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Dow Dives, Gas Prices Surge, Inflation Hurts Retail; Key PA Senate Race Tightens as All Eyes Turn to Mail-in Ballots; Trump Tells Oz to Declare Victory Despite Uncounted Votes; Shooting Survivor Recounts How He Saved Others; Biden to Host Leaders of Finland, Sweden at White House. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired May 19, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, May 19. I'm John Berman. Brianna is off this morning. Erica Hill with me here.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to be back with you.
BERMAN: Yes. It's kind of an ugly morning around the world --
BERMAN: -- in economic terms. Stocks tumbling, prices rising, anxiety boiling. Wall Street's worst day in nearly two years: the Dow dropped nearly 1,200 points. It came after retail giant Target reported a huge 52 percent drop in profits for the first quarter, Walmart slashed its profit outlook because of supply chain constraints and rising costs.
These stores are pocketing less money, because they have to pay so much more to get product on their shelves. Walmart stock -- Walmart's stock, excuse me, fell more than 11 percent on Tuesday, the company's worst day since 1987.
HILL: And then, of course, there are also gas prices to talk about. Now above $4 a gallon in every state in America for the first time ever. The national average this morning, $4.52 a gallon and climbing.
And that ripple effect is now hitting markets around the globe. Overnight European markets opening lower. Stocks also tumbled in Asia after Wall Street's hellish day.
BERMAN: Inflation fears now depressing investor sentiment, many CEOs publicly stating their concerns about a possible recession, something Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is keenly aware of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: What we need to see is inflation coming down in a clear and convincing way, and we're going to keep pushing until we see that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Joining us now to discuss, business journalist Marc Stewart. I think for a lot of folks waking up this morning, it feels like a lot of doom and gloom. Is that really what it is?
MARC STEWART, BUSINESS JOURNALIST: Well, think about you and your family. If you have to make a big purchase, like a trip or buy a new car, you do so when you have some certainty in your life. That usually means a good job, some money in the bank, and an indication of where your life is taking you.
Right, now the economy and the stock market, they don't have a blueprint for the future. There is no roadmap. There is no flight plan, and that is why we are seeing these big losses. Yes, perception is a big part of it, but also the stock market and investors want some guarantees. They want some certainty, and right now that's just not happening.
BERMAN: Explain to us why what happened with Target was such a big flashing --
BERMAN: -- red light. Their profits fell 50 -- profits now, not earnings, profits fell 52 percent.
STEWART: So just like our families, big companies are having to deal with extra costs, as you mentioned.
I was listening to Target's earnings call yesterday. Every three months companies basically give a report card, like our kids get at school, to find out how they are doing and what they are dealing with. In Target's case, one of its executives was talking about the fact that transportation costs were so high. That's in addition to paying more for products. That's in addition to dealing with these supply chain issues.
That's why it's such a big deal, because if Target is feeling it, think about the smaller businesses that don't have the weight that a big corporation like Target has.
HILL: What I think can feel a little confusing, right, are all these conflicting headlines that we're constantly seeing. Low unemployment numbers. And then we're getting consumer spending numbers for April. I recognize that Target's numbers were for the first quarter, but the April numbers are still really strong for consumer spending, and Target says people are buying.
So how do people square that? Is it really just about those transportation costs?
STEWART: Well, that's part of the conflict that we are in right now. Despite high inflation, people are still going to the stores and buying things. We still have some savings left over from the pandemic.
Also, I'd be remiss if I don't bring up gasoline costs, really expensive. I mean, I think this morning we are seeing record highs all across the country.
There are some things we cannot live without. Gasoline is one of them. Everyday products, food, those are all products that are necessities. So we have no choice but to buy them.
So for now, until we see even more of a dramatic shift in the way people are spending, the consumer spending numbers were, in fact, high.
BERMAN: But there's -- the fear is -- we talk about this uncertainty. The fear is, yes, they're high for now, but you have investors saying maybe they're not going to stay like this.
And when you talk about guarantees, why is there no guarantee? Why is there so much uncertainty now about where things will be one, two, three, four months from now?
STEWART: Look what's happening in the world right now. We have a war in Ukraine. That is obviously having a big impact on how much we pay for fuel.
We have COVID outbreaks, which are still an issue in Asia. That is inhibiting the way goods move from point A to point B.
In addition, while there's hope for the future, all the economists that I have talked to have expressed that inflation, while some months may be better than others, it's going to be part of our lives through the end of the year and well into 2023.
One thing which I found stunning -- I was listening to an economic forecast -- the price of oil right now, about $100 a barrel. That's still high from its average of 60. Some economists are looking at models where oil prices go up to $180 to $200 a barrel. Yes, it's jaw- dropping.
BERMAN: Well, thanks for that. Thanks for making us feel so good.
