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Ukraine Makes Gains In Territory Russia Claims They Annexed; Hurricane Ian May Have Caused Up To $558 Billion In Damage In Florida; Trump Asks Supreme Court To Intervene In Mar-a-Lago Documents Dispute; Biden Address Abortion Rights At Reproductive Healthcare Access Event. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired October 04, 2022 - 15:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Ukraine's military is reclaiming more land across the country's south and east, while Russian troops are retreating.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Today Ukrainian forces pushed into the Luhansk region. They say they've also liberated two more towns near Kherson. That's all part of the territory that Putin illegally annexed last week. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live for us in Ukraine. So, Nick, Russia can claim annexation, but they don't seem to be able to control these areas.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and they're losing significant parts of it, just as they continue to go through this curious charade of rubber stamping what they consider now to be the formalizing of their annexation of parts of Ukraine that they've occupied.

The most important development today, Alisyn, is in the south of Ukraine. And I have to say, it is absolutely startling. I'm still trying to get my head around it. The Russian Ministry of Defense have admitted in the maps that they show in their daily press conferences that just since yesterday they've lost about a third, maybe a quarter of the territory that they used to hold on the western bank of the Dnipro River.

Now without getting too lost in geography of Ukraine, this is all extremely important because it's right next to the Black Sea. And it's an area that really Russia desperately wanted to hold onto.


But they've been cut off there because of the river isolating the troops on the western bank from the rest of Russia's occupying force on the eastern bank. And many thought this was the real focus of the Ukrainian counteroffensive over a month ago. But instead, the Ukrainians went northeast. Now they are applying pressure to the south. And it's working at a rate which is frankly startling to behold, causing many to wonder if we're about to witness the third slow collapse of Russian forces in Ukraine. We saw it first a month ago around Kharkiv, the second city. I've just

come back from the east, from Lyman, a strategic hub for Russia which they lost over the weekend, withdrawing some say, also partially being encircled and are losing troops. And now the impact is being felt to the east.

Most analysts thought Ukraine military would be essentially be running out of steam by now, but they appear to have some left in them to focus on the south. This may be a result frankly of the Russian military's poor supply, poor recruitment and poor refurbishment of their troops on the front lines. But it's something startling to be hold particularly with this parallel world of rubber stamping, of annexation in Moscow happening at the same time.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said today in a decree that he would not negotiate peace with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That possibly suggests that at some future down the line if Putin leaves power -- not likely to happen eminently at all. There may be some other off-ramp. But at the current moment, Ukraine has the momentum and things are changing territorially extremely fast -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Your right, Nick, these are startling developments. Thank you very much for being on the ground for us. So, today President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Ukraine's President Zelenskyy and pledged another $625 million in U.S. military aid.

CNN Senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly is with us now. Phil, what do you know about the new aid and this phone call?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor and Alisyn, the phone call was as much a reiteration of has been a steadfast commitment since the Russian invasion of Ukraine back in February. More than nearly $17 billion in U.S. military assistance has flowed toward Ukraine just since the invasion. This new $625 million package underscoring the kind of mix of near term and long-term commitments from the United States.

Guys, it was just last week the U.S. committed $1.1 billion in assistance. That moreover the period of years. This more acutely tied to the advances the Ukrainian troops have made in the recent days. The U.S. officials saying they want to try and maintain that momentum. Another message the president delivered that the U.S. will never recognize the sham annexation that we've seen over the course of the last several days.

And will continued to monitor any entity that decides to support those annexations and try and impose sanctions on the entities, more than anything else just underscoring the U.S. commitment simply will not end any time soon -- guys.

CAMEROTA: So, Phil, we're going to be hearing from the president life soon about the steps that his administration is going to try I guess to take to protect abortion rights. Do we know what the plan is?

MATTINGLY: So, we know that the president is going to sign executive orders related to grants and guidelines tied to protecting abortion rights. The reality -- and I think this is probably the driving force behind this event 102 days after the Supreme Court struck down Roe versus Wade, this is an effort to elevate once again an issue that they know is motivating voters on their side. But also, that they know there's very little they can do to reverse without Congressional action. That will require voters.

The president and his team made clear there are elements that they can pursue to try and address some of the issues laid bare by the decision by the Supreme Court. However, only Congress can codify Roe versus Wade, can vote on that. They don't have the votes yet. Part of this event is to underscore that reality a few weeks after the midterm -- guys

CAMEROTA: OK, Phil Mattingly, thank you very much for that preview.

BLACKWELL: So many people in Florida are trying to figure out their next steps after losing nearly everything to hurricane Ian. Next, you'll hear from a woman who is going to give her account of riding out the storm in her garage loft and talk about what she'll do next.



CAMEROTA: Urgent rescue efforts are still under way across parts of Florida and, as you know, countless homes and buildings reduced to rubble.

