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Average Gas Price Drops; Primaries in Wisconsin; Petito's Family Sues Police; Colleges Take Action to Prevent Monkeypox Spread; Ashton Kutcher Talks about Illness; Kentucky Braces for More Flooding. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired August 09, 2022 - 06:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, gas prices now at an average of $4.03 a gallon, nearing that $4 a gallon mark for the first time in months and down from a peak of $5.02 in June.

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans is with us now.

More than 55 days of gas prices dropping in fact.


KEILAR: Will this continue?

ROMANS: And half of the states are now below $4 a gallon. I think you'll probably see that $4 national average in the next day or two.

Look, $4.03 a gallon. That's down from $4.70 a month ago. Still above where it was a year ago, but well off that peak above $5.

And I think what it shows you is the consumers started to change behavior at $5 a gallon. You've heard me say this, high prices cure high prices. People finding a way to use less gas. People finding a way to use the car that was more fuel efficient in their driveway, not the big SUV.

And also, we know that the U.S. economy was slowing in the first half of the year, right? That means less demand for gasoline. So we're seeing gas prices come down pretty quickly here.

KEILAR: And consumers are also changing their behavior when it comes to buying meat?

ROMANS: Yes. This is the meat giant Tyson saying that people are trading down. They're choosing chicken instead of expensive cuts of beef. And if you're sticking with beef, you're choosing the less expensive cuts of beef.

And we're really watching all of this very closely for how frugality might be creeping into the American consumer as they're dealing with inflation that hasn't been just a month or two of high inflation, but now several months of very high inflation.

At the same time, though, there is this New York Fed survey just about how people feel, consumers expectations of inflation. And that's actually getting a little bit better. And I think that might be because the gas prices aren't this red alert. You know, it was a red alert at $5. But now, you know, gas prices, you're saving dollars on the tank now from where you were just in the spring. I think people can feel that.

KEILAR: Yes, you feel the dollars. The cents, not always. You definitely feel the dollars.


KEILAR: Christine, thank you so much.

ROMANS: Nice to see you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, today, primary voters in several states head to the polls, including in the key battleground state of Wisconsin.

Here now, CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten.


BERMAN: Sir, in we have another one of these races on the Republican side where you have Mike Pence and Donald Trump supporting different candidates?

ENTEN: Yes, absolutely. So, you know, take a look at the top candidates here. Rebecca Kleefisch, who's the former lieutenant governor, against Tim Michels. Pence is backing Kleefisch, right. Trump is backing Michels.

Here's the one thing I will point out, though, you know, and this is something I think we're going to be talking about all year, especially given what Kansas delivered last week. Kleefisch and Michels both back the state's abortion ban, even as the Democratic governor, Tony Evers, offers clemency for doctors who are prosecuted.

So, yes, this is a Pence versus Trump matchup. But on a lot of the issues, these candidates actually agree.

BERMAN: We are seeing abortion come into play, not just in Wisconsin either.

ENTEN: No. You know - you know, one of the things I'm going to be looking at these Great Lake battleground states, right, that are so pivotal in presidential elections. All the Democratic or likely Democratic nominees back abortion rights in these states. All the Republican, or likely nominees, or, in fact, want to basically mostly ban abortion. But if you extrapolate out those Kansas results last week, it suggests that most of the voters in these states do, in fact, back abortion rights. So that's going to be one of the key things that I'm going to be looking at in these key - now, gubernatorial, not just presidential battleground states.

BERMAN: There's a key Senate race in Wisconsin as well?

ENTEN: Yes, there is. This, I thought, was going to be a very interesting Democratic primary but all the other top candidates withdrew from the primary. So, Mandela Barnes, who's the current lieutenant governor, is going to most likely take on Ron Johnson, the -- obviously the incumbent Republican senator.

Keep in mind, Ron Johnson, very conservative, very conservative from the state of Wisconsin. He, in fact, signed a letter intending to object to the electoral votes in 2020 in, quote/unquote disputed state but did not ultimately vote to object. But this is going to be a key, key race come the fall for control.

BERMAN: And look, when you're talk about control, these Great Lakes or northern battlegrounds could be decisive.

ENTEN: They could very well be. You know, we've spent a lot of time talking about sort of those southern battlegrounds in the sunbelt, Georgia, Arizona, but these northern battleground states could also be very, very important.


New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. Remember, Trump, in 2016, vastly outperformed Romney in all these, but Biden won these all.

Here's the key thing I'll be keeping an eye out for in the fall, white voters without college degrees make up the majority of voters in all of these states. So this is going to be one of those tests whether or not those inroads that Trump made among white voters without college degrees actually stick without him being on the ballot or in the presidency.

BERMAN: I said Great Lake states because I do include Lake Winnipesaukee as a Great Lake in New Hampshire, just to be clear.

We're talking about local races. We've seen Donald Trump get involved in state-wide big races, but he also seems to be very interested in some smaller races as well, particularly in Wisconsin.

ENTEN: Yes, I didn't think in my lifetime I'd be covering the Wisconsin 63rd state assembly primary, but here we are. And the reason for that is because Trump is backing Adam Steen over the very conservative assembly speaker Robin Vos.

