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Washington Post: FBI was Looking for Nuclear Documents; Trump Apparently Shredded Documents, Tried to Flush Them; Ukraine Reports New Strikes Near Zaporizhzhia Plant; Donors Pledge More Than $1.55 Billion in Air for Ukraine. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 12, 2022 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: "The Washington Post" has some exclusive new reporting about the FBI search of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. It's citing unnamed sources who say agents were looking for classified documents related to nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile Donald Trump says that he will not oppose a Justice Department motion to unseal the search warrant and evidentiary items taken from Mar-a-Lago on Monday. Attorney General Merrick Garland says he signed off on the search.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There are however certain points I want you to know. First, I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter. Second, the department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken.


FOSTER: Prospect of nuclear weapon documents at Trump's home raises serious questions about the country safety. We asked CNN's national security analyst Juliette Kayyem to evaluate the risk.


JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Here is the range of possibilities. That Donald Trump is in possession of information related to an enemy. And I'm not going to get into the why did Donald Trump retain them because we don't know yet and he's got really, you know, sort of -- you know, he is a careless -- he is a careless person. He never took his job seriously. And so, he's -- so if you are that enemy and you are worried that Donald Trump has those materials, you are worried what's he going to do with it.

So that could incite a national security problem that the Biden administration has to deal with. The second possibility is that nuclear information, not coding, just information about the weapons, about where they are stored, about their capabilities of an ally, that too is a problem because the allies will be untrustworthy of what they share with us and once again it is a problem for the Biden administration if this is true.


FOSTER: Meanwhile more details coming into light about the former president's reported habit of discarding documents, sometimes even flushing them down the toilet. CNN's Tom Foreman explains.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An order to turn over his tax records, federal agents collecting papers from his home, sitting for legal questioning with every answer documented.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your message to your supporters, Mr. President?

FOREMAN (voice-over): It's been a bad week for the former president in the eyes of long-time watchers like Michael D'Antonio.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": Donald Trump has always resisted accountability and the main thing he's done over the years is refused and stonewalled all request for documents and all requests for depositions.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Insiders say Trump doesn't use e-mail. He frequently rips up papers, forcing staff to reassemble them with tape, apparently even flushing some pieces down the toilet. Some of them may be public records, but Trump has a tendency to keep things private.

When he met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in 2018, they chatted for two hours with only interpreters, no notes taken. Then Trump created an uproar by brushing aside U.S. intelligence assessments, Russia was meddling in U.S. elections.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The Mueller report on possible Russian collusion revealed that Trump challenged his own attorneys for creating paper trails. "Why do you take notes?" Trump reportedly said. "Lawyers don't take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes."


TRUMP: The collusion delusion is over.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And when the report emerged with no charges, he tore that up, too, by utterly misrepresenting what it said.

TRUMP: It was a complete and total exoneration.

TRUMP: Maybe I'm going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate. FOREMAN (voice-over): And, of course, there are his tax returns. He has teased voluntarily making them public for years, especially during his presidential bids. It has not happened yet.

TRUMP: But they're under audit and when they're not, I would be proud to show them.

FOREMAN (voice-over): That logic never held water, and an appeals court just this week ruled he had to release them to a congressional committee. But for Trump, it all seems in accordance with a simple code.

D'ANTONIO: The first thing Donald Trump thinks about documents is to not have them.

FOREMAN: And yet for all of that, the president is now caught in a storm of documents. Papers that are giving him all sorts of troubles. Yes, it has been a very bad week in the papers for the shredder in chief.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending the U.S. ease up on some of its COVID restrictions. The big focus is now on using vaccines and therapeutics to reduce the risk of severe illness. The latest guidelines do not mention social distancing. The agency is down playing the need for people who have no symptoms or known exposure to COVID to get screened regularly. Those exposed to COVID who are not infected no longer need to quarantine. But the CDC still says everyone should wear high quality masks when COVID levels are high in their community. And of course, everyone with symptoms needs to get tested. If the test comes back positive, stay home for at least five days.

A senior Food and Drug Administration official says the government's new strategy to fight monkeypox could vaccinate the entire targeted population. The vaccine's manufacturer has limited supplies but demand is sky high. The new plan will allow a different injection method and smaller dosages which could stretch out supplies. The official said up to 1.7 million people are eligible meaning some 3 million doses are needed to vaccinate them. Only about half that number of doses will be available by this December.

