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At This Hour
Zelenskyy Takes Plea For Fighter Jets Directly To European Leaders; Southwest Airlines Exec Faces Questions Over Holiday Meltdown; Alex Murdaugh's Best Friend Testifies In Murder Trial. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired February 09, 2023 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): -- Intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17 presumed capable of reaching mainland United States. No speech from leader Kim Jong-un this time, but this many ICBMs are a message in themselves.
LT. GEN. CHUN IN-BUM (RET), SOUTH KOREAN ARMY: They've now gone into a good production line of this very capable, threatening missile system.
HANCOCKS: And what some experts say may be a mock-up of a new solid fuel ICBM, which would make it quicker to launch and easier to move.
IN-BUM: If this is the case, it gives them more mobility, flexibility, lethality, and so forth.
HANCOCKS: Kim Jong-un told the world he wanted a bigger and better nuclear arsenal. And judging from these images provided by state-run media, that seems to be exactly what he's doing. Another first, the military parade was a family affair. Kim's wife and daughter were watching the missiles roll by. Believed to be called Ju-ae, maybe nine or 10 years old, this is the fifth public event for Kim's daughter since November, the only one of his children to be shown in public, fueling speculation he may be grooming her for succession.
CHEONG SEONG-CHANG, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR EAST ASIAN COOPERATION, SEJONG INSTITUTE: (Speaking in a foreign language)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In order to seize power in North Korea, gaining control of the military and their loyalty is the most important thing. So, I think that's why Kim Ju-ae is mainly accompanying Kim to military-related occasions.
HANCOCKS: Kim Jong-un's message has been we will strengthen the military and we will be ready for war.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Paula, thank you for that. Let's turn now to the war in Ukraine. President Zelenskyy is renewing his plea for fighter jets and longer-range weapons, this time, speaking to the Europe -- to European Union leaders during a visit to Brussels today. Nic Robertson is live in Brussels as he's been watching this closely for us. Nick, what are you hearing about Zelenskyy's requests that he's making there?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There's some concern that if the European Union commits fighter jets through NATO, of course, then -- if Ukraine doesn't have proper air defense capability in place, then Russia can pick those jets off. That's something I've heard talking to diplomats around the scenes over the past few days. But precisely what Zelenskyy is getting in terms of commitments, is keeping that close to his chest. He said, look, I've had some private meetings here. I'm not going to disclose you know what's been discussed, in part not to tell President Putin what's happening.
This is what we've seen in the past, though. There is a process. There are discussions behind the scenes to get the -- all the nations here, the 27 different European Union nations, get them all lined up, get them on -- get them all agreeing. That seems to be underway.
He's happy that he got a commitment to train fighter pilots from the United Kingdom. He seems happy that he's got that additional longer- range rocket commitment from the UK. He's hoping to get it from others. He was putting pressure on the German Chancellor last night in Paris along with the French president, Emmanuel Macron. He said they could be game-changers. But in terms of specifically a commitment on the fighter jets, not yet. But he seems to be going away moderately happy that he's moving in that direction.
BOLDUAN: Nic, thanks for that. So, Poland is one of the countries leading the effort to help Ukraine on so many levels. This morning, President Biden was asked if he will be traveling there to Poland ahead of the one-year mark of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Here's what President Biden said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I haven't made a decision when I'm going to Poland or even hit for a certain I'm going to Poland.
BIDEN: No, I said I haven't made a decision on that. There's a possibility I may go to Poland, but that's all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: All right, so standby to standby on that. Joining me now, though for more on this is the Polish ambassador to the United States, Marek Magierowski. Thank you so much, Ambassador, for the time. MAREK MAGIEROWSKI, POLISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Thank you for having me.
BOLDUAN: President Zelenskyy, let's start there, he -- and then this direct ask that he has for EU leaders now, the ask for fighter jets. Reiterating his need that he says for fighter jets. Poland's Prime Minister says that Poland is open to sending fighter jets if NATO partners and allies all buy-in on that together. Do you think that it is going to happen eventually?
MAGIEROWSKI: This is an offer which has been on the table for a few days and is actually a very interesting topic to discuss among EU and NATO political leaders. I'm not a military man, I'm not an expert, so it's very hard for me to assess whether this would be a game-changer in this confrontation with Russia.
The one thing I'm sure of is that we are now facing a race against time with the Russians mobilizing their forces and regrouping along the front lines in Ukraine. And the Ukrainians awaiting more advanced weaponry from the west. And I believe it's been mostly the Polish government which has been quite insistent on the necessity of continuing our support in both military and political terms for Ukraine.
BOLDUAN: Just on a -- on a -- on a broad -- on the broad question of -- because it does come -- it does -- it does fall into the kind of there's a diplomatic element of this, of course, with all of this. You have Secretary of State Tony Blinken, he was asked about fighter jets yesterday. And one of the things that he said is the challenge in sending jets is the significant training and the maintenance that is required. That may be a military question. But I do wonder if you think that is why fighter jets aren't being sent. What is that -- what is -- what is -- what else is at play?
