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Canadian Fires Pour Smoke Into U.S.; Pope To Have Intestinal Surgery; Second Grand Jury Hears Testimony In Trump Investigation; Pence Officially Launches Campaign. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired June 07, 2023 - 09:00   ET



SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Smoke from the devastating wildfires in Canada impacting millions here in the United States. Schools are closed and outdoor events are being canceled as the smoke creates the world's worst air pollution in New York City.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are standing by for an update from the Vatican as Pope Francis is undergoing abdominal surgery, stomach surgery, at this very moment. What we are learning about the 86-year- old's procedure.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: For the first time in modern history, a former vice president is running against his former boss. CNN is on the trail in Iowa as Mike Pence makes it official.


SIDNER: You are now looking at a live picture of New York City. Yes, it's really smoky. More than 30 million people are under air quality alerts this morning as smoke from wildfires in Canada is pouring to the south, shrouding U.S. cities across the northeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest. New York City Public Schools have canceled outdoor activities today because of the air quality. At one point yesterday the city topped the list of the world's worst air pollution. And you can see in these pictures, New Yorkers could barely make out the city's iconic skyline.

I took some of this video yesterday. This is from midtown Manhattan. And there is some video also coming in from the upper west side. Hard to see those buildings there in the background.

Now, in Canada's capital city of Ottawa, an orange haze took over the skyline for weeks now. Firefighters in Canada have been battling wildfires in Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia.

Take a look at this satellite image from NASA. It shows smoke from the wildfires moving south. Quebec is the biggest hot spot at the moment with more than 150 active wildfires burning. All of it is expected to keep U.S. cities blanketed with smoke into tomorrow.

CNN's Athena Jones is joining us from here in New York.

What are the conditions now? I can see a little bit of haze still out there behind you.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Sara. That's exactly right. You can look out across the Hudson, you can see off in the distance that's Jersey City, New Jersey. You can see another sightseeing boat taking off.

We've seen a lot of people trying to go about their daily lives, running. Some of them wearing masks. Some of them not wearing masks. But certainly the hazy conditions, the smoky conditions continue.

This is all about health and safety. This is why we're seeing officials here in New York City and officials and agencies up and down the northeast, all the way down to Raleigh, North Carolina, I should say, telling people to be cautious, to limit their time outdoors.

This looks a bit better than it did at least to my eye last night. It looked last night like there was a cloud that had descended straight on the city. But if you look at the numbers, they're still at very unhealthy levels when it comes to the air quality index. And these are pollutants that are among the tiniest and most dangerous pollutants.

It's called PM 2.5, particulate matter. And that means it's so tiny that when you inhale this stuff it can go deep into your lungs and get - and pass into the bloodstream and cause all sorts of health problems, like asthma, respiratory issues, heart disease and it can make any other -- anyone who's suffering from that sort of thing, the symptoms much, much worse. And so that is why we're seeing schools here in the city and upstate in central New York, ten school districts canceling outdoor activity.

We know that Mayor Adams - Mayor Eric Adams here in New York is about to hold a press conference next hour to give us an update on what to expect. But we know that of course you don't want to be at the top of the list of most polluted cities in the world. And that's why New York has been over the last couple days.


SIDNER: Yes, you hear a lot of people talking about that, Athena. And I noticed you're wearing a mask. And everyone thinks of Covid when they see the mask, but this is what you do in places like California, where I live, to try and keep yourself safe from huge amounts of smoke.

I appreciate your reporting today.

Let's go ahead and go to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam, who is joining us now.

Derek, how long is this expected to go on?


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Sara, this is definitely one of those days as an asthmatic you don't want to step out the door without your asthma pump because it could literally save your life. And to answer your question, I think we've got at least another day

where we're going to have this brown hazy smoke in the sky. Now, you may have enjoyed maybe the beautiful sunrises and sunsets as this cloud is in the upper levels of the atmosphere, too, and it blocks out the sun, it filters out the short wavelengths and leaves us that red hue, but it's when it settles to the ground that it becomes an issue. And Athena has been appropriately reporting on that because obviously this has major health implications for people like myself who is an asthmatic.

Just take a look at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It's not only New York City, it's also Philadelphia, it's also Baltimore and our nation's capital. The big apple, though, jostling with what was the notoriously most polluted city in the world. Delhi, India, one time, of course, topping the list of the most polluted cities in the entire planet. Just incredible.

