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Hurricane Fiona Slams Puerto Rico, Knocks Out Power To Whole Island; President Biden And First Lady Pay Respects To Queen Elizabeth II In London; London Deploys Massive Security Around Queen's Funeral; Federal Reserve Expected To Raise Key Interest Rate This Week; Ukraine's Newly Liberated Border Town; Biden Administration Debuts Nationwide Ads For Updated COVID-19 Boosters. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 18, 2022 - 18:00   ET




LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hurricane Fiona has now made landfall. Confirming that there is now an island-wide power outage. There was a lot of concern about mudslides. There was a lot of concern about flash flooding.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Catastrophic flooding expected. We are going to see between 15 and 20 inches.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Global leaders continue to descend on London for the big Monday event. Paying tributes and signing condolences.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To all of the people of England, and all the people of the United Kingdom, our hearts go out to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is such a beautiful way for it to have been sent off with people around who have been coming countless for days and days. That's exactly what she wanted.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK: And this is as I stated a humanitarian crisis created by human hands. It is an all-hands-on-deck moment.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): They're coming into southern states. What is a governor supposed to do? They're trying to send a message to the rest of the country.

MAYOR OSCAR LEESER (D), EL PASO, TEXAS: To make sure that no one is homeless, no one is hungry, and make sure that we always continue to treat people like human beings.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Hurricane Fiona is punishing Puerto Rico with the entire island now completely without power. The category 1 storm made landfall this afternoon and is wreaking havoc on the U.S. territory with heavy winds and rain. And look at this video, right here, showing you what some of the flash flooding has already done in some areas.

We have CNN's Leyla Santiago in San Juan, our meteorologist Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center.

Leyla, first to you. What is the situation there on the ground?

SANTIAGO: Well, Pamela, we've actually seen that it's not raining as hard as it has been over the last few hours. But that doesn't mean that the saturated ground is OK because what we're starting to see is that flooding. I want you to take you straight to Utuado. This is kind of in the heart of the island, right in the interior. I spoke to Leomar Rodriguez. He is the gentleman who shot this video. He was out looking out the window from his grandparents' kitchen and said in a matter of minutes he watched the river rise and the -- with the flooding in that area.

So that's a big problem on this island. The other problem is we have an island wide power outage -- power outage, excuse me. And when I spoke to LUMA, which is the power company that runs the power grid here, they said it could be days before the power is restored. And let's back up a little bit because timing is also a big factor here. We are coming up on the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria.

You might remember, I stood right here reporting when Hurricane Maria was approaching the island, and that is playing a role in the trauma, the anxiety, the frustration that a lot of people are feeling right now as they watch images that some feel similar to what they saw five years ago and they deal with power outages yet again, realizing that there will be instability moving forward, not knowing exactly when power will be restored.

So I do want to introduce you to a family that I spoke with earlier today. Power went out at 8:00 in the morning for them. They're in Caguas which is about 30 minutes, 40 minutes south of San Juan where we are. Listen to the exchange I had with a woman named Lourdes.



SANTIAGO (on-camera): She says when the power goes out she gets real anxious and -- she gets really tense, worried. She's staying here because she left her house. It's safer here and she's worried what she's going to find at her house.


SANTIAGO: You'll notice it was dark. It was dark because there is no power. It is an island with 100 percent without power. And where that is going to be a bit of an issue is well, across the whole island, but in those critical buildings, hospitals, people who depend on power for their life. So that's where you're going to see emergency management really focusing right now to make sure that that is taken care of.

But right now, at this hour, Fiona is having major impacts on the island of 3.5 U.S. citizens that are dealing with the remnants of it.


BROWN: All right. Leyla Santiago, thanks for bringing us the latest there.

And I want to go to Chad Myers who's there in the weather center for us.

So, Chad, look, flooding seems to be the big issue right now. What do the hours ahead look like?

MYERS: A lot more rain, Pamela. The rain now developing, the brighter clouds on this satellite picture developing against south of Puerto Rico and they will move right over the top. So even though Leyla had a slight delay in the rainfall for a while, it's coming back. And it's going be back all night long. 85 miles per hour. Didn't get any stronger at the 5:00 advisory. But the rain is just pouring on shore like a fire hose.

