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Erin Burnett Outfront
Putin Escalates War In Ukraine, Orders Partial Mobilization Of Reservists, Threatens Use Of Nukes: "This Is Not A Bluff; NY AG Accuses Trump Of "Staggering" Fraud In Sweeping Lawsuit; Appeals Court Rules In Favor Of DOJ In Mar-A-Lago Docs Case; NY AG Accuses Trump Of "Staggering" Fraud In Sweeping Lawsuit; Appeals Court Rules In Favor Of DOJ In Mar-A-Lago Docs Case; Border Agency Chief Criticizes GOP Tactics On Moving Migrants; 2 Americans Captured By Russian-Backed Forces In Ukraine Freed. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired September 21, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, Putin's nuclear threat. The Russian president with the grave warning to the world, as he calls up 300,000 reservists to join his fight against Ukraine. And tonight, Russians are fleeing the country en masse, fearing the worst.
And Trump sued for fraud. New York's attorney general filing a $250 million lawsuit, a quarter of a billion dollars, against the former president. She also tries to prevent him and children from running businesses ever again in New York.
And two Americans held by Russian forces for more than 100 days, tonight have just been released unexpectedly. It is a story we followed closely. The fiancee of one of them is my guest.
So, let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, Putin threatening nuclear war. In a major escalation, and amid humiliating losses in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin today ordering a military draft and warning that he could use nuclear weapons against the West.
During a rare televised address to the Russian nation, the Russian president summoned 300,000 more troops to fight and threatened nuclear retaliation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Mobilization will begin today, September 21st. I'm instructing the heads of the regions to provide the necessary assistance to the work of the military recruitment offices.
This is not a bluff. The citizens of Russia can be sure that the territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence and freedom will be insured. I emphasize this again, with all the means at our disposal. And those who tried to blackmail last with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The prevailing winds can turn in their direction. Context matters here. Putin's mobilization is the first in Russia since World War II. Just pause on that for a moment. And his talk of using nuclear weapons is only adding to a drumbeat which, frankly, has been getting louder and louder.
Just listen to this exchange on Russian state television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What made him think we would conduct a nuclear strike against Ukraine? Why would we bomb Ukraine or Germany when there is Britain, the root of evil?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We should have done it today. All the best people are there for the funeral.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Cavalier talk about a nuclear strike on London during the Queen's funeral.
And tonight, President Biden and the Western world are aggressively responding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This war is about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state, plain and simple. And Ukraine's right to exist as a people.
Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should not -- that should make your blood run cold. A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A Russian tycoon Konstantin Malofeyev says a nuclear war may be Putin's only choice. He tells "The Financial Times" that either Russia wins or the world faces an unprecedented nuclear disaster. Here's the way he put it: The whole world should be praying for Russia's victory, because they're only two ways to and this war, either Russia winds or nuclear apocalypse. If we don't win, we will have to use nuclear weapons, because we can't lose.
Does anyone really think Russia will accept defeat and not use its nuclear arsenal?
Well, the mobilization today from Putin leading to another mass exodus from Russia, after Putin's announcement, thousands fleeing. One way flights sold out leaving Russia. According to Google flights, by 10:00 local time, the last remaining one-way tickets from Moscow to Istanbul were more than $11,000. The average ticket on any other day for that route is $300.
And this animation from Flight Radar shows flights one after the next leaving Russia. A country it's pretty hard to get you on an air plane right now, with so many bans. Look at them, they're all leaving, they are all going one way out.
Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT in London.
And, Matthew, you have spent extensive time in Russia reporting from Moscow, of course, as well as Ukraine. You have been in touch with your context contacts in Russia today, where more than 1,000 people were arrested protesting. You have some news on this front.
What are you learning tonight?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, pretty disturbing developments, actually, because we are seeing those anti- war, anti draft protests spread out across thousands of cities in Russia. You are right. It's more than 1,000 people that have been detained.
But we are also learning from monitors inside Russia that are watching these protests unfold that some of those people who have been detained -- remember -- for their anti draft protests, are being directly drafted, at police stations in the Russian capital, into the Russian military. It is harsh, even by the hard-line standards of the Russian state.
CHANCE (voice-over): It's a partial mobilization that risks fully mobilizing Russian opposition to Ukraine war. In the wake of Putin's escalation, there's been already been scattered across the country, it's possible public sentiment will further sour, as more Russians are told they will have to fight.
You always feel worried at moments like these, says Dennis, from Moscow's. Because you have a wife and kids, I would not want to leave them in case something happens.
This is not a defensive war, says Nikolai. Nothing is threatening our territory. Calling for service now is unnecessary, he says.
For the Kremlin, there is a risk this indignation could erode Putin's support even further.
