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At Least 25 Killed In Eastern Kentucky Floods, Many Still Missing; President Biden Tests Positive For COVID-19 Again; Rising Inflation, Sinking GDP Fuel Fears Of Recession; Trump Hosts Saudi- Backed Golf Tournament Despite Protests; Russian Official Requested Adding A Convicted Murderer To Deal For Americans Griner, Whelan; Justice Alito Mocks Foreign Critics Of Roe v. Wade Decision; $1.3 Plus Billion Mega Millions Jackpot Ticket Bought In Illinois. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 30, 2022 - 18:00   ET



GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): It's going to get worse. And I think that we will be updating it, maybe even for weeks to come.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just need help. We need as much help, please, I'm begging anyone who sees this. Help my town. Help my people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to put into words this the amount of devastation that we've seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President did test positive again this morning on an antigen test. He was taking that antiviral drug, Paxlovid. There have been some examples of patients rebounding from that case that is testing negative and then testing positive again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It reentered the Earth's atmosphere somewhere near the Indian Ocean and Malaysia. Some of that debris may not burn up and it would land somewhere near that spot that Space Command just predicted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only one person was that jackpot winner and now we wait to see who that person actually is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm hoping to hit the jackpot.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: I am Pamela Brown in Washington. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday.

In Eastern Kentucky, the death toll rises and the catastrophic floodwaters begin to recede. The horrors are now becoming more clear. Twenty five people confirmed dead including at least four children from the same family. Their aunt tells us that they were between two and eight years old.

Kentucky's Governor tells CNN that the National Guard has gone on more than 660 air rescues. The floodwaters washed away roads, ripped away bridges, making the ongoing search efforts even harder and it is unclear how many people are still missing at this hour. The Governor fears the death toll will be climbing.


BESHEAR: I'm worried that we're going to be -- we're going to be fine and bodies for weeks to come. Keep praying. I hope there are no more we ought to expect. Now, there will be more loss and pray for the families that we know have already lost individuals. They're going to need your help and your support and I know who we are as people. We're going to be there for them.


BROWN: CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is in Jackson, Kentucky.

Evan, so much grieving, so much heartbreak going on there. What are you seeing?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, you know better than most just how tight-knit these communities are and we've been watching all day today, here in Jackson at the staging area where State and local and volunteers are going out to do these rescue and recovery operations is the process of trying to find out just how torn that fabric has been and how to start putting it back together.

I want to show you some drone footage that we've been shooting. Now, you can see it on screen now, we've had the drone up all day around looking just to show the devastation here.

The waters have started to recede after sweeping through the area, leaving that trail of destruction behind him and allowing rescue and recovery operations to finally go on foot into some of these houses in some of these places where people have been missing their loved ones and some of the news has been not been very good.

We spoke to the Sheriff here in Breathitt County, Sheriff John Holland tell us a few minutes ago that so far, rescuers have found three bodies today. Some people have been in trees, stuck in houses. This is a harrowing situation, and the true depth of it just how bad it is, is just becoming to be clear to all of us here -- Pam.

BROWN: Yes, and more rain is headed that way as well. We're going to be talking to some officials there on the ground about that.

Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much.

And for the very latest on this unfolding tragedy, I want to bring in Kentucky's Lieutenant Governor, Jacqueline Coleman. Thank you so much for joining us.

If you would, just as we start out, what is the latest that you can tell us on the search and rescue operations?

LT. GOV. JACQUELINE COLEMAN, KENTUCKY: Well, first, Pamela, thank you so much for having me and for bringing light to this tragedy that's ongoing in Eastern Kentucky.

As you heard Governor Beshear say earlier, search and rescue continues to be our top priority, trying to find and save as many folks as we can.

We have -- we do have an update in terms of our emergency orders. The Governor requested from President Biden individual assistance, and that has been granted at a pace that we've never seen before from the Federal government for five counties so that the residents will actually receive direct payments, which is some really good news in what will be a very long tunnel to see the light.

BROWN: When will they be receiving these direct payments?

COLEMAN: They will be receiving them as soon as we can get them to them. That decision was just made.

I just got off the phone with the Governor before being on with you all and so that's the latest update that we have at this point and I want to thank the Biden administration for moving so quickly.


COLEMAN: And grateful for having a Governor with the leadership and compassion we do with Governor Beshear, for always thinking about how we can put our families first.

