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U.S. Army Veteran Dies In Action While Fighting For Ukraine; WH Launches Semiconductor Push Amid Heated Competition With China; Jury Hears Graphic Details From Forensic Pathologist In Murdaugh Trial. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 28, 2023 - 11:30   ET



MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And they're coming in, in huge numbers. That's what the real -- the soldiers have been -- (AUDIO GAP) those reports that the town has been entirely encircled. Although this is an effort the Russians have been making for some several weeks to try and get all the round -- all the way around this town to cut it off.

It will be an extremely symbolically important win for Moscow, strategically as well in its attempts to take the whole of the Donetsk region and therefore the whole of the Donbass. And yet Ukrainian soldiers say they're holding firm despite terrible conditions we've seen on videos that we've geolocated there, Kate, the muddy conditions, the flooding, the impossible roads for many of them. What they're saying as well is that they're coming under hundreds of artillery barrages every day, rocket fire as well as the Russian forces trying to break through their defenses encircling the town and cutting them off. That is not for the time being the case, Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Melissa, thank you very much.

There's also this. The father of a U.S. Army veteran killed in action in Ukraine says that his son when he described him as had a very strong sense of what was right and wrong. The State Department confirms Andrew Peters died February 16. The Afghan war veteran joined the international legion of Defense of Ukraine created by President Zelenskyy to allow foreign citizens to fight in Ukraine -- fight with them against the Russians.

In a statement, Peters' parents said this. He felt the need to use his prior military combat skills to help the Ukrainian people fight and liberate their country. Andrew Peters was 28 years old. We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: So, there are some of the smallest pieces of technology on the planet, also some of the most critically important, semiconductor chips. They're essential for most modern tech phones, cars, computers, medical equipment, you name it. And now, the Biden administration is making a big bet to try and beat out China to be the global leader in producing these chips.

Jeremy Diamond has more on this from the White House for us. Jeremy, you spoke with the commerce secretary about this CHIPS initiative? What did she tell you?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, one of the things that the commerce secretary wanted to be crystal clear about is that this is a national security initiative. It is about out-competing China in chips production and also ensuring that the U.S. isn't reliant on other foreign producers for these advanced chips, which are essential for a whole range of issues in terms of commercial applications, but also key military technologies as well.

But one of the things that Secretary Raimondo told us was also that in order to meet those national security goals that the United States needs to invest and make sure that there is a workforce that can meet the moment. And that's why as of today, the U.S. opens up nearly $40 billion of funding and subsidies for Chips manufacturers here in the United States. They're also making sure that these companies that are applying for these funds, that they have to lay out how they're going to meet some of these workforce development goals in terms of planning to work with educational institutions and to provide the kinds of training to ensure that there is that kind of highly skilled workforce able to produce these chips.

Also, looking to ensure that there is diversity in terms of both the chips manufacturing, but also the construction of these chips, manufacturing plants, which is going to require something from 120 to 140,000 construction workers to build all of these plants, according to the commerce secretary. They're also trying to meet some key domestic policy initiatives with this CHIPS plan as well. And that is that any applicant that's applying for more than $150 million in funding from this CHIPS program is also going to have to ensure that they lay out how they intend to provide some kind of access to childcare, whether on-site or childcare subsidies for their workforce.

All of this is with the goal of diversifying that workforce and ensuring that these are attractive jobs so that the U.S. can have enough people in these positions to meet those national security goals. But again, that is the big picture is the national security implications of this are so key and that's what Secretary Raimondo really wanted to stress to us. Kate.

BOLDUAN: It's so interesting. Thank you so much, Jeremy. Appreciate it.

So, as we speak, this focus on competition with China -- tension with China really is a big focus on Capitol Hill as well. Multiple committees focusing in on this really China situation as we speak, kind of culminating tonight in a first big hearing this evening by the new Select Committee on strategic competition between the U.S. and China. And our next guest, Democratic Congresswoman Haley Stevens. She sits on this committee.

Congresswoman, thank you for coming in. Let's talk about first the CHIPS Act as Jeremy diamond was laying out this push and -- this push from the administration around this. There is a lot to like. It got bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and beyond. And on paper, it sounds really good. The U.S. out competing China in a key industry. Why are you convinced it's going to work?

REP. HALEY STEVENS (D-MI): Well, the remainder of this, Kate, is that we innovated microchips in the United States of America. And at one point, we were making nearly 40 percent of them here. And now it is decades later, down to 13 percent. The tide rolled out.

