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New Day

Bill Sorukas is Interviewed about the Missing Inmate and Officer in Alabama; DHS Altered Intel on Russia Meddling; Ohio's Senate Brawl; Eugen Caras is Interviewed about Fars of Russian Invasion. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 04, 2022 - 08:30   ET



BILL SORUKAS, RETIRED CHIEF, INVESTIGATIVE OPERATIONS DIVISION, U.S. MARSHALS: The escape several years ago at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, Joyce Mitchell developed that same type of relationship, although the difference here is that she decided at the last minute not to go through with assisting with the escape.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, obviously, that's an area of intrigue and curiosity in this.

The other side of this is a very real manhunt that's taking place right now for a very dangerous fugitive. So, how is that being conducted right now?

SORUKAS: Well, the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force has been around for 16 years in its present form down there. This is no strange type of investigation for them. They're very used to this. And they have a network of fugitive task forces across the entire United States and in the territories available to them.

To give you an example, just recently, within the last two or three days, this same task force arrested another Alabama prison escapee who was serving 99 years for murder.

So, since about 2006, this task force has been in place. They have all the resources that they require. They have partnerships with the state and local and federal agencies. And they have everything that they need to further this investigation. This is not an ad hoc task force that was formed late Friday afternoon. This is something that these men and women do every day.

And from a national standpoint, the U.S. Marshals Service Task Force has arrested 85,000 dangerous, violent fugitives the last year, including 6,000 that were wanted for homicide. So, this is, in a sense, a typical, routine case. It's receiving much more media attention because of the type of events that took place between a correctional officer and an inmate. But I really don't think this is that unusual in nature.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think he's going to be that hard to find, Bill? I mean he is 6'9". That's someone who's, obviously, going to stick out wherever he might be seen. SORUKAS: Yes, I think one of the things that the investigators are

considering are the -- is the planning and the resources that went into this. It appears to me that a significant amount of planning went into the escape. She sold her house recently. I believe within the last two weeks. And she sold it at auction for just under $100,000 when it was worth much more. She was trying to generate some cash revenue and financial assets to support the escape.

They also have acquired maybe more than the service revolver that Vicky White was issued. It appears now that they may have acquired a shotgun and a rifle. That was probably done in the last couple of weeks as well.

I believe that this planning has gone on for months on Vicky's part. On Casey's part, I believe this was probably a thought that he has had for a couple of years. He -- he established -- he --

KEILAR: And -- and I think -- and -- yes, and -- and, Bill, that is -- and that is going to make them -- and that's going to make them -- and -- Bill, I'm not sure if you can hear me, Bill. I think that -- I think we're having a problem here with our connection here, but that's going to make them incredibly dangerous, certainly, Bill.

We're going to continue to follow this story.

Bill Sorukas, thank you so much.

We do have some new CNN reporting that the Department of Homeland Security, under former President Donald Trump, delayed and altered an intelligence report related to Russian interference in the 2020 election, making changes that appear to be based in part on political considerations. This is according to a newly released watchdog report.

And CNN's Whitney Wild is here tracking this story.

What's happened here?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is addressing some suspicions that came up when CNN reported back in September 2020 about some concerns about the way the DHS intelligence and analysis office was operating.

So, this inspector general's assessment provides a very -- really a damning look at the way the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis dealt with intelligence related to Russia's efforts to interfere with the U.S. election. Remember, the U.S. intelligence community announced during the 2020 campaign that Russia was actively meddling in the election to weaken then candidate Joe Biden. At the time, Trump downplayed those findings and promoted false claims about Biden that aligned with Russia's disinformation efforts.

The watchdog found that DHS' office deviated from standard procedures. For example, the IG says then acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf participated in review process multiple times despite lacking any formal role in reviewing that product. That caused delays. The IG also followed up on a July 2020 meeting mentioned by a whistle-

blower who claimed that Wolf had asked for an intelligence report to be held because it made the president look bad.


According to the notes of the meeting obtained by the IG, one top official wrote, AS1, acting secretary, will hurt POTUS, kill it per his authorities. The official told the IG the notes meant the acting secretary had told him to hold that intelligence product because it would hurt former President Trump.

Wolf denied saying this and added that he asked for this product to be improved because the way it was written wasn't valuable to the stakeholders here, and those are the state and local agencies that accept and review this -- these intelligence products produced by DHS.

The bottom line here, Brianna, is that the IG believes that the delays and disruptions simply put the office at risk of the perception that their work was being politicized.

KEILAR: Yes. They didn't make it too hard on this investigation with those notes on this, I will say, written out there.

Whitney Wild, thank you so much.

WILD: You bet.

KEILAR: Another missile launch by North Korea. The 13th this year.

BERMAN: Plus, what does the big win Ohio by -- in Ohio by Trump-backed candidate J.D. Vance tell us about the state of play heading into the midterms? A "Reality Check, "next.



