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At This Hour

Russia Launches Strikes Across Ukraine, Ramps Up Offensive; President Biden Hosts Governors At The White House; Eagles & Chiefs Preparing For Sunday's Big Game. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 10, 2023 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Russia targeting Ukraine's already battered infrastructure with a barrage of cruise missile -- cruise missiles, rockets, and drones today. Ukrainian officials claim that some of those missiles actually flew over Moldova. Moldova is a key Ukrainian ally which could also be vulnerable to Russian aggression as we have learned. This all comes ahead of the unexpected new Russian offensive as the war nears this one-year mark.

David McKenzie is live for us in Kyiv with the very latest. David, what is happening there?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, do you saw this massive as the Ukrainians call it series of attempted strikes by the Russians overnight and into today? Look at this video. This is from the Ukrainian government soldier bringing down what appears to be a Russian missile. The Ukrainians say they successfully managed to stop around 60 of the 70 attempted missile strikes. That's in line with the recent successes of air defenses.

But when the missiles get through, this is an attack -- a town in the south near Zaporizhzhia. You see the sheer force of that blast, throwing a vehicle on top of a house. But what they have been targeting, as you say is the energy infrastructure -- the civilian infrastructure of this country trying to bring down the power grid. Now overall, the Ukrainians have somehow kept the lights on to a large degree, but there are some parts of the country, particularly in the East, Kate, where they are seeing blackouts.

And as you say, both Ukrainians and the Moldovans saying that a missile passed through their airspace. They bring in the Russian ambassador for a dressing down. It was relatively close to the Romanian border. That's a NATO country where Romania diverted at least two airplanes to inspect that possible missile strike. It is certainly an uptick in strikes, as you possibly might see, is spring offensive on the eve of the first anniversary of this conflict, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes. David, thank you for being there. Thank you for the update.

Joining me -- joining me now with more is Congressman Adam Smith. He's the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman, thanks for coming back. And let's start -- let's start with this -- what I think is really quite scary, which is Russia steering a cruise missile through Moldova to target Ukraine. How serious is that?

REP. ADAM SMITH, (D-WA): Now, it's the risk that's been in place for them since this war began. Will it expand to other countries around? I think it's very clear that Russia, certainly the U.S., and NATO have no interest in Ukraine as well in expanding this beyond the truly horrible fight that's going on in Ukraine.

But in a fight like that, there's always that risk. And then how will Moldova or you know, in the -- if it happens in Poland, how will they react? So, it's a very risky and dangerous situation without question.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. President Zelenskyy of Ukraine this week has been making a tour of Europe pressing EU leaders with his request for fighter jets. You have said previously that you're not opposed to sending F-16s to Ukraine, but what do you think the answer should be to Zelenskyy's requests right now?

SMITH: Well, first of all -- and let's be clear. I mean, that's what's been reported. And I -- you know, I haven't met with President Zelenskyy but I've certainly been in conversations with Ukrainian government officials. And yes, they're asking for F-16s but they're asking for a lot of other things as well. And the most important things are that the tanks, the Bradley Fighting Vehicles, so they can be more mobile in their ability to launch attacks, and then ammunition crucially, you -- you know, mentioned the cruise missile attacks overnight, having those air defense systems, having the ammo to keep firing back and hitting those cruise missiles. So, he's asking for a lot.

Look, the F-16s -- you know, we should give Ukraine whatever we can give them. My point on the F-16s is they are not going to be particularly effective in the current battlespace. I mean, the Russians have a large number of fighter attack aircraft that have been completely useless in this fight precisely because of those air defense systems. So, the F-16s are not the most important thing that Ukraine is asking for, even though it seems to be what we're focused on.

BOLDUAN: Yes, what -- where the conversation is, at least in part, in this moment.


BOLDUAN: That's interesting perspective. I do want to also ask you about the Chinese spy balloon. I want to play what the State Department said yesterday about a further response from the United States over this. Let me play this.


NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We're exploring -- taking action against PRC entities linked to the PLA that supported the balloon's incursion into U.S. airspace. We'll look at continuing these broader efforts to expose and to address the PRC's larger surveillance activities that pose a threat to our national security and that to our allies and partners as well. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: It caught my ear when he said taking -- you know, we're exploring taking action against the PRC. What could those further actions be? Do you want to see further response from the U.S. over this?


SMITH: Well, I don't know for sure, I'd have to hear the arguments in greater detail. I mean, you can certainly sanction entities or who are involved -- I mean, this exploration, so you know, what parts went into the making of this particular spy balloon and you could ban you know exports and or issue sanctions against anybody, you know, providing this type of equipment to China. There's a bunch of different options.

And yes, I think what we want to make clear on what President Biden has made clear is this is a clear violation of international law, and China should be called out for doing it. And if there are consequences, punishments that we can impose that will help make that point, then we absolutely ought to do it. Yes, nations spying on each other. But when it was -- when it is blatantly discovered, there needs to be consequences where possible. And I think the Biden administration is taking the absolute right approach to exploring those possibilities.

