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Judge Sides With Trump in Mar-a-Lago Case; Mass Grave Discovered in Ukraine; Republican Governors Continue Shipping Migrants Across Country. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired September 16, 2022 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Entry to the line is open again after a brief pause when it reached capacity earlier in the day. A government tracker shows potential wait times of more than 24 hours.
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Thanks for your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. Try to have a peaceful weekend.
Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello on this Friday. Thanks for being here. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
Today, the White House behind the scenes taking on an escalating immigration crisis. One that went very public this week took a very ugly turn. We have seen migrants shipped across the country. Some knew they were going and where they were going. Some didn't. Some had just the clothes on their backs.
Now, last hour, dozens of people were taken voluntarily by bus from Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, to a military base on Cape Cod, as the Biden administration right now works on a response to the Republican governors who are sending these migrants across the country.
Let's begin with CNN's M.J. Lee
And, M.J., what do you know about the discussions happening behind you inside the White House right now?
M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, everything that you just described with the situation with migrants unexpectedly being bused and flown to different places like Martha's Vineyard, even the V.P.'s here in Washington, D.C., of course, White House officials have been monitoring that situation very closely.
And one thing that we expect to happen today is a meeting between White House and Cabinet officials to basically discuss all important issues related to immigration. We certainly expect those topics to include the situation at the border and generally some of the issues that have come up in these places where these groups of migrants are showing up.
Obviously, the situation has created a big logistical, as well as a humanitarian situation in all of these areas that they now have to deal with. We also know that there have now been a lot of questions raised on the legal front in terms of whether what these Republican governors are doing, whether they are illegal, whether there are potentially legal actions that could be taken against some of these states.
But the White House for now is referring all legal questions to the DOJ. And we have also heard clearly from the White House that they simply view what is happening as inhumane and cruel. And we heard some of this forceful -- forceful language coming directly from the president just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of working with us on solutions, Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props. What they're doing is simply wrong. It's un- American. It's reckless.
And we have a process in place to manage migrants at the border. We're working to make sure it's safe and orderly and humane. Republican officials should not interfere with that process by waging a political -- these political stunts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: And, Ana, immigration issues may not always be at the forefront, especially compared to an issue like the economy, for example, but, obviously, it is a very politically salient issue.
And what we are hearing from this White House is basically sort of a reminder every day that we are talking about, politics aside, families and real people, many of whom have really just seen their lives turned upside down.
CABRERA: M.J. Lee, thank you for that update.
Let's hear more about what these migrants have been saying and what they have been experiencing.
CNN's Miguel Marquez has been speaking to those who were sent to Massachusetts and are now at that military base.
Miguel, what more are you learning about their experiences?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, look, this was two days they were here. And it was kind of amazing to see sort of the bonding and this -- Martha's Vineyard and the towns on this island come together to help the people who were -- sort of arrived here. It's not a big deal for a place like Martha's Vineyard to host 50
people or to handle 50 people. They came with nothing. They came at the last minute. They didn't speak the language. But it wasn't a chaotic mess, is what people want people to know, that people stepped up and there was a process, they got them the help they needed.
But these are also the people that come with a lot of complications in their life. They have had a very long, difficult journey just to get to the United States. They were in Texas just a couple of days ago. And then, without warning, they were sort of flown to Martha's Vineyard. They had no idea where they were landing.
Here's -- want to show you just a little bit of what that sort of tearful goodbye looked like this morning, as they shipped out for the mainland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUEZ: So, look, the people of Martha's Vineyard have raised -- and across the country have raised $175,000 for these migrants. There's about 49 of them, maybe 50.
They have given them cell phones if they didn't have cell phones. They gave them all a $50 Visa card. So, in some respects, these particular migrants, because it caught the attention of the national media and it was just so strange that they arrived here, they got a lot of attention that others don't.