HILL: Ending on -- ending on a high note.
STEWART: I'm just -- I'm just giving you the reality.
HILL: Just the messenger, Marc.
HILL: Just the messenger.
BERMAN: Well, there is so much uncertainty. Marc Stewart, great to see you. Thank you very much.
HILL: Well, in Pennsylvania the margins in the high-stakes Senate primary keep tightening. Let's take a look at the latest numbers here.
TV doctor Mehmet Oz's lead shrinking now. He's about 1,200 votes ahead of former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick. Thousands of ballots, of course, still need to be counted, many of them absentee ballots.
Kristen Holmes is in Pittsburgh with the very latest.
Kristen, good morning.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. Yes, that margin remains razor-thin. So of course, the two big questions now are what is left to be counted and how exactly is that going to impact this race?
So given CNN's estimate, there are about 15,000 votes left to be counted. Now, this is just a rough estimate here, because not all counties actually give the exact amount of votes that need to be counted still, but of those 15,000, most of them are absentee ballots.
Now, this matters, because what we have seen, based on the trends of the votes that have been counted, absentee ballots tend to skew towards McCormick. This is something we saw yesterday: McCormick chip, chip, chipping away at that lead by Oz.
And this is something that I've heard from the McCormick campaign now for two days. That is how they think they are going to win this election, is through those absentee ballots.
Now, the other thing is there are still day of election ballots out there that need to be counted. They are in counties like Philadelphia, where we don't expect a large amount of Republican votes to come in; Delaware County which is a suburb of Philadelphia; and Allegheny County, which is the Pittsburgh area where we are.
Allegheny County, as we reported yesterday, there were issues with memory cards there, which caused about 30 precincts to not yet have their votes be counted.
We are watching this incredibly closely, because of those day of ballots that have been counted in Allegheny County, a majority of them have gone towards Dave McCormick.
So of course, it looks as though this is trending in the way of Dave McCormick, but this is still anyone's game, and both campaigns are expecting that automatic recount to be triggered, which happens here in the commonwealth if that margin is below 0.5 percent.
HILL: Kristen Holmes, appreciate it. Thank you.
President Trump, who of course, has backed Dr. Mehmet Oz, has thrown his two cents in now. He wrote, "Dr. Oz should declare victory," like now, before all the votes are counted.
Joining us now, CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent for "The New York Times," Maggie Haberman. That's something, Maggie.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's, I think, something we've seen before, right? It's something we saw Donald Trump do with his own victory, and he is now trying to duplicate that. I don't think he would be doing that if he felt entirely confident that Oz was going to win at the end of the day when these ballots are all counted.
But what he is doing is muddying the waters. And there are huger implications here, because Republicans are trying -- trying to retake the Senate. It is going to be much harder if Donald Trump is casting doubt on Dave McCormick the way he's clearly prepared to do.
HILL: What's important, though, I think, too, is the reaction that you're seeing or not seeing from Mehmet Oz in response to these comments and from Dave McCormick.
HABERMAN: Well, look, Dave McCormick, I think, you know, has taken a lot of lumps from Donald Trump, so I'm not really surprised that he's not saying something until he knows where this is headed.
In Oz's case, we know that Donald Trump, when he did a rally for him, said he agrees with me about 2020. Dave McCormick did not -- or, you know, that Dave McCormick doesn't agree with me, and the implication was Oz does. I'm not at all surprised to see how this is playing out.
But, again, this is really dangerous what Donald Trump is saying, and it should not be minimized. This isn't just him complaining that he lost an election. You know, all of the things that got said after November 3, 2020 -- Donald Trump has to cool off, this is hard for him, et cetera, et cetera -- all of the rationalizations that ended up snowballing into something more. Now he's willing to say this about other people's elections, and we are heading down a different path.
BERMAN: And we should make perfectly clear: every vote has the same validity here. A vote cast by mail, you know --
HABERMAN: That's right.
BERMAN: -- is every bit as valid as a vote cast in person. A vote counted today is every bit as valid as a vote that was counted on Tuesday.
Maggie, you also have -- actually, one other point here. You mentioned it could hurt Republicans, long term. In Georgia, you know, in 2020 Trump was complaining about the election. Republicans think that depressed the vote in the runoff here. So Trump doing this could hurt whoever the nominee is, long term.
HABERMAN: Hurt whoever it is -- the nominee is long term; could hurt, to your point, in other states.
We know that in 2020 both Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy tried talking to Donald Trump about stop talking about by-mail voting this way. There are districts in whole states like Montana where we rely on this, our voting base relies on this, and you are causing us a problem. And he doesn't care, because it doesn't matter to him in the moment.
