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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Corrections Officer Who Fled with Inmate Dead After Car Chase; Today: Biden to Outline Steps to Fight Rising Prices; Russian Strikes Hit Shopping Mall, Two Hotels in Odesa. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 10, 2022 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, May 10. I'm Laura Jarrett.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans. So nice to see all this morning.

Let's begin with a spectacular climax of a true crime drama that grip the nation. A car chase and a crash that ended the hunt for two fugitives, a former corrections officer and the accused killer that she helped escape from prison.

CNN's Nadia Romero has more on the final moments of the 11-day manhunt through three states.


SHERIFF RICK SINGLETON, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: It ended the way that we knew it would. They are in custody.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A defiant and triumphant Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton, detailing what happened when U.S. marshals captured Corrections Officer Vicki White and inmate Casey White.

First, this F-150 truck and Casey White spotted at a car wash in Evansville, Indiana, reported to Alabama authorities Sunday night.

SHERIFF DAVE WEDDING, VANDERBUGH COUNTY, INDIANA: After the vehicle was located a while back, we at least knew they may have been in our area. But I couldn't believe that they have remained here.

ROMERO: Monday, U.S. Marshals found him in a hotel in Evansville. That's when Marshals say the two fled police in a gray Cadillac. Casey White was driving, Vicki White in the passenger seat. U.S. marshals pinned their car. They ended up in a ditch. Casey white surrendered, but U.S. marshals say that Vicki White had a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. She died from those injuries Monday night.

SINGLETON: It's a small agency. We're like family. Some of these younger deputies, she was like a mother figure to them. I know that they are going to take it hard. ROMERO: Sheriff Singleton says that Casey White will be brought back

to Alabama for his arraignment.

SINGLETON: He's not getting out of this jail again. I can assure you that.

ROMERO: The Lauderdale County district attorney says that he is focused on the victims of Casey White and the family of Connie Ridgeway. Casey White is set to stand trial for capital murder charges related to Ridgeway's death this summer.

The Lauderdale County district attorney says his office will be ready.

CHRIS CONNOLLY, LAUDERDALE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: After finally being able to indict him for her murder, having these twists and turns in the case, it's got to be devastating to them. Look forward to bringing them to justice.

ROMERO: Nadia Romero, CNN, Lauderdale County, Alabama.


JARRETT: Nadia, thank you for that.

Still a major re-question remains unanswered in this case. Why? Why would a corrections officer with 20 years in law enforcement help an inmate escape?

Listen to her boss.


SINGLETON: You don't know who you can trust. I had every bit of trust in Vicki White. She had been exemplary employee. What in the world provoked her, prompted her to pull its top like this, I don't know. I don't know if we will ever know.


JARRETT: Joining us now, Laura Bedard, chief of corrections for the Seminole County, Florida Sheriff's Office.

So nice to have you. Really appreciate you coming on to break this down.

How in the world does this happen? A corrections officer could find herself in a high-speed chase with an inmate. Is this manipulation? Is this love? Something in between?


Yes, it's something between. Inmates are very clever and they work on staff to get them to do what they want the staff member to do. So, my guess is that this was a romance that began a couple of years ago. It started small with maybe Casey White giving compliments to Deputy

White. And then slowly asking her for small favors, and eventually they established a relationship. And here is what always happens, is the staff member things that they are the exception to the rule. They know the relationship with the inmate is wrong. It's improper. It's unprofessional.

But they always think that they are the exception to the rule. And I think that's what's happened in this case. It is an American tragedy.

ROMANS: Yeah. You know, Chief, she sold her house. She had thousands of dollars in cash. She announced that she was going to retire, right?

JARRETT: She had a plan.

ROMANS: She had a plan here, apparently a car waiting at some point. Some of these reports that she had gone shopping for men's clothing. So there was a plan here. Just remarkable to think a law professional could be manipulated like that.

BEDARD: They watch everything we do in this profession. So, inmates watch us. They listen to casual conversations that we might have within earshot of them. They gather that information and then when the opportunity arises, they pounced on it. And I'm guessing that what happened in this case.

Look, my thoughts and prayers go out to her family and to her colleagues who work in this very honorable profession.

JARRETT: Take a listen to something that a U.S. Marshal told Anderson Cooper last night about what he said after the capture.



