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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Russia And China Unite For A Week Of Live-Fire Naval Drills Near Japan; Today: Sam Bankman-Fried Back In Court After Confusion Stalls Hearing; U.K.'s High Court Upholds Plan To Send Migrants To Rwanda. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 20, 2022 - 05:30   ET



IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And then, Vladimir Putin went on and invaded Ukraine. And since then, his military has really taken a beating.

And these exercises will include, for example, Russia's Pacific fleet flagship -- warship. But the Black Sea fleets flagship -- that was sunk back in April by, we believe, a Ukrainian anti-ship missile.

The Russians may be trying to demonstrate that they can fight a war where they're taking immense losses and still operate in a place like the Pacific Ocean. They may also be trying to illustrate that they are not totally isolated. That the Chinese are still willing to work with them.

For China, they get to kind of show Japan, which is a close U.S. ally that has just announced it is dramatically ramping up its military expenditures, that it's got friends that can kind of make trouble and keep them on their toes.

So there's some muscle-flexing and clearly, some signaling going on, and something that Tokyo and Washington are watching closely.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. All right, thanks so much, Ivan.

Former FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried expected back in court in the Bahamas today. Bankman-Fried appeared in court Monday agreeing to be extradited to the U.S. before the proceedings descended into miscommunication and confusion. The judge -- at one point, the magistrate clearing the room so attorneys could talk to each other about what to do next.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann has more.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Bahamian prosecutors say that they had come on Monday to the courthouse behind me expecting to finalize an extradition agreement that would allow Sam Bankman- Fried to leave the Bahamas -- essentially, end his fight against extradition and go to the United States where he's facing federal charges for his alleged role in the meltdown of the FTX crypto organization and trading house.

That did not take place as very quickly in the hearing on Monday, prosecutors and Bankman-Fried's local attorney faced off. There was finger-pointing and accusations. The local attorney said that he had not been consulted and had not been part of this agreement that had been reached apparently, according to prosecutors, with Bankman- Fried's U.S. attorneys.

There were accusations throughout the hearing and eventually the judge allowed, at Sam Bankman-Fried's own request, a call to take place between his local attorney and U.S. attorneys to try to work out whatever differences have occurred. Shortly thereafter, within minutes, we saw Bankman-Fried be taken away under heavy guard back to the prison where he is currently being held.

Some of his U.S. representatives said that he had been eager to leave the Bahamas and face the charges against him -- charges that could lead, if he is convicted, to over 100 years in jail.

And one of the reasons behind that change in his legal strategy is that he is incarcerated at the moment at a prison in the Bahamas that, according to the State Department and human rights groups, is really unfit for prisoners. There's not enough space for enough beds. It's infested with maggots and rats. It's a violent place. And certainly, one could understand why a billionaire -- a former billionaire like Bankman-Fried would not want to spend any more time there.

But as the extradition -- as the extradition negotiations have broken down here it appears that he will be staying in the Bahamas behind bars for some time longer.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Nassau, the Bahamas.


ROMANS: All right, thanks, Patrick.

Quick hits around the globe right now.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has been reelected as leader of the ruling African National Congress. He survived impeachment last week after Parliament blocked an investigation into his corruption scandal.

The Dutch prime minister apologizing for the Netherlands' quote "slavery past" and its negative effects to this day. The country played a critical role in the slave trade through the Dutch East and West India companies.

Huge crowds of Argentine fans cheered their national team returning home as World Cup champions. Hundreds of thousands are expected to line the streets today for the victory parade in Buenos Aires.

Coming up, is it a good time to buy a car? A look at the pros and cons of getting new wheels before the year ends. And a controversial ruling as the U.K. faces a migrant crisis not unlike our own. (COMMERCIAL)


ROMANS: So, the U.S. is grappling with a surge of migrants on its southern border, and the U.K. has a similar problem. Britain's High Court has upheld a plan to deport many refugees to Rwanda for processing. The arrangement has stirred controversy ever since it was unveiled earlier this year. Most conservatives support it but critics have called it unethical and ineffective.

