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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  August 31, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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that was no longer in the service of the vital national interest of our people. >> reporter: as the country after two decades, thousands of lives and trillions of dollars seeks to turn the page on america's longest war. >> i was not going to extend this forever war. and i was not extending a forever exit. >> reporter: biden delivering on a campaign pledge that has long been popular by a company fatigued and in many cases apathetic about the war. but still facing major questions in the wake of the evacuation that got more than 122,000 people out of the country. yet left more than 100 american citizens who want to leave afghanistan still on the ground. biden making a point of knowing the support he had across the administration and military to leave by the deadline. >> leaving august the 31st is not due to an arbitrary
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deadline. it was designed to save american lives. >> reporter: failing to deliver on this explicit pledge from just 13 days ago. >> if there are american citizens left, we're going to stay till we get them all out. >> reporter: biden making clear u.s. diplomatic efforts will be singularly focused on evacuating those americans. >> and for those remaining americans, there is no deadline. we remain committed to get them out if they want to come out. >> reporter: but with thousands of afghan allies also still stuck in the country, one clear reality. the u.s. efforts in the country are far from over, even if its military is now gone. >> i don't think enough people understand how much we have asked of the 1% of this country who put that uniform on. >> reporter: the fallout from a frenzy, chaotic, and bloody final 16 days is just beginning. congressional hearings and probes slated for the coming weeks on a withdrawal that has drawn sharp criticism from both
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parties. the administration has pledged to launch its own internal review. biden even facing blowback from some of the families of service members killed by a suicide attack during the evacuation efforts. >> he talked about his own son more than my son and that didn't sit well with me. >> reporter: the white house declining to respond to critical comments from family members. but biden saying the 13 service men and women who died would never be forgotten. >> we owe them and their families a debt of gratitude we can never repay. but we should never ever, ever forget. >> reporter: u.s. officials say when it comes to the americans still in the country and the afghan allies, there are currently discussions underway about getting them out by air and also getting them out potentially through border countries by land. but the reality remains on the ground that anything they can move forward on will be subject essentially to taliban approval. there is no time line on those discussions, when there will actually be an end game or a pathway forward for the evacuation of those citizens and
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afghan allies. the reality right now on the ground is everything is subject to a former adversary of the united states, jake. >> phil mattingly at the white house. i want to go to cnn's oren liebermann. pentagon officials are telling us now about a previously secret deal that the u.s. government made with the taliban to help get american citizens to safety before u.s. troops left afghanistan. how did this work? how does forces work with the taliban? >> jake, the taliban has been a part of this process since long before the evacuation, pretty much ever since the negotiations began that led to the doha agreement, that led to the withdrawal. but they became a more integral critical part of this process as the evacuation advanced. and we're now finding out just how deeply involved they were with the secret arrangement that helped bring u.s. citizens and some others from where they were to the airport. according to two defense officials, the taliban was in touch with u.s. forces on the ground to arrange coordination points, gathering points, and
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muster points for those u.s. citizens for the taliban to bring them towards the airport so they could get onto the airport and onto flights. that was previously not reported. of course, that was sensitive information until the evacuation and the withdrawal were complete because if it was public that the taliban was helping the u.s. like that, first the taliban might have to respond to that, and, second, it would give isis-k another opportunity to target the taliban and of course to target u.s. citizens. but there was another arrangement even beyond that. special operations forces were in touch through what one defense official called call centers to be in touch with u.s. citizens to get them to the airport to effectively a secret gate in order to get them onto the field and get them out. there are still a lot of questions about how these operations function. did the taliban turn away any of the u.s. citizens that were supposed to get to the field that might still be in country? >> let's discuss this with republican congressman mike turner of ohio. he sits on the house arms
