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CNN NEWSROOM

Dozens Killed in Stampede at Religious Even in Israel; Crematoriums Burning Bodies Around the Clock in New Delhi; Giuliani Denies Wrongdoing After Federal Agents Raid His Home; Biden Marks 100 Days in Office, Touts His Economic Plan; Andrew Brown Jr.'s Family Disputes Claim that Care Moved Toward Officers; U.S. Probing Source of Mysterious Energy Attacks. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired April 30, 2021 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:00:00]

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Devastating scenes from Israel as dozens are killed in a stampede at a religious festival. We're live on the scene.

As global COVID numbers surpass 150 million, the funeral fires burn in India as the country struggles with the virus get worse and worse.

And Rudy Giuliani comes out fighting. He says what federal authorities did when raiding his home and office was unconscionable.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

We begin in northern Israel where a tragedy has unfolded as a crowded religious festival early this morning turned deadly. At least 44 people have been killed there in a stampede and about 100 others have been taken to hospitals, many in critical condition. Tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews and others were gathering to celebrate the Lag B'Omer holiday on Mount Heron, but the normally festive holiday suddenly became a catastrophe as many scrambled to evacuate. Narrow walkways were left littered with shoes, hats and other debris. Israel's Prime Minister is calling the tragedy a huge disaster.

For the very latest CNN's Hadas Gold joins me live from Mount Meron. Details I understand are still emerging, but what can you tell us?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well I'm standing near the entrance to the tomb of an ancient rabbi where a lot of Jews go, and they gather as part of festivities of this holiday. And we have been seeing probably hundreds of buses as well as many police vehicles, ambulances driving up and down these roads.

It gives you a sense of how many people were at these events. There are some estimates that it could have been up to 100,000 people at these events. And we can see from the images it was very crowded. This is something that the (INAUDIBLE), the ambulance services here is calling one of the worst civil disasters in Israeli history. Here's what we know happened. Right around 1:00 a.m. some sort of

incident took place on a stairway at Mount Meron. It's not clear what exactly caused the people began falling and it became a sort of stampede of sorts, and then it just became chaos. We have seen some videos of it where it just seems like bodies are on top of one another.

As a result we now have around 44 people have sadly died and more than 100 people have been injured. Many of them are in hospital right now. As I said, it's being called one of the worst civil disasters in Israeli history. And what's interesting is that this event happens every year. It didn't happen last year because of coronavirus, not at the same level, but it happens every year. So there's a lot of questions about how this happened and why.

Police are ready for this event in normal times, what was different about last night? Now the police commander for the northern region here has already taken responsibility and the Israeli Attorney General said that he's already launching an investigation into the police conduct to see what happened, what could have caused this.

But there's also a lot of questions about why there were so many people even allowed on to this mountain, especially during the times of coronavirus, especially when the crowds were just getting so intense. The videos are stunning, the pictures are stunning to see how many people are standing shoulder to shoulder. But Kim, what is normally a very festive holiday with bonfires, dancing, singing and prayers, last night it just turned absolutely tragic.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, devastating. Thank you so much, Hadas Gold. Appreciate it.

Now to the coronavirus pandemic, as Johns Hopkins University reports the number of confirmed COVID cases worldwide has topped 150 million. India is especially hard hit, breaking another daily record today. That's nine days in a row with more than 300,000 new cases. Experts fear the actual numbers are much higher.

Outside hospitals and makeshift medical centers thousands are waiting for hours in hopes of getting oxygen or a bed. The government has approved vaccinations for anyone 18 and older, but the country's vaccine supply is expected to fall well short.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military aircraft carrying desperately needed medical supplies has landed in New Delhi. More than 40 countries have committed to sending aid.

[04:05:00]

The number of dead has overwhelmed cemeteries, working around the clock but still unable to cope. And crematoriums are running short of wood for funeral fires. CNN's senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is in New Delhi. And the warning, his report does have disturbing images.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a scene at a Seemapuri Crematorium, they're dealing with about 150 people who are coming here to be burned. They are not able to be seen off by their families, indeed, their family members have to take a ticket in an office just over there, a bit like visiting a bank, that gives them a place in the queue and the queue has been long all day long.

There have been many dozens of people backed up here. It's now towards the end of the day, they're hoping to get them cleared through by sunset, although the fires will continue to burn.

