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NATO Aiding Ukraine, Bolstering Defenses Along Eastern Flank; Leaders Of France, Germany, Italy Visit Kyiv To Mend Fences; U.S. Military Volunteers Missing In Ukraine; U.S. Stocks Tumble Following Fed Interest Rate Hike; Inflation Soared To 73.5 Percent In May, Its Highest In 20 Plus Years; Possible Bodies Of Missing Pair Expert To Undergo DNA Tests; Yellowstone River Flooding Leaves Wreckage Behind; January 6th Hearings; FIFA Selects 16 Host Cities in U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired June 17, 2022 - 01:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. Live from Hong Kong, I'm Anna Coren and this is CNN Newsroom.

Coming up, another American that missing in Ukraine, bringing the total to three. What U.S. officials are doing to track down the lost fighters? Plus, pressure campaign. The January 6 committee details how Donald Trump tried to convince his vice president to overturn the 2020 election. And celebrations around the globe, the 16 lucky cities that will host the 2026 World Cup.

A day after the U.S. announced it's giving Ukraine $1 billion in weapons and security assistance, the White House National Security Adviser says he thinks the war will have to end through diplomacy, and that the U.S. has been talking with Ukraine about what a settlement could look like. Well Jake Sullivan stress that Ukraine must ultimately chart its own destiny. But the U.S. is focused on strengthening Ukraine's hand as much as possible on the battlefield and then ultimately at the negotiating table.

Well, meanwhile, NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels are pushing ahead with plans to bolster defenses in Eastern Europe and send Ukraine more weapons. The head of NATO says the alliance is supporting an independent state and is not seeking a confrontation.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: This will mean more NATO forward deployed combat formations to strengthen our battle groups in the eastern part of alliance, more air, sea and cyber defenses, as well as pre-positioned equipment and weapon stockpiles. This is not a provocation. It is President Putin and Moscow that is responsible for this brutal aggression against the independent country.


COREN: Well, meanwhile, there's a growing push to fast track Ukraine's efforts to join the European Union.


KLAUS IOHANNIS, ROMANIAN PRESIDENT: Extraordinary times call for an extraordinary strategic and visionary response. Granting E.U. candidate status the Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia at the European Council next week, is key in building a strong and last thing shield around our own values.


COREN: The Romanian President's remarks came during a visit to the Ukrainian Capitol with the leaders of France, Italy and Germany, who also pledged support for Ukraine's candidacy. The European Commission will weigh in on that in the coming hours.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has further details on the mission to Kyiv and what E.U. powers hope to achieve.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Three European leaders traveling by train to Kyiv to carry a message of solidarity at a time of war. On the platform, French President Emmanuel Macron was quick to state their purpose.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translation): A message of European unity to Ukrainian men and women supporting talk about the future in the coming weeks. We know it will be very difficult. I want to be in support and at their side.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): But Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister struck a more muted tone.

IRYNA VERESHCHUK, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: I'm not sure that there will be bright announcement following the meeting. But this, regardless, how it will be ending would be a historical meeting.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Because in the eyes of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, European leaders have been a lot of talk, but not much action. Macron made a splash when he said Moscow should be given an off ramp to the conflict that does not humiliate President Putin. Zelenskyy rebuke the comments calling it a weak position.

And Germany's Chancellor was criticized over his refusal to ban imports of Russian oil and gas, instead, promising a phase out by the end of the year.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): We need Chancellor Scholz to give us certainty that they will support Ukraine. He and his government must choose not to do a balancing act between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Set on healing divisions, the trip began with a tour of the devastated suburb of Irpin, a site of alleged Russian atrocity.

MACRON (through translation): This is what we wanted to do by coming here us for to see for ourselves and to be able to have this exchange with President Zelenskyy to talk about the future.


ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Afterwards, a meeting was held with President Zelenskyy. At the top of their agenda, more military aid. Germany, which critics say, was slow to provide material support promised long range artillery, air defense systems and anti-aircraft tanks to bolster Kyiv's fight for the East.

OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translation): We also support Ukraine by supplying weapons, and we will continue to do so for as long as Ukraine needs our support. We are currently training the Ukrainian military in state of the art weapons.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): All voice support for Ukraine's bid to join the European Union.

MARIO DRAGHI, ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translation): The Ukrainian people defend every day the values of democracy and freedom that are the basis of the European project of our project. We cannot delay this process.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): A historic visit meant to mend fences in the face of growing Russian aggression.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, Kyiv.


