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Mark Meadows Complies With DOJ Subpoena in January 6 Probe; Biden Administration Successfully Averts Rail Strike; Republican Governors Shipping Migrants Across Country. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired September 15, 2022 - 13:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, and thanks for joining us. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

We began with human beings shipped hundreds of miles to make a political point. Florida's Republican governor proudly taking credit for sending two planes filled with migrants to Martha's Vineyard. The small Massachusetts island had no warning. Local officials, volunteers now scrambling to set up shelters for the estimated 50 people who arrived.

And this was the scene today near the vice president's home in Washington, D.C., two buses of migrants arriving there this morning sent by Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott, again, a surprise to the volunteers who raced to receive those people.

Some are families, men, women, children, most who can't speak English, left to fend for themselves, some walking miles to get help, as officials scrambled to get them food and shelter. And, in New York, the mayor says his sanctuary city is now nearing a breaking point with more than 11,000 asylum seekers dropped off there since May.

We are covering each city and all the angles here and the impacts of this escalating battle.

And we begin there on Martha's Vineyard.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is joining us.

Miguel, I know you arrived there just a short time ago. What do you know right now about the migrants there and how they're doing right now?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they're doing very, very well, given everything that they have been through.

Yesterday morning, they were -- everyone that I have spoken to -- I have spoken to about a dozen of them so far. They were all in San Antonio, Texas, yesterday morning. And then they arrived here. We know a little bit about them. There were about seven families among the 50 that were on those two planes.

There are about four children between the ages of 3 and 8 that are here as well. And those -- the planes arrived here at Martha's Vineyard with very little notice, about 20 minutes, the airport manager said, before they got on the ground.

Want to give you an idea of what's happening here. This is the Saint Andrews parish house just across the street from the church here. And this is where they have set up. The people of this island have pulled together. There are five small towns on this island. And while it's very well-known for the rich and famous who come here during the summer, there are about 20,000 people who are here all year round, and now they are organizing to get all of this together.

I want to talk to one of those organizers, Larkin Stallings.

Come on down here, if you would, sir.

You are with the Martha's Vineyard Community Services.


MARQUEZ: You guys are all helping out. We can see the T-shirts.

What are the immediate needs you guys are meeting right now?

STALLINGS: Right now, it's housing. It's food, legal support, medical support. And we have -- by the way, we have Harbor Homes represented right here who is actually running this facility as we speak.

MARQUEZ: And while I understand -- I mean, have you had the chance to sort of hear some of these stories, speak to some of these folks? All of them are claiming asylum of some sort, political or otherwise.

They all are here, but they all have cases in either Texas or one person said Cincinnati in a month or two months.

STALLINGS: We have a couple that I have spoken to that have cases coming up in New York in 15 days, Boston, a couple in Boston, and D.C. And did we have in California recently? California.

MARQUEZ: Which is -- all of this to say this is going to be a logistical heavy lift.

We're on an island. You guys are -- this is, I'm sure, tight-knit and you guys -- everybody knows each other on this island.


MARQUEZ: Five different towns, about 20,000 people. You're here year- round, correct?

STALLINGS: Yes, sir.

MARQUEZ: What sort of -- people think of this as the rich and famous on Martha's Vineyard. But what sort of -- 50 immigrants, what sort of stress does that put on Martha's Vineyard?

STALLINGS: Well, the truth is, is that, of course, the fact that it came on such short notice, there's the stress. We have some incredible NGOs here on the island, Harbor Homes for the homeless, community services, with social services, health and human services network -- safety net -- excuse me.

So that -- we have got the bodies to do this. The problem -- the biggest problem was the short notice.


STALLINGS: And that was obviously intentional.


Thank you very much. Very good luck to you. And thank you for doing that work.

Amazing to see so many people coming together to try to help meet the immediate needs of these 50 people. And then, at this point, they're not sure if more will be coming -- Ana.

CABRERA: There's definitely a spirit of service that we're hearing there, Miguel.

I have a question, though, if you can provide some clarity, because flight data shows that these migrants are originally from Texas. That was their entry point into the U.S.


