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New Day

Russia's Military Divided with Internal Dissent Over Invasion; Trump Suffers Rough 24 Hours for Legal Peril Against Him, Empire; Cancer Death Rates Fall in the U.S. With More Survivors Than Ever. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 22, 2022 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's a very good question. We'll get to the bottom of it.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Or we won't. We'll see.

Either way, New Day continues right now.

An exodus, a crackdown and new infighting among Russian generals in the wake of Vladimir Putin's dangerous escalation of his invasion of Ukraine.

I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman this morning.

And we have new CNN reporting that reveals that Russia's military is rife with internal dissent over how to best counter Ukraine's advances in recent weeks. That's according to multiple sources familiar with U.S. intelligence.

Sources also say that president Putin himself is giving directions to his generals in the field specifically, which is highly unusual for a modern military like Russia's.

BERMAN: This as there have been anti-war protests in Central Moscow and St. Petersburg.

More than 1,300 people have been detained across Russia for protesting President Putin's partial mobilization of reservists to reinforce his troops fighting in Ukraine. There's also had been a sharp rise in the demand for flights out of Moscow. Prices have doubled and even tripled for one way fares going to Belgrade, Tel-Aviv, Istanbul, direct flights to places that do not require Russian visas are sold out through Friday at least.

KEILAR: Joining us now with this new reporting on Russia's internal military strife, CNN's Katie Bo Lillis, who is tracking all of this. This is fascinating what you revealed from your sources. Tell us about this division inside the Russian military.

KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Yes. Well, so, over the last ten days, obviously, we have seen the Ukrainians really exceed all expectations with this counteroffensive and really put the Russians on the defense in both the northeast and the south. And there hasn't really been a whole lot that Russia has been able to do to counter these Ukrainian advances.

And part of the reason, my sources are telling me, is that the Russian military is really divided internally over what the strategy should be here to push back on Ukraine, where they should send reinforcements, for example. So, intelligence intercepts are even picking up Russian officers on the frontlines kind of bickering amongst themselves and even complaining to friends and family members back home about the kind of directions that they were receiving from Moscow.

But, Brianna, what's even more interesting is that what we have learned is that Russian President Vladimir Putin is actually communicating with Russian generals on the frontlines directly, which is super unusual for a commander-in-chief in a modern military.

KEILAR: Like micromanaging.

LILLIS: Yes, exactly. It really speaks to a really dysfunctional command structure. So, I think you take all of these things together, Brianna, and it shows you a Russian military that is still struggling, not just with strategy and planning but with basic military command and control.

BERMAN: Katie Bo, we've seen -- we just showed video of the protests across Russia in the wake of this partial mobilization. How is internal dissent, how might that affect the mobilization?

LILLIS: So, there's obviously been this sort of big political decision made that is in part designed to try to deal with some of the manpower problems that Russia has been facing, which are significant, and, in theory, should make some of these decisions a little bit easier for the Russian military. So, that's clearly kind of the intent here.

But our sources are telling us that even though the U.S. has seen some small number of Russian troops move back towards the east, troops that had initially fled in the first push from Ukraine, U.S. officials don't anticipate that Russia is even capable right now of mounting any kind of serious military operation. And it's not clear that the mobilization itself is going to have any long-term kind of operational impact on the battlefield, what that's going to look like, and certainly not in the short-term.

So, right now, what my sources are telling me, Russia just doesn't have a lot of options.

KEILAR: It's just a fascinating look this morning that you have inside of these discussions and micromanagement. Katie Bo, thanks for sharing it with us.

LILLIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, as anti-war protesters sat in a Russian police station, one detainee did this. That's a software engineer and a detainee playing the song, Another Love, on piano for about 50 people who were also detained. That was in St. Petersburg. They are among the 1,300 Russians who have been taken off Russia's streets protesting Putin's partial mobilization for the war in Ukraine.

