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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Families Of Americans Detained Abroad Rally At White House; Amber Heard's Attorneys Present Case After Depp Rests; Report: 1.9 Job Openings For Every Unemployed Worker In March. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 04, 2022 - 05:30   ET




MARC TICE, FATHER OF AUSTIN TICE: And to me, that makes the potential for a real sea change because when the president is behind something, the rest of the system falls in step and makes things happen.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring in CNN State Department producer Jennifer Hansler. Jennifer, his mother was highlighted at the Washington -- White House Correspondents' Dinner this weekend. And the White House Correspondents' Association asking the president please, he's been in Syria, held captive for 10 years.

What else did the Tice family say about that meeting with Biden?


The Tice family is saying it's progress that they were even able to sit down with the president earlier this week, as you mentioned. This came after the White House Correspondents' Association made this request that the president meet with the Tice family.

Of course, Austin was kidnapped in Syria while working as a journalist in August 2012. And they said that the president gave them support for their efforts that are underway to bring him home, as well as though that could create positive movement on his case.

And one of the things the Tice family has been pushing for, for years, is for the U.S. government to engage directly with the Syrian government to try to bring Austin home. Right now, the U.S. government does not have diplomatic relations with the Syrian government due to the brutality of the Assad regime. However, they hope that we will be able to engage with them directly to try to bring Austin back to the United States after this long time. So they said this is a very important first step --


HANSLER: -- to meet with the president. ROMANS: You know, there are other families with loved ones detained abroad who will be in D.C. What can you tell us about their visit? They're trying to raise awareness of their family members who are being held around the world.

HANSLER: Well, that's exactly right, Christine. There are more than a dozen loved ones of family members who have loved ones who are detained overseas all over the world and they are hoping, just like the Tices, to secure a meeting with the president in the hopes of bringing those loved ones home.

Now, they are calling themselves the "Bring Our Family Home" campaign. And one of the organizers, Alexandra Forseth, told me they also want people to understand these are not just individual cases around the world but, rather, a pattern of injustice that is being carried out against Americans all over the globe.

Alexandra's father and uncle are detained in Venezuela as part of the CITGO 6 group of men who have been there for years. However, there will be family members who have loved ones detained in Afghanistan, Iran, and, of course, Russia.

Elizabeth Whelan, who is Paul Whelan's sister, will be there. He remains detained in Russia after more than three years. The family of Trevor Reed, who was just released last week, will also be there -- his father and sister -- and they are hoping to bring awareness to loved ones who are detained abroad.

I should also note that Elizabeth Whelan did get a call this weekend from Secretary of State Antony Blinken who told her that Paul's case remains a priority for the U.S. government -- Christine.

ROMANS: A priority for the government.

Jennifer Hansler, thank you so much for that. Thank you.

There are also new developments on an American basketball star being held in Russia. We've got more on Brittney Griner ahead.

And Amber Heard taking the stand against Johnny Depp as early as today.



ROMANS: Welcome back.

Amber Heard's legal team now center stage after attorneys for her ex- husband Johnny Depp rested his defamation case against her. Their first witness, a forensic psychologist who testified Heard was a victim of intimate partner violence that led to post-traumatic stress disorder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAWN HUGHES, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Ms. Heard's report of intimate partner violence and the records that I reviewed is consistent with what we know in the field about intimate partner violence, characterized by physical violence, psychological aggression, sexual violence, coercive control, and surveillance behaviors.


ROMANS: Amber Heard, the actress, could testify as early as today.

I want to bring in Julius Kim, criminal defense attorney and former assistant D.A. in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Good morning.

You know, yesterday we heard a psychologist hired by Amber Heard's legal team testifying that the actress was subjected to sexual abuse by Johnny Depp. How much influence do you think this testimony will be moving forward?


I think it's going to be very powerful because one of the things that Amber Heard has to establish as part of her defense of this case is the fact that the abuse actually happened. Truth is a defense to an allegation of defamation, and so bringing a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist in to talk about the fact that they believe someone may have been the victim of abuse is powerful testimony.

ROMANS: We know that Amber Heard and her team -- they never wanted this trial to be televised, to begin with -- and Depp has been on the stand making his case in front of the public now for weeks. How might her testimony change, I guess, the court of public opinion here?

KIM: Yes. I think that this is her opportunity now to present her side of everything. For almost two weeks now -- for more than two weeks now, Johnny Depp has been testifying to and presenting evidence that doesn't paint Amber Heard in a very good light, and that's because he's trying to paint himself out as the victim in the case. He's trying to establish that she was the aggressor in the case. That's his strategy.

