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CNN This Morning

Bipartisan Border Deal on Brink of Defeat; Deadly Storm Unleashes Record Rain, Floods in California; Charles Stepping Back from Public Amid Cancer Battle. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 06, 2024 - 07:00   ET




NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These are people making decisions on our national security. These are people making decisions on the future of our economy. We need to know they're at the top of their game.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nikki Haley not backing away from her argument that the American president shouldn't be in their 80s.

HALEY: Mandatory mental competence.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning, everyone. It's top of the hour. I'm Phil Mattingly with Poppy Harlow in New York.

And when it comes to what we're watching, and it's pretty clear, a border crisis, a presidential campaign and a clash on Capitol Hill all captured in the split screen of two votes over the course of the next two days.

Today, House Republicans will try to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. If they succeed, Mayorkas will become the first cabinet secretary to be impeached nearly 150 years, and it's a move that is questioned by constitutional scholars. It's also an overt effort to put political points on the board as the crisis at the southern border continues to escalate.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Over in the Senate, the only bipartisan bill to address the unprecedented surge of migrants at the southern border is now on the brink of defeat before a key vote tomorrow. Republican opposition is growing as Donald Trump and Republican leadership launch an all out war to kill the deal. Trump issuing this new warning to Republican senators if they dare vote for this bill.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it probably would mean the end of their career. This is a Democrat trap. It's a trap for Republicans. That would be so stupid, so foolish to sign a bill like this. This bill can't be signed.


HARLOW: Even if the Senate manages to pass the border bill, House Speaker Mike Johnson is making it abundantly clear that the House will not even consider it.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): We did read through it, Laura, and it did not take long to realize that this is dead on arrival. There's no way we could bring this through the House.

What it would do is actually further incentivize illegal immigration.

The bill itself would actually do more harm than good, and that's why we've said it's a non-starter over here in the House.


MATTINGLY: Let's start things off with CNN Congressional Correspondent Lauren Fox. Lauren, let's start with impeachment. If leaders are moving into the floor, I assume they assume they have the votes to get it through, but that means they're going to kick it to the Senate, the Senate Democrats know what they're going to do.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they are confident over in the House Republican Conference that they're going to have the votes later today to go ahead and impeach Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. The question, like you noted, is what are Senate Democrats going to do with that once it comes to their chamber.

They have a couple of options at their disposal, and aides and members who I talked to last night say that there have not been any final decisions made. The reality is Democrats view this as blatantly political, but at the same time, they have acknowledged that there are actual constitutional and procedural issues that they are going to have to deal with.

You know, Senator Chris Murphy, who's been very busy trying to negotiate that bipartisan Senate deal, he told me that he really views this as just a political exercise, but at the same time, Senate Democrats are likely not going to be able to just ignore it.

Their options really are to move to quickly dismiss this if it comes over to their chamber, to go ahead and refer it to a committee, either a standing committee or create a special committee to go ahead and investigate it, but that does take resources, or their third option, have a very quick Senate trial.

They are going over past precedent, trying to decide what their next steps are going to be, but we obviously aren't going to hear from them until this is signed, sealed and delivered from the House.

HARLOW: Can you talk about the prospects for the border bill in the Senate? I know what is going to happen in the House, but just getting it through the Senate.

FOX: Yes. Republicans had a conference meeting last night to discuss this issue, and the prospects for actually advancing this tomorrow do not look good. Right now, McConnell signaling to his Republican conference that they should vote their conscience, they should do what they think is best, and that is likely going to mean that most of them are not going to be voting to advance this bill on the procedural vote tomorrow.

However, it's not just Republicans who have issues with this. Here is Senator Padilla of California.


SEN. ALEX PADILLA (D-CA): It's not something that I could support, both for reasons of what's in the package, like Trump era policies of regular border closures, lack of due process, but also for what's not in the bill. Historically, we've bound some border enforcement proposals with some legal pathways, for example, not a single DREAMER benefit or receive relief through this measure.


