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Speaker Pelosi's Visit Creates More Friction in Asian Countries; Ukrainian Troops Makes Slow Progress in the South; POW's Brutally Killed; Brittney Griner Attends Her 8th Trial; Europe Facing Scorching Heat; Brutal Drought Killing Kenyans. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 04, 2022 - 03:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Max Foster in London.

Ahead on CNN Newsroom, with the world on edge, China begins military drills near Taiwan just hours after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi departs.

Plus, the hunger crisis plaguing East Africa. We'll hear from those desperately trying to feed their children.

And exposed in courts, attorneys, trying to catch conspiracy theorist Alex Jones's dishonesty during a brutal condemnation in his trial in Texas.

UNKNOWN: Live from London, this is CNN Newsroom with Max Doster.

FOSTER: Tensions are building in the Taiwan Strait as China launches military drills in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's high stakes visit to Taiwan. Just hours ago, China began exercises including live fire drills which Taiwan is criticizing as irrational act that could damage regional stability.

Beijing's action follows repeated threats over Pelosi's trip to Taiwan. The House Speaker though wasn't deterred whilst in Taipei, she praised the island's commitment to democracy. And said her visit should be seen as a strong statement, that, quote, "America stands with Taiwan."

Pelosi is now in South Korea where she met with her South Korean counterpart in Seoul. This is her latest stop on her ongoing visit to Asia. It will next take her to Japan.

CNN correspondents are tracking all these developments for us. Steven Jiang is standing by in Beijing, and Blake Essig is live for us in Tokyo. But let's start with Steven. Because China did warn there would be repercussions of this Pelosi visit and we're seeing that play out now?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Max. The Chinese People's Liberation Army had said they have now begun their live fire drills in earnest. Earlier, we have seen them flight drones over one of the -- one of Taiwan's outlying islands, and also sending a larger than usual number of aircraft incursions into Taiwan's air defense zone.

But of course, they have promise so much more. And now of course they're trying to make good of their promises by potentially even conducting drills within Taiwan's territorial waters. And also firing missiles to fly directly above Taiwan.

All of that, of course, considered a major provocation by both Taipei and Washington. But from the Chinese perspective this is not only just fight but also part of their long promised forceful response to Pelosi's visit.

But state media here obviously saying all of these drills are unprecedented in terms of its proximity to Taiwan but also in terms of scale and intensity. But of course, many have pointed out this is also part of their political, psychological and information warfare very much directed at the domestic Chinese audience especially after days of fiery language from Beijing officials.

But one thing for sure, that is many people agree, this is unlikely just to be a few days of PLA drills then everything going back to normal because this visit could prompt all sides to have a rethink for the PLA. They could seize this opportunity to really trying to change the status quo by, for example, enforcing their claim that the Taiwan Strait is China's inner territorial waters not international waters.

That could have major implication on the U.S. and its allies that routinely send warship and planes to cross the strait. But at the same time, this could also lead to --- lead Washington to rethink its strategic ambiguity on defending Taiwan, because many in Washington say that policy worked only as long as Beijing believed it was weaker than the U.S. And that according to them, is clearly no longer the case. Max?

FOSTER: One big test to all of this could be, couldn't be, if a Chinese ship or a plane went into Taiwanese territory. And perhaps Taiwan viewing that as some sort of threat, and forcing them to defend themselves. Do you think that that's likely or a major concern?

JIANG: That is a precarious sort of situation -- that's why the situation is so precarious. Because part of this exercise or drill of course, is also the PLA trying to practice a blockade as they put it. And that -- that means they're trying to block access to major ports in Taiwan.


So that, obviously could really escalate tensions not only, you know, could affect the Taiwanese access to goods and services, that it's 24 million people depend on, it could even cause even more disruptions to a very, already strained global supply chains as well. Max.

FOSTER: A very busy shipping lane, also busy airspace. So presumably that's all been closed. And there's concern that that that could be a risk of any sort of stray weaponry hitting, you know, an innocent sort of ship or plane?

JIANG: Well, the Chinese and the PLA do emphasize that they've already given plenty of heads up, or warnings to potential air and marine traffics in their designated drill zones all around the island encircling Taiwan. We have also seen, state media reporting how before the major live fire drills started at midday today, local time. The commercial air traffic has cleared up as Blake has been reporting in the past few hours.

The Taiwanese authorities have also been liaising with their Japanese and Philippine counterparts to try to create alternative routes for commercial traffic, air traffic as well, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Steven, thank you. Let's speak to Blake then, because Nancy Pelosi is moving on, isn't she, with her Asia tour? But this is overshadowing everything because the tensions there around Taiwan affect the whole region?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely, Max. I mean, Taiwan is going to be what this trip, this tour of Asia is remembered for from the Speaker of the House. Now, as although she has now left Taiwan, she is currently in South Korea. She arrived late last night. The first U.S. Speaker of the House to visit Seoul in the past 20 years.

