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CNN This Morning

North Korea to Expel U.S. Army Private to Entered Its Territory in July; Police in Philadelphia Investigating What Caused Large Crowd of Looters to Hit Stores across City's Downtown; Former President Trump to Skip Second Republican Presidential Debate. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired September 27, 2023 - 08:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That's the real question is if they prevail in this lawsuit, is it just going to be fines and penalties, or will actual changes happen that benefit them. And Amazon, and their statement is important, too, saying if you succeed in what you're trying to do, it's just going to cost people more. So it's groundbreaking. We'll see where it goes.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: It's groundbreaking. There are several suits that the FTC has brought, several defeats, or problems that they've had with some of them. This is going to set lot of precedent for the years to come. Very important.

HARLOW: We'll watch it.

MATTINGLY: CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.

HARLOW: Good morning, everyone. Let's start with five things to know for Wednesday, September 27. And we begin with this breaking news out of North Korea. That country has decided to expel U.S. Army Private Travis King who had crossed into the North from South Korea in July.

MATTINGLY: And it's debate night in America. Seven Republican candidates will take the stage in California tonight to make their ways to voters.

HARLOW: One person will not be on the stage, Donald Trump. Instead, he is going to give a primetime speech at a non-union auto parts manufacturer in Detroit as the United Auto Workers strike against the big three continues into day 13.

MATTINGLY: And with just three days and 16 hours left, the Senate has unveiled a bipartisan plan to avoid the looming government shutdown. But there is no guarantee that it will be able to pass the House. Speaker Kevin McCarthy is still busy trying to get his own members in line.

HARLOW: In Philadelphia, more than a dozen people this morning under arrest after a big group of looters ransacked an Apple store, a Lululemon, and a Foot Locker. This hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts now. We begin with the breaking news out of North Korea. Their state-run

media reporting the country decided to expel U.S. Army Private Travis King after completing their investigation into his crossing into the North from South Korea. This was during a tour of the joint security area in July. Here's what North Korea claims that King said, quote, he "confessed that he illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK as he harbored ill feeling against inhumane maltreatment and racial discrimination within the United States Army and was disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society."

MATTINGLY: It is unclear from the KCNA report where, when, and how King would be expelled. Joining us now from the State Department, CNN chief national security correspondent Alex Marquardt. Alex, I know you have been asking U.S. officials what they think, what they know. What do you make of this announcement? Should we believe it?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Phil, as you know well, everything from the regime of Kim Jong-un needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt. This announcement by the North Korean regime really did come out of the blue. This is not something that we are expecting.

As you noted, we have been asking the Biden administration, the State Department, the White House, the Pentagon what they know right now, but everything we know is really coming from the North Korean side and coming from their state-run media, which, as you noted, says they are expelling Private Travis King after carrying out an investigation. They say that during this investigation that was carried out since he was detained back in July that he did confess to illegally crossing into the North, into North Korea, because of that ill treatment.

Now, let's just remind our viewers the extraordinary situation and story that really unfolded in July, how King found himself in North Korea. He was on a tour of the DMZ when he bolted across the DMZ, according to the U.S. military, willfully and without authorization. Now, that area of the DMZ is highly secured, of course, with forces from both the North Korean and South Korean sides. It's called the joint security area.

He had been -- he was being sent back to the United States, in fact, Poppy and Phil, because of an assault that he had carried out while he was based in South Korea. In fact, he served some 50 days in South Korean detection. He was taken to the airport by U.S. military officials. They wanted him to get on the plane and go home to face disciplinary procedures, but instead as soon as they let him go, he left. He then joined this tour the next day at the DMZ, and that's when he crossed into North Korea.

Now, there are immediate questions about his condition, where he was being held. There was very little communication, if any, between the North Korean and the American sides. Of course, relations are really at an all-time low when it comes to the nuclear talks and concerns over North Korea's nuclear program.

Now certainly, if confirmed, the release of Travis King will be welcome news. This would not be a long, drawn-out saga in the way that we have seen with North Korea in the past and with other countries, in fact. But of course, Poppy and Phil, major questions still remain about whether a deal was struck, was there some kind of behind-the- scenes negotiation, and, of course, the condition of Private King.


As then, as you noted at the top, Phil, we still don't know how he would be released, whether he would be flown somewhere, taken back across the DMZ into South Korea. So this morning some major questions still remain as we get this news out of North Korea. Poppy, Phil.

