Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Texas Sends Migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris' House; St. Louis Flash Flooding Leads to Rescues of Stranded Drivers; Biden to Meet with Top Lawmakers Tomorrow as Deadline Nears. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 15, 2023 - 07:00   ET



VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: But this is not going down easy with this company, ARC Automotive. They are saying that their airbag inflators were perfectly fine and there's no issue. The safety administration is saying that's not true.



And CNN This Morning continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turkey's hotly contested presidential election is very likely heading to a second round of voting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pray that a fortunate is ahead of our country after the polls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The (INAUDIBLE) members are trying to block the system.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This looks like a celebration, there is no celebration yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The flow of migrants into the U.S. is slower than expected.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Over the past two days, a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters versus earlier in the week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This week has seen more crossings than any week in our history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still on high alert.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Ron DeSantis was back in Iowa trying to get his 2024 groove back.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We must reject the culture of losing. The time for excuses is over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For many Republicans, they view the next election as existential.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is can Ron DeSantis bring it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White House officials say talks have continued.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They need to have at least an outline in hand by the end of the week.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I really think the desire on their part as well as ours to reach an agreement.

REP. BYRON MCDONALDS (R-FL): It's time to bring spending levels back to pre-COVID and then we can talk about raising the debt ceiling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tatum knocks done another. He's incredible. Bang, a Tatum tornado continues, 51 for Jayson Tatum in game seven.

JAYSON TATUM, BOSTON CELTICS FORWARD: Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. I had to put on a special performance for her.


COLLINS: Scored 51 points for your mom on Mother's Day is a pretty good way to celebrate.

HARLOW: What were my kids doing? I love that his mom was there.

COLLINS: Yes, that was awesome. Awesome to see Jayson Tatum.

Good morning, everyone. We have a lot of headlines to get to this Monday morning. New overnight, a bus load of migrants dropped off at the home of Vice President Kamala Harris. This isn't the first time you've seen this but it is still happening again. Texas Governor Greg Abbott sending the bus to the Naval Observatory, as the V.P.'s residence is known, after Title 42, the COVID era immigration policy, expired last Thursday.

Many people were expecting a surge of migrants over the weekend. It did not happen, though, according to the Biden administration. Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas says the border crossings were actually cut in half compared to a week earlier. That was before title 42 had expired. He said it's too early to tell right now if the crossings have peaked.

But this is what President Biden said about it all yesterday.


REPORTER: How do you think things are going on at the border, sir?

BIDEN: Much better than you all expected.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Well, Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales says he disagrees with that assessment by the administration.


REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): I disagree. I represent 60 percent of El Paso County, 42 percent at the southern border. What I am seeing folks that are in detention are beyond capacity. And I've shared videos and other things to highlight that.

What is happening on the ground, though, folks are very anxious. People along the border are very anxious. And American citizens are getting roped up into this.


HARLOW: Let's go to our Polo Sandoval. He joins us live from El Paso, Texas, right near the border. Polo, good morning, good to have you. We're only a few days after Title 42 expiring and politicians are going back and forth on what it has meant. You're on the ground. You've been there speaking to the migrants in the shelters. What are you seeing?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, the president did just say it a little while ago there, but the fact is even he expected what he described as a chaotic situation for a while in his remarks about a week ago. But the reality is, according to his own DHS secretary, that is not the case. The number of illegal crossings did not reach the numbers expected in the days following the expiration of Title 42.

That is not to say that the DHS processing facilities that are processing all these individuals under Title 8 are not dealing with capacity issues. And then all you have to do is look behind me outside of a shelter here in Downtown El Paso to see that some of those shelters are still dealing with capacity issues with many migrants sleeping under Red Cross blankets this morning, still waiting to see where the journey will take them next.


SANDOVAL (voice over): Sunday morning along the border near El Paso quiet, a remarkable change from last weekend, a far cry from the anticipated crush of migrants expected.

MAYORKAS: The United States Border Patrol is experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters versus what we were experiencing earlier in the week before Title 42 ended at midnight on Thursday.

SANDOVAL: The reason he says --

MAYORKAS: We have communicated very clearly a vitally important message to the individuals who are thinking of arriving at our southern border.

[07:05:05] There is a lawful, safe and orderly way to arrive in the United States. And then there is a consequence if one does not use those lawful pathways.