COREN: Well, Moscow initially planned on that aggression being over quickly according to Ukraine's defense minister. He told CNN, Russia originally expected Kyiv to be taken in 12 hours. Ukraine's leadership to flee the city in three days. That information was in documents found on a dead Russian soldier. The Minister says the West started sending heavy weapons only after Ukraine defended Kyiv. But now he expects that help to continue.


OLEKSIY REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: Our partners will never stop. I was told that. I spoke with my friend Austin, Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense of the United States, Secretary of Defense of U.K. Ben Wallace and our other colleagues, they told me, Oleksiy, don't worry, we will not stop.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you really believe that that is a genuine commitment by the United States to continue to militarily back Ukraine into the future, no matter what?

REZNIKOV: I heard yesterday and I felt that it's absolutely honestly.


COREN: A third U.S. military volunteer has reportedly gone missing while fighting in Ukraine. A family friends says he's a retired marine, who has not been heard from since April. Two other Americans were reportedly missing by their family members on Wednesday.

But as Sam Kiley reports, their picture has now appeared on social media.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Two American servicemen, one a former marine, the other a former soldier have appeared in an obscure photograph published on a telegram channel alleging that they have been captured by Russian-backed to Russian forces. They disappeared whilst in combat alongside their Ukrainian comrades not far from where I am here in Kharkiv.

According to their American platoon commander, effectively their platoon sergeant whose name he's asked us to keep secret, they were overrun effectively by what is suspected to have been a Russian airborne unit using tanks. They were able, he said, to knock out one armored vehicle before the tanks fired upon them. And they lost contact with these two individuals. Their photograph now emerging.

But there's been no confirmation either from the State Department or indeed from Russia or Russian-backed rebels, that they have these former U.S. service members in their custody. They were effectively members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces as indeed other members.

Now we understand that these foreign fighters were not necessarily part of what is called the international brigade or international legion here but rather we're fighting as part of another Ukrainian formation. But the problem for their friends and families and this is included in a third case in which a former U.S. marine is also believed to have been either killed or captured. He's certainly missing in action and hasn't been in touch with his family since April.

In all three cases, if they are captured and tried inside the Donetsk People's Republic in the city of Donetsk, they could face a similar fate as two Britains and a Moroccan, all of whom have been sentenced to death on alleged terrorism charges even though in each of those three cases, they were fully paid up and sworn in members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

State Department now saying that they're working hard to try to confirm the whereabouts of these missing Americans. But because there is no official response from the Russians, there has not yet been any direct liaison with the Russians on this matter, but also the International Committee of the Red Cross which is responsible for SATs matters, also likely to be deeply involved.

Sam, Kiley, CNN in Kharkiv.

[01:10:08] COREN: Don't let those smiles and cheers for you, it was a rough day for global markets up to the U.S. Federal Reserve announced its largest interest rate hike in decades in an attempt to get inflation under control. The Dow dropped more than 740 points falling below the 30,000 benchmark, its lowest level in a year.

But let's see how the U.S. stock futures look at the moment. So as you can see, the Dow is up three quarters of a percent. The Nasdaq Futures is up over 1 percent. The S&P 500 is also up almost 0.9 of a percent.

A quick look at the markets here in Asia. The Nikkei down at 1.47 percent. The Hong Kong Hang Seng up 1 percent. The Shanghai Composite relatively flat.

Well, Thursday's plunging numbers come as consumers' fear a recession could be on the horizon. CNN's Rahel Solomon has this report.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was an ugly day on Wall Street. Thursday's losses one day after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it would be more aggressive in its approach to fighting inflation. The tech heavy Nasdaq was the hardest hit on Thursday of the three major averages. A common theme this year was the index has lost almost a third of its value.

Investors and Americans alike questioning, are we heading toward a recession? Rates are rising, making borrowing more expensive. And inflation is at a 40-year high and not showing signs of easing. Chief economist at Moody's Analytics Mark Zandi, offering this advice.


MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: You know, the job market isn't going to be what it was a few months ago here down the road. I mean, we have a record number of open positions that's going to evaporate, we're going to see more layoffs. So, you know, I think I would be more cautious, but I wouldn't run for the bunker, right? You know, I don't think you need to do that.


SOLOMON: And while Zandi admits the risk of a recession is very high, he says, he also sees some paths to avoid one including the pandemic feeding, oil prices moderating and good policymaking from the Federal Reserve. But all of those are unknowns right now. And if there's one thing investors don't like, it's uncertainty.

Rahel Solomon, CNN, New York.

