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Nearly 40 Million Under Flood Watches Across California; Biden Officially Notifies Congress Of Strikes In Iraq and Syria; Abbott And GOP Governors Visit Eagle Pass, Texas Today; Interview With Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). Aired 3-4p ET
Aired February 04, 2024 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
All right, we're monitoring several developing stories at this hour starting with breaking news in California, where nearly 40 million people are now under flood watches. Officials issuing a state of emergency and evacuations for some areas, severe rain expecting to bring life-threatening flooding.
Meantime, the White House has now officially notified Congress about a series of strikes conducted against Iran linked militias in the Middle East this weekend.
The US launched punishing retaliatory airstrikes in Syria and Iraq on Friday, and in response to the killings of three US soldiers in Jordan. On Saturday, the US and UK kept up pressure in the Middle East with a new barrage hitting 36 Houthi targets in Yemen. Houthi leaders now vowing to meet escalation with escalation.
Also at this hour, we are watching the US southern border. Right now, Republican governors for more than a dozen states are gathered for a briefing on the border crisis. Texas is going toe-to-toe with the federal government over access to the border. We are expecting to hear from those governors soon.
All right, first, the powerful atmospheric river hitting the West Coast. Parts of four counties in California have issued emergency evacuation orders. The storm is bringing potentially life-threatening floods.
The incoming storm forced scheduled changes for NASCAR and the PGA Tour. But as of right now the Grammys being held in Los Angeles are still on schedule tonight.
CNN's Camila Bernal is live for us near the Los Angeles River and meteorologist, Elisa Raffa is tracking this major storm system from the CNN Weather Center.
Camila, let's go to you first how are the conditions?
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey Fred. So the wind is picking up a little bit, but this really is still the calm before the storm and it's the time that officials are telling people to get ready especially if you're under those evacuation order zones.
Now in LA County, those areas include places near the canyons because the concern there is the debris flow, the possible landslides. They are also telling people to be extra careful if they are near the river or near areas where they know it is likely to flood.
Now, there are evacuation orders not only in place here in Los Angeles County, but further north in Santa Clara County, in San Jose, and then you have evacuation orders in Ventura County and Santa Barbara County. In fact, in Santa Barbara County, some of the school districts there have already said they're canceling classes for the children tomorrow.
Now overall, officials telling people in California to be prepared for widespread power outages because of the wind, and because of the probability of downed trees all throughout the state. There's already about 8,500 personnel in place and ready to go; that includes swift water rescue teams, helicopter teams, and in general, everybody waiting to see what they're going to be able to do or what they're going to need to address with this storm, which could be extremely dangerous.
People here in Los Angeles have been stopping by their local fire stations just to grab sandbags and prepare in that way.
I want you to listen to one resident that I spoke to and what he was doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: Once you saw, you know, it may be a bit strong.
JOEL COOPER, LOS ANGELES RESIDENT: We need to prepare for the worst and definitely, protect our house.
Bringing the sandbags over to the house, making sure we put silicone wherever necessary in the outside of any windows that may possibly have had past water intrusion, and just making sure we have some backup batteries for our flashlights and other electronic devices.
BERNAL: So you guys are ready?
COOPER: As good as we can be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: And again, they're telling residents, this is the time to prepare before it really starts raining or heavier rain starts to come into this area and everybody just being told to take things seriously -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Camila, thank you so much.
Elisa, so how bad will the second wave of storms be for California?
ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This is going to be worse than what Californians had just a couple of days ago and while LA already got almost a month's worth of rain just on the first day of February, so the ground there is already saturated. It is not going to be able to take much more rain.
This storm is intensifying. See that little lightning strike that pops up over the center of the storm, that is telling us that it is deepening and intensifying and look at the plumes of heavy rain that have already been lashing parts of northern and central California where there have already been airport problems in San Francisco, and we are already finding these gusts along the northern and central coast really peak. We are talking gusts up to 85 miles per hour.
In Monterey, you're looking at gusts over 75 miles per hour. Some of these gusts are hurricane force, and that is what's sending 170,000 customers already into the dark, power outages, and this is again mostly for central and northern California. We haven't even gotten to the peak winds and rains yet in those higher population centers in southern California.
