tv ABC World News Tonight With David Muir ABC August 18, 2021 3:30pm-4:00pm PDT
personnel in danger, as well. kristen: sheriff martin, thank you very much. we'll have the latest on the fire at 4:00. tonight, breaking news as we come on the air. the abc news exclusive with president biden. his first interview since the fall of afghanistan to the taliban. president biden one-on-one with george stephanopoulos. the president said just weeks ago, a taliban takeover was highly unlikely. so, was the intelligence wrong or did the president downplay it? how the president responds. did u.s. military leaders suggest keeping some sort of a footprint on the ground? and if the u.s. doesn't complete its evacuations by the august 31st deadline, will troops stay to get americans out? and what about the thousands of afghans who helped the u.s.? all of this amid the reality on the ground tonight. our team and what they witnessed just outside the kabul airport. fear and chaos.
gun fire believed from the taliban, beatings in the streets, contradicting the taliban's promise of an orderly transition. tens of thousands of afghan men, women and children desperate now to board planes, caught in the middle. the pentagon say it was planning to get up to 9,000 people out of afghanistan a day, but just 2,000 in the last 24 hours. tonight here, the defense secretary is pressed, can he assure safe passage for americans and afghans to the airport, to get them past the taliban? what he acknowledged today. ian pannell on the ground, george stephanopoulos at the white house. and back here at home tonight, the major news in the fight against the coronavirus. tonight, the biden administration now says there will be a third shot, a booster shot available to everyone 18 and older beginning september 20th. tonight, the cdc pointing to three new studies. what they saw that most concerned them. dr. besser is here to guide us through it. we are also tracking severe
storms as we come on the air tonight. a tornado watch for washington, d.c., baltimore, into pennsylvania. flash flood watches from pennsylvania up through new york and new england. singer see standing by to time this out. the wildfires exploding in california. thousands evacuating the call door fire, nearly tripling in size in 24 hours. and tonight, the power shut off to nearly 50,000 customers to prevent wires from sparking more fires. plus, the news from garth brooks tonight. and a big day for a former first lady. good evening and it's great to have you with us here on a wednesday night. and we didn't tonight with the abc news exclusive. president biden, his first interview since the taliban takeover of afghanistan. george stephanopoulos one-on-one with the president, was there an intelligence failure here or did
the president downplay it? did u.s. military leaders suggest leaving some troops in afghanistan? and what happens when the august 31st deadline comes, if there are still thousands of americans on the ground? will u.s. troops stay and will they stay for the afghans who t images tonight, our team witnessing the chaos outside airport gates in kabul. desperate afghans holding their children, taliban fighters with long guns standing guard. our ian pannell and the team there outside the walls when the heavily armed taliban approaches them. this new video emerging tonight of u.s. troops helping a woman climb over the wall at the airport. overnight, u.s. troops firing tear gas to control the surging crowd and tonight, the very difficult scenes now emerging. reports of taliban fighters using their weapons on some who have gathered there. reports of at least a dozen wounded outside the airport including a woman and her child. a convoy of taliban trucks circulating in kabul, tightening
their control. and showing no patience with protesters around the country. a violent and deadly crackdown in the city of jalal bad. meanwhile, at the white house, the president briefed by his national security team. tonight, as many as 15,000 americans and at least 65,000 afghans and their families are still desperate to get out. we will go live to kabul, but we begin here with george stephanopoulos one-on-one with the president. >> reporter: back in july, you said a taliban takeover was highly unlikely. was the intelligence wrong or did you downplay it? >> i think, there was no consensus. if you take a look back on the intelligence reports, they said it was more likely to be by some time at the end of the year. >> reporter: you didn't put a timeline out when you said it was highly unlikely. you just said flat out it's highly unlikely the taliban would take over. >> yeah. well, the question was whether or not it -- the idea that the taliban would take over was premised on the notion that the -- somehow the
300,000 troops we had trained and equipped was just going to collapse, they were going to give up. i don't think anybody anticipated that. >> reporter: we've all seen the pictures. we've seen those hundreds of people packed in a c-17. we've seen afghans falling -- >> that was four days ago, five days ago. >> reporter: what did you think when you first saw those pictures? >> what i thought was, we have to gain control of this. we have to mve this more quickly. we have to move in a way in which we can take control of that airport. and we did. >> reporter: so you don't think this could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes? >> no, i don't think it could have been handled in a way that -- we're going to go back in hindsight and look, but the idea that somehow there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, i don't know how that happens. i don't know how that happened. >> reporter: so for you, that was always priced into the decision? >> yes. >> let's bring in george stephanopoulos. george, i was watching that interview as it came in, a lot to unpack here.
