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Severe Winter Storm Hits Southern California; U.S. Senate Releases Text of Bipartisan Immigration Bill; Republicans in House of Representatives Announce No Vote Will Take Place on Senate Immigration Bill; Today: UN Security Council to Discuss US Strikes; Former Trump Official Dies after Being Shot in Carjacking; This Week: Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Trump's Colorado Ballot Case. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired February 05, 2024 - 08:00   ET



JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The defense had one witness, Jennifer Crumbley, but, of course, all eyes will be focused on was she telling the truth, was she not telling the truth. Jurors can deliberate normally until 5:00 p.m., but at this courthouse, they can deliberate through the evening tonight if they want to.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: All right, keep us posted. Jean Casarez, thank you.

And CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a little bit more scared this time. You know, the warnings, you know, we had an order to evacuate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's just so much water accumulating here in Topanga Creek. It's really getting very high, and then coming here onto the road.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me be clear, this storm is a serious weather event. This has the potential to be a historic storm, severe winds, thunderstorms, and even brief tornadoes. This is an all hands on deck effort.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow with Phil Mattingly in New York. And right now we are tracking a very dangerous situation in southern California with record breaking rain, major flash flooding, and mudslides. You're looking at a dramatic rescue this morning in San Bernardino County. A rescue team in a boat saved several people who were trapped in this car that was just swept away in the flood waters and then pinned against a tree.

MATTINGLY: As we speak, 14 million people across California are at risk of dangerous flooding. This is the scene in the Hollywood Hills where the National Weather Service is warning of potential landslides this morning. You can see the piles of mud and rocks and debris filling the streets. Torrential downpours have already dumped a month's worth of rain on L.A. Take a look at this car stranded and abandoned in the middle of an intersection. You can see how fast moving these floodwaters are.

And this, this is a video of a helicopter rescuing people who were stuck on an island in the middle of river in Los Angeles County.

HARLOW: Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us live in Ventura County. Good morning again to you, Chad. Talk to us about what you are and feeling and then what people can expect throughout the day.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's raining here again, and we really don't need that because about seven inches of rain fell up the hill, and all that is trying to wash down the hill. But it's raining very heavily. There's a transverse range, it's called a mountain range that's north of L.A. When you see pictures on TV, you see this land that's just flat. And yes, that area did get some flooding, six to eight inches in the streets.

But the problem is we have thousands of feet of elevation where the heaviest has fallen overnight. And up those hills, all that water is accumulating and coming down into the canyons. And some of the canyons have been washed away. Some of the roads are complete gone that we know already. But the problem here is that it is still raining. There are places with nine inches of rain already on the ground in some of these automated rain gauges, and another three to five inches still possible today. That puts over a foot of water on top of a mountain that eventually has to get back into the Pacific Ocean.

We are really seeing some problems out there, especially in the hills just to the north of L.A., and also to the north of Riverside. That's where all the water now is coming down the mountains.

MATTINGLY: Chat Myers with the latest, thank you very much.

Developing this morning, Senate lawmakers revealing that long awaited border deal and foreign aid package after months of negotiations. The $118 billion package breaks with decades old protocols to sharply curb asylum as the U.S. Mexico, and it provides roughly $60 billion for Ukraine and more than $14 million for Israel. Speaker Mike Johnson, he called the bill dead on arrival in the House. But here's how Republican Senator James Lankford, who negotiated the bill, responded to that.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): Are we as Republicans going to have press conferences and complain the border is bad and then intentionally leave it open? It's amazing to me, if I go back two months ago and say we have the shot under a Democrat president to dramatically increase detention beds, deportation flights, lock down the border, to be able to change the asylum laws, to be able to accelerate the process, no one would have believed. And now no one actually wants to be able to fix it and says I don't want to even debate it. I don't want to discuss it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Texas Governor Greg Abbott is taking securing the Texas border into his own hands. About a dozen Republican governors there from across the country flanked him. They were around him at this press conference yesterday to support his stance forbidding federal law enforcement from entering a park along the border.

Lauren Fox has all of the news from Capitol Hill. Rosa Flores is on the border in Eagle Pass, Texas. Lauren, let's just begin with you, and substantiative, what is in this bill?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this bill really does make substantial changes to how people who are seeking asylum in this country would be processed. It moves the process along more expeditiously. It also raises the bar as to what you would have to do in order to qualify for asylum. This bill also creates a news emergency border protection, essentially shutting down the border if daily crossing for a week average 5,000.


That process can begin at 4,000. But at 5,000 crossings a day, the administration has to act. That obviously is something that Republicans who are supportive of the proposal say would do a lot to make sure and crack down on southern border crossings.

