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Quest Means Business

E.U. Divided On Response To Ruble-For-Gas Demand; U.S. Economy Shrinks For The First Time In Two Years; U.S.: Russia Planning To Replace Ukraine's Government; January 6 Committee Chair: We'll Be Reaching Out To More Members Of Congress Soon; Georgia Governor Signs Controversial Education Bills Into Law; Author Fights Back As States Ramp Up Book Banning. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 28, 2022 - 15:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR: A different day in a very different market. There is a strong rally underway. We're nearly at the best of the

day; yesterday, at this time, we were at the worst of the day. Now, we're up over two percentage points and it's all across the board. I'll show you

the triple stack in a moment or five.

So, it's a strong day which started with Facebook and better earnings. The momentum is now through the afternoon. The markets are strong, and the main

events that we are following:

European nations are scrambling to pay for Russian gas without breaking sanctions.

The U.S. economy contracts in the first quarter. The White House says, it's not as bad as it looks, and a member of the White House Council of Economic

Advisers joins me live on the program.

China's economic lockdown is imperiling the tourism recovery for its neighbors, you will hear from Singapore in this hour.

We are live from New York. It is Thursday, April 28th. I'm Richard Quest, and yes, I mean business.

Good evening. Tonight, there is division in Europe, as the bloc scrambles to respond to Russia's new gas rules for payment. The question is whether

the new payment scheme put in place by President Putin Gazprom's method of converting euros to rubles runs afoul of E.U. sanctions.

Now, as I say, confusion, top officials in Brussels say it does. The Commissioner Thierry Breton to my colleague, Paula Newton, that the scheme

being put forward is unacceptable.


THIERRY BRETON, EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR INTERNAL MARKET: President von der Leyen was extremely clear, by the way yesterday when she mentioned

that, of course, today, regarding the contract that we have with Russian gas, 97 percent of these contracts stipulate very clearly that would have

to be paid either in euro and dollars, so that will have to be paid in euro and dollar. And if you don't do this, it was clear it will be an

infringement. So, that's the way it is.


QUEST: Now, the official guidance is less clear and E.U. documents said last week it appears, possible to go along with Moscow's terms. At least

two E.U. energy companies are in talks with Gazprom about the new payment scheme.

The firms are from Austria and Germany and they say the plan does not breach E.U. law. So far, two countries refused outright to pay in rubles,

Poland and Bulgaria, and we saw the consequences, Russia cut off the oil and gas.

Clare Sebastian is with me. We have known about this required payment scheme in rubles since the beginning of the month, but it is only now

becoming clear to significance.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Richard, and it is very complicated and it is really not clear at this stage, whether it violate

sanctions or it doesn't and what the possible workaround could be.

But first, I just want to map out for you how it would work. So, this, the buyer with their euro account, they then open two accounts, you can see

them here with Gazprombank. So the euros go to the euro account, and then there's a diversion that happens here.

So the euros are then sent to the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange to be converted into rubles, and then that takes a detour back into the buyers.

This is very important, the buyer's ruble account, and then eventually to the seller.

So there you have the actual process of what happens. But where are the sanctions violations? That's the question. We're going to mark those in


This is a potential sanctions violation and some kind of involvement here of the Russian Central Bank. The European Union is not a hundred percent

clear about how it would be involved, but they say that the process would allow Russia to involve the Russian Central Bank in this process through a

number of transactions linked to the management of the Central Bank's assets and reserves.

So this is a pretty broad interpretation of sanctions. So, that's one area. The other area is the potential lag time between the conversion -- the lag

time between the euros being deposited and the conversion to rubles.

Under 2014 sanctions, which included Gazprombank, European entities were prohibited from loaning money to Gazprombank among other banks, so that

could potentially, they say, the lag time which Russia is in full control of could constitute a loan.


But they say, look, European companies can hold talks with Gazprom, they can ask for an exception. The Russian original decree did allow for

potential exceptions if negotiated, so that is the possibility, but as of yet, we don't know if these sanctions violations are confirmed, and we

don't know what a workaround could look like.

QUEST: Okay. This is fascinating stuff. Why did Russia do it? I can see -- because to draw your line, I mean, until now, they have been going buyer to

buyer in euros and then straight to seller. So, why introduce this added level of complexity?