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services committee. congressman, thanks so much for being here. i want to start with this report. obviously we're all skeptical of the taliban and skeptical of the idea that they're any different than the nihilistic extremists that the u.s. has been fighting for two decades. but does the fact that they were willing to work with the u.s. to evacuate american citizens in such an organized way give you any moment of pause that maybe there is some hope? >> absolutely not. the president completely overstated today when he said the war is over because we left afghanistan. the other side gets to decide too. i was in afghanistan just before covid hit. and i asked our commander, i said is the area where the taliban control peaceful? and he said no, they remain a murderous and lawless group and organization. they will be that. certainly there were times where it was in their best interest to assist this administration after the debacle and the chaos that unfolded with the taliban taking
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kabul where the administration was saying it was unknowable and clearly it was foreseeable. so, i wouldn't take this as a new sign of a new taliban in the fact that they were working with the united states. unfortunately, we were forced into the situation to try to save american lives to work with them since kabul had fallen, the government had fallen, and the taliban were at the door of the airport. >> how do you think this would have been any different or why do you think it would've been any different if president trump had been re-elected and they had gone through with the may 1st deadline? president biden makes the argument, and there are others who are not knee-jerk biden defenders who say he has a point, which is that there always would've been chaos, there always would've been an ugly ending to this, and it was president trump's administration that negotiated the exit with the taliban at may 1st. why would it have been any different? >> the president undermines his
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own argument that he wanted to do this since 2009. trump wasn't even on the horizon in 2009. so this has been part of the basic belief system that biden had of wanting to leave afghanistan without understanding it abandons our allies, abandons the afghan people, and really less than a third of the people in afghanistan support the taliban. they are now going to be subject to an authoritarian, murderous regime. but there was a significant difference to what trump was doing and what biden was doing. we all know that donald trump would never have let it unfold this way. biden himself -- >> why do you know that? >> first off, it was so embarrassing to the united states, it was so -- there were so many lives at risk. and president biden himself said he wouldn't. if biden wouldn't then trump certainly wouldn't. biden said he wouldn't run for the exits and he did so in the middle of the night. and he did it in a way that he undermined the afghan national army making them vulnerable to
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the taliban by giving them no plan, no chain of command, no understanding of what we're doing, no passing of the baton. >> i've spoken to a lot of experts on this about this documentary we're doing about the whole 20-year war of afghanistan. and one of the things that -- one of the arguments being made is that it wasn't that the afghan national army or the afghan forces were unwilling to fight. it was they lost the will. they lost the will to fight in addition to some theories that maybe that there were individual corrupt generals and politicians that were negotiating tedeals wh the taliban separately. and the reason they lost the will is, in this argument, president biden and president trump both negotiated with the taliban and headed for the exits, and there was nothing left for the afghan fighting forces to fight for in terms of a cause because they felt like the government wasn't on their side anymore because it was corrupt and the u.s. wasn't there to help support them. >> sure. i understand the cause argument. i think it's more of a
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logistical argument though. you actually physically can't fight unless you have the ability to move from point a to point b, ammunition, instructions, chain of command. where you had nato which was then commanded by the united states that was integrated into the afghan national military and had that pulled out without any plan left behind, there was no plan for the afghan national army to be able to sustain and defend the country. they had no choice, in many situations, but to go ahead and concede. we heard there were afghan military that ran out of bullets and then had to surrender. >> yeah. but that had been going on for a long time. the logistical challenges. the bigger argument about that, and i understand, look, in addition to criticizing the evacuation, you also disagree with the idea of withdrawing. you think that there should be a residual force of a few thousand counterterrorism at bagram air base. and people disagree on that. president trump thought that the u.s. needed to get out. but the question about if the
