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World Pays Final Respects To Queen Elizabeth II; Rescue Operations Under Way After Fiona Lashes Puerto Rico; Trump Attorneys Face Deadline To Respond To DOJ Appeal; Bexar County, Texas Sheriff Investigating Migrant Flight To Martha's Vineyard; CNN Inside Ukrainian City As Officials Exhume Mass Burial Site. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired September 19, 2022 - 18:00 ET
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the United Kingdom says goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II. Britain's longest reigning monarch laid to rest today alongside her late husband inside the family tomb at St. George's Chapel after more than a week of mourning and remembrance.
Plus, devastating scenes out of Puerto Rico right now where emergency crews are working around the clock to rescue islanders from catastrophic flooding and mud slides. More than a million people there are still without power in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.
Also tonight, officials in Ukraine are raising the alarm after a Russian missile strikes a second nuclear power plant. CNN is on the ground right now tracking the latest on the war, including efforts to exhume hundreds of bodies in newly liberated territory.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We begin our coverage this evening in the United Kingdom where mourners got one final chance to say good-bye to Queen Elizabeth II at her state funeral. The emotional tribute to the late monarch filled with music and memories, followed by a private burial service at the family tomb.
CNN Royal Correspondent Max Foster has our report.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Prime ministers, presidents, leaders and dignitaries from around the world. More than 2,000 inside London's Westminster Abbey join together in chorus. The lord is my shepherd, repeatedly the queen's favorite hymn, sung during her wedding to Prince Philip in this very hall when she was a 21-year-old princess. The younger royal generation, Charlotte and George, joined the procession. Their attendance something the prince and princess of Wales took time to consider. CNN understands.
Decades of meticulous preparation and centuries of tradition, the queen was instrumental in planning this funeral. Her family escorted the coffin drawn by 142 Royal Navy personnel, the short journey from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey. Draped in the royal standard and topped with the imperial state crown, the sovereign's orb and scepter. Amid the wreath, a handwritten note from the king, in loving and devoted memory, Charles R.
JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen.
FOSTER: After readings and blessings for two minutes, the attendees, the choir and the nation all fell silent. Big Ben tolled 96 times. Guns unloaded as the procession continued on its final journey. Crowds lined the streets all the way along the route from London to Windsor. The military flanked the three-mile long walk leading to the castle.
At the end of the ceremony, the crown, the orb, the scepter were removed by the crown jeweler, separating queen from her crown for the final time. For the first time performing the ritual on camera, the most senior official in the royal household, the lord chamberlain, broke his wand of office and placed it on the coffin, symbolizing the end of his and the monarch's service.
As the coffin lowered, the sovereign piper, who for decades played for Elizabeth every morning as her personal alarm clock sounded the final lament at her majesty's request.
FOSTER (on camera): A very powerful image there, Wolf, of the king after the coffin was lowered, tears in his eyes, of course saying goodbye to his mother, but also realizing that it's all on him now. I think that was one of the most profound moments really of the day. You could see it in his eyes.
BLITZER: It certainly could. Max Foster, stay with us. I also want to bring in our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward, the former communications secretary to the queen, Simon Lewis, and British T.V. Presenter Trisha Goddard.
Clarissa, what was it like? You were there to take in this truly emotional and historic moment.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we were very privileged, Wolf, in that we were right outside Westminster Abbey this morning, and then we're able to come to Windsor here in the afternoon. And I think one of the things that was the most striking was the sheer number of people lining the streets, not just of Central London, but, really, along that entire drive from London to Windsor. Already, the crowds had had so many opportunities to pay their respects when the queen's coffin was brought to Buckingham Palace, then when the queen was lying in state.
And so I think there was some question as to how many people would come out today, the tenth day, the culmination of this mourning period, and yet we saw, even outside Windsor Castle and the long walk, that 1.5 mile long sort of promenade, if you will, more than 100,000 people cheek to jowl, all different ages, hoping to catch that one glimpse.
And there was an extraordinary moment as the hearse was going by because, on the one hand, it's this public collective of duty and honoring an extraordinary legacy, and yet people were able to get close enough, and because of the design of the hearse by her majesty, were able to really see her coffin and have also, I think, a personal moment of grief marking the end of an extraordinary reign, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very extraordinary indeed. Simon, as someone who actually worked for the queen, what struck you as you watched today's events unfold?
