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China Lashes Out At Taiwan; Former NBA Champ Auctions Off Rings To Help Ukraine; U.S. Senate Ratifies NATO Membership For Sweden, Finland; ; U.S. Abortion Debate; Referendum to Limit Access to Abortion Rejected in Kansas; Volcanic Water Vapor May Cause Earth to Warm; Icelandic volcano rupture spews lava and smoke; Arizona Governor Candidate Doubts Own Candidacy; Counting Votes in Arizona; Threats to Election Workers; Interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 04, 2022 - 02:00   ET





Just ahead. China lashes out of Taiwan with large scale military sea and air exercises. Plus, cyberattacks after a controversial visit by the U.S. Speaker of the House.

Climate change leaving a trail of destruction around the world. A new study suggests the next extreme floods could be even worse, but we'll speak with an expert who says there's a way to prevent that.

Plus, he won two NBA titles with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. Now, this former Los Angeles Laker is auctioning off his rings to help the children of Ukraine.

Coming up. We will speak live with Slava Medvedenko.

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

CHURCH: And we begin with growing concerns over a sharp rise in tensions between China and Taiwan. After U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi his visit to the island. Just hours ago, China launched military exercises in response, including live fire drills which Taiwan is criticizing as an irrational act that could damage regional stability. Beijing's action follows repeated threats over Pelosi his trip to Taiwan.

But the warnings did not stop the House speaker who praised the island's commitment to democracy and said her visit should be seen as a strong statement that "America stands with Taiwan." Pelosi is now in South Korea where she met with her South Korean counterpart in Seoul just a short time ago. And this is her latest stop on her ongoing visit to Asia. Well, CNN correspondents are tracking all the developments.

Steven Jiang is standing by in Beijing and Blake Essig is live for us in Tokyo. Good to see you both. Steven, let's start with you. Many are concerned that China's military exercises could help prepare for a future attack on Taiwan. What is China's strategy here?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: While their strategy according to state media is to show who is in total control of this region and paving the way for the eventual "reunification" with Taiwan. As you mentioned, according to state media, these live fire drills have now started in earnest. So far of course, we have seen them sending drones over one of the outlying islands as well as sending larger than usual number of aircraft for incursions into Taiwan's air defense zone.

But of course, they have promised so much more including practicing a blockade as well as conducting drills that could be encroaching Taiwan into Taiwan's territorial waters. That means some 10 miles away from Taiwan shorelines, not to mention they could fire missiles that could fly right above Taiwan itself. All of that, of course, considered a major provocation by both Taipei and Washington.

But from Beijing's perspective, it's very much justified part of their long promised, a forceful response to Pelosi's visit. But of course, it's worth noting all of that is not only in military operations, but also part of Beijing's political, psychological and information warfare. That's very much also directed at domestic audience after days of fiery language from Beijing's officials. But one thing for sure is many people agree this is unlikely just going to be a few days of PLA drills and everything going back to normal.

The PLA, for example, may seize this opportunity to really change the status quo by trying to enforce Beijing's claim over the entire Taiwan Strait. That obviously could have potential major implications on the U.S. and its allies that routinely send warships and warplanes to cross the strait. But at the same time, this could also prompt a rethink in Washington about its long standing strategic ambiguity towards defending Taiwan because many think that policy only worked as long as Beijing believed it was weaker than the U.S. and many things that's no longer the case here. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. And Blake, I want to go to you now because while the U.S. House Speaker Pelosi has moved on to South Korea, China's live fire military exercises in response to her trip have intensified and that has some in Taiwan very nervous and indeed angry. What's the latest on this?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary although Pelosi and her delegation continue their trip in South Korea, the impact of their surprise visit to Taiwan continues to play out around the self- governing island, which is now left to deal with the fallout both economically and militarily today.