Let's go to Matthew Chance in London now to talk about this sort of at least uprising in sentiment among some, Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, look, John, this partial mobilization that the Russians have introduced is -- was always going to be deeply unpopular, because it means that people who hadn't already volunteered to go and fight on the frontlines in Ukraine are now effectively going to be forced to get into uniform, pick up a gun, after a bit of training, although we don't know how much, go and fight that war.


And, of course, it forces people who had been sort of like, you know -- had gone along with the whole idea of this special military operation because it didn't touch them, it was just on the television screens. It forces families across Russia to confront it face-to-face, it's become very real for them.

And so you're right, the monitors we've been speaking to who monitor protests in the country are saying more than 1,300 people arrested, 51 percent of that number, we're told, are women and minors. And so it implies it's like the wives and the mothers and the sisters and the children of these people who were sent off to fight are coming out on the streets as well as the actual people who are just opposed to ideological or involved.

We also had some very disturbing information from those same independent monitors saying that some of the people who have been detained by police in Moscow for protesting against the draft are actually being drafted in right there at the police station. And so that's happening in three or four locations across Russia. It seems particularly harsh even in the sort of hard-line -- even for the hard- lined Russian authorities.

BERMAN: It is fascinating to watch and the gender break down is very interesting. And also the notion, it appears the protests are over what they're asked to do in this war as much as -- or not so much disapproval of with what's happening to Ukrainians in Ukraine, but this can be the beginning of something.

Matthew Chance, thank you so much for your reporting.

KEILAR: This morning, a bruising legal 24 hours for Donald Trump, and a bizarre new defense. Overnight, the Department of Justice scored a significant win in the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago for classified documents. We'll have more on that in a moment. In New York, though, State Attorney General Letitia James filed a sweeping lawsuit against Trump and his organization and children, accusing them of fraud, deceiving lenders, insurers, tax officials over the value of his properties for more than a decade. The New York attorney general wants the Trump Organization dissolved.

And in Georgia, a newly obtained surveillance video confirms that a fake Trump elector spent hours inside a Georgia elections office on the day that it was breached. It's part of a far-reaching investigation into possible election fraud. She has her sights set on at least 16 would be but fake Trump electors.

BERMAN: So, a federal appeals court reversed a judge's decision and will now allow investigators to use some 100 classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago as part of the criminal probe. Neither the special master nor Trump's legal team will have access to them. Part of the appeals court reasoning is that the Trump team has never produced any evidence or really even any arguments that the documents were declassified.

And Ginni Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has agreed to sit down with the January 6th house committee. For months, the committee has sought this interview, trying to get a clearer picture of the role she might have played in Trump's efforts to overturn the election, that reporting first on CNN.

Now, CNN's Athena Jones joins us with a look at this litany of legal issues.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. The former president's legal woes, as you said, are mounting after a federal appeals court sided with the Justice Department allowing it to continue its review of classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago. And here in New York, the attorney general filed a sweeping lawsuit alleging Trump lied more than 200 times about the value of his assets over a decade calling a number of grossly inflated asset values staggering.


JONES (voice over): A federal appeals court is lifting a hold on the classified records found in former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago home and resort, a victory for the Justice Department, which can resume using the 100 or so documents in its criminal probe.

The three judge panel of the 11th U.S. Court Circuit of Appeals, two of whom were appointed by Trump, said in their ruling, it is evident that the public has a strong interest and in ensuring the storage of classified records did not result an exceptionally grave damage to the national security. Ascertaining that necessarily involved reviewing the documents, determining who had access to them and when and deciding which if any sources or methods are compromised.

The ruling overturns a trial judge's order that blocked federal investigators from using the documents. It's also a rebuff of the Trump team's suggestions that the materials were somehow declassified, with the judges saying in the ruling, Plaintiff suggested that he may have declassified these documents when he was president, but the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified. And before the special master, Plaintiff resisted providing any evidence that he declassified any of the documents. In a prerecorded interview on Fox News Wednesday, Trump reiterated theories that legal experts say hold little merit and are irrelevant to the case at hand.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It doesn't have to be a process, as I understand it. There's -- different people say different things. But as I understand it, that doesn't have to be -- if you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it.

