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Haitian President Assassinated In Brazen Attack; Rescue Efforts Transition To Recovery Operation; Former South African President Jacob Zuma In Custody; Fire at Dubai Port Brought Under Control; Trump Sues Tech Giants, Alleges Censorship; ESPN Pulls Reporter from NBA Finals after Leaked Audio. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 8, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead. Haitian police take swift action after the assassination of the country's president.

Plus, an exclusive inside look at a rebel training camp in Myanmar. How recruits there are preparing to take on the military junta.

And a devastating COVID milestone as countries around the world struggle to fight the rapid spread of the Delta variant.

Good to have you with us. Well, dramatic new developments in the assassination of the Haitian president. Haiti's envoy to the U.S. says police have killed four suspects and arrested two others and he says they are foreigners. He had previously described them as mercenaries.


BOCCHIT EDMOND, HAITI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: We can say for certain those are -- those were professional killers. It was a well-orchestrated attack against the president. I wish I had known the motivations behind this senseless act of killing.


CHURCH: President Jovenel Moise was gunned down at his home Wednesday under the cover of darkness. Martine Moise, the first lady was also shot and has been airlifted to Florida for treatment. She is reportedly in critical but stable condition. Haiti is now under a state of siege. The President's assassination happened against a backdrop of political

instability as well as extreme violence in the Haitian capital. Melissa Bell breaks it down for us.

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The assassination brings to an end the turbulent rule of Haiti's president, Jovenel Moise. But leaves the impoverished Caribbean nation in turmoil.

For months there have been protests around the country demanding Moise -- the President held on to power while the opposition claimed his continued rule was unconstitutional. His critics argued that according to Haiti's constitution, his five-year term as president started the day he was elected rather than the day he took office. But Moise is argued it was a year later that marked the true beginning.

Both the U.S. and the U.N. supported his claim to remain in power. But there had been widespread concern when Moise failed to hold legislative elections in 2019. Leaving the country without a functioning government. And a constitutional referendum postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic still hasn't taken place. Moise's presidency was plagued with a number of other problems.

U.N. officials say the country has been rocked by an uptick in kidnappings for ransom and a wave of criminal violence in recent months fueled by armed gangs. Thousands were forced to flee their homes as shootings and arson spread across Port-au-Prince in June. The continued political instability has left Haiti's economy in shambles. The COVID pandemic contributed to a contraction of nearly four percent of the nation's GDP last year.

And a spike in COVID cases has prompted a new state of emergency. All of this leading to a humanitarian crisis. According to the World Bank, nearly 60 percent of Haitians live below the poverty line. To make matters worse, Haiti is prone to natural disasters. The country never fully recovered from the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that killed over 200,000 people. And in 2016, Hurricane Matthew left hundreds dead and nearly 200,000 displaced.

As the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has a long history of dictatorships and coups. Now the assassination of its president leaves the country's future into out. Melissa Bell CNN, Paris.



CHURCH: Well, David Tafuri was foreign policy advisor for the campaign of former U.S. President Barack Obama and has also worked for the U.N. and the U.S. State Department. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So Haiti's envoy to the U.S. says police have killed four suspects and arrested two others and says they are foreigners. Union worked with the Haitian president. What do you make of what we've learned so far?

TAFURI: Well, we saw a clip from the ambassador, Bocchit Edmond. And he's talked a little bit about what happened. And we're learning more. I met with the President two years ago, a couple of times in 2019, including at the home where he was killed just a little over 24 hours ago. It's a tragic event. He -- the President was imperiled even then two years ago when I was last in Haiti, and things have spiraled downward.

Since then, there was a constitutional crisis, which you described that, you know, many people in Haiti wanted him to leave the presidency in February. He insisted he should stay. Another year, there was a security vacuum in Haiti, the security forces were not able to keep the streets safe. And anytime the President did use the security forces in order to put down protests there ended up being more violent, deaths.

And then he was accused of not having proper control over the security forces. So, there's been an absence of safety in the country that has contributed to the instability along with the political crisis. What everyone is wondering, I think now is, first of all, who is responsible for this? We're learning more, perhaps some of the people the suspects have been killed or captured by the Haitian government.

