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Ukraine Claims It Sank Key Russian Warship, Kremlin Denies It; Video Shows Officer Shooting Black Man In The Head; Pfizer: COVID Booster Raises Immune Response For Kids 5-11. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 14, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: We are tracking some breaking news out of Ukraine. Russia is suffering a major blow to its war effort after a key warship in the Black Sea was badly damaged, and at least some crew forced to abandon ship.

The U.S. is saying today, it still doesn't know what caused the incident but the assessment that was just in from the Pentagon is that there -- is that they are still battling a fire on board that ship. We're going to show you here satellite images taken before all of this happened. Ukraine says that it hit the ship with missiles. Russia claims that it wasn't a missile at all, but a fire on board.

Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. She sits on the Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees.

Thank you for coming in, Congresswoman. So there are still questions about what is behind the extensive damage that has been -- that this ship has suffered. But they did confirm -- the Pentagon confirming this morning, there was some kind of explosion on board, and it has caused extensive damage. And this fire now they're still battling.

If it is temporarily out of commission, how significant do you think this is to the fight?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Well, I think, you know, anytime you lose a flagship like that, something that's so prominent and so clear for the Russian military as a central piece of their naval, you know, sort of team, you're -- it's going to be a big deal.

I -- you know, I don't know exactly -- I have no special knowledge of what actually happened on board today. But the propaganda value is obviously huge, which is why you see the Ukrainians talking about it all the time, and the Russians trying to deny that anything suspicious happened.

So it's a big deal, and I think that it, again, shows the vulnerability the Russians have on the symbolic attacks, right?

It's this -- the Ukrainians are never going to have the military might of the Russians. But they have this advantage in that when you pull off a spectacular attack against a more superior foe, it really has major value, psychological value. So this is going to be, I think, the continuing story as things unfold in Ukraine.

BOLDUAN: Yes. So they're also now preliminary discussions were told, taking place of a high-ranking U.S. official making a trip to Ukraine to meet with President Zelenskyy. We know other world leaders have already shown up -- Boris Johnson, and just yesterday, Poland's president and the president of all the Baltic states were there.

Who do you think should go for the United States? I mean, we were just talking about symbolism here. And why not President Biden? Because that seems to be off the table coming from the administration.

SLOTKIN: Yes, well, look, I think a senior person should go. I don't know if that's the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense. It should be a senior cabinet-level official that shows up there.

But I think, look, the difference between the President of the United States and the President of a Baltic state is the -- again, the symbolism of what it would mean to have two nuclear powers -- right, the Russians and the Americans -- kind of squaring off in such a direct way.

And I think it does mean something different to have the American President go. So -- but at a minimum, we should see a cabinet-level official, I think, make a presence there, especially after we just are announcing another $800 million in military and humanitarian aid. So I think -- I think that at a minimum is appropriate.

BOLDUAN: Do you think there would come a point where you would need that show of -- that show of force, if you will, to see Joe Biden in Ukraine with Zelenskyy while this war is going on?

SLOTKIN: I don't know. I mean, I think if you probably talk to President Zelenskyy or any of the Ukrainians around him and said, what do you need most, you know, a visit or do you need weapons? They would say weapons.

I think the importance of keeping the fight going and really taking it to the Russians, kind of punching them in the mouth, there's nothing that's more important than that in a very real and concrete way. A visit is ephemeral. A visit comes and goes, it's symbols. But weapons makes a -- make a big difference.

BOLDUAN: I'm going to ask you. "The Washington Post" is reporting that Russia is now warning Finland and Sweden that if they join NATO, Moscow is going to reinforce the Baltic Sea region, including even deploying nuclear weapons.

What do you think this should and is going -- what do you think should and is going to happen here? I mean, what does it mean for the United States when we're talking about Finland and Sweden joining NATO and what the fallout could be?

SLOTKIN: Yes. You know, it's very interesting. These countries have, you know, been in -- been invited, and certainly could have joined NATO for many, many years and chose not to.

I think, for the -- for the very reasons that, you know, we're seeing now unfold on TV, right -- because they were worried about being threatened by their neighbor. They are literally neighbors to Russia.


But I think this -- the situation in Ukraine is just such a strategic moment in history that they're thinking to themselves, look, if I'm not a part of NATO, I'm at risk as well.

And I think they're very capable militaries. I think NATO should speed up the process of bringing in new members. I think that NATO has been kind of an old-school organization for a while, and it's got a new life because of what the Russians are doing. So change that, accept that and, like, change the organization to bring in these folks sooner rather than later.

