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New Day

Ukrainian Refugees Hide Hatred Towards Russia; Probe into Hunter Biden; Pence Signals 2024 Bid; NASA Reveals Potential Launch Date for Moon Mission; Emotional Night at Espy Awards. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 21, 2022 - 06:30   ET



KATELIN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: To seize billions in sanctioned assets from these Russian elites since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. And later in the show we'll speak live with the foremost expert on these priceless 19th century collectibles.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Faberge egg, oligarch, Fiji.

COLLINS: It's buzz words.

BERMAN: Like, you came in like so into this story. There's a lot going on here.

COLLINS: It's a really good story. When I saw that Lisa Monaco from the Justice Department announced this yesterday, I just - I like had to read the tweet like six times.

BERMAN: Much more on this coming up with an expert.

So, CIA Director William Burns speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado and addressing speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin is suffering from some form of illness as he pursues the war in Ukraine.


WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: There are lots of rumors about President Putin's health. And as far as we can tell, he's entirely too healthy. It's not a formal intelligence judgment.


BERMAN: But knocking down the rumors. Putin has recently appeared in photos and some people look at it and say he's got facial puffiness and that's led to rumors that he may be getting medical treatment for some something, who knows.

COLLINS: Up now, we have a CNN exclusive report. It shows the challenges that Ukrainian refugees face in Russian-occupied territories. Many of them are forced to deny their true feelings about what they've been through, really saying whatever they can to please Russian forces just to survive.

CNN's Matthew Chance has the report, though we do want to warn viewers that some of you may find these images disturbing.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He was maimed as Russian forces entered his Ukrainian home. His foot shot to pieces and his wife killed, he says, before his eyes. But now across the border in Russia, Alexey insists Ukraine, not Moscow, is to blame for his suffering.

CHANCE (on camera): Was it the Russian army that did this? And are you angry?

CHANCE (voice over): The Russians were just entering the city. It was Ukrainian troops who shot at us as we collected drinking water, he says.

No criticism of Russia's military here, not from Alexey, nor from the other Ukrainian refugees we were given exclusive access to on Russian soil.

CHANCE (on camera): (Speaking in foreign language).

There's a lot of people here from Mariupol. And that's not surprising because we're just across the border from that city here on Russian territory.

We've been brought here to this big old gymnasium with its basketball courts which is filled with, as you can see, a couple of hundred beds to cater for the hundreds of refugees that are still months after this conflict began pouring across the border into Russian territory. They're given food, they're given medical attention. And despite the fact that it's very hot outside, you know, because it's the middle of the summer, they're getting some rest from the ordeal that they've gone through.

It's also the first opportunity that we have to speak to these people about the sometimes horrific experiences that they've had back across the border in the war zone.

CHANCE (voice over): But don't expect them to describe that ordeal. Human rights groups say Ukrainians in Russian-occupied areas are rounded up and filtered before being bused to camps like these. All those suspected of posing a threat don't even make it through. Saying the right thing here is a matter of survival, especially for those who have already lost loved ones, like this refugee who asked not to be named.

CHANCE (on camera): You're not angry at the Russians for that?

CHANCE (voice over): These are provocative questions, he answers, but now I'm here, so please don't press me. I didn't see who killed my relatives, he says. As far as I'm concerned, they're just another casualty of this conflict, he says. But in Russia, the freedom to speak out is a casualty, too. While we

traveled away from Tagenrogue (ph), outside of the country to neighboring Estonia, and the Baltic Port of Tallen (ph), boarding this giant passenger ferry turned temporary shelter for refugees from Ukraine.

CHANCE (on camera): Well, it's in these cramped cabins below decks, in these corridors, in the bowls of these ships that now house more than 1,700 Ukrainian refugees, many of whom have escaped directly from Russia and its filtration camps. And at least people can speak freely and without fear about their experience.

Better than Mariupol, exactly, yes.

CHANCE (voice over): Daniil told me how he bluffed his way through Russia's filtration system by pretending he wanted to make Russia his permanent home.


They asked, for instance, if I knew Vladimir Putin's birthday because they said he is your president now. I told them I didn't, but I promised to learn it, and they let me through, he says.

Others, like Stanaslov (ph) and Vitalina had a much tougher time. Transported from their homes like cattle, they said, in freezing trucks to filtration centers. Vitalina says she had to leave her elderly father behind after he was shot and injured by a Russian soldier. It filled her with hatred, she tells me, which she had to hide to pass through Russia. Now she's left with a desperate sadness. We really want to go home, she sobs. I can't tell you how much. Even though through the tears she admits that home may already be lost.


COLLINS: Matthew, it's just heartbreaking to see what they have been through, asking if they knew Putin's birthday to let them through. So, it's an amazing report and we thank you for bringing us that.

I do wonder, what is the symbolism of these filtration camps mean for Russia because it's not the first time that they've used them.

