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Biden Welcomes Ukrainian President Zelensky To White House; 1 Dead, 49 Injured When High School Band Camp Bus Overturns; Rupert Murdoch Steps Down As Chair Of Fox And News Corp; Biden Sends More Troops To Border As Crossings Rise; Two Indicted After Baby Dies In Daycare Drug Case. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 21, 2023 - 15:30   ET



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And of course, you know, we speak to soldiers on the ground here on the frontlines and also your average everyday Ukrainians that we meet on the streets here as well, and that we deal with as we're on the ground here. Of course it's something that's of grave concern to them.

There are a lot of people who are quite concerned about the next presidential election and what could happen after that presidential election. At the same time, they also say that for them, this is an existential fight, and it is a fight that is going to continue. They say -- and I spoke to a soldier actually today about this. They say look, they basically have no other choice than to go on the battlefield. He said I don't want to go to war. I don't want to be at war. In fact, there's nothing I want to do less. But they say that right now for them, there simply is no other choice for their own future, for the future of their children. A lot of them say as well.

So they understand that they need to figure out a way to keep weapons flowing into this country and to keep countries -- to supply them with weapons going forward.

The U.S., of course by far is their most important ally in doing that, and I think that's why you're seeing the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy makes such a big effort.

But yes, they do understand that there could be a point where they're going to have to either depend on others or depend on themselves. And I think you are seeing them also in the long-term trying to build up some of those capabilities. There are some Western arms companies that are already talking about moving manufacturing or at least moving some of the repair of weapons here onto Ukrainian territory. Of course, with all the risks that that encompasses as well.

There are also some European companies who are also talking about longer term aid for Ukraine. But the Ukrainians certainly do understand that in the end they are very dependent on the goodwill of countries like the United States. And certainly the United States also seeing themselves in this fight and seeing themselves -- or seeing this as a very important issue to the United States, a fundamental issue to the United States. And that's what we can see. Not just President Zelenskyy making that point, but an array of other

Ukrainian politicians, and certainly Ukrainian military leaders. If you look at, for instance, at the head of the Ukrainian General Staff making that point again and again, that they are very thankful for the weapons they are getting. They certainly are going to need a lot more of them. And they certainly are going to need it, most probably for a long period of time.

I think one of the things, you know, that we've also seen over the past couple of weeks, the past couple of months, is that the Ukrainians are saying with the counteroffensive, the way it's going right now, is something that could take a long period of time, certainly for larger territorial gains to take hold. They do have a bit of momentum going on right now on the battlefield, but they are still pretty far away from, for instance, cutting off Crimea. The land route to Crimea from the Russians, for instance, making a major breakthrough in the east of the country as well.

So for them they know it's going to be tough. The people here, quite frankly, are extremely motivated. They are saying, look, they don't want to give up any of their territory. They certainly don't want to have some sort of negotiated solution with the Russians, where they give up territory like for instance Crimea. That some is something that right now in public opinion here in this country, simply is not in the cards. But of course they also know that all of that -- making all of that happen or trying to make all of that happen is very much also in the hands of countries like the U.S. and their will to continue to supply Ukraine with the weapons that, of course, are extremely sophisticated. On the other hand, also extremely expensive.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Fred, please stand by. We do want to be fully transparent with our viewers. We've been told now twice that we were getting a two-minute warning to the arrival of President Zelenskyy at the White House. He was set to arrive at 3:00 and then 3:15. And now it's 3:30. We're told that his car is very close. And there you see the doors opening on the South Lawn of the White House. There is President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will listen in as President Zelenskyy of Ukraine arrives at the White House at a critical time during his war, defending his country against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

There's not much to listen to but the birds right now on the South Lawn of the White House, we were told the car was arriving. We're going to fill the space until it does. Something notable to me -- Beth Santer, if you're still with us. Is the question of what victory looks like in Crimea. And I think it it's a question that a lot of House Republicans certainly have.

Let's go ahead and pause now as the car arrives at the White House carrying Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, how important is this visit? Mr. President, how important is this visit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zelenskyy, can you achieve peace? BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right, and there you have it. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska going inside of the White House with the president and the first lady for a critical meeting as he has a really tough sell here in Washington. A lot of Republicans whose support for the war in Ukraine and American funding for it has waned. Certainly he has an ally in President Biden.

