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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden Visits Buffalo Today to Comfort Families, Confront Racism; FDA Outlines Plans to Help Families; Voters to Decide Key Primaries Today. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 17, 2022 - 05:00   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Tuesday, May 17th. I'm Laura Jarrett.

Glad to have you back.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you. Good morning, Laura.

I'm Christine Romans. We are here in New York.

And we begin this morning with the President Biden. President Biden traveling today to Buffalo to meet with families and victims of Saturday's racist mass shooting. A White House official tells CNN the president will not just acting a consoler in chief, he also plans to be confronter in chief, calling out hate, the kind of bigotry that floods the 180-page screed the alleged shooter thought to have posted just before the attack. This diatribe lays out the suspected gunman's racist beliefs and details of his planned assault.

Among the victims, 86-year-old Ruth Whitfield who stopped for groceries, she had just returned from visiting her husband in the nursing home. Her son spoke to CNN's Omar Jimenez.


GARNELL WHITFIELD JR., SON OF RUTH WHITFIELD: One of the things that we as a family wanted to ensure is that we call it what it is, it is white supremacy, it is hate, it is racism, it is bigotry. We got to call it what it is and stop beating around the bush and take it head- on because it is proliferating, it is not getting better.


ROMANS: CNN's Jasmine Wright is for us in Washington.

Jasmine, as you just heard, the families are calling for officials to confront racism head-on and it seems like that is what the president plans do today.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's exactly right, Christine. A White House official says that the president is expected to address the racist motivations that led to this shooting and he is expected to really condemn them, but also call on Americans to embrace diversity, the thing that makes this country really America frankly America here. So we will see the president and first lady travel today to Tops market to pay their respects, they will meet with family members of the victims and then the president will deliver remarks.

Now, in those remarks, a White House official is expected to condemn the shooting as terrorism motivated by a hateful and perverse ideology that tears at the soul of the nation.

Now, we've heard him utter that phrase especially back on the campaign trail in 2020 where he said that the election against President Trump was a battle for the soul of our nation. And he said that what prompted him to run in the first place was seeing that Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville with those white nationalists.

So, clearly, this is the moment where President Biden feels like the work in this area is nowhere near complete and he is expected to lean in. Something else a White House official told us we can expect the president to talk about today is that he will tell Americans to give hate no safe harbor, and really reject the racist lies that led to the shooting. And he also see the president really call on Congress here to essentially prevent those who have mental illnesses with getting any type of weapons.

Now, of course that is going to be added to the long list of things that this president has really offered, put on the table trying to assert some type of gun control that have seen no legislative success here, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Jasmine, thank you so much for that.


JARRETT: Now, in addition to state charges against the 18-year-old suspect in this Buffalo massacre, prosecutors are also working to bring federal charges in the coming days. According to the Erie County D.A., local law enforcement in Buffalo is hearing about, quote, a lot of other threats since that shooting. Some of them even making reference to the shooting at Tops grocery store.


JOHN FLYNN, ERIE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This is what's going to happen if you make threats. You are going to get arrested and then I am going to prosecute you. So let this case send a message out there to any tough guy or anyone who wants to be cute out there and sending messages or threatening anyone, or threatening to do anyone or putting anything on social media, I will find you. And I will away you. And I will prosecute you.


JARRETT: A source tells CNN federal officials have briefed local law enforcement nationwide on the details of the Buffalo case so that they can head off possible copycat attacks. ROMANS: All right. To another shooting now, police in California

identifying the suspect in the shooting at a Taiwanese congregation in orange county as 68-year-old David Chao from Las Vegas. Investigators say the evidence suggest Chao was a Chinese immigrant motivated by hate for Taiwanese people.


DON BARNES, ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF: We do know that based on information we've collected, and I'm not going to go into the details of the evidence, it was a politically motivated hate incident, a grievance that this individual had between himself and the Taiwanese community at large.



ROMANS: The attack left a prominent local doctor dead, five other people injured. Officials say the suspect had locked the exits with chains and placed explosives at the scene before his attack.

JARRETT: That doctor who died in that church shooting is being remembered as a hero who likely saved dozens of lives before losing his own. According to witnesses, 52-year-old John Chang, a well-known sports medicine doctor, ran across the room toward the gunman as he began firing at other parishioners.


BARNES: Dr. Chang charged the individual, the suspect, attempted to disarm him, which allowed other parishioners to then intercede, taking the suspect into custody. Without the actions of Dr. Chang, it is no doubt that there would be numerous additional victims in this crime.


