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Isa Soares Tonight

Six Killed In Germany's Mass Shooting; New York Prosecutors Invite Trump To Testify; Biden And Von Der Leyen Speak At The White House; Biden Praises Closer U.S.-E.U. Relations; Trump Invited To Testify To Manhattan Grand Jury. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 10, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, six are dead in a mass shooting at a

Jehovah's Witness gathering in Hamburg, and a pregnant woman lost her unborn child. We are live in Germany with the latest on the investigation.

And then later, Donald Trump's legal woes. New York prosecutors have invited the former president to testify in a hush money investigation

involving Stormy Daniels. What that could mean about possible criminal charges.

Plus, we preview the glitz as well as the glam and potential upsets ahead of this weekend's Oscars a year after of course, that infamous slap. But

first, this evening, I want to let you know that we are monitoring the White House at this hour. Ursula von der Leyen, that's the president of the

European Commission is visiting Washington, very wet as you can see there this evening this afternoon here in Washington, are meeting this hour with

President Joe Biden.

We expect to hear brief comments from the two leaders inside the White House any time now. Of course, as soon as that gets underway, we will of

course bring that to you. Well, we begin tonight in Germany where the city of Hamburg is reeling from a deadly mass shooting. Six people have died and

eight others are injured.

Some critically after a gunman opened fire at a Jehovah's Witness center. A pregnant woman also lost her unborn child in that attack. Now, this video

shows the moment police entered the building during the shooting. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he's stunned by the violence. Have a listen.


OLAF SCHOLZ, CHANCELLOR, GERMANY (through translator): Last night, there was a terrible incident in my hometown of Hamburg. Several people have

become victims of a brutal act of violence. In the district of Ostendorf, a person running amok opened fire in a congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses,

killing several people and then apparently executing himself.

It's feared that further victims will succumb to their severe injuries. We are stunned by this violence.


SOARES: We are now learning more details about the gunman named by police as Phillip F. He was a 35-year-old German national who was a former member

of the Jehovah's Witness community, although, his motive is unclear at this stage. Police say he had left the congregation on bad terms. And of course,

we are working with -- to connect with the journalist in Germany.

Of course, as soon as we have connected with him, we will bring that to you. In the meantime, I want to take you to Ukraine, almost a half million

people in Ukraine's second largest city are in the dark more than a day after a massive Russian missile attack. And this is Kharkiv, one of the

many cities Russia targeted early on Thursday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia fired a total of 95 missiles right across the country, six people were killed in the assault.

And as one of Mr. Zelenskyy's advisors told me yesterday, the country's air defense has struggled really, to keep up, intercepting only 34 Russian

missiles. Our Melissa Bell shows us our Ukraine is facing the threat.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every missile taken down means lives saved. Here with the German short-range Gepard or here. One

missile taken down with a machine gun.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's a pity that I didn't shoot down three. It's a shame that two got through. They hit civilian targets,

all critical infrastructure facilities and people who work there.

BELL: These are Ukrainian drone hunters, and day and night, they scan the skies, eyes in the backs of their heads. Their machine gun loaded onto an

armored vehicle, trading warmth for agility.

UNIDENTIFIIED MALE (through translator): The trajectories of the missiles and drones are constantly changing. Which means that stationary units were

not enough, so we created mobile ones.

BELL: Most nights, this is what the skies above Ukraine look and sound like.


And more than a year into the war, all that western equipment is helping. On Wednesday night, over 90 missiles and 8 tracking drones were detected.

Of those, more than 30 missiles and 4 Shaheens were intercepted, says the Ukrainian military.

(on camera): Here in the frontline town of Kupiansk, you can see what more than a year of heavy artillery and mortar fire have done. It was again the

case on Wednesday night. There's not much air defense can do about that. On the whole, what the Ukrainian military says is that with western help, its

air defense systems have actually been remarkably efficient and from the very start of the invasion.


YUNI IGNAT, SPOKESMAN, UKRAINE AIR FORCE (through translator): If this haven't happened, we would probably not be talking to you now, and there

would be no such country as Ukraine. Thanks to the Air Force, we really managed to hold the keys to the sky.

BELL: This is a rare close-up look at Iran's technology of death. A Shaheen drone relatively intact for having been fished out of the Black

Sea. At its head, it would have carried 50 kilograms worth of explosives. This is what 20 kilograms looks like.


And this is what that looks like on the ground. Part of Russia's devastating war of attrition with civilian casualties on most nights, way

beyond the frontlines of the east. Melissa Bell, CNN, Kharkiv.


