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House Republicans to Attempt Impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas; House Republicans Say Senate Border Security and Immigration Bill Dead on Arrival to House of Representatives; King Charles III Postpones Public Duties for Cancer Treatment; NYPD Busts Robbery Ring Allegedly Involving Migrants; One Year After Catastrophic Earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired February 06, 2024 - 08:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A Democrat trap. It's a trap for Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A bipartisan border deal on the verge of going bust.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The House set to vote today on Secretary Mayorkas's impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's Donald Trump. He's really changed the politics inside the GOP.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's irresponsible to say something is dead on arrival if you don't even know what it's in it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Destructive weather slamming California, and the threat is not over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officials are scared of more rain. It is already in the top three wettest storm systems since they started tracking such things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay safe and off the roads. Only leave your house if it is absolutely necessary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Buckingham Palace announces that King Charles has been diagnosed with cancer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it came as a surprise to everyone around the king.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prince Harry is returning to the United Kingdom to be with his father. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hear the word "cancer," you want to be by

your family member's side.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It's the top of the hour. So glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow with Phil Mattingly in New York. It is a big day ahead. Just hours from now, House Republicans will try to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Overnight, the White House called the move unprecedented, unconstitutional, and baseless.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, across the capitol in the Senate, the only bipartisan bill to address that unparallelled surge of migrants at the southern border, that is on the brink of total collapse. Republican senators rapidly turning against their own colleagues who negotiated the deal as Donald Trump deploys the full scope of his intraparty power to kill it.

HARLOW: We have team coverage this morning. Arlette Saenz and Kristen Holmes in Washington. Arlette, let's start with you at the White House. Talk about the Biden administration view this morning on all of this. I mean, it's just so interesting that you have this move the impeach the Homeland Security secretary at the same time there is this push in the Senate to pass a border deal that is dead on arrival in the House.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, the White House really has offered its most forceful defense of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and is expressing their strong opposition to the impeachment resolution that the House is set to vote on today. In a statement ahead of the vote, the White House said, quote "Impeaching secretary Mayorkas would be an unprecedented and unconstitutional act of political retribution that would do nothing to solve the challenges our nation faces in securing the border. The resolution's purported grounds for impeachment have no basis in law or fact." The White House also argued that pursuing the impeachment would trivialize the impeachment power that lies in the Constitution and could also lead to further partisan abuse of it down the road.

But the White House is also using this moment to try to urge lawmakers to get on board with that bipartisan border deal. The view within the White House is that the way to actually change the issue and crisis at the U.S. southern border is through policy, not through impeaching Mayorkas. But it all does come amidst that political reality that so many Republicans have expressed opposition to that border bill that's currently being considered up in the Senate.

MATTINGLY: Arlette, there's like a low key fascinating game of legislative gamesmanship, I guess, playing out right now in terms of Republicans saying straight up, this bill will not get a vote, let alone fail on the floor. It's not going to get a vote. And the White House coming out and issuing a veto threat against the standalone Israel aid bill. They're trying to close off avenues and force one another's hands. But the move on the veto threat on Israel was interesting to me. What are they saying? SAENZ: The White House is calling this move by House Speaker Mike

Johnson a, quote, cynical political maneuver, and they are vowing President Biden would veto that measure if it were to come to his desk. The White House has insisted that the path forward for aid for Israel, aid for Ukraine, is in that bipartisan border deal, which many Republicans have insisted that any changes or aid for Ukraine and Israel be tied to those border policy changes.

But really, what this entire debate highlights is the fact that the White House and Democrats are quite eager to go on offense when it comes to the issue of immigration. They are saying, hey, we've presented and made concessions to have these border policy changes, but so far Republicans have been blocking it increasingly at the urging of former President Donald Trump. But the big question is how all of this will play out on the campaign trail heading into November as so many voters have expressed concerns about immigration, concerns about President Biden's handling of it. These steps that the White House has been taking have been trying to show that Biden is trying to act, but at the time, Republicans are the ones obstructing.


