know, you go to war with the army you have and not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.

STARR (voice over): Many held him responsible for the Abu Ghraib torture scandal and abuse of detainees.

RUMSFELD: These events occurred on my watch. As Secretary of Defense, I am accountable for them and I take full responsibility.

STARR (voice over): And Rumsfeld would become known around the Pentagon for his so-called snowflakes. Memos on everything he was thinking.

RUMSFELD: There are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns. The ones we don't know, we don't know.

STARR (voice over): Born in Chicago in 1932, Donald Rumsfeld was both a college wrestler at Princeton and a Navy pilot. Skills that served him well perhaps in later life in government office. Grappling with and navigating through a complicated political landscape.

Rumsfeld's legacy began to take shape after become President Ford's White House Chief of Staff and ultimately Secretary of Defense. While defense chief under Ford, Rumsfeld worked closely with Dick Cheney forming a connection that would last a lifetime.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Some would regard him as the best secretary of defense we ever had. I would say he was one of the best.

STARR (voice over): But for many who were at the Pentagon that terrible 9/11 day, the most important legacy even as the building was in flames, Donald Rumsfeld stayed. Refusing to leave for a safer location. Donald Rumsfeld was indeed a controversial public servant but he never retreated.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks to Barbara Starr for that reporting. And let's bring in special correspondent Jamie Gangel. Jamie, your thoughts on this news.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: As Barbara said, I think what we remember a lot about Donald Rumsfeld for now is what happened post- 9/11. The very unpopular war in Iraq. Right now we are withdrawing from Afghanistan. That was part of his legacy. But I think it is, as Barbara showed those pictures from 9/11, he not only stayed at the Pentagon that day, my recollection is, he was helping to rescue people that day.


I know from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the two of them were close. They served together in the Ford administration. Dick Cheney credits his career in large part to Donald Rumsfeld. That Rumsfeld was considered by everyone who worked with him, very smart. A little different from those famous snowflakes that Barbara talked about. The quotes about the known knowns.

But I think that big picture what he will really be remembered for will be his final service as Secretary of Defense after 9/11, the response and then the controversy about going into Iraq. And by all accounts not being prepared for what followed.

CAMEROTA: For sure. And of course as Barbara mentioned there Abu Ghraib. And it was interesting though to hear Secretary Rumsfeld basically say the buck stops with me. You know, I think that that's sort of fallen out of favor lately in some areas of politics to hear a leader say I was in charge. These were my mistakes. I'm responsible.

GANGEL: Absolutely. Especially with what we've been through the last four years, it is -- he represents a very different time.

I think the other thing to remember is about Donald Rumsfeld is he had a very long career in Washington. He was a member of Congress. He was a White House Chief of Staff. He served in cabinets. This was someone -- he also served in the private sector. But this was someone who devoted a great part of his life to public service and to your point, when it didn't go well, he took responsibility for it.

CAMEROTA: Jamie Gangel, thank you very much for your thoughts.


CAMEROTA: OK, up next, the House is voting right now on a resolution to create a select committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection. What will the outcome be? Will this be bipartisan? Will Republicans participate? All that's next.



CAMEROTA: A massive mess-up in New York City leaves an already confusing mayoral race in more chaos. City election officials now say they mistakenly counted 135,000 test ballots in the Democratic primary.

Now, this started when the Board of Elections released new numbers yesterday suggesting that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams lead in the primary had narrowed. But the Adams' campaign and others questioned those numbers, and the board later had to admit it had mistakenly included those test ballots in the initial count.

CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon, thank goodness is here to explain this. So you worked with the Board of Elections. Yes?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. But I worked in New York City politics, yes, I was on something called the Voter Advisory Assistance Commission which was supposed to help get the vote out.

CAMEROTA: So you know all about how it works?

AVLON: Yes, and you know, the word snafu what it stands for? We'll let folks google that at home. But the point is this kind of corruption and incompetence is all too regular a recurring thing for the Board of Elections.

CAMEROTA: Because it's rife with cronyism?

AVLON: It is a patronage organization. This thing has been ossified and incompetent for its living memory. Going back I mean we've had New York City reporters and official reports going back to the 1940s calling this organization illegal, inefficient, lax, and wasteful. It's been called a semi functioning anachronism. With everyone having an embarrassing lack of understanding.

Those are decades ago. It continues today. You've got the mothers of former Congressmen working there. The children, the sisters. It is a no-show job. They have one job and they do it incredibly badly. And now it's blowing up in all our face because the questions hang around election integrity nationally.

CAMEROTA: Yes, this is the very thing we didn't need --


CAMEROTA: -- more questions about an election at the very time that Donald Trump is trying to poison the well of, you know, voter fraud. This is not that. This is just old-fashioned incompetence.

AVLON: This is old-fashioned incompetence at the worst possible time. And I will that, you know, missing that you have 135,000 test ballots that you forgot to take out is really a level of incompetence which is breathtaking.

But for Donald Trump and the Republicans to try to dunk on this as somehow evidence that their baseless claims around the big lie are valid is total B.S. There is simply no comparison. Not that they're going to do subtlety on this one. But the danger is that it further erodes confidence.

But this not a problem with the rank choice voting which is the election reform being put through. This is a problem with the Board of Elections. And it needs to be ripped up from the roots and redone finally.

CAMEROTA: Who is responsible for the Board of Elections? Who runs it?

