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Justice Department Announces French Company Pleads Guilty To U.S. Charge Of Supporting ISIS, Other Terror Groups; WH Plans To Announce Additional Oil Reserve Sales After OPEC Cut; Study: 1.3 Million Americans Rationed Insulin In The Past Year. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 18, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Here's some breaking news. The Justice Department just announcing a French company has pleaded guilty to a charge of providing support to ISIS and other terror groups. CNN's Evan Perez is in Washington watching this. I know the press conference is still ongoing, Evan, but what is the justice department saying about this?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, this is an extraordinary case. This is a French company, Lafarge, which operated a cement plant in Syria at the time that ISIS took over that territory. And according to the Justice Department, they entered into a revenue sharing agreement with ISIS and according to this plea agreement that is -- that was entered two in Brooklyn Federal Court this morning, the company Lafarge is accused of paying both ISIS and another terrorist group Al-Nusra front of the time that they knew these companies were banned by the U.S. and European Union.

I'll read you -- I -- we'll listen to a little bit of the press conference that is still ongoing in Brooklyn. This is a U.S. Attorney, Breon Peace, describing this arrangement.


BREON PEACE, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: In 2013 and 2014, Lafarge made a deal with the devil, foreign terrorists who pledged to and in fact did harm the United States, its people, and his national security, and they did it for profit.



PEREZ: And during this time, of course, ISIS had held captive at least four U.S. citizens, including James Foley, who was beheaded. A video was released at a -- at a time that the Lafarge executives were talking about how to stay in business. The company is going to pay $780 million as a result of this guilty plea. According to the Justice Department, they paid about $6 million to these terrorist groups and made about $70 million during that time, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It is -- it is wild, the details, as we're learning them. And you -- as you said, this press conference is still ongoing. Thank you, Evan. I really appreciate it. But it does raise a lot of questions. Joining me right now is CNN's senior law enforcement analyst, Andrew McCabe. He's a former -- he's the former Deputy Director of the FBI. It's good to see you, Andy. What do you think of this charge and this plea deal?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: What's really amazing Kate, it's unprecedented. I can't think of another situation in which a corporate entity pled guilty to violating the material support to terrorism laws. I mean, we see -- we see similar acts like this when entities are caught violating sanctions against nation- states, but this is actually pleaded guilty to supporting a designated terrorist organization. That's one that we definitely haven't seen before.

BOLDUAN: The Justice Department is talking about this as quite a big deal. Why is this kind of an investigation -- it's a French company, of course, a priority of the Justice Department. Is it about deterrence as much as it is about holding people accountable?

MCCABE: Absolutely. So, let's remember the time that this is happening, ISIS is essentially taking over large swaths of Syria in an effort to establish what they refer to as the caliphate. It essentially was an Islamic government in Syria that had taken over the country from the Syrian Government. The allegation and in fact, what LCS has pled to here, amounts to not just complying with or protecting their employees from the draconian circumstances levied upon the people there by ISIS, but actually assisting the terrorist organization in establishing their government in paying taxes, in revenue sharing, and conducting operations.

These are all things that run directly counter to U.S. foreign policy interests, U.S. national security, and in fact, enabled ISIS to continue targeting Americans and brutalizing Americans in Syria in the way they did. So, it's very serious conduct. And I think it sends a message to all companies who find themselves operating in conflict zones, that if you -- if you pay to play with the devil, there could be some serious consequences down the road from the United States.

BOLDUAN: One thing the Justice Department's laying out in this announcement is just how much money was involved here in that period of time. Let me read a little bit that we -- that we found here. It says the gains to all participants in the conspiracy, including Lafarge, their Syrian subsidiary and the intermediaries, and the terrorist groups totaled approximately $80.5 million. In our scratch math, it looks like it's about -- it's about 9 million went directly to ISIS and that -- and to another terror group. I mean, what does that kind of money mean for groups like ISIS, like what they were enabling?

MCCABE: Yes. So, you know, terrorist groups don't have typical revenue streams, right? They fund their activities -- their terrorist activities, by -- through things like theft. And ultimately, if you're as strong as ISIS was in Syria, at that time, you levy taxes, essentially, extortion upon the people and the entities, the corporations that are within your area of control.

And that's exactly what they did here. So by playing into that LCS enabled ISIS to continue their waging their terrorist tactics across Syria, and also directing terrorist attacks around the globe, here in the United States, in places like France and the UK, and other places where their supporters and adherence engaged in terrorist activity. And let's not forget, profit was the motive here.

LCS was looking to be in a position in operation when whatever happened with this conflict was finished, so they can have the inside track on rebuilding Syria, which had become completely destroyed throughout the course of the Civil War so really craven profit motivations that funded this terrorist activity.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's really amazing. Much more to learn, read, and the press conference is still ongoing. Thanks for jumping on, Andy. It's good to see you.

So, Kevin Spacey on the stand right now in a civil trial over sexual misconduct, the questions he's facing under cross-examination. That's next.



BOLDUAN: So, the Biden administration is planning to once again dip into the emergency oil stockpile. In the next few days, President Biden is expected to release an additional 14 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. It comes, of course, in the wake of OPEC's big cut to oil production. CNN's Matt Egan is tracking this for us. He joins me now. Matt, what do you see here?


MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Kate, we are seeing a tug-of-war between the White House and OPEC. OPEC, taking supply off the market, that drive prices up, the Biden administration responding by adding supply in hopes of lowering prices. Now, two sources familiar with the matter telling our colleague, Phil Mattingly, that in the coming days, the Biden administration is planning to announce the additional sale of roughly 14 million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserves.

Now, importantly, we should note that this is part of that 180- million-barrel emergency relief announced back in March. As you can see, the strategic petroleum reserve has gone down sharply over the past year. The U.S. was on track to undershoot that 180-million-barrel figure. Now it looks like they're going to go ahead and do what they plan to do all along. It's just going to take a bit longer.

Now nonetheless, this is already impacting prices. U.S. oil prices down almost 4 percent as we speak, back to, basically levels before OPEC announced their production cut. This should help at the gas pump. A gallon of regular gas is now selling for $3.87 nationally. That is not cheap, but it is of course down from that record high ended June of $5. And we could see gas prices tick a little bit lower.

Also on the energy front, new images show the devastating damage done to Nord Stream. That is the natural gas pipeline linking Russia and Europe. Danish police say that preliminary investigations show the damage was caused by powerful explosions. Kate, this is just another reminder of the threats to the supply of energy as this war in Ukraine rages.

BOLDUAN: Yes. That crystallizes -- those images right there crystallize the threat very, very well. It's good to see you, Matt. Thank you.

So, Kevin Spacey is back on the stand. He's being cross-examined right now in the sexual misconduct civil trial against him. Spacey was emotional as he denied allegations yesterday that he sexually assaulted actor Anthony Rapp when he was 14 years old. CNN's Jean Casarez has been following the testimony. She's here with me now. Jean, what's happening in court now?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this just happened and it is important. Outside of the presence of the jury, the attorneys for Anthony Rapp argued with the judge that they want to question Kevin Spacey about a book his brother wrote that said in the book that as a child that Kevin Spacey was sexually abused by their father. The judge denied it. He is not allowing it. The attorneys for Kevin Spacey argued the only reason they want this is to try to show that it was done to him and he does it to others.

So, the cross-examination is proceeding right now bringing out his memory and things like that. But very important to this case is that two of the three charges have now been dismissed, assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress with the three original charges. Months ago, the assault was thrown out because the statute of limitations had run.

Yesterday, the attorneys for Kevin Spacey argued very strongly to the judge to dismiss the other two. The judge said I can't do that, but what I can do is I see a duplication of the elements of battery and intentional infliction of both -- emotional distress. Both show serious emotional distress, anger, resentment, emotional issues, it's not fair to have them both. So, he dismissed the intentional infliction of emotional distress. And, Kate, now, only battery will be going to the civil jury.

Why is that important? The plaintiff is asking for $40 million in damages. And with only one charge left, that drastically reduces what he would be able to get if, in fact, the jury would find Spacey liable.

BOLDUAN: A lot happening just today in the court -- in this testimony.


BOLDUAN: Let's see what happens next. It's good to see you. Thank you, Jean, for that.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it.

So, a new study is showing just how many Americans are rationing their life-saving insulin. Why and what can be done about it? That's next.



BOLDUAN: A new study out this morning says more than one million Americans with diabetes have rationed their insulin in the past year. The analysis shows that the cost of the drug is pushing people to skip or reduce their doses or pushed off buying an altogether. CNN's medical correspondent Dr. Tara Narula joins me now with more on this. What do you see in this study, Dr. Narula?

DR. TARA NARULA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, this isn't really a great picture that's being painted. This was researchers that looked at 982 diabetics used insulin. They surveyed them. And from that, they estimated that 1.3 million Americans, or 16.5 percent of those who are diabetic and used insulin ration their insulin use last year. This was most commonly seen in Type 1 diabetics and those who are under 65, those were middle income and African Americans, more common in the uninsured population, but also seen in those with private insurance.

We know that insulin prices have really soared over the last 10 -- 15 years and many people have to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars every month.

BOLDUAN: Like people don't have an option. This isn't a -- if you want to, type of medication.

NARULA: Correct. I mean, this is really as we call it oxygen for Type 1 diabetics. It is necessary for them to survive. If they do not get insulin, they can develop what's called ketoacidosis, where their pH drops, they become acidotic, their cells and organs shut down, and it can really be life-threatening and deadly. For Type 2 diabetics, they can develop all the complications that come with very high uncontrolled blood sugar, cardiovascular disease, amputations, blindness, renal failure. In fact, diabetics -- diabetes is the leading cause of amputations, blindness, and renal failure in this country.


And 7 million Americans use insulin. So, you know, this is called by many doctors cruel, distressing, heartbreaking to see patients and tell them you have to take this and they're really unable to afford it.

BOLDUAN: I mean, it's also this is just like a blaring -- a blaring alarm signal, whatever you want to call it, that something needs to be done to help.

NARULA: Correct.

BOLDUAN: I mean, this is -- that is not sustainable for anyone, all of those --

NARULA: That isn't. No.

BOLDUAN: Million -- over a million people in the last year alone. It's good to see you.

NARULA: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for shining a spotlight on it, though, seriously.

Thank you all so much for being with us AT THIS HOUR. We are moments away from President Biden, about to speak at this event, you see on your screen right now, about to talk about abortion rights. We're going to be bringing that to you. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King will bring it to you, live next.