Technically, the eye has now left Puerto Rico. It's on its way to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. And there are warnings for that area as well. With an awful lot of rainfall and even some wind. And possibly even some surge. But the big story here, there are rivers right now that are higher than they were during Maria. That's how much water has fallen. This is a freshwater flood.

Obviously, nobody has a pump to get that water anywhere else. Nobody has refrigeration anymore. 103 mile-per-hour gusts, the highest I could find around Ponce. Now there will be another five to 15 inches rain in this area. So we're not only seeing these rivers at astronomically higher numbers than we've ever seen before but more rain is still coming down. That rain is going to get into the Bahamas. It's going to get into the Turks and Caicos, and as I look ahead, this is Tuesday into Wednesday, 125 mile per hour category 3. Hopefully turning hard right and getting out into the middle of the Atlantic. We'll see.

BROWN: All right. We will see. Chad Myers, thank you for that.

And now I want to bring in Anne Bink. She is with the Federal Emergency Management Agency serving as assistant administrator for response and recovery.

Hi, Ann. We are looking at another storm impacting millions of Americans who yet again are being failed by the power grid. This is a category one storm yet the power is out across the entire island. How do reassure the more than three million people in Puerto Rico right now?

ANNE BINK, FEMA ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR FOR RESPONSE AND RECOVERY: Absolutely. Administrator Criswell makes it crystal clear to everyone at FEMA, we will be there early and we will be there throughout. And we had folks on the ground days ago to prepare for this contingency related to the hurricane. So not only are we on the ground, there's 300 responders on the ground from FEMA working hand in glove with the commonwealth and their emergency management structure.

But we also have the federal family there supporting us as well. The Army Corps of Engineers, Health and Human Services. We are there with the people of Puerto Rico and we want to say our heart goes out to the residents that again are going through another catastrophic event five years later.

BROWN: Yes, it's just about the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria. We just heard our Leyla Santiago talk about a lot of the residents there are still feeling the pain of that and they're really concerned because -- of how long the recovery was after Maria and now this. They don't have the power. And you mentioned the 300 responders on the ground there. Practically what does that look like in terms of how they are helping the residents at that -- at this hour?

BINK: Yes, it's dual focused. One is related to emergency generation and power missions for critical facilities that we work with the Army Corps of Engineers on, and the other is to ensure that the command and control structure is in place to allow all the emergency protective measures that need to be undertaken to support this hurricane can, things like search and rescue, things like emergency power generation. Long-term needs as we move into the recovery for residents and communities.

We will be there. And it is worth noting, too, President Biden overnight signed an emergency declaration that authorizes all of these emergency protective measures to occur and that was signed before the storm hit Puerto Rico which is part of the proactive stance we take here at FEMA and the administration across the board.

BROWN: What is the biggest concern right now?

BINK: The biggest concern is the life and safety of residents. The big message I have is please follow the directions of local officials. And please check on your friends and families and neighbors. They need you right now. And we need to make sure that you're safe and following those directions. There is no doubt there will be catastrophic rain. Mudslides. Please follow those instructions and beyond that, please check on each other for the emotional toll this could take, too.

We are there. We have 700 employees that have been supporting the Hurricane Maria recovery effort since day one. They're survivors and here we are again.


BROWN: And what was learned from Hurricane Maria that is being applied now in moving forward in Puerto Rico?

BINK: So, we were much more prepared. We have four warehouses now strategically located throughout the island which includes commodities, exponentially larger supplies than in the past. Ten times the meals and water, three times the emergency generator support. And more than that, we're proactively there and well ahead of any storm hitting. To make sure that we're coordinating and all of the planning efforts we undertake during those blue sky days could be brought to bear when the rain falls.

BROWN: All right, Anne Bink. Thank you.

BINK: Thank you.

BROWN: And in Alaska tonight -- I'm actually going to turn to London now. In London Queen Elizabeth enters her final hours lying in state.

A short time ago across Great Britain, the nation paused for one minute of silence to honor the late monarch. And earlier President Biden and the first lady joined the tens of thousands of British mourners paying their respects to today inside of Westminster Hall. Tomorrow they will be among the 70 some heads of state attending the Queen's funeral.

