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Texas Spend $12 Million To Bus Migrants To NY & DC; UN Inspector To Visit Besieged Nuclear Plant Tomorrow; One-Third Of Pakistan Underwater In Catastrophic Floods. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 31, 2022 - 11:30   ET



JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: On Republicans by calling out what he sees as Republican hypocrisy. And he pointed to two things. First of all, the "MAGA Republicans in Congress" who he said have continued to defend those who attacked the Capitol on January 6. And then also Republicans, many of whom have called for defunding the FBI or who have questioned the FBI's motives in this latest investigation into Donald Trump. Here's the president just yesterday.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, it's sickening to see the new attacks on the FBI threatened in life as law enforcement agents and their families for simply carrying out the law and doing their job.


DIAMOND: And the president saying yesterday as well, that look, you can't say you're pro-police and then defend those on January 6. You can't say you're pro-police and then call for defunding the FBI. And so that is certainly a key message that the president is carrying forward in these midterms.

We'll hear more of that tomorrow as President Biden travels to Philadelphia to deliver what is being billed as a soul of the nation speech. It's going to be a more all-encompassing speech about the attacks on the U.S. democracy that the president sees coming from the right. And notably, it is the second of three visits that President Biden is making over the course of this week to this key battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, of course, he was in the central part of the state, tomorrow in Philadelphia, and then on Monday, he'll be visiting Pittsburgh for Labor Day events, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Jeremy Diamond with the latest for us. Jeremy, thank you. Back with me now is CNN's senior political correspondent Abby Phillip. So, Abby, as we look at this, Biden clearly sees this as an opportunity and not just you know, as Jeremy was pointing out here, this is not just a moral point, this is clearly a political one as well. Take a listen to a little bit more of what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress. Don't tell me you support law enforcement if you won't condemn what happened on the sixth. Don't tell me. Whether you're on a side of a mob or on the side of the police, you can't be pro-law enforcement and pro-insurrection. You can't be a party of law and order and call the people who attack the police on January 6, patriots. You can't do it.


HILL: Abby, I guess the question is can President Biden and Democrats ultimately effectively take that law and order mantle from Republicans?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I think they probably have the best shot that they are going to have right at this moment because Republicans really set up this layup for them with the -- this defund the FBI push, most recently. But even as you heard the president there saying going as far back as January 6, really, increasingly, refusing to not distance themselves from these insurrectionists who are being charged and convicted for their actions on January 6. The imagery there, Erica, if -- you know, some folks might be listening, but if you watch that video, behind President Biden were law enforcement officers in uniform.

The imagery is unmistakable. Democrats have an opportunity now to at the very least neutralize this issue for them going into the fall. They're taking advantage also of a generally improving political environment for them. Now is the time I think a lot of Democrats believe to go on offense, especially when some Republicans seem to be walking into a trap.

HILL: Yes. And it seems to be -- definitely we're seeing a little bit more of that. As for the president's travel schedule here, Abby, three trips to Pennsylvania in one week, even for Joe from Scranton, that feels like a lot. We know how important Pennsylvania is here. Are these trips all about the Senate ultimately?

PHILLIP: You know, I think it's all about the Senate, but it's also just about the state of Pennsylvania, an incredibly symbolically important state for the midterm elections and for the general election in 2024. This is a state that is a must-win for a Democrat running for president, but that Senate seat could be pivotal for control of the Senate this fall and the governorship. Again, this is -- the governor's race is also critically important.

Remember, Pennsylvania was a place where a lot of Trump-allied Republicans were trying to sort of push forward things related to the election lies. And the governor is in a position to appoint people who will oversee elections in that state. I cannot overemphasize from the Democrats' perspective, up and down the ballot. The state of Pennsylvania is as critical as it gets when it comes to the election when it comes to control over the Senate and one more thing on abortion rights. Josh Shapiro, who's running for governor as the Democratic nominee, he

is running on this issue of abortion because he believes that it's motivating to Democratic voters, and as governor, he would be in a position to stop a Republican legislature from moving forward with restrictive abortion laws.


HILL: Yes. Pennsylvania is definitely not going to be the last of these three trips this week.


HILL: The last trip that we'll see the time we'll see the president or many others there. Abby, great to see you, appreciate it. Thank you.

PHILLIP: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Coming up, Texas is busing hundreds of migrants out of state. How much is that costing Texas taxpayers? CNN uncovers a jaw-dropping tab. The details are next.



