Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

January 6 Hearings; Russia's War on Ukraine; U.S. Economy; Three Killed in Alabama Church Shooting; Montana Floods; Rome versus the Electric Scooter. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 18, 2022 - 02:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, Donald Trump lashes out at lawmakers investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, calling it disgraceful. And now we're learning what the congressional panel will focus on next.

Plus, Vladimir Putin blaming the U.S. and other Western countries for the world's economic woes, calling sanctions crazy and reckless.

And with tourism roaring back to life across Europe, Italy seeing a two-wheeled invasion that many want curbed. What Rome plans to do about the influx of e-scooters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: Well, Donald Trump is lashing out at the January 6th committee hearings, accused them of doctoring video testimonies that cast him in a very negative light. Yet both taped and live witnesses over three hearings have consistently shown Trump illegally tried to overturn the 2020 election, culminating in the Capitol riot.

The next hearing on Tuesday is expected to include two prominent Georgia election officials, who were pressured by Trump to, quote, "find nonexistent votes" after he lost.

And there are growing questions over the potential role of Ginni Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas. The select committee has requested an interview with her, which she has indicated she is willing to do.

For the latest on Trump's continued defiance and what lies ahead, here is CNN's Jessica Schneider.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I never called Mike Pence a wimp. I never called him a wimp. Mike Pence had a chance to be great. He had a chance to be, frankly, historic.

But just like Bill Barr and the rest of these weak people, Mike -- and I say it sadly because I like them -- but Mike did not have the courage to act.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former president Trump using his platform at a conservative political conference to deny the evidence against him and blast the January 6th committee.

TRUMP: They con people. They're con artists.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Trump's attacks come as the committee is gearing up for several more hearings. CNN has learned Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will at Tuesday's hearing with his deputy.

TRUMP: All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They'll testify about Trump's efforts to pressure them to change the election result.

The committee also wants to talk to Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, about her communications with Trump attorney John Eastman. Eastman devised the scheme to pressure then- vice president Mike Pence to block the certification of Biden's 2020 electoral win.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: The teller is verified, it appears to be regular in form and authentic.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Something Pence ultimately refused to do.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), CHAIR, U.S. HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6 ATTACK: We have sent Ms. Thomas a letter asking us to come and talk to the committee. We look forward to her coming.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Ginni Thomas issued a short response to the committee via the conservative publication, "Daily Caller," saying she can't wait to clear up misconceptions, "I look forward talking to them."

Eastman denying he ever discussed election litigation that might before the Supreme Court with Ginni Thomas or with justice Clarence Thomas.

Eastman writing, "We have never engaged in such discussions, would not engage in such discussion and did not do so in December 2020 or anytime else."

While the committee has requested cooperation from outstanding witnesses, it has so far refused to share full transcripts of all of its interviews with the Justice Department, but the committee says it will not be an obstacle to Justice Department prosecutions.

THOMPSON: We are not going to stop what we're doing to share the information that we've gotten so far with the Department of Justice. We have to do our work.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): CNN has learned the panel is running into problems securing witnesses for an upcoming hearing about Trump's efforts to pressure the Justice Department to support and promote his false election fraud claims.

While Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue, the top two officials at DOJ in the final weeks of the Trump administration, are expected to appear, the committee is so far striking out with Pat Cipollone.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Cipollone is the former White House lawyer credited with talking some sense into Trump by threatening to resign. Sources say Cipollone is not expected to join the hearing in person, despite already talking to the committee privately.

SCHNEIDER: And "The New York Times" is also reporting that the committee could start sharing transcripts of those witness interviews with the Justice Department as soon as next month -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.



HOLMES: Joining me now from Los Angeles is CNN legal analyst Loni Coombs.

Good to see you and thanks for making the time.

When the type of evidence we've heard from the committee emerge, particularly when it comes to the former president's behavior, what pressure does that put on the Department of Justice to act?

