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U.S. President Sets Ambitious Agenda on First Foreign Trip; U.S. President Biden to Meet with British Prime Minister Johnson Soon; Russia Declares Navalny's Groups "Extremist"; U.S. House Democrats Release McGahn Testimony; Drought Across Western U.S. Brings Threat of More Fires; U.S. President Arrives in England for Two-Day G7 Summit. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 10, 2021 - 04:00   ET



KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to all of you watching here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Bianca Nobilo live from Cornwall, England, coming up now on CNN NEWSROOM --


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm headed 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.


NOBILO: U.S. president Joe Biden arriving at the G7 summit with a warning for Vladimir Putin. Russia will face consequences for harmful activity.

BRUNHUBER: Plus scorching conditions flare wildfires in western U.S. states. Now thousands are under evacuation orders.

And Chinese apps like TikTok and WeChat face fresh scrutiny by the Biden administration. We're live in Beijing for reaction.

NOBILO: Joe Biden has kicked off the first foreign tour of his presidency, determined to shore up damaged alliances and send a strong message to Russia and China. The American president is now here in Cornwall, England, where the G7 Summit will get under way on Friday. But first he has a big meeting with the host, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And joining us know we have Nic Robertson who is live in Carbis Bay. Nic, are you with us?


NOBILO: I think we've lost Nic. We've got Nic. Nic, all eyes at the moment are going to be on this relationship between the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden. Based on what we know of both men and their political styles what can we expect from their meetings and what areas might they converged on and where might we see some challenges when it comes to deciding on policy?

ROBERTSON: Yes, going on sort of past statements by President Biden he perhaps doesn't consider Prime Minister Boris Johnson a natural ally because he described him as essentially a mini Donald Trump previously. But they will be allies and strengthening the alliance between the two countries with an Atlantic Charter that will look at strengthening trade ties, look at strengthening travel during the COVID pandemic, look at strengthening. The mutual stand to stand up for democracy and talk about the sort of importance of shared security relationships. So all of that coming in what's expected to be announced an Atlantic Charter, harkening back to the Atlantic Charter that was signed between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

So that will be important and that will sort of help cover up any differences between them. But there will be tensions undoubtedly over specifically Brexit, the Northern Irish protocols are causing Boris Johnson difficulty with the European Union. He would like to have President Biden's support on that, but Biden shades his favor towards -- towards the European Union and Ireland and has said that the Good Friday Agreement of Northern Ireland is a solid foundation and it is essentially the bedrock of peace in Northern Ireland. And that's something that he doesn't want to see compromised and is concerned that it might be given Boris Johnson's wrangling with the European Union. So tensions in there, but I think the headlines from the event will obviously be very positive ones about strengthening relationship between the two countries.

NOBILO: And Nic, something which often strengthens relationships, multilateral relationships, is having a common threat and deciding to take action on that to protect themselves. And when we consider both perceived threats of China and Russia, where does the U.S.A. stand on those threats and what do you think they want from their G7 allies to take action on both those countries?

ROBERTSON: Yes, President Biden has been really clear on this. He believes that we are at a historic inflection point whereby democracies must stand up for the value of democracy. Stand up to the autocrats and the populous around the world who would try to sell a different brand of leadership.


And so he looks to the allies here, which are natural allies in terms of support of democracy. To be able to send that clear message to both China on their human rights abuses and trade practices as well, but also very specifically to President Putin who he will be having a summit with at the end of his meetings here in the U.K. and in Brussels, and on that point he's very clear that transgressions by President Putin will come at a price.


BIDEN: We're not seeking conflict with Russia, we want a stable, predictable relationship. Our two nations share incredible responsibilities and among them, ensuring strategic stability and upholding arms control agreements. I take that responsibility seriously.


ROBERTSON (on camera): So that stable, predictable relationship is something that United States allies look for as well and didn't get under President Trump. So in part this is also sort of reframing and stabilizing the U.S. relationship not just with the U.K., but all the partners here at the G7 and the others, South Korea, Australia and -- Australia and India who have been invited as well to the G7.

NOBILO: Nic Robertson for us in Carbis Bay. Thanks so much.

I believe we have Matthew Chance standing by in Moscow. Matthew, I'd love to get your thoughts on some of the points that Nic touched on there. This fighting talk from President Joe Biden almost as soon as he touched down in the United Kingdom sending a strong message to Vladimir Putin. How has that gone down in Russia?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, look, I mean, that kind of rhetoric coming from the U.S. president is not going to do anything in terms of changing the behavior of Vladimir Putin. In fact, within the past, you know, few hours, you know, last night here local time the courts here made illegal Alexei Navalny's political outfit, basically designated it an extremist group. Meaning that anybody who belongs to it, organizes protests on behalf of the main opposition leader could face up to six years in prison.

And so, while Joe Biden over there in Britain is saying we're going to stand up to autocracy you've got Vladimir Putin here doubling down essentially on the autocracy that he oversees. And so, that along with all the other issues like election meddling, like hacking, like the military threat to Ukraine and the host of other issues that stand between the United States and Russia, it sets us up for what promises to be a very fraught political face-to-face meeting in Geneva between the two leaders in six days from now -- Bianca.