Taiwan's foreign ministry said that China shouldn't use Pelosi -- Pelosi's visit as an excuse to escalate tensions in Taiwan's defense ministry, also criticizing China for trying to change the status quo by conducting military drills around Taiwan. Now, this comes one day after Taiwan's defense ministry condemned the drill saying that the -- they essentially amount to a maritime and aerial blockade.

As a result, Taiwan had to negotiate alternative aviation routes with Japan and the Philippines because of China's military exercises in total. 18 international flight routes about 300 flights per day will be impacted. Now following the speaker's visit Taiwan's government also says that they're increasing security to prevent against cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns from external forces which they expect to play out here in the coming days.

Now, as for the local reaction in Taiwan around the speaker's visit, it's been fairly mixed. Taiwan foreign ministry has said that her visit helped bring international attention to Taiwan status as a Democratic partner in the world. And while some think that Pelosi's visit was beneficial, and that China shouldn't say who visits Taiwan others are worried that her visit would escalate tensions now.

Despite the fallout in Taiwan House Speaker Nancy Pelosi his tour of Asia does continue in South Korea. She arrived late last night. The first U.S. House Speaker to visit Seoul in the past 20 years. And this morning, she met with South Korea's national assembly speaker to discuss a number of topics including security, economic cooperation, and climate change. Of course, concerns over North Korea were a big part of the conversation specifically, the increased threats posed by North Korea which both speakers agreed to support efforts, to achieve actual denuclearization and maintain strong and extended deterrence against the hermit nation.

Later this afternoon, Pelosi will have a phone call with South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol who is currently on a summer vacation. While Pelosi is in Seoul right now she's expected to arrive here in Tokyo much later tonight for the final listed stop on her tour of Asia. Japanese government officials told me that they're still working out a Pelosi schedule in Tokyo and that includes who shall meet during her visit, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Blake Essig in Tokyo, Steven Jiang in Beijing. Many thanks to you both.

Well, Sweden and Finland are now one step closer to joining NATO after clearing an important hurdle on Wednesday. The U.S. Senate voted 95 to one to ratify NATO membership for the two countries. A rare display of overwhelming bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. The official ratification document now goes to President Biden for his signature.

One U.S. senator said Russia's invasion of Ukraine underscored the urgency of Wednesday's vote.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Russia's unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has changed how we think about the world security. That's why I strongly support the decision of these two great democracies. Sweden and Finland to join the most important and defensive alliance in the world, NATO.


CHURCH: Both countries must still get unanimous approval from all 30 NATO members. According to the alliance, 23 of those countries have now given the green light so far.

Well, the White House reportedly believes Russia will try to frame Ukrainian forces for a prisoner attack. At least 50 prisoners of war were killed in a blast at a prison in the occupied East last week. But a U.S. official says Russia may falsify evidence to implicate Ukraine. Meantime Ukrainian officials are dismissing suggestions by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder that Moscow wants a negotiated solution to the war in Ukraine.

He made the remark on Wednesday after meeting last week in Moscow with the Russian leader. So, let's bring in Clare Sebastian. She joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Clare. So, let's start with the prisoner of war deaths in the occupied East and efforts now underway to get to the truth of this matter. So what are you learning with so much at stake here?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So much at stake, Rosemary. The deaths of 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war still essentially unaccounted for both sides a week after this attack. They're still blaming each other. Ukraine -- the Defense Intelligence Department of the Ukrainian defense ministry has said that they believe the Russian sort of military armed, sort of a mercenary armed Wagner were behind this, that they say that they did it to try to destroy sort of evidence.


And the Russian side is also blaming Ukraine saying that they use U.S. -made weapons to launch this blast, to stop Ukrainian prisoners of wars -- of war admitting to war crimes. So, there's a lot of rhetoric on both sides. And meanwhile, no evidence is being presented and there's no clear path to obtain that evidence. The ICRC, the International Committee of the Red Cross mandated under the Geneva Convention to get access to prisoners of war, said as of yesterday that they have not had that access.

