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Trump Repeats False Election Claims as He Eyes 2024 Bid; Ukraine: Russia Launches New Strikes Against Key Cities; Ukraine Trying to Claw Back Land in South, Retake Kherson; Pope's Apology Falls Short, Indigenous Leaders Say; China Vows Forceful Measures if Pelosi Goes to Taiwan. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 27, 2022 - 04:30   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Christina Macfarlane in London. Here's an update of our top stories this hour.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland says prosecuting the former President Donald Trump for his role in the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol is not out of the question. This as the "Washington Post" reports that the Justice Department is now looking directly at Trump's actions to overturn the 2020 election.

And in the coming hours the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to hike it's benchmark interest rates once again in an effort to cool off high inflation fueling recession fears. That's after a key consumer spending report on Tuesday showed confidence in the U.S. economy has dropped.

With more and more Americans unhappy with the state of the economy, President Biden's approval ratings are plummeting and a new CNN poll now finds three quarters of Democratic and Democratic leaning voters want the party to nominate somebody other than Mr. Biden in the next election, a sharp increase from earlier this year.

While in the Republican Party a similar story is playing out, the majority of Republican and Republican leaning voters now say that they don't want Donald Trump to be their party's presidential nominee in 2024 with 55 percent saying that they want a different candidate. But the former president and his former V.P., Mike Pence are both eyeing the 2024 presidential race. They were in Washington on Tuesday giving speeches at separate events. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has the details.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former President Donald Trump returned to Washington for the first time since leaving office and picked up right where he left off.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ran for president. I won, and I won a second time, did much better the second time, did a lot better. ZELENY (voice-over): What began as a policy speech about crime, immigration and the border devolved into a litany of familiar Trump grievances as he inches ever closer to launching another bid for the White House.

TRUMP: What a disgrace it was but we may just have to do it again. We have to straighten out our country. We have to straighten out our country.

ZELENY (voice-over): The former president blasted the work of the congressional committee examining his role in the January 6th attack, even amid new signs the Justice Department is intensifying its own investigation.

TRUMP: Never forget everything this corrupt establishment is doing to me is all about preserving their power and control over the American people. They want to damage you in any form, but they really want to damage me so I can no longer go back to work for you, and I don't think that's going to happen.

ZELENY (voice-over): While Trump seized on the nation's rising crime rates and repeatedly praised the efforts of police, he made no mention of the brutality endured by scores of officers at the Capitol as he sought to cling power after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden.

The stark choices facing Republicans were laid bare as he shared the day's spotlight with former Vice President Mike Pence who implored Republicans in a speech only hours earlier to turn the page.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Now, some people may choose to focus on the past, but elections are about the future. And I believe conservatives must focus on the future to win back America.

ZELENY (voice-over): The dueling speeches offered competing visions for the GOP with Pence suggesting it was time to look forward, not back.

PENCE: In order to win, conservatives need to do more than criticize and complain. We must unite our movement behind a bold, optimistic agenda.

ZELENY (voice-over): While Trump has appeared at countless rallies since leaving office, the speech tonight served as a loud rebuttal to months of testimony from people who served in his own White House about what he did and didn't do on the January 6th attack.

TRUMP: They're doing the exact same thing with January 6th as they did with all these previous assaults on our country. So, where does it stop, where does it end? It probably doesn't stop, because despite great outside dangers, our biggest threat, this country remains the sick, sinister and evil people from within.

ZELENY: So even though the speech was designed to be a policy address as he inches closer to announcing whether he'll run for president, it simply was effectively a rebuttal to the months of testimony and reporting from the January 6 committee. The former president has been very angry that his side in his words

have not gotten out, so he came to Washington again the first time since he left office to effectively rebut the entire process. He compared it to the Russia investigation saying it's simply a hoax. The reality is though the investigation from the Department of Justice is deepening into his involvement in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. So simply a speech will not take that away.


But one thing was clear, very different paths for the Republican Party that we heard from the former president and the former vice president.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.


MACFARLANE: Russia has launched a series of new strikes against Ukraine. The latest appear to be targeting the town in Donetsk in the east. And two missiles hit an industrial district of Kharkiv earlier this morning according to the city's mayor. He says rescuers are already on site sorting through the rubble.

Meanwhile, Ukraine says Russia is sending additional troops to bolster its positions in the south of the country. Videos posted online geolocated by CNN show heavy military equipment on the move. The Kremlin denies deploying any extra forces.

But to slow that likely advance, Ukraine confirms that it's striking a major bridge used by Russia to send reinforcements to occupied Kherson, that's some of the lost territory that Ukrainian forces are trying to regain. And if they succeed it could change the course of the war. CNN Ivan Watson has the details.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Scenes from Ukraine Southern front during the first months of the war. Footage shared exclusively with CNN shows Ukrainian Senior Lieutenant Andrii Pidlisnyi hiding in shell craters, flying a drone to call in artillery strikes on Russian positions.

But the team of spotters also narrowly escaped long range fire from the Russian military. Months after filming these videos Pidlisnyi is still fighting on the southern front.

WATSON: Were the Russians in this village before?


