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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden: U.S. Will Not Send Ukraine Rockets That Can Strike Russia; Hurricane Agatha Now A Tropical Storm After Landfall In Mexico; Sen. Duckworth Leads U.S. Delegation To Taiwan Amid China Tensions. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 31, 2022 - 05:30   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going to send Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Natasha Bertrand is in Washington for us this Tuesday morning. Natasha, Ukrainian officials have said these types of weapons are critical to defeat Vladimir Putin, but it looks like President Biden is being careful here not to antagonize him. What's going on?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (via Webex by Cisco): He's being extremely careful and this has been the subject of intense debate within the administration -- the idea that the U.S. should send these multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine that have an extremely long range. And it's been -- they've been wavering kind of for weeks on whether to actually take that step and send those systems because, of course, the Ukrainians have essentially been pleading for them, saying that this could be a game-changer in the war against Russia, especially there in the east where the Ukrainians have said that they are outgunned and outmanned.

But the president, of course, has been very wary of antagonizing Russia even further. And these systems -- because they have a capability of launching rockets so far, they could be viewed by Russia as extremely provocative.

Now, these systems do have a range of up to 300 kilometers, so that's about 186 miles that these systems could launch. And, of course, that is -- the fear is that the Ukrainians could use them to launch rockets into Russian territory and that is not something that the United States wants.

So the discussion now has begun to center around the possibility that they could equip those systems with shorter-range rockets. So, essentially, sending them these systems that they want but not giving them the kinds of munitions that are capable of going that long, long distance in order to kind of convey to the Russians that this is not -- that the United States is not facilitating, essentially, Ukrainian attacks on Russia soil.

But it has been a subject of intense debate over the last several weeks. The president has not officially signed off yet on sending these systems so he could still change his mind. But as of last week, what we were told is that the administration is preparing to announce the approval of some of those weapon systems.

ROMANS: Yes, interesting. The U.S. and its allies trying to strategize not to avoid crossing any red lines from the Putin regime. It is Putin, of course, who is the original provocateur here; not the West.

All right, Natasha. Thank you so much for that. Keep us updated.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: So a top adviser to Ukraine's president is now responding to President Biden's plan to hold back this long-range artillery.

CNN's Melissa Bell is in Ukraine covering that angle for us. So, Melissa, what's the reaction there to Biden?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, disappointment for the time being. I mean, so far, these last few days, what we've been hearing from Ukrainian intelligence -- military intelligence sources but also from Ukrainian military sources on the ground in towns like this -- Zaporizhzhia, all along that front line of what is becoming an increasingly hard border between the Russian-controlled territories and the Ukrainian-held territories like the town of Zaporizhzhia where I'm speaking now.

It isn't very far from here, though, that the villages to the south of Zaporizhzhia are themselves bearing the effect of Russia's long-range rocket systems. There's been artillery fire but there's also been some of those long-range rockets being used in the south of here.

And that is part of the story from the point of view of the Ukrainians who have this many -- hundreds of miles long border now to try and defend because it continues to inch forward not just here but, of course, we've been hearing further to the north -- the town of Donetsk -- that appears to be falling in Russian hands even as we speak.

The Russian -- the Russian forces appear to be pressing ahead their advantage along this line with Ukrainian sources saying look, it is only a matter of time if we don't get the weaponry we need. Now, they say they need those long-range rocket systems for precisely these parts of the country from where they need to be able to take on the Russian positions that are inching forward, but also attacking some of the villages on the other sideline.

We were speaking yesterday to one of the mayors from the Russian-held territories who'd fled here and who said look, we need these now because what we feel in towns like this is that they are going to continue to move forward and we're going to continue to lose.

One source from Ukrainian military intelligence said to me the other day -- look, we've received a lot of weaponry. And, of course, I was asking him about those Switchblade targeted drones that we saw in action for the first time here in Ukraine last week. Very effective because they can be launched from 25 miles and drive themselves towards Russian tanks -- that Russian artillery that has proven so devastating to Ukrainian forces all along the line I mentioned.

But he said to me -- look, we are a country of 40 million people. Opposite us is a country of 140 million people. It is just a question of time if we do not get the weapons we need.

JARRETT: All right, fair enough. Melissa Bell, thank you for your reporting, as usual.

ROMANS: So, the Ukrainian band that just won this year's coveted Eurovision song contest is using the winnings to help their countries fight against Russia.





ROMANS: Kalush Orchestra auctioned off the Eurovision contest crystal microphone trophy on Facebook. It sold for $900,000. The band says the money will be used to buy drones for Ukraine's military.

JARRETT: Nine hundred grand -- all right.

Coming up, K-pop at the White House.


BTS, SOUTH KOREA BOY BAND: Singing "Dynamite."


