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CIA Seizes On Russians' Anger With Putin In Spy Recruiting Video; Migrant Encounters Drop After COVID Expulsion Policy Ends; DeSantis Signs Bill To Defund Diversity Programs At FL Public Colleges; Panicked 911 Calls Capture Terror, Chaos As Gunman Opened Fire At TX Mall; 12-Year-Old Charged With Murder Of Texas Sonic Drive- In Employee. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 16, 2023 - 13:30   ET





ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): And this new video, after making an emotional pitch to Russian viewers, details how to do that using the dark web browser called Tor.

"You're not powerless," it says. "Contact us in a safe way."

The CIA recruitment video was first posted Monday evening on Telegram, the social media app that is highly popular among Russians who can't easily access unfiltered news or other social media sites.

JAMES OLSON, FORMER CHIEF OF CIA COUNTERINTELLIGENCE & AUTHOR: I call it hanging out the shingle. You know, spreading the word far and wide that U.S. counterintelligence is open for business, and we have deep pockets.

And if you want to strike back against this man you hate, Vladimir Putin, you have an opportunity now to do it safely.

MARQUARDT: CIA officials told CNN they hope the video will resonate beyond intelligence and security officials, with people who may not realize that they have sensitive information to share, working, for example, in cyber, tech, finance and other fields.

They may think contacting the CIA is too difficult or too dangerous. The CIA telling CNN they want to demystify that.

OLSON: We need people all through the Russian economy to cooperate with us. We need to know what's going on in this adversary country.


MARQUARDT: There is no direct mention of Putin or Ukraine, nor, CIA officials insist, is it meant to fuel unrest in Russia.

Rather, they tell CNN, these are timeless themes that they hope will drive Russians into the arms of the CIA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This will always be my Russia.

I will endure. My family will endure.

We will live with dignity. Thanks to my actions.


MARQUARDT: So in terms of who this video is directed at, Boris, the CIA tells me it could be thousands or tens of thousands of potential assets.

I asked them what kind of success they have had over the past year. They wouldn't put numbers on it. They wouldn't say how many spies they managed to recruit or which industries they came from, but they did say that they have had success.

One CIA official told me they wouldn't be rolling out this new video, ramping up their efforts if they hadn't had success. That official telling me there's contacts coming in.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: They probably don't say much about how much they get paid, right?

MARQUARDT: No, but that is certainly part of what could happen. If you come forward with valuable information, certainly financial compensation is very possible.

SANCHEZ: Very cinematic. You can see more on

Alex Marquardt, thanks so much for the reporting.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Local and federal authorities are watching and waiting on the southern border as another day passes without the expected, the anticipated big surge in migrants. That surge was expected after the Covid expulsion policy known as Title 42 expired last Thursday.

A CNN drone captured this encampment of migrants just across the border from Brownsville, Texas. The mayor of El Paso told CNN today his city has seen a significant drop in migrants, though he's concerned it may not last.


MAYOR OSCAR LEESER (D-BROWNSVILLE, TX): We're continuing to prepare for the unexpected, the unknown. And that's one of the things that's really important, because we don't know what's going to be coming in.

But I can tell you that El Paso is prepared to treat people with respect and dignity and make sure that we can continue to protect not only the asylum seekers but the people of our community.


SCIUTTO: CNN's Rosa Flores is still along the border, this time in McAllen, Texas.

So, when you first talked about -- we talked about this the first day, you said the numbers were coming down. We've seen this continue through the weekend, a drop of some 50 percent.

So not the big surge, in fact a drop off, though concerned that might change and no one knows when.

But what are officials there at the border attributing the drop off to, attributing the lack of the expected surge coming to be?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT; You know what I'm hearing, Jim, is that the tough talk by the Biden administration and also the transparency by the Biden administration is actually achieving its intended purpose of deterring illegal immigration.

This is what I'm hearing from officials and community leaders on the Mexican side of the border, who are actually engaging with the migrants who are on the Mexican side of the border and deciding not to enter the country illegally.

They say there is a variety of reasons why this is happening. But at the top of the list is the fact that the Biden administration's message that the border is closed is actually being received by these migrants.

These migrants are sharing it on WhatsApp. They're sharing it on social media. It is spreading.

And what's also added to these messages is that there are legal consequences to the illegal entry into the United States. One of those being the five-year bar of reentering the country.

Now, the Biden administration -- and, Jim, we covered it on this show. They also showed enforcement in El Paso. There were agents walking the streets around a church. That was very public.

The Biden administration also gave reporters access to a deportation flight that showed migrants being shackled and deported back to their country.


