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New York Attorney General's Lawsuit Adds to Trump's Legal Troubles; Biden: Russia Trying to Deny Ukraine's Right to Exist; Putin Threatens to Use Nuclear Weapons to Defend Russia; Markets React to Fed Interest Rate Hike. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 04:00   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Christina Macfarlane in for Max Foster here in London. Just ahead --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It's the art of the steel.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This war is about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state, plain and simple.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FOMC raised its policy interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point. And we anticipate that ongoing increases will be appropriate.


FOSTER: Hello and welcome. It's Thursday September 22nd. 9 a.m. here in London. 4 a.m. in Washington and New York. Where legal troubles are mounting for former U.S. President Donald Trump, as he faces a new lawsuit and unprecedented number of investigations.

A federal appeals court dealt with Trump the latest blow. It ruled the Justice Department can resume its criminal investigation and review of classified documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago home and resort during an FBI search. That coming hours after the New York Attorney General announced a sweeping civil lawsuit against Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization. They're accused of staggering fraud and deceiving lenders by inflating the value of assets. Trump reacted swiftly, say the disclaimer was included on loan applications.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It basically says to an institution, you're going to loan money, you have to go out and make sure that, you know, you get your own appraisers, your own lawyers, everything. These are banks that have the best lawyers in the world, Sean. This is the only -- by the way, that got paid back. Just so you know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody got payback. Nobody got harmed.

I never got a default note. I paid him back because we have a lot of cash.


FOSTER: Well, CNN's Jessica Schneider is tracking developments and has more now and details in Washington.


LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It's the art of the steal.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York's Attorney General Letitia James announcing she is suing former President Donald Trump and his three oldest children for lying to lenders and insurers for more than a decade fraudulently inflating the value of their properties all over the country.

JAMES: They violated several state criminal laws including falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud and engaging in a conspiracy to commit each of these state law violations.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): James is seeking drastic remedies. Her lawsuit demands Trump and his family forfeit the nearly quarter billion dollars they've illegally gained over the years and she's looking to shut down Trump's business dealings in New York.

JAMES: We are asking the court to, among other things, permanently bar Mr. Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump from serving as an officer or director in any corporation or similar entity registered and/or licensed in New York.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): New York's attorney general filed this 200- plus page lawsuit after a three-year-long investigation. James also flagging what she says are possible crimes to federal investigators.

JAMES: We are referring those criminal violations that we've uncovered to the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Internal Revenue Service.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): James pointed to Trump's Fifth Avenue apartment as an example of the fraud. Trump allegedly claimed it was 30,000 square feet when it was actually 11,000 and he valued it at $327 million.

JAMES: To this date, no apartment in New York City has ever sold for close to that amount.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): James says the motive was to entice banks to loan them more money and to allow Trump and his companies to pay less in taxes.

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Obviously there's tax fraud going on here given them massive inflation of these values.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Trump has rebuffed James' investigation over the last three years.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: My company is bigger, stronger, far greater assets.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): And he lashed out on his Truth Social page shortly after the lawsuit was filed saying: She is a fraud who campaigned on a get Trump platform.

But James, a Democrat, running for re-election this year saying Trump cannot dismiss what her office uncovered as some sort of good faith mistake.

JAMES: White collar financial crime is not a victimless crime. Everyday people cannot lie to a bank and if they did, the government would throw the book at them. Why should this be any different?

SCHNEIDER: The New York Attorney General is also alleging Trump and his three eldest children lied more than 200 times when it came to asset valuations on statements over the course of ten years. Now of course, this is a civil case that's been filed in New York state court. It would be up to other entities like the Manhattan DA's office or the U.S. attorney office in New York to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.

Jessica Schneider, CNN Washington.


MACFARLANE: And the wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will be questioned by the Congressional panel looking into the Capitol insurrection. That's according to an attorney for Ginni Thomas, who says she has agreed to an interview with the investigators. She's expected to meet them in the coming weeks.

Thomas, who is a conservative activists, has encouraged state lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin to fight President Biden's electoral win. And she texted with former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about overturning the election before January 6th. She said that her professional life is separate to her husband's.

Well, we are following a developing story out of Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, where the city council secretary reports new shelling in the past few hours. He says civilian infrastructure has been destroyed, and there are casualties. CNN cannot independently verify those claims. The shelling comes just days before a planned referendum in the region to vote on becoming part of Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's mobilization of 300,000 troops is unlikely to shift the tide of the war in Ukraine. That's the conclusion of a new analysis by the Institute for the Study of War. The group says it will take weeks or months to get new troops ready for combat, and that Russian reservists are poorly trained to begin with.

