tv Stephanie Ruhle Reports MSNBC August 26, 2021 6:00am-7:00am PDT
this yankee team and this time in our nation. >> sea biscuit, if sea biscuit had been shot with a ton of steroids before the race. but i'll let you go with whatever analogy. we're just the little engine that could. >> that's it. >> i think i can, i think i can. >> it is who we are. joe, thank you very much. thanks to all of you. we'll see you back here tomorrow morning. chris jansing picks up the coverage. and that ends the sports portion of our coverage. this morning a terror threat hanging over the mass evacuation effort in afghanistan with just five days left to get out thousands of people from the kabul airport. right now the airport is on high alert after the state department warned americans to leave the gates immediately because of a new terror threat there.
one uk minister describing it as imminent and lethal. in just minutes president biden will meet with his national security team about this rapidly escalating situation. so far the u.s. has evacuated more than 101,000 people including 13,000 over just the last 24 hours. as for american citizens, the state department says 1500 are still in the country, including a third who have been in contact with our government. the white house says they are on track to wrap this up by the president's august 31 deadline. and the taliban is speeding things up, keeping crowds away from the airport. their spokesman telling nbc news that they will stay out of the way for now. >> translator: we don't want our countrymen to go to america. whatever they have done in the past, we have given them amnesty. we need young educated professionals for our nation. but if they want to leave, it is their choice. >> keep in mind an isis affiliate still poses an
immediate threat to people in and around the airport. and with the evacuation possibly winding down this weekend, the threat of violence is growing by the minute. we've got reporters covering every angle of this story. and i have to start with courtney kube at the pentagon. what do we know about this warning last night, what is the security threat for real on the ground? >> reporter: it is very real and this is a persistent 24re9 but threat but there is a new element to it. the concern for the isis khorasan, that is the overall name for the larger group that operates there in afghanistan. the big concern remains around the gates to the airport. there have been as we've seen for days now crowds gathering around those gates trying to get in, most of those if not all are
evacuees trying to get on the flights out of the country. the enduring concern has been that some isis member would be able to infiltrate into that crowd unknown and they might have a threat from a suicide bomber or a big concern is what they call a vehicle-born ied, somebody is able to get a vehicle into those crowds and blow it up there potentially injuring civilians, potentially injuring american military who are there at some of those gates and u.s. consular officers. as you mentioned, a new warning telling americans not to go to those gates. also you mentioned the taliban working with the u.s., coordinating with the u.s. that has been ongoing now also for about a week now. and what they are doing is the u.s. is talking to the -- the u.s. military is talking to essentially their military don't
counterparts there in kabul, coordinating there to bring americans safely to the airport. we heard yesterday there john kirby who shed a little more light on it, they are actually providing the kinds of documents that the u.s. would have, these americans would have, to get through the gates and the taliban are looking at these documents and helping give safe passage. so they are bringing these gates -- or these crowds around the gates, the taliban are helping to push back those crowds to provide safe passage for the americans. so all that being said, that has been working for the past several days. but with the gates shut down, there is a very real issue for any americans to try to get to those gates and get safely through them. and again, the larger issue here is this isis threat that is persistent, it is very real. we've heard from a number of u.s. allies about their warnings about it as well. >> yeah, more than a complication. so geoff, the administration did
to be fair get more than 100,000 people out pretty quickly, but the danger grows as we heard from courtney, unlikely that everyone will get out on time by that 31st dead line. how does the administration plan to pull this off? >> it is a key question that the administration has yet to answer definitively because so much of it depends on events on the ground. so here is what we know. we know this evacuation window is closing quickly. the pentagon has acknowledged that as this operation nears its end, space on military aircraft will have to be reserved for u.s. troops. not necessarily civilians, but troops to make sure that they are out of country by august 31. as you mentioned we heard from the state department yesterday that there are roughly 1500 americans believed to be remaining in afghanistan. the state department sayscontac those americans that they are working to evacuate and they are trying to reach the balance of that number believed to be there. there are outside estimates that
there are roughly 250,000 afghans who have assisted the u.s. effort over the last 20 years, folks who would qualify for these special visas to be evacuated. now, we heard from the secretary of state antony blinken yesterday that for those afghans and even for those americans who might remain in country beyond the end of the month, that the u.s. will spare no resource economic or diplomatic, including resources among u.s. allies, to make sure that those folks that want to get out after the deadline would be granted safe passage. here is a bit more of what he had to say. >> there is no deadline on our work to help any remaining american citizens who decide they want to leave to do so along with the many afghans who have stood by us over these many years and want to leave and have been unable to do so. >> reporter: but it is clear u.s. options for doing just that shrink dramatically as the operation nears i end. rhetoric is one thing, but putting it into practice is entirely different.