COREN: Well, meanwhile, other central banks are also making moves to combat rising prices. The Bank of England raise its interest rate by 25 basis points to 1.25 percent. That's the fifth hike since December. The Swiss National Bank also raise rates for the first time in 15 years surprising many economists. And the Hong Kong monetary authority increased its policy rate by 75 basis points on Thursday.

Catherine Rampell is the CNN Economics and Political Commentator and Washington Post Opinion Columnist. She joins us now from New York. Great to have you with us. Central banks worldwide have been asleep at the wheel as we know, suddenly they are playing catch up. But will it be enough to curb inflation?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's hard to say at this point. Part of the reason why inflation has gone up so much in recent months, particularly in Europe, has to do with the war in Ukraine, and the related disruption to energy markets. That has taken a lot of supply offline, particularly a Russian energy that European countries depend on, that's driven up energy prices as a result and increased the overall cost of living in these countries by raising interest rates that will tamp down demand somewhat, meaning it's more expensive to borrow, it's more expensive to spend money, effectively, the cost of borrowing is higher.

And that should presumably bring down demand a little bit, including possibly for energy. But so long as we continue to have these major disruption in commodities, markets, energy and food, particularly, we may continue to see elevated prices going forward.

COREN: But Catherine, we're not just seeing it in Europe. I mean, you're feeling it very acutely in the United States, particularly when it comes to gas prices.

RAMPELL: Yes, gas prices have gone way up here. Some of that predates the war in Ukraine, of course, but that war has made things worse. It's not just gas prices, however. If you look at almost any category of spending here in the United States, whether it's groceries or shelter, home heating, other kinds of energy, for example, airplane fares, all of those things have been going up. They've been going up pretty consistently over the past year.

And the real fear is that not only do we have this series of unlucky shocks, like the war in Ukraine, obviously, much more tragic consequences for the Ukrainians but higher cost of living for people in the United States as well. Not only do you have those shocks, avian flu, the war, locked downs in China, you also run the longer term risk of changing people's expectations about inflation. Meaning that they start to anticipate price increases, and then those price increases become self-fulfilling.


Businesses say, hey, I'm really worried that my costs are going to up -- go up. I need to pre-emptively raise the prices that I've charged to customers. And so it just kind of feeds on itself. That's the situation that, in fact, the Federal Reserve and other policymakers are really, really worried about.

They're worried about these near term shocks. They're worried about, you know, how much cash consumers are willing to spend right now. And that strong demand has also been fueling inflation. But the thing that they're most trying to nip in the bud is those longer term expectations about what prices will do in the future.

COREN: Well, Jerome Powell has indicated that he could raise rates by another 75 basis points at the next meeting following the Federal Reserve's decision this week. I mean, how many more rate rises are you anticipating?

RAMPELL: Oh, I would be a very rich woman if I knew the answer to that question. I mean, I think the Fed doesn't even know. A mere month ago, Chair Jerome Powell basically said that a 75 basis point interest rate hike in a single meeting was off the table. And there was this big rally in stock markets. As a result, they thought, oh, wow, it looks like he's not, you know, the Fed is not going to hike as aggressively. That was a month ago.

And then, of course, this week, we got the thing that it sounded like they had taken off the table. So I think the Fed has been kind of caught off guard by the trajectory of some of these price increases, including, as I said, because there have been these unwelcome surprises. But also because they're having trouble getting a handle on what consumer expectations are, what's happening to supply chains around the world, how much consumers are willing to spend. Are they going to be scared off by higher prices and pull back their spending on their own? Or does the Fed need to act much more aggressively?

So it's very hard to make predictions when even the Fed itself month after month, keeps on changing? What its projections are for inflation, for unemployment, for GDP growth and for its own trajectory of policy.

COREN: Catherine, very quickly, before you go, will this lead to recession?

RAMPELL: I sure hope not. Historically, when the Fed has raised interest rates to try to get inflation under control, most of the time it has resulted in inflation. And to me, in recession, not deliberately, necessarily, but that's the result in order to act aggressively to get inflation down. They push a little too hard. And you get a downturn, and it's a very real risk now.

I think the risks have risen, in part, because the inflation numbers are so bad that the Fed keeps having to, you know, raise its forecasts for how much it's going to raise interest rates, which in turn raises the risk of recession.

COREN: Catherine Rampell, great to get your perspective. Many thanks for joining us.

RAMPELL: Thank you.

