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Trump Charged with 7 Counts Related to Classified Documents; President Zelenskyy: 'The Disaster is Putin'; Syrian Asylum-Seeker Accused of Stabbing Attack in Lakeside Town; Smoky Conditions Blanket Parts of U.S. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired June 09, 2023 - 00:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause at the CNN Center in Atlanta with our continued breaking news coverage of the unprecedented legal jeopardy facing the, now, twice indicted, twice impeached one-term president, Donald Trump.


According to his legal team, Trump was indicted by the Department of Justice under the Espionage Act with willful retention of documents; six other criminal charges, including conspiracy to obstruct, and making false statements.

The federal charges stem from the former president's alleged mishandling of classified documents after he left the White House.

Last August, after FBI agents were granted a search warrant, they seized about 100 documents marked classified from Trump's Mar-a-Lago country club in Florida.

In earlier statements, prosecutors claimed the documents were likely concealed or removed from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago to obstruct an FBI investigation.

Trump confirmed the indictment on social media, says he's been summoned to appear at a federal courthouse in Miami, Tuesday afternoon next week.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's called election interference. They're trying to destroy a reputation so they can win an election. That's just as bad as doing any of the other things that have been done over the last number of years.

I'm an innocent man. I did nothing wrong. I'm innocent, and we will prove that very, very soundly and, hopefully, very quickly.


VAUSE: Trump was at his golf resort in Bedminster, in New Jersey when he was informed about the indictment. And, from there, CNN's Alayna Treene begins this hour's coverage.


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Former president Donald Trump was indicted Thursday night in the special counsel's investigation, into the alleged mishandling of classified documents, sources familiar with the indictment tell CNN.

And this is really a stunning development in the classified documents case. It's the first time that a current or a former president has faced federal charges.

Now, Trump has been charged, we're told, with seven counts in the indictment, and one of those counts is a conspiracy charge.

A source tells CNN, the special counsel has been investigating Donald Trump's handling of classified documents ever since some of these classified documents were found in his possession at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Now, the former president wrote on Truth Social, Thursday evening, that he's expected to appear at a federal courthouse in Miami at Tuesday, at 3 p.m.

We're also told that here at Bedminster, we're very nearby to where the president is. He's huddling with some of his aides. He's feeling emboldened by this news. That is his first reaction to this. He's thinking that, you know, potentially, this could have a political boost for his reelection campaign.

But other advisers of his say that there are some concerns and reservations about how this could affect Donald Trump in the long term and affect his reelection campaign.

Now the special counsel, Jack Smith, was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland seven months ago to look into this case, once they learned that there were still classified documents in Donald Trump's possession, but also once it was clear that Donald Trump was running for reelection again.

Alayna Treene, CNN, Bedminster, New Jersey.


VAUSE: Live to Los Angeles now, Jessica Levinson, professor of law and government at Loyola Law School and host of the "Passing Judgment" podcast.

Thank you for being with us, Jessica.


VAUSE: OK. So, just big picture, how do you see this moment in terms of the intersection of politics, law, history? And while another Trump indictment is kind of shocking, it's not surprising. It seems once again it's impossible to know how this plays out and where this country will be a year from now because of it.

LEVINSON: I think that's right. Not at all a big question, so I'd say, I think, politically and legally, we're seeing things point in exactly the opposite direction.


As we just heard, politically, I think this could actually help the former president, at least in the primary. His base voters, who he has told for years now that he is victim of the worst political witch hunt in our country. I think for him and them this is an "I told you so" moment. Look what they did to me.

But for him, legally, let's be clear: he is now on the receiving end of a very serious federal indictment. And if the reporting is correct, he's facing some real potential federal prison time here.

We're talking about obstruction, conspiracy to obstruct, the Espionage Act, apparently false statements, as well. And let's also be clear that, if the public reporting is accurate, the government has a strong case.

Now a strong case does not mean a slam-dunk conviction, but it means that there's a lot of evidence here. And I'm not seeing fantastic defenses for him.

VAUSE: So with that in mind, there has been no shortage of Trump lawyers appearing on television and as well as online to argue why the former president is innocent. Here's kind of the thrust of their arguments. Listen to this.


