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Australia Launched Massive Crackdown on Organized Crime; U.S. Recovers Millions in Cryptocurrency Paid to Hackers; Obama Slams Republicans for Embracing 2020 Election Lies; Biden, Republicans Billions of Dollars Apart on Infrastructure; Harris to Meet with President Lopez During Mexico Visit; Confidence Vote for Israeli Coalition Government Set for Sunday; 10 Mass Shooting in 10 States Over the Weekend. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 8, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Hi. Welcome to all of our viewers joining us here in the United States and from all around the world, I'm Robyn Curnow, live from CNN center in Atlanta.

So just ahead on CNN, a joint U.S./Australian operation may have dealt a major blow to the global criminal underground, how so many alleged criminals fell for the trap.

Plus exclusive access to the phone calls that became the center of Donald Trump's first impeachment trial.

And then a Texas mom gets caught posing as her teenage daughter in school. She says she did it on purpose.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

CURNOW: Good to have you along this hour. So the FBI had a hand in what's being called the sting of the century down under. Australian police seized nearly 4 tons of drugs and almost $45 million in cash in a massive crackdown on organized crime. Now a global law enforcement team had been working on the operation, it's called Ironside for three years. They developed an encrypted app used by alleged criminals to communicate, but it also gave law enforcement an all access pass to their dealings. Using that intel police say they shut down six clandestine laboratories, acted on 21 death threats and saved a family. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the sting is a major blow to global crime.


SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Today the Australian government as part of a global operation has struck a heavy blow against organized crime. Not just in this country but one that will echo around organized crime around the world. This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history.


CURNOW: Gabriella Power from Sky News Australia with much more on this story -- Gabriella.


GABRIELLA POWER, SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA REPORTER: Criminals and underworld figures were using this encrypted app ANoM to communicate with one another. They plotted murders, were trafficking billions of dollars' worth of drugs as well as engaging in other large scale criminal activity.

Now, little did they know that this app ANoM was actually designed by police and it was designed to catch them. And during this three year police operation the Australian federal police who was collaborating with the FBI and they read 25 million messages in realtime. They discovered there were 21 murder plots.

The Australian federal police and FBI have been working with Interpol and Australian authorities say that they will be arresting those who are Australian residents who have been involved in using this app overseas. So this again what they have learned from this operation as they've been reading 25 million messages in realtime. They've also seized 3,000 kilograms of drugs, $45 million in cash confiscated weapons and 1,650 have these devices these encrypted apps. So this seize of police operation is one of the most significant in Australia's history. This is a global operation, there have been arrests now in 18 countries and Australian authorities do intend to expedite and charge those who are overseas.


CURNOW: And in another major victory for law enforcement authorities have recovered millions in cryptocurrency paid as ransom to the hackers who shut down a key pipeline last month. Now, this is the first ransom seizure made by the Justice Department's recently created Digital Extortion Task Force. Evan Perez explains just how they did it -- Evan.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The Justice Department says that investigators turned the tables on hackers that crippled fuel supplies to much of the U.S. East Coast last month. The FBI and U.S. prosecutors recovered about $2.3 million in cryptocurrency that they say was paid in ransom to hackers behind the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline.

Government officials have linked the hack to a group known as DarkSide which shares its malware tools with criminal hackers who then share some of the profits behind their attacks. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco says that this was a case of following the money and urged companies to work with the FBI and to toughen their defenses against hackers.

[04:05:00] LISA MONACO, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: No organization is immune. So today I want to emphasize to leaders of corporations and communities alike the threat of severe ransomware attacks, pose a clear and present danger to your organization, to your company, to your customers, to your shareholders and to your long-term success. So pay attention now. Invest resources now. Failure to do so could be the difference between being secure now or a victim later.

PEREZ: Colonial pipeline CEO told the "Wall Street Journal" last month that the company complied with the ransom demand of more than $4 million because the company didn't know the extent of the intrusion by hackers and didn't know how long it would take to restore their operations.

But behind the scenes the company took early steps to notify the FBI and followed instructions that helped investigators track the payment to a cryptocurrency wallet used by the hackers believed to be based in Russia.

Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


CURNOW: Former U.S. President Barack Obama is worried about the state of American democracy. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper Obama said he never thought some of the dark spirits that began rising within the Republican party during his tenure would reach its call.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The degree to which we did not see that Republican establishment say, hold on, time out, that's not acceptable, that's not who we are, but rather be cowed into accepting it and then finally culminating in January 6th. Another way of saying this is I didn't expect that there would be so few people who would say, well, I don't mind losing my office because this is too important. America is too important.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Some things are more important --

OBAMA: Our democracy is too important. I think we have to worry when one of our major political parties is willing to embrace a way of thinking about our democracy that would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago. When you look at some of the laws that are being passed at the state legislative level and when that's all done against the backdrop of large numbers of Republicans having been convinced, wrongly, that there was something fishy about the last election, we've got a problem.


CURNOW: The former president went on to speak about the deep and dangerous divisions in American society and what fuels them. He says it's growing more difficult for Americans to see and hear each other.


OBAMA: There are certain right-wing media venues, for example, that monetize and capitalize on stoking the fear and resentment of a white population that is witnessing a changing America and seeing demographic changes and do everything they can to give people a sense that their way of life is threatened and that people are trying to take advantage of them. And we're seeing it right now, right?

Where you would think with all the public policy debates that are taking place right now that, you know, the Republican Party would be engaged in a significant debate about how are we going to deal with the economy and what are we going to do about climate change and what are we going to do about -- lo and behold the single most important issue to them apparently right now is critical race theory. Who knew that that was the threat to our republic? But those debates are powerful because they get at, what story do we tell about ourselves.


CURNOW: Well current President Joe Biden is in the midst of his own debate with the Republican Party over his massive infrastructure plan. Phil Mattingly has that part of the story from Washington -- Phil.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's come down quite a bit. We're looking to see more.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With President Biden sweeping legislative agenda in limbo, a critical week ahead.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: So lots going on right now, but still lots of daylight honestly between us and our Republican friends.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): As some Democratic allies worry, the window for action is closing. But for now Biden, is sticking with bipartisan talks.

GINA RAIMONDO, COMMERCE SECRETARY: There's no, you know, hard wire deadline. We are doing the work of legislating. This is a big week.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Biden is scheduled to speak with top GOP negotiator Senator Shelley Moore Capito early this week as the two sides remain in the words of one official involved, in different universes on a potential deal. The call will be the first since Biden rejected outright the GOP proposal to increase its offer by roughly $50 billion.


PSAKI: He certainly is eager to see what that discussion can entail.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But that offer left the two sides still more than $700 billion apart after Biden tried to break the logjam suggesting he drop his original offer by roughly $1 trillion and took changes to the 2017 tax law off the table, a central GOP ask.

The White House now open to other bipartisan talks including a Senate group that includes Senator Joe Manchin, a linchpin vote for Biden's agenda who has rejected calls for the president to end bipartisan negotiations.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I think we can come to that compromise to where we'll find a bipartisan deal. I'm very confident of that.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But the clock is ticking. And without Manchin onboard, Biden's options with the slimmest congressional majorities are limited, with infrastructure talks just one piece of the $4 trillion economic agenda Biden wants passed by the end of the summer.

PSAKI: Ultimately, we're looking to have enough of a coalition to move forward on these bold historic ideas and we obviously don't have that at this moment, but we're working toward that.

MATTINGLY: And that call between Senator Shelly Moore Capito and President Biden scheduled for Tuesday. It's worth noting the White House is keenly aware of the dynamics that are currently at play. Yes, they absolutely want to move forward. They want to move forward as quickly as possible, but no matter the scale of your ambitions or how much you believe the politics are on your side nothing actually happens if you don't have the votes. And right now they simply don't have the votes not just for infrastructure, for the broader economic plans, obviously, the voting bills as well.

And so because of that White House officials acknowledge that they need to wait. They need to see what happens, need to let things play out a little bit. As one adviser told me the president understands that this is a moment to deploy some strategic patience.

Now they make clear they are not game to scale back their ambitions on their broad economic proposals and don't believe that there is an unlimited amount of time. But for now, on one, the slim majorities that they have in the House, basically no majority in the U.S. Senate where it's tied 50/50, they have to wait to see what happens to see if anything can come to the forefront to get their votes in order.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


CURNOW: And President Biden is also laying out a plan to work with world leaders at the G7 Summit later on this week. His national security adviser previewed Mr. Biden's first foreign trip since taking office saying the president and G7 leaders will lay out a plan to end the pandemic, endorse a global minimum tax of at least 15 percent and make significant commitments on issues including climate and ransomware.