SOARES: Well, Russia has been capturing some U.S. and NATO weapons from the battlefields in Ukraine. They're sending them to Iran which could then

reverse engineer their own copies. That is according to four U.S. sources familiar with the matter. They tell CNN that Russia's growing partnership

with Iran is dangerous, not just for Ukraine, but for Iran's neighbors of course, in the Middle East.

Natasha Bertrand joins me now from the Pentagon for more on this. So Natasha, just explain for how long they've been doing this, how they are

doing this, and what is Iran of course, doing with these weapons?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Isa, so this has been going on for at least several months. And the U.S. has seen multiple

instances of it happening. Now, what is going on is that Russia is able to capture some U.S.-provided equipment on the battlefield in Ukraine, when

for example, Ukraine is forced to withdraw rapidly or if they are overrun.

And what they're doing with that equipment in many instances is they're actually giving it to Iran as part of this growing Russia-Iran defense

partnership that we've seen really intensify over the last year. Russia has been giving Iran this western-provided equipment, which U.S. officials

believe Iran is going to use to essentially reverse-engineer it and try to reproduce it, so that it could then make its own version of the U.S.-

provided U.S.-style equipment and proliferate it in the region.

Now, these are things like shoulder-fired missile systems, things like javelin anti-tank weapons, stinger anti-aircraft systems. And again, this

is not happening on a very wide scale and it's not systematic. And the Ukrainians do tell the Americans every time they lose some of that

equipment to Russian forces. They are very good about kind of self- reporting those losses to the Defense Department.

But look, the bottom-line here is that the Iranians are very good at reverse engineering U.S. equipment. One of the top weapons that they have

in their inventory is an anti-tank guided missile, that is actually a reverse-engineered American-made missile that they have been using since

the 1970s. Just a few years ago, the Iranians were also able to intercept an American drone and reverse-engineer that and create their own drones

which then flew into Israeli airspace.

So, the concern here is that because of this partnership that they have with Russia now, being able to have this kind of equipment, it could pose a

broader threat to Iran's enemies in the region. Of course, a top concern among the U.S. and its Middle East allies, of course. Isa?

SOARES: And the U.S. -- you and I have spoken about this before, Natasha, the U.S. has been warning about Russia's military cooperation with Iran for

some time now. So what are U.S. officials saying? How are they responding?

BERTRAND: Yes, so U.S. officials are not responding directly to our reporting. We did ask a Defense Department official for comment, and he

referred us to comments that were made by the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy here, Colin Kahl, who told lawmakers in a hearing earlier this

month, that they are seeing this diversion of weapons, U.S.-provided weapons to the Russians in some instances.

Essentially, that they are seeing of course, these U.S.-provided weapons be captured on the battlefield because that is just the reality of war.

However, he said that they're not seeing this happen in very large numbers. And as of right now, no U.S. official has been willing to respond on the

record or even really on background to us about whether -- what the U.S. is doing about, of course, the transfer of those weapons to Iran, which of

course is stoking a lot of concern among the Middle East allies. Isa.

SOARES: Indeed, Natasha Bertrand for us this hour at the Pentagon, thanks very much, Natasha. And I want to return now to Germany. We mentioned a few

minutes ago, and the mass shooting of course, in Hamburg which killed six people. As we mentioned earlier in the show, a gunman opened fire at a

Jehovah's Witness center, a pregnant woman also lost her unborn child in the attack.

I want to bring in Simon Young in Berlin, a political correspondent at "DW News". Simon, great to have you on the show. Just talk -- just explain to

our viewers what you understand, you know, what happened here?


SIMON YOUNG, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, DW NEWS: Well, clearly, this was a horrific attack.

It was a Jehovah's Witness church meeting that had just come to an end when this man appeared outside the building, and as people, I think were

preparing to leave, he began to shoot. There was a woman who had already got into her car, who was lightly wounded, but she managed to drive away.

The gunman got into the building and just apparently by the accounts we've had so far, started shooting indiscriminately and killing people evidently

at close range. He then went to -- closer to the building, as the special police units arrived, which they did pretty quickly it seems within a few

minutes. And he killed himself.

And so, that was the end to it. But it was obviously a very serious bloodbath on the scene and a great tragedy for Hamburg.

SOARES: Indeed, and what do we know about the shooter? Who was he? I mean, did he know the victims?

YOUNG: So there's quite a lot of details that have come out about this. That he's a 35-year-old man, a German citizen and a former member of this

Jehovah's Witness congregation. Now, it seems that he left the Jehovah's Witness about 18 months ago, and there are conflicting reports about

whether he did that voluntarily or whether he was thrown out.

