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CNN International: Trump Hush Money Probe Near End; California Faces Flood Risk After Back-to-Back Snowstorms; Bodies of Two Americans Killed in Mexico Returned to U.S.; Seven People Killed at Jehovah's Witness Center in Hamburg, Germany; Ukraine Russia Employs New Tactic in Missile Strikes; Inside the Secret Talks That Ended Siege of Mariupol. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 10, 2023 - 04:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Bianca Nobilo.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Max Foster, joining you live from London. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This tells me that a decision on whether to seek an indictment is very close at hand and frankly that an indictment is quite likely here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not out of the woods with the winter storms and this is a big one. We're looking at this as a big event.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All four of the Americans who were kidnapped are back on U.S. soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We heard gunshots and there were 12 continuous shots. We saw people being taken away in black bags.


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

FOSTER: It is Friday, March 10, 9:00 a.m. here in London, 4:00 a.m. in New York where Donald Trump may be just a short time away from becoming the first former president ever to be criminally indicted.

NOBILO: "The New York Times" is reporting that the district attorney's office in Manhattan recently offered him one final chance to testify next week. That would be before the grand jury hearing evidence in the Stormy Daniels hush money case. According to the "Times", such offers almost always indicates that an indictment is close.

FOSTER: The investigation centers on $130,000 that one time fixer Michael Cohen paid to Daniels to buy her silence near the end of the 2016 campaign. Cohen was later reimbursed by the former president. According to the "Times" Trump has yet to testify but is expected to decline.

NOBILO: Earlier CNN's Anderson Cooper spoke with CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig about what the offer to testify means for Trump and whether he might be indicted. Take a listen.


ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This tells me that a decision on whether to seek an indictment is very close at hand and frankly that an indictment is quite likely here. This is an unusual feature of New York state law that says when prosecutors are getting close to indicting someone, you have to give that person a chance to testify in the grand jury. That's actually different from federal law.

And you would not do this tactically as a prosecutor until you were at the very end stage. Because on the off chance -- close to zero here -- but on the off chance that the person accepts and comes in to testify, you need all your ammo arrayed to question that person. So this tells me we are really in the closing phases of this.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: But it's unlikely he would actually testify.

HONIG: It's close to zero percent. Because if you do testify -- as they warn you in the cop shows -- anything you say can and will be used against you in an eventual trial.


NOBILO: The Western U.S. is in the midst of a multiday flood threat. California Governor Gavin Newsom has requested a presidential emergency as an atmospheric river currently impacts much of the state. More than 60 million people are under flood alerts and many of them just starting to recover from intense storms in recent weeks.


TOM FREDERICKS, FELTON, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: We've been working every week. Every week when we can since then, and it is just starting right now to feel like it was before the storms. So this is kind of discouraging to be facing it all over again.


FOSTER: The flood threat is enhanced by rain falling on top of snow pack especially in the mountains. The Weather Prediction Center says the most vulnerable areas are creeks and streams in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The storms are also expected to bring heavy wet snow to the highest elevations, some areas could get pounded by up to 8 feet. Wind is also a factor. 20 million people across the West are under high wind alerts. Gusts could reach up to 80 miles an hour up in the mountains. And this extreme weather will continue into the weekend. CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam has the latest.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: New overnight, the Weather Prediction Center really upping the ante with the latest atmospheric river event pounding the state of California with heavy rain and snow. They have issued their highest alert level for flash flooding in and around Monterey County. And to put that into context, this is the first time they have done that since 2010. Still overnight, the moderate risk of flash flooding for San Francisco Bay region. And then look for the day on Friday that high risk level extends further south, including San Luis Obispo as well as the central Sierra Nevada mountain range.


I'll explain why this is important. Remember all the various atmospheric river events we've covered so far this winter dumping copious amounts of snowfall, burying homes and vehicles quite literally, right. Well, guess what? This particular storm is going to be significantly milder than the previous atmospheric river events because we're trapping deep tropical moisture just south of Hawaii. In fact, you can pretty much track that cloud cover train all the way from Hawaii into the state of California.

Now the various computer models that meteorologists look to show and indicate that the freezing level is actually going to be about 1,000 feet higher than what we previously anticipated yesterday. That means more rain will fall out of this system on top of that deep snow pack that you saw just a moment ago. There will still be snow, several feet of it across the Sierra Nevada mountain range, but more rain anticipate the across the Central Valley all the way to the coastline.

