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Soon: January 6 Committee Holds Final Public Meeting; El Paso Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Title 42 Lifting. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired December 19, 2022 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there. AT THIS HOUR, one and a half years of work and the end result. The January 6th Committee is about to present its final meeting and its final report. Plus, El Paso, Texas declares a state of emergency over the migrant crisis, much more on that ahead. And intense turbulence in the air putting dozens of passengers in the hospital. This is what we're watching At This Hour.

Thanks, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. The focus at this hour is on Capitol Hill where the January 6th Committee is about to hold its final public meeting. This marks the culmination of the Committee's nearly 18-month long investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Committee is expected to recommend that the Justice Department charged Donald Trump with at least three crimes, insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the federal government. But there is much more to this. AT THIS HOUR After today's meeting, the Committee will also be releasing a summary of its investigation with its full report to be unveiled on Wednesday. So let's get started with Paula Reid, she's live on Capitol Hill for us at this hour. Paula, what are we expected to see today?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, this is a historic day on Capitol Hill. This is going to be a little bit different than those blockbuster hearings we saw over the summer with high profile witnesses. Today, this is a business meeting with two key items on the agenda. The first is to announce these criminal referrals. These are the recommendations that these investigators have made based on what they've uncovered for who they believe should be held criminally responsible for what happened on January 6th.

And we know from our reporting that at the top of that list is expected to be former President Trump. He is expected to be recommended and referred for three different crimes, insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the federal government.

Now we know they're also considering criminal referrals for at least four other associates. It's unclear if those referrals will be made today or at all, but these are largely symbolic, Kate. The Justice Department is of course already investigating the former president and his associates related to January 6th, that specific investigation has been handed off to Special Counsel Jack Smith. So a referral does not mean that there will be an indictment. The other key item on the agenda today is to vote to approve their final report. That's the big summary of everything they've uncovered.

We'll get an abridged version, an executive summary of that after the meeting. But the final report, the full report will be released on Wednesday. And Kate these lawmakers, they are under a tight deadline here. Republicans of course expected to take over the chamber next year. And they're expected to dissolve this Committee when they do so.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Paula, thanks for setting us up. I really appreciate it. So whatever the January 6th Committee recommends today, the Department of Justice as Paula is kind of getting at is under no obligation to act on it. So what will Attorney General Merrick Garland and the DOJ do with the Committee's referrals?

Katelyn Polantz is looking into this, digging deeper and deeper into this with her new reporting. Katelyn, what more do you know about the criminal referrals as we know about them right now and where the Justice Department kind of picks up from here?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Kate, we have these three possible criminal referrals on Donald Trump that have already been pretty sketched out by our own reporting obstruction of a congressional proceeding. So that would be this disinformation campaign, getting these rioters to want to obstruct Congress.

That's a charge that the Justice Department has already used against a lot of people on Capitol Hill on January 6th, conspiracy to defraud that is more of the pressure campaign, or sorry, that's the disinformation campaign. The other obstruction would be the pressure on Mike Pence, the pressure on Congress.

So there's a lot that the Justice Department is already looking at and take these or leave them. The Justice Department can do either with congressional referrals. We already know that they are investigating both of these things, if not regarding Donald Trump himself, but top allies around him. Previously, there was a federal judge that was quite clear in saying that he believed this should be investigated could be looked at as possible engagement in a crime or the planning of a crime.

And we also know from some court filings that have been out there that this is something both of these potential charges the Justice Department is already looking in circles around Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: Katelyn, Katelyn is going to stick with us if you would. I also want to bring in right now CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig, and CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich. She's the Washington bureau chief for the Boston Globe. So Elie, what are you going to be looking for in these criminal referrals?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I want to see the evidence. The evidence is really the thing, Kate. I mean, we are going to see these referrals. We've not seen anything quite like this before. But as you've said, they're symbolic. Yes, it'll be interesting. Who do they single out? What criminal charges do they specify, who beyond Donald Trump? That'll be interesting.

But thinking about this, from a prosecutor's point of view, that evidence is really valuable, because most of the time prosecutors have way more evidence than Congress would ever have, it's almost unthinkable to be in a scenario as a prosecutor, where you want to know what Congress has. But that's where we are now. And it's really sort of a tribute to the work that Committee has done. We know the committee has gotten to all sorts of witnesses and evidence before prosecutor. So I guarantee you, prosecutors are going to go through the evidence underlying this referral really carefully.

BOLDUAN: We know that something of the prosecutors has kind of been asking for, for some time is the evidence and transcripts and stuff. So in the end, is it the symbolic referrals? Or is it possibly new evidence that the Justice Department could see as most helpful to what they have, which is the really hard work of finding any criminal liability?

