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CNN International: At Least 100 Killed After Fire Breaks Out at a Wedding; Judge Finds Trump & Adult Sons Committed Fraud for Years; Biden Visits Picket Line to show Solidarity with Workers; Thousands Bound for U.S. Camped at Mexico-Guatemala Border. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired September 27, 2023 - 04:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Well, hello there and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us and United States and all around the world. I'm Bianca Nobilo.

MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: I'm Max Foster, joining me live from London.

Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A wedding tragedy in Iraq. At least 100 people are killed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A real blow to Trump. The judge finding that he engaged in fraud for a decade by inflating the value of some of his marquee properties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you really want to get to Donald, the way is do it is through his bank book.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From Mexico to the river banks of Eagle Pass, thousands of migrants have crossed the border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sophia's pain as she remembers saying goodbye to loved ones.


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

FOSTER: It is Wednesday, September the 27th, 9:00 a.m. here in London, 4:00 a.m. in New York, 11:00 a.m. in northern Iraq, where a wedding celebration is turning to tragedy.

At least 100 people were killed and 150 others injured when a fire broke out at a wedding hall in the north of the country. A wedding guest says the bride and groom are devastated, but are actually fine.

NOBILO: Firefighters are searching the burned out building for survivors, and the prime minister says officials will, quote, do everything they can to help those affected by the sad incident.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is following developments here in London.

Salma, what more are we learning for authorities and eyewitness accounts of what unfolded?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, this is very much still ongoing. But what we do know is that last night, there was this huge wedding celebration for this young couple. Eyewitnesses say 1,000 people gathered in this one venue, this one huge haul. And again, according to eyewitness accounts that I've heard, the moment where the couple were slow dancing, sparklers we're going, off fireworks were going off inside the hall, that caught the ceiling on fire, that was decorated, as you can imagine, with vinyl and other highly flammable materials. And the exterior of the building was covered in something highly flammable and illegal, echo ban panels, those are actually banned according to Iraq's building code.

Those were coating the building. It essentially made it a tinderbox. And again, according to Iraq's civil defense, in a matter of moments, the whole building was on fire. Whole parts of it were on fire. People trapped behind these portions, unable to escape, that's why you're hearing from the health ministry that some of those who died, died during -- due to suffocation, they're not able to get out of that building.

Very preliminary reports here on the death toll and the injuries, at least 100 people killed, at least 150 people wounded. They're being spread out across multiple hospitals. I mean, this is a massive tragedy, no single hospital can take all of these victims.

Iraq's prime minister is on the way to the region, emergency services have been activated. But again, just a massive tragedy, and one that some of these guests are going to feel could've been avoided if building code was followed, if this flammable material was not coating the exterior of this building.

NOBILO: This area is no stranger to tragedy, and you know that firsthand, because you visited?

ABDELAZIZ: Yes, so this is an area that in 2014 was taken over by ISIS. And of course, it has a predominately Christian population, as you can imagine. That forced many those families to flee.

The area was absolutely devastated. It was liberated, I believe, in 2016 by U.S.-backed forces. And when he went into those areas, you just saw that devastation again. So this is very much a place that has been rebuilding, has tried to find life again in the last few years since the ISIS period, and a place that has also been rebuilding. So there's going to be a question mark over corruption, allegations of corruption have long plate Iraqi officials.

Many of these guests are going to ask why was illegal building material used on this wedding hall venue that led to the deaths

[04:05:00] NOBILO: Salma Abdelaziz, thank you so much.

FOSTER: Another legal loss for Donald Trump. A New York judge has found the former U.S. president and his adult sons liable for fraud after providing false financial statements for roughly a decade.

NOBILO: They are accused of inflating the value of multiple properties, including Trump's apartment in Trump Tower, by up to $207 million. The judge has also canceled the Trump organization's business certification in the state.

FOSTER: New York attorney general is seeking $250 million in damages, and wants to ban the chance in serving as officers of a New York business. She's also trying to stop them from doing business for five years.

NOBILO: In his ruling, the judge said, quote, a discrepancy of this order of magnitude by real estate developers sizing up his own living space for decades can only be considered fraud.

Here's what one CNN legal analyst had to say about the decision.


ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This was a summary judgment motion, which was in effect, the judge saying there is no reasonable question of fact. Even viewing the facts of the case in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. So, let's just assess the case from Trump's perspective. That's what the judge is doing as some of the motion, and saying, even under those circumstances, there's just no question. It is not out of the question. That this money gets appealed, gets affirmed, exactly as you know, in the form that it was written here.