HARLOW: Kristen, one of the top issues if not Trump's top issue is and has been for a long time immigration and the southern border and migrants coming into this country, and fixing it, and building the wall, et cetera, et cetera. Talk about the strategy here. What's your reporting on his moves to try to tank this deal?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy and Phil, look, Donald Trump has continued to say that this isn't political, that he just wants the best deal for the country. But he was bashing this border deal before he ever saw the text, before the text was ever released. And part of this is political and it's self-preservation. Donald Trump on his campaign believes that immigration is a top issue for Americans going into 2024, into November. They also believe and they've seen the poll numbers that show that Americans and many voters believe Donald Trump does better on the issue of immigration.

So he wants to take this to Joe Biden and the ballot box. And one thing is increasingly clear. Donald Trump's power in Washington is growing. We have seen these Republicans really fall in line behind the former president in a way we hadn't seen in quite some time. Part of that is a calculated response to threats the former president is issuing to these Senators, to anyone who might support this deal. Take a listen to just what he said yesterday.


TRUMP: 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. And it's not only that. It's massive amounts of money going out of town, as we say.


HOLMES: And Senate Republicans watching that have to make a decision. Where do they want to be if Donald Trump is the nominee, which he seems poised to? What side of Donald Trump do they want to be on? Poppy and Phil?

MATTINGLY: That's an important point, something everybody is weighing right now. Arlette Saenz, Kristen Holmes, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Let's talk about all of this with the writer and the host of "The Very Serious" newsletter and podcast Josh Barro and former Trump White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin. Good morning, guys.


HARLOW: Alyssa, let me just start with the power that the president still wields over Republicans, even Republicans like Chip Roy who had criticized his stance on immigration before. Congressman Roy was on with Kaitlan last night, and she asked him -- he opposes it -- what's the backup plan? Is it to wait 350 days and hope that Republican Donald Trump potentially is inaugurated as president? And then laid out, by the way, you've been critical of him on this, this stronghold he has on this.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's unlike anything I've seen in my political lifetime. Lawmakers are just running completely scared of him. Let me put it this way -- this bill would have never gotten to the floor in a John Boehner House. This is a very conservative bill negotiated by James Lankford, one of the most conservative members of the Senate. This is inarguably a win for people who want border security. I'm frankly, surprised that Democrats are willing to go as far as they are.

But Donald Trump cannot give a win to Joe Biden, so he is pressuring House Republicans and senators to oppose this. And it honestly looks like it's dead on -- it will likely pass the Senate with a lot of Republican "no's" and it's dead on arrival in the House. It's remarkably craven. I think the challenge, though, is are the Biden folks going to be able to communicate over the next 10 months I tried to secure the border but Donald Trump convinced a bunch of Republicans to block it? That's the hard part.

MATTINGLY: That's adding to my question right now. Hakeem Jefferies, the Democratic leader, do you think you can avert the political advantage because of a blockade on Capitol Hill, particularly one that, at least by all appearances, was ordered by the likely Republican nominee? And I'm not convinced that people are that discerning a viewer of congressional legislative action.

BARRO: No. It helps that Donald Trump took such an unsubtle role in this because it makes it easier to explain to the public and make it interesting to people. So certainly that's a more viable tact than if it had just been that the House speaker had bottled it up in a more normal way. So I think they'll try that. The problem, obviously, is Joe Biden is president.

And also, we've seen what the Biden administration does when it doesn't have all the legal authorities it would like to have. It makes a big show of all the efforts to look under the couch cushions and find new authorities and find new creative interpretation. With student debt, you saw this over and over again, at first the aggressive effort that got struck down by the courts. But then every time they find another way to relieve another piece of student debt, they're wrapping that up into a big message about how hard the president is pushing back against his limited legal authorities here. You would think that they would message in a similar way on immigration, especially since they finally seem to have decided that it really is a political necessity for them to get this under control and to show that they're getting it under control.

Really, they do need new legal authority, which is why Republicans have their own bill that they've been talking about for most of the session. They're like pass HR-2. If you didn't need new legal authorities, then why do they have a flagship piece of immigration legislation that they're talking about? But still, Biden will have to do what he can with what he does.