As long as it stayed on the TV screens, not affecting their daily lives, many Russians have gone along with Putin's Ukrainian disaster, what he calls his special military operation. But in the wake of dramatic military setbacks, all this has suddenly become very real, with the Russian leader announcing an immediate call up of hundreds of thousands of men to bolster his depleted forces.
PUTIN: To protect our homeland, it sovereignty and its territorial integrity, to provide safety for people in liberated territories, it is necessary to partially mobilize citizens.
CHANCE: It just reservists and those with military experience at the moment. But there are concerns that that could be just the start.
It all comes as occupied areas of Ukraine announce snap referendums on joining the Russian state. For critics, a tiny figment to cover a blatant annexation of Ukrainian land. Many Russians, a popular move, to rescue people insistently betrayed in the state media as oppressed.
I think this is long overdue, says Alexander. People don't want to live under bombardments. They want to live peaceably. That's why they're looking to rescue by joining Russia, he says.
It's a principle Putin says he is prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend. The threat is already dismissed by Ukraine and its Western backers, and an increasingly desperate Kremlin seems determined to double down.
CHANCE (on camera): Well, Erin, what's not clear tonight is whether that gamble will payoff. It is proving increasingly unpopular at home and it's unclear whether it is going to have a positive effect on the Ukrainian battlefield anytime soon either. Back to you.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Matthew Chance.
I want to go now to John Miller, our chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, who's a former deputy assistant director of national intelligence and retired Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, former assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs as well.
General Kimmitt, Putin has come out with this. Let's start with this mobilization, 300,000 people who have had some form of military training in the past but are now back to. What does this mean for the war?
BRIGADIER GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: I think Matthew said it right. It won't have an impact in the next few months. The got to bring them back in and they've got to put uniforms on the soldiers. They've got to train them and deploy them into units and. They've got to do some level of maneuver as part of a unit.
So I don't think before the end of winter will be 300,000 actually be on the battlefield, but it will have an impact on the battlefield.
BURNETT: And what then?
KIMMITT: We'll see. We will see how much more Putin wants to fight this fight, whether he really wants to take these 300,000 and possibly more. He has as many as 25 million. John can talk about what is inside Putin's head.
But, candidly, only Putin knows what is going to happen next. Zelensky has said he will continue to fight and I suspect Putin will say the same thing.
BURNETT: So, John, you know, I know you have been talking to former intel colleagues today about this, and that Russian tycoon that I mentioned, pose the core question, though. Does anyone really think Russia will accept defeat and not use nuclear arsenal?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: There are lots of people who think that and that believe that this is saber-rattling.
But having talked around the intelligence community today, I was looking for that person who is going to tell me the chance of the deployment of a tactical nuke and zero and I didn't find that person.
When you think of Putin, you know, he has always banked on -- even in these propaganda, the image of masculinity, of power, of dominance, military prowess, and here he finds himself or he's being attacked by the left, he's being attacked by his own nationalist supporters on the right for not going far enough, not being out front enough.
And the mention of tactical nukes, there's 2,000 of those spread across Russia. And these aren't 30 kiloton bombs that are going to blow up the whole country. These are the 0.3 kiloton bombs that can be launched from the same equipment that they are launching the current artillery with. It has a very limited reach.
And yet, the psychological effect of it would be tremendous. The radiation and followed up with a long time effect, even on a small area, would be long. It is something that isn't psychology of the discussion now.
BURNETT: And it could -- it would change things forever and of course, you know, it would chance -- it would change the situation, change the conflict, General, you could end up with a much broader conflagration, something more terrifying.
But you said -- the Ukrainian commander in chief said today, that they are okay, they are not afraid, of course, right? They are going to keep fighting.
As you point out, it would take a few months for these forced to even enter the field of battle, if they do enter it. But still, this is double the number of troops Putin initially put into Ukraine. There's about 150,000. So, now, you got 300,000, you know, in this pipeline.
These -- you know, they may be unprepared. They are raw bodies though. They are people. How does Ukraine counter this? They don't have that kind of man power?
KIMMITT: That's right and I think that goes back to your point about, will Putin accept defeat? I don't think he thinks he is being defeated at all right now. In fact, he may get back to the Minsk 2 lines of 2014 and declare victory. I don't think he believes he can take over Ukraine anymore but I also think he does not believe and a lot of people do believe that Zelenskyy doesn't have a chance of taking back his country, that there has to be some sort of territorial diplomacy, some sort of concessions on both sides.
BURNETT: Right. Of course, Ukraine night now is saying absolutely not. And why would they? They're making real progress. They now want to take back Crimea.
John, Putin is being criticized from inside Russia. You heard Matthew's reporting, talking about protesters. And there has been more -- you know, one of the most -- they said the Dolly Parton of Russia, you know, one of the most prominent singers has come out against him. So, at this point, people turning.