BERMAN: CNN project that venture capitalist and "Hillbilly Elegy" author J.D. Vance pulled off a come from behind victory in Ohio's Republican Senate primary weeks after former President Trump endorsed him. So, what does this race tell us?

John Avlon with a "Reality Check."

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Ladies and gentlemen, the Senate candidates are now set for the 2022 buckeye state brawl. In the right corner, it's author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance coming off a big win over a crowd field because of Donald Trump's endorsement. In the left, the nominee, Congressman Tim Ryan, who's betting that he can bring back working class populism to the Democratic Party.

Now, this is going to be one of the marquis races of 2022, with two impressive candidates and control of the Senate hanging in the balance. It also says a lot about where the two parties are, and how they see their future. In the GOP, there still isn't any substitute for a Trump endorsement

in a primary. Most of the top five candidates were trying to out MAGA each other, spending upwards of $66 million on advertising to split just a million votes between them. Now, Vance was trailing three-time right-wing candidate Josh Mandel with just 11 percent of the vote until Trump weighed in at the 11th hour. Now, the ex-president couldn't always remember the name of his candidate.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We've endorsed Dr. Oz. We've endorsed J.P., right, J.D. Mandel, and he's doing great.


AVLON: Yes, nonetheless, there's no question Trump's endorsement made all the difference in this play to the base race.

Now, it was an odd pairing given that Vance had called Trump America's Hitler only a few years before. And that's not all. Vance would compare his political benefactor to heroin and admitting to "PBS Newshour" that racism played a role in supporting Trump.

But, hey, that was then. This is now. And selling your soul seems to be table steaks if you want a path to power in today's GOP.

But none of that should distract from the fact that Vance is a very smart guy. Grew up in southwest Ohio amid poverty and drug addiction, joined the Marines, went to Yale Law School, moved to Silicon Valley and became very wealthy working with Steve Case and Peter Theil and President Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain.

He came to the public eye by writing a best-selling memoir, "Hillbilly Elegy," penning op-eds for "The New York Times" and "The Atlantic," even signing a contract to be a contributor here at CNN.

But running for Senate required a very different persona. And so the conspiracy theories and grievance politics began.

Now, what's interesting is that Trump reportedly endorsed Vance in large part because he thought Tim Ryan might be tough to beat. Ryan hails from the other side of the state, Youngstown, Ohio, and its surrounding swing counties. Made a long shot bid for president in 2020, calling Democrats back to their working class roots. And he's expected to be well-funded this cycle. And his first ad came out of the gate hard against China.


REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): China.

It's definitely China.

One word, China.

It is us versus China. And instead of taking them on, Washington's wasting our time on stupid



AVLON: So you can see why Ryan got Trump's attention, right? A workers first guy, running as an unapologetic American populist on the Democratic side of the aisle. Remember the exhausted majority, frustrated with Washington division and dysfunction. D.C. Democrats should probably take note.

Now, some folks look at the fact that Ohio has been definitely trending red and say this is Vance's race to lose. But it's far from clear that Trump is an asset outside a Republican primary. Don't forget the Democratic senator, Sherrod Brown, won re-election by almost seven points back in 2018. And almost a quarter of Republicans voted for a never Trump candidate in yesterday's primary.

So, we'll soon see whether Vance tries to pivot back to the center, while Ryan tries to claim the working class mantle for himself inn state where registered, unaffiliated voters, aka independents, far outnumber Democrats and Republicans. And that's all without taking into account any possible impact of an overturned Roe v. Wade, given that a bill pending in the state senate could leave Ohio with a complete ban on abortion without exceptions for rape or incest.

Make no mistake, this Senate race is going to be a battle for the heart and soul of Ohio. And if you're looking for larger story lines this cycle, Ryan's got an echo across the Allegheny Ridge in the former Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who's also running for Senate as a bare knuckle, no BS Democratic populist. Together, they're test cases for whether a different breed of Democrat might be able to reclaim America's manufacturing heartland, or whether Republicans sucking up to Trump is enough to win back the Senate.

And that's your "Reality Check."

BERMAN: John Avlon, thank you so much.

Concerns growing for Ukraine's neighbor Moldova that the war might expand beyond Ukraine. We are joined by that country's ambassador to the U.S., next.

KEILAR: And a sweet moment at last night's Blue Jays/Yankees game. Some "Good Stuff" headed your way.



BERMAN: It is time for "The Good Stuff."

A perfect moment between fans of rival baseball teams when the Yankees' Aaron Judge unfortunately homered into the stands. Fans scrambled to grab it, as they do. You can see it there. Then this is what happened when Toronto Blue Jays fan Mike Lanzillotta got a hold of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Homer the other night off Minoa (ph). Earlier today it was quite a battle between the two of them. And Mr. Judge won it.

