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Senate Passed Inflation Reduction Act; Former POTUS Knocked January 6 Committee; There is Calm for Now Between Israel and Islamic Jihad; Iran Want Serious Nuclear Weapons Deal; Russia Hits Area Near Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired August 08, 2022 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom, and I'm Rosemary Church.
Just ahead, a major win for U.S President Joe Biden as the Inflation Reduction Act passes the Senate. We'll look at whether that could give Democrats the boost they're looking for in November's midterms.
A ceasefire is in effect between Israel and militants in Gaza after a weekend of deadly violence. We will have a live report from southern Israel.
Plus, new rocket strikes near a nuclear power plant are raising fears of a disaster in Europe. We're live in Ukraine with the details.
UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church.
CHURCH: Good to have you with us. Well, the U.S. is on track to make its biggest investment to combat the climate crisis in history. That's after the Senate passed the Democrats sweeping climate healthcare and tax bill, officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the deciding vote to break a 50-50 tie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The yays are 50. The nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided. The vice president votes in the affirmative and the bill as amended is passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Not a single Republican senator voted for the measure. They of course have a much different view of the bill. Here is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: American families are crying out for relief. The Democrats have decided to spend hundreds of billions of dollars of the people's money on a bill that lapse at the people's priorities, leaving Americans with higher electric bills, higher utility bills, higher gas prices, and more dependents on foreign countries that don't like us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: So, what's inside the bill, a record nearly $370 billion in energy programs and tax incentives to tackle the climate crisis. It also makes major changes to health policy, such as giving Medicare the power to negotiate some drug prices. And it imposes a 15 percent corporate tax on large companies as one of the ways to fund it all. It's a remarkable turnaround for President Joe Biden's agenda, which seemed orbit dead until recent weeks.
Arlette Saenz is traveling with the president and filed this report.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden, hailed the Senate passing the Inflation Reduction Act as an important part of achieving some of his key priorities for his domestic agenda.
The president spent Sunday at his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware after testing negative for COVID-19 twice. Over the course of the weekend, he released a statement following that Senate vote saying, quote, "today, Senate Democrats cited with American families over special interests. Voting to lower the cost of prescription drugs, health insurance, and everyday energy costs and reduce the deficit while making the wealthiest corporations finally pay their fair share."
The president added, "it required many compromises doing important things almost always does. The house should pass this as soon as possible, and I look forward to signing it into law."
Now the president's reference there to compromise this acknowledges the long and winding process the Democrats have been on to try to get this type of legislation across the finish line. This bill was often pronounced dead multiple times over the course of negotiations that lasted over a year, but Democrats have now moved forward a critical piece of the president's agenda, though it's smaller than what the president had initially proposed, but it includes historic investments in climate initiatives, also healthcare proposals, including allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drugs, drug prices for the first time.
There are also additional tax measures in here to pay for the measure including a 15 percent corporate tax rate. Now this bill still needs to make its way through the House before heading towards the president's desk. But President Biden is hoping that this is something that they can tout to voters heading into those midterm elections.
Now, additionally, the president on Monday is set to travel making his first official trip since being diagnosed with COVID-19 to the state of Kentucky where he will tour the damage after those devastating floods that occurred in the Eastern part of the state.
The president and first lady will be meeting with the state's Governor, Andy Beshear, and also with families and victims who have been suffering ever since those floods occurred in the state of Kentucky just last week.
This will mark the president's first official trip traveling since he received those negative COVID-19 diagnoses, the president had been cooped up at the White House for 18 days.
Arlette Saenz, CNN, traveling with the president in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
CHURCH: For more on this, I want to bring in CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen. He served as advisor to four U.S. presidents and joins us now from Boston, Massachusetts. Great to have you with us.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you, Rosemary. It's good to be here.
CHURCH: So, President Biden has been juggling a multitude of challenges throughout his administration, including inflation, but lately his prospects have brightened with some significant wins, including lower gas prices, a better jobs report.