>> geoff, thanks. and as we watch on the screen scores of people on that plane that just took off from kabul airport, destination unknown. but we do have about a dozen places where those planes are eventually going to. one of those places is ramstein air base in germany which brings me to matt bradley who has been talking to refugees there. what are you hearing on the ground? >> reporter: yeah, i'm not far from ramstein air base, one of the largest in the world. and it is one of the major hubs for afghans who are leaving afghanistan and headed to the states or other third countries. and we heard just this morning that so far 14,500 have been processed. 55 flights have come in so far, but only 16 have left. and the main barrier at ramstein is actually bureaucratic, it is processing people. we've spent the past couple of days visiting the base and talking to afghan evacuees and
for the most part everybody is satisfied with the conditions there. there is a tent city of about 323 tents set up in a very short period of time. and for all of those people living there, they have almost all of their needs have been met. they are living in these tents a hangars that would normally house airplanes. they have all the access they need to food, water, medical care. what they don't have is information. a lot said that they were distressed because they don't know when they will be leaving or where they will be heading. it is supposed to take no longer than ten days. if you are at ramstein air base for longer than ten days, that might be a violation of protocol. but we've heard that they are trying to get everybody processed in 24 to 72 hours. and that is why there has been this bottleneck. it does seem as though over the last day or two that the numbers have been picking up, the number of flights that are taking off
as evened out more with the flights that are landing. but in these last couple days before that final withdrawal from kabul, we'll start to see a lot more action here at ramstein air base. >> matt bradley, thank you. gabe, you are outside and expo center in virginia where some afghan refugees are already being housed. how are things looking there? >> reporter: just within the past few minutes actually, few moments, this bus that was parked right behind me rolled out of here. we've been seeing that throughout the day. and virginia governor says that they have at least 6,000 afghans that have already arrived in virginia over the last several days. some of them are being housed here at the dulles expo center. they just now closed the gate. it is hard to see what is going on behind there. but throughout the morning we have been seeing afghans loading into these buses and being transported to military bases across the country.
some are expected to be sent to military bases in texas, wisconsin, we're told one bus was driving to new jersey this morning. so this is an ongoing process here. and yesterday, we actually spoke though with a man who has been desperately trying to get family members out of afghanistan. and he has also been helping other people, other u.s. families that have been trying to get some of the relatives out of the country. and i sat down with him and i asked how this process was going and he told me it was a matter of life and death. take a listen. >> speaking to the taliban, the security guards, i'm speaking to everyone. i do not even know these people but i want to make sure these people get into the base. >> how many family members have you gotten out? >> my immediate family, 17. >> 17 immediate family members? >> yes. >> and how many people total? >> 68. >> in just a few days. >> in just a few days. >> reporter: so again, he told
us 68 people he has helped guide out of afghanistan either by offering advice, directions. he's getting calls at all hours of the day and night. and of course some of these are american citizens, others are afghans who helped the u.s. during this war the last two decades, this desperate struggle to get them out. right now hundreds of afghans here at the dulles expo center outside of washington, d.c. where throughout the morning, we continue to see them loaded up on to buses and transferred across the country. >> thanks so much for that. now of course key to this depends on the taliban. richard engel spoke to the taliban spokesman yesterday, this is a very rare tv interview. watch part of it. >> translator: osama bin laden became an issue for the americans, he was in afghanistan. although there was no proof that he was involved now we have given promises that afghan soil won't be used against anyone.