The U.S. CDC is considering additional polio vaccinations for some Americans. This comes after a polio case was identified in New York state last month. The first in nearly a decade in the U.S. Polio can cause incurable paralysis and death. But most people are protected by vaccination. The New York case was located in Rockland County and the CDC suspects there are hundreds more. Polio has been detected in sewage there and in neighboring Orange County. Vaccination rates in both counties are much lower than the national average.

Authorities in the state of Indiana are retracting what they said about a deadly home explosion earlier this week. The Evansville fire chief says the cause of the blast is still undetermined. This after previously saying that the house explosion was an accident. Wednesday's blast in southern Indiana near the border with Kentucky killed three people and injured one more. The mayor called the destruction devastating and a gut punch. More than a dozen agencies responded to the scene.


MICHAEL CONNELLY, EVANSVILLE, INDIANA FIRE CHIEF: ATF is assisting, state fire marshal's office, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, center point, are all assisting in the investigation. And our fire investigators also. And they are doing tests on the integrity of the gas line from the main to the meter.


FOSTER: The explosion damaged nearly 40 houses in the area with 11 of them now uninhabitable. The Red Cross is helping the displaced families.

A new barrage of rocket fire reportedly hit two towers near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. This time Ukraine says a town just across the river took a pounding. That's just ahead.

And Western countries are giving big to give Ukraine a fighting chance against Russia, how much military aid was pledged, it is in the ten figures.



FOSTER: We're getting word of more shelling near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Ukraine says a town across the river from the plant, Nikopol, was hit by Russian rockets overnight while 40 more rockets hit another city a little further away injuring three people. Now this comes after the plant itself was hit by artillery fire two times in less than a week. Ukraine says radiation levels in the area are still normal. Kyiv and Moscow are blaming each other for the attacks. But head of U.N. nuclear watchdog says whoever did it, is playing with fire.


RAFAEL GROSSI, IAEA DIRECTOR GENERAL: The military actions that have even the smallest potential to jeopardize nuclear safety or nuclear security at Zaporizhzhia nuclear installation must stop immediately. These actions could lead us to serious consequences.


FOSTER: Nina dos Santos is following these developments for us. Joining me with the very latest. Obviously, it's a huge danger if this plant is hit but we can't really get the correct story because each side is saying something completely different. NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well first of all, let's start out

by mentioning that this has been the focus of the IAEA's attention for six, nine months. It was captured very early on in the fighting in Ukraine back in March. And already then, the IAEA was concerned that it could take a direct hit.

The large facility here it also requires hundreds of people to make sure that it's safe and that its reactors don't overheat. And now what we've seen is the Ukrainian army getting increasingly concerned that Russia has been using it and building it up as a military base from which is a sensitive location it can then launch attacks on to those towns that you were talking about.

We saw Nikopol hit overnight with Grad rockets. We also saw a town nearby Marhanets be hit with 40 rockets. And we've had this constant barrage on these towns on the other side of the Dnipro River inside Ukraine with Russia launching Attacks from there.

So, the concern is that as Ukraine tries to recapture this plant, it could find itself at the center of the fighting and that it could get a direct hit. This is what Rafael Grossi -- you heard there from the IAEA, the United Nations was talking about. This is at the heart of a meeting that the U.N. Security Council had yesterday. During which each side accused each other of exchanging fire over the plant.


And we also saw the United Nations trying to broker a U.S. backed deal to try and create some demilitarized zone, Max, around this facility. Because it's also not just important for Ukraine and Russia, this is the largest nuclear plant anywhere in Europe. And if there were to be a direct hit to one of its buildings or its nuclear reactors or to have any kind of meltdown, the fallout from that would be wide even outside of Ukraine.

It's unlikely that Russia would go for a deal to try to create a demilitarized zone. We saw the ambassador to the United Nations of Russia yesterday again exchange verbal fire if you like with Ukraine. Each side blaming each other. But again, the concern is that at the moment there isn't a rise in nuclear activity or radiation leaking from the plant, but there are concerns that at any point if this plant is targeted by either side it could unwittingly get a direct strike. There's also concerns about the Ukrainian civilian people who have been kept there by Russia to continue to run the plant and concerns for their welfare too -- Max.

FOSTER: Nina, thank you. We'll keep an eye on it for sure.

A group of more than two dozen countries have committed some $1.5 billion in military aid for Ukraine. The pledges of cash, weapons and training came during a donors conference in Copenhagen on Thursday.


MORTEN BODSKOV, DANISH DEFENSE MINISTER: Today, 26 countries, as well as the European Union have met here in Copenhagen and have sent a clear signal, Ukraine's fight is our fight. We stand together and we stand with Ukraine.


