Return to Transcripts main page
CNN This Morning
North Korea Says, Country Has Decided to Expel American Army Private Travis King; New York Judge Rules Trump Committed Fraud in Building Real Estate Empire; CNN Crews Capturing Crisis from Mexico to New York. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired September 27, 2023 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: To expel U.S. Army Private Travis King after completing their investigation into his crossing into the North from South Korea.
That was during a tour of the joint security area in July. North Korea claims that King, quote, confessed that he illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK as he harbored ill feelings against inhumane maltreatment and racial discrimination within the United States Army and was disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: It is unclear from the KCNA report where, when or how King would be expelled.
Joining us now from Seoul, CNN International correspondent Paula Hancocks and former CIA North Korea Analyst and White House official Sue Mi Terry joins us from New York.
Paula, I want to start with you. You've been following this throughout the course of the last couple of months. What's the latest, what do we actually know here?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Phil, everything we know so far has come from North Korea itself, from state-run media.
We haven't heard at all from Travis King since he crossed the MDL, the military demarcation line, back in mid-July, whilst on a private tour of the DMZ, a civilian tour. So, we do have to wait and see whether or not the confession they speak of is in fact accurate.
But as you say, they say that he confessed to illegally entering North Korea. They say they carried out an investigation over the past couple of months and that investigation is now over and they have decided to expel him.
And they've said really what they said last month when they had the first acknowledgement that Travis King had even gone into their country, saying that he was wanting to get away from an unequal U.S. society. Now, back in August, they had said that he was looking at the opportunity to either stay in North Korea or potentially look for a third country. Now, at the time, that was seen as a positive note, the fact that they were even entertaining the thought there may be a third country, suggesting they may not want to have wanted to keep hold of him for too long.
Now, very few assumed that he would not have been heavily debriefed. He is, after all, a U.S. soldier, maybe not privy to an awful lot of secrets, but certainly any information North Korea may find useful, they would have debriefed him.
So, this all happened back in July, mid-July. He had spent 50 days in a facility in South Korea. He had faced assault charges. So, he had been in a South Korean facility. He was supposed to be flown back to the United States. But when he was at the airport, he managed to get out of the airport, go on the tour, and then run across the border.
HARLOW: Sue Mi, how does this play out? Paula mentioned last hour when the news broke, perhaps China. Do we know where he would go? And also is an expulsion different from a release?
SUE MI TERRY, FORMER CIA NORTH KOREA ANALYST: Well, so this is very concerning to me because -- okay, first, it's being at least expelled. So, he's not going to be staying in North Korea. The fact that North Korea said he could go to a third country, or he didn't say he's coming -- returning home, right? And if it's China, that's one thing, but what about Russia?
Kim Jong-un just met with Putin in Vladivostok, and there is all kinds of illicit deals going on with North Korea supplying Russia with ammunition and artillery shells that Putin needs for his war efforts in Ukraine, and Russia supplying North Korea with sensitive technology that North Korea needs to advance its missile nuclear program. And I'm just wondering if this is also part of a discussion between Kim Jong- un and Putin.
So, unless Travis King comes home to the United States, this is not necessarily a better development. I need to find out where he's going first. So, this is a little bit concerning to me.
MATTINGLY: Sue Mi, to that point, I think it's a little bit full circle here, when he first crossed, I think we were on talking about this, and you had a very kind of level-headed sober analysis that said exactly what had happened. You said that was likely what was the case, and it ended up being the case.
You mentioned kind of the potential for a new geopolitical issue here, depending on where he would be expelled to. But why would the North Koreans want to expel him? Why wouldn't they want to hold him for their own leverage?
TERRY: Well, he was extensively debriefed, so I'm sure they found out whatever they need to find out. And then it's a matter of -- it does cost to keep somebody for a lifetime, right? So, there's a financial cost. And so, logistically, you need to have somebody always staying with him. There's a language barrier.
So, after finding out maybe that Travis was not of -- or they've got everything they needed out of him, now then maybe this is part of the better bargain with Putin than Biden administration, because North Korea and U.S. were to complete an impasse. They don't want some sort of trying to get back to talks.
They've made it very, very clear that they don't want to sit down with Washington anytime soon to talk about denuclearization or anything else. So, we are at an impasse. So, maybe there's a better bargain to be had with Putin.
This is a new kind of geopolitical environment. So, I am very concerned until we find out exactly where he's going. It might not be a better play.
HARLOW: Sue Mi, just very quickly. How much weight should we put to this statement North Korea attributes to him?