>> you still don't think that osama bin laden carried out 9/11? >> there is no evidence even after 20 years of war, we have no proof that he was involved. >> so it sounds like even now after all of this, you are accepting no responsibility. >> translator: there was no justification for this war. it was excuse for war. >> so courtney, the taliban wants us to think that they have changed, that they are cooperating, but obviously then you have them not even willing to admit to what happened on 9/11, which speaks to this sort of tightrope that the pentagon is walking, that they need the taliban but you can't necessarily believe what they say. >> reporter: yeah, that's right. so there is a tactical agreement, a coordination or even cooperation on the ground right now between the u.s. military and the taliban and that is for one reason, both sides have the same aim and that is getting americans out of the country. so right now the taliban are cooperating in very real ways to help americans get safely to
kabul airport and get out of the country. but the reality is this is the taliban. no matter what they are saying about changing their ways and they will allow afghans to live safely and they will allow women with more rights, whatever it is they are saying, we'll have to see what they actually do. defense officials who i'm speaking to do not have a lot of confidence that they have changed their ways and this will be some new version of the taliban. but right now one reason we're not hearing a lot of criticism for them and we probably won't hear any criticism of the taliban specifically from the defense department before the u.s. is completely out and that is because they are helping them and the military, the pentagon, they don't want to do anything to tip that balance so that the taliban would no longer help americans. as geoff mentioned, there are still a lot of americans trying to get out and they are also trying to help afghans if they can to get out. so in the meantime, they are working with the taliban and hope that it continues. >> courtney, geoff, thanks to
you both. appreciate it. coming up this morning, a shocking new reality, 100,000 americans in the hospital with covid. the highest number since january. when we didn't even really have the vaccine yet. many hospitals are reaching their breaking point, including this icu in portland, oregon. >> our physicians are just being called at every opportunity can you take this patient, can you help us consult on this patient, this patient is 26 and dying, this patient is 21 and dying, this patient is a father of four and dying. f four and dying. i always wanted to learn more about him. i discovered some very interesting documents on ancestry. this is the uh registration card for the draft for world war two. and this is his signature which blew me away. being able to... make my grandfather real... not just a memory... is priceless. his legacy...lives on.
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developing now, we have a white house covid-19 response team briefing, a news conference that will happen a little more than an hour from now. want to let you know that we'll be covering that live when it happens. here is what they and we as a country are facing right now. more than 100,000 people are hospitalized with covid-19 across the u.s. that is a level we have not seen since january 0th when vaccines with your were not yet widely available. and now states are having to order refrigerated morgue trucks because local funeral homes can't keep up with the increasing number of bodies. those states include alabama, texas and florida. and speaking of florida, the state reported an all-time daily record high for new covid cases wednesday, more than 26,000.
as covid cases climb, we're getting a revealing look inside one icu completely overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. this is portland, oregon. >> this patient is 26 and dying. this patient is 21 and dying. this patient is a father of four and dying. is it is full. >> reporter: health care workers are exhausted and straining to keep up with the surge of covid patients. >> you see these people, you know it is preventable, what goes through your mind? >> heartbreaking knowing people are fighting for their lives. and it could have been prevented. i don't think people have an inkling of the amount of suffering that you will experience being sick with covid. it is extremely painful. >> it could have been prevented.
joining us nous he willus, elli kerry sanders and also a global health policy expert to help us with all of this. dr. gupta, 100,000 hospitalized with covid across the country. what does that tell us about where we are and where things might be headed? >> good morning. good to see you. we are in a place right now that in some way reminds us of 12 months ago, but where we're headed is continued stress across hospitals in certain parts of the country that have low vaccine rates. so we're expecting anywhere from 1200 to 1500 deaths day over day well through the middle of the october. and then the concerning part there is we're entering cold and flu season. so noncovid ailments like influenza, rsv for all the parents out there who have kids already coming down with this
respiratory virus, that is the great unknown. the combination of those viruses combined with the stress of covid. what we're seeing in portland is what we're seeing across the country in icus. rationing of care. dialysis machines, nurses and respiratory therapists and even advanced therapies like ecmo. >> so ellison, i honestly thought that this was a typo. you are at a rural mississippi hospital. it is 185% overcapacity? how do you even deal with that? >> reporter: it is really challenging. dr. gupta just mentioned rationing care. barely a week ago at this hospital they were having discussions about who to let go and who to give ventilators to because they did not have enough. we were inside the emergency room at this hospital yesterday, we were also on the floor of their covid icu. that icu is entirely full. typically they have eight icu
beds that the hospital. this is a small rural hospital. right now they have 15 covid patients needing icu care. so what does that look like? when we were on the floor of the emergency room, we saw two different rooms where they had covid patients intubated, doubled up in the rooms that they need to be. but there is no room for them upstairs. there are three icu nurses working to take care of eight icu covid patients in the icu here, all of them on ventilators. they have three nurses in their emergency room working to take care typically five to six covid patients that again need icu care but they have nowhere else for them to go in addition to all of their normal e.r. visits, all their normal e.r. patients. it is taking an enormous toll here. resources, they don't have many of them and emotionally, it is beyond draining. listen to what one of the e.r. nurses told us just yesterday.
