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New Day

Putin Calls Up 300,000 Reservists, Threatens Nuclear War; Today, Fed Expected to Announce Interest Rate Hikes; Pillow Salesman and Trump Ally Challenges FBI's Seizure of Phone. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 21, 2022 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Ted Koppel I think actually holds the record for longest running late night host at ABC, and let's hear it for Night Line, a little shout-out for news in the late night.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: There we go. How about a little bit more news, right now, because New Day continues right now.

BERMAN: A dramatic escalation of Russia's war in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin announces a mobilization, calling up an additional 300,000 troops.

I'm John Berman with Erica Hill this morning. And this is the biggest move by Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February. Putin announced a partial mobilization to begin immediately.

Now, Britain's defense secretary says this is an admission that Russia's invasion is failing. Russia has suffered humiliating losses with troops retreating from occupied territory. But Putin's speech was riddled with false claims and contained ominous nuclear language with Putin promising to defend his country.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: This is not a bluff. The citizens of Russia can be sure that the territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence and freedom will be ensured. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing winds can turn in their direction.


HILL: Of course, these comments come against the backdrop of the U.N. General Assembly this week here in New York, the war on Ukraine dominating those conversations. President Biden is actually set to speak just a few hours from now. Ukraine's President Zelenskyy set to address world leaders remotely later today. All of this as occupied Ukrainian regions in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia announced referendums on joining Russia this week. Ukraine and its allies dismissing that move as a sham driven by a fear of defeat.

We are covering the major developments. We're covering it from all the angles. Let's begin with CNN's Barbara Starr who is standing by at the Pentagon, CNN Military Analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton is in Washington D.C., and Matthew Chance, let's start with you there in London, Matthew. What more do we know this morning?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this speech taking place this morning, at 9:00 in the morning in local time in Russia. And so it was the first thing Russians woke up to, this idea that the country, the government, despite assurances to the contrary, had decided to in its what's partially mobilize the country's reserves, people with military experience, people who had some kind of value to the ongoing what they call special military operation in Ukraine.

The defense minister of the country later clarified that it would be about 300,000 troops that would be added to the number of combatants that Russia would be able to bring to the field. So, that's a massive sort of escalation in the amount of forces that Russia, in terms of manpower that Russia will be able to bring to the situation in Ukraine.

It also, of course, comes not just against the backdrop of the United Nations General Assembly but also against the backdrop, which you just mentioned, of that announcement by those regions inside Ukraine, that there would be referendums to decide whether they wanted to join the Russian Federation. The expectation is that they all will vote to join with Russia.

And Vladimir Putin made it clear that once these territories or once these territories are part of Russia, any attack against it will be considered to be a threat against the homeland, an attack against Russia itself and he reminded Russians, he reminded the international community, of course, that Russia has nuclear capabilities, and as you just heard, he said it is not a bluff and that he would use them to defend the country if necessary.

So, we've heard these threats before, but, clearly, on the ground now, there's going to have to be a lot of recalculations made by the Ukrainians and by their western backers about whether this is taking us a step closer to nuclear confrontation.

BERMAN: All right. Matthew Chance for us in London, Matthew, thank you.

HILL: CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon as well this morning. Barbara, what is the response from the Pentagon?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're watching very closely, exactly as you would expect, with Putin and the Russians saying they're going to activate 300,000 reservists, what does that mean on the ground in the battlefield, the area, how are they going to get the troops there?

One of the key problems for the Russians since the beginning has been supplies, logistics, food, fuel, the command and control, the communications to be able to direct and control combat operations, the lack of all of this is something that consistently suffered from. And the Ukrainian counteroffensive has really been able to exploit that shortfall.

300,000 is a lot of manpower but what exactly are they going to do with it and will they be able to get it all into Ukraine any time soon. That's going to be one of the key question.

On the issue of the nuclear language used by Vladimir Putin, this is something the U.S. obviously has seen before.


The Pentagon has taken the position, basically, of staying as quiet as they possibly can about it. It's not a subject they want to get into a rhetorical debate with with the Russian military and the Russian leadership. President Biden, of course, just a few days ago, publicly warning Vladimir Putin not to do it.

That all said, the U.S. has a significant capability to keep an eye on any moves of Russian nuclear forces. So far, they say they have not seen that. But I think it's very fair to say that is something that is watched around the clock and everybody also will be watching, of course, to see what President Biden has to say when he addresses the U.N. General Assembly.

