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At This Hour

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), Is Interviewed About Migrants Flown To Martha's Vineyard; Ukraine: Some Bodies In Mass Burial Site Show Signs Of Torture; Biden To Meet With Families Of Brittney Griner And Paul Whelan. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired September 16, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. At This Hour, migrants flown from Texas to the northeast say they were misled. And President Biden face to face for the first time with the families of two Americans in prison in Russia. And a 22-year-old man who called 911 to ask for help is shot to death by police. I'll speak to his parents. This is what we're watching At This Hour.

Thank you so much for being here, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. At This Hour, Massachusetts is preparing to move dozens of migrants who just arrived in Martha's Vineyard to a military base on Cape Cod. There'll be boarding ferries shortly to head there.

Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis says he is who sent them to Massachusetts from Texas and says he did so to make a political point about security at the U.S.-Mexico border. CNN spoke to some of these men and women, their children there as well now stuck in limbo. They say they were misled about where they were headed, and what they would find when they arrived.

President Biden is jumping all over this today accusing these Republican governors of quote, playing politics with human beings. CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Martha's Vineyard for us. Let's start there, Miguel, what is happening there right now?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, not sure if you can, sorry, Kate, not sure if you can hear me. But so what is happening here now that all 50 immigrants have been put on buses and are headed to a ferry and going to the mainland. The concern for people here is not their ability to handle 50 immigrants from somewhere else, or 50 people of any sort. But once they arrived here without any notice whatsoever. The planes are about 20 minutes out when they informed the airport here on Martha's Vineyard that they were going to land and only once they landed, they started to do plane, do they realize who was on those planes.

It was extraordinarily difficult for them to sort of meet their immediate basic needs. And that's what they did in St. Andrew's Parish House here, the church right across the street. They are able to stay here for a couple of nights. And also more importantly, meet with lawyers. This is really where it gets difficult for these migrants is that they were flown here, they were found in Texas by several individuals who told them that they had an opportunity for them. They came with them trusting them because they were desperate. And they had just, you know, completed a two and a half -- two month journey. And then they were here.

And they have hearings for their for their asylum status across the country, Los Angeles, Washington State, Cincinnati, all over the place. That is what really has complicated things for these people now, and that's sort of what officials here are saying is that, yes, there is a problem at the border. And they can handle them here. But they really complicate these people's lives even more by just dumping them on an island off the coast of Massachusetts.

There was one woman who was a volunteer who helped care for all these people. Here's how she reacted when I asked, you know, what it was like to spend a couple of days with these people from Venezuela?


LISA BELCASTRO, VOLUNTEER: My heart breaks for them, because they were not the first priority. But I hope that for all of them that in all of their troubles that they've had right now that these three days, I hope they feel exceptionally loved. They're in my heart forever.


MARQUEZ: So a very, very close connection. The immigrants today lined up with a few belongings they had and one by one boarded the buses. There were hugs, there were cheers, there were photographs. It felt very much like sort of an end of summer trip for these people who now begin yet another extraordinary part phase of their lives. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Miguel, thank you so much for being there. Appreciate it. So President Biden, he is now attacking the Republican governors who are leading the way and moving these migrants north. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live at the White House for us with this. Jeremy Biden calls and describes these moves as inhumane. But what is the administration going to do about this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Kate, over the last 24 hours, we've heard expressions of outrage from the President and his top officials. We heard the White House Press Secretary yesterday saying that abandoning these families and children, whether it is on the streets of Washington in front of the Vice President's residence or in Martha's Vineyard is cruel and inhumane.

And last night, we heard directly from President Biden as he was addressing the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala, the President accusing the governors of Texas and Florida of interfering with the safe and humane processing of these migrants. And he also accused them of playing politics with human beings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [11:05:07]

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And instead of working with us on solution, Republicans are playing politics with human beings using them as props. What they're doing is simply wrong. It's un- American, it's reckless.


DIAMOND: And to your question, Kate, about what this administration can actually do about it, it's not clear what they can do about the busing and the flying of these migrants from other states to Washington to Martha's Vineyard and other places. But we do know that today, Biden administration officials are set to meet to discuss a range of immigration issues, including what potentially the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security could do, from a legal perspective, to stop these actions or to address them.

They're also going to be discussing potential additional resources to help some of these border communities and also some of these other cities across the country that are receiving these large numbers of migrants at their doorstep. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Jeremy, Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much. Joining me now, Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, Ed Markey. Senator, thank you for coming on. What are you hearing right now is going to be happening to these people that landed in Martha's Vineyard, and are now heading out?

SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA): Well, they're being given an option of going to a military base on Cape Cod where they will be provided all of the resources which they need, or to stay where they are. So there'll be given that option. Right now, I think, even as we're speaking, those who have decided to leave or being put on buses so that they can be taken over to the military base on Cape Cod. And in all of that's being done, obviously in cooperation with those families.

BOLDUAN: We're actually taking a look, you can't see it, though, Senator, the fairy that's leaving Martha's Vineyard. We believe that is where some of those -- some of these families, some of these people have actually boarded to do just what you're describing as we're watching -- as we're watching this play out.

