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CNN TONIGHT: Legal Team For 30-Plus Martha's Vineyard Migrants Sues Gov. DeSantis; Senate Probe Finds Nearly 1,000 Unaccounted Prison Deaths In 2021; FDA Warns Against New TikTok Challenge That Involves Cooking Chicken In NyQuil. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 20, 2022 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Grief and loss is something that we all will face, in our life. And yet, it often leaves us, feeling alone and isolated. It's something we don't talk enough about, I think.

I've had a new podcast. The second episode of it is out, just this evening, early morning, on Wednesday. It's called "ALL THERE IS." To listen, just point your cell phone, at the QR code, on your TV screen, for link to it. You can also find it on Apple Podcasts, wherever you get your podcasts.

Next episode, as I said, is out Wednesday morning. Stephen Colbert is my guest. His dad, and two teenage brothers, were killed, in a plane crash, when he was just 10-years-old. It's a very deep and emotional discussion with Stephen. I hope you give it a listen.

News continues. Want to hand it over to Sara Sidner, and CNN TONIGHT.


SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Anderson, we will be listening. Thank you so much.

I am Sara Sidner. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

The Governor of Florida, is being hit, on three different fronts, for sending asylum-seekers, from Texas to Martha's Vineyard. Today, he was hit, with a class action lawsuit. He's already facing a criminal investigation. And then, there are questions, from the state legislature, about the potential misuse of state funds.

Let's start with the civil suit. That's coming from a legal group, representing more than 30 of the asylum-seekers, filing the claim, against Governor Ron DeSantis, and other state officials, saying that the migrants experienced quote, "Cruelty akin to what they fled in their home country" of Venezuela.

The migrants' group claims Florida officials "Manipulated them, stripped them of their dignity, deprived them of their liberty, bodily autonomy, due process, and equal protection under law." The "[Migrants were] induced by Defendants to travel across state lines by fraud and misrepresentation." That is what they claim. Basically, they say, DeSantis lied.

And their lawyers are looking into these brochures, used to entice those, seeking a better life, to travel under the guise that resettlement support, was available to them.

The Governor keeps insisting the asylum-seekers knew what they were signing up for, it was all voluntary, and he claimed, the humane thing to do.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Those migrants were being treated horribly by Biden. They were hungry, homeless. They had no - no opportunity at all. The State of Florida - it was volunteer.

They were provided an ability to be in the most posh sanctuary jurisdiction, maybe in the world.


SIDNER: It's a strange thing, to be sued, by people, who he says were informed volunteers.

And that allegation of a lie takes us to the second front, where DeSantis is getting hit. The Sheriff of Bexar County has announced an investigation, into how migrants, got from Texas, to Martha's Vineyard. The elected Sheriff, who is a Democrat, told reporters that the migrants, who took the flights, were exploited and, in his words, "Hoodwinked."


SHERIFF JAVIER SALAZAR, (D) BEXAR COUNTY, TX: What I'm trying to determine, right now is was the law broken, here in Texas, namely, in Bexar County, where I'm the Sheriff.

At this point, I have not said and nor will I say that I'm - that I've got the Governor, under investigation. But I do, from what we're hearing, people that may have been associated with him, or may have been employed by him, or contracted by him, or his folks, may have broken the law, here in Bexar County.


SIDNER: So, there's an investigation, in Texas. But there are big questions, in Florida, as well. That's front number three. Did DeSantis misuse state funds for this?

Well, here was the state budget language. $12 million was appropriated, to Florida's Transportation Department, to facilitate the transport of quote, "Unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law."

Pay close attention to that highlighted part that you see there in yellow, "Unauthorized aliens" and "From this state," meaning Florida. The men and women and children aren't unauthorized aliens. They are legal asylum-seekers. And this State, which would be of course, Florida, is not Texas.

To be clear. There is a crisis at the border. The White House admits as much. And there is a new report out showing more than 2 million arrests, at the border, over the last 11 months. That is a record! So, there is a problem. But it is highly problematic how some of these Red state governors are going about solving it. And that is the question we wanted to get into now.

I'm joined now, by Raul Reyes, an immigration lawyer; also, CNN Senior Political Analyst, John Avlon; and former Chief of Staff to the Homeland Security Secretary under then-President Trump, Miles Taylor.

Miles, I want to start with you. With this kind of political gamesmanship, with people who are scared, who are desperate, who are legally, in the country, because they are seeking asylum, did the Trump administration ever think of doing something like this?

And if not, what do you think, about these two Republicans, who have decided that that's what they're going to do, particularly DeSantis, who went into another state, and sent people, from another state, somewhere that they say they had no idea, where they were going?

