Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Search For Escaped Killer Focuses On Botanical Garden; Ailing American Trapped In Turkish Cave Speaks; Biden Set To Arrive Soon In India For G20 Summit. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired September 08, 2023 - 05:30   ET




DAVID CULVER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm David Culver. Let's get you up to speed on the top stories at the bottom of the hour.

New revelations could be coming this morning in Georgia's election subversion case. Parts of a special grand jury report that had been redacted are expected to be released. The document could show that the panel wanted to indict even more people than the 19 charged last month.

Hurricane Lee officially a Category 5 as Derek Van Dam, our meteorologist, calls it beast mode right now, spinning in the Atlantic well east of the Caribbean. It's still unclear if this is going to impact the U.S. mainland.

President Biden is going to be landing in New Delhi in the coming hours. He's set to have one-on-one talks with the Indian prime minister later today before the G20 summit officially kicks off on Saturday. Worth noting here, China's President Xi Jinping deciding at the last minute not to attend and no explanation given.

So, Biden's immediate focus is obviously going to be on the G20, but a new set of CNN polls is hinting at concern for his 2024 campaign.

Let's bring in Stef Kight, a politics reporter at Axios joining us this morning. We really appreciate it, Stef, because this polling is really revealing. And you've got questions regarding Biden's age and perceived competence, and they really don't have anything to do with specific policies.

But do you think, Stef, that this could be a wake-up call for Biden's campaign that maybe it's time to rethink some strategies here?

STEF KIGHT, POLITICS REPORTER, AXIOS (via Skype): I mean, look, it's never a good sign two-thirds of voters from your own party or leaning Democrats are saying that they would rather see anyone else other than Joe Biden as the -- as the nominee next year.

And, you know, this age question keeps coming up over and over again and maybe in the past it wasn't taken so seriously. But this is yet another poll. This is not the first time we've seen these findings. It's not the first time we've seen Democrats uncertain that they want Biden to be their nominee in 2024. And it's not the first time that age has been one of the, if not the top concern for these Democratic voters.

So it's certainly a sign that this is a real vulnerability and the campaign is going to have to address these concerns and really make a show to Democratic voters and voters across the country that Biden is the best -- the best answer going into 2024.

CULVER: CNN's Manu Raju spoke with Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Thursday. Stef, listen to part of that conversation.


SEN ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Voting for President Biden is going to be about preserving our democracy, and I think a lot of Americans are going to show up to do that.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Should he be drawing that contrast a little more starkly or aggressively -- more consistently?

WARREN: Yeah. I think that every time Donald Trump opens his mouth he draws that contrast pretty starkly.


CULVER: So other Democrats have also been vocal in their support for Biden and his accomplishments, but does Biden's campaign need to embrace the sort of big-picture messaging more?

KIGHT: I think we certainly will see them increasingly embrace this messaging. I think it's important to remember that while Donald Trump still looks to be the most likely GOP nominee next year that process is still ongoing.

And I think one thing that's important to note when you're looking at some of these polls and seeing that Democrats are not sure that they Biden to be the Democratic nominee, when you dig into who they would want to replace him there's not a clear answer. And there is an argument to be made that that's a sign that Democrats maybe don't want Biden to be the nominee right now. But when it comes down to it -- when he is up against Donald Trump again and that anti-Donald Trump factor comes into play, Democrats might get in line.

But, of course, there does need to be a strategy to deal with this uncertainty among Democrats because as we've seen in election after election, Democrats need voters to turn out. And when people are not thrilled about the candidate that's when voters decide to stay home.


CULVER: It doesn't seem likely that the Biden campaign is going to stop pushing Bidenomics. We hear this a lot now. But according to the polls, this is really not resonating. Fifty-eight percent thought Biden's policies have made economic conditions worse.

And Democratic Rep. Katie Porter -- she was actually on with Erin Burnett last night and said this.


REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Joe Biden has a terrific story to tell on the economy. He's not going to get a ton of help telling it, I think, and that's part of one of the things that I hear during my Senate campaign is people want to hear about what he's done. They also want to hear about what he's still going to do.


CULVER: And she says he's not getting enough help. So does he need more help getting that message to land with voters? What do you think?

KIGHT: Clearly, he needs something to work on the economic issue. And the focus on Bidenomics I think is a sign that the campaign -- it signals the campaign knows that this is going to be an important issue going into 2024. They know that the economy is always top of mind for voters when they're going into the polling booth no matter what year it is.

So the focus on this Bidenomics language -- it's clear that the campaign is seeing that this is an issue that they need to nail. They need to prove to the American people that this is something that Biden can handle. But as you point out, we haven't seen much movement in the polls so far. And, of course, this is going to come down to what the economy looks like as people are heading to the polls, and we are still a long ways off and there is time for them to turn this around.

