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Sean Hannity's Nov. 3rd Text To Mark Meadows Asks: "Any Place In Particular We Need A Push?"; Mayor: Influx Of Ukrainian Refugees Is Straining Warsaw; NY Judge Holds Donald Trump In Contempt. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 25, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Hannity has a radio show. Hannity replies. Yes, sir. On it. Any place in particular we need a push. Meadows, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona. Hannity, yes. Meadows, Nevada. Hannity, got it. Everywhere.

I just want to add, there are a lot of reporters in these texts, as you would expect, because they reach out to the Chief of Staff. There are other "Fox" hosts. There are CNN reporters, reporters from "The New York Times," "Washington Post," "ABC," "NBC," but there is nothing like these texts between Sean Hannity and Meadows.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Let's be clear, that is not normal. That is not normal for people who don't know how we communicate. It is not normal for somebody who works for a purported news organization, despite the fact that he is clearly not a journalist and doesn't even really purport to be. That's not OK.

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's not normal. And Dana, the equivalent would be Ron Klain, who is President Biden's Chief of Staff, texting you nonstop to say, hey, President Biden would love it if you talked about this on your show on Sunday, this weekend, and you going ahead and doing it.

Can I just quickly note one thing that really stood out from Jamie's excellent reporting, this idea that these text messages appear to act as an echo chamber, affirming Trump's false claims that the election was stolen, I just think that someone like Mark Meadows was being constantly inundated as these text messages show, even at moments when he had doubts about the strategic, you know, whether it was a good strategy, whether this was worth doing. He's just getting bombarded over and over again, by people around the president.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But to your point, what's interesting about that, even though he does seem to be kind of the repository for all the crazy ideas that everyone in the conservative ecosphere had, as it related to this, at no point does he ever push back and say, this is a bad idea. He talks about it maybe from a strategy standpoint, and I don't know if that's the best course of action that we should take.

But at no point does Mark Meadows stand up as a leader as one of the most powerful people in the country at that time and say, no, there's no there, there. We just need to move on. We need to transition. We need to figure out the next steps. He fully is complicit in all of this from the very start.

BASH: No, it's so important, such fantastic reporting. It feels like we're just on the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more to look at and to go through which I know you've done already, but we'll hear more about it later. Thanks to both of you for your excellent reporting as well.

And Warsaw's mayor is warning that his city is at capacity as it braces for another influx of Ukrainian refugees. He's here in Washington asking for help and he's going to be right here on set joining me live, next.



BASH: The Polish capital of Warsaw has welcomed more than 300,000 Ukrainian refugees since Russia's unprovoked attack, a huge influx for a city of not even 2 million people. And while they're opening their doors, opening their arms, the strain on the city is mounting. Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski joins me now. Thank you so much. It's nice to see you here in person.

And the reason you are here in person is related to what you told me when I met you in Warsaw last month, which is that your city even then was overextended. You said the people of Warsaw have been incredibly generous opening their homes, open the services. But the question "The New York Times" posed when talking about this over the weekend, I thought was really apt, which is, is the welcome mat frame?

MAYOR RAFAL TRZASKOWSKI, FORMER POLISH EUROPE MINISTER: Yes. Well, I mean, that's a very important question, because unfortunately, we see the escalation of war in Ukraine. And we see more and more people coming, again crossing the Ukrainian Polish border. And of course Warsaw is at capacity. So we need to prepare for more. And that's why I'm here in Washington, because I want to talk to lawmakers to the Joe Biden's administration to explain the situation in Poland and also convince our friends here in America, that money should go directly to refugees, nongovernmental organizations, and also to local governments.

BASH: Talk about that a little bit because, you know, not to get too deep for an American audience into the politics in Poland, but it is important. You obviously are the mayor of the capital city. What specifically do you need that you're not getting?

TRZASKOWSKI: Well, you know, this situation is pretty unusual, because if you're in Warsaw, you don't see pitch tents in park, so people in the streets, you know, all of the refugees are at people's homes. And of course, we need, we need a direct help for people, for refugees themselves, for example, they need to receive the money directly so that they can actually go and buy things themselves so that it doesn't have to be organized by city services. Of course, we need support for non-governmental organizations which help women, children, people in need to people with disabilities and so on. They're the experts at organizing it. And we need support at a local level because most of the responsibility is on us, on mayors of the cities. So it can go just to the central government and our relations with the central government are pretty strained. So I'm here to explain what we need specifically and how help should be organized.

