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A Least 8 Dead from Widespread Flooding in Kentucky; January 6th Panel Interviewing Trump-Era Cabinet Officials; Xi on Taiwan: If You Play with Fire, You Get Burned; Pentagon Preparing for Possible Pelosi Visit to Taiwan; New York State, San Francisco Raise Alert Levels on Monkeypox Outbreak. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 29, 2022 - 04:00   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Christina Macfarlane in here for Max Foster in London. Just ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My living room is completely crushed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a number of people that are unaccounted for. In a word, this event is devastating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The January 6 Select Committee zeroing in on members of former President Donald Trump's old cabinet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The West Wing was broken. It was not functioning properly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Biden has a long history with President Xi. Good to be talking and you know, we are adversaries with China right now, we're competitors with China right now, there's no doubt about that.


MACFARLANE: Hello, welcome, it's Friday, July 29, 9:00 a.m. here in London, 4:00 a.m. in eastern Kentucky where flash flood warnings are up right now as more storms and heavy rains move through the region. That's after catastrophic flooding already claimed the lives of at least eight people. And the state's governor warns the death toll will go higher. He also said it could take years for residents to rebuild and called it the worst flooding disaster of his lifetime. Overnight residents near Panbowl Lake Dam were ordered to evacuate due to the fast moving water and in muddy discharge coming from the dam. The area has gone through this before, but not quite like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've seen water in the streets before, but we've never seen water, you know, waist deep in the streets or chest deep in the streets. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've never seen this in all the years I've lived

here. I have never seen this. Never.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a girlfriend that is eight months pregnant and we had ultrasound pictures and stuff like that in the house that we needed to grab and the house can be replaced, but some things just can't.


MACFARLANE: The water was so high in some places it forced some residents to their rooftops to be rescued. On Thursday, Governor Andy Beshear activated the National Guard to help with rescues and recovery and declared an emergency to help expediate resources. The governor also appealed to the White House for federal assistance to respond to the devastating flooding. CNN's Joe Johns is in Kentucky with the latest.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A race to rescue those still stranded in Eastern Kentucky and what the governor says will end up being one of the most significant deadly floods in years.

ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY) GOVERNOR: Unfortunately, I expect double digit deaths in this flooding that's something that we rarely see.

JOHNS (voice-over): The water is so high you can only see the roof of this home. Many others submerged up to the windows.

A relentless stalled storm front dumped more than eight inches of rain in the area overnight, raging waters swept away homes and cars.

JODY BUTLER, BREATHITT COUNTY RESIDENT: I didn't think it would get, you know, that high.

JOHNS (voice-over): This couple barely got out of their home in time.

BUTLER: He said you better be getting you some clothes on, getting your backpack because we got to get out here. And by the time we got out to the neighbors to after two -- to tell him how wide it was, it had went from the back of the trailer to the carport.

JOHNS (voice-over): The creek side town of Hindman appears to be submerged in water. Governor Andy Beshear declared a statewide state of emergency and announced the first confirmed deaths, a woman in her 80s in Perry County, and at least two others. Later in the day, the governor said the death toll had reached at least eight.

BESHEAR: We expect the loss of life. Hundreds will lose their homes. And this is going to be yet another event that it's going to take not months but likely years for many families to rebuild and recover.

JOHNS (voice-over): Flooded downed phone lines kept residents from getting help immediately overnight. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't get to him, nobody can't get to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever experienced anything like this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. This has never been this bad.

JOHNS (voice-over): Floodwaters rising over the bridge in downtown Whitesburg. Many roads in the area are impassable.


While the National Guard has been mobilized to rescue people and provide aid, hundreds are expected to lose their homes.

BUTLER: It happens, I mean, it's bad enough the first time we had insurance, this time we don't, but we'll make it, we always do with God's help. So, just had to pick yourself back up. And that's all we can do, you know.

JOHNS (voice-over): Joe Johns, CNN, Hazard, Kentucky.


MACFARLANE: And let's bring in meteorologist Derek Van Dam at the CNN Weather Center. Derek, this is just devastating and we heard residents saying that it was the speed of the water it seems that took them by surprise. And it's not over yet, right? We're expecting more rain to fall.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, when you have nearly 200 millimeters of rain falling in 12 hours or roughly 9 inches of rain, that is a significant amount of precipitation in a short period of time. Unfortunately, as Christina just mentioned, there is more precipitation on the way. Not as heavy as what we've experienced, but you can imagine adding additional water to this situation is only going to make matters worse.

Just look at this video, this is an elementary school that is actually submerged by the water. You can imagine why. The governor says that some of the residents here will take not months but years to recover from this devastating flood. And if you look at the radar estimated rainfall, it's really the southeastern portions of Kentucky within the past 24 hours that had been hit the hardest with the most amount of rain.

