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Florida Gov. Sends Two Planes Of Migrants To Martha's Vineyard; CNN: U.S. Rebuffs Ukraine Requests For Longer-Range Weapons For Now; Deadline Today For Judge To Respond To Justice Department Request; Meadows Complies With DOJ Subpoena In January 6 Probe; Trump Claims He Declassified Mar-a-Lago Documents, Even As His Lawyers Avoid Making That Assertion. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired September 15, 2022 - 14:00   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Victor Blackwell. Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Alisyn Camerota. We begin with the immigration battle pitting border states against the northeast states, with asylum seekers being used as pawns in the middle. Early this morning, two buses full of migrants arrived in Washington D.C. from Texas. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered that the migrants be dropped off on Vice President Harris's doorstep at her residence at the Naval Observatory. Governor Abbott and Governor Ducey of Arizona had already bussed thousands of migrants to other states in recent weeks.

Also today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis proudly claims he chartered two flights to bring 50 migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. There were seven families on those planes, including children. If this was his idea of a solution to the migrant issues, you'd think that the Governor would have alerted the Governor of Massachusetts to this, but these plane loads of migrants reportedly arrived without any warning to local officials who scrambled to set them up in a local church. Here's how DeSantis sees it.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We're not a sanctuary state. And it's better to be able to go to a sanctuary jurisdiction. And yes, we will help facilitate that transport for you to be able to go to greener pastures. Every community in America should be sharing in the burdens and shouldn't all fall on a handful of Red States.


BLACKWELL: A Massachusetts lawmaker says DeSantis is using these asylum seekers as political pawns. It's unclear if the group even knew where they were heading. CNN's Miguel Marquez joins us now live from Martha's Vineyard. So, what more are you learning about how this played out? MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think people here

would have loved a little heads up. There is great interest and desire to help people in this situation. But the fact that these two planes arrived at the airport here in Martha's Vineyard with about 20 minutes notice. They didn't even know who was getting off of it. That is the problem that we're seeing. But people here have rallied. I'm going to show you.

So, what's happening here at the St. Andrew's parish house, just across the street from the church, all 50 of the immigrants are here right now. They're all being cared for in this one place. They've -- they're taking everything from help with donations of financial, clothing, food. They're even doing -- signing up people who are speaking -- who speaks Spanish, lawyers, because all of these people, keep in mind, are here on some sort of political asylum or some sort of asylum claim. And they have hearings in the months to come. One state legislator we spoke to here, who has been here last night and much of today, says that if this were just coordinated a little bit, that would have gone a long way.


REP. DYLAN FERNANDES (D-MA): Ron DeSantis and Republicans might want to play political games with people's lives. I believe that's incredibly inhumane to be using women and children and families as a political pawn. You're going to talk about on Tucker Carlson and pretend to be tough on immigration. What is real tough? What is really bold is the people coming here together today on island to support these families, we're going to continue to do it.


MARQUEZ: So, there is great frustration that the -- that these people were just sort of unceremoniously sent up here without any forewarning whatsoever. Four children between the ages of 3 and 8, seven different families among the people were up here, all of them that we've spoken to and all the organizers saying everybody was from Venezuela. They did a month, month and a half, two-month trip of most of them walking from Venezuela, most of the way up through Mexico and into Texas. They were in San Antonio yesterday morning.

And then, Governor DeSantis apparently coordinated with Texas to pay for planes for them to come here, two planes. They stopped along the way. One of those stops was in Florida. And then, obviously, you had the buses at the Vice President's residence. Again, it all sounds to people here like there is a coordinated effort to do this. But to what end? Their base -- their concern is they're using these people as pawns in a bigger game rather than discussing immigration reform and what needs to be done. Back to you.


BLACKWELL: Yes, these people weren't even in Florida. DeSantis sent a plane to pick them up to take them eventually after a few stops onto Martha's Vineyard. Miguel Marquez, thank you. CAMEROTA: Now to Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin praised China's balanced position on the war in Ukraine and an in-person meeting with President Xi Jinping today. On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces continue to make significant advances despite Russia's ongoing assault on civilian infrastructure. An attack at a local reservoir in the central City of Kryvyi Rih caused major flooding and evacuations.

BLACKWELL: Now, regardless of the recent gains, Ukraine again asked the U.S. for a longer-range missile systems and tanks. And sources tell CNN the Biden administration has denied these requests, at least for now. CNN's Katie Bo Lillis joins us. So, what more do you know about the response to the request?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Yes. So, for the last couple of days, some of our colleagues and I have been kind of surveying Biden administration officials, as well as military officials to try to get a sense for whether the success that Ukraine has been having on the battlefield in the past days and weeks, would translate into conversations inside the administration about potentially upping the ante on the kind of military and intelligence support that they're providing to Ukraine, potentially sending some of the items on Ukraine's wishlist that so far the administration has been reluctant to provide because they see some of those systems as too escalatory, in particular, because many of these systems have a range that might allow Ukraine to potentially strike Russia from within its own borders.