And earlier today at Buckingham Palace, King Charles hosted a reception for visiting world leaders.

Our CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins has more from London.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Pam, as President Biden is here for two days paying tribute to Queen Elizabeth in London. He talked about what she is known for and he said that she is decent, she's honorable, she's all about public service. And he said that she lived up to the reputation that she has. And he says, you know, that's something that stands out when you're someone like him, the president of the United States who meets with many world leaders, many top figures, and he said that she is someone who was someone who lived up to her reputation.

And of course, after he met the Queen, you know, back in 1982 as a senator, he then saw her again last year as president when she hosted him for this private tea with First Lady Jill Biden at Windsor Castle and it was a moment where he said that interaction reminded him of his own mother. And today, a reporter, as he was signing the condolence book, asked him, you know, why that was and this is what he told them.


BIDEN: Just because the way she touched when she leaned over. The way -- she had that look like, are you OK? Anything I can do for you? What do you need? And then also, make sure you do what you're supposed to do.


COLLINS: President Biden signing that condolence book. So did First Lady Jill Biden talking about her own experience and memories of the Queen. Her warmth and her kindness that she noted. That came before they had this reception with King Charles. The first time that President Biden has actually come face-to-face with him since he became king. He of course spoke with him earlier this week. He talked about consoling him, saying, you know, President Biden

himself who has dealt with his own grief in his life, told King Charles that despite the Queen's passing, despite the fact that she is gone, he said she's still with him there every step of the way. You know, really just this entire trip paying tribute to this monarch who was committed to public service all ahead of, of course, the big funeral tomorrow -- Pam.

BROWN: All right. Our thanks to Kaitlan Collins.

And the Queen's funeral has London bracing for the largest and most complex security operation in the city's long history. In short, it is a nightmare for those in charge of keeping the events safe. CNN's Nina dos Santos explains.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): These mourners are among two million expected to gather in London ahead of the Queen's funeral. Overnight, trains have been laid on to bring people from all over the country, desperate to catch a glimpse of the monarch before she's laid to rest in Windsor.

For the capital's authorities, balancing ceremony and safety is their toughest test yet. Thousands of officers are being deployed each day. 1,000 personnel alone will guard the line to Westminster Hall, where the Queen's coffin is lying in state.

Air traffic above London was suspended while her cortege made its journey there. 1,500 soldiers on hand to help with crowd control.


DOS SANTOS (on-camera): And this is what they've come to see, Britain's longest serving monarch leaving Buckingham Palace for the very last time, a moment in history that so many here said they just had to be part of.

(Voice-over): With such large numbers comes high risk.

NICK ALDWORTH, FORMER UK COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR: The most realistic problem that people will encounter is, quite frankly, sheer volumes of people getting squashed.


However, in the U.K. our national threat level is substantial. That means a terrorist attack is likely. We know that terrorists are attracted to crowds and we're about to generate one of the largest crowds that we can possibly ever generate in this country.

DOS SANTOS: And then there's hundreds of dignitaries to consider, from the king of Spain to France's president Emmanuel Macron. They've been urged to limit the size of their entourages. But Downing Street may make exceptions for certain guests. One of the most high-profile being President Biden. ALDWORTH: There is no doubt about it that the Americans are very

demanding customers in terms of security. And we recognize where each other's boundaries are in terms of what could be asked for and what can be delivered.

DOS SANTOS: Planning for protests is also inevitable. These demonstrators held up blank canvasses to highlight anti-monarchy arrests in Scotland, where Prince Andrew is heckled.

ALDWORTH: But if they don't break the law it's regrettable but it needs to be allowed to take place. I've met the Queen on many different occasions in many different settings. And I, for one, am certain that she would be here today, advocating for people's rights to protest.

DOS SANTOS: The crowds are still coming but Britain has been prepping for this time for many years to ensure Her Majesty's final sendoff goes as smoothly as possible.

Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.


BROWN: And CNN's special live coverage of the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II begins tomorrow morning at 5:00 Eastern.