Meanwhile, you have the political reality that is setting in on Capitol Hill, which is a number of Republicans have already come out opposed to this bill. You had in the House of Representatives Majority Leader Steve Scalise saying it will not come to the floor in the House for a vote. You also have a number of Republican senators railing against this proposal, including Senator Mike Lee of Utah who said that the Senate actually needs new leadership this plan is so bad, obviously taking an attack at the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who has been very supportive of this process. It's really unclear right now in if this bill can get out of the Senate, especially given the fact that senators and Republicans are making it so clear that their party is really divided on this issue.

MATTINGLY: There's no question about that. Rosa, Texas Republicans have been very clear, they want federal action on the border. That is quite literally what legislation from Congress would be. What's their response to this, if any, at this point?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have been talking to people here along the border about their take to this border bill, and, Phil, I've got to tell you, there's mixed reaction. Some people say it doesn't go far enough, others say it's on point, and others are still trying to digest the thing because it's so long.

But what is means for people here on the border, you've got to think about what Mike Johnson said, that this is dead on arrival. And so what it means for people, for example, here in Eagle Pass, is that razor wire, like the one that you see here, will continue to be in their community, and you've got to think about it like this. If you live in New York, you have Central Park. There are central

parks all over the country. We all have our green spaces in the cities where we live. For the people in Eagle Pass, Shelby Park is their central park, and all of a sudden, the state took over the area. They wrapped razor wire around the park, took it over, gates went up, and soldiers with long guns were guarding those gates in Humvees. That was their reality given the border situation.

And now if you think I'm away from the border, this doesn't impact me. Well, just this weekend, about a dozen governors joined Governor Greg Abbott here in Shelby Park, here in Eagle Pass, and not only were they supporting Governor Abbott doing all of this, taking over city property without the input of citizens, but they said that they supported states' rights to enforce border security.

You've got to think about it like this -- these governors are saying that it's states who should be enforcing immigration law, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has maintained that immigration is a federal function. And the point here being, Poppy and Phil, is that so long as Congress does not act on the border and doesn't fix the issue, states like Texas are going to continue taking matters into their own hands. And so we're going to see more of this in their communities.

HARLOW: Now, Rosa, it was interesting just in a handful of weeks ago that high ranking members of the Biden administration went down to Mexico to meet with the top Mexican officials, including President Lopez Obrador. Now he's weighing in on what the Senate has put forward in terms of this legislation. What is he saying?

FLORES: You know, Poppy, this is fascinating, because we know that historically, the United States has relied on Mexico when it comes to curbing illegal immigration on the U.S. southern border. There's no question to that. But we've always wondered, well, what is Mexico asking for in exchange? That's what we learned a little more about this weekend in a conversation that happened between President Joe Biden the president of Mexico. And this is according to Mexico's presidency office.

And he said that they proposed, Mexicans proposed a multiplatform plan to U.S. diplomats during that meeting, Poppy, that you're mentioning, and that some of those points on that proposal included $20 billion for development in Latin American countries, immigration relief for Mexicans who are already in the United States, and the lifting of sanctions for Cuba and Venezuela, among other things.

But the point being here is that Mexico is helping the United States curb illegal immigration, and Mexico is also asking for things in exchange. We're going to have to see how that plays out. but the other thing that the Mexican president say is that so long as the legislation, and he has not commented on the legislation, we're waiting for reaction to that. But he said that so long as it doesn't attack the root causes of migration, it is doomed to fail. Poppy?

MATTINGLY: No shortage of complicated dynamics across the board. Rosa Flores, Lauren Fox laying them out for us. Thank you.


Right now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is arriving in Saudi Arabia to de-escalate growing tension from the Israel-Hamas war. Why retaliatory strikes might not stop attacks on American targets.

HARLOW: Also, Boeing says there is a new issue with some of its 737 Max-9 planes. This is different. It's about quality control. We'll tell you the reporting ahead.


HARLOW: Welcome back. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expected to land in Saudi Arabia any minute now. His Middle East trip is coming after a weekend of U.S. led strikes on Houthi targets. U.S. Central Command confirmed strikes on Houthi anti-ship and land attack cruise missiles yesterday. This is one day after joint U.S. and U.K. strikes against targets in Yemen.

MATTINGLY: These strikes have become increasingly common as the U.S. goes after Houthi weapons that the Iran-backed rebel group has used in attempts to strike Israel. CNN has also learned that the U.N. Security Council will meet today to discuss these American airstrikes in the Middle East, a session called for by the Russian government.

Joining us now is CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen. Peter, we appreciate your time. Poppy was saying the perfect thing during the break. You have written several pieces about this which have really both raised interesting points and very real questions about the strategy here.

