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Ukraine's Counteroffensive; Potential Freight Rail Strike; Inflation Report; Justice Department Ramps Up January 6 Investigation; Queen Elizabeth Makes Final Journey to London. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired September 13, 2022 - 13:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us.

Happening now, thousands of people lining the streets outside Buckingham Palace -- you can see these live images -- awaiting the arrival of the late Queen Elizabeth as she makes her final journey to London.

The streets are flooded with flowers and tributes to honor her unprecedented 70-year reign. And the plane carrying the queen's coffin from Scotland just departed, is now in the sky en route to London, where she will first be taken to Buckingham Palace.

And that's where we are going to begin our coverage with CNN royal correspondent Max Foster.

And, Max, tell us more about what you're seeing right now and just the sense on the ground there.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, there's preparations at Buckingham Palace to receive the coffin.

I can't give you full details yet, but I think it's going to be something quite emotional when the coffin arrives here. And, certainly, the public are feeling that as well.

Let's just turn around here. These are -- this is just one of the pathways leading down to the palace, people just desperate to have that moment to see the coffin. This is partly because there's going to be very limited opportunities to pay your respects to the coffin, because all of these areas will be completely blocked off, full of people during tomorrow's procession, but also at the funeral itself.

And lying in state, we're expecting queues, Ana, of something like five miles. If you think that, for Winston Churchill, which was the last major state funeral, there were 320,000 people that came out, and that was in 1965. We're expecting something like a million people to try to come and see the queen.

This is why you have got so many people here trying to grab this moment. This is the Mall. So you can see the palace there. The coffin is going to arrive tonight from behind the palace. And then, tomorrow, there will be a full procession, full ceremonial procession from the palace along the Mall all the way up to Westminster Hall, where the queen will lie in state.

I don't think -- we have seen so much, haven't we, ceremony so far in this morning, period, but I don't think anything is really going to compare to what we're going to see over the next few days. I think it's going to be quite spectacular and a real tribute to the queen.

CABRERA: And Mother Nature obviously grieving the queen's loss today, with the rain, everyone out with their umbrellas awaiting the late queen's arrival.

Max Foster, we will check back. Thank you for that reporting.

Now I want to bring us back to Washington, where a number of investigations tied to former President Trump are intensifying. Dozens of people in Trump's orbit were just hit with Justice Department subpoenas, as the federal criminal investigation into January 6 widens.

And, today, the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack is discussing whether to formally invite former Vice President Mike Pence to testify.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee has just launched a probe into allegations that Trump DOJ officials tried to pressure prosecutors to do the administration's political bidding. The chairman telling CNN today they may call former Attorney General Bill Barr in to testify.

Let's bring in CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz, and, with me here in New York, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jen Rodgers.

Katelyn, lots of developments. Let's first start with these new subpoenas. What do we know?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, remember, this is the criminal investigation being led by the Justice Department around January 6 and Donald Trump after the election.

And this new round of subpoenas really asks for a lot of information from some very important people from very many different worlds around Donald Trump after the election. There's 30 or more subpoenas that we can be able to identify here with a large team of reporters working on this.

And some of the people receiving them include top Trump campaign officials, like Bill Stepien, top White House officials, like the deputy White House chief of staff, Dan Scavino, people working on that election fraud push, taking the argument to the public, to court, people like Bernie Kerik, who was working closely with Rudy Giuliani, a top lawyer to Donald Trump on the private side.

And then also a subpoena seeking information from Women for America First, that rally organization that put together the rally on January 6 on the Ellipse, and so this broad sweep of subpoenas is going to bring in a lot of information to the Justice Department about a lot of topics they're already known to be investigating January 6, the rally, as well as the fake electors probe, the electors used by Donald Trump even when they weren't needed after the election, as well as efforts to push fraud.

So it's a lot there. And there is going to be quite a collection of material.

CABRERA: So, Jen, what do you make of this what appears to be a wide net of subpoenas happen, and the timing of it, given we are now very close to that 60-day sensitive time getting close to the midterm elections?


JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think that's maybe why we're seeing this number.

I mean, I wouldn't call a subpoena an overt investigative step that's necessarily barred by the DOJ's 60-day rule. But I do think they're being so careful not to try to come up against the election. So that's perhaps why we're seeing so many subpoenas go out now. And then we may see a quiet period while this information comes back. And we may not see another batch of subpoenas like this...