>> it has been a nightmare. we're seeing very sick patients. we don't have enough staff to take care of these patients. we're having to double them up in rooms, we're running out of supplies, things that we need. >> reporter: mississippi's emergency management agency announced that they awarded four different multimillion-dollar contracts to outside vendors to try to hopefully help with the staffing shortages happening at hospitals all across this state. governor tate reeves says that they will deploy over 11,000 health care personnel within the next week or so. there are 61 hospitals in this state that have requested additional help. this hospital is number 17 on the list. they expect to get at least 20 icu nurses in the coming days. and that help, it cannot come fast enough. >> so kerry, you are in florida,
the state just hit a new daily record for covid cases. kind of an obvious question, but just how bad is it there? >> reporter: when you take a look at the state of florida, i think the number that says it most is that nationwide one in five people who are dying in hospitals are dying from covid here in florida. and so you get the sense of how bad it is. we take a look at some numbers here. as you look at the numbers, i think you'll get an idea, this is just florida. wednesday 26,203 new cases, today that is more than 3 million total cases. and getting back to the deaths, even though medicine has moved beyond where it was at the beginning where people were accepted into a hospital almost certainly were dying, now we see so many more people surviving. but even at that, total deaths in the state, more than 42,000. so as with take a look at what government has been trying to do, requiring face masks, trying
to encourage or in many cases government having employees have to get their vaccines, there is now sort of a reflection of what happens in private industry. this is capitalism. free market determining how things will go forward. you can see delta over my shoulder, i'm here at the airport because delta air lines has announced that i was 74,000 employees will be enticed to go ahead and get the vaccine. so for those who choose not to, they will actually be assessed a fee, $200 a month. the ceo of delta air lines saying that the cost for somebody to be hospitalized with coronavirus is about $50,000. and that is the sort of expense that the airline cannot absorb with its insurance. and so they will charge $200 a month. it may be that that $200 a month hitting somebody's wallet is enough to get people to get the
vaccine. or they will just have to pay. now, you may be thinking to yourself, well, is that penalty. i actually spoke to a legal expert to say is this a penalty or how would you describe it. this is what she had to say. >> it is a fee. so a financial penalty kind of is designed to punish something. delta's explan nation was you are imposing more costs on us, you should bear some of them. so they are basically saying we're not punishing you, but if you are going to make us pay, we want you to pay part of the cost. a little bit like a deductible. >> reporter: so this is akin to the programs that exist at many companies across the country that if you are a smoker, if you are smoker you pay an additional fee in your insurance to cover the expected health-related events that happen because you are a smoker. delta air lines doing this. we've already seen deloitte, disney and other companies doing this. again, not a government mandate
here, not a company mandate, but something that is being encouraged here by the free market. >> a money push. thanks so much for that, kerry. so stephanie, doctors are sounding a pretty loud alarm because there is this troubling surge in pregnant women who are becoming severely ill with covid and i'm assuming we're talking about unvaccinated women. >> yeah, we are. and it is of particular concern in the south. nbc news spoke to a number of doctors in the south who say that they are seeing more pregnant women in their icus than ever before. it is an alarming trend putting expectant parents on notice. nbc news spoke to doctors in several states who reported a spike in covid hospitalizations among pregnant women. seeing double and in some cases triple the number. nearly all of the patients are unvaccinated. >> last few weeks of your pregnancy, it is very hard to breathe. your body's immunity also
changes during pregnancy. so combining these two things, it makes it very difficult to deal with a situation like covid. >> he leads the icu at broward health medical center in florida and his unit usually sees four to five pregnant women a year. now he says they see that many in a week. and although it is unclear if unborn babies can contract covid in the womb, whons they once th delivered, they are separated from mothers often too sick to hold them. how tough is that conversation that she can't hold her baby because she is too sick with covid? >> it is hard, extremely hard. >> reporter: cdc data shows that one in four pregnant women have been vaccinated during their pregnancy. it was only this summer that major health organizations and federal agencies issued full throated recommendations that pregnant women get vaccinated. previously just saying it was encouraged because pregnant women didn't take part in the early trials. but now there is data showing