They have not had security guarantees for a visit and their offer of supplies has been unanswered. So, that is a critical issue. And the U.N. is trying to establish a fact finding mission on this. They say both sides have requested an investigation. Take a listen to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on this.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: We hope to have all the facilities from both sides for access, and for the attention of all data that is necessary to be able to clarify the truths about what has happened. So, this is a matter that we took very seriously. And we are working hard for them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SEBASTIAN: And meanwhile, as you said, the U.S. -- the White House believes that Russia will try to thwart attempts to investigate this by sort of falsifying evidence to frame Ukraine and to try to prove that it was them that launched this missile strike. So, a very critical moment a brutal attack and one that raises the question again of how to achieve some semblance of justice and truth in this war that grows more brutal by the day, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And Clare, let's get into Germany's former chancellor Gerhard Schroder. He met with Vladimir Putin and what he reported back isn't sitting well in key visit. What has been the Ukrainian response?

SEBASTIAN: Yes. The context of course, is that Ukraine has been sensitive for a long time about potential German conflict of interest here. So, this was already touchy. But to see this former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder known to be friendly with Vladimir Putin, someone who is the chairman of the shareholder committee of the Nord Stream company that runs the pipeline who only gave up his seat on the Russneft.

That's a Russian state oil company. On the Russneft board and may go to Moscow ostensibly to talk about gas supplies. According to Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, it was Schroeder himself who raised the issue of the Nord Stream 2, the pipeline, that Europe essentially blocked from opening at the beginning of this war and protest over Russia's actions in Ukraine that he raised the potential to use that in an emergency to bring gas supplies to Europe.

And also, talked about how Russia wants a negotiated solution in this conflict. All of that is not sitting well. And President Zelenskyy addressed this in the strongest terms in his address on Wednesday. Take a look.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It is simply disgusting when former leaders of major states with European values work for Russia, which is at war against these values.


SEBASTIAN: Now, of course, bear in mind that showed his visit to Moscow that looks very good for Russia as it continues to try to make the point that it is far too important to isolate on the world stage, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. And Clare closing arguments are expected to be heard in the coming hours and the trial of U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner. She was arrested in Russia in February on drug charges after cannabis oil was founded in her luggage. The U.S. is trying to negotiate a prisoner swap with Moscow but so far, they have not reached an agreement. So, Clare, what are we expecting in court today?

SEBASTIAN: We could, we don't know this for sure, Rosemary, but there could be a verdict today. The legal team for Brittney Griner, her Russian lawyers have said that we're approaching an end, we could get closing arguments today. In terms of what we expect to hear from them we know that they have said that they're going to give more information in their closing arguments as to how they believe that her arrest and the way she was treated when she was arrested at that Moscow airport in February was improper, that she was not informed of her rights or given access to a lawyer quick enough.

So, there's that. They're also arguing for leniency that she should be given a lesser sentence than the maximum 10 years that Russian law provides for the charges against her because she didn't intend to break the law and because of her track record in terms of sport and her contribution to sport. In Russia, of course, the backdrop is political. Russia has not agreed to a prisoner swap that has been offered by the U.S. as of yet.

The other thing to bear in mind is that this is happening on the same day that both Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister and U.S. Secretary State Antony Blinken will be at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia. They're not expected to meet formally, but they could be in the same room. An interesting sort of moment as this trial plays out in Moscow.

CHURCH: Yes, indeed it is. Clare Sebastian joining us live from London. Many thanks.


Well, Ukraine now expects to produce more grain this year than originally thought. Its prime minister says the new forecast is at least 65 million tons compared to 60 million originally predicted. The announcement came after Ukraine's grain exports through the Black Sea started to trickle out. The first grain ship has passed an inspection in Istanbul, and officials say 16 more vessels are waiting for the green light to leave.

