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At This Hour

FBI Asks for Help to Find Gabby Petito Fiance after Death Ruled Homicide; CNN Reports, Homeland Security Releasing Some Haitian Migrants in U.S.; Ten Current and Former Black Women Officers Sue D.C. Police Claiming Racial and Sexual Discrimination. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 22, 2021 - 11:30   ET



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They have enough PPE. They have enough treatments to help keep people alive during that time period as the vaccination programs continue.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN AT THIS HOUR: Absolutely. And I also want to ask you about boosters, because there's a lot going on this week around the booster conversation here in the United States. You've got the CDC advisers meeting, you have the FDA -- awaiting the FDA decision on emergency authorization, green lighting those booster shots. Can you just talk me through what all could be happening this week with regard to this decision and what people should know.

GUPTA: Sure, yes. I mean, first of all, you'd be right to be a bit confused because the sequencing on this has been off. We first heard from the White House a few weeks ago that boosters were definitely happening, they were happening for everyone and they were to start September 20th.

But then the FDA had a meeting where they said -- the advisory committee meeting said that, look, we're not recommending boosters for everyone. We can show you who they were recollect recommending the boosters for, people over 65 and people at high risk for severe COVID- 19.

By the way, that second line, individuals at high risk, if you start to do the math and look at all people that that would encompass, you're talking probably well over 100 million people in addition to some 45 million people over the age of 65. So, it's a lot of people who may potentially be eligible for boosters.

Having said all that, the FDA, as you point out, Kate, has not actually given the emergency use authorization. They just heard from their advisory committee. They almost always take that recommendation, but not always. So, we'll see. We do have to hear from the FDA. But, simultaneously, the CDC is meeting. I think the expectation from the CDC was that the FDA would have already authorized this by this point, but that hasn't happened.

So, we're still -- the discussions are still happening. My guess is by the end of the week, we'll have much more clarity on what this is both in terms of the FDA authorization but also the CDC really defining who the recommendations are for, who really qualifies as high risk, who should be getting the boosters. So, over the next couple of days, hopefully, we'll hear from all these agencies on that specific point.

BOLDUAN: So, stand by to stand by on that one, for sure. It's good to see you, Sanjay. Thank you for walking us through it. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, the FBI is asking for the public's help now to find Gabby Petito's fiance after her death is ruled a homicide. The latest on this growing investigation, next.



BOLDUAN: Developing at this hour, the FBI is asking for the public's help to find Gabby Petito's fiance, Brian Laundrie, after a Wyoming coroner identified human remains found Sunday in a camping site as being Petito's, the coroner describing her death as a homicide.

The search has resumed this morning at a nation reserve in Florida for Brian Laundrie as some new tips are coming out about his last movements.

CNN's Amara Walker is live in Florida with the very latest. Amara, what's the latest?

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Kate. Well, the FBI, as you said, is asking the public for help. They need tips right now. They're asking anyone with information on the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie to come forward, but also anyone who may have come in contact with him or Gabby Petito or saw their vehicle between August 27th and August 30th in this remote area of the Grand Teton National Park.

Now, right now, we are here at the Carlton Reserve. This is where the focus has been since 8:00 this morning. You have five local agencies, the FBI here searching this 25,000-acre reserve on the Venice side. And The terrain here is quite difficult. It's been a difficult search because of that. And they've been deploying technologies to help them deal with, including drones and all-terrain vehicles. We also saw some blood hounds arriving this morning as well.

Another focus to talk about is that new tip regarding the previous movements of Brian Laundrie. And the timeline here is key, Kate. So let's start on August 12th, and that is when an altercation between Petito and Laundrie was reported in Moab, Utah.

And the man who witnessed this domestic dispute between the 22 and 23- year-old gave a handwritten sworn statement to Moab police. He said that the two appeared to be fighting or arguing over Petito's phone and said, quote, they were talking aggressively at each other and something seemed off. It was hard to tell if they were sort of play fighting, but from my point of view, something definitely didn't seem right. So, that was on August 12th. Then on August 27th, Petito's mother gets an odd text, according to an affidavit, from her daughter that was supposed to be -- or that was believed to be the last communication from Petito. Then two days later, this is where this new tip comes in. A woman by the name of Miranda Baker posting a series of videos on TikTok saying that she picked up a hitchhiker, and that turned out to be Brian Laundrie.

