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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

FBI Faces Unprecedented Number Of Threats After Mar-a-Lago Search; Wounded Ukrainian Troops Treated At Secret Field Hospital; Houston Astros Host Members Of Uvalde Community. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 15, 2022 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: What does say to you about the threats being made? I mean, we saw this weekend an armed protest outside an FBI office in Arizona. There was a shootout last week in Ohio that ended in the -- in the death of a 42-year-old man. There are words but there's also, I mean, examples of where people are in very dangerous situations here.


You're absolutely right. And look, the volume and nature of these threats as has been reported is unprecedented. And it's important to also point out that these are not just threats against FBI agents. We're also seeing an increase in threats against government installations across the country and against government personnel. That's the same people who have nothing to do with the FBI but they simply work for the government.

And I'll tell you what these threats tell me is that we not only have a significant distraction from the law enforcement work that the FBI does in field offices across the country but there's also the issue here of what this really means in terms of, as you said, not just the words but the behavior of these individuals.

You know, when we look at these threats we -- what we -- what we're doing is we're looking at them through the same lens that we look at foreign threats. You know, what are the things out there that might be a threat to our national security, a threat to our government, and a threat to U.S. personnel?

And the difference here is that when we're looking at those in a foreign context, we're looking at threats that are outside of the United States and when we're looking at people who have limited ability to threaten us. But these threats are right here in the United States and they are threats being made by people who have a degree of protection that those others don't have. So that's why this is particularly disturbing. This is not just about words, this is a serious issue --


TURNER: -- to our FBI.

ROMANS: How important would it be for the former president to stand up and make a very strong statement saying threats against law enforcement are dangerous and out of line?

TURNER: You know, I think it would be helpful. But at this point, when the threat makes those -- when the president makes those kinds of proclamations there oftentimes -- you know, they oftentimes have caveats. So while I think that any statement from any leader about the importance of allowing law enforcement to do their job could be helpful, I don't know that we could expect much sincerity out of them with the president considering some of his more recent remarks.

ROMANS: Yes. I mean, remember, the president told racists in Charlottesville to stand by -- the Proud Boys to stand by and stand back. That actually emboldened the movement and they used that sort of as a -- you know, as a rallying cry even.

TURNER: Right.

ROMANS: The Democratic chairs of the House Intelligence and the Oversight Committees requested an official assessment of damage to the national security in the wake of the -- that revelation of those Mar- a-Lago documents. How serious might that damage be in your opinion?

TURNER: You know -- you know, Christine, I lived through the whole Edward Snowden affair when he took hundreds of thousands of documents and we did assessments then of what the damage to our national security might be.

And what I can tell you is that any time classified documents at the TS SCI level are taken from a secure government facility and are out there for individuals who are not cleared to see that information -- any time you have a situation it doesn't matter if it's one document or if it's thousands of documents, those documents are classified because they represent sensitive national security information. So the threat is always going to be there.

Now, we don't know the substance of these documents but what I can tell you is that they would not be classified at the TS SCI level --


TURNER: -- if there was not information there that could be harmful to our national security.

ROMANS: All right, Shawn Turner, CNN national security analyst. Thank you so much for joining us this morning. Nice to see you.

TURNER: Thanks, Christine -- you, too.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, school districts offering big bonuses to recruit new teachers. And CNN goes inside a secret field hospital under fire in Ukraine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Everyone in this hospital knows the front line is getting closer, and that can only mean one thing -- more casualties.




ROMANS: All right, more explosions near a sprawling nuclear plant have accelerated the evacuation of the southern Ukrainian town of Zaporizhzhia. The New York Times reports 1,000 cars are back up trying to leave.

Meanwhile, front line medics in Eastern Ukraine are bringing in wounded troops at an alarming rate. CNN's Nic Robertson visited a secret treatment center that has already been hit several times by Russian shelling. I want to warn you this report contains graphic images.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): At a front line field hospital a soldier gets stitched up. Russian forces getting closer. More casualties, military and civilian, coming in.

