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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

EU Preparing Sanctions Against Putin's Daughters; In Interview With Historians, Trump Admits To Losing Election; Fauci: "I Believe We Are Out Of The Woods" With Omicron. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 06, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Today, the European Union plans to hit Vladimir Putin's daughters with sanctions. Thirty-five-year-old Katerina Tikhonova and 36-year-old Maria Vorontsova are on the EU's latest draft list of targets. Now, little is known about the personal lives of these two women.

The Biden administration also expected to announce new sanctions against Russia.

Nic Robertson has the latest from NATO headquarters. And Nic, what do we know about Putin's daughters, and what kinds of sanctions could they be facing?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, we're still waiting to get more details from the European Union of precisely what they intend for Putin's daughters. It feels as if this is more symbolic. That this is a message directly to President Putin but perhaps one that's not going to affect his calculus.

We know that the European Union is cracking down on a number of Russian oligarchs. We know that they are targeting Russia's coal sector. We know that they are targeting high-tech exports to Russia in these latest rounds of sanctions. That they're targeting European Union ports, which are expected to ban Russian and Russian-operated vessels.

So, this part of a new sanctions package would be, in essence, more of a personal message to President Putin than, for example, stopping buying Russian coal, which is -- which is worth $4.3 billion a year to Russia.

The European Union says it's also considering whether or not to cut oil purchases from Russia, which would have a much more significant economic impact on Russia. If you look at all the energy supplies coming from Russia to the European Union since the beginning of the war, the sum total is over $21 billion, so far, in just over 40 days. So that $4.3 billion for coal is a relatively small figure.

Now, the European Union is working on this round of sanctions today. They could be signed off on today. This would become officially the fifth round. It may take a few more days for the details to be worked out on precisely what. And then I expect we would get more information on Putin's daughters, who do have residences here within the European Union.

ROMANS: Yes. And important to note, all of that business -- you know, Europe essentially runs on the energy that comes from Russia. Russia uses that money then to wage war on Ukraine, right? They're trying to break that link. It will be painful. It will take some time.

Nic Roberson, thank you so much for that.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: So, even as former President Trump has continued to push the big lie, in reality, he knows he did not win the 2020 election. Speaking to a group of historians last summer, the former president admitted more than once to losing the race to Joe Biden.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By not winning the election. But when I didn't win the election and when the election was rigged and lost.


JARRETT: Let's bring in one of those historians, CNN's Julian Zelizer. He is the editor of the book, "The Presidency of Donald J. Trump: A First Historical Assessment." Julian, so nice to have you.

I'm very interested in how all of this came about, and I can imagine it was a doozy of a call -- a Zoom call. But I -- the part that we really want to hone in on with you first is that he claims it was rigged. He claims January 6 was infiltrated by Antifa and left-wing activists -- it wasn't. But then he admits that he lost.

How do we square all of this?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR, "THE PRESIDENCY OF DONALD J. TRUMP: A FIRST HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT (via Webex by Cisco): Well, he used that several times during the conversation. Sometimes he coupled the fact he lost the election with his standard rhetoric of it being rigged. A couple of times he did not.

I don't know how you square it but there seemed, at least in the free flow of the conversation, to be some recognition in those words or some admission of what actually happened.

JARRETT: Well, he has to know that he lost because otherwise, he wouldn't have called up the secretary of state in Georgia --


ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: -- to try to get more votes. I mean, he knows that he lost. He's just saying if -- I should have won if everything had been on the up and up.

ZELIZER: Right, but that's very different than the argument you hear in public and the argument that's been the basis of the campaign against the election that continues until this day. So I think that's why people are picking up on these remarks when they hear them.

ROMANS: I think it's interesting -- just a lot about the psychology of Donald Trump. That he is trying to rewrite history. He goes on to tell you that nobody's been tougher on Russia than me. So many of these moments during this call with historians where he's trying to tell you no, no, no -- write this in your book. Write this down about me -- really, rewriting history.

ZELIZER: No. It's part of the brand in some ways. I mean, this is a person before and after the presidency concerned with shaping the way that we see him and understand him. And that's what he was doing. He had read about this project. His people reached out to us and he wanted to give us his side of the story.