But the lawyers who spoke to these folks and what they have going forward is going to be difficult. They have -- they're applying for asylum for the most part. They have meetings and legal proceedings in Los Angeles, in Washington state, in Cincinnati, across in Texas and D.C. So those things have to be attended to. They are here on a process, trying to stay legal, which everybody seems to be very concerned with, and sending them here complicated all of that -- Ana.
CABRERA: Yes, as if it weren't complicated enough, the immigration proceedings and the system that everybody has to navigate here.
I understand there's also been talk from some of these asylum seekers about a woman named Perla and promises some say she made to them. Who is this woman? What was she promising?
MARQUEZ: Oh, wouldn't we love to know?
We heard about this woman from all of them, everyone that we spoke to. We talked to over a dozen immigrants here between myself and CNN Espanol, who was here as well. And this woman named Perla, she had a couple of colleagues that were with her. They were in Texas at the shelter that they were at in San Antonio. They were asking them over a series of days if they needed help, if they wanted the job.
They -- once they agreed that, they would take them to a hotel. They held them there until the planes came. And then they were off. And the planes landed twice on the way here from Texas. No one got off, no one got on, and then they ended up in Martha's Vineyard.
So who this person is, we'd certainly like to know. It is not clear where they were from, who they were working for, or what they were actually doing. But there's a very sort of murky beginning to these 50 migrants, the 50 or so migrants ending up here on Martha's Vineyard -- Ana.
CABRERA: Still so many more questions. Miguel Marquez, thank you.
And CNN is learning new details about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' planning of that Martha's Vineyard drop-off.
CNN's Steve Contorno has this for us.
Steve, you have reported that DeSantis has been wanting to do something like this for months. Why?
STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Ana, he's really given two reasons publicly for what he's doing here.
First is that, practically speaking, a lot of these migrants who cross the border and up in Florida. There's large Hispanic and Latin American populations already here. And they come here to find their family and friends. That is a fact.
Now, that aside, we don't know whether these individuals' eventual destination was intended to be Florida. In fact, in the conversations that I think CNN has had with them, that wasn't the case. But that is one of the reasons Governor DeSantis has given for why he wants to do this.
Second is, this is a little bit of theater and he wants to put political pressure on the Biden administration. He has said for months that he would send migrants to liberal enclaves in sanctuary cities, even to President Biden's home state of Delaware, yes, Martha's Vineyard as well, in an effort to get the Biden administration to focus more attention on the border issue.
CABRERA: So, again, these migrants who were sent to Martha's Vineyard were from Texas, not Florida. So, essentially, the Florida governor paid to fly migrants from Texas to Massachusetts. Do you know if taxpayer dollars were used?
CONTORNO: That's a great question, Ana.
And, yes, they were. There was $12 million set aside in the budget this cycle. This is money that Governor DeSantis fought for in the budget to participate in these migrant relocation programs. Now, I don't think anyone expected when they got that money in the budget that it was going to be used for people to go from Texas to Martha's Vineyard. I think people assumed that it was going to be to relocate minors --
or migrants from Florida to other states, but this is how they are using the money. And sort of last month, he kind of hinted that this might be the case. He said they weren't seeing sort of an influx of migrants being bused into Florida, and that the money could be used potentially to take people directly from the border to other states.
CABRERA: Steve Contorno, I appreciate your reporting. Thank you.
Let's turn now to the legal showdown between the Justice Department and Donald Trump, and a major win for the former president. A federal judge has appointed a special master, and the judge's order allows Trump's lawyers to see all the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago for the first time, including those marked as classified.
And Trump's team will get a chance to then flag any that they believe may be privileged. A special master then, Judge Raymond Dearie, has a November 30 deadline to go through those documents to sort out any privilege claims. But the DOJ could still file an appeal to all of this at any moment.
And I want to bring in our legal experts now, former assistant special Watergate prosecutor Jon Sale and criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Bernarda Villalona.
Thank you both for being here. I really do appreciate you taking the time, especially on a Friday.