NOBILO: It does seem, Matthew, that -- well, some experts believe that Russia is sending a message to leaders ahead of that meeting in Geneva and particularly -- and in particular the court in Moscow declared two organizations led by Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader, extremist groups. That means that those groups will have to shut down, that their members can't run in legislative elections. It's not unusual to see that type of behavior from Russia, but given what Alexei Navalny had said in response, what can we expect to see? It sounds like there's going to be a collision course.

CHANCE: Well exactly. I mean, again, look, I mean, that decision by the Moscow courts which is of course the conduit for decisions from the top, from the Kremlin, just above the Kremlin, say they deny that. Has basically designated Alexei Navalny's group an extremist group and that's primarily, I think, for domestic reasons because we've got parliamentary elections come up here in Russia in three months from now, in September. The ruling party which is overseen by Vladimir Putin has had hits in the polls because of the economic situation, because of the ongoing COVID pandemic here. And they're very paranoid that they are going to see their support and their representation in Parliament eroded and lose seat. Lose political ground to opposition candidates who are backed by Alexei Navalny. So they've moved decisively to prevent that from happening.

But there is this other message as well as I mentioned which is this crackdown on dissent in Russia, specifically the party of Alexei Navalny -- who is, of course, languishing in a prison for the next two and a half years at the moment -- does send a powerful rebuke as well to Joe Biden, who is saying, look, we're going to crack down on autocracy, we're going to stand up to autocracy. It's Putin showing that as he goes into this meeting with Joe Biden, the first face-to- face that they have had, by the way, since Joe Biden became the president of the United States, it shows that Putin is not going to be backed down -- not going to be backing down. And it sets on this issue or on probably any other issue as well.


And so, it sets us up for what could be an incredibly tense standoff between these two figures. I'm certainly looking forward to witnessing the press conference that the two leaders may well hold at the end of that summit.

NOBILO: You and me both, Matthew. Thank you. Matthew Chance for us in Moscow.

And we did have a couple of technical difficulties I think that's because the weather is starting to turn, it's overcast with a downpour of rain. So Kim, President Biden will be pleased on his first foreign trip to the U.K. He's getting a dose of British weather. Back to you.

BRUNHUBER: Authentic weather, absolutely. Thanks so much, Bianca.

Meat supplier JBS U.S.A. him grossly. is revealing it paid an $11 million ransom after a cyber him attack shut down its entire beef processing operation. The company's CEO says it was a difficult decision but it paid the ransom to protect customers. Officials are attributing the attack to a criminal gang believed to be based in Eastern Europe.

The long awaited testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn has been released. In it McGahn told the House Judiciary Committee that the then President Trump repeatedly urged him to oust Robert Mueller the special counsel in the Russia investigation. McGahn described the former president as obsessed with the probe and says he considered Trump's request a point of no return. CNN's Ryan Nobles has details.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It took Don McGahn more than two years to appear in front of the House Judiciary Committee, but that happened last Friday and his testimony, the transcription of it was finally released on Wednesday. And it will reveal what most of us already knew. McGahn confirming that former president Donald Trump did have conversations and did make a push to try to remove Robert Mueller as special counsel.

But McGahn revealed that he pushed back on that. Would not allow Trump to take that step, and he even went as far as to say that when Trump asked him to deny that he had tried to remove Mueller as special counsel that he refused to do so because he was afraid that it would expose him criminally and so also potentially expose President Trump criminally as well.

But McGahn also talked about Trump's disposition in this period of time. He described him as being out of control at points and even said that some of the things that Trump was asking him to do were downright crazy. Now, this testimony is important, but it likely won't amount to anything. Now the Mueller report has already been issued, the former president has already beat back an impeachment proceedings. But it was still important for House Democrats to make this happen, to compel him to testify. They believe that that was important, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi putting out a statement late Wednesday saying that his testimony alone, regardless of what it revealed, with as a victory for democracy.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.


BRUNHUBER: The U.S. Attorney General is defending the Department of Justice following a series of controversial arguments that endorsed legal positions held by the Trump administration, including a defamation lawsuit related to a rape allegation against the former president. The department says since the comments in question were made while Trump was president it, and not Trump, should be the defendant in the case. Merrick Garland was asked to explain those moves while on Capitol Hill Wednesday and here is what he said. Listen to this.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The essence of the rule of law is what I said when I accepted the nomination for Attorney General. It is that like cases be treated alike, that there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans. That there not be one rule for friends and another for foes. Now, it is not always easy to apply that rule. Sometimes it means that we have to make a decision about the law that we would never have made and that we strongly disagree with as a matter of policy.


BRUNHUBER: A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is trying to keep President Joe Biden's infrastructure hopes alive after his talks with some key with Republicans collapsed. The small group has been discussing what to include and how to pay for it. Biden had proposed a $1.7 trillion plan but Republicans are double down saying raises taxes isn't an option they're willing to consider.