the vaccine is safe. >> it is very, very clear that it is safe in pregnant women. >> reporter: the cdc says 131 pregnant women have died of covid complications and more than 200 have lost their pregnancies. haley richardson was a nurse from alabama who was pregnant with her second child. she and her unborn daughter passed away last week, less than a month after she tested positive for covid. her best friend says richardson had not gotten vaccinated because of the lack of research at the time regarding the impact on pregnancies. doctors report pregnant women are more likely to be put on ventilators and other machines to support critical organs like the heart and lungs. a recent study found pregnant women who get covid are 40% more likely to deliver prematurely. so there may be some women who are pregnant and vaccinated and wondering what it means for them with the delta variant. and the doctor who we spoke to said while they have the vaccine
now and they are much better protected against the delta variant, they should consider taking those extra precautions that some people are taking right now, avoiding inside spaces that are crowded, wearing masks, social distancing, that kind of thing because they are more vulnerable being pregnant. >> i can just tell in you new york, a lot more people wearing masks outdoors. dr. gupta, i want to talk about pregnant women. it speaks to the very real concern that there was that maybe there wasn't research into women who were pregnant and vaccinated, but does it also speak to the gross amount of misinformation out there, that it was dangerous for pregnant women to get the vaccine and a lot of that as we know took hold early on in this pandemic. >> you are absolutely right. this is a question that was not studied in 2020 when the vaccine was being developed because we needed to develop effectiveness
and state in folks first that were not pregnant. so that is why the first six months of 2021, reams of data, tens of thousands of individuals, pregnant, not pregnant, have been studied to seestephanie just raised which that these studies show that the vaccines are safe and effective. but you're right, there was that information vacuum. we've filled it but we're playing catchup to address those conspiracy theories. >> thanks to you all. much appreciated. and coming up, the terror threat looming over the afghanistan evacuation effort. we just got breaking news from the pentagon about that. plus, how will chaotic exit affect president biden and democrats in 2022? that is next. allstate.
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back now to afghanistan with some breaking news amid the ongoing terror threat at the kabul airport. we just heard from the pentagon secretary, press secretary, there had been reports that in 36 hours evacuation efforts were going to end including some coming out of france. you see what john kirby tweeted, evacuation operations in kabul will not be wrapping up in 36 hours. we will continue to evacuate as
many people as we can until the end of the mission. it comes as we see more political fallout from the withdrawal after the taliban took control quicker than most were expecting. while a majority of americans agree with president biden's decision to pull troops, nearly two-thirds disapprove of how he has handled it. as the evacuation continues, republicans and members of his own party aren't pleased either. joining me now, politico white house reporter and playbook co-author eugene daniels and also with us correspondent peter baker. good to see you. eugene, first and foremost, we know lives are at stake in kabul. but as a political issue, how big a challenge, how important are these next five days for the president? >> it is huge, right? because is this a president who one of the reasons that he is pulling out of afghanistan is because he wants to focus on domestic issues, he wants to focus on china, on russia. and so what this does political capital is basically everything
in washington, d.c. so the less he has, the less he is able to get done here at home. we're already seeing some democratic lawmakers saying -- kind of going against the president here's needs them to pass the rest of his agenda. we're seeing him take a hit in the polls because you also have an entire pandemic that is starting to ramp up in a lot of places like you covered in your last block there. and i think those are the things that we're watching, right? covid and afghanistan are the reason that the president's poll numbers have been pulled down, but to be honest, his aides though they are concerned about it, they remain focused and convinced that history will prove them right here and that this is going to be more of a bump as they continue to pull people out, more than 100,000 people they said. now, at this point they feel good about that and they feel like at the end of the day that will be the legacy of the pullout of afghanistan, not what
we saw at the very beginning. whether that is actually true, we'll have to see, but that is how they are feeling at the white house about it. >> and so peter, obviously the president's numbers have been going down and i was looking at this new florida poll, a state biden lost by three points, now there is a 13 point gap. a majority of florida voters disapprove of his job performance. i understand what eugene says that the president believes history will prove him right, i'm sure a lot of folks around him believe that as well, but politically how worried are the folks at the white house whose job it is to worry about these kinds of numbers given the fact that 2022 may come sooner than the judgment of history? >> yeah, that is exactly right. look, the most important thing as a matter of politics as long as we make it about politics rather than the human story is they get out every american that they can in the next five days and that there aren't any americans who are taken hostage or killed as part of it. if that happens the political