SIMON LEWIS, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY TO THE QUEEN: What struck me was this is years of planning. The queen's funeral arrangements would have agreed, in fact, were agreed by the queen maybe 20 years ago, so the meticulous detail that we saw being played out today had all been preplanned, just extraordinary.
The second thing is what an open event it was. It was just people, as we've just heard, people were able to get close to cortege, people not checked as they went into the Abbey. There was a sense in which the authorities wanted people to get as much of an experience as possible.
And the third thing is walking amongst the crowds, the diversity of the people who wanted to come and pay their respects, young, old, diverse, ethnic. It's very interesting. This is very much a snapshot of modern Britain and indeed the global world.
BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Trisha, we also saw a very warm moment with the queen's beloved little dogs and her pony awaiting the procession at Windsor Castle. Why was it so important for them to be incorporated today?
TRISHA GODDARD, HOST, THE WEEK WITH TRISHA GODDARD: Well, the queen was a great, great lover of animals. And her corgis and doggies, the crosses between the dachs and some of the corgis were really central to her life. If ever you went to the palace, if you ever you recalled, and I'm sure Simon would remember this, even with Prince Charles, you hear the little patter of the feet come first, and then you know the monarch is on her way.
And also with the fell pony, that was the pony she last rode, those ponies, because they're smaller, they're sturdier. And she was just such crazy about horse racing and the horses. So, I think it's really beautiful. It was a really beautiful, poignant moment and really summed up her love of animals.
BLITZER: It certainly did. Max, what did this gathering of presidents, prime ministers, many dignitaries say about Queen Elizabeth's leadership out there on the world stage?
FOSTER: Well, I think it's about longevity. She was the longest serving head of state in the world. She was also revered, I think, because for her ability to stay above politics. That was her role. And she always did do that. She didn't take sides. She didn't support political parties. So, therefore, any head of state in the world could relate to her because she wasn't a divisive figure.
But because all of those images of her next to U.S. presidents, against U.K. prime ministers going back to Churchill, I always, you know, got the sense that whenever they came to the United Kingdom on a state visit or to meet the queen, it was a fair moment to get in the history books, having that picture next to Queen Elizabeth with being part of history and being in a long line of heads of state to have had that opportunity over the decades. So, that was always something very important to any head of state, whatever their views, wherever they came from.
BLITZER: You know, Clarissa, simply put, I suspect that we're never going to see anything like this again in our lifetimes.
WARD: No, we will not, Wolf, on many levels. We will not see another queen of the United Kingdom in our lifetime. And I don't think you'll see another state funeral of a monarch on quite this scale just given the fact that you're talking about more than seven decades of service. Of course, now we have the coronation of King Charles III, which will take place sometime in the next year, probably most likely next year.
But, you know, King Charles will put his own imprint, his own identity on his, you know, vision for the monarchy going forward. And so this really was a window in time, an extraordinary moment, and I think that's why you saw so many people from cross the world and here in the U.K. just talking to people in those crowds. Some of them said, listen, we're not even that interested in the monarchy per se, but we wanted to pay our respects to this woman, to this extraordinary devotion and sense of duty that she had to her country.
BLITZER: Well said indeed. Guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, torrential rain, some 1,000 people rescued and more than 1 million right now without power. We'll go live to Puerto Rico for the latest on Hurricane Fiona and where the storm is heading next.
BLITZER: President Biden has spoken to Puerto Rico's governor just as the island is reeling tonight from Hurricane Fiona, which has triggered catastrophic flooding and resulted in about 1,000 rescues.
[18:15:00] CNN's Leyla Santiago reports Fiona struck almost five years ago to the day after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. island territory.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Almost the entire island of Puerto Rico remains in the dark after Hurricane Fiona slammed into the southwestern coast of the island Sunday afternoon. Pounding rainfall causing catastrophic mud slides and flooding, the storm coming just as parts of the island were finally recovering from Hurricane Maria's destruction five years ago.
