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Canadian Wildfires Blocks New York's Air Quality; Mike Pence Speaks Out on Refusing Trump's Classified Documents; Zelenskyy Asks for a Swift Humanitarian Response Following the Dam Collapse; Rory McIlroy Addresses LIV Golf PGA Tour Merger; Anthony Blinken Starts Saudi Arabia Visit; Lionel Messi Announces MLS Move. Prince Harry Emotional During Second Day on Witness Stand. Disney's Little Mermaid Flops in China and South Korea. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired June 08, 2023 - 03:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers here in the United States, and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead right here on "CNN Newsroom," smoke from Canadian wildfires, blocks out the sun in New York creating the worst air quality of any major city in the world.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He was asking me to choose between him and the constitution, I chose the constitution.


NEWTON: Mike Pence talks about his former boss, and January 6th at a town hall after officially entering the Republican race for the White House.

And, football legend Lionel Messi says he is coming to America to play for MLS Club Inter-Miami.

UNKNOWN(voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Paula Newton.

NEWTON: So, 75 million people in the United States and millions more are in north of the border are breathing a noxious smoky haze spewed by wildfires in Canada. The time lapse shows smoke engulfing New York over a three-hour period Wednesday afternoon. Just look at that, the skyline nearly vanishes behind a thick orange hazed by 2.00 P.M.

New York's air quality is the worst of any major city in the world and designated hazardous at its most severe level. Now, the smoke is coming mainly, of course, are more than 100 fires active in Central Quebec this hour. Officials warn the smoke could make it much of the U.S. and Canada for, in fact, the next several days. Authorities are urging people to stay inside, and use a mask, if they do go outside.


UNKNOWN: Living in New York, for the most part of 35 years, and I've never experienced anything like this before. For years, we have been wearing masks indoors, and taking them off outdoors, and now, it is the reverse.


NEWTON: He has got that right. Now, the extreme wildfires and limited visibility has delayed nearly 2,000 flights in the United States. This was the approach into New York's LaGuardia airport on Wednesday. The Federal Aviation Administration ordered a ground stop temporarily for all flights bound for LaGuardia. More than 100 flights were canceled.

Officials warn flights in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. could also be impacted. U.S. transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, says the FAA is fully prepared to modify operations as needed.

Now, as the thick band of smoke moves south, the air quality in New York is expected to improve ever so slightly. CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray has the latest now on the forecast.


JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Dense smoke has blanketed much of the northeast portions of the mid-Atlantic and Ohio valley today, with just incredible amounts of smoke filtering in the city. The pictures we have seen out of New York City have been incredible. It looks like there the smoke is peaking, and will start to improve by the time we get into later today.

But look at these pictures from Wednesday, throughout the day progressively the smoke just got worse and worse. You could barely see the skyscrapers during part of the afternoon. In fact, around 4:00 Eastern Time on Wednesday, New York City ranked number one in the world for the worst air quality of any major city, but New York City has been on this top 10 list for the last couple of days while the smoke has really been a problem.

And so what is driving all of this is the stagnant weather pattern that we have been in, this area of high pressure to the west, this area of low pressure to the east, and the winds are basically being funneled right up between that to the north. And so, that northerly wind is just pushing that smoke into portions of the U.S. and we are really not going to see much of a change until we change the weather pattern. And that could be quite some time.

So, while the smoke may temporarily get better for New York City, it means it is going to get worse for portions to the west. So we could see better air quality in New York City by the time we get to Thursday, but we are going to see those winds driving down to the Ohio Valley, that is where the smoke is going to get worse. And you can see that on this map right here, New York City, this is Wednesday 9 o'clock, you can see we had very thick smoke over New York City. But by the time we get until later this morning or into this afternoon, it really starts to improve across New York. We see a little bit of it in D.C., but those deep areas of red really start to push down into the Ohio Valley by the time we get into Friday afternoon. And so, you can see, while it improves for some, it is going to worsen for others.


And I think that will be the trend moving forward over the next couple of days and unfortunately, weeks to come, until we can get a change in weather pattern.

Here are the fires. You can see the satellite picture from space, all of the smoke just driving straight south. And also a reminder, still very early in the fire season for Canada, we are just getting going. And so, we probably have a lot more of this to deal with, but it has been a staggering year for wildfires.

