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CNN International: United Auto Workers on Strike at Three U.S. Plants; Hunter Biden Indicted on Gun Charges; Trump Says He Discussed Pardoning Himself But Dismissed It; Spain's Ex-Football Chief Due in Court Over Kiss; Arm Stock Surges 25 Percent in Nasdaq Debut; Lampedusa Experiences Surge in Migrant Arrivals. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired September 15, 2023 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEWSROOM, I'm Max Foster. If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top stories this hour.

10s of thousands are feared dead in Derna, Libya, just days after a massive flooding wiped out the city. And the United Nations says 300,000 children are at risk for disease and displaced.

CNN has learned that U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy next week. Both leaders are expected to address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

Members of the United Auto Workers have launched targeted strikes at three U.S. plants after their contracts ran out late last night. It's not a full-blown walk out of all 145,000 Union members, but it's the first ever simultaneous strike against the big three U.S. automakers, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis. Union members are demanding an immediate 20 percent pay rise, plus another 5 percent annually for the next four years.


JIM FARLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: 40 percent will put us out of business. We would lose $15 billion. We would have to plant -- cut, cut people, close plants. What's the good of that? It's not a sustainable business. That --there's a fine line here that we won't go past.

SHAWN FAIN, UAW PRESIDENT: These companies got to come to the pump for the for their workers. They want to call them family when it's when, it's when, it's when it's easy. But you know what? The proofs in the pudding. And you know what? They haven't been there. They haven't taken care of their workers. We went backwards in the last 16 years. Backwards, while the CEOs gave themselves 40 percent pay increases in the last four years alone. Profits have been through the roof, $250 billion in profit in the last decade.


FOSTER: And let's get more on this now from CNN's Gabe Cohen.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While the head of the Auto Workers Union, Shawn Fain, confirmed to me that there will be no bargaining he says between the Union and the three big automakers on Friday. The focus instead will be on scenes like the one behind me, the 13,000 auto workers now striking here in Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. The tactical strikes that we have been talking about for days are now underway.

We're not likely to see any progress until at least Saturday, according to Fain, although he said the only chance of coming back to the table on Friday is if one of those automakers Ford Stellantis or General Motors brings a new offer to the table. He and many of the strikers that we've met tonight said that they are ready for the long haul here.

Gabe Cohen, CNN, Wayne MI.


FOSTER: Now for the first time in U.S. history, the Justice Department has indicted the son of a sitting president. Hunter Biden was indicted on Thursday by a special counsel with the Department of Justice on three felony gun charges, for allegedly lying on a form whilst purchasing a gun in 2018, for lying to a federally licensed gun dealer. And for illegally possessing the gun whilst he was addicted to crack cocaine. If convicted on all counts, Hunter Biden could face up to 25 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines. His attorney vows to fight the charges.


ABBE LOWELL, HUNTER BIDEN'S ATTORNEY: This charge brought today violates the agreement the government made with Hunter Biden. That was a stand-alone agreement, different than this plea. And second, the constitutionality of these charges are very much in doubt, and Hunter owned an unloaded gun for 11 days. There will never have been a charge like this brought in the United States.


FOSTER: Hunter Biden's attorney also blames far-right Republicans for pressuring the special counsel, quote, to do something to vindicate their political position.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Getting Hunter Biden on the gun charge is like getting Jeffrey Dahmer on littering.

REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): The reality is, as I as a Democrat, and saying that if Hunter Biden, the president's son, committed crimes, he should be held accountable for them. You don't hear any Republican saying that if Donald Trump committed crimes, he should be held accountable for them.


FOSTER: Trump wasn't charged with any crimes whilst in office, but since leaving the White House he has been indicted four times and faces 91 charges in four criminal cases. Now he's revealing that he discussed pardoning himself in the final days of his presidency.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could have done a pardon of myself. You know what I said? I have no interest in even thinking about it. I never even wanted to think about it. And I could have done it.


And all of these questions you're asking me about the fake charges, you wouldn't be asking me because it's a very powerful -- it's a very powerful thing for a president. I was told by some people that these are sick lunatics that I'm dealing with, give yourself a pardon. Your life will be a lot easier. I said I would never give myself a pardon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if you were reelected in this moment?

TRUMP: Well, I think it's very unlikely. What -- what did I do wrong? I didn't do anything wrong. You mean because I challenge an election, they want to put me in jail?