And the short answer to that question right now, Victor and Alisyn, is no. The Biden administration, at this point, views the success that Ukraine has seen in its counter-offensive so far as a vindication of this kind of carefully calibrated, iterative, and some would argue incremental strategy towards providing military aid and military assistance to Ukraine. Now, this isn't necessarily going to be a popular answer. There's certainly some bipartisan frustration on Capitol Hill, that the administration isn't doing enough and isn't doing it fast enough.

Now, administration officials, of course, would say that they are in daily contact with their Ukrainian counterparts, to make sure that they are getting the support that they need, when they need it without dipping into U.S. stores too heavily or damaging U.S. national security. I think the other thing that we're hearing from U.S. officials at this point is it's still early days in this -- in this counter offensive. Let's see whether or not Ukraine is able to sustain its gains. Victor, Allison?

CAMEROTA: Katie Bo Lillis, thank you very much for the reporting. Joining us now to talk about both the migrant issues and Ukraine is Congressman Seth Moulton. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for being here. I know that this morning, you received a classified briefing on Ukraine, which of course, you cannot share with us. However, can you tell us if you think that these Ukraine gains that we've seen over the past few weeks, do represent an inflection point in the war, and do you support the U.S. sending those long-range missile systems and tanks that Katie was just talking about? REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Well, first of all, yes, the Ukrainians have had tremendous success. But this doesn't mean the war is going to be over anytime soon. So, anyone who thinks that this success is going to translate into victory by the end of the year, I think it's more likely they're still fighting this year -- this war a decade from now. In terms of the long-range weapons, look, I've been a consistent advocate for doing whatever we can to help the Ukrainians. And the administration has done a fantastic job as represented by the success we see here on the ground. One of our consistent criticisms from the committee has they have been not moving quickly enough.

But they're evaluating these requests carefully. And they're looking at what will have the biggest impact for the Ukrainians? What will not impact our own readiness across the globe, because not all of these weapons are in great supply. And then third, they're looking at what the Ukrainians are prepared to use, they have to have training on these advanced weapons systems to make use of them. Some of that training went on during the last few months to prepare them for this counter offensive. But if they don't have that training for these new weapons systems, then it doesn't make sense to send them right away.

CAMEROTA: OK, Congressman, let's talk about what's happening in Massachusetts today with the migrants. As you know, two plane loads of migrants from Texas were put on a chartered flight. It sounds like under false pretenses, frankly, by for some reason, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. Not sure why he's inserting himself into Texas, but nevertheless, and sent to Massachusetts to Martha's Vineyard, where they've just arrived this morning, and locals who got no heads up, are now scrambling to find help for them. Do you understand what Governor DeSantis is doing?

MOULTON: Yes, I do. He's playing politics with people's lives. He's playing politics with people's lives like Governor George Wallace did during segregation. And if he wants Governor George Wallace's legacy to be the future of the Republican Party, then that's exactly what Ron DeSantis is showing all of America today.


Now, that didn't stop Ron DeSantis from coming to the same Massachusetts islands a month ago. He was on Nantucket a month ago to fundraise for his own political campaigns. What's going on here is pure politics, and it's disgraceful.

CAMEROTA: Well, let's just look at it for a second beyond pure politics. I mean, let's look at it for a solution. Because I mean if we just look at Texas's point of view for a moment, basically what they're saying is that they're overwhelmed. So, they have -- according to U.S. Border Patrol, they have about 1.9 million encounters a year, this past year, just to date, with migrants. Somewhere roughly about 200,000 a month, the majority of those are in Texas. And that's compared to Massachusetts, which has, according to the Governor's Web site, they've welcomed 1,000 migrants per year. So, is it fair for some of the border states like Texas to say that other states needed to help pick up the slack and need to help shoulder this burden? MOULTON: First of all, I can tell you that my district alone in Massachusetts has done an enormous amount to welcome Afghan refugees just in the last few months. So, we are absolutely stepping up to the plate, just as you see the people of Martha's Vineyard doing today. But let's put this in perspective, Alisyn. Ron DeSantis is a Republican, Governor Abbott in Texas is a Republican. The hard thing about immigration is getting Democrats and Republicans to come together. Yet, when Republicans controlled the White House, the Senate and the Congress under Donald Trump, they did absolutely nothing on immigration. So, if they're complaining that we don't have an immigration solution, it's their own fault.

CAMEROTA: Yes, those are fair points, Congressman, but let's just talk about a solution. I mean, I understand that your district welcomes Afghan refugees, but they don't have 200,000 coming per month. And so, what is the answer? I mean, how can Texas be expected to process all of that?

