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Trump Candidates in West Virginia, Nebraska Meet Mixed Success; Ukraine Says Russians Diverting Troops North into Kharkiv Region; Al Jazeera Journalist Fatally Shot in West Bank; Baby Formula Shortage in U.S. Growing More Severe. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired May 11, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Wednesday, May 11, and I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.
A test of the Trump factor in the midterm elections in key Republican primary races in West Virginia and Nebraska, and it was a mixed bag for the former president.
CNN projects West Virginia Congressman Alex Mooney, who made Trump's endorsement the centerpiece of his campaign, will win the GOP nomination in the state's 2nd congressional district. Mooney easily defeated Congressman David McKinley, who voted to certify President Biden's win and backed the formation of an independent commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection.
McKinley also had the support of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. The primary race pitted two incumbents against each other after West Virginia lost a congressional seat because of redistricting.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So it was a far different story in Nebraska where Trump's pick went down. CNN projects Republican Jim Pillen will defeat Trump-backed candidate Charles Herbster in the state's Republican gubernatorial primary.
Trump backed Herbster, even though he is facing allegations of sexual misconduct, which he has denied. Trump put a lot into this race. Don Jr. campaigned there. Trump himself delivered a nearly two-hour speech at a rally ten days ago in Nebraska.
This is all something of a political appetizer for extremely high- profile primaries the next few weeks, including Pennsylvania, where Trump has a lot on the line, and the outcomes are anything but clear.
Let's go first to CNN's Kristen Holmes, live in Charles Town, in West Virginia. Kristen, big race there.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
Well, that's right. In both of these races, West Virginia and Nebraska had become somewhat of a proxy war. Here in West Virginia, you had Alex Mooney on one side, who was
endorsed by Donald Trump, and on the other, Dave McKinley, who as you noted, was endorsed by some of the most powerful politicians in the state, including Democrat Joe Manchin.
Now, Mooney won quickly and easily. If we pull up the numbers here, you can see, 54.2 percent to McKinley's 35.6. And I will note that, when we were on the ground the last couple of days, it became apparent that this was the likely outcome. Trump's grip on this state is still incredibly noticeable. So that wasn't that surprising.
But what was surprising was Mooney's victory speech last night, when he went after Joe Manchin and went after him hard. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEX MOONEY (R-WV): West Virginians are still waiting for Manchin's explanation as to why he voted to impeach Donald Trump twice.
Then he voted against confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, but voted for Joe Biden's pick, Ketanji Brown Jackson.
How arrogant for Joe Manchin to think he can tell Republicans how to vote. You know, I've never attacked Joe Manchin. Look it up. I've never attacked the man. In fact, I defended him once against AOC. I've also been nice to him.
But he must see me as a threat, because he keeps trying to interfere in my campaigns. The real threat to Manchin and elitists like him are the conservative voters of West Virginia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS: And he also went on to imply that he might take Joe Manchin on in that Senate race in 2024, so a little bit of drama there.
But let's move on to the Nebraska governor's race, another proxy war. On one side, you had Pete Rickets, one of the most powerful governors in the state. He is term-limited. He was supporting Jim Pillen. On the other, Donald Trump supporting Charles Herbster.
And Rickets, we should note, actually asked Trump not to get involved in this race. Of course, Trump obviously denying that request.
Let's take a look at the numbers here. You had Jim Pillen winning, 43.3 percent to Charles Herbster's 29.7. And Lindstrom, Brett Lindstrom coming in third at 25.8 percent.
Now, aides to Trump knew that this was a riskier move. They were bracing themselves for a loss.
And I think there are two main takeaways here. One is, as you said, John, there are a lot of questions. Does this actually diminish Trump's status as kingmaker? It's way too early to tell. but one thing I want to point out is last week in Ohio and this week
here in West Virginia and Nebraska, three names. Matt Dolan in Ohio, David McKinley, and Brett Lindstrom. These are three Republicans who are not in any way anti-Trump. They just don't agree with him on everything. They're not even moderate Republicans, but it shows you. They came in third, McKinley losing by that huge margin and Lindstrom, again, coming in third.