We want to know why they did this plan, this --tragic attack on the President. And then what is going to come next, who will be the next president? Who is going to be the leader of Haiti until their elections?

CHURCH: Yes. Certainly those who have been arrested should be able to answer some of those questions. And of course, so we can't speculate at this juncture. But what will the assassination of the President mean for the country going forward? And of course, the transition of power?

TAFURI: Well, it's worsen the constitutional crisis, even before the President was killed there was a constitutional crisis. It's also put into question, this succession. Normally, under the Haiti constitution, the head of the highest court in Haiti would take over his president, if something incapacitated the president. But in this case, the highest -- the head of the -- head -- the highest court, he passed away last month due to COVID.

We have a acting prime minister who has asserted that he is now in control. But they're even questioned there because before President Moise was shot and killed, he actually appointed a different person than to be the prime minister who was supposed to be sworn in. As a backdrop to all of this, we also have a Parliament that is not meeting and that is not functioning. And the Parliament therefore will not be able to ratify anyone to be the acting president.

So, these are all questions that need to be addressed. Haiti needs the help of the international community to move through this crisis towards stability.

CHURCH: Right. And certainly, that transition of power will certainly need to be figured out. And that question answered. So, what can you tell us about President Moise's work? What he stood for and what he may have been working on that would have motivated his enemies to move to assassinate him?

TAFURI: While the President was a businessman before he became the president. He was a successful businessman. He -- but almost from the very beginning of his presidency, he was accused of corruption. He was accused of not being the rightful president, although the U.S. government and many other governments found that he was democratically elected in a free and fair election, there were still those who criticize how he came to power.

The biggest issue he was facing, though, is he wanted to amend the constitution. And he wanted to have a referendum on the amended costs constitution in September of this year. He felt that was important to get past the gridlock that he faces with the Parliament being basically stopping the ratification of any government but there are many who thought he was consolidating power inside Haiti.

And those people were against the amending of the constitution. So that was probably one of the biggest and most controversial issues that he was working on before he was tragically killed.

CHURCH: David Tafuri, thank you so much for joining us. We do appreciate it.

TAFURI: Thank you.


CHURCH: Well, the search and rescue mission and at that South Florida condo collapse is now a recovery mission. Search crews paused for a moment of silence on Wednesday. 54 bodies have been recovered. 86 people are potentially unaccounted for. Officials say it was devastating to share the change in strategy with the loved ones of those still missing, but work out the site will proceed at the same speed and intensity.


CHIEF ALAN COMINSKY, MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE: This decision was not an easy one, as our heart still hopes to find survivors, but our experience and expertise indicated that was no longer possible. This decision was not based on any other reasons, except on facts that emerged during the extended this search and rescue operation.


CHURCH: Surfside, Florida may have been spared the worst of Elsa, but new tropical storm warnings are in effect for North Carolina and the Mid-Atlantic states as the system moves across the southeastern U.S. High winds caused a tree to fall on two cars in Jacksonville, Florida killing one person. Heavy rain broad flooding across the state and thousands of customers lost power.

Meanwhile, a suspected tornado has injured several people at the Naval Submarine base in Kings Bay, Georgia. But no damage to any sensitive military equipment or submarines.

Well, former South African President Jacob Zuma is now in custody. Police say he handed himself over late Wednesday just before a midnight deadline when authorities would have arrested him. Zuma was sentenced last week to 15 months in prison for contempt of court. CNN's David McKenzie is standing by in Johannesburg. He joins us now live. Good to see you, David. So, despite its significance, it could be a very short stay in prison, right, David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could be but I think it's a hugely significant moment that the former president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, who you must remember spent 10 years in prison with Nelson Mandela before the dawn of democracy is spending the night in prison last night and again two nights. There could be a -- there could be at least two scenarios that he gets released for prison even temporarily.

But these were the scenes late in the night. Just 45 minutes or so before a deadline for police to arrest him after he blew past the deadline to hand himself over for contempt. 15 months in prison he is scheduled to hold because he didn't go to a hearing at a anti-graft commission which he is central to. There have been many years of Jacob Zuma avoiding culpability for his alleged corruption over many different scandals and he's denied that -- those allegations.