SEBASTIAN: Yes, so there's a couple of reasons -- economic reasons. Let's try and break it down a little bit, Richard. I think the first economic

reason -- it's a little tenuous honestly to prop up the ruble, because there is already a rule in place in Russia, which requires exporters to

convert 80 percent of their foreign currency revenues into rubles already.

So that's already in place, so any change that will be marginal, just another 20 percent. I think there is an issue with the ruble as well, where

Russia wants to have its export revenues in rubles to protect them against future sanctions. That is something that President Putin has said openly.

But I think the bulk of this is political. They want to inflict the same amount of inconvenience on the sanctioners, as they have experienced as the

country that has been sanctioned. So this is clearly causing a lot of confusion, a lot of division, potentially, in Europe over this, and that is

part of the playbook here.

And that brings me to the last point: Divide Europe. So look, maybe you can bring up your map, again, that shows that some have agreed to this, some

have not, then have the gas cut off and others are in talks.

I think we see here, where Russia has leverage that until Europe can act in concert, can use its market power as a bloc and use its leverage as a bloc,

Russia really does still have leverage. This reveals the major conflict of interest that we have in this conflict that Europe continues to pay Russia

for its energy and can't agree on what to do about it.

QUEST: And that map shows, Hungary is going along with it; others haven't and some are debating it.

Clare Sebastian, as we look at the European map, it is an extreme -- the potential for division is huge. Clare, thank you very much for that.

Timothy Ash is with me, the Senior Sovereign Strategist for Emerging Markets at Blue Bay Asset Management. If Vladimir Putin wanted to make life

extremely difficult and confusing, chaotic, and sow divisions, he has succeeded.


I mean, he wants to make life difficult. He wants to sow division. He doesn't want to stop gas exports, it is a $50 billion a year business.

There are no pipelines East, the pipelines are from the West. So if he cuts gas to Europe, he loses that business. Right?

But this is all about, I think, causing difficulties within the European Union, getting some countries that are more dependent on imports of gas

from Russia, to lobby -- to lobby for those sanctions to be moderated or eased, and that's what it's all about, basically.

QUEST: But then we have this other bit that Thierry Breton was talking about, which is more basic and easier to understand, which is the contract

says it has to be paid in euros or dollars or whatever foreign currency.

Now, since the transaction under Putin's plan converts it into rubles in the buyer's account, which is then paid over, there is a strong argument

that says that that is not valid, if you follow that you haven't paid in ruble -- in the harder currency.

ASH: Well, I think it's pretty clear, it breaks the contract, but I think also what Putin is trying to do is because of sanctions, international

business does not want to transact in rubles. If he can get major energy companies, force them to transact in rubles, it maybe shows some leadership

to other companies that it's okay to be transacting in rubles. So, it is essentially trying to break sanctions and as I said, trying to sow division

within the Western Alliance.

QUEST: Are we inexorably, in your view, inevitably and inexorably moving towards a scenario of either Europe sanctioning the oil and gas just to get

it over and done with, with the attendant economic problems, or Putin turning off the tap?

ASH: Well, look, Putin has shown himself to be an unreliable energy supplier to Europe, so whether it's this year or next year or three years,

Europe will inevitably diversify away from Russian energy. It's going to happen because of Putin and I think whatever he does in Ukraine, whether

there is a peace deal next week, Europe doesn't trust Putin anymore on energy.


So, you know, he's kind of cut the golden goose that was laying these golden eggs of energy, and that business is going to be over for Russia.

QUEST: And we heard last night on this program from Hungary's Foreign Minister, who was very honest, and said, look, we have no choice, we have

to buy, 74 percent of our requirement of gas comes from Russia, therefore, we have no choice.

Now, we can make that same argument that we heard from the Austrian Finance Minister on this program last week. They've got a valid point. But how do

you square that with the philosophical argument of who hurts most?

ASH: Well, look, actually, I think we do have a choice. It depends how much security matters to us, as European security, what's happening in

Ukraine, war crimes, you know, sure, we can cut off energy tomorrow, if we want to. There will be a big price to pay.

Obviously, there's been very small cuts in Germany in terms of the size of the recession, but you know, what's going on in Ukraine is really

important. This is a huge threat to our way of life, our system.

And, you know, the problem with sanctions all along is the West has not been able -- been willing to bear the cost. This is one of those defining

moments. Do we care about security or not? If we do, then unfortunately, you know, we're going to have to call Putin's bluff and impose an energy

embargo and cut those dollar -- well, the euros and dollar sums that are making their way to Moscow to funding this conflict.