But at the very least, according to police, there were differences of opinion, arguments. There were some, you know, bad blood you might say

between them. And of course, some people have begun to suggest that could be a part of a motive here. But, you know, what is evident about him was

that he had got involved in guns. I think that's something that's in fact directly prohibited according to the teachings of the Jehovah's Witness.

At any rate, he had got himself a gun permit and had this semi-automatic weapon quite legally that he used to carry out this attack. And now, an

interesting detail there is that an anonymous tip off had gone to the authorities just a month or so ago, and suggesting that maybe this man had

psychological problems and suggesting to the authorities they should look into him.

They did that. Now, they paid him a visit, checked that his weapons were under lock and key, and they came away deciding that there was no further

action needing to be taken. Well of course, with hindsight, that looks like the wrong decision.

SOARES: Yes, indeed, especially if you got a tip off to the authorities, and given everything that has unfolded in Hamburg. Just give us a sense,

Simon, really, of the community, of this moment in the community, what the mood is. Because I can imagine just how shaken they must have been by this.

YOUNG: I think people are shocked. The Chancellor Olaf Scholz who said that, you know, was stunned by this act of violence. And you know, the

mayor of Hamburg described it as the worst attack in Hamburg's recent history. And so people are beginning to try and to come to terms with this.

This is a -- you know, what one perhaps should say is that these kind of shootings or rampages rare in Germany, but they do happen again and again

every few years.

And every time, there's been concern about whether the right measures are in place, and in fact as it happens. The current government has a law going

through parliament, going through the legislature at the moment to tighten the rules on gun ownership. There are already controls in place requiring

certain levels of psychological evaluation, but people of course, are already asking, could more have been done?

What could have been done? The police response, as I mentioned, were said to be very quick. Lives were saved, there were at least 30 or 40 people in

the building at the time. So, the fact that six adults were among the victims, you know, you could say it's a success for the police. But

clearly, questions are being asked in Germany again as it happens every few years when we get these types of killing sprees, and people begin to shake

their heads. It's a real tragedy.

SOARES: Yes, and understandably, that people will ask these questions in moments like this. Simon Young, appreciate you taking the time to speak to

us, thanks Simon. Now, two bitter rivals have agreed to restore diplomatic relations, a dramatic shift that could have wide-ranging implications for

the Middle East as well as beyond.


Saudi Arabian -- Saudi Arabia, pardon me, and Iran say they will reopen their embassies within two months. The surprise agreement was brokered by

China in talks just revealed today. Years of hostility between the regional powerhouses have had very real consequences on the ground, fueling

conflicts from Yemen to Lebanon. Our Nada Bashir is following developments tonight for us from Istanbul.

And Nada, these are two of the biggest players in the Middle East. Just explain really, first of all, the significance of the Saudi-Iran


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well look, Isa, this is hugely significant. We're not just talking about diplomatic cooperation here or the reopening

of embassies, but this is going to be cooperation on a whole range of fronts including the activation of a security cooperation agreement which

was signed by the two parties back in 2001 as well as trade and technology cooperation.

The framework of which was agreed between Saudi and Iran back in 1998. And they both also said that they are committed to not interfering in each

other's internal affairs. But of course, we've also heard from the Iranian foreign minister in the last couple of hours. He said that this isn't only

significant for Saudi Arabia and Iran, but for the region as a whole and for in his words the Muslim world as a whole.

He said that Iran is now looking actively, seeking to establish diplomatic relations or improve diplomatic relations with many of its regional

neighbors. So this could mark a significant shift in the region of course. That rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the last seven years has had a

significant impact regionally. We've seen increasing tensions in the gulf, we've seen a deepening of conflicts in Syria, in Yemen where both parties

have thrown their backing behind opposing groups.

We've seen even Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, we've seen their oil facilities coming under attack by groups and actors backed by Iran,

namely, the Houthi rebels in Yemen. So, this will be a significant shift, and also of course, we sure remember, this was brokered in China, this was

brokered in Beijing. And this marks a clear signal that China is expanding its diplomatic and also its economic interests in the region.

The region which is typically been considered to be under the sphere of influence of the U.S. government. And of course, Isa, we have to remember

the context in which this is all happening. Iran is finding itself increasingly isolated on the international stage, not only as a result of

the brutal crackdown on the anti-regime protests that we've seen over the last few months.

And the dire human rights abuses, but also of course, Iran's failure to adhere to its international commitments when it comes to it. So nuclear

activity -- we've seen those efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, completely frozen now and stalling. And so, Iran clearly looking for

backing, for support from its closer neighbors.

So this is a significant shift, and of course, we are expecting that this could have an impact on its regional neighbors. For now, both parties say

this is a step in the right direction. It remains to be seen how this manifests for the rest of Iran and Saudi Arabia's regional neighbors. Isa.