Here is that rain risk, which is high. It is a high rain risk. It's a level four out of four and it's incredibly rare, not just for California before the US. It has issued less than four percent of the days that we have excessive rain, but it's responsible for 80 percent of the flood damage and 40 percent of flood-related deaths.
And we do that again going into tomorrow, another high risk includes Los Angeles, Long Beach and stretches towards Palm Springs as we go into Monday because this firehose of moisture really just lingers.
So we're looking at dangerous and life-threatening flash floods. River and urban flooding, so in the city, too, not just at the rivers; mud and debris flow, landslides possible, downed trees and power lines will be a problem, not just because of the saturated grounds, but these winds that we're talking about are incredible.
High-wind warnings with gusts up to 80 miles per hour, and then those hurricane force winds could peak over 90 miles per hour. Just something that we'll need to keep watching as this firehose of moisture just continues to pull itself into California -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: And Elisa, how rare or unusual is this?
RAFFA: Yes, I mean, we see storms like this this time of year, especially in an El Nino year, you know, when that ocean circulation kind of peaks like this, we do tend to see storms like this. But what is special about this one is it's really stalling. You could see the firehose of rain just continuing through Tuesday. I mean, look at some of these rain totals across LA, widespread three to six inches.
You know, if we get to six inch totals in LA, that's about six months of their rain for the year, okay? So it's a lot of rain. Also, we're dealing with that wind. A climate expert this morning was explaining that this storm is unusually strong, unusually close to the coast, and that is where you're getting these unusually intense winds. And on top of that, those oceans are warm and that fuels that sponge even more -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: That's all it takes. All right, Elisa Raffa and Camila Bernal, thanks to both of you appreciate it.
All right now to the Middle East, where the US is vowing to continue operations in the region after it carried out more strikes against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen Saturday. US Central Command says the strikes were conducted in self-defense and included Houthi anti- ship cruise missiles that were preparing to launch.
The strikes hit 36 targets across 13 locations that were aimed at military storage facilities, as well as other weapons used by the Houthis to attack shipping lanes in the Red Sea.
A day earlier, the US launched a series of airstrikes on Iran-backed militias in Syria and Iraq and that was in retaliation for last week's attack in Jordan that killed three American soldiers.
We've got full coverage of this developing story. Priscilla Alvarez is traveling with President Biden in Las Vegas, Jeremy Diamond is in Tel Aviv.
Priscilla, you first, what more are we hearing from the White House on the strikes and what the next steps could be?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Fredricka, the message from the White House is pretty blunt. This is only the beginning. They have said that they plan for this to be a multi-tiered approach in response to the deaths of those three servicemembers in Jordan last month.
Now, National Security adviser, Jake Sullivan said that there will be further action, but Sullivan along with US officials have not telegraphed when those would be or how or when they will happen.
Now, he did say that they're still assessing what happened or what unfolded on Friday and saying that Central Command is reviewing all of that while also preparing for another round of strikes. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We are still assessing the battle damage. Our CENTCOM -- Central Command is looking at the capabilities we reduced and the casualties that were incurred. The president was clear when he ordered them and when he conducted them that that was the beginning of our response and there will be more steps to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALVAREZ: Now, this is separate from the strikes that we saw yesterday. Those strikes were targeting Houthi targets. They have been targeting vessels in the Red Sea including US vessels and commercial vessels in a move that US and its allies have said could rock the global economy.
But all of it comes, Fredricka, as President Biden tries to strike a delicate balance between deterring and degrading the capabilities of these Iranian proxies while also trying to avoid being pulled into a wider regional war.
National Security adviser, Jake Sullivan touched on that briefly earlier today, saying that the response by the United States is going to be forceful, and it is going to be clear, but again, also reiterating that this shouldn't be read as escalation, but deterrence. Of course, whether proxies and countries in the region see it that way, unclear. But again, Fredricka, just yet another example of a region really on edge.
WHITFIELD: Priscilla Alvarez, thanks so much.
