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CNN This Morning

North Korean Leader Meets with Putin in Russia; McCarthy Opens Biden Impeachment Probe without Floor Vote; Escaped Killer Armed and on the Run 2 Weeks after Prison Break; Hurricane Lee Prompts Tropical Storm Warning for Bermuda. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 13, 2023 - 06:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. So glad you're with us. We've got a lot ahead today, so let's get started with "Five Things to Know" for this Wednesday, September 13.


New overnight, Kim Jong-un meeting with Vladimir Putin in Russia, with the North Korean leader promising to back Putin's "sacred" fight.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And House Speaker Kevin McCarthy ordering an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. The White House calls it evident -- an evidence-free goose chase.

And a new op-ed in the "Washington Post" argues President Biden should not run again in 2024. David Ignatius writes that running again risks undoing the president's biggest achievement, which he says was stopping Donald Trump.

HARLOW: And the manhunt for the escaped killer in Pennsylvania now enters week two. Police say he is armed, desperate and dangerous, and now his mother is speaking out.

MATTINGLY: And it was certainly tearing up Poppy's heart --


MATTINGLY: -- last night. Seeing 'N Sync reunited after all these years on the stage of the VMAs. Oh, yes.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

HARLOW: We will get to Phil's news about 'N Sync.

MATTINGLY: Did you say they were the anthem of your childhood?

HARLOW: You do not tell people things I say when we are not on camera. We're going to get to that in a moment and have a little fun.

But serious breaking news overnight is this. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin meeting face-to-face in Russia as U.S. officials sound the alarm about the potential arms deal ahead. They met at a space rocket launch facility in Russia's far East. Putin needs weapons and ammunition for his brutal conflict in Ukraine,

and U.S. officials tell CNN North Korea is looking to do a deal in exchange for satellite and nuclear submarine technology.

MATTINGLY: With Putin by his side, Kim Jong-un vowed to stand by Russia as the conflict grinds on, with no end in sight.


KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): Russia is engaged in a fight for justice to defend the sovereign right and security interests against the hegemonic forces. I will always be standing with Russia. I'm using this opportunity to make it clear.


MATTINGLY: It was a marathon multiday journey for Kim Jong-un in his armored train from Pyongyang all the way to Siberia. It's the first known trip outside of North Korea in almost four years.

CNN senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is live for us in Moscow. Matthew, I think the big question right now is, what are the tangible kind of deliverables coming out of this meeting?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, in terms of tangible deliverables, there haven't been any. I mean, there's been a shroud of secrecy over the whole process. We didn't know at any given time where Kim Jong-un, the reclusive North Korean leader, was actually located.

And then he popped up at this Cosmodrome, the Vostochny Cosmodrome, thousands of miles from Moscow, of course, in the far East of Russia, where he met with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and they discussed, you know, behind closed doors, according to the Kremlin, a whole range of issues, from you know, food supplies, to military interaction, to the issues of space.

Before the talks got underway, Putin said that -- you know, he hinted that Russia would help North Korea achieve their objective of getting satellites into space. They've tried and failed over the past several months to do that.

And of course, you just heard the supportive words from Kim Jong-un, as well, when it comes to Russia in its fight against what he calls imperialism. Obviously, a metaphor there for reference, rather, to the Western United States, in particular.

But there's been no specific deal. They haven't signed anything. And any deal they have done has been done behind -- behind closed doors and is secret.

But it doesn't mean they haven't discussed the delivery of weapons. Russia, of course, desperately needs weapons and ammunition, particularly on the front lines in its fight in Ukraine.

And of course, North Korea has vast stockpiles of Soviet-era ammunition that's been -- it's been building up for the past 40 years. But it could transfer to Russia, according to experts, within a matter of days if that deal is done.

And, of course, you know, what could Russia give North Korea in return? Well, you know, there's already been, as they were meeting, two rocket launches from North Korea into the Sea of Japan, further kind of threatening or destabilizing that Korean Peninsula area and that entire region.

And the big concern is that, if it gets ammunition from North Korea, what will Russia give North Korea in return -- Phil.

HARLOW: That's the big question, right? Big picture, Matthew, what comes out of this? I mean, you heard the North Korean leader say that his trip to Russia was a clear manifestation of North Korea prioritizing the strategic importance of that relationship. What does come next?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, look, I mean, it depends on what they've agreed behind closed doors. And as I say, that's not being made public. It may never be made public, or certainly not for the foreseeable future.

But yes, look, I mean, from a north Korean point of view, they are looking to Russia to provide them with technological knowhow, so they can improve their missile technology; they can improve their ability to get satellites into space.


But of course, we all know the launch vehicle for satellites into space is also technology that can be applied to -- to missiles, as well.

