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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

U.N. Secretary-General Meets Putin In Moscow; Florida Governor Signs Bill Creating New Election Police Force; Elon Musk Buying Twitter In $44 Billion Deal. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 26, 2022 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: About 33 minutes -- back now.

The U.N. Secretary-General is about to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. He'll see Ukraine's President Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Thursday.

Let's bring in Vladislav Davidzon, an Atlantic Council fellow and author of the book "From Odessa With Love." He joins me live from Odessa, Ukraine. Vladislav, so nice to have you this morning.

Talk to me about your thoughts on this meeting. Is there any point here? Is there any hope in getting through to Putin?


I -- look, I'm very happy for any kind of negotiation to take place. The sooner the Russian army withdraws and stops bombing Ukrainian civilians and killing my acquaintances and friends and colleagues the better, just on a human level.


In terms of the actual technical stuff, there are people in Kyiv who thought that, first of all, you shouldn't have those kinds of one-on- ones with Putin after this -- certainly, not on his territory. And if you're going to do that, at least go see the president of Ukraine first before you go to Moscow. So there are people here in Ukraine who are concerned about the sequencing of the way things are going and they're thinking that you shouldn't be giving those kinds of concessions to Putin based on everything.

So while I would like to see the end of this very quickly, I personally don't see an armistice until something else happens in the Donbas.

JARRETT: Fair enough.

The last time you joined us it was here in New York on set. Now you're back in your beloved Odessa. What's changed since your return? What is life like on the ground? Talk to me about what you're seeing.

DAVIDZON: So, I arrived with a colleague -- a friend on the 15th. I've been here in my hometown reporting here and around the region for the last 10 days. I'm going out to Dnipro tomorrow.

But on the 15th, when we arrived, it became obvious that with the sinking of the Moskva -- the Russian Black Sea fleet flagship -- that the danger to Odessa from a naval landing -- an amphibious naval landing by Russian Marines had become drastically less than an issue. It was obvious that with the sinking of Moskva the Russian Black Sea fleet had to pull away 80 miles-100 miles away from the coast because that was obvious that their ships are in danger.

So around about a week ago, the local authorities starting -- started to deconstruct the fortifications -- the barbed wire, the sandbags, anti-tank equipment that they had all over the picturesque cobblestone streets. It became obvious that those sandbags and the barbed wire were more useful in the east in Kherson and Mykolaiv. So they started moving out all the sandbags and the barbed wire out east.

And a couple of days afterwards it became obvious when they hit Odessa a few days ago with missiles and killed that beautiful family -- three generations -- including five other people and wounded 18 people -- it became obvious that Odessa was now, once again, the locust of the (audio gap).

For the last 24 -- even 48 hours, we've heard more and more air sirens. In fact, the air sirens just went up all over the P.A. of the hotel that I'm staying in right as I came on your show.

So, there is this kind of weird confluence of the beautiful weather here and the fact that this is one of the prettiest cities in this -- in the world, probably, and the fact that there is this kind of dread all over the city because there are airstrikes and air sirens.

JARRETT: Yes. That juxtaposition has to be disconcerting.

Please come back to update us on what's happening. We appreciate your perspective. Vladislav Davidzon, Atlanta Council Fellow, thank you.

DAVIDZON: Bye-bye.

JARRETT: Up next for you, a judge's ruling throwing a wrench in President Biden's border plan. And what will Florida's next election police force mean for voters there?



JARRETT: President Biden's plan to lift COVID border restrictions for migrants not hitting a snag. A federal judge said he would temporary block -- temporarily block the administration from ending the immigration policy known as Title 42 early.

Now, the White House had planned to lift that order on May 23, meaning that migrants who had been turned away at the U.S.-Mexico border would be able to stay in the U.S. That decision from the White House has drawn some pretty strong pushback from both Republicans and Democrats concerned about a supposed influx of migrants on the border.

CNN's Jasmine Wright is live in our Washington bureau with more on this. So, Jasmine, the judge actually isn't for closing the end of Title 42 forever; he's just saying you're not going to do it before this May 23 date. So what happens now?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN REPORTER: Well, the ruling came, Laura, as it seemed that the White House was really doubling down and readying to go on a defensive, really trying to support their lifting of Title 42. Now, we know that -- sources told CNN that they were readying details after they'd invited lawmakers to a briefing that was supposed to happen today at 4:00 p.m. where they would discuss the lifting of Title 42. Media reports from other networks said that they had been readying talking points to give to lawmakers when confronting a potential surge at the border if Title 42 had been lifted.