And the saber-rattling, it's -- you know, this is Putin, right? He's threatening the use of nuclear weapons. And we can't ignore that. But we also realize, you know, this is a man who, I think, feels very cornered.

BOLDUAN: Yes, really quickly, I just saw that in response to U.S. sanctions, Russia has just announced yesterday retaliatory counter sanctions on almost 400 members of Congress. You are included on that list. What do those sanctions mean for you?

SLOTKIN: As far as I understand, they're retaliatory sanctions that basically say I can't travel to Russia. I think it would be difficult to use a Russian financial institution if I ever used one of those.

They're basically in-kind sanctions since we voted on sanctions for the Duma, members of the Russian parliament. So, you know, it's, again, a symbolic thing. This happens in the tit for tat.

But I find it sad, frankly, because, you know six or seven years ago, I was negotiating with Russian generals about flight safety above Syria. I mean, I have a history of engaging with the Russians.

We want to keep talking. My country did not invade Ukraine, they did. So -- but I just took it as sort of another symbol they're trying to throw in the mix.

BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, thanks for coming in.

SLOTKIN: Of course.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. A white police officer shoots and kills an unarmed black man during a traffic stop. The deadly confrontation was caught on video. The investigation that is now underway. That's next.


[11:40:00] BOLDUAN: Developing this morning. A 26-year-old unarmed black man is dead after an encounter with a Michigan police officer. Part of the traffic stop was caught on police body cam. The whole incident was also documented in other videos. And it ended with Patrick Lyoya, shot in the head after a struggle during the stop last week in Grand Rapids. His family, once the officer, fired and charged. CNN's Omar Jimenez has more.


OMAR JIMENEZ CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): A struggle, a gunshot, a black man dead on the streets of Grand Rapids Michigan. A police officer, now under investigation for shooting 26-year-olds Patrick Lyoya in the head, a frustrated community demanding answers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay in the car.

JIMENEZ: On April 4, police say Lyoya was pulled over for improper registration on the car he was driving, though did not elaborate on why they were looking in the first place. Just a few minutes into the stop, Lyoya starts to run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no. Stop. Stop. Put your hands in the air.

JIMENEZ: The officer catches Lyoya, the two begin to wrestle then the officer uses a taser but it fails to make an impact. The officer's body camera turns off during the struggle. Police say it was unintentional. But the passenger in Lyoya's car was recording this cell phone video and captured what happens next.

MARK WASHINGTON, GRAND RAPIDS CITY MANAGER: We are determined to get this right.

JIMENEZ: Authority is now facing tough questions like whether the officer's life was in enough jeopardy to draw his gun.

CHIEF ERIC WINSTROM, GRAND RAPIDS POLICE: So a taser is not per se a deadly weapon. The Taser is what would be known as an intermediate weapon. An intermediate weapon would have the potential to cause death, would have the potential to cause great bodily harm, but not necessarily.

JIMENEZ: Lyoya was a Congolese refugee. The chief is saying a potential language barrier is part of the investigation. The family's lawyer, Ben Crump, contends Lyoya was confused by the encounter and terrified for his life. The NAACP adding an unregistered license plate should not be a death sentence. The still-unidentified officer has been stripped of his police powers but remains on paid leave pending the official state investigation.

BRANDON DAVIS, DIRECTOR, OVERSIGHT AND PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY: We will see transparency, we will seek truth.


BOLDUAN: Omar Jimenez, thank you so much. So, we've also just learned as Lyoya family and attorney Ben Crump, they will be holding a press conference today at 1:30 Eastern. Joining me right now is Areva Martin. She's a CNN legal analyst and civil rights attorney, and also with us, Terrance Gainer. He's a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and the former chief of U.S. Capitol Police. Areva, what do you see in this video?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I see the unnecessary shooting of a black man by a white cop. And I question do we not learn anything from Daunte Wright, from Philando Castile, from Walter Scott. All three incidents that involve really low-level traffic stops that resulted in the death of those African American men. It just appears that we can't get it right that traffic stops -- routine traffic stops should not result in violent encounters and did African American men.


BOLDUAN: Terrance, what do you see? What questions do you have for this investigation?

TERRANCE GAINER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I have a lot of questions, but I see the same thing. The death of anyone is troublesome. This particular tape is disturbing to me. And I agree, a simple traffic stop, should not end up in the death of anyone. So I applaud the chief that he's going to do a deep dive into this, the Michigan State Police is working on it. But there's a lot of questions. Were there other things the officer should have done? It's a tragic death for a traffic stop.