BASH: And we were talking before coming on about the fact that watching what's happening in Ukraine, there is intense fighting that is building in places like Odessa, for example. And you're expecting a potential second wave of refugees to come across the border maybe towards you in Warsaw.


TRZASKOWSKI: Right. Because just four days ago, I was talking to Ukrainians who came to Warsaw, and they were from Donbass. They were there for eight years in the war zone. And they were saying, we're not going to move. We've seen it all. But when they've seen the atrocities that the Russian army committed in Bucha, in Irpin, and so on, and so forth, they decided to move.

So, even the people who wanted to stay near the war zone, now they're moving. And of course, that means that we might expect the second wave of refugees. And Poland has accepted 3 million refugees. We are like the second in the world, when it comes to the number of refugees in one country.

And if a second wave comes, then of course, we need help. We need a relocation system so that we start sharing the burden within Europe and also with the United States of America, because Ukrainians are fighting also for our freedom and for the stability of transatlantic relations. We need to help them.

BASH: And I mean, I guess the question is you need to help them, but do you even have the capacity to absorb more, especially since as you were mentioning, a lot of the refugees who came across the border and are still in places like your city of Warsaw are still living in people's private homes? And the question is, how long can that last?

TRZASKOWSKI: That's a very good question. Maybe there will be a need to build a reception center here or there. And of course, we need to be prepared for that. But also, we've granted Ukrainians free access to our education, to our healthcare, to our social services. So we need help there. For example, we can hire Ukrainian teachers from among the refugees to help us out in our schools. We've enrolled already almost 20,000 kids in Warsaw schools, but there are 120,000 kids in Warsaw, just from among the refugees. So we need help here as well.

For example, we're doing an online teaching courses for them so that they can follow the Ukrainian curriculum. And we're teaching them Polish. We need an I.T. support, we need computers. And you know, there were -- those are the specific things that we're going to talk about, how to organize specific help for the refugees, and for cities such as Warsaw, which is taking most of the responsibility during the current crisis.

BASH: It has really been remarkable to see the generosity of the Polish people and of the government towards Ukrainian refugees. But your country hasn't always been that welcoming. There -- it was just at the end of last year, there was a different set of refugees, mostly Middle Eastern refugees coming, trying to come to Poland over the Belarusian border.

And the government, the central government really pushed them back. They responded by deploying water cannons, tear gas even beginning to build a wall. Why is this different? Why are the Ukrainian refugees different from those of Middle Eastern?

TRZASKOWSKI: Well, three things need to be said, you know, I'm representing the opposition. So we wanted, we wanted to help refugees in 2015 and '16. I was responsible for that, because I was Minister of European Integration. But the new government, the conservative populist government, they decided not to let anyone cross a Polish border. And they were playing a populist game against refugees, stoking up fears, and so on and so forth.

When it comes to the recent crisis, you know, Putin and Lukashenko wanted to destabilized Europe by actually inviting refugees to cross over the border. But of course, I don't condone what this government was doing with them. Here, the situation is completely different because every poll knows that Ukrainians are fighting for our freedom as well. There's, of course, also, this is politically incorrect. But it needs to be said, there is this cultural affinity as well, linguistic affinity.

You know, these guys are just like us. So of course, there's this instinct of a heart to help them out. And this situation is absolutely clear. It's like a David and Goliath, you know, like this goodness fighting this ultimate evil. So everyone wants to help. But of course, at the end of the day, we need to share that responsibility. We cannot do it on our own. And that's why it is very important also to talk to the American public, and explain how the situation is on the ground, how the situation is on the ground, and tell our friends, how they can help us out and how they can ultimately help Ukraine.

BASH: So it sounds like you're saying the U.S. government, NGOs, international organizations, things like that, because I'm sure a lot of people are going to be watching saying how can I help and that's the answer. And I will say that I did get to witness what you've done, what you did there, not just in resettling them, but in the social services, especially mental health, which is really phenomenal.

TRZASKOWSKI: It's very, very important.

BASH: Mr. Mayor, thank you so much.

TRZASKOWSKI: Thank you very much.

BASH: Thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.

TRZASKOWSKI: Thank you for having me. [12:44:39]

BASH: And up ahead, a stunning new assessment from the British defense secretary about Russia's military forces in Ukraine.