FOX: And you see there that this is a problem on the fringes of the right and the left and not even really the fringes anymore in the Republican Party. It's possible that Senator James Lankford, who is an architect of this bill, does not vote to advance it tomorrow.

We are waiting to see where he will be on this bill. Obviously, Schumer still expected to go ahead and put this on the floor for procedural vote tomorrow. But, again, it is all eyes on the United States Senate as what looks to be the best opportunity that they've had in decades to fix the immigration system is about to go up in flames.


HARLOW: Can you just speak more to Lankford there? He was so crucial, just quickly, Lauren, in crafting this.

FOX: Yes, but it's also a reflection, right, of the realities of the Republican Party, because there are so many members of his conference who seem to be concerned.

Look, we're going to get a lot more this morning from members when they are back in Washington and we hear from them. A lot of them were still not back last night, given the fact the Senate wasn't supposed to be scheduled to be in yesterday. So, we'll have a better sense this morning and this afternoon after yet another Republican lunch as to where the conference is.

MATTINGLY: It will be interesting to watch. Lauren Fox, busy day in the halls, thanks.

HARLOW: Also new this morning, nine U.S. ambassadors to countries in the Indo-Pacific region are urging Congress to pass the Senate's foreign aid package. The ambassadors writing in a letter to leaders of both parties, quote, governments are watching what we do at this pivotal moment in history. In the face of challenges from the People's Republic of China and threats from an increasingly aggressive North Korea, we will stand firm in our support to our friends.

Joining us now is one of the ambassadors who penned that letter, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel. He also served as President Obama's chief of staff. We just read through the letter. So glad you're with us this morning.

Why the urgency and the need to write this?

RAHM EMANUEL, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN: Well, look, our allies are force multiplier. And this is one of the most challenging regions of the world. And very specifically, while the legislation deals with, obviously, Ukraine, the border funding to Israel, also Taiwan, it also is a sign right now as the Senate takes up this legislation, our allies and our foes in this region are going to take our measure.

When the chips are down, does the United States stand by its word? And we thought, all of us who are at the conference, and you have, myself as an ambassador to Japan, you have Nick Burns, ambassador to China, and countries between from Republic of Korea, India, Philippines, Vietnam, all spoke with one voice, that this is a crucial time that the friend and foe in this region are going to take our measure.

And we think it's very important, obviously, to be able to be followed through on our word and our commitment to our friend, and then to also follow through on our word and our commitment to making sure that our enemies know we're serious when we're serious.

And that's why this was so important to all of us coming back from the INDOPACOM conference, decided to speak with one voice about this.

MATTINGLY: Mr. Ambassador, I'm struck by two things in the letter. One, the point that you're making is one that has been made repeatedly on the Senate floor by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, that people are watching, allies and foes alike. And McConnell, who used to have a total grip on his conference, doesn't seem to have that anymore. And kind of akin to that is these letters, these types of letters, particularly given the individual signed on, both politicals and non- politicals on this letter, used to have a major impact on these debates.

You were on Capitol Hill, you were a chief of staff, you knew when a letter like this landed a couple of years ago, everyone took notice, and it could change the dynamic. Do you think this can change the dynamic in the current Congress?

EMANUEL: Well, I do think the letter will still take notice, because I do think a number of the senators who have actually visited here, Democrats, Republicans. First of all, we call China here a country that is setting the pace for our competition. We are a permanent Pacific power and presence here in the Pacific area.

China is watching what happens. So is North Korea. So are the countries that are aligned as allies and treaty allies of ours and those that are somewhat in the middle, but also aligned with us on a number of areas. And Leader McConnell is not wrong. They're watching.