COREN: Well, Turkey has one of the worst inflation rates in the world reaching a jaw dropping 73.5 percent in May. And while many countries are raising interest rates to try to curb inflation, the Turkish President is taking a different approach.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh explains.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's one thing that dominates conversations here and that is the state of the economy. While so many countries around the world are facing rising inflation, Turkey is facing its worst inflation in more than 20 years. According to government figures, inflation rate hit 73.5 percent in May.

Gas, that is more than 70 percent and many believe that in reality, it is much higher than that. People are struggling to keep up with this continuously rising inflation rates. The cost of pretty much everything has gone up. Transport has gone up by more than 107 percent in May compared to the previous year.

Household goods, furniture more than 82 percent, but the one that has hit so many so hard is the cost of food. Everyday staples have gone up by more than 90 percent.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): Restaurant owner bearish says with prices going up several times a month they can't have fixed prices anymore. Costs are going up but they can't keep raising their prices. He tells us, we used to see some customers four, five times a month. Now we see them once a month if at all, he says.

It's an economic crisis says business owner Begom (ph). We used to talk about people in Russia buying one tomato at a time. Now that's our situation. We are in the same boat.

Restaurant worker Ferhad (ph) says he's struggling to make ends meet and is drowning in debt. It's like we work for nothing. Our work goes down the drain, he tells us. Every day we sink lower and lower, he says.



KARADSHEH: The war in Ukraine, rising global energy prices, and the local currency, the Turkish lira losing about half of its value over the past year, have all contributed to the situation. But many economists blame much of this on President Erdogan's unorthodox economic policies. Turkey has been facing double-digit inflation for years now.

And many countries to fight inflation would raise the borrowing costs but not in Turkey. The President is a staunch opponent of interest rates that he describes as an evil that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. And he's recently doubled down on that and said that Turkey will continue to cut interest rates.

He believes that a depreciated currency, lower interest rates will boost production, jobs, exports and tourism. But experts have been questioning the President's plan and warning that it will backfire. And that it is the Turkish population that will continue to bear the brunt of this.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.

COREN: Brazilian authorities are trying to identify human remains believed to be of two missing men in the Amazon. What police and loved ones are saying about the apparent murder ahead. All parts of Europe are experiencing a dangerous heatwave and it could soon get worse. We'll go to the CNN Weather Center for the latest. And in the U.S., community surrounding Yellowstone National Park now reeling from catastrophic flooding damage. We'll have the latest.


COREN: Well human remains believed to be of a British journalist and a -- excuse me -- Brazilian indigenous expert will undergo DNA testing in the coming day to identify them and pinpoint the cause of death. Brazilian authorities say the remains arrived in Brasilia on Thursday. They are still looking for the boat belonging to the pair.

Last week, genetic material had been found in the boat of a suspect, who later admitted to killing the two men. But police say the material is not from Phillip's. CNN's Shasta Darlington has more.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A sense of sadness and mourning in Brazil over the apparent murder of a British journalist and indigenous expert in a remote region of the Amazon. On Wednesday night, Brazilian authorities announced that a suspect, the local fishermen, had admitted to killing Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira and he then led them to human remains.

While testing is still being done in Brasilia to confirm their identity, family and friends of the victims paid tribute to them on Thursday. Phillips' wife released the statement declaring, although we are still awaiting definitive confirmation, this tragic outcome puts an end to the anguish of not knowing Dom and Bruno's whereabouts.


His siblings paid special tribute to the indigenous groups that led the search and rescue efforts. Now the two men vanished during a trip in the Javari Valley in the far western part of Amazona's state on June 5th. It's a protected region, home to several indigenous communities including uncontacted tribes. But in recent years, illegal activity has flourished with land invasions from illegal loggers, fishermen, poachers, as well as drug traffickers.

Phillips and Pereira were on a trip to do research for a book about conservation efforts and challenges in the region. Both men had recently received death threats, and indigenous groups were quick to respond when they went missing. Pereira's wife Beatrice Matos tweeted on Thursday, now that Bruno's spirits are wandering in the forest and spread among us, our strength is much greater.

The investigation, of course, continues as authorities try to identify other possible suspects and confirm the motive behind the attack. But tributes were pouring in with many colleagues vowing to continue with the important work started by Phillips and Pereira documenting the challenges facing the Amazon.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.

COREN: Such important work. Well parts of Western Europe are coming -- are coping, I should say, with a dangerous heatwave. Officials say a town in southern France reported a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius or 104 Fahrenheit on Thursday. No place in mainland France has ever reached that temperature so early in the year. And forecasts indicate the Paris could see the hottest June day yet this weekend.

