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NY AG Accuses Trump Of "Staggering" Business Fraud In Lawsuit; Casualties Reported In Russia Shelling Of Zaporizhzhia; 2 Americans Captured In Ukraine Freed After Months Of Captivity. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 15:00   ET


TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST AND WEATHER ANCHOR: This could be their Superstorm Sandy. Superstorm Sandy, 24 states affected, $79 billion in damage. We could see hundreds of thousands lose power. We could see a high surge moving into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We're talking 400 miles of wide stretch of tropical storm force winds.

We're talking a generational storm for Canada. In fact, with the heavy rain, the crashing seas, the power outages for hundreds of thousands, this is going to go down in the record books. We're still watching, of course, the storm system off the coast of South America. That'll be the next one we'll be talking about, but not until next week, Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: We're in that peak season period.


BLACKWELL: Tom Sater, thank you.

Top of the hour on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Victor Blackwell.

A federal Appeals Court ruled against Donald Trump siding with the Justice Department on multiple issues. This is the case of the classified government documents found at Trump's Florida home. The three judges, two of whom are appointed by Trump, rule the Justice Department can resume its review of classified documents taken from Mar-A-Lago.

The judges also called out the claims that the former president may have declassified documents that were seized, pointing out there's no proof. This Appeals Court decision is one of two major legal blows for the former president in a single day. The New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Trump, its family and firm alleging wide ranging fraud involving some of his properties and other assets.

CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez joins us now. Evan, you have some new details, the special master, the independent overseer of the evidence is putting some pressure on the Trump team, explain.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, Victor, just in the past hour, we have a - an order here from Raymond Dearie who is the senior judge that is serving as the independent third party that is going to look through these 11,000 pages of documents. This is - again, remember, this is something that Donald Trump himself and his lawyers had asked for and now he is saying in an order that by September 30th, Donald Trump and his lawyers have to put up or shut up about the claims that he has been making that the FBI may have planted evidence during the search on Sept - on August 8th.

It says here, no later than September 30th, the plaintiff shall submit a declaration or affidavit that includes each of the following factual matters, a list of any specific items forth - in the detailed property inventory that the plaintiff asserts were not seized from the premises. In other words, if you really believe the FBI planted evidence, it's something that he brought up last night in his interview with Sean Hannity, this is the time for the former president to make that claim.

But the Appeals Court really did attack one other thing that the former president has been saying, which is that these documents were his documents and are really just a part of what it says here, that the injunction, this was an injunction from the lower court judge, were delaying for perhaps preventing the United States criminal investigation from using classified documents, risks imposing real and significant harm on the United States and the public.

Of course, that means that the Justice Department has a right to investigate these documents, Victor. As you know the former President was on Sean Hannity and he was pushing back on this idea that any of these things were actually - were still classified. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're the President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified even by thinking about it, because you're sending it to Mar-A-Lago or to wherever you're sending it and it doesn't have to be a process. It can be a process, but it doesn't have to be. You're the president. You make that decision. So when you send it, it's declassified. We - I declassified everything.


PEREZ: Victor, and of course the Appeals Court is saying that there was no proof. He actually did this. So we'll have to see whether the former president actually has his lawyers go to court and make this claim once and for all and swear to it and then we'll see whether that is something that flies in this investigation on - going forward. Victor?

BLACKWELL: Evan Perez for us. Evan, thank you very much.

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. And some top Republicans are not buying that. I thought about it, so I've declassified it. Defense from the former president.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And this is different than what we have seen in the aftermath of the search at Mar-A-Lago when a number of Republican senators defended Donald Trump and even attacked Merrick Garland, the Attorney General suggesting that he should be hauled up to Congress to answer questions. Well, in the aftermath of Donald Trump saying that he could simply think about declassified documents and they would be declassified and that there is no process to declassifying these records, I put that question to some top Republican senators and they push back.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): There's a process for declassified documents and I think it ought to be adhered to and followed.


And I think that should apply to anybody who has access to or deals with classified information.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): As I understand the executive branch requirements, there is a process that one must go through.

