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County Official Charged with Killing Las Vegas Reporter; Biden Approves Another Aid Package to Ukraine; Fetterman Agrees to Debate Oz in Future Debate; American Frances Tiafoe Advances in U.S. Open; U.S. Secretary of State Makes Surprise Ukraine Visit. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 08, 2022 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman, with Brianna Keilar on this NEW DAY. What the mayor calls a murder rampage overnight in Memphis. One man in custody. CNN is live on the scene.


And in Las Vegas, an elected official now under arrest after the local reporter who was investigating him was murdered.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening this morning, Trump ally Steve Bannon expected to surrender to New York state prosecutors.

And the death toll in Pakistan now topping 1,300, as never-before-seen flooding leaves one-third of the country under water. CNN's Clarissa Ward is live on the ground.

BERMAN: Four people are dead this morning, three others hurt after a gunman went on a shooting spree in Memphis, Tennessee. A spree that all but shut down that city. Police say the shootings took place -- shooting took place across multiple crime scenes.

It began around 1 a.m. yesterday morning and continued through the late evening hours last night. A shelter-in-place order was issued as police searched for the suspect.

Police say they arrested 19-year-old Ezekiel Kelly after a high-speed chase. The Memphis mayor, Jim Strickland, called it a senseless murder rampage.


MAYOR JIM STRICKLAND (D), MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE: I'm angry for our citizens, who had to shelter in place for their own safety until this suspect was caught. This is no way for us to live. And it is not acceptable.


KEILAR: Mayor Strickland says that the suspect was previously charged with criminal attempted first-degree murder but pled guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated assault in April of 2021. He was sentenced to three years but only served 11 months in prison before being released in March.


STRICKLAND: If Mr. Kelly served his full three-year sentence, he would still be in prison today, and four of our fellow citizens would still be alive.


KEILAR: Kelly also streamed the shootings on social media. Now Facebook's parent company, Meta, says it's working closely with law enforcement.

CNN's Gary Tuchman will be live on the scene here in the next hour.

BERMAN: Overnight, a stunning development in connection with the deadly stabbing of a veteran investigative reporter in Las Vegas. The local elected official who had been the subject of reporting is now charged with his murder.

CNN's Josh Campbell is live in Las Vegas this morning. Josh, nice to see you. What's the latest on this case?


There is so much yet to be learned about the motive in this brutal killing here in Las Vegas, perhaps questions that only the perpetrator can answer.

But one thing is certain and coming into focus. The more we learn, it appears that this acclaimed local investigative reporter may have been targeted for doing that most basic function of journalism: holding the powerful to account.


CAMPBELL (voice-over): A stunning arrest in Las Vegas. Clark County public administrator Robert Telles was taken into custody Wednesday and charged with murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of "Las Vegas Review-Journal" reporter Jeff German.

German was found with multiple stab wounds outside his home Saturday morning.

In May, German filed an investigative report on Telles' office, reporting it was "mired in turmoil and internal dissension over the past two years, with allegations of emotional distress, bullying and favoritism leading to secret videotaping of the boss and a co-worker outside the office."

Telles denied the accusations, but the following month, he lost his primary bid for reelection.

"The Review-Journal" reported German was working on another story at the time of his death. Las Vegas police solicited help from the public on Tuesday, releasing

this video of a suspect dressed in a straw hat, gloves and a bright orange jacket, along with an image of a red SUV.

ARTHUR KANE, VICTIM'S COLLEAGUE AT "LAST VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL": Initially over the weekend we had assumed it was a, you know, robbery gone bad. Police released the picture of this vehicle, and our reporters started to see the Google images of this vehicle that looks like a vehicle just like in Telles' driveway. So that was really concerning and surprising.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): "The Review-Journal" reported police arrived at Telles' home early Wednesday morning and blocked off the surrounding streets.

Police would not provide CNN information on what transpired at the home, but "The Review-Journal" was outside all day and reports that a search warrant was served later that morning.

A red SUV and another vehicle were towed from the home.

Later that afternoon, Telles returned, wearing a white hazmat suit. He was seen exiting a car and entering his home, where he was interviewed by police.

A SWAT team arrived early in the evening, and Telles was arrested, removed from his home on a stretcher.

It's unclear whether he's retained an attorney.

The executive editor of "The Review-Journal" writes, "We are relieved Robert Telles is in custody and outraged that a colleague appears to have been killed for reporting on an elected official. Journalists can't do the important work our communities require if they're afraid a presentation of facts could lead to violent retribution."



CAMPBELL (on camera): Now John, police here aren't commenting on why this local Democratic politician, Robert Telles, is being held. But we can glean from online county jail records that he's being held on suspicion of murder. We're told that his first appearance in court will be this afternoon -- John.

