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New York Attorney General's Lawsuit Adds to Trump's Legal Troubles; Florida Governor Faces Legal Action Over Migrant Flight; Border Cities Struggle with Massive Influx of Migrants; Iranian Regime Facing Biggest Protests in Years. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 04:30   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Christina Macfarlane. If you're just joining, us let me bring you up to date with our top stories this hour.

President Zelenskyy is demanding punishment for Russian crimes against Ukraine in remarks to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. This is as Vladimir Putin is escalating the war, making nuclear threats and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of reservists after defeats on the battlefield.

Plus, the New York Attorney General wants to bar Donald Trump and three of his adult children from running a business in the state. Letitia James announced a 222 page civil lawsuit Wednesday, claiming Trump and his children and the Trump Organization perpetrated staggering widespread fraud. The lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General is just the latest legal troubles facing Donald. Trump CNN's Brian Todd has the details from Washington.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Mar-a-Lago to the January 6th probe, to the election grand jury in Georgia, to the Trump Organization cases in New York, a multitude of potentially explosive investigations are targeting Donald Trump from many directions.

ELLIOTT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's pretty remarkable that you have multiple different states, the federal government, and Congress all investigating the same person at once. But that person is the former president of the United States.

TODD (voice-over): In the Mar-a-Lago investigation into whether Trump mishandled classified documents, this week a court appointed special master was skeptical of Trump's claims that the files the FBI found on his estate might have been declassified.

But beyond Mar-a-Lago, a Georgia prosecutor is looking into allegations that Trump and his allies tried to overturn Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Georgia, by allegedly trying to set up fake electors and pressuring the Secretary of State to conjure up more votes for Trump. Analysts say the accusations against Trump in Georgia could make that the most likely case where he would face prosecution.

TIA MITCHELL, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION : Even if he did not have a direct hand in some of the efforts that he was part of the planning, that he directed these efforts. And so, that's why in a lot of ways, it is the most serious, because when it comes the election, it's the one with the most teeth.

TODD (voice-over): In New York, not only has the State Attorney General just accuse Trump's company of manipulating the value of its properties, but the New York City DA's criminal tax case against the Trump Organization begins trial next month, after already scoring one guilty plea.

And Trump accuser E. Jean Carroll has just told a court that she intends to file another suit accusing Trump of battery in the 1990s, an accusation Trump has repeatedly denied.


Then there's the House January 6th investigation into whether Trump incited the mob to attack the Capitol, which just announced another public hearing in the coming days to air more of their evidence against Trump. But could any these probes triple crump politically?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": He has told the story to his base that goes like this. Everybody hates me, everybody hates me and my family. They're jealous of us. They don't understand us, and they are just plain evil. So, don't pay attention to any of those prosecuting authorities. Only pay attention to the story that I've told you. And I think there are 70 to 75 million people who believe the story and are going to cling to it, and they won't care that he's in trouble with the law.

TODD: Donald Trump has rejected each of these investigation, characterizing them as facets of a witch hunt designed to take him down. He has called the Mar-a-Lago investigation the weaponization of the justice system. Called the January 6th committee a kangaroo court. And he has slam the investigators in the New York and Georgia probes as being politically motivated.

Brian Todd, CNN, who Washington.


MACFARLANE: Now right wing conspiracy theorists Alex Jones is lashing out yet again over the lawsuits he's facing over victims' families, for the claiming the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax. Jones has been spending time outside the courthouse in Connecticut well testimony continues inside. He says he's not attending the trial partly because he has to do his radio. He's also slammed the judge because he claims she's forcing him to say he's guilty and a liar.

Meantime heart wrenching testimony continues from victims' families as they describe the harassment, they've endured due to Jones's false claims. Well, legal actions are piling up against Florida governor Ron

DeSantis over his decision to fly undocumented migrants to Massachusetts. A Democratic state lawmaker is expected to sue DeSantis over the move saying it broke state law. That's on behalf of a separate class action lawsuit on behalf of some of the migrants who were sent to Martha's Vineyard last week. That suit accuses DeSantis and others of defrauding them for political gain. The commissioner of the U.S. Commissions and Border Protection slam the police.


CHRIS MAGNUS, COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: I think lying to vulnerable people for whatever the purpose might be, can just never be the right thing.


MACFARLANE: And as legal battles brew over migrants, their growing numbers is putting some border cities in crisis mode. Rosa Flores reports.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the struggles --

FLORES: He hasn't taken off the rosary on the entire journey.

FLORES (voice-over): -- of migrants who recently arrived in El Paso. Franklin Delgado is from Venezuela. He and his four children settled in for a night at the airport to fly to Atlanta to begin a new life.

FLORES: He says that his wife is partially paralyzed. That's why she didn't make the journey.

