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British Lawmaker Stabbed; Bruno Le Marie is Interviewed about the France/U.S. Relationship; Ronald Richter is Interviewed about Murdaugh Steeling Settlement Funds. Aired 9:30-10a ET.

Aired October 15, 2021 - 09:30   ET



SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, this has just happened, so we're still getting more details, so please be patient with us while we wait for more information from his office and also from the police.

But we do know that he was stabbed multiple times and is now recovering from those injuries. We understand that there was a man involved, a suspect, a male suspect involved in this stabbing. Essex Police, that's the police force that operates in that area, about an hour and a half here from London, they say they have arrested this individual and they are not looking for any other suspects at this time.

So it appears, for now, this incident is over. But it's absolutely horrific, as you can imagine. This is a conservative lawmaker. This was during his open office hours, about 12:00 local time, so broad daylight, here, when this incident occurred.

It's been several years since we've seen an incident like this. This is not a controversial figure. He's a conservative MP, well known. He was first elected in 1983, so a long-standing, long serving member of parliament here.

And, of course, the question now is, why did this take place? What was the motivation behind it -- behind it? And who is this suspect? The last time a lawmaker was stabbed in a very similar incident, it was about five years ago during the Brexit period. That seemed to be from a right wing attacker. So questions now will be asked about what was the motivation of this attacker. Police looking for no one at large here for now. But will there be further links uncovered, Jim, that's the question.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Salma Abdelaziz, thanks so much.

We will keep you updated on the condition of the member of parliament.

This has been a difficult time in relations between the U.S. and France. The summary (ph) U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan. Also a dispute over a nuclear deal with Australia. A time for French officials to come to Washington to discuss that relationship.

We're joined now by one of them. He is the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire.

Minister Le Marie, thanks so much for joining us this morning.


SCIUTTO: You came to Washington following two major disruptions in the U.S./French relationship, and that is French public dissatisfaction with the pace and the method of U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan, but also the U.S./Australia nuclear deal, which replaced a deal that France had with Australia.

As you head home later today after these meetings, is the relationship between the U.S. and France repaired, being repaired, or still damaged?

LE MARIE: I think that we are on the right track. We are building back better, I would say, between France and the United States. And as far as finance and economy are concerned, we are very satisfied by the meetings I had with both Jay Powell, with secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, with Gina Hermando (ph), with Katherine Tie (ph). I think that we are on the right track.

We are very grateful to the U.S. administration for their support to the international taxation system, this new agreement on (INAUDIBLE) taxation and digital taxation. So we are on the right track.

There is one single point on which we need now to fix the issue, which is trade. Tariffs on aluminum and steel. And I hope that over the next month, or the next weeks, we can pave the way for a final agreement between the U.S. and Europe on tariffs.

SCIUTTO: Do you believe that the Biden administration will agree to lift many of the (INAUDIBLE) tariffs?

LE MARIE: I really think that this is in the interest of the U.S. administration to lift tariffs on aluminum and steel. The only country which would benefit from a new trade war between the United States and Europe is clearly, clearly. Do we really want to have China benefiting over a trade war or trade tensions between Europe and the United States? My response is clearly no.


You mentioned China. And this is an area of disagreement between the U.S. and France as well, in terms of the level of the threat that China presents today. You told "The New York Times" that when it comes to the U.S. and France's China strategies, the United States wants to confront China, the European Union wants to engage China.

In your view, in the view of the French government, is China less of a threat than you hear from American officials?

LE MARIE: I don't think that we should characterize China as a threat. Because if it is a threat, then you have to fight against China. Who is really ready to fight against China? So I think that's not the right approach.

And I would not say that there is a disagreement between the U.S. and Europe vis-a-vis China. There is a difference in the approach. And that's why I'm really advocating for a stronger coordination between all European countries on the United States to answer this key strategic question, how to deal with China over the next decade.

And I think that, first of all, we should reinforce the cooperation between the U.S. and European countries. Second, we should have a list of issues and make differences between the question of the human rights, the question of trade, the question of intellectual property, of access to market, so that we can try to find solutions on every topic instead of having the global approach.


SCIUTTO: OK, engagement has been tried for decades really with China. That's an argument you hear, entering -- China's entrance into the WTO.

LE MARIE: And you get some results.

SCIUTTO: Well, but it -- but China's trade practices did not miraculously become fairer.

