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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

FBI Executes Search Warrant At Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort In Florida; DeSantis Hitting The Trail To Help GOP Candidates In Midterms; Ahmaud Arbery's Killers Get Life In Prison For Hate Crimes. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 09, 2022 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. That FBI search of Donald Trump's Florida resort setting off a political firestorm that the former president could exploit to fuel a 2024 White House bid. Federal agents focusing on Trump's offices and personal quarters in his Mar-a- Lago residence. Trump was in New York at the time. Investigators leaving his winter home with 15 boxes full of items and documents.

Several Republicans, including House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, denouncing the FBI operation as political, and McCarthy going so far as to threaten the DOJ.

Let's bring in CNN political analyst and managing editor of Axios, Margaret Talev.

So, Trump was quick to call this a raid. He said the FBI broke into his safe. Of course, this was an execution of a search warrant. Is this an opportunity for the president to sort of gin up political divides and launch a 2024 bid?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS (via Webex by Cisco): Well, Christine, sure -- and we're seeing it happening in real time. This is ultimately a search in a legal proceeding. But we're talking about American politics and the former president is certainly trying to navigate the politics and the public relations side of it right now and he is not alone.

You did see the minority leader Kevin McCarthy tweet, last night, Attorney General Garland -- "Preserve your documents and clear your calendar." No mystery there about what the threat was.

You see Ron DeSantis who, interestingly, is Donald Trump's top rival right now in the prospective, presumptive, theoretical, early wrangling for a posture in the 2024 race -- Ron DeSantis says that raid at Mar-a-Lago was an escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies. He is talking about banana republics and so on and so forth.

So, this is not just Donald Trump, although you did see -- in the moments after and hours after the search was executed you saw emails from Trump talking about schedule F and how he wants to campaign against activist civil service.

So you will see, basically, everyone in -- almost everyone in Republican leadership jump on board with some -- you know, some version of this message. And -- but so, at this moment --



TALEV: -- it is clearly a political -- you know, sort of political messaging moment for the former president.


You know, Congressman Mike Turner -- this is what he tweeted. "As the lead Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I am demanding an immediate briefing by FBI Director Wray regarding the national security risk that allegedly rose to the level of ordering a raid on the resident of a former president."

If I'm not mistaken, FBI Dir. Chris Wray is a lifelong Republican who was appointed by Donald Trump, right?

TALEV: Yes. He's a -- he was named by Donald Trump to replace Jim Comey.

And I think this is obvious but it does bear saying that the FBI and the Justice Department don't just go storming into former president's houses. There has to be a search warrant. The warrant has to be signed off on by a federal judge. We will come to know in the coming days what they were looking for and the precision with which they sought to find it. But there is a reason and we don't know it yet.

It's very difficult to talk about when we don't know yet why they felt it was necessary to go to Mar-a-Lago while Trump wasn't there, looking for very specific things that appear to be connected with documents that were, at least at one point, classified that they may have believed to be on the premises. That's what it certainly seems like. But we don't know those details so it's difficult to talk about it.

But let's keep this in context. This isn't just a power grab by the Justice Department. This is Trump's own former choice to lead the FBI and the actions of an agency where they obviously thought out the implications of this and decided that it was necessary to do it anyway.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the big primary today -- four big primaries. A Republican matchup in Wisconsin of candidates endorsed by the former president and the former vice president.

How important is that race and what are you expecting today?

TALEV: Yes, it really is quite important and it's not the first where we've seen this kind of matchup between a Trump-backed candidate and a candidate backed by the former vice president, Mike Pence, and other -- I'm going to say establishment Republicans -- establishment Republicans compared with Donald Trump.

But in this particular race, you're looking at two candidates. Tim Michels, who is a construction company owner; and a former lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, who -- you know, both of them are proposing collapsing the state's elections commission if they are elected.

But in the case of the Trump-backed candidate, he's gone even a little bit further, suggesting he might be open to considering what another candidate has called for, which is trying to decertify the 2020 election results. And just to be clear, there is no path to do that. That's not possible. But it is part of the campaign in this primary.