Why? Because Trump wanted Vos to overturn the 2020 election, which Vos said he couldn't do.

BERMAN: We're talking about weeks ago.

ENTEN: Weeks ago. Yes.

BERMAN: We're not talking about in 2021. We're talking about a few weeks ago he wanted Vos to overturn the election. ENTEN: I mean it's sort of crazy to think about. And he held a rally

last week in which he was backing Steen saying Vos wouldn't do it. It's sort of this tap dance that Trump has gone back and forth with Vos. But, ultimately, decided to go against Vos because he wanted him to do something he couldn't actually do.

ENTEN: All right, let's talk about Vermont, shall we, because history is likely or could very well be made in the Senate there.

ENTEN: You know, I stuck this slide in for you, Mr. Berman, because I love this man right here and I wanted to give him a little fun at the end of the segment.

Look, the 2022 Democratic Vermont Senate primary. This is to succeed the retiring Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy in a state Biden won by 35 points. So, this is likely going to go Democrat in the fall.

If the Democrat wins the general election, he would be, or she would be, only the second Democratic senator from the state of Vermont. Of course, the first one is Patrick Leahy.

BERMAN: It is a great trivia question.

Harry Enten, thank you so much. Nice to see you.

ENTEN: Thank you, my friend.

BERMAN: So, Anne Heche in critical condition this morning as investigators await a blood test following her fiery car crash. We have new details ahead.

KEILAR: And did police officers in Utah fail Gabby Petito. The new steps that er family is taking this morning.



KEILAR: New this morning, Gabby Petito's family is suing the Moab City, Utah, Police Department for $50 million. You may recall that officers pulled over Petito and her fiance, Brian Laundrie, last year after a witness claimed he saw them fighting. The pair ultimately went on their way and Petito's body was found about a month later.

CNN's Jean Casarez has the details.


GABBY PETITO: Never goes outside.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A cross-country road trip that ended in tragedy may soon be the subject of a lawsuit. Attorneys for Gabby Petito's family announced their intention to sue the Moab City Police Department in Utah.

JIM MCCONKIE, ATTORNEY FOR GABBY PETITO'S FAMILY: Gabby's parents are bringing this lawsuit to honor Gabby's legacy by working to save the lives of victims of domestic violence, throughout the United States and the world.

CASAREZ: Petito's family is seeking $50 million in damages for negligence and wrongful actions by the department that the family alleges contributed to Gabby's death. The notice of the claim, obtained by CNN, names not only the Moab City Police Department, but also four employees, including its former chief and former assistant chief and the two officers who interacted with Petito and her fiance Brian Laundrie.

NICHOLE SCHMIDT, GABBY PETITO'S MOM: This is just bringing back what he -- sorry. This is what I (INAUDIBLE), we're going to do whatever we can. That's why we're here.

CASAREZ: According to the document, Petito's family claims that the department and its officers negligently failed to understand and enforce Utah state laws, investigate Laundrie's, quote, self-evidently false claims, properly train their officers on investigating domestic violence incident, properly assess the circumstances, including, quote, to identify Brian as the true primary aggressor.

CNN reached out to the city of Moab on Monday for comment but a city spokesperson told CNN that, quote, the city does not comment on pending litigation.

Petito and Laundrie left Florida for their road trip in June of 2021. They were traveling through Moab on August 12th when police responded to a domestic depute call. A 911 caller reported seeing a man, quote, slapping the girl. Body camera video showed Petito and Laundrie admitting to having a fight in which Petito said she struck her fiance first. But the couple seemed to minimize the incident.

BRIAN LAUNDRIE: She just gets worked up sometimes and I try and really distance myself from her.

CASAREZ: According to the police report, officers suggested the couple separate for the night and no charges were filed. Earlier this year, an independent investigator found that Moab City Police officers made, quote, several unintentional mistakes in the domestic violence response, and called for more training for officers.

BRIAN STEWART, ATTORNEY FOR GABBY PETITO'S FAMILY: We do agree with the findings of the investigative report that the officers failed to recognize the serious danger that she was in and failed to investigate fully and properly. They did not have the training that they needed to recognize the clear signs that were evident that morning, that Gabby was a victim and that she was in serious need of immediate help.

CASAREZ: The investigator said he could not say whether a different response could have prevented Petito's death.


CASAREZ: And the legal filing cites several specific examples. Gabby had some abrasions on her face. They appeared to be fresh because, in the video you see, she touches them and she says they hurt. They never documented those abrasions.

Brian had some marks on his arm. They did document them. Gabby said, oh, it's my fault, I hit him first, but they took that at face value and made her the dominant aggressor.


If there had been any arrests, she would have been arrested for domestic violence. And another example, Brian, in the beginning, said, I really don't have a cell phone. But then later on in the over hour- long period of time the officers were there, he takes out a phone from his pocket, and, according to the legal filing, gives him the -- his cell phone number.

KEILAR: That is so interesting and also so important to know for other cases as well, Jean.

CASAREZ: It will be interesting to see what happens here because it's a very creative suit. And if domestic violence charges had been filed against Brian, they believe she would be alive today.