But that's what a lot of the meeting was about -- him trying to persuade us which, obviously, isn't how we write our history. But that was his mentality about this, as it's been with almost everything else.

JARRETT: Yes. So his goal, of course, was to shape the narrative, as he usually thinks, that his persuasive powers would be helpful.

What were, sort of, your takeaways? Did you -- did you learn anything new that was sort of surprising to you?

ZELIZER: Well, this, when it actually happened, was pretty early in his effort to package January 6 as something very peaceful and presidential, and almost non-eventful. And that's where he first laid out the argument that's now familiar.

Most important, he saw a lot of what he did as transactional. All he was talking about primarily were the deals that he was able to cut or his prowess as a negotiator, rather than his vision, rather than his agenda. So he saw politics very much as business and that was very clear in his discussion.

ROMANS: Yes, it's a fascinating read.

Julian Zelizer, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

JARRETT: Thanks, Julian.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

ROMANS: Speaking of history, for the first time in five years, Barack Obama was back at the White House.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Vice President Biden -- Vice President -- (Laughter)

That was a joke.


ROMANS: The former president joining his vice president and current president, Joe Biden, for an event celebrating the 12th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act -- the very piece of legislation that was once used by Republicans to attack him. For years, Republicans vowed to gut Obamacare without offering a credible replacement for healthcare for Americans.

The ACA has helped millions of Americans maintain affordable healthcare -- wildly popular now. President Biden, now, is taking new action to extend it and close loopholes.

JARRETT: Dr. Anthony Fauci sounding optimistic about where the nation stands in the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking to CNN's Chris Wallace on CNN+, Fauci says the worst may be over with the Omicron variant.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We can't predict whether or not another variant is going to come from someplace else. Remember, Delta came from India; Omicron came from Africa.

If we are staying with the virus we have now we can feel comfortable that as we go out there's enough background immunity in the population, either from people who have been infected or people who have been vaccinated and boosted, that it is unlikely that you're going to see a big surge in hospitalizations again if we don't get another variant.

So, for this particular virus now, I believe we are out of the woods of seriousness.


JARRETT: That's the good news. But Fauci does say that it's a big problem that the Senate's new $10 billion coronavirus aid deal does not include funding for international aid. He says you cannot have a global pandemic with a regional response.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, a major bank predicting the U.S. is headed for a mild recession. Plus --



(Child crying)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, princess. Come on girl. I know, darling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hand me the other one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Princess.

(Child crying)


ROMANS: The dramatic bodycam video shows police rescuing a family, including this baby, from a sinking car. That story ahead.



ROMANS: All right.

The Federal Reserve Bank is raising interest rates to try to combat soaring inflation. And now, Deutsche Bank is the first major financial institution to predict a recession in the U.S. beginning late next year because of those higher interest rates.

Let's bring in Catherine Rampell, CNN economics contributor and Washington Post opinion columnist. Nice to see you this morning.

The economists there are Deutsche Bank write this. "We no longer see the Fed achieving a soft landing. Instead, we anticipate that a more aggressive tightening of monetary policy will push the economy into a recession."

This is the first bank to make this call. But it is notable last year was the strongest economy in the U.S. since the Reagan administration. Now we're all trying to guess when the next recession will happen.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMIC COMMENTATOR (via Webex by Cisco): A number of other banks have also raised the probability of a recession, at the very least. You know, Goldman Sachs and some others have placed the odds at about a third.

So, Deutsche Bank is still an outlier but you do see this sort of darkening of the economic outlook right now among a lot of forecasters and economists. And it's partly because, as you just read, the Fed is tasked with getting inflation under control. And historically, when they have done that -- when they have raised interest rates, most of the time that has accidentally tipped us into recession.


So it was always going to be a really challenging task for them to figure out how to dampen demand just enough to get inflation under control but not enough to cause a downturn.

JARRETT: Catherine, it seems like part of the other problem is that everything is hitting at once. So -- RAMPELL: Yes.

JARRETT: -- inflation was already running at a 40-year high. Then Russia invades Ukraine. And now, we see these new COVID lockdowns in China, which can't make matters any better.

RAMPELL: Yes, exactly. It was always going to be a really difficult and narrow path for the Fed to follow. Again, to raise interest rates just enough to deal with inflation but not enough to tip us into recession. And now, that very narrow path has effectively gotten a lot narrower because there are these additional shocks that are hitting not just the U.S. economy but the global economy.