JIM TRUSTY, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: This is crossing the Rubicon. You know, when we have a weaponized DOJ serving as the Praetorian guard for the Democratic Party for the incumbent administration. And the attorney general, who is in charge of Jack Smith, hides from meetings, hides from conversations, and just says go talk to Jack, it is a -- it is a crazy new world.

ALINA HABBA, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: When you name is Donald Trump and you're leading in the polls, you are going to get hit hard. You are going to get indicted until you can't take it any more. But they picked the wrong guy, Jesse. They picked the wrong guy. And I think that that's why he's so ahead in the polls. And that's why he'll probably win.


VAUSE: I learned many years ago at the Levinson School of Law, when the law is on your side, you argue the law; when the facts are on your side, you argue the facts. When you don't have either, bang the table. Right now, do you hear a lot of banging of the table from the Trump legal side?

LEVINSON: A deafening of banging of the table, and I would be happy if I put it that distinctively. But yes, what I do not hear them argue is let me tell you why, under the federal statute, the former president is not guilty.

And -- or let me tell you why the facts don't indicate that any crime was committed.

Instead, it's the same talking points, that frankly, we always hear. This is a political witch hunt. There's no "there," there. It's just because it's the former president. And, of course, we know that this investigation began before he even declared his candidacy. And that a special counsel was appointed, in part, because he is a candidate for the presidency. And he's running against the incumbent.

But it just strains common sense to believe that every single investigation against him is nothing more than a political witch hunt.

VAUSE: Here's how Donald Trump himself defended his actions, speaking in September last year, a month after the FBI search warrant was served at Mar-a-Lago. Here he is.


TRUMP: If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, it's declassified. Even by thinking about it. Because you're sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you're sending it. When you send it, it's declassified. We -- I declassified everything.


VAUSE: Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice. Since then, there's been this sort of shift of whataboutism. What about Mike Pence? What about Joe Biden who had classified material at their homes or their personal offices. And as much as Trump also wants to create some kind of equivalency here, the cases are very, very different, right?

LEVINSON: It's so different. I mean, the best way I could think of describing it is, imagine that you take books out from the library. You find some that are overdue. You're Vice President Pence, or you're President Biden. You find the books. You call the library. You say, "I'm so sorry. And I have an at-home library. Why don't you come look and make sure there's nothing else there?"

Compare that to the former president. The library calls, and they say, over and over again, We have really important, sensitive books that you never should have checked out. Can you please give them back? He doesn't, he doesn't, he doesn't, over and over again.

One thing I want to point, and of course, we haven't seen the indictment. I think it's entirely possible that at least most of the crimes here do not depend on whether or not the documents were classified.

And so if the main defense here is, I declassified the documents, which, to be clear, I'm not at all sure what he claims is sufficient, that still does not provide a legal defense to obstruction, to conspiracy to instruct -- obstruct, and to, how I read it, the operative provision of the Espionage Act.

VAUSE: Very quickly, what is the penalty under the Espionage Act for willful retention of documents?

LEVINSON: I'm sorry, did you say what is the punishment?

VAUSE: The penalty. Yes,

LEVINSON: So, I believe that it is between -- it's either up to five years or up to ten years. And what's really -- you asked me about retention. What I'm really looking forward to in that indictment is, is he charged under the portion that deals with retention, or under the portion that deals with dissemination?

Because that means the government thinks that he took this information, and then he showed it around to people.


VAUSE: Jessica, it's so great to have you with us on this day. We really, really appreciate it. Thank you.

LEVINSON: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Let's take a short break. When we come back, rescues under fire. As floodwaters from a breached dam crest in Southern Ukraine, evacuation efforts face the deadly threat of Russian artillery fire. More on that in a moment.


VAUSE: Three days after the collapse of a major Ukrainian dam, officials say more than 500 people, including 28 children, have been rescued from the rising waters. But those evacuations have been targeted by Russian artillery fire.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the Russians --



(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: President Zelenskyy surveyed the destruction firsthand Thursday and had harsh criticism for Russia's president, who he blames for this disaster.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This manmade disaster at the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectricity plant is not a natural disaster or a manifestation of the climate crisis. The disaster is Putin. What he does, what he personally orders to do.


