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Simone Biles Returns to Win Bronze on Balance Beam; Taliban Gain Ground as U.S. Enters Final Weeks of Troop Withdrawal in Afghanistan; Millions Face Eviction as Billions in Rental Aid Go Untapped. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 3, 2021 - 10:30   ET

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


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[10:30:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: Well, if you missed it early this morning, it was something special. Gymnast Simone Biles, she made a triumphant return to competition at the Olympics, this after battling mental health issues, including a case of the twisties.

Coy Wire joins us from Tokyo with more. She won a bronze and you're a lucky guy, Coy, you were there, you saw it happen.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I wish you were here with me, Jim. This was an incredible moment. She says she couldn't tell up from down earlier in these games and here she was for the first time in my experience after the games, there was an atmosphere there this evening that no spectators were allowed, so it was mostly media members from around the world, some fellow athletes as well. But everyone in that arena stood and cheered in support of Simone Biles when she walked out.

My heart was bumping. Our Will Ripley said he had tears in his eyes. But Biles looked relax and ready for this moment. She said that she had been medically evaluated every day this past week, Jim. She had two sessions with a sports psychologist from Team USA. And when she hopped up on that beam, one of her weakest events now, with the world watching, she locked in and she absolutely nailed it.

Afterwards, she said that it meant the world to her to be able to compete in the Olympics one more time but also how this wasn't just about her, Jim. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SIMONE BILES, SEVEN-TIME WORLD OLYMPIC MEDALIST: To bring the topic of mental health, I think it should be talk about a lot more especially with athletes because I know some of us are going through the same things and we're always told to push through it but we're all a little bit older now and we could kind of speak for ourselves. But at the end of the day, we're not just entertainment, we're humans and there are things going on behind the scenes that we're also trying to juggle with as well on top of sports. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: Now, Simone Biles was already the GOAT of her sport, even before these games, Jim. But now, with a silver in the team competition and that bronze you mentioned here at these Tokyo Games on beam, that's seven medals in her Olympic career, tying her with the great Shannon Miller for the most all-time by any U.S. gymnasts.

Even before Tokyo, Jim, the gold medalist who in the beam competition, Guan Chenchen of China said that her hero, it was Simone Biles.

So, now, the way Biles put a spotlight on mental health, showing the world that no matter who you are, even if you're superwoman, it is okay to not feel okay. She's going to go down as one of the greatest Olympians ever for the impact she's having.

SCIUTTO: Yes. It's a shame she's faced so many personal attacks in the wake of this. She's a champion and I'm glad to see other athletes recognizing that. Coy Wire, thanks so much.

Happening right now, Afghan security forces are fending off Taliban advances, this is in the weeks since most U.S. troops were withdrawn from the country. Now, a senior general in Afghanistan is warning the Taliban are getting help from Al Qaeda. We're going to have the latest, next.

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[10:35:00]

SCIUTTO: This morning, as the U.S. enters the final weeks of its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban is gaining ground fast. A senior Afghan army commander is urging people to leave one major city where the Taliban has now taken control and he says, this is alarming, members of Al Qaeda are now mobilizing in large numbers to join Taliban fighters on the front lines in Kandahar and Helmand province in the south and the southwest.

Joining me now to talk about this, CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, he is the author of a new book out today, The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden, the biography.

[10:40:03]

I've been reading it, it is a great book. Peter, good to have you on this morning.

It is interesting, you're book, just the opening passages are so powerful because it described a sort of shrunken bin Laden in the days and weeks leading up to when he was killed in the U.S. raid in 2011, kind of searching for his relevance. I wonder how he would see what we're seeing right now as the U.S. withdrawals, you see the Taliban advancing and now reports of Al Qaeda members on the frontline again. I mean, has the U.S. withdrawal, could it lead to a comeback of Al Qaeda there? PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Jim, I think he would be delighted. I mean, we know from the documents recovered in the Abbottabad compound that he was communicating with the leader of Taliban in the months before he was killed. People in Al Qaeda were funding elements of Taliban. They were conducting joint operations. And the U.N., as you know, just released a report in June in which they described the relations between the Taliban and Al Qaeda as very close.