JARRETT: Dr. Chang leaves behind a wife and two children.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, new guidance from top pediatricians, what some families can use if they cannot find baby formula.

JARRETT: Plus, it's primary day in America. Voters deciding on key races in several states.

ROMANS: And how long-held secrets about UFOs could spill out into the public today.



JARRETT: There are new developments multiple fronts when it comes to this nationwide shortage of baby formula. The FDA has reached a deal with Abbott that could have their Michigan plant back up and running within two weeks. The FDA also says that it is making it easier to import formula from abroad and this, the American Academy of pediatrics now says that parents can substitute whole cow's milk if no formula is available for babies over 6 months old.

Here to discuss all this is Dr. Ali Raja, executive vice chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Mass General Hospital. He's also professor at Harvard medical school.

Dr. Raja, so nice to have you back on EARLY START bright and early.

So, this is a little confounding I think for a lot of parents like myself. We were always told, do not give your baby whole milk until at least one year. There are concerns about obesity. There's concerns that their bodies just can't handle it.

So, with all of that cautious, or maybe too cautious in the first place, or is this new guidance just a sign of how bad things are?

DR. ALI RAJA, EXECUTIVE VICE CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: I think it's the latter. I think the fact is that we definitely -- first of all, kids under the age of six months definitely shouldn't be included in this. But the American Academy of Pediatrics has said that for kids between 6 and 12, cow's milk is an option. But like you said, all of us who have had children have thought that you really can't do it until 1.

And you hit the nail on the head, there is a few different reasons. First is that cow's milk really doesn't have enough iron in it. And in a small proportion of kids, it can actually lead to a little bit of intestinal bleeding. Not a dangerous amount, but that lowers your iron amount more.

So, the AAP is recommending if you do decide to do cow's milk, that you talk about potentially getting iron supplementation. But you're right, the cow's milk often doesn't have enough protein -- I'm sorry, has too many of some proteins like calcium. And so what happens then is that the infant's young kidneys are trying to filter all that out and sometimes they can't hold on to enough water and so cow's milk conversely can actually lead to some dehydration in kids whose kidneys just can't handle it.

So, we've talked about for years not doing that. Like you said, it has gotten pretty bad.

JARRETT: So we're just creating another problem to solve the first problem.

RAJA: You're right, the better of alternatives that are not great. We've heard people are diluting their infant formula, which can low levels of sodium and seizures and all sorts of bad news. So, this -- if you can't do anything else, this is the way to go.

ROMANS: Right. It's breast milk or it's infant formula until one year if you can. We've got other doctors tell us, look, you know, you might have to switch infant formulas and some parents are freaking out because they want their specific kind of formula. But you might have just to switch formulas. Last case is the cow's milk. RAJA: Yes, you are totally right. And I get how hard it is to switch

formulas. I remember with our kids, there was one that they liked and that was it. But if you can't find anything else, please don't make your own. Please don't dilute your formula. In that case, go to cow's milk.

ROMANS: The guidance says you can feed babies over six months, whole cow's milk for a brief period of time until the shortage is better. How long is a brief period of time in your view?

RAJA: Yeah. No, that's a great question. We're just figuring this out. I don't have a firm recommendation there. What I've seen from the "AP" online, is we're talking about a week or two. Fortunately with the Abbott plant maybe opening up soon, we might see more formula in the next few weeks. But not -- we're not talking long term and this is not going to apply once the formula is back.

JARRETT: And you mentioned that Abbott plant which I know it is hoping to get back online with obviously the federal government I'm sure monitoring it. But for parents at home who are looking at this and looking at all these companies now looking to their plants perhaps abroad to try to fill the gaps here, what safeguards are in place to give parents comfort that when all these companies are rushing to crank out the formula, that we're not going to skip some steps along the way?


RAJA: That is such a great question and obviously everybody is worried about it. I think in some ways, what has happened at the Abbott plant should actually reassure parents that the FDA is doing its job.

The fact is that they went back a couple of times and kept finding problems. And then shut the plant down. And that is what we want happening, right? And those infections truly have teeth and we should feel comfortable knowing that.

ROMANS: Yeah, this part of -- this product shortage is not like toilet paper or chicken wings or the other things we've had to go through. This is so critical. This is so critical. So I understand why parents are so upset and we thank you for all of the straight talk.

Dr. Ali Raja, thank you.