MILES TAYLOR, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP, "ANONYMOUS" AUTHOR OF OP-ED CRITICAL OF TRUMP: Yes, well, Sara, not only did the Trump administration think about something like this, I think, they're the progenitors of the concept.


This is a zombie Trump administration policy that had died, and has now come back to life. And these two governors have brought it back to life. And I'll tell you exactly when this happened.

In January and February, of 2019, Donald Trump directed us, to go and take immigrants, from the border and, quote, "Bus and dump them into Democratic cities and Blue States." He wanted us to take immigrants, from the border, take them into Blue States, and cities, and put them in there.

But he was much more specific. He wanted us, to identify the murderers, the rapists, and the criminals, and in particular, make sure we did not incarcerate them, and we put them in those cities.

OK, it doesn't take a lawyer, or a genius, to recognize this would likely be very illegal to do.


TAYLOR: But put aside the murderers, and the rapists, and the criminals. Could you take people, from the border, and just dump them into Blue States? We went, and we asked the lawyers. And they told us "No. The federal government cannot do that. Congress has not authorized that."

And now, look, these governors are walking into the same problem that we told the White House, was illegal, and they couldn't do. And now, they're trying to do the same thing.

SIDNER: So, why do you think they are taking this course? And why is it that this kind of cruelty, is coming, from one particular party? The Republicans, right now. This is cruelty to those, who are seeking asylum, in this country, something that we are quite proud of, as a country, or have been.

TAYLOR: Yes, I mean, look, you can disagree on immigration. And I still think people should be proud of the fact that 2 million people want, so badly, to come into this country that they're going to follow such a dangerous route, to get into it. We should be proud that people want to be here. But this is not the way to treat them, once they get here.

Why are they doing it? I think the answer is simple. It's the same reason Donald Trump wanted to do it. He didn't want to do it, because it was going to solve the crisis, at the border, to fly people, to Martha's Vineyard. He did it - he wanted to do it because of politics.

These two governors, as I warned, are carrying forward, the torch of Trumpism. But they're actually doing more than carrying the torch forward. They are self-immolating, with that torch, to prove a political point, and to fundraise. That's an extra layer, in my opinion, of grotesqueness, when it comes to public policy.

SIDNER: It seems to be working with the base. And we'll get back to that in a minute.

Raul, legally, what is the remedy, for a governor, who may be exceeding his authority, in terms of immigration, and he's going into a different state, sending asylum-seekers, into a yet a different state? I mean, what is the legal remedy, here, for him?


SIDNER: For the administration.

REYES: For the - well, I think, these lawsuits that we're seeing now are just the beginning.

Because, it is established law, the Supreme Court, in the Constitution that the States do not have jurisdiction, over immigration. That is a federal matter. I think, the only reason, we haven't seen swifter action, on these matters, from the Biden administration, is because they don't want to give air to this issue, right now.

Because, for the GOP, politically, immigration is a great issue, because it keeps people from talking about the assault, on reproductive rights, and abortion, and it keeps people from talking about DeSantis' moves, against LGBTQ people, in Florida.

But, right now, I mean, there is no question that basically what these governors are doing, or attempting to do, is deporting people, from their state, to another state. Now, look, true, governors can move migrants, around the country. And past administrations have done that in coordination, and with partnership, with the federal government.

What they cannot do is just take a targeted group of people, transport them, allegedly, through fraudulent or deceptive means. There is a commercial gain involved, to the contractors, who flew them there. Right there, you have the elements of a case of trafficking. That's similar to the case that the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights is bringing.

And one of the things that DeSantis is saying now, and he said it a few times, today, is that these migrants agreed to the transfers that it was voluntary. But, in cases of trafficking, your acceptance, your willingness--


REYES: --your consent is not a defense.

SIDNER: Right.

REYES: It's--

SIDNER: Because you're under pressure. And--


REYES: Right. And because you did not have full knowledge of the facts. So, that is not a defense, to these allegations, to these improper uses of his authority.

SIDNER: I'm curious, John. Have we ever seen anything like this before, where you're seeing governors, sending people, from one state, to the next, without the federal government, having any idea where they're going?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "WASHINGTON'S FAREWELL," FORMER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, DAILY BEAST: Well, look, I mean, first of all, I do think, part of it is, is an effort, to rollback issues that had been treated as federal issues, within living memory, and to restore power, to the States.

That's part of the ideological project, beyond the troll politics of this. The problem is when your politics are trying to out-troll, the other guy, you can run into real legal consequences, when you're sitting governor.