FOSTER: Well, legal experts are split on whether a presidential self- pardon is constitutionally sound, and such pardons only extend to federal crimes. So if Trump were to be reelected, he would not be able to pardon himself if he's convicted of state crimes.

Spain's former football chief Luis Rubiales is due to appear in a Madrid courtroom in the coming hours. Thus, after prosecutors submitted a complaint against him for sexual assault and coercion over his unwanted kiss on the lips of player Jennifer Hermoso, after women's World Cup final last month. Al Goodman joins me now from Madrid. This is where it gets really serious, isn't it, Al?

AL GOODMAN, JOURNALIST: That's right, Max, this hearing is due in the next few hours in this national court building here in central Madrid behind me. It's closed to the media, all around me and close to other observers inside, according to the court, will only be the judge, the prosecutor, Rubiales, his defense lawyer and possibly the lawyer for the player, Jennifer Hermosa, but not the player herself.

Now the two charges, sexual assault. The prosecution service tells CNN that that the language of that sexual assault charge in the Spain -- Spain's Penal Code, has only been there since last year. Because a new law was passed last year by the leftist government to clamp down on sexual assault and that required affirmative consent from a person receiving, in this case a kiss, not just being silent, you have to say yes.

It's a sign of the changes going on in Spain between the old way of looking at things and this new thing of trying to get gender equality. Mr. Rubiales says that the consent was -- the kiss was consensual. The player says it was not. The second charge, coercion, prosecutors say that the player says that she was pressured after that kiss, which was seen around the world right after the Spanish women teams won the World Cup just about four weeks ago. Global television audience and inside of the stadium, thousands of people watching this kiss, she says she was pressured later by Rubiales and people around him to come out and say, yes, it was consensual. And that's where that charge is.

It's a very preliminary hearing. There is certainly no trial. It's an investigative stage right now. But it's not the only thing going on because Rubiales three weeks ago today defiantly said he would not resign. But he did resign last Sunday.

And now, in the coming hours this afternoon in Madrid, the new coach of the women's team, who is a woman, who was a formerly an assistant coach, she will announce at the federation headquarters the names of the female players who are expected to play on the team's next game, which is next Friday against Sweden. So a lot of changes going on, but the attention right now is on whether Rubiales or his lawyer will say anything as they come in or leave the courthouse -- Max.

FOSTER: Yes, this is his chance to put on the record his side of the story, isn't it? Effectively. And as I understand it, he's got this key piece of evidence, which is a video of the female player on the bus after the match, where she's actually laughing about the kiss.

GOODMAN: That's right. But she says -- she says there have been a number of videos. She says that on the same video there, this is locker room video going around that made it out to social media. She says, no, she didn't like this thing. And she has since said that this was definitely not consensual. And experts on these kinds of incidents say that people may do different things. But in this case the player is saying that she did not think it was consensual. She didn't like it. She felt like she was a victim. This is what she has told prosecutors.

And this is why the case is coming up here to the court. And so it is very, as you mentioned here at the beginning, very serious time for Mr. Rubiales who just a few weeks ago was at the top of his game, the women's team had won their first ever World Cup for Spain -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Al, appreciate that. Thank you very much for joining us from Madrid. Back with you for updates, of course.

Now still ahead, tensions flare on Lampedusa as it struggles to cope with an influx of migrants. We hear from the Italian Red Cross, which is working on that island next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) FOSTER: The European Central Bank has raised interest rates to the highest level since the launch of the single European currency, the euro, over 20 years ago now. It increased its benchmark rate by .25 percentage point to 4 percent. ECB President Christine Lagarde signaled the central bank was likely done with its protracted campaign of rate hikes to tame stubborn inflation.


CHRISTINE LAGARDE, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK PRESIDENT: Based on our current assessment, we consider that the key ECB interest rates have reached levels that maintain for a sufficiently long duration will make a substantial contribution to the timely return of inflation to our target. Our future decisions will ensure that the key ECB interest rates will be set at sufficiently restrictive levels for as long as necessary.


FOSTER: Earlier this week, the European Commission downgraded its economic forecast for the year and for next. It now expects the EU economy to grow by 8 -- rather .8 percent in 2023.

Wall Street climbed Thursday as investors cheered the market debut of the British chip designer Arm. It was the biggest IPO in nearly two years and could pave the way for more to come as well, CNN's Anna Stewart reports on that.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: It was priced at $51 a share, but on its first trading day, this stock popped more than 20 percent, closing the session at nearly $64 a share, which values Arm holdings at more than $65 billion.