HILL: Turning now to the situation of the U.S.-Mexico border, Texas Governor Greg Abbott's answers to the migrant crisis at the border in his state has been to bus them to cities like New York and Washington DC. Well, CNN has learned that that doesn't come cheap. In fact, it's cost Texas more than $12 million over the span of just three months, which amounts to more than $1,300 per person to send each migrant to the East Coast. CNN's Polo Sandoval joins me now. So, Polo, you were able to get these numbers from the state of Texas. And we should say, too, I mean, this doesn't include the last three, three and a half weeks or so.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the last three weeks, Erica, we've seen these buses coming to New York and to Washington, DC, so that figure that you showed our viewers, that is technically outdated, so expect for it to be much higher right now. Before we dive a little deeper into that number, it's also important to remind viewers that, you know, there's a big question here that's been asked to it, which is a very fair one, which was what would be the costs of actually keeping these thousands of migrants in the Lone Star State? In this particular situation, it doesn't necessarily apply. And I'll explain.

Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Eric Adams alleged that many of these migrants were being forced onto these buses. But then Governor Abbott's office quickly fired back and offered a clarification there and basically saying that all of the people who are boarding these border buses, they are individuals who have wanted to leave Texas, wanted to head to New York City and to Washington. So based on the governor's own argument, many of the people that we have seen right here in New York City and in Washington, DC, intended to leave Texas. In fact, even before these free rides were offered, Erica, many of these migrants that were processed and released by federal officials, it was up to them to cover their costs of traveling throughout Texas or outside of Texas pending to their silent proceedings.

HILL: Wherever they wanted to go.

SANDOVAL: That's right. And that included here in New York because we were seeing an increase in migrants even before the first bus arrived about a month ago here in New York. And that is a cost. And it's really it pales compared to that number that you just short -- showed a little while ago. I looked up a few flights and buses, for example, it would have cost me $232 to go from Eagle Pass to New York City, about $232 also to fly on a commercial jetliner from Texas here to New York. So we have reached up to Governor Abbott to try to explain why this just doesn't appear to make financial sense. As of the last couple of hours, we still haven't heard a response.

HILL: Right. So these would be people who would have left -- majority would have likely left on their own anyway.

SANDOVAL: On their own account.

HILL: Instead, the state of Texas was paying $1,300 a person to get them out.

SANDOVAL: And the result is this tab that continues to rise. We should also mention that the state of Arizona, they have launched a very similar effort. I've actually submitted a request for information with them to try to see how that compares. And then finally, El Paso, typically a migrants city, they actually sent up four buses to New York. However, the city manager there making it very clear that this is completely separate from what Governor Abbott is doing. He's basically El Paso here trying to help these individuals make it to their destination.

HILL: So, Texas taxpayers foot the bill now. The governor says he hopes to get reimbursed by the federal government.


HILL: We know you'll say on this one. Great reporting, Polo, appreciate it.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Erica.

HILL: Thank you.

A team of nuclear inspectors has now arrived in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine ahead of that planned visit to the besieged nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia tomorrow. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says they're trying to "prevent a nuclear accident," also working to set up a permanent presence there. Why are they there? Well, inspectors want to look inside that Russian-occupied plant, its experienced shelling, and power outages for several months now. We'll keep you updated on those developments. Also, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union has died at 91. Gorbachev tried, of course, to reform the Soviet Union drawing back the Iron Curtain, and then as the Soviet Empire began to collapse, helped engineer a mostly peaceful transition toward democracy, earning him respect in the West, but resentment from some and the former USSR. President Biden issuing a statement about his death saying in part he believed in "openness and restructuring, not as mere slogans, but as a path forward for the people of the Soviet Union after so many years of isolation and deprivation."

Coming up here, a third of Pakistan is underwater, a third of the country. It is the worst flooding in that country's history and there's a desperate need for help. We have a live report for you next.



HILL: It's being described as apocalyptic. One-third of Pakistan, a third of the entire country inundated by floodwaters from relentless early monsoon rains, nearly 1200 people have died, over 33 million currently impacted. The Prime Minister says this is the worst flooding in the country's history. Just take a look at these satellite images to give you a further idea of what we're talking about here, before the floods and after. You can see there the enormity of this disaster. CNN's Sophia Saifi is live in Karachi, Pakistan. Sophia, give us a sense. What are you seeing on the ground there because the pictures are just awful?

SOPHIA SAIFI, CNN PRODUCER: Erica, thousands and thousands of people are spending tonight under the stars without their homes -- with their homes being completely inundated with water. And the scale of the destruction ranges from the north of Pakistan all the way to the south. There aren't enough dense, there isn't enough drinking water, pregnant women are sleeping out in the open, more than 300 children have died because of these floods.


