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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

President Biden Wrapping Up Triumphant NATO Summit in Madrid; 1/6 Committee Subpoenas Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone; Putin Denies Responsibility for Kremenchuk Shopping Center Strike; Chinese President Xi Jinping Visits Hong Kong. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 30, 2022 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everybody. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Thursday, June 30th. I'm Christine Romans.


Right now, the president of the United States is in his final meeting with world leaders at the NATO summit in Madrid. He is wrapping up one of the most successful diplomatic initiatives of his presidency so far. The president's bold plan to expand NATO ending in initial invitations to Finland and Sweden, something Mr. Biden said was exactly what Putin did not want when he invaded Ukraine.

Then, in just a few hours the president will hold a formal news conference.

CNN's Kevin Liptak will have more on that conference in a moment. But first to CNN's Natasha Bertrand.

Natasha, good morning.

What is the president doing right now? I know that he said some words just a short time ago.


So right now, the president is meeting with members of the North Atlantic Council which is the main political and policy making body of NATO. And, of course, in that meeting is Turkey. And one of the biggest diplomatic achievements of this entire summit has been turkey's dropping of its opposition to Sweden and Finland actually joining the alliance, obviously, something that has been the main topic of conversation over the last two days is the expansion of NATO. So that will obviously be discussed.

The president met with Erdogan yesterday and praised him for allowing this bid by Sweden and Finland to move forward to join the alliance. So they will be discussing all of this. Of course, the enhanced force posture that the United States is providing to NATO, providing to Europe amid this Russian invasion of Ukraine and the threat to NATO. And interestingly the NATO alliance put out a declaration yesterday naming Russia as the single biggest threat to the alliance. Obviously, a huge shift from the last NATO summit that was held in 2010, the last regular meeting of NATO allies in which Russia was actually a participant and deemed a strategic partner of NATO.

So, clearly, so much has changed in 12 years. But the president and all of the NATO members and sources that we are speaking to here seem very optimistic that the prospect for unity and cohesion in the face of the Russian threat is greater than it has been in many, many years, Laura.

JARRETT: All right. Natasha, thanks so much for being there for us.

ROMANS: So, at about 8:00 a.m. Eastern, President Biden will hold a news conference before heading back to Washington.

White House reporter Kevin Liptak is there live for us in Madrid.

What do we expect to hear from the president this morning, Kevin?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, certainly expect the president to reiterate that word unity, that has been the buzz word both of this summit and the G7 that the president attended earlier. And it is true that NATO is now larger, it is more muscular, it is more focused. And so these leaders are departing Madrid with a new sense of purpose.

But there are a lot of questions about whether they can maintain that focus going ahead as their publics become more angry about the rising cost of gas and all these other things, there are some concerns about how long that unity can be sustained. And so, the president will certainly probably be questioned about that.

But I do think that this press conference will be a good reflection of the environment that the president is returning to back in Washington. And so I think that he will probably be asked about abortion. He hasn't been questioned yet about the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

He has made a statement about it, but he hasn't necessarily responded to questions. And this will come as Democrats are calling on him do more and as the White House has sort of thrown cold water on a lot of the progressive ideas for maintaining access to abortions. So that could come up.

He also hasn't responded to the bombshell testimony about January 6. The president has mostly stayed out of talking about that in specifics, but certainly the question everyone will have is whether he believes anything has changed since those new revelations come out.

And the other thing that I think is overshadowing all of this is questions about the state of President Biden's presidency. Inflation is high, his approval ratings are low, and all of a sudden you have Democrats starting to question whether he should run for president again. He has said in the past that he does intend to run for president. The question now is not necessarily will he, but should he. The

president isn't necessarily pleased that this chatter is out there and so that is something that he could possibly address as well in this press conference in a few hours -- guys.

ROMANS: And we'll be watching it and covering it live.

So, thank you, Kevin Liptak, for that.

Live coverage of that news conference right here on CNN just before 8:00 a.m. Eastern. We will begin that.


JARRETT: So as we've been mentioning, Vladimir Putin's goal to keep NATO in check appears to have backfired. The Russian President though claims that he is not bothered by Finland and Sweden joining the alliance even though the expansion would more than double Russia's land border with NATO.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We don't have problems with Sweden and Finland like we do with Ukraine. We don't have territorial differences. There is nothing that could bother us about Sweden and Finland joining NATO. If Finland and Sweden wish to, they can join. That's up to them.


