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Dr. Fauci: Take Vaccine Booster Advice From CDC & FDA, Not Pfizer; Billionaire Branson Set For Space Launch In Less Than 24 Hours; Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson Discusses Billionaire Branson's Space Launch In Less Than 24 Hours, Possibilities Of UFOs; Haiti In Turmoil As Police Hunt President's Killers; Must-See Canyons Of Arizona In CNN's "Off The Beaten Path". Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 10, 2021 - 16:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

Today, as concerns grow over variants of the virus, there's also confusion over vaccinated Americans need or will need a COVID booster shot.

This week, Pfizer revealed it is seeing waning immunity from its COVID vaccine and announced it will seek emergency use authorization of a third dose in August. But then the CDC and FDA said, hold on, Americans don't need boosters yet and may not ever.

Dr. Anthony Fauci tried to clarify the situation.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We respect what the pharmaceutical company is doing but the American public should take their advice from the CDC and the FDA. The CEO, who's a really good guy, got on the phone with me last night and apologized that they came out with the recommendation. So there was no -- not that apologized about the recommendation, but apologized for not letting us know he was going to do it ahead of time.


ACOSTA: The CDC is also urging schools to prioritize in-person learning even if they cannot implement all of the mitigation efforts to curb the spread of the virus. The CDC says as long as you're vaccinated, there's no need for masks in schools. And yet one of the biggest states in the country is deciding to do its own thing.

California says all students and teachers will be required to wear masks inside school buildings regardless of their vaccination status. All this as 27 states are now seeing an increase in new COVID cases as experts are warning the highly contagious delta variant could cause many surges in places with low vaccination rates.

And joining to us talk about this is the former White House senior advisor for COVID-19 response, Andy Slavitt.

Andy, great to see you. He is the author of the book "Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response."

Andy, you're giving me flashbacks just reading the title of your book, but great to have you on. The COVID vaccines are the most high profile vaccines in decades. Americans aren't formally following its play by play like this.

So, is this type of disconnect between the government and pharmaceutical companies just a normal part of the process or is there some confusion going on here that needs to be fixed and soon?

ANDY SLAVITT, FORMER BIDEN WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR COVID RESPONSE: It's a normal part of the pro investments I think what Americans want is they want the CDC and FDA to be completely independent and not be influenced by outsiders including pharmaceutical companies.

The pharmaceutical companies can say what they want, they observe things, they study data and indeed I believe Pfizer is seeing some things in Israel which are suggesting that older people in particular are seeing immunity wane and, therefore, they want to get ahead of the curve and apply for potentially for a booster, but all that means is they're getting ready and you should also know that the U.S. government has purchased enough vaccines for boosters for the public should they be needed.

We're going to wait and see. The CDC and FDA to review the information, and they will let us know if we need boosters and they will do that independently as we should.

ACOSTA: Isn't that a bit odd, though, that Pfizer did not give the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci a heads up?

SLAVITT: Listen, I agree with Tony that Pfizer is a good partner in general. You know, I think in some respects, I think they knew what they were doing when they didn't because in a sense this is market moving potentially information for their stock and so they tend not to, you know, want to clear those things in advance.

So, you know, I do think that they generally speaking are a good actor. I do think their scientists are working to figure out how to make sure they can continue to keep us protected and so I wouldn't over-read the situation here. I know it confuses the public, but he think the public should recognize we have one source here and that will be the scientists of the CDC and the FDA.

ACOSTA: Right. Because people might think that these vaccines aren't sufficient if, you know, Pfizer comes out of the clear blue and talks about booster shots in this fashion. I want to get your reaction, though, to what Senator Mitch McConnell said about vaccine hesitancy on Thursday. Let's listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MTICH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I'm perplexed by the reluctance of some to get vaccinated. Totally perplexed by it.


ACOSTA: He apparently does not know what is driving vaccine hesitancy. I think that's fairly astounding.

But what do you think is driving it these days and do you think the Senate minority leader is being a bit facetious there?

SLAVITT: Well, look, good for him for saying that. I wish he would go the next step and talk to people who are in the eye of the storm in his part of the country and in the South and in the Midwest because they're being told by other people in his party namely Marjorie Taylor Greene that the federal government effort, the Biden effort to vaccinate the public is akin to Nazism.


