Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Mass Grave Discovered, While Bodies Litter The Street In Bucha; Ukrainian President Zelenskyy Makes Special Grammy Surprise Appearance; South Carolina Defeats UConn To Win NCAA Women's Basketball Title. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 04, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking images of atrocities emerging from Ukraine as Russian forces retreat from civilian areas. We're seeing what is left behind when the Russians leave. We want to warn you this story contains disturbing video.

In the town of Bucha, just northwest of Kyiv, the lifeless bodies of at least 20 civilian men line one street, and a mass grave is piled with body bags, some only partially covered. So many civilians killed with the Russians occupied this town. Residents told CNN -- told our team there that more corpses were already buried at this site.

CNN's Nada Bashir joins us live from London. You know, Russia has dismissed the photos of the dead as fake. Our team -- our Fred Pleitgen and his team have seen all of this firsthand for himself. The U.S. Secretary of State calls these images a punch to the gut.

Let's talk about the reality. What's the reality there on the ground?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, Christine, Russia has continuously pushed this narrative throughout its invasion of Ukraine, stating that the allegations put against it -- that the evidence put forward by the Ukrainian government is fake. That this is part of a concerted media campaign. That's what it said in this instance.

But, of course, that stands in contrast to what we've seen -- to what we've heard from the Ukrainian government and other independent organizations. And as you mentioned, of course, as our own CNN team on the ground has seen the evidence of what the Ukrainian government has continuously warned of -- those war crimes committed by the Russian Armed Forces.

President Zelenskyy himself speaking over the weekend saying that Russia's actions amount to an act of genocide. And it is those horrific images that we've seen coming out of Bucha that have really rallied European leaders -- NATO allies -- calling for more action to be taken, condemning the horrific act of the Russian Armed Forces not only in Bucha but across Ukraine. And we've heard over the last two and three days -- we've heard from European leaders not only calling for sanctions to be tightened, for tougher economic action to be taken against Russia. This morning, we heard from France's Emmanuel Macron calling for tougher economic sanctions.

And, of course, we are now hearing that there are calls for an international criminal court investigation into these allegations of war crimes.

ROMANS: It's just awful. It's just awful.

Nada Bashir in London. Thank you.

So much for that.

CNN political analyst Josh Rogin joins us now. He is a columnist at The Washington Post.

I just want to begin with these emerging images over the weekend -- an utter nightmare. And from the point of view of the Russian military, what is the strategic -- what is the point of all of that in Bucha? I mean, what does this say about the Russian military and the strategy here?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST (via Webex by Cisco): This is the way that the Russian military wages war. This is their tactic. They are trying to terrorize the people of Ukraine in order to force them to submit or die. To put them a choice -- to a choice between accepting the rule -- the cruel rule of Vladimir Putin or to suffer the consequences.


And Bucha now joins a very, very long list of places where atrocities have been committed, including Grozny, and Aleppo, and Holmes (ph), and Dara, and other places where the Russian military has intentionally and cruelly tortured and killed civilians.

And that's the goal, Christine. The goal is to scare the people of Ukraine into not fighting back. Unfortunately for Putin, that's not working. They are fighting back and they'll continue to fight back.

And also unfortunately for Putin, there's no statute of limitations on these war crimes. And while we don't know who pulled the trigger we do know who gave the order, and that's Putin himself. And there will be no refuge. There will be no time or space where people like Putin and the people who have committed these atrocities will be able to rest easy because war crimes can be prosecuted forever.

ROMANS: You've got an op-ed saying Ukraine needs better air defense systems, not more excuses. What do they need, who has it, and what's the holdup?

ROGIN: Right. Well, Ukrainians on the ground tell me they need everything. And while they have many air defenses they don't have enough of the best ones -- the S-300s -- the Russian ones that they know how to use that are sitting in three NATO countries. Three NATO countries are sitting on S-300 air defense systems that are just gathering dust in warehouses, according to President Zelenskyy. And why is that?

And what I found, at least in one of those examples -- in the example of Slovakia -- it's a bureaucratic mess. And the Slovakians blame the Biden administration and the Biden administration blames the Slovakians. And the Pentagon blames the White House and the White House blames the Pentagon. And none of that matters to the Ukrainians who are getting killed on the ground.