MAGIEROWSKI: Doubtless it will take a while to train the crews, for example, and the pilots, because an overwhelming majority of equipment the Ukrainians have been using so far, was Soviet-made. And that's why it would be a turning point in this confrontation, I believe, if all EU and NATO countries chose to deliver the F-16s or other Western- designed types of weapons to Ukraine right now. I do believe that this is what we need to do to supply the Ukrainians with everything they need to repel not only this potential upcoming Russian offensive during the winter season but also to fend off the Russian aggression and to win this war.
By the way, my impression is that we have been using the wrong terms too recently. We should change a little bit all our vocabulary, and stop saying about the possibility of not losing the war for Ukraine, but about Ukraine, which will eventually win this war. And this is I think we're -- something we need in order to encourage the Ukrainians to keep up with motivation.
BOLDUAN: That's very interesting. I -- because I do want to ask you. You said recently that you're not terribly optimistic about the course of this war. Can you talk to me about that? What that is?
MAGIEROWSKI: I'm not a -- to be a little bit more precise, I said -
MAGIEROWSKI: -- that I was not very optimistic about the duration of the war. Although I am fairly optimistic about the final outcome. We tended to overestimate Russia's military might before the invasion. Now, we tend to underestimate it. I think, unfortunately, the Russian army and the Russian society, and the Russian ruling elite are remarkably resilient in light of our -- of economic sanctions we have imposed on this country, and in the face of this miserable performance of the Russian forces in Ukraine.
Nevertheless, I think President Putin and his -- considering his blatant disregard for human life, he can still flood, overwhelm frontlines in Ukraine with manpower or cannon fodder if you will. And, of course, we have to be prepared for that. And we also have to be prepared for a -- for a protracted confrontation with the -- with the Russian Federation.
BOLDUAN: You know I think it just is also worth noting just the burden -- maybe that's the wrong word, Ambassador, but what all Poland has done and taken on so much more as Ukraine's neighbor throughout this. Just looking at refugees, I mean, the UN is -- puts the number at over one and a half million Ukrainian refugees in Poland, which is so much more than any other country. What has this meant for the people of Poland?
MAGIEROWSKI: Actually, if you combine two figures, all those Ukrainians who had lived and worked in Poland before the war and all those refugees who arrived in our country after the beginning of the hostilities, Poland's population has increased roughly by about three million people. And all those refugees are integrating into the British society, into the British labor market seamlessly, and perfectly. And we -- they are enriching, actually, our society and our economy. They -- their contribution to the British economy is absolutely spectacular. Remarkable.
Of course, it is a burden both in financial and in social terms. But I believe we are doing quite well right now. And we do expect also that other countries will understand how important it is to keep up this assistance. And also, that it's not only the humanitarian dimension we should be talking a little bit more intensely about but also the military aid because I do not believe in a diplomatic solution to this conflict. The solution should be military. And again, I think that militarily, Ukraine will eventually prevail, also with our help.
BOLDUAN: Ambassador, it's wonderful to have you. Thank you so much.
MAGIEROWSKI: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: So, an apology on Capitol Hill, a top executive with Southwest Airlines saying that they are sorry for the company's colossal meltdown over the holidays that we've talked so much about. So, what is Southwest going to do about it? That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BOLDUAN: Legendary composer Burt Bacharach has died. With a career, spanning decades from the 1950s to the 80s, he worked with everyone from the Carpenters to Dionne Warwick, so many people. Bacharach was famous for writing songs like Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, and that's what friend -- That's What Friends Are For, and this classic, of course, that he performed at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Bacharach has been honored with several Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. He's also won three Academy Awards. Burt Bacharach was 94 years old.
Also watching this today happening right now on Capitol Hill, a top Southwest Airlines executive has just apologized for the meltdown that stranded thousands of passengers over the holidays. The head of the Airline's Pilots Association is also testifying.
Let's get to this. Gabe Cohen, live in Washington with this, watching this for us. Gabe, what's happening with this hearing?
GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we've been watching it unfold over the past hour or so, a lot of heated questions. And the Pilots Union, we're now hearing them tell senators that they have been sounding the alarm about problems with the Southwest system for years, but they say they have largely been ignored. And in their testimony, they're including some really alarming messages that were sent back during that December meltdown from Southwest dispatchers to specific pilots on their cockpit computers actually onboard planes. In one of those messages, you can see on your screen, dispatchers actually asked the pilots to identify themselves because it appears the airline didn't actually know who was onboard that plane amid all those crew scheduling problems. And the message then ends "it's a mess down here."
Now, Southwest's chief operating officer is in the hot seat today. He is taking questions from senators. And we've heard him apologized several times at this point. He has said the airline messed up and they've been handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds. And they say they have improved their systems.