FLORES (voice-over): Hensel Castro is fleeing Nicaragua. Her 4-year- old daughter has wiped away her tears more than she can remember.

And Carlos Guzman from Venezuela waits at the bus station holding a parting gift from his 2-year-old daughter.

They're part of the unprecedented surge in migration that El Paso's deputy city manager Mario D'Agostino says is testing the infrastructure here.

FLORES: Where are we?

MARIO D'AGOSTINO, EL PASO CITY DEPUTY MANAGER: So, this is the city of El Paso's welcoming center.

FLORES (voice-over): He says a month ago, Border Patrol was releasing up to 250 migrants daily into El Paso after being processed. Now about a thousand, and it's creating a shelter issue.

D'AGOSTINO: All the NGOs, all our shelters are already at capacity. So, we're actually putting them up in hotels. FLORES (voice-over): And a transportation bottleneck.

D'AGOSTINO: We have a Greyhound station, we have the airport. It doesn't have that many flights in and out a day.

FLORES (voice-over): Border Patrol has been apprehending on average about 1,500 migrants a day in the El Paso region, a spike from last month's 900.

FLORES: What you see behind me is Mexico. This is one of the routes that migrants use to cross into the United States. Once U.S. Customs and Border Protection realize that the spike in migration here in El Paso was not a one-day anomaly, they set up a mobile processing center here under the bridge. These buses are equipped with mobile processing technology.

FLORES (voice-over): This is where federal agents determine if migrants stay or go back. A process that CBP commissioner Chris Magnus says is more complicated now with the recent increase in migrants from three countries.

CHRIS MAGNUS, U.S. CBP COMMISSIONER: The Cubans, the Nicaraguans, the Venezuelans are not subject to Title 42. So, they cannot be removed like migrants from some other countries.

FLORES (voice-over): The migrants we talked to say they survived the dangerous journey to the U.S.

FLORES: Do you know you're not guilty? She says that she witnessed a rape during the journey.

FLORES (voice-over): And don't want to stay in El Paso.

FLORES: Where are you going?


FLORES (voice-over): Delgado is going to Atlanta, too. But while in El Paso, they need orientation and access to resources. That's why the city opened this migrant welcome center three weeks ago, where multiple buses chartered and paid for by the city of El Paso depart daily to Chicago and New York. That's where we met Castro. Like so many migrants, she's hoping to reunite with family and has no money.

Inside the airport at midnight, an odd sense of normalcy the Delgado children haven't seen in a month, access to crayons and toys.

FLORES: How difficult is it for you to know that your children don't have their mother?

He says it's really tough to grow up without a mother. His mother died when he was 9.

FLORES (voice-over): Despite the struggles for these three families just being on U.S. soil is a dream come true. FLORES: The question is, will these migrants be allowed to stay in the United States? And the answer to that question is, it depends. They all have to go through immigration proceedings and asylum or other types of relief are not guaranteed.

Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso, Texas.


MACFARLANE: Important reporting there from Rosa Flores.

Now, the man who orchestrated the largest corruption scandal in U.S. Naval history is now in police custody in Venezuela. The infamous former defense contractor known as Fat Leonard was arrested Tuesday morning at the airport in Caracas. In 2015, Leonard pled guilty to bribery and fraud charges and was sentenced this month. But the U.S. marshals say he cut off his ankle monitor and escaped house arrest in San Diego three weeks before his sentencing. Venezuelan officials say the U.S. government has started proceedings with Venezuela, hoping to extradite him back to the United States.

Now, the death of a young Iranian woman arrested for not conform to strict Islamic dress has sparked the biggest antigovernment demonstration there in years. That story is just ahead.



MACFARLANE: Last week's death of a young Iranian woman's while in police custody has sparked some of the biggest antigovernment protest that the government has seen in years. Public anger has been building for days with protesters demanding more rights for women in strictly Islamic nation. The government has responded with harsh crackdowns including riot police, tear gas, and blocking internet access in many places. At least eight protesters have been reported killed in the unrest.

Public outrage has spread to neighboring Turkey where thousands demonstrated outside the Iranian consulate on Wednesday. Women have been publicly cutting off their hair to protest Iran's strict dress code for women and it's brutal enforcement by the regime's infamous morality police.

Let's bring in our CNN's Salma Abdelaziz who's covering for us. And Salma, we have been seeing remarkable images of bravery from these women as we said there, burning the hijabs, cutting their hair, and now the outrage sparked by the death of Amini is spreading to multiple cities. What are we seeing?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Huge acts of defiance as you mention, women cutting off their hair, burning their head scarf, shouting death to the dictator. There was one video that we cannot independently verify, but of an elderly women just simply walking through the streets without her head scarf on chanting against the government in a country that is of course extremely strict. And that has been met with a brutal crackdown.

