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U.S. Announces Another $1 Billion Aid to Ukraine; Two Americans Missing, Feared Captured in Ukraine; Police: Suspect Admits to Killing Missing Men in Amazon; U.S. Fed Raises Interest Rates By 3/4 of a Percentage Point. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired June 16, 2022 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to all of you watching us from all around the world, live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN Newsroom.
Just ahead, more arms against Russia. The U.S. promises another billion dollars in military aid to Ukraine, as other NATO allies also pledged support.
It's day three of the January 6 hearings on Capitol Hill. New video released by the committee shows a Trump supporter getting a tour of the Capitol from a congressman the day before the insurrection.
Scorching heat all over the planet where and when it will show up. We'll look at that, coming up.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN Newsroom with Kim Brunhuber.
BRUNHUBER: In about 90 minutes, NATO defense ministers will start arriving for the next strategy session over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Authorities there have been pleading with the West to send more high powered heavy weapons so the Ukrainian military can maintain a fighting chance against Russia and Western powers are answering the call on Wednesday, the NATO Secretary General said the alliance will help Ukrainian troops transition from Soviet era weapons to more modern munitions.
And the U.S. is also offering Ukraine additional military aid. President Joe Biden has announced another billion dollars in security assistance. The announcement comes as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met in Brussels with his Ukrainian counterpart. The new aid package means the U.S. has committed $6.3 billion to Ukraine since Joe Biden took office. It includes 18 howitzers and 35,000 rounds of ammunition, tactical vehicles, two Harpoon coastal defense systems, 1000s of secure radios and night vision devices.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked U.S. President Biden for his unwavering support. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The United States announced new strengthening of our defense a new $1 billion support package is Coastal Defense Artillery and modern rocket systems. We will be waiting I am grateful for this support. It is especially important for our defense in Donbass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Two Americans fighting alongside Ukrainian troops are missing and feared captured by Russian forces. The men are both from Alabama and were last seen nearly a week ago north of Kharkiv. The Ukrainian commander says they went missing during a battle. A Russian propaganda channel on telegram didn't name them but claims that two Americans were captured in the region.
Meanwhile, fighting is raging in eastern Ukraine's Donbass Region. The residents in one Donetsk town report three missile strikes in the same day killing at least one person. The Russian Defense Ministry released video of what it says shows a Black Sea warship launching caliber missiles at military targets. Moscow claims it destroyed a warehouse in western Ukraine filled with weapons provided by NATO. The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says Ukrainian forces are outnumbered and outgunned by the Russians in the Donbass Region, but the Moscow's troops won't inevitably control eastern Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARK MILLEY, U.S. JOINT CHIEF CHAIRMAN: For Ukraine, this is an existential threat. They're fighting for the very life of their country, as long as they have leadership and they have the means by which to fight ammunition, artillery tubes, et cetera then I think Ukraine will continue to fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: All right, let's go live now to Kyiv and CNN's Salma Abdelaziz. And Salma, what are we expecting to come out of that NATO ministers meeting in Brussels?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: So yesterday was the big announcement really came, of course, this $1 billion pledged in security assistance from the United States. That's going to be great news for Ukrainian fighters on the front line who are right now struggling against a much more superior Russian military.
President Zelenskyy was quick to thank President Biden for his unwavering support. Ukrainian officials have in recent days, been concerned that the determination of their allies, their stand alongside Ukraine was softening. So this goes a long way in showing that they continue to support Ukraine's fight against Moscow's troops. And it comes at a time of course, where Ukraine is desperate on the front line, particularly in the city of Severodonetsk, but again, this appears to be a long war. This is not something that's going to end overnight, President Putin's ambitions appear much greater than just the Donbass Region. So Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was very quick to point out that this is a continuing partnership, one that me see more assistance arrived in the future. Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Since the contact group first came together nearly three months ago, we built tremendous momentum for donations and delivery of military assistance. And after this afternoon's discussions, we're not just going to maintain that momentum, we're going to move even faster and push even harder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABDELAZIZ: Now, what's included in this package is what was really a wish list for Ukrainian troops, for the Ukrainian government. Secretary of Defense Floyd Austin said he sat down with his counterparts, his Ukrainian counterparts and went line by line with what they need. Some of those -- some of this package will include artillery, they've said they're catastrophically low on artillery on the front line, multiple launch rocket systems. That's something President Zelenskyy has been asking for, particularly because Russia does have those and is using them on the front line, long range missiles and long range artillery to help hit back at those Russian positions.
And again, this is an artillery war. This is more than anything a ground war. So that's going to be extremely important in providing that support and assistance. But there's also that concern about the time lag, Kim. Of course, there's a gap between when the United States says it's going to provide weapons and when those weapons actually show up on the battlefield.