And this is happening at a time when the government is continuing to allow or indeed insist on super spreader events like elections, election gathering, election counting and the consequence of the failure of public health is this. Dozens and dozens of victims of the COVID pandemic being burned here. Very often in ceremonies that are bitterly lonely with just one or two friends in attendance, at a crematorium that whilst is dealing with 150 people a day. And these are the carts that bring in the loads of wood for each and every one of the fires.

But this crematorium whilst it's dealing with 150 a day, has had to create this extra piece of territory to see people offered. It's been as crowded as this since sunrise, and it will be as crowded as this at sunset. And everybody we've spoken to here blames the central government. This is a government that has allowed a net export of coronavirus vaccines. A government that seemed to indicate earlier this year that it felt that India had reached some kind of herd immunity without a massive vaccination campaign. And a government that continues to campaign over elections at state and regional level.

It is a government that puts politics clearly above the public health of its people. And after all, India is a country that has a space program. It's able to put aircraft carriers at sea into the Indian Ocean and more widely. It wants to take a place on the security council as a permanent member of the United Nations, but it's government has allowed this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: Well even as emergency aid is rushed to India from around the world, the crisis is only expected to grow more dire in the weeks ahead. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You have a 20 percent to 25 percent positivity rate, more than 300,000 people being officially diagnosed which suggests that the numbers of new -- newly infected people every day could be over a million if you do the math on that. And we know that the number of people who are diagnosed a few weeks after that is when you see the real surge in hospitalizations and then a few weeks after that the surge in deaths. So the hospitalizations are what they are now, I mean, what are the next four to six weeks going to look like? This gets a lot worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: Many in India blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government for mishandling the crisis. A spokesman for his ruling party spoke with CNN's Christiane Amanpour about the accusations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARENDRA TANEJA, SPOKESMAN, BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY: We are the government in India. So, of course, responsibility is first and foremost ours, good or bad, whatever it is. And it is our responsibility. And we are trying our very, very best. But this did come as a surprise. Today, a lot of people are saying that you should have done that, we knew in February.

But, at that time, scientists, doctors, they were all more or less of the same view. Politicians, we politicians formed the opinion that we are getting -- we were more or less getting out of COVID situation. We -- our views are basically coming out of the, you know, kind of analysis, the kind of reports, feedback we were getting from scientists and doctors, including those living outside India, but India, but living outside India. But, evidently, something went wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: AstraZeneca says it sold $275 million worth of COVID-19 vaccines in the first quarter of this year. That's according to its latest financial results which have just been released. The drug firm said that reflected delivery of around 68 million doses worldwide. The majority of those sales were in Europe.

[04:10:00]

U.S. officials are bracing for a court battle from Trump ally and former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani after agents seized electronic devices in a raid on his home and office Wednesday. For more than two years now Giuliani has been the focus of an intense investigation relating to his activities in Ukraine. Now Giuliani says he's willing to prove he did nothing wrong. CNN's Paula Reid reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rudy Giuliani is speaking out for the first time since federal agents raided his home and office Wednesday. On his radio show, he denied any wrongdoing.

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: The search warrant is one act of failing to register as a foreign -- failing to file as a foreign agent, which is completely false, which I have been able and I'm ready, willing and able, to prove is not true for the last two years, which the Justice Department ignored. And it involves my -- they think representing Ukrainians.

Wow, what a beautiful day. Thank you.

REID (voice-over): Federal investigators executed multiple search warrants on Giuliani Wednesday, seeking evidence for their probe into potential foreign lobbying violations. The more than two-year investigation is focused on his activities in Ukraine, though at times in the past has included some questions on Giuliani's work in other countries. An attorney for the former mayor said the search warrant sought electronic devices.

Agents retrieved a computer of Giuliani's assistant and a related search warrant was also executed at the home of Giuliani ally and lawyer Victoria Toensing. Her phone was seized by agents. An attorney for Giuliani tells CNN that the search warrant sought communications between Giuliani and other individuals, including right-wing columnist John Solomon.

Solomon wrote op-eds for "The Hill" about many of the pro-Trump and anti-Biden conspiracy theories that were peddled by Giuliani and his Ukrainian allies. After a review, "The Hill" found flaws in Solomon's columns on Ukraine including a failure to provide key disclosures.

Former President Trump also weighed in on the investigation into his longtime friend and personal attorney today.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He just loves this country, and they raid his apartment. It's like so unfair and such a double -- it's like a double standard. Like, I don't think anybody's ever seen before. It's very, very unfair.

