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Rescue Effort Transition To Recovery Operation; Investigation Underway Into Haitian President's Killing; Global COVID-19 Deaths Surpass Four Million; Tropical Storm Elsa, Warning in Effect for North Carolina, mid-Atlantic. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 8, 2021 - 04:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to all you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Ahead on CNN newsroom, search and rescue efforts tragically shift in Surfside, Florida, crews say they will now focus on recovery.

Plus, President Biden faces growing pressure to respond to increasing cyber attacks allegedly from Russia. And this, England makes it to a major football final for the first time in more than half a century.

It's now 4 a.m. in Surfside, Florida, where authorities have made the decision everyone knew was coming but no one wanted to hear. The search for survivors in that deadly condominium collapse is now in the recovery phase. Search crews pause for a moment of silence after authorities announced the news 54 bodies have been recovered from the rubble. 86 people are listed as potentially unaccounted for.


The crowd united in prayer for the victims and their loved ones. CNN's Leyla Santiago has a report.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After 14 tireless days, the search and rescue effort in Surfside shifting to a search and recovery effort, a moment of silence held by rescue teams before the transition.

CHIEF ALAN COMINSKY, MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE: This decision was not an easy one, as our hearts still hope to find survivors. But our experience and expertise indicated that was no longer possible.

SANTIAGO: Families informed at their daily briefing with officials as bodies are more quickly being discovered now that the debris field has opened up after Sunday's demolition, officials say it is the right time to make the transition. COMINSKY: This decision was not based on any other reasons, except on facts that emerged during the extended the search and rescue operation.

SANTIAGO: Several survivors of the building collapse revisiting the site of the debris today, families being assured the recovery effort will not slow down.

ASST. CHIEF RAY JADALLAH, MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE: The only thing that changes is just the term resources are still there. The men and women are still there.

DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA MAYOR: Our first responders have truly searched that pile every single day since the collapse as if they're searching for their own loved ones.

SANTIAGO: Miami Dade Mayor Levine Cava visibly shaken as the mission is taking its toll on everybody involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you seen any indication from any of the bodies that have been recovered so far that any of them survived the initial collapse?

COMINSKY: No, we have not.

SANTIAGO: As rescue teams continue clearing away and searching debris at Champlain Towers South, Surfside Mayer is still working to a short its sister building, Champlain Towers North built with the exact same specs is safe.

CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA MAYOR: They're in there with ground penetrating radar and other tools to continue to assess the structural situation there at that building.

SANTIAGO: The buildings collapse has raised questions about whether other seaside residential structures in Miami-Dade could be at risk, 40 of them have already been inspected, only one found with a structural deficiency.

CAVA: There will be changes. There will be improvements made.

SANTIAGO: And as for the recovery mission, teams continue to work around the clock to bring closure for families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the chief and I have always promised to ensure that all of our loved ones are pulled from the rubble and reunited with their families.

SANTIAGO: Layla Santiago, CNN Surfside Florida.


BRUNHUBER: Now to Haiti and the hunt for the President's assassins, the Haitian ambassador to the U.S. says police have killed four of the suspected attackers and arrested two others. But the motive for the assassination of President Jovenel Moise remains unclear. He was a divisive figure who polarized the country. The Haitian envoy says he likely was killed over his beliefs, values and reforms.


BOCCHIT EDMOND, HAITIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: We can say for certain, those were professional killers. It was well orchestrated attack against the president. It's not a simple act. It's an act, it's a killing of the president or the head of state. Therefore, we will put all necessary resources to make sure that we apprehend them. And that's one of the reasons we call on the international partners to work with us, and to give us some more expertise and investigation, and to help them capture those people.



BRUNHUBER: So we have audio purportedly from around the time of the killing. Now CNN can independently confirm its authenticity. The frames you're about to see are black, but the American sounding accent you'll hear is from someone who reportedly claimed to be from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Listen to this.


The U.S. has denied any involvement. Our Melissa Bell is tracking developments. Melissa, what more can you tell us?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim, all eyes will be this morning when the country wakes up on what new elements emerge from their investigation now that they have two of these individuals they say in their custody. The big question, of course, what their nationality is over the course of the last 24 hours. What we've heard from various Haitian officials is that they were no doubt mercenaries, Spanish speaking and probably foreign and all of this has yet to be confirmed.