But really last night, late into the night and the days of tension and speculation from the South African public that the President might go to prison. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. David McKenzie bring us the very latest on that many thanks.

Well, three lions, two goals and England are just one win away from the Euro 2020 championship.


CHURCH: Piccadilly Circus lived up to its name as fans celebrated the team's two-one victory over Denmark. More than 60,000 spectators were on hand at Wembley Stadium. As Harry Kane scored the winning goal on a penalty kick rebound in extra time. There's still one major obstacle to an England championship and that is Italy. The teams go head to head in London on Sunday.


CHURCH: Well, months after the military coup in Myanmar, resistance groups deep in the country's forests are preparing for battle against the junta. Ahead an exclusive report from one training camp.



CHURCH: Well, United Nations Human Rights official is calling for tougher economic sanctions on Myanmar to try to force the junta from power. The U.N. Special Rapporteur is calling on countries to target Myanmar's oil and gas sector to hold revenue to the military. Meantime, resistance groups making their own plans to oust the junta. They are training for a civil war. Sam Kiley traveled deep into the jungle to get a firsthand exclusive look at a training camp and he joins us now live.

Good to see you, Sam. So of course it is a dangerous and potentially deadly path but an indication of just how desperate some people are in Myanmar. What did you find at this camp?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, I think the first thing to take away from this is that already the United Nations and other international groups and indeed Burmese opposition leaders are already talking about the scale of the bloodletting particularly of civilian demonstrators in the urban areas. The young students and academics, intellectuals, ordinary people to who took to the streets to protest against the capture of democracy effectively by the junta back in February.

Now large numbers of those originally, a peaceful protesters are feeling they have no choice but to take up arms. And that means that they are looking at a much more bloody future. And this is what it looks like when they start their training.


KILEY (voice-over): A grueling journey through jungle, eventually revealing this, a rebel base in Myanmar. Camp Victoria, a major headquarters in a nationwide uprising against the country's military junta. Some 200 volunteers from around the country have come seeking the military skills that they want to fight a regime that sees power in February. And as brutally dashed hopes of democracy here.


KILEY: They are villagers, young workers, and many are former students who protested the coup and now believe that they must take up arms against it.

NAING HTOO LWIN, VOLUNTEER, CHINA NATIONAL FRONT: Sad, it's very sad. They killed many people of our country. This camp can give me the power to fight the military junta.

KILEY: The instructors and members of the Chin National Front, a long- standing separatist army that is now in alliance with many others under Myanmar's national unity government in exile.

(on camera): These raw recruits on day three of their training, they're only going to get 45 days training that includes drill, assault courses, and above all weapons training before they're going to be thrown back into the fight.

DR. SUI KHAR, VICE CHAIRMAN, CHIN NATIONAL FRONT: They equipped with local guns.

KILEY: Rebel leaders, no more blood will flow.

KHAR: There are more than 15,000 already and still coming and still organizing. I mean, mobilizing the armed fighters. And that's what that's the energies trying to equip arms for them. KILEY: So, it really is a civil war, isn't it?

KHAR: Leading to the civil war. Now it's in the kind of urban guerrilla type, but within months it will transforming to like a conventional civil war.

KILEY: Recent fighting with the junta forces has meant that reinforcements have been rushed to defensive lines. But the rush training has dangerous consequences.

This young man his comrades have told me was blown up by an improvised explosive device that he was trying to plant as part of the defensive perimeter around this camp and around some of the villages that are threatened by the government army.

Already refugees on the move, leaving these idyllic villages for hillside camps.

Tial Song told me that the women, children and elders fled their village when they heard the sounds of fighting. Many men stayed behind. But everyone fears the military for its brutality. The Chin National Front says it's trained 3000 people at Camp Victoria, those who've graduated, have been immediately deployed. Most of their weapons of bird hunting homemade shotguns stored with an open fire to keep the damp off.

They believe that this is a just fight but they're short of weapons and rushed through training. And it'll take more than righteousness and shotguns to topple a military regime.

And as the conflict continues, the numbers of dead will rise to a level when eventually people may start to lose count.


KILEY: Now, Rosemary, there may be a fairly grim conclusion there but that is the conclusion really the leaders particularly of these ethnic armed organizations in Myanmar acknowledge. There are many of these. There are 17 at least. Some of whom are in this alliance against the government. All of whom are against the government whether or not they're in alliance with one another.

