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Criminal Indictments to be Unsealed in Hours Against the Trump Organization; Cosby Accusers Express Outrage Over Court Ruling; Water Gushed into Garage Moments Before Building Fell; Vaccinations are Best Protection Against Delta Variant; Historic Heat Wave Affects Millions in Wester U.S. and Canada. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 1, 2021 - 04:00   ET



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

Ahead in CNN NEWSROOM, criminal charges against the Trump organization and its CFO are expected to be unsealed in just hours from now. What are the likely charges and what does it mean for former President Trump?

Plus --


GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR COSBY ACCUSERS: Mr. Cosby you can celebrate tonight but this is going to continue.


BRUNHUBER: Bill Cosby's accusers vow to continue their legal fight after he is freed from prison. Why the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out his sexual assault conviction.

And later, Prince William and Harry will unveil a statue honoring their mother, Princess Diana. We're live outside Kensington Palace for their closely watched reunion.

In a matter of hours criminal indictments against Donald Trump's family business and one of its top executives are due to be unsealed. Now we don't know the specific charges yet, but sources say they are related to fringe benefits the Trump Organization gave to employees and whether taxes should have been paid on them. Paula Reid has details.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: A New York grand jury has returned charges against the Trump Organization and its longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg. Now these charges are expected to contain allegations that both the company and employees like Weisselberg, they didn't properly disclose certain perks that were doled out to employees, like free apartments, free cars, even free school tuition that they did not pay proper taxes. The allegations here really stem from alleged tax crimes.

Note it is very unusual to charge a company criminally for not paying taxes on company perks, especially because so many employees at different companies receive these kinds of perks. Now when it comes to private school tuition, Weisselberg may have a difficult time defending that as opposed to a free apartment or a car service. But we know that New York prosecutors they have been engaging in a pressure campaign on Mr. Weisselberg to get him to cooperate, to get him to flip on his former boss, former President Trump.

Now, at this point there is no indication that the former president or any member of his family will be charged. But we know that this investigation is active and ongoing. We expect that there will be court proceedings later this afternoon, but after that, this investigation continues, prosecutors will continue to press Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate. He has made it pretty clear he doesn't intend to do that, but sometimes after criminal charges are filed, people change their mind depending on the strength of the evidence.

Now we know the prosecutors are also scrutinizing other Trump Organization executives including a long time Trump executive Matthew Calamari and his son. So again, at this point no indication that the former president or any member of his family will be charged, but this investigation will continue after today.


BRUNHUBER: CNN's Paula Reid reporting there. Now Weisselberg is expected to surrender to authorities in the coming hours and he'll be formally charged later in the day. CNN's Legal analysts say the former president is safe from prosecution for now.


ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If you are Donald Trump, this is a good news/bad news situation. The bad news is your company is about to get indicted, the company that bears your name. That means they're going to have a long expensive difficult legal battle and if they're convicted, that means they could have to pay major fines, restitution, even could spell the end of the Trump Org.

The good news if you're Donald Trump is, you're not going to jail based on an indictment of the Trump Org. No individual can go to jail based on an indictment of a cooperation. And if you're Donald Trump I think it's reasonable to conclude that at this point prosecutors don't believe they have enough or they're not ready to indict Donald Trump individually.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There's no modern precedent for this. There have been some allegations. Some that have come out later about the business dealings of former presidents of both parties. But we've never seen an event like this again. The opening salvo prosecutors have reportedly made clear that they are going to continue to investigate and that means that Donald Trump is at substantial risk.


Including if Mr. Weisselberg decides that the possible prospect of jail time isn't appealing to him and he cooperates with prosecutors, acts as a Sherpa as a guide for them.


BRUNHUBER: Trump lashed out at the prosecutors saying the investigation led by two Democrats is politically motivated.

Bill Cosby is waking up this morning a free man for the first time in nearly three years. His sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Wednesday, the court ruling said he was unfairly prosecuted. Cosby thanked his supporters in a tweet saying he's always maintained his innocence. Here's what he had to say after his release.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever think this day would come and sooner than most expected?

BILL COSBY: Yes. I don't know if you've ever seen the special on the fellow who shot Martin Luther King.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe I -- go ahead.

COSBY: There's an interview with the chief of police, and he says a guilty person knows more than anybody. Well, I'm not guilty.


CHURCH: Many of Cosby's accusers say that they are outraged by the ruling. One attorney representing several of the women called it a slap in the face. More now from CNN's Jason Carroll.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Walking free. Bill Cosby leaving prison after Pennsylvania's highest court vacated his conviction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just said his heart was racing. He couldn't believe it.