Well, we have a packed show for you tonight. Still ahead, Congressman Jamie Raskin of the January 6th Committee will join us. And I'm going to ask him what is in store for the upcoming public hearing. Plus Lindsey Graham faces criticism from his own party for his nationwide abortion ban proposal. But he is not backing down. Could it backfire on Republicans?

But up next for you tonight, higher inflation and higher home prices. How can the Fed ant the Biden administration cool the economy without sparking a recession? Senior adviser to the president Gene Sperling joins me next to discuss it all.



BROWN: Well, Wall Street will be on edge this week as the Federal Reserve meets to raise interest rates. And this follows a rough week for your retirement nest egg as stocks were battered by an inflation report that was worse than expected.

And joining me now is Gene Sperling, senior adviser to President Biden and coordinator of the American Rescue Plan.

Jean, thanks for coming on. So I want to start with what we heard from the FedEx CEO. I mean, he really rocked the market by warning that a global recession could be looming. First question off the bat, how worried are you and the administration about the nation's sliding into a recession right now? GENE SPERLING, WHITE HOUSE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN COORDINATOR: Well,

listen, these whole last few years with an unprecedented shutting down and starting up of the global economy due to the pandemic, you know, has created uncertainty and it's created pain at times, and I think what the -- what the CEO of FedEx was expressing was the concerns that some have that as central bankers raise rates to deal with global inflation, what impact will that have on the economy.

What I want to balance that out with is really hard evidence that in the United States right now, we are seeing a lot of resilience. You know, just one fact to start off. In the first eight months of this year, our economy has created 3.5 million jobs. If that doesn't feel recessionary to you, it shouldn't. That's the third most jobs ever created in the first eight months of the year in the history of our country other than 2021 and 1946 after World War II.

You're still at unemployment at 3.7 percent. You're seeing less signs of consumer stress, of delinquencies, and, you know, more money in people's pocketbooks. And so there is a lot that we should still hold on to with confidence that we could make this transition from high prices, red hot growth, to more stable growth, without giving that -- stable growth with lower prices without giving back all of the historic job gains that we've seen since president Biden took office.

BROWN: All right. To drill down a little bit deeper on to that, looking ahead to the Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates three quarters of a point for the third consecutive meeting. The goal is to rein in the inflation by cooling down the economy. What I hear from you is that you think it can be done, that delicate balance can be done. But how much would that raise the risk of recession?

SPERLING: Obviously that's the question, you know, that people ask. Economists again often talk about a soft landing. I think, as I said, the way we're -- I think more accurately describing it is that we had have historic job growth and low unemployment. We have seen enormous gains. We've seen nearly 700,000 manufacturing jobs coming back to the U.S. and repeated announcements of companies who have so much confidence in the long-term view of the U.S. economy, that they're deciding to make their futures here.

All of that is very positive. There is no doubt that as the Fed raises rates, of course you're going to see things like higher mortgage rates, you're going to see a cooling of the -- of housing prices. But, again, I think when we see so many Americans working, so little long- term unemployment, we see people's checking books still in better shape than they were in 2019, I think that gives us a lot of confidence that there is a high degree of resilience in this economy that's come through the president's economic plan, and that we should be able to, and we certainly hope we're able to deal with whatever actions taken -- are taken by our independent Federal Reserve and still protect so much of that historic job growth and low unemployment that we have seen again since President Biden took office.


BROWN: So, I hear, Gene, you don't want to place a bet, a wager on whether there will be a recession as the Federal Reserve raises the rates. But you did mention something important and that is the housing costs, the mortgage rates right now, the cost of housing is also a factor and how Americans feel in this economy. Mortgage rates are their highest in 14 years. Rental prices have hit record highs for 17 straight months. Can the administration do anything about the affordability crisis facing so many Americans?

SPERLING: Well, so first of all, obviously when you see mortgage rates go up like that, it is a double edge sword, right. It makes it harder for people to get their first home. It can have some moderating effect on home prices. On the other hand, that is what often then leads to lower rent prices. We've seen Goldman Sachs and other private sector experts say they are predicting to see a deceleration in rent price increases which is then good for inflation.