SOARES: Indeed, Nada Bashir for us this evening in Istanbul. Thanks Nada. And still to come tonight, the cartel that's believed to have kidnapped

four Americans in Mexico has now issued an apology letter. We will discuss that. And then a little later, is Donald Trump about to be indicted? We'll

go to New York to find out why an invitation to testify could be a prelude to criminal charges. We'll explain next.



SOARES: Welcome back. The French President and the British Prime Minister are sitting down for talks between their countries for the first time in

five years. Emmanuel Macron is hosting Rishi Sunak for discussions on the war in Ukraine, among other issues. Ties between the two countries became

tense after Britain voted in favor of Brexit, but were reinforced by Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Here's the French President.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT, FRANCE: My wish definitely because it makes sense with our history, our geography, our DNA, I would say, is to have the

best -- I mean, best possible relations and the closest alliance. But it will depend on our commitment, our willingness, but I am sure we will do



SOARES: Well, migration across the English Channel is also at the top of that agenda. Britain has agreed to pay France about $577 million over three

years to help address the problem. Now, here is what Rishi Sunak said.


RISHI SUNAK, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Within weeks of my coming into office, we agreed our largest ever, small boat still, and today, we've

taken our cooperation to an unprecedented level to tackle this shared challenge.

We're announcing a new detention center in northern France, a new command center, bringing our enforcement teams together in one place for the first

time, and an extra 500 new officers patrolling French beaches, all underpinned by more drones and other surveillance technologies that will

help ramp up the interception rate.


SOARES: Well, on the other side of the European continent, Italy is cracking down on human smugglers. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's

government has just approved a punishment of up to 30 years imprisonment. This comes after a boat carrying mostly African migrants smashed apart last

month, if you remember, on a sandbag near Italy's southern Calabria region.

At least, 72 people were killed, 28 of the minors. Meantime, hundreds more migrants have been plucked to safety. This boat carrying 105 people docked

in Italy as the Red Cross check them out. And the Italian Coast Guard rescued 38 migrants off Lampedusa Island, the southernmost point of Italy,

of course.

And right now, it's responding to a boat from Libya carrying about 500 more. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have reached Italy by boat during

the past decade. Well, Prime Minister Meloni's right-wing government is getting a boost from Benjamin Netanyahu, whom himself heads a right-wing

coalition back home.

The Israeli Prime Minister is visiting Rome and says Israel wants to help Italy become an energy hub by increasing the flow of Israeli gas exports to

Europe via Italy. In a brief statement after meeting with Miss Meloni there, Mr. Netanyahu did not mention his push for Italy to recognize

Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Earlier, he said that issue though was on the agenda.

Well, China's leader is extending his grip on power. President Xi Jinping secured an unprecedented third term on Friday. Our Selina Wang is in

Beijing with all the details for you.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The role of the president in China is largely ceremonial.

(voice-over): But it is still symbolic and important that Xi Jinping has secured an unprecedented third term as Chinese president. It's a reminder

that he's got an iron grip over the country.

It solidifies his control and makes him the longest-serving head of state of communist China since its founding in 1949. Now, back in 2018, Xi

scrapped the two-term limit on the presidency, meaning he could stay on as head of state for life. But his true power comes from being the head of

party and military.


These are rules he was already reappointed to at the communist party congress back in October. So what we saw today was political theater. He

got more than 2,900 unanimous votes from China's rubberstamp legislature. Then they all stood up for a standing ovation. At this ongoing big

political event, we'll also see reshuffles of leadership roles and state organizations.

Changes that will all further increase Xi's power. On Saturday, Li Qiang, who is one of Xi's most trusted proteges, he's expected to be chosen as

China's premier. He was the former party secretary of Shanghai and oversaw the brutal two-month COVID lockdown last Spring.

(on camera): And the team of officials that run China's economy is also getting a big shake-up. The four main men, unlike their predecessors, have

not been educated in the West or are seen as having little experience dealing with international financial organizations. But what they do have

in common is that they're close allies of Xi.

So what should we expect to see in this coming term? We should expect to see increasing communist party control at home and its continued, asserted,

more aggressive foreign policy abroad. Beijing views its actions as trying to restore China's rightful standing in the world as a great power. And

it's clear there's not going to be an easy off-ramp to U.S.-China tensions.

Xi Jinping's view of the bilateral relationship is turning more pessimistic. Earlier this week, he made the rare move and directly accusing

the U.S. of leading a campaign to contain and suppress China. It is rare for him to directly call out the U.S. Then the following day, China's new

foreign minister warned that conflict with the U.S. is inevitable if the U.S. does not change course.

