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High-Stakes Summit Between Putin And Biden Next Week; Members To Tackle Climate Change & Rise Of Autocracy; Myanmar Military Charges Suu Kyi With Corruption; U.S. President Aims To Shore Up Alliances At G7 Summit; Richest Americans Pay Almost No Income Taxes. Aired 12- 12:45a ET

Aired June 10, 2021 - 00:00   ET




JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead of the G7, U.S. President Joe Biden is warning Russia's Putin, there are consequences for violating the sovereignty of democracies. Biden's also revoking Trump's executive order banning TikTok and WeChat. Plus, we're learning more about Japan's COVID measures for the Olympic Games. Athletes, support staff, and the press are likely to be tracked using GPS. Hello, I'm John Avlon, and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

With a resounding "America is back," Joe Biden kicked off the first foreign tour of his presidency. He's focused on strengthening alliances damaged by his predecessor. The U.S. president arrived a few hours ago in Cornwall, England, where the G7 summit will get underway on Friday.

But first, he has a big meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. In the coming day, they're expected to commit to a new Atlantic Charter, focused on everything from global defense, to climate change, to COVID. As well as working on reopening travel between the U.K. and the U.S.

Next week, after the G7 summit, President Biden will enter high-stakes talks with the Russian president. He let U.S. troops stationed in Suffolk, England know that he will be very upfront with Vladimir Putin.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is my first overseas trip as president of the United States. I'm heading into to the G7, then to the NATO ministerial, and then to meet with Mr. Putin to let him know what I want him to know.


AVLON: It's just after 5:00 am in Cornwall, England, and our Nic Robertson comes to us live from the villas of Carbis Bay. Nic, good to see you. Tell us what is in store. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, good morning,

John. It's going to be an interesting day, full of symbolism, actually. You know, this bilateral with Boris Johnson is hugely important for the British Prime Minister. He wants a strengthened relationship with the United Kingdom.

So, this Atlantic Charter that will strengthen the ties is really redolent with history. And this is what Boris Johnson likes. It is going to be a refresh, if you will, on the Atlantic Charter that was signed in 1941 between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

So, this is important for Boris Johnson and important for President Biden. But the symbolism isn't just that sort of tie in history. When that original charter was signed, it was signed aboard a British warship, the HMS Prince of Wales. Well, that ship fell by the wayside in World War II.

The new Prince -- HMS Prince of Wales will be on display for both leaders to look at today. It is Britain's largest built warship. It is an aircraft carrier. And, of course, the symbolism there, the Britain -- Britain's only other aircraft carrier is now working with U.S. forces on its way to the Indo-Pacific region.

There will be points of contention, the Brexit deal, the Northern Ireland protocols, Boris Johnson and President Biden don't see eye to eye on that. So, some clear talking on that, no doubt.

AVLON: Nic, Brexit aside, I mean, when Boris Johnson took office, Donald Trump saw him as something of a protege. Now that is a compliment, if you will, that Boris Johnson didn't necessarily want to fully embrace. But, well, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt developed a deep relationship. What's the sign that there will be chemistry between these two leaders? And is there any real substance behind the rhetoric however historically resident of this new Atlantic Charter?

ROBERTSON: Boris Johnson's going to be looking for, you know, evidence of that and one of the pieces of evidence that it means something today is there's huge pressure on the prime minister to open up travel between the U.K. and the United States during the COVID pandemic. So if there is a result on that, Boris Johnson would be able to say to the British people, look, this is a result. I've got a win on this account.


It seems to me, however, that Boris Johnson is getting a lot of symbolism out of this meeting, which is what he wants. He likes that he thrives on it. But it's President Biden that will get the substance. It's the United States' desire to send a clear military signal of a strong international Alliance to China that has essentially won the support of the U.K. and Britain sending it only in service aircraft carrier to the Indo-Pacific with U.S. F-35 fighter jets on board. So that's symbolism for Boris Johnson's substance for President Biden. AVLON: Something for everybody. Nic Robertson, live in Cornwall. Thank

you very much. All right. On Wednesday, shortly before the G7 summit and all its democratic ideals, a broadside from Russia, a Moscow court declaring two organizations linked to jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny extremist groups, the rolling forces, the groups including Navalny's anti-corruption foundation to shut down, liquidates their assets and prevents members from running in upcoming elections.

