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Biden to Tour Storm Damage in Florida Wednesday; Search for Survivors Continues as Death Toll Rises in Florida; Trump Goes to Supreme Court Over Seized Documents; U.S. and South Korea Test Fire Missiles Off Korean Peninsula; Elon Musk Again Proposes Buying Twitter at Full Price; All eyes on OPEC+ Ahead of Key Decision on Oil Output; Russia Admits to Losses in Ukraine. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired October 05, 2022 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't always rule in Donald Trump's favor. Yes, they've been unpredictable but they've also denied Donald Trump many times over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He hasn't had many wins in this case except appointing a special master and that has turned out to back fire on him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we walked out it was like something out of a war zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to hit home. It's going to be emotional when they see their properties up close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything that you see is being contested by the Ukrainians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russians have completely dropped any pretexts that this is going well.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster.

FOSTER: It is Wednesday, October 5th, 9 a.m. here in London. 4 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast. It's been a week since hurricane Ian slammed into Florida and U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to visit hard-hit Fort Myers in the coming hours. He'll meet with Governor Ron DeSantis, FEMA and local officials to survey the damage there. Meanwhile, Florida residents who evacuated are slowly returning to their homes. Officials have nearly finished clearing access to Sanibel Island for vehicles and workers to get through but it'll be a difficult transition for those who call the island home.


DANA SOUZA, SANIBEL CITY MANAGER: What they'll see is really an up close look at destruction that they've seen from the video clips that have been offered on the news and some other photos that may have been shared through local sources and it's going to hit home. It's going to be emotional when they see their properties up close and the amount of damage that this storm inflicted upon them.


FOSTER: Governor DeSantis announced immediate repairs will be made to the Sanibel Causeway. The hurricane completely destroyed several sections cutting the island off from the mainland there. Although the damage across the state pales in comparison to the lives taken by Ian. At least 109 deaths have been reported in the U.S. so far. Florida officials say it's unclear how many people are still missing following the storm. Thousands of rescues have been made in Florida alone. But some areas said to be completely unlivable. CNN's Leyla Santiago rode along with rescue crews searching for survivors.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By land, by water, the search continues across the hard hit area of Lee County, Florida nearly a week after Hurricane Ian left behind total devastation and more than 100 people dead.

This central Florida rescue task force is still looking for survivors. Their mission, get to the mangroves on the barrier island of Sanibel, cut off when its bridge collapsed, to search the hundreds of boats that were tossed and left disabled during the storm.

MATT JAYNES, RESCUE TEAM MANAGER, TASK FORCE 4 FLORIDA: There's a large population of commercial shrimp vessels, and mooring fields, where people live on sail boats and cabin cruisers year-round. And many of those people, you know, will ride out a storm on their boat, that's their home. Many of those vessels have been pushed deep into the mangroves in an inaccessible area, so we are taking the smaller boats that we can to get back in the backwater areas and make sure they're clear.

SANTIAGO: These are the boats that will carry in the search and rescue teams. They'll go about 45 minutes that way near Sanibel into the mangroves to find boats.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): And this is what they're coming across, mangled boats in tough-to-reach areas.

JAYNES: The inaccessibility is probably the greatest challenge we have.

SANTIAGO: So, this is the bridge to Sanibel. This is usually where they would move people and surprised that you can see it's collapsed over here, and the road just completely caved in right over here by the water.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): For the first time since the storm, residents of Sanibel will be allowed to get back on the island by private boats to inspect their property.

HOLLY SMITH, SANIBEL, FLORIDA MAYOR: My heart is breaking knowing what we're all going to be facing tomorrow. I'm going to see my home tomorrow as well.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Not the case for those who live on Fort Myers Beach. They were ordered to leave the barrier island with no guarantee of when they will be allowed to return.

Korin Gulshen was dropped off here by Lee County officials where friends and families are reuniting with their loved ones who rode out the storm.


KORIN GULSHEN, FORT MYERS BEACH, FLORIDA RESIDENT: Shock, disbelief that such a massive storm came through here, you know. We were warned, we knew it was going to be big. You know, we made that choice to stay. My island of paradise is gone as I knew it.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): More than 400,000 people are still without power, and many on these barrier islands may not have it for up to a month. Still, they are holding out hope.

GULSHEN: We're strong people, we will get through it, and we'll rebuild and come back.