BERMAN: Quite a story. Our thoughts go out to the reporter's family and to the newspaper. Josh Campbell, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

KEILAR: You're looking at live images right now of the New York City criminal courthouse, where hours from now, Trump ally Steve Bannon is expected to surrender on criminal charges linked to his fundraising efforts to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

He's expected to plead "not guilty" at his arraignment this morning. And federal prosecutors had charged Bannon with defrauding donors on the border wall effort back in 2020, but Trump pardoned him just before leaving office. Presidential pardons, of course, do not apply to state investigations.

And this just into CNN: President Biden approving another aid package to Ukraine as the war intensifies and a nuclear power plant remains in the crosshairs.

Let's get to CNN's Kylie Atwood at the State Department with this latest reporting here. Kylie, what do we know about this package?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, the secretary of defense, in Germany alongside his European allies today, announcing this new security assistance. Military assistance to the country, saying it's $675 million. It will include artillery, Humvees, armored ambulances that will be sent to the country. We'll be waiting to hear more details from the Pentagon.

But of course, Brianna, this comes as the secretary of defense also spoke to some successes that the Ukrainians are having as this fight continues alongside -- with the support of their partners, of course. As there has been this counteroffensive that the Ukrainians have begun in the Southern part of Ukraine.

And we're also hearing this morning from the secretary of state of the intent of the Biden administration to provide $2 billion in additional assistance -- they're going to notify Congress of this -- over the course of the next few years here.

Now, what this speaks to is the Biden administration really looking ahead and not just providing continued support to Ukraine as this war continues, but also looking to the medium- and long-term planning to provide that continued military support. It's something that our colleague Barbara Starr at the Pentagon has reported on.

And it is something that the secretary of defense, in Germany today when he announced this new military assistance, spoke to, because he said as this fight evolves, the support from the U.S. and its allies to Ukraine will also have to evolve -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Kylie, thank you so much for the very latest there. We appreciate it.

BERMAN: So in Pennsylvania's much-watched Senate race, Democratic nominee John Fetterman has agreed to a debate with Republican Mehmet Oz, not a specific debate, but he says he intends to debate.

Fetterman said in a statement that he always intended to debate Oz and that the delay was about addressing lingering issues after a stroke he suffered, such as auditory processing.

CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon joins us now. What do you think?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think this is a big deal, and it's the right thing to do for John Fetterman, not necessarily for his self-interest but for the people of his state.

Look, Fetterman has had a serious stroke issue, and he's got to be able to show to his would-be constituents that he can stand and deliver. Auditory issues, that's kind of ominous. There are details to be worked out.

But I will say, "Politico" has got an interesting article out today about how few Senate candidates this cycle are actually willing to debate.


AVLON: It's pathetic.

BERMAN: One of the things I do want to say, to give some context to this debate controversy. I've covered a lot of campaigns in my day, and every campaign that I've covered, there is one candidate who wants to debate less -- to debate less than the others, usually the candidate who's ahead.


BERMAN: So it's not unusual for a candidate to try to minimize the number of debates.

AVLON: Right.

BERMAN: But there are questions here, and as reporters, we always want as much out in the public as we can.

AVLON: It's the right thing to do. It is easier to screw up than to succeed. But the fact that there's this trend away from debating, this cycle more than even past, is pretty squirrely.

BERMAN: So former President Barack Obama, who was at the White House, as we will see in a moment, we've learned that he is going to go out on the campaign trail. Again, not unusual. What is unusual this time, we understand he's going to be campaigning for some secretary of state candidates in certain states.

AVLON: Yes. You never see former presidents campaigning this far down ballot, but it speaks to this issue of defending democracy. These secretary of state races aren't obscure anymore. They're on the front lines of defending democracy.

Because if you get election deniers in those positions, they can start messing with results and further sowing the seeds of dissent and distrust in our democracy.

So the announcement that Obama's gone on the campaign trail, not surprising. He's still hugely popular with Democrats and many independents.

But -- but the fact he's campaigning down ballot really speaks to the seriousness of these races right now.

BERMAN: All right. There is still -- there are still primaries going on.


BERMAN: Which is something really unique to the Northeast, I have to say. But in New Hampshire, there's a Senate primary for the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan.


And there was a debate last night. And one of the subjects that came up in the debate, because process is so important in these things, is Democratic spending that seems intended to boost the Trumpier of the candidates. Let's listen to what happened last night.


KEVIN SMITH (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE CANDIDATE: Washington, D.C., is trying to buy this seat. You have Chuck Schumer, who's flooding the markets right now, the television markets, for Don Bolduc.

DON BOLDUC (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE CANDIDATE: Clearly, Washington, D.C., has no damn idea what they're doing once again, and they're meddling in New Hampshire politics.

