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Virginia Shooting; Pope Francis Hospitalized; Smoke Chokes Skies; Doug Burgum and Mike Pence Enter Presidential Race. Aired 1- 1:30p ET

Aired June 07, 2023 - 13:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Taking on his old boss. Former Vice President Mike Pence says he is running for the White House, but, so far, he hasn't said a thing about the front-runner, Donald Trump. So, will all that change right now?

He's about to deliver his first speech as a 2024 candidate, and we're following the latest.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Pope Francis in the hospital getting abdominal surgery in Rome is just the latest concern for the 86-year-old's fragile health. Warnings at the Vatican could face something of a constitutional crisis if he's incapacitated.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And smoke choking the skies, creating a major risk on the ground. Wildfires in Canada have people across the Northeastern U.S. being told to stay inside for their health.

We are following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SANCHEZ: Jumping in the race and taking on his old boss. In just a few minutes, former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to address a crowd in Iowa only hours after he officially launched his bid for the White House in this campaign video.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


SANCHEZ: Pence joins a Republican field that's getting crammed with candidates. And his entry sets up a rare battle of former President Donald Trump head to head with his V.P.

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Iowa for us waiting for Pence to speak.

So, Kyung, as we await the former vice president, he has his work cut out for him. He's far behind in polling behind Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis. So, how is he going to differentiate himself?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're going to see some of that when the former vice president takes the stage. We're expecting them to speak in just about 20 to 30 minutes or so.

And then he is going to deliver a message that will lean in on who he is, heavy on his biography, his upbringing in Indiana, his ascension to the governorship, as well as his conservative credentials while he was in Congress.

And so what they're going to see, the people here in this crowd, is basically an outline of what he plans to address here in Iowa. But what you're going to hear the details of is him going into each one of those living rooms, trying to get into cafes, shake people's hands. Will all of this work?

Well, we wandered the crowd talking to some people, and they say -- the people who have already shook his hand and spent the time to get to know Pence the person, they believe that this Midwest connection could work. But, of course, Boris, there are people here who say that they are loyal to Trump and that they can't be moved.

So, again, as you point out, he has his work cut out for him. That begins all today when he takes the stage shortly.

SANCHEZ: Yes, plenty to look out for in about 20 or so minutes.

A hushed Kyung Lah reporting from Iowa, being respectful, obviously, as they are invoking a prayer there.

And, Jim, Pence not the only person announcing a run for the White House today.

SCIUTTO: No, this field is getting bigger by the day.

Also kicking off his presidential campaign, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. The former Microsoft executive made it official today in his home state. Have a look.


GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To unlock the best of America, we need a leader who's clearly focused on three things, economy, energy, and national security.



SCIUTTO: Burgum enters the race with far less name recognition than other GOP hopefuls, but he does have a conservative track record that could appeal to Republican primary voters.

Earlier this year he signed a law banning nearly all abortions in his state one of the strictest bans in the country. He also signed a bill that bans gender-affirming care for most minors. CNN's Eva McKend, she's live in Fargo, North Dakota.

And, Eva, I wonder, how else did Burgum try to make his case in his announcement today?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Jim, he really spent the speech extolling the values of small-town life.

He grew up in a tiny town of Arthur just about 40 minutes away from here in Fargo. And he suggested that it is that upbringing that his prepared him for the White House. But you get a sense that he's not eager to fight these cultural battles. You talked about transgender rights and abortion before, legislation that he passed in that vein, but that wasn't the focus of this.


He says the economy is the number one issue. Take a listen.


BURGUM: The economy needs to be the absolute top priority. Every small business owner and every family in our country is feeling the corrosive hidden tax on their lives driven by the Biden-induced inflation.

It shouldn't be a surprise that small-town values have guided me my entire life. Small-town values are at the core of America. And, frankly, big cities could use more ideas and more values from small towns right now.


MCKEND: And, Jim, something else we didn't hear is about the former president or any of Burgum's other Republican rivals. He seems uninterested in sort of battling it out with them and more interested on playing off his biography and introducing himself to voters throughout the country -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, there's what he says in his announcement. There's also his legislative track record, all to be considered by voters as they go to the polls.

Eva McKend in Fargo, North Dakota, thanks so much -- Brianna.

KEILAR: More than 55 million people are under air quality alerts right now, smoke from these ongoing Canadian wildfires blanketing major U.S. cities.