ROMANS: And sometimes gets energy, believe it or not, in those -- in those circles.

Margaret Talev, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning. A busy day for you.

TALEV: You, too. Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, he -- you're welcome.

He may be Donald Trump's chief rival for the 2024 Republican nomination. Now, Ron DeSantis is moving to boost his own national political profile. The Florida governor announcing plans to campaign for GOP candidates in several states, including those backed by Trump.

Let's get more this morning from CNN's Steve Contorno.


STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER (on camera): Christine, Gov. Ron DeSantis is hitting the campaign trail for his first extended push to help Republican candidates outside of the state of Florida this election cycle ahead of the midterms.

Turning Point America, a conservative organization, announced that DeSantis will headline four events later this month in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Arizona, where Republican candidates for Senate and governor are embroiled in hotly contested races ahead of the 2022 midterms.

This is really one of the first times we've seen DeSantis outside of the state of Florida to help his party in these elections. He has not done any previous events for gubernatorial candidates, even right across the border in Georgia where Gov. Kemp is in a tight contest for reelection.

But as he considers whether or not to run for president in 2024, DeSantis is now signaling that he is interested in helping his party get some important election win ahead of the 2022 midterms.

He has not, so far, engaged in the kind of proxy war that we're seeing between former president Donald Trump and former vice president Mike Pence who are endorsing, sometimes, opposing candidates in these Republican primaries.

However, Christine, DeSantis is now heading outside of Florida even though he has his own reelection fight later this year. He is such an incredibly popular figure among conservatives and they are excited to have him finally out there helping the party.


ROMANS: All right. And Steve is in Florida covering that for us. Thanks, Steve.


First, they were sentenced for murder. Now they've been sentenced for federal hate crimes. Three Georgia men getting additional sentences for killing Ahmaud Arbery. A federal judge sentenced Greg and Travis McMichael to life and their neighbor Roddy Bryan to 35 years.

Arbery was chased down, shot, and killed while jogging through their neighborhood in 2020. The attorney for Arbery's family says he hopes this will be a turning point in the civil rights movement.

CNN's Ryan Young reports.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Christine, a lot of emotion in court on Monday. Ahmaud Arbery's family actually looked all three men in their face and were able to give impact statements about how tremendous this loss has been and the idea that they had to watch Ahmaud Arbery run for his life before he was shot and killed.

In court, we actually heard Greg McMichael say sorry for the first time to the family.

All that happened and the judge still levied the sentences that she had sort of scripted out. She said she looked at all the evidence. She felt like Greg and Travis McMichael should face life in prison, and Roddy Bryan should get 35 years. That's on top of the charges they already face in the state court case.

Take a listen to Wanda Cooper-Jones talk about hearing Greg McMichael finally say he's sorry.

WANDA COOPER-JONES, MOTHER OF AHMAUD ARBERY: The apology was -- I can say that I accepted the apology, being the person that I am. I think now that he realized that he made some horrible decisions back in February. Unfortunately, his apology doesn't bring back my son but I do accept the apology.

YOUNG (on camera): And Christine, one of the things that stood out to me was when Ahmaud Arbery's aunt was talking about the fact that maybe he can now run free in heaven and not have to be worried about being shot and killed.

Back to you. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right, Ryan, thanks for that. A tough story to cover. Thanks for all your work on that.

Another day, another drop in gas prices. They have been falling every day for nearly two months. Plus, President Biden taking another legislative victory lap today signing the CHIPS Act into law.



ROMANS: All right. This morning, more encouraging news at the pump. Gas prices are still falling for the 55th day in a row. AAA says the average price for a gallon of regular now $4.03 a gallon. That's nearly 70 cents cheaper than a month ago. Still, 80 cents more than a year ago.

But this has been a swift decline here in gas prices. About half the country right now is below $4.00 a gallon and that average, many expect, will fall below $4.00 nationwide sometime this week.

I want to bring in business journalist Marc Stewart.

There's an old saying high prices cure high prices. Now it looks, as my colleague Matt Egan says, the breaking point for --


ROMANS: -- consumers, right? You see behavior change.