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u.s. had been there for 20 years and the afghan military was still relying on the u.s. to provide them with support, provide them with intelligence, provide them with air support, et cetera, how much longer was the u.s. supposed to be there? what's your argument to that? >> well, i wasn't -- i didn't believe we needed to have a force there forever. and i believed that the goals of the trump administration were incredibly important and could be achievable with the right negotiations, with the right structure, the right plan, we could exit. now maybe there'd be a residual force. doesn't have to be a couple thousand. but it's in the issue of the afghan national military having the ability to coordinate and to defend the country. it's not just a will to fight, it's not just, as you had said, there being concern that they had been abandoned by the trump administration or by the biden administration. i think it was also that they didn't have the mechanism to fight. and that's where this administration failed to give them a plan, to give them what was necessary in order to do so. >> congressman mike turner of
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ohio, thank you so much. he barely escaped the taliban, he got out of afghanistan. a u.s. ally shares his incredible journey with cnn as he arrives to hugs in the united states. and a giant sinkhole swallowing cars, part of the frightening scenes left behind by hurricane ida. and the storm is not even finished yet. stay with us. ♪ this is t-mobile, america's leading 5g network. this is apple tv+. and now only t-mobile gives new and existing customers one year of apple tv+ on us. that's a year of apple originals like ted lasso and the morning show. so more people can watch them all in more places with 5g on the largest 5g network. apple tv+ on us
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in our world lead, for the first time in 20 years, there are no u.s. service members, no boots on the ground in afghanistan. but there are still more than 100 american citizens untold numbers of u.s. legal permanent residents and thousands of afghan special immigrant visa applicants desperately trying to get out of that country. at the border of pakistan and afghanistan today, desperate afghans tried to cross, but pakistan says they simply cannot cope with any more refugees. in the last two months, the u.s. military and coalition forces
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airlifted more than 123,000 people including about 6,000 americans and tens of thousands of afghans. cnn's alex marquardt follows the story of one afghan interpreter who served at an air base in kunar province. >> reporter: as afghan families arrived in washington, d.c. this past week, carrying the few things they could as they fled the taliban, josh rodriguez was waiting eagerly for a glimpse of an old friend. >> we're waiting for -- and his family. he has his wife and kids. >> reporter: rodriguez worked with mohamed salani in afghanistan where he was an interpreter for u.s. forces. >> say hi to my family. >> hi, hi, everybody. >> reporter: he worked closely alongside american troops for seven years before becoming a commando in an elite unit. as the taliban swept across afghanistan this month, he was
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in the fight as a commander in kandahar. they had to retreat, and he and his men made their way to kabul airport onto an evacuation flight with their families to qatar where we first spoke with him. >> i don't know where they are taking us next. to be honest, we have no idea what's happening next. >> reporter: soldiers like ikbal who helped the u.s. are prime targets for the taliban. >> they already started going into the soldiers' houses and looking for them and asking their families to bring your son, give us this, give us that. honestly our soldier -- >> reporter: his family was safe but tired, heading to a country they knew little about. they didn't know where they were going. so a flight attendant wrote it down on a napkin, iad, washington's dulles airport. he immediately flew in from seattle, but the processing took
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days and his wife and son were sick. >> they're not really explaining things to him. he doesn't know how this stuff works. >> reporter: the hours ticked by. more people came out, but not ikbal and his family. so rodriguez came back the next day. >> all these people have been through hell and back. but this guy is special because he is fiercely loyal to americans. and then he went on to, you know, command probably the most elite special operations unit in all of afghanistan. >> reporter: rodriguez tracked ikbal down at a temporary housing facility. and after some calls they finally reunited after 12 years. an emotional reunion for two former brothers in arms. rodriguez brought ikbal some clothes and a new phone. the hardest part of the journey now over, but a new life just
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beginning. >> i am happy because i am safe here with my family. but i'm still unhappy because i left some of my family back there. >> ikbal and his family are now being processed at fort lee in virginia before they move on. they are applying for a special immigrant visa. and it's been a complicated road for them. former commanders have had to go to bat for him. it is hard to imagine anyone who is more deserving. he started interpreting for american troops when he was just a teenager and was fighting until the very last moments. he told me earlier today he's hoping his family ends up in either washington state or in california. jake? >> alex marquardt, an amazing story. and there's a gofundme for ikbal and his family. and we are going to tweet out that address. let's discuss these evacuation efforts and those left behind with afghan national army colonel abdul rakmani.
