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Biden Administration Says Recession Not Inevitable; Germany Taking Emergency Steps to Build Winter Gas Supply; NATO to Host Talks Between Turkey, Finland and Sweden; Ukrainian Troops Dispose of Unexploded Munitions; Deadly Monsoon Flooding Strikes Bangladesh and India. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 20, 2022 - 04:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and right around the world. I'm Isa Soares in London. And just ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM.


JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY : It's really unacceptably high. We expect a transition to steady and stable growth, but I don't think a recession is at all inevitable.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We should expect greater hostile activity from Russia, purposefully, demonstratively, this week exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The route of the presidential party is total, and no majority is presented.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump knew the big lie was a big lie. They used it also as a big shakedown. We can't allow people to decide that they are above the law and that they are more important than our constitutional processes.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Isa Soares.

SOARES: Welcome to the show, everyone. It is Monday, June 20th, 9:00 a.m. here in London. And we'll begin with economic uncertainty as investors watch to see if the United States can tame historic inflation without, of course, triggering a recession. Global markets have been in flux since the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked interest rates last week by the biggest amount since 1994. By 75 basis points in fact. Let us have a look at stock markets right around the world. Asia markets about an hour or so left of trading to go. Mixed day as you can see there. The Nikkei seeing the sharpest falls. If we have a look at the European markets, they've been open about an hour or so doing slightly better, starting off the week in the green. The FTSE 100 up 4/10 of a percent. We'll keep an eye on those stock markets. Well, despite fears of a coming economic hurricane by the CEO of

JPMorgan Chase, members of the Biden administration were out in full force over the weekend really trying to put Americans at ease. Here's what Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had to say. Have a listen.


YELLEN: I expect the economy to slow. It's been growing at a very rapid rate as the economy -- as the labor market has recovered and we have reached full employment. It's natural now that we expect to transition to steady and stable growth, but I don't think a recession is at all inevitable.


SOARES: Well, amid the gathering clouds, team Biden says the world's largest economy is in good shape as well as in good hands.


BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR, U.S. NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: People are buying less goods, spending time at home. They're spending more on services. That creates some real challenges for some companies and some CEOs. What I would say is that not only is a recession not inevitable, but I think that a lot of people are underestimating those strengths and the resilience of the American economy.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: Inflation obviously is happening globally and recession is not inevitable. The president really wants to have a steady and stable recovery. But, of course, one of the biggest pieces of these inflationary increases that we're seeing is the price of fuel.


SOARES: That's Kim Warner. Clare Sebastian joins me now with more. And, Clare, so clearly fears of recession very much front and center. We heard there from Janet Yellen the clearest words yet, I think. What tools does she have in her arsenal to make sure we don't get to recession?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she talked a lot about this actually. The parts that the Fed can do and the parts that the administration can do. There are things the administration has already done to try, for example, to bring down gas prices which are in a record high. Things like releasing oil from strategic petroleum reserve, try to stabilize things a little bit. That way there are some things they can do with sort of drug prices and other elements of inflation.

Not inevitable, she says, that's what we're hearing the rest of the administration. Of course, they have a reason to say that because their policies are sort of underlying here. But she, you know, she was asked about why, for example, in the EU core inflation -- that's when you strip out food and energy -- is much lower than in the United States. Take a listen to what she had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YELLEN: Energy prices spillover is really half of inflation of food and energy. And there are spillovers because energy is an important input into almost everything in the economy. It is true that we've had core inflation over and above that that is too high.


Part of the reason is Russia's war on Ukraine has boosted energy and food prices in the United States and globally. Over time, I certainly expect inflation to come down, and I think it's possible to have that happen in the context of a strong labor market.


SEBASTIAN: It's possible, Isa, but you know, it's not guaranteed. And I think part of it is not only the sort of the way that the Fed raises rates, because we saw the aggressive move last week. But the way they communicate it. We're not talking about inflation itself, we're talking about inflation expectations. Those are at the highest point in the U.S. since 1981.

SOARES: And of course, you know, we've heard quite a lot blame putting put on the war in Ukraine, on Russia's war in Ukraine. But actually, some of these fears were already palpable before the war started. I think it is important to put that in context, too. Let me ask you, speaking of gas prices, what is Germany doing? Because Germany has made some very sudden moves, I think it's fair to say, to try to make sure they're not so dependent on Russian gas here.

SEBASTIAN: Yes, things are getting really real. I mean, we said a couple weeks ago. But now officials things are getting really real for Germany when it comes to the threat of what Russia can do to its gas supplies. The backdrop to what they're doing before I tell you what they're actually doing.