For 2023, so far, we have already burned more than 9 million acres. That's almost triple what we burned for the entire year for 2022. And also for 2020, it was a low year, but we are really up there. And again, it is early in the fire season, so we can continue to see smoke across portions of the U.S. for most likely weeks to come.


NEWTON: Daniel Westervelt joins us now from New York. He is in associate research professor at Columbia University and an air pollution advisor to the U.S. State Department. And you know, the pun is intended here, you are in the thick of it. What do you have to say to people about what it is like? And how dangerous just breathing air is or could be right now?

DANIEL WESTERVELT, ASSOCIATE RESEARCH PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Yeah, it is honestly a hard to find the words to describe how impressive that what we are seeing is. You know at this exact hour, the air quality is still well into the unhealthy range, a little bit down from its peak in the hazardous range from this afternoon, but still quite bad.

What I would say is, you know, this could lead to, you know, all kinds different health issues like coughing, wheezing, stinging of the eyes, irritation. So, it's is good for people, if they can, to stay indoors as much as possible, still at this hour.

NEWTON: And in terms of, if you do have to go outside, clearly N95 is a good idea?

WESTERVELT: Yeah, I think so. I think a lot of folks who have been, you know making that point now, but it is important to want to echo, a well-fitting N95 that is capable of filtering out those particles, and a key thing to make sure it is well-fitting without any sort of leaks around your mouth. NEWTON: We certainly had our education about that from COVID, so

hopefully we can remember some of that particles. You, know you are inside in New York right now, before we move on, I want people to know, inside can also be dangerous in the sense that you have to be careful about what kind of area you are breathing in your own home?

WESTERVELT: Yeah, absolutely. I think the rule of thumb might be that whatever the outdoor concentration of the fine particles is, indoors is going to be about the half that. And so we have concentrations as high as they are outside right now, half of that is still pretty high for indoors.

So, it is really important to take precautions inside as well, you know, the key things you can do there is, you have a Hepa Filter, you can run it. If you have air conditioning, you can run it because the air conditioning systems usually have some kind of filtering built into them that they are designed to do.

NEWTON: Yeah, so if for those who are lucky enough to have those important to run them indoors even if it's not very hot inside.

You know, it's that key question, everyone wants to know. Is climate change to blame for this? Is there empirical evidence that may come out in future? We can't say definitively yet, right?

WESTERVELT: Yeah, that's right. I think it is pretty likely that climate change has, you know, increased the likelihood of this event. I think the research is probably ongoing as we speak to make this connection, more quantitative and more robust.

But, what we do know is that the symptoms of climate change such as worsening drought, changes to the precipitation, intense heat drying, all of those things are thought to worsen wildfire intensity and frequency, and a mountain-burned area.

NEWTON: This is an unprecedented event right now. Do you worry though that this will become more common? Is that what your research tells you?

WESTERVELT: Yeah, I think that our research is showing that these kinds of events, you know, may become more common in the future, we already see this wildfire phenomenon affecting air quality in the western states in the U.S. very often.

Coming over here to New York, that is a little bit of a new one, I would say, that does not happen all that much. But given the severity of these wildfires are getting worse as the climate changes, as the temperatures increase and things get drier, I think, you know, it is likely that these will continue to happen into the future.

NEWTON: Now, we got into the point where even if it is a clear day, it is supposed to be a sunny day that we can no longer take our clear blue skies as a sure thing.

[03:10:03] WESTERVELT: Yeah, that's right. I think that this, you know, that might be motivating for folks to really understand the impacts that we have on our environment, on our skies, and on our climate. And hopefully, we can turn this into a positive moment as well.

NEWTON: Yeah, and definitely wanted cooperation. I know Canada and the United States are closely to try and see what they can do, obviously, to mitigate what is supposedly a fairly dangerous fire season for the entire continent.

Daniel Westervelt, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

WESTERVELT: Thank you.

NEWTON: The U.S. State Department has informed Donald Trump that he is a target in the classified documents investigation. Now, that is according to sources familiar with the matter. Legal experts say it is a clean sign prosecutors may be close to indicting the former president.

And it is an indication and fact that the special counsel's investigation is focused on Trump's actions, not just the people around him. Prosecutors are looking into Trump's handling of sensitive materials found at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after he left the White House. FBI agents retrieved more than 100 classified documents in a search there last August.

The newest candidate in the Republican race for U.S. President was asked about the documents investigation during a "CNN Town Hall" several hours ago, and Mike Pence did pull some punches. The former Vice President said, he does not want to see the Justice Department indicted his former boss. He argued it would be divisive to the country, and would send terrible message to the world. Listen.