HONIG: It's the ladder for sure. In fact, if I'm a prosecutor, I don't even want a referral. A referral doesn't do anything to help me as a prosecutor at DOJ. I don't need a referral to do anything. All it does is lend a sheen of politicization to all of this, I'd rather not have one if I was a prosecutor.

But that evidence, you're right, DOJ hasn't even played coy about it. They have come out explicitly on the record, they've sent letters to the Committee. Merrick Garland two weeks ago said, we still don't have all the evidence, we really need it. We really want it. So that's what matters to me.

BOLDUAN: And Katelyn, are you expecting to learn new details today about the investigation?

POLANTZ: Kate, we do have a bit of that expectation, because after the Committee's last hearing, the last time they were speaking publicly about what they had found, they've done a lot more work. They have brought in Cabinet members from the Trump administration. We know that they've been interviewing them about what they were saying to the President around January 6th, also whether they wanted to talk about the 25th amendment.

We don't know the extent of what was shared there. We also know that the Committee was looking into the Secret Service further. We know that they were trying to obtain and did obtain many, many text messages of the protective details around Donald Trump what the discussion was there, especially after that Cassidy Hutchinson testimony.

And then, they have worked pursuing phone records of different people. We know that they got some after a case won to the Supreme Court related to the GOP ahead in Arizona. There are other interviews they did with top aides around Trump, Hope Hicks, people that hadn't been into the Committee before.

And so we're looking not to see any witnesses testify today. But we're looking to see how the Committee puts it all together. And we shouldn't be sleeping on the details. This committee has been especially good at drawing out in detail. And it's quite possible that they learned new detail in the past few weeks even.

BOLDUAN: That's a good point. And Jackie, the politics here, it's really multifaceted. I mean, just for one, you've got, I think it's four of the Committee members, they've either lost their reelection or decided against running for reelection kind of this is wrapped up into it. And the Committee is also going to be immediately disbanded when Republicans take the majority. What does this mean for the effort to get accountability here and the one and a half years of work that they've put into this?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that's exactly why we're getting this right now, Kate, because when Republicans take over, as everyone has just mentioned, they are going to dissolve this. And we also should mention that one of the members of Congress that refused to testify to the Committee is Kevin McCarthy, who stands to be potentially the leader of the House Republican Conference.

And we still don't know what he saw from him that day, that all goes away, coming into the new Congress. And they're based on Republicans have said, there's going to be some efforts to muddy the waters. So the fact that the Committee is putting this out now, really, and referring, making those ceremonial referrals to the Department of Justice really is, you know, an attempt to make their mark, and to get what they said with their view on the record before Republicans just take over.

BOLDUAN: And, Jackie, you're getting at another aspect of this that I think is important, and as maybe, I don't know, longer legs going forward, if you will, is what happens with the handful of Republican members of Congress who did refuse to comply with subpoenas from the Committee. Let me play for everyone what Adam Schiff said about this yesterday


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), JANUARY 6TH SELECT COMMITTEE: We have weighed what is the remedy for members of Congress? Is it a criminal referral to another branch of government or is it better that the Congress police its own.


SCHIFF: Well, censure was something that we have considered ethics referrals is something we've considered. And we'll be disclosing tomorrow what our decision is.

BOLDUAN: I mean what do you think of these moves if that's what they end up doing with these Republican members, Jackie?

KUCINICH: So I think the a lot of these things would have to be done very quickly because time is running short on this Congress, the Ethics Committee, all of those things that takes time and it center all of it. So that might end up being more symbolic. But it's ultimately the voters are the ultimate judgment for members of Congress. And we saw voters speak out this last election against election denialism, against some of the things that he's very members of the Republican conference that were listed here have been promoting.

So there have been political consequences, maybe not for these particular members. But, you know, Kevin McCarthy has a pretty narrow majority going into this conference. And that is, in part because voters said no, to some candidates that were telling voters it's nice.

BOLDUAN: I mean, get in depending how this plays out on this specific issue, Elie, do you think it makes it easier for Democrats to refuse to comply with subpoenas that they should probably anticipating are coming from Republicans?

HONIG: Sure, I guess they can say, look, you refused our subpoenas will refuse your subpoenas. But let's just say plainly, this Committee for all the good work they've done, they've done plenty of good work. They are going light on their own colleagues in the House. There's just no way around that.

They subpoenaed Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, and three others all of whom had really important information. McCarthy and Jim Jordan spoke with Donald Trump on January 6th, what happened to other people who defied subpoenas. Steve Bannon is going to go to prison for four months. Not that we should feel bad for Steve Bannon but there's real consequences there.

