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New Day Saturday

More Than 300 March For Our Lives Rallies Planned Across The U.S.; Gun Safety Advocates Call For New Laws To Combat Violence; Jan. 6 Committee Lays Out Case Blaming Trump For Riot; National Gas Price Average Hits All-Time High Of $5 A Gallon; Fire, Police Departments Strained By Sky-High Gas Prices. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired June 11, 2022 - 08:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Buenos dias, good morning, and welcome to your "New Day." I'm Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. We're so grateful to have you with us here.

Well, they are demanding action today, marchers are plans to hit the streets in dozens of states. Today, demonstrators are calling for tougher action on gun control, of course their message to lawmakers who are working to hammer out a deal.

SANCHEZ: Plus, the January 6 committee taking its case public laying out how the insurrection happened and what the country's leaders were doing at the time. We're going to talk to one former officer who was there and injured and the attack on the Capitol.

PAUL: And a new painful record high at the pump. I am sorry to tell you the average cost of gas now topping $5 a gallon this morning. This is not just everyday drivers obviously being impacted. How emergency crews now are trying to save as well.

SANCHEZ: Plus, a new Saudi backed golf league luring some big names and reportedly handing out even bigger payments. The controversy surrounding the new league.

It's Saturday June 11th. We are grateful that you are starting your day and your weekend with us. Good morning, Christi.

PAUL: Good morning to you Boris.

Let's talk about this national call for gun reform this morning. Hundreds are marching for our lives rallies. They're planning in nearly all 50 U.S. states today demanding that lawmakers address the epidemic of gun violence in the country.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a series of high-profile mass shootings from Uvalde, Texas to Buffalo, New York, have reignited outrage and put renewed pressure on lawmakers on Capitol Hill to take some form of action. Washington D.C., New York and Parkland, Florida among the more than 300 cities where protests are going to be held. They of course follow the 2018 march that was organized by former students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. You'll recall in February of 2018, a former student entered the school near Fort Lauderdale, and opened fire, killing 14 students and three staff members.

We have CNN's Whitney Wild standing by on the National Mall but first we want to go to Nadia Romero who's live in Parkland for us.

Nadia, the shooting there was the driving force behind the first march in 2018. What are we expecting to see in Parkland today?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Boris. That's exactly right. It was about a month after that Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, back in 2018. So here we are more than four years later, and many are asking what has changed and what more could be done.

So today, you will have another March For Our Lives here in Parkland and really all across the country. What we saw four years ago were people having this moment of solidarity, where we saw high school students doing walkouts in solidarity with students here in Parkland. And now we're doing it again because of those recent shootings in Buffalo, New York, and most recently in Uvalde. And that elementary school in Texas.

So here in Parkland, we will have a big rally that will happen. You can see people are still setting up behind me that happens in about an hour outside here at the amphitheater. And then there will be a march for about a mile. Now this has been organized by students who are leading the charge yet again, asking for gun reform, asking for change. And you'll hear from some of those students. You'll also hear from local lawmakers who have been pushing for that change here in the state of Florida and across the country. And we know that this is not just something that we've seen here in Parkland, we're seeing shootings happening all across the country. And if you'll remember back in 2016, on June 12, so tomorrow, we'll mark it will be six years since the nightclub shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

So the shootings keep happening and you continue to have these calls for change. People hoping today that that will actually turn into action for lawmakers in D.C. Boris.

PAUL: All right, hey, thank you so much. We appreciate it, Nadia.

I want to go to Whitney Wild now because this we said she is there in Washington D.C. Do we have any idea and a good gauge Whitney of how large we believe that rally will be today?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could be up to tens of thousands of people Christi their permit alone suggested that 60,000 people could descend on this event. But the last time it came to Washington, it was absolutely massive. And it was again organized by children who felt like the call for via -- the call to end violence fell on their shoulders, their young shoulders. And today, those kids who were just in high school at the time are now graduating from college. And it feels like it was so long ago, 2018 feels so long ago, but it's a short. It's really a short period of time. But it feels so long, Christi because there have been so many mass shootings since then.