PENCE: I have no business having classified documents in my residence, and I took full responsibility for it. President Biden had no business, having him in his residence from when he was Vice President as well, and the same with Former President Trump.

But, I would just hope that there would be a way for them to move forward, without the dramatic drastic and divisive step of indicting a former president of the United States. We've got to find a way to move our country forward, and restore confidence, and equal treatment under the law into this country.

NEWTON: Joining me now from L.A., Caroline Heldman, professor of critical theory and social justice at Occidental College and she is a Democratic strategist, and from Washington, Charlie Dent, former Republican congressman and director of the ASPEN Institute Congressional Program.

We are in full swing, believe it or not, in this GOP campaign. You know, Mike Pence for a man who spent years sidestepping criticism of his former boss, and he acted like it was land mine every time he had to open his mouth. He is leaning into criticism a little bit more, but not that much.

How much -- Charlie, I will go to you, first, how much do you think this will work for his campaign at this point?

CHARLIE DENT, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Well, to win a presidential campaign or any campaign for that matter, a candidate needs to draw a sharp contrast, particularly against the front-runner, and Donald Trump is clearly the front-runner. Sidestepping criticism of Donald Trump is not going to help him.

Mike Pence really needs to determine whether or not he wants to take on Trump, or not. You know, he stood side by side, shoulder to shoulder with Donald Trump for four years right up until, almost, to the moment of the insurrection and then -- they had schism, obviously. And right now, Mike Pence is trying to run his pre-Trump conservative, fiscal conservatism, social conservatism, free markets, national security, but he may have missed the moment. Now, that is not where the party is anymore, it has become very populous, protectionist, in many respects isolationist.

NEWTON: Now, Caroline, he did try to lean into that criticism with the president in ways he hasn't in a previous months and years. What did you think?

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I thought it was a tepid critique. I agree with Charlie that Mike Pence would have been an excellent candidate a decade ago. He used humor talk in his town hall, he remembered people's names, he referred to his spouse, he talked about his shift from Catholicism to becoming a Pentecostal evangelical, so the very warm candidate.

But at the end of the day, it does not feel like he is in this race to win it. It is so strange. He is not going after DeSantis who he would have to get through in order to get through Trump and he is definitely really not going after Trump. In fact, he was asked a number of questions directly, he sidestepped them.

And if you look at the field so far, you have Trump at about 50 percent polling, you got DeSantis around 25 percent, and then you have Pence in making him way down at 5 percent, and the 1 percent is Tim Scott and Chris Christie. He -- Pence will not move ahead of the pack unless he actually pushes and competes with that both DeSantis and Trump and he's just not doing that.

NEWTON: Speaking of Pence's former boss though, of course, more breaking news, about Donald Trump, and his legal woes. I want to ask both of you, will this make any difference politically? It might surprise people what your answer might be? Charlie, first you.


DENT: Yeah, well, if Former President Trump is indicted as expected over the classified document issue at Mar-a-Lago, this is a golden opportunity for Trump's campaign opponents to just simply blast him. The issue, of course, is this man has been indicted one so far. He can be indicted two or three more times between now and the Republican convention.

And, it is such a simple message for these Republican candidates to say, this is too greater risk, do you really want to have a man as the nominee, the standard-bearer for the Republican Party who's been indicted a few times, and maybe convicted. I mean that is where these candidates need to fight and stand up and nail them, after Trump was indicted over the Stormy Daniels payment.

DeSantis and Pence more or less called it a witch hunt, and thought Trump was being treated unfairly, and Trump's poll numbers went up. it is almost malpractice of the candidate not to smash for something like this, they should be on the attack.

NEWTON: Right, but Caroline, just to Charlie's point there, though, is really going to make a difference? He still seems to have a vice grip on the nomination here.

HELDMAN: I don't think it will make a difference, Paula, I think it will actually feed into a persecution complex that he has developed, and the more indictments come down, the more of his brand will followers will support him.

I don't know how these competitors in the Republican primary can possibly do damage to Donald Trump. I think Charlie's point had a really good point that in the aftermath of the Stormy Daniels indictment, everyone, the folks who should've been competing with him or not, because they were worried about disaffecting the followers, and these are followers that he spent the last five and a half years tapping into fears telling them that the world has moved on, and that they are being persecuted by a world that does not appreciate them anymore. So I don't know how you will be Donald Trump when he has such a strong narrative.

