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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Suspect Arrested in Serbia's Second Mass Shooting in 2 Days; Russian Mercenary Chief: We're Pulling Out over Lack of Ammo; Budget Chief: White House Open to a Short Term Debt Limit Fix; Trump & E. Jean Carroll Both Rest Cases in Civil Rape Case. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired May 05, 2023 - 05:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now on EARLY START, the manhunt for a mass shooter now over. What police just found in the suspect's home.

Plus, the man in charge of Russian mercenary troops in Bakhmut now says he is pulling his forces out.

And, just days before Title 42 rules out of the southern border, Republicans and Democrats are now finally working together on a fix for immigration.


Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Happy Friday, everybody. I'm Christine Romans.

We start with the Special Forces' manhunt for a killer in a country that is not used to seeing mass murders. That manhunt is now over with the arrest of a man who suspected of killing at least eight people and wounding 13 others, just south of Serbia's capital. This is Serbia's second mass shooting in as many days.

Scott McLean live right near one of the sites of the attack.

And, Scott, in the United States, unfortunately, we are numb to this kind of thing here. But this is really unusual for Serbia, and two attacks in two days. What you can tell us?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, people were shocked when we are asking for directions of this morning, Christine. One person pointed us back to Belgrade, assuming that the shooting we are asking about was back there, because it is difficult to imagine this kind of mass shooting happening twice in two days.

But, the manhunt which involved some 600 heavily armed police officers is now over. It took place over a wide swath of rural Serbia, and the interior ministry released a photo of the 21-year-old suspect accused of carrying this out. They also said that they found a four hand grenades inside of his home in Kragujevac, which is a city about an hour south of here. There was plenty of suspicion during the manhunt, plenty of checkpoints. We went through one, our car was searched before we are allowed into one of the towns were shot or fired.

We actually met a man there who is mistaken for the shooter and arrested and held for about an hour to have last night. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm feeling okay, because it is over. So we are on the one hand, I'm happy because it is over. On the other hand, I'm scared about the whole situation.


MCLEAN: Now, I actually met that man because he flagged me down to ask me if it was safe to come out of his house after we had learned that police had in fact made an arrest. Now, what is especially concerning for a lot of people is that the gun, allegedly used in this crime, was a fully automatic weapon, something that's banned in this country. There was also gun control in Serbia and yet politicians are already trying to tighten those gun laws to make it harder to get a gun license, proposing legislation that would put a two-year moratorium on it.

President Vucic is actually speaking to the country right now, he said great nations managed to find solutions after tragedies. One of the solutions he is also proposing is putting a police officer in every single school -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Scott McLean, thank you so much for that.

All right. Now to what could be a big development in Russia's war in Ukraine. The head of Russians Wagner military mercenary group announcing moments ago that he will pull his forces out of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut next Wednesday. The reason? Not enough ammunition.

CNN's Nada Bashir is following the story from London.

The question is, is he serious, is he bluffing, he seems like he is frustrated and angry in this Telegram posting.

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Absolutely, Christine, and we have heard that frustration before. Just last weekend, in fact, he issued a warning saying that the Wagner troops would pull out of the embattled city if Moscow failed to provide them with a further support and crucially for their ammunition.

Now it appears as though that warning is being auctioned with plans to withdraw next Wednesday. Of course, we heard from Prigozhin in the past put forth similar warnings.

In fact, this comes after the release of the video on Telegram, a graphic video in which Prigozhin essentially displayed the bodies of what he claims to be Wagner soldiers killed in the field, slamming Russia's chief of staff for failing to provide the necessary support of those fighters on the front line, and also accusing them of sitting in luxury clubs and offices while Russian men die on the front lines. Take a listen.



YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, FOUNDER OF WAGNER MILITARY GROUP (through translator): You think you are the masters of this life? You think you can dispose of their lives? You think because you have warehouses full of ammunition that you have that right?


BASHIR: Now, Kremlin spokesperson Dmytro Peskov was pressed on this announcement earlier today. He has so far declined to comment on the announcement. This isn't the first time that Prigozhin has issued such a warning. In fact, back in February, he released a similar video calling for further support from Moscow, calling for further ammunition, and then later took to Telegram to claim that further shipments from Moscow were coming into the front lines of ammunition heading towards those Wagner fighters.

But, of course, this really does paint a picture of the situation on the ground and the challenges that the Russian fighters and armed forces are facing. We've already heard from U.S. intelligence officials are saying that it would likely be difficult for the Russian armed forces to launch a significant offensive in the next era, given the significant shortages they are facing in both manpower and ammunition -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Nada Bashir, thank you so much for that.

