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Kim Jong-un Meets With Vladimir Putin; Escaped Pennsylvania Killer Caught; Mixed Inflation Numbers; Impeachment Threat. Aired 1- 1:30p ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 13:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Impeachment threat. Some House Republicans say an inquiry into the Biden family's business dealings is overdue.

Now the Biden campaign is pushing back. We're going to take you live to the White House in just a few moments, where a news briefing should start soon.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Inflation acceleration, it ticks up for a second straight month, but dig into the numbers and there is reason for hope. What it means for your wallet and the Fed's upcoming interest rate decision.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: The nightmare is finally over, and an escaped killer is in cuffs. The two-week manhunt ends with a swarm of law enforcement surrounding Danelo Cavalcante. How did he evade hundreds of officers for so long?

We are following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SANCHEZ: So, we are just moments away from the first White House briefing since House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

The move comes at a crucial moment in the political calendar. The intense polarization in Washington is about to get supercharged. Congress has less than three weeks to avert a government shutdown, but the Republicans' Biden probe has further inflamed partisan tensions; 24 hours after McCarthy's announcement, the White House is fighting back, and the Biden campaign is fund-raising off the move, as Republicans are divided.

Some think this is a distraction, while others believe the House speaker has not gone far enough. McCarthy held a meeting with the Republican Caucus this morning, trying to get everyone on the same page.

Let's get you all angles of this story, starting with CNN's Kayla Tausche at the White House and Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill.

So, Kayla, what should we expect from this White House briefing? KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know,

Boris, at the White House briefing, the press secretary, will be joined by the national security spokesman, Admiral John Kirby, and Jared Bernstein, who's the White House's chief economist.

They're expected to talk about the meeting taking place between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un, and Bernstein is expected to talk about perhaps inflation numbers, which have been seen rising for two months in a row, after softening over the summer.

The fact that the White House is talking about inflation and geopolitics at a time when this impeachment inquiry is reaching a fever pitch tells you how much they do not want to talk about that, even as the White House has been actively shifting from defensive mode, which it's been in for the better part of two years, preparing, battening down the hatches, as Republicans ramped up their oversight and investigations, and are now looking to shift into offense mode.

With Ian Sams, the White House's spokesman on investigations, calling this inquiry illegitimate. Here's what he said.


IAN SAMS, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN FOR OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS: I think that Republicans over the last year, Republicans in Congress, have proven that these sorts of poking-around inquiries are nothing but a wild goose chase that are illegitimate.

I don't want to speculate on what the House Republicans may or may not ask for. I mean, they won't even vote for it, and they can't even say what they're impeaching him for.


TAUSCHE: The messaging that is being distilled right now is that the inquiry into the president and the business dealings of his son, that's illegitimate.

Meanwhile, the White House believes that the inquiry into the former President Donald Trump and the legal battles that he is facing are legitimate. That argument has been distilled in the Biden campaign's latest fund-raising pitch. We will see how much it can bring in and what happens in the briefing set to begin momentarily.

SANCHEZ: We know you will keep an eye on that.

Melanie, to you.

What do we know about the meeting that Kevin McCarthy is having with Republicans today and about the game plan for them moving forward?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, so they are really starting to plot out their next steps in this impeachment inquiry.

It was discussed today in that conference meeting, and, afterwards, James Comer, he is the head of the House Oversight Committee, announced that they're going to hold a hearing sometime this month to sort of lay out where their investigation stands into the Biden family.

But, at the same time, they have not yet proven the allegations that Biden directly profited off his son's foreign business deals or that he made policy decisions because of them.


And so there is a messaging effort under way right now within the Republican Conference. Comer and Jim Jordan, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, are briefing Senate Republicans during their lunch today. They're also going to brief House Republicans tomorrow.

And even though there is a lot of support for Kevin McCarthy's move here within the House GOP, there's still some skepticism in the ranks. Let's take a listen.


REP. TOM COLE (R-OK): Well, it certainly didn't help Democrats. I mean, I haven't seen anybody do too well after an impeachment process. It didn't do well for us in '98 with President Clinton. I don't see it as good politics.

I do think, though, think there's enough stuff here that it deserves to be looked at.

