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U.S. Cautions Americans After Al-Zawahiri Strike; Wartime Shipment of Ukrainian Grain Anchors in Turkey; Ukraine Says Troops Fending Off Russian Advance in Donetsk; Sandy Hook Parents Testify in Defamation Trial; Legendary Dodgers Broadcaster Vin Scully Passes Away at Age 94. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. Thank you for joining us. I wanted to bring you up to date with our latest stories this hour.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in Taiwan becoming the most senior U.S. official to visit the island in 25 years. Pelosi's trip was met with an immediate response from mainland China which carried out military drills near Taiwan.

And a source tells CNN former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone has been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The move signals an aggressive step by the Justice Department looking into former President Trump's actions before and after the January 6 Capitol riots.

The U.S. is cautioning Americans around the world after the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The State Department says there is a higher potential for violence and terrorist attacks in retaliation.

Meanwhile, CNN has identified the house in Kabul, Afghanistan where al-Zawahiri was killed. CNN's Alex Marquardt has more.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New revelations into the counterterrorism operation that killed the world's most wanted terrorist. Smoke billowing over Kabul following the pinpoint strike on Ayman al-Zawahiri's house, the windows of that house blown out but the structure intact. Evidence of the care that was taken to avoid collateral damage.

Aside from Zawahiri, U.S. officials say, no one was hurt or killed. And the BBC visited the house now draped in a green covering. The al- Qaeda leader, the White House said, was killed on the third floor balcony.

JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR: In this case, we used an unmanned aerial vehicle with missiles obviously and two of those missiles were fired at Mr. Zawahiri while he was outside on that third floor balcony. The president made it very clear when he made the decision, but he wanted to make sure we avoided civilian casualties, and we know we did.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Visual and other kinds of intelligence confirmed that, the White House's John Kirby said, but there is no DNA evidence of Zawahiri's death. The intelligence gathering and planning took place for most of the year. This situation room meeting with top national security officials was in early July when President Biden was shown a model of Zawahiri's building.

Confidence had grown that the al-Qaeda leader, who had a $25 million bounty on his head, had moved into downtown Kabul with his family. He never left the house, officials say, but his family's movements were tracked and he was spotted on the balcony where he was eventually killed early Sunday morning Kabul time with two missiles launched by a drone overhead known as Hellfire, a U.S. made air-to-ground missile that allows for precision strikes.

Zawahiri's last recorded message was just three weeks ago. He had become more of a spiritual figure head than an operational leader of al-Qaeda, but his presence in the Afghan capital is evident. The U.S. says that the Taliban reneging on the deal known as the Doha Agreement, that they would not harbor terrorists in Afghanistan.

SULLIVAN: There were senior members of the Haqqani network who are affiliated with the Taliban who did know that Zawahiri was in Kabul. There may have been other members of the Taliban who did not know. We have already been engaged with the Taliban. And I'm not going to preview any further actions that we will take to ensure that the Taliban lives up to its commitments.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The Taliban has condemned the strike but the Biden administration immediately held it up as proof that terrorists can effectively be targeted inside Afghanistan with no U.S. boots on the ground.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: If you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out.

MARQUARDT: There's no doubt this was a sophisticated well executed strike, but it does remain to be seen whether this over the horizon capability as it's known, striking from outside Afghanistan, can be scaled up and replicated against terrorists who may be less prominent and live in more remote areas.

As for who may be the successor to Ayman al-Zawahiri at the top of al- Qaeda experts believe that the leading candidate is a fellow Egyptian named Saif al-Adel. He is believed to have been living in Iran. He has been on the FBI most wanted terrorist list for years and there is a reward for up to $10 million for information on him.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: Now the first wartime shipment of Ukrainian grain from the port of Odesa is set for inspections in Turkey. They are due to be carried out by representatives from the U.N., Turkey, Russia and Ukraine. These are live pictures.


You can see some people on board there. We're assuming they are the inspectors. After that the ship will head to its final destination Lebanon.

On the ground in Ukraine powerful explosions have been reported in the southern city of Mykolaiv. The mayor says the strikes destroyed a supermarket and caused a fire in the another part of the city. He says rescue operations are now under way.

Russian strikes have also been hammering the eastern Donetsk region with heavy shelling reported along much of the frontline. CNN is covering the story from every angle. Jason Carroll is live for us in Kyiv. Looking at those latest military developments, take us through the current state of the war -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well of course, when you look at the area in the south, Max, take for instance we continue to see heavy shelling in the area of Mykolaiv, we've seen that over the past few days. Continue to see that in the area of Kherson.

This as Ukrainian forces are really keeping up their pressure on Russian forces down there in the south. Ukrainian military says that they've been able to carry out strikes on three Russian targets in that area using Ukrainian planes, able to take out those three strikes -- those three targets in addition to taking out some sort of a Russian weapons depot.

