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Biden And Xi To Speak Amid Taiwan Tensions; Biden Administration Offers Russian Arms Dealer For Griner And Whelan; Blinken And Lavrov To Speak For First Time Since Ukraine War; After New Premier Was Named, Protest Erupted in Iraq; Federal Reserve Hikes Interest Rates, U.S. Stocks Soar; Pope Francis' "Pilgrimage of Penance" in Canada; Pres. Biden Back to Work After Negative COVID Test; Monkeypox Outbreak 2022. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 28, 2022 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead. A bold prisoner swap offer. The Biden administration willing to give up a major Russian arms dealer for two Americans including WNBA star Brittney Griner, but will most go except the deal.

Phases of war there are scars from the battlefield, and many tears shed from the six million refugees who have fled Ukraine. We're live in Lviv with the efforts to ease their pain.

Plus, the U.S. and China on a knife's edge over Taiwan ahead of a phone call today between the country's leaders.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: And thanks for being with us. An infamous arms dealer dubbed the merchant of death could soon be set free if Russia agrees to a prisoner swap. The dealings apparently underway for weeks have all been very hush-hush. But if the Kremlin gets on board two Americans detained in Russia could finally be released. Basketball star Brittney Griner held since February on drug charges and ex-marine Paul Whelan who is serving a 16-year sentence for alleged espionage.

Sources say that in exchange for their freedom, the Biden administration is offering up Viktor Bout who was once one of the world's most wanted men. The former Soviet military officer was convicted of selling military grade weapons to terrorist groups committed to killing Americans. He's now serving 25 years in a U.S. prison. Bout has long maintained his innocence and Russia has long called for his release. But so far there's no indication Moscow will agree to the deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There is in my mind, utility in conveying clear, direct messages to the Russians on key priorities for us. And as I mentioned, these include securing the return home of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

JOHN KIRBY, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: The president and his team are willing to take extraordinary steps to bring our people home, as we've demonstrated with Trevor Reed, and that's what we're doing right here. It's actively happening now. This has been the top of the mind for the president and for his whole national security team.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, Brittney Griner took the stand on Wednesday for the first time in her criminal trial. The two-time Olympic gold medalist said she had no intention of breaking Russian law and unintentionally brought cannabis into the country after "stress packing." CNN's Claie Sebastian is following all these developments for us. She joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Clare.

So this offer of a prisoner swap was actually made last month, so the U.S. is still waiting for a response from Russia or what is the latest on all this?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary. I think that is one of the striking elements here. The time lag between the offer being put on the table which according to a senior administration official was back in June. And now with the rare decision to make this public. This is very unusual. Usually these kinds of negotiations for something as sensitive as a prisoner swap would be happening behind closed doors.

But perhaps this is one of the ways that the U.S. hopes to advance the process towards some kind of agreement with Russia. Another way that it hopes to do that is that Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that he expects to speak with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in the coming days about this and also about a grain deal that has been negotiated between Russia and Ukraine and international partners.

This would be the first time that the two men have spoken since the start of the war in Ukraine. So, that clearly signals that the U.S. is serious about this and wants to make a deal. However, on the Russian side. The Kremlin isn't commenting on this yet. There was a comment that was given to CNN by the foreign ministry spokeswoman who said that they haven't heard anything about this call officially except from the media.


And she basically accused the US of using a quote megaphone to conduct what she said should be normal diplomatic practices. So not a lot coming from the Russian side. Certainly no indication that they're ready to accept this, but it really would. It is what the U.S. calls a substantial offer. It really is a big prize for Russia. This is a man who is accused of prolific arms smuggling over a number of years. Supplying arms to some of the world's most violent conflict zones in places like Africa. He was arrested in an elaborate U.S. sting operation in 2008. He was jailed in 2012 in the U.S. and is about halfway through a-25 year sentence. So, a big prize and this is why you see a sort of two for one offer that Viktor Bout is being offered in exchange for two U.S. citizens simply because he is such a high- profile figure and was such a prolific criminal in the eyes of the U.S., Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. Clare Sebastian joining us live from London. Many thanks.