The American Recovery Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act. And now of course, the Senate passing the Democrats sweeping bill on climate tax and healthcare, as well as the killing of one of the world's foremost terrorists. So could all this represent a game changer perhaps for President Biden come the November midterm elections.
GERGEN: Yes, Rosemary, Joe Biden has been on a rollercoaster here for the last several months. In fact, where much of his political life, you know, he's down, then he is up and then he goes sharply down and then he comes back up. It's very striking to watch. And yes, it could be a game changer. I think it's too early to tell for sure.
It's always important -- it's important to remember that when big things happen, especially good news happen. Sometimes what happens is not a leading indicator. It's a lagging indicator and you hear about it. It takes -- it takes weeks, or if not by some time for changes, especially in the economic sphere to work their way through the system so that a president gets credit for takes.
Usually when things are brightened for a president economically, it takes three to six months for the president to realize that the -- those assets, political assets. So, Biden has had a terrible, terrible lead into this, but he's had a terrific run here in the last -- in the last few weeks, but he still got high inflation and the country is still not reconciled. The latest poll we have, it was too early to get really good polls about responding obviously to what just happened on this bill. But we did have the last couple days a poll coming out from ABC, he
was down to 37 percent approval. That's really, really low. So, he is got a lot to come back from, but for the Democratic Party, this is an -- a dress out of adrenaline.
GERGEN: Just what they've been looking for to become more competitive.
CHURCH: And of course, with time running out, less than 100 days to the midterms, what more do the Democrats need to do to turn their prospects around? And do you expect abortion rights and gun control to be significant issues for voters or will it always be high inflation?
GERGEN: Well, there -- one of the other significant developments of this past week has been of course what happened in Kansas. A very red state, very conservative state, and yet by significant margin favored abortion rights. And I think you're going to see that in other places.
The big question is not, Rosemary, whether people like or don't like, what we know is they like the pro-abortion planks, but what we don't know is whether they'll get out to vote. And that's a -- that's a big question.
There is much, much, much more to be done, but I can tell you this. There are a lot of Democrats who are denied or just wiping their brow and say, thank God we are -- we've got a real shot at this. It's going to get a lot more interesting now. And by the way, I think it will increase the pressure from people around Joe Biden to make sure he runs for a second term.
CHURCH: And during his CPAC speech, former President Donald Trump mocked the January 6th committee and the testimony given by Cassidy Hutchinson.
CHURCH: And this followed some pretty jaw dropping far right speeches, one even from Hungary's leader, as well as a spectacle with a convicted January 6th rioter in a fake prison cell. What is going on with the Republican Party?
GERGEN: Still held hostage by the radical right. I think the day is coming. You can begin to see a crumbling on the edges of this -- of this Republican machine that they built the Trump machine. So, I think that there is a possibility now that within three months, we'll be saying it's going to be a very competitive race for the nomination.
If the nomination were held today, it would still be Donald Trump's. It would -- and probably Joe Bidens at this point. But as time goes on, you know, the Don -- the Trump. Especially, if it looks like Biden can beat Trump, then I think there'll be some pressure on -- or the Trump side on Trump and on people around him, to give us the pass, to give a, him not run again.
CHURCH: So, what do you think some Republican voters would do in November? Those who can't bring themselves to support a party that they no longer recognize. One that prevents a woman from being in charge of her own body and a party that takes an extreme right view on so many issues. What do they do? How do they vote?
GERGEN: This is a real important question in democracy. The only way you can win sometimes is win the election. So, you can -- you -- it is not enough just to put up an idea, you've got to get the votes for the whole, the whole team. And the Democrats haven't yet proved they can do that. There's so much more to be done.
What this does is it tells, it tells Democrats you've got a shot and you've got a chance to win this in the midterm, but you better go out there and bust your tail or it won't happen.
