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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Today: Grand Jury Expected to Meet in January 6 Case; Mar-a- Lago Staffer Makes First Court Appearance; Source: Devon Archer Tells House Panel Hunter Sold "Illusion" of Access to Joe Biden; Ukraine Launches New Drone Attack in Moscow; U.S. Working for Release of American Nurse & Son. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 01, 2023 - 05:00   ET



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Omar Jimenez.

A lot to get to this morning. Well, starting with Donald Trump's mounting legal troubles. The grand jury investigating the former president's efforts to overturn the 2020 election is expected to meet this morning.

Also, newest defendant in the special counsel's classified documents case is out on bail this morning. Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos de Oliveira made his appearance in a Miami courtroom on Monday. He didn't enter a formal plea to the four charges in the grand jury indictment, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and lying to the FBI.

More now from CNN's Jessica Schneider.


JOHN IRVING, REPRESENTING TRUMP'S CO-DEFENDANT: The Justice Department has unfortunately decided to bring these charges against Mr. De Oliveira. Now it's time for them to put their money where their mouth is.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carlos de Oliveira leaving the federal courthouse in Miami Monday escorted by his lawyer and federal agents. A 20-year employee at Mar-a-Lago, de Oliveira walked out of court on $100,000 bond after being charged along with former Donald Trump and Trump's aide close aide Walt Nauta, with attempting to delete security footage from Mar-a-Lago after it was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury. De Oliveira alleging telling the director of I.T. at Mar-a-Lago, the boss, an apparent reference to Donald Trump, wanted to delete the server where security footage was stored.

CNN also reporting that another Mar-a-Lago employee received a target letter from federal prosecutors. Yuscil Tavares oversees the property surveillance cameras and has met with investigators in recent weeks. It's unclear if he is cooperating. So far, he is not facing charges. But at least some of the allegations in the latest indictment were based on information he provided.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: You know, they're not indicting me. They're indicting you. I just happen to be standing in their way. That's all it is.

SCHNEIDER: Trump defiant as he continued campaigning over the weekend, even as he was charged with additional crimes in the special counsel's classified documents case.

TRUMP: If I weren't running, I would be have nobody coming after me. Or if I was losing by a lot, I would have nobody coming after me.

SCHNEIDER: Plus, all signs point to another indictment soon out of D.C.'s federal court.

REPORTER: Can you tell us whether you expect to have an indictment this week?

SCHNEIDER: Likely against Trump and his allies for their efforts to overturn the 2020 election.


SCHNEIDER: And in Georgia, indictment watch kicks into full gear. Fulton County's district attorney likely a week or two away from presenting her case to a grand jury and announcing whether Trump will be charged for trying to overturn the 2020 election results in that state. Ramped up security measures are already in place around the local courthouse and a county judge just rejected efforts by Trump's legal team to toss evidence in that criminal investigation and to disqualify the district attorney.

WILLIS: Some people may not be happy with the decisions that I am making. Sometimes when people are unhappy, they act in a way that could create harm. The work is accomplished. And we have been working for two and a half years.

SCHNEIDER: And double Trump's legal bills are mounting, so much so that sources have told our Kristen Holmes that his team is now creating a legal defense fund to help offset some of the costs. Up to this point, it's been Trump's political action committee Save America that has been fronting those costs, already spending more than $40 million just this year to pay for the legal fees for Trump and many of his associates.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


JIMENEZ: One of Hunter Biden's former business partners is adding fuel to the Republican investigation of the president's son. Sources tell CNN that Devon Archer testified to a House committee that Hunter Biden sold the, quote, illusion of access to his father. But, offered no evidence actually connecting the president to any of Hunter's business dealings. CNN Melanie Zanona has more from Capitol Hill.


MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, House Republicans are turning up the heat on Hunter Biden. The House Oversight Committee on Monday held a deposition with Devon Archer, he is a former business associate of Hunter Biden. He served on a board of Ukrainian energy company along with Hunter Biden. And Republicans wanted to bring him in because they thought he could reveal key information about President Joe Biden, and whether he was involved in any of his son's foreign business deals.

That is a link that the White House has furiously denied and a link that Republicans have yet to establish. But one of the things that Republicans were particularly interested in was whether President Joe Biden ever spoke with any of Hunter's business partners. Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman was print for that deposition and he confirmed that Hunter Biden did put Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time, on speakerphone around 20 times in the presence of his business partners, but Goldman was adamant that no business was discussed and those conversations were casual.