FOSTER: Meanwhile Britain says it will now train more than the 10,000 Ukrainian forces initially planned. The U.K. defense minister added had Nordic countries including Sweden and Finland are also sending extra troops and equipment to support the British efforts.

Sweden's finance minister says his country wants to join NATO as quickly as possible. The alliance formally invited Sweden and Finland going back in June four months after Russia invaded Ukraine. The bid has to be approved by all 30 NATO members. CNN's Richard Quest spoke with Sweden's finance minister about that decision.


MIKAEL DAMBERG, SWEDISH FINANCE MINISTER: Many people in Sweden are perhaps not happy with the decision, but they feel it's the right decision. And sometimes reality is nasty. Sometimes Russians act against Ukraine really makes people think we can be next. We have to defend ourselves and we do it better together with other European and American partners.


FOSTER: Ratification usually takes about a year, but NATO's Secretary- General says he expects quick approval for Sweden and for Finland.

McDonald's says will soon be open for business again in Ukraine in a letter posted to the company's website. The fast food giant said it plans to reopen some restaurants in Kyiv and western Ukraine. It comes six months after closing their doors because of the Russian invasion. The war also prompted McDonald's to permanently close its Russian restaurants. In May it announced plans to sell all of its remaining locations in Russia.

An about face in space. According to NASA, Russia has reaffirmed its commitment to the International Space Station beyond 2024. This comes after -- or just two weeks after the head of Russia's space agency seemingly threatened to sever ties prematurely. Despite the hiccups NASA says it continues to have a good working relationship with Russia and plans to a Russian cosmonaut on a SpaceX rocket next month.

A hostage taking at a bank in Beirut, Lebanon ended peacefully on Thursday, when the bank agreed to give the armed suspects some of his own money from his own account, his own frozen account. A Lebanon state owned news agency says the suspect cursed, fired two stray shots and demanded access to his own cash to pay for his father's operation. He threatened to torch the bank and kill everyone inside. Lebanon's financial crisis has driven most Lebanese into poverty and banks have been allowed to restrict people's accounts. The man surrendered after he was promised $30,000 of the $210,000 that he had on deposit there.

The de facto head of Samsung electronics has been pardoned for his conviction on bribery and embezzlement charges in 2017. Lee Jae-Yong who holds the title of vice chairman and was paroled one year ago with the condition that he not work for Samsung. Under the terms of the special presidential pardon, Lee will again be allowed to run his family's business. Samsung is one of the company's largest corporations and justice minister said reinstating Lee to run the company was necessary to help revitalize the nation's post pandemic economy.

In Brazil protestors are demanding free and fair elections.


Students, activists and members of labor unions took to the streets across the country on Thursday. Organizers say their main objective is to defend Brazil's voting system. A response to President Jair Bolsonaro's repeated attacks on the country's electronic voting. In recent weeks Bolsonaro has suggested October's election may be vulnerable to fraud a can't be trusted.

Power has been restored to the downtown area of North America's fourth largest city. According to authorities, the lights went out for 10,000 homes and businesses in Toronto, Canada. When a crane on a barge struck high voltage transmission lines. It happened in Toronto Port Lands area on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. No electricity was knocked out for about seven hours to parts of the financial district, police headquarters and City Hall. The blackout damaged a power station that's now being repaired. We'll be right back.



FOSTER: A U.S. federal judge has ruled in favor of the PGA Tour in its turf war with the Saudi backed LIV Golf Series. The judge denied three LIV players a temporary restraining order on Tuesday, it granted it would have permitted the golfers Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones to play in the first event of the PGA FedEx Cup playoffs which began this week. LIV responded that it is disappointed with the ruling adding that no one gains by banning golfers from playing golf.

The National Basketball Association said it's permanently retiring the jersey number of the late NBA legend Bill Russell. Russell was an 11 time champion with the Boston Celtics and a civil rights pioneer. He died in July at the age of 88. According to the league his number 6 jersey which he wore his entire 13 season career will not be issued again by any team to any player.

Now that'll make him the first player ever to receive that honor. His accomplishments included five NBA Most Valuable Player awards and 12 NBA All-Star selections.

Emmy award-winning actress Anne Heche is facing a heartbreaking prognosis after suffering from a traumatic brain injury last Friday. Heche is not expected to survive according to a statement from her family and friends. She has remained in critical condition after crushing her vehicle into a Los Angeles home last week. Authorities say Heche's car was traveling at a high rate of speed when it ran off the road, hit a home and burst into flames. In their message her family thanked fans for their thoughts and prayers.

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