CHURCH: Yes. Some good advice. David Gergen, thank you as always for talking with us. I appreciate it.
CHURCH: A ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad is now in effect in Gaza and appears to be holding at this hour. That truce coming two days after a dramatic escalation intention began when Israel launched what it called preemptive strikes on Islamic Jihad targets. Before the ceasefire was announced on Sunday, Palestinian militants launched rockets toward Jerusalem following Israeli air strikes in Gaza overnight.
Israeli officials say a leader of Islamic Jihads operations in southern Gaza was killed in an air strike in Rafah. He was the second militant commander killed in the Israeli operation. Palestinian officials say at least 44 militants and civilians have been killed, including 15 children.
U.S. President Joe Biden praised the ceasefire and thanked Egyptian and Qatari officials for helping to broker it.
Well, journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us now live from Southern Israel. Good to see you, Elliott. So, what is the latest on this ceasefire that's in effect?
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, the ceasefire is holding, officially was meant to come into effect at 11.30 p.m. local time last night, but there were still a handful of rockets fired from the Gaza strip towards Israel between half past 11 and midnight. But since midnight, it's been quiet. No more rockets have been fired since midnight. So, 10 hours. It is holding for now.
And from Israel's perspective, it really is a case of mission accomplished. Senior Israeli diplomatic official just saying, to journalists in the last few minutes that they think they've set back Islamic Jihad's capabilities decades, in his words.
Now, yes, Islamic Jihad was able to fire somewhat 1,175 rockets. Israel. But the Iron Dome Aerial Defense system had a 96 percent success rate, according to the Israeli defense forces. And one in five of those rockets, roughly according to Israel was falling short was misfiring and landing inside Gaza which is another reason why the IDF says that the majority of non-combatant casualties over the last, two, two and a half days of fighting were caused by misfired rockets sent by Islamic Jihad.
From of course, the militant's perspective they can point to the fact that they showed that they've got a very broad arsenal that they were able to reach towards Tel Aviv. I myself had to run into my bomb shelter in Tel Aviv last night when siren sounded for the first time in this round of fighting.
They didn't quite reach Jerusalem which was an objective of theirs. And although they lost their two most senior commanders who are killed in Israeli airstrikes during this flare up, they will of course, point to the fact that they are still standing in general and live to fight another day.
The question of course is when that day will come and if next time, it will involve Hamas the much bigger a more powerful militant group in the Gaza strip, which of course sat this round of fighting out.
Beyond that there are, of course other things going on. I can tell you, for example, that Israel says that the hu -- humanitarian goods are once again being allowed into Gaza and there are reports that that includes fuel, which were so desperately needed, especially by the healthcare system in the Garza strip, which had pretty much, which was running incredibly low.
So, humanitarian goods going back into the Gaza strip and Israel says that if the ceasefire holds, they will return to trying to help the -- improve the economic situation or the people of Gaza by, you know, issuing more work permits and the like. But as I say, Rosemary, the ceasefire holding for now. No one expects it to be final and forever, but for now it's holding.
CHURCH: All right, Elliott Gotkine with that live report, many thanks.
Iran's foreign minister says his country is serious about a lasting nuclear agreement as the latest round of talks aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal continue in Vienna. He spoke by phone with the U.N. secretary general on Sunday and said in a statement, quote, "we are serious about reaching a strong and stable agreement.
Now the negotiations are being followed seriously in Vienna. Although the outcome of this matter depends on whether the United States wants to make an agreement."
Iran's foreign minister also said the country is cooperating with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, but that the agency needs to, quote, "distance itself from non-constructive political issues."
Meantime, Russia's chief negotiator in Vienna says the talks are moving in the right direction.
Fears of a nuclear disaster arising in Ukraine after explosion shake Europe's largest nuclear power plant for a second day. We'll go live to Ukraine after a short break.
