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Department of Justice Argues 100 Classified Documents Seized at Mar-a-Lago Should Not Be Subject to Special Master Review; Russian President Vladimir Putin Calls Up 300,000 Reservists to Fight in Ukraine; French President Emmanuel Macron Says Vladimir Putin Not in Touch with Reality; Protests Across Iran Intensify Over Death Of Woman In Custody; Iranian President Interview Canceled Over Head Scarf Demand; FL Lawmaker To File Lawsuit To Block DeSantis Migrant Flights; Hurricane Warning Issued For Bermuda As Fiona Moves North; Lawyer: Migrants Suing DeSantis Are Getting Death Threats. Aired 8-8:30a ET.

Aired September 22, 2022 - 08:00   ET



ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They lost in the district court. So the way it was going to word was all 11,000 documents seized at Mar-a-Lago have to go through the special master, who will then filter out any privileged documents and send the rest on to DOJ.

Now, DOJ took a very targeted, strategic appeal. They said of those 11,000 total documents, we're going to object only to the 100 or so classified documents. DOJ argued we need to get these now. They shouldn't go to the special master, and Trump has no right to them. Well, last night the court of appeals firmly agreed with the DOJ. It's worth noting, by the way, the three judges who sat on this case, two of them were Trump nominees. This was a unanimous decision. People can say what they want about life tenure. You don't owe anybody anything if you're a federal judge. Unanimous decision.

Here is what the court said. First of all, they said, quote, "The record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified," end quote. There is no such evidence, no, thinking about it does not count. The court also said the public has a strong interest in ensuring that the storage of classified records did not result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security. So they said DOJ, you get the documents, not going to Trump, not going through the special master.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So what happens next? The special master is still doing something here?

HONIG: Yes, so the special master still has his work to do. First of all, we are here. This is the court of appeals for the 11th circuit that gave the ruling last night. It's not necessarily over. Trump can still, first of all, ask the 11th circuit to rehear the case, what we call en banc, which means all the judges. It's very unlikely they grant that. Trump also can, and it wouldn't surprise me if he tries to get the case up to the Supreme Court. They don't have to take any case. I don't think it's likely they take the case. I think this is likely the last word.

But you're right, John, the special master still has to go through the other 10,900 documents they still need. They're in the process of working out the timetable there. Trump wants it done by mid-October. DOJ wants to get it done quicker than that.

BERMAN: But DOJ has the 100 classified documents and can use them in the investigation. They more or less have everything that they really want.

HONIG: Exactly, that's the most important point for DOJ. They cared about those 100 classified documents more than all the others.

BERMAN: All right, Ginni Thomas, the House select committee investigating January 6th has reached an agreement to hear her testimony about what?

HONIG: Ginni Thomas was everywhere when it comes to the weeks leading up to and during January 6th. In fact, on January 6th, she was at the Stop the Steal rally. She has said she left before the violence started. There is no evidence to the contrary. But she was there. More importantly, we know that Ginni Thomas was in constant contact with several power players around president, including Mark Meadows. We've seen 29 texts between the two of them. This is one exchange that really jumps out to me. Ginny Thomas texted him that Biden and the left is attempting the greatest heist of our history. Mark Meadows, then chief of staff, responds, "Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs." And Ginni Thomas responds "Thank you, needed that. This plus a conversation with my best friend," we don't know who her best friend is just now, "I will try to keep holding on. America is worth it."

Also, separately, Ginni Thomas was trying to pressure state officials in Arizona to throw the election over to Donald Trump. She emailed Rusty Bowers, we saw him testify in the committee, and another state official, and said "Article II of the United States Constitution gives you an awesome responsibility to choose our state's electors. Please take action to ensure that a clean slate of electors is chosen."

So the committee is going to have a lot of questions for Ginni Thomas on a lot of different topics.

BERMAN: And again, depending on what is discussed, may be relevant that she is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

HONIG: That may come up. We shall see.

BERMAN: It may come up. All right, Elie Honig, thank you very much.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Developing this morning, more than 1,300 people have been detained in cities across Russia in a crackdown in anti-war protests. It appears to be a fierce public reaction to President Vladimir Putin's call to mobilize some 300,000 reservists as he's attempting to reverse the momentum in Russia's war with Ukraine. CNN is tracking the latest from the front lines.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I'm Nick Paton Walsh in Slavyansk, Ukraine. You can hear the sirens gong off behind me. And really for Russians, this is a day in which the rubber hits the road for this partial mobilization. Are they going to be able to get people trained and equipped to the front line here to impact anything in a battlefield which is going very badly for Russia? And 1,300 people detained in protests overnight because of this order, and signs that Russians are trying to get out of the country as fast as they can, ticket sales rocketing.

