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Iran Expected to Release Five American Prisoners Today; Today, Stellantis to Meet With UAW as Strike Enters Day Four; L.A. County Says, New Lead in Deputy's Murder, $250,000 Reward Offered. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired September 18, 2023 - 07:00   ET




And Coach Brian Daboll's Giants, they look like they were cruising for another bruising, down to the Cardinals, 20-0 at half time, meaning they have been outscored 60-0 since the start of the season.

I hope someone recorded coach's half-time speech because Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley led four touchdown drives after that. Jones hit Isaiah Hodges to tie the game at 28. They did get the ball back. Jones drives in the field goal range, and Graham Gano, Ga-yes, Giants rally for the 31-28 win.

A bit of sad scary news for the Giants still, Saquon Barkley, potential injury dealing with moving forward.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That was a good one, Coy.


WIRE: Well, thank you very much.


HARLOW: (INAUDIBLE) as Gano and Ga-yes.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, buddy, as always.

CNN This Morning continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news, Iran set to release five American prisoners at any moment. Right now, a jet is on standby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: $6 billion of frozen Iranian accounts for Iran to use for humanitarian goods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump's interview included a long list of deceptions, half truths and outright lies. DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't consider us to have much of a democracy right now. Free speech is shot. These are banana republic indictments. I'm not anywhere near 80, by the way, but I will be toward the end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They want to see those 40 percent wage increases, potentially four-day workweeks, job security against the E.V. transition.

SHAWN FAIN, PRESIDENT, UNITED AUTO WORKERS: The membership is fed up. It's been decades of falling behind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's time. It's time. We're due.


MATTINGLY: And we do start with that breaking news this morning. As things currently stand, Iran is set to release five American prisoners. Right now, a jet is waiting on the tarmac in Qatar to bring them home. They have not gotten there yet. But under this deal, the U.S. has unfrozen $6 billion in Iranian assets for Iran to use for humanitarian purposes.

HARLOW: We should note the Biden administration has agreed to release five Iranians detained here in the United States, notably two of them will stay here in the U.S.

We have team coverage of all of these headlines this morning. CNN National Security Reporter Natasha Bertrand has more details. Let's begin though with our colleague, Becky Anderson. She is live on the tarmac at the Doha International Airport.

This is where the Americans will land about two hours after they take off from Tehran, but what can you tell us in terms of timing.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yes. This is what we know at this point. That flight, the Qatari jet has been on the ground in Tehran now for about three hours or so. And a source familiar with the briefing, with the matter, says that that is the flight, that is the jet that these Americans, these five wrongfully detained Americans will board on a flight, which will come here at some point. They hope today and they will be transferred into American hands. The American negotiators are here in Qatar.

Qatar has played an absolutely crucial role in what has been a very complex and complicated deal, a swap of these prisoners, these American citizens in Iran for five Iranian prisoners in the U.S., two of which have already said, according to reports, that they want to stay in the U.S., two of whom will be -- one assumes expatriated home, and another will go to a third country.

The other really crucial part of this deal, of course, is that $6 billion in what were frozen funds, Iranian cash, sitting in a South Korean bank account because of the U.S. sanctions. Those sanctions have been waived. And according to a source familiar with what is going on, as we speak, confirming that that $6 billion worth of assets, Iranian assets, have now been dropped here, transferred here, electronically transferred here to Doha.

So, that's as things stand at the moment, that jet still on the ground in Qatar, expected to leave in the hours to come. The money, according to the source here involved with the matter says that the transfer of funds from South Korea is complete.

HARLOW: Becky, thank you. Please stand by as we wait for that jet to take off.

And, Natasha, I want to go to you and the reaction in Washington. Obviously, there have been critics of this, there have been questions raised about the $6 billion. It is Iranian money, but still a number of Republicans criticizing that. What are you hearing?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONNAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Poppy. So, look, this is a deal that has been in the works for the last seven month, and, in fact, the U.S. has been trying to negotiate with the Iranians for the release of these Iranian-Americans for just over two years, so, obviously something that the administration has been working pretty hard to secure making a key pillar of its foreign policy objectives over the last several years.


