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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Former Indian Lawmaker And His Brother Killed Live On TV; Walmart Closes Four Chicago Stores Citing Financial Issues; Congress Reconvenes Monday As Debt Ceiling Crisis Looms. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 17, 2023 - 05:30   ET



CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Has been incredibly outspoken about Putin's regime. He was arrested last April just hours after a CNN interview where he called Putin a regime -- his regime of murderers. He's also likened the Putin regime to Nazism. And in his last statement before the court in this trial he compared his own trial, saying it was worse than the trials in (INAUDIBLE) of Soviet dissidents in the '60s and '70s because of its secrecy, he said, and its contempt for legal norms.

So this sentence, as I said, will be appealed but it is emblematic of what we see in Russia -- this hallmark of the war -- of the crackdown on repression and dissent -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Clare. Thank you so much for that.

A former lawmaker in India was shot dead alongside his brother. The stunning scene caught live on T.V. Police have now arrested three suspects who they say were posing as journalists.

Vedika Sud live in New Delhi for us. Vedika, what -- do we know what the motive is at this point?

VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Not yet. No official word on that yet, Christine. But what we do know is Atiq Ahmed, the former lawmaker and, as well, a gangster -- he was a very famous gangster in Uttar Pradesh and was gunned down by three assailants, along with his brother. And all of this was caught, believe it or not, on live television and people have really reacted sharply to watching that footage which, of course, could be disturbing for many who watched that video in (INAUDIBLE) actually.

So let me just tell you what went down. It all happened within minutes of Atiq Ahmed coming out of the Jeep -- of a police car. And then he was walking with his brother when -- and he was flanked by a lot of police officers when some journalist approached them and asked them a couple of questions on the death and the killing of his son, which happened coincidentally a few days back by the Uttar Pradesh police. Uttar Pradesh is a state in northern India governed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party. Moments after that interaction the first gunshot went off and Atiq Ahmed fell to the ground. Seconds later there were a series of gunshots, Christine, and the brother was killed as well.

What we know from the police is that those three assailants were a part of the T.V. crews that were asking questions to these two men when panic ensued and the gunshots just carried on.

And the opposition leaders in the state are now calling this complete lawlessness and they're worried about the future of Uttar Pradesh given what's happened and been caught on camera, Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Vedika Sud. Just awful there. OK, thank you so much for that.

Quick hits around the globe right now.

An Iranian court has convicted 10 military personnel for shooting down a Ukrainian passenger plane in 2020 that killed 176 people. The victims' families say the real perpetrators are still free.

Seven people dead, including a child, after suspects opened fire at a public swimming pool in Mexico. No arrests so far as people investigate.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the Chinese defense minister in Moscow on Sunday. The two hailed their country's close military cooperation and pledged to deepen military mutual trust. This follows a visit from Chinese leader Xi Jinping last month.

All right, just ahead, French President Emmanuel Macron stepping up the mic after signing a highly controversial pension law. And the Lakers taking a big run at the Grizzlies in the series opener.



ROMANS: Here is today's fast-forward lookahead.

In just a few hours, SpaceX will try to launch its huge Starship rocket into space. It packs nearly twice the power of any rocket ever flown.

The judge in Dominion Voting Systems' defamation case against Fox will formally announce a one-day delay to the trial this morning. The cause of the delay is unclear but it could be a sign that a settlement is in the works.

Today, French President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation for the first time since signing his pension reform into law after three months of protests against it. Another protest is planned for May first.

All right, Walmart has closed four out of its eight stores in Chicago, giving less than a week's notice. Now residents in the communities affected will have to travel farther for pharmacies and for groceries.

I want to bring in CNN Business reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn. Nathaniel, why is Walmart closing these stores, and what's the reaction in Chicago?

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: So, three of these four stores closing are neighborhood market stores, which are smaller than the traditional big-box Walmart stores. And Walmart's really struggled with this format and so it's closing four of eight stores.

The community is very frustrated by this. They're going to have to travel farther to buy fresh groceries, pharmacy services, retail services. And it's a particular burden on elderly citizens and people without cars and reliable public transportation.