JUAN MIGUEL GONZALEZ, RESIDENT AND BUSINESS OWNER: It's been rough. It would mean just working to get back, this neighborhood, get it back from Maria, then everything was destroyed, restaurants, houses everything was destroyed, and we just -- not all the way back, but we're just halfway back. A lot of people more than Maria lost their houses now, lost everything on their houses because of the flooding.
SANTIAGO: This is the barrio, the neighborhood where the National Guard had to come and rescue people. Still a lot of flooding, I can hear generators powering the home and it is still pouring down with rain, neighbors looking out, wondering exactly what will come next as Hurricane Fiona, the remnants of it, continue to demolish this area.
The family rescued overnight now safely in a shelter.
She says this was worse than Maria.
She's pointing out that they have already been under water for 24 hours, and the rain is still coming down. So, she's concerned about the 2,500 families that she says are impacted by this here.
About a thousand people rescued from flood waters, hundreds more rescue efforts still underway as emergency responders try to navigate through difficult to reach areas.
In (INAUDIBLE), the interior part of the island, 25-year-old Leomar Rodriguez watched this bridge come down in just minutes and washed down the river. On the west side of the island, rainfall swelling, the Guanajibo River in Hormigueros surpassing its previous record height at 28.59 feet set during Hurricane Maria, now gauging to over 29 feet, the National Weather Service said. While a few hospitals have regained power, emergency workers are racing to get electricity back to the island.
THOMAS VAN ESSEN, FORMER FEMA ADMINISTRATOR FOR PUERTO RICO (voice over): It takes them so long to get things back up because so many of the systems are connected and some of the main lines go through the hills there. And if those main lines get damaged, they don't have the ability to get the other sections up and running.
SANTIAGO: Sunday morning, President Joe Biden approving an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico that authorizes all emergency measures needed, including FEMA. ANNE BINK, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR RESPONSE AND RECOVERY, FEMA: There's 300 responders on the ground from FEMA working hand and glove with the commonwealth in their emergency management structure.
SANTIAGO (on camera): And, Wolf, tonight, I am at a substation in San Juan, Puerto Rico, all eyes on not just the flooding but the power grid, more importantly, how they will be able to respond if crews will be able to get power up and running again in Puerto Rico quickly.
As for Hurricane Fiona, Hurricane Fiona is now a category 2 hurricane. It made landfall today in the Dominican Republic, and forecasted to pass nearby or at least nearby, possibly to the east of the Turks and Caicos Islands tomorrow.
BLITZER: All right. Stay safe over there, Leyla Santiago in San Juan for us, thank you very much.
Let's get more on the situation right now. Joining us, the former mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us.
I know because you and I have spoken, you're in very close touch with officials on the ground, very close touch obviously with close members of your own family who are in Puerto Rico tonight. What are those on the island facing right now?
CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, FORMER MAYOR OF SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: Wolf, first of all, it's -- we have a saying in Spanish, it's raining over very damp terrain. It is very difficult, 1.3 million people are without electrical power, with all of the complications that that creates, one of them being that about 750,000 people are without water or clean water. Apartment buildings are turning their systems and their generators down because it's already taken more than 48 hours for systems to come back up.
So, there are ripple effects that continue to happen from not having electrical power, and the fastest that comes back into play, the fastest that the health system, for example, will come back into play.
It is with great pleasure that I heard new director of FEMA, Chris, will mention that priority number one was to save lives, and it just echoed what I said to President Trump when I met him on October 4th of 2017, that this is never about politics. It is always about saving lives.
So, I think it's important that all hands on deck would move laser focus to return the power grid back into function in an environment so that people can regain some sense of stability.
I was listening to the person that was speaking before me. He said we had just almost finished getting everything back together from Maria, and it wasn't that what he said, it's how he said it. His voice was quivering a little bit. This is devastation over devastation. The past four years, Puerto Ricans have had not only Hurricane Irma but Hurricane Maria, the ousting of a governor with the political unrest of that brought, financial bankruptcy, two major earthquakes that devastated more than 10,000 homes on the southern part of Puerto Rico, and then, of course, the pandemic and now Fiona.