LE MARIE: Of course. I'm not --

SCIUTTO: They arguably became less fair.

LE MARIE: I'm not explaining that we are satisfied with China.


LE MARIE: I'm just explaining that engagement is for us, for the French president, for all European countries, the right approach. And it can get some results. Let's give just two examples.

On the international taxation (ph), China was totally opposed to the idea of having a new international taxation system. Finally, they agreed on this agreement at the OECD (ph) level, which is clear evidence that there is room for maneuver.

Second example, the question of debt in the poorest countries. We succeeded in defining a common framework. And in this common framework, China is trying to abide by the rules and to engage, to reduce the level of public debt within the poorest countries in the world.

So we can register some limited progress, but we have to build on this limited progress.

SCIUTTO: I want to ask about supply chain issues because, of course, America is not the only country suffering under these right now. Just as our ports are clogged and backed up with container ships, et cetera. So Europe experiencing the same.

Is this supply chain crisis, does it alleviate in weeks, months? Is it lasting?

LE MARIE: I would say month. I would say that it will last until the end of 2022, at least.


LE MARIE: At least.

SCIUTTO: More than a year?

LE MARIE: More than a year. Because we have this negative consequences of a good news. The good news is that we have a very strong, quick and solid economic recovery. But the consequence of that is the lack of (INAUDIBLE), the lack of people on the liberal (ph) markets, the lack of key components like semiconductors. What is the right response to that?

The right response has been given by President Biden, independence. Independence is the kind of response that President Biden wants to give to the United States. And Emmanuel Macron is exactly on the same line. He's just announced an investment plan to be more independent on key technologies on green hydrogen --


LE MARIE: On chips, on nuclear energy. So I think that we -- if you take that example, we have exactly the same kind of approach between France and the United States. And I would characterize this approach as a kind of goodest (ph) approach.

SCIUTTO: Before we go, on this issue, for instance, leadership on responding to an economic crisis here, leadership regarding Afghanistan, leadership regarding how exactly to stand up or engage with China. In your view, does the U.S. hold the same influence with Europe today that it held 10, 20 years ago, or is that influence, is that position declining?

LE MARIE: That's not the same kind of influence because United States do not have the same kind of interest vis-a-vis Europe. Let's be lucid about that. The United States are far more interested now on China, on Asia, than on the European countries. That's a fact. And that's not a critics against my American friends.

I'm very close to the American people. I know your country. I like your culture. But let's take that as a reality. Now, the United States are far more interested in the future of Asia than in the future of Europe. The consequence that all European countries must draw from this reality is to build their own independence, not only from an economic point of view, but also from a strategic point of view to get access to new technologies, to be more independent on key technologies, on space, on artificial intelligence, on (INAUDIBLE), and that's the same for the different issue. We need to be more independent as far as our security is concerned.

And Emmanuel Macron has been advocating for many years to have the European defense be more credible. I think this is the right response to this reality. The United States and no far more interested in the future of Asia than for the future of Europe.


They've made that very clear with recent decisions.

Minister Bruno Le Maire, thanks so much for taking the time.

LE MARIE: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: I enjoyed having you on the program.

Still ahead this hour, prominent South Carolina Attorney Alex Murdaugh has been arrested again, this time on charges he swindled the sons of his housekeeper after she passed away. We're going to speak to their lawyer, next.



SCIUTTO: The once prominent South Carolina attorney, Alex Murdaugh, has been arrested for the second time in a month. This time in Orlando, where he was in a drug rehab center. Murdaugh is charged with stealing millions of dollars from settlement funds in connection to the 2018 death of his family's longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. The attorneys for her estate say he orchestrated a scheme to have the money from that settlement, meant for her family, sent to a made-up company and eventually into his own pockets.

Joining me now is one of those attorneys, Ronald Richter. He's also founder and partner of the Bland Richter Law Firm.


Mr. Richter, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.


SCIUTTO: So, first of all, I wonder if you could explain to our viewers how this scheme worked. He's accused of stealing $4.3 million from the estate of Gloria Satterfield, that his late housekeeper, through multiple settlements meant for the family. How did he pull this off?

RICHTER: Yes, so the centerpiece of the scheme was the establishment of a bank account under the name Forge (ph), which, for us in South Carolina, for attorneys in South Carolina, the preeminent structured settlement firm that we go to when large recoveries are made in lawsuits is a group called Forge Consulting. And so, obviously, he tried to leverage the credibility of Forge Consulting by setting up an account called Forge. And so when the proceeds came in for the settlement, he had them directed into an account in the name Forge, which was just an account that he had made on his own behalf.