BROWN: And sadly, you've been through national disaster tragedies before in the last year with what happened in Western Kentucky with the tornado damage. So you have coordinated with the Federal government in similar situations.

I do want to ask you, though, as you think about this story, we're days in, at what point do efforts pivot away from rescue to recovery?

COLEMAN: Well, in Kentucky, we don't give up the fight and so we will continue as long as we possibly can, searching for lost family members. As you know, and as you probably will continue to see, the rain will continue in the coming days, as well as a pretty intense heatwave coming midweek.

And so, we're not going to let those things stop us. We're going to continue to search for loved ones, for the families that deserve to be reconnected with them as long as we can.

In the back of our minds, we are continuing to meet with emergency management, with our local school districts, with all of the local officials that are there on the ground to begin to think through the coming days, weeks, months, that we unfortunately know all too well here in Kentucky.

BROWN: You mentioned the weather that is headed that way, how are you preparing for that -- this flood threat hanging over Eastern Kentucky through at least Monday?

COLEMAN: Right. So we have been on the phone on meetings on the ground all day today, from speaking with locally elected officials to find out what they need, to following up with our elected legislators to get even more feedback from folks on the ground that are in the area.

One of the things that I know we will focus on because of the incoming heat is certainly to get generators to the shelters, which are primarily our schools. Many of our schools are serving as the point of contact, the shelter for families and nursing homes that is something else that continues to be remarkable to me as someone who was a teacher before I entered this role. This is what our schools do, and they are continuing to be the heartbeat of our communities.

But we are getting generators to those shelters, and we are trying to make sure that we can account for everyone and provide every resource we can certainly before the weather gets worse.

BROWN: Yes, and that of course, it's just so difficult given the circumstances there and the search efforts underway.

Now, the State will be managing a relief fund and the first expenditures will be for the families now planning funerals. Tell us a little bit more about why you made that a top priority.

COLEMAN: Yes, and so this is similar to what situation we found ourselves in in the West with the tornadoes last December. You know, we value ensuring that these loved ones can be reconnected with their family members and to make sure that these folks are able to have a proper funeral for their loved ones. This is that something that so many folks are dealing with right now in Eastern Kentucky, even as we rebuild.

But it's important that we take a moment and pause and reflect and show those folks how much we love them and care for them even as we continue to rebuild the stories that are coming out of Eastern Kentucky, the bravery and the heroism. One of our State Representatives, Angie Hatton actually was out on her kayak -- kayaking into her neighbor's house and they were cutting holes in roofs and pulling people out of their roofs.

The images that you continue to show, the young girl sitting on the roof of a home with her dog, or the elderly lady and Whitesburg who is 99 years old, sitting on her bed that has water all the way up to the bed waiting for someone to come and rescue her, those are the stories of this tragedy. Those are the faces of this tragedy and their families and are real people and we want to make sure that we honor that and we will remember that even as we continue to dig through the rubble and to help rebuild, which is going to be a very, very long process.

BROWN: There is so much need right now in my home state of Kentucky.

Kentucky Lieutenant Governor, Jacqueline Coleman, thank you for your time.

COLEMAN: Thank you.

BROWN: And Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said three people were killed in Perry County. As the water begins to recede, the destruction is becoming more visible. In some areas around the county, Hazard got more than nine inches of rain, it washed out bridges, knocked out power and left people trapped.

Hazard Mayor Donald Mobelini joins me now along with Perry County Judge Executive, Scott Alexander.

Hello to you both. I know you have just been working around the clock helping your fellow neighbors. If you would, Mr. Mayor, what is the situation there now?


MAYOR DONALD MOBELINI, HAZARD, KENTUCKY: No, it's just trying to take care of the people that are have lived with no homes or anything. We've dealt all day long with the shelters. We have like between five and seven shelters up and running right now.

And at one time this morning, they were all at capacity. And every time, when we get to capacity, we'd have to open a new shelter.

We're trying to coordinate volunteers and everything like that. But in one of the shelters, Westbury Elementary, not only is it a shelter for people that's lost their homes, it's also became a shelter for hospice of patients who were living at home under hospice care who have lost their homes, now that we have those people (AUDIO GAP) to be able to do with that.