CARROLL (voice over): The 83-year-old former comedian now home after being released this afternoon. The court deciding that prosecutors violated his due process rights.

Writing: The subsequent decision by successor DA to prosecute Cosby violated Cosby's due process rights. He must be discharged in any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred.

According to the court, Cosby was originally promised immunity in exchange for testimony in a civil case. A decade later, a different prosecutor used that testimony against him in his criminal trial.

BRIAN PERRY, ATTORNEY FOR BILL COSBY: We said from day one we just didn't think he was treated fairly and that the system has to be fair. And fortunately, the Supreme Court agreed with us.

CARROLL (voice over): In 2018, Cosby was sentenced to three to 10 years in state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. That conviction came after a mistrial on the same charges.

Cosby, once known as America's dad has long fought for his release being denied appeal in 2019 and denied parole just last month. His conviction was the first high profile celebrity case in the MeToo era.


CROWD: Guilty. Guilty.

CARROLL (voice over): And his release dealing a blow to the multiple women who accused him of sexual assault. A lawyer for three of the accusers tweeting --

He is not released because he is innocent. He is released because a prosecutor promised him years ago that he would not be brought to justice.

Andrea Constand, the woman at the center of the criminal case and her lawyers releasing a statement saying in part: Today's majority decision regarding Bill Cosby is not only disappointing but of concern despite the ultimate outcome which resulted from a procedural technicality and we urge all victims to have their voices heard.

But Cosby does have some support in former co-star Phylicia Rashad who tweeted: Finally. A terrible wrong is being righted -- a miscarriage of justice is corrected.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.


BRUNHUBER: Bill Cosby's attorney told CNN earlier she believes the court made the right decision because the criminal trial was never fair. Listen to this.


JENNIFER BONJEAN, ATTORNEY FOR BILL COSBY: I have no problem with a just and verdict if you get there a fair way. But when you cheat to get there, there is no righteousness or justice in that verdict.

You also had a jury that heard evidence that they shouldn't have heard both in the form of this deposition that was obtained illegally and you also had a jury that heard evidence from frankly other bad act, other accusers it should never have heard, because we don't live in a world where we try people's character, we try crimes.

So I don't believe we had a fair trial. And all of this prevented Mr. Cosby from being able to tell his story from the witness stand because of that deposition. So let's not say, oh, this is just a technicality or we know what really happened. You don't know what really happened. This trial would have been entirely different and also, it never should have happened in the first place.



Well obviously, Cosby's accusers disagree. Several spoke with CNN about what they felt when they heard the court's ruling.


CHELAN LASHA, COSBY ACCUSER: I'm totally overwhelmed. When I got the call this morning, I felt like I was hit by a train, you know. He deserved to be what he did because what he did is unjust. He's out on a technicality, but it doesn't change the fact he is a predator.

LISE-LOTTE LUBLIN, COSBY ACCUSER: He's still professing that he is innocent, but he's not innocent. He is a notorious rapist. And he just got away with it. And this just sets back victims for wanting to come forward and give their voice because they feel like if you have enough money and you have enough time and money to work with someone that will help you and you can pay them, you can get off just about on anything. So it's just a new fight that we have to go back to.


BRUNHUBER: So while Cosby can't be tried on the same criminal charges again, his legal troubles may not be over. Attorney Gloria Allred who represents several of the accusers says she's moving forward with a civil lawsuit against the disgraced actor in California that was previously put on hold pending the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling.

U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Surfside, Florida today to meet with families and rescue workers searching for those still missing in the Champlain Towers collapse.

The bodies of two child ages 4 and 10 have been pulled from the rubble. That brings the death toll to 18. It's been one week since the building collapse and despite rain and thunderstorms, search and rescue teams aren't giving up.

Two people staying in a nearby hotel recorded this video showing debris and water gushing in the buildings garage just minutes before the collapse. And a 2018 photo shows the early stages of a crack in the concrete of the pool equipment room. Experts say it matches the damage in another photograph from earlier this year. More now from CNN's Boris Sanchez.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New glimpses of the scene at Champlain Towers South moments before it collapsed.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): video captured by a couple staying nearby showing debris and water gushing into the underground garage, an area inspectors said needed repairs years earlier. A 2018 inspection report warning the pool slab right above the garage had major structural damage.

Adriana Sarmiento and Robert Castillero said they were on the pool deck of the hotel next door last Thursday when she heard a loud crash. Adriana, who's from Colombia, says she became alarmed when their building shook and she saw pieces of concrete on the ground. She told Roberto the tower would collapse.