Spain is also experiencing hotter than normal temperatures. Many Catholic worshippers in Toledo defied Spain's worst heatwave in more than four decades, turning out Thursday to watch the Corpus Christi procession.

Well, CNN's Meteorologist Karen Maginnis joins us now. And Karen, what is going on in Europe?

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we've got this heat dome, much like we have across the United States. That heat dome take something to move it out, something strong enough and there's just nothing strong enough a weather system to budge this. It'll budge a little bit. It's going to move a little bit further towards the east. But we still have the hot wind coming up from the Sahara.

Very typical, but this is exceptional. This heat is running about 10 to 15 degrees above where it should be for this time of year. And typically, we would see heat, the record setting heat in the months of July may be into August. 2019, we saw hundreds of people killed during the heatwave across France.

There is very little air conditioning across France. There's very little need for it. But we're seeing these temperatures soar into the mid to upper 30s. And we still are at just the beginning of the summer months. Climatologically, as I mentioned, July is the month when we see these record highs.

All right, going into the Saturday forecast, Paris is going to see about 39 or 40 degrees. Remember, this isn't just hard on humans, it's hard on the elderly, which may suffer a little more intensely. Also, livestock, also pads, a lot of areas that are impacted from this heat. Paris, two more days of hot weather before those temperatures moderate a little bit back to near normal in the mid to upper 20s. Anna?

COREN: Karen appreciate the update. Many thanks.

Wildfires are raging in Spain amid soaring temperatures there. Right now, three wildfires are burning in the Catalonia region in North East Spain. The fires which started on Wednesday have burned 1,600 hectares that's nearly 4,000 acres. Spain has been hit with scorching heat since last week, is the earliest summer heatwave since 1981.

One of the greatest national parks in the U.S., Yellowstone could partially reopen next week after historic flooding but there's more rain to come. And the floodwaters now threatening fresh drinking water supplies in Montana's largest city.

CNN's Nick Watt has this report.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The water plant here in Billings was built to work when the river runs at 15 feet or below. This week, it hit 16.5, a 500-year event, a record high that plunk forced to close briefly.

QUENTIN MCEVOY, BILLINGS, MONTANA: This is pretty surreal. Seeing all the bridges go down across the state. I mean, just glad this one still here.

WATT (voice-over): Here's one up river that did not survive before and after. Just how abnormal unpredictable was this rush of water? Well, this time last year, the Yellowstone River at Billings was running at 8,000 cubic feet a second, a record low. This week, it hit 87,000 peaked around here Wednesday afternoon.

GENE KLAMERT, BULLS EYE RANCH: Started moving cattle about noon in the back there and moving them towards the front up here where it's a little higher ground. Last ones had to swim out. It was at the --


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just how abnormal, unpredictable was this rush of water? Well, this time last year, the Yellowstone River at Billings was running at 8,000 cubic feet a second, a record low. This week it hit 87,000 peak around here Wednesday afternoon.

GENE KLAMERT, BULLS EYE RANCH: We started moving cattle about noon in the back there. And moving them towards the front up here where it's a little higher ground. The last ones had to swim out. It was that deep. There was -- all you could see was their heads.

WATT: Further up, a Yellowstone tributary in Red Lodge, the river ran through it. Broadway Avenue now covered in rocks, left behind by floodwaters.

The southern part of Yellowstone Park might open as early as Monday. The north entrance, it's going to be months. New satellite images show what little is left of the only road in.

This flooding was fueled by heavy rain and high temperatures melting snow. Tonight, similar conditions return. CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Overnight last night was perfect.

Zooming you in to Yellowstone. Temperatures were below freezing on top of that snow. So stopping the melting in its tracks, freezing the snow back up.

But then by tomorrow, more temperatures well above freezing, more melting and even by Saturday, the possibility of some rain. There's a lot more snow on top of those mountains.

WATT: Our exclusive video shows what this river has already wrought.

So for now, the Yellowstone River is still falling, Wednesday this was all under water. The good news, that forecasted rain and snow melt over the next few days is only going to raise the river by about two feet. Should be manageable, fingers crossed.

Nick Watt, CNN -- Billings, Montana.


ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up after the break on CNN NEWSROOM.


CROWD: Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.


COREN: It wasn't just an empty chant, the January 6 Committee says the vice president of the United States could have lost his life to the angry mob. Those chilling details just ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just heard that Mike Pence is not going to reject any fraudulent electoral votes.



COREN: Well scenes like that on January 6 show how the Capitol rioters became enraged when Vice President Mike Pence officially certified Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.

Thursday's hearing into the insurrection painted a grim picture of what almost happened that day, and how much danger Pence was in as the angry mob closed in.

