Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Expresses Concern Putin Can't Find A Way Out Of War; McConnell: Federal Abortion Ban Is "Possible"; Sources: Oath Keepers Cooperating With January 6 Investigators. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 10, 2022 - 05:30   ET



NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: 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 the fight, then the -- he could lose his position of power in Russia. And that's the position he is in right now. His forces aren't making significant gains.

How is he going to sell this and how is he going to back out of this, particularly if the Ukrainian forces can make gains and push Russia off territory that it has taken control of? Those are big ifs and big questions. But this is what President Putin is faced with -- a war that he won't be able to sustain over the long term that isn't making the -- isn't achieving the goals that he wants to achieve.

And not an easy way out for him to come out of it as if he is a successor and a victor, and a smart, strategic thinker. His own political leadership in power in the country and relevance is at stake and that's why it appears that President Biden is saying he's struggling to find a way out. But does this mean that President Biden thinks that Putin actually is looking for a way out? That doesn't -- certainly doesn't appear clear on the battlefield.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, and it just -- to me, it just sounds like more suffering for real people.


ROMANS: You know, just more suffering.

All right, Nic. Thank you so much for that -- Nic Robertson.

JARRETT: Still ahead, forking over the goods -- phones, files. We have new reporting on what some Oath Keepers are now revealing about January 6.

ROMANS: And why many Republicans are now throwing cold water on the idea of a national abortion ban.



ROMANS: All right. The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill quickly and unanimously on Monday expanding security for family members of Supreme Court justices after recent protests outside some justices' homes.


PROTESTERS: Our bodies! Our voice!


ROMANS: Abortion rights supporters marched to the homes of justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, and Samuel Alito after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion indicated that Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

The U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement Monday it was helping respond to increased security concerns.

JARRETT: Meantime, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is using his perch to criticize Democrats for forcing a vote this week on shoring up abortion rights.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Leader Schumer wants the Senate to vote again on a Democratic bill that would effectively legalize abortion on demand through all nine months. Their bill is written to protect abortionists rather than mothers.


JARRETT: The bill isn't about abortion on demand and the bill doesn't contemplate abortion through all nine months. That's what's known as a strawman. It's about codifying Roe v. Wade -- something Democrats see as urgent, perhaps even more so after McConnell was quoted saying a national ban was possible if Republicans picked up seats in the upcoming midterm elections. It's a plan so bold even members of his own party are now throwing cold water on it.

Joining me now to sort all of this out is Zachary Wolf, CNN Politics senior writer. Zach, so great to have you this morning.

Let's start with some simple math here. A national ban on abortion would require 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. McConnell doesn't have 60 votes to do a national ban. But then, in the same breath he's saying he doesn't want to blow up the filibuster. He would never blow up the filibuster to get it done if the Republicans actually took back the Senate.

So, which is it?

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER (via Webex by Cisco): Well, this is Mitch McConnell, so we have to kind of look at what he's saying and then look at what he's doing. And we also need to remember that the person who blew up the filibuster for Supreme Court justices was Mitch McConnell.

JARRETT: Yes. WOLF: So while he's saying he will always protect the filibuster, he did more I think to undermine the filibuster than any single human in history. He's also protecting it now.

I think that we have to assume that there aren't the votes to blow up the filibuster because it just doesn't seem like there are. Democrats have tried to do it. They were unable to do it. Republicans are going to be even more unwilling to do it.

And we also have to look at just the votes themselves. It doesn't look like there are 50 votes for the Democrats' proposal to codify Roe v. Wade into law. And by the same token, because there are several Republicans who describe themselves as pro-choice, there aren't the votes -- 50 votes to do the opposite -- to put a nationwide ban. So I think we're kind of stuck at the federal level where we are, at least for now.

JARRETT: Yes, that seems to be where we are -- sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place for both sides.

It's interesting, though, that McConnell's colleagues sort of distanced themselves pretty quickly from his -- from his talk about a national ban. And I wonder if your sense is that they know this isn't a winning issue for them in the midterms even though abortion has certainly been an animating issue for the conservative base.

The polling shows that the economy is actually still top of mind for people -- even people who identify as pro-choice.

WOLF: That's right, and it's those people -- it is people who might have voted for Democrats in the past who are worried about the economy -- that Republicans want to vote with them in November to gain control of the House. So if they start talking exclusively about abortion they will get the people who support banning abortion already support that for the most part, I think -- Republicans. So they need to find people in the middle and if all they're talking about is abortion they're not going to get those people.