MATIN KEELY, U.S. MARSHAL, NORTHERN ALABAMA: We've got Casey White out. He immediately announced that his wife had shot herself in the head and that he didn't do it.


JARRETT: Does that strike you as odd? The first thing out of his mouth is, I didn't do it.

BEDARD: It does strike me as odd. And I think the forensics will find the truth to that story. Whether he killed her or she did in fact take her own life. Either way, it's a really tragic and to an otherwise noble career for her.

ROMANS: Yeah, you could hear so many of her colleagues along the way of this 11-day manhunt, had said they didn't see any of this coming. That this was somebody they trusted.

There were rules broken though. She should have never been able to check out an inmate on her own, right, to take to a mental health evaluation that didn't exist. I mean, there were some red flags along the way, but maybe --

JARRETT: After action.

ROMANS: Yeah, exactly.

Laura Bedard, Seminole County corrections chief, thank you so much. Nice to see you.

JARRETT: Appreciate it.

BEDARD: Thank you so much.

JARRETT: Later this morning, we will hear President Biden's plan to combat high prices for working families.

ROMANS: Plus, what the president said about Vladimir Putin when the TV cameras weren't around.

JARRETT: And Mitch McConnell called it, quote, possible, but what are the real chances of a national abortion ban?



ROMANS: Fighting inflation, issue number one for this White House.

Later this morning, the president -- President Biden will talk about his plans to fight inflation, the key anxiety for voters. Consumer prices climbing over the past year, despite, or probably because of frankly a strong job market and rising wages for workers.

Polling suggests voters blame the president for higher prices at the gas station, at the grocery store, 56 percent or 55 percent say that his policies made the economy worse.

CNN's Jasmine Wright live in Washington for us this morning.

Jasmine, how does the president plan to lower prices, lower costs for working families?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN REPORTER: Well, this plan today is basically steps that the administration has already taken, but are now refocused to frame the issue on inflation. It's an issue that has dogged the administration for months, and the president specifically really tugging down on his approval numbers and frankly the White House is looking for a winning message here.

So, White House official says that the president will talk about ways that he has tried to lower energy costs. Putin's price hike, is something that they call it by releasing 1 million barrels of oil a day from the strategic reserve. We'll talk about lowering costs of everyday goods that Americans have witnessed really the prices skyrocket by addressing supply bottlenecks, and boosting domestic policy, and domestic food production across the country. And he will talk about his proposal to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans and on corporations.

And something potentially as important as the steps that he's going to align today is really the counter measuring that he's going to take against what he's calling MAGA Republicans for the last few days and weeks here. And I say that it will look to counter proposal by Florida Senator Rick Scott that the White House says will raise taxes on about 75 million Americans across the country. And now, the White House said continuously that Republicans have weaponized the issue of inflation, despite the fact and this is their own words here, that Republican policies have not reduced prices for Americans overtime.

So this is going to be an important speech today, not only for the president to speak directly to the American people, telling them look, we are looking for you here, but also trying to test out this messaging as midterms come closer and closer and closer.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks so much, Jasmine. Nice to see you.

I want to bring in Rana Foroohar, CNN global economic analyst and columnist at "The Financial Times", and author of the book, "Don't Be Evil".

Rana, the White House has to show that fighting inflation is issue number one. Has taken unprecedented steps so far, what more can they do?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You know, Christine, it's a great question. I'm not sure there is much more they could do. I mean, you know, it's true that a lot of this inflationary pressure right now is coming from outside of the country. The war in Ukraine is absolutely a factor. Supply chain issues are a factor. And we forget about that a lot of China's still locked down from COVID.

You know, there are these pressures that the president really cannot impact. To be fair, the stimulus following COVID in this country did add some heat. The economy, no question about that. But the biggest issue, Christine, and you and I have talked about the sometimes, is the fed.

It's -- you know, we are coming off the back of an unprecedented money dump in the last decade plus. And, you know, low rates, up until recently. And just yesterday, the fed warned that higher inflation and rate hikes, that they are going to have to combat, are going to potentially destabilized the market. So, it's a really, really tricky environment for the president. In that he is battling long term issues, many of which he does not have a lot of control over.

ROMANS: Yeah. I mean, I've been sort of compiling a list of market watchers are saying we can do in the near term, right? Drop the China tariffs for example. Or cut themselves consumer goods, potentially you could temporarily state the Jones Act, which would allow you to ship loyal and indifferent, way cheaper. You could have a federal tax holiday. You could raise immigration for example to fix a real worker shortage.