We also know it's been good for pocketbooks. That gas prices have come down so dramatically and are now taking $150 less out of a typical family's home. But you point to something that is what we focus on in the White House. What can we do? We're not obviously the Federal Reserve. But you've seen the president now do things like in the Inflation Reduction Act pass tax credits so people renovating their house to be more efficient or energy efficient can get tax relief.

Lowering prescription drug prices. We also have a housing supply action plan. You've seen recent expansions in how you could use the American Rescue Plan funds. How you could use low income housing tax credits. We're going to be doing everything that we can through the fiscal and administrative policy to try to increase supply, to try to lower those costs for families. Some of that's going to take working together with Congress, Republicans and Democrats. But we're going to do everything in our power.

BROWN: The bottom line, though, Gene, as you well know, is millions of Americans are having a tough time getting through each day because of how high prices are. Yes, gas prices are coming down. But food prices for example are up. All the basics that people need to get through each day are up. When do you expect those prices to start coming down? As you know, the last report inflation was worse than expected.

SPERLING: Well, you know, Pamela, you're right, inflation, prices as you say particularly at the grocery store are still way too high. They are still hurting families. Even those families who no doubt appreciate the $150 they're saving as now the typical price at a gas station is $3.40 and the average is $3.68. That's all good news. It all affects the pocketbooks. But nobody is happy with where things are.

Now, to be clear, inflation has been relatively flat, the last two months, and the headline inflation has gone down from 9.1 percent to 8.3 percent. There are other positive signs of higher inventories. A surge of 700,000 people in the labor force, the potentially cooling housing market that we've said. All of those can help bring down home prices. But I want to be really clear.

When we're pointing out the job market, the strength and low unemployment, the resilience and still that so many families have in their checking accounts, and all of the actions that the president is doing from prescription drug prices to the strategic petroleum reserve that's helped lower gas prices, all of those things reflect the fact that we understand there is still too much pain and prices out there for typical families, and it's why we're doing literally everything we can, even if there is not a silver bullet, you take every single step you can.

We do see inflation moving in the right direction but not fast enough. And it's still too high and that's why for a president who puts working families as his top priorities, this is what he understands is challenge number one right now, bringing down costs for typical worker families.

BROWN: So can you just -- and we do have to go. but just quickly in a nutshell, can you give us a sense of when you predict prices will start coming down? Because bottom line, that is what Americans want to know.


SPERLING: Well, again, as we said, we've talked about the prices coming down significantly in gas prices.


SPERLING: We've talked about inflation being down about 9 percent in the next two months. You know, one hates to make predictions in such a volatile global economy. As I said, I do see higher inventories, I do see more stores and companies charging discounts. I do see more workers coming into the workforce. So I do have some optimism that we are moving in the right direction. But I understand the impatience that people want to see those prices come down faster, that the gas price, the significant falling in gas price has helped a lot.

But still not enough, and as you said, food prices, prices at the groceries still too high. And that is why we do everything we can because even if one area still is too high, if we can lower prices as the president has in the Inflation Reduction Act for the cost of insulin or prescription drugs.

BROWN: Right.

SPERLING: All of those put a little less pressure on family pocketbooks and give what the president, President Biden likes to say a little more breathing room for families to get by.

BROWN: Yes, I think I read today food prices up 11.4 percent. But, Gene Sperling, really helpful information tonight on the state of economy. Thank you so much for coming on the show for your time. We appreciate it.

SPERLING: Thank you, Pamela. Thank you for having us.

BROWN: We'll be right back.


BROWN: Welcome back. Let's discuss the interview I just had with President Biden's economic senior adviser Gene Sperling. We have Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist with us and Maria Cardona, a Democratic strategist.

So I want to start with you, Maria. As you heard in the interview there, I tried to pin Gene Sperling down a couple of times on when inflation, when the White House thinks inflation will come down. When Americans will start feeling relief. And he couldn't give me a direct answer and he explained it that, look, things are just too volatile right now. But is that acceptable to Americans who are really hurting right now?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's not acceptable to the White House. As Gene pointed out very clearly, this is something that they wake up every single day thinking about and prioritizing. That is why they worked so hard to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which Gene talked about, will bring relief to exactly those families who need it the most. He talked about gas prices coming down several times because that is -- was a huge part of what was really pinching Americans' economies, personal economies. So that has been a big relief.