CHURCH: Ukraine is accusing Russia of nuclear terror after explosion shook Europe's largest nuclear power plant for a second day in a row. Ukraine says Russian shells damaged three radiation detectors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
It came just a day after an attack that prompted warnings of a nuclear disaster from the U.N.'s watchdog. Russia blames Ukraine for the strikes, concerns about the plant have been growing since Russian forces seized it in March. And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urging a stronger response from allies. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): There is no such nation in the world that could feel safe when a terrorist state fired at a nuclear plant. God forbid, something irreparable happens and no one will stop the wind that will spread the radioactive contamination. Therefore, a principled response of the international community to these Russian attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe is needed now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And for more, we want to bring in CNN's Nic Robertson, he joins us live from Kramatorsk. Good to see you, Nic. So, what is the latest on those strikes on the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's a static position at the moment. Russia has heavy weapons in place around that, around that nuclear power facility. It is in a town that, or on the edge of a town that Russia has taken control of. It is a contested area. And there's no doubt that Ukraine is trying to target Russian forces.
But the idea as Russia alleges that Ukraine is firing at the nuclear power plant don't seem to stand up to any sort of scrutiny. And there is a real danger as Ukrainian officials say, and as the International Atomic Energy Agency director general has said as well, there is a real danger that some of the facilities could get damaged if there were an accident, a misfire or a -- or something landed off target near the facility that hit, perhaps the spent fuel rod containment area, which allegedly has been hit.
Is there a real risk of a massive nuclear meltdown on the infringes of Europe? That seems very unlikely. Is this going to be a contested military site around a very sensitive area? Yes. And that seems to be the reason why the International Atomic Energy Agency are calling to have their inspectors there.
It would certainly benefit Ukraine if there were independent international eyes around that nuclear facility who were able to say, yes, Russia is Placing its heavy armaments dangerously close. But all the satellite generated intelligence and imagery already support seems to support that case.
CHURCH: And Nic, tell us more about the fighting on the eastern front. What are you learning?
ROBERTSON: It's active. This is a very, very active military region. The air raid sirens in the -- in the city we're in and we're not at the front lines here goes off routinely. You can hear the heavy impacts of shelling. I can hear some now. There've been going on sporadically. That's probably many miles, many kilometers away.
But as you get closer to the front lines, you can -- you can hear the heavier shelling, outgoing and incoming. This is very much a sort of an artillery standoff. Military fight that's going on here. Deeper trenches are being dug, reinforcements are being made, but it's right at the very, very front line where the real hard work of soldiers at -- in the trenches is happening.
ROBERTSON: Deep in the woods at Ukraine's Eastern front troops dig in trenches here and lifesavers.
OLEG, UKRAINIAN FIGHTER: We are put here, we're fighting this fierce. We took our portion of shelling here and some of our comrades were injured.
ROBERTSON: The faces of the troops here tell a story that words cannot. This is tough duty. Five days at the front, 10 days, resting here nearby. They joke about living like hobbits underground away from the shelling.
When Ukrainian officials talk about the HIMARS rocket system and the M777 artillery helping hold their line, these are the lines they're talking about. And these are the soldiers with the hard fight to make sure it does hold.
He says, "we hold the line. It's humid. It rains. Shells hit us all the time, but we hold the defense. There is no other way." "Of course, the shelling gets on your mind," Artem (Ph) tells me. His buddy, Vitali (Ph), adding, "but you get used to it. Both set on victory they say.
To get to the very front line, we cross fields littered with Russian rockets. All these trees here they're telling us were taken out by shelling. Conditions here very Spartan. The Russians less than a mile away. Days here when troops can't leave their bunkers. Russia outguns them five times. This is where the next phase of the war will be won or lost in
trenches like this that stretch for hundreds of miles. Troops like this holding the line against the possible Russian advance.
"We manage," the officer says, "we've come here to stop the enemy. We just take it, sit it out and keep on fighting." An incoming shell punctuates his thought. More weapons, more armor he says, and it could be us advancing.
