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Daughter Of COVID Victim Responds To Right-Wing's Anti-Vax Push; Trump Lashes Out At Fox News After "Associated Press" Finds Just 182 Of Potential Fraud Out Of Three Million AZ Ballots; Biden: Social Media Sites "Killing People" With COVID Misinformation; Four People Decontaminated After Chemical Leak At Water Park Near Houston; NY A.G.'s Office To Question Gov. Cuomo Today In Harassment Probe; Hundreds Still Missing After Deadly Floods In Germany. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 17, 2021 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[17:00:40]

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

A preventable pandemic. That's what doctors are calling the COVID situation right now as the number of new cases goes up and vaccination rates drop off a cliff.

How did we get here? Well, the President says it's partly because of social media misinformation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On COVID misinformation, what's your message to platforms like Facebook?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just tell people, I mean, really -- look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And that's -- and they're killing people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Here's the problem, not even half of Americans are fully vaccinated. And time is always on the side of the virus as new variants work to outsmart existing vaccines. Case numbers are on the rise in every single state, hospitalizations are up.

And as we know, a rise in those numbers can lead to more deaths. It's hard to convince the inconvincible, but some facts just speak for themselves.

In Los Angeles County, every COVID patient admitted to a Department of Health Services hospital has one thing in common. They're not fully vaccinated. It's evidence of what the data has been telling us all along that vaccines are working.

I want to go to CNN's Joe Johns at the White House. So, Joe, I suppose the social media giants are not happy with how President Biden fielded that question yesterday, what can you tell us?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Facebook, for example, did put out a statement. And essentially they said they don't want this to turn into a distraction. They said, they want this to be about the facts.

And they say the fact that they want to get out there is something like 2 billion people have viewed authoritative information they say on their platform, about COVID-19 as well as the vaccines. But the administration has been hammering away at the point starting with the surgeon general on Thursday, then the press secretary on Friday, then the President himself on his way before he left for Camp David.

And all of whom essentially are saying that the problem is not about the authoritative information that Facebook and other social media are putting out there. The problem is about failure to stop the misinformation that's getting out there because it causes so much damage. People believe what they want to believe, they get validated when they see the conspiracy theories on social media and go from there.

So, what the White House is saying you need to do, it's a multistep process. They say, Facebook and others need to measure the information, the misinformation that's going out there. They need better enforcement. They need to take faster action. And they also need to start putting quality information on their algorithms.

So there have been meetings on this going back, apparently all the way to January, Jim. And CNN has been told that some of those meetings with Facebook have been tense. So, they continue here at the White House to try to use the bully pulpit to encourage social media to get rid of the misinformation. Back to you.

ACOSTA: Yes, I bet those meetings have been intense. All right, Joe Johns, thanks so much.

A short time ago, I spoke to President Biden's Chief Medical Adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He says misinformation has gotten so bad that the era of defeating a disease like polio in this country may be long gone. Here's part of our conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: This information and misinformation is really, really a problem when we go out into the community and ask people why they don't want to get vaccinated. Very often, they come back with things that are really just not true.

So, that's one of the things that the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the other day made an appearance at the White House press conference and really stressed the importance of countering misinformation with correct information. And that's really what we're trying to do, Jim to get out there and with trusted messengers to get people to understand the facts about vaccine. The numbers that you mentioned, Jim, are striking. You can't run away from those.

Ninety point five percent of the deaths that occur from COVID-19 are among unvaccinated individuals. That's a striking statistic that --

[17:05:04]

ACOSTA: And you have people who don't believe that. But Dr. Fauci, people --

FAUCI: Well, it's the truth.

ACOSTA: Yes.

FAUCI: Well, unfortunately, that's when you get into the misinformation, Jim. People don't believe something that is absolute statistical facts that are collected, not only by the CDC, but by every organization that looks at this.

ACOSTA: And it's not just social media, though, the most watched television show on Fox News right now is outright hostile to the vaccine and this environment, do you think we could have eradicated polio or defeated the measles if you had Fox News, night after night, warning people about these vaccine issues that are just, you know, bunk?

FAUCI: Well, that is a very good point, Jim. If you look at the extraordinary historic success in eradicating smallpox, and eliminating polio from most of the world, and we're on the brink of eradicating polio. If we had had the pushback, for vaccines the way we're seeing on certain media, I don't think it would have been possible at all to not only eradicate smallpox, we probably would still have smallpox, and we probably would still have polio in this country, if we had the kind of false information that's being spread now. If we had that back decades ago, I would be certain that we'd still have polio in this country.

