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Biden Vows 'Consequences' for Saudis after Oil Production Cut; Biden's Approval Rebounds from Summer Slump; Russia Continues Revenge Strikes; DOJ to Supreme Court: Stay Out of Mar-a-Lago Documents Case; Ex-Angels Employee Gets 22 Years in Prison in Death of Pitcher Tyler Skaggs; All Charges Dropped Against Man Chronicled in 'Serial' Podcast. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 12, 2022 - 06:00   ET



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, I have no intention of meeting with him, but for example, if he came to me at the G-20 and said, I want to talk about the release of Griner, I'd meet with him. I mean, it would depend. He's acted brutally. I think he's committed war crimes. And so I don't -- I don't see any rationale to meet with him.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.

President Biden not only ruling out a meeting with Vladimir Putin. He's also sending the Russian leader a chilling warning. Follow through with your threat to use a tactical nuclear weapon against Ukraine, and it could end in Armageddon.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Biden said that Putin totally miscalculated by invading Ukraine, but he believes the Russian president is a rational actor. Jake asked President Biden what a U.S. response might look like if Putin deploys a nuclear arsenal.


BIDEN: There's been discussions on that, but I'm not going to get into that. It would be irresponsible of me to talk about what we would or wouldn't do.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Have you asked the Pentagon to game it out, though, I mean, just in case?

BIDEN: The Pentagon didn't have to be asked.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden also said it is time to rethink the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, now that the kingdom has aligned themselves with Russia by cutting oil production. The president says the Saudis will face consequences, but he would not say what those might be.

KEILAR: Let's bring in CNN's M.J. Lee with the very latest on what we heard -- M.J.

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, as you know, President Biden doesn't frequently do these kinds of sit-down interviews. And this conversation with Jake here at the White House yesterday coming at such a high-stakes moment.

Here at home, of course, there are concerns about the possibility of a recession. And then on the global stage, there's the intensifying situation in Ukraine. And then, growing questions about what the U.S. should do about Saudi Arabia.


LEE (voice-over): President Biden giving a stark assessment of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

TAPPER: Do you think Putin is a rational actor?

BIDEN: I think he is a rational actor who's miscalculated significantly. I think he thought he was going to be welcomed with open arms, that this was -- this has been the home of Mother Russia in Kyiv and that he was going to be welcomed. And I think he just totally miscalculated.

LEE (voice-over): Russia's military strategy has fallen short in recent months, and Ukraine has regained territory in its Eastern region.

As a result, Putin has waged one of Russia's harshest bombing campaign this week, hitting multiple civilian targets throughout Ukraine, including in its capital of Kyiv.

At a fund-raiser last week, Biden saying the world was as close as it had been to nuclear Armageddon since the Cuban missile crisis 60 years ago.

BIDEN: The whole point I was making was it could lead to just a horrible outcome. And not because anybody intends to turn it into a world war ending, but you just -- once you use a nuclear weapon, the mistakes that can be made, the miscalculations, who knows what could happen.

LEE (voice-over): On Saudi Arabia, Biden claiming the United States' relationship with the kingdom will be re-evaluated after the Saudi-led OPEC+ oil cartel announced plans to slash oil production next month, a decision criticized as showing allegiance to Russia.

BIDEN: When the House and Senate get back, they're going to have to -- there's going to be some consequences for what they've done with Russia.

LEE (voice-over): Biden not providing specifics and continuing to defend his decision to visit Saudi Arabia this summer, where he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

BIDEN: I went about making sure that we made sure that we weren't going to walk away from the Middle East and what was going on.

LEE (voice-over): On the economy, Biden defending his administration's accomplishments.

BIDEN: I don't think there will be a recession. If it is, it will be a very slight recession.

Look what we've got done. We passed so much legislation that significantly makes a point about -- you know, for example, the American Rescue Plan. The legislation to deal with inflation. The Inflation Act. We've moved along -- I mean, there's so much that's been accomplished, that the idea that there is something -- there's an automaticity to recession is just not -- is just not there.

LEE (voice-over): The president, who turns 80 next month, saying he will decide after the midterms whether to run for a second term.

BIDEN: Name me a president in recent history that's gotten as much done as I have in the first two years. Not a joke. I believe I can do the job. I've been able to do the job.

LEE (voice-over): And making this pledge.

BIDEN: We finally have action on guns. And by the way, I'm going to get assault weapons banned. Before this is over, I'm going to get that again. Not a joke, and watch.

LEE (voice-over): The president also commenting on his son's possible legal troubles. CNN has reported that Hunter Biden could face charges for allegedly violating tax laws and lying on a gun application.

BIDEN: By the way, this thing about a gun, I didn't know anything about it. But it turns out that, when he made application to purchase a gun, what happened was he -- I guess you get asked -- I don't guess. You get asked the question, Are you on drugs or do you use drugs? He said no. And he wrote about saying no in his book.