FOSTER: CNN's Kara Scannell has more details on the ruling.


KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a huge loss for Donald Trump, for his family, and his family business. The judge finding that he engaged in fraud for a decade by inflating the value of some of his marquee properties, on financial statements provided in a number of business transactions, and the judge saying that Donald Trump's explanation for how he came up with the values for his assets. He called it a fantasy world, not the real world.

Specifically, he singled out Trump's triplex apartment at Trump Tower here in Manhattan. Trump had inflated the value of that property, including just the mere square footage by three times, something that he did acknowledge. The judge saying that could only mean fraud. Now, he also said that he was ordering that certificates of business to operate New York state canceled. And that he would put in place a receiver to dissolve the business, exactly what that would look like, remains unclear at this point. There's a lot of confusion even among the parties about how that will play out.

But it could significantly reshape what the Trump organization looks like and whether it has a footprint in New York City.

His son Eric Trump who essentially leads the company on a day-to-day business, said that both the judge and attorney general are trying to destroy their company. Now, Trump's attorney, Chris Kise, who's representing him in this action, said today's outrageous decision is completely disconnected from the facts and governing law. With the full impact of the decision remains unclear.

What is clear is that President Trump and his family will seek all available remedies to rectify this miscarriage of justice. They are already appealing before the appeals court, the start of this trial, because they think the judge has not implemented correctly what claims would be covered by this. So, they are hoping that the appellate court could narrow the scope of what the judge foreseen in this case to look at, saying that certain claims fell outside of the statute of limitations. We're expecting the appellate court to rule this week on that. But as of now, this trial is still in limbo, but is currently scheduled to start on Monday.


FOSTER: Donald Trump posted his own response to the judge's ruling online. He's accusing the judge of, quote, doing the bidding of New York attorney general. Trump says his company has been slandered and maligned by what he calls a politically motivated witch hunt.

NOBILO: Trump is calling on help from the highest courts in New York and the federal level for help. Michael Cohen, his former attorney says that the ruling was effective because it hit Donald Trump where it hurts the most, his wallet.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: If you really want to get to Donald, the way to do it is through his bank book. Not by saying he is a narcissistic sociopath, or, you know, look, he's definitely -- he's not 6'3". And he's not 215 pounds. You go after the wallet. Once you start getting that bank book, that is what really gets to him.


NOBILO: One of Trump's most outspoken critics is a former White House staffer and she's now warning that another Trump presidency would be in danger to democracy. Cassidy Hutchinson worked as an aide to Trump's chief of staff.

FOSTER: She testified about the former president to the January 6 congressional committee last year, and Hutchinson spoke to CNN's Jake Tapper about the threat that Trump is now posing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: For years, we have not held known Trump accountable for the things he says, and when he says those things, when he strikes -- when he strokes those vitriolic comments to people who've had profound careers defending our democracy, like General Milley, we need to take him seriously.

People have been holding him accountable for the past years, but obviously not accountable enough because we are in a position right now, where -- it's looking more likely than not that he can be the Republican nominee, and he has also been indicted four times.


To me, it's sad that we're in this place as a country where we are looking at somebody who has executed this horrible assault on our democracy and we are continuing to give this person a platform. That's not what we should stand for as Americans, and I think that Donald Trump is the most grave threat that we have -- that we is face our democracy in our lifetime, and potentially in American history.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: When he says he wants to use the Department of Justice to go after his enemies, like on truth social the other day. But he wants to curtail freedom of the press for certain channels and that sort of thing. You've taken literally. You think he actually means. And in the second time he would do that.

HUTCHINSON: I think that Donald Trump in the second term does not have, would not have any guardrails. I think we saw that at the end of the first term, with how things played out after he lost the election. He violated our Constitution in multiple ways. It is completely fine to file lawsuits in the country when states.

But what is not okay is when you threatened and assault the Constitution and our institutions of government. I would not put it past Donald Trump, Jake, to put those institutions of government in a worse position than what they were in the first time.


NOBILO: Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson speaking Tuesday with CNN's Jake Tapper.

FOSTER: Donald Trump says he, too, give a speech to autoworkers in Detroit today, but the head of the striker auto union says he will not meet with the former U.S. president, saying Trump blamed their union during the 2008 recession, and through the 2016 campaign, discussing moving jobs to the south where workers are paid less.

NOBILO: Trump will be in Michigan at the same day as the second Republican national committee debate. But he is not going to participate. Instead, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence and others will make their cases to voters.