JARRETT: Putin though warns that Russia will respond in kind to any military threats by NATO.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, CNN on the ground in what could be Putin's next target.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The fear is that if Ukraine were to fall, Russia's army could roll right through here.


JARRETT: Also, a major Supreme Court decision on immigration just hours away.

ROMANS: First, a key figure from Trump's White House just slapped with a congressional subpoena.



ROMANS: The January 6 Committee has issued a subpoena to former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone. Cipollone, a key figure during the chaotic final weeks of the Trump era, has come up a lot during the Capitol riot hearings.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Mr. Cipollone. Mr. Cipollone. Mr. Cipollone.

I see Pat Cipollone barreling down the hallway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pat Cipollone said this is a murder-suicide pact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I called Mr. Cipollone.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Mr. Cipollone.

CHENEY: Mr. Trump's former White House counsel Pat Cipollone.


ROMANS: Cipollone sat for a closed door interview in April, but has resisted further corporation.

Daniella Diaz has the latest from Capitol Hill.

And, Daniella, CNN has some insight into Cipollone's plans. What can you tell us?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN REPORTER: Christine, we know that Cipollone will likely agree to a transcribed interview with the January 6 Committee, probably limited to specific topics to avoid privilege issues. This is according to a source familiar with his thinking.

But look, whether any testimony would be live or taped remains to be seen. But he could be incredibly enlightening and shed more information on what happened in the days leading up to the January 6 insurrection and what happened that day with President Donald Trump, with then chief of staff Mark Meadows and, of course, this all comes after that bombshell testimony by that former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson who recalled several stories that involved Cipollone including one where he actually marched to Mark Meadows and said that something needed to be done.

He said this is getting out of control. I'm going down there when the rioters started storming the Capitol and Mark Meadows wasn't doing anything according to of course what Cassidy Hutchinson said during that bombshell testimony earlier this week.

Of course, Cipollone would be an important person to speak with the committee because he has all of that insider information and now they have subpoenaed him, it looks like that he was going to cooperate.

Also want to note, Christine, that some of the stories that Cassidy Hutchinson has recalled are being disputed by White House officials, by Secret Service officials, but she still stands by her testimony, she actually told CNN in a statement, exclusive statement, that she stands by her testimony and what she said was true.

So, of course, all of that being said, it is going to be very important to hear Cipollone's side of the story which is why the committee wants to speak to him directly again after this bombshell testimony -- Christine.

ROMANS: More on the record under oath, you know, get more out there. That's how you dispute, these stories if you indeed want to.

Daniella, thanks so much for that.


JARRETT: Well, so all this is happening as Republican Liz Cheney is now calling former President Trump a danger to democracy itself in a speech last night at the Reagan Presidential Library in California.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): At this moment, we are confronting a domestic threat that we have never faced before. And that is a former president who is attempting to unravel the foundations of our constitutional republic. And he is aided by Republican leaders and elected officials who made themselves willing hostages to this dangerous and irrational man.


JARRETT: The GOP congresswoman and co-chair of the January 6 committee adding that, quote, Republicans cannot be both loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution. Cheney went on to praise witnesses especially young female aides like Cassidy Hutchinson who have stepped forward to aid the committee's investigation.

ROMANS: So, the pandemic may have forever changed the American economy. The chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell says the economy is driven by very different forces. He was speaking on a panel and says that the decades before COVID before a time of very low inflation for advanced economies but inflation now running above 8.5 percent driven by rising prices for gas, cars, food, shelter, complicated by post-pandemic shocks to the supply chain, changes that he said might be permanent.


JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: The economy is being driven by very different forces. And we know that. What we don't know is whether we'll be going back to something that looks more like -- or a little bit like what we had before. We suspect that it will be kind of a blend.


ROMANS: Kind of a blend. He also said Russia's war on Ukraine has, quote, added tremendously to higher food prices. There's still a lot more on that I think watching commodities very

carefully and what that will mean throughout the world for food, not just energy, but really for food.

JARRETT: Yeah, really important.

And also later today, a historic first for the U.S. Supreme Court.


ROMANS: And China's leader now doing something he hasn't done in years.


JARRETT: To the war in Ukraine now as Vladimir Putin is denying Russian forces had anything do with that attack on a crowded shopping center earlier this week in the Ukrainian town of Kremenchuk. The missile strike killed at least 18 people, and the Russian leader claims that his military fired a high precision attack against a weapons storage facility.