Now, much of this legislation, it goes and funds different parts, whether it's the theater in Ukraine and Europe, whether it's in Israel and the Middle East. There's a section, obviously, for Taiwan, a big section on the border, but do not think that it's only about there. This is going to be a -- you have issues here from the South China Sea to the Taiwan Strait to the Korean Peninsula, affecting many, many allies and treaty allies, friends as well. They are going to watch this.

Prime Minister Kishida at the Shangri-La Security Conference, said, what happens today in Ukraine can be the Indo-Pacific tomorrow. That is true. And they're going to take our measure. They're going to take a response.

And that's why all the ambassadors for the United States, career ambassadors who've made their career there, political appointees who have worked up like Senator Udall, myself, Mayor Garcetti from Los Angeles, decided to all speak with one voice to the U.S. Senate that knows this vote matters.

It doesn't just stop at the borders of Ukraine. It just does stop on the conflict in the Gaza Strip. It will impact China. It will impact North Korea.


It will impact allies. And anybody that wants to believe that that's not true is actually not dealing with the full deck as it relates to that problem, and the challenge. And America is going to be measured here. There's going to be a test. It's not just a test on whether you get close to vote. It will be a test of the United States here. That is why all the ambassadors decide to speak up.

HARLOW: Mr. Ambassador, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Samuel J. Paparo, told the Senate Armed Services Committee just last week that you bring up China and how closely they're watching. I thought what he said, though, was really telling.

Let me read people part of that testimony, quote, instead of seeing the Ukraine conflict and deciding this is too hard, the Chinese intention is to take note of the actions of Russia in order to affect a short, sharp conflict that presents a fait accompli to the rest of the world, for people who weren't listening to that, but are listening to you this morning.

And that's why I asked you at the beginning, the urgency of this now. You write about when the chips are down, everyone is watching us.

EMANUEL: Yes. I mean, look, there's, friend and foe are watching technology, different types of drone warfare, sea drone warfare, how Ukraine without a navy has been so effective against the Russian navy. There will be lessons learned from the battlefield. There will be lessons learned from the urban situation in Gaza, diplomatic efforts, strategic efforts, military efforts.

Friend and foe in the most important region of the world that we think is the biggest challenge we're going to face economically, technologically, strategically, politically, is China. All eyes are to see whether America, when it makes a commitment, will live up to that commitment.

That is why every ambassador across different countries, some political, some not political, some are career, decided to speak up and sign something that they don't often do, because this vote is not just another vote. It is not one of many votes. It is a vote in which the character, the quality of America when we give our word will be measured by friend and foe alike.

MATTINGLY: It is a very noteworthy letter and also comes at a moment where the fascinating thing is there's 70-plus votes for this in the Senate on what you're talking about, and there's 350 in the House and no one can figure out a path forward in this letter, of course, an effort to try and dislodge that.

Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, thanks for your time.

More rain on the way for California this morning after an atmospheric river unleashed a powerful storm and record rainfall leaving at least two people dead from toppled trees.

HARLOW: Flashfloods and landslides have swept buildings and vehicles down rivers of mud. 35 million people this morning are under flood threats.

Meteorologist Chad Myers is live for us again in Los Angeles tracking all of it. We were with you yesterday talking about what was to come. Now, we've seen what came. What can you tell us on the ground?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, the roads are open. You can see these two cars just going by right now. But I'm telling you right now that this car here isn't going to be moving anytime soon. The dirt and debris is all stuck under that.

That's going to take a shovel at least. It looks like a mud road, really. It looks like something I grew up in Nebraska when it rained. But this is the other side of the road where all the mud's still.

This is just all the way up the canyons. These are dirt mountain, dirt hills. I can see them from that way to that way. And all that water rained on top of that. 11.81 inches of rain fell in this location in 48 hours. And it washed all of this down the hill, all of this down into the cars, under the cars, into the homes. This is a big mess. This is going to take some heavy equipment to pick this bad boy back up. This is a lot of mud all the way up and down this street. And so the people here are still dealing with it. The heaviest rain

right now is down into San Diego County. We saw what happened down there just a few days ago with the previous storm. That will now exacerbate what we have.

