Return to Transcripts main page

New Day Saturday

Biden's Stark Warning: Winter Of "Severe Illness And Death" Ahead; TikTok Videos Warning School Violence Puts Many On High Alert; Michigan Lawmakers Push Firearm Safety Package; Ceremonies Honor Tornado Victims Killed In Amazon Warehouse; Roger Stone Pleads The Fifth Before 1/6 Committee; Sources: Jan. 6 Investigators Believe "Strategy" Text To Undermine 2020 Election Came From Rick Perry. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 18, 2021 - 08:00   ET



ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: But all of these areas have the potential for some flooding as well, especially if you get some of those consistent bands that make their way through some of these areas. And we're also keeping an eye on another system making its way into the Pacific Northwest as well.

PAULA REID, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Allison, thank you so much for that. The next hour of "New Day" starts right now.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your "New Day." I'm Boris Sanchez.

REID: And I'm Paula Reid in for Christi Paul.

The Biden administration wins a court battle over federal vaccine mandates as the Omicron variant prompts new shutdowns and COVID once again, test the nation's hospitals.

SANCHEZ: Plus a rumor on TikTok goes viral putting schools, students and parents on high alert. Will tell you what officials and the social media platform are now saying.

REID: And a judge hands down the strictest sentence yet to a Capitol rioter as the January 6 committee meets with one a former President Trump's closest allies.

SANCHEZ: And Tiger Woods is back on the golf course just 10 months after a devastating car accident. Will tell you everything you need to know about his comeback.

Buenos Dias on a Saturday, December 18th. Thank you so much for waking up with us. Paula. Good morning. Welcome to "New Day."

REID: Good morning. It's so great to be up early with you. Got lots of coffee and lots of news.

And we begin this morning for us the start of the holiday travel rush but worrying signs the Omicron variant is fueling a rise in COVID-19 infections.

SANCHEZ: Yes, President Biden issued a start warning this week for the unvaccinated prepare for a winter of severe illness and death. Hospitalizations have been trending upward for more than two months. But the United States is now averaging 121,000 new COVID-19 cases every single day. Those are levels not seen since the end of the summer surge in September.

REID: And rates are rising fastest in parts of the Northeast, Midwest and South. In New York State alone positive COVID-19 cases jumped 154% in less than a week. Now, Christmas and New Year's Eve approaching more than 20 million people are expected to fly over the next two weeks. Dr. Anthony Fauci warns it's only a matter of time before Omicron becomes the dominant variant in the U.S. and getting vaccinated or boosted remains key.


ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: We're in a midst in a situation where you are now facing a very important Delta surge and we are looking over our shoulder at an oncoming Omicron surge.

The optimum protection is fully vaccinated plus a boost.


SANCHEZ: Let's bring in CNN's Polo Sandoval, he joins us now live.

Polo, there is growing concern that we are just at the start of a winter surge. What's the latest?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Boris, all you have to do is really look behind me even on a rainy chilly Saturday morning folks already lined up outs lining up outside of the search and care clinic many of them here telling me that they are here to get COVID tested and as you just mentioned a little while ago if you live in New York and in many of the states also experiencing sharp increases. They certainly have a reason to what New York City experiencing one of its highest COVID case count so far recently.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are rising once again in the U.S. prompting disruptions and cancellations as the country enters another pandemic holiday season. When beloved holiday tradition now cancelled the New York City, Radio City Music Hall announced Friday its Christmas Spectacular shows are canceled for the rest of the season quote, due to the increasing challenges from the pandemic.

New York State reporting that on Thursday, it had the highest single day count of new COVID-19 cases with just over 21,000 according to data released on Friday. New York State also revealed that positive COVID-19 cases in the state jumped 154% in less than a week. The previous high was on January 14th, when there were 19,900 new cases reported. The Omicron variant has been identified in at least 40 states in addition to Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico according to public statements from hospital systems and state officials in their respective states. It's too soon to assume if the Omicron variant will cause milder disease experts say.

FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NIH: It's clear that Omicron is an extremely contagious variant that it doubles every two to four days. And you just have to look at the projections of what that means. And yes, we are in for a lot of cases of people getting infected with this virus.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): Across the country and states like Oregon, officials are warning of severe illness and a surge in hospitalizations now that Omicron has been detected in the state. And in Hawaii, the governor said in a news conference Friday that the state is seeing quote, an alarming increase the number of COVID-19 cases. Vaccines are still the best way to find COVID-19 officials say.


FAUCI: We'd still have 50 million or more people in this country who have not yet even gotten their first vaccination. That is really unacceptable. If we want to get through the challenge of a Delta, which is bad enough, we're looking at straight in the face and then over your shoulder is coming Omicron. That's a very tenuous and difficult situation. So we've got to do the things that are available to us, vaccination, boosting, masking when you're in an indoor setting.

SANDOVAL (voice-over): The Biden administration scored a significant victory Friday in its court battles to enforce various federal vaccine mandates, with an appeals court ruling that the government can enforce a vaccine or testing rule for companies with more than 100 employees.

FAUCI: We will win this war with this virus, but we will win it only because and because we apply the things that we have, the interventions, we are so fortunate that we have a highly effective and safe vaccine. We know what public get -- what public health mitigations work. We've just got to hang in there. We can't give up.

JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: We have the tools to do it. But we need the American people to do their part to protect themselves, their children and their communities.


SANDOVAL: And then, of course, there are those studies that suggest that the Omicron variant causes milder symptoms. But just this week, the head of the NIH director Francis Collins is telling CNN that is still too soon to assume that more research needs to be done.

It is so highly contagious doubling every two to four days, which is really why that she's underscoring the need for people to go out and get tested a week before Christmas here, especially if they're going to be gathering with family members that again, as you see behind me even before the surgeon clinics opened, you already see the line starting to build here folks going to get that test. And you see it now only all over the city here but I'm sure throughout much of the country as well. Paula and Boris.

SANCHEZ: Polo Sandoval reporting from New York. Thank you so much.

Let's discuss all things COVID with Dr. Chris Pernell, she's a fellow with the American College of Preventative Medicine. She's also a public health physician in Newark, New Jersey.

Dr. Pernell, thank you so much for sharing part of your weekend with us. I'm wondering what your reaction is to seeing the surge in cases, some areas, breaking records.

CHRIS PERNELL, FELLOW, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE: You know, Boris, its frustrating and alarming at the same time. We find ourselves facing a winter surge where there are actually two threats. There's the ongoing threat of Delta. And there's the looming threat of Omicron. I can tell you, I even had a COVID exposure earlier in the week, had to do a series of tests and I came back negative thankfully.

But the Omicron variant really is showing that if you haven't been vaccinated and boosted, then you're not fully protected. And as Dr. Fauci said, we still have a considerable amount of Americans who haven't even received their first shot. That's why we got to do everything we can do a full court press, get tests everywhere, flip the streets with tests, and make sure we're using mobile vaccination options. Because that's the only way that we're going to reach those in the hardest to reach communities.

SANCHEZ: And Dr. Pernell, I heard Dr. Fauci say earlier this week that it was only a matter of time before the definition of fully vaccinated is changed to include getting a booster. Isn't it better for the CDC to change that definition early, to make sure that people are getting the booster, especially in light of the Omicron variant?

PERNELL: Emphatically, yes. I think that time has come and gone, you're not fully vaccinated unless you're boosted. Omicron has already proven that, we even know with Omicron that people who previously had COVID don't have the level of protection from natural immunity that we've seen with other variants. We need to go ahead change the definition and push and encourage as many people as possible who are eligible. So those who are 16 and above to make sure that they get boosted, we have to have a hand in hand strategy. Vaccinate the unvaccinated and boost the unboosted.

SANCHEZ: And Doctor, Pfizer's now introducing a third dose and vaccine trials for kids under 16. They say that two doses did not produce the results that they had hoped for in two to five year olds. I'm wondering what you think this means for parents that are trying to protect their young kids from the virus.

