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Manager Says Buffalo Grocery Store Looted On Christmas Eve; Kayleigh McEnany Says Trump Called Her After She Received A Subpoena From The January 6 Select Committee; U.S. Asylum Backlog Nears 1.6 Million, The Highest Number On Record. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 26, 2022 - 21:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: And the news continues. So, let's hand it over to Alisyn Camerota and CNN TONIGHT.


P. BROWN: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Hope you had a great holiday.

P. BROWN: You too.

CAMEROTA: And good evening, everyone. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Alisyn Camerota.

Deadly winter weather, still wreaking havoc, across the country. Tonight, travel is still a nightmare, with thousands of flights canceled, and passengers stranded, in airports. Unless one of those passengers gets a wild hair, and decides, with a group of other passengers, to rent a car, and drive 20 hours, to their destination, together. That's exactly what some of our guests, tonight did.

In a little while, I'll introduce you, to this group of intrepid travelers, total strangers, who had quite an adventure, when they decided to drive, from Tampa to Cleveland, together, and they recorded their trip, and it went viral.

Meanwhile, 10 million people, across the South, are under freeze alerts. And the death toll, from this storm is rising. At least 49 people have died, across the country. 27 of those are in the Buffalo area. And authorities fear that they'll find more bodies, in cars, as they begin to dig out, from what's being called the worst storm, in the region's history. You can see some of it there.

And while Police have their hands full, with rescues, the stores are being looted. So, I'll talk to a supermarket manager, who spent Christmas Eve, watching, his store, get broken into.

I want to bring in now CNN's Miguel Marquez. He's live for us, in Rochester, New York.

You were supposed to be in Buffalo, Miguel, we understand. But what happened?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We are - Buffalo is socked in. There is just no way in or out. They have a travel ban, in the city itself, right now. And the snow is just so intense that it is almost impossible to get in.

They - officials there, are trying to plow those streets, right now, trying to get to those cars, and to those homes, from people they haven't heard from. 27 people already dead, in Erie County, New York, and they have fear there will be more.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): An unprecedented storm, devastating and deadly, hitting Western New York.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): We now have what'll be talked about not just today but for generations, the Blizzard of '22.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Parts of Buffalo pummeled with up to 43 inches of snow, and hurricane force winds, and the death toll of at least two dozen people in the area.

SHERIFF JOHN GARCIA, ERIE COUNTY, NY: There's going to be a lot of welfare checks.

And, unfortunately, I have a bad feeling about that. I think the toll - that toll is going to go up.

It's just gut-wrenching.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Erie County, New York, brought to a literal standstill, with people, trapped in their homes and cars.

MARK POLONCARZ, ERIE COUNTY, NY EXECUTIVE: This was the first time in Buffalo Fire history that they could not respond to emergency calls, because of how severe the conditions were.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): County officials, sending in specialized trucks, to rescue the rescuers.

GARCIA: I couldn't see two feet in front of my vehicle. And we had to rescue deputies. We had to - so, we brought in snowmobiles, UTVs, ATVs. When fire rigs are getting stuck, that heavy equipment, you can imagine what happened to the public.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): While most major highways have at least one lane clear, for emergency traffic, many residential roads are still impassable, with vehicles abandoned, in the middle of the street.

HOCHUL: We have had snow plows, major snow plows, and rescue vehicles. I saw them myself in ditches, buried in snow.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Officials urging residents, stay home.

HOCHUL: Stay off the roads, so we can continue to rescue people, get them safe, and make sure that the roads are clear, so we can reopen our community, as soon as humanly possible.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Buffalo, under a driving ban, but that hasn't stopped some, from taking advantage, of the situation. Police have made arrests, for looting. Videos, on social media, shows looters at work, merchandise being carried out, on foot.

MAYOR BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK: People, who are out looting, when people are losing their lives, in this harsh winter storm, is just absolutely reprehensible.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): All while thousands of homes, and businesses, are still without power. One family, who lost their heat, tried to make it to a hotel, on Christmas.

DANIELLE TISDALE (ph), BUFFALO FAMILY: You couldn't see anything. You couldn't see a stoplight. So, it's like you kind of just have to drive through, the intersection, praying, basically.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Their prayers answered, by airport firefighters, who were able to rescue the Tisdales (ph), along with dozens of other trapped drivers.

DEMETRICE TISDALE (ph), BUFFALO FAMILY: Those guys were amazing, at the firehouse. They treated us with nothing but love, and they welcomed us with open arms.



MARQUEZ: So, we should point out it wasn't just those individuals that are rescued. Rescuers were able to pull about 550 people, out of pretty severe conditions, so rescuing over 500 people in the area. They're hoping to do that more.

And if there's any good news, on the horizon, on Thursday, it's meant to go up into the 40s and, on Friday, it's in the 50s. The big melt will be on by week's end.


CAMEROTA: That's great. But there's many days to go, before Thursday, I mean. And it's still frigid, there. I don't have to tell you.


CAMEROTA: Do you know how much of the power is still out in that region?

