Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Britney Griner's Trial Begins In Moscow Courtroom; Biden: Russia "Paying A Very, Very Heavy Price" For War; Emmett Till's Family Finds Unserved Arrest Warrant. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 01, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Happening now, WNBA star Brittney Griner in a Moscow courtroom for the start of her trial. Griner has been detained in Russia since February, accused of smuggling drugs in her luggage.

Let's get to CNN's Fred Pleitgen. He is live outside that courtroom for us. Fred, what can we expect today?


I think what's going to happen today is a lot of it is going to be procedural things that are going to happen here in this courtroom. We do know that Brittney Griner is now inside the courtroom. We haven't seen much of her. We saw her being led down a hallway towards the courtroom.

It has actually been decided that media is not going to be allowed inside the courtroom. The court itself told us that was Brittney Griner's decision. However, her lawyer told us that they were not even asked. However, the fact of the matter is we are standing outside. The courtroom is apparently very small. Very few people actually fit inside. It might be the case that a few media representatives might get in later but that's not clear as of yet.

However, what's going to happen today is that the judge is going to read the charges. The proceedings are going to get underway. We've been told not to expect a verdict on this day.

Brittney Griner could face up to 10 years in prison for allegedly, as the Russians put it, smuggling narcotics into the country. The Russians say that she tried to bring with her cases for vape cartridges, which apparently had CBD, a cannabis-based oil, in them. And here in Russia, that is a crime that could bring up to 10 years in jail. The U.S. obviously says she's wrongfully imprisoned and are demanding her release.


By the way, there's also a representative -- a charge d'affaire of the U.S. Embassy is here as well, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, thanks so much. Keep us posted, Fred Pleitgen.

Brittney Griner's wife speaking out to CNN ahead of the trial in Russia. Cherelle Griner says she wants to see more action from the Biden administration to bring Brittney home.


CHERELLE GRINER, WIFE OF DETAINED WNBA STAR BRITTNEY GRINER: I do trust that they are -- that the persons working on this are very genuine people. That I do believe. But I don't think the maximum amount of effort is being done because again, the rhetoric and the actions don't match. When you have a situation where B.G. can call our government -- the embassy -- 11 times and that phone call don't get answered, you don't have much trust at that point.

Until I see actions that are in B.G.'s best interest -- it would have been in her best interest for her phone call to have been answered. It would be in her best interest for her to be back on U.S. soil.


ROMANS: Griner also says she has spoken to the families of other wrongfully detained Americans and that the most consistent advice she's received is don't be quiet.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden, speaking Thursday at the close of the NATO summit, said Russia is being wounded by the war it started in Ukraine.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at the impact that the war on Ukraine has had on Russia. They've had to renege on their national debt for the first time since the beginning -- almost well over 100 years. They've lost 15 years of the gains they made in terms of their economy. So they're paying a very, very heavy price for this.


JARRETT: Let's bring in CNN global affairs analyst Kim Dozier. Kim, nice to see you this morning. Always appreciate your expertise.

What the president said is obviously true, but the fact is Americans here at home are suffering and it doesn't sound like the president thinks that is going to lighten up anytime soon. Listen to this.


REPORTER: How long is it fair to expect American drivers and drivers around the world to pay that premium for this war?


(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: As long as it takes. That's an interesting framing.

KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it sure is, but you can see why when you listen to the director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, this past week. She said that Putin has not given up on his plans to take over all of Ukraine. And when I recently visited Kyiv, the Ukrainian officials and the people I spoke to are all convinced of the same thing.

Putin is determined to win in this war, eventually, and he's holding all of Russia hostage right now. The pain they might be feeling economically, defaulting on loans, et cetera -- none of that has, so far, dissuaded him from continuing with this war.

JARRETT: So, then, who can tough it out longer?

DOZIER: That's exactly it. It's a bit of a marathon. And the concern that you hear from Ukrainians is that the Russians, possibly because they are using old maps for their targeting but also because it seems intentional that they're hitting electricity, water -- the kind of things in the infrastructure that you need to run a country and provide services.

And while I saw a number of people coming back when I went there -- the 14-hour train ride I took in -- it took a lot of wrangling to get those tickets because all the seats are sold out. People want to go back to the country but they don't have -- what Ukrainians are worried about is that Russia is going to make the country ungovernable as well as decimating its troops.

ROMANS: So, it's in America's best interest to aid Ukraine. The president is making that case. But at the same time, why is the U.S. holding out on the weapons that Zelenskyy and his team are asking for so desperately to take them to the finish line? To help them keep their country whole.

DOZIER: And that's one of the complaints that you hear privately and publicly. Zelenskyy said it in his speech to NATO. He said we need unlimited military support and then he went through the laundry list. We've asked for planes; you haven't given us any. You've got 20,000 tanks across NATO. We want 1%. Where is this stuff?

And the Ukrainians feel like they're being forced to fight with one hand tied behind their back, even with the billions of aid coming aid coming their way. Even with the missile systems that the U.S. has recently dispatched and people are getting trained on. The concern is OK, that's helping but it's not helping fast enough. Russia is still making progress.