In this morning she also met with South Korea's national assembly speaker to discuss a number of topics, including security, economic cooperation, and climate change. Of course, the big concerns over North Korea were a big part of the conversation today, specifically the increase threats posed by North Korea with both speakers agreeing to support efforts to achieve actual denuclearization and maintain strong and extended deterrence against the hermit nation.

Now later this afternoon, Pelosi will also have a chance to be on a phone call with South Korea's president, Yoon Suk-yeol who is currently on summer vacation while Pelosi is in South Korea. She is expected to arrive here in Japan much later tonight for the final listed stop of her tour of Asia.

Japanese government official tells us that there are still working out Pelosi's schedule here in Tokyo. That includes who she's going to meet with. That being said, Japan's chief cabinet secretary said that he welcomes the speaker to Japan who is last here seven years ago. And that her visit will further strengthen personal and parliamentary exchanges between the United States and Japan.

And to your point, Max, Taiwan being a focal point of the trip, wherever she goes, although the Japanese government wouldn't comment on Pelosi's surprise visit to Taiwan. The chief cabinet secretary did express concern over China's live fire military drills currently underway and urged a peaceful resolution of the cross strait.

It's important to remember that Yonaguni Island, which is a Japanese island, Japan's further southwest island on the chain here is only 110 kilometers east of Taiwan. And so these military drills are big concern for the Japanese government who are concern for not only Japan's safety, but the safety and security of the people who live on Yonaguni Island with these military drills taking place in a very close proximity to the shores where these people live and make a living, fishing off the waters of the Yonaguni. Max?

FOSTER: OK, Blake Essig in Tokyo. Thank you.

The White House reportedly believes that Russia will try to frame Ukrainian forces for a prison attack. At least 50 prisoners of war were killed in a blast of the prison in the occupied east last week. But a U.S. official says Russia may suggest that Ukraine hit the prison with rockets.

Meanwhile, Ukraine says the Russian military contractor, Wagner, destroyed the prison to cover up evidence of torture. CNN can't independently verify this claim. But the United Nations is planning to create a fact-finding mission to look into what happened.


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



FOSTER: From the frontlines, Ukraine says the Russian offensive in the east is still stalled. It says Russia keeps pounding the region with artillery and airstrikes, but Russian ground attacks have been repelled. In the south, there are no signs of letting up in Russia's relentless attacks from the city of Mykolaiv.

Its mayor says the city took a pounding again on Wednesday morning. This time, he says, Russia launched air strikes which destroyed this supermarket and caused a fire elsewhere in the city. Mykolaiv has been struck almost every single night for the last month.

Ukraine says its forces are making slow but steady process in the south. A Ukrainian force says or officials, say Russian troops have been pushed out of some villages and strategic points in the region.

CNN's Nic Robertson is following the story live for us from Ukraine. Where do you see the power balance right now in these frontlines, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It feels static, Max. These are massive, massive, front lines. When you drive around the region here and go out to the front lines you realize a couple of things that the fields can be half a mile, a kilometer -- a kilometer long. That intersected by trees.

And that the forces, unlike what many people might imagined the traditional war of troops in a trench along the front line in one area, and a few hundred meters away troops in another trench. That -- that is a feature of this war. But in the land around here, everyone is hiding in the tree lines that intersect the fields because of the fear of being spotted by drones and targeted therefore by artillery.

But you get an impression of here is a very, very scattered troop base in the area. The concern on the Ukrainian side that on the Russian side they're building up forces. But the momentum of the battlefield here as I say static. We went with some troops to a village, the most forward line village that they've taken recently. That was taken a month ago.


ROBERTSON: The road to Ivanivka isn't safe. Playboy, his war name, is taking us there across country. He says his forces recaptured it from the Russians following a two-week artillery battle.

That was a month ago. It's still deserted, only abandoned pets and farmyard animals here now.

When you come in here and you look at the farm here, the animals left out, the dog in the terrible state, how do you feel?


ROBERTSON: And when can people come back to this village?

PLAYBOY: I think when we will go further forward.

ROBERTSON: Further forward?

PLAYBOY: Further to the next line of villagers.

ROBERTSON: Unexploded shells litter the ground, the end of war a long ways off, he says.

PLAYBOY: I think it's not real finished very fast because we are not so powerful right now.

ROBERTSON: During the attack here, Ukrainian forces estimate they killed about 50 Russian soldiers, injured about 100 more. The big challenge for the Ukrainians now, mustering enough man to advance further.

The frontline just a few kilometers away, a single artillery shell hits its target. The troops that took Ivanivka last month have moved on.

PLAYBOY: We are planning to move forward shortly.