That land down there is already saturated. Now, another couple of three inches are going to be falling onto that land down there. We are going to make more flooding here. This is not over. It is still raining. It is still raining.

This is raining more than a hurricane. When the hurricane comes and it goes, at least it's over. But this, guys, will not stop.

MATTINGLY: Chad Myers for us in Los Angeles, thank you.

Well, King Charles getting treated for cancer, what we do and don't know about that diagnosis.

HARLOW: Also breaking overnight, country star Toby Keith has died at the age of 62. We'll look back at his career and his legacy.



MATTINGLY: Well, it is the breaking news this morning and the sad news this morning. Country Singer Toby Keith has died after a battle with stomach cancer.

Keith's family releasing a statement overnight saying he died peacefully with his family around him.

HARLOW: He was diagnosed in 2022. The family says that he fought his fight with grace and with courage. He was just 62 years old. He is survived by his wife, their three children and four grandchildren. We will continue to remember his life throughout the morning.

United Kingdom waking up to these headlines this morning after the royal family announced that King Charles has cancer. The type of cancer remains unknown. But a royal source tells CNN, it is not prostate cancer.

You'll remember the king had been treated for an enlarged prostate just days earlier. He is stepping back from public appearances as he undergoes his treatment now.

MATTINGLY: CNN has also learned that Prince Harry is heading back to the U.K. to see his father.

Joining us now to talk about all this is Erin Vanderhoof, who covers the royal family for Vanity Fair. She also co-host its Dynasty podcast. Also with us, Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt, a urologist at Orlando Health. Guys, thanks so much for being here.

Erin, I want to start with you. What more are we learning about how the news was actually received when this actually all came out?

ERIN VANDERHOOF, CO-HOST, VANITY FAIR'S DYNASTY PODCAST: Well, so, Charles actually found out about a week ago and the first thing that he did is he called -- you know, he called his three siblings, you know, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Princess Royal and the Duke of York, who's no longer working Royal, and then he told his two children.


Prince Harry has decided that he's going to come visit.

And, you know, it's his -- so far, his wife, Queen Camilla, and Princess Anne have been the ones really committed to going out and doing as much of the events as we can. And even on the weekend, he was filmed going to church on Sunday, and I think it's been the pals trying to reassure people that he is facing a challenge, but it's -- he is still like up to the task.

HARLOW: Doctor, it's actually kind of rare that we find out this much about the current health of a royal. This is more than we found out about the queen, for example. He was discharged from hospital just last week because he was treated for this benign prostate enlargement. Interestingly, prostate cancer has been ruled out.

So, from those two things, where does that leave you this morning? What questions do you have?

DR. JAMIN BRAHMBHATT, UROLOGIST: Well, what we know for sure is that he has a form of cancer. Now, whether that cancer was found incidentally when they were doing his prostate procedure, you know, when we're inside taking care of the prostate, there's other organs around the area like the bladder, the urethra. But at the same time, maybe this is something that was found on some follow-up imaging or some lab work.

So, there's a lot of speculation on, hey, what kind of cancer is it? What kind of treatment is he starting? All we know really right now is that he has a form of cancer and he's initiated treatment. What his prognosis is? What his stages? I think those are all things that we just don't know yet.

MATTINGLY: Yes, you make an important point about the unanswered questions here, despite the fact that, to Poppy's point, they did provide more information than they traditionally have in some cases.

But, Doctor, do we have a sense of, as Erin was noting, they've kind of made a show that he will be able to do his duties behind the scenes, not the public duties as much, that he is capable of doing that? Can someone with a cancer diagnosis, even though we still have questions about what it is, be able to carry the kind of load that he has in his day-to-day work?

BRAHMBHATT: Absolutely. I have thousands of patients in my own office that we diagnose with cancer on a yearly basis that are able to do all the things that they want to, whether it's work or whether it's to be with their family.