Well, Germany's chancellor says there's no reason a refurbished turbine can't be shipped back to Russia to increase the flow of natural gas to Europe. Olaf Scholz visited the German plant where the vital piece of equipment is now being kept after being repaired in Canada. But Gazprom, Russian state-owned energy company says it's impossible to take delivery because of Western sanctions. That's despite the chancellor saying earlier that sanctions were not an issue.


OLAF SCHOLZ, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): What is important to me is to make clear that this turbine can be deployed at any time that it can be used. There's nothing standing in the way of its onward transport to Russia.


CHURCH: Germany says Russian gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline has slowed to just 20 percent since the turbine was taken offline. Chancellor Scholz is warning that even if the turbine is eventually reinstalled, there's no assurance that Gazprom will still honor its existing contracts.

Well, meantime, the world's top oil exporting countries say they will step up production by 100,000 barrels a day next month. But it's hardly the boost the U.S. government was hoping for when President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia last month. The increase is one of the smallest since OPEC quotas started in 1982. And it amounts to less than one percent of global demand.

Europe's getting hit with scorching temperatures yet again this week. Just ahead, how this hot dry weather is taking a toll on some of Europe's most important cash crops.

And disastrous flooding may become the new normal due to climate change. We will find out what can be done to prevent such expensive and deadly aftermaths.


CHURCH: Well, France is seeing scorching heat once again, it is the country's third heatwave this summer. Temperatures reach 40 degrees in some places on Wednesday. Nearly all regions of France have water restrictions in place and dry weather has sparked wildfire throughout the country. France has been under drought conditions since July and forecasters say get used to it.



FLORIAN HORTOLA, WEATHER FORECASTER (through translator): There have already been years with several heatwaves but this year is quite exceptional because we have high intensity heatwaves. Notably the weather in July during which we have 13 days of heat as well as the June heatwave, these heatwaves have been more and more numerous in recent years that are set to become more so in the years to come. All this is linked to global warming.


CHURCH: All right. Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. So Pedram, it seems this is the new normal, these high hot temperatures.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: That's exactly what I was going to say, you know, you count how many weeks of summer we've had so far, about six or so weeks to be precise. Three heat waves in that period. And essentially the new norm and tell you about the long-range forecast does bring additional rounds of heat. And we know 2021, one of the books as the hottest summer on record across Europe in its entirety.

And anytime you see temperatures in the hottest time of year, that shouldn't be into the middle and upper 30s. But they're in the middle and upper lower 40s across some of these areas. We know it's a big deal. It is five, six, even 11 degrees above average in the hottest time of year. So, that's why this is remarkable. And it's not just isolated areas, whether you're in Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin or Milan, temperatures still running as much as 10 or more degrees above seasonal averages.

And the trend with this particular heatwave, Rosemary, is that it's going to be somewhat short lived compared to the ones that we saw last as many as almost two weeks over the course of the middle of July. This particular one culminates later on this afternoon, we do expect cooler air to come in from the north and west over the next 48 hours and eventually set up shop across the northern tier of Europe.

The southern tier, of course, you expect it to remain hot, that will be the case but kind of speaking to these rounds of heat that come back every few weeks. Notice this, Paris goes from 32 down to 26 which by the way, is still above the average of 25 this time of year. But by this time next week, you get back up to 32. Keep in mind, this average is a 30-year average. So essentially, you're creating a new average here over the next few decades where we should be maybe into the upper 20s and lower 30s versus the middle 20s that were the previous 30 years average high temperatures.

And Berlin as well from 37 down into the middle 20s. The climb then begins going into early next week, Rosemary. So, this is the sort of heatwave we've been following. This is the sort of pattern that continues. And we know just how little air conditioning adoption has been in place there. Especially the more north you travel in Europe. So, another element of concern in that area.