TAPPER: Right.

BIDEN: So I have great confidence in my son. I love him, and he's on the straight and narrow, and he has been for a couple of years now. And I'm just so proud of him.


LEE (on camera): Now, all of this ground that we just heard the president covering there, of course, taking place in front of the backdrop of the midterm elections just four weeks away now.

And to that end, we are going to see the president hitting the road later this morning. He's traveling to the West Coast for stops in California, Oregon, and Colorado. And the White House is certainly hoping, guys, that if he hits the

trail and talks about the Democrats' accomplishments, this can help them try to minimize their losses in November.

KEILAR: All right. M.J. Lee, thank you so much, live for us from the White House.

And ahead, CNN's Jake Tapper is going to join us with more on his exclusive sit-down interview with President Biden.

BERMAN: All right. Just in: a brand-new CNN poll shows that President Biden's approval ratings rebounded, slightly, from a low this summer, but Americans are still sour on the economy.

CNN political director David Chalian here with the key breaking numbers -- David.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: That's right, John. Good morning.

The president is going to hit the road, M.J. said, and he's going to do so, as you note, with a slight improvement in his overall approval rating.

He's now, in our brand-new CNN poll, conducted by SSRS, at 44 percent approval. We say it's a slight improvement. This is not where a president wants to be a few weeks out from a midterm. Fifty-six percent disapprove.

But take a look at the growth here since June, July. That was his low point. In our early summer poll, he was at 38 percent approval. Now, again, he's at 44 percent approval.

And just to stack him up here against his modern-era predecessors, Biden falls in here. So in the range of Obama in 2010, by the way, when Democrats lost some 63 seats in the House. Or Reagan '82, when his party lost 27 seats or so. Clinton '94 when his party lost a slew of seats in the House.

This is definitely a warning sign, but you'd rather be on the uptick than heading further down, and that's where Biden seems to be right now.

KEILAR: And how do Americans view the economy, David?

CHALIAN: Not well, Brianna. Take a look here. We asked, can you sort of tell us how you feel about the current economic conditions in the country? Very good, somewhat good, it's about a fifth of people, 22 percent if you combine those.

But take a look here. Somewhat poor or very poor, that adds up to 78 percent of those in this poll say that is the state of the economy.

How does Biden's handling of the economy rate? Not great here. OK? He's at 36 percent approval. Much below his overall 44 percent approval we were just talking about on the issue No. 1 of the economy. You see here, coronavirus is his best issue. Foreign affairs, helping

the middle class. But again, economy and inflation, this is issue No. 1 for Americans, and it's the bottom of the list for Joe Biden.

And in terms of whether or not Biden's policies are improving conditions in the economy, 50 percent of Americans in this poll say that Biden's policies have actually worsened conditions. Only 26 percent say improved; 24 percent no effect.

Now, again, we see a slight improvement for the president here from that low point earlier this year. In April, May, 55 percent of Americans said his policies made the conditions worse economically. Now that's at 50 percent. Again, still a huge warning sign of a number.

BERMAN: You know, in terms of a dim view of performance, David, how do people feel about Congress?

CHALIAN: John, this is just dismal. I mean, has the Congress done anything to effectively address the country's problems? That was the question we asked. Only 38 percent of Americans in this poll say yes. So this is sort of a failing grade for Congress.

Now as you might imagine, behind these numbers, Democrats are driving this yes vote. It's a Democratic Congress. But Republicans and independents, just huge majorities say no, this Congress has not done anything to address the major problems the country has.

KEILAR: Never a good view of Congress, I will say. David, thank you so much.

BERMAN: A new round of missile attacks by Russia in Ukraine this morning. The latest targeting Zaporizhzhia and its suburbs. Not the power plant, the region. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is live in the capital of Kyiv.

Fred, tell us about these strikes and how they've hit.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you really feel, John, that these strikes by the Russians are ongoing. We can see, over the past couple of days.

One of the interesting things about those Zaporizhzhia strikes is apparently, they were done with S-300 missiles. Those are normally used to shoot down planes. They're highly inaccurate, and of course, the use of those in civilian areas, the chances of civilian casualties are very high.

At the same time, you see a great deal of resilience here on the part of the Ukrainians. What you see behind me here right now was the site of a massive impact crater where the Russian rocket landed two days ago. It took one day to patch everything up, get the road traffic going again.

[06:10:10] There's a really great picture of this that our producer, Sebastian Shukla, posted on his Instagram feed that showed when the impact happened, five people killed in place -- and what it looks like now.

So you can see the Ukrainians continuing with that resilience. On the other hand, John, they are also saying it is taking a toll on the electricity grid here. They are facing a crunch there, and they're urging people to conserve electricity -- John.

