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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Calls For War Crimes Trial Against Vladimir Putin; Kansas Wins Title With Historic Comeback Over UNC; Day 2 Of Jury Deliberations In Alleged Plot To Kidnap Michigan Governor. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired April 05, 2022 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: A growing number of world leaders are accusing Russian forces of committing war crimes in Ukraine now, and President Biden is even calling for Vladimir Putin to face a war crimes trial.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is a war criminal but we have to get all the detail so this can be actual -- have a war crime trial. This guy is brutal and what's happening in Bucha is outrageous.



JARRETT: CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Brussels for us this morning. Nic, the images out of Bucha seem to really have changed the diplomatic environment, no?


The European parliament president, who was in Kyiv just last week, said it's a war crime. The European Commission president, who is going to Kyiv this week, says it's a war crime. The Bulgarian prime minister, the Austrian prime minister, the Estonian prime minister, Latvian, Lithuanian, the Finnish prime minister as well, all saying that this is a war crime. Indeed, the Polish prime minister is calling it genocide.

Russia has tried to hide behind the fact of this (INAUDIBLE) and do what it always does, which is lie about the situation, dissemble and disseminate -- say that these bodies were found days -- appeared days after their troops left on the 30th of March.

This, of course, is now being contradicted by satellite imagery that placed the bodies on the roads in the same places they were discovered, and seen, and witnessed, and recorded by journalists and others driving into Bucha. Satellite imagery from the 18th of March, when Russian troops were in full control of Bucha, show those bodies lying in the streets in the same positions they were until the past couple of days.

So, Russia's previously useful tactics of lying and dissembling and using barbaric methods of war to kill civilians that have -- that have worked for them in the past are now crumbling under the evidence of new technologies. It's not the first time new technology in war can be used to defeat the opposite side. I'm thinking here of tanks in the First World War, the longbow of Henry VIII's fighters in Agincourt many centuries ago.

Here, it's the satellite technology that could really unravel Putin's defense that he isn't responsible. That's new, that's different.

JARRETT: There's always receipts and those images do not lie.

Nic, thank you for your analysis, as usual.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Joining us now to dig deeper on this is senior writer for CNN Politics, Zachary Wolf. Zach, so nice to see you bright and early this morning.

There's really no precedent for prosecuting a sitting world leader. Could a trial for war crimes actually happen?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: It's -- like you said, there's no precedent for it. So, I've talked to people who said it is possible to bring a trial via the International Criminal Court. They could essential reinterpret the Rome statute, which is the treaty that created that court. Or, they could get creative and create a special tribunal or a special -- you know, a special court, essentially, through the U.N., although that's complicated by the fact that Russia holds so much power on the U.N. Security Council.

So this is really testing the international system of justice that's built up over the last generation or so because there's just no allowance for it in the existing law.

JARRETT: Zach, you've been -- you've been writing in some great pieces for about sort of this tension between justice versus peace. And in a situation like this, obviously, how do you possibly negotiate with someone when the entire world is essentially calling him a war criminal?

WOLF: Yes, and that seems to be the great dilemma here. Because we had reports about Ukrainian negotiators saying they were getting close to, potentially, a meeting between Zelenskyy and Putin over the weekend, and then all of these horrible images came through from Bucha. And Zelenskyy was quoted as saying how can we negotiate with someone who is doing this to my people?

So, you know, they will have to find a way to do it because Vladimir Putin seems to be so strongly unmeshed in Russia. It's not as if he's just going to be gone one day. So they will have to figure out how to negotiate with him. ROMANS: Yes. The Ukrainian President Zelenskyy -- he went to Bucha, right, and he toured those scenes there. And, you know, how do you sit down across a table and try to wage for peace with someone who has been just such a brutal, brutal actor? I mean, there's -- you've got to have trust to have a deal. How do you trust Vladimir Putin?

WOLF: This will be the -- I think the issue with dealing with him on -- in anything. I mean, there was -- there was so much lying and subterfuge that led up to the invasion of Ukraine, so it will be difficult to trust anything the Russians say at all, I think, heading forward. But they will have to find a way to either force concessions or moderation, or some sort of oversight in order to come to an agreement.

JARRETT: All right, Zach Wolf, senior politics writer for CNN. Thank you so much -- appreciate it.

WOLF: Thanks.

ROMANS: All right, still to come, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's date with history.


JARRETT: And the Kansas Jayhawks making some history of their own with a thrilling comeback.