Russia appears to be sending a message to Western leaders, stay out of our affairs. CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighed in on President Putin's moves and strength.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: I would like to believe that these opposition movements have real force. I mean, they are deeply admirable and, you know, I wish them all the best. But Vladimir Putin has now had 20 years in power. He has systematically destroyed civil society in Russia. He has systematically destroyed the opposition press and opposition parties. I think he's in a pretty robust position. He might end up being the longest-serving Russian czar since Peter the Great.


AVLON: We'll have my entire conversation with Fareed next hour right here on CNN, but Dominic Thomas, he's CNN's European Affairs Commentator. He's with us from Los Angeles. Dominic, you heard Fareed right there saying essentially, that Putin's actions to make Navalny's opposition party illegal is a sign of his strength, his control over his country.

Other folks might see that as a sign of weakness, that he doesn't feel that he can win open elections and has to ban political parties and threats. How do you see it?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: I think this is all relevant to the meeting that's coming up in Geneva between President Putin and President Biden. It's essentially about two diametrically opposed views of the world.

One of the things that President Biden said today is we need to lead through the power of our example. And the G7 was disrupted by President Trump. He undermined the group, he undermined the E.U., he undermined NATO, and simultaneously, Russia, China were emboldened by these measures.

And you could almost read into President Putin's latest actions as a sort of preparation for this meeting with Joe Biden, in which they stand in sort of diametrically opposed ways, as I just said, and he is firmly establishing himself in this particular region.

He's well aware of the fact that the -- a stronger NATO and a stronger European Union destabilizes the -- that part of the world, particularly around areas like Belarus, Ukraine, and so on and so forth. And you can expect these issues and questions to be raised by President Biden in their meeting in Geneva.

AVLON: You certainly can. And, of course, even to domestic audiences, Joe Biden has been framing the challenges of our time as a question of democracies versus autocracies. So as the G7 meets, really some of the world's leading Western democracies, enemies during the Second World War, who reunited beginning in 1970, what can the G7 do to turn the rising tide against autocracies and back towards democracies?

THOMAS: Yes, well, it's an extremely important meeting for many reasons. Let's not forget that the G7 had been renamed the G6+1, precisely because of President Trump's disruptive behavior. To that extent, Prime Minister Johnson of the U.K. is somewhat of an outlier in this particular meeting because of Brexit, because of the relationship he had with President Trump.

But this is a group that came together in 1975, when they had about 70 percent of the world's GDP. It's dropped to 40 percent. This is an organization that was essentially came together to deal with global crises, such as the oil crisis in the 1970s.

Now the organization is looking at getting rid of fossil fuel and focusing on climate, and focusing on environmental issues, but it is also the G7, a group that has been seen increasingly as not so much the problem solver in the world, but in many ways as being responsible for some of these issues and problems, so taking on the question of autocracy, dealing with the issue of the pandemic.


And of coming up with plans and solutions that show that they can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, particularly because of the inequities that were revealed by the COVID crisis, I think will go a long way towards restoring faith in this organization.

And as President Trump -- President Biden makes his way through Europe to Brussels for the NATO and then the E.U. meeting, and then subsequently meets with President Putin, this will carry along and this message of strength, of multilateralism will be there. And folks in Europe are ready to receive Joe Biden and are ready for this kind of transition and for this sort of positive talk to help these organizations that have been struggling over the last four years.

AVLON: No question it is a testing time for international organizations and democracy itself. Dominic Thomas, thank you very much. U.S. President Joe Biden has revoked a series of Trump era executive orders aimed at banning TikTok, WeChat and other Chinese owned apps.

