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Isa Soares Tonight

U.S. Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates By 0.25 Percent; Russia Strikes Zaporizhzhia Residential Buildings; French President Macron Breaks Silence On Protests; Prince William Visits Troops Near Poland-Ukraine Border; New York Grand Jury Hearing Trump Evidence Is Not Meeting Today; Uganda Leader Urged To Reject Appalling Anti-LGBTQ Bill; Testimony Resumes In Gwyneth Paltrow Ski Collision. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 22, 2023 - 15:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, markets are reacting to a quarter of a

percent interest rate rise as the U.S. Federal Reserve walks a fine line trying to tamp down inflation without sending more banks over the brink.

You see the Dow Jones now in the red.

Then Russia takes aim at Zaporizhzhia. The smoldering apartment blocks proves civilians are in the firing line. And then President Macron breaks

his silence on the massive protests we have been seeing right across France. How he plans to balance normal life as well as legitimate anger.

But we begin this hour with breaking news on the economic front. The U.S. Federal Reserve has announced in the past hour, it will raise interest

rates by a quarter of a percentage point. The announcement comes amid stubbornly high inflation and a global banking crisis, which have injected

daily volatility into the markets. Let's look at the stock markets right now and see how they are doing, following the announcement.

The Dow Jones turned negative in the last -- I will say probably in the last minute or so, now down two-tenth of a percent. We're seeing the S&P as

you can see, they're pretty flat, Nasdaq going a similar way at this moment. Here's what Federal Chairman Jerome Powell said just a few minutes

ago. Have a listen to this.


JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE, UNITED STATES: In the past two weeks, serious difficulties at a small number of banks have emerged.

History has shown that isolated banking problems if left unaddressed, can undermine confidence in healthy banks and threaten the ability of the

banking system as a whole, to play its vital role in supporting the savings and credit needs of households and businesses.

That is why in response to these events, the Federal Reserve working with the Treasury Department and the FDIC took decisive actions to protect the

U.S. economy and to strengthen confidence in our banking system. We are committed to learning the lessons from this episode, and to work to prevent

episodes, events like this from happening again.


SOARES: Our CNN's Matt Egan is live inside the Federal Reserve building in Washington, joins me, more on these developments. Matt, good to see you. So

the Fed's decision today a critical one, but Jerome Powell's words of course, perhaps more important today than never. Just walk us through

obviously what he said, and what kind of guidance he's giving us here?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Isa, you know, Jerome Powell is still trying to really thread the needle with this situation. Because on the one

hand, he's trying to make it clear that the Fed is not satisfied with inflation, that it is way too high. Still under the jobs markets, it's

probably too hot. But on the other hand, he's got to acknowledge the stress in the banking market, the bank failures that we've seen.

And the fact that, that stress is actually probably going to slow down the economy. And it actually may be doing the Fed's work for it. And there's so

much uncertainty here, and Powell really made that clear, he said, we don't know how much the tighter financial conditions from the bank failures is

going to cool off inflation. We don't know how much is going to slow growth down.

And what's interesting is, he did say that, you know, heading into this meeting, before the bank failures, it was pretty clear the Fed was going to

have to raise interest rates today and probably a series of interest rates going forward. And he said that in the last few days, they did consider a

pause, which obviously is something that's been debated and a lot of experts were advising the Fed to do.

But ultimately, they decided to go ahead and raise interest rates. And Isa, I think that part of the reason there is because if the Fed didn't raise

interest rates, they ran the risk of really freaking out investors. Right, a lot of people would have wondered, what does the Fed know that we don't


SOARES: Yes, indeed, and it's focused so much on inflation here. Matt Egan, appreciate it, thank you very much. I want to go now to CNN's

business editor-at-large, Richard Quest, he joins me now from Tokyo with his take really on the Federal Reserve's decision. And Richard, great to

see you, so the Fed really stuck between a rock and a hard place. Was this the right decision in your view, Richard?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: It was the only decision in a sense, because in the true meaning of the word, dilemma, which means choice

of equally unappealing options. They had no choice. Go to half a point and you scare the markets, don't do anything, can you send a signal, things are

really grim and horrible in the banking system.


So, you go a quarter point, and you warn, and it's the warning. So, we have a change in wording in the statement, until now -- and remember, Isa, I

realize eyes may glaze over, but in the world of monetary policy, it's all about the parsing the words. In the past, the Fed has always said, ongoing

increases in rates will be appropriate.

In other words, we're going to do more, come what may, rates are going up. Now, they're saying, some additional policy forming may be appropriate.

They're dangling in front of everybody this idea, that they're done for the time being or that they're more worried about banking crises than they are

about inflation. I think that's a mistake by the way in that interpretation.