Secretary of Defense Floyd Austin was quick to say that the speed at which this weaponry is provided, and I'm paraphrasing here, but is unmatched in modern times that these weapons will be out the door in a matter of days, that people already, Ukrainian forces are already being trained to use them. When asked if it was a foregone conclusion that a city like Severodonetsk was going to fall, he refused to accept that inevitability. So we'll wait and see if this actually makes a change on the battlefield. But again, we have to wait for that time like for training, for getting these weapons on the ground.
In the meanwhile, it seems every day Russia making that inch by inch advance in that all important Donbass Region. Kim?
BRUNHUBER: Yeah, timing is key, as you say there. Salma Abdelaziz in the Kyiv. Thank you so much.
And joining me now also from Kyiv former Ukrainian Defense Minister, Andriy Zagorodnyuk, thank you so much for being here with us, sir. Senior U.S. defense official says the latest assistance package will arrive in time to like, quote here, "make a significant difference on the battlefield." Is that right? And if so, what difference concretely will it make do you think?
ANDRIY ZAGORODNYUK, FORMER UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: Well, the key technologies, which are currently required is no jewelry and multiple rocket launchers, and, obviously, ammunition for them. So Russians are using long range firepower in order to destroy our positions. And the only way we can respond in these cases is to do the same with the technologically better equipment, because we cannot match them by numbers. Because they bring everything Russia has. So they are applying very serious efforts. And in some cases, they outgunned us like one to 10. So the only way we can counter that is to be more efficient, more effective and have better technologies. And those are technologies, which we're asking our Western allies to provide.
And yesterday there was this large meeting in in Brussels, were quite a lot of countries in here, announced that they're providing various types of technologies, and many of them were talking about artillery munition, and some were providing this rocket launchers. So it's happening. It seems like but obviously, pace is quite slow. But we understand its logistics. But at the same time, we have extremely tense situation at home.
BRUNHUBER: Yeah, I mean, the pace is the key thing here. A defense official told us that some of these new capabilities will take a little bit of time to get operational. But I mean, that's precisely what Ukraine doesn't have a lot of right now with Russia advancing is time.
ZAGORODNYUK: Absolutely, absolutely. So any sort of acceleration of logistics, anything when so countries decide quicker and quicker, it's extremely helps. And also, we will clearly see that we can use that. We understand that Ukrainian army very good with those technologies. So it's time already to put together an action plan, where we actually see the end game, because Russia is at its maximum right now. They cannot accelerate with conventional weapons more and in west can. And that's what -- that's why we need to finally, you know, be on the same page with our allies that we actually are going to go to counter offensive. We're going to start pushing Russians out. But yes, we need this -- yeah?
BRUNHUBER: The major stumbling blocks, if I could, for the pipeline of this military assistance is that when it gets in country sometimes Russia succeeding in hitting those depot's the U.S. now says it's looking for ways to stop Russians from targeting that assistance but what concretely can they do here to stop that from happening?
ZAGORODNYUK: Well, unfortunately, yes, that's what they're trying to do. They're trying to intercept the logistics. You know, incidentally, it's very similar what Hitler did in a Second World War when they tried to stop this convoys from -- through Atlantic. So they try exactly the same things, the air attacks, missile attacks on the rail on depots and all those things. We can diversify, we can set up more, we can hide better, we can shoot quicker, and so on. But even now, though, they do succeed in some cases, it's not like they have overall success. So absolute majority, vast majority of the equipment gets to the battlefield. So it's not like they're very successful with this.
More importantly, is that it's just some supplies are just slow. And we need to -- we need to increase the speed. We need to shorten the time of arrival.
BRUNHUBER: Now, I wanted to ask you about this before we go with the news that two Americans are missing, and feared captured who were fighting in Ukraine. If that ends up being true, they wouldn't be the only foreign fighters captured, of course by Russian troops. You heard of that, that showed trial involving two British citizens and a Moroccan national had been sentenced to death. What do you make of the way foreign fighters have been treated by Russia? I mean, some suggested may represent in itself a war crime.
ZAGORODNYUK: Oh, absolutely. What they do -- Russians, what they do is they try to portray them as mercenaries. And that they are not competent. They're outside of Geneva convention. And, they trying to, sort of to play this political game by trying to sort of almost exchange them back to their home countries by first by announcing some horrible crimes they did or whatever else.
Obviously, this is not the case. They were all official competence. They were all part of the armed forces of Ukraine. They had all necessary paperwork. They were like, as a part of our official capabilities. Ukraine does not use mercenaries. And all international community knows that. So these are clearly political games basically, it was Russia trying to play so far.
BRUNHUBER: We have to leave it there. But really appreciate your insights. Former Ukrainian Defense Minister, Andriy Zagorodnyuk in Kyiv.
ZAGORODNYUK: Thank you.