They also say that they have been able to carry out long range missile attacks on Russian targets in the south. But when you look at what's happening in the east it's the Russians who say that they've been able to gain some ground there. They say that they have been able to take over several settlements in the Donetsk area of Donbas. But the Ukrainians pushing back on that a little bit. Basically, saying that any gains that were made were incremental and that they've been able to push them back just a bit.

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine weighing in on this issue. Basically, saying that the weapons, and the ammunition, the aid that the United States has given Ukraine has greatly helped the efforts here. But President Zelenskyy also weighing in on this issue saying that Ukraine when it comes to military is really still at a disadvantage.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We cannot overcome the advantage that the Russian army has in artillery and troop numbers and this is very much felt in combat especially in the Donbas. It is just hell there, words cannot describe it.


CARROLL: And also, just wanted to speak a little bit about what the president, President Zelenskyy was saying about evacuation efforts in Donbas. As you know, Max, that is well under way, there are some 200,000 people that need to be evacuated out of the area. The government here in Ukraine saying that they will help economically, will help in terms of transport getting out of that area as well -- Max.

FOSTER: Jason Carroll in Kyiv, thank you.

And Nada is in Istanbul. You've got the ship I believe behind you carrying this grain. Just take us through the process there. It's being inspected, isn't it?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Max. And this is a moment that has been weeks in the making. We saw delegations from that Joint Coordination Council which was established and opened in Istanbul last week including representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations.

They arrived just a little over an hour ago at a port nearby where they brought a small boat to travel where the ship is currently residing. You can see it just behind me. Now the inspection is currently ongoing. Now those delegations will be taking a look at the vessel, ensure that it is only carrying the agricultural goods that were agreed upon under the framework of the Black Sea Grain Initiative deal. It's primarily, of course, the corn that is being transported to Tripoli, in Lebanon. Now according to the JCC there are 26,000 metric tons of corn that are currently on board this vessel.

And once it passes the inspection, it will carry on with sailing to Tripoli in Lebanon which of course, will come with very welcome news to Lebanon which is so heavily dependent on Ukraine's grain exports. But this really is just the beginning. This is a critical moment that world leaders have been waiting for, for months now, that no grain shipments have left Ukraine's Black Sea port since the war began. So, this is a key moment. But only a small fraction of the nearly 20 million metric tons of grain currently stuck in silos in Ukraine's southern Black Sea ports.

Now what this really is a test of how well this deal can work in practice. We've seen this vessel behind me traveling through this carefully identified safe corridors through the Black Sea. It arrived in Turkish waters off the coast of Istanbul late last night. And is now of course undergoing that inspection.


If this can work in practice and it will pass through to Lebanon and this will give confidence to commercial shipping companies to send more ships to Ukraine to deliver those port exports from Ukrainian ports. So, this is a key test, a moment the world leaders have been waiting for. And really, we've heard signs of optimism from officials across the board -- Max.

We'll see how it goes. Nada, thank you very much indeed for joining us from Istanbul.

Still to come, parents of a child killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting testify about the hell talk show host Alex Jones inflicted on them through his lies.


FOSTER: In a Texas courtroom the parents of a child killed during the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre testified Tuesday that Infowars host Alex Jones made their life a living hell by pushing claims the murders were a hoax. Jones is on trial to determine how much he must pay for spreading falsehoods about the school shooting that claims 26 lives. CNN's Miguel Marquez reports.



MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): My son existed, says Scarlett Lewis, the mother of six-year-old Jesse Lewis speaking directly to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, in an Austin Texas courtroom.

LEWIS: Jesse was real. I am a real mom.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In an utterly unthinkable sign of our times, Scarlett Lewis makes the case that she and her dead child are real directly to Jones.

LEWIS: It doesn't exist, that I'm Deep State. It's just not true. I know you know that. That's the problem. I know you know that. And you keep saying it. You keep saying it. Why? Why? For money? You've made a lot of money while you've said it. I know you're -- I mean. I know you believe me. And yet you're going to get -- you're going to leave this courthouse and you're going to say it again on your show. You're saying no, you just did it.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): On his show today. Today, he raised questions about both Scarlett Lewis and the boy's father who are seeking up to $150 million in damages.

ALEX JONES, CONSPIRACY THEORIST: He is being manipulated by some very bad people. But I'll just say, I got to be honest. He's slow. OK. And his ex-wife is not.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The man Jones is calling slow and manipulated. Jesse Lewis' father, Neil Heslin.

NEIL HESLIN, FATHER OF JESSE LEWIS: I was blessed with six and a half years. Expect more than one of his friends -- oh, God -- but I cherish those babies, emotions which is ...

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In all, families of seven victims and one FBI agent have successfully sued Alex Jones for defamation in three different trials taking place in both Texas and Connecticut. Jones testified he was simply trying to get answers to questions that others were asking.

JONES: I never intentionally tried to hurt you. I never even said your name until this case, came to court. I didn't even really know you were until a couple of years ago when all this started up. The internet had a lot of questions. I had questions.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Based on a separate legal filing families of Sandy Hook victims alleged Jones is using bankruptcy laws to shield tens of millions of dollars from any possible liability.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.