I'm from Michigan. Our automotive base has really suffered the ramifications of a chip shortage. I'm enthusiastic and delighted to have been a lead author on the CHIPS and Science bill, also what we did to bolster scientific research funding in this country, and my legislation to invest in the workforce component of chips.

But now, we need to be looking at phase two, right? We don't want to wait for the next crisis. We're doing industrial policy for the 21st Century, leading by manufacturing and making in the United States of America. It sounds good to say, but we need to come up with the strategies in order to do it.


BOLDUAN: And you -- I'm sure you'll agree with the commerce secretary, as Jeremy was laying out this, she's made clear she views this as a national security issue. Given the environment of heightened tension between the U.S. and China right now, are you concerned that this push will inflame things even more rather than bring the temperature down?

STEVENS: Well, look. We are a manufacturing destination, and no one should be afraid of competition and no one country owns any market, so to speak. But the national security reality is that we don't want to be overly reliant on any country for critical supply chain goods, materials, parts, components. That's what's happened here with CHIPS. It was a wake-up call.

The questions that I'm bringing to this committee as a manufacturing policy expert from the Midwest is, what do we need to get in front of for the next round of technology, the next round of R&D, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, technologies that we see going into our automobiles? This is an exciting moment for us. But it's also definitely part of a wake-up call.

90 percent of the graphite -- I've just did a science committee hearing and we just heard from the council on competitiveness, 90 percent of the graphite that we're relying on for batteries and for anything that that is supplied by graphite is coming from China. We're also in raw materials in a rare earth minerals race. I've been talking about this since we -- the days we were doing the auto rescue, Kate. Now, here we are about to hit the quarter 21st-century mark for this nation, and we've got to think about industrial policy in a new way.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Being proactive rather than reactive, which I think you can agree.

STEVENS: It does look like. BOLDUAN: Congress has a very hard time doing sometimes. But let me -- let me ask you about this. This tension that I was just talking about when it comes to U.S. and China, it now also includes the very real possibility that China will send lethal aid to Russia and aiding in its fight in Ukraine. I asked the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee about this and he said that move would be crossing a red line. Let me play this for you from Michael McCaul.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, (R-TX): This crosses the red line in my judgment. And I think all options should be on the table. I think sanctions would be an obvious easy one.

I think cutting off semiconductor chips would really bring both China and Russia to their knees. They wouldn't be able to manufacture these arms equipment. And I think that would be a very wise first sanction to be looking at.


BOLDUAN: Congresswoman, do you agree?

STEVENS: Well, my opinion of this is that the CCP seems to be all over the place as it pertains to Russia. Certainly, they're calling for an end to the war but not by any means in which we're calling an end to the war. And you saw the president speak to that recently and saying that it didn't really make a lot of sense.

Now, we're looking at them potentially sending arms to Russia, which would be quite mind-blowing and disappointing. And the steps that I think that we need to take in response are going to have to be serious. They're going to have to be aggressive. And they're not going to be singular. We're going to have to act alongside our Western allies and our -- and our allies to the -- to the south of us.

Certainly, what is taking place in Ukraine with Russia's illegal war one year on is not acceptable. It has never been acceptable. And democracy must prevail. We cannot condone lawless autocracies going forward in the way Russia has. And if China does want to sell arms, that certainly asks a lot of questions and begets action.

BOLDUAN: You have this first hearing tonight of the House Select Committee on China and the chair and ranking member of the committee appeared together for interviews this weekend to make the point that your work as a committee, it is going to be bipartisan. There are very few examples in recent memory, really, of committees on the Hill that really do that, are bipartisan to start, and even if they start out that way, with the goal that they end up that way. Why do you think your committee can pull this off?

STEVENS: Well, I remain optimistic. I think some of the existential challenges with regard to the competition with the CCP will get collaboration. And you certainly see members of this committee, Mr. Gallagher, as the chairman of the full committee with an expert background. He's a marine Ph.D. in foreign policy background. Many of us are coming in on the economic side. And certainly, listening to our stakeholders, right?

I was in District last week and I convened Michigan manufacturers in Oakland County, Michigan, to hear directly from them about what our automotive sector needs. What this competition means to them? The economic drivers of this on the workforce front, on the production front, are very real. That's something I want to bring to this committee. And I'm certainly expecting my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to listen.


BOLDUAN: Very interesting. We'll definitely be watching this evening. Congresswoman, thank you for your time.

So, graphic testimony in the Alex Murdaugh trial. A forensic pathologist called back to the stand to testify about the wounds that Murdaugh's wife and son sustained in the shootings. We're going to go there. Next.


BOLDUAN: You're looking live -- at live pictures inside the courtroom in South Carolina.


