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Texas Sends More Migrants On Buses To Liberal Cities, Including New York City; Florida Prosecutor Vows To Fight Suspension By Governor Desantis; Singer And Actress Olivia Newton-John Dead At Age 73; Gas Prices Drop To$4.06 A Gallon On Average. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 08, 2022 - 15:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: New York City Mayor Eric Adams is calling out Texas Governor Greg Abbott for sending migrants on buses to his city. 14 more migrants seeking asylum arrived Sunday. And Adams says some of the migrants are being forced on to the buses.

But Abbott claims they're going willingly. The bussing of migrants to Democrat led cities and states is part of Abbott's strategy to highlight President Biden's border policies. Now CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is with us now. So, 14 this weekend, but there have been many more and to other cities as well. What do you know?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: That's right, Victor. This is an extension of what Abbott has already has already started doing earlier this year by sending migrants apprehended at the Texas/Mexico border to Washington, D.C.

Now this is an affront to the Biden administration. Abbott is a fierce critic of Biden's immigration policies and has done this to make a point to the administration by sending migrants to other cities.

Now also including New York City. Now, we know that about over 50 migrants have arrived to New York City since this began just a few days ago, and it has not set well with Mayor Eric Adams who has criticized Abbott and decried the lack of coordination from Texas. Take a listen.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY: It's unimaginable that what the governor of Texas has done. When you think about this country, a country that has always been open to those who were fleeing persecution and other intolerable conditions. We've always welcomed that, and this governor is not doing that in Texas. But we are going to set the right message, the right tone of being here for these families.


ALVAREZ: Now, Victor, we should note that migrants are processed by federal authorities and released into the United States while they go through their immigration proceedings. And they often go to multiple cities across the United States.

What's happening here is the Texas governor is basically offering a ride to migrants to go to Washington, D.C. or New York City. And we should also note that from that point, migrants may stay in New York City or continue on to their final destination.

That is something that has happened here in Washington, D.C. And some of the migrants I have spoken to say they continue on to other cities.

Now still, city officials say this a strain on their resources and are seeking help from the federal government.

In a statement, a White House spokesperson told me that they have been in regular contact with Mayor Adams and his team and are committed to working with them as we do effectively with other leaders through FEMA funding and other support.

As we have always said there is a process in place for managing migration flows and Republican governors should stop meddling in that process and using desperate migrants as political tools.

Even so though, Victor, the Texas governor has shown no signs of stopping and sending migrants to the cities of Washington, D.C. and New York.

BLACKWELL: Priscilla Alvarez for us now, thank you.

All right, Florida prosecutor, he is promising to fight his suspension from office By Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County District Attorney Andrew Warren after he vowed now to enforce the state's 15-week abortion ban.

With me now is Andrew Warren, details where a county prosecutor suspended. I thank you for your time here. The governor says that he suspended you because you're neglecting your duty and basic incompetence. Why do you think he suspended you?

ANDREW WARREN, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY STATE ATTORNEY SUSPENDED BY FLORIDA GOVERNOR DESANTIS: Well, the fact that we're even having to have this conversation shows how dangerous this is. I'm an elected official who was speaking out on issues that are related to my job, and now I'm supposed to be in fear of the governor punishing me for it.

I mean, what groups have to do exactly what king DeSantis wants, teachers, you know, businesses, elected officials, who's next. The supposedly free state of America sure doesn't seem free right now.

BLACKWELL: You signed this letter with states attorneys, district attorneys across the country -- I've got a copy of this here -- saying that you will not commit to exercise a well-settled discretion and refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide or support abortions, and then came the suspension.


Is there a case, a specific instance that you are ignoring or declining to prosecute in front of your office right now?

WARREN: No, there's not, Victor. I mean, this is not about what I've done as state attorney. This is about what I said. And I voiced my opposition to two pieces of legislation.

One of which on abortion was held to be unconstitutional in Florida, and the other regarding gender affirming health care hasn't even been passed yet. It's not even a law on the books.

So, there's not been a single case that's come to me. This is about me speaking out and saying that I don't believe we should be passing these laws that violate people's constitutional rights.

BLACKWELL: But more than saying you don't believe that the law should be passed is that you will not prosecute those, right?