HARLOW: Alex, thank you very much. We know you'll stay on this throughout the day.

Also developing this morning, police in Philadelphia are investigating what caused a very large crowd of looters to hit stores across the city's downtown last night. Police say the group of juveniles, about 100 of them moved through the city. They targeted these high-end retail stores for clothing and sneakers, wine and liquor, even pharmacies. A news helicopter captured police chasing suspects in the street. We're told they made somewhere between 15 to 20 arrests last night.

MATTINGLY: A similar flash mob smash-and-grabs in other cities in Los Angeles and San Francisco have been seen recently. But it's hard to say exactly what is driving these crimes or this crime specifically, and whether the scenes last night in Philly were part of a trend or just an isolated incident. Retail crime in the city is up 34 percent this year versus last, but violent crime has mostly been down in Philadelphia over the same period.

To help us figure it out what may be going on here, let's bring in CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller. The video is jarring, and I think it tracks with things we have seen in other cities around the country. But why is this happening? And is it connected in some way?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, what we saw in New York when we had the two nights of looting after the George Floyd protests were very similar, which is we had protesters marching and protesters. The looters came in caravans of cars. They were working in sophisticated communications networks. They had lookouts on scooters. They weren't there to protest. They were there to steal. They were talking about, we are here to get paid.

In Philadelphia, you see the protests they had yesterday. These weren't the protesters. These were young kids, teenagers, early 20s. Same thing, caravans of vehicles, a plan to go hit specific stores and get specific goods. They were able to kind of fly under the protest radar maybe as part of it, but that's according to the police commissioner of Philadelphia, not what they were there for.

HARLOW: OK, I know this is the issue in California. I don't know if it's the law in Philly, and they also showed Minneapolis where this has been happening. In California, if it's under $1,000 worth of goods taken it's a misdemeanor. And so there are some who argue that by having that law in place, it just doesn't put a stop to this. Is that the case in all these cities? Is that part of this?

MILLER: Poppy, I think it is. And the litmus test there is where is this happening. And you are seeing this kind of looting happening -- I mean shoplifting and organized retail theft happen in places like New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia. If you look at where Target closed nine stores yesterday, four stores in San Francisco, stores in Seattle, stores in Portland, stores in New York, these are places where bail reform laws, criminal justice reforms have taken the inside of a jail cell out of the equation. So shoplifting is a crime where a judge can't set bail.

Think about this. In New York City there are just over 300 people who have between them 4,000 arrests, 70 percent of them are not in jail, and they account for 30 percent of all shoplifting in New York. This is actually their job. They go out to steal every day, and that has gone up significantly because they know getting put in jail is not in the equation any longer because of the laws that say it's a no bail offense and D.A.'s policies are they don't want people in custody for what they call nonviolent crimes.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you about, because you mentioned Target. It has been fascinating to watch how retailers have operated over the course of the last year plus. Not that I would ever be skeptical of corporate messaging on anything, having covered the business community. But there is some sense that this also could be a way of covering up, blaming crime, blaming shoplifting to cover up some of the issues that these companies have themselves. Do you feel like the connection is really that concrete, that direct?

MILLER: So this has been a big debate in the retail shopping industry where some stores have been saying it's being overplayed. I think, you know, there's a couple of categories. One is these corporations measure shrink, which is all goods that are lost, damaged, broken, not accounted for in inventory, what part of that is made up by theft.

The National Retail Federation shows that the part of it covered by theft is actually rising. Interestingly, they did a survey of stores, the Retail Federation, in 22 that said 81 percent of their store associates feel that the people stealing are becoming more violent and aggressive when confronted, and 54 percent of them feel that this bail reform where they have shoplifters telling them there is nothing you can do and I am not going to jail is a factor there.


So, is it going up as dramatically as some of the stories portray? If you look at it nationally, that's a harder statistic to grapple with. But if you look where it's going up significantly, it's going up in cities where you have these policies and people realize this is just like shopping without money.

HARLOW: And some of that bail reform here in New York has been scaled back in just the last year. But some of it is still there.

MILLER: They've introduced some legislation that says if you are arrested for a crime while you're out on the other crime and you haven't had a hearing where that's been adjudicated. So there is that window where if you get caught multiple times, they can set bail. But in large measure, they are not doing it.