I think they're still very worried about inflation. But here's the key. You don't juggle with grenades of the banking system until you're pretty sure

the pin is in them all.

SOARES: And as they dangle, Richard, then explain, help us digest what we are seeing in the stock markets because we have seen now the Dow Jones and

Nasdaq and the S&P all turn red. So, I mean, does this speak to the banking crisis? Does it speak to the inflation or the action that it's taken in

terms of guidance? How do you interpret these moves?

QUEST: All the above and more. It is the markets saying we have no idea what's next. That's basically it. I mean, I can dress it up with bells and

whistles if you like. But this is the market saying, we know he's still very worried about inflation, so rates are probably going higher. But we

know he's also now really worried about the banking system even though he said it's safe and sound. The statement said that.

Let me go back to what he just simply said. "The effects of banking crisis are uncertain. If credit conditions don't tighten, we may need to do more."

So what this is really, Isa, whatever happens, rates are going up. Two ways, either the credit -- the banks stop lending themselves because of the

crisis, tightening of credit markets, therefore the economy slows down, or if that doesn't happen, we will raise rates anyway.

The message from Powell is absolutely crystal clear, on the rate, on the question of inflation, rates --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: Are going higher or as they say in the markets, credit is tightening, it's just a matter of how we get there.

SOARES: Let's put aside then what Powell said. I want to get your perspective on this, because, you know, we have been looking at mid-sized

banks, regional U.S. banks over the last week, in fact, and they've been --

QUEST: Yes --

SOARES: Taking quite a battering, what is your sense, Richard, is that anxiety still there? Are we over the worse?

QUEST: So very glad you ask that because until now, I parroted the phrase, this isn't 2008 all over again. And I genuinely believe that. Because the

toxic assets of 2008 and the derivatives of the highly complex stuff that blew up simply doesn't exist. However, you can always have an accident and

the accident happens in a different way. And now of course, you have basically bankers using cellphones, because I can take --

SOARES: Yes --

QUEST: My money out in two seconds. So, do I think the system is sound and stable as Powell says? Absolutely. But do I also believe it's entirely

possible that we will have eruptions of volatility and nonsense from different banks totally, because what this has shown over the last two

weeks is that the banking system does have some very dark, murky, dirty corners. And the light is about to be shone upon them.

SOARES: Richard Quest live for us this hour in Tokyo, appreciate it, Richard, I know it's very early for you, thanks very much. And of course,

we'll stay on top of those stock markets numbers as you can see, some volatility, given what we have heard today, we'll stay on top of them of

course, as there are wild swings, we'll of course, will bring it to you.

Now, Ukrainian officials say a new barrage of Russian missile and drone strikes shows that Moscow's only goal in brazingly killing -- is brazingly

killing civilians. This is a moment a Russian missile plowed into a residential complex in the city of Zaporizhzhia, as you can see there on


One person died on the spot, at least, 32 people were injured. Ukrainian officials say Russia fired at least six missiles in the city where there

are no nearby military targets. People are still missing, search and rescue operations are underway. And drone strikes on the Kyiv region overnight

killed seven people and trapped several people under the rubble.

Our David McKenzie joins me now from Odessa with the latest. And David, these are devastating strikes on yet again civilian structures. What are

you learning this hour?


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what does show is just this pattern of destruction that has happened day after day

and month after month for more than a year. Every few days you have these strikes either from these shahed-style drones or missile strikes, even

artillery. We've been in and out of Kherson, the city right on the edge of the frontlines here in the southern part of the conflict.

And you hear artillery outgoing and incoming, all the time on a frequent basis. Those rockets and artillery in this region are hitting civilian

areas and injuring and killing people. The President, President Zelenskyy saying this is a savagery, and other Ukrainian official saying this is yet

another example of what they say are Russian war crimes that are happening on an ongoing basis.

What it does speak to, is that, either the Russians are doing this deliberately as Ukraine suggests, and possible to know that for sure. All

they are just targeting areas near military, but you know, frequently. There's no evidence of military close to these sites that are being

targeted. So, perhaps, the aim is terror on the part of the Russian forces.

But certainly, in the last 24 hours, you've seen yet again, these barrages of missiles and strikes with people with miraculous stories of escaping

them and an ongoing search right at this hour in Zaporizhzhia to find those who may still be alive. Isa?

SOARES: And David, meantime, we've seen the Ukrainian president surprising troops on the frontlines. Just talk to us about this visit from President

Zelenskyy here.

MCKENZIE: Well, it's kind of contrast compared to the high level meeting between Xi Jinping Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. You have Zelenskyy in his

trademark outfit heading to the east, to Donetsk and meeting these soldiers, meeting some who have been injured and others, giving them awards

for the ongoing and brutal fight in the eastern part of this conflict, where this attritional warfare has heavy losses on both sides.