KEILAR: Jean, thank you for that report.

A growing concern this morning that college campuses could soon become hot spots for the monkeypox virus. So, how are schools preparing here?

BERMAN: And Ashton Kutcher revealing his battle with a rare disease that left him unable to see or hear. Why he says he is lucky to be alive.


BERMAN: There is growing concern this morning that college campuses could become monkeypox hot spots this fall with millions of students attending college and university in the coming days and weeks. Preparations are underway to try to reduce the risk.

CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard joins us now.

Jacqueline, what are -- what are these campuses doing to get ready?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Well, John, I can tell you some colleges and universities are having these ongoing discussions around response because the concern here is real. When you think about a college campus and how students have close contact with each other, that can provide the perfect opportunity for a virus to potentially spread.


And some students will be traveling from all over the world to continue their education this fall.

But my colleagues at CNN Health, they did reach out to some colleges and universities about this. Texas A&M, Florida A&M, Elon University, and they all said that they already have infectious disease protocols in place to respond to an outbreak of any illness. And those protocols could be applied to monkeypox.

They include, right here, educating students about the virus, having testing capabilities, having isolation policies in case a student does test positive. And isolation is key because what we know about how the virus spreads, it's through close, personal contact. That includes skin-to-skin contacts. That includes direct face-to-face, intimate contact. Having direct contact with the monkeypox rash or scabs that the infection causes and having direct contact with contaminated objects, like bed sheets or utensils.

So, of course, John, this is all important for universities and colleges to keep in mind, especially if an institution is based in a city that already has a high number of cases.


BERMAN: All right, Jacqueline Howard, something to think about as the kids head back to school.


BERMAN: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: Ashton Kutcher says he's lucky to be alive after battling a serious autoimmune disease that affected his hearing, his sight and even his ability to walk. He revealed this on a new episode of National Geographic's "Running Wild with Bear Grylls."


ASHTON KUTCHER, ACTOR: It like knocked out my vision, knocked out my hearing -


KUTCHER: And knocked out like all my equilibrium. It took me like a year to like build it all back up. You don't really appreciate it until it's gone. Until you go, I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to see again. I don't know if I'm ever going to able to hear again.


KUTCHER: I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to walk again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, what an ordeal. Talk about strength through adversity.

KUTCHER: Lucky to be alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lucky to be alive.


KEILAR: CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is with us now. I mean this is a surprise to us. What is this that he was suffering


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. He hasn't talked about it before. And a lot of people haven't heard of vasculitis. So, vasculitis, very simply, is inflation of blood vessels. Your immune system attacks itself and this happens. Most of the time the cause is unknown. Every so often they say oh it's - there's a genetic factor or there's a medicine you were taking, but usually the cause is unknown. And the severity can really vary. It sounds like Mr. Kutcher had it quite severely. But you can also have just a mild case. And there are various drugs that are used to treat it.

The symptom, it can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms vary. So, it restricts blood flow to various places. He mentioned his eyes, for example, or his ears. And so, it can manifest in various different ways. You might just be tired. You might have swollen hands. You might have red spots on your hands. It really varies and it can make the diagnosis tough.

BERMAN: Thank you very much, Elizabeth Cohen. Appreciate it.

KEILAR: So, we have some brand-new details about the FBI's search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. How this all went down and what could be inside the safe that Trump says was broken into.



BERMAN: Flood watches in effect in Kentucky this morning, just hours after President Biden and the first lady surveyed damage from the flooding disaster that has killed at least 37 people there.

Let's get right to meteorologist Chad Myers.

Chad, how do things look this morning?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, when you look at the pictures yesterday of the president and you look at the ground next to him, it's still a saturated mess. And only one or two inches of rainfall in an hour will take those streams and rivers and put them back out of their banks because there's no place for it to soak in. Flash flood watches in effect this morning.

This weather brought to you by Safelite, your vehicle glass and recalibration experts.

So, let's get to it. We're looking at widespread rain? No. But there will be thunderstorms that just don't want to move for a couple of days. These big spots of red, those are four inches or more. Now, it's not widespread. Just a shield of rain. It's the thunderstorms, the tropical-like storms. When the rain falls down, the rain is so big is looks like a hail drop. Look, it really does. It's so big when it comes down because we're in tropical moisture. The cold front gets here tomorrow and it cools things down, especially for the northeast. Today is a hot day for the northeast. Heat advisories, 104, 105, no problem whatsoever. And that's even for Philadelphia. And this is in the shade. So, keep those numbers in mind.

But that cold front does get to you. Drops you down ten degrees. Good news there, John.

BERMAN: We need it.


BERMAN: All right, Chad Myers, thank you very much.

MYERS: You bet.

BERMAN: And NEW DAY continues right now.

KEILAR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Tuesday, August 9th, I'm Brianna Keilar, with John Berman.

And it is without historic precedent. The FBI searching the private residence of a former president. Agents descending on Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort early Monday morning, executing a search warrant.


We're told that it's part of the investigation into Trump's mishandling of classified documents, taking them from the White House to Mar-a-Lago.