JARRETT: All right. The Kansas Jayhawks win the national championship after the biggest comeback in title game history.

Andy Scholes was at the game in New Orleans and has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hi, Andy.


What a game. The Final Four coming to an end with yet another just amazing emotional game full of runs. And for the fourth time in their history, the Kansas Jayhawks are national champions. But it certainly wasn't easy.

North Carolina just catching fire in that first half. Brady Manek making three three's. The Tar Heels went on a 16-0 run. They led by 15 points at halftime.


But Kansas just came storming back in the second half thanks to a 31- 10 run. Then in the final seconds, down one, under 90 seconds to go, the Jayhawks' big man David McCormack coming up huge. He hit back-to- back buckets to give Kansas a 3-point lead. The Tar Heels did have one last chance to tie this game but the 3-pointer would be no good.

Kansas wins 72-69 completing the largest comeback in championship game history. Head coach Bill Self gets his second title at Kansas, the first for

the school since 2008. And I caught up with him during the celebration on the floor.


SCHOLES: Coach, how amazing is this moment?

BILL SELF, KANSAS HEAD COACH: It's great for us. We played a terrific team. They played their butts off the first half. We had no answer. Somehow, the switch flipped the second half and our guys were unbelievable.

SCHOLES: How happy are you for them to come with that kind of a comeback?

SELF: You know, it's -- it would be unbelievable to win at all -- but to win in that way, that'll be one that not too many people forget very soon.



Fans storm the court in Allen Fieldhouse after the Jayhawks win the title.


SCHOLES: Yes, those are the fans back at the watch party at Allen Fieldhouse after the win. It was just a rollercoaster of a night for those fans. Being down so much in the first half and then coming all the way back to win -- it certainly made it much, much sweeter.

All right. Meanwhile, in Augusta, things continue to trend towards Tiger Woods playing in the Masters. He was back on the practice range yesterday. He played nine holes with Justin Thomas and Fred Couples. Fans giving Tiger just huge ovations as he made his way around the course. Couples saying afterwards, Tiger looked phenomenal in that practice round.

Guys, it's going to be some bad weather in Augusta today, so not much practice going to be taking place out there on the course.

But Tiger is expected to speak with the media at 11:00 a.m. eastern so maybe he's going to come out, guys, and just say hey, I'm playing. We'll have to wait and see.

JARRETT: All right. We know you're staying on top of it. Thank you.

ROMANS: Thanks, Andy.

All right, together again at the White House. Former President Barack Obama returns today for the first time since he left office. He'll join his former vice president, now President Joe Biden, to tout the success of something called the Affordable Care Act, which Obama signed into law in 2010.

Press secretary Jen Psaki says Obama and Biden will have lunch together, just as they did every week when Obama was president.

JARRETT: In just a few hours from now a federal jury in Michigan returns for a second full day of deliberations in the trial of four men accused of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Let's bring in Julius Kim, criminal defense attorney and former assistant D.A. in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Julius, so nice to see you again.

No verdict yet but the jurors did have a question -- this one about the legal definition of weapon. What does that signal to you?

JULIUS KIM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY, FORMER ASSISTANT D.A. IN MILWAUKEE COUNTY, WISCONSIN (via Skype): No. That signals to me that there are some jurors that might be hung up with whether a weapon -- whether a device, namely, the explosive devices, can be classified as a weapon of mass destruction.

I think that some of the jurors are looking at the words of the jury instructions on a technical level. And some of the jurors might feel like listen, I have these weapons. I possess these firearms. And to me, they're recreational. They're not weapons per se.

And so, I think some of the jurors are looking for some clarification to say hey, listen, does this instrument constitute a weapon under the law?

JARRETT: Yes. Those questions, always sort of a peek behind the curtain into what is going on in those deliberations.

You know, for folks who might not be following all of this at home, there are four defendants on trial. Do you think all four guys face the same potential verdict or could there be some splits here?

KIM: Yes. Four of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to kidnap. So, four of them are charged with the same thing. And then, you have three of them that are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. And then you have some other various weapons and explosives charges for some of the other defendants.

You know, my gut feeling is that jurors are either going to believe that it was conspiracy to kidnap Gov. Whitmer or they're not. And so I think that there's a good chance that all four will get convicted of the conspiracy to kidnap or they won't because they won't believe that these people really intended on doing it.

So, I think there's a good chance that the jurors are going to be unanimous in terms of the conspiracy to kidnap. With regard to some of the other charges, that's going to depend on the individual facts of the case and the evidence that was presented.