MARQUEZ: Several thousand people are still without power. Everywhere you drive in this region? We tried to get into Buffalo, today. And everywhere we went, you saw the power crews out there, fixing lines, downed trees, all sorts of issues, bringing down power.

Several thousand now, so, they've gotten tens of thousands, their power back, several thousands, without it. But it is very, very cold here, tonight. Again, several - many people have been without power, for several days now.


CAMEROTA: OK, Miguel, go get warm. Thank you. We really appreciate you doing the report for us.

MARQUEZ: Sure, yes.

CAMEROTA: Now, I want to bring in Dan Eichelberger. He is the Upstate District Manager, for the Save-A-Lot grocery store, in Buffalo that got looted, during the storm.

Dan, thanks so much for being here.

I know you had an upsetting Christmas Eve, because, you were watching your store get looted. How did you - how were you able to watch that happen?

DAN EICHELBERGER, UPSTATE DISTRICT MANAGER, SAVE-A-LOT: It was tough, Alisyn. Christmas Eve, you want to be doing other things, with your family.

Our phones went off with the alarm that, people were in our store. We have camera systems. So, of course, we checked them to see what was going on. And it was just ridiculous to watch. We put an awful lot of work into the store.

CAMEROTA: What did you see, Dan?

EICHELBERGER: Well we were able to look in, and we were able to watch. I think, we gave you guys some video, so you guys could share it, of people actually just coming into our stores, and looting, and destroying everything, in our stores. So, it was just really heart- wrenching to watch. It went on all day, and it went on through the night. So, it was difficult to watch, on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's no way to celebrate Christmas, Dan. And we feel for you. And as soon as we're able to process, and turn around that video, we will share it with people.

Did you call the Police while this was happening?

EICHELBERGER: We did. Our alarm company did call the Police. And then, I tried myself in order to call. I mean, as they said, on the news briefing there that, they were unable to answer any of the calls, in the Buffalo area. The 911 system was basically down, in Buffalo.

So, that was very hard. I mean, someone, when you owned a business, and you're seeing your business being looted, you want the Police there, you know? And we did, you know? We wanted them to stop, doing what they were doing.

It's very tough, in this area of Buffalo. It is a food desert, in this area. As a lot of people know, after the Tops shooting, there are very few grocery stores, in this area. So, our goal is to try and maintain this business, and keep it afloat, in order to help out the Buffalo community.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Hey, Dan, we now have that video that you shared with us.


CAMEROTA: So this is closed-circuit TV that you were able to watch, on Christmas Eve, and you're watching the looters, just go through your store, you know?


CAMEROTA: Obviously, uninhibited, because there's - Police are busy, that night, and not able to do anything.


CAMEROTA: Are you - do you know what they stole? Was there - I mean, what kinds of things were they looking for?

EICHELBERGER: It really was everything. It really wasn't the normal things that you would think that people would take, the turkeys, the hams, and things like that. Those are all still in the store.

It was candy bars, batteries, individual bottles of soda, just a lot of stuff. And, as the night went on, it became less into looting, and just into destruction. All of our registers were destroyed, our computers were knocked out, which is probably one of the biggest problems that we have. Because, in order to get up and running, we have to make sure that we have a point-of-sale system working.

Luckily, today, we did an awful lot of work, with Corporate Save-A- Lot. And they're overnighting us some equipment. They're going to overnight a person, here, as soon as the airport opens up in the morning, which is outstanding for them, as a company.


EICHELBERGER: These stores are all independently-owned. We're all small business owners, which a lot of people don't understand.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And Dan, I mean, that's part of what makes this so sad is that, obviously, the community is struggling enough, because of this once-in-a-generation storm. And it's Christmas. And, as you say, people often wonder, are these desperate people, who are breaking in, for formula, and diapers, and hams? Or are they kids, or whatever, I mean, characterize it, however you like--

EICHELBERGER: Yes. CAMEROTA: --who are just, as you say, bent on destruction, and stealing candy bars? And so, just on what--

EICHELBERGER: Yes. I mean, it's--

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead.

EICHELBERGER: Well it's really sad. I mean, look at the timestamp on. This was 30 minutes after midnight, on Christmas Eve. Like I said, he really didn't take food. It wasn't people that were coming in, looking for food, because they were hungry, or because the stores were closed, or anything. It was just looting and destruction.


CAMEROTA: So Dan, when are you going to be able to - are you open again? You're not - is the store open yet?

EICHELBERGER: We are not open. We got in there, today. We got in there, around 11 o'clock today. We kind of had to wait for things to calm down, in that area. There were a lot of carjackings, and things like that. Not to mention, the area is just hard to get around in, right now, because of the snow.

But my Management team, we all got in there. One of our liaisons with Corporate Save-A-Lot went in there with me, this morning. And we spent the day, getting it all cleaned up.

I've got some really great kids that work for me. As soon as they heard that we were opening the store, they were down there, to greet us, and they worked all day, in order to help us get cleaned up.

