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Newly Obtained Audio of Giuliani Pressuring Ukraine in 2019; Dry Conditions in Western U.S. Fueling Wildfire Danger; Djokovic Survives French Open Scare in Advance; Mom Poses as Daughter to Test School Security. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 8, 2021 - 04:30   ET



ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: Live from Atlanta I'm Robyn Curnow, it's 30 minutes past the hour. Thanks so much for joining me.

So never before heard audio of 2019 phone call now obtained by CNN is shedding light on just how far the man once known as America's mayor was willing to go for former U.S. president Donald Trump. Longtime adviser Rudy Giuliani can be heard relentlessly pushing the Ukrainian government to investigate baseless conspiracies about then candidate Joe Biden. Now, allegations that Trump pressured the Ukrainian leadership to investigate his political rival later became a central part of his first impeachment, despite his vigorous denials. Matthew Chance has our exclusive report. Report.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) what exactly do you mean?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Meaning meddling in the election.

CHANCE (voice over): It he was the call that set events in motion.

KURT VOLKER, U.S. DIPLOMAT: OK, So we should have on the line here, America's Mayor, Mayor Giuliani and we have Andriy Yermak.

CHANCE (voice over): Thrusting a reluctant Ukraine into America's divided politics. We already know through transcripts and testimony, Giuliani pressured them to announce investigations important to then President Trump. But this is the first time we've heard his actual voice.

GIULIANI: I want very much to see that our two countries are able to work together.

CHANCE (voice over): Giuliani cajoled the Ukrainian presidential advisor on the other end of the line, first promoting debunked conspiracy theories that Ukraine, not Russia was involved in U.S. election meddling in 2016 and tried to hurt the Trump campaign.

GIULIANI: Way back, in last November, I got information from a reliable investigator, international investigator, that there was a certain amount of activity in Ukraine during the 2016 election. That was -- that involved Ukrainian officials and Ukrainian -- mostly officials being asked by our embassy and possibly by other American officials. Basically, the statement was to produce dirt on then- candidate Trump and Paul Manafort.

CHANCE (voice over): By the time of the call in July 2019, Joe Biden had already emerged as the Democratic Party's front runner to challenge President Trump and digging up dirt on Biden like the unfounded allegations of corrupt dealings in Ukraine when he was vice president had become a priority for Trump and his longtime adviser.

Throughout the roughly 40-minute call, Giuliani repeatedly pressed the Ukrainian leadership to publicly announce investigations into this too, something that would have undoubtedly benefited Trump's reelection campaign and damage candidate Biden. Listen to how Giuliani sets out what's required.

GIULIANI: And all we need -- all we need from the president is to say: I'm gonna put an honest prosecutor in charge, he's gonna investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election and then the Biden thing has to be run out.

I don't know if it's true or not. I mean, I see him -- I see him bragging about it on television. And to me as a lawyer, to me as a lawyer, it sounds like a bribe. Somebody is Ukraine's gotta take that seriously.


CHANCE (voice over): In Ukrainian presidential office, they took it very seriously. Then as now the country was fighting a desperate war against Russian-backed rebels in its east and heavily depended on U.S. weapons and military aid to hold its ground, including millions of dollars that had been frozen by the Trump administration while Giuliani pursued these political investigations.

Mindful of the need for a strong relationship with Washington, the Ukrainian presidential advisor on the call tried to assure Giuliani investigations he wanted would be looked at.


ANDRIY YERMAK: And we'll be ready this day immediately communicated to coordinate, to work and investigate everything, which you listed.

CHANCE (voice over): But privately Ukrainian officials say they were alarmed at being sucked into American politics, especially when Giuliani repeatedly suggested compliance would open the door to closer U.S.-Ukrainian ties even a presidential meeting undermining the former U.S. president's assertions that he never sought political favors from Ukraine to secure U.S. support, so called quid pro quo.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo. CHANCE (voice over): Now we can hear Giuliani set out his offer.

