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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Sources: Georgia DA Set to Present Trump Election Tampering Case to Grand Jury Next Week; Trump Rails Against Indictments at New Hampshire Event; Ohio Voters Reject Referendum That Would Make It Harder to Amend Constitution; White House Official: Ukrainian Counteroffensive Has Been "Incremental, Slow"; Montgomery Police Issue Assault Warrants for 3 Men. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired August 09, 2023 - 05:00   ET



RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN ANCHOR: Happening right now on EARLY START, the countdown to Donald Trump's next possible indictment. We have new reporting on when grand jurors will hear the case.

Plus, arrest warrants have been issued in this chaotic brawl on an Alabama boat dock. I'm sure you've seen the video. And police say they may not be done yet.

Voters in Ohio reject changes to the state's ballot rules. It's a key win for abortion rights.

Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Rahel Solomon. It's great to be with you this morning.

Donald Trump's one-man legal docket filling up next week. CNN has learned that Fani Willis, the district attorney for the Atlanta area, will spend two days in front of a grand jury next week presenting her case against the former president.

Now, sources tell CNN that Willis could seek several indictments in a sweeping racketeering case. It would cast Trump and a number of associates as operating a criminal enterprise, aimed at subverting the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Meantime, Trump's lawyers will have their first hearing before the judge overseeing the federal January 6th prosecution

And CNN's Paula Reid has more on that.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Judge Tanya Chutkan has scheduled a hearing for Friday at 10:00 a.m. to hear arguments from both attorneys for former President Trump and the special counsel about possible rules for exactly how evidence, especially sensitive evidence will be handled in this case.

A special counsel has been lobbying for a broad protective order to limit the ability of the former president to share sensitive information that is turned over in this case. But Trump's lawyers have argued for something more narrow, something that only covers the most sensitive information. They argue that would be more in line with the protective orders in another January 6th cases.

Now, Trump lawyers also asked this hearing be scheduled next week as they have another hearing in the other special counsel investigation down in Florida, on Thursday. But Judge Chutkan, she appears based on her scheduling orders so far to be keen to move this along as quickly as possible.

She's scheduled this hearing on Friday. Both sides will have the opportunity to present arguments, and this will be their first time appearing before a judge who will continue to oversee this case until it what is expected to be a trial. Former President Trump is not expected to be at Friday's hearing.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


SOLOMON: In the meantime, Donald Trump was on the campaign trail in New Hampshire blasting the prosecutions against him as politically motivated. Also throwing in profanity for good measure.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is traveling with the former president.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump today attacked the special counsel, while campaigning in the critical early state of New Hampshire.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: They call him deranged Jack Smith.

HOLMES: Days after being arraigned on allegations he tried to overturn the 2020 election, despite knowing that he lost.

TRUMP: There was never a second of any day that I didn't believe that that election was rigged, it was a rigged election.

HOLMES: Trump slammed efforts from prosecutors to limit what evidence could be publicly shared in Trump's case.

TRUMP: I will talk about it. They're not taking when my First Amendment rights.

HOLMES: As he faces increasing legal jeopardy, Trump remains the GOP front runner, claiming the charges would hinder his bid for the White House.

TRUMP: I'm sorry, I won't be able to go to Iowa today, I won't be able to go to New Hampshire today, because I am sitting in a courtroom on bullshit.

HOLMES: Some supporters of the former president said they are not fazed by his legal issues. JOANN CONNERS, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think every time that he is

indicted, he gets stronger and stronger. I feel like we have a two tiered system and we need to go back to a one tiered system.

HOLMES: Trump's rivals also hit the trail in the granite state Tuesday, as they seek to gain traction with GOP voters. As his campaign seeks a reboot, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis replaced his campaign manager, part of a continued shake of this team.

And with a little more than two weeks until the first GOP debate in Milwaukee, former Vice President Mike Pence has qualified to take the stage.

Trump has still not decided if you will participate in the debate and has been polling his allies and supporters.

TRUMP: Should I do the debate?



TRUMP: Maybe we'll do something else. You know, some people say yes, but they hate to say it because it doesn't make sense.


HOLMES (on camera): The former President Trump also went after Fulton County Georgia district attorney, Fani Willis. He and his team are bracing for a fourth indictment there, because of his activity, trying to overturn the election in the state of Georgia.

He said that he did nothing wrong, something he has said before, that it was a -- but he has told allies that they are expecting a fourth indictment.

Now, Trump continues to say that this is helping him politically, saying that it is going to give him a boost in the polls. But there are several allies and advisers around him who are not so sure what this means in the long room.

Kristen Holmes, CNN, Wyndham, New Hampshire.

