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CNN This Morning

New York Representative George Santos Facing Charges from Federal Prosecutors; Thousands of Migrants Camping at U.S. Border as Title 42 Set to Expire; Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY) Interviewed on New York City Mayor Eric Adams's Plan to Send Migrants to Live in Hotel in Rockland County. Aired 8-8:30a ET.

Aired May 10, 2023 - 08:00   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And Congressman George Santos could turn himself in as soon as today after being charged by federal prosecutors. And if that's not enough news for you, tomorrow the controversial Title 42 border policy ends, and the number of migrants crossing into the U.S. is already on the rise.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Look out to Friday, time is quickly running out to raise the debt limit, and President Biden is set to hold another round of talks with top congressional leaders as our nation faces a potentially catastrophic default.

This all is covered right now as this hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts.

Here's where we start. As CNN first reported, embattled New York Republican Congressman George Santos is now facing federal criminal charges and could appear in court as soon as today. The charges remain under seal. They are in the Eastern District of New York. But the Justice Department has reportedly been looking into whether he broke campaign finance laws. Santos has been resisting calls from Democrats and some New York Republicans to resign ever since reports revealed he lied about much of his personal history and his work experience.

Our Brynn Gingras is covering this live outside the courthouse for more. When do we expect them to be unsealed, and what reporting do you have on what they are likely tied to?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, much of the reporting coming from our colleague Mark Morales and Evan Perez, learning that George Santos could appear at the courthouse behind me as early as today. If he comes for this indictment that we're hearing has been filed, he would have to be, just like any other citizen, actually walk up those long stairway to the door. Of course, he is not necessarily like every other citizen. He will probably be swarmed by press when, if he shows up today.

Again, as you mentioned, this indictment under seal. It's not clear what charges the congressman could face. But we do know from previous CNN reporting that he has faced a lot of scrutiny about how he's made his money and contributions that he made, a loan to his campaign in 2022 about more than $700,000. Where did that money come from? This is all something we have reported that federal prosecutors in New York were looking into. There has been scrutiny about campaign expenditures. So of course, that will all be determined when the indictment is unsealed, which we think possibly today we will wet more information about that.

What we do know is that the Republican congressman, who again, just took office in January, he did not vote last night in Washington, D.C. Instead, he boarded a plane to come here to New York. So it's very possible we will see him here in Central Islip later today, Poppy.

HARLOW: Brynn, thank you very much for that reporting.

MATTINGLY: Title 42 expires tomorrow. According to President Biden, it's, quote, going to be chaotic for a while. Now, you will recall this is the pandemic-era border policy that allowed border authorities to quickly deport certain migrants. U.S. officials estimate more than 150,000 migrants are camped along the southern border right now. A DHS official tells CNN border officials encountered 10,000 migrants yesterday alone. CNN's David Culver is in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. And David, your reporting down there has been very eye-opening. What are you seeing and hearing today as we get closer to this deadline?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, Phil. You mentioned President Biden warning about this being potentially chaotic. We saw some of that chaos play out a bit overnight. We were actually monitoring a lot of the border wall here. And what you are looking while we're on the Mexico side is the U.S. side, that is technically U.S. soil where you see a lot of the migrants behind me just waking up in the morning chill here in Ciudad Juarez. And while they are on U.S. soil, they still haven't been processed to the other side of the border wall.

What we saw overnight was an increased presence of Texas National Guard, a mix, from what we could see, also U.S. Army soldiers. And it seemed at one point they were going to push those migrants back on to the Mexico side. Now, that didn't happen. And so then you saw migrants thinking, maybe they are going to process us. But that adds to this confusion. And it's confusion that has being playing out over several months, and it has led to at moments, some excitement, some hope, and then disappointment as they realize they are still here, still waiting, and really amidst really tough conditions.


CULVER: Echoing across the sandy landscape on the U.S. southern border, young voices shouting for water.


CULVER: Already on Texas soil technically, having already illegally crossed the Rio Grande, hundreds of migrants camp out between the barbed wire and border wall waiting to be processed for asylum. Title 42 still in effect. For this group that means they could be immediately expelled by U.S. border officials. The pandemic-era policy offering no guarantees for their asylum claims to be heard.