GIULIANI: So if he could make some statements at the right time. That he supports a fair, honest law enforcement system. And that these investigations go, wherever they have to go. Gonna be run by honest people. That would clear the air really well.

And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the president and see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside. And maybe even, I kinda think that this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship where we really understand each other.

IGOR NOVIKOV, FORMER ADVISER TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKY: To my factual knowledge, they approached numerous ...

CHANCE (voice over): One former Ukrainian official who was listening in on the call understood all too well. He spoke to CNN last month of his outrage as he heard Giuliani tried to force a deal that in his words threatened Ukraine's national security.

NOVIKOV: Let me remind you, we're a country fighting an active war with Russia for many years. So anything to do with swapping, you know, favors within our bilateral relationship in exchange for trying to get us involved into U.S. domestic politics is just wrong on many levels. It's morally, ethically and probably even legally.

CHANCE (voice over): By call's end, the Ukrainian's side seem to understand exactly what President Zelensky of Ukraine was expected to do, to keep Washington on the side. And on the call, at least, they agreed.

YERMAK: I'm sure that Zelensky will say that, yeah.

VOLKER: Yeah, good. Second to that ...

GIULIANI: Well, that would, believe me, Andriy, that would be good for all of us.

CHANCE (voice over): Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing in Ukraine and says he was just trying to help his personal client, Trump. It was, of course, this and other aggressive attempts to coax Ukraine, vigorously denied by then-administration officials that led to former President Trump's first impeachment in which he was eventually acquitted by the U.S. Senate. It's hard to know if actually hearing Giuliani relentlessly pressing Ukraine like this ...

GIULIANI: If he could say something like that, on his own, in conversation, it would go a long way. It would go a long way with the president to solve the problems.

CHANCE (voice over): ... would have in any way influenced the outcome of impeachment vote.

Matthew Chance, CNN London.


CURNOW: The Ukrainian president was denied an invitation to meet with Trump possibly because of his refusal to investigate then candidate Biden. But during a phone call on Monday President Biden invited him to the White House in July. Vladimir Zelensky had wanted to meet before Mr. Biden's summit with the Russian leader later on this month, that won't happen. But the U.S. president has vowed support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity as it deals with Russian aggression.

And extreme drought has made conditions much worse for the U.S. fire season. Now states across the country are fighting back the flames. A live look at the U.S. weather when we return.



CURNOW: So here is something you probably wouldn't want to see headed your way, a massive tornado churning its way through Colorado. The storm downed power lines, damaged several properties. The good news, though, officials say no injuries have been reported.

And U.S. officials say Lake Mead at the Hoover Dam will hit its lowest water levels since the 1930s. It's all because of extreme drought conditions gripping the western part of the country. Here is Stephanie Elam with more on that.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Crack sprawl along empty baked basins, parched farms and depleted reservoirs, all symptoms of a historic drought.

BRIAN FUCHS, CLIMATOLOGIST, NATIONAL DROUGHT MITIGATION CENTER: Most definitely what we have seen develop in 2020 and 2021 is definitely worse than what we saw in the early 2000s.

ELAM (voice-over): In California, old lines edge the size of reservoirs, marking where the water once reached.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The heights are getting a lot hotter in this state. The dries are getting a lot drier.

ELAM (voice-over): The water in Lake Oroville, the second largest reservoir in the state, is dropping so quickly. Local say they can practically see it disappearing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you look out in the distance, you can see where the lake it should be.

ELAM (voice-over): The reservoir which provides water to 29 million Californians and irrigate some 750,000 acres may get so low, officials will have to shut down its hydroelectric power plant by the end of August. Officials warned reservoirs across the state are at about half of where they would be in a normal year.

WADE CROWFOOT, SECRETARY, CALIFORNIA NATURAL RESOURCES: We're in our second straight dry year. The dryness of this year, the lack of rain and snow this winter really ranks as one of California's driest winters.

