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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Gymnast Alina Kabeava Linked To Putin As Secret Mistress; Meatpacking CEOs To Answer For Price Hikes At House Hearing; Task Force: Daily Aspirin To Prevent Heart Attacks And Strokes Could Do More Harm Than Good. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 27, 2022 - 05:30   ET




LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: When in doubt follow the money. U.S. officials are taking direct aim at those in Vladimir Putin's inner circle with harsh sanctions. But one person spared, so far, Putin's rumored girlfriend.

CNN's Nic Robertson has more.


ALINA KABEAVA, RUSSIAN GYMNAST: (Speaking foreign language).

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): Alina Kabeava back in the news again, first romantically linked to President Putin more than a decade ago -- a relationship he has denied ever since. They met years earlier, reportedly when she was a young medal-winning gymnast. He looked smitten last week, stepping out at a Moscow gymnastics event, rallying the nation as it slips to international isolation.

ALINA KABEAVA, RUSSIAN GYMNAST (through translator): If competitions will be held only in Russia, then on the contrary, the gymnastics will be better and more spectacular, and the Russian gymnastics is not losing anything in this situation.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Her life transformed -- much richer, U.S. officials say, according to The Wall Street Journal, following her purported proximity to Putin. Questions now -- why hasn't she been sanctioned like him?

REPORTER: Why you would refrain from sanctioning someone arguable close to Putin?

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't have analysis at this point because we're still reviewing. There's more we will likely do.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The two rarely, if ever, seen together. That precise relationship, if any, unclear. But more than a decade of rumors undimmed with time. Now, against the backdrop of wartime symbolism, calling on the country to support Putin's war. KAVBEAVA (through translator): Every family has a history of war and

we shouldn't forget about it. We should hand it over from generation to generation.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Her wealth and ties to Putin are a hot political topic since The Wall Street Journal wrote Treasury officials decided last minute not to sanction here.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): There's articles in the paper about family members that have been used by Putin to sort of launder money, and talk of a girlfriend in Sweden. Do you know anything about an effort to bring sanctions against her?

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The first answer is no --


GARLAND: And the second answer I guess is if I did know, I wouldn't be able to discuss it.

GRAHAM: OK, fair enough.

GARLAND: This is the Treasury Department.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Whatever Kabeava's proximity to Putin, her financial moves never more closely watched than now.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Brussels.


JARRETT: Nic Robertson, thank you for that fascinating report.

Back here in the U.S., Deutsch Bank is predicting a major recession for the U.S. economy. The bank claims the Federal Reserve will likely raise interest rates too aggressively, making the recession even worse than the bank's economists initially expected.

CNN's Matt Egan is here with me on set with the very latest. So, Matt, Deutsche Bank has said this before but now it's taking it a step further, and it does have research to back up its claims.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Yes, that's right. I mean, this is really all about high inflation. Deutsche Bank caught some people off guard earlier this month by saying -- coming out and being the first bank to actually come out and say recession in the --


EGAN: -- United States, but they saw a mild one. Now they're saying actually, inflation is so high that it's not going to be a mild recession. It's actually going to be a major one.

And the crux of their argument is that the Federal Reserve is really, really late here when it comes to --

JARRETT: And too reactive.

EGAN: -- inflation. And -- well, in this case, that they're not reactive enough up until now. And then, that they might actually overreact -- too reactive.

They found that when you look at inflation and the unemployment rate the Fed is further behind the curve than it has been in any point since the early '80s. And the concern is that to catch up they are not going to be able to just sort of tap the brakes on the economy and gradually raise interest rates; they are going to have to slam the brakes.

Let me read you a key line from that report. They wrote, "Our view is that the only way to minimize the economic, financial, and societal damage of prolonged inflation is to err on the side of doing too much."

Now, the problem is that the harder they hit the brakes -- if they slam the brakes on the economy, that raises the risk of an accident, either in markets, in the economy, or in both.


JARRETT: Now, the bank does say it sees the economy rebounding by mid-2024, but that could be a lifetime from now. I mean, that -- a lot could happen in between now and then. Is there any hope on the immediate horizon?

EGAN: Well, they're saying that they think that this downturn would begin at the end of 2023 and that by mid-2024, yes, the economy would be rebounding.

I think the good news is that their gloom and doom is not universal on Wall Street. I mean, other economists think that the Fed could actually pull this off. Tame inflation without crushing the economy. Goldman Sachs says that they don't think a recession is needed to get inflation under control.