Take a listen. This was the chief operating officer just a few minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW WATTERSON, COO, SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: Let me be clear, we messed up. And I would like to explain to you how we messed up. In hindsight, we did not have enough winter operations resiliency. To that end, we've moved swiftly to make our systems more resilient and reduce the risk of further disruptions. We will invest what's needed to execute that plan in a timely and efficient manner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: And, Kate, this is just one of several alarming incidents in the aviation world here in recent months. And we now know next Wednesday, that same committee is going to hold a hearing with the FAA's acting administrator to discuss that system outage last month that caused the nationwide ground stop.
BOLDUAN: Yes, interesting. Gabe, thank you.
Let's turn to this. Alex Murdaugh's best friend is back on the stand. What he just revealed about the night of the murders? We'll get to that next.
BOLDUAN: All right, you're looking live with the court -- in a court -- inside the courtroom in South Carolina where Alex Murdaugh's best friend, Chris Wilson, is back on the stand in Murdaugh's murder trial. Wilson says that he spoke to Murdaugh and texted with him the night Murdaugh's wife and son were killed.
Randi Kaye is outside the courthouse in South Carolina for us once again. Randi, what are you hearing from this best friend?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, what stands out to me is the contact that he had with Alex Murdaugh, very close to the time, prosecutors and the defense believe that Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were killed. The first call that stands out to me is at 9:11 p.m., that would have been about 20 minutes after it's believed that Maggie and Paul were killed. And Chris Wilson told the jury that Alex Murdaugh called him at that time at 9:11 p.m. and sounded "normal." Another call is that -- was one that Chris Wilson made to Alex Murdaugh at 9:53 p.m., and he told the jury that Alex Murdaugh told him he was on his way back to the property, the hunting property where the murders took place. And remember, he called 911 at 10:07 p.m., so the timing is certainly something for the jury to pay close attention to.
But also, a lot of attention being paid to this witness, Megan Fletcher. She's a gunshot residue expert and she was testifying about this blue raincoat that was discovered at Alex Murdaugh's mother's home shortly after the murder. She testified that there was a significant amount of gunshot residue on this raincoat. 38 gunshot residue particles on the inside of the coat, which she thought was very interesting, and 14 particles on the outside.
Now, what she -- what she really helped to do there is help the prosecutors make their case that they seem to believe that Alex Murdaugh used that large raincoat to wrap the murder weapons in it, take them away from the murder scene, and dispose of them. The defense certainly doing all it can to knock down that theory, pointing out they just don't know when that gunshot residue got on that coat because of how hardy it is. It stays there for quite some time, Kate.
BOLDUAN: So interesting. Randi, thank you for that. Joining me now for more on this is Sara Azari. She's the host of the new crime show Death By Fame on Investigation Discovery. OK, so let's start with a friend who's on the stand right now. What do you make of the timestamp, the number of calls? What does this do?
SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. So, look, this is one of his very good friends. About 20 minutes after the time of the alleged murders, he's calling his best friend and he sounds normal. I mean, you're -- forget the wife. You blow your son's head out, and then you call various friends - this is not the only person, and sound normal? I mean, it just -- it's not going to make sense of the story.
AZARI: The more important part of this witness's testimony outside the presence of the jury is going to come when he testifies about the roadside shooting that Alex Murdaugh was involved in with the crazy Eddie guy in September. Kate, that matters because before and after, matters to motive.
BOLDUAN: Got it.
AZARI: If there's stuff coming in about what he did before the murders on June 7, then it goes to motive. But this is the prosecution's backdoor way of trying to get in things that happen after they go to propensity. And that's prejudicial.
BOLDUAN: It's so interesting. OK, let's talk about what Randi also brought up. I've asked you about this before and I'm curious, with this gunshot residue, this blue raincoat -- the first someone thought it was a tarp, it's a raincoat.
AZARI: Blue thing at all.
BOLDUAN: You -- the blue thing. Both the prosecution and the defense seem to be really leaning into this. How do you think this is shaken out?
AZARI: Well, look. To me, the prosecution has been overkill in so many respects --
AZARI: When your case is weak, you're going to put more focus on things you got that are really nothing burgers.
And this is a nothing burger. I've had GSR issues in probably a dozen cases over the years and you know, it just is there but you don't know when and how it got there. BOLDUAN: Right.
AZARI: And I think the defense did a great job in cross-examination at eliciting the fact that it could have been turned inside out and been on top of a shotgun called Bo-Whoop or something that belonged to his dad. And it could very well transfer that way.
GSR does not tell us anything. It's not persuasive. And really in this context in law country where everybody's shooting, probably the courtroom has a lot of GSR.
BOLDUAN: That's really interesting. All right, much more to come. It's great to have you, Sara. Thank you.
AZARI: Great to be with you.
BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for watching today. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" starts after this break.