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CNN This Morning

Ukraine Blames Russia for Major Breach to Critical Dam; Mar-a- Lago Pool Flood Raises Suspicion in Documents Probe; Presidential Field Gets More Crowded. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired June 06, 2023 - 07:00   ET



SARA FISCHER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST: But I think it wouldn't be as bad if we were in a bullish market.

What makes this really bad for Twitter is that the same report that The New York Times had shows that they don't foresee it getting any better. A lot of media companies and tech platforms see this declining ad revenue, but project it to increase later on in the third and fourth quarters. That's not the case for Twitter, and that's going to present a huge problem for its incoming CEO, Linda Yaccarino, who started just yesterday at Twitter.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: But this is her bread and butter. This is what she's great at, is ad sales. So, we'll see what happens.


HARLOW: Happy first day. Thanks, Sara, great reporting.

MATTINGLY: All right. CNN This Morning continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A major dam in the Kherson region was destroyed, threatening the lives of thousands of people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water from this dam supply the Crimean Peninsula and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Bakhmut, the Ukrainians really think that they're making gains there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Multiple operations at different locations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Draining of the pool went into a room that stored I.T. equipment, including some of the surveillance system.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Was this on purpose or was this an accident?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Also, Donald Trump's lawyers went to the Justice Department and met with special counsels. ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: One last ditch effort to avoid disaster.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: That already crowded. GOP field is getting much more crowded.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't sleep on Mike Pence, at least as somebody who may rise in the polls.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kamikaze Christie is coming in with one mission. There's no way Chris Christie believes he can be president of the United States.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Donald Trump has no chance of winning in November of '24.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An internal FBI document that Republicans say shows these unverified allegations that Joe Biden was involved in some kind of bribery scheme.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will now initiate contempt of Congress hearings.

My colleagues wanted to hold the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in contempt for complying with their request.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to take a punch in the face to win. The guys understand there's going to be a little bit of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most fun I've ever had playing hockey. It's been awesome to be part of this journey with this team.


HARLOW: Good morning, everyone. It is Tuesday. Look who we have. Happy you're here, Phil.

MATTINGLY: I am happy to be here and I can't wait to dig into what the Vegas Knights were able to do last night.

HARLOW: You mean the Golden Nuggets?

MATTINGLY: The Golden Nuggets, as you called them earlier, which, by the way, as Carolyn pointed out, Vegas native, is actually a Golden Nugget casino in Vegas. So, you were totally aligned with where you were going.

HARLOW: Prince --

MATTINGLY: Harry, not Henry. We've made a lot of progress in the last hour.

HARLOW: It's been an eventful first hour. We're going to get it right this hour. No, we're really glad you're with us.

We do begin with really serious news overseas. Look at this video, dramatic video showing water pouring out of a critical dam. Look at that. That is in Ukraine. This dam sits at the frontlines of the war in a Russian-controlled area of the Kherson region.

Now, Ukraine is blaming Russia, saying that Russian forces blew up this dam, quote, in a panic. The Kremlin, in their words, quote, strongly rejects that accusation, says this is deliberate sabotage from Ukraine. But you see the result of whatever happened here. New video shows fast flowing waters in the Dnipro River as the rising water levels have already forced more than 800 people from their homes and settlements downstream are flooding.

MATTINGLY: People in the dangerous zone are being warned to, quote, do everything you can to save your life. The destruction sparking fears of large-scale devastation and an environmental disaster. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy holding an emergency meeting about the crisis with top officials in Kyiv.

CNN's Sam Kiley joins us now live in Kharkiv, Ukraine, with more. And, Sam, what do we know about what actually caused this at this point?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It. We don't know what caused it. There are claims, as you say in the intro there, Phil, and counterclaims as to whether or not it was blown up. There's no evidence that it was blown up. Well, there is evidence for over the last few days, since May the 28th, incremental breaches in the dam, culminating in the road being washed away across the top of that dam. And now we've got this collapse.

Now, the dam is under Russian control, has been for more than a year. The Russians were coming under a lot of pressure and criticism for what was described as artificially increasing the level of the lake behind the dam, actually causing flooding upstream of that dam and dangerous pressure on the dam. And now it seems to have either given way or it was blown up. We will be able to find that out as the evidence emerges.