SEN. MICHAEL ROUNDS (R-SD): I think anyone who takes the time to appropriately protect that information and who has taken the time to see what's in the information would have serious concerns about how items could be accessed if they're not stored properly.


RAJU: So breaking from the Trump team and allies claims that everything was handled appropriately. We've heard either Republicans on the Hill defend Donald Trump or sidestepped questions about it like Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader, refusing to really lay into - lay out his views about what happened here.

But nevertheless, you're hearing Republicans and Democrats also question about what exactly was retrieved at Mar-A-Lago during the search last month. There are growing calls on both sides of the aisle to get a briefing. A classified briefing among the top Intelligence Committee members and the leaders of Congress to hear exactly what was found, learn about any security risks that may have occurred by the - those documents that were at Mar-A-Lago. And the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner told me that he expects a briefing to happen as soon as next week, Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right. Manu Raju for us on Capitol Hill, thank you. Let's bring in now CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen and CNN Political Commentator S.E. Cupp.

S.E. let's start here. We didn't hear this much rejection from Republicans in the Senate when the documents were discovered.


BLACKWELL: When the Post reported that there was about nuclear capabilities of another country, when we knew the number of documents, but this is the line.

CUPP: Well, who could defend this? And I think you have to remember people like John Thune, I've known John Thune a long time, Thom Tillis, Mike Rounds, these are old school Republicans. They know and understand why the classification and declassification of documents is so important. Someone like Trump obviously doesn't know and care. Some of the Marjorie Taylor Greenes or Lauren Boeberts probably don't know or care. And it's true that maybe some of his voters, Trump voters don't know or care.

But these guys, these old school Republicans who've been here a long time, they know exactly why it's important and I think they're personally offended by it, which is why they're talking on the record about it.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And Norm, I want to get to this filing from the Special Master Raymond Dearie in just a moment, because it seems like some of the President's comments outside of the formal proceedings are now getting into what he's asking for from Trump's attorneys. But does this claim of you can even declassify by thinking about it complicates the job that his attorneys have to do.


BLACKWELL: Where do you start, Norm?

EISEN: ... any - having been an attorney for more than three decades, whenever you have a - an unhinged client, your life is made worse. And Donald Trump did make their - his lawyers' lives more complicated, because on the one hand, they told Judge Derry, well, we can't get into our arguments about classified documents with you judge because we don't want to give away our defense if we're - if Mr. Trump is prosecuted. And then Donald Trump goes on Sean Hannity and he makes that defense, including that merely thinking about classification - declassification is enough.

As you know, I worked on the new classification structure when I was in the White House.


EISEN: The executive order that's still in force. I can assure you, there is no clause in that executive order that says a president merely thinking that a document is declassified makes it so and I think that's what has pushed these Republicans, finally, it's the absurdity ...

CUPP: It's so crazy.

EISEN:'s so crazy they have to defend the line, but his lawyers' job is very tough.

CUPP: Hold on, I just declassified something.

BLACKWELL: I knew you're going to do that. I knew when you came up to the set today, I knew that was going to happen.

Mr. Ambassador, let me ask you about this filing, because essentially, what he's saying here is former President Trump said some things have been planted, you've got a couple of days to prove it. Now, I don't know if the attorneys have actually made that case in court. But as often is the case, what the former president says outside of the courtroom is now irrelevant insight.

EISEN: Yes. The attorneys haven't made that case in court, Victor, because unlike going on Truth Social or Sean Hannity, if a lawyer says something that is false in a courtroom, they are subject to serious punishment and can lose their ability to practice law. I mean, there's a reason that they haven't made those arguments. This - we have the order, it's hot off the presses. There's a reason that Judge Dearie is calling their bluff.


These documents were never declassified. There's no proof of it. It didn't happen and that's why Donald Trump is facing probably the most serious criminal jeopardy of his life, because you can't take classified documents outside of the White House. I mean, I dealt with them every day when I was an ambassador. It's not only that they may have contained nuclear information, they are like nuclear weapons. I look at those documents and I see the people that I worked with who create that information and provide it to keep us all safe. Every page that was removed in dangers their lives. So I see danger, great risk and that's why Donald Trump is in so much criminal jeopardy.