PLAYBOY: I don't know. From my own opinion, I think in a month. ROBERTSON: At the village school, windows smashed, classrooms

trashed. Empty ration packs on the floor. And a message scrawled before they retreated.

The Russian troops have left a parting message, it says Russia is everywhere. It has no borders. And over here, they have crossed out the Ukrainian word for march, and said use the right language where the Russians appear to fight harder front line trenches near the village, armored vehicles and tanks taken out by artillery.

You get an idea of the ferocity of the fight here from the artillery impacts, and the way the trees around here are all shredded. But here is a surprise. Hitting these targets with U.S. gifted and 777 artillery wasn't as easy as the soldiers expected.

PLAYBOY: Triple seven shooting quite good. But not so good as we expected.

ROBERTSON: Not ungrateful, he says, and very willing to learn better skills.



ROBERTSON: And it comes down to those many things that we've talked about before, that Ukrainians say they need more of this heavy and strong weaponry. They need more drone support, more reconnaissance drones, they need more -- more men to put into these very, very long extended frontlines.

And I think that, perhaps, is the key feature of why it feels static at the moment.

But speaking to Ukrainian officials here, they do think that Russia is massing forces on the other side of the front line for a push here very soon. They think perhaps in a matter of days, and they do say Russia has been pulling troops from further north in the east of the country in the Donbas region around Donetsk, around Kramatorsk, around Bakhmut, these towns and villages that have taken a very heavy pounding in the east.

And that they are moving some of those forces further south here, because they might be able to make quicker and easier gains over these open fields rather than fighting through towns and villages, which, for military forces, is a much slower way to try to take territory, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Nic in Ukraine, thank you.

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 1 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. Both countries must still get unanimous approval from all 30 NATO

members. According to the alliance -- alliance, 23 of those countries have now given the greenlight, so far.

Now in the coming hours, closing arguments are expected to begin in the trial of U.S. basketball star, Brittney Griner, in Russia. She was arrested in February after vape cartridges with cannabis oil were found in her luggage. Griner pleaded guilty to the charges against her in hopes of securing a lighter sentence.

Clare Sebastian joins me here with more. Clare, there's been lots of hearings. What's this latest one going to look at?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So this will be the eighth, Max, in just over a month, so pretty gruelling few weeks for Brittney Griner. This could be the end. We don't know for sure if we're going to hear a verdict, certainly we will hear closing arguments, that something that her lawyers have confirmed.

I think they're going to continue along several different avenues, the two key ones are the plea for leniency, they've been citing things like her personality, her contribution to sports, they've brought in character witnesses and the fact that she pleaded guilty has expressed remorse and did not intend to break the law.

She said that the vape cartridges ended up in her luggage she was packing in a hurry. The second sort of prong of this defense is that they are talking about the improper circumstances of her arrest at that airport in Moscow in February, they're saying that she wasn't sort of given her read her rights, or informed of her rights quick enough, wasn't given access to a legal team quick enough.

And they are now talking about the way that those vape cartridges have been examined. They sort of discredited the prosecution's witness who talked about the machines that were used, there was some defect with them. So they're looking at all kinds of different details around this.

Of course, a plea for leniency is important, the charges carry a maximum 10-year sentence, all of this is taking place of course against the backdrop of how exactly to bring her home. The Russian -- the Russian side has yet to answer the U.S. offer for a prisoner swap.

FOSTER: Yes, take us through the prisoner swap, because obviously we're not getting any details on that, and the Russians particularly are saying that's, you know, a matter behind the scenes. But have we've seen any progress there? And does she play into that?

SEBASTIAN: So they -- yes, I mean, the Russians are saying we've had too many details on this. They are urging the U.S. side against what they call megaphone diplomacy, saying that really that should be taking place behind closed doors. Worth noting as well that the Russian side have continued to maintain that nothing can be decided on any kind of method of bringing her home until the trial is over.

So, crucially important to get through that. In terms of progress, I mean, the U.S. has made it clear that they have offered Viktor Bout, the convicted arms smuggler in exchange for both Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, who is another American citizen convicted of espionage charges in Russia.

It's become known that Russia wants to add a convicted murderer to that. The U.S. is not seeing that as a credible counter. We don't know really what kind of progress is made, Viktor Bout's lawyer in the U.S. said that he has some information from the Russian side that there is some progress. But again, I think that we won't see any serious movement on this until after the trial.

FOSTER: Clare, thank you.

Ukraine now expects to produce more grain this year than originally thought, as prime ministers says the new forecast is at least 65 million tons compared to 60 million originally predicted. Despite the news, officials say no grain ships were expected to leave Ukraine's Black Sea ports today.

The first one set sail earlier this week on its way to Lebanon, and officials say 16 more vessels are waiting for the green light to leave.