So, why was the governor of Florida involved in sending them there to Massachusetts?

MARQUEZ: Well, it sounds like there's a fairly high degree of coordination here.

So these -- all these individuals that we have spoken to and everybody in these groups say that they all came from Venezuela, and they all had a month-and-a-half, two months, three-month journey to Texas, to the Texas border through Mexico.

They were all in San Antonio. Somebody came by and said, do you want an opportunity? Do you want some food? Do you want a job? We can help you out? They put them on a plane and they arrived here. That plane stopped in Florida. It stopped in North Carolina. There were two planes. They stopped along the way.

But it sounds like Governor DeSantis, because Florida has money -- they freed up several million dollars to do this sort of operation -- that Florida paid for those planes to come up to Martha's Vineyard. And then, obviously, the buses at the vice president's residence in D.C. were sent in by Texas.

So, clearly, there is some organization here. One interesting thing as well, when those planes arrived here in Martha's Vineyard, there were vans waiting for them. It sounds like the charter company may have done that. But, otherwise, they'd had about 20 minutes notice that planes were even coming. And not until they got off the plane did they realize these were migrants from other parts of the world -- back to you.

CABRERA: OK, Miguel, thank you. We know you're going to continue to talk to people and do your work that you're doing on the ground.

To Washington, D.C., now, where the latest round of buses from Texas Governor Greg Abbott showed up outside Vice President Harris' home this morning

Gabe Cohen is joining us.

Did these migrants know they weren't going to D.C., Gabe?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, at least some of them knew they were coming to Washington, but not to the home of the vice president here at the U.S. Naval Observatory.

There were actually volunteers and nonprofits that were set up ready to receive them down at Union Station. That's about four miles down the road, where most of these buses have been dropping off. And so there was this confusion and scramble this morning, when, suddenly, there were about 100 people, some of them families with children, stranded on the sidewalk behind me, in some cases, holding garbage bags of their belongings, not knowing where to go or what to do.

A volunteer told us some of those people started to figure out that they were part of this political stunts, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas tweeting out that these migrants were intentionally sent to the vice president's backyard as this message about President Biden securing our border.

And we also spoke with one of those migrants who had made a long journey with his wife all the way from Venezuela, who talked about that road and winding up here in D.C.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We didn't know where we were going to get to. Only the bus left us here and now. They didn't tell us where we were. But they left us here. And that's it, long, a 40-day journey. I have been from Venezuela to here.

But this crossing is a little -- not a little -- it's very difficult to bring the child here. It's eight days of jungle, through the Darien jungle, something extremely difficult.


COHEN: And, Ana, at this point, those roughly 100 people have been moved to a nearby church. They're getting services and resources right now as they figure out where they need to head next -- Ana.

CABRERA: Yes. And we know it's costing the taxpayers in Texas, for example, millions of dollars for them to bus and direct these migrants to these other states and cities. Thank you, Gabe, for your reporting.

I want to head to Texas now and the Southern border, ground zero of this crisis.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in Houston for us.

And, Rosa, let's be clear. My understanding is most of these migrants being bused to sanctuary cities are people who legally surrendered at the border and claimed asylum, right? Can you help us better understand where these people are in terms of their immigration process?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ana, a lot of these individuals -- and, of course, all of this is on a case-by-case basis, but a lot of these individuals are allowed into the country pending their immigration proceedings.

Now, we have video of this. So let me take you through it. This is video from Eagle Pass. Here's what happens. We have seen it many, many times along the U.S.-Mexico border. Migrants cross the Rio Grande. They turn themselves into Border Patrol agents. From there, they are taken to Border Patrol stations or processing facilities.

Now, Title 42, which allows immigration agents to swiftly return migrants to Mexico, is still in effect. That is still happening. Migrants are still being returned. I have talked to them in Mexico. Now, there are many who are allowed into the United States. And once they're processed by Border Patrol, they're taken by Border Patrol to respite centers all along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Now, I have been to many of these border towns, talked to many of these migrants at these respite centers. Now, to be clear, this has happened for years. This is not new. It has happened for many, many years.