HARLOW: Turning to your fantastic and important piece on, this is about Senator Menendez and the questions raised by the indictment, but it has to do with U.S. secrets and Egypt. You write, quote, "The Senator Menendez case raises major questions for U.S. intelligence." And I think we were talking about, this has been covered as much, right. It's been more of the accusations of his alleged fraud. But tell us why your big questions here are so important.

MILLER: Well, we were kind of stunned as a medium by the story itself, the senator who is a chairman taking allegedly hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash stuffed in pockets and closets, gold bars, convertible Mercedes. But you have to stop and say, who allegedly is the centerpiece of this? And it's an Egyptian American businessman who is arranging meetings between the senator, Egyptian intelligence officials, Egyptian military officials, bringing meetings where the senator's staff isn't invited but the senator's wife, who was a long-time friend before the senator met her with the Egyptian businessman, as an intelligence officer.

When you look at this, you have to say, wait a minute. Where does this middleman come from? How does he meet his wife? Why are they only doing things for the benefit of the Egyptian government? And you ask the key question. Are we dealing with a straight-up bribery case, or is this espionage and spying on the part of a U.S. ally that has large money at stake and other issues?

MATTINGLY: The 39-page indictment is jarring. The trees are the gold bar, the forest is what you were talking about. And it is huge. And I think there is a lot more to come, it seems like, to some degree, at least in the allegations. John Miller, it's a great piece. You should go to Thank you.

HARLOW: Yes, it really is. Thanks, John.

So Donald Trump's rivals calling him out for skipping the Republican debate tonight again. The harsh reality is none of the seven candidates who will be on the stage are even close to him in the polling right now. A rematch with President Biden looking more and more likely.

MATTINGLY: Instead of debating, Trump will be trying to upstage Biden in Michigan after Biden's historic visit yesterday when he rallied with auto workers on strike and became the first sitting U.S. president to join a picket. Trump is set to give a primetime address at a nonunion auto parts plant and a showdown for working class voters. Since skipping the first GOP debate, Trump's huge lead over his Republican competition has only grown.

HARLOW: Kyung Lah live at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the venue for the debate tonight. Good morning to you, Kyung. He will try to steal, Trump, the spotlight from that stage tonight. KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are all

hoping to get a little bit of that shine as, you know, Trump isn't here. And, yes, you're right. They are calling him out. They are trying to take swipes at him. We are certainly hearing from the various campaigns, like Tim Scott's campaign as well as Vivek Ramaswamy, that they are going to bring it up, be more aggressive, or put it out on the debate stage, their differences with Trump. We've seen Nikki Haley testing out some of those anti-Trump lines in the days leading up to this debate. And just hours before this debate is set to start, two other candidates also took to the airwaves to call out Trump.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's interesting that he is not willing to stand on the stage. I think he owes it to the voters show up, defend his record, articulate what he would do going forward. He is running in 2024 on a lot of the same promises he ran on in 2016 and didn't deliver on.

MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Donald Trump today is different than the Donald Trump of 2016. And you bet, I think he ought to be on the debate stage. He ought to be engaging all of us what are vying for this nomination.


LAH: Though Trump is not here, this is still expected to be a very important chance for these candidates to talk to millions of Republican primary voters directly, Phil and Poppy. And it's also a way to continue to talk to Republican donors. It is something that they need at this stage to continue their campaigns. Phil, Poppy?

HARLOW: Kyung, thank you very much, joining us from Simi Valley, California. We'll get back to you soon. Phil?


MATTINGLY: Joining us now with more on the impact these debates can actually have. CNN Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten. All right, Harry, there was a debate. What changed from that first debate?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: It was a fantastic debate. A lot of back-and-forth moments. Let's listen to one of those big moments.


NIKKI HALEY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You want to go and defund Israel. You want to let me address that?

VIVEK RAMASWAMY, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm glad you brought that up. I'm going to address each of those right now. This is the false lies of a professional politician. There you have it.

HALEY: You will make America less and you have no foreign policy experience. And it shows ---

RAMASWAMY: And you know what?


ENTEN: So, if we look at Nikki Haley's national poll standing before the first debate, she was at 3%. She's doubled. She's up to 6% now. Right? Obviously, Trump still leads the primary by the lot, but doubling your share of the vote is not bad. And if we look at some of the early states, we see that Nikki Haley's support has gone up even more there. New Hampshire, her support has gone up by seven points.