These are all live pictures of the haze that is being seen across the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic. At one point yesterday, New York City topped the list for the world's worst air pollution. Today, New Yorkers can barely make out the city skyline. Just check this out. Philadelphia just issued a code red air quality warning, urging all residents to stay indoors.

Even here in Washington, we are feeling the hazy effects.

Let's get to CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray on this story.

It is something to look outside. It's really inescapable. How long are we expecting this to go on?


You're right. And this could be something we deal with off and on throughout the remainder of the summer. You have to think about it. Canada's still early in their fire season. And it has just exploded. So while some days might be better than others, this could be a problem we're talking about long term.

We're looking at current visibility in New York City. It's been less than a mile at some points today. We could actually see ground stops for some of the big airports today because of the thick smoke. It is just coming in from Canada, just blanketing all of the Northeast, New England, all the way down to the mid-Atlantic, even down to the Carolinas getting in on the smoke.

This is a live look at New York City, and you can see barely making out the buildings in the distance. So, if you're living there, you're definitely dealing with some poor air quality. And this involves a lot of areas up and down the I-95 Corridor, even up into Upstate New York, of course, closer to the fires, where we're dealing with very unhealthy air quality.

So people that are specially sensitive, have respiratory problems, things like that, should definitely stay indoors, because it's incredibly unhealthy air quality. Look at that, Toronto and New York City topping the top five lists for the worst air quality in the world.

So this is definitely significant. And what's causing all of this is basically this weather pattern that we're just stuck it. We have an area of high pressure off to the northwest, and it's channeling these winds out of the north and just bringing the smoke in day after day.

And so until this big weather pattern decides to shift and we get a change in wind direction, the smoke is going to stick around. And so, unfortunately, with this weather pattern we're stuck in, as I mentioned, while some days might be better than others, we are going to be dealing with this long term.

And it's not just going to be for the Northwest and Northeast. We're looking at places in the Ohio Valley. The Midwest has had huge problems with the smoke as well. So, the short-term forecast looks like this. You can see today we're in the worst of it across portions of the Northeast. We might get a little bit of a break, but it is going to be pushing farther into Washington, D.C., as we get into tomorrow morning.

And then another wave of it comes a little bit farther to the West, so giving some of the big cities in the Northeast or break, Brianna, but as I mentioned, making places a little bit farther to the West worse. So, it's just going to be back and forth, I think, for the long term, the foreseeable future, really.

KEILAR: Wow. Yes, West Virginia and Virginia there we see on that map.

GRAY: Yes.

KEILAR: Thank you so much for taking us through that. We do appreciate it, Jennifer -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Another big headline we're following today, a day of celebration turning into murder and chaos outside a theater in Virginia, where hundreds of high school seniors had just graduated.

Police say a gunman opened fire across the street from where the ceremony took place. We're learning one of the graduates and his stepfather were killed, and five others were wounded by gunfire. And this, a 9-year-old girl was struck by a car while trying to escape the mayhem. Police have arrested in charged a 19-year-old man.


CNN's Brian Todd is live for us in Richmond with an update on this investigation.

So, Brian, what can you tell us about the suspect and any potential motive that investigators might have in mind?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, we did learn about a potential motive a short time ago from the police chief. I will get to that in just one second.

But the suspect and the victims have been named. That's the newer information that we have right now, that suspect named as 19-year-old Amari Pollard, the two deceased victims named as Shawn Jackson, 18 years old, and Lorenzo Smith, 36 years old. Police say Lorenzo Smith was Shawn Jackson's stepfather.

And as to the motive and whether these -- the victim and the suspect were known to each other, this is what the police chief, Rick Edwards, had to say about that a short time ago.


RICK EDWARDS, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, POLICE CHIEF: We believe that the two individuals, Shawn Jackson and Amari Pollard, knew each other. This is a mass shooting, but we don't believe it was what is typically referred to as an active shooter. This was targeted at one individual.

This was a dispute that we're hearing took place over the course of over a year.


TODD: So, a dispute lasting about a year. And I will take you through kind of what police took us through regarding the scene here and what happened. They say that Amari Pollard actually attended a graduation ceremony,

might have been the same one that Shawn Jackson was taking part, in this theater, the Altria Theater. Then everybody comes out of the theater to this park, Monroe Park. And police say that there were hundreds of people in this park at the time of the shooting.