Instead, he's replaced them with an order that calls for a broad review of security risks posed by apps linked to foreign adversaries, including China. CNN's Steven Jiang joins me now from Beijing. Steven.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: John, that's right. You know, the Chinese government so far has not formally responded to this latest order from the White House, nor have the Chinese parent companies that own these apps, Tencent and ByteDance, but if and when Chinese officials do respond probably in a few hours at the foreign ministry's daily press briefing, I don't think we're going to hear anything surprising.

They're very likely to again accuse the U.S. of holding on to the so- called Cold War mentality, abusing the concept of national security, to crack down on Chinese businesses and harming their interest and then probably promising some vague, unspecified countermeasures.

Now, this latest exact order is another indication of this continuity in terms of Washington's China policy, though, you know, Trump and Biden don't see almost anything eye to eye, but China, being the rare exception here, because they both see the threats or potential threats posed by Beijing. And what the two men differ, of course, is the approach, as you mentioned, Biden, instead of targeting individual Chinese companies now want this broader approach in terms of addressing these potential national security risks.

And from Beijing's perspective, I don't think officials will find this move surprising. A senior Chinese official actually just recently taught me they also realized this continuation in Washington when it comes to China policy. And they say the only difference they see is, and now they don't have to be woken up in the middle of night by some tweets, but they are not happy about what they're seeing from the Biden White House in terms of these approaches. And they're also not that optimistic in terms of this adversarial relationship, along with some cooperative aspect would work.

And so I think from their -- from Beijing's perspective, this latest order is just reinforcing that notion that's going to make this relationship continue to be very difficult to deal with, John.

AVLON: Steve, well, there does seem to be broad continuity beyond the not focusing on the specific companies in question. The underlying issue, of course, being one of privacy, and questions about these apps. In the Trump era, TikTok and its parent company were trying to address some of those concerns. Is there an expectation of continuity in that approach as well or just digging in?

JIANG: I think there's certain continuity in that area because there's a separate process going on in terms of this committee, Interagency Committee in the U.S. reviewing a lot of measures. TikTok has been proposing -- addressing the U.S. government's concerns. And also, of course, Mr. Biden realized because of a series of litigations, Mr. Trump's order really hadn't taken effect in the U.S. I think that's also -- that also explains this latest approach from Washington as well, John.

AVLON: That's exactly right. Steven Jiang, thank you so much for joining us from Beijing. Still to Come. Cyber attacks around the world are becoming more dangerous and sophisticated. What one company had to pay as ransom. That's next. Plus, why an official in Uganda says a second Coronavirus wave could have been prevented in his country. Details ahead.



AVLON: Meat supplier, JBS USA, is revealing that it paid an $11 million ransom after a cyber attack shut down its entire beef processing operation last week. It's the latest high-profile hack in a wave of ransomware attacks on businesses and government agencies around the world. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has more.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: They fail almost daily now, cyber attacks. As we moved online in the pandemic, crime moved with us. In the European Union last year, new figures obtained by CNN shows significant cyber attacks doubled with hospitals horrifyingly hit harder than before, often with ransomware targeting private data.


APOSTOLOS MALATRAS, E.U. AGENCY FOR CYBERSECURITY: Because of the pandemic, a lot of services were provided online. And that happened in a kind of rush, so security was an afterthought. At the same time, people stayed indoors for a lot of time and this gave a lot of opportunities to be able to explore vulnerabilities and exploits in their system's critical infrastructure.


WALSH: The average cost of an attack doubled just so far this year to now $1.8 million, say security experts so far it's the highest ransom now astronomical.


JOHN SHIER, SENIOR SECURITY ADVISOR, SOPHOS: I believe 50 million, 5- 0, was the sum that I heard.


WALSH: The latest as so called triple extortions, they don't just encrypt the data on your computer until you pay up or just threatened to release it online. Instead, they use that data to attack your systems again, and even to blackmail your customers.


SHIER: They are trying to be more purposeful. They try to penetrate as fully as possible so that they can then extract as much money as possible. If you are a customer of this company whose data has been stolen, they'll threaten to release your information or they'll also call other companies that are your partners.