I have to be frank, though, in the last few weeks and even months, while you have seen some small incremental gains by Russians and by mercenary

forces for the Russians, it hasn't been a large swing or any major gains, given the heavy losses that you would expect with that kind of attritional

warfare. Vladimir Putin hasn't got much to show for his conflict in the last few weeks and months. And yet, it grinds on, Isa?

SOARES: David, thank you very much. David for us there, McKenzie in Odessa. Now, to France, because the French government -- the French

president, I should say is hoping to calm a massive protest movement by speaking to the press. The government is pushing back the retirement age by

two years by using constitutional powers that let it bypass parliament.

It is the landmark reform of President Emmanuel Macron's term. But unions aren't convinced by what he said during that interview, the first one, in

fact, since reforms were forced into law. We saw more strikes afterwards, and we are expecting huge protest on Thursday, tomorrow. Our Paris

correspondent Melissa Bell is standing by.

So Melissa, unions not convinced by what they heard from Macron, but did Macron -- what did he have to say, Melissa, about the Industrial action and

the paralysis that we have been seeing and perhaps we're going to see tomorrow in Paris.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, that he is not after popularity or a higher opinion polls indeed, he doesn't have them,

but he is determined to get this through, and he's plowing on regardless. We've seen once again tonight, we're seeing once again tonight here in

Paris those spontaneous, unplanned protest breaking out once again. We've seen them every night since that controversial announcement was made a week



BELL (voice-over): The protests have been unplanned, the scuffles almost nightly. Ever since the French government announced it would push its

pension reform through parliament without a vote. French lawmakers in uproar as well last Thursday as the announcement was made. The government

narrowly surviving two no-confidence votes on Monday with the retirement age in France now one step closer to being raised from 62 to 64.

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT, FRANCE (through translator): We would not tolerate any flare-ups. We will make sure that life is as normal as

possible in spite of those who are blocking normal life.

BELL: But since the start of the year, there have been demonstrations and strikes across the public and private sector. Ten thousand tons of garbage

now piled high on the streets of Paris.

MAHER TEKAYA, SENIOR OFFICIAL, CFDT UNION: What is sure that it was the biggest social movement we had since the beginning of the '80s, and sure,

it's quite complicated, a lot of people went into strike, even if it was hard in their current condition to go on strike, to lose a day of wage.


But probably, this is pointing out other problems to come.

BELL: Unions and protesters now looking beyond parliament to the streets, with a lack of a vote only likely to have further fueled their



BELL: Now, Isa, they'll be back on the streets tomorrow for another nationwide day of planned marching and protests and strikes. They're not

going to back down they say as far as the law itself goes, it's now on its way to the Constitutional Council where it would be considered. Over the

next few weeks, they will be looking at its constitutionality, and then if everything goes to the government's plan, it will become law by the end of

the year.

This is what Emmanuel Macron announced today on French television, he also spoke to your question, Isa, about how he plans to get around this uproar

that he is now excited, not just amongst parliamentarians, but amongst the wider republic, in terms of getting his reform foot through. We understand

that the French Prime Minister is going to be meeting with not just trade unions, but representatives of civil society as they look to get their

future reforms through.

They are also looking to beef up the police, the security forces, the laws that allow them to get strikers back to work quickly. So on one hand,

threatening to be tough with those who disrupt civil order and try and block further legislation. But on the other, saying they're going to seek

more consensus with political parties.

It's very difficult to see at this stage how they're going to manage those two pledges. Certainly, tomorrow, though, another day of strike action, and

this Isa, doesn't look like it's going to stop any time soon.

SOARES: We shall see how he threads that needle. Melissa Bell for us there in Paris, thanks very much, Melissa. And still to come tonight, Boris

Johnson endures a high-stakes grilling over the party-gate scandal. Could this signal the end of the former Prime Minister's political career? And a

rare diplomatic rebuke. The U.S. summons Israel's ambassador in Washington over this vote in the Israeli parliament. Those stories after this short



SOARES: Now, Boris Johnson is battling for his political future. Earlier, the former prime minister was grilled by MPs over party's at Downing

Street, remember those? While the U.K. was on the strict COVID lockdowns. Lawmakers are investigating where Mr. Johnson deliberately misled

parliament over these parties when he was in power.

This is what he had to say. Have a listen.



BORIS JOHNSON, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I am here to say to you, hand-on-heart, that I did not lie to the house when those statements were

made, they were made in good faith, and on the basis of what I honestly knew and believed at the time. When this inquiry was set up, I was

completely confident that you would find nothing to show I knew or believed anything else, as indeed, you have not.


