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King Charles III, Siblings, Stand Vigil At Queen's Coffin; Frustrations Over Russia Sanctions Working Slower Than Expected; Judge Appoints Special Master To Review Docs Seized At Mar-A-Lago; Migrants Flown To Martha's Vineyard Arrive At Cape Cod Base. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired September 16, 2022 - 15:00   ET


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: And the whole world will tune in. There are opportunities for the public to line the route of the procession, for example, but this is really your best chance if you're a member the public to try and see the coffin, to see the crown jewels. But as the government told us tonight, the queues are expected to be something like 24 hours. So the weekend is going to be really, really busy, I think.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Again, we're seeing King Charles III and the siblings, they're standing vigil at the Queen's coffin. This is at Westminster Hall. We saw other members of the Royal Family. I saw there the Queen Consort, Camilla, with other members of the family.

Max, as you're watching this video. Have you seen the Prince of Wales? Have you seen the Princess of Wales, Prince Harry or Duchess Meghan in that crowd as well?

FOSTER: Sorry, I caught the end of that with the banging. Just a word on Princess Anne, a lot of coverage about Princess Anne here in the U.K. and the way she's risen to this occasion. The vigil is now over. You can see the king leading the siblings away now, so that's the end of that.

There's Princess Anne in her full ceremonial uniform, so an extraordinary moment for those members of the public as they file through. Princess Anne accompanying the coffin throughout this whole process. We're hearing earlier how all the siblings were close to the Queen in their own way.

Princess Anne's connection was through horses and country pursuits, which is what they shared in Balmoral together and that's where Anne was with the Queen for the last 24 hours of her life. So the siblings now leaving Westminster Hall. They'll go away in private, try to decompress what they had there and members of the public will decompress what they just experienced as well, quite extraordinary moment in British history there. And it'll be repeated again tomorrow with the grandchildren of the Queen, including Prince William and Harry.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: What a moment. I mean, what a moment to watch history unfold here in front of all of these mourners and, of course, on national and international television. I mean, as we've established, no one does pomp and ceremony quite the way the U.S. does and we just watched it. It was both somber and public. It was just a really interesting moment. Max, Patricia, Hilary, thank you all for giving us such important context into that moment that we just watched. Thank you.

Okay. Very soon, President Biden will meet for the first time with the families of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. Those are the two Americans who have been detained in Russia. The State Department has called both of their detentions wrongful and false. Griner, a star in the WNBA has been imprisoned since February on drug charges.

Whelan, a businessman and former Marine has been in Russian jail cell there since December 2018. He's accused of espionage. A senior administration official says negotiations to bring the Americans back home have not - have seen movement, I shouldn't say, recently, but no signs of breakthroughs.

CAMEROTA: CNN White House Correspondent MJ Lee is here. So MJ why now is the President meeting with these families?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, keep in mind that the family members of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan have been asking to meet in person with President Biden and for a while now. You might recall that the President did speak with Cherelle Griner, the wife of Brittney Griner some time recently.

But the White House is emphasizing that these meetings today are really meant to emphasize to these family members that it is a top priority, both for this White House and for President Biden to get the two of them out of Russia. But unfortunately, the news that they're going to get today from the President is not going to be exactly what they want to hear and that is that there has been a breakthrough in some of the negotiations that have been going on to try to get them out.

In fact, administration officials have made clear that the offer that was made a number of months ago, remember, the offer was for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan to be exchanged as part of the prisoner swap with a convicted Russian arms dealer and have that be the way to get them out, that there's not been a real response, a serious response from the Russians to that offer.

Now, I did ask John Kirby in the White House briefing room just a few minutes ago why exactly there hasn't been a real response to that and he basically said, look, that's a better question to ask for the Russians and that the U.S. continues to see this offer as a very serious offer, and that the Russians should accept it. Unfortunately, again, that is not something that has happened yet for the families of Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.

BLACKWELL: MJ Lee for us at the White House, thank you.


Just days after Ukrainian forces recaptured much of the Kharkiv region, Ukrainian officials say the newly liberated area, they are now being heavily shelled by Russian artillery. It follows the disturbing discovery of a mass burial site in the eastern city of Izyum.