Jon, you have some unique perspective here, because I know you were invited to join Trump's legal team. And you declined. You have supported the appointment of a special master in this case, but what do you think, what are your thoughts on this specific ruling?
JON SALE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Starting off with I'm a firm believer, as we all are, no one's above the law.
But going from there, a special master is not that extraordinary. Recently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said that they're in disfavor -- I'm sorry -- said the filter teams, government filter teams, are in disfavor. It's like the fox watching the henhouse.
So when it comes to attorney-client privilege, it's not that unusual. I participated in one recently where retired Judge Barbara Jones was the special master. And it worked fairly and efficiently. And I think Judge Dearie, the Trump team ought to be careful what they asked for, because the 60 days he has, I think he's going to do it much quicker than 60 days.
And Judge Cannon, who I think's being unfairly vilified, wrote in her opinion that they may not get any of the relief they want. And what's this all about? We need to restore confidence in the justice system. An independent third party looking at it hopefully will do that.
Judge Cannon just received threats. Someone was arrested, threatening to kill her and her family two days ago...
CABRERA: Which is horrible, obviously.
SALE: ... like the horrible tragedy with Judge Salas in New Jersey, whose son was murdered.
So if this brief delay -- and within the 60-day window, nothing would happen anyway, no charging decision will be made. A brief delay is important -- more important, just so we get it right.
CABRERA: The timing is one thing, but there are, I know, other aspects about this latest ruling that some legal minds have taken a different view on.
What do you think? Do you see things the same way as Jon here, Bernarda?
BERNARDA VILLALONA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Somehow.
My problem is, is that her decision, her 10-page decision, rests on weak legal grounds. I think it sets risky precedent in this case. And also her commenting on her lack of trust on the DOJ and the leaks on the FBI, and that I'm just not going to take your word for it, Department of Justice, I'm not just going to go give you a blanket to say, OK, I believe what you're saying, and I'm going to side with you.
So, in terms of her rationale, it's very concerning, especially with the DOJ gave you an affidavit, a factual affidavit. Trump's team did not file an affidavit, and none of those facts have been contradicted. So Judge Cannon, what are you resting your reasoning on?
I think it's -- for her, it's like, it's because I said so. It has to deal with the former president. And because I said so and it comes down to content, you're going to have to follow my ruling.
CABRERA: And she has made remarks about restoring confidence, which you get at.
But this is also a unique circumstance, in that these and some of the documents are classified, right, and some of the most sensitive nature that our government has, Jon. So how do you deal with that aspect? And Trump's team is going to have access to see all of those classified documents?
SALE: Well, a couple of things.
In her ruling, she writes that under controlled circumstances, so that probably will involve viewing them in a SCIF, which, if anyone's ever been in one -- I have -- that's as controlled as it gets.
And a careful reading of her opinion, she says, if it does become apparent that the criminal and national security assessment become intertwined, I will leave it to the Justice Department. Then they may use these segregated documents. And then she says in a footnote, I trust the Justice Department to make that judgment.
CABRERA: So, would Trump's lawyers have to get a security clearance?
SALE: Those are some of the difficult details that have to be worked out by Judge Dearie, with the approval of the court.
And so beyond the classified nature of some of these documents, I do wonder, Bernarda, about just how things typically proceed. When there's a case and investigators are gathering their evidence, the people who may be at the center of that investigation don't automatically know all the cards that they hold, right?
But in this case, Trump's lawyers are going to have access to all these documents. They are going to have access to the evidence before any potential charges or an indictment is brought. Is that going to have an impact on the investigation?
VILLALONA: Absolutely. It's going to have a huge impact on the investigation, because Donald Trump and the parties that are involved are going to be able to tailor their defense.
If they're called in for questioning, they already know what the government has, so they can tailor their answers or their defense in terms of what my next steps are going to be to their benefit. It takes the element of surprise away from the prosecution, which is a huge risk in any investigation.