CNN's Nada Bashir is in London for us. What did the High Court say?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, this comes after months of deliberation by the courts. They have ruled the policy itself is lawful, but they have also specified that each potential deportation will have to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

But look, Christine, this is a policy which has drawn criticism from across the political spectrum and, of course, human rights groups who say that Rwanda is simply not a safe country for vulnerable migrants and refugees and that the government there is, itself, accused of serious human rights violations.

We were able to speak to one of the asylum seekers -- a man who fled Syria in 2017 who is now facing the very real prospect of being deported to Rwanda. Take a look.


BASHIR (voice-over): Another life lost in Britain's icy waters, another reminder of the dangers faced by migrants attempting to cross the English Channel from northern France. As many as 40,000 migrants have braved the dangerous crossing since the beginning of this year alone. Now, the government is doubling down on its plan to tackle illegal migration.

RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: When legal proceedings conclude on our migration and economic development partnership, we will restart the first flights to Rwanda.

BASHIR (voice-over): It was an eleventh-hour legal intervention which grounded the first deportation flight in June. Now, after months of deliberation, High Court judges in London have ruled that the policy is, in fact, lawful despite fierce criticism from lawyers and refugee advocacy groups.

SOPHIE LUCAS, LAWYER FOR CLAIMANTS: There are serious concerns around the functioning of the asylum system in Rwanda, as well as serious concerns about political freedom of expression.

BASHIR (voice-over): Under the government's scheme, thousands of migrants arriving in the U.K. illegally could be deported to Rwanda to have their asylum claims heard there.

Among them is Yousef, a Syrian refugee whose name we have changed to protect his identity. He was one of the more than 100 asylum seekers due to be deported to Rwanda in June.


YOUSEF, SYRIAN ASYLUM SEEKER (through translator): I want to live in peace in the U.K., to work and build a future here for my wife and son. It just breaks my heart there is no future for my son in Syria.

BASHIR (voice-over): Yousef says he fled his war-torn hometown of Daraa in Syria in 2017, leaving behind his wife and child in the hope of building a new life for them overseas. Yousef's journey took him from Syria to Lebanon and then onwards to Libya where he says he was detained for eight months before fleeing to Europe.

YOUSEF (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): We were given very little food or water. They would beat us, torture us.

Then, after I left Libya, I traveled across the sea to Italy. It was a very difficult journey. We were stuck at sea for about three days. One more day and I think we would have died.

BASHIR (voice-over): Like many refugees, Yousef then traveled to Cali in northern France, where he spent weeks living in a squalid refugee camp waiting to be smuggled on a small boat to the U.K. It's this very crossing that the government is now clamping down on despite widespread concern over how effective and how ethical the Rwanda deportation deal really is.

COLIN YEO, IMMIGRATION LAWYER: So there's no evidence that it's putting anybody off. We're talking about people who've fled really serious problems -- civil wars, massive human rights abuses in their own countries.

BASHIR (voice-over): While the High Court has now ruled in favor of the government, the court has also ruled that all potential deportation cases must now be considered on an individual basis. And campaign groups say they are still considering all legal options to appeal the judgment.

But for those fleeing some of the worst hardships imaginable, the prospect of being turned away is almost too much to bear.

YOUSEF (through translator): If they send me to Rwanda, then it's over for me. After all the struggles I faced and the long journey I've taken to reach this point, it will be devastating. I would kill myself.


BASHIR: And look, Christine, the government's own figures show that around three-quarters of those asylum claims are given an initial granting will be the refugee status of humanitarian protection. So we're talking about an overwhelming figure there of people who are in genuine need of help --

ROMANS: Right.

BASHIR: -- and protection in the U.K. This is a serious concern.

The claimants there, as you heard -- and, of course, human rights groups -- say that the government needs to focus less on exporting the problem and more on finding a way to ensure that there are safe and legal routes for people to seek asylum in the U.K. -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Nada Bashir. Thank you so much for that report from London.

Just ahead, Harvey Weinstein convicted again on rape charges. And is now the time to buy a car, new or used? What you need to know, next.



ROMANS: Your Romans' Numeral this morning, $1.52 trillion -- one and a half trillion dollars -- the total auto loan debt in the U.S. in the third quarter this year. That's about nine percent of all household debt. Buying a car, of course, is a big financial decision right behind buying a house and paying for college. More on the state of car-buying in America in a moment.