Ukraine, though, good news overnight. An extraordinary prisoner exchange meant that one high-profile Russian, Viktor Medvedchuk, the godfather to Putin's child, swapped for 200 Ukrainian prisoners of war who defended the Mariupol steel plant. Remarkable scenes.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matthew Chance in London. And Russians in their thousands are reportedly to be trying to make their way out of the country in the wake of the sudden Kremlin announcement to mobilize its reserves to bolster depleted ranks fighting in Ukraine.


Finland to the west is reporting more than 4,000 Russians entering the country in a single day, and flights out of Moscow are soaring in price as more than 1,300 protesters are detained across Russia for demonstrating against the new callup.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I'm Kylie Atwood at the United Nations. President Biden said that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is about trying to extinguish Ukraine's right to exist. He said that that should make everyone's blood run cold. He also called out President Putin for what he said was irresponsible nuclear threats. And at the United Nations Security Council today there will be a meeting on Ukraine's sovereignty. Secretary of State Tony Blinken will be there according to U.N. diplomats. The foreign minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, will also be in attendance. And that should set up what could be a very dramatic meeting.


BERMAN: This morning the western leader who has been speaking with Vladimir Putin throughout this war is raising some questions about Putin's grip on reality. Listen to French President Emmanuel Macron tell Jake Tapper about the Russian president's isolation.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Now I think now after the counteroffensive, Vladimir Putin is much more under pressure. And after especially some clear statements made by a lot of leaders, not just western leaders, Prime Minister Modi and some others, calling for peace and a ceasefire, he had the opportunity to try to go a way towards peace. The decision he took a few hours ago is the second mistake, escalation. And I think it's a clear mistake to the rest of the world. A few

months ago, Vladimir Putin conveys the message, I was aggressed by NATO. They triggered the situation and I just reacted. Now it's clear for everybody that the leader who decided to go to war, the leader who decided to escalate is President Putin. And I have no rational explanation. I think this is a series of resentments, this is a strategy of hegemony in the region, and I would say this is a post- COVID-19 consequence. Isolation --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Because he's been so isolated?

MACRON: I think so. I think so.


BERMAN: This is a really interesting discussion. And you can see more of Jake's exclusive interview with the French President Emmanuel Macron today on "The Lead." That's at 4:00 p.m. eastern time.

KEILAR: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny responding to Russia's partial mobilization, saying that Putin is trying to involve as many people as possible in his Ukraine war. Navalny said during a Russian court hearing, Putin wants to smear hundreds of thousands of people in his blood. Of course, this will leave to a massive number of deaths.

Joining us is Navalny chief of staff Leonid Volkov. Thank you so much for being with us this morning. You just heard Emmanuel Macron saying he thinks that part of how Putin is relating to all of this, or this is all born of the fact that he was isolated during COVID, what do you say to that?

LEONID VOLKOV, CHIEF OF STAFF TO ALEXEY NAVALNY: I completely second it, but this is something that we are also saying aloud for many months now. Angela Merkel famously said in 2014 he's not in touch with reality, just in the same words as Emmanuel Macron said. He's losing grip to reality. So it was a fact already eight years ago. And then two years of isolation, of course that made this disconnection from reality even deeper. Putin talked only to a very narrow circle of his military friends, and they really dived into some conspiracy theories, like during two years in his bunker when he was just was not in contact with the outer world.

KEILAR: I do want to ask you about these protesters, which I know you're watching with a lot of interest. And there have been more than 1,300, more than 1,300 who have been arrested. And when you look at it, there are a lot of minors and women compared to past protests. What do you make of that change?

VOLKOV: Well, indeed, over 50 percent of those detained yesterday during the massive crackdown against the peaceful protests were women, which is huge in Russia because normally the breakdown was about 80 to 20. This is partially due to the fact that they realize what's going on. Their fathers, husbands, and sons are being conscripted. But partially also because it was also the men are scared because hundreds of cases are reported when people get detained and then conscript at the police station. KEILAR: And then they end up conscripted into the military. He is

calling up 300,000 troops. Sorry?


VOLKOV: Here I have to object. You called it a partial mobilization, and so Putin wrote in his order a partial mobilization. All our sources and all our knowledge says it is not true. Well, it's --

KEILAR: What do you mean?

VOLKOV: This number 300,000, it's not mentioned in any document. This Putin's order about the mobilization, it had like a secret article, so not all of it was made public. Today morning actually like a few hours ago an independent Russian newspaper reported that zero sources are telling them that it's actually about 1 million.

