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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Sources: White House Leans Toward Canceling $10,000 For Some Borrowers; Russian Paratrooper Speaks Out About Putin's Ukraine "Lie"; Columbus, Ohio Teachers Reject School Board's Offer. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired August 23, 2022 - 05:30   ET



KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: So, maybe southern sections of Alabama and into the Florida peninsula could be affected as well.

So, still keeping our eye out on it and this is going to be a very dynamic situation -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, and a lot of weather-related flight cancellations and stuff yesterday. So I would say anybody going -- anybody going to the airport, check out what's happening before you -- before you take off.

Thank you so much. Nice to see you.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN ANCHOR: More than 15 inches of rain in east Dallas.

ROMANS: I can't believe it.

JIMENEZ: That's -- oh my gosh.

Well, coming up, voters in New York and Florida are about to head to the polls on this primary Tuesday.

ROMANS: But first, CNN learns which borrowers could have their student loan debt forgiven by the president.



ROMANS: All right. As college students across the country return to campus, the Biden administration appears on the verge of making many of them and their parents very happy. Officials are leaning toward forgiving thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

CNN's Jasmine Wright live in Washington. And Jasmine, the framing of this had been maybe $10,000 in student loan relief for people who met a certain income threshold. Is that still where the White House is leaning?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. Well, that's something that the White House has been weighing for some time, which is exactly what you said -- $10,000 per borrower with a caveat. And that would be only eligible for folks who make $125,000 or less, tying it to an income threshold -- really kind of anticipation of attacks from the right that the Biden administration may be giving money to folks who don't need it.

Now, the move, which sources tell CNN could come as early as Wednesday, is something that they're still leaning towards -- considering -- but it's not exactly clear that the final decision has been made of exactly what that announcement could be or even what the parameters of the program could be. Even now, we know that they are still discussing whether or not to provide additional forgiveness for certain parts of the population.

But we know that the president has to make a decision by August 31, which is when those student loan repayments start, and it's when the White House has said that we will hear something about it by then.

Now, of course, Christine, we know that the president has been under immense pressure to forgive up to $50,000 of student loans. That's what folks within his own party, including Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and NAACP president Derrick Johnson, have identified as really being impactful -- the most impactful for borrowers, but it's something that the president has outright said that he won't do.

Still, up until this point, this president has forgiven the most amount of student loans of any president -- up to $32 billion that he's forgiven for folks mainly who have been defunded for those for- profit colleges and permanently disabled borrowers. Of course, we also know that he's paused that student loan repayment four times since taking office.

So, of course, a high-stakes decision here for the president -- really consequential ahead of the midterms. No doubt folks will be watching to see exactly what he decides -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yes. President Trump paused those student loan payments twice. President Biden has now four times. A lot of people expect him to do it again but will he show them the money? He promised some debt relief.

There are even some Democrats, though -- middle-of-the-road Democrats who say that doesn't fix the problem of tuition rising. It doesn't fix that problem. It wouldn't fix the whole problem. But we'll see what happens and what they do.

Jasmine, thank you so much.

All right. Coming up, a new investigation now underway into the brutal police beating of a suspect in Arkansas. Plus --


PAVEL FILATYEV, RUSSIAN SOLDIER (through translator): It's awful to realize that Russia is destroying Ukraine and Ukraine hates Russia because of what we are doing.


JIMENEZ: A Russian disillusioned with the war and speaking to CNN. That's next.



JIMENEZ: We're now hearing from a Russian soldier risking his life in his first television interview to describe to CNN in clear terms the quote "lie behind his country's invasion of Ukraine."

CNN's Matthew Chance has more.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first wave of Russian forces crack airborne troops like we met outside Kyiv just hours after the war began. Outgunned, these men were quickly pushed back. But elsewhere in Ukraine, others held on, fighting what the Kremlin still calls its special military population.

But now, six months on, there are very public signs of discontent.

FILATYEV (through translator): It's awful to realize that Russia is destroying Ukraine and Ukraine hates Russia because of what we are doing. And that the whole world thinks Russians are animals and bad people.

CHANCE (voice-over): We traveled to a secret location thousands of miles from the war zone to meet that disillusioned Russian soldier in hiding. He says he feels compelled to speak out despite the risk.

CHANCE (on camera): This is the place where we're told he's currently holed up. We have spoken to him on the phone already. He's very paranoid, concerned the Russian security forces are trying to track him down. But he has agreed to meet with us and to speak with us.