HILL: Yes, absolutely. Extra close attention will be paid to those speeches today. Barbara, thank you.

BERMAN: All right. With us now is Colonel Cedric Leighton, CNN Military Analyst and former member of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.

Cedric, 300,000 new troops, albeit these are reservists, these are people who are already inside Russia. What and where would they make a difference on the battlefield in Ukraine?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: So, John, good morning. It really depends on the kinds of troops that they're going to bring into this battle space of Ukraine here. So, where they could make a difference would potentially be in these areas right here. What they might do is they might be used to secure these particular areas.

This, of course, is where Ukraine has made significant gains, so they'd have a bit of a difficult time in this area, but what the Russians can do is, once you go into these areas that they control, in essence, the land bridge from this part of Russia, all the way to Crimea, which is right down here, those are the areas where they could make a difference if they are the right specialty. So, that will include, infantry troops, tank troops, armored personnel drivers, and also infantry folks.

So, these are the kinds of things and kinds of capabilities that they'd be looking at, and they would primarily be used here unless Putin wants to do something through Belarus or through this part of Russia. We don't see movement like that but those are, of course, possibilities for Russia's movement.

BERMAN: Cedric, one of the other things that we've heard is that Putin may be extending the troops who are already on service. What would that do to morale? If you're a Russian soldier serving in Ukraine already, in retreat and are already longer than you thought you would be, what would that do to morale if you're told all of a sudden, you can't go home?

LEIGHTON: That destroys morale, John. That's one of the worst things. So, let's take look at what would happen in the east. So, the Russians are trying to move into this area here, the town of Bakhmut. And what they would be doing is trying to advance these forces. So, you're trying to advance forces who are tired, who have been in this fight for months now, for seven months or more, and, remember, they were standing there even in December.

So, you're talking about a bunch of troops that are going to be incredibly tired when it comes to doing this kind of thing and they're trying to respond to the Ukrainian offensives that are happening here and also here in the south. The Ukrainians are trying to go here. The Russians will have to stop them if they have any hope of trying to do anything here. And it's going to be a really tough thing for them to do. And I think it's very difficult for the Russians to get to that point.

HILL: And those reservists alone too, there are some real questions about their readiness.

LEIGHTON: Exactly, Erica. That's a key thing. So, when you're planning something like this, you want to make sure that you have people who just left the military, people who have come into specialties that they could potential use, everything from I.T. specialist, to logistics specialists, which, of course, they would need a lot of.

My feeling is that they're going to have a really tough time filling those ranks and doing it as quickly as they need to.

BERMAN: And one of the things you're hearing from NATO official is they see this as a sign of weakness, an admission of weakness from Russia, that they have to do this.

So, Cedric, there is also this nuclear threat, very direct nuclear threat, where Putin is saying if you violate Russia's territorial integrity, then there very well may be a response, not bluffing. How serious do you take that especially in conjunction now with these referenda, where you have those areas that you have shaded right there, which will likely vote, albeit in a bit of a sham vote, to join Russia within the next week?

LEIGHTON: That's right, John. So, this area -- these areas right here that we're looking at, these are the areas -- there are four of them, to include the Donbas region, as well as areas that they've captured as part of this land bridge. These are the areas from Kherson all the way up to the north in the Luhansk area, they're going to be the ones that are going to be voting on these referenda.

When Putin made the statement that he's going to protect Russian territory, he means he's going to protect this part in addition to all of this, the large expanse of the Russian land mass. [07:10:08]

So, when he's doing that, he is saying, this is mine.

NATO's reaction to this is not going to be favorable and the risk of escalation as a result of that, John, is going to be incredibly high.

BERMAN: All right. Colonel Cedric Leighton, great to have you on this morning, thank you so much for letting us see where all this is happening.

LEIGHTON: You bet, John, absolutely.

HILL: We are keeping a close watch as well on Hurricane Fiona overnight strengthening into a Category 4, 130 mile an hour winds. The storm is now moving away from Turks and Caicos, setting its sights on Bermuda.

Meteorologist Chad Myers is joining us now with the latest on this track, I mean, category 4 now, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and an eye that really popped overnight. Zoom in for you. This is when we know hurricanes are strengthening, when you see this type of shape, this circle. This is when the storm is breathing, very warm water out here. And I know the storm will not approach the U.S. East Coast but the waves in here will be 40 to 50 feet.