But downriver, of course, there is a catastrophic humanitarian and ecological disaster unfolding with the authorities in Kherson City now laying on trains to evacuate people from the low lying areas. But I have to say the most dangerously affected areas in terms of flooding will be on the east bank, which is Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory, where certainly up until very recently, the Russians had very substantial artillery and rocket positions that were used to pound the civilian areas just across the river.


HARLOW: There are concerns, and we talked about them in the last hour, real concerns about the impact of flooding on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, specifically on the ability to have that water in the reservoirs there to cool it. But the IAEA, which is sort of the international agency overseeing all things nuclear power, came out to sort of try to calm nerves just now.

KILEY: Yes. The IAEA has echoed the views of the Energoatom, which is the nuclear authority here, which is, everybody stay calm. The cooling system is capable there to last for many months, according to the IAEA and the Ukrainians. And, of course, it can be replenished from the river. The river is still flowing. And this is because the reactors have all been shut down, bar one, which is in a warm shutdown and therefore not in any danger necessarily of any kind of meltdown.

There are other maintenance issues that over the much longer term will be affected by access to water. But there is no question that, in the view of experts, there is no danger whatsoever being posed to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station.

That -- excuse us. That, if you can hear it, is the air raid alarm here in Kharkiv, because, of course, the war goes on notwithstanding this catastrophe in the south.

HARLOW: A reminder that that is daily life for all of the people living there. Sam Kiley, I appreciate the reporting, as always.

MATTINGLY: Now to a CNN exclusive. Sources say a flood at Mar-a-Lago is raising suspicions in the special counsel's probe of the former president and his handling of top secret documents. We're told a maintenance worker flooded a room where surveillance video was stored while he was draining the club's pool back in October. It happened roughly two months after the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a- Lago and found hundreds of classified records.

Now, CNN sources say it's unclear if the flooding was intentional or by mistake, but it was the same maintenance worker who was spotted on security footage moving boxes before that FBI search.

HARLOW: So, surveillance video obviously has been a key part of evidence for investigators when it comes to the possibility of obstruct. One of the big questions in this case is whether Trump and his staff tried to hide documents from federal agents who were trying to retrieve them.

Let's bring in CNN Senior Legal Analyst, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Elie Honig. Good morning.

HONIG: Good morning. Good to see you guys. Welcome. Thank you.

HARLOW: You can't make this stuff up a pool drained the key room, but we shouldn't jump to conclusions here. What are your questions this morning?

HONIG: Yes. I think if I was prosecuting this case, I'd certainly be interested, right? The timing is remarkable. This is after there was a subpoena, after there was a search warrant. And now what happens? The room with the servers floods. But you're not going to get anywhere as a prosecutor with this. It's not going to be usable unless you can prove that there was some intentionality behind this.

And so I would start with just basic commonsense questions, which is starting with why was the pool drained at this point? Is this the regular annual maintenance or was this out of nowhere? Who gave the instruction to drain the pool? And then what I would look for is direct evidence. And prosecutors are doing this. The reporting is that prosecutors have the phones, the cell phones from some of the key players, which you can get, you want to look, is there some order given there? Is there some text or email? So, it's interesting, but prosecutors have some work to do if they want to make it usable.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask -- when I read the story, kind of to Poppy's point, I didn't know what it meant necessarily, but what I was struck by most is what you just talked about. The fact that they had gotten phones, that they had talked to the people, the scale, I think, and scope of this investigation, which we don't probably know one-tenth of at this point. It seems extraordinarily thorough.

HONIG: I've had the exact same reaction. Even based on what we know, they have run every lead to the ground, as you would ideally in any criminal case. But the reality is you're not going, you're just not going to have the resources.

This is different. This is the former president. The stakes are high here. They have spoken to everybody based on a reporting, including the maintenance workers, and we can see why that might be important in the phones. Phones are the best possible source of evidence in the modern day world, because everything you do comes through your phone. And you can often -- we would just call it dump the phones. You get all the texts, all the emails, and prosecutors are definitely doing that here.

HARLOW: How significant is it that not only did Trump's lawyers get that meeting at the Justice Department that they wanted yesterday, okay, Merrick Garland didn't go. They wanted the attorney general, but they got Deputy Lisa Monaco, and they got the special counsel, Jack Smith, and it lasted 90 minutes.

HONIG: Very important. So, these meetings are quite common. This is what you would expect to happen towards the very end, logically, of a long-term investigation. I've been through many of these meetings. Defense lawyers come in and they pitch you. They basically say, hey, prosecutors, you have these problems with your case.