And so, a long list of speakers here today, all of whom are survivors of gun violence are going to pose this question, which is, look how much has happened, how many more people have to die before there is real action on gun reform here in Washington. This comes at a pivotal moment, the Supreme Court said to take up a Second Amendment case set to release the opinion on a Second Amendment case out of New York. So huge moments here in Washington, especially as Capitol Hill grapples with what to do about gun reform.

So today, again, we expect tens of thousands of people and you will hear just gut-wrenching stories from the survivors of gun violence that affects so many different facets of society. The other message here today, Christi and Boris, is that this isn't just about mass shootings in soft target locations like you know, like supermarkets, like schools. It is about gun violence that's affecting people here in the United States every single day and neighborhoods all across the country. Back to you.

SANCHEZ: Whitney Wild and Nadia Romero, we will be watching these marches throughout the day. Thank you for giving us a preview of what to expect.

So, as Whitney just alluded to the marches come as lawmakers face renewed pressure to take any form of action on gun safety legislation. Despite widespread opposition on the right, negotiators believe they will have more than the 10 Republican votes that are needed to pass a bill in the Senate.

PAUL: CNN's Daniella Diaz is with us from Capitol Hill. Daniella, always good to see you.

Senator Chris Murphy yesterday said both sides were on the precipice of a deal. When can we expect to learn first of all, what is in it? And what the real gauge of optimism is for an actual passage here?

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Christi, negotiators told us that they're so close to a framework that we could possibly get an announcement from the group that bipartisan group as early as this weekend or even next week, that's huge. Look, this group has been working tirelessly since the Uvalde shooting and there are some Republicans including a chief Republican negotiator at Texas Senator John Cornyn, who are negotiating with Democrats on some sort of framework on gun safety reform. We have not seen this in years. This is incredibly notable, you know, they referenced the previous reporters reference those shootings in Florida. There was Sandy Hook that elementary school shooting and nothing happened after those terrible, terrible horrific shootings. And now it seemed after Uvalde and after Buffalo that there could be something done. Now, House Democrats are working very hard. They actually pass an array of bills to address gun violence, including a bill that would raise the legal buying age from 18 to 21 for some semi-auto -- centrify -- fire rifles. They also have something that would let local governments run buyback programs. These are really extensive measures that probably won't be included in whatever the bipartisan group comes up with. They've been working on trying to do something that's more narrow, something that's more focused, that could get Republican support.

But I do want to say Christi, Boris that Senator Chris Murphy told CNN this week that he is optimistic that whatever framework they come up with, they will get at least 10 Republicans on board to break that 60 vote threshold for the filibuster and pass legislation in the Senate. I cannot emphasize enough that will be very, very huge if they're able to do that.

SANCHEZ: Daniella Diaz, live from Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

So, more than 300 marches are scheduled worldwide throughout the weekend calling for new gun safety laws. The anti-gun violence organization, Marching For Our Lives was formed by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. The local chapter is led by students in the community, including our next guest. Zoe Weissman attended the middle school next door to Stoneman Douglas but was actually on campus working on a project when the attack happened. Zoe's mom Heather is also joining us.

We appreciate you both sharing part of your Saturday with us. I imagine it's going to be a very busy day for you. Zoe, I'm wondering what you're hoping will come out of the marches this weekend.

ZOE WEISSMAN, DIRECTOR, PARKLAND CHAPTER OF MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: Yes, so I think what I in March realized as a whole is really hoping is that our politicians listen to us. For four years we've been continuing to fight and we're still here and we're not going to stop until our politicians realize that we're being killed every single day. And we're not going to stop until they pass comprehensive policy that prevents gun violence in our country.


SANCHEZ: And Zoe, are you optimistic hearing the news that these lawmakers are on the precipice of a deal that enough Republicans are coming to the table with Democrats to pass some form of gun safety legislation?

Z. WEISSMAN: Yes, I am hopeful. I think all movements need some hope in order to keep moving forward. But at the same time, we've seen it again and again, our politicians disappointing us. So I'm really hopeful. But at the same time, I really hope that Congress follows through with this plan. Because fortunately, we've seen that we've had opportunities before, and our Congress has passed out on them.

