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CNN International: Nikki Haley Takes on Frontrunners in Town Hall; Tensions Spike After Encounter in Taiwan Strait; Ukraine Urges Silence Around Counteroffensive; Migrants Promised Jobs, Shelter for Relocation; At Least 276 People Killed, 1,000+ Injured in India Train Crash. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 05, 2023 - 04:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Bianca Nobilo.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Max Foster joining you live from London. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't play for second. I never have, I'm not going to start, I'm in this to win it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She might be the most polished politician in the race.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They did not know where they were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were mistreated. They were mistreated. They were abused and exploited.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both sides bracing for that much discussed counteroffensive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point it is fairly clear that it has to be imminent.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: It is Monday, June the 5th, 9:00 a.m. here in London, 3:00 a.m. in Des Moines, Iowa. Where presidential candidates and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley was making her pitch to Republican voters on why she would be the best leader for America.

NOBILO: Haley answered tough questions from voters and Jake Tapper at CNN's Town Hall Sunday night. Highlighting herself on foreign policy, the economy and key domestic issues like abortion rights and social security. Haley pointed out that Americans are tired of divisive politics and they want a new, younger leader.


HALEY: The reason that we got in when we did, is that I didn't care who else was getting in peer I didn't care what over issues were at play. We've got a country to save. And that's all I was thinking about. I am I two term governor that took a double-digit unemployment state and turn it into an economic powerhouse. I was at the U.N. I didn't deal with one country, I dealt with 193 and I took the kick me sign off of our backs. It is time for a new generational leader. It is time for us to leave the baggage of the past, the negativity to the past and start thinking of our families and the families across America.


FOSTER: You might remember that Haley served as U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration. During the Town Hall she cast her former boss as a figure of the past. Highlighting voters' desires for election integrity and denouncing the January 6th attack on the Capitol.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: After January 6th you said this about him, quote, we need to acknowledge he let us down. He went down a path, we shouldn't have and we shouldn't have followed him and we shouldn't have listened to him. And we can't let that happen again. Unquote. Do you still feel that way?

HALEY: Yes, he thinks it was a beautiful day, I think it was a terrible day, I'll always stand by that.


NOBILO: Haley also breaking Trump and Ron DeSantis and making a case for supporting Ukraine.


HALEY: The way you prevent wars -- not that we give cash to Ukraine, not that we put troops on the ground, but that we get with our allies and we make sure we give them the equipment and the ammunition to win. Because when Ukraine wins that sends a message to China with Taiwan. It sends a message to Iran that wants to build a bomb. It sends a message to North Korea testing ballistic missiles. And it sends a message to Russia that it's over. That's what we have to do. And keep in mind, everybody wants to know, well how does this war and? It would end in a day if Russia would pull out. If Ukraine pulls out, then we're all looking at a world war.


NOBILO: Haley also answered questions about her stance on Social Security entitlements and abortion policy and hitting on key issues impacting Americans day to day. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley making a generational appeal to Republican voters in Iowa on Sunday night at a CNN Town Hall. Telling voters she's in it to win it. Making clear that she's trying to elevate her candidacy in the growing field of Republican candidates. She did so by taking direct aim at former President Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron DeSantis particularly on Social Security and Medicare.

HALEY: I know that Trump and DeSantis have both said we're not going to deal with entitlement reform. Don't lie to them and say, oh, we don't have to deal with entitlement reform. Yes, we do. Yes, we do. It's the reality. I'm always going to tell the truth. Is it going to hurt? Yes.

ZELENY: She sought to walk a careful line an abortion policy. She said she's unapologetically prolife -- in her words. But declined to say whether she would sign a federal abortion ban. Saying it simply would not happen in this deeply divided Congress. That could be one of her challenges as she goes forward trying to win over Republican primary voters. But she made the case that it's time for consensus.


HALEY: I don't judge anyone for being pro-choice, any more than I want them to judge me for being prolife. So, what can we do with consensus? That's exactly what it is. We come to it with consensus and say what can we all agree on? I think we can all agree on banning late-term abortions. I think we can all agree on encouraging adoptions and making sure those foster kids feel more loved not less.

