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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

First Lady to Visit Romania; Amber Heard Fires P.R. Team Ahead of Testimony in Defamation Trial; The Judd's Inducted to Country Music Hall of Fame; Warriors Hold on for Last-Second Win Over Grizzlies; Home Prices Skyrocket and Squeeze Families. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 02, 2022 - 05:30   ET



VLADISLAV DAVIDSON, ATLANTIC COUNCIL FELLOW: Thank you for having me. Good morning. The experience was in a word exhausting. We were 16 hours on the road. He is an old man. He is a very tough old man. He's a sailor. He's got the body of a 60-year-old man, but he was born at the end of the Second World War. He's in his late 70s. He is almost 80, and a 16 hour trip by taxi to a ferry to a bus to a train to another taxi is never easy for anyone, but when you're closer to 80 than 70 it's even more taxing.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN EARLY START HOST: Talk to me about what you're seeing there, Odessa, a city that you love so much. What was it like you say to witness a strike on the airport there?

DAVIDSON: Well my mother-in-law - bless her memory - who was - who died recently because of COVID was air traffic controller at that airport, so my father-in-law lives a few minutes drive from the airport, and he watched the missile strike from his window, watched the black smoke rise above the airport, and it caused tremendous stress in the city right before the anniversary of the trade union fire when pro-Russian and pro-Kyiv activists fought each other in 2014 for control of the city.

Also May 9, Victory Day for the Russians in Europe is coming up, and there's a lot of tension in the city as the Russians try to frenetically create some sort of victory before their annual military parade around the Kremlin.

ROMANS: Yes, we know there have been punishing strikes as he tries to find some sort of success story that he can sell back home to the Russia people. Talk to me a little bit about morale. What is morale like for citizens, for troops, for people who are dealing every day in this neighborhood with Russia's invasion?

DAVIDSO: The invasion is causing tremendous tension in the city. It's causing tremendous strife. It's causing tremendous sense of, you know, lost opportunity. Majority of the middle class and the intelligence say has fled, but most of the men fighting that are still there (ph).

As it happens, my own family - I've about 16, 17 relatives in the family. I've taken about six of them out. I hope not to have to do this trip over and over again. It's becoming quite tedious crossing the border in and out. I've been out through the Romania, the Polish, and the Moldovan border in the last month. It's not so fun doing this over and over again.


DAVIDSON: I hope that the war concludes soon. And also just as a journalist I'm continuously torn between my roles as a - as a reporter and analyst where I have to have some sort of analytical distance from the situation. My role as a patriot of the country, my role as a family member, and my role as a - as when I arrive with my father-in- law in the refugee camp and I said, no, no. I'm an American citizen. I'm not technically myself a refugee. They're like, oh, have some tea.

So it's also I'm not going to complain, but it's also somewhat disorienting when you arrive on the border and they treat everyone who comes in the same, in a very gracious way, but they treat you as if yourself also a refugee, and it's somewhat disorienting. No, no, I'm an America. I have an American passport.

ROMANS: Right.

DAVIDSON: I'm a fellow of the Atlantic Council, so sometimes it's quite disorienting myself because it's not easy. I just want to say so many wonderful American volunteers on the Romanian border, people from Alabama, people from New York, people from Pennsylvania, just so many wonderful Americans, people who may not even hang out or know each other back home in America come together --


DAVIDSON: -- as Americans, as good Christians, as people of American values on the border helping people get out. It was very funny because I was taking out a couple of paintings that I own of my - with my father-in-law, and they say to me these nice people from Pennsylvania and Alabama, you're the first Ukrainian refugee I've seen on the border in a month who's travelling with his art collection.


ROMANS: Vladislav Davidson, Atlantic Council Fellow, thank you so much. Your family's lucky to have you advocating on their behalf.

DAVIDSON: Thank you.

ROMANS: Thank you, sir.

DAVIDSON: Bye-bye.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN EARLY START HOST: Just ahead, Amber Heard gets ready to take the witness stand this week in her court battle against Johnny Depp or rather his battle against her.

ROMANS: Plus putting a roof over your head in America right now, the struggle is real.




JARRETT: Testimony resumes later this morning in the defamation case brought by actor Johnny Depp against his ex-wife and fellow actor, Amber Heard. Just days before she's expected to testify, Heard has fired the P.R. team that she retained to handle crisis communications on this.