This is going to allow for rapid snow melt, the potential for flooding, landslides and mudslides. The National Weather Service picking up on that. Heavy rainfall and our flood watch continues. Here is the first atmospheric river event lasting through the day on Friday and moves inward along with the moisture plume and then look what is waiting in its wings. Another rain and snow event anticipated by the end of the weekend and into the early parts of next week. Back to you.

FOSTER: The U.S. Labor Department will release the monthly unemployment report for February in just a few hours and more strong job numbers could push the Federal Reserve towards another hefty interest rate hike.

NOBILO: Investors are also watching closely after the Dow dropped 543 points on Thursday. The Nasdaq and S&P lost about 2 percent each. According to economists expect that the labor market added 205,000 jobs for February. January's report surprised everyone showing more than half a million new jobs.

FOSTER: This all on the heel of President Biden laying out his budget for fiscal year 2024. And he hopes a package of tax increases on the wealthiest Americans will slash $3 trillion from the federal deficit. He also vowed to protect Social Security and Medicare and keep insulin prices low.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do you know how much it costs to make it and package it? $13.50. And charging the kind of money they charge, well guess what, guess what, now we've lowered -- we've lower the cost of insulin to a maximum $35 a month.


NOBILO: The new trading day gets under way in the U.S. in just over five hours time and here is where futures stand right now. It's not looking so good as we start this morning. Meantime European markets they are already up and running and again same story here as we know that concerns are hitting big banks across Europe. And here's a look at how Asia markets fair today. And again, it's not a good picture, rather depressed for banks in stocks today.

The Mexican drug cartel thought to be responsible for kidnapping four Americans last week and killing two of them has reportedly issued an apology letter.

FOSTER: The Gulf cartel also apparently handed over five of its members to local authorities. That's according to images posted online and an official familiar with the investigation.

NOBILO: CNN can't confirm any of that. And meanwhile, remains of the U.S. tourists who were killed were repatriated on Thursday. CNN's Rosa Flores has this update.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All four of the Americans who were kidnapped are back on U.S. soil. The two Americans who were injured had been in the United States since Tuesday getting medical attention. The other two Americans, the Americans who were killed, were returned to the United States late on Thursday.

There was a caravan of vehicles that crossed from Matamoros to Brownsville, Texas that carried their caskets. They were taken to a funeral home. A second autopsy is expected. This as we learn more about the hours and the days after the kidnapping of these four Americans.

Mexican authorities saying that they found a clinic where these Americans were given or stayed and they also seized an ambulance that was used to transport the Americans to that clinic. It's important to note that in Mexico there are private ambulance services and that there are also clandestine clinics in the area.

Now we're also learning from Mexican authorities that Mexico has sent hundreds of troops to this area to secure the border. According to Mexican authorities, that includes 200 Mexican army soldiers and 100 National Guard members. All this as a source within the state AG's office telling CNN that this is still an ongoing investigation and that they are investigating all angles. Rosa Flores, CNN, Brownsville, Texas.


NOBILO: The death toll from the shooting at a Jehovah Witness center in Hamburg, Germany is climbing. Seven people are now confirmed dead along with the gunman.


Not long ago the German chancellor condemned the deadly attack calling it a brutal act of violence.

FOSTER: Police say they believe that there was only one shooter. There's no word yet on a possible motive. According to local media, seven people wounded, some seriously.

NOBILO: CNN's Jim Bittermann is tracking this live from Paris. Jim, as Max was just saying, that initially the police thought that there could have been several suspects involved, however late updates suggest just one gunman who was shot or died last night. What are you learning about the investigation?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in fact the investigators are working flat out according to the interior minister to find out exactly what the background of the shooting is. And they do believe that the gunman was found dead at the scene among the seven victims and the eighth person was said to be the gunman.

In any case, they are working to see exactly what the motive of this might be. It's known that Jehovah Witnesses have long been discriminated against in Europe. In Germany itself, there's about 170,000 members of the Jehovah Witnesses and about 2,000 congregations. And the discrimination has taken all kinds of forms.

Here in France for example in the late '90s, the organization lost its tax-exempt status and that was something they fought hard against it. They eventually won it back after taking an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. So, it is a group that has faced this kind discrimination in the past not only in Europe but other parts of the world. That might have something or nothing to do with it or it might have nothing to do with it. We'll have to see.