But, of course, we've had more than 1,000 arrests. These people are going to go to prison for this.
How does this impact Putin? And also those flights? Thousands of man, to get mobilized, they flee.
MILLER: I mean, the entire calculus of this has been upended by recent events, but early vents. I mean, the original analysis was, in a war of attrition between tiny Ukraine and the Russians with more people, more weapons, more money, more everything, that the Ukrainian forces would be on the losing end of that. That's been reversed.
I think Putin's view was that this is going to be like rolling into Czechoslovakia, you know, a long time ago. Not like rolling into Afghanistan and spending the whole time fighting until you left. I think this has taken him by surprise.
And the fact that the nationalist and he's not going far enough and everybody else is wondering, why are we even there, shows figures and splits that very awkward and uncomfortable for a guy like Putin, where he has ruled with an iron hand, about everything.
BURNETT: Right. All right, thank you very much. And important night in the development of this horrific war.
And next, first on CNN, Jeanne Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who pressed lawmakers in at least two states to overturn the election, has agreed to sit down with the January 6th Select Committee. A big development and we have the details after this.
Plus, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection breaking her silence about Republican governor sending migrants to Democratic cities and towns.
And for months, we have been speaking to the fiance of Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh, one of two Americans held by Russian forces in Ukraine for months. And tonight, they are both free.
The fiancee of Andy joins me OUTFRONT.
BURNETT: Tonight, a $250 million lawsuit against Donald Trump, a quarter-billion dollars. New York Attorney General Letitia James filing a civil fraud lawsuit against Trump and the Trump Organization. She's also looking to bar Trump and three of his children from running the family business or any other business in New York ever again.
Here's the lawsuit, and it could be a game-changing lawsuit for Trump personally and professionally. You see me thumbing through this. Filled with example after example of what she calls a staggering scheme of fraudulently inflating assets for billions of dollars for at least a decade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LETITIA JAMES (D), NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: The pattern of fraud and deception that was used by Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization for their own financial benefit is astounding, claiming that you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It's the art of the steal. And there can not be different rules for different people in this country or in this state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.
Evan, 222 pages. There's a lot of detail in here. They're laying it all out. How bad could this lawsuit be for Donald Trump and his children? We're talking here about Don Jr., Ivanka and Eric, along with his company if Attorney General James succeeds here.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. She is asking for a judge to essentially put the Trump organization prohibit them from doing business in the state of New York if she succeeds, in addition to the $250 million that she's asking, that she says were ill-gotten gains, this would bar Trump and his children from leading any business in New York ever again. Five-year ban for -- on buying commercial real estate in New York state, as well as a five- year ban on applying for loans from any banks in New York.
Just a couple of examples that were contained in this 200-page lawsuit that she says, again, over ten years of fraud. One example is the Mar- a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, which, according to Letitia James, is worth about $75 million, but Trump was claiming $739 million.
Another example, his triplex at Trump Tower in New York City roughly about 10,000 square feet. Trump claimed there was 30,000 square feet and valued at $300 million.
These were lies. These were frauds that were being committed against the banks, against insurance companies, and against tax authorities, Erin.
BURNETT: Three hundred million dollar apartment? Okay. Evan Perez, let me ask you about the other development here. Some news
also into us right now about the January 6th Select Committee. So this is about Ginni Thomas. A source is confirming to our own Jamie Gangel that Ginni Thomas, of course, the wife of Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court justice, has now agreed to be interviewed by the committee. I know this has been a fraught discussion. Many thought this would not occur. Is it significant?
PEREZ: It is significant. Obviously she is an important witness who was in touch, Erin, with lawmakers in Arizona, in Wisconsin, urging them to overturn those election results in those states. We know from previous reporting that she was also in touch with Mark Meadows urging him to continue to push these efforts that Trump was the victim of fraud and to overturn those election results.
We have a statement from Ginni Thomas' attorney. He says, in part, as she has said from the outset, Mrs. Thomas is eager to answer the committee's questions to clear up any misconceptions about her work during the 2020 election. She looks forward to that opportunity.
We don't know when exactly this interview is going to be, but it's coming in the next few weeks.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Evan Perez.
OUTFRONT now Geoffrey Berman. He was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York under President Trump and is the author of the new book "Holding the Line: Inside the Nation's Preeminent U.S. Attorney's Office and Its Battle with Trump Justice Department."
So, Geoffrey, thank you very much.
I want to just start off here with this lawsuit, 222 pages, as you pointed out, when we were getting ready to talk here. Filled with what the attorney general says is hundreds of examples. Evan just laying out two of the -- or a couple of the most egregious seeming ones that basically fraudulently inflating the value of assets to get loans and then also lying about their level to the other side from when it came to paying taxes. So, fraud on multiple levels.