You ask about precedent. Look, one precedent, was highlighted, by the JFK Library, a few days ago, in a tweet, where they simply posted an article, about these Reverse Freedom Rides that were put in place, not by governors, but by the White Citizens' Councils, in the early 1960s, where Black families were being put on buses, by these groups, and sent north, to Hyannis Port, where the Kennedys lived, to the towns, where different members of the Justice Department's Senior Leadership, particularly on civil rights, lived, with the attitude that you'll be far more welcoming, and accommodating, of these families, mocking the idea, of trying to advance equal rights.

And look, that is an, presumably, I think, almost certainly, an unintentional echo. The question is what is up with the muscle memory? The reason, you pay attention? Mark Twain always said, "History doesn't repeat. But sometimes, it rhymes."

SIDNER: Rhymes.

AVLON: What's useful is to listen to the rhythm, listen to the rhymes, and that can help us understand, where we are, in the larger moral debates.

REYES: And Sara, I think, it's important that you drew the distinction, at the beginning that these migrants, they have - they're pursuing lawful claims, for asylum. So, they are not, quote-unquote, "Illegal immigrants," like, as the GOP, likes to present this issue, to their base.

But one thing that also gets lost, in this debate, about, on the border crisis, which, in my view, is a crisis of our political leadership, it's a crisis of resources, is the question of how many asylum-seekers is too much? How many will we accept?

And the answer is, we look to Congress, the answer is, we don't have a limit on that, even though we have limits on refugees, we have limits on work visas, we have limits on the diversity visa. That's because our lawmakers, they knew that we cannot foresee, when there's going to be a humanitarian crisis--


REYES: --in a different country that we can foresee, some type of conflict, like we're seeing in the Ukraine.

SIDNER: Right. In Ukraine, right.

REYES: So, in this case, that's one thing that gets lost, this whole idea that there's too many asylum-seeking get lost (ph).

AVLON: Shouldn't--

REYES: And it's racialized. Because, this would never happen. This is a racialized concept, occurring, during Hispanic Heritage Month--

AVLON: Well, let's--

REYES: --because this would not happen in it--

AVLON: --let's pump the--

REYES: This would not happen with the Ukrainian refugees.

AVLON: Let's pump the brakes, on that particular allegation.

But I think the larger point is, and here's where, I think, DeSantis gets into a little bit of political double jeopardy, is because these are overwhelmingly Venezuelan immigrants--

SIDNER: Right.

AVLON: --seeking asylum, from the Maduro regime--

SIDNER: Right.

AVLON: --which most conservatives have been criticizing, rightly, for decades--


AVLON: --since Chavez first took power. There are also the - the reason the border is being overwhelmed, right now, is Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan asylum-seekers, which are all regimes that are increasing the pressure, on the border.

We should not be blase about 2 million people, crossing the border, and being apprehended. The border is not as secure as it should be.

But the best American traditions have always been about welcoming refugees, and political asylum-seekers, particularly if you're a conservative, from Florida, running for re-election, right now, with regard to leftist regimes that are causing havoc, in our hemisphere.

SIDNER: That is a really good point, John. And we're going to get back to talking about this, because it is a complicated issue, and an emotional one, and one that we should be discussing, in this country.

Raul Reyes, thank you so much.

REYES: Thank you.

SIDNER: John, and Miles, stick around.

We're about to talk to a former congressman, who is a Republican, from Texas. Will Hurd thinks leaders, across the country, are missing an important opportunity, to cooperate, and too many truly don't understand, the depths of the problem, at the border. His insights are coming up next.



SIDNER: More than 2 million people were apprehended, crossing the southern U.S. border, in the last year. This is the first time, we've ever seen numbers that high.

But the 50 people, sent to Martha's Vineyard, or the thousands, sent to New York, Chicago, or D.C., only compound the immigration court backlog, of more than 1.8 million cases. Yet, the immigration stunt did earn Ron DeSantis, a standing ovation, by Republican voters. It should be noted, the Republicans cheering, happen to live in Kansas.

So, let's talk with a Republican, who actually is in Texas. Former congressman, Will Hurd, I'd like to welcome you. Thanks for coming.


SIDNER: Can I ask you about this latest stunt, by Governor DeSantis? In your estimation, isn't this cruelty, instead of working on solutions, real solutions?

HURD: Well, if you're going to describe this, as cruelty, then having 14,000 people, living under a bridge, last year, in Del Rio, Texas, is also cruelty. Then, it's also cruelty, to have detention facilities, in places like El Paso, increased by 3x, than what their capacity is. That's cruelty as well.

The reality is, I wish, both sides of this argument would be working together.

I wish Democratic mayors, in Chicago, and New York, and Democratic governors would say "Hey, we know that this is difficult, for places like Texas. We know that philanthropic organizations, in places, along the border have reached their capacity, and can't deal with this crisis. Here's the number of people that we can help, a week. Send them to this location."

