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Senate Votes To Advance Ukraine-Israel Aid Package; Texas Border Town Residents Frustrated With Congress; Migrants Indicted in Connection With NYPD Attack; Trump Expected To Sweep Nevada's GOP Delegates; Super Bowl Sunday Just 3 Days Away In Las Vegas; Make-A- Wish Sends Kids To Super Bowl LVIII; Special Counsel Report: Biden Willfully Retained Classified Information But Will Not Face Charges. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 08, 2024 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The Senate is moving forward with major foreign aid package that will provide billions of dollars for Ukraine and Israel after Republicans killed the broader border security deal Wednesday that also included some of this aid here.

The new deal is a slimmed down version of the bill. The border portion stripped out. And all of this playing out on Capitol Hill.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Yes, Texas border town residents, meantime, say they are frustrated and confused as to why politicians can't work together to pass legislation that would help alleviate the migrant crisis.

CNN is covering the story from all sides. Ed Lavandera is speaking with some of the residents in Eagle Pass, Texas.

First, let's go to the capital with CNN's Manu Raju.

Manu, final passage of this bill can still be days away. The Senate is supposed to be on recess next week. What is next for this package?

MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR & CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we expect the recess to be delayed. And we expect the major push to try to get this massive package, more than $95 billion worth of aid to Ukraine, to Israel, to Taiwan.

Something that was supposed to be paired with border security provisions, new border policies that even have been negotiated for more than four months.

Republican killed the plan that included border provisions because of operations among from House Republicans, opposition from former President Donald Trump, and Senate Republicans who believe that the provisions are too weak and did not want to move forward with the plan if it had a future in the House.

But today, moving forward the aid package opened the debate. And 67:32 was the vote today. And 17 Republicans voted to move it ahead.

Including Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, the number-two Senate Republican, John Thune, John Cornyn, a potential future leader as well. One, the number-three Republican leader, John Barrasso, voted against it.

But this plan will take some time to go through all of the hoops and the process here in the Senate.

One Senator has slowed down the process. That is Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He told me earlier today that he plans to drag this out, which could delay final passages until the middle of the week next week. That is if they continue to keep the votes.

Some of the Senators are noncommittal on voting forward on final passage is. We will see how that ultimately plays out as it goes through the process on the floor.

Here is also the big question, if it gets out of the Senate, what happens in the Republican-led House? The speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, has been noncommittal about moving on such a package.

He has called for these issues to be dealt with separately. So it could run into headwinds in the Republican House, even if it gets over the Senate -- guys?

KEILAR: Now, Ed, to you. What are you hearing from residents where you are about what's happening in Washington?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Boris, we've been reporting for months from Eagle Pass. This is an area that has really become the epicenter of this immigration crisis and this battle in this area around what is known as Shelby Park in Eagle Pass.

This is where the state of Texas has taken over several miles of the river front, looking out over into Mexico. It is kind of the epicenter of this battle between state authorities and the federal government immigration officials.


And there's just a great deal of frustration. Many people here view this area as having become like the stage for this political theater.

And as we have spoken with residents here in the last few days, this political theater, and the show that they are watching is not something they like.


LAVANDERA: Do you feel like you are kind of helpless as that toxic politics continues to rage in D.C. over this?

ROSA AREILANO, FORMER CBP OFFICER: It's frustrating. How long are we going to be going like this?

Like, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to go ahead and figure this out.


LAVANDERA: You know, kind of capturing that frustration, the Democratic state representative from Eagle Pass wrote a letter to the speaker of the House in Washington.

And in that letter, he goes on to say that Eagle Pass, after the collapse of the border security deal in Congress, that Eagle Pass has been put on the backburner and has been left hanging out to dry on its own.

So there's a real feeling of frustration as the residents here feel like they are on the front lines of this. And many politicians are using this location and this issue for their own political gain.

And that is a theme that kind of runs across Democrats, Republicans, Independents, whoever we speak with here.

KEILAR: Yes. The view of Washington from Eagle Pass must be quite something.

Ed Lavandera, thank you so much.

Manu Raju, thank you.

This just in. The Manhattan D.A. has indicted several migrants in connection with that assault on NYPD officers outside of a shelter that was caught on camera. We will have a live report, next.



SANCHEZ: Breaking news just into CNN. The Manhattan D.A. has just announced the indictment of several migrants in connection with an attack on two New York City Police Department officers outside a Times Square shelter last month.

What you're seeing is the attack caught on camera.

CNN's Gloria Pazmino has been following the story for us.

Gloria, I understand that we just heard from the DEA and the mayor. What did they share with the community?

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Boris. Mayor Eric Adams and District Attorney Alvin Bragg making a presentation of the evidence that they have been able to gather so far as they work to identify the people behind this attack.

The big headline here is that they have indicted seven people believed to be associated with this assault outside of a migrant shelter in Times Square, which took place last week.

And the other big headline is that they are still looking to identify and apprehend two other individuals that are believed to have been involved in this.

So, in addition to presenting us with some still images from the video evidence that investigators have been looking at, the district attorney really trying to drive the point of the difficulty behind this investigation.