What do these 222 pages tell you about the size and scope of her investigation?
GEOFFREY BERMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Well, it's an enormous complaint. It's a robust complaint. It's filled with facts. And it's very serious. And, so, Donald Trump and others named in the complaint are going to have their day in court to respond to this and try and seek to challenge it. But it's formidable.
BURNETT: It's formidable and what it's asking for is formidable. I mean, we've never known the extent of his fortune, but a quarter of a billion dollars would completely and utterly change life as he knows it, if that's what happened.
So, she says, Attorney General James say that Trump's team did not hand over tax records. She asked for them as part of the discovery process. They did not hand them over. But the lawyer for Trump said that they, quote, diligently searched each and every room of Mar-a- Lago. We searched, we searched, we couldn't find any tax documents.
But then the FBI went in. And guess what they found. The tax documents.
Same pattern on the classified documents, right? Lawyers said we found them while we handed them all over, and guess what? They didn't, and the FBI found them. This is a clear pattern.
BERMAN: Well, this goes back to the stunning revelation by the Department of Justice a few weeks ago that they were investigating Donald Trump and those around Donald Trump, not only for the mishandling of classified documents but for obstruction of the subpoena seeking and demanding those classified documents. And that's an extraordinarily serious charge. It's mirrored in some of the allegations in this complaint. And I think it's going to present real hurdles.
BURNETT: So you lay out multiple instances in your book of Attorney General Bill Barr, then Attorney Bill Barr, trying to influence you, investigations in the SDNY, you say to help do Donald Trump's bidding, that he wanted to be sort of the most valuable player on the administration's team. Here he is earlier today commenting on Attorney General James' lawsuit.
Here's Bill Barr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's hard for me not to conclude it's a political hit job. And this is a woman who campaigned for office promising she was going to go after Trump, which I think is a tremendous abuse of office to go head hunting and targeting individuals. So I think she was targeting Trump. What ultimately persuades me that this is a political hit job is she grossly overreaches when she tries to drag the children into this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: I mean, the children are in their 40s. They have been executives in the company for a long, long time. They have children.
They're not children, right? So that's not fair. But what do you say to him with these allegations, political hit job?
BERMAN: Well, you know, it strikes me as hypocritical for Bill Barr to be accusing another prosecutor of improperly politically interfering in justice when it was Bill Barr as attorney general under Donald Trump who did the president's political bidding and helped undermine the rule of law. And as I point out in my book, there are several instances where Bill Barr interfered with the Southern District of New York in ways to target Donald Trump's political enemies and help Donald Trump's friends. And, so, the allegations as he's accusing on others I just find it
BURNETT: You know, I think it's important to say, because in your book you do go through all this. But you point out, you're a lifelong Republican. You actually worked on the Trump campaign in 2016, right?
So you're not coming in this as some sort of never-Trumper or some Democrat, right? That's not -- that's not your angle. And yet you had all these experiences and you saw this for yourself.
You admit in the book now that it was craziness to think that he would work with both parties for the good of the country, which is what you say is what you believed. You end your book with this warning, Geoffrey. You write: it is important to understand how fragile the system is and how vulnerable it can be when powerful people attempt to abuse it for political gain. In SDNY, we did not let that happen, but it still could.
How big of a risk is Trump now to the justice system?
BERMAN: Well, you know, it's incredibly scary that he could get a second term. I mean, all of the dangerous and outrageous things that he did as president will be repeated in a second term, except he will be more successful in doing those things. And the first, as president, he knew he had to stand for re-election. The second time around, he'll be free of those concerns. So I find it very troubling.
And I do think that the justice system is very vulnerable because when you have a president who's intent on corrupting the Department of Justice, and he appoints individuals who are in charge of the department who will go along with the bidding of that president, and then there are, like, no protections left for the rule of law.
BURNETT: Stay with me if you can. We do have some breaking news in right now, Geoffrey. A major decision by that appeals court in favor of the Justice Department in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. This is a major decision and very quick.
Evan Perez, what have -- what just happened here?
PEREZ: Well, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has now ruled in favor of the Justice Department, at least as part of this order from the lower court judge. What they're allowing the Justice Department to do is to resume their criminal investigation access to those documents that the lower court judge had said they could not access while there was a special master, this third party reviewing these 11,000 -- more than 11,000 pages that were seized by the FBI.
The circuit court -- I'm sorry, the appeals court, Erin, is also saying that at least for the part -- that DOJ was asking to prevent declassified documents, about 100 pages of classified documents from being reviewed by the special master. Again, they're allowing the Justice -- I'm sorry, they're allowing the Justice Department to prevent those documents from being shared with the special master. So, on both those points, those are the two big asks by the Justice Department to continue their criminal investigation of those documents that were seized from Mar-a-Lago and to be able to keep those hundred pages from the special master.
