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Mike Johnston is Interviewed about Migrants in Denver; Race to Replace Santos; Problems with Boeing Supplier; Music's Biggest Night at the Grammys. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 05, 2024 - 08:30   ET





Cities across the country this morning are closely watching what Congress will do now that the bipartisan border deal has been unveiled in the Senate. In addition to tougher asylum rules, this bill also calls for $1.4 billion to go to cities that are overwhelmed by this migrant crisis. Cities like Denver, where migrants are sleeping inside of tents during the bitter cold winter. Per capita, Denver is one of the hardest-hit cities. It has about 700,000 people and nearly 40,000 migrants in terms of who have arrived over the past year.

And the problem is so severe that starting today the city is going to enforce a limit on the number of days migrants can stay in the city- run shelters. So families can stay for 42 days before being removed. Individuals without children can stay for 14 days. According to our local affiliate, the city expects about 150 migrants to be removed from shelters potentially today.

We are joined this morning by Denver Mayor Mike Johnston.

Mayor, thanks very, very much.

You have been an important and a loud voice on this issue. Now we see the text of what the Senate has put forward. You wanted $5 billion for cities like yours in terms of aiding these migrants. This has $1.4 billion. Do you support the package as a whole?

MAYOR MIKE JOHNSTON (D), DENVER: Obviously the measure just came out last night, so I have not read the entire text. But I think what we were looking for was a bipartisan deal that would help advance the crises we're seeing on the ground. And that means we need resources to support the work, we need increased access to work authorization, both of which we're excited to see in the bill.

We don't expect it to be perfect. We know Americans have voted for divided government, and so they expect to see compromise where, will everything I want be in the bill, probably not. But I think what - the question for us is, will this materially advance the security of the border and the safety of our cities and the humanitarian response we're trying to put together. We know we can support newcomers in being successful here. We need resources to do that. We need work authorization. I think anyone that - that wants to know what that crisis look like should come to cities like Denver where, you know, we are at the breaking point.


JOHNSTON: We do not have any more spaces in shelters and we don't want people on the streets. But without resources, we don't have a choice.


HARLOW: We were just showing our viewers, our colleague Shimon's piece from Denver with so many migrants camped out in tents outside in the freezing cold.

On the week authorizations, you have been such a loud voice calling for this. In fact, you said a couple weeks ago, "there is nothing more un-American than having someone come to this country and telling them they can't work." This bill would change, make it easier to get work authorization for some of those migrants after they pass a preliminary asylum interview. And those standards are going to be harder.

Do you think that goes far enough in terms of expediting work permits?

JOHNSTON: I mean we'd love to have people be authorized to work the moment they arrive in the city, and then we can put them to work. They can support themselves. That's all they ask. Every migrant that arrives in Denver says, Mr. Mayor, I don't need any charity or support, all I want is the ability to work. And I get calls from CEOs every single day who want to employ these workers, who have hundreds of open jobs in the city. And so we think that is the most important step.

We know right now the tragedy of this broken system is, these folks can comply, apply for asylum, and have to wait six years for that asylum case to be heard and not be able to work in the interim. That's not dignified for them, it's not sustainable for us.

HARLOW: Do you -

JOHNSTON: We think accelerating that access to work is critical, and the asylum acceleration is critical.

HARLOW: Right.

Sounds like it's a step but you don't think it goes far enough.

Is the city of Denver -- are you still considering something you talked about recently, which is whether the city itself could employ migrants?

JOHNSTON: I mean we're looking at every possible option. We think the most important option is bipartisan federal action here that would both solve the federal challenge around work authorization, that would provide us resources. We think with that federal help we can navigate this and navigate it successfully.

You know, if the federal government does not succeed in bringing resources to us or work authorization, we'd have to look at every possible option because, as I said, we -- we're not comfortable having a city where we have moms and kids sleeping on the street in tents, and we also are looking at a $180 million impact to our budget this year without support. And both of those options are unacceptable to us.

HARLOW: Well, let's listen to one of those migrants that's been sleeping outside in, you know, freezing 20 degree weather. Here they were speaking with our colleague Shimon.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: He's telling us he needs a warm place to stay. It's about 20 degrees or so.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): There's no place to go, he says.

PROKUPECZ: And you can die from the cold here. You can. It's going to get much colder. You have to go inside, sir.


HARLOW: Today, as I mentioned at the top, the city is going to start reinforcing those limits on how long people can stay in city-run shelters.