CHUCK MORSE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE CANDIDATE: No, I think these third-party ads that are going negative are absolutely wrong. I mean, but where was everybody last week when Chuck Schumer came after me with $6 million?


AVLON: Look, these races are getting federalized even in the primaries. Republican Senate spending a lot of money, because they don't want this former brigadier general, Don Bolduc, to be the nominee. He's someone who's fought with the state's very popular Republican governor, who's declined to endorse him. He's called him a conspiracy theorist. Bolduc's called him a communist sympathizer. It's crazy town.

What's dirty pool is this pattern of Democrats meddling in Republican primaries. We saw it in the Peter Meijer race in Michigan, to great effect. And now they're spending some considerable money trying to boost -- hit Chuck Morris, the former state -- the state Senate president.

Bolduc is really the lightning rail here, but polling showing that he could pull it off, despite no evidence of an ability to raise money.

BERMAN: Right. The Democrats would say -- in their defense, they would say that they think this guy is the easier candidate to beat --

AVLON: Absolutely.

BERMAN: -- in the general election. If they want to elect a Democrat, they want to face this person. That's why they're doing what they're doing. AVLON: Remember, this is a state Biden won by seven points, though. So this primary intrigue continues here in the Granite State.

BERMAN: All right, John Avlon, thank you very much.

So a White House return. The Obamas back in the White House for the unveiling of their official portraits. We have the highlights.

A rare Pacific hurricane on track to make its closest pass to California in 25 years.

KEILAR: And from sleeping in tennis centers to advancing at the U.S. Open, Cinderella man Frances Tiafoe continues his magical run.



KEILAR: This morning the portraits of the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, and first lady Michelle Obama, grace the walls of the White House, marking a return to a long-standing tradition of current presidents honoring their predecessors with the unveiling of their official portraits. Something that did not take place during the Trump presidency.

Here are some highlights from yesterday's ceremony.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When future generations walk these halls and look up at these portraits, I hope they get a better, honest sense of who Michelle and I were. And I hope they leave with a deeper understanding that, if we could make it here, maybe they can, too.

I want to thank Sharon Sprung for capturing everything I love about Michelle. Her grace, her intelligence, and the fact that she's fine.

But what I love about Robert's work is that he paints people exactly the way they are, for better or worse. He captures every wrinkle on your face, refused my request to make my ears smaller. He also talked me out of wearing a tan suit.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY: A girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolly Madison. She was never supposed to live in this house, and she definitely wasn't supposed to serve as first lady.

Traditions like this matter, not just for those of us who hold these positions, but for everyone participating in and watching our democracy.


KEILAR: Former president Obama also took time to praise his former vice president, now President Biden. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You have guided us through some perilous times. You've built on and gone beyond the work we all did together to expand health care, to fight climate change, to advance social justice, and to promote economic fairness.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. President, nothing could have prepared me better or more to become president of the United States than be at your side for eight years, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.


KEILAR: And the artist who painted Michelle Obama's portrait, Sharon Sprung, is going to be joining NEW DAY ahead. Berman, she actually said the hardest part of that painting was the dress. So we'll get a lot more from her ahead.

BERMAN: And also keeping the secret. She had to be quiet about the fact that she painted it forever, too.

KEILAR: And that's all she spent her time doing for months and months and months.

BERMAN: All right. A marathon match at the U.S. Open that lasted five hours and 15 minutes. This match was going on when I woke up.

All right. Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz beat Italy's Jannik Sinner, earning his first semifinal berth. This match ended right there at 2:50 a.m. Two-fifty a.m. in the morning, marking the latest finish ever at the U.S. Open, although I say latest. It's really like the earliest, sort of. You have to turn yourself on your head to figure out exactly how long this match went on.


It's the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Rafael Nadal at the 2005 French Open. He will next face American Frances Tiafoe for a spot in Sunday's final.

Let's talk about Frances Tiafoe.

He made it to the semis in a three-set win over Russia's Andrey Rublev. There he is. This is after, of course, he upset Rafael Nadal in the match before that.

CNN's Erica Hill, tennis star, joins me now.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Yes, yes. Tennis star in her own way.

BERMAN: Joins me now. You know, what a great story.

HILL: It is such a fantastic story. I was excited when I got the call for this assignment yesterday. He has, for people who weren't aware of who he was, he has certainly

brought plenty of -- plenty of people in. He said, "I love to show the world what I can do," talking about how good it makes him feel, how he wants to be a role model, especially for people of color; and he is doing it on the court. Take a look.


FRANCES TIAFOE, U.S. TENNIS PLAYER: Everyone loves a Cinderella story. So I I mean, let's try to make one.