To the people here in China, the message from Beijing is that the U.S. is trying to choke the country off. Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


SOARES: And still to come tonight, Donald Trump's legal problems will go to New York, to find out why an invitation to testify could be a prelude to

criminal charges. Plus later, will there be any more fireworks at this year's Academy Awards? What you can expect at Sunday's ceremony when you're

on from that slap.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. I want to take you now to the White House where U.S. President Joe Biden is hosting the European Commission president

Ursula von der Leyen and trying to resolve a dispute over electric cars. And this is just from a few minutes ago. Look.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wow. Madam President, welcome back to the White House. Welcome back to the Oval Office and it's always

good to see you. You've done an incredible job.

Two years ago, we committed to a new era of understanding between the E.U. and the U.S. I told you then that times have changed from the previous

administration and that we view the E.U. as a great addition to security and economic security. And I thought we could benefit all our peoples, and

I think we have. I think we have.

And we stood with the brave people of Ukraine, providing security assistance and implementing historic sanctions that cut off Putin's ability

to fund and to fight his war in Ukraine and making it harder for him.

We supported Europe's energy security. I remember you and I talking about launching the joint task force and whether or not we'd be able to provide

enough liquefied natural gas. We supplied twice as much as we thought --


PRESIDENT BIDEN: -- we could. It worked. It worked.

PRESIDENT VON DER LEYEN: This is really good.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: It worked. And at the same time, we're driving new investments to create clean energy industries and jobs, and make sure we

have supply chains available to both our continents. And the idea -- under that idea is it underpins our Inflation Reduction Act, and it lies at the

heart of the -- your Green Deal Industrial Plan in the E.U. So, hopefully, we can talk a little bit about that today.

And finally, I want to thank you for your leadership on the Windsor Framework, which has protected the hard-earned peace that existed on the

Good Friday -- proceeds from the Good Friday Agreement, which I think has probably surprised a lot of Europeans how strongly so many Americans feel

about that negotiated agreement.

And, Madam President, the steps the U.S. and the E.U. are taking over the last few years has increased energy security, its -- our economic security,

and, I would argue, our national security.

So, today, I look forward to talking about all that with you and anything you'd like to talk about.

DER LEYEN: Thank you very much, Mr. President. It's a pleasure to be here and an honor to be back again. And it's good to come back here because we

are not only partners of the European Union and the United States are good friends. And this could be felt throughout the whole work that we are doing


Indeed, you helped us enormously when we wanted to get rid of the Russian fossil fuel dependency by -- you helped us enormously by delivering more

LNG, helped us through the energy crisis.

We are, as partners, strongly supporting together Ukraine, that fight for freedom and independence. We're making Russia pay for its atrocious war.

We're strongly aligned defending our values.

And indeed, today, I think we will also discuss the Inflation Reduction Act, and I think it's great that there is such a massive investment in wind

and clean technologies now. Indeed, we want to match it with the Green Deal Industrial Plan.

So, plenty of topics to discuss together. Thank you very much, again.

BIDEN: I look forward to doing that.

DER LEYEN: Thank you.

BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you.


SOARES: And you listened there to Ursula von der Leyen, who is, of course, the European Commission President, and President Biden, speaking there at

the Oval Office ahead of their meeting. As you can see, as you heard there, there's plenty for them to discuss today in their meeting, not just

Ukraine, how to effectively counter Russia, how to put pressure on Russia. And also concerns over China may be considering providing weaponry to

Russia, but also this trade spat that you heard President Biden mention there, which is Biden's basic landmark inflation Reduction Act, which has

been -- has left some European allies, I think it's fair to say, somewhat frustrated.

Let's get some perspective on what we've just heard. Kevin Liptak is at the White House. And, Kevin, what stood out to you from what you heard? There's

plenty for them to actually discuss today.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, there certainly is. And certainly both of these leaders did want to put on a very united front. Of

course, amid the war in Ukraine, that's true that the U.S. and the E.U. have never really been more aligned in terms of that perspective. But

lingering underneath that is this trade issue when it comes to clean energy subsidies and this is what, at least American officials, say would be at

the very center of these talks in the Oval Office today.


This dispute centers around critical minerals that are required for electric vehicle batteries. The President's signature economic plan, the

Inflation Reduction Act, disadvantaged non-American companies who are providing those minerals. And this is a dispute that's really been ongoing

since the President signed that plan last year, at the end of the last year. When the French president Emmanuel Macron came to the White House, it

was something that he raised with the President. Of course, Ursula von der Leyen will raise it with the President today.