Is there enough private shelter space, or do you fear that some of those that are pushed out of the city-run shelters are going to be right back there in the cold in tents?

JOHNSTON: You know, we've been working incredibly hard to connect people to housing services and resources. We've been very successful there. Our last count is there are about eleven families today who we don't have connected to services. We will have back-up congregant shelter sites. And so we're doing everything we can to be responsive. What we need is support from the federal government to help solve this challenge. It's, you know, without either the ability to work or the ability to have federal resources and the overwhelming continuing numbers. It makes it very hard to solve this for folks on the far left or the far right who aren't sure this is a pragmatic solution. I think the question is, does this materially help cities like us and does it materially help newcomers who are risking being on the streets of our country right now. And I think this proposal can help that.

HARLOW: Mayor, there was a city council measure just last week that would basically ban city officials from clearing out those encampments of migrants living in tents when the weather is freezing. You vetoed that measure on Friday. Can you explain why?

JOHNSTON: Yes, and this is not directly related to our migrant population. This was our efforts we're working on to help bring homeless people off the streets and into housing. Over the last six months, we've had historic success in declaring a state of emergency and then moving more than 1,100 people off of our streets and into transition housing. That's been very successful for us. We've closed all of the encampments in downtown Denver, which most American cities don't have.

So, we've been successful there. We haven't needed to perform sweeps during cold weather, and we don't plan to. But what we do want to do is be able to close encampments and move people into housing. And this measure could have impeded our ability to do that. So we think we all share the same goal, which is get folks off the streets into housing. We want to make sure we can be as aggressive on that as possible.

HARLOW: But last year, when you were running for mayor, you stood up an affirmation when asked if you would ban those sweeps during freezing weather. This is actually that moment. Let's play it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you stop sweeps when it is under 32 degrees Fahrenheit or freezing weather?

I'm seeing Lisa, I'm seeing Jesse, Terrance, Renda (ph), Chris, Mike.


HARLOW: Changed since that?

JOHNSTON: Yes, there are two different issues at stake here. One was about what we call large encumbrance removals, which is, if you have to move an encampment of 15, 20, 25 people, those require a formal seven-day posting and notice here in Denver under our agreement.


There's a separate -- we have in this city a camping ban that the voters have endorsed by 80 percent, which says that individual people, one or two people in a tent, cannot put up a tent in front of someone's home or someone's business and stay in perpetuity. And so the enforcement of the camping ban allows us to continue to do that. That's very different for one or two tents than it is for large encumbrances or large encampments. So, this conflated these two issues, which will make it very hard for us to get people in individual tents into places where they have better access to services like bathroom or - or trash pickup and other services we're providing in those broader encampments.

HARLOW: Denver Mayor Mike Johnston, thank you for coming and please join us again soon as we see what happens following the moves that are going to happen in Denver today. Appreciate your time.

JOHNSTON: Thanks so much for having me.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, immigration could play a role in the special election to replace former New York Congressman George Santos. Republican Mai Pilip faces Democrat Tom Suozzi batting to replace Santos in New York's heavily suburban third congressional district. Now Suozzi used to represent the district before resigning to run for governor. But in 2022, Republicans won all four congressional seats on Long Island, helping them win the majority. Election Day is next Tuesday and it could reveal whether suburban attitudes have shifted on crime and the economy.

And CNN's chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju spoke to both candidates and reports on how national politics is impacting this local race.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): George Santos' expulsion left the GOP divided and Democrats emboldened. Eager for a pickup in a district Joe Biden carried by eight points in 2020. With an experienced former congressman, Tom Suozzi on the ticket. But now a problem.

TOM SUOZZI (D), NY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: It's a tough seat. It's a very tough seat.

RAJU (voice over): Democrats fear Suozzi is slipping, and political newcomers Mazi Pilip on the rise ahead of next week's special election, as he faces an onslaught of attacks on immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Suozzi repeatedly weakened America's borders.

RAJU (voice over): With the migrant crisis visible even in this Queens and Long Island district.

MAZI PILIP (R), NY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: He is the one who responsible the open border.

RAJU (voice over): It's forced Suozzi to cut two ads defending himself.

SUOZZI: And anything else you might hear is garbage.

RAJU (voice over): And holding a dueling event nearby Pilip to press for bipartisan action.

SUOZZI: All she does is Republican talk points. She's on the conservative party line.

