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Isa Soares Tonight
U.S. Offers To Swap 2 American Prisoners For 1 Russian Arms Dealer; Biden Speaks With Xi Jinping Amid Tensions Over Taiwan; Ukraine Hoping To Start Shipping Grain This Week; Russia Makes Incremental Progress In Donetsk Region; U.S. Economy Contracts Again, Fueling Recession Fears; Breakthrough On U.S. Climate-Energy Bill. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired July 28, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, will the Kremlin go along with an
American plan to swap prisoners? Washington is waiting for Moscow's response. President Biden speaks to China's leader at a moment of global
tensions for all the two super powers.
And ships loaded with Ukrainian grain could stop moving sooner across the Black Sea. We are live in Odessa with the very latest for you. But first,
the Kremlin is keeping a tight lip on a proposed swap that would free the most notorious Russian prisoner in U.S. custody. The Biden administration
is offering to exchange Viktor Bout; a convicted arms dealer accused of fueling some of the world's conflicts, for a women's basketball star and a
former U.S. Marine held in Russia.
Moscow won't confirm details of negotiations, but says there is no deal yet. Well, the U.S. went public with news of what it calls a substantial
proposal just hours after the WNBA star Brittney Griner took the stand in her criminal trial. Our Kylie Atwood is tracking all the developments from
Washington for you.
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the man nicknamed the "Merchant of Death". Convicted arms trafficker Viktor
Bout, currently serving a 25-year sentence in the United States.
THOMAS HARRINGTON, FORMER OPERATIONS CHIEF, U.S. DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION: When arrested, he oversaw operations capable of delivering
enough weapons to launch rebellions, fuel revolutions and slaughter untold thousands of people. He was an accessory to violence on a scale that is
ATWOOD: And now, according to sources briefed on the matter, the Biden administration has offered to return him as part of a proposed deal for two
Americans the United States says are wrongfully detained in Russia, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying
they've offered a deal to Russia, but not confirming the details.
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: We put a substantial proposal on the table weeks ago to facilitate the release. Our governments
have communicated repeatedly and directly on that proposal.
ATWOOD: Though, the administration has been loath to engage in prisoner swaps to free American citizens, concerned the countries like Russia could
be incentivized to try and hold more Americans, it's one of the few tools that actually work. And now, sources say President Biden supports this law,
especially after the last swap between the United States and Russia earlier this year, received bipartisan support.
Bout is a former Soviet military officer, who has been accused of using front companies to funnel Soviet-era weapons into conflict zones like
Afghanistan, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Even working with U.S. government contractors in Iraq.
PREET BHARARA, PROSECUTED VIKTOR BOUT: He's a dangerous person. He's one of the most prolific arms dealers in the world. He was convicted in a U.S.
federal court in New York of conspiracy to kill Americans.
ATWOOD: A far cry from Bout's global arms smuggling operation, Griner has pleaded guilty to bringing less than a gram of cannabis into Russia.
BRITTNEY GRINER, AMERICAN BASKETBALL PLAYER: I did not plan or had the intent to bring any cannabis or banned substance to Russia. I do understand
what my charges are against me, and with them being accidentally in my bags, I take responsibility.
ATWOOD: Griner says she had medical cannabis to treat her pain from numerous sports injuries, and that she accidentally took it with her while
she was rushing to pack up for the trip, having recently recovered from COVID. In a Russian courtroom today, she described her harrowing arrest at
the Moscow airport.
GRINER: My rights were never read to me, no one explained any of it to me. I definitely knew I was being detained. And I kept asking if I could leave
or what's next? But it just was, wait, wait for results.
ATWOOD: But with Russia's invasion of Ukraine still raging and U.S. sanctions still pressuring Russia's economy, U.S. officials believe the
Kremlin is using Griner as a political pawn. The family of Marc Fogel, who is similarly detained for bringing cannabis into Russia, that he said was
for treating chronic pain believes he is also being used as a pawn.
Last month, he was sentenced to 14 years in a Russian penal colony. Though the State Department has not declared Fogel to be wrongfully detained.
ANNE FOGEL, SISTER OF AMERICAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA: He made a terrible mistake by taking medical marijuana into Russia, but 14 years in a hard
labor camp is essentially a death sentence for him.
He's 61 years old, and he has a very long history of spinal injury.
ATWOOD (on camera): Now, there are questions today about why the Biden administration is publicly saying that they have put a substantial offer on
the table for the Russians when, typically, these negotiations are kept very closely-held, with very few details being described publicly. And
National Security Council's John Kirby said that, that decision wasn't made lightly. And it was made in the context of these ongoing efforts to bring
home both Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner.