HARLOW: What were you going to say?

MATTINGLY: I just think it's very confounding to that point. And Melanie Zanona, one of our Capitol Hill correspondents, has been asking Republican members, like, wait, if he has all the authority, why are you guys pushing HR-2? Why is HR-2 your red line if he has all the authority. And then the answers aren't great.

GRIFFIN: And by the way, can I just mention, kind of lost in this conversation is, I'm not sure that we properly appreciate how in jeopardy continued Ukraine aid is.


This is the most partisan Congress I've seen in my lifetime, and the Republicans right now are not in place where they want more aid to Ukraine. Going into the spring counteroffensive, this could have a true impact on the war. And I don't know that Joe Biden's has got a card to play to actually get --

HARLOW: And this is $60 billion. "The Wall Street Journal" editorial board, not some faction of liberal ideas, says, the headline, "A border security bill worth passing," they lay out the reasons why. And they end it by writing, "If Republicans reject this bill, they will hand Democrats an argument that the GOP wants border chaos that they can exploit as a campaign issue." But how effectively can they do that? How effectively can the Biden White House do it when the fact also is that he is facing record numbers that are more than double what Trump ever faced of migrant crossings in any year of his presidency?

GRIFFIN: Therein lies the challenge. We follow this daily, so we know how craven what House Republicans are doing and we know that they are to blame for blocking this. Does that break through to the American public who are going about their daily lives and all they see is this is happening under Joe Biden? They will need an aggressive strategy to explain what, frankly, is internal congressional ramblings, and I think that's very hard. I do think he's going to have to take some further executive actions to try to at least curb the tide at the border. But that, again, it's a very uphill battle.

HARLOW: Can we just talk about what he can do, all you guys, what can Biden do now that he's not doing?

MATTINGLY: I mean, you want to take this one first?

BARRO: In some part, it's an open question with the courts. Bear in mind, for several years, we were using this pandemic authority under Title 42 to basically say because of a public health emergency we're going to prohibit certain forms of asylum applications and such. And the courts were sort of losing patience with that, and the Biden administration had a prior ideological commitment to move away from that.

I think if they tried to restart doing certain things that the Trump administration was doing and the Biden administration was doing in the early parts of the administration, it's fairly likely that the courts would interfere with that. But I don't think we have a full set of answers.

MATTINGLY: They've certainly made moves to pull down all of Trump's executive orders. They made a big show of the fact that they're completely shifting things. Title 42 is the one that stayed, and they ended up kind of having to have it stay because they understood it was actually effective. And then the courts tied that all up, and that's gone. The Remain in Mexico, so many of these Trump priorities that were done through executive action were never fully litigated. Most of them were pulled off as they were on appeal or they had already been struck down. And so there are limits to what they can do. It's true they can do some, but --

HARLOW: That's the problem with executive action.

MATTINGLY: You also need Mexico to help on a lot of these things.

GRIFFIN: Can I just mention one thing? Last night, Senator Mike Lee tweeted, "A constituent asks, what can we do about border security?" And he links it to his campaign fund. This is about reelection. Giving to Mike Lee's campaign is not going to solve the border crisis. It's passing a bill like this.

MATTINGLY: Maybe he's going to build the wall?

HARLOW: Is he going to build the wall?


HARLOW: Thank you, both, Alyssa and Josh.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, guys, we appreciate it.

HARLOW: King Charles diagnosed with cancer less than a year after his coronation and less than two years since the death of the queen, Queen Elizabeth. We're going to take you live to Buckingham Palace to find out more about how he's doing and what this all means for the royal family. MATTINGLY: And the breaking 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 surrounded by his loved ones. He is survived by his wife, three children, and four grandchildren. Toby Keith was 62 years old.



HARLOW: Well, Britain's King Charles is stepping away from public duties after being diagnosed with cancer. The King underwent treatment for an enlarged prostate last month.