Now, you have to look to the satellite imagery to see what's going on. And quite literally last night we saw a wall of smoke progressing across Lake Ontario from the wildfires in Quebec. And that is what we will see in the hours and days to come because, look, the fires aren't going anywhere. They're going to be burning for several more days if not weeks. And that smoke, all dependent on the wind direction, is going to filter it into some of the most populated areas, all registers unhealthy to hazardous levels of particulate matter that Athena was talking about.

Here is the smoke forecast. You can see kind of another large area, a plume of smoke will be filtering in through the rest of the workweek, and that is why we have so many million Americans under this air quality alert currently impacting not only the quality of the air, but also the visibility that you and I see as we step outside.

So, if you're an asthmatic, don't forget your inhaler, right, Sara.

SIDNER: Really good advice. I live in the top two cities that have some of the worst air quality right now. New Delhi for four years.


SIDNER: And I can tell you, I can actually feel the same feeling that I got there after some time, headaches and a little congestion.


SIDNER: So, it's important that even when you're quite healthy as not asthmatic that you take this very seriously.

VAN DAM: Correct.

SIDNER: Derek Van Dam, thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: We are standing by for an update from the Vatican right now. Announced oversight is that Pope Francis is back in a hospital in Rome and he's undergoing abdominal surgery. Vatican officials say the pope, who is 86 years old, has been placed under general anesthesia to fix a hernia. And he's expected to remain hospitalized for several days for recovery afterward.

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he joins us now for more on this.

Sanjay, so the word from the Vatican is that the hernia surgery is intended to fix what they describe as, quote, recurrent, painful and worsening symptoms. What can you tell us about this surgery?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is almost assuredly related to an operation that he had back for his colon back in 2021. When you do that sort of operation, you're opening up the abdominal wall, you're doing the operation that needs to be done on the colon, and then you try to repair the abdominal wall as well. Sometimes that repair of the abdominal wall becomes loose. So, your abdominal wall actually starts to splay open a bit.

And as a result, you know, you may notice sort of just pooching, which is not problematic, it's just cosmetic. But ultimately if that opening is larger and larger, you can start to actually get bowel, you know, the rest of the colon, small intestine, whatever, sort of pooching through there. And that - that's what's quite painful. And that is what is called an abdominal hernia.

And I just want to tell you, Kate, a lot of people hear the term hernia and they immediately think of a hernia that's located in the groin area. This is different. This is really probably due to the incision that he had back for that original operation and sort of the opening of the - of the skin and the muscle around that operation. That's what - that's what the hernia is in this case.

Most of the times it does require a surgical repair, as you can see there. So, this is not that surprising, but that's likely what he's undergoing now.

BOLDUAN: And it can be very painful. I mean I've had family members who have had to undergo this procedure and it does -- right up to the point of when they do go and get surgery, there is a lot of pain that can be associated with it.

What are the risks here with this surgery, you know, when you take into account the age of the pope? Should people be concerned?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think when you look at these types of operations, really the biggest risk involves the anesthesia of this. Even more so than the operation itself. Because really in many ways you're focusing on the muscles, the skin, you may put in mesh to try and create a solid sort of closure there.

But he's 86 years old. I've got to tell you, I've operated on patients even this week that are older than that. So, you know, you can have patients that go through these types of operations and come out just fine. But those are the -- probably the biggest risks.

[09:10:02] You know, we know, obviously, about the pope's health. And most of his health history has been recent. He had this - he's had - he had a fever in May, as you may remember, and there was some concern at that point just over the infection. He's had lung surgery when he was very young and then he had this colon surgery back in 2021. But there's not a lot of other, you know, cardiovascular sort of health concerns that we know about with regard to the pope. Obviously, they're going to try and do this as quickly as possible so he's under anesthesia as little time as possible.

But, yes, I - you've got to take this seriously given his age, given the anesthesia and I'm sure that's what they're doing right now. I mean I think this operation's currently undergoing.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Great to see you as always, Sanjay. Thank you.


BERMAN: So new details in the classified documents probe into former President Trump and, frankly, a flurry of new activity that raises questions about just how close to a charging decision things might be. Testimony before a grand jury in Florida right now.