And there's also questions about why Secretary of State Tony Blinken is affording a phone call with Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia. It could be
viewed as a win for the Russians. And he said he thinks it's -- there is utility in conveying clear messages to the Russians on top priorities for
the United States. Kylie Atwood, CNN, the State Department.
SOARES: Well, let's go live now to CNN White House reporter, Natasha Bertrand, and Jill Dougherty; CNN contributor on Russian affairs and
adjunct professor at Georgetown University in Washington.
Ladies, thank you very much for taking time to speak to us. Natasha, let me start with you. I mean, the Russians, as we know, as we laid out in that
report there, have wanted Bowt(ph) -- Bout home, pardon me, for some time now, but no word from the Russians yet. So, how frustrating is this
silence, do you think, for the Biden administration?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Extremely. They have been shocked, frankly, by the fact that the Russians have not jumped on this
offer. They felt as though this was an extremely good deal because of course, as you said, the Russians have wanted Viktor Bout back for quite
some time now. And there have been proposals floated and discussed over the last several years about potential prisoner swaps involving Bout.
Of course, the Russians have made it very clear to the United States that they want this guy back. And now that the United States actually proposed
swapping Bout for these two American prisoners, they have essentially gone silent. They have given them no substantive response.
And the administration is, frankly, confused by that, and frustrated, because they want the American people to know, according to the White House
that they are making every possible effort here to get these Americans home, including by offering to trade an international arms smuggler.
Someone who was sentenced to 25 years in an American prison for these two Americans. Obviously, a very asymmetrical proposal, given the lack of
severity of the crimes that Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan have been accused of. Which is taking in a very small amount of cannabis into Russia,
and spying, respectively.
So, clearly, this is not something that the administration is taking lightly here. They want the American people to understand that they took
this big step because, frankly, they felt as though there was no other option here.
SOARES: And Jill, I mean, you were Moscow bureau chief for us, I know, you interviewed Bout sometime ago. But why are they not jumping at the offer?
Do we know how much influence Bout still has with the Kremlin, Jill?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR ON RUSSIAN AFFAIRS: You know, this is a very good question, Isa, I don't think we do. But it's obvious that for
years, Russia has wanted to get Bout back. I mean, he is -- he was a big fish when he was, you know, running this operation fueling crisis all over
the world. But he is also, according to at least western Intelligence, then connected in some way to Russian Intelligence.
And so, I think you'd have to say that it appears that the Russians would want him back because of that. Maybe because he still has secrets, or maybe
not. Maybe just because they want to return, you know, one of their own to Russia. But I think what's confusing about this, and somewhat disturbing is
that the Biden administration obviously felt that they were probably close enough to a deal to actually talk about this in public.
Because otherwise, it could be embarrassing that they say, you know, we have this deal, that's in the offing, and then it doesn't happen. So, I
think you'd have to ask yourself, what's going on? It could be -- now, this is surmising. But it could be that the Biden administration wanted to kind
of force their hand or, you know, push them, the Russians, to come up and accept this deal.
Or it could be that there actually was a deal, and it fell apart. And then also, you look at the Russian side of it, they are in no particular rush to
do this --
SOARES: Yes --
DOUGHERTY: At this point. Because Bout has been in prison for quite a long time, and he has a long time, 25 years, you know, sentence is a long time
to go. So, it's not as if there is huge public pressure in Russia to get this deal done. But in the United States, it really is huge public
pressure. So, you know, that's what you're dealing with.
And then add to that, the level of the Ukraine conflict, the anger that Russia shows constantly for the United States, wanting to, you know, tell
the world what to do. And I think it's a bad combination.
And right now we don't know what will happen with these talks or this discussion.
SOARES: And Natasha, I mean, do you -- have we heard from the families of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. What have they been told?
BERTRAND: Well, they were just told about this right before the administration kind of came out and told the public that they had made this
offer to the Russians. So, this is not something they have been on the loop on, for example, over the last several weeks, or since the decision was
actually made to make this proposal.
But they say that they are optimistic. They believe they have been pushing, in fact, for some kind of prisoner swap. Because they believe that, that is
one of the only ways that they will ever get their loved ones home. Of course, the most recent prisoner swap that we saw that was successful and
actually had bipartisan support, was the case of Trevor Reed, who was a marine who was imprisoned in Russia.