And without these air defense systems, more Ukrainians are getting killed. And that's the Russians' fault, not the American's fault.

But there's something that we can do about it. So what I simply called for in my column is for both the Slovakians, and the Pentagon, and the White House to get their act together --


ROGIN: -- and to work it out, and to get these systems to the Ukrainian forces now.

ROMANS: You make the point that Russian missiles are raining down on hospitals, and schools, and apartment buildings. I mean, this is laying siege. The Russians are laying siege to civilian infrastructure here.

And the Russians, I guess, say -- they claim they're going to declare victory -- what -- they want to around May 9. What's the significance of that date? What's that about?

ROGIN: Well, the only significance of that date, in my view, is that it's a revision of the previous date, which was February. So they're all -- that's an acknowledgment that the original plan, which was to subdue the entire country in a matter of days after attacking in late February is now pushed back to May. The goal of the Ukrainians, of course, is to keep pushing it back and that's what we have to help them do.

So, they're admitting that they're at least 2 1/2 months behind, all right, but that's not the end. So hopefully, they'll never achieve that goal and hopefully, May 9 will just become another position from which Putin backtracks at a future date.

ROMANS: All right. Josh Rogin, CNN political analyst. A great piece in The Washington Post. Thank you so much.

ROGIN: Thank you.

ROMANS: Up next, the sobering moment when Ukraine's president spoke at the Grammy Awards. And, Tiger Woods keeps everyone guessing with his game-time decision.


ROMANS: The music stopped and the mood turned somber for a few moments at last night's Grammy Awards with a surprise appearance by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedoes. They sing to their wounded in hospitals -- even to those who can't hear them but the music will break through anyway. We defend our freedom to live, to laugh, to sound.

On our land, we are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today to tell our story.


ROMANS: To live, to love, to sound.

CNN's Chloe Melas joins me now. Chloe, this led to a special performance by some artists you might recognize and maybe some you might not.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes. Well, so this was the moment that everybody was waiting for at the Oscars but Zelenskyy surprised us all with this pre-taped message at the Grammys. Following this was a beautiful tribute by John Legend and several Ukrainian artists -- even a poet. Take a look.





MELAS: So, they had images from the war playing behind them on screens, and when they cut, panning to the audience, there was not a dry eye --


MELAS: -- in the entire stadium.

ROMANS: Moving.

Who were some of the night's big winners?

MELAS: OK. Well, Jon Batiste -- he won. And his song "Freedom" -- if you haven't heard it you should go listen to it. So, so good. That was for Album of the Year. Silk Sonic -- they actually opened the show, and they won Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Leave the Door Open." And they were dancing, you see, when they were announced as winners, bringing the '70s back. I just love it. I need to get my husband in one of those tuxes, right?

And then Olivia Rodrigo -- we knew that she was going to win big. She has a huge, huge year last year with "Drivers License." And she walked away with Best New Artist.

There were so many others. I mean, obviously, the Foo Fighters -- they won three awards.


MELAS: They weren't there to accept them --


MELAS: -- because of their drummer, Taylor Hawkins passing away recently. There was a tribute -- a small one in the beginning of the in memoriam segment.

But it was a good night.


MELAS: A lot less drama than last weekend's Oscars --


MELAS: -- which I welcomed --

ROMANS: Yes -- drama, no; celebrating --

MELAS: -- of great performances.

ROMANS: Thank you -- all right. Chloe Melas, so nice to --

MELAS: Thank you.

ROMANS: -- see you.

All right. South Carolina celebrating a second national championship after a dominant performance in the women's title game.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. He's live from New Orleans. Hey, Andy.



You know, the Gamecocks have been favorites all year long, but they were facing a UConn team that was 11-0 in the championship game under head coach Geno Auriemma. But South Carolina just came out on a mission in this title game. They jumped on UConn from the start, outrebounding the Huskies 49-24. Player of the Year Aliyah Boston grabbing 16 of those rebounds and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

Gamecocks would win 64-49, capping off a dominant season. Head coach Dawn Staley captures the school's second national title as her team avenges the painful upset in last year's Final Four to Stanford.