Is that last week Gazprom announced a reduction by about 60 percent of the gas flow through the Nord Stream pipeline. That brings gas to Germany by the Baltic Sea. They say because of technical issues. Germany is saying is political. What Germany is now doing is two things. One, they are firing up mothballed coal plants, that's despite their pledge to cut out coal completely by 2030. But later in some other European countries, it should be noted. And they are also trying to incentivizing industry to use less gas. It's really significant against their climate goals. And also, something we've been talking all along, this isn't just about supply when it comes to reducing reliance on Russian gas, I have to reduce the amount.

SOARES: Is it the coal that's temporary? Is this a measure that's temporary? Well, what is the government saying? They're talking about credentials, too.

SEBASTIAN: Right, they're saying it's a transitional measure, transitional period. And of course, the person who announced it was Robert Habeck, who is the Vice Chancellor, himself a member of the Green Party. He said this was, you know, a bitter situation, is the way he put it

SOARES: Clare Sebastian, thank you very much.

Well, Russia's war is prompting a historic shift in European security. NATO set to host a meeting in the coming hours on its expansion. Last month, if you remember, Sweden and Finland set aside decades of neutrality and formally applied to join NATO. But Turkey already a member, has raised security concerns about the other two countries, accusing them of harboring Kurdish terrorist groups. CNN's Nina dos Santos joins me now and she's been monitoring the story right from day one. So, Nina, what can we expect to come out of the meeting? What kind of assurance is Ankara looking for here?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the fact that they're all getting around the table is certainly a step in the right direction, Isa. Considering as Ankara staunchly rejected various offers by NATO over the last few weeks to try and get its diplomats to meet face to face with Finland and also Sweden. Instead, Ankara had been saying that they were holding out for concrete proposals about what the Nordic nations were planning to do to stamp out Kurdish terrorists that they claim, Ankara claims are either operating or enjoy sympathies in these two Nordic countries.

This is a particular issue for Sweden. Because Sweden is home to an estimated 100,000 Kurds. That's almost 1 percent of the kingdom's entire population, and there's a lot of sympathy for their cause over there. Ankara's ire really appears to be focused on a couple things. One, on perceived support especially from Sweden for Kurdish separatists that were operating in northern Syria. But they claim that those groups also have links to organizations like the Kurdistan Workers' Party or the PKK, which is banned in the EU, in the United States, here in the U.K. and also, coincidentally in Sweden.

Now these are things that Sweden denies, but it is a very delicate balancing act because there are so many people who call Sweden home. Swedish citizens who are actually of Kurdish origin that Ankara has an issue with.

SOARES: And on that point, I know you were in Sweden recently where you met a group of Kurds from Turkey. What do they say about Turkey's blocking really Sweden's accession here?

DOS SANTOS: They're very worried here and there's a real balancing act that the government of Stockholm has to balance very, very finely. Largely because also, it has a very prominent member of the Kurdish community. Amineh Kakabaveh, who was ally to their party and had a crucial vote here. So, this is a situation that is very keenly felt both by Swedes, by the democratic electorate of in particular the constituency of the ruling party that is coming up for elections in three months' time. But also, by Kurds who can vote in Sweden as Swedish citizens, and they feel they might get sold out along the way here, if you like.

Ankara has reportedly demanded the extradition of dozens of Swedish citizens including the aforementioned MP of the Swedish Parliament I mentioned before. [04:10:00]

And it's one of these situations where even though these people aren't actually Kurdish -- Turkish citizens, the fact that they might in some way, Ankara says, have some allegiance to Kurdish separatists, represent a security threat from Turkey's point of view, they say. And all of these kind of negotiations on that legal side are going on behind closed doors.

But what analysts say might actually be happening is that the Kurdish community, particularly in Sweden, Isa, is getting caught in a bigger game, one that can involve bigger geopolitical sessions that Turkey might be after. Say ending an arms embargo or perhaps even getting the rights to be back of a fighter plane contract that the United States has that it froze Turkey out of when it bought Russian weaponry a few years ago. So, there's a bigger game to play. And many Kurds in Sweden feel that they've been caught in the middle without much of a say -- Isa.

SOARES: I know you'll keep us on this meeting. Our Nina dos Santos there. Thanks very much, Nina.

Well, right now, EU foreign ministers are meeting to discuss the looming food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. Russian blockades in key Ukraine imports have trapped millions of tons of grain inside the country and the U.N. says the overall impact of Russia's war is putting some 49 million people worldwide at risk of famine. Listen to how EU foreign minister Josep Borrell describes the situation.