RENE HAAS, CEO, ARM HOLDINGS: It's a great day for the company. It's a great day for our employees. It's a great day for anyone who has worked for Arm in our 33-year history. It's my first time through an IPO process. Our bankers say if you can price at the high-end of the range and go out of that number, it's a good thing and that's where we ended up so couldn't be more pleased.

STEWART: It's also good news for Japanese investment firm SoftBank which still owns 90 percent of the company. It bought the chip designer for just $32 billion back in 2016, doubling its return in seven years.

The investor appetite came despite concerns over Arm's exposure to China, which accounts for around a quarter of its sales via a company called Arm China. Now that is a separate entity which Arm does not control. And according to the IPO prospectus, it has a history of late payments, which could, quote, have a material adverse effect on the business.

There's also the political risk. Tensions between Washington and Beijing over chip technology remain high. This was the biggest U.S. listing in nearly two years. Fears over a recession and higher interest rates have suppressed valuations and IPO appetite. But Arm's debut could pave the way to a new wave of IPOs.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


FOSTER: The mayor of Lampedusa says the migrant crisis has reached a point of no return. Tensions flared on the Italian island as it struggles to cope with the surge of arrivals in the past two days. There are unconfirmed reports of 7,000 people landing on its shores. Lampedusa's population of about 6,000. Tiny Island in the Mediterranean has long been a hotspot for migrants crossing from North Africa into Europe. Some migrants say they've been welcomed by the island's residents, while some locals say the influx of arrivals must stop.


NABY BANGOURA, MIGRANT FROM GUINEA (through translator): I took a flight from Tunis and from Tunisia I arrived in Italy, in Lampedusa. They welcomed us. They gave us food. There were people who came to take pictures. Italy is good and they welcomed us. I'm proud of Italy.

GIANDAMIANO LOMBARDO, LAMPEDUSA RESIDENT: We, the people of Lampedusa acts that you keep this island out of this situation. We no longer have the possibility of bearing this burden from a psychological and humanitarian point of view.


FOSTER: Here's what we're seeing and how it fits into the bigger picture. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, migrants made more than 230,000 EU border crossings in the first eight months of this year. That's an increase of nearly 1/5 and is the highest total for that period since 2016. Most of those arrivals are coming through the central Mediterranean, as we're seeing in Lampedusa. The number of crossings on that route is almost doubling.

Joining me now from Lampedusa is Rosario Valastro. He is the President of the Italian Red Cross and joins us from Rome. Thank you so much for joining us. Just hearing there from some people living on Lampedusa. I mean, it is a huge pressure on the island, just expressed to us what it's like there, what it looks like and how it feels with this influx of people coming in.

ROSARIO VALASTRO, PRESIDENT, ITALIAN RED CROSS: Well, actually the situation is very difficult because as you said, almost 7,000 people arrived in two days. And of course they arrived with their own boats. And so, the situation was not simple to face with. We try to do our best. Italian Red Cross is on the island, in the hot spot, from the 1st of June. And we ensure the food and the water and a place to sleep and the possibility to Colome. But of course the center is for 600 people, not for 7,000.

So now the situation is going -- is going much better because thousands of these were transferred in in other centers in other part of Italy. And actually the problem is like a structural problem because all the people that came from Libya or from Tunisia, arrived with their own boat to this small island. And it's not possible to ensure more services in Lampedusa.

So there is the necessity to take them in other parts of Italy. And I would like also to say that it's true that the people living in Lampedusa are really, really very generous. They are doing their best also. But they can do impossible things.

FOSTER: No, and their patience is going to run out, isn't it, at some point, because this is their home. Clearly, the numbers keep going up and up all the time. I know there are efforts by governments and authorities to try to resolve this crisis, but it's not working. Isn't it? I mean, what sort of advice are you giving the authorities?

VALASTRO: Well, actually the problem is that the phenomenon of migration is a natural phenomenon. It exists the since the men and the women were in the water. But it can be solved. It can be we could -- there is the necessity that with this phenomenon, all the international institution face. Because it's not like a problem of Italy or of another country. It's a problem now all the Europe and all the Africa, and not only.

