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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Russia Orders Arrest Of Journalist Who Protested War On Air; MAGA Conspiracists Are Now Inside The Election Process; Big Discounts At Off-Price Stores Like T.J. Maxx And Marshalls. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 21, 2022 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Kremlin was lying about the Ukraine war.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz live in London with this part of the story. Salma, what does this mean for her now that she's already out of the country?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're getting new details about this.

This is Marina Ovsyannikova. She is a journalist who really made splashes across the world when in early March she held up that sign -- I know you were playing that clip earlier -- that said "No war. Stop the war. Stop believing their lies. This is propaganda."

It, of course, sent shockwaves around the world -- that video going viral of her. She was then charged, given a fine, and put under house arrest.

But earlier this month her lawyer said she escaped that house arrest with her daughter. It was unclear how she did that given that she was wearing an ankle bracelet in one of her social media videos released online -- but able to escape. And now we understand from her lawyer that she is living under the protection of a European country, not specifying which European country that is.

Russia, in turn -- the Kremlin has not put her own a wanted list. There is charges for her to come back. That she would face prison time once she's extradited to Russia. But it's hard to imagine that any European country, wherever she may be, would willingly extradite her.

But I think her case highlights the issues of freedom of speech in Russia right now, particularly when it comes to speaking out on the war in Ukraine. We've seen hundreds of protesters arrested in recent weeks. Rights groups say that journalists cannot operate freely -- that they are often silenced or punished if they do criticize the Kremlin or criticize President Putin's war.

So, yes -- here, a journalist able to escape. Able to find some safety, hopefully, in a European country. But that plight for freedom of expression for journalism in Russia absolutely continues. ROMANS: All right, thank you so much for that, Salma.

All right. Ahead, the big stores offering unbeatable discounts right now. And election deniers running county election offices and sowing mistrust in the system.


WILLIAM PERRY, GEORGIA ETHICS WATCHDOG: I think the whole structure in Spalding County is an insider threat.



ROMANS: Arizona has referred a reported case of voter intimidation to the Justice Department for investigation after a voter claimed the group of people followed him and his wife at a ballot drop box in Maricopa County, photographed them, photographed their license plate, and accused them of being mules or someone who stuffs ballot boxes.


BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN, MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: They're taking pictures of them. And regardless of what the intent is of these people who are taking pictures of our elections workers, they're harassing people. They're not helping further the interest of democracy.


ROMANS: The complaint comes in a state that never stopped chasing conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. Candidates for governor, Senate, and other offices have been -- have backed Donald Trump's lies that the election was stolen.

CNN has learned that election deniers are in charge of county election offices in key battleground states and are continuing to sow seeds of doubt about the integrity of the system.

CNN's Drew Griffin reports.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In meetings, the chair of the Spalding County, Georgia election board sounds like any other government official.

BEN JOHNSON, CHAIRMAN, SPALDING COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS: We hang our political hats at the door when we come in and do the people's work. There ain't no room for politics in elections.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But county elections chairman Ben Johnson's actions online tell a far different story. Johnson is beyond partisan -- a staunch election denier. On social media, he posted to "fellow insurrectionists" and he posted "Biden is an illegitimate president." PERRY: I think the whole structure in Spalding County is an insider threat.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Last March, Johnson wrote, "Going to do anything about the 2020 election? The flow of data from the counties should not pass through a foreign country."

GRIFFIN (on camera): Which is one of the key fictitious complaints about Dominion Voting. So he believes in this disproven theory.

PERRY: Yet, he is now running the elections of Spalding County, which also affect the entire state. It's a scary situation.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): He has posted about QAnon more than a dozen times, including this supportive tweet. "Hate to say it but a hell of a lot of the information dropped by Q has turned out to be accurate. Red, white and Q," he writes, and other nonsensical codes that are the hallmark of the conspiracy group.

Keep in mind as chair of the election board, Johnson is in charge of the county's certification of election results.

Dexter Wimbish, a Democrat who sits on the Election Board with Johnson, says Johnson always acts professionally but --

DEXTER WIMBISH, SPALDING COUNTY, GEORGIA BOARD OF ELECTIONS: The community has concerns about officials who are in positions where they could potentially impact the outcome of an election.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Now CNN has learned the Fulton County district attorney intends to subpoena Ben Johnson and two other Spalding County elections officials as part of the investigation into efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Georgia's 2020 presidential election.

WIMBISH: There is a concerted effort to suppress the vote of people in this country. There is an effort to make people believe that the government does not believe in democracy, and that's just not -- that's just not true.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Election deniers who are now in charge of elections across the country are a concern to pro-democracy groups nationwide.

In one Nevada county, the new interim clerk in charge of elections was one of six so-called fake electors in Nevada.


In Michigan, according to police, the clerk of Lake Township believes the 2020 election was fraudulent and shared voting machine materials with someone allegedly involved in the breach of those machines.

In Colorado, the sitting clerk of Elbert County spreads debunked conspiracies that voting machines contain hackable wireless devices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How am I supposed to know if anybody has used that wireless device to access our system?