SOARES: Well, if found guilty, the former prime minister could be suspended as a member of parliament in what would be dramatic, of course,

fall from grace. John Rentoul; the chief political commentator at "The Independent" newspaper, a well-known face on the show, joins me now. So,

John, just sum up really Boris Johnson's defense. I know we had a 52-page written defense, and now --


SOARES: We had three-plus hours of oral defense. What stood out to you?

RENTOUL: I thought that he was quite uncomfortable. He obviously took it very seriously, his hair was neater than usual, he was very somber in tone,

no jokes and word games. But he made a very strong argument in his defense, and he had a few uncomfortable moments, but his defense was essentially --

if you're going to accuse me of lying to parliament, you have to know what's in my mind or what I believed.

And if I believed that what I was saying was true, then you've got to -- then you've got to let me off.

SOARES: But the pushback, one thing I heard from him was that, you know, these were really hard-working conditions at the time.


SOARES: How then this -- how then do you fight that in terms of evidence?

RENTOUL: Well, I mean, that's no excuse, is it? I mean, the fact that --

SOARES: Yes --

RENTOUL: All sorts of people working extremely hard. A lot of people were having a very difficult time during lockdown. That doesn't excuse breach of

rules, especially if they are the rules that you yourself wrote, Boris Johnson.

SOARES: Yes, and the hard part like you said is that everyone is benchmarking what he's saying with what we all have to live with --


SOARES: We were zooming, we wouldn't be -- we couldn't see our friends and family, we couldn't attend funerals, we couldn't see our loved ones in

hospital. So where do you think this goes from here? How do you -- how successful do you think it was improving that he didn't do this

intentionally, John?

RENTOUL: Well, I think he may well get off on that charge, because it's quite hard to prove that he deliberately misled parliament. But it was a

difficult time and it reminded people of the sacrifices they made during lockdown and the feeling that he wasn't following the same rules. And the

most important bit was they actually -- had to interrupt proceedings so that MPs could go and vote.

Because he wasn't trying to lead a rebellion against Rishi Sunak's government on his Northern Ireland Brexit deal, and that was a humiliating


SOARES: Going back though to what we've heard today, he might get away with it like you said. How soon will we know this, and what format will

that come?

RENTOUL: Well --

SOARES: And what will it mean -- I mean, if he -- if nothing happens where he is -- what does it mean for Boris Johnson politically here?

RENTOUL: Well, the committee will take weeks and weeks --

SOARES: That long --

RENTOUL: To decide, I suspect. Before it issues a report, it will say, you know, very much deducing from what the committee member are saying, they

will find that he was reckless as to the truth of what he was -- what he was saying to parliament. So he didn't -- you know, he wasn't deliberately

lying, but you know, he didn't really try to find out what was the truth before he told parliament that the rules had been followed at all times.

And so, he'll get a telling of. The question is, how much of a suspension he'll get and whether that will lead to a by-election in his constituency,

in which he'll probably lose.

SOARES: And very quickly, in terms of the public here, what people watching or people interested, I mean, it's been a while now, isn't it?

Since this all happened since COVID. Is this important to the British public?

RENTOUL: Well, that's a very -- that's a very good question, because I think there's some suspicion that the media are more interested in Boris

Johnson than the public. The public may have moved on. But his party hasn't moved on, he's still got a lot of support among party members. But that is

why it's so significant that he tried to lead this rebellion against Rishi Sunak today, and that failed.

So he doesn't have any chance of coming back until well after the next general election, if then.

SOARES: I'm sure, you and I will be talking much about this, John Rentoul, thanks very much, great to see you. Now, for the first time in years, the

United States has summoned the Israeli ambassador in Washington for formally convey concern. The U.S. says it's extremely troubled that the

Israeli parliament voted to overturn part of the 2005 law that ordered the evacuation of full settlements in the northern West Bank.

The U.S. says at least, one outpost was built on private Palestinian land, which is illegal under Israeli law. Settlers celebrated the vote, saying it

paves the way for their return. But Israel's Prime Minister says the government has no plans to establish new settlements in that area. Let's

get more on this rare U.S. approach of Israel from U.S. -- CNN's Kylie Atwood, she's live for us at the State Department.


So Kylie, what more are you hearing then from U.S. officials on this?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, it's pretty striking for the State Department to summon the Israeli ambassador here in

Washington in for a meeting. Essentially what that means is that diplomats were frustrated and wanted to voice concerns. That is what the diplomatic

term "summoning" is usually used for.

And here, we know that, the ambassador, Ambassador Herzog spoke with the deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman about this passage, this new law

that will now allow for there to be some rebuilding in the West Bank. Which is something that U.S. officials have been really clear with the Israelis

and to the Palestinians, that they want both sides not take steps that could make things worse between the two sides right now.

