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Acting Haiti Prime Minister Says Two American Suspects in Assassination of Country's President; Interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Pfizer Sees Waning Immunity from COVID Vaccine, Says Developing New Booster; Biden Defends Decision To Withdraw U.S. Troops From Afghanistan Despite Dangerous Gains By The Taliban. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired July 8, 2021 - 20:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. There's a lot to get through tonight. In a moment, though, we have breaking news and a startling admission from Pfizer on the efficacy of its vaccine against the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Also, ahead, Senator Bernie Sanders on Democrats plans to protect voting rights.

We begin, however, with breaking news out of Haiti in the assassination of that country's President.

Moments ago, the country's acting Prime Minister just paraded out individuals they say were involved in the assassination of the former President almost two days ago. We're working to get that video in for you, including among those individuals, again, according to the acting Prime Minister, were two Americans. He also said authorities have arrested most of the attackers involved.

Separately, officials a short while ago updated the number of suspects killed in a shootout with police overnight in Haiti. That number is now seven. Haiti's Ambassador to the U.S. previously described the suspects as foreign mercenaries.

CNN has also obtained video purporting to be from that shootout yesterday between Haitian authorities and the alleged assailants. We have to point out CNN has not confirmed the authenticity of this video.


COOPER: Now, as we said, authorities are saying there were seven people in that shootout, all dead. They also were saying there are six people in custody tonight.

Today, Haitian media showed two men authorities are calling suspects in the back of a police pickup surrounded by armed guards. We blurred their faces. Again, we want to point out, CNN cannot confirm the details provided by Haitian authorities. All of this, of course, taking place in a country under a form of

Martial Law where two men now claim the mantle of leadership in an already destitute country growing weaker due to growing humanitarian crisis and worsening COVID epidemic.

I'm joined now by journalist, Harold Isaac, who's in Haiti tonight. So, we understand -- I mean, there's certainly a lot of rumors flying around right now in Haiti, with good reason, obviously, because of the lack of transparency and all that's happened so quickly.

But sticking to what we know, what do you know about at least one American being among those arrested? Now, they are saying two.

HAROLD ISAAC, JOURNALIST: Well, Anderson, this is to say the least, a spectacular development in the last hour. The investigation seems to have sped up with regards to the assassination of President Jovenel Moise and what we're finding out is that two Haitian Americans are among those detained and had been apprehended by the Haitian Police. But we've learned more about the whole team that has led this operation.

COOPER: What more have you learned? Because there was just a press briefing from Haiti's acting Prime Minister, Claude Joseph.

ISAAC: Yes. So, the whole current government just held this presser where they presented 26 Colombian nationals -- so basically, they had 26 attackers, but they've arrested 15 Colombian nationals. Let me get the numbers right.

So, they say there were 26 Colombians. They have the passports to show it and that 15 of them were arrested, eight of them are on the run, and three are dead. So, it's just in and we're still trying to try to see what the implications are with such a large contingent of foreign nationals carrying out this operation in Haiti.

COOPER: So, this is the first time I'm hearing this. Can you just repeat that, you said 26 Colombians?

ISAAC: Yes. So, the Prime Minister and the Chief of Police brought in the numbers. They claimed 26 Colombian nationals were involved in the operations, 15 were arrested and eight would be on the run, three dead.

So, it still is very fresh, very early to determine what that may entail. But it certainly is an unexpected turn into the detail and what the implications could be because it is a large contingent of foreign nationals that have carried out this operation.

COOPER: Is there any more information about where the investigation itself is leading?

ISAAC: Well as per the Chief of Police in the presser, he said that they were expecting to carry on more. They are still searching for those that are on the run, they are still pursuing them. The issue is that they want the population to be cooperative and not to seek vigilante justice with regards to these that are still missing in the action.

So, it's very early to know exactly what are going to be the next steps, but it seems that the scene remain active and they're still looking for these people.


COOPER: All right, Harold Isaac, I appreciate the update.

And now, to the news we mentioned from Pfizer days after President Biden spoke gaining independence from the virus, Pfizer says it is seeing waning immunity from its coronavirus vaccine. It is now picking up efforts to develop a booster dose. It is hoping to seek an emergency use authorization from the F.D.A. for a booster dose in August.

In its statement, Pfizer is citing data, which was compiled by the Israeli government, which we've talked about in days past, which shows that from May to June 6, as the delta virus spread in Israel, the vaccines efficacy against all infections dropped substantially from 95.3 percent to 64 percent, and this is a very important but here, efficacy against severe illness and hospitalization did remain high going from 97 percent to still high 93 percent.