And that's what the big geopolitical concern is around the region and around the globe. That this sort of alliance, if you like, between North Korea and Russia may have negative consequences both in the region, in the Asian region, and in the battlefield in Ukraine, as well.

MATTINGLY: All right. Matthew Chance for us, thank you.

HARLOW: Let's talk about, really, all these significant developments overnight. CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger is here.

David, you know this just about as well as anyone, and better than most. What does this mean, all of this language? Because they're saying a lot, by the way, both sides, in -- about this meeting.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Poppy, they are. I mean, first of all, what a meeting of pariah states, right? Can you think of two countries that are more sanctioned by the West at this point than North Korea and Russia? Hard to come up with a list.

So they've got one unifying concept. The second thing I think we've learned out of this is that, a little

more than 18 months into this war, the war itself has become the central organizing principle of Vladimir Putin's foreign policy.

He was not planning on having to go deal with this issue in the middle of 2023. He thought it would be, you know, well in the rearview mirror.

Instead, he's searching around for the arms he needs, and North Korea has a number of advantages. A lot of aging stocks of tanks, artillery, mines. And remember, he's lost a lot of stuff in the course of -- of these 18 months. So he needs replacements. They may not be the highest-tech stuff, but at least it will give him something to put back on the battlefield.

And Kim, as Matthew pointed out, has had a very difficult time getting satellites up into the air. We don't know exactly why he's had this much trouble.

In the past, the United States and others have run operations to complicate their missile launches. We don't know if that happened in this case. But he needs some help.

MATTINGLY: To that point, David -- and Matthew mentioned it. You mentioned it, as well. The -- this is one of those moments where, particularly if there are no documents signed or no declarations released, people are trying to read the tea leaves, including where they actually were.

Being at the Cosmodrome. Do we have a sense -- Russia is notoriously very tight, and they hold close to the vest their technology, particularly on weapons systems. Do we have any sense right now of what they might be willing to transfer, given kind of their desperation when it comes to what they need from North Korea?

SANGER: Well, Phil, that is the big mystery.

You know, over the years, the North Korean missile fleet has been very heavily focused on -- on weapons-based technology. They've gotten some stuff from the Chinese, but mostly they've gotten the stuff from Russia. And that has made a significant difference to them.

The question is what else is Kim ready to give them -- I'm sorry, is Putin ready to give them, including satellite technology, something that Kim needs a good deal of.

So it's going to be interesting to see what leaks out. You know, the Russian spokesman said clearly there would be agreements that were not made public. So I'm sure that's the focus of American and other intelligence agencies now.

HARLOW: Absolutely. What don't we know? The key question. David Sanger, thank you for your insights this morning -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Well, from that major news to this major news. This morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is moving to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden. It is certainly rattling Washington. It's going to have widespread repercussions around the country heading into 2024.

The unilateral decision comes less than two weeks after McCarthy said he would not open an official probe without a floor vote. McCarthy has been facing pressure, however, behind the scenes from hardline conservatives for weeks, and this appears to be his attempt to keep members from rebelling ahead of that critical government shutdown deadline, and from forcing a vote to remove him from his job entirely.

CNN's Lauren Fox joins us now.

Lauren, it felt like this was moving in this direction. I think the big question is do Republicans you are talking to feel like they actually have the evidence to move forward here, or was this purely Kevin McCarthy trying to survive another day?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, this moved much more quickly, Phil, than anyone had thought it would. We expected that by the end of the week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy would make it clear to his conference that he supported opening this inquiry.

But doing so just hours before the House came back into session was certainly a very big development.


The other thing that was so interesting is that you had a number of Republicans getting back into Washington, some of whom had not supported the idea of moving forward with this impeachment inquiry, having to sort of get their arms around the new idea, that this is the direction that the House is moving.

Like you noted, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had made it clear to his members that he thought he would bring a vote to the floor of the House if he moved forward with this step. Making the announcement was obviously something very different.


FOX (voice-over): Emerging from his office on Capitol Hill, the speaker of the House delivered this declaration.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Today I'm directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

FOX (voice-over): Speaker Kevin McCarthy claims there are questions about whether President Biden financially benefited from his son Hunter Biden's foreign business deals and answers are needed.

MCCARTHY: These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption. And they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives.

The American people deserve to know that the public offices are not for sale and that the federal government is not being used to cover up the actions of a politically associated family.

FOX (voice-over): The White House firing back immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth is that the president did nothing wrong, that the Republicans in the House are wasting millions and millions of taxpayer dollars.

FOX (voice-over): House Democrats also quick to respond.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): There is not a shred of evidence that President Joe Biden has committed a crime. This is an illegitimate impeachment inquiry. Period. Full stop.

FOX (voice-over): While the House-led GOP investigations have yet to provide any direct evidence of wrongdoing by the president, McCarthy's move is seen by many Democrats as caving to pressure from his right flank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a purely political partisan game that they're playing at the behest of Donald Trump to protect him, to distract from him, and to try to help him in the election in 2024.