Jeremy Diamond, and to you in Tel Aviv, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to arrive in the Middle East for his now fifth trip to the region since October 7th. So, what will be the focus?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, his trip, of course, comes just days after the United States carried out those very significant strikes in Iraq and Syria against those Iranian-based proxies after the United States continued to strike Houthi targets in Yemen as well.
And so the Secretary of State will be trying to balance that military response, which the United States feels is needed to try and reestablish some kind of a deterrence factor to show that the United States will respond to attacks on its forces in the region, but to try and balance that military response with the diplomacy aimed at trying to avoid this kind of slow simmering regional conflict that we are already witnessing from exploding into a much more significant regional war that has, of course, been the aim of the United States, but there is no question that the temperature is very high as the Secretary of State is set to arrive here.
But what he will also be focused on very critically, is the possibility of another deal to release dozens of Israeli hostages being held by Hamas in exchange for a pause in the fighting, the entry of humanitarian aid, as well as freeing up Palestinian prisoners as part of that exchange.
We know that the Secretary of State is arriving about a week after the US, Egypt, Qatar, and Israel agreed to a broad framework that has now been put to Hamas. And we are still waiting for Hamas' response, but it could very well come while the Secretary of State is in the region, and he will be going to some of the key capitals, including Cairo, as well as Doha.
The Egyptians and the Qataris have been key mediators in this effort, and so the Secretary of State, no doubt focusing on that there. But he is also visiting Saudi Arabia, as well as well as Israel. And in those conversations, you can expect that beyond all of the previously mentioned issues, that he will also be looking longer term, and that is at the possibility that this conflict, this war between Israel and Hamas, could actually potentially be turned into an opportunity to try and see if there is a possibility of a two-state solution, of Saudi- Israel normalization as part of that broader conversation. And of course, looking as well at post-war governance in Gaza.
So a lot of short term critical issues on the Secretary of State's plate, but also very much looking longer term at the possibility of trying to establish some kind of a new normal in this region a more peaceful normal, if indeed that can be unlocked.
WHITFIELD: All right, Jeremy Diamond and Priscilla Alvarez, thanks to both of you.
All right, right now in the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, Governor Greg Abbott is hosting more than a dozen Republican governors as he continues his standoff with the federal government over access to the border. We'll take you there live.
Plus, is your city hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup Final? We have the long awaited tournament schedule.
WHITFIELD: Soon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott will hold a press conference in Eagle Pass with 14 Republican governors. That city has become a flashpoint in the immigration crisis. The governor's visit comes amid an all-out battle with the White House over the state's construction of barriers on the border.
Texas is continuing to build barricades despite a US Supreme Court ruling allowing federal border agents access to a state park along the border. CNN's Rosa Flores is an Eagle Pass for us.
Rosa, what more can you tell us about why these governors are there?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred.
Well, these governors have just been briefed by Texas authorities and including by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in an area that is about seven or eight miles from here. That's according to a pool note that we received because we were not allowed to be present, but I can tell you that we just gained access to Shelby Park and these governors are expected to arrive here to Shelby Park.
This is the area that Texas has denied access to Border Patrol. It's the flashpoint when it comes to immigration and it is the epicenter of the fight between Texas and the Biden administration.
FLORES (voice over): Eagle Pass looks like a warzone.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordering miles of razor wire placed along the Rio Grande and around a public park to block migrants like this group of Venezuelans from entering the US.
FLORES (on camera): They are trying to turn themselves in to immigration authorities.
FLORES (voice over): Texas shutting down 2.5 miles of border in Maverick County and denying US Border Patrol access.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Texas, very simply, is securing the border.
FLORES (voice over): County Sheriff Tom Schmerber says that Texas takeover puts local officials in a tough spot.
TOM SCHMERBER, COUNTY SHERIFF: It is creating some kind of a problem for us because we cannot get, like, in the middle.
FLORES (voice over): The weeks' long standoff between Texas and the Biden administration over command and control of the border in Eagle Pass has turned into a partisan rally cry.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): And now, it is as bad as it's ever been at the southern border.
FLORES (voice over): Dozens of Republican governors and attorneys general from around the nation and former President Donald Trump's side with Texas.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to express our thanks to Governor Greg Abbott.