REP. NICHOLAS LALOTA (R-NY): I think that we need to be balanced in this approach. I don't think that impeachment ought to be used as a political tool or a weapon, especially around an election year. I think we need to be in a quest for facts.

REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): I think this impeachment is long overdue. The people in my district are bad enough. The border crisis in particular, the 13 Americans that were killed, I think we should have impeached his ass a long time ago.


ZANONA: Now, that last comment you heard there was from Tony Gonzales, who represents a swing district. So that statement of support for impeaching Biden is pretty notable there.

But, as far as a timeline, there is a general sense in the GOP that they do not want this dragging into an election year. And that is why McCarthy told his members during that closed-door meeting today that he wants to move as quickly as possible.

SANCHEZ: Yes, the timing also important, Melanie, because the backdrop of all of this is that spending fight. Government funding ends on September 30. We will keep an eye on that.

Melanie Zanona, thank you so much -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: All right, let's take a closer look now at Speaker McCarthy's allegations about Biden and the facts as we know them.

CNN's Daniel Dale here to walk us through the facts of it all.

Let's begin with claim number one from McCarthy. Have a listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): We know that bank records show that nearly $20 million in payments were directed to the Biden family members and associates through various shell companies.


SCIUTTO: All right, $20 million, various shell companies, what are the facts?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Jim, I think it's important to take a closer look at the specific language that Speaker McCarthy is using here.

Notice he's had Biden family members and associates. Didn't say $20 million to Joe Biden. Why is that? Well, because Republicans, like everyone else in the world, have not presented any evidence, and apparently not found any evidence, that Joe Biden himself got any of this money.

And we can disentangle this language further. He didn't just say $20 million to Biden family members. He said $20 million to Biden family members and associates. Well, a "Washington Post" analysis found that the majority of that money, about two-thirds, went to these associates, so not even Hunter Biden, but people outside the family, two steps removed, if not more, from the president.

SCIUTTO: Who exactly are those associates?

DALE: There are various people, Hunter Biden's business partners, for example, people who don't have much of a public reputation, but not only not the president, but some of it not to his son.

SCIUTTO: Understood.

OK, so let's go to claim number two from McCarthy about an FBI informant.


MCCARTHY: Even a trusted FBI informant has alleged a bribe to the Biden family.


SCIUTTO: Trusted FBI informant alleged a bribe. What are the facts?

DALE: So this claim leaves out some critical context.

It is true, Jim, that, in 2020, an informant who the FBI had deemed credible did allege that, in 2016, a Ukrainian businessman had made the claim that he had given two $5 million payments to the Bidens.

However, three years later, that informant and nobody else have presented any proof that the underlying allegation that the bribe actually occurred is true. In fact, the FBI document that reported this tip said the informant couldn't even offer an opinion about the veracity of the claim.

Now, Hunter Biden business associate Devon Archer also testified to Congress he was not aware of any such payment. He characterized this businessman's claim as a typical example of a prominent Ukrainian businessperson exaggerating or embellishing his influence.

SCIUTTO: That's interesting, because the Devon Archer testimony was something that was highly touted by Republicans and many in right-wing media.

DALE: Indeed.

SCIUTTO: OK, another claim, McCarthy also claims that Biden participated in calls and dinners with his son's business partners. Facts.


MCCARTHY: Eyewitnesses have testified that the president joined on multiple phone calls, and had multiple interactions, dinners, resulted in cars and millions of dollars, into his sons and his son's business partners.


SCIUTTO: On the calls. What did Joe Biden do on these calls?

DALE: Yes, so that's the critical context that Speaker McCarthy left out here.

Devon Archer did testify that about 20 times over a number of years Joe Biden was put on speakerphone in calls with Hunter Biden and business associates. But Archer also testified that Joe Biden's contributions were superficial, that he'd ask his son -- his son things like, what's the weather where you're like, how's the fishing, how are you doing?


He didn't -- Archer testified he never heard Joe Biden discuss business, made similar testimony about Joe Biden appearing at dinners in Washington. And so this is -- this is the pattern. McCarthy is making these claims without demonstrating any evidence that Joe Biden did anything in office to help his son's business, that Joe Biden personally profited from his son's business, that Joe Biden took affirmative steps to get his son the money.