So the if the international institution can't speak, don't speak to each other. There is not the possibility to solve it. It's not something because when the people arrive in thousands because there is a good sea, because the weather is good, you can't solve it alone. You have to solve with the, I think, for the beginning understanding which are the problems that have the people that choose to leave their own countries. If we don't understand the problem, we will not have the solutions.


FOSTER: You obviously speak to many of the people coming in and they've got desperate stories, haven't they? You know, they're determined because they don't want to go back to where they came from, right? So just explain to us, you know, some of the stories that you're hearing and why these people are so, you know, desperate and will go to these lengths to escape what they're escaping.

VALASTRO: Well, there are very different stories because something -- some of them are escaping from war. Some of them are escaping for -- from poverty or desertification. Some of them came from Bangladesh, for instance. So they do like an incredible route to arrive to the Mediterranean Sea. And most of them had a very terrible route because they had the violence the women also, they stayed in jails, they lost friends and relatives or parents during the route.

There is the -- we don't have the real numbers, but almost 40, 30-40 percent of people that leave from the African North Coast do not -- don't arrive to Sicily because they die in the sea. So you can imagine that when a person arrive and then all these terrible experiences, it's actually really in a bad conditions and sometimes there are also the children. Because the parents have not the money to go with them and they put the children in the boat so that they can have a better future. It's a very huge humanitarian problem and that's why it can be solved if the international institution talk about it.

FOSTER: OK, Rosario Valastro, you're doing incredible work. Well, all of the aid agencies out there, we're under such pressure. Thank you so much for joining us from the Italian Red Cross.

VALASTRO: Thanks to you.


FOSTER: U.S. aviation authorities say they may grant SpaceX a launch license for its Starship by the end of October. Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, is meant to take humans on Lunar and Mars missions, but it was grounded after exploding after the -- or rather over the Gulf of Mexico during a test launch in April. The rocket also damaged the launchpad and started a large fire in the nearby park, raising environmental concerns. Last week, the FAA said it had completed its safety investigation. It required SpaceX to make some corrections, which are subject to an environmental review.

The American caver rescued more than a week after he became seriously ill deep below the ground says he has no plans to stop exploring. Mark Dickey even says he hopes to go back inside the Cave in southern Turkey, where he was stuck for so long.



MARK DICKEY, RESCUED AMERICAN CAVER: I will definitely continue to explore caves. There's risk in all of life and in this case, the medical emergency that occurred was completely unpredicted, unknown and it was a one off. But you can get into a car accident. You can -- countless people get injured in their own bathrooms, in their own bathtubs and showers. Why would I stop exploring? Like, honestly, caving is one of the safer sports that's out there.


FOSTER: Well, a massive rescue effort involving teams of cavers from around the world worked to bring Dickey back to the surface of course. There he is.

And now to American football where Aaron Rodgers says surgery on his torn Achilles tendon went great, and he's thanking his medical team for starting him on the road to recovery. The New York Jets quarterback posted an update on Instagram on Thursday with a photo from his hospital bed, thanking everyone for their love, prayers and support. Rodgers injured his left foot on Monday on the 4th play of the Jets game against the Buffalo Bills.

A fashion statement by Princess Diana just sold for a fortune at auction. This is the "Black Sheep" sweater that the late Princess wore to one of Prince Charles's polo matches in 1981 not long after their engagement. Sotheby's sold it on Thursday for $1.1 million -- would you believe? That makes it the most expensive piece of Diana's clothing ever auctioned. The designers say they found it in an attic earlier this year.


JOANNA OSBORNE, DESIGNER: We just assume that we probably sent out as an order or it got lost in the mist of time. We really didn't know. So I was, my God, I really think this might be something. We got on the phone with Sunny, and said, I think I found it. I think I found it by accident.

SALLY MUIR, DESIGNER: It's very old jumper already and we didn't really want the responsibility. It's time for somebody else really to have the responsibility of looking after it.

OSBORNE: It it's an incredible thing. It just keeps on. It's enduring. It keeps on giving.


FOSTER: The auction lasted 2 weeks, with a bidding war breaking out in the last 15 minutes. It was pretty exciting.

And it's a special day for Diana's youngest son as well. 39 years ago today, she gave birth to Harry and showed him off a few days later. The Duke of Sussex isn't in London right now, though. He's been at the Invictus Games this week in Dusseldorf, in Germany. He founded the Games to recognize wounded and sick servicemen and women. So happy birthday to him.

Thanks for joining us here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. "EARLY START" with Kasie is up next here on CNN.