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he's an afghan pilot and a former staffer. colonel, thanks so much for being here. it's an honor to meet you. we've kept in touch on twitter for quite some time. you've been scrambling to get friends and colleagues out of afghanistan after the taliban takeover. did you ever expect to find yourself in this situation after spending so many years, 19 years, working for the afghan military? >> thank you, jake, for having me here. yeah, it's an emotional state for all of us. but the time the taliban took over, i thought to not think about what's happening in afghanistan but think about what you can do at the moment for your colleagues, for your former pilots, flight engineers and special forces. so i immediately started contacting my pilots, where are you, some of them were in
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turkmenistan. some in tajikistan. and some of them were in kabul and kandahar, mazar-i-sharif. my own hometown. so, i started contacting them, and then i built a network, what we call it, you know, a virtual command and control. so, i made a whatsapp group and also a signal group. i put all of them in that group. and then asking their certificates, their photographs, their information, all they could share. and then i had three of them sit together and then make an excel sheet for all of them. and i shared that excel sheet with my contacts here in the united states with the state department and also dod to help them get out. >> did any get out?
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>> yes. one of them made it to wisconsin, and two of them made it to germany. i still have around 30, 35 in qatar. and i have 20 in kuwait. >> that's a lot that got out. that's good. >> yes. so, this is because the collaboration and also cooperation between our team and also a team of veterans, special forces veterans, pilots. >> american special forces? >> american special forces and pilots. they all get to us in that group and helped us get out. i don't know exactly how many pilots and flight engineers got out. but from the group i made, we had 82, and i think we were able to get out around 45 of them. >> 45 is a lot. obviously you need to do more and we'll help you however we
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can. you have said that the taliban are looking for people who worked in the afghan military, who worked with the americans. now, the taliban is doing this big propaganda effort and saying no, no, everyone's forgiven, we're not out for revenge. you don't believe them? >> exactly, jake. as you have followed my tweets, i put a tweet one of my pilots, unfortunately we couldn't help him get out. he was, his house was raided, and the taliban were in his house. he had to jump from the second floor injuring his leg. he's still in kabul hiding somewhere. i don't know. but we wanted to get him out. there is not just one qassim. i think there are hundreds of them being chased by the taliban. >> today president biden called the evacuation effort a, quote, extraordinary success. he said no nation has ever done anything like it.
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obviously, more than 120,000 people did get out. a lot of them were afghans, but a lot of other people did not get out. how do you view the evacuation effort? do you think it was an extraordinary success? >> well, i would not comment on that. i would rather stick with the humanitarian assistance that the united states people are making right now to get those vulnerable afghans out. i have families from all around the united states volunteering to help these pilots. i had a family from oklahoma. they said we are here to help and we are ready to take a family of six for two years. you cannot believe this. it's an extraordinary thing that the united states people, especially veteran families, they are doing for their former colleagues. and i think that's the best part of this story. >> they are the best of us. colonel, thank you so much for being here. it's good to see you.
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in our national lead, right now hurricane ida is stretching north after pummelling the gulf and leaving at least five people dead. in mississippi a giant highway sinkhole swallowed seven cars, killing two people. in louisiana 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator near his flooded home. he is still missing. and four hospitals packed with critical covid patients in that
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state have had to be evacuated. as cnn's ed lavandera reports, 1 million people are still without power, and now louisiana's governor is warning a sweltering heat advisory could last for two weeks. >> the water got up just above the floorboard. >> reporter: the day after hurricane ida wrecked dominique's home, she's cleaning up the disaster. she says she's lived through many storms before, but this was different. >> this is like a true nightmare. >> reporter: and the emotions of experiencing hurricane ida's fury have caught up to the 32-year-old mother. >> why do you think this one was so different? >> it just was taking everything and it was so long. you could still just hear everything ripping and flying and banging, and people's roofs were coming off. we prayed that we would all live. >> reporter: the day after hurricane ida ripped through southeast louisiana, officials are warning residents across the region it will take considerable
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time to get life back to normal. there are more than a million customers without electricity, and for many it could take weeks to get the power restored. water systems are down as well, and cell phone communication is spotty. the coming days and weeks will be long and hot. >> we are a resilient group of people. this is going to be very difficult. worst disaster that we've all seen in st. john parish. and it's going to take a long time. >> reporter: in laplace, residents say they were stunned by the storm's winds and the structural damage it caused. >> it was horrible. the wind, i've never had wind shake the house the way it did. >> reporter: debbie and ronny say after four feet of water poured into their home, the roof started to collapse. >> the ceiling started caving in. that's when i really got scared because it was like, oh, my god, is the roof going to blow off and we're going to be exposed? >> reporter: some of the
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hardest-hit areas of southeast louisiana are still nearly impossible to reach. this is what grand isle looks like. this video was captured by one of several dozen people who didn't evacuate and are now stuck on the barrier island. >> we're seeping in from all the doors, all the closets. >> reporter: dominique thomas is bracing for weeks of recovery, but she can't stop thinking about the eight brutal hours her family endured through this storm. >> the doors were rocking back and forth. the windows were shaking. it was just a matter of time before you felt like everything was just going to go right off. >> reporter: and, jake, crews are beginning the long, arduous process of cleaning up disasters like this. and the real life of frustration starting to kick in. there's a family in this gas line that we met just a little while ago that says they live in new orleans, they're trying to get their family in lafayette to escape all of this. they've run out of gas and
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they're pushing this car through this line you see behind me. >> ed lavandera, thank you so much. coming up, a reason to hope more americans will snap out of their anti-vaccine mode. that's next. ♪ ♪ what happens when we welcome change? we can make emergency medicine possible at 40,000 feet.