JARRETT: More on Biden and the biggest boy band in the world.

ROMANS: And the Midwest community cleaning up right now after what looks like a tornado strike.



ROMANS: Agatha, the first Pacific hurricane of the season, has now been downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall in southern Mexico as a category two hurricane.

Let's get to meteorologist Karen Maginnis. Karen, what's the latest on Agatha here?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We just got an update from the National Hurricane Center just about 40 minutes ago, and it continues to weaken. It has done this over the last 12 hours. Once it made landfall, we started to see it lose a lot of its energy. But it's not over yet.

After 10 or 20 inches of rainfall in some of these interior sections of Mexico where it made landfall as a category two, it has now continued to weaken. However, the remnants of this, in conjunction with some upper-level disturbances -- we could see this redevelop. A 60% chance or likelihood it could become a tropical depression over the next five days.

Take a look at these images coming out of the area near Minneapolis. We're looking at west-central Minnesota where there was a lot of tornadic activity. One, in particular, destroyed nearly 100 homes -- damaged or destroyed.

Well, that is all making its way toward the east, so the central Great Lakes, into the Central Plains. That's where the severe weather risk lies as we go in towards Tuesday. The greatest threat right now appears to be large-sized hail but can't rule out the potential for an isolated tornado. There could be some locally heavy rainfall.

Then going in towards the middle of the workweek, this system still has legs. The storm is moving to the eastern Great Lakes, all the way down into Oklahoma and Texas. We're not looking at quite the violent weather but still enough severe weather. We could see wind damage and large-sized hail.

Back to you.

ROMANS: All right, good to know. Thank you so much, Karen Maginnis.

JARRETT: A top aide to former President Trump says he's been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury over the January 6 Capitol riot. Peter Navarro now claims the subpoena seeks all documents requested by the House Select Committee investigating that attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as, quote, "any communications with the former president." It's just the latest indication of the scope of prosecutors' inquiry here.

Navarro, you will remember, refused to comply with a separate subpoena issued by the January 6 Committee itself, despite the House voting last month to hold him in contempt of Congress.

ROMANS: All right. Just ahead, how burgers and dogs on the grill could burn through your summer barbecue budget.

JARRETT: And a U.S. senator speaks about her surprise trip to Taiwan.



JARRETT: Welcome back.

A U.S. congressional delegation led by Sen. Tammy Duckworth making a surprise visit to Taiwan. The group meeting with Taiwan's president on issues about the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.


SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): I will close by saying that there is tremendous support for Taiwan within the legislative branch. Our president has shown his support for Taiwan. You've heard from our military. And as a member of the legislative branch, I will tell you it is a bipartisan agreement that the USA should stand with Taiwan.


JARRETT: Let's bring in CNN's Kristie Lu Stout. Kristie, good morning.

This comes at sort of a sensitive time. I mean, any time is tricky here. What do you think the senator is hoping to accomplish, exactly?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura, they trying to achieve, both the U.S. and Taiwan, a closer, stronger alliance. You have this U.S. congressional delegation, led by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, in Taiwan for this unannounced surprise 3-day visit, and they discussed economic cooperation, trade, as well as regional security issues.

And President Tsai Ing-wen -- she thanked Sen. Duckworth for America's donation of COVID-19 vaccines throughout the pandemic, as well as U.S. support in terms of security. Listen to this.

TSAI ING-WEN, PRESIDENT OF TAIWAN (through translator): We look forward to deeper and closer U.S.-Taiwan relations in matters of regional security. At the same time, to address the challenges of the post-pandemic era. Taiwan and the U.S. have reviewed and assessed the many facets of our trade cooperation.


STOUT: Now, China slammed this visit with its embassy in Washington, saying that it firmly opposes it and that the U.S. should, quote, "stop all forms of official interactions with Taiwan."

This visit comes right after the U.S. president's visit to the region and the assertion Joe Biden made that the U.S. would intervene military if China tries to take Taiwan by force. It's a comment that he's made before, which was quickly downplayed again by the White House.

But tension is rising. In fact, on Monday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said 30 Chinese warplanes made incursions into its air defense identification zone. This, Laura, is the highest daily figure in more than four months.

Back to you.

JARRETT: Yes, it's certainly noteworthy.

Kristie, thank you. ROMANS: All right. Just ahead, exclusive new CNN reporting about the Supreme Court leak on abortion.

JARRETT: Yes, you don't want to miss that. Full tanks and empty pockets. The cost of commuting to work as America heads back to the office.



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

Looking at markets around the world, a mixed performance in Asia. Europe has opened also mixed, with Paris and Frankfurt leaning down, but London up. And on Wall Street, stock index futures giving back a little bit of last week's solid performance.

