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New Day

GOP's Perdue Opens Debate With Rigged & Stolen Election Lie; DeSantis Smokescreen Rigging Congressional Maps; U.S. Says It Wants Russia "Weakened" By War In Ukraine; Oil Depot On Fire In Russia's Bryansk Region; Navy Opens Probe After 4 Suicides On USS George Washington. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 25, 2022 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A huge redistricting move that could affect the balance of power in the entire country, a reality check next.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, campaigns across the country running on election fraud conspiracies and the January 6 insurrection, could 2020's lies lead to wins in 2022.


KEILAR: Two backers of Donald Trump's big lie taking a big step forward at Michigan's Republican convention and across the country. It appears Trump's lies are fueling GOP candidates running for office like in Georgia. Here's how former Senator David Perdue opened his Republican primary debate in his bid for Governor.



DAVID PERDUE (R), GEORGIA GOV. CANDIDATE: Folks let me be very clear tonight, the election in 2020 was rigged and stolen.


KEILAR: Let's go live now to CNN's Sara Murray. She is in Detroit with more and following this trend, Sarah.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, Republican delegates gathered in Michigan over the weekend to figure out who they are going to rally behind ahead of this official nominating convention later this summer. And the big winners were the ones who were spreading the most misinformation about 2020.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The presidential election was rigged and stolen and --

MURRAY: The big lie is still the big motivator for many Republican voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were insurrectionists, were traitors, big lie proponents for asking question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2022 Michigan State Convention will come to order.

MURRAY: In Michigan, Republicans this weekend overwhelmingly endorsed Kristina Karamo, who spread conspiracies about the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection to be their nominee for Secretary of State, the state's top election official.


MURRAY: Walloping other candidates with election experience. Karamo is on track to take on the Democratic incumbent this fall.

KARAMO: Guess what? Jocelyn Benson, I am your worst nightmare.

MURRAY: In the run up to the midterms, national Republicans say they're focused on the economy, inflation and crime. But in Republican primaries, the magic words are Donald Trump and the litmus test is denying the results of the 2020 presidential election without any evidence of widespread fraud.

TRUMP: Kristina Karamo, she's a fearless champion for election integrity.

MURRAY: In Colorado, State Representative Ron Hanks an election denier running for U.S. Senate with an ad featuring footage from the January 6 insurrection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Restore grassroots political parties.

MURRAY: Was awarded the top slot on the Republican primary ballot from conservatives at the GOP assembly. Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, who faces criminal charges for her alleged role in an election security breach and is running for Colorado's Secretary of State.

TINA PETERS, MESA COUNTY CLERK: It's a pleasure to be here to sound the alarm. I'm Tina Peters --

MURRAY: Also one Republicans backing for top billing on the GOP ballot. In Arizona home of the infamous cyber ninjas review, GOP Senate hopeful and sitting Attorney General Mark Brnovich is getting hammered on the airwaves by other Republicans for his role in certifying the state's 2020 election results.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mark Brnovich says President Trump is wrong on voter fraud, really?

MURRAY: In Georgia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brian Kemp sold us out and allowed radicals to steal the election. MURRAY: David Perdue is going after Governor Brian Kemp for certifying the election in 2020. As the to face off in the GOP gubernatorial primary. Putting up election deniers in November could prove risky for the GOP.


MURRAY: Republican Strategist Jason Cabel Roe says even with the challenging environment for Democrats, Republicans still need to strike a broader appeal.

CABEL ROE: We're litigating the 2020 election as popular with Republican voters. It's not popular with non-Republican voters, the idea that we can win without independents and some, you know, conservative swing Democrats coming our way is ignoring the reality of Michigan politics.

MURRAY: Over at the GOP endorsement conventions appearances from election deniers like Mike Lindell and Rudy Giuliani as Republicans convene for more than 10 hours. After two rounds of voting, two hand recounts, and a ballot snafu that pause voting for an hour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do not resume voting, all voting is pause.

MURRAY: And let Republicans grumbling over election integrity, the Trump-back candidates cleaned up.

MATT DEPERNO, (R) MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE: Support the American (inaudible) support the President Donald Trump.

MURRAY: With Matt DePerno securing the party's support for attorney general, after months of trying to revive an unsuccessful election lawsuit and spreading lies about 2020.

DEPERNO: We proved how corruptible our system is and we prove how fraud occurred in this state.


MURRAY: Now, it's particularly striking when you look at someone like Tina Peters in Colorado who says the charges against her are political but still is facing criminal charges for allegedly election tampering. And someone like Kristina Karamo here in Michigan who has denied the results of 2020, and yet Republicans have such deep seated fears about the last presidential election. These are the folks that they want to tap to be their next top election officials.

