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U.S. To Accept As Many As 100,000 Ukrainian Refugees; Ukraine Says It Needs 1,000 American-Made Missiles Daily; January 6 Committee Has 29 Texts Between Ginni Thomas & Mark Meadows. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 25, 2022 - 12:30   ET



ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't mean that that's actually the number that's going to come to the United States. If you look for this year, they were targeting 125,000 refugees worldwide. And right now they're estimating just about 16,000 coming in. So this is all a tricky balance for the White House to play as they're trying to show that they are willing to accept these refugees. But really, it's just a drop in the bucket. Also, if you look at how many people are flowing out of Ukraine into countries, like Poland, it's gotten about 2 million refugees so far.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And there's been significant backlogs in the refugee system here in the U.S. That's one of the problems the Biden administration is contending with. The question is, how do they do it? They're saying some of these refugees will be admitted through the traditional program. They're also looking at possibly using humanitarian parole, which is maybe more of an expert way to get some refugees here. That's what they did for some of the tens of thousands of refugees who fled Afghanistan.

But for context, the U.N. estimates that 3.7 million refugees have fled this conflict in Ukraine, about 2.2 million are estimated to be in Poland, which is also why it was significant for Biden to choose Poland is where he is visiting today. But certainly you've seen more focus from the administration, the humanitarian side is conflict. The question is, can they actually accept as many refugees as they say they will.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And let's remember humanitarian parole, while it is an expedited process, also not perfect. Humanitarian parole is what the administration also used to evacuate Afghans as well, when Kabul fell. Right now you have -- they use that for roughly 75,000 Afghans, and that -- there are bureaucratic challenges for many of those people who have come to the country trying to navigate a really complicated system with a whole lot of --

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: I mean the activists say the refugee, the U.S. refugee system is basically broken. That is their argument, not just for Ukrainians, but also for Central Americans who are coming up as well.

KANNO-YOUNGS: You have to look at the last four years as well, to really look at all of the problems with the refugee system. When you have a cap that was lowered to a historically low of 15,000, that's not just a target number that also has a ripple effect on all of the resettlement agencies that are going to get funding also based off of what the government is targeting to bring in as well.

You also look at how the pandemic shuttered some embassies abroad, how there were fewer interviews as well, by immigration officials, all of that is coming to play now. It's going to be really challenging to hit that 100,000 target.

PHILLIP: All right, well, everybody stand by for us.

Coming up ahead, Russian forces are running low on air launched cruise missiles, as Ukrainian forces make some gains east of the capital city of Kyiv.



PHILLIP: A thousand missiles a day, Ukrainian leaders say they want 500 stinger anti-aircraft missiles and 500 javelin anti-tank missiles each day. To give you a sense of why they are so highly coveted, the stingers, they are lightweight and highly accurate. They can distinguish between enemy and friendly aircraft. And the javelins, those can be operated by a single soldier in the battlefield.

CNN has learned this from about all these new assets from a document detailing what the Ukrainian say that they need. And here with me to discuss all of this is retired Lieutenant General and CNN military analyst Mark Hertling. So Mark, you know, you heard about this request from the Ukrainians. We're also learning that the Russians are actually running low on their air launched cruise missiles. Taken together, what does this tell you?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, you're talking about an issue of resupply and logistics right now at this stage of the campaign, Abby, it's on both sides. The Russians have been using ammunition like crazy. And on the battlefield, they have had real difficulty in terms of getting resupply operations. And that's one of the major factors that are current that is occurring right now.

Ukraine has had what the military calls a target rich environment. So they have been hitting all these forces with javelins. They've been using quite a bit of stinger missiles against helicopters and aircraft, they've down almost 200 of the combined helicopter and fixed wing aircraft going on over -- operating over Ukraine. So the javelin which you're showing right now, like you said, it is a very simple weapon to fire. It's a top down attack, which means it comes in, in the top of the tank and hits from the where the armor is the thinnest and it's deadly, it can shoot out of beyond 3,000 meters.

And any soldier can be trained very quickly to use it. So they are using this against all targets when you consider the amount of mounted vehicles that the Russian force has, the combination of stingers and laws, rocket propelled grenades, all the type of anti-armor weapons they're using are just -- they're running out of them. What you're showing now is the stinger missile that also is relatively easy to fire, but it's deadly at a low altitude of aircraft, both helicopters and low flying jets.

