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Judge Rejects Meadows' Bid To Move Case To Federal Court; DHS Chief Mayorkas Joins CNN On September 11 Anniversary; Teacher Shortage Plagues School Nationwide. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 11, 2023 - 07:30   ET




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: This week, the judge in the Georgia election subversion case will hold a hearing, which may give more insight into when former President Trump will go on trial in that state.

Now, this comes as his former chief of staff Mark Meadows faced a major legal setback. A federal judge has rejected his bid to move his Georgia criminal case to federal court.

And just last night, one of the lawyers representing Rudy Giuliani in the Georgia election interference case told CNN that they do not plan to file to move Giuliani's case to federal court.

I want to turn now to our CNN senior legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, Elie Honig.

Elie, it is no longer we are imminently waiting for -- there is a decision in the Meadows -- trying to move his trial to federal court. What happened?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, FORMER FEDERAL AND NEW JERSEY STATE PROSECUTOR: Yeah, this was one of those Friday night specials. A big win for the district attorney and a loss for Mark Meadows. Now, he was trying to get his case moved over from state court to federal court, and in order to do that under the law he had to show that he was acting under the color of his federal office as the White House chief of staff.

Now, to that end, Mark Meadows did something really unusual. Two weeks ago, he took the stand. You don't often see a defendant take the stand, never mind in a pretrial hearing like this. But the judge found that Meadows was unable to explain the limits of his own authority as chief of staff. Therefore, the judge ruled against Mark Meadows.

He said -- the judge in his ruling -- "The actions at the heart of the state's charges against Meadows were taken on behalf of the Trump campaign" -- meaning not as chief of staff by Mark Meadows in his official job but really, as somebody working for the Trump campaign. So the judge has rejected this motion and for now, Mark Meadows will remain in state court in Fulton County where he was initially charged.

MATTINGLY: For now seems to be a key caveat there.


MATTINGLY: What happens next in this case?

HONIG: There will be an appeal. Mark Meadows, in fact, immediately filed a notice of appeal.

Now, this argument is being made in the federal courts. Where we saw that proceeding play out -- that was the district court for the Northern District of Georgia. Meadows will now get to automatically appeal to the -- what we call the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Now, there are 13 federal circuits. The Eleventh Circuit is traditionally known as the second or third most conservative circuit. I'm not sure there's really an ideological angle here but generally speaking, if you're Mark Meadows you probably want a more conservative circuit.

Whoever loses in the Eleventh Circuit can try to get the U.S. Supreme Court to take this case but you can never force the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. It's always up to them whether they want it or not. They take a minuscule portion, but this one has some important implications for separation of powers -- federal versus state authority. So we could be in for two more levels of appeal.

MATTINGLY: One of the things everybody was watching -- this Meadows- specific issue --

HONIG: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: -- was looking at it from a broader perspective, too. What does this mean for the other 18 people involved in this case? What's your sense?

HONIG: Yeah, so there is a couple of other people who we know have sought or may seek to remove their case to federal court. Jeffrey Clark has already filed his motion.


HONIG: He wants to get to federal court.

Trump's team said late last week that he may file this motion. Of course, he was the former president.

Important to know, though, the judge said each of these cases is going to stand on its own. "Even though I ruled against Mark Meadows," he said, "I'm going to consider each of these separately" because each of them had different facts. Each of them had a different job. That said, not a great sign for Clark and Trump that Mark Meadows lost his case.

If you're wondering, why would somebody care? Why would it matter if you're in state court versus federal court?

From the point of view of Donald Trump and perhaps Mark Meadows and others, you might get a favorable jury pool in the federal court. It would draw from beyond Fulton County. You just look at the stats from 2020. Trump did better in those outlying counties than in Fulton County itself.

The Court of Appeals -- we just talked about the Eleventh Circuit --


HONIG: -- known as a conservative court of appeals. And in federal court, you can argue for dismissal. You can argue that in state court, too, but you have a better chance of getting the case thrown out altogether if you get into federal court.

MATTINGLY: All right. Thank you for the rundown as always, my friend -- Elie Honig.

HONIG: Lots going on.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, breaking news we are following this morning.