ACOSTA: And the Delta variant is a big factor in this surge, too. Let me ask you about some of the Israeli Prime Minister has said in recent days. He says that they are finding that the vaccines are significantly less effective against the Delta variant. Going as far as to say vaccines are not enough to beat back the virus.

Does that track with the data that you're seeing? What do you think about that?

FAUCI: You know, Jim, we got to be careful to remember when these vaccines were shown to be highly effective. They were highly effective in preventing symptomatic clinically apparent disease, not necessarily against preventing infection, which we call sterilizing immunity. They were quite effective in doing that, but not nearly as much as the 93 percent, 94 percent, 95 percent efficacy in preventing symptomatic disease. So, when you start seeing what's called breakthrough infections, if you look carefully at them, the overwhelming majority of those of people who either have no symptoms or only very mild symptoms, so the vaccines are still very, very effective in preventing severe disease. Because if you look at the risk of hospitalization and deaths, we're still well up into the mid to low 90s in efficacy against severe disease, which is very important. People need to appreciate the difference there.

ACOSTA: I'm sure you're aware of this, Dr. Fauci, a pack tied to Governor DeSantis is currently selling merchandise that says, "Don't Fauci My Florida." I hate to ruin a perfectly fine Saturday afternoon for you, Dr. Fauci, but what do you make of these beer cozies (ph), and that sort of thing that say, "Don't Fauci My Florida?"

FAUCI: You know, Jim, it almost doesn't even deserve a comment. It's just, you know, taking an individual who stands for public health, for truth, for doing the right things, to protect the safety and the health of the public, which I have done now for four decades, and to use my name in a derogatory way to prevent people from doing things, that's for the benefit of their own health. Go figure that one out, Jim, I have no idea what that's all about. That doesn't make any sense at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And joining me now is Kristin Urquiza. She lost her father, Mark, after a more than three week battle with COVID-19. She has said her father's only preexisting condition was trusting then President Donald Trump.

Since her father's death, Kristin has cofounded the advocacy group marked by COVID that works to combat COVID-19 disinformation.

And Kristin, what's your reaction to what President Biden said about Facebook? And I guess what we just heard from Dr. Anthony Fauci a few moments ago, I found his comment, pretty astonishing that perhaps polio would be around today if we had this kind of disinformation decades ago when we were trying to battle polio in this country.

KRISTIN URQUIZA, LOST FATHER TO COVID-19: I agree with you, Jim. When I think about my own father's death, I mean, part of what brought him to passing was disinformation, but it was also leadership and policy failure. And what I'm seeing right now is a focus on justice information and not doubling down on other safety measures, which we know work.

[17:10:01]

For example, you know, reinforcing and encouraging people to wear masks, as well as taking away unnecessary barriers to access to the vaccine, which we're still seeing in predominantly people of color neighborhoods. Like my Latino neighborhood, where folks are wanting to get a vaccine, they have the lowest hesitancy rate, but also the lowest vaccination rate against all racial groups, but are finding that their employers are not making space for them to get paid time off or are worried about potentially losing their job if they do happen to become a little bit sick, and need to take a day off.

ACOSTA: And that can be where the virus spreads. There's an astonishing amount of disinformation coming from right wing media. Here is just some of what these viewers who watch this stuff are being told. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The idea that you would force people to take medicine they don't want or need, Is there a precedent for that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I feel like a vaccination in a weird way, is just generally kind of going against nature. Like I mean, if there's some disease out there, maybe there's just an ebb and flow to life where something's supposed to wipe out a certain amount of people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's nothing more anti-democratic, anti- freedom than pushing an experimental drug on Americans against their will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: This is constant as you know, Kristin, day after day after day on these channels. What is your message to the anchors over there on Fox News who are doing this night after night?

URQUIZA: You know, my father was an avid Fox News supporter since the early 2000s. He was watching Fox News 24/7, 365 days a year. It -- Fox News may not have pulled the trigger on my father's death, but they definitely drove the getaway car and are complicit in undermining our public health response.

So, in addition to us needing to do more on access, and other public health measures, disinformation is playing a role as well.

ACOSTA: And your father died before vaccines became available. What is your message to anyone refusing to get vaccinated right now?