And that's not her first brush with comparing stuff to Nazism but this notion that you should be more scared of the government because when the government does something it's by definition fascism, then you should be scared of a naturally occurring disease. It's really dangerous rhetoric and so I would hope that people would just, A, put a stop to that.

If Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn't want to get vaccinated, she should not get vaccinated. But what she's doing is essentially what's publicly acceptable anti-vaxing because that's not socially acceptable for her to say, I don't agree with vaccines. So, what she does is she plants these statements and these doubts, and I would hope that more responsible people and there are some, Jim Justice, the governor of West Virginia, has been very clear, he said, if you don't get vaccinated you're part of the problem. That's a very clear statement.

ACOSTA: But isn't -- I mean, isn't that kind of talk from Marjorie Taylor Greene just dangerous and it feeds into this vaccine hesitancy problem we're seeing across the country when you are making these kinds of comparisons to brown shirts and you have Congressman Madison Cawthorn saying if they come to your house to talk about vaccines they may come for your guns and your bibles and so on.

How do you -- how do you get past that noise and the parts of the country where vaccine hesitancy is high and these vaccination rates are low?

SLAVITT: You're exactly right, Jim. You're making it a badge of courage to not wear a mask, to not get a vaccine, to believe someone coming to talk to you about your health in the middle of a crisis is somehow taking -- stealing away your God-given liberty. That's not helpful. That's destructive.

We know that we have about 30 percent of the adults that have -- haven't gotten vaccinated yet. We know that about a third of them are seriously considering it and about two thirds of them are dead set against. The two thirds dead set against are Marjorie Taylor Greene's base and they're getting more and more cemented into this sort of world view and it's a dangerous world view.

God forbid they lived in another country in the world right now where they didn't have access to a vaccine. These are people who have access to vaccines. If you go anywhere around the world, if you go to Australia right now, I just talked to folks down there, they would -- they would -- I don't want to say they would kill, but they would do virtually anything to be in the fortunate position that people here are where they have access to free, safe, abundant vaccines and I think they are in real jeopardy sadly around the world.

ACOSTA: You were in the administration. Do you think the Biden White House should have pushed harder against this kind of disinformation from the get-go? Were you too confident that -- that, you know, reason would win out and that science and facts would win the day? As much as they should. Did they push back hard enough -- did you and others push back hard enough on this disinformation?

SLAVITT: That's a good question. When we got -- remember, Jim, when we got to the White House in January 2020 the number of Americans who said they were confident that they would take a vaccine was only 40 percent. So we got to work on it immediately and that 40 percent is now -- we are now at 70 percent for a reason.

One of the reasons is simply it's a great vaccine and very effective and has a great record. But, you know, we learned that unlike what some were suggesting that the people who needed to get convinced didn't need to get convinced by a politician in Washington or by a pharmaceutical company, they wanted to hear it from local people, local doctors, faith leaders.

So we began engaging then immediately with real information. You're right, we do fight back against -- we do fight against the people on Facebook and people on other platforms who put disinformation out and now sadly people within the Republican caucus as well, but I would say that we've done -- we've made enormous progress. There's more to do and there's no reason why everybody -- everybody shouldn't be on the side of helping save American lives.

ACOSTA: No question about it.

Let me ask you about the CDC guidance that schools should return to in-person learning this fall because of the delta variant, more than half of the states are trending up in new cases, combine that with kids under 12 not being able to get vaccinated yet for COVID.

Is this the right call, do you think?

SLAVITT: It is. I mean, through a combination of factors. First, that we now know that there are plenty of precautions that can be taken. Secondly, teachers now have the ability to be vaccinated and that protects them. Third, we know that the risk to children of something serious happening is modest, but also we can protect against it.

So, there are a set of layered mitigations that the CDC suggests that are going to have to be adopted locally to the local conditions.


But what we are saying is that in every case, you can say it's safe to send your kids back to school for in-person learning. We may have to make some adjustments, it may not be exactly as it was before just yet, but that is very good news kids and I think -- and I think we will be widely supported.

ACOSTA: Let me ask you about what Republican Senator Rand Paul is trying to do. He wants to repeal the mask mandate on commercial flights. I was just flying across the country from California, everybody is masked up and the airlines make you do it. Bad idea to drop those mask mandates on commercial flights, do you think?

SLAVITT: Look, bad idea for politicians to get in the middle of this because when politicians are getting in the middle of this, we're not hearing from the people who actually know which is scientists. He should step back, get out of this arena and let the scientists make their decisions.