David Sanger is a CNN political and national security analyst. He joins me now from San Diego, California. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: Now, according to CNN sources, the Biden ministration is offering Moscow convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. An offer apparently made weeks ago. So, how likely is it that Vladimir Putin will accept this exchange now that the ball is apparently in his court?

SANGER: Well, Rosemary, you'd have to think that if he was really planning to take it, he would have taken it by now. Perhaps he was waiting for Miss Griner, the convicted and sentenced. But getting Viktor Bout of American prison, you would think would be a pretty high priority for President Putin. And so, it's a little bit surprising he didn't take it yet. Perhaps he is insisting and I don't know this for a fact but if there would be two Americans released that he would want to Russians released.

But obviously Viktor Bout is a -- is a huge figure, the arms dealer to many of the world's terrorists.

CHURCH: Right. And Sources tell CNN that this prisoner exchange plan received the backing of President Joe Biden overriding opposition from the Department of Justice which opposes prisoner swaps because of concerns it encourages or could encourage countries like Russia to detain Americans and use them as political pawns. So, is this a wise exchange? And is it the only possible way that Griner and Whelan will ever be released from prison in Russia?

SANGER: Well, it may be the only way. We don't know what else the Russians may have up their sleeve or whatever the Russians may be arrested in the United States in the future, but it might be the best deal for now. The Justice Department as you know doesn't like these except in cases, exchanges of spies versus spies. But in this case, none of them involve are spies, not Briner, not Whelan, and not even Viktor Bout who was the arms dealer to many terrorist organizations.

So, I think the big question is, is this deal as proposed by Washington enough? Or is it reasonably haven't heard back from the Russians that they're holding out for more, that they want more than just Viktor Bout perhaps other Russians were in American jails? CHURCH: And U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will apparently discuss this prisoner swap with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In a phone call this week, in the hope of course of bringing a Griner and Whelan home. What are the possible scenarios here, given this offer, as you point out was made last month and nothing has happened so far?

SANGER: Well, I think that President Biden is under increasing pressure to do something in these two cases. The Griner case and the Whelan case. Of course, as soon as he does, he will be under pressure. In other cases, including many that don't involve Russia, but we have detained journalists, political prisoners, dissidents, business people around the world. What will be interesting to see about the Lavrov call with Secretary of State Blinken.

First of all, whether Lavrov himself has the authority to negotiate. He wasn't really aware of the plans to invade Ukraine until hours or days before it happened. It's not clear how much influence he has with Vladimir Putin.

CHURCH: So, David, if this prisoner swap does go ahead, it's clearly a very delicate situation.


SANGER: How do they do this? What is the process when it comes to exchanging these prisoners?

SANGER: It's a really good question. I mean, in the Cold War, we had a system for exchanging spies, you know, in eastern and west Berlin, you know, right across a bridge. You've seen in the movies and so forth. In this kind of case, we probably have to pick a neutral country, like Switzerland or some other place where the exchange could take place.

CHURCH: David Sanger, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

SANGER: Great to be with you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, meanwhile, Griner's WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury tweeted out this photo. Teammates are holding signs that rebring Brittany home. The caption, 160 days, this is the only message that matters with the hashtag we are B.G.

And a few hours ago the WNBA Players Association wrote Dear B.G., it's early in Moscow, our day is ending and yours is just beginning. Not a day, not an hour goes by that you're not on our minds and in our hearts.

Well, it is just after 9:00 a.m. in Ukraine and several key regions are assessing the damage from a series of overnight Russian strikes. Ukrainian officials say the capital region was hit along with Chernihiv and Kharkiv in the Northeast. Powerful explosions were also heard in the southern city of Mykolayiv.

Meantime, the fight to control the Eastern Donetsk region continues to intensify with the town of Bakhmut under relentless Russian shelling. Ukrainian officials say they have managed to repel some of the attacks. Meantime, Ukraine is accusing Russia of staging attacks from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. A local mayor says Russia is using the facility like a fortress safe from Ukrainian fire because of fears of damaging the planet.

Now that comes as U.S. warns that Russia will soon make moves to annex Ukrainian territory that it's occupied.