So, people were not getting hospitalized or not getting a bad -- a very serious version of the illness, of the infection, but more people were getting infected.

The spread of the coronavirus is on the rise as you know, again here in the United States. One factor that sent all three major stock market indices down today. There's new data from Georgetown University, which identifies at least five large clusters of unvaccinated people, most in the southern U.S. that are vulnerable to COVID surges and could become breeding grounds for even more deadly variants.

Now, as POLITICO remarked today, quote, "We may have turned a corner, but the delta variant was waiting just around the bend. Now due to its spread and due to low vaccination rates in certain areas of the country, it threatens to plunge the U.S. into a new era of COVID restrictions."

I'm joined now by Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore Health Commissioner and CNN medical analyst. She is also the author of the forthcoming book, "Lifeline: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health."

So, Dr. Wen, with 24 states seeing cases up at least 10 percent, how concerned are you about this Pfizer news. According to the C.D.C., more than 84 million Americans have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I'm actually concerned about the Pfizer news confusing people at this point, because I think it's important to put it into perspective. As you mentioned, it's not as if they have new data. They are actually going off of what the Israeli Ministry of Health reported earlier this week.

And the key take home from that is that the vaccines that we have are still very effective against protecting against severe disease. So, no one should be listening to this and saying, well, I need to go out and get a booster shot right now.

Now, it does appear that immunity might wane, or that the vaccines are less effective against the delta variant. And so I think that's something we need more information about when it comes to mild or asymptomatic illness.

And I think it is fine for Pfizer to apply for emergency use authorization so that boosters can be made available, but we should also say that the Israeli data conflict with some of the other data that actually showed that immunity may last for years, and that the mRNA vaccines in particular are very effective against the delta variant.

COOPER: We should also point out -- and correct me if I'm wrong here -- but when Israel made this report, the actual numbers of people involved was very small. So that was one, you know, thing to note about the report that there wasn't a huge volume of people who they were basing this report on.

WEN: Right. And I don't think we even know what the report exactly is, and what we still don't know is that modeling studies, what are they basing their numbers on?

Part of the problem is that here in the U.S., we don't have our own numbers because the C.D.C. has stopped tracking mild and asymptomatic breakthrough infections, which is a big mistake, because what we really need to know at this point is: what is happening with breakthroughs? Who is getting breakthrough infections?

Is it people who got the vaccine earlier on? So, is immunity actually waning? Is it all the delta variant?

Also we need to know, are people getting breakthrough infections? So, they're vaccinated, they are still getting infected, are they having long haul symptoms? Or do the vaccines protect against that?

And then very critically, if you have a breakthrough infection, are you still able to infect other people because, if so, that has real implications on, for example, vaccinated parents living with unvaccinated children and the kind of activities that they can be engaged in.

COOPER: Pfizer also says that next month, it is going to seek emergency use authorization from the F.D.A. for a booster dose. There's obviously a lot of people who have not received the Pfizer vaccine, have either gotten another vaccine or haven't gotten any vaccine. Will people who haven't taken the Pfizer vaccine, should they be able to get the Pfizer booster? I mean, if they've taken an AstraZeneca or they've taken a Johnson & Johnson or whatever it may be?


WEN: There's no reason to believe that you have to stick somehow with one vaccine, and the fact that there are good scientific reasons for why mixing vaccines may actually boost your immune response.

And so I definitely think for people who got AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson, which is the adenovirus vector vaccine, if they were to need a booster that having a Pfizer or Moderna, an mRNA booster may actually be helpful.

COOPER: Dr. Leana Wen, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Today, Republican Missouri Governor Mike Parson called the surge in his state quote, "totally misleading." He also said he disagrees with the Federal government going door to door to try to convince people to vaccinate.

Miguel Marquez is in one of those spots we referred to earlier, Missouri, and has the details and the difficulties of the fight to contain the virus there.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Louie Michael and Pattie Bunch held off getting vaccinated, not anti- vaxxers, it just wasn't a priority. Then they got sick.

MARQUEZ (on camera): How sick did you two get?

PATTIE BUNCH, RECOVERING FROM COVID-19: I remember I was working and then I just -- it felt like a bomb dropped on me. I just wasn't feeling good at all. And I thought oh, no.

MARQUEZ: You're still recovering.

BUNCH: I'm still recovering.

MARQUEZ: This is not your normal voice.

BUNCH: Oh, no.