CABRERA: What does who they're subpoenaing tell you?

RODGERS: It's really interesting, because some of these people were really involved with the social media work of the campaign, collecting information about what the far right social media folks were saying.

And so it seems to me they're maybe getting close to this notion of whether Trump and his inner circle knew about the likelihood of violence. And so monitoring those social media accounts that Dan Scavino was very, very involved in means that he and others were likely to know what was being said on those channels about the likelihood of violence.

And so that's the sort of evidence that you would be looking for if you were trying to put together a case that the president himself knew about that.

CABRERA: And, again, we're talking about subpoenas related to the DOJ investigation.

But, Katelyn let's talk about the January 6 Select Committee meeting today. What do we know about what they're planning?

POLANTZ: Right, Ana.

So this other investigative body on Capitol Hill, they have a lot of work to do. At least they have indicated as much, even though they have had those blockbuster hearings that have revealed quite a lot about Trump's efforts after the election January 6. What we know they are doing now is that they're discussing plans for their next round of hearings, so more hearings are coming.

They're working on a final report that they do intend to release to the public some time before the election. They also want to determine next steps for some of the outgoing -- outstanding subpoenas they have. They had subpoenaed even members of Congress that they hadn't gotten anything back from.

And then, finally and crucially, they do want to discuss today, when they meet, deciding whether or not they will formally invite Donald Trump and Mike Pence, his vice president, to testify before him -- before the committee.

Now, there is not really an expectation here. As our reporting -- my reporting colleagues on Capitol Hill have really learned, there's no expectation that Trump and Pence will sit for an interview. But they do want to create a historical record of some kind, at least potentially making that request.

CABRERA: Jen, how important do you think that formal request is?

RODGERS: Well, for Pence, I think it's important, because he has information that they legitimately need and should have. So they should make that request.

Trump, it's kind of just for show. Maybe they want to show that they gave an opportunity to say what he wanted to say. But he's sort of criminal investigation in so many ways, there's no way he would testify, nor should he testify. So that one, to me, is just a little bit for appearances' sake.

CABRERA: So there is a difference too by -- between making a formal request that they voluntary -- to voluntarily testify vs. subpoenaing testimony, right? Is there any reason not to subpoena Mike Pence, for example?

Because we know, in the past, others who are Trump allies or were considered to be close to the former administration and former president didn't come in voluntarily, but did agree to do it once they were given that subpoena in order to follow the law.

RODGERS: I think they should subpoena him.

But, as we know, having watched this happen over the course of the last few years now, a subpoena from Congress is not really enforceable. So they should subpoena Mike Pence. Maybe he would decide that that's worthy of compliance. But, if he didn't, there's not a lot they can do. They really don't have time to go to court and run it through all of its paces and appeals to try to get him to comply with that.

CABRERA: And so that's the other issue, of course, is the timing and the delays that those different moves might result in.

So, Katelyn, I also want to ask you about this new Senate investigation into an allegation that Trump DOJ officials tried to exert political pressure on a U.S. attorney. And it seems to be escalating rather quickly.

POLANTZ: It does.

And this really takes us back to another time and place where there were several other different political scandals and dust-ups around Donald Trump. The Southern District of New York U.S. attorney at the time, Geoffrey Berman, he is now on a book tour. He's speaking publicly. He's releasing a book.

And, yesterday on MSNBC, he was speaking about how he does have reason to believe that there was pressure being exerted on that office that he led, especially during the Mueller investigation and around that time. Here's what he said.


GEOFFREY BERMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I haven't focused on whether it's a crime or not, but I can tell you it violated all the norms and traditions of the Department of Justice, which is supposed to be independent from politics.

And Trump turned the department into his own personal law firm. He put in people who would do his bidding, and they would target Trump's political enemies and assist Trump's friends. And it was a disgrace.



POLANTZ: Now, Berman was fired in 2020 from the Trump administration.

And some of his specific complaints here are about the leadership of Attorney General Bill Barr, who he says at the time, the Justice Department and the leadership there were pressuring his office to purge the mention of Individual 1, which would be Donald Trump, in the guilty plea of Michael Cohen, also that there was some pressure to pursue a possible criminal probe into a former secretary of state, John Kerry, a Democrat, very prominent Democrat, and also that there was an interest in having an investigation of a lawyer, Greg Craig, who had served under the Obama administration, ultimately was charged not in the office that Berman ran, but in D.C., and then was acquitted by a jury.