But first, looking at markets around the world right now, you can see that Asian shares are tumbling here in early Tuesday trading. European shares have opened lower here. And on Wall Street, stock index futures also taking a look at the key trend there -- yes -- also down here a little bit.

Look, recession worries continue on Wall Street. The Dow fell more than 162 points. The Nasdaq down more than 1 1/2 percent.

On inflation watch this morning, gas prices tumbling over, falling two cents and now sitting at $3.12 a gallon.

Used car prices are finally coming down and inventory finally going up. More cars on the lot before the end of the year.

What about new vehicles? Let's bring in the CEO of consumer startup CoPilot, Pat Ryan. Hi -- nice to see you this morning.

PAT RYAN, CEO, COPILOT (via Skype): Good morning, Christine.

ROMANS: Let's talk about used cars here first because, I mean, last spring I was looking at used car prices and it was just unbelievable the way this market was completely upside-down. But used car prices have been falling over the past few months.

Is now -- is now the time to be tipping your -- tipping back in there into the used car market?

RYAN: Well, it's better than it was but '23 is shaping up as a much better year for consumers than '22. We're just starting to see the market start to soften. That bubble popped in older cars in kind of the April timeframe. And in newer cars -- the nearly-new kind of one to three-year-old cars -- kind of in the August timeframe is when it started to -- air started to come out of that bubble.

But it's just starting. It should accelerate in '23. We think this is a better time than it's been but with interest rates having been kind of a backdoor price increase because of --

ROMANS: Right.

RYAN: -- payments being higher, it's still early. But things are shaping up to be a very good -- or much better, I should say, '23 for consumers when they look at buying cars.

ROMANS: So, if it's an optional car purchase you're talking about here, wait.

RYAN: Absolutely. We're seeing -- we saw prices for nearly-new cars peak in about August. New car volumes are way up and that's putting pressure on the nearly-new market, so that market is down nine percent since August. We expect that to accelerate. We're still pretty high relative to historicals. And while we may not get all the way back to old normal because it's been a quirky few years, it should get a lot better as we move into '23.

So this is a good time to know that the market is going to get better, but way too early to make a move, particularly with the higher interest rate environment we're in right now.

ROMANS: Yes. We just showed if you have good credit -- I mean really good credit -- you can get five -- just shy of 5 1/2 percent on a used car. If you have super, super good credit, like about 780, I think you might be able to nab something below four percent.

But you're right to point out that is a backdoor price increase because people are stretching out their payments for longer, right, to afford them, and the rates are going up.

RYAN: Absolutely.

ROMANS: Talk to me a little bit about the new car situation then. I mean, for a while there you couldn't get the new -- the new car model you wanted because the chip shortages meant that the -- they weren't coming off these assembly lines.

What's the situation there?

RYAN: It's improving a lot. I mean, we're not back to normal but the -- you can see it happening.


So we had the low of new car inventories that were just under a million last summer. We're back up to a million-seven. Now, that's short of the three million you would normally have on lots before the pandemic.

But to put it in perspective, we were at 29 days' worth of sales on dealers' lots -- about 29 days' worth of inventory in the summer. And that's up right now to 51 days. So at 51 days, it's shorter than 90 we saw before.

But this is a market that is going to keep moving. The new car market -- we're going to keep getting more inventory. And the deals will get better as new cars come in.

And those nearly-new prices, which are down from a year ago but really only started to come down in the summer. There's a lot of room for those to come down. And the idea that a nearly-new car costs as much or nearly as much as a new car is a thing of the past again, but that adjustment has a ways to run before we get back to normal.

So, there is a lot of inventory building --


RYAN: -- on the new side --

ROMANS: All right.

RYAN: -- that will lead to better incentives in '23. And the nearly- new side is going to keep adjusting as that happens. Plus, the consumer starts to buy less because of higher interest rates.


RYAN: The Fed is starting to (audio gap).

ROMANS: Absolutely.

All right, Pat Ryan. Thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning. Great advice there.

RYAN: Good to see you.

ROMANS: All right, consequential days for Donald Trump, facing criminal referrals and the possible release of his tax returns. And Trump-era border rules remain in place for now. What it means for thousands of migrants.