BOLDUAN: All right. And let's see where it -- and let us see where it leads. Congressman, thank you very much.

SMITH: Thanks, Kate. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Brazil's new president will be at the White House today. He speaks to CNN before meeting President Biden. Details on that, next.



BOLDUAN: President Biden is hosting a bipartisan group of governors at the White House today. You're seeing a view from the White House. And later today, he is set to be meeting with Brazil's new president in the Oval Office.

MJ Lee is tracking all of this for us from the White House. She's joining us now. MJ, what do we -- what are you hearing about these meetings?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, you know, in the next couple of hours, President Biden will be welcoming the new president of Brazil here at the White House for a bilateral meeting. And the two men are going to have a lot to discuss, and really, frankly, trade notes on given some of the dynamics that we have seen reflected in both the U.S. and Brazil over the last few years. Just to name a few, the rise of political extremism, right-wing populism, and also efforts to overturn election results. Weeks ago, we saw those jarring scenes coming out of Brazil where we saw protesters that were supporters of the ex-President, Jair Bolsonaro trying to storm government buildings. And those scenes really had echoes of what we saw here in our own country on January 6. And the president of Brazil just had to sit down with our own Christiane Amanpour, and he talked about just that. Take a listen.


LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL: (Speaking in a foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never could we imagine that in a country that was the symbol of democracy in the world, someone could try to invade the Capitol, or that one could be so inhuman as Trump was. And Bolsonaro is a copycat -- a fatal copycat of Trump as if when you would put it in a machine and take a photograph that would be the same thing, Bolsonaro, and Trump. And Brazil slowly welcomes to -- even to counter of itself and democracy will prevail. That's my commitment.


LEE: Democracy will prevail. Those are words that you can easily imagine President Biden himself saying. And US officials do say that sort of the theme of fighting anti-democratic movements, that will come up in the two men's meeting. We certainly expect that this is also going to mark sort of the turning of a chapter for U.S.-Brazil relations, at least as far as President Biden is concerned, given that he hardly had a close relationship with the former president, Bolsonaro. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I'm interested to hear what comes from this Oval Office meeting. Well, the potion -- the portion of the public gets to see. It'd be great to see. MJ, thank you very much.

Let's turn now to the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh. The family's housekeeper is on the stand. She testified that the day of the murders, Murdaugh's wife, Maggie, told her Alex had us both, her and their son Paul, to come to the hunting property where they were later found dead.

Randi Kaye has the very latest on this from South Carolina, always tracking it for us. Randi, what else is sticking out to you today from court?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Kate, the defense just asked for a mistrial, it was denied. But the prosecution was questioning that housekeeper and the defense felt that he went too far, that it was hearsay as the defense said you can't unring that bell. Basically, what the jury heard they're not going to forget it. He was speaking -- he was trying to get the housekeeper to talk about Maggie's state of mind -- Maggie Murdaugh's state of mind before she was killed, and also asking if she was worried about money at the time. But again, that mistrial has been denied.

But getting back to the housekeeper's testimony, she did talk about how he did invite -- when he was trying to get Paul and Maggie to come to Moselle, the hunting property that night. She also talked about the clothing that Alex Murdaugh was wearing the day of the murders and the night of the murders. She was showing the Snapchat video from Paul Murdaugh's phone where he was wearing pants and a short sleeve blue shirt. And she was asked by the prosecutor if he -- if she had ever seen all of those clothes again. Here's what she said.


JOHN MEADORS, PROSECUTOR: On June 8 of 2021 in the morning hours when you came back over there, was that shirt there?


MEADORS: Were these shoes that you have thought were house slippers, were those there?


MEADORS: Did you ever see those house shoes again?


MEADORS: And where did he usually keep them?


MEADORS: After June 7 of 2021, did you ever see this Sperry duck shoes again?

TURRUBIATE-SIMPSON: No, sir. I do not recall seeing them in the closet.

MEADORS: Never, ever?



KAYE: And she was also testifying about cleaning out Maggie Murdaugh's Mercedes following the murder. She said she found her wedding ring under the seat. So, now the jury will have to think about that and decide if indeed they were having some marital problems, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Randi, thanks for the update.

So, we are just two days away from the big kickoff of Super Bowl LVII. The party already underway though. We're going to take you to Phoenix next.



BOLDUAN: So, the stage is set for football's biggest night, Super Bowl LVII set to kick off on Sunday between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. The game will see several firsts. It will be the first Super Bowl with two black starting quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes. And it's also the first time two brothers will play against each other, the Kelce brothers.

State Farm Stadium outside of Phoenix is getting ready for Sunday's matchup. Andy Scholes is there. He's standing by. He's joining us now.


Andy, it looks gorgeous, unsurprisingly, where you are.


BOLDUAN: Talk to me about this big lead-up to the big game.

SCHOLES: Yes. Well, you know, Kate, we're of course hoping for a great Super Bowl on Sunday. And on paper, I mean, this is as close as it gets. You know, the oddsmakers have the Eagles that slight favorites, one and a half points. But these teams -- I mean, it couldn't be more even.