Obviously, we watch closely as there was that cycle of deadly violence that erupted earlier this year, the Secretary of State actually traveled to the

region, meeting with leaders on both sides of the conflict, and really calling for calm. Calling for both sides from the leadership on down to

really not do things to make things worse. And the concern of course, here, is that this could make things worse.

So, I think it's also important to note that, in the readout of that meeting that occurred yesterday, the State Department said that they were

calling for the Israelis not to use rhetoric that could make things worse, leading into upcoming holidays, right? We have Passover coming up, we have

Easter coming up, those are times when there could be the potential for violence.

And so, it's a particularly delicate moment that the Biden administration is watching in the region, and of course, they are concerned about the

passage of this new legislation.

SOARES: Kylie Atwood, I know you'll stay on top of this for us, I appreciate it, thanks very much. And still to come tonight, anticipation is

reaching a fever pitch in New York. But a possible indictment of Donald Trump still hasn't happened. An update on the grand jury investigating his

case, that is just ahead.


SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Prince William has made a rare surprise visit to troops near the Polish Ukrainian border. The future king visited a

military base in Poland on Wednesday, meeting British as well as Polish troops station. As you can see, he praised their, quote, cooperation in

support of the people of Ukraine and their freedom.

The Prince of Wales also met the Polish Defense Minister during that visit. Royal correspondent Max Foster is in Warsaw with more on all of this. Max,

good to see you. So, secret visit by the Prince. Why was this important for him?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was something that he organized or wanted to organize quite recently and everyone scrambled to

make it happen. Initially the media weren't going to be able to go because of the security concerns. The location he went to, Rzeszow, is about a two

hour drive from Lyiv, so there was some concern there, but they got him in there with a small media team with those pictures that you showed us.

He talked about freedom, as you say, so the support that British and Polish troops working together in that area were giving to Ukrainians and their

freedom, but he then broadened it out to talk about how they were protecting effectively all our freedoms. Quite a political message in many

ways, but this is something that the whole royal family has really got behind since the war really broke out. We've heard King Charles also speak

very strongly in support of Ukraine.

So, a slightly different message from the monarchy as we know it now, as opposed to under the Queen, but interesting to see him out there and then

were able to report it, Isa, once he got back here in Warsaw where he is tonight.

SOARES: He also met, from what I understand, Max, correct me if I'm wrong, with those who've been displaced, of course, the thousands upon thousands

of Ukrainians, of course, who have left their homeland. What was that like? That must have been incredibly moving.

FOSTER: Yes. So it's interesting when you're here. I mean, I haven't been here before and I was walking along with my producer Antonia, he was

describing how actually every other conversation you hear is in Ukrainian, very similar to Polish and they're fully integrated into the society. And I

think William was really interested in how Poland continues to support Ukrainians.

So he went to see this accommodation center set up for Ukrainians who didn't manage to get homes with local families. Lots of local families have

taken Ukrainians in and they are given training on how to get jobs, they are given language training and Ukrainians are given full access to public

services here, to schools and to hospitals.

So he's really trying to highlight how Poland continues to support Ukrainians. That isn't just a Polish effort, it's actually something that

they're effectively doing to the west. He's going to speak to the president, President Duda, tomorrow and really express his gratitude for

everything that Poland is doing.

So, it's interesting how he's presenting himself now on the international stage. Isa.

SOARES: Yes much more open and to talk, at least open politically. Max Foster, great to see you. And also send my love to Antonia. I appreciate


Now, speculation still swirling over if and when former U.S. President Donald Trump may be criminally charged in New York. The grand jury

investigating his alleged role in a hush money scheme is not meeting today. One source says the district attorney has suggested they may need, in fact,

to him, more testimony, while other sources tell CNN prosecutors are taking a moment to regroup.

Let's bring in CNN Stephen Collinson in Washington to help us digest all of this. Excuse me. So, Stephen, what is your analysis then, of what is

unfolding or expected to unfold in New York on the hush money investigation? First of all, how likely is that Trump will be indicted


STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Well, I think we're in a state in Washington of almost friends in limbo with the former president

himself raised the prospect that he could be arrested yesterday over the weekend. Ever since then, speculation has been swirling.

What the situation is right now is it's clear that a case in New York is driving towards a conclusion. You mentioned it. It's about an alleged hush

money payment paid to an adult film star way back before the 2016 election. Trump potentially could face charges related to business law and even

infringements of election law if it was proven that he'd tried to influence the outcome of that election.

What happens in the United States is that a prosecutor brings evidence before a jury, a grand jury, as it's known, and those people have to vote

and decide on whether there's sufficient evidence for an indictment. The jury, as you said, was not meeting today. There had been some expectation

that could happen, so we don't know exactly why. And that is adding to the increase of the speculation.