JARRETT: Talk to me about what's going on with Sen. Susan Collins. She says that she supports abortion rights -- she has historically -- but she doesn't want to sign on to the Democratic bill shoring up Roe v. Wade, essentially codifying Roe's pre-viability rules on constitutional rights for abortion.

What do you understand her concern to be and if it is actually just this issue about Catholic hospitals providing abortions and she doesn't -- she wants -- she doesn't want to make Catholic hospitals have to provide abortions? Why not just have a carveout for that?


WOLF: Well, that's a good question. So, Democrats could easily put a carveout for that into their bill. They don't want to do that. Collins doesn't want to bend at all. She has her own proposal that is a little bit more general with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the other Republican who supports abortion rights. So nobody's willing to bend here, which means that we're just going to have another vote like we did back in February.

And Collins, I think we should point out, describes herself as pro- choice. She voted for these two Supreme Court justices that now appear likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. And now, she describes herself as pro- choice but she doesn't want to support the pro-choice move in the Senate. So it's like every -- a lot of people want to describe themselves as what they are but what they actually do is vote to essentially not do that.


WOLF: And so, I think we all need to pay attention to that.

JARRETT: Yes, it is curious. If you actually think that you've been lied to by these justices and that they have actually reversed their position, it is curious that she wouldn't want to find some way to do something about that.


JARRETT: All right, Zachary Wolf. Thank you -- appreciate it.

ROMANS: It's great to have Zach on.

JARRETT: Always good.

All right. Just ahead, how the hunt ended for a former prison guard and the accused killer she apparently helped escape.

ROMANS: And why journalists are trying to get a look at some secret court documents involving former Trump aide Mark Meadows.



JARRETT: Forty-five minutes -- back now.

Sources tell CNN leaders of the far-right Oath Keepers group have been cooperating with the FBI, even sharing details about efforts to dig up election fraud and their communications with people in Donald Trump's orbit.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz is live in our Washington bureau this morning. Katelyn, what have you learned? This sounds fascinating.


This investigation is expanding as -- and as it's doing that it's sweeping in massive amounts of information. So, people's phones, firsthand accounts, thousands of encrypted chats. And this is related to the Oath Keepers largely, but also others, so the number of people who have shown even a small amount of cooperation so far is pretty large. Here's what that looks like.

So, first, there is a woman named Kellye Sorelle. She's a lawyer with the Oath Keepers. She told CNN she's helping the FBI.

There's Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers. Before he was arrested for seditious conspiracy he, too, spoke to the FBI.

There's also Ali Alexander, the Stop the Steal organizer. I've learned that he's been responsive to a recent grand jury subpoena.

There are also eight criminal defendants who have now pleaded guilty and signed up to cooperate.

And finally, there is an informant we learned about last week -- a person who taped what the Justice Department says is a planning call among the Oath Keepers in November 2020. On that call, Kellye Sorelle brags about how she is in touch with the campaign.

Now, speaking to people in the campaign isn't necessarily illegal and it isn't charged in -- as a crime in any of these cases. But there is this pattern that's emerged where people in the Oath Keepers appear to have believed they could reach Donald Trump or people around him.

And so, Laura, we're learning new examples of this regularly. That includes a call one cooperator overheard on January 6 of Stewart Rhodes trying to reach Trump, as well as a signal chat that's part of the evidence in the Oath Keepers case, where the group leaders were texting prominent right-wing figures about security around the January 6 rallies.

JARRETT: Wow, that seems pretty significant. It will be interesting to see what exactly were people in Trump's orbit or Trump saying back. Obviously, we're seeing some of these one-way communications but the question is what do all those back and forth exchanges look like?

Katelyn, thank you for staying on top of this.

ROMANS: All right, 48 minutes past the hour. Let's get a check on CNN Business this Tuesday morning.

Looking at markets around the world you can see Asian shares -- we'll pull that up -- all lower here. Oh, it looks like Shanghai popped about 1%. You've got Europe opening higher here, bouncing back. And stock index futures also popping a bit here.

Look, maximum market stress, as one analyst warned. A year of stock market gains wiped out in a market shaken by the war in Ukraine, a global energy shock, and rapidly rising interest rates.

Big losses again Monday. Nearly 2% off the Dow. The S&P 500 dipping below 4,000.

And it was a true tech wreck. The Nasdaq tumbled almost 4.5%. Rising interest rates continue to crush tech stocks. And get this -- the Nasdaq has lost a quarter of its value this year.

Not long ago, the forecast was for cooling gas prices by Memorial Day. The opposite has happened. AAA says the national average for regular, $4.37 a gallon, racing about the record high set in March -- up 17 cents in just the last week.