VAUSE: Malcolm Davis is a senior analyst of defense strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He joins us this hour from Canberra. Welcome back. Good to see you.


VAUSE: OK. So while the Russians blame Ukrainian sabotage of this disaster, they've yet to make public any details of how that may have happened.

The Ukrainians, though, have released some possibilities here. This is from the deputy technical director and chief engineer of the hydro plant.

Quote, "I assume that it must have been several simultaneous powerful explosions from the inside, most likely the dam itself and the hydroelectric power plant building, where the hydraulic units are installed, were mined. I emphasize once again," quote, "mined from the inside."

Does that assessment explain the sort of dam -- sort of damage that we've seen at the dam and the hydro plant? And given that Russian forces controlled the facility, the implication here is they're the ones who mined it.

DAVIS: Look, I would sort of suggest your viewers cast their mind back to the Second World War and the famous raid by the Dambusters against the German dams.

Barnes Wallis indicated that the only ways to breach the dams was to put an explosive charge down below the bottom of the dam, or rather than at the top. And that, to me, suggests that, in this case, in this 21st Century equivalent, you had to have explosive charges planted on the -- on the wall of the dam to breach it at the bottom of the dam.

So that, to me, suggests Russian complicity in destroying the dam, rather than a Ukrainian attack by a missile or some sort.

VAUSE: OK, so not only is it just likely that the Russians destroyed the dam, causing the disaster, we now have this allegation coming from the Ukrainian president.



ZELENSKYY (through translator): The situation is extremely difficult. Russian troops do not stop artillery strikes at the very territory where people are being evacuated. Unfortunately, there are wounded from their terrorist attacks. People who are rescuing and evacuating from the Russian ecocide are also forced to flee from Russian fire.


VAUSE: OK, so clearly, there must be some kind of military advantage to destroying the dam for the Russians. What is that? But what is the advantage to opening artillery fire on evacuation and rescue operations?

DAVIS: Look, in terms of shelling evacuation areas, that's just brutality by the Russians. It shows a complete lack of care on the part of the Russians against civilians, and you know, they have demonstrated this time and time again throughout this entire war.

So the Russians have absolutely no human compassion whatsoever in them, in terms of how they deal with civilians. And to them, shelling and placing artillery fire on civilian areas, including evacuation areas, is neither here nor there. They'll do it.

But certainly with the dam, the Russians clearly thought that, if they flooded the Dnipro River, they would interfere with Ukraine's counteroffensive. It hasn't worked out that way totally. The counteroffensive is continuing.

And at the moment, it's early days in that counteroffensive, but the dam flooding has affected more the civilian population, rather than Ukraine's military.

VAUSE: The full impact from this disaster from, you know, the destruction on the dam, we've known for weeks and months, maybe even longer, but also the economic consequences here.

But with that in mind, a joint White House news conference with the U.S. president and the British prime minister promised long-term support to Ukraine. Listen to this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact of the matter is that I believe we'll have the funding necessary to support Ukraine as long as it takes.

RISHI SUNAK, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: I think it sends a strong signal to him that there is no point in trying to wait us out. We're not going anywhere. We will be here for as long as it takes.


VAUSE: And by "him," Rishi Sunak was talking about Vladimir Putin. He was saying, essentially, we're not going anywhere. But do these promises, especially from the United States, from Washington, do they come with an asterisk because of the presidential election coming up next year?

DAVIS: They can't afford to for the simple reason that, if the Russians win in Ukraine, it basically guarantees a much larger war in coming years, potentially a Russian war against NATO.

Putin would have his strategic ambitions emboldened. He would have time, then, to rebuild his forces and potentially direct his attention either towards taking more of Ukraine or, worse, essentially attacking a NATO state such as Poland or the Baltic states.

So from the Western perspective, Russia has to be decisively defeated in this conflict. It has to be absolutely routed. And that means that Western countries have to supply Ukraine with the capabilities that they need in order to defeat Russia visibly and completely decisively.

That's what we have to do. We can't afford to ease off on supporting Ukraine.

VAUSE: Malcolm, thank you, as always. Malcolm Davis there in Canberra. We appreciate your time, sir.

DAVIS: Thank you.