BLINKEN: Here's what we expect to see next. Russia installed leaders will hold sham referendums to manufacture the fiction that the people in those places want to join Russia. Then, they'll use those false votes to claim that the annexation of these regions is legitimate. We must and we will act quickly to make clear to Russia that these tactics will not work.


CHURCH: Even as fighting rages, Ukraine is moving closer to resuming grain exports that will help ease a global food crisis. It has restarted work at Black Sea ports to prepare for shipments under a deal with Russia that was signed in Turkey last week. Turkey is facilitating the process by opening a new center to coordinate the export of millions of tons of Ukrainian grain. The Turkish defense minister says the facility has a special meaning for the whole world.

And CNN's Nada Bashir joins us -- joins us now from Istanbul. So, Nada, the deal is moving forward. But there are concerns out there about whether it will hold. What more are you learning about this and how the green will get out?

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: That's right, Rosemary. Over the last few days, we have heard concerns from some of Turkey's international partners over the viability of this agreement. And that's all centered around the fact that we saw that Russian attack on the port of Odesa just a day after the deal was signed here in Istanbul on Friday. But despite that, we heard from representatives from both the Turkish government and the United Nations yesterday at the opening of that Joint Coordination Center telling us that they remain confident that all parties of this agreement will remain committed to the framework outlined in the deal.

And it has become really urgent at this point for these parties. But of course, you've heard from the U.S., we've heard from the U.K. suggesting perhaps other alternative methods to get that grain out of Ukraine. But the message we've been hearing repeatedly from the United Nations, from the World Food Program is that there simply isn't much time left and that grain needs to be exported urgently in order to ease the pressures of this global food crisis which has left millions facing stages of acute hunger.

So there are real concerns and there is real pressure on the Turkish government now to ensure that this deal can succeed that this will be a viable framework to allow those grain exports to finally leave Ukraine southern Black Sea port.


And as we saw yesterday at the opening of this Joint Coordination Center they have already manage to bring together representatives from both Russia and Ukraine to work together at this Joint Coordination Center in order to ensure the safe passage. The question now is whether or not that will actually take place in practical terms. But of course, we did see yesterday the opening of that center to much fanfare and there are real hopes that this will last. Take a look.


BASHIR (voice over): A landmark agreement now ready to be enacted. Delegations from both Russia and Ukraine brought together again in Istanbul. This time to mark the inaugural meeting of the Joint Coordination Center.

HULUSI AKAR, TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): The duty of the center is to ensure the safety transportation of grain and other supplies to be exported from Ukraine. It has become necessary to establish a sea corridor for the safe delivery of more than 25 million tons of grain waiting in Ukrainian ports to the countries in need in a short period of time.

BASHIR: It's a deal which has taken weeks of negotiation to secure and with the framework set to remain in place for at least four months, the work of this unprecedented collaboration could prove decisive in alleviating some of the pressures of the global food crisis.

BASHIR (on camera): Well, you can see the media storm behind me and that's because this center here, the Joint Coordination Center, is set to be the heartbeat of the Grain Export Initiative, bringing together representatives from Turkey and the United Nations, but crucially from both Russia and Ukraine to oversee the export of grain and other vital agriculture goods through the Black Sea.

The real question now is whether all four parties and in particular, whether the Russian Federation will commit to the framework outlined in this agreement.

BASHIR (voice over): But trust in Russia's intentions on the Black Sea is tenuous. Just a day after the deal was signed in Istanbul on Friday, Russian forces launched the attack on the southern Ukrainian port of Odessa. Raising concerns over the viability of the agreement. Now Ukraine says it's placing its trust in Turkey and the United Nations.

FREDERICK KENNEY, U.N. INTERIM COORDINATOR, BLACK SEA GRAIN INITIATIVE: Well, I can say that all parties here have expressed their commitment to making this initiative reality of getting it operational. I think that's demonstrated by the fact that all parties had a very senior person arrived here on extremely short notice.

BASHIR: Are you confident that Russia will commit given the fact we've already seen an attack? KENNEY: I'm confident that we will -- this will be a successful motion and yes, and we're going to work very hard to make sure that it (INAUDIBLE)

BASHIR: According to the Ukrainian government work is now underway to finalize safe corridors from three of Ukraine's Black sea ports. And with no shortage of urgency around this initiative, officials say the first shipments could leave Ukraine by the end of this week.