JOSEP BORRELL, EU HIGH REP. FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: One cannot imagine, one cannot imagine that millions of tons of wheat remain blocked in Ukraine while the rest of the world, people are suffering hunger. This is a real war crime. So, I cannot imagine that this will last much longer.


SOARES: Josep Borrell there calling it a war crime. Well, today's meeting comes as Ukraine hopes to take another step toward its bid to join the EU. The European Council will meet later this week to discuss whether to back Ukraine's candidacy. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns Moscow could respond by ramping up attacks.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We should expect greater hostile activity from Russia, purposefully, demonstratively this week exactly, and not only against Ukraine, but also against other European countries. We are preparing. We are ready. We warn partners.


SOARES: Well, those warning from President Zelenskyy comes as fierce fighting continues in the eastern city of Severodonetsk. Critical, of course, to Russia's push to take control of the wider, of course, Donbas region. And we are also getting a look at the moment, Russian forces seize control of Lyman, about 60 kilometers west of Severodonetsk. This video you're looking at from a Russian soldier's body cam shows troops moving past destroyed buildings before entering the local government building and making their way to the roof.

Well, Russian forces may have retreated from Ukraine's capital weeks ago, shifting, of course, their focus to the east. But officials say they left thousands of unexploded munitions in their wake. Our Salma Abdelaziz spoke to some of Ukrainian troops working to neutralize the threat.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): In a wooded area on the outskirts of the capital, Ukrainian soldiers have set up a bomb disposal site to gather and destroy unexploded ordinance. Leftovers of Russia's invasion dropped on neighborhoods and scattered across suburbs that can kill and maim civilians long after retreat.

We find explosive remnants practically everywhere, he says. Inside homes, in people's yards, we find a lot on the roads, really everywhere.

More than 43,000 explosive devices have already been neutralized in the Kyiv region. But there are still hundreds of square miles that need to be surveyed and cleared, local officials say. It is dangerous work.

There is a saying, only fools are not afraid, he says. We must always be careful. We must realize that any step can be our last.

During the disposal process, we witnessed those risks.

ABDELAZIZ: So, what's just happened is one of the unexploded ordinances started smoking and we were all told to pull back to here. They're going to check by drone and make a decision as to what they do next.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Once it's safe, the soldiers get back to work, carefully placing the munitions in a dugout. They rigged a detonation cord and then moved back to a firing position.

ABDELAZIZ: This is just a fraction of what needs to be destroyed. Ukrainian officials tell us it could take five to ten years before the country is clear.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): Hazards of war that lie in wait, even after the guns fall silent.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, on the outskirts of Kyiv.


SOARES: Well, it's been nearly four months since Russia invaded Ukraine causing millions of people to flee their home to escape the conflict.


The U.N. has now recorded more than 7.7 million border crossings from Ukraine, and another 7.1 million people are displaced within the country. While most people initially crossed into neighboring Poland, if you remember, many have moved on to other European countries or even different parts of the world. In Egypt, a small group of Ukrainians have formed a community of their own in a resort town of the Red Sea. For one family, their trip started as a ten-day vacation. The day they were scheduled to go home, Russia launched its invasion.


OLEKSANDR GOLOVKIN, UKRAINIAN CITIZENS STUCK IN EGYPT: My wife was an insurance agent. I'm a general manager at a Porsche dealership in Kharkiv. So, we had some great jobs there, and we're on a trip here for 15 February for ten days for holidays. So those ten days last for 100 days at the moment.


SOARES: Just one of so many lives dependent, of course. If you want to safely, as well as securely help people in Ukraine who may be in need of shelter, food and water, please go to and there you will find several ways that you can help.

Still to come right here on the show, a dangerous heat wave across the globe is fueling wildfires from the U.S. East Coast to deserts of the Southwest. We'll have the latest warnings as well as forecasts. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.


SOARES: Authorities in El Paso, Texas, and migrant rescues along the U.S./Mexico border are up. They are warning the sweltering summer heat will make the journey more dangerous for people trying to cross the desert and dangerous bodies of water. Officials say there have been at least eight deaths in the span of just a week in a canal running along the international border.

Well, parts of Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. are getting ready to reopen this week, but with, of course, limitations. To make sure the south loop doesn't get overwhelmed by visitors, the park says it will use an alternating license plate system. Vehicle with license plates ending with an odd numbers can visit on odd days of the month and vehicles with license plates ending with an even number, including zero, can enter on even days. And these precautions come after record rainfall caused devastating flooding in the park and surrounding towns -- if you remember last week. Experts say at one point the Yellowstone River swelled to its highest level -- and get this -- more than 100 years.