Pakistan's government, Pakistan's Prime Minister has called for intense assistance from countries all over the world saying that the developing world needs to take responsibility for the effects of climate change on the global south. There has been assistance that's coming, but it's simply not enough. Pakistan was already on the edge of an economic crisis. There were already food shortages in place.

We've been told that the price of onions, tomatoes have skyrocketed. In just one day they've doubled. There is not enough staple food to go around in the country. There are concerns that the agricultural sector has been completely decimated because of these wide raging floods, which the country's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said are the worst in the country's history. At the same time, we've also spoken to the PM and he said they're going to be reaching out to all sorts of countries for more assistance as this range is on, Erica.

HILL: Yes. And they certainly need it. The pictures that we see, the picture that you paint just the devastating effects of this flooding. Sophia, thank you.

Joining me now as well, is Dr. Farah Naureen. She's a Mercy Corps' Country Director for Pakistan. Dr. Naureen, it's good to have you with us. It is tough. And we look at these pictures and even that satellite map just to give a sense of the destruction and yet to wrap your head around the idea that a third of a country is underwater and some 33 million people have been impacted, it's tough to do. What is the most immediate need right now?

DR. FARAH NAUREEN, COUNTRY DIRECTOR, MERCY CORPS: Thank you very much, Erica. I will straight to talk about the immediate needs. People are -- right now, there are hundreds of thousands of people who are homeless and shelterless. They cannot go back to their homes because the water where flooding has taken place has not receded. And the more flooding has taken place in the -- in the -- in the last few weeks.

Shelter is a -- is a very, very important need, but alongside that food and water -- clean water for drinking, sanitation facilities, as well as hygiene products, such as soap and specific needs of women, for example, sanitary napkins, these things are hugely important. And we are also seeing that very soon, these populations are already impacted by various communicable diseases, and this is going to become a big health hazard as well.

HILL: And that was one of the things I have to say that you look at all of this water, and one of my immediate thoughts too was the potential for diseases -- for waterborne diseases. I mean, how are you able to -- are you able to combat that? Are there enough resources to deal with what could be coming on that front?

NAUREEN: Yes. So, basically, diarrhea is a very, very common illness in these times, as well as skin diseases, eye infections, and other infectious diseases. What we're doing right now, Mercy Corps, for example, we have ongoing programming from before in many of these communities and we are doing some health work already. So we are working right now with the Department of Health, especially in Sindh province to make sure that we use those activities to also provide healthcare services -- immediate healthcare services to the affected communities. Beyond that, Erica, it's really clear, it's -- the scale of the disaster is really, really huge.

HILL: Yes.

NAUREEN: It's everybody's job right now. And everybody is -- there are humanitarian organizations, together with the government, our local partners, where we are present in the field, we are ready to implement, and there just is a need for more funding and especially for funding to become available for humanitarian organizations who are on the ground and can immediately respond to the situation.

HILL: There's also this push, the UN Secretary-General calling this flooding a climate catastrophe. I know you've warned that wealthy nations really need to pay attention here. This is likely not a one- off, sadly, in terms of the cause of this disaster. What more do you think world leaders need to do? Where do they need to step up? Is it just about funding? NAUREEN: So I'll take the opportunity to say three things. One, that there is an immense need right now for immediate relief and the world needs to come together and support Pakistan and the -- and the humanitarian workers in Pakistan to meet the needs -- immediate needs of the -- of the people. Alongside, I think the world needs to remain invested in making sure that the -- that the recovery, which is going to be a long, long road and a very challenging road. We build back, we help these communities recover from this disaster in a more climate- resilient way.


And generally, after the immediate relief, we fear that the interest of the world may go down. But I think that's where Pakistan will need a lot of support in building the infrastructure but also helping the communities with their livelihoods that have been lost, malnutrition that is going to occur, and in a lot of other relief -- and especially the food security.

HILL: Yes.

NAUREEN: The third thing that I would like to say is that the world needs to invest more in climate adaptation for countries like Pakistan.

HILL: Right.

NAUREEN: At the same time -- at the same time, Pakistan cannot do much for mitigation. And I think that's something that there will the nation should really pay attention to how their policies impact the rest of the world.

HILL: Yes. Dr. Farah Naureen, thank you for joining us this morning. Thank you for all the work that you're doing on the ground and for getting the word out. For more information on how you can help, log on to Thanks so much for joining us this hour, I'm Erica Hill. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this quick break.