VAUSE: Moments after the meeting with President Biden, the British prime minister spoke exclusively with CNN's Kaitlan Collins about the destruction of the dam. Rishi Sunak says the U.K. and its allies are gathering evidence to ensure whoever is responsible for the dam is held accountable. Here's part of the interview.


SUNAK: It's too early to definitively say, and our military and security services are working through that, as are the U.S. But if it does prove to be an intentional attack by the Russians, it would fit a pattern of behavior that we've seen throughout this war, which is Russia's deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure.


VAUSE: Prime Minister Sunak also tells CNN he's meeting with U.S. congressional leaders, showing they're willing to support Ukraine's ongoing efforts to defend itself from Russian aggression.

We will take a short break. When we come back, a lot more on this historic day, the indictment of Donald Trump. The first former U.S. president to face federal charges. The latest on the classified documents case and what to expect when he shows up in court next week.



VAUSE: Welcome back. We're following breaking news on the federal indictment of Donald Trump, the first time a former U.S. president has faced federal charges. He called Thursday a dark day, insisted he's an innocent man.

He's been summoned to appear in a Miami court on Tuesday afternoon. And Trump's attorney says the former president is disappointed but not shrinking from a fight.

A special counsel has been investigating how Donald Trump handled or mishandled classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida, residence after he left the White House.

Seven counts Trump is facing, including charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, making false statements, as well as willful retention of documents under the Espionage Act.

Trump posted a statement on his social media site which reads, "The corrupt Biden administration has informed my attorneys that I have been indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax." That's what Trump calls it.

He then went on to accuse President Joe Biden of having more than 1,800 boxes at various locations, including two universities and his garage floor.

Donald Trump and his team are apparently jacked up and ready to fight back after Thursday's indictment. That's according to someone who spoke to the former president just a few hours ago.

More details now from CNN's Kristen Holmes.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump and his team were expecting an indictment, and they are expecting an indictment imminently.

However, they were still surprised when it actually came down. I talked to a number of sources close to the former president who said that they met with lawyers. They heard about the summons, not yet actually seen this indictment. All they currently know is that there have been seven chargers and that one of them is a conspiracy charge.

Right now, Donald Trump and his team are huddled at Bedminster. They are coming up with a plan to respond to this. We saw a short video that Trump put out, but they are looking at a larger plan of what exactly this looks like. Is he going to have to appear in Miami? Is he going to give remarks in Miami? Is he going to come back to Bedminster and do that?

We know that Donald Trump this weekend has two campaign events, one in North Carolina and one in Georgia. I am told by a number of sources that that is not going to change. He is still going to appear at those events.

And one of those things that we heard when he had that Manhattan indictment was that nothing was going to change, and that is still the same messaging that we are getting now.

Now, of course, it is still early. This indictment is still new. There is a lot that can happen. But right now, they are planning on going forward with his 2024 campaign.

And you are likely to hear from the former president, talking about how he believes that this is election interference. And I've talked to a number of people close to the former president who say that they are going to be pushing that narrative. We do know that Trump's team has been calling his allies on the hill,

shoring them up, making sure that they're going to get out there on those airways and defend him, so something to be watching for closely.

Again, so much is still unknown, even to the former president and his team. All they know, that this is unprecedented, and they're still working through what exactly the next several days are going to look like.


VAUSE: Joining us now live, former U.S. attorney Harry Litman, who is also a legal affairs columnist at "The Los Angeles Times" and host of the "Talking Bits" podcast.

It's good to see you. It's been a while, Harry.


VAUSE: OK. Here's a little more from one of Trump's attorneys who was making the rounds. This time, she's appearing on FOX. Here she is.



HABBA: I am petrified for the country at the moment, Jesse; sad for my client, although he is resilient and strong. And it just tells me once again why we need him back in the White House. It is a very sad state of affairs in this country.


VAUSE: And here's part of a tweet from Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy: "Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America. It is unconscionable for a President to indict he leading candidate opposing him." Blah, blah, blah.

There's not a lot of daylight here between the language coming from Trump's lawyers and Trump's political supporters. So is it even possible to separate the politics from the law and from the facts when this heads to trial, if it gets there?