STEWART: Behavior has changed. And remember, just a few months ago, we were talking about how difficult it is for consumers to change their behavior, but a new survey from AAA shows that has happened.

People aren't necessarily going out to buy an electric car per se, but they are consolidating their errands, they're postponing vacations, and that's starting to have an impact. It's actually calming some of this demand. But it's just one of many factors.

Right now, demand is low but still, supply not exactly what it should be.

ROMANS: We also know that the economy was slowing in the first half of the year, so these recession fears -- that can also dampen demand. And also, we've had a -- frankly, a hurricane season, by the way, that has been very slow so far. So that's always a risk in the -- in the outlook.

STEWART: Although the meteorologists say it's going to be above normal, it started in June.

But let's not forget or discount the importance of weather. We have seen that interrupt so many things. Of course, it's refineries, but even -- I remember early in the pandemic some of the manufacturing in Texas. I believe chips were impacted.

ROMANS: Yes, interesting.

STEWART: Let's talk about consumers and what they're expecting about inflation. They have been dealing with this biting inflation hurting their budgets. The New York Fed says consumers, though -- their inflation expectations have improved a little bit. They were looking at where last month they thought 6.8 percent. Now they're saying 6.2 percent. And looking further out further, more like 3 percent and 2 percent inflation.

Is that maybe because gas prices are falling?

STEWART: It could be, in a sense, because it is a real tangible thing. Although I was reading a note this morning from Deutsch Bank. Its analysts don't feel that survey is going to have a big impact per se.

But there are other areas that consumers really are hurting. I'm thinking about housing.


STEWART: This is not something where you can shift your behavior. I think an analyst was talking to CNN just recently about the fact that demand is still very high, supply is low. That's helping to keep prices elevated.

And if you are choosing not to buy a home and perhaps rent because you feel it's more economical -- but here in New York City, $5,000 --


STEWART: -- a month is the average. And that housing, or as the economists will say, shelter -- that has a big influence on the Consumer Price Index -- how that's all weighted -- and that's released tomorrow.

ROMANS: Yes. I'm glad you brought up real estate. No one's happy in real estate right now. There were some sellers who missed their moment to sell their home and buyers who still are priced out. So, we'll watch that space.

Nice to see you, Marc.

STEWART: You, too, Christine. Take care.

ROMANS: Thank you.

President Biden set to check off another major legislative priority for his administration. Later this morning, he'll sign the CHIPS Act -- the CHIPS and Science Act into law. This bill will lower the cost of everyday goods and strengthen manufacturing innovation. It comes on the heels of the Senate passing a sweeping climate and health care bill.


A WNBA player says half the team was forced to sleep in the airport after their flight in Washington was canceled. And a new analysis shows the pay gap between men and women starts early.


ROMANS: All right. Flood-ravaged Eastern Kentucky bracing for more as a powerful storm threatens to bring heavy rain. And a separate system is taking aim at the west, raising concerns that thunderstorms could ignite new fires in Northern California and Oregon.

Let's get right to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Hey, there.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning, Christine.

Yes, when you look at what's been happening across parts of the Midwest and portions, of course, of the south -- as well seeing significant rainfall in recent days - the threshold is certainly not going to be very high here to lead to additional flooding. Portions of Rockford and areas of northwestern Illinois into eastern Iowa -- that's where the more significant rains have come down in the past couple of days -- north of six inches in those spots.


But work your way a little farther towards the south, still seeing thunderstorms this morning around St. Louis and points just to the southwest underneath flood alerts, and mainly across eastern areas of Kentucky underneath flood alerts. And again, with the amount of rainfall that has been observed here in the last two weeks, it is not going to take much to lead to additional flooding.

So, look at the risk zones of Tuesday into Wednesday. Generally going to be in the marginal to slight risk in those hardest-hit areas for rainfall potential of maybe 1 1/2 to two inches at the highest amounts in those regions with these thunderstorms.