The war in Ukraine is also wreaking havoc on energy supplies around the globe. Now OPEC plus says it will -- it will boost oil production by 100,000 barrels a day starting next month. That's not quite the increase the U.S. was hoping for. And analysts say it won't make much of a dent really in fuel prices.


You can see the latest numbers there for Brent crude the global benchmark as well as the U.S. standard West Texas Intermediate Crude.

Now the U.N. secretary general is urging countries to tax what he calls the immoral profits of the biggest energy companies. Exxon, Shell and B.P. have all posted strong results as Russia's war in Ukraine has pushed fuel prices higher. The U.N. chief, Antonio Guterres wants developed countries to cut their demand for fossil fuels and make a quicker transition to renewable energy.


GUTERRES: It is immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from these energy crises on the back of the poorest people in the communities and that a massive cost to the climate. And I urge people everywhere to send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry and their financiers, that this grotesque greed is punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people while destroying our only common home, the planet.


FOSTER: Europe's getting hit with scorching temperatures this week. Just ahead, we'll find out how this hot, dry weather is taking a toll now on some of Europe's most important cash crops. Plus, parts of Africa in the midst of the worst drought in 40 years

leading to widespread starvation. More on that when we come back.


FOSTER: Temperatures are scorching parts of Europe with some places topping 40 degrees Celsius. That heat is expected to continue over the next few days at least, it's already taken a toll in France, as you can see water restrictions are in place in an effort to preserve crops. And it's hitting the heart of Italy's wine and olive oil industry as well.

The lack of rainfall is even affecting plants that normally thrive in hot, dry conditions. The soil is so parched that olive trees aren't producing enough fruit. These are extraordinary times, Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. You know, Max, this has been a six weeks of summer, three weeks of which we've had these extensive heat waves that you've noted about, of course. And these are playing out here, essentially in successive weeks, one after another with the next couple of weeks.

Because this particular heat wave doesn't look as long-lasting as the previous ones we've seen, and we take a look of course, folks are preparing here for their fins for these extensive heat wave, it takes place over the next few days.

But once again, 2021 was the hottest summer on record across Europe, it looks like 2022 certainly will compete with that yet again, and these temperatures they're not running just say three, four, five degrees above average. There is warm as 6 to 10 degrees above average in areas that are typically hot. And by usual hot we mean 36, but they're climbing up to about 42 degrees.

Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin and Milan, all running at least 5 degrees to 11 degrees above average in the past 24 hours. And this particular heat wave will culminate later on this afternoon across portions of central and northern Europe, and then much cooler air comes in here for at least a few days that assuring a marine influence bring those temperatures back down to reality.


Notice the southern tier of Europe doesn't get much relief here when it comes to this particular set up, but in places such as Paris, we drop it back down into the middle 20s, and then we gradually climb right back up again for another potential heat wave sometime this time next week.

So in Berlin, you'll see the drop to be pretty significant from 37, could be dangerous type heat here in place, before it moderates back out and begins a gradual climb over as well.

And this frontier is responsible for that cooling trend, Max, but you take a look in places like London, they're getting a bit of a break with this particular one where cloud cover is in place, temperatures typically have been left kind of at this range in the last few days. We do expect the next round of heat to potentially impact London as well.

So, this time next week, high pressure builds and those attempts could climb back up close to 30 degrees across areas of London as we work our way towards early next week. London into the middle 20s, Dublin around 18 degrees, Paris the showers are already pushing in, but afternoon highs will climb up to the 30s here and some of these storms could be severe.

So it does pack quite a bit of a punch for this type of year, could prompt some large hail, some gusty winds once it passes through. But once you feel the winds pick up, you know cooler air is on the back side of this, and that's when relief comes for Friday across this region. So at least this one is short lived, Max?

FOSTER: OK, Pedram, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us with that.

Withering drought is just one part of a dire situation in east Africa, another the war in Ukraine, and its effect on food supplies. One shipment of much-needed grain safely left Ukraine this week, but that shipment alone is not merely enough to solve the global food crisis.

CNN's Sam Kiley reports now from northern Kenya.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not a coffin he's being measured for. This is an urgent effort to keep him from the grave. His arms so thin for his age and height, he's categorized to severely, acutely malnourished.

Abalah (Ph) needs urgent help. He's about two, and he can't walk. He's one of six million kids across the Horn of Africa the U.N. says are on the brink of starvation. There's food for her youngest but nothing for (Inaudible) other children. Except for a little wheat, ground into a handful of flour.

She says her husband died last year, she's no livestock, she survived by selling charcoal where she can. But food prices have tripled this year. The evidence that humanities ancestors lived here one and a half million years ago, has been found in places like this.

Now water, the very source of life, is being measured out in coffee cups. And 11.6 million people across northeastern Africa are short of water in the worst drought for 40 years. Here in Ileret, northern Kenya, local officials say that at least 85 percent of animals once owned by Nomadic people, are dead.