ROBERTO CASTILLERO, WITNESSED COLLAPSE: I never thought that it really was going to collapse because in America, that never happen before. I told my wife, don't worry about it. It's not going to collapse.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): The couple watched as Champlain residents rushed to their balconies, confused about the sound. Adriana says she and Roberto scrambled into the street trying to wave for residents to evacuate, but they couldn't understand her The couple has trouble recalling what happened next, remembering only flashes.

CASTILLERO: Dust and then glass drop and then I start running for my life.

SANCHEZ: It took a few minutes to realize what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the fire truck's attention.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated text): They died, they died.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): Bruised and bloodied, the couple in disbelief.

CASTILLERO: I said where are the people on the balcony? The I didn't realize the building was not there.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): That image remains in my mind. For me, it's been very difficult thinking of everyone who lived there.

Minutes later, emergency crews began arriving on the scene with new dispatch audio revealing immediate calls for extra help.

DISPATCH: We have multiple victims outside of the building, going to need some resources. Require about 40 rescues, we've got as many as we can from the county. I understand we have two coming from Miami each and we'll use any additional resources.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Rescue workers have not stopped working the scene since and with the search soon entering its eighth day, exhaustion is setting in.

JIMMY PATRONIS, FLORIDA CFO, STATE FIRE MARSHAL: They're running on adrenaline right now. And we had one member of one of the fire rescue teams who got a little exhausted yesterday. He needed to go get IV'ed up and we got him to a hospital. Fill him up with a bunch of IV and saline and he's good to go. He's back on site.

SANCHEZ: And we confirmed on Wednesday that federal investigators will be looking into the causes of last week's collapse. The National Institute of Standards and Technology launching only the fifth investigation of this kind in the agency's history. Getting answers though may take some time. These investigations can take several years.

Boris Sanchez, CNN, Surfside, Florida.


BRUNHUBER: CNN is learning that those living in the tower right next door are getting maintenance updates for their own building. Several repairs are expected to begin this week.


The condo association says some of them weren't urgent but will now be taken care of to reassure residents after the collapse nearby. It also says there will soon be monitoring sensors on support pillars throughout the property.

In Los Angeles, a police bomb squad truck blew up Wednesday injuring at least 17 people. It was a massive explosion. Officers responded to a call about illegal fireworks seized in a huge stash of commercial grade materials as well as some improvised devices. The "L.A. Times" reports that police were trying to safely detonate the fireworks inside of an iron chamber of the containment truck, but obviously that failed in spectacular fashion there. Nearby homes and vehicles were damaged. An investigation is under way.

From Britain to Bangladesh and Australia to the U.S., the delta variant is spreading faster than the pace of COVID vaccinations.

DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: If you are fully vaccinated, and fully vaccinated, then there is good evidence that you have a high degree of protection against this virus. But if you are not vaccinated, then you are in trouble.



BRUNHUBER: The highly contagious delta variant is driving up COVID cases all over the world and has now been detected in all 50 U.S. states. Have a look at this. Here's how cases looked in past two weeks versus the previous two weeks. So lots of green there in the states where new infections were falling. Well here's the situation now, a lot more red, obviously, and orange marking where new cases have gone up in the past week. Well that's mostly because the delta variant is spreading quickly in communities with low vaccination rates. Experts are making it clear that the best way to escape is to get vaccinated.


MURTHY: What the data tells us so far and the reason CDC made its earlier decision on masking, is that if you are fully vaccinated, your chances of getting sick and transmitting the infection are low. So the key is -- you know, the key message really from delta is get vaccinated. It's the best way to protect yourself from this variant and from all the other variants that we've seen before.


BRUNHUBER: The U.K. is also heading towards another potential wave of coronavirus cases with the delta variant mostly to blame. The country just reported its highest number of new infections since the end of January.

Meanwhile health officials in Scotland say about 1,300 new cases there have been linked to Euro championship events in England.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is standing by in London. Salma, I read the strain accounts for some 99 percent of new COVID cases there. I mean, that's incredible. But how big of a worry really is this?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think everyone is really watching and waiting to see what happens here in the U.K., Kim, because quite unintentionally, this has become the battleground for that great battle between vaccines and variants. Because you have a highly vaccinated population here, over 85 percent of adults have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. At the same time you have this delta variant first identified in India, a variant that is described as aggressive and highly transmissible, spreading quite quickly.