WATSON (voice over): The Ukrainian military is fighting to claw back territory seized by what this commander describes as well-prepared Russians.

SR. LT. ANDRII PIDLISNYI, UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES: It's very slow, the process to take back all of our territories. But step by step and with the help of Western guns, vehicles and so on, artillery systems, we do that.

WATSON (voice-over): This month, my team and I traveled the length of the southern front from the critical ports of Odessa to the edge of the Donbas region. I spoke to people willing to risk their lives against the Russian war machine.

In the city of Khryiv Rih, Ukrainian forces stormed a building. It's actually a training exercise to prepare these men for one of the most dangerous forms of modern warfare urban combat.

The commander here was gravely wounded pushing Russian-backed separatists out of cities in the eastern Donbas region in 2014.

We have a duty to liberate our territories, he says. This is our land and we will not give it to anyone.

That confident shared by a regiment of frontline troops in eastern Ukraine. They show off recently arrived British made Land Rovers and this armored personnel carrier.

WATSON: I just noticed something. Take a look over here at this tire. Made in Russia.

This was Russian.

VILNYI, AZO KYIV REGIMENT: It was a Russian car. But our soldiers fighter him and take this car.

WATSON: They captured (INAUDIBLE).

WATSON (voice over): But the war is taking a dreadful toll here. Day and night Russian rockets, S300 surface to air missiles repurpose to strike ground targets pound the frontline city of Mykolaiv. And more appear to be on the way. Ukrainian resistance groups shared this exclusive footage with CNN taken just days ago showing the arrival of a train full of missiles in the occupied southern Kherson region.

Later confirmed by these satellite images provided to CNN by Maxar. But with the help of U.S. long range rockets known as HIMARS, Ukraine has been targeting Russian ammunition depots. Senior Lieutenant Pidlisnyi says he noticed a difference on the frontlines.

PIDLISNYI: We had about two or three weeks when they haven't enough ammunition to fight us.

WATSON (voice-over): Still, he predicts it will take a long time for Ukraine to win the war in the South.

PIDLISNYI: I'm not sure that we will win until the end of this year. Maybe to the end of next year.

WATSON (voice-over): Before I go, Pidlisnyi shows me captured Russian passports and driver's licenses.

WATSON: When did you capture this?

PIDLISNYI: About some weeks ago.

WATSON (voice over): Russian men ranging from 22 to 41 years old who Pidlisnyi speculates are now dead.

WATSON: They look like you.

PIDLISNYI: Yes, they look like me.

WATSON: They have similar names.


PIDLISNYI: Yes. But they are our enemies. I'm standing in my territory and they came to me to capture our territory to kill me, to kill maybe my parents.

WATSON (voice-over): This is what Ukrainians are fighting for.


WATSON (on camera): Now, Christina, another development here on the southern front, both Ukrainian and Russian occupation officials are confirming Ukrainian strikes on a strategic bridge, the Antonivskyi Bridge, which is essential for reinforcing and resupplying Russian troops in that Russian-occupied city of Kherson in the south of this country. The strikes taking place overnight.

It's not the first time that this bridge was hit by Ukrainian long range rockets and in fact it is part of a broader strategy that the Ukrainians have had to strike other bridges that are essential across the Dnipro River to try to slow resupply potentially coming from Russia to the Russian occupied south.

And when it comes to capturing territory, the moves that the Ukrainians are making forward, we are hearing about a village here, a village there where the Ukrainians are advancing but it is not easy work as one front line commander put it. Even after a couple villages are captured, there can still be deadly ambushes carried out by Russian soldiers and losses as a result. So, it is really a grind to try to push these well entrenched Russian forces back by the Ukrainian military -- Christina.

MACFARLANE: Yes, Ivan, thanks very much for that update and for that report. That's Ivan Watson there live from Odessa.

Russia says it's planning to pull out of the International Space Station after 2024, a move that would end more than two decades of partnership with the U.S. and other countries. Some believe it's just a threat while others say it shows the financial toll of Western sanctions on Moscow. NASA says it hasn't officially been notified by Russia but it's already working on contingency plans.

All right, just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, the Pope again acknowledges the suffering of indigenous Canadians at schools run by the Catholic Church. But for some, the apologies are falling short.



MACFARLANE: Welcome back. Pope Francis is about to start the fourth day of his Canadian trip. He'll be traveling to Quebec in a few hours where he will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other Canadian officials. Although the Pope has publicly apologized several times for the suffering of the indigenous Canadians that they faced at schools run by the Catholic Church, some indigenous leaders say those apologies don't go far enough.

For more on this story, I'm joined by senior Vatican analyst John Allen in Rome. He's also the editor of the Catholic oriented news website Crux. John, the Pope's apology this week, or apologies, have been considered by many to be thorough and heartfelt, but did he fail to acknowledge the church's full role in these residential schools?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Hi there Christina. Well, look, I'm not indigenous, and so, you know, I think that it is up to the indigenous to assess whether the Pope went far enough. And it's worth noting there are more than 600 different indigenous groups in Canada, 50 nations, 50 different languages. They don't all speak with one voice. It'll take some time to sort out how this has played.