Now, they will die down, but those waves will be on shore, maybe even eight to ten feet over the weekend. It's not a good weekend to go to the shore and get in the water. It's time to stay out of the water today.

Good news for Bermuda, at least for now, you are out of the cone. Bad news for Atlantic Canada, it does turn to the left. If it's a Cat 3, it would be the strongest storm to ever hit Atlantic Canada as a Cat 3. Hopefully, this thing really dies down in some cooler water, but for now we have to keep an eye on it.

HILL: Yes. That is not a record they want to see, that's for sure. Chad, I appreciate it, thank you.

Just ahead, we will be live in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to speak to the FEMA Chief Deanne Criswell. So, stay with us for that interview. John?

BERMAN: All right. In just a few hours, we are going to learn how much the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. The speculation is it could be three quarters of a point, maybe more. This would be the third consecutive big hike this year. This could mean paying more for everyday basics, including food and rent, anything that has an interest rate, you will pay more for. That would not include food. It would boost your rent prices perhaps. It would boost prices in terms of mortgage payments and whatnot.

So, this comes as a report from Credit Suisse finds that the number of ultrahigh net worth people around the world hit a record last year. The number of millionaires is reportedly so large that it's becoming a, quote, increasingly irrelevant measure of wealth. Irrelevant to whom?

CNN's Rahel Solomon is here. I don't know. A million bucks seems pretty relevant if it's your million bucks.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'm really shaking my head at that, but it's because we're seeing so many more millionaires. So, that coming from Credit Suisse, as you pointed out, John, lots of people making money moves last year.

Remember, last year was the year in the markets we were seeing record high after record high. And that led in part to this, the number of ultra net worth people growing last year, coming in at 46,000 in total, meaning they have 218,000 people in this world who have more than $50 million in assets. I know, eye-popping.

So, let's take a look at sort of what we're seeing. So, there are 62.5 million millionaires around the world. And what's really interesting is we saw an increase of 5.2 million last year. Nearly half of these people actually come from the U.S., which makes sense, because if we look at where the wealth is actually concentrated, it's right in these great states of USA, and then there's the rest of the world and then there's China and then we have some other countries. So, lots of wealth generated here, but it's because in part we saw the stock market soar last year. We saw rental, we saw home prices really appreciate. So, that led to quite a bit of wealth generation and appreciation.

BERMAN: I said, there was that quote where someone said that it's irrelevant. Well, I joked it's not irrelevant if you have a million bucks but it's not irrelevant if you don't. And increasingly, there appears to be inequality here.

SOLOMON: Yes, and it's interesting, right, because you can't talk about wealth, certainly not in this country, without also looking at inequality. And, unfortunately, we saw inequality grow, according to the report, and they suggest that this is probably because of that same reason, the rise of financial assets.

Consider this, if you are starting the year with a home that you own, with stocks, and then you see the incredible appreciation of your home, you see stocks soar. Well, at the end of the year, you're that much better off than someone who started the year maybe not owning their home, someone who did not have stocks. So, that's really interesting. We continue to see a rise in inequality last year despite the fact that we're seeing so many more millionaires around the world.

BERMAN: Well, good for them, yay for them.

SOLOMON: Yes, seriously.

BERMAN: Rahel Solomon, thank you so much for being with us.

HILL: The CEO of MyPillow, a prominent Trump-backer, Mike Lindell, now suing the DOJ and the FBI over the seizure of his cell phone. You may remember, it all went down to the Hardy's last week.


FBI agents did have a warrant but Lindell was now alleging it was an illegal search and says his constitutional rights were violated.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz is joining us live from Washington this morning with more. So, what more are we hearing from him?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Mike Lindell did put this filing in Minnesota's federal court last night, and it described the scene, what happened whenever federal investigators showed up at that Hardy's on September 13th. Mike Lindell, he was coming back from a duck hunting trip from Iowa, so the state just south of Minnesota, comes over the border with his friend after this duck hunting trip in the early morning hours, stops at the Hardy's when federal agents then surrounded him with their vehicles, one in front, one to the side, one to the back of them. He couldn't move.