Some of whom raised their money through nefarious means, drug smuggling and other criminal activities. And there is a really strong concern really that Myanmar is on the brink of national failure effectively, Rosemary.

CHURCH: That is very grim situation indeed. Sam Kiley bringing us the latest on the situation in Myanmar. Appreciate it.

Well, still ahead on CNN, the Afghan government tries to push back Taliban forces with provincial capitals hanging in the balance. We will have the latest on the conflict.

And later the global COVID death toll crosses yet another somber milestone, as countries rushed to vaccinate against a highly contagious variant.



CHURCH: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN NEWSROOM. Well, fighting in Afghanistan continues to intensify as the Taliban push for territorial gains in the north. On Wednesday, Taliban forces invaded the capital of the northwestern province of Badghis. But the governor posted a video online claiming the city was safe despite gunfire in the background and reports of a prison break.

Farther east, Afghan Special Forces attempted to secure the provincial capital of Kunduz as Taliban fighters reached the gates of the city. Most districts in Kunduz are already under Taliban control.

For more on this, we are joined by CNN military analysts, retired U.S. Major General James "Spider" Marks. Thank you, sir, for talking with us.


CHURCH: So we know that Taliban fighters are claiming more territory each day and the Afghan military is struggling to fend them off. With most U.S. troops now out of Afghanistan, what threat do you think the Taliban pose to the country and its people right now?

MARKS: Well, it's clear that the Taliban will resume control of the central government at some point, it seems pretty obvious. Let's bear in mind if you go back in history, the Taliban ruled from 1996 until the U.S. and international invasion of 2001 following what took place on 9/11. And at that time, when the Taliban was in control, they controlled no more than about 30 percent of the countryside.

So, about 10 to 12 of the 34 provinces that exist in Afghanistan. We see that today, they're at about the same size in terms of the control. So, it's clear the Taliban have begun to reclaim and reassert themselves with a pretty fast clip based on the departure of the U.S. forces and the international forces from Afghanistan. But bear in mind, you know, when you look back at our very long history over the course of the last two decades in Afghanistan, we tried to try to find some accommodations with the Taliban to go against and to resist al Qaeda.


Because of this great ungoverned space in Afghanistan, I mean, Al Qaeda as well as ISIS can exist in Afghanistan as well as the Taliban.

So I think the Taliban will most certainly take charge in Afghanistan. That is not good news, but, clearly, we have to look at the very large picture as a result of two decades in Afghanistan. We tried to overreach, we tried to establish a new nation in Afghanistan, the Afghan people and the government just simply weren't ready for that. ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN NEWSROOM: U.S. troops left Bagram Airbase about a week ago cutting off the power as they went and taking all the equipment in the command center there. It's no longer operational. So what will the Afghan military do with that and what happens if the Taliban seize that location?

MARKS: Well, the Taliban most certainly will. I mean we, we have to be frank with ourselves, zero means zero. The U.S. presidents may dwindle down to nothing. Still, the status of the U.S.embassy is not certain right now, what that will look like when we ultimately wave goodbye.

I would hope that we would be able to maintain a presence in Kabul, but, again, not certain that would look like in the Taliban will take over. I mean, they will take control of what they can and in many cases confronting the Afghan military. The Afghan military has just melted away.

CHURCH: And President Biden will talk about the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in just a few hours from now. What does he need to say and what would you expecting him to say?

MARK: I think the president has an obligation to say that the United States has run its course in Afghanistan over the course of two decades. We've made a tremendous sacrifice in an effort to try to build Afghanistan and put some form of governments in place that would allow them to stand on their own. They are now going to be tested, clearly, by the Taliban. And I am not optimistic that we are not going to see a government in Kabul that is not run by the Taliban. I think that this clearly is a path that we are on going forward.

And the president has an obligation to square with the American people. This needs to be an internal discussion to the American people saying, look, we gave it our best shot, we are there for the Afghan government but the Afghan government has got to be able to stand up. And if it ends up being the Taliban, okay, what is that going to look like? We're going to be there to ensure that the remainder of Afghanistan doesn't turn back into the ungoverned space that it was before 9/11. That is the big challenge.