BUNCH: This is a month later. It has totally devastated me.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): So sick, she thought she'd never see her daughter, Ashley again.

BUNCH: I remember I was at the ambulance, and I could see our daughter Ashley driving, you know, behind us and I just thought I knew that once they took me there, I wouldn't see her -- I wouldn't see my family, and you just have no control.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): This is Louie and Patti holding hands in the ICU. He thinks he picked up the virus in Las Vegas, then without knowing it, gave it to his wife of 30 years. MICHAEL: We got to that point where she needed to go first. I thought

I was going to be tough and hold on and stay home and try to recuperate, but it wasn't the case.

I immediately went downhill.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, again, on the rise in Missouri. The State's Health Department estimates more than 70 percent of the virus circulating in the state is the more infectious possibly more dangerous, delta variant.

DR. MAYROL JUAREZ, VICE PRESIDENT, HOSPITAL PROVIDERS AT MERCY HOSPITAL: We are seeing more people 30 years and older getting sicker and requiring hospitalization. Also, we have seen that in this wave, people are getting sicker faster.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Springfield's Mercy Hospital has seen hospitalizations rise so quickly. They've brought ventilators in from other hospitals.

At Springfield's Cox Health, 90 percent of coronavirus patients tested, have the delta variant.

DR. HOWARD JARVIS, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT AT COX HEALTH: This is going to keep happening. You know, it may peak here and then, it's going to spread to other places. If we don't get enough vaccinated, there's going to be another variant that's probably worse. It's just -- that's the way -- you know, that's the way viruses work.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In Greene County, population nearly 300,000, health officials sounding the alarm.

MARQUEZ (on camera): How concerned are you about the weeks and months ahead?

LISA MARSHALL, DIRECTOR, TANEY COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: Terribly concerned. I mean, yesterday, we reported another 240 cases in one day. We're not a huge community. That's a really large number, and we haven't seen these numbers since we had a surge back in December and January.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In nearby Branson, a huge tourist draw, it is business as usual. Vaccinations here in Taney County, even lower than the state. Just 25 percent of all residents here vaccinated.

MARQUEZ (on camera): What is the biggest barrier you hear to people not getting vaccinated?

KATIE TOWNS, ACTING DIRECTOR, SPRINGFIELD GREENE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: It runs kind of the gamut. Maybe they feel like they just want to wait and see, they're just not quite ready yet. Maybe they're just not someone that vaccinates.

We've also heard a little bit of concern over how quickly the vaccine was developed. MARQUEZ (voice-over): Louie and Pattie think of it this way, the

unknown possibilities of getting the vaccine far outweigh the known horrors of the virus.

BUNCH: The vaccine, I feel personally is nothing compared to taking your chances and getting it.

MICHAEL: It's Russian roulette, really, if you want to take your odds and see, you know, can you get it? And how well you do with it? Unfortunately, you're not going to do as well as you think you are.


COOPER: Miguel Marquez joins us now from Springfield, Missouri. Is it clear why hospitalizations are rising in the southwest corner of Missouri and not as much in other parts of the state?

MARQUEZ: Yes, I think it's the confluence of factors. Look, Branson is just down the road from here, about 45 minutes away. It's a very big tourist destination. It is business as usual there.

The masking, the social distancing, all of that has gone out the window as the vaccines have rolled out, even though people are not getting vaccinated. Very low vaccination rates across this entire area, and then that delta variant. It was first identified in Branson and here in Springfield in May. It is everywhere in this area and they are afraid it is going to stay in this area until fall when it will cause another outbreak and a lot more misery -- Anderson.


COOPER: All right, Miguel Marquez, appreciate it.

Still to come tonight, Senator Bernie Sanders joins us live to talk about what Democrats can do now that another state is working to enact strict voting laws, and after the Supreme Court and Republican senators have thwarted their agenda thus far, that's in a moment.

Also a live report from Florida on the latest in the recovery efforts in the Surfside condo collapse as the death toll now makes this one of the deadliest mass casualty events in recent U.S. history.


COOPER: Just a short time ago, President Biden met with Civil Rights groups at the White House to talk about the ongoing effort to protect voting rights. This, after a Supreme Court decision that limited potential challenges to new state laws that many Democrats believe are discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act. Also, after Senate Republicans blocked the sweeping election reform bill from being debated.

A special legislative session on voting called by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, that began today, just the latest fallout from the former President's continued grip on the Republican Party and its determination to continue the big lie that he has been spreading. Proposed new Texas legislation takes aim at among other practices, 24-

hour voting and drive-thru voting, Republicans there are hoping to follow the footsteps of Georgia, Florida, Iowa, and others that have already passed new voting restrictions.