DIMA, VASCULAR SURGEON: A lot of (INAUDIBLE) in last week when the Russian starts to shots (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTSON (voice-over): The hospital has been hit more than once. Its location, secret.

NIELS ERIXSON, VOLUNTEER MEDIC: This place that I'm working in is a stabilization point, so all casualties from the zero line or from the red zone are taken here.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Volunteer medic Niels, himself, injured during recent shelling.

Surgeon Dima's priority, get patients stable and to safety, and get ready for more.

DIMA: We come at a time to clean the rooms after the injured. You come into the room and a lot of blood on the floor.

ERIXSON: And then transport units like mine. We then transport them to the next level of care and -- in safer areas.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Arriving for better care at a rear base hospital, this soldier -- the high-spec volunteer ambulance keeping him alive on the journey -- taken directly for a CT scan.


ERIXSON: We had our surgeon and our anesthesiologist in the back together with the patient doing all the necessary interventions to keep him alive.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In other rooms, civilians are also getting treated. Vasily hit by a cluster bomb. His leg badly broken, his arm requiring surgery, too.

VASILY, WOUNDED UKRAINIAN CIVILIAN: (Speaking foreign language).

ROBERTSON (voice-over): "I've had x-rays and painkillers," he says. "Now I'm waiting to go to the next hospital."

No one kept at this rear base hospital for long either, transferred even further from the front line. Shelling here on the rise, too. They need the beds freed fast.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Everyone in this hospital knows the front line is getting closer and that can only mean one thing -- more casualties.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): According to officials, 50 or 60 patients a day passing through. The ward won't be empty long.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Eastern Ukraine.


ROMANS: All right, incredible reporting, Nic. Thank you so much for that.

Family, friends, and fans are mourning the death of award-winning actress Anne Heche.


Clip from "Six Days Seven Nights."


ROMANS: Her family tells CNN Heche died after she was peacefully taken off life support. She suffered a severe anoxic brain injury after her car crashed into a Los Angeles home and erupted in flames 10 days ago.

Heche's family said in a statement, "Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy."

Anne Heche was just 53.

All right, the U.S. real estate market starting to shift. Will that help buyers or sellers? And the Major League pitcher who was almost perfect.



ROMANS: All right. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's 988 hotline number is expanding after its launch last month, but it turns out the level of support that 988 callers receive might depend on where they live -- on their zip code.

Let's bring in Dr. Brian Hepburn, executive director of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. Thanks for coming on this morning.

First of all, just how important it is nationwide to have this hotline. It just shows the level of commitment to this problem. But you're seeing some issues with rural areas since the rollout of 988. What are you seeing?

DR. BRIAN HEPBURN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM DIRECTORS (via Webex by Cisco): Yes. So thank you -- thank you for the invitation to be on the call.

Yes, we think 988 is really a game-changer across the country. But you're right -- there are areas that are going to lag behind others in terms of implementation. We look at what happened with 911 where it took years in order to have complete penetration across the country and we're assuming it will be something similar only, hopefully, not years -- perhaps several years rather than many years.

ROMANS: Yes, important.

HEPBURN: But specifically talking about the rural and frontier areas, it is a problem. As you know, it was a problem with access before COVID and in many ways has been made worse since COVID.

ROMANS: Is it a technology problem, a personnel -- a mental health personnel problem? What is the -- what is the disparity?

And I think we've had -- can you hear me?

HEPBURN: I'm sorry. I'm not hearing anything.

ROMANS: Uh-oh, OK. We're having our own technical problems here.

Dr. Brian Hepburn, again, on the importance of the 988 rollout of this important suicide prevention lifeline and some of the issues happening there. But we'll get back to him. Maybe we'll get -- have an update from him on another day.

All right, let's go to business here and get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world, you can see Asian shares closed mixed with Tokyo up more than one percent. Europe has opened very narrowly -- is down now, very narrowly mixed. And London down a little bit, but Paris and Frankfurt are higher.

The big story in the Asian markets -- China's central bank announcing they will slash interest rates for the first time since January. New data there indicating the country's economy losing steam due to COVID- 19 lockdowns and a lingering mortgage crisis.