To Washington now, the White House now signaling that it is open to a short term fix for the debt ceiling problem if it staves off a government default expected as early as June. White House Budget Director Shalanda Young saying that it would be a positive sign if negotiations were focused on how much to raise the debt limit by, because at least that would mean the government could keep paying its bills.


SHALANDA YOUNG, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: We need to keep reminding ourselves, this is made up drama and we believe that, just as they did for the last president, hundreds of times and the history of this country, that it is Congress's duty to ensure that we don't default.


ROMANS: Let's bring in CNN's Jasmine Wright in Washington.

Yeah, this debt ceiling has been raised 78 times since 1960, 40 plus times under Republicans, 29 times under Democrats. Here we are with this drama here.

Congressional leaders are due to meet with the president Tuesday. Any sign Republicans are interested in a short term fix?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Christine, I think privately many lawmakers are looking for ways to avoid catastrophe. That's why we are starting to see these sort of potential off ramp options, start to leak out as they barreled towards that June 1st deadline when the Treasury Department has warned that the U.S. could be unable to pay its bills.

So, now we hear from the White House that, in terms of time and length, that nothing is off the table. Take a listen.


YOUNG: At least that part of the conversation about length, I would love to be in that part of the conversation because we are at least in the positive default is off the table. So, I'm happy when we get to that part of the conversation. We are not there yet, and the idea is that to put brinkmanship to bed and to get to talking on making sure that we avoid default.

And once we are in that timeframe, that means that we are least on the right side of this debate.


WRIGHT: So, you're right, Christine. Young's comments come ahead of that high stakes Tuesday meeting with a top four congressional leaders and President Biden at the White House, where the White House is looking to reset talks on raising the debt ceiling.

But, of course, as Shalanda just said, getting time is a big deal. For the simple fact that Republicans right now are still adamant that to raise the debt ceiling, that they want to spending cuts attached to it. Of course, the White House says that that is not negotiable. They do not want spending cuts attached to it, they want to clean debt ceiling bill.

Now, at the White House, they have discussed moving forward with actions without Congress to try to pay its bill, but ultimately, they view that as nonviable options that really do not work. So, of course, Congress is their best case.

So, now, we hear the White House really continuing to message that catastrophe could happen if this debt ceiling is not raised, including barreling right into a recession, losing 8 million jobs, and other really dangerous things for this country.

But, of course, time is ticking here. It is not on the White House or Republican side -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yeah, absolutely, there are only a dozen days in session between now and that June 1st deadline.

All right. Jasmine, thank you so much.

Lawyers for Donald Trump and E. Jean Carroll are set to give closing arguments on Sunday in Carroll's battery and defamation lawsuit against the former president. Unless, that is, the former president take the judge up on his offer, and offer to let Trump change his mind and asked to testify before the case goes to the jury.

More now from CNN's Kara Scannell in New York.


KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After calling 11 witnesses, E. Jean Carroll rested her battery and defamation case against former President Donald Trump. Now, Trump's attorneys also rested their case outside the presence of the journey, but in an unexpected twist, the judge said he will give Trump until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday to change his mind about testifying. The judge cautioned that he might not allow, it but he was providing the window for Trump to possibly reopen his case so Trump publicly stated while on a trip to Ireland that he was returning to the U.S. over a false accusation.


The judge said he has a right to testify, which has been waived. But if he has second thoughts, I will least consider it.

Trump attorney Joe Tacopina said he spoke with Trump Thursday morning and he had no intention of testifying. He indicated a change in strategy was unlikely.

Trump's lawyers did not call any witnesses in his defense, choosing to try to make their case through cross-examination of Carroll's witnesses. Earlier Thursday, the jury watched the video deposition Trump gave in October. During the 30 minutes of testimony, Trump agreed that he made the allegedly defamatory statements that he did not know Carroll, that she wasn't his type, and that she made up the story. He said he stood by the comments.

The jury also heard from another friend of Carroll, who said Carroll told her about the alleged rape at the time. On cross examination, Trump's attorneys presented the friends text messages and emails she sent speaking negatively of Trump, in an effort to suggest that her testimony was politically motivated.

Carroll's lawyers also called a marketing professor who testified that it would cost as much as $2.7 million to repair Carroll's reputation from alleged damage caused by Trump's statements. Barring any last minute changes, closing arguments will take on Monday, the jury could get the case as soon as Tuesday.

Kara Scannell, CNN, New York.


