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Ukraine Retakes 2,300 Square Miles; Fears over Putin's Reaction to Counteroffensive Gains; Ukraine's Stunning Counteroffensive Push; Consumer Inflation Eased Last Month; King Charles Makes Visit to Northern Ireland; Nigel Sheinwald is Interviewed about Queen Elizabeth. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired September 13, 2022 - 09:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Tuesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. We're so glad you're with us.

And we are following several major stories this morning.

Today, a crucial meeting for the January 6th select committee. They are expected to talk about whether to ask former President Trump and former Vice President Pence to appear before them for questioning. This as the Justice Department has issued now subpoenas for more than 30 former Trump officials and campaign aides as it investigating the insurrection and as that investigation really intensifies.

Also, remembering the queen. Today, Queen Elizabeth's coffin will be taken to Edinburgh, Scotland, to Buckingham Palace in London. Right now, King Charles and the queen consort are in Northern Island meeting with leaders and mourners as thousands pay tribute to the queen. We'll take you there live.

SCIUTTO: And another major story we continue to follow. Ukrainian forces taking back more and more of their territory. President Zelenskyy says his country has recaptured now some 2,300 square miles of land. This video highlighting how quickly they were able to push out Russian occupiers. Russia is fighting back, launching heavy shelling that has knocked out power in the northeastern city of Kharkiv this morning.

Let's begin this hour with the latest from Ukraine. CNN correspondent Melissa Bell, she filed this report from inside Kharkiv.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There was the very clever communication about the counter offensive in the south ahead of its beginning on the - on the 29th of August. And then just about a week ago, the beginning of that eastern counter offensive up here in Kharkiv region that appears to have wrong-footed Russian forces. But there is also, and we've seen evidence of this on the ground when

we've been able to go further in to some of the liberates parts of Kharkiv region, the other successful element to this Ukrainian strategy, not just, of course, the determination of the soldiers, determined to recapture their own country and the lands that were lost six months ago, but the use of the NATO provided weapons, and in particular the long range artillery that has allowed both in the southern counteroffensive and here in the eastern counteroffensive over the course of the summer ahead of those counter offensives have allowed Ukrainian forces to take out the key infrastructure that had been allowing Russian forces to resupply their positions.

So, we had heard a lot about the bridge over the Dnipro and the attempt there to cut off the ability of Russian forces to resupply Kherson in men and in weapons and we heard a great deal of that. We've seen evidence here in the Kharkiv region when we went into Kupiansk a couple of days ago. That, remember, is one of those towns that was described as key because it is on the Russian supply routes. We saw there the railway bridge that had allowed again Russia from Belgorod, it's base just on the other side of the border, to supply both men and weapons further to the south and specifically to the military bases in Izium and then further south to their front lines in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Now, that clearly is what's been happening here. Over the course of the summer, those weapons provided by the United States, but other NATO allies as well, used to take out that long range artillery, some of that infrastructure ahead of the counter offensive in this determined push by the men and women themselves over the course of the last couple of weeks.


HARLOW: Our thanks to Melissa Bell for that reporting.

And officials say Russian President Vladimir Putin is aware of the situation on the front line and despite a damaging setback for Russian forces in Kharkiv, the Kremlin is insisting still, Jim, that Russia will achieve its goals in Ukraine.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's claimed that before, even as they have had observable losses, like when they had to be pushed back from the capital, Kyiv.

CNN international - senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen, he's in Berlin with more.

Fred, you cover Russia a lot. Russian losses in the region are beginning to spark something which is deeply unusual, as you know, highly dangerous in Russia, and that is criticism of the Russian leader. Calls even for Putin to resign. How unusual is that and how serious are those calls?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, first of all, it's very unusual, Jim, and its public criticism which is something that you really very rarely hear. And there's certain things that we've been talking about, like those 18 local deputies which put out an open letter calling for the resignation even of Vladimir Putin. And, you know, about that letter, it is obviously something that is remarkable and noteworthy, but these are folks who are on a pretty low level as far as the administration or generally the public administration in Russia is concerned.


And it's really not many of them.

But you do hear a lot more criticism than you have in the past. Criticism, of course, in itself is something that's unusual because in the way that the opposition has been marginalized. But you even have people like, for instance, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is, of course, the Chechen strongman, a staunch supporter of Vladimir Putin, who came out and said, look, he thinks that serious problems exist and that big mistakes have been made. He said he's going to take that up with the military leadership of Russia. And then, if that doesn't help, he's going to take that up with Vladimir Putin himself. So that's certainly something that at least in that form we haven't heard in the past, or at least not to that extent, Jim.