BRUNHUBER: Well, two important developments in a mysterious disappearance in Brazil, authority say a suspect has confessed to killing a British journalist and a Brazilian expert on the country's indigenous peoples. Human remains have been found, and more arrests are expected. CNN Shasta Darlington has more from Sao Paulo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A breakthrough in the disappearance of the British journalist and indigenous expert who were last seen a week and a half ago in a remote region of the Amazon. On Wednesday night, Brazilian authorities announced that a suspect being held in relation to the case had admitted to killing Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira. The suspect was identified as Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, local fishermen.
Police said he confessed on Tuesday night and the following day he took them to the area where the men were allegedly murdered. There they found human remains which are being sent to Brasilia for analysis. The two men vanished during a trip and the Javari Valley in the far western part of Amazonas state on June 5. The protected region is home to several indigenous communities including uncontacted tribes. But in recent years, illegal activity has flourished with land invasions from illegal loggers, fisherman poachers, as well as drug traffickers.
Phillips and Pereira were on a trip to do research for a book about conservation efforts and challenges. Both men had recently received death threats. While indigenous groups immediately sent out search parties on the day they went missing, authorities have come under fire for what critics called a slow and inefficient response to their disappearance.
Activists and indigenous groups have staged protests across Brazil and around the world to denounce that official response and also the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro which they say has turned a blind eye to criminality in the region. During his administration deforestation has surged while the agencies tasked with monitoring the rainforest had been defunded. Now, on Wednesday during an interview on YouTube Bolsonaro accused Phillips and Pereira of being reckless.
For many in Brazil, Wednesday's announcement by federal police a tragic ending to two men's efforts to document reality in the Amazon. Shasta Darlington CNN, Sao Paulo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Yellowstone National Park is closed and some parts of the tourist attraction may not reopen this year. Later, we'll look at why scientists say climate change is to blame. But first stock surge on Wall Street after the Fed signals it's committed to getting inflation under control. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: And that was the closing bell on Wall Street, wrapping up a rally that sold all three major indices end the day in positive territory, and among them the Dow which closed up more than 300 points after several turbulent trading sessions. On Wednesday, stocks climbed following a dramatic rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve. That optimistic outlook continuing at the hour with U.S. futures all up and the rate hikes sparking, that rally is the largest in nearly 30 years as the Fed takes aggressive action to try and tame inflation.
The increase three quarters of a percentage point, the move is meant to slow the economy but will lead to higher costs for Americans on things like mortgages and car loans. Fed Chair Jerome Powell says it was the May inflation report that led to the need for a more dramatic rate hike. And while he can't completely rule it out, Powell doesn't expect increases down the road to be as high areas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: We anticipate that ongoing rate increases will be appropriate. The pace of those changes will continue to depend on the incoming data and the evolving outlook for the economy. Clearly today's 75 basis point increase is an unusually large one and I do not expect moves of this size to be common.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: U.S. monetary policy moves can send shockwaves through global stocks. Selina Wang joins us from Beijing with more. So Selina, the financial world was watching and waiting to see what the Fed would do. You've been monitoring the reaction from the markets. Let's start here in the U.S.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kim, we saw the markets expecting this move so it was priced in but the rally we saw on Wall Street just reflected the relief that the Fed is sticking to its word that it is taking inflation seriously. And the message really is that Americans they are hurting from rising prices at the gas pump, at the grocery store. But the cure to that problem, well, it's going to hurt too. The Fed hiked up interest rates benchmark rates by 75 basis points the most aggressive hike since 1994. That impacts millions of Americans and businesses. It increases borrowing for homes, cars and other loans.
And that is the very point is to cool down the economy to rein in spending to reduce demand for goods and services, which then will help bring down prices. But that optimism from investors also paired by fears that this could increase the risk of a recession in the United States that as you get this economic cooldown that that is going to hurt job prospects. But the message from the Fed is that if they did not do this aggressive hike, well, the alternative would be worse because you have prices increasing but jobs in wages, they are not keeping up, wages not keeping up, so basically that would mean American homes struggling even more to make ends meet even if right now the labor market is strong. Kim?
BRUNHUBER: All right, so then let's flip to the Asian markets and how did they take the news?
WANG: What we are seeing rally across most Asian markets following the news in the U.S., following the market rally in the U.S. let's take a picture at the live markets right now. As you can see, the -- just waiting up for the live pictures there. We are seeing the Nikkei up 0.7%. We got the Hang Seng down. So it's a bit of a mixed picture. The Shanghai Composite just slightly up. In the China markets right now, pretty muted responses comes on the back of that May economic data which showed that while industrial production increased slightly well. Consumer sentiment is still being severely suppressed, retail sales down for three consecutive months falling nearly 7%.
And another critical dark picture from China's economic numbers was youth unemployment. This is for people aged 16 to 24. Well, that reached a record high. So at the same time, you've got the looming risk of recession in the United States. Well, in China, analysts are still predicting there could be a contraction. The second quarter, some economists are calling this the most challenging period for China's economy in the past 30 years. Kim?