And he was swapped for a Russian drug smuggler that was being held in the United States. So, that was an example to the families of the kind of
success that the United States can have, if it is willing to engage in these kinds of prisoner swaps with the Russians. Now, of course, the
Justice Department, as we reported, is very wary and very skeptical of these kinds of prisoner exchanges because of course, they say that they
undermine the rule of law.
But of course, when making these decisions, obviously, the administration has to balance kind of the legal and geopolitical consequences with the
very human imperative to bring these Americans back safely to their families.
SOARES: Yes, and Jill, really, a final point to you, look, what struck me was that normally, these deals are kind of done behind the scenes, right?
And this is all playing out very much in the spotlight with press conferences. How is it -- how is this being covered in Russia?
DOUGHERTY: Actually, it's not much of a story in Russia. There -- you know, Bout is not really somebody that the average Russian thinks about, or
maybe even remembers particularly. And Brittney Griner is interesting to Americans, but I don't think it's half as, you know, interesting to
Russians. I don't -- I don't think according to the people that I speak to, friends and colleagues in Russia, it is not being covered particularly
And as I look at the Russian media, I don't see a whole lot of reporting either. In fact, today, it's not one of the top questions, you know, in the
media. So, how it plays out, I think there is much more interest in the United States. And that's --
SOARES: Yes --
DOUGHERTY: Why we have this uncomfortable position for the Biden administration to be saying, hey, why aren't you answering? And Russia is
sitting there, not answering for the time being.
SOARES: Yes, somewhat awkward. Jill Dougherty and Natasha Bertrand, thank you very much. Thanks very much, ladies. Well, hoping to calm the
increasingly dangerous difference with the Presidents of the U.S. and China, both by final Thursday, the fifth call since Mr. Biden took office.
Officials say President Biden and Xi spoke for well over two hours as they tackled really thorny issues including Taiwan and the South China Sea.
U.S.-China rhetoric has heated up lately, particularly over U.S. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi's possible trip to Taiwan, and that brought possibly
the bluntest exchange. Chinese state media reporting that Mr. Xi told President Biden about Taiwan, if you play with fire, you get burned. CNN's
Kevin Liptak is in Washington for us.
And Kevin, I believe we haven't had the read-out from the U.S. side, but we do have the Chinese read-out. And some of the words, some of the language
strike -- quite striking but predictable at the same time. Talk us through what was said.
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, we did actually just get the read-out from Washington --
SOARES: Oh, fantastic --
LIPTAK: It's far less descriptive than the Chinese read-out, which was quite lengthy, and included that sentence that you read there. That Xi
conveyed to Biden on Taiwan specifically, that if you play with fire, you get burned. The White House isn't giving us much detail on that -- in their
own read-out, but it was clear that Taiwan was kind of at the center of these talks.
They said that Biden underscored that the United States policy has not changed, and that the United States strongly opposes unilateral efforts to
change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. So, kind of boilerplate language there from the United States. But
this issue is proving more and more contentious between Washington and Beijing, particularly as Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Speaker
contemplates this potential visit to the south-governing island.
Now, neither side mentioned Pelosi specifically in that readout, so it's not clear necessarily whether that plan, those plans came up directly. But
clearly, Taiwan is becoming more of an issue.
And when you talk to officials in Washington, there is growing concern about what China may be considering doing, whether something as big as a
full scale invasion or something smaller, they do believe that the timeframe for that may be narrowing. That you could see something happen in
the next year potentially, or 15 months, potentially.
And so what President Biden wanted to do in this call is ensure that Xi knew where he stood on all of this, and ensure that there's no
misunderstandings about where the United States stands. And that's something that U.S. officials have been saying repeatedly as this talk
about Pelosi going to Taiwan heats up.
They say that Beijing might be misunderstanding where things are. That because both Biden and Pelosi are Democrats, that Xi might think that Biden
has some say in this visit, when in actuality, he really doesn't. You know, Pelosi can go wherever she wants to go, the administration -- the Biden
administration certainly has a view on that, it's been working to walk Pelosi through the potential risks of doing that.
But in the end, Pelosi can do what she wants to do. There's a separation of power, so she isn't necessarily representing the Biden administration if
she does. And so, I think part of what Biden wanted to do was explain that dynamic to Xi, ensure that he understood what that might mean.
SOARES: And Kevin, very briefly. I mean, what are you hearing in terms of the corridors of power in United States, in Washington in particular, about
whether she should go? Would Pelosi go? Should she go? Should she not go, what are you hearing?