We are expecting to get on a briefing from police in about two hours time and at that we maybe able to have more information on what kind of motivation there might have been behind this attack. But as you mentioned, seven dead and along with the gunman who is also dead -- Max, Bianca.

NOBILO: Jim Bittermann in Paris, thank you.

FOSTER: Protestors in Georgia aren't going away quietly even as the ruling party has formally revoked a controversial foreign agent's bill. Tens of thousands of people gathered outside Parliament in Tbilisi. NOBILO: Some are calling for early elections while others want

government reforms that help move Georgia toward membership of the European Union. Georgia's president congratulated protestors on what she called an important victory.


SALOME ZOURABICHVILI, GEORGIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I commend the authorities for taking the right decision to revoke this law. They recognize the true power of the people. The unity exhibited on Tbilisi streets with this move.


NOBILO: Georgia's interior ministry says it has released all the demonstrators who were detained this week but it's still investigating those who attacked police and committed other violent acts they say.

FOSTER: Florida Governor DeSantis is taking a break from the culture wars in his state visit to Iowa. Many see him as Trump's biggest rival for a Republican presidential nomination. The story straight ahead.

NOBILO: Plus, Russia is reportedly changing its game plan with its missile strikes on Ukraine. You'll hear about this new tactic to beat Ukraine's air defenses.

FOSTER: And the secret negotiations that allowed thousands of Ukrainians to leave a steel plant under heavy attack early in the war. We'll have an exclusive report.

NOBILO: But before we go to break, take a look at members of the Ukrainian choir rehearsing alongside the chorus of the London Royal Opera House. They've been exploring both traditional Ukrainian music and a selection of operatic music for their sold-out concert which is on March 16 dedicated to Ukraine. We'll be right back.



FOSTER: Clues says Russia is switching tactics on its strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure.

NOBILO: Moscow unleashed a massive barrage of missiles and drones across Ukraine on Thursday leaving at least six people dead and more than 20 wounded.

FOSTER: But Kyiv says Russia did something knew, it fired different types of missiles and drones at the same time including some missiles that Ukraine can't shoot down such as Russia's hypersonic Kinzhal weapon. Salma is here to explain all of this. I mean, it is an interesting tactic, isn't it because the defenses won't work as effectively.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. More than 90 different missiles fired, plus several different drones -- Iranian-made drones. And if you look at the weapons list of what was used during this massive attack, this massive assault all across Ukraine from Odessa to Lviv, you see things like the hypersonic missiles which can evade air defenses. You are also at a land, air and sea, some of these missiles being fired from ships, warships in the Black Sea, airstrikes as well.

The result of that is that some cities like Lviv, all the way in the west of the country near the Polish border, shook for the first time in nearly a year. We are seeing residence, residential buildings destroyed, several civilians killed, several injured. Kyiv there the electricity grid was impacted as well as in several other area of Ukraine. So again, civilian infrastructure impacted. People without power, some of that has been restored now in the city. But we saw that repeated, those scenes repeated elsewhere.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as well was impacted by that, disconnected from power. And President Zelenskyy has been clear that this new tactic no matter what it is still not going to make people stand down. I want you to take a listen to what he said about it.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have already shown what Ukraine is capable of. And no matter how treacherous the Russia's actions are, our state and people will not be in chains. Neither missiles nor Russia's atrocities will help them.


ABDELAZIZ: Now Russia's defense ministry says this attack is retaliation. Retaliation for an alleged cross-border attack in Bryansk that took place a few days ago. Ukraine has denied involvement in this attack. But I think it shows you it's a reflection of the Kremlin's thinking when retaliation looks like attacking civilian areas.


NOBILO: And Salma, yesterday when you joined us, you mentioned how the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant had been knocked off the power grid for the sixth time I think in this conflict. Obviously raising a lot of alarms among nuclear watchers. What more do we know about the safety of the plant at the moment?

ABDELAZIZ: I think what really shook me is the quote from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said one day our luck will run out. And that is the concern, right. We're talking about a nuclear power plant right on the front lines that is Russian occupied but run by Ukrainian engineers and Ukrainian staff that has over and over again been impacted by these massive missile attacks, by these massive strikes coming from Moscow.

The IAEA saying, look, we have to do something about this. This is dangerous. This is something that is on the brink. That is absolutely unacceptable. And there's been several visits of course by the nuclear watchdog, but that has yet to find a resolution to this. So you're still looking at Europe's largest nuclear power plant -- that's what the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is caught in the crossfire with no solution as to how that plant can be stabilized and people can be certain that it doesn't become something worse.