How about that moment, though?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two people who had never met became life-long friends in that moment on the home run of Aaron Judge. The Blue Jay fan handing the young Yankee fan wearing the Judge shirt the home run ball up in the second deck.


And he's not giving that up to anybody. He is clutching that baseball, isn't he?


BERMAN: All right, that is nine-year-old Derek Rodriguez. He has worn that Aaron Judge shirt to both games so far of this three-game series between the Yankees and Blue Jays. He will cherish that moment, Brianna, because it is worth noting, in his entire lifetime, the Yankees have never won a World Series. An incredible drought for the Yankees.

KEILAR: But what a great guy. I'm going to just ask myself, what would Mike Lanzillotta do? What would Mike Lanzillotta do?

BERMAN: You've got to give the ball to a kid. Anytime a ball ends up in the stands, you've got to find the first kid, give him the ball.

KEILAR: I love it.

So there's some new fears this morning that Russia's expanding war may breach Ukraine's neighbor, Moldova, as the Ukrainians increase forces along the border near a Russian-backed separatist region called Transnistria.

I'm joined now by Moldova's ambassador to the United States, Eugen Caras.

Sir, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

How worried are you that Moldova is next on Putin's list?

EUGEN CARAS, MOLDOVA AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, thank you for having me today.

We are concerned and we are worried what's to happen next. According to our information, our assessment, there is no imminent threat of military actions targeting Moldova. But, of course, we saw last week some provocations in Transnistria, some explosions, and we are concerned. We are worried. And we have all the contingency planning, so to say.

But let me underline again, our assessment is that there is no imminent threat of military actions targeting Moldova.

KEILAR: Well, let me ask you about those explosions because Ukraine says that these explosions in Transnistria, which is a breakaway region where Russian troops actually are illegally, Ukraine says that they're provocations by Russia. Russia denies this. You believe Ukraine here.

CARAS: Well, what we saw last week and our assessment is that there were some internal factors involved in this provocative actions. So clearly the perpetrators or the sources of this attacks were forces interested to escalate the situation.

On our side, the authorities are clearly determined to keep calm and to de-escalate and to diffuse the tension. So, we hear different opinions. We talk also to Transnistrians. From what we learn and what we hear from Transnistrians is that they don't want to be involved in any kind of military acts and war. So, I think the majority of the population, including in Transnistria, doesn't want war and doesn't want to undertake any kind of military activities.

KEILAR: Moldova is neutral. It is enshrined in your constitution. Could that change?

CARAS: For the time being, this is the case indeed. We are not seeking membership to any military bloc, including NATO. But we don't know what will happen next because we see different countries taking different positions vis-a-vis joining or not joining military blocs after this unprovoked and unjustified war. So, we'll see.

But you are right, right now we have the constitutional provision about our neutrality and we are not seeking membership to NATO as of now. What we'll see next -- what will be next, well, we have to see how people would -- would feel about it.

KEILAR: Ambassador Caras, thank you so much for joining us again. We appreciate it.

CARAS: Thank you.

KEILAR: Soon, the families of Americans detained overseas will take their calls for their loved one's release to the White House.

BERMAN: And, just in, we're getting word that the person who rushed the stage last night and attacked comedian Dave Chappelle is now in custody.



KEILAR: Time now for "5 Things to Know for Your New Day."

J.D. Vance wins the Republican nomination in Ohio's Senate primary after a boost from Donald Trump's endorsement. He'll be facing Congressman Tim Ryan, who won the Democratic primary.

BERMAN: Officials in Japan and South Korea reporting that North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters. It comes about a week after Kim Jong-un vowed to speed up his deployment of nuclear weapons.

KEILAR: And comedian Dave Chappelle attacked by a man who stormed the stage at the Hollywood Bowl during his performance last night. It's unclear whether Chappelle was injured, but he reportedly joked about the incident afterward and continued with his set. The motive here unclear.

BERMAN: All right, this just in, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play the Seattle Seahawks in the first ever NFL regular season game in Germany. The game is one of five international games for the 2022 season. Three games will be played in the United Kingdom, one in Mexico.

KEILAR: Wall Street expecting a historic interest rate hike from the Fed today aimed at fighting inflation.

And those are "5 Things to Know for Your New Day." More on these stories all day on CNN and And don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every morning. Just go to

BERMAN: You know, not for nothing. Germany -- NFL football is actually very popular in Germany and there have been several now German nationals who have played in the NFL, including two that I know of for the New England Patriots, which is why I really know about it at all.

KEILAR: It is popular?


BERMAN: Yes. Yes. NFL football is popular there. And some teams, including the Patriots, have actually gone into Germany to try to recruit players to come play in the NFL. They go through colleges here and then they play in the NFL.

KEILAR: Huh. The things I learn from you.

BERMAN: There you go. Now you know. Knowing is half the battle.

CNN's coverage continues right now.