Return to Transcripts main page

New Day

Reena Ninan is Interviewed about Russian Gas Cuts; Sandy Hook Parents Ask for $150 Million Verdict; Pelosi's Taiwan Trip; Mets Get Best of Yankees. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 27, 2022 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Russia further cuts off energy supplies to the European Union. One official - one U.S. officials said this was, quote, our biggest fear.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And conspiracy theorist Alex Jones could be on the hook for $150 million in damages to Sandy Hook families. We have the latest details of this case.


BERMAN: A critical standoff escalating in Europe with Russia now further reducing natural gas supplies to the European Union heading into the winter. One U.S. official says, quote, this was our biggest fear. It has already prompted action. A significant agreement from the European Union for a major reduction in natural gas use across the board.

Joining us now, former ABC and CBS News anchor and founder of Good Trouble Productions, Reena Ninan.


You've got competing trends here. Number one, Russia limiting the flow of natural gas through this pipeline, almost every day it seems more. But the European Union, with a significant agreement to reduce consumption by 15 percent.

REENA NINAN, FOUNDER, GOOD TROUBLE PRODUCTIONS: Yes, you know, they started off reducing it. Russians started off reducing it 60 percent in June, 40 percent a couple of weeks ago and now this week it will be 20 percent.

You know, what Putin has been able to do in inflicting this pain right now in this very moment is, he's able to take without firing anything, without using any sort of weaponry, inflict this pain on all of these European capitals, but also creating division within the European Union.

You know, you -- not everybody consumes Russian gas the way Germany and Italy do. They're the largest consumer. So, you've got some of these southern countries, like Sprain and Greece, saying, well, you know, why should we have to conserve and cut? Why should our citizens be forced to do this when you guys are so reliant on it?

So, he's able to inflict these pressure points while also helping to divide the region in some cases.

KEILAR: What could winter look like and what are the political pressures that that creates in individual European countries?

NINAN: That's such a great point because they're already asking people to cut 15 percent of their gas - of their consumption from -- starting from August 1st until end of March. But where they're really going to feel it is already there's some cities in Germany where they're telling you when you can take a hot shower. They're already talking about the highways, that you won't be able to drive as fast. People are really going to feel this in a way -- while Putin might be able to inflict this pain right now, what he's also doing equally as much is making the consumers in Europe understand what it feels like when you don't have a good energy policy. You don't have the energy security. You're so reliant on Russia.

Climate change activists who have been trying to make this case that we need to move more towards renewable energy, they're effectively making this for them by saying this reliance is now inflicting damage and pain to you at home. They're talking in one report, 65 percent increase in energy costs for the consumer. You're going to feel that. I mean this isn't just, hey, guys, go put on an extra sweatshirt or throw on an extra comforter at night in your bed. People will feel this. And it's hard not to imagine we will feel it here in the U.S.

BERMAN: I - well, two things. One, I will say, Putin may be trying to drive divisions in Europe, but right now the story is they're sticking together.


BERMAN: This agreement that was just announced yesterday is very much about solidarity and unity, Hungary aside.

NINAN: It's a - that's a great point.

BERMAN: It's a different issue.

NINAN: That's right.

BERMAN: And you have these southern European nation that don't use as much natural gas actually standing up and saying, OK, we'll be here for you now, Germany, just don't bully us next time. But they're actually coming together.

And here in the United States, we've got, what, 44 -- I've lost count -- 44 straight days of gas prices going down. Now, that may not last forever. It may not last forever. And, obviously, you know, gas is fungible. So if there are reductions in Europe, sooner or later it will affect us here.


BERMAN: But this is a trend that consumers should be happy about today.

NINAN: It is a trend. But in the long run, John, I think that this is going to be a really harsh winter. If it's a harsh winter for Europe, we will feel the indications here in the U.S. And the fact that we've all got to sort of figure this out together, I mean, I think this is, from Covid to the war in Russia, just how interconnected this world is. And what happens in one part of the world translates down to us over here as well in the U.S.

BERMAN: Reena Ninan, great to have you here, as always. Thank you so much.

NINAN: See you, guys. Absolutely.

BERMAN: So, brand-new surveillance video from a Dallas airport as a woman opens fire before being taken down by police.

KEILAR: And Sandy Hook families say conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay $150 million in damages. We're going to take you inside the courtroom, next.



KEILAR: We do have some new surveillance video that shows the moments a woman opened fire at Dallas Love Field Airport before she was shot by a police officer. Police say she fired multiple rounds towards the ceiling before Officer Ronald Cronin took her down. And they say before she started shooting, she tried to make an announcement.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Witnesses say Odufuwa started - started to ramble, talk about a marriage, incarceration and that she was going to blow up the airport and then pulls a handgun from her sweatshirt.


KEILAR: Now we're told that she is in stable condition and she has a criminal history and has been prohibited from possess a firearm since 2018. Police are now working to determine a motive here.

In the meantime, the officer is being hailed as a warrior.

BERMAN: Two Sandy Hook families could see millions in damages after a decade long battle against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who called the December 2012 massacre that killed 20 children and six adults a hoax. The family lawyer asking the jury to award $150 million for years of mental anguish.

CNN's Jean Casarez has been tracking all the developments here.

Jean, what have you seen?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this is a jury trial, but a jury trial for money damages. It's already been determined in another trial that Alex Jones defamed the parents of Jesse Lewis, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, and he caused them intentional infliction of emotional distress.

But here's what it all stems from. I'm sure you remember, Jones, a well-known right wing media influencer, gained his fame through content he created to push a narrative that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was fake and the alleged parents were liars. That massacre claimed 26 lives.