At the United Nations, U.S. President Joe Biden called Russia's invasion of Ukraine a shameless violation of the U.N. Charter, and blasted Vladimir Putin for making irresponsible nuclear threats.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This war is about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state, plain and simple. And Ukraine's right to exist as a people. Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should not -- that should make your blood run cold. A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.


Well, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his video address to the U.N. General Assembly to demand that Russia be stripped of its Security Council veto power and punished for its invasion of Ukraine.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Special treatment should be created to punish for the crime of aggression against our state. These will become signal to all would be aggressors that they must value peace or be brought to responsibility by the world.


MACFARLANE: Well, Vladimir Putin's plans for Ukraine to not stop with the newly announced draft. He's also threatening to use all means necessary, including nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports.



NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): His biggest statement since he began the war that he still won't call a war delayed 12 hours and perhaps less drastic than feared. But still a huge move by Vladimir Putin who until now used this sort of volunteer recruitment process, declaring the first forced mobilization in Russia even if it is partial since World War II.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I repeat, we are talking only about partial mobilization. In other words, only military reservists primarily those who served in the armed forces and have specific military occupational specialties and corresponding experience will be called up.

WALSH (voice-over): And behind it all the nuclear threat. Falsely claiming the West had threatened Russia and so Russia would use everything it had to defend its territorial integrity.

PUTIN (through translator): This is not a bluff. The citizens of Russia can be sure that the territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence and freedom will be ensured. I emphasize this again with all the means at our disposal and those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.


WALSH (voice-over): The mobilization is a huge undertaking analysts said when they've already failed to supply, equip and effectively deploy their regular army over the past six months. It will not be quick.

SERGEI SHOIGU, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): 300,000 reservists will becalled up. I want to say straightaway, this work will not be carried out as a one-off but in a systemic planned manner as I've already said.

WALSH (voice-over): Unease already palpable on Moscow streets. Even if protests was as usual, muted and suppressed.

You always feel worried in moments like this, he said, because you have a wife and kids and you think about that. I would not want to leave them in case something happens.

All of this loud rhetoric to the backdrop of a U.S. bid for sustained unity at the U.N. Gen. assembly where President Biden hit back

BIDEN: Putin claims he had to act because Russia was threatened. But no one threatened Russia. And no one other than Russia sought conflict.

WALSH: The big question, amid all the rhetoric and threats of escalation, is does this change matters on the ground? Still, Ukraine pushes forward despite slight Russian gains around Bakhmut. Russia still struggles to match its status as a nuclear power with real progress and strategy on the ground. Putin's bid to appear strong perhaps a reminder of how weak this war of choice has left him.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kramatorsk, Ukraine.


FOSTER: Well, CNN's Clare Sebastian is following developments out of Russia and joins me here live in the studio. Clare, Nick touch on that piece there, how Russians responded to that speech and announcement of partial mobilization was always going to be telling. Is it fair to say sparked a degree of panic?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think panic is the word actually. Look, it's not as widespread as you might think looking at those pictures. The protests have been very much concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which are of course the biggest cities, the ones where people are most likely to have access to sort of independent media through VPN and that kind of thing.

But the context of this is important. Because this is in a Russia where dissent has been heavily crackdown and we haven't seen scenes like this since the very start of the war. They criminalized even calling it a war.

They're now cracking down even further on, you know, the military service. They introduced new legislation, they're pushing it through at the moment that criminalizes even further desertion or refusing the draft in the context of mobilization.

And significant to note that, because we're hearing the report from OVD-Info, which is an independent monitoring group. It is tracking the number of arrests, which is currently about 1,300 people at these protests. And they're saying that at least at four police station in Moscow, people were headed essentially conscription papers when they were arrested at these protests. One person threatened with prosecution for refusing the draft. So, look, make no mistake, this is force mobilization that's going on.

MACFARLANE: And away from this, we're also hearing more reports for of shelling at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear site. Which of course is now one of the regions where Russia is planning a referendum.

SEBASTIAN: Right, so this is -- yes, shelling has been reported by the Zaporizhzhia citizen council secretary in the city of Zaporizhzhia, which is a little away from the actual nuclear plant. He said civil infrastructure has been destroyed. He said there is casualties. We haven't been able to verify this.

This is significant because Zaporizhzhia is one of the four regions where Russian-backed authorities are saying they're going to hold referenda on joining Russia, that's said to set tomorrow. So, Zaporizhzhia, the city itself, not actually currently held by Russia. They are attempting to annex a region that they don't actually have full control at the moment. It looks like potentially they're putting pressure on it ahead of that.