SHIER: And there is new ransomware known as far less attacks that don't even require the human error of clicking on a suspicious link, they seep into the operating system of your computer and never show up as a file on the hard drive. Hard to know if it's even happened. The solution, say experts, like with kidnappings don't pay, but that's tough when privacy is key to a business's survival. This leaves police following the money, usually the Bitcoin.

Ransomware criminals' dark side were behind the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attacks that froze up U.S. gas stations. The FBI quickly recovered half the four million dollars paid out. As this graphic of the Bitcoin short route, shows the FBI traced its path relatively easily with the help of cybersecurity experts, Elliptic, other scams, like one on Twitter last year, are a lot more complex with hundreds of crypto transfers over months. It's in the real world, though, they get caught.


TOM ROBINSON, CHIEF SCIENTIST, ELLIPTIC: 1The moment criminals will cash out the dollars or Euros or whatever. And so in the vast majority of cases, we do see the funds sent to an exchange. If that exchange is regulated, then you should be identifying their customers and reporting any suspicious activity.


WALSH: Still it gets harder with tricks like mixers that enable users' cryptocurrencies to get mixed together like shuffling used dollar bills, disguising their ownership.


ROBINSON: It's about identifying who the perpetrators are, but also ensuring that it's very difficult for these criminals to cash out. That means there's less of an incentive to commit this kind of crime in the first place.


WALSH: In short, don't pay the money. But if you already have, follow it. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


AVLON: Fascinating. All right. In semi-related news, El Salvador has become the first country to adopt Bitcoin as a legal currency. Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the move Tuesday night. It means that Bitcoin will become legal tender in about three months, side by side with the U.S. dollar.

The decision gave a shot in the arm to Bitcoin, which is trading up. Most central banks have been hesitant to embrace cryptocurrencies, but as Patrick Oppmann reports from Havana, El Salvador is not.

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: El Salvador's Congress has approved a plan that would make the Central American nation the first country in the world to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender. This was expected as the Congress is controlled -- the majority of the Congress is controlled by Salvadoran president, Nayib Bukele, and he had made an announcement at a Bitcoin conference in Miami that El Salvador would be taking this novel and controversial approach at adopting Bitcoin as a legally accepted currency across the country, as well as the U.S. dollar, which El Salvador has used since 2001.

Bukele says that he's hopeful that this will bring investment to El Salvador since Bitcoin entrepreneurs will be granted residency and will not be taxed for the money they make trading Bitcoin if they live in El Salvador. He's also hopeful that the majority of Salvadorans who do not use formal -- the formal banking system in that country, that they will begin to adopt Bitcoin.

Billions of dollars flow from Salvadorans living in the US to their native country. And the hope is that they will be able to get more efficiently and more cheaply using Bitcoin. How this will all really play out is yet to be determined.

El Salvador is a country that has massive problems with corruption, with gang violence. And, of course, many people in that country do not trust banks, but they are unlikely to trust a virtual currency that they cannot touch or hold a currency that over recent months has been incredibly volatile.

It remains to be seen whether people who have very little money will take the risk in investing that in Bitcoin, but El Salvador is the first country to do this and it is a milestone for Bitcoin. Now, the question remains whether other countries will follow their lead. Patrick Oppmann, CNN Havana.

AVLON: And this just in to CNN, the military junta, now ruling Myanmar, has just announced it will charge deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi with crimes under the country's anti-corruption law. Three other former officials are also facing new charges. Suu Kyi has been held in detention and rarely seen since the military deposed her in a government coup on February 1st. We'll continue to follow this so stay with CNN for more details.

CNN Uganda is in the middle of a second Coronavirus wave as the country's vaccine supply dwindles as cases rise and hospitals run out of space. The country is now being forced to build mobile hospitals. CNN's Larry Madowo has the details.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kampala's main stadium, now a temporary hospital for COVID patients. The Ugandan government says this makeshift treatment center is only for mild to moderate cases. But CNN witnessed a body being carted away.

Last week, the World Health Organization says cases here were up 137 percent, the second straight week of triple digit spike in infections. Across town, 40-year-old Stephen Ntambi was finally well enough to be taken off a ventilator just hours before we arrived.