MOULTON: The answer is that we need to have responsible immigration reform at the Federal level, something that Democrats have been pushing for in Congress for years to make it clear to all the world that America welcomes immigrants, but we welcome immigrants who come through an orderly process, that we have provisions for people to come here and work on farms, like farmers want in need to fill jobs as immigrants have for decades, and yet haven't been able to do since the pandemic, which is why you see so many problems with restaurants not even being able to provide bartenders and waiters for people who want to go out to eat.

So, this is a broken system. It's broken nationwide. Democrats continue to put forward solutions that are broadly popular with the American public. Republicans continue to play politics with immigration, as Abbott and DeSantis are doing today in the legacy of segregationists, playing politics with people's lives. And that does not advance the solution, that does not do anything to move the ball forward. So, we're standing here in Washington ready to work on immigration, as we have for years, and we have the support of the American people behind us.

CAMEROTA: Do you know where Governor DeSantis got the idea to charter planes at I think $12 million I read to the taxpayers of his state? I mean, to the -- that was the cost to send them to Martha's Vineyard.

MOULTON: I don't know, maybe Tucker Carlson or something like that. He's obviously an irresponsible steward of taxpayer funds. There's problems with this at so many levels, Alisyn, and at the base level, though, it's just a disgraceful abuse of people's lives, young kids, families who are just searching for survival by coming to the United States, people seeking political asylum. And do you think they walked for months to get to the U.S.-Mexican border because they were happy at home? These people are folks that we should be helping. America welcomes immigrants, has welcomed immigrants throughout our history. That's what the Statue of Liberty stands for in New York Harbor. Ron DeSantis is running against that entire legacy.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Seth Moulton, great to get your perspective. Thank you.

MOULTON: Thanks, Alisyn.

BLACKWELL: Former President Trump now claims that he declassified all those government records that he took to Mar-a-Lago, but his lawyers are not making that assertion.

CAMEROTA: And former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has complied with a Justice Department's subpoena. What we know about the materials he has handed over we have CNN exclusive reporting next.



BLACKWELL: Senator Dick Durbin says the surge in threats against Federal law enforcement is stunning since the search of Donald Trump's house for classified documents. And today, the FBI and Homeland Security briefed a bipartisan group of senators on the problem. Durbin said the threat from domestic violent extremists was second only to the threat from international drug gangs.

CAMEROTA: Also in the Mar-a-Lago case, the Justice Department set a deadline today for a Federal judge to make a decision or the DOJ will file an appeal. The DOJ wants their investigators to be able to continue reviewing the documents, some of them top secret, that were seized from Trump's Florida estate. CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is here to explain all of this. So, Jessica, will Judge Aileen Cannon announce her decision today?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's possible. Really, prosecutors, they're asking her to essentially reverse her own ruling by today. That could be any time before midnight if she sort of complies with them. You know, if she doesn't, DOJ is saying that they will appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and that in and of itself, it actually carries its own risks because six of the 11 active judges in the 11th Circuit are Trump nominees.


So, what the DOJ wants is they want Judge Aileen Cannon to halt the part of her ruling that said, all of the FBI's review of the classified documents must stop. And that review, because of that ruling, has actually been on hold now for more than a week. But DOJ has since said that because the FBI's review has been stopped, the intelligence review about the ramifications potentially of these documents at Mar-a-Lago, that has also come to a stop. And of course, since this is an ongoing investigation, prosecutors want their work to continue. So, Alisyn and Victor, we'll see if Judge Cannon allows them to keep working, essentially reversing herself. If she doesn't, DOJ has said in fact, they will go to the 11th Circuit, and see what the appeals hold in that court. Guys?

BLACKWELL: All right, let's turn now to the CNN exclusive about Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, learning about how he is now complying with the Justice Department subpoena. What did we learn? SCHNEIDER: Yes, so this is actually Meadows complying with a criminal investigation, essentially. He has in fact, our team has learned, led by Pamela Brown and Evan Perez, that this exclusive information that Meadows has complied with the subpoena from DOJ, and that Meadows has given the Feds in that investigation, the same information that he gave to the House Committee investigating January 6th. And at the time, we reported that Meadows turned over these thousands of text messages, thousands of e-mails from his time as Chief of Staff. Now, this is all crucial and important, because this makes Meadows the highest-ranking Trump official that we know of, to respond to and comply with a subpoena in this criminal investigation at the Federal level.

And of course, guys, this is all coming, as the DOJ has really ramped up its investigations into January 6th. You know, our team has talked about how DOJ is now touching on everything, from pushing false election fraud claims, to fake electors, even delving into how money flowed to support all of these fake efforts, if you will. So, the DOJ is really ramping up here. And we know now that Meadows has, in fact, complied with at least their subpoena, dealing with the Federal criminal investigation, Alisyn and Victor?