JONES: The documents seized by federal agents in August are at the center of a criminal investigation into the mishandling of federal records after the Trump presidency. Trump's options to block the criminal investigation are fading. The remaining possibility, an emergency request to the Supreme Court, this as just one of several investigations into the president's actions.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Five years I've been shouting it from the roof tops, he's a con, he's a fraud.

JONES: After a three-yearlong investigation --

ATTORNEY GENERAL LETITIA JAMES (D-NY): This conduct cannot be brushed aside and dismissed as some sort of good faith mistake.

JONES: -- New York State Attorney General Letitia James filing a civil fraud lawsuit against Trump, three of his adult children, some close allies and businesses.

JAMES: They violated several state criminal laws, including falsifying business records, issuing false financial statements, insurance fraud and engaging in a conspiracy to commit each of these state law violations.

JONES: In a more than 200-page lawsuit, James alleges fraud touched multiple aspects of Trump's businesses, including properties and golf courses, and alleges they deceived lenders, insurers and tax authorities through schemes like inflating the value of his properties.

JAMES: The statements of financial condition were greatly exaggerated, grossly inflated, objectively false and, therefore, fraudulent and illegal.

JONES: As an example, James cites Trump's Fifth Avenue apartment. Trump allegedly claimed it was 30,000 square feet when it was actually 11,000. The inflated square footage put its valuation at $327 million.

JAMES: To this date, no apartment in New York City has ever sold for close to that amount.

JONES: In response to the lawsuit, the former president had this to say on Fox News. TRUMP: I actually thought that they would never bring a case and she brought it. And the reason I thought because she didn't have a case. I was of the impression she wanted to settle, but I had a problem because how do you pay something, even if it's a small amount of money, if you're not guilty? This was just a continuation of a witch hunt that began when I came down the escalator at Trump Tower.


JONES (on camera): Now, in terms of the motivation or part of the motivation behind this allegedly bogus accounting, the New York attorney general said Trump, quote, made known he wanted his net worth to increase, a desire one of his co-defendants, Allen Weisselberg and others, carried out year after year in the fraudulent preparation of his financial statements. John?

BERMAN: All right. Athena Jones, thank you so much for that reporting.

KEILAR: Let's bring in National Security Attorney Bradley Moss to talk more about this.

Bradley, let's start with the Justice Department, a federal appeals court ruling the DOJ could continue their review of the classified documents seized in the Mar-a-Lago search. We also should mention here that two of the three judges on this appeals court panel were appointed by Trump. I think that's worth mentioning here. This really refutes both Trump's lawyers arguments but also that lower court judge, Aileen Cannon, and what she ruled.

BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY LAW ATTORNEY: Yes. This was the 11th Circuit bringing things back to reality. This is where the case law actually is in this type of situation, that for a civil plaintiff to be bringing this action, trying to regain access to documents that had classification markings on them and that were now in the custody of the FBI in a criminal probe, there is no basis, there is no standing, as the 11th Circuit noted, no possessory interest to those documents in the absence of evidence of declassification. And even that was a potential red herring in the sense that the search warrant wasn't about classified information, it was classification markings. And these are still -- even if they were declassified, and, again Donald Trump has shown no evidence any of any of that, even if they were, they're still government records, they're not his records. They're the property of the United States.

KEILAR: Yes. The judge in the ruling -- judges said there was no evidence that he had declassified these. However, this is what Donald Trump said. This was his latest defense last night about declassifying these documents.


TRUMP: If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it, because you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you're sending it. And there doesn't have to be a process. There can be a process but there doesn't have to be. You're the president, you make that decision.


So, when you send it, it's declassified. I declassified everything.


BERMAN: He thought it into declassification. What do you make of that?