SANDOVAL: With Title 42 expired, federal authorities now leaning on Title 8, a decade's old protocol for asylum seekers with lengthier process times and more severe consequences for crossing illegally, including deportation, a five-year ban on re-entry and a possible criminal prosecution for subsequent attempts to enter the United States, according to homeland security.

MAYOR JAVIER VILLALOBOS, MCALLEN, TEXAS: I think hopefully the immigrants all are adhering the advice. So, we are -- of course, we're concerned because we still don't know the numbers in Reynosa, even near in Reynosa and the numbers are coming from (INAUDIBLE). But as of right now, we are within capacity and we're logistically doing well.

SANDOVAL: Republicans in Washington pushing back on the administration's approach.

REP. MARK GREEN (R-TN): They can't predict the peak. CBP said 40 percent increase is expected with Title 42 gone. That is another 9 million people in two years. I mean, they've already let 5.04 million encounters and 1.5 million gotaways, as they have tried to managed border security and not secure our border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still on high alert.

SANDOVAL: Still, southern border communities are concerned about overcrowded and underequipped migrant processing and detention facilities. Migrants like Connie Barajona (ph) and her daughter, Daniela, released from detention. They're not sure if or when they will have the resources to continue their journey.

As migrants arriving in New York City, the mayor this weekend announcing that the vacant Roosevelt Hotel will now be used to house hundreds of asylum seekers, any measure taken as many mayors from around the country plead with Washington to solve the immigration issue once and for all.

MAYOR OSCAR LEESER, EL PASO, TEXAS: There is no end game in communities like El Paso and the southern border. We cannot continue for infinity.


SANDOVAL (on camera): There's a figure that will continue to rise and that's the total number after asylum seekers that make their way into communities throughout the country. I've heard it time and time again here, Poppy and Kaitlan, that, obviously, these migrants don't plan to stay in these border communities. They set there compass to cities like Denver, Colorado, or certainly in New York, where we continue to see several hundred arriving daily. Guys?

HARLOW: That's what we heard from the mayor from El Paso on Friday as well. Polo, thank you to you and your team for the reporting down there.

COLLINS: Also this morning, rescue crews in St. Louis are responding, they say, to at least 15 calls of stranded drivers who have been trapped in floodwaters. More than 500,000 people in the area were under flashflood warnings. You can see here what that looks like. Storms are moving throughout the region. They brought traffic to a standstill and left roads closed, cars submerged.

Our CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now. Derek, I mean, what is the sense of what this looks like today and have the conditions cleared up enough for people to be able to operate in the road so far?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Fortunately, Kaitlan, the vast majority of the flooding near St. Louis has receded since this fiasco that occurred late last evening. But you can just see how this off ramp from Interstate 55 backed up traffic for miles. Of course, you heard about the fire department's responding to multiple calls.

So, what in the world is at play here and do we have more rain in the forecast? Well, you can see this kind of direct moisture plume from the Gulf of Mexico streaming into the central portions of the country, including Missouri.

And you can see the radar, the bulk of the precipitation just north of St. Louis. So, currently, we're dry. But during that period of about 4:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M., 3:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. on Sunday evening, that's when four to six inches of rain fell in the southern suburbs of St. Louis. That is enough to flood any major metropolitan, especially considering the bulk of that is concrete. So, not a very impervious surface, so, the water has to flow somewhere, right?

Now, the bulk of the precipitation will occur across the southern portions of Missouri. That's where the Weather Prediction Center has a slight risk of flash flooding today. You can you see these thunderstorms firing up. It's all thanks to a stalled out front of water (ph).

So, for St. Louis, you do have light showers in the forecast today, but the bulk of the heavy rainfall, Kaitlan, fortunately, will be south of the city.

COLLINS: Yes, fortunate for those drivers there. Derek Van Dam, keep us updated. Thank you.

HARLOW: President Biden says he's encouraged after staff level talks over weekend seemed to make progress on debt ceiling negotiations. Listen.


BIDEN: I remain optimistic because I'm congenital optimist. But I really think there is a desire on their part as well as ours to reach agreement. I think we'll be able to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Sources tell CNN the top congressional leaders involved in the talks will meet again at the White House tomorrow. Economists have warned there is really a crisis at hand if we don't raise the debt ceiling. It would mean nothing short of a global financial catastrophe.

And as we enter this week, pressure is building. Remember Janet Yellen, the treasury secretary said the U.S. could default as early as June 1st.

Joining us now is David Kamin, he is a former deputy director of the National Economic Council under president -- under the Obama administration.