BERMAN: So Vladimir Putin speaking at this moment. Do we expect him to respond to what President Biden said about him in his interview with Jake?

PLEITGEN: Yes, he might. He might respond in a certain way to all this. He definitely will have taken note of it. He definitely will have heard what President Biden said.

It was quite interesting, because earlier today, John, the Kremlin responded to all of this in a direct question from CNN. And this is the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, saying, quote, "Every day that Western heads of state -- the U.S. as well as European -- practice nuclear rhetoric every day, we consider this a pernicious and provocative practice. Russia does not want to take part in these exercises and does not take part in them."

So essentially, Russians, as they have been in the past, trying to blame everything on the West, while at the same time, of course, we know that the Ukrainians and others believe that there is a real threat of Russia using tactical nukes if its forces were being pushed back -- John.

BERMAN: Frederik Pleitgen on the streets in Kyiv. Fred, stay safe. Thank you.

KEILAR: In the meantime, Ukraine's President Zelenskyy suggesting that the death toll from the bombardments earlier this week could have been worse, saying that Ukraine's military countered Russian aerial attacks from the ground, taking action like this one. Pretty amazing one, actually, you see here. Zelenskyy said this in his nightly address.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): As of this morning, there were 28 missiles, of which 20 were shot down. More than 15 drones. Almost all of them are Iranian combat drones. Most were shot down.

On October 10, Dmitri Shumsky (ph) showed excellent skills, with a reaction shot and shot down two terrorist cruise missiles with the help of Stinger MANPADs. One person saved dozens of lives. Thank you for that.


KEILAR: Now, CNN cannot confirm the number of missiles that Russia launched; cannot confirm the number that Ukraine shot down. Joining us now is CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Colonel

Cedric Leighton.

Cedric, that video is pretty amazing to watch. That MAPAD taking out a cruise missile here. Tell us the weapons that Ukraine has that could take down Russian missiles and also these Iranian drones.


So these are some of the most impressive weapons that the Ukrainians have and I'll get to the specifics that President Zelenskyy has mentioned in just a second.

So what does Ukraine have right now, Brianna? Well, they've got the S- 300. This is a Soviet-era weapon. They've gotten the latest tranche of these from Slovakia. It has a range of 46 miles, can hit things up to 82,000 feet. So this is a very important piece in the Ukrainian arsenal.

The other thing that they have, of course, is something we've talked about a lot. The HIMARS or High Mobility Artillery Rocket System. It has a range of about -- up to 300 miles and holds six rockets at a time.

So this becomes particularly important when it comes to a much more modern system than the S-300. And it can also hit some things, including missiles, that otherwise were not part of what the Ukrainians were able to do.

But this is the thing that Zelenskyy mentioned right here. A Javelin being used or a Stinger being used to take out a missile in this particular case.

This is a huge deal, because they can do this. Not only can they go after aircraft, but they can go after missiles and drones. And this is something that these particular weapons systems are capable of doing.

This is a Stinger; has a range that goes up to 5 miles, altitude of up to 1,200 feet. This is the Javelin, this is shoulder fire, single soldier can do it. And that's what you saw in that video. Range of about 8,200 feet. So this is a very short-range weapons system.

KEILAR: Yes. What a surprise to see it taking out that missile there.

Zelenskyy has also been calling for more weapons from the West to counter Russian missile and drone attacks. First, tell us what is en route to Ukrainian soldiers.

LEIGHTON: Right. So one of the systems that's en route to the Ukrainian soldiers is something known as the NASAMS. It is actually Norwegian and U.S. built system. It protects the White House and other areas here in Washington. And that's one of the things that's being used.

Then the Germans are sending something known as IRIS-T SLM (ph). This is a picture of it right here. This protects cities and can provide some of the types of things that they really need in terms of actual protection.


And then this finally is the ATACMS missile system. This is the one here shown in South Korea. Same system would actually be used by the Ukrainians, and it would be part of their arsenal and be highly effective, if they did that.

KEILAR: Yes. So far, reticence to send that to them. We'll see if that changes. Colonel, thank you so much.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Brianna.

KEILAR: The Justice Department sending a clear message to the Supreme Court: stay out of the Mar-a-Lago documents dispute.

Also, Baltimore prosecutors dropping all charges against Adnan Syed, whose case gained national attention on the "Serial" podcast.

BERMAN: A former Los Angeles Angels employee sentenced to 22 years in prison for the overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.


BERMAN: This morning, the Justice Department is urging the Supreme Court to stay out of former President Trump's classified documents case. Documents marked classified.


The filing comes after Trump last week asked the Supreme Court to intervene. Trump wants more than 100 documents that are marked as classified to be part of the special master's review.