And another thing about the economy is that Republicans and Democrats --


KIGHT: -- will have their own political points that they're pointing to.

CULVER: Stef Kight from Axios, we really appreciate it -- thanks.

KIGHT: Thanks for having me.

CULVER: All right. A convicted murderer who escaped a Pennsylvania prison more than a week ago is still on the run at this hour. Officials zeroing in on a botanical garden near the prison where he might have been spotted for a second time.

CNN's Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another reported sighting as the manhunt for convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante enters its second week. LT. COL. GEORGE BIVENS, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: We had a possible sighting of Cavalcante by a person in the vicinity of Longwood Gardens.

TODD (voice-over): This sighting, officials say, was not far from where he was seen on a trail camera Monday night. A law enforcement official tells CNN someone walked up to police and reported seeing Cavalcante around noon Thursday. Police searched the area inside their perimeter of eight to 10 square miles and asked why they couldn't squeeze in the area to grab him.

BIVENS: Well, it's not just a perfect open piece of land that you can just march through. You've got businesses, residences, highways, hills, valleys, wooded areas that can't be pushed through.

TODD (voice-over): Cavalcante has been on the run since August 31, the week after he was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his girlfriend. The victim's family in fear for their lives.

DEB RYAN, CHESTER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: They do have protection and they are terrified. They haven't left their home. They're barricaded inside and very concerned about their safety. We do have police detail around them 24 hours a day, but I know they're very, very worried.

This is an outrage. This should have never happened. You know that I was the prosecutor who was assigned to this case and I helped convict this man and he was sentenced to life with -- you know, without parole. We're all upset.

TODD (voice-over): This stunning surveillance video shows the escape. The 34-year-old crab-walking up the side of a wall in an outdoor exercise area of the prison. Investigators say he pushed through razor wire, ran across a roof, scaled another fence, and got through more razor wire.

Now on the run, he's been seen several times in the surrounding area and police have found his footprints.

NINA LYMAN, HOME SEARCHED TWICE: Saturday evening we heard some very strange things in the woods, saw some things on our cameras, and we did alert police.

TODD (voice-over): Nina and Charlie Lyman live less than two miles from the prison on a 65-acre farm. They believe Cavalcante may have been on their property, which police have searched twice.

LYMAN: We do have several nooks and crannies. We have three barns, haylofts, horse trailers. There are three houses on the property. So we're a little -- we're taking precautions.

TODD (voice-over): Cavalcante has also been recorded at least twice on surveillance video.

TODD (on camera): The more days that go by without them catching him, does he get more dangerous? J.J. KLAVER, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Well, he does. He gets more dangerous because he gets more desperate. And he's probably looking to obtain a weapon. He's going to need to get water and food, and more clothes, and he's looking for a vehicle. And all of those things potentially put him in contact with the public -- with citizens in their homes, cars, outside -- and that's where the real danger comes in.

TODD (on camera): Police tell CNN that so far, they have found no indication that Danelo Cavalcante has obtained a weapon. When we asked if he's left any traces of himself anywhere -- like, food, clothing, or anything else -- we were told so far, they have found no physical traces of him.

Brian Todd, CNN, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.


CULVER: This morning, we're hearing from the American trapped deep inside a Turkish cave. Mark Dickey suffered gastrointestinal bleeding -- intestinal bleeding -- and this was actually during a research mission.

He's now under observation at the base camp more than 3,000 feet down. He got some units of blood. He's alert. He's talking -- even smiling. But getting him back to the surface -- well, that could take a while.

CNN's Nada Bashir covering this from London. Hey, there, Nada. So what is Dickey saying about this whole ordeal?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well look, David, this is certainly a welcomed update from Dickey as we hear from him at base camp. He has, in this video, expressed his gratitude to those taking part in the rescue operation. We know, of course, that around 150 rescuers from multiple nations are now surrounding Turkey's third-deepest cave taking part in this immense logistical challenge to rescue Dickey from the cave.

He is at base camp, more than 3,000 feet below ground, where he is receiving medical attention as rescuers continue to assess the upcoming operation.

But as we heard in that message, he has acknowledged this could certainly take days. Take a listen.


MARK DICKEY, TRAPPED IN TURKISH CAVE: I look forward to working with everyone to safely get myself out with their assistance. As you can see, I'm up, I'm alert, I'm talking. But I'm not healed on the inside yet so I need a lot of help to get out of here.


BASHIR: Now look, David, Turkey's Caving Federation says it would typically take an experienced caver around 15 full hours to make it to the surface under ideal circumstances, so this certainly will be a challenge.