And so there has been this effort that is a lot more visual, showing visuals of the consequences of illegal entry into this country.

The U.S. Border Patrol chief here in the Rio Grande Valley posted this video with a very similar message. Take a listen.


GLORIA CHAVEZ, CHIEF, RIO GRANDE VALLEY SECTOR, U.S. BORDER PATROL: These are some of the processes that are in place now under Title 8, where people that come into the country illegally between the ports of entry are going to get returned.


FLORES: Now, Jim, how long is this going to last? We don't know. We'll be here on the border and checking it out to see what happens -- Jim?

SCIUTTO: A five-year ban if you're caught crossing the border illegally. That's the new regulation?

FLORES: Yes, that is under Title 8. It's actually always been this way. But under Title 42, there were no legal consequences.

I think that was one of the leading drivers. That's why we saw encounters at record levels.

And what that means, Jim, is an encounter is not an apprehension. Under Title 42, migrants could try entering the country over and over and over and over and there was no legal consequence. They could try again and try again.

And now, under Title 8, if they cross illegally, there are legal consequences.

And the processing takes a little longer because there's more paperwork, there's more to do, but the legal consequences there. And it appears now that message is being received by the migrants on the Mexican side of the border -- Jim?

SCIUTTO: So reverting to what it was before.

Rosa Flores, on the border, thanks so much.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signing a bill that defunds Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs at all of the Sunshine State's public universities. He says the programs distract from the core mission. We'll show you what is going on there.

And panicked 911 calls from the Texas mall shooting have just been released. Hear what it was like as the nation's second-deadliest mass shooting this year unfolded.



KEILAR: Republican Governor Ron DeSantis continuing to wage his culture war in Florida. He just signed a new bill into law and it defunds Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs at all public colleges in the state.

The new law says general education courses at Florida state schools can't, quote, "distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics or Critical Race Theory."

CNN's Steve Contorno is joining us now on this story.

Steve, he actually signed this at a public college that has abolished its DEI office and also fired its diversity dean.

Are critics worried that's what's going to happen at all public colleges in Florida?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Brianna, that is certainly the concern. And that is why we saw so many students show up yesterday at this college to protest the governor signing this bill.

They are concerned that these actions are going to undermine what is considered one of the best public university systems in the country. It has been ranked very highly since before DeSantis arrived.

But Governor DeSantis and Republicans in the state believe that these programs distract from the classical education model.

DeSantis yesterday gave his explanation for why he doesn't believe these programs should exist.

Listen to what he said.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This has basically been used as a veneer to impose an ideological agenda. That is wrong.

And in fact if you look at the way this has equally been implemented across the country, DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination and that has no place in our public institutions.



CONTORNO: Now, banning DEI programs is not all that this legislation does. It actually has a pretty large breadth to it.

It also bans gender studies. DeSantis said yesterday, if you want to learn gender studies, go to California and go to Berkeley.

It also makes it a lot easier to fire professors. And it puts a lot of that hiring and firing authority into the hands of board members that are appointed by the governor.

This is raising a lot of concerns that teachers and professors are not going to want to work at Florida's public institutions because they will have the threat of this employment hanging over them.

But, Brianna, this is all part of the larger -- the war on "Woke" that Governor DeSantis has been waging as he takes steps toward a presidential bid.

KEILAR: It certainly is. Steve, thank you for that report.


SANCHEZ: Newly released 911 calls capture the terror and chaos that unfolded as a gunman opened fire at an outlet mall in Texas earlier this month.

Calls poured in from distraught shoppers, some of them crying into their phones, pleading for help. Remember, eight people died that day and at least seven others were injured.

CNN security correspondent, Josh Campbell, has been following this story for us.

Josh, what are you hearing in these audio tapes, in these calls?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Boris, this is terrifying to hear, but it's so important that people not tune this out and not look away.

Because we know in this era of American gun violence, we're not just talking about people physically wounded, but untold numbers of others who are psychologically impacted by being in proximity to these mass shootings.

I'll play for you a portion of the audio from those 911 calls.

I'll warn our viewers that what you're about to hear is disturbing.


This is people who are trying to direct 911 operators to the shooter. We're also hearing from people who were trying to save lives.



911 OPERATOR: OK, ma'am, if you are not injured, I need you to take cover and stay in place.


CALLER: Hello?

911 OPERATOR: Ma'am -


911 OPERATOR: They are on scene. Do you see the shooter? Are you injured?

CALLER: Yes, the shooter is outside. We need your help.

911 OPERATOR: Where are they outside? Where is he outside? CALLER: He's walking outside.

911 OPERATOR: Where, ma'am? Where?

CALLER: Fossil store, at the outlet. He was right there.