So, there is a collective PTSD that goes on in Puerto Rico, which also brings people to the hopelessness of, oh, my God, are we going to be facing another year without electricity. But we are resilient. I'm going back to Puerto Rico on Friday. Mayors are telling me what I need is machinery, because all of that mod (ph) Leyla Santiago, who was a wonderful compatriot and wonderful woman, will never forget those views from her just almost being swept away by the winds in Hurricane Maria, but what she was mentioning of all of those mud slides, mayors now have to take to the streets to take all of that mud out before it becomes really, really sticky and almost impenetrable in the next couple of days once it stops raining, and clean it out in order to ensure that appropriate and robust systems of aids can be created.
So, the federal government has a great opportunity here, President Biden, to show the world how things are done when they are done right, and then when they are done, keeping on one thing, which is to save lives, and we need a couple of things. One is we need FEMA to work with the local authorities in terms of adapting to the actual conditions. For example, a week ago in Congress, FEMA was saying that most municipalities don't have the English capability for technical aspects, and that delays the process. Well, that hurdle has to be overcome very quickly.
We also need, for example, some exemptions, total exemption from the Staffer Act. We don't want to continue to rebuild the grid on the mainland that was being talked about, where you have polymer or polyan (ph) wires that come through. This will continue to happen, and we need to start looking for permanent solutions to recurrent problems. We also need people power to do all the work that's going to need to be done in the next few days, but I have hope. We are relentless and we will make it.
BLITZER: Well, let's hope. It's been almost exactly five years since Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico. You and I would speak all the time five years ago when you were then mayor of San Juan. We will continue this conversation. Good luck to you, good luck to your family members, good luck to all of the people of Puerto Rico.
And to our viewers, for more information about how you, our viewers, could help victims of Hurricane Fiona, go to cnn.com/impact and help impact your world, so important.
Coming up, the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II raising new questions about the future of the British monarchy. What might be in store for King Charles, Prince William, and his young son, Prince George? Stand by.
[18:25:00] BLITZER: More now on our top story, the state funeral today of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II who has now been buried beside her husband and parents at Windsor Castle. But the historic occasion is raising questions about what lies ahead for the British monarchy.
CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us. Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, King Charles III tonight is turning the corner to an uncertain royal future. His challenge, analysts say, is to keep his family relevant, especially among younger people in Britain.
TODD (voice over): A rendition of God Save the King, a piper walks away from the queen's casket, compelling symbols of a new era for the British monarchy and new challenges for King Charles III.
How can he persuade the British people that he's relevant and that he matters?
PROF. LAURA BEERS, BRITISH HISTORIAN, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: I think his biggest challenge is winning over younger people.
For a lot of younger people, and I was just in London, I was speaking to a bunch of friends and their children, the monarchy's relevance is something they question.
TODD: To win the hearts and minds of younger Britons, analysts say, the 73-year-old king will need help from his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. William, as heir to the throne, will have to lean into that role more heavily, take on an even more public profile. But Prince Harry, who walked away from royal life a couple of years ago, could be even more crucial to keeping the family relevant, with the potential for him and his American-born wife to keep younger people interested on both sides of the Atlantic.
BEERS: I think for many young people, Harry and his wife, Meghan, are exciting, they're modern, dynamic.
He has the potential, I think to improve support for the monarchy, but he also is a very divisive figure in Britain.
TODD: Tensions between Harry and his family illustrated in an interview with Oprah Winfrey last year could complicate the effort toward a unified monarchy.
PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: When we were in Canada, I had three conversations with my grandmother and two conversations with my father and before he stopped taking my calls.
TODD: King Charles III is also navigating a changing world among former British colonies who recognize the queen as their sovereign and are considering a clean break.
SALLY BEDELL SMITH, AUTHOR, ELIZABETH THE QUEEN: We know Jamaica is considering very seriously becoming a republic. Then in Australia, there has been a lot of movement toward becoming a republic. I think he may well, under his reign, lose a number of the realms that were there for his mother.
TODD: Including Scotland and Northern Ireland. Despite King Charles's recent positive reception in Northern Ireland and his family's deep ties to Scotland, their movements toward independence may only accelerate now.