Let's bring in Imran Ansari, a trial attorney and legal analyst for the Law & Crime Network. So great to have you this morning. What do you make of her switching up her team in the eleventh hour, and what do you think it signals about how she thinks trial's going so far?

IMRAN ANSARI, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Yes, it's an unorthodox move because when you have a public trial like this you would imagine that both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard really thought this out in terms of a public relations aspect, but what I hear is that Amber Heard is unhappy with the now outgoing P.R. firm and unhappy with the headlines that have been coming out during the course of this trial.


There's been a lot of support for Johnny Depp. You see a lot of social media, articles, blogs going out that really seem to be supporting Johnny Depp is this legal battle, this very public legal battle that we have here, so I think Amber Heard is looking to switch things up on the eve of her testimony that we expect to come in a few days now.

JARRETT: So you say she's not happy obviously with the headlines and all the reaction to it, but how much can she really sway that court of public opinion, and does it really matter? The jury's not supposed to be listening to any of that, right?

ANSARI: Ideally, the jury is insulated from all this public hoopla and coverage and sensationalism. That's the practical, the ideal aspect of a trial, but the reality is - the reality is that in this information day and age it's very hard for some media or information not to really get to those jury's ears. Of course, that could lead to a mistrial if that's ever found out, but this is a really public trial. There's a lot of circus-like atmosphere outside the courthouse, a lot of supporters there.

And you know, the court of public opinion these days is almost as important as the court of law, but you obviously want that jury to be deciding this case on the evidence and the evidence alone that's coming into that courtroom, but Johnny Depp himself has stated that, you know, a large motivating factor of this lawsuit was to clear his name not necessarily only in the court of law but the court of public opinion.

Amber Heard also has those considerations. A very public trial, and her reputation, her public persona is all laid out here in this - in this court case, in this trial. So she has a very compelling interest also to sort of control the public narrative as this legal process plays out.

JARRETT: So pretend for a second you are representing her. What do you - what do you need to accomplish this week? How do you sort of take back the narrative if you when there are, you know, tapes of her saying, what, you think people are going to believe you are a domestic violence victim?

ANSARI: Yes, so truth is the absolute defense to a claim from - of defamation, which is the claims that Johnny Depp has brought against Amber Heard. So what I would be looking to establish if I was Amber Heard's attorney going into her case, the defense case, that this was true. That there was abuse in the relationship, that the op-ed piece that is the center of this litigation, the op-ed piece in "The Washington Post" from 2018 did not contain falsities, it was not made with actual malice, the statements that she penned in that op-ed piece, and it's not defamation because it's true that she was - the allegations are true that she was a victim of domestic violence.

So that's the key factor that her defense team have to do, but also what's important here is that Amber Heard also has counter claims against Johnny Depp.


ANSARI: So it's almost a lawsuit within a lawsuit. So she has to prove her claims against Johnny Depp also.

JARRETT: Right. All right, Imran Ansari, it's going to be a big week on that trial. Thank you so much, sir.

ANSARI: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: All right, a night of celebration and sadness as country music said goodbye to a legend in Nashville Sunday. The Judd's inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame just a day after Naomi Judd died. Naomi and Wynonna Judd, the mother-daughter duo, have been country music royalty for decades.

Let's bring in CNN's Chloe Melas. Chloe, a moving tribute by both of Naomi Judd's daughters.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Good morning. The timing almost poetic like one of their own country songs. Wynonna Judd and Ashley Judd, Naomi's two daughters, taking the stage to accept this incredibly high honor in country music to be inducted. They were inducted along side Ray Charles, Eddie Bayers, and Pete Drake. Who's who of country music were there; Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill. And they were really emotional obviously, right?

Ashley Judd getting up there, crying, saying that she wished that her mother could have held on for just one more day. The two daughters holding onto each other. They recited a bible verse, psalm 23. Wynonna then got up there and she said, look, I don't have anything prepared because I knew my mom was going to do most of the talking. She said I'm going to continue to sing. They thanked fans. They thanked everyone. And again, what Naomi Judd, Wynonna Judd, the Judds, they broke the glass ceiling for women in country music right up there with Dolly Parton. They paved the way for country music stars of today.

It was incredibly poignant, so sad, and fans were laying flowers outside. You know, again, the timing just awful, and hopefully we will get more details as to really what happened in those final days.