This shows you the direction that the Republican Party is going in. And likely what we're going to see more of is that Trump-backed support, that Trumpian agenda and really agreeing with him on all fronts. Because again, these were not anti-Trumpers. They just didn't agree with him on everything, and they lost by wide margins.
BERMAN: Kristen Holmes in West Virginia, thank you so much for setting the table for us this morning.
Want to bring in CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp and CNN senior political analyst John Avlon.
All right, split decision, John. So what's the takeaway?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a split decision. I mean, look, you know, West Virginia does speak to Trump's control over the party.
I mean, the fact that an incumbent who'd backed infrastructure, who stood up to Trump, got pretty trounced speaks to the fact that when it's a partisan state and a partisan primary, Trump's going to have the inside lane.
And that cross-endorsement from Joe Manchin isn't going to help, even for a guy who was previously the Republican head of Maryland. Hugging (ph) Donald Trump will serve him well.
But Nebraska, in some ways, is the bigger take, right? Bigger state, higher turnout, incumbent governor going up against Donald Trump and defeating him. That's crucial. So that shows that Trump can be taken on.
But this is still a party where Donald Trump has a cult-like control over primary voters. Nebraska is an outlier right now. So Pennsylvania, as you said, is going to be the real test.
KEILAR: S.E., what do you think?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, ditto to everything John just said, and just I'll add that, you know, Trump's had -- Trump's had more of a mixed bag endorsing governors. Those are different kinds of races.
He can key in on these house races and, you know, back a pony to much better results. Statewide, he has a, you know, less of a feel sometimes for where the state politics are, and certainly in Nebraska's case, they went for an establishment pick.
BERMAN: And statewide is where things will be the next few weeks. A lot of eyes on Pennsylvania and then Georgia.
If we can, I want to look at Pennsylvania here, because this race is getting a ton of attention. And it pits television doctor, Mehmet Oz, against David McCormick and some other candidates there. And you can see, it's tight as a tick, as they like to say in politics, S.E., there.
And you know, I do wonder, if you have Nebraska, where the Trump- backed candidate lost, and he does not emerge with a victory in Pennsylvania, what message will that send?
CUPP: None. Listen, that will send a message, certainly, about Trump's influence in Pennsylvania, but I think John's right. Trump still has a huge hold over the party. And as we're looking ahead to midterms, I think you're going to see -- you're going to see how much of a hold he -- he truly has.
I don't think any one state is truly indicative, and even two states are truly indicative of how influential he will be this midterm.
KEILAR: Let's listen to something that Lindsey Graham said. This is out from Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, who are out with a new book. And they were talking to him about Joe Biden, and Senator Graham said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We'll actually come out of this thing stronger. Moments like this reset. Take a while. People will calm down. People will say, I don't want to be associated with that. This is a group within a group.
What this does, it will be a rallying effect for a while. The country says, we're better than this.
JONATHAN MARTIN, REPORTER/AUTHOR: And Biden will be help that, right?
GRAHAM: Yes, totally. He'll be maybe the best person to have, right? I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: That Joe Biden, John Avlon, is sort of the uniter America needs. That's when he's saying there.
AVLON: That's exactly what he's saying there, in the hours after January 6th.
But there you also hear the difference between a senator in private in a moment of crisis, almost being an analyst, putting his finger up to the wind, as opposed to being a leader and seeing that those conditions he anticipated would actually take root in the Republican Party and the country at large. Because days later, Graham would start changing his tone. And there
has been this assumption by a lot of the responsible voices inside the Republican Party that things would revert to normal. That we could unite in a crisis. But we have seen that is not the case of January 6th, because these leaders ended up knuckling under. Because they're afraid of the base. Because some are still afraid of Donald Trump.
What you heard there was honesty, and what should have been what happened after January 6th. The failure to do that speaks to the lack of spine for people like Senator Graham.