He was an economic adviser under President Obama during the last debt ceiling crisis in 2011. I hope I didn't screw up your credentials there. I appreciate you being here.

So, we heard what we just played from Biden. We also heard the treasury secretary talking over the weekend ahead of the G7 saying she remains optimistic, also saying that she's hopeful that they found some areas of agreement.

Dana Bash asked the deputy treasury secretary to elaborate on that yesterday morning and he didn't have more to say about where those levels of agreement are, but do you believe there's reason to be hopeful?

DAVID KAMIN, PROFESSOR OF LAW, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW: Look, Congress should act, as it has always in the past, to raise or suspend the debt limit so the federal government can continue to pay the bills that are already due. Failing to do that risks the U.S. economy, the global economy and Americans' livelihoods.

I think we should be encouraged that there are ongoing discussions. With that said, budget negotiations this year were inevitable. It's reported that policymakers are talking about the amounts they want to give to annually appropriated programs, programs like national defense, research, national weather service and many others.

Republicans have asked for cuts of 13 percent immediately building to 24 percent. President Biden has said he disagrees with that, I think, for a good reason. With that said, the administration has said it is open to negotiations around the budget, as it should be.

HARLOW: Around the budget. I mean, that is the difference here. Open negotiation, dot, dot, dot, around the budget for the Biden administration, around the debt ceiling for McCarthy and the Republicans.

You're the former deputy director of the National Economic Council under President Biden. Given that you were in the room for some of many of these discussions, where do you think the White House would give -- KAMIN: So, I think the White House --

HARLOW: -- on the debt ceiling?

KAMIN: I think the White House has said that what they're willing to do is negotiate items that were already going to be discussed this year. Things like the annually appropriated budget. There are disagreements there. But they've got to reach a resolution. Things like permitting for energy projects with the administration and Republicans have both indicated that that should be a priority.

I think what the administration, I think, rightly says should not happen is one of the parties, the Republican Party in this case, trying to use the debt ceiling, which is a dangerous tool to try to gain leverage and gain wins like eliminating fund on the incentives to help address global warming, threatening millions of Americans' health care, eliminating funding through the enforced taxes against the highest income Americans.

HARLOW: But this is where we are.

KAMIN: So, I don't think that's where we are. I think where we are is that administration has said that they're willing to negotiate on the budget, which was already going to happen this year. We're seeing it seems like public reporting that that is a focus of ongoing negotiations. I think the administration has said the debt ceiling just needs to get increased. They're not willing to allow the Republicans to say that they have used this debt limit as leverage to try to gain policy wins. That is dangerous now. It's dangerous looking ahead. This is a dangerous tool that neither party should be using to gain leverage when it comes to enacting their own policy priority.

HARLOW: You have been a proponent of eliminating the debt ceiling. President Biden has not. Let me just play what he said back in October about this. Here it is.


REPORTER: Do you support the permanent repeal of the debt ceiling, sir?

BIDEN: Permanent repeal of the debt ceiling? What do you mean?


BIDEN: You mean just say we don't have a debt limit?

REPORTER: No debt limit.

BIDEN: No, that would be irresponsible.


HARLOW: He says it would be irresponsible. Why you think it not would? KAMIN: So, first, I think right now, what Congress needs to do is raise the debt ceiling. That's the absolute is the priority. The full faith and credit of the federal government should not be in question. Looking ahead, I do think this is a tool that needs to be eliminated or fundamentally reformed.

HARLOW: You and the president disagree on this front. I mean, he says that would just be irresponsible. We can't just have unlimited spending even though we sort of do in this country.

KAMIN: No. I mean, I think, first, looking ahead, there, of course, should be continued discussions around the budget including how over the long-term how to reduce the deficit. But we were here back in 2011.

HARLOW: Yes. We all remember it all too well.

KARIM: It is deja vu and in a bad way about back in 2011 when there was a Democratic president and Republicans had just taken control in Congress. And, again, the debt limit, which is just about paying bills that are already due, was put under threat. We should not keep repeating this. And if looking ahead there is opportunity to fundamentally reform this so that we don't see continued threats to the U.S. economy and also rewarding those who act least responsibly when it comes to the debt limit, we should do that.

HARLOW: I thought it was really interesting just to end on this sort of beyond the economic consequences, which are so apparent to everyone and hopefully Congress gets this, what Mark Milley said, the Joint Chiefs chairman, over the weekend about national security implications. Let's listen.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEF OF STAFF: China, right now, describes us in their open speeches, et cetera, as a declining power.