The fact that they haven't been able to successfully identify everyone. There is a reason why he's doing that. It is because he has got a lot of criticism because there were five people who were initially arrested after the incident took place and they were released on bail.

Listen to a bit of what the mayor had to say about the attack.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NY): The overwhelming number of migrants and asylum seekers are law abiding and they're pursing the American dream.

And this district attorneys and the NYPD are partnered with each other to pursue those who break the laws in our city.

This is a despicable act. It was not only an attack on the individuals who wore the police uniform but it was an attack on our symbol of justice.


PAZMINO: So, again, Bragg sort of defending his decision, right, that his office did not pursue bail on some of these cases. Stressing the fact that it is his job to make sure that the right people are apprehended. That's the right people are prosecuted.

And that the wrong people are not put in jail. He said that has been the primary factor behind these decisions.

But obviously they still have a lot of work to do, trying to identify some of the other people that were involved. And he is asking the public to take a look at the video and the still images in hopes of identifying them soon -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: Gloria Pazmino, live from New York, thank you so much.


KEILAR: It is caucus day in Nevada. Hours from now, Republican voters will get a second chance to choose their presidential candidate.

This time, former President Trump is on the ballot. He faces no serious opposition to win the state's 26 delegates in the caucus that is run by the Nevada Republican Party.

His GOP rival, Nikki Haley, opted for Nevada's state-run primary election. And it was really a binary choice. The state GOP said candidates could

participate in one or the other. The primary was held two days ago and the result was a resounding

defeat for Haley. The "None of these candidates" option on the ballot received more votes than she did.

Joining me now is the former chair of the Nevada Republican Party, Amy Tarkanian.

Amy, isn't Haley's camp -- Amy, there is -- I mean, very clearly it is a poor outcome for Haley.

But then you had the current chair of the Nevada Republican Party, Michael McDonald, promising to deliver 100 percent of Nevada's delegates for Trump. which is not normally what you expect of a GOP chairperson.

How are you reacting to this?

AMY TARKANIAN, FORMER CHAIRPERSON, NEVADA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Sure, you use the word "chose." They were not given the choice. They were literally threatened. They were told that they would have to pay $55,000 to participate in the caucus.


Which is an exorbitant amount of money, number one, knowing very well that a majority of the candidates wouldn't be able to participate at that level or even make it to Nevada after they pay that amount of money.

Also, two, the chairman himself is one of the fake electors that has been indicted. We've had six of them that are at the leadership level at the Nevada Republican Party.

Also, we know, last year, the same leadership was invited to an event at Mar-a-Lago to prepare for the upcoming election.

So you have the individuals who have decided to pull the caucus after our state-mandated primary. Because why? Trump has lost here not just once but twice.

So they don't care about the turnout. They just want to make sure that they can handle a win and give Mr. Trump all of the 26 delegates and say, look what we did for you, sir, here you go.

KEILAR: You hear this all accusation coming from the Trump camp, especially in the past, of rigged elections. When you think of this one, do you think of this as a rigged election?

TARKANIAN: Oh, 100 percent. How can you -- how can you honestly believe that this is going to be up and up, when you have an indicted individual that spearhead the Nevada Republican Party? They are basically willing to throw themselves on the railroad tracks for this man.

You know, we do have "none of these candidates" as an option. It is well known that the followers of Mr. Trump were heavily pushing that campaign strategy.

And so they are allowed to participate, as a voter, in both the primary and the caucus. That is exactly what they did.

And I will tell you, also, the Nevada Republicans have been disenfranchised by this because your average voter does not pay attention to the nuts and bolts. They are very confused and, quite honestly, very angry. But they have all of their options walking into the primary.

And so if they participated -- I actually had a number of people who said that I wasn't sure. And so they were so mad that they just chose "none of these candidates."

KEILAR: You still have Donald Trump doing extremely well. I mean, he is just so far ahead of the other candidates, including Nikki Haley. And that is including in her home state of South Carolina. Haley is trailing him, 26 percent the latest "Washington Post"/Monmouth University poll.

At what point should she consider stepping aside?

TARKANIAN: Sure. Well, I have to applaud her for actually standing up to a bully. And I also think, too, the fact that she didn't cave to the Nevada Republican Party tactics. I do think that was a wise choice on her part.

I'm hoping that she continues with the momentum and with some reasonable, rational Republicans who can continue donating to her campaign and see her through Super Tuesday where a third of the delegates will be allocated.

I know that there are lots of people who are looking for an option, somebody who's not Donald Trump that is surrounded by chaos and toxicity. Somebody who is not just worried about themselves while they are manipulating their base. And that's Nikki Haley.

KEILAR: Amy Tarkanian, thank you for being with us. We really appreciate your time.

TARKANIAN: Thank you.


KEILAR: Well, the Super Bowl is just three days away. Everyone from Chiefs kingdom to Niners nation is ready for the kickoff. Also, Taylor Swift fans. But nonetheless. OK, we are live from Las Vegas after a quick break.




(CROSSTALK) KEILAR: I'm very satisfied.


SANCHEZ: She's a little shy.

KEILAR: I'm a little shy.

SANCHEZ: The way you came up on camera.

KEILAR: Not a good answer.