LITMAN: It's certainly possible, and a lot of politicians in the past have done it, but Donald Trump is not one of them. He's resolved to run on two tracks and even have the politics be the leading track.

It's hard to imagine what the strategy is unless it's a -- you know, a complete reckoning with the possibility of becoming president again. Because any defense attorney will tell you, you don't want your client out there making statements. And every time he does, he only hurts himself more.

But I think it's -- the die has been cast. And he's going to play it as a political matter, and that will only dig a deeper hole when it comes to being in court.

VAUSE: Of course, you know, we're talking about today's indictment, No. 2. There are more indictments yet to come. How does this all actually play out in terms of, you know, the legal -- the legalities of it all?

LITMAN: Yes, and just the logistics of it all. So a very important question will be who's going to go first and when? My best guess is the feds here will go first, and they chose to bring the case in Florida, because they can more quickly proceed to trial.

But you're absolutely right. I think the Mar-a-Lago case itself might produce another charge. But then there's January 6. We just had the fairly thunderous news this week that Mark Meadows has testified and is apparently cooperating.

And then Fani Willis in Fulton County, Georgia, has suggested the first few weeks of August will bring yet another large indictment against Trump.

You know, unlike a civil trial, John, you've got to be in attendance for the actual criminal trial. So he's going to be sitting there almost certainly during the heat of the campaign and then come out to inveigh against the -- the world and the United States.

But it's going to be quite an ungainly position for a presidential candidate to be, at the same time, a defendant in dock.

VAUSE: What a time to be alive, hey? Trump's former attorney general, Bill Barr, warns the Mar-a-Lago case, the classified documents, is the biggest legal threat the former president is facing. And on CBS before the indictment actually happened, he explained why he believed Trump did what he did. Here he is.


BILL BARR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: He is so egotistical that he has this pension for conducting risky, reckless acts to show that he can sort of get away with it. It's part of asserting his -- his ego. And he's done this repeatedly at the expense of all the people who depend on him to conduct the public's business in an honorable way.

And, you know, we saw that with both impeachments, and there's no excuse for what he did here.


VAUSE: I just want to get your reaction to that.

Litman: You know, look, I think it's a very good point and one that will have some purchase with members of Trump's party.

What he did initially in taking them all, gathering them up, illegal, but he would have been fine, had he just, as soon as they were asked, and certainly when a subpoena was issued, said, here you go.

Every other defendant who's had these charges does exactly that.

So it's this classically Trumpian, you know, "the state is me" kind of gesture. And then resisting, lying, you know, doing all kinds of phony conduct, getting other people, it seems, from the indictment, to lie for him. That's the sort of thing that's extremely hard to defend.

Any comments you had at top from McCarthy and his lawyer, they're just not -- they're going to sound really tinny next to the actual conduct, especially the obstruction.

VAUSE: Online though, there's been this explosion of right -- on the right of whataboutism and victimization, you know, extreme arguments like this one from one conservative commentator. This is the tweet. "If the people in power can jail their political opponents at will, we don't have a republic."

Apart from the fact that's not what's happening here, it is a grim warning. It's terrifying in many ways and reminds me of this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!


VAUSE: How do these two worlds live side by side?

LITMAN: Easily. It's called the rule of law. So it's not being done at will. It's being done according to the law. So it just has to be that there's a way -- and advanced countries have done this before -- to proceed against former high officials who have clearly broken the law.


So it has to come down -- I think all these comments were written in advance. It wouldn't matter. He could have shot someone on Fifth Avenue. His allies would be saying the same thing.

But the litmus test is the strength of the evidence. Weak and really not a crime, involving Hilary. And here, overwhelming and especially sort of Trumpian and brazen.

So that's what it comes down to. They're going to evade that question, but that's the important one. What's the evidence in both cases? This one is overwhelming, I think. We'll find out more on Tuesday.

VAUSE: Tuesday. Maybe we'll talk to you again then. Harry, thank you.

LITMAN: OK. Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Thank you for spending time with us. Thank you, sir. We'll take a short break. When we come back, clouds of wildfire smoke

have choked much of the U.S. and Canada for days, but some in the right-wing media claim, Hey, nothing to worry about. This isn't anything to be concerned about, nothing to do with climate change. We'll tell you more about that in a moment.