So I think this report is quite disturbing. I mean, we're already half of the districts in Afghanistan are now controlled by the Taliban, according to most reports. They may not be able to take over the whole country but they certainly can take over much of the south and the east of the country. And I've talked to Afghans who say, thousands of foreign fighters are pouring into Afghanistan, a movie we've seen before, unfortunately.

SCIUTTO: You talk in the book about how -- I mean, there are some successes and failures to the U.S. response to Al Qaeda and 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, but one success has been the ability to prevent to date a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil by Al Qaeda. Of course, you never want to say never because this is an ongoing threat. Does Al Qaeda still have the ambition to attack the U.S. homeland?

BERGEN: Yes. Ambition is one thing, Capability is another. I mean, right now, I think they have no capacity to conduct a kind of attack on -- we did have that attack in Pensacola, Florida, back in 2019, which had some links to Al Qaeda and Yemen, not clear if they directed the attack or just kind of were aware of the attack as it was being planned. That killed three American sailors. But that is the only attack by a foreign terrorist organization since 9/11. It is a fact that speaks for itself. Here we are almost two decades from the 9/11 anniversary.

So we, the United States, has been pretty successful with our offensive capabilities and our defensive capabilities.

SCIUTTO: But now, we're pulling out. We're pulling. And, by the way, when you hear public testimony, for instance, from the director of the CIA, he says aid that not having U.S. boots on ground there will impact intelligence gathering but also the concern of counterterror operations. I mean, has the U.S. made itself more vulnerable with the withdrawal from Afghanistan?

BERGEN: I mean, we will see. You know, Secretary of State Tony Blinken and then-Vice President Joe Biden presided over the withdrawal from Iraq in December of 2011. Three years later, the United States was back because of the rise of ISIS.

I think it is quite improbable that we're going to see something not dissimilar. It may not be exactly the same but the Taliban, they haven't -- their links with Al Qaeda remain very stable and warm and cordial. That is something I document in my book. It's something that the U.N. is documenting as we speak.

SCIUTTO: Now, what is remarkable, you bring up the withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, you have a lot of veterans of the Obama administration and the Biden administration who saw that backfire, and that it required a return of U.S. military, which eventually, over the course of years, did effectively stifle and bring ISIS under control.

I mean, do you see a scenario where the U.S. is drawn back into the war in Afghanistan, have to put boots back on ground again to respond?

BERGEN: I do, unfortunately. And it could be in this first, in the Biden administration. When you make a decision this early, six months into the Biden administration, you've got a lot of time left on the clock. And they may well be in the situation where they need to go back in some shape or form. We've already seen, as you know, some airstrikes against the Taliban by U.S. forces. We could see something more.

SCIUTTO: Listen, it is fascinating. And, folks, if you want to learn more about the roots of all this going back to the founding of Al Qaeda, this is the book to do it. Peter Bergen, thanks very much. There's the cover, The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden. Of course, the question, will there be a rise of Al Qaeda again. Peter Bergen, thanks very much.

Democrats are now scrambling to protect Americans at risk of being evicted days after a federal moratorium on evictions expired. And while millions could potentially lose their homes, billion dollars in existing rental aid still hasn't been used. We're going to speak to one women facing eviction to learn what may come next.

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[10:45:00]

SCIUTTO: Just minutes from now, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is expected to update House Democrats on how the federal government can speed up the process of getting billions of dollars in existing aid to people at risk of losing their homes. The number of Americans in danger of being affected has actually declined since its peak at the height of the pandemic. But the CDC moratorium on evictions has expired and many remain in need.

A recent U.S. census survey found that more than 7 million Americans are behind on the rent, more than 3 million people say that they will likely be evicted soon without help.

[10:50:05]

Our next guests understand the economic devastation still being felt by so many people. Joining me, Angela Young, she herself is in danger of losing her home, Shamus Roller, he is the executive director of the National Housing Law Project. Thanks so much to both of you.

