Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Rep. Kinzinger Releases Audio Of Threatening Calls To His Office; DeSantis Has Raised $100 Million-Plus In Reelection Bid, Shattering Records; Oil Drops Below $100 Per Barrel For First Time In Nearly 2 Months. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 06, 2022 - 05:30   ET




Big names subpoenaed by the Fulton County D.A. -- even a sitting senator. You heard Zoe Lofgren there say this is a different set of circumstances. Do you think they'll have to cooperate here?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS (via Webex by Cisco): Well, yes -- and good morning, Christine. Look, it's a criminal investigation.

ROMANS: Right.

TALEV: It's an investigation with potentially criminal behavior. So this is important for a couple of reasons, but one is that it really shows how aggressive and potentially important this investigation is. Remember, of course, in Florida, the former president famously asked top elections officials to just find him somewhere shy of 12,000 votes. But they are also pulling in people from out of state and apparently looking at the connection with what was happening in Georgia and what was happening in other states.

We've talked a lot about what the Justice Department is going to do. If they're going to act, when they're going to act. This shows that a criminal investigation of a sizable breadth is moving ahead regardless of what the U.S. Department of Justice is doing or its timing.

ROMANS: You know, to the toxic political climate -- I mean, we all -- we all feel it and hear it, know it, and receive our own voicemails about it. But Adam Kinzinger shared a collection of voicemails he's received since these hearings -- the January 6 hearings began. Let's listen to a little bit of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess I can't say a whole lot more other than I hope you naturally die as quickly as (bleep) possible you (bleep) piece of (bleep).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You backstabbing son of a (bleep). You go against Trump. Y'all know y'all (bleep) are sitting up there lying like a damn dog. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey you little (bleep). Going to come protest in front of your house this weekend. We know where your family is and we're going to get you, you little (bleep).


ROMANS: You know, he tweeted out sort of a link to this compilation without the bleeps. We have bleeped it out. But I think it shows kind of, I don't know, the anger and unhinged nature of people out there who are I guess bold enough to even be leaving these kinds of messages.

What do you make of it?

TALEV: I listened to it without the bleeps yesterday --

ROMANS: Me, too.

TALEV: -- and it is even more shocking that way.

It shows two things. I think it allows the public to just understand how much personal threat the members of this committee -- members from both parties are under right now. But I think it also allows Kinzinger to kind of make an argument that connects the idea that leaders can foment violence or can let it stand and not do anything to tell their folks stop it, and that there can be consequences for it. It sort of allows them to connect the events of January 6 to this stress that he's under now.

And he released that compilation on the -- on the same day that he was releasing all the tweets about the violence that took place in Illinois around the July Fourth parade -- the mass shooting. And I think this is all of a piece to the extent that he is saying there is a climate of violent rhetoric that turns into violent behavior, and that that is a concern both that he's experiencing as an individual and that -- and that the committee is aware of and concerned about as they try to look at what events and conversations may have --


TALEV: -- created a climate for that day.

ROMANS: Well, there's this unhinged -- this climate of sort of unhinged behavior. I don't know if it's political. I don't know if it's two years post-COVID. If it's just the divide in the country at the moment, but it is troubling.

Let me -- let's switch gears here and talk about Democrats. And I guess -- you say some of the biggest frustration among Democrats come from what they think is the president's inability to actually execute things that the president does well. Explain.

TALEV: I hear this a lot from Democrats that I talk to -- Democrats in Washington, Democrats around the country, donors, activists. And you're seeing it in some -- CNN had a high-profile story about the celebrities who are frustrated with the president. I just think that it's true that presidents often lack the actual power to, like, wave a wand and fix whatever the issue is, whether it's inflation or the makeup of the Supreme Court, or how the filibuster is used. But they do have the bully pulpit and they do have leadership, and rhetoric, and communication, and speeches, and the ability to like rally people or comfort them, or say here's the plan, or make people sort of feel empowered and angry.


And a lot of the frustration that I'm hearing inside Democratic circles is that President Biden's not using that arm of it or his team is not kind of organizing proactively.

So, when you see Gavin Newsom, who I think has created his own political situation now to offset his gain, but we see Gavin Newsom go after Ron DeSantis in ads in Florida. Like, that is kind of using your bully pulpit and the sort of limited powers that you have as governor to make a point.

It's that kind of thing that I think a lot of Democrats want to see Biden lean more into. Say something, do something. Rally people behind you. Tell people what you're going to do to alleviate their concerns.