Instead of just sending people, I wish the governors would be telling folks in advance, "Hey, we need this help. Are you willing to help us? I think this is an opportunity for us to be working together, across the country, on something that truly is a crisis."

The previous panel talked about the 2 million people that have been apprehended. That's an astronomical number. And the number of people that are going through the immigration system.

And we have to be reminded that all that - yes, you can apply for asylum. We should treat people with respect and dignity that are applying for asylum. But not everybody is going to be granted asylum.

When you look, over the last 20 years, the number of people that actually get granted asylum, is around a little bit north of 20 percent. That's why they're waiting, to hear this immigration, go into an immigration hearing, in order to be granted asylum.

We need to be, you know, we talked about - the real human smugglers are the ones that are moving millions of people, through Central America, up through Mexico, through our southern border. Why are we not dismantling those networks?


We have the information on the people. We have phone numbers. It's hard to move millions of people. We can dismantle these networks. We should be focusing on that. And then, we should also be focusing on the root causes that's causing people to leave.

And so, this is frustrating. I've represented 29 counties, 820 miles of the border, when I was in Congress. And these communities are taxed. They need help. And I wish we were focusing more on that conversation. Because this is not going to - we're not going to see an end in sight, because I think the wrong policies are in place.

SIDNER: You talked about some of the potential solutions. The President, right now, is President Joe Biden.

HURD: Yes.

SIDNER: You listed some things that you thought that he could do. Can you give us a sense of what you think that the Biden administration can do, to try and deal with this issue? Because, everyone now agrees there is a crisis at the border.

HURD: Sure.

SIDNER: There are 2 million people this year that have ended up on that border. And, as you mentioned, the living conditions for people, once they get there, are terrible. They're very, very difficult. So, what are some things that you've listed that you think the Biden administration can do?

HURD: It's - I appreciate you bringing that, because it's heartbreaking, seeing what some of these folks are having to deal with. And not only just them, but Border Patrol, having to execute on things.

And look, you shouldn't - I'm not, I'm not criticizing Border Patrol. They're executing on flawed policy, flawed policies, policies from Donald Trump, flawed policies, from Joe Biden.

Here's one thing. Streamline legal immigration. At a time, when every industry needs workers, and the fact that most of these individuals that are coming now, are trying to seek a better life? I can't criticize them, for that. I'd probably be doing the same thing. But let's have the legal process in place.

The difficulty in doing that, President Biden can't get support, from the left wing of his party, to streamline guest worker visas, because they don't want to see that increase. There is--

SIDNER: But let me jump in here, former congressman, Hurd.

HURD: Sure.

SIDNER: Because that part may be true. But there was also 15 Republican attorneys general, who went to court, to block the Biden administration, from streamlining, for example, the asylum process. And so, it's not just one side of the aisle that is stopping some of this. You also had Biden's 2023 budget, which asked Congress, for money--

HURD: Sure.

SIDNER: --to hire more Border Patrol agents. And the Administration is offering signing bonuses to get more Border Control agents, because they're - more are needed, according to the Administration. Some of these things have been blocked also, by Republicans, who say they want a solution.

HURD: Well, that legislation, talking about increasing Border Patrol? That passed the House. We'll see what happens in the Senate.

I can't disagree with giving more, having - hiring more Border Patrol agents. My first piece of legislation, I signed into law, was increasing the pay of Border Patrol agents. So, yes, that's something that should be done, you know?

So, we also need to be addressing some of these issues, in Central and South America. Why have we not treated this, as a national intelligence priority? Why have we not spent the resources of the CIA, of the NSA, and focusing on this issue, and working with our partners, in these regions, who are willing to work with us, on that? So you have to address that end as well.

And then, finally, why do we not have a national security economic plan, for places? And a lot of times, we focus on the Northern Triangle, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. That has historically been the location that has driven a lot of the folks, coming into our country, illegally. That's not necessarily the case, right now. The people are coming from 151 different locations. And then, but we have to address those root causes, why people are fleeing.

And then, we also got to remember, asylum, you have to be a member of protected class, and show that you're being persecuted, for being part of that protected class. Coming and wanting to have a better job, is not a criteria, for being an asylum-seeker. This is one of the reasons, why the number of people that actually get granted asylum, are so low. So, if we address those root causes there, it's a fraction of the cost, than trying to do it here.

So, there's a number of areas that we can focus on. But unfortunately? And this is one of the most frustrating things, about this issue of immigration that I saw, when I was in Congress. There's a lot of people, in both parties that would rather use this, as a political bludgeon, against each other, in elections, rather than solving the problems.


But I can tell you this. Folks that live along the border, and have been dealing with this crisis, for the last three years? And I include the last year of the Trump administration, is when this border crisis really started, and it ballooned in these two years of the Biden administration. The folks that live along the border are frustrated, they're tired, and they feel like nobody has their backs.

