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CNN This Morning

South Korean Media Reports, Kim Jong-un Appears to be En Route to Russia; Morocco Earthquake Death Toll Rises to 2,497 Killer; Search for Escaped Killer in Pennsylvania Now a Nationwide Manhunt. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired September 11, 2023 - 07:00   ET




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning, everyone. It is Monday, September 11th, the 22nd anniversary of the September 11th attacks here in the United States. We're going to cover all of those remembrances throughout the course of the morning.

But let's get things started with five things to know. It will be those ceremonies and remembrances. We will be watching them.

But also this morning, South Korean media is reporting that Kim Jong- un appears to be on his way to Russia. They believe he's traveling by train. And if you remember last week, U.S. intelligence said that Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin might meet to discuss advancing arms negotiations between their two countries.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And it is a race against time in Morocco. Nearly 2,500 people now confirmed dead after that powerful earthquake, the next few hours critical for emergency workers trying to rescue survivors.

And the escaped murderer on the loose in Pennsylvania slips through the police perimeter. He was spotted 20 miles away after stealing a van. He also looks quite different. This is a new photo showing him clean and shaven wearing a green hoodie.

MATTINGLY: And Hurricane Lee has strengthened back to a Category 3 storm as it nears Northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Now, it's too soon to tell what impact Lee could have on the U.S.'s East Coast.

HARLOW: Right now, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth is erupting in Hawaii. Officials say the volcanic activity confined to the Hawaii Volcano's National Park and that there's no threat to surrounding communities.

CNN This Morning starts right now.

We do begin, of course, right here this morning. Breaking news, South Korean media is reporting that North Korea's Kim Jong-un is on his way to Russia. This coming just days after U.S. intelligence said Kim and Putin could meet to discuss a potential deal to supply Moscow with more weapons for its way on Ukraine.

Let's go to our Paula Hancock. She is live in Seoul, South Korea. With everything we're learning this morning, this was expected but now we know more.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy, yes. The reports are that Kim Jong-un is currently believed to be on his armored train heading northeast towards Russia. Now, we know also from Russian state media that Vladimir Putin has arrived in Vladivostok, in the eastern part of the country, for that eastern economic forum. And this is where Kim Jong-un is believed to be heading, Vladivostok as well.

Now, we haven't got it completely confirmed at this point, but as you say, it was expected. This is what U.S. officials, backed up by South Korean officials, as well and intelligence here, had said last week, saying that they believed that the leaders would be meeting potentially this month.

They do believe that they are working towards an arms deal. They know that Russia, for example, wants ammunition, it wants small arms. And we all know, backed up by analysts, that North Korea has some significant production capability when it comes to this. So, both sides stand to gain from any potential deal. But it is a meeting that neither Washington nor Seoul want to see go ahead.

So, from Russia's point of view, they are looking for more arms to take to the front line in Ukraine. And we know that North Korea, for example, is looking for a number of things. It's looking for satellite technology, for example, from Russia. It would like to have more core nuclear and missile technology information. And this is potentially the sort of deal that we could see.

It's been four years since these two leaders met, the first and only time that they met back in 2019. Nothing particularly noteworthy came out of that meeting. But now fast forward four years, an awful lot has changed. And it does appear, according to U.S. and South Korean officials, that Russia now needs North Korea and that Vladimir Putin is looking to do some kind of deal with the North Korean leader.

So, certainly, it shows from Kim Jong-un's point of view, his diplomatic priorities. Washington has been reaching out to Pyongyang on a number of occasions over recent months, and it has effectively been ignored.

But we are seeing, for example, in July, the Russian defense minister being invited to Pyongyang, the red carpet treatment, he saw a military parade with Kim and his daughter. And he was taken through an arms expo in Pyongyang. So, all the weapons and armory capabilities that Pyongyang possesses were on show for the Russian delegation and the defense minister.

The first time a Russian defense minister has been to Pyongyang, in fact, since the fall of the Soviet Union. [07:05:01]

So, there is no doubt that this relationship is getting much closer. It is a worry for those in the region and for Washington, and it appears that Kim Jong-un is on his way to meet Putin.

HARLOW: Paula Hancocks, significant reporting. Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Well, breaking just moments ago now, nearly 2,500 people are confirmed dead in Morocco as the death toll from Friday's catastrophic earthquake continues to rise. Right now, rescuers are racing against time to save survivors. That critical 72-hour window to find people alive in the rubble is closing fast.

Now, rescuers have been struggling to reach remote mountain villages where people have been left without food, water or power. This is new video from our team on the ground this morning.