FOSTER: President Joe Biden did something Tuesday that historians believe no U.S. president has done before and he visited a union picket line. Mr. Biden traveled to Michigan to show solidarity with striking

autoworkers who have walked off their jobs at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, in a dispute over wages, pensions and other issues.

CNN's Kayla Tausche reports.


KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden making history in Michigan using the picket line as the bully pulpit.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You've earned a hell a lot more than you are getting paid now. Thank you very much.


TAUSCHE: Standing with the United Auto Workers, nearly two weeks into a strike, backing their calls for a 40 percent raise.

BIDEN: You deserve a significant raise.

The working class people --

TAUSCHE: For Biden, who vowed to stay out of contract and legal talks, it's a political tightrope to bolster a core constituency.

BIDEN: I'm proud to be the most pro-union president in American history.

The president in June kicking off his 2024 campaign, flanked by dozens of unions endorsing him, but one was missing, the United Auto Workers, who's newly elected had just slammed the White House for awarding Ford $9 billion, saying the last time the federal government gave the Big Three billions of dollars, the company did the exact same thing, slash wages, cut jobs and undermine the industry that four generations created the best jobs for working families in this country.

Since then, Biden aides have hosted UAW leader Shawn Fain, and the White House has insured future loans with prioritized union jobs. Fain, who invited Biden to Michigan, but hasn't endorsed him yet, has high hopes.

SHAWN FAIN, UAW LEADER: We know the president will do right by the working class.

TAUSCHE: Fain says unions are having a moment.

FAIN: Whether we write movies, or performing TV shows, whether we're making coffee at Starbucks, whether it is nursing people back to health, we do the heavy lifting. We do the real work.

TAUSCHE: And Americans agree.

An August Gallup poll found support for unions at 67 percent, the highest since the 1960s, and 75 percent approval for UAW. But former President Trump also vying for the working class vote which

he won in 2016, making a Wednesday visit to the Wolverine State, and accusing Biden, his likely opponent, of riding his coattails.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: He's selling our automobile companies, everything, right down the tubes. So, I announced I'm going to Michigan, and then he announced 20 minutes later, I'm going to Michigan.


TAUSCHE (on camera): The White House denied that former President Trump's visit to Michigan played any role in Biden's decision to go. And the White House also tried to walk back comments by Biden that he supported the 40 percent wage increase that workers were seeking. But one official told reporters after reviewing the audio, that the president did say, yes, I think they should bargain for that.


Kayla Tausche, CNN, the White House.

NOBILO: The U.S. Senate has unveiled a bipartisan stopgap bill to avoid a looming government shutdown.

FOSTER: The Senate bill would keep the government funded until mid November and includes more than $6 billion in Ukraine aid, something many House Republicans oppose but House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says the chamber will consider a separate bill with border provisions likely on Friday.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I'll bring up the CR regardless, because remember what it is. This is a stopgap funding to keep government open and securing the border. I don't know that anyone is opposed to that. I think that is where people would want to be.


NOBILO: Speaker McCarthy's strategy to focus on border issues would set up a massive confrontation with the Senate over immigration on the eve of the shutdown deadline.

FOSTER: Calls are growing for Senator Bob Menendez to resign following the federal indictments, accusations him and his wife of bribery. More than half of the Senate's Democrats are now calling him to give up his seat, including his longtime friend and fellow New Jersey senator, Cory Booker.

NOBILO: But Menendez is refusing to step down, insisting instead that he is innocent and he is also dodging questions about whether or not he will run for re-election.

FOSTER: Menendez and his wife along with three New Jersey businessmen are accused of taking bribes to help the government of Egypt. The senator, his wife and two other defendants are due in federal court in Manhattan today.

NOBILO: Federal investigators say Menendez and his wife accepted cash, gold bars, luxury convertible, mortgage payments and other such considerations.

The months' long strike by Hollywood writers came to an end this last hour. The board of the writers guild gave its members per mission to go back to work, even before they vote on that tentative new agreement. But union members will vote next week and could still in theory refuse to ratify the agreement.

FOSTER: But settling the writers strike is just one part of getting Hollywood back to work. The actors union SAG-AFTRA is also striking but has not reached an agreement with the studios just yet.

NOBILO: Still to come today, as New York grapples with the migrant crisis, a judge orders a shelter housing asylum seekers to be vacated. We'll have details on that ruling.