ZELENY: After going issue after issue from trade, to China, to Ukraine and domestic policies as well. One voter said that she is a breath of fresh air. When asked directly if she thinks sexism as a woman running for president? she said she did not look at it that way. She said there's never been a line for the women's room for any job that she has applied for. But then she said, it's time for a woman to break the glass ceiling.

HALEY: So, I'm a big fan of women. We balance, we prioritize, we know how to get things done. I mean, honestly, we've let guys do it for a while. It might be time for woman to get it done.

ZELENY: And Haley is getting two more rivals this week when former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Vice President Mike Pence also throw their hat into the ring. The field is getting incredibly crowded. There's no doubt about that. The first Republican presidential debate, in August.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Des Moines.


FOSTER: Do be sure to tune into another CNN Town Hall this Wednesday. You'll hear from former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence live from Grandview University in Des Moines in Iowa. He'll take questions from CNN anchor and chief political correspondent Dana Dash, as he prepares for his own expected presidential bid. That's June 7th, 8:00 p.m. in Des Moines and 9:00 a.m. Thursday in Hong Kong, right here on CNN.

NOBILO: Police say they found no survivors from a small plane that crashed in southwest Virginia on Sunday. The search is on hold for now but the NTSB will begin investigating the site later on today. The plane ventured near the U.S. Capitol before going down, causing enough concern that fighter jets were sent to intercept it.




FOSTER: That sound was a sonic boom heard throughout the region caused by the F-16s scrambling overhead. Defense officials say they were unable to make contact with the plane's pilot before it crashed. CNN's Natasha Bertrand has more.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: A loud sonic boom that was heard across Washington D.C. and Virginia on Sunday, was caused by U.S. F-16 fighter jets that were scrambling to intercept an aircraft that traveled over Washington, D.C. and was unresponsive -- according to a statement from the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The fighter jets were called in, in coordination with the FAA, to try to intercept this aircraft where the pilot was not making contact with the F-16 fighter jets. Ultimately, the plane did crash in southwestern Virginia. However, the Defense Department says that the F-16s it did not actually shoot down that aircraft.

Now, according to NORAD, which released a statement Sunday, that aircraft did fly over Washington, D.C., essentially violating the airspace. And because the pilot was unresponsive, the FAA worked with the Pentagon in order to try to intercept this aircraft before it could potentially crash and cause any damage to civilians on the ground.

The civilian aircraft, according to NORAD, was intercepted at approximately 3:20 p.m. Eastern time. And according to the Pentagon, the plane crashed near the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. There were four people on board this small aircraft. However, we do not yet know the conditions of those people at this time.

Natasha Bertrand, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: We're now getting a new look at a near collision in the Taiwan Strait that has sent U.S./China relations soaring. This video released by the U.S. Navy shows in new detail, a Chinese military ship sailing directly in front of a U.S. destroyer. On Saturday, you can see there's very little room for era there. The U.S. says the ships were just 150 yards apart and the destroyer had to slow down to avoid a collision.

CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is following developments. Joins us from Hong Kong with the latest. How is China explaining this, Kristie?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we just heard from the ministry of foreign affairs in fact. And what they said, according to the spokesperson in just the last hour or so, is that the actions taken by the Chinese military were completely reasonable, legitimate, safe and professional, and that China is formally opposed to continued concern the U.S. creating trouble in the Taiwan Strait.

Look, U.S./China tensions are clearly in focus this Monday, especially what happened over the weekend. On Saturday, we had that scene, that they just send warships from China and U.S. involved in this near collision. And let's bring once again the video of the incident. What was happening is the U.S. and Canadian Navies were staging a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait.


And then, according to the U.S. military, the Chinese vessel came within 150 yards of the U.S. destroyer, in a quote, unsafe manner. Just cut right in front of the ship. And that forced the American vessel to slow down to avoid a collision.

Now, hours after this incident took place, you know, we heard from China's defense chief, Li Shangfu, who was at the Singapore security conference, and he accused the U.S. of creating chaos in the region. This is what he said -- let's bring it up for you. This is from China's defense chief.