But if the issue is, is the apology by itself enough, I think that Pope Francis would be the first to say of course it isn't. I mean, this is Catholic theology 101. That to be forgiven, you don't have to just apologize, you have to show what's called a firm purpose of amendment. That is change your behavior. And that I think is what most indigenous are looking for. Has the church truly turned over a new leaf.

The acid tests there would be is the church going to do everything it can to open up its archives to get to the truth of what happened to these indigenous children who were ripped out of their families and placed in these residential schools. And are they going to make a real commitment to financial reparations trying to do justice to the survivors, their families, their heirs. That's the lens through which indigenous people -- if you're looking at that -- if those things happen, Christina, my prediction would be that most indigenous will look at that apology as heartfelt and historically significant.

If those things don't happen, then they're going to be saying this was a hollow PR exercise and unfortunately whether that is going to happen is not a question we can answer today -- Christina.

MACFARLANE: Yes, at the very least the Pope has said he will promise to fully investigate what happened. So, we will wait to see if anything comes from that. John Allen live from Rome, thanks very much, John.

OK, still to come on CNN NEWSROOM. Talk of a potential visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan has China on edge. Why it's causing such a controversy, next.


MACFARLANE: Tensions are running high between the U.S. and China amid talks of a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. U.S. officials are working to convince Pelosi of the diplomatic risks of her potential trip. Sources familiar with Pelosi's plans say she's invited both Democrats and Republicans to accompany her. And now Beijing is warning of serious consequences if the Speaker goes ahead with the visit. CNN's Selina Wang has the details.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Beijing is furious over a potential trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan. Beijing has said that it would take resolute and powerful measures if Pelosi were to visit. And just yesterday China's Defense Department urged the U.S. to cancel Pelosi's visit.

The departments spokesperson said, quote: If the U.S. insists on taking its own course, the Chinese military will never sit idly by and it will definitely take strong actions to thwart any external force's interference and separatist schemes for Taiwan interference and definitely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Now is impossible to overstate just how important Taiwan is to the Communist Party and its legitimacy. China sees the self-ruled island as a breakaway province that must be reunified with the mainland. Beijing is against any loop that appears to acknowledge Taiwan as an independent country or makes the U.S. relationship more formal.

There have been recent U.S. Congressional visits but if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, she would be the highest official to go there since then House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997. And the timing of this potential visit comes at an extremely sensitive time. China's military is celebrating its founding anniversary on August 1. We're just months away from a key political meeting when Xi Jinping is expected to seek an impressive third term.

And some experts say this increases the chances that China will overreact and take rash action to avoid looking weak at this critical moment. U.S. officials have told CNN that China could impose a no-fly zone around China, a prominent hawkish voice in the country has said Beijing's reaction would involve a quote, shocking military response.

Some experts say a visit could further compromise Taiwan security. And notable is that in Taiwan, media coverage of this trip has been muted. In fact, on Tuesday, Taiwan's foreign ministry reiterated that it has no information on the potential visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Now on the other hand, important here is that the Chinese government has not announced any details about how it could retaliate. Other experts have told me that this is by design. The point is that the uncertainty will lead Pelosi to back out, but that Xi Jinping does not actually want to and is not ready to risk a military conflict at a time when stability is so critical.

Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


MACFARLANE: Now to Major League Baseball and what is known as the subway series.


New York rivals the Mets and Yankees faced off at Citi Field. But despite this homer from Yankee slugger Aaron Judge, the Mets who lead the National League east got the win. The final score 6-3.

And the defending World Series champs the Atlanta Braves paid a visit to Philadelphia after losing the series opener. The Braves roared back with a 6-3 victory. It was the 500th career for Braves manager Brian Snitker. The final game of the series is later today.

Meanwhile in the U.K., England's women's football defeated Sweden 4- nil on Tuesday in their Euro 2022 semifinal match. That means the Lionesses are just one match away from winning the championship on home soil. The match was scoreless the first 34 minutes before England began their goal scoring onslaught. England will play in the championship match next Sunday against the winner of the France/Germany semifinal that's set for later today.

And in American football, Aaron Rodgers arrived at the Green Bay Packers training camp looking like a leading man. Well, one leading man in particular. The team shared this slow motion video of their star quarterback on Tuesday. And the internet lit up with many users saying that Rodgers was channeling his inner Nick Cage.


NICHOLAS CAGE, ACTOR: It's not exactly Mike Tyson out here, let's do it.


MACFARLANE: The stubble, white tank top, blue jeans, long hair all made iconic by Nick Cages' character Cameron Poe in the classic '90s action blockbuster Con Air. Even the NFL got this on the fun. Tweeting the image of the reigning league MVP. Fantastic.

And you know, people are going to be standing in long lines like this one in dozens of states across the U.S. today to buy lottery tickets. All hoping they'll be the next winner of the Mega Millions jackpot. The top prize surged to just over $1 billion after no ticket matched all the winning numbers on Tuesday night's drawing. That is set to be the third largest Mega Millions prize in the game's 20 year history. The next drawing is on Friday. Get your tickets people.

That does it for this edition of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Christina MacFarlane in London. Stay with us "EARLY START" with Christine Romans is up next.