CHURCH: Yes, it is a worry, isn't it? Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, many things. Well as if Kentucky hasn't suffered enough, the U.S. state is now battling a heatwave. It's been hammered recently by historic flooding. And Governor Andy Beshear says the death toll from that disaster currently stands at 37. Highs are expected near 32 degrees Celsius, about 90 Fahrenheit with heat advisories in effect through Thursday afternoon.

And officials are still assessing the damage to areas hardest hit by the floods. Residence in Isom, Kentucky without a grocery store after the only one in the town was destroyed. But the owner says she is determined to reopen because people in the community depend on her store.

Well, scientists agree that much of the extreme weather we're seeing in the United States and around the world is being driven by climate change. And a study published in the journal Nature found that these disasters are getting deadlier and more expensive. Researchers pointed to two devastating floods on the Delaware River in the U.S. in 2004 and 2006. In 2004, remnants of Hurricane Ivan led to widespread property damage in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

But another severe flood in the same area two years later took an even greater toll. Combined, the cost of the two disasters in the U.S. totaled more than $700 million. So to figure out how to cope with the disastrous floods, one need only look to Europe's Danube River. In 2013, flooding on the Danube broke a 500-year old record, but the destruction was limited because of improvements made after another flood 11 years earlier.

And improved early warning system was installed and investments were made in flood mitigating infrastructure.

Amir AghaKouchak is co-author of this study and a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at U.C. Irvine. He joins me now from Irvine, California. Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So let's get right into the study your group conducted and start in the United States. You looked at two devastating floods along the Delaware River in the Northeast. The basin was hit in 2004 and then again in 2006, both with devastating consequences. What was revealed about these tragedies and the infrastructure lessons that can be learned?


AGHAKOUCHAK: Our objective was to look at pairs of events and see if you have learned from the past and you have made significant improvement. In this case, there was only two years between the two events. But what we noticed was that the second event also resulted in significant impacts in more or less the same environment. And this shows us that we probably didn't invest properly to protect ourselves against similar events.

We can't stop floods from happening, but we can certainly plan better and invest better improving our (INAUDIBLE) reducing our vulnerabilities.

CHURCH: Yes. I mean, that is a critical point, isn't it? So, let's contrast that with the repeat floods along the Danube in Germany and Austria in 2002. And then again, in 2013, a very different outcome between these two storms. How were they able to decrease the risk of death and destruction over that decade?

AGHAKOUCHAK: In the European flood example, the second event was more extreme and more devastating from hazard perspective. But the impacts were a lot less, mainly because of the investment they did in better forecasting system and also better community work and reducing local vulnerabilities between the two floods. And because of that around two billion Euros of investment, they significantly reduce the impacts of the second event.

CHURCH: And what about socioeconomic concerns? Because not every country can invest in these kinds of upgrades? Can they? And what about the role poverty plays in the United States, because many of the people living in flood prone areas are there because of redlining, for instance?

AGHAKOUCHAK: That's correct. Unfortunately, this is a major issue, it gets into the environmental and climate justice aspect of the problem. We have 17 million people leaving behind levees in the U.S. And 15 percent of all those levees are rated as high hazard by army corps. That's a huge fraction to millions of people and a lot of them are basically poor neighborhoods.

CHURCH: So bottom line, climate change is here, it's staying and likely going to get worse. What kinds of extreme weather events should we be preparing for? And are there mitigation efforts that we should all be practicing right now?

AGHAKOUCHAK: Well, there are many things we can do. In my opinion, we need to revisit the way we design and plan our infrastructure systems. That's one thing. Of course, mitigation reducing carbon emission is really important to basically reduce the occurrence of severe events in the -- in the future. But what we can do now is to revisit how we design our systems. The way it works right now, it's based on the so- called stationary assumption.

We assume that statistics of extreme events remain more or less the same, or basically past is representative or future design and risk management. But our observations show that you're seeing more and more extreme events and model simulations show. We'll see more of them in the future. So we need to revisit to our guidelines, or design client as a planning guidelines today. It's not an easy task.