QUEST: Thank you very much, Timothy Ash for joining us. Thank you.

Almost $50 billion, researchers say that is how much money Europe has paid Russia for energy since the war in Ukraine began. Russia's state-owned

energy company, Gazprom, reported a record profit for 2021. It says it expects output to drop by only four percent this year.

CNN's Nic Robertson is with me.

I want to talk on this -- I want to talk about the political side of it. Now, we've spoken about the economics, you've heard the scenario, Clare

talked about why they've put in place this regime.

Nic, a really simple question for you: Vladimir Putin has got Europe where he wants them and buy the whatever's and twisting them.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Has he? Has he, because he seems to have united them in the knowledge that their money for

energy is paying for his weapons that are killing Ukrainians, and there's a deep discomfort across Europe about that equation.

There is a discomfort because it has, you know, resonance in history that European leaders and their peoples have watched before, when others, you

know, other Europeans are being killed. And I think the resonance at the moment politically, is such that the commonality is that this is -- the

killing is abhorrent, and it has to stop.

So I think while Putin scores his little successes here in sowing division, and of course, much of the narrative from Europe's political leaders, there

is a look at how united we've been and how much we've been able to stick together, and yes, you're right. It's getting tough.

But I think my point here is that there is major political and philosophical alignment on the abhorrence of what is happening. It outplays

the political differences and the immediacy for some and other's about the use and need for Russian gas and oil.

QUEST: I'm going to challenge you here, Nic, because I would suggest since this, whilst philosophically you can be correct, but the practicality of

sanctions is their ability to work. And therefore, the divisions, if they preclude Europe going further, harder, deeper, then it is buying Putin


ROBERTSON: Yes, and absolutely, Putin doesn't need a lot of time to take the bits of territory on the ground that he wants, if his arm is capable of

doing that. And I think, you know, the conversations that I have in Brussels talking to diplomats there is that just, look, we're not going to

have an immediate impact, but the impact is going to come and it is going to be significant.

And come next winter, Putin is going to face, you know, angry disappointed population that he may not be able to swing his propaganda because they

could be out of a job. They could be on the street protesting because they're cold and hungry and their families are cold and hungry and his

words are no longer giving them you know, the actual support that they need to live.

So it is a balance for Putin, and it is a play for time and there is another argument that you hear from diplomats in Brussels at the moment,

which is, look if we rush out into the world market, if we abandon Russia completely even if we could, but if we do, then we take these resources

from other developing nations, and we turn putative allies into potential foes who wants to side with Russia, because suddenly we're scooping up the

gas, the coal, and the oil that would have been going to them, that they would have bought from Russia, and that the international market has a way

of giving Putin ultimately an outlet for his products as well.


But it is that calculation that this is going to take time, but the reality is, is, you know, Putin, perhaps can use the summer to do what he wants to

do on the battlefield and that's the real test. The test is the battlefield and that will affect the politics and the economics. It will flow from


The real place right now for this war is on the battlefield, and that is a very sad and horrible fact.

QUEST: Nic Robertson, I'm grateful for you tonight. Thank you, sir.

It is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS from New York. President Biden says he is not worried about a recession, and yet, the U.S. economy shrank for the first

time in two years.

So we'll hear tonight from Heather Boushey, the Economic Adviser to the President who will join us from the White House, there she is, a lovely day

in Washington by the look of it, we'll talk to her after the break.


QUEST: President Biden says he's not worried about a recession after the U.S. economy contracted for the first time in two years. GDP fell at a 1.4

percent annual rate during the first months of the year, a reversal of dramatic proportions by the way from the previous quarter, which grew by

6.9 percent.

Now economists justifying it with technical factors like inflation and supply shortages, which dragged down the headline number and the President

said there are plenty of reasons for optimism.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not concerned about a recession, and I mean, you're always concerned about a recession, but the

GDP you know, fell to 1.4 percent, but here's the deal.

We also, had last quarter consumer spending and business investment and residential investment increased in significant rates both for leisure as

well as hard products.



QUEST: So the number took everybody by surprise and the reasoning is somewhat circuitous about why. Luckily our Business correspondent, Rahel

Solomon is with me.