CNN has learned that Special Counsel Jack Smith is using this second grand jury there, the first as we know was in Washington, D.C. Moments ago Taylor Budowich, who has worked as a spokesperson for Donald Trump, arrived at the federal courthouse in Miami. There he is.

Now, all of this, all of this activity, the meeting with Trump lawyers and the Justice Department, this grand jury in Florida, the testimony we're learning about from Mark Meadows, all of it points to the investigation into the potential mishandling of classified materials appearing to be nearing its final stages.

CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz outside the court in Miami.

Why don't you bring us up to speed, Katelyn.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, John, Taylor Budowich and his attorney, Stanley Woodward, they did arrive about a half an hour ago here to the federal courthouse in downtown Miami. They wouldn't answer any questions about why they were here or why they believed they were here in Miami rather than in Washington, D.C., where we saw for months grand jury activity.

But our reporting team has been able to confirm that they are here today because of the special counsel's investigation and because of that special counsel looking into the handling of documents at Mar-a- Lago. Obviously, Mar-a-Lago is just down the road in Palm Beach, in the same federal district that Miami is in. And so there are a lot of questions why this grand jury activity is now in Miami, why it's not continuing in Washington, D.C. But we do know that this isn't the first time that a witness has been called in to testify to a grand jury here. That there have been other witnesses in this special counsel investigation into the handling of documents and Donald Trump that have been appearing in this courthouse as well.

BERMAN: So, Katelyn, Taylor Budowich, a spokesperson frankly on the political side of things for Donald Trump. Why might this be happening? I think there have been a lot of speculation that the Florida grand jury might hear from Mar-a-Lago employees, you know, maintenance-type people, but this is a political guy. What does that tell us?

POLANTZ: Well, Taylor Budowich is a figure who has been beside Donald Trump and very close to him and his political operation since he left the White House. He's very close to Donald Trump's current campaign manager. He's also one of the crucial -- or the crucial person running a super PAC for Donald Trump that supports Donald Trump at this time as he's running for president.

But, actually, Taylor Budowich, he was serving as a spokesperson for Donald Trump for some time after he left the White House and crucially was there at a moment where Donald Trump has sent back 15 boxes to the National Archives that contained records marked as classified inside those boxes. The Archives found them. That kicked off this criminal investigation.

And right after that happened, Donald Trump wanted to release a statement saying he had turned over everything to The Archives. A number of people around Trump pushed back on him releasing that statement. And Taylor Budowich specifically told the former president that you need to consult with your attorneys before you say it, and that is not exactly what was said in a public statement.


BERMAN: All right, Katelyn Polantz, outside the federal courthouse in Miami. Katelyn, I have to say, keep us posted. Who knows what else we might see over the next few hours. Thank you very much.

With me now is CNN's senior legal analyst Elie Honig, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

OK, Elie, Taylor Budowich -


BERMAN: This spokesperson and political figure testifying right now and testifying in Florida. It all points to --

HONIG: We are near the end is what it all points to, John. And I say that for a few reasons. First of all, if we look at the overall pacing of this investigation, Jack Smith took over as special counsel about seven and a half months ago. There was an initial flurry of subpoenas, testimony. That's what you would expect. And then as the witnesses have come in one by one we've seen it sort of slow to a trickle now. Second of all, we now know that Mark Meadows has testified. We don't

know when, but we know that he testified.


BERMAN: This is former President Donald Trump's former chief of staff.

HONIG: Exactly.

BERMAN: Key figure in both January 6th and also the Mar-a-Lago classified documents.

HONIG: Yes. And we now know that he testified about both of those things based on our new reporting from Evan Perez. Mark Meadows was the last big obvious witness left who we didn't know whether he had testified. Now we know that he did.

And finally to me the biggest tell of all was the meeting that happened earlier this week between Donald Trump's legal team and DOJ personnel, including the special counsel, Jack Smith. I was a prosecutor. Those meetings are very common. You have them at the very end of the process.

BERMAN: OK, the venues here. The fact that there is a grand jury in Florida, which we're only learning about now.


BERMAN: It's been impaneled for some time but we're only learning about it now. What might that tell us?