And in the meantime, they're doing this grinding targeting of the infrastructure that could make -- refugees are returning right now but if there's, because of the wartime economy, no jobs, nobody can afford food, they can't keep the lights and power on, you're going to see people eventually heading back in the other direction. That's what the Ukrainian government is worried about.

ROMANS: And they've got crops in the field and crops in storage and they can't get them out of Odesa. And there just are so many big issues to figure out.

Kim Dozier, thank you so much.

All right. Coming up, Wall Street's worst start to a year since The Beatles were still together.

JARRETT: That's a reference.

And next, how a decades old document found in a basement could shed light on the case of Emmett Till.


JARRETT: Welcome back.

A stunning new development in the infamous case of Emmett Till, the Black teenager whose murder in the Jim Crow South helped spark the modern civil rights movement.


CNN's Ryan Young has that story.


PAGE PATE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There was probable cause for an arrest back then and nobody did anything about it.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After nearly 70 years, a stunning find unearthed in a Mississippi courthouse is bringing hope to the family of Emmett Till that justice may finally be served.

PATE: I can understand how difficult this may be for the family to have gone through this whole process and to now find what may be a smoking gun.

YOUNG (voice-over): Last week, an arrest warrant was discovered by Till family members inside a dusty box in the Leflore County courthouse dated August 29, 1955. The warrant charged J.W. Milam, Roy Bryant, and Bryant's then-wife Carolyn Bryant with kidnapping African American teen Emmett Till and ordered their arrest.

Both men on the warrant were charged and eventually acquitted by an all-white jury, although they later admitted to the murder in a magazine article. Both men died decades later.

But Bryant's wide, now Carolyn Bryant Donham, was never charged. Now in her 80s, Till's family is hopeful the discovery of the warrant will lead to her arrest and justice -- something they've long pushed for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does she still think of how her actions directly led to the most egregious racism and aggression towards a child?

YOUNG (voice-over): Till's murder in 1955 is believed to be a catalyst for the civil rights movement in America. It happened when the 14-year-old Chicago teen was visiting relatives in Mississippi.

Twenty-year-old Carolyn Bryant falsely accused Till of making unwanted advances on her in a grocery store. Just four days later, her husband and his half-brother abducted Till from his uncle's home.

SIMEON WRIGHT, EMMETT TILL'S COUSIN: I woke up and I saw two white men standing at the foot of my bed. One had a gun.

YOUNG (voice-over): According to Till's cousin, the men took Till outside to a car where a woman was waiting.

WRIGHT: They asked him -- said is this the right boy?

YOUNG (voice-over): The two men beat and tortured Till before shooting him in the head and tossing his body in a river. Till's body was returned to Chicago disfigured beyond recognition but his mother insisted on an open casket at his funeral, wanting the world to know what happened to her son.

Investigators charged both men with Till's murder. Months after their acquittal, both men told Look magazine that they actually did kill Till but double jeopardy laws prevented them from being tried again.

In 2004, the Justice Department reopened the case, even exhuming Till's body, but a grand jury declined to indict Donham and the case was closed in 2007. In 2017, Vanity Fair published an article in which an author claimed he asked Donham about Till's alleged advances. He said she replied, quote, "That part's not true," adding, "Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him."

DR. JAY CARTHAN, EMMETT TILL'S COUSIN: And all long we knew that she was lying about what Emmett had said. Emmett never threatened her. He never grabbed her hand. None of that never happened.

YOUNG (voice-over): In 2018, the Department of Justice reopened a probe into Till's murder, but the agency's civil rights division concluded it could not prove Donham had lied, and investigators say she denied that she had recanted her testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we want is accountability.

YOUNG (voice-over): CNN has reached out to Donham but has not heard back. Now the question remains could Donham, who now lives in North Carolina, finally be arrested and charged.

PATE: I don't think they're going to arrest this woman and put her on a bus given her age and the age of this arrest warrant. I find it unlikely that both Mississippi and North Carolina would agree to put her on a bus and bring her back to a jail in Mississippi without a new judge passing on this issue before that.

YOUNG (on camera): And the fight for justice for this family hasn't stopped since 1955. They've been trying since that very moment to get some sort of justice for Emmett Till. Now there's another part that they've discovered on their own inside that courthouse in the basement. They're hoping for change. They're hoping for justice to finally be served.


ROMANS: The back of that --

JARRETT: What a discovery.

ROMANS: The back of that warrant said they couldn't find her.


ROMANS: She wasn't there when they went to find her and then that was just -- that was it. What a trauma for the family.


ROMANS: That search for justice with trauma all along the way.

All right. Coming up, the Republican senator who says the January 6 hearings have hurt Donald Trump's chances to be the party's nominee again.



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

Looking at markets around the world, Asia is now closed for the week and closed lower. Europe has opened with a bit of a bounce. And on Wall Street, stock index futures barely lower here this morning.

It was a down day on Thursday. The S&P 500 posting its worst first half of the year since 1970. I mean, think of that. That was not a very good start to the year. Here's what that looks like. The Dow down more than 15%. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both in a bear market.

Now, no one knows what happens next. We have inflation, higher interest rates, a war in Europe. But a quick look at the last five bear markets.