CAMEROTA: That's great. That's really good to hear.

EICHELBERGER: So, I mean, that's the only positive thing I can really say.

CAMEROTA: And do you know how much - I mean, do you know what this is going to cost you?

EICHELBERGER: Right now, we're guesstimating probably around a quarter of a million dollars loss, for us.

CAMEROTA: Well, Dan, that's really, as I said, that's really adding insult to injury, there, in your area. Obviously, I don't have to tell you. But we really--

EICHELBERGER: We're trying to - we're trying to do - thanks. We're trying to reach out. We're reaching out to Councilman Bollman. He's the Lovejoy councilman in Buffalo. We're trying to get with him, work with him, and see if there's anything that the City can do, or the States or - and we know the federal disaster aid was signed today.


EICHELBERGER: So, we're hoping that maybe, we can get in on some of that that would help us, speed along this process, in getting the store open.

CAMEROTA: OK. Well, we're going to talk to the President of the City Council, momentarily. So, we'll see if he can help also.

Dan, take care. Hope that you're able to put together, something positive, for the holidays. And we really appreciate you sharing your story with us.

EICHELBERGER: This is Buffalo, where you start things, you know? It's just, it's in our blood, you know? All I can say is, Go Bills!

CAMEROTA: OK, on that note, thanks so much. And we'll check back in with you.

All right, let's--

EICHELBERGER: All right. Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you so much.

Let's go now to Christopher Scanlon. He is the President Pro Tempore of the Buffalo Common Council.

Mr. Scanlon, thanks for being here.

So, you just heard what Dan was talking about, a quarter of a million dollars of damage to his store. That's just one local store, obviously, that is suffering in here. So, can you give him any comfort, tonight?


It's heartbreaking to hear what you and Dan were talking about. Unfortunately, Dan's isn't the only instance of this type of behavior taking place. And any of those individuals, who are out there, those opportunists, who are damaging, creating damage, and looting these stores, they need to be held accountable.

Part of your conversation, with Dan, you referenced, people, who may have been desperate, and looking for a formula, or food, or something like that. But that's not what all of these people were doing. A lot of them were just out there. They were opportunists, and looking to get their hands on anything, they can loot.

CAMEROTA: Yes. So Dan, let's talk about what the condition - sorry, I should say, Chris, let's talk about the condition that Erie County, and Buffalo, are in tonight.

So, the last we knew, there were 27 deaths, in Erie County. And we have a graphic that we can put up, of what caused those deaths, during the storm. So, there was - there were EMS delays. There were 14 people found outside, and I assume that those were people, who were looking for help, who were trying to get to safety.

Do you know - is that still what the death toll is? And can you share anything about why so many people have died?

SCANLON: Yes. I think, when you're talking about the storm that hit here, this week, the only word, to adequately describe it, it's catastrophic. I mean, if we were only to receive the four or five feet of snow analytic (ph), we only received a blizzard-like condition, or hurricane force winds, we might have been able to handle it. If we only received the freezing frigid temperatures, we'd have been able to handle it.

But when you mix it all together, with heavy, deadly storm, and as you mentioned, unfortunately, that's what we're dealing with, we have more than two dozen confirmed deaths, at this point, related to the storm. And unfortunately, you mentioned, I would imagine that number's going to increase, as rescue and snow removal operations continue, in the coming days.

I think you had a lot of those situations that people who may have been caught in their cars, during storms, and then seeking shelter, and other situations, like that.

There was, as you mentioned, with at the top of the broadcast, you talked about how much power outage there was. You had a lot of people without power, for a couple days. Despite National Grid's best efforts, to get the power on, get back on as quickly as possible, you had people experiencing horrendous situations. So, I think all those are contributing factor.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. And so Chris, are there still people trapped at this hour? I mean, what are the rescue and recovery operations that are happening, right now?

SCANLON: Yes, there's been an ongoing effort, municipal, county, state, resources have been pulling together. They're working together to find people, who may still be without power. I believe, as of 7 o'clock tonight, there were still around 7,000 people, in the City of Buffalo, without power. They're still trying to turn that power back on.


I want to give credit to National Grid, and the work they've been doing, the members of the Buffalo Department of Public Works, and state (ph) and county agencies that have been clearing roads, to let them get to where they need to go to turn power on. It's been a Herculean effort, and they should all be applauded for it.

In addition to that, I have to mention, obviously, this is a situation, where there's tremendous heartache. But there's also been incredible acts of bravery, heroism, and things of that nature.

Men and women, of the Buffalo Fire Department, Buffalo Police Department, they've been working for days on end, trying to rescue people, putting themselves in harm's way, despite this incredible weather. And I just want to recognize the incredible work that they've been doing. And in true Buffalo spirit, despite everything that's been coming to us, the last couple of days, you have people, throughout the community, reaching out, to make sure that our first responders are taken care of, restaurateurs, and other people, providing food to them, at their stations, at their fire houses, to make sure they're healthy, and they can go out, and rescue people, take care of people.