VAUSE: A stabbing spree at a lakeside town in the French Alps has left two adults and four toddlers hurt. All of the children were hospitalized, the youngest just 22 months old.

The French president says the nation is in shock; slammed the, quote, "absolute cowardice" of the attack.

The suspect, a Syrian asylum seeker, is now in custody. He received entry into the playground with a knife and allegedly attacking the children in their strollers.

Local prosecutor says he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and there is no apparent terrorist motive.

More details now from CNN's Melissa Bell.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a particularly brutal and frenzied attack that was carried out on the edges of the Lac at Annecy here in France, a tourist spot in the Alps.

A 31-year-old, we now know, according to French sources, Christian Syrian who sought asylum in Sweden. The prosecutors speaking to the fact later after the man's arrest, that he'd been given asylum in Sweden in 2013, had sought in France and had it denied on account of the fact of his already being an asylum claimant in the European Union.

Beyond that, we know not very much more about his motives. Anti-terror investigations have not been seized (ph) of the case. The question as to why he went on the rampage.

And it is their ages, particularly young, preschool children, that has really added to the concerns and the anxiety and the shock of a country that has watched these images unfold and emerge. Here is what the French prime minister at the same shortly after arriving on the scene.

ELISABETH BORNE, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I think as parents, as citizens, we can only imagine the shock. We are already very shocked, and I was able to talk to the people who intervened to save these children. I can ensure you that it's very, very shocking. There's a lot of emotion among those who intervened to help.


BELL: The tragedy of this morning all the more shocking here in France for the fact that these are extremely rare occurrences where children are deliberately attacked. You have to go back to 2012, and the rampage of Mohammed Merah that set off that terror wave in France to find anything similar.

It is, for now, a country still very much under the shock of those images that emerged from Annecy on Thursday morning.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


VAUSE: Hundreds of firefighters from around the world are arriving in Canada to help combat what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described as the worst fire season the country has ever had.

Smoke from more than 400 wildfires has blanketed parts of the U.S., making it difficult for many to breathe. For more details, here's CNN's Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York City, bathed for another day in hazardous smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can feel it. I can feel --

MARQUEZ: What do you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can feel a little harshness in my throat.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The smoky and shocking transformation of the city from a bright June day to a sickly-looking orange. All of it from smoke from enormous fires burning hundreds of miles away.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: This is an extraordinary event. It is unprecedented, in terms of the source of the air contaminants that we're experiencing right now.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The noxious plume extending its reach: Washington's monuments shrouded in smoke. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in a haze.

The fires burning in Canada, numbering in the hundreds. Weather patterns pushing the smoke South, trapping it there.

Air quality from the fires felt as far West as Wyoming and reaching deep into the American South, from Louisiana to Georgia.

For a second day, Major League baseball games postponed, this time, the Washington Nationals. Horses at Belmont just days before the big race will be taken to the track. The heavy smoke reducing visibility and interrupting flights in Philadelphia.

The U.S. now offering Canada all available federal firefighting assets to help contain the fires. BIDEN: We already have 600 American firefighters on the ground, have

been there for a while in Canada, including hotshots and smokejumper crews.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The effects at the smoke: from mild -- coughing and headaches -- to serious -- soreness of breath and asthma attacks. Those caught in it, adapting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the air, it just looks very dangerous out here. So I just wanted to do something to, you know, I guess, keep it --

MARQUEZ: To mitigate it?


MARQUEZ: So I want to give you a sense of what conditions are right now in New York City. That's the Statue of Liberty out there in the harbor. You can see that haze. That's not moisture in the air. It's not fog. It's not dust. It is smoke still.

This haze from the smoke, these massive fires. It is still affecting other parts of the country. We -- officials tell us that in the next 24 hours here in the New York area, at least, it will improve and it will take a little longer for the other parts of the country.

But those massive fires, those hundreds of fires in Canada still need to be brought under control.

Back to you.


VAUSE: Zeke Hausfather is a climate scientist and one of the authors of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. body which provides scientific updates and assessments on climate change. He joins us now, live from Oakland in California. Thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: So it's been, what, about 20 years since smoke like this from Canada has descended on the lower 48? And there are a number of reasons why. There's that unprecedented fire season in Canada. There's a low-pressure area of Nova Scotia, which is acting like a Southward- sucking vacuum cleaner.