NEWTON: Now, Donald Trump still the center stage in this campaign, I'm about to show you why Chris Christie jumped into the race. He was on CNN with our Jake Tapper. Jake Tapper asked him, look, your enabler of the President what is happening now. Take a listen.


CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thought it could help to make him a better candidate, and a better, president if you want, and I don't want Hillary Clinton to be President. And that is why i ran the first place. Turns out I was wrong. I could not make him a better candidate and I could not make him a better president.


NEWTON: Charlie, he was wrong, what do you think?

DENT: I think it is refreshing that he is at least willing to admit that. And I do think that Chris Christie, he may not be the perfect messenger, but he certainly has chosen the right target. He understands that nowhere to beat Donald Trump, somebody needs to take him on directly, and frontally, draw that sharp contrast.

Now, maybe Chris Christie is preparing to weaponize himself, you know, maybe I going to perform a services like a guided missile on Donald Trump. He might be willing to do that, and might not elevate his candidacy, at the end of the day. But he understands one thing, the Republican party cannot win with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.

How much losing can the party take? Under performance in 2018, 2020, you know, who is in the presidency in the senate, and again in 2022, Republicans certainly under performing in the House races? So, Christie understands this, and I think than most Republicans understand that they want to win again. And maybe this campaign should be about winning great again for the Republican Party, and they said they cannot do it. It can't be done with Trump at the top of the ticket and they are not going to win if they don't make the case that is why they beat the fire going.

NEWTON: There is a new slogan. Last word from Caroline there, on Chris Christie, what do you think?

HELDMAN: Well, I think he is pulling up one percent for a reason because he is going after a candidate that is most likely, but I agree with Charlie, that he's very much throwing himself into the race not expecting to win, but trying to beat that for some reason, that has a position to go after Donald Trump and its precarious position. It is telling that Chris Christie knows he is not going to, win but he is in the race to go after Trump.

NEWTON: Very interesting to see how this race going to progress, and again there are limits near the debate stage, so we will see how that comes together in the following months. Both of you, thank you so, much especially on the momentous political days. I appreciate it.

HELDMAN: Thank you, Paula.

DENT: Thank you.

NEWTON: Up next for us, rescuers worked to reach residents trapped in the flood zones of Ukraine after a major dam collapses. The latest development in a live report ahead.




NEWTON: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is issuing an urgent plea to the international community requesting a clear and swift humanitarian response, following the devastating dam collapse in the south. And he calls the damage there, in fact, catastrophic.

We can see for ourselves from that video. Now a regional military commander says that least 600 square kilometers of the Kherson region is now flooded, hundreds of homes are now flooded, and Mr. Zelenskyy says Ukrainian forces are arresting as many people as possible, and that is despite continued Russian shelling.

So far, more than 1,500 residents have been evacuated from the Ukrainian-controlled areas of the Kherson region, and now the United Nations has stepped in to help Ukraine claims Russian forces are offering no help to get residents out of the areas occupied by Russia.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The situation in the occupied part of the Kherson region is absolutely catastrophic, the occupiers have simply abandoned the people in these dreadful conditions, without rescue without water, they are left on the rooftops, in flooded communities.


NEWTON: CNN's Clare Sebastian is following developments for us and joins us now live from London. Clare, you are looking at the pictures, you are thinking this is what Ukrainians needed at this point? It was another traumatic day. I mean what more are we hearing from Zelenskyy about what he believes will be the scope of these ecological disasters?


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So I think obviously as we get more pictures coming out of the region, the scale and the scope is getting worse, certainly, as we understand it. President Zelenskyy really at pains to emphasized the situation in the Russian-occupied areas. And we heard this morning, Paula, from the governor -- the Ukrainian governor, of the Kherson region, he said that 68 percent of the flooded land is on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, so in Russian-occupied areas.

As you heard there from Zelenskyy he is accusing Russia of not doing enough to help people in those areas, of abandoning people in those villages. We have this extraordinary footage that was released by a brigade of the Ukrainian Army on Wednesday, essentially dropping, using a drone to drop bottled water to a household in Oleshky, which is on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Russian-held territory.

So extraordinary, the Ukrainian military is making efforts to help people in Russian-occupied areas. I want to zoom out and show you new satellite images of that town of Oleshky. We can see, I think the before on the left, that still during the war, and on the right devastating amounts of flooding literally it looks like every street in that town has been flooded.