I mean, you can also have Congress address the lack of affordable housing. There are real policies that will take Washington doing its job to fix some of these longer term, but I don't hear these conversations.


FOROOHAR: Well, you know, these are all great points and I would agree with you that there are things that can be done. But almost everything you're mentioning there with the exception of perhaps of, you know, some of the issues around oil or tariffs are going to involve Congress, you know, and they are going to involve bipartisan cooperation.

China tariffs, lifting those, you know, maybe helps at the margin. But again, I think that you also lose some leverage in bigger negotiations with China, that are actually important for inflation in the overall economy long term.

So, you know, I think that the White House is a really tough spot. And I hope that in his speech today, Biden says to the American people, as well as talking about the problems in supply chains with the war, he says look, we've had a decade plus of easy money, that we have to get inflation down. The Fed has to act.

Yes, there's going to be paying, but I think it's important that the president say the truth of the American people. But it would be unfair I think of us to put the blame for all this on this administration, I just don't see it that way.

ROMANS: Yeah, it is in the midterm election year. So, there could be blame putting it unfairly all over the place because that's the way this game works.

You know, Rana, more than a year of games wiped out in the S&P 500, market stress signals are high. That was a warning from the UBS strategist just this week. A note from Deutsch said that we live in the most chaotic macro economic times in decades.

And I would agree. I wonder if the bill has come do, for all that you just mentioned. And stock market investors are seeing an adjustment to this reality.

FOROOHAR: A hundred percent. You know, the Fed is warning about just that. This is a big deal for the Feds to say, you know, hey investors, we may see a big correction and it may be unpredictable.

You know, they said training conditions are going to be worse than they've been, you know, and I think that we are getting ready to pay the very large bill. Not just post-2000 and, a post-financial crisis. But if you look really at the last 40 years, I mean, we've never, with the couple of exceptions, been when interest rates have been rising for sometime and inflation is probably going to be with us for sometime.

So we have a generation for people in the market who's never seen an environment like this. So, you know, buckle up. ROMANS: So, let's bring it to consumer and to the worker. Right down to the typical American, Rana, because we just laid out a whole bunch of things that none of us can control, frankly. I think it's important to point out that the stock market is not the economy, and the stock market is not necessarily what's happening on Main Street.

The fact is, wages are rising, so is your grocery bills, so as your gas bills. We still have a shortage of health care workers. We still have a shortage of child care workers. Tell me, what is the state of a typical American.

FOROOHAR: Great point. I'm glad you raised it. It's funny too because sometimes, what happens on Wall Street, is actually inverse of what's happening on Main Street. Stocks have been really up for the last few years, but many people have been felt very secure, they haven't felt a recovery.

Yes, wages are rising. That is the really good news. There is still a red hot labor market, we just saw that last week with the figures that came in. That is part of the inflation story, of course.

But it's a balancing act, right? I mean, we are looking at food and fuel being more expensive for more people. Certainly in the short, even in the midterm. But I don't see the labor market cooling off anytime soon, either.

You know, I think, ultimately, some of this inflation is going to make companies probably more technology hire a few. People but they just can't do that. I mean the market is very tight.

So, you, know I think that we are going to be suffering from inflation that is going to be working people the hardest. But it's also a very good time to be in work and to be looking for a job. People want to hire and you can get premium for it.

ROMANS: That's true.

All right. Rana Foroohar, CNN global economic analyst, nice to see you this morning. Thank you, Rana.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

JARRETT: Such a good conversation.

ROMANS: I always love talking with her. I mean, it just -- you know, from way up 30,000 foot to right down Main Street.

JARRETT: Well, and to bring it back down to reality. A lot of big issues, microeconomics, what does it actually matter in peoples lives is always the question for us.

Still ahead for you, a civilian shopping mall up in flames after a Russian attack. The latest from the ground in Ukraine.

ROMANS: And President Biden 's stern message to his own national security team. What he says needs to stop. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


JARRETT: Now, to the war in Ukraine. Russia is escalating its attacks on Odesa, in the southern Ukrainian city, resulting in widespread devastation across the city on Monday. Ukraine says Russia has fired three hypersonic missiles, hitting a shopping mall and two hotels.