LONI COOMBS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Michael, great to be with you. I think these hearings have really upped the pressure on the Department of Justice. With every hearing, the evidence has gotten stronger and stronger.

And I think people are looking at this and not asking the question, is there evidence to link Donald Trump to this?

They're now saying, why would you not file charges and how many charges are you going to file?

This committee laid out in the very beginning they were going to put out evidence that this was a sophisticated seven-point plan that he had to try and overturn this election and maintain power.

And that's exactly what the evidence is showing. I think it's been a very compelling way to present it, with the multimedia, with the videos and the witness statements and the live witnesses and also the committee members coming on here and there, explaining exactly what's going on and step by step through the timeline.

I think everyone watching it can say, look, this is very clear that Donald Trump did commit these charges.

HOLMES: You know, obviously, there are potential political and even social instability issues if Trump or his inner circle are indicted.

But what are the risks of not indicting if there is overwhelming evidence of law breaking?

Does that not just enable the next president, who wants to subvert the law, to stay in power?

COOMBS: Michael, that's a really good point. What happened on January 6th and everything leading up to it is unprecedented, right. So however we respond to it is going to set a precedent.

If we file charges, that's going to set a precedent. If we don't file charges, it's going to set the precedent that, look, any president who comes into power may be able to do whatever they want to get there and to stay there if they're challenged in the next election.

Because, look, Donald Trump did all of these things once he knew he didn't actually win this election to maintain the Big Lie that there was election fraud. And there were things like just pressuring the local, state and federal officials and putting out the Big Lie and allegations of fraud and conspiracy and then inciting violence.

Look at all the things he got away with. Nothing happened to him.

Why would the next president, who wants to stay in power -- and the election shows that he didn't get enough votes -- why would they not do that, if they see there is really no ramifications to those actions?

HOLMES: To that point, we've heard all sorts of descriptions, words like "shocking," "illegal," "jaw-dropping" around things that have come out of these hearings in terms of the president and his inner circle.

So does it matter if no one of note is prosecuted at the end of the day?

COOMBS: I think it does. You know, it's interesting. These hearings are actually sort of a double edged sword. We are getting to see really the truth here. We're seeing things that we didn't know about before. The curtain has been pulled back.

And we're seeing what happened on January 6th, just how serious it was, more horrific than we realized before. And what was going on behind closed doors up to it.

So now we have that information, right?

We can't pretend ignorance anymore that we really don't know what happened.

If we don't do anything now with that information, what are we saying about the line we're willing to cross, as far as our morals or our rule of law?

Are we pushing that line further and further out there until there is no line anymore?

HOLMES: Yes, yes, exactly. I wanted to ask you this, too, because it's fascinating, this aspect of all of this.

CNN's Joan Biskupic had a piece on about how Supreme Court justices were divided over 2020 election issues. Ultimately they declined to accept any of Donald Trump's claims.

As she writes, one justice stood out for emphasizing ballot fraud in sympathy with those who refused to accept the results. And that was justice Clarence Thomas. And now the committee wants to talk to his wife, Ginni.

What do you make of what we've heard about her involvement in the Big Lie and how it impacts or does not impact her husband's position going forward in cases related to that?

COOMBS: Right. So Ginni Thomas' name kind of bubbled up when "The Washington Post" revealed that there were these 29 texts from her to Mark Meadows, who was at the time the White House chief of staff, where she was saying very clearly that she thought the election should be overturned. And she wanted Trump to stay in power.

Obviously she has a right like everyone else to have freedom of speech and say what she wants to say and have her political views.


COOMBS: And she has always been very open that she is a conservative activist. However, it did raise some eyebrows about how strong the language was. And we also have her husband, who is this Supreme Court justice, at the same time ruling on two cases that dealt with election results of 2020.

One was a case where the January 6th committee wanted to have access to Donald Trump's White House records. And everyone on the Supreme Court said, yes, you can, except for one dissenter, who is Clarence Thomas.