What we do know is that they've got a couple of weeks to find it out since the country under that state of siege essentially has its borders sealed, allowing the investigation to continue and as the acting Prime Minister said yesterday, in order to avoid the country plunging into chaos.


BELL (voice-over): The Assassination brings to an end the turbulent rule of Haiti's president Jovenel Moise believes the impoverished Caribbean nation in turmoil.

For months, there have been protests around the country demanding Moise stepped down. The President held on to power while the opposition claimed his continued rule was unconstitutional. His critics argued that according to Haiti's constitution, his five year term as president started the day he was elected rather than the day he took office. But Moise argued it was a year later that marked the true beginning. Both the U.S. and the U.N. supported his claim to remain in power. But there had been widespread concern when Moise failed to hold legislative elections in 2019, leaving the country without a functioning government and a constitutional referendum postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic still hasn't taken place.

Moise's presidency was plagued with a number of other problems. U.N. officials say the country has been rocked by an uptick in kidnappings for ransom and a wave of criminal violence in recent months, fuelled by armed gangs.

Thousands were forced to flee their homes as shootings and arson spread across (inaudible) in June. The continued political instability has left Haiti's economy in shambles. The COVID pandemic contributed to a contraction of nearly 4% of the nation's GDP last year, and a spike in COVID cases has prompted a new state of emergency. All of this leading to a humanitarian crisis.

According to the World Bank, nearly 60% of Haitians live below the poverty line. To make matters worse, Haiti is prone to natural disasters. The country never fully recovered from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that killed over 200,000 people. And in 2016, Hurricane Matthew left hundreds dead and nearly 200,000 displaced.

As the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has a long history of dictatorships and coups. Now the assassination of its president leaves the country's future in doubt.


BELL (on camera): Kim, you're quite right to point out a moment ago just how polarizing Jovenel Moise had been as a figure, as a President when he was alive from the very beginning of his presidency. His tenure was controversial, the character was controversial. And his decisions were controversial, and a lot of that pressure we saw from the streets of Haiti and particularly (inaudible) last few months, the protests against his rule were fueled by rising cost of living prices, fuel prices going up on a population that couldn't afford them and by a president that had come to Bauer vowing to stamp out corruption and himself found himself embroiled in accusations of being involved in exactly that, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much Melissa Bell in Paris.

An international outrage over the killing of President Moise came swiftly and so did messages of support. President Biden said the United States offers condolences to the people of Haiti and we stand ready to assist as we continue to work for a safe and secure Haiti.

And from the U.N., the Secretary General calls on all Haitians to preserve the constitutional order, remain united in the face of this abhorrent act and reject all violence. The United Nations will continue to stand with the government and the people of Haiti.

[04:10:15] More than 4 million people worldwide have now died from COVID-19. This latest milestone is a reminder of the devastating human toll of this pandemic. The U.S., Brazil and India make up more than a third of that total. And now a number of countries are seeing cases spike largely because of the highly contagious Delta variant. The head of the World Health Organization warns that despite progress, the world is at a perilous point in the pandemic.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, W.H.O. DIRECTOR GENERAL: Some countries with high vaccination coverage are now planning to roll out booster shots in the coming months and are dropping public health, social measures and relaxing as though the pandemic is already over.

DR. MICHAEL RYAN, EXEC. DIR. W.H.O. HEALTH EMERGENCIES PROGREMME: I would urge extreme caution in the complete lifting of public health and social measures at this time, because there are consequences for that.


BRUNHUBER: A group of top scientists from around the world say COVID- 19 almost certainly originated from an animal likely at a wildlife market in China. In their review the virus experts say after analyzing the evidence, there's nothing to suggest early cases that any connection to a laboratory instead, they point to clear links to animal markets in Wuhan.

Meanwhile, the latest forecasts from the CDC predict new use cases hospitalizations and deaths from the virus will stabilize over the next month. New infections have been steadily falling over the past few months. Those states with low vaccination rates are still seeing some of the biggest spikes in daily cases. And one of those states is Missouri. A team of specialists is being deployed to help healthcare workers there, was already reported the second most new infections in the country last week. There are so many cases, some hospitals have started transferring infected patients to facilities with better staffing. Authorities are blaming the spike on low vaccination rates and the Delta variant. But one noted expert had a warning about something else. Listen to this.