President Biden, Jeremy Diamond, was just talking about President Biden's reaction last night accusing Republican governors playing politics with human beings. There is a clear political motivation here on the part of Republican governors. That should be no surprise. They want the border crisis to be more front and center in this political election cycle. As a political maneuver, Senator, is it working?

MARKEY: Well, obviously, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, they're vying for the mantle of being the next Donald Trump, how do you make America great again, by making America hate again. So it's a competition of vital competition, in unconscionable competition, to use immigrants, Muslims, anyone who they want to be able to describe as the other as a pawn in their own personal political ambition. And so for them, yes, maybe they'll get more time on Fox News. So maybe it is successful for them. But for our country, it's just not anything that is seemingly, look, Massachusetts, over the last year has welcomed thousands of Afghan and Ukrainian refugees to Massachusetts. So we're going to welcome people, we're going to take care of people. But if they want a solution, then come to the table on a comprehensive immigration bill, which they have refused to do for nine years since 2013. We keep welcoming or inviting Republicans to the table, they do not want to talk about a comprehensive set of solutions to these problems. They'd rather have this issue as a political hot button to signal to their most conservative base, that they are going to demonize these poor, vulnerable individuals and families.

BOLDUAN: If you tried to separate the policy from the politics here. These are Republican governors, Republican states, they say if places like Massachusetts want to be sanctuaries, then they are best or better situated to help alleviate the crush of people coming across the border. That being said, should states like Massachusetts be doing more to help? This is separate from refugee issues from Ukraine and Afghanistan?

MARKEY: Senator can hear me? I think unfortunately, we've lost the connection, the audio connection with Senator Markey, unfortunately, thank you, Senator, for your time. Really appreciate it.


Coming up still for us, for the first time today, President Biden is planning to meet face to face with the families of two Americans detained in Russia. What this means for the fight to bring Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home, next.


BOLDUAN: Now to Russia's war in Ukraine, President Zelenskyy says that they have uncovered a new mass grave in the recaptured city of Izium. Ukrainian authorities are unearthing bodies from the site and some say that they or they say they see signs of torture in doing. CNN's Ben Wedeman is live for us in Ukraine with more. Ben, what more are you learning here?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've just gotten a statement from the governor of the Kharkiv region who says that around 450 bodies, it's believed are in this grave site among those that have been exhumed so far, and of course, not -- only partial -- part of them have been exhumed, 99 percent of those bodies show signs of a violent death in his words. He said that several of the bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs, one of the bodies had a noose around rather a rope around its neck.


And he also said that among the dead there are children. There are about 200 law enforcement officers as well as experts on the scene. At the moment CNN has learned that the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Organization is sending a team to the Izium area and perhaps later on will send a war crimes investigation team. Now the task of those teams and those on the ground at the moment is made difficult by the fact that there are mines in the area, this area of about 8,000 square kilometers liberated by the Ukrainians continues to come under Russian artillery fire as well. But as we heard from President Zelenskyy last night, he said the Russians are always leaving the dead behind. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Ben, thank you so much, we really appreciate it.

Over at the White House today, President Biden will be meeting with the families of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. It's his first face to face meeting with them since their loved ones were detained by Russia. CNN's Kylie Atwood is live at the State Department for us with more details on this. Kylie, what are you hearing about this?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well as in President Biden, according to the White House, wants to have this meeting to make sure that these families know that their loved ones Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan are front and center in the eyes of the administration. Their daily efforts to try and get them home. But what we're not expecting today, Kate, is any sort of breakthrough in this situation. We know that there are these ongoing negotiations with the U.S. and Russia to try and get these two wrongfully detained Americans back home.

But according to a senior administration official, there has been movement but no breakthrough. And what that senior administration official said is that the United States continues to urge Russia to put a serious counter offer on the table. But you'll recall that's similar to what Biden administration officials were saying earlier this summer back in July after the U.S. put an initial proposal on the table in June. So it's clear that there is back and forth. But it doesn't appear that the Russians are productively engaging in those conversations. Instead, they are asking for things that according to the senior administration official, the Biden administration simply cannot deliver on. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Kylie, thank you. For more on this, Jason Rezaian is here. He's a Washington Post writer of course, who was wrongfully detained in Iran. Also with us is Neda Sharghi. Her brother, Emad, has been unjustly imprisoned in Iran for four years. We've been following his story very closely. You know, Jason, no matter what is happening, kind of behind the scenes, talk to me about these face to face meetings with the President. Why are these face to face meetings with the President so important?

JASON REZAIAN, WASHINGTON POST JOURNALIST WRONGFULLY IMPRISONED IN IRAN: Well, it's a great question, Kate, and thanks for having us on to talk about it. It's so important to raise these cases to the highest level of government, not because the President or anyone in the administration is unaware of Paul Whelan or Brittney Griner's imprisonment, Emad in Iran, but to really create a broad kind of political cost to not bringing these Americans home. It is such a terrible fate that wrongfully detained Americans are suffering that their families are suffering. But it's not an easy one to resolve. And until there's a political cost of not doing so, it seems like these imprisonments go on interminably.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And Neda, you spoke to Congress just yesterday, and appealed for this very same thing a face to face meeting with President Biden, what would it mean for your family?