ALIYAH BOSTON, FINAL FOUR'S MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER: Honestly, I've been thinking about this since last season because everyone had a picture of me crying at that Final Four and they put it everywhere. So that was -- that was -- but today, we're national champions and I'm in tears -- happy tears. So if you guys want a smile, here you go -- and we're national champions.


SCHOLES: Happy tears.

Gamecock fans also celebrated the title by jumping in the fountain back on campus in Columbia. They're the eighth team to win multiple women's titles.

All right, back here in New Orleans, meanwhile, North Carolina and Kansas are going to meet for the men's title later tonight. The eighth-seeded Tar Heels coming off the incredible high of beating their archrival Duke and ending Coach K's career on Saturday night. Now they're going to face a Kansas team who dominated Villanova and is looking for their first title since 2008.

And I spoke with both head coaches yesterday and asked them what they're going to tell their players before the biggest game of their lives.


BILL SELF, KANSAS HEAD COACH: It's a huge game but, you know, let's just pretend it's shirts and skins and go play ball, you know. Because a team that can play like that will be the team that has the most success, probably.

HUBERT DAVIS, NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH: Our goal this year was to be the last team standing, being able to cut down the nets and say in 2022 we're the national champions. And so, we're focused on our preparation and our practice and hopefully, that we can play our best game against a really good Kansas Jayhawks team.


SCHOLES: All right, and you can watch the title game tonight just after 9:00 eastern on our sister network TBS.

All right. And finally, things are trending towards Tiger Woods playing in the Masters this week. Tiger practicing at Augusta National yesterday and hopes that he's going to be able to play in the Masters starting on Thursday. Woods has been rehabbing from the serious leg injuries he suffered in a car crash 14 months ago.

Earlier in the day, Woods had tweeted that playing in the tournament was going to be a "game-time decision." He hasn't played in a big tournament since the Masters back in November of 2020.

And, you know, Christine, this is always one of the best sports weeks of the year.


SCHOLES: The NCAA tournaments both wrapping up. We're going right into the Masters. And boy, if Tiger plays, this is going to be a special week.

ROMANS: Yes, really -- OK. So, nice to see you. Thanks, Andy.

All right, 47 minutes past the hour. Up next, Russian aggression, biting inflation, rising interest rates. It was the worst quarter for stocks in two years. We'll look at where the market goes from here.

Plus, the mayor of Bucha, Ukraine speaks to "NEW DAY" about the alleged atrocities committed there.



ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

Looking at markets around the world to start the trading week, you can see Asian shares have closed higher. Europe has opened a little bit higher. And stock index futures are just barely leaning up on Wall Street.

U.S. stocks rose slightly on Friday, recovering from the worst first quarter in two years following a strong jobs report. The U.S. economy added 431,000 jobs back in March and the unemployment rate fell to 3.6%. That marks a new pandemic low.

Wages also jumped up 5.6% from a year ago. That's great for workers but also, it's an inflation signal -- something the Federal Reserve is watching closely. The Fed has already started raising interest rates to try to cool the economy and tamp down inflation. The challenge is to do so without sparking a recession -- something that has weighed on stocks.

During the first three months of this year, the major indices posted their largest quarterly decline since the pandemic crash back in 2020. March was a little better but Russia's war in Ukraine and big swings in oil prices and Treasury bonds hint at more rocky patches ahead.

So let's talk about that. Let's bring in Spencer Jacob, editor of the "Heard on the Street" column in The Wall Street Journal, and author of "The Revolution That Wasn't: GameStop, Reddit, and the Fleecing of Small Investors."

So, Spencer, the worst quarter for stocks in two years, biting inflation, Russia's invasion, interest rates rising. Is it going to be rocky, you think -- a rocky summer?

SPENCER JACOB, EDITOR, "HEARD ON THE STREET," THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, AUTHOR, "THE REVOLUTION THAT WASN'T: GAMESTOP, REDDIT, AND THE FLEECING OF SMALL INVESTORS" (via Webex by Cisco): I think all signs point to it being a rocky summer. I mean, people don't know what direction to point in. There's -- there is some good news but there are plenty of things to worry about, as always.