This first -- this Q1 GDP number.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Richard, right, so it came in at negative 1.4 percent, but the expectation was 1.1 percent, and so what

does it mean, though? There's a lot in the report, it is one data point, but what does it mean? It means a lot in fact. There are some good in the

report, there's some bad, and perhaps some ugly.


SOLOMON: All right, let's go through some of the good, some of which we just heard from President Biden. Consumer spending, the all-important

consumer is still spending, especially on things like services, businesses continue to invest on things like factories and equipment, and strong jobs.

Of course, we get the latest jobs report next Friday.

On the other hand, let's take a look at some of the negative factors, some of the bad factors: Of course, omicron, and its business disruptions, the

war in Ukraine, and also its impact on surging energy costs, and inflation -- all of this adding, perhaps, to an ugly scenario for Central Bankers,

including Fed Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, as they decide how to raise rates in this environment.

In fact, take a listen to this. We spoke to David Kelly of JPMorgan Asset Management, who said, hopefully, this data point today convinces the Fed to

be a little bit more gradual in their approach.


DAVID KELLY, CHIEF GLOBAL STRATEGIST, JPMORGAN ASSET MANAGEMENT: This does suggest that we are transitioning from a very fast growing economy in 2021,

to something much slower. So the Federal Reserve needs to take it easy here. This is not a booming economy, and it can only take so much pain



SOLOMON: So Richard, the question remains for Central Bankers how to stop inflation, sort of cool inflation in this environment, perhaps of slowing

growth. One Fed official saying it is a hellish question.

QUEST: Rahel, thank you, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" of the GDP number. It comes at a time when the President is asking Congress for an

additional $33 billion for aid for Ukraine with the conflict with Russia, as it continues.

Heather Boushey is one of President Biden's economic advisers, and joins me now from the White House. Thank you for joining.

We'll do Ukraine in just one second. I just want to focus on the GDP number. Yes, it was a surprise. And yes, there are specific factors, but at

a time of slowdown and rising rates, it must give cause for concern that things are not as rosy as perhaps we thought.

HEATHER BOUSHEY, MEMBER OF THE PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Well, certainly we don't -- we never want to see a negative GDP number, but

when you look under the hood, there is a lot of strength in this economy and that is indicated in this report.

And I really do want to stress, we never, at the Council of Economic Advisers make a big deal out of any one data point, we always look at the

full context, and what we see here is that there was very strong consumer spending, 2.7 percent, and very strong business investment, over nine

percent along with strong residential investment.

What we know from economic research and actually from earlier Council of Economic Advisers is that when those indicators go up, that is an indicator

of strength and growth in the months and quarters to come.

So that makes us hopeful that this is consistent with other indicators that we've been seeing, of course, the ongoing strength in the U.S. labor

market. You know, we've recently just learned that 17 U.S. states are either tied or at their historically low unemployment rate.

So I think all of this really just does say that there was a lot of underlying strength in this economy, even with this negative number.

QUEST: The number of private economists who are now forecasting a recession next year is growing. Some even saying it'll be a major

recession. The President today said that he sees no signs of a recession.

Is this one of these things where you are, you know, everyone says no recession until it arrives? Private economists say they are now seeing a

recession next year.

BOUSHEY: Well, certainly, and we spent a lot of time here, his economic team thinking about this very question. We're always on the watch for


But there are continued signs of robustness, again, pointing to the labor market, pointing to consumer spending, strong household balance sheets, and

I am really heartened by the strong business investment. That's on top of a new report released by the White House today, it documents how last year

was the largest year for an increase in small businesses in the United States, a 20 percent increase over last year. All of that points to a lot

of economic activity and underlying strength in the U.S. economy.

Now of course, you know, we all have our crystal balls and we are constantly watching for signs of weakness, but there is also a lot of

indicators that there is this underlying health.


QUEST: We move, ma'am, if we may to the $33 billion for Ukraine. This is a very large sum of money. And if we -- I mean, there have been the various

tranches of $800 million for military aid and another $800 million.

But when you get to sums like $33 billion, you are essentially talking about a financing of a very long-term commitment to Ukraine.

BOUSHEY: That is certainly the case. I mean, this war has gone on longer than I think many expected at the very beginning, and certainly, there are

consequences for the United States and other countries all around the world.

And, you know, the President has called on Congress for us to step up and do our part, both with aid in terms of Defense and military spending, but

also humanitarian aid.