The CDC actually studies data. He studies polls. He look at what his supporters who are quite anti-establishment, quite anti-mask, anti- vaccine want and he says popular stuff and it helps him raise money.

ACOSTA: But what about the idea of dropping the masks, do you think it's a good idea? Should people continue to wear masks on these planes?

This gets to this whole issue about confidence in the vaccines, people will say, well, you know, if you are going to make me wear a mask from here to eternity, you know, what's the point of the vaccine? I'm not saying that that is the case, but that is what some folks say, as you know. So what do you think? Time to relax that?

SLAVITT: Here is how I look at it, I look -- by the way, I'm not a scientist, either, so let's listen to the scientists and that's what I do.

The reason I think it makes sense to wear a mask when you travel is you have no idea who you are getting on the plane with and where they're coming from. The planes themselves are pretty good ventilation but I could be getting on a plane with people from seven different countries with who knows what variant. So it makes a lot of sense to just add that extra layer of protection when you are in that kind of environment.

When I'm in my own community here in California and I know that the prevalence here is very, very low and I've been vaccinated then I don't wear a mask when I go to restaurants or indoors or to a concert because I feel quite safe. So, I think that's why there is the difference. And again, it's not forever. These things are for an intermediate period of time until such time as we defeat this -- we defeat this virus a little bit further.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. We're all for that. All right. Andy Slavitt, thanks so much for coming on. Great to talk

to you. We appreciate it.

SLAVITT: You, too, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Take care.

Coming up, the billionaire space race about to get real. Richard Branson taking off in less than 24 hours but is beating Jeff Bezos worth the risk? We will talk about it with renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. There he is right there, not in outer space, at least we hope not. He's coming up next.

There he is floating in space. We will bring him back to earth.

And another brand-new CNN original series is coming, "History of the Sitcom" is bringing you all the stories of your favorite sitcoms. Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You come home, turn on that television, what do you want? You want comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there you go. Situation comedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laughter opens you up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you talking about, Willis?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We get to know these sitcom characters. They are your friends.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all share these experiences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laughter is a great way to deal with a tricky world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Discussing race in a sitcom you're able to take in new ideas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, hi, neighbor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hope that you'll have those kinds of relationships in your life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was revolutionary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laugh out loud funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of the great accomplishments of the modern age.

ANNOUNCER: The stories behind the moments we shared, "History of the Sitcom" premieres tomorrow night at 9:00.





ACOSTA: This just in, best wishes from one billionaire to another. Jeff Bezos wishing Richard Branson and his team, well, one day before Branson blasts off to space, Bezos has his own launch nine days later.

For Branson, this has been a dream more than three decades in the making.


CALLER: Have you ever thought about going into space, Richard?

RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GROUP FOUNDER: I'd love to go into space as I think pretty well everybody watching this show would love to go to space. I mean, when you see those magnificent pictures in space and the incredible views, I think there could be nothing nicer.


ACOSTA: In less than 24 hours he will travel to the edge of space aboard Virgin Galactic's rocked powered plane. The trip would make Branson the first billionaire to travel to space aboard a vehicle he helped fund.

And CNN's Rachel Crane has the latest on this new frontier in the space race.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The countdown is on and in just hours, entrepreneur Richard Branson hopes to become the first person to ride a self-funded rocket into suborbital space.

BRANSON: Astronaut 001 Richard Branson.

CRANE: A launch nearly two decades in the making.

Tell me how do you feel?

BRANSON: Well, I've managed to avoid getting excited for 17 years since we've started building spaceships and mother ships and space ports and all these things. And I finally got the call from our chief engineer saying that every single box had been ticked on the safety aspect and that I was -- would I like to go to space? I hit the roof. I was so excited.

CRANE: The Virgin Galactic rocked powered space plane is set to take off tomorrow from New Mexico. [16:20:00]

The mother ship will release the spaceship at around 40,000 feet. The rocket will ignite and take Branson, two pilots and three others on a 2,400 mile per hour ride, more than 50 miles up to touch the inner edge of space as defined by the U.S. military and NASA.

The crew will experience a few minutes of weightlessness before gliding back to earth.

BRANSON: When you are up there the spaceship will turn over and these enormous windows, you will be able to float around and look back at earth.