And another image, upstream by the dam itself, in Nova Kakhovka, shows you what was a grain facility there, pretty much submerged a lot of it, and the image on the right that gives you a sense of the agricultural infrastructure in this region. Ukrainian government is now saying, I think, 10,000 hectares of farmland will be flooded, and that is the Ukrainian-held territory alone.

So, this is devastating for the economy as well as for the population there. Another thing to note is the upstream of the dam, as we have been discussed in the past few days is the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. We are now hearing that the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog will be stepping up its presence there, and the head of the IAEA spoke to Isa Soares about the situation on the ground. Take a listen.


RAFEL GROSSI, IAEA DIRECTIOR GENERAL: That doesn't seem to be an imminent risk of dry up of water available there, but the situation is serious. And so far, as we are seeing, this diminishing it's between 5 and 7 centimetters per hour, so it is steadily going down. So we have to monitor it very, very carefully.


SEBASTIAN: So he is talking about the reservoir behind the dam which uses a supply of water to the Zaporizhzhia plant which just said, and I believe, you can't pump water upstream to Zaporizhzhia. So given that the Ukrainian government says it will take five years to rebuild the dam, this is assuming, of course, they can get access, they do have to come up with a Plan B in Zaporizhzhia, and that is where he's getting the next week

NEWTON: Yeah, as you are just discussing the scope of this is, profound. Clare Sebastian, I really appreciate the update.

Now, the Vatican says last night went well for Pope Francis as he recovers from another abdominal surgery. Doctors say the Pope underwent a three-hour operation on Wednesday to repair a painful hernia. They say, the Pope's condition was not urgent, but they decided to operate at this point because his pain and symptoms were just getting worse. The 86-year-old pope's health as been fragile for years and he still has two foreign trips planned this summer to Portugal and Mongolia.

Still to come, the bombshell announcement from superstar Lionel Messi, about where he will play next? It caught the soccer world and everyone else by surprise.



NEWTON: One of the top golfers in the PGA tour is speaking out about the new partnership with LIV Golf. Rory McIlroy says he still needs a lot of, answers but feels the move will eventually be good for the game. McIlroy became one of the leading critics of LIV Golf when it launched a year ago. At that time, Tiger Woods said players who joined LIV turned their backs on the organization that helped them succeed. McIlroy now says he has mixed emotions.


RORY MCILROY, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I still hate LIV, like I hate LIV. I hope it goes away, and I wouldn't fully expect that it does. It's hard for me to not sit up here and feel someone like a sacrificial lamb and, you know, feeling like I've put myself out there and this is what happens. Again, removing myself from the situation, I see how this is better for the game of golf. There is no denying that.


NEWTON: So, after a year of criticizing LIV Golf, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan is now defending the new partnership. On the Golf Channel Wednesday, he said a lot of players were shocked by the news, but he's trying to convince them of positives here. Listen.


JAY MONAHAN, PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER: I understand that criticism I'm receiving around the hypocrisy, and me being hypocritical given my commentary and my actions over the last couple of years.

I'm confident that we have done something that is in the best interest of our sport, and ultimately in the best interest of PGA tour members.


NEWTON: News of the PGA tour partnership with LIV Golf comes as the top U.S. diplomat is in Saudi Arabia, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken who was meeting today with diplomats from Yemen, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates.

CNN's Scott McLean is following developments for us from London. Good to see you, Scott. You know, by secretary of state standards, Blinken is actually on the ground in Saudi Arabia for quite a long time, and he does join a long list of foreign diplomats right now trying to strengthen the ties to the kingdom.


You know, why now given the human rights issues involved? And to remind everyone, when Joe Biden was a candidate, he said he would make a pariah out of Saudi Arabia.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right, Paula. And look, the trip is long for secretary of state standards as you said, and I think that should be an indication of the importance that the U.S. Places on this region. And, you know, the Saudis muscling their way into a position of influence in the global game of golf is a perfect example of the growing Saudi soft power that the Americans will tell you, you just can't ignore.

They think that, look, if you ignore the Saudis, someone else is going to fill the vacuum. And we've already seen China, we've seen Russia trying to have a greater influence on the Middle East. In fact less than 24 hours after Anthony Blinken met with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, he was on the phone with Vladimir Putin.