REID (voice-over): But this has happened before to his other personal attorney Michael Cohen, whose office was raided in 2018 as part of a criminal investigation. Cohen eventually spent one year in jail. And today he told CNN Giuliani knows exactly what to expect.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: He knows exactly what's coming down the road. He knows how to avoid what the ultimate consequence is going to be. And I believe that he's going to start -- he's going to start talking one, two, three.

REID (voice-over): President Joe Biden revealed today he did not get a heads-up on the raids.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I made a pledge. I would not interfere in any way, order or try to stop any investigation the Justice Department has underway. I learned about that last night when the rest of the world learned about it. My word, I had no idea this was underway.

REID: Now that federal agents have these electronic devices an attorney for Giuliani had signaled he intends to fight the Justice Department over materials on those devices that he says are covered by attorney/client privilege. As CNN has also learned that one of Giuliani's assistants received a subpoena to appear before a grand jury next month signaling this investigation is far from over.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BRUNHUBER: And just hours after denying any wrongdoing Giuliani went on Fox to accuse federal agents of using an illegal search warrant to seize his electronic devices. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: That warrant is completely illegal. The only way you can get a search warrant is if you can show that there's some evidence that the person is going to destroy the evidence or is going to run away with the evidence. Well, I have had it for two years and I haven't destroyed it. And they also got it from the iCloud. There was no justification for that warrant. It is an illegal, unconstitutional warrant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: And we should add former federal prosecutor tells CNN Giuliani is wrong about his assertion on the basis for a search warrant.

All right, coming up on CNN NEWSROOM, President Biden marked 100 days in office. We'll bring you what he says he wants for the next 100 days.

Plus mysterious attacks that sickened U.S. embassy staff in Havana in 2016 have now been reported in Washington. We will have the latest on the investigation to find the cause. Stay with us.

[04:15:00]

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BRUNHUBER: Thursday marked the 100th day in office for U.S. President Joe Biden. He spent much of the day in Georgia where he touted his economic plan. CNN's Phil Mattingly has more from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And on President Joe Biden's 100th day in office, there would be no rest. Biden, fresh off his first primetime address to Congress, marking the milestone moment by hitting the road, touching down today in Georgia. The first in a series of trips over the next 10 days as the White House tries to shape its next 100 days.

Biden has now proposed more than $6 trillion in new spending with this latest $1.8 trillion proposal now on the table, laying out transformative changes to education and the social safety net for families.

BIDEN: My fellow Americans, trickle down, trickle-down economics has never worked. And it's time to grow the economy from the bottom and the middle out.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And already drawing strong GOP opposition. SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Even more taxing, even more spending to put Washington even more in the middle of your life from the cradle to college.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But with the narrowest of majorities, it's Democrats the White House is keeping the closest eye on, with crucial moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin telling CNN's Manu Raju he's reviewing the proposal, but its scale is, in his words, a lot.

[04:20:00]

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We're looking at everything, Manu, to make sure that we just don't spend money for the sake of putting money and causing more debt and causing more -- maybe increasing inflation. You know, we can overflood the market.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Biden planning to ramp up meetings with lawmakers in the weeks ahead, including his first meeting with the big four. The top four bipartisan leaders on Capitol Hill. Biden in his address laying out a wide-ranging agenda up for discussion from immigration and gun control to union organizing and police reform but making clear his view is much broader than just individual bills.

At one point in his speech going off script to explicitly lay out the stakes he sees in the view of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

BIDEN: He's deadly earnest about becoming the most significant consequential nation in the world. He and others, autocrats, think that democracy can't compete in the 21st century, autocracies, it takes too long to get consensus.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But Biden making clear during his speech inaction is not an option, but he is ready to talk.

BIDEN: I'd like to meet those who have ideas that are different, they think are better. I welcome those ideas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: And CNN's Phil Mattingly filed that report.

Now, while here in Georgia President Biden called on a man who knows all about the job he is he's now doing, he met with former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Roslyn. The visit lasted about an hour and marked the first time the couples had met in-person since Biden became president. The Carters didn't attend Biden's inauguration in January because of the pandemic.