CHURCH: General James Marks, thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

MARKS: Thanks, Rosemary.

CHURCH: More than 4 million people worldwide have now died from COVID-19, this latest milestone, a reminder of the devastating human toll of this pandemic. According to Johns Hopkins University, there were nearly 8,000 deaths per day globally over the past week, a pace that is 57 percent higher than this time last year.

And as the dangerous delta variant now spreads, the head of the World Health Organization has this warning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS, DIRECTOR GENERAL, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: The world is at a perilous point in this pandemic. Some countries with high vaccination coverage are now planning to rollout booster shots in the coming months and now dropping public and social measures and relaxing as though the pandemic is already over.

However, compounded by fast moving variants and shocking inequities in vaccination, far too many countries in every region of the world are seeing sharp spikes in cases and hospitalizations.


CHURCH: Indonesia is expanding its coronavirus restrictions after seeing record numbers of cases and deaths over the past week.

On Wednesday, the country's COVID-19 task force reported upwards of 34,000 new infections and more than 1,000 deaths, a daily record there. The government says it's mobilizing all resources to deal with the latest surge, many hospitals are so overwhelmed patients are being asked to provide their own oxygen tanks.

India's prime minister has dismissed a number of ministers in a massive cabinet reshuffle following widespread criticism of the government's handling of the pandemic. Several members of India's ruling party were sworn in at the presidential palace on Wednesday, replacing those who were let go. It's Narenda Modi's first cabinet reshuffle since he was re-elected in 2019.

India suffered through a brutal Second wave of COVID in April and May. And many blame the government's mismanagement and lack of preparedness.


A strong explosion rattles the port of Dubai followed by a fire on board a cargo ship anchored there. Our reporter is standing by near the scene and she will join us live.


CHURCH: A fire that started after an explosion at the port of Dubai is now under control. The massive blast reportedly jolted buildings as far as 15 kilometers or 9 miles away. And social media video showed a large fireball lighting up the sky above the port.

For more, Eleni Giokos is standing by in Dubai near the world's ninth largest port and she joins us now live. So, Leni, what more are you learning about this explosion and fire?

ELENI GIOKOS CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, let's take a step back here. 11:45 P.M. on Wednesday night, I felt and I heard a very intense explosion. In fact, I was in Dubai Marina, which is around 15 kilometers away from the Jebel Ali Port that is behind me here. And I felt my windows tremor and I wasn't really sure where it came from. A few minutes later, we heard that they came from the port. Now, authorities immediately said that a fire broke out on a container ship that was carrying cleaning materials. And as we saw from the social media post, this was absolutely intense when you're talking about that fireball that is visible in the sky and so many eyewitnesses describing the sheer intensity that was felt very far away. People that live closer to this area described the actual explosion as if it was going to come through the windows.

Now, authorities took around 40minutes to contain and put out the fire. No injuries and fatalities were reported.


What we're hearing this morning from one of our sources is that it happened at terminal one. You've got to understand, terminal one and terminal two are by far the busiest of the four terminals at Jebel Ali Port. And, importantly here, it carries incredible capacity.

Our source also tells us that the container was marked with a warning of flammable materials. Remember here that the government says that it contained cleaning materials.

What we know in terms of the origin of the shock, we don't know where it came from, but we do know that it is owned by a business coming from the Comoros Islands.

We still have a lot of questions here, Rosemary, because of the intensity. But we know that terminal one is operational and no operations were shut down because of this blast.

CHURCH: All right. Thank you so much for keeping us up to date on that. I'm sure that blast scared a lot of people. Eleni Giokos bringing us update very latest on that.

Well, do what makes you happy. That is the motto of the Arab world's first women astronaut. Nora Al Matrooshi officially met the public for the first time Wednesday since making History in April when she joined the UAE space team. She was chosen from more than 4000 Emeratis, including 1,400 women. Well done to her too.

Well, thank you so much for joining us here on CNN newsroom. If you're an international viewer, World Sport is next. If you're watching from here in the United States, I'll be right back with more news. Stick around.