FLORES (voice over): House Speaker Mike Johnson also said: "I stand with Governor Abbott."
He and House Republicans blame Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for the ongoing border crisis.
REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): That's why Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is going to be impeached.
FLORES (voice over): House Republicans looking to keep the focus on Mayorkas instead of new legislation. The last time Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform, it was 1986 and Ronald Reagan was president.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The most comprehensive reform immigration law since 1962.
FLORES (voice over): And while a bipartisan group of senators are pushing for a border deal now, the bill appears to be dead on arrival in the House, much of it due to the strong opposition from former President Donald Trump.
TRUMP: This is a terrible bill. Terrible bill for our country.
FLORES (voice over): Sheriff Schmerber from his neighborhood at Eagle Pass is calling out Trump for lobbying against a bill that both parties say is the toughest border security legislation in decades.
FLORES (on camera): Would you blame President Trump if the deal doesn't go through?
SCHMERBER: Yes, because it's going to hurt us. You know, I see that as political. President Trump, it is just self-interest.
FLORES (voice over): Magali Urbina, a Republican with riverfront property in Eagle Pass that is lined with razor wire says the border deal falls short of fixing the issue.
FLORES (on camera): Former President Trump has been lobbying against that bill. Do you agree with him?
MAGALI URBINA, EAGLE PASS, TEXAS RESIDENT: I do agree with him. Actually, I believe that when Trump was president, having them remain in Mexico, I think that helps.
FLORES (voice over): Meanwhile, in Eagle Pass standoffs like --
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: We are asking for human rights.
FLORES (voice over): Between the group of Venezuelan migrants already on US soil and state police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: You have to return to Mexico.
FLORES (voice over): Are daily occurrences that don't stop illegal immigration, instead just delay it for a few hours or a few days.
FLORES (on camera): And Fred, politicians from across the country are taking sides on who should enforce border security: The federal government or the state of Texas. These governors that are here today are siding with the state of Texas and I've got to let you go Fred, because I've got to hike about half a mile. The press conference is going to start in the next few minutes.
Back to you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Okay. I hope you've got your running shoes on. I know you do.
All right, Rosa Flores, thank you so much.
All right, still to come, more coverage of the dangerous storm system hitting the West Coast right now. Mandatory evacuations are underway in parts of California as an intense atmospheric river moves in. How residents are preparing next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [15:26:43]
WHITFIELD: All right, the first in the nation Democratic primary handed President Biden his first primary win in South Carolina. While voter turnout was low, he picked up the state's 55 delegates.
Biden gained momentum in South Carolina during his 2020 campaign when influential Democratic Congressman James Clyburn endorsed Biden's first bid for the White House. Clyburn spoke to Dana Bash today, and he contends, President Biden has not lost support among Black voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I think the answer is an emphatic yes, and the best illustration of that, he got 96 percent of the vote in this primary, but his largest percentage, over 97 percent was in the town of Orangeburg, where there are two HBCUs and a community college, and he got the largest percentage of the whole state.
So that demonstrates to me what I've been saying all the time that Joe Biden has not lost any support among African-Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: President Biden is already looking at another key state that will be a big test for his campaign. Michigan is home to a crucial base of support for the president, but that support may be wavering.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny takes a closer look.
REV. CHARLES WILLIAMS, SENIOR PASTOR, KING SOLOMON BAPTIST CHURCH: It's like two -- just the two old white guys duking it out.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reverend Charles Williams is bracing for a rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, exhausted at the notion of a nine-month battle for the White House.
WILLIAMS: Some may feel, I don't have any hope in a Donald Trump or I don't have a hope in a Joe Biden.
ZELENY (voice over): As pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, Williams was on the frontlines of soaring turnout among Black voters four years ago. He believes Biden can't win re-election through fear of Trump alone.
WILLIAMS: It's almost like your big brother, or your big sister saying, the boogeyman is under the bed, the boogeyman is under the bed. Sooner or later, you figure, you know, is it really a boogeyman? You realize isn't -- maybe, maybe this guy ain't the boogeyman.