North Korea and Russia now both confirming North Korean leader Kim Jung Un will soon visit Russia at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. North Korean media says that Kim will quote "meet and have a talk with Putin during this visit." It has not been said when exactly this is going to take place but as we've been reporting, South Korea says Kim is already on his way.

New York Mayor Eric Adams saying this city is struggling to handle the financial strain of caring for the influx of migrants. We're going to be joined ahead by the Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas. He's with us next.

MATTINGLY: And you're looking live at pictures of Ground Zero in New York City today, marking 22 years since the September 11th attacks.

We'll be right back.


HARLOW: This morning, we all remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost 22 years ago on this day in the 9/11 terror attacks. At Ground Zero, right here in New York, families of the victims will gather to read their names, as they do every year, and observe several moments of silence to mark the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash of United Airlines flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

[07:40:01] The first citywide moment of silence -- that will begin next hour at 8:46 a.m. Eastern time. At the Pentagon, a ceremony at the National 9/11 Memorial to remember victims will also take place this morning.

Brynn Gingras joins us now from the 9/11 Memorial Plaza in New York City. Brynn, good morning to you. So many heavy hearts this morning and they will all be remembered.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, and you can feel it here, Poppy. You know, it's an overcast day here in New York City, somewhat fitting for the mood that is here at Ground Zero.

I'm actually right by the south reflective pool. That is the site of where the South World Trade Center tower once stood. And we've been seeing family members come to this site this morning, placing flags as you can see. Some people are placing flowers, just taking a moment to reflect and remember, really, what this day means -- the lives that were lost on 9/11.

Just past this South Tower on the -- where the North Tower once stood is where that ceremony is going to take place beginning at about 8:30. And as you said, Poppy, that first moment of silence will be at 8:46 to remember when the tower was struck -- the North Tower. And then subsequently, five more moments of silence to symbolize when each tower was struck and then fell. The Pentagon was attacked and also, flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

And I've got to tell you -- I was talking to the president of this memorial site and she said there's one thing very notable about this ceremony and that's when we hear the names of those people who lost their lives, a lot of them will be read by children -- children who weren't alive when 9/11 happened 22 years ago.

And the purpose of that is to remind future generations. To make them realize the heaviness of today and to keep it alive in everybody's heart. Because, of course, there are so many of us who say I remember exactly where I was when that happened, but there are so many people -- so many young kids who were never alive during that time.

So that is the importance of today -- to remember those people but, of course, to also think of all those families who lost those loved ones on this day -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Of course, it is. It will be powerful to hear that in the voice of children, especially. Brynn, thank you.


MATTINGLY: Well, following the September 11th attacks, President George W. Bush established the Department of Homeland Security, unifying 22 agencies with a single mission -- to safeguard the American people.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The continuing threat of terrorism -- the threat of mass murder on our own soil will be met with a unified, effective response. America will be better able to respond to any future attacks, to reduce our vulnerability, and most important, to prevent this terrorist from taking innocent American lives.


MATTINGLY: Well, today, that agency, the Department of Homeland Security's sprawling missions span across terrorism prevention, law enforcement, border security, and much more.

And joining us now is the man who leads that department, Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas. Mr. Secretary, I appreciate your time, especially on this day of remembrance.

And, you know, I kind of what to start with what President Bush was referring to there, trying to reduce vulnerabilities. Trying to, I think, get in front of gaps that existed in the lead-up to 9/11/01.

What do you think are the most acute vulnerabilities right now when it comes to homeland security?

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, Phil, the threat landscape has evolved so significantly over the past 22 years. Today is a very, very heavy day as the individual who just preceded me so beautifully said. We honor the lives lost and we have a commitment to never forget.

We also have a commitment to keep our nation secure against an evolving threat landscape. The threat of cybersecurity. The threat of adverse nation-states. The severity and frequency of extreme weather events. The phenomenon of disinformation used as a weapon against our country.

The threat landscape is so different today than it was 22 years ago but we also are much more mature as a nation and as a Department of Homeland Security. We have evolved as the threats have evolved and America remains secure today.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, it is a -- it is a running evolution. There's no question about that.