FOSTER: Now still ahead, baseball says good-bye to a legend. We'll look back at the life and legacy of Vin Scully after the break.



FOSTER: Americans are leaning more heavily on their credit cards as they deal with the rising cost of living. The New York Federal Reserve says during the second quarter U.S. household debt surpassed $16 trillion for the first time ever. Over the past year credit card debt has jumped by about $100 billion or 13 percent, that is the biggest percentage jump in more than 20 years. However, Americans continue to pay down debt on schedule reflecting the very strong job market.

Starbucks is blaming China's strict zero COVID policies for a massive drop in sales. In the quarter ending in early July, sales at Starbucks locations in China dropped 44 percent. During that time China was going through its most severe COVID restrictions since the pandemic began. The coffee company's largest market in China, Shanghai was totally locked down for about two thirds of the quarter. But Starbucks says the situation is improving as restrictions ease.

NASA has now released more images taken by the James Webb space telescope. You're looking at the Cartwheel Galaxy located almost 500 million light years away. This image shows how the galaxy has changed over billions of years and also reveals how details about star formation and the black hole are the center of the galaxy.

Now in Major League Baseball the San Diego Padres have acquired all- star outfielder Juan Soto as part of a blockbuster trade with the Washington Nationals. In just five seasons, Soto has established himself as one of baseball's most feared hitters. The Dominican known as "Childish Bambino" is a two time all-star and he was on the Nationals team that won the World Series in 2019. Last month he won the home run derby at Dodgers Stadium. His soon to be former team has the worst record in baseball.

Now baseball fans are paying tribute meanwhile to a legend. Vin Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers for more than six decades has died at the age of 94. CNN's Andy Scholes takes a look back at his life and his legacy.


VIN SCULLY, DODGERS SPORTSCASTER: Hi, everybody and a very pleasant Thursday evening to you, wherever you may be. ANDY SCHOLES, CNN WORLD SPORT (voice-over): Vin Scully, the revered

face of the Dodgers, worthy of a year book cover. Flip inside and see the schoolboy who always wants to become a sportscaster.

SCULLY: We had a big old radio on four legs, and I would crawl underneath the radio so that the speaker was directly over my face and I would be listening to a game that meant absolutely nothing to me. Alabama/Mississippi. But what intrigued me and thrilled me was the roar of the crowd.

SCHOLES (voice-over): The captivated youngster went on to play center field at Fordham University, graduating with a degree in radio. Scully broke in as an announcer with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950, as the yearbook shows. Mentored by legends Connie Desmond and especially Red Barber.

SCULLY: He was indeed another father. And eventually many, many years later, he wrote in a column maybe I was the son that he had never had. Maybe the red hair had something to do with it, but we were that close.

SCHOLES (voice-over): Scully would make any father proud. Honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame, lauded by critics including the author of "Voices of the Game."

KURT SMITH, AUTHOR, "VOICES OF THE GAME": I think anyone who really has studied baseball broadcasting or indeed, heard Vin Scully would agree that Scully is the Roy Hobbs of baseball broadcasting, the best there ever was. He has converted more casual fans in to hardened fans and more non-baseball fans into baseball fanatics than virtually any broadcaster that I can think of.

SCHOLES (voice-over): What words can describe Scully's words? Lyrical, poetic, master story teller.

SCULLY: At '75 club which bowed finally to the big red machine.


SCHOLES (voice-over): But Scully thinks he made his mark with silence, by not over announcing the moment. And when Kirk Gibson hit the dramatic homerun to beat the Oakland A's in the 1998 World Series, Scully didn't say a word for more than a minute. Then --

SCULLY: In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.

SCHOLES (voice-over): Scully called the New York Mets come back against the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series --

SCULLY: Behind the man against Bill Buckner. Here comes nine and the Mets win it.

SCHOLES (voice-over): He also delved into football calling the catch Montana to Clark in the 49ers famous playoff win over the Cowboys.

SCULLY: Throwing in the end zone. Dwight caught it! Dwight caught it!

SCHOLES (voice-over): Scully's popularity often exceeded the players. Late in his career he served as Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade and Bowl Game. In 2016, he signed off for the last time as a regular broadcaster after 67 seasons calling Dodgers games. Weeks before hanging up his mic, Scully riveted a crowd at the Reagan Library.

SCULLY: If I have a trademark, it would be to call the play as quickly and as accurately as I possibly can and then shut up and listen to the roar of the crowd. And even to this day when that crowd roars, I'm that little 8-year-old kid curled underneath the radio back in New York City listening to Alabama/Tennessee.


FOSTER: Vin Scully died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. Following the Dodgers win on Tuesday night, manager Dave Roberts said: There's into better story teller than Scully.

And the team tweeted this tribute saying: There will never be another Vin Scully. You will be forever missed.

Thanks for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. "EARLY START" is next.