Both of them have 16 in three records heading into the game. Both of them have scored exactly 546 points. They both have six all pros, including a Kelce brother. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, he did win his second MVP award last night. But coming in second was Eagles' quarterback Jalen Hurts. So, again, you know, we're hoping that the game on Sunday is going to be as close as all of the stats.

Now, the family that is most invested in the game on Sunday, it's got to be the Kelces, right? You got Jason, the offensive lineman for the Eagles. You got Travis, the tight end for the Chiefs. You mentioned, Kate, this will be the first time ever that two brothers are going to face each other in the Super Bowl. And I actually got a chance to talk to their dad, Ed, last night about how he's feeling heading into the game.


ED KELCE, JASON & TRAVIS KELCE'S FATHER: It's special -- very special. It's something I've been dreaming about since about 2013 when Travis was drafted.

SCHOLES: What advice do you have for dads like me other than having good genes? But what advice do you have for raising professional athletes? Because you're pretty good at it.

KELCE: Well, if they -- and we're going to assume that that's what they want, first of all. I mean, your job is to help them find their passion and then you feed it and that's that. My advice for guys who want to be the best they can be in sports, particularly by seven or nine, get them on the ice.

SCHOLES: You mean --

KELCE: No, I'm not kidding.

SCHOLES: On the ice?

KELCE: Let me may ask to get them playing hockey.


SCHOLES: Kate, he said, get them on the ice and play hockey to get that footwork going at an early age. And he said if you can't find an ice rink, soccer would suffice. So, there you go. There's the advice for all the dads out there.

BOLDUAN: The hockey schedule from my good friends who have -- who have kids who play hockey. The hockey schedule is rough on the parents though. That's an early ice time. So, good luck with that one, my friend. Enjoy it. Enjoy your drive. It's going to be great to see your reaction on Monday. Thank you, Andy.

Let's talk more about this, what this means for the City of Phoenix in and of itself. The mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego joins me now. Mayor, thank you for taking the time. What is hosting the Super Bowl mean for Phoenix?

KATE GALLEGO, MAYOR OF PHOENIX, ARIZONA: Thanks. For us, it's really a chance to tell the story of Phoenix. We're the fifth-largest city in the country, but because we've grown and changed so much, we want to take the chance to tell people we're a tech and bioscience capital. We're celebrating our great winter weather. There's 200 countries that will be watching the big game and so we feel like it's our moment to shine.

BOLDUAN: That's great. I mean, I read that -- I've read that you said about one million people could be visiting your city for this big event and that's nothing to say with all the eyeballs you know from around the world that are going to be watching. When a lot of people think of Phoenix, Mayor, and I know you know this, they think it's a great place to retire, a great place for snowbirds. What do you want people to experience with Phoenix this time around?

GALLEGO: We're certainly well known for our amazing weather and resorts, but we're really emphasizing we're at Tech capital. The CEO of Apple was in our community in December to celebrate that the brains of the iPhone are going to be made in Phoenix. We have amazing bioscience research and we feel like the cure of so many cancers may come through Phoenix. So, where we had space for city advertising.

That's the type of story we are telling. We're bragging that were the first Super Bowl with an autonomous vehicle sponsor. And Sky Harbor Airport are amazing. Phoenix Airport is the first airport in the world to have autonomous vehicle pickup at the airport. We want to be known for being on the cutting edge of technology and innovation.

BOLDUAN: That's really cool. So, the Cardinals obviously aren't in the game. So, Mayor, who are you pulling for this weekend?

GALLEGO: So, it's amazing to look at the city. It looks like Christmas because there's so much green with red. I have a degree from the University of Pennsylvania, so a little bit of an edge for the Eagles but I'm happy with a great close game.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, you got it. This is when you've got to be a classic politician, which is I just want a good safe game and may the best -- may the best prevail. That's -- it's always but I like to be actually stuck it out there a little bit. OK.

Also, I was just thinking about this. It's possible that even with the Super Bowl there, the biggest sports story out of Phoenix might not be about football today. Kevin Durant being traded to the Phoenix Suns. What are people saying about that there?

GALLEGO: I've been in public life for a decade. This is unquestionably the most important trade that we have had in the Phoenix area. I had a personal record this week. My most popular tweet ever in my time in public life was welcoming Kevin to Phoenix. So, at least one day this week, we were a basketball town. I have a good friend of mine just told his wife he has to rebook their anniversary trip because it's during the potential playoff run. This city is excited.

BOLDUAN: That's hilarious. And we can talk about issues in that marriage later -- or not because you know what? That's really good. Mayor, thank you so much for taking the time to come on. Good luck this weekend. And I know there's you know, some speculation about your future plans, Mayor, your future goals, and job prospects so maybe ESPN or TNT analyst could also be added to the list.

GALLEGO: There you go. I'm -- we are a sports town in Phoenix and we're going to go straight from this to spring training baseball. So, it's a great time to be in Phoenix.

BOLDUAN: It's a good time to talk about something good too. Mayor, thanks for the time. I appreciate it.

And thank you so much for watching us, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" starts after this break.