Well Kamala Harris is focused on migration in her first international trip as vice president and later today she will sit down with Mexico's president Lopez Obrador. Ahead of that she issued a blunt and clear message to migrants looking to make that dangerous journey to the U.S. border. She basically said do not come. Here's Matt Rivers with more from Mexico -- Matt.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the first leg of her first foreign trip is now over and Vice President Kamala Harris is now here in Mexico for the second leg. She will spend today talking to top Mexican officials including Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

She spent the day on Monday in Guatemala talking to that country's president and others about the stated reason for this trip which according to the vice president's office it's a fact-finding mission to try and figure out how best to fundamentally address the root causes of migration. Why so many migrants have been headed to the U.S. southern border as of late.

And of course, we know what some of those issues are. It's violence, it's poverty and also the systemic corruption that plagues governments across this region. With Vice President Harris announcing that a new task force will be created to try and ease some of those corruption issues that have led in many cases directly to so many migrants headed north.

Those are going to be the similar topics of conversation that she has here in Mexico because it's not just migrants from El Salvador and Guatemala and Honduras going to the U.S., there are also a large number of Mexicans that have been migrating to the U.S. as of late.

We heard from the Mexican president on Monday morning at a press conference. Without giving many details he says he does expect to sign some deals with Vice President Harris including deals about development and migration. He didn't say much more than that, but we're certainly going to be paying very close attention to see how these meetings today here in Mexico play out.

Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


CURNOW: A critical presidential race in Peru remains too close to call this hour with a little over 96 percent of the votes now counted. The leftist candidate is holding on to a narrow lead less than 1 percent over his right wing opponent. While the party is also rejecting his opponent's claim of systematic fraud in the election.

And some breaking news into CNN, the speaker of Israel's Knesset has announced the new government will be sworn in on Sunday.


That gives Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a few more days to try to undermine the coalition that would oust him from power. The speaker of the Knesset is a close ally of Benjamin Netanyahu. After making the formal announcement to the coalition on Monday he broke with tradition by not setting a date for this confidence vote. Mr. Netanyahu has claimed his rival right wing party defrauded voters by supporting a coalition that includes left wing parties.

Well let's go straight to Jerusalem, Oren Liebermann joins me now. So there is at least a date set now for the Knesset to focus on Sunday. What does that tell you?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So first we now understand better the process here, there will be a confidence vote that was scheduled for Sunday and that will lead to the swearing in if, of course, Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid's government holds up and wins that confidence vote.

But then more to this process, 48 hours before that, so on Friday, this new government has to present its coalition agreements and that is another chance for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies to see if there's something sensitive there, something that can pick apart and try to find defectors within this coalition. Pointing to them, look, we can't believe you gave this up as part of this coalition.

So that is a very sensitive time and it means the coalition will be sweating it out over the sabbath here waiting to see if Netanyahu and his allies are able to make any inroads there once the coalition agreements are out there. But barring any change in the political situation, there is still the assessment that this coalition will hold together for the confidence vote and that swearing in, which means Sunday if all goes well for Neftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, the rivals of Netanyahu, Sunday will mark the end of Netanyahu's 12 consecutive years in office. But he is certainly not going quietly here.


CURNOW: Oren Liebermann there in Jerusalem. Thank you very much.

You're watching CNN. Still to come, ten states, ten more mass shootings across the U.S. we will have the latest on another weekend of violence.

Also ahead, newly obtained audio of Rudy Giuliani doing Donald Trump's bidding, putting pressure on Ukraine. You will hear it in his own words in our exclusive report.



CURNOW: Welcome back. So the U.S. Justice Department has ended a long running policy that prohibited federal officers from wearing body cameras. Federal agents will now be required to wear and crucially activate cameras when carrying out search warrants or making preplanned arrests. The move has long been urged by civil rights advocates. The U.S. Deputy Attorney General says agencies have now 30 days to develop policies on how they will implement this new rule.

And California's Attorney General is pledging to appeal a federal judge's decision to overturn the state's ban on assault weapons which has been in place for over 30 years. In an interview with CNN's Erin Burnett the Attorney General took issue with the judge's comparison of an AR-15 to a Swiss Army Knife. Take a listen.


