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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

New Search For Madeleine McCann After Police Receive Tip; TikTok Sues Montana Over New Law Banning The App; Economists Fear Repercussions Of U.S. Defaulting On Its Debt. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired May 23, 2023 - 05:30   ET





NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): "You can only experience it. No words can express it. They shell a lot."

As we talk it is clear this war is taking its toll.

ROBERTSON (on camera): You only have to look at the soldiers' faces here to know how tough this battle is. They all look worn. They say morale is high but their faces are telling a different story.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): We move on towards other positions and stop as the shelling increases.

ROBERTSON (on camera): We've just been told the place that we were going to is under heavy shelling, so we're going to pull back from here and go somewhere else.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In the battalion bunker the commander tells us the Russians have ramped up their shelling on his troops since they advanced.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): "Tons of ammo, shrapnel, tanks firing -- everything."

His units' drones recorded their recent successes but now the Russians have regrouped -- and in a moment of candor following losses the previous night, admits morale is flagging.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): "Let's be honest," he says. "We are fighting heavily for more than a year. My soldiers went through many battles and two rotations near Bakhmut. Troops are exhausted but we endure."

ROBERTSON (on camera): Bakhmut, which is just over the hill in that direction, has become an object lesson in how Russia's wealth and men, and ammunition can prevail, and that unless Ukraine gets the modern weaponry support from its allies it's going to struggle to tip the balance.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Call sign "Fox" and his unit load up for their hard miles at the front and end a war getting back to their families -- what drives them into the shelling.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Eastern Ukraine.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN EARLY START HOST: Fantastic reporting. Thanks, Nic.

All right, police in Portugal beginning a new search for British toddler Madeleine McCann. She was just three years old when she vanished from her bedroom while on a vacation with her family in May 2007. Now a recent tip is prompting this new investigation, which is expected to take place at a reservoir for up to two days.

CNN's Scott McLean has more. Oh, this story, Scott, and that picture of that beautiful little girl. What new information do investigators have in this case?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So the reason that they're going back to this area is based on a tip from German prosecutors who are investigating a suspect named Christian Bruckner. He is a known pedophile and a convicted rapist.

Why they're going back to this area in particular though is unclear. This is a mountainous, sort of bushy scrubland area about 35 miles or so from Praia da Luz, the resort town where Madeleine McCann went missing from. It is also an area that police had actually searched back in 2008 in the reservoir there itself. In that case, they found animal bones but nothing else. We understand from our colleagues in Portugal that this time around this two-day search will be focusing on the land area.

Now, Christine, this case from the get-go, back in 2007, has been filled with twists and turns. The McCanns, themselves -- the parents -- were initially viewed as suspects. There was a lot of criticism about the initial police response to this as well.

And it wasn't until 2020 that German prosecutors announced that they had a suspect named Christian Bruckner, as I said. And it seems like they have a lot of circumstantial evidence against him. His cell phone was in the area at the time. He tried to re-register one of his vehicles a day later.

His story has also changed. Initially, when he was interviewed as a witness in 2013, he said he was out of the country and then later, he said that he was with his girlfriend that night but prosecutors haven't found any girlfriend to support that at the time.

The prosecutor in this case has also refused to deny the suggestion that they found something belonging to Madeleine McCann inside Bruckner's trailer where he was living. Under German law, though, prosecutors have to prove to a judge that they actually have enough evidence to secure a conviction; otherwise, they can't lay charges.

And the clock is ticking. Bruckner is jailed right now for seven years for the rape of an American woman in Portugal but he is more than halfway through that prison term -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Scott McLean for that.

All right, quick hits around the globe right now.

At least 19 children died in a school dormitory fire in Guyana. Local officials say the fire was maliciously set. The president has declared three days of national mourning.

A coalition of Bulgarian political parties agreed to form a government led by two rotating prime ministers. The goal, to fight government corruption.