(Knock on the door)

Hi, Pavel.


CHANCE (on camera): Pavel, (INAUDIBLE).

CHANCE (voice-over): Pavel Filatyev serves in Russia's elite 56th Air Assault Regiment deployed to Ukraine's Kherson region as part of that first invasion wave. He fought for more than two months on the front lines, he told me, and was appalled by what he saw.

FILATYEV (through translator): We were dragged into the serious conflict where we're just destroying towns and not actually liberating anyone. All of that's a lie. We are simply destroying peaceful lives.

CHANCE (voice-over): And we've seen those lives destroyed. Russian troops killing thousands of Ukrainian civilians in a bloody rampage across the country. Human rights groups and others documenting alleged war crimes, including rapes and killings.

But that's something Filatyev denies witnessing at all, although he does describe how grinding battles, poor conditions, and a severe lack of basic supplies turned Russian soldiers like him into savages.


FILATYEV (through translator): Many of us had no food, no water, nor even sleeping bags. Because it was very cold at night and we couldn't sleep, we would find some rubbish -- some rags just to wrap ourselves in to keep warm.

Some took laptops, computers, and other technology, perhaps because their salary does not provide for them to get those in an honest way. Many robbed abandoned stores with mobile phones and other things. I don't want to justify their actions but it is important to understand that their poor level of life pushes them to do such things during war.

CHANCE (on camera): A lot of Ukrainians feel that you should be held responsible for what you have done and for the actions that you have taken part in. Do you think that you should be held responsible? Do you feel responsible for what you've done?

FILATYEV (through translator): Look, the majority of Russian servicemen did not break the laws of combat. But morally, I feel guilty -- guilty for being used as an instrument in political games, which will not even bring Russia any benefit. Our army has been destroyed. My government has destroyed almost every sphere with corruption and everyone in Russia knows it.

CHANCE (voice-over): But Filatyev is the Russian soldier to speak up, publishing his scathing frontline memoirs on social media before fleeing his homeland. Now, he's in exile and he fears a potential target, too, for the powers he's criticized.

Matthew Chance, CNN.


ROMANS: That's remarkable reporting from Matthew Chance. I mean, the work they do there is just amazing. Thank you for that.

JIMENEZ: It's stunning.

ROMANS: All right, Dr. Anthony Fauci announcing plans to step down and talking about it live on "NEW DAY."



ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Business this morning. Looking at markets around the world, European markets are mixed following fears of gas shortages. A major gas pipeline destruction from Russian to the region. The euro also tumbling to a 20-year low overnight.

Asian markets closed lower following China's decision Monday to slash a key interest rate as it looks to tame a mortgage -- a mortgage crisis there. Also, an ongoing heat wave in China closing some factories amid rolling power outages.

On Wall Street, stock index futures leaning higher here, bouncing back after a tumble Monday on worries of more aggressive Fed rate hikes ahead. The Dow, yesterday, ended the day down more than -- look at that -- 640 points. That's almost two percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also down more than two percent. Both of those indices the worst one-day loss since mid-June.

But gas prices falling another penny overnight, down to $3.89 a gallon. There are 13 states now that have an average below $3.50 a gallon.

Ford is set to cut 3,000 corporate jobs. Ford slashing costs as it makes the transition to electric vehicles. Ford says 2,000 jobs are salaried positions; another 1,000 are contract employees. In an email to employees, Ford said it would begin notifying the affected workers this week.

Ford aims to generate half of its global sales from fully-electric vehicles by the year 2030.

A new survey from Redfin sheds some light on the cooling housing market. U.S. homes sales in July fell 199 percent year-over-year -- levels not seen since the start of the pandemic. On the flip side, home prices -- they were up again. But home prices growing at the slowest pace since June 2020.

Redfin cites higher mortgage rates and economic uncertainty as factors driving the unpredictability in the real estate market. Existing home sales data comes out later this morning.

JIMENEZ: Well, Tom Brady is back. I can't say I'm happy as a Falcons fan. But, you know, he's back -- he's back nonetheless. The superstar quarterback returned to Buccaneers' training camp after an 11-day hiatus.

Andy Scholes, you've got this morning's Bleacher Report. OK, again, I'm not happy he's back but there are a lot of people that are happy he's back.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oh yes. We're all wanting to see Tom Brady play at least one more season in the NFL.

But it's been one of the biggest mysteries in sports over the last couple of weeks. You know, where has Tom Brady been? What's he been doing? Well, Pro Football Network reported Brady went on a family vacation to the Bahamas. Now, Brady didn't speak to the media yesterday in his return so we still don't know if that's the reason for his 11-day absence.

