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Fuel Prices Soar; Bident to Meet with Netanyahu; Bobby Ghosh is Interviewed about the Biden-Netanyahu Meeting; Migrant Influx Strains Resources; Two Charged in Fentanyl Death of Infant. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired September 20, 2023 - 09:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Fuel prices across the country are on the rise again. According to AAA, the national average has hit the highest point of the year. California is looking at something -- it's heading towards something like an average of $6 a gallon. Ten other states now seeing gas prices over $4 per gallon. And while this is painful for drivers everywhere, of course, the rise in energy prices could also complicate the Federal Reserve's ongoing quest to tame inflation.

Let's talk about this now. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich back from - back from the front lines of the picket lines.


BOLDUAN: But to talk about exactly what also has to do with any -- anyone who's buying a car.


BOLDUAN: Anyone who's working in the industry. Let's talk first about the prices.


BOLDUAN: What's behind the jump right now?

YURKEVICH: Yes, that $6 a gallon in California, ouch.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I'm sure.

YURKEVICH: Nobody wants to see those kinds of prices.

Today the national average is $3.88, up about 20 cents from last year. But what is behind this is essentially Russia and Saudi Arabia have cut output of supply. And, of course, that means that oil prices go higher and then the ripple effect is that gas prices go higher.

But what we're hearing from analysts is that we're heading into the peak right now. BOLDUAN: OK.

YURKEVICH: So, hopefully this will start to trail off. Of course, when we head into fall, we usually see falling gas prices, but that's not happening because of this limited supply coming out of these two key nations right now.

BOLDUAN: And then this also is hitting at an important moment for the Federal Reserve.


BOLDUAN: They're - they have an important meeting today. What's expected to come out?

YURKEVICH: Yes, they're going to be watching gas prices closely.

We are expecting the Federal Reserve to pause raising interest rates. Sort of a rest and assess moment. Try to figure out what these 11 rate hikes mean to the economy. They want to get more data and they want to take a look at that and see where they need to go from there.

But if you look at inflation last month, it did rise 3.7 percent year over year, 0.6 percent month over month. But that was mainly because of rising gas prices.

But if you look at core inflation, that's what the Fed really likes to look at, that actually cooled a bit. It's 4.3 percent in the past year, but that's coming down from the prior two months when it was 4.7 percent. So, the Federal Reserve likes to look at this. This is taking out volatile elements like food and gas.

But just as important as it is to hear just how much they're going to raise rates by, it's important to look at what they're going to say about the future. There's a couple things that the Fed is looking at. They're going to be looking at the strike, the UAW strike, what that means for the economy. Maybe thousands of more workers will head out on strike.

Also -

BOLDUAN: And because of -- and also - and it's so unclear because this is the first time that they're all striking against the big three at the same time.


BOLDUAN: So, it's such an unusual circumstance to consider.

YURKEVICH: Yes, it's not just one of these automakers getting hit with a strike, it's all three.


YURKEVICH: So, they're going to be looking at that. Government shutdown. You're going to see furloughed federal workers.

Also Department of Labor won't be able to put out these key reports that the Fed relies on.

And then student loan repayments. How is that going to affect people who haven't had to make those payments for a couple years now.

And then gas prices, which we just spoke about.

Analysts saying that we're through the peak, however, of course, there are different things, like a major flood in Libya, or anything going on with Ukraine and Russia, that could change that. They're going to be taking a look at all of this as they make the decision about the next Fed meeting, the last one of the year, in November, where they'll make a decision, pause or raise.

BOLDUAN: Interesting. I mean also a great depiction of just how complicated this picture really is still.


BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Vanessa. Thank you.

YURKEVICH: Thank you.


SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a judge has revoked bail for the Philadelphia police officer who shot and killed a man within seconds of a traffic stop last month. Officer Mark Dial faces seven charges, including murder, in the death of Eddie Irizarry. Dial's preliminary hearing is set for next Tuesday. His attorneys say they hope the degree of the murder charge will be changed and that bail will be reinstated.

Actress Bijou Phillips is filing for divorce from Danny Masterson less than two weeks after he was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for rape. The couple has been married since 2011. Her attorney says her priority remains with her daughter. CNN has reached out to Masterson's legal team for comment. They have said they plan to appeal his rape conviction.

The same group that changed the face of affirmative action is now suing the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Students for Fair Admissions first challenged Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill in the Supreme Court.


And in June the court ruled that colleges and universities could no longer consider race as a specific basis for granting admissions. Now the group is suing West Point for the very same reasons, asking courts to rule their admissions process unconstitutional. West Point is not commenting on the ongoing case.

John. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks, Sara.

So, what could be an awkward meeting at the United Nations. President Biden with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They couldn't even get on the same page on who invited whom where.


SIDNER: An hour from now a significant meeting under a cloud of recent tensions. President Biden scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.