BLACKWELL: S.E., let's move now to the New York AG and her suit now - suing for $250 million and then a long list of consequences for the Trumps, for the organization, for employees. This was a portion of the defense from the former president.

Okay, I will tell you what he said. What he said was that there's a disclaimer that we put on the front of it that the managers created there that you have to check the numbers ...

CUPP: That they might not be right.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Don't trust my $750 million valuation.

CUPP: Right.

BLACKWELL: Do your own job.

CUPP: Yes.

BLACKWELL: It seems like we've seen a version of this ...

CUPP: Yes.

BLACKWELL: ...defense for a long time now.

CUPP: Well, and I think Michael Cohen, his former body man refuted that here on our air maybe last night, said that that just wasn't true. I think this investigation, though it's civil, really gets to the heart of who Trump is, right? He was never a politician. He was never expert in foreign policy or diplomacy or politics, but business he knows where he's supposed to. He knows tax laws. He knows real estate laws. He knows this stuff. And I think Tish - AG Tish James was basically laying out this is the stuff he knows and he knows he was conning, and scamming, and grifting. So this really cuts to the heart of what Trump is and the empire he built, she allege - she alleges, fraudulently.

BLACKWELL: But do you believe that this will have any real impact for - on those people who still support Trump?


BLACKWELL: I mean, the report that we saw from the Washington Post.




BLACKWELL: No need to continue to question.

CUPP: No. I mean, you can.

BLACKWELL: Yes. No, go ahead.

CUPP: But no, his face is so condensed and concentrated, I've likened it to those cans of frozen orange juice concentrate we had growing up. You're supposed to add water and stir and no one's adding water to this party. The base is condensing and condensing. And so that fan base is very, very loyal.

But if you look at other polls, most Americans think, for example, the FBI search at Mar-A-Lago was totally appropriate. Most Americans think he's probably going to face some legal jeopardy in one of these several suits. So, no, his base is firm baked, but we'll see if there's enough of them anymore to elect him again.

BLACKWELL: S.E. Cupp, Ambassador Eisen, thank you.

CUPP: Thanks.

BLACKWELL: Tearful goodbyes in Russia as soldiers leave their families for the battleground. The impact of Putin's mobilization of 300,000 troops, that's ahead.

And then-American POW is now free after a prisoner swap was brokered between Russia and Ukraine. I'll speak to the aunt of freed American next.



BLACKWELL: Officials in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine say Russia unleashed devastating shelling in the region early this morning. A city council secretary says civilian infrastructure was destroyed. There are casualties. CNN cannot independently verify those claims. But this comes immediately after President Putin announced he would draft 300,000 Russian citizens to join his war.

New video just in to CNN shows this mobilization is already happening. Look at this, this is one of the tearful scenes of mothers saying goodbye to their sons and husbands who have been called up to go to Ukraine.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Ben, what are you hearing from people there about what President Putin has announced?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the Ukrainians don't have a very high opinion of the Russian military, they've experienced it firsthand and you oftentimes hear people say that the Russians simply aren't very well prepared for this war.

And what they say is that if you look at what's going on in Russia, this seems like a real rush job this call up of 300,000 reservists. We're seeing reports, for instance, that in some parts of Russia, that people are being rousted from their beds put in cars and driven straight to the enlistment offices and put on buses that, there's going to be a lot of, perhaps, unwilling and unhappy recruits being sent to the frontier.

And what we've seen, certainly in this area, the Kharkiv region where the Russians really just ran away in terror as the Ukrainians were moving forward is that these 300,000 reservists who are going to be deployed in Ukraine are probably going to go through a rushed the process of training.