If it expires Thursday, Title 8 takes over, requiring asylum officers to process each claim, potentially overwhelming border officials, already strained.

Worsening this humanitarian crisis, the heat, some 90 degrees at midday. You see people bundled up in winter coats and blankets, useful for the night chill and to shield themselves from the scorching sun. We want some Mexican locals arrive to help the group of migrants, mostly from other parts of Latin America. They carry boxes of pizza, bags of snacks, water, and soda. But it's not a handout. They sell them to desperate customers who then crawl back under the barbed wire with their purchase as others wait for their fill.

But this, only a small portion of the tens of thousands in Ciudad Juarez determined to cross. Near to the city center, scenes similar to what is already happening and perhaps more of what's to come in U.S. border towns.

So for those migrants here in Ciudad Juarez who aren't in a shelter and aren't camping out along the border, some of them are just trying to find places to call home for a few days, a few weeks. One young woman told me she has been here six months. We're essentially in a construction zone that has been an abandoned building turned into a makeshift shelter of sorts. A lot of tents around me. Some have used blankets to cordon off certain areas, and then put a mattress, if they are lucky, or just some bedding on the floor. And you look around on the outside, and you can see clothes hanging up. This is where they have set themselves up ahead of any potential crossing.

This as more migrants by the hundreds, if not thousands, arrive hourly into this Mexican border city. Long dangerous journeys behind them, and by no means is this their last stop. They crowd around a hose of running water to wash up and drink. This man skipping the line, going to the source, bathing under the leak. Back at the wall, rumblings of hope. A truck from the U.S. side approaches, water shooting from the sides, helping to cool the hot sand, but also sparking false hope. Some in the crowd rush to fill their empty bottles as others warn it's not for drinking. That doesn't quench desperation.


CULVER: I think one of the visuals we have as we see a lot of the crowds building up, many migrants coming here to Ciudad Juarez and along the Mexico border with anticipations and hopes to eventually cross, is that there is this massive wave and that it's going to all come down tomorrow.

But in talking to a lot of these migrants, Phil, you realize, they are not looking at tomorrow necessarily as the date that they are going to cross. It's very individualized. Many of them plan perhaps to try tomorrow, maybe today, maybe in a few weeks. It's determined by their own situation. So while we may see a surge, it could be really just wave after wave after wave rather than one mass tidal wave that I think a lot of us are envisioning with the crowd that we see on this side. MATTINGLY: David Culver, great reporting. Thanks so much.

HARLOW: Republican county officials in two upstate New York communities are continuing to push back against New York City Mayor Eric Adams. They have declared a state of emergency in hopes of stopping the mayor's plan to send hundreds of asylum seekers to hotels in their counties. Listen to this.


ED DAY, ROCKLAND COUNTY EXECUTIVE: We are not going to accept what essentially is a New York City shelter here in Rockland County. And in point of fact, what they are trying to do, the way it's been described secondhand, is against the zoning laws of the town of Orangetown. And there will be a court case there, and, frankly, if you force the issue, what's happening is the law is being broken here. So that's a criminal event.


HARLOW: We'll talk about that and a lot more with Republican Congressman Mike Lawler. His district covers Rockland County. That executive of Rockland you just heard from, it's one of the suburban communities that has been critical of Mayor Adams's plan. It's good to have you, Congressman. Thanks so much.

REP. MICHAEL LAWLER (R-NY): You as well. Thanks for having me, Poppy.

HARLOW: Do you agree with the county executive we just heard from, or is there a role that Rockland and the communities in your district can and should play in taking in some of these migrants?

LAWLER: I agree with the county executive. Rockland County is not a sanctuary county. New York City chose to be a sanctuary city back in 2016. When southern state governors who were overwhelmed and inundated over the last two years chose to send migrants to New York City, Eric Adams called it morally bankrupt that they were doing that without coordination and cooperation with city officials.


He is now doing the very thing he decried by dictating to these municipalities that they are going to drop off hundreds if not thousands of migrants into their communities without any coordination or cooperation. Rockland County's homeless population is roughly 70 people. This would be five times that, that the mayor is seeking to drop off into this one hotel in Rockland County. They do not have the resources nor capabilities with their social service departments, with our non-profit agencies, to handle this massive influx.