KEILAR: And the point is here it's a massive mobilization.


KEILAR: Whatever you're labelling it as, whatever he's labelling it has, it's a massive mobilization. To that point, when you're looking that, when you're looking at, CNN has new reporting that Russian military officers are arguing amongst themselves about front lines and where these should be. They are complaining to friends and family about orders that they're getting from Moscow. When you look at all of these things and that mobilization of so many Russians to be part of the military, how fragile is Vladimir Putin right now to you?

VOLKOV: He is very fragile because this decision about the mobilization is extremely unpopular. We, actually, the Anticorruption Foundation, we did our phone calls, we finished a phone call just a week ago before we knew about this decision, but one of the question we asked to our compatriots in Russia was what would be your relation to a possible mobilization? And at least two thirds were very negative. Many of them still support Putin, and many of them still support the war. They were very negative about the mobilization.

So we didn't actually communicate another great mistake. Hopefully, this is finally going to be his last mistake. Maybe not. But there will be a major change of attitude in the Russian society, because before today, before yesterday, still the still the normal political swamp. Like people who just didn't care tried to isolate themselves from political reality. We don't read the news, we don't care, we don't have any interest about the politics. Putin knows better. what he's doing in Ukraine, OK, we have only a professional army there, they know what to do. Now suddenly, well, these people will have to awake because this mobilization, and it's a global one, this will be hitting every family. We're hearing news from far eastern regions from Russia that Putin is in power that literally go to university auditory room and take all male students with them and so on.

KEILAR: It's a point that you make, Leonid, which is you can't ignore this if it's your son, or if it's your brother, or if it's your father. Leonid Volkov, it's great to see you. Thank you. VOLKOV: Thank you.

KEILAR: Weeklong protests in Iran continue over the death of a woman in police custody following her arrest for violating Iran's law that requires headscarves. Ahead, we're going to speak to Christiane Amanpour about these demonstrations and also why her interview with Iran's leader was canceled at the last minute.

Plus, the migrants the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flew to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, are now receiving hate messages and death threats.

BERMAN: A routine traffic stop quickly turns violent and it was all caught on video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Son of a bitch.


BERMAN: How four good Samaritans jumped into action to help the officer.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Huge protests in Iran over the death of 22- year-old Mahsa Amini, who died after being arrested by Iran's morality police. She was in their custody, accused of violating rules surrounding the wearing of the head scarf.

Iranian authorities say that Amini died of heart failure. But her family says she was in good health before she was arrested and had no pre-existing heart condition.

With us now is CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour. Christiane, we see these protests. We see the women on the streets there. And those are acts of bravery --


BERMAN: -- that you're seeing right there.

AMANPOUR: -- because you're seeing not just the protests, you're seeing women go on social media, cutting their hair in protest. You see some in the streets. Even elderly women, we saw at least one, burning their hijabs.

This has been a pattern of protests for several years. But this is the most largescale ones now. And it's because this young woman was killed, at least that's what her parents are saying and that's what her family is saying, because they say she was wrongly taken in by the morality police. They say she was wearing her scarf. She had no makeup on. She was visiting Tehran and was, you know, caught up in a dragnet of these people who drive around, stand at intersections, have (ph) their vans and just, you know, bring in all sorts of women and young girls who they say are not dressed modestly enough.

And I have to say that this has been going on much, much more stringently since the election of this current government. Very hardline government in Iran, comes after the more reformist government of President Rouhani.

And the women are always the barometer. And this government has chosen to crack down hard on social -- you know, social norms in society.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And you, Christiane, experienced that more stringent nature itself. You were actually supposed to interview the Iranian president there in New York at the U.N. Tell us about why this didn't happen.

AMANPOUR: Well, Brianna, it's very unsettling because we were going to have the first exclusive here in New York.

He'd already done an interview in Iran with "60 Minutes" where the headscarf was also an issue. But there, because it is the custom, one always does wear the headscarf when one's there. That's just -- otherwise you couldn't operate as a journalist.

Here, in New York or anywhere else outside of Iran, I have never been asked by any Iranian president -- and I have interviewed every single one of them since 1995, either inside or outside Iran -- never been asked to wear a headscarf.

After hours of getting this interview ready, having pretalks with the president's officials, giving them sort of an idea of what we wanted to ask about -- not questions, obviously, but an idea.


They knew exactly -- we wanted to talk about the nuclear deal, we wanted to talk about Iran's support for Russia against Ukraine and, most importantly, we wanted to talk about the violation of human rights.

At the very end, they come up with this, you know, it's a religious month of mourning and we need you to wear a headscarf.