We know that it was mental illness in a statement that they released, but I know that fans by reading on social media still have so many questions, but again a really emotional and poignant night, but also nice that they were able to pay tribute to their mother.

ROMANS: I can't imagine what kind of strength it must have taken to get through that - get through that event and try to honor her, but just how raw and how all of this, the grief must be. Thank you so much, Chloe Melas. Nice to see you this morning.

MELAS: Thank you.

JARRETT: All right, let's get a little sports now. The Warriors holding on to get a huge last-second win to start their series with Grizzlies. Andy Scholes has more in this Monday Morning Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Laura. So game one of this Warriors-Grizzlies series is any indication of what the rest of the series is going to be like, we're in a for a treat because I'll tell you what. Yesterday was fantastic. We did have some controversy in this game, though.

In the second quarter Draymond Green here at the end of this play is going to smack Brandon Clark, pulls him down at the same time. After reviewing it the refs surprisingly gave Draymond a flagrant two, which is an automatic ejection. Draymond danced his way off the court. Now under a minute to go. Warriors are down to Klay Thompson. The pump fake and then nails the three to give the Warriors the lead. Steph Curry then coming up with a huge defensive play, blocks Ja Morant on that drive to keep the Warriors up by one. Klay, though, then missed two free throws. Grizzlies get one more chance. Ja full head of steam, but Klay alter that shot just enough, no good. Warriors win 117-116. Draymond greeting the team in the tunnel to celebrate taking a 1-0 lead in the series.


STEPH CURRENCY GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS GUARD: On the court we got Championship DNA, and we want to, you know, utilize that at this stage. Like that's what it's all about. You can never let go of the rope in terms of feeling knocked out (ph) in the game. So big win for us. To start the series with, you know, 1-0, you know, court advantage, get greedy in the second game.


SCHOLES: As the defending champion, Bucks meanwhile didn't have Khris Middleton for yesterday's game one against the Celtics, but two-time league MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo more than picked up the slack. Check him out midway through the fourth quarter spinning around Grant Williams and throwing it off the backboard to himself for the alleyoop dunk. Giannis nods to his (ph) second career playoff triple-double, and this one walk and cruise (ph) into a 101-89 win. Game two of that series is tomorrow night in Boston.

You got two more games tonight. The 6ers going to be without Joel Embiid as they take on The Heat in game one of their series while Luka Doncic and the Mavs will face the Suns. It all starts 7:30 Eastern on our sister channel TNT.

All right, to tennis where Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both slamming Wimbledon's decision to exclude players from Russia and Belarus at this year's tournament after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Nadal saying it was very unfair - a very unfair decision, and it's not the athletes fault about what's going on. Djokovic, meanwhile, who was barred from playing in the Australian Open due to not being vaccinated had this to say.


NOVAK DJOKOVIC, TENNIS PLAYER: Going through something similar earlier this year for myself. You know, it's frustrating knowing that you're not able to play. As I said, I still stand by my position that I don't support the decision. I think it's just not fair. It's not right. But it is what it is.


SCHOLES: All right, finally Kelsie Whitmore making some history yesterday. She played left field for the Staten Island FerryHawks, becoming the first woman to start a game in the Atlantic League. Whitmore went oh for two with a strikeout and hit by a pitch before being replaced in the eighth inning of a 10-5 loss. The 23-year-old played softball at Cal State Fullerton and signed with the Staten Island team on April 8. She made her FerryHawks debut in their opener on April 21 when she entered the game as a pinch runner in the ninth inning, but congrats to her for stating a game, guys.

And a big year for women in baseball. Rachel Balkovec became a manager in the Yankees organization. Alyssa Nakken coached first base earlier this season for the Giants, so pretty cool, you know, girls, right, now seeing some of their - or I guess people they look up to playing -




SCHOLES: -- on the big stage.

JARRETT: Yes, all long overdue.

ROMANS: Yes, giving play like a girl a whole new meaning, right?


ROMANS: Play really well. Thank you so much. Nice to see you, Andy.

JARRETT: Thank you, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: All right, new explosions on the Russian side of the border with Ukraine. We have live coverage just ahead.

ROMANS: And a red hot housing market creating vast wealth and huge inequality. We go to one of the toughest towns to find a place to live next.