And what officials say coming out of this meeting that they will do is they'll agree to begin negotiations on a way to -- for European companies

to be able to sort of benefit from the subsidies that are included in this plan. But the real fear, I think, among American officials is that this

could sort of escalate into something that would provide a rift between the US and the E.U. at a moment when they really cannot afford that. Already,

tensions are high because of Ukraine, already the relations between the E.U. and the U.S. are sort of being tested as this war enters a second

year. And that is, this is not something that they necessarily wanted to come between these two leaders.

And so that is expected to be sort of the main takeaway from these talks today. But you did mention China. And I think that's the other big thing

that President Biden was coming in to these -- to this meeting wanting to talk about, as the U.S. warns that Beijing could be potentially providing

lethal aid to Russia. The U.S. has vowed to punish China if they were to do that. But their options are limited in the United States. Their tariffs

already remain in place on Beijing, there's already limits on the exports that the U.S. can put in to China.

And so I think he really wants the Europeans on board with that as well, because potentially, they could have a lot more effect on what they do from

their side of things. So, that's the other issue that I think will be at the center of these talks today, Isa.

SOARES: Kevin Liptak for us in Washington. Appreciate it. Thanks, Kevin.

Now is former U.S. President Donald Trump about to get indicted? Prosecutors in Manhattan have now offered Trump a chance to testify next

week before a grand jury, signaling it may be preparing to refer charges against him. The jury is investigating $130,000 hush money payment to adult

film actress Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 presidential election. Trump denies he had an affair with Daniels and it's not clear if he'll

agree to testify.

CNN'S Kara Scannell is tracking Trump's legal troubles for us from New York. So Kara, just talk us through, first of all, the significance of this

offer to testify. What does this mean then for the former president here?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Yes, I mean, this invitation to testify before the grand jury is something that is required under New York law to offer

this opportunity to any potential defendant. But it is very significant because it indicates that this investigation, which has been going on on

and off for five years, is nearing a conclusion and that a decision on whether to seek an indictment of the former president is likely to be made

in the next few weeks, not months. So, this is something that has certainly picked up pace and is coming to, you know, some kind of finalization.

We've seen a number of witnesses come before the grand jury and meet with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, including Hope Hicks, who was

Trump's press secretary, Kellyanne Conway, who's on his campaign, and, of course, his fixer, Michael Cohen, the person at the center of this hush

money payment, he was back meeting again with prosecutors again today. This is the third or fourth time in just the past few weeks that he has been in.

You know, now the charges that they're looking at here, potential charges, you know, it all relates to the hush money payment, but the hush money

payment itself is not what is illegal. They're -- what the prosecutors are looking at is how the Trump Organization and the former president

reimbursed Michael Cohen for those payments. So, they're looking at possible state charges of falsifying business records, that's a misdemeanor

in New York State, but also a possible felony charge, that's falsifying business records, with the intention to commit or conceal another crime and

what that other crime would be -- would be campaign finance violations.

You remember Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance charges then. Now this is a novel legal theory. It's a -- it's not a slam

dunk case for the prosecution, and they would have to prove that the former president intended to commit this act, to commit campaign finance laws. Now

he has denied any knowledge of this payment. And his lawyers are out today saying that they think that this is selective prosecution. One of his

attorneys, Joe Tacopina, had told us the D.A. and the former D.A. have been scouring every aspect of President Trump's personal life and business

affairs for years in search of a crime and need to stop.

This is simply not what our justice system is about. This is one of, you know, many investigations involving the Former President. He's also under

investigation for his role in the 2020 presidential election, both at the state and federal level, as well as his handling of classified documents,



SOARES: Kara Scannell, thank you very much, Kara.

Now former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, says even his adoptive parents are a little bit racist. Kaepernick, who famously took a knee, of

course, to protest racism during the U.S. National Anthem, was adopted by a white couple and says he knows they loved him. But some things during his

childhood, he says, were problematic. He recounted a story where his mother said his braid -- he braid -- his braided hair made him look like a thug.

And still to come tonight, a surprising apology from the cartel that's believed to have kidnapped four Americans in Mexico. But the U.S. is

warning don't believe that it's sincere. That story next.


SOARES: Authorities in Mexico say they have detained five more people over last week's violent kidnapping that killed two Americans and a Mexican

bystander. One person was detained a few days ago. The State Attorney General has just released these images you're looking out of the six men

that says have been arrested or detained in the kidnapping and killings. They're all being held as the investigation continues.