BERMAN: S.E., I heard something between a sigh and a gasp from you when we heard that bite.
CUPP: Well --
BERMAN: Would that make it a "sasp" or a "gigh"? We heard something there.
CUPP: "This is not the country we are"? Well, this is the country we are. His party decided this is exactly who we are. And I, you know, think, when someone tells you who they are, believe them.
And you know, Lindsey Graham and Kevin McCarthy, and name your Republican leader, had an opportunity to steer the party away from this. And instead -- instead they followed it right down into the -- into the ditch and are now defending this kind of stuff.
So pretending they were just kind of divorced from it, and I hope this is where the country ends up, and not taking ownership for that just seems -- I mean, it seems lunacy. Lunacy.
KEILAR: So, S.E., Elon Musk says he'd let Trump back on Twitter. Are you -- you know, you're going to set the alert?
KEILAR: Are you looking forward to those tweets? How are you feeling about this?
CUPP: Listen, we should not be surprised, but I do wonder how influential Trump will be on Twitter this time.
CUPP: He -- he has not needed it to spread disinformation. Disinformation has flourished with Trump off Twitter. That's because he has FOX and OAN and Joe Rogen and his surrogates and his rallies.
I wonder now if his presence on Twitter again just kind of becomes noise, and really, he's just on there, if he, you know, decides to go back on, to annoy people like us. Because I don't think he needs it as the platform he once did.
AVLON: Look, I don't know that it actually helps Donald Trump. I don't think it helps the Republican Party.
But for folks who think this stuff is all neutral, right? I mean, just remember that after Trump and the QAnon folks got de-platformed after January 6th, a study published by Zignal Labs, published by MIT, showed a 70 percent decline in election-related disinformation in one week. So --
CUPP: Well, they found a way. They found a way to keep on --
CUPP: -- disinforming, though. And that's my only point. I'm sure it amplifies. It amplifies his voice. But he hasn't needed it.
BERMAN: From a purely political standpoint, you know, our Kaitlan Collins reports that the Biden White House actually thinks it will help them politically to have Trump back on Twitter.
KEILAR: Yes, I definitely think that Trump -- what I would say, S.E., is I think it's going to be this way for Trump to scratch an itch. He loves satisfying, you know --
KEILAR: -- sort of an impulse.
KEILAR: You know, so whether he needs it or not, I mean, I think that's not even the point. I think he wants it. I think, in a way, he sort of needs, and he's going to use it, because he just can't not. And that's what we're going to see. So --
CUPP: For sure.
KEILAR: Get ready, you guys.
CUPP: I'm ready.
KEILAR: You're -- It's going to blow up. You're going to have all the tweets right here in your -- in your feed.
AVLON: And let's not just chase the radioactive squirrels every day. Although, the image of Donald Trump scratching himself is really awkward, and I thank you for giving me that.
KEILAR: Well, thanks for that image, John Avlon.
CUPP: Too early for that.
KEILAR: And we'll leave it at that, S.E.
KEILAR: Better to see you this morning, I will say.
KEILAR: Thank you, guys.
So overnight, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressing thanks to the U.S. after House lawmakers passed a nearly $40 billion bill to deliver humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine.
This bill passed 368-57, with all of the opposing votes from Republicans. And this comes amid a dire warning from the U.S. director of national intelligence that Vladimir Putin is prepared for a prolonged conflict and that the war is likely to become more unpredictable and escalatory here in the months ahead.
BERMAN So Russian-aligned Belarus says it is deploying troops near its border with Ukraine, claiming it's to ensure security as the U.S. and its allies increase their military presence at its borders.
And a Ukrainian official says Russia is, quote, "very worried" about Ukrainian counterattacks in Kharkiv, while also warning that the Russians still have enough strength for another attack on the area.
Let's go to CNN's Melissa Bell, live in Lviv this morning, for the very latest on this.