SCIUTTO: So, I mean, that's a remarkable thing to pull off over many years in effect here.

What happens now? I mean, that money was intended for the family, the surviving family members of Satterfield. Is there a way to recover those funds?

RICHTER: Yes. So, obviously, those funds are gone. We've subpoenaed the Forge account. We're waiting now for the results of that subpoena to find out exactly what happened to that money. But Alex did not act alone in making this happen. He certainly needed help. And the help came from those who also participated in the settlement. So we filed lawsuits virtually against anybody who touched that money, anybody who participated in those settlements, and it's by and through those lawsuits that we do intend to make our clients whole again.


I wonder, if I can, because, of course, this was the settlement for the death of the late housekeeper. There were new questions about that death itself. Recently the coroner has raised questions and there's now a possibility, I believe, of another autopsy. There was no autopsy at the time.

Does the family -- do you believe that the circumstances of her death were questionable?

RICHTER: Yes, we don't know. This is what we know about the death. We know she died on the property of Alex Murdaugh. We know that it was reported that she fell down the stairs and that her fall was caused by the dogs at the property.

What's unusual is, you know, without the formal medical investigation, without a formal autopsy, you know, after weeks in the hospital, after weeks in a coma, that death was declared a natural death and, therefore, no investigation took place. And, Jim, there's nothing natural about a 57-year-old woman falling down a flight of steps and suffering injuries that caused her ultimate demise. That is not a natural death.

And so I think those circumstances alone, combined with the other, you know, suspicious deaths on the Murdaugh property were enough to cause our state law enforcement to reopen that investigation.

SCIUTTO: Well, the lawyer for Alex Murdaugh, Dick Harpootlian, he was on "Good Morning America," ABC this morning. I want to play his comments and get your reaction.

Have a listen.


DICK HARPOOTLIAN, ALEX MURDAUGH'S LAWYER: He has indicated clearly that he is going to try to right every wrong, financial wrong, and others that he may have committed.

Look, he's reconciled to the fact he's going to prison. No one -- he understands that. He's a lawyer. He was a lawyer for 25 years. He gets it.


SCIUTTO: So he's saying there that Murdaugh intends to right every wrong, financial wrong. Do you believe that?

RICHTER: I -- you've got to show me. I mean, we -- we've heard nothing from team Murdaugh. It's been obfuscation and delay. I'm glad to hear Mr. Harpootlian say that. I'd be happier to see him make good on it.

So, we're here. We're accepting money today. So if you want to make this a wrong right, you know where to find us.

SCIUTTO: Ronald Richter, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

RICHTER: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, China is on the verge of launching another team of astronauts to its new space station. CNN gets rare access to the launch site. We're going to be live from there coming up.



SCIUTTO: We're just hours away from China's second manned mission to help build its new space station.

CNN's David Culver has more on the launch.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just behind me you can see the launchpad for Shenzhou-13. That is divine vessel. It will be launching off and traveling to Tiangong, or heavenly palace. That is China's soon to be completed space station.

Now, why is China building their own space station when there already is the International Space Station? It's because the U.S. barred China from participating in the ISS. So they're constructing their own. And they're inviting other countries to take part. In fact, right now, astronauts from several European nations are going through language courses, learning Chinese, so that they can use the interphases in the China space station when it's finally completed.

And when you compare the space programs between China and the U.S., many experts will say the U.S. is still leading. But China's rapid growth is impressive, especially when you look at the U.S. having had roughly a four decade head start in manned missions. China's first manned mission was just in 2003.

[09:55:02] And since then they have seen first attempt successes in missions to the moon and to Mars. And they've got big plans. They want to build a moon base with Russia. And they hope to send astronauts to Mars by the 2030s.

Now, China is very proud of this. Proof of that is our being here. It's rare for foreign media to get this kind of access. But they want to demonstrate, one, that they're confident in what they've constructed, and, two, that they are a fierce competitor, especially with the U.S., not only here in this world, both also in outer space.

David Culver, CNN, Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China.


SCIUTTO: Remarkably fast progress there.

Well, FDA advisers are meeting as we speak on whether to recommend booster doses for Johnson & Johnson's COVID vaccine. We're going to be live with new details on that decision coming up next.