JARRETT: Thanks, Doctor.

RAJA: Thanks, Christine and Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Coming up for you, plans for a state takeover of the happiest place on Earth?

ROMANS: And primary day for a TV doctor who wants to be a U.S. senator.


ROMANS: It is Election Day, it is. In about an hour, first voters will line up for the last day of primary voting in several key states. The first polls close at 6:00 tonight.

The spotlight is on Pennsylvania. In the Republican Senate primary, TV personality, Mehmet Oz, endorsed by former President Trump, is facing off against former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and conservative activist Kathy Barnette. Barnette is trying to claim the MAGA mantle without the endorsement of the former president.

JARRETT: Now, on the Democratic side, Lt. Governor John Fetterman is hoping to hold off Congressman Conor Lamb and State Congressman Malcolm Kenyatta. Fetterman is also recovering from a stroke we learned over the weekend.

ROMANS: And let's bring in Chris Borick, political science professor and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.

Chris, welcome to the program. Thanks for getting up bright and early with us on Election Day.


ROMANS: We know the world is watching Pennsylvania tonight. Who has the most momentum going into Election Day?

BORICK: Well, it seems like momentum is on the side of Kathy Barnette. She's really emerged in the last week or so in a round of polls as being in the same general area as Oz and McCormick. She seems to have caught fire largely as McCormick and Oz have had to deal with the negatives that they have built up around each other. And so in the last week, most of the polls that were coming out showed them all around the same amount in the mid-20s.

JARRETT: Well, that's one of the things that we'll see, the power of the Trump endorsement. He, of course, has backed Dr. Oz. He says that he has known him for a long time. He is obviously a TV personality like the former president.

In Pennsylvania, is Trumpism bigger than Trump himself?

BORICK: We're going to see that. That is a great test that is going on right now. Certainly, the former president's endorsement of Dr. Oz has lifted his campaign. I think without the president's endorsement, a lot of his liabilities as this Hollywood RINO would make it pretty difficult for him to get a broad enough appeal within the Republican primary electorate in the state.

So the president's endorsement has kept him in the race. Will it be enough to push him over the edge? I think that it will be very, very close. The polls again have shown that he has never been able to break free despite the president's endorsement. David McCormick and Kathy Barnette are very close in the polls. But certainly, Oz's fame helped draw the president's support for him and we'll see if that is enough to push him over the line.

ROMANS: Yeah, fame and name recognition maybe.

Democratic candidate John Fetterman suffered a minor stroke, we're told. But he's doing well in the hospital. Any impact on the race other than everybody wishing him well here at this point?

BORICK: Yeah, I don't think a lot. First of all, Democrats are more likely than Republicans in Pennsylvania to vote early, vote by mail. So a big chunk of Democratic votes had already been cast before the lieutenant governor's health situation emerged.

Also, he's had a pretty big lead in the polls. His brand is fairly powerful and unique especially in Democratic electorate circles in the Commonwealth. And so it looks by all measures that this should not have any impact. His challengers have not been able to do a lot in terms of the issue other than wish him well and a speedy recovery.

JARRETT: All right. We'll see where this goes.

Political science professor Chris Borick, thank you so much, Professor. I appreciate it.

BORICK: It's my pleasure.

Well, tonight is the night, election night in America. Primary races in five states. Find out which candidates will come out on top with CNN's Erin Burnett, Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper. Special live coverage starts tonight at 7:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

ROMANS: All right. Just ahead, why the Biden administration is redeploying U.S. troops to Africa.

JARRETT: And flying saucers taking center stage on Capitol Hill today.



JARRETT: Now to the war in Ukraine. After weeks of relentless Russian shelling, hundreds of people have been evacuated from the steel plant in Mariupol.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live in Lviv, Ukraine, this morning.

Suzanne, the Ukrainian military says this means its forces have now, quote, completed their combat mission. Is this another way to say that the city has fallen to the Russians?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, outside of the steel plant in Mariupol, essentially the residents have been under Russian control and Russian hands for weeks now. Inside the steel plant however, this is really considered a symbol of the last Ukrainian resistance, living resistance.

So, of course, there is some uneasiness and really just saying that it is all folded at this point. There have been hundreds of these Ukrainian military inside the steel plant trapped with no food, no water, supplies. Their relatives say wounded so badly some of them don't even have limbs.

And we saw yesterday this evacuation, really a deal that was struck to get them out, Ukrainians describing it as a rescue mission here, but many of them also being described as heroes.