This will be their first face-to-face sit down since Netanyahu returned to office and his coalition launched a very controversial judicial overhaul that sparked mass protests across Israel. Critics say the overhaul weakens the court system and threatens Israel's democracy. Biden himself previously issued a rebuke saying in March, quote, "they cannot continue down this road."

CNN's Kayla Tausche joins us now.

Kayla, this overhaul has no doubt put a definite strain on this relationship between Israel and the United States, at least between these two leaders. What are Biden and Netanyahu expected to talk about?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sara, this overhaul remains deeply unsettling to the White House. So, advisers have crafted an agenda that includes its disapproval but is not limited to that, as the two leaders try to cover ground on a host of other issues, including the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Biden administration had previously said that there were some elements coming together directionally for that, even though terms of any specific agreement still needed to be worked out. That they were heading in that direction. That will certainly come up.

And then there is the shared goal of a deterrence of Iran. The leader of Iran at the United Nations had some harsh words for the United States in the last days, suggesting that - you know, it released prisoners based on humanitarian motives but that the U.S. needed to show good will toward the country and needed to show that it wanted to reengage with the 2015 nuclear deal before any talks there could begin. The U.S. has said that there are no direct talks with Iran planned for the foreseeable future. So, you can imagine that Biden and Netanyahu will be discussing that.

But the judicial reform plan is going to figure very prominently in this conversation. You mentioned that President Biden said this spring that Israel cannot continue going down this road, and yet it has continued going down this road. That is one reason why advisers, when they were discussing the backdrop for this meeting and where it should be held, there was a discussion of possibly having it at the White House, but that was seen as providing approval for the plan. And so that is why the meeting is happening on the sidelines of the United Nations instead of at the White House. We'll see if they can reach any sort of agreement or compromise, which the White House has been seeking for several months.

SIDNER: Yes, even where they're meeting shows that there is tension between the two.

Kayla Tausche, thank you so much.


BERMAN: All right, with me now, "Bloomberg" columnist and editor Bobby Ghosh.

Bobby, it's great to see.


BERMAN: Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden have known each other for decades.


BERMAN: I mean literally decades, since the 1970s, yet both seem perfectly willing to be very public about how awkward their interaction is right now. Why? What does each side get out of the awkwardness?

GHOSH: Well, they're talking past each other, John. They're not really talking to each other. They know each other's positions well enough. But each has an audience slightly off the center stage. Netanyahu is talking back to his own - talking to his own audience back at home, reassuring them that, I'm not going to back down to the things I promised my coalition partners, which is, you know, to change the judicial system and pursue this sort of super right wing agenda in Israel. Biden's also talking to his Democratic audience in this country, particularly to the more activist wing of his party to say, I'm not going to give Israel a clean bill of health just because they are our sort of crucial and close allies.

So, it is -- this is a bit of kabuki theater where these two men, as you say, who have known each other for decades are talking -- are looking at each other but really are talking over their -- each other's shoulders to a different audience.

BERMAN: We have some other really telling examples of politics intersecting with diplomacy in the last 24 hours. I want to play some sound of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy talking to Wolf Blitzer last night about presidential candidate Donald Trump who claims he could reach some kind of a deal in Ukraine, you know, as soon as he were to take office, if he were to take office again.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINE: He can publicly share his idea now not to waste time, not to lose people, yes, and say that my formula is to stop the war and stop all this tragedy and stop Russian aggression.

So, the idea is how to take the part of our territory and to give Putin. That is the peace formula.


BERMAN: So there's Zelenskyy taking on candidate Donald Trump. This morning, the Kremlin, in a way, took on candidate President Joe Biden.


Biden, obviously, attacked Russia in his U.N. speech yesterday. The Kremlin, in a statement today, said, quote, "in his entire political career, President Biden has not garnered the same level of support as Putin. This is perhaps something he should aim for, especially considering the challenging election he faces."

GHOSH: I mean I think we can set aside the Kremlin trolling because that's what it is, it is trolling and practically, as we've come to know it in social media age that we live in. The Zelenskyy interview was very interesting. He's calling out Trump's bluff. He's saying, if you - if you have a plan, let's hear it. And let's not waste any time. There are people dying out there. If you have a plan, don't wait until you become president, if that's what's going to happen with the election, but say it now so that we can -- we can begin the process of ending the war.

He's also putting down a marker of his own. He's saying, in effect, that if you have a plan that involves giving up Ukrainian territory, that's not going to happen. That's -- we're never going to allow that. So, if you have a plan that, you know, gets Putin out of my backyard and gets me my country back as a whole, then I want to hear it.

BERMAN: To what extent is the U.S. election hanging over this United Nations General Assembly? It seems like it's to a very great extent.

GHOSH: Well, absolutely. I mean, to a large extent I suspect that because so many of the other big names are not at the general assembly this year, I suspect many of the attendees this year will be looking past what's going on in that building on the East River and looking at America as a whole to the extent that they can. They will be having conversations with every American they come across. Whether that's their limo driver, or whether the person serving them breakfast in their hotel this morning to ask, what do you think is going on? They'll be taking soundings. They'll be - they'll be sort of trying to figure out what's going on in America and what the election prospects are for Trump and for Biden.

