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CNN International: U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson to Tackle Ukraine Aid with Speakership on the Line; Erdogan Opponent Claims Victory in Istanbul Mayoral Race; Jury Selection to Begin in Chad Daybell Capital Case. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired April 01, 2024 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. If you're just joining us, here are our top stories today.

The Israel Defense Forces says it's withdrawn from Gaza's largest hospital after a two-week raid. The IDF says their troops have completed precise operational activity in the area of al-Shifa Hospital. But a witness at the hospital says, quote, it feels like a horror movie. This cannot be real.

A new Palestinian Authority government was sworn in on Sunday. That's according to the Palestinian News Agency, WAFA. The new cabinet is led by Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa, an ally of President Mahmoud Abbas.

A federal judge set to sentence Alex Murdaugh today for nearly two dozen financial crimes. Murdaugh pleaded guilty last September to 22 federal charges that include conspiracy, fraud and money laundering. The former lawyer already is serving two life sentences for the murders of his wife and son.

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson says he expects lawmakers to move quickly on a package that includes aid for Ukraine when the House returns from recess. Johnson told Fox News the measure will include some important innovations. Aid to Ukraine is a divisive issue, though, amongst House Republicans, and how Johnson handles it could help determine whether he remains in power. Manu Raju has more.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mike Johnson, the Speaker of the House, could be the second House Speaker ever to be ousted by his own colleagues. That's if Marjorie Taylor Greene, the conservative congresswoman from Georgia, does move ahead to call for a vote seeking his ouster. And if he doesn't have the votes, defend it off.

This was announced just before the House left town for a two-week Easter recess. But behind the scenes, Mike Johnson has been strategizing, trying to figure out how to avoid this ultimate fate.

He thinks -- his allies think he can't avoid it. But there are some big decisions that are looming. One of them is how to deal with aid to Ukraine.

Some Democrats say if he moves forward with aid to Ukraine, that will be actually enough for them to help him save his job. But Mike Johnson is debating trying to move a narrower Ukraine package, and some hard- right members are pushing him to offset that Ukraine aid package with spending cuts, loaded up with immigration measures, things that could put off Democrats. How will that play out, and will that ultimately lead to his ouster? All those things have been discussed behind the scenes.

New reporting from my colleagues Melanie Zanona, Annie Greer, and myself details all of that. And I put the question to some Republicans, including one, Matt Gaetz, who led the ouster of Kevin McCarthy. If he would do the same with Mike Johnson, he made clear he's on Johnson's side, as he indicated that they've talked about this issue.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I would not support a motion of aid, Kate. I gave the speaker some unsolicited advice that we've got to get into a fighting posture, and I was very pleased with how the speaker received that advice.

RAJU: Do you think the speaker needs to be voted out of office?

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): I don't have a comment on that, you know, and I think that comment is a comment in of itself that I don't have a comment on that.

RAJU: You may have a vote to vacate Mike Johnson. Would you support that?

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I mean, look, right now we've got to go back and get Republicans united to point out what our radical progressive Democrat colleagues are doing, and present an actual competing vision.


That does not start with, to be very clear, it does not start with putting a clean Ukraine bill down on the floor.

RAJU: Do you have confidence in him as speaker right now?

ROY: Look, you know, again, we're all working together, trying to figure out what we're going to do next.

RAJU: But as you can see there, a lot of members still have not made up their decision on what to do, including those far-right members, and with Mike Johnson having virtually no margin for error in the Republican House, if this vote does come up, it would really threaten his speakership, and it would be up to Democrats, most likely, to decide whether to save him.

Manu Raju, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: The people of Turkey delivered President Erdogan and his political party their biggest ever electoral blow on Sunday. Nationwide municipal elections. Voters reinforced the power of Istanbul mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, and his opposition party as strengthening -- a strengthening political force, with most of the votes counted.

Imamoglu said he is leading the election by a million votes. His Republican People's Party gained mayoral seats in 15 other cities.


EKREM IMAMOGLU, ISTANBUL MAYOR/OPPOSITION CANDIDATE (through translator): The nation itself gives the order and the instructions, not just one person. Officials receive instructions from the nation. Period of one-man rule is over as of today. It is done. The Republican democracy to go full speed ahead from now on.


FOSTER: Well, the outcome of the election marks a dramatic defeat for President Erdogan and his AK Party after two decades in power. The longtime leader acknowledged the losses and said he will respect the will of the Turkish people.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): We will openheartedly analyze the results of the March 31st elections within our party and make our self-criticism boldly. Although not finalized yet, the election results show us that we are experiencing a loss of ground in local administrations across the country. Of course, we will discuss the reasons for this decline we see on a local basis.


FOSTER: Our Scott McLean, following developments from Istanbul for you.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If local elections in Turkey were a referendum on the ruling government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then voters have very clearly sent a message that they are not happy. Not only has Erdogan's AK Party failed to win back major cities in this country, but it appears that they are on track to also lose some areas that had been considered strongholds.