SOARES: And while this is all happening, of course,Trump allies in the Republican Party seem to be using their new House majority, it seems, to

shield them from indictment. I mean, it's some, I can say ironic, I think, given what we have seen given them what the accusations of the Biden

administration. Just talk us through that. How are they doing that?


COLLINSON: Right. And you recall back during Trump's presidency, he was repeatedly accused of using his government power to interfere in the

administration of justice, most often in cases against him. Now that the Republicans have the power in the new House majority, that's exactly what

they're trying to do. They've demanded that the prosecutor in the New York case Alvin Bragg, the District Attorney of Manhattan, come down to

Washington to testify. It's a pretty clear attempt, I think, for them to use the power they have to intimidate the prosecutor, perhaps to try and

convince him not to indict Trump.

And it's also giving us a taste of the massive political cataclysm, I think, that would unfold in the unprecedented event that a former president

was indicted.

So, you know, clearly, this is hugely political, and there are multiple and actually accelerating investigations against Trump in which he's also

deeply legally exposed. That could also come to a head, and it's conceivable that he could also be indicted in the classified documents

matter, for example, his attempt elsewhere to steal the election in Georgia.

So, I think we're on a political precipice in many ways in the United States waiting to see how this all.

SOARES: On that point, are you surprised that they are rallying behind him? I mean, this is trying amounts to kind of influencing a grand jury

investigation here. Does it surprise you?

COLLINSON: No, not really. I think all our expectations of norms, legal conduct have been shattered by the Trump presidency. It's pretty clear that

the House majority, at least, is still very tired and enthusiastic about Donald Trump. He's still potentially the most popular, you know, candidate

in the Republican White House primary for 2024. So he's still a strong figure. That's not to say that there aren't Republicans who would like to

move on, but I don't think it's surprising.

I think it's completely in character with the changes that Trump has wrought on American politics, and it shows that, you know, the trauma of

his presidency, although it ended two years ago, is going to take potentially years more to work through in American politics, and it's going

to be a very divisive process.

SOARES: His supporters basically believe, though, that this is all about and correct me if I'm wrong here, Stephen, preventing him from running in

2024. But even among his non supporters, there are some who think this come down to simply to politics. Is there any way to avoid this looking like

that, Stephen?

COLLINSON: I don't think so, simply because Trump has made the case for months that he's been persecuted by the Biden administration to prevent him

from becoming president again. This is a pretty effective campaign tactic, and it's the kind of strategy we've seen from Demagogues around the world

who present themselves as being persecuted in order that their followers are shielded from a repressive government.

So, Trump has laid the groundwork on this for many years. You know, everything in the United States is deeply politicized at this point, and I

don't think there's any avoiding it, you know. Having that been said, it appears there's some very strong evidence against Trump in a lot of these

cases, and there's every chance that there could be credible trials and prosecutions brought against him.

SOARES: Excellent analysis as always, Stephen Collinson, appreciate it.


SOARES: Now, Florida governor Ron DeSantis is taking his most direct shots yet at Donald Trump, reviewing what the Republican race for the White House

could look like. Pretty much what Stephen was saying if DeSantis decides to jump in.

In a wide ranging Fox Nation interview with Piers Morgan, DeSantis criticized trump's character, leadership style, and the nicknames Trump

bestows. DeSantis also says he's certain if he does run for president, well, he can win.


PIERS MORGAN, FOX NATION HOST: Your favorite nickname that Trump's given you so far. Is it Ron DeSanctimonious or meatball Ron?


MORGAN: He even he went off Meatball Ron.

DESANTIS: I don't know how to spell the sanctimonious. I don't really know what it means, but I, you know, I kind of like it. It's long. It's got a

lot of vowels, so we'll go with that. That's fine. You can call me whatever you want. I mean, just as long as you also call me a winner.


SOARES: Well, DeSantis also contrasted Trump with past presidents, as he questioned his moral character, he said, quote, you really want to look to

people like our founding fathers. Somebody who really set the standards is George Washington, because he always put the republic over his own personal


There'll be more of that, I'm sure.

Now human rights groups are pleading with a Ugandan president to oppose a new antigay bill. On Tuesday, Ugandan lawmakers approve the bill

criminalizing identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The punishment up to 20 years in prison, and it has been amended to include the

death penalty in some cases. Larry Madowo has a story.



LARRY MADOWO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Joyous scenes in Uganda's parliament on Tuesday after lawmakers passed a sweeping anti LGBTQ


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our country, we will only have --

MADOWO: Same sex relations were already illegal in the conservative east African country, with convicts risking a life sentence. Now legislators

have taken it one step further.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Say favor say aye and if you're contra ney.


MADOWO: Anyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer now faces up to 20 years in jail and the death penalty for, quote,

aggravated homosexuality, a broad term used in the legislation to define same sex intercourse with children or disabled people, rape or incest.