ZELENY (voice over): One of the biggest tests facing the president is piecing together a vast frame coalition, particularly in Michigan. Trump carried the state in 2016 along with Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, but Biden flipped off all three in 2020, a blue wall that led to victory.
CROWD CHANTING: Ceasefire now.
ZELENY (voice over): His challenges are complicated by anger among Muslims and Arab Americans over the Israel-Hamas war made clear by relentless protests.
CROWD CHANTING: Shame on you.
ZELENY (voice over): Including as the president visited Michigan.
ADAM ABU SALAH, MICHIGAN VOTER: He's just not somebody that I can trust.
ZELENY (voice over): Adam Abu Salah worked as a field organizer for the Biden campaign four years ago. He said he will not vote for the president again, seeing him as complicit in deaths of innocent Palestinians.
ZELENY: By taking this stand, do you wonder if it will help elect Donald Trump?
ABU SALAH: It probably will. We have seen for years of Trump, we have seen for years of Biden, and people don't really see a difference between their presidencies.
ZELENY (voice over): It was nearly four years ago when Biden pointedly presented himself as a bridge to the future.
JOE BIDEN, THEN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I view myself as a bridge not as anything else. There's an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country. They're the people who are running.
[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
ZELENY (voice over): Those cheers rang out in the gymnasium of Detroit's Renaissance High, where these students are now following the presidential race.
EMANI WILLIAMS, MICHIGAN VOTER: I don't feel like he represents the young voter demographic at all.
ZELENY (voice over): It's the first time that Emani Williams and her friends can vote. Dante Parker said a vote for Biden is hardly guaranteed.
DANTE PARKER, MICHIGAN VOTER: We've been stuck in the system for far too long, you may even to venture outside of it to really make some progress now.
ZELENY (voice over): The Biden campaign tells CNN it will draw sharp distinctions with Trump and earn the support of voters concerned about their rights, their pocketbooks, and our democracy.
NORMAN CLEMENT, FOUNDER, DETROIT CHANGE INITIATIVE: We are not happy with Biden. But we understand that the other option is not an option that's favorable to us.
ZELENY (voice over): Norman Clement said voters are eager to hear what Biden would do in a second term, not simply what he's done or tried to do.
ZELENY (on camera): Are you more worried about people voting for Trump or more worried about young voters and others not voting at all?
CLEMENT: I'm worried about the protest vote. My message to them is that we did that in 2016. We held our vote. Folks didn't come out.
ZELENY (on camera): So for the next nine months, there will be a heavy focus on Michigan and those other blue wall states, like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, but before that, the primary comes here. That is February 27th. The Biden campaign is working to increase their support.
They are worried that any protest could show up in the primary on that day. Now, the bigger challenge of course is rebuilding that coalition that led him to the White House in 2020. The roadmap is there, the question is are the voters?
Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Detroit.
WHITFIELD: And back to our breaking news, millions of preparing for torrential rain, life-threatening flooding, and mudslides potentially as an intense atmospheric river takes aim at California.
WHITFIELD: All right, we are following breaking news out of California where a powerful atmospheric river is moving in. Areas of southern California including the city of Long Beach are preparing for more rain this weekend than they have seen over an entire year. The mayor says the city expects up to seven inches of rain starting today. This on top of the rain that they already received earlier in the week.
For more on the storm preparedness, I want to bring in Captain Jake Heflin with the Long Beach Fire Department.
Good to see you. So at this stage, what is the biggest threat facing Long Beach?
CAPTAIN JAKE HEFLIN, LONG BEACH FIRE DEPARTMENT: Well, I think it's the intensity and the duration of the incoming storm. I think that's what we saw happen the last storm that we had, a lot of rain in a relatively short period of time. And that really created some challenges for us with some localized area flooding, and it is part of our messaging. If you had some issues with this last storm, please make sure you're prepared today.
WHITFIELD: Have you all in the community even recovered from last week?
HEFLIN: Certainly, I think we've had crews hard at work over the last few days making sure that we have really built up and fortified and solidified our plan. We have a lot of resources that are staged, we have in addition to that backup generators, pump trucks, mobile pumps, and we have those pre-staged at locations where we experienced some challenges in the last storm.