And the U.N. says one and a half million herd of livestock have perished in Kenya, and across the Horn of Africa, close to 20 million people face acute food shortages. Now, the price of staple food like maize flour have more than doubled in many parts of Kenya since the disruption of global food supplies by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In short, Europe's war may soon start killing people in Africa.

This community is marginal, it's living on the brink, the very brink of survival. But so are millions of people right across the region. And critical to their long term survival is the stability of Kenya, a country that is facing droughts. It is facing massive increases in the price of fuel and food, and it's now facing general elections.

Instability here causes chaos across the whole Horn of Africa. The increased banditry across the vast Marsabit County has led to dozens of murders and thousands of livestock lost in raids. And it is now been met with military operations, and a dawn to dusk curfew.

Around 200 machine guns and other weapons were captured in one recent police operation here along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, roadblocks, screen travelers in daylight. Nomads are moving south in search of grazing, into major towns like Isiolo, and they've invaded wildlife sanctuaries like buffalo springs, competing with protected and often endangered animals for food and water.

The results can be fatal, two men were recently killed by a female elephant near here. But it's violence between humans that's putting the most traditionally stable country in the Horn of Africa at risk.

FRANK POPE, CEO, SAVE THE ELEPHANTS: Anytime you get, you get people that are hungry without other options, you've got a security situation. And northern Kenya is, you know, were boarded by south Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia.


All of which have had or are still in the grip of conflict that spews small arms into this, so you've got a little weapons up here and increasing hunger. So, yes, I'd say that's a security concern.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That concern will endure as long as this landscape continues to dry out and war in Europe chokes food supplies to Africa's most needy.

Sam Kiley, CNN, Ileret, Northern Kenya.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Still to come, humanitarian groups call on the E.U. to give a migrant rescue ship a place to dock after rescuing hundreds of people. Why they say it's a sign of a bigger problem when we return.

Plus, war is always filled with emotion. But for those in northern Ukraine, the Russian attacks now to neighboring Belarus feel extra personal. More on that when we return.


FOSTER: Three humanitarian groups have accused the E.U. of not doing enough to prevent the deaths of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. In a joint statement, the group's on E.U. leaders to respond faster and more efficiently to distress calls from ships carrying migrants.

The groups point out of rescue vessel holding more than 600 migrants is at sea right now, and has been requesting help for days. It's unable to help any other ships until its current passengers are able to disembark.

For months, northern Ukraine has endured Russian rocket attacks launched from neighboring Belarus. For Ukrainian in that region those results are doubly painful, a betrayal from a close friend as Jason Carroll reports.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is hard for Svetlana Slivka (Ph) not to tear up when she is asked what it is like to live so close to the border of Belarus. Whenever she thinks about it, she thinks of her son who is fighting in the war.

She says, "I live from call to call, therefore it is a very painful topic." Slivka (Ph) works in the only store in the tiny Ukrainian village Dniprovske located just two miles from Belarus.

Just last week, the Ukrainian military says that Russia launched a rocket attack aimed at northern towns and villages in Ukraine. Rockets launch from Belarusian Russian soil flying from small villages like this one.


This video taken from another rocket attack a few months ago. The sights and sounds now all too common here. Giorgi Sokolenko (Ph) recorded it one night on his phone. He says "it is very difficult for as you worry about your family, your relative, your country, we decided we will defend but you can't fight against artillery with machine guns."

Sokolenko (Ph) showed us the damage the strike cause after rockets hit his home. But he points out it's not just property damage, it's also many long-standing relationships between Ukrainians and Belarusians. Belarus seen as a key ally to Russia, this Ukrainian soldier patrols the border between the two countries. He was on duty the night in February when the war started, and he says armed drones were launched by Russians in Belarus.

He says before the war, there were friendly relations between Ukraine and the republic of Belarus. At the moment, we do not maintain any relations. He carefully showed us an area just a stone's throw from the border, now mined.

"On the 28th, we saw missiles flying from that direction," he says, this bridge that once connected the two countries now destroyed by the Ukrainian military to prevent Russia from entering Ukraine this way again."

It is a symbol for how people like Slivka (Ph) now feel about some of the Belarusians they once called friends. She says, "we expected such an attack from Putin, but we did not expect this from the Belarusians. It's just betrayal. It's a stab in the back that no one expected they are worse than Russia.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Dniprovske, Ukraine. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: The U.N. refugee agency reports more than 10 million border crossings are being made from Ukraine since the start of Russia's invasion. That number continues to rise as the fighting intensifies, with families grabbing what little they can to take with them onshore of what they'll come back to.

About half of those leaving the country have crossed over into neighboring Poland. The U.S. says there are more than 6.3 million Ukrainian refugees living outside the country right now.