ROBERTSON: So, when I hear those shells going off, that we can hear they've been going off as that story was running there. You know, we know that there are soldiers sitting under those front lines, in those bunkers, taking those incoming shells, and waiting to return fire when they can.
Out there it feels very much like the trenches of World War I or World War II. That's the kind of frontline situation here right now.
CHURCH: All right, Nic Robertson in Kramatorsk in Ukraine. Thank you so much for that report. I appreciate it.
Well, Ukraine's grain exports are picking up steam. On Sunday, a cargo ship entered a Ukrainian port for the first time since the invasion and another two ships have left Ukraine within the past few hours, carrying around 60,000 tons of agricultural products.
And this comes after Turkey and the United Nations help broker a deal to unlock millions of tons of food supplies stuck at Ukrainian ports since the war began.
Amnesty International is responding to criticism over a recent report that accused Ukrainian forces of using tactics that endangered civilians. The organization released a statement on Sunday saying its priority in any conflict is ensuring civilians are protected. And while it stands by the findings, it regrets any pain caused.
In its report, Amnesty said Ukrainian troops put civilians at risk by setting up military bases in residential areas. It drew swift backlash in Ukraine with President Zelenskyy calling it an attempt to shift blame. The head of Amnesty's Ukraine office resigned with a statement condemning the report.
A bipartisan pair of U.S. senators are calling on the Biden administration to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism of a Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. The senators tell CNN the designation should be made either by the president or Congress and soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I think the administration should preempt the referendum this sham --
BLUMENTHAL: -- referendum that Russia is going to hold in early September by designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We're pretty polarized in this country, but a hundred and nothing we were able to pass a resolution, urging you to designate Russia state sponsored terrorism because they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Senate Democrat, Richard Blumenthal and Republican Lindsey Graham there. And they told CNN's Dana Bash that Mr. Biden must intensify pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin while continuing to aid Ukraine.
Well, China is carrying out more military drills near Taiwan. We will have a live report from Taipei in just a moment.
CHURCH: We are tracking developments in the Western Pacific where Chinese military drills have continued for a fifth day near Taiwan. Beijing began the drills on Thursday after promising Taipei would pay a price for hosting U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She made the visit despite warnings from mainland China, which considers the self- governing island part of its territory.
Taiwan's foreign minister says he is concerned, but not afraid. He spoke to CNN's Will Ripley just a short time ago.
JOSEPH WU, TAIWAN FOREIGN MINISTER: China has always been threatening Taiwan for years and it is getting more serious in the last few years, and it's always been that way. Whether Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan or not, the Chinese military threat against Taiwan has always been there, and that is the fact that we need to deal with.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Has Taiwan's democratic system ever been in more danger than it is today?
WU: I can tell you that Taiwan is more resilient than before. Look at Taiwan these days. China is trying to impose trade sanctions against Taiwan, trying to attack Taiwan from military or nonmilitary aspect. The life goes on here in Taiwan. And Taiwan shows its resilience.
RIPLEY: Should people in Taiwan be more worried than they are about China?
WU: Well, what I can say is that the people here in Taiwan may worry. If you ask me, I worry a little bit.
RIPLEY: What do you worry about?
WU: I worry that China may really launch a war against Taiwan. But what it is doing right now, it's trying to scare us, and the best way to deal with it is to show to China that we are not scared.
CHURCH: Let's bring in CNN's Blake Essig. He joins us live from Taipei. Good to see you again, Blake. So, what is the latest on China's military drills near Taiwan and how much longer are they likely to last?
BLAKE ESSIG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rosemarie, that's a good question. I don't think anybody really knows the answer. We thought that these drills were going to be over yesterday, but they continue today, and we learned about that just a few hours ago, that the People's Liberation Army continues to conduct drills in the air and at sea around Taiwan. That's according to video post on social media by China's military, saying that today's drills are focused on antisubmarine warfare and naval action.