HARLOW: Just utter devastation in some of these villages. It's stunning. This was a community where about 100 families lived. It's now a heap of stone and concrete.

Our International Correspondent Sam Kiley joins us live from one of the hardest-hit villages. You're there. You're talking to people. Last hour, we heard you speaking with the man who lost both of his parents from this earthquake.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. What we got here in Asni, which is about two miles from Moulay Brahim, which is further up into those hills, and it is up in those hills where this earthquake has most catastrophic, the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.

Here in the foreground, though, you've now got the government, military swinging into action, building displaced people camps. Of course, shelter has been utterly shattered for these people, have lost their homes throughout these mountains, which are very, very inaccessible. But there is now a massive both private and public aid effort going. Roads are jammed with vehicles as much as they are in some parts with rocks.

But, this was the scene in those remote villages just yesterday.


KILEY (voice over): Another victim buried, returned to the earth that killed when it shook. More than 2,000 people have perished in the worst Moroccan earthquake in over 100 years. Most of the deaths were in villages in the Atlas Mountains, where homes cracked and crumbled late Friday night.

The pancaking of these buildings down a side street here in Moulay Brahim killed 25 people. Three or four are still missing, believed buried in the rubble. And this is a pattern that has been repeated throughout this province. And it looks very often like there's been some kind of airstrike, the collapsing buildings here actually leaving holes as if they've been hit by Russian bombs in Ukraine. But this has been an all too natural disaster.

At least three elderly people have been entombed here in the remains of their hotel. And a fourth guest is missing. After the quake, Sami called his parents for a day-and-a-half. It rang out until the battery died, too.

SAMI SENSIS, PARENTS DIED IN EARTHQUAKE: I'm here just because I have lost two of my best things that I have in this life, my parents, my father and my mother, I have lost them here.

KILEY: His grief turns to anger at the government, as it does for so many here.

SENSIS: They have no planification. Only they have words. It's a balloon of words. Only they have words. That's all.

KILEY: Aid is arriving, but slowly. In Asni, nearby, authorities tell me that 27 people were killed in the quake and 1,200 lost their homes.

It has been said when they were in the house, she was in the bath when this series of explosions broke out. They said there was no shaking of the ground. She's saying that it felt like blast from a Kalashnikov automatic rifle, that this was like a sense that the place had been hit by a war. They had no idea that they were suffering from an earthquake.

Luckily for them, they evacuated their family very rapidly. Nobody in their family was killed. But in the village, there was -- 27 people were killed.

The house is now abandoned.

But Fatima led a team of local women to find food and shelter for the homeless before any aid arrived. All the food here, the result of private donations. Many villages here remain isolated, roads cut by landslides. Relief operations will focus on getting to them.


Firefighters consider searching for bodies beneath the hotel. Their conclusion is disappointing.

Amidst shocks and shattered masonry, it's just too dangerous to rescue the dead. So, for now, Sami's parents will stay buried where they are.


KILEY (on camera): Now, Poppy and Phil, the situation up in those hills remains unknown, even to the government for now. We were there up in the foothills just in the last hour. And we could hear helicopters were flying desperately trying to get out to those remote villages on hilltops to see what the conditions are, indeed, whether or not there are any survivors.

So, we have no idea whether that figure of 2,500, which has been more or less static for the last day, if you could call an incremental increase of few hundred as static in an earthquake situation, it could go up very significantly if the authorities discover more horrors deeper into the mountains. Poppy and Phil?

MATTINGLY: All right. Sam Kiley for us on the ground, keep us posted, please. Thank you.

Well, the manhunt for the escaped killer, Danelo Cavalcante, is expanding nationwide this morning. State police said he stole this dairy van, delivery van, from a West Chester farm and abandoned on Sunday it when it ran out of gas, slipping past the police perimeter before heading north. Officials say he's also changed his appearance. Remember this photo from the last week-plus, now, it's this, shaving his beard, cutting his hair and wearing new clothes.

CNN's Danny Freeman joins us live from Chester County, Pennsylvania. Danny, this is day 12. The last couple days certainly seen dramatic shifts. What are police saying about the fact they haven't captured him yet?

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Phil, there have just been a tremendous amount of developments over the past 48 hours. And this weekend really showed a fairly large setback for the manhunt for Danelo Cavalcante.

But, really, to understand why, I have got to go back to Friday and Saturday. Remember, just a few miles from where we are at the command center, the whole area was pretty much shut down. They had the largest police presence yet in this manhunt. Those two days, there were troopers searching trunks, putting their flashlights in cars. That was the environment that Cavalcante was able to escape from.