A lot of times people look at immigration and look at borders in terms of homeland security. But I do want to ask you since you are in New York City -- it has been kind of at the center of -- or the epicenter of the migrant crisis in terms of inside the country. A number of newly arrived asylum seekers since spring 2022 surpassed 100,000 last month. Major costs.

This is what Eric Adams, the mayor, had to say last week.



MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY: Never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to. I don't see an ending to this. I don't see an ending to this. This issue will destroy New York City -- destroy New York City.


MATTINGLY: Mr. Secretary, the mayor has somewhat clarified his comments but not walked them back by any means. What is -- what's your response to those comments?

MAYORKAS: I would say the -- I would say the following.

First and foremost, we're dealing with a broken immigration system -- a fact about which everyone agrees. It is one of the rare things about which there's unanimity of views. And we need Congress to act, number one.

Number two, within that broken immigration system we are challenged by an unprecedented level of displacement in the western hemisphere of historic proportions.

We have responded with a model approach that has proven to work, which is to build lawful pathways --


MAYORKAS: -- for individuals to arrive in a safe and orderly way and to deliver consequences for those who don't meet them.

We are working very closely with the city of New York. We sent an assessment team here that devised approximately 25 recommendations. We are executing on those recommendations. We will address this together.

MATTINGLY: You know, you mentioned the system -- the model system that you have in place. There has been -- there have been calls from both state and local leaders in several states and localities to expand temporary protected status. Is that one of the options that you are considering right now, particularly as it pertains to Venezuelans and Nicaraguans?

MAYORKAS: A temporary protected status has certain criteria that are set forth in the law and we always evaluate the country conditions, which is what it is about. Is it safe for people who are present in the United States to return to their countries of origin? If it is not because of the conditions there -- because of war, because of extreme weather disasters, et cetera, then we make a decision. We evaluate the conditions in the country on an ongoing basis. We have no decision today.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, understood on that. But the -- there were I think 20 Democratic senators, including New York senator and majority leader Chuck Schumer who signed a letter asking for the same thing, saying that based on their view of the conditions on the ground it's merited.

You disagree at this point?

MAYORKAS: I don't -- I don't disagree with the fundamental point that we have to provide humanitarian relief to those who are in need. We want additional funding from Congress to that end. And so, with the fundamental value proposition, I agree wholeheartedly.

What we will do is apply and enforce the laws that Congress has passed. And temporary protected status is something that is set forth in statute and we will apply it as the statute envisions.

MATTINGLY: But isn't that essentially your authority? You can make that application if the finding is there.

MAYORKAS: It is a -- yes, it is. It is a matter the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security address together in consultation with one another.

MATTINGLY: You mentioned the funding. We saw --

MAYORKAS: You know --

MATTINGLY: Go ahead.

MAYORKAS: Oh, if I may -- if I may, Phil, we're also -- just an example of a broken immigration system. The statute provides -- immigration law provides that an individual who has applied for asylum cannot obtain work authorization --


MAYORKAS: -- until six months have passed since the time of application. If that were changed, that would be gamechanger.

MATTINGLY: And there is --

MAYORKAS: So we need Congress to fix the broken system.

MATTINGLY: There is legislation -- I think bipartisan legislation to change that timeline on Capitol Hill right now.

I do want to ask you before I let you go on the funding issue, Mayor Adams, yesterday, I think detailed -- or this weekend detailed significant cuts across agencies because -- citing the migrant crisis.

I know you guys have I think okayed almost $800 million to several states and localities. You've asked for an additional $600 million more. Is that just not enough at this point in terms of assistance to these localities?

MAYORKAS: Well, first of all, we're working very closely with the cities. We are confident in the work that we are performing. It is certainly a challenging time now.

We have asked Congress for additional shelter and services program funding to provide to cities so that they can address the individuals who are seeking humanitarian relief under the laws that our country provides. And so we have asked Congress for additional funding.

MATTINGLY: All right, and there's a funding battle underway on Capitol Hill, as we know well.

Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, it's a very important day of remembrance in New York City. I appreciate your time, sir. Thank you.

MAYORKAS: Thank you.