BASHIR: I've heard from Turkish officials confirming that they are in touch with their Ukrainian counterparts, that there is preparations underway for those grain exports to leave Ukraine over the coming days. They're hoping by the end of this week, but we heard from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last night. He said that there is a difference between a deal on paper and a deal on practice and all eyes will be waiting to see whether or not Russia follows through with its commitments. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Nada Bashir, thank you so much for bringing us up to date on that critical story. Appreciate it.

Well, the U.S. House speaker may go to Taiwan just as China flexes its military muscle over the island. Now the U.S. and Chinese leaders are set to talk as China fumes over the potential visit. That's just ahead.

Plus, temperatures in China are hot and continue to get hotter. The latest on what residents are doing to keep cool and look at the forecast to see if there's any relief in sight. We're back in just a moment.



CHURCH: A trip that may or may not happen is already raising tensions between the U.S. and China. It's a possible trip to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In the coming hours, the U.S. hopes to better gauge China's reaction to that possible visit after the U.S. and Chinese president speak by phone. The call was in the works before the news about Pelosi's potential trip came out.

But the word of her plan has already infuriated Beijing at the time when it's already turning up military pressure on Taiwan. Pelosi has not confirmed plans for the visit yet. But just in case top American military officials have given her a security assessment of the visit and a security plan is being developed by the head of the U.S. Indo- Pacific Command. Experts are divided on what China's reaction may be if Pelosi makes the trip and many think there will be no military action. CNN's Selina Wang has details.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Taiwan preparing for a possible attack in its annual military drill, as fears of aggression from across the strait grows. That fear coming from fire and fury from Beijing. In response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's potential visit to Taiwan. China threatening to take resolute and powerful measures.

A prominent hawkish voice in China even suggesting shocking military response, saying that PLA military aircraft will accompany Pelosi's plane to enter the island.

SUSAN SHIRK, RESEARCH PROFESSOR AND CHAIR, 21ST CENTURY CHINA CENTER AT UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO: Nancy Pelosi is the third public official in the line of succession. It could notes that we're treating Taiwan more like an independent country.

WANG: And independence is a red line for Beijing. There have been recent U.S. Congressional visits but if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, she would be the highest ranking U.S. official to travel there since then House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

WANG (on camera): This potential visit comes at an extremely sensitive time. China's military is celebrating its founding anniversary on August 1st. And we're just months away from a key political meeting when Xi Jinping is expected to seek an unprecedented third term.

From Beijing's perspective, a potential visit by Pelosi to Taiwan would be a reckless act that provokes Beijing at a time it's supposed to be projecting strength, control and stability.

SHIRK: Having the Pelosi visit come now will make Xi Jinping fear that other people will see this as a humiliation of him. And that will cause him to feel that he has to react very strongly given the overreaching that Xi Jinping has been doing. I don't believe we can count on his good judgment.

WANG (voice over): A U.S. official told CNN China could impose a no- fly zone around Taiwan. But the Chinese government hasn't announced details about how it could retaliate.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's a commitment we made.

WANG: Biden has said several times that the U.S. would intervene militarily if China were to attack Taiwan.

BIDEN: Yes, we have a commitment.

WANG: only to have the White House walk back those remarks each time.

But as China's military might grows, more are calling for the Biden administration to end the so-called strategic ambiguity. It's impossible to overstate 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, even by force if necessary.

And a visit from one of America's most powerful politicians might just get Beijing to push to make a risky move.

Selina Wang, CNN Beijing.



CHURCH: At least 57 Chinese cities have issued their highest heat warning with temperatures expected to top 40 degrees Celsius or 104 Fahrenheit in the next 24 hours. It comes amid a persistent heatwave as the country also struggles to contain rising COVID cases. And for more, we want to go to CNN Beijing Bureau Chief Steven Jiang who joins us now live. Good to see you, Steven. So, how are people coping with the challenge of both high temperatures and COVID now?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, Rosemary, we've been talking about this double whammy, double misery for days or even weeks now. And in terms of the heatwave, in some parts of the country at least we've seen some much needed relief including here in Beijing. It was raining almost the entire day yesterday on Wednesday, so that has brought down temperature here considerably.