You have the war in Ukraine -- the unprovoked Russian war in Ukraine, on the one hand, which is causing disruptions in energy markets and commodity markets, making things a lot more expensive. That's going to drive inflation up higher, which the Fed will probably -- which probably means that the Fed will have to raise rates more aggressively.

And then, in China, you have this zero-COVID policy that has caused these huge lockdowns in Shanghai and other places. That is disrupting the supply chains. Again, going to contribute to inflationary pressures which, again, is going to likely nudge the Fed on the margin to raise interest rates even more.

So, all of those things together means that it's less and less likely that the Fed will achieve its so-called --


RAMPELL: -- soft landing, and that's why you see a lot of worry out there.

ROMANS: You know -- and we're expecting new sanctions on Russia from the EU and the U.S. today.

I think it's important to point out again that Russia sells gas to Europe and uses that money to wage war against Ukraine and the West -- and Western institutions. Breaking that link is going to be difficult. It could cause a recession in Europe. It will be painful.

But as Jamie Dimon, the banker, said this week, we need to turn up sanctions as a stand against evil. I think the sanctions regime is going to be the new normal, right?

RAMPELL: At least for the foreseeable future, as long as this war continues. And again, it's easier, as Jamie Dimon pointed out and as you have pointed out, for the U.S. to turn up the temperature on sanctions because we are less reliant on Russia, particularly for energy. But it's going to be a lot more painful for the EU.

I mean, the goal of sanctions, of course, is to punish Putin. To punish Russia. Not to -- or at least to minimize the pain that's suffered by those trading partners. And that's going to be really, really challenging -- ROMANS: Yes.

RAMPELL: -- particularly since energy prices are already quite high, especially in the EU.

ROMANS: Yes. If you're in Europe, punishing Putin, you're going to feel some pain, too. The hope, I think, with sanctions is to make sure that the target of the sanctions feels more pain than you do in delivering them, and that's a tough line to walk.

Catherine Rampell, so nice to see you. Thank you.

RAMPELL: Thank you.

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

Looking at markets around the world, Asian shares have closed mixed. Europe has opened down. And on Wall Street, stock index futures also leaning lower here.

It was a down day on Tuesday after hawkish remarks from the Federal Reserve governor, Lael Brainard. In a speech ahead of the Fed releasing minutes of its March meeting, Brainard said the Fed would need to raise rates rapidly to ease inflation. The 10-year Treasury yield hit a nearly-3-year high after she spoke, soaring to 2.56%.

Twitter leveled off as investors digested the news that Elon Musk would serve on the company's board of directors -- a seat at the board. The Dow fell just under 1%, the S&P down 1.3%, and the Nasdaq down more than 2%.

JARRETT: Some incredible police bodycam video for you capturing the dramatic rescue of a Maryland family of four, including a 3-year-old and a baby, from a sinking car. When the dad lost control of the vehicle, it crashed through a wooded area and ended up submerged in a pond. That's when an officer on patrol heard the accident and he and another officer rushed to the scene.



(Child crying)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, princess. Come on girl. I know, darling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hand me the other one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Princess.

(Child crying)


JARRETT: Luckily, everyone is said to be doing OK.

ROMANS: And he's so calm -- princess, darling. Pulling her out like it's just another day at the office. That's why I -- first responders, I just think, are wow. They are the heroes.

JARRETT: Incredible.

All right. Golf great Tiger Woods set to make his comeback in this week's Masters tournament. Why he says he thinks he can win, next.



ROMANS: Storms sweeping through the south killed at least two people and spawned dozens of tornadoes. In Georgia, at least two tornadoes reported, claiming one life in Bryan County on Tuesday. Southeast of Tyler, Texas, a man in an R.V. was also killed when a tree fell on his vehicle.

Let's get to meteorologist Gene Norman. Where is this headed next, Gene?

GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Christine, some of the same places that get hit on Tuesday are under the gun again on -- today -- for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the remnants of those strong storms are bringing a soggy start to the day from Washington to Philly, up toward New York -- and also, from Chicago back toward St. Louis. That's the cold front that will spark some of those stronger storms later today. Already, some severe weather popping up just north of Memphis.