HARLOW: Well, ahead for us here, an ongoing teachers shortage plaguing schools across the country. What is behind it and how some school districts are finding creative solutions. That's ahead.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

So the new school year is in full swing but there is an ongoing nationwide teacher shortage and it is forcing some schools to get very creative.

Here's our Gabe Cohen.


BRIANA JACK, HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHER: Today's topic is biomolecules.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The impact of a brutal teacher shortage is clear as day in this school cafeteria in Lancaster, Texas. Two ninth-grade biology classes squeeze together -- 50 students in all -- taught by the only certified teacher available and assisted by a teacher in training.

JACK: For the students, that experience is difficult. There's a lot of distractions. As teachers, we have to pivot. We do the best with what we have. I feel tired. I feel very tired at the end of the day.

COHEN (voice-over): Lancaster ISD, south of Dallas, is one of many districts across the country scrambling to fill teacher slots, forcing superintendent Katrise Perera to get creative.

KATRISE PERERA, SUPERINTENDENT, LANCASTER INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: I don't want to call any parent and say we just filled it with a warm body.

COHEN (voice-over): So for some classes, the teacher isn't even in the room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And so, then, the correct answer here, guys --

COHEN (voice-over): This algebra class is led by a certified instructor in Louisiana with help from an in-person aide. It's through an online learning company called Elevate K-12, one of several that told me demand for these programs is spiking nationwide.

[07:55:00] PERERA: It's nerve-racking to not have a staff member in a classroom, but I know that we've been allowed to think outside the box.

COHEN (voice-over): According to Chalkbeat, which analyzed data from eight states, teacher turnover has surged since COVID. Education experts blame low salaries, growing workload, worsening student behavior, and hot-button political issues in the classrooms.

JACK: Now, what do I mean by be engaged during class? Participating.

COHEN (voice-over): And with fewer grads training to be educators some districts are hiring what are considered underqualified teachers.

SUSAN PATRICK, SENIOR RESEARCHER, LEARNING POLICY INSTITUTE: Teachers who are not fully prepared are not as effective in the classroom, and this is at a time when students really need effective instruction.

COHEN (voice-over): Susan Patrick's research for the Learning Policy Institute found one in 10 teacher positions are either vacant or filled by someone uncertified for that subject.

PATRICK: If students have an ineffective teacher for multiple years in a row they're going to fall even further behind.

COHEN (voice-over): At least 23 states have lowered certification standards to get teachers into classrooms more quickly.

Reach University, a nonprofit, is helping districts turn their support staff into certified teachers, offering free or low-cost training, starting with a bachelor's degree, to any school employees from classroom aides to bus drivers like Arkansas' Katie Lee.

COHEN (voice-over): So many teachers are leaving the profession. Why do you want to enter it?

KATIE LEE, TRAINING TO BECOME A TEACHER: I just see a lot of kids not wanting to finish school, you know, because they don't have the teachers that are able to be there.

JACK: Say it loud and proud, baby.


JACK: You've got to learn from your mistakes.

COHEN (voice-over): Lancaster ISD has started hiring retired teachers to help train their new staff. And for now, a teacher a state way may be better than the alternative.

JANIYA ARMINGTON, STUDENT: Before we got into this online class we didn't really have a teacher. It was just assignments and, like, notes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like the problem is just getting worse instead of better. It's kind of, like, sad because I want to learn.


COHEN: Now, districts have been trying to recruit and retain teachers with bonuses and pay raises. Hundreds have even moved to a four-day school week. And yet, in a lot of areas, this seems to be trending in the wrong direction.

And Poppy, for parents, the head of the National Council on Teacher Quality told me you should be asking your kid's school if their teachers are licensed -- and not just licensed, but licensed in the subject that they're teaching. And if not, you need to find out how the school is supporting those teachers and, of course, Poppy, their students.

HARLOW: That's great advice for all parents out there -- not something that I would think to ask, that's for sure.

Gabe Cohen, thanks for the reporting.

MATTINGLY: Well, we're following breaking news. North Korean leader Kim Jung Un on his way to Russia for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, according to South Korea. The significance of that trip -- we're going to dig into it ahead.