dynamics are scrambled. their calculation at the white house, cold as it may be, that as long as americans aren't hurt in the way we exit, that americans at home won't ultimately care too much about what happens to the afghans and won't care too much about the sort of messy withdrawal. now, that may be. polls definitely show that most americans want us out. are tired of this war and approve the president's decision to withdraw. but assuming americans do get out safely, these pictures reinforce a narrative that won't be helpful to the president of not being as confident as he said that he would be. he came to office promising that he was going to be the competent president after a president who didn't know what he was doing, was bombastic and self absorbed and that biden would be the grown up in the room who would make things smooth and order early. so his own words will be held against him. so while most approve getting
out, but it will have damage to him politically. >> and i thought it was the interview with the two congressmen who were widely criticized for going to kabul. congressman seth moulton had this to say about the taliban. quote, there is no way we can get everyone out even by september 11. so we need to have a working relationship with the taliban after our departure and the only way to achieve that is to leave by august 31. so although democratic and republican leadership may have been critical and they have been widely criticized by their colleagues, it sounds like they are landing on the side of joe biden. >> yeah, it is a surprising comment that they made, they have changed their minds about that and they do support august 31 as a deadline. no doubt that august 31 is being imposed out of our desire to have a relationship of some sort with the taliban. president biden sent the cia director bill burns to negotiate with the taliban, didn't get an
extension of the august 31 deadline which is the deadline that biden set in the first praise. but they seem to believe that if they extend beyond that, they will risk a rupture with the taliban that could impact americans who are still going to be left behind because not everybody will probably choose to leave. and i think that that seems to be foremost in their mind, they seem to have convinced these two critics who went to visit the scene. >> peter, eugene, thank you both so much. coming up, the new reporting about the warning capitol police got gist one day before the january 6 attack. as the committee investigating the insurrection narrows in on former president trump and his allies. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪
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violence at the hands of president trump supporters. the latest now from scott mcfarland. >> and with each week come more revelations of the warning flags before the insurrection. the secret service warned capitol police their officers could be targeted. there is also the new nbc 4 washington investigation showing a sudden spike in web traffic to this obscure d.c. website that had underground tunnel maps. the fbi, capitol hill police was warned about that. capitol hill police say at no point prior to january 6 was there actionable intelligence of a large scale attack. they acknowledge getting warnings about the tunnel website, they acknowledge getting an fbi alert from the norfolk field office, but this is what the skran 6
committee will add, extending congress' review to prevent future horrors from happening. and my reporting last night, new court filings from the justice department show in the body camera video they reviewed, so far they have seen images of at least 1,000 assaults on federal law enforcement officers. >> wow. and they just released a sweeping document request to federal agencies targeting the trump family and senior aides. what sort of information are they looking for? >> this is very aggressive, they are requesting documents related in any way to the events of january 6, the demonstration and otherwise. and they are targeting dozens of members -- dozens of individuals close to the former president, including administration staff, outside allies, it includes family members of donald trump. some of the names mentioned in that letter will be familiar to
observers of the white house, rudy giuliani, pat cipollone, mark meadows, all of trump's adult children except tiffany as well as roger stone. they are going back to december 1, more than a month before the events of january 6, to try to trace the steps to create a version of events leading up to that attack and broadly speaking this is an aggressive at the same time on the part of the committee in terms of what they believe the scope of their investigative powers are in that pe believe this is a fire had been kindling for quite a long time and someone threw a match on it. they want to know who talked to who and get information such as schedules, calls, they want logs, they want information about the meetings people had. they are going for broke, they want all the information that they can possibly get that could paint a picture, paint a narrative of what really happened and what caused that attack on this capitol. >> thank you so much. we need to turn away now for breaking news out of afghanistan because we have just heard from