Moving ahead to Wall Street, stock index futures this morning moving down after four straight winning weeks. Now, for the S&P 500, that's the longest run since last fall. Investors encouraged by signs inflation may be peaking. Gas prices falling again this morning, down to $3.96 a gallon, their lowest since March.

A big week ahead on the economy, folks. On Wednesday, retail sales for July could signal how the inflation-weary consumer is holding up. And the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its last meeting. It could give us some clues on whether the Fed is likely to aggressively raise interest rates again when it meets in September.

Those recent interest rate hikes by the Fed have made it more expensive to finance a home. This week, mortgage rates rose to 5.22 percent, up sharply from the less than three percent late last year. Several key housing reports are due out this week.

Let's bring in Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, a real estate firm with 3,000 agents in Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.


I read something last week Bess that no one's happy in real estate right now. The sellers are angry that they didn't sell at the top, right, and the buyers still can't find an affordable home. Who -- is anybody happy in real estate at the moment?

BESS FREEDMAN, CEO, BROWN HARRIS STEVENS (via Skype): You know, I think it's coming into being a much more balanced market. And you're right -- I don't think sellers or buyers are happy right now. But there still are some good opportunities, Christine, and I think what you just mentioned about gas prices falling below $4.00 a gallon, which is the first time since March, gives us a little bit of optimism. And hopefully, inflation has peaked.

But consumer confidence has been a little bit shaky with all the challenges -- the geopolitical crisis that's going on with Russia invading Ukraine, et cetera.

And so, I think we're coming into just a more balanced housing market. And remember, housing is such a long-term play. It's a safe bet. And it's about time, not timing, in housing that gives you great results.

ROMANS: We -- I guess a lot of people expect the Federal Reserve will continue to ratchet up interest rates here as it fights inflation. That will mean higher mortgage rates.

What are customers and clients telling you about higher rates and how that's affecting their ability to buy a home?

FREEDMAN: Yes. I mean, the consumer is -- has less buying power because rates have gone up. But again, Christine, mortgage rates are still historically low and we have to contextualize everything. They creeped up past five percent. I think they'll probably get raised again because there was so much money put into the economy during the pandemic. It was a tsunami of money. And so, I think now the Fed has to tighten things up. And I think there's still great opportunities and buyers can still get decent rates and they're holding back a little bit to wait and see what happens.


And we know for renters here, they're not getting any relief either. New York City just announced the average monthly rent is north of $5,000 a month. For much of the country --


ROMANS: -- you can't even -- I'm from the Midwest and you just can't even imagine something like that, but that is what happens every day in New York City.

Are people still doing this buy-rent analysis when you've got rents going up so much, too?

FREEDMAN: Yes. I mean, people are studying that. If I had any prediction, I would say that the rental market has peaked. I mean, it's -- I just had a friend tell me that his rent was increased 30 percent in New York City and that's just not sustainable for people. And so, people are getting priced out of the rental market. So I think that's going to slow down a little bit and I think people might start to consider purchasing versus renting because the prices are just too egregious right now.


What do you -- what's your advice to buyers who for the past year and a half or two years would go to an open house and would be beat out by somebody with all cash or with all these offers way above asking price? I mean, you know that was happening in the northeast, that was happening in Phoenix, that was happening in Miami -- all over the country.

Has that cooled off and does a -- does a reasonable buyer who wants to put 20 percent down and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage -- do they have a chance? Will they have a chance this year?

FREEDMAN: I mean, it really -- as you know, real estate is so local and it depends on what market. If you're in Palm Beach right now there is no supply so you're going to be challenged. But, for example, in New York City and certain parts of Brooklyn, you can be very competitive. And we're not seeing as many bidding wars. There's less people at open houses, less offers. It is August.

So I think you can get in there and find something good. I would recommend working with an agent who can help you and guide you. But there's still tons of opportunity throughout the country.