And our main problem is, the infrastructure. Our water infrastructure system has gone down. I mean, it washed away the plants, broke them down. We have no water. We really don't have any water coming out of our plant to go to any house in Perry County, and we're all relying on bottled water as being -- you know, just whoever could bring us bottled water, that's what we've distributed to 25,000 to 29,000 residents.

BROWN: Oh my gosh. And how is that going? I mean, are you getting enough bottled water? What else do you need there?

MOBELINI: Every time that we start running low, it just seems like somebody just appears and so they'll say well, there's another tractor trailer load coming in 30 minutes or whatever and we just distribute it and we've got about 10 different places that we can distribute it.

But some of the places, we can't get to, to distribute still, because the roads -- the river is just now cresting and those far lying outlets, places 27 to 30 miles, and you know, we really don't know if we -- we haven't been there yet because we could just now start to get there. The roads are all torn up.

BROWN: I want to bring you in Scott, sort of to your point and the mayor's, how difficult is to search in the outlying areas in those smaller communities. Some of these places that have flooded have had never flooded before. They've never been through anything even close to this. SCOTT ALEXANDER, PERRY COUNTY, KENTUCKY JUDGE/EXECUTIVE: Yes, it's

historic flooding and as we continue to get out into the county, we're probably up to 40 to 50 bridges gone, and what that means is, is there somebody living on the other side or multiple families living up, they are hollering on the other side that we're still not able to have road access to them.

So it's just a historic flooding. It's made it very difficult, but we're doing everything that we can to give them what they need.

BROWN: How do you even do that? I mean, if there is no bridge to get them what they need, what exactly are you doing to help give these families who are just stranded?

ALEXANDER: The National Guard is here, both the State and Federal government -- or State leadership, and then just individuals here. It's amazing what happens in Appalachia, East Kentucky and Perry County when we're hit with one of these disasters. They're such caring people that they're helping one another.

I mean, I've seen individuals who has waded the creek, I've seen individuals whose floated and just any means that it takes that we can get supplies to people. What we're trying to do, and as we say here and speak, they are still, I know there are people out there still suffering, and they don't feel like that we're moving fast enough. And I understand that, but we're using every available resource we can to get stuff to people, as we hear about it.

MOBELINI: And we are getting to support from the local and from the State government and things, but you know, with the National Guard, the State Police helicopters and all the volunteer fire departments and our local fire department. I mean, it is until how many rescues they've made in the last since Wednesday night and they are still doing it.

But today, even we set up at City Hall, a corner set up and people came in all day long with pictures and photos of the relatives that are missing, you know, just any kind of marking, because I mean, you know, this is sad to say, but we've got a team of coroners here working in a three-county area with cadaver dogs and just trying to find people that identify people.

And you know, I know they say we've got three dead at this time, but I talked to the County Judge at Knott County and Breathitt County, and it's over 30-some total for just our three counties, and that's just -- I think that's just the tip of the iceberg, truthfully.

BROWN: It's just so awful, people come in with their missing family member, not knowing if they're dead or alive or not knowing that there are people who need help right now that are stranded.

What I'm hearing from both of you is that there are a lot of resources there, but I wonder, what more do you need? What more can people do?

MOBELINI: We have a lot -- we have a lot of resources. We have a lot of resources, a lot of people wanting to volunteer. Really, I mean, like you all said it a while ago, a lot of these places have never flooded so if they've never flooded, these people will not have flood insurance so therefore if they lose their home, it is a total loss.


MOBELINI: I mean there is not going to be an insurance check coming to help that. We need cash donations, not to us, but to the Appalachian Foundation, so -- I mean, we've dealt with this before with Breathitt and Owsley Counties, people can apply for that type of funds.

Appalachian Kentucky that the Governor set up will be a really good thing, and then FEMA, we need FEMA on the ground. They are here, but we need to set it up where the people can get relief faster than later.

ALEXANDER: And it was great to hear that the individual assistance has now been approved, and what I have been told, we call them and they want to help and their heart is pouring out to help us, but lots of times, a lot of the donations, these people don't have a home.

If you don't make clothes, they don't have a home to take it back to, if you donate supplies, they don't have a home to take it back to, so if you donate to one of these organizations, these organizations can get the money into their pockets. They may need to rent a car or they may need a hotel room to stay in for a while. So that's the best way to help the victims.

BROWN: For the long term --

MOBELINI: And like right now, we have no --

BROWN: Go ahead.