These five, oh, Ethics Committee, I mean, that's a slap on the wrist. So we need to say playing here. I think there's a little bit of home cooking going on for the congressional colleagues.

BOLDUAN: Let's see, first and foremost what we had and a little later this afternoon, I really appreciate it guys. Thank you so much.

So Texas is bracing right now Title 42 goes way in days, the mayor of El Paso just declared a state of emergency.


MAYOR OSCAR LEESER (D), EL PASO, TEXAS: When I asked him, I said, do you believe that you guys can handle it today? The answer was no.


BOLDUAN: That is next.


BOLDUAN: More busloads of asylum seekers arriving this morning in New York City. This is video of them getting off the bus just today. The city's mayor saying 1,000 more migrants are expected to come by bus this week alone and with Title 42 set to be lifting he is expecting it to only increase. The City Council is holding a hearing right now focused on what to do about this growing crisis. Polo Sandoval is watching it for us. He joins us now. Polo, what's the city going to do? POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, that council meeting actually getting underway just a few moments ago, what council members are doing essentially are not only assessing the city's performance up to this point, but also most importantly, how can they best bolster their response to try to accommodate what is expected to be yet another increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving here in New York City. That number did greatly reduced over the last couple of months, when we're seeing roughly, you know, up to 10 buses that will put a day.

However, the expectation here, especially with the anticipated removal of Title 42 restrictions is that there will be many more of these asylum seekers who will consider New York City as a place where they will go through their asylum proceedings. So the concern right now as we are months into this, and just days before, the expected removal of Title 42 is that that number will greatly increase.

So far, city officials have been told to expect at least 1,000 more asylum seekers a week arriving here in New York City, just this morning, as you mentioned, saw about 100 people stepping off of buses. And there's still a couple more buses expected to arrive later today. But one of the biggest questions that city officials are trying to answer is who will pay for this?

They spent a billion dollars so far and a latest financial report, Kate, as we wrap things up here shows that for the next three to four years, the city is expected to spend roughly a billion more per year. So it certainly speaks to the great expense of housing, and even educating and feeding so many migrants with many more potentially on their way, later this week. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's about the space and it's about the resources in New York City and far beyond. Polo, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Let's see what comes to that meeting. Border cities, of course, though, are at the epicenter of the migrant crisis.

Officials in the Rio Grande Valley pointing to migrants now sleeping on the streets as clear evidence that they don't have the resources, they don't have the space to handle the current surge, let alone what could happen when Title 42 goes array. The city of El Paso, Texas just declared a state of emergency because of this. Ed Lavandera is there for us and tracking this for us. Ed, what are you hearing there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just a short while ago here on the streets of El Paso, a group of police officers and a trash dumpster came through and cleared out everything that was here. There was trash that many of the migrants had collected in one spot. And we've seen that over the last week has been taken away. But there was also stacked blankets that people have been using to stay warm in the overnight hours and all of that was swept away into the dumpsters as well. One of the officers here said that this was not part of the emergency order that was declared over the weekend.

But clearly a change here where city officials are really trying to make sure that these migrants are no longer sleeping on the streets in the areas around the bus stations in the downtown area of El Paso. And this really speaks to the magnitude and what the city is bracing for here in the days ahead.

The mayor over the weekend said that they're now expecting when Title 42 is lifted. Here just in the El Paso area alone, some 4 to 6,000 people crossing into the area per day, clearly overwhelming. The services that are here, charities, and nongovernmental organizations that have been working as shelters, so there's a great deal of concern about what this area will look like, in just a couple of days. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Ed, thank you for being there. Appreciate it. Joining me now for more on this is El Paso City Council Representative Claudia Rodriguez, thank you for coming on. I want to read what you told local reporter actually this weekend because it's really stuck with me Councilwoman. You said, I don't think they're getting all the money in the world right now would even help us. Tell me why that is? Is it just too little too late at this point?

CLAUDIA RODRIGUEZ, EL PASO CITY COUNCIL REPRESENTATIVE: That is correct. You know, I have been sounding the alarm on this whole situation since May of this year. And we could have prepared since May. And now we are like you said at the epicenter of this we are titled days away from Title 42 being lifted. We are barely preparing for this?

Well, we had plenty of time to prepare for this. All the money in the world, you're absolutely correct would not help us with this situation. The truth of the matter is, is that we are in emergency. We are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis.

And the only way that we can solve this at this point is bringing our administration, our federal government, you know, they were ill prepared for this. They brought this upon us and had they, you know, they knew this was coming. I really wish they would have done more and not put El Paso in the middle of this.

