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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Senate to Vote Today to Protect Roe, Vote Expected to Fail; U.S. Intel Chief Says Putin's War Likely to Get More Unpredictable; Journalist Shot While Covering Conflict in West Bank; Threat of China Invading Taiwan Has Grown. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 11, 2022 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, May 11th. I'm Christine Romans.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. It is 5:00 a.m. We are ready to go.

ROMANS: We are.

JARRETT: And we begin with last night's Republican primaries and some mixed success for former President Trump's preferred candidates. CNN projects Congressman Alex Mooney will win the GOP nomination in West Virginia's second congressional district. Mooney credited Trump in his victory speech last night.


REP. ALEX MOONEY (R), PROJECTED WINNER, WEST VIRGINIA 2ND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: I also want to thank President Donald Trump for his endorsement. For his endorsement and support of my campaign. When Donald Trump puts his mind to something, you better watch out. Donald Trump loves West Virginia and West Virginia loves Donald Trump.


ROMANS: Now, Nebraska showed Trump a little less love. CNN projects hog farmer Jim Pillen will beat Trump's preferred candidate for governor Charles Herbster. The businessman, farmer and rancher had been accused of sexual misconduct by eight women which he has denied. Trump defended Herbster at a rally in Nebraska earlier this month claiming he's a fine man who has been badly maligned.

JARRETT: The Senate votes today on a bill that would codify into law a woman's right to seek an abortion. It's all following the leak of that draft Supreme Court opinion of course overturning Roe vs. Wade. Now the bill would need 60 votes to pass, so it really has no chance in this 50-50 Senate, but Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer says today's vote will put every member of the Senate on the record.

Meantime Republican leader Mitch McConnell clarified or at least tried to clarify that comment about a federal abortion ban nationwide being, quote, "possible" if Republicans took back the Senate while still refusing to rule it out.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The word possible referred to the Supreme Court's decision if in fact that becomes the decision, makes it possible. The best evidence of that is that the Democratic leader is going to have us vote on it.


JARRETT: All right. Joining us now to discuss, CNN political analyst Rachael Bade, of course co-author of "Political Playbook."

Rachael, good morning.

ROMANS: Hi, Rachel.


JARRETT: It's interesting to see how McConnell has twisted himself in knots on that one. And we're going to get to that, but I want to start with the Democrats because they're the ones bringing this issue to the floor today. They don't have the votes. So what's the play here by Leader Schumer?

BADE: Look, there is policy clearly afoot here with Democrats wanting to codify abortion protections, a choice for people around the country. But there is also politics here. Chuck Schumer, he is looking at the midterms right now and Democrats know that nationwide the idea of overturning Roe is very unpopular. So they want to sort of paint this contrast with Republicans so that they can go out on the campaign trail and say, look, vote for Democrats right now because we're the ones who are going to protect you.

Notably up until this point, the midterms have very much centered on inflation, people's pocketbook concerns. And when it comes to that issue, Democrats are really hurting right now. So they are trying to change the subject to something they think will resonate with their base and drive out their base, but also potentially swing voters especially women in the suburbs that they could really use right now to try to hold their majorities.

ROMANS: Yes, that's the real trick for the White House, right? You know, the president yesterday against that backdrop of fighting inflation and lowering costs, but acknowledging, you know, there are only really a few levers the White House can use. It is the Fed that's the inflation fighter. They want to be talking about the extreme MAGA agenda as they call it and the fact that it is the pandemic and Putin's fault for inflation.

We know that the economy is issue number one for most Americans right now. Are the Democrats going to be able to navigate this and turn the attention on to abortion to keep voters engaged for midterms?

BADE: Look, I think that it's the sort -- you know, we're not sure yet at this point where this is going to go and how much they're going to be able to pivot the conversation. If you look at polling obviously it's very unpopular to overturn Roe. We're going to have some polling out later this morning at "Politico" and "Morning Consult" that's going to show you that a lot of voters, who are the majority are saying in this polling that it is important to them to vote for a candidate who supports choice and who supports abortion rights.

So these are indicators that Democrats are looking to to sort of see hope that they can change the topic, but again, over and over again as you just said, people are saying that inflation is their number one concern right now. So it's going to be a real challenge for them. And we also have to sort of acknowledge that we haven't seen the final decision yet on this case.


I mean, could the justices go a totally different way when this comes down in June? Perhaps. And that would obviously upend this entire strategy Democrats are laying out this week.

JARRETT: Yes, those seems unlikely based off from the reporting and the few leaks that we do have out of the Supreme Court. It seems unlikely that they're going to go a totally different way. But as you said, we'll see what the actual language of the opinion looks like.