These are some of the rainfall totals. Over 10 inches in Buck Horn Lake, that's over 250 millimeters of precipitation, that's a lot of rain. As I mentioned, there is rainfall moving through the area as we speak. Adding more misery to the flooding that's already ongoing.

National Weather Service has picked up on this, they have hoisted flash flood warnings, flood warnings and flood watches. Anywhere you see that shading of green and that shade of red. This by the way includes the border of Kentucky and West Virginia where some of the heavier precipitation is moving across at the moment. In terms of what's causing all this rain, you talked about it a moment

ago in the story we just heard, a stalled out frontal boundary. This is allowing for the training of thunderstorms, meaning literally the thunderstorms move over the same locations as if it was a train car moving along a railroad track impacting the same locations as well.

This is one river gauge in eastern Kentucky that hit a staggering 20.91 feet in a matter of minutes. The old record was 14.7 feet. So, you can see just how quickly the water rose above record territory into major flooding. And unfortunately, with the forecast rainfall accumulation going forward, you can see much of Kentucky will see and experience more rainfall. So, the potential exists for more flooding going forward. At least through the rest of today being Friday and into the overnight period of Friday night.

Rainfall extends across much of that frontal boundary that stalled out over the nation's midsection. The weather prediction center has a moderate risk across eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia today for the greatest probability of flash flooding with the additional rainfall that is in store. You can see some of our forecast radar showing those pop-up showers and thunderstorms especially across eastern and southern Kentucky. Another 1 to 3 inches possible -- Christina.

MACFARLANE: Yes, intense heat, flash floods, we really are seeing it all at the moment. Derek Van Dam at the CNN Weather Center, thank you.

Well, earlier we spoke with Jerry Stacy, the emergency management director in Perry County, Kentucky. Here's how he described what his area is going through.


JERRY STACY, PERRY COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIRECTOR: This has been one of the most devastating things that I've seen in my lifetime. You know, we've just had so many families across eastern Kentucky, I'm emergency managing director for Perry County, but there's so many counties across eastern Kentucky that, you know, our families have lost not just part of what they got, they've lost everything. And it's devastating. When you start talking about 7, 8, 9 inches of rain in a matter of three or four hours, it's just -- the water comes up so fast that it just overwhelms and surprises and destroys. It's something else.

We're really one big family. And, you know, regardless of the situation, you know, we really rally around each other, pull together and provide. Our people will do that again. This is something that lasts a long time here. Going to be a very difficult thing to overcome, but our people will rally around each other as always.


MACFARLANE: And our thanks to Jerry Stacy the emergency management director in Perry County, Kentucky.

[04:10:00] New images from California as firefighters battle the state's largest wildfire of the season so far. These satellite images show vegetation damaged by the Oak Fire burning near Yosemite National Park. Thousands of firefighters from across the state have been deployed to help fight the blaze. The fire has burned more than 19,000 acres since it began a week ago. It's only 42 percent contained.

Now to the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol. CNN has exclusively learned that federal prosecutors are preparing for a legal battle. They will try to force former White House officials to testify about their conversations with Donald Trump around January 6 of last year -- the day of the attempted coup. This is the clearest sign yet that investigators are focusing on the former president 's conduct as he tries to prevent the transfer of power.

At issue are claims of executive privilege that the Trump camp is expected to make to shield information from the grand jury. We're also learning that the committee investigating the attack plans to share at least 20 transcripts with the U.S. Justice Department.

he panel is also focusing on members of Trump's inner circle which include his former treasury secretary and his former acting chief of staff. And the committee seem particularly interested in conversations about invoking the 25th Amendment after the Capitol attack which could have led to Donald Trump being removed from office. CNN's Ryan Nobles has further details.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The January 6th Select Committee zeroing in on members of former President Donald Trump's old cabinet.

MIKE POMPEO, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We've had discussions with them about potentially appearing before them, trying to make sure we understand what it is they're asking for. As I always did when I was in service to America, I'm happy to cooperate with things that are fair and transparent and deliver good outcomes to the American people.

NOBLES (voice-over): Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, one of Donald Trump's most loyal allies, confirming CNN's reporting that he's in talks with the committee and willing to cooperate. But Pompeo says when is an open question, calling the committee a circus.

POMPEO: You mean I testify? We're trying to figure our way out. I want to make sure the American people get the full story of the things that happened in the Trump administration.

NOBLES (voice-over): Pompeo joins a growing list of cabinet officials who have either engaged or have set for interviews with the committee. CNN also learning former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has talked to the committee, while forming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney met with investigators today. Mulvaney has become a vocal critic of Trump's behavior on January 6th.