Myself, reporters and many other reporters have met many of these migrants over the years at these respite centers. And that's where we get to talk to them.

I was just there a few days ago, and I was able to see the documents that a lot of these migrants were given by Customs and Border Protection. They had documents that were stamped "Paroled into the United States," allowed to come into the United States.

Now, that -- in these respite centers, that's where Abbott's buses are. These Abbott are waiting -- these Abbott -- Abbott's buses are waiting for migrants there, and migrants who want to go to the Northeast, to New York, to D.C., to Chicago, are then allowed to get on these buses, and go on their way.

Now, Ana, here's the key. So many migrants that I have talked to are so excited, elated, that these buses are available, because they're free. These migrants do not have money. A lot of them are fleeing persecution. A lot of them are here for economic reasons. But a lot of them do not have money to get out of the border area and into their destinations to their families across the country.

And so what these buses are doing, courtesy of the taxpayer, is getting them closer to that destination -- Ana.

CABRERA: And, Rosa, numbers are surging at the border. And while I don't think anyone would argue it's Texas' responsibility alone to house or provide care for every migrant, the state only started sending buses to Democrat-led cities earlier this year.

So I wonder, what did Texas do previously?

FLORES: You know, Texas for years has focused on the enforcement, on the law enforcement on the border. And in the way that Texas DPS has always put it and the governors, including Abbott, has put it in the past is, they focus on filling in the gaps of security where Border Patrol can't because of surges at different points in time that we have all covered.

Now, what is changed now, Ana -- and this is the interesting and fascinating part of this. What has changed is the cost, who's paying for this, the transportation, because back to the story that I was sharing with you just moments ago, where migrants are taken by Border Patrol to respite centers, and from there they go to places across the country, in the past, before April, before Governor Abbott started offering these free buses to migrants, what would happen is, these migrants would pay for the bus tickets themselves.

Their family members across the country would send them money to the border and pay for these bus tickets or plane tickets. So it was coming from the pockets of the migrants or from their family members. What's different now is that the taxpayer is now paying for it. It's being politicized. That's what's different.

That's what we're seeing here across the border. And, if I may add, if I can just have a little more time here, Ana, because the word is spreading about this in Mexico. I talked to a sheriff on the border who told me that the cartels are using this as a way to encourage migrants to cross the border.

I just talked to an organization, a nonprofit, a respite center. The -- the director of that respite center said that migrants are arriving to the U.S. asking about Abbott's buses. Now, a few weeks ago, I interviewed DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and I asked him about this.

I said, Secretary, what I'm hearing from people on the ground, from a sheriff is that the cartels are using this information to encourage migrants to cross the border. Is that the intelligence that you're hearing? And what Secretary Mayorkas said is that that's not the intelligence that he has, to be clear, but he said it wouldn't surprise him, Ana, if that were the case, because that's what human smuggling organizations do.

That's what criminal organizations do. They lie and they take advantage of migrants.


FLORES: And, in this case, migrants weren't wanting to come to the border for a better life.

CABRERA: Right. And now they're the victims on both sides of the border, it sounds like. And it sounds like the actions being taken by the Texas governor are backfiring, that that is potentially surging more immigrants to come, or migrants to cross the border there.

Rosa Flores, Miguel Marquez, Gabe Cohen, thank you for covering these different pieces of a much larger, complicated story.

Here in New York, the mayor says the system is nearing its breaking point. Since May, city officials estimate nearly 12,000 asylum seekers have arrived here, more than 8,500 living in city shelters right now. And Mayor Eric Adams is vowing to keep the city open.


ERIC ADAMS (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: It doesn't matter if you came here on a Mayflower or on a bus at the Port Authority. You deserve the dignity and respect that this city continues to show.

We are going to have open doors to them, not close the doors in their faces, like we're seeing on -- in other parts of this country.



Here to talk more about all this is Murad Awawdeh. He is the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. Thanks so much for joining us.

Mayor Adams says New York's crisis is nearing a breaking point. Is that how you would describe it?

MURAD AWAWDEH, NEW YORK IMMIGRATION COALITION: Well, first, thank you, Ana, for having me. And thank you for covering this so intentionally.