Hunter Biden did receive a -- for example, a wire transfer from a foreign businessman that he used to buy a fancy car, did receive millions of other dollars from foreign sources. But, again, that's Hunter Biden. This is an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden.

SCIUTTO: And, to be clear, these claims have been out there for some time, with both the Republican Party, lawmakers, and the FBI, Justice Department, with time, in some cases, years' time, to investigate, to find evidence. They have not presented any such evidence?

DALE: They have not.


DALE: And they have launched this impeachment inquiry. It's important to remember they have had subpoena power through their House majority for a while now.


DALE: And, of course, investigation is ongoing, but none of this evidence has appeared to date.

SCIUTTO: Well, that's why we do the facts.

Daniel Dale, perfect man for that. Thanks so much -- Brianna.

KEILAR: It's the stubborn thorn in the side of the American economy, and it inflicted more pain than it expected last month.

The key measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, coming in higher than predicted, rising 3.7 percent in August, compared to the same month last year. That is slightly higher than the 3.6 percent that economists have been expecting. And it is just over half-a- percent increase from July, which is the biggest monthly rise of the year.

Rising energy prices fueling most of the jump here, rising 5.6 percent, gasoline alone surging more than 10.5 percent, shelter costs up 0.3 percent. It sounds small, but it does make up about a third of the CPI weighting here, so it has a big impact.

There was one bright spot, and that is used cars and truck prices, which I'm sure you noticed had been getting a little out of control. That dropped 1.2 percent. Markets not really too phased by it all, the Dow right now up a little more than 20 points.

Let's discuss this now with Justin Wolfers. He is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan.

All right, Justin, these latest numbers that we went through, they show inflation pressures are slowly subsiding, but then you have this high housing and the gas prices. They're still making it feel pretty tough. Is this why President Biden's economic message is not resonating with the public as much as he would hope that it would?


Today's inflation numbers are, in fact, a lot of good news hiding under a cloak of bad news. Here's the bad news. The bad news is that prices had been rising pretty quickly for the past couple of years. But when you get to turning points in the economy, it's important to be looking at the freshest data, what's happening in the most recent months.

And so when you say inflation rose at 3.7 percent over the past year, that tells us a lot about what was happening six months ago, nine months ago, 12 months ago. Let's focus instead on the past three months. And you have seen -- I remember, three months ago, we talked about it. We got a really good low number. Last month, we got another really good low number.

And, in fact, we got another really good low number today. And so if you put those three numbers together, there's a lot of cause for optimism. In fact, core CPI over the past three months has risen at an annual rate of only 2.5 percent, which is remarkably lower than the rates we'd been seeing earlier.

KEILAR: Yes, I think people are just a little fatigued, and that's certainly coming through here.

We mentioned housing here. I think what a lot of people are wondering, they're saying, OK, these mortgage rates, they're really high right now. Are they going to go down in a couple of years? Or is maybe what they thought was, say, their starter home, should they be thinking about that as maybe their longer-term home, their forever home maybe?

What do you think?

WOLFERS: There's two really important things to think about -- or three really important things to think about with housing.

One, what can you afford depends a lot on your wages. And we have seen wage growth actually start to outstrip inflation over the past couple of months. And if that keeps up, that's really going to help people. Two, there's how much interest you have to pay your bank. And interest rates right now really are dramatically higher than we have seen in quite a long time.

A lot of that has to do with the Fed. And, hopefully, once we get inflation, under control, the Fed can take its foot off that break and let interest rates fall a little bit more. But the third thing that really matters for housing costs is, how much does the house itself cost?

House prices rose dramatically in the post pandemic period, but, in fact, house prices have come down. House price growth has come down quite a bit and it's flatlining. And it's actually one of the important factors that's going to continue to mute or dampen down cost of living pressures over the next year.

KEILAR: OK, that is good news.

What are you looking for at the Fed's meeting next week?

WOLFERS: I think they have signaled that, unless we got really bad news today, they were going to take September as a time to have a look, have a think and do nothing.