BOLDUAN: You've been, I mean you said since May, I was -- I've been tracking this, you've been pushing for El Paso to declare a state of emergency for months now. I want to play for everyone what the mayor of El Paso said, this weekend when making that declaration. Listen.


LEESER: I said from the beginning, that I would call it when I felt that either our asylum seekers, our community was not safe. And I really believe that today our asylum seekers are not safe, as we have hundreds and hundreds on the streets. And that's not the way we want to treat people.

BOLDUAN: So what is your reaction now that he has made this call?

RODRIGUEZ: I mean, I respect that he finally called that he finally decided to declare an emergency. But again, it's a little bit too little too late now that people of El Paso we're going to have to scramble and figure this thing out. Again, had he really listen not just to the council, but listen to the community, I think that we could have been better prepared for this. It wasn't a political issue. It was simply to say, hey, like this is coming. We need to be prepared. And now here we are days away and we're barely now recognizing this as an emergency. It's been an emergency.

BOLDUAN: Do you think it is the politics that got in the way of the city's ability to prepare since you saw this coming, since May? What is it that you think stop the city from doing more?

RODRIGUEZ: I absolutely believe I know, it was political. You know, in September, that's when the mayor had told me, you know, the White House and the congresswoman had asked him not to declare, and he admitted at one of the council meetings, the same very thing that he told me on that phone call.

It was political. I don't know what the circumstances for the White House or the congresswoman worked for him not to ask him not to declare. But what I do know is that, this put the entire city of El Paso in danger, this put the migrants in danger. And this put the entire nation to be quite honest, in danger.

I think that had -- we -- they had to have known this was coming like, how do you wait until the last possible moment to say, oh, you know what, it is an emergency, when we could have prevented a lot of this from happening.

BOLDUAN: In reaction to this, there have been some people pushing to at least temporarily extend Title 42. And this morning the White House is pushing back on those calls, saying that it's really not possible one official telling CNN this, that we have to follow the court order, a court is requiring us to lift it on December 21st. We are required to do it. If it was even possible, would extending Title 42 be the answer at this point?

RODRIGUEZ: I'm not sure because at this point, you know, people know that Title 42 is being lifted and they're coming. They're coming in droves there, they're coming in anticipation that this is going to be lifted. And even if they get here on Title 42 remains, the people that are going to be then handling a humanitarian crisis are our neighbors in Juarez. The people of Juarez are also not prepared for this. They're not happy with this. They haven't asked for this. And quite frankly, I mean, at this point extending it is only going to push the problem over to them.

BOLDUAN: Anyone not living in a border town today I mean what would you like them to understand about this moment in the ongoing fight over immigration reform because El Paso maybe at the epicenters we're talking about but this is a problem for everyone across the country.

RODRIGUEZ: So, you know, here in El Paso we are a border community. A lot of our friends, a lot of our family live in Juarez, my parents came from Juarez, they migrated from Juarez, my husband migrated from Juarez. I am a first generation American. I have dual citizenship.

And this is the norm for a lot of people here in El Paso and we are very loving and welcoming community. We accept that, you know, we share the sister city we call Juarez our sister city. But what's happening right now, that's not it. That's not what we've been accustomed to. That's not what we've been, what we've grown up to see. What's happening right now is something completely different. And it's something that the community is not happy with.

We are not -- we're used to coming back and forth here in El Paso. People from Juarez come into El Paso, they go back home to Juarez. We go visit Juarez, we come back home to El Paso. We're not used to people jumping into our backyards. We're not used to people sleeping in our backyards.

We're not used to seeing people run over on our freeways. The other day, we had a 12-year-old little girl, a migrant little girl ran over. Our border is not secure. There is a process. We do have laws and they need to be implemented. Our border patrol agents have the ability and the authority to do things the right way. But what's happening right now is completely different.

And we -- because we are welcoming and loving community, we will not allow these people to be sleeping out on the streets. It's freezing. It's 30 degrees. We bring in our pets inside our homes for 30 degrees in El Paso. I mean, I know in New York, it's probably a lot colder, but to us, this is cold and it's not sustainable. And it's not a good place to put anybody, not the migrants and not the community members.

BOLDUAN: Well, it's definitely, even if it is too little too late, it is definitely the forefront of the focus in El Paso and beyond in this moment as Title 42 is about to be lifted just in a couple days. Claudia Rodriguez, thank you so much for coming on.

Back in the courtroom in the Bahamas, the FTX founder dropping his fight against extradition back to the United States. That is next.