Both of these have been instrumental in combating the Russian force. And what you have to consider too is these are individual soldiers firing these weapons. When you're talking about what they hit, it normally destroys and kills a crew of anywhere from three people to 10 people, perhaps even a helicopter full of people if it's a transport aircraft, so you're talking about the odds of these things, hitting the right kind of targets, really having a causative effect.


PHILLIP: Incredibly efficient weapons for the Ukrainians becomes important when we talk about the city of Kyiv. Let's take a look at this. This is where the battle is to come. How critical is what's going to happen here. The Ukrainian say they've been able to push the Russians actually back from the capital city. They have not been able to encircle Kyiv. How critical is this battle that is coming up.

HERTLING: Yes, I'll go even one further Abby. They've not only pushed them back, but they're near encircling the Russian forces around the key towns of Irpin which is on your map, another one Buka, which is on your map and Hostomel. They literally have the, what's called the 35th combined arms army consolidated in those, and encircled in those areas. So they're using those stingers and those javelin missiles and the other anti-tank missiles to attempt to destroy that army that is not getting resupplied.

Remember that long 40-mile convoy, the Ukrainians have done some masterful work and conducting an active defense and eliminating that resupply convoy, tanks, and BMPs of the Russian force can't go longer than a day or two without fuel. They're certainly low on food. They don't have the medical support that they need from that resupply column. So you're talking about what started as a 70,000 person, army of Russia going into that area that is now near encircled by the Ukrainians, and without getting any resupplies.

So that's something I'm watching very closely. The other point I'd make on this is they have not only pushed them out, they have pushed them beyond artillery range for the city of Kyiv. So the Russians now cannot or having difficulty firing artillery, missiles, and rockets, short term rockets at Kyiv proper, they still have the long range missiles that as you just said a minute ago, they're running low on those as well.

PHILLIP: And just before you go, quickly, President Biden met with American troops from the 82nd airborne in Poland today. What did you think when you saw that?

HERTLING: Well, I've been involved in these kind of visits like this. And you can tell the President is joking around, he's shaking hands, he having a good time, taking selfies, and he seems natural. And truthfully, Abby, it kind of made me get a little bit emotional, because I just love being with soldiers. I know how they're reacting to this in terms of this charismatic leader, that's a monster list.

There's no politics going on. There's no bashing of the other side. It's just being with the troops, being with the airborne soldiers. You can tell both the division commanders is to Mr. Biden -- the President's right, and certain majors to his left right there, he's behind them now. These are guys that that are the leaders of the division. They know what they're asking of their soldiers on a very short notice. And it's just -- it's very emotional to me, as a former soldier, having been in that situation deployed and know what's going on.

PHILLIP: You know, better than anyone. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, what it means to have American President visit those troops. Thank you so much.


And coming up ahead for us, 29 text messages, that is how many times the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas pressed Trump Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows to continue the big lie.


PHILLIP: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is out of the hospital after being treated for an infection is released though comes a day after the January 6th Committee revealed it has 29 text messages between his wife and former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Virginia who goes by Ginni Thomas is a conservative activist and the wife of Clarence Thomas. Her text messages show that she pressed Meadows to overturn the 2020 election.

Just three days after the election, Thomas sent this message. Do not concede. It takes time for the army who is gathering for his back, referring to the former President Donald Trump. And on November 24th, when Biden had officially been declared the winner, she sent this. I can't see Americans swallowing the obvious fraud. Just going with one more thing, no freaking consequences, the whole coup and now this, we just cave to people wanting Biden to be appointed? And we just caved to people wanting Biden to be appointed, many of us can't continue the GOP charade.

And our panel is back with me to discuss. There are many, many more of messages like that, including some of the most outlandish conspiracy theories. But the issue here is about Clarence Thomas. He was the only Supreme Court Justice to dissent when Trump tried to get his documents to not be turned over to the January 6th Committee. And now the question is, should he have recused but in the future, what does the court do?

SAENZ: Yes, I mean, it's long been known that Ginni Thomas is a conservative activist, but this is certainly raising more eyebrows about whether they've had conversations about the overturning of the election. And what kind of conflict of interest this poses for Justice Thomas. We have already heard many progressives, saying that he needs to recuse himself. So far, this has all fallen along party lines. But it certainly raises

questions about these conflicts of interest, especially at a time when Supreme Court justices typically go to such lengths to try to avoid any impropriety. And these text messages raised serious questions about the discussions that they've had relating to these issues.