PERNELL: This means that we're going to have to wait a little bit longer for a vaccine to be available for those in the two to five and then even the six month and a beyond age range. But it also means that adults who are in the lives of children, you must be vaccinated and you must be boosted.

And it also means on the level of city schools, states that we've got to get testing into communities we need to mel out tests there in one medical school here in New York, Rutgers New Jersey medical school, there are tests in a vending machine, we need to get creative and innovative about how accessible testing is and that's how we're going to keep our children who aren't vaccinated safe in our entire household safe.


SANCHEZ: There's preliminary data that shows that Omicron could be more contagious than other variants. We don't know yet if it is more deadly. Do you think we should potentially change the way that we measure success in terms of case numbers or hospitalizations?

PERNELL: Well, it's still important to measure hospitalizations because that really talks about the demand on the health care system. But bottom line, no one needs to get coronavirus. We still don't know how Omicron will play out when it comes to long COVID. We know that at least a third of those who have been infected with coronavirus can go on to develop it.

So we need to prevent as many infections as possible and save as many lives as possible. We can do both of those things. A multi layered mitigation strategy is the only thing that is going to beat back this pandemic. We got to keep saying that and we got to keep delivering on that.

SANCHEZ: Dr. Chris Pernell, we always appreciate your expertise. Thank you so much.

PERNELL: Thank you.

REID: Still ahead, a viral threat on TikTok about school violence leave schools and students on edge. Will tell you what's behind the rumors and what the social media platform is saying about it.

Plus, it was a busy week for the committee investigating the January 6 riot who they heard from this week. And what former Trump administration official they believe is behind one of those text messages sent to Mark Meadows about trying to overturn the election.



SANCHEZ: This was really unsettling parents, students and school officials all over the nation were on edge yesterday and they may still have reason to be. There was a vague TikTok trend, videos warning of nationwide school violence and these videos went viral. Several states prompted widespread school closures and stretch law enforcement resources out of safety precautions.

REID: Now the Department of Homeland Security says there's no evidence that threats are credible. Facility authorities are asking the public to remain on alert.

CNN's Brian Todd has the full story.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Altadena, California, parents and students on edge over social media traffic on school violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It sounds scary. So I told my mom the other day I didn't want to come.

AMANDA MARCISSE, PARENT: It just feels like an evolution of a current problem to me. It just feels like a virus that's, you know, evolving and growing because I grew up through Columbine and all that. So, it feels like it's getting worse and worse and worse.

TODD (voice-over): They're responding to a trend on the social media platform TikTok first seen Thursday that has since gone viral. Rumors warning of potential violence at schools across the country on Friday. None of this has been deemed credible. TikTok says it has not found any original specific threats of violence that may have prompted the warnings. The Department of Homeland Security also says it has no evidence to suggest the claims are credible.

Still, school districts from Minnesota to Texas shut schools down on Friday as a result. Other districts were on high alert with extra police officers sent to guard schools. All of it adding to the stress of teachers and administrators.

PATRICIA HOPKINS, SUPERINTENDENT, MAINE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICT 11: Given the state that we are in right now. There is heightened anxiety or concern. We have made sure that our crisis teams are meeting and that we are prepared. Should the worst happen.

TODD (voice-over): This photo is from a teacher in Maine who told us the school wanted to make sure teachers had these restraints for their classroom doors if needed.

One school psychologist says actual school shootings sometimes tend to spawn traffic like this on social media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do know that there appears to be a contagion effect in some cases when an act of violence such as the Michigan school shooting a few weeks ago, when something like that happens, there tends to be more threats that follow that.

TODD (voice-over): On Friday afternoon, TikTok said it had begun removing the warnings from its platform saying they were misinformation. Former police Chief Charles Ramsey says this doesn't just put more stress on schools, but police departments as well.