I'll read you just a part of what it says. It says that it is self- evident that the public has a strong interest in ensuring that the storage of the classified records did not result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security. And it says that keeping those documents secure, obviously, is very, very important.
We are still going through this ruling. This is a ruling from a three- judge panel. One of them was appointed by Barack Obama, and two of them were appointed by Donald Trump. So that's an important factor here to note that two Trump appointed judges were part of this ruling today.
BURNETT: Well, I mean, we shouldn't have to note it, but you're right, it's significant and we do need to note it. Can I just -- to make sure I understand, was that a unanimous decision?
PEREZ: We can't tell right now. It appears that this is at least for now it prevents the lower court ruling from being enforced. Again, we're going through these pages right now. But we don't know.
BURNETT: All right. So, as Evan goes through that, I want to give him a little bit more time. We'll let him go off camera for a second so he can do that.
Geoffrey, let me ask you -- what's your reaction to this? This was a swift ruling and whether they say it's unanimous or not, at least one of the Trump-appointed judges, if not two, also ruled in favor of the Department of Justice in this case.
BERMAN: Well, it's a very important ruling. Obviously, I haven't read it. I've heard the description of it. And what it does is it allows the Department of Justice to go forward with its investigation of obstruction.
If the obstruction case that they were doing was in the Southern District of New York, it would be of the highest priority, and we would want to move quickly on it to lock witnesses in. And the Justice Department was stymied in that because the lower court didn't allow the Justice Department to use the classified -- the hundred classified documents that were seized in the search.
BERMAN: And now, that's been reversed, and they can move forward with the investigation, and I think they're going to move forward very, very quickly.
BURNETT: Look, it's a very significant development. Everyone should understand that the ruling as the lower court justice judge who had ruled in favor of Trump said not only that they couldn't continue with the investigation and their criminal investigation while the special master reviewed the documents but gave the special master until November 30th to complete that review.
Elie Honig, joining us on this breaking news.
Elie Honig, what do you make of this very swift ruling in favor of the DOJ by the 11th Circuit panel of judges?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Erin, well, this is clearly a win for DOJ. But it's limited to the 100 classified documents. That's what DOJ appealed on. There's 11,000 total documents in this case. The special master will still be reviewing the other 10,900 or so.
But, yes, this is a win as to what DOJ believes are the most important 100 documents, the classified documents. That means that, for now, DOJ is free to continue using these documents in its investigation and to carry on with their assessment, their damage assessment along with the national intelligence community.
Now, Erin, it's not necessarily over.
HONIG: Donald Trump's team now may try to appeal this. There's two ways they can go. One, they can ask the 11th Circuit to reconsider what we call en banc, meaning the entire 11th Circuit body of active judges. But that's not automatic. That's actually fairly rare that a circuit will agree to that.
And second of all, of course, Donald Trump can try to get the Supreme Court to take this, but, again, the Supreme Court is very sparing in which cases it does take. It only takes really a tiny fraction of the cases before it.
So, for now, this is a big win for DOJ on those 100 classified documents.
BURNETT: And it's a very significant development because we'll see if there's an appeal and where it goes. But obviously it puts this on a different time frame in terms of whether the DOJ makes an indictment decision prior to the midterm election. So it puts all this back on the table, again, because that November 30th deadline will have going to way if this is upheld.
Let's go back to Evan Perez. I know you've had a chance to read through it. What are you seeing, what are you hearing?
PEREZ: Well, one of things we I was able to clarify, Erin, you're asking if it was unanimous. It does say that it is a unanimous decision from this -- from this three-panel of judges here. It's not clear to me, by the way, that the 11th Circuit allows for an appeal to an en banc.
I think from what you were just talking about with Elie, the next stage might have to be for them to go to the Supreme Court if that is what they try to do. What the judges here are saying, though, is that they find unpersuasive the argument from Donald Trump that he is harmed just by virtue of a criminal investigation. That's one of the arguments that the former president was making was that by virtue of allowing the Justice Department to continue its criminal investigation.
And, by the way, the lower court judge, Judge Cannon, she bought into the argument. She said she cited leaks as one reason why she was ruling in that way. But the judges here are saying that's not how it works. You know, a criminal investigation is not in itself a harm. Obviously, if they get to charges, then that's a different thing.
But the justice department has an interest in being able to access these documents to do this criminal investigation.
BURNETT: Evan, in your view from what you know from your sources, now if they go ahead with this, I'm sure they're going to go ahead immediately. Then we'll see what happens if there's an appeal and how it goes. What does this do to the time line as you expect it of a possible indictment decision?