So I think the city is doing it right. The city is prepared. The city is providing adequate resources. And certainly, we have a stockpile of resources that are available. And really, more importantly, going out and providing those resources to the city and the community so residents can come get sandbags, and be prepared.
WHITFIELD: So just as the name implies, Long Beach is located right on the water. So what might be some of the more unique challenges that you have to deal with?
HEFLIN: Well, I think we deal with swells, we deal with high tides. We deal with these types of storms. We've had experience in the past with this with some of our hurricanes and the tropical storm recently. But the point is, is I think we have a robust response capability, and I think we have our lifeguards that are working diligently on the shoreline. We're making sure that we're prepared, we're making sure that they are doing what they need to do to support that.
But more importantly, I think, we are encouraging the residents. We have the sandbags and sand bins full of sand at those locations to make sure that they are available to support them and we have the resources. Our volunteers are doing an amazing job.
Our community emergency response teams, our search and rescue youth, our police explorers, they are out there helping the residents put sandbags in their cars so our residents are prepared.
WHITFIELD: So Captain, of course you all have the resources, you have the equipment as first responders. However, conditions like this do heighten risks even for you and your team. So what are you bracing for?
HEFLIN: Well, I think we're talking about the impact. We're looking at potentially upwards to six inches of rain over the next few days. I think we have our swift water rescue teams that are out there patrolling the riverbeds. The swift moving water in the LA River and the San Gabriel River are really significant challenges for us as far as we're encouraging everyone to stay away from that. Don't go near the fast moving waters.
Also, one of the challenges that we saw are people driving through flooded intersections. If you see a flooded intersection, stay away. Don't go through the intersection. That creates additional challenges for us. In addition to that, if you don't need to be on the road, stay home. And that's really the goal here is we're trying to talk to the community to stay home, even puddling or pooling alongside the roadways create very slick road conditions and can be very hazardous.
So all of these are critical components to keeping our community safe. And the fire department, the city as a whole is ready to respond when needed.
WHITFIELD: All right, Captain Jake Heflin with the Long Beach Fire Department, all the best to you. We hope you and everybody there stay safe. Thanks so much.
HEFLIN: Thank you very much. Appreciate the support.
WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right, right now at the US southern border, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is meeting with more than a dozen Republican governors from across the country. Texas is in the middle of an all- out battle with the White House over the state's construction of barriers on the border. The state continues to build barricades despite a US Supreme Court ruling allowing federal border agents access to a state park along the border.
With me now is Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.
Congresswoman, Great to see you.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Good to be with.]
WHITFIELD: So let me begin by getting your reaction to Governor Abbott's defiance of a US Supreme Court ruling which reinforces federal access to the border or what do you think should be happening?
LEE: The last time I recall, we represent the United States of America. This is the federal government's responsibility, and that is immigration.
Immigration is the role of the federal government. It is the monetary role on the federal government. And it's the staffing role of the federal government.
The governor is presently denying the authority of the federal government, but he's also denying the law of the land, of the Supreme Court, which has indicated that our federal law enforcement, in this instance, Border Patrol agents have to have access to the Eagle Pass Park.
And so I frankly, believe that the president has to act in some way, charging Governor Abbott with illegal activity, even if he pretends that he is protecting the people of Texas, we want to protect the people of America, and the people of Texas. And we can do that when our state's including those governors who are now getting a briefing from a single governor, if we work together, we can protect the American people and safeguard the southern border, there is no doubt that we can do that.
WHITFIELD: Has that been a serious conversation about the possibilities of the White House, this president actually, you know, pressing charges against Governor Abbott.
This is the first I am hearing about something like this. So I'm wondering, is this a serious part of conversations among Democrats and others?
LEE: I don't want to get in front of the White House and in front of the president, but I will tell you, as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and on Homeland Security, there is no doubt that Governor Abbott is violating the law as stated federally.
He is certainly going against the Supreme Court decision, and with that in mind, he doesn't have that superior authority. And so I think the White House is trying to respect the individual rights of states, but we have a higher responsibility, and that is getting all 50 states to work together, and all 50 states to abide by the law, and to not have a segment of governors who happen to be Republican, come off to a meeting and suggest that there's any basis for them violating the law.