SANTIAGO: You know, we talked about the boats in our story. You'll see the boats right behind me that have washed up here. This is a fishing community where the shrimpers here will be quick to tell you we have provided food for this country for decades and now they feel left behind saying they would just love to be able to hear from a government official providing help or just wash their hands or get a warm bath. They feel like they've been left behind.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Fort Myers Beach, Florida.


FOSTER: If you'd like to help those impacted by hurricane Ian to go to for more information.

The U.S. Justice Department is facing a Tuesday deadline to respond to the latest legal maneuvering from Donald Trump. Lawyers for the former president are asking the Supreme Court to intervene in the dispute over a trove of classified documents seized from Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. CNN's Jessica Schneider is following the case for us.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Former President Trump's legal team asking the Supreme Court to step in to this ongoing saga over the documents taken from Mar-a-Lago. Trump's lawyers filing an emergency request at the Supreme Court asking the justices to once again let the special master reviewing all of these documents seized regain access specifically to the 100 classified documents.

And if the special master were to get access to those classified records, that would actually mean Trump's legal team would also get to see them. That's something they've long been fighting for.

Now this was a very narrow emergency appeal to the Supreme Court on very technical grounds. They basically said the 11th Circuit never even had the authority to stop the special master from reviewing those classified documents in the first place. This request from Trump's team, it did go directly to Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative. He oversees all petitions coming in from the 11th Circuit. And he has that a deadline for next Tuesday for the Justice Department to respond to this. Eventually though all nine justices will likely weigh in on this.

And Trump has appealed to the Supreme Court several times in the past few years with little luck though. There have not been favorable outcomes for him. In fact, earlier this year the justices allowed the January 6th Select Committee to get access to Trump's White House records despite Trump's objections.

And back in 2020 they actually ruled he could not block his financial documents from prosecutors in New York. Now since this was filed as an emergency order the justices can potentially rule very quickly here after DOJ responds early next week, so we'll see how quickly the court moves and what they do.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: The motion from Trump's lawyers is a narrow legal request and comes as the nation's top court faces a lack of confidence from the American public. Here's what CNN legal analyst had to say about it.


ELLIOTT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This will certainly slow the proceeding down. And most importantly, even if the former president were to win this appeal, it really wouldn't change the outcome of the proceedings in any meaningful way. Even if he were to win, the Justice Department would still end up having access to the documents as they do right now.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: All the different cases that Donald Trump has brought to the Supreme Court as an individual, you know, the financial documents cases that we had back in 2020, the election requests that he made, you know, at the end of 2020 and then just earlier this year when he was trying to block documents from the archives, he's lost all of those. And this one looks set up to also be a loser.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: We don't know what the Supreme Court will decide though of

course. We will bring you that decision when it happens in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department has its hands full in another case. Five people are facing the charge of seditious conspiracy for their alleged role in the January 6 Capitol attack. On Tuesday prosecutors played a secret recording showing how planning for the violence started.


RECORDED AUDIO PLAYED IN COURT: We're not getting out of this without a fight. There's going to be a fight. but let's just do it smart and let's do it while President Trump is still commander in chief.


FOSTER: Prosecutors say the defendants discussed in details their plans to bring weapons to the Capitol.


MEGGS: Pepper spray is legal. Tasers are legal. And stun guns are legal. And it doesn't hurt to have a led pipe with a flag on it.


MR. RHODES: For example, when I was walking through the streets of Portland, I was quote/unquote unarmed, but I had my helmet in my hand. Guess what that was for? That was to whack someone right across the face.


FOSTER: All five defendants have pleaded not guilty. If they are convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.

A day after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan, the U.S. and South Korea test fired four missiles off the Korean Peninsula in a show of force. In a separate exercise South Korea says a locally made missile crashed due to its abnormal flight and the incident is under investigation.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida discussed Pyongyang's missile launch and vowed to work towards the denuclearization of North Korea. For more on the story I'm joined by Paula Hancocks in Seoul. This response from the South confused some people and worried some people in their own country.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly the fact that one of those missiles did fail and appeared to crash was of concern to some of those in the area.

But what we saw here, Max, was a really coordinated effort by both the U.S. and South Korea. They actually carried out two separate exercises in less than 24 hours. Both of them intended to give a message to North Korea. So, firing missiles off the east coast of Korea and then also having bombing drills with fighter jets off the west coast of Korea.

So, we heard from John Kirby who was on CNN just after those drills had taken place, and he was talking about how this was a message to North Korea to show that if the U.S. and South Korea wanted to, they had the military capability to strike back.


JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COMMS. COORDINATOR We have made it clear to Kim Jong-un, we're willing to sit down with no pre- conditions. We want to see the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. He hasn't shown an inclination to move in that direction. In fact, quite frankly, he's moving in the opposite direction. We have to make sure we have the capabilities and the readiness in place to meet our national security interests, our treaty commitments in the region and we're going to do that.


HANCOCKS: Kirby pointing to something there that many experts also agree with. The fact that this is just expected to escalate with North Korea, or at the very least they will continue to carry out these missile launches while showing no interests whatsoever in the negotiations or any diplomatic avenues being open.

And of course, there is also that concern, Max, that there is going to be a seventh underground nuclear test that the national intelligence agency here in Korea, speaking to lawmakers recently, had a short window of between October 17th and November 7th when they thought it was possible that that nuclear test would happen. Just after the Chinese party Congress as Pyongyang does not want to anger Beijing and just before the U.S. mid-term elections.

Now of course there's no guarantee it will happen within those times. But it just shows how closely intelligence agencies are looking out for that. They have been saying since March that they believe North Korea is ready, they're prepared, they're capable, they're just waiting for the political will -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Paula Hancocks live from Seoul. Thank you.

Now Twitter's stock surged on Tuesday on word that Elon Musk is once again offering to buy the social media giant at the full original price of $44 billion. It's a major reversal for the richest person in the world who had been facing a lawsuit the company filed over his attempt to back out of the deal. CNN's Matt Egan has the details from New York.


MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: This is an amazing plot twist. You know, there's been a lot of corporate battles over the years, but we've never seen anything quite like this. Only Elon Musk could deliver it. So, Twitter shares rising sharply on reports that Elon Musk is going to reverse himself and try to get this deal closed at the originally proposed $54.20. And then we got confirmation Elon Musk representatives said in a letter yesterday that was made public that Musk does plan to go forward with this deal at the originally proposed terms.

And then Twitter put out a statement saying they received a letter from Musk's representatives and they also intend to close the deal at $54.20.

Now this is a shocker because this battle was set to go to trial in just under two weeks in Delaware. The problem for Elon Musk is that he was seen widely as the underdog in this battle. You know, he wanted to walk away from the deal. He said he had concerns about bots on Twitter. But he had a signed contract and you can't just rip that up.

And so, maybe Elon Musk decided he saw the writing on the wall and he wanted to try to end this on his own terms. I think what's puzzling is that he didn't try to get a discount here.


I mean, $54.20 a share was viewed as very rich three months ago. And we've only seen markets come down sharply since then including tech companies. So, you got to wonder why he didn't try to negotiate to get a discount here.

Things could move very quickly from here. It appears that Twitter is taking this at face value. If they end up dropping this lawsuit, they could end up getting this cleared very quickly. And then they may want to move fast because they don't know if Elon Musk is going to change his mind again. Regulators have already signed off. Shareholders have already signed off. This was the last obstacle, albeit a big one. So, it's possible we could see this deal get wrapped up in just days. Which would mean that we could have a situation where the world's richest person is going to control one of the most influential social media platforms. And that, of course, raises so many questions about freedom of speech and misinformation. Back to you -- guys.


FOSTER: Now still to come, oil prices could still soon be back on the rise. It all depends what OPEC ministers do when they meet in a few hours' time.

And Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker's campaign against Raphael Warnock is reeling after reports accusing him of paying for an abortion.

Plus, Russian forces see significant losses as Ukraine pushes forward in the south. We'll have the very latest just ahead.


[04:20:00] FOSTER: A grim economic milestone. The U.S. national debt has soared above $31 trillion for the first time ever. The federal government borrowed heavily earlier during the pandemic to shore up the economy but interest rates were much lower. Now they've shot up and that makes U.S. debt even costlier. And this is happening amid inflation and recessionary fears as well.

Those recession fears may be returning for investors after heavy two days of gains in the U.S. stock market. The opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange is about five hours away. And here's how the U.S. futures are shaping up. As you look at them, not great but below 1 percent falls currently. The Dow surged for the second straight day up 825 points. It's now back above the key 30,000 milestone and no longer in a bear market.

Here's a look at oil prices right now ahead of a key meeting by OPEC oil ministers. Brent crude is hovering around $91 a barrel. OPEC and its allies including Russia will meet in Vienna in just a few hours to discuss slashing oil production to boost those prices.