LAWRENCE NORDEN, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: The danger is that these are people who may lie about election results, who are certainly likely to cast doubt about the trustworthiness of elections.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): As for Ben Johnson and what he has to say about all of this, in a word, nothing. He's refused to answer questions and in an email, accused CNN of being on a witch hunt. When we went to his Spalding County offices we were told on the phone that he was in a meeting, but when we tried talking to him --

GRIFFIN (on camera): Hey, is Ben Johnson in?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's not. Can I help you?

GRIFFIN (on camera): Are you sure?

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Spalding County early voting, under the leadership of an election denier, began this week.

GRIFFIN (on camera): And now we're learning the Georgia Secretary of State's office believes someone has already tried to discredit the results of this election and it's happening in Spalding County, Georgia, wherein early voting, a fake ballot was found inside a locked ballot box. An investigation is underway and the Secretary of State's office has put clerks on alert to look out for any possible damage to the integrity of elections.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


ROMANS: All right, Drew. Thank you. We know you'll stay on it.

Ahead, hospitals overwhelmed by an unprecedented rise in respiratory viruses in children. And home sales slumping to levels that haven't been seen in over a decade.



ROMANS: Here's your Romans' Numeral on this Friday -- 10, as in 10 months. That's the average length of a recession since 1950. No one knows for sure if a recession is coming, but those who do say it will -- say it's coming, say it will be shorter and milder than the typical recession.


LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: I certainly don't think it's going to be like the financial crisis, or what Paul Volcker needed to do in 1980, or the terrible things that happened after the pandemic started. But I do think the unemployment rate is likely to rise perhaps towards six percent and that's a -- that's a very real and not an easy thing. But I think what people need to understand is that it is better to do

that sooner rather than to allow inflation to accelerate and allow everybody to expect inflation, at which point you'll have a much greater set of difficulties.


ROMANS: Yes, the tradeoff that the Fed is trying to navigate here.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also said this week they worry that a recession is imminent.

And it is a fear of that -- a recession -- that has gripped the markets as inflation and higher interest rates spread around the world. European shares have opened lower this morning to end the week. Asia closed mixed. And on Wall Street, stock index futures are leaning down a little bit after markets closed lower on Thursday.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield climbed about 4.2 percent -- the first time that's happened since 2008.

Gas prices dropping overnight by more than a penny to $3.82 a gallon.

Those higher interest rates visibly cooling the housing market. U.S. home sales falling for the eighth month in a row in September, the longest slump in 15 years. Sales of existing homes down 23.8 percent in September from a year ago, and down 1 1/2 percent from the prior month.

The main culprit here, mortgage rates. They rose again this week. The 30-year fixed, 6.94 percent for the week ending October 20. One year ago, the 30-year fixed rate was just 3.09 percent.

Off-price stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are taking advantage of inventory overstock at other big stores, which means you can take advantage, too, when shopping for clothes, home goods, and electronics.

I want to bring in CNN business reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn. This is his beat. What are T.J. Maxx and Ross doing here?

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Right. So, some good news for holiday shoppers, Christine. You're going to be able to find some great discounts and a ton of availability at T.J. Maxx, Ross, Burlington, and these other off-price stores.

The designer brands -- they have too much stuff right now. They need to unload it. And that's where T.J. Maxx and Ross come in. They buy that stuff for cheap and then turn it around and sell it to shoppers for steep discounts. This is the perfect -- this is the perfect environment for their business model.

ROMANS: Interesting. And that's also perfect for people who are weary of inflation because you're going to be able to get stuff cheap.

Is it just me or do all these -- all these deals and sales for the holidays seem a little overwhelming? I mean, it's like Black Friday every day.

MEYERSOHN: It's a really confusing environment, Christine. Like, think about it. We had -- the holiday season is earlier than it ever has been. We're not even close to Black Friday. There's going to be pre-Black Friday sales. Then there's Cyber Monday, Cyber Week. And then -- and then there's the week before Christmas.

So when are we supposed to -- when are we supposed to shop? What are the best deals? We spoke with the experts to find out what are the smart holiday shopping tips and how you should buy.

ROMANS: So what should I -- like, if I want to buy electronics, when do I buy that? Clothes? When do I buy that?

MEYERSOHN: All right, so here are -- here are some good tips.

So, electronics, you want to buy around Black Friday --


MEYERSOHN: -- and Cyber Monday. Companies have trained shoppers to buy electronics around that period. They don't want to disappoint so that's when you'll find the best deals on electronics.

Clothing -- you're going to want to wait a little bit to buy clothing. If you're in the market for a new -- a new jacket, wait. Retailers are going to have to mark it down at the end of the season when they want to turn it over.


ROMANS: Yes, so after Christmas there will probably be a lot of markdowns for apparel and stuff. It's like the pandemic and the supply chain stuff -- they just haven't gotten -- kind of gotten it right yet. And that means more stuff that will be on sale for the average consumer.