Now in addition to the President, Vice President Harris also spoke today in the importance of voting rights at her alma mater, Howard University, a historically black university.


KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the fight of our lifetime. This is the fight of our lifetime. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. We will always remember our history. We also understand their legacy and that we are a part of that.



COOPER: I'm joined now by Senator Bernie Sanders. He is also Chairman of the Budget Committee.

Chairman Sanders, you hear Kamala Harris saying this is the fight of -- she said, our lifetime. That implies that there's not much that can be done right now on voting rights. Democrats in Congress have already tried, failed to pass Federal legislation to protect against G.O.P. state by state restrictions.

So, I know President Biden says he plans on, quote, "speaking extensively on this issue," but is it going to have any impact?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Well, I hope and expect it will. The house has already passed H.R. 1 and that is sweeping legislation to protect voting rights, to deal with gerrymandering, and to take dark corporate money out of the political process, something we have got to do.

As you know, in the Senate, we can only get 50 votes and the challenge right now is on that particular piece of legislation. We've got to end the filibuster, and let majority rule.

I think, we, as a nation, Anderson, can disagree on policy. Disagree with me on healthcare, on education, on economics, that's fine. But you cannot disagree about whether or not ordinary Americans, in this case, African-Americans, Latinos, young people, people with disabilities have the right to vote. That's not debatable.

So, we are going to have to win that struggle in order to preserve American democracy and end this big lie of Trump that he won the election by a landslide. That is a sad day that so many of the Republican leaders actually perpetuate that lie.

COOPER: The Supreme Court, as you know, just recently upheld an Arizona voting law that restricts how ballots can be cast. Obviously, Republicans have taken that as an encouraging sign. They control 30 state legislatures across the country, Democrats control 18. How do you go state by state and stop voting restrictions from being passed into law with the political reality that you pointed out, which is you have to get rid of the filibuster in order to get movement in anything passed through the Senate? And that seems right now impossible.

SANDERS: Well, I don't know that it is impossible. It is something that many of us are working on. And I think we're going to do everything we can politically to rally the American people, everything that we can do legally and in the United States Senate, do everything we can to put pressure on our colleagues to finally stand up and say on this issue, at least I would go further -- on this issue, at least, majority should rule, 50 votes plus the Vice President says that we're going to pass a voting rights legislation and end this outrageous Republican attack on voting rights. That is what we've got to do.

COOPER: Do you see any change with Joe Manchin, some of the others who are Democrats who are not for getting rid of the filibuster?

SANDERS: Well, we are working on that end, Anderson, but what I've been focusing on, for the last many weeks, is what I believe to be the most consequential piece of legislation for working families that we have seen since the Great Depression.

It is no secret to the average American that the very rich are getting richer, and yet half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck. People can't afford child care, people can't afford to put dentures in their mouth if they are on Medicare. People can't afford to go higher education.

Everybody, I hope understands that climate change is an existential threat to the existence of our entire planet and we have got to deal with that. So, what I have been working on with a number of my colleagues is a major, major piece of legislation, which finally addresses the long term crises facing the working families of this country, and I hope that we can get something passed within the next month.

COOPER: Just in terms of getting things passed, I want to play for our viewers something that a Republican Congressman, Chip Roy said. He was caught on video saying behind closed doors regarding what the G.O.P.'s strategy is, in regards to your priorities, President Biden's priorities in particular he was talking about. Take a look.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Honestly, right now for the next 18 months, our job is to do everything we can to slow all of that down to get to December of 2022 and then get in here and lead. I actually say, "Thank you Lord, 18 months more months of confusion and the inability to get stuff done. That's what we want.


COOPER: I mean, you know, that's usually the kind of stuff maybe a Republican thinks inside their head and doesn't say out loud. He just basically said the silent part out loud. SANDERS: But let's give him credit for honestly, but you know, Mitch

McConnell has more or less said the same thing. Look, they understand that what we are trying to do, address the crisis in our infrastructure, the crisis in climate, the crisis in terms of childcare, or the crisis in terms of higher education, the crisis in terms of housing, basically, the fact that we are trying to address the real needs of working families is not only the right thing to do, Anderson, you know what, it is politically popular.


SANDERS: Look at the polling on virtually every single one of these issues, the American people say yes. You know, we need to make sure that our kids can afford to go to college. Yes, we need to build the affordable housing so that 18 million households are not paying half of their income in housing.