SIDNER: All right, Will Hurd, thank you so much, for joining us, and giving us your insights.

Ahead, something that doesn't get much attention, unreported deaths in America's prisons, and jails.


MATTHEW LOFLIN, SON OF BELINDA MALEY: I need to go to the hospital.


LOFLIN: I'm going to die in here.

MALEY: I'm doing everything I can to get you out.


SIDNER: That is someone in prison, talking to his mother. He ends up dying. Finding out about the disturbing investigation, the Senate is doing, that's coming up. And we have the Chair of the subcommittee, Senator Jon Ossoff, coming up next, to talk about it.


SIDNER: A new failure, within America's criminal justice system. A new Senate report found that in 2021, the Justice Department failed to record the deaths, of nearly 1,000 inmates, in state prisons, and local jails.

Incarceration shouldn't be a death sentence, nor should waiting to go to court. Yet, this is the reality, for too many, including Matthew Loflin, a pretrial detainee, who was never convicted of a crime, and denied medical treatment, despite repeated request.


At a hearing today, his mother shared audio, of her final call, with her son. It is disturbing, but important to listen.


LOFLIN: I need to go to the hospital.

MALEY: I know--

LOFLIN: I'm going to die in here.

MALEY: I know you are Matthew. I'm doing everything I can to get you out, and so I can see you. Hello?


MALEY: They're doing everything they can.

(CALL WARNING): There are 15 seconds remaining.

LOFLIN: I've been coughing up blood and my feet are swollen. It hurts, Mom.

MALEY: I know Matthew, I know what is wrong with you. I told you this would happen. I love you, Matthew. They are going to cut us off--

LOFLIN: I love you, too. I'm going to die in here.


SIDNER: And he did eventually die in there.

Joining me now is the Chairman of that hearing, Georgia Democratic senator, Jon Ossoff.

Thank you so much for joining us.

SEN. JON OSSOFF (D-GA): Thank you so much, Sara. Thank you for having me.

And I think it's important for all of us to imagine that a loved one is arrested, in this case, in the case of Mr. Loflin, on a non-violent charge, winds up in a county jail, is denied the medical treatment that they need, and never comes out.

Thousands of Americans die every year, in custody, whether in local jails, state prisons, or federal prisons. There is an ongoing humanitarian crisis, in custodial facilities, across the United States.

I led a 10-month bipartisan investigation, of federal oversight, of deaths in custody. And what we found is shocking. As you noted, nearly 1,000 deaths across the country that the Department of Justice failed to identify at all.

And of those deaths that DOJ did identify, nearly a full third, they didn't have any details, about the circumstances of death. 70 percent of them were incomplete. And what that means is that policymakers, whether of the Department of Justice, or in the Congress, lack the information, we need, about who is dying, where they're dying, and why they're dying, to take action that can save lives.

SIDNER: When you look at this situation, the first thing, I want to ask you, is what can you do about this particular issue?

It is heart-wrenching, seeing a mother, react like that, to the loss of her son, hearing his last words. But that is just one of what you said was 1,000 that have been found, that are sort of unexplained, as to why they died.

What can be done about it, to change this?

OSSOFF: Well, it was nearly 1,000 uncounted deaths, last year, alone. And as for how we pursue change? Change begins with the truth. Change begins with the facts.

I chair the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. It's the preeminent investigative body, in the United States Congress. That's why I led this 10-month bipartisan investigation. This has nothing to do with politics, by the way, nothing to do with partisan politics.

Democratic and Republican staff, Democratic and Republican members of this subcommittee, have been working, together, to understand why there are these shocking gaps, in federal oversight, so that we can help the Executive branch, to fix these grievous mistakes, and if necessary, legislate, to fix these mistakes.

And the reason that we needed to hear from the family members, today, of those, who have died, is because this isn't about numbers. This is not about statistics. This is about human lives. This is about human lives, cut short, in many cases, preventably.

Getting charged with the crime, or convicted, is not meant to be a death sentence. It's a moral disgrace, what's happening, in jails, and prisons, across the country. It's preventable. And I believe that we have to take action. That's why I've led this investigation, to get the facts.

SIDNER: Senator Ossoff, I'm curious, how you square this issue, right now. Because, as you know, people are politics, and politics is playing in everything, right now. We are a very divided nation.

And there is justice and prison reform that has been asked for, on actually both sides of the aisle. But, in many parts of this country, there is concern, about reform, while crime is spiking. And not just crime, but things like murders, violent crimes, spiking. How do you square the two?

OSSOFF: Well, there's no conflict here. And I believe that's why I've been successful, building bipartisan support, in the Senate, for investigations, of corruption, abuse, and misconduct, in the prison system.