For the police officers present when Andrew Brown Jr. was shot and killed will be back on active duty in North Carolina. The sheriff says they didn't fire their weapons. Three others who did open fire are still under investigation and remain on administrative leave. Meanwhile, we're hearing different accounts of what happened in the last moments of Brown's life. Jason Carroll has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They pulled him out and started chest compressions.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She does not want us to identify her, only to say that she is one of Andrew Brown Jr.'s relatives and lives on the same block. She says she saw the shooting unfold and has a very different account of what happened compared to what prosecutors are saying about the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not what I saw and it's not what I believe.

CARROLL (voice-over): She took these pictures after the shooting, showing the sheriff's truck parked in Brown's driveway. The same truck that appears to be on this surveillance footage obtained by CNN as it sped by moments before the shooting. She says she watched in disbelief from her window after seeing sheriff's deputies in front of Brown's home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once they jumped out the back of the truck he started backing up and they started shooting the front windshield of his car. Then he took off to go across the yard and they started shooting the back window of his car.

CARROLL (voice-over): During a court proceeding Wednesday the Pasquotank County District Attorney says law enforcement opened fire only after Brown's car came in contact with them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next movement of the car is forward, it is in the direction of law enforcement, and makes contact with law enforcement. It is then and only then that you hear shots.

CARROLL (voice-over): But she disputes the DA's claims.

CARROLL: Did you see his car come in contact?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No, I did not. He started backing up.

CARROLL: Now let me stop you there. When he was backing up did you -- could you see if he was backing up toward any officers?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, he was not. There were none behind him.

CARROLL (voice-over): She also took photos of Brown's car after the shooting. This one appears to show at least one bullet hole in the front windshield. She took us to Brown's driveway where candles are now arranged spelling his nickname, Drew. She still remembers the last time she heard from Brown, a text she says she received from him last Wednesday at 8:20 a.m., about three minutes before the shooting. It reads simply O, Brown's way of saying hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Extremely heart breaking to have to watch and go through knowing he's one person you can't bring back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: And that was Jason Carroll reporting. U.S. government is scrambling to unravel the source of a mysterious

attack that's causing severe headaches and nausea in the victims. At least one U.S. official was apparently targeted last November near the White House. The symptoms mirror similar incidents at the U.S. embassy in Havana a few years ago. CNN's Alex Marquardt explains what we know so far.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's called Havana's syndrome for where the strange, debilitating attack against U.S. personnel were first noticed.

[04:25:00]

Now, sources telling CNN about at least two more on American soil. Similar mysterious incidents, including one late last year, right near the White House.

AVRIL HAINES, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Thank you for your attention on this issue, it's critically important.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The country's top intelligence official is saying she is focus on the attacks, believe to be the result of directed microwaves. The Pentagon is also investigating. Multiple sources telling CNN that defense officials brief Congress earlier this month telling lawmakers that the White House incident, in November, happened near the grassy oval area known as the ellipse, just south of the White House. An official from the National Security Council was sickened.

Another incident, first reported by GQ, happened across the Potomac River in Arlington Virginia in 2019. Also, seemingly directed at another White House staffer. Similar attacks have struck U.S. diplomats, and CIA officials, not just in Cuba, but China, and Russia as well. Including Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA officer who says he was hit with an attack, while visiting the Russian capital, in 2017.

MARC POLYMEROPOULOS, FORMER CIA SENIOR INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: And I woke up in the middle of the night, with an incredible case of vertigo, now the room was spinning, and I want to throw up.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Polymeropoulos served in the Middle East, and Afghanistan, but because of the Moscow attack, he was diagnosed with the traumatic brain injury and had to retire from the CIA.

POLYMEROPOULOS: And I've a headache every day since that night in Moscow. It's never gone away day and night.

MARQUARDT voice-over): A study this year by the National Academy of Sciences found the most likely cause of the symptoms was directed pulse radio frequency energy. Symptoms include ear popping, vertigo, pounding headaches and nausea. Alongside the Pentagon, the State Department and CIA have also launched investigation. WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: I will make it extraordinarily high priority to get to the bottom of who is responsible for the attacks.

MARQUARDT: And who is responsible remains a major question. U.S. officials have said it could be Russia, it could be China, they simply do not know. I want to underscore how extraordinary an attack here at the Ellipse would be. This is the Ellipse, just south of the White House, which you can see right there. This is one of the most secure places in the country, you have U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Park Police, D.C. Metropolitan Police and yet, a White House staffer, may have been targeted just steps from the White House.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: U.S. officials say almost one-third of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated but despite this progress a sizable number of Americans say they won't get a second shot or won't get a shot at all. We'll have the story straight ahead. Stay with us.

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