And, of course, we know that just yesterday the president met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the White House, and there, they said that he discussed the lifting of Title 42. And a source told CNN later on that the administration gave no indication that they were backing off of lifting Title 42 despite the pushback that they've seen from both parties -- both Democrats and Republicans.

So, the question right now is what happens going forward? That's a little bit unclear, right? Does the administration kind of pull back and look at this ruling until immigration advocates and others -- like, hey, we tried? We wanted to lift Title 42 but right now it's now happening. Or do they double down? Do they challenge this stay -- temporary stay put on by the judge and really go forward with their plans?

Really, we don't have an indication of which way they're going to go. But really, those are the two paths right now as it seemed just yesterday that this administration was not backing off -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Jasmine. Thank you.

Also this morning, new alarm bells in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday creating a police force specifically to investigate claims of voter fraud, which have been virtually non- existent. Still, election police have been a top priority for some Republicans in the wake of Donald Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was stolen -- the big lie.


CNN's Steve Contorno is live in St. Petersburg, Florida for us this morning. Steve, what does this actually mean for Florida voters on the ground? How is this supposed to work?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Laura, that really depends on who you ask. Governor DeSantis would say that if you are a law-abiding citizen -- that if you vote legally that this should not affect you at all. In fact, it should give you confidence that your vote in the election is more secure than ever.

Democrats and voting rights advocates -- voting rights advocates -- excuse me -- think differently, obviously. They say that there are concerns that this will be an expansion of police into an area where there is not a problem and they'll be searching for problems that don't exist. That it could have a chilling effect on voting in Florida, especially for those who live on the margins.

For example -- you know, Florida still has a lot of confusion around its voting rights. Excuse me, a 2018 constitutional amendment that restored the voting rights of a lot of former felons who completed their sentences. But there's a lot of confusion and it's very -- it's impossible for some people to figure out if they've met the terms of their sentences. If they've paid off all their fines and fees, and court restitution.

And the concern is that if those individuals attempt to register to vote and their local election supervisor doesn't tell them that they weren't supposed to register to vote, that this new police force will be emboldened to start going after these people.

And there's also concern about other provisions in the law that increase fines and fees for violations. That it makes certain violations a felony.

And just the idea that a -- that a governor would have a police force specifically to look at -- go after voting, there is a lot of concern that this could be used for political purposes. That there could be used for retribution against political opponents. And there's just an unprecedented expansion of power for a governor for an election that, in Florida, was relatively smooth in 2020.

JARRETT: Yes. I expect to see a lot of court challenges coming out of this.

Steve, thank you for following it -- appreciate it.

Well, the Brooklyn Nets are out of the playoffs after getting swept by the Boston Celtics. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.


So, you know, this is going to go down as one of the most disappointing seasons in NBA history. The Nets were the favorite to win the NBA title before this season. They didn't even end up winning a playoff game. The Celtics leading game four the entire time. It was close in the final minutes.

Kevin Durant here. Two of his 39 cuts the lead to one. Then under 30 seconds to go, Durant at the free-throw line. He misses the second.

And the Celtics are going to go up the floor. Marcus Smart goes in for the layup. He misses, but Al Horford there to put it back in. That put the game away. Boston wins 116-112.

And here was Kyrie after the game reflecting on what was a very rough season.


KYRIE IRVING, BROOKLYN NETS GUARD: I felt like I was letting the team down at a -- at a point where I wasn't able to play. You know, we were trying to exercise every option for me to play but I never wanted it to just be about me. And it became a distraction at times. But now, we just look for the future as a team and what we can accomplish for the next few years, and I get excited about that.


SCHOLES: All right, 76ers, meanwhile, trying to close out the Raptors at home in game five. Joel Embiid playing with an injured thumb and he didn't get much help from James Harden and the rest of his teammates. Toronto holding the Sixers to 38% shooting. The Raptors ended up blowing out Philly to win game five 103-88.

Doc Rivers has now lost seven of his last eight opportunities to close out his series. No team has ever blown a 3-0 advantage and lost a playoff series in the NBA.

All right. The Mavs, unlike the Sixers, were red-hot last night against the Jazz in game five of their series. Luke Doncic pouring in 33 points; 19 of them in the third quarter. That was as many as Utah had in the quarter as a team.

The Jazz were just three for 30 from the 3-point line. That was the worst 3-point percentage in NBA post-season history when a team takes at least 25.