URQUIZA: COVID-19 is a disease to take seriously. And I encourage folks who may be questioning to reach out to others that you know, and that you trust to have been vaccinated and strike up a conversation to learn what it's really about. And then reach out to groups like Marked by COVID, to get more information and to be able to find a place to get a vaccine safely and for free.

ACOSTA: Yes, we've got to do something to get more people vaccinated out there.

Kristin Urquiza, I can only imagine what it would be like if your father could be with us today. I know you love him so much, and you take every opportunity to talk about him. God bless you and your family, everything that you've been through. And thanks so much for joining us this evening. We appreciate it.

URQUIZA: Thanks for having me.

ACOSTA: All right. You take care.

A quick reminder, President Joe Biden will join Don Lemon for an exclusive interview. Presidential Town Hall all in one here on CNN. It'll be live Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. The pandemic sure will be the top of this conversation. Be sure to tune in.

And still to come, it was state run media, so why is for President Donald Trump calling out Fox News? I'll be joined by the former Fox News executive who made that decision to call Arizona for President Joe Biden. You're not going to want to miss that, that's coming up next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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[17:17:42]

ACOSTA: Former President Trump in a rage after an Associated Press investigation finds just 182 cases of potential voter fraud out of the more than 3 million Arizona ballots casted last year's presidential election. When Fox News mentioned the findings Trump responded, we'll put this up on screen, "Fox News and other media outlets incorrectly side with the outdated and terrible Maricopa County Election Boards report no fraud found in the presidential election. They spew the gross misinformation purposely put out by the county and the Associated Press."

Just as a reminder, Trump lost Arizona by nearly 11,000 votes fair and square.

And here to discuss it is Republican Strategist and CNN Political Commentator Alice Stewart and former Fox News Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt.

Chris, you might recall you were the one who led the Fox decision desk to call Arizona for Biden on election night. Most other outlets including CNN waited nine days to make the call. You ultimately were fired by Fox.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FORMER FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR: That is true.

ACOSTA: Do you still defend the decision to call Arizona when you did for Arizona -- for Biden? And what do you make of, you know, what we've been hearing from the former president? What's happening out in Arizona right now, you must have a lot of thoughts on this.

STIREWALT: Well, the first thing is I didn't lead it. Bill Sammon, my boss, led it, and there were many great nerds, my fellow nerds who -- we were the best decision desk in the business for 10 years.

ACOSTA: We have a great one here, too.

STIREWALT: I think no question, and I love Harry Enten and much love for my friend Harry, but we were the best.

And the call in Arizona was, I've heard it described a lot of different ways, but what it ultimately was, was accurate and what it ultimately was first. And there -- I understand why Donald Trump's experience with Arizona call was difficult for him because it disrupted a narrative that he was trying to put into place that night.

They were going to claim victory, and you remember he gave this sort of a dirge of like a victory speech on election night in the Brady room, came out and said, we've won.

But when he said we won, there were one of the five key states, there were five states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona that everyone was watching the most closely, that you were watching, that your decision desk was watching that mattered the most. And when we flipped Arizona, red to blue, that meant that he -- Trump was hit under the waterline, right? That if he didn't have all --

[17:20:08]

ACOSTA: This wasn't just one of those blue wall states going on?

STIREWALT: No, this was a big flip.

ACOSTA: Yes.

STIREWALT: And that meant that he would definitely need Pennsylvania and he looked far away from home in Pennsylvania. So I understand why Trump was angry about Arizona. And I understand why he was angry about the call because it disrupted a narrative that he wanted to put in place so that he could steal the election.

ACOSTA: And our reporting was, at the time that Trump or his people were both were burning up the phone lines to Fox executives, Rupert Murdoch, the Murdoch family and so on, to try change this call that you made, that your team made. Did you pick up on any of that? Were you involved in any of those discussions?

STIREWALT: You can't pay attention to a partisan say on election night, they're mad. When they lose, they're mad.

ACOSTA: Yes.

STIREWALT: So, I was not unfamiliar with that. What was unfamiliar, and this is different, and this is the question for the Republican Party going forward. There were so many people, and I can think of Kevin McCarthy, I can think of Steve Scalise, I can think of Ted Cruz, a bunch of Republicans that went along with the scam that followed after that. And that genuinely surprised me.