And so Berman clearly had a lot of disagreements with the Justice Department. What he's saying now has gotten the Senate Judiciary Committee interested. And the chair there, Dick Durbin, is now asking the Justice Department for information about this period of time and these episodes.

CABRERA: Jen, you worked in the very same office as Berman. What's your reaction to this?

RODGERS: It's outrageous. I mean, I have to say it's so upsetting for someone who worked there to see that this pressure was coming on what SDNY was trying to do.

I mean, we knew about some of what Trump was doing and Barr was allowing the Mike Pence -- the Mike Flynn and the Roger Stone interventions, but we didn't know until Geoff Berman started speaking publicly about the pressure that was put on SDNY. And it just goes against everything that you're taught DOJ is supposed to be.

And so I'm so glad that the Senate is looking into this. I hope that they can find a way to try to put some requirements in place, maybe so that the inspector general is notified, for example, if this kind of pressure is coming from above. And we have to make sure that, while that's not an issue with this current administration, the next time someone who wants to use DOJ as their own campaign arm comes along, that we can try to find a way to learn about it earlier and potentially stop it.

CABRERA: Right, like during the actual action, as opposed to in retrospect.

Thank you, Jen. I appreciate your opinion and all your insights and expertise with your experience. Thank you, Katelyn Polantz, as well.

This was not what anyone wanted, inflation posting a surprise rise in August, sparking this massive decline in the markets, down 855 points right now, as investors fear the Fed is about to get even more aggressive with rate hikes. How this impacts all of us ahead.

Plus, the Russians fled so fast, they left behind tanks and other heavy artillery. New details on the Ukrainian counteroffensive that's putting new pressure on Vladimir Putin.

And it's the final primary day ahead of the midterm elections. What to watch for tonight.



CABRERA: It's an ugly day on Wall Street, the Dow down now more than 800 points.

This is after a new report showing inflation ticked back up in August, despite the gas prices being way down.

Our Rahel Solomon is joining us now.

Rahel, this inflation rise was really unexpected, right? What happened?


So you have two opposing things happening here, the gas prices, as you pointed out, really falling, and that's helping on the inflation front. But then everything else is increasing. So let's provide a sort of bird's eye view of what we saw in this report. So, headline inflation, sort of broadly inflation, that actually

increased modestly, one-tenth of a percent. But we were expecting prices to move the other direction. We expected prices to fall about the same. Core inflation, which strips out volatile categories like energy and food, that increased six-tenths of a percent on a monthly level. That's twice what we saw the month prior and twice what economists were expecting.

CABRERA: So, going up point 0.6 percent just since the month before?

SOLOMON: Exactly, exactly. And that's really problematic, an increase of about 6 percent compared to the year prior. So that's certainly not something the Fed wants to see.

Gas prices a huge part of this. Gas prices, just in a month, fell more than 10 percent. And that's really helping. Gas prices right now, on average, about $3.70 a gallon. That's pretty significant. But those relief -- and those price reliefs that you're getting at the pump, you're not getting anywhere else. I mean, these are all historic hikes, food at home, 13.5 percent, grocery prices, essentially 13.5.

If you're looking for rent right now, rent prices through the roof, 6.7 percent compared to a year ago, electricity, health insurance almost up 25 percent compared to a year ago. So what all of this means is that any relief people are getting at home, at the pump, they're not getting anywhere else.

CABRERA: The Fed doesn't like to see this either. They have been weighing whether to do more rate hikes. What does this -- how does this bode?

SOLOMON: Right. The Fed would like to see red arrows, right? It wants to see prices going down.

And we're really not seeing that in a meaningful way. So what this means is that we are likely going to see another massive rate hike next week when the Fed meets again, up three-quarters-of-a-percent. And that means, of course, that it trickles down into a higher borrowing costs for credit cards, for mortgage rates.

You do get more interest on your savings account. We should say, however, that's the point. The Fed is trying to slow down spending. It's trying to slow down consumer demand as it tries to fight inflation. But it doesn't feel good in that process, right? It doesn't feel good if you're in the mortgage -- if you're in the market for a mortgage or if you have a credit card balance right now.


Yes, people don't want to just be eating Top Ramen.

SOLOMON: Yes. Yes.