CHARLES RAMSEY, FMR PHILADELPHIA POLICE CHIEF: This is the holiday season, shopping season, you already have police officers assigned to many of the shopping locations, and so forth. So this is just not a time to stretch resources further. TODD (voice-over): But what also worries Ramsey as well as officials at TikTok, and a law enforcement source who spoke to CNN is that this social media narrative, even without any credible threat might inspire a lone wolf to carry out a real attack.

RAMSEY: We have a lot of people that are influenced by what they see online. They're, you know, mentally unbalanced, and there's no telling what they might do.

TODD (on-camera): While some school districts shut down completely, some others that remained open took unique precautions. One large school district near Houston telling students and parents it was enforcing a one day policy to make students leave their backpacks at home.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


REID: Well, Michigan schools were already on edge after the fatal shooting last month at Oxford High School and a threat against the middle school in the same district just this week. Law enforcement gave that district the all clear but officials kept schools closed, saying the community just isn't ready to return.

Now my next guest has been pushing for stricter gun laws in an effort to prevent tragedies like the Oxford High School shooting, Michigan State Senator Rosemary Bayer, thank you so much for being with us. You represent the area and in fact used to live in Oxford. Thanks for joining us.

STATE SEN. ROSEMARY BAYER (D-MI): Thank you for having me. I appreciate the opportunity.

REID: So first of all, I want to get your take what is the reaction that you have heard from the people you represent to say these threats against the nation schools?

BAYER: Well, they're scared. I -- you know, my people in this district and actually outside of the district at this point, all around the state. We're hearing that they're afraid, people are just schools have been closing over the state in the last few weeks and nobody knows what to do.


So, we're kind of, kind of struggling with that as the people themselves not knowing how to handle this and looking to us.

REID: Well what would -- what do you tell them? What is your response based on your work on this issue?

BAYER: Well, you know, it's interesting, because I knew a lot of -- I know still many people in Oxford, it is in my district, but having lived there a long time, actually family members in the school. You -- we spent a week not telling any, well, we still haven't told anyone what to do, I will say that, the community was so horribly impacted, so emotional about everything and still is.

So, asking them or telling them what to do is not really, they're not really ready for that right now. We spent a lot of time, you know, trying to support them. And what we've done in the last week, sort of opened up our doors to say, what do you think? Do you -- are you ready to talk? Do you want to do something, just give us a call. And we've had a lot of people respond to that.

So, people are starting to move forward. You know, you it's a grieving process, right, we know that they're moving forward, and now they're looking for action. And so, it's been really great to hear the things that they think are needed. And it's a big range of opportunity or ideas for what the community themselves wants to do. But they do want to see some action.

REID: Well, you've backed several pieces of legislation aimed at improving, gun control, speaking of action, one could address situations like the one that allegedly proceeded the Oxford shooting suspects, parents are, of course, accused of letting them have access to a gun. They say it was safely stored. So what would your safe storage bill require gun owners to do?

BAYER: It does require gun owners to keep their firearms safely stored. So they're not accessible. It holds adults accountable. If you do have a firearm, and it's not safely stored, and a minor gets possession and causes harm to themselves or other, they would be held accountable with a felony. And also requires sellers to have a paper signed, that simply states that I understand as a purchaser. But my obligation is around safe storage and the accountability that I'll be held to if something happens.

And that matters, our county prosecutor in this circumstance, is very frustrated with the lack of adequate laws to be able to deal with, you know, parents that may be responsible for this.

REID: And if you look at the different states across the country, most states they have different gun cultures, different gun laws. Do you think that taking action against the horrific violence that we've seen? Do you think this is going to really have to be tackled state by state? Do you think anything's possible at the national level? Or will this really be a state by state concern?

BAYER: Well, it's certainly a state by state right now. Right? We in Michigan have introduced bills, multiple bills, actually, that would have impacted that shooting and other shootings that happen all the time. Right, not just safe storage, but extreme risk protection or (INAUDIBLE) of the Red Flag Bills, as we call it.

Even things like basic background checks that the people as a whole again, and again, in every poll, the majority of Democrats, Republicans and gun owners believe that we should have this responsible legislation. And this is just about public safety, responsible gun ownership, it doesn't even take guns away.