SANCHEZ: And I'm wondering what your message is to those lawmakers on the right who believe that any form of gun safety legislation, red flag laws or raising the age to buy a weapon, they believe that that infringes on their constitutional rights. I'm wondering what you would say to that argument.

Z. WEISSMAN: I just hope that those politicians listen to what I have to say today and realize that if I was their child, they would think much differently. There are blood continues to be on their hands, the more that they claim that their rights are being infringed by our right to life. And so, I would say to those politicians that we will not stop fighting. And we will not stop until we get comprehensive gun violence prevention.

SANCHEZ: What are you hearing from other young people that are in your organization that are helping to put this together? How are they feeling about this?

Z. WEISSMAN: We're all feeling hopeful. But we're also all really angry after Uvalde and Buffalo, it struck a chord for us in Parkland, brought back the same feelings. So while we are hopeful, we're really enraged. And I think that's what's powering us right now.

SANCHEZ: Heather, I'm wondering how you feel about the work that your daughter is doing. She's a very young activist, but clearly she's very passionate about this.

HEATHER WEISSMAN, ZOE WEISSMAN'S MOTHER: Very passionate, you know, she was next door at West glades when it's all happened. She was outside at West glades, and she heard the shots. And she's been devastated ever since that for the community for all the families that lost loved ones, wonderful, wonderful people that are not going to college now, you know, just devastated. And she instead of just staying, you know, silent, she stood up in seventh grade, she started getting involved in March For Our Lives through the state. She was the policy fund manager, the youngest person on the board. And now three years later, she's still fighting.

And I'm amazed at what she's accomplished. She put this all together today. I mean, she pulled permits, she called the police department to get police here, you know, porta party (ph) she did all the logistics at the beginning, and then care -- and then carry through with all these wonderful volunteers that have helped us make this come true today. And we have to fight for, like Zoe said, for comprehensive gun laws. These are simple things are nonpartisan issues that we all have to follow through with we are all people that love our children love all the communities of all these people with gun violence, and we have to make a change.

So, we really appreciate you having Zoe's platform to share her voice in which he's been working so hard for all these years. So thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course, it's our duty to report what's happening in the world. And obviously, this is an important cause for a lot of people. And Zoey, I understand that March For Our Lives isn't the only nonprofit that you work with. You're also doing other things to help survivors. Tell us about that.

Z. WEISSMAN: Yes, so I started a nonprofit called Heal Together. It's a national support group for teenagers who have survived gun violence in any capacity, whether that'd be a mass shooting, whether that be everyday gun violence. And we're launching this summer. And we're basically going to have a virtual support group. Because what I found through my experience as someone who survived a school shooting, and also someone who develop PTSD, is that it really helps when you're with other people that understand what you're going through.

SANCHEZ: And sadly, there are more and more people that will need the resources that you're trying to offer. As we've seen again, and again, these events are tragic, and hopefully, something will change and there'll be prevented in the future.

Zoe and Heather Weissman, thank you so much for the time. We appreciate you.

Z. WEISSMAN: Thank you.

H. WEISSMAN: Thank you so much. Thank you.

PAUL: Well, congressional investigators believe that January 6 was a failed coup by former President Donald Trump. Monday's live hearing is promising more details about what was happening at the White House that day. Will get a preview next.

Also, another big name joins the Saudi golf tournament. And it's suspended by the PGA Tour. Why are so many top golfers willing to risk their careers? That's coming up.



PAUL: Eighteen minutes past the hour right now. The January 6 committee is holding its next hearing on Monday. And they're going to focus on former President Trump's effort to spread false information about the 2020 election.

SANCHEZ: Now it comes just days after the committee's initial primetime hearing on Thursday that laid out in detail how the attack unfolded and included a stunning allegation.

CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has details.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The impact being felt from the first hearing of the January 6 committee as they set the stage for what's to come. Some Republicans are working to discredit the findings, while the former president is reacting to this stunning allegation.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Aware of the rioters chance to hang Mike Pence, the President responded with this sentiment, quote, maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence quote, deserves it.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Trump responding, I never said or even thought of saying hang Mike Pence. This is either a made up story by somebody looking to become a star or fake news.