STEPHEN NTAMBI, COVID-19 PATIENT: Now that I have a second chance, people shouldn't play with their lives recklessly when it comes to COVID. The way I feel now, I feel like God has given me a thousand more years.


MADOWO: It's all hands on deck at this hospital. The ICU has been overcapacity for the last two weeks, even after adding 50 percent more beds. They keep turning away new patients who need critical care.


ERASMUS EREBU OKELO, INTENSIVIST, TMR INTERNATIONAL HOSPITAL: I believe we had a bit but then we got emergencies and we may have used up a bit.


MADOWO: The calls keep coming.


MADOWO: How many similar calls have you heard today?

OKELO: I don't know. I would say about 15 calls just this morning.


MADOWO: Every patient in this wing of the small private hospital is on life support. It's also taking a strain on the staff, some of whom have had to do 24-hour shifts because the need is far greater than the medical professionals available.


The average age of the patients is 40, doctors tell us. The youngest was only 18.


OKELO: Why exactly are we seeing young people? One is that for sure it's a more aggressive strain. But the other thing also could be that, you know, after the first wave, we might have gotten quite excited enough to slack in on, you know, on our preventive measures.


MADOWO: It's a crisis that could have been avoided, says Uganda's top health official.


DIANA ATWINE, PERMANENT SECRETARY, UGANDAN HEALTH MINISTRY: If we got this vaccine at the end of last wave, our community would be much better than what we are experiencing now.

MADOWO: Considering you have only vaccinated two percent of the Ugandan population, when will you have enough people vaccinated that life can return to normal here?

ATWINE: I cannot answer that because I'm not in charge of I cannot access the vaccines. If I could access the vaccines, even tomorrow, would conduct -- could conduct, you know, a national-wide campaign and vaccinate.


MADOWO: With almost all Uganda's unvaccinated, the government warns that each positive person could infect between 80 to 100 people. Uganda has strict social distancing guidelines, but it's business as usual here in downtown Kampala. People have to be here to make a living. It's impossible to work from home. But they may have little choice for the next six weeks, as Uganda is now in partial lockdown again. Larry Mundo CNN, Kampala.


AVLON: Tokyo 2020 is out just 43 days away. The Summer Olympics were, of course, postponed last year because of the pandemic. And because the pandemic is far from over, organizers are under pressure to track athletes who started to arrive in Japan. CNN's Blake Essig is live from Tokyo. Blake, what's the reaction to this new tracking news?

BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, as far as the tracking is concerned, that is the current border control method for really anybody entering the country. Now, as you mentioned, the Olympics are just 43 days away and while we are still waiting for the third and final version of the Playbooks outlining COVID-19 countermeasures to be released, organizing officials are offering a little insight in how they plan to monitor all participants.

Now, we learned earlier this week that foreign media covering the games will be tracked using that GPS locators. And just last night, organizers said that athletes and support staff are likely to be tracked as well. And as I mentioned, anyone who currently enters the country from abroad is made to identify where they'll be serving their 14-day quarantine and download a GPS tracking application on their smart phone. Now throughout quarantine, you're messaged to report your location two to three times per day.

Now games organizers say that real-time surveillance would be too much. It would require too much manpower to be able to do and so it's unlikely that they'll move forward with real-time surveillance unless there's a confirmed case. And while Olympic organizers maintain that the games will go ahead this summer, last night, Japan's Prime Minister said that the health and safety of the Japanese people will be a deciding factor. Take a lesson.


YOSHIHIDE SUGA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): It's my duty to protect the lives and safety of the Japanese people. If I can't do that, I'm saying we can't do it. Protecting the Japanese people is my duty. It's natural not to hold the Olympics if we can't protect them. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ESSIG: Now officials maintain that about 80 percent of the athletes participating in the games will be vaccinated. Despite efforts to speed up vaccinations locally, that won't be the case for Japanese residents. As of today, just shy of four percent of people are fully vaccinated.