They approached him and he says they began to ask him questions without telling him why they were there. He wanted to call his lawyer as soon as he realized that they were federal agents and it took a little bit time for him to actually get on the phone with his lawyer. And he did have his phone seized at that time, and was handed a subpoena in an ongoing federal criminal investigation.

Now, all of this put together is Mike Lindell now wants to go into court, he wants to get his phone back, he wants to stop the Justice Department from being able to access the materials on that phone. This is the challenge that we've seen from other people who have been investigated, high-profile, in recent months, related to their post- election activities. But with Lindell here, he is trying this, claiming that his rights were violated. Although, Erica, it is important to remember here that the Justice Department did go and get this warrant's approval from a judge whenever they went to seize his phone. And what we know is under investigation is the possible breach of a protected voting machine here in Colorado here, possibly identity theft, conspiracy and intentionally damaging a computer system, pretty serious things under investigation.

HILL: I was going to say, not exactly small potatoes. Katelyn, I appreciate it, thank you.

BERMAN: All right. For the first time ever, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, which is an independent group of physicians and health experts, is recommending that adults be screened for anxiety.

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now with that. This is a big deal.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is. I mean, we've heard about this before. They did this for depression back in 2016. And the guidance for this actually started a few years ago, 2018, for anxiety. But clearly over the past couple of years, I mean, there's been heightened concern about the levels of anxiety in the American population.

So, if you look overall, you'll find that what they're recommending specifically, people between the ages of 19 and 64, kids and adolescents, they made these recommendations earlier this year. Also, as I said, for 18 and older, there's already this recommendation that they'd be screened for depression. Basically, any time you go to the doctor's office as part of that visit, they want you to be screened for these things. Part of the concern is that if you look at the numbers overall, right now, about 26 percent of men would qualify as having an anxiety disorder, 40 percent of women at least on these screening tests.

Let me show you something. I pulled this off their website yesterday just to give you an idea of the types of questions they might ask. You go to a doctor over the last two weeks, they would say, have you been feeling very nervous, anxious, on edge, unable to stop those feelings, that's a big one, trouble relaxing, becoming sort of easily annoyed. These are screening questions. This is not a diagnosis. But if someone actually answers positive to these questions, they would go on to get further analyst.

HILL: And, I mean, I have to say, just looking at those questions, right, how many people do you not know, myself included, who couldn't say yes to all of those questions, and especially more so in the last couple of years.

BERMAN: And you're justifiably annoyed, to be clear.

HILL: I have this next few (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: That's right. That's justifiable.

HILL: Luckily, Sanjay balances it out.

GUPTA: Wow, thank you. That's why I'm here.

HILL: You know I love you both.

BERMAN: Excessive worrying, guilty.

Listen, also, Sanjay, we heard from President Biden, who, Sunday night on 60 Minutes, said the pandemic is over. What did you think when you heard that?

GUPTA: Well, first of all, he said quite a bit there. He said the pandemic is over, he's walking through this auto show. At the same time, he basically said we're still in the middle of a huge problem here. There's still an emergency essentially going on. So, it's not a popular opinion to say that the pandemic is not over but I think it almost becomes as much a philosophical question as it does a scientific question.

It is still loud, this virus, it is still unpredictable. We basically thought this was over in July of last year and then delta. We thought it was over by Thanksgiving of last year and then omicron. That's the unusual thing about the virus. A lot of times they sort of gradually taper down, you've had these huge spikes and I think we have to be really humble about this.

Let me show you a few numbers as well. We look at where we are right now compared to times when we definitively said we are still in the pandemic. So, you look at cases overall, I think around 63,000 cases now. Back last summer, even before delta, there was around 18,000 cases a day and we were clearly still in the pandemic, that sort of the trajectory there.


Hospitalizations, there's 30,000 people in the hospital right now. It's a lot lower than it's been in the past. We were in the pandemic back in June of last year, there was 18,000 people in the hospital, so just numbers-wise.

And deaths, I'll just tell you, 400 people still dying a day for the last two months. I mean, I just hope that never becomes normal for people. If that continues, it would be the second leading cause of death for these past couple of weeks, which is hard to get your head around, I think.

HILL: And you've seen multiple people point out since these comments were made, right, more than 400 people dying a day. If that were anything else that happened in a day, we would be up in arms.