It's unclear whether they're going to be provided with adequate equipment and what we've seen from the beginning of this war is that the logistics of the Russian military fall far short of one would expect from the so called second strongest army on earth. So the Ukrainians aren't exactly quaking in their boots and they're also well aware that it may take a good deal of time for these new recruits to show up on the front lines, Victor?

BLACKWELL: Wow. It's remarkable to hear these stories as you describe them of people being snatched from their bed at the - in the middle of the night and taken to the enlistment centers. Ben Wedeman for us in Kharkiv, thank you.

Two Americans are among the more than 200 prisoners released in an exchange between Ukraine and Russia yesterday. U.S. Military veterans Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh. They were fighting in Ukraine with the forces there when they were captured back in June. Their families say that they had no clue a prisoner swap was in the works.


BUNNY DRUEKE, MOTHER OF U.S. FIGHTER FREED IN UKRAINE: He said, "I'm free." And I said, "What?" And he said, "I'm free." And I said, "Free?" And he said, "Yes, I'm free." And my mind just couldn't comprehend it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Joining us now is Alex's aunt, Dianna Shaw. Listen, it's good to see you - I see the smile on your face. I'm sure you've had that smile since you got the news that Alex was free. Have you been able to ...


BLACKWELL: ... well, that's a good thing. It's a good thing. Have you been able to speak with Alex?

SHAW: Yes. I actually just hung up the phone speaking with Alex. We've had - he talked to my sister twice yesterday and twice again today. And I was able to speak to him on that second call and it was a long one. It was about 50 minutes.

BLACKWELL: So what did you talk about? I mean, whatever you're willing to share.

SHAW: Oh, my gosh. Well, he was hungry for information. He wanted to know how is the counter offensive going. He had heard scraps and pieces and so I was able to fill him in and he was really excited to hear about the gains that the Ukrainian army is making.

BLACKWELL: How is he doing physically?

SHAW: Physically, he's all right, dehydrated. That is what they are treating him for is dehydration. He was in the hospital. He and Andy both were in the hospital overnight, just for observation and hydration. And he and Andy have - then were moved to an apartment where they were stocked with food and anything they needed and the doctor has continued to come by and monitor their vitals and make sure that they're hydrating.

BLACKWELL: Did he tell you anything about the captivity? What happened in the last several months?

SHAW: We spoke about it a little bit. We made a date to - for him to really share that information with me, but he did say, I asked him I said specifically in the last 72 hours what was that like and he said it was very confusing. And he's very interested in learning himself how all of this came about.

They were told to be prepared to move and they were - of course, they're always blindfolded when they're moved and so they didn't know where they were going. And Alex told me - I asked him, I said, "Did you know you were being released?" And he said, "Well, I figured we were either being freed or we were being executed. I didn't know which one it was going to be."

BLACKWELL: Wow. Do you know when he will be coming back to the U.S.?

SHAW: We're finalizing those arrangements right now. In fact, as soon as we finish here, I'm going to be calling the travel agents and just double checking a couple of things, but we do believe it'll be this weekend.

BLACKWELL: All right. So I'm not going to hold you too much longer. But let me ask you this, these last couple of months, he was captured in June, you now have the news he's coming home, how have these last several months been?

SHAW: Well, we've had our ups and downs as a family. It's been kind of tough, but we were very well supported by the State Department, by the ambassador from Ukraine. Ambassador Markarova was just phenomenal and those connections that we were able to make with the Ukrainians who live here in Alabama, they just embraced us and welcomed us into their community.

Andy's family, our family, we're all one big family now. And we could feel everyone's positive wishes and their prayers. It just really was uplifting to us. It's been a great effort of coordination, of countries, of parties, of people. My sister likes to joke we have bipartisan support, but it's true. It was amazing how people really came together to support us.

BLACKWELL: Well, I'm not going to hold you any longer from that call to the travel agent. I'll let you get back to smiling and I am happy that your nephew is coming home.


Dianna Shaw, thank you so much.

SHAW: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. The Fed is walking the tightrope now trying to bring down inflation without tipping the economy over the edge. One economic barometer out today is sparking some fear that we're already possibly heading toward that recession. We'll explain next.