We, as a city of New York and the state of New York, have responded in situations like this by saying, we are and will always be a welcoming city. New York has welcomed refugees for centuries from Europe, the Caribbean, the former Soviet Union, Asia and Africa.

Immigrants have been integral to New York's growth and success, in building our bridges, to keeping us fed during the pandemic and revitalizing our Upstate cities. What we're seeing right now is simply despicable and cruel on behalf of Governor -- Texas Governor Abbott, and just recently, last night, what Florida Governor DeSantis is doing, which is simply playing politics with people's lives.

Asylum seekers are escaping violence, persecution, and government collapses. And folks are using individuals, people who are seeking refuge in this country in such a horrific way. New York City has responded to support the influx of folks who are coming here with trying to provide people with a welcome dignity.

Shout-out to all the volunteers and the organizations on the ground, Team TLC New York City, who's been holding it down, as well as Lila Mahiya (ph), Adamaba (ph) and Power Mull (ph), groups like the New York Immigration Coalition.

But, yes, our shelter system has been in need of reassessment for the past 20 years, not just because asylum seekers have come here.


AWAWDEH: But we have had a housing crisis for over 20 years.

CABRERA: Right, exactly.

AWAWDEH: So, it's not an issue that has really been impacted by asylum seekers. Yes, they're going into a system that isn't the best, but it's somewhere where folks are being able to get a bed to put their head on.

CABRERA: I mean, we just heard from Rosa.

On one hand, yes, I have heard a lot of the reaction that you are sharing in terms of the outrage. And you called it cruelty. Others have said they're treating human beings like cargo. On the other hand, Rosa is saying, in terms of her own conversations with some of these migrants, many of them are grateful to get on these buses to get to other parts of the U.S.

In terms of your own conversations with the migrants who are arriving here in New York, what are you hearing from them about their journeys and their ultimate goals and where they're trying to get and what they're trying to accomplish?

AWAWDEH: You know, it's not that we're condemning Governor Abbott and others who are sending buses or planes to other areas in the U.S. simply because they're helping transport people. That's not the case here.

They're using asylum seekers as political pawns in their game. They're not doing it humanely. People are being transported with little or no food, little or no water and without medical treatment, and that is what the condemnation is geared towards them.

We're seeing people continue to show up, many people not understanding that they're being sent to New York. About 30 percent of people now, -- earlier on, it was much more -- intended not to come to New York City. And we're seeing folks continue to get off.

Of course, you're going to be relieved when you're welcomed with -- in a dignified and respectful way, where you have had to do this treacherous journey of almost 3,000 miles on foot, to then be treated in such a horrible way in Texas. It is a sense of relief. But it's also, for people who didn't want to come here, another set of angst and anxiety..

CABRERA: I'm sure.

AWAWDEH: ... and trying to figure out how you get to your next place.

CABRERA: And, of course, New York is not a cheap city. It's not an easy city to navigate, obviously. So there are new challenges ahead for those folks.

Murad Awawdeh, I wish we had even more time. I really appreciate what you're doing, your service, and working with these migrants. And thanks for joining us this afternoon.

Economic crisis seemingly averted. Rail companies have struck a tentative deal with their union workers, steering the nation clear of a strike that could have crippled the fragile supply chain. The Biden administration helped broker. After 20 straight hours of negotiations, they got to this endpoint.

And CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is in Cleveland with the latest for us.

Vanessa, President Biden spoke on this a short time ago. What's he saying?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS REPORTER: Well, President Biden took a bit of a victory lap in the Rose Garden this morning.

The administration was very integral in getting the unions and the rail lines to reach a deal before this Friday deadline, which would have sent almost 60,000 rail workers on strike.


President Biden essentially tasked Labor Secretary Marty Walsh with making sure the two sides reached a deal. Walsh was with negotiators during this 20-hour marathon negotiation. We know from our colleague's reporting, Jeremy, Diamond, who says that President Biden placed a call into negotiators at around 9:00 p.m. last night, urging them and impressing upon them how critical it was for them to reach a deal in order to not inflict economic pain.