CAMEROTA: Well, that is actually really heartwarming. I'm glad that you're taking a moment, to applaud all of those folks. Obviously, they're angels, and we need them.

So, Chris Scanlon, thank you very much, for taking the time. We know that it's a dire situation there, tonight. And we're thinking of all of you. And we really appreciate talking to you.

SCANLON: Thank you, Alisyn. I appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: OK. Meanwhile, there's, also, new revelations, from the January 6 committee, and they keep coming. So, we're going to bring those to you. And what should lawmakers do now, to make sure that our democratic process is never compromised again?


CAMEROTA: The January 6 committee, preparing to release more transcripts, of witness interviews.


Already, their massive report laid out what they say was former President Trump's multi-part plan, to overturn the 2020 election. Here's their conclusion. Quote, "The central cause of January 6th was one man... whom many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him," end quote.

Let's bring in CNN Political Correspondent, Sara Murray; Democratic congressman, from New York, Adriano Espaillat; and former Republican congressman, and South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford; and former U.S. attorney, Harry Litman.

Thanks to all of you, for joining me tonight.

Sara, I know you've been sifting through, all of their evidence, and their conclusions. But a lot of people tuned out, of course, for Christmas, and their holiday week. So, just give us some of the headlines.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, there's a lot to sift through, between the report and the transcripts. But even nestled, in these transcripts, we're learning new pieces of information.

So, there was one transcript that referenced this draft press release, the White House was crafting, in December of 2020 that we had never heard about before. It was right after Bill Barr had publicly done an interview, saying there was no widespread fraud. He was then the Attorney General.

Well, over at the White House, they were crafting a press release that said, "Anybody that thinks there wasn't massive fraud in 2020 election should be fired." Now, they never issued this press release. Eventually, Bill Barr resigned, from the Administration, anyway. But we didn't know about that until we saw this pop up, in one of the questions investigators asked.

One of the other big findings, from their report, was just how extensive the pressure campaign that Trump put on state officials was. At one point, they say, "Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach... to overturn State election results."

We know the former President was calling election officials. We know he was trying to get States to overturn their election results. But they really sort of try to bring to you the scope of the efforts, by Trump, and his allies, to overturn the election.

And lastly, we're just learning more, in some of these transcripts, some of these former White House aides.

Kayleigh McEnany, she was the former White House press secretary. She noted that she learned about the Capitol riot, and started piecing it together, when she was sitting at her desk, eating a turkey sandwich.

She also told investigators that soon after, she was subpoenaed, to do her interview, with the January 6 committee, she got a call from the former President.

She told investigators, "I believe, shortly after I was subpoenaed, I received a call from President Trump, but I did not answer the call. As I noted to the committee, I have not spoken with him since being subpoenaed."

And in the committee's report, they noted the former President called a couple of witnesses, or tried to reach out to a couple of witnesses. But they didn't name all of the names. Now, we're learning from this that Kayleigh McEnany was at least one of the people, the former President tried to reach out to, before her interview.

CAMEROTA: OK. That was great. Thanks for laying all that out.

So Harry, that leads us to you. What do you think will get the Department of Justice's attention most? I mean, some of these things, we had heard bits and pieces of.

But, for instance, as Sara just said, the 200 acts of personnel reach- out to - outreach, I should say, trying to get people, to somehow tamper with the election results? And then knowing that Kayleigh McEnany, I mean that's, in your speak, witness tampering, perhaps, the fact that, President Trump was trying to call her?

So, what do you think will the DOJ be most interested in?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: So look, it's a huge, huge data dump. And there'll be dozens and dozens of trails to follow.

But the number one thing and, I think the number one achievement, of the January 6 committee, is anything bearing on Trump's intent. And that means any time that we learned that he found out, and he knew what was happening, and he went ahead anyway. So, there's quite a lot there to substantiate that.

And then, just in general, the Conspiracy looks to be both bigger and longer than we had understood, there. Those 200 contacts, we knew about Raffensperger, but 200? That's really startling. And, of course, we now know, from the report, that even before the election, they had decided to, on this Big Lie strategy.

For the Department of Justice, the number one thing is the proof of intent. They've done a pretty darn good job of substantiating it, with different witnesses. But that'll be the issue. And the notion, from Trump's guys, "Oh, there's really nothing going here," it strikes me, as whistling in the graveyard. There's a wealth of information, going to his intent and knowledge.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, Governor, let's talk about how to stop this, from ever happening again, what lawmakers have learned, to try to put in even more guardrails.

So, here's, the Committee's recommendations, from the January 6 report.

"Trump and others involved in the insurrection should be barred from holding office. Stronger penalties for threatening election officials," which we know so many election officials have had to endure. "New legislation to enforce House subpoenas in federal court. More oversight over the Capitol Police. Changes to the Electoral Count Reform Act. Combat white nationalist and anti-government groups. Evaluate media companies that radicalize consumers."

What do you think will make the biggest difference in stopping this?