For King Charles to succeed, royal watchers say, he'll have to make good on his discussions of modernizing the monarchy.
BEERS: Presumably, that will be an element of public accessibility, social media, allowing the British people to feel that they have an ownership stake almost in the monarchy as an institution.
TODD: Keeping up his campaign against climate change, engaging in programs, like he did nine years ago to combat unemployment and gang violence, would give King Charles the appeal of a monarch who understands what matters to the younger people he'll have to cultivate, experts say.
TODD (on camera): The analysts we spoke say a big part of the discussion of keeping this royal family relevant is financial. The royal family brings in a lot of tourism revenue for Britain but it also costs a lot to maintain. Wolf?
BLITZER: Reporting for us, Brian, thank you very, very much.
And joining us now is CNN's Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour. Christiane, thanks so much for joining us.
How do King Charles and the royal family now rise to this new challenge of this new era?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, it's a really good question, but, certainly, Wolf, for the last ten days, culminating with the majesty and the hugeness of today's event certainly puts him in a good starting position. Because let's face it, he isn't just starting out. He has been preparing for this for the better part of the last 70-odd years. I mean, he has been the longest serving prince, you know, prince in waiting, crown prince or prince of Wales, and he knows the job.
Of course, it's a very high bar to fill the shoes of Queen Elizabeth II. She's the longest serving monarch, and her era spanning, an epoch spanning reign brought to her a very important significance and experience and gravitas. And so he will have a hard time with that. But the majority of Brits still want to keep the monarchy. The monarchy is what we call -- he is soft power, the projection of soft power. It's something akin to a sort of cultural diplomacy in an institution that is not allowed to get involved overtly in politics and the like.
So, I think that for the short-term, this event has kind of cemented the public's connection with the monarchy. The real big question is Britain is a weakening power now on the world stage. How will it use this moment to perhaps reset and figure out how it can best be useful? For instance, it has really performed well with Ukraine. It was an early supporter, it sent a lot of weaponry, a lot of training to the Ukrainians in their war against Russia. So, maybe that can be something that can be used to push Britain forward as a slightly stronger power going forward.
BLITZER: Yes, very good point indeed.
This moment, as you well know, Christiane, could bring major changes for the four nations that make up the United Kingdom and the many commonwealth countries around the world, couldn't it?
AMANPOUR: It could. And, again, because the queen died in Scotland, many believe that, you know, the focus on Scotland for several days, the immense about of pageantry and ceremony that happened in Scotland, the fact that the first minister was also involved in this and had to meet Prince Charles sort of, you know, may -- it's never certain, may put the vote for independence, perhaps push it a little bit further into the long grass. We'll wait to see whether that's the case.
But, certainly, Northern Ireland, for instance, again, where the king went in the days following his mother's death, that is another situation where it's known that certainly the nationalists in Northern Ireland, at one point, want to unite with the republic of Ireland. So, there's a lot of questions but I don't think those are in the immediate.
As for the commonwealth, it's a huge group of 56 nations, only 14 or so of them actually have the queen as their sovereign.
The rest of them don't. They're independent, former colonies, some are even former British colonies. But countries that have joined the commonwealth, you know, subsequent to the fall of the empire and decolonization.
The real question is, will countries like Australia or Canada or New Zealand decide to become republics? Even if they do, it doesn't really affect the commonwealth because they would still stay within the commonwealth.
I think the most immediate set of countries and island nations would be in the Caribbean, which are already moving towards a more independent sovereign elected and away from the monarch as sovereign. But, again, it doesn't make a difference to the size or the cohesion of the commonwealth because they still want to stay in the commonwealth.
BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour, as usual, thank you very, very much.
AMANPOUR: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, President Biden speaking out about seeking a second term and raising eyebrows with his remarks about the COVID pandemic. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: President Biden is back here in Washington tonight after attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, and he's making headlines of his own with remarks about the COVID pandemic, the 2024 presidential election and more.
Let's go to our White House Correspondent M.J. Lee. M.J. President Biden made a lot of news in an interview with 60 Minutes, including whether he'll actually seek another term.