the pentagon press secretary, there has been some sort of explosion outside the kabul airport. we have known that there were reports of a high threat of a terror attack there. there were concerns about this isis group called isis-k. we have courtney kube at the pentagon, is that right? okay. she is on the phone. she's working the phones trying to get some information information. but let's just remind you exactly what we knew earlier this morning as we see yet another plane that takes off from the kabul airport. we didn't see any signs of that explosion. but again, an explosion outside the airport. countries besides the u.s. have been scrambling to get people out because of this threat. in fact the united states, some other governments including the uk, have been urging people to stay away. there were reports that this group isis-k posed an imminent
threat, and in fact some european countries had already begun to halt flights from hamid karzai international airport. all these other countries with the massive evacuations have karzai international airport. the united states and other western countries with these massive evacuations have been urging people to stay away from the airport amid these growing concerns. in fact the twae it was phrased by the uk government, they called thissy the possibility of an imminent, lethal attack. it's important to say, we just learned of this. we just got this tweet from the pentagon. we don't know exactly what's happened. i'm sorry. my producer is telling me something. what? number of casualty, or if there are even any casualties are unclear. what we do know is that they have been looking at intelligence over the course of
the last week, as they have been ramping up efforts in advance of this august 31st deadline to make sure that they are certain about the credibility. and, again, they now call this a credible, imminent possibility of a lethal attack. john kirby, there you are again, we can confirm an explosion outside kabul airport. as we said, casualties are unclear at this time. we will provide additional details when we have them. the kind of intelligence they say they have of an ongoing, high-level threat. courtney, this is very early. tell us what you have been able to find out. >> very little, chris. basically, we can say there are reports, we don't know if they're accurate or not. there are reports on social media of some sort of potential explosion outside one of the
gates at kabul airport. basically i can provide you a little bit of a scene setter of what's been going on at kabul airport. the first thing is this threat. this has been -- there's been a perfect sicht threat since late last week. and it is specific to isis, that isis had interest, was planning to, was trying to attack kabul airport and specifically attack westerners, americans and potentially afghan civilians who were trying to get to the airport to get on these evacuation flights. you have seen over the last week these crowds outside many of these gates, and the concern was that among those crowds and evacuees that someone from an isis fighter could infiltrate those groups and potentially act as a suicide attacker, sicide bomber, or that they might be able to get a vehicle up close enough to the gate for a vehicle-born improve ied explosive device that could potentially kill people waiting at the gate. that has been one of the big concerns and big threats of the
u.s. military, and u.s. allies have been worried about at kabul airport. it is continuing. and there is -- the threat has even -- not just persisted but accelerated in the last 24 hours, the concerns about it. because of that, we saw the u.s. embassy warning americans not to go to the gate because they were worried about the potential threat and they were worried about americans being targeted. so, again, we don't know. we don't have good visibility at this point about what may be going on. but the reports are that something may have happened at the abby gate. for perspective, the abby gate is on the far southeast side of the airport. it is one where there have been americans and westerners and some afghan sivs who have been going through, over the last several days. there's also actually what used to be a small u.s. installation over there on that side. there's a western hotel. so it was an area that was known to americans and to westerners who worked and -- lived and
worked in kabul. but it's also one of the locations where there have been a large crowd growing. the crowd actually had been so big that just a week ago today, last thursday, there was a group of 159 americans who were planning to go from that hotel through the abby gate to get into the airport for evacuation. and the crowd got so big that the u.s. military commander made the decision to actually take several chinook helicopters, land them at the hotel and get americans safely over the crowd so that they wouldn't face the poe tepgs threats of that crowd in there. again, chris, this is all developing. that's what we know about the overall situation right now. >> give us more background, if i can ask, when they put out that warning and telling americans basically stay away from the airport. one of the things they said out of the u.s. embassy was, we have contingency plans in place, however, for emergencies, and they asked them to monitor local media. do we know anything about contingency plans, how prepared they were at the airport if something like this should happen? >> yes.