BLACKWELL: So many people now are facing the task of trying to figure out what to do next, including Margaret Cruz. She has a home in hardest hit areas -- one of them Fort Myers. This is what it looks like right now. And Margaret is with us. Margaret, to look at these pictures, you were, what, in a garage on the property next door? When you saw your house again, what went through your mind?

MARGARET CRUZ, HOMES DESTROYED IN HURRICANE: I couldn't believe it. While we were in the garage and everything was happening, we were up in the loft. And it was like we couldn't see anything. And when we walked out, it was like something out of a war zone. It was just devastating. But thank God we're alive and we were rescued by two of our grandchildren. And we're just -- thank you, Alisyn and Victor, for letting people see what a storm does. I mean, we've been here since 1988, in this area and never seen this. Never, ever seen such damage.

CAMEROTA: Well, Margaret, thank you for showing us all of this.


I mean, your pictures are just staggering. The before and after, we look at your living room beforehand and then we just look at the devastation inside your home afterwards. How did you know you would be safer in the metal garage next to your house?

CRUZ: Well, the loft -- the loft is about 14 foot above sea level. And we knew that if we got in the loft, unless the waters went, you know, higher than 14 feet -- and my husband even hung a chair on the ceiling of the loft so that we could sit in it if the loft fell down, if the loft collapsed. And we took a final picture for our kids and put it up in the ceiling so that -- and left them a note that if we weren't there, to let them know that we loved them very much. And we were just blessed. We're blessed that we're here.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Listen, I'm looking at these pictures of your living room. And I read you told one of our producers, you know, there are memories in this home, obviously, of where your grandchildren when they would visit, where they would play and stay. I mean, when you look at these places, what memories -- what do you feel?

CRUZ: I feel that it was -- you know, it happened and a lot of memories. Fortunately, we have technology that has a lot of it on our phones and in our -- you know, on iCloud and things like that. So, I feel that -- I just feel blessed. I can't explain it any other way, that we're still here. I mean, we're in our 70s and we knew, you know, it would be OK if something happened to us. But God kept us here for a reason, and we're going to do whatever he wants us to do to help others.

Yes. Well, Margaret, I'm so sorry this happened to your home, your tangible properties. But, as you say, you are blessed because you are here.

CRUZ: Yes.

BLACKWELL: And you have your health. Your husband is with you. Your grandchildren, of course, you are seeing them. Margaret Cruz, thank you so much and we wish you the best


CAMEROTA: Thanks, Margaret, take care.

CRUZ: Thank you. Have a nice day and a blessed one.

CAMEROTA: You too.

BLACKWELL: Listen, if you're looking for ways that you can help the victims of hurricane Ian, go to

CAMEROTA: OK, we have breaking news right now. Former president Donald Trump has now asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the dispute over the materials that the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate.

BLACKWELL: CNN reporter Kara Scannell is with us now. So, explain it to us.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Right, so the former president's lawyers have now gone to the Supreme Court asking them to intervene in this dispute over these documents. What specifically they're focusing is here is the decision by the 11th Circuit -- that is the Court of Appeals -- that had issued a stay in the case.

Now what this means in plain language is that the 11th circuit said the special master that was appointed by a judge would not review any of the materials that had classified markings. That was something that the Justice Department wanted carved out. The special master could still look at executive privilege and attorney/client privilege but not the documents with classified markings.

What Trump's lawyers are asking now, is saying to the Supreme Court, can you come in and undo that and make this review what it was initially, what the initial judge had granted, which was to have the special master look at all of the materials.

Now the issues here, you know, what could actually happen out of this if this goes back to the special master. This would require again the Supreme Court to grant this which will take some time. So, at a minimum, we're looking at a delay as this is now on the table. But if this were to be granted, then the issue there is would the former president's lawyers now be able to see these documents that are marked as classified. That is something the Justice Department has fought strongly against.

CAMEROTA: So, let's bring in Elie Honig right now. Elie, I know you've been listening to Kara's report here about how Donald Trump's lawyers have now asked the Supreme Court to intervene in this case of all the top secret and classified documents that were found at Mar-a-Lago. Why would his lawyers, why would team Trump want the special master to be able to see the classified and top secret documents?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, they object to DOJ having those documents without the special master first reviewing them for potential privilege. More to the point -- I think as Kara was just saying -- this is part of the delay strategy. Well, this is Donald Trump's only remaining move when it comes to those 100 classified documents. He lost in the court of appeals, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.


Again, we're only talking a narrow slice of the total documents, the 100 or so classified documents. And so, either he accepts that loss and those documents don't go to the special master and go right over to DOJ, or his only remaining recourse is to try to get the Supreme Court to take it. And that's the course he's taking now.