NEDA SHARGHI, SISTER OF AMERICAN EMAD SHARGI HELD IN IRAN: Thank you for having me on. As Jason said, it's merely an indication that this has been taken seriously by the very person who holds the key to the release of my brother and the other Americans in Iran. And, you know, Kate, from, you know, the beginning, this administration has said publicly and they said to us privately, that the freedom of our Americans and my brother is of the highest priority. And so it's time for them to, you know, walk the walk and not just talk the talk and, you know, not only meet with us, but have concrete ways that they're working on to bring them home. They have many tools available to them, and they need to use them to bring Emad and the other Iranians -- Americans in Iran home.

BOLDUAN: And Jason, we do know that former Governor Bill Richardson and his team they were in Moscow, actually this week meeting with Russian leadership over a meeting with Russian leadership. A lot is not known about what they're doing or what role they're playing but we know that Brittney Griner's family has asked him for help. How do these private efforts play into what the administration might be doing?


REZAIAN: I think traditionally, Kate, the U.S. government has not wanted to interact with people outside of government, who might be able to play a helping role. That's changed over the last couple of years. But it's still not a very symbiotic or friendly relationship when these outside actors, like Governor Richardson get involved. But the proof is in the pudding. He's got a track record of bringing Americans home, from North Korea, from Myanmar, from Iran. So I think it's an important part of the community of folks working towards hostage recovery. But at the end of the day, you know, it really doesn't matter who takes credit for the releases, bringing Americans home as quickly and safely as possible, is and should be everyone's priority.

BOLDUAN: And Neda, if you were meeting with President Biden today, I was thinking about this earlier, what would you like to say to him? What do you want him to understand when you're face to face with him what your family is going through?

SHARGHI: I'd like for him to know that not only are we worried about the health and well-being of Emad and Baquer and Siamak and Morad. But you know, we have families waiting for their loved ones. We have fathers waiting for their loved ones to come home. And life doesn't stop. There are health issues in our family members who are waiting to see their loved ones come home.

And so the time is now. We have to get them home. And I would like to tell the President that when he does this, when he brings them home, and it needs to be done very soon, he will have the support of all of us because bringing Americans home will always unite our nation and not doing so will really cause harm, and divisiveness and damage to sort of the identity of who we are as Americans. We don't leave our Americans behind. We need to bring them home.

BOLDUAN: And as you said to Congress yesterday that stuck with me, having Americans wrongfully detained abroad is a threat to U.S. national security because it's a threat to all Americans when Americans can be detained wrongfully abroad. Neda, thank you so much for coming on. Again, we'll continue to follow your brother's story, Emad Shargi. And Jason, thank you as always.

Coming up for us, a special master has now been appointed to review the thousands of documents seized by the FBI from Donald Trump's home. What it also now means for the Justice Department's investigation, that's next.



BOLDUAN: A federal judge has now appointed a special master to review the documents retrieved during the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. The man picked to weed through this highly charged legal fight now is the only candidate really that both the Justice Department and the Trump legal team could agree on. And prosecutors are also hit with another setback in their investigation into the documents that Donald Trump was holding at his home. CNN's Katelyn Polantz has more on this, she's joining us now. Katelyn, what are you learning about the special master?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Kate, we do have this new set of orders from Judge Aileen Cannon who was asked to appoint a special master. She has done that now. She also has the Justice Department's criminal investigation into the possible mishandling of national security documents federal records at Mar-a- Lago after the Trump presidency. She has that on hold. It is paused.

But with the special master situation she's brought in Judge Raymond Dearie from the federal court in Brooklyn. He's a very well respected judge. He's a very experienced judge. People very much like him. They believe that he knows what he's doing, that he's very good at this. He has a lot of experience, especially with national security. He served on the FISA Court, that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. And so he now is going to get to work.

What he's going to do is he's going to work with the Justice Department and the Trump team and it's all going to be about whether or not Donald Trump can take documents out of those boxes that were seized at Mar-a-Lago and keep them away from the criminal investigation from the Justice Department. Dearie is going to make recommendations. But ultimately the decisions will be Judge Cannon's on whether those documents that they're reviewing get to be part of the criminal investigation.

And the focus, the priority initially is going to be on about 100 classified documents in those boxes. We're going to have to see what the Justice Department will do next if they appeal and when that comes. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. A lot of big questions still now even with these decisions. It's good to see you Katelyn. Thank you. So the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection is also now preparing for a next round of hearings and a much anticipated report on their findings. That is also the subject of a new CNN special called American Coup. It takes a deep dive into what we've learned in the last year of that investigation and also what it means for the future. Here's a preview.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of the people we've interviewed have expressed concerns not just about what happened but what will happen. In fact we see a whole bunch of election liars running for office. Are you worried?