And that's why I was so against the search warrant being unsealed.
CABRERA: I want to turn to something we heard from former President Trump just yesterday, when he was on Hugh Hewitt's show.
And he was asked, what would happen if you were indicted? Here's his response.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If it happened, I think you would have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we have never seen before. I don't think the people of the United States would stand for it.
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What kind of problems, Mr. President?
TRUMP: I think they'd have big problems, big problems.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CABRERA: Sounds a little bit like what we were hearing from him before January 6.
SALE: Well, what Senator Lindsey Graham said was even worse, when he talked about possible riots in the streets. This independent review by the judiciary hopefully will bring around
public opinion. That's what we need. But, ultimately, the attorney general will not be influenced by those type of threats. And we all ought to distance ourselves from threats. It's not going to make any difference.
CABRERA: So, you actually see those as threats?
SALE: Well, Lindsey Graham said, you're going to see rioting in the streets if there's a charge brought.
CABRERA: What about what we just heard from the former president?
SALE: They are words which people who are inclined to be dangerous will interpret as threats. I don't know what was in the former president's mind.
CABRERA: Final thought?
VILLALONA: It's the same issue that we had on January 6. He was inciting those people. And that's exactly what he's doing now.
He is preparing his base to form and attack if he were to be arrested. So here we go again.
Bernarda and Jon, thank you both so much for being here.
SALE: Thank you.
VILLALONA: Thank you.
CABRERA: I really appreciate you.
Horrific doesn't do it justice. A mass burial site with entire families, children as young as 6, signs of torture discovered in a city that Ukraine reach up from Russia. But how can the world make Putin pay?
Plus, ominous words from one of the world's biggest shippers. FedEx says there's a slowdown in business everywhere and warns that a global recession is in the cards.
And the massive line is growing for a chance to pay respects to the queen. It is now a 24-hour wait for some people. But that's not too long even for David Beckham.
CABRERA: There is a horrifying new discovery from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
And I need to warn you what we're about to show you is graphic video. It comes from the eastern city of Izyum. Just days after Ukrainian forces forced Russia out, ending Russia's five-month occupation there, authorities say they discovered hundreds of graves at a mass burial site.
And here's that video. You can see crews meticulously documenting and removing the bodies. Ukraine says they are -- quote -- "mostly civilians." And President Zelenskyy, along with other officials, say some of those bodies show -- quote -- "signs of torture."
CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Kyiv.
Ben, what more are you learning?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ana, what we know so far is this -- for instance, we got a statement from the governor of the Kharkiv region, where Izyum is located.
This grave site is in a forest. They have found, he says, 450 bodies. He said that, of those who have -- that have been exhumed so far -- and, of course, they have only dug up a fraction of them -- 99 percent show the signs of violent death. That's the term he uses.
He says some of the bodies had been found with their hands tied behind their backs. One of the bodies had a rope around its neck. He said among the dead are children. In fact, we understand that an entire family was buried together, the father born in 1988, the mother in 1991, their daughter in 2016.
Now, there are more than 200 law enforcement and the forensic experts on the scene trying to do as much as they can to get the bodies out .It's going to take time to identify them. Some of the graves marked by very crude plywood crosses do have names on them, but many do not. And, of course, this is an area that's recently been liberated, in fact, this area specifically just last Saturday.
And, slowly, it's expected that more such grave sites could very well be found in the coming days -- Ana.
CABRERA: I know one of the Ukrainian officials said at least 440 unmarked graves at one particular site, just all so horrific.
Ben Wedeman, thank you for your reporting.
Let's continue our conversation.
And joining us now is David Scheffer. He served during the Clinton administration as U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes. He is also the author of "All the Missing Souls."
Ambassador, thanks for being here.
Ukraine has previously reported war crimes. And we covered it, the atrocities in Bucha and Mariupol. And Russian forces, we know, occupied Izyum much longer, some five months. So, I wonder, will that make it more difficult to investigate war crimes, given that Russians may have had time to cover their tracks more?