The committee's first hearing focused on Trump's central role encouraging the rioters. And his monthslong efforts to discredit the election, leading to what the committee called an attempted coup.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Donald Trump was at the center of this conspiracy. And ultimately, Donald Trump, the President of the United States spirit a mob of domestic enemies of the Constitution, to march down the Capitol and subvert American democracy.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The committee is making its case with a parade of Trump administration officials and family members who have given depositions over the past year. Former Attorney General Bill Barr spoke forcefully about how he told Trump the election was clean. And the president's daughter agreed.

WILLIAM BARR, FMR U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff which I told the President (INAUDIBLE). And, you know, I didn't want to be a part of it. And that's one of the reasons that went into me deciding to leave when I did.

IVANKA TRUMP, FMR WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: I respect Attorney General Barr. So I accepted what he sent was saying.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Trump is downplaying his daughter's involvement. Writing on his truth social platform, Ivanka Trump was not involved in looking at or studying election results. She had long since checked out and was in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr and his position as Attorney General. He sucked.

And one Republican is denied he asked for a pardon from the President after Vice Chair Cheney said this.

CHENEY: Representative Perry contacted the White House in the weeks after January 6, to seek a presidential pardon. Multiple other Republican Congressman also sought presidential pardons for their roles and attempting to overturn the 2020 election.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Congressman Perry tweeting, the notion that I ever sought a presidential pardon for myself or other members of Congress is an absolute shameless and soulless lie.

And President Biden weighing in on the hearings saying the future of democracy is at stake.

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: It's important the American people understand what truly happened. And to understand that the same forces that led January 6 remain at work today.

SCHNEIDER (on-camera): The committee has already laid out a roadmap for what's ahead. There are three hearings next week starting Monday. Those will focus on Trump's months long effort to spread false information about the election, even though he and his advisers were told repeatedly, Trump had lost.

Plus, the former Fox News political editor who was fired weeks after the election after he called Arizona for Biden, he says he will be a witness Monday.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


SANCHEZ: Thanks, Jessica for that report. Let's discuss the committee's work and its impact now with CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, and CNN law enforcement analyst and former D.C. Metro Police Officer Michael Fanone. We should note Officer Fanone was brutally attacked by rioters on January 6 than he was actually in the room during the committee's hearing on Thursday. And that's where I want to start.

Gentlemen, thanks, both of you for joining us.

Michael, what do you hope the American people take from these hearings? What's the central message you hope that comes across?

MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I actually, I really, to be honest with you, I'm just no longer concerned with trying to convince the American people of the severity of January 6. I think it's a good reminder. But unfortunately, I think that the task has proven too difficult to convince people that live outside of Washington, D.C. and the surrounding suburbs, that the attack on our democracy was serious, significant and ongoing. What I'm really looking for is more movement and the Department of Justice.

SANCHEZ: So Michael, staying with you, what do you say to those folks who are ignoring or dismissing the committee's work? Those that, as you're suggesting, are not in the bubble, so to speak?

FANONE: Well, January 6 happened. It was violent. It was part of an insurrectionist plot. I think we started to see the groundwork laid in it. You know, what I thought was very comprehensive opening statement, a very prosecutorial risk, but I'll let Elie speak to that.

They know that they're lying. That's what it boils down to. The politicians, the pundits who say that January 6, was anything short of a violent insurrection are lie.

SANCHEZ: Elie, let's dig in on one aspect of this that Michael alluded to. We've heard the committee use the word out conspiracy multiple times and you pointed out that there's a difference between the legal term conspiracy and the more broad idea that this plot against the certification of the election was actually just spontaneous or put together by folks that were supporting Donald Trump.


Walk us through that distinction and why it's so important?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Boris. So Michael just made really a key point that I think we're hearing from the committee, which is, this was not just some demonstration that got a little carried away. This was the result of a month long plot. Now we've heard the word conspiracy, and there's really two meanings. There's an everyday meaning in the sense that you or I might use it in casual conversation. To mean any sort of plan with an evil motive and evil intent. I don't think there's any question when you look at the evidence that we have this here.

If you look at the committee, seven bullet points that they're going to lay out for us, the first five of them all predate January 6. So this is something that was deliberate that was planned, that was a conspiracy in the ordinary, everyday usage of the term.