DR. MEGAN RANNEY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, BROWN UNIVERSITY: What worries me more are the variants yet to come. And every time this virus is passed from one person to another, it has a chance to mutate and it's only a matter of time until we have a variant against which the vaccines no longer protect us. That's the moment that I'm really worried for.


BRUNHUBER: Still ahead, disturbing new details from the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill, we'll share what the FBI learned when it infiltrated a so called religious group coming up. Plus, tropical storm Elsa isn't done yet. We're tracking its path up the U.S. East Coast and have severe weather warnings to tell you about. That's next on CNN Newsroom. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: The U.S. House Minority Leader is shifting strategy when it comes to the democratic led investigation into the Capitol insurrection. Kevin McCarthy is now finalizing a list of House Republicans to serve on the January 6, Special Committee.

Well, just last week, McCarthy threatened any Republican member who agreed to serve on the high profile panel. Now there's a good chance he will tap some trusted Trump allies for the job but there's also mounting pressure for more pragmatic picks who could bring credibility to their side of the debate.

Meanwhile, CNN is learning new information gathered by the FBI on some of the Capitol Hill rioters. An undercover agent infiltrated a so called Bible study group whose leader was part of the January 6 attack. Court documents revealed the group plan to build makeshift bombs and even discussed seceding from the U.S. CNN's Tom Foreman has the latest from Washington.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hot in middle of the capitol attack there he was, according to the FBI with a mask and big ideas. Fi Duong, official say, was part of a Bible study group in Virginia, which talks about making Molotov cocktails combat training for an unspecified future attack, and even succession.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And I think it just does show that many of the terrorists and insurrection as of January 6 left January six, believing that it was a victory.

FOREMAN: According to court records, undercover officers first encountered Duong during the riots. Then the FBI infiltrated his Bible group at a private home in February.

Those records say, Duong met undercover agents outside of former prison to discuss testing some bombs there that he had an AK-47 and five boxes of bomb building material and that he said he wrote a manifesto because if I get into a gunfight with the Feds and I don't make it, I want to be able to transfer as much wisdom to my son as possible.

Authorities say the so called Bible group also discussed surveilling the Capitol amid heightened security to find possible weak points. That's particularly alarming for police officers calling for better defenses around the Capitol.

MICHAEL FANONE, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: I would hope that they would be taking these threats seriously and paying attention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesus Christ, we exalt your name. Amen.


FOREMAN: Concerns about conspiracy theories and radical right activism taking root in church communities have grown sharply in the past year.

PASTOR JAMES KENDALL, GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH: It's easier for Christians who already have that belief system to make that jump over into believing that worldview.

FOREMAN: And these latest developments can only deepen worries about such rogue factions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there's probably more of that than we'd like to thank around the country.


FOREMAN (on camera): Duong has so far only been charged in connection with the January 6 insurrection and he has not entered a plea. CNN reached out to him about these latest reports, he declined to comment and his attorney has also decided to have nothing to say so far. Tom Foreman CNN Washington.

BRUNHUBER: Former US President Donald Trump has now filed a class action lawsuits targeting Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This comes after the company's removed Trump's access to their platforms in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot.


Now reminder tech companies aren't legally permitted to run their platforms as they see fit and may ban users for violating the terms of service, in the past courts have dismissed similar lawsuits.

Donald Trump's former personal attorney is running out of places to practice law. Rudy Giuliani lost his law license in Washington Wednesday pending a similar case in New York. That's where judges suspended his license last month saying he lied to promote Trump's conspiracies about a stolen election. The rulings are another blow for the former U.S. attorney and Mayor of New York City.

U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has made yet another Nazi era reference. This time relating to President Biden's push to reach unvaccinated people at home amid rising cases of the coronavirus Delta variant. Just three weeks after apologizing for comparing mask wearing rules of the U.S. Capitol to the Holocaust, Greene tweeted that people have a choice and "they don't need your medical brown shirts showing up, ordering vaccinations."