Take a listen.

REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY): There still is no connection of any of Hunter Biden's business dealings with President Biden. Hunter may have put his father on the phone with any number of different people. And they never once spoke about any business dealings as he described it. It was all casual conversation.

ZANONA: And a source also told my colleague Zach Cohen that Archer testified that Hunter was selling the, quote, illusion of access to his father but never provided any evidence linking Joe Biden to any of these business deals. And the same source also said that archer testified he had no knowledge of allegations about a bribery scheme involving Joe Biden and a foreign national.

Now, Republicans say they feel vindicated after this testimony. And that these speakerphone calls along with a dinner where Joe Biden was present is proof that the president was more intimately involved in his son's business deals than was previously known. They say Biden lied to the American people and they are vowing to continue to dig into the issue.

In fact, a trio of chairman also launched a probe on the same day looking into the Department of Justice plea deal involving Hunter Biden. They want documents. They want a briefing -- a clear sign that they're not letting up on any of these probes any time soon.

Melanie Zanona, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JIMENEZ: Russian officials are accusing Ukraine of launching a new wave of drone strikes on Moscow a short time ago. Moscow's mayor says several were shot down this morning but one of them did crash into the same high-rise tower that was hit in an attack on Sunday.

CNN's Clare Sebastian is following the news live from London.

So, Clare, you and I spoke yesterday, of course, about some of the videos we were seeing of previous drone strikes. Ukraine allegedly taking the war right to the heart of Vladimir Putin's Russia once again here.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, a bit of deja vu there, Omar. Certainly these kinds of attacks are intensifying. This is no longer an isolated incident. We're talking about three drone attacks on Moscow in the space of just over a week. So I think that is significant.

There is no claim of responsibility from Ukraine explicitly. Russia has explicitly blamed them. But we do have this morning a tweet from a prominent Ukrainian official, the adviser to the head of President Zelenskyy's office who says Moscow is rapidly getting used to full- fledged war, which will soon finally move to the territory of the author's of the war. He goes on to say that everything that will happen in Russia, objective historical process, more unidentified drones, more collapse, more civil conflict, more war seems to suggest this may be a part of a process to destabilize Russia.

And that may well be the point here literally and figuratively shattering the facade that's been created for the Russian people that everything is going well, that this is a special military operation on the front lines miles away. Certainly from the Russian capital that Ukraine is losing in its counteroffensive. This really does, as you say, bring it home. And we did, of course, hear from President Zelenskyy on Sunday saying the war is gradually returning to Russian soil. It will involve symbolic centers, he says, and military bases.

I think when you talk about Moscow, that's certainly a symbolic center, but there were military targets allegedly in play as well. Overnight, Russia claiming it thwarted a maritime drone attack on two patrol vessels of its Black Sea fleet. It says it destroyed those maritime drones. But certainly seems these attacks are intensifying.

Russia in response promising to intensify attacks of its own which we have seen play out over the last 24 hours. We are in a period in this car of escalation on both sides -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: Clare Sebastian, of course, something to watch for. Thank you so much.

An American woman is under arrest in the Bahamas charged with conspiring to kill her husband months after the couple filed for divorce. A source telling CNN, Bahamian police foiled that plot when they stumbled on messages on a phone recovered in an unrelated investigation.

CNN's Nick Valencia has the story.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Two local Bohemian men were also taken into custody and according to prosecutors, the accused agreed to carry out a murder for hire plot on the husband of American Lindsey Shiver on the island of Abaco in Bahamas on July 16th.

That plot was foiled. It's not entirely clear how. There's reporting that CNN has been unable to verify.

We do know the three defendants were in a courtroom in the Bahamas on Friday and they were not required to enter a plea. But they were told if they were seeking bail that they could appeal to the Supreme Court on the island.

Social media that appeared to belong to Lindsey Shiver showed her husband and she attended Auburn University and appeared to show a happy church going family. But it was back in April that her husband filed for divorce, citing his wife's adulterous conduct as the reason for the divorce filing. The next day, Lindsey Shiver, also filed for divorce.


Now, we reached out to the attorneys in those divorce proceedings, but we have not yet heard back. Meanwhile the next court date in the Bahamas for those three defendants is October 5th.

Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


JIMENEZ: U.S. officials tell CNN the government is working to secure the release of the kidnapped American nurse in Haiti. The abduction of Alix Dorsainvil and her son is part of a year's long epidemic of kidnapping for profit in that country with more than 1,000 registered by police in just the first six months of this year.

CNN's Paula Newton has more.


ALIX DORSAINVIL, KIDNAPPED AMERICAN NURSE: Haitians are such a resilient people.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alix Dorsainvil in her own words saying how much her work in Haiti means to her. Now, her family and friends are asking for prayers and mercy and the safe return of this nurse from New Hampshire and her child. They were snatched Thursday from the grounds of the faith-based charity El Roi near the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. Her husband Sandro is El Roi's director.

A statement from the charity reads, our team at El Roi Haiti is grateful for the outpouring of prayers, care and support for our colleague. We continue to work with our partners and trusted relationships to secure their safe return.

The U.S. State Department says they're aware of the abductions and doing all it can to assist.

MATTHEW MILLER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We're in regular contact with the Haitian authorities and we'll continue to work with them and our U.S. government and our agency partners.

NEWTON: Haitian police and government authorities have not responded to CNN inquiries about the kidnappings. But on the same day, Dorsainvil and her child were taken, the U.S. ordered all nonemergency staff to leave Haiti and again warned that all Americans should leave, citing the increase in violence and the risk of kidnapping.

But it was the dire need in Haiti and the hope that gang recruitment could be stopped that Dorsainvil said so compelled her to live and work in Haiti over the last several years.

DORSAINVIL: Lots of people who would just have turned to gangs or turned to the streets, they're able to get vocational training. People are learning how to read. The community is being transformed where it was once ashes, now beauty is coming up from it.

NEWTON: Brutal street battles and ever more violent incidents still plague the streets of Port-au-Prince and beyond. Now with an equally violent vigilante uprising in recent weeks that has seen suspected gang members stoned and burned to death. In fact, the U.N. reported earlier this month that an alarming cycle of violence persists.

The U.N. continues to plead for multinational force to move in and quell the violence. The U.S. secretary of state saying Saturday there has been some progress.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We've been very focused on trying to put in place what's necessary for a multinational force, including finding a lead nation to take this on.

NEWTON: Kenya now says with the U.N. mandate, it is willing to send up to 1,000 officers to train and assist Haitian police. But an international intervention may not come soon enough for the nurse and her child at this hour are at the mercy of their captors with their demands unknown.

Paula Newton, CNN, Ottawa.


JIMENEZ: Coming up, an out of control wildfire in the west leading to dangerous fire whirls.

Plus, an Idaho mom is sentenced to life behind bars. We'll tell you why.

And Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago manager makes his first court appearance. We'll tell you about how significant it is.



JIMENEZ: The newest codefendant in the special counsel's classified documents case is out on bail. Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos de Oliveira appeared in a Miami courtroom on Monday. Now, he didn't enter a formal plea to the four charges in the grand jury indictment, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and lying to the FBI.

So, to talk about it all, let's bring in Robert Sanders. He's a national security associate professor at the University of New Haven, former military lawyer.

Robert, great to see you.

I want to start here, that de Oliveira is accused of being part of an effort to try to delete security footage at Trump's resort, as someone who's described as not being part of Trump's inner circle, though. Could that make him more likely, you think, to make a deal?

ROBERT SANDERS, NATIONAL SECURITY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAVEN: Well, where we are today is that the pawns in Donald Trump's orbit are now being forced to move by prosecutor Smith. And each of those pawns is moving in a very predictable way. In chess, pawns get to make one step and one step only.

In this case, the steps are finding a Donald Trump-appointed attorney from Washington, D.C. to bring them closer into the orbit. And then, second, showing up on court on day one and saying they don't have a local Florida attorney to represent them.

So, that is a process by which Donald Trump is able to control these pawns so that the king or in this case, the kingpin is not toppled.

JIMENEZ: And, Robert, to that point, you know, bringing the Trump orbit I should say is paying for at least the legal fees now for de Oliveira and Walt Nauta, as far as we know. You touched on it a little bit.

Is that sort of influence on these folks to try to bring them into that orbit? Is that a common practice? How do you interpret what we're seeing there?

SANDERS: It's not a common practice in the outer world, but in the Trump world, you can see and reach all the way back to last summer when we saw Cassie Hutchinson in the same process, in the same procedure and then realize at some point this is not in my best interest and went out and got her own counsel. So, one of the ways that Donald Trump controls the pawns, the rooks, the castles in his orbit is to assign them counsel of his seeking and his orbit.