And violent crime, is a huge issue, in the United States, today. And we need a strong public safety policy, to keep our communities safe. That doesn't mean that we look away, when people are preventably dying, by the thousands, in jails, and prisons, across the country.

SIDNER: Senator Ossoff, I do want to talk to you, a little bit, about politics, since you are also a politician.

And we have been listening, to Biden, and we heard something that I think a lot of people took a deep breath, and were a little shocked over, because he didn't actually say, to his interviewer that he was firmly going to run, for the presidency, again, in 2024.

What do you make of that? Do you expect him to run?

OSSOFF: That's a decision, for the President, and for the first lady. It's not for me to say.

And what I can tell you is this. I want to work with the President, with the Attorney General, to address the issues that we identified, in the course of this investigation. Because people are dying, as we speak, in prisons, and jails, across the country.

The Department of Justice is failing to count them, is failing to identify the causes of death. There needs to be accountability, for those failures. And there needs to be change, so that transparency can be restored.

SIDNER: Senator Ossoff, do you think that President Biden should run in 2024, in your opinion, as a voter and a senator?

OSSOFF: Again, that's a question, for the President, and for the first lady. I'm not going to give him advice. But I'm ready to work with him, continue working with him, to advance the public interest, and the interests of the State of Georgia.

SIDNER: Senator Ossoff, thank you so much for coming on, and highlighting a really important issue.

Coming up, the Special Master, in the Donald Trump Mar-a-Lago documents case, the man, recommended by Trump's legal team, gives the Trump side, an ultimatum. When CNN TONIGHT returns.



SIDNER: Former President Donald Trump has spent weeks, arguing that he declassified the documents, seized at Mar-a-Lago. But his legal team has not backed up that claim, in court.

And today, the Special Master, reviewing the documents, told Team Trump, it's time to put up, or shut up, saying that if they can't, quote, "Advance any claim of declassification, that's the end of it," adding, quote, "My view of it is you can't have your cake and eat it."

Miles Taylor is back with me, along with CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig, and CNN's Political Commentator, S.E. Cupp.

I'm starting with you, Elie. The Special Master is calling the Trump team's bluff, it appears, at this point, on the President's claim that, "Hey, it was fine for me, to have these documents, at Mar-a- Lago, because I declassified them." Explain why this is so significant, what the judge has said?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, because Donald Trump's team has been dancing this very delicate back- and-forth dance, where the client, Donald Trump, is out there, in public, loudly proclaiming, "Good thing I declassified everything!" And if you notice, in all the legal filings, Trump's lawyers are assiduously avoiding saying just that. And now, the judge is saying, "I need your position."

And, by the way, this happens. I mean, this is what good judges do. Judge Dearie has been a trial judge, in Brooklyn, for 36 years. He knows how to move things along. He knows how to get past the foot- dragging.

And now, they've got to make a decision. Are they going to realistically argue? And remember, lawyers have an ethical duty, you cannot lie to a court. Are they going to really go in there, and argue that Donald Trump declassified, or not? I think, look, who are we kidding? I mean, there's no evidence that he declassified. So, I think they have to try to drop that issue. I think it's the only move they're going to be left with.

SIDNER: S.E., I want to ask this question. Because, is it a problematic thing that the judiciary branch, is saying they will then, if they have to determine, what is, and what is not, classified documents?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, COLUMNIST, NY DAILY NEWS: Yes. But I think also Team Trump wants to tie this up, in sort of legalese, let it go and go and go. They want that question addressed later. That's why they're going to the judge, and saying, "Hold off. Hold off on that part of it"--

TAYLOR: Right.

CUPP: --"and let's get to some other part." But I think what we learned from today's hearing was just how little hand, they have.

To Elie's point, I think, they have to drop the classification thing. And I think they know it, because they're throwing everything else at it. They're attacking the National Archives, referencing a 20-year-old scandal, involving Sandy Berger.

I mean, they're going after all kinds of stuff, because I think they know, it's inevitable, that they're not going to get to the classification stuff. They're even asking, weirdly, to declassify the papers, so that they can know, what's in them--

HONIG: Right.

CUPP: --which is an admission that the classified--


SIDNER: They did not declassify--

TAYLOR: So that they get - we were just talking about this earlier.


TAYLOR: It's kind of like you're getting ready to take a test, and you say to the teacher, like, "But could I take a peek at the answers, first?"


TAYLOR: Because, they know they don't have a declassified--

SIDNER: That's right.

TAYLOR: --declassification order, or probably don't, and they want to know how they can shape one, what the documents are. That's scary in and of itself. But, I mean, to your point, it's not just like they're shooting themselves, in the foot, with Dearie. This is a judge, who it's - they might as well cut the whole leg off, because this is a man, who has spent, a lot of his career, in the most classified corners, of the judiciary.