AVLON: The state government ultimately. Here's the problem with New York issues. This is a New York City Board of Elections, but it exists under the New York State Constitution. So the mayor can't simply go in and clean house. I mean Bill de Blasio to his credit offered them $20 million to modernize and they said no. That's how ossified they are.

CAMEROTA: Can the governor go in and clean house?

AVLON: The state legislature working with the governor can redo this thing, and it needs to do it now. This is a national disgrace, not just a local bit of incompetence. And this is the time to rip it up and restart and have a nonpartisan system put in place.


CAMEROTA: OK, but in the meantime, what's going to happen with the mayor's race?

AVLON: So allegedly we're going to get revised numbers without the 135,000 test ballots as soon as later today. We will see if they show what yesterday's numbers show. But there are real fault lines here in the city.

The Adams campaign was very much ahead in the first round. Everything is questioned now. In addition to 124,000 outstanding absentee ballots. But it does look like, you know, the top three candidates, Eric Adams, Maya Wiley and Kathryn Garcia. We should know later today how this shakes out. But the confidence in this system has been broken by this total unforced error at the worst possible time.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, John Avlon, thank you for explaining all of that. Great to see you.

All right, just into CNN, the House of Representatives has just voted to formalize the Select Committee to investigate the January 6th Capitol attacks. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as you know, resorted to this move after Senate Republicans killed a chance for a bipartisan commission last month.

CNN chief Congressional correspondent Manu Raju joins us live from Capitol Hill. So who, if any, Republicans have voted in favor of this?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just two Republicans voted for this measure that went down mostly along party lines. It was approved 222 to 190, all Democrats voting in favor of creating this Select Committee, the two Republicans are ones who have been frequent critics of Donald Trump, the ones who voted to impeach Donald Trump. Those include Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

But there were 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the January 6th insurrection, eight of those did not join with the Democrats in moving forward. Some of them such as Tom Rice of South Carolina told me running into the vote they believe that this committee would be too partisan in their view, and they sided with the Republican leadership in opposition.

Now, this committee would be -- this is done by 13 members, it would be led by 13 members. Eight of whom will be selected by Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi is seriously considering naming one Republican as part of her eight. There's a wide expectation that it could be Cheney, could be Kinzinger. Both of them said that it's up to the Speaker to decide and signal that they'd be willing to do it if she were to choose one of those two.

Now, the question too will be whether the Republicans participate on this. Kevin McCarthy has up to five picks he can make. But Nancy Pelosi ultimately can decide if those picks are good enough. She can veto that. She told me yesterday she could potentially veto those picks.

And I just asked Kevin McCarthy on the way into the vote if he's willing to name any Republicans to this at all. And he dodged the question for a second straight day saying that he's still studying the select committees that are out there. Not saying one way or the other what he would do.

The Republicans are waiting to see what Pelosi will do. Pelosi has to name a chairperson for this committee as well. There is some expectation that Bennie Thompson who is the House Homeland Security Committee Chairman could get one of the spots potentially the chairmanship. But Pelosi will not say.

Pelosi also will not answer questions leaving the vote about whether which Republicans she might choose. She said that she didn't want to engage on that topic yet. So more to come on that.

But this committee, Alisyn, is expected to have subpoena power. It will have subpoena power to schedule hearings, and it is expected to dive deep into what happened on January 6th. And we will see how long it takes. It could extend potentially into next year. And we'll see what else they find -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: There are still so many questions about what happened that day. Manu Raju, thank you very much for the breaking news from Capitol Hill there. OK, so any moment now, Bill Cosby is expected to address the press

after his release from prison today. These are the first steps that he is taking outside of the car back into his home as a free man. We will bring you his comments live when it happens.



CAMEROTA: We're learning more about the people still missing in the Surfside building collapse. And that includes the woman who lives in this apartment with this haunting symbol of the tragedy, a bunk bed on the edge of what's left of a penthouse apartment. Many have wondered if a child had been sleeping in the bed before the disaster.

CNN's Randi Kaye spoke with a friend of the tenant who lived there. Randi joins us now. Randi, what have you learned?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, we're learning that the woman who lived there is Linda March. And she is a 58-year-old lawyer. She's from New York. She relocated here to Florida just in March, so just a few months before this collapse.

She fell in love with that penthouse apartment, penthouse number 4. She loved the views of the ocean. She had lived in Surfside at one point in her life. She wanted to come back. She wanted to reconnect with Florida friends and she was looking for a fresh start.

So I am told by her friends that she rented a furnished apartment, the penthouse was furnished so no children live there. But you can see in that picture there is still those pink and white flowered sheets that are on that lower bunk bed. So it really is haunting.

But the good news is there were not any children in that apartment. But Linda March is still missing. Her friends tried to call her and text her the morning of the collapse. They have not had any word from her since. I spoke to her friend Cindy Hinton, and this is what she told me.


CINDY HINTON, FRIEND OF MISSING WOMAN: Every time I look at that picture, we try to look up diagrams and, you know, floor plans. And what if she was in this room? What if she was in another room? There's a possibility if she slept on the couch in the living room. We were just all praying that, you know, maybe, but the luck of God that she is in another room, that she somehow is somewhere else and not where those, you know, the shaved off part of the building is.


KAYE: Of course her friends don't want it to come to Linda March being identified by a DNA. But that was a concern because she doesn't have any immediate family. Her sister passed away from cancer and her parents are both gone. So her immediate family is gone but know her uncle did make contact with authorities and has offered a DNA sample Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Understood (ph). Randi, thank you for bringing us that story. And The Lead with Jake Tapper starts right now.