He talked about how the most recent news on inflation rates, while it wasn't as good as economists expected, and that's why there was, you know, the big pessimism, the rate of inflation is going in the right direction. It's going down. The rate of inflation is going down. And that's exactly what we want to see. Not quick enough for all of us, right, including the White House.

BROWN: It's fallen flat the last two months.

CARDONA: Right. Exactly. And that's why they want to continue to do whatever they can to give American families relief. And what stood out to me is that this continues to be a priority for them. Republicans will continue to criticize. I'm sure Alice is already gearing up for her talking points. But the issue is, Pam, they have no solutions. They have tried to offer nothing except for criticism.

BROWN: And the bottom line is he did keep pointing out, Alice, that, look, we have a really strong job market right now and that is true.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. The unemployment rate is certainly something to brag about. But look, this comes from an administration that told us last year that inflation was a transitory problem. This was going to be very temporary and that's not the case. We're now leading into almost two years of this and inching up on a recessionary period.

Look, the issues that he talked about are small compared to the larger issues that impact everyday Americans and you were very smart to continue to bring it back to the issues that impact Americans. The pocketbook issues. Food prices are extremely high. Home prices are high. Mortgages are

high. Rental costs are high. And those are things he cannot deny. And you look at -- I appreciate his optimism. That's his job, is to paint a rosy picture. He would not answer your question on what the Feds are going to do and if they raise interest rates, that's going to be a huge impact on the American people and the economy and the prices they're paying.

But you look at the polling numbers, Gallup poll recently questioned Americans on your confidence in the economy. 42 percent of Americans say they feel poorly about the economy. And 75 percent say they don't see it getting any better. And with more talk, like we just heard about showing optimism, but not seeing any signs of progress, that is going to continue.

CARDONA: That's not fair, Alice.

BROWN: And I will actually --

CARDONA: He talked about the signs of progress. So you have to admit you talked about the job market, the unemployment rate and gas prices going down. But he continues to admit that there is a problem. And they want to solve it. Where are the Republicans that want to solve it?

BROWN: And I do want to note, this is actually interesting. My colleague Harry Enten has that polling that Americans currently say that economic issues represent the most important problem is average for elections since 1988. So yes, it is still important. But it is not higher now than it has been other years since 1988.

I do want to get to what's going on with the immigration situation. Let's talk about that. First of all, Alice what, do you say to Mayor Eric Adams who says that these Republican governors, what they are doing, busing these migrants to various Democratic cities, is a humanitarian crisis that is created by human hands.


STEWART: A humanitarian crisis created by human hands is the crisis at the border created by the failed policies of this current administration. When he takes away policies such as Title 42 and Remain in Mexico, that sends a welcome signal to immigrants to come into this country, and there is not a plan in place to do so.

The humanitarian, the crisis is also Democrats, Vice President Harris as well as other officials in the administration saying the border is secure. It's not secure. And the press secretary saying people aren't just walking across the border. That's not true. That's why we see border states, right now we see -- were on pace to have Customs and Border officials to have more than two million encounters with immigrants at the border.

And border states by sheer proximity shouldn't bear the burden of these failed immigration policies of this administration. And they were left with no choice but to provide sanctuary and relief in cities like New York and other places across country that say they're sanctuary cities and say they're willing to take these people in. If that's the case then Mayor Adams should be thankful that we're expecting him to live up to his word.

BROWN: I want to get your response to what she said, but also Vice President Kamala Harris saying that the border is under control. I mean, you have Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar who has a district on the border saying that's wrong. Why would she say something that is verifiably false?

CARDONA: What she was talking about was that today there is more border resources to go towards border security than at any other time in history. Under Democratic administrations. We have increased border resources, for border security than under any other Republican administrations, and so to me it is laughable when Republicans say that the Biden administration has failed to, quote, "secure the border," when it's been Democrats the ones who have always put forward solutions, including legislatively, for comprehensive immigration reform, to try to really fix this immigration crisis that has been going on for decades.