So I would encourage the White House, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security, to find the appropriate response for this blatant disregard of federal law, and that is of the Supreme Court.
I think the American people are better when we all adhere to the laws of the land and that is not what's happening. We have had issues where we've tried to help provide a feeding program for the children of Texas and this governor has rejected the federal feeding program, causing three million children not to have a feeding program in the summer. That's an option that they have the right to do, but it still hurts Texans.
Well, I think what they're doing now hurts Texans as well, because the Lone Star Border Program has not proven to be successful. It has not proven to stop migration. It has not proven to be safe, because we've already seen a mother and her two children drown.
What more do we have to see to know that it is better to work with the federal government and the president of the United States, who is -- who is welcoming a potential Senate drafted budget and proposal to secure the southern border? We all need to look at that, and know whether or not we will go forward in that direction.
But what is happening at our border, and basing on the Lone Star effort that has been going on for more than a year, we can see that it proves unsuccessful and it is not making the border at the south more secure. The southern border is not more secure because of the Lone Star, going with your own programs that our state is trying to do. Let be the United States of America. Let's work with the president and let's get the job done by doing it together, not singularly and not violating federal law.
WHITFIELD: So Congresswoman, I wonder on Capitol Hill, US senators are expected to release the details of a new bipartisan border bill. We don't yet know the specifics, but some senators and sources say it would overhaul the asylum system and enact strict new enforcement measures, and it would also give the president the power to shut down the border if it is indeed overwhelmed any more than it is already.
So does this have a chance in your view? And is it something you could support?
LEE: Well, every legislative initiative that is put forward, every member of Congress, House and Senate has a right to review as relates to their constituents. I'm a problem solver. I've introduced over the years the comprehensive Save America Immigration Bill, so I'm interested in a fair assessment of how we can have a program that equates to American values.
We are the nation with the State of Liberty in our harbor, and so we have welcomed immigrants who have helped to build this land, but we are a nation of laws, a nation of immigrants and immigration is an issue that is a federal issue.
I will be concerned if what this plan and proposal does is it closes the door to legal immigration and it impacts those who have status and are here legally, and puts them in jeopardy or separates families or doesn't allow DACA status, young people to be able to access citizenship.
And so I think the answer will be, I will be part of the problem solving. I'm on the Border Security Committee. I'm on the Immigration Subcommittee. I'm on Homeland Security. Yes, I will be part of that process of solving the problem, but I will not jeopardize the legal immigration system that some may wish to put forward.
And I would caution my Republican friends that they be more open to a plan and not listen and be driven to directions by the former president of the United States who indicates that everything he stands on is about his election in 2024.
It's not about solving the problem helping the American people or helping slow migration, it is his election and his election particularly that will not be the basis on how to solve the immigration issue or the issues at the border or to stop the charade of the administration that we've had.
We must safeguard these families. We must have legal immigration. And we must ensure that systems work that are governed by the federal government and not individual operatives, individual states. That is just enough.
WHITFIELD: All right, yes, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. We will leave it there. Thank you so much for being with us this Sunday. Appreciate it.
LEE: Thank you for having me.
WHITFIELD: Coming up, we finally know which US city will host the 2026 FIFA World Cup final. The official tournament schedule next.
WHITFIELD: All right, a record 48 teams will compete in more than a hundred matches across the US, Mexico, and Canada in the 2026 World Cup. Is it coming to a city near you?
CNN World Sport anchor, Don Riddell is with us now.
Big news for Mexico and big news for United States. Where are all the great cities that are going to host the World Cup.
DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT HOST: So we knew the cities and the venues, but what we didn't know was which games they would get. So literally within the last few minutes, they have announced that the tournament will kick off in Mexico City at the Azteca Stadium, which is an iconic stadium. It is by the way, where Pele and Diego Maradona were crowned World Champions in 1970 and 1986.
American fans are going to want to hear where their team is going to be playing in the group stage. So that's going to be Los Angeles, which of course is a huge soccer city, and also Seattle. So two group games in LA, one in Seattle.