President Biden earlier in the Rose Garden praised all sides, saying it was a win for all sides, including Americans, and reminded Americans that these rail workers are front-line workers.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: During these early, dark, uncertain days of the pandemic, they showed up, so every American could keep going.

They worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure that families and communities got the deliveries they needed during these difficult few years. They earned and deserve these benefits. And this is a great deal for both sides, in my view.


YURKEVICH: And now it is up to the union leaders to take this tentative agreement back to members and sell it to them.

One official telling me that these union leaders would not have agreed to an agreement if it was a bad deal. They feel that it's a home run deal, as they told us just moments ago. But, ultimately, it'll be the union members that in a couple of weeks will vote yes or no on this tentative agreement -- Ana.

CABRERA: I can hear that collective sigh of relief out there.

Thank you, Vanessa Yurkevich.


CABRERA: A key player now cooperating.

According to a new CNN exclusive report, Donald Trump's right-hand man in the White House, Mark Meadows, has complied with a subpoena from the Justice Department. What that could mean for the January 6 investigation.

Plus, bad news if you're trying to buy a home right now, mortgage rates climbing above 6 percent for the first time since 2008. Wait until you hear just how much more painful that makes a 30-year loan.



CABRERA: To a CNN exclusive report now.

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has complied with a subpoena from the Justice Department in its January 6 investigation. A source tells CNN Meadows turned over the same materials he provided the House select committee investigating the insurrection, which included thousands of texts and e-mails.

And if you watched the committee hearings, you know Meadows was very much a part of the testimony we heard.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I said: "How long is -- how long is he going to carry on with this stolen election stuff? Where is this going to go?"

And by that time, Meadows had caught up with me. He said: "Look, I think that he's becoming more realistic and knows that there's a limit to how far he can take this."

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO MARK MEADOWS: I remember leaning against the doorway and saying: "I just had an interesting conversation with Rudy, Mark. It sounds like we're going to go to the Capitol."

He didn't look up from his phone and said something to the effect of: "There's a lot going on, Cass, but I don't know. Things might get real, real bad on January 6."

I remember Pat saying something to the effect of: "Mark, we need to do something more. They're literally calling for the vice president to be effing hung."

And Mark had responded something to the effect: "You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it."


CABRERA: CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig is here with us now.

And, Elie, Meadows is now the highest-ranking Trump official who has responded to a subpoena by the DOJ. What could this mean for their investigation and for Trump?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Ana, Mark Meadows is really a pivotal figure in this whole investigation.

Let's remember he was Donald Trump's White House chief of staff. He was with Donald Trump, by Donald Trump's side in the weeks and months leading up to and on January 6. He was the insider's insider.

Now, let's remember, about a year ago now, the House January 6 committee subpoenaed Mark Meadows, and he complied, sort of.


HONIG: Memorably, he turned over thousands of text records showing key players, Republican elected officials, media figures, top Trump advisers, all going through Mark Meadows talking about January 6 and the plan to try to steal the election.

One example, Jim Jordan, representative, at one point texted Mark Meadows: "Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all."

Meadows responded: "I have pushed for this. Not sure it is going to happen."

Now, Meadows complied until he suddenly stopped and basically told the committee: I'm done.

The committee referred him for contempt over to the Justice Department, which decided not to prosecute Mark Meadows criminally. Now, the subpoena we're talking about now, that is a criminal grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice. You cannot defy that. If you do, you will get locked up.

So we will see if DOJ wants to get more than the information he's already given to Congress and really get all those texts and testimony from Mark Meadows.

CABRERA: But given his role inside as a White House official during the Trump administration, what about executive privilege?

HONIG: Yes, so executive privilege is meant to apply to communications between the president and his top advisers. The chief of staff certainly might be included in that.

However, it's not automatic. The courts are going to ask, was this a legitimate policy discussion? Was it something that needs to be confidential or, on the other hand, well, was this conversation relating to wrongdoing or criminality?

If it's the latter, it's not going to be protected by executive privilege. DOJ may be teeing up that exact fight with Mark Meadows over these