HILL (voice-over): Twenty-four-year-old Frances Tiafoe continuing his magical run at the U.S. Open, defeating world No. 11 Andrey Rublev in straight sets on Wednesday.

TIAFOE: You've got to believe in yourself before anybody else does.

HILL (voice-over): Tiafoe, ranked 26th in the world, is the first American man to reach the U.S. Open semi-finals since 2006 and the first black American man to reach the U.S. Open semifinal since Arthur Ashe in 1972. And he did it in a stadium named for the tennis legend.

TIAFOE: I felt so at home on courts like this, like this court is unbelievable. You guys get so far behind me. You know, I want to play. I want to give my best.

HILL (voice-over): The son of Sierra Leonean immigrants, Tiafoe was introduced to tennis when his father took a job at the Junior Tennis Champion Center in Washington, D.C., in 1999.

Tiafoe, along with his twin brother Franklin, would sometimes stay with their father in a vacant storage room at the center while their mother worked night shifts as a nurse.

While it might be an unusual introduction to tennis, Tiafoe embraced the opportunity. In a 2015 interview with CNN Sport, Tiafoe touched on his upbringing.

TIAFOE: I wouldn't change it for the world. You know, I mean, obviously, I wasn't the wealthy kid or, you know, I wasn't having all the new stuff and whatever, but you know, I was just living life. I mean, I could play tennis for free.

HILL (voice-over): At a young age, Tiafoe showed promise. In February 2012, he appeared in "Sports Illustrated" as part of their "Faces in the Crowd."

In 2013, he won the prestigious Orange Bowl Juniors Tournament. Two years later, he turned pro and was exposed to the rigors of the senior tour.

He reached his first quarter final in 2019 at the Australian Open, losing to Rafael Nadal. Three years later, at the U.S. Open, he stunned the crowd, beating the four-time U.S. Open champion in four sets.

TIAFOE: Blew my mind that he's -- Nadal is out of the way.

HILL (voice-over): And as the last American man standing --

TIAFOE: We've got two more, guys. We've got two more.

HILL (voice-over): -- Tiafoe hopes to bring home the trophy, something he set his eyes on in 2015.

TIAFOE: I want to be top ten in the world, and I want to win the U.S. Open.


HILL: Two more to go. As he said, if you're truly passionate, anything can happen, John. So that anything, Friday, 3 p.m. The good news is if it's that's a really long match, you know, it's daytime.

BERMAN: Sign me up, though. Everyone is behind him. That stadium is going to be -- it's just going to be off the hook.

HILL: It's going to be amazing. It's such a great open in terms of that, too. Right? We're seeing this whole new generation of tennis, I mean, really just coming out there. The crowds are absolutely loving it, and he's loving the crowds. I mean, look, I know what I'm doing tomorrow at 3 p.m. So hopefully, I don't get assigned a different story.

BERMAN: Sign me up. All right. Erica Hill, thank you very much.

KEILAR: Just in to CNN, Secretary of State Tony Blinken is in Ukraine for a surprise trip, so let's go now to the State Department and CNN's Kylie Atwood for the latest on that.

Kylie, what do we know here?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so obviously, a previously unannounced trip for the secretary of state. This is his third time visiting Ukraine this year.

His first was just before the war actually began, before the Russian invasion. His second in April with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. This marks his third visit to the country.

Of course, today we'll watch to see who he meets with. Ukrainian officials, of course, are expected.

And a senior State Department official describes why he is going and saying it is a consequential moment for Ukraine. Because of course, they just marked that six-month anniversary of Russia's invasion, and because they are focused on this counteroffensive in the Southern part of the country.

So the secretary of defense visiting the country to demonstrate continued U.S. support and commitment to the Ukrainians.

And of course, as we were discussing earlier, Brianna, it comes as the secretary of defense just announced $675 million in additional military assistance for Ukraine.


And we're -- we know that the secretary of state, while he is in Ukraine today, is expected to announce the Biden administration's intention of $2 billion in additional investments into Ukraine and the countries along its borders as a commitment of continued support for Ukraine while this war is going on and looking ahead to the future.

So of course, we will watch to see. He continues to be the highest- ranking U.S. official who has visited the country. Of course, President Biden has not visited Ukraine, although the first lady, Jill Biden, has visited the country. And of course, there have been a lot of other world leaders who have visited.

So we'll watch to hear more, but this is just breaking news right now -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Tony Blinken in Ukraine. Kylie, thank you for the latest there.

A new study suggests psychological distress before getting COVID is linked with a higher risk of experiencing long COVID. What is this all about? Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be with us to explain.

BERMAN: Pakistani villages submerged as the death toll from the flooding tops 1,300. Our Clarissa Ward is live in Pakistan coming up.