ROMANS: All right, Margaret Talev. Nice to see you bright and early this morning. Thank you so much.

TALEV: Thanks.

ROMANS: All right. The House committee investigating January 6 set to resume public hearings next week, on Wednesday. Committee member Adam Schiff says the next hearing will focus on how that mob on the National Mall was assembled, and connections between the Trump White House and extremist groups who were involved in the attack on Capitol -- on the Capitol, including the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, and others.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has built a huge political war chest, already raising more than $100 million in his reelection bid. And as momentum builds for DeSantis to run for president, it's fueling speculation he is raising money for two campaigns at the same time.

Who better than CNN's Steve Contorno live in St. Petersburg, Florida to walk us through this. Can he use that fundraising money in a potential presidential race?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER (via Webex by Cisco): Christine, that's the $100 million question, right? And he's raised more money, so far, than any candidate for governor or Senate or any statewide candidate has ever needed to win an election in Florida, which is creating this speculation that he might be raising campaign -- money for two campaigns at the same time.

Is that legal? When you talk to campaign finance experts they said that there are legal barriers to moving money from a state race to a federal campaign. But, super PACs have a lot less rules around them. They've created a lot more gray areas around them. And the regulatory environment around super PACs has created a bit of a permissive environment for these candidates to use super PACs more to their advantage in these federal races and in campaigns.

And actually, there was an example in Florida. You had a state representative with a political committee. He left that committee and decided to run for Congress. That political committee sent that money to a super PAC that helped that candidate run for Congress.

Now, when you talk to Gov. DeSantis and his -- and his campaign, they say that they are focused on 2022. That they are very dismissive of any conversations about 2024.

But he's sitting on more money than any candidate has ever needed before. In fact, he's not -- he's not spending it either, which is another thing that's fueling a lot of this speculation. By this point in 2014, then-Gov. Rick Scott had already spent about $20 million on his race. DeSantis has spent about $7 million.

He won't have a competitor until the Democrats pick their primary opponent --

ROMANS: Right.

CONTORNO: -- or primary nominee in late August.

So, there's just a lot of questions here. When you talk to -- I talked to someone close to his campaign who said that his folks are absolutely aware of ways to turn money from a state race into money that could be used in a federal race. I talked to another person who is involved in Florida fundraising for Republicans here. He said he thinks that's absolutely what's on their mind.

Now, it could end up being a more expensive race than they anticipate when you talk to people around the governor's campaign. He wants a big blowout election win --


CONTORNO: -- going into that 2024 primary, which could be pricey. But with so much money already sitting out there and if he hasn't spent it all by November, people are going to be wondering what he's going to do with it, Christine.

ROMANS: Oh, and a big reminder that money is the oxygen in politics, and there's a lot of it there in Florida.

Steve Contorno, thank you so much.

All right, with prices rising on just about everything here at home, visiting Europe, believe it not, hasn't been this cheap for Americans in decades. And oil prices tumble below $100 a barrel for the first time in nearly two months. Is relief coming for gas?



ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world, you can see Asian shares closed down sharply, but Europe has opened higher here. And on Wall Street, stock index futures are barely moving.

Look, it was a wild day for stocks. Investors are obsessed with concern about a potential recession. The Dow closed down 130 points. That's actually a recovery -- a recovery from an earlier 700-point drop. The S&P 500 closed up slightly. The Nasdaq finished up nearly 2%.

Oil, the big story here -- sorry -- sinking below $100 a barrel on recession fears and slowing demand. There has been a dramatic -- you can see that dramatic turnaround lately in oil markets. Consumers may start to feel it at the pump. Overnight, gas prices edged lower to $4.78 a gallon. You can see that's down a couple of cents and it's down about nine cents from a month ago.

Let's go to London now. I want to bring in my colleague Clare Sebastian. Good morning, Clare.

You know, this looks like a classic recession trade -- oil down, stocks down. In stocks, we've just finished the most brutal first half since 1970. But it's anybody's guess where it goes from here.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christine, and I think -- look, the recession fears out there, while not a cause for immediate panic, perhaps are certainly valid. Because the question that everyone continues to ask is -- is the Fed and other global central banks going to be able to pull off some kind of soft landing -- bring down these record-high inflation numbers that we're seeing without slowing economic growth too much and tipping the economy into a recession. The historical odds are, frankly, not on their side when it comes to doing that.