And now they see obviously a breakthrough about to happen. But the key caveat here is that $6 billion in funds that are going to be unfrozen and allowed to be given to Iran through a Qatari bank account that will essentially monitor the disbursement of these funds so that Iran can use them for humanitarian reasons.

That has prompted a lot of backlash by Republicans, as you mentioned, in Congress, who are equating this payment essentially as a ransom. They say that this is not the way to deal with the Iranians and that giving them this money, which, again, is Iranian money that has been frozen for the last several years, will only encourage them to take more Americans hostage, to take more Americans prisoner.

Now, the administration says, look, this is the best possible outcome here. The funds are only going to be used for humanitarian reasons and they will be closely monitored by the U.S. Treasury Department and Qatar. So, not money that's going to be flowing directly into Iranian coffers by any means and importantly not U.S. taxpayer money. Again, these are Iranian funds that are simply being unfrozen, guys.

MATTINGLY: Anderson on the ground for us in Doha. Thank you very much. We're going to continue to cover this throughout the course of the morning. Christiane Amanpour will be back with us on set shortly. Stay with us on that front.

But also this morning, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries was on the picket line alongside members of the United Auto Workers Union.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): What they're fighting for fundamentally is the American dream. And so we stand with the UAW as they fight for a fair contract, as they fight to benefit from the fruits of their labor.


MATTINGLY: It's an unprecedented strike against the top U.S. automakers, and it's now entering day four. Negotiators are set to return to the bargaining table today after failing to reach a resolution over the weekend.

Now, the union is making some ambitious demands for benefits they gave up when the companies were once facing bankruptcy during the Great Recession. Now, all three automakers, they're reporting record or near record profits.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich live in Wayne, Michigan with more. Vanessa, you've covered this so closely, you've spoken to all of the key parties here. What are the key sticking points as we enter day four?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The key sticking points are really what we've seen from the very beginning. We know that they've tried to get closer, especially on the wages, cost of living. But the two sides at this point still negotiating, which is great news, but still far apart. Stellantis is set to head back to the main bargaining table today. We saw Ford and G.M. meet at that main bargaining table at UAW headquarters in Detroit over the weekend.

But I want to bring in Julie Geierman. She is with Ford. Come over here for me. We work at this facility, this plant right here. I want to know from you, day four, how are you feeling? How is the mood out here today?

JULIE GEIERMAN, FORD EMPLOYEE: I think it's very lively. We're ready to stick it out as long as we need to, hoping that this is a short strike. But I have every confidence in the world that the UAW will get us a good contract.

YURKEVICH: And negotiations are about compromise, right? We know that the union has been asking for 40 percent in wage increases for the next four years. The automakers have come in at 20. Where's the compromise for you? Do you feel like there is a compromise?

GEIERMAN: I'd rather not say.

YURKEVICH: Do you want to see a compromise or are you sticking to --

GEIERMAN: A compromise is good, but I'd rather not say what the compromise is. I don't have a number.

YURKEVICH: Do you believe that the union will negotiate in terms of being able to compromise? Do you feel like that's something that they're willing to do or are they sticking to their guns on these demands?

GEIERMAN: I think they're willing to compromise. I think that's what it's all about.

YURKEVICH: Thank you so much, Julie Geierman. I appreciate your time. So, in the next couple of days, we are expecting Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and Senior White House Adviser Gene Sperling to come to Detroit to get involved in these negotiations, to try to move them forward, to try to hammer out a deal, so Julie doesn't have to be here on the picket line for that much longer.

Also, Phil, to point out, just across the border in Canada, the union, Unifor, which represents over 5,000 Ford workers, may go on strike tonight if they don't reach a deal by 11.59 P.M. So, that is, of course, complicating the strike happening on this side of the border here in the U.S. Phil?

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's a fascinating new dynamic to an already very complex set of dynamics. Vanessa, Yurkevich, great reporting is always. Thank you. Poppy?