Angela, I would like to begin with you just to tell how you're being affected by this. You're at home and you're taking care of an elderly relative. Tell us the situation you're in right now.

ANGELA YOUNG, HOPING FEDERAL MORATORIUM ON EVICTION WILL BE EXTENDED: Yes, I'm at home and I'm actually taking care of several elderly relatives. I have a cousin here that moved in with a situation so she had to come in. She's not elderly but she's in bad shape. And she got into a situation to come across country and stay at my house. My brother is about to undergo an angiogram and he's most probably going to have to have a bypass and but also a carotid artery surgery. My mother is 84 years old. She's lost my grandfather and my brother within a month of each other. And it has been unbelievable what we're encountering here in Nevada.

SCIUTTO: I can only imagine.

Shamus, help us quantify how many people in the country remain in Angela's position or something similar. Because the country has seen the number of at-risk families come down but where does it stand today, how many still at risk?

SHAMUS ROLLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HOUSING LAW PROJECT: Well you talked about the 7 million number. So there are certainly millions of people across the country that are behind on their rent. So with the eviction moratorium expiring on Saturday, what we have is a patch work across country, because there are some states like California, and New York and Illinois that still have their own vocal protections and a number of other states that have processes that are slowing down evictions.

But for other people, what they're facing is that the rental assistance programs in their states haven't started worked effectively and they have no protection against eviction. So there is billion of dollars out there to help pay rent but those programs are slow in getting started.

SCIUTTO: I want to get to, Shamus, why that is, because it boggled the mind. But, Angela, tell us your experience when you sought this kind of aid at the state or federal level. Have you been able to get it?

YOUNG: No, I was completely turned down. On the minute it came out is the minute I applied for the CHAPs Program. I had to do everything by telephone call. I didn't have a computer and I couldn't actually get anything processed. So I took two gigantic boxes of all the information that my mother and I, because we were both on invitation homes lease and so we both had to be processed. And as soon as I did that, it took a while and then they declared I wasn't COVID-impacted.

SCIUTTO: Shamus, how many folks are in that category, right, who have a claim or just -- I mean, I'm curious, I've heard different estimates from one in six or rather five-sixth of the money hasn't been spent or as much as to maybe perhaps half. But still, there is a lot of money out there that are still not getting to the right people. Why is that?

ROLLER: It is a real challenge. These programs weren't created before, right? So from governments to create massive rental assistance programs is a real challenge. I don't want to underplay that at all.

But what you see is in some states like Texas that stood up programs, that have gotten money out there very quickly, they're looking at 40 percent of the first round of money that they've gotten out, and other states are in the single-digits, programs that haven't even started giving out money.

And so, you know, at this point there are some places that just need to get it together. They need to start pushing that money out to tenants so that people don't get evicted.

SCIUTTO: That's -- and it is remarkable that money is still there.

Angela, just so folks understand, I mean, what sort of aid would be most impactful for you and the people in your family you're taking care of?

YOUNG: Well, first of all, it is really important to be proactive. Don't let someone knock on your door and, you know, put a notice and you don't respond to it. It is very important to respond to the eviction notice. That is key.

And, secondly, you go down to -- you can call Legal Aid, they're available, or you can go down to the Clark County Courthouse and apply down there. You tell them that you're responding to an eviction. And you make sure that you apply for the CHAPs Program. That's the CARES Housing Act Program. That is vital and that will give you some leeway and some stay so you can be in the home until they could mediate or negotiate or help.

[10:55:03]

But I'm on a --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

YOUNG: -- (INAUDIBLE) nonrenewal of lease. I'm in a little bit more precarious situation.

SCIUTTO: Well, Angela, we empathize with you and we hope you do get that the help you need, and thank you, Shamus Roller, for helping us understand the broader issue here. You hope that that existing funding gets to the folks who need it. And thanks to both of you.

Just a quick note, at the top of the hour, the New York attorney general will hold a news conference to make a, quote, major announcement, something to watch. We're going to bring you that news conference live.

And thanks so much to you for joining me today, so much news to cover. I'm Jim Sciutto.

At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right after a short break.

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