Now, during the first four days of the military exercise by China, Taiwan's defense ministry says China simulated an attack against the main island of Taiwan involving cyberattacks, a large number of fighter jets and warships operating daily around Taiwan with many entering Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone and some crossing the Taiwan Strait median line.
ESSIG: Beijing also launched nearly a dozen ballistic missiles, some of them flying over Taiwan for the first time ever. But according to the military experts here, what they are saying, as far as the key takeaways from the last several days, is that China demonstrated that they can put in a blockade of Taiwan and it does not really require a constant naval press offshore and that shipping and air traffic can be blocked just by using the simple threat of missiles.
And while we don't yet know the future not only of these military drills or just in general of what the future holds for hostilities here in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan, it is likely that what we are seeing by China's military, the increased tensions and aggressive maneuvering around Taiwan, could be the new normal, according to Chinese state media from now on.
China will conduct regular military drills east of the Taiwan Strait median line, which is closer to Taiwan than it is mainland China. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right, Blake Essig, joining us live from Taipei, many thanks, appreciate it.
Well, it is peak season at a popular resort city known as China's Hawaii. Sanya on Hainan Island is known for its beaches, but it is also undergoing a severe COVID-19 outbreak. Some 80,000 tourists are now under lockdown. Stranded tourists are required to stay for seven days and clear five COVID-19 tests before leaving.
The former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says the CDC needs to expand its definition of monkeypox, so more people can get tested for the virus. It comes as the FDA is considering approving the use of smaller doses of monkeypox vaccines in order to stretch the current supply.
And earlier, I spoke with Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA, about vaccine shortages and how expanding testing could help control the outbreak.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNE RIMOIN, EPIDEMIOLOGY PROFESSOR, UCLA: You know, the issue is that we have two vaccines that are available. In the ACAM2000 vaccine, the live vaccine does have a lot of side effects which are difficult to manage when trying to mass administer a vaccine. The JYNNEOS vaccine is much more easily tolerated and -- but the problem is it is a two-dose vaccine, so in order to be able to get enough of the adequate immune response, you know, it really needs a lot more.
So, I -- you know, why we were -- we are not ahead of the game? You know, I cannot answer that question, but here we are, we need to be moving as quickly as we can to get as many doses out there. There are a lot of people who are at risk right now, and the sooner we can get people vaccinated, the better off we will be.
CHURCH: And right now, the monkeypox outbreak is almost entirely limited to men who have sex with men, although five cases involving children have been reported. And that is why former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says the CDC needs to broaden its case definition for monkeypox, testing in more segments of the U.S. population and test more. Do you agree with him on that?
RIMOIN: I definitely agree with Scott Gottlieb. I think that the issue here is we just don't have enough situational awareness to know how many people actually are infected with monkeypox. Yes, it is absolutely true that right now we are seeing that the vast majority of cases are in network -- sexual networks of men who have sex with men, but, you know, all these communities are overlapping.
There are certainly more cases out there. We will see more cases spilling over into other communities just as we see more cases occurring. How do we actually learn who's at risk? We need to test. And so, therefore, the more testing is available, the better it is.
Dr. Gottlieb is correct. What we need to do is we need to expand the clinical case definition so that more people get tested, clinicians actually think to test people when they see an atypical case of a rash illness. And the sooner we do this, the better we are going to be because we are really going to understand what the true burden of infection is here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Albuquerque, New Mexico is on edge after the recent killings of four Muslim men across the city. And police say the murders may be linked. Officials are increasing police presence at mosques and they are calling on the public to help locate a vehicle of interest.
CNN's Camila Bernal has the details.
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities now have a very strong lead. They say they are looking for a specific car, a dark silver Sedan, four doors, tinted windows. They believe it could be a Volkswagen, either Jetta or Passat.