But the same cannot be said about other cities -- other cities including Shanghai where they're still dealing with temperatures approaching 40 degrees as the amendatory mass testing is still ongoing in that city. Actually, that city has imposed a new lockdowns as the authorities are dealing with a stubborn new outbreak this time involving four neighborhoods in the northern part of the city.

Many residents there are now being sealed off in their communities for at least a week and many of them actually work in the logistics sector couriers and delivery people. But perhaps more depressingly, we have seen locked down return to Wuhan. The original epicenter of the global pandemic, more than two years after that city was placed under a brutal months-long lockdown. and this time one million residents in one district in Wuhan are being sealed in their homes after just four asymptomatic cases were found in that city.

Now, of course, transportation been shut also, many venues closed. So, this development actually comes after two new findings were just published with international scientists using very different methodologies actually reaching the same conclusion that the earliest human COVID infections actually all had a direct connection to the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. So, it seems for that city, Rosemary, both in terms of lockdowns and in terms of origin tracing, we have come to a full circle. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Steven Jiang, many thanks for joining us and bringing us up to date on that critical story.

Well, the new president of the Philippines is touring the damage from Wednesday's powerful earthquake, as residents are being warned to brace for aftershocks. The 7.0 magnitude quake struck Luzon, the country's most populous island. The government says at least five people were killed and 130 others were hurt. That quake damage hundreds of buildings including 61 schools, buckled roads and bridges and triggered dozens of landslides. Authorities say more than 200 small towns have been affected.

Well, uprooted by five months of war. We will speak with an aid agency looking to provide relief to displaced Ukrainians. We're back with that and more in just a moment.



CHURCH: A political crisis is fueling growing protests on the streets of Baghdad. Hundreds of demonstrators stormed the heavily fortified green zone in the Iraqi capital, Wednesday, and entered the parliament building. They are supporters of nationalist cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr. His entire parliamentary bloc resigned last month over the country's political stalemate. And this week, his rival was nominated to become the next prime minister. Iraq has struggled to form a new government, ever since parliamentary elections last October. Sadr's own attempts to form a government have failed due to opposition from rival blocks.

Well, the Commerce Department will release its latest report on the U.S. economy, in just a few hours from now. And if the gross domestic product shrank for a second straight quarter, that could be a major indication that the country is in a recession. Economists surveyed by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal, are predicting growth of less than one percent. The White House is pointing to falling gas prices, and the lowest unemployment in nearly 50 years as positive economic science.

America's Central Bank has taken another dramatic step to cool rapid inflation here in the United States. The Federal Reserve boosted its benchmark interest rate, Wednesday, by three-quarters of a percentage point for the second straight month. The move will likely mean higher monthly payments on mortgages, car loans, and credit cards.

The Fed is hoping to tame inflation, which rose more than nine percent in June, compared to the same time last year. Chairman Jerome Powell says he doesn't think the U.S. is in a recession, but curbing inflation may also bring some pain.


JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: We are highly attentive to inflation risks, and determined to take the measures necessary to return inflation toward two percent toward our goal. This process is likely to evolve a period of below-trend economic growth, and some softening in labor market conditions. But such outcomes are likely necessary to restore price stability and to set the stage for achieving maximum employment and stable prices over the longer run.


CHURCH: The Fed rate hike was welcome news on Wall Street, with the Dow and Nasdaq each gaining more than 400 points on Wednesday.

Pope Francis will celebrate mass in Quebec City in the coming day, as he continues what the Vatican calls his pilgrimage of penance in Canada. Since Sunday, the Pope has met with multiple indigenous groups, saying he's sorry for the role of Christians played in the abuse of indigenous children at residential schools. Some say his apologies have not gone far enough.

On Wednesday, the pontiff met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mary Simon, Canada's first indigenous Governor General. On Friday, the Pope will be in Northern Canada to meet with Inuit groups before heading back to Vatican City. And we'll be right back.



CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Well, investigations into the efforts to overturn the 2020 elections and the riot at the U.S. Capitol, appear to be gaining steam. On the congressional side, Donald Trump's former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, could be up next for a closed- door deposition with the January 6th Committee. And the Justice Department is reaching out to more former White House officials. CNN's Ryan Nobles has details.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The Department of Justice investigation into the events that led to January 6th, is expanding at a rapid clip.

ALYSSA FARAH, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMS.DIRECTOR: I am aware of other White House officials who have been reached out to by DOJ and are planning to cooperate.

NOBLES (voiceover): Former White House staffer Alyssa Farah telling CNN that DOJ has reached out to more former officials in the Trump White House, beyond just Marc Short and Greg Jacob, two top aides to former Vice President Mike Pence. CNN now learning that Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Trump's chief of staff, is just the latest official from the last administration to start cooperating with the DOJ's criminal investigators.

FARAH: And I think DOJ is keeping an eye on who's coming before January 6th, and who may have helpful information.

NOBLES (voiceover): The news comes at the same time, sources tell "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times", that federal investigators have asked questions specifically about Donald Trump's actions. Suggesting their probe is getting closer to the former president himself, all while a separate State-level investigation is looking at Trump and election interference in Georgia.

NORM EISEN, FMR. HOUSE JUDICIARY SPECIAL COUNSEL IN TRUMP'S FIRST IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: You see a pincers movement on Donald Trump. And perhaps this will be the occasion in which he cannot dodge criminal liability.

NOBLES (voiceover): The public posture of the DOJ is welcome news to the members of the January 6th Select Committee, who have been publicly pleading with federal prosecutors to take action.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE DEMOCRAT: That encourages me, or it solidifies the understanding I've always operated with, which is that the Department of Justice has a vast arsenal of resources at their disposal. These are extremely competent, effective lawyers. They know what they're doing.

NOBLES (voiceover): However, there is no question the political calendar, and a pending presidential announcement by Trump, could complicate their plans. And Trump continues to show no sign he's backing down.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Now we have the January 6th, Unselect Committee of political hacks and thugs.

NOBLES (voiceover): But Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged that nothing, including political pressure, will impede their investigation.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We will hold accountable anyone who is criminally responsible for attempting to interfere with the transfer -- legitimate lawful transfer of power from one administration to the next.

NOBLES: And while there is no doubt that the Department of Justice investigation is expanding, we shouldn't take that to mean that the January 6th Select Committee is wrapping things up. In fact, they have now trained their focus on members of the Trump cabinet. And in particular, the former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Sources telling us, he could sit for a closed-door deposition as soon as this week. And the Committee is centrally focused on conversations related to the 25th amendment after the Capitol riot. Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.


CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden is back at work in person after testing negative for COVID. He'll be tested more frequently, and wear a mask for the next 10 days as a precaution. CNN's MJ Lee reports from the White House.

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden emerged from almost spending a full week in isolation, literally with a pep in his step. He told the American people that he is feeling great after testing negative for COVID. And he, sort of, used himself as the poster child for the progress that the country has made so far in the COVID pandemic.

He talked about the fact that his case was relatively mild, that he recovered quickly. And he said that all of this is thanks to the fact that he had access to vaccines, to boosters, and, of course, treatments.


We know that he took a full course of the antiviral medication Paxlovid. Now, in his remarks at the White House, he urged all other Americans to also take these kinds of precautions. But notably, he said, still a lot of people who do take these precautions are going to test positive for COVID. He said that doesn't mean that you are doing anything wrong.

Now, we also heard President Biden refer back to his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, in recalling when he tested positive for COVID back in October of 2020, and he said that that was a very, very different time. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Here's the bottom line, when my predecessor got COVID, he had to get helicoptered to Walter Reed Medical Center. He was severely ill. Thankfully, he recovered. When I got COVID, I worked from upstairs of the White House, and the offices upstairs, and for the -- that five-day period.

The difference is, vaccinations, of course. But also, three new cool tools. Free to all and widely available. You don't need to be president to get these tools to be used for your defense. In fact, the same booster shots, the same at-home test, the same treatment that I got is available to you. My administration has made sure that all Americans, across the country, from all walks of life, have free access to those tools.