The other thing that we've been sort of keeping an eye on over the past couple of hours, and really since this offensive by the Ukraine's has been going on, is state-controlled media. An as you know, you've been reporting about this so much, is it's unusually very much, you know, fanfare, things are going well, the Russians are winning, and you've really seen some different tones going on there. You had one of the main Kremlin propagandists going out and saying this is the toughest stretch that the Russians have had to endure in this, as they call it, the special military operation since it started. Of course, that referring to their invasion. There are others who are even saying they believe that Ukraine can't be defeated, at least not at this rate.

I think right now the big signals that people are looking for from Vladimir Putin and from Russia itself is, where does it go next? Is there going to be an attempt at an escalation on Russia's part? Could there be some sort of mobilization even though the Kremlin today once again has said there are no plans for that. Is Russia going to try and amp things up. I think that's what people are going to be looking for. But right now it really seems as though the Russians very much are stunned, Jim.


HARLOW: Frederik Pleitgen, thank you so much.

And you put it so well. So, let's begin there with this discussion with retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, from commanding general for the U.S. Army Europe and the 7th Army.

Why? It's a simple question but I'm fascinated to know what you think about why Ukraine has been so successful on this push recently?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, first of all, Poppy and Jim, I'd like to say, I'll add to what everyone else is saying. I'm euphoric about Ukraine's advance in Kharkiv and Kherson, as well as their continued active defense in the Donbas.

But this was all about a brilliant advance resulting from things that we've been talking about from the very beginning, solid maneuver plan, deception, advanced weapons, use of intelligence, leadership and morale. That's what the Ukraine army is bringing to this fight and they're going up against a force that has extremely poor moral, bad leadership, dysfunctional logistics and the inability to have practiced or trained on what they're trying to do.

But, having said all those things, there is still a lot of fighting to go. I am -- do not count me in with those who are saying this is going to be over any time soon.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, General Hertling, because in advance of this U.S. officials, U.S. assessment saw this counter offensive coming. Ukrainian officials talked about it, but with a focus on the south, the areas around Kherson. And, by the way, there is still a counter offensive there. It's just not moving anywhere nearly as quickly as what we're seeing in the northeast.

Do you see any evidence, science to you, that the main objective all along was the northeast, that this was something of a - of a head fake?

HERTLING: Yes, that - there's all kinds of indicators of that, Jim. I would say that was what Ukraine was planning all along. And part of the reason why you're forcing Russia to face multiple forces at one time. The one in the north, which will bump up against as they - as they continue on through Kherson province, it will bump up against Luhansk (INAUDIBLE). And that is the key to gaining some of the supply factors that Russia has been using, some of the hubs of railroads and roads and rivers. So, if you can stop, as we've been talking from the very beginning, if you can stop the resupply of the logistics trail of the Russian forces, both in the north and in the south, you're going to have a pretty good chance of victory against defeating an army that's using operational maneuver on a very wide front.

The other thing I would suggest, Jim, if you're talking about a frontage of 1,600 kilometers, this is a large area. It doesn't show up on the maps we show, but this is a lot of fighting. So, if you could pull forces off one front or another, you have a better chance of defeating them in piecemeal.

HARLOW: I wonder, General, if you are stunned by this dissent coming from deputies in 18 different municipal districts, in Moscow and in and around St. Petersburg. According to this petition they signed, posted on Twitter, they write criticizing the Kremlin and the strategy. The actions of its president, Vladimir Putin, are detrimental to Russia and its citizens' future. We demand Putin resign from the post of the president and the Russian Federation. I mean given they're pretty low level folks who signed this, but given the -- especially the crackdown on any dissent since this war began, I wonder how significant you think that is?

HERTLING: Well, I think it's significant.


And I'm not surprised by it at all, Poppy, other than the fact that I would say, I wish it had come a whole lot sooner. But you're talking about Mr. Putin having an iron hand on all of those officials at every level. At the - at the large level and at the small level. So, to see a bunch of them combine, probably in about the same time they're feeling the effects of six months of sanctions. Remember, from the very beginning, everyone said it would take about six months to have those sanctions start to kick in. We're at that point right now. You combine that with the loss of estimates of 50,000 to about 70,000 Russians killed on the battlefield and mothers pressing those officials and all those other factors that play a part, and I think that you're going to see more and more protesters like this from other officials within Russia.