And despite the slow rollout to this point, Suga says he aims to vaccinate all citizens who need and want to be vaccinated by November. And John, that's about three months after the Olympic Games will have been -- have come to an end.

AVLON: Blake Essig live in Tokyo. Thank you very much. All right. Coming up on CNN Newsroom. President Joe Biden arrives in England for the G7 summit. His first overseas trip since taking office. We'll explain what he hopes to accomplish. Just that.


AVLON: Returning to our top story and Joe Biden's first overseas trip as U.S. president. The president and first lady are now spending the night in Cornwall on southern England's Atlantic coast. On Friday, he and other G7 leaders will gather in nearby Carbis Bay for the group's first in-person summit in almost two years.


After traveling next week to confer with NATO ministers in Brussels, the president wraps up his trip on Wednesday with his first one-on-one summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

Before traveling to Cornwall, the president laid out his agenda. What he loves to accomplish in a speech to U.S. service members, shortly after touching down in England.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins has all the details.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States is back, and democracies of the world are standing.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: On his first trip abroad, President Biden is hoping to restore America's standing while reassuring the allies that his predecessors spent four years torching.

BIDEN: I'm heading to the G7, then to the NATO ministerial, and then to meet with Mr. Putin, to let him know what I want him to know.

COLLINS: His weeklong trip begins with a stop on the Cornish coast of England for the G7 summit before a trip to Windsor Castle to meet with the queen.

Next, Biden will head to Brussels to sit down with wary NATO allies still reeling from the Trump era. He finishes his trip with a face-to- face sit-down, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

As a former senator and vice president, Biden is bringing decades of foreign policy experience with him.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's been getting ready for 50 years.

COLLINS: But he'll also have to grapple with new challenges. As infections surge in countries where vaccines are in short supply, there are major questions about U.S. plans for vaccine sharing.

BIDEN: We have to end COVID-19, not just at home, which is what we're doing, but everywhere.

COLLINS: Sources say President Biden plans to announce the U.S. has purchased and will donate 500 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine worldwide by 2022.

BIDEN: There's no wall high enough to keep us safe from this pandemic.

COLLINS: On the diplomatic front, Biden is saving the most high-stakes meeting for last.

BIDEN: I'll travel to Geneva to sit down with a man I've spent time with before, President Vladimir Putin.

COLLINS: It will be the first meeting between a U.S. president and the Russian leader since Donald Trump publicly embraced Putin in Helsinki.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.

COLLINS: Among the tense topics will be the rise in Russia-based ransomware attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure.

BIDEN: I've been clear, the United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way when the Russian government engages in harmful activities.

COLLINS: The White House still unsure if Putin will take questions alongside Biden, like he did with Trump.

BIDEN: I'm going to communicate that there are consequences for violating the sovereignty of democracies. in the United States, in Europe and elsewhere.

COLLINS: While visiting U.S. troops after arriving in the U.K., Biden driving home this message on democracy.

BIDEN: We have to discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over, as some of our fellow nations believe. We have to expose as false the narrative that decrees of dictators can match the speed and scale of the 21st challenges.

COLLINS (on camera): And President Biden is scheduled to have several one-on-one meetings with world leaders, while he is abroad on this first foreign trip. Of course, the first one is going to be with the host of the G7 summit, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.


Kaitlan Collins, CNN, traveling with the president, in Cornwall.


AVLON: Mexico's president is praising U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and says bilateral relationships have broken new ground. But her two-day swing through Mexico and Guatemala has hit a few bumps, some Democrats criticizing her for telling migrants in Guatemala not to come to the U.S. and Republicans said she should have visited the U.S. border with Mexico first.

Sources say administration officials were puzzled by her answers to NBC anchor Lester Holt about her border visit.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you have any plans to visit the border?

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At some point, he now, we are going to the border, we've been to the border. So this whole -- this whole thing about the border, we've been to the border. We've been to the border.

HOLT: You haven't been to the border.

HARRIS: And I haven't been to Europe, and I mean, I don't -- I don't understand the point you're making.