MICK MULVANEY, FORMER ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF TO THEN PRESIDENT TRUMP: The West Wing was broken. It was not functioning properly. In that type of setting, can people make really bad decisions that could come back to haunt them? Absolutely.

NOBLES (voice-over): Mulvaney was serving abroad on January 6th. His insight may be different than that of Pompeo, Mnuchin and the former director of national intelligence John Radcliffe, who is also in talks with the committee.

The cabinet officials could help the committee learn more about talks related to the 25th Amendment, which was a real discussion at the time. Marc Short, the then chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, says there were reasons those talks never got any traction.

MARC SHORT, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT'S CHIEF OF STAFF: The reality is, there were ten days left in the administration. This was a political ploy, and further, you know, when they designed the 25th Amendment, it has higher standards, higher hurdles than even impeachment does.

NOBLES: And the Select Committee chairman Bennie Thompson saying today that the committee is in the process of putting together an interim report specifically on the National Guard response to what happened on January 6. He said that it will look into a lot much aspects about the Guard and the Pentagon's role in the response on that day. But it will specifically answer the question definitively as to whether or not Donald Trump did ask for 10,000 troops to be on standby ahead of the event, something that he has claimed over and over and over again. According to Thompson, the report will show that Trump's claims simply aren't accurate.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.


MACFARLANE: Now a source tells CNN the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party has appeared before a special grand jury. David Schaffer is one of 16 fake electors who took part in the plan to try to keep Donald Trump in the White House despite Joe Biden's win. Schaffer is also faces inquiries from federal investigators and the House January 6 Committee. His attorney did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

Now to lottery fever, which has taken over the U.S. The drawing for the Mega Millions lottery and a $1.1 billion jackpot is later today. It's the second largest jackpot in Mega Millions history. Before winnings can be paid out bit by bit annually over 29 years or you can take a lump sum which is about $648 million before taxes. Mega millions tickets are sold in 45 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Get your tickets.


OK, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from London. Still ahead, a warning to Joe Biden straight from Beijing, if you play with fire, you get burned.

And some areas of the U.S. are raising the alarm about monkeypox. We'll find out where they're calling it a public health emergency.


MACFARLANE: Welcome back. Now to the sharp warning from Chinese President Xi Jinping to his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden during their phone call yesterday. If you play with fire, you get burned. The Chinese leader making it clear his anger over Washington's relations with Taiwan including a possible visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The U.S. calls the warning standard fare from Beijing and described the two hour 17 conversation as direct and honest. The presidents also agreed to start planning for a face-to-face summit possibly later this year in Indonesia or Thailand, but Taiwan was the central focus.



JOHN KIRBY, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: The president was clear nothing has changed about our policy, it stays the same and nothing has changed about our desire to not see the status quo between the straits there and the straits issue upset by unilateral force or unilateral action, either way. The president has been nothing but consistent. There's no reason for this to devolve into conflict because our one China policy has not changed.


MACFARLANE: Live now to Beijing and our CNN bureau chief Steven Jiang. And Steven, despite what John Kirby was just saying just there, this was a pretty unequivocal warning from Xi Jinping. Did this phone call make tensions better or worse for the two nations?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: You know, Christina, as alarming at Xi Jinping's warning to Biden on Taiwan may sound, this was actually not a first time he uttered this exact same phrase to Biden. He last used it in November of 2021 when the two men held a virtual summit. But the key difference, of course, is the timing of this latest phone call. We are only some three months away from a major Communist Party Congress where is all but certain that Xi Jinping is going to assume a precedent-breaking third term as the country's top leader paving the way for him to rule for life.

So, this is a critical moment when he is facing a myriad of domestic challenges so he simply can't afford to look weak on this issue. So, that's why, you know, this is so important and critical here. But the hope is now the two men have talked in length, they have gained better understanding and some clarity on where each stands on this issue and that could help them contain the potential fallout better if and when Pelosi does decide to go ahead.

But it's also clear that both sides are eager to move beyond this one single issue and really highlighting the wide ranging nature of their leaders conversations. From Chinese perspective, they have been trying to emphasize that Xi Jinping told Biden that the U.S. has been reading China wrong, the U.S. perception of China as a strategic competitor and long term rival is simply wrong.

This is important because the Americans have been saying for a long time their goal in this relationship is setting up these so-called guardrails to prevent things from getting out of control. But from the Chinese perspective, if the whole thing, if the whole U.S./China policy is wrong headed, what's the point of these guardrails.