The COVID bear market began in February 2020. It was just 33 days. A very short, quick bear market. But the longest was March 2000 and that was 929 days. So, some perspective there for you. Nobody knows how long this bear market will last but they have lasted a long time in the past.

JARRETT: Hopefully, not 929 days.

ROMANS: I hope so, too.

JARRETT: All right, let's get to a little sports. NBA superstar Kevin Durant has reportedly requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets.

Andy Scholes has this morning's scoop in the Bleacher Report. Andy, what happened?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, man, Laura. You know, the NBA offseason never disappoints. Always so much drama.


And Kevin Durant now wants out of Brooklyn after just three seasons. He's the most valuable star to ever hit the NBA trademark. And according to ESPN, Durant prefers to go to the Suns or the Heat, but a number of teams are going to be lining up offers to try to acquire the 12-time All-Star.

The Nets are also expected to trade Kyrie Irving, who opted in for the final year of his contract. So, Brooklyn, who had Durant, Kyrie, and James Harden at the start of last season, will likely have none of them in a matter of weeks.

All right, college realignment making a surprise return on Thursday as USC and UCLA announce plans to leave the PAC-12 for the Big Ten in 2024. The move has reportedly been in the works for months with finances and media rights agreements playing a major role.

In a statement, the PAC-12 said it was extremely surprised and disappointed by the move but will continue to thrive despite the departure of the two colleges.

Now, with USC and UCLA, the Big Ten will have 16 teams and be the first conference to stretch from coast to coast. The SEC will also have 16 teams once they add Texas and Oklahoma in 2025.

All right, the LIV Golf series making its USA debut yesterday in Portland. Many of the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 were outside the course protesting the new Saudi-backed league.


BRETT EAGLESON, FATHER DIED IN 9/11 ATTACKS: These golfers that are getting in bed with the Saudis -- they should know what they're doing and they should -- and it's shame on them.

JULIETTE SCAUSO, FATHER DIED IN 9/11 ATTACKS: The American people swore to never forget. Well, here we are nearly 21 years later with no justice and the responsible parties are being allowed to operate on American soil with impunity.


SCHOLES: Yes. In response, LIV Golf released a statement saying, in part, "We have tremendous respect and sympathy for the families of anyone who lost loved ones -- or who were killed on September 11, 2001." It went on to say "We understand and respect that not everyone will agree with us, but we believe deeply that golf is a force for good and we look forward to continuing our efforts to grow the game in the U.S. and around the world."

All right, the Colorado Avalanche, meanwhile, celebrating their first title in 21 years yesterday. And there was a funny moment during the parade. Bo Byram was having some fun with the fans when a cop mistook him for a fan. Everyone started yelling "He's a player!" Bo then went, -- after talking to the cop for a second back -- back to his teammates.

Around 500,000 fans were in attendance to celebrate in the streets of downtown Denver.

All right. And finally, happy Bobby Bonilla day. Even though he retired from baseball in 2001, the Mets still pay Bonilla nearly $1.2 million every July first. So back in 1999, the team bought out the final year of his contract, but instead of paying Bonilla $5.9 million that they owed him, the Mets agreed to give him $1 million, plus interest, on July first every year for 25 years, starting in 2011. So that means Bonilla is going to keep getting those checks until 2035, guys, when he's 72 years old.

Christine, always thought of as one of the best decisions by an athlete in sports.

ROMANS: Absolutely. And so many of these guys -- after their career they kind of -- you know, it's hard to keep ahold of the money, right?


ROMANS: He seems to have really made a smart choice there.

JARRETT: Very nice. Andy, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, nice to see you.

SCHOLES: Good to see you.

ROMANS: All right. So it's Friday and we have a little bit of an announcement.


ROMANS: This is your last day for a little bit.

JARRETT: Dear EARLY START viewers, today is my last day before maternity leave. And I would be remiss if I did not thank the best co- anchor and best person to sit next to for the past 2 1/2 years in a global pandemic. She has taught me so much in so many different ways.

ROMANS: Well, thank you.

JARRETT: But she has taught me a lot about being a mom in this business, and there is no better model of somebody --

ROMANS: Oh, thank you.

JARRETT: -- who puts their children first. There is nobody who misses --

ROMANS: That is so sweet.

JARRETT: -- a swim meet, who gets to the doctors' appointments, while also killing it at her job --

ROMANS: Oh, thank you.

JARRETT: -- as you all know and you all see on camera every day. But I see what also happens off-camera. So, thank you.

ROMANS: That is so sweet.

Well, I -- my only -- the only insight I have is don't take anybody's advice if you don't want to take it. Only take the advice that you want to hear. And I think that the new baby -- the toddler still really rules the roost. So you're life might not change that much.

JARRETT: That boy rules everything.

ROMANS: Well, it'll still be very toddler-focused in your household with a very adorable new baby girl with you. So --

JARRETT: Well, thank you.

ROMANS: -- I wish you a speedy and healthy delivery.

Thanks for watching this morning. I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: Have a great Fourth everyone. I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ROMANS: That was so nice.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Friday, July 1. I'm Brianna.