Meantime, you say Mitch McConnell gave Democrats a political gift with this whole dustup over talking about a nationwide abortion ban and it being possible. My question for you, are Democrats capitalizing on that opportunity? Are they capitalizing on that gift from McConnell?

BADE: Absolutely. I mean, I think within just a few hours of McConnell saying this is all a bunch of women's rights groups blasting out press releases, holding up these comments to say this is why Democrats need to keep both chambers of Congress. If you don't want a nationwide abortion ban, then you've got to show up at the polls and vote Democrat.

And, you know, Maggie Hassan, who is running for re-election in New Hampshire, she is already putting ads on the air where she is trying to link what McConnell said to a bunch of Republicans who are running against her right now saying if you want, you know, choice protected, if you want women's rights protected, you've got to vote for me.

So, yes, and I think that's why you saw at the beginning of the segment you saw McConnell sort of sputter trying to say possible doesn't mean it's going to happen, it might not happen, it may or may not happen, but the reality is Republicans support a lot of these nationwide bans. And there is a big chunk of Republicans who would love to pass legislation doing just that. So it's definitely something that Democrats are seizing on to scare voters and to say turn out and vote for me.

JARRETT: All right. Rachael Bade, always great to have you. Thank you.

BADE: Thank you. Good morning.

JARRETT: Coming up next, a journalist gunned down on the West Bank. Questions about who fired the shot.

ROMANS: Plus the shortage of baby formula, we're going to separate fact from fear. What parents should and should not do.

JARRETT: And later, a dramatic story, it raises the question, you don't know how to fly a plane, what do you do?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly the airplane.




ROMANS: Ukrainian forces appear to be holding their ground and have retaken some territory from Russian troops but the top U.S. spy chief doesn't see the war ending anytime soon. In fact, she believes a more dangerous period is ahead.


AVRIL HAINES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: And the current trend increases the likelihood that President Putin will turn to more drastic means including imposing martial law, reorienting industrial production or potentially escalatory military actions to free up the resources needed to achieve his objectives as the conflict drags on or if he perceives Russia is losing in Ukraine.


ROMANS: CNN's Melissa Bell is live for us this morning in Lviv, Ukraine this morning.

Good morning, Melissa. Ukrainian officials now confirming that Monday night's strike on Odessa was by a hypersonic missile. What more can you tell us?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think that's crucial particularly in the light of what you just heard there from Avril Haines, with fears in American intelligence of escalatory steps. And really when you look at those types of missiles and what they mean and the way they're used, it's not just their speed but of course the fact that they're so effective at avoiding detection by missile defense systems, the crucial nature of those to the war in Ukraine going forward with that mammoth $40 billion bill now working its way through Congress, and Ukraine looking to acquire more missile defense systems, I think this sends a very strong signal from Moscow that they will not be stopped, that they are going to look at continuing to use ever more sophisticated weaponry in their attempt to gain more territory in Ukraine.

And when you look at a map of the country, the strategic importance of Odessa, we also heard from Avril Haines yesterday speaking in front of that Senate committee that what we've seen so far were beyond the gains they're trying to make in the Donbas region and of course the taking of Kherson, the importance of that, the water supplies of Crimea, but the further west they move, the fear Avril Haines says is that perhaps they're looking to get an entire land bridge that would take them all the way to Moldova, and those breakaway regions that Moscow already control so clearly.

So that gives us a hint of what the Russian strategy may be to the south of the country. And that really, Christine, gives you an idea of why Ukrainian officials and Ukrainian president specifically is so pleased about what's been happening in the north of the country. Kharkiv, that city so horribly pounded by Russian artillery these last couple of months, now Ukrainian officials talking about the fact that four towns to the north of the city, so just south of the Russian border, have now been recaptured as a result of that Ukrainian counter offensive, crucial to regaining the momentum in their efforts to stop this war -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much for that, Melissa. Laura?

JARRETT: This morning questions surrounding the death of a journalist who was gunned down in the West Bank. CNN's Hadas Gold is live in Jerusalem for us.

Hadas, what do we know about what happened here?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, Shireen Abu Akleh was a veteran correspondent for Al Jazeera who has been working as a correspondent in this region for decades. Well-know and well-respected. What we know is that this morning she was shot and killed while on assignment For Al Jazeera in the West Bank town of Jenin.


A second journalist Ali Al-Samoudi, was also shot but he is in stable condition. This is according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Now Shireen was in the West Bank town of Jenin to cover Israeli military operations that were ongoing there. Jenin has been a focus of Israeli military operations in response to a series of attacks in Israel. Many of the attackers have been from the Jenin area. Al Jazeera is directly blaming Israeli forces for her death, saying that they call the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable.