Yes, we need to pass paid family and medical leave. Yes, we need to extend the child tax credit so that if you have kids, you're going to get a $300.00 or $400.00 check every single month so that we don't have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on Earth.

It is not only the right thing to do, but what this Congressman knows, what Mitch McConnell knows, this is exactly what the American people want. So, it is good policy. It is good politics, and I and my colleagues are going to do everything we can to pass that legislation.

COOPER: Senator Bernie Sanders, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

SANDERS: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, President Biden defending the U.S. pullout of Afghanistan now just weeks away. I'll talk to a former Navy SEAL who served in Afghanistan who was wounded there, next.


COOPER: President Biden announced today that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan will end on August 31st. That's ahead of the original September 11th deadline, the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks that initiated the war.

Today, the President defended his decision to pull U.S. troops out.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As I said in April, the United States did what we went to do in Afghanistan, to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, and to degrade the terrorist threat to keep Afghanistan from becoming a base where much attacks could be continued against the United States.

We achieved those objectives. That's why we went. We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build, and it's the right and

the responsibility of Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.


COOPER: Well, President Biden also said a Taliban takeover is not inevitable, but the Taliban is making gains in the country's north.


COOPER: Well President Biden also said a Taliban takeover is not inevitable but the Taliban is making gains in the country's north. Take a look at this. The video purports to show the Taliban blowing up a police building in Herat province. This comes just days after the last U.S. troops left Bagram Air Base, which was the epicenter of those America's longest war. The U.S. withdrawal is now more than 90 percent complete.

Joining me now with his perspective is Jimmy Hatch, former U.S. Navy SEAL who was wounded in combat in Afghanistan. He's also a friend of mine. Jimmy, thank you so much for being here. Tomorrow actually marks 12 years since you were wounded in Afghanistan. As someone who bravely served multiple tours there, when you see images of what's going on in Afghanistan, when you read about the withdrawal of American forces, it's obviously very personal to you and others who served there, what do you think when you see this? What do you think of the withdrawal?

JIMMY HATCH, WOUNDED SPECIAL OPERATIONS VETERAN: Yes, I'm glad we're getting out of there but it's really sad. It makes me think about the folks who lost their lives there and the people who got hurt, and people who come home and have, you know, mental health issues and emotional issues because of their exposure to it. And it's very sad. That's just the best word I can come up with, sad.

COOPER: Is it something you think was the right thing to do, to withdraw at this time?

HATCH: I guess so, yes. I think the sooner the better, really. And I think, you know, President Biden said a few things in it. I'm not a huge fan of everything President Biden has to say but -- or what he thinks, but I agree -- I've agreed with him for a long time. You know, I think his idea was long time ago to just, you know, put a small force in there and hit the people that needed to be hit, don't make a big footprint and have 100,000 people there. And, you know, the whole thing is just -- he said, we didn't go there and nation build, well, kind of, we did.

And so --


HATCH: -- what really concerns me, Anderson, is that we're going to be in this position where the discussion about Afghanistan is going to be based on a political tit for tat and not really on learning what we can do to make sure that something like that doesn't happen again, you know. I remember when I was in the hospital, after I got wounded, there was these two older gentlemen came in my hospital room, and they said, hey, man, how are you? And I said, I'm all right. Who the hell are you guys? And they said, well, you know, we're Vietnam veterans and we're here to make sure that you don't get treated like we got treated. And, you know, that's pretty compelling.

You know, President Biden was asked today, did he think that the comparisons between Afghanistan withdrawal and Vietnam were accurate? And he said, no, there's no helicopters, you know, pulling people off the roof. I think it's very similar. I mean, yes, the drama of helicopters on the roof of the embassy certainly isn't there, but, you know, we have a generation of people that have been affected by this war. And, you know, what have we learned from it? How are we going to proceed the next time something like this comes up or, you know, I think we need to have -- you know, like we do in the military, we have an after action report.

After we do missions, even if we do training, you know, I think we need to sit down in a place with the right people, the people who made some of the decisions that put us where we were at different points of our time in Afghanistan, and then some of the people that are their foils, you know, the people that disagree with them. Like we need to sit down and try to figure out lessons learned, so we don't do it again, you know.

COOPER: It's interesting, the Vietnam comparisons, if the Turkish forces don't stay to hold on to the airport in Kabul, the U.S. embassy personnel there may not be able to stay, you could very much -- you know, if the airport's out, you could end up with scenes of helicopters on airport rooftops. The other kind of similarity with Vietnam is the people left behind the interpreters, people who at risk to themselves, at great risk to themselves helped U.S. forces in Vietnam, many were left behind. And certainly in Afghanistan, that has been a real issue, President Biden spoke to it, but how big for you?