Federal State agencies, scientific associations and local communities need to work together to make it happen. But I think this is something really important that you need to work on.

CHURCH: Amir AghaKouchak, thank you so much for talking with us. Appreciate it.

AGHAKOUCHAK: My pleasure.

CHURCH: A Ukrainian basketball star who earned two championship rings in the United States has now put those jewel-encrusted keepsakes up for auction to help raise money for youth sports programs in his homeland. We will speak to him live after the break.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN. More people get their news from CNN than any other news source.

CHURCH: Former Ukrainian basketball star, Slava Medvedenko, has been part of the Ukraine defense forces since the Russian invasion. During his basketball career, he was with the Los Angeles Lakers, joining the second and third straight championships in 2001 and 2002 alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.

Championship rings are also valuable, but these were earned during the Lakers legendary three-peat seasons. Medvedenko is hoping to raise at least $100,000 for youth sports programs in Ukraine. The auction is set to end on Friday.

And Slava Medvedenko joins us now live from Athens, Greece. He's on his way back to Ukraine after organizing a series of charity exhibition games in Europe. Slava, such a pleasure to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, you played alongside two NBA all-time greats, winning back-to-back championships with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. Those rings you won together certainly meant a great deal to you, didn't they? So, tell us why you decided to auction them off.

MEDVEDENKO: I decided to be -- because that's very important for my country, you know. There's no reason to keep them in this hard time for my country because everything I can do I have to do for the win. And thank you for giving me that time to explain why it's important because the situation in Ukraine is very bad. Russia's aggression is bad. And I think that's a great time to sell -- to auction that ring to help my country.

CHURCH: And Slava, tell us about your charity, fly high foundation. And what the money raised from these rings will go toward to help?

MEDVEDENKO: Yes, we have like two main agenda for my foundation. One of that is help rehabilitate Ukrainian kids, most affected by war. We send them to the camp -- to camps in the west of our country, it's more safe there. And the second agenda is help to rebuild schools or gyms. Because I don't know if you know it or not but Russia already destroyed hundreds of class -- schools. And, like you know, we have a pretty strong winter and then cold during the winter. And to have our kids play inside the sport gym. We will try and rebuild it and restore it. That is our main agenda.

CHURCH: Right, and in addition to the rings, you have an organizing charity basketball games throughout Europe to support Ukrainian refugees. What's been the reception and how has that money helped?

MEDVEDENKO: We organized a charity game in Warsaw, this was a week ago. And that was great. All tickets were sold out.


People have been sitting till the last second of that game. We understand it's not like sport visible show, but people waiting, clapping, and they were happy to support our country. All the money we collect it goes to the Ukrainian refugees.

CHURCH: And Slava, you live in Kyiv with your wife and three children, what was your first reaction when Russia invaded your country? And what's daily life like for you in your family now?

MEDVEDENKO: A little bit of a correction, I live with my two kids in Kyiv and one oldest lives in Texas now. But she's come for me and she's traveling with me. And that's great. I have something -- some time to spend with her. But you're right, I'm so used to it and my kids are so used to it and adjust to this war. They're even not reacting on air alarm. They just continue to play in the backyard. And I think that's bad. Because all the people adjust to that war and as soon as I crossed the border with Ukraine and Poland, I understand the simple thing, it's more important. And to live without war, it's very important. But --

CHURCH: Right.

MEDVEDENKO: -- I kind of used to it for that kind of pressure.

CHURCH: And you've joined Ukraine's territorial defense forces and have had to carry a weapon, as a result of course, what is your role in the military been? And what would you like to say to the troops defending your country on the frontlines?

MEDVEDENKO: I just -- you know, when this war is began February 24th, I grabbed the weapon AK-74, and we started with my neighbors, defend our streets, we build a barricade, we patrol our streets to help our police and our army. To put all the energy to defend our city, Kyiv. But as soon as our army did a great job they pushed back Russian army back to the Belarusia and Russia's border. And I just recognized that I have to do something different because I'm not the best soldier and I'm not the best shooter. I decided to help my Ukraine country on a different way.