MATTINGLY: But a Royal source tells CNN, he does not have prostate cancer. Now, the next in line to the throne, Prince William will return to public duties this week after taking time to support his wife after her own surgery, and Prince Harry will travel to the UK to see his father.

CNN's Max Foster is live at Buckingham Palace for us.

Max, what more do we know about the actual diagnosis here?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're not being given the precise details, but I had an interesting conversation last night where I was told the King might decide to reveal exactly what form of cancer and indeed what sort of treatment he is receiving at some point in order to raise awareness about cancer.

So he has been involved with cancer charities for many years. Also, he had quite a degree of success when he went into hospital with an enlarged prostate, revealed that. There is a huge increase in inquiries of National Health Service off the back of that. He really did get some satisfaction from raising awareness by sharing that diagnosis.

So I think that's a watch. I think we may find out exactly what cancer this is, which would go against the tradition in the Royal family to reveal any medical details whatsoever. We haven't heard about the Princess of Wales, for example. We didn't hear how Queen Elizabeth died.

Until this morning, he's in good form, if anything, a bit frustrated that he's unable to carry out his public engagements. But he is able to carry out the formal constitutional duties. He is going to carry on meeting for his weekly audiences with the prime minister.

And I'm told that you know, we're not at the level where he has to appoint other members of the Royal family to stand in for him if he is incapacitated in some way, and we will be told if that happens.

So in terms of updates, it will have to be something quite significant if we hear an update, I think, and that's probably the biggest one if he's had to appoint the so-called counselors of state. HARLOW: Yes. Can you just talk more about that, Max? We hope it

doesn't get to that. But if you were to fall too ill to be able to carry out those constitutional duties, what's the plan?

FOSTER: Well, you know, it's something they need to think about if he's receiving medical treatment. So I think the plan will be, you know, solidified.

So there are five members of the Royal family who he can appoint to carry out his official duties for him, his constitutional duties. He has to appoint two of them. The reason there's five is because one of them is Prince Harry. And you know, he's not a working Royal, so he wouldn't be appointed as a counselor of state, so they also added Anne and Edward.

But I think, the obvious choices would be William and the Queen, because the Princess of Wales is, you know, in recovery from her operation as well. So they basically will sign laws, you know, keep the Constitution going.

You've got to remember, the King isn't just the person who appoints the prime minister, he is head of the Judiciary, head of the Armed Services. He's also head of the Church of England.

You know, the whole system grinds to a halt if he can't sign off on the paperwork, so they have to have a system in place and that would be the Queen and Prince William would stand in for him effectively for those key roles.

MATTINGLY: All right, Max Foster with the latest from Buckingham Palace, thank you.

A woman is dragged by men on a moped in New York and the NYPD says it's part of a robbery ring allegedly involving migrants. How border politics and crime are colliding. That's next.

HARLOW: Also, more on the rain, and if you can believe it, even more of it on the way in California this morning after that atmospheric river unleashed a vicious storm and record rainfall impacting travel and power. At least two people were killed by trees that toppled during the storm.

You've got flash flooding and landslides. It sent buildings and vehicles down rivers of mud. About 35 million people remain under flood threats this morning.



HARLOW: Well this morning, the NYPD says it has busted a robbery ring that officers believed has involved migrants. The NYPD released this video -- take a look -- and what you're seeing is a woman robbed and then dragged by two people on a moped. They are believed to be part of a group that police say was responsible for 62 robberies across the city. At least seven people so far been arrested. New York City Mayor Eric Adams joined the NYPD as they arrested the

suspects. You see those images there.

MATTINGLY: This comes days after police say a group of migrants attacked two officers in Times Square. Police do not believe that attack is connected to the robbery ring, but Adams is part of a group of Democratic mayors pressuring the Biden administration for more money to care for migrants dropped off in their cities. Adams says most migrants are not criminals.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: And our message is a clear one, over 175,000 migrants and asylum seekers that arrived here. This is 12 people.

And so any New Yorker that looks at those who are trying to fulfil their next step on the American Dream as being criminals, that is wrong. That is not what we're seeing.



MATTINGLY: Joining us now to talk about all of this, CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller.