MEYERSOHN: Right. So, another tip is to check the price history --


MEYERSOHN: -- of a -- of a product. Because just because it's a sale doesn't mean it's a good sale. Companies -- sometimes they'll jack up the price and then mark it down and you're not really getting a great discount. So you want to -- you want to check the original price and the price history. There are some tools online you can use.

And also, after you buy doesn't -- it doesn't mean your shopping journey is over. You can -- companies are doing price match guarantees. So, say you buy a new T.V. at Best Buy and you see that the price goes lower in a couple of weeks by a hundred bucks. They'll match that price for you.

ROMANS: Wow. All right, savvy shopping tips.

Thanks so much. Have a good weekend, Nathaniel Meyersohn. Nice to see you this morning.

All right, British Prime Minister Liz Truss resigning six weeks into her job. How her successor will be chosen in the next seven days. And President Biden hitting the road today to celebrate two big victories in the courts.



ROMANS: The world of chess rocked by a cheating scandal. American grandmaster Niemann filing a $100 million defamation lawsuit over cheating allegations. The suit alleges Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen and others colluding to blacklist Niemann from the game. The power move by the 19-year-old Niemann comes after he defeated Carlsen at a prestigious tournament last month and Carlsen publicly labeled him a cheater.

All right, the Astros taking control of the American League championship series by beating the Yankees again.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. A late night for you, Carolyn.


Yes, the last couple of days have just been wild for this team. I feel like they need to come back and settle down in New York. They've had to stave off elimination twice against Cleveland, which meant a really short turnaround to prepare for Houston. And now, the Bombers have their backs against the wall again. They're in a 2-0 hole against Houston.

Alex Bregman had the Astros taking flight early, launching a 3-run shot to left. It was his 14th postseason jack, the most ever by a third baseman.

The Yankees did cut it to 3-2 in the eighth. Aaron Judge had a chance to tie it but Kyle Tucker making a nice little play here just over the short wall in right. So the Astros hold on.

Game three at Yankee Stadium tomorrow night, so a chance for the Bombers to get back in it.

"THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL" now. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray getting into it with head coach Kliff Kingsbury after being forced to use a timeout near the goal line. That moment right there got a lot of attention. Both sides downplaying it after the game.

But it also came right before the team went off offensively. Keaontay Ingram tying the game on the very next play there with a short touchdown run.

The Cardinals' defense stepping up in this game. Marco Wilson picking off the deflection there and taking it all the way to the house -- 38 yards -- for the score, giving Arizona its first lead. And a minute later, Andy Dalton throwing it right to Isaiah Simmons in the middle of the field. So he would go 56 yards for the score.

The Cardinals win 42-34, snapping an 8-game home winning streak, their longest since the '50s -- 1958.

Some very big news here for football fans. The 49ers making a huge trade last night acquiring star running back Christian McCaffrey from multiple draft picks. The 2019 Pro Bowler has battled injuries the last couple of years but he is healthy now and he is ready to flourish in Kyle Shanahan's offense out west. McCaffrey returning to the Bay Area where he played his college ball at Stanford.

The Panthers thanking McCaffrey on Twitter for this 5-plus years with the team -- a class move there.

In the NBA, the Lakers hosting the Clippers in the battle of L.A., and LeBron trying to keep his team in it. In the third quarter here, a big jam on the break. Twenty points, 10 boards for LeBron.

It was not enough though. Kawhi Leonard, who played in his first game in 16 months, scoring 14 off the bench and putting a nice little clutch jumper over LeBron in the final minute as well.

So the Clippers with their eighth-straight win over their city rivals.

And it was an action-packed night in the NHL, highlighted by the Maple Leafs handing the Stars their first loss on this overtime goal by Nick Robertson. That capping off an incredible night in sports.

So, this is what we refer to, Christine, as a sports equinox. It is only the 27th time in history that all four major pro sports -- NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL -- all playing on the same day. The last called -- last so-called sports equinox was last Halloween. So right around this time of year is when things get really good.

But that's not all. We also have college football. We have the MLS playoffs -- a great ending to the battle of L.A. there. So a lot for sports fans. You didn't -- you didn't need to really go anywhere. You could just sit on your couch and watch it all night long.

And I feel like if we really need a full recap we should talk to your son, the big sports fan who probably --

ROMANS: It's true.

MANNO: -- who probably monitored all of this at the same time somehow.

ROMANS: He did, but I made him do his chemistry homework first. So -- but I knew there was a lot of sports going on last night.

Nice to see you, Carolyn Manno.

All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts right now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There will be a leadership election to be completed within the next week. This will ensure that we remain on a path to deliver our fiscal plans and maintain our country's economic stability and national security. I will remain as prime minister until a successor has been chosen. Thank you.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: A high-stakes political scramble in Britain to find yet another prime minister.

I am Brianna Keilar with John Berman this morning.

Prime Minister Liz Truss stepping down after just 45 days in office. Her tenure the shortest of any prime minister in British history.