CHURCH: Just two months after Bill Gates and his wife announced their divorce, the charitable foundation that bears the billionaire's name is now laying out a contingency plan if the two can't continue to work together. They are giving themselves a two-year trial period. But if they can't continue, as co-chairs of the gates foundation, Bill Gates would remain in control, while Melinda French Gates would resign her position as co-chair and trustee. She would receive personal resources from Gates for her own philanthropic work. . Well, the White House says there's been no-official blame attached to a massive, new ransomware attack or the hacking of a vendor for the Republican National Committee, but the White House emphasized it's ready to take action, if necessary. And as Alex Marquardt reports, the evidence is pointing to the usual suspects.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S CORRESPONDENT: An I.T. provider used by the Republican National Committee was attacked and they said that the hackers involved tried to gain access to some of their customers who store things in the cloud.

Now, the RNC is one of their customers but it's unclear whether they were, in fact, the target. The New York Times is reporting that the attack on this vendor, its name is SYNNEX, and, potentially, of the RNC, was done by hackers from Russia's foreign-intelligence service, the SVR. This is the same group of hackers who, in the past, have attacked the Democratic National Committee back in 2015 and carried out the massive SolarWinds breach last year.

Now, the RNC is insisting that there was no-successful breach of their network. They say that after they were told that SYNNEX had been attacked, they cut off all access and the attackers were not able to get inside or steal any of their data. We heard from their chief of staff who said, in part, our team worked with Microsoft to conduct a review of our systems and after a thorough investigation, no RNC data was accessed. We will continue to work with Microsoft, as well as federal law enforcement officials on the matter.

Now, we know from the White House that the RNC is working with the FBI and the cyberagency known as CISA. And all of this comes at the same time as another massive ransomware attack, one of the biggest we have ever seen, over this past holiday weekend, which has affected businesses around the world.

The Russian criminal-hacking group, called REvil, has claimed responsibility. They have demanded initially at least, $70 million in payment.

So we have these two side-by-side incidents being blamed on Russian hackers both from the state and criminal and it is often hard to tell where one stops and where the other begins. All of this, raising pressure on President Joe Biden to respond to get Russia to stop this malicious activity just weeks after this issue was front and center with his summit with President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

CHURHC: Former U.S. President Donald Trump has taken his fight with big tech to the courts as he files class-action lawsuits targeting Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


DONALD TRUMP FORMER-U.S. PRESIDENT: I am filing, as the lead-class representative. A major class-action lawsuit against the big-tech giants, including Facebook, Google and Twitter, as well as their CEO's, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey, three real nice guys.

Our case will prove this censorship is unlawful, it's unconstitutional and it's completely Un-American.


CHURCH: This announcement comes after the company's removed Trump's access to their platforms in the wake of the January 6th Capitol riot. Tech companies are legally permitted to run their platforms, as they see fit. And in the past, courts have dismissed similar lawsuits. One law professor explains why this one is likely to fail, as well.


LAURENCE TRIBE PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: He is lying about the Constitution. He's lying about freedom of speech. He's made up his own version of the Constitution. It's an Alice in wonderland lawsuit. Its purpose is obviously to get attention to distract attention from investigations into the insurrection and his own responsibility.

I got email myself today, of all things, from what -- he calls himself President Donald Trump asking me for money for the lawsuit and asking me, and I'm sure others got this thing as well, to join his class action.


But it's a fake class action. It's a class of one. The only person in the class is the former president who incited an insurrection. It's -- it would be a joke if it were not so tragic. But, clearly, there is no merit in this lawsuit. It won't get anywhere but, predictably, like many of his other scams, that will raise a lot of money and distract attention from real problems.

The First Amendment is not a provision of law that restricts what private companies can do to people who don't comply with their terms of service. If you don't think Facebook was right to get rid of the president, you know, you can complain about Facebook, that doesn't give the president or anybody has a right to sue Facebook. There is a legal provision that, in fact, immunizes Facebook and other social media platforms for kicking people off in a way that they don't agree with.


CHURCH: Donald Trump's former personal attorney is running out of places to practice law. On Wednesday, Rudy Giuliani had his law license suspended in Washington, D.C. That follows a similar move in New York, where a court said it put his license on hold because he lied to promote Trump's conspiracies about a stolen election.