The other case was whether the Supreme Court was going get involved in all of the lower courts who are battling out these allegations of election fraud. And everyone on the Supreme Court said, no, we're not going get involved, except for two dissenters, who are Alito and Thomas.

So here you have Ginni Thomas, writing these text messages to Mark Meadows at the same time that her husband is ruling on cases that involve the content of what those texts are and ruling in a way, not along with the majority but in a way that would support Ginni Thomas. Now we hear she was also emailing John Eastman. Now we don't know what

the context of those emails are. But the committee is rightfully saying, hey, at this point, we want to ask you about those emails. And she is saying I want to come in. I'll talk to you. I want to clear up anything is going on.

But you have to follow the evidence, where it goes.

Is it just going to be Ginni Thomas espousing her political views or did she do something in her actions across the line that go into conspiracy?

And is there any type of influence going on between her and her husband, who is sitting on the Supreme Court?

Those are all things that may be nothing right now but they need to look into.

HOLMES: Absolutely. And John Eastman, the lawyer who then said, I'll have a pardon if that's still on the table and put it in writing, which I thought was interesting for a lawyer to do.

Oh my word. You'd think that's something you'd pick up the phone for. Loni Coombs, really appreciate it. We're right out of time but thank you so much.

COOMBS: Great to be with you.



HOLMES: Ukraine has just cleared the first hurdle on the path to join the European Union. E.U. and Ukrainian flags flew side by side in Kyiv on Friday after the European Commission recommended that Ukraine should be given candidate status.

The move doesn't guarantee membership, which could be years away. But President Zelenskyy says it still brings Ukraine a step closer to winning the war. The commission's leader says Ukraine deserves to be in.


URSULA VAN DER LEYEN, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream.


HOLMES: British prime minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Friday, his second since the war began. He offered Ukraine major military training he said would fundamentally change the equation of the war.

In Eastern Ukraine, negotiations are under way to try to evacuate hundreds of civilians stranded at a chemical plant in Sievierodonetsk. That's from a Ukrainian regional official, who says the talks include a possible ceasefire. The Russian attacks are also taking a devastating toll on another city just across the river from there. Ben Wedeman reports.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A portent of things to come on the route to Lysychansk, a city that has been in the line of fire for months.

A school basement serves as shelter for dozens of residents. Tetyana shows us where they sleep. The only light provided by our camera.

"Everyone is outside now," she says, "because it's too dark and hard to breathe down here."

Outside they wait as soup cooks over a fire.

"There's no gas, no power, no water," Maria tells me. "We have nothing."

Most are old, tired, terrified and beyond despair.

"I'm alone," says 82-year-old Masha. "My legs are tired I can't go anywhere."

Lyudmila is leaving.

"We thought it would calm down but it only gets worse and worse," she says. "I can't take the sounds anymore."

Natalia is leaving, too.

"The windows in my house are broken," she says.

"There's a huge crater by my house. It's the end of the world."

The sunny weather belies what has become a post apocalyptic existence. Residents line up for unfiltered water so they can wash and flush toilets.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Almost four months of war with no end in sight. Frustration flares.

"Where's our mayor, where's our governor?" asked Mykola.

"They should have come here at least once."

Just across the river, savage street fighting rages in Sievierodonetsk. Lysychansk isn't near the front; it is the front.

WEDEMAN: At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, Russian aircraft hit this building. This building was serving as a shelter for people. Three were killed and it really goes to show there is nowhere in Lysychansk that safe.

Lyudmila was in that building. Her husband injured in the strike.

"Yesterday he was crushed under the rubble," she says.

She can do nothing but weep. She waits for a ride to see him in hospital -- Ben Wedeman, CNN, Lysychansk.


HOLMES: Russian president Vladimir Putin railed against the West in what was billed as major speech on Friday, vowing to press on with his invasion of Ukraine and insisting that Russia will flourish, despite harsh economic sanctions. He also claims it is not Russia but the U.S. who is to blame for the skyrocketing prices of goods around the world.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Russia's actions to liberate Donbas have nothing to do with it, are a result of systematic mistakes by the current U.S. administration and the European bureaucracy.