The Russians continue to push in the East, even as Ukraine does make some inroads around Kharkiv, Melissa.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're crucial gains for that Ukrainian counter-offensive, John. And you mentioned that Ukrainian official explaining the Russians were looking at it very carefully and were worried about those gains to the North of Kharkiv, just between the city and the Russian border.
So worried, he says, that Russia's amassed some 20 battalion tactical groups. Those are those highly diversified, highly mobile groups of about 600 to 800 men. So that's a lot of manpower that he's saying is now massed just across the border around the town of Belgorod.
Now, those four towns taken by Ukraine, crucial. But another indication of the effectiveness right now of that Ukrainian counter- offensive, the stalling of the Russian offensive around Izium. They've been trying to head South. It's considered a gateway to the Donbas region.
It is understood, after they took the town on April 1, that that offensive is now stalling as a result of the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Now, the point of it was to try and protect Kharkiv, a city incredibly affected by nearly two months now of being pounded by artillery. But it is also, of course, John, crucially about right to break some of those Russian supply routes; trying to prevent them from getting those much-needed supplies to their troops further South.
So President Zelenskyy speaking last night on TV here in Ukraine about the importance of these latest gains and explaining that it is about momentum. Wars are also about momentum. They're about weaponry, manpower, and momentum. He believes some of that has now been won back and that this could mark a turning point for the war.
Also warning, however, John, that there might not necessarily be any certain gains ahead.
BERMAN: All right. Melissa Bell for us in Lviv. Melissa, thank you so much for tracking things for us.
So this is a crisis. That's the word from one maker of baby formula as parents face a desperate nationwide shortage.
And a major vote on abortion rights about to take place in the U.S. Senate after a key Democratic senator flipped positions.
KEILAR: And a miracle in the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent. I have no idea how to fly the airplane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: We're joined by the air traffic controller who helped a passenger pilot, someone without any experience, land that plane safely.
BERMAN: Developing in just the last few hours, tension and tragedy in the West Bank. An Al Jazeera journalist was shot and killed covering the conflict there.
Shireen Abu Akleh was an American as well as a Palestinian. She was killed as Israeli forces and Palestinians clashed at a refugee camp.
CNN's Hadas Gold live for us in Jerusalem. Hadas, what's the latest here?
HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Shireen was a veteran correspondent for Al Jazeera. She was well-known by the journalism community here. It's a tragic day, because she was killed while doing her job, covering the situation in the West Bank.
She and her producer -- her producer was actually also injured, but he is in stable condition -- were in Jenin, covering an Israeli military operation there.
And in video of the incident -- which is a little bit disturbing, I will warn you -- you can see that she is clearly wearing a press vest and a helmet. She's clearly wearing that protective vest that says "press" across from it.
Now, Al Jazeera is placing the blame fully on Israeli forces, calling on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli forces accountable for what they say is deliberately targeting and killing their colleague.
Now, the Israeli military and the Israeli government is saying otherwise, but first, I want us to hear from Shireen's producer, Ali al-Samudi. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI AL-SAMUDI, AL JAZEERA PRODUCER (through translator): We were going in to film the army operation. Suddenly, one of them shot at us. They didn't tell us to leave. They didn't tell us to stop. They shot at us. The first bullet hit me. The second bullet hit Shireen. They killed her with cold blood, because they were killers specialized in the killing of Palestinians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They're claiming Palestinian groups killed her.
AL-SAMUDI (through translator): There were no resistance groups near us. If the resistance was there, we wouldn't go to that area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLD: Now, for some context, the Israeli military has increased its operations in the West Bank, specifically in Jenin in response to a series of attacks that have targeted Israelis, killing 18 of them. And several of those attackers came from Jenin.
In a statement, the Israeli Defense Forces say that they came under fire when they were under -- on a counterterrorism operation, and they are looking into possibility that the journalists were hit by Palestinian gunmen, they say.
I also want to pull up a statement by the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett. He says that, "According to the information we've gathered, it appears likely that armed Palestinians, who were indiscriminately firing at the time, were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist."