Defaulting on the debt will only reinforce that thought and embolden China and increase risk to the United States.


HARLOW: And sort of echoing what Avril Haines, the director of National Intelligence, was warning about a week ago.

KAMIN: So, I think Chairman Milley is right. The debt limit and a failure to raise it presents a national security threat. One of the elements that is key to America power around the world is the U.S. economy and people's willingness to use U.S. dollars and also to rely on the full faith and credit of the United States.

Congress failing to raise the debt limit will put that into question. It will put into question the basic function of our government, to just pay bills that were already due and put into question us as a reliable partner around the world. It is a self-inflicted wound, a wound that we can easily avoid, by Congress doing what it's done so many times in the past and raise the debt limit.

HARLOW: I appreciate it, David. Thank you, given that you've been in the room for so much of this. I really appreciate having you.

KAMIN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

COLLINS: Former President Trump canceled his campaign rally that was scheduled in Iowa and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis seized on that opportunity. The governor flipped burger and crisscrossed the state over the weekend ahead of his expected announcement that he is running for the Republican nomination for president. He made a surprise trip to Des Moines as well.

DeSantis stopped in a barbecue restaurant near the park where Trump was supposed to have an outdoor rally on Saturday night but ultimately canceled it because of a tornado watch in the area. Supporters had started lining up. DeSantis' allies were trolling the former president about this, tweeting that it was a beautiful Iowa evening.

CNN's Steve Contorno joins us now. He was in Iowa with Governor DeSantis. Steve, obviously, this is something that DeSantis want -- his campaign wanted to have to draw the contrast on Saturday night.

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: That's correct, Kaitlan. DeSantis has been making these contrasts time and time again, but they have been relatively subtle. He's not directly attacking President Trump and this is something we have seen for many Republicans who are unsure just how hard they want to go after the former president, because his base of support is still very strong and they don't want to upset those people.

However, DeSantis is making contrast with former president. He is talking about how his administration doesn't have drama, doesn't have leaks, a clear dig at the President Trump White House, which was often engulfed in chaos.

And DeSantis, for his part of this weekend, went right into the belly of the beast, right into the heart of Trump country. He's in Sioux County (ph), where he visited this weekend, 82 percent of those people voted for Trump in 2020.

However, I talked to quite a few of them who said they are not only open to Governor DeSantis but they are interested in moving on from Trump. This is a very evangelical part of the country. And there were a lot of references whether or not Trump encapsulates their values. And they were very interested to hear from Governor DeSantis, hear whether or not he is someone they can get behind and potentially be their nominee in 2024.

COLLINS: And we also saw Governor DeSantis throwing his support behind Daniel Penny, the former Marine, of course, who has now been charged with manslaughter in the death of the homeless man on the New York City subway system. What was DeSantis saying? I believe he was even fundraising on Penny's behalf. Is that right? CONTORNO: That's right. He tweeted a link to a fund fundraiser for Daniel Penny and then he posted this tweet. He said, we must defeat the Soros-funded D.A.s, stop the left pro-criminal agenda and take back the streets for law abiding citizens. We stand with Good Samaritans like Daniel Penny. Let's show this Marine America's got his back.

And this is something we have seen repeatedly from DeSantis during these moments of national controversies. He came out in strong support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who fatally shot two people in Wisconsin during those nights of civil unrest. He signed a proclamation declaring the woman -- the Florida woman who finished second to Lia Thomas in the national championship. She, of course, is the first transgender national champion. And he also -- when there were those protests in Canada by truckers, he came out in strong support of those truckers.

So, he has repeatedly seized on these moments to -- and used them to elevate, you know, certain sides in the controversies with his platform.

COLLINS: Yes. And important to note, that fundraiser that he is tweeting a link to would go to Daniel Penny's legal fees that he has incurred. Steve Contorno, thank you so much.

HARLOW: This morning, we're keeping a very close eye on the presidential election in Turkey, which could have huge implications for the NATO alliance. Stand by for updates on that.

COLLINS: Also, an unusual Mother's Day arrest after two people were caught trying to hide cocaine in a fake pregnant belly. What tipped off police? We'll tell you next.




BIDEN: Today, I come here to Howard to continue the work to redeem the soul of this nation, because it is here where I see the future.


COLLINS: That's President Biden speaking to the class of 2023 at Howard University over the weekend. He said the country is still in a battle against what he says are sinister forces trying to reverse racial progress that's been made in America. The president recalling his decision to run for office in 2017 after those riots in Charlottesville.