AVLON: Vice President Harris says she will visit the border soon, while emphasizing that her focus is on addressing the root crosses of migration.

The U.S. is imposing sanctions on senior members of Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega's regime, including his daughter. That's after police detained seven high-profile opposition leaders there, accusing them of acting against the sovereignty of the country.

The arrests leave Mr. Ortega nearly unopposed for a fourth term in this November's election.

As reports of detentions emerged, Costa Rica's president tweeted that it was the night of the long knives in the tropics.

Coming up, a bombshell report on some of the world's richest people. How are so many billionaires getting away with paying little to no income taxes? We're going to tell you, after this break.

And, what's in a name? Apparently, a lot, if you're part of the British royal family. Find out while the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are defending the name of their newborn daughter. That's coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AVLON: They say the rich just get richer. Many don't pay their fair share of taxes, or any at all.

Well, a bombshell report reveals that's the case with the 25 richest Americans. And here's what makes it even more outrageous. What they're doing is totally illegal.

CNN's Christine Romans explains.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR (voice- over): When it's time to pay taxes, new reporting from ProPublica says the nation's top 25 richest people pay little to nothing at all. The revelation after an anonymous source sent the publication years of tax returns from thousands of the wealthiest Americans, including Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

PAUL KIEL, REPORTER, PROPUBLICA: We had to work for months on this, to get it into a shape where we, you know, were -- were satisfied that it was -- you know, it was accurate and it was saying something clear.


ROMANS: Take a look at Amazon founder and CEO Bezos. According to ProPublica's reporting, back in 2007, his wealth increased $3.8 billion and paid nothing in federal income taxes.

Neither did Tesla founder Elon Musk in 2018. And not a penny from George Soros for the three years between 2016 and 2018.

And it's all legal, thanks to U.S. tax codes, which focus more on wages, as opposed to investments, which are usually taxed at lower rates. That's something billionaires like Bezos can take advantage of, along with complicated tax loopholes and write-offs.

Pro Publica says, while the now richest man in the world's wealth grew $99 billion between 2014 and 2018, he only paid 973 million in taxes, at a rate of less than 1 percent.

KIEL: So if you, like, are Jeff Bezos, and you're sitting on top of this wealth, you're getting richer by the day, that doesn't get transformed into income if you don't put that on your tax return until you saw your stock, generally.

ROMANS: And for Buffett, who has said in the past he favors raising taxes for the rich, his wealth grew by $24 billion between 2014 and 2018, and the amount of taxes paid? Twenty-three point seven million or just 0.1 percent of his wealth.

Buffet telling ProPublica tax codes should be changed substantially, and "huge dynastic wealth is not desirable for our society."

According to Pro Publica's analysis, the 25 richest Americans were with $1.1 trillion dollars by the end of 2018. It would take 14.3 million ordinary American wage workers to make that same amount of wealth, the IRS and the FBI are now investigating this leak. And the Biden administration says it's looking into the situation.

PSAKI: Any unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information by a person with access is illegal, and we take this very seriously.

ROMANS: White House press secretary Jen Psaki also emphasized President Biden's proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy, to help finance his spending plans.

PSAKI: We know that there is more to be done to ensure that corporations, individuals who are at the highest income are paying more of their fair share.


AVLON: That was Christine Romans reporting there.

Now, according to ProPublica's analysis, the top 25 wealthiest Americans paid $1.19 billion in federal taxes in 2018. It took 14 million regular wage earners to have the same wealth as the top 25. And they paid $144 billion in taxes.

Jeff Bezos' representative refused to accept ProPublica's questions. Elon Musk replied with a question mark, but did not respond to detailed questions about his taxes.

A spokesman for George Soros told ProPublica between 2016 and 2018, George Soros lost money on his investments. Therefore, he did not owe federal income taxes in those years.

Mr. Soros has long supported higher taxes for wealthy Americans.

Thanks for watching this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Be sure to stay tuned to WORLD SPORT. During the break, find me on Twitter, @JohnAvlon. I'll be back in 15 minutes, and I'll see you then.