CRANE: If successful, the space baron will edge out fellow billionaire and world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, who is set to ride his own company's rocket into space in the coming days. The two men have jockeyed for the astronomical bragging rights that come with being first. Branson has insisted that there is no space race with Bezos and that the missions are different.

BRANSON: The kind of experience you're going to get with the two companies are almost as different as talk and tea. So, we don't see ourselves as a direct competitor.

ANNOUNCER: Two, one.

CRANE: While Bezos' flight will be after Branson's, his rocket system New Shepherd will go even higher, past the Karman Line, which is the altitude internationally recognized to be the demarcation of space. His company blue origin taking a shot at Branson's trip saying their rocket was, quote, designed to fly above the Karman Line, so none of our astronauts have an asterisks next to their name.

LEROY CHIAO, RETIRED NASA ASTRONAUT: If you fly 50 miles or 62 miles you are in space. You won't notice the difference between those 12 miles. Neither of these vehicles go into orbit, by the way. They touch space and then they come right back down.

CRANE: Both space companies have had successful suborbital test flights over the past decade. But with space travel comes inherent risk. In 2014, a co-pilot for Virgin Galactic was killed during a test flight of the previous model of their spacecraft.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like t o say you can do risky things safely if you know the risks you're taking, you know the controls you have in place and you verify that they are active and we do just that. I don't think the risk of this flight is high, it's not zero.

ANOUNCER: Two, one, zero, and liftoff.

CRANE: In the ten years since the launch of Atlantis, NASA's final space shuttle mission, the privatization of spaceflight has quickly expanded. Today the commercial aerospace company SpaceX founded by yet another billionaire Elon Musk regularly takes NASA astronauts and supplies into orbit at a fraction of the cost of the space shuttle. So far, NASA has been supportive of the billionaire's endeavors especially after the successes of SpaceX.

BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: We are seeing the result of these billionaires that you call them putting their wealth into the research and development of a space program. We're seeing a lot of advancing of technology which is good for our country. It's good for building American jobs as well.

CRANE: If tomorrow's mission is successful, it could launch yet a new era of space travel and the final frontier could soon open to space tourism. So far, hundreds of people have signed up for future Virgin Galactic flights, some paying more than $200,000 each. Branson hopes that some day will be soon.

BRANSON: I've had to wait almost a lifetime to be able to go into space, hopefully, we can speed that process up for many, many others.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Billion-dollar view.


ACOSTA: And joining me now is renowned astrophysicist, Neil DeGrass Tyson. He's also the author of the book, "Cosmic Queries: Star Talk's Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here and Where We're Going."

Neil, so great to have you here. And we know you're not reporting to us from outer space, although we love the backdrop.

Thank you for lightning things up here on a Saturday afternoon.

But if tomorrow's flight goes off without a hitch, does this matter to humanity's understanding of the universe beyond just fun for those who can afford commercial space travel? Is that what we're looking at next is people are going to fly up to the edge of space for fun and burn a lot of cash.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST: There's no intended science mission for this, but there's a lot of engineering that is being put on display, all right, a rocket plane, a plane that is deployed from another plane so it's not from a launch pad as we saw from the videos and then that goes to high altitude and then comes back and lands like a regular plane.

So it spends a small amount of time in what we say suborbital where it's not achieving orbital speeds, which is a very different thing for your rocket to do than to just go suborbital. I will say that NASA went suborbital 60 years ago with Alan Shepherd. So this is not a new thing for humans to do.

So if you want to sort of put it in perspective, it's new because like private people are doing it, a couple of billionaires.


So that's kind of new and interesting and novel, but the idea that you're going to send someone suborbital, we've done that before. I'd rather ultimately they got together and said let's send somebody to Mars. Go somewhere. Put a destination on the docket.

ACOSTA: Right. Maybe have Branson walk on the moon. Maybe he could try that next. We know Branson has never shied away from risks and stunts.

Here he is driving an amphibious car across the English Channel while wearing a tuxedo. He's looking very dapper there. Rappelling from a building while drinking champagne, he also launched Virgin Cola by driving a tank through Times Square. Our staff really went through the archives for this.

Branson launches tomorrow morning, Jeff Bezos nine days from now. You know, is this all about an ego boost or a rocket boost? What's going on here?