And I want to pull one thing that caught my eye, which is saying, you wrote, "Given the largely unsuccessful history of such U.S. strikes against Iranian proxy groups in the Middle East, the U.S. response along with any subsequent military action is likely to deter Iranian proxies from further attacks on American targets and shipping in the region." You make the case that to tamp down these attacks, the focus needs to be on Gaza. Walk through what the U.S. response should be, then, to the Houthi strikes?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think there's two different points here, Phil.


One is, I mean, obviously, these strikes against the Houthis are degrading their ability to carry out attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, that's great.

But the idea that they're going to deter them, you know, sort of, in the future, I think is not right. Bear in mind, Phil, that the Houthis have been fighting a civil war in Yemen for two decades. The Saudis ended the war and conducted 25,000 bombing raids against the Houthis. And in fact, have now -- are now in a peace -- ceasefire -- sort of peace agreement with the Houthis.

So the Houthis are able to take a tremendous beating, those bombing raids killed something like 25,000 people. So the idea that, you know, by launching a few strikes, we're going to deter them and their relationship with Iran I think is wishful thinking, which isn't to say that degrading their ability to go after shipping in the Red Sea isn't an important thing to do. But I think we have to be realistic about what we're trying to get done here.


HARLOW: You have made the argument in the last week or so that it's not a question if this is a regional conflict, it is a fact. You point that out in one of your pieces saying, look, this involves 10 countries. You list them out, four major terrorist groups. Dana asked Nikki Haley about exactly that.

The White House position, isn't at that point, right? Jake Sullivan's position is, they are distinct but related challenges.

Can you deter this if you don't have a realistic assessment of how wide this is?

BERGEN: I mean, well, the White House is in a tricky position. I mean, you know, they have their own sort of pretty much on stated red lines, which they won't take target targets in Iran. Well, you know, strategic ambiguity is sometimes helpful, which is you don't tell your opponent what you won't do.

HARLOW: Right.

BERGEN: You leave it open as a possibility.

On the other hand, you know, clearly, it is a regional war. You mentioned 10 countries that are either belligerent or you know, have been attacked in some shape or form by some of the belligerents. You know, we're the frog in the slowly boiling pot of water, and we're already at that point.

And ultimately, you know, there is a -- it's not an ideal fix, but what Tony Blinken is doing, you know, trying to get a ceasefire, release all the hostages, come up with some real plan for the day after, by the way, defunding UNRWA isn't part of that plan, I don't think because UNRWA is the one thing that's keeping all of the Gazans fed, housed, and educated.

So you know, none of this is easy, and you're choosing from a menu of least bad options, but I don't think -- you know, we have to be realistic about the kind of war we're actually in. One is, it is a regional war; two, the strikes may not deter Iran; and three, then you have to make very hard decisions about what you do next.

One approach with course is, you know, massive cyber warfare against Iranian military command and control that is A., plausibly deniable, and B., does really sort of interfere with our ability to communicate with these proxies.

Now, that may even be happening, we don't know. But that is certainly one option that the United States has on the table. HARLOW: Peter, to your point about strategic ambiguity, listen to

this exchange between Dana Bash and Jake Sullivan just yesterday on CNN.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You said it's just the beginning, and I just want to clarify, that means that there will be more strikes coming in the next few days.

JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What it means is that we will take further action. I'm not going to obviously describe the character of that action because I don't want to telegraph our punches, but there will be further action.

BASH: Inside Iran, would you rule that out at this point?

SULLIVAN: Look, sitting on a national TV program, I'm not going to rule in and rule out any activity anywhere.


HARLOW: That was that significant to you to hear him say it?

BERGEN: Yes, I think that moves the ball incrementally forward. Because I mean, a lot of times the administration has either on background or anywhere in public said, you know, we don't want a war with Iran. We are not going after Iranian targets. That does leave the door open a bit.

HARLOW: Peter Bergen, thank you very much. We'll talk to you soon.

BERGEN: Thank you, Phil and Poppy.

HARLOW: So this week, the effort to remove Donald Trump from the presidential ballot in Colorado, that fight is heading to the Supreme Court. What the justices could be looking at during oral arguments. We'll get into it.

MATTINGLY: And a former Trump administration official who was shot during a string of carjackings in Washington, DC has died.

Michael Gill was inside his car when a man got inside and shot him last week. Police say the suspect, Artel Cunningham shot and killed another man and carjacked two more vehicles before officers fatally shot him.

Gill worked at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and survived by his wife and three children.



HARLOW: So on Thursday, the Supreme Court will hear the case that could determine if Donald Trump is eligible to be on the ballot. Last month, Colorado's High Court ruled the former President engaged in an insurrection. It used the 14th Amendment's Insurrectionist Ban to remove him from the primary ballot in that state and for now, Trump's name will appear on the ballot as this appeals process unfolds.