BASH: And we have breaking news, a New York judge just ruled that Donald Trump, the former president, should be held in contempt. I want to get straight to Kara Scannell who was in New York. Kara, what can you tell us?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dana, so the judge here in New York State Supreme Court just said that former President Donald Trump is held in civil contempt and that he will be fined $10,000 a day until he cures this contempt. This all relates to a civil subpoena that the New York Attorney General's Office had sent to him in December. They say that he hasn't complied with it at all, that he has produced zero documents relating to this subpoena which they have said is impossible since he was the head of that organization.


They said that they need these records to complete their investigation. And they're coming up on a deadline, where they say that they could be forced to take an enforcement action to -- because of this looming deadline. Now, the judge saying here, he says, Mr. Trump, I know you take your business seriously, and I take mine seriously, and that's when he said he would hold them in contempt.

Now Trump's attorneys have said that they did comply with the subpoena that they have no documents, that they have searched Trump's file cabinets. That his attorney Alina Habba told the judge that she flew down to Mar-a-Lago question the President about the subpoena. Went through item by item asking him, if he had anything related to the subpoena, which he said he didn't.

But the judge said that that was insufficient for her to say that today in court, but not to say that under oath in any court filings. So he left it open for her to correct this, or to even have the former president file an affidavit and say under oath, that he has no documents that relate to this subpoena.

BASH: Kara, thank you so much for that reporting. Appreciate it. And now we're going to turn back to what's happening in Ukraine, 15,000 Russian military personnel were killed in Ukraine over the past two months. That's according to the British defense secretary. And that's more than double the number of American military death tolls in both Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, just to put that figure in context.

I want to go now to retired Brigadier General and former Assistant Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, Mark Kimmitt. Thank you so much, General. So let's talk about what happened over the weekend, Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, told reporters, we want to curb Russian military capabilities, listen to that.


LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can't do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine. So it has already lost a lot of military capability and a lot of a lot of its troops, quite frankly. And we want to see them not have the capability to very quickly reproduce that capability.


BASH: How should we interpret that statement?

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), FORMER ASST. SECY. OF STATE FOR POLITICAL-MILITARY AFFAIRS: Well, I think that Secretary Austin doesn't need any interpretation when he says that. I find the statement a little bit worrisome, because it gives the impression that we're not supporting the territorial defense of Ukraine, but we're effectively fighting Russia in a war by proxy through Ukraine.

BASH: That's really interesting. Because that was one of the things I was wondering how you read it specifically, because it's not just about diplomacy or military support, it's also about optics and posturing. And he clearly had that prepared. You've been in dicey situations. You've been in Iraq, where political messaging is really key. So do you think that that was his goal, as you just said, or do you think that maybe that's not really what he meant to telegraph that all of a sudden, Ukraine is a proxy for the U.S. to get to Russia?

KIMMITT: Well, I think we've gone out of our way not to provoke Russia. We haven't set up a no-fly zone. We haven't provided high tech equipment that we could. We haven't put American troops on the ground inside of Ukraine. I think that's been done intentionally not to send any provocative justification to President Putin. And I'm afraid that this statement could be interpreted as just that.

BASH: To -- and what would the potential ramifications of that be if that -- if you say it's provocative, particularly from a defense department that has been so be careful not to do anything that's, quote unquote escalatory?

KIMMITT: Yes, I agree. And there was a report this morning from Vivian Salama that said, we're intentionally not sanctioning Putin's girlfriend because it would be seen as provocative and now this statement comes out. I think it just gives more justification to Putin in his narrative with his people as to why we need to continue this war. And we want to be ending this war not continuing this war to reduce his military capability.

BASH: This morning, we saw Russia attack five railway stations in the west and in central Ukraine. Tactic -- first of all, tactically, what's the strategy? And secondly, do you think Putin potentially deliberately ordered those strikes as Austin and Blinken were wrapping up their trip?

KIMMITT: I don't know if it was meant to send a message to Secretaries Austin and Blinken. But it's a logical military tactic to go against the logistics hubs to slow down the weapons and equipment that's coming in from the West. So I don't see anything particularly illogical about it. I see something particularly horrible about it because those same railway stations are being used to move refugees out, as well as weapons in.


BASH: Yes. And we have about 15 seconds here, if you can just talk quickly about what those railways are used to bring in to Ukraine.

KIMMITT: Well, simply if we're talking about bringing in 90 howitzers. Howitzers are very difficult to bring in by air. They're hard to drive across hundreds of miles of open roads, so the quickest way to get them to the battlefield is by rail.

BASH: Yes. That makes sense. Thank you so much General Kimmitt. Appreciate it. And thank you for joining INSIDE POLITICS. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage after a quick break.