LEE: Now, after ending those remarks, we saw President Biden walking directly into the oval office, where he has not been for several days, as he has been isolating in the residence at the White House. The president making it very clear that he is excited to get back to work but out of isolation. MJ Lee, CNN, the White House.

CHURCH: We the World Health Organization is raising hopes that the monkeypox outbreak can be contained. The W.H.O. declared the virus a public health emergency of international concern on Saturday. More than 18,000 cases have been reported in 78 countries. For now, mass vaccinations are not being recommended. But the head of the W.H.O. outlined what was needed to prevent the spread of the virus.


TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, W.H.O. DIRECTOR-GENERAL: This is an outbreak that can be stopped. If countries, communities, and individuals inform themselves, take the risk seriously, and take the steps needed to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups. The best way to do that is to reduce the risk of exposure. That means making safe choices for yourself and others.


CHURCH: Now, to a mystery deep below the Atlantic Ocean. Researchers have discovered perfectly aligned holes on the sea floor. And they're asking the public to help figure out what made them. NOAA Ocean Exploration, U.S. Federal Organization that explores oceans, says the holes look human-made. But the little piles of sediment around them, suggest they were excavated by something. Well, there's a whole list of theories explaining them on Twitter, sea critters, the current methane gas, or, of course, aliens.

Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. World Sport is up next. And I'll be back with more news from all around the world in about 15 minutes from now. You are watching CNN, do stay with us.



LAVANDERA (voiceover): Federal forecasters say this is the second driest year around the Seguin area in the past 128 years. Priscilla McBee and her family have a small operation of about 20 cattle.

LAVANDERA (on camera): You brought two cows and a calf?


LAVANDERA (on camera): Why do you have to get rid of them?

MCBEE: We just -- trying to reduce the number, trying to reduce how many we are feeding because there's no grass, and the hay we have is not going to last us through the winter.

LAVANDERA (voiceover): She says her farm is running out of grass to keep the herd properly fed.

MCBEE: It's hard, you know, our fields are barren.

LAVANDERA (on camera): So, you're trying to save the rest of the herd?


LAVANDERA (voiceover): Marty Schwarzkopf has a herd of 70 cattle. He brought one to sell today. He says he also usually sells 4,000 to 6,000 bales of hay every year to cattle ranchers. But this year, the ground is so dry, he's only done about 300.

MARTY SCHWARZKOPF, CATTLE RANCHER: And I feel for a lot of people. Getting all people -- they've been doing this for years and years, and now they don't have anything to hold on to. You know, they're having to let go.

WADE MAIERHOFER, CATTLE RANCHER: We put these bales of hay out a couple of days ago, and they're already gone. And they're $100 a piece.

LAVANDERA (voiceover): Wade Maierhofer is a fourth-generation cattle rancher on this land. He says this ranch field should be covered in lush green grass a foot high. Now, it's a sea of hard scrabbled brown dust. The remaining burnt grass crunches under your feet. We talked under the shade of an oak tree, as he explained, he might have to sell more of his cows. LAVANDERA (on camera): Did you get emotional thinking about that possibility?

MAIERHOFER: Oh, yes, yes, yes. You don't want to do it. You don't want to sell. You -- you know, most of these cattle -- well, all of these cattle we raised, we raised them from babies. If we have to get rid of the -- the -- all of them, it's painful.

LAVANDERA (voiceover): This part of Texas usually gets 24 to 48 inches of rain a year. It's received just four inches so far this year. The pond that Maierhofer's cows usually drink from is supposed to be seven feet deep, there's not even a drop of water left in it now. Wade Maierhofer will face tough decisions soon. He sold off 20 cows last week. And if it doesn't rain and cool off soon, he'll be back in the auction barn selling off more of his herd.

MAIERHOFER: I will sell them before they're skin and bones, I will sell them. I mean, if we can't maintain them, then we'll get rid of them.