MOBELINI: We have no hotel rooms available because they're all full. All of our shelters are pretty much at capacity. So, you know -- but I think, by Monday, in Eastern Kentucky, family members take care of family members.

I think the shelters -- the numbers will go down because people will be able to get out and come pick up their relatives. But where do we go from here? You know, like Scott said, we'll get clothes for people later. But right now, we don't need truckloads of clothes. We don't have any way to sort it. We don't have any way to get it distributed.

We need clean drinking water and we need gallons of water, and then we need cleaning supplies because if you've never cleaned up from a flood, one bottle of Clorox would be about five feet.

BROWN: Yes, that's a really important point. I'm so glad I had you both on. Again, thank you for taking time out. It's really important to better understand what's happening on the ground from both of you.

Mayor Mobelini, Scott Alexander, we appreciate your time.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

MOBELINI: Thank you.

BROWN: And we were just talking about how you can help. You can find out how you can help these victims of the Kentucky flooding at

President Biden has officially tested positive for COVID, again. The White House physician says, it is likely a rebound case caused by his Paxlovid treatment. The President says he is feeling fine.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hey folks, Joe Biden here. I tested positive this morning. Going to be working from home for the next couple of days. I am feeling fine. Everything is good. Commander and I have got a little work to do.


BROWN: Rebound cases from Paxlovid are a rare, but observed side effect of the treatment and symptoms are expected to be much less severe.

We have a lot more ahead for you tonight in the CNN NEWSROOM, including more signs that the US is close to a recession.

The chief economist for Moody's, Mark Zandi joins me next to break it all down.

Plus, a CNN exclusive, Russian officials want a convicted murderer to be part of a deal for two Americans.

And then later tonight, a woman's new mission, her son died from a common virus less than a month after he was born. And now, she wants everyone to know the warning signs.



BROWN: Well, it has been a rough week for the US economy. Inflation is up, the GDP is down, and the word "recession" is hanging in the air.

CNN's Matt Egan joins me now with more, though, Matt not everyone agrees we're in a recession right now.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Pamela there's no doubt the American economy is losing steam. After a blockbuster growth last year, the economy is now shrinking. GDP fell by nearly one percent in the second quarter, marking the second consecutive quarterly decline.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is taking aggressive steps aimed at getting the worst inflation in 40 years under control. The Fed raised interest rates last week by another three quarters of a percentage point. That marks the biggest back-to-back rate hikes in modern Fed history. All of this is fanning recession fears. Since 1948, every period of

two straight negative quarters of GDP has coincided with a recession. Even though this is a common rule of thumb for recessions, it is premature to say a recession has already begun.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, which officially determines a recession defines recession as "A significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and lasts more than a few months."

This group considers a wide range of factors including the labor market, which remains historically strong. Unemployment is low, demand for workers is high. That's why Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is pushing back on these recession claims.


JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE: I do not think the US is currently in a recession, and the reason is, there are just too many areas of the economy that are performing, you know, too well.


EGAN: Powell insists there is still a path to get inflation under control without causing a recession. But you can see that path has narrowed and may get even narrower.

Recession or not, it is clear Americans are not happy with this economy. The cost of living is way too high, inflation adjusted wages are shrinking. Until that changes, people are going to be hurting no matter what you call this economy -- Pamela.

BROWN: Thanks so much, Matt.

And joining me now to discuss his Mark Zandi. He is the chief economist for Moody's Analytics.

Hi there, Mark.

So after the latest GDP report on Thursday, you tweeted that the economy is bending, not breaking. Help us understand what that means exactly.



I think Matt did a pretty good job of laying out the case. You know, clearly the economy is struggling high inflation very painful, the typical American household needs to spend about $500.00 more a month just to buy the same goods and services they did last year, because of the high inflation.

Of course, the Fed is jacking up interest rates in an effort to quell that inflation growth that is slowing. We saw GDP, which is the value of all the things that we produce that fell in the second quarter on top of Q1. So that's certainly bending.

It's not breaking because the job market is strong, recruiting a boatload of jobs. I mean, in the first half of this year, about a half million jobs on average per month and just to give you context, Pamela, the kind of a typical economy, a good one, we'd be creating about 100,000 jobs record, unfilled positions, record level layoffs.

So it's bending, but it hasn't broken, certainly not in the job market.