And I very politely declined on behalf of myself, and CNN, and female journalists everywhere because it was not a requirement, and it was lobbed at us at the very last minute. And very unfortunately, they decided to pull -- you know, pull the interview. So it's a problem.

And we've had, for instance, the foreign minister of Sweden and others, you know, who criticized these protests and the crackdown -- the violent crackdown in Iran and saying women's rights there need to be respected. BERMAN: How do you read this, Christiane? Do you read this as fear of what's happening on the streets in Iran? Obviously, not fear of seeing your hair because that's not what it's about. It seems that they didn't want to talk to you about what's happening right now on the streets.

AMANPOUR: Well, look, I can't prejudge that because they told us that we had the interview. It was very difficult to get the interview, there's no doubt about that. And a lot of work went into it.

I think, if I could just guess and (ph) how do I read it, I think that they -- he did not want to be seen with a female without a headscarf in this moment, either because he calls it a religious month or because people would say, how come he's sitting down with an -- you know, a foreign journalist who's not wearing a headscarf and yet, inside Iran they're cracking down on young women who are not wearing their headscarves.

But the fact of the matter is the women are wearing their headscarves. Sometimes, in protest, they take them off. But they -- the authorities -- and I know because I've been there and seen it, each year they change their -- you know, their boundaries and their lines. Sometimes the headscarf has to be here. Sometimes it's OK if it's here.

You just never quite know what the parameters are. And these women have fallen foul of that.

BERMAN: And Christiane, I have to let you go here, we're running out of time. But just very quickly, when you see those protests in the street, I think there's a tendency for people to say, oh, this time, it's going to be different.

AMANPOUR: I'm not sure about that. When you say "different," some people I know on the outside say is this the end --

BERMAN: Right.

AMANPOUR: Is this a counter-revolution? But I do not think that's the case. I don't think the numbers are there. And I do know because I've experienced it myself, for instance in 2009, that the regime has all the power and will crack down very hard.

BERMAN: They crack down so hard. It's so disproportionate and it makes it difficult for anything like this to last very long.

Christiane Amanpour, thank you so much for sharing --

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- your reporting.

So Florida Governor Ron DeSantis facing a new potential legal battle, why a Democratic state senator says DeSantis may have broken the law with his Martha's Vineyard stunt. That's next.

KEILAR: And more than a million people still without power in Puerto Rico just as Hurricane Fiona strengthens into a Category 4 storm with Bermuda soon in its path.



KEILAR: Another legal challenge is on the horizon for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. A state lawmaker is expected to file a lawsuit soon in an attempt to block future migrant flights. Florida Senator Jason Pizzo says DeSantis violated state law when he flew 50 migrants to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts from San Antonio, Texas last week.

The governor has tried to justify the flight by pointing to a provision in a state budget that sets aside funds to transport people unlawfully present in the U.S. That only applies if you're transporting people in Florida, not Texas.

And when asked about this, DeSantis noted that the plane stopped in Florida before continuing onto Massachusetts, a move Democrats believe he made in an attempt to create a legal basis for the flights.

An attorney representing more than 30 of the migrants in a class action suit says his clients are now receiving hate messages and death threats.

BERMAN: With me now, CNN Political Commentators S.E. Cupp and Ana Navarro, and the President of Bienvenido Abraham Enriquez.

And let me just start with you on the news of the lawsuit out of Florida. What do you make of that?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, this entire situation hits me in several ways, right. First of all, I'm a Florida taxpayer.

And I find it outrageous that over $1 million now have been paid to a Republican donor company -- charter -- flight charter company to -- for this political stunt, when there are so many needs in Florida, when there are teachers that are so highly underpaid that we have a teacher shortage. It is outrageous.

I'm also a refugee. I fled Nicaragua. And most of those people fleeing Venezuela and Nicaragua are fleeing -- let's remember why. Because there are horrible dictators in those countries that violate human rights. And they are fleeing those countries seeking freedom. Making a treacherous trek, including through Panama and the Darien forest to make it to the United States.

That is what asylum law allows them to do. If we don't like that then let us change that. And I find it despicable, despicable, that in a state where so many people have the same experience, Ron DeSantis is using this right now as a political stunt to get his base out there for -- just before an election.

There are so many other stories he could be telling. There are so many economic stories he could be telling. This is unnecessary, again, an unnecessary culture war. And I think transporting undocumented aliens across state lines and

violating state law -- because they didn't need to stop in Florida. Who goes from Texas to Florida to Martha's Vineyard? I mean, that just makes absolutely no sense. And it is a transparent attempt to not violate what the law stipulates.

BERMAN: Abraham, what do you say to that?



And good morning to everyone.