FOX (voice-over): On the Republican side, not all members are on the same page, including one key member of the House Judiciary Committee.

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): I have not seen that links President Biden to Hunter Biden's activities at this point. I will be getting a briefing later in the week. I'm looking forward to understanding more of what the Oversight Committee has uncovered, but at this point, I have -- I have not seen that evidence.

FOX (voice-over): The inquiry comes as a September 30th deadline to keep the government, and avert a shutdown, looms. It also coincides with threats to bring forward a motion to remove McCarthy as speaker.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): We have got to seize the initiative. That means forcing votes on impeachment. And if Kevin McCarthy stands in our way, he may not have the job long.


FOX (on camera): And House conservatives, Phil, did not waste any time making it clear that opening this impeachment inquiry was not going to help Kevin McCarthy when it came to trying to figure out a path forward to fund the government.

You had the House Freedom Caucus holding an hour long press conference yesterday, making it clear that they will not support a short-term spending bill. And you have some of those members threatening to oust McCarthy if he tries to bring one to the floor -- Phil.

FOX (voice-over): Lauren, if you could stick with me for a second. Because the thing I'm fascinated by here is there are 18 Republicans and a very narrow majority that represent districts won by President Biden. They are all up for re-election in 2024 and are frontline, top targets for Democrats. Where are they on this? FOX: Yes, I spoke with one Republican member, Don Bacon, yesterday. He

has been on the fence about opening this impeachment inquiry. And he said, Look, I would feel differently about this if I saw direct evidence.

He said that he thought that the committees on Judiciary and Oversight were doing good work. But his argument was you have to have direct evidence tying the president to his son's business dealings.

And there are a lot of Republicans, like Ken Buck in that piece, who are making it clear they do not see that evidence yet.

You can expect that the Oversight Committees, Judiciary Committee staffs, they're going to be doing their work to try to educate members on what they have found so far.

But obviously, a lot of Republicans still have questions about what direct evidence there is. And at this point, there has not been any that those committees have uncovered -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: A pretty critical point. This is a new day in Washington and throughout the country heading into a presidential election cycle. Lauren Fox, appreciate it from the Capitol -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Phil, thank you.

Police say an escaped murderer is now armed with a stolen rifle equipped with a scope as this manhunt in Pennsylvania enters its second week. We'll take you live to the search.

And ahead, the new op-ed that is encouraging President Biden not to run for a second term.



HARLOW: Welcome back to CNN this morning.

Police in Pennsylvania warning the convicted killer who escaped from prison two weeks ago is, quote, "armed and extremely dangerous." A homeowner reported firing shots at someone that matched Danelo Cavalcante's description after that person stole a rifle from his garage in what police are calling a crime of opportunity. They believe he is desperate enough to use it.

Danny Freeman joins us live again this morning in Chester County, Pennsylvania, with more. Danny, what are police saying? Where are they looking now?

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, police are still at this point focused on this latest perimeter here in South Coventry Township.

But frankly, the latest is that Danelo Cavalcante is still armed, still dangerous and still on the loose. We did see some police activity overnight, but at this point, no confirmed sightings.

We do expect to see some fresh law enforcement agents coming in as this shift change begins in the next hour or so.

And this recent show of force -- you can still see it behind me -- is all after those two big sightings on Monday evening. And just to recap, the first was at 8 p.m., where a woman who was driving along a road in the search area says she thought she saw Cavalcante crouched down on the road.

Officers came to investigate. They found footprints, and they also found Cavalcante's prison shoes.

And then, of course, the second sighting was a little less than two hours later, when Cavalcante stole that rifle from an open garage and evaded gunfire from the owner of that home.


But Poppy, I want to bring up some new reporting that came out yesterday afternoon, actually from "The New York Times." It's worth mentioning, because "The New York Times" actually went out to a rural area of Brazil. And they were able to interview Cavalcante's mother.

Cavalcante's mother came into play, because earlier in this investigation, she actually recorded a recording of herself speaking in Portuguese, urging Cavalcante to surrender. And police helicopters blasted that message from above.

And "The New York Times" interviewed her, and she told them that, basically, Cavalcante at this point is just fighting to survive. Her quote being directly, "His training was his suffering. It was going to sleep hungry. It was waking up as I wondered what to feed them." That's from Iracema Cavalcante.

She says that they grew up poor, her children. And they grew up always working. And that that challenges -- those challenges and those hardships really have led to this continued escape here.

Again, Poppy, though, we're on day 14 right now. Police still saying they're holding this perimeter. We're all waiting to see if a capture comes out of this now.