That's where the causes are, only that. I will mention our operation did play a role but the root causes are in their erroneous economic policy.


HOLMES: The U.S. State Department says it has seen new videos that appear to show two U.S. military volunteers missing in Ukraine. They showed up on pro-Russian social media and news sites. Barbara Starr with details from the Pentagon.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was in the fighting north of Kharkiv, where two Americans went missing last week, less than five miles from the Russian border. The U.S. government working with Ukrainian authorities to find them.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have been briefed. We don't know where they are but I want to reiterate. Americans should not be going to Ukraine now.

STARR (voice-over): Now this photo from a Russian blogger has emerged of Alexander Drueke and Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh appearing to be bound in the back of a Russian military vehicle. Video later emerging of an interview they did with pro Russian media. CNN is not showing the video as the two appear to be speaking under duress.

Now the State Department is working to verify their status.

BUNNY DRUEKE, MOTHER OF ALEX DRUEKE: They said that there is a photograph that is being circulated on the Russian media and they're working hard to verify it. We're very hopeful. STARR (voice-over): Retired Staff Sergeant Drueke an army reservists from 2002 to 2014, served in both Kuwait and Iraq. Drueke's mother Bunny tells CNN, her son wanted to lend his skills to train those who were coming to Ukraine to fight.

DRUEKE: He felt that if Putin wasn't stopped now, he would just become bolder with every success and that eventually, he might end up on American shores.

STARR (voice-over): Former Marine Corporal Huynh served in the Marine Corps from 2014 to 2018. Last serving in Camp Pendleton, California. Huynh's fiance, Joy Black describe to CNN that the last time she heard from him.

JOY BLACK, ANDY HUYNH'S FIANCEE: He told me he loved me very much and that he would be unavailable for two to three days. He really had this law in his heart and this big burden on him to go and serve the people however he can. And just I know it's not a great situation but I'm still very proud of him and I just want to see him back safely.

STARR (voice-over): One of their comrades in Ukraine whose identity we are keeping hidden, exclusively telling CNN Sam Kiley, Drueke and Huynh were captured, repelling a Russian armored assault.

PIP, FORMER U.S. SERVICE MEMBER: We suspect they were knocked out by either the T-72 tanks shooting at them or a blast of the mine.

STARR (voice-over): A Kremlin spokesperson told CNN, we do not know anything about it when asked about the missing Americans. The U.S. also confirming a third American went missing in Ukraine in April.

CNN has learned he is retired captain Grady Kurpasi, a 20-year veteran of the Marine Corps. A friend who served with Kurpasi for years, says he has cellphone data that shows Kurpasi could be being held in the Russian controlled city of Kherson.


STARR (voice-over): But acknowledges they do not have proof that he's alive.

DON TURNER, GRADY KURPASI'S FRIEND: I think it was a calling to help and just be humanitarian. There was no real plan to his mission. Just he wanted to go out there and try and help.

STARR (voice-over): All three of them as seen Americans having served in the military puts them in unique danger if captured by Russians.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES SPIDER MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You routinely are swimming in or immersed in these kinds of sensitive programs. I'm not certain the level of that exposure but I can guarantee you the Russians are going to try to extract that information.

STARR (voice-over): Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: Fears of a recession are ramping up in the United States as

Americans struggle with soaring inflation but President Biden says the country can overcome this crisis. We'll have details from Washington when we come back.




HOLMES: Wages in the U.S. are climbing at their fastest rate since the mid 1980s. But because inflation has also risen so quickly, American workers have actually taken a pay cut. It comes as the U.S. President admits that inflation is taking a toll on families all across the country but he is confident about America's economy.


HOLMES: CNN's Kaitlan Collins with more from Washington.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Higher prices are plaguing President Biden as he promises the nation he's working on bringing them down.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm using every lever available to me to bring down prices for the American people.