SCIUTTO: Listen, it's a dangerous game because there are laws criminalizing that kind of public criticism.

Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, always good to have you on.

HERTLING: A pleasure, guys. Thanks.

HARLOW: Thank you so much.

Well, this just in to CNN, U.S. annual inflation cooled off a little bit for the second straight month. That is good news. But we're not out of the woods, that's for sure. Economists warn consumer prices, they are stills stubbornly high.

SCIUTTO: CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now.

You always say watch the trend, right? So, this is the beginning, you might say, of a flattening, I suppose. Is that lasting? What's the significance of these latest numbers?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know, we're seeing cooling all around in terms of inflation, especially, you know, gas prices, for example. And you can see that in this report. But there is some core issues that are still too high and still a burden to American families.

Let me give you these numbers here. Over the past 12 months, consumer price inflation, 8.3 percent. Month over month, just about 0.1 percent. So, that's that sign of cooling I'm talking about.

And if you look at a line chart over the past year, you can see it looks like, after reaching 40-year highs, it's trying to roll over there, right? That's the trend we've been talking about to continue to watch. But inside these numbers there's some things I'm concerned about. Gasoline prices, while down for the past 80 days or so, are still sharply higher than they were last year. That food category on your screen there, that's the largest monthly increase since 1979. Remember, that was -- those were the bad old days when we were fighting very dangerous entrenched inflation.

And the shelter number up 6.2 percent year-over-year. Again, you can switch what kind of, you know, cuts of meat you're buying at the grocery store, but you can't just turn around and switch where you're living. So that shelter inflation is something that's become a real problem for people up and down the income spectrum.

So, I think what you're seeing in the markets here today, you're seeing markets that are saying, OK, the Fed is really going to have to continue to raise interest rates sharply, especially at its next meeting, to try to get this under control. So, this was the kind of number that is showing that the Feds' medicine is starting to work but there's a lot more work that needs to be done, you guys.

SCIUTTO: No question.


SCIUTTO: And, by the way, speaking of Ukraine and the effects on the broader energy market, what we see going into the winter, another factor.


SCIUTTO: Christine Romans, thanks so much.

Well, this morning, King Charles has been meeting with lawmakers in Northern Ireland as the U.K. continues to mourn the loss of the queen. We will take you there live as he is set to depart for St. Anne's Cathedral, the site of a prayer service beginning this hour.

HARLOW: Also ahead, the Justice Department has issued 30 more subpoenas in its investigation into the insurrection on January 6th. Some of those subpoenas for key people in former President Trump's inner circle.

And later, Amtrak suspending some of its long-haul routes as concerns grow about a potential rail strike this week. What the Biden administration is trying to do to avoid major disruption.



HARLOW: Any moment now, King Charles and the queen consort will leave the royal residence in Northern Ireland. This morning, King Charles made his first visit to Northern Ireland as monarch, the country offers condolences for the death of Queen Elizabeth.

SCIUTTO: Just so many flowers and outpouring of emotion.


SCIUTTO: Right now, a steady stream of mourners passing through St. Giles' Cathedral in Scotland to view the queen before her coffin is moved to London in just a few hours. You can see the picture there. CNN's Nic Robertson joins us now from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Tell us how the new king, King Charles III, is being received there.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Oh, very positively, very warmly. Before he went into Hillsborough Castle, viewing the flowers that have been laid outside for the queen consort and also greeting some of the crowd there.

And there's a growing crowd here outside of St. Anne's Cathedral. It seems some hundreds of people, leaders in the community, political leaders, community leaders, religious leaders headed into the cathedral for the service that should begin within the next hour or so.

But I think perhaps some of the most significant moments were those inside Hillsborough Castle, where the pro-United Ireland anti- monarchy, if you will, speaker of the Northern Island assembly gave a speech to the new king where he talked about the healing that the queen had brought to the country. The importance of her handshake with former para-military leaders, the importance of the moments when she had spoken in Irish.

And King Charles, for his part, his speech, very carefully tailored to a very broad audience here. Speaking about the way his mother had tried to work to bring a better life and times for this place and its people. He didn't say Northern Ireland, or he didn't say Ireland, which would be the two different aspirations here of the divided community. He said, this place. And that was very telling. And he also spoke about the work that his mother had done to sort of heal the hurt of those who felt that they've become divided through history.