SIDDIQUI: Right. The Supreme Court does not have the same binding rules that are in place for federal judges when it comes to recusal. But there are norms. And in addition to Clarence Thomas being the lone dissent in the case, you mentioned, when the majority rejected Trump's efforts to withhold documents from the January 6th panel, he also dissented in early 2021, when the court rejected a handful of cases related to the election that had been filed by former President Trump and his allies.

And so I think there are a lot of court watchdogs who are saying, Look, no justice is responsible for the political views of his or her spouse. But there are certainly some conflict of interest questions to be raised here, especially when we're just seeing dozens of messages that floated false claims about the election and really pressed Mark Meadows, Trump's former chief of staff, to help overturn the election.

PHILLIP: I mean, this is real, you know, anti-Democratic stuff on the part of Ginni Thomas. And one of the reasons people are talking about, OK, Clarence Thomas, how much did he know, what -- how involved was his wife and all of this, she has one text message that says thank you needed that, this is to Mark Meadows, this plus a conversation with my best friend just now, I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it.

It's the mention of the best friend part that I think also has people raising their eyebrows. Just about, you know, how much overlap is there here and not to mention, it bears repeating. She's trying to overturn a free and fair election here.

KANNO-YOUNGS: It's a bit of a tricky balance, a tricky line, when you're -- when you can claim or say that you're not talking to your husband about work about these words, but you're still messaging the Chief of Staff. I'm not just messaging messages that very much indicate overturning an electoral process, but also navigating the White House at that time to some of the prominent figures that we know were also key in that process to try and overturn the election such as Sidney Powell, such as a former commentator for Info Wars as well.

So it's, it's not just as you know, the communication, the messaging here, but it's also some of the Navigating of hey, I mean, include Sidney here.

PHILLIP: Well, here's one of those messages, she says, just forwarded your gmail and e-mail I sent to Jared this morning. Sidney Powell and improved coordination now will help the cavalry come and fraud exposed and America saved. Jared, no last name, but believed to be potentially a reference to Jared Kushner, the president's son in law. And Sidney Powell push pushing this person who even people in the

White House wanted to already get out of this process raises some questions, though, about the January 6th Committee. Do they need to get more from Ginni Thomas about all of this?

SAENZ: Yes, that's certainly one of the next big questions is will they try to subpoena Ginni Thomas after seeing these messages? Of course, these are just 29 messages. Who else was she texting? Were there more text messages between her and Meadows going forward or since those had evolved?

But yes, those are going to be big questions about whether the Committee wants to hear directly from her about her involvement or thinking and discussions on overturning the election.

PHILLIP: It's a question of how involved, was she potentially, you know, she does say this. She's acknowledged, she was at the January 6th rally at the ellipse. She said she was not at the Capitol, so be it. She says this to Mark Meadows. We are living through what feels like the end of America. Most of us are disgusted with the VP and are in listening mode to see where to fight with our teams.

Those who attack the Capitol are not representative of our great teams of patriots for Donald J. Trump. Amazing times. The end of liberty. She's talking about teams. There's a lot of unanswered questions and all of this. But I think if you're the January 6th Committee, you want to know more.

SIDDIQUI: You want to know more you want to know who in Trump's inner circle was in communication with the organizers of the insurrection, how much they knew, when did they know it. And also, it's important to turn up -- to point out, as you said, this is about overturning a free and fair election. And it's also part of Trump's strategy as he tries to reenter the political space to create doubts about the integrity of future elections. So it's not just what happened in the past. It's also about what happens in the future.

PHILLIP: Very much still active. Thank you for all for being here today.


And a key swing vote in the Senate throws to support behind President Biden's pick for the Supreme Court.


PHILLIP: Kim Jong-un personally directed the launch of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile in North Korea this week, according to the North Korean state media KCNA. The North Korean leader called it a quote successful development.

And today Senator Joe Manchin announced that he will vote in favor of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, virtually assuring that she'll be confirmed. The West Virginia Democrat said he made the decision after meeting with Judge Jackson considering her record and monitoring her questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

And U.S. officials are scrambling to prepare a record breaking surge of migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border this spring. In a CNN exclusive, the chief of the U.S. border patrol says that he is bracing for a staggering 8,000 apprehensions each day. That daily number could become the norm in the next 30 to 45 days.


And thank you for joining INSIDE POLITICS today. Ana Cabrera and Don Lemon pick up our coverage right now.