CNN's Isa Soares spoke exclusively with UNICEF and U.N. goodwill ambassador, Priyanka Chopra Jonas about her work with refugees in Poland and the wars effects on them. Here's part of that conversation.


PRIYANKA CHOPRA JONAS, UNICEF GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: Most people thought that this war would be over much sooner so they have grabbed whatever they could and left, a lot of people have left their families, the elderly, the infirmed, the men behind, so children are uprooted from their homes have no idea where schools will be, where life will be.

And I think the biggest need is support for these families to be integrated into the countries that they are going to, for kids to not miss and carry on their education, whether that's with online classes, or distance learning or even with the language to be taught to them in the countries that they are going to be going to school in.

So I think the immediate, really need is to be able to think about the future of the refugees and where they're going to go, because of the uncertainty of the war.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and this is something that you're bringing up Priyanka, this is something that I saw when I was in Ukraine, when I went to Ukraine, I saw families returning because of course they didn't have the stability. Families who wanted a sense of normalcy, they wanted their children to go to school and weren't able to get that, so creating that environment for them is so important right now.

JONAS: And you see that with UNICEF has, UNICEF has 11 centers on Lodz (Ph) around Poland and they're like reception centers where refugees, children, all refugees can come to and they get information about how to protect themselves, how to get jobs, where they can resources, how their kids can go to school.

They have daycare for kids where moms if they have to go figure out what's the next steps are, they can leave their children at day care with these teachers that actually, you know, are working with them on education and development.

So that is such a way that comes off of the parents because they have the ability to get that kind of support and I think that is extremely crucial, where you intercept the refugees coming in, at the point where you can actually give them support to find the next steps in their lives.

SOARES: Was there a story, Priyanka, that from your time there that mark to you? That, you know, has kept you thinking day in and day out?

JONAS: Multiple stories I can't just say one but I think that, you know, hearing from mothers, mothers who are trying to keep their emotions in check in front of their children who are trying to be so strong who the caregivers of the family, the bread earners of the family.


Ukraine is being supported by its women right now because they're the ones who are crossing the borders going out and looking for jobs and sending money back to support their families. And I think that when I spoke to them, there was one mom who told me that there was no way that she would have left Ukraine. And she left along with her son. And she said, I only left because of my son. I don't want him to become used to the sound of sirens and explosions like so many of the other family members that I had.

They used to live in shelters, but now they live in their own home because they got used to it and no child should be used to the sound of missiles or explosions and bombs.


FOSTER: Well, if you'd like to help refugees fleeing Ukraine, you can find a list of vetted humanitarian organizations at

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones takes the stand in the defamation case against him for his lies about the Sandy Hook school massacre. Just ahead, how his own lawyers are pounding behind a major bombshell in court.


FOSTER: The Peruvian Prime Minister Anibal Torres Vasquez has resigned citing personal reasons. Torres is the fourth premier to leave office in the past year. His resignation on Wednesday comes as President Pedro Castillo is facing five criminal investigations. Two of the investigations are trying to determine whether Mr. Castillo, seen here on the left, is part of a criminal organization. Presidents in Peru can be investigated whilst in office but can't be charged.

Voters in Kenya go to the polls next Tuesday for an election seen as crucial to the region's stability. Some observers say the outcome of the presidential vote could be close enough to push Kenya into a runoff for the first time.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement on Wednesday urging, quote, "all Kenyans to support free and fair elections that are conducted peacefully. The two candidates leading in the polls are former allies now turned foes. On one side, there is deputy President William Ruto who calls himself the hustler-in-chief because of his humble beginnings as a chicken seller.

On the other side, veteran opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. He has run for president four times before and lost. This time, Odinga's running mate is Martha Karua who hopes to become the country's first female deputy president.

Women holding office in Kenya are becoming more common. We saw when governmental post back in 2017, but this positive movement is overshadowed by growing acts of violence against female politicians.

Women say the violence could hinder their rights and restrict the power of their vote.


Sources tell CNN Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. had been deposed as parts of -- as part of a New York probe into the Trump organization's finances. The depositions were delayed last month after their mother died.

Meanwhile, the federal investigation into the U.S. capitol riot is digging further into the Trump White House.

CNN's Jessica Schneider has more on that story.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The Justice Department escalating its investigation into January 6th with CNN learning up to new key subpoenas to the former White House counsel and his deputy. Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin are the highest ranking White House officials to be subpoenaed so far.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): This is probably bad for President -- former President Trump.

SCHNEIDER: Prosecutors are already deep into their investigation of plans from Trump allies to overturn the 2020 election. Two top aides to Vice President Pence appeared before a grand jury last month. Subpoenas have already been served to several people who schemed to create fake slates of electors, saying Trump won the 2020 election in several swing states. And earlier this summer, FBI agents seized lawyer John Eastman's phone and raided Jeffrey Clark's home.