This could be one of the final days of Alex Murdaugh's double murder trial. The jury is hearing really graphic testimony right now from a forensic pathologist. Later today, the jury is expected to visit the property where Murdaugh's wife and son were killed.

Dianne Gallagher is outside the courthouse. She's joining us now. Dianne, what's happening in there today?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Kate, right now, we're watching defense attorney Dick Harpootlian cross-examined Dr. Ellen Reimer. She is the pathologist who performed the autopsies on Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.

Yesterday, for people who were following the trial, the defense brought on its own pathologist to create questions about some of her findings, including the determination of angles of shots and whether or not one of those shots was actually an entrance and exit wound. They've been going back and forth for roughly 15 minutes here sort of on this agree to disagree on these findings. But this is part of what the defense continued to do during its case presentation to try and poke holes and create doubt around the state's narrative they've created about what happened on June 7, 2021.

I can tell you that court has been a little bit for lack of a better word, Kate, spicier today with the attorneys before the jury even came in. The defense really protested on the length of time that this trial has taken. We're talking about what was supposed to be a three-week trial. We're in week six now. And the state said that they are going to call seven witnesses in its rebuttal period, rather than the initial one to two or three to four that they said yesterday evening. This was the exchange between the attorneys before the juries came in.


DICK HARPOOTLIAN, MURDAUGH DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Again, we've taken -- this was an estimated three-week trial. We're now in week six. This will go into week seven. It seems to me the state's position is let no dead horse go unbeaten. This has got to stop. Thank you.

CREIGHTON WATERS, CHIEF PROSECUTOR: For the defense, of course, you know, we had the meeting with Judge Price. At the time, we all agreed with that estimate. It was not just the state. I realized this is going long. I intend to move expeditiously. But the state has the right and the opportunity to do appropriate rebuttal evidence to a defense case.


GALLAGHER: Now, you mentioned that trip to Moselle, the scene of the murders, that Murdaugh family property. Kate, that can only happen once the defense is finished with its -- excuse me, once the state is finished with its reply.

BOLDUAN: All right, much more to come. Dianne, thank you.

Joining me now for more on this is CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson. He's a criminal defense attorney. So, Joey, let's start with -- as Dianne was just leaving off where this -- the next thing that could come could be the jury making this trip to the Moselle property, the scene of the crime if you will where both Alex Murdaugh's wife and son were murdered. How impactful is it when the -- do you think when a jury heads to the crime scene? I mean, the defense argued for it, the state argued against it if you will, why?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, Kate, good morning to you. So, the answer is it's very impactful why right? What are trials about? They're about bringing the jury to where the -- where the incident occurred, where the crime occurred. And so, you do that by showing pictures. You do that by video. There's nothing more probative, more important, more relevant than actually bringing the jury there.

Now, you can argue that some jurors will have formed conclusions and they will, based upon the visit to their property, really confirmed some of the notions that they believe happened or you could argue that some minds will be changed based upon how it's laid out. But I think the defense certainly wants to bring them there to go into their narrative.

Could it have been two shooters who actually did this as opposed to one? Is that even possible? Well, the layout and scope of the property and based upon what Alex Murdaugh was testifying to, in terms of him using a golf cart to get down to the kennels back home, could he have done that? You know, was that proper? Does that raise reasonable doubt?

So, the defense certainly wants to show them how it's laid out, how it's situated to propagate their narrative as to what specifically happened on that day. And whether their client committed these crimes.

BOLDUAN: And that net speaks to when they do get to it, which could be later this week, what the case the defense will be making and its closings. What then do you think that the prosecution wants to leave as the last thought with voter -- with voters -- with jurors when in closing arguments? What's their strongest piece?

JACKSON: Yes. So, it comes down to that -- there's the weakest and the strongest. And ultimately, what they are going to argue is that the timeline is damning, Kate. They are going to propagate the narrative with respect to who else could have been within the limited timeframe with regard to Alex Murdaugh.


And what he said before, he's a liar. He can't be trusted. He looked you in the eye like he looked at so many of his clients, and he lied to them just as he's lying to you. Who else would have the motive? Who else would have the opportunity? Who else would have the ability to do that?

That will be what the prosecution would say. Obviously, the defense will take them to task on the issue of motivation, he loved his family. On the issue of it could have been other people who could have done this, he certainly had this drug problem and pill problem.

And so, hey, who was he hanging out with who could have meant harm? And with respect to his son, Paul, certainly, he didn't have a lot of friends because of the boating accident people meaning him harm. Those will be the narratives we'll see. Certainly, there'll be powerful closing arguments to come.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Joey, we'll be right there with you. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

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