The bigger question, and again, Michael alluded to this is will it make it -- make out a criminal conspiracy that the U.S. Department of Justice will charge, and that means an agreement, a meeting of the minds between two or more people to commit a specific crime. And I think with that in mind, that committee very much has been gearing its presentation, yes, to the American public, but also to the U.S. Department of Justice.

SANCHEZ: Well, the committee's chairman Bennie Thompson tells CNN that they have proof that there was a relationship between these extremist groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys and members of Donald Trump's inner circle. What do you think the committee needs to present to put pressure on the DOJ to go ahead and press charges?

HONIG: Well, I think a lot of it depends on the strength of the evidence take Representative Thompson statement that there was conversations is the phrase he used between these extremists and people in Donald Trump's orbit. OK, what kind of conversations, how specific were they and who in the orbit, those are both very general terms that I think Chairman Thompson was using intentionally, we will see what the evidence is.

But Boris, I do want to point out, this is a backwards world here. Ordinarily, prosecutors lead the way. When I was at the Justice Department and for a long time before I was there, if you got when that some other entity, Congress or regulatory agency was investigating the same thing as you were, you would back them off, because prosecutors are the ones who really have the tools to investigate fully and quickly here and the fact that DOJ seems to be riding the coattails of the committee, kudos to the committee for doing exceptional work. But I think that's a bad look and a bad indicator for where DOJs at.

SANCHEZ: Michael, one of the most emotional moments from Thursday night came when Officer Caroline Edwards shared some of the names that she'd been called since the insurrection, the treatment that she received. I know that you have faced some of that firsthand as well. How did hearing her story make you feel?

FANONE: Well, first, I'm extremely proud of Caroline Edwards, not just for her performance on January 6, she's a warrior, but also for her courage in testifying before the committee. My concerns are that her experience will in any way resemble my experience. I hope the law enforcement community knows how lucky they are to have her amongst their ranks. Unfortunately, my experience, I'm no longer able to celebrate my career in law enforcement. The rhetoric that I was called on January 6, pales in comparison to what I experienced from co- workers and colleagues and from Americans across the country. The worst of it being referred to as a disgrace to the batch.

SANCHEZ: That is disgraceful. That's a shame that your courage would be received that way. We got to leave the conversation there. Michael Fanone, Elie Honig, we hope you'll come back to discuss because these hearings are important, perhaps not for swaying public sentiment, as you alluded to Michael, but certainly for documenting history for future generations. Thank you both.

FANONE: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course. We do have a quick programming note for you. You can watch a CNN special report on Alex Jones on Sunday night. You don't want to miss "MEGAPHONE FOR CONSPIRACY" at 8:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

PAUL: Well across the U.S., skyrocketing gas prices are starting to affect emergency services now. We're speaking with the head of a fire department in Pennsylvania who has to keep the station operating with these unprecedented fuel costs. He's going to tell us how's he -- how he's doing it. That's next, stay close.



PAUL: Sorry to tell you, U.S. gas prices are hitting a new all-time high. The national average as of this morning is now $5 a gallon. And some states are seeing much higher prices than that. One gas station in Northern California charging nearly $10 a gallon at the pump.


These record high fuel prices are starting to impact emergency services now. So let's talk to fire chief Ed Saliba, he's with the New Kensington, Pennsylvania Fire Department. He has a team of dedicated firefighters. But, man, are they feeling it? Chief Saliba, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you so much. I understand that you have five volunteer stations. How have prices affected your operations?

CHIEF ED SALIBA, NEW KENSINGTON, PA FIRE DEPARTMENT: Well, the price of fuel is higher than it's ever been. This morning, the consumer stations is $5 a gallon for gasoline, $6 for diesel. I know that on Thursday, we topped off the tank on our river rescue boat and it was 729 a gallon on the river. It has really started to hit us a little hard. We've cut back on driver's training. But we're very fortunate that our city takes good care of us. And we're able to get the fuel with the city pumps.

PAUL: OK, so you get in a -- and I had read that you do really appreciate how the city is taking care of the emergency services there. I understand you have six pumpers, a ladder truck and 10 support utilities. Are you able to deploy all of those resources at this time?