you're going to have a lot more on "good morning america." but i wanted to double down here on two things you pressed the president on. the president claims that military leaders did not tell him to keep a smaller footpoint on the ground, 2,500 troops. and he said u.s. intelligence did not predict a collapse this we quickly? >> reporter: he was very firm on that, on the intelligence, first, he was saying, yes, the taliban might control, but no one expected the speed where it happened, contradicting what we've heard from senators and intelligence officials, as well. the president said that no one was predicting the taliban could come into power this quickly, that the afghan army, the afghan political structure would just collapse over the course of a week. and he did take on those who say the military was advising him to keep a small u.s. force, group of u.s. forces there, about 2,500 troops there. he is saying that is not the recommendation he got from the military and he firmly believes that it would have taken many
more thousands of american troops to keep -- to keep afghanist afghanistan stable if we stayed. >> and i was struck by the notion of the august 31st deadline. will american troops be out if americans remain, if some of those who helped us, the afghan interpreters, if they are still there, will the troops stay and help? >> reporter: the president said american troops will stay until all americans that want to leave can leave. he was slightly more equivocal on the afghans that helped out. >> all right, thanks to george stephanopoulos, with us tonight. and there will be much more from george's interview first thing in the morning on "good morning america" and across all of our abc news platforms. and this interview, of course, comes amid what we're seeing play out on the ground right there in kabul and across afghanistan tonight. despite the taliban's promise of an orderly transition, what our team has not witnessed. and the defense secretary was pressed today, can he assure
safe passage for americans and afghans, to get them to the airport, to get them past the taliban? and what he acknowledged. here's our senior foreign correspondent ian pannell from kabul again tonight. >> reporter: tonight, fear and pandemonium outside kabul airport, as thousands of desperate afghans try to leave. the americans may control the runways now, but just yards away, this -- wild and angry taliban fighters firing repeated shots over people's heads, whipping and beating the most vulnerable. women and children bloodied. the extremists struggling to control the surging crowds. we tried to film here when the taliban approached us. >> taliban -- >> permission. abc news. thank you. >> reporter: at first they backed away. then more fighters appeared. guirerti aound.e permission, wes
weapons drawn, the taliban forced us back to our cars. stop filming. stop filming. just put it down. thousands of innocent lives caught in the crossfire. we're foreigners, we've got an armored vehicle. we can get out of here. but those people, desperate to leave the country, they have to face that just to get to the military side of the airport, even if they have permission to leave. and they've got to run the gauntlet of some of the scariest people you could ever meet. as we left, we saw children sliding through a crack in the perimeter wall. keep your camera down, i do not want to attract their attention. but we're again forced to lower the camera, as more gunfire erupted. the chaos directly contradicting any talk of an orderly evacuation process. the u.s. promising to airlift up to 9,000 people per day. but only 2,000 were flown out
aboard 18 c-17s that took off in the last 24 hours. as many as 15,000 americans and at least 65,000 afghans and their families now desperately trying to get out. but the journey to the airport and the passing the taliban has to be attempted at their own risk. an email to u.s. nationals saying, "the united states government cannot ensure safe passage to the airport." today, several americans were turned away by u.s. troops, despite showing this official access pass at the security checkpoint. overnight, we received footage of a former u.s. special forces interpreter stranded at the gates. we're not identifying him to protect his identy. >> we are in danger. it's not only me, there are a lot of people like me who are in danger and we need evacuation. please help us or there will be a tragedy. >> reporter: late today, defense secretary lloyd austin and chairman of joint chiefs general mark milley acknowledging the