TERRY: Zero, zero. He is reading exactly what North Koreans have written down for him.
HARLOW: Yes, okay. Thank you very much for your expertise, both Sue Mi and Paula.
MATTINGLY: Well, happening today, former President Trump heading to Michigan, where instead of debating his Republican rival tonight, he'll be looking to upstage them with his own primetime speech. He'll be speaking at a non-union plant outside of Detroit with an audience of around 500 former or current union members.
But he can't escape his legal perils. In a new ruling, a New York judge says Trump and his adult sons are liable for fraud and that they bear responsibility for inflating the value of Trump's assets for years. The judge setting multiple instances in which Trump's companies claimed their properties were worth far more than their assessed values, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, adding that the defendants' claims none of that mattered legally came from a quote, fantasy world.
HARLOW: As a result, the judge canceled the Trump Org's business certificates. That's what they need to operate. That could potentially end Trump's control over some of his key New York properties, like Trump Tower. Donald Trump's attorney called this ruling a, quote, miscarriage of justice and said the family is going to appeal. But this is a big win for the New York attorney general's civil case against Trump, which alleges that Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $2.2 billion in a single year.
David Cay Johnson is with us. He's an investigative reporter. You'll remember him as one of the first to see Trump's tax returns. He's also the author of The Big Cheat, How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family. That book titled, David, is very apropos to what we're looking at right now. Can you explain for people watching at home why this actually matters, that if he did these things, why does that give him an uneven playing field with basically everyone else?
DAVID CAY JOHNSON, AUTHOR, THE BIG CHEAT: Well, by claiming that his assets were worth two, four, ten, and more times than that their actual value, Trump received benefits in the form of bank loan terms and other matters.
And the judge, in a very carefully written 35-page opinion, walks through this, shows that Trump had asserted that, oh, nobody pays any attention to my financial statements, everybody knows that they're nonsense and said, sorry, the world doesn't work that way in the real world. And Trump then argued, well, I don't have to make any restitution. And the judge said, this is not about restitution. It's about disgorgement.
What I'll be teaching my law students in the spring is this analog to it, analogy to it. You take $100 from the till that your employer, when it closes, you go to the racetrack, you win $1,000, you put the $100 back. Not only did you commit a crime, even though the business was closed while the money was gone, but you have to disgorge the $900 gain from your winning bet. And that's what's happening here.
And the judge has given the Trump companies the death penalty. Donald Trump, as of right now, is no longer a businessman in New York.
MATTINGLY: David, just to kind of zero in on some of the specific examples, because I think it's important to actually detail some of this. One in particular, the Trump filing, 30,000 square feet for the Trump Tower penthouse value, the actual size was actually 10,996 square feet. The overvaluation was estimated to be between $113 and $207 million. That's not small money here. That's just one example.
I guess when you listen to the Trump's lawyers or their defense here, this is how things operated, right? I didn't believe that this was any different than how anybody else at my level was operating. How egregious is something like that in terms of the world in which he was operating and business-wise?
JOHNSON: Well, Trump is not the only person to inflate his assets. But the judge points out, we're not talking about minor discrepancies, an extra 10 percent or something. We're talking about massive discrepancies. And Trump has been doing this for the whole 35 years that I have been covering him. He just makes it up.
And that's why the judge not only held that all of Trump's business licenses are canceled but he fined five of the Trump lawyers $7,500 each for making up false arguments, for stating the law said things that had said the opposite and other misconduct on Donald's behalf.
HARLOW: This is just finally a ruling against Trump and his sons, not Ivanka Trump, who was involved in business. Can you explain to people why?
JOHNSON: Ivanka got herself removed from this case.
So, it's Donald, his two older sons, Allen Weiselberg and I think two other employees of the Trump Organization. And in New York, you cannot operate a business except as a sole proprietor, like my book-writing business, unless you have a license from the state and the judge has canceled all of those licenses, all of which fall under the umbrella of the Trump Organization. This is a corporate death penalty.
MATTINGLY: When you -- you've written so much, not just about kind of the in the weeds financial dynamics, but also the man himself. What do you think this means, the death penalty that you're laying out here? What would this mean to somebody like Trump?
JOHNSON: Well, Donald potentially can end up with nothing but his presidential and television show pensions. Eventually, after he appeals, which he will, and, of course, for his whole life, he'll insist he did nothing wrong because Donald has said in his whole life he has never done a single thing that requires seeking forgiveness, those assets will be seized, they will be sold, and, clearly, they will not bring the highest prices. Creditors, the fines due to the state and taxes will be paid first, and if there's anything left, Donald will get that money. But since he inflated assets, it's not like much, if anything, Phil.