So, different states have different pieces in place. Some actually have a reasonable set of bills, it would be great to have it at the national level. What we're doing here right now is working with our Congress people.

So the Congresswoman who covers Oxford, that we work with all the time, this is Elissa Slotkin, she, she and I have been working together, our teams are working together, they actually just introduced the safe storage legislation that is comparable, very, very much the same as ours, Congress. So, we're going to work together, we're going to keep working together to ship from both sides, because this needs to get fixed.

REID: Absolutely. It just seems that Americans right now are under so much stress. There's so many reasons for concern, a new COVID variant inflation. And then this past week seems so many people afraid to send their children to school on this issue specifically of school violence threats against schools. Do you see any progress? Is there any good news? Because on the surface, it just looks like it's spiraling out of control.

BAYER: It does look like it's spiraling out of control. So the good that could come of this and we had talked to a lot of students, by the way, and they are looking at us, right? We are the adults in the room. Literally, we are the adults in the room. They're looking at us and saying you need to make it. We're not afraid to go to school. I mean, there's so direct, they're so direct. And that there's ways to do it.

So, this is the frustration the bills that we've introduced in Michigan, the bills that other states have introduced have proven in the places where they're in place to be that they work, that there is efficacy, we can reduce gun violence with these simple responsible gun ownership belts.


So, our hope this is what we're shooting for. Right. This is what we're talking about this is what push on the majority in the Michigan legislature is that this horrible tragedy is the final thing that gives them permission to re-evaluate their resistance right to go back and say, You know what, we see this. This is not taking guns away. This is making it safe, safe for the public, responsible gun ownership. Let's move forward on these bills to change their hearts and minds.

REID: Well, Senator, thanks for joining us. I remain skeptical. We've heard this again and again, we hope this even after Newtown, after Columbine, so many times we hope this will be the change. We just haven't seen it yet. But thank you so much for joining us Senator.

BAYER: We're not letting go though. Thank you, Paula. And we are not letting go of this. Yes.

REID: Best of luck with your work.

BAYER: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Edwardsville, Illinois paid tribute to the six people who died when a tornado struck an Amazon warehouse there. A candlelight vigil was held outside the warehouse last night one week after the deadly tornadoes tore through that area.

Another ceremony was held earlier in the day outside the Edwardsville Fire Department headquarters. The mayor there says that a dogwood tree is going to be planted in honor of the Amazon employees who died and the plaque is going to be placed next to the tree.

Carla Cope, the mother of one of the victims described her final conversation with her son.


CARLA COPE, MOTHER OF TORNADO VICTIM: We talked to him about 15 minutes before the storm hit. We called and told him to get to shelter and he said he had to go tell somebody. And so we said that go and then get to shelter and we said I love you and that was the last I got to him.


SANCHEZ: Heartbreaking. Cope's husband also works at the Amazon warehouse. He was fortunately not there when the tornado hit.

Coming up, Roger Stone is the latest member of Trump's inner circle to sit down with lawmakers investigating the January 6 insurrection. We'll tell you what he said and where the investigation goes from here.



SANCHEZ: He showed up in style but he didn't say much. A longtime supporter and adviser of Donald Trump appeared before the committee investigating the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill.

REID: Roger Stone did not answer any questions instead, invoking his Fifth Amendment right but the committee heard from other witnesses this week. CNN Ryan Nobles has an update on the committee's investigation.



RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Roger Stone, one of the former President Donald Trump's most prominent and controversial supporters met with the January 6 Select Committee.

STONE: I am doing my civic duty and I am responding as required by law to the subpoena.

NOBLES (voice-over): But he didn't say much.

STONE: I did invoke my Fifth Amendment rights to every question not because I have done anything wrong, but because I am fully aware of the House Democrats long history of fabricating perjury charges. NOBLES (voice-over): Stone use the opportunity in his traditional showman style, presenting himself as a martyr for the MAGA cause with well-worn accusations and not much substance.