You know, often on these foreign ships to western countries, the U.S. will talk about shared values, you know, freedom, democracy, human rights, things like that. It is abundantly clear that the Saudis don't share those values. And so, on this trip, U.S. officials are stressing shared interests, like peace, security, and economic prosperity, and there is plenty of that go around.

Even the Americans will tell you that, look, U.S. exports to Saudi Arabia help support some 165,000 American jobs. And so, while there are plenty of human rights issues that the Americans could be raising with the Saudis, I thought it was really telling that in advance of this trip U.S. officials briefed the press and they were asked about what specific commitments they were raising with the Saudis, and they were not specific at all.

And even after the meeting between Blinken and Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, U.S. officials said human rights were raised, generally, and in specific cases, but they wouldn't say what those specific cases were. And so, while human rights may be a pillar of how the U.S. engages around the world, it doesn't seem to be a top priority, at least on this tour. Paula?

NEWTON: Yeah. I don't have a lot of time left, Scott. But the other thing irking the United States or these production cuts, OPEC production cuts on the price of oil. Any indication they're talking about that?

MCLEAN: Yes, there hasn't been a lot of discussion about that, frankly. And from the U.S. perspective, they view it as, look, they can't control what OPEC Plus does, they can control what the Saudis do. They have tried and failed in the past to get the Saudis to do what they want an oil prices, especially going into another election cycle where low gas prices are generally a good thing to make the administration look good.

These production cuts haven't moved global oil prices that much. And so, from the U.S. perspective, they don't think it is that big of a deal. And considering all the other issues on the agenda, this one is likely pretty low, Paula.

NEWTON: Interesting, very interesting, Scott, especially as we say, secretary of state remains on the ground there in Saudi Arabia. Scott McLean for us in London. Thank you so much.

So, it is not quite a done deal, but football legend Lionel Messi has announced he will play from MLS Club Inter Miami. There was speculation that upon leaving Paris Saint-Germain, Messi would return to his beloved Barcelon, where he spent 17 trophy rich seasons or you know head to Saudi Arabia for some lucrative final years there.

Major League Soccer and knowing this will be so good for the North American game tweeted, quote, " The GOAT, greatest of all time, is coming. Millions of MLS fans all over the world welcome you."

CNN's Don Riddell picks up our story.


DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORTS ANCHOR: These are heavy days for sports fans in south Florida, but the excitement went into overdrive Wednesday, with news that Lionel Messi is coming to town. The Argentine World Cup winner who is now widely regarded as the greatest football player of all-time says having left Paris Saint-Germain, he is now on his way to MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER and Inter Miami. To paraphrase the NBA legend LeBron James, Messi is taking his talents to South Beach.

LIONEL MESSI, FOOTBALL PLAYER (through translator): I made the decision that I'm going to Miami. I still haven't closed it 100 percent. I'm missing some things, but we decided to continue my journey there.

RIDDELL: Well, this month, sports fans in the region have been enjoying the Miami Heat and the Florida Panthers thanks to the NBA finals and the Stanley Cup final, but the Messi news is absolutely huge. Many had expected Messi to move to Saudi Arabia. We assumed he already has close business ties, and where his generational rival Cristiano Ronaldo is already playing. But his move to the state will significantly boost the global audience of Major League Soccer, and it is perfectly timed as well. The United States will be co-hosting the next World Cup in just three years time, along with Canada and Mexico.



NEWTON: And we will look forward to that. That was CNN's Don Riddell. Now, one last note I found so interesting, even though Messi's contract is still not set in stone, you just heard him say it, MLS team set to play Inter Miami in the coming weeks are already seeing ticket prices for those matches go through the roof. In fact, nosebleeds seats here in Atlanta are listed up well over $100 a piece now. I guess fans are excited. And why wouldn't they be?

All right, Prince Harry has wrapped up his testimony in a British court. Ahead, what caused the Duke of Sussex to get emotional on the witness stand.



NEWTON: It was an emotional day for Britain's Prince Harry as he concluded giving testimony in his phone hacking lawsuit against those British tabloids. He appeared uncomfortable during the continued cross-examination, where at times he clashed with a lawyer from Mirror Group newspaper.