CAMEROTA: OK, Jessica Schneider, thank you very much for all of that reporting. Let's discuss further with Gloria Borger, she's our CNN chief political analyst. We also have with us Bradley Moss, he's a national security law attorney. Let's just start there, Gloria, with what Jessica just reported, and that is Mark Meadows. And he was instrument -- at least he was quite involved with everything that happened on January 6th. So, what do you think the fact that he's now turned over all of these e-mails means?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's very important, and I think the Justice Department is not likely to stop there. We, as Jessica was saying, we previously reported about over 2,000 texts and e-mails that he turned over to the January 6th Committee, which place him at the center of activity, both before and after January 6th. But when you look at Mark Meadows as the President's former Chief of Staff, he was involved, for example, in the question of what happened in Georgia, showing up in Georgia, talking about fake electors on the phone call with Brad Raffensperger, for example.

He's also the person as the President's former Chief of Staff, who was responsible for gathering all those documents for the archives. And we know that there's been an awful lot of problem problems with those documents. And we know that after those documents were found at Mar-a- Lago, that Meadows even gave more of his own documents to the archives. So, I'd have to say that Mark Meadows is central to all of these stories. If you were to look for a link between A, B, and C, it would be Mark Meadows.

BLACKWELL: Bradley, the DOJ has been gearing up for a fight on the question of executive privilege, because as Gloria mentioned, Mark Meadows handed over a lot to the January 6th Committee, but not everything. There was about 100 messages he held back. How tough will it be to get the rest of those messages from Meadows? BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY LAW ATTORNEY: Certainly, yes, there could be a fight. We're waiting to see whether or not DOJ has to push further on Mark Meadows, not only for documents and text messages, but for testimony before the grand jury. We know at least two different White House Counsel lawyers, Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin already have testified before the grand jury. We don't know the contours of that testimony.

I'm sure there were issues of both executive privilege and attorney- client privilege that came up that had to be negotiated and framed out. But it would be even narrower with respect to Mark Meadows given he wasn't a lawyer. So, if the lawyers are able to, in some fashion, testify for -- testify before this grand jury, certainly, there's going to be a legal argument for DOJ to use to push Mark Meadows to testify and he, as Gloria mentioned, has a lot of very interesting material information about these various, you know, interwoven issues of different criminal liability.


CAMEROTA: OK, Bradley, let me stay with you because there's a new development on all of the classified documents and top secret documents that were seized at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. He was on a radio show today with Hugh Hewitt, in which he has, I think, finally fastened on an explanation for what he was doing with all of those. So, I will play for you what Donald Trump says now.


HUGH HEWITT, HOST OF THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW: Mr. Patel said he witnessed you giving verbal orders to declassify the papers that ended up at Mar-a-Lago. Do you remember making those orders?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's correct. And not only that, I think it was other people also, were there. But I have the absolute right to declassify, absolute. A president has that absolute right. And a lot of people aren't even challenging that anymore.


CAMEROTA: Well, his lawyers have never mentioned that in court when they had the opportunity, and all sorts of our legal experts have, you know, dismissed that out of hand. But does -- is he right, does the President have absolute authority to declassify unilaterally whatever he wants?

MOSS: Yes, while he was president, up until the moment Joe Biden took the oath of office, Donald Trump could declassify anything he wanted. But and here's the big problem for him, if he didn't follow through, if he didn't, and we see all those markings on those documents that were found at Mar-a-Lago, if he didn't make sure the documents were properly declassified through the process, then if he had that unilateral, I don't have to follow up procedures authority, that meant Joe Biden, the moment he took the oath of office, could reclassify and not follow any procedures as well. It goes both ways. So, he's going to have to, at some point, you know, put up or shut up here, and provide affidavits, proof, someone to go on the record under oath saying, I witnessed him do this. And here's how he did it and what the process was that was followed. So far, his lawyers have shown none of that.

BORGER: Can I just add that none of the statutes that the Department of Justice referred to in doing the search at Mar-a-Lago referred to declassifying documents. So, that is kind of a sideshow at this point. That's not what this is about. And in our own reporting a few weeks ago, people were using words, like, ludicrous and ridiculous, and he can't wave a wand and just do this. If -- when you're talking about declassified documents, it has to be memorialized. So, if it is memorialized, where is it?

BLACKWELL: Yes. More than Kash Patel would know about the declassification in that room --

BORGER: Exactly. Yes, yes.

BLACKWELL: -- of these really crucial documents. Gloria Borger, Bradley Moss, thank you.


CAMEROTA: OK, just in to CNN, a leading negotiator on a bill that would codify same sex and interracial marriage nationwide, says they need more time to negotiate this issue, and they don't want to delay any vote. Oh, sorry. And they want to now delay the vote until after the midterms. So, we're going to discuss that.

BLACKWELL: And President Biden takes a victory lap after officials reached a deal to avoid a rail strike. New reaction from the White House, that's next.