MARK SANFORD, (R) FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: I think it's a smattering of the above. But I don't think there's a silver bullet in this equation.

And I think we also need to find solace in the fact that ultimately the guardrails that the Founding Fathers put in place worked. At the end of the day, this didn't go forward. I mean, you had the senior senator, from my home state, calling folks, in Georgia. You had a lot of people making calls, and making pressure, where they could. But, at the end of the day, nothing happened.

And, so I would say, let's not overreact. I don't think we want to change the Electoral College. I think there was a real wisdom to what the Founding Fathers put in place there. I'd be very, very reticent about changing the electoral process.

But, as to barring Trump, or others, from holding Office, I'd have no problem with that. I think it'd be very difficult, legislatively, to pull off, though, because of the tug of war that now, that sort of marks politics of this day and age.


Congressman, it's interesting, to hear what Governor Sanford's saying. Because, yes, the guardrails held, but a little too close for comfort. What do you think would make the biggest difference?

REP. ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D-NY): Well, look, Alisyn, there's so much in the report. Over 1,000 depositions, over 1,000 witnesses were interviewed, over 80 people were subpoenaed. So, there's a lot there that could guide us, as we move forward.

And we've already begun to do that. There was provisions within the omnibus bill that address, the count. And so, we've already began to take a look at what we can do, legislatively, to strengthen the guardrails. I think it's important to say that.

I think a big debate over the Electoral College--


ESPAILLAT: --should be had, in America. But that's a long-term effort. But I think that there - we should strengthen the guardrails on this, enough there, to guide us, and take preventive action.

CAMEROTA: OK. Friends, thank you very much, for all of that.

OK, moving on, frigid temperatures are not stopping migrants, coming across the border, and they're not stopping Republican governors, from busing them, to Blue States. So, what is the solution, here? We're going to talk about that next.



CAMEROTA: The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on Title 42, sometime this week. But that will not solve the crisis at the border.

Migrants, in El Paso, are trying to find shelter, as dangerously cold temperatures hit that area. But the influx of migrants is overwhelming officials there.

We're also seeing more political stunts. Several buses of migrants were dropped off, in Washington D.C., on Christmas Eve, in front of Vice President Kamala Harris' official residence. Meanwhile, New York City seeing two more migrant buses, arrive, on Christmas Day, with up to 15 more, expected in the next few days.

So, back with us, looking for solutions is Congressman Adriano Espaillat; and former Congressman, Mark Sanford. We also have CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem; and pollster and communications strategist, Frank Luntz, who has some new polling, on how Americans feel about all of this.

Great to see all of you.

OK, Juliette, this is a problem.


CAMEROTA: There's 1.6 million asylum applications, OK, at the U.S. Immigration courts, right now. That is the largest number ever, on record, seven times more than there were, in the year, 2012.


CAMEROTA: So, they're overwhelmed. The courts are overwhelmed. Obviously, the officials, at the border, are overwhelmed. And, of course, it's a national security issue.

KAYYEM: Right.

CAMEROTA: Because it's hard to keep track of all of this.

KAYYEM: Right, exactly. If you cannot control your borders, as any nation knows, it is very difficult, to assert that you have some control, over your own national security. And we've seen this across Europe, during refugee crisis, as certainly in the United States.

So, one of the things that in terms of the numbers that you're seeing is these standards, for asylum, are established by Congress. So, all you're seeing is people asserting some right, to asylum status, that is lawfully recognized, and then they have to go through a process.

Title 42 essentially closed that down, since 2020. About 2.3 million (ph) people have been sent back over the border, without what would have normally been their lawful asylum process. So, at some stage, this has to be lifted, Title 42 has to be lifted, because it's just too hard to argue anymore, that we have a public health crisis. And you will see a surge.

So, the solution, that the most Americans are, can somewhat agree on this, at least from - Frank may tell his new polling is, the DREAMers are easy, in the sense that most Americans want them to get through.

The undocumented people, who are here, in this country, that some lawful process, for them, to become citizens, is a good step forward, rather than trying to find them in the interior.

And then, greater border enforcement, at this stage, and working with our allies, down south, to try to stop this surge, which is not just from Mexico, as most people believe. It's now Cuba, Venezuela, and countries we haven't seen from since--

CAMEROTA: OK. And so, Frank?

KAYYEM: --the border.

CAMEROTA: Frank, is that what your polling, suggests too, of what Americans want to see?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER AND COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: Yes, and it's overwhelming, Democrats, Independents, Republicans.


LUNTZ: If you start with securing the border, because you can't have a country, if you cannot have secure borders, and that national security. And then, you step in, and you give the DREAMers, the access, the pathway, to earn citizenship. And the third aspect is to fix legal immigration, because most Americans actually want legal immigration, legal immigration increased. Take those three steps, 79 percent support, including a super-majority of Republicans, Independents and Democrats.

And I have a simple statement to Congress, right now. Get your act together. The public expects you to fix this. They've been complaining about this, now, for more than a decade.