And, of course, northern Ireland, an island viewed by the nationalist - pro-united island party has one thing here, and the pro-British community here want to remain part of the United Kingdom. So, a very careful speech. But that prayer service of remembrance will begin here shortly.

Jim. Poppy.

HARLOW: Nic Robertson, we're so glad you're there. Thank you for joining us live from Belfast.

So, let me bring in Sir. Nigel Sheinwald, the former British ambassador to the United States. He was knighted in 2001, now serves at council chair at Chatham House, a policy institute in London. Long supported by the late queen.

Thank you so much, Mr. Ambassador, for your time this morning.


HARLOW: Let's just start with your reflections on the queen as we see just these outpourings of love for her across the U.K.

SHEINWALD: Well, thank you. Thank you, Poppy.

You know, I had the privilege to have met the queen on a number of occasions. I accompanied Tony Blair when he was prime minister to Balmoral for one of those royal weekends and I was part of the delegation when President Obama made his state visit to the queen in London in 2011. So, I did have that opportunity to see her in a number of different occasions.

I think she occupied a remarkable and unique position in the world. She had this global network. She embodied certainly recent history. And that's not going to be repeated probably by anybody. And that's something we have to take into account and recognize.


SHEINWALD: She was enormously knowledgeable about politics and the world. And she had a huge admiration for the United States. And I believe having been part of that wartime generation herself, she said regularly that the United States came to the U.K.'s and the world's rescue on two occasions in the last century. I think she meant that. But she also admired the modern United States and talked for decades about the role of technology, culture and everything else in our society.

So, those are some very brief reflections. But I saw here principally in her role as an international figure working not only in the U.K., but with world leaders.

HARLOW: I thought it was interesting that the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Jane Hartley, this weekend, called King Charles, quote, both a link to the past and a bridge to the future. Right, there's the question of how he can carry on and add to his late mother's legacy, but also the question about his role in maintaining and even strengthening the special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. I wonder what your thoughts are on that.

SHEINWALD: Well, I agree with what she said. And I saw her interview. I do think that he has the opportunity, and we've been seeing some of it today, and Nic Robertson brought some of that out himself in his report a moment ago, he can play that unifying role in British life and arguably maybe in some parts of international life as well. We all know that politics are bitter and divided in a number of our countries, bringing values of decency, integrity, belief and reconciliation to public life really is important. And in a subtle way, I think that the new king can do that and do that effectively in the same way as his mother did.

And internationally, over the years, and he's had the most remarkable apprenticeship and preparation for this role, he's built up his own network of acquaintances and friends and connections, including a lot in the United States. He's been visiting the United States for 50 years, has maintained personal connections in that time. I certainly think that with Northern Ireland, as Nic Robertson was suggesting, he will be very, very keen in his own way, subtly and indirectly to maintain his mother's legacy. I think what she did with her state visit in 2011 to Ireland is indelible. But Northern Ireland plainly given the problems today needs constant attention from a range of figures, both politicians and those like the king outside politics. And I think he can do that.

And then, lastly, on climate change, it's his subject.


SHEINWALD: He's been sometimes - you know, he said himself, he's sometimes been an unpopular voice on that subject, but he's now very, very much mainstream globally. He wouldn't want to intervene directly, criticize our government or anyone else's government. But I think the knowledge that he's so personally committed to this can help other and other governments give it the attention that it needs and the platform that it requires in the decades ahead as we really come to grips with the effect of climate change and the - the urgent need for moving to net zero.


So, I don't think he needs to shed all of his personal beliefs and everything that he's done in recent decades on this subject. He, obviously, as he's implied himself, do it in a different way going forward as king from the way he did it as prince of Wales.

HARLOW: Certainly it was just a year ago that he warned of climate changing, saying it puts the globe on, quote, war-like footing.


HARLOW: So, we'll see what is ahead.

Ambassador, thank you very, very much.

SHEINWALD: Thank you.

HARLOW: Sir Nigel Sheinwald.

SHEINWALD: Thank you.

HARLOW: Yes, of course.

Up next, we are getting new details about those documents seized from former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. We're also learning the Justice Department is willing to compromise on one of Trump's lawyer's special master requests. So, who will it be? We'll talk about that ahead.

SCIUTTO: And we're moments away from the opening bell on Wall Street. Futures, they're pointing down now, a lot, after dropping as much as 400 points after this morning's inflation report. The number showed inflation slowing for a second month, but not as much as many people expected. They're higher than expected. Investors watching that closely, asking questions now about how much the Fed might raise interest rates the next time around. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)