FOSTER: Plus, alarm bills are ringing for the CEO of JPMorgan Chase over inflation and the Federal Reserve. Jamie Dimon's prediction for interest rates just ahead.

NOBILO: And the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and 17 states are suing Amazon, saying it stifles competition and pushes prices higher. But can they really force a change here? We'll hear from a legal expert.



NOBILO: In a setback for New York's mayor, a judge has ordered the city to remove migrants from a shelter on Staten Island that was once a private school. The judge says Mayor Eric Adams' administration violated local laws on zoning regulations and public comment requirements. The decision comes after a lawsuit was filed by a local resident whose property is adjacent to this former school.

FOSTER: The preliminary order is effective immediately and bans the use of the site to house migrants. The city started moving them there in August amid a record number of asylum seekers.

And that record-breaking surge is affecting countries besides the United States. The Mexico-Guatemala border is facing its own crisis as thousands desperate migrants stop there on their journey to the U.S.

NOBILO: But as David Culver shows us, they must survive dire situations before having any chance at a better life.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As you touchdown in southern Mexico, be ready to share the road with migrants. We spot group after group marching north. Many of those who just illegally crossed into Mexico head here, this outdoor park turned migration processing center.

We met folks camping out for day, some weeks, waiting to climbing asylum in Mexico or to get transit documents to pass through legally. Or to sign up for -- well, some aren't quite sure what they are signing up for, but they do it anyway.

Rafael Torres Marti (ph) from outside Havana, Cuba, at 26, he sold his house, left behind his 6-year-old son and traveling north with his dad.

He wants to go legally into the U.S., so he wants to go through it process here, get his documentation and get to the northern border and eventually cross.

He wants to pave the way for the rest of his family to follow.

Hido Duarte (ph) travelled from Honduras with his wife and their two young boys. He's done this before.

Four years ago, he lived in Minnesota, said he was painting water towers, water tanks, and he said that he was deported from Minnesota to Honduras and now making the trek again.

In the already impoverished state of Chiapas, Tapachula feels the migrant strain. It is overflowing.

A lot of it is just waiting to get into the office and processed eventually. You have people from all over. We've met people from Haiti, from Cuba, from Honduras, and here for many an unknown period of time.

Last year, Mexico says some 77,000 migrants applied for asylum in Mexico, more than half of them do it in Tapachula, this year on track to be nearly double that, a record high. Not everyone sees it as a burden.

Some of the Mexican locals, all these people who are not from Mexico, are a business opportunity. Look over here, you can see some of the stands that are set up to sell food, vendors.

To get to Tapachula, it's an hours drive or a day's walk from the Suchiate River. Guatemala on one side, Mexico on the other.

And in the shadows of the official crossing between the two countries, an armada of rafts casually ferrying group after group.

She says it is hard to eat. And you can tell that they have just such a rush of emotion when they get to this side. Some come ready to just continue on.


Others like this Mikele Marchan (ph) and her husband Javier Bien (ph) using this as a moment to catch their breath.

Wow, they're having their first child. She's five months pregnant. Days earlier, they cross the treacherous jungle terrain of the Darien

Gap, connecting Colombia and Panama. All they own now fits in this small bag. They were robbed and held at gunpoint for hours. But that does not compare, they say, with what they saw.

Oh, my god, they are just describing passing through the Darien gap and they said several people were already passed away, a lot of kids. They saw the remains, and he says, children who were abandoned.

Those images haunt Suzannah Alaman (ph). Describing the journey she made with her for young kids, but even admits to her tear filled pain, little ones lighten the load.

He got a little shampoo left in his head.

His 12-year-old sister Sophia helping to clean it out, as Jo Andre (ph) then turns the questions on me.

Oh, she says I'm older than her dad.

Curiosity brings their siblings and cousins. And Jo Andre takes over the mic, telling me why they left Venezuela.

Six years old, even speaks of Venezuelan economy as bad.

But as they share, disturbing memories surface.

They're talking about, these are children mind you, having gone through the Darien and the bodies that he is describing, seeing a blond woman.

Sophia's pain as she remembers saying good-bye to loved ones.

Heartbreaking the friendships that she's lost.

So much behind them, yet far from over. More than 1,000 miles until the U.S. border.

David Culver, CNN, Tapachula, Mexico.


FOSTER: An amazing piece.

Now, JPMorgan Chase agrees to multimillion-dollar settlements over its ties to Jeffrey Epstein. We got details of that coming up.

Plus, home and rental prices are soaring across the United Kingdom and there's no relief in sight. We'll hear how families are coping with that stress.