LIPTAK: Well, it is interesting because the politics are kind of reversed. The --
SOARES: Yes --
LIPTAK: Biden administration is warning about the risks. And President Biden himself even said that the military doesn't think it's a good time.
Meanwhile, Republicans are encouraging her to go ahead, kind of upping the pressure for her to do it. And you've heard former Trump administration
officials, Republican members of Congress, some of whom were invited to go with their, encouraging her to go through with this to really keep the
pressure on China and show this tough on China stance.
And so, it is interesting because the rules are somewhat reversed. She has not said anything publicly about this strip. She refuses to confirm that
it's under consideration. But you're already seeing the politics go forward. And if she does end up not going, I think it becomes a difficult
thing for her politically --
SOARES: Yes --
LIPTAK: And for the Biden administration politically, because it looks like they may have backed down. And so, that could have been something that
President Biden also raised on this call, that as China ratchets up its rhetoric about the trip, it actually makes it harder for Pelosi not to go -
SOARES: Exactly. Such a good point. Kevin Liptak there for us, thanks very much Kevin, good to see you.
SOARES: Well, let's get more now, I want to turn now to a long-time American political leader with deep experience in U.S.-China relations, Max
Baucus. He's a former U.S. Ambassador to China and a former six-term United States senator. He joins us via Skype from San Diego. Ambassador, thank you
very much for taking the time to speak to us.
I mean, this discussion, this call between Xi Jinping and the president was quite lengthy. There were plenty of thorny issues, he seems to discuss. But
it seems the one that's ruffled the feathers most, before this call was possibly, a visit by Nancy Pelosi. Do you think she should go to Taiwan?
MAX BAUCUS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: I think she should not go. There is really no reason for her to go. There is no public policy reason
for her to go. Taiwan already knows where the U.S. stands with respect to China and Taiwan. It's very clear. In fact, even though the Biden
administration talks about a one China policy, there have been a lot of actions which indicate whether it's in spirit or actually the Biden
administration really follows one China policy.
Though, that's the only reason she might want to go for personal reasons, but there's no policy reason. As Taiwan already knows where United States
stands with respect to Taiwan. Xi is not good.
SOARES: Yes, and what -- I don't know if you have heard what our correspondent was saying there, ambassador, Kevin Liptak saying that the
roles have kind of reversed. While the Biden administration is talking about the risk, the Republicans really saying, kind of encouraging her to
go. What do you think about that?
BAUCUS: Well, I smell politics. I think Republicans are urging Speaker Pelosi to go, are really trying to increase the tension frankly.
SOARES: Yes --
BAUCUS: Trying to make things difficult for -- I think that's what's happening.
SOARES: Look, what is clear. I have the read-out here in front of me from the call, and it seems that Xi Jinping really didn't move away from pretty
much what we would expect, talking about the principles on the Taiwan issues, saying, "we firmly oppose Taiwan's independence, separatism and
interference by external forces, and will never leave any space for Taiwan independence."
It went on to say, public opinion should not be violated, and if you play with fire, you get burned. I hope the U.S. side can see this clearly. I
mean, this is an important time, isn't it, ambassador, for Xi Jinping? Who, of course --
BAUCUS: Well --
SOARES: Is seeking a third term and who wants to show political strength here.
BAUCUS: Well, that's true. During my time as U.S. ambassador at China, many times, it was driven into me just how existential this issue is to
China. It's one of the three core issues. Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet, over and over again. It's existential to the United States.
And it's important for us to remember that, we, Americans extensively, do not support independence of Taiwan, neither we support one China policy,
which really means we'll support Taiwan with arms and help Taiwan defend itself. We also support a one China policy, which is a peaceful unification
between Taiwan and China.
Unfortunately, current President Tsai Ing-wen, he's talked a lot about independents, and she even -- she will not endorse publicly a one China
policy. When she started to not endorse a one China policy, that made things difficult. I think the United States should stick with strategic
ambiguity, it's worked in the past, and we should not upset the apple cart by changing that policy of strategic ambiguity, and Nancy Pelosi going, and
frankly, signals that maybe we don't -- one China is something we believe in extensively, but not actually.
SOARES: Yes, I mean, look, I suppose it's a good sign, ambassador, that they spoke for two hours. But it just come like you said a time of very
much strained relations. What's your assessment, ambassador, of this relationship so far? Has it deteriorated in your view?