Supporting lawmakers saying the aim is to, quote, protect our Christian, culture and traditional family values.

ASUMAN BASALIRWA, UGANDAN LAWMAKER: What we have done really is for the people of Uganda. It is beyond us as individuals.

MADOWO: And some had quite a flippant attitude towards the issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is nothing so sweet and so good for a man more than a woman.

MADOWO: Only a few lawmakers disagreed.

RACHEL MAGOOLA, UGANDA LAWMAKER: I do not agree with homosexuality in principle, but I do not agree with criminalizing it.

MADOWO: The United Nations called the law among the worst of its kind in the world, and it's passing a deeply troubling development. Human rights

campaigners in Uganda have condemned the move, calling it barbaric and unconstitutional. Ugandan rights activists vowing to fight back.

A human rights lawyer in Kampala told CNN that, quote, this regressive and draconian law promotes hatred and discrimination and institutionalizes


MADOWO (on camera): Homosexuality is illegal in more than 30 of Africa's 55 nations. And Uganda's move is just the latest in a series of setbacks for

LGBTQ plus rights here on the continent.

MADOWO: (voiceover): The legislation now waits for the Ugandan president's signature.

YOWEN MUSEVENI, UGANDAN PRESIDENT: The homosexuals are deviations from normal.

MADOWO: And no one is expecting a surprise from him. Larry Madowo, CNN.


SOARES: And still to come tonight, Wall Street is laying claim to water rights in the western U.S. and residents are not happy about it. We'll

explain next.


SOARES: Well, air pollution is now at hazardous levels in Beijing and several northern provinces in China, after a severe sandstorm, the orange

dust is so thick, in fact, it sent the air pollution index off the charts. Weather authorities are urging people not to go outdoors for exercise or

indeed, other activities. Beijing's Monitoring Center has called it the most severe sandstorm to date this year.


While more than 135,000 California homes and businesses are without power today after an atmospheric river system dumped heavy rain across the state.

Take a look just at these waves. Hurricane force winds paired with the heavy rain has made the situation a recipe really for disaster across many


Most of California's population, more than 35 million people have been under some kind of weather alert. The state has already been hammered by at

least eleven atmospheric rivers this season, which carry air to higher altitudes before then, dumping relentless rain.

While the rain drenches California, much of the U.S. southwest is facing extreme drought conditions, with rivers drying up before our very eyes.

Water is a scarce resource that's becoming a commodity and Wall Street is swooping in. Lucy Kafanov tells us how huge companies are capitalizing on a



LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Cibola, Arizona is a place few are likely to have heard of. Home to some 300 people, this windswept

community is a tiny oasis in the Sonoran desert, sustained by water from the Colorado River.

But this rural corner of the American west has caught the eye of east coast investors. Much of this farmland now belongs to Greenstone, a subsidiary of

the financial services conglomerate MassMutual.

KAFANOV (on camera): So what does investment firm want with farmland like this?

HOLLY IRWIN, LA PAZ COUNTY SUPERVISOR: They want it for the water. They want it to make money, you know, off the water rights that are attached to

the land.

KAFANOV (voiceover): La Paz County supervisor Holly Irwin is fighting Greenstone's recent sale of Cibola water to a growing Phoenix suburb more

than 200 miles away.

IRWIN: They make millions off of it at the expense of what it's going to do to our communities in the future and the precedents it's going to set. It's

opening Pandora's box and who is going to be the next one in line to roll the dice.

KAFANOV: A lawyer for Greenstone told CNN its plan was subject to public review approved and that it will have no impact on the potential of cities

along the river to grow. But it's not just happening in Arizona.

KAFANOV (on camera): Wall Street firms have been snapping up properties up and down the Colorado River, not so much for the land, but rather for its

precious water rights. It's a growing interest in an increasingly scarce natural resource, with investors betting big on a major payoff.

MATTHEW DISERIO, PRESIDENT, WATER ASSETT MANAGEMENT: It's a trillion dollar market opportunity.

KAFANOV (voiceover): Matt Desirio is president of Water Asset Management, an investment firm headquartered in this New York City building which has

also been buying water rights in states along the Colorado River. Diserio described its strategy in 2020 interviews with institutional real estate

and Fintech TV.

DISERIO: Water, we believe, is the resource that is defining the 21st century, much like oil defined the last century.

KAFANOV: The company did not respond to CNN's specific inquiries, issuing a statement that said it was proud of its investments and will manage assets

in a manner that contributes to solutions to water scarcity.

TRAVIS LINGENFELTER, SUPERVISIOR, MOHAVE VALLEY COUNTY: They come out west, they purchase and pick up cheap rural agricultural land. They sit on it for

a little while and then they're trying to sell the water.