ELAM (voice-over): But it's not just California that's dangerously dry.

CROWFOOT: One of the real differences with this drought versus other droughts is this is region wide. This drought is impacting the entire American West. And in fact, conditions are even more concerning in the Colorado River Basin, which seven states rely on.

ELAM (voice-over): According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Colorado River Basin is in its 22nd year of drought, evident by Lake Mead's receding waterline. The National Drought Monitor Center keeps tabs on the severity of the lack of water across the country. The deeper the color, the worse the drought.

ELAM: Is it possible that the drought won't break, that will just keep getting worse each year?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The western U.S. is prone to these long-term drought events, but they do come out. And so, we think about that in the back of our minds that is this, you know, year '20 or is this year '24.

ELAM (voice-over): That's the case in Utah, where 90 percent of the state is entrenched in extreme drought.

GOV. SPENCER COX (R), UTAH: We need more rain, and we need it now.

ELAM (voice-over): So much so, the Governor is asking Utahns to pray for rain.

COX: We need some divine intervention.


ELAM (voice-over): Divine intervention for a largely man-made problem.

Stephanie Elam, CNN Los Angeles.


CURNOW: Thanks Stephanie for that. And drought conditions are certainly making wildfire threats much worse across the U.S. Arizona is battling two major wildfires, forcing evacuations across the southeast part of the state there. Police are warning Gila County residents they need to be on standby if they hadn't yet moved. Weather conditions are certainly expecting to make firefighting efforts harder over the coming days. So I want to talk about all of this with Karen Maginnis. Hi, Karen. Give us a sense of what the map behind you is explaining. KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we've got a couple different

things that make this particularly dangerous. First of all, I mentioned that the Mezcal fire they're saying that that was probably human caused. And it is exploding. They are saying it was about 8 percent contained but we are looking at two major fires just about an hour to the east-southeast of Phoenix. The chances of these two coming together they're saying is rather unlikely now even though they encompass approximately 110,000 acres. So this is a huge area that we are discussing.

So Phoenix the temperatures have already reached about 103 or 104 degrees, but as we go towards the weekend this may be the first time that we see these temperatures at 110 plus degrees. That makes it especially difficult for firefighters and they're saying in excess of 500 fire workers are battling these blazes. Now, across the United States there are about 20 major fires but we're already seeing two of them in Arizona. There are four major fires in New Mexico and we are just kind of beginning at this big fire season.

But look at the West, this is the drought monitor, this kind of gauges just how much moisture that they have seen, they need that winter snowfall. We're just not seeing it. Most of the West, 96 percent of the West extending from Washington to the four corners up towards Montana is extremely dry. So for firefighters they need the moisture, they need the humidity to go up and they need the winds to die down. It is not going to happen. If anything it's going to become worse.

Now, just to the west of Phoenix the winds could be fairly gusty, but what we're looking at to the east of Phoenix, Robyn, we are looking at winds that could be fairly erratic so they're saying that these fires are going to be even more difficult to control. Back to you.

CURNOW: Thanks so much, Karen Maginnis there.

So new information now about that deadly train crash in southern Pakistan early on Monday. Local authorities say at least 63 people were killed when an express train crashed into another train that had derailed just moments earlier. Prime Minister Imran Khan has promised a comprehensive investigation. Pakistan has seen a series of deadly rail accidents in recent years.

Well, you are watching CNN. Still to come, why a Texas mom says she dressed up as her teenage daughter and snuck into her middle school. That story next.



CURNOW: You want to take a look at this video coming into CNN. Oh, my goodness, this is amazing. It's coming out of Israel as you can see here, police say a hospital parking lot -- this is in Jerusalem -- and it just collapsed as you can see here into a sinkhole on Monday. Cars and everything else going in with it as well. This video shows these cars falling into it -- but here is another angle. Emergency services blocked roads surrounding the hospital but no casualties thankfully were reported. That was lucky.