But she's going to have an opportunity now to present her side and I think that a lot more facts are going to come out. Her side of the events that Johnny Depp has already brought out are going to come out. And I think that she's going to have a good opportunity and a real opportunity to prove that Johnny Depp was an abusive person himself.


ROMANS: How does Depp win this case, I wonder? I mean, he -- this is a defamation case about an op-ed that she wrote -- a piece that she wrote where she didn't mention him by name.

KIM: Yes, that's a very good point, Christine. I think that Johnny Depp's got a very tough case, quite frankly. And there is a law that says that if it's implied or someone can tell who the subject matter of untruthful words are, that can also -- that can also defame the person.

However, I think that Johnny Depp's got an uphill battle because he -- as a celebrity, he has to prove actual malice in this case, which means that he has to prove that Amber Heard intentionally tried to hurt him and say something that she knew or should have known wasn't true. But it seems to me from the testimony, so far, Amber Heard and all of her representatives and lawyers have done -- have went out of their way to make sure that Johnny Depp's name wasn't even mentioned or that he wasn't brought up as the person who actually committed these acts of violence against her.

ROMANS: All right, Julius Kim, criminal defense attorney. We will be watching again today. Thank you, sir.

KIM: You're welcome. Have a good day.

ROMANS: You, too.

All right, up next, a new move to hopefully help get Brittney Griner out of Russia. And almost five million people with the same two words for the boss, "I quit."



ROMANS: All right. The State Department says WNBA star Brittney Griner is being wrongfully detained in Russia.

Carolyn Manno is here with this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning, Carolyn.


Well, you know, everybody's not going to breathe a sigh of relief until she's home --

ROMANS: Right.

MANNO: -- but this is being viewed as a positive. It has been 76 days. That's how long she's been in a Russian prison. And the State Department's reclassification here is really an important and significant step in terms of wrongful detention. Now they're going to try to bring her home.

Griner being accused by Russian authorities of smuggling cannabis oil into the country -- a narcotic. She's scheduled for a court hearing on May 19. But the wrongful detention designation means that the government will not have to wait for Griner's case to move through Russia's legal system to move more aggressively to secure her release.

The recent release of Trevor Reed, an American prisoner successfully returned home from Russian detention last week, marks a successful negotiation between Moscow and Washington despite the invasion in Ukraine.

The WNBA will honor Griner with her initials B.G. and her number 42 along the sidelines of all 12 courts when the season opens on Friday. The league says it continues to do everything it can to help bring the Phoenix Mercury star back home.

Meantime in the NBA Playoffs, a physical start to game two between the Warriors and the Grizzlies. Memphis forward Dillon Brooks ejected less than three minutes into the game. Brooks chasing Gary Payton down from behind on the fast break, hitting him in the head as he went airborne. Payton coming away with a fractured left elbow there. The league will now decide if Brooks is going to be suspended for that.

And with one of the Warriors' best defenders on the sideline, Ja Morant went off -- 47 points, including the final 15 of the game for the Grizzlies.

Memphis wins by five to even the series at one game apiece. Game three is Saturday in San Francisco.

The Celtics evening up their series against the Bucks in record- setting fashion last night. Boston draining 20 threes, the most in franchise playoff history. Jaylen Brown was on fire early and scored 25 of his game-high 30 points in the first half alone. The Celtics roll (ph) by 23 as the series shifts to Milwaukee for game three on Saturday.

The Heat and the Suns can take a 2-0 nothing lead in their series tonight. You can catch that one at 7:30 eastern on our sister channel TNT.

Meantime in the NHL Playoffs, Penguins and Rangers in their own version of the New York City marathon at Madison Square Garden. This one almost over in regulation. Filip Chytil's game-winning goal for New York waved off in the final minutes of the third after a challenge ruling that the Penguins' goalie had been interfered with.

So, after giving up a 2-goal lead early in the game, the Rangers thought they had it in the bag. They take this one into triple overtime. And after more than 105 minutes on the ice, it was Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin who put an end to it.

New York goaltender Igor Shesterkin had a franchise-record 79 saves but it was not enough. The Penguins take game one 4-3 -- the final there.

And lastly, for you this morning, the Yankees Aaron Judge hitting his (audio gap) games -- Toronto -- excuse me. But watch the fan make the catch before giving it to a young fan in a Judge shirt. His reaction is just priceless. Isn't that so sweet? And it's pretty sweet to be a fan of the pinstripes right now, too, Christine. They are on an 11- game win streak.

But I just -- I love that interaction so much. You can see what it means and what a selfless gesture there paying off.

ROMANS: That is awesome.

MANNO: Yes, really sweet.

ROMANS: Very awesome.

All right, Carolyn Manno. Nice to see you this morning. Thank you.