But, look, not all recessions are equal and I think even if there is a recession -- and many Wall Street analysts are predicting that at some point, perhaps in 2023 -- there is a school of thought that might even be helpful and sort of flush out inflation and stop the cycle of interest rate tightening, which is frankly perhaps even more of a concern on Wall Street than a recession itself.

But this is going to continue to cause volatility on the markets.

ROMANS: The oil market below $100 a barrel, really cooling off here. You know, one way to cool high oil prices is to have a recession, frankly. I mean, that's the irony.

But the war in Ukraine is still a very big concern here, isn't it?

SEBASTIAN: Yes. So this is -- this is obviously the interplay between supply and demand, and it's demand fears that have been bringing the price down in recent weeks as we look at those fears of recession and the sort of continuing worries over China.

But I think if you talk to experts about this they struggle to see a sustained decline in oil prices over the long term because of those supply constraints. The International Energy Agency expects that about three million barrels of oil a day from Russia could come off the market. It could just simply not be produced because of sanctions this year. That means OPEC Plus will struggle to meet its production targets.

And so, even if we do get recessions in parts of the developed and developing world, that could be offset by the tightness that we're seeing in supply, even if we get a resurge in China. So, many people believe that prices, while perhaps might moderate a little bit, are not going to continue a downward trend.

ROMANS: You know, I want to talk about the dollar quickly here. For Americans visiting Italy, France, or Spain this summer, this is the most affordable it's been in two decades. If you can afford the plane ticket and get through the airport disaster -- I mean, this is actually a good time for Americans to be traveling to Europe. Explain.

SEBASTIAN: Yes, and you've got to have the (INAUDIBLE), Christine, because Europe needs the money right now from all those tourism dollars.

But look, the reason why when you see the euro sort of approaching parity with the dollar, that usually means that Europe is in a worse situation than America, and that really is what we're seeing at the moment.

Europe is much more vulnerable to the situation with the war in Ukraine. It's not just seeing the effect of higher energy prices, which the U.S. is feeling, but it's also actually reliant on the energy that comes from Russia. And there's significant disruption to that at the moment, threatening shortages going into winter.

We're seeing Germany, for example, reporting a monthly trade deficit. There are concerns that economy, the biggest in Europe, could contract.

And the other thing to note here when it comes to the euro is the disparity in what the central banks are doing. The Fed, as we know, has now raised rates three times this year in evera-increasing increments. The ECB, the European Central Bank, has yet to act at all. And frankly, even if it did raise rates this month, which it's promising to do, a half-percent rate rise only gets it to zero. So that means --


SEBASTIAN: -- investors are much more likely to park their money in dollars, and that's why we're seeing this happening with the exchange rate.

ROMAN: Clare, the president -- the American president goes to Cleveland today to tout aspects of the American -- his American Rescue Plan and help for -- how it helps union workers.

What can the president -- what do you expect to hear from the president today? And I'm wondering, there's just a sour mood in the U.S. about the economy even after all of these historic things -- you know, infrastructure and the American Rescue Plan and other things have been deployed to help Americans. I wonder if there's anything he can say to sort of turn that mood around.

SEBASTIAN: Yes. I mean, look, he -- the situation right now is that workers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied because of inflation and because wages, while they have been rising, are not keeping pace with inflation.

The tone that the president has been taking recently is to try to pin a lot of the situation on the war in Ukraine. He's called it Putin's tax on food and gas, really trying to brand it as something that is directly as a result of that and therefore, not as a result of the administration's policies.

But I think he has to express some understanding with what people are going through and he is a president that isn't as good at sharing that kind of empathy. But I think we can still expect him to talk about the impact of the war in Ukraine on this.

ROMANS: Yes, I think so, too.

All right, Clare Sebastian. Nice to see you this morning. Thanks.

All right. Coming up, the president says -- the White House says President Biden has read Brittney Griner's letter. How they're responding.



ROMANS: All right. The White House says President Biden has read WNBA star Brittney Griner's handwritten plea for help from a Russian prison.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. What is the White House saying?


Well, that letter really seemed to indicate that she was in the dark about --


MANNO: -- what her future holds, which is maybe the most distressing part of this.

She has been detained on drug-related charges in Moscow for just shy of 150 days now. Her trial expected to resume tomorrow. She does face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. In her letter to the president, Griner wrote, "I'm terrified I might be here forever." She was begging President Biden not to forget about her and the other detainees.