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in our health lead now, while the united states is seeing alarming increases in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations and deaths, the biden administration is touting an increase in coronavirus vaccinations and encouraging more colleges and businesses to impose their own vaccination requirements. our chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta is here live with me in studio. a nice treat to have you here. a new poll of unvaccinated americans shows that 43% of unvaccinated americans say they will get a shot if their boss forces them to do it. now that same new poll shows a decent size drop in the number of people who say they will not
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get vaccinated. the number was 34% in march. it's down to 20% now. so i guess the question i have is, if you're a policymaker and you look at this, do you think i guess we need to start having more vaccine requirements, that's our way out of this? >> yeah. i think it's going to make a huge difference. we saw when the vaccine was approved, about a third roughly, 20, 30% said that they would go ahead and get it now that it was approved, 43% you mentioned after mandates. a couple things to keep in mind. one is that it's going to take a while for these vaccinated people who are now being vaccinated to have an impact overall on transmission and hospitalizations and deaths because it just takes a while for the vaccines to kick in. also in the meantime, the idea of masking, ventilation, all the things that we talk about still end up being really important. but of the 80 million people that are the eligible unvaccinated right now, i think those things will make a difference, slower roll than i think any of us would've liked.
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>> dr. hotez yesterday said this booster shot that people are talking about for pfizer and i guess theoretically for moderna as well, he think it's should just be called a third shot, the protocol should be three shots. you're hearing the recent white house announcement about what they're calling booster shots. and you're hearing that it's causing some frustration at the fda. >> this is not a slam dunk. it may have been presented that way and even flying up here, jake, people coming up to me in the airport and saying, hey, i got my third shot. people are telling me that bragging about it. >> more than a million people have gotten it. >> but i think we're going to have to hear from the fda and the cdc on this. and there is a lot of back and forth on this, mainly saying, hey, look, what does it accomplish exactly? we know that it increased antibody levels, but does it actually offer more protection? will people be less likely to transmit and get sick? they're not sure about that yet so that's why the fda wants to look at this. and those two people saying they're going to resign by the end of the year, who knows how big a deal it is.