And we can argue about whether today's data was good news or merely expected, but it's certainly not going to move them to raise rates further. The much bigger question is whether they're going to raise rates in December, perhaps in November, and how long they're going to leave them there, but for the time being, I think no further rate rise coming in the short run.

KEILAR: Oh, that is music to our ears, Professor. Thank you so much for being with us today.

WOLFERS: A pleasure, Brianna.

KEILAR: Boris.

SANCHEZ: Still to come: an intense manhunt spread over two weeks with hundreds of law enforcement officers in pursuit. And, finally, they capture a convicted killer. How it all went down in Pennsylvania.

Plus, a rare summit and a pledge of support, North Korea's Kim Jong-un endorsing Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine, the two sides looking to strengthen ties. We have new details on that.

And it has the power to transform the world for the better or destroy it. Why the nation's top tech titans are all meeting in one room on Capitol Hill today. We will take you there in just moments.

Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: "The good guys won" -- that's what the district attorney of Chester County, Pennsylvania said after the capture of escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante, who broke out of prison exactly two weeks ago today.

Pennsylvania State Police said infrared cameras picked up the killer's heat signal just around 1:00 a.m. They said that, when officers had him surrounded, the 34-year-old convict resisted arrest. He tried to crawl away, but a police canine then subdued him.

The DA said that one of the first to get the news of his capture was the family of Deborah Brandao, the ex-girlfriend Cavalcante murdered in 2021, which led him to receiving a life sentence without parole.


DEB RYAN, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, CHESTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA: They were shrieking with joy and happiness that he's incarcerated. They have lived their own personal nightmare.

I can't underscore enough the trauma that this family sustained. These little kids watched their mother be murdered. Then the little girl had to testify during this homicide trial. And upon this release of the defendant from -- or the escape from the prison, they have been barricaded inside their homes, not feeling safe anywhere.

So, for them, this is a tremendous relief.


SANCHEZ: Let's take you to Chester County now with CNN's Danny Freeman, who's been following the action for the last 14 days.

So, Danny, this all started with an alarm that went off at someone's home.


A burglary alarm really set off a cascading series of events that led ultimately to Cavalcante's capture this morning. But before I even get to that, I just want to orient you. We moved a little bit down the road from where we were earlier at the northern -- the northeastern edge of the police perimeter that had been in place for more than 24 hours.

Now we're in the spot along Pottstown Pike, where Cavalcante was captured. Just in this wooden area behind me, that's where Cavalcante's 14-day escape from prison finally came to an end.

So let me talk about that timeline, though, Boris, and get to that burglary, which, as I said, really kicked off the end of this manhunt.

So, according to Lieutenant George Bivens with the Pennsylvania State Police, this all started last night just a little after midnight. That's when a burglary alarm pretty close to where we are right now went off. And it brought a lot of resources to the area. Pennsylvania State Police said tactical teams really swarmed this area of Chester County to try and find Cavalcante.

Then they weren't able to find him, but they got some help from above. An aerial team at around 1:00 a.m., as you said, picked up heat signals. It was actually a DEA fixed-wing airplane that was flying over. They picked up heat signals that they believed was Cavalcante.

Tactical teams began to come in once again, but then this large storm hit. Lieutenant Colonel Bivens said there was lightning in the area. It forced all of those aerial assets to go back and land for safety. But then, according to Pennsylvania State Police, this team made a decision to stay in the area. They found Cavalcante in the woods behind us.

And then take a listen to what Bivens said happened next.


LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: He began to crawl through thick underbrush, taking his rifle with him as he went. One of the Customs and Border Patrol teams, BORTAC, had a dog with

them. They released the dog. Some of our PSP Cert members were also there, had him surrounded. The dogs subdued him, and team members from both of those teams immediately moved in.


FREEMAN: Bivens said the element of surprise earlier this morning led to Cavalcante's capture.

Now Cavalcante is in Pennsylvania State Police custody. He's getting interviewed. He's going to get a medical examination, and then he will be sent to a state correctional institution -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: A sigh of relief for members of that community and for the families of victims whose lives he took.

Danny Freeman from Chester County, thanks so much -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, today, the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is pledging his support for Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.