But whatever is causing it, it seems to be exactly what climate scientists warned about for years. I mean, this is a result of climate change.

HAUSFATHER: So there's strong agreement in the scientific literature that hotter and drier conditions due to climate change are super- charging wildfires in the Western U.S. and Canada.

And what's really remarkable is that, while the number of fires occurring hasn't really changed and has even gone down in some regions like Canada, the area burned per fire is increasing dramatically.

What's really changing is the conditions on the ground: the vegetation, not the ignitions.

VAUSE: And the governor of your state spoke about the crucial role our generation is playing right now in efforts to mitigate the impact from climate change and all these changes. Here she is.


HOCHUL: We are taking climate change so seriously here in the state of New York, always have been. And I've said before, we're the first generation to really feel the effects of climate change and the last one to be able to do anything meaningful about it.


VAUSE: You know, for many, this seems to be a wake-up call for people in New York and Washington, who often don't wake up to hazy days like this, like hundreds of millions of other people do, you know, around the world every day.

So is this yet another wake-up moment? Do you think this will have kind of impact on policymakers?

HAUSFATHER: I think it is. You know, this is -- is very much a perfect storm of conditions that led to all the smoke covering the East Coast. But this is becoming the new normal for many parts of the world.


Where I live in California, we joked that we have a smoke season now, because sometimes during the summer, there's weeks on end where you can't spend much time outside, because the air quality is so bad.

And so, I think this is one of the first, you know, impacts of climate change that we see affecting our daily lives that's almost impossible to ignore.

And I hope it will serve as a wake-up call that we need to cut emissions and reduce the impacts of this going forward.

VAUSE: With that in mind, I want you to listen to a couple of soundbites coming up here. The first one is from a guy called Steven Milloy, who was the Trump-era -- he was with the Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency. Here he is talking about the haze.


STEVE MILLOY, FORMER EPA ADVISER FOR TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: This doesn't kill anybody. This doesn't make anybody cough. This is not a health event. This has got nothing to do with climate. First off, this is wildfire smoke. This is natural. This is not because of climate change --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's amazing. MILLOY: Talking about fossil fuel --


VAUSE: OK, so he's right. It was a -- it is caused by wildfires. Everything else he said there was just total B.S. I also want you to listen to former FOX anchor and -- on a FOX wannabe network Newsmax. Here he is.


GREG KELLY, NEWSMAX ANCHOR: This actually has happened a couple of times before in history, and for the time being, we can live with it. But it is pretty -- it actually is pretty. It's a beautiful, interesting aura the city has right now.


VAUSE: It's pretty. Yes, I often worry about giving oxygen to stupidity, but I thought suicidal denialism was over when it came to climate change. How much harm is done by this kind of insanity? And the other question I have is, what's the motivation?

HAUSFATHER: Yes, I mean, what they're saying is just crazy, right? When the sky is orange, and you can't see 20 feet in front of you, that's not beautiful. That's horrific. It looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie.

And, you know, globally, outdoor air pollution is a huge concern. What Steve Milloy said about it not hurting anyone is completely false. In fact, there's been dozens of studies now, including by the World Health Organization, that estimates upwards of 5 million people died prematurely each year from natural air pollution.

Now a lot of that is in places like India and China, where this is a chronic thing. You know, thankfully, outside of extreme events like this, the U.S. to date has had pretty good air quality.

But the problem is, the increasing wildfire severity in the U.S. and Canada threatens to undo much of the progress we've made over the last few decades, cleaning up air pollution under the Clean Air Act.

And so if we don't sort of reduce the causes of these wildfires, which is both drier conditions and hotter conditions due to climate change, but also a history of poor forest management in many parts of the country, where we sort of put out fires too effectively, left too much fuel build up in parts of the forest. We need to manage that, as well.

If we don't do that, we could really see a reversal of the gains we had in air quality in this country.

VAUSE: Yes. We've got to leave it there. Thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

HAUSFATHER: Thank you. VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Stay with us. Michael Holmes will be here at

the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM. WORLD SPORT starts after the break. See you right back here next week.