If oil prices do rise, drivers will see gas prices shoot back up and the Biden administration is trying to keep that from happening. CNN's Alex Marquardt has details on the full-court press it's putting on OPEC.


ALEX MARQUARDT, SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The Biden administration has launched a full scale diplomatic pressure campaign in a last-ditch effort to persuade Middle Eastern allies to not cut the oil production at a meeting on Wednesday. That critical meeting is of the oil cartel known as OPEC+, ostensibly led by Saudi Arabia and it is widely expected to announce a significant cut in output in an effort to raise oil prices. Which in turn would cause U.S. gas prices to rise at a precarious time for the White House. Just five weeks before the mid-term elections.

For the past several days President Joe Biden's most senior energy, economic and foreign policy officials have been enlisted for a frantic effort to lobby their foreign counterparts in Middle Eastern allied countries including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to vote against cutting oil production.

CNN obtained draft talking points were sent by the White House to the Treasury Department on Monday which called the prospect of a production cut a total disaster and warned that it could be taken by the U.S. as a hostile act.

The White House has asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to make the case personally to some of her Gulf state counterparts. One U.S. official told CNN that the White House is having a spasm and panicking. Another U.S. official said, quote, it's important that everyone is aware of just how high the stakes are.

For President Biden a dramatic cut in oil production could not come at a worse time. The administration has for months engaged in intensive diplomatic and foreign policy efforts to mitigate soaring energy prices in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. That work did appear to pay off with U.S. gas prices falling for almost 100 days in a row.

But with just a month to go before the critical mid-term elections, U.S. gas prices have begun to creep up again posing a real political risk that the White House is desperately trying to avoid.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: A fast and powerful advance by Ukrainian forces in the south is spelling significant losses for Russia on the battlefield. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his troops are now advancing further towards the Russian occupied city of Kherson. This as Ukrainian forces raise the nation's flag over more liberated towns and one official says troops are breaking through Russian defenses in the Kherson region. Ukraine's president is praising his army's achievements.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The Ukrainian army is quite rapidly and powerfully advancing in the south of our country as part of the current defense operation.


FOSTER: Scott McLean is following developments for us. Incredible progress really on the Ukrainian side. How are they doing it?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, even the Russians are acknowledging there is progress being made. And you know, there's a series of reasons why the Russians say that the Ukrainians have been so successful. But it's remarkable just how quickly they've actually acknowledged it.

So, a case in point, a Russian military briefing, two of them. One took place on Monday, another one took place yesterday. And there's a series of maps I want to bring up that show the situation.

So, the map on the left shows Monday's -- the map from Monday's military briefing. And then the one on the right is from Tuesday's. The pink there is Russian occupied areas, the white is Ukrainian.


And look at the area just left of the blue part. That's the Dnipro River. And this is Russia acknowledging that they are losing territory in the southern part of the country after they also lost territory in the eastern part of the country, specifically the key town of Lyman.

We also have a time-lapse map showing -- since the onset of the war -- how the front lines have changed and how the Russian troop presence had started to shrink or as of late at the very least in many places started to stall. Russian media is even acknowledging that things are not going well.

Case in point, of course, a correspondent from a pro-Kremlin tabloid who is actually embedded with Russian forces in Lyman. Said that, look, there's not going to be any good news from the front lines anytime soon, either in the east or in the south. He said that the Ukrainians have advantages when it comes to intelligence gathering. They also have advantages because they have better prepared troops that are actually showing up on the front lines. While the Russians simply don't have the manpower.

This has been echoed by a war correspondent, a quite prominent war correspondent from Russian state TV. Who says that, look, the weapons deliveries from the U.S. are definitely having an impact and also the Russians simply don't have the manpower. They have enough to hold the line at the moment but he says that it will be some two months before they can make any significant headway actually advancing.

One other thing to point out, Max, and that is clearly there's no shortage of ammunition though. Just this morning there were -- the Ukrainians reported kamikaze drone strikes. One of them hit in a town south of Kyiv. The other was aimed, the Ukrainians say, at Odessa though that one was shot down.

FOSTER: OK, Scott, thank you.

The son of NFL star turned politician Herschel Walker blasts him on social media after a report that could hurt his father's campaign for U.S. Senate. The allegations and the family drama just ahead.

Plus, the speech of a lifetime for British Prime Minister Liz Truss. How she plans to save her economic agenda, maybe even her political career.