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but it's a signal i think that there is some concern within the fda. jeff zients was asked about this. >> the fda is conducting an independent evaluation, and cdc's panel of outside experts issuing a booster dose recommendation. >> so, to be fair, they've always been saying that this is pending fda and cdc approval. but, at the same time, they also said, hey, september 20th this is happening. so i think there's been some frustration, hey, is the white house sort of getting ahead of the fda on this? is the cdc getting ahead of the fda on this? and i think that's what's causing some of this frustration at the fda. >> yeah. well, i mean, the fda, they're scientists and doctors and the other people are politicians. >> right. and they need to look at data. they got to make the case. this isn't just about, hey, these shots should go to other places in the world. do we need them? that's going to be the question they really need to answer. >> a new study estimates that
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masking and testing in schools could help prevent covid infections, masking and testing. what does the science say? >> so this is looking at all the observational studies and all the modeling studies that you and i talked about last week. and they basically are saying when we put this all together, what is the modeling show? they say about 75% of students will be exposed to this virus and get these infections. so that's really significant obviously concerning. if you start to layer in these strategies, that's when they say that 24 to 50% with universal masking will still be exposed. it's not perfect, it makes a difference. if you add in testing as well, you take it down to as low as maybe 13% exposures. so what they're saying is that there is enough data now not randomized trials of masking but enough data where you say, hey, they're districts that masked and didn't masked. we see how much of a reduction they can get in overall
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infection rates. it's a model. that's what this is. but it's based on a lot of data not only from the united states but around the world. >> dr. sanjay gupta, thanks so much. good to have you in studio. coming up, a republican who will not stop pushing the big lie. he's now openly suggesting civil war. that's next. ♪ ♪ ♪ and savings like that will have you jumping for joy. now, get new lower auto rates with allstate. because better protection costs a whole lot less. you're in good hands with allstate. click or call for a lower auto rate today.
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as your business changes, the united states postal service is changing with it. with e-commerce that runs at the speed of now. next day and two-day shipping nationwide, and returns right from the doorstep. it's a whole new world out there. let's not keep it waiting. is your family ready for an emergency? you can prepare by mapping out two ways to escape your home, creating a supply kit, and including your whole family in practice drills. for help creating an emergency plan, visit safetyactioncenter.pge.com
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a little preparation will make you and your family safer in an emergency. a week's worth of food and water, radio, flashlight, batteries and first aid kit are a good start to learn more, visit safetyactioncenter.pge.com in our politics lead, president biden now has three major crises on his hands, the withdrawal from afghanistan and trying to go back and rescue americans one way or other. the worsening covid surge, and the aftermath of hurricane ida. all of these are putting the
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biden administration to the test as the world watches to see how president biden responses. let's discuss. olivia, in addition to talking about comedy and getting along and being bipartisan, one of the things that was a central promise, i think, of joe biden's presidency was a return to competence, just basic compet comp competence. how are the american people taking this in? >> you can throw in the wild fires as well. your list is really important because i think that his biggest problem right now is actually covid and the economic knock on effects of covid. i think that has a much more long-term consequential effect on his political fortunes going ahead. we can of course say there can be things that happened in afghanistan, around afghanistan that flirt back up between now and november of 2022. but i do think the more consequential thing is 1,200 americans dying a day, hospitals
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filling up, states being unable to filter water. all those things are looming large. one of the problems with the afghan withdrawal is that he was going to be traveling around the country promoting his in infrastructure plan. >> right. >> so it is not just the handling of the withdrawal, it is also that it eats up all this bandwidth where he wanted to be selling these ambitious policies. >> and popular policies. >> and is instead defending a popular withdrawal and an up popular. >> it is based on a leaf inside the white house that americans, by and large, will ultimately process the withdrawal as a necessary albeit difficult act even if they linger doubts about the execution. i don't disagree with this theory at all. and the american people have not been paying attention to afghanistan for 15 years. generally speaking, is the feeling that in a year nobody in the administration -- i mean,
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nobody in the congress is even going to be talking about this, even his opponents? >> that's what the white house's thinking is, that's what they hope, you know, that's their big bet because, again, things can happen between now and 2022. a lot can happen, whether things get worse in afghanistan or not. but right now the white house is hoping that in this next month they're going to pass the infrastructure package. they're going to pass the reconciliation package, which include the money for elder care, child care, all these things they see as the polls show are very popular. and that by doing that, they're going to be able to refocus on their response to covid, their response to the economy and that that's actually what voters want. when i was talking to some democrats yesterday, you saw these two worlds that are happening, which is that one democrat who is in a safer blue seat was saying that all i'm hearing about is covid, all, you know, mothers and fathers are concerned about whether their