HARLOW: Danny Freeman, that's fascinating to hear what his mother had to say about how he was raised and how that might contribute to his success, evading authorities now. Thank you very much -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Well, this morning, Bermuda is under a tropical storm warning as Hurricane Lee keeps growing, as it moves North in the Atlantic. The Category 3 storm has sustained winds of 115 miles an hour.

Meteorologist Derek van Dam is tracking Lee in CNN's severe weather center. Derek, I was asked yesterday by somebody, do you know if this is going to hit the East Coast? And my first response was, I'm not Derek van Dam, but my second was people have been watching this. It has been hanging out there for a couple of day. What is the latest on the path?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, the consensus now brings a real potential New England strike. So whether or not it's going to be a landfall, that's still up in question.

But we'll certainly feel the impacts from Boston to Portland.

This thing has ballooned since Saturday. In fact, the radius of the hurricane-force winds has tripled since Saturday, and the area of hurricane-force winds has increased by over nine times. And we expect the storm to continue in its wind field, its spread, its impacts by the weekend as it parallels the East Coast.

We think tropical-storm-force winds will extend in diameter about 700 miles across the entire storm. That's the same distance from Detroit to Boston.

So my point being that the impacts will be felt well outside of the center of the storm.

We anticipate the earliest arrival time of tropical-storm-force winds from Boston to Portland, late Friday into the early morning hours of Saturday.

This is going to be a monster wave machine, increasing the rip tide -- the rip threats across the entire Eastern Seaboard. Currently, a Category 3. Notice that bend in the official forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. They are starting to notice that.

And one thing to note here, Phil, is that is going to produce rainfall in a very saturated environment. There's rain moving through some of the hardest-hit areas in Massachusetts now. Additional rain means the potential for flooding this weekend across New England.

MATTINGLY: All right. We're keeping an eye on that going forward. Derek, thank you. OK.

HARLOW: Now, do you know how to answer that question?

MATTINGLY: Yes, watch Derek van Dam in the morning.

HARLOW: Do you know about these USB ports?


HARLOW: There's news, I'm told.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Your enthusiasm is palpable.

HARLOW: Apple has unveiled its newest iPhone, which will change the way we charge our phones, I'm told. For the new iPhone 15, Apple is getting rid of the lightning port and charger after 11 years and turning to a USB-C charger. So this is the old one. Is that right?

MATTINGLY: Yes. You know. You have phones.


MATTINGLY: And electronics.

HARLOW: But I do not pay attention to this, though. I have very old phones.

And this is the new one, and it's compatible with non-Apple products?

MATTINGLY: Yes, but it's also compatible with the newer versions of the iPads and the computers that plug in. So it's helpful, because we need to streamline. Sorry, my getting in.

HARLOW: I have a very old iPhone. The iPhone 15 features updates to the camera, a brighter screen. It will be available for pre-order starting on Friday.

MATTINGLY: The critical component is when traveling with children, you can have, like, one cord, as opposed to a box full of 700.


MATTINGLY: Never finding the right one to charge something when the kids are screaming at you.

HARLOW: Yes. When you have eight children --


HARLOW: -- you need that.


HARLOW: Four. And they are delightful.

MATTINGLY: Well, thank you. Yours are pretty great, too.

HARLOW: They are great. Now this.

MATTINGLY: All right. Well, heartbreaking numbers out of Libya this morning. At least 5,300 people are now presumed dead after catastrophic flooding there, many more still missing. We're going to have the latest for you ahead.

HARLOW: We will also, of course, take you live again this morning to Morocco while -- where people are digging through the rubble, still trying, praying to find their loved ones and possessions from the homes that have been destroyed.


SAM KILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And it's similar scenes in every village on every hilltop in this region in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. It's as if a giant running downhill has stamped -- stamped out the life, crushed the futures of the inhabitants of these villages.




MATTINGLY: There's a new op-ed in "The Washington Post," urging President Biden not to run again for president.

Columnist David Ignatius writes, quote, "I don't think Biden and Vice President Harris should run for re-election. It's painful to say that, given my admiration for much of what they have accomplished. But if he and Harris campaign together in 2024, I think Biden risks undoing his greatest achievement, which was stopping Trump."

Recent polling suggest that many Democrats agree with Ignatius. Sixty- seven percent of Democratic-leaning voters said they'd prefer a different Democratic nominee.

Let's bring in CNN senior political analyst John Avlon. John, two things I want to get to right up top.

The reason why this is different from other op-eds is the White House reads David Ignatius.


MATTINGLY: He's not just a critical kind of longstanding voice in Washington, D.C. This White House cares what David Ignatius thinks. President Biden cares what kind of old bull columnist -- and I don't mean that in a pejorative way whatever -- have to say. There's no question about that.

The second is it doesn't matter, because there's no other Democrat running at this point that has a chance.

AVLON: At this point. But, no, this op-ed is going to be a gut punch to the Biden White House, exactly for the reasons you said. Biden respects Ignatius.