Don't say the border is secure, when it's not. Don't say this is a humane policy, when it clearly isn't. And don't play games with human life. The idea that you turn this into a photo-op is disgusting. We have a problem. We have a crisis. Fix it. And stop playing around, with mothers, and fathers, and particularly children.

CAMEROTA: Well, let me put those tasks, to our Congressman, on the panel, right now.

And, of course, we don't expect you single-handedly to fix it, Congressman. However, I do feel like we've talked about this before, you and I, on this very set.

ESPAILLAT: Yes, we did.


CAMEROTA: And I feel like we have this circular conversation, which is clearly there's a problem. El Paso was overrun. They're getting 1,500 asylum-seekers a day. That's not what the system was set up to be able to withstand.

As you say, everyone knows, we need comprehensive immigration reform. But before we get there, why can't Congress help, as we say, secure the border?

ESPAILLAT: Well, we're willing to have a conversation, about the border, us, Democrat. We try to do that, and we try to talk about the DREAMers, in this passed omnibus bill. And the feeds that are tied to the DREAMers that in actuality, keep the program moving forward, were gutted, by the other side of the aisle.

I don't want to make this a one side of the aisle versus other. But again, this issue, even of the DREAMers, which was say, was polls - they poll over 80--

CAMEROTA: That people want to help the DREAMers. ESPAILLAT: They want to help them - is weaponized on a regular basis.


ESPAILLAT: And folks don't really want to talk about something that I think is so important.


ESPAILLAT: There is a crisis of democracy in the Americas. Where are these folks coming from? They're coming from Venezuela. They're coming from Cuba.


ESPAILLAT: We just have boats landed in Florida, from Haiti. There's a crisis of democracy in the Americas. And no one wants to talk about that.

CAMEROTA: Well what are we supposed to do with that?

ESPAILLAT: Well, we are the leader of the Americas. And we should take a deep dive, and see what it is that those countries need help with. A mom will walk 2,000 miles, with their child. Why are they doing that? Nobody wants to leave their homeland. Nobody wants to leave their family behind.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But I'm not sure how much the U.S. can do, in these authoritarian countries, to help with, humanitarian causes there, if the leaders there don't want us to.

ESPAILLAT: Well, things have spin out of control, and out of our so like, ability, to impact them. But we must take a step forward.

CAMEROTA: Governor, I want to ask, what do you think of places, the governors, in places like Texas, sending migrants, to Massachusetts, or Manhattan? Do you think that that's effective? Is it a political stunt?

What are your thoughts on that?

SANFORD: Whether it proves effective, we'll see. But, I mean, it's certainly a blunt political instrument. I don't see it as a stunt. But I see it as a way of saying, "We're desperate down here. We've got to have something done. And can we make it real to you?"

And too often, that's not the case in politics. People see what's right around them. And that's about it. And it's a way of bringing it right down on--

CAMEROTA: Yes, no--

SANFORD: --America's backyard. I mean, it's--


SANFORD: --it's simply a way, of trying to make it real. We have a crisis.

And what's crazy is the degree to which this is politicized. I mean, there's border funding, indirectly, from the United States Congress, for polling against Belarus, same in Syria. And yet we have this, border wall, if you will, built against the idea of doing anything tied to securing our own border, first, before other political activities, come.

CAMEROTA: And what would that look like?

SANFORD: But the United States suing the Governor of Arizona, for instance--

CAMEROTA: Yes. But--

SANFORD: --building his own border wall.

CAMEROTA: But Governor, I mean, I'm just looking for solutions. What would that look like, secure? We all want that border secured. So, what are we not doing? What would that look like to you?

SANFORD: Well, the first thing is you'd overturn what Biden has done, in allowing asylum, in the United States, as opposed to in Mexico. I think, again, I'm not a Trump fan as, been well-chronicled. But what they did, in saying, "You're going to have asylum, while you're waiting for asylum, in Mexico"--


CAMEROTA: Title 42, which is what the Supreme Court is debating, right now--

SANFORD: --instead of the United States has completely--


SANFORD: What's that?

CAMEROTA: That's Title 42. I mean, that's what the Supreme Court is going to be deciding on this week.

SANFORD: Right. But that's what turned the spigot on. If you look at really the Delta, in terms of in migration, it's largely tied, to that change, in the way that we approached asylum-seekers.

CAMEROTA: Juliette, is that true? Is that because of Title 42, or is it because of what's going on in Venezuela and Cuba, as the Congressman said?

KAYYEM: It's really - so, the history of immigration, and immigration policy, I think, results in one decisive conclusion, which is the pull and push of America, is sometimes less than the pull and push of what's happening in the Americas.

In other words, our immigration policies have been harsh. They've been less harsh. They've been cruel. They've been less cruel. And, for the most part, you just see these waves of migration that are related to what's happening in Cuba, or Venezuela, or wherever else. So, everyone knows that the solution is about the Americans. Why do people - Americas, excuse me? Why do people want to come here?