Brown shirts, of course, were the paramilitary group that facilitated Adolf Hitler's rise to power and the eventual murder of 6 million Jews. While her remarks are unquestionably offensive, they aren't surprising to congressional colleagues.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ELAINE LURIA, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: After visiting the Holocaust Museum, after spending time there and coming out to the public and saying, you know, I've learned a lot from this visit, I've reflected on the history and I'm going to change the words I use it. And I'm not going to use these references anymore. It's shocking, but truly not surprising to see that she's back again, using these references. And, you know, I think it's inexcusable, her type of language, when some people are hearing words like this from Representative Greene, to indicate that, you know, this is somehow equivalent to the largest genocide in history and that people are trying to do them harm is, you know, completely, you know, not helpful in our effort to try to reach as many people and stop the spread of the virus.


BRUNHUBER: A new restrictive voting bill will be before Texas state lawmakers who special session begins in a few hours. Republicans made a last minute move to add the bills to the agenda after Democrats blocked similar legislation in May. The new bill makes it a felony for an election official to send unsolicited mail-in ballot applications, bans drive thru and 24 hour voting while adding new requirements to voting by mail. Republicans in 17 other states have passed restrictive voting bills since losing the presidential race.

New warnings are in effect for North Carolina and the Mid-Atlantic states as Tropical Storm Elsa moves up the U.S. East Coast. High winds caused a tree to fall on two cars in Jacksonville, Florida killing one person. Heavy rain rock falling across the state and 1000s of customers lost power. Meanwhile, a suspected tornado has injured several people at the Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay, Georgia, worn out from Meteorologist Karen Maginnis.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Already during the overnight hours, there was a report of a tornado associated with Elsa in the facility just to the south of Charleston, South Carolina in the town of Edisto coastal area. We don't have any reports of any injuries but some damage reported there. There was one fatality in Jacksonville and at the Kings Bay Submarine Base at an RV park near there in Coastal Georgia, 10 reports of injuries, most of those considered minor.

All right, right now Tropical Storm Elsa 45 mile an hour winds, doesn't sound like it's very significant. But just wait, this is going to have legs. It's going to move up towards the Mid-Atlantic eventually on towards the Cape Region in the Chesapeake Bay Area and then towards the Delaware Bay Area, eventually into New England and still could see the potential for flooding. Even an isolated tornado as some of the bands with this will usher in some gusty winds as well.

All right, the flash flood threat all the way from Wilmington, North Carolina, right around Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, then to Richmond that comes up for Thursday going into Thursday evening, then Philadelphia, New York City, Long Island and eventually towards Cape Cod and for Boston with some gusty winds there, localized flooding, maybe some beach erosion certainly possible. Then we may see an increase in intensity going into Friday morning. So be aware of that if you're trying to head out, head home, get away from work it's going to be a little treacherous and eventually this becomes post tropical and moves towards the Canadian Maritimes. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Drought has reached a whole new level in California. Forecasters say the state had its driest year on record when its official rainfall year ended on June 30. During that period, California received less than half of the precipitation that usually gets California and much of the Western U.S., are already dealing with a historic drought. Forecasters say the low rainfall can lead to even more wildfires which are already on track for a new record in California.


Well, after two major cyber attacks, Russians are the suspected culprits and there's growing pressure on President Biden to respond, details ahead. Plus, resistance groups in Myanmar are preparing to fight a military that's better equipped and unafraid of brutality, coming up, an exclusive report from their training camp deep in the forest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their villages, young workers, and many are former students who protested the coup, and now believe that they must take up arms against it.


BRUNHUBER: The White House says there's been no official blame attached to a massive new ransomware attack or the hacking of a vendor for the Republican National Committee. But the White House emphasized it's ready to take action if necessary. CNN's Phil Mattingly reports, the evidence is pointing to some usual suspects.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden facing a persistent challenge now with significantly higher stakes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your message to Putin on cyber? Any message after your briefing from your officials?

MATTINGLY: But as a new set of cyber attacks ripple through the U.S., a message alone would fall far short of what Biden has pledged.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is meeting with his national security team, members of them this morning to get an update on cyber on ransomware. And we'll see where we go from there.