ROMANS: Sure, of course.

Now, the move is a reversal of Walmart's previous commitment to expand in Chicago. Tell us more about Walmart's history in the Windy City.

MEYERSOHN: So a really complicated history for Walmart in Chicago. It opened its first store in 2006. It was pushing deeper into cities trying to crack cities after expanding in rural areas and the suburbs. It opened its first store in Chicago in 2006. A line of mayors -- Richard Daley, Rahm Emanuel, Lori Lightfoot -- they saw Walmart as a way to expand access and solve some of these problems with food deserts.

And in 2020, Walmart temporarily closed its stores in Chicago after the protests over George --


MEYERSOHN: -- Floyd's murder. And they pledged to expand in Chicago, to invest in it. They said we believe in Chicago. And then, just three years later, it's pulling out.

ROMANS: I mean, there had been some debate about whether they push out mom-and-pop retailers. Over time you have fewer jobs in the areas. But it seems like Chicago went all in with Walmart.

So what do the closures in Chicago, I guess, tell us about the limits of companies solving bigger social problems.

MEYERSOHN: Right. There was a lot of opposition in Chicago to these stores, particularly with unions, small businesses. And I think it shows the limits of relying on private companies to solve some of these deeply complicated problems with access.


And so, yes, so Chicago mayors -- they saw Walmart as a solution to this and now Walmart is pulling out and it leaves an enormous void in the community.

We've asked government to -- we've asked private companies to solve problems. We don't want government to anymore. And then we're surprised when they act --

ROMANS: Right.

MEYERSOHN: -- like businesses again.

ROMANS: Where they have to make money because they've been losing money in Chicago for years now?

MEYERSOHN: Yes. Their annual losses doubled over the past five years. They just have not been able to make it work in Chicago.

ROMANS: And they don't respond to voters; they respond to shareholders.

MEYERSOHN: That's exactly right.

ROMANS: All right, Nathaniel Meyersohn, great piece. Thank you so much for bringing that to us.

All right, LeBron James and the Lakers started the playoffs with a big win against the Grizzlies, but Memphis potentially dealing with an even bigger loss in game one.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is rough, Christine. The Lakers, though -- a total team effort. Seven-seeded Lakers showing incredible team chemistry, looking scary good on the road against the two-seed Grizzlies.

LeBron James still has it -- 38 years old, 20th season. And look at the hustle, Christine, coming up with the monster block from behind. He finished with 21 points on the night.

But that huge blow that you were talking about -- in the fourth from Memphis. Ja Morant, their star, crashing to the floor hard. X-rays to his right hand were negative but he said afterwards he doesn't know if he's going to be able to play in game two.

Now, the L.A.'s role players -- they took center stage. Rui Hachimura dropping 29 points, the first Laker with 25-plus off the bench in a playoff game since Magic Johnson in '96. And Austin Reaves, undrafted out of college in 2021, making his playoff debut about 90 minutes from his home in Arkansas.




WIRE: He is him, Christine. He scored 10 straight down the stretch for L.A., finishing with 23 points.

The Lakers ended the game on a 15-0 run winning 128-112. For the first time since 1988, the Lakers had four players with 20-plus points in a playoff game.

Here is Reaves.


REAVES: I probably know over 100 people here so this is what you play basketball for. This is -- you know, you're in your backyard when seven, eight, nine -- you know, countdown in the NBA Finals -- this first round. But like, this is what you play for so it's a great team.


WIRE: The Heat and Bucks in Milwaukee now. Both of these teams suffering huge injuries. Giannis Antetokounmpo crashing to the floor in the first. Milwaukee's two-time MVP tried to keep playing but left the game for good in the second with what the team calls a lower back contusion.

Now, just before halftime, Miami's Tyler Herro diving for a loose ball and comes favoring his right arm. It looks like Miami's best shooter -- he leaves with a broken hand and he could reportedly miss four to six weeks with that one. So both teams missing huge pieces.

But somebody steps up for Miami. It's Jimmy Butler, of course. Thirty- five points and 11 assists. The Heat go on to put up a franchise playoff record 130 points beating the top seed in the east.