HARLOW: David Cay Johnson, thank you for your expertise this morning.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
MATTINGLY: Well, the migrant crisis of overwhelming cities across America and CNN has teams on the ground in Mexico and New York to tell you the stories of the people making the dangerous journey to the border.
HARLOW: Also new overnight, this disturbing footage out of Philadelphia shows hundreds of people looting stores across the city. We'll bring you those details and how police are responding, ahead.
MATTINGLY: Well, it's a story only CNN could tell. We have two teams covering two of the flashpoints of the ongoing border crisis. In Mexico, our crews capturing the dire conditions asylum seekers face as they try to reach the border. And here in New York City, we're documenting what the backlog of migrants looks like once they reach the city.
CNN's Senior International Correspondent David Culver is in Tapachula, Mexico and CNN's Senior Crime and Justice Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz is at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City.
David, first to you. What are you seeing there on the ground? DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Phil, you get a sense of this being a constant flow, just an influx of migrants that is 24/7. I mean, it's a little after 5:00 in the morning here.
This is just one of the gathering points here in Tapachula. And you can just notice behind me, you've got dozens, if not hundreds, if not well into thousands, because it stretches several blocks of folks who are camping out at all hours.
They're here waiting to be processed for either transit documents or asylum claims here in Mexico, but not to stay here, rather to continue on to the U.S.
CULVER (voice over): As you touch down 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.
He wants to go legally into the U.S. So, he wants to go through this process here, get his documentation and then get to the northern border and eventually cross.
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.
To get to Tapachula, it's an hour's 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.
Wow, they're having their first child. She's five months pregnant.
Days earlier, they crossed the treacherous jungle terrain of the Darien Gap, connecting Colombia and Panama.
Oh my God, I mean, they're just describing passing through the Darien Gap, and they said several people who had already passed away, a lot of kids, they saw the remains and he says children who were abandoned.
Those images haunt Susana (ph) Aleman describing the journey she made with her four young kids. But even amidst her tear-filled pain, little ones lighten the load.
He got a little shampoo left in his hand.
His 12-year-old sister, Sofia, helping clean it out, as Joandri (ph) then turns the questions on me.
Oh, she says I'm older than her dad.
Curiosity brings their siblings and cousins, and Joandri (ph) takes over the mic, telling me why they left Venezuela.
Six years old, he even speaks of the Venezuelan economy as bad.
But as they share, disturbing memories surface.
They're talking about -- these are children, mind you, having gone through Darien and the bodies that they saw, he's describing seeing a blond woman. Sofia's pain as she remembers saying goodbye to loved ones.
CULVER: Her little heart breaking, the friendships that she's lost.
CULVER (on camera): Hearing it from kids, Poppy and Phil, and it's crushing. They've been through so much already and they've got a lot more to go. I mean, another 1,000-plus miles to get to what is the destination for the vast majority of them, and that is, of course, the U.S.
HARLOW: Told in a way only you can, David Culver. That was remarkable. Thank you for being on the story and staying on it.
And, Shimon, to you now, you've also been at the center of all of this, covering what happens as those migrants move north. You're joining us from New York City. As I understand it, a bus of migrants just pulled up behind you moments ago. Shimon, is that right?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, that's right. In just the last few minutes, a bus pulled up.
But this morning, in the last 30 minutes or so, since we've been here, we've seen three buses pull up here. Most of the migrants who were getting off the buses were families with multiple kids, little, little kids coming here from Texas.
You know, the weeks that they traveled through the border to get to Texas, they then spent two days on buses getting here. And we saw over 100 of them this morning going inside here behind me in what is the city's intake center.
And we've spent a couple of days here in the last few weeks sort of documenting what some of the families have been going through and why they came here.
DR. TED LONG, SENIOR VICE PRSEIDENT, NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS: We're going to offer you food and water right away. A hot meal can go a long way.
PROKUPECZ (voice over): Dr. Ted Long from New York City's Health and Hospital is proud of the operation the city has established here.
LONG: Everything that we've developed in New York City is to meet the needs that were not met for people coming to us from Texas so far. So, here, whether it's screening for communicable disease, if you're a pregnant woman, giving you prenatal care, or screening for the very important mental health conditions you might have, like depression, we do it all here because it's not done before here.