DEGRASSE TYSON: Well, it could be both. You know, billionaires have big egos, why wouldn't they? It's their money, you know. So -- and, like I said, it is at least advancing an engineering frontier. Those are some funky looking plane designs and that's always interesting to watch that unfold and how the design might change once they learn about what this involves.

And we all know that there's surely a future in space tourism. There is no doubt about it. You look at the waiting list that exists for those seats right now and you make the seats a little cheaper, the list grows. It's a highly elastic demand ready to feed that.

So I think what's historic is that we're seeing the beginning of an entire industry.


DEGRASSE TYSON: And I'm delighted for them, I'm delighted for the engineers and for the future of that economy.

I will add that they're launching from New Mexico. Space port. OK? It feels a little weird but is it any weirder than the first people who heard the word airport, OK? Just think about that -- space port, airport.

So it could be as routine as what time does the train leave or what time does the plane leave? What time does your rocket leave in the future?

ACOSTA: It's a step forward. And, Neil, of course, we think you would be a fun person to go to space with, you are not in space right now.

I kind of feel like my backdrop should have outer space behind me. I don't know if the staff can do this before the segment is over but I think that would make things a little cooler. But anyway --

DEGRASSE TYSON: Just to be clear, we are on Earth and Earth is in space.

ACOSTA: That is true.

DEGRASSE TYSON: So in a way we are all in space. ACOSTA: That's -- very good point.

DEGRASSE TYSON: Just to point it out there.

ACOSTA: I stand corrected.

But if Branson or Bezos asked you to go along on a future trip, what would you say?

DEGRASSE TYSON: Well, I've joked about this. So -- I've joked about it with Elon. Someone said Elon wants to send you to mars, Neil, will you say yes? And I will say I'm going to wait until he sends his mother and brings her back safely, then I'll go.

So right now, with Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson putting literal skin in the game, that is the greatest demonstration they can offer for the safety and efficacy of what it is they're putting out there.

So, now, between you and me they didn't need to do this because they already had a waiting list for those seats. Did he really need to do this to show how safe it was? I think he really just wanted to fly on his plane, on his rocket plane.

ACOSTA: Yeah. And you mentioned Mars. What is the realistic timeline to get someone to mars and if so would there be a way to bring them back that we know of or is it a one-way ticket for the person to go there? I mean, this is -- I feel like this is where all of these steps are leading us, right?

We're trying to get back to the moon. We're trying to take commercial spaceflight to the next level. What about Mars?

DEGRASSE TYSON: Well, it's not leading there. If you perfectly happy to say, we have a new kind of space tourism and you go into lower orbit or even earth orbit and you come back out, you can get that done in a few hours.

So, you know -- or stay in orbit, you know, ten times, that's a day. Mars is years. Who is -- you don't have that -- unless you're really wealthy, you don't have that much time for a vacation and still expect to keep your job when you return.

So, they're not the same thing. It's just a different kind of marketplace that is being tested right now. In terms of the future, will we put people on Mars? I'm a contrarian in that, with that question. I'm thinking, we'll never put anybody on mars unless there's very strong motive to do that, either economic or for security reasons, just to do it because it's the next step after the moon, I don't see that happening.


We didn't go to the moon because it was there or because it was in our DNA.

We went to the moon because we were scared witless -- can I say witless? Yes I can. We were scared witless because of the Soviet Union, who has the new high ground.

And they beat us in practically every space metric that there was, the first satellite, the first human, the first woman, the first dark-skin person, the first space station.

But we got to the moon first. We said, OK, we win. Fine. But that's what motivated us. Let's not dust that under the rug and pretend we only do this because we're explorers.

ACOSTA: Right.

Before we go, I have to ask you about this deal. I know you've been asked about it. We need to chime in on this. This government report released last month on UFOs, largely inconclusive.

Was there anything in there that moved the needle for you? We had folks who work at CNN who desperately wanted this about UFOs, to be alien spacecraft and so on. It would be phenomenal if it was the case.

We didn't get any kind of conclusive prove in that report. What did you make of that whole thing?

DEGRASSE TYSON: Look, Hollywood spent many a decade priming us to want there to be aliens or at least peaceful aliens. All right?

ACOSTA: Right.

DEGRASSE TYSON: It's in our culture, in our mindset. And I resisted that, I think, successfully.

When I see fuzzy things in a monochromatic Navy video, I say, I don't know what that is. I'm kind of OK just simply saying I don't know what that is.