BLACKWELL: So again, try to get the Supreme Court to take it. They don't have to grant this request to taking this up. But when we look at the court, what's your expectation if they do take this?

HONIG: Well, you're right, Victor. It is up to the Supreme Court whether to hear any case. They do not have to here this case or any case that they don't want to hear. The Supreme Court typically likes to stay out of messy political disputes on the one hand.

So, to me there's a reasonable chance the Supreme Court Justice say no thanks, we're not involved. We are going to leave the 11th Circuit, the Court of Appeals ruling in place as is.

On the other hand, when it comes to sort of unique novel issues of constitutional law, of separation of powers, and issues like executive privilege and classification of documents, that's sort of why the Supreme Court exists. To adjudicate those high-level disputes between branches that involve sort of core constitutional principles. So, I don't think it's really possible with any confidence to predict what the Supreme Court will or won't do here. I think it's going to be a close call. But it is up to the Supreme Court.

CAMEROTA: Kara, obviously this involves national security. There were sources and methods that were possibly put at risk because these documents were so poorly handled. Does this, what's happening now and the request for the Supreme Court, does that stop the review of these documents and what damage might have been done.

SCANNELL: Well, interestingly, that is not the aspect of this that Trump's team is appealing here. They are not trying to stop the review of those materials so people can see if any human sources that was identified in these in these documents. They're not looking to pause that national security review or even a criminal investigation, investigators use of these materials, that they want to materials.

And what their narrow request here is to have the classified materials be reviewed by the special master. And their argument is, you know, that's jurisdictional, kind of legally but it is the angle that they're pursuing here, not impacting that national security review.

BLACKWELL: Elie, as we've discussed, there is a possibility that in the Venn diagram of classified materials, materials covered by executive privilege, that there could be some overlap there. Is that what this gets to? That the Trump team wants to say there are documents there with classified information that should be returned to the former president?

HONIG: I think that's exactly what the argument should be. That there now in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that was based on classification. The court of appeals said, well, the American public and the Justice Department have a very strong interest in accessing these classified documents without interference, without having to run them by a special master. And the court said, well, Donald Trump has no cognizable legal interest in viewing classified documents.

If I'm Donald Trump's lawyers, I'd say that's fine. But I still want the special master to review them for executive privilege. Because, Victor, as you say, there could be a universe of documents, probably a very narrow universe of documents that could be both classified and covered by executive privilege. And so, if I'm representing Donald Trump, I would say let's run those through the special master.

DOJ will still get them eventually if they are not privileged. But if they are privileged then Donald trump, as a former president, has the right to at least not have those documents used against him. So, that's a really an important distinction here. And I think Donald Trump's lawyers would be wise to make that distinction in their full argument to the court.

BLACKWELL: All right we'll see if we hear anything from the DOJ and if the Supreme Court takes it up. Elie Honig, Kara Scannell, thank you.

Twitter has now responded to Elon Musk's offer to buy it at the original price. We'll tell you what they said next.



BLACKWELL: President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are attending the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access this afternoon.

CAMEROTA: The president spoke moments ago about how American women can protect access to abortion rights.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the aftermath of the Supreme Court's most people would acknowledge is a fairly extreme decision. The court got Roe right nearly 50 years ago. In the Congress should codify the protections of Roe and do it once and for all. But right now, we have -- we're short a handful of votes. So, the only way it's going to happen is if the American people make it happen.


CAMEROTA: OK, we also have an update now on the breaking news we brought you earlier. Twitter now confirms that Elon Musk did re-offer to buy the social media giant at the original price. And we are learning that Twitter intends to accept the offer at $54 a share.

BLACKWELL: Now, we're are watching it soar in the last minute of trading here. Twitter stock was halted twice. The second time for news pending and rose about 13 percent. It's now up 22 percent -- this is midday -- since midday trading Tuesday. Twitter share price is back and trading is -- as we said -- soaring.

CAMEROTA: Can I get the past two months of my life back?

BLACKWELL: This is done now.

CAMEROTA: I don't know. I'm all turned around.

BLACKWELL: Let's hope.

CAMEROTA: OK, but this is very important. Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen have each hired divorce attorneys. We've also been told that they've been living separately recently.

BLACKWELL: Yes, so they are said to be exploring their options regarding their marriage. A source close to the couple told CNN. CNN has reached out to representatives for Brady and Bundchen for comments.


CAMEROTA: I am surprised by this because I only know what I read and see them together and all their paparazzi pics and I thought the only beef was whether he was going to retire or not retire. But I didn't know they were at this point. And I do think that's sad.

Yes, well she had said, reportedly that, you know, they were living kind of separate lives for a while now over this last season. You hate to see it. We'll see where it goes, though.

CAMEROTA: If those two crazy kids can't make it work. Let's pray for them.

BLACKWELL: "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.