BERMAN: Maggie, you've got an article out also today. It's not really about Trump. It's about Republicans and how they want to deal with him as they head into the midterm elections. What's the calibration there?
HABERMAN: The calibration is that Donald Trump has remade the party in his image. We know this. Almost every single one of these primary fields is a shade of Donald Trump, right? It's just Trump light, Trump heavy. Every candidate is espousing his policies for the most part.
They're trying to, some of them, distance themselves personally or, in some case, not espousing his lies about the 2020 election.
But what we have seen is his limits in being able to push other candidates over the top. You see that with Oz certainly. You saw that last week in the Nebraska governor's race. You saw that in the Idaho governor's race this week. You are likely to see it next week in the Georgia governor's race.
And so the lesson that some Republicans are taking is they like Donald Trump personally. They don't necessarily want to take his picks.
What other Republicans who might run for president are looking for is this a sign that Donald Trump is losing altitude within the party. And John, honestly, I just think it's too soon to say.
And I think at the end of the day, Kellyanne Conway had a point to us, in that -- in that story that I think is the right one, which is basically, there is no other heir apparent right now to Trumpism and to "America first," his policy slogan. Until that happens, I'm not sure where this goes.
HILL: So we'll be watching for that.
There's an interesting moment last night with former P resident George W. Bush. I just want to play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In contrast, Russian elections are rigged. Political opponents are imprisoned or otherwise eliminated from participating in the electoral process. The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq -- I mean, of Ukraine. Iraq -- anyway -- 75.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Maggie, you hear some laughter there. He sort of joked, Oh, I'm 75. I don't know that everybody who sees that moment is going to be laughing this morning.
HABERMAN: No, especially when he says "Iraq 2" right beforehand. Look, I mean, you know, George W. Bush obviously is very different than Donald Trump, and he has had something of a resurgence, at least in people's memories, being compared to Donald Trump.
But the reality is the Iraq war was costly and brutal, and its existence is part of why Donald Trump became president and certainly the nominee of the Republican Party in the first place. And so yes, ha, ha, that was a Freudian slip, but that was really quite a moment.
BERMAN: Yes. You could see it in his face, too.
HABERMAN: He knew. Yes, he knew. And he sort of acknowledges it, again, right before he says "75" he says "an Iraq 2." And that's -- that's going to open up other questions the next time somebody interviews him.
BERMAN: Maggie Haberman, great to see you. Thank you so much.
HILL: President Biden invoking his defense powers to tackle the ongoing baby formula shortage.
Plus, a 911 dispatcher placed on leave for what officials are calling a completely inappropriate response to a whispering caller, that caller calling in during the mass shooting in Buffalo.
BERMAN: And 132 passengers and crews perished. Now new data suggests the crash of a flight in China in March may have been deliberately caused by someone in the cockpit.
BERMAN: This morning the suspect in the Buffalo supermarket massacre is due to appear in court.
A 911 dispatcher has been placed on leave for what officials say was a completely inappropriate response to a whispering caller during the mass shooting that left ten people dead.
This morning, we're also hearing stories from survivors, including a hero who risked his life to save co-workers and customers.
CNN's Shimon Prokupecz live for us in Buffalo this morning. As more information comes out, Shimon, we really are learning more about these acts of heroism.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This is a remarkable story. Jerome Bridges, a clerk there in the store, hears the gunshots and then immediately starts gathering his co-workers and customers in the store, thinking he's not going to survive, but all he wanted to do was to protect the people inside the store.
JEROME BRIDGES, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: He killed so many innocent people. Every night I've been going in the house crying for hours.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Jerome Bridges can't bring himself to take off his Tops supermarket name tag.
PROKUPECZ: You still wear this. BRIDGES: Yes, because I'm going eventually, if they do decide to open
up the store, I'm going back. I'm not going to let nobody scare me out of a house that -- you know, Tops over there is a family. Those people I worked with were all family.
PROKUPECZ: You lost them.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): He was at work in aisle 14 when he heard the first gunshots and ran towards the breakroom in the back of the store.
PROKUPECZ: You grabbed customers.
BRIDGES: I told the customers to get inside -- some customers to get inside the breakroom and get down on the floor.
I had to tell them to be quiet and just lay down on the ground, because he was getting closer and closer to the back, to the point where he was actually shooting at the displays that are there, like the milk display. I mean, he was really trying to hit whatever was behind that wall, because he had detailed plans of where everything was at.
I just wanted to make sure I kept them customers and my other three co-workers very safe, so even if I would have died, it would have been, you know, me dying protecting them.
PROKUPECZ: You were ready to take a bullet for them?
BRIDGES: Yes. Yes, I was.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Police say the suspect, an 18-year-old self- described white supremacist, killed ten people and wounded three others.