WARREN: Well, it's not the statement said. The statements talked about that criminalizing private medical decisions made between women and their doctors is not good public policy, assured public safety. That's what it talked about. Again, these were value statements showing my opposition to legislation that was being considered.

BLACKWELL: Let me just for clarity say that I've got a copy of the letter right here and I want to just read the line -- this is the letter in which you signed.

We declined to use our office's resources to criminalize reproductive health decisions and commit to exercise our well-settled discretion and refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide for support abortion.

I'm not making a moral call on whether you should or shouldn't prosecute. But more than just a value statement. This is a declination statement of prosecuting those cases. So, why sign this letter? Go ahead.

WARREN: Victor, just on that point though. So, the letter talks about there are exceptions to that for one in the footnote. But also keep in mind that the 15 week ban that Florida pasted has been ruled unconstitutional. So, this is about my willingness to enforce a law that was unconstitutional.

When I became state attorney, I put my hand on the Bible. I swore to uphold both the Florida and the United States Constitutions and that's exactly what I'm doing. At a time when other people in Florida are hoping that the Supreme Court just changes the law. I'm the one who's actually upholding the rule of law here in Hillsborough County.

BLACKWELL: What's your recourse here?

WARREN: Well, were not going to just lie back and let the governor illegally throw me out of office. We're going to fight back and fight back hard with a thorough defense of democracy that eviscerates this Venezuelan edict that he just issued.

BLACKWELL: So, we know that DeSantis suspended Broward County's Sheriff Scott Israel after the Parkland massacre. That was upheld by the state Senate. Which is according to the rules of the state where this goes to committee and then to the full state Senate. What do you think your chances are there considering the makeup, the political makeup of the Senate in Florida?

WARREN: Well, I'm not going to speculate about what the Senators are going to do. I'm confident that people are going to look at this and see the blatant overreach that it is. I mean this is just a gross abuse of power for the governor to throw out the results of a fair and free election to say he disagrees with my position on an issue.

And so, he's going to put someone else in the position. He's essentially stealing the election from the borders of Hillsborough County. He's violating the sacred trust that we have been a democracy that people's vote matters.

BLACKWELL: Any conversations with the governor's office since he signed that executive order?

WARREN: No, actually no conversation beforehand, right. They didn't come to me and say, hey, let's talk about this, I disagree with you. It was just a complete blindside. We were totally caught off guard by the fact that they had been plotting to throw me out of office.

I was forced out of my office by an armed deputy with no warning, with no chance to look at the order. With no chance to even gather my things including my house key. I mean, this was just a full frontal attack on democracy and the rule of law.

BLACKWELL: All right, Andrew Warren, we of course will continue to follow this case, the suspension from the governor and thank you for your time.

WARREN: Thanks so much. I appreciate when people stand with me at

BLACKWELL: All right, thank you Andrew.

After a long painful summer at the pump, $4 per gallon gas is now so close you can feel it. We'll tell you where the cost is falling the fastest. Can you feel it?



BLACKWELL: Sad news now especially for fans of "Grease." Olivia Newton-John has died. The star of the 1978 mega hit musical died at her ranch in Southern California, according to a statement her family posted on her Instagram page. She was 73 years old. CNN's Ana Cabrera has more on Olivia Newton-John's remarkable life.


ANNA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Olivia Newton-John shot to stardom opposite John Travolta in the musical blockbuster "Grease". [15:45:00]

It was 1978, she was 29 years old but played an innocent teen in love with a boy from the other side of the tracks

OLIVER NEWTON-JOHN, SINGER, ACTRESS: Hopelessly devoted to you ...

CABRERA (voice over): Newton-John first won over devoted fans as an award-winning singer in the early '70s.

NEWTON-JOHN: Let me be there in the morning, let me be there in your life ...

CABRERA (voice over): "Let Me Be There" earned her a Grammy award for best country female vocal performance and her 1974 chart topping hit "I Honestly Love You" won the Grammy for record of the year.

NEWTON-JOHN: I honestly love you, I honestly love you ...

CABRERA (voice over): Over the course of her career Newton-John sold more than 100 million albums, scored multiple number one hits, including "Magic" from her box office dud "Xanadu," and one that showcased her sexier side.