We get the details from CNN's Ryan Nobles at the Capitol.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us. And if he doesn't, that will be a sad day for our country.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The third day of public hearings from the January 6 Committee focusing on former President Trump's scheme to convince his own vice president to overturn the 2020 election.

TRUMP: If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.

NOBLES: The committee meticulously laying out the strategy concocted by conservative attorney John Eastman and the pressure campaign to get Pence to play along.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the attention was on what Mike would do or what Mike wouldn't do.

GREG JACOB, FORMER COUNSEL TO VP PENCE: Our review of tech's history and, frankly, just common sense, all confirm the vice president's first instinct on that point. There is no justifiable basis to conclude that the vice president has that kind of authority.

NOBLES: Using witnesses from taped depositions to describe a heated phone call that Pence had with the former president.

NICHOLAS LUNA, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: I remember hearing the word "wimp". Either he called him a wimp. I remember that he said, "You are a wimp, you'll be a wimp." Wimp is the word I remember.

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: It was a different tone than I heard him take with the vice president before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she was uncomfortable over the fact that it was obviously that type of interaction between the two of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And something to the effect, this is -- the wording is wrong. I made the wrong decision, four or five years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember what she said. Her father called him --


NOBLES: Pence former counsel Greg Jacob testifying that Pence exhaustively explored all of his options.

JACOB: We examined every single electoral vote count that had happened in Congress since the beginning of the country. It is unambiguous that the vice president does not have the authority to reject electors.

NOBLES: The committee revealing evidence that Trump was repeatedly told his scheme was illegal. Pence's former chief of staff Marc Short testifying --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it your impression that the vice president directly conveyed his position on these issues to the president, not just to the world through a "Dear colleague" letter but directly to President Trump?


NOBLES: Jacob saying that Eastman knew that too but continued to insist Pence could act, even as he argued Democratic vice presidents did not have the same power.

JACOB: He said, absolutely, Al Gore did not have a basis to do it in 2000. Kamala Harris shouldn't be able to do it in 2024, but I think you should do it today.

NOBLES: The committee detailing just how much danger Pence was in on January 6.

CROWD: Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.





NOBLES: Congressman Pete Aguilar detailing how a Trump tweet attacking Pence sent the crowd into a frenzy.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Our investigation found that immediately after the president's 2:24 p.m. tweet, the crowds both outside the Capitol and inside the Capitol surged.

NOBLES: And using a graphics presentation showing that at one point, the mob of rioters was only 40 feet away from the room Pence was hiding in. Jacob who was with Pence at the time, did not know the mob ended up that close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does it surprise to see who our close the mob was to the evacuation route that you took? 40 feet is the distance of me to you roughly.

JACOB: I could hear the din of the rioters in the building while we moved, but I don't think that I was aware that they were as close as that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make no mistake about the fact that the vice president's life was in danger.

NOBLES: A former White House attorney testified that Eastman seemed to accept there would be violence stemming from their actions.

ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: He said, you're going to cause riots in the streets. And he said, words to the effect that there has been violence in the history of our country to protect the democracy or protect the republic.

NOBLES: The committee also revealing Eastman emailed Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani about receiving a pardon, writing --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I decided that I should be on the pardon list if that is still in the works.

NOBLES: And against the backdrop of Thursday's hearing, new information about Virginia Thomas, the wife of the sitting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The committee now in possession of emails between Thomas and John Eastman, the conservative attorney who was at the center of Thursday's hearing.

It's compelled the committee to now ask Thomas to cooperate with their investigation. They sent her a letter asking her to do just that.

Thomas telling the "Daily Caller" Web site that she is open to clearing things up with the committee, all they have to do is ask something they have now done.

Ryan Nobles, CNN -- on Capitol Hill.


COREN: Former U.S. attorney Harry Litman joins us now from California where he is a legal affairs columnist for the "Los Angeles Times". Great to have you with us.


COREN: The committee is obviously making a case against Trump, laying out the roadmap for prosecutors to indict the former president. From what you have seen and heard thus far, is it strong enough for Attorney General Merrick Garland to lay charges against Donald Trump and take it to trial?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes and no. Yes, clearly Anna, there is enough there on several crimes and there was before. People have been puzzling over the question of intent, but especially after these three hearings I think that is nailed down pretty well. He knew about big lie. He knew about the illegality of what he was trying.

The big ticket charge at least so far in the ongoing DOJ investigation -- seditious conspiracy -- I don't think they have sealed the deal on that yet because it requires a specific agreement with Trump and one of the other conspirators. But that could happen still.