Millions of people in Mexico are being warned get ready to evacuate. That's for around three million people who live in towns and villages next to the country's most active volcano.


Next, TikTok strikes back. New legal action over that ban in Montana. And did we just see LeBron on the court for the last time?


ROMANS: Here is today's fast-forward look ahead.

Former President Trump will appear by video in Manhattan criminal court today where he is charged with falsifying business records. The judge will instruct him on a protective order restricting his social media posts.

Wrongfully detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich will appear in a Moscow court today. The hearing is about extending his pretrial detention beyond May 29.

A doctor who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old will appear before Indiana's medical licensing board today. She is accused of violating privacy laws by talking about that case to a paper.

All right, TikTok filing a lawsuit against the state of Montana in response to a bill that banned the shortform video app in the -- in the state that was just signed last week.

Let's bring in Clare Duffy, CNN Business writer. Why is -- what is TikTok arguing in this lawsuit, Clare?


CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: So TikTok is arguing that this ban is unconstitutional. That it violates the First Amendment rights of its hundreds of thousands of users in the state. And it's really sort of leaning into the fact that it has got hundreds of thousands of users in the state who use it to run their small businesses, who use it to communicate. Who use it to learn about the outside world.

And so, TikTok is saying not only does it violate their First Amendment rights but it violates a number of other federal laws that sort of single -- sort of singling out TikTok here.

ROMANS: Yes. What is the Montana attorney general saying?

DUFFY: So the Montana attorney general is saying that this law is really necessary to protect the privacy of Montana citizens.

This comes as a number of lawmakers and regulators are sort of concerned about TikTok's connection to China -- the possibility that the Chinese government could access U.S. user data through TikTok's parent company ByteDance, although there's no evidence of that.

A spokesperson for the Montana attorney general said that they expected legal challenges and will fight this.

ROMANS: This is the second -- I think the second lawsuit opposing the bill in less than a week. What does this say about the challenge, I guess, in implementing restrictions against TikTok?

DUFFY: I think it really does represent how difficult this is going to be. I mean, this is the same sort of legal challenge that former President Donald Trump ran into when he tried to ban TikTok a number of years ago.

And privacy experts say that even if this prevails in court that practically trying to enforce this ban is going to be really difficult -- I mean, for a number of reasons. But, for example, teenagers could download a VPN to encrypt their internet traffic and it would make it really hard to tell whether the people that are using TikTok are inside of the state or not.

ROMANS: I mean, the outright ban is the most extreme. But you've also heard -- you know, tech industry gurus have been saying there should be age limits. There should be -- this kind -- I mean, this is a big discussion that's happening -- but actually, outright banning -- interesting.

DUFFY: It's the most extreme bill that we've seen --

ROMANS: It is.

DUFFY: -- so far.

ROMANS: It is.

All right, Clare Duffy. Nice to see you. Thanks, Clare.

All right, the Nuggets sweep the Lakers to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history, but could that be the last time we see LeBron James on the court? What?

Coy Wire has this morning's --


ROMANS: -- Bleacher Report. What?

WIRE: What's up, Christine?

Denver -- first of all, they showed everyone why they're the best in the west.

But just as impressive was this performance by one of the greatest ever, LeBron James -- on a mission, dropping 31 of his game-high 40 points in the first half. It seemed like everything was going in. Look at this. Aaron Gordon couldn't believe it. The most points in a playoff half in his career. Thirty-eight years old, year 20, unfathomable.

But Gordon -- he couldn't believe this either. He didn't seem to do anything wrong. LeBron just full of attitude and passion here.

The Lakers take a 15-point lead into halftime but the Nuggets two-time league MVP Nikola Jokic erupting in the second half, scoring 20 of his 30 points. He had 14 rebounds, 13 assists. His eighth triple-double of the playoffs breaks the great Wilt Chamberlain's record for the most in a post-season.

In the final seconds, LeBron had a chance to tie it to send it to overtime but Aaron Gordon got the last laugh, blocking that shot.