CAMEROTA: Ukrainian authorities say they have found 440 graves and that the bodies buried there were mostly civilians, including some children. Today, President Zelenskyy says some bodies show signs of torture.

BLACKWELL: CNN is learning that Senior U.S. officials are disappointed that the sanctions imposed on Vladimir Putin and his nation are not working like anticipated.

CAMEROTA: Soaring energy prices have helped Russia slow the pace of the pain from the economic sanctions. CNN's Katie Katie Bo Lillis has the details. Katie Bo, what have you learned?

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Victor, Alisyn, Russia's economy has shrunk by about 4 percent between April in June as compared to the same period last year. But that's nowhere near the 15 percent decline that many officials had expected earlier in the year. Some senior Biden administration officials and some Western intelligence officials had expected to see a far steeper decline in the Russian economy by this point. The hope was that Western sanctions would quickly choke off Russia's war machine and maybe even turn public opinion inside Russia against the war if daily life became uncomfortable enough.

But, of course, what's actually happened is that Russia's economy has been propped up by record setting energy revenues and some sources say that many U.S. and Western officials underestimated the degree to which Russia would initially benefit from rising oil costs and the willingness of countries like China and India to continue buying Russian oil. Officials now say they don't expect to see the harshest impacts hit Russian society until likely early next year.

Now, it's important to understand that there have been some immediate impacts, targeted sanctions and export controls have allowed the West to cut Russia off from the technological components that it needs to build weapons, things like semiconductors, microchips and aircraft parts.

And in the long run, the U.S. and Western officials still assess that Russia's economy will suffer enormously both from the cost of the war itself and Western sanctions. Oil revenues are expected to gradually decline and that leaves Russia with an otherwise gutted economy, Victor, Alisyn,

BLACKWELL: All right. Katie Bo, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Joining us now is John Kirby at the White House. He's the National Security Council coordinator for Strategic Communications. Admiral Kirby, thanks so much for being here. What about all of that? I mean, these economic sanctions were supposed to be crippling for Russia and, yet, in the first 100 days of the war, Russia earned a record 93 billion Euros in revenue by exporting oil, gas and coal. How big of a surprise has that been?

JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: He has definitely benefited from an oil market where the prices have consistently been pretty high over the last several months. That's why, quite frankly, President Biden led the effort at the G7 in Germany back in June, to put in place a price cap. And now our teams are hard at work at finding a way to best implement that so that while there can be some oil from Russia on the market to help supply, Mr. Putin can't profit from it the way to which - in which he has been doing for quite some time.

And I would add, and Katie Bo mentioned this, I mean, he has had to take some drastic measures at home to prop up his currency and to keep that economy going. Part of that is the high price of oil, which again, if this price cap gets in place, and the prices have already, as you know, started coming down, crude is down to around $90 a barrel, that will obviously put a curve on his ability to fund his economy.

And we have had an immediate - no, I shouldn't say immediate, that's probably too far - we certainly have had a very distinct effect on his ability to buy and to produce precision-guided munitions. That's why he continues to strike inside Ukraine with other kinds of weapons system. This is why he's going to North Korea to try to buy artillery shells and he's going to Iran to try to buy drones, because he's having a much hard time with his defense industrial base at home, thanks to the exports - export sanctions and sanction - sorry, the export controls and the sanctions.

CAMEROTA: I hear you. I mean, they haven't been without consequences, but they certainly haven't been as painful as had been hoped. And they haven't been painful enough to bring him to the negotiating table. So is there any talk in the administration of pivoting somehow of changing the economic sanctions somehow?

KIRBY: What there has been talk, Alisyn, of is making sure that we are constantly revisiting the sanctions regime to make sure that it is having the desired effect on Mr. Putin and his economy. And we have never taken off the table additional sanctions, and we haven't taken off the possibility of changing the sanctions regime to again impact him in a much more cost costly way.

And his economy is shrinking. It is smaller and we said way back at the beginning that sanctions can, depending on their nature, can take some time.


I mean it's not, they're not, it's not like firing a gun where you get an immediate effect. It does take a little bit of time.

But again, we have seen the impact of these sanctions on his economy and quite frankly, on his ability to wage war.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Except that - I mean, it was March 11, where President Biden said that the sanctions were crushing the Russian ruble. But it has rebounded. I mean, the ruble tumbled at first, but it has since rallied and in June, it hit its strongest level in seven years and so ...