PEREZ: Look, I think for the Justice Department, they were not going to be bringing charges between now and the November midterms anyway, right? What this does is it allows the criminal investigators to keep doing their work and to not allow this entire process that Trump has succeeded in getting, which is a special master, which would've been a whole set of litigation, right?
PEREZ: Every document that they disagreed over, he was going to litigate that. This was going to be months and months and months. So at least it gets rid of that time line -- again, if this ruling stands. So, at a minimum, we know that the investigators are going to be able to do their work over the next couple of months before the midterm elections.
BURNETT: Elie, just to give you a chance to put an exclamation point on the fact when you talk about a possible en banc, right, with the entire circuit, this was unanimous, there's no daylight, there's no disagreement. This is all three judges in complete agreement on this decision for the Department of Justice. Two of them appointed by Trump and one by President Obama.
HONIG: Yeah. I think it's unlikely that the 11th Circuit would grant en banc. Of course, Trump can ask for it, but it is normally very unlikely, it's extraordinary to have that kind of review. What Donald Trump can do is try to bring this to the Supreme Court. But really for the same reasons, Erin, I think it's unlikely the Supreme Court intervenes here.
This is largely a procedural dispute. The bottom line is there will still be a special master, but those 100 classified documents are out of the special master's purview, and DOJ is free to use them for the time being in their investigation. BURNETT: And this is, of course, the off ramp that the justice
department had offered to justice cannon. And now they have won it on appeal. Thank you very much, Elie, of course, Evan Perez with the breaking news and Geoffrey Berman, former chief of the SDNY in New York.
And next the unprecedented surge in migration in America. We're going to take you where the federal agents are right now making a decision about whether someone has -- can stay or has to leave.
And a major update to the story of two Americans captured in Ukraine tonight suddenly unexpectedly to their families they are both free. The fiancee of one of them is my guest.
BURNETT: Tonight, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection breaking his silence to CNN on Republican governors sending migrants to sanctuary cities run by Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MAGNUS, COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: I think lying to vulnerable people, for whatever the purpose might be, can just never be the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It was a rebuke from the head of the agencies which oversees immigration in the United States.
OUTFRONT now from El Paso, Texas is Rosa Flores who spoke to the commissioner.
Rosa, what else did he tell you?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the commissioner said that he was very concerned overall about these free rides that these governors are offering on multiple levels. He says, first of all, migrants are sharing this information with individuals in their home countries. He also says that smuggling organizations could be using this to encourage migrants to cross the border.
On top of all that, because the governors, in this case, DeSantis and Abbott, are not coordinating, not cooperating with the federal government, it is complicating the mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and it could also be leading to more migration, something that El Paso is already seeing. So much so, it is testing the infrastructure and the resources of the city.
FLORES (voice-over): These are the struggles.
He hasn't taken off the rosary on the entire journey.
Of migrants who recently arrived in El Paso. Franklin is from Venezuela. He and his four children settled in for a night at the airport to fly to Atlanta to begin a new life.
He says that his wife is partially paralyzed. That's why she didn't make the journey.
Yensel Castro is fleeing Nicaragua. Her 4-year-old daughter has wiped away her tears more than she can remember.
And Carlos Guzman from Venezuela -- waits at the bus station holding a parting gift from his 2-year-old daughter.
They're part of the unprecedented surge in migration that El Paso's deputy city manager Mario D'Agostino says is testing the infrastructure here.
Where are we?
MARIO D'AGOSTINO, EL PASO CITY DEPUTY MANAGER: So this is the city of El Paso's welcoming center.
FLORES: He says a month ago, Border Patrol was releasing up to 250 migrants daily into El Paso after being processed. Now, about a thousand, and it's creating a shelter issue.
D'AGOSTINO: All the NGOs, all our shelters are already at capacity. So we're actually putting them up in hotels.
FLORES: And a transportation bottleneck.
D'AGOSTINO: We have a greyhound station, we have the airport. It doesn't have that many flights in and out per day.
FLORES: Border Patrol has been apprehending on average about 1,500 migrants a day in the El Paso region, a spike from last month's 900.
What you see behind me is Mexico. This is one of the routes that migrants use to cross into the United States. Once U.S. Customs and Border Protection realize that the spike in migration here in El Paso was not a one-day anomaly, they set up a mobile processing center here under the bridge. These buses are equipped with mobile processing technology.
This is where federal agents determine if migrants stay or go back. A process that CBP commissioner is more complicated now with the recent increase in migrants from three countries.
CHRIS MAGNUS, U.S. CBP COMMISSIONER: The Cubans, the Nicaraguans, the Venezuelans are not subject to Title 42. So they can not be removed like migrants from some other countries.
FLORES: The migrants we talked to say they survived the dangerous journey to the U.S.