absolutely. so, they were -- this is the military. they always have -- they have contingencies for everything. there has been a real concern. because of that, they have stepped up security around those gates. that's actually -- we heard about these bottlenecks and people having such a hard time getting through. part of that is due to the fact that they're trying to limit the crowds outside the gate and inside the airport. but a big part of that is because of the security concern. they have been very worried about an isis attack. and this is afghanistan. this is kabul. there are frequently threats all over. but this one was very specific. and it was very tailored to the airport and to people who were trying to get through there with a real concern, according to defense officials i spoke with, that they were going to target americans. remember, there are u.s. military and u.s. consular officer at some of these gates meeting people as they're coming through. it's not just people on the outside who will potentially be targeted, impacted by this, but
military and american civilians on the inside who could also be targeted by one of these potential attacks. >> how specific do they have this down to? in other words a group of americans at a hotel, they made the decision not safe for them to come by more traditional means. they get the helicopters in there, bring them directly inside of kabul's airport where they have the security there, but in terms of every american who they have contacted, who they know want to get out, are there very specific instructions, timing? do they have any sort of folks who are taking them from where they are to where they're going? i don't want to get into things we're not supposed to talk about, but what exactly do we know in terms of the confidence level of folks at the airport that they know when and who in terms of the american citizens are coming to the airport and where they're coming from? >> reporter: so you hit the nail on the head.
this is highly coordinated when they are telling americans to come to the airport. they get information from the state department. they get very specific instructions about what to do, where to go, who will meet them and very specific instructions on timing. a lot of that information is being held closely. even though there are a lot of reporters and americans, there are people who know what's happening. because there is one big element of this is the taliban has been helping with this coordination. so because of that, there's a lot of reticents that if it gets out there the taliban will not continue to cooperate and get these americans through these checkpoints and safely to the gates. you're absolutely right. this is a very highly coordinated process for americans. i need to stress that part. it's for americans. there are still a lot of -- there are american citizens there who need help, who are hiding in kabul, who are trying to get out. the u.s. military knows of cases where there are americans who cannot get safely to the airport. we know of at least three
instances in addition to the one last thursday, there were at least two others where they sent helicopters out to pick people up. i can only imagine there have been more cases than that that they just aren't telling us about, that they'll tell us about later when this overall evacuation mission is over. again the threat environment there has only gotten worse and worse every single day since this mission began. and today is one of those days where there is a very real threat at the airport. americans are being told to stay away. >> yeah. >> this is only going to work to slow down this effort to get people out that really have ramped up over the last several days. >> courtney, you want work the phone. let's get over to the white house where i understand the president has been briefed. >> reporter: i was just going to share that detail with you, chris, yes. i got a text from a white house official saying president biden has been briefed on this explosion outside the kabul airport. white house officials, our team was up in what we call the upper press area and white house officials there are huddling and
learning of this information as we are learning of it in real time. they're reporting to this 10:30 pentagon press briefing that was previously scheduled. we'll have to see if the timing on that flies. when you heard president biden deliver those remarks early this week, he said every day that u.s. troops remain in this region, in afghanistan, they face a grave and growing threat posed by terror groups in the area. he pointed directly to isis-k, the isis affiliate in afghanistan. we don't yet know who is responsible for this attack. but i will also say that in coming out to speak with you, we saw at least one airplane take off as the white house, the administration tries to continue this evacuation effort, tries to ramp it up, in fact, as we near this august 31st deadline. chris? >> geoff bennett, thank you so much. the president has been briefed. folks are huddling there. there's been an explosion of some type outside the kabul airport. you see the planes on the tarmac at the hamid karzai airport
there in afghanistan. we continue our coverage right now. let's toss it over to garrett haake. garrett? >> chris jansing, thank you. i'm garrett haake. there has been an explosion outside the kabul airport. you're looking at live pictures of the airport. it's 6:30 in the evening tonight. pentagon says casualties are still unclear at this point. we know that the president has been briefed on the explosion. he was in a preplanned national security meeting this morning. white house officials are huddling as we speak. we hope to learn more from them soon. the airport has been under a terror threat all morning. this was going to our top story even before this attack. so, americans have been told to leave the airport gates and to stay away. all of this is happening as the pentagon is set to give an update in the next 30 minutes. we'll see if that remains on schedule and we'll bring it to you live when it happens. meantime w