Well, it's fire season once again here in the U.S. last year was the worst on record for California as you may remember but this year might be even worse. We will take a closer look. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: The U.S. is taking a big step towards helping poor countries get vaccinated. It's bought 500 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to donate worldwide. A source tells CNN President Biden will announce the news at the G7 summit today.

Now, it comes as the vaccination drive at home continues. The CDC says there are now eight states that fully vaccinated more than half of their residents. U.S. surgeon general is warning that the rise of variants means a greater risk to those not vaccinated.


VIVEK MURTHY U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: We are blessed, absolutely blessed, to have multiple options here in terms of vaccines. There are places in the world where these vaccines are not available and my hope is that people will take advantage of this opportunity that they have to protect themselves, protect their communities and get vaccinated as quickly as possible. There will be another pathogen that comes our way like COVID-19, the question is, will we be ready.


BRUNHUBER: Meanwhile, about two dozen states have decided to scale back their daily tracking of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. That's according to Johns Hopkins University. But some health officials are calling the move premature.

The company behind the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline is officially walking away. It was supposed to carry oil from the tar sands of Canada into the U.S., but President Biden revoked a key permit for it on his first day in office. TC Energy then had to suspend all construction. Environmental groups and indigenous leaders have been fighting the project for years. They are now hoping for more wins, especially with the line three and Dakota access pipelines.


Parts of the western U.S. are dealing with wildfires and the massive drought there isn't helping, but on the other side of the country, well it's the complete opposite problem. You're seeing firefighters in Virginia rescuing people trapped in their cars because of flash floods. Meteorologist Tyler Mauldin now joins me live. The potential for this fire season to be even worse than last year considering how dry it is out there, but let's start with the opposite problem, the flooding. What's the latest?

TYLER MAULDIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, out here across the southeastern U.S. we seem to be having a little trouble turning off the spigot. This slow moving area of low pressure is slowly moving to the north on this Thursday and it is giving way to more in the way of rainfall across the southeast. Here in Arkansas and portions of northern Mississippi some of us have

seen nearly 20 inches of rainfall over the last three days and we're going to add those totals as the system does push up to the northeast. From the mid-south all the way up into the mid-Atlantic we do have about 13 million Americans under a flash flood watch. You can see here in Washington and also the outer banks of North Carolina we can see some substantial rainfall amounts over the next few days there as well.

Pushing out to the west we have this weather maker pushing east and that is going to increase the fire risk out across the West Coast. We currently have about 25 large active wildfires at the moment, the west is terribly dry. We have 96 percent of the West Coast in a drought right now. As that system pushes over it's actually going to cause the humidity levels to drop and the wind gusts to pick up and that's a recipe for a very, very extreme risk for fires, especially out here in Utah and portions of Colorado. That's where we have the highest threat level here.

We also have red flag warnings and fire weather watches up for this part of the country as well. And Kim, I want to end with this, because not only is that system going to elevate the fire risk there across the West Coast, it's also going to lead to fairly substantial severe weather outbreak later on tonight across the northern central plains and that will last on into the wee hours of Friday.

BRUNHUBER: All right, something more to watch for. Thanks so much meteorologist Tyler Mauldin. Appreciate it.

MAULDIN: You got it.

BRUNHUBER: Billions of plastic pellets have been released into the sea following the devastating fire on a ship in Sri Lanka. The vessel is still submerged off the coast of Colombo. An environmental group tells CNN that the plastic pellets have been the biggest pollutant so far contaminating almost 100 miles of a scenic beach. But the arduous cleanup is under way. You can see the huge number of bags piled up on the beach. Thankfully, there are still no signs of an oil spill from the submerged ship.

All right, still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, President Biden says TikTok can stay for now, but he's changing how the government will assess security threats posed by foreign-controlled apps.

And Joe Biden touches down in England for the G7 Summit and announces the United States is back. We will explain what's next. Stay with us.



NOBILO: Back to our lead in the arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden in Cornwall, England, for the G7 summit. It's his first trip abroad since taking office. It also represents a major attempt at fence mending with America's most reliable European allies after four years of Donald Trump's belligerent isolationism. Later today President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson will

embrace a renewed Atlantic Charter, a strategic document between the U.S. and the U.K. dating back to 1941. The Prime Minister as summit host said COVID-19 and climate change would be major areas of discussion among many others.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Here at the G7 what we're looking at is making sure that we have a new treaty on pandemics, working to that, building back greener, building back better, which is why we're looking at what's going on here in Cornwall with all the green technology. But also talking about the values we have in common, everything we want to do together. It is a huge agenda.


NOBILO: It's worth noting that the G7 actually has eight members if you factor in the EU. From 1998 to 2014 the group was called the G8, but then Russia who was then a member was suspended for annexing Crimea. Kaitlan Collins shows us what President Biden hopes to accomplish at this year's summit.


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

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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 (voice-over): 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.