KINZINGER: It shows that this is more than, you know, what did John Eastman do, the attorney that basically came up with that crazy scheme to overturn the election, and it probably is a very deep interest of what the president did.

SCHNEIDER: Cipollone's subpoena is significant, because he was close to the president in the West Wing on January 6th.

PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I think I was pretty clear, there needed to be an immediate and forceful response statement, public statement, that people need to leave the capitol.

SCHNEIDER: Cipollone sat for several hours of a closed-door deposition with the January 6 select committee, careful not to divulge any conversations directly with Trump. Former prosecutor, Elie Honig says those executive concerns could prove to be a hurdle for Justice Department prosecutors.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Donald Trump might try to step in and claim executive privilege in front of a grand jury. You can claim executive privilege. But there's a difference between claiming executive privilege and actually winning on executive privilege. This is actually exactly what happened in the Richard Nixon tapes case back in 1974.

SCHNEIDER: Nixon's tapes were ultimately ordered released by the Supreme Court. The chairman of the Senate judiciary, Dick Durbin, he is now calling on the Pentagon's inspector general to investigate these missing text from senior officials at the Defense Department.

The Pentagon has responded saying they are aware of the request, but they are still trying to get a official asked from Senator Durbin.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: Voters in the U.S. state of Kansas are celebrating after rejecting an attempt to weaken abortion rights in the state Constitution. It was the first major electoral test since Roe versus Wade was overturned in June. With abortion rights now under scrutiny in many states, President Biden has signed an executive order on Wednesday to ensure access to abortion for women who must travel out of state. He said the vote in Kansas shows voters are fired up about the issue.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't think the court has an any notion for that matter, or the Republican primary for that matter to decide how -- how far to press their extreme agenda , and how women are going to respond. They don't have a clue about the power of American women. Last night in Congress in Kansas they found out.


FOSTER: The historic turnout in Kansas could signal the mood in the U.S. ahead of the midterm elections. Abortion referendums are on the ballots in at least four states this November.

Now stunning scenes in a courtroom in Texas on Wednesday, right wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones finally admitting what he had previously called a hoax on his podcast. For the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 20 children and six adults actually happened.

In a huge bombshell, the lawyers for one of the children murdered in the shooting obtaining years of Jones's phone records and sharing them in court.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has more on the revelations.


UNKNOWN: Whenever you're ready, Mr. Jones.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Conspiracist Alex Jones facing reality, questioned by lawyer representing parents of six-year- old Sandy Hook victim, Jesse Lewis.

MARK BANKSTON, PLAINTIFF LAWYER: You and your company want the world to believe that this judge is rigging this court proceeding to make sure that a script, a literal script is being followed, that's what you want the world to believe, right?

ALEX JONES, HOST, THE ALEX JONES SHOW: Aren't I barred from talking about this?

BANKSTON: I'm asking you question, Mr. Jones.

UNKNOWN: The way court works is you question until there's an objection.

MARQUEZ: Jones struggling to answer without being contradicted by either his own words, or those being said by others on his behalf. Just last Friday, Robert Barnes filled in for Jones on his info war show.


UNKNOWN: Actually, the judge is rigging the court proceeding can make sure that the script in it, it's literally a script, a script. It's called in a certain way for future audiences.

MARQUEZ: Jones's cross-examination follows withering testimony from Scarlett Lewis, Jesse's mother. She faced down Jones, the man who told and fanned lies that the mass murder at Sandy Hook never happened. Her son, Jesse never existed, and his mother, merely an actress.

SCARLETT LEWIS, MOTHER OF SANDY HOOK SHOOTING VICTIM: And then to have someone on top of that, perpetuate a lie, a lie, that it was a hoax that it didn't happen. There was a false flag that I'm an actress, then you get on and you say, sorry, but I know actresses when I see them, do you think I'm an actress.

JONES: No, I don't think you're not.

UNKNOWN: No, you can't talk right now.

MARQUEZ: Jones under pressure found liable in three separate defamation lawsuits brought by the families of 10 victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. The jury for this case, determining how much Jones must pay for his lies.

Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake with actors in my view, manufacturer.

MARQUEZ: The Parents lawyer establishing Jones made hundreds of millions of dollars over several years based on text messages from his phone, evidence Jones didn't realize they had catching him in another lie.

BANKSTON: Twelve days ago, your attorney's messed up and sent an entire digital copy of your entire cell phone with every text message you've sent for the past two years. And when informed, did not take any steps to identify it as privileged or protect it in any way. And as of two days ago, it fell free and clear into my possession. And that is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn't have text message about Sandy Hook. Did you know that?

JONES: I see, I told you the truth. This is your Perry Mason moment. I gave them my phone.