So the highest number of cases reported yesterday, over 26,000, highest number of cases seen since late January. But I think government officials will argue with you, Kim, that the number that actually matters is the death toll. So yes, over 26,000 cases, but 14 deaths. I'm going to compare that to late January the last time that the case number was that high. At that point, there was 1,245 deaths. So 14 deaths versus over 1,200 deaths. And government officials will tell you that is down to the vaccination program, that has created a layer of protection that is keeping people out of hospital and keeping people from getting seriously ill.

That's why the authorities say it's still OK to lift the final restrictions in a few weeks' time, but they want to see more people get those vaccinations. The goal now is to get two thirds of adults both shots by July 19 when restrictions will be further eased.

But what we're also seeing, Kim, is that because vaccination -- the vaccination program here went by age, the group that's most vulnerable is the young. So one of the breeding grounds for the delta variant is schools. In the second week of June, one in 30 students had to miss school for COVID related reasons. That essentially means that somebody tested positive in their classroom, everyone had to go home.

So you're really seen both of these things converge. One is a delta variant that's spreading very quickly, a vaccination program that's ramping up. Officials say they have it under control. They are beating this battle with the variant and they will be able to reopen and to ease restrictions here and to sort of resume normal life despite this variant spreading. -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: So the bottom line, be careful but don't panic. Thank you so much, Salma Abdelaziz in London.

Bangladesh is now under a seven day lockdown after reporting a drastic increase in COVID infections. No one is allowed to leave their homes except to get essentials and government troops are patrolling to enforce the restriction. The country broke records on Wednesday reporting nearly 9,000 new cases. They're waiting on a shipment of 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine from the U.S.

Well just two day after setting Canada's highest ever recorded temperature, the village of Lytton is being evacuated due to a fast moving wildfire. It's just one of more than 40 wildfires know burning across British Columbia fueled by extreme heat. Dozens of wildfires are also burning across the Western U.S. as temperatures soar.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us with the latest. A confluence of a couple of disasters here. What are you watching for?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This is exactly what we saw in the works here with the extensive heat. Of course the long duration setup of the heat and the drought that we already know existed across this region.


But as you noted here, when you take a look at some of these images coming out of areas across British Columbia, not too far away from Lytton, where of course now the national hotspot across Canada with an incredible 121 degree observation. Which by the way, went down as the hottest ever observed at the 50 degree parallel mark here. It kind of shows you how far north the heat had extended to. But just 7 kilometers away from Lytton is where this fire is. It's consumed about 360 hectors of land and considered out of control at this hour.

And of course, the fire conditions across Canada -- much like the United States -- have been rampant. And you take a look to date we're seeing about 180 more fires than what we should be for the ten year average. And of course the wildfire season getting -- essentially peaking here in the next couple months and just getting started.

But you'll notice throughout the U.S., over 29,000 active fires observed -- the 29,000 wildfires observed and 25,000 is the ten year average for the U.S. as well.

And the extreme heat that has been responsible kind of setting the stage for everything to flourish in the last couple days shifting a little farther toward the East. The Northern Plains, portions of the Midwestern U.S. now getting in on the big time heat. Look at Chicago, holiday weekend approaches, Fourth of July Sunday, temperatures soar to their warmest temperatures of the season there up into the 90s. And then it will cool off a little bit going in towards next week. Maybe even a few thunderstorms towards the latter half of next week.

But the national perspective around the U.S. shows you some relief there. Mother nature's air conditioning in action across Seattle and Portland. Temperatures that were in the one teens have cooled off to the 70s and 80s. While around the northeastern U.S., they were also close to 100 degrees in the past 24 hours. They're going to be cooling off into the 80s with some rainfall coming in.

Speaking of rainfall, this is tropical depression 5, it has poised here to become what would be tropical storm Elsa over the next week or so. You'll notice the model guidance on this, I wanted to take it in toward the Windward Islands, eventually into the Caribbean, possibly around the island of Espanola. And yes, by early next week, we'll be watching this very carefully to see where it ends up, whether it be Florida, Gulf of Mexico. We may be looking at a tropical system, of course we know the season beginning to warm up and it certainly is looking like it when you look across the Atlantic -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, when they tract there. Thanks so much, meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Appreciate it.

Crews are working to clear mud and debris at Zion National Park in southern Utah after flash flooding on Tuesday. Several businesses suffered damage including two hotels. The park is now modified operations and says visitors should expect traffic delays, debris on roads and possibly trail and parking closures.

All right, of next, investigating the insurrection, how U.S. Democrats and two Republicans plan to get to the bottom of the January 6 Capitol riot.

Growing calls for an end to the violence in Afghanistan as the U.S. troop withdrawal could wrap up in just a matter of days. Will head to Kabul for the latest. Stay with us.