BROWN: So you say we've created too many jobs for there to be a recession right now, but you think there's a 50/50 chance we could see a recession before the end of the year, is that right?

ZANDI: Yes, well, at least over the next six to 12 months, I do think recession risks are awfully high. I mean, because inflation is very painful and getting that down is the Federal Reserve's number one priority and they're going to do it one way or the other.

You know, hopefully inflation comes in on its own. There are some good signs there. Oil prices are down, gas prices are falling. So that's all good news.

But if inflation doesn't come down quickly, the Fed is going to keep pushing up interest rates to get that inflation down and that may mean a recession. So in that kind of environment, recession risks are high.

And, you know, obviously, a lot of risk out there -- the pandemic, the Russian invasion, a lot of other things that could go wrong.

BROWN: That are out of our control, right.

ZANDI: Sure.

BROWN: So I think it's helpful to remind viewers what the definition is for a recession and that is a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy, and lasts more than a few months.

So for people who aren't economists, what does that mean, practically? Like, how does that translate into how we would feel that in our day- to-day life?

ZANDI: You know, it's really about jobs. I mean, if you're working, if you have a job and most of your neighbors and friends, folks that you know have jobs and are working, that's not a recession.

You know, recessions are people who are losing their jobs, unemployment is rising, people need to get unemployment insurance checks. There are no open positions, there are no options. Layoffs are rising across lots of different industries.

So, you know, to make it really concrete, it's about your job. I mean, do you have one and do your kids have jobs? Do you do your friends and family have jobs? And if so that then -- that's a pretty good sign that we're not in recession. BROWN: Now that makes sense.

I want to talk about consumer sentiment, an economic indicator that measures how optimistic people feel about their finances and the state of the economy.

The University of Michigan began tracking it in 1952. In June, it hit the lowest level ever seen. How worrying is that?

ZANDI: It is worrying. You know, at the end of the day or session is indeed a loss of faith. You know, to consumers lose faith, that they're going to hold on to their job. And businesses lose faith that they're going to be able to sell whatever it is that they're producing and we pull back.

You know, I had this kind of image in my mind, we are all very nervous as business people and consumers, we've got our hand on the bunker door. One more loud noise, we'll get spooked and we'll run into the bunker, and that's the recession.

So you know, how people feel matters a lot, particularly these times in the economy when we're so close to going into a recession.

BROWN: Yes. It's interesting how people feel about the economy, shapes the economy, right? I mean, Mark Zandi, thank you so much for coming on, and really laying it out in a way where we can easily understand and digest this stuff. We appreciate it.

Well, you were in the CNN NEWSROOM and still ahead for you on the Saturday, the controversial golf tournament at Donald Trump's New Jersey course.

Next, why relatives of September 11th victims are furious about it.



BROWN: Family and friends of 9/11 victims are protesting the LIV golf tournament this weekend at Donald Trump's New Jersey course. They're upset that it's backed by the Saudis and that it's happening just about 50 miles from ground zero. CNN Polo Sandoval is at the course in Bedminster. Polo, what is the latest you're hearing there on the ground?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, we actually spent the first day on the course since relocated because of transmission limits that - have been imposed by organizers there. But what we did is really hear from those 9/11 families that continue to be outraged. They spoke out yesterday, just a few miles from the course, basically bringing their voices together to peacefully send a message that they hope will resonate on Trump's golf course here, members of 9/11 Justice, which is basically a group made up of not just survivors of the attack some 21 years ago, but those loved ones who actually lost friends and family in the attack. They are simply outraged for - because of Donald Trump hosting this

Saudi-backed golf event here. And what we heard from these organizers or at least these united voices of the 9/11 survivors and the families of the victims is that they are outraged that the president or the former president, rather, is choosing to still host this event even after those recently disclosed FBI documents that were disclosed just like last year. It didn't lay out that investigation in which the FBI concluded that some of those hijackers involved in the events of 9/11 received some support from Saudi officials.


So what we heard yesterday were many of these individuals that were basically speaking out against this tournament that has been defended by the former commander in chief, one individual that we heard from in particular was Frank Sutphin. He said, at one point, he even supported Donald Trump. However, he also not only responded to the attack on that day but also lost three very close friends, three firefighters to the attack.

So when he - had a very clear message for Donald Trump, I want you to hear it.