KIRBY: It has rebounded, because he has taken so much drastic internal investment measures to try to prop it up. It's not going to be sustainable.

CAMEROTA: So when? I mean, when now do you expect there to be real economic pain for Vladimir Putin?

KIRBY: Again, we would argue that there already is economic pain. I mean, the fact that he has to go buy artillery shells from North Korea, I think, tells you that there is economic pain and we know that his economy is shrinking and it is suffering. But sometimes some sanctions take longer than others to take effect. We said that at the outset that when we put them in place, but it's not just the United States, it's the international community.

EU who have signed up to these very aggressive sanctions, they are having an impact on his ability. That's why he keeps cozying up to other countries like China, like Iran, like North Korea, to try to get support for what he's doing inside Ukraine.

We're going to stay at this Alisyn, nobody said it was going to be easy or that a sanction was going to have a specific effect on a specific day. We know this takes time and it's a regime of sanctions. It's not just one or two or three. It's a whole cumulative effect that we're trying to have on his economy and his ability to do this.

CAMEROTA: Vladimir Putin has just spoken out for the first time, these are his first public comments on the counter offensive that Ukraine has been waging and making a lot of progress. So here, I'll just read you what he said, "The Kyiv authorities abandoned all agreements. They were thrown into a drawer and announced that they would not seek any agreements with Russia, but would seek victory on the battlefield. The flag is in their hands. They are now just trying to do this by conducting this counter offensive. Let's see how this ends." Can you parse that for us?

KIRBY: I would ask Mr. Putin who started this war. I mean, the fact that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have gone on a counter offensive have had to go on a counter offensive is because Mr. Putin invaded them illegally in an unprovoked way on February 24 of this year. That's why we are where we are.

And the West, not just the West, I guess, nations around the world are doing what they can, including the United States. We just announced again another $600 million last night are doing everything we can to make sure that the Ukrainians can succeed on the battlefield so that when it comes to a time at the negotiating table, Mr. Zelenskyy can also succeed in negotiations.

Now both sides are - I have said publicly, they're not willing to sit down right now and we understand that. And that's why we're going to continue to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces for as long as it takes.

CAMEROTA: And Admiral, while I have you, President Biden, as we know, will meet with the families of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan today. The first time, I think, personally meeting with them, what's the next step here in getting them home? KIRBY: The next step is every step every day. I mean, we are working

very hard to bring Brittney and Paul home to their families where they belong. They should never have been detained in the first place. They're - ideally you wouldn't feel like you have to negotiate for the release, because they shouldn't be held at all. But that's where we are.

And so we have put a very serious offer forward to the Russians we urge them to take it, thus far they have not. That doesn't mean that we aren't still in discussions. It doesn't mean that there isn't still negotiation, there is. But we believe that the offer we've made is serious, it should be taken seriously by the Russians. They should accept it so that we can get these two Americans back home where they belong.

CAMEROTA: John Kirby, thank you for your time.

KIRBY: Yes, ma'am.

BLACKWELL: After weeks of back and forth between Trump's legal team and the Justice Department, a special master was just appointed to review those documents seized at Mar-A-Lago. What this means for the investigation next.

CAMEROTA: And migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard have moved to temporary housing in another part of Massachusetts and President Biden is slamming the Republican governors behind this stunt for he says playing politics with human beings.



BLACKWELL: A federal judge sided with President Trump and named a special master to review documents seized from Mar-A-Lago. Senior Judge Raymond Dearie will be that independent party and filter through the potentially privileged documents. The judge also rejected the Justice Department's bid to resume its criminal investigation into the classified documents taken until the Special Master has finished.

Joining us now, former Trump White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham and CNN Legal Analyst Norm Eisen. He's also former House Judiciary Special Counsel in Trump's first impeachment trial. Welcome back to both of you.

Mr. Ambassador, let me start with you. You say that this decision by Judge Cannon is so wrong on so many levels? What is wrong about allowing this independent party to look through the documents and sift through?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Victor, thanks for having me back. The core problem with the judge's order is that these documents are not the property of Donald Trump. And in particular, Victor, the over 100 classified documents, that Donald Trump's possession of those documents was so perilous, so risky for our nation that the federal government is now having to do a full blown national security damage review.