DAVID SCHEFFER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR AT LARGE FOR WAR CRIMES ISSUES: Well, they certainly have been trying to cover their tracks by creating mass graves with a large number of bodies within the mass grave.
And we know that one of those has been located at Izyum and is being dealt with by forensics and others to uncover what's in that mass grave. Typically, what you would find in that kind of mass grave are the soldiers and some civilians who in fact were tortured and killed quite violently by the Russian forces.
Those other individual grades that are being found at Izyum, I think, from what I have been able to ascertain, were actually dug and filled with individuals or perhaps families a number of months ago.
If one recalls, Izyum was subjected to a large degree of shelling of civilian structures by the Russian forces as they were invading Izyum and occupying it. Those kinds of deaths, it should be remembered, are still the object of war crimes, because those were civilian structures hit by Russian military artillery, and killing a lot of people during those strikes.
That doesn't mean the Russian forces are innocent of who died. They're, in fact, quite culpable of civilians who died in those strikes. So, at the end of the day, Ana, you will see, I think, two classes of victims being examined. One are those civilians hit many months ago in those artillery strikes, and then, secondly, those who were during the occupation, tortured and ultimately killed by the forces.
And, of course, what the Russians would try to do is to hide that evidence in mass graves. This is what we saw in Rwanda.
SCHEFFER: It's what we saw in Bosnia in the 1990s. It's being repeated here.
CABRERA: Ukraine says is looking into more than 21,000 possible war crimes across the country right now, so at least that amount.
War crimes, we know, were already exposed in Bucha. The world reacted in a horrific way. Everybody was just completely upset about all of that. There were investigations immediately. So people didn't turn a blind eye when those atrocities were revealed.
And yet nothing has stopped Russia from continuing to take these barbaric actions. In Izyum, for example, some of these graves were fresh. So, they have been doing this recently. How is this continuing to happen?
SCHEFFER: It seems as if the Russian military does not get the signal of deterrence.
In other words, they knew that we were or that investigators were uncovering Bucha and Mariupol. And that should have sent a signal through the military leadership and the political leadership to get back to the rules of the laws of war and of international humanitarian law. Otherwise, some days, there will be accountability.
This is -- this is what's going to be so interesting, that the evidence that's being uncovered in Izyum will be used to basically establish the following point, that the Russian military simply had no training, no education, and, from the leadership point, no direction to actually comply with international law in the conduct of warfare.
And this is going to establish a continuum of illegality that will really strike them hard when it comes down to writing up indictments.
CABRERA: So, is it just a lack of training, a lack of understanding what the rules of war are? Or is that more than that? Is there something more to the psychology, the strategy involved here when a country knowingly is committing and continuing to commit these types of atrocities?
Why do they do that?
SCHEFFER: There's more to it. You're exactly right, Ana.
I mean, the foot soldiers who are on the ground and actually committing these crimes directly against civilians, that's probably a result of the Russian military simply not being trained in the laws of war. But when it comes to the military leadership and the political leadership, then this simply compounds the illegality of a sustained assault on the civilian population in Ukraine month after month, with an obvious knowledge that this is illegal.
I mean, they know this at the top. This is not some new -- the Geneva Conventions has been around since 1949. So, it's not as if this is unknown to the leadership. And the perpetuation of it only, frankly -- forgive the pun -- digs the ditch deeper for the leadership in terms of their accountability that will clearly be brought out in the following months and years with the investigations, the evidence that is uncovered with them, and then finally the drafting of the indictments against them.
CABRERA: Well, David Scheffer, I appreciate your time. Thank you for helping us try to understand what is so unthinkable, so unbelievable, so horrific.
I appreciate it.
SCHEFFER: Thank you. Thank you.
CABRERA: FedEx drivers are delivering a message nobody wants to hear about the economy. And now markets are responding.