She says that she witnessed a rape during the journey.
And don't want to stay in El Paso.
Where are you going?
Delgado is going to Atlanta, too. But while in El Paso, they need orientation and access to resources. That's why the city opened this migrant welcome center three weeks ago, where multiple buses chartered and paid for by the city of El Paso depart daily to Chicago and New York. That's where we met Castro.
Like so many migrants, she's hoping to reunite with family and has no money.
Inside the airport at midnight, an odd sense of normalcy the Delgado children haven't seen in a month, access to crayons and toys.
How difficult is it for you to know that your children don't have their mother?
He says it's really tough to grow up without a mother. His mother died when he was 9.
Despite the struggles for these three families -- just being on U.S. soil is a dream come true.
FLORES (on camera): The big question now is will these migrants be allowed to stay in the United States? And, Erin, the answer to that is it depends. All these migrants need to go through immigration proceedings and asylum and other types of relief isn't guaranteed in the United States -- Erin.
BURNETT: Rosa, thank you so much. Another important report.
And, tonight, a major update to a story of two Americans captured in Ukraine by Russian forces, held captive for more than 100 days. And tonight, they are free and was released in a prisoner swap with Ukraine.
Forty-year-old Alex Drueke and 27-year-old Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh were captured in June. They were fighting with Ukrainian forces north of Kharkiv.
And now, in a sudden developments, no one expect, their families got word they are freed and are currently at the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia undergoing medical checks before they return home.
OUTFRONT now, Joy Black, Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh's fiancee.
And, Joy, wow, people watching the show -- they have seen you many times. We've talked. You always were hoping and hoping Andy would be freed. I know you had no idea if he would ever come home, though. Have you spoken to him today?
JOY BLACK, FIANCEE OF ANDY TAI NGOC HUYNH, AMERICAN MISSING IN UKRAINE: I did. I finally got to talk to him for the first time in like 105 days ever since June 8th. It was just so amazing to finally get to hear his voice again and speak to him.
BURNETT: A hundred and five days? I mean, it's a miracle in so many ways. And I know you never lost hope. But, of course, I know there were times when you know you knew that it might not end this way. What did he tell you about how he's doing and what he went through?
BLACK: I asked him pretty quickly, like, how are you, are you in good health, how are you feeling? And he said he's feeling good, he's in good health. And I told him we've been waiting for this call for so long. He said he's been counting the days, too.
It's just so good to know that they're okay, that they're going to come home. This is just so out of the blue.
BURNETT: So out of the blue. I mean, I know, Joy, you had no idea when you say out of the blue, how did you even find out the news today?
BLACK: I had no idea it was going to happen. I actually -- I was at work, and I had sat down for break with my best friend, and she and I were just sitting and eating some gummies.
And I just got a random call from Saudi Arabia. And I turned to her and I was, like, Saudi Arabia, like why would I be getting a call? And it ended up being good news. And shortly after that we got confirmation from the State Department as well.
So, it just all became so real so quickly.
BURNETT: Wow. So when you got that call from Saudi Arabia, it wasn't the U.S. government telling you? It was literally Andy on the other end of the phone?
BLACK: Well, it was an official from the embassy and she very quickly handed it off to Andy.
BURNETT: What was it -- what was it like to hear his voice?
BLACK: It's kind of indescribable. I mean, I was still kind of in shock. I was like how do I know it's really you. He said this inside joke we have between each other. And instantly I was like it's really him.
My best friend turned to me, and she said, that's Andy. It was just such an amazing moment.
BURNETT: A joyful day. As I said, your name is so appropriate for this day. How soon are you hearing he could be back home? I know now it's probably for you just counting the minutes until you get to see him.
BLACK: Everything could still change minute by minute. But tentatively we're hoping for Friday.
BURNETT: Wow, so soon. Gosh, I can only imagine the feelings that you have. I know -- so are you -- are you -- what are you going to do on that day?
BLACK: Andy's already requested when he comes back to our house for spaghetti with meat. He said he's been craving it ever since he went to Ukraine and that when we pick him up, he wants like certain fast food and drinks or something that he hasn't gotten to have in a long time.
BURNETT: Well, I know you will deliver on that. I'm so glad to be able to have a wonderful ending to this story.
Joy, just so glad and so glad to talk to you. Thank you so much and congratulations. In fact, I'm not sure what the right word is, but congratulations.
BLACK: Thank you.
BURNETT: All right.
And next a special champions for change. I'm going to bring you the story of Ukrainian siblings, they came to the United States years ago. But wait until you hear what they are doing right now to help Ukrainians, many from Mariupol, who are fleeing the horrors of this war.