And yesterday, White House officials confirmed that Biden had read the letter and that he is committed to doing everything in his power to get Griner and the others back home.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a priority for this president. He is doing everything that he can. The White House is closely coordinating as well with the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs who has met with Brittney's family, her teammates, and her support network. So we are going to continue to have those conversations and we're going to make sure that she and others get home safely.



MANNO: Griner's WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury, are holding a "Bring BG Home" rally in front of their arena tonight. They continue to try to spread awareness of what's going on with her.

Meantime, the family of former Bronco's wide receiver Demaryius Thomas says the late NFL star had the degenerative brain disease CTE when he passed away at the end of last year. The 33-year-old's parents said he'd been suffering from memory loss and paranoia and frequent headaches before dying of a seizure in December.

And they said they donated his brain for study because that's what he would have wanted. Boston University researchers came back with a diagnosis yesterday and Thomas is now one of more than 300 former NFL players that lab has diagnosed with the disease.

Elsewhere in sports, 3-time defending champion Novak Djokovic is headed to the semifinals at Wimbledon after getting a huge scare from Jannik Sinner. Djokovic dropping the first two sets to the 20-year-old but rallied to win the match in five. The epic comeback extending Joker's Wimbledon winning streak to 26 straight. He hasn't lost at the All England Club since 2017.

Tiger Woods continues to gear up for his return to competitive golf competing in a pro-am in Ireland as a warm-up for next week's British Open. The 15-time Major winner closed with a two-over 74 to finish tied for 39th. He wanted to make sure he was able to compete in the final major championship of the year, which is why he opted to skip the U.S. Open last month.


TIGER WOODS, 15-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: The plan was to play in the U.S. Open but physically, I was not able to do that. There's no way physically I could -- I could have done that. I had some issues with my leg and it would have put this tournament in jeopardy. And so, there's no reason to do that.


MANNO: And lastly for you this morning, ready, set, mow. Racers aimed to be a cut above the rest at the lawnmower world championships in a rural village in England over the weekend. So this is mowers, Christine, in 16 different categories competing on a quarter-mile track in this -- we'll call it a grassroots sport because we love puns --

ROMAN: (Laughing)

MANNO: -- before 6 a.m.

It's the first time in three years that the races have been held. And for safety reasons, the blades were removed from the machine, naturally. You don't want this to --

ROMANS: Are these grown-ups?

MANNO: -- turn into -- yes. It looks like grown-ups. I mean, I use that term loosely.

The thing I think about is any time anybody complains about cutting the grass this summer, just maybe try to figure out how to turn it into a competitive sport.

ROMANS: I love it.

MANNO: Take the blades out if you're really going to go for it.


MANNO: That's a little bit of --

ROMANS: You could have had a lot more puns in there.

MANNO: Really?

ROMANS: You could have said a competition that's a cut above. There's a lot of different ones you could have used.

MANNO: Well, I try to limit the puns to three or less before 6 a.m. -- but really fun -- fun stuff.

ROMANS: We were talking about a story right before the break about American travel to Europe has never been --


ROMANS: -- cheaper in 20 years.

MANNO: I know -- if you can get over there.

ROMANS: If you -- well, if you can get the plane tickets because the plane tickets are pretty expensive. I was looking at Italy in November and those tickets were kind of expensive. But it's amazing to see that once you get there, when you get through the airport experience, this is the cheapest it's been in 20 years to go to Europe.

MANNO: Yes. I'm always kind of jealous when I go over to Europe and I see everybody else spending so loosely because the value of whatever their currency is is so strong. So maybe people can --

ROMANS: Right.

MANNO: -- head over there and do the same this time around.

ROMANS: Where would you go? Where would you go?

MANNO: I was fortunate enough to go to Spain a couple of months ago. I had a really nice time there. But Italy is my number one, always.

ROMANS: Did Spain feel like it was opened up? Did it feel like it was like a normal pre-COVID experience, or were people still --

MANNO: It did. It did, actually. We flew into Barcelona and drove about two miles outside of the city, so I didn't really get a feel for what --

ROMANS: Right.

MANNO: -- Barcelona felt like. And we were in kind of a sleepy, dreamy beach town, which was --


MANNO: -- amazing, for a couple of days. And it was very relaxed but I feel like it's a little bit more relaxed now.

ROMANS: A girl can dream. I look at the chart -- the euro chart and I'm like oh.

MANNO: Yes. Well, I'll listen to you. Anything about money, I'm going to listen to you.

ROMANS: Carolyn Manno with the sports report. Thank you.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now.