BRUNHUBER: All right. Thanks so much Selina Wang, I really appreciate it.
And joining me now is Ryan Patel, a Senior Fellow at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. Thanks so much for being here with us. So to build on what we heard there from Selina, our reporter, this rate hike it probably won't be the last, can they put the brakes on without leading to a recession, which is what Larry Summers told CNN is likely a recession within the next two years?
RYAN PATEL, SENIOR FELLOW, DRUCKER SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT: When the Federal Chair, Jerome Powell, says they're not trying to put the U.S. into recession, Kim, it makes you think twice, right, to going, wait a minute, are we heading that way, and because of the aggressive 75 basis points of today, what I really want to talk about and focus, it's just not about today, they're about to meet next month, in July, he pretty much stated it almost, I don't say guarantee, but a 50 basis point increase is going to happen. And so in two months, you know, this is aggressive actions, because the lack of decisiveness in the past, and they're getting pushed, Kim, they're getting pushed to address this. So it's -- there isn't that fine balance right now that they have. They weren't, you know, they moved it last quarter, but they weren't as aggressive. And now they are playing catch up.
BRUNHUBER: Yeah, and they admitted that they should have acted sooner. So they want to put the brakes on here to stop inflation. But there's also the problem of inflation expectations, right? People thinking, you know, inflation is going to last, so we better buy now, which is fueling even more inflation?
PATEL: Yeah, if you look at the personal consumption expenditures, which the Fed looks like, from April, right? Show prices from year over year 6.3% and it's not going down, it doesn't look like it's going to go down, right? And that fear continues to buy into, even though we see that unemployment has been relatively low, but that's starting to change a little bit as prices and costs start to increase. You know, we talked, you know, you talked the last segment around supply chain was, which is obviously at the middle of this equation, which we're not really talking about just yet, because you're trying to get the basis and foundation set.
BRUNHUBER: So we have the Biden administration, you know, trying to downplay this, maybe saying that they are addressing it, but trying to say, look over here, you know, we have these jobs numbers, they're really good, high numbers of jobs created, low unemployment, but are we seeing any signs that that might shift with some companies now maybe starting to scale back?
PATEL: Yeah. And you know, Kim, I've had a lot of conversations and boardrooms. And with executives, this is worrisome, right? We're starting to see some tech companies not be able to make it because the markets have continued to go down, right? Valuations cut, and what do you think they're going to do? Unfortunately, they're -- we're starting to see companies start to make cuts on GM -- on overhead, because revenues are dropping, and they can't continue to do this. And once that starts going, the labor market is going to be very interesting, because right now, obviously, it's an employee favored leverage with the market with employment being low. Well, does the shift, go back to the employer and decrease the wages and that will obviously right set -- right side some of the economic pressures and profit but then all of a sudden, there's a big, big, big shift from what we're seeing three months ago on the low unemployment to now going forward was that look like?
BRUNHUBER: And obviously the problem here is a global one, we're seeing it as bad or worse in many countries. For instance, the French Finance Minister said I think yesterday the Eurozone is in the middle of an inflation peak. So when you look at Europe, take us through the fears that higher interest rates might lead to another Eurozone crisis?
PATEL: Yeah and because of the different countries in Europe, they're all going to attack it very differently from, you know, we've seen the U.K. kind of attack inflation earlier, but obviously, because of what -- you know, I hate to say but when you look at what the U.S. is trying to do, in Europe, many of these countries may not have all those tools to be able to fight that inflation rate, and they'll have a harder impact when your economy isn't the number one, number two in the world. And also when things start to become more expensive, in Europe, it's going to -- the consumer is going to face it a lot faster because we're seeing it, the prices are going to be passed down to consumer much quicker, because there is no end there's this demand, and there's no supply to it.
BRUNHUBER: All right, well, grim news but thanks so much for walking us through it all, Ryan Patel really appreciate your insights, sir.
PATEL: Thank you, Kim.
BRUNHUBER: Cryptocurrency markets have certainly seen better days. Some of the world's top digital currencies have plummeted in value since the weekend prompting investors to try and withdraw as much as they can. Bitcoin lost a quarter of its value since Friday and now sits at over $22,000 but that's down from a record high last year of $68,000. Leaders in the crypto community say they aren't worried about the fluctuations for now. They say it's normal to see extreme highs and lows.
All right, head of Thursday's hearing on the January 6 investigation newly released video shows Trump supporters descending on the Capitol, have a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no escape Pelosi, Schumer. We're coming to take you out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Well, the man speaking in that video as part of a tour of the Capitol complex the day before and appear to be taking pictures of security, hallways and staircases, we have those details just ahead. Plus, CNN's Fred Pleitgen, runs Russian's foreign ministry spokesperson on the invasion of Ukraine. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The big question is, take back and strengthen other countries territories is that not a violation of international law?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Was there a legal basis to invade Iraq?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not talking about Iraq. You are invading a sovereign country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN Newsroom.