What happened in the days and weeks leading up to January 6, after that, was truly shocking to me. And I have a low opinion of humanity. And what they did and how they acted to try to help Trump and abet Trump in this stuff, when they knew better, was genuinely surprising to me.

If the Republican Party can't acknowledge that they lost the 2020 presidential election, and move on to do the things that they have to do in order to win in 2024, this will be a boat anchor around their necks for a decade to come. ACOSTA: And it's going to make it even more maddening for election teams that used to work on to call these kinds of races, Alice. I mean, you know, the GOP is still not done with this paranoid delusion that they can up and the Arizona results.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, and it probably won't ever happen.

Let me just say this about Chris Stirewalt, don't be mistaken by his light hearted demeanor and his good nature. If he says something, it is factually accurate. If he gives you a result of an election, you can take that to the bank.

And I think that's really important to know, he probably didn't like to say the results of those election simply because of, you know, the narrative that was going on at the time. But if he says it is true, and you can look at Arizona, and clearly, this was a state that Trump campaign thought they were going to win.

But you have to look at the bigger picture. When we're looking at questions of the election integrity across the board, Trump, Giuliani and that team has brought legal challenges to the electoral results over 60 times to no avail. And now what we're seeing in Arizona, and also some in Georgia and Pennsylvania, we're seeing audits and we're seeing new inquiries, but that is not going to end result.

ACOSTA: Time change anything.

STEWART: And it's not going to be a new result. Because these are still the same numbers that we saw on election night and in the days and weeks to follow.

ACOSTA: And Chris, I have to ask you what you make of this so called audit that is happening in Arizona right now, this quest for bamboo ballots and so on is somebody who has called elections every four years. How naughty (ph) is this?

STIREWALT: Well, the first thing let me say is I love your heart, Alice Stewart.

STEWART: Yes.

STIREWALT: But the truth is that this is a dangerous delusion for Republicans. They're sucking up to their base to try to give them the things that they want. So in Texas, currently, they have a piece of legislation that wouldn't do anything. Turnout doesn't have a partisan opinion. High turnout, elections can favor Republicans and Democrats.

Republicans are working on this legislation, doing these audits, doing this other stuff. Why? Because they want to suck up to their base and folks in their base who think the election was stolen. That doesn't help Republicans with the voters who they need.

The Pew Research Center's recent comprehensive work on what happened in the 2020 election. How did Republicans lose the election? They get crushed in the suburbs. Joe Biden's numbers in the suburbs went up by 11 points over Hillary Clinton. It was a big defeat.

How does a party that is struggling with embracing vaccines? How does a party that is struggling with how to talk to these very voters? Talking about this stuff is toxic. This is a poison and it reinforces.

The way the Republican Party lost the Senate was by these shenanigans, this foolishness in Georgia. Two Senate seats, they lost them, they deserve to lose them. If they can't get over this and get through it, they'll lose again.

ACOSTA: And Alice, Chris mentioned, vaccine misinformation, President Biden going after Facebook, saying that they're killing people. What do you think of that?

STEWART: Look, I think we need to take the politics out of this pandemic and realize this is a health issue. This is a health care issue. And we should -- from the very beginning, the masks should not have been political, they should have just been taken as our health experts told us to do.

And I think it's really important that we stick to the facts here. And what our health experts are saying is that not only if you get a vaccine, does it help you in terms of your health, you also don't have to wear mask, and a lot of people don't like to wear masks.

[17:25:02]

And I spoke with -- living in Arkansas for many years, there's the question about a lot of these red states that have discouraged people from mask wearing and vaccines.

But there's also another notion that's going on. I talked with Mayor Frank Scott in Little Rock today. And he says, we need to get the message out not just to Republican voters, but to rural people in the rural areas of this country who are hesitant for vaccines, just from the standpoint of they don't like government to tell them what to do and black Americans are concerned about the history with vaccines, so we need to just educate people, Republican and Democrat, about the safety of getting a vaccine.

ACOSTA: And Chris, I have to ask you before I let you go. Every night on Fox, your former employer, there are hosts, Tucker Carlson first among them, night after night, spreading misinformation and fear about COVID vaccines, is he killing people? Are they killing people?

STIREWALT: Well, I would put it this way, they're chasing, they're pandering. Poor people with low --

ACOSTA: But you worked at Fox and you know, what are they doing? What is going on?

STIREWALT: I wouldn't over there.