ROMANS: I wonder if there's been a decline in foreign buyers. For a long time there, so many of these first-time home buyers were international buyers competing with home buyers -- you know, first- time home buyers in the United States. Is that still the trend? FREEDMAN: Yes. We're not seeing -- I mean, there's been all this discussion of the international buyer returning to our market -- to the home buying market or investing, but we're not seeing that yet. I think it's too soon to say. It would be great. I would love to see some of that but I haven't seen it as of yet.

ROMANS: All right. So --

FREEDMAN: We could use it though -- that's for sure.

ROMANS: A real estate market getting back to normal -- getting back into balance.

Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, thank you so much. Come back soon.

FREEDMAN: Thank you, Christine. Have a great day.

ROMANS: You, too.

All right, the Houston Astros trying to bring some joy to hundreds of families from Uvalde, Texas nearly three months after that deadly school shooting.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.



Yes, the Astros trying to help the community continue to heal by hosting Uvalde Strong Day at Minute Maid Park yesterday. The team chartering 10 buses to bring approximately 500 members of the Uvalde community directly impacted by the Robb Elementary shooting for an all-inclusive game day experience. The Astros also giving out 2,500 additional tickets to the community.

Now, before the game, members of the Astros, including Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, held a Q&A with the Uvalde residents. And after that, the families got to spend some time on the field.

Now, Faith Mata, whose sister Tess was one of the 19 children who lost their lives in the shooting -- she threw out the first pitch. And Fox 26's Mark Berman spoke to her dad Jerry before she took the mound.


JERRY MATA, FATHER OF UVALDE SHOOTING VICTIM: I can't put it into words. I mean, I want to pass out when they asked and it's an honor and I just -- yes, I'm just like stunned. But it's -- it feels good. And I know my daughter from above is looking down with a smile and saying go get 'em -- go get 'em, sister.


SCHOLES: Yes. And during that Q&A before the game, a Uvalde resident asked Altuve to hit a home run for them. Well, he didn't, but Bregman did in the first inning and as he came around first place -- home plate, he pointed to all those Uvalde fans.

The Astros -- they beat the A's 6-3.

All right. Elsewhere, we were really close to history yesterday. The Rays' Drew Rasmussen had a perfect game into the ninth inning. The first pitch, though, of the night, Jorge Mateo rips this one down the left field line for a double, ending that perfect game there. Rasmussen would get a huge standing ovation from the home fans as he left the game in the ninth.

The Rays would beat the Orioles now 4-1.

The last perfect game in baseball was the Mariners' Felix Hernandez 10 years ago today.

All right, the WNBA regular season wrapping up yesterday and with the Minnesota Lynx not making the playoffs that means 2-time champ and former league MVP Sylvia Fowles' legendary career has come to an end. Fowles, who was the WNBA's all-time leading rebounder, getting pretty emotional as she got some hugs from her coach and players on the floor. She left that floor for the final time. She's going to be a mortician in her retirement.

The WNBA Playoffs begin on Wednesday.

All right, in the Premier League, meanwhile, we had all kinds of drama between Chelsea and Tottenham. After a goal tied it a one, watch the managers Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte. They had to be separated on the sideline. Then after the game ended in the draw, the handshake gets heated. Tuchel mad that Conte didn't look him in the eye. Both managers were given red cards.

The game ended in a 2-all draw. Both men saying afterward they kind of enjoyed that and it added to the intensity of the rivalry.

All right, and finally, check out the look of disappointment from this little guy after he lost the frank in his hot dog yesterday in the White Sox-Tigers game. He couldn't believe what happened there, Christine. He face-palmed and everything.

And, you know, that happens at home, Christine, right? Maybe it's the 5-second rule. You quickly go and pick it up and put it back in the bun. But there is no such thing as a 5-second rule at a ballpark.


SCHOLES: It touches the ground at a ballpark, it is gone. It is gone forever.

ROMANS: And, you know -- and, you know, the food at the ballpark cost so much, too. It's like, oh, my $15.00 hot dog.

SCHOLES: Yes. He felt the pain -- he knew. Dad didn't even react. He was like I've seen it before probably. ROMANS: Easy come, easy go.

All right --


ROMANS: -- nice to see you, Andy Scholes. Thanks.

SCHOLES: All right.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining me. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now.