Under the ruling in Washington, Giuliani is forbidden from practicing law there until the New York case is resolved.

The decision is another blow for the former U.S. attorney and mayor of New York.

ESPN is scrambling to contain a controversy involving one of its reporters that's overshadowing its coverage of the National Basketball Association's championship. The sports network sidelined Rachel Nichols from covering the NBA Finals after audio was leaked of her suggesting a black colleague had landed a job because of her race.

CNN's Brian Stelter has the details.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: The biggest story of the NBA finals is off the court and on T.V. as a candid and cringy recording royals ESPN. The New York times revealing the tape of host Rachel Nichols, who is white, griping to a friend that the network gave a coveted job to black reporter, Maria Taylor, instead of her.

RACHEL NICHOLS, ESPN REPORTER: I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world. She covers football. She covers basketball. If you need to give her more things to do because you're feeling pressured about your crappy longtime record on diversity, which, by the way, I myself like know personally from the female side of it, go for it. Just, you know, find it somewhere else. But you're not going find it with me and take my thing away.

STELTER: Nichols thought she was speaking privately, but her words were beamed back to ESPN for a camera set up for her live shots. The recording, which she called a spy video, made the rounds inside ESPN last summer, stirring racial tensions amid a nationwide reckoning about racism.

ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: This is just a really unfortunate situation.

STELTER: now it's public and even the NBA commissioner is weighing in.

SILVER: I think it's particularly unfortunate that two women in the industry are pitted against each other.

STELTER: ESPN management is coming under scrutiny.

CLAY TRAVIS, ESPN CRITIC: It's a huge mess for ESPN.

STELTER: Fierce ESPN critic Clay Travis, the founder of a conservative sports media company, OutKick, calling Nichols a hypocrite.

TRAVIS: Many of these super woke white people love the idea of diversity and inclusion as long as their own jobs aren't impacted by that diversity and inclusion push.

STELTER: Others are pointing out that this tape leaked right as Taylor's contract is about to expire, possibly giving her more leverage. She is not commenting, but The Times quoted her email to her executives last summer citing complaints but racial insensitivity. She said simply being a front facing black woman at this company has taken its toll physically and mentally.

Nichols is apologizing.

NICHOLS: -- for disappointing those I hurt, particularly Maria Taylor.

STELTER: And saying she is grateful to be on the team. ESPN pulled her from sideline duties and appointed Malika Andrews, who is black, and it was Taylor who introduced Andrews on Tuesday night.

MARIA TAYLOR, ESPN REPORTER: Now, it's my pleasure to welcome in Malika Andrews who will be on the sidelines for the first time in an NBA Finals game in her career.

STELTER: Now, as onlookers speculate about Nichols and Taylor's futures at ESPN, the NBA commissioner is speaking out against cancel culture.

SILVER: People recognize that people make mistakes, that careers shouldn't be erased, you know, by a single comment.

STELTER: Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: well, fear of heights is pretty common, but not for some athletes in Sweden with nerves of steel.


A bit noisy all the same. This is one of four men who crossed 2.1 kilometers on a tightrope at a height of 600 meters. Quirin Herterich was the first to get across on Saturday.


QUIRIN HERTERICHONE OF FOUR MEN WHO CROSSED 2.1 KILOMETERS ON A TIGHTROPE: So when I got closer to the anchor of this line, I screamed loudly. I don't really know why. It's maybe a mix of emotions.


CHURCH: The four German high-wire walkers are a team in the extreme sport called high-lining, and they set a new world record. It took them two days just to rig the line. The valley they traversed in Swedish Lapporten is also a popular hiking spot.

Thousands of health care and essential workers honored in the streets of New York on Wednesday. The city held a ticker tape parade to celebrate the hometown heroes who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. While New York City was one of the first COVID epicenters in the U.S., it now reports its lowest rate of infections since tracking began.

Well, for Tokyo residents not excited about the Olympics, at least there is a giant cat to watch. A billboard on a busy street features a giant 3D cat that appears to be perched on a ledge. The idea was conceived by local businesses who wanted to cheer people up during this pandemic. The realistic-looking cat seems to have a calming effect on passersby.

I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more CNN Newsroom in just a moment. Don't go anywhere.