It's just, as he moves forward with the treatments, will the treatments cause side effects? Or if the cancer progresses, then that may limit his ability to perform and ability to do the work that he wants to do.

But we're not there yet. Right now, it seems like the way we saw him out in the open that he looks normal. How he does over the next couple months is still an unknown. But most people with cancer, if it is caught early, they will be able to get the treatments that they need. So, usually, there's a very good life expectancy to follow, and they should be able to perform the work that they need to perform.

HARLOW: Erin, Prince William, interestingly, was going to sort of be out of the public eye, not carrying out those public duties until Easter, helping with things at home because Princess Kate was in hospital for two weeks. Now, that changes. Now, he will be the front, you know, forward-facing face of the monarchy. Do you have any sense of what that will be like for him?

VANDERHOOF: Well, you know, it's actually a coincidence, I mean, I think, may be intentional. We found out yesterday that William was going to come back a little earlier than anticipated. There are certain duties that only William and Princess Anne can carry out, specifically, you know, investitures, where people are knighted. And so he's coming back tomorrow morning to Windsor Castle for an investiture and then going out for a charity.

And, you know, he had said in the past, we were hearing reports in the British press that, you know, he wanted to be 100 percent focused on his family, at least until Princess Kate was settled in after she spent 13 days in the hospital. And it seems like pretty -- you know, it's like she's got a long recovery ahead of her, at least to Easter.

But, you know, I think it's the proof that they've always had to balance being, you know, a member of sort of like a family that is for the whole United Kingdom versus being a private family. And you can see that they're changing the way that they balance these responsibilities.

HARLOW: Thank you very much, Erin. Good to have you. And Dr. Brahmbhatt, thanks very much.

MATTINGLY: Well, just hours from now, House Republicans will try and impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

HARLOW: Meanwhile, Donald Trump and House Republican leaders are launching an all-out war to kill the only bipartisan bill to address the unparalleled surge of migrants. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries joins us next to talk about all of it.



HARLOW: Illegal migrant crossings are surging in the Pacific Ocean, innocent families putting their lives in the hands of smugglers trying to evade U.S. authorities on jet skis. Officials say the rough surf can make the journey extremely dangerous, and some migrants don't make it.

CNN got rare access to accompany agents as they head out on patrol. Our David Culver reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hours before the sun is up over San Diego, we get on board for a rare look at border security from the Pacific Ocean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be four to five foot seas out there, so we're going to begin tossing around.

CULVER: We plan for a few minutes to get set up.

Which way would you prefer the attack?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't matter.

CULVER: But off to the side, we noticed the crew already getting word of movements on the water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just he just has.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can follow them to the (INAUDIBLE) so they can see where they can maybe try to apprehend them on that side.

CULVER: Something is up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a boat headed towards sunset, just on the other side of this.

CULVER: Suspected migrant smugglers are about to make a drop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 200 yards offshore right now.

CULVER: Suddenly, we're 0 to 60 on the water. That is fast and cold.

This is a side of U.S. Customs and Border Protection you don't often see, and for good reason. With Border Patrol on land, these agents handle the skies and seas. They're part of AMO, Air and Marine Operations.

KURT NAGEL, MARINE INTERDICTION AGENT: It's going to be just off our starboard beam heading right for the beach.

And what does it sound like, a boat or a jet ski?

NAGEL: They don't have a visual of it. So, all they know is that there's a radar contact eastbound right behind us back here.

CULVER: Headed our way so they kill the lights and we wait in the dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pursuit is coming right to us right now.

CULVER: Right this way?


CULVER: After a few minutes, still nothing. It seems the suspected smuggler on a jet ski turned back. [07:30:01]

NAGEL: There's a lot of them. We're constantly busy.

CULVER: Well, what we see at the southern border and the land crossing, people coming right up to Border Patrol.