NEWTON-JOHN: Come and get physical, physical ...

CABRERA (voice over): Born in England, Newton-John moved to Australia at the age of 5. By the time she was a teenager, she was already performing on Australian TV shows like "Band Stand".

NEWTON-JOHN: Last night I spent the whole night crying ...

CABRERA (voice over): In addition to her singing, Newton-John was well known as a tireless advocate for breast cancer research and early detection. She was diagnosed with the disease in 1992, and her successful treatment inspired her to help others.

NEWTON-JOHN: I'm really thrilled that now I can give back in some way and try and help other women who are going through that experience because it's a very difficult thing to go through alone.

CABRERA (voice over): The Australian singer faced another crisis in 2005 when her boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, went missing during a fishing trip off the California coast. He was never found.

NEWTON-JOHN: The pain will always be there. I'll always miss him. I love him, I miss him. But you know, I can't do anything about it. We don't know what happened and I don't know if I'll ever know what happened, but I've tried to go forward and do something positive with it by creating music for myself and hopefully for others.

CABRERA (voice over): And she never stopped creating music, performing into her 60s during a three year residency at Las Vegas's Flamingo Casino.

NEWTON-JOHN: I still believe in your magic ... CABRERA (voice over): Newton-John's breast cancer returned in 2013. In 2017, she was diagnosed with spine cancer. Despite life's challenges, she always remained grateful.

NEWTON-JOHN: I don't think I would change anything because I've had such an amazingly interesting life and done so many things and never planned on any of them, really, except singing because it's what I could do.


BLACKWELL: All right, CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas is with me now. Chloe, I know this is just coming in, but is it clear the cause of her death?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: No, Victor, it's not. But you know, we do know in 2017 when she sat down with Hoda on the "Today" show, her cancer had turned. And in that interview, she talked about I have my days, I have my pains, but she always remained upbeat. Like we heard in Ana Cabrera's great report there. You know, she did deal with this cancer for decades.

You know, I even spoke to her because she started a breast cancer foundation and we talked in 2017 and it was one of my favorite interviews. And I'd love to share a little bit about --

BLACKWELL: Yes, go ahead.

MELAS: -- what she told me. You know, I just pulled it up and we talked about "Grease", we talked about just her playing Sandy. The role that I first learned of Olivia Newton-John when I was a little girl.

And she told me this, she said, I don't think anyone could have imagined a movie would go on almost 40 years and would still be popular and people would still be talking to me about it all the time. I'm loving it. It's just one of those movies, I'm very lucky to have been a part of it.

She also told me when I interviewed Olivia Newton-John, that she still had those iconic high-waisted leather pants that she wore in "Grease," right. When they sing "You're the One That I Love."

And I was just looking on Instagram to see if John Travolta has said anything. He hasn't yet. But I've reached out to his representatives for comment.

But she was always so upbeat, always thinking about other people, how to help other people. And you know, I had actually seen her perform in concert and she always would not only sing her own hits, like "Let's Get Physical" but she would sing hits from "Grease" and she said, of course, I'm going to sing those songs. I'm not going to shy away from it. That's what people want.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Speaking of clips in "Grease", let's watch one more here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON-JOHN: I'm just a fool who's willing to sit around and wait for you. Baby, can't you see there's nothing else for me ...



MELAS: When I spoke to her about her concerts, she said I do four songs from the movie and the rest of the show is my other life. I've had many lives in music. I've had country when I first started, then I crossed over into pop. I had "Xanadu" and "Grease."

Many songs in between, I feel very grateful I have such a large repertoire to choose from. But she was just humble and grateful and a really wonderful mother. Her daughter's name also Chloe. My mother actually named me Chloe because Olivia Newton-John named her daughter Chloe.

BLACKWELL: Really, oh, I didn't know that.

MELAS: So, yes.

BLACKWELL: That's interesting because we're watching these clips of "Grease" and more than just a mega hit in the late '70s, it is still socially and culturally relevant today. Every Halloween, there will be the two main characters from "Grease" 45 years later.

MELAS: And I've done it myself.

BLACKWELL: You've been Sandy?