According to investigators, he planned his attack for months, eventually posting the detailed and disturbing plans on social media, and made repeat visits to the store in March. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
PROKUPECZ: Do you remember seeing -- seeing him in March?
BRIDGES: Yes. He had on them same exact clothes. I remember that. Them ugly green pants and them ugly -- that ugly green fatigues.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Investigators say the suspect was doing reconnaissance and writing about activity inside the store, including how many black and white people were inside.
BRIDGES: I thought he was a lost shopper, so I just kept it going. I didn't realize he was sitting up there scoping out the store for something like this.
I don't discriminate against nobody, but for him to be hateful of black people, it is what it is.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Bridges says he was too scared to answer his phone while hiding in the breakroom for fear the gunman would hear him.
BRIDGES: My son was just calling me on the phone.
PROKUPECZ: Because he knew you were there?
BRIDGES: Yes. And I couldn't answer the phone. He calls me every day now.
PROKUPECZ: yes. He almost lost his father.
PROKUPECZ (voice-over): As for the gunman who robbed Bridges of his friends, family and livelihood --
PROKUPECZ: He could potentially face the death penalty.
BRIDGES: If he gets the death penalty I will clap. I will be happy. Then everybody can go on about their -- go on about their lives, knowing that justice was served.
PROKUPECZ (on camera): As for Jerome Bridges, he's in counseling every day. The store has been providing counseling for him and his co- workers. They see it as a way to get together, to talk about what's happening.
And as you can hear from him there, it's been an emotional, emotional time. He's been crying every night. He says he's suffering from PTSD.
But he -- one thing he says that he's so thankful, that so many people have come out to support the community, have come out to support his fellow employees.
As to the suspect here, he will be in court here later this morning on what we're told is a felony hearing. Initially, his attorneys had asked for a mental health evaluation for him, but they have since withdrawn that, so we're expected to see him here later in court, John.
BERMAN: Shimon, that was a tough discussion. You handled it really well. Very sensitive with him.
I was struck by the first thing he told you. He's still going home and crying every day. He helped so many people, I hope he does get the help that he needs now.
Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much.
So as president Biden gets ready to welcome the leaders of Finland and Sweden today, will Turkey block their efforts to join NATO?
HILL: Plus, the White House now preparing for all contingencies when the president travels to Asia later today, should North Korea launch a missile.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: President Putin has managed to precipitate everything he sought to prevent. He wanted to prevent NATO from getting bigger, with Ukraine, and now it actually is with Finland and with Sweden.
He wanted to divide the West, divide the alliance. It's more united than it's ever been. Everything we're seeing is Putin achieving the exact opposite of what he says he wants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Secretary of State Antony Blinken there, weighing in on Sweden and Finland's plans to join NATO.
President Biden is set to meet with leaders of both countries today as part of a show of support.
CNN's Kylie Atwood joins me now. So as we look at this important meeting today, and it really is that visual and that extra support they want to convey.
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And you have the Biden administration, you have members of this NATO defensive alliance really heralding Finland and Sweden for putting in their formal applications to join NATO.
We should note that they did that because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Of course, Finland shares a border with Russia, so there are increased concerns for these countries in the region. And they're saying we think we need to join NATO now.
But it is a bit of a more tense moment that you'll hear from President Biden or from European officials because of what Turkey is doing here. And they are the single greatest hurdle right now to Finland and Sweden actually joining the NATO alliance, because every single country of NATO is going to sign off and say yes in order for this to come to fruition; and right now Turkey is the holdout.
And just so folks understand, what they're saying is that they believe that there are Kurdish terrorist organizations that are having some activity in Finland and Sweden. They want those countries to go after those terrorist organizations, because there are correlations between what they're doing and what the PKK in Turkey is doing.
And that's an organization that wants an independent state in Turkey. It's been in this long-term battle with the Turkish state.
So what Turkey is trying to do here is use this moment as a moment of leverage, right?
And I think the question is, OK, so what is Turkey actually going to get? Are they going to get Finland and Sweden to crack down on these organizations? Are they also quietly potentially asking other countries to do them other favors? We don't know if that's the case, but it does beg the question.
HILL: And it's -- you know, how much leverage does Turkey actually have in that equation, too, right, as part of that leverage question?
ATWOOD: Right. And they know that they have the leverage, because every country needs to vote yes.
And Turkey is a significant member of NATO. They have the second largest army in all of NATO. They have been a member of the alliance since the early days, in the 1950s. So they know that they have the upper hand here.
And what you see from U.S. diplomats is very careful language. They say, We're going to work with Turkey. We're going to work through this process.
But what does that mean at the end of the day, and are there other countries that are also watching Turkey and saying, Hey, they're using this as a moment of leverage. Could we also try and get something that we want in return for voting yes for Finland and Sweden?