JACOB: But there are a lot of cross-currents.

ROMANS: Yes. Investors had a really -- just a stellar couple of years and now there's just so much to contend with. And the White House, it seems, just can't catch a break on the economy. Almost 1.7 million jobs created so far this year. That's really good. Wages are rising.


ROMANS: There is this historic push to try to put a lid on gas prices. The White House releasing all this emergency oil for the next 180 days. All these things they're doing to try to tell the American people we feel your pain and we've got a plan. But the polls just keep showing people feel -- people don't feel good about what's happening in the economy right now.


JACOB: Yes -- no. Well, the -- if you look at Joe Biden's record on face value -- jobs created -- you know, he's the champ of all presidents on a kind of a time-adjusted basis. The problem with doing things to the oil market, the problem with this great growth in jobs is that people are feeling it in terms of the prices that they pay for everyday things.

For example, the rate of unemployment right now is 3.6%, which is a very low rate. That's almost the lowest it's ever been. We're right back almost to the level we were pre-pandemic -- 3.5%, which is almost an unprecedented level -- typically, the level at which we've seen prices increase.

And now we are. We're seeing real wage pressures that are feeding through to the economy. And we're seeing the sort of wage pressures that really become problematic, or have in the past, where wage demands become sticky. Where people say listen, I'm in a very strong negotiating position. I need to go out there and ask for wage increases. And then the price of your Starbucks go up, and the price of your McDonald's goes up, the price of your delivery goes up.

ROMANS: Right.

JACOB: There's tightness in the labor market. So that's -- that is all feeding through to what we feel every day.

And then, gasoline prices, of course. The SPR release -- you know, maybe not a hand very well played because that is an emergency reserve that was set up in the 1970s. At its peak, it was over 600 million barrels. It's there for times of war. Now, this is a time of war --

ROMANS: Right.

JACOB: -- of course, but the U.S. is not cut off, technically, from imports of oil. And so, it's really being used as a -- kind of a price control mechanism.

And the way that it was released was the most aggressive release ever -- a million barrels a day for the next 180 days. It's a bit like, you know, playing your ace card but showing it to everybody in the room. So now, everybody knows the U.S. is doing this.

The oil market reacted very strongly, initially, but it might not keep reacting. For example, OPEC+, which had a meeting just hours later, said well, I guess we're going to stick to our schedule of very gradual increases in output from the emergency cuts we made following the pandemic.

So, they are basically not helping us out at all, and we've played our card. And then once this is released in 180 days, then we have really very little additional dry powder to affect the market if we face something then.

I guess, fortunately, or unfortunately, there's a lockdown in the third-largest city on Earth, in Shanghai.

ROMANS: Right.

JACOB: And so, that's affecting (audio gap) within the oil market. But that's -- you know, that's not a good thing either.

ROMANS: Well, one hopes that at least it puts this SPR release and allies doing similar moves -- would at least put a lid on oil prices. Because you're right -- that flashing gas price sign that you see from -- you know, at your corner every day is something that's weighing on sentiment.

Quickly, can the Fed walk this fine line of raising interest rates aggressively but avoid tipping the U.S. economy into a recession?

JACOB: They can but it's going to be difficult to do it without inflicting pain. You already have mortgage rates now at multi-year highs and so you have -- refinance applications have collapsed.

They might put the one kind of price that people are happy about -- or at least some people are happy about -- which is home prices. They might put a lid on that at the very least by trying to thread this needle by continuing to raise rates because we can see from the language that they are alarmed at the price pressures that we're seeing.


JACOB: And so, yes -- we might just have a slowdown as opposed to a recession, one hopes. But it's going to feed through to all kinds of things that people take for granted because people live on credit in this country for better or worse.

ROMANS: That's right. And the thing that's going to try to fix high inflation has a cost of its own for consumers, which is higher borrowing costs on just about everything.

Spencer Jacob, editor of the "Heard on the Street" column in The Wall Street Journal. Really nice to see you this morning. Thank you.

JACOB: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us this Monday morning. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" picks it up right now.