RIDDELL: There are 11 host cities in the United States. They are all going to be getting four or five games in the group stage alone.
Dallas is going to have the most amount of games with nine. But the final is going to be played in New York-New Jersey, which is a surprise. I think a lot of people thought it was going to be Dallas.
RIDDELL: Atlanta, where we are is going to have eight games. Atlanta will have a semi along with Dallas, and of course, games in Canada as well, Toronto is going to have the first Canadian home game in that tournament.
WHITFIELD: I am writing down the cities, just in case I happen to be in any of these cities...
RIDDELL: Those are really the key details.
WHITFIELD: ... while that is going on.
RIDDELL: Yes, when they made the announcement, they also said the bronze medal game, the kind of, the sort of the third-fourth game, which typically nobody really cares about is going to be in Miami. Of course, Lionel Messi plays for Miami, but he won't want to be playing --
WHITFIELD: He better show up.
RIDDELL: But he won't want to be playing ...
WHITFIELD: Just saying.
RIDDELL: ... in that game.
WHITFIELD: Oh my goodness.
RIDDELL: You want to be in the final.
WHITFIELD: Okay. And I say you better show up because lately he's not showing up at everything where people expect him to show up. What's going on?
RIDDELL: Did you have tickets for the game here?\
WHITFIELD: Yes, I did.
RIDDELL: You did. Yes. I see what you did, yes.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And he was absent.
RIDDELL: I was at that game when Miami played Atlanta.
WHITFIELD: I won't hold it against him, but --
RIDDELL: And he didn't show up at all. More controversy, I suppose. Because Inter Miami are on a preseason tour of -- you know, before the MLS season starts. They played in Hong Kong and he didn't come off the bench.
And there were 40,000 fans in the stadium. A lot of them have paid through the nose for their tickets.
RIDDELL: He was booed at the end when he hadn't come off the bench. And so --
WHITFIELD: This is not a good trend.
RIDDELL: Yes. I mean --
WHITFIELD: It is not good.
RIDDELL: It's sports. It's sport. Tata Martino, you know.
WHITFIELD: I get it. Yes.
RIDDELL: He is not Taylor Swift.
RIDDELL: But Taylor Swift stays on the bench. There are no shows.
WHITFIELD: Right. If you're not feeling up to it, I think people understand, but if there is --
RIDDELL: Anyway, the government of Hong Kong says they want an explanation. Tata Martino, the team coach says it was a late decision based on the advice of the medical team.
WHITFIELD: All right, very good.
RIDDELL: He's dealing with an injury.
WHITFIELD: All right, fine. Fair enough. We'll give him, you know.
RIDDELL: Give him a pass.
WHITFIELD: Yes, we'll give him a pass on that.
All right, Don Riddell, thank you so much.
All right, the CNN original series, "The Many Lives of Martha Stewart" returns tonight with its final two episodes. And this week, we look at the legal battle that nearly brought down Martha's empire. How she orchestrated a powerful comeback, and how she remains a relevant cultural force today. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA STEWART, TV PERSONALITY: This is showing that a good idea can lead to an excellent company can lead to a wonderful IPO.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: But it also can lead to jealousy. People not liking people who succeed and people who go after you.
STEWART: That's right.
KING: Right. Altruism.
STEWART: That seems to be the American way, isn't it?
I thought that things were going along just great. A wonderful family, a beautiful daughter, a fantastic business.
KING: What have you had that was a failure? Because you've been so successful, there has to be something that didn't go right.
STEWART: In business, not much.
KING: Not much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Martha Stewart was at the height of her wealth, the height of her glory. She could do no wrong.
STEWART: And then something like this happens.
REPORTER: Tough questions these days for Martha Stewart.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": A federal prosecutor tells CNN that Martha Stewart is among those under investigation of a suspected insider trading.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden, here was Martha Stewart, a picture of perfection and she is under investigation by the Feds. It was shocking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Indeed. Well, be sure to tune in, the final two all-new episodes of "The Many Lives of Martha Stewart" aired tonight, 9:00 PM Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.