You know, I think one of the things about this crisis in Ukraine is that while it is, you know, because of this unprovoked war that Putin is waging,

it has all of these economic effects for us.

So making this investment to help, you know, shore them up, to make sure that they can get through this crisis is also investment in all of our


QUEST: I was -- finally, I was thinking this morning, over coffee, when I saw the GDP number, the extraordinarily difficult economic currents at the

moment, and I started to sort of tap them off.

You've got obviously the hangover from COVID, which is still there. You've got China in lockdown, you had the preexisting inflation from the under

from monetary policy.

You've now got the war in Ukraine, you've got supply side issues, in terms of oil and gas. This is phenomenally complex, arguably more complex than

anything we've seen in the last 50 to 60 years.

BOUSHEY: A hundred percent, Richard. I mean, I think what's really incredible about the place we are in right now is the resilience that the

U.S. economy has shown in light of all of these challenges, that we have made it through this pandemic, we've made it through other variants. We are

making it through this Ukraine crisis and what that means in terms of gas prices and food prices.

And, of course, the ongoing supply side shocks and the lockdown in China, which is, you know, again, affecting, you know, the ability of goods to get

to shelves for the U.S. consumer.

But I think that that does speak to the resilience, and that is because of the efforts that this administration and Congress have taken to make sure

that we're making those investments all across our economy to sure it up, make sure that people and businesses have the tools that they need to get

through this crisis.

But you know, this is a very challenging time to be an economic forecaster or to be watching the U.S. economy.

QUEST: We're glad you're taking time out of a busy day, ma'am to come and talk to us. Always a treat and a pleasure, thank you very much.

Nearly 30 cities in China are under some kind of lockdown with no clear end in sight.

We'll look at the havoc that's now inside China. And as a result of that, the spillover effects within ASEAN. The head of Singapore's Tourism Board

will be with us next.




COOPER: U.S. officials say they have information that Russia's plan to take over Ukraine apparently includes gutting the country's government, setting

up a new one and blocking current leaders from holding office again. That's according to U.S. ambassador to the Organization of Security and

Cooperation in Europe. He said this speaking before their permanent counsel today.

Michael Bociurkiw, former spokesperson for the OSCE joins me now. Micheal, Russian forces have already pushed out elected officials in Kherson,

replacing them with their own. They've been talking of having a referendum of sorts there. Does this change how the U.S. should view the war?


Anderson, because, you know, that's what the Russian backed thugs has been doing in Donetsk and Luhansk for the past eight years. I mean, I remember

when I was with the OSC and they were just coming into that part of Ukraine, the first thing they did is replace Ukraine media with Russian

media, introduce the ruble, forced passports onto people, change the curriculum, and destroyed sign of Ukrainian culture.

So, it's really, really sad to see this this being duplicated, almost a cookie cutter approach elsewhere in Ukraine. Something like 200 Ukrainian

cultural sites have already been destroyed or heavily damaged by the Russian side. So not only is the human toll happening, but also very, very

much on the cultural and political side, too.

COOPER: You and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told me yesterday that - - he said the war will not end in meetings. The war will end when the Russian Federation decides to end it. I wonder what you make of his

comments. It certainly doesn't bode well for any kind of negotiated settlement.

BOCIURKIW: Right. Yes, it was interesting he said that. You know, I've argued in a CNN opinion and elsewhere that the worse thing that can happen

is for talks to stop, for diplomacy to stop. But you know, the trip -- Secretary Guterres trip to Moscow was very, very politically risky for him.

And sadly, I don't think much came out of it. Everyone if he did get any sort of assurances from the Russian side. They've proven in the past 60

some days that they don't adhere to their agreements. And indeed, we found that also, you know, with the Russian-backed rebels if Donetsk as well. So,

hopefully, he will get some kind of concession from the Russian side -- especially there in Mariupol where, as you pointed out earlier, the whole

human toll is really, really huge.


COOPER: In a conflict like this, you really see the limitations of the United Nations. I mean, Russia is on the Security Council. They have a veto

power over anything the Security Council decides to do.

BOCIURKIW: It's sad to see. I mean, from the beginning of the conflict, The United Nations has looked very toothless. In fact, you know, they're the

ones that were formed -- they have the mandate to stop this kind of conflict from happening. And you know, I am a former spokesperson for


I have a very much insider type of view of the way things have gone. And at the beginning of the conflict, even the U.N. top officials did not believe

that the Russians would invade. Hence, there was none of that pre- positioning of personnel and supplies that one would normally do when something like this is expected. And that's why I think the U.N. was on the

bed on the backboard when this whole conflict happened. Very, very difficult now, Anderson, of course, to ramp things up because of the way

the conflict is playing out, difficult supply chains. That sort of thing.