Here is what -- I want you guys to listen to another journalist Ali Al-Samoudi, who was also injured, here is what he said about what happened this morning. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALI AL-SAMOUDI, JOURNALIST, AL JAZEERA: We were going into film the army operation. Suddenly one of them shot at us. They didn't tell us to leave. They didn't tell us to stop. They shot us. The first bullet hit me. The second bullet hit Shireen. They killed her with cold blood because they are killers specializing in the killing of Palestinians. They're claiming Palestinians killed her. There were no resistance groups near us. If the resistance was there, we wouldn't go to that area.


GOLD: Now in video that we are seeing in the direct aftermath, it is very clear that Shireen is wearing a press vest and helmet. Now the Israeli Defense Forces saying that they were in the area for counterterrorism operations when they came under fire. They say the Israeli Defense Forces is investigating the event and looking into the possibility they say that the journalists were hit by Palestinian gunmen.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has also released a statement where he says that it appears likely that armed Palestinians who were indiscriminately firing at the time were responsible for the fortunate death of the journalist. He has also called on the Palestinians to conduct a joint pathological analysis and investigation -- Laura.

JARRETT: A lot of questions here. Hadas Gold, thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Up next the new warning from a top American spy about China's plans for Taiwan.

JARRETT: And later, a scare in the sky after a passenger learns the pilot can't fly the plane.



JARRETT: Welcome back. A top intel official is raising the alarm about the future of security for Taiwan. Testifying at a hearing on global threats, the director of National Intelligence says Beijing would prefer to take over neighboring Taiwan peacefully but is preparing to do so militarily despite U.S. support for the island.


HAINES: It's our view that they are working hard to effectively put themselves into a position in which their military is capable of taking Taiwan over our intervention.


JARRETT: U.S. intel officials say the threat to Taiwan between now and 2030 is acute.

Let's go live to CNN's Will Ripley in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei. Good morning, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Laura, the real question here is what is the United States actually going to do if China were to move on Taiwan. And I think that is what -- and that's what analysts say the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his military leaders are really looking at right now. They're watching and they're studying Ukraine, they're studying the Western response and wondering if it would be similar or different if the island of Taiwan were invaded.

Obviously there's a lot of different factors at play here. For example, one, just the geography, it's much more difficult to invade an island than it would be, you know, with Ukraine sharing a land border with Russia, but you also have China with this massive growing military, they are catching up with the United States in missiles, in outer space. They still have a long way to go when it comes to submarines and aircraft carriers.

But to have the United States intelligence agencies say that the threat between now and the end of this decade is acute, that is why Taiwan continues to try to build alliances and friendships with countries around the world even as China might be attempting the United States to take over, they're not entirely convinced that they're going to have to do that. They might feel that politically they can use disinformation campaigns to plant fake news on Facebook and spread rumors on the ground here, and that might get them what they want.

So right now what the U.S. believes is that they're watching Ukraine to figure out how and when, but definitely not if China will make a move on Taiwan. And that is what is so striking by this, Laura.

JARRETT: Will, thank you for your reporting as usual.

ROMANS: OK. So President Biden is assuring Americans he feels their pain at the grocery store and gas station. The president called inflation the number one challenge facing American families today placing the blame on the pandemic and Russia's war in Ukraine.

To try to cool prices for consumers, the president now considering dropping more tariffs on Chinese-made goods. $350 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods remain. Businesses have urged him to end them because those costs are passed on to consumers.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're discussing that right now. We're looking at what will have the most positive impact.


BIDEN: No, I didn't say that.


BIDEN: I'm telling you we're discussing it and no decision has been made on it.


ROMANS: In just hours, the latest official reading on consumer prices is due. We will scour that report for any sign that inflation may have peaked.

JARRETT: You will scour that report for any signs that inflation will have peaked.

ROMANS: There is no silver bullet for this White House. There is growing concern I will say among many people that this COVID lockdowns in China, that's going to persist in terms of the supply chain problems. There's just a lot of cross-currents in the global economy right now that make it really difficult to say that the worst of inflation is behind us.

JARRETT: Just when we thought we were coming out of this thing.

All right, a name from the past is about to take power in the Philippines.


ROMANS: And new evidence that a baby formula shortage is getting worse. We have the facts and what parents can do about it.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfortunately for me, I can't breastfeed my kids, I depend a lot on formula or else my kid can't eat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You'd think it wouldn't be a problem to be able to feed your baby, but now it's really scary.


JARRETT: It's something a lot of parents are talking about right now. Growing concern about a shortage of baby formula.