Then, as Frank was making clear, you want a lawful immigration process, which we have in - for example, the Mexican border, you've got millions of people crossing that border every month, right? So, you have to have a lawful system that gets that flow going, because both countries thrive on it.


And then, you have to have a humane process, for people that are coming over. So, the idea that we're going to - I guess, two things. One is the idea that we're going to resolve the failure of comprehensive immigration reform, which consistently had falls on the GOP. It's just that they just don't want to do it, because their base doesn't want it to happen, including with the DREAMers?


KAYYEM: That failure means that we are driving our immigration policy, through public health law, through Title 42, which is ridiculous.

CAMEROTA: Right. That's a COVID policy, then.

KAYYEM: So, that's where we are, right now.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I hear what you're saying.

Go ahead, Governor.

SANFORD: Yes. I don't think that's fair. I mean, the reality is, there's guilt on both sides here.

The fact is we had the Bracero Program, from 1946 to 1964. It was a guest worker program, with Mexicans, coming up, and going home. It worked quite well. But the fact is, Democrats feared the labor unions, and were part of shutting it down, and keeping it down.

We could have a guest worker program, tomorrow, on the Republican side that would, again, ease a lot of what's going on. But again, Democrats don't want that. So, I think there's guilt on both sides. And we can play the blame game.


SANFORD: But, at the end of the day, a first start, would may be changing the Amnesty laws.

CAMEROTA: OK, go ahead, Frank.

LUNTZ: The polling data shows that a majority of Republicans, and Independents, and Democrats support the DREAM Act. That in fact, that's not the case. Maybe the loudest people are complaining. But we have now come to the conclusion that children, who were brought here, through no fault of their own, have the ability, to earn citizenship, are following a certain set of procedures, and the American people, including the Republican Party, want that.


LUNTZ: Just want to correct the record there.

CAMEROTA: OK, I really appreciate that. Let's see what the new Congress does, next week.

ESPAILLAT: Yes, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you all very much for this conversation.

KAYYEM: Nothing!

CAMEROTA: OK. And that side comment!

All right, now, did you know the average senator is 64.3-years-old? This is the oldest Senate, in U.S. history. So, what will it take to get younger people, want to be involved in leadership, in this country? Frank Luntz has some ideas, and we're going to talk about it next.



CAMEROTA: When will we see a new generation of leaders, in this country?

Well, Frank Luntz was just in Africa, for 10 days, teaching students, from 40 different countries, at the African Leadership University. And he says there's a lot to be hopeful about. And he joins us again now.

So Frank, what are you hopeful about, after this experience?

LUNTZ: Well, there's not much to be hopeful here, quite frankly. And I do teach, in a number of the universities. I have tremendous faith in what's happening over there. And the reason why is because they have so little, they figured out a way to make it worth so much. And, in here, we have so much, we don't seem to appreciate it.

They realize that their leaders that they need to hold them accountable, and that corruption destroys any faith they have in a better future. They realize that they need to learn ideas, and the need to work together, with people, that they otherwise might disagree with.

And what's most powerful, for me, about the African Leadership University, is that you've got countries that are at war with each other, or almost at war. And yet, these students are working together, living together, thriving together. And so, lesson, for America, that we can put aside our differences, we can put aside our disagreements, for the greater good, to do something positive, not just for us, but for others, and not just now, but for the future. I loved it. And it gave me some hope for the future.

CAMEROTA: And so, where do we start? And also, Frank, I mean, look, obviously, everybody wants a youth infusion, into leadership. As we just said, this is the oldest Senate ever in U.S. history. President Biden is the oldest president. But with age comes experience. And so, that's a benefit, right?

LUNTZ: It is. But the average age, of the United States Senators deceased. We need to give younger people the opportunity, to come into the workforce, to come and take up leadership positions. But they need to be trained. They need to be educated. They need a lot. They have a lot to learn. But they have a lot to give.

And, at the African Leadership University, what makes it special is that every student is required to succeed, on their, own. It's self- directed learning. So, they have the chance to really get inside, some of these very difficult issues.

And I applaud the Biden administration, for bringing the African leaders, here, to Washington, D.C. But we need to raise the bar. We need to ask more of them. We are spending billions of dollars in aid. Where's the accountability? We are investing so much time and treasure. Where are the results?

These students, they're owed the same kind of future that we have. We can do it on an individual basis. I want the entire global community, regardless of partisanship, regardless of ideology, to see it in a very simple way that we really are our brothers' keeper, our sisters' keepers, and that we have to do more, to help people because, in the end, we'll all rise together, or we will all fail together.

CAMEROTA: It's inspiring, Frank. And we really do obviously want our best and our brightest young people to get involved in public service, and in leadership. So, let's hope that some of that that you just learned translates over here to the U.S.

Frank, great to see you. Thanks so much for being here.

LUNTZ: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, imagine you're at the airport. You're waiting for your flight to board when the dreaded cancellation blares over the speakers. What do you do? Do you go home?