MOSS: Yes. I'm sorry, that's not how it works. And this is not me saying it. There were three different cases that came out during the Trump years, one of which I lost, in which Trump made these verbal orders of I'm declassifying X, Y, Z, every single time it got pulled back. The Justice Department pulled it back saying this wasn't an actual declassification order. The courts rejected it each time saying there has to be a process followed. The simple verbal assertion isn't enough.

Thinking it in his head to declassify it, that would be an obscenely reckless way to handle declassification because no one else would know, no one else in the government would these records, this information is suddenly declassified. I get he's not a details guy but these processes are what have to be followed. This is not a defense his lawyers are going to actually try to put up. They have got to try to put up something competent and coherent.

KEILAR: Ginni thomas, who, of course, is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, but she's also a conservative activist, and most importantly, she was in touch with a lot of state officials and Mark Meadows in this fake elector scheme, or certainly these efforts to overturn election results in 2020, she has agreed to sit down with the January 6th committee. What can they get from her?

MOSS: Sure. So, with Ginni Thomas, what they're looking at is not just her discussions with Mark Meadows but with John Eastman, the lawyer we know is currently the subject of the criminal probe in the context of these fake electors, in his efforts and coordination with Mr. Trump, who currently had retained him as a private attorney. She can provide context as to what efforts she was doing, what information John Eastman told her, what information she provided him, who else she interacted with on his behalf and vice versa. It can flesh out the picture more.

They're not going to get into what she discussed with her husband, that's marital privilege, the committee is not going to go there, but this will further flush out any comprehensive, factual record of what the spouse of a Supreme Court justice was doing to try to overturn the election.

KEILAR: It's been a busy 24 hours, Bradley, and we thank you for helping us understand it. Thanks.

BERMAN: A new report this morning that finds there are more cancer survivor in the U.S. than ever before. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us with this promising data. KEILAR: Plus, there have been more than 500 head coaches in NFL history, only 24 have been black. A new investigation by The Washington Post dives into the hurdles that these coaches have faced and still face getting and keeping their jobs.

And we're going to take you live to Puerto Rico, where communities across the island are working desperately to rebuild after Hurricane Fiona.



KEILAR: New details this morning about a former military contractor, Leonard Francis, who was arrested in Venezuela this week after 16 days on the run. Fat Leonard, as he was known for his size, was the mastermind behind the biggest corruption scandal in U.S. Navy history. He escaped before his sentencing on bribery and fraud charges.

And CNN's Barbara Starr is joining us live from the Pentagon with the very latest here. Barbara, what can you tell us?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, this chapter that has extended for almost a decade in maybe contracting fraud and bribery charges may finally be coming to an end. Francis arrested Tuesday by Venezuelan authorities on an Interpol red notice that was filed by U.S. Marshals, essentially an international be on the lookout for this guy. And now the U.S. is talking to the Venezuelans about extradition proceedings to try and bring him back to the United States.

He escaped a couple weeks ago, just three weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced by cutting off his GPS ankle monitoring bracelet, went on the run and was found in Venezuela. This dates back to an investigation that began in 2013. Francis would eventually plead guilty to fraud and bribery charges, again, awaiting that sentence. He had been accused of those charges by stealing Navy ships to ports where his company operated port services, port facilities across the Pacific. And a number of U.S. Navy military personnel also had their careers ruined over all of this, arrested, brought up on charges, jail time involved.

But now, finally, Francis back under custody the U.S. trying to get him back from the Venezuelans and it looks like this chapter that has been investigated since 2013 may finally be drawing to a close. Brianna?

KEILAR: Barbara Starr, thank you for that report.

BERMAN: So, cancer deaths falling steadily in the United States with more survivors than ever before, this is according to a new report for the American Association for Cancer Research.

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. Tell us about these numbers. Good. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, I get to give you some good news here. I mean, we've known that we've been making progress in cancer for some time. I think what is striking is when you look at the numbers over time, going back to the early '90s compared to now, you see a pretty significant cut in overall death rates, 32 percent cut. If you do the math on that, that's about 3.5 million lives saved.

BERMAN: That's a lot.