We've seen water tanks being used on people, rights groups say that at least eight people have died so far including a teenager, several others wounded, people losing their eyes because pellets are being fired at these protesters according to rights groups.

But I think if you look at the scope and scale of these demonstrations and the response from the authorities, you begin to understand why this is a threat to the authorities. It's not just about Mahsa Amini, of course this is about women's rights, of course this is about the repression in Iran.

But this is also a time of an economic downturn in the country. People are financially struggling. And rather than the government focusing on that, what they've done is they've expanded the morality police. They've crackdown on the hijab.

You also have to remember, there is an ethnic element to this. Amini's family is Kurdish. So, we've seen a lot of these demonstrations taking place in the Kurdish areas. Her family has been extremely outspoken. Her father just yesterday giving an interview to the BBC, essentially blaming the authorities for the death of his daughter. Saying that he was not allowed to see her in custody, accusing the authorities of causing bruising on her body. He saw bruises on her feet before she was buried.

So, there is a lot of elements at play here, and for now had crackdown intensifying. Authorities shutting down the internet, shutting down access to some apps like Instagram and others. But they are going to continue to come out, these videos are going to continue to seep out of Iran.

MACFARLANE: Yes, it seems to be the case. I appreciate you following it closely for us, Salma. Thank you.

All eyes on tennis star Roger Federer as he gets set for the latest match of his professional career. His message to the fans next.




ROGER FEDERER, TENNIS PLAYER: I love, tennis everything about it, and I will miss the competition, the fans cheering for or against me. They've usually been with me all the way so it's been great.


MACFARLANE: Yes, tennis fans the day has come. All eyes are on Roger Federer as he says goodbye to professional tennis at this weekend's Laver Cup in London. Federer confirms he'll play just one doubles match on Friday and he is hoping to partner with longtime rival and friend Rafael Nadal. They've met 40 times over the course of their career, including nine Grand Slam finals. And also stay together at the 2017 Laver Cup. Throughout his decades long career Federer has won 103 singles titles and 20 grand slams trailing only Nadal and Novak Djokovic on the men's all-time list. Hope to get there to see it myself.

And from box office goals two gold medals, actor Tom Hardy proved he does not need a stuntman after taking part top price -- or taking the top prize in a Brazilian jiu-jitsu championship. Hardy has taken famous turns in both superheroes and villains in big budget films. But his appearance at the competition was kept quiet to help the actor focus. An organizer spokesperson says it's not the first time he's seen Hardy compete, adding he knew the star would smash it as soon as he saw him fight.

Now, NASA says an important fueling test for the Artemis 1 mega moon rocket meets all objectives. Engineers did detect a liquid hydrogen leak Wednesday. And that was similar to one earlier that prevented it's launch earlier this month. But a NASA official says engineers were able to troubleshoot the issue and manage the leak and those test results will determine when the mission launches on a journey around the moon and back. Mission managers will meet Sunday to discuss the results and assess a potential launch date which could be as soon as Tuesday. NASA's first Salvadoran American astronaut is now at the International Space Station.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And lift off. A sunset start to the mission of Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin to the International Space Station.


MACFARLANE: A Russian spacecraft blasted off on Wednesday taking astronaut Frank Rubio and two Russian cosmonauts to the ISS. Rubio and his crewmates are expected to stay there for the next six months.


The war in Ukraine has raised the question of whether the U.S. and Russia will still cooperate at the space station. But the two countries confirmed in July they would.

And, after nearly eight weeks, two winners of the third largest jackpot in U.S. history have finally claimed their price. The Mega Millions drawing was worth $1.34 billion which is equal to $780.5 million in cash. The pair who have agreed to split the winnings, purchased a single ticket at a Speedway gas station in Des Plaines, Illinois just north of Chicago. The winners who wish to remain anonymous say they spent the past few weeks working with legal and financial advisers. Lottery officials say they are over the moon. Of course, they are.

And before we, go Madame Tussauds is known worldwide for its life like wax statues of famous celebrities. And it just unveiled its latest work, rapper and viral phenomenon Lil Nas X.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LIL NAS X, RAP STAR: Oh my god. No, because it is so good. This is like the best one I have ever seen. This is the most accurate, oh my god.


MACFARLANE: The wax figure portrays the 23 old in the same gold suit of armor he wore for the 2021 Met Gala in New York. Lil Nas X broke billboard charts records in 2019 with his country rap, Old Town Road collaboration with Billy Ray Cyrus. The longest running number one hip-hop single of all-time. Splendid.

That does it for this edition of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Christina Macfarlane in London, EARLY START with Christine Romans is up next. Stay tuned for that.