Now, the Mavs win in a rout, 102-77, to take a 3-2 series lead.

Bad news for Utah. Star Donovan Mitchell left late in the game with an injured hamstring.

All right, and the playoffs do continue tonight. The Heat can close out the Hawks with a game-five win. That's at 7:00 eastern on NBA T.V. Then it's pivotal game five between the T-Wolves and Grizzlies, and then the Suns and Pelicans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty twenty-one, 2022 Most Improved Player of the Year.




SCHOLES: All right. So, Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant getting cheered by his team as he received the NBA's Most Improved Player award. Kind of an odd choice by the voters considering Ja was the Rookie of the Year just two years ago. And maybe he thought so, too, because Ja decided to give the award to

his teammate, Desmond Bane. Ja surprising him, leaving the award on his kitchen counter. Bane seemed shocked when he got it. Morant posted a picture of it in the kitchen, saying, "I left your award in your kitchen gang. You deserve it killa 100%."

And Laura, Bane got fifth in the voting for Most Improved Player. And I think he would have been a little bit of a more fitting choice because I don't think you can give the Most Improved Player award to a guy who was already a pretty big star in the league.

JARRETT: It seems a little odd but --


JARRETT: -- I leave that expertise to you, Andy. Thank you.

SCHOLES: All right. Thanks, Laura.

JARRETT: Just ahead, Ukrainians being forced or tricked into going to Russia. But first, the world's richest man just bought Twitter. What's that going to look like?



JARRETT: The world's richest person will not be in control of the world's online public square. Twitter's board unanimously approved Elon Musk's bid to buy the social media platform for a cool $44 billion.

Let's bring in CNN Business writer, here with me on set, Clare Duffy. Clare, the news drawing both cheers and some fears. Actually, I don't know who is cheering this other than maybe shareholders?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: You know, Elon Musk does have some fans in the tech world. I think there are some people who look at Elon as this really innovative entrepreneur. And so, I think there are some people who are excited about this.

Even some Twitter employees yesterday were tweeting this could be a good new opportunity for the company. But I think there were just as many, if not more, sort of concerns about what this will mean.

JARRETT: Just like the ship that launched a thousand memes, I think you could say.

He's promised a lot of things, like defeating spambots, open-source sort of code revealing. All these things that he's promising, though, can he actually get done as easily as he says he can?

DUFFY: You know, I think it's a big wait and see moment right now. There's both the question of whether he can get them done and what kind of impact he'll have doing them. Open sourcing the algorithm. We've talked with experts who have said

if you make this code public most people aren't even going to know what they're looking at, you know. The idea is to increase transparency. Even some of the Twitter employees who work on this code probably don't know exactly what it means and exactly what it does because it's that complicated.

So, will that actually work to increase transparency on Twitter I think is sort of unclear.

The same could be said of what he's said about wanting to make freer speech on Twitter --

JARRETT: Right. What does that allow?

DUFFY: -- all legal speech on Twitter. You know, that is really complicated. Laws change from country to country. And there's this real balancing act that the platforms have to do between allowing free speech, which at the end of the day, all the platforms really I think want to allow as much speech as they possibly can while protecting users from things like harassment and abuse and hate speech, and these things that really can sort of tumble into online and offline harms for people.

JARRETT: Yes, and it's a balancing act, as you say, for all of these platforms. One person may know who apparently claims that he's not coming back, or so he claims, is the former president. We'll see if that remains to be true.

What do you hear from industry experts about what kind of precedent this sets to have the world's richest man now in control of such a huge digital online public square that so many people rely on for just to get their daily news?

DUFFY: Right. You know, I think it is -- it's sort of a reminder of the fact that while we think of these big social media platforms as sort of the public good -- that, you know, everybody should have some sort of access to -- they really are, at the end of the day, companies that can be owned or bought by these billionaires.

And even -- you know, the comparison has been made -- you know, people are really concerned about what this will mean for Twitter. Well, Facebook isn't -- the controlling shareholder of Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg --


DUFFY: -- who is also a billionaire.

So I think it's just sort of a reminder of the fact that these platforms are not, sort of, the public utilities --


DUFFY: -- that we sometimes think that they are.

JARRETT: Yes, it's a good reminder.

All right. It will be interesting to see what he does with his.

Appreciate all your great reporting on it. I've been following all of your great newsletter entries and reliable sources. Appreciate it. Thank you so much, Clare.

DUFFY: Thank you.

JARRETT: All right. Thank you so much for joining me this morning. I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.