MARQUEZ: Jones testified earlier in a deposition that he searched the text messages on his phone for the term Sandy Hook. And it came back with no hits.

JONES; I had several, several different phones with this number, but I did. Yes. Well, of course. I mean, that's why you got it.

BANKSTON: No, Mr. Jones. That's not who I am.

JONES: My lawyer sent it to you, but I'm hiding it. OK.

UNKNOWN: Mr. Jones, --

BANKSTON: Mr. Jones --

UNKNOWN: -- please just answer questions.

MARQUEZ: Jones's defense on his show he's only asking questions and the mainstream media is taking everything he says out of context.


MARQUEZ: The family of Jesse Lewis is asking for up to 150 million in damages, but there are concerns not only in Texas, but also in Connecticut where there are other families who are suing Jones that he may be using bankruptcy laws to try to protect tens of millions of dollars if juries come back with large damage awards to them.

The jury deliberate for a short time on Wednesday evening, they begin a full day of deliberations on Thursday.

Back to you.

FOSTER: Still to come, six-time major champion Phil Mickelson along with 10 other golfers are suing the PGA Tour. We'll hear what's behind the litigation when we return.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The CNN weather watch is an association with visit Maldives. Let's show you the picture across the United States here. Lots of

activity when it comes to showers and thunderstorms, a few pockets of excessive heat in place there. And of course, we've had a lot of wet weather across portions of the central United States, parts of the Midwestern United States into the Tennessee. Even the Ohio Valleys.

And that's the area we're watching here for additional rainfall. Of course, we saw historic flooding around St. Louis in the last couple of days. And we'll see some energy shift a little farther towards the south and east here increasing the risk for some excessive rainfall in these areas, including Louisville, Kentucky, Memphis, Tennessee, and portions back towards say Kansas as well.

But notice, warmth stays in place across portions of the southeast. Big time heat across the interior portion of the northwest around the coastal Carolinas into areas of Delmarva. Temps could warm up into the lower 40s. That's where the heat alerts are. Many that has seen quite a bit of heat alerts all summer across Little Rock, Shreveport into Dallas, Texas, also into the lower 40s, and historic heat also taking place across the western and northwestern U.S. here.

Seattle climbs up and stays there into the 30s for a few days, but we do see some relief as early as Monday afternoon. Vancouver, B.C. aiming for 27 degrees, Denver 23, Dallas climbs up to almost 40 degrees and how about the four corners region?

You know, that's the only point in the U.S. four states touch one each -- one another across that region, quite a bit of flooding in the coming days.


FOSTER: Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson along with 10 other professional golfers filed an antitrust suit against the PGA Tour, calling it a monopoly. This comes after the tour suspended Mickelson and other golfers who joined the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf series. That meant they could no longer play in PGA events.

The lawsuit alleges the PGA Tour is denying the LIV players the opportunity to earn an income. The PGA Tour commissioner responded, saying they would defend themselves and portrayed the LIV golfers as freeloaders.

The National Football League says it will appeal the six-game suspension handed down to Cleveland Browns quarterback to Deshaun Watson, that's after judge found he violated the league's personal conduct policy in private meetings with massage therapists. The league had been pushing for a full season suspension instead.

CNN Sports Carolyn Manno reports.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will determine who hears the appeal and has the option under the collective bargaining agreement to consider that appeal himself or to appoint a designee to do so. But the appeal ruling is final and it's binding to all parties. Though the NFL's Players Association and Deshaun Watson could potentially file a suit.

This decision to appeal comes after the NFL called for Watson's indefinite suspension before this decision was made. So it's not surprising that they've decided to do this when you consider that the NFL is arguably the country's most recognizable institution and that it's track record concerning matters involving the mistreatment of women has been very inconsistent and often met with a lot of criticism.

So, they almost had no choice from a P.R. standpoint. It's something that they, they needed to do. But remember, the NFL is not the criminal justice system. They're a sports league. I mean their effort to negotiate for an independent arbitrator in the most recent collective bargaining agreement underscores that fact that they do not want to be moral arbitrators handing out punishments.

I mean, they have very nuanced relationships with the players association, with their ownership, with a lot of other partners. But before that negotiation took place it was Roger Goodell who was making these calls and handing down harsher punishments for violations like marijuana offenses. Violent on the field hits gambling offenses, for example, and those are arguably very pale in comparison to a case that's involving alleged sexual misconduct of upwards of 30 women.

But Deshaun Watson has not been charged with a crime. He has denied any wrongdoing and most of the civil suits have been resolved. So, a press conference is tentatively scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Several plaintiffs are expected to speak on what has transpired so far. Their goal is going to be to stay in the news cycle as this plays out and as the regular season quickly approaches.

FOSTER: I'm Max Foster. Back with more CNN Newsroom in just a moment, including the very latest on those Chinese military drills around Taiwan.