COLLINS (voice-over): The White House only growing more concerned after mortgage rates surged over half a percentage point this week amid rising inflation and a big interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve. Biden defending his record and highlighting how the U.S. is not the only nation battling inflation.

BIDEN: With Russia's war driving up inflation worldwide, threatening vulnerable countries with severe food shortages, we have to work together to mitigate the immediate fallout of this crisis.

COLLINS (voice-over): But it may get worse before it gets better. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers who was criticized by the Biden administration for saying inflation would rise is now predicting a recession in the next two years.

LAWRENCE SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: We are likely to have a recession I think we have overheated the economy and gotten some bad luck. And when the pendulum swings too far one way, it tends to swing back the other way.

COLLINS (voice-over): Biden disagrees, telling the Associated Press a recession is "not inevitable" and declaring the U.S. is in a "stronger place position than any nation to overcome this inflation." Still, the White House is scrambling for solutions.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We understand that anxiety, the President understands the anxiety, is focused on what he can do to lower costs for families, to address the price of gasoline, although that is said on the world market.

COLLINS (voice-over): Biden's economic team debated sending rebate cards to millions to help pay at gas stations. But one official told CNN today, that option is unlikely due to the complicated logistics.

JEAN-PIERRE: All options are on the table because he understands the pain that this is causing for families.

COLLINS (voice-over): As the President's poll numbers on the economy have continued to slide, Biden telling the Associated Press that people are, quote, "really, really down," following two years of COVID a volatile economy and soaring gas prices.

Biden saying quote, "They're really down. Their need for mental health in America has skyrocketed because people have seen everything upset."

COLLINS: Also in this interview, President Biden argued that the idea that the American Rescue Plan, which he got passed through Congress, caused inflation and led to higher prices he said is bizarre.

Of course you've seen that argument being made by Republicans that it at least contributed to it. We should note this with is a rare interview for Biden to do, which does go to speak to the concerns the White House has about the messaging when it comes to the economy -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: Still to come on the program, a third person has died in that church shooting in Alabama. What we're learning about the 70-year-old suspect after the break.





HOLMES: A third person has died following that shooting at a church near Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday. The victims, all senior citizens, were attending a small group dinner. Police say a 70-year-old man is in custody. CNN's Nadia Romero with the latest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are getting reports of a possible active shooter.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three people are dead after a shooting Thursday night at a church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Active shooter incident with injuries. Scene is not secure. At least three patients.

ROMERO: Police say the church was hosting a potluck dinner when the suspect, a 71-year-old man attending the event, opened fire.

CAPT. SHANE WARE, VESTAVIA HILLS POLICE: At some point, he produced a handgun and began shooting, striking three victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Best estimate we have for patients is going to be in the parish hall. The shooter has been held down at this time but the scene is not secure.

ROMERO: Investigators say after opening fire, the suspect was held down by another person at the event.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't get radio reception. Multiple people down. Subject in custody.

ROMERO: Police identifying the victims as 84-year-old Walter Rainey, who died on the scene, and 75-year-old Sarah Yeager, who died at the hospital. The third victim, an 84-year-old woman, died at the hospital Friday.

The ordeal leaving the community in disbelief.

HUDSON BROWN, VESTAVIA HILLS RESIDENT: You see it in places you have never been to. People you don't know. And then now you're thinking, that could have been one of my friends down there.

ROMERO: Former U.S. Senator Doug Jones has lived in the neighborhood for nearly three decades.

DOUG JONES, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I think it just goes to show that no community is immune from this kind of gun violence that we see playing out across the country. No one is immune.

ROMERO: So far, investigators have not released a motive but say the suspect who is in custody acted alone. Police praising the bravery of the person who held down the suspect until they arrive.

WARE: The person who subdued the suspect in my opinion is a hero.

ROMERO: Earlier today, parishioners packed a prayer vigil at St. Luke's Episcopal Church about six miles away.