BIDEN: I don't have to tell you that fearless progress towards justice often meets ferocious pushback in the oldest and most sinister of forces. But on the best days, enough of us have the guts and the hearts to stand up for the best in us to choose love over hate, unity over disunity, progress over retreat, to stand up against the poison of white supremacists. I did my inaugural address to single out as the most dangerous terrorist to our homeland is white supremacy.


COLLINS: Just a few hours after the president made those comments, a small white supremacist group that is known as the Patriot Front staged a march in Washington, D.C., as you can see here.


Joining us now, our Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller. John, I was watching the president's remarks. He did not say Trump's name by name but it was pretty unmistakable who he was talking about, obviously referencing the way Trump equivocated after that deadly riot that happened in Charlottesville.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, I think when you have the president of the United States as a validator of theories that migrants coming from Mexico are drug dealers and rapists, as he said in the campaign before he was elected, when you see him sending a message to the Proud Boys in the nationally televised speech to stand by and, you know, be ready prior to the January 6th riots, you see these groups --

COLLINS: And saying he may pardon them.

MILLER: And saying he may pardon them just in the last week to you, is the kind of thing that has caused groups that, you know, may have fell far on the outside to believe that they have a mandate and the mandate from the president of the United States and somebody that they would like to see back.

So, the Trump thing is a driving factor but not the only factor. You see, a three way conglomeration of isolation, people would were left out, people who were outcasts. You saw the year and change of COVID where some people spent all their waking moments on a computer and went down what a federal judge last week called these dark rabbit holes that they never emerge from. And, of course, you see the groups who take outcasts and people who are isolated and say, no, you can be a part of this. Just drink the Kool-Aid, adopt the ideology.

So, what the federal investigators and intelligence people call RMVE, racially motivated violent extremists, is spiraling. And you don't have to look any further than the last couple weeks, the Texas mall attack, pick your active shooter. These things are embedded in all these.

HARLOW: We just the year mark of the massacre at Tops in Buffalo as well. How much harder is it to fight this than foreign terrorism?

MILLER: The challenges are, A, it lives on the internet, which is boundless. That's a lot of territory to cover for an investigative agency. The second piece is civil liberties, which is important. The U.S. intelligence agencies that would collect on Al Qaeda or Hezbollah or ISIS, you know, are legally barred from collecting intelligence on Americans, especially Americans on U.S. soil, which is a good thing, but that leaves all of this to intelligence assessments by homeland security, investigations by the FBI and an FBI investigation to where there is smoke in a discussion about potential violence, that's not wrapped up with criminal charges within 90 days, they're under a lot of pressure to move on and close that.

COLLINS: You know what this makes me think of as what we saw out of The Washington Post, what they were reporting this weekend about that accused -- so much classified information from the Pentagon, and how he fixated on guns but also about the idea there is being this violent social conflict.

And in this report, it said that he actually was worried that his own racist and violent statements would jeopardize his chances of getting the security clearance that he did get, that did grant him access to all these classified information that he then posted online in abundance.

MILLER: So, Kaitlan, let's break that down. You have got Jack Teixeira, who you just outlined what was going on in the background while wasn't leaking classified documents. You have the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, four Proud Boys convicted last week for being part of a group to overthrow the government at the Capitol. But a story that flew right under the radar was a guy named Hatchet Speed. And I remember it because how can you forget a name like Hatchet Speed.

This is a Navy reservist officer who worked in places like the Navy space warfare command, the NCIS, National Reconnaissance Office, very sensitive places, who was arrested for selling -- for possessing of silencers, told an FBI undercover officer that his inspirations were Ted Kaczynski, Eric Robert Rudolph, the Olympic park bomber. And here's a 41-year-old man in a very sensitive job who last week was sentenced to another four more years in prison for storming the Capitol while he was on probation for the prior thing. And that's where the judge said, you went down a dark rabbit hole that you never came out.

COLLINS: Yes. It is happening more and more.

HARLOW: Thanks, John, very much.

COLLINS: There was an unusual arrest in South Carolina on Mother's Day, no less, that because deputies say they pulled over a car with a man and woman who appeared to be pregnant. Well, when they questioned when the baby was due, the couple was giving conflicting answers confusing the cops.


Then the pregnant lady made a run. I should say, pregnant lady in quotes. She ended up giving birth to over three pounds of cocaine that was hidden in a fake prosthetic.