ACOSTA: You were and you have --

STIREWALT: I wasn't on the opinion side. But I can tell you this. Who are the people in America who have the lowest vaccine acceptance rate? It is poor people with low educational attainment levels.

And it is, yes, a lot of red states and a lot of Republicans. But it's also a lot of African Americans. It's a lot of black and brown people. It's people of color.

So, this is the reality. What -- people who are doing this stuff, Ron Johnson, the Senator from Wisconsin, is engaging in similar behavior as you describe. They're pandering. They're not turning people.

Yes, they're making it worse, and people should get vaccinated, but they're not powerful here. They're pandering, and that's the sad part.

ACOSTA: All right, Chris. Alice, thanks so much.

STEWART: Thank you.

ACOSTA: And we will be right back. Thanks to Chris for being with us. Appreciate it. Good to see.

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[17:31:20]

ACOSTA: This just in. Emergency crews say they have decontaminated -- that's right, decontaminated -- 34 people at the Six Flags Hurricane Harbors Splash Town Water Park in Spring, Texas, near Houston.

Officials are describing this as a chemical leak and say the incident has been contained to one attraction at the park. Right now, the cause of the incident remains unclear.

And we will update you on all of this as soon as we know more. But wanted to let you know what is happening in Spring, Texas, right now.

Today, in New York, a source tells CNN Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sit down with lawyers hired by the state's attorney general's office.

It's part of an investigation into multiple sexual harassment allegations against him, which he has repeatedly denied.

Joining me now, Errol Louis, along with CNN legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor, Elie Honig.

Errol, do we know if Cuomo met with investigators? Has that happened yet?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's a lot of buzz going around about whether or not it is over. We believe it has begun but there's no definitive word about whether or not it is over.

This is something folks have been anticipating for quite a long time. And, of course, Elie will have some of the legal analysis of what it could mean.

But Cuomo has never had to sit down, in person, and answer these kinds of questions. There have been questionings swirling around for a number of months.

This is the serious stuff. This is under oath. This is where you can't really wiggle out of some of the direct questioning.

ACOSTA: Yes, this is, no question, a pivotal moment for the governor.

Elie, how would this question -- questioning likely go for the governor? And what kind of questions would be asked? What do you think they're asking in the room right now?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Jim, so, at this point, the investigators, in all likelihood, have all the other information.

This is likely the last or nearly the last step in the investigation. One of the investigators here, June Kim, is a former-SDNY prosecutor, former colleague of mine.

And if that is any indication, what you do is you take the whole body of evidence, all the different allegations, and you essentially confront the governor with them.

Each, individually, as Errol said, he is under oath. He has to be really careful here. There's no room for game playing or fanciful terms or phrases.

If he is going to sit down for this interview, he better be ready to be direct, to be truthful.

I would go through the allegations, one at a time. Does he admit part of them? Does he admit all of them? Does he deny part of them? And you measure it up against all the other evidence.

So this is a pivotal moment for the governor.

ACOSTA: And, Errol, the allegations range from unwanted touching to inappropriate comments, which, again, the governor has denied.

But I want to play something he said, back in May.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable. That is not harassment. If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment. That's you feeling uncomfortable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Errol, what do you make of that? I suppose, he may -- he may try to use that excuse, again. But that -- that's just wrong, actually.

LOUIS: Yes. That -- that -- not only -- not only is it wrong in sort of a broad-cultural sense, as far as where the country is now.

It is specifically wrong, according to New York policies that the governor, himself, put in place. So he -- you know, he signed the law that has changed the definition.

It doesn't have to be severe and pervasive. That was the old standard in New York.

If you are in a workplace where this kind of thing happens and you feel uncomfortable, that can create liability. That can create a problem.

And so, that, by the way, that -- that clip that you played led to a lot of questioning of the governor as to whether or not he, himself, had sat through the mandatory training that all-state workers had to get after he signed this new law into effect.

[17:35:01]

So, yes, he made some statements earlier on about he didn't mean to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

That might have worked under the old standard. It absolutely did does not work under the new standard.

And he, himself, has began to migrate away from that getting away from intention or what he meant or what was misinterpreted and just saying nothing bad ever happened.

That was his public statement. Here, again, something quite different might be uttered under oath, in private.

ACOSTA: And, Elie, at the end of this, a public report, I suppose, is going to be released. That's what we understand.