Well, millions of people across India and Bangladesh are now stranded due to what authorities are calling the worst flooding in the region in nearly two decades. Officials say the rains and landslides have killed dozens of people. Both countries have activated thousands of their police as well as army personnel to help with search and rescue efforts. Many areas are without power and transportation is difficult. Officials say the situation could deteriorate even further with more rain in the forecast.

Well, let's get more on these extreme weather events with CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Good morning, Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Isa. Yes, the flooding concerns across portions of India and Bangladesh have been pretty impressive here when you look at exactly what has played out, an incredible 970 millimeters for almost 40 inches of rainfall that's come down in the span of 24 hours. That is more than what Seattle would get in an entire year. They're seeing in the span of 24 hours and three-day totals pushing to about 2,500 millimeters or almost 100 inches in the span of three days. This is one of the wettest spots on our planet. And the monsoonal moisture is firmly in place across this region. The Calcutta area and points just to the north of near Bangladesh.

But notice, we are kind of trailing where we should be this time of year. On June 20th, the progression of the monsoon should be a little further towards the north. So at least four that western periphery of India, it is staying a little dryer than they expect this time of year.

But notice this. Talking about the United States with excessive heat, it has been a long-going -- long duration event with century mark widespread across portions of the United States. Records fell by the wayside this weekend. Memphis is 100 degree reading, bested a record, tied a record from the 1800s. And parts of seven states spanning for about 9 million Americans across the northern tier of the U.S., underneath another round of heat alerts where as many as 100 records could be expected. And really does expand farther beyond that region as we go in towards the middle portion and the latter portion of this coming week.

Look at Chicago, 96 degrees on Monday, 82 what is normal this time of year. Notice 101 is what we expect come Tuesday afternoon. Minneapolis similar sort of a trend were at 20 degrees above average. And even into the southern United States, temps once again rising back up to almost 100 degrees towards the latter portion of the week. So, this heat dome does want to expand farther and farther over the next several days and really spread this heat away from where it has been centered over the last several days.

Salt Lake City, 73 degrees. Seattle a cool 68 is what we expect over the next few days.

But here we go. Across Europe also watching big-time heat where as many as 200 plus record temperatures were observed on Saturday alone across large areas of France. And notice even a 40-degree observation, that's 40 degree Celsius or 104 Fahrenheit. The earliest such reading, Isa, across this region of France. And of course, summer officially gets underway this time tomorrow -- the summer solstice. So, still 24 hours away from summer and watching historic heat build across a large part of the United States and Europe.

SOARES: Thanks very much, Pedram. Very hot indeed. Well, those dry as well as windy conditions are really fueling this wildfire near Atlantic City in New Jersey. The blaze more than doubled in size on Sunday. Scorching more than 2,100 acres, and more than 800 hectares. Firefighters have it about 20 percent or so contained. Authorities urge residents not to fly drones in the area because that interferes, of course, with efforts to put out the blaze. Conditions are expected, though, to improve later today. So, we'll stay on top of that for you.

Well, across the country a wildfire in Arizona has ballooned to more than 20,000 acres or more than 8,000 hectares.


Authorities urge residents to consider voluntarily evacuating. The Contreras fire is roughly 40 miles southwest of Tucson and it's about 40 percent or so contained. The blaze damaged several buildings, an astronomical observatory, fortunately none of those were part of the scientific operations.

And just ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM, French voters delivered disappointing results for President Macron's centrist coalition. We'll have a report from Paris just ahead.


SOARES: Welcome to the show, everyone. Well, the next hearing of the January 6 committee is set for Tuesday. It will focus on Donald Trump's efforts to pressure state officials to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Georgia election officials Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling will testify. The panel will also hear from Arizona Republican House Speaker. The committee will also examine Trump's involvement in a scheme to submit fake slates to electors. Two panel members discussed the growing cause for criminal prosecution. Have a listen.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I certainly think the president is guilty of knowing what he did, seditious conspiracy, being involved in these, you know, kind of different segments of pressuring DOJ, vice president, et cetera. I think what we're presenting before the American people certainly would rise to a level of criminal involvement by a president.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): There needs to be accountability. If you allow impunity for attempts at unconstitutional seizures of power, which is what a coup is, then you're inviting it again in the future.


SOARES: Well, CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz has more for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: This week we're going to see another aspect of Donald Trump trying to manipulate the laws to take the election.