So, here is what we learned yesterday. Cavalcante slipped that perimeter. He stole a van from a nearby dairy farm, Phil, because the keys were actually left in that van. He then drove 20 miles north to Phoenixville, and that's where he was caught on that camera.

He was looking for help from an old associate. That associate did not help him, though. But that's where we got a look at his new clean- shaven look with the hoodie in tow. And then yesterday, police found that dairy van that he stole but Cavalcante was once again nowhere to be seen.

Now, Phil, we're getting new sound from an interview with a former roommate of Cavalcante's given to one of our CNN affiliates. Take a listen to what he had to say about this manhunt.


FRANCO, FORMER ROOMMATE OF ESCAPED PENNSYLVANIA INMATE: I had no idea he could do something like this. He like said he was someone super shy, like really quiet.

I just want him to be caught so I can sleep, I can go live my normal life, everybody can feel safe again.


FREEMAN: Now, Phil, state police, of course, say they wished that this had not happened, that he had escaped the perimeter. They say that no perimeter, of course, is 100 percent full-proof. But, listen, we're on day 12 right now. We've had a number of sightings. But at this point, still no capture. Phil, Poppy?

HARLOW: Absolutely stunning. Danny, thanks for staying on this story for us.

Ahead, politics, Nikki Haley seizing on the latest CNN poll, showing her new have the biggest lead in a hypothetical matchup against President Biden compared to her rivals, including Donald Trump, what she's telling CNN.

MATTINGLY: And a commemoration is set to begin at ground zero as our nation marks 22 years since the 9/11 attacks. We're going to be watching ceremonies and remembrances throughout the morning.




NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think the majority of Americans know we need a new generational leader that we need to need to leave the negativity of the past behind us. The majority of Americans don't want to see a rematch between Trump and Biden.

In terms of the primary, look, we're just getting started. Debate season is what kicks off the primary. We have made huge jumps in the primary polls so far, but this is the beginning of it.


HARLOW: That was Republican Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley taking aim at both the former and current presidents yesterday in her, really, it was a fascinating interview that Jake did with her.

Also, a new CBS poll over the weekend backs up her claim that Americans are ready for a younger generation of leaders. It showed really overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle for age limits for elected officials.

And it comes after multiple recent incidents or high-ranking, older politicians have faltered in the public eye, including this moment over the weekend where President Biden's press secretary seemed to have come in and cut him off as he trailed off answering questions that reporters were trying to ask him at this press conference. Watch.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It wasn't confrontational at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, everybody. This ends the press conference. Thanks, everyone.

BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you.


HARLOW: Let's bring in our team, CNN Political Analyst Coleman Hughes is here, Semafor Politics Reporter Shelby Talcott, and New York Times' Political Correspondent Shane Goldmacher. Good morning.

I actually want -- we're going to get to Biden in that moment. Nikki Haley, even you are surprised by the rise over the last three weeks since the debate.

COLEMAN HUGHES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, yes. If you had asked me three or four weeks ago who is going to see a meteoric rise given this first Republican debate and in the aftermath of it, I would not have guessed Nikki Haley. My guess would have been that the GOP is too taken in by the foreign policy isolationism that a candidate like Vivek Ramaswamy has put forth, that Tucker Carlson has put forth over the past few years, blaming America for the war in Ukraine.

But Nikki Haley has come around and has had a message that's much closer to what neo-conservative Republicans would have sounded like in the Bush era, that is pro the American military, that believes the military is a force for good.


And I think that's part of what has resonated with an older school of Republican that like that message in addition, of course, to her age.

MATTINGLY: Shelby, to that point, you know, when you talk to folks inside these campaigns, what do they attribute her rise to? Because the generational argument is the argument she's been making since day one, repeatedly. But to Coleman's point, has never shied away from her views on foreign policy, even if it has seemed a little bit out of step with where kind of the isolationist sect of the party has been, which I think early primary states sometimes will make that rise even more. What do you think is driving this right now?

SHELBY TALCOTT, POLITICS REPORTER, SEMAFOR: Yes. I mean, if you talk to her team, they'll say that they expected this from day one, obviously, but I also think she's been pretty consistent in what she's been saying on the ground, and she has been. She was the first person in after Donald Trump. So, she's been out there longer than any of these other opponents who are vying to compete with the former president, and I think that matters too.