SOLOMON: Now to a critical victory for abortion rights advocates in Ohio last night. Voters soundly rejected referendum to raise the threshold for amending the state constitution from a simple majority to 60 percent. The measure with Republican led effort to make it harder to pass a November referendum that would protect abortion rights in the Ohio constitution.

Progressive groups fighting the measure applauded the results.


DENNIS WILLARD, SPOKESPERSON, ONE PERSON ONE VOTE: Ohio, we did it. We did it. Tonight is a major victory for democracy in Ohio. The majority still rules in Ohio and the people's power has been preserved.


SOLOMON: Coalition leaders also say that the work to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, while that begins today, they say.

U.S. national security officials say that they are aware that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is not progressing as quickly as expected. Ukraine's president on Tuesday admitting that the counteroffensive has not been easy and is, quote, happening probably slower than some had hoped.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, he told CNN that Ukraine has, quote, still at it and has not given up in the face of difficulties.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: Nobody wants to see them struggle, and, like I said, they are not doing as well as they like, so we are all going to be dedicated to continuing to help them get what they need. And if that means more training, then more training it will be. If that means more capabilities, the more capabilities it will be. We are all in this together. We all want to see them succeed


SOLOMON: And CNN's Clare Sebastian is live for us in London.

So, Clare, these, our look remarkable admissions from Ukraine and a major ally. I mean, what factors are being blamed for the progress? Is it the lack of training that we just heard from Kirby? What are they saying?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, it's a number of factors, frankly, Rahel, and this is some where Ukraine's President Zelenskyy and Western officials that we have been speaking to agree. It's the slowness of which they were able to started.

Remember, this was called the spring counteroffensive. They wanted to start in the spring. They did not manage to get things underway until early June. President Zelenskyy has since said that because they were waiting for stock of weapons to arrive until they reached that sort of critical mass.

It's the Russian defenses, because during that time, Russia was able to really get in with these minefield, trenches, bonkers, things like that that just made the advance on the battlefield and continues to make it extremely difficult.

And then the issue of training, was there enough training and for the Ukrainian brigades using the Western weapons? Those are all things that both sides, or all sides in the conflict, are looking at. I think that for Ukraine, the issue now is time, right? We are not just talking about to the approach of winter.

We're talking about the changing political seasons and you heard Kirby saying that we were with Ukraine, whatever they need, we will stand with them. The polling that you see in terms of U.S. public opinion it's a bit more nuanced.

Take a look at, this is the CNN poll that was surveyed more than 1,000 Americans in July and it does show a bit of a shift. Now, the data shows that 51 percent of Americans think that the U.S. has actually done enough to help Ukraine, only 48 percent, so less than half, and think they should do more. Compare that more than 60 percent in the very early days of the conflict, who actually felt the U.S. could do more to help Ukraine.

So there is a shift there. That is a snapshot, but it is one that President Zelenskyy in Ukraine will be watching closely. And frankly, so will Russia -- Rahel.

SOLOMON: Absolutely. Clare Sebastian, live for us in London, thank you, Clare.

Now to a developing story right now out of Hawaii. Wildfires are burning dangerously close to home. Take a look at this video, this is from Maui where multiple burnings have already burned. There are also fire evacuation orders on the big island, high winds from hurricane Dora in the Pacific are fueling some of these flames.

Take a look at this video, there is also a large brush fire burning right now near Austin, Texas. One apartment building, just a total loss. This happened in densely populated Cedar Park. Three other buildings were damaged, one person had injuries although those injuries were said to be minor.


And, coming up for us, police announced the first arrest in that brawl in an Alabama boat dock. Remember we showed you this video yesterday? Now, we're going to have an update.

Plus, a judge sentences the Canadian rapper Tory Lanez for shooting rapper Megan Thee Stallion.

And, a four-day school week. We talk about a four day work week, what would a four-day school week look like? We will discuss on the other side of this.


SOLOMON: Welcome back.

Authorities in Montgomery, Alabama, have issued arrest warrants for three men. This is in connection with that wild dock side brawl that broke out Saturday. We showed you this yesterday.

So, it started when a Black river boat captain asked white voters to move their vessel out of the river boat slot on the dock, and then they attacked him. Police say at least one of the men is in custody in Selma. All three faces all charges.

We have more now from CNN's Ryan Young in Montgomery.




But to see it live and being a person of color, you have those stories from your grandmother about how it used to be and how wrong it was. So, it was hurtful.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Clayton Thomas is a musician of the river cruiser Harriott II, witnessed the fight that took place between a group of White boaters and a Black employee that escalated into a massive fight on a riverside dock in Montgomery, Alabama, on Saturday.