TAYLOR: He's the former head, one of the former judges, on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and they deal with exceptionally significant cases. So, he's not taking any of these excuses, from Trump's team.

CUPP: And he doesn't want to be - he doesn't want to be the star of this show. What he said today was, "If you can't prove with prima facie documents that these are - that you declassified them, I'm done. I'm basically - my job here is basically done."

So, I don't think he wants the spotlight. He doesn't want to grandstand. I think he really wants to limit, narrowly, his part, of this and, kind of dispatch with it, and see where else it could go.

SIDNER: Do you think the Trump folks, Trump camp, was surprised by this? Because, they specifically wanted this specific Judge.


TAYLOR: I genuinely think they're surprised at anything that happens, two moves down the chessboard. And I don't really say that entirely facetiously. Because Trump, he's the client. His way of thinking is very, very short-term.


TAYLOR: And he's going to keep looking at the short-term.

I think one of the things that people aren't talking about though, that's a big concern in the background? If you think about what's happening in the national security community, right now, the people in the Intelligence community, who are charged with assessing the blowback of these documents, the threats, to spies, to our operatives overseas--

SIDNER: Right.

TAYLOR: --are literally, sitting on their hands, because they're not allowed to continue that review, of the significance, of the blowback. That's a problem here. So, it may look like political games and legal games. But there could be potentially real operatives, overseas, today, and people who are under threat--


TAYLOR: --because we don't know what the documents are, what the implications are, and DOJ had to stop, in that review.

SIDNER: Elie, do you think that this sort of delay tactic that the Trump team is using, is in some ways, working against the DOJ?

HONIG: I do. I do. Look, DOJ is winning on the merits. They're winning on the papers. I think most lawyers read the papers, and say, "DOJ has the better of the argument here, the common sense, the little case law that we do have on executive privilege."

And, by the way, be very skeptical, of any blanket pronouncements, about what executive privilege is, or is not. It's often applied, on a document-by-document basis. But delay? I mean, this is nothing new. This is Donald Trump's strategy. And it often works, for him--


HONIG: --dating back to Mueller, you name it, delay all the subpoenas that have come in. And a lot of times, it works.

And let's assess where we are. The search of Mar-a-Lago was six-plus weeks ago. The Special Master has not seen one piece of paper.

We are now in an appeal that is going to go up to the Eleventh circuit. Whoever loses that is then going to ask the Second Circuit, for what we call en banc review, meaning the whole circuit hears it. Whoever loses that, is then going to try to get it up to the Supreme Court.

I mean, if DOJ was really focused, on being expeditious, here, when they lost the Special Master ruling, they would have said, "We hate this ruling. We disagree with it. But fine. Let's get it over with. 500 documents a day, go to the Special Master. We'll be done in three weeks." DOJ is fighting for the principle, here. Sometimes, as DOJ, you have to do that.

TAYLOR: All I want for Christmas is for this to be done. Will it be done?

HONIG: By Christmas? No.


HONIG: Sorry. Sorry, Miles.


HONIG: Next - next Christmas, 2023.

SIDNER: But the next crisis will come, and then that will take over the news cycle. I mean, it is a plan, or a ploy, being used by, it appears, the Trump team.

TAYLOR: Indeed, yes.

SIDNER: Elie, Miles, S.E., thank you so much.

HONIG: Thanks, Sara.

SIDNER: Coming up, a dangerous and almost unbelievable social media stunt, but it's real enough that the FDA actually had to issue this warning. "Don't cook chicken in NyQuil." That's a real warning. And I'll tell you why, coming up next.



SIDNER: Tonight, a new warning, from the FDA, about social media, a trend, I don't think many of us could have ever predicted.

People on TikTok, cooking chicken, in NyQuil. Yes, NyQuil, the cold medicine. It's all part of a new social media challenge, where users are encouraged, to post videos, like the one that you're seeing, next to me. That just looks nasty!

John Avlon, and S.E. Cupp, are back with me, along with a primary care pediatrician, at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Dr. Edith Bracho Sanchez.

All right, Doctor, I'm going to start with you. Now, clearly, even just looking at it, we know this is not a good idea. And they're calling it, the "Sleepy chicken challenge."

But - Avlon, do not start!

But can you just explain seriously how dangerous this can be? Especially, for teens, tweens, who tend to have a good time, and jump on some of these challenges?

DR. EDITH BRACHO SANCHEZ, PRIMARY CARE PEDIATRICIAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IRVING MEDICAL CENTER: Yes. I mean, listen, sometimes, I can't believe we're talking about these things, and we have to talk about these challenges. But this can be extremely dangerous.