CNN's Nada Bashir joins me now from London with more. And Nada, I know you have been following this case closely. Can you bring us up to speed on the Prince's testimony, and what happens now as the case goes forward without the Prince being present?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, we saw the Duke of Sussex facing hours an hours of cross-examination two days in the high court and he was pressed on the details of his allegations. He is, of course, accusing the Mirror Group Newspapers of seeking information, obtaining information through unlawful means, phone hacking, voice mail interception, and the use of private investigator. And they went through a number of articles published between the mid- 1990s and early 2000s, which he alleges contains details, private information, which could, in his eyes, could only have been obtained through those illegal tactics, including conversations with his father. Now, he can tells that as well as details around his relationship with former girlfriend Chelsy Davy, at one point alleging he believed a private investigator had fitted a tracking device to her vehicles.

These are pretty significant allegations, but he did face a pressing from Andrew Green, the lawyer representing MGN questions why exactly and how he believes he was hacked, where are the details on that, oftentimes telling the Duke of Sussex that he was entering the realm of speculation. That was something that later led to a show of emotion for Prince Harry. He was asked by his own lawyer how he felt to be accused of speculation, how it felt to face hours of cross examination. And he paused for a while before seemingly becoming a bit choked up by the accusation, saying it was a lot to go through these articles.

But of course, this hearing is now continuing without him. We are hearing from Jane Kerr now, a former Mirror journalist, whose name appears on 10 of the 33 articles being assessed in court at the moment. She has defended her articles, she denies any wrongdoing, and says that if a private investigator used by the Mirror Group Newspaper were engaged in unlawful activities, this had nothing to do with a journalist who would have no way instructed that sort of activity. Paula?

NEWTON: OK. Nada Bashir for us, really appreciate the update. Thank you.

Coming up for us here on "CNN Newsroom," Disney's newest movie star is getting lots of praise for her performance in the little mermaid, but our audience in Asia and South Korea are not reacting as warmly. We will tell you why when we come back.




NEWTON: Disney's new live action movie, "The Little Mermaid," is taking China and South Korea, thanks in part, to a racist backlash. Now, people are complaining on social media that Ariel played by Halle Bailey, a Black actor. The movie has grossed less than $5 million in each country since it was released in late May.

Kristie Lu Stout is here from Hong Kong. And I know you have been tracking the story. In fact, this is disturbing here. Can you walk us through exactly what is going on?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Paula. This Disney live action reboot of "The Little Mermaid" is dramatically underperforming in China and South Korea amid racist commentary and criticism. The black actress, Halle Bailey, she has been widely praised for her inspired (inaudible) main character, Ariel, but apparently that isn't enough to win over certain would be viewers in China and South Korea who just can't get over the fact that Disney casts her in the role.

Now, the film globally has found success in many countries around the world. In fact according to Calm (ph) Score, the film has made some $327 million globally, but China which, of course, the world second largest box office has contributed a very, very small amount. According to NDATA (ph), this is a Chinese box office tracker, is that in Mainland China it made only $2.7 million in his first five days and compare that to the latest "Spider-man Across the Spiderverse," that brought in nearly $20 million in the first five days of opening in China.

And, some people in china have been sharing their objections to the film online. One netizen on a Chinese box office platform said, quote, "the fairytale I grew up with has changed beyond recognition," and Chinese State Media has encouraged and egged-on such responses. In fact, I want to show you this op-ed published right before the films debut in China. In the "Global Times" it said this, quote, "the controversy surrounding Disney's forced inclusion of minorities in classic films is not about racism, but it is lazy and irresponsible storytelling strategy," unquote.

Now, Disney declined to comment. Similar reaction has been found online and in South Korea. One user said that the movie had been, quote, "ruined," using the hashtag, not my aerial. And according to additional data from the Koran Film Council in South Korea, "The Little Mermaid" has attracted some 472,000 viewers in the first week, far-less in comparison to the 643,000 fans that showed up for the latest "Fast and Furious" sequel. Back to you.

NEWTON: OK, Kristie, thanks for that, appreciate it. Now, if you have ever wanted to live a pampered life like Barbie, a new pop-up restaurant could actually give you that chance. The Malibu Barbie Cafe experience just opened in Chicago, look how pink that is. The place has everything, beachy bright colors, roller skates, and a life-sized Barbie doll box that you can take your picture in. Oh, my goodness. There's another location currently open in New York.


Now, while the cafe doesn't appear to have any official connection to Mattel, the experience coincides with the release of the "Barbie" movie, of course, coming out in July. I still have a Barbie airplane, full confession.

I want to thank you for watching, I'm Paula Newton. Bianca Nobilo and Max Foster are up next with more of "CNN Newsroom."