The incident occurred after the riverboat's co-captain Damien Pickett tried to clear the dock space where the riverside cruiser normally docks.

The Montgomery Police Chief Darryl Albert announcing Tuesday that three White men have been charged with third degree assault for their involvement in the incident.

DARRYL ALBERT, MONTGOMERY POLICE CHIEF: We're also asking for Mr. Reggie Gray (ph), the Black male, 42 years old, who was seen wielding that folder chair to contact the Montgomery Police Department for further interview.

YOUNG: The chief also identified the other victim today, a 60-year- old White male whose mother signed an arrest warrant on one of the individuals who attacked their son. The river cruiser idled for about 40 minutes while the captain was prevented from docking and first attempted to contact the pontoon's owners by the cruiser's PA system.

ALBERT: The co-captain was then picked up by a separate vessel and brought to the pier in an attempt to have a conversation with the private boat owners and/or have those boats moved so that the Harriott could dock. A confrontation ensued between the co-captain and Mr. Pickett, the co-captain, being attacked by several members of the private boat.

THOMAS: Everybody was yelling, hey! And the captain, everybody is cringing because we can't help him, because he's getting stomped and kicked and cussed.

YOUNG: While it appeared to be largely split across racial lines, the police chief said at this time, there is not enough evidence to meet the criteria to charge for a hate crime or inciting a riot.

ALBERT: Knowing Montgomery's history, knowing all the civil rights things that we went through here the city of Montgomery and what that means to the nation. We were very amped up to get this right. We'll continue to do all that we need to, to ensure that we get it right.

YOUNG: Montgomery's mayor, Steven Reed, says the investigation isn't over yet.

MAYOR STEVEN REED, MONTGOMERY, AL: You can't allow your emotions or your initial thoughts to get out in front of what the facts tell you. And, so, while this is an ongoing investigation, so far, the facts are kind of, you know, separating themselves from what was fiction.


YOUNG (on camera): You can see that Harriot II right behind me. Since this incident happened, there have been signs that have now been added to this dock space to make sure that no one park summit space again. The real question is about the three men who police want to charge with these crimes and how soon they will all be in custody -- something that the community is looking forward to, to try to figure out exactly what happened.

Ryan Young, CNN, Montgomery, Alabama.

SOLOMON: Thank you, Ryan.

And time for quick hits across America now.

A man convicted of shooting Megan Thee Stallion in 2020 has been sentenced to ten years in prison on assault and gun charges. Tory Lanez was convicted of shooting Megan Thee Stallion in the foot after an argument.

U.S. Supreme Court has reinstated the Biden administration's regulation of ghost guns. These are firearms assembled at home from parts bought online, without a serial number or background check.

And, police say an underwater teams specializing in court cases have found about 30 cars submerged in a south Florida lake. Multiple agencies will now be recovering and investigating those vehicles.

And hard to believe, but the school year is quickly approaching and, for most, that means going back to class Monday through Friday. But more schools are also switching to a four-day week. According to data from the Oregon State University, four-day school week policy team, more than 2,100 schools and nearly 900 school districts across 26 states have implemented that schedule, the number of schools just doubling in the past decade.

Joining us now to discuss is Christopher Doss, a quantitative university at the Rand Corporation who is focused on this topic.

Christopher, great to see you in studio this morning.


SOLOMON: So, let's talk first about school instruction and how this impacted learning. What did you find? DOSS: We found that four students were in the four-day school week,

they actually took a hit to student achievement so they were performing lower in math and English language arts.

SOLOMON: I see. Would more instruction time, would a fifth day sort of bridge that gap do you think?

DOSS: Yeah, the research tells us that part of the reason that they might be performing lower is because they are in school last time. So most school -- most school districts try to extend the other four days, but they don't extended enough to make up for the time that they lose on that fifth day.

SOLOMON: You and I were talking about this earlier, and we were talking about, is it similar to some of the loss when students come back from summer, or is this different than that?

DOSS: It's a little different. When you think about student lost over the summer, because they forget, they get out of the habit of learning. Here, they are in school, less so they're not winning as much to begin with.

SOLOMON: OK. One thing you might hear school districts say and point to is the cost savings. But your research found that the cost savings are actually modest. Tell me about that.

DOSS: Yeah, some other researchers looked at the cost savings. There's about 2 to 3 percent is what they save on their budget, it is because there is a lot of fixed costs. So, you might run the buses for one day less and save money, but you still have to buy the buses in the first place.

A lot of people that adopt this are in the rural districts, so they just serve a lot -- a few kids, but they have to support an entire district for the few kids that they serve. So, there's just a lot of costs baked into schooling that you can't recoup just by taking out one day.