And perhaps the biggest blow of the night is right here in Istanbul, where people have come to celebrate the win of the incumbent mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, a man who is widely considered to be one of the very few, perhaps the only opposition figure with the popularity and the strength to take on Erdogan in a general election.

And not only has Imamoglu won re-election, but it appears that he has won it with a very comfortable margin. His party has even taken the district in Istanbul where Erdogan himself was born and raised.

And Erdogan personally injected himself into this race. His face is on banners and billboards, he's been here for rallies as well. But also hanging over the country at the time in the dire situation of the economy, where inflation is out of control, interest rates have hit 50 percent, and people are really feeling it in their wallets.

Now, President Erdogan is constitutionally barred from running for another term in office, but there are some loopholes which could allow him to run one more time. And if he does, he will now surely have a very formidable opponent in the re-elected mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu.

Scott McLean, CNN, Istanbul.


FOSTER: You're hearing the Iftar call to prayer at the great Umayyad Mosque in Syria, marking the end to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This is the first call to prayer the historic mosque has seen since government forces retook control of the eastern and old Aleppo, and the significant event marked a symbolic return to normalcy for the city's residents who've endured 13 years of conflict and destruction.

Now, what was supposed to be a fun Saturday out -- Saturday night out turned into a blood-soaked nightmare for some children in Indianapolis. We'll explain why.



FOSTER: Another weekend in America marred by gun violence. On Saturday, at least seven children between the ages of 12 and 17 were shot in Indiana's capital. Indianapolis police officials weighed in on how similar incidents could be avoided in the future.


CHRIS BAILEY, CHIEF, INDIANAPOLIS METROPOLITAN POLICE: It starts at home. That's the first place. You can look to the police all you want to try to solve these things. And like the chief said, we have plenty of resources in downtown Indianapolis on the weekends to deal with our issues. And yet this occurred.

TANYA TERRY, DEPUTY CHIEF, INDIANAPOLIS METROPOLITAN POLICE: The conflict should not lead to somebody pulling out a gun and trying to resolve it. The consequences are eternal. OK. We've got to learn how to talk to each other. We've got to learn how to resolve conflict in different ways.


FOSTER: Well, all the victims are in stable condition. Indianapolis police believe they believe multiple firearms were used and are still working to identify a suspect. This marks the third weekend in a row that Indianapolis police have been rocked by a mass shooting.

In the state of Tennessee, police have identified a suspect in connection with a deadly Easter brunch shooting. One person was killed, at least seven others wounded at a Nashville restaurant on Sunday. Police believe it happened after an argument between two men. The suspect has been identified as 46 year old Anton Rucker.

Police say he has past convictions for aggravated assault and drug charges. They don't believe the suspect and victim knew each other.

It was a case that captivated America. Capital murder, conspiracy and claims of apocalyptic religious beliefs. In the hours ahead, Chad Daybell's triple murder trial gets underway in Idaho. He's charged with conspiring with his wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, to kill her two children and his first wife.

CNN's Camila Bernal has more on that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: State of Idaho versus Chad Guy Daybell.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A high-stakes trial with the death penalty on the table if convicted. Prosecutors say Chad Daybell killed two of his stepchildren and his first wife, motivated by power, sex, money, and apocalyptic religious beliefs.



BERNAL (voice-over): Murder and conspiracy charges.

DAYBELL: Not guilty

BERNAL (voice-over): All of them, the same plea.

DAYBELL: Not guilty.

BERNAL (voice-over): His wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, was convicted of the same murders in May of last year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The answer? Guilty. The answer? Guilty.

BERNAL (voice-over): And on Monday, it's Chad Daybell's turn to be tried.

Prosecutors say Tylee Ryan, who was 16, and JJ Vallow, who was seven, were last seen on different days in September of 2019. Then, in October, they alleged Daybell killed his then wife, Tammy, who was initially believed to have died in her sleep.

Less than three weeks after her death, he married Lori Vallow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The search continues for two missing children. BERNAL (voice-over): The children's disappearance captured the nation's attention in late 2019, when Daybell and Vallow abruptly left Idaho after police started asking questions.

REPORTER: Just tell us where your kids are?

BERNAL (voice-over): The couple was found in Hawaii in January of 2020.

That June, a gruesome discovery. The remains of Tylee and JJ were found on Daybell's property. Daybell's preliminary hearings have already given a preview of the evidence against him.

STEVE DANIELS, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Eventually, we uncovered the entire body that was wrapped in this black plastic bag with a lot of duct tape.

BERNAL (voice-over): And in Vallow Daybell's trial, prosecutors said the two believed themselves to be religious figures who had assistance some of rating people as light or dark, and use their doomsday religious beliefs to justify the killings.

During her sentencing, Vallow Daybell doubled down on her religious beliefs.