ROMANS: All right. A Washington, D.C. jury has found four members of the far-right Proud Boys guilty of seditious conspiracy. Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and three others were also found guilty of other charges including obstructing the Electoral College and tampering with evidence. A fifth defendant, Dominic Pezzola was acquitted after the seditious conspiracy charge, but convicted on a range of other charges.

All right. A New York jury clearing the singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran of copyright infringement, determining he did not deliberately steal parts of Marvin Gaye's classic song, "Let's Get It On".

CNN's Chloe Melas has the story.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPOTER: It was good news for Ed Sheeran at the courthouse behind me on Thursday when a jury found that Ed Sheeran did not infringe on Marvin Gaye's 1973 hit, let's get it on when he wrote his hit, "Thinking Out Loud".

Now, Ed Sheeran, he actually came out of the courthouse with his legal team. He had addressed reporters, fans, who all had their phones out and we're waiting to hear from him in his own words. Here's a little bit of what Ed Sheeran had to say.

ED SHEERAN, RECORDING ARTIST: I'm obviously very happy with the outcome of the case and I am not going to have to retire from day job after all. At the same time, I'm unbelievably frustrated at the claim like this can go to court. We spent the last eight years talking about two songs with dramatically different lyrics, melodies, and chords which are also different and used by songwriters every day all over the world.

MELAS: Ed Sheeran also has more good news. He is going to be dropping an album on Friday, that he is hitting the road this weekend for his U.S. tour.

Now, Ed maintained in his testimony that this is a common forecourt progression that was used in "Thinking Out Loud" and had the Townsend family at -- one, that Townsend had co-wrote "Let's Get It On" with Marvin Gaye, that this would mean that future artists would have to stifle their creativity. They would actually have to go to the Townsend family for permission to use that common forecourt progression that is found in countless songs.

So, it sounds like this is a very big moment for that music industry, especially for Ed Sheeran who looks to be quite thrilled.

Back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Chloe Melas, thank you.

Just ahead, three words you thought we would never hear, bipartisan immigration bill, for real.

Plus, Drew Barrymore leaves MTV hanging just days before a big live show.

And talk about a creepy vacation spot. New plans for Jeffrey Epstein's private islands. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


ROMANS: With Title 42 border rule set to expire just six days from now, there is a new bipartisan effort in Congress to counter the expected surge of migrants at the southern border. More on that in a moment, but first, CNN's Rosa Flores with a firsthand look at the growing desperation right now in El Paso, Texas.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The streets around this El Paso church have turned into a migrant camp, where desperation looms among thousands who are hungry and broke.

Have you ever seen anything like this?


FLORES: Father Rafael Garcia runs the shelter here and says that the surge started about two weeks go ahead of the lifting of Title 42, the rule that allows immigration agents to return some migrants quickly to Mexico.

GARCIA: This is an international issue and we are just like the neck of a bottle.

FLORES: With Border Patrol roaming the area, migrants like Daniel Gomez say they feel trapped.

Can you work?

Because they have no money to continue on their journey.

The fear is that immigration can pick you up when you leave. He says they have no other options, but to loiter and pray.

That kind of residence, like this woman who distributed 19 burritos in minutes will help them meet basic needs.

Others like John Alvarez from Venezuela are the life of one encampment where he set up a barbershop.

And even at a few bucks bucket, he has earned more in El Paso in the last 12 days than in one month in Venezuela.

Across the street from the church --

How long have you lived here?

So, for about 12 years.

Marina Carillo has been nervously watching the growing number of migrants who are now her new neighbors.

What are you worried about?

She says she is worried about security and also about potential diseases.

She says her heart breaks for them, that she is help to some of them with food and water, but that she too lives paycheck to paycheck.

Javier Garcia, the manager at a nearby hardware store.

Do they ask you for jobs?


FLORES: -- says he has no complaints about the migrants.


Has it impacted your business at all?


FLORES: His frustration is with Texas Governor Greg Abbott and President Joe Biden.

GARCIA: Not even Abbott, not the federal government (INAUDIBLE).

FLORES: Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso, Texas.


ROMANS: All right. Now to the bipartisan bill in the works to fill the gap when these COVID era rules expire next week. Republican Senator Thom Tillis and independent Senator Sinema are leading the way.


SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (I-AZ): Obviously, the border is not secure. Anyone with eyes can see that. It would be helpful if the administration would start by actually enforcing the laws that are on the books.


ROMANS: Senator Sinema saying the bill will give the Biden administration a two-year expulsion authority for migrants who are trying to come to the U.S. illegally with proper documents -- without proper documents.

Let's bring in immigration reporter at "CQ Roll Call", Suzanne Monyak.