BERMAN: Because it means a lot to them.

GHOSH: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Bobby Ghosh, thank you very much. Great to see you in person.

GHOSH: That's, John. My pleasure.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, new details on the behind the scenes moves at the White House that are going on right now as they're seeing a big spike once again at the southern border and now so - and also now facing concerns about how this could impact President Biden's re- election bid.

Plus, two people are now facing federal drug charges. They're already facing murder charges over the horrific incident at a New York daycare. Several babies hospitalized for fentanyl overdoses. One child has now died because of it. The latest update we have for you on an enraging tragedy at what so many families thought was the place that would keep their children safe.

We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: Want to show you some new video that is - that is coming in. It shows, as you can see, hundreds of people riding on top of a freight train. I mean they've even erected like tents on top of it. They're making their way to a northern city in Mexico very close to El Paso, Texas. The situation there becoming very clearly untenable and so dangerous that the Mexican railroad operator has now suspended operations for 60 northbound trains over very clear safety concerns for migrants making their way through.

Now, while the migrant crisis slowed for a time after Title 42 expired in May, the problem is back in a big way. And now it's coming at another challenging time for a president running for re-election.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is at the White House. She has much more on all of this.

Priscilla, what are you hearing is going on -- I don't know, behind the scenes at the White House when you have these images coming in. You have shelters concerned about being over capacity times 3X in El Paso. What is the White House saying today?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Kate, there's certainly some anxiety within the administration as they see these numbers grow again. Over the course of the summer, officials were pleased with the lower numbers, the lower border crossings as they levied consequences against those who crossed the border unlawfully. But amid shifting demographics and changing nationalities coming to the border, it makes this all the more difficult.

So, to put this into perspective in the numbers, in May, post Title 42, numbers of daily crossings dropped to about 3,500 a day. Now, as of Monday, a Homeland Security official tells me they encountered more than 8,000. To give you some context, that's where we were in late spring when there were alarm bells going off within the administration over just how many people were crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

And what this means on the ground is facilities that are crowded and ill-equipped to handle this many people -- and we learned just on Friday in a court filing that in some cases children were temporarily separated from their parents because of crowded holding areas as they were processed through. All of this is not what the administration wants to talk about when they're looking into a re-election campaign ramping up this fall and into early next year.

This, of course, is a very delicate, political issue. But the reality here is that there is unprecedented and mass movement in the western hemisphere, and this continues to remain a challenge for this White House.


BOLDUAN: And you've been on top of it from the very beginning. Thank you very much, Priscilla, for the update.


BERMAN: So, this morning, two people now facing federal drug charges in addition to state murder charges after a one-year-old boy died and three other children were hospitalized from fentanyl overdoses at a New York City daycare. Police say the woman running the home daycare and a man who lived there were distributing opioids and the children were exposed to the drugs while they napped.

CNN crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz here with the details on this.

Shimon, what are you learning?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so the federal government now involved. The DEA getting involved in this case after this kilo of fentanyl was discovered in this daycare in the Bronx. And they're essentially charged with selling drugs, trafficking in drugs.


And it's a significant charge. On top of the murder charges that these two individuals are facing out of the Bronx for the death of that one- year-old and police believe that the four kids were exposed to this fentanyl that was being stored in this daycare, believing that possibly this was some kind of a front for this drug trafficking group.

They're looking for a third individual who is the husband of the woman who has been running the daycare. He was seen on surveillance video leaving the apartment with bags filled with stuff. Police don't know what was inside. But, obviously, they suspect it's some kind of contraband. And so they are out hunting for him. But they also say that they are investigating this on a global level, that perhaps this has some kind of international connection because one of the individuals that was arrested, a man by the name of Carlisto Brito, he's from the Dominican Republic. He arrives here about a year ago just around the time when they opened this daycare. So, they're trying to investigate that connection.

But the key here was, this could have been far worse, John, if it wasn't for the emergency responders who went to that daycare on Friday afternoon. They quickly realized what was going on with these kids and that they were suffering from this fentanyl opioid overdose and had to administer Narcan. And it's the spray in the nose to try and reverse the effects of Narcan - of the fentanyl.

But this is what emergency responders are dealing with now. They have to be prepared to go and deal with children, toddlers, babies now possibly exposed to fentanyl and have to respond in this way.

BERMAN: Look, they needed to give kids the Narcan. That says it all.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's -

BERMAN: Shimon Prokupecz, keep us posted on this. Thank you very much.


SIDNER: One of the worst stories I have ever heard of.

Thank you, Shimon.

In just minutes, Attorney General Merrick Garland will testify on Capitol Hill in front of some of his harshest Republican critics who have repeatedly accused him of politicizing the Department of Justice. He's ready to sharply rebuke those accusations. There are going to be fireworks for sure. We are live at the hearing in just a bit.