He said: They -- in reference to the U.S. -- are not here for innocent passage, they are here for provocation.

Now Li also said in Singapore that the U.S. and China could seek common ground and common interests. But keep in mind, China earlier rejected that offer from the U.S. defense chief Lloyd Austin to meet in person at the summit, citing sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals.

At the Singapore conference, Lloyd Austin, he expressed deep concern about the lack of high-level military communication. In his speech he said this -- let's bring it up for you from the U.S. defense chief.

He says: For responsible leaders, the right to talk is anytime. The right time to talk is every time. The right time to talk is now.

Look, the U.S./China relationship is at its lowest point in decades. There is no contact in the high level between these two militaries, even in the wake of the latest close call involving the militaries of these two superpowers. Back to you.

FOSTER: OK, Kristie in Hong Kong, thank you.

NOBILO: Russia says it has thwarted a, quote, large-scale Ukrainian offensive in the southern Donetsk region. The Russian defense ministry released this video showing what it claims is a skirmish with Ukrainian forces.

FOSTER: Moscow says that Ukraine tried and failed to push through a vulnerable frontline area with tanks and armored vehicles. Ukrainian officials, however, refusing to comment and it's unclear that this was an actual offensive rather than a way to test Russia's defenses.

NOBILO: But Ukraine is sending a strong message on social media urging silence around the counteroffensive and saying it will not announce its plans for the world to hear. You're looking at that video there.

Clare Sebastian joins us now in the studio. Clare, what more do we know about what the Russians claim is the thwarting of a major offensive?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, we only have the Russian claim on that as of now. It came out from the ministry of defense. They say it happened Sunday morning in the southern Donetsk Region. And they're making quite a lot of it. They're saying that, you know, this was something that used quite a few Ukrainian brigades. That they destroyed a number of pieces of equipment and several hundred, they say, Ukrainian troops. Of course, we're very careful with any claims of troops losses in this war.

And they are saying that even that General Gerasimov himself, who is the commander-in-chief of the Russian Armed Forces and that head of the operation now in Ukraine, was in one of the command-and-control positions in that area at the time. So clearly, a way to sort of project his authority in the face of what we know to be a considerable amount of infighting within the Russian troops.

But the Ukrainian haven't commented officially on it. We haven't been able to verify it. The one thing we have from the Ukrainian side this morning, is a warning from the communications director of the Armed Forces that Russia, they say, will be stepping up information, psychological operations or are planning to. And they say to be very careful of anything around the counteroffensive warning that they might be putting out old video and things like that. So clearly, the counteroffensive and any kind of shaping and operations that led up to. But I think it we have clear, are also happening in the information space.

FOSTER: To Russian -- dissident Russian military units claiming they've taken Russian soldiers. They're going to hand them to the Ukrainians. Is that correct?

SEBASTIAN: So, this happened over the weekend. So, the Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, of course, those two dissident groups made up of Russian nationals who say they are now in Belgorod. And we know that the shelling, according to the government, have continued over the weekend. They say they captured some Russian soldiers. They invited the governor of Belgorod to a meeting and said that if he came, they would be prepared to hand the soldiers back.

He then said, you know, I'd be willing to do that. But according to these two groups, did not turn up to that meeting. So they then said that they will hand the prisoners over to the Ukrainian side. So, we don't know, we been trying to find out more about this this morning. We haven't got any updates as of now. But it does sort of speak to the way that this part of Russia, now the Belgorod region is becoming really a sort of battlefield in its own right.

FOSTER: Yes, interesting. Thank you, Clare.

NOBILO: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Sweden has fulfilled its obligations for admission to the alliance.

FOSTER: Stoltenberg was in Istanbul on Sunday meeting with recently reelected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey has blocked Sweden's accession to NATO, mainly because it accuses Stockholm of housing terrorist organizations. Swedish, Turkish and Finnish officials will meet next week to discuss Sweden's membership bid.


Now Sunday was Russian political dissident Alexei Navalny's birthday 47th birthday. Human rights activists say at least 90 of his supporters were detained after they took to the streets to call for his release from prison. There are no estimates of how many people participated nationwide.