And meanwhile, you know, if you thought that any of this would prevent the rest of the world from continuing to support Ukraine, that does not seem to be the case. We're hearing, you know, multiple sort of notes of support coming out of the U.N. including from the EU, which says they would now consider new sanctions, an eight package of sanctions on Russia.

MACFARLANE: Very interesting, to see all the direction to this in the last 24 hours. Clare, thank you.

Well, more than 250 POWs are free again following a prisoners swap between Ukraine and Russia. The exchange included dozens of fighters from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. We later spoke remotely with President Zelenskyy. You can see, there. They fought a grueling battle while being hold up at the plant for weeks before surrendering and in May. In return 55 prisoners went from Ukraine to Russia. The swap also involved ten international prisoners of war, seen here arriving in Saudi Arabia which helped broker the exchange. They include two Americans, five British citizens, as well as a Moroccan, a Croatian, and Swedish national. They were captured while fighting for Ukraine. All right, coming up, another aggressive move by the U.S. Federal

Reserve to tame inflation's sends Wall Street tumbling. And a check of the global markets when we come back.


Plus, islands in the Caribbean are slowly recovering from hurricane Fiona but the storm hasn't stopped its destructive path yet -- Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Christina, you know, this storm system has plenty of offer when it comes to where it's headed. The impacts potentially in-store and we are still talking about a category four feature, so little in the way of kind of changing the past 24 hours. That's precisely where we expect the storm to be even 24 hours from right now. It's going to traverse over much warmer waters, and the impacts could be somewhat significant across areas of Bermuda here as it makes a close run at the island. And also, across parts of eastern Canada, and also a lot of activity that we'll bring down in a few minutes and the tropics as well.


MACFARLANE: A historic move by the U.S. Federal Reserve is worrying investors on Wall Street. On Wednesday the Fed announced a third straight interest rate hike of three quarters of a percentage point. The latest move to tame inflation sent U.S. markets tumbling once again, with the Dow dropping more than 500 points. And that rate hike will now make credit cards, mortgages, and car loans more expensive.


The Fed made it clear more rate hikes are on the horizon for as long as it takes to bring inflation down. CNN's Richard Quest is at the New York Stock Exchange with more on Wall Street's reaction.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The market has been well warned that a three quarter percent rate rise was on the cards. But when it arrived it still took everybody with a bit of a shock. After all this is the third time in a row that the Fed has raised rates by such a large amount. And you've to go back decades to find even one rate rise of three quarters of a percent. It's an indication of how worried Jerome Powell and the Fed are about inflation. And so, more rate rises are on the way. The Fed is clear, they will not have truck with inflation.

JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: My main message has not changed at all since Jackson Hole, the FOMC is strongly resolved to bring inflation down to 2 percent, and we will keep at it until the job is done.

QUEST: The market gave its judgment, down more than 500 points, deeply worried about what would come next. In other words, we know where rates are going, we just don't know how fast it will be.

Richard Quest, CNN, at New York Stock Exchange in New York.


MACFARLANE: Let's have a check now on how markets in Asia are reacting. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout joining us some Hong Kong. Kristie, what are you seeing?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, global markets have been feeling that downward pressure after yet another jumbo rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Here in Asia the trading days is over. Let me tell you it has been a sea of red. Let's bring up the data for you and you will see in Japan the benchmarking Nikkei is down about 0.6 of 1 percent, the Soul Kospi slipped 0.6 of one, percent. The Shanghai Composite fell about 0.27 percent. And here in Hong Kong the Hang Seng down about 1.61 percent.

Also, from Asia this day, we have been monitoring U.S. futures and if we show that data chart for you, you will see that it all signal a down open, a lower open when Wall Street opens momentarily. Let me take that, back check it, now it is bouncing back a bit, 0.25 of one percent S&P according to, futures. Nasdaq futures about 0.2 of 1 percent.

Meanwhile in Europe, we had seen earlier that markets there we're tracking Asia lower, if we could bring that data up for you, we could also see where that stands right now. And you could see the FTSE 100 is down about 0.35 percent, the Xetra Dax losing about 0.5 percent, and Paris CAC 40 down about 0.66 percent. And check it out, the Zurich SMI though relatively unchanged it's up 0.03 percent.

Look, it was on Wednesday when the Fed, as expected, raise interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point for the third consecutive time. It signal more tightening, more rate hikes to come, all in a bid to tame and to battle inflation which in the United States is at a high not seen in about four decades.

But here in Asia, investors have been looking very closely at another central bank, the Bank of Japan which earlier today ended a two day policy meeting and bucking the trend that we've been seeing all over the world of central banks hiking interest rates, they made the decision to maintain ultra-low interest rates there in Japan. And it's because of that policy gap, that policy difference between the Bank of Japan and the U.S. Federal Reserve, we're seeing that push the yen, the Japanese currency to a low not seen in some 27 years. Back to you, Christina.