The Clippers and Suns chock full of stars on both sides. Four-time scoring champ Kevin Durant was like an Icy Hot pack. He finished with 27 points despite putting up goose eggs in the first and third quarters.

Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard was lights out all night, scoring a game-high 38 points, including back-to-back threes late in the fourth.

Russell Westbrook, though -- he scored just nine points for L.A. He makes the play of the game. Up three in the final seconds, Russ blocks Devin Booker's shot and has the incredible wherewithal, Christine, to grab the ball and throw it off Booker's legs out of bounce.

The Clippers hold on to win by five.

After being traded away by the Lakers the moved upon by the Jazz, the 34-year-old former MVP just glad to be playing meaningful basketball right now.


RUSSELL WESTBROOK, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS GUARD: Whatever is needed of me to win the game I'll do it. I'm just grateful that T. Lue and the staff believe in me regardless of my shots not falling and allowing me to make an impact on the team and win it.


WIRE: I almost wore that same outfit this morning, Christine. Two more games today on TNT. The 76ers and Kings looking to take a 2-0 series lead while the Nets and defending champion Warriors look to bounce back and tie things up.

The Playoffs are here, Christine. And yes, what do you think? Would that yellow and necklace --

ROMANS: It would look great on you. It would look great on you.

WIRE: Maybe tomorrow. I'll do it tomorrow, maybe.

ROMANS: All right.

Nice to see you, Coy.

WIRE: You, too.

ROMANS: Happy Monday.

All right. Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" the latest on the shooting at a Sweet 16 party that left four people dead. And next right here, the House speaker staking out his position in the debt limit showdown just hours from now.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this morning is 1.1 trillion, as in $1.1 trillion. The federal budget deficit reached that mark in the first six months of fiscal 2023. The Congressional Budget Office says that's $430 billion more than the same period last year. Simple math -- spending is 13 percent higher and revenues down three percent.

It's that imbalance -- spending more than the government takes in -- that drives the record pile of national debt. More on what Congress will or won't do about it in a moment.

But looking at markets around the world right now, European markets are higher. It actually looks like they're mixed right now. Asian markets finished up. The Hang Seng up nearly two percent on evidence of China's recovery strength in the last quarter.

On Wall Street, stock index futures barely moving here. I'd call that treading water after a fourth up week for the Dow last week. The S&P and the Nasdaq also higher on the week.

On inflation watch, gas prices held steady at $3.67 a gallon.


The main event this week more earnings for a lot of big companies, including Netflix, Tesla, American Express. Regional banks like Zions Bancorp and Western Alliance Bancorp will also report earnings.

All right. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy heading to the New York Stock Exchange today to talk about the debt limit there at the cradle of American capitalism. He's in a standoff with the White House trying to negotiate the limit.

Let's bring in chief U.S. strategist at the AGF Investments, Greg Valliere. Greg, so nice to see you this morning.

There hasn't been any visible movement on the debt ceiling for months here. McCarthy will now preview his debt proposal today -- a plan to return spending to 2022 levels, we're told, claw back some unused COVID funds. One source telling CNN the goal here, Greg, is $3 trillion to $4 trillion worth of budget savings over 10 years.

What are you hearing?

GREG VALLIERE, CHIEF U.S. STRATEGIST, AGF INVESTMENTS, INC. (via Skype): Yes, it's going to be huge but there's not going to be a lot on agreement, Christine. I think that they'll talk about a wide range of options but there's very little political agreement. This fight is going to go well into the summer -- probably until the end of July- early August. And as of now, they are nowhere close to a deal despite the speech this morning by McCarthy.

ROMANS: Yes. It's so frustrating because the deadline has passed. I mean, we should be clear here. This isn't the eleventh hour. Now we're on into overtime here.

Is McCarthy, do you think, going to keep pushing for spending cuts, and what would they look like?

VALLIERE: Well, he's going to have to do something aggressive because his own troops in the House -- as we recall the promises he made to them when they elected him House Speaker -- they want action and they want a lot done. The problem is I don't see the White House doing anything in terms of cutting food stamps. That's on the McCarthy list. Cutting spending by one-two percent. There are a lot of very aggressive spending cuts but I don't see Joe Biden going along with them.