The Justice Department calling the records extraordinarily sensitive -- is calling the records extraordinarily sensitive and arguing that Trump, quote, "has not even attempted to explain how he is irreparably injured" and "has no plausible claim of privilege in or ownership of government records bearing classification markings."

With me now, former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Katie Cherkasky.

Katie, great to have you here. At issue before the Supreme Court, this is a very narrow ask here of the Supreme Court. Right? Because Trump is not saying to DOJ, You can't have these documents anymore as part of your investigation. We concede we lost that part of the battle. You have them. You can use them as part of the investigation. What exactly are they asking for?

KATIE CHERKASKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you're right. This is a very narrow issue, and I think ultimately, if we're talking the overall Trump issue with the Mar-a-Lago documents, that will have to be looked at by the Supreme Court at some level, whether it is after an indictment or not.

But for now, the only request is really that the DOJ cannot continue to use these documents in their criminal investigation.

BERMAN: That's not my understanding. My understanding is they can use them as part of the criminal investigation but that the special master, who has been barred by the appeals court from looking at them at all --

CHERKASKY: That they can't --

BERMAN: -- will also get to look at them.

CHERKASKY: Well, that's -- that's right. And so basically, Trump's side wants the special master to be able to review the documents also, to determine issues of privilege. Which I don't think is a specifically good issue for the Supreme Court to get involved in at this stage.

But really, I think maybe the Trump side is looking for some sort of indication from the Supreme Court about what they might do overall with this issue.

I don't know that it's ripe at this point. I think that the DOJ makes a very good point in their filing that the injunction that was issued by the 11th Circuit really shouldn't be overturned by the Supreme Court. That this has nothing to do with an issue that can be adjudicated at this time. Maybe in the future but perhaps not at the moment.

BERMAN: So that's interesting. You think, in a way, the Trump team is putting out feelers to figure out how the Supreme Court looks at this larger issue to figure out where, maybe going forward, they can get in.

CHERKASKY: Absolutely. I think that we would be short-sighted to think that the issue of privilege is a done deal, just because the DOJ says so in their brief. They say that he has no claim of privilege in these documents. That's their position.

I think Trump's side, maybe inartfully at this point, has put forth the idea that, as the former executive, there is a bigger question about how this all could have played out. And perhaps that ultimately doesn't side on Trump's -- in Trump's favor.

But I think that it's something the Supreme Court has to weigh in on. This is somebody that was the executive authority over these documents. He only had them in his possession because of that role. Now many people say it's over and done with now if he can't retain them.

But that is, to me, the big question for the Supreme Court. However, I think they might have to wait until there may be an actual criminal indictment before they move forward with intervening.

BERMAN: Interesting. Getting a sense, maybe, of the temperature of the court overall. Katy Cherkasky, thank you so much.

CHERKASKY: Thank you.

BERMAN: After more than 20 years, he's a free man. He was already a free man. But now prosecutors in Baltimore say they are dropping charges against Adnan Syed.

KEILAR: Plus, the suspect in the disappearance of 3-year-old Madeleine McCann is facing new charges. And we'll have more details on that case, ahead.



KEILAR: He gave drugs to Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, leading to his overdose death in 2019. And now a former Angels staffer has learned his punishment. Let's get more from CNN's Ed Lavandera.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Brianna, the former communications director for the Los Angeles Angels baseball team, Eric Kay, has been sentenced to 22 years in federal prison.

This comes after he was recently convicted for providing the drugs, including fentanyl, which led to the overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

Now, Eric Kay faced anywhere between 20 years in prison to life in prison, but the judge settled on 22 years, in part because of jailhouse recordings, telephone conversations that were captured between Eric Kay and his mother.

And in those recordings, Eric Kay is heard to be saying, quote, "I hope people realize what a piece of 'S' Tyler Skaggs was. He's dead, so 'F' him." And he also went on to call the Skaggs family "dumb" and "white trash."

Because of these recordings that were rather extensive, the judge said that it shows that Eric Kay shows a total lack of remorse for his involvement and his role in the death of Tyler Skaggs. And because of that, he added two years to the 20-year minimum -- John and Brianna.

BERMAN: The language in those recordings. Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.

In Baltimore, prosecutors have now dropped all charges against Adnan Syed after they say DNA evidence supported his innocence. Syed was a subject of the hit podcast, "Serial." His murder conviction stemmed from the 1999 killing of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

Athena Jones has the very latest here -- Athena.


This case captured the imaginations of hundreds of millions of people after it was featured in that "Serial" podcast back in 2014. Now, after losing 23 years of his life serving time for a crime he didn't commit, Adnan Syed is a free man.


JONES (voice-over): He spent more than 20 years behind bars for the 1999 killing of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. But on Tuesday, the state's attorney for Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby, announced the case against Adnan Syed was over.


JONES (voice-over): And all charges against Syed have been dropped. His attorney described the feeling.