So, right now, again, the focus is where is he. Apparently, on September 14th, he left his house, according to his parents.


But his parents didn't report that he allegedly came here to the Carlton Reserve until four days after the fact.

So, a lot of questions as to why there was this delay, but, of course, the main question, where is he and what exactly happened to Gabby Petito, whose death has been ruled a homicide, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Amara, thank you so much for that.

Joining me now for more on everything that Amara just laid out, CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson, CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst and former Police Commissioner of Philadelphia Charles Ramsey.

Chief ramsey, now that the autopsy confirmed these remains are Gabby Petito's, her the death has been ruled a homicide, how does this investigation change?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it is a murder investigation now. But, remember, homicide just means that she died at the hand of another. They don't have an arrest warrant yet. So, Laundrie is not named as a suspect in this, although it's pretty obvious that he's probably the last person to have seen her alive.

Now, from everything I have seen, they are doing everything they possibly can to locate him. I don't know if there's anything more they could be done now that it's just been classified. It went from a death investigation to a homicide investigation. But other than that, I don't know if there's much more they can do.

But they've got to get their hands on him. He is key. He's no doubt probably the very last person to have seen her alive. There's still a lot of unanswered questions. Do they believe she died at the scene where the body was found? Was she killed elsewhere and dumped there? They did not come up with the cause of death yet. That may come later today. But, obviously, there's more work that has to be done by the medical examiner as well as evidence being collected by the FBI.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And, Joey, the FBI, as we've mentioned, is asking for the public's help. I'm going to read in part what the FBI said in the statement. It says, anyone with information concerning Mr. Laundrie's role in this matter or his current whereabouts should contact the FBI. They're looking for anyone who was in this camping area where the remains were found from August 27th to August 30th. What does it say to you with the FBI is putting out kind of a blanket appeal to the general public like this at this point?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Kate, good morning to you and good morning, Chief. It means everybody matters, right? It means that if you see something, you say something. Remember what happens when you go into a courtroom, if it gets that far, right, that's how our court system works, you need witnesses. And those witnesses could give indications of what occurred.

Now, there's a distinction between evidence, Kate. It's called direct evidence and circumstantial evidence. In some cases, you have people who can directly opine, or at least if not opine, give specifics as to who, what, when, where, why, what they saw or how they saw it, when they saw it, et cetera.

But then there's also this thing called circumstantial evidence. And what that allows us to piece together exactly what occurred. You saw before the timeline, right, that was laid out by Amara with respect to when in August, there're different distinctions between what events was happening and then the trail went cold. We know, of course, they went camping and then they were giving all these indications on digital media what they were, who they were doing it with, where they were, where they were going, you know what, it stopped.

And so when you have people, the people could talk about, number one, Kate, the interactions between the two, how did they appear? They could talk about, number two, what if anything they witnessed that -- number three, what if anything they've seen that could give clues and other information and evidence?

So, witness also be very important, very compelling as it relates to her disappearance and subsequent death and witnesses will be very important and very compelling as to finding out where Mr. Laundrie was and bringing him to justice in the event that he's still out there and well.

BOLDUAN: Chief, Amara discussed there's been one person at least who has come forward and said that she's talked to law enforcement with new information. Her name is Miranda Baker. She says she picked up Brian Laundrie as he was hitchhiking alone on August 29th, four days after Gabby Petito last spoke with her family.

I want to play some of what Miranda Baker posted about this on TikTok.


MIRANDA BAKER, SAYS SHE PICKED UP LAUNDRIE HITCHHIKING LAST MONTH: Before he came in the car, he offered to pay us like $200 to give him a ride like ten miles. So, that was kind of weird. He then told us he's been camping for multiple days without his fiancee and that she was working on their social media page back at their van.

Then once like in conversation about, yes, like we're going to Jackson. He freaked out. He's like, nope, I need to get out right now, like, pull over.