Hours earlier, a cartel in Mexico apparently issued a letter of apology and handed over five of its members to local authorities whom it claims carried

out the attack. Gunmen kidnapped four Americans in Mexico last week in broad daylight. Family members tell us they had traveled to a town along

the border so one of them could have a medical procedure. The group that's believed to be responsible is the Gulf Cartel. I want to bring in our Chief

Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst, John Miller. So, John, first of all, what does this letter say? And just how common are apology letters

from Mexican cartels?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT & INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So let me answer the second question first. It's pretty unheard of, letters from the

cartel, apology letters, we don't see that. what the letter says is that these men were acting outside of discipline, outside of the rules and

independently on their own when they kidnapped these four individuals, killed two of them apparently when they tried to escape, so that is not

something we see much.

Now Isa, what it tells us is the cartel knows that that was a mistake. They know that Americans will be a flashpoint, even in a country where they have

killed thousands of Mexicans deliberately, or in the crossfire. But they are looking for containment of this incident by saying we're turning over



We're sorry for what happened, and it wasn't on orders from us.

SOARES: Do authorities investigation team, do they believe this letter?

MILLER: So, they believe the letter is authentic, because the letter came with five bodies, live bodies of apparently cartel members who were

involved in this. And authorities additionally believe that they are five people who were involved, not just five expendable people that they decided

to turn over, because the cartel is aware that there are witnesses who can identify them to wit the victims. There's video that shows their images.

So, they're pretty confident that this is the cartel trying to say, let's get past this thing as quickly as possible before either we bring more

American heat across the border or more Mexican heat into this region.

SOARES: Yes. So letter's authentic, but they doubt the apology is sincere, basic in other words. John, what has been the reaction then to the letter

from the families here?

MILLER: Well, we're still trying to zero in on what their reaction is. The first family members that CNN spoke to weren't aware of the letter and were

surprised to hear of its content. So, I think they're still in the processing mode.

SOARES: Right. John Miller, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us, John. Thank you. And we'll be back after this short break.


SOARES: Welcome back. Now to a cultural moment really that's happening right now here in the U.K. Former football star Gary Lineker will step back

from presenting the Match of the day Football Show following controversy over a tweet he sent. On Tuesday, Lineker tweeted condemnation of the

British government's new asylum seeker policy, calling it immeasurably cruel and beyond awful. The BBC said the tweet reaches social media

guidelines, and the decision was made, after "extensive discussions with Lineker and his team."

No comment yet from Lineker or his representatives, but two pundits have said they'll boycott Match of the Day Saturday in solidarity, and those two

pundits normally present the show or next to him as pundits, of course, when he presents the football show on Saturday. So we'll stay on top of

that story for you.

Well, Hollywood's biggest night is just two days away.


The 95th Academy Awards will turn the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles into a star-studded event as CNN Stephanie Elam tells us the night should be full

of thrills, possible upset, and most hopefully drama-free after, of course, last year's shocking slap.


OSCAR PRODUCER: And when we're done with this, we're going to be carpeting all of Hollywood.



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Oscars are back. The first since the slap made Hollywood's biggest night the Academy's biggest nightmare.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: It still hurts.

ELAM: Just a week after Chris Rock took aim at Will Smith.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, 95TH ACADEMY AWARDS: Second I saw Will Smith get up out of his seat, I'd have been halfway to the Wetzel's Pretzels.

ELAM: All eyes will be on host Jimmy Kimmel who says he will address the slap.

KIMMEL: You know, comedians are mad about it. It's one of those things that for a group of people that find everything funny, it's like not funny, you

know? But, of course, it's, you know, you have to.

ELAM: The fallout also upends Oscar tradition. Since Smith won Best Actor last year.


MATTHEW BELLONI, FOUNDER PARTNER, PUCK: They have to find somebody to present Best Actress because typically, the tradition is if you win Best

Actor, you come back and you present Best Actress, but that's not going to happen because he's banned from the show.

ELAM: This year's drama should come from the awards. Possible upsets?

JAMIE LEE CURTIS, ACTRESS: I've been an actress since I was 19.

ELAM: A late SAG Award surge from Jamie Lee Curtis could lift her over supporting actress favorite Angela Bassett. Neither veteran has ever won.

ELAM: What does that mean for you?

ANGELA BASSETT, BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINEE: You know what? It's just a clear example that you've got to hold on.

BRENDAN FRASER, ACTOR: I'm smiling and breathing.

ELAM: SAG and Critic's Choice winner Brendan Fraser will go down to the wire with Austin Butler for Best Actor.

AUSTIN BUTLER, ACTOR: I'm ready. Ready to fly.

ELAM: The Elvis star won a BAFTA, the British Oscar, a bellwether since the Academy has welcomed more international voters.

BAZ LUHRMANN, DIRECTOR, "ELVIS": Denzel Washington said to me you're about to work with a young actor, because he had just worked with him, whose work

ethic is like no other. He was right.