STONE: This is witch hunt 3.0.

NOBLES (voice-over): Stone was among several high profile right-wing personalities who stoked false election fraud claims. And the fervor among Trump supporters.

STONE: Help us pay for the staging, the transportation and most importantly, the security of our peaceful protesters.

NOBLES (voice-over): He raised millions of dollars and was among the speakers at rallies in D.C. leading up to January 6th.

STONE: And now they seek nothing less than the heights of the 2020 election and we say, no way.

NOBLES (voice-over): While the interview with Stone was short and likely did not yield much information, the committee may have had more luck with Caroline Wren, another rally organizer who met with the committee for several hours. Multiple sources interviewed by the committee previously told CNN, investigators are interested in Wren's role as a fundraiser for various pro-Trump rallies, including the one on January 6th.

The committee also wants to hear from Phil Waldron, the man behind a PowerPoint presentation filled with plans to overturn the election results that the committee said Mark Meadows was in receipt of. Committee members say they've issued him a subpoena because they want to know more about the document.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE MEMBER: Who did you talk to? When did you talk to them? Why? Where did you get this information from?

NOBLES (voice-over): The committee furiously wrapping up a hectic week of work ahead of the holidays. The House referred Meadows to the Department of Justice for potential criminal contempt charges. Investigators interviewed dozens of witnesses, including high profile Trump allies, Keith Kellogg, but then National Security Adviser to the Vice President and Ken Klukowski, a former DOJ official.

And while most Republicans continue to cast doubt on the committee and its work, one very prominent Republican seems open to what they are discovering.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Well, I'm like you, I read their reports every day and it'll be interesting to see what they conclude.


[08:35:07] NOBLES: And while Stone did show up for his deposition with the committee, but probably didn't answer too many questions, another right wing conspiracy theorist is taking a bit of a different route.

Alex Jones was scheduled to meet with the committee on Saturday has had his deposition postponed. That's because the committee says he is engaging with them at the current moment. This despite his public claims that he had no intention of cooperating on any level.

Ryan Nobles, CNN on Capitol Hill.

REID: All right, for more on the 1/6 committee's work, let's bring in Ross Garber. He's a defense attorney and visiting professor at Tulane Law School. All right, thanks so much for being with us. We'll get to no surprise that Roger Stone refused to testify.

He loves this, right? He loves going before the cameras. He loves going and, you know, calling investigations invalid or corrupt. But he does have a right to invoke his Fifth Amendment if he has any true concern about any criminal repercussions. So how do you see this playing out for him?

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, well, and remember, Roger Stone was actually convicted of lying to Congress before. So he's been through this. You know, he was going to do everything he could to avoid having to testify. And most people, you know, when they consider invoking the Fifth don't, because they think it's going to look bad. That's not an issue for Roger Stone.

Now, you know, the House could try to get him granted immunity, they could challenge his invocation of the Fifth, I don't think they're going to do either of those things. I think, you know, he's going to invoke the Fifth and I think the committee is going to use other means to get it information. Remember, they've subpoenaed cell phone records, they've got lots of other witnesses who are testifying and lots of other witnesses who are cooperating.

REID: So I want to talk a little bit about some exclusive reporting by CNN. Members of the January 6 committee believe a November 4th text pushing a strategy to undermine the election results came from Rick Perry, the former Texas governor and former Trump Energy Secretary. And a spokesman for Perry told CNN that he denies being the author of the text.

But a few things here. One, it is notable that he would be pushing a strategy to potentially disenfranchise millions of voters the day after the election. But also the committee originally said that this was from a lawmaker, it's yet another sort of force error from the committee. So what's your reaction to this, and what does it mean for the investigation?

GARBER: Yes. So the member of the committee who said it was from a member of Congress, I think, is now corrected the record said that that was actually not the case. It's also not surprising that a Republican loyalists, Rick Perry, or anybody else would be, you know, pushing this idea. Because, you know, this was kind of the strategy that was there in plain sight anyway for quite a while, you know, this notion that the Vice President, that Mike Pence could actually, you know, have a substantive role, even though it's not correct.