SANCHEZ: No, you are --


KEILAR: Super Bowl.

SANCHEZ: You need to believe in yourself.

KEILAR: I do believe in myself. I believe that I am a bad dancer.


SANCHEZ: The countdown to the Super Bowl is on. Just three days until Super Bowl Sunday. The Chiefs and Niners taking the field in Las Vegas. Also one of the most anticipated entertainment events of the year.

KEILAR: Yes, this weekend, Usher is set to take center stage in the Super Bowl halftime show. But he may not be the only big-name making an appearance. I mean, heck, come on. He just isn't. He just isn't.

CNN's Coy Wire is making an appearance.


KEILAR: But not just CNN's Coy Wire who is in Vegas, covering all the action.

All right, tell us what we are expecting here.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, you just missed all of on my dance moves on the red carpet, where NFL honors will be tonight. We will learn who the MVP and other cool awards were.

But listen, Usher, he said that there will be a surprise guest in his performance. He said Katy Perry gave him advice. He said his performance is going to be 15 minutes as opposed to the normal 13- minute set.

Here is Usher on what it means to him to be this year's choice to be the Super Bowl halftime performer.


USHER, SINGER: Las Vegas has been amazing for me. Having 100 sold-out shows and a residency, and to have the next one, which is the crescendo, which is the Super Bowl, with Apple. This has really, really given my time here in Las Vegas on incredible button at the end.


WIRE: All right, it's going to be interesting to see who it's going to be. It could be some of his Atlanta friends. Maybe Usher will bring Ludicrous into the mix during halftime. We shall see.


Here's some more surprises. We just got back from this incredible event where a record number of Make-a-Wish children, children dealing with critical illnesses, were surprised they got to go to the Super Bowl this year and meet some star players.

Check this out.


MICAH PARSON, DALLAS COWBOYS LINEBACKER: A record number of kids here at the Super Bowl. And in addition to having a chance to have a shopping spree, we were able to surprise them with all of the stars that make the NFL says right.

DAVANTE ADAMS, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS RECEIVER: It means everything. You know, this game is so much bigger than us. It also gives us an opportunity to feel grounded, get that unity back.

It is good for being someone other than yourself. They show up and show their love.

WIRE: What is a man walking in and seeing you light up all their faces?

DAMAR HAMLIN, BUFFALO BILLS SAFETY: Of course, it's good to see. It means a lot. It is moments like this, the most precious, being able to get back in any type of way.


WIRE: All right, so tonight, the NFL honors right here. They will be walking this red carpet. Damar Hamlin, you just heard from, is up for comeback player of the year. Michael Parsons, who was also there that we spoke to, is up for defensive player of the year.

Who will be the MVP? The 49ers have Brock Purdy and Christian McCaffrey up. Our Andy Scholes will be right here, hopefully, doing some Usher dance moves on the red carpet, bringing us the latest.

KEILAR: I cannot wait.

Coy, thank you so much for that report from Las Vegas.

SANCHEZ: We do have some breaking news just into CNN. We want to go straight to CNN's Evan Perez who has an update on a key story that we've been tracking for quite some time.

Evan, bring us up to speed on this special counsel's report regarding President Biden's handling of classified documents.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris, so we just received this report produced by Special Counsel Robert Hur, 345 pages in all. And it details the mishandling of classified documents by the president of the United States.

And the bottom line on this report, obviously, the most important part of it is the first line where he says, "We conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter."

He goes on over 345 pages to describe the various ways in which documents were mishandled, including the fact, they say, that the president willfully retained classified documents after he left the vice presidency, that he kept documents in a home in Virginia that he was renting at the time.

That during a period thereafter, he was writing a book and he shared classified documents with a ghost writer who was helping him produce one of his memoirs. And that, during that time, classified documents were shared with that ghost writer.

The special counsel described some of the evidence that supports some of that information.

Including the fact that there were recorded interviews, audio files that the ghostwriter provided to the investigators that show the former vice president at the time, President Biden now, that he was sharing information that he knew was classified related to Afghanistan, to his opposition to a troop surge that happened late in the Obama presidency.

I will note a couple of things. This was a very, very thorough investigation. According to the special counsel, they say that they interviewed 147 witnesses, they reviewed seven million documents.

They found classified documents -- Boris and Brianna, they found classified documents not only at the Delaware home of the president, but also at the Penn Biden Center, which is a private center that the then-vice president had established after he left the vice presidency.

And also, they found classified documents in about 300 boxes that the FBI searched at the University of Delaware. These were President Biden's papers from when he served in the Senate.

One other very important point here. The special counsel goes into chapter and verse of why they are not going to charge the president. It is not only because he is the sitting president and there is a DOJ prohibition on charging a sitting president with a crime. What they talk about here is that they believe the evidence that they

have would not be able to be sustained, would not be able to sustain a conviction if this was brought before a jury.


And one of the reasons why, is they say, that despite the fact that he did bring these documents home, that then-vice president, when he was talking to his ghostwriter, simply was inadvertent in some of the documents and some of the sharing of that classified information.

They also say that it is clear that Joe Biden has a faltering memory. That he is an old guy. They point that out.