HARLOW: Also this morning, the Los Angeles County is offering a $250,000 reward for any information as to the shooting of Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer.


He was shot and he was killed inside his patrol car on Saturday.

Officials say they believe he was potentially targeted and ambushed.

Our Camila Bernal is following all of this from L.A. He was wearing his uniform. He was inside his patrol car and the authorities believe this could have been intentional targeting of him. What do we know this morning?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, the sheriff is saying it could have been just because he was wearing his uniform. And now all available resources are being used to find the person or persons responsible for this, the sheriff vowing to find whoever did this.

I want to sort of go over the timeline of what happened here. You mentioned he was in a marked patrol car in uniform on duty. He was just leaving the station actually on Saturday night at around 6:00 P.M. in Palmdale, which is about 60 miles north of L.A., and he stopped at a red light. There is video obtained by CNN that shows a car driving next to his patrol car and then speeding away.

Now, what authorities say is a vehicle of interest is a 2006 to 2012 dark gray Toyota Corolla. And they're asking for videos, for information, for anyone to take a look at this because they say it could be the missing puzzle piece. They're wanting information from the public and they've offered a $250,000 reward, part of that reward coming from the city of Palmdale.

I want you to listen to what the mayor here had to say.


MAYOR LAURA BETTENCOURT, PALMDALE, CALIFORNIA: Let me be crystal clear. This was an act of murder. This individual or individuals are spineless criminals and our community will join together to bring them to justice.


BERNAL: And there was a procession this weekend to honor and remember his life. He was 30 years old. He'd served with the department for eight years. This was family calling. His father, his grandfather, all served the sheriff's department here in Los Angeles. He got engaged four days before he was shot. The sheriff just saying, look, he had so much left to live.

Of course, they are upset, they're angry and they're vowing for justice. This is a family, a department, and really a community that is grieving this loss, Poppy.

HARLOW: Thinking of all of them, especially his family this morning. Camila, thank you for the reporting.

BERNAL: Thank you.


MATTINGLY: Well, former President Trump, who paved the way for Roe vs. Wade to be overturned, says Republicans, quote, speak very inarticulately about abortion. Where the candidate stands, CNN is live on the campaign trail, coming up.

HARLOW: We are also following this breaking news. Five Americans set to be released from Iran at any moment will bring you the latest.



MATTINGLY: And back to our breaking news this morning, we have just learned that the Americans who are set to be released in Iran are right now being transported to a Qatari jet in Tehran. That's what a source briefed on the situation tells CNN. We're going to take you live to the airport in a few moments.

HARLOW: Meantime, the politics in the U.S., former President Trump over the weekend refusing to take a clear stance on abortion restrictions while taking credit for the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. He also, interestingly, criticized many of his fellow Republicans in terms of how they've handled this issue. Listen.


TRUMP: DeSantis is willing to sign a five-week and six-week ban.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Would you support that? Do you think that goes too far?

TRUMP: I think what he did is a terrible thing and a terrible mistake. I think the Republicans speak very inarticulately about this subject.

Other than certain parts of the country, you can't -- you're not going to win on this issue, but you will win on this issue when you come up with the right number of weeks.


HARLOW: Let's talk about that. Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins us live on the campaign trail in Des Moines, Iowa. I know the sun is not up, but this came out in the interview yesterday morning. I just wonder how people there in Iowa particularly are responding to those comments from the president, former president.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, those comments certainly will be reverberating because, A, the former president is coming here to Iowa later this week to Dubuque County, a heart of the Catholic community, and also, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, the Republican, has signed an exact same law that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did in Florida, that six-week bill. Now, that is being held up in a legal challenge here.

But this is the central issue here. Abortion certainly has been something the former president has not wanted to engage in. He believes it's a losing issue, in his words, for the party, as the midterm elections last year, have showed.

But this is -- there's no question that there is a huge debate, a divide inside the Republican Party on this. That was made clear here over the weekend when his rival candidates expressed their views at a faith and freedom dinner for evangelical voters here in Des Moines.


NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The debate is whether there should be a federal law.

If you go and you put this ban of 15 weeks, and what does it do? It has everybody running from us.

I'm going to fight on the side of life every chance I get, but I'm not going to demonize people in the process.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I must tell you, I think we ought to ban abortion across America from that point that a baby can experience pain in the womb forward. It's a 15-week minimum ban. I believe it's an idea whose time has come.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I think the states have done the better job thus far. Congress has really struggled to make a meaningful impact over the years.


ZELENY: So, the Florida governor has also tiptoed around this a bit, has not necessarily repeated his past support for signing that bill, but has not stepped away from it directly either. But there is no doubt, the former president's comments over the weekend make clear that abortion will indeed be front and center in the final four months of the Iowa caucus campaign. And evangelical voters, of course, play a huge role in the Republican caucuses here.

For now, the former president holds his grip on most of those evangelical voters.


But the reaction from those comments certainly will play a role into all of this as this keeps playing out here in Iowa, again, less than four months now until the Iowa caucuses. Phil and Poppy?

HARLOW: Jeff Zeleny, fascinating, thanks very much.

MATTINGLY: Let's bring into the table CNN Political Commentator, former White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah Griffin, CNN Senior Political Analyst and Anchor John Avlon and CNN Political Commentator in New York Magazine Columnist Errol Louis. Guys, welcome. Thank you for being here.

I want to dig in on the abortion piece and where that stands in the debate in a minute, but I kind of want to start when it comes to Trump's interview with the fact that he's been indicted four times. He tried to overturn an election. And we're having a policy debate, which is a good debate to consider and weigh, and it's what Republican voters particularly, as Jeff points out, in Iowa do actually care about, but he's up 60 points right now.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, exactly, it's absolute crazy town. I mean, in that interview alone, I thought Kristen Welker did a fantastic job. But, I mean, he incriminated himself again, he took responsibility for saying that it was my idea.

MATTINGLY: Actually, I want to play that. It's a great point. Can we play that sound real quick?


WELKER: The most senior lawyers in your own administration and on your campaign told you that after you'd lost more than 60 legal challenges that it was over. Why did you ignore them and decide to listen to a new outside group?

TRUMP: Because I didn't respect them.

WELKER: Were you calling the shots, though, Mr. President, ultimately?

TRUMP: As to whether or not I believed it was rigged, sure. It was my decision. But I listened to some people. Some people said that.


GRIFFIN: I mean, if it's insane that in the year of our Lord 2023, we're still debating this. And he is, as you mentioned, Phil, 10, 20, 40 points in Iowa ahead of his GOP rivals. This is a man who tried to overturn our democracy.

And, by the way, I mean, a lot of the polls show kind of head to head with Joe Biden. If he loses, what's to say he won't do it again, and if he wins, that's a whole other Pandora's Box of problems for our country.

HARLOW: Errol, it also complicates the defense efforts. I mean, all his attorneys were coming on the air after this indictment saying there's nothing wrong with following the advice of legal counsel.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. In fact, it's a pretty good defense, actually. But if you throw it away on national television, that is no longer available to you. Or at a minimum, you're setting yourself up for very uncomfortable cross-examination in these criminal charges.

HARLOW: Right, because they also say he would testify.

LOUIS: That's right. He said he would testify. He will have, like I said, a very difficult cross-examination. He also sort of just like ladled, layered one statement on top of another, saying that he might have pardoned himself, he might pardon himself in the future, he might pardon half the people who got convicted on January 6th for those violations. He really sort of put front and center an issue that, believe me, Donald Trump does not want the conduct of his attacks on democracy to become a central issue in this next election. He's not going to win that debate.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And yet that is the debate. That is the conversation that we should be having. And, look, let's not forget, I mean, Alyssa was in the Trump White House, and she's one of dozens and dozens of senior staffers --

GRIFFIN: They're ringing this alarm bell for some time.

AVLON: -- who are now warning the American people and the Republican Party that this man represents the threat to the Republic. The most recent person on that bandwagon apparently is Jenna Ellis, his former lawyer who was pushing these lies, now calling him a malignant narcissist.