But I would point out that investors are starting to get nervous about at least the slowdown in the economy. The Dow fell more than 800 points -- 2.4% yesterday. It's down, as you can see on that chart, about 1,700 points in just the past week. Stock futures -- they're back up this morning but markets do remain on edge.

I mean, the truth is that no one has a crystal ball -- not Deutsche Bank, not Goldman Sachs, not the investors. We're really in uncharted waters and that probably means a bumpier ride ahead in the market and probably in the economy.

JARRETT: But when they speak the market listens --

EGAN: Absolutely.

JARRETT: -- and we've got to pay attention. All right. Thanks for explaining this.

EGAN: Thanks, Laura.

JARRETT: Appreciate it.

All right. We talk a lot about how inflation is driving prices higher on just about everything from gas to food. Still, America's meatpacking industry has some explaining some do. As consumer prices are soaring, their corporate profits are surging. CEOs of the four largest companies will be grilled at a House hearing later today.

CNN's Daniella Diaz is live on Capitol Hill for us. Daniella, what do lawmakers want to hear from these execs that's going to satisfy them?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Laura, these CEOs are going to come under a tough line of questioning from House members later today at a committee hearing where they're going to be asked repeatedly about the rising costs of food. Now, those CEOs, of course, being Cargill, Tyson Foods, JBS, and the National Beef Packing -- they're expected to testify.

And look, this comes at a time when households are facing a 40-year high of inflation and it's put a lot of pressure on the Biden administration and congressional Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterms. This is, of course, affecting Americans directly in their pockets. They will vote on these kinds of issues, which is why they're trying to, of course, call these lawmakers -- excuse me, these CEOs to testify today.

And look, I just want to put a little bit of data on why this is so important. Since the last year, overall, meat and fish prices have risen nearly 14% Laura on an annual basis. This is according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. And this is, of course, spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain issues.

And there are bills under consideration in Congress that would set up a new enforcement division in the USDA increasing competition. A lot of congressional Democrats think competition is the problem here. That there needs to be more competition, which would lower prices of food.

But look, really, the Biden administration and congressional Democrats have vowed that they're going to crack down on these issues of inflation. They want to lower the prices on food to help Americans directly. And we're going to see a lot of line of questioning later today on this issue -- Laura.

JARRETT: All right, Daniella. Thank you.

Just ahead, if you have been like many people, taking an aspirin every day, you're going to want to hear about the new research that has scientists changing their minds about the drug.

And this -- Dr. Anthony Fauci skipping Nerd Prom in Washington, D.C. due to COVID concerns. Should the president do the same?



JARRETT: It turns out an aspirin a day might not keep the doctor away. Many Americans take a daily dose of aspirin in the hopes of preventing heart attack and stroke. But now, scientists say they see little benefit for most healthy people and they're worried about the risk of bleeding in the stomach or brain as patients get older.

Let's bring in Dr. Ali Raja, executive vice chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Doctor, so nice to have you back on EARLY START.

Help me out here. Why the 180 in this recommendation after years of doctors suggesting that people take aspirin? I think of so many aspirin ads that I've seen over the years saying this is the safest --


JARRETT: -- pain reliever out there. And also, if this is, in fact, something we should avoid, is there an alternative?

RAJA: It's a great question, Laura.

You know, the way that aspirin works is it actually stops platelets from sticking together and stops blood clots from forming. And so, over the years, I've seen tons of patients in the emergency room who come in having heart attacks and strokes, and almost all of them get put on aspirin to prevent the next one.

But what we've had here is that the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force -- it's a -- it's a panel of clinicians that gets together to not talk about what you do after something happens but what we can do to prevent disease.

And so, what they came out with was the fact that for healthy people -- not people who have had heart attacks, not people who have had strokes -- but for healthy people over the age of 60 who have been taking aspirin to prevent disease -- well, because of the bleeding risk -- because your body has a harder time forming blood clots, it's not worth it for them to start taking aspirin.

Now, this is probably because of the fact that a lot of the new studies that they're basing this recommendation on have been done on patients who are on good medications for blood pressure control and for cholesterol control -- things like statins. And when you're on those, the added benefit of aspirin really isn't there compared to the bleeding risk.

So, what I want to emphasize, though, is if you're already on aspirin, don't stop all of a sudden this morning after talking --


RAJA: -- after listening to Laura and listening to me.