Of course, that's what the "U" stands for in UAP, Unidentified Areal Phenomenon.

By the way, who is the government fooling? That's just different letters to say UFO.


DEGRASSE TYSON: Did they really mean UFOs? So


ACOSTA: Our tax dollars at work.

DEGRASSE TYSON: Certainly not me.

Anyhow, just because you don't know what it is doesn't mean you then know what it is. So I'm perfectly content to say maybe it's a glitch in the software or hardware.

People will say we checked the software and hardware it can't be that. Excuse me, every time you get an update on software it's because there was a bug someone had just found.

That happens continually, especially the more complex the instrumentation is.

So if I'm a betting person, I would say maybe it's the software or the hardware. Or maybe it really is aliens. I just need better evidence than that.

And three billion Smartphones are now in this world. We have crowd sourced any possible alien visitation that could arrive on this planet --

ACOSTA: We're going to find out.

DEGRASSE TYSON: -- because everybody has a video camera and a still camera taking high-resolution color.

You can stream that. It would be viral instantly. Cat videos go viral doing much less than that.

So I'm not as convinced that if aliens are coming, they will only reveal themselves to Air Force or Navy pilots.

ACOSTA: All right.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, thanks so much.

By the way, we were able to pull off the background thing. There we go. I don't know if you can see that that. I've just joined you in space.

DEGRASSE TYSON: What do you mean space?

ACOSTA: As you said, (INAUDIBLE) space.


ACOSTA: So redundant.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, again, the author of "Cosmic Queries." Be sure to check that out.

And thank you so much. We're smarter already having had you on our program this afternoon.

Thank you so much, Neil deGrasse --

DEGRASSE TYSON: There's a whole section of the book called, "Are We Alone, the Search for Live," if you want to get into the science on that. It's all there.

ACOSTA: We'll check it out.

Thanks, Neil. Appreciate it.

DEGRASSE TYSON: Thanks. ACOSTA: Coming up, the crisis in Haiti. Days after the president was assassinated, the country is asking the U.S. for help.



ACOSTA: In a country already rattled by rampant violence, poverty and political instability, chaos and fear are intensifying in Haiti following the assassination of its president.

Haitians are gathering outside of the U.S. embassy with their belongings in the capital of Port-au-Prince desperately trying to leave the country while a massive manhunt unfolds for more suspects in Wednesday's assassination.

Police have said more than two dozen people are suspects. And 20 are in custody, including two U.S. citizens.

CNN's Matt Rivers is live in Port-au-Prince for with us the latest.

Matt, what are you learning there?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, what you said is about the facts we know in terms of this investigation.

I think the bigger story is for a lot of people in this country right now is the giant mystery surrounding exactly what happened here. We don't have motivation. We don't have who started this assassination attempt.

Those are the answer the people are wanting to hear.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Haitian police wasting no time --


RIVERS: -- as the countrywide manhunt for the final suspects in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise intensifies.

Less than 48 hours after his murder, authorities released details about the suspects, some of whom they came are in this video.

Police say there are a total of 28 people involved in the attack. Three were killed, 20 are in custody, and now they're looking for the final five.

Authorities say they have identified at least 18 of the arrested suspects as Colombians and two as Haiti- Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: DEA operation. Everybody stand down.

RIVERS: This audio recording, that CNN has not been able to independently verify, allegedly captures the moment when the assassins gained access to the private presidential residence the night of the attack.

Officials say the men posed as U.S. Drug Enforcement agents to get in.


As police cleaned up the scene of the shootout they had with some of the assassins, all that remains, burned-out cars, bullet holes and bloodstains.

(on camera): So this is all that's left of one of the cars that officials say suspects in this assassination were using when they engaged in a shootout with police.

This car as well was involved. And you can see a bullet hole here that was left over as a result of that shootout.

(voice-over): The aftermath of that night shaking the country's already fragile political state. Confusion abounds over who is actually in charge.

In the hours after Moise's murder, Haiti's interim prime minster, Claude Joseph, assumed power and took command of the police and military, declaring a, quote, "state of siege," temporarily putting the country under martial law.

Experts say it's not clear if he can do that.

But Moise appointed a new prime minster just days before he died, Ariel Henry, who was supposed to be sworn in this week.

Henry says he should be the one leading the mourning nation right now, though it looks unlikely Joseph will step aside.