JIMENEZ: Yeah. Now, and we're also learning the surveillance footage that's linked to the new obstruction charges against Trump in the classified documents case was only obtained in recent weeks. Is that a sign that the special counsel is still digging despite essentially charges being brought?

SANDERS: It clearly is. And as a good special prosecutor, Mr. Smith has shown himself to be, you never stop looking for things that will help your case move forward or to bring the people you want to charge to the table to plead.

JIMENEZ: Yeah. Now, I want to switch to there's a lot of jurisdictions here, but I want to switch to a state investigation in Georgia tied here. Fulton County judge rejected a challenge from Trump's legal team to stop the investigation. Writing in part, I want to read this here, while being the subject or target of highly publicized criminal investigation is likely unwelcome and unpleasant experience, no court ever has held that status alone provides a basis for the courts to interfere with or halt the investigation.

What do you make of the judge's reaction there? I mean, really didn't seem to leave any daylight for interpretation.

SANDERS: Yeah. I think the judge was trying to let the world know that we live in a world, at least in the United States for the time being, where the rule of law trumps the individual personality of an individual who happened to have been the former president of the United States when he was alleged to have committed crimes. And we're going to move forward like he is a citizen of the United States, like you and I, who can defend himself, is innocent until proven otherwise, but is also open to being investigated by different levels within the United States' systems.

JIMENEZ: And for our audience trying to keep track of all of these cases and all of these jurisdictions, in that case, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to present her 2020 election interference case to a grand jury by September 1st.

Professor Robert Sanders, thank you for joining us this morning. Your insight is greatly appreciated.

Quick hits across America now.

Idaho mom Lori Vallow Daybell has been sentenced to life in prison. She was convicted of murdering two of her children and conspiring to kill her husband's first wife.

The York fire burning in California, Nevada is at 77,000 acres. Officials say it's zero percent contained due to high winds and a heat wave. The smoke is now affecting nearby states.

And President Biden is keeping U.S. Space Command in Colorado, reversing Trump's push to move it to Alabama. The decision comes in the midst of a partisan standoff over the Pentagon's policies on access to abortion.

Coming up, a huge typhoon is bringing extreme rain to China, turning Beijing's roads into rivers.

And one Asian zoo getting its bearings back. You see the bear there, obviously a pun, after a video goes viral. We'll have more on that coming up.



JIMENEZ: At least 11 people have died in Beijing and 27 are still missing this morning after Typhoon Doksuri brought torrential rains and flooding to the region. More than 127,000 people have been displaced as dangerous waters swept away cars, even waterlogging Beijing international airport. Some parts of the city are covered in mud now, and it's not over yet.

CNN's Marc Stewart joins us from Tokyo.

Marc, incredible images that we're seeing. But is the worst over here?

MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Omar. Look, this is tough because it has been raining throughout the day in Beijing at a time when the focus is really supposed to be on evacuations, rescues and recovery.

Let's talk about rescues for a moment, because we have been getting video all day, but one in particular really caught our attention. There's a driver who, as you will soon see, was caught on top of their car. Eventually rescue crews were able to take a crane and hoist a rescue worker down to help that person.

They were able to lift him up using the crane, using a rope. But it is emblematic of what we have been seeing across Beijing.

Fortunately, most of these rescues haven't been so dramatic, but we have seen a lot of people having to be taken out of flooded areas because their cars are stuck and even in streets, people are taken away from buildings, going through water that is well above their waist.

So, Beijing is a city of more than 20 million people. It has impacted, as you mentioned, the airports. One airport in particular has dealt with some flooding. Train service has been impacted. Even some well- known landmarks in Beijing have dealt with this flooding.

There is a venue from the Winter Olympics in 2022 that is dealing with damage. There's a brand new shopping mall that has a big hole in front of it where the earth basically sank in because of all of this water. In addition, a new hotel is also dealing with damage.

Chinese Leader Xi Jinping has been speaking out about this, really talking about the need to get forces together, to deal with these infrastructure issues, to get transportation back on track and to make repairs as soon as possible.

I should point out, where I am right now in Tokyo, if you go to the south, to Okinawa here in Japan, there is the threat of yet another Typhoon, another severe weather threat.