M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. As we have gotten further into President Biden's first term in office, of course, there have been growing questions about whether he is going to seek a second term in 2024. And keep in mind, the president and White House officials around him, whenever they have been asked this question about 2024, they have been pretty consistent and really emphasizing that his intention is to seek a second term, but in this 60 Minutes interview, he said a little bit more. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: And it's much too early to make that kind of decision.
My intention, as I said, to begin with, is that I would run again but it's just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I would run again? That remains to be seen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: So, just this idea that it is too early for a decision, and also that a firm decision hasn't been made, both of those comments really catching a lot of people by a little bit of surprise. And also just keep in mind, the context here too that First Lady Jill Biden recently said in an interview that she actually hasn't gotten a chance to discuss 2024 plans yet with her husband and that those discussions will be happening soon. So, all of this really fueling the ongoing 2024 speculation, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, good point. He also said something, M.J., about COVID that surprised a lot of us. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We're still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Do his health advisers agree with him, because hundreds of Americans are still dying every single day from COVID.
LEE: Yes. You know you, might have noticed that in that part of the interview, this was actually taped at the Detroit auto show last week. And he was making the point too at some point in the interview, you know, nobody around here is wearing a mask, and I happened to cover that event last week.
And he's absolutely right that this was an event that really signaled that we were in a different phase and during the pandemic a couple of years ago, and I think that's clearly sort of the point that the president was trying to make, that, yes, COVID is still an issue but that we're at a very different stage.
And this is the kind of rhetoric that we have heard from the president before. White House officials making clear that, policy-wise, nothing has changed and that this public health emergency still remains in place.
BLITZER: M.J. Lee at the White House for us, M.J., thank you very much.
Meanwhile, a potentially key day tomorrow in the battle over White House documents seized from former President Trump's Florida home by the FBI. Our Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider is here with the latest. Jessica, tell us what you're learning right now.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Wolf, tomorrow is a big day for this entire case. And what we could see is two things. We could get an indication of how quickly the 11th Circuit actually might move forward with this appeal. At the same time, we're seeing some of these first moves by the special master. So, when it comes to the appeal itself, we know that DOJ is actually asking for them to be able to review these 100 classified documents, they haven't been able to because the lower court judge put the brakes on that. They can't use it in their ongoing investigation.
The other thing they're asking for is they want to restrict this classified information from Trump's lawyers as well as the special master. And that's why the appeals court might have to move relatively quickly here, because we know that the special master's review is already getting ready to move forward. We'll see a first hearing with the special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, tomorrow at 2:00 P.M. It will be at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse. This is actually just to get scheduling in place. He'll be meeting with Trump's team as well as DOJ lawyers, because he has to come up with some sort of schedule as to reviewing those 11,000 documents.
And it's interesting, we actually just got a filing from the DOJ just in the last few minutes where they are coming up with some of their proposals as to how this will proceed. They actually want to employ a third-party vendor that will be scanning all of these 11,000 documents. They want the FBI to be involved while this scanning is happening to make sure that the chain of custody doesn't get broken, and, interestingly, they're proposing a protective order, which would make it a contempt of court -- it would be a contempt of court filing if anyone leaked details of any of these documents that will be reviewed.
So the special master has a big job in front of him, reviewing 11,000 documents, but crucially here, Wolf, the judge below has said that the special master has to review the 100 classified documents first, and that's something that's at dispute here because DOJ doesn't even want the special master to be looking at these documents. That's why the appeals court might step in relatively quickly.
BLITZER: An important date tomorrow, Jessica, thank you very, very much. Jessica Schneider reporting for us.
Just ahead, alarming developments in Ukraine. A second nuclear power plant struck by a Russian missile. Our report from inside the war zone is coming up right after a quick break.
BLITZER: Tonight, the controversy over Republican governors sending migrants to the northeast is heating up.
CNN's senior national correspondent Miguel Marquez is joining us now with the latest.
What are you learning, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, heating up with a criminal investigation. The Bexar County sheriff, that's where San Antonio is, says he has opened a criminal investigation to look into who exactly tried to lure 48 migrants to Martha's Vineyard, saying they were led there under false pretenses and is asking for more information. This as the fight between Republican governors and some blue states gets even worse.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): An indication of how some migrants are being convinced to travel from red states to blue. A pamphlet provided to asylum seekers going from Texas to Martha's Vineyard. The information provided by whoever the state of Florida contracted with to identify migrants willing to take a chance.