COOPER: The British Defense Minister Ben Wallace has said that with Putin's invasion, it's not going as planned. He may just accept his losses and

instead hold on to areas he's gained. Wallace said that Putin could become a cancerous growth in Ukraine. How does one fight a cancerous growth?

BOCIURKIW: Yes, well, very concerning words. And I think again going back to what's happened in Donetsk and Luhansk in the last eight years, is

that's what rebels have done -- of course, with Russian support -- is really dug in. And I think we're going to see going forward, is them

holding onto the areas they have right now. But also, ratcheting up the conflict or ratcheting down as it suits their needs.

And for example, that missile strike today in Kyiv -- alleged missile strike. Well, that was I think an example of where things are going to go

henceforth. That's why I've argued for the longest time that the West has also to give Ukrainians the abilities to close the skies, technologically

and with weaponry. Otherwise, those missiles will continue to come to places like Kyiv and perhaps even here to Lviv and elsewhere. So, it's a

very complex situation at the moment.

Yes, Michael Bociurkiw, I appreciate your perspective. Thank you so much.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: I'll take it Anderson. Thank you --

COOPER: Yes, go ahead.

CAMEROTA: I'll check back with you Anderson. thank you very much.

We have breaking news right now. On Capitol Hill where the House Select Committee chair says they are reaching out to more members of Congress as

part of their investigation into the insurrection. We'll tell you who, next.



CAMEROTA: The chair of the January 6 committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson, says the committee will be reaching out to more members of

Congress this week. CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now. Who do they want to talk to -- Ryan?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is pretty interesting, Alisyn, chairman Thompson didn't say specifically who the

committee is interested in talking to, but he did say that they will be extending invitations to both members of the House and Senate, asking them

to cooperate with their investigation.

Up until this point, the committee's only reached out to three different House members, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Representative Jim Jordan

and Representative Scott Perry. So, it seems now that they want to expand the pool of Republican members of the House that they want to talk to, and

then additional add some Senators.

Now, he didn't specifically say who they want to talk to. But of course, a candidate could be Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who we revealed in an

exclusive report was texting with Mark Meadows in the days after the 2020 election, talking about ways to possibly stand in the way of the

certification of the election results.

That's not the only news that Thompson me today, Alisyn. He also revealed that the committee is preparing for as many as eight public hearings in the

month of June. Some of them could take place at prime time. Some of them could take place during the day. But we've known that they've been gearing

up for these prime time hearings, these public hearings for some time. So, the idea that they're going to do as many as eight of those hearings is

pretty significant news.

And all of this comes on the heels of the story that we broke last night. That the committee is preparing to bring forward the former mayor of New

York City Rudy Giuliani to testify before the committee. They have not settled on a date quite next. But there are expected to do it sometime next

month. Of course, Giuliani served as the president's lawyer. He was intimately involved in that effort to find a fake set of electors that were

sent to the Congress that could probably be used as a replacement for the legitimate set of electors. So, there's a lot that Giuliani knows about the

period of time leading up to January 6.

So, the committee is at a very busy stage right now, Alisyn, as they move forward towards the fall when they're going to need to issue that final

report. These public hearings now, we're expecting to see happen sometime in June -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: It does sound like they're moving at quite a clip right now. Ryan, thank you for the update.

NOBLES: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Well, as more states start to ban certain books from classrooms, some authors are taking matters into their own hands. That's next.



CAMEROTA: The GOP continues to focus on what's happening in classrooms and in schools. Today, Georgia's Governor Brian Kemp signed several

controversial measures into law. They include a bill giving parents the right to file a complaint if they disagree with classroom content. A bill

preventing the teaching of so-called divisive ideologies based on race, and the same bill also prohibits transgender athletes from taking part in

public school sports. Also, a bill that bans literature deemed offensive from school libraries.

School districts in 26 states have reportedly banned more than 1,000 books in the past nine months. This is according analysis from PEN America.