KAFANOV: Mohave County commissioner Travis Lingenfelter says a number of large east coast investment firms are trying to get in on the action. His

is one of three Arizona counties that sued the federal government to block the Cibola water transfer.

LINGENFELTER: If they're coming after a portion of our only water supply on the river for many of our communities, we have to fight it.

ANY MUELLER, GENERAL MANAGER, COLORADO RIVER DISTRICT: They're drought profiteers. They're trying to suck the very lifeblood out of these

communities for their own financial benefit.

KAFANOV: Andy Mueller is tasked with helping to protect Colorado's share of the river and says the full scale of the land purchases is difficult to

track because investment firms use different names to disguise ownership.

MUELLER: It's a very unpopular move to come from New York and invest in real estate, in irrigated agriculture with the intent to dry it up and

watch it blow away. It's all about making money.

KAFANOV: Under a pilot program, the federal government has dedicated $125 million in drought relief funds to pay Colorado River farmers and ranchers

to conserve water by not growing crops on their land, something former state senator Kerry Donovan worries investment firms will take advantage


KERRY DONOVAN, COPPER BAR RANCH: That's where I think we start to see this investment speculation, these outside landholders get big dollars to grow

nothing, and that's when we start to see farm and ranchers go away.

KAFANOV: Her efforts to strengthen the state's antisculation laws failed, leaving her and other ranchers worried about how Wall Street will influence

their future.

DONOVAN: It's not their land, it's not their legacy. It's their bottom line. And by law, they're responsible to make money for their clients. My

family's brand is on the barn behind me. This is my family's land. It's our legacy. We work to keep it this way. That's a totally different mentality

than a New York investment firm.

KAFANOV: Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Western Colorado.


SOARES: And still to come tonight, the ski crash trial of Gwyneth Paltrow is underway. What the actress is being accused of and what she says

happened, that's next.



SOARES: Well, in the United States, testimony has resumed in a trial over 2016 skiing collision involving actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Opening statements

began on Tuesday in the case, which is being tried in the state of Utah. CNN's Chloe Malas has the story.


CHLOE MALAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (voiceover): Actress Gwyneth Paltrow appearing in a Park City, Utah, courtroom Tuesday in a trial

stemming from a 2016 ski crash. 76-year-old Terry Sanderson is suing Paltrow for $300,000 in damages after he claims that she was skiing out of

control, knocking him down hard, knocking him out and causing a brain injury and four broken ribs and other serious injuries.

LAWRENCE BUHLER, TERRY SANDERSON'S ATTORNEY: Paltrow skis down to the right. She turns her head up to look at her children. As she turns her head

back down, she screams, then skis back into the back of Terry Sanderson. She rides his back down. They hit the ground hard, and Ms. Paltrow bounces

off of Terry.

MALAS: Paltrow was countersuing for a dollar in legal fees, claiming that she was downhill from Sanderson and that he plowed into her back. She

sustained a full body blow, and that she was angry with the plaintiff and said so, and that the plaintiff apologized.

STEVE OWENS, GWYNETH PARTLOW'S ATTORNEY: Suddenly, she sees two skis appear between her skis and a man comes up right behind her. They begin falling to

the right, and she's feeling freaked out, I think is a fair statement. And he hits down, apparently his side and his head, and she is essentially

falling on him. But keep in mind, his skis are intertwined now with hers.

MALAS: Sanderson's attorney claims that he was left face down in the snow, unconscious after the crash, further stating that Paltrow and her ski

instructors skied away without getting Sanderson any medical care. A friend of Sanderson's who witnessed the accident testified.

CRAIG RAMON, TERRY SANDERSON'S FRIEND WHO WITNESSED THE CRASH: I heard a scream, and then I see this skier just slam into the back of Terry. And she

just slammed him.


RAMON: Very hard. I mean. I mean very hard.



SOARES: And that was CNN's Chloe Malas reporting. The Paltrow trial is expected to last one week. Of course, we'll stay on top of that for you.

Now, he is the 90-year-old tortoise taking social media by storm. Mr. Pickles is the Houston, Texas zoo's oldest resident. And get this, he's

just become a father right here. After noticing Mrs. Pickle, Ms. Pickle's unexpectedly laying eggs, a zookeeper sprang into action to move the trio

to safety. The three hatchlings are following in their father's footsteps, of course, appropriately named Dill, Gherkin and Jalapeno as critically

endangered species. It's an astounding feat, of course, for radiated tortoises.

The zoo says these little pickles are a big deal, or rather, a big deal. Big deal. There you go. Get it.

That does it for us. Thanks very much for watching. Quest Means Business is up next with much more on the Federal Reserve decision, of course, to raise

interest rates and the reaction, really, that we are seeing right now on Wall Street. The numbers definitely have turned all in the red more than 1

percent. Quest will have more.