LORI VALLOW DAYBELL, FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER: Jesus Christ knows that no one was murdered in this case. Accidental deaths happen.

JUDGE STEVEN BOYCE, IDAHO DISTRICT COURT: You justified all of this by going down a bizarre religious rabbit hole and clearly, you are still down there.

BERNAL (voice-over): She was sentenced to spend her life in prison. But now, the question is whether Chad Daybell's defense will also include these beliefs, or if he will turn on his wife.

BERNAL: And Chad Daybell's attorney spoke out saying his client is ready to tell his story, although it is unclear if he will testify in his own defense. What will also be interesting to see here is what the defense consists of, because in Lori's case, they decided to not call any witnesses to the stand. So it will be interesting to see what this defense attorney does.

Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.


FOSTER: Cannabis now legal for adult recreational use in Germany. The country's federal council cleared the way to decriminalize the substance in late February.

Under the new law, adults can possess up to 25 grams of cannabis. They're also allowed to grow up to three plants for private use. Production and distribution of the drug are also permitted in licensed clubs. The law gives Germany some of the most liberal cannabis rules in Europe. After the break, college basketball's men's final four is now set.

We'll have all the details on who's still in the running for one shining moment.

Plus, is this the year for a wildflower super bloom in California? We'll look at why it could be possible.



FOSTER: The U.S. College basketball's March Madness. The men's final four is set.

The top ranked Purdue Boilermakers defeated number two, Tennessee, 72 to 66 in the Elite Eight. Purdue is advancing to its first final four since 1980. And North Carolina State continues its Cinderella run after upsetting Duke, 76 to 64.

Here's how the semifinals will be played on Saturday. Yukon and Alabama going head to head and the Boilermakers facing off with the Wolfpack.

NC State and South Carolina are through to the women's final four, but not without controversy.

The three point lines on the court where North Carolina State beat Texas weren't the same distance. The coaches opted to play the game without a delay. The Texas coach says the players were unaware of the discrepancy, but he wasn't pleased.


VIC SCHAEFER, TEXAS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH: Well, I hate to say this, but I have a lot of colleagues that would say only in women's basketball. I mean, it's -- it's a shame, really, that it even happened. But it is what it is.


FOSTER: The NCAA is investigating how that actually happened.

It's an annual sign of spring in California. Wildfires blooming up and down the state this year, thanks to -- well, in part to a very wet winter. Residents and visitors are hoping they're going to be more spectacular than normal. Here's Stephanie Elam with more on that.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A flurry of flowers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's amazing.

ELAM (voice-over): As spring begins to unfurl in California, flower fans are hoping for another showstopper, a phenomenon known as a super bloom. EVAN MEYER, BOTANIST AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THEODORE PAYNE

FOUNDATION: A superbloom is many, many flowers, millions, if not billions of flowers blooming simultaneously.

ELAM (voice-over): Expanses of orange, yellow and purple flowers so densely clustered that they are visible from space. Like in 2023, after one of the wettest winters on record. The thing is, superblooms aren't a guarantee.

It takes the right conditions for that riot of hues to appear. During California's devastating drought years, there's no brilliant display.

MEYERS: And when those conditions come together and you get a lot of rain and cool days, you're going to see tons of flowers. And this year, I think we're on track for that.

ELAM: All of these beautiful blooms just draw people in. But this is nature, so naturally there are threats. And here in California, that often is snakes.

ELAM (voice-over): Like 12-year-old Malin found out.

ELAM: What is the coolest thing you've seen when you've come out here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A snake. I got the dog and I started running.

ELAM (voice-over): In 2017, some California parks were crushed with superbloom seekers. The town of Lake Elsinore banned visitors to one canyon in 2019 after hundreds of thousands of people trudged off trails, destroying precious petals in their quest to take the perfect picture.

MEYERS: These are fragile ecosystems. They're wild ecosystems, and they can be damaged pretty easily by being stepped on, sat on, driven on.

ELAM (voice-over): Yet experts say respectfully viewing a superbloom is a great way to connect with nature.

MEYERS: You'll just see one of the most incredible things that happens in our natural world.

ELAM (voice-over): Stephanie Elam, CNN.


FOSTER: Japan's cherry blossom season has officially begun. Tourists and locals in Tokyo are flocking to see the famous flowers reach peak bloom. This year, the celebrated trees started blossoming later than usual. The season can only begin when, according to state media, weather officials monitoring a specific tree in Tokyo are able to spot 11 blossoms.

This story is no April Fool's joke. I promise you the U.S. -- in the U.S., the Powerball jackpot has grown to nearly a billion dollars. No ticket won the grand prize on Saturday. So Monday's estimated jackpot is now nine hundred and seventy five million dollars. If someone were to win tonight, they could take the money in 30 annual payments or as a lump sum payment of four hundred and seventy one million dollars. Good luck to you.

Thanks for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. CNN "THIS MORNING" is up next after this quick break.