Now, what I found really interesting about this poll in particular was that even though you see the CBS poll where of her where people want younger -- people want somebody younger, and then you also see this poll where she is clearly up big against Joe Biden. But the problem is Donald Trump is still up in the polls. And so the thing when I talk to voters about Trump is it's not even that they don't -- they aren't -- they don't view the electability argument as important, it's that they don't see that Trump isn't as electable. So, I think that's really interesting and that's going to be the big question for Nikki Haley and everyone else in the Republican field is how do you how do you beat that?

SHANE GOLDMACHER, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think we should put in context how much she's risen and not, which is that she went from the low single digits sort of to the high single digits in a lot of these polls. She's still really far behind Donald Trump. She's still pretty far behind Ron DeSantis.

And so this is a party that continues to be dominated by Republicans who are talking about a less engagement in the world. And she has picked off and maybe consolidated some support after that debate among that other part of the Republican Party. But it has yet to show up as a majority.

HARLOW: One area where she has distinguished -- thank you, Monday morning -- herself against even those on the debate stage with her was on the issue of abortion, right? And I want to play this exchange. It's between the vice president, Vice President Harris, and Margaret Brennan yesterday on Face the Nation.


MARGARET BRENNAN CBS NEWS HOST: What is it that you believe? I mean, what week of pregnancy should abortion access be cut off?

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We need to restore the protections of Roe versus Wade.

BRENNAN: But does it need to be specific in terms of defining where that guarantee goes up to and where it does not, which week of pregnancy?

HARRIS: We need to put back in place the protections of Roe versus Wade.

BRENNAN: You know why I'm asking you this question, though. Because --

HARRIS: But we're not trying to do anything that did not exist before June of last year. We are saying that it wasn't crafted into law.


HARLOW: Will not, shall we, will non-direct answers like that from this administration bolster Republicans' argument when they make claims about where Democrats stand on abortion and where this administration stands?

TALCOTT: 100 percent, because the big argument that you hear from Republican candidates is that Democrats won't say when they want abortion to be banned. And so you take answers like that, and you've heard Nikki Haley, she said that on the debate stage. So, yes, of course that these kinds of answers or non-answers are going to be used by Republicans to bolster that argument.

MATTINGLY: To that point, though, you know, what's interesting is this is delicate, while this is certainly an issue inside the Republican primary, inside the Republican Party, this is delicate inside the Democratic Party, too, because Democrats had legislation that went further than codifying Roe versus Wade, that the White House ended up getting behind. And I don't think the president was very comfortable with that. They have since kind of moved that back, which is where you saw the vice president right now. This is considered an electoral winner for Democrats and there's no ifs, ands or buts about it. Does it stay that way?

HUGHES: Yes, I think it likely will. And I think you'll see the candidates, like Nikki Haley, that are positioning themselves as moderates on most issues. They are going to be appealing to Independents and even to some Democrats that don't want to vote for Biden but don't want to vote for an extreme Republican candidate that's going to take a very radical position on abortion. And that's I think why we're seeing someone like Nikki Haley doing so well in a head-to-head matchup versus someone like Joe Biden.

MATTINGLY: Shane, can I ask you, you know, what we saw at the press conference before the president -- I think it was actually when the president arrived in Vietnam. I've seen so many of those moments where, look, to be completely candid, staff is making him look worse than he does when they do stuff like that.


He was sitting there answering the question and they play the like end of the Oscars. Your speech is over. Jazz music is Karine Jean-Pierre, gets on the mic and tells him to end.

I understand there's a lot going on behind why they do that, but those moments, what do they say right now?

GOLDMACHER: I mean, I think it's a tough place for him to have his staff intervening, and you've seen it throughout his presidency, where he'll say something and they come in after that to clean it up. This isn't exactly what he meant and sometimes it was actually what he meant.

It's just another reminder that age is going to be a huge issue in this campaign. It's going to be a big issue for Joe Biden. It could be a bigger issue for Donald Trump in the future, although voters have not perceived him as old as he is or as old as Trump.


GOLDMACHER: He doesn't look as old, right? Like if you've tracked Joe Biden over recent years, you can see some of the physical decline. You can see the way he walks, just simple things you can see with your own eyes. I think that's been a little less apparent with Donald Trump.

HARLOW: Thank you guys very much. I appreciate it.

MATTINGLY: Well, a legal setback for former Trump Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, a judge ruling he cannot move his election subversion case from Georgia to federal court. What that decision could mean for former President Trump, that's next.



MATTINGLY: This week, the judge in the Georgia election.