NOBILO: And CNN cannot independently verify claims of the numbers detained or their status. Navalny is serving a nine-year sentence in a maximum-security prison outside of Moscow. He's about to go on trial again on extremism charges which could result in a 35-year prison sentence.

FOSTER: The prime suspect in the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway will be temporarily transferred to U.S. custody this week. Peruvian officials tell CNN they'll hand Joran van der Sloot to Interpol on Thursday. Which in turn will deliver him to American authorities.

NOBILO: Van der Sloot is set to stand trial in the U.S. on extortion and fraud charges for allegedly trying to extort Holloway's family after she disappeared. She was last seen alive with van der Sloot and two other men 18 years ago, leaving a nightclub in Aruba.

An Australian woman who served two decades in prison for the death of her four children has been pardon. In 2003 Kathleen Folbigg was convicted on three counts of murder and one count of manslaughter.

FOSTER: But inquiry has found reasonable doubt of her guilt. Citing genetic explanations for her children's deaths. The pardon means Folbigg does not have to serve the remaining 20 years of her sentence but her conviction hasn't been vacated.

NOBILO: Authorities in India are scrambling to repair and reopen critical rail lines after the deadly train crash this weekend. The latest on that and the investigation coming up ahead.

FOSTER: And later on, a lung cancer drug offers impressive results in an international clinical trial. We'll have details.

NOBILO: Plus, South American migrants are flown to California with the promise of jobs and shelter. Now state officials are investigating how they got there and whether they were misled.



NOBILO: California says 16 migrants from Colombia and Venezuela were flown to the state capital in a private jet and dropped off at a church without prior warning.

FOSTER: And they were allegedly lured there with promises of jobs, clothing and shelter. Now California officials are investigating who transported them and whether any laws were broken. CNN's Camila Bernal has the story.


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Officials here in California say they will get to the bottom of this. It's now an ongoing investigation, both the governor and the attorney general here in California, say they met with these migrants. That according to the nonprofit group that's taking care of them, says is 16 people from Venezuela and Colombia, all in their 20s and 30s.

Now, in terms of their journey, we know they were in Texas and they were taken to New Mexico. And in New Mexico, they boarded this private jet that brought them to Sacramento, California. Once they were here in the state of California, they were dropped off outside of the offices of Diocese of Sacramento. And according to officials here, there is going to be an investigation into all of this and of course, the documentation that these migrants have.

According to the attorney general in a statement he released, this is what he's saying about that documentation.

He says: We can confirm these individuals were in possession of documentation purporting to be from the governor of state of Florida. That statement than goes on to say: State-sanctioned kidnapping is not a public policy choice. It is immoral and disgusting.

Now the attorney general is looking at potential criminal and several options here for the people that either arranged the transport or transported these migrants. He's also saying he's looking into who paid for all of this and whether or not these migrants were given false promises or misled into coming here to California.

Now there is a faith-based nonprofit organization that is currently taking care of these migrants. They say they will continue to support them in whatever they need. And also say these migrants had no idea where they were or where they were going. But they also have questions in terms of how they got here and what happens next with their legal process. Here is a representative from that nonprofit group.

SHIREEN MILES, SACRAMENTO ACT: While we are happy to receive them and welcome them and want to give them whatever support they need, they will be in trouble if they don't show up at the court hearing that's been scheduled for them.

BERNAL: Of course, there's a lot of questions as to what happened here in California and who sent these migrants to California. But officials here saying they will investigate, while also treating these migrants with dignity and respect.

Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.


NOBILO: California's Attorney General says there is evidence pointing to Florida's involvement in the treatment of these migrants.


ROB BONTA, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: They're saying that they were given false promises about virtual system representatives being willing to help them find jobs if they got on this plane and went to another location. They were manipulated. They were mistreated. They were abused and exploited. The first thing that happened when they got here, was someone lied to them. Told them they would help them find that work that they hoped for and dreamed of. But instead, they deserted them and dumped them in Sacramento and didn't lift a finger to help find them a job.