Here's why it's a bad idea for you to charge my client.

They don't work often, but sometimes they can be useful for prosecutors. I've been talked out of very borderline cases on a few instances.

HARLOW: By defense counsel?

HONIG: Yes. I mean, these are real shows. I mean, defense lawyers sometimes come in with slide decks and they give you handouts because they're trying to convince you not to indict. The fact that Jack Smith was there is really important to me because that tells me that this is it, that that was the meeting.

Because sometimes as a prosecutor, you make the defense lawyers go through, well, you have to start with the guys on the case. Then you go to the unit chief. Jack Smith is the principal here. And I don't think they're likely to give Trump's lawyers a meeting with the attorney general. That's unheard of to have the actual A.G. And Jack Smith's going to be the one who has the crucial decision here.

MATTINGLY: This is ending soon. I'm trying to get in front of this for our reporters who constantly get asked this by their bosses and have no answers because we don't actually know. So, go ahead and give us the answer, the specific timeline.

HONIG: I'm asking that exact question phrased with the exact same tone that you did of all our reporters, too, like this is ending soon, question mark, question mark, question mark.


HONIG: But based on my experience, yes, it has to be ending soon. I'm not going to commit to when soon is, but these meetings with defense lawyers happen at the very end. They seem to be sort of putting the finishing touches on whoever's going into the grand jury. And they have to watch the calendar. We're almost into primary season. Candidates are declaring every day. So, I do think -- I'll commit to soon, but I won't give you a number of days.

MATTINGLY: That's ambiguous enough, I think, to protect all of us.

HONIG: Trying to hedge.

MATTINGLY: All right, buddy, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Very specific soon. Elie, thanks.

HONIG: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: So, World War II veterans and dignitaries gathering on hallowed ground in France this morning.

Of course, this is the anniversary, the 79th anniversary of D-Day. On this day, in 1944, an unprecedented 160,000 U.S. and Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy to fight the Nazis. It was the start of France's liberation, creating a path to the end of the war.

And our Oren Liebermann joins us again this morning from France. Oren, you are at the American War Cemetery in Normandy. All of the people there gave the ultimate sacrifice and altered the course of history. It must be pretty remarkable to be there.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is. And it's been fascinating and moving to be here over several days, because up until now, the last few days, the ceremonies were all really a celebration of everything that followed D-Day. There were, frankly, some parties, but you could also feel the gratitude that the French have passed down through the generations. Not today. Today is a memorial. Today is a commemoration of D-Day.

Tens of thousands of American troops landed on the beach. Thousands of them, as you can see here behind me, gave their lives. A French and an American flag next to every single one of the graves here. And I'll turn to you to why this is here. This is Omaha Beach here behind me, one of the landing sites on D-Day. Many of the men and women coming to pay their respects for what took place here. And it's hard to imagine the scale of it nearly 80 years later of what happened here.

We heard from General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs. We also heard from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. And he said World War II veterans, he saluted them, he said they saved freedom. We merely have to defend it.

One of the subtexts to all this, some of the speakers mentioned it, including Austin, was that D-Day was in and of itself a massive counteroffensive that liberated Europe. And as they speak about this, we wait for another counteroffensive in Ukraine.

Austin referenced this, making that connection, saying, the world was watching everything that happened on D-Day, and relied on the U.S. and the troops that came in and liberated Europe then. The world is watching again now, calling and, frankly, promising to Ukraine that U.S. assistance will continue again as we wait for the counteroffensive here. It's been part of the conversations, it's been part of the speeches.

Again, though, Poppy bringing it back to why we're here. This is about D-Day and remembering all the troops that gave their lives. And it was as it is now. Again, it was U.S., it was Canadians, it was Brits, and it was more. We see those same sort of alliances and partnerships when it comes to China and when it comes to Ukraine. Poppy?

HARLOW: Yes, and especially in this moment. You're so right. 4,414 allied troops confirmed dead on that day. They gave everything. We appreciate you being there very much, Oren. Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Well, the Republican race for president is about to get even more crowded, with Chris Christie and Mike Pence preparing to jump in. But another big name has decided to stay out.

HARLOW: Also right now, demonstrators in France once again taken to the streets to protest that new retirement law. We will take you live to Paris a little bit later this hour.



MATTINGLY: The 2024 GOP field is expanding again as soon as today. Sources tell CNN that former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie plans to announce his candidacy this afternoon. Meantime, former Vice President Mike Pence filed his paperwork yesterday and is set to officially join the GOP field tomorrow, setting up a showdown with his former boss.