911 OPERATOR: OK, Fossil store.

CALLER: Yes, ma'am.

911 OPERATOR: OK. OK. Where are they shot at?

CALLER: In the lower back. Their bleeding is controlled and they're conscious and breathing.

911 OPERATOR: OK, thank you.

So we've got help on the way. Can you please get them to safety and plug the bleeding?

CALLER: Yes, we're in safety right now.

911 OPERATOR: OK, stay there. We've got help on the way. I'm letting them know.

I have to keep answering 911, OK?


CAMPBELL: So eight people were tragically killed in the shooting, seven others injured.

But of course, Boris, there were so many others, countless, who were in the proximity, facing emotional scars that may last a lifetime.

SANCHEZ: The horror in those calls, a pain that too many Americans now have had to face.


SANCHEZ: Josh Campbell, thank you so much for that reporting.


SCIUTTO: Well, shoppers boosted retail sales last month, reversing two months of declines actually. We're going to show you what this means for the overall health of the U.S. economy.

And talk about some relief. A battle is now under way to cancel the Taco Tuesday trademark. That doesn't sound good. We'll have the details, next.


[13:51:22] SCIUTTO: A deadly attack in the parking lot of a Sonic fast-food restaurant in Texas. Now a 12-year-old child is charged with murder. Police say the boy shot and killed a Sonic Drive-In employee following an argument they had.

CNN senior national correspondent, Ed Lavandera, joins us now with details.

Ed, a 12-year-old got a gun and shot and killed someone. How did this happen?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the details are staggering and inexplicable. But this is what we know from police in the small city of Keene, Texas, which is south of Fort Worth.

This, according to the police there, happened Saturday night. Matthew Davis, the employee at the store, sees the suspect in this, Angel Gomez, 20 years old. Police say that Gomez is acting in disorderly fashion in the parking lot.

That leads to a confrontation between Davis and Gomez. Gomez had shown up at that Sonic drive-through with a 12-year-old juvenile. That confrontation turns into a physical altercation.

And at that point, police in Keene says that the 12-year-old returned to their car and came back with an A.R.-15 assault-style rifle and shot at Davis six times.

Davis was airlifted from the shooting scene, flown to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

We don't know who the firearm legally is registered to or those kinds of details.

What we do know, Jim, is this shooting comes at a time when the victims' families of the Uvalde school shooting have been pushing Texas lawmakers to raise the legal age limit to own and purchase an assault-style weapon from 18 to 21. That appears to be going nowhere in the Texas legislature.

But the details of this shooting is staggering. A 12-year-old somehow able to, according to police, get his hands on an assault-style rifle and gun down a drive-through restaurant employee. Just simply stunning details -- Jim?

SCIUTTO: Goodness, a 12-year-old.

Ed Lavandera, thanks so much.


KEILAR: Jim, here's a look at some of the other headlines we are following this hour.

Prosecutors in the U.S. Virgin Islands have subpoenaed Elon Musk for documents related to the government's lawsuit into Jeffrey Epstein's ex-trafficking ring.

The suit claims the bank, JPMorgan Chase, benefitted financially from Epstein's operation and failed to report suspicious financial activities.

Prosecutors believe that Musk was a high-net-worth individual whom Epstein may have introduced to JPMorgan executives. Musk tweeted, quote, "This is idiotic on so many levels."

Also American shoppers are still fueling the economy. The Department of Commerce reported retail sales actually rebounded last month following two months of declines. The increase was driven by sales at car dealerships, restaurants, specialty stores and online shopping.

And call it the taco wars. Fast-food chain Taco Bell is going to battle over the popular phrase "Taco Tuesday." The company wants to use it in branding and advertising, but can't because, did you know this, it is trademarked.

The smaller rival chain, Taco John's, has owned the rights for the past 34 years. So Taco Bell is petitioning the U.S. Patent Office saying that the phrase should not be exclusive, and should be freely available to all who make, sell, eat and celebrate tacos.

I use that phrase, Boris so I guess I might be in violation.

SANCHEZ: You might be liable, Brianna. Every day is Taco Tuesday if you are brave enough.



SANCHEZ: Coming up, a critical meeting at the White House. In just over an hour, the president meets with top congressional leaders hoping to break the deadlock over the debt ceiling. The speaker of the House insists the president will not get everything he wants.

You're watching CNN NEWS CENTRAL, where we celebrate tacos.



KEILAR: In just an hour, a high-stakes Oval Office meeting to raise the debt ceiling. Will the months'-long game of chicken finally end or will the U.S. keep flirting with disaster while the politics play out? We are live at the White House.