PUTIN (through translator): Our army does not attack any civilian infrastructure site.


There's no need. We have every capability of knowing what is situated where.


JARRETT: Ukrainian investigators are gathering evidence that links the Russians to the attack though.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has the latest on this.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This surveillance footage shows a Russia's anti-ship cruise missile capable of carrying a 220-pound warhead hitting the Amstor mall in Kremenchuk.

And this is a devastating aftermath. The complex completely ability iterated in a city far from the battlefield.

The Kremlin said it is not to blame for what happened here. It claims Russian war planes struck a hanger packed with U.S. and European supplied weapons, and those weapons dedicated afterwards causing the fire.

The chief prosecutor of this region, Anton Stolitniy, he says he's collecting evidence to prove Moscow is lying and that it intentionally targeted innocents. We are investigating the site of the blast he says. We have removed

fragments of the rocket and we will examine its trajectory.

Only two hours after the strike, Stolitniy and his team started their work.

We created a group of investigators that include the police and the security services, he says. And we as prosecutors coordinate their activities.

There are two operations happening simultaneously -- emergency workers clearing the rubble in trying to find the bodies of the missing. At the same time, Ukrainian investigators and prosecutors collecting evidence for what they say are Russian war crimes.

Stolitniy took us to the site of the second missile strike, the plant where the Kremlin claims western weapons were stored. But Ukraine says this is a road machinery factory, civilian infrastructure.

There were no bullet holes in the other shells around us, which indicated there no ammunitions explode, he tells me.

Is there any military infrastructure anywhere in this area?


ABDELAZIZ: Another claim from Russia's defense ministry is that the shopping center was non-functioning. But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says about 1,000 people were inside that day, among them was this survivor.

I live near the mall and I can hear almost every day she says. It's always packed with people. And I remember all those faces.

When you look at that mall now, and I know this is your first time back, what do you think about what happened?

I feel dread and fear, she says. No Ukrainian is safe. Now we are in the crossfire. At any moment, any of us can tie.

Ukraine hopes to one day takes its case to The Hague, but bringing alleged Russian perpetrators to court is a tall order.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, Kremenchuk.


ROMANS: Thank you so much for that.

China's President Xi Jinping arriving in Hong Kong a short time ago. He is there for the 25th anniversary of the city's handover from British to Chinese rule.

CNN's Ivan Watson live in Hong Kong.

What is -- what is China saying about the visit? IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are

celebrating what they are saying is a new era for this former British colony, one they say of stability, prosperity and opportunity. There is the first time that Xi Jinping has left mainland China since the COVID pandemic first erupted in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019.

He was greeted by a flag-waving crowd at a train station here. Take a listen to what he said.


PRESIDENT XI JINPING, CHINA (through translator): Over the past few years, Hong Kong has withstood one severe test after another and overcome one risk and challenge after another. After weathering the storms, Hong Kong has emerged from the ashes with a vigorous vitality.


WATSON: Now, Hong Kong has changed a lot since the last time Xi Jinping was here five years ago. For one thing, there has been a harsh crackdown on any form of organized political opposition. The elected lawmakers and legislature who were serving five years ago, when Xi Jinping were here, who openly criticized the Chinese government, most of them are either in jail or they have fled overseas.

Protests have not been allowed here by the police in more than two years. Independent newspapers and news outlets have been shut down, dozens of labor unions and student unions also shut down. So, the pesky criticism and forms of dissent that mainland China doesn't tolerate basically don't exist here anymore.

Another major change is COVID. You can see I'm wearing a mask. You are not allowed to go outside in Hong Kong without a mask. This is one of the most isolated places in the world. Any traveler coming from overseas has to do at least seven days of hotel quarantine.


The internal border with mainland China is closed. That has led to an exodus of talent and people fleeing the city. And it has hurt the economy as well.

The Chinese government insists that better times are ahead.

Back to you.

ROMANS: Yeah, the China zero COVID strategy certainly something that is getting a lot of attention and could have an impact on inflation and supply chains all around the world. Thank you so much for that, Ivan.

JARRETT: The talent drain.

ROMANS: Yeah, that's an interesting angle, too.

JARRETT: All right. Coming up, the lawmakers who just vetoed to dissolve their own parliament.

ROMANS: First, what a possible Supreme Court ruling today could mean for migrants at the southern U.S. border.