You know, that was sort of a strategy point that have been pushed for a long time, and derived from the 1876 race between Rutherford Hayes, and Samuel Tilden, where that same argument was made by the Republican and in some ways successfully because it prompted this compromise that actually resulted in the Republican getting elected.

So that this was pushed, that's not a surprise. If Rick Perry, you know, he's an establishment guy, that might be a little bit of a surprise, but it wouldn't surprise me that, you know, sort of this notion was actually being advocated for.

REID: And it's a pretty quick turnaround. We're talking about November 4th, and the text was about a so-called aggressive strategy to overturn votes in three states and ultimately, just try to get the whole issue before the Supreme Court. So it's unlikely. I've covered the former governor for a long time, it's unlikely that he came up with this plan on the fly. So does it appear to you that Trump's plan was in play, maybe even before the election?

GARBER: It not only is apparent in the -- I even wrote a piece for, where I kind of laid out this idea. You know, with all of this, you know, that strategy played out in plain sight, there were lots of discussions about this notion. And, you know, imagine, you know, Donald Trump hearing about this 1876 election that was challenged, and then, you know, potential role for the president of the Senate, you know, that was going to be the strategy.

You know, we heard accusations of fraud, you know, before even Election Day, and you know, in some ways what's surprising to me is that the plan actually was executed so ineptly, happily for the country. And that lots of people in government, including lots of Republicans in the states pushed back and had nothing to do with it.


REID: Well, I don't know how surprising it is that it was executed ineptly. I think we've seen that before with legal strategies and the former president. But Ross Garber, thank you so much.

GARBER: Good to be with you.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead, for months, the Biden administration has struggled to deal with the situation along the southern border of the United States. Now, a dramatic surge in migrants is leaving border agents overwhelmed. An important report after a quick break.



REID: Thousands of migrants have descended on the Arizona-Mexico border, stressing an already strained customs and border protection on the region. SANCHEZ: Yes. Officials say the Yuma sector located in the desolate area along the U.S. southern border had about 2,800 migrants in custody. That's more than 300 percent over capacity. According to a CBP data, more than 173 arrests were made at the border in November and that is a 5 percent jump from the previous month alone.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez takes us there.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN IMMIGRATION REPORTER (voice-over): It's the moment they've been waiting for. These migrants are turning themselves over to Border Patrol. There are no guarantees, but Carlos and migrant from Venezuela is grateful to finally come face to face with federal agents. This is his shot at asylum.

CARLOS GARCIA, MIGRANT: There may have been them any time (ph).

ALVAREZ (voice-over): His family back home depends on him, he says. He is one of thousands of migrants who have descended on this part of the border in the last few weeks. Overwhelming Border Patrol and prompting the federal government to send more help.

(on-camera): This is where migrants primarily from South America have been waiting for hours for Border Patrol to pick them up. An agency that's already been under immense strain. We're seeing now three Border Patrol vans who are coming to pick up these migrants and take them to the station. Many say they've been waiting for hours setting up these fires just to stay warm.

(Speaking Foreign Language)

And the buses have come, they've just left, what's next?

GARCIA: (Speaking Foreign Language).

ALVAREZ (voice-over): He says the people here have waited for years to come to the U.S. They have no other choice.

Economic and political instability in much of Latin America has driven more and more migrants north. Yuma has become a destination where migrants can cross easily and turn themselves into Border Patrol.

MAYOR DOUGLAS NICHOLLS, YUMA, ARIZONA: This is highly unusual. This is ground we've never really tried before.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls issued a local emergency to help the situation in his city.

NICHOLLS: This is a very out of the ordinary level of traffic for Yuma.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): Migrant surges along the U.S.-Mexico border have happened before. But now it's the remote areas like this that are being hit hard. In October, Border Patrol arrested nearly 22,000 people crossing the border in Yuma. That's up from 1,600 in January, an increase of 1,200 percent.