FOSTER: It's running on emergency power, isn't it, so it's not completely out.

ABDELAZIZ: Not completely out. It goes into blackout mode. So, is cut from the power grid, it goes in the blackout mode. But you're still talking about a nuclear power plant, right. And there are serious concerns when talking about supplying power to a nuclear power plant and that supply not being stable, not being reliable.

FOSTER: Salma, thank you so much.

NOBILO: Early into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a brutal siege unfolded in the ravaged city of Mariupol now under Russian control. Thousands of Ukrainians soldiers and civilians sought refuge in the fortress like Azovstal iron and steel plant which Russia then bombarded for weeks. It was feared that those trapped inside would never make it out alive.

FOSTER: But secret talk were under way that allowed a safe evacuation and surrender which then allowed Russia to fully seize Mariupol and secure its long sought land bridge with Crimea. CNN's Alex Marquardt has this exclusive report.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Three months last year Russian forces lay siege to the Azovstal steel plant. More than 2,000 Ukrainians both soldiers and civilians taking shelter deep under ground. In the port city of Mariupol, it was Ukraine's last stand.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on state television ordering the plant sealed off, quote, so that not even a fly can escape, these new exclusive videos show that some of his top generals were dispatched for intense never before seen negotiations with the release and surrender those in Azovstal.

These clips and photos are from Oleksandr Kovalov, a Ukrainian member of Parliament who had previously was a Soviet paratrooper. He told us he reached out to old contacts in Russian security services.

OLEKSANDR KOVALOV, UKRAINIAN MP (through translated text): There are people with some degree of sanity who wanted to help. And some wanted blood and continued shelling and bombing with hatred.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Soon Kovalov said two senior Russian military intelligence generals were involved Alexander Zorin and Vladimir Alexseyev. Both are highly decorated. General Zorin was involved in Russia's campaign in Syria seen here with President Bashir al-Assad. General Alexseyev is a deputy head of Russia's military intelligence sanctioned for cyberattack including election interference and the EU and U.K. for the 2018 poisoning in England of a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter.

This clip shows Alexseyev at the steel plant surrounded by Ukrainian troops from the Azov Battalion which Russia calls Nazis. Zorin photographed there too. three times he went to Mariupol which he says was under constant shelling.

KOVALOV (through translated text): These are moments that we were worried about. A moment of trust. When we did everything so that the two sides came together, looked into each other's eyes, the Russian side promise that there would be a civilian exit for our soldiers.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Three times Kovalov went to Mariupol, which he says was under constant shelling. A senior Ukraine military intelligence official, Dmitrii Usov joined him and took charge of the talks with the Russian generals.

KOVALOV (through translated text): We tried to show the whole world that it is possible to find a compromise, if only for the sake of saving people.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): In early May the civilians were released, soldiers still under attack. On May 16, a final deal was struck, soldiers would leave, Russia would take over Mariupol. The first Ukrainian soldiers emerged on stretchers.


Many others carried or limping. They surrendered their weapons. General Zorin seen here speaking with the Azov commander.

KOVALOV (through translated text): There was no provocation from either side. Everyone behave professionally. There was no provocation from either side.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Kovalov says he went with the soldiers as they were taken deeper into Russian occupied Ukraine.

KOVALOV (through translated text): We have shown that these communication bridges work. The main thing is the desire of people to hear each other and go towards each other. Still, not everything is loss in this life, you can still be a human. Even at war.

MARQUARDT: Kovalov tells us that he continues to try to work on bringing home those remaining fighters who were at Azovstal. He says there are around 2,000 who are still being held in Russia or Russian- held territories. And for his work in Mariupol, the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence wrote a commendation letter to Parliament praising Kovalov for his important and invaluable help in ending the siege at Azovstal.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Lviv.


NOBILO: In the coming hours U.S. President Biden will welcome European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to the White House.

FOSTER: The two are set to discuss continued cooperation on Ukraine. Other talks will also focus on China as well as investments in clean technology. Von der Leyen is headed to Washington on the heels of her visit to Canada as she pushed to more access for Canadian raw materials that are needed for Europe's climate strategy.

The former governor of South Carolina heads to Iowa to drum up support for her presidential campaign. We'll tell you what she is saying about proposed changes to Social Security.

NOBILO: And later, lawmakers in Washington are demanding answers for a recent train derailment or a spate of them across the U.S.