BAUCUS: Well, has deteriorated very significantly. And much for the potential Speaker Pelosi visit, I was somewhat encouraged. There have been
a lot of bilateral discussions, Presidency Xi and President Biden. They've spoken several times in the past. Wang Yi has spoken with Tony Blinken,
Jake Sullivan has spoken with Yang Jiechi, James -- John Kerry with Chunying Hua. There have been a lot of conversations back and forth.
And it's going to sound like maybe the Biden administration, as well as China want to continue those conversations. Both sides do not want war.
Both sides want a stable relationship. And the more we're talking to each other, the more it's likely we're going to have that.
SOARES: And ambassador, very quickly. Is there a middle ground? If U.S. -- you were saying how U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shouldn't go, is there
a middle ground that possibly will appeal to both sides, maybe Pelosi sending someone on her behalf so that neither side feel like they've lost
BAUCUS: Well, you're asking the right question. We need to find a middle ground. We need to find some way to -- for both sides to save face. Now,
there are a lot of right people who can figure out how to do that, maybe if somebody else goes, or maybe she goes next year when she's no longer
BAUCUS: There are ways to handle this.
SOARES: Ambassador Max Baucus, always great to have you on the show, thank you, sir.
BAUCUS: Thank you.
SOARES: Still to come right here tonight, the U.S. President is to speak again as the economy contracts for a second quarter in a row. Many voters
are now afraid that a recession is right around the corner. We have the details. And a global food shortage, a U.N. broker deal, and ports in
preparation. Ahead, how Ukraine is one step closer to resuming vital grain exports. That's next.
SOARES: Now, we are expecting U.S. President Joe Biden to speak again soon. He spoke a short time ago about an economic as well as climate
package, and now waiting for a speech focusing on the state of the U.S. economy. Of course, as soon as that gets in the way, we shall bring it to
But on the economy front, new data shows the economy is slowing for a second quarter in a row with the U.S. GDP falling at 0.9 percent from April
through June. CNN business correspondent Rahel Solomon standing by and joins me now. Now, Rahel, explain something to me because on my days of
working in business news, two consecutive quarters of the time, it was called a recession. But now, there's talk that this is not a recession,
because of course, the labor market. Just talk us through. Is it or is it not?
RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a great point, and it's a question a lot of people are debating right now. It's a rule of thumb,
right? That two negative quarters makes a recession. It's not officially called a recession until a group of economists in Boston, Massachusetts,
dubbed it that.
But let's talk about today's GDP report, and we can kind of get into the nitty-gritty about what this really means about the U.S. economy. Consumer
spending, Isa, still positive on an annual basis. Slowing however, U.S. consumer still spending on things like goods, physical things. More on --
less on goods, more on services like air fares, shopping, in terms of restaurants, hotels, that sort of thing.
So we're still seeing acceleration in that. Business spending is slowing. Certainly, when it comes to inventory, certainly when it comes to home
building. And Isa, we talked before about some of these major retailers, and some of these major companies having an inventory imbalance, right?
They had too much of things that we are no longer buying.
And so, part of this is that, part of this is trying to clear their inventory so they're not stocking up as much. In terms of the labor market,
well, we're still at 3.6 percent unemployment. I mean, that is practically a 50-year --
SOARES: Right --
SOLOMON: Low. I actually just got off the phone with an economist at Harvard University. He actually used to be at the National Bureau of
Economic Research, Isa, that's the group. They have a committee --
SOARES: Yes --
SOLOMON: The business cycle dating committee, that's the group that calls a recession. I asked him, are we likely to see the NBER call this a
recession? He said it's very unlikely because even though you get these two negative print, they're assured of indicators underneath that, that are
still positive, and that cycle looks at that very closely.
So, it's a great question. It's something we're going to be debating very closely. But this is such a strange time. JPMorgan sent out a note this
morning, Isa, saying, "an odd time, only getting even odder".
SOARES: And I know you'll track it all for us. I mean, I've seen some economists say it's a recession, some saying it's not a recession. Now,
they're saying, it's a mild recession. I know you'll keep an eye on it all for us, Rahel, appreciate it, thank you very much. And still to come
tonight, Russia flies missiles at Kyiv, as Ukraine fights to take back its southern cities. We'll bring you the very latest on all the war fronts.
And a landmark deal aimed at easing the global food crisis. We'll go live to Odessa as Ukrainian ports prepare to resume grain export. You're
SOARES: Welcome back.
Ukraine is doubling down on its efforts to take back its southern cities from Russia, putting Russian troops on the defensive. There are signs that
Moscow is reinforcing its troops in Kherson, to hold it as part of a land bridge to Crimea.