CHURCH: All right. Slava Medvedenko thank you so much for talking with us. And we wish you the very best in raising as much money as you possibly can with the auction of your rings. Many thanks.

MEDVEDENKO: Thank you.

CHURCH: And the auction site shows bids have already surpassed the goal of $100,000. Currently, the 2001 ring is bid at about 80,000 and the 2002 ring at about 60,000.

Well, polls show most Americans don't agree with the Supreme Court's recent decision on abortion rights. Now, voters have had their say in a key State in the American heartland. We will explain why it shocked almost everyone.



CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden, on Wednesday, signed a new executive order aimed at safeguarding abortion rights, among other things. It aims to ensure that women have access to abortion facilities if they must travel to another State.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I believe Roe got it right. It's been the law for close to 50 years. And I commit to the American people that we're doing everything in our power to safeguard access to health care, including the right to choose that women had under Roe V. Wade, which was ripped away by this extreme court. But ultimately, Congress must codify the protections of Roe as federal law. And if Congress fails to act, the people of this country need to elect senators and representatives who will restore Roe and will protect the right to privacy, freedom, and equality.


CHURCH: The Supreme Court's overturning of Roe V. Wade, just over a month ago, has already paved the way for more than a dozen states to ban or restrict abortion. The State of Kansas, which tends to be conservative, was expected to follow suit when it voted Tuesday on a measure to allow lawmakers to further restrict or ban abortion. Instead, a surge of Kansans turned out to vote overwhelmingly on Tuesday to keep access to abortion legal.



CHURCH: That vote means the right to an abortion will remain protected in the state constitution. But rights advocates say they expect more challenges in the months ahead.

We are learning that a powerful eruption near Tonga's main island back in January could temporarily affect the world climate. Scientists from the U.S. space agency said the eruption blasted so much water vapor into the atmosphere that heat can become trapped that will likely further warm the earth's surface. The NASA study shows enough water to fill 58,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools went skyward, equal to 10 percent of the water in the stratosphere.

While, meanwhile, fire is rising from a volcanic fissure almost four football fields long which erupted near Iceland's capital. The government says there has been intense seismic activity in the area in the last few days. While there's lava and smoke, officials say there isn't much ash, there's little threat to populations or infrastructure, and the eruption is not expected to affect flights.

Well, thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. World Sport is up next. And my colleague Max Foster will pick up things from there with more news from around the world in about 15 minutes. You're watching CNN. Do stick around.


LEMON: They are still counting the votes in Arizona's Republican primary for governor but that's not stopping one candidate from questioning the result. Kyung Lah, live for us in phoenix.

Kyung, hello. Back to you in Arizona, again this evening, for the reporting. Kyung, the Republican primary race for governor is still too close to call. Tell us more about where this race stands right now.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is razor-thin. You have less than two percentage points separating Kari Lake, that is the far-right firebrand, and then Karrin Taylor Robson, the establishment Republican. We just got a few more ballots from Maricopa County. And they didn't really move the needle all that much. It was just several thousand ballots. Basically, we're seeing the same margins in -- as you know, as we march on night by night. We are expecting, Don, at some point though, that early votes that were hand-delivered on election day that still have to have those ballots signature verified, eventually, those will be counted, that's more than 100,000 ballots and that could really move the needle. Don.

LEMON: So, let's talk about Kari Lake. Kari Lake is Trump-backed. Despite currently being on top, she's still saying that there may be fraud. What's that about?

LAH: Pull out your pencil and let's see if you can connect the dots of this logic here. Basically, what she is saying is that she still believes in the 2020 election lie. And, by the way, she held a victory press conference even though she hasn't won yet and the race hasn't been called by any organization. And she says that there was fraud in this election as well. She didn't give any evidence. But here is what she said. Take a listen.