JARRETT: OK. Because I'm about to call my mom and tell her to cut it out right now.


RAJA: Don't do that. Have her call up her clinician -- the person who talks to her about her individual risk for heart attacks --


RAJA: -- and strokes, and make that decision together.

JARRETT: Yes. Maybe, perhaps, don't listen to her daughter who is not a physician.

You probably heard the news that the vice president has tested positive for COVID-19. Now, the White House says she's being treated with this drug Paxlovid that so many people had a really hard time getting their hands on, frankly --

RAJA: Right -- yes.

JARRETT: -- unless their symptoms were severe or they somehow had connections to get it. But now, the Biden administration is making it more widely available. Perhaps this was not the way that they wanted to roll that out. But bottom line, is this essentially something that everyone should be giving if they test positive?

RAJA: It's a good question. You know, Paxlovid works. It can lead to up to a 90% reduction in hospitalization and death if you give it within five days and if it's given to patients who would otherwise get pretty severe disease.

But the trouble is, it's actually got a lot of drug interaction. So, talking about your mom, who takes aspirin, it's got a lot of different drug interactions with other medications. And so, it shouldn't go to everybody who tests positive.

But what we need is we need -- we need to be able to quickly get people who test positive to talk to an expert clinician about it and then to get the prescription.

So, I love the fact the White House is making. I think they have 20 million -- enough medication for 20 million people to get treated ordered. But what we really need is we actually need test-to-treat sites where patients can take a test and if they test positive talk to a clinician right there, and then get a prescription filled so it can all happen all at once.

JARRETT: Yes, it's interesting. I heard so many doctors say look, I would love to prescribe it if I could but I'm having a hard time getting it. So, hopefully, this does --

RAJA: Right.

JARRETT: -- help out with that. I'm glad to know that the V.P. is, so far, not experiencing any severe symptoms as far as we know.

I also want to ask you about this. CNN is reporting now that Dr. Fauci has pulled out of the White House Correspondents' Dinner that's supposed to happen this weekend over COVID concerns. Now, Dr. Fauci looks like he is in really good shape but he is still 81 years old.

Should President Biden, who is 79, be going to this event?

RAJA: You know, it's interesting. I've heard Dr. Fauci on a lot of podcasts and he gets up and he's still running every morning. And you're right, he seems pretty healthy, and we can't know anything different than that.

This is really about personal risk and tolerance and the fact is that the organizers of the White House Correspondents' Dinner are doing a great job. They're requiring that everybody who comes in is vaccinated and then also shows a proof of negative COVID testing -- not over the past few days but that day. So, fully vaccinated and a negative COVID test that day.

It won't be zero risk but it's about as minimal risk as you can get. And so, I think it's safe for the president to be there.

JARRETT: All right, that's good to know. I don't know if you've ever been to the White House Correspondents' Dinner but they pack you in like sardines there. So if we saw a bunch of COVID cases --

RAJA: I haven't. It looks like it.

JARRETT: If you saw COVID cases coming out of the Gridiron, you are going to see COVID cases come out of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Mark my words.

Dr. Ali Raja, thank you so much for getting up early this morning.

RAJA: Thanks, Laura.

JARRETT: All right, a last-second layup lifts the Memphis Grizzlies to a huge comeback win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Andy Scholes has it all covered in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hi, Andy.


What a night for Grizzlies star Ja Morant. He had, arguably, the dunk of the year and made the winning shot to beat the Timberwolves in a pivotal game-five last night.

And Ja's dad looks almost identical to Usher. Check it out. Usher was sitting courtside with Tee Morant. Can you tell who's who? It's not easy.

Now, Ja's dad coming out of his seat in the third quarter watching his son fly through the air and slam it over Malik Beasley. The crowd and the internet going nuts over that.

Now, the Grizzlies trailed by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter but took a 3-point lead with under 10 seconds to go. And that's when Anthony Edwards comes up big for Minnesota. He's going to hit the three here in the corner to tie it up with three seconds left. Memphis then draws up a play for Ja and he's going to hang in the air and get the layup to go with one second left.

Timberwolves had no timeouts and their last-second heave was no good. Memphis would win a thriller, 111-109.


JA MORANT, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES GUARD: We've got one more, man -- one more. I'm saving my greatest for that one more win, man -- one more. The big Memphis (INAUDIBLE).


SCHOLES: Ja pretty happy there.