According to Russian states news, the Russian government has opened delegations in Kherson and Zaporizhzhya.
Meanwhile Russia is firing missiles on the Kyiv region and northeastern Ukraine. At least 50 people were injured by more than 20 strikes in Kyiv on
Thursday morning. We are joined now live from Kyiv by Jason Carroll.
Jason, what we have been seeing the last few days or so is Ukrainians making incremental gains in Kherson and hampering the Russian ability to
What's the situation where you were earlier?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When you think about all those images that you've seen, the burned out houses, buildings and all of those
people who are displaced, I think of a place like Irpin, where we were earlier today.
Many of those people simply have no place to go. They are now wondering where their next home will be.
NADIA KUBRAK, FORMER IRPIN RESIDENT: We lived here, yes, in this apartment. This is our neighbors' flat.
CARROLL (voice-over): Nadia Kubrak says there are times that it's hard to recognize that this is the place where she and her husband and their son
called home for 10 years.
KUBRAK: This is the place where our son slept, usually, so we were very lucky not to be at home when it happened.
CARROLL (voice-over): It is when the Russians fired missiles on the town of Irpin, during the early days of the war, destroying pockets of the city,
located 45 minutes northwest of Kyiv.
The Russians occupied Irpin for about a month until the Ukrainians forced them out, stopped the Russians' march toward the Ukrainian capital. The
town became a symbol of strength and resistance. World leaders stood outside her apartment complex and praised the heroic actions of the
But now the attention is gone. What is left are those wondering if they can ever go home. Again
CARROLL: Do you have any help at all, any assistance?
KUBRAK: Not really. But you know, the government is busy currently with the war, so they don't have time for people like us. So I think they told
us, try not to die. And after the war is over, we will rebuild everything.
But still --
CARROLL: Do you believe that?
KUBRAK: No. I think we have to do it by ourselves.
CARROLL (voice-over): According to the Ukrainian government, the war has displaced millions of Ukrainians, all with uncertain futures. People such
as Irena Ovchurenko (ph), now forced to live with friends. She used to live in the same complex as Kubrak.
CARROLL: Do you still want to go home?
CARROLL (voice-over): "Of course, of course, we want to come back home. We've lived here for seven years. We really like it here," she says.
As for Kubrak, the family now lives in the country, further away from the missile strikes. She still has home videos and pictures to remind her of
what it used to feel like to be at home.
As for their future...
KUBRAK: I don't want to live here anymore.
CARROLL: You don't?
CARROLL: Too many -- too sad or just...?
KUBRAK: Yes, it's too difficult because we have built our apartment by ourselves, by our own hands and we have put into it a lot of our love and
our efforts. And now it's all gone. And I don't want to do it anymore.
CARROLL: And the thing to think about, as the war continues to wage on, there ends up being more and more displaced people, what about those
displaced people, Isa, who don't have family to rely on, who don't have friends to rely on?
Those are the people that are really going to have some really hard choices going forward. Isa.
SOARES: Jason Carroll, with that report, thank you very much, appreciate it.
How much will it cost to rebuild Ukraine?
At a conference in Switzerland, Ukraine's prime minister put the number at $750 billion, much of which would come from assets confiscated from Russian
The money would go to a three state recovery process. First, emergency projects like restoring water supplies. Second, medium term projects like
housing, hospitals, as well as schools. And the third, a longer term transformation of the country.
Well, as the fighting rages across Ukraine, one issue that's being felt globally as we've been telling on the show is the shortage of grain. Kyiv
hopes to resume exports this week and Ukraine neighbor says preparations on the way. This of course, after a deal was signed on Friday. CNN's Nic
Robertson joins us live from Odessa.
What are you hearing as to how soon these grain shipments will begin the preparations that may be underway?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I think everyone would really like to have an accurate answer on that. We've been talking to
people who were involved directly, indirectly, in the ports about trying to organize these convoys of ships going out.
Is it one big convoy?
Is it a group of five?
Is it three ships?
Do three leave and then another three come in?
There are so many questions. And at the moment this is where we are tonight, it's just impossible to say how it's going to go. It's possible
that that aspiration to have a convoy going by the end of this week, that may even be a stretch to far.
One of the big issues of course, making this work, is that there are many vessels in port here with grain aboard them. And that grain has been on
board since before the war. It is grain from last harvest, last year.
That's going to go out. The real deal is getting more ships to come in, if they can be insured; if international companies will send them in. That's
the concern now for farmers, who have grain filling up their silos and their stores, who are not sure that this new U.N. deal is going to work and
if they can get their grain out.