Iowa, her support has gone up by six points. South Carolina, her support's gone up by four points. And although Trump is still well ahead, the fact is Nikki Haley is now fighting with Ron DeSantis and a lot of the other candidates for second place in these early states.

MATTINGLY: So at least one candidate benefited. What about Trump himself? Is there anything these guys can do, the seven on stage can do to ding his very high level of support right now?

ENTEN: Yeah, let's take a look back at a moment from the 2015 debate to give you an idea what these candidates might be able to do.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN WASHINGTON HOST: Donald Trump said the following about you, quote, "Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that would be the face of our next president?" Mr. Trump later said he was talking about your persona, not your appearance. Please feel free to respond. What you think about his know persona?

CARLY FLORINA, 2016 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CANDIDATE: You know it's interesting to me. Mr. Trump said that he heard Mr. Bush very clearly. And what Mr. Bush said, I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.


ENTEN: Um, an actual moment where Donald Trump was shown to be human, that is something you could attack him and actually shift his support. This is back in 2016.Look at this presecondary debate. Donald Trump was at 32%, then he dropped to 24%. After that second debate, Carly Fiorina, 3% to 15%. So going after Donald Trump actually can work.

We'll see if any of the candidates tonight are actually willing to do so.

MATTINGLY: That's the big question. Harry Enten, thanks buddy.

ENTEN: Appreciate it.

MATTINGLY: Be sure to tune in tonight for Post Debate Analysis hosted by Anderson Cooper and our own Dana Bash at 11:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN. Well, President Biden calling out House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over the looming shutdown. He also went after former President Trump, saying MAGA Republicans are, quote, determined to destroy this democracy. We'll have a member of his cabinet respond to everything that's going on.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joins us live, next.



HARLOW: This morning, Congress inching closer to a shutdown. Just three days left to pass the spending deal, senate brokering a bipartisan bill to keep the government open. This would be until mid- November, but it includes $6.2billion for aid for Ukraine, making it pretty much dead-on arrival, it looks like in the House, that is where embattled speaker Kevin McCarthy is still trying to wrangle his party vowing to put a short-term spending bill on the floor on Friday.

Lauren Fox with us from Washington with more. Good morning. Does this go anywhere? Any chance?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the expectation is that if it can pass out of the United States Senate, it will then be up to Kevin McCarthy to decide what comes next. But Speaker McCarthy made some news last night in saying that he plans on Friday to bring a short-term spending bill that includes border security, funding and other measures to the floor of the House, trying to force some of his hardline members to essentially make a decision.

Do you stand for something or not? The problem with that strategy and the gamble for the speaker is the reality that there are a number of hardliners who say they will never get to yes on a short-term spending bill, arguing it just kicks the can down the road. Then the question becomes, what happens if the Senate has sent him something? Does he amend it? Does he change it?

What he said yesterday was that he planned to try and include border security on anything the Senate sends over. But another reminder that will he have the votes? And I think that that is the essential question right now. And why everyone is sort of asking, would House Speaker Kevin McCarthy ever get to a place where he would just put the Senate pass bill on the House floor?

As we've talked about many times, doing that imperils his future as speaker. And that is why it is such a difficult calculus right now for the speaker of the House and why all eyes are on him, despite the fact that the Senate still does have to do a considerable amount of work to get their bill passed through their chamber in a timely manner. Given the fact this deadline is Saturday at midnight, Poppy.

HARLOW: Lauren, thank you for the reporting, Phil.

MATTINGLY: President Biden taking aim at Kevin McCarthy at a campaign fundraiser last night, shaming the House speaker, trying to at least for not honoring his deal to keep the government open, telling potential donors, quote, it's time for the Republicans in the House of Representatives to start doing their job. Biden warned of the widespread damage that could follow a shutdown before attacking his predecessor, saying, quote, "...the MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy this democracy."

Let's bring in Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Mr. Secretary, I want to start with kind of where the President was on the shutdown itself. The White House was just releasing kind of a breakdown, almost state by state breakdown of the effect that this would have a shutdown on air traffic control staffing on their pay. It goes state by state. In Florida, you have 6108 TSA officers, 157 air traffic controllers.

California, another significant margin as well. The actual impact on the Department of Transportation and the elements of it. What would it be?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Well, we can't afford a shutdown right now because of the disruptions that it would cause to transportation. Look at aviation, where we've made enormous progress after the COVID driven disruptions we saw a year ago.