CLAUDE JOSEPH, ACTING HAITIAN PRIME MINISTER: The constitution is clear, I have to organize elections and actually pass the power to someone else who is elected.


RIVERS: Now just to complicate things further, it was last night that the Senate here in Haiti, which remains the only functioning part of this country's government, the Senate of Haiti elected its president, the Senate president to serve as in term president of this entire country here in Haiti.

Although, that hasn't become official yet.

It's not clear exactly who will support him, Jim, exactly what kind of political strife will be borne out of that.

A very complicated power vacuum right now here in Haiti.

ACOSTA: And, Matt, officials in Haiti are asking for additional assistance from the U.S. and the United Nations to help get to the bottom of what happened.

Any word on what the U.S. is planning to do at this point?

RIVERS: At this point, the U.S. is being very noncommittal.

The Haitian government asked for a limited number of U.S. troops to be sent, here around 500, in their words, "to protect infrastructure from mercenaries," as they call them.

But the United States, when asked about that request, did not commit to sending those troops.

We'll have to wait and see what the U.S. wants to do.

ACOSTA: Obviously, the administration is keeping a close eye on this and trying to be very cautious on what to do next.

All right, Matt Rivers, thanks so much, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Coming up, a small miracle in Surfside. How a cat that lived on the ninth floor of that collapsed condo building was finally reunited with its family.



ACOSTA: A devastating effect of this heatwave on the pacific coast. Shellfish are literally being cooked alive on beaches in western Canada.

Take a look at these images.

High temperatures are causing a massive die-off of mussels, clams and other marine life in western Canada.

A professor from the University of British Columbia found dead, rotting mussels with shelves popped open lining a beach near his home in Vancouver. The professor says he could smell the beach before he even got there.

And one piece of happy news from Surfside, Florida.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my cat.



ACOSTA: Binks, the cat, has been found alive near the site of the collapsed condo there 16 days after the South Champlin Tower fell. Binks lived with his owners on the ninth floor. The Miami-Dade County mayor says a shelter was feeding cats nearby and a volunteer recognized him.

Binks has now been reunited with his family. And there he is right there. We're happy to see that.

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, are celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary in the small town they still call home, Plains, Georgia.

The Carters are the longest-married presidential couple in U.S. history.

As sister, who played matchmaker, setting them up on their first date when he was a midshipman at the Naval Academy. They married on July 7, 1946.

Over the years, the turbulent political campaigns, their relationship never faltered.

The former president told the "New York Times" the couple has, quote, "just grown closer and closer together."

Jimmy Carter is 96. His wife, the former first lady, is 93.

We wish them all a wonderful anniversary.


And we'll be right back.



ACOSTA: This just in. The White House has weighed in on the two Confederate statues being removed from Charlottesville, Virgina, nearly four years after they became a flashpoint in a deadly white- nationalist rally.

A White House spokesperson just put out a statement, saying:

"As President Biden has said, there is a difference between reminders and remembrances of history. The president believes that monuments to Confederate leaders belong in museums, not in public places, and welcomes the removal of the statues today.

Among the statues removed were ones of Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

In the meantime, Arizona is home to many amazing canyons, especially the Grand Canyon. Here are some ways to avoid the grand crowds in this week's "OFF THE BEATEN PATH."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It's a difficult place to get to, but it's really worth the trip.

The north rim gets 10 percent of the visitors that Grand Canyon gets. That means that you have a little more space to find a place for your own and enjoy the canyon views.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just like the fact that it's less crowded. It's magical. It's just a whole different level.

MAX LEPEKES, GUIDE, LAKE POWELL PADDLEBOARDS: Welcome. We're on Lake Powell right now to show people a different way into Antelope Canyon that most people don't know about.

Paddling into the canyon, you get to experience reflections in the water of the canyon walls. It'll make it so you can't even tell what's up and what's down.

There's hundred-foot walls that close in as you get farther back.

This is the only way to get here is by paddleboard or kayak. So it makes for a crazy, unique experience.


This is the end. This is where the hike starts.

This is where it really gets beautiful.

It's going to get more narrower here. The farther we go back, you're going to have to duck.

This is the reason people come here, to see this carved out sandstone. The waves and the lines are ancient deposition of sand getting compacted into sandstone.

That's just what makes this area so beautiful, and so unique. And why people come from all over the world.