What do you think that will look like? And, you know, how close of a call might this be for the governor, based on what comes out?

HONIG: Yes. So we will see a public report. That's what New York state law requires. And then, it will really be a political question.

You know, as Errol knows, prominent members of both parties in New York State, Republicans and Democrats, alike, have called on the governor to resign.

Now, we have to see the facts. We have to see what's in that report.

But if they mirror what we know publicly, then the powerful players in New York State are going to have to decide, do they take the next step?

There's impeachment, under New York state law. We tend to think of impeachment as the presidents. But it also can apply to a governor.

That's going to be a very difficult political calculation for, both, Republicans and Democrats to think about.

Again, depending on the specifics of what we see in this report. Which I expect to be exhaustive and detailed.

ACOSTA: All right, gentlemen, thank you so much.

Errol Louis, great to see you. Thank you.

Elie Honig, we will be back with you later in the hour for your "CROSS EXAM" segment.

A huge rescue effort under way right now in Europe. Hundreds of people are still missing after floodwaters rushed in and covered entire towns. We are live in Germany, next.

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[17:41:25]

ACOSTA: In Western Europe, today, people are combing through what's left of their homes and businesses for anything remaining after severe-flash floods covered entire towns in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

The human toll is horrific. Hundreds of people have not, yet, been found or unaccounted for.

Look at the damage in this town, not far from Cologne, Germany. Water's receding, but home arose. Even cemeteries are washed away.

One official calling this flood a catastrophe of historic proportions.

CNN's Atika Shubert is there in western Germany right now.

Attika, give us the latest. What is the latest on your end right now?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the death toll continues to rise. There are still search-and-rescue operations continuing.

We were in one town today. This is a little town that's actually nestled into the bends of the river. And as a consequence, it was really hard hit.

The bridge connecting it to other towns was completely wiped out. The railway bridge overturned. And at least one house was swept away.

And neighbors told us they found a body in the hillside, in the vineyards there. So, it's really incredible scenes of destruction.

And while these are, technically, flash floods. Really, it feels almost like the aftermath of a tsunami here. That's the sheer power and scale of the destruction in the towns that we're seeing here.

The death toll in this area alone is more than 90 people. In Germany, it's more than 130.

Tomorrow, Angela Merkel, the chancellor, will be visiting this area, specifically to take a look at the devastation.

This area, in particular, is really suffering from a lack of critical infrastructure. As you can see, there's no electricity here, no running water.

People are camped out in their cars because there's really no way for them to live inside their homes at this point.

ACOSTA: All right, Atika Shubert, thank you so much.

Next, we'll answer your legal questions. Everything, from DACA to voting laws to that ongoing investigation into former-President Trump. Has the CFO of his namesake company flipped? "CROSS EXAM" with Elie Honig is next.

But first, a quick-programming note. The conflict in Jerusalem has been centuries in the making. A new CNN original series takes you back 3,000 years through six epic battles from the most coveted city in the world.

[17:43:50]

"JERUSALEM CITY OF FAITH AND FURY" premieres tomorrow night at 10:00, only on CNN.

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[17:48:38]

ACOSTA: Deeply disappointing -- those are President Biden's words, today after a federal judge in Texas ruled the Obama-era DACA immigration program is illegal, blocking new applicants.

Biden says the DOJ intends to appeal this decision to preserve the program, which shields immigrants otherwise known as DREAMers, who were brought to the U.S. as children, from being deported.

Back with us now is CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig, from our weekly "CROSS EXAM" segment.

Elie, this is such an important topic. One viewer wants to know: Will DACA ultimately survive legal scrutiny given that it was created by executive action, rather than legislation?

What do you think?

HONIG: Yes, Jim, it's a great question. And it's very much in doubt, now.

The judge, yesterday, ruled that DACA's unconstitutional because it was created by executive action by Barack Obama back in 2012 and not by federal legislation.

Now, it will be appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals as the president has concerned and then, potentially, to the Supreme Court.

Important to note, just about one year ago, the Supreme Court actually rejected a different challenge to DACA, on different legal grounds but it gives us an indication.

That was a 5-4 decision with Chief Justice Roberts joining the four liberal justices who were then on the court.

But since then, Justice Ginsburg has passed and been replaced by Justice Amy Coney Barrett. So we could see a different outcome.

Ultimately, Jim, Congress has the power here. I mean, the president says this is deeply disturbing, deeply disappointing.

