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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Prime Minister Quits After Italy's Coalition Government Collapses; Russia's Objectives In Ukraine Shift Beyond Eastern Region; Home Prices Hit All-Time High As Sales Slow And Builders Pull Back. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 21, 2022 - 05:30   ET




MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: An important way in which people are getting these illegal guns are through these trafficking networks.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN ANCHOR: A brand-new CNN poll taken in the weeks after the shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde finds 69% believe government and society can take action to prevent mass shootings. The share of Americans who believe that has risen over the past decade comparing surveys conducted after other mass shootings such as Parkland and Newtown, Connecticut.

The federal investigation into Hunter Biden's business activities has reached a critical stage. Sources telling CNN that investigators are considering possible charges against the president's son, though no final decision has been made quite yet. Those charges include -- or could include alleged tax violations and making a false statement in connection with the purchase of a firearm. Hunter Biden would have been prohibited from buying a gun at the time because of his struggles with drug addiction.

Drivers waiting in line for more than a week to fill up their tanks just ahead. And Russia's changing objectives in the war on Ukraine.



FISHER: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has resigned, sparking new uncertainty at a critical time for Italy and Europe.

Barbie Nadeau is live Rome. And Barbie, this is the second time that Draghi tried to resign. This time, the president accepted. What happened?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it is complicated. Italian politics are always complicated.

This country was supposed to go into elections in May of 2023. Draghi, who is a face -- a respectable face of the Italian government, a eurocrat, and former president of the European Central Bank, was put in place in February 2021 when the last government fell. The reason it fell this time -- the reason he lost his support is because of an eye to the upcoming elections.

Now, the center-right coalition -- which is led by familiar names like Silvio Berlusconi, Matteo Salvini, and a relative newcomer Giorgia Meloni -- are polling well. And so, they want elections to be a -- snap elections to be called. They want the voters to go to the ballot box right now.

Put against that the backdrop of instability in the country -- the pandemic, the war in Europe, the Five Star Movement. The anti- establishment Five Star Movement that won the highest number of votes in the last election in 2018 has imploded from the inside.

So really, there's no choice but to go to the ballot box and let the Italians try to figure out who they want to take this forward. Mario Draghi has had enough, he says.

FISHER: Barbie, thank you so much.

Well, from Italy's politics to Ukraine and that -- the war that Russia has started in Ukraine. Russia's objectives really now are extending beyond just the eastern Donbas region.

In an interview with his own state media, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that they haven't forgotten Ukraine's south and other territories.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live in Kyiv, Ukraine. And Nic, I mean, walk us through what Lavrov said and how Ukrainians are reacting to those remarks.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Lavrov seems to be responding to the fact that the new U.S.-supplied missile systems -- the HIMARS systems are being effective but they're longer-range than what the Ukrainians have had them or precise than what the Ukrainians have had before, and they're effective.

We've heard from Russia's defense chief also saying that a priority for Russian forces is to target these HIMARS systems.

Lavrov is saying that because these weapons systems have a longer range, therefore, Russia is going to have to push deeper into Ukraine to make sure its borders are safer.

The foreign minister here in Ukraine has said this really shows that Russia is not interested in diplomacy -- is interested in taking more territory. And that's what Lavrov has spoken about there -- pushing deeper into Ukraine's south trying to get more of Ukrainian territory.

What I think you can also interpret Lavrov saying here is a sort of warning if you will -- not that it's going to make any difference -- to the United States and the U.K. who are both considering sending even longer-range versions of HIMARS-type systems to the Ukrainians. It is clear that these weapons systems are worrying Russian officials -- that they're troubling their generals.

We know today from the Ukrainians they hit another six ammunition stores in the Kherson region. And Ukrainian officials are saying the systems are so successful they're holding back Russian advances. And I think this is why you're getting this anger and bellicose reaction from Sergey Lavrov. But clearly, it indicates Russia intending to push deeper into Ukraine.

FISHER: Yes, which has to make so many Ukrainians even more nervous.

Nic Robertson live in Kyiv for us. Thank you.

So just ahead, NASA finally setting a launch date for its brand-new moon rocket. And the housing market cooling off, begging the question buy now or wait?



FISHER: Well, potential homebuyers are being pushed out of the market by skyrocketing prices. The median home price hit an all-time high in June, $416,000, up more than 13% from over a year ago. And it's causing home builders to really hit the brakes. June housing starts fell 2% from May and more than 6% from a year ago.

And as if that weren't enough, mortgage rates continuing to climb, now at 5.5%, up nearly two points since January.

So let's bring in Bess Freedman. She's the CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, a real estate company with 3,000 agents in Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. That's a lot. Good morning, Bess.