BERNAL: And they're asking the public for help in finding this car or the person that was driving or owns this car because what authorities are trying to do is connect the dots between these four different cases. They say there are some similarities in terms of where these men were killed and how they were killed. Authorities saying at least three of them were ambushed and then shot dead.
We will start with the latest incident. We know Naeem Hussain was a Muslim man who was killed, he was from South Asia, and that happened late Friday night, just before midnight.
We also know Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27 years old from Pakistan, worked for the city of the Espanola. The mayor there describing him as a brilliant public servant. He said he was soft-spoken and kind and quick to laugh. He was killed on August 1st in Southeast Albuquerque, but so was Aftab Hussein. He was also killed in the same area, 41 years old from Pakistan. He went to the same mosque, but he was killed on July 26th.
And now, authorities are also going back to November of 2021 to try to figure out if the killing of Mohammad Ahmadi is also related because he is also a Muslim man from Afghanistan. He was killed outside of the business that he ran with his brother.
The governor of New Mexico saying that there will be justice. Here's what she said.
MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM, NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: I am incredibly angry about this situation. Every New Mexican should stand up and against this kind of hatred. It has no place in this city and it has no place in our state.
BERNAL: And the mayor of Albuquerque also saying that his community is traumatized, explaining how there are parents who are afraid to take their children to school. Members of the community who are scared to go out to the grocery store or to get a meal, they are providing services. But really, what they are promising is to find the person responsible.
Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.
CHURCH: And we will be back in just a moment.
[03:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUSTAVO PETRO, PRESIDENT OF COLUMBIA: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: A historic moment for Columbia as Gustavo Petro was sworn in as the country's first leftist president. During a speech on Sunday, Mr. Petro stressed the importance of change and the fight against violence. He says the war on drugs has completely failed. And another history-making achievement, his running mate, Francia Marquez, became the first Afro Colombian to hold executive powers.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol says hundreds of migrants are in custody after landing on or near Florida's coast this weekend. In one incident, more than 300 migrants from Haiti were rescued after they ran aground off the Florida Keys. In another incident, the coast guard intercepted and took into custody at least 150 Cuban migrants who landed there. Officials said they were still processing the migrants Sunday.
Some asylum seekers are caught in the middle amid tensions between Texas and New York over immigration. Dozens of migrants arrived in New York City by bus this past weekend after Texas's governor designated New York as a drop-off location for migrants as part of his response to U.S. border policies. New York City's mayor's claims some migrants are being forced on to buses. CNN asked Texas Governor Greg Abbott for a comment and awaits a response.
CNN's Polo Sandoval has more.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leaders here in New York City are saying that they are approaching this recent busing of migrant families from the nation's southern border here to the northeast as an opportunity to send a message to the world and also to Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott about how these families should be treated and not as what Abbott's critics have described as pawns in a political stunt that's been ongoing since April when the governor announced that he would be offering some of these migrants that have been processed and released at the border an opportunity to get on a bus and then get a ride to cities like Washington, D.C., and now most recently in New York.
Some images taken from over the weekend showed some of these recent arrivals. These potential ongoing busing of migrants will certainly add more strain to the homeless shelter system here in New York City that is already trying to keep up with demand.
Mayor Eric Adams saying that some 14 migrants arrived on Sunday. That added to at least 50 who arrived on the first bus on Friday. They are added to roughly 4,000 asylum seekers that the city has worked to find a home for since May. Mayor Eric Adams saying on Sunday morning that the city is certainly welcoming to these asylum seekers, but saying that Abbott's approach is not just cruel, but also uncoordinated.
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: It is really important that the governor of Texas is coordinated. They are not letting us know what time the buses are leaving. They are not letting us know what are the needs of the people on the bus. They are not giving us any information.
So, we are unable to really provide the service for people in route, and we would like to get that information. So, only around 14 -- around 14 got off. Some of them thought they were going to another location. They were forced on that bus.