John just to start with, what do we know about this robbery ring? How do they know that the perpetrators are migrants?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, in the NYPD, and this is something that happened when I was there, they changed the rule and they changed the law, which is police officers in an arrest process are prohibited from asking anybody's immigration status or so on, but they are interviewing people who are arrested and they are finding out you know, they're living in migrant shelters. They're talking about where they came from.

So it's more than anecdotal, but what you have here is a city-wide pattern 156. This is a pattern that burst onto the scene because it was different from most patterns.

You know, usually you have somebody who's operating in a section of Manhattan or a section of Queens. This hit four out of the five boroughs with people operating on mopeds and scooters. Look at that video with the woman, where the phone is being snatched from her and she is being dragged, you know, by the scooter around the corner.

The guy on the front of the scooter, he is the getaway driver, essentially. He gets a hundred bucks for the day. The guy on the back, who jumps off does the snatch or in some cases does the snatch without jumping off. Gets $600.00, and they were all working for you know, kind of a modern day Fagin, a guy named Victor Parra in the Bronx.

Parra's job was you bring me the iPhones, you bring me the electronics, I have a tech guy. We have two phases here. Number one, we crack the phone. We get the personal identifying information, we get into their bank accounts, their other financials, and we start to exploit that to make money. Number two, after we've gotten everything we can out of that phone, we ship the device to Colombia or another country, and we sell it as hardware.

So this was very lucrative for Parra, who is still on the run and his tech guy and the cash that was going to the small crews on scooters was significant.

HARLOW: We showed that image, the control room, of Mayor Adams and that vest with all of the detectives -- what's significance of this?

MILLER: That is a real statement.


MILLER: I've been around a long time, and I can't remember a mayor of the city of New York, granted, he's an ex-police captain putting on a bulletproof vest and going out on a raid of suspected armed criminals, you know, in a Bronx housing project.

Did he have an official function there as part of the raid team? No. What he's saying is, I care about this. I am involved in this and I am sending a message that this is a priority. And why? Because between the District Attorney's Office and the courts, it doesn't seem like the mayor feels that message is getting through based on what happened last week.

HARLOW: And he just lost two crucial moves in terms of efforts to curb crime in the city to the city council last week.

Thank you. Really notable to see that photo.

MATTINGLY: Well, it has been one year since the devastating earthquake rocked Syria and Turkey and killed tens of thousands of people. But in many neighborhoods, it looks like only yesterday.

Buildings still in ruins, basic services like water, sanitation, public health collapsing.

And according to UNICEF, more than seven million children still need humanitarian assistance.

HARLOW: Scott McLean is live for us on the scene.

Scott, thanks very much for being with us. It's important to show those images a lot, right? Because as soon as the headlines fade and the news cameras are gone, people forget about the devastation.

What are you hearing? What are you seeing on the ground?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy and Phil, I've covered every kind of natural disaster that you can think of and this is what it usually looks like on the day after, not a year later.

You'll be hard pressed to find any buildings in this city that haven't been affected by this. And obviously there's still a huge cleanup left to go.

Let me take you down here where you can see. This is one of the very few buildings that we can find in this area that has been restored already, and look over here, you can see just how much work there still is left to go.

The government has promised to build some 320,000 homes and apartments within the first year, but they have delivered the keys to less than 20,000 of them. It is a huge, huge uphill battle and there is also plenty of outrage.

This is the old city of Antakya, but there were also buildings that were only a few years old that also fell. There, the outrage directed at builders. There's been more than 250 convictions.

There's also outrage of politicians who have turned a blind eye when the building violations were being ignored or didn't enforce them very well.

So now you have a situation where almost 700,000 people are living in these sprawling container cities across the region. There are hundreds of them. It is a very basic way to live.

These are essentially small RVs, but trust me, not nearly as luxurious. You have about, you can almost touch both walls with your arms. You have water, power, but not much else. They are meant to be temporary, but because private insurance here is not so common, you have many people who owned their homes waiting for government help. You have people who are renting who are waiting for supplies to catch up with demand so that they can actually afford them.