I've talked to Adam Kinzinger, a Congressman, that's a big concern of his, as somebody who worked with interpreters saw the Afghans themselves who helped the U.S. Is that for you a priority as well?

HATCH: Yes. I mean, think about it, right? Like, first off, you know, the interpreters, not only did they save American lives, but they also saved -- and this is from personal experience -- they also saved a lot of the Afghans lives because they understood, you know, how to figure out who's who in the zoo during a fast moving scenario where, you know, lives are in the balance and they had good advice. Their ability to communicate difficult things very quickly, saved lives. And, you know, look, if we don't take care of those folks, we're going to be hard-pressed to find people who want to help us out in the future. It's pretty simple, really.


COOPER: You know, it's the last time I was there. I went out with Marines in Helmand Province for a little while and one of the things you saw on the ground was, I mean, not only just how difficult it was in Helmand Province at that time, how brave the folks serving there were, everyday, you know, risking their lives out on patrol, also, you know, driving for hours on dangerous roads to go to a village, to talk to some village elders, to talk about, you know, what needs to be done. It was essentially nation building without saying it was nation building. And it was always kind of this odd, you know, thing where we said, we weren't nation building, but really, we, as you pointed out, we were.

HATCH: Right. I think collectively, as a nation, we said many things over the 20 or so years that we were involved there, you know, we were at war. But, you know, there were times when we had people that we could probably have captured or killed that we didn't go after, because of circumstances with the political situation there. You know, I just feel like I don't, you know, that's another great thing about this whole thing is there's nobody you can just point the finger to and blame and say, hey, man, you messed this up. I mean, there's so many different people, so many administrations, so many senior leaders that were involved that made decisions.

And I think, you know, again, we just need to get to the bottom of, you know, why we couldn't keep on the straight and narrow, like, hey, we need to destroy these guys that tried to harm us and provided, you know, a safe place for the people who plan 9/11. And then, you know, then we need to get the hell out of there.

You know, was it a money making thing? You know, I always think about Eisenhower in the military-industrial complex, right? Like, I mean, there's just so many things to think about where then, again, I want to reiterate this, I think we need to really have a severe and serious, with serious people after action. And we need to look at what God is there. And I think, you know, honestly, I don't think that can happen --


HATCH: -- in Congress right now. It's too binary, I don't think --


HATCH: -- it can happen and think tanks really, because think tanks are political too. I think it needs to happen, you know, like academia, you know, like somewhere like the Jackson Institute at Yale where they have generals and diplomats and people from all over the world. And they can bring in this, you know, this group of people and sit down for over a year and go through things, you know. I think that's what we need to do.

Look, and I keep going off on this after action, because when I was a young guy in the SEAL teams, I was still listening (ph) to go to the debrief. You can bring up, you know, complaints, things you thought were wrong, but the only way you can do that is if you have a solution. And so right now, I just think we did a lot of wrong things in Afghanistan. And I think the solution is to figure out how not to do it again.

You know, some of the guys that I served with --


HATCH: -- have kids now that are in like the service academies, and so those guys were killed. One of them in particular was there at the beginning when we first got involved in Afghanistan, he was killed in 2011. His son is in a service -- we owe that dead friend of mine and his kid, a good solid examination of what we didn't do correctly.

COOPER: Yes. Jimmy, thank you for talking tonight and thank you as always for your service and the service of those you've fought with.

I just want to point out that Jimmy founded an organization that I'm a big believer of and supporter in raises money to get body armor for and training and best practices for police departments, military for K9 units. Jimmy was a K9 handler with the SEALs, it's called Spike's K9 fund. To learn more about, go to, again, that's spikesk9 Check out his good work.

Thanks, Jimmy. Appreciate it.

Coming up --

HATCH: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: -- the heartbreaking recovery in Surfside, Florida, the rising death toll. A live report on the condo collapse next.



COOPER: We're following breaking news on the condo collapse. I want to go to 360's Randi Kaye who is in Surfside, Florida. What is the latest in the recovery efforts, Randi?

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, late today, they located another four bodies. First responders now say the death toll is 64 and they believe that another 76 are missing. Also today, families missing loved ones did get to the site. They wanted to pay their respects once again to those family members that have not been recovered yet. They hold a moment of silence with first responders. Of course, families still trying to make sense of this tragedy here.