BESS FREEDMAN, CEO, BROWN HARRIS STEVENS: Good morning, Kristin. So nice to see you.

FISHER: Yes, great to see you, too.

So I think it's no surprise here, right? I mean, it's been a tough time to be a prospective homebuyer. What advice do you have for somebody who wants to purchase a home but feels like they just can't in this market?

FREEDMAN: I mean, I think there's still incredible opportunity in the housing market. I mean, if you look at 2021, the exuberance that was there was unprecedented. And today, we're shifting into a new landscape. And remember, the market is there to serve us, not to instruct us.


So I think if people are prequalified -- they have their mortgages ready and they have a little bit of savings, I still think there's incredible opportunity because rates are still historically very low.

FISHER: And so, what about those who are looking to try to sell a home in this market? What advice do you have for them?

FREEDMAN: I mean, it depends. For example, if you go to places like Connecticut and Palm Beach, the supply has shriveled up, and so there's still incredible demand. And I think that people who want to sell -- they are still getting really good prices.

You know, the market is all about supply and demand. That's what housing is all about. And for people that need to buy or need to sell, they're going to continue to do that because of the cycle of life.

People get divorced, people have babies, people pass away. And so that's going to continue whether it is a buyer's market or a seller's market. Housing is essential for people and I think it is still a very good time for people to buy.

FISHER: Many people who would prefer to buy a home are having to rent instead, and that's really driving up rental rates. How is that affecting what you're seeing in the current housing market?

FREEDMAN: I mean, for example, in New York City, rental prices hit an all-time high of $4,000 and the rental market has been bonkers. Landlords are very happy right now because as you know, during COVID, vacancy rates were incredibly high and now it's totally shifted.

So you're not getting any deals in rentals right now. But like everything, it shifts and it will change in due time. So it's not ideal to rent, especially in New York City.

FISHER: Yes. It feels like it wasn't all that long ago that rental rates were just dropping. Now, that's bonkers -- they're bonkers, as you say.

FREEDMAN: They're bonkers, definitely.

FISHER: So, Bess, one more thing before I let you go. You know, at some point, these rates are going to have to come down, right? I know you can't see into the future but if you had to guess, when will that be?

FREEDMAN: You know, I think it's going to be a little while. I think we have at least another, I would say six months to a year of this sort of challenging market. But I would tell people not to get discouraged by it because if you look at rates -- yes, they've doubled so people's spending power is less. But historically, even at 5.51%, they're still very low and they are still incredible opportunities.

So I would not be discouraged by the rates. I think go out there -- there's opportunities. The market is still moving and steady.

FISHER: Got it.

Well, Bess Freedman, thank you so much for waking up early with us. We appreciate it.

FREEDMAN: Thank you. Love being here. Take care of yourself.

FISHER: You bet -- you, too.

So, diesel fuel is one of the many things in short supply in Cuba, and drivers there -- sometimes they have to wait in line for more than a week to fill up.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is on the ground in Havana.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN HAVANA-BASED CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The line for diesel in Havana seems to go on forever and barely moves. It takes days now for these drivers to fill up their tanks. Yes, you heard that right. People wait here for days to get fuel and don't even think about leaving the line -- not even for a second.

IVAN, WAITING DAYS TO FILL UP CAR: (Speaking foreign language).

OPPMANN (voice-over): "We can't go," he says. "If you leave, someone else takes your spot. Then you have to go back to the beginning and start all over again."

So, drivers catch some z's in their cars, brush their teeth by the side of the road, kill the hours playing dominos, hoping the next increasingly scarce shipment of fuel comes soon.

OPPMANN (on camera): The people who are at the front of this very long line say they've been waiting for eight days to fill up their trucks and their cars with diesel. They'll sleep in their trucks and have their family bring them food. What they didn't want to do is talk to us on camera. They said if they complain too publicly they might lose their place in line.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Battered by the pandemic, U.S. sanctions, and a global supply chain disrupted by the war in Ukraine, Cuba is confronting the worsening energy crisis. Large parts of the communist- run island are being hit by longer and longer power outages. Keeping the lights on requires more fuel than the Cuban government has on hand.

MIGUEL DIAZ-CANEL, CUBAN PRESIDENT: (Speaking foreign language).

OPPMANN (voice-over): "The power plants have consumed more of the small amount of fuel that we have," he says. "Fundamentally, diesel, which costs us a lot of work to get. It means that our generation of energy is affected, as are important economic activities."

Analysts say the whole grid is in danger of collapsing.

JORGE PINON, LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN ENERGY PROGRAM: You have a number of cumulative effects that are taking place that cannot be solved with Band-Aids. We're talking about major structural investments in the billions of dollars that's going to take a number of years to solve this problem.