MELAS: I've been Sandy. I will pull up that picture for you. But I will also tell you though, that she wasn't just a singer. She was an incredible actress, and like I just said, she did country, she did pop, she crossed over mainstream. You know, mainstream American pop, too.

I mean, just incredible, you know, the soundtrack from "Grease" stayed at the top of the charts for multiple weeks, and she had broken so many records throughout her career and broken the door down for women in the music industry in a way that we hadn't seen before.

BLACKWELL: And to hold on to have a career in pop music for so many decades is remarkable. Ana mentioned her residency at the Flamingo, but to go from the '60s, '70s, '80s, even those clips we just watched of her performing as a teenager in Australia, she has just been kind of a steady in American pop culture.

MELAS: And you know what, Victor, she still managed to put a smile on her face, get out there and do what she loved, to just perform, with the backdrop of this cloud, of this cancer that, you know, would come and go in her life over the decades.

BLACKWELL: For 30 years. MELAS: For 30 years, and she started her Olivia Newton-John Breast

Cancer Foundation which is what brought me to interview her in 2017. But she really relied on the support of her family, her loving husband, and those are the people that brought the joy in her life and got her through those dark days.

BLACKWELL: Yes, all right, Chloe Melas, thank you very much. Olivia Newton-John was 73 years old. We'll take a break. We'll be back.



BLACKWELL: Gas prices are continuing to come down. The national average now for a gallon of regular is at $4.06 today. This is another big week for the U.S. economy. A slew of earnings are due, and we'll get an idea of how consumers are managing the record high inflation.

CNN's Matt Egan joins me now. I said earlier that $4 a gallon is so close you can feel it. I don't even know what that means really.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: I don't know. I think you said they were so close you could taste it.

BLACKWELL: OK, that's even worse. Are we getting there?

EGAN: We are getting there. Some $4 gas could be there any day. You know, we've actually had 55 days in a row of declining gas prices. $4.06 is not cheap, but that is down very substantially --15 cents in the past week, 66 in the past month. Some places are seeing even bigger drops.

Gas Buddy notes in the past month, Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, have all seen gas prices fall by more than 80 cents. Iowa -- I'm sorry, Ohio down by 92 cents. But this is a big deal. I think psychologically but also practically as people are dealing with high prices at the supermarket and pretty much everywhere.

It's happening for a lot of reasons. Not all of them are good. Recession fears have driven down oil prices. That's going to drive gas down. Also, turns out $5 gas, that was a breaking point. People started driving less when prices went up to record highs.

No matter the reason, though, there are signs this is going to continue. If you look at the market, some of the forecasters, Andy Lipow, a veteran oil analyst, he thinks that in the next five days you're going to see $4 gas nationally and by Labor Day, $3.90.

BLACKWELL: Oh, that's nice.

EGAN: That would be nice.

BLACKWELL: All right. New survey on inflation. What are you seeing?

EGAN: Well, yes, so economists really closely track consumer expectation of inflation. And there's this new report out from the New York Fed that shows there's been a sharp decline in inflation expectations among consumers. People still expect prices to be rising pretty significantly, but they're dialing back their expectations, and that's a big deal because this can become kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, right.

Like say if you and I we're in the market for new sneakers in the next few months and we see sneaker prices just keep going up and up. We're going to buy them today to try to get ahead of it, but that's going to increase demand, increase prices, and it can become a negative feedback loop.

We also have this big inflation report out on Wednesday, the CPI report. The good news is that the expectation from economists is it's going to show a cooling off. Consumer prices expected to be up 8.7 percent year over year. I think the bad news is that is still really high.

It would be down just a touch from that 40-year high of 9.1 percent in July. It's kind of like, I don't know, being in 100 degree heat wave and it goes down to 95 degrees. It's still hot. It's still hot, but listen, this is a big deal. Inflation is the biggest problem in the economy, and we're all searching for signs maybe, maybe the worst is behind us.

BLACKWELL: All right, Matt, we'll look forward to it. Thank you, Matt Egan.

All right, more on our breaking news. John Travolta has posted reaction to the death of Olivia Newton-John.


This is on his Instagram page.

My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the moment, I saw you and forever, your Danny, your John.

And "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.