U.S. markets were closed for Memorial Day yesterday after a reprieve in the selling last week. The Dow -- look at this -- fell eight weeks in a row and then finally rose last week. It was the best week for the S&P 500 and the Dow since November 2020. The Nasdaq is still in a bear market, 23% below its record high. We'll see what happens this morning, but leaning down a little bit this morning.

At the gas station, record-high prices on Memorial Day. AAA reports the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline nationwide is now $4.62. That's up 44 cents from a month ago. Three states are about to join the dreaded $5 club. Illinois, New York, and Arizona just pennies away.

The drive to the barbecue cost more this year and so did everything you ate. The mustard on your hot dog up 10% from a year ago. The buns, 11%. Franks and burgers, 15% higher. If you want ketchup with that, it's 16% more expensive than last year. And frozen sausages rising a spicey 24% year-over-year.


JARRETT: It doesn't bode well for the Fourth of July.

ROMANS: No, and this is why the president's talking with the Fed chief today about inflation. It's something people feel every time they go to the gas station and the grocery store.


All right. The manager of the San Francisco Giants paused his protest of the National Anthem for Memorial Day -- a protest that began after the school shooting in Texas.

Carolyn Manno joins us now with this morning's Bleacher Report. Carolyn, you said this might happen.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Gabe Kapler has said that this is a little bit controversial but it's a personal decision that he's going to continue to navigate this day-by-day. He said the promise of what the anthem represents isn't believed delivered in his own opinion.

The Giants' manager did take his place on the field before Monday's game with his left hand over his heart as the anthem played in Philadelphia on Memorial Day.

Afterwards, he wrote that while he believes strongly in the right to protest and its importance, he also believes in honoring and mourning our country's service men and women who died for that right. He said those who serve, especially those who have paid the ultimate price, deserve that acknowledgment and that respect.

So, unclear whether the Giants manager is going to resume his protest tonight. He said on Sunday he's going to take this day by day.

To the Stanley Cup Playoffs now. Game seven between the Rangers and Hurricanes. New York needed to seal a win at the Hurricane's house. That's something that had not happened yet this post-season. In fact, Carolina the winner of six straight. Game seven's at their place.

But this one belonged to the boys in blue. A pair of powerplay goals in an 8-minute span early in the first period setting the tone for the entire night. The Rangers lit the lamp six times in all as they rolled 6-2. They're going to host the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs back-to-back.

In fact, the Tampa Bay Lightning in game one of the eastern conference final. That starts tomorrow.

Tonight it's game one in the west between the Avalanche and the Oilers. Puck drop, 8:00 eastern on TNT.

To the other Rangers now -- the ones out in Texas. Check this out. Outfielder Eli White robbing Tampa's Ji-man Choi. Deep to center, scales the wall at Globe Life park. That would have been a 3-run shot for sure. Choi absolutely stunned by this but he just kind of shrugged it off and gave a big smile. An incredible play.

Rangers get the win there.

But nobody is catching this next one. Rockies hosting the Marlins here. This is Miami's Jesus Sanchez. Hits it a mile -- almost a mile. A towering shot, for sure, going triple-decker to the right. His blast measuring 496 feet. That's the longest home run in the majors since 2019 and the second-longest ever at Coors Field. Also, Miami's only run as they lost by six.

Meantime, a huge quarter-final day on tap at the French Open for you. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal renewing their rivalry in Paris maybe for the final time. Nadal has been suffering from a chronic foot injury that's been giving him a lot of trouble. The king of play hinting this could be his last time playing at Roland-Garros.

On the women's side, 18-year-old Coco Gauff trying to make it to her first Grand Slam semi-final, taking on fellow American Sloane Stephens in the pair's only other meeting. Coco beat Sloane in straight sets.

American Jessica Pegula also in the mix in the quarter-finals. The American women doing pretty well at the French.

ROMANS: Yes, and really fun to watch, too.


ROMANS: All right, Carolyn Manno. So nice to see you this morning. Thank you very much.

JARRETT: Nice to have you on set, as always. Thank you.

All right. Finally this morning, K-pop comes to the White House.


BTS, SOUTH KOREA BOY BAND: Singing "Dynamite."


JARRETT: Members of the hugely popular South Korean band BTS will meet with President Biden later today. The band intends to discuss Asian inclusion and representation, as well as anti-Asian hate crimes and disinformation.

I will not ask you what your favorite BTS song is --

ROMANS: Oh, please don't.

JARRETT: -- although you were humming that during the break.

ROMANS: I was, actually. Once it gets in your head and you realize you hear it all the time. It is so popular. So -- but no, I'm not -- I can't. "Born to Run?" Oh wait, that's not K-pop.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: There's a leader right there.

I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.