I spoke with one man who lost both of his parents in this collapse. He says all he has left from his parents now is his mother's wedding ring, which was found alongside her body in the rubble.


JONATHAN EPSTEIN, LOST BOTH PARENTS IN BUILDING COLLAPSE: Even after 31 years, they were very much in love.

KAYE (voice-over): Jonathan Epstein's parents were asleep on the ninth floor of Champlain Towers South when the building suddenly collapsed. David and Bonnie Epstein lived in Apartment 901.

(on-camera): When did you last speak to your parents? EPSTEIN: I had actually spoken with my mom about an hour before the building collapsed. We were both night owls and just really casual kind of late night texts. I think I sent her something funny. That was about -- yes, I think that was around like 12:10 and I think the building came down around 1:20.

I sent her a Paul McCartney song that I thought was cool. We bonded over music a lot. So it's just a really quick facts (ph).

KAYE (on-camera): How did you find out what happened with the building?

EPSTEIN: I was about to fall asleep and I saw the CNN alert come across my phone that a building in North Miami had collapsed. And I immediately want to text my mom thinking, you know, there's a million buildings, how could it possibly be theirs? And the message on the iPhone went from blue to green, meaning that it hadn't been received.

KAYE (voice-over): Back home in Brooklyn, Jonathan didn't sleep at all that night. Then he saw the surveillance video of the collapse.

(on-camera): When you saw that, what was that like for you?

EPSTEIN: It was tough. It's -- it was unbelievable. I still -- I'm still struggling to stand this. And, you know, I immediately tried to call over and over again. I started following everything on Twitter.

KAYE (voice-over): Desperate for answers, Jonathan called around to hospitals and filed missing person's reports. Like so many other families, he gave a DNA sample.


Then last week, detectives knocked on his door.

EPSTEIN: Time has changed right now, so I'm struggling to keep track of the days but I believe that detective showed up at my apartment on Thursday or Friday to tell me that my mom had been recovered, her remains have been recovered. And then two days later, that my father had also been found.

KAYE (voice-over): David Epstein was 58. His wife, Bonnie was 56. They'd celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary just two months before the collapse. Together, they were enjoying early retirement, spending their days scuba diving, kite surfing and jet skiing in the Florida sunshine. They had a dog too name Chance (ph).

For the last decade and a half, his parents returned to the northeast for the summer in April or May, but not this year. They stayed longer because his father was treating a shoulder injury and their dog was sick. Jonathan is an only child.

(on-camera): How are you doing and how are you coping?

EPSTEIN: I think denial is helping a little bit or just shock. I don't know how I'm feeling. It's -- this is so weird and surreal, that it's breaking in slowly. And for the time being, I just want to live in my parents' memory. To live the way that I think they want me to live and to honor their lives, and make up for the time that they lost.

They were just the best. I -- I'm thinking, you know, I'm thinking of what I'm going to say at the funeral now. And I just want to emphasize they were so cool. People would -- you know, when I was younger, my friends would come over and I always felt like they were coming over to hang out with my parents. Because they were way cooler than I was and oh, I'll miss them so much.


COOPER: There's so much pain. What is the process like right now at the site of the collapse?

KAYE: Anderson, they're still working around the clock to recover these victims and they are really taking such care. I mean, if you see them up close, they're oftentimes digging with their hands in this pile. They are trying to recover mementos from these apartments from these victims. And then they put them aside into a bucket, they give them to the police to be able to return to the families. But also just in terms of how they're handling the bodies that are recovered, they have faith leaders here from all different faiths. They have rabbis and priests on the site to make sure that these bodies are handled with care.

And as you know, many were Jewish people who lived in this building. So they are making sure that their bodies are taken care of along in the way that the Jewish faith does require. So, certainly, Anderson, taking the best care that they can here on site.

COOPER: Randi, appreciate you being there. Thank you.

Coming up, remember the walkout by Democrats in the Texas Legislature prevented the passage of a bill the Democrats said would curtail voting rights, with the legislature's back in special session today. And next, I'll ask the Chair of the state Democratic Caucus what his party is planning to do this time around.



COOPER: Earlier in the program, we reported on how the Biden administration's intent on prioritizing voting rights and how Texas is in the forefront of the latest effort to pass new laws that Democrats say will curtail voting rights. Texas did begin its special legislative session today in a second attempt by state Republicans to pass that legislation. During the regular session, Democrats managed to forestall its passage by organizing an 11th hour walkout depriving Republicans of a quorum that they needed to actually pass the bill.