SOLOMON: And that means it's hard time to be an educator day these days, I mean, with budgetary restraints being what they are. And also, teacher labor shortages. I mean, how much does that play in the popularity of this?

DOSS: So, there has been a resurgence of this -- of this policy because people think that teachers would be more willing to understate the classroom or come to their districts because they only have to work four days instead of five.

SOLOMON: Uh-huh. So, are you finding that it's actually a useful tool in recruiting teachers over to some districts?

DOSS: So, there is still research out on that, but if you think about it, if you have a neighboring district that's five days and you take one of their teachers way for them because we only have to work for days in your school district --


DOSS: -- what's to stop that five-day school week district from adopting it and then you -- that kind of advantage goes away? So it might be short sighted.

SOLOMON: What did you find in terms of parents and students, and also teachers? I mean, a lot of the people who are affected by this policy, where do they stand on whether they prefer five days or four days?

DOSS: So, a lot of people, most people that adopted the policy really like it, from families to teachers and even the school. So it is really a story of trying to understand how much people like it and what they think the benefits are, but then trying to balance that with the fact that some student achievement can be seriously hurt by this policy.

SOLOMON: Did you see any differences in terms of support for this kind of policy based on where people are? Because, for example, I would say somewhat appreciate having five days because of childcare, right? So did you see any differences based on where people send their kids to school?

DOSS: So, most of the districts have adopted this are rural districts. And rural districts are -- have a particular type of community, so they have a lot of grandparents who take care of kids. They have a lot of parents that work offsite and are away from the home for a long period of time.

So part of the reasons they like this is that that three-day weekend allows the kids and spouse to visit the parent who is working off- site. Or they can arrange child care more easily because they have a parent in the home. So this works -- may work for rural communities, they are the ones who have adopted by a large now. So, it's a little bit of an unknown how this would work in suburban or urban communities.

SOLOMON: Yeah, a lot to watch, but really fascinating. I was telling you, I mean, we talk so much certainly is a business correspondent about four-day workweeks, which actually some research suggests that you don't lose productivity. So, really, it's interesting to see with the studies at least so far with a four-day school week that it appears that instruction and teaching sort of does suffer a bit.

DOSS: So this is probably a story of how do adults function in the workplace and how they rearrange their schedules versus how do kids learn. And it seems that the time in their seats really matter, right? They're actually learning things when they're in the school and that is kind of the key.

SOLOMON: Really interesting. Christopher, thanks for coming in.

DOSS: No problem. Thanks for having me.

SOLOMON: Great to have you, of course.

DOSS: Thank you. SOLOMON: All right. So, the scout motto is be prepared. But how do you prepare for this? Just ahead, tens of thousands of scouts evacuated the world's largest youth camp in South Korea.

And, Iranian women are still defiant in the face of harsher punishments and long jail terms.

We'll be right back.



SOLOMON: Welcome back.

New pressure on military coup leaders in Niger this morning after the West African bloc ECOWAS approved fresh sanctions against the group. Co-leaders refused to allow State Department envoy Victoria Nuland to meet ousted President Mohamed Bazoum in Niger.


MATT MILLER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Acting Deputy Secretary Nuland presented options for diplomatic path forward, and a negotiated process going, forward and they were not willing to take that path at this time. We're going to keep trying again, fully --


SOLOMON: Let's bring in CNN's Stephanie Busari. She joins us live from Lagos, Nigeria.

Stephanie, good morning. So we now know more about President Bazoum's condition. I mean, what do we know? Where is he?

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN AFRICA SENIOR EDITOR: So, we don't know exact whereabouts, we assume he is being held in the presidential palace, but CNN has seen verified text messages passed us with his consent, where he says that he has been without electricity since the 2nd of August and since the 4th of August he seemed deprived of human contact.

And he says, as a result, he is not been able to have his supplies of medication and food has been limited. He says that he is been reduced to eating only non-perishable foods and everything perishable is finished because there's no electricity. So, it sounds like a very dire conditions that President Bazoum is currently being held in. I mean, he has been in contact with the outside world. He wrote an opinion piece for "The Washington Post" for example, and has had calls with world leaders.

So it hasn't been entirely cut off, but it seems that the junta are holding him captive and he has said that he is a hostage, and seemingly, in very dire conditions. And this adds to the great frustrations from the U.S. and other partners about the junta's hardening stance and the refusal to come to the negotiating table. Here is U.S. State Department Matthew Miller.


MILLER: I think it's very unfortunate and it is in keeping with the message that we heard from them yesterday when Acting Deputy Secretary Nuland presented options.