CHANCE: No, it's not. And I think everybody that is sent to a filtration camp or a filtration center in Ukraine or in Russia knows very well the Russians have used this kind of system before. They used it in Chechnya in the brutal war that took place there in the late 1990s and early 2000s where, you know, tens of thousands of people, perhaps as much of a fifth of the population of Chechnya, were sent through these filtration camps. And they were hot beds of abuse, of torture, of worse, of extra judicial killings as well. And so the fear is the same may be happening as well.

Remember, we only spoke to the people that got through the filtration system. There are still an unknown number of Ukrainians that are in detention in those places. We don't know exactly where they are and we don't know what conditions that they are in. And that's the main concern at the moment when it comes to this filtration system and the filtration camps that Russia has set up.


COLLINS: It's just remarkable.

Matthew Chance, thank you.

Meanwhile, the federal investigation of Hunter Biden's business practices is said to have reached a critical stage. There are now major questions about whether or not the president's son could be facing charges.

And CNN asked all 50 Republican senators if they would support the same-sex marriage bill. We'll tell you where they stand ahead.

BERMAN: Pearl Jam canceling a concert in Vienna saying front man Eddie Vedder suffered throat damage from Europe's wildfires.



BERMAN: New CNN reporting. Sources say the federal investigation of Hunter Biden's business activities is now reaching a critical juncture as investigators weigh possible charges and prosecutors confront Justice Department guidelines to generally avoid bringing politically- sensitive cases close to an election.

CNN's Kara Scannell is part of the reporting team that brought this information forward.

Kara, what are you learning?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. So, what we've learned is sources tell us that prosecutors are weighing bringing criminal charges against Hunter Biden. Now, no final decision has been made, but discussions within the department have really intensified in the past few months.

Now, this investigation began around 2018 and it was fairly wide ranging, looking at foreign lobbying activities, looking at money laundering. And in recent weeks and months sources say that this has really narrowed now, that they're looking at possible tax violations, as well as making false statements in connection with the purchase of a firearm.

Now, one issue that the department is encountering now and confronting is that we're heading up to the midterm elections. And so there is Justice Department policy not to take any overt steps which would include possible indictment around an election. And that cutoff, officials say, is about 60 days before. So, we're getting to this point where there could be a decision, you know, as soon as next month or they could wait until November. You know, there's a lot of factors, a lot of things could still change, but we're getting to this point where, you know, this investigation is nearing the end, they've really narrowed the focus and we could see a decision soon. And Hunter Biden, of course, has not been charged with any crimes and

he has denied any wrongdoing.

BERMAN: Kara Scannell, again, thank you for this careful reporting and bringing us these developments.

COLLINS: Yes, one of the most politically fraught things facing Merrick Garland.

Meanwhile, former President Trump has not yet thrown his hat in the ring for 2024, but, if he does, he might have to contend with his former vice president, Mike Pence. Pence has made several high-profile moves this week suggesting a 2024 presidential bid is very much on his mind.

Joining us now to talk about this are CNN reporters Gabby Orr and Melanie Zanona.

Thank you both for joining us this morning.

And, Gabby, I want to start with you because people have been watching Pence very closely, ever since, of course, he and Trump had a major split following January 6th. And so what is he doing exactly that is raising so many eyebrows about what he might be planning in 2024?

GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: Wall, Kaitlan, former Vice President Mike Pence has spent months keeping his cards very close to his chest. We knew that he was laying the groundwork for a potential presidential bid, but he wasn't really telegraphing that in the way that he is now.

Yesterday, he was on Capitol Hill meeting with Republican members of the Republican Study Committee, a very conservative group of lawmakers. He then traveled to South Carolina in early voting in the presidential primary state yesterday evening to deliver a sort of policy outline for conservatives, anti-abortion conservatives specifically in this, quote, post Roe America.


He has also traveled to New Hampshire over the past few months. He has delivered speeches on a number of policy topics. And on Monday, his group, Advancing American Freedom, in conjunction with The Heritage Foundation, another very conservative think tank here in Washington, will host Pence for another policy speech on the future of America.

So, he's really taking steps to not just cultivate relationships on Capitol Hill with Republican leaders who will serve him well if he does run for president in 2024, but also to show voters that he's taking this seriously, that he wants to have a policy platform that is separate from his role as vice president to President Trump.

BERMAN: So, Melanie Zanona, Mike Pence was on Capitol Hill with members of Congress openly talking about a possible presidential run. What exactly happened behind closed doors and what kind of reception did he receive? MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, so, I'm told by

multiple people who attended the meeting yesterday that it was a warm reception for Mike Pence and that people thanked him for his courage on January 6th, that they were encouraging him to run in 2024.

And, on the one hand, it's not entirely surprising to see members of the Republican Study Committee praising Pence. Pence was a former chairman of this group. And I think on policy and probably on substance he's more aligned with this group than any other group in Congress. But on the other hand, it is incredibly notable to see Republicans openly cheering for anyone other than Trump. They are just not rubber stamping the idea anymore of a Donald Trump candidacy automatically and they are actually openly cheering for the idea of a competitive primary field.