By the way, I would just point out, we have already, in Rockland County, taken in many migrants. Our one school district took in 1,000 migrant students this past September. So this is not a situation where we are not participating. We're not helping where we can. But the county does not have the capabilities of New York City to handle this. And New York just got $1 billion in the state budget -- HARLOW: That's right.

LAWLER: -- by the governor to handle this, $1 billion.

HARLOW: And it is New York City that is funding what would take place in Rockland County. They're paying for it.

LAWLER: Except for four months -- and the problem is -- for four months, Poppy. And we asked them on a conference call yesterday, I asked the mayor's office, after the four months, who is paying for it? And they said, well, we'll try to round them up and bring them back to New York City. I said if they choose not to come back to New York City, who is paying for it? They said we don't know. That's unacceptable.

HARLOW: Congressman, New York City has processed some 60,000 migrants since last spring, 40,000 remain in New York City, and the mayor is talking about starting off with 30 migrants, getting up to 340, which is the number that you cited. And they are paying for it. Just to put a button on this issue, is there no role in which you believe the counties in your district can help, especially when it is being funded for this four months period, at least, by the city of New York?

LAWLER: Respectfully, I think you are simplifying the issue here.

Number one, the mayor is saying we are going to start out with 30, get up to 340. They want to fill the hotel, which can handle 340 people very quickly. And they said this is a pilot program, which means this is the beginning, not the end. So you're talking about hundreds, if not thousands more coming into the county. This is their initial decision that they are looking to do.

In addition, as the county executive pointed out, the hotel does not have a C.O. to operate as a shelter. So to turn a hotel, which can only take transient residents for up to 30 days, into a four-month shelter that houses 340 people, provides health care, laundry services, food and living, is totally unacceptable.

In addition, what happens during the day with these folks? They can't get a job. They can't get access to employment. And so who is actually taking care of them? This hotel is within a mile of two universities and a high school, and you're talking about sending single male adults up here.

It is totally unacceptable the way the mayor has handled this and the way the city has without any coordination or cooperation and communication well in advance -- they knew they were doing this, and chose not to discuss it with town and county officials until the very moment that they were looking to send them here.

There is a temporary restraining order in place barring the hotel from accepting them because it's in violation of the town code. So we'll see what happens. But I don't see this going well given the way the mayor and the governor have handled it.

HARLOW: On the debt ceiling, President Biden is coming to your district to speak later today about these debt ceiling negotiations that, admittedly, by both sides went nowhere yesterday at the critical meeting at the White House. And Speaker McCarthy was asked point blank, do you think America will default on its debt? And he said, I don't know.

Can you, Representative, guarantee your constituents that America will not default on its debt this summer, maybe as early as June 1st?

LAWLER: So Poppy, throughout this entire discussion I have had three parameters. The president must negotiate with the speaker and Senate majority leader, we must cut spending, and we must not default. Those have been my three parameters throughout. It's why I'm going to the president's speech today in my district to hear what he has to say, but also to take the opportunity to make the point to him that we have to work together.

All of us have a responsibility. Speaker McCarthy asked the president to meet. They met back in February, and then it took 97 days for the president to accept another meeting. That is totally unacceptable.

HARLOW: Just to --

LAWLER: And the day after this meet, now he is coming to my district to decry the, quote-unquote, "MAGA Republicans holding the country hostage". That is not the way you deal with this.

The president as vice president negotiated with house Republicans previously, and that's what he should do again.


HARLOW: He did, and the argument from the White House would be they learned a lot from what devolved after those negotiations in 2011. But just to get a yes or no answer, can you guarantee your constituents that we will not default this summer at this point? Or are you like McCarthy, I don't know?

LAWLER: I -- look, I am fully committed to making sure that we do not default, we cannot default.


LAWLER: All of us have an obligation to negotiate, and I'll just point out, House Republicans are the only ones who have passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling. Chuck Schumer could say until he's blue in the face that he wants to pass a clean debt ceiling, he doesn't have the votes to do that.

HARLOW: You --

LAWLER: And so, everybody has an obligation to put their big boy pants on and negotiate.