ROMANS: All right. Later today, hundreds of thousands will line the streets of Buenos Aires for a World Cup victory parade.

CNN's Stefano Pozzebon was there for the team's homecoming early this morning.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a hero's welcome for Lionel Messi and his teammates as they have landed in Buenos Aires in the early hours of Tuesday from Qatar after winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

[05:55:00] The plane carrying the national team landed here in Buenos Aires at 2:30 a.m. And as soon as the captain, Messi, emerged from the plane carrying the trophy, he was greeted by a live band and hundreds of fans that had been waiting for him for hours just to welcome him back to his homeland -- to the homeland of all the team, of course, in the early hours.

After landing, the team jumped on an open bus that will take them to the headquarters of the National Football Federation where they are expected to rest for a few hours before a parade on the streets of Buenos Aires.

The Football Federation is just a few kilometers away from Buenos Aires International Airport, but even that short journey was surrounded by hundreds of fans with flags and screaming -- and just expressing their joy at the return of the team.

Tuesday has been declared a national holiday here in Argentina, so we can expect even more people on the streets of Buenos Aires as the team makes their way with the cup. It's the first time that Argentina wins the FIFA World Cup since 1986. And it comes at a moment where the Argentina economy is in dire straits with inflation at over 90 percent and the political polarization is as deep as ever.

But this team and this captain, Lionel Messi, were able to really embody the spirit of the entire Argentinian people and that is why there are truly 45 million Argentinians waiting for them here in their homeland.

For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Buenos Aires.


ROMANS: A full homecoming -- all right.

The Green Bay Packers keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a win over the defending Super Bowl champs L.A. Rams on Monday night.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.


You know, it's not been a great season in Green Bay but if the Packers were to win out, they'd get to 9-8 on the season and have an outside shot of making the playoffs.

Now, the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field living up to its reputation last night. The temperature, 15 degrees at kickoff with a windchill of seven.

AJ Dillon putting the Packers in the lead in the second quarter with the first of his two touchdown runs. They'd never look back. Green Bay beats the Rams 24-12 and eliminates the defending Super Bowl champs from playoff contention.

But one of the best highlights of the night, as usual, coming from Peyton and Eli on the Manningcast.


ELI MANNING, MANNINGCAST: We've got Gumby in the house drinking a beer to his eye. I've never seen that technique. But hey, you know, you've got to do what you've got to do.



SCHOLES: All right, to the NBA. Mavericks star Luka Doncic and head coach Jason Kidd -- well, they weren't in the laughing mood during their game against the Timberwolves last night. Both of them getting ejected late in the third quarter after arguing with the officials over a no-call when Luka thought he was fouled on a shot. He was hit with two quick technical fouls and tossed. Kidd came to his defense and he got ejected.

The Mavs would go on to lose by 10.

And Kidd didn't have much to say to reporters after the game.


JASON KIDD, DALLAS MAVERICKS HEAD COACH: All right, I'm here because I have to be. So I already gave up money, so I don't want to give up anymore. So, no questions -- just -- we'll go back and look at the tape and see how we can get better. They were a better team tonight -- and we'll go from there. Thanks for showing up.



Thunder's star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continuing his breakout season against the Blazers. The game tied with three seconds left. SGA with the jumper at the buzzer to win it. He had a game-high 35 points as the Thunder got the win 123-121.

Elsewhere, Giannis and the Bucks going up against Zion and the Pelicans. Second quarter, Giannis flying through the air, basically jumping over Jose Alvarado for the alley-oop. He would dominate in this one -- 42 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bucks won that one 128-119.

All right, and finally, we're used to seeing Tiger Woods leading golfers on the course, but have you ever seen him leading them singing Christmas carols? Well, you can now check that off your list.


TIGER WOODS 15-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: Conducting caroling PGA tour stars in ad.


SCHOLES: That's, Christine, Rory McIlroy there losing his place in the hilarious spot from TaylorMade.

But, hey, some nice voices from some of the guys out there. I didn't know they had it in them.

ROMANS: Very funny -- OK. That's an interesting spot.

Thanks so much, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes with the Christmas cheer this morning.