We know, of course, that Dickey has suffered in the last week from gastrointestinal bleeding, so that is a concern. He isn't, according to medical teams and rescuers, able to put pressure on his stomach area so that will pose a challenge to rescuers. This is in a very deep cave -- very narrow, winding passageways that they will have to navigate, so that is a concern. But the rescue teams are sharing their cautious optimism that he will reach the surface in the next couple of days -- David.

CULVER: And Nada, it's really reassuring to see him in that video. But also, it's clear he's dealing with freezing temperatures and you could see his breath in that. So hopefully, it comes out successful.

I know you're going to be following it. We appreciate it. Thanks, Nada. Good to see you.

Coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING," Rudy Giuliani drowning in legal bills. How he hopes to make a dent in his debt.

And next, right here, a new controversy in the world of women's soccer. Why Spanish players are not going on strike.



CULVER: Exactly 5:45 here on the East Coast. Here is today's fast- forward lookahead.

We're expecting the final report from the special purpose grand jury in Georgia to be released unredacted in the coming hours. So this could show if members actually wanted to indict more people than the seven -- the 19, rather, charged last month in the election subversion case.

Sources telling CNN that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will endorse Donald Trump for president today. Some Republicans see her as a potential running mate if Trump wins the nomination.

And President Biden is set to arrive in India just a few hours from now. He's going to take part in the G20 summit this weekend. And at the summit, the president is going to meet with world leaders to pitch the message that America's economy is strong after the pandemic and to discuss several other matters, such as Ukraine, climate change, and developing countries.

CNN's Kevin Liptak is in New Delhi. Hey, Kevin, good morning.

So what do you think Biden's main focus here is going to be as he starts off the G20?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah, and there's no doubt that this is a divided G20. There are fractures in this summit. And I don't think President Biden's objective is necessarily to paper over them but he is hoping to highlight the United States as a reliable partner, particularly for the developing world and particularly, when compared to China.

And he does have an opening on that front. The Chinese President Xi Jinping will not be at this summit. In some ways, that's a lost opportunity for President Biden. And you'll remember Biden and Xi met for several hours at last year's G20 in Bali.

But it also sort of seeds the stage to President Biden to make this argument that the U.S. can be a reliable partner for these developing countries and he is coming armed with proposals to reform institutions like the World Bank to provide loans that can help provide funding for projects in the developing world.

Of course, Ukraine is the other issue that is going to dominate the summit. And we're told in the lead-up to President Biden's arrival, diplomats have been furiously talking about a language and a joint communique that would come out of this summit when it comes to Ukraine and they haven't been able to come to any agreement on that front yet. So, certainly, that's a main dividing line.

If they aren't able to come up with a communique, that would be a blow to the man at the center of these talks, which is the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is really trying to use this summit to bolster his stature as a global statesman. And it is remarkable when you're walking around New Delhi. His face is on posters, on signs. You can't really walk 10 feet without seeing him.

President Biden's first order of business when he arrives here later today will be a one-on-one meeting with Modi at Modi's residence here in New Delhi, David.

CULVER: And Kevin, the president leaving the U.S. facing some steep political headwinds. What do you think his role is going to be as he's overseas now?

LIPTAK: Yeah, no president really wants to go overseas with those kinds of numbers. And the White House Democrats -- they are downplaying them. They do make the point that this election is more than a year away. But certainly, they recognize that they have some issues that they need to correct here -- most principally about President Biden's age.


And it is interesting. They do view these foreign trips as a moment to highlight the president as a statesman -- as someone who has the endurance to do these long days on the global stage. And you saw his campaign just yesterday released an ad highlighting his trip to Ukraine earlier this year.

But you can be sure that the other world leaders at this summit have not let those numbers go unnoticed. Of course, they're politicians. They understand politics as well as anyone.

And as President Biden makes this pitch for a sustained U.S. role in the world they have to be wondering how sustained that can be going forward if President Biden isn't able to win reelection next year, David.

CULVER: And President Xi, no doubt, watching from Beijing to see any weaknesses that they could perhaps pounce on.

Kevin, really good to see you. We appreciate it.

The White House Situation Room getting its first makeover in 15 years. The high-security complex beneath the West Wing was completely stripped in a year-long revamp. Now the entire room has been refitted with enhanced security and technology. There's also new mahogany finishes, navy carpet, ultramodern monitors that they've got up on the walls.

It was not cheap. It cost about $50 million. A little bit more than that, in fact. The director of the Situation Room says President Biden's jaw dropped when he saw it this week.

Players in the top women's soccer league in Spain are striking. They're going to miss the first two games of the season after failing to reach an agreement with the league on better pay. Now, this comes after Spain's triumph at the World Cup -- the Women's World Cup and during what is continued fallout over Spanish soccer chief Luis Rubiales' unwanted kiss on player Jennifer Hermoso.