We're talking about a medicine that you are concentrating, by cooking it, right? So, we're talking about ingredients that are now going to be very, very concentrated. And we're talking about ingredients that can be dangerous, on their own, and together. So, we're talking about potential overdoses.

And even if you don't eat the chicken, because as you showed, and as you mentioned, it looks nasty, quite frankly.

AVLON: Yes, yes.



BRACHO SANCHEZ: Even if you don't cook the chicken, the vapors can be incredibly dangerous. If you inhale them, right, you can have some lung irritation, as well as other issues. So, we're talking about something that is potentially very, very dangerous, and should be taken seriously.

SIDNER: S.E., I want to ask you about this. CUPP: OK.

SIDNER: Because while we're all wiggling a little?

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: Because you can't help it? There is a serious side to this.

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: And that is these challenges? We've had the cinnamon challenge, which is bad for your lungs. There was the Tide Pod Challenge.

CUPP: Tide Pod, yes.

SIDNER: Right?

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: You knew that one, right off the bat.

CUPP: Right. I'm on TikTok.

SIDNER: And now, you've got this sleepy chicken challenge.

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: Which sounds really funny. But toxins, people can actually overdose--

CUPP: People have died.

SIDNER: --and have died.

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: From some of these challenges.

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: How do you deal with this, with children?

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: Like how do you talk them off of doing some of these things that seem fun, and they get likes, when they do it?

CUPP: That part's really tough. Because, it's not just - I mean, kids have done these fads, for decades.

SIDNER: Right.

CUPP: Stuffing themselves into phone booths in the 50s, and swallowing goldfish and - but the problem now is, it's also performative.


CUPP: And to do it publicly, and then get the attention, and the likes, as part of that.

The good news is, they are showing you, what they're doing. And as much as I hate the idea of my 7-year-old, one day, the deep future, being on social media, you better believe, I will stalk every account he has, so that I can find out, what the kids are doing.

So, you don't really have an excuse, as a parent, today, to not be aware of this stuff, and then have the conversation, with your kid about these dumbass stunts that could actually kill them, or very least, land them in the hospital. That's on parents. We're not completely helpless, in this situation.

SIDNER: John, when you look at all these trends? I mean, adults have done some pretty stupid stuff too.


SIDNER: And - but this is a real serious issue--

AVLON: I mean, I mean--

SIDNER: --when it comes to all these different things.

AVLON: --we're talking about NyQuil chicken.


AVLON: It's hard for me to say, it's very serious. It's seriously stupid.


AVLON: It could kill people. It's a good advertisement, for why people shouldn't give into peer pressure, particularly over social media. Example number one, bajillion.


And I love that S.E. went back to swallowing goldfish, and moral panics, about stuffing people, into phone booths. But this really is like one of these head-smacking, like this is why we can't have nice things.


AVLON: Like what the hell are people doing, where you need NyQuil chicken, to amuse yourself? Can you find a deeper sense of purpose for amusement?

SIDNER: But the larger issue is that social media has a deep impact--

AVLON: Sure.


SIDNER: --not just on kids. We can't put this all on young people.


SIDNER: We, adults, also are affected by social media--

AVLON: Sure.


SIDNER: --in some of the things that we say and do. So, how do you deal with that? How would you talk--


SIDNER: --to a parent about that?

BRACHO SANCHEZ: I mean, listen, I think, we have to prepare for the time when they come across these things, right?


BRACHO SANCHEZ: It's not if, if they come across these things. It's when they come across them, right?


BRACHO SANCHEZ: So, what are you going to do, right, when you see this? How are we going to have this conversation? How are you going to think about it? Who are you going to talk to?

So, let's say, you're going to stop, right? You're going to come across this thing, you're going to stop, and you're going to say, "What's going to happen, if I partake in this," right? And I want, I really encourage parents, at home, to have these conversations with their kids, right?

When you come across this, "Stop. What's going to happen if I take part in this? Am I going to get hurt? Is somebody else going to get hurt," right? "Do they have skills that I don't have?" Because some of these stunts are like, people that are trained professionals, doing crazy things--


BRACHO SANCHEZ: --that sound like a good idea.


BRACHO SANCHEZ: But if you try to do them, you will get hurt, right?

SIDNER: It's like don't touch this whole (ph) thing.

BRACHO SANCHEZ: That's right. So, what are you going to do?

SIDNER: Dr. Bracho Sanchez, S.E. Cupp, and John Avlon, thank you so much. I apologize, for bringing you on, to talk about sleepy chicken!

AVLON: Thank you.

SIDNER: And we'll be right back.


SIDNER: Thank you so much, for hanging out. I'll be back, tomorrow night.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

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