Russia's former president is drawing criticism for post on the social media platforms telegraph Dmitry Medvedev questioned Ukrainian deal to buy liquefied natural gas suggesting Ukraine may not even exist in two years' time. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russians certainly show no signs of changing course in what they called their special military operation, the invasion of Ukraine. In fact, the country's former president, Dmitry Medvedev, on his social media account, openly questioned whether Ukraine would even be on the world's map two years from now.
When I asked the spokeswoman for Russia's foreign minister about Russia's conduct, it changed to somewhat a testy exchange.
The president of the Russian federation on Thursday said, and he likened the special military operation by Russia, the invasion of Ukraine to the things that Peter the Great did in the Great Northern War and said that Russia was, in his estimation, taking back territory that was rightfully Russia's and strengthening it. Is that not an admission of a severe breach of international law?
MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESWOMAN: when will you start using the same tone of voice when you question your own authorities? Why do you use that tone of voice when you question us? Take a look at 2014, we had a referendum.
PLEITGEN: The big question is, take back and strengthen other countries' territories, is that not a violation of international law?
ZAKHAROVA: Was there a legal basis to invade Iraq?
PLEITGEN: I'm not talking about Iraq now. You are invading a sovereign country. That was the question.
ZAKHAROVA: You mentioned our invasion and occupation of territories. What territories are you talking about?
PLEITGEN: Well, for instance, the entire region around the Azov Sea, the invasion trying towards -- going towards Kyiv, where the Russian army was beaten back --
PLEITGEN: -- large parts of the Luhansk and the Donetsk which were under the of the Ukrainian military. And then you have the region around Kherson.
ZAKHAROVA: So are you talking about Donetsk and Luhansk? Maybe you have more information than I have. I don't have this information about Kyiv. The territories of Donetsk and Luhansk are acknowledged as sovereign states. There are referendums as I said reflecting the will of the people.
PLEITGEN: If the Russian president says what is going on in Ukraine is taking back land that is intrinsically Russian land and strengthening that land, can you please explain to me what does that mean, where does it end, and is that not a violation of international law?
ZAKHAROVA: You say I don't answer your question. You just don't like the way to I answer it. I am answering it. Perhaps it clashes with your vision.
America said they are exceptional, and we said that this concept is wrong. But I can tell you that the U.S. troops are now in Syria. Nobody asked them to come.
PLEITGEN: Meanwhile, the Russians continue to insist that they're making headway on the battlefield. And they also say that they are not going to stop with what they called a special military operation until all of their objectives are met.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- St. Petersburg, Russia.
BRUNHUBER: Russian President Vladimir Putin is getting some major support from his Chinese counterpart. Let's bring in CNN's Beijing bureau chief Steven Jiang with details.
Steven, Putin a call with President Xi and Putin kind of hoped for more from that call, right.
STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Kim, as if we need more reminder that it's just wishful thinking that Xi Jinping may change his mind about China's close ties with Russia and about Putin himself.
Now, the Chinese in the Chinese readout, they really reiterated China's position on Ukraine, stressing China's so called independent assessment on the situation based on the historical context and then merits of the issue.
But the Kremlin statement is less subtle about it saying Xi Jinping quote-unquote "noted the legitimacy of Russia's actions to protect its fundamental national interests in the face of western threats".
So, the Chinese position really has been consistent, still refusing to call this war a Russian invasion, despite some tweaking on the front of their domestic propaganda. It's really clear where they stand and who they're siding with.
And the reason for that is also quite clear from these latest readouts. Both leaders obviously sharing the sentiment that the U.S. and its allies are increasingly ganging up on both countries strategically and economically.
That's why Xi Jinping stressed the need to further strengthen their communication and coordination, and supporting each other on their respective core interests. Now the Chinese specifically mentioned Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, all of them of course, having (ph) issues China is facing increasing pressure from the West.
And interestingly just a few days ago Xi Jinping signed a directive that some experts say that could provide Beijing with a legal framework to invade Taiwan without calling it a war. And that's of course exactly is Putin's playbook in Ukraine.
And also, of course, for Russia's part, they really need China now to lessen the impact of severe western sanctions, especially finding new export markets for its energy resources.
So it's really not lost on people that this marked the second time the leaders talked since the war began while Xi Jinping so far still has not talk to Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian leader.
JIANG: And it's also, of course, worth noting this call took place on Xi Jinping's birthday. He turned 69 on Wednesday. This was actually the two leaders' fourth time -- fourth call on Xi Jinping's birthday.