MATTINGLY: But there are more 14th Amendment challenges in other states. Maine's Secretary of State reached the same conclusion as Colorado, a ruling from the Supreme Court could settle the issue for the entire country.

We are joined now by CNN legal analyst, Elliot Williams.

Elliot, let's start with the 14th Amendment being at the center of this case, what do we think justices are looking for here?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think justices are looking for the simplest way to make this case go away. It is very much in their interest as an institution to not be seen as putting a thumb on the scale of a presidential election.

Many of us remember Bush versus Gore and the outcome after that case and how the court was regarded by many, perhaps even to this day, as having helped influence a presidential election.

So I think there are many ways they can resolve this without actually weighing the question of whether the president is himself an insurrectionist.

HARLOW: I think it's stunning to so many people that the question like this would even reached the Supreme Court, but this where we are.


HARLOW: Anyone can listen to these oral arguments by the way as they're happening on Thursday.

What are you going to be listening for? Because oftentimes, how oral arguments go is how the justices end up deciding this case in terms of who gets the majority and why.


WILLIAMS: Yes. John Roberts, John Roberts, John Roberts, are you listening?


WILLIAMS: I am looking for sort of his way of asking questions and how he might be trying to steer his colleagues to unanimity. Again, I'm not in the business of pop psychology, but I think it's very much in the interest of the Chief Justice to try to have the courts reputation and integrity preserved here.

Now, I think the ways they do that are steering to some of the questions that aren't insurrection versus not insurrection. So for instance, they could resolve it by saying the Constitution says that Congress needs to have weighed in here first, and we can't touch this. So Congress take care of it. If not just put these folks on the ballot and then deal with it down the road. There are other ways they can address it as well.

MATTINGLY: Elliot, can we shift over to the election subversion case?


MATTINGLY: Because that has now been delayed. We don't necessarily know when it will happen. It's always been the thing that from a political perspective, people thought was the biggest threat to Donald Trump.


MATTINGLY: I think lawyers, I don't want speak for you, but will also agree with that assessment, because they're waiting for this ruling on immunity. Walk through what the process is from here.

WILLIAMS: Right now, the big picture point is that the case was argued I think about three weeks ago, before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most prestigious appeals courts in the country, probably the most prestigious one.

The fact that it has only been three weeks, I would say is remarkable. It can take months and months to bring these cases to a final decision. So this point, have still worked very quickly.

Now, I recognize that there is an election coming and trials coming and many other factors outside of the court that are sort of causing this public unease about the decision.

Now, it came out -- we came out of oral argument sounding like the judges were pretty unanimous about where they were going to go and find that the president was not immune.

Now, they may be negotiating amongst themselves right now as to once again trying to figure out how to come to some unanimous or strong opinions that they can all agree on.

But, you know, to get three really bright jurists on the same page, about a hundred pages of analysis, where they're all in agreement can be quite challenging.

HARLOW: Let's switch gears here and talk about this AXIOS reporting that a different special counsel, Robert Hur, the probe to remind people is into Biden's handling of classified documents, some in the garage, et cetera.


HARLOW: That his report, which he is required to write for the public to read, could come forward soon.


HARLOW: And AXIOS is reporting that the Biden team is concerned about it, specifically the optics, the fact that a report like this might have more detailed pictures and I just wonder what you're looking for in this report.

WILLIAMS: Same thing, it's the optics. It is not the legal question. And to be clear, there is no indication based on what was publicly reported about what was found at President Biden's residence is that there is any likelihood of anyone being charged with the crime here, it's just highly unlikely. Being sloppy, is not the same as being potentially criminal.

And there will be a rush to create an equivalency between former President Trump's conduct and President Biden's conduct and they're just apples and oranges. Number one, upon hearing of the sort of presence of sensitive documents, President Biden and his team immediately moved to bring authorities in and number two didn't obstruct the investigation, allegedly. Now, that's vastly different than former President Trump's conduct.

Now, people will see them as one of the same particularly if, as you said, Poppy, those photographs come out, and if you see boxes of photos, boxes of sensitive documents in President Biden's garage or whatever else, I think there'll be a rush to say, well, it's the same as Donald Trump. It simply isn't. It's just not the same under the law.

MATTINGLY: Elliot Williams, always good to see you, my friend. Thank you.

WILLIAMS: Thanks, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Well, we are getting new reaction to the bipartisan border deal reached in the Senate as the bill's future in the House is very much in doubt. More than 40,000 migrants had arrived in Denver over the last year. Denver Mayor Mike Johnson joins us next as the city implements new rules on sheltering migrants.