evacuation isn't going fast enough. >> quite frankly, we're not close to where we want to be in terms of getting the numbers through. so we're going to work that 24 hours a day, seven days a week. and we're going to get everyone that we can possibly evacuate evacuated. and i'll do that as long as we possibly can until the clock runs out or we run out of capability. >> reporter: the defense secrtary pressed on whether he could assure safe passage to the airport for americans and afghans. >> well, we're going to do everything we can to continue to try to deconflict and create passageways for them to get to the airfield. i don't have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into -- into kabul. >> reporter: tonight, amid so many questions about how afghanistan could collapse so quickly, general milley denying reports that there was
intelligence that this would happen. >> there was nothing that i or anyone else saw that end kated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days. >> all right, so, let's get to ian pannell, with us again from kabul tonight. ian, the u.s. says it is working to be able to transport up to 9,000 people per day. we take note that only 2,000 have evacuated in the last 24 hours. tens of thousands, of course, still waiting. many of them, as you've reported, hiding in their homes. so, how do you get them to the airport, especially with what we heard today from the defense secretary? >> reporter: yeah, i mean, that's the dilemma and that's why the august 31st deadline doesn't look realistic at this point. the u.s. military making the point, they don't have the capacity to push out into kabul. it really would be unsafe to do so. the taliban aren't allowing enough people through, so you need a better deal, first of you need more control on the other side of the wire to allow people the confidence to leave their homes and get to the airport. bt at the moment, i don't see
any of those things in place. so, don't expect this to be over with any time soon. david? >> all right, ian pannell, our thanks to you and to our entire team there in kabul. now to the major news back here at home tonight. the white house announcing plans to roll out a third shot now, a booster shot for all americans 18 and older, starting september 20th. the cdc tonight pointing to three new studies and what they saw that concerned them. here's stephanie ramos. >> reporter: tonight, the biden administration says there will be a third covid vaccine, a booster shot, for all fully vaccinated adults in the u.s. starting september 20th. the cdc planning to recommend booster shots for adults eight months after their get a second doegs of t dose of the pfizer or moderna vaccine. >> we are planning for americans to receive booster shots, starting next month, to maximize vaccine-induced protection. our plan is to protect the american people and to stay ahead of this virus. >> reporter: pending fda
approval, the shots will be offered for free and given out to those 18 and over. the recommendation comes as the cdc releases new data showing reduced protection against mild and moderate covid illness in vaccinated adults over time. and new studies showing a decrease in the vaccine's efficacy against the delta variant. >> we are concerned that this pattern of decline we are seeing will continue in the months ahead, which could lead to reduced protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death. >> reporter: the cdc also finding that getting a booster mrna shot dramatically increases the number of antibodies, strengthening once's protection against the virus. >> the increase with the boost is really quick striking. the booster mrna immunization increases antibodies by at least ten-fold. >> reporter: as the delta va variant takes fold, president biden warning legal action and announcing a vaccine mandate for nursing home staff or risk losing federal funding.