HARLOW: Let's talk about George Santos, he's going to be in court, possibly as early as today, and federal charges against him will be unsealed. Look, you have long called for him to step down. You reiterated that in the press release from your office yesterday. What should Kevin McCarthy do? What do you want the speaker to do of your party?

LAWLER: Well, I have said repeatedly, that George Santos should resign, and he should. His conduct is unbecoming, it's embarrassing, and it's disgraceful. We'll see what the charges are today. I know the speaker was asked about it yesterday, he made clear that, you know, he has a view on this that there's a process.

HARLOW: Now, this is all he said. Let me play it for our viewers. This is all he said, here it is.



REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I'll look at the charges, yes.


HARLOW: Should he do more than look at the charges?

LAWLER: Now, there was -- respectfully, Poppy, he had a press conference later in the day, and he was asked further about it. And he went in to explain the process that he has employed in the past when members have been charged. He's allowed them to go through the criminal process. But he has removed them from committees. George Santos is not sitting on committees, and so, obviously, he will not be participating in any committees, that's the speaker's process.

My belief is that George Santos needs to go, he needs to resign. I've said that repeatedly and believe if he had any decency or dignity, he would. We will see how this plays out. But obviously, he's not longing for this world in terms of being in elected office. And so, it's frankly a matter of time.

HARLOW: We'll see. He is planning to run again.

Before you go, I do want to ask you about the federal jury here in New York yesterday finding former President Trump sexually abused and defamed the writer E. Jean Carroll. And the jury awarded her a $5 million verdict for battery and defamation. Does this make you unwilling to support President Trump in 2024?

LAWLER: No, I said on your show the day after the election that I'd like to see the party move in a different direction. I think we need a robust primary process. Ultimately, the Republican voters in the primary will determine who our nominee is.

But the former president has a lot of legal challenges afoot. You know, including obviously yesterday's verdict. Other investigations, charges that have been brought in New York City, and he needs to answer for it. And I'm sure Kaitlan will ask them about it tonight. And he should answer for these charges that have been brought.

HARLOW: In case your party's nominee, will you support him and vote for him?

LAWLER: Look, I'd like to see a robust primary process. I've said in the past, and I reiterate again, I'd like to see the party move in a different direction. But I'm not going to talk about hypotheticals of where we are at the end of the day. You know, the Republican Party needs to be focused on the future and focused on the challenges facing the American people and not perceived grievances of the past or legal challenges facing a candidate.

HARLOW: Congressman Michael Lawler, thank you for being on, on such an important day, especially in your district. I know you'll be with the president a little later today. We appreciate it.

LAWLER: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thanks. Phil.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: A New York Jury has found the former President Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll. He's been ordered to pay $5 million in damages. E. Jean Carroll is here with us live in studio, for her first CNN interview since the verdict. Stay tuned.



HARLOW: Welcome back -- welcome back to CNN This Morning.

Quote, "The world finally knows the truth". That statement coming from writer E. Jean Carroll after she won her civil lawsuit against Donald Trump. A federal jury in Manhattan found that Trump sexually abused Carroll in a department store dressing room in the 90s and then defamed her by denying her claim. Trump has been ordered to pay Carroll $5 million. The former president reacting to the ruling on his truth social platform listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: What else can you expect from a Trump hating Clinton appointed judge, who went out of his way to make sure that the result of this trial was as negative as it could possibly be? Speaking to and in control of a jury from an anti-Trump area, which is probably the worst place in the United States for me to get a fair trial, will be appealing this decision it's a disgrace.


HARLOW: We should note that it was an anonymous jury. Joining us now is E. Jean Carroll and her attorney Roberta Kaplan. Welcome to CNN This Morning. We're glad you're here.


HARLOW: We all remember that you said, E. Jean, I'm trying to get my life back.


HARLOW: And here to try to get my life back.

CARROLL: That was like, yesterday was so -- I was such a happy woman. I felt like we had accomplished that.

HARLOW: You did.


MATTINGLY: Talk about what you were thinking as the jurist decisions were read off in your mind through --

CARROLL: We were sitting there, like this, Robbie's hand, it was like holding a block of ice. And we didn't have any idea what the Jury was going to do. The Former President is incorrect, the jury was not from Manhattan. Where was it from Robbie?