OPPMANN (voice-over): Blackouts in July 2021 sparked the largest anti-government protest in decades. Already this summer, outages have caused people to take to the streets, banging pots and pans to demand the power be restored.


But with the government warning that the blackouts and fuel shortages will continue, Cubans can expect a long, hot, and tense summer ahead of them.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


FISHER: Well, still ahead, we will update gas prices here in the United States. And tonight's high-stakes January 6 hearing. Never- before-seen video of the former president from the day after the riot.


DONALD TRUMP, THEN-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness, and hate.





NEIL ARMSTRONG, FIRST PERSON TO SET FOOT ON THE MOON: That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.


FISHER: NASA is celebrating the 53rd anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landings with a big announcement -- potential dates for its next mission to the moon.

The first attempt for the first uncrewed test flight of its new Artemis-1 rocket will be August 29. Backup dates are in early September, though NASA is cautioning that those dates could easily change not only because this is a brand-new rocket that's never flown before, but also because it is peak hurricane season in Florida -- yes.

But if all goes well, NASA hopes to return American astronauts to the moon and land the first woman and the first person of color by 2025.

Well, some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment turned out for last night's ESPY Awards, and there was no shortage of emotional moments.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning, Carolyn.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kristin. You're right -- the ESPYS are about humanity and they're also about sports. And so, "Last night was awesome, baby" -- to quote the evening's signature honoree. That was legendary broadcaster Dick Vitale, who received the Jimmy V. Award for Perseverance. This is an honor that's named after his late friend, former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano, who died of cancer back in 1993.

And the 83-year-old Vitale, who actually battled lymphoma himself, gave an impassioned speech stressing the importance of cancer research.


DICK VITALE, JIMMY V. PERSEVERANCE AWARD WINNER: Jimmy's dream was to beat cancer and we must do it because it doesn't discriminate. It comes after all. In fact, I want everybody in this room that knows somebody they love, knows somebody in the family, or maybe themself that's battled cancer to please stand. Well, take a look at this room. It doesn't matter race, religion -- it'll bring you to your knees.

There's only one way to beat it, my friends. We've got to raise dollars and give the oncologists a fighting chance.


MANNO: The ESPYS also honored former heavyweight boxing champion and current mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Actor Dwayne Johnson accepted the award on behalf of Klitschko who remained in his native Ukraine.

In a statement, Klitschko said, "This award is not for me. This is a recognition of the courage of the Ukrainian people, who have been bravely resisting the Russian aggressor for more than three months. This is an award for everyone who defends the independence and freedom of Ukraine."

Brittney Griner was also top of mind last night as you might expect, as the U.S. government continues to work towards her release from Russia. WNBA stars Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith joining ESPY host Steph Curry to urge fellow athletes to keep saying her name.


NNEKA OGWUMIKE, L.A. SPARKS: The more we say her name the louder our voices will be.

SKYLAR DIGGINS-SMITH, PHOENIX MERCURY: The more we see her face the closer we'll feel to her and her to us.

STEPHEN CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: We cannot stop fighting for her. We cannot stop believing for her. And we will not stop hoping for the day when we can welcome her home safely.


MANNO: And Olympian Katie Ledecky was named Best Female Athlete. The 25-year-old, who won four golds at the World Championships last month, urging the parents watching to teach their kids how to swim -- a task that she described as a really important life skill.

She had this message for the next generation.


KATIE LEDECKY, 7-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: To all the young athletes out there, all the young kids, young adults, find something that you really love, that you're good at, that can be a positive force in our world.


MANNO: It's great stuff, Kristin, there. She's so poised -- only 25 years old.

But as you can see last night, a number of athletes really speaking out about the issues that they care about, joining the national discussion, and that was a very big part of the evening as well. And great to see Dickie V. honored, of course.

FISHER: Yes. I really liked Katie Ledecky's message to parents saying that you've got to teach your kids how to swim. But I've been trying for about four years with my daughter and I've failed so far. So maybe she can come and help teach my daughter how to swim.

MANNO: I'll give her a call. I'll say Kristin needs some swim lessons and it's not going well.

FISHER: It's taken four years and we've just now gotten comfortable with her getting her head wet in either the pool or the bathtub. So --

MANNO: No, it is so important, as you know. I mean, it makes headlines all the time.


MANNO: And so it's great to see her spread that awareness.

Good luck to you.

FISHER: I'm trying, Katie. I'm trying, Katie Ledecky.

MANNO: We'll talk to her.

FISHER: Thank you, Carolyn.

MANNO: Sure.

FISHER: And thanks, all of you, for joining us. I'm Kristin Fisher. "NEW DAY" starts right now.