Denver completing the sweep 113-111.

And LeBron gave a cryptic answer about his future afterwards, Christine.


LEBRON JAMES, LOS ANGELES LAKERS FORWARD: We'll see what happens going forward. I don't know. I don't know. I've got a lot to think about, to be honest. I've got a lot to think about, to be honest. And just for me personally going forward with the game of basketball, I've got a lot to think about.


WIRE: The Nuggets will now await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals where the Heat can sweep the Celtics with a win tonight. Tipoff 8:30 Eastern on our sister channel TNT.

NHL Playoffs now. PGA champion Brooks Koepka in the house in Florida. The Panthers now just one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 27 years.

Sam Reinhart scoring the only goal in their win over the Hurricanes.

Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was a brick wall -- 32 saves. He's only given up three goals in three games this series.

The Panthers can clinch this series on home ice in game four tomorrow. And 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods announcing that he will not play in next month's U.S. Open as he recovers from surgery. The 47-year-old hasn't played since withdrawing from the Masters mid-tournament back in April. His operation was to treat arthritis in his ankle stemming from the severe injuries from his car crash in 2021.

How about this? Tom Brady one step closer to returning to the NFL as an owner. A source familiar with the deal tells CNN that Brady agreed to buy a minority stake in the Las Vegas Raiders. Twenty-four of the 32 NFL owners will have to approve. Brady is already partnered with Raiders owner Mark Davis having bought into Davis' WNBA franchise, the defending champion Las Vegas Aces, back in March.

Finally, Christine, the smallest city in the NFL will soon be hosting the biggest event of the off-season. The league announcing yesterday that Green Bay is awarded the 2025 NFL Draft. Three hundred thousand- plus fans were in Kansas City for the draft last month, Christine. That's about three times the population of Titletown USA.


And I don't mean to be cheesy but this event is going to be gouda. So gouda I almost Camembert it. There are going to be a lot of cheeseheads in that city.

ROMANS: God, Coy Wire, you are so cheesy. Cheesy Coy Wire.

All right, it's nice to see you. Thanks, Coy.

WIRE: You, too.

ROMANS: All right. CNN -- coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING" he is one of the world's richest bachelors but not for long. The big Jeff Bezos news.

And next, right here, what happens to you if the U.S. defaults on its debt. How to protect your assets.


ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this morning, 2,500. Disney is cutting more than 2,500 jobs in its third wave of layoffs. Workers are being notified this week. This round should bring the total number of layoffs close to that 7,000 number that CEO Bob Iger originally announced. That's about three percent of Disney's global workforce cut since October first as the entertainment giant restructures.


All right, looking at markets around the world right now, Asian markets closing down. The Hang Seng sinking to two-month lows there on higher Hong Kong inflation data. European markets are mixed. Eurozone manufacturing shrank this month at the fastest pace since the start of the pandemic.

On Wall Street, stock index futures right now leaning down a little bit here.

You know, markets are laser-focused on debt ceiling negotiations. A mixed closed yesterday. The Dow and the S&P up, the Nasdaq closed -- down rather. The Nasdaq closed at its highest level since August.

Home improvement giant Lowe's will report earnings before the opening bell.

And on inflation watch, gas prices held steady overnight at $3.54 a gallon.

All right, the main event here for investors. The U.S. is a little more than a week away from defaulting on its debt, which economists fear could have seismic implications in the global economy and for your money.

Let's bring in Doug Flynn, partner and co-founder at Flynn Zito Capital Management, to discuss how it could affect your personal investments. Good morning, Doug. Nice to see you.

DOUG FLYNN, PARTNER AND CO-FOUNDER, FLYNN ZITO CAPITAL MANAGEMENT (via Webex by Cisco): Good morning, Christine. How are you?

ROMANS: You know, I'm fine. I'm wondering if we should just be forgetting the login to our 401(k) and just living through this or if we need to be taking a look here and getting a little more conservative. Walk us through what you think the possible scenarios are here.