The pamphlet offers refugee assistance, including cash and employment services. All the migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard were seeking asylum, not refugee status. More buses, more migrants, shipped from Texas to New York City. No heads up, no coordination.
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: This is, as is stated, a humanitarian crisis created by human hands.
MARQUEZ: Mayor Adams blaming Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who continues to send busloads of my grants to New York City. Six buses already arriving today, at least 22 over the weekend.
ADAMS: When we reached out to Governor Abbott and stated, can we coordinate, can we identify, you know, who is traveling here, that we don't have to guess this, they refused to do so.
MARQUEZ: The influx pushing New York City's shelter system to its limit, the mayor says.
More than 11,000 asylum seekers passing through New York City's shelter system since May. Some 2,500 arriving on buses from Texas alone.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: To relieve our communities, we have to continue these busing operations.
MARQUEZ: With a sharp increase in border crossings over the last two years, Republican governors say sanctuary cities and states are legitimate destinations.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: There's also going to be buses and there will likely be more flights but I'll tell you this, the legislature gave me $12 million, we're going to spend every penny of that to make sure that we're protecting the people of the state of Florida.
MARQUEZ: Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis defended sending two planes of asylum seekers to Martha's Vineyard last week with funds provided by his state legislature. The law says migrants must be in Florida and illegal. Those shipped to Martha's Vineyard were in Texas and here legally. All those we spoke to having applied for asylum to escape the repressive Venezuelan regime.
DESANTIS: So, they've been in Texas, identifying people that are trying to come to Florida and then offering them free transportation to sanctuary jurisdictions.
MARQUEZ: So that is precisely what Bexar County, the sheriff there says he wants to look into, who exactly it was paying fees and trying to lure these people to go on these planes to Martha's Vineyard. Authorities in Massachusetts said they are looking into a possible investigation there as well. Some Democratic governors and mayors have asked from assistance from the U.S. Justice Department.
So far, there is no word that they will do any investigating, but clearly this is heating up.
BLITZER: Miguel Marquez, thank you very much. We'll have more news just ahead including Ukraine. It's on alert right now after yet another attack by Russia on a nuclear power plant.
We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Ukraine is on edge right now after a Russian missile attack on yet another nuclear power plant, this time in southern Ukraine. The strike comes as officials say civilians are among the hundreds of bodies exhumed at a mass burial site in newly liberated Izyum.
Our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is in Ukraine for us.
So, Ben, what more are you learning?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, by this evening, Wolf, about 146 bodies had been dug up from that mass burial site. Among those bodies, two children.
Now, what we're hearing from officials is many of these bodies are showing signs of a violent death, of torture, stabbing, shrapnel wounds. Some do have their hands tied behind their backs as well.
Now, officials say it's going to take about another two weeks to dig up all of the bodies. And, of course, each body will have to be forensically examined to determine the cause of death, and then their DNA analyzed for positive identification -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I know, Ben, you were just in Izyum. What did you see there? How were the people there coping?
WEDEMAN: They're having a hard time, Wolf. There's no water, no electricity, no communications, no Internet. There's a shortage of food.
When we were there, volunteers were handing out food, there was another truck handing out medicine. But these are people who basically who have been on their own now for almost five months. And they were living this odd existence where people were afraid to go out of their homes. We spoke to one woman, an elderly woman who had a stroke during the Russian occupation, but she didn't receive any medical treatment and hasn't received any so far. These people are traumatized.
In fact, one doctor who was handing out medicine told us the thing that's in greatest demand there is sedatives.
Now, President Zelenskyy has said that the authorities are doing all they can to restore basic public services. But people are afraid. They're afraid that winter is coming, if there's no heating, no electricity, and it gets very cold here, life will be unlivable. And there's that constant fear that despite these recent dramatic advances made by Ukrainian forces, the Russians can always counterattack -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good point. Ben Wedeman, stay safe, we'll be in touch, thank you very, very much.
And to our viewers, I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.