CARROLL: Yes, six men, three women. His kind of jury actually and so, when the verdict came in, she squeezed my hands so hard. I almost yelped, but it was a great moment.

HARLOW: What about when that first finding was found? This jury found that Trump did not rape you. What about that moment?


CARROLL: Robbie can explain the legal?

HARLOW: Sure. And I want you too, but I just wonder, E. Jean, what went through your head when you heard that?

CARROLL: Well, I just immediately say in my own head, oh, yes, he did -- oh, yes, he did. See, that's my response.

KAPLAN: So, look, New York law on sexual crimes like this is complicated, and it's not probably, appropriate for morning viewers. But the truth of the matter is, is that sexual abuse, which he was found guilty of, is a very, very serious offence. I'm not going to get into the body part situation with you, but it's a people go to jail for sexual abuse. It's a very serious offence, and most importantly, E. Jean brought this case because she wanted her name back, as you said, at the very beginning, she got her name back and the jury found that he lied. And he lied about her maliciously.

MATTINGLY: I don't think anybody was surprised by some of the stuff we heard from the Former President last night. Obviously, you've addressed him talking about the jury. Another thing that he and his lawyers have often spoken about is the lack of disclosure about a big Democratic donor funding part of this case. Was there a reason it wasn't disclosed, and did you view this as political in any way?

CARROLL: No, I just completely -- I just completely forgot that he even existed.

HARLOW: In your deposition?

CARROLL: Yes, in my deposition.

HARLOW: OK, Trump lawyers have called that Roberta assign of bias, it raises questions about the motives of bringing this case. And I wonder what the reaction is.

KAPLAN: So, every single witness, every one of those 11 witnesses who testified in this case, testified under oath and told the truth, not because they don't like Trump, but because it was the truth. That's what this case was about. Who was telling the truth? The jury decided that E. Jean was telling the truth. And there may be of witnesses who don't like Trump, there may have been jurors that Joe Tacopina said in his opening who don't like Trump. But that process was about the truth under the law and that's what the jury found.

MATTINGLY: I don't want to make this a political conversation. But the kind of dissonance between the moment yesterday on the front pages of all the newspapers.

HARLOW: All of them.

MATTINGLY: Getting your life back, something you've been thinking about and going through for decades. And then at the same time looking over and seeing, that man is also the front runner for the Republican nomination for president. And you listen to Republicans who were asked about this yesterday, and it is some version of what we heard for six years prior. They want to talk about it. DOJ, say there's something corrupt about the process. Well, how do you kind of reconcile that moment?

CARROLL: Here's how I -- yesterday, the old view of what the perfect victim looks like, totally changed.

MATTINGLY: What do you mean?

CARROLL: The old view of the perfect victim was a woman who always screamed, a woman who immediately reported, a woman whose life is supposed to fold up, and she's never supposed to experience happiness again, that was just shut down with this verdict. The death of the perfect victim has happened. Now, this verdict is for all women. This is not really about me, it's for every single woman.

HARLOW: There in the courtroom was an encounter and exchange between you and the President's lawyer, Joe Tacopina. He came up, you shook hands, I believe. What did he say?

CARROLL: Well, Joe Tacopina is very likeable. He's sort of like an 18th century strutting peacock. And he's people like him. So, when he sticks out his hand to -- first, he congratulated Robbie. And then, he was congratulating people on the team. And as I put my hand forward, I said, he did it and you know it. Then we shook hands, and I passed on.

HARLOW: Did he say anything and respond? CARROLL: No, he's a -- he's a hell fellow well met, he went on shaking

hands and smiling.

MATTINGLY: The response you got afterwards? You know, you are making the point, this is for all women. I think that there were a significant number of women who are certainly behind you in the case, who back to you in the case. In the hours since, I don't think we had a lot of time, I had to check your phone or calls or emails. What's the response been, given what you're laying out in terms of the perfect victim being shattered?

CARROLL: There are no words -- there are no words. I just now, saw the headlines. We -- I'm really sort of taking in the moment and the overwhelming flood of a lot of hate, that's part of it. But an overwhelming amount of relief and joy and the feeling of at last and the surge. There's a sort of feeling of victory that at last somebody has held him accountable in a courtroom. Thanks to Robbie Kaplan. So, it's such a mash overwhelming emotion.