You know, we heard in that piece, in that excellent piece from Rosa Flores that man's frustration with Governor Abbott, with President Biden, but it's a reminder that immigration is the purview of Congress, right? Congress is the one that has got to write these laws. Obviously, the White House as to enforce them, but this bill on the

books here is not necessarily an extension of Title 42. What are they trying to do here with his purpose and function?

SUZANNE MONYAK, IMMIGRATION REPORTER, CQ ROLL CALL: Specifically, what this bill proposed by Senator Sinema and Tillis, they are looking to extend the authority of border agents to expel migrants who crossed the border without considering their asylum claims. But, critically, they wouldn't be doing so under Title 42, which is a public health law aimed at curbing the introduction of communicable disease.

The Title 42 policy was put place in March of 2020 as a COVID measure. Now that these measures are ending and as Title 42 is with it, these senators would like to see a new law that essentially permits this expulsion authority under the federal immigration laws.

ROMANS: What are the chances this bill could pass?

MONYAK: You know, it is an immigration bill in Congress so an important caveat than I think success is always pretty slim. It's significant to see a bipartisan effort in the space. There isn't a lot of that in immigration on the Hill. However, you know, bills in the Senate needs 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and to advance, and it is unclear whether this bill even has support of Democratic leadership.

The members on board are Kyrsten Sinema, former Democrat and independent, and as well as Joe Manchin, also a Democrat, but one known with breaking for his party.

So I don't know that we necessarily know that we have the support of Democratic leadership, which is needed for any bill to get a vote on the floor.

ROMANS: Of course, of course. In the meantime, the administration is sending 1,500 troops to the border in a support role disappoint customs and border protection. What is that going to look like, and I wonder if that's enough? I mean, our reporting is that there is some 40,000 people just waiting at the border for Title 42 to expire.

MONYAK: I think that is just one of a lot of unknowns here and I think that is part of why we are seeing deals like this proposed in Congress because there's just a lot of anxiety about what is going to happen when this Title 42 policy lifts on Thursday.

I think that their -- you know, the Department of Homeland Security has projected that we could see more than 10,000 migrants trying to cross a day after this policy lifts because it's been in place for so long, we've had limited asylum access at the border for more than three years and there's a lot of pent-up demand.

So, we are seeing the Biden administration try to build up other migration initiatives, but people on the ground are telling you that they really do not know what to expect.

ROMANS: I know. All right. Suzanne Monyak of "CQ Roll Call", thank you so much. Have a

nice weekend.

MONYAK: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

ROMANS: Quick hits across the American now.

Twenty-one-year-old Carlos Dominguez, a former student at the University of California of Davis has been arrested in connection with three stabbing attacks near the campus. The stabbings are all within the span of five days, left two people dead.

North Carolina's Republican controlled state senate passed legislation on Thursday that would ban most abortions after 12 weeks. Governor Roy Cooper who is a Democrat vowed to veto the bill but Republicans super majority in the state legislature can override him.

Drew Barrymore is stepping down as the host of the MTV Movie and TV Awards this Sunday. Barrymore said in a statement that she is withdrawing in solidarity with the striking writers of the WGA.

All right, just ahead, what Joe Biden just told some of the biggest bosses in tech about artificial intelligence?

And the final countdown to coronation ceremonies for King Charles.



ROMANS: All right. Happening now, preparations underway on the eve of King Charles III's coronation. In a little less than 24 hours from now, a procession begins with King Charles and Queen Camilla traveling by gilded horse drawn carriage from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey.

CNN's Anna Stewart live at Westminster Abbey with more.

What events take place the day before the coronation?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, we've had a very busy last few days of rehearsals. As you said, King Charles and Queen Camilla were in a rehearsal here at Westminster Abbey, and in the dead of night, we've actually thousands of soldiers arriving into London on trains, and doing the procession in the middle of the night, just making sure that they've got that down.

Now, it is all going to be quiet. Few people are already gathering here at Westminster Abbey getting a little peek of where the ceremony will take place tomorrow. Also, quite a few royal fans lining the mall, some were actually already camping to ensure they have a good spot.

But today, really, it feels like a quiet before the storm. I think the rehearsals are done, it may well be stormy this weekend, Christine. I think rain, in true British weather style, has been scheduled on and off throughout the whole weekend.

Today, the king and queen will be hosting heads of state and other dignitaries who have traveled the U.K. for tomorrow. So that will happen at Buckingham Palace.

I don't expect we'll see them tomorrow morning before everything kicks off in terms of the procession --