All right. The morning after a primary night in Ohio. What did we learn about the power of Donald Trump? And why quitters are winners in today's job market.



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

Looking at markets around the world, Asian shares have closed for the morning. You can see Asian shares -- if you pull up that screen for me we can -- oh, I'm not going to pull up that screen. We don't have that screen. Let's take a look at what happened yesterday on Wall Street as stocks ended all higher, led by energy and healthcare stocks.

The main event today, the Federal Reserve and interest rates. It's the Fed's job to tame inflation. Inflation running the hottest in 40 years. The Fed could hike official interest rates by half a point today. That would be the biggest rate increase in decades after a quarter-point increase in March.

Higher interest rates will make borrowing for a home, a car, and credit cards, and other debt more expensive. So you have been warned. Higher rates are coming, folks.

More evidence of the great resignation. Look at this. A record 4 1/2 million Americans just up and quit their jobs in March. The number of open jobs also rose -- 11 1/2 million open jobs. That is the highest level in more than 20 years.

The overall quits rate moved up to 3%, a level not seen since last December. Quits increased most sharply in professional business services, as well as construction.

Let's talk about this a little further with Jessika Hatchell, a partner and recruiter at Vaco, a major U.S. recruiting firm.

I've never seen anything like this. There are about 1.9 job openings -- essentially, there are two open jobs for every unemployed worker in March. That is just remarkable.


What are you seeing here? What are companies doing to try to get people to apply for jobs?

JESSIKA HATCHELL, RECRUITER AND PARTNER, VACO (via Webex by Cisco): Thank you for having me this morning.

It is remarkable. You know, we're in a growing city where companies are relocating every day and need to hire. But what's really interesting is now that companies are more open than ever to remote workers, there's no longer a salary benchmark for one particular geographical area. It's more a national average. So, salaries have increased dramatically.

The other thing we're seeing is that working from home has become the new unlimited PTO. It's something that people are just demanding as part of their package.

ROMANS: Yes, and I think that is -- I mean, so many companies I think thought two years after COVID they would get everybody back into the office. But I think remote is something we're hearing that workers want, right? They need that flexibility.

HATCHELL: Yes. We're definitely seeing that it's something that's important to them. I think the biggest concern is loss of culture or work product. But what we're actually seeing is that if we back up and do the right hiring of the right talent we're actually seeing more engagement with teams when people are present in the office. More heads down work -- higher work quality when they're home. And let's be honest, everybody enjoys their weekend more when the laundry was done during a conference call. So --

ROMANS: Exactly, exactly.

You know, we've called this the great resignation but some have called it the great upgrade. In many cases, people are quitting jobs and they're going to better jobs. They're repurposing their education.

Are you seeing that where people are saying take this job and shove it? I'm going to get something better, higher-paid. I want this.

HATCHELL: Yes. I definitely think people have pivoted and started to take inventory about what's most important to them, and that's different for everyone. But for some, it is upgrading their skillset; some, it's their environment; and some, their pay.

ROMANS: What about recent college graduates? What is their position in the jobs market right now?

HATCHELL: It's very interesting. You know, without having a lot of experience but having more education than those before them, it's an interesting time for them to jump into the job market. It really depends on the industry that they're in and what type of role they're going for.

ROMANS: What about older professionals who have been in their respective business for years and now they're looking maybe for a new role or they've stepped back during COVID and trying to get back in? What are you telling those people?

HATCHELL: Well, what's interesting is that now we have this amazing reset and we're more open to letting people kind of start over and find a new skillset. So I think it's an exciting time for those who want to do that.

ROMANS: As a headhunter, what's your advice for people who are looking for a job right now in this market?

HATCHELL: Use your network, show up, be your best, and just know that the opportunities are going to present themself for the people who are responsible with their autonomy.

ROMANS: I just -- I've got to say, in your business, I just have never seen conditions like this. I mean, after the great recession there were like seven workers for every available job. And now, it's flipped upside-down. You have all of these open jobs in this war for talent.

HATCHELL: You're absolutely right. I mean, in a dozen years, I've never seen it like this. Many of my colleagues have worked together 20 years. Two and three years ago we could have never predicted this. But I think what's true is that we always continue to evolve and we'll be better for it as we get forward.

ROMANS: One thing I was noticing is some companies are starting to offer their workers help paying student loan debt -- interesting. A perk that more and more companies are doing because they're trying to get people to stay. They don't want them to quit and go someplace else and take their skills someplace else. That war for talent is just so big they're getting creative with their packages.

Jessica Hatchell of Vaco recruiting, thank you so much for stopping by this morning. Thank you.

All right, and thanks for joining me this morning. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now.