And it has always been Republicans, the ones that have shut the door. Conservative Republicans in 2013 shut the door on this. DeSantis is a complete hypocrite on this because in 2018 there was a bill by two Republican members of Congress putting forward real solutions, with Democrats and Ron DeSantis, as part of the Freedom Caucus said there was no way he would ever support that kind of immigration change.

And so I'm sorry, DeSantis is completely not credible on this issue. This is toxic to the exact Latino voters that he is trying to go after in Florida, the Venezuelans. He is harming the Venezuelan community. It's your familias -- Venezuelan voters in Florida that are being really hurt by this and across the country. And so to me this is toxic, not just for Hispanic voters but for all Americans who under that this needs to be humane, not chaotic and it needs to be a process that has been put in place by the administration but Ron DeSantis has completely flouted that.

BROWN: A lot of passion here. I'm so sorry. We do have to go. But to be continued because the situation is not going away any time soon. As Ron DeSantis himself said, this is just the beginning.

Alice Stewart, Maria Cardona, thank you. We'll be right back.

CARDONA: Thanks, Pam.



BROWN: Disturbing new details emerging this weekend about torture rooms found in Ukraine. The country's president today says that more than 10 torture rooms were found in several liberated areas of the Kharkiv region.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in a Ukrainian border town that was under Russian occupation just days ago -- Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Pamela, the horror stories are simply building in the areas according to Ukrainian officials where they pushed and find what life has been like under the Russian occupation. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying there have been 10 torture chambers that they say they found in some of these de-occupied areas.

One particularly close to the Russian border in a settlement called Kozacha Lopan, suggestions that electric shock devices were used and these were simply left by Russian troops as they fled. We've heard no comment from Russian officials on this. But I should say there is plenty of examples in the past like in Chechnya and other areas where the Russian military have deployed and this sort of tactic being used.

So yet more horror stories as I say, and it adds to the grizzly sense of foreboding as Ukraine retakes territory. We simply saw a mass burial site outside of Izium. Well, this day Ukrainian officials saying it's going to take them two weeks to exhume the bodies there and it appears as they do, they're finding increased evidence of the mistreatment, the violent death and possibly signs of torture of those who were buried there.

And this comes at a time of possible pause, you might think, in Ukrainian movement. There's certainly some continued advances. They appear to have crossed over the Oskil River. That's important because it means they can advance on the Russians from a direction they may not have been expecting from the north of Luhansk. There appears near where I'm standing here in Kramatorsk where a missile struck near the center of the city just last night to be some incremental progress by Ukrainian forces, too, but also heavy Russian bombardment.

And we're told to by Ukrainian officials the situation in the south where the counteroffensive continues remains tense. So a sense I think that Ukraine remains on move, certainly controls the narrative, increasingly vocal about what it's finding, trying to get global opinion to continually on their side but also to still in control of where the frontlines are with many wondering quite where their next push will be, Pamela.


BROWN: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you. We'll be right back.


BROWN: Ahead of fall and winter months, the Biden administration is debuting a video ad encouraging more people to get the updated COVID- 19 booster shot, especially those who are 50 and older.

CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard has more.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH CORRESPONDENT: The Biden administration has been rolling out public service announcements and paid advertisements as part of this education campaign to really encourage people to get their COVID-19 shots. And so this latest video ad is just the latest installments of this ongoing effort.


And CNN was the first to report this new ad. It's the first ad for the updated vaccine, which is now available at pharmacies and doctors' offices, and the ad specifically targets adults 50 and older. While between April and June of this year, adults 50 and older did account for about 85.6 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations and about 95.7 percent of deaths. That's according to CDC data but the data also consistently show that getting boosted reduces the risk of severe disease and death.

And now this latest rollout of an updated vaccine might just be the start of an annual routine where we could have a new COVID-19 shot each fall. Just like we have an updated flu shot each year. And the White House has said before that an annual COVID-19 shot possibly could be in the future.

Back to you.


BROWN: That's Jacqueline Howard. And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday. Millions of Americans right now are in the dark tonight in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Fiona crashes into the island. We are live from San Juan up next. And then later, more of my conversation with top Senate Republican, Idaho's Jim Risch. Hear the surprising comments that he made about his party's chances for taking the Senate in the midterms.