KARI LAKE, (R) ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We outvoted the fraud. We didn't listen to what the fake news had to say. The MAGA Movement rose up and voted like their lives depended on it.


LAH: And Lake, of course, Don, says that if she lost, there had to have been cheating. She'd been saying that for two weeks leading up to the election. So, I don't know if you still have that pencil handy or you have -- basically, she's erasing parts of logic where it's comfortable and where it makes sense and it's, you know, works for her campaign.

But as we stand, right now, there is a very small margin of the votes that have been officially counted for both of these candidates. Again, that small margin, less than two percent, Don.

LEMON: She said all the right words for the election deniers and, you know, the sort of fringe MAGA people, blame the media, you know, fake news, blah, blah, blah. But this is what I don't understand, when you say get out your pencil. Because when I went to bed last night, Kari Lake was behind, much as Joe Biden was behind, right, in 2020. And then when the votes, the day of, and they counted all those ballots, when we woke up this morning, Joe Biden was ahead. When I woke up this morning, Kari Lake was ahead. So, then what is the difference between Kari Lake and Joe Biden? How does Joe Biden's fraudulent and hers not fraudulent? Did she explain that?

LAH: Again, Don, you are using logic. I mean, these -- we are talking about the same system, the same paper. The same --

LEMON: The exact same thing happened.

LAH: I mean, the same. The exact same. The exact same. And I'm so sorry to get animated here, but I feel like I'm on repeat. People who have been watching these elections, you know, wherever we are. It -- yes, it's the same. It's the same. It's just the victor that's different here and who it's convenient for.

LEMON: Boy, oh boy. And people believe it. Wow. Thank you, Kyung. Stay sane. See you soon.

LAH: You bet.

LEMON: Bracing for the worst, an expert testifying the FBI just isn't built to handle all the reports of threats and harassment against election officials. So, what will happen come the midterms?



LEMON: A stark warning heading into the midterms. Ahead of a national election officials group telling Congress today, the FBI lacks the full picture of reported threats to election workers. Here's part of her testimony, "Common refrain I hear from my members is that nobody is going to take this seriously until something bad happens, and we are all braced for the worst".

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testifying, too. Fighting back tears. We're recounting aggressive protests and threats that she faced as she oversaw the 2020 presidential election.


JOCELYN BENSON, MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: One night in December 2020, I was about to put my son to bed when dozens of individuals descended upon our home. Growing in numbers over the course of an hour, they stood outside my front door, waking my neighbors, shouting obscenities and graphic threats into bullhorns. Not long ago, my son, standing in our driveway, picked up a stick, turned to me and said, don't worry mom, if the bad guys come again, I will get them with this. He is six years old.


LEMON: Congress also warned that some senior election officials have been struggling to get security details from state police, which unfortunately is becoming more important with all of the false election fraud conspiracies. The FBI tells CNN, it is election crime coordinator's position in every field office across the country to deal with potential threats.

A deep red state saying no to abortion restrictions. What does this say about the post-Roe America? Well, Senator Amy Klobuchar is here with me next.



LEMON: Kansas votes overwhelmingly to protect abortion rights. The shocking result in the deep red State already changing the midterm landscape. And with just months to go before November, Congress has several key bills that could have huge impact for the country.

So, joining me, right away to discuss, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. We're so happy to have you on this evening. Thank you, Senator.


LEMON: The vote in Kansas is huge and it was one with both Democratic and Republican votes. What message is Kansas sending to the nation on abortion rights?

KLOBUCHAR: The people of Kansas, the sunflower state, turned out like no one thought possible. I think it's nearly double -- or more than double of what it was in the last midterm election, Don. And it wasn't just Democrats, as you say, independents, moderate Republicans, they don't like the extremism. They believe, like I do, that women should be able to make their own decisions about their reproductive health care.