CNN's Isa Soares is live for us in Lviv, Ukraine.

Isa, good morning. What are you learning about casualties from this latest strike?

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very good morning to you, Laura.

Well, President Putin certainly did not reveal his hand on Monday. But his troops are not holding back, pummeling the city of Odesa, as you said, really with strikes -- missile strikes being fired from ships as well as some marines.

What we have seen, you what you're looking on the screen there is the impact of those strikes. The impact that some witnesses would say were felt 25 miles away. And what officials are telling us they hit, not only a shopping mall, but luckily was not open at the time but they also hit two hotels in Odesa.


We have been hearing from authorities that one person has died. And several others, Laura, have been injured.

As they were pounding Odesa, we have seen also the president -- European commission president -- European Council president, I should, say having a talk of Odesa with the prime minister of Ukraine. In fact, the Ukraine prime minister tweeted out a photo of the fact they have to shelter, they have to bunker from the strikes as they toured the city.

So, this is happening. It's increasing -- the hostility increasing near Odessa in the last 24 to 48 hours or so. And if I stay in the south, but go south east to Mariupol, if you remember, soldiers there pretty much to holding their ground despite the fact that Ukraine says that Russian forces are trying to mount an attack. We have learned, in the last few minutes, Laura, from Ukraine and officials that 100 or so officials are still thought to be inside.

Remember, over the weekend, women, children and the elderly were evacuated. But now we're hearing that about 100 civilians are still inside. In the meantime, those soldiers, roughly 600 or so, many of them wounded. Still holding their ground even planted a Ukrainian flag on top of the Azovstal steel plant, Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Isa, thank you for your reporting as usual.

ROMANS: All right, President Biden selling a bill Monday aimed at speeding military aid to Ukraine. The new law passed bipartisan support in the House and the Senate. Speaking of the signing ceremony, the president reiterated the importance of supporting Ukraine despite the expense.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The atrocities that the Russians are engaging in are just beyond the pale, and the cost of the fight is not cheap. But caving to aggression is even more costly.


ROMANS: The president is also calling on Congress to pass a nearly $40 billion Ukrainian aid bill immediately, existing aid, is set to run up in about ten.

JARRETT: Meantime, President Biden is warning the top national security officials that the leaks about U.S. intel-sharing with Ukraine has got to stop.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president was displeased with the leaks. His view was that it was an overstatement of our role, an inaccurate statement, and also an understatement of the Ukrainians role and their leadership, and he does -- did not feel they were constructive.


ROMANS: International diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, is live for us in Helsinki, Finland.

Nick, just last week the White House tonight providing direct intel to help the Ukrainians target and kill Russian generals. They pushed back on that reporting. And then again, you hear Jen Psaki pushing back again, downplaying the role of the U.S. Why?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There is no doubt that the intelligence that the United States can provide to the Ukraine, the intelligence of what Russia is doing over the horizon and outside of Ukrainian forces are potentially beyond their technological capabilities to see for themselves, could potentially be divisive on the battlefield. Decisive in terms of targeting tanks, of targeting clusters of forces that are getting ready to launch in advance, all those sorts of things, the things that we saw around Kyiv, the long lines of stranded Russian tanks that became easy targets for the Ukrainian forces that were decisive there.

For the United States, though, to openly say that it is providing that information and it's having strategic losses on Russia, such as key battleships and key generals, the risk would be there that it could trigger Russia to escalate, not only against Ukrainian targets, but potentially more overtly against the United States or NATO partners. And that would be the concern. That information about precisely what intelligence is provided is on a very close hold. And the president clearly appears to be concerned that any way that it

leaks out could undermine the position that the United States -- the careful position that the United States and NATO is taking in this fight at the moment.

ROMANS: You know, Nick, the President Biden set off camera that Vladimir Putin cannot find a way out of his war on Ukraine. Can't find a way out? What's the significance of that?

ROBERTSON: It is significant that the president thinks that. It is also significant that Putin doesn't appear to be looking for an exit at the moment. But he did yesterday, in his, speech said very limited bound for what he wants to achieve, at least for the Russian population, telling them just Donbas.

It appears he does want to take Odesa. He does want to take at least the -- along the -- all the way along the Black Sea coast, and the south of Ukraine.

But, President Putin is so tied to the narrative of the war, he's so tied to the war, it is his war, if he appears to lose.