JARRETT: So, the essential argument from the defendants is the government set them up. I wonder, in your experience -- you know, you've been -- you've been doing these cases for a long time. How often do entrapment defenses work?

KIM: In all honesty, Laura, not too often.


KIM: And part of the reason why entrapment defenses are so hard to establish is because one of the things that a defendant has to establish in an entrapment defense is that they were not predisposed to commit the crime that they're alleged to have committed but for the government intervening at that time. The problem with that defense is that the government usually doesn't find themselves in places or around people unless they think that people are predisposed to commit these types of crimes.


So in this type of situation, it might be hard for them to establish an entrapment defense because the government was alerted to these people talking about this plot. It wasn't a situation where the government necessarily brought it up themselves. These people brought it up and triggered government intervention.

JARRETT: A great distinction there.

All right. Julius Kim, always great to have you on EARLY START. Thank you, sir.

ROMANS: All right, history in the making in the highest court in the land. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is expected to be confirmed this week as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court.

A bipartisan group of senators voted Monday to advance her nomination. Every Democrat and three Republicans -- Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- have said they will back her. The vast majority of Senate Republicans plan to oppose Judge Jackson.

JARRETT: And the Murkowski vote perhaps the most interesting and most risky there, of course, because she is up for reelection this year.

ROMANS: That's right.

JARRETT: All right. Ukraine's deputy prime minister with a message for Russian troops. She talks to "NEW DAY." That's just ahead.

ROMANS: And next, flash flooding and water rescues. The danger is not over yet in Texas.



JARRETT: Overnight, four people were rescued from their cars in McKinney, Texas. Flash flooding swept their vehicles away as another round of storms rolled through north Texas. Officials say everyone is fine and no injuries were reported, thankfully. Meteorologist Gene Norman joins us now. So, Gene, should folks brace for more severe weather on the way?

GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, Laura. Not in Texas, but in Louisiana and Mississippi, it's a rough start to the day. Window- rattling thunder and vivid lightning is how folks are waking up there. Tornado watch until 11:00.

Right now, a couple of storms are packing a punch just east of Monroe. There's the severe thunderstorm warning. A couple of others -- one near Starkville and one just south of Jackson.

But also, vivid lightning. That's what the folks in Texas had last night. That continues. Over 500 strikes in the past 15 minutes.

And it'll be a 2-day threat across the south. The storms from Texas will move into sections of Alabama and Georgia today and pretty much stay there as we head into Wednesday. So it's going to be a rough couple of days across much of the southeast.

We'll time it out for you. These storms moving into Alabama by 11:00- 12:00 central time. Then they'll head into Georgia just after lunchtime. And they will continue on up the east coast. So it's going to be a mess -- again, with that threat for tornadoes along with large hail.

JARRETT: All right, Gene. Thank you.

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

Looking at markets around the world, Asian shares have closed higher. Europe has opened lower. And on Wall Street, stock index futures are wobbling here.

Oil prices are gaining again as momentum grows for even more sanctions against Russia for Putin's brutality against civilians in Ukraine.

On Monday, a modest Wall Street rebound led by technology stocks. The Dow and the S&P 500 up less than 1% each, but the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.9%.

Stock investors shaking off concerns about something that happened over in the bond market. Last week, the Treasury yield curve briefly inverted -- an inverted yield curve. It sounds wonky but it's something that happens often before a recession. It's when short-term bonds actually pay more interest than long-term bonds.

Twitter soared more than 26% on news Elon Musk bought a 9.2% passive stake worth $3 billion. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, also higher. Starbucks, though, fell nearly 4% after returning CEO Howard Schultz said Starbucks would suspend its share buyback program.

JARRETT: A luxury mega-yacht owned by a Russian oligarch seized in Spain at the request of the U.S. government. The Justice Department says the billionaire owner of the 255-foot vessel has close ties to Vladimir Putin. It is the first seizure by a U.S. task force, newly formed in response to Russia's war in Ukraine, cracking down on sanctions violators.

Attorney General Merrick Garland says Monday's seizure will not be the last.

ROMANS: Yes. They're looking for property, they are looking for bank accounts, they are looking for cars, they're looking for yachts. And so much of it is tied up in companies that own companies that own companies, and trusts, and offshore accounts. And all of these governments have been working together to try to untangle all of that and find the -- find this stuff. So --

JARRETT: Yes, and hold them accountable.

ROMANS: -- more coming.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.