ROMANS: All right, it's Monday. Let's get a check on CNN Business to start the week. Looking at markets around the world. You can see that Asian shares have closed mixed on the day, although a big pop in Hong Kong and Shanghai, and you can see that Europe has opened mixed here. On Wall Street, stock index futures leaning a little bit higher here. Stocks Friday dropped sharply reflecting a growing fear of a risk at least to have a recession. It was the worst month for the tech-heavy Nasdaq since October 2008 and the worst for the broader S&P since March 2020, of course, the start of the pandemic.

Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive, Warren Buffett, the oracle of Omaha, blasting Wall Street over one of his favorite targets for criticism, brokerages and investment banks. He complains large American companies have become poker chips for market speculation.



WARRNE BUFFET, CEO, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: The market has been extraordinary. Sometimes it's quite investment oriented, and other times it's almost totally a casino. And it's a gambling parlor. And that existed through an extraordinary degree in the last couple years.


ROMANS: Yes, this gambling as he calls it is just speculation. It's not investment, but it creates buying opportunities for Buffett when the casino as he calls it drives down the value of an otherwise good investment, he steps in, right? Berkshire spent an incredible $41 billion on stocks in the first quarter.

All right, so U.S. home prices are soaring. Rents are skyrocketing. People in South Florida feeling the worst of it. recently named Miami the least affordable rental market in America. Research from Redfin shows Miami also the told destination for home buyers looking to move. I want to bring in Emily Byrd, a Realtor in the Miami area for almost nine years. So nice to see you bright and early this morning. You know, sellers are making a fortune, but buyers are in the toughest spot in our lifetime. What does the competition look like for buying a house in South Florida?

EMILY BYRD, REALTOR, MIAMI FLORIDA: It is. First of all, thank you so much for having me on this morning. It has become extremely difficult for buyers and for renters moving to the Miami area.

I, you know, being in this business for over nine years, this is not indicative of what is going on in the market in my knowledge as far as having to obtain the property for my clients. You know, over the past couple years I am seeing rental hikes between 25 percent to 50 percent, and it is - you know, it just has become extremely competitive here in the Miami area.

ROMANS: Are people coming in with cash? I mean, you're getting multiple offers for homes. I mean, that's what - we're seeing that in parts of the northeast. We're seeing that, you know, sort of in Arizona, in San Diego. Is that what you're seeing where you are, too?

BYRD: Absolutely. I mean, we are in a place now where buyers are utilizing cash to purchase properties, but what really makes Miami a different playground is they are utilizing crypto now. And so, that is - has really become a different element when it comes to negotiating here in South Florida whereas the rest of the United States, you know, I think that that potentially will catch up, but it has caused for - it really has opened up the potential for foreign investors to utilize crypto to purchase property here in the Miami area.

I am starting to see a lot of new construction allow for buyers to use that as opposed to just using cash. So it's really become a different type of negotiating skill here in this market area.

ROMANS: Wow, I mean, just - I mean, that starts to look so bubbly when you're talking about, you know, cryptocurrency to buy properties. And I mean, that's step beyond the all cash offers. Quickly, mortgage rates are rising very, very fast. Any hopes that that cools things down as mortgage rates continue to rise?

BYRD: We're really hoping to see that. That has not - I'm not seeing that quite yet.


BYRD: You know, we - it still is a feeding frenzy. You know, I - even though mortgage rates have hiked for about 1 percent to 2 percent in the past couple of months we are just silting (ph) an exorbitant amount of people moving into the South Florida area for a myriad for reasons. So hopefully, you know, that will start to drive a little bit of a slowdown, but unfortunately I don't see that happening any time soon.


BYRD: With such a lack of inventory here, you know, it is potentially - you know, people are also renting, and it's just --


ROMANS: That's right. Just remarkable.

BYRD: -- across the board I am having - yes, I'm having to expose, you know -


ROMANS: What we've seen, yes.

BYRD: -- yes, some of my buyers and renters in areas I've never had to do before.

ROMANS: Just amazing.

BYRD: And you know, with - yes, and with a lack of materials as well it's causing massive delays, especially for new construction.


ROMANS: A perfect storm almost, right, with just a perfect storm.

BYRD: And -


ROMANS: Emily Byrd, we have to leave it there, Miami Realtor. It's so nice to talk to you this morning. Thank you so much, but thanks for giving us --


BYRD: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me on.

ROMANS: -- sort of the contours around what you're seeing there in the real estate market. It's just been remarkable across the country. Interesting that she mentions the material shortages, too.


ROMANS: All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

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