SANCHEZ: And we should point out a lot of House Republicans are actually in line with public polling. The majority of Americans are critical of sending more aid to Ukraine. President Zelenskyy was asked on the South Lawn how important is this meeting? He said, quote, extremely important.

We'll of course keep tracking all the latest details from Zelenskyy's visit to the White House. And we'll get you updated as soon as we get more information from inside. Stay with CNN NEWS CENTRAL. We're back in just a few minutes.



SANCHEZ: If you're just joining us, we've been tracking breaking news about a deadly high school bus crash in Orange County, New York, and we have some new information to share with you. CNN Polo Sandoval has been tracking this since it happened. And Polo, I understand we have a breakdown of the numbers of exactly how many people were hurt. Walk us through the details.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Boris, that breakdown comes from the EMS company that is directly involved in the response to this accident that took place this afternoon in Orange County. We now understand according to them, that 49 students were injured as a result of this accident in Orange County, New York. Three of them severely, 45 of them, according to officials there, apparently only suffered a few bumps and bruises, and were actually seen walking around the scene as first responders were rendering care. And that sadly one person, at least one person has died. Though they did not any offer any additional information on whether or not this may have been one of the students that was being transported on that bus.

Going back to what we've learned in the last hour or so, we understand that this was part of at least one of three buses that have left -- that left Long Island and were headed to Pennsylvania earlier today, to participate in band camp when this accident happened. So now investigators are trying to find out exactly what caused this charter bus carrying dozens of high school students to crash, leading to the death to the death of one and multiple injuries -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: So again, Polo, just to reiterate, 49 students hurt, 45 of them with walking injuries. One person killed, three students severely injured -- as we understand it. And this was one of three buses, right, that was going to band camp.

SANDOVAL: That's correct. And those two buses, they're actually headed back to Farmingdale High School where they will eventually be reunified with their parents.

SANCHEZ: All right, Polo Sandoval, please keep us up to date with the very latest information that you're getting -- Brianna.

KEILAR: New today, Rupert Murdoch is stepping down as the chairman of Fox and News Corp. He has been a kingmaker, of course, among conservatives. Murdoch making household names of controversial TV hosts like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Bill O'Reilly, just to name a few. In a memo to employees, Murdoch said, quote:

For my entire professional life I have been engaged daily with news and ideas and that will not change. But the time is right for me to take on different roles knowing that we have truly talented teams.

CNN's Anna Stewart is joining us now from London. So Anna, what happens next with his empire?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, anyone who is a fan of the TV series "Succession" might be wondering, did Lachlan win some big succession battle? And while in the past there were contenders of his siblings Elizabeth and James, in recent years it was fairly clear that Lachlan would take this ultimate role. So he now has as of mid-November the title of chairman of the Fox Corporation and News Corp and all of the influence which goes with that.

And you can imagine what influence that is, given how Rupert Murdoch has certainly shaped the discourse, I would say, of politics in the United States also actually here in the U.K.

So will there be any major changes to the editorial stance, for instance, of Fox News? Well, we believe Lachlan very much has the same political views of his father. CNN has been told by sources that he doesn't much like former President Donald Trump. But judging as his CEO of Fox, the decisions that have been made under him would suggest there isn't any major change.

This brings me to the more interesting point about who controls this empire. It's still Rupert Murdoch. In the future though, you could see Lachlan needing the support of his siblings.

KEILAR: Yes, very good point. Anna, thank you for that report -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: A surge in migrants crossing into the United States, prompting the White House to make some significant moves. We're going to take you live to the border.

And a daycare in the Bronx reportedly being run by a mid level drug distributor. She and another suspect were just indicted by a grand jury over the overdose death of a baby.


Details from that hearing when CNN NEWS CENTRAL returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: We've been following a developing situation at the U.S. border with Mexico where we are seeing a surge in migrants. Here in the last 24 hours, there were 8,600 border arrests. Now President Biden is sending another 800 troops to the border.


We have CNN's Ed Lavandera in Eagle Pass, Texas. Which just declared a state of emergency due to this surge. Ed, tell us about this surge. Why are we seeing this sudden rise in new arrivals?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've had a chance over the last few days working along the U.S. Mexico border from El Paso here to Eagle Pass where we're at. We've spoken with many migrants. And the overall theme of that we've heard from them as to why all of the sudden they're crossing and these kinds of numbers in between ports of entry, which is essentially hits them as an illegal entry, can cause problems for them as they move through the immigration process in the U.S.