The Heat, meanwhile, looking to close out the Hawks last night. Both Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry sitting out game five with injuries.

This one close in the final seconds. Bam Adebayo -- the slam here -- put the Heat up by four. Hawks had the ball down three with five seconds left but Miami just stifling defense. Atlanta doesn't even get a shot off and that's how their season ends.

Miami moves on with the 97-94 win. They'll meet the winner of the 76ers-Raptors series beginning next week.


The Suns, meanwhile, now one win away from advancing to the second round with a big 112-97 win against the Pelicans. Phoenix never trailed in this one. Mikal Bridges scoring a game-high 31 points, including a perfect four-for-four from beyond the 3-point line.

The Suns, 50-0 this season when leading after three quarters, including 3-0 in this series. They can close it out tomorrow night in game six in New Orleans.

The Bucks can move on to the second round if they beat the Bulls tonight in game give. So can the Warriors if they win at home over the Nuggets. Both of those games on our sister channel TNT.

All right, to baseball where the Tigers found a really weird way to lose. They were up by one in the bottom of the ninth against the Twins when Miguel Sano hits a liner that glances off right-fielder Robbie Grossman's glove and rolls all the way to the wall.

Lead runner Trevor Larnach thinking the ball would be caught and stopped at third base, leaving teammate Gio Urshela trapped in a rundown between second and third. But Tigers' catcher Eric Haase throws the ball over the head of the third baseman allowing Larnach to score, and Urshela coming home with the game-winning run.

Minnesota gets the wild 5-4 victory on one of the strangest walk-offs you'll see this season.

All right -- and finally, a fan ended up making the catch of the night at the Padres-Reds game. Check this out. A foul ball bouncing towards a dad who was feeding his baby a bottle. Jacob Kingsley reaches out and makes the grab while 11-month-old Shepherd never stops eating the entire time. As you can see, Kingsley's wife Jordan super-impressed by her husband's catch. In an interview, she said it was like the coolest thing ever.

And you know what, Laura? We've seen a lot of great catches but I don't think I've ever seen one where the bottle never left the baby's mouth. That was pretty cool.

JARRETT: You have, like, somehow made this cottage industry of finding all of these tapes of dads holding their babies.

SCHOLES: Two this week, yes.

JARRETT: But look, you never take that bottle away from the baby. Good for that dad knowing where the priorities are.

SCHOLES: Multi-tasking, right? Yes.

JARRETT: Yes. All right, Andy, thank you.

Well, new explosions overnight -- this time inside Russia. More on what that could mean just ahead for you. And next, the historic first happening right now in space.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four, three, two, one, ignition, lift-off.


JARRETT: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft lifting off just a short time ago from the Kennedy Space Center headed for the International Space Station.

Let's bring in CNN defense and space correspondent Kristin Fisher now. Kristin, we've seen a couple of these in recent months. What's so significant about this mission, in particular?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT (via Webex by Cisco): Hey, good morning, Laura.

So, this mission is really a science and research mission to the International Space Station, and so NASA really looking at the impacts of long-duration space flight on these astronauts. And the reason that is so important Laura is because NASA, of course, is gearing up for its Artemis program -- the return of American astronauts to the moon and someday, Mars. So they want to see how these astronauts do when they're up at the International Space Station for extended periods of time.

And that is particularly important for one astronaut on this mission, in particular, Jessica Watkins. Laura, she is about to become the very first Black woman to spend an extended period of time up at the International Space Station or a long-duration space flight as that's called.

And NASA has said that when they return American astronauts to the moon, they want one of the first people to touch down on the moon to be a woman of color and a person of color. They want a woman and person of color. So, this is really -- this mission is about training these astronauts to potentially, someday, be on one of those Artemis missions.

Now, we got to see this spectacular launch just a few hours ago from the Kennedy Space Center. These four astronauts -- NASA astronauts onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket inside a Crew Dragon capsule. They're going to spend the next 15 hours or so on this mission to the International Space Station. When they get there the hatch will open. They will be greeted by the NASA astronauts currently up there, and even some Russian cosmonauts. Of course, very interesting given the current geopolitical tensions over the situation in Ukraine.

And Laura, it's not just the launch we got to see -- the landing, too. That booster return at night always spectacular if you've never had a chance to see it.

JARRETT: Yes, very cool, very cool.

All right, Kristin, thanks so much -- appreciate it.

FISHER: You bet.

JARRETT: All right. Thanks so much for joining me today. I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.