Of course, we asked Kristina Karamo and Matt DePerno here in Michigan, how they were going to try to rally voters beyond just Republicans behind them, it gave us the brush off. Back to you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Look, fascinating reporting, so important. Sara Murray, thank you so much.

BERMAN: So a huge move in redistricting by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It could have a major impact on the balance of power across the entire country. John Avalon will the Reality Check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: So Florida has been dominating the headlines these past few weeks with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis push punishing Disney for disagreeing with him politically.


In the Sunshine State rejecting 54 math textbooks because some allegedly include references to critical race theory or social emotional learning. All while DeSantis also signed a law to limit discussion about race and gender in schools and workplaces.

DeSantis has been flooding the zone with culture war controversies, building up his right wing bona fides in advance of a possible presidential run. But the state Senate Minority Leader accused the governor of using his feud with Disney as a smokescreen for his real purpose during the state legislature special session that wouldn't be pushing through his own rigged system of redistricting, adding four new probable Republican congressional seats while dismantling the district currently held by African American Democrat Al Lawson in Northern Virginia -- Northern Florida.

It also shifts the district being vacated by Val Demings eastward towards wider communities. No wonder the analysts over at 538 called the result "darn close to the most egregiously partisan map in the country." I get this, it would likely give Republicans a 20 to eight congressional seat advantage to state that Trump won with just 51.2% of the vote. State where both active registered Republicans and Democrats make up roughly 35% of registered voters.

Now, the new congressional map is now as expected the subject of a lawsuit. One court claim is that they violate the 2010 Florida constitutional amendment called fair districts, which was designed to reduce partisan gerrymandering. Yeah, if you're looking for consistency from constitutional conservatives, you've come to the wrong decade.

Now, some suggests that DeSantis map was intended to challenge the Voting Rights Act was the last federal law that constrains the redistricting process. These are predictable problems. So much of that state House Republicans initially warned against these hyper partisan maps, but DeSantis just wants the win for this cycle. He's betting that nothing will be settled until after four new likely GOP representatives are seated and everything else is details, including the state constitution.

It's eerily similar to what's been playing out in Ohio right now where the primary on May 3 will include seats on a congressional map that looks a lot like one that was declared unconstitutional by the state supreme court earlier this year, which declined to review this map until after the primary.

Just like in Florida, Ohio, voters overwhelmingly passed a state constitutional amendment to have fair nonpartisan redistricting. But the Buckeye GOP seems determined to resist the law and run out the clock so they can solidify their hold on power. The voters, the courts, the state constitution be damned.

Now, I can already hear some of my Republican friends saying, what about New York? What about Maryland, pointing to states where democratic majorities have tried to push through lopsided maps? To which I'd say exactly because courts in New York and Maryland struck down those partisan maps designed to benefit Democrats.

In Maryland, a judge slammed the extreme gerrymander that subordinates constitutional criteria to political considerations ordered the state legislature to drop new maps before primary, preserving a safe Republican district and making one Democratic district more competitive. That's done, signed into law.

In New York, two rounds of judges have largely agreed that the Democrats congressional maps violated the state's ban on partisan gerrymandering, that case will probably end up for a higher court. But the principle is simple. What's right is right. And courts need to be consistent in applying the law beyond partisan consideration. Anything else is just situational ethics. And that's why it's vital that judges in Florida and Ohio do the same. They can and should block power grab maps that are being pushed by people who believe they can ignore the voters, the courts and the state constitutions by running out the clock, because this just, isn't just a threat to democracy, but its promise of fair districts and competitive elections with Representative results. It's also a threat to the rule of law. And that's your Reality Check.

BERMAN: John Avlon, thank you very much.

We do a breaking news, airstrikes a five railway stations in central and western Ukraine, an official there says the attacks are holding up more than a dozen passenger trains that have been helping Ukrainians evacuate.

KEILAR: Plus, the former President of Ukraine calling on the west to de-Putinize Russia. He's going to join New Day, next.

BERMAN: And a woman from Bucha recounts the horrors she experienced at the hands of Russian forces, including the shooting death of her mother. This is CNN's Special Live Coverage.



KEILAR: More now on our breaking news, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying the U.S. wants to weaken Russia going forward in what appears to be a huge strategic shift. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is joining us now to discuss this.

Sir, you heard him say that. You've seen what he said, what is your reaction to Secretary Austin saying he wants for Russia to be weakened, so they can't do what they've done to Ukraine.