SALIBA: Yes. Tanks are always kept for on all of our rigs. And we do make sure that everything is ready to go in every situation.

PAUL: Do you have --

SALIBA: We have 83 indicated volunteer firefighters that man, the five stations that are strategically located throughout the city. But for right now, we've cut back on driver's training and unnecessary trips. Emergency use only right now.

PAUL: Is there a point where you look at your operations and think we're going to have to cut something else out? And how do you make that decision?

SALIBA: Well, at this point, we're in good shape. And the city administrator, the city treasurer, the city comptroller, they have not said anything yet. But we took measures ahead of times just to try to save as much as we can for the city.

PAUL: OK. So I understand to -- when you think about these five volunteer stations, these are volunteers who are spending their own money to drive into work for you. Are you fully staffed? And has anybody come to talk to you about potentially cutting back hours?

SALIBA: Well, we do not staff our stations 24 hours a day as a volunteer organization. We do have some of the stations. There are people that madness stations during the day, a couple of each station. Sometimes at one of the stations, there's a crew in the evening hours. But you have to understand, a lot of these volunteer firefighters are working in the city of Pittsburgh, which is 20, 25 minutes away from us.

They're officers at their respective companies, and they sit on various committees within the fire department. We have an ambulance corps, we have a relief association, and our Ways and Means Committee. Some of these members sit on all three committees, and there's many meetings per month on top of answering calls and I am sure that these members are spending a lot extra on fuel. But I have to say in the last couple of months, not one of them has complained about anything regarding the fire department because of their dedication.

PAUL: Fire Chief Ed Saliba, you are doing a great job maneuvering and navigating through what I know is a very difficult situation for so many people and families right now. Thank you so much for all you do. Take good care.

SALIBA: Thank you.

PAUL: Of course.

SANCHEZ: For decades, golfer Phil Mickelson, lefty, has played on the PGA Tour. But this weekend he's teeing off in an event backed by Saudi Arabia and that has gotten him and several other golfers suspended by the pro tour. So why did he do it? We'll take a closer look after a quick break. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


SANCHEZ: The list of golfers joining the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf series is growing and that's despite the PGA Tour suspending 17 golfers for participating in it and warning the same is going to happen to any golfer that plays in that series.

PAUL: And Bryson DeChambeau is the latest to join. Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson, former world number one, Dustin Johnson are headlining the event. Here's CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Top sports figures again converging with politics and drawing controversy. The PGA Tour has suspended some of golf's biggest stars who've decided to play in a new breakaway golf series called LIV Golf, backed by a Saudi wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the man who, U.S. intelligence said, approve the operation which led to the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post Columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, which bin Salman has denied.


DANIEL RAPAPORT, STAFF WRITER, GOLF DIGEST: These are significant names in the world of golf who are making this jump to this new entity and the PGA Tour finds himself in a really, really precarious position.

TODD (voice-over): The biggest names to jump to the Saudi series, former world number one player Dustin Johnson, former U.S. Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau, and the player whose jump has caused the most controversy, six-time major tournament winner Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson and Johnson are each reportedly getting a nine-figure payout to take part in the Saudi series. Earlier this year, the author of a biography on Mickelson quoted the golfer as saying of the Saudis, "They're scary motherfuckers to get involved with. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates."

This week, Mickelson said he doesn't condone human rights violations.

PHIL MICKELSON, SIX-TIME MAJOR GOLF CHAMPION: I'm certainly aware of what has happened with Jamal Khashoggi and it's -- I think it's terrible. I've also seen the good that the game of golf has done throughout history. And I believe that LIV Golf is going to do a lot of good for the game as well.

TODD (voice-over): Hardly satisfying to Mickelson's critics.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: He knows where the money's coming from. And he's doing it willingly and he's helping MBS to burnish his image. He has really been bribed to be a part of the PR machine of the Saudis.

TODD (voice-over): Mickelson is not the only golf star who has been criticized for downplaying Saudi human rights abuses. Former world number one player Greg Norman, now the CEO of LIV Golf was quoted recently as saying, "Look, we've all made mistakes, and you just want to learn by those mistakes, and how you can correct them going forward."