Cancellations are back down too normal after everything we went through last summer. This summer, they're actually a little bit below where they were before COVID. But in order to keep that going, we've got to be able to hire air traffic controllers. This stops that. It stops us from training and hiring air traffic controllers, gums up a lot of other functions of this department.

And what that means is, over time, more shortages, more outages, more potential disruptions. And that's just to take one example, out of the transportation space. Add to that the fact that everybody from TSA officers to air traffic controllers to service members in the United States military would stop getting paid after Saturday.


And look, it's a basic function of Congress to keep the government up and running. We have a deal that Speaker McCarthy made with the President that most Republicans voted for at the time that the deal was actually struck. All we're asking is that they live up to that deal, do their job, and keep the government running.

MATTINGLY: You've made that point several times. It is an accurate point. There was a deal the speaker and the President signed off on in May and June of this past year. I asked a member of the House Appropriations Committee Congressman Tony Gonzalez, about your points related to that deal. I want you to listen to his response because he directed it at you. Take a listen.


REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): When I hear the comments from the Secretary of Transportation, I just urge him to focus on Secretary on Transportation. I've got a lot of my constituents that complain about the delays in flights and other issues trained, certainly. There's no doubt that there's a lot of things to blame right now.


MATTINGLY: What's your response to that?

BUTTIGIEG: That's pretty rich coming from a guy who is prepared to stop air traffic control staffing. Look, we see a repeated pattern here, which is creating a problem or contributing to a problem and then trying to score points off of that same problem. We see it at the border. We see it with transportation.

Some of these same Republican congressmen who lined up to try to make a partisan issue out of the flight disruptions that were happening last year because of COVID. Now they're here, threatening to get in the way of air traffic controllers getting paid, getting trained, and even putting out proposals that would stop us or delay us from modernizing computer systems.

Some of the same Republican Congressmen who lined up trying to score political points off the pain of the people who faced the East Palestine train derailment earlier this year are now pushing for cuts that would reduce railroad safety inspections.

Matter of fact, we estimate 11,000 miles of track, less getting inspected under some of these cuts that House Republicans are proposing. So, at a certain point, they need to make clear whether they're serious or whether this is just politics.

They have a job to do, and that is to actually run the government, keep the American people safe, and make sure whether we're talking about transportation or any other critical function of government, we keep that running in a way that actually addresses these problems.

MATTINGLY: Mr. Secretary, I want to ask you about the President's visit to Michigan yesterday. It was a historic visit for a sitting President to be on the picket line. The UAW still has not endorsed the President. But I want you to listen to what UAW President Sean Fain said.


SEAN FAIN, UNITED AUTO WORKERS PRESIDENT: There's still work left to be done. I mean, this EV transition it's important and we believe in a green economy, but it's got to be a just transition. So, as we move forward in this transition, we want these jobs to have our standards in it. It cannot be a race to the bottom, and that's what these companies are trying to push. They're all for taking all of our tax dollars helping finance this transition.

But when it comes to taking care of the workers, the companies keep trying to take us backwards.


MATTINGLY: Mr. Secretary, I want to get to the politics of the electric vehicles debate in a minute. But to start there, that has been the concern, and it is a valid concern that the administration has tried to do things to the Treasury Department to backstop a little bit. But that concern in terms of the transition and who would suffer during that transition, what's your response to that?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, it's absolutely right. Look, I come from South Bend, Indiana. It's the home of UAW Local Five and UAW Local Nine. I saw how the past generation of union auto jobs helped build the middle class and build communities like the one that I grew up in. I also saw what happened when those factories closed.

What the UAW is trying to do right now is to make sure that this next chapter of the auto industry, which let's be very clear, these cars are going electric with or without us. The question is whether the US is going to lead or whether China's going to lead.

And we want to make sure that it's not just a US led EV revolution, but one where the jobs that come with it are good paying jobs and have that same quality that we had generations ago of being jobs that you can build a family and even build a community around.

MATTINGLY: That is the transition. That is the push from the administration. But as I noted, it has become salient political point for Republicans. This is what the Former Vice President and Former President had to say about take a listen.


MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I guarantee you that one of the things that's driving that strike is that Bidenomics and their green energy electric vehicle agenda is good for Beijing and bad for Detroit, and American auto workers know it.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The auto workers will not have any jobs, Kristen, because all of these cars are going to be made in China again.