I want you to listen to Mark Blankston. He represents those parents. This is during his opening statement.


MARK BLANKSTON, LAWYER REPRESENTING TWO SANDY HOOK FAMILIES: By just one month after the shooting, Alex Jones, who would become patient zero for the Sandy Hook hoax. So, he told his audience that Obama staged Sandy Hook. And not that Obama ordered the murder of those children. But that there were never any children at all.


That the school was fake, that it wasn't an operating school. That the parents were liars, paid actors.


CASAREZ: Now, he went on to tell the jury, the evidence will show that for a decade Jones pushed the Sandy Hook hoax narrative while the father of Jesse Lewis made public pleas to please stop spreading this misinformation.

Here is a part from the defense opening trying to limit any monetary damages.


ANDINO REYNAL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR ALEX JONES: You can assess whether his words made their way to the ears of the plaintiffs. You can assess whether anybody was moved to act by anything that Alex Jones said. And the evidence will show that he did not cause the harassment.


CASAREZ: And the parents are asking a jury to return a verdict of $150 million.

Now, Jones is also being sued by other families of the Sandy Hook victims in Connecticut.

John, this trial is actually in Texas.

BERMAN: These parents have been through so much.

Jean, thank you so much for that. This morning, Taiwan conducting military drills amid heightened

concerns of potential military action by China.

KEILAR: And, no, no, no, that is not actually Nicholas Cage in "Con Air," that is not -- that is Aaron Rodgers walking into training camp with the Green Bay Packers.

So, what's going on here? We're going to talk about it.



KEILAR: Taiwan launching new military exercises in the face of a growing threat from China. In the meantime, tensions are rising between Beijing and the U.S. over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's planned trip to Taiwan next month.

CNN's Selina Wang is live for us in Beijing with the latest here.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, this all angers Beijing so much more on a different scale than other recent U.S. congressional visits to Taiwan because if Pelosi goes, she would be the highest ranking U.S. official to travel there in decades. And China has changed a lot since then. It is more confident, stronger and intolerant of anything it sees as insulting.


WANG (voice over): Fire and fury from Beijing in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's potential visit to Taiwan. China threatening to take resolute and powerful measures. A U.S. official told CNN, China could impose a no fly zone around Taiwan.

A prominent hawkish voice in China said Beijing's reaction would involve a shocking military response, even suggesting that PLA military aircraft will accompany Pelosi's plane to enter the island, making a historic crossing of the island by military aircraft from the mainland. But the Chinese government hasn't announced details about how it could retaliate.

DREW THOMPSON, SCHOLAR: Beijing believes that this uncertainty will lead to deterrents and that Washington and Taipei will effectively talk themselves out of this. But I don't think Beijing really wants to risk a military conflict.

WANG: China sees the self-ruled island as a breakaway province that must be reunified with the mainland, even by force if necessary.

There have been recent U.S. congressional visits, but if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, she would be the highest ranking U.S. official to travel there since then House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997.

WANG (on camera): This potential visit comes at an extremely sensitive time. China's military is celebrating its founding anniversary on August 1st. And we're just months away from a key political meeting when Xi Jinping is expected to seek an unprecedented third term.

From Beijing's perspective, a potential visit by Pelosi to Taiwan would be a reckless act that provokes Beijing at a time it's supposed to be projecting strength, control and stability.

THOMPSON: I think military action on China's part in response to a Pelosi visit is - is very risky for Xi Jinping.

WANG (voice over): Officially, Washington and most governments around the world only acknowledge Beijing as the legal government of China, yet unofficial ties between Washington and Taipei have been growing closer and the U.S. continues to sell weapons to the island. All of that infuriates China.

In response last year, Beijing flew a record number of war planes into air space near Taiwan.

For decades, the U.S. has been purposefully vague about whether it would defend the island should the Chinese invade.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's a commitment we made.

WANG: Biden has said several times that the U.S. would intervene militarily if China were to attack Taiwan.

BIDEN: Yes, we have a commitment to do that.

WANG: Only to have the White House walk back those remarks each time.

But as China's military might grows, more are calling for the Biden administration to end this so-called strategic ambiguity. It's impossible to overstate how important Taiwan is to the communist party and its legitimacy. Beijing is against any move that appears to acknowledge Taiwan as an independent country or makes the U.S. relationship more formal. And a visit from one of America's most powerful politicians does just that.


WANG: But other experts say that this timing actually increases the chances that if Pelosi goes to Taiwan, that China will overreact in order to avoid looking weak during this critical moment. So, the concern is that Xi Jinping finds the visit humiliating, makes a rash move in order to look stronger at home.


KEILAR: We'll be watching.

Selina Wang, thank you for that.

There is some new reporting this morning that the Justice Department is looking at the conduct of former President Trump, looking at his actions surrounding January 6th.


BERMAN: And, right there in black and white, fake electors. We'll show you the newly obtained emails from "The New York Times" from inside the Trump campaign's efforts -- Trump's adviser's efforts to overthrow the election.


BERMAN: Everything looks sunnier this morning after a devastating loss for the Yankees.

Andy Scholes with more in the "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, Andy.


I mean it's not much sunnier in Boston, though, John, I'll have to tell you that. They've lost six of seven, the Red Sox have, last place in the East. So -

KEILAR: Sing it, Andy.

SCHOLES: So, maybe it's sunny in Queens, though, because it was certainly a fun night for Mets fans. It's the first time ever the Mets and Yankees were both in first place when they faced off against each other for the Subway Series.


So, as you can imagine, a playoff-like atmosphere there last night at Citi Field.