So their bromance really goes back a long way and so is this relationship between the two countries. Of course both leaders have termed that as a no limits relationship, Kim.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, obviously it has huge implications.
Thanks so much for your reporting there, Steven Jiang in Beijing.
The January 6 Capitol riot hearings resume on Thursday after a one day delay. This will be the third of seven planned hearings by the select committee. On Wednesday, it released new video of a Republican congressman giving a tour of the complex the day before the riot. At least one of those people showed up the next day and made comments threatening Democratic lawmakers.
We have the latest from CNN's Ryan Nobles. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no escape Pelosi, Schumer.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: New video released by the January 6 Select Committee showing a man outside the Capitol directing threats at Democratic members of congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pelosi, Nadler, Schumer, even you AOC. We're coming to take you out. We'll pull you out by your hairs.
NOBLES: That same man, seen the day before on a tour of the Capitol complex with Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk, snapping pictures the committee believes are suspicious.
Chairman Bennie Thompson writing to Loudermilk, quote, "Individuals on the tour photographed and recorded areas of the complex not typically of interest to tourists including hallways, staircases, and security checkpoints.
The committee re-upping its concern after Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said earlier this week, "We do not consider any of the activities we observed as suspicious."
Loudermilk has refused to meet with the committee, claiming their inquiry has led to death threats against his family.
REP. BARRY LOUDERMILK (R-GA): The committee has never called me and asked me anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They said they --
LOUDERMILK: To who?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret giving that tour now?
LOUDERMILK: Look, I condemn that type of activity.
NOBLES: The committee continues to push ahead to their hearing.
ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: I said to him, are you out or you're f-ing mind?
NOBLES: Out with this deposition from Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, warning John Eastman, the day after January 6, to drop efforts to try to overturn the 2020 vote. A Trump ally had also tried to convince then vice president Mike Pence to stand in the way of certifying the election results.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): President Trump had no factual basis for what he was doing. And he had been told it was illegal. Despite this, President Trump plotted with a lawyer named John Eastman and others.
NOBLES: A plot Herschmann believe may have put Eastman in legal jeopardy.
I said, "Good John. Now I'm going to give you the best free legal advice you're ever getting in your life. Get a great f-ing criminal defense lawyer, you're going to need it."
NOBLES: And Thursday's hearing comes at a time where the committee is still deliberating how to handle all this evidence that they've collected as it relates to Donald Trump efforts to overturn the election results and we're told that a majority of the members of the committee believe that Trump committed a crime.
The question is how did they convince the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute those alleged crimes. Some members of the committee believe a formal referral to the Department of Justice is necessary but there are others that believe that could create too much political pressure on Merrick Garland.
It's a question that the committee is still wrestling with as this investigation continues.
Ryan Nobles, CNN -- on Capitol Hill.
BRUNHUBER: And CNN coverage of Thursday's hearing will begin at noon eastern time, 5:00 p.m. in London. And the focus is expected to be the White House's pressure campaign on then vice president Mike Pence to block the 2020 election certification.
Now the committee says two of Pence's former advisers are scheduled to testify.
The White House is defending President Biden's upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia where he's expected to engage with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, despite the president calling Saudi Arabia a pariah for killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. The White House now says the U.S. has many important interests in the region that need to be discussed.
The fact that the Crown Prince is also the Saudi defense minister means he's likely to be present at some of those meetings. The administration's spokesman explained it this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: We want to recalibrate the relationship with Saudi, but we don't want to rupture it. And we have to remember that Saudi Arabia is a key strategic partner in a vital, vital region of the world, in which we have significant national security interests of our own. Counterterrorism, the war in Yemen, climate change, and of course, you know, oil production in today's environment.
KIRBY: Even as a candidate, obviously he took the murder of Jamal Khashoggi very seriously. And when he became president, he carried that thought process into the Oval Office with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: With Biden's trip a month away, a group founded by Jamal Khashoggi is sending Saudi Arabia a blunt reminder about the murdered journalist.
They joined human rights groups in unveiling Jamal Khashoggi Way right across from the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. The district's council voted in December to rename part of the street for Khashoggi. The Gulf director of Khashoggi's group Democracy for the Arab World Now told onlookers that the street sign should remind passersby, to Saudi royals, to Americans, to all humans of conscience that Jamal's legacy will live on.
Homes destroyed, bridges and roads washed out, devastating flooding has hit Yellowstone National Park.
Coming up, we'll look at how global warming is threatening this national treasure. Plus, extreme heat is gripping parts of the U.S. and Europe with record-breaking temperatures before summer even begins. We'll have more on that after the break.
Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Parts of the United States are being gripped with an unseasonable heat wave with blistering temperatures across the southeast and Midwest. Nearly 120 million people are under heat warnings and advisories on Wednesday and more than a dozen cities set record highs.