Also, interesting is what the Americans have said after the phone call with the U.S. officials telling reporters that despite all the saber rattling from Beijing, on the working level officials from both sides have been meeting and following up on their leader's previous commitments and making progress in some key areas. So, one thing, Christina, both sides seem to agree is the importance and necessity to keep these presidential level communications going especially at a time when tensions are running high -- Christina.

MACFARLANE: Yes, absolutely. Steven Jiang there live from Beijing. Steven, many thanks.

Well, U.S. national security officials are trying to convince Speaker Pelosi of the risks a trip to Taiwan could pose. But they're also getting ready just in case they can't change her mind. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann has the details.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The Pentagon is developing a series of plans and options if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi chooses to go ahead with a trip to Taiwan. Defense officials here at the Pentagon have said such a plan would involve U.S. military assets in the region such as aircraft and ships and as well as potentially satellites to monitor the area around Pelosi if she were in the region.

The USS Ronald Reagan, a carrier that operates in the Indo-Pacific, has just reentered the South China Sea after a few day port visit to Singapore, already a defense official has told CNN, the Chinese are shadowing the Reagan as it moves the South China Sea.

Now it's important to note that that's standard, fairly common place both for the Reagan which operates in those waters and from Chinese ships which routinely shadow American ships operating in the region. It's happened in this case again.

But this is all of what the U.S. is watching here as they wait for the decision from the Speaker of the House on whether she chooses to go forward with this trip. Defense officials we've spoken with have said that they are not really concerned about the possibility or the risk of any sort of shooting happening between American forces and Chinese forces. The concern is more on a potential miscalculation between those forces if there are more in the region around Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. And also, what China might do in reaction.

China has used some pretty harsh rhetoric leading up to and responding to a potential Pelosi trip to the region. What might the U.S. expect to see. Well, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley has talked about what he sees as increasingly aggressive actions by the Chinese military around the ships and aircraft of not only the U.S. but U.S. allies. Such as intercepts and unsafe or unprofessional interactions. So perhaps that would be what the U.S. expects to see should this trip go forward.

Behind the scenes U.S. national security officials have tried to brief Pelosi on the risks of such a trip. But it's unclear if that has influenced her thinking at all.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, in the Pentagon.



MACFARLANE: Now to the monkeypox outbreak as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the number of cases of the virus worldwide has now passed 21,000. Still health officials in Africa say that they have no vaccines for monkeypox despite having all of the 75 recorded deaths from the disease.

And in the U.S. some cities and states aren't waiting for the federal government to raise alert levels on the virus. New York is calling it an imminent threat to public health. And San Francisco is declaring monkeypox a public health emergency. Health experts in the U.S. are growing increasingly concerned over the low numbers of monkeypox tests. Labs are operating at a fraction of the capacity and without that crucial testing it's difficult to know the true extent of the outbreak. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen explains why.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: A key to getting the monkeypox outbreak under control is testing and lots of it. And that's why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has engaged with five commercial labs to increase testing capacity and now those five labs can do 70,000 specimens per week, that's a lot.

But CNN has found by checking in with these labs that actually the demand of these labs is very low. Doctors aren't sending in specimens in any large numbers. Let's take a look at a few examples. For example, at the Mayo Clinic, one of the commercial labs, they have the capacity to handle 1,000 samples a week and over the past two weeks, they've received 45, not per week but 45 over both of those weeks. And Aegis, another lab, they have the capacity for 5,000 and they've received zero. They haven't received any samples thus far. 1/3 lab, LabCorp, they're one of the largest commercial labs in the United States, they say they've received more than this. But still they say that the number of samples coming in has been extremely low.

So, this is problematic for several reasons. One of them is that you can only find out who has monkeypox if you test them and then you can isolate them and you can do contact tracing. Also, especially in a country as large as the United States, you want to know where your cases are so you can send resources to the right places. So, let's look at monkeypox cases in the United States. So, you can

see the number of cases has risen dramatically at a time when they're trying to get it under control. So, a month ago there was about 244 cases. Now there's about 4,600 cases.

So, there are several reasons for the low demand at labs and one of them is that most of the cases, really almost all of the cases, have been among men who have sex with men. These men often go to sexual health clinics to get their care. Now these clinics say that they are underfunded and about half of them don't even use commercial labs because they say it's too expensive. So, if you have a lot of patients going to clinics that don't send their samples to private labs, but those private labs have a lot of capacity, obviously there is a disconnect there. Back to you.

MACFARLANE: Elizabeth Cohen there.

OK, coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, a legislative win for the Biden administration could be a boon for the U.S. semiconductor industry.

And this --


JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: This is an embarrassment to the Senate, to the country, to the founders and all that they profess to hold dear.


MACFARLANE: Comedian Jon Stewart goes in the back the military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. What he is demanding from Congress, just ahead.