RAJU (voice over): And in an area with a heavy dose of independent voters and conservative Democrats, the GOP tried to tie him to an unpopular Biden.

SUOZZI: The Democratic brand is in trouble here, and we have a -- do a lot to overcome that.

RAJU: Why is the Democratic brand in trouble here?

SUOZZI: You know, we have a problem with crime in New York City, or had a problem with crime in New York City. It was very effectively weaponized by the Republicans. Immigration has become a very hot button issue here. Well, they're not only just trying to tie me to Joe Biden, they're

trying to tie me to the squad. They're saying that, you know, Tom Suozzi is a member of the squad. They're - you know, he's a far lefty. You know, it's ridiculous.

RAJU: But what about Biden specifically?

SUOZZI: Joe Biden is under water here in my district, but so is Donald Trump. They're both very, very unpopular candidates.

RAJU: Would you want to campaign with Biden?

SUOZZI: I can pretty much guarantee that the president's not going to be coming to campaign here. I'm not going to --

RAJU: But this is a huge seat. I mean don't you think the president, you know, could be helpful if he came out here?

SUOZZI: I don't think it would be helpful, just as I don't think Donald Trump would be helpful to my opponent.

And this race is really very local. It's Suozzi versus Mazi.

RAJU (voice over): But Pilip feels differently, welcome Trump to join her on the stump.

PILIP: He's welcome to help me. If he's - if he can come to help me, I will appreciate that.


RAJU (voice over): Pilip, an Ethiopian-born Israeli immigrant and Israeli military veteran is actually a registered Democrat and has only served as a county legislator since 2021.

PILIP: I register as a Democrat, like so many other immigrants doing the same things. But, you know what, the Democratic Party left me and many others.

RAJU (voice over): But she won't answer this.

RAJU: You haven't said if you voted for the former president, Trump, in 2016 and 2020. Why not?

PILIP: It happened three years ago. I wasn't even elected official. I'm trying to focus on this, and I'm going to try to focus on November 2024 election.

RAJU (voice over): Now says she'll back Trump if he's the nominee, as she defends him from his 91 criminal charges.

PILIP: I will support Trump.

RAJU: But if he's convicted, would you still support him?

PILIP: Again, I say, I don't want to answer on the even if he. He was great president. He did great things. And I -- listen, right now, what's happening with Trump, all this DA's like Alvin Bragg, they are politically motivated to run after him.

RAJU: Do you have the same concerns about his effort to overturn the election being charged on -

PILIP: I can't - I - I know that he didn't commit any crime. They are politically motivated.

RAJU: Do you think he was responsible in any way for what happened on January 6th?

PILIP: As I said again, he's going through the process right now. This is again to the same people who politically motivated trying to run after him. It is such a dangerous thing for our country. We have to stop it.

RAJU (voice over): Suozzi is hardly as effusive about the leader of his party.

SUOZZI: I would like the president to do a better job regarding immigration.


RAJU: If a pollster called you up and said, do you approve of his job performance, would you say, yes, I approve or no I -

SUOZZI: I approve of a lot of things he's done, and I disapprove of other things.

RAJU (voice over): A Pilip victory would deny Democrats the chance to tighten an already razor thin GOP majority. That's why Democrat haves out spent the GOP by nearly $4 million on the airwaves. But Democrats have been at odds on the strategy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mazi Pilip, hand-picked by MAGA.

RAJU (voice over): Suozzi does not embrace that attack as some Democrats fear that labeling her as MAGA could actually energize the GOP base in a low turnout election.

SUOZZI: We don't know what she is. We don't even know what she stands for.

RAJU: Do you consider yourself a MAGA Republican?

PILIP: You know, I don't know what MAGA Republican. I can tell you, all I care is common sense government.

RAJU: Now, in my interview with Mazi Pilip, I talked about some of the other key issues in the race, including about her views on abortion. She says she does not support a national ban on abortion, although she also said that she does not support codifying Roe v. Wade. She says the decision should be left to the states, and she indicated that she supported the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision. On guns, she says she does not support people having access to automatic weapons. Those, of course, are restricted already pretty heavily under federal law, but she would not support a ban on semiautomatic rifles, something, of course, known in Washington as the assault weapons ban.

And for Suozzi himself, he recognizes that this is going to be an extremely close race. He told me, it is a pure toss-up.



MATTINGLY: Our thanks to Manu Raju.

HARLOW: Taylor Swift caps a stratospheric year, it's fair to call it that, with an historic win at the Grammys, and a rare performance brings everyone to their feet.