BISHOP GLENDA CURRY, EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF ALABAMA: I think the church has a lot to mourn.

ROMERO: When this place of worship turned into a crime scene, the church leaders here tell me they immediately received calls and emails of support from people from around the world. Hundreds of people came out to the prayer vigil to mourn the lives lost.


ROMERO: And the bishop says two of the people who were killed, Charles Rainey and Sarah Yeager, were very active in their church communities and that their fellow parishioners and their families are in mourning -- Nadia Romero, CNN, Vestavia Hills, Alabama.


HOLMES: The chief Republican senator trying to forge a consensus on gun control in Congress was jeered on Friday in his home state of Texas.


HOLMES (voice-over): Senator John Cornyn left Washington on Thursday without a deal on bipartisan legislation that could pass Congress. Cornyn claimed that negotiators will get a bill to the Senate floor next week. Despite telling the crowd he said no to a long list of Democratic demands on gun safety, they reacted this way.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): We fought and (INAUDIBLE) President Biden's (INAUDIBLE) wish list off the table.

So you might ask, what is on the table?

More mental health resources, more support for our schools and making sure that violent criminals and the mentally ill cannot buy a firearm.


HOLMES: Meanwhile, President Biden is praising his home state of Delaware for adopting a state ban on assault-style weapons and called on Congress to, quote, "do the right thing."

On Friday, the U.K. approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States. Assange has been in a British prison for the last three years. He is wanted in the U.S. on 18 criminal charges related to the release of thousands of classified files and diplomatic cables.

If convicted, he faces up to 175 years in prison. Assange's wife and one of his attorneys vowed to pursue every option to stop the extradition.


JENNIFER ROBINSON, ASSANGE'S ATTORNEY: We have 14 days to file grounds for appeal with potential longer -- extension of time after that point. But we will appeal this all the way through the British courts and, if necessary, to the European Court of Human Rights.


HOLMES: World Wrestling Entertainment boss Vince McMahon on the ropes after a report of hush money payments to cover up an alleged affair. He has stepped down from his leadership roles at the WWE while the company looks into misconduct claims against him. Jason Carroll reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please welcome chairman of WWE, Vince McMahon.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Larger than life, Vince McMahon, more famous than some of the wrestling stars he helped create.

DAVE MELTZER, JOURNALIST, "WRESTLING OBSERVER": He's the guy. I mean, he's -- WWE is Vince McMahon. You can't separate them.


CARROLL (voice-over): Now McMahon forced to step back from his role as chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE, while the company's board investigates misconduct claims against him.

His daughter his interim replacement. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting, McMahon paid a former employee who he allegedly had an affair with $3 million to keep her quiet. According to "The Journal" the separation agreement prevents her from discussing her relationship. The investigation also looking at other non-disclosure agreements involving misconduct claims against McMahon and another executive.

MELTZER: What would have been considered boys will be boys, which wrestling was built on for decades and decades and decades and, by today's standards, it's not quite as much.

CARROLL (voice-over): "I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the special committee," McMahon said in a statement.

And "I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation, whatever they are."

Wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer says it is tough to predict the fallout from the allegations.

MELTZER: Their big defense is that any money that he paid, any hush money that he paid was his own money and it was not company money. And I think that's the key to the investigation.

CARROLL (voice-over): Over decades, McMahon turned the WWE into a billion dollar entertainment juggernaut, including deals with Fox and NBC. He will still be in charge of creative content while the investigation is underway.

McMahon has weathered past scandals. In 1994, a jury acquitted him of conspiring to distribute steroids to his wrestlers.

In the years following, always center stage and always the showman. In 2007, then reality TV star Donald shaved McMahon's head in a made for the masses feud. Now the wrestling world waiting to see how this latest real-world match will end.


[02:40:00] HOLMES: Countries around the world experiencing a dangerous heat wave right now. We'll go to the CNN Weather Center after the break for the latest details.