And finally, it is just -- we just have to realize that it would be unprecedented and grave and maybe a good thing but grave to indict a former president of the United States so there will be other considerations apart from the normal box checking. Can they show his guilty? And is it a righteous case as -- in sort of shorthand.

But the short answers to those two standard questions now are, yes, pretty much beyond any doubt, and almost all observers agree.

COREN: I hear what you are saying in that it is unprecedented to indict a former president, but let me read some of the testimony from Pence's, I guess lawyer at the time, Judge Michael Ludwig (ph). He gave testimony today.


COREN: He said that if Pence had followed Trump's demands, it would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis. And that Trump and his supporters now remain a clear and present danger to American democracy.

So I guess my question to you is, what is at stake if Trump isn't charged for what took place on January 6?

LITMAN: It is a great question. And I personally have come to the view that the only thing worse than prosecuting him would be not prosecuting him. So those very factors that you are setting out, Anna, he is still out there, he is calling January 6 essentially a great (INAUDIBLE). He is agitating, he is still toxic, cancerous even to the body politic. Those are reasons that do weigh, in addition to everything else, in favor of prosecution. Merrick Garland is, you know, well positioned and sophisticated to take those into account.

I'm just saying, there is more to it than simple evidence. But yes, from what I have seen -- compare say, the only analogy to Dave Nixon (ph) where he had the decency to walk off the scene and protect the republic.

Trump we found out today, on January 6 and since has been completely indifferent to any, any factor except winning and putting himself in power. That is all the more reason I agree. But of course it is Merrick Garland's determination that will matter to prosecute him now.

COREN: Harry, I want to ask you about Ginni Thomas. This is obviously an unfolding story. She is the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas. Her email with John Eastman, I mean what are the legal implications? And what could this mean for Justice Thomas's tenure on the Supreme Court bench?

LITMAN: I mean, so far every sort of funky or unseemly thing we found out about Virginia Thomas -- Ginni Thomas went immediately back to the justice. I think now she is out front on her own as a potential co- conspirator. So Eastman, you saw him take the fifth, 150 times. He is really in the suit now, and looking at criminal liability for two or three different crimes, I think. And now she is involved with him. She is importuning the electors in Arizona to change things around, she is just deeply up to her elbows in mischief and as with Eastman, it is all bottomed on a lie which makes it all fraudulent.

So I think she is actually, with these latest revelations, kind of cleave herself away, it is not just a matter of what does it mean for a spouse of a Supreme Court Justice -- it is Ginni Thomas herself.

Now of course, if she is charged, anything involving her would be -- would require Thomas to step aside, which shine a very harsh light on him because the two of them have been sort of handholding, you know, warriors for the cause.

[01:44:47] LITMAN: But I think now Ginni Thomas is, you know, on her own, and she is going -- she's indicated today. They were not going to touch her as of yesterday. These new revelations make them want to speak with her, and she says she will come in and clear things up. And that would also mean information about Eastman and others she has dealt with.

We will see if she really follows through on that pledge. But we might actually be seeing her with her right hand raised in one of these upcoming hearings.

COREN: An extraordinary development indeed.

Harry Litman, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

LITMAN: Thank you, Anna.

COREN: Well, FIFA has picked the cities that will host the 2026 World Cup. It's yet to be decided where the finals will be played. One place is already nominating itself. That news, ahead.


COREN: Oh, the catchy tunes of the Oscar winning Colombian-set movie, "Encanto". You may have seen very tall palms surrounding the town's colonial architecture.

Well, today's Call to Earth, features the endangered wax palm and the people bringing conservation awareness, as they try to preserve Colombia's rural ecosystems.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is hard to believe, this tranquil forest in western Colombia was once under siege. Much of Colombia's tropical forests served as a refuge to armed groups for decades.

Now, with some stability in the region, this forest has become more accessible over the past ten years, offering scientists a new perspective into the world's tallest palm.

MARIA JOSE SANIN, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY: Wax palms are incredible organisms because they can grow to be very tall, but they're not trees. So, they don't have wood in their stems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These giant plants can grow to over 60 meters tall.

SANIN: When we think of palms, I'm sure most people think of beaches, and very warm conditions. Wax palms like cooler environments, cloud forests on slopes and high elevation systems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have evolved on slopes across the Andes, but nowhere as plentiful as here.

SANIN: This is where you will find the largest populations, that is true worldwide, basically because they're endemic from the tropical Andes, so they don't grow anywhere else in the world. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Part of a team of Colombian botanists, Maria Sanin and her colleagues discovered in 2018, and that some wax palms in Tochecito had changed sex for the first time ever recorded.