GUPTA: Yes. And there's all sorts of reasons for that. We'll talk about that. But also just the idea of how many cancer survivors are there now versus back, going to the early 1970s. About 18 million cancer survivors, about 5 percent of the population now, 1 in 20 people, would say that they are a cancer survivor now compared to then.


Also, if you go back to that same timeframe, there's only about half of people with any kind of cancer at that point that would live five years or more. And now, the number is closer 70 or 75 percent. That's across the board.

BERMAN: I was looking at those graphs, because they're so good. Those numbers are so stark, Sanjay. So, you promised me you tell me why. Why?

GUPTA: Yes. So, first of all, the four cancers that have really made the most progress, lung, colon, breast and prostrate. They made the most progress in these types of cancers, two primary reasons. There are several reasons but two primary reasons. One is better identifying the genetics of what's actually driving these cancers. So, sometimes it's a mutation or series of mutations, so the therapy is sort of targeting that, and also something known as immunotherapy.

I mean, you may remember the story of Jimmy Carter. I mean, Jimmy Carter had metastatic melanoma, melanoma that has spread to his brain. And he thought there was no way he was going to survive that. Immunotherapy basically allowed his own immune system to fight the cancer. And that ended up being very, very effective for him and there's been more immunotherapy since then.

BERMAN: So, President Biden wants more. He has got this cancer moon shot that he's called for specifically as president but also he's been working on for some time, and he wants to half cancer deaths in 25 years. How realistic is that?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, look what's happened since '91. There's been a 32 percent drop. So, if you look at the specific things that he wants to do, I mean, the list makes sense. It's investments. We know that these investments have paid off in the past. We have better trajectories, specifically the immunotherapies I was talking about. But it's also worth pointing out here on New Day, we were just talking a couple weeks ago about half of cancers, new cancers, are probably preventable from smoking, from obesity, from other things that sort of drive these cancer rates up around the world. So, if we can focus on that prevention in addition to these new therapies, it makes a difference.

BERMAN: It's wonderful news and wonderful prospects, if we can stick to it.

All right, also wonderful news, your podcast, new season of Chasing Life, and in the first episode, you introduced us to a German word, which I have to read here, umwelt. Let's listen to the clip here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The umwelt means the perceptual environment. So, the parts of the world that we can sense and perceive and that other creatures might not be able to. So, my umwelt, for example, includes a spectrum ranging from red to violet. A bee's umwelt goes from green to ultraviolet. Birds have a whole dimension of colors that they can perceive and that we can't. My umwelt does not include the Earth's magnetic field that a turtle might be able to perceive, it doesn't include the electric fields a shark or a platypus can sense. So, each creature has its own set of sights and smells and textures and sounds that it can perceive and that are unique to it.


GUPTA: I love this stuff, I got to tell you. So, that's Ed Yong. You may remember Ed Yong. He wrote this book called An Immense World. Here's the basic premise here, is that no matter how hard we can try, I can never truly have your umwelt, your sensory bubble.

BERMAN: I don't want your umwelt.

GUPTA: I mean, this comes up with pain, for example, people trying to like describe their pain. There was a famous book Thomas Nagel wrote, What is it Like to be a Bat? And the conclusion was we can never know because it's that umwelt that is so specific to a creature and a specific creature in and of that. So, I mean, Ed really dives deep into this. I'm a brain guy. I'm Neurosurgeon. The idea I get to do this podcast, talking about the umwelt of senses for all creatures, I mean, it's a privilege to talk about it.

BERMAN: What can be more exciting than the umwelt of senses? No, no, it really sounds interesting but I think something broke in my head as I was trying to wrap my head around it. Sanjay, nice to see you, thank you very much.

So, Vladimir Putin wants to smear hundreds of thousands of people in blood, that from jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Russia's partial mobilization of reservists, his chief of staff joins us.

KEILAR: And next, we'll be joined by the USAID Administrator Samantha Power with reaction to Vladimir Putin's recent threats.