At that point, they say that the shooting took place right around here in this corner. We will walk you over here because they have got a memorial to the victims here. Some people have laid flowers down here. We did see from amateur video two people on the ground being tended to by first responders, right at about these spots right here, right there on the gray stones here and on the red brick right there.

Also, police say that the suspect, Amari Pollard, fled on foot and didn't get far. This is the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. The police say that it's the security officers from Virginia Commonwealth University that actually confronted the suspect and arrested him.

So he fled on foot, probably going this way. VCU security people confronted him. He surrendered peacefully. That's how they apprehended him -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Well, just a tragic story on what was supposed to be a day of celebration.

Brian Todd from Richmond, Virginia, thank you -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Thanks so much.

Well, a pair of members from Trump's inner circle appear before a federal grand jury, all of this part of the special counsel's ongoing investigation into the former president. Ahead, what this could mean as the probe appears to be nearing its final stages.

Plus, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy says the collapse of a critical dam has left hundreds of thousands without drinking water. Just look at those scenes, mass evacuations, rescues as well under way in the wake of the breach. We're going to take you there live.

Also, Pope Francis back in the hospital. He underwent abdominal surgery. And we just received an update from the Vatican on his condition. We will share it with you.

Stay with us and CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



SCIUTTO: Breaking news. We're going to bring you net live now to Ankeny, Iowa, where the former Vice President Mike Pence is set to announce his campaign for the Republican nomination for president.

You can see him there entering the arena just behind those Mike Pence signs, along with his wife. This has been expected for some time. Let's listen in.


KAREN PENCE, FORMER SECOND LADY: Wow! Thank you for that warm Iowa welcome.


K. PENCE: Usually, when you have the honor of introducing somebody, you want to tell the audience something maybe they don't know about the speaker.

But, today, you probably know that he served 12 years in the United States Congress. You know that he was governor of Indiana. And, of course, you know he was your vice president.


K. PENCE: You may also know that we have three amazing kids who are all married to three wonderful spouses, and we have three beautiful granddaughters. We are truly, truly blessed.

Our kids have traveled this journey with us. They moved to serve as we moved. They supported us. And so this moment is one that I, as their mom and their mother-in-law, want to share with them.

So Michael, Sarah, Charlotte, Henry, Audrey and Dan -- I get emotional when I think of them -- thank you for always being there for us.


K. PENCE: We have great kids. We really, really do.

But to maybe give you some new insight into who Mike Pence is, I wanted to share a story with you and let you know why Mike Pence is announcing today.

In 1988 and 1990, we ran for Congress and lost. And it was a good thing that we lost.


I see some friends nodding. Jay (ph), I see you out there.

But we were very arrogant. And we were very full of ourselves. We thought Mike and Karen Pence are God's gift to Washington, D.C. And we were humbled. And it was a good thing that we were humbled. And so we actually gave up on the dream of representing Indiana in the United States Congress.

But, in 1999, that same congressional seat became open.

SCIUTTO: We have been listening here to Karen Pence, wife of the former Vice President Mike Pence, as he prepares to officially announce his run for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. We're going to continue listening in and come back as soon as we hear

the former vice president go to the podium. Let me toss over now to Brianna.

Stay with us for a moment.

A former spokesman for Donald Trump testified for just under an hour this morning before a federal grand jury in Miami. CNN has learned that special counsel Jack Smith is using a second grand jury there in Florida, in addition to the one convened here in Washington, D.C.

Taylor Budowich now runs a super PAC backing Trump. He declined to answer reporter questions today. Smith's investigation into the potential mishandling of classified materials at Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence and possible obstruction appears to be nearing the final stages.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz, she's outside the court in Miami.

Katelyn, good to have you here. This is news, not one, but two active grand juries, it appears. What do we know about events there in Miami?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, there's still a lot of questions about what we're seeing here in Miami, some grand jury activity that brought the former spokesperson, now super PAC leader Taylor Budowich into the federal court today with his attorney.

He did testify for just under an hour in this sealed proceeding, secret confidential proceeding in this investigation, but it is part of that documents investigation being led by the special counsel out of Washington, that question of whether Donald Trump should be criminally charged with possible mishandling of classified records, retention of classified records, or obstruction of justice, all of the things that the special counsel's office is looking at

Budowich himself, he is central to what Donald Trump was saying once he left the presidency, including about documents in his possession. There was a moment in early 2020 when Budowich was among the people that talk to Trump out of or cast some doubt on Trump's willingness or wish to put out a public statement saying that he had turned over everything in his possession to the National Archives.