We went to a farm, one of many across Ukraine, and this is what we found.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Grain, fresh from harvest, floods into the farm's storage. What happens to it next, the question on everyone's minds: 250
people work here. Their jobs depend on the success of the new U.N. brokered grain deal.
"We have a lot of grain here, we want to ship everything quickly," this grain trucker tells me, "but we are stuck, because the ports are closed.
ROBERTSON: Any other year this is exactly what the farmer would want, grain coming in, more profits for him and his workers. This year, all of
that is lost money.
Wheat store number five.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): This farmer owns the farm. He shows me his rapidly filling grain stores --
SOARES: We're going to interrupt that report and take you now to President Biden, who's speaking about the economy and the White House. Let's listen
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- advanced batteries and electric vehicle charters and medical devices. That's on top of the $200
billion in clean energy investments in America from other businesses since we took office, all powering the strongest rebound in American
manufacturing in three decades.
Now there's no doubt we expect growth to be slower than last year, for the rapid clip we had.
BIDEN: But that's consistent with the transition to a stable, steady growth and lower inflation. There's going to be a lot of chatter today on
Wall Street and among pundits about whether we are in a recession.
When you look at our job market, consumer spending, business investment, we see signs of economic progress in the second quarter as well.
Yesterday's, the Fed chairman, Powell, made it clear that he doesn't think the U.S. economy is currently in a recession.
He said, quote, "There are too many areas of economic (INAUDIBLE) where the economy is performing too well." And he said "too well," T-O-O, too well.
He pointed to the labor market as an example.
The best thing we can do right now is put our economy in a better position to make the transition to a stable, steady growth for Congress to act, it's
the best thing we can do. They're voting right now, as I said.
I applaud the bipartisan effort to get the CHIPS Act to my desk, to sign into law, which would advance our nation's competitiveness and
technological edge by boosting our domestic semiconductor production and manufacturing.
Another Congress should do it -- another thing the Congress should do is to pass the Inflation Reduction Act to lower prescription drug costs, which
would reduce the deficit, I might add, and help these inflationary pressures and ensure that 13 million Americans could continue to save an
average of $800 a year in their health care premiums.
Both of these bills will help the economy continue to grow, bring down inflation and make sure we aren't giving up on all the significant progress
we've made in the last year. I'm going to stop there and begin the meeting. But thanks to the CEOs for joining me.
And let me start with you, Brian.
And thanks for taking all my phone calls, pal. The Bank of America, I want to ask you a question.
Your bank serves many Americans across the country.
What do you see right now in terms of financial health of your consumers?
What's the bank records telling you about the financial health?
BRIAN MOYNIHAN, BANK OF AMERICA: Thank you, Mr. president, it's good to see you recovering.
MOYNIHAN: At the Bank of America, we have 60 million consumers and 35 million core checking and health accounts for Americans. And so a couple
key points. Number one they're spending more money. Through the first 25 days of July, 2022, they spent 10 percent more than they spent in July of
2021, the first 25 days.
That's consistent with what we saw in the whole second quarter earlier this year.
The second key point, Mr. President, is the balances are much higher than they were during the pandemic. If you look at people of $100,000 income
families, you see their balances go from three to five to seven times more they were in the pandemic.
And by the way, they have grown in the month of July versus June so far, which is good news. So they have some money in their accounts, still, to
help them through as this economy resets and settles in.
The third thing is on borrowing. Our credit statistics are better than they've ever been. Much better than 2019, which was a pretty good credit
year for banks. So delinquencies are low; haven't gone up for the month of July. There's lots of credit available for customers.
Obviously the parts of the economy due to what the Fed is trying to achieve, slowing down the economy, getting it on a more sound footing,
mortgages and car loans have slowed down. But that's an intended outcome. So we can also see that the receding paychecks -- we can see that recurring
payments, that's good. So consumers are spending --
SOARES: We've been listening to U.S. President Joe Biden. He was hosting a meeting with other banks from the United States, talking about the state of
the economy and playing down, of course, recession fears.
This comes on the heels of the second report, the GDP report of the United States, that really showed that the economy contracted, 0.9 percent from
April to June -- as we know, two consecutive contractions, normally means it's a recession.
But what we've heard from President Biden, what we've heard yesterday from Jerome Powell seems to signify, it's not exactly a recession, because, of
course, the job market is still pretty hot. This is something the president is emphasizing. The job market is strong.