HONIG: So, it could be a couple of very different things. It could be just a convenience measure. It could be that there's some witnesses who are in Florida, don't want to or can't come up to D.C. What you can do as a prosecutor then is take their testimony in Florida and then take the transcript of it and read it or hand it to the grand jury in D.C. to save time, to save travel.

Or it could mean that prosecutors are considering charging some or all of this case in the federal southern district of Florida as opposed to or maybe even in addition to in Washington, D.C. And that decision, where to charge this case, is crucial when you think about what the potential jury pool is going to look like for Donald Trump in Florida versus in Washington, D.C.

BERMAN: Florida was a state he won in the election. What percent of vote did Donald Trump get in Washington, D.C.?

HONIG: Exactly 5.4 percent of the vote went to Trump. And I can do the math. That means 94.6 of D.C. residents voted against him.

BERMAN: And in terms of where you press charges, if you do press charges, what does it matter about where the alleged crime occurred?

HONIG: So, this is a concept called venue. And what it means is, when prosecutors charge a case federally, you have to charge it in a federal district where at least some part of the crime occurred. Now sometimes, as potentially here, that's multiple districts. You're supposed to pick the district where the most conduct occurred, but sometimes you don't for various reasons, including potential strategic reasons.

Two important things, you have to prove that you've charged it in the right place. If you go to trial and the jury finds nothing related to that crime happened here, they have to find not guilty. The other thing is, before trial the defendant can make a motion to move to a different venue. So, hypothetically, if this case gets charged in Washington, D.C., Donald Trump may well go right to court and say, move this to Florida.

BERMAN: One last question on Mark Meadows, who you brought up, the former president's former chief of staff.


BERMAN: Again, people remember that he was central to the January 6th investigation and the congressional investigation into that. He had a lot of text messages there. He was chief of staff on that day.

But also connected to the Mar-a-Lago documents probe because it was people helping him write his autobiography -


BERMAN: That have Trump on tape talking about knowledge, according to CNN's reporting, of possession of classified documents that he maybe shouldn't have had.


BERMAN: Why is his testimony important? And just reiterate if you can the idea that in this investigation, probably both, there's no one as important, other than Donald Trump perhaps, than Mark Meadows.

HONIG: Mark Meadows is everywhere in this case. Like you laid out, he's in the middle of January 6th, but also really important on Mar-a- Lago. He was the chief of staff in the closing days of the Trump presidency. He was the liaison, or one of the liaisons, between the White House and the National Archives. He's, in a sense, responsible for the packing up and the move. So, I would want to ask him, did you know these documents were being sent to Mar-a-Lago? Did you talk about it with Trump? Did he know they were classified? Did he declassify? I would have a lot of questions for Mark Meadows that go right to the heart of this question.

BERMAN: And, again, an open question we just don't know the answer to is if he struck some kind of deal for his testimony. Obviously we are digging there.

Elie Honig, a lot of open questions. Big day. Thank you.

HONIG: Indeed. Thanks, John.


BOLDUAN: Under -- coming up for us, water rescues underway after the collapse of a major dam in Ukraine. This as U.S. officials are reporting that they are seeing signs of increased fighting over the last 48 hours. Has the long-awaited counteroffensive begun?

And tough questions for Prince Harry when he testified for a second day in his courtroom battle with a British tabloid publisher. He says his phone was hacked.

We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: We have news now to report involving our own network. News to us here at CNN and you at home. CNN's chairman and CEO, Chris Licht, is leaving the network. Licht took over the network a little over a year ago. David Zaslav, the chairman of CNN's parent company, Warner Brothers Discovery, he just made the announcement at the network editorial meeting. For now a leadership team will take Licht's place, led by Amy Entelis, who's the executive vice president of talent and content development, along with Virginia Moseley, the EVP of editorial, Eric Sherling, our programming EVP, and David Leavy, our new chief operating officer.


SIDNER: Thank you, Kate.

On our radar this morning Prince Harry testifying right now in his second and final day in a privacy case against a British tabloid publisher. He accuses Mirror Group Newspapers of publishing at least 33 articles with information obtained by hacking his phone or other illegal means. The publishers' lawyers finished their cross- examination of him picking apart those articles this morning and now his attorney is asking some final questions on redirect.