PETRO POROSHENKO, FORMER UKRAINE PRESIDENT: That's what (ph) we applaud, the global leadership of U.S. in Ukraine support. Definitely Washington understand that it better than anybody that this war is bigger than Ukraine. This war is about all of us, about the free world. And the visit of Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin is greatly symbolic move because world is divided before and after 24th of February. And this visit is the first visit of high ranking U.S. official after the full-fledged war in the capital of Ukraine.

It's extremely important to send a very powerful message worldwide, that Ukraine is not only fight, we know exactly what does it mean, but Ukraine could win. And I think first of all the volume of the United States support to Ukraine. This is a great example for the other world exactly from the beginning of Russian invasion and during the visit, it was declared about 713 million additional, still definitely it is not enough.


We need more. And we need more destructive sanction against Russia. And now we need oil embargo, gas embargo, maybe sea blockade, and something similar with oil for food, for Iraqi (ph) program. And I think that with a situation we definitely need importance of the symbolic steps. And I also think that we need de-Putinize Russia, we now doing the dominant rise Russia, and we now is a very powerful NATO flank who is destroying Russian, a barbarian state.

And I think another symbolic importance is the President Biden. And we'll welcome that the nomination of the new U.S. ambassador, we waiting for that for many, many months and waking the (inaudible) the new candidate for the ambassador and we definitely waiting here in Kyiv.

BERMAN: They'll be the first time the U.S. sent a full time ambassador in Ukraine since 2019. Mr. President, what would it mean to weaken Russia going forward or to de-Putinize Russia going forward? How do you do that, not just here in Ukraine, but again, in the international sphere?

POROSHENKO: We need five steps plan. Point number one more weapons to Ukraine to make them weakened already, 22,000 Russian soldiers are stay here in Ukraine forever. More than 800 tanks, more than 2200 Russian armed personnel carrier, seven big Russian ships, and this is the demilitarization of Russia.

But for the de-Putinization of Russia, we need -- we slack in front, everything from sanction to embargo. And I think that the United States demonstrate an absolutely great steps just to launch this process, but extremely important to keep the world together. And Putin will not stop on Ukraine. Everybody shouldn't understand that. Putin has already declared that he put an ultimatum for Bulgaria, for Romania, for Moldova, for Baltic States, for Poland, for Czech Republic, for Slovak Republic and who knows maybe tomorrow he will mention the Alaska in his crazy mad images of the future development. And we need to make Russia weak and to make Russia weak, it is to de- Putinize Russia. The people of Russia should understand that this is the dead end for the whole state. And we need not only weaken but destroy the Putin's Russia.

BERMAN: Mr. President, Petro Poroshenko, thank you very much for that.

KEILAR: So just in, we're learning that a fire has broken out in an oil depot inside of Russia. Unclear what sparked the flames here. This is CNN Special Live Coverage.



KEILAR: This morning, the U.S. Navy is launching an investigation after seven sailors died in the last year on board the USS George Washington, the aircraft carrier you see here, four of them officially by suicide. This investigation is going to be taking a look at the command climate and culture on this aircraft carrier. And CNN's Barbara Starr is with us now on this story. Do we have any idea, Barbara, what's going on here?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We do not, Brianna, suicide has been there's just no other way to put it a plague on the U.S. military for so many years now. And the Pentagon constantly struggling with its programs, its prevention efforts trying to figure out what is going on.

Now, another effort underway. Now, the George Washington actually is important for long-term maintenance. So some of these deaths occurred off the ship. It is very difficult. This is very stressful situation for sailors when they're -- when their ship is in the yard for months on end and maintenance, they do not have the basic standard quality of life in the U.S. Navy.

Now, there's no indication of any correlation. But the investigation will look at all of the cases and try and determine if there is something in the culture, in the climate, in the living conditions. What may have happened here for this to have happened, but the suicide issue really is across the board throughout the ranks in the U.S. military.

Congress has ordered the Pentagon to stand up an independent review panel across all the services to take a look at this issue. And Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, when he announced a few weeks ago, the beginning of this panel. I just want to read you what he had to say about it. It's an issue that he is deeply involved in and he said it is imperative that we take care of all our teammates and continue to reinforce that mental health and suicide prevention remain a key priority. One death by suicide is one to many and suicide rates among our service members are still too high.

Now, this independent review will not report back to the Pentagon until early next year. But one of the things they will do is at the orders of Congress they will visit nine installations. Interesting to note three of them are in Alaska, which is also an area where military suicides have been on the rise. Brianna?

KEILAR: Barbara, we really appreciate that report. Barbara Starr live for us at the Pentagon.


And if you who are thinking about suicide or you worried about a friend or a loved one, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available around the clock. The hotline number is on your screen right there. A NEW DAY continues right now.