HOLMES: Parts of Western Europe are coping with a dangerous heat wave.

In France, two locations reached all-time temperature records on Friday. Several other places set monthly records. Heat is forecast to peak across much of the country in the coming day, including Paris, which could see the hottest June day yet.

Historic flooding is devastating parts of Montana and forcing Yellowstone National Park to close. The U.S. Geological Survey calling it a one in 500-year event, which means there is at least a one in 500 chance of a flood event happening in any given year.


HOLMES: This past week heavy rains and rapid snow melt caused rivers to sweep away bridges and entire sections of roadway. More than 10,000 visitors were evacuated from the park.

Earlier I spoke with conservation scientist Richard Steiner, who said it's another sign of the climate crisis we're still failing to address.


RICHARD STEINER, CONSERVATION SCIENTIST AND MARINE BIOLOGIST: Well, it sort of seems like, summer 2022, we're all collectively walking through the gates of hell together. This may be the summer that causes our politicians to wake up and fix this to the extent possible.

The entire Northern Hemisphere has set temperature records on land. There's record breaking drought, wildfires, floods in Southeast Asia. And this is not just North America. It's Europe and Asia and Southeast Asia and India and Pakistan as well.

So we know that this is going on. If you connect the dots between these crises, it's pretty apocalyptic. But then also in the ocean, which has absorbed about 90 percent of the excess heat we generate in the atmosphere, every year for the last six years, there's been the absolute record global ocean temperature.

And it just keeps going up, breaking records every year. So that's where most of the heat is stored and it's keep reradiating into the atmosphere, causing these typhoons and superstorms and droughts in one place and floods in another.


HOLMES: City officials in Rome waging a war against electric scooters. Why they say they're doing more harm than good. That's after the break.





HOLMES: Tourists are roaring back to streets of Rome and now the city has a new problem: the use of escooters. CNN's Barbie Nadeau explains.


BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rome has battled many invaders in its nearly 2,800-year history but perhaps none quite like the electronic scooter.

First introduced in the city three years ago as an ecological alternative to public transportation during the pandemic, they have now become an invasive species. There are more than 14,000 registered escooters for rent in the Italian capital. But very few are actually used.

EUGENIO PATANE, ROME MOBILITY: The number of the scooter that is used in this moment is at 2 percent of the whole number.

NADEAU (voice-over): And that is a problem. Giuliano Frittelli, head of the Italian Union for the Blind and Visually Impaired tells us it is a particular challenge for disabled people.

GIULIANO FRITTELLI, ITALIAN UNION FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED (through translator): There are many problems with the scooters. The first is the wild parking.

They should be installed, not all over the sidewalks because people who cannot see and all the other people -- someone with a stroller, an elderly person -- have, to walk in the street.

NADEAU (voice-over): But the Eternal City's cobblestone streets aren't necessarily safe, either.

WALTER HUGHES, AMERICAN TOURIST: If you ride around town, especially on historic centers, it's almost impossible in a car. This is it. For that two, three-mile radius, you move fast around.

NADEAU (voice-over): The scooters are used mostly by tourists, who don't always seem to follow the rules.

[02:55:00] NADEAU (voice-over): The scooters are supposed to have only one person on them at a time. They are not allowed on the sidewalks. And share riders are supposed to be at least 18 years old.

In June, an American couple was fined over $800 for throwing a rented escooter down the Spanish steps, causing $26,000 worth of damage to the marble steps. And now the city of Rome has a plan.

Starting in January 2023, the city council says it will reduce the number of scooters from about 14,000 to 9,000 and the number of companies renting them from seven to three. The scooters were also supposed to ease Rome's stifling traffic. But they're actually making it worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see two people in the scooter there you see. It is very dangerous.

NADEAU (voice-over): Rome, as the saying goes, wasn't built in a day. And its scooter problems won't be solved in one, either. Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Rome.


HOLMES: Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. Kim Brunhuber takes it over from here as CNN NEWSROOM continues in a moment.