BOLDUAN: Areva, as Omar points out in the piece, that Lyoya was a Congolese refugee, and the police chief has said that a potential language barrier is part of the investigation. If that is a factor, what does that mean?

MARTIN: I think what it means, Kate, is we better figure out different ways to deal with individuals in these traffic stops. If this police had any indication that this man couldn't even understand what he was saying, then why chase after him? In some states, you're not obligated as an individual to remain and talk to a police officer simply because they engage you unless you are under arrest. And there's no evidence here that a crime had been committed or that he was being officially detained i.e. arrested by this police officer.

So, just because he took off running, doesn't mean that he was guilty or suspicious in any way. What we do know is black men are traumatized. There's a history of racial profiling. So I'm not even sure why he got to the point where this officer was chasing him in the first place. He could have run the license, he could have gone to his home, and he could have delivered a ticket via the mail. There were so many other things that could have happened, rather than escalating the situation. And what we want to see in these situations is de- escalation and that didn't happen here.

BOLDUAN: One of the many questions, as you're talking about, Terrance, in this investigation is -- has to be around the fact that Lyoya was shot in the head, why would they -- why would an officer need to do that? GAINER: Well, again, we need to know a lot more about what was going on during that wrestling match.


GAINER: But as a rule, the tactics would not be that when you're wrestling with someone already fighting over what apparently is the Taser is to pull a gun. That's not good tactics. So again, I can't justify based on what I've seen that this was a good shooting. There are a lot of questions. I think the large question all police departments have to address and communities is this whole issue about how we handle traffic stops and whether it's ever worth -- ever worth chasing and not doing -- and taking other alternatives.

Time is on our side in this type of thing. There doesn't appear to be any reason other than the officer grabbed him, trying to get the information that this ended up like that. And that's wrong. It's not good tactics. It's despicable.

BOLDUAN: The State Police have now come in to take over -- take the -- take on this investigation, as I just said off the top, they -- the family and Ben Crump, they're going to be holding a press conference at 1:30. We'll continue to follow and see what happens here. Thank you both very much.

Coming up for us. Pfizer is seeking FDA authorization now to give COVID booster shots to kids between the ages of five to 11. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me next.



BOLDUAN: Now to some encouraging news on the pandemic. Pfizer just announced and released new data showing its COVID Booster is quite effective in kids ages five to 11, raising the immune response like we've seen in older kids and adults. The drugmaker now plans to seek FDA authorization. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now for more on this. Sanjay, what's in this data? What do you see there?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so first of all, the data is coming from the pharmaceutical company so this has to be reviewed by the FDA. But what they did here, Kate, for this age group, they gave a booster shot six months after the original two shots. And what they were looking for was, how safe is it? How well do these kids tolerate it? And what does it do in terms of increasing their antibodies?

And you can see that on the screen, they found that basically, they got a 36-fold increase in neutralizing antibodies. Those are the antibodies that really protect the virus from entering the cell, seemed to be well-tolerated, no new safety signals here. And as you point out, they're now going to request FDA approval for Emergency Use Authorization. We'll see. Again, this has to be reviewed independently, Kate, but as you point out, if it holds up, it's encouraging, at least in terms of creating that impact of antibodies without any new safety problems.

BOLDUAN: Yes. How important do you think this could be for this age group at this point where we are in the pandemic, right?

GUPTA: I think -- I think that's a key question. So, you know, if you look at overall Omicron, I think it was pretty clear that Omicron was affecting younger children more so. It could be because it was affecting their upper airway more, it was unclear. But if you look at how effective the vaccine was, at least in this age group, and go to mid-December, you see that it was actually quite effective, it was around 68 percent effective in terms of preventing infection.

Now, as you point out, kids were less likely overall to get sick or severely sick even before that, but 68 percent effective against preventing infection. That drops significantly by late January to 12 percent to prevent an infection. But overall, the vaccines as they stand are still very -- seemed very effective in terms of preventing people from getting really sick in this age group requiring hospitalization or dying.


GUPTA: So it's incremental benefit in terms of overall sickness, but significant benefit in terms of potentially preventing infection. So again, we have to see if this data holds up, but that would be the biggest thing probably for kids who are particularly at risk.

BOLDUAN: Take good news where we can get it when it comes to this. Thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: You got it, Kate. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you. A reminder to all of you before we go, you can also join me every morning on the new CNN Plus show, 5 Things at 7:00 a.m. Eastern and always available on demand. You can sign up at Thank you for being here, I'm Kate Bolduan. INSIDE Politics with John King starts after this break.