SANDOVAL: Mayor Adams is among other city officials who say that some of these recent arrivals have shared with them stories about feeling forced to take up the Abbott administration's offer to get on these buses and get that ride to the northeast.
CNN has reached out to Governor Abbott's office on Sunday and is still waiting to hear back. Expecting more buses to arrive in New York City. Officials here have announced that they will set up a stand-alone facility to provide some of these asylum seekers with things like shelter and food.
For some of those migrants whose plans were not meant to take them here to New York City, they are also offering an assistance to try to take them to other parts of the country.
Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
CHURCH: From sweltering heat to flooding and thunderstorms, tens of millions of Americans are facing more extreme weather threats this week. Details from CNN Weather Center just ahead.
CHURCH: Authorities say roads into and out of California's Death Valley National Park are critically damaged and the park remains closed. That is after a storm on Friday caused extreme flooding, stranding hundreds of people. The National Parks Service says dozens of cars were buried under debris at a local resort.
It is a similar story in parts of Colorado. Authorities in Denver say more than a dozen people had to be rescued from their vehicles due to heavy rain and flash flooding on Sunday. Several roads had to be closed and drivers were warned to stay off the streets.
CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins me now. Pedram, I mean, it is a real concern, isn't it, that these extreme weather conditions are becoming the new normal? PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's incredible, you know, seeing that Death Valley event in particular. The amount of rainfall they saw, one and a half inches. They've got over 60 years in their 100 plus years of record keeping where the entire year did not bring that much rainfall. They picked that up in about an hour's time on Friday morning.
I want to show you, across the United States, multibillion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2022. We have had nine of them. Eight of them related to severe storm events and one of them related to a drought event, of course.
We know the flooding across portions of Kentucky will very likely, once it's tabulated, will be over a billion-dollar disaster while making a 10 so far for the year. The average, 7.7, for the last four or so years across the United States. That's the average for the entire year. Mind you, we haven't had a single tropical system yet and typically those account for quite a bit of those numbers.
JAVAHERI: But we'll show you what's happening across the southwest because flooding has been in place here. Some of this has been beneficial as the monsoon had been in full effect.
The drought monitor, which had nearly the entirety of the state of New Mexico and Arizona underneath droughts, has actually begun to see some improvement here, about 90% of the state of Arizona versus 98% coverage for drought across that region.
So, we do expect additional rainfall in the coming several days. Notice even into next week, above average potential there for rainfall across the western area of the U.S. where they need the rainfall the most.
Across the eastern area of the U.S., in particular portions that have been very hard hit, drier weather is expected, but initially, still see some rainfall across areas (INAUDIBLE). Iowa, Wisconsin as well, Minnesota, Illinois, some significant amounts have come down, as much as six inches in the span of 24 hours across portions of the state of Iowa, causing some localized flooding in this region.
And we expect the system to push a little farther toward the east and bring with it some additional rainfall. A threat for rainfall across parts of Kentucky yet again. It is minimal risk and it is certainly good news but any rainfall at this point, of course, is going to be challenging for folks across that region.
And lastly, Rosemary, the Northeastern United States, this excessive heat alert here for Boston, New York, Philadelphia could feel as hot as 105 degrees over the next day or so here with excessive heat in store for the Northeastern U.S.
CHURCH: Those temperatures, just crazy, aren't they?
JAVAHERI: Yeah. CHURCH: Thank you so much, Pedram. Appreciate it.
A long-awaited return home for some West African artifacts. London's Horniman Museum says it will give back 72 objects, including brass plaques known as Benin bronzes in Nigeria.
The museum says they were forcibly removed from Nigeria's Benin City during Britain's military incursion 125 years ago. The Horniman said it was moral and appropriate to return the pieces since they were taken by force.
Museum officials in Nigeria say they welcome the decision.
And thank you so much for spending part of your day with me. I'm Rosemary Church. "CNN Newsroom" continues with Max Foster, next.