CNN's Amanda Davies is in London with more. Amanda, what are the players asking for here?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN HOST, CNN WORLD SPORT: It's a familiar tale and it's a simple answer. It's more money, as the federation put it. It's -- or the unions put it -- fair and just treatment for the players. And there's minimal -- minimum pay levels that have been set for the Women's League in Spain.

And if I tell you the minimum that a women's player in the professional league in Spain should earn is $17,000 as things stand. That is not a week -- that is a year. To put it into context, for the men's top flight it is $197,000.

This is a negotiation that has been going on for a long time. It's over the last year. The players are asking for an incremental increase up to $26,500 for a minimum of a year and then in a couple of years that going up to $32,000. The league has hit back saying it isn't feasible.

But, of course, as you rightly mentioned, this is coming at this time of chaos for Spanish football, but at a moment where we should be celebrating the achievements of these women players.

This weekend was meant to be the first time that historic World Cup winning side was going to be back in action on home soil. We saw last year record-breaking attendances with the Barcelona women's team filling out the Camp Nou with 90,000 people.

This should be the moment for the likes of Olga Carmona, Salma Paralluelo to be celebrated on their domestic stage. But instead, we know there's two weeks, at least, where these games won't be played. The negotiations continue but as we've seen across world football, so

many of these cases and different issues still to be fought and won.

CULVER: Yeah. But, Amanda, that pay gap that you bring up there -- that's really striking and says a lot.

Thanks for the update. We appreciate it. Good to see you.

The Detroit Lions pull off an upset against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL season opener.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. What's up, Andy?


Yes, so the expectations for the Detroit Lions coming into this season -- they're sky-high. Many are predicting that they're going to win the NFC North Division for the first time ever this season. And, well, the season is off to a good start there for the Detroit Lions.

KC's star tight end Travis Kelce not playing last night due to his injured knee. He watched in street clothes as the Chiefs unveiled their Super Bowl championship banner.

A big play in this one in the third quarter. Patrick Mahomes looking for Kadarius Toney on the third down. The ball goes right through his hands and rookie Brian Branch picks it off and takes it 50 yards the other way for the touchdown. And take another look at this one. Man, it should have been caught. Not Mahomes' fault at all.

Now, the game was tied at 14 at that point. And going to the fourth quarter, down six. David Montgomery here -- 8-yard touchdown run for the Lions. And that would end up being your game-winner. Detroit upsets KC in the opener 21-20.



DAN CAMPBELL, DETRIOT LIONS HEAD COACH: And we expected to win this game, you know? We came in here and we knew what we needed to do and we knew it wasn't going to be easy, and we did that. And really, what it means is that's one -- that's one.


SCHOLES: All right. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, meanwhile, is reportedly becoming the highest-paid player in NFL history. According to multiple reports, Burrows agreed to a five-year, $275 million contract extension. That comes to about $55 million a year.

The Bengals open their season on the road against the Browns this Sunday.

All right. Turning to tennis, teen sensation Coco Gauff is headed to her first U.S. Open final. She beat the 10-seed Karolina Muchova 6-4 7-5 last night in the semifinals.

Now, this match was actually delayed for about 50 minutes when environmental protesters started shouting in the stands. According to the USTA, four protesters were involved and three of them were escorted out of the stadium without further incident. One of them, though, had glued their feet to the stands.

Now, Coco, meanwhile, at 19 years old, the youngest American woman to reach the U.S. Open finals since Serena Williams won her first back in 1999.


COCO GAUFF, ADVANCES TO U.S. OPEN FINAL: I'm trying to enjoy the moment but also knowing that I still have more work to do. So, yes, the final is an incredible achievement but it's something that I'm not satisfied with yet.


SCHOLES: All right. So, Coco is now going to play Aryna Sabalenka in tomorrow's final.

Sabalenka, who will become the world number one when the new rankings come out next week, with an impressive comeback against Madison Keys last night. Sabalenka lost the first set 6-0 and Keys was serving for the matchup 5-4 in the second set, but Sabalenka rallied to win 7-6 in that one. And then also, battled and took the third set -- another tiebreak 7-6.

Sabalenka won her first grand slam title at the Australian Open back in January. Now she's a victory away from her second. So quite the year for her.

And David, we've got a big day with the men's semifinals coming your way there at Flushing Meadows. You've got Ben Shelton, the American, taking on Novak Djokovic; and Carlos Alcaraz taking on Daniil Medvedev -- two fabulous matches. It should be fun to watch.

CULVER: Yeah, an exciting weekend up here in New York.

Good to see you, Andy. Take care. Have a good one.

SCHOLES: All right.

CULVER: Donald Trump telling the judge he may try to move his Georgia election interference case to federal court. When he could file the motion ahead.

And Chinese companies buying thousands of acres of farms here in the U.S. What U.S. lawmakers want to do about it. I'm going to bring you that story coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."