Western Europe is also sweltering under scorching temperatures and the brutal highs are coming even before summer officially begins. Spain is experiencing its earliest heat wave in more than 40 years. And France is bracing for the extreme heat set to begin Thursday and last through the weekend. The central part of the country could see temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius.
Let's bring in the CNN meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri. Pedram, amazing how much of the world is suffering under this unseasonable heat.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. You know, it's well above average. In some cases, Kim, it's running 15 or so degrees above Celsius above average. So it's very dangerous the way this heat is set up, and you'll notice nearly the entirety of Spain underneath heat alerts and you've got to get into the higher elevations or very near the coastal communities to avoid the excessive nature of the heat.
And partly cloudy conditions on Thursday, temps will be right around 40 degrees yet again in Madrid. But you'll notice showers trying to work their way across the stretch and there's a disturbance on approach that we think will eventually bring with it cooler temperatures. But that heat is expanding a little farther towards the north. So if
you're tuned-in in Paris, if you're tuned-in in London, the excessive heat potentially approaching all-time June values here are going to be observed over the next several days. And then you'll notice the color contours go back to the green some of the shades of even blue pushing in. And that is indicative of cooler air trying to come back in.
But even for our friends across France here, notice the southern tier, but especially the southern tier of the nation underneath this extreme and excessive heat alerts where we do expect temps to climb up to about 38 to 39 degrees come Saturday afternoon.
JAVAHERI: Parts of town certainly could get to that 39 threshold. Either way, you compare it to Tehran, and you'll see where we stand here when it comes to the forecast in a place such as Paris come Saturday afternoon.
Now, across the United States, at least 66 million Americans under these excessive heat alerts, spanning across parts of 18 states and massive dome of high pressure, very similar setup when it comes to the expansive nature of this heat. And you'll notice it does want to push a little further back towards the central United States and up towards even southern Canada over the next several days. And that does bring us an eventual shot of cooler air for those northern states.
But really important to note. We had severe weather here earlier in the week. Still some 300,000 customers, you assume about three to four people per customer, that's over a million people potentially that are still without power dealing with these temperatures there close to 40 degrees Celsius.
Look at Atlanta, climb up to about 36 degrees the next couple of days, with humidity will feel closer to 40. The weekend cools off just a little bit, but Kim, would you believe at this time next week it could actually be hotter than what it is in Atlanta right now.
So the heat wave certainly far from over. And much the same across Chicago as well where a brief break this weekend, and then back up above these temperatures next week.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, I saw an alert saying they were investigating some heat related deaths, underlying the seriousness of this for many, many people.
Pedram Javaheri, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
And scientists are blaming climate change for serious flooding at Yellowstone National Park. Homes, bridges, and roads have been washed away and parts of the park may be closed for the entire season. CNN's Nick Watt reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is insane. NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was a home for park employees
obliterated by the Yellowstone River as was the one and only road in from the north entrance. The oldest national park on earth is now closed.
CAMERON SHOLLY, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK: I've heard this news, a thousand year event, whatever that means these days, they seem to be happening having more and more frequently.
WATT: This is climate change, an unusually late heavy snowfall then unusually high temperatures melting that snow plus a lot of rain, combining to cut off this gem of the American west.
More than two million acres, a thousand miles of trails, 500 geysers, bears, birds -- as much as three months worth of water barreled down this valley in three days, breaking record high river levels set over 100 years ago.
Overwhelming infrastructure built for what was normal last century, not for the extreme and unpredictable that is becoming normal in this.
For the benefit and enjoyment of the people, says the grand old gate, not right now. This northern entrance likely will not open again this summer because that one road in will take months to fix.
KAN HUESING, YELLOWSTONE GATEWAY INN: There is nobody here. There is one hotel that is actually shutting down, told all its employees to go home.
WATT: You were booked?
HUESING: We were booked.
WATT: And now you have one person who --
HUESING: We were booked solid for a year. We were booked for a year.
WATT: Gardner, gateway to the park, now a ghost town. Probably will be for months.
BILL BERG, PARK COUNTY, MONTANA COMMISSIONER: It is a Yellowstone town, and it lives and dies by tourism.
WATT: There should be more than 10,000 people in the park on a summer's day. Today, just a few hikers left in the backcountry. And all this might not be over. There is still 12 inches of snow pack up there and high temperatures are forecast for the weekend.
More snow might melt and the Yellowstone River might rise again.
Now last year in a report the U.S. Geological Survey basically said that this was going to happen. That around here there was going to be more precipitation and quicker snow melt. And they also said that that is going to continue for the years to come.
Now, the south of Yellowstone Park could open next week. The northern gate is going to be months.
Nick Watt, CNN -- Gardner, Montana.
BRUNHUBER: And for more on this joining us now from Los Angeles is geologist Jess Phoenix. She's also executive director and co-founder of the non-profit environmental group Blueprint Earth.