Context here. To match an all-time record adjusted for inflation, you're going to have to see gas prices about five bucks a gallon to feel like the record set in 2008. But still, this is -- every time you fill up you can tell the difference.

Diesel prices are also spiking. The national average, a record $5.54 a gallon, up 49% -- 49 cents, rather, in a month.

The good news here, the oil market taking a breather for now. Oil prices fell sharply Monday -- the steepest one-day decline since late March. Crude tumbled 6% to just above $103 a barrel. This is the flip side of what Ronna was talking about earlier, right? Bad news in the markets; good news in the real world. But watch this space.


You know, we've been hearing so many -- and I've covered this stuff for a long time. I've never seen a period like that. There is so much happening -- cross-currents happening and a big -- just adjustment happening in global markets and the global economy. It's remarkable. There's no way to predict what's going to happen next.

JARRETT: And all happening at once.

ROMANS: Right.

JARRETT: It's hard to predict where it goes next and the source.

Still ahead, the mysterious deaths of three Americans on vacation in the Bahamas.

ROMANS: And the dramatic end to that 11-day manhunt for an escaped prisoner and the prison guard he fled with.



JARRETT: Just hours after being named the new head coach of the Sacramento Kings, Mike Brown steps in as the acting head coach for the Golden State Warriors playoff game.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, COVID strikes again.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, unfortunately, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr tested positive for COVID just hours before tip-off last night. So Mike Brown, just hours after being named the next Kings coach, had to fill in as the Warriors' head coach last night. Now, Brown has been Kerr's top assistant for the past six years, so he was ready.

Now, Grizzlies star Ja Morant was out for this one with an injured knee, but Memphis still looked like they were going to pull this one off to even the series. They led by seven entering the fourth quarter. But Steph Curry then got the Warriors going. He scored 18 of his 32 points in the last period, including making eight free throws in the final 45 seconds.

The Warriors scored 39 in the fourth, which was more than they had in the entire first half. They would win 101-98 to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.

And after the game, Curry spoke about his interim head coach.


STEPH CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS GUARD: A lot of history was made. He's made head coach twice in 24 hours. I felt like we got traded to the Kings overnight. I don't know how to explain all of this. We're obviously happy for him and his next gig, but for him to step up with the last-minute call with Coach Kerr out -- so it's what we're about.


SCHOLES: All right. Elsewhere, the Bucks and Celtics facing off in game four last night. Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo throwing down a monster one-handed dunk early in the third quarter. He gets a technical foul for staring down Al Horford and the 15-year veteran didn't take kindly to that.


AL HORFORD, BOSTON CELTICS CENTER: I don't really know what he said to me but the way he was looking at me and the way that he was going about it really didn't sit well with me. And at that point, I think that something switched with me.


SCHOLES: Yes. So later in the game Horford returning the favor and drives past Giannis, and he's going to go all the way in for the monster slam and the foul himself. He was all fired up. Horford finished with 30 points, the first time in 132 playoff games he's scored that many -- as Boston gets a big win 116-108 to even that series. Game five is tomorrow night.

A funny moment late in this game. Is it possible to pick up a 7-footer while you are also on the ground? Apparently not. Marcus Smart was trying to help Giannis up -- struggled to help him up. A funny moment we didn't really get to see there. He decided to give up. But the Celtics get the win.

Pivotal game fives tonight on TNT. The Heat and Sixers tied at two. So are the Suns and the Mavs. Game five winner in a 2-2 series ends up winning 82% of the time.

All right, to baseball. The Cleveland Guardians were down 8-2 to the White Sox entering the ninth. They rallied to 8-4 with two outs. And Josh Naylor steps up and smacks a grand slam to tie the game, so we go to extra innings. Then, in the 11th inning, tied at nine -- Naylor up again and he comes

through again. This time he hits a 3-run home run. It would give the Guardians a 12-9 win over the White Sox.

I'm not sure what we're seeing here.

Naylor, the first player in baseball history to hit two 3-run home runs in the ninth or later in the same game.

All right -- and finally, the Suns -- they were back in Phoenix getting ready for game five when Coach Monty Williams got a surprise from his family.



Coach Monty Williams surprised with Coach of the Year award by his children.


SCHOLES: Yes, Monty's children delivering their dad the NBA Coach of the Year award. He led the Suns in the best record in the league and a franchise-record 64 wins in the regular season.

And guys, Monty said of the surprise, it was so stinking cool. And that it was.

ROMANS: That is awesome.

JARRETT: So cool. Thank you, Andy.

ROMANS: All right, Andy. Nice to see you.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: And thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Christine Romans.