The two very isolated leaders met face to face in Russia overnight, as U.S. officials have warned about a potential arms deal ahead, North Korean arms to help Russia in Ukraine. Putin welcomed Kim at a space rocket launch site in Russia's far east. This is important because he later signaled that Russia would help North Korea develop its own space and satellite program.

Moscow needs fresh supplies of ammunition and shells after more than 18 months of its war in Ukraine. And with Putin by his side, Kim vowed to stand by Russia.



KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): Russia is engaged in a fight for justice to defend the sovereign right and security interest against the hegemonic forces. We have been expressing the full and unconditional support to all measures that you have taken in response and that, in the front line of anti-imperialism and independence, I will always be standing with Russia.

I'm using this opportunity to make it clear.


SCIUTTO: And while Kim Jong-un is in Russia, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula, that just hours before the summit.

Unlikely to be a coincidence.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us now from Seoul, South Korea. And, Paula, I wonder, how is South Korea viewing this emerging

friendship between Russia and North Korea? Of course, their eyes often turn to the threat north. Do they view this as a growing threat to themselves?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, they're certainly watching everything that's happening with great concern. There were calls before Kim Jong-un met with Vladimir Putin for him not to meet with him, for him not to do an arms deal.

But this has been a very public display of solidarity between two very isolated leaders that are heading up two heavily sanctioned countries. So what we saw today was really a pledge from Kim Jong-un that he had the -- that he fully supported Vladimir Putin in everything he was doing.

And, in return, we saw the military focus. We saw the fact they were at that space center and Putin said that he would help Kim in his space endeavors. In fact, one of the Russian reporters that was there seeing him being shown around said that he asked a lot of very detailed questions.

So, clearly, he will get something out of this. Now, interestingly, he also had some very thinly veiled warnings for the United States and the allies. He also said that he fully supports Russia's war in Ukraine.


KIM (through translator): We are certain that the Russian people and its military will emerge victorious in the fight to punish the evil forces that ambitiously pursue hegemony and expansion.


HANCOCKS: So, Kim Jong-un saying he does show full and unconditional support for Putin, something which will not please Washington, Seoul or Tokyo -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: and the importance too of visiting that space launch center, space rockets make pretty good ICBMs as well.

Paula Hancocks in South Korea, thanks so much.

Joining us now is senior international correspondent Matthew Chance from Moscow.

Matthew, I wonder. Vladimir Putin described talks with Kim today as highly productive. Have Russian officials explained why Russia needs North Korea's help right now in this war, Russia's enormous world- beating military here now with its hat in hand to some degree as they meet?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I mean, of course not. Jim, as you well know, they haven't explained why they might want that arms deal that there's been so much speculation about. In fact they haven't even really spelt out what progress was made behind closed doors. Certainly, there's nothing been announced publicly. There's been no deals signed.

There wasn't even a press conference, a news conference at the end of the meeting today. And so if there was a deal sort of done behind closed doors, it's probably going to stay that way, because there's a whole kind of shroud of secrecy that's been cast all over this whole visit. We don't even know how long Kim Jong-un is going to stay in the country for.

We know he's got a few more engagements in the far east of Russia, but he's going everywhere by train. And so we don't know how long it takes him to get to various places and then make his way back out of the country. But make no mistake. I mean, North Korea definitely wants that rocket technology. It wants satellite technology. It's tried repeatedly to launch spy satellite and failed over the past couple of months.

Russia could really help with that. And Russia genuinely needs munitions, ammunition and weapons for the battlefield in Ukraine, where its stocks have been depleted. And, of course, North Korea has vast quantities of Soviet era weaponry and ammunition that Russian experts have been saying in the press here could deliver to Russia in a few days if a deal was done.

SCIUTTO: Understood.

Lots for both leaders to explain, but certainly a lot that both can get out of this.

Matthew Chance in Moscow, thanks so much, as always -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Libya is in a sad race now to bury its dead, as bodies are piling up in the streets following catastrophic flooding there. We're going to have the latest on these frantic efforts to find the thousands who are still missing as well.

Plus, both the defense and the prosecution in the Idaho student murders case say they want cameras out of the courtroom, but some of the victims' family members disagree.

We will have more on this ahead on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.