So, again, go with the people who know you best, but, no, this interview was a disaster from a legal standpoint, clearly, and could represent a possible rupture point.

GRIFFIN: And, quickly, it does show the tension you run into when you're running for office, but also running against four different indictments. So, he, you know, wants to be on air, he wants to be talking to the public and doing interviews, but then he runs into saying things that self-incriminate and that put his legal cases backward.

MATTINGLY: But it's also -- I feel like this is -- that was actually the best capture of this entire campaign season of the other candidates running in this race, having policy debates, acting like the other stuff related to the former president, who's leading the primary by 50 points doesn't exist, like it's 2012 all over again or early 2015, and Trump coming out and doing what he did, I mean, talking about conspiracy theories related to the election. It's just the same person he's always been.

GRIFFIN: And also realistic on the abortion issue, which, at the end of the day, Iowa voters are going to say, Donald Trump got me Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett and Brent Kavanaugh. He's sufficiently pro-life. He played the biggest role in getting Roe overturned. So, they can argue about weeks that will not break through.

The reason that people are losing by 40 points to Donald Trump is they did not litigate the case of his unfitness and the fact that he basically tried to overthrow our republic. You're not breaking through on a policy matter at this time. We are, what, four months from the Iowa caucuses, five months from New Hampshire. That's not fundamentally changing at this point. It's never historically happened, I should say.

HARLOW: Can I ask you about something that's not getting all the headlines this morning, but is really critical, John, and I think speaks to what is happening in this country politically? The attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, gets acquitted by the Senate after the Republican-led House overwhelmingly votes to impeach him, I think it was 121 to 23, over all of these alleged wrongdoings.


What does that tell you?

AVLON: It tells you we've got a breakdown of law and order and accountability in the face of hyper partisanship and fear of the MAGA wing of the party. And that's what some of the senators said, you know, there's an attempt to intimidate.

And as you say, it was a Republican -- overwhelmingly Republican Texas House that, you know, voted to impeach him on a great deal of evidence. And the problem now is that hyper partisanship trumps, no pun intended, basic fundamental facts.

HARLOW: And, remember, he was part of the effort to really push to try to overturn the election results.

AVLON: Absolutely. And I just want to draw the connection also with the McKay, the McKay Coppins-Romney interview the other day, where Romney recounted the partisan pressure he felt during the first impeachment, where he felt he was the only Republican who was trying to do his constitutional duty and not saying, no, we're going to put partisanship ahead of principle. This is an endemic problem right now. It is in the water.

LOUIS: The fact that he may, in fact, lose his ability to practice law is one of many, many problems that Ken Paxton still faces. FBI has been looking into him for years. You know, eight of his deputies called the FBI and said there's ethical problems in this office. You've got to do something. He's got a mountain of sleaze that led to that impeachment in the first place, that led to his near removal over the weekend, and that are still going to sort of dog him.

I don't know what his future in public life is like, but the reality is if Republicans in Texas or anywhere else are going to sort of cling to this standard, I think he really represents the first in a major state to sort of get some of the -- you know, something resembling some of the Trump treatment where people say, if it's between my candidate and the law, I'm going to choose my candidate.

GRIFFIN: And, by the way, Mike Allen had some great reporting in Axios that Donald Trump was actually playing in this race. He had actually talked about primarying some of the senators, so they chose to vote with what's politically expedient over what's right. And, once again, similar to Donald Trump, it may be that the legal system catches up to him before the political system does.

MATTINGLY: Yes, one just takes longer than the other. And Trump's ability to meddle in literally everything, whether it's impeachment or state races, it didn't do great for them in the midterms.

HARLOW: We'll have you guys back next hour. Thank you very much.

MATTINGLY: Well, happening soon, five Americans are expected to be freed from Iran. The U.S. is also releasing five Iranians from U.S. prison. New details are coming in. We've got Christiane Amanpour and David Sanger with us to go through all of it.

Stay with us.