Now, that will bring the number of Republican challengers hoping to dethrone Trump at the top of the party's ticket to at least eight.

Joining us now is Geoff Duncan, Republican and former Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. One of the things, Geoff, that I've been fascinated by is there are elements of this that feel a lot like 2016, where everybody is kind of getting in, everybody thinks they have a lane, and the former president is still 20, 30 points ahead of everybody else. What's your view right now of what a big field means or doesn't mean?

FMR. LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): Yes. Look, as expected, the field is growing, and you've got all these folks showing up, and I'm one of those Republicans that's actually excited about it. I'm excited to see quality candidates show up, not be intimidated by Donald Trump or the history that he's bringing with him. And, certainly, there're some headwinds to the fact that there's multiple candidates that make it easier for Donald Trump's pathway.

But, ultimately, I think he's either going to step on a mud puddle big enough to soil his chances, and it gives one of these quality candidates a chance to shine or he's not, right? And so we've got to make sure that we've got these quality candidates, and certainly there is.


I mean, we can go through the list one by one. They all have significant tailwinds behind them.

HARLOW: What do you make of Chris Christie is going to make his announcement in New Hampshire today? A lot of Republicans and pundits have been saying he's just there for one reason, and that is to try to bulldoze Trump. But I thought Peggy Noonan wrote a really interesting column in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, and here's what she said about him, about Chris Christie, praising him and praising how he governed.

She said he's almost Trump's equal in showbiz and his superior and invective so he can do some damage. He has been told that if he takes down the bad guy, he loses. He goes down in the history books. And if he takes down the bad guy, he wins, even better. Seen this way, he can't lose. What's the Chris Christie role here?

DUNCAN: Yes. Look, he's got one of the most important traits for Republicans, and that's he's a fighter. It's just in him. It's in his DNA, and he takes that prosecutor background and he brings it to the stage. And, yes, he's certainly going to focus his crosshairs on Donald Trump, but he's also got to make sure he highlights the fact he was a conservative governor in a blue state. He was able to win despite those --

HARLOW: 22 points in 2013.

DUNCAN: Say that one more time?

HARLOW: I was just saying by a wide margin in 2013 for him.

DUNCAN: Yes. Look, he certainly has the work in front of him, but, you know, we need these quality candidates to show up, and he's willing to take the fight. And whether or not he closes the gap and becomes the nominee, or whether or not he just does a lot of hard work to make somebody else have a viable chance, it's going to take a village to beat Donald Trump.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask kind of along those lines? One kind of top tier Republican who chose not to get in was New Hampshire Governor Sununu, who announced yesterday to our colleague, Dana Bash, he wasn't going to run. And he said something that I thought was particularly interesting. I want you to listen to it. Take a listen.


SUNUNU: The math has shown Donald Trump has no chance of winning in November of '24. He won't even win Georgia. If Republicans nominate him, then we're saying a vote for him in the in the primary is effectively a vote for Joe Biden.


MATTINGLY: You're from Georgia. You know the state pretty well. I'm not going to ask you to handicap the state 18 months out, but you think the general point that Sununu is making there is a valid one?

DUNCAN: Absolutely. I was disappointed yesterday to hear that he wasn't running because he is a quality governor and would be a quality candidate for president. But, yes, he's exactly right. The math doesn't work. Donald Trump has a math problem, right? The fact that Brian Kemp won by the margin, he won over 50 points over David Perdue, who's essentially Donald Trump's best friend, tells you where Georgians' heads are.

And we're tired of it in Georgia, right? We're proud to have a conservative governor making conservative choices for us. We're tired of the charades. And the reality is that Donald Trump probably shows up with multiple indictments throughout this process. I mean, we might end this summer with Donald Trump having three separate, unique indictments against him and carrying that weight into a general election. It's ridiculous to think we would get to that point as Republicans.

HARLOW: Let's talk about one of those potential indictments in the state of Georgia. The D.A. there, Fani Willis, looking at -- we know a little bit more about what she's looking at. We always knew that sort of RICO charges could be part of this. But the fact that we've learned in the past few days that her team has sought information from two firms that Trump's team hired to look into potential voter fraud claims, and both of those firms said there's no there, there. What does that indicate to you, if anything, about where her investigation is going?