He said he was gone for multiple days and he had left his fiancee, never called her by her name, back at their campsite.


BOLDUAN: As an investigator, I mean, what do you hear here? What answers could Miranda Baker provide, Chief?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean she could provide quite a bit in terms of answers, I mean, the location, exact location where he was picked up, if he was on foot, then, obviously he didn't have his vehicle any longer.


So, what's the distance between or the area between where the body was found and where he was eventually picked up?

I mean, there's a lot of information that they're going to have to sort through from this one person, this one witness, and see whether or not there are others that are out there that may have seen him at some point in time, so they can, again, gather that evidence that they need to put him at the crime scene. That's what they have to do, put him at the scene. And that's not always that easy to do and that's what they're trying to do now.

BOLDUAN: INTERESTING, good to see you, Chief. Good to see you, Joey. Thank you both very much.

Coming up for us, CNN has brand new reporting on the number of Haitian migrants that are being released into the United States instead being reported, as homeland security promised. Details, next.



BOLDUAN: Just in to CNN, CNN's Rosa Flores has just learned that nearly 1,000 migrants from that international bridge along the Texas/Mexico border are being processed in the United States and are in the custody of a nonprofit organization now that the nonprofit says the migrants will be released as they await review of their immigration status.

This is in stark contrast to the repeated claims of the Biden administration that the largely Haitian migrants are being immediately deported amid this growing crisis we've been watching play out in Del Rio, Texas.

CNN's Josh Campbell is live along that border in Del Rio joining me now. Josh, what are you seeing there on the ground today?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. We're getting inside access to the so-called barrier of steel. As we go up to our drone camera here, you can see these hundreds of state trooper vehicles that are aligned along the Texas/Mexico border. This is not far from that migrant camp. This is because Texas Governor Greg Abbott says that he will be bringing in reinforcements, we're already seeing them here, lines and lines of state troopers here along this border. That's because CNN has reported that there are up to 30,000 additional Haitian migrants that are in Colombia that are possibly preparing to travel here to the southern border.

I asked the governor about that yesterday when he was here at the border. He said that he will be bringing in all the resources, coming in full force in order to try and ensure that they don't see another wave of migrants, like we've seen here recently.

Now, as we zoom in on that migrant camp from our aerial shot, you can see that there are still several thousand migrants that are underneath this bridge, approximately 8,000 right now. According to the Department of Homeland Security, they've been working to process them. You'll recall that that number swelled over 12,000 at one point. They've been working these so-called repatriation flights, taking these migrants back to the nation of Haiti.

We're also learning that some of them have been allowed to stay here in the United States if they have a righteous claim of asylum, that running counter to this hard line approach that we've seen from the Biden administration. You'll recall, they original said that they would be expedited quickly out of the country. However, the CNN team is now learning that some are being allowed to stay as they continue process the thousands that remain under this bridge, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Josh, thank you very much for that look. I really appreciate it.

Joining me now for more on this is Democratic Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett of the U.S. Virgin Island. She is the co-chair of the Congressional Caribbean Caucus and a member of the House Haiti Caucus. Thank you so much for being here.

So, on this new reporting that we now have in from my colleague, Rosa Flores, that nearly 1,000 Haitian migrants are being released into the United States despite the claims that we've heard, like the hard line approach from DHS, that they would be immediately expelled, what is your reaction to that?

REP. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI): Well, I don't have the specifics of those individuals, and I understand them to be families that are going through processing, as other immigrants are. I would emphasize to you that they have taken -- the Biden administration has taken a hard line and are expediting thousands. We understand that it will be almost tens of thousands that go back within the next 96 hours, indeed, almost nine days that this process that had been under the Trump administration during the coronavirus has allowed the administration to remove these individuals.

My concern is not for those individuals that they're finding to be appropriate to put through processing but those individuals and the treatment that they are receiving, as well as the message that they're receiving in South America through smugglers and others that are taking advantage of them in their neediest time to try and make such a dangerous trek. BOLDUAN: Real quickly on this information that we're getting about some people being allowed in, you said that they're families. Have you been given an estimate of how many families or how many migrants are being brought in and are being processed who await review of their status on asylum?