Now, it's probably not how the world number one tennis player wanted to win, but Novak Djokovic survived a huge scale at the French Open. Patrick Snell has our details in our minute in sports -- Patrick.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Well Robyn, we are very much down to the business end of the French Open in Paris, top ranked Novak Djokovic through to the quarterfinals but only after one intense battle against Italian 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti having trailed by two sets to love. The Serbian eventually advancing after his opponent retired in the fifth set. The king of clay himself Rafa Nadal also sweeping past a teenage Italian Jannik Sinner in three sets to make the quarterfinals. The 35-year-old from Majorca also eyeing up an incredible 14th men's singles title at the French.

American teen Coco Gauff through to her first ever grand slam quarter final, the 17-year-old U.S. star yet to drop a set, too, at this year's tournament in Paris.

In the NBA playoffs 32 points for Kevin Durant. He's just three quarters as the Brooklyn Mets without James Harden easily beat the Milwaukee Bucks in game two of the Easter Conference semis in New York.

And ahead of the European football championships that start on Friday Germany warming up in style with a 7-1 friendly victory over Latvia. What a strike that was, Robyn. It's back to you.


CURNOW: Thanks so much Patrick.

Well Jeff Bezos is already the richest man on earth, but now he's set to be the first billionaire in space. The Amazon founder announced on Monday, he'll be aboard his own spacecraft when it blasts off next month. Bezos and his brother Mark will make the trip together. That means the seat for passenger number three is up for grabs.

And here is a story for you, a Texas mom dressed up as a teenager to test security at her daughter's middle school. Well Jeanne Moos takes a look at what happened next.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This mom went back to school, middle school. Disguised as her 13-year-old daughter.

CASEY GARCIA, DRESSED UP AS DAUGHTER: Do I look like a seventh grader? No? Cool, awesome.

MOOS (voice-over): 30-year-old Casey Garcia died her hair, tanned her skin, put on big glasses and a marvel comics hoodie.

GARCIA: I'm going to get so caught, I'm actually so scared now.


MOOS (voice-over): The Texas mom says she did it and recorded herself to make a point.

GARCIA: We need better security at our school.

MOOS (voice-over): Once inside she gave her daughter Julie's school ID number. Garcia says the principal greeted her in the hallway.

GARCIA: Hello.


GARCIA: Good morning.


GARCIA: Fine and yourself.


MOOS (voice-over): She even got a complement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like your backpack.

GARCIA: Thank you.

MOOS (voice-over): And people gave her directions.

GARCIA: I would have never found my way.

MOOS (voice-over): In math class she held up her math notes and at lunch in the cafeteria she held the cheesy dish she was eating.

GARCIA: This cheese is disgusting.

MOOS (voice-over): But in the very last period of the day --

GARCIA: Well, I finally got caught.

MOOS (voice-over): A teacher asked her to stay after class.

GARCIA: She looked at me she's like you are not Julie. I took off my mask, I took off my glasses and I said, no, I'm not Julie, I'm Julie's mom.

MOOS (voice-over): Why the teacher asked.

GARCIA: I said for a social experiment.

MOOS (voice-over): Within days the police came to her home to arrest her on charges of criminal trespass and tampering with government records.

GARCIA: Do I need anything? I've never been arrested before in my life. MOOS (voice-over): That same day she was released on bond. The San

Elizario School District superintendent put out a statement to parents acknowledging there was a breach in security. I want to reassure you that our security measures are being reviewed and evaluated. Garcia's lawyer says she proved any Tom, Dick or Harry can walk into a public school and spend an entire day going undetected.

GARCIA: I stayed because, look, no one noticed I was there. That is a problem.

MOOS (voice-over): Her experience sounds like the title of a school paper you might turn in.

GARCIA: I posed as a seventh grader.

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: She made her point, didn't she?

Thanks for watching. I'm Robyn Curnow, "EARLY START" is next. Stay with CNN.