FRANK SUTPHIN, NJ FIREFIGHTER WHO LOST FRIENDS ON 9/11: Justice is all we want. Just - you did it all up to his (inaudible) and I was - listen, I'll be honest, I was a Trumpster. And excuse me for my language, but you're a real (inaudible). How could you do that? If you have FBI documents that we finally know somebody did it and we're not holding them accountable, at least say it.


SANDOVAL: You can really hear the frustration in their voice, Pamela. Now, as for these demonstrators that they say that they plan to once again peacefully speak out at the next LIV golf event that's scheduled to go down at a Trump property in October in Florida. As for the Saudi government, they maintained that they had no involvement in both the attacks of 9/11 and also in the kidnapping and murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi back in 2018. Pamela, back to you.

BROWN: Polo Sandoval, thank you.

Well, as the controversy was building about the tournament, Trump was asked this week what he would say to the families of 9/11 victims. Many of those families have been protesting as we saw there, the Saudi-financed golf tour for weeks and they wanted Trump to cancel it. Well, this was his response.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately, and they should have as to the maniacs that did that horrible thing to our city, to our country, to the world. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Well, for the record, even though the Saudi government has long denied any involvement in the September 11 attacks, 15 of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia. And in February of 2016, then candidate Donald Trump went on Fox News and said multiple times that Saudi Arabia was behind 9/11.


TRUMP: Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn't the Iraqis - it was Saudi. I mean, take a look at Saudi Arabia. Open the documents.


BROWN: A couple of months later, Trump told Sean Hannity that he would push for the documents to be released, which would shed light on the attack. And not long after, in the summer of 2016, Congress would release a long classified report. It's known as the 28 pages that said, "While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from individuals who may be connected to the Saudi government. And when Trump was an office, a 9/11 victims advocacy group met with him at the White House, this is what happened.


TERRY STRADA, NATIONAL CHAIR, 9/11 FAMILIES UNITED: We met with him just two years ago on the 19th anniversary in the White House, specifically asking him to release documents that have to do with the investigations into the kingdom's culpability with 9/11. We had former FBI agents with us telling him how important it was to declassify these documents. And the very next day AG Barr stamped state secrets across many of them, so someone in the White House very close to Mohammad bin Salman blocked us from getting the truth when he was president.


BROWN: The documents then started being declassified under President Biden after his executive order on the 20th anniversary of the attacks. The first document released details about the FBI's investigation into alleged logistical support that a Saudi consular official and a possible intelligence agent gave at least two of the hijackers, gave support to them.

Victims' families and survivors said the document "puts to bed any doubts about Saudi complicity in the attacks." So then why is the former President Donald Trump changing his tune now? We may never know. But one thing is for sure, in 2016, when he made those comments, he wasn't benefiting from a Saudi financed golf tournament, today he is.

Well, Russia wants a convicted murderer as part of the swap deal for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. The latest on the effort to free to Americans held in Russia, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BROWN: We're learning new details about a possible prisoner swap to get to Americans out of Russia. Sources say Russian government officials requested that a spy convicted of murder be included in the deal. Now the original proposal was to exchange notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

I want to go to CNN's Natasha Bertrand now. So Natasha, explain this Russian counteroffer.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Pam, sources told me and my colleague Fred Pleitgen that after the U.S. proposed swapping Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for two Americans imprisoned in Russia, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, Russian officials responded by requesting the release of a former Russian FSB Colonel named Vadim Krasikov who was convicted of murder in Germany last December.

The Russians communicated the request to the U.S. earlier this month, there were an informal back channel used by the FSB, which is Russia's domestic security service. But the request was seen as problematic for several reasons according to multiple sources. Among them that Krasikov remains in German custody.

Now, because of that and because the request was not communicated to the U.S. formally, but rather through this FSB back channel, the U.S. government did not view it we're told as a legitimate counter to the U.S. offer. And National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told CNN last night that the offer was "a bad faith attempt to avoid a very serious offer."


Still, the U.S. did make quite inquiries to the German several weeks ago about whether they might be willing to include Krasikov in the trade, that's according to a senior German government source. A U.S. official characterize the outreach as a status check on Krasikov who was convicted of murdering a former Chechen fighter in broad daylight in Berlin in 2019.