I wonder too, though, Sanjay, if it's also a question of semantics. So, technically, are we -- we're not done with the virus, but calling it a pandemic, right, while that is helpful maybe in terms of public health, when it comes to people's perceptions, many people have moved on. So, should we be talking about it differently?

GUPTA: I think that's almost again as philosophical as it is scientific. It was easy to declare when it was going into the pandemic. CNN was the first to actually declare this a pandemic. That was a math problem, essentially. At this point, it's judgment and math sort of combined. It's still quite disruptive. I mean, that's one of the cardinal ingredients of a pandemic. I mean, I get that a lot of people have moved on but the idea that still that many people are dying, it would be such a high cause of death.

And the vaccinations do make this a lot more tolerable. And let me just show you quickly, again, in terms of how effective the vaccines are, if you compare the unvaccinated population versus the vaccinated and breakdown the vaccinated by boosters, you find that, look, the mortality rates in the unvaccinated, they're five, six times higher than just if you got the primary series alone and 30, 40 times higher than if you've been boosted.

So, we want this thing to be over, I want it to be over. I am sick of talking about it, like I think everyone else. I've been talking about it every day for two-and-a-half years. That last slide, that last graphic, I think, makes a big difference.

BERMAN: I'm scheduled for booster number two in one hour and 39 minutes.

GUPTA: All right.

HILL: I have mine next Monday.

BERMAN: Also, did you just get inducted into like something really big?

HILL: Yes, you did.

BERMAN: Are you now a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences? What's going on here?

GUPTA: I am. I'm a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, which is incredibly humbling. Yes. My wife and I went to the ceremony and it was great and it's a wonderful academy. It started in 1780s. John Adams started it and Einstein and George Washington and --

BERMAN: And Gupta.

GUPTA: I know. I know, right? That doesn't fit. I have three teenage daughters and they played a game of which of these does not belong to the other. The short answer, me.

BERMAN: Congratulations. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

GUPTA: I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

HILL: Nice to see you.

BERMAN: So, how are foreign leaders reacting to Russia's mobilization, calling up 300,000 new troops? Ahead, we're going to speak to the United Kingdom's newly appointed foreign secretary who is at the General Assembly here in New York.

HILL: The migrants who are flown to Martha's Vineyard now taking legal action against Governor Ron DeSantis and to the state of Florida.

And NASA, once again, running a test for its Artemis 1 rocket as it eyes another launch attempt.




PUTIN: I think it is necessary to support the decision to partially mobilize citizens of Russian Federation. I would like to underline this is a partial mobilization.


BERMAN: Vladimir Putin announced overnight a major escalation in Russia's war on Ukraine, the most significant since the invasion began. Starting today, hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens, 300,000 new will be called up to fight. With me now for his first U.S. interview is the newly appointed British foreign secretary, James Cleverly, who is at the United Nations General Assembly today. Congratulations to you, sir, quite a time to be in the new post. Your reaction to this announcement from Vladimir Putin?

JAMES CLEVERLY, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Well, John, thank you. And before I respond to that, and I will, I'd just like to say thank you to the United States and the president for the very kind words of condolence for the passing of her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. It means a huge amount to us in the U.K.

But to come to your point, these are the actions of someone who is clearly not seeing the conflict in Ukraine go the way he had hoped. We knew and we have been working with our allies, including, of course, the United States of American, that he hoped to dominate Ukraine in a matter of days. We're now seeing months later, the Ukrainians are pushing the Russians back and these are the actions of someone who knows this conflict is not going well.

BERMAN: What difference do you think that 300,000 new troops will make in this conflict?

CLEVERLY: Well, what we saw when I was here last in February was hundreds of thousands of Russian troops on the border of Ukraine. What we know is they were poorly motivated, poorly equipped and they did not have the spirit for the fight. I said at the time the Ukrainians would be ferocious in the defense of their country. That's exactly what we have seen. And with the support of the international community, including the U.K. and, of course, the United States of America, they have been incredibly effective defenders of their homeland.

And Russian piling more young Russian soldiers into this conflict, all that will do is create more parents who have lost their sons and daughters in this conflict. I think it will create more disquiet in Russia. It is a fundamentally wrong way forward. And what Putin should do is withdraw from Ukraine, let the Ukrainians have control of their territory once again and bring this conflict to an end.


BERMAN: How seriously are you taking Vladimir Putin's fairly direct nuclear threats here?