Of course, Jim at that time, he had not, but we don't know much else at this time about exactly what went on in the jury room. We do know though, that Taylor Budowich has described it publicly on social media.

He said today, after his testimony concluded today: "In what can only be described as a bogus and deeply troubling effort to use the power of the government to get Trump, I fulfilled a legal obligation to testify in front of a federal grand jury. And I answered every question honestly."

But there are still many questions that remain for us reporting this story exactly what Taylor Budowich was asked about, why this grand jury is active right now in Miami...


POLANTZ: ... and not Washington, D.C., where we saw activity for many, many months.

And then, of course, Jim, how close is this investigation to a charging decision related to the former president?

SCIUTTO: Does the existence of two grand juries, one in Washington and one in Florida, give any indication as to the status of the investigation? I know there are multiple interpretations.

Could be that the special counsel might be charging two different jurisdictions or moving the case from one jurisdiction to another or completing in one and starting in another? Does it give us any indication on timing?

POLANTZ: I don't know if it gives us any particular indication on time.

We're really in our uncharted territory here with this special counsel investigation. Typically, we have seen special counsels in recent years active in Washington, D.C., maybe bring another case in another jurisdiction. But we have not seen anything like this.

SCIUTTO: Katelyn, hold that thought, if you can.

Thanks so much to Katelyn Polantz in Miami.

We're going to go back to Ankeny, Iowa, where the former vice president is at now at the podium, as you see there, expected to announce his run for the 2024 presidential nomination.

M. PENCE: Secretary Paul Pate, Congressman Greg Pence, Speaker Todd Huston, my fellow Hoosiers...



M. PENCE: ... my friends in Iowa...


M. PENCE: ... my fellow Americans, it is great to be back in the Hawkeye State.


M. PENCE: You know, Indiana will always be home for us.

And I get why people make big announcements back home, in their hometown, at their resort, even on Twitter.

(LAUGHTER) M. PENCE: But we wanted to be here in person in Iowa.

We are here because we know that Iowa was the right place to start our engines for the great American comeback.


M. PENCE: We just wanted you to know, men and women of Iowa. We know the next Republican nominee for president and the next president of the United States will get their start right here in the Hawkeye State.


M. PENCE: So, we thank you all for being here. We're truly grateful, all of you that have come from near and far.

I stand before you today deeply humbled, as a son of the heartland, the grandson of an Irish immigrant. My dad was a combat veteran in the Korean War, my mom a first-generation Irish American, 91 years young and looking on from home today.

Hi, mom.


M. PENCE: Our family lived the American dream. I married the girl of my dreams.

Now you understand a little bit more about how special she is, elementary school teacher, artist, a pilot, and the best second lady the United States of America has ever had.

Would you join me in thanking my amazing wife, Karen Pence?


M. PENCE: As Karen just told you, together, we raised three incredible kids, who married three amazing spouses. And just in the past two years, we became grandparents three times over to the three most beautiful little granddaughters ever born in the history of the world.

Our son is a captain in the United States Marine Corps.


M. PENCE: Our daughter Charlotte is a bestselling author and married to a lieutenant in the United States Navy that just finished Top Gun.


M. PENCE: And our daughter Audrey is a Yale law graduate now practicing law.

Let me just say, as Karen did, we love you guys. And we miss you today.

I actually started in politics in another party. You may not know that. But I got to tell you, as soon as I heard the voice of the 40th president of the United States, I joined the Reagan Revolution and never looked back.


M. PENCE: I came to faith in Jesus Christ as a man in college, and I started a lifelong love affair with the Constitution of the United States.

For all of my adult life, as my brother just said, the introduction I have preferred is pretty short. I'm a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order. And it has been my honor to serve you, the people of this state and nation.


M. PENCE: Now, most Americans know me from my last assignment in the White House. What you may not know is, I was also a congressman from Indiana for 12 years.

I was a leader for House conservatives. We fought for life and liberty. I battled against big spenders in both political parties during those years, and most of them remember us. I was a governor in Indiana, where we cut taxes, as you heard from Speaker Huston. We achieved record employment. We expanded educational choice, stood for the right to life and the freedom of religion.

And, as your vice president, I was proud to stand by President Donald Trump every single day, when we made America great again.