LAVANDERA (on camera): So, Don, this is an incredibly emotional time for many, many cattle ranchers across the country. In fact, at one point, when ranchers were here dropping off their cattle for the auction that happened earlier today, one rancher was in tears. We asked to talk to him, he said he couldn't bring himself to talk about what this moment was like for him as he was selling off much of his herd.

LEMON: It's so awful, Ed. That's a great report. Let's talk about it. I also want to introduce you to Clay Burtrum. He owns a cattle business in Payne County, Oklahoma. And he is in Reno, Nevada tonight for a National Cattlemen's business meeting.

So, Ed, again, thank you for your report. Clay, welcome to the program. I really appreciate you joining us. We just saw Ed's really in-depth report on the pressure Texas ranchers are under, and you, as Oklahomans, to pray for rain. How tough are the choices you're being forced to make this summer?

CLAY BURTRUM, PAYNE COUNTRY FARMER, OWNER OF BURTRUM CATTLE: Thank you, Don. It's very tough, considering the lack of rainfall that we have, the shortness of grass, the cost of feed, the cost of hay to provide for these animals. It's some really -- some tough decisions that we have to make on the farms and ranches today. As being the best stewards of the land of cattle producers, it's very tough.

LEMON: Obviously, Ed, you know, cattle ranchers are struggling right now. But what does it -- what does this mean for consumers at the grocery store? Of course, it's going to affect the price of things.

BURTRUM: Well, you know, we produced the most wholesome nutritious --

LAVANDERA: Yes, you know, there's --

LEMON: Go ahead, Ed.

LAVANDERA: Sorry, I was just going to say -- I will say it quickly. But the others had cycled all the way all of this work. So, you know, the cattle are supposed to be brought to market much later. And if everything is being sold off earlier, that means it's going to take a while to, kind of, replenish the herds, which means, about this time next year, you'll start seeing from everyone that we've talked to, a shortage in the amount of cattle coming to market. Which means when you go to the grocery store, the prices for the beef that's there is going to be much higher.

LEMON: We didn't hear you -- do you want to weigh in on that, Clay?

BURTRUM: Yes, you know we -- as cattle producers, we post -- produce the most wholesome, nutritious product that we can. And we see the effect on the grocery stores and the amount of supply that's in there. But, you know, the -- we're just doing the best we can produce the most wholesome product.

LEMON: Say, Clay, we want to put up some of these photos of -- that you sent us of your farm from this week that showed just how dry the conditions have gotten there.


You have been farming for decades. How have you seen the conditions change? Has this become any more common?

BURTRUM: Yes, the past few years of just -- we've seen the onset of drought. You know, these pastures you see in the background should be lush and green. You can see the levels of these ponds are just low. You can see the calves are still with the cows right now. We should be -- we're going to have to pull these calves off about two months earlier. We haven't been able to plant winter wheat. You can see the cracks in the ground that we have.

We're praying for rain. We just ask the nation to continue to pray for rain for Oklahoma and Texas and the Central U.S. These pastures you see right here are supposed to be covered in hay. We cannot afford the fuel to go cut those hay pastures. And because they might spark a wildfire, as you see in Northwest Oklahoma here in just the past few days.

LEMON: Yes, listen, you can pray for rain but there's a lot that needs to be done. Of course, we hope that would work, but they've got to do something about this climate change. We all have to do something about climate change.

Clay, I appreciate you joining us. Best of luck to you. Please come back anytime. We appreciate you being so candid. Ed, of course, great reporting again. Thank you so much. We'll be right back everyone.

BURTRUM: Thank you.



LEMON: So, there's news tonight on the spread of monkeypox. Here in the U.S., more than 3,500 cases have been confirmed so far, but there have not been enough doses of the monkeypox vaccine for those who are eligible and they want to get it.

Now, that leads to some long lines, lots of frustrations at clinics around the country offering the shots. But the Federal Government announcing it is making nearly 800,000 additional doses available as soon as possible. And more are in the pipeline. By the end of the year, federal health officials estimate that nearly two million doses will have been made available to the public. We'll keep you updated.

A big development, the January 6th investigation, the House Select Committee, eyeing a former Trump cabinet official for a possible deposition. What could Mike Pompeo have to say about that?