Now, when it comes to heat, it's certainly locked in place around the northeast, from Washington to Philly, New York into Boston. Some of these areas will feel close to 105 degrees this afternoon -- Philly included. New York could feel close to 104 even though when you look at the air temperature it's at 94. But it really speaks to just how humid and how moist the atmosphere is across this region with Boston closing in on 100 degrees for the heat index in the afternoon as well.

The good news -- this is going to be short-lived here. We do expect thunderstorms later on into the evening and much cooler air, at least relative to what it's been, over the next 24 or so hours. New York drops from the 90s down to the 80s. Boston, from 95 down to 75 degrees in a span of 24 hours. So, much cooler air is on the horizon.

And you kind of take a look at this. Records have been falling by the wayside in the last couple of days around parts of the northeast. And we do expect this to be the final day here before cooler air arrives later on tonight, Christine. ROMANS: Do you promise?

JAVAHERI: I think I can promise for the cooler air, for sure.

ROMANS: I've got to tell you, yesterday, the dashboard on my car read 108 degrees. I had never seen it that hot. I mean, really, so hot the A.C. doesn't -- it barely even works, you know? One of those -- you just don't even -- don't even go to the grocery store. Just stay home.


ROMANS: All right, Pedram Javaheri. Thank you so much.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

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

Looking at markets around the world, a pretty flat performance. I mean, Europe has opened with no real move here. The Xetra Dax in Germany down a little bit, but that's not a very big move. And Asia mixed. It's closed now.

On Wall Street, stock index futures indecisive here. And it was just like that on Monday, really kind of unchanged. The Dow up 29, the Nasdaq and the S&P down a little bit.

One of the big losers, Pfizer's COVID vaccine partner BioNTech, which plunged 7 1/2 percent after missing Wall Street's profit and revenue forecast.

All right, inflation watch here. Supermarket shoppers are making trade-offs in response to soaring inflation. One of the big ones, steak is out, chicken is in. Meat processing giant Tyson says the demand for chicken is extremely strong and customers are cutting back on buying pricier steaks. That 40-year high in inflation causing people to change their behavior.

And this. New data shows the pay gap between men and women emerges soon after they graduate college and join the workforce, even for people in the same major, same degree, same college.

An analysis by The Wall Street Journal shows the disparity in wages among male and female college graduates appeared within three years after graduation, even among those receiving the same degree from the same school. In nearly half the programs, male graduates' earnings topped women's by 10 percent or more.

Researchers also found that discrimination, despite all the laws against it, remains a factor in the gender pay gap at all career levels. Still some work to do.

All right, players on a WNBA team slept overnight at an airport after their flight was canceled. Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Christine. So to keep a competitive balance, the WNBA does not allow any teams to fly charter. Everyone flies commercial. So, WNBA -- they run into the same travel problems that the rest of us do.

And the L.A. Sparks played on Sunday in D.C. then headed to Dulles airport. Their flight was delayed multiple times before eventually being canceled at 1:00 am. Half of the team went to a hotel while the other half just stayed at the airport overnight.

And Sparks forward and WNBA Players Association president Nneka Ogwumike said this was bound to happen.


NNEKA OGWUMIKE, LOS ANGELES SPARKS FORWARD: We are rooming at the airport. It's the first time in my 11 seasons that I've ever had to sleep in the airport. But based on travel, it's not expected that this has happened. It's basically -- it was only a matter of time.


SCHOLES: Yes. The Sparks finally flew back to L.A. yesterday morning. Before they left, Ogwumike posting this letter calling for the league to get charter flights for all games beginning with this year's playoffs. She also asked for private and commercial airlines to get involved in the negotiations. The WNBA has not yet responded to Ogwumike's letter.

All right, in baseball, the Yankees -- they were trying to snap a season-long 5-game losing streak last night in Seattle. And Aaron Judge connecting on his Major League-leading 44th home run of the season. He's now on pace to hit 65. The Yankees would get a win in that one 9-4.

And, Christine, it's going to be fun to watch Aaron Judge in these final two months --

ROMANS: Yes, it will.

SCHOLES: -- to see if he -- what he ends up with. The Yankees' record is 61 home runs.

ROMANS: All right, thanks so much, Andy Scholes.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

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