PLASKETT: I don't have specific information right now. We've reached out to the White House and to our contacts there, and I'm sure other members of Congress as well. Other co-chair of the Caribbean Caucus and others will have additional information.

As CNN is aware, Kate, we are going to be having a press conference later today at 2:30 with the relevant members of Congress to talk more in depth about this issue.


BOLDUAN: So, as you have mentioned, you, as well as many members of Congress, are calling for a halt of these repatriation flights back to Haiti, that the secretary and the Department of Homeland Security have promised will continue. If those flights are stopped, what do you want the Biden administration to do with these migrants? How should they handle that crush at the border?

BOLDUAN: Sure. I have not called for an immediate stop of the flights. What I have called for is if we are going to be bringing, taking people back to Haiti, that we do it in a humane manner, that we tend to the needs of these individuals before they are sent back to a place, in many instance, that many have not been in many years.

A lot of these individuals left Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 and have been eking out a meager existence in South America before believing that it was an appropriate time to come to the United States. They've since learned that that's not the case.

I am calling not only -- America has done a tremendous job after the earthquakes, after this last earthquake as well as after the assassination of providing aid. We are the largest humanitarian aid to Haiti. We have offered and have available for over $5 billion for the rebuilding of Haiti.

But what I believe needs to be done throughout the Biden administration and, indeed, many administrations, is having a much more comprehensive engagement with the Caribbean so that they can build themselves back up in terms jobs and stability, economic stability and others, not just coming when there is a crisis on the ground but ensuring that we are the best partners, and also requesting from those European countries that have profited for so many centuries from these Caribbean nations that they, as well, participate in the rebuilding of these nations.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, thank you very much for your time. Much more to come on this for sure. I really appreciate it.

PLASKETT: I appreciate you. BOLDUAN: Now, to a CNN exclusive. Ten current and former black female officers are suing the D.C. Metropolitan Police. They say they experienced racial and sexual discrimination and retaliation when they raise the issue.

Let's get over to CNN's Joe Johns. He's live in Washington with this exclusive reporting. Joe, what more have you learned?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Kate, a big headline there. A group of ten former and current black female Metropolitan Police officers filing a class action lawsuit today against the Metropolitan Police Department for alleged racial and sexual mistreatment, a hostile work environment, bullying and retaliation. It offers what they call an unprecedented look inside MPD's blue wall of silence, which they say involves alleged civil rights violations and serious misconduct.

The Metropolitan Police Department put out a statement saying, it's committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout the organization. They say they take these allegations seriously.

Among the plaintiffs in the suit are the assistant police chief here, Chanel Dickerson, and the 2019 officer of the year, Tiara Brown, who resigned after alleged relentless bullying and is now serving a different community as a police officer.

Some of the most egregious allegations in the suit include a fellow officer showing one of the woman a picture of a gun that he said was going to be used to assassinate former First Lady Michelle Obama, and another male officer is accused of urinating in a police van he occupied with another one of the plaintiffs.

Among the bigger complaints, according to the attorneys, is the alleged pattern and practice of the MPD covering up these women's complaints and allegedly punishing them for speaking out. They are asking for someone to be appointed to overhaul MPD's personal practices, a so-called special master, to get the cooperation of the D.C. mayor, Muriel Bower, and a $1 million fund to address the harm to these women. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Great reporting. Thank you so much for bringing that to us, Joe. I really appreciate that.

Also new this morning into CNN, former President George W. Bush will be campaigning for Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney as she fights to keep her seat. CNN has learned that the former president will be holding a fundraiser for Cheney next month in Dallas, Texas.

Cheney is facing a primary challenge, of course, due to her outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump, who she voted to impeach after blaming him for inciting and instigating the January 6th insurrection. Trump has endorsed the Wyoming attorney, Harriet Hageman, in the race. So, this now puts George W. Bush directly at odds and in opposition to the efforts of President Donald Trump. Much more to come on that, of course.

Thanks for being here today.


I'm Kate Bolduan. Inside Politics with John King begins right now.