Jerome Powell yesterday, suggested we are making economic progress. Powell said don't think the economy is in a recession; in fact, the economy is
doing too well, that's what he said.
The president then went on to talk about the importance of pushing through the bill, the Inflation Reduction Act bill, that he says would help grow
the economy as well as reduce costs and, critically, tackle climate.
SOARES: Of course we'll stay on top of any of the news lines that come out of this leaders' meeting with President Biden. We will be back after a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES (voice-over): An astonishing sight you can see there, in Baghdad, hundreds of protesters breaking into Iraq's highly secured green zone, even
breaching the empty parliament building. Followers of the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were furious at the nomination of one of his rivals
to be the next prime minister.
Al-Sadr later asked them to disperse. Iraq has been without a government since last October's elections. Al-Sadr's bloc resigning en masse from
parliament last month, after trying and failing to form a government without Iran-backed groups.
And for millennia, Sudan has produced some of the world's most sought after gold. But one country under sanctions by the West and other Western nations
might have a troubling grip on the critical natural resource. CNN's Nima Elbagir and her team investigate Russia's involvement in Sudan's gold
production and how it could be helping support the war in Ukraine. Have a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deep in Sudan's gold country, miners toil in the searing heat, barely surviving in
what should be one of Africa's richest countries, providing gold for a war a continent away.
We investigate a force more powerful than Sudan's government controlling its gold, subverting Sudan's destiny, threatening me and our sources and
thwarting democracy to evade sanctions in Russia's war on Ukraine.
ELBAGIR: Russian manager is on his way, they're saying.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): We uncover the extent of Russia's grip on Sudan.
SOARES (voice-over): Nima Elbagir's full report starting Friday, 3 pm here in London. That will be 6 pm Abu Dhabi time. Check the times for watching
locally, only here on CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And still to come tonight, a potentially game changing deal between two Democrats and the climate and energy bill.
SOARES: Which President Biden calls the most important investment in our energy security. That is next.
SOARES: After more than a year of negotiations, Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer have finally announced a deal on an energy as well as climate bill.
The bill is the biggest climate investment in U.S. history, aiming to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030.
President Joe Biden says the bill was far from perfect but called it a historic investment. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Let me be clear, this bill would be the most significant legislation in history to tackle the climate crisis and improve our energy
security right away. It will give us a tool to meet the climate goals that we've set, that we've agreed to, by cutting emissions and accelerating
clean energy, a huge step forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: For more on this, let's bring in Melanie Zanona.
Melanie, explain to our viewers why this bill is so important.
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, you're absolutely right. It is a big deal and a big breakthrough. After nearly a year of whiplash
negotiations, Democrats initially had to really scale back their ambitions. The talks broke down at multiple points. And senator Joe Manchin appeared
to have taken some key climate and tax provisions off the table.
So it was a pretty big shock when this deal was announced. But you have to understand that Democrats were under pressure from climate activists to get
something done. They were also under pressure to have a victory before the midterm election.
So what they agreed to was a pretty substantial deal, here. This includes nearly 370 billion for energy and climate provisions. That includes tax
credits for electric vehicles, as well as for clean energy manufacturing.
Supporters of the bill say this is the biggest climate investment in U.S. history and it will reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030. That is
a very big deal.
Now the bill also would impose a corporate minimum tax of 15 percent, it would also lower prescription prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug
prices. It would also expand ObamaCare subsidies, which were due to expire in the fall.
If they didn't act, we would've seen a huge spike in premiums. Now Democrats are hoping to pass this bill, accusing a party line process.
ZANONA: Every single Senate Democrat and nearly every House Democrat, needs to be on board with this legislation in order for that to pass. That
is no easy feat. We still don't know where senator Kyrsten Sinema stands. She's so far been silent.
Senate Democrats did meet this morning to try to rally around this bill and fashion a path forward. We're hearing that Senate Democratic leaders are
hoping to put it on the floor next week and the House would pass it in August.
So there is still a road ahead but it's looking more and more likely that this could become law.
SOARES: And, Melanie, we're running out of time, very briefly, how much is this a boost for Biden's legislative agenda?
ZANONA: It's a big boost for Biden, no doubt. You have to understand, it's not everything Democrats wanted. It's not everything Biden wanted but it's
a big win right before the midterms for his party, when it's facing some pretty big political headwinds.
SOARES: Melanie will stay on top of this story. Like you say, it's not the end but it's looking promising. On Capitol Hill, thank you very much,
Melanie, appreciate it.
That does it for tonight. Do stay right here, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next, bye-bye.