Manu Raju and I asked a bunch of Republicans, not just RSC, about this yesterday, and they want to see a crowded field, they want to see a number of candidates, not just Pence, jumping into the field. And I think a huge driver of that is, a, there's a lot of private anxiousness about the idea of Donald Trump becoming the nominee again with all these potential legal problems piling up, the select committee investigation really heating up and, b, Trump himself is considering announcing an early bid for the White House. So it has forced Republicans to think about 2024 much earlier than they normally would have.

COLLINS: But, Gabby, do you get the sense from people that you speak to in Trump world that there's any concern about a Pence candidacy? Because I know Trump looks at the polling a lot of where he stands, where Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stands, Pence, all of these other potential contenders.

ORR: Kaitlan, I have not heard Mike Pence's name come up once in my conversations with Trump advisers and aides as they talk about 2024 and who would potentially put up the biggest competition in a primary. DeSantis, as you mentioned, the Florida governor, is the one who is consistently mentioned as the biggest potential threat to Trump if he does run. And that's because of this sort of hero status that DeSantis has cultivated among conservative activists for a lot of his sort of culture war moves down in Florida, his stance on coronavirus vaccines and mask mandates. Pence has been really not somebody that they view as a likely competitor against Trump. Even if Mike Pence does run against Donald Trump in a primary, which my sources tell me is quite possible at this point, that he would take on his former boss in a crowded GOP primary.

COLLINS: It is certainly going to be crowded.

BERMAN: Well, look, Donald Trump might want crowded, but, again, what I find so interesting is the lawmakers encouraging him in front of each other, encouraging Mike Pence to run. I just can't imagine that being something we would have seen, you know, eight months ago.

COLLINS: Yes, it's remarkable. I mean it's something everyone had a suspicion that Pence was headed for, obviously.

But, anyway, Gabby and Melanie, thank you so much for that reporting. We'll make sure to stay on top of this.

Meanwhile, there is a mysterious bundle of string that was seen on the surface of Mars.


COLLINS: Looks like floss.

BERMAN: Plus, President Biden -

COLLINS: Aliens floss.

BERMAN: Heads to Pennsylvania today as crime rises in certain places in the country. Ahead, new White House adviser Keisha Lance Bottoms will join us.



COLLINS: NASA's Perseverance Rover captured an unusual image of something lying in the red sand of Mars. A bundle of string. Officials say they believe it's left over from the landing. And even though the rover hadn't actually been where the string was found, maybe the wind could have blown it there. When Perseverance revisited the cite of where the string was found just a few days later, it was gone. Officials say it's not that unusual because Perseverance has snapped a photo of a bit of shiny foil back in June that is also believed to have been left behind as well.

BERMAN: The truth is out there.

NASA is celebrating the 53rd anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing with a big announcement, potential dates for the next mission to the moon.

CNN's space and defense correspondent Kristin Fisher joins us with that.

So, when?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, keep in mind, this is the rocket that NASA has been working on for more than a decade, ever since it retired the space shuttle fleet back in 2011. This new rocket, it's over budget, it's overdue. But, as you said, we finally have a launch date. August 29th will be the first attempt. We've got backup dates in early September. It's going to launch from the Kennedy Space Center, orbit the moon and then splash down into the ocean a few weeks later.

And if all goes according to plan, NASA is going to attempt to return American astronauts to the moon hopefully by 2025. So that's still a few years away.

But, John, something else pretty remarkable is happening up in space today. A European astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut are going to be conducting a joint spacewalk together right outside the International Space Station. And, you know, this is one of the cosmonauts that just a few weeks ago was photographed holding a photograph - photographed holding a flag of some of those occupied territories in eastern Ukraine. You know, clearly this is going to continue, hopefully uninterrupted.


But, you know, this type of European Russian joint spacewalk, it is rare at any time, but especially rare given what's happening here on earth.

And, John, the European astronaut is even going to be wearing a Russian spacesuit for this six-hour-long spacewalk.

BERMAN: Trying to show that the work goes on.

Kristin Fisher, thank you very much.

One hundred and eighty-seven minutes, that's what the January 6th committee will focus on at tonight's primetime hearing. What the video -- the video the committee plans to show.

COLLINS: Plus, just a short time from now, Steve Bannon's defense will begin in his contempt of Congress trial. We'll tell you what to expect ahead.


COLLINS: Some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment turned out last night for the Espy's hosted by Steph Curry. There was no shortage of emotional moments or LeBron jokes.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's "Bleacher Report."


You know, it was an emotional evening, but it was also awesome, baby, to quote the night's signature honoree. Legendary broadcaster Dick Vitale receiving the Jimmy V. Award for perseverance. This is an honor named after his late friend, former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano who died of cancer back in 1993.