Democrats control both Houses of Congress. They can fix this if they pass a law.

[17:50:02]

So a lot of this will come down to a simple question of political will.

ACOSTA: And this week President Biden called attacks on voting rights, quote, "the most significant test," unquote, of American democracy since the Civil War and urged Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation.

Another viewer asks: What legal recourse can the federal government take against states that are passing new restrictive voting laws?

We know the Biden administration has gone after Georgia. What do you think of that?

HONIG: There's really two ways to do this.

Again, let's start with Congress. If Congress had the political will to pass a law then they could preempt these state laws coming out of Georgia, Texas, Arizona.

Despite the announcement of the threat to democracy, we're not seeing a move against the filibuster.

We've already seen a suit filed against the laws in Georgia. We'll see similar suits against the laws in other states.

It's getting harder and harder for DOJ to prove what we call discriminatory intent or discriminatory effect.

So they're fighting a very important battle here. But they are facing an uphill battle in the courts.

ACOSTA: Right. And if they don't take action in Congress and they just choose to pursue this in the courts, that could take just years to wind its way through the legal system.

Let's turn now to the criminal investigation into the Trump Organization.

Earlier this month, the Manhattan D.A.'s office charged the company and its CFO with a tax scheme.

The prosecutors don't appear to have anyone convinced who works at the Trump Organization to cooperate against the former president. We've seen this movie before.

One viewer asks: If prosecutors can't get anyone inside the Trump Organization to cooperate, can they still bring charges against Donald Trump.

My sense is no.

HONIG: I'm very doubtful, Jim. I'm with you on this one.

It's clear prosecutors are trying to flip Weisselberg and Calamari. Those are the right people to try to flip. But they've had no signs of success so far.

Both those individuals' attorneys have said they have zero interest in cooperating. I've seen that change. But there's no reason at this point to think it will.

Keep in mind, you have to prove as a prosecutor that a person has specific criminal knowledge and intent.

It's not enough to say there was fraud at the Trump Org, Donald Trump was the boss, hence he gets indicted. You have to prove he had specific knowledge and intent.

If you don't have email, a text, a wiretap recording, and there's no evidence they have that, then you have to have a cooperator who can explain who knew what.

I don't see a path here to charging Donald Trump unless something changes.

ACOSTA: I don't either. Very good point.

Elie, stand by.

Don't forget to check out Elie's book, "Hatchet Man, How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutors' Code and Corrupted the Justice Department."

Elie Honig, thanks so much.

We've been talking to so many books lately, we have to talk about Elie's book, too. It's a great book. Hope everyone checks it out.

Thanks, Elie. Appreciate it.

HONIG: Thank you.

ACOSTA: The brazen assassination of Haiti's president has triggered a surge of violence in a country already facing a long list of challenges, including an epidemic of gangs and crippling poverty.

Amidst this national crisis, CNN's Haitian Heroes are stepping up to keep the most vulnerable children and women safe.

Boby Duvall and Malya Villard-Appolon hope this moment points Haiti to a better future. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOBY DUVALL, CNN HERO: People are in state of shock. I'm, particularly, very much shocked.

No matter how much you can criticize the former president, there's nothing that requires such barbaric action of violently taking his life.

MALYA VILLARD-APPOLON, CNN HERO: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

(SHOUTING)

VILLARD-APPOLON: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

DUVALL: I would love to think that it could be a turning point where people are -- about how the system works and the reason behind such a horrible act.

(SIREN)

VILLARD-APPOLON: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

DUVALL: This cannot be. There's not enough change in my vision to contribute to positive development of this nation.

[17:54:59]

It reinforces the reasons of what I'm doing to do everything I can to have the most impact towards the people who need it most.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: To learn more about how these and other "CNN Heroes" are working to help the Haitian people, go to CNNheroes.com.

As we leave you tonight, a live look at images of protesters in support of the Cuban people as they fight for freedom both outside the White House and in Miami right now.

You can see those live pictures, many of them with signs that say, "We stand for Cuba," and also, "Patria Evita," which has become a slogan for those on the island struggling for freedom, for food, for good health.

We wish the best to them. We wish the best to those protesters in Miami and at the White House as this struggle continues on the Communist island.

Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you back tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Pamela Brown takes over the CNN NEWSROOM, live, after a quick break.

Have a good night, everybody.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)