Chris Turner is the Chairman of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, he joins me now. Chairman Turner, so you released a statement in which you say in part, "The governor's agenda for the special session shows he is more concerned with pandering to die-hard Trump supporters and right-wing extremists than he is with serving everyday Texans". How do you see this playing out particularly in regards to voting rights? Is there really anything you can do?

CHRIS TURNER, TEXAS HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: Good evening, Anderson. Thanks for having me back. And absolutely, there -- I think there are a number of things Democrats can do. As you know, we are in the minority here in Texas, in the State House, the Senate, and Republicans control of statewide offices, but Democrats in Texas have proven to be very effective in fighting back against extreme Republican ideas that would harm the people of Texas.

And let's be clear about what this is, with this voting bill. Republicans are trying to rig the system so that they can hang on to power. And they're doing it based on the foundation of the big lie that Donald Trump actually really won the last election that everybody knows that he lost, and it wasn't even close. But because Greg Abbott and other Republicans are so intimidated by the Trump base of the Republican Party, is in a really indistinguishable now, the Trump base is the Republican Party. They're moving forward with these anti-voter bills, and Democrats are going to fight them every step of the way. And we're going to do all we can to protect the voting rights of all Texans.

COOPER: I mean, given all that, though, I mean, they do have the votes to pass what they want in this bill. You can walk out again, I assume, but they have the votes.

TURNER: Well, you're absolutely right about that, which is why we need Congress to pass H.R. 1, For the People Act and H.R. 4, The John Lewis Voting Rights Act to safeguard voters in Texas and across the country against these Republican efforts to make it more difficult for people to vote in their efforts to rig the system. And it is just imperative that the U.S. Senate --


TURNER: -- do whatever it has to do to pass those bills so that we can protect the voting rights of all Americans in Texas and all across the country.

COOPER: Yes, we just talked to Senator Bernie Sanders about that, obviously, they don't have the votes in the Senate without changing the filibuster.


The new voting bill put forward by Texas House Republicans is obviously got a lot in it that Democrats should criticize. It doesn't, however, no longer has this limitation on Sunday voting, the previous bill had limited voting hours until after 1:00 in the afternoon, which would affect churches doing early morning voting drives, which often favored Democrats. They claimed it was just a, you know, a typographical error that they always meant to have it be 11:00 a.m., not 1:00 p.m. But the fact is, this is not -- which is clearly seems ridiculous, but it's not in this new bill. So what's bad about this bill now? TURNER: Sure. Well, and those two bigger (ph) onerous provisions are out of the bill and it credit all the Democratic members of the legislature who fought so hard to kill that bill, that those provisions are now gone. Republicans have run away from those and don't want to claim any credit for ever having authored them in the first place. But obviously, they were their ideas.

But this new bill, while it does not include those provisions, is still a terrible bill. It makes it more difficult to vote by mail in Texas. It empowers partisan poll watchers who have Republicans have used to intimidate voters and in some cases, election officials and predominantly minority neighborhoods in Texas. And fundamentally, the bill is based on a lie.

And the first page of the bill, it alludes to the fact that the legislature finds that people don't have confidence in elections and we need to pass this bill so they have confidence in elections. Well, if people, to the extent, people don't have confidence in elections is because Republican leaders like Donald Trump and Greg Abbott and others tell them they shouldn't have confidence. Republican leaders were start telling the truth --


TURNER: -- about our elections, who their supporters, there wouldn't be a lack of public confidence in elections.

COOPER: Yes, it's an endless circle that argument. Chairman Chris Turner, I really appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Up next, a federal judge handed down a prison sentence today for Michael Avenatti, the California lawyer who rose to fame representing Stormy Daniels. Details on that when we return.


COOPER: Michael Avenatti, the California lawyer who grabbed the spotlight by representing Stormy Daniels was sentenced to 2.5 years in federal prison today for attempting to extort Nike for millions of dollars. When details emerge Daniels alleged relationship with the former president, Avenatti almost instantly became a regular presence in both network and cable television news shows including this one. But he was convicted by -- back in February for threatening to publicly accuse the sportswear company, Nike, of illicit payments to amateur athletes unless Nike paid him first.

For his part, Avenatti wept openly in the courtroom at one point saying he'd betrayed his friends, family and himself. The federal judge who handed down the sentence said, quote, Mr. Avenatti had become drunk on the power of his platform or what he perceived his platform to be.

The news continues right now when I hand it over to Chris for Cuomo Primetime. Chris?