But as the front pushes to the southeast, that's where we could see some of that more dangerous weather. We'll time it out for you and we'll show that rain -- soggy start to the morning commute in the northeast. But look at the big area of red here in the southeast. We're talking about Atlanta back toward Savannah. Again, could see some big storms. And then they'll push off to the east coast as head into Thursday.

So, another two-day storm threat that we're watching. It could be pretty rough. Keep your weather alerts on in the southeast today.

ROMANS: All right, good advice, Gene Norman. Thank you so much.

JARRETT: All right. Tiger Woods says he's planning to play at this year's Masters just 14 months after being seriously hurt in that horrific car crash.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report, live from Augusta National. Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Tiger is back. Hello, Laura.

And to think that Tiger suffered open fractures on his right leg, saying he wasn't -- thinking he wasn't going to be able to walk again after that car crash last February near Los Angeles. But now, he's going to go out and play on the biggest stage of them all. It's unfathomable.

But after enduring months of intense rehab, the golf legend says that he is ready to hit the Masters stage once again. Here he was yesterday.


TIGER WOODS, 5-TIME MASTERS CHAMPION: As of right now, I feel like I am going to play -- as of right now. The fact that I was able to get myself here to this point is a success. And now that I am playing -- now that everything is focused on how do I get myself into the position where I'm on that back nine on Sunday with a chance, just like I did a few years ago.


WIRE: Now, Tiger was here on the grounds practicing for a third consecutive day yesterday. He says he hopes to play nine holes later today for final preps.

Tiger seems to thrive off of adversity. He's a 5-time Masters champ, winning his last one in 2019 after recovering from multiple knee and back surgeries. Some have doubted his ability to come back before but here he is, yet again, ready to do it again -- listen.


WOODS: I never left that hospital bed even to see my living room for three months. So, that was a tough road. And to finally get out of that where I wasn't needing a wheelchair or crutches and walking and still had more surgeries ahead of me, to say that I was going to be here playing and talking to you guys again, I would have said it would have been very unlikely.


WIRE: Now, Tiger is set to tee off his opening round tomorrow morning at 10:34 eastern alongside Louis Oosthuizen and Joaquin Niemann. He's gotten huge support from his fellow competitors along his road to recovery here and they cannot wait for another Tiger comeback.


JORDAN SPIETH, 2015 MASTERS CHAMPION: I'd never even really thought about him playing golf again after everything he's been through -- injuries over the years and such. He already had his comeback in 2019. But, I mean, how many comebacks has he had? RORY MCILROY, 4-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: He's hitting it well. He's chipping well. He's sharp. It's just the -- it's the physical demand of getting around 72 holes here this week. That's the -- you know, that's the -- probably the question mark. But the golf game is there. So would I be surprised? No, I'm not surprised at anything he does anymore.


WIRE: Last night, Tiger got to feast at the annual champions dinner, which has been held at Augusta National since 1952. Hideki Matsuyama's turn this year, and as Japan's first Masters champ, he chose to honor his heritage with some Japanese-inspired dishes.

The consensus among players, he crushed those taste buds -- assorted sushi, yakitori chicken skewers. Main course, glazed black cod or Miyazakiguy Wagyu beef, and we're talking grade A5. We're talking some of the best cuts of beef on the planet. Of course, you had to have Japanese strawberry shortcake for dessert there, Laura.

But, yes, that Japanese --

ROMANS: Hungry -- you're making us hungry.

WIRE: -- Wagyu beef is going to have those players ready to play.

JARRETT: Oh my gosh. All you have to say is strawberry shortcake to the pregnant lady. Thank you, Coy -- appreciate it.

ROMANS: Thanks a lot.

All right. New this morning, Pope Francis condemning the Bucha mass killings. You see there the Pope receiving this roaring applause from the audience. He is holding up a battle-stained Ukrainian flag, which the Pope said was from Bucha, renewing his call to end the bloodshed after those horrific images showed civilians lying dead in the streets after the Russians pulled out.

JARRETT: Yes, and he said he may actually go to Kyiv. It will be interesting to see.

ROMANS: Amazing.

All right, thanks for joining us this Wednesday morning. I'm Christine Romans.

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