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kids are going to be safe in school with mask mandates, no mask mandates. and then there was a moderate democrat i spoke to. and a lot of those front line democrats are feeling more pressure than the others on afghanistan, on the execution of the withdrawal. and they were saying that they are going to be pursuing those answers relentlessly and they have had to create more distance with the white house than -- than the safer blue democrat. so this is going to continue for biden. investigations are going to be happening. i wouldn't be surprised if some of those moderate democrats start to say that they want -- they potentially want some resignations or they want to see someone take the fall for what happened because they are raising those questions already. >> do you agree, bill? you have been fairly supportive of president biden but not of the execution of this withdrawal? i think you prefer a residual counter terrorism force? >> i would, yes. >> but what do you think the political effects of this would
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be. you know the american people don't really care that much about it. >> they don't unless things really go bad. >> right. >> and if it becomes part of a broader narrative of not being up to the job and stuff -- >> as happened with george w. bush towards the end of his second year. >> so ie rock dove tailed with katrina this term. and suddenly change course in iraq, he got re-elected. he still got re-elected. but the failure to acknowledge reality in iraq, plus katrina were devastating to bush. the outcomes of what could happen in the world as a result of afghan in terms of terror or not. it could be an unfortunate setuation, a setback. that's a big range of outcomes over the year. we don't know how that will look obviously. 2014 -- by october 2015, the world looked unbelievably
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dangerous. the second point i would make is potus don't separate out these individual issues quite as much. but i have talked to people near me who voted for biden. gee, i glad i voted for him. i'm glad it's not trump. but i don't know. i don't think i could vote for him. also at the congressional level we need to check some of this stuff. i thought the speech today was indicative. it was not the speech he could have given. not because of the substance. leave that aside. but at the end of a 20-year war, you should give a presidential speech. you should reflect on what it meant. you should pay tribute to the people who worked, your predecessors, the troops, the civilians over there. talk about your hopes for the world. instead, it was a legalistic defense of debating points in a way on what he had done over the past few weeks. most people didn't want the whole speech, but he's not quite meeting the moment, i would think. that would be what i would worry most about if i were in the
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white house. >> i think it will depend on what happens here on out. i do think he was defensive, but i think he did a lot of what you talked about. he talked about the narrative of why they were getting out. and i think their argument and their deal, i think, is that they believe the american people are going to remember two things: the massively heroic air lift of 120,000 people out of afghanistan in a couple of days and the fact that they ended this 20-year war. that essentially, you know, the majority of the american people are still behind that, but that is not a given, that that is going to be everything that it's going to take in order for him to be okay politically. covid, the economy. i think all of those things are going to be front and center. and the fact they want to get back to covid and want to get back to the infrastructure bill, which are two incredibly difficult issues shows you just how much they want to turn the page. >> just on covid and you were discussing this with sanjay, the fda. people don't understand why
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procedure. lots of rep putable epidemiologists think we could speed this up a little bit. there is no actual head of the fda. biden has been president for eight months. the fda, i worked a little with them. they are a bureaucracy. they can take their time. they have their procedures. someone on top knows what is going on that is a serious scientist that says, wait a second, this is kind of important for schools, for the economy, to get people more comfortable with getting things going on. i don't know. i feel like there is a little too much business and usual. >> not an emergency you are saying. thanks everyone. coming up next, flames closing in on what's normally a picturesque vacation spot. stay with us.
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in our earth matters series, everybody out. that's the order to some 50,000 people as a wild fire inches dangerously close to lake tahoe. this is along the california/nevada border and usually a popular tourist attraction. but now heavy smoke and haze covers the region. the fire has already destroyed nearly 700 structures since it started two weeks ago. crews believe it will take another week to get it fully cop trained. state officials are monitoring 15 large fires burning across california right now. one fire official is calling these fires what they are, not an anomaly, unprecedented or extreme, but instead, unfortunately, yet another clear
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trend of a changing climate. you can follow me on facebook, instagram, twitter or the tiktok @taketapper. you can tweet the show @theleadcnn. our coverage continues with one wolf blitzer, who is, if i'm not mistaken, right next door in "the situation room." i'll see you tomorrow. this is cnn breaking news. welcome to our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room" can breaking news. president biden just delivered his most forceful defense yet of the u.s. withdrawal from afghanistan, declaring america's longest war is now over. the day after the last u.s. military flights left the country, the president is now calling the evacuation operation an extraordinary success, disagreeing wi