MATTINGLY: Well, this morning, Boeing 737 Max 9 plane faces a new problem exactly a month to the day since part of a Max 9 blew out during an Alaska Airlines flight. The airplane maker, it discovered -- says it discovered issues with work from a key supplier for its best- selling plane.

CNN's aviation correspondent Pete Muntean is following this story for us.

Pete, what does this mean?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: This is significant, Phil. Another black eye for Boeing as it tries to clean up its reputation after Boeing's last -- the blowout last month on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9.

Now Boeing says it has found some mis-drilled holes on some 737s still on the production line in Renton, Washington. So, it's slowing down production, which means delayed deliveries of new airplanes. Not good.

Here is the new memo to Boeing employees from head of commercia airplanes San Deal. He says, "while this potential condition is not an immediate flight safety issue and all 737s can continue operating safely, we currently believe we will have to perform rework on about 50 undelivered planes."

Deal says the goal now is to go slow to get it right, but insists that these issues are a result of work by an unnamed major supplier to Boeing.

We have reached out to Spirit AeroSystems, which is the company that builds the 737 Max fuselage. Boeing says some suppliers are delivering incomplete work prior to final assembly.

This is coming at a huge week for this investigation. Today, the FAA is holding a teleconference with reporters about its audit of Boeing's quality control. Tomorrow the FAA administrator will appear before lawmakers who have specifically asked for him to address its oversight of Boeing. And by midweek we could see a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, the incident that kicked off all of this renewed scrutiny of Boeing.

NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy tells me the preliminary report is in its final stages right now. Also in this memo Boeing addressed its so- called quality control stand-down that happened the week before last. That's when it suspended production for an entire day in Renton. It says it gathered more than a thousand improvement ideas from workers. And Boeing now says it's ordering new tools and stands so workers can access the planes on the production line more easily.

MATTINGLY: All right, Pete Muntean for us in Washington, thank you.

Historic moments and big surprises at last night's Grammys. Taylor Swift making history as the first person to win Album of the Year four times after announcing a brand-new album earlier in the program.

HARLOW: Miley Cyrus giving a show-stopping performance and taking home her first Grammy. Plus, exciting appearances by some music legends.

Elizabeth Wagmeister live in Los Angeles with more.

What a night. Are we surprised about Taylor's announcement?


You know, I don't think we can ever be surprised with Taylor. She is known to make these huge announcements at award shows. But, of course, everybody was shocked that she said she has a new album coming on April 19th. I don't know how she has the time to do it all. She's been on a tour. She's been at a lot of football games. We, hopefully,, will see her at the Super Bowl. And now we have seen her make history, becoming the only artist of all time to win four times for Album of the Year. But, again, also making this huge announcement that she has a new album.

Now another moment that involves Taylor that everybody is talking about. When she won that historic award for Album of the Year, she was presented by Celine Dion. Celine Dion was the big surprise of the night. Of course, Celine has been very open about her recent health struggles with stiff person syndrome. And when she gave Taylor the award, a lot of people calling out Taylor for not acknowledging Celine at all on the stage.

Now, afterwards, we did see the two take a photo backstage.


So, it seems like all is well with them, but it definitely has people talking this morning, Poppy and Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yes, the world can exhale now.

What were the other notable moments of the night? There were a lot of them.

WAGMEISTER: There were a lot of moments. As we saw up there, Miley Cyrus having a huge night as one of the big winners. Also Billie Eilish winning a big award. And Victoria Monet winning for best new artist.

There we see Miley. Now, I have to tell you, I was in the room last night and Miley really just had a great night.

But also a moment everyone's talking about, Jay-z being honored for a lifetime achievement, but he's getting attention for something he said about Beyonce.

Let's take a look.


JAY-Z, 24-TIME GRAMMY WINNER: I don't want to embarrass this young lady, but she has more Grammys than everyone and never won Album of the Year. So even by the own metrics, that doesn't work. Think about that. The most Grammys, never won Album of the Year. That doesn't work.

Some of you (INAUDIBLE). Some of you don't belong in the category.


WAGMEISTER: The audience was really shocked, I have to tell you. And Beyonce looked shocked. But there Jay-z is, you know, calling out the recording academy but standing out for his wife.

MATTINGLY: Yes, usually a pretty good policy.

Elizabeth Wagmeister, we appreciate it. Thanks so much.

And "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right after this break.