Now to some stunning video out of India where a bridge under construction collapsed in the Ganges River making a huge splash there. This is the second time the bridge has crumbled in just over a year. Indian officials have ordered an investigation but they still haven't said publicly what caused the first collapse. CNN has not confirmed reports of any injuries there.


BOLDUAN: As of this morning, former Vice President Mike Pence is officially running. Pence, who also happens to be celebrating his 64th birthday today, launched his presidential bid with a campaign video focused conservative politics, faith and also hitting at President Biden and his policies.


He joins what is now a rapidly changing and expanding republican field.

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Iowa this morning where Mike Pence will be taking part in a CNN town hall later this evening. Jeff Zeleny is also joining us from Washington.

Kyung, first to you.

Donald Trump is the clear front-runner right now of course. What's the case Mike Pence will need to be trying to make?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what his campaign is saying is that they say that the case for Mike Pence is that it is too early, the race is still wide open. They believe that there are persuadable Republicans who want a conservative leader and that they believe that Mike Pence will be able to sell that message here in Iowa. And that persuasion begins today.

They do acknowledge that Pence, yes, is well-known to Republicans, that he is 100 percent name ID. What they may not remember, though, is that he has decades of leadership as a governor of Indiana, as a conservative leader in Congress. And they say that in that launch video you heard those messages kind of harkening back to those conservative ideals, especially of a former president, that of Ronald Reagan. But you may also notice he did not say Donald Trump's name.

Take a listen.


MIKE PENCE (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're better than this. We can turn this country around. But different times call for different leadership. Today our party and our country need a leader that will appeal, as Lincoln said, to the better angels of our nature.


LAH: And it will be a difficult dance, but a dance that his campaign believes that he can navigate in those living rooms, in the diners, where it really comes down to handshakes. That retail politics here in Iowa. One to one with the voters where Pence can sell his message, sell his message of faith, of conservatism. He believes that it is here in Iowa that those are the Republicans he can reach who are persuadable.

The question, though, Kate, is, are there enough of them? The campaign estimates there's 75 percent to 80 percent that they might be able to wiggle. It's just unclear if that math will stand.


BOLDUAN: Great questions, Kyung.

So, Jeff, you have, you know, one of the big questions for all of them, of course, is, how do they take on the frontrunner? How do they take on Donald Trump? Mike Pence, as we've seen, he's much more subtle in how he has separated himself from the president up to this point. We'll see what it looks like from here. Chris Christie, now another candidate, very different approach, going much more directly at Donald Trump. Is it clear that, though, either of these approaches is welcome in today's Republican Party?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, we're going to see which approach is actually the most effective, if either of them are. You know, and this really is a book end of approaches here. As Kyung was just talking about, the former vice president is going to be making his - you know, essentially calling on his biography and talking about his conservative record. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is doing anything but. He's going directly at former President Donald Trump. He said that is what the Republican Party needs to do. So sort of a hammer and glove approach, if you will.

But take a listen to Christie last night in New Hampshire. Made clear that he is going for the jugular of Donald Trump.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A lonely, self- consumed, self-serving mirror hog is not a leader.

The reason I'm going after Trump is twofold. One, he deserves it. And, two, it's the way to win.


ZELENY: So the question is, if Chris Christie is the right messenger for that. Yes, some people in the Republican Party, and certainly others, independents and likely Democrats agree with his assessment there, but is he the right messenger to make the case that Donald Trump, as he says, is a mirror hog. Obviously, that is not likely to sort of dissuade any Trump supporters.

So, we are going to see a variety of approaches here as the summer months continue of how they go after the former president. But one thing is clear, Kate, as the field continues to grow, Trump is still the chief beneficiary of all of these alternatives because it simply splits up the vote. So that is also what worries some Republican leaders, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It's great to see you both this morning on this, what is a very important day as this -- with this ever expanding Republican field. Thanks, guys.

And Chris Christie, he will be joining CNN's Jake Tapper live on "THE LEAD" today at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. You won't want to miss that. And also then tonight Dana Bash will moderate a CNN Republican presidential town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. A lot to see right here on CNN. That town hall begins tonight at 9:00 Eastern.


BERMAN: So flooding from the dam collapse in Ukraine sends thousands fleeing from their homes. [09:30:00]

How this might impact Ukraine's counteroffensive.

And this could be the largest work stoppage in U.S. history. Why hundreds of thousands