Now, the conversations between the U.S. and Germany were never elevated to the top levels of the German government and included Krasikov in a potential trade has apparently not been seriously considered. So U.S. sources are now telling us that they believe the request was not a serious proposal, but rather just a bid by the Russians to stall and buy time until Brittney Griner's trial is over.

BROWN: All right. Thanks so much, Natasha.

Well, conservative Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is coming under fire for his sarcastic remarks at Notre Dame Law School. He publicly mocked world leaders who criticized his opinion reversing Roe v. Wade.


righting, I think, the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders. One of these was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but he paid the price.

What really wounded me was when the Duke of Sussex addressed the United Nations and seemed to compare the decision whose name may not be spoken with the Russian attack on Ukraine.


BROWN: CNN's Supreme Court Biographer Joan Biskupic has more on Justice Alito and his temperament.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: In so many ways, this speech in Rome was classic Samuel Alito. He exudes a sense of aggrievement even when he's winning on major cases. He somehow couldn't help but take shots at foreign leaders and engage in moments of sarcasm.

But consider that he prevailed with the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and a half century of women's abortion rights, and that he is also part of the court supermajority that rules consistently for religious conservatives, the main subject of his speech in Rome involved religious liberty and he complained about increasing secularism in America. He repeated themes from prior speeches about religion being under siege in our country.

Justice Alito can adopt a tone of aggrievement. Even persecution in his opinions, particularly when the court moves incrementally when the court doesn't go as far or as fast as he wants, but the court isn't moving incrementally these days, the breaks are off. Justice Alito was able to hold on to five votes, just what was necessary for a majority to fully reverse Roe v. Wade. The landmark decision from 1973 that made abortion legal nationwide.

He was also with the six-justice block that went further to lower the wall of separation between church and state. In the recently completed session, the court required more public funding for religious schools in a dispute from Maine. And in a case from Washington State, the justices sided with a football coach at a public high school who wanted to pray on the 50-yard line after games.

That ruling undermined Supreme Court precedent that flowed from a 1962 decision that prohibited any mandatory prayer in public schools. So even though Justice Alito sounded in that speech, as if things were not going his way, the law in America is definitely going his way, particularly on women's reproductive rights and on religion. Joan Biskupic, CNN, Washington.

BROWN: Aggrieved walk while winning as Joan said there. Well, you were in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday. Well, there's one lucky lottery ticket out there tonight worth more than $1 billion. We know where it was sold, but not who bought it. That's coming up.

And tomorrow, a closer look at the impact of catastrophic wildfires. W. Kamau Bell is in California to understand why they're happening and how we can better prepare for them. It's a new episode of UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA tomorrow night at 10 on CNN.



BROWN: Well, you can't win if you don't play. But of all the tickets sold across America, just one had the combination to the second biggest treasure in Mega Millions' history, more than $1.3 billion. CNN's Omar Jimenez is outside Chicago where the winning ticket was sold.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's already going to be a great payout at $1.28 billion. But then we learned it jumped to about $1.34 billion because of last minute sales. It's the second biggest in Mega Millions' history, the third biggest all time across all U.S. lotteries and has officially changed someone's life.

Now, we still don't know who that person is at this point. But we do know where the ticket was sold right here at this Speedway gas station outside of Chicago in Des Plaines, Illinois near O'Hare Airport. People have been streaming in and out throughout Saturday even trying to see if lightning could strike twice here. Take a listen to Illinois lottery officials explaining how much of a cut this gas station gets.


HAROLD MAYS, ILLINOIS LOTTERY OFFICIAL: It's based on a percentage. The retailers get a 1 percent cut - selling bonus for the price up to $500,000.


JIMENEZ: Now Pam, technically this person has 12 months to come forward and claim their prize, but only 60 days to choose that $780 million cash on option, so the clock is ticking.


But it's not just about the jackpot winner, countrywide there were 26 people who won at least a million dollars in states from California to Louisiana, up to New York as well. And six of them, basically, paid a dollar extra on the front end for a chance at a two times multiplier and won, so they are taking home $2 million. That's probably the best investment I could ever think of, a dollar on the front end, a million extra on the back end, but only one person was that jackpot winner and now we wait to see who that person actually is. If we ever find out them.

BROWN: If we ever find out. Thanks so much, Omar. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Saturday night. And still ahead, the ongoing disaster in Eastern Kentucky deadly flooding has left at least 25 people dead and more missing. The latest from the scene up next.