He also calls on the Palestinians "to conduct a joint pathological analysis and investigation, which would be based on all the existing documentation and findings in order to get to the truth." He says, "So far, the Palestinians have refused this offer."
It's a developing story that we are closely following, John, but it's a tragic day for journalism. A journalist in clearly marked journalist gear, saying "press" across her chest, shot and killed while covering a story -- John.
BERMAN: Killed while doing her job, a loss for the journalistic community. Hadas Gold, thank you and please stay safe. KEILAR: Parents across the country are becoming increasingly desperate
to find baby formula. A severe shortage driven by supply chain issues and a major safety recall has swept many leading brands off of store shelves.
CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen spoke to concerned parents.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eleven-month-old Railen (ph) Houston is happy with her bottle now, but you should have seen her a few months ago, when she had no choice but to drink baby formula that hurt her stomach.
COURTNEY HOUSTON, MOTHER: She was crying. She wouldn't drink it. So then, of course, she wasn't full, and she was just very irritable.
COHEN (voice-over): Railen (ph) had to stop drinking her regular brand of baby formula a few months ago. A recall of some lots of Similac and supply chain issues have caused widespread formula shortages.
Her parents couldn't find the brand near their home in Gainesville, Georgia. It wasn't online. Friends and family couldn't find it where they live either.
HOUSTON: It's terrifying. It's terrifying when that's the only true source of nutrition that your baby gets. Because it would get to the point where you'd go to a store and you almost cry.
COHEN (voice-over): Nationwide, 43 percent of baby formula stock is gone. Parents are desperate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leaving us with only a few options that work with our babies' sensitive tummies.
COHEN (voice-over): This dad made a TikTok about searching for formula for his new twins in San Diego, saying he's nervous and scared about what will happen in the coming weeks.
The mom of these preemie twins in Avon, Connecticut, spent hours a day searching for formula.
And this mom in Springfield, Ohio, she can't find her son's regular formula and has to give him other brands that hurt his stomach.
JOY GREENE, SPRINGFIELD, OHIO: It's been scary to, like, walk down the aisles and see empty shelves and honestly not be able to find the exact formula that we need.
COHEN (voice-over): No matter how desperate, the FDA, the CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics say don't make your own baby formula. It could be dangerous for the baby.
Railen's (ph) parents, unable to find a formula that worked for her, transitioned Railen (ph) to cow's milk at 11 months old, a month earlier than recommended. Her pediatrician says she's doing great.
It's not clear when the shortage will end. Production out of Michigan plant that makes Similac is still shut down. The manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition, says it's increasing production in other plants and air shipping formula from Ireland.
The FDA is asking retailers to limit how much formula customers can buy, and the agency is meeting regularly with Abbott and other formula makers.
DR. ROBERT CALIFF, FDA COMMISSIONER: The work is ongoing to bring the plant up to speed. In the meanwhile, we've been working with all the manufacturers to make sure there is a supply of infant formula.
COHEN (voice-over): But parents say they need a better solution right now.
HOUSTON: It's not something that a parent should have to deal with.
COHEN (on camera): Now, we mentioned that the U.S. government is asking retailers to limit how much they sell for any one individual customer making a purchase. Let's take a look at those limits.
CVS and Walgreens say no more than three products at any one purchase. Target has a limit of four products, when you buy online. They have no limit in stores.
In addition to this, the U.S. government is trying to expedite the process for importing formula from other countries -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, we're seeing price gouging. I mean, this is just so nerve-racking, as we're seeing for these parents. So we'll keep an eye on this.
Elizabeth, thank you for that report.
Welcome to the Clarence Thomas era. Our next guest argues that the conservative Supreme Court justice is getting ever more powerful.
BERMAN: And brand-new dash cam footage shows the moment an Alabama inmate and the corrections officer who helped him escape were taken down by police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got the gun in her hand? All right. Watch it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)