PROKUPECZ: It really catches your eye to see so many kids running through the halls of the Roosevelt Hotel, almost like a playground, so many kids. The city says 20,000 migrant children have come through New York so far.
Why did you come to America?
Lady Kaza (ph) is 23 years old and escaping violence in Ecuador. She says she came here for her daughter, Mia, who was born with a physical disability.
How are you feeling?
She says she's happy that she's here now, and she's scared to go back to Ecuador. I'm afraid that my daughter will die there if she can't get medical attention. I need a place to stay. I think they're going to help me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry.
PROKUPECZ: Good luck, okay?
It's good news for Lady and Mia. They're being moved out of the intake center to a shelter. As this group leaves, another is already shuffling in behind them. A 116,000 have come to New York City since the spring of 2022, city officials say. And it's a reminder that the flow of migrants doesn't stop.
FABIEN LEVY, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR FOR COMMUNICATIONS: The burden on New York City is too much, quite honestly.
We are at past our breaking point.
PROKUPECZ: Among those just arriving, Luis Flores (ph). We met him outside, and his wife, Irma Linda Morales (ph). They now have seats inside.
It's a dream come true, he says.
It took him two and a half months to come to this country through the border. And now he's just hoping to give his family a better life. And they've been sitting here now for several days, waiting for the next steps and the next process.
And this is your wife, yes? 38 years you have been marry.
How are you doing?
Irma Linda (ph) tells us it was their dream to come to the United States and she doesn't want to lose her husband now that they've finally made it. As we leave, Luis (ph) speaks directly into our camera. I just want to work, he says. These are the hands of a worker.
PROKUPECZ (on camera): And so that's the big thing here, families wanting work, fathers, mothers who have all their kids here. I mean, there's some 20,000 kids that have been through the system.
And, Poppy, you can look, Poppy and Phil, you can look behind me. You're seeing all these kids, they're going to school. I mean, this is their temporary home here at the Roosevelt Hotel. Some of them have been here for several weeks.
But what the city has done is that most of the kids here, they've tried to enroll them in schools. They want to give them some semblance of a normal life. And the hope is for many of them, that eventually for many of the parents here, that they can get jobs. That's a big problem here right now.
MATTINGLY: Yes. Shimon, to that point, you make clear it's temporary. You show that very striking moment, direct the camera at the end of your piece about the individual who wants to work. What does happen next long term to these people?
PROKUPECZ: So, what happens basically is they need to file for asylum. Many of them don't even realize that that is something they need to do. And that's going to take time. You know, normally it should take somewhere around 180 days or so.
But what the city is seeing that it is taking much longer.
And without those asylum paperwork, without that paperwork, without some of the other sort of bureaucracy that these families need to go through, they can't get jobs, they can't legally work. And so the city is trying to expedite some of that, they're trying to get the federal government to come in and help expedite some of that.
But that is the key here. For all of these people here, jobs, they need money, they need to work, they're not asking for handouts, they truly all say they want to work.
HARLOW: Shimon, thank you for that. Stay with us.
David, we talk about every day, we see in the headlines of the newspapers the number of border crossings. Is that really a good indicator, though, of the extent and the reality of the crisis, do you think?
CULVER: I think that can be a huge distraction in all of this, Poppy, because you're right, we see it going down for several weeks or months at a time, and then suddenly there's a spike, and people think there's a new surge. The reality here south of the U.S. border, and this is why we wanted to be at another border, that with Guatemala from Mexico, is because this shows it is a constant flow, right? It has not slowed. There are not ups and downs necessarily. It is just 24/7 folks coming in from this migrant trail and continuing their way up. And that's why you have crowds like this behind me.
And it's interesting hearing what Shimon was saying, meeting with a lot of those folks who have made it into the U.S., as you have those individuals who are reaching out to their friends and family, many of them right here behind me in Tapachula, and saying, hey, we made it. And despite the struggles that they're still facing, it's better than what these folks are either coming from or feel like they have around them here in Mexico. So, for them, it's motivation to continue forward.
HARLOW: Yes. David Culver joining us from Tapachula, Mexico, Shimon Prokupecz right here in New York City, where many of those migrants end up, thank you for the reporting to you both.
MATTINGLY: Well, it's debate night in America with seven Republicans set to take the stage tonight, missing, once again, the GOP frontrunner.
HARLOW: And a landmark lawsuit against Amazon, the Federal Trade Commission and 17 states accusing the company of having monopoly over online retail. How Amazon responds, ahead.