BURNETT: Tonight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanding the world take action against Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: A crime has been committed against Ukraine, and we demand just punishment. The crime was committed against our state borders. The crime was committed against the lives of our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: This comes as CNN is shining a light this week on people who are brave taking on a stand in the face of unimaginable challenges. It's a series we're very proud of called champions for change.
And for me after reporting from Ukraine, I wanted to tell the story about the Velychko siblings who emigrated from Ukraine years ago. They're now doing an incredible thing, opening up their homes, providing financial support, doing everything to help refugees from Ukraine escape the war and come to settle in the United States.
BURNETT (voice-over): Mariupol, Ukraine, last Christmas.
Mariupol, Ukraine now.
Since the start of the war, more than 7 million people have been forced to flee Ukraine. Alexander Urazov and his wife, Olga, were just two of them. They were trapped in Mariupol with their three children.
I met the Urazovs in a park in Brooklyn, New York. Their daughter was about to celebrate her seventh birthday. It was just days after they left Ukraine and at times it is still so hard for them to even tell their story.
OLEKSANDR URAZOV, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE (through translator): An explosion wave took out our front door and looters came in and took whatever they liked. The shell fragments remain in my back, and there is a hole in my head.
BURNETT: The Urazovs escaped thanks to another family who lived 5,000 miles away.
ALEX VELYCHKO, REFUGEE SUPPORTER (through translator): He's my childhood friend. We met when we were about 5 or 6 years old.
BURNETT: Alex Velychko and his siblings, Nick and Angela, came to the United States from Ukraine over the past two decades and they started a small and now thriving business operating car dealerships.
When Putin invaded Ukraine, their lives changed, too.
ANGELA WILSON, REFUGEE SUPORTER: We start calling our relatives, friends, asking how they are there, and people were panicking.
NICK VELYCHKO: Yeah, the conditions was really bad.
ANGELA VELYCHKO: We decided that we have to help them, get them out from there somehow.
BURNETT: One of the things that sticks with me it took them 19 days to get from Mariupol to the Ukraine border. They had three young children. They had an 8-month old baby.
In the early days of the war when I left Ukraine along with hundreds of thousands of refugees, it took 19 hours, and it was a grueling experience. And in the context you think, wow, the suffering that they endured and what they went through, the trauma is really unimaginable.
They first lived in Alex's one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, one- bedroom, one bathroom. And in that space, he and his wife have hosted as many as 12 refugees at once.
WILSON: Of course we have our challenges, but at the end of it all, I understand that they don't have anything else. They have nowhere to go. BURNETT: The Velychkos reached out to their local Jewish
organization. It's the Edith and Carl Marx Jewish Community House, and they worked with them and the United Jewish Appeal to help the Urazovs and so many other families who have been desperately fleeing Ukraine and trying to come to the United States to start a new life.
How much money have you all spent and how are you managing that?
NICK VELYCHKO: It's hard to tell how much money. You have to get the taxi, the tickets both ways. It's really hard.
WILSON: And then we rented in United States for $150,000.
BURNETT: Alexander wants to find a home, get a job but he's struggling to find work here in the United States.
OLHA URAZOVA, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE (through translator): It would be easier if they simplify the job permit process. It's just hard. We've been here for five months with no income.
ANGELA VELYCHKO: We're just trying to help them and save as many people we can, as many families we can. We already brought 15 families here.
WILSON: Yeah, five more are ready to come to the United States. They're approved, and more people are waiting over there in the country, in Ukraine. And it's very hard to choose.
BURNETT: It's a choice that no one wants to make, but the chosen in the face of such great loss are grateful for life.
URAZOV (through translator): They are doing a noble thing. They help people get out of the country where the war is under way.
BURNETT: Oleksandr uses the word noble, and that's what Alex, Angela, and Nick are, sacrificing their time and their hard earned success just to help others have a chance to build new dreams.
ILLIA URAZOV, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE (through translator): I dream of getting a good education here so I can have a good job.
MARIIA URAZOVA, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE (through translator): I want to go to school as soon as possible and make good grades.
BURNETT: And those children were really inspirational. Illia, the young boy there, said that he then wanted to start a new business, a small business if he could in the United States. Their parents never thought they'd leave Mariupol. Alex Urazov is a crane operator. They wanted to spend their lives there and now here they are desperately trying to build a life. He wants to get a job. He's Ukraine operator and he wants to work. They waited those five months for work papers. It is all they want to
do is work, and we heard that from many other Ukrainians. One woman, an accountant in Ukraine sitting here as a nail technician waiting for those papers. That is the biggest challenge they all face right now, is getting those working papers so that they can work and try to have a part of now the American dream.
Thanks so much for watching. You can be sure to tune in Saturday at 8:00 p.m. for the "Champions for Change" one-hour special.
It's time now for Anderson.