MACFARLANE: A real mixed picture this morning, isn't, it Kristie, thank you very much there from Hong Kong.

Well, gasoline is still very expensive, but not nearly what it was 100 days ago when it topped $5 a gallon which is a record. Since then, the price at the pump has dropped every day for 98 straight days, but on Wednesday, that streak was broken when the average tipped up one penny and $3.68.

As the holiday shopping season draws closer, many stores are preparing to hire more workers as they usually do. Walmart the largest retailer in the U.S. announced it will bring in 40,000 additional employees, both permanent and temporary. But that's considerably less than last year when Walmart looked to fill 150,000 positions. Economists say inflation has dampened expectations for holiday shopping with many stores currently overstocked on big ticket items like televisions and furniture.

Now we're continuing to follow hurricane Fiona, currently churning through the open Atlantic. The storm is moving north as a category four storm after ripping through the Caribbean earlier this week. It's poised to brush past Bermuda late Thursday into Friday, with parts of even the Atlantic Canada at risk. Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is joining me now, and Pedram, what more can we expect here?

JAVAHERI: Yes, Christina, you know, this isn't such a large system that we measured yesterday at about 600 miles in its cloud field from its northern end to its southern end. So essentially, you have what is equivalent to roughly the state of Alaska out here across portions of the Atlantic Ocean. And it is a category four, still maintaining that intensity.


And the concern with the storm system is that it's not going to weaken anytime soon. It's going to progress farther towards the north, and anytime you've got a storm of this magnitude over open waters for so many days, you bet you're going to generate significant wave heights. And some of these models do suggest wave heights could get to the top of the charts here up to 60 plus feet over open waters.

It's a very close run to Bermuda, it really kind of speaks to the intensity of this storm system. But we do think the center of the storm will miss the island by at least 100, plus maybe 1:50 miles on early Friday morning, and then what is left of it makes another landfall across portions of Nova Scotia, certainly just east of Halifax. It is one area were watching carefully as well.

But notice, sea surface temperatures, these are in degrees Celsius, about 30 or so degrees Celsius, so sitting around 86 Fahrenheit. Incredibly warmth in place here to support a system in tropical nature. And It'll skirt right past Bermuda again early Friday morning, finally losing tropical characteristics we think sometime Friday night to Saturday morning. But the wind speeds still with this storm system will be around 100 miles per hour as it approaches areas of eastern Canada. This will be among one of the stronger storms we've seen in recent memory to impact this region of Canada. And you'll notice again, wind gusts across portions of Canada could be up to 118 plus miles per hour as the system roars ashore early Saturday morning.

Heavy rainfall, gusty, winds significant storm surge, that's all going to be an issue across this region. And again, go back to the year 2000, you see just a handful of such storms that have arrived across the shores of this region of Canada with such winds.

Now, you look over the open waters, plenty of activity, but to be frank, a lot of these on the eastern periphery look to remain over open waters. It is this system down here across the south that we are watching carefully, because the models do kind of make it an interesting scenario here depending on how accurate the models play out to be. But it looks like the system has what it takes to possibly end up near the Gulf of Mexico within about a weeks' time. So, we'll follow us as it progresses.

MACFARLANE: Yes, Pedram Javaheri, following it very closely force. Pedram, thank you very much.

I have nothing, the cries from a woman in the Dominican Republic who lost everything to hurricane Fiona. As the clouds are now clearing, people across the Caribbean are finally getting a good look at the destruction left in the path of the storm. Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic both took a beating from Fiona.

But Puerto Rico was hit while still recovering from 2017's hurricane Maria. Here you can see a bridge in Puerto Rico captured before the storm and this is after the deadly hurricane swept through. Floodwaters crashing over the bridge and into nearby fields. At least three bridges across that river were washed out. U.S. disaster -- approved a major disaster declaration for the territory on Wednesday excuse me, officials report nearly two thirds of people have running water again while less than one third have electricity. Residents say the recovery process should be smoother.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This wasn't Maria, it was supposed to be a more fluid process. There's no system, no electricity, no water in Puerto Rico. That is the problem we have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am so used to it. It doesn't affect me. There have been moments when I weep, but now no, nothing, gets flooding and I just keep going.


MACFARLANE: Well, if you want to help those affected by hurricane Fiona, go to You will find a list of verified organizations ready to help you make a difference.

OK, up next, a lawsuit filed in New York is now adding to the growing list of legal troubles for former U.S. President Donald Trump. We'll have the details.

Plus, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flew undocumented migrants to Massachusetts. But now the move is threatening to land him in legal trouble.