ROB BONTA, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Clearly an assault weapon is different than Swiss Army Knife that has tweezers and a nail file and a bottle opener and a ruler. And so, the first sentence in the first paragraph made us very concerned about the rest of the ruling. It's a 94-page ruling and we think it's out of step with the rest of federal law. We have pledged and will appeal it and seek a remedy at the next level.


CURNOW: Well sadly, the recent outbreak of gun violence in the U.S. has not let up. In Florida three teenagers have been arrested in connection with a shooting in Miami Dade County that left one person injured. Police also investigating whether the teens are connected to an incident outside a hookah bar that left three people dead.

There were at least ten mass shootings in ten different states just over this past weekend. Here are some more details from Ryan Young.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An outbreak of deadly shootings in 10 different states across the country this weekend. Eight of the mass shootings where at least four people were shot, 17 people killed by gunfire and dozens injured. In Chicago, 55 people were shot in 41 incidents, five of them fatally over just 48 hours.

DAVID BROWN, CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Our murders are up 5 percent over last year. Our shootings are up 17 percent over last year.

YOUNG (voice-over): The list goes on and on. At least eight people were wounded in New Orleans. Four killed in a shooting in Portland, Oregon. In St. Louis, Missouri, four people injured. One dead and four others injured in Salt Lake City, Utah. Two people dead and two more injured in Indianapolis. One person dead and three more were injured in Fruitport, Michigan.

Seven injured at a graduation party in Cleveland, Ohio. And three killed and five injured outside of graduation party in Miami-Dade, Florida. And in New York, a 10-year-old boy's life was taken when an unknown shooter fired numerous rounds into his home in Queens.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NY: The fact that this reality in our nation, in our city, that a child's life is taken by gun violence is something we are way too used to is unacceptable.

YOUNG (voice-over): More than 8,200 people have died from gun violence in the United States this year. No including suicides, according to the gun violence archive, 256 of them were killed in mass shootings. A 23 percent uptick in deaths from gun violence so far this year, far outpacing the amount of gun deaths at this point in 2020, according to the archive. Many left wondering, what it will take for lawmakers to take action on this disturbing trend of gun violence in this country.

YOUNG: I talked to police chiefs across the country and they tell me they are concerned about the summer months. You add in the fact that officers are leaving the force, some retiring, some looking for new professions and the inability to hire new officers, police chiefs are putting summer plans together are concerned about the rise in crime.

Reporting in Atlanta, Ryan Young, CNN.


CURNOW: Now there are more signs that Americans are slowly returning to normal life.


The TSA says it screened nearly 2 million people on Sunday, even more than it did on Memorial Day weekend. That makes it the biggest day for air travel since March 7 more than a year ago. Increased vaccinations are at least partly responsible for those rising travel numbers. According to the CDC 13 U.S. states have met President Joe Biden's goal to vaccinate 70 percent of adults with at least one dose of the vaccine. More than 42 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

And a study from the CDC shows that people who are fully vaccinated are more than 90 percent protected. They also have milder disease in those rare break through cases. Experts say vaccinations are really vital in protecting against emerging variants.


DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: There is this idea that if you've been infected, if you have natural immunity you don't need to get vaccinated. We're finding out in a lot of other countries with variants that people are still susceptible. There is no doubt about it in my mind that a vaccine-induced immunity is much more durable, it's going to hold up much better against the variants. So I understand that in the short run we may get away with it, having low vaccination rates, but those people really are vulnerable once we have more variants circulating in the United States to get reinfected and potentially get quite sick.


CURNOW: And U.S. regulators have approved an experimental new drug used to treat the early stages of Alzheimer's which is of course irreversible brain disease affecting at least 30 million people worldwide. Biogen, the makers of this drug, says the drug is not a cure but rather slows progression of Alzheimer's in patients with mild cognitive impairment. But there is some controversy surrounding this approval. Last year the FDA was advised by an expert committee that there wasn't enough evidence to support claims that the drug was effective.

And Rudy Giuliani is facing what has been described as a Shakespearian demise almost entirely of his own doing. Ahead a CNN exclusive, newly obtained audio of his attempt to strong arm Ukraine into smearing Trump viral Joe Biden.