cases among residents jumping from 319 in june to nearly 2,700 in early august. >> these steps are all about keeping people safe. >> reporter: across the u.s., more than 91,000 patients now admitted with covid. our trevor ault visiting a baton rouge general hospital where they're now seeing more covid patients than at any other time during the pandemic. jessica cooper has been an the hospital for 12 days fighting covid. she was going to get vaccinated after an upcoming surgery. she says her 11-year-old daughter gave her the strength to fight. >> i started typing a text message to her, that way, if something happened and i didn't make it, she knew i loved her. >> and so let's get right back to stephanie with us again tonight. and steph, how will getting this booster shot work? >> reporter: well, david, the biden administration says that the u.s. will have enough vaccine supply for these boosters. they say that if you are about eight months out from your shot, you will be eligible next month,
with health care workers, residents in long-term care facilities and seniors who received their shot early on, likely going first. david? >> all right, stephanie ramos, thank you. and as you heard stephanie report there, the cdc pointed to three new studies today in making the case for this third shot, a booster, to now be made available september 20th for all americans. so, what did they see in those studies that concerned them? let's get right to dr. richard besser back with us again tonight, the president of the robert wood johnson foundation, former acting director of the cdc and of course, someone we know well here after his years at abc. dr. besser, the cdc released three studies today, that showed the vaccine efficacy waning over time, but scientists still don't know for sure if that's just the vaccines waning over time or if it's that, plus the power of the delta variant we're seeing. >> that ice right, david. you can't tell from these studies because two things were happening at once. the time from the period people received their second dose w
was -- was increasing and a new variant was arriving. and what they saw over that time is that the vaccines were less effective against overall disease transmission. >> but in the meantime, i guess we should point out, and i think you would agree with this, we know the vaccines are still doing a very good job against severe disease and hospitalization, but it was what we heard from the surgeon general today, dr. murthy, who said the concern is that the steady decline that they're seeing in evefficacy so far, th it could lead, he said, at some point to reduced protection against severe disease and that's what they're saying is most worrisome here? >> well, i think that's right. i hear what they're saying, the concern about the potential decrease in protection from severe disease and hospitalization. but the good news is, these vaccines remain extremely effective. they saw no decline in the level of protection from what we're most concerned about. i think they're getting a little ahead of themselves here. i want to see the fda's findings
in terms of how safe and effective they feel the vaccines are and then there's an independent committee, the advisory committee on immunization practices, that makes recommendations to cdc in terms of who should get vaccines and when. i'll be watching that deliberation closely to see, is it truly time to give boosters to everyone in america. >> so, bottom line tonight, with just a few seconds left, you say wait to see what the fda says on this and that cdc advisory panel? >> exactly. >> all right, dr. besser with an honest assessment tonight. dr. besser, thank you. we're tracking those raging wildfires out of control in northern california at this hour. the call door fire burn, at a rate of 1,000 acres an hour. thousands forced to evacuate. and the dixie fire, now the largest in california history, burning more than 600,000 acres. the utility there cutting power to more than 50,000 customers now to avoid sparking anymore fires. and when we come back here tonight, tracking severe weather here in the east.
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we are tracking severe weather in the east at this hour. tornado and flash flood watches. let's get right to ginger zee. ginger? >> reporter: david, maryland has a tornado warning, that means it's imminent. when vup a tornado watch, which you do, have annapolis to college station to scranton, you know that it's possible. i'm watching that really strong line move through harrisburg right now. anybody east of there, i'd watch for severe storms. now, we're going to see splash flooding with this possibly, too, going into tomorrow. new york, vermont, new hampshire, even maine under flash flood watch. david? >> ginger, thank you. when we come back, news for garth brooks tonight. and a big night for a first and a big night for a first lady. not ca by a heart valve problem. so if there's a better treatment than warfarin,... i want that. eliquis. eliquis reduces stroke risk better than warfarin. and has less major bleeding than warfarin. eliquis has both. don't stop taking eliquis without talking to your doctor as this may increase your risk of stroke.
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>> breaking news is happening as right now lake county. a fire burning in clearlake. this is video of the scene from just a short time ago. you can see several buildings have already been destroyed. thank you for joining us. >> here is a map of where the fire started. this is east of highway 53. our reporter is life and lake county with the latest. >> good afternoon. here between clearlake and lower lake. behind me is one of the estimated 30 homes that have already burned. we do not have an official count yet. we are still far from the active fire. we have already spoken with a man inside. he said the fire came through with very little warning.
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