FLYNN: Yes, there's a couple.

One is whether this is going to be a -- whether or not they're going to default and whether it's going to be a long-term one or a short- term one. A short-term one you can take your cues from what happened in 2011. The markets going to correct but it will kind of work its way through and then sort of bounce back. But the real concern is whether or not it's going to be long and protracted. That is where you get some unprecedented downturns. Really, the market could tank more than 40 percent.

So the issue with your 401(k) is don't stop that because you're saving weekly. But when it comes to maybe cash, cash is going to become king. Gold will do well. They'll be pieces that do well in sort of that market where everything is in freefall because the safest place in the world is now not the safest any longer per se.

ROMANS: Right. The 2011 scenario -- the S&P went down, I think, 17 percent --15 or 17 percent over a couple of months. So that was a buying opportunity for investors. You didn't want to jump out of the market there. You wanted to just kind of close your eyes and ride that.

But this other scenario -- this 40 percent scenario you're talking about if things get really ugly, that concerns me. What if you have a kid? You have a 529? You've got money in there for a kid and you're still fully invested in stocks for a kid that's going to graduate in a year or so. Maybe you should lighten up?

FLYNN: Yes. Well, anytime you're less than three years away you should already be lightening up your equities -- your money in the market. When you're within one year with yields and money markets and savings now pushing five percent, you don't need the stock market risk for anything less than a year.

So I would say the pause that's going on right now in the market is a great time to look at money you definitely need in the next year. Of course, if you don't need money for a long time, that will become another buying opportunity.

But other things will do well. You have to think about stocks like utilities where people still need to put the lights on.

ROMANS: Right.

FLYNN: Real estate could hold up, gold. And then using that cash if you have it, to then pick off some things that maybe got away from you that you wanted to buy but got too expensive. Those will be down a lot and that's your opportunity, even though it's going to be hard to do it at that time in a long-term protracted negotiation.

ROMANS: You know, let's take a look at the calendar. We've got a little more than a week out from a potential default.

I'm wondering what are your clients asking you about? Are they calling you, asking you if they should be making any changes because of what's happening in Washington, or are they numb to this? I mean, we've been here before -- 2011, 2013, and again today.

FLYNN: Yes. You know, I always say that no administration or Congress wants to be the one that the U.S. defaulted under. That has never happened. And that will be with them and the American people are going to revolt with their money and their feet with that if they let this happen. So it's not the base case that it's going to happen.

But realistically, you really have to look at if that does happen how to take advantage of it and, you know, with things like -- we think it's going to get resolved, and if it does get resolved --


FLYNN: -- then you might have a relief rally. And so the fear is if you take your money out of the market you're going to miss that relief rally if the talks that they're doing come through and they settle this. So I don't think the risk is worth going in the market for the possible pop you might get versus the downside risk if they don't, at this point.

ROMANS: All right, Doug Flynn. Always nice to see you. Thank you for calm and reason. And I have to make a tweak to my 529 for my oldest kid. Thank you. Thank you so much, Doug. Nice to see you.

FLYNN: You, too. ROMANS: All right, next on -- next on "CNN THIS MORNING" what police are now saying about the driver who tried to run a barrier at the White House last night. And the moment a 4-year-old boy was dropped from the top of a barrier at the southern border.



ROMANS: Our top of the morning, the top cities in America to start a career.

Number one, Atlanta, Georgia. WalletHub cites the number of entry- level jobs and the quality of life in Atlanta. Number two, Orlando, Florida. It leads the way in entry-level jobs -- the number of entry- level jobs there. Number three, Salt Lake City, Utah.

This survey looked at things like starting salaries and how expensive housing is in this -- these cities. Salt Lake did well.


On the bottom of the list, Newark, New Jersey; Gulfport, Mississippi; and dead last, New York City. Lack of affordable housing a big factor in the Big Apple.

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