He did, though, shoot down the rumor that he was on "THE MASKED SINGER." He said that's not the case while tweeting out this video pretending he was the guy in Brady Brand underwear doing tricks on a motorcycle.

Now, Brady's teammates, meanwhile -- they were happy to have him back.


CAMERON BRATE, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS TIGHT END: If anyone can get away with the 11-day break during training camp it's Tom. And yes, he came back kind of firing all cylinders again today. So, yes, we're all excited he's back and ready to move on with that -- yes.

LAVONTE DAVID, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS LINEBACKER: I mean, obviously, his presence is one of a kind. He's Tom Brady. So when he's not out there, you kind of know. But after the first couple of days or whatever went by we just went on back to our regular training program -- everybody going out there to work.


SCHOLES: All right. It seemed unlikely a few weeks ago but Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols is making a charge towards seven home -- 700 home runs before he retires at the end of the season. Last night against the Cubs he hit number 693 -- the only run in the 1-0 win -- and that was his seventh home run in the last 12 days.

Pujols now just four away from passing A-Rod for fourth place on the all-time home run list and seven short of joining Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth as the only players ever to hit 700.


The Cardinals have got 39 games left this season.

All right, Yankees and Mets playing a quick 2-game Subway Series. This is the first.

Aaron Judge finally ending his longest homerless streak of the season. This is his first home run in nine games -- his 47th of the season. Judge is on pace to tie Roger Maris' Yankees record of 61 home runs in a season.

The Yankees beat Matt Scherzer and the Mets in that one 4-2, the final.

Now, during this game, check out this Yankees fan. He's turning his hot dog link into a straw, and then he is going to take that link and put it in his beer and start drinking it.

And guys, I'm all for combining foods, trying new things -- not for that. That doesn't sound great.

JIMENEZ: Oh my gosh. I was told New York does not claim that guy. I don't know what the guy was doing.

Andy, thank you so much this morning --

SCHOLES: All right.

JIMENEZ: -- as always.

Well, teachers in Columbus, Ohio are going on strike just days before the start of the new school year. The union represents nearly 4,000 teachers in Ohio's largest school district. And officials say they're demanding better teaching and learning conditions.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This strike is an investment in the future of our city. And we will continue fighting until we have safe, properly maintained, and fully resourced schools in every neighborhood.


JIMENEZ: The union says 94 percent of its members voted to reject the school board's last, best, and final offer. The Columbus teachers are striking for the first time since 1975.

Walmart has been ordered to pay an Oregon man more than $4 million in a racial discrimination lawsuit. Michael Mangum claims he was racially profiled by a Walmart employee back in March 2020. He says the associate, identified as Joe Williams, spied on him, ordered him to leave, and then called the police when he refused.

Mangum's attorney says once officers arrived, they were dismissive of Williams' complaint because of his shifting explanations and previous false reports.

Mangum wants this to be a teachable moment for young kids.


MICHAEL MANGUM, AWARDED $4.4 MILLION IN WALMART RACIAL DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT: I hope they don't focus on the money. That's not my message. My message is that tell the truth. Stand up for yourself when you know you're right.


JIMENEZ: Williams was fired four months later for an unrelated incident.

Now, Pfizer is submitting an application to the FDA seeking emergency use authorization of a new, updated COVID-19 booster. The updated formulation will combine Pfizer's original vaccine with one that specifically targets Omicron subvariants Biden administration.4 and BA-5, which are dominant in the U.S. right now.

The shot is designed for use by people 12 and older. White House officials have said updated boosters should be available in September but ultimately, it will be up to the FDA to decide when the shot gets the green light.

And finally, I'm so glad to be saying this. Return to Westeros. It is a massive hit.




JIMENEZ: HBO's "HOUSE OF THE DRAGON" drew nearly 10 million viewers across all platforms in the U.S. for its series debut on Sunday. That's the biggest series premiere in HBO's history. The "GAME OF THRONES" prequel is set some 200 years before the previous series.

Warner Bros. Discovery is the parent company of both HBO and CNN.

I mean, for one, I am excited that this is back. I've been waiting for a long time. I know for a lot of people, the end of the "GAME OF THRONES" is a little bit disappointing but, I mean, come on -- exciting -- we're back.

Thanks for joining us this morning. I'm Omar Jimenez. "NEW DAY" starts right now.