ELAM: If there's an Oscar shocker, it could be for Best Actress where Michelle Yeoh is expected to win for "Everything Everywhere All At Once."

CATE BLANCHETT, ACTRESS: I am excited. I'm excited.

ELAM: Cate Blanchett's BAFTA win keeps her competitive, but the outlier Andrea Riseborough, whose role as an alcoholic in the small film "To

Leslie" led to a social media push inside Hollywood that won her a surprise nomination. She was allowed to remain a contender after an Academy

investigation into the tactics of the campaign. A probe that upset some of a Riseborough's supporters.

BELLONI: There could be a protest vote that goes on here. And if there is a shocker on Oscar night, it's going to be if she wins.


SOARES: And Stephanie Elam joins us now from Los Angeles. So Stephanie, let's talk us through the -- some of the contenders here. I know

"Everything Everywhere All At Once" are leading the nominations there with 11. But on this side of the Atlantic, as you saw with the BAFTA, there was

a lot of love for "All Quiet on the Western Front" and "The Banshees of Inisherin. " I mean, how -- what are the chances there?

ELAM: Well, I would say, Isa, because "All Quiet on the Western Front" is also up for international feature, I would put my money on that winning in

that category and not winning for Best Picture, but it is rank voting. So, one thing that could happen here is because people did love "Top Gun." They

may not have chosen it as their number one, but it could still, like, shimmy in there if people have put it high enough in their ranking. And

also, you know, remember "Top Gun" got a lot of people back to movie theaters. So within Hollywood, they appreciate the efforts and just people

just felt good about that movie.

SOARES: Now I know you're not a betting lady. I know you, Stephanie, but let's do this because I really want to know. Best Film.

ELAM: "Everything Everywhere All At Once. "

SOARES: Best Director.

ELAM: That one -- I -- you know what, I think I'm going to have to go with -- there's so much love -- I think this might actually go to Martin

McDonagh simply because I don't think the movie's going to win in other category. So, I think they'll give it to him there.

SOARES: Actress. Best actress.

ELAM: Bets actress, Michelle Yeoh.

SOARES: Oh, yes. She was fantastic. Best actor.

ELAM: That's a difficult one because you got Brendan Fraser who won. I'm going to still go with Austin Butler because he did a phenomenal job, too.

SOARES: OK. What about supporting? Who are we thinking?

ELAM: Best supporting actor, I'm going to go with Ke Huy Quan, because I just think -- first of all, he's been doing so well from "Everything

Everywhere All At Once. And also, again, another veteran actor that's been around for a long time now just getting his accolades. And for Best

Actress, supporting actress, that's going to be a difficult one, too, between Jamie Lee Curtis and Angela Bassett. So --

SOARES: They're both phenomenal.

ELAM: -- based on the -- I know. It's a hard one, but I'm going to go because the largest voting bloc for the Academy is the actors. And since

the actors put Jamie Lee Curtis, she won for the Screen Actors Guild, I'm going to --

SOARES: Yes. So, you think it's going that way?

ELAM: -- say it might break for Jamie Lee.

SOARES: Did you say -- did I ask you --


Pardon me, did you say best movie? Did you tell me that? No, I don't think I asked you this.

ELAM: Yes, no, "Everything Everywhere All At Once."

SOARES: You did? You did. All right. Fantastic. Thank you very much. Let's have a look. You always look phenomenal on the red carpet, which is no

longer red, I saw on that piece. It's white or cream or off-white.

ELAM: It's champagne. It's champagne.

SOARES: Champagne is not a color.

ELAM: It's bubble.

SOARES: Champagne is not a color.

ELAM: No, I know.

SOARES: I know.

ELAM: It looks beige.

SOARES: Anyway, Stephanie Elam, see you. Take care. Thanks very much.

ELAM: Thank you.

SOARES: And finally, tonight, a remarkable achievement from U.S. skiing legend Mikaela Shiffrin. The athlete won her 86th World Cup race on Friday,

equaling the overall record set by Ingemar Stenmark. If she goes on to win her shalom -- slalom race rather on Saturday, she'll surpass that record.

After finishing the race, Shiffrin addressed Stenmark directly saying, this is what she said, "Maybe," she said, "I get the 87th victory, maybe not.

But for me, the biggest dream is to be mentioned in the same sentence as you."

Huge words, of course, of support from one great to another. And that does it for us tonight. Thank you very much for your company. Do stay out here

because the Dow Jones is down slightly and the NASDAQ is down even further. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up with all the details, what's behind this

selloff we're seeing on this Friday afternoon after this very short break, so if you stay right here, have a wonderful weekend. I'll see you next

week. Bye-bye.