Thanks so much for being here with us.
And it's incredible looking at those pictures, what's happening there at Yellowstone. Just take us through the reasons behind what we're seeing here.
JESS PHOENIX, GEOLOGIST: Unfortunately, Kim, I wish we were talking about something that was a little more uplifting. But we're basically seeing the consequences of climate change, of human activity that has heated the planet to the point where we have things like atmospheric rivers, which bring tropical air, warmer air further north than it would be normally which then, of course, instead of snowfall we see rain.
PHOENIX: And of course, added precipitation means more snow melt and more water runoff. So it's essentially the consequences of our own actions. And they are showing up in very dramatic and tragic ways.
BRUNHUBER: We're just playing the pictures over what you're saying there, and seeing all these things, houses swept into rivers and roads and bridges washed away. You know, shocking, but as we heard from our reporter Nick there, it's something that scientists have been predicting for that area for sometime now.
PHOENIX: Yes, it's a landscape that has been seriously impacted by big climatic events in the past and geologic processes as well. Usually when I'm talk about Yellowstone, I talk about the fact that it's a volcano. But what we don't always talk about is those beautiful mountain views that are on the screen right now.
The rivers in the area have carved down through that solid rock over millennia. And that evidence that flooding happens is right there if you know how to read the landscape, and you understand the changing climate. So we're not surprised as scientists, we're just sad.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, absolutely, and looking at the bigger picture here, you know, we're seeing flooding there, extreme weather, storms, extreme heat, like we're getting here now in the U.S. We're seeing record demand for air conditioning, which of course contributes to climate change.
With the demands on the power grid increasing, so many experts are saying the grid itself needs to be redesigned to integrate renewable energy. But some governments and utility companies they still don't want to even acknowledge the problem. So what more can we do -- what more can be done concretely to mitigate
some of the effects there, without causing more problems?
PHOENIX: Well, obviously, at the local level, people have only a certain reach. We are responsible as individuals for 40 percent of our carbon footprint. The other 60 percent comes from the world we live in, the society that we built.
So, as far as, you know, turning lights off and trying not to run your air conditioning unless you really have to on really hot days -- those are basic things that local utilities will recommend.
But as a broader scale kind of activity that you and your family and your friends can do, vote for people who take climate change seriously. You need policy, you need concrete action. We need corporations and government working together to solve this because it can be solved but we're running out of time to do it.
BRUNHUBER: So broadening this out even more, it's obviously a worldwide problem as we see in Europe and elsewhere. And some governments are staring to sound the alarm that it's an existential threat.
For example, this week at the Asian Security Summit, Fiji's minister for defense, he wasn't mincing words, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INIA BATIKOTO SERUIRATU, FIJI DEFENSE MINISTER: The single greatest threat to our very existence is climate change. And our hopes and dreams of prosperity -- sorry it threatens our very hopes and dreams of prosperity. Human induced devastating climate change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: He was saying that even in the context of the war in Ukraine and the increased belligerence of China in the region, he was saying climate change is a bigger threat to the Pacific than military tensions.
PHOENIX; It is. He is 100 percent correct. And that actually is the case for all of us humans. Because we can rebuild after wars, we can deal with single disasters.
But what we can't do is reckon with a threat multiplier, like climate change, which will exacerbate illness and famine and catastrophes like fires, floods, volcanic eruptions, wars.
So, if we want to have a future, as the human species as we know it today, we have to take this seriously. This has to be our number one global priority. And I say that as somebody who cares very deeply about, not just the environment, but also the people who -- this is our home, this is our planet. We only get one shot, so we've got to make it count.
BRUNHUBER: Yes, so much is at stake, as you underlined there. Jess Phoenix, thanks so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
PHOENIX: Thanks, Kim.
BRUNHUBER: And we'll be right back. Stay with us.
BRUNHUBER: Well, it's the and of an era online. After nearly 27 years Microsoft's Internet Explorer is no more.
Remember those days? Once the most popular web browser in the world, Explorer's been on a steady climb (ph) for nearly two decades. Its debut in 1995 changed the way people got information online.
Here's a CNN report not long after its launch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's next to impossible to find anything on the worldwide web without a browser. That's why Microsoft is focusing on its Internet Explorer to regain lost ground from Netscape. Microsoft's Explorer version 3 comes with bells, whistles, and a fat carrot. Users get free content from top Web sites, including the "Wall Street Journal" interactive edition and "Hollywood Online".
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNHUBER: At its peak in 2002, Internet Explorer commanded 95 percent of the browser market, incredible. In the first four months of 2022 it counted for less than 2 percent of Internet traffic. But fear not, Explorer has been replaced by Microsoft Edge.
There you go.
Going to wrap this hour of the CNN Newsroom. I'm Kim Brunhuber.
Paula Newton will be back at the top of the hour with more news. Please do stay with us.