BRANDON JUDD, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL PRESIDENT: We're busy everywhere. We're not slow in any specific location. So when you take resources from another location, another busy location, you're just depleting those resources to deal with an issue that can be dealt with through policy.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): Brandon Judd is the President of the Border Patrol Union. He says smugglers and cartels contribute to the greater numbers.

JUDD: We're seeing so many people put themselves in their hands.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): At the request of Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona's Department of Public Safety has deployed to these remote parts of the border to monitor for criminal activity.

MAJOR DAMON CECIL, CHIEF OF STAFF, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION AT AZ DEPT. OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Out here, we're watching the desert looking for movement, looking for any signs that we have a group coming through.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): On this 75-mile stretch of the border, Major Cecil and his troopers try to fill in the gaps.

CECIL: What we're seeing here is a surge of illegal drugs. Because Border Patrol is tied up and they know that manpower out here is limited.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): This week, the Biden administration is expected to send 100 agents here. For Carlos and this group of migrants, getting on the bus is their best bet for a better future.


ALVAREZ: Many of the migrants that are arriving here are middle class families from South America and they're carrying suitcases and luggage as they cross the gap just behind me. That's because they're flying into an airport in Mexico that is about 30 miles from this destination, cutting their entire journey to the U.S. southern border from months to just days.

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, Yuma, Arizona.

SANCHEZ: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you for that report.

Tiger Woods is back on the greens for a two-day tournaments. We'll take you live to the grounds next.

And a quick programming note, joined Dr. Sanjay Gupta for the new CNN Special Report, "Weed 6: Marijuana and Autism." Something you won't want to miss, tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. right here on CNN.


[08:53:55] SANCHEZ: For the first time since that devastating car accident in February, Tiger Woods is back in action. He's playing with his son Charlie at the PNC championship this weekend.

REID: Andy Scholes is at the course in Orlando. All right, Andy, this is pretty cute, pretty wholesome content. What can we expect today from this father-son duo?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Whoa, I tell you what guys, good morning. It was -- Tiger said it was an awesome day out here yesterday to be back on the course in front of fans but he did say he's still a very long ways away from playing in a big time tournament. Tiger said he still has the hand, still has the feel but it's his endurance right now is the biggest thing holding him back.

And later today, he'll be back out here on the course with his 12- year-old son Charlie, competing in round one of the PNC Championship. They were out here yesterday for the pro-am and this was Tigers first time playing in front of fans since that accident. Tiger did use a cart to get around the course.

He teed off from the pro tees but said he just can't hit it as far as he used to. Tiger played the front nine, dialed it back on the back nine to rest up for the weekend. Tiger said after spending three months in a bed, he worked every day to get back to where he could play again. And this is what Tiger had to say yesterday about his future in the game.



TIGER WOODS, 15-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: A long way away from playing tournament golf, you know. This is hit and hop in a cart and, you know, moving about my business just like I would have back home and medalist. You know, playing tournament golf and be able to recover, practice and train and hit balls after round and do all the things I need to do to be at a high level. I'm a long way away from that.


SCHOLES: All right. So today, the 36-hole scramble event will begin and this, guys, it's a fun family event. It's not a serious tour event. Tiger and his son Charlie are going to be paired with their good friends, Justin Thomas and his dad. They're actually the reigning champions for this tournament.

You know, everyone loves having so much fun with how Tiger and his son Charlie have the same mannerisms. You know, they swing the same, they kind of celebrate the same after they hit a good shot. So everyone loves watching that. And that's something definitely to watch for today. Tiger and Charlie, the last ones to tee off later today at 12:18 Eastern.

SANCHEZ: Also not only because he's playing with his son, but just to see him out on the green is remarkable. Andy Scholes in Orlando, thank you so much.

Hey, thanks so much for joining us this morning. Paula, what are you doing at about 10:00 a.m.? Are you going to join us again for another hour?

REID: I'll be right back here with you. But "SMERCONISH" is up next.