Not our next guests! They decided to band together, and carpool, 20 hours, to their destination, with total strangers, across multiple States, through a snowstorm! They're here to tell us about it next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAMEROTA: When brutal winter weather upends your travel plans, right before Christmas, you've got to get creative. And that's exactly what my next guests did.

The foursome, were perfect strangers, when their flight was canceled, on Thursday, at Tampa International Airport. Today, they're bonded for life, after a long and unexpected road trip, together, to Cleveland.

And they documented their adventure, on TikTok. Here's just a piece of that.




Have a holly jolly Christmas It's the best time of the year



CAMEROTA: They look like they're having too much fun! The posts have gotten millions of views, in four days!

And the four road-trippers are here with us, tonight, Bridget Schuster, Greg Henry, Shobi Maynard, and Abby Radcliffe.


CAMEROTA: Welcome to all of you guys. It's great to see you.

Shobi, how did this happen that you were all strangers, and you decided, "Yes, let's rent a car, and drive 20 hours together?"

MAYNARD: Oh, well, well, so after our flight got canceled, we were trying to figure out what to do exactly, and how we're supposed to all work together. And I don't know whose idea it was. But we were just trying to work together. And eventually, Greg actually was like, "Hey, we should go ahead and rent a car." And he got that already. And then we did it. And we just, I don't know, honestly, we just sent it.

CAMEROTA: Abby, was there any moment, where you thought "Getting into a car with two guys that I don't know, at all, and another woman, and driving for 20 hours, maybe this isn't wise?"

ABBY RADCLIFFE, SHARED DRIVE WITH STRANGERS FROM TAMPA TO CLEVELAND: Definitely. There's definitely that moment of hesitation, where you're like, "OK, is this the best idea? Is this the best choice?"

And after a lot of conversation, and a lot of like thinking through, "OK, what are our other options," and that sort of thing, we just all decided to go for it. But there's definitely a lot of thought that goes into a decision like this.

CAMEROTA: So Greg, it's not as if this drive was easy. I mean, 20 hours, in a car, with strangers, number one, is probably never easy.

But there were dicey moments. You were driving through a snowstorm. I mean, it was dangerous. Look, we have some - you guys took video of it, and you posted it on TikTok. And there are definitely moments that are, as you're driving, it's, I mean, it's not whiteout conditions. But was it - was the driving hazardous at any time?

GREG HENRY, SHARED DRIVE WITH STRANGERS FROM TAMPA TO CLEVELAND: Oh, definitely. And it definitely was hard to manage that. We went so late, like we were driving, out 3 AM, so there's hardly any traffic. If there were traffic, that definitely would have slowed us down a lot more.

But being from Ohio, honestly, like, it wasn't going to stop me, like I've driven through some pretty bad snowstorms. But for people down South, like "You guys are nuts!"

CAMEROTA: Bridget, how did you decide who - how did you all decide who was going to drive? And did anybody sleep during these 20 hours?

BRIDGET SCHUSTER, SHARED DRIVE WITH STRANGERS FROM TAMPA TO CLEVELAND: We all kind of just took turns driving. We each had, I would say, pretty equal shifts. And it was just, if you felt like driving you could just be like, "All right, I'll drive next." And that's kind of how it went.

But nobody slept throughout the whole journey. It was I don't think anyone slept at all. So, we were definitely pretty exhausted when we got back. But, I think, we all feel like it was pretty well worth it.


CAMEROTA: So, Shobi, what's the lesson, here, for everyone watching?

MAYNARD: I mean, Alisyn, the lesson would definitely be, I don't know, just making sure that we don't see the bad in people, all the time. I think a lot of times people can just see the bad.

And, for us, we automatically had that connection, it seemed like, because we had that desperate time of like, almost like "We need to go back home to visit our families," so, definitely, easy to do, in like desperate time.

But definitely just trust people more. Maybe give them a chance. Maybe try not to just say, "Oh, that's not good, I don't know," so.

CAMEROTA: And Abby, are you guys going to see each other again?

RADCLIFFE: Yes, every Christmas, we're making this a yearly tradition.

CAMEROTA: Wait a minute! RADCLIFFE: No, I'm sure that--


RADCLIFFE: I'm sure we'll see each other, maybe on FaceTime.

CAMEROTA: You'll drive 20 hours, together, every Christmas?

RADCLIFFE: No, of course not. So yes, we would love to stay connected. And we've got like a group chat going. But if we see each other, in- person again, that would be lovely.

CAMEROTA: That's awesome. Well, you guys, it's great to see all of you. I'm so glad that it worked out. That is a nice lesson for everybody that you can rely on the kindness of strangers.

So, Bridget, Greg, Shobi, Abby, have a great rest of your holidays. Thanks so much for talking.

MAYNARD: Thanks, Alisyn.

HENRY: Thank you.

RADCLIFFE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK, the travel woes are not over. Sadly, as of this evening, Southwest Airlines has canceled at least 70 percent of their flights, and they're not done. So, they're not the only airline, of course, canceling flights.

Stay with us. We'll give you an update.