Now librarians and authors are fighting back. CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro has the story.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Melissa Hart's life is filled with young adult fiction. She writes Y.A. books from a small

studio behind her house. She teaches other people to write Y.A. books. She dresses up at a t-rex and gives Y.A. books away.

MELISSA HART, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: This is where the magic happens.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice over): Her latest title comes out this fall.

M. HART: Oh, "Daisy Woodworm Changes the World" is about a 14-year-old girl, and eighth grade passionate track and field runner, who also is an

amateur entomologist. And when she gets an assignment from her social studies teacher to change the world, she decides to help her older brother

who has down syndrome to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming YouTube fashion celebrity. The problem is that their parents don't want him on

social media. And if she can't help him fulfill his dream, she's failed him and her assignment.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: That sounds like a pretty teenage story. A lot going on in that book. But all right. Are you afraid is going to get banned?

M. HART: I know it's going to get banned.


HART: Because one of the main characters has two moms, and that is representative of the type of book that's being banned right now.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice over): These days, a lot of people speculate about the intent of authors and educators. It's a frustrating situation for

people who actually do those jobs.

M. HART: There are specific, controversial and harmful topics making their way into our schools that just don't belong here.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: When you see a parent stand up at a school board meeting and say, you know, these books are indoctrinating my kids. What do you see

when you see that?

M. HART: I see somebody who is not looking at their kid's social media feeds first and foremost. Books are not teaching kids to be a certain way.

Books for kids are providing safe spaces for kids to explore their identity. And not just their identities.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice over): In 2019, Hart wrote a book for adults. It's a good to finding inclusive books for kids. The idea came from the missing

stories in her own childhood.

HART: I think that that representation is critical. I mean, I grew up not even aware that anybody besides me had two moms, because it wasn't in

literature, it wasn't talked about.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice over): Hart and her husband live with a lot of books, animals and their teen daughter. We agreed not to show her face on


TEEN HART: I don't want to talk about it.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice over): Like most teenagers, she's plugged into the social media culture war, where adults are increasingly warning that

teenage lives are becoming dangerously confused about identity.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: What do you say to those people?

TEEN HART: I say, obviously, you've grown up in a different world than we have. And, I mean, I identify as nonbinary, but I love all genders. I think

they don't have the capability to understand us. Because they didn't grow up in our time. They don't know exactly what we're going through.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice over): This teenager is thinking about becoming a writer. Not a surprise in a house like this one. When she hears adults

attack books, she hears an attack on kids like her.

TEEN HART: What else are they supposed to read? Like Obviously, they're supposed to read, but they should read about themselves. They should see

themselves in the books that they read. And not just white people or straight people or cisgender people. Like, look at yourself in a book.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: It seems like a pretty easy concept.


MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Why do you think it's so hard right now?

TEEN HART: Adults. Adults throwing tantrums.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice over): The adults are not slowing down. More books are being challenged and states are passing laws to make challenging books

even easier.

M. HART: I refuse to give in. I refuse to surrender. I will fight the good fight. I will put on my inflatable T-rex costume and fill the little free

libraries in my community with diverse books until the cows come home.

MCMORRIS-SANTORO: Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, Eugene, Oregon.


CAMEROTA: Adults throwing temper tantrums. From the mouth of babes.

OK, so this Sunday, get ready for season two of Stanley Tucci's "Searching for Italy." his first stop, the floating city of Venice.


STANLEY TUCCI, CNN SEARCHING FOR ITALY: And these are a cicchetti, a traditional Venetian snack.

TUCCI (through translated text): This is pork fat, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translated text): Yes, it's lardo. Red or white wine?

TUCCI (through translated text): White.

TUCCI (voice over): It's only 8:30, but a venetian breakfast is eaten standing up, washed down with a glass of wine known as a umbra or shadow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translated text): These are our sea cicadas and it is served many different ways. Raw.


TUCCI (voice over): This is fast food Laguna style. The word cicchetti means a nothing, ironic, because it's really something.

TUCCI (through translated text): Is that a little bit of miso?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translated text): It's miso mayonnaise. Cooked by us, of course.

TUCCI: My God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translated text): And here are your cicchetti.

TUCCI: I'm coming over here so I can see it. Look at that. Oh, my God.


CAMEROTA: Stanley Tucci drinks wine for breakfast. That's what I just got out of this. Tune in Sunday for the season two premiere at 9:00 p.m. right

here on CNN.

In "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts after a short break.