They don't belong to Donald Trump under the law. He's not entitled to have them back. It's clear under the statutes and the presidents of the United States. It's the overwhelming bipartisan consensus. The decision is just wrong and dangerous to the extent Trump could get these documents back.

BLACKWELL: I wrote - read, rather, something you wrote recently, an assessment of this decision and you think that there is a potential, that there could be a decision to allow some of these documents to get back to the former president, explain that?

EISEN: Well, the judge held under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g), that's the basis of her ruling. The judge held that a special master should be appointed. Victor, that is a rule about the return of property and even the notion that Trump's lawyers are going to have to get security clearances that they're going to see these documents that they can discuss them with him, no. That's not how it works with classified documents.

Frankly, I - this was one of my responsibilities in the Obama White House. That's not how it works with any of the executive privilege documents, but boy the classified that is just wrong and it's dangerous, and that's why I think it's so important for DOJ to appeal and give the 11th circuit a chance at least as to these 100 classified documents to get it right.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. Stephanie, we heard from the former president. He was on with Hugh Hewitt in which he said, if these investigations, any one of them, leads to indictment, there will be big problems in this country. Let's listen.


HUGH HEWITT, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES OFFICE OF PERSONNEL: I'm just asking if there is such a prosecutor and they indict you, would that deter you from running for president again?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think the people of the United States would stand for it. And as you know, if a thing like that happened, I would have no prohibition against running, you know that, you've already ...

HEWITT: I do. And that's what I wanted people to understand, that would not take you out of the arena.

TRUMP: It would not.

I think if it happened, I think you'd have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we've never seen before. I don't think the people of the United States would stand for it.

HEWITT: What kind of problems, Mr. President?

TRUMP: I think they'd have big problems, big problems. I just don't think they'd stand for it.


BLACKWELL: Big problems. Hugh followed up and asked, are you inciting - some people will say you're inciting violence. He says, it's just an opinion. What do you hear there?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I hear that it's January 6th all over again. The man leads by fear and violence. And, it's happening all over again, he knows exactly what he's doing. He knows that his base, many in his base will do whatever he says.

You heard with the January 6 Committee hearings that a lot of people felt his words were their orders. And so to me, that's him, just teeing people up and trying to let people know that there will be a bigger January 6. Now, I think we can't be held hostage by fear and I don't believe Merrick Garland or the DOJ will be held hostage by fear. But it's just a sad state of affairs and the man thinks he's a king.

BLACKWELL: Stephanie, we also played a bit of the interview in which he says that if he - there is an indictment, that will not keep him out of the arena, it will not prevent him from running for president in 2024. Listen, the search, equated to a surge of support for the former president, million dollars a day raising for the Super PAC for a couple of days, but that tapered off. Do you think your party is going to stick with him if charges come?

GRISHAM: I think we'll see the same thing happen again. I think there will be a very extreme, very loud section of the base that will make a lot of noise and I do believe the fundraising will happen again. But I do believe in my heart that there's plenty of people in the Republican Party, especially suburban women right now who when they go into the privacy of that voting booth will vote a different direction.

I don't think that our country is ready for a president that's running while indicted for a crime. And at that point, how many crimes will he be indicted for, we don't even know. So I believe wholeheartedly that the MAGA crowd was louder, but that I don't want to say normal Republicans, but that moderate Republicans will do the right thing.

BLACKWELL: All right. Stephanie Grisham, Norm Eisen, thank you.

CAMEROTA: So Alaska is preparing for their strongest storm in more than a decade. Hurricane force winds and flooding are expected to put thousands of people at risk. We have all of the details ahead.



CAMEROTA: The 50 migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard from Texas this week are now being housed at a U.S. military base. The Massachusetts governor provided voluntary bus transport to joint base Cape Cod where these families will be given shelter, food, legal and health assistance. BLACKWELL: Now, many of the people told reporters that before

boarding the plane, chartered by Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, they were told they were going to Boston or New York for job opportunities.


CNN's Miguel Marquez spoke to one band who said his plane originated in San Antonio Texas.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: "There were three options," he says.