But many of them say they're just simply desperate. That they're coming from countries, dictatorships like Venezuela, and it is just unsafe for them and that they've been traveling for months to reach the U.S. Mexico border.

Many of them, Brianna, also tell us they've been waiting to travel and enter into the U.S. through this program that was set up, called the CBP One app, where essentially you request a meeting, you wait your turn and then you cross when you get that appointment. But many people say they're just simply tired of waiting. That they've been waiting for months to get those appointments. And that's perhaps one of the reasons why we're seeing this massive influx of immigrants -- migrants crossing into the U.S. illegally.

Here in Eagle Pass, we've seen hundreds and hundreds throughout the day. Might be a little bit hard to make out because many of them are now held in -- are in custody now underneath this bridge. But in the shadow, you have hundreds of migrants who are waiting to be processed. We're told some will be processed and charged with trespassing from the state -- from state authorities and others will be processed by Border Patrol -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Ed Lavandera live for us in Eagle Pass, Texas today, thank you -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Two indictments just came down in the case of an alleged daycare drug ring in New York. One year old Nicholas Dominici died from a drug overdose last Friday at the Divino Nino daycare in the Bronx. Three other small children also overdose but survive.

Investigators say the incident led them to find a mid level fentanyl operation inside the daycare. The two people indicted are the owner and her husband's cousin. Her husband is now wanted.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz has been following this story for us. So Shimon, police just released new pictures of more drugs that were discovered at the daycare. What can you tell us?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris. More drugs and this is certainly looking to be more of a sophisticated operation, a drug trafficking location. And police just now releasing these new photos of a trap in the floor. They were conducting a search warrant they say at the location yesterday when they discovered even more drugs in this trap that was created in the floor by the people inside this daycare center. And what we're told is that 8 to 10 -- 8 to 10 more kilos of narcotics -- it's not clear what kind of drugs yet. Police saying that they did find more fentanyl. But that is what they discover in this trap that was built into the floor.

So certainly they've already recovered one kilo after the kids were sick and after that one child died. And now looking into this more and doing this further investigation and search warrant, they have found additional drugs. And this is going to obviously raise all kinds of questions. We're also told that this is part of a larger investigation now that's going global, overseas into other parts of the world.

Because they're trying to figure out exactly how these drugs are being brought in. The DEA is involved. The Department of Homeland Security, HSI. There's all sorts of agencies still investigating. While these two are now indicted in the state court on the murder charges but they're also facing federal charges related to the distribution of narcotics.

And as you said, Boris, they're still looking for the woman's husband who is still on the run.

SANCHEZ: Important to point out that one kilo of fentanyl that was found initially by officials, that can kill thousands and thousands of people, and now you're seeing the consequences of it being kept at a daycare.

PROKUPECZ: Yes. And certainly the thing, Boris, is where this was found. Look, this was found in the play area of this daycare center, which investigators now believe were just -- is just a front for what was going on here as they continue this investigation.

SANCHEZ: Shimon Prokupecz, thanks so much for the reporting. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Do you remember the 21st night of September? Of course. Earth, Wind & Fire's 1978 hit, asked that probing question. It's funky, it's cheerful and just like this tune stands the test of time. So does my co-anchor Brianna Keeler. It's Brianna's birthday. She's also funky and cheerful, and in lieu of a birthday cake, I'm making you a fine Cuban coffee.

KEILAR: Oh amazing. This is even better.

KEILAR: Such that it's here in the back. There you go some. Sweet for your birthday. Happy birthday.

KEILAR: I already had cake for breakfast.


KEILAR: So this is perfect. This is just what I needed.

KEILAR: I love that. Eat your breakfast.

KEILAR: Isn't it fun that they wrote a song anticipating me coming a couple years later?

SANCHEZ: They were, yes, welcoming you into the earth. Yes.


What are you doing for your birthday? You had cake in the morning. What you doing tonight?

KEILAR: I'm probably going to have more cake with my children. It's really, it's just about them eating cake. So yes.

SANCHEZ: Oh, that's very sweet. Well the real gift is the one you give to us with your presence.

KEILAR: Thanks Boris, I really appreciate that.

SANCHEZ: It's a lot of fun.

KEILAR: Thank you so much.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

KEILAR: Well, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.