CABRERA: And, right now, it seems like that's where we're headed, with the food prices going up.

SOLOMON: Exactly.

CABRERA: Thank you so much, Rahel Solomon.

OK, to make matters worse, the Biden administration scrambling to prevent a freight rail strike from slamming into the economy. About 60,000 union members are set to walk out if there's no agreement by Friday. And if that happens, nearly one-third of the nation's freight could come to a standstill.


Amtrak is already suspending passenger service on some of its routes.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is joining us now from Union Station in Chicago.

Omar, how would a strike affect the supply chain and the broader economy?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, as you can imagine, probably the last thing the economy wants at this point, after years of dealing with supply chain shortages, here we go in a scenario that could really make a dent in it.

As you mentioned, 30 percent of the freight in the United States is transported by rail. But when you expand looking at this, we're looking at 60,000 union members set to go on strike if there's no agreement by Friday. The System carries 30 percent of the nation's freight.

Amtrak is also suspending service on longer routes due to a possible strike. And some of the things that have already happened nationwide, there's already been a pause in shipments of hazardous materials. And, of course, a prolonged strike could mean supply shortages at stores that you and I go to, but also potential factory closures as well, if there are parts that aren't able to make it to certain places as well, Ana.

So there's a lot of implications leading up to a strike that, again, could come as early as Friday.

CABRERA: What about the impact on passenger rail service?

JIMENEZ: Well, that's another side impact of this.

Obviously, here, we're at Union Station in Chicago. Amtrak announced that it would be having to stop routes from -- or at least cancel routes from Chicago to L.A., Chicago to San Francisco, and then out of -- and then Chicago to Seattle as well. They would be suspending those.

And some might ask, why is Amtrak doing that? Amtrak was clear they're not part of the union negotiations. But what's interesting is, Amtrak only owns and maintains about 700 miles of rail service. The other 97 percent, 22,000 miles of track, is owned and operated by freight rails. And so those are the lines and tracks that, of course, could be affected in this. And those impacts are now translating down to passengers as well. Amtrak has said they're continuing to evaluate, basically, on a daily basis to see what the impact is going to be and what sort of measures they're going to have to put in place to preempt any sort of potential strikes, but, again, Ana, a lot of implications.

CABRERA: The good old trickle-down effect.

Omar Jimenez, thank you.

Russian forces retreated so quickly in parts of Ukraine, they left huge amounts of ammunition behind. CNN's Sam Kiley was the first international correspondent to enter one city that has just been liberated. More on what he discovered when we come back.



CABRERA: Ukraine's President Zelenskyy says his forces have now retaken some 2,300 square miles of land from Russia. And that's just over the past week or so.

You can see it here in this time lapse just how quickly that territory went back into Ukrainian hands. That area around Kharkiv on the right of the screen goes from that Russian red to Ukrainian yellow in just a matter of days.

Now, Ukraine says Russian troops fled some places so fast, they left behind tanks and other artillery. Russia's setbacks are reverberating back home now as well. The list is growing. Nearly 50 local officials, mostly from Moscow and Saint Petersburg, are now publicly demanding Vladimir Putin's resignation. And the governor of the Russian region along the Ukrainian border -- again, this is inside Russia -- is now telling some civilians to evacuate as the fighting nearby intensifies.

CNN's Sam Kiley joins us in Kharkiv.

And, Sam, you were the first international correspondent in Izyum, one of the towns in our region, after it was recaptured by the Ukrainians. What did you find?


We drove for about an hour-and-a-half through recently captured territory, passing Russian -- former Russian trucks with the telltale Z marked out, recaptured or captured by the Ukrainians. Tanks, armored personnel carriers, even howitzers were put into -- back into the Ukrainian army, and being turned around to fight against the Russians, and, of course, huge amounts of ammunition on this journey.

And then, in Izyum itself, we found some absolutely extraordinary scenes of really how the command-and-control of this incredibly important logistical and command base fell apart at the last minute. This is a taste of what we saw. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KILEY: So, down here, we have seen the medical facility, call it something like that, inside this bunker. There's a barracks, and then, of course, the command center here.

As I walk along here, it's absolutely extraordinary. There are the different labels for the different roles of the senior Russian officers on these school desks that have been arranged in this bunker in an old what looks like a brick factory.


KILEY: Now, the fact that the command-and-control structures there fled is critical for the Ukrainians.