They suspect, this rare phenomenon is a survival mechanism against deforestation, another predominant human activities in the area like raising cattle.


SANIN: The main conservation problem for wax palms is that they don't have places to grow in. Like they need forests, they need forest cover. The problem now is that many of these forests have been transformed, or have been cut down and transformed into pastures. And this is what is worrying us right now is that many of their populations are smaller and smaller.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While Sanin and her team, are pushing for wax palm ecosystems to be protected, they are also helping local landowners take conservation into their hands.

SANIN: Many people have become aware of this problem, and have adult individuals growing in their properties. So they are collecting the fruits, and germinating the fruits under shade. Taking care of the juveniles while they are at their most vulnerable to herbivores and to sunlight. And then bringing these palms to different systems, where they can be protected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protecting them could offer new opportunities for sustainable tourism, and help make conservation a national priority, Sanin says.

SANIN: We need incentives for people to see this as an economic opportunity, as well. Not just in in Concordia (ph) because the palms of Concordia are growing older and older, and will tend to die in this century. But I think, the potential for this to grow is there, but it has not been developed yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Above all, Sanin hopes her fellow Colombians will grow to love this national symbol as much as she does.

SANIN: I think as Colombians, we grow hearing or overhearing sometimes that Colombia is a very bio diverse country. I think the wax palms generate this unique environment and landscape, that could help us define what we are, and what we have to offer.

These enormous wax palms that completely alter the slope silhouette. This is a fascinating view.


COREN: Beautiful. Well, Let us know what you are doing to answer the call with the hashtag #CallToEarth. We will be back with more news, after this short break.


Well, FIFA has announced the host cities for the 2026 World Cup. The tournament will co-hosted by three countries for the first time, including 11 cities in the U.S., three in Mexico, and two in Canada.

FIFA has yet to decide which ones will host group play, and which ones will see the elimination round.

This was the reaction in Miami, which is one of the 16 host cities. The tournament will feature 48 national teams for the first time. And according to FIFA's president, it will all adding up to a spectacular show.


GIANNI INFANTINO, FIFA PRESIDENT: This was the most competitive process ever for the FIFA World Cup. And of course, congratulate the 16 cities. I mean we'll the world coming here. We'll have an exciting tournament. As I have said, the greatest show on earth.


COREN: The few things they show like the city that never sleeps. New York will co-host some with New Jersey where this announcement watch party was held. After FIFA made the decision New Jersey's governor pitched the location for their game of the tournament.



PHIL MURPHY, NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: And as much as we want the early games, there is one game we want. We want the last game. We want the last game. We want the World Cup trophy hoisted right here up at the road in MetLife Stadium.

Look at the backdrop. How could you not play the finals here?


COREN: How could you not? New York and New Jersey are not alone of course. CNN has reporters all around the world, covering the exciting announcement.

Matt Rivers has the latest from Mexico City. But let's go first to Paula Newton, in Ottawa, Canada for more.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Paula Newton in Ottawa, where two Canadian cities got the good news. Vancouver and Toronto will be host cities for the FIFA 2026 World Cup.

Now Edmonton Alberta, shut out. That western city saying they would have been fantastic hosts, but congratulating the other cities nonetheless and I have to say the enthusiasm for the game is so strong here in Canada.

Canada has now qualified for the first time in nearly four decades for the World Cup this year. And you have to remember just the qualifying games in this country were sold out in even sub-zero temperatures. There is so much enthusiasm for the game.

And these means that those cities, Toronto and Vancouver will get stadium improvements which a lot of players in this country and spectators have been looking for.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, big news here in Mexico, a country that we of course know is already obsessed with soccer with the announcement of which Mexican cities will be joining their counterpart cities in both the United States and Canada when the World Cup is played in 2026.

The announcement that three of Mexico's better known cities including Monterrey, Guadalajara, and here in Mexico City, will be hosting some games during the World Cup.

This is not Mexico's first go around hosting the World Cup, in fact, it's its third time acting as host. The first coming in 1970, the next time coming in 1986. And of course Mexican culture, very known for hosting guests. So given that experience and the Mexican culture, maybe the Canadians and Americans can come down here to ask the Mexicans for some friendly advice.

Matt Rivers, CNN -- Mexico City.


COREN: Well, thank you so much for watching this hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Anna Coren, live in Hong Kong. Kim Brunhuber picks up after a short break.

Stay with CNN.