ROMANS: Yes. The Democrats have said let's just raise -- a clean debt ceiling raise here. This is paying for what we've already --


ROMANS: -- spent.

President Biden, though, said he will talk to McCarthy -- listen.


REPORTER: Any update on the debt ceiling? Will you speak with Speaker McCarthy in the coming weeks on that?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course, I'll speak to him. Show me his budget. That old expression, show me your budget. You know, he -- we agreed early on I'd lay down a budget, which I did on March 9, and he'd lay down a budget. I don't know what we're going to negotiate if I don't know what they want and what they're going to do.


ROMANS: There's still a lot to be worked out and a lot of unknowns here.

What does progress look like, Greg?

VALLIERE: Even getting them all in the same room. But this is Washington, Christine, and our favorite game is kick the can down the road. And McCarthy is now talking about going until next March to get a deal. I think that's a non-starter. And there's even talk that they might have a special bipartisan commission on Social Security and Medicare. That's a classic let's kick the can down the road. Let's have a commission.

ROMANS: Yes. I think there are three choices here. You either raise the debt ceiling cleaning, you either tie spending cuts to it, or you get rid of the damn thing altogether, which a lot of people think would be the better choice. And you do spending cuts and you do budget priorities in the budget process.


ROMANS: Greg Valliere of AGF Investments --

VALLIERE: Absolutely.

ROMANS: -- thank you so much. Really nice to see you this Monday morning, Greg -- thanks.

VALLIERE: You bet.

ROMANS: All right, Dominion Voting Systems' high-stakes defamation trial against Fox delayed at the eleventh hour. Will the two sides now settle?

And 10 years since the Boston Marathon bombing. We're live as the city remembers the victims on "CNN THIS MORNING."



ROMANS: South Florida bracing for severe weather. The storms are likely to produce heavy downpours, flooding, damaging winds, and hail, including areas that are still reeling from last week's storms.

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam has the forecast for us this Monday morning. Derek, what should people in South Florida expect?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Look, we had a line of thunderstorms move in overnight across Miami-Dade, Broward, as well as the Palm Beach County region, but you can see that's now exiting rather quickly. The heaviest rain actually occurred near West Palm Beach where they received nearly five inches of rain. The heaviest precipitation in Broward County was actually west of downtown Fort Lauderdale. Good news considering what happened there last week with the flooding.

A few pop-up showers and thunderstorms later today. If that happens to take place over Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach we could see some localized ponding on the roadways. Look out for some minor street flooding and urban flooding across Broward and into northern Miami- Dade County.

This is all thanks to a cold front you can see extending from Florida all the way into the upper Midwest. And believe it or not, that is a blizzard warning across northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and into Minnesota. And look, my family is from the Midwest. This is the last thing you want to see and wake up to on, what is it, April 17, having to get outdoors and plow snowfall. That is just a heart-wrenching type of situation --

ROMANS: I know.

VAN DAM: -- for the Midwest.

ROMANS: Look, I talked to my parents last night and my dad's like it's snowing. I'm like of course it is.

VAN DAM: What a -- it was 85 yesterday, so what is this?

ROMANS: It's almost tax time. It snows right before tax time, right? That's what the Midwest is like. All right, tough people.

VAN DAM: Hard hit.

ROMANS: That's why.

Thanks. Nice to see you, Derek.

Our top of the morning, the top movies at the box office.


Clip from Illumination's "The Super Mario Brothers."


ROMANS: "The Super Mario Brothers" movie is number one.

There is number two.


Clip from Sony Pictures Entertainment "The Pope's Exorcist."


ROMANS: "The Pope's Exorcist" starring Russell Crowe.

And number three. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Clip from Lionsgate Movie's "John Wick: Chapter 4."


ROMANS: That's the action sequel "John Wick: Chapter 4" with Keanu Reeves.

All right, thanks for joining me this Monday morning. I'm Christine Romans. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.