DUNCAN: Yes. Those specific details I'm not privy to, but what I will tell you is she continues to work, and we continue to hear buzz all across the Atlanta landscape for continuing to continue the investigation. But she also, I think, signaled that August is going to be that timeline when it appears those indictments are going to come forward. The country is paying attention to Donald Trump being indicted, but Georgia is paying attention to all of the other folks that are involved in this with these potential RICO charges. I mean, you have a current state party chair who's stepping down that he could be involved and been issued as a target, and others that are in elected office. I mean, this is a big deal in Georgia and I certainly expect to see some significant news being made over the summer.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask real quick before we let you go? The indictment in New York was so easily dismissed, I think, by partisans as being a political witch hunt or whatever you want to do in the framing with a lot of work from the Trump team in advance to trying to lay that groundwork. They seem to be trying to do the same thing down in Georgia. Do you think that this is a different case in terms of the substance, the scale, and what it may turn out to be?

DUNCAN: Yes, I think the New York case versus the Fulton County case are apples and oranges, right? I mean, there's just so much significant --

MATTINGLY: Perception-wise, do you think?

DUNCAN: Yes. I think when you watch the evidence come out around the phone call to Brad Raffensperger, when you watch the evidence come out around all of the conspiracy theories that were just intentionally pushed out into the landscape, knowing that they were false, and then looking at this faux electorate slate that showed up with a very intentional plot, that's some pretty heavy stuff.

MATTINGLY: Yes. They're very different, certainly on the substance, but also politics. Geoff Duncan, thanks so much.

DUNCAN: Yes, absolutely. Thank you.

HARLOW: Thank you, Geoff.

Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is threatening to hold a contempt vote in the whole House against the FBI director, Christopher Wray. He claimed that the bureau has a document with unverified accusations that President Biden is somehow involved in a bribery scheme when he was vice president.


Officials showed that document to the top Republican and Democrat on the Oversight Committee this week. McCarthy, though, basically told our Manu Raju, that's not enough.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He doesn't allow every member in the committee to see the documents. They have -- we have jurisdiction. They have the right to see it. You're not going to pick one or two people, we'll contempt.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you're moving -- you bring it to the floor?


RAJU: How quickly will you do that?

MCCARTHY: I'll -- they'll mark it up in committee and then we'll bring it to the floor.


HARLOW: Sara Murray is live in Washington. This has been your reporting. You've followed it all along. This document, an FD 1023, I think it's called. But it matters, right? And there are reasons why the FBI doesn't just show it to everyone.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. I mean, the FBI has basically told this committee and Jamie Raskin -- or, sorry, James Comer, that, look, this is essentially raw intelligence. This document memorializes an interview we did with a confidential source. We don't just want that out there. It's also uncorroborated information.

I mean, one of the striking things coming out of this briefing yesterday was that Comer was saying, this is still part of an ongoing investigation, whereas Jamie Raskin was saying, look, my understanding is that these allegations, which surfaced when Bill Barr was attorney general under the Trump administration, were looked at by prosecutors, by the FBI. They could not corroborate them and they moved on, whereas Comer came away from this believing that there are still portions of this that could be part of the ongoing criminal investigation surrounding Hunter Biden.

So, from the FBI's perspective, there are a lot of reasons why you wouldn't just want to take this document, which has these unverified allegations, and send a bunch of hard copies of it all over Congress.

HARLOW: What would a contempt vote by the full House actually mean for Christopher Wray and when could it happen?

MURRAY: Well, look, no FBI director wants to be held in contempt of Congress. It's an uncomfortable place to be. I mean, practically, this is sort of a slap on the wrist. The FBI feels like moving forward with this is unwarranted. They feel like they've made these accommodations. And Jamie Raskin has made it clear he's going to try to do everything in his power to stop Republicans from moving ahead on this. Take a listen to what he said.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I'm just surprised that my colleagues want to try to litigate this in public, much less hold the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in contempt for complying with their request when there was a whole process.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTINGLY: Now, Comer says he's going to get the ball rolling on contempt on Thursday, and it's still TBD when we could see a full House vote. Poppy?

HARLOW: Sara Murray, thank you for your reporting on this.

MATTINGLY: All right. New overnight China blasting the United States for what it calls, quote, blatant, military provocation by the U.S., after several close encounters in the South China Sea. How should the US. Respond?

HARLOW: Also, demonstrators in France once again taking to the streets to protest that new now law raising the retirement age. We will take you there, next.