Some critics accused the Saudis of so-called sports washing, sponsoring lucrative sporting events in an effort to clean up their reputation. One analyst says that's only part of the kingdom's ambition.

DAVID SCHENKER, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS: They want to go from 30 million tourists a year right now to 100 million in the next 15, 20 years. They're building golf courses. They're building beach communities. They've got a Six Flags amusement park, they're building, they've got Mariah Carey concerts.


TODD: One of the biggest questions here remains only partially answered. Tiger Woods has reportedly rejected a massive payday offered by LIV Golf. But many eyes in the golf world are still watching to see if Woods will definitively renounce the Saudi golf series.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

PAUL: Brian, thank you so much.

So pollution isn't just a problem on our planet, it's becoming a big issue in space. And experts say the night sky we see now could look a lot different if we don't clean it up. That's coming up next.

And be sure to check out a new episode of the CNN Original Series "Watergate: Blueprint for a Scandal." It airs tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.



SANCHEZ: So the next time you wish upon a star, it may not actually be a star that you're wishing on.

PAUL: Yes. Look, there are thousands of small satellites currently orbiting the Earth and apparently threatening to change our view of the night sky. Here's CNN's Kristin Fisher.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in this remote stretch of Saskatchewan --

SAMANTHA LAWLER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ASTRONOMY UNIVERSITY OF REGINA: Wow. Full of stars. FISHER (voice-over): -- a chance to see the brilliance of the night sky.

LAWLER: That's so cool.

FISHER (voice-over): But astronomer Samantha Lawler says it's changing and fast as more and more satellites get in the way.

LAWLER: For the first time in human history, we're not going to have access to the night sky the way that we've seen it since -- as long as we've been human.

FISHER (voice-over): It only takes a few minutes of looking up with the naked eye to see what she's talking about.

(on-camera): There's one, I see satellite right up there.


FISHER (on-camera): There's another one. I see a second satellite right there. See there's one, there's two.

LAWLER: Yes. Wow, that one's really bright.

FISHER (on-camera): Where?

LAWLER: And really low. What?

FISHER (on-camera): Oh yes.


FISHER (voice-over): An Assistant Professor of Astronomy at the University of Regina, Lawler has been watching from her farm as the number of active satellites has exploded from about 1,000 in 2017 to more than 5,000 today.

LAWLER: This is a lot worse than I expected. It's changing fast.

FISHER (voice-over): And it's about to get much worse. Lawler and her colleagues created this simulation based on their recently published predictions about satellite pollution.

LAWLER: This is the number of satellites that are in orbit right now --

FISHER (on-camera): OK.

LAWLER: -- that we're seeing in the sky. And this is adding in the tens of thousands more that are planned without any regulation.

FISHER (on-camera): That's crazy. It covers the whole world?


FISHER (voice-over): In less than a decade, Lawler predicts that one out of every 15 stars in the sky will actually be a moving satellite. It's the dawn of what's called the mega constellations. Tens of thousands of small satellites, only about 300 miles above Earth launched by private companies --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.

FISHER (voice-over): -- to provide global, high speed internet access.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lift up, Starlink 4-7.

FISHER (voice-over): Elon Musk's SpaceX is responsible for a third of all active satellites.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) separation confirm.

FISHER (voice-over): More than any other company or country, including the U.S. government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And off they go.

FISHER (voice-over): SpaceX has already launched more than 2,000 satellites with plans to launch at least 42,000 more for its mega constellation called Starlink. SpaceX has said, "We firmly believe in the importance of a natural night sky for all of us to enjoy, which is why we have been working with leading astronomers around the world."

And the company has made changes by adding a deployable visor to the satellite to block sunlight from hitting the brightest parts of the spacecraft. But astronomers like Lawler say it's not enough. As of now, there are no binding international rules, monitoring these mega constellations.

LAWLER: We're already seeing so many now, today and there's going to be 10 times as many.


FISHER (on-camera): There's one. I have another satellite.

Kristin Fisher, CNN, Saskatchewan.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to Kristin for that report. And thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

PAUL: Absolutely. Smerconish is up next. We'll be back in an hour from from now with more. We hope you make good memories today.

SANCHEZ: We'll see you at 10:00.