This was the same company, the same M.O. that was used when migrants were moved to Martha's Vineyard, in Massachusetts. When they were moved to other locations. This is part of an official act and budgetary outlay in the state of Florida. It's called their Voluntary Transportation Program. They're hired Virtual Systems, the state of Florida has to identify migrants in Texas, not in Florida, in Texas, and move them to other states.

So there's a pattern here, there's documentation here. The document clearly that we have in our possession, says the state of Florida.


So, we believe the state of Florida, Governor DeSantis is behind it. Governor DeSantis has demonstrated his pettiness. His lack of substance, his xenophobia and his discrimination and racism, and his willingness to treat human beings, people as political pawns. It's wrong and we are getting to the bottom of it.


FOSTER: CNN has reached out to state officials from Texas and Florida for comment.

NOBILO: The so-called wilderness tail fire has been burning in Michigan and is now 95 percent contained. Evacuation orders have been lifted and part of the highway that had been shut down because of the smoke and flames has now been reopened. Investigators are also saying they know what started the blaze. It was a camp fire on private property.

FOSTER: At least 19 people have been confirmed dead after a massive landslide in China. It happened in Sichuan Province early on Sunday morning. A Chinese broadcaster says part of a mountain collapsed near estate owned for history station. The wall of mud and rock crashed into workers' facilities at a mining facility. State media say the rescue phase of the operation is over and the investigation is under way.

Authorities in India are working to reopen rail lines damaged in one of the country's deadliest train crashes.

NOBILO: Crews are toiling in extreme heat to repair the tracks and restore normal service by Wednesday. A short time ago officials said one of the two damaged tracks is now back in operation. At least 275 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured.

FOSTER: Authorities blame the number of casualties on the train's high speed at impact. CNN Senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is there. He takes us through the devastation and explains what's next for investigators.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the scene of one of the deadliest railroad disasters that India has seen in its modern history.

On Friday night, at least three trains, two passenger trains and a cargo train, it derailed and collided here after dark. So, what you see along the side of the tracks here, is at least 20 railroad cars like this one, which was reserved for passengers with disabilities. And you could still see the luggage, the belongings of the many people who were on board when this terrible accident took place.

The loss of life is simply staggering. At least 275 people killed, more than 1,000 people wounded, and the authorities say at least 100 of those survivors are in need of critical care.

The disaster zone runs as far as the eye can see here, with railroad cars scattered on the side of the road. And hundreds of workers here in just brutal heat and humidity, with heavy equipment, and also doing a lot of the work here by hand, with picks and shovels, trying to reopen the road. As you can see here, more of the railroad cars in this -- in this terrible accident.

The Indian prime minister came to share condolences with the families of victims, with the survivors, to call for an investigation.

The cause has been identified as a change in the electronic interlocking here. And there have been vows from top government officials to bring to justice anybody who's responsible for this accident. But it highlights both the importance of the railroad for India. More than 13 million people a day move along on trains in India. But also, a tragic history of accidents with more than 16,000 people killed, according to government statistics in 2021 alone, in railroad accidents.

The authorities insist that this stretch of railroad will be reopened and operational again by Wednesday morning. Bigger -- a bigger question would be how to make the trains in this country and its aging infrastructure safer for future use.

Ivan Watson, CNN, in Odisha state in Eastern India.


FOSTER: Now, Saudi Arabia vowing to slash oil production. The White House says it's mainly focused on prices for U.S. consumers. Saudi Arabia says it cutting output by another 1 million barrels a day starting next month in order to boost prices.

NOBILO: But U.S. officials say they simply want to ensure supply meets demand so that gasoline prices stay low. They've dropped significantly over the last year, largely because oil prices have come down. The price of Brent crude, the world's benchmark, has nearly cut in half since early last year.

FOSTER: Here's a look ahead at the futures ahead of the opening bell on Wall Street. A bit of a mixed picture. The Nasdaq the only one looking down there at the start.

NOBILO: Still to come, a U.S. judge overturns a law banning public drag performances in the state of Tennessee. Could it make a comeback?

FOSTER: Plus, Britain's Prince Harry is about to doing some no senior has done in a while. We'll have a live report on the lawsuit against a British tabloid publisher.