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SEC And DOJ Open Investigations Into Silicon Valley Bank Collapse; FAA Holds Emergency Meeting After Seven Runway Close Calls; Report: The Number Of People Living With Alzheimer's To Double By 2050. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 15, 2023 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The SEC and the Justice Department are both opening investigations into Silicon Valley Bank's collapse. And those investigations reportedly include a look at actions taken by bank executives just before the failure. Members of Congress are also promising action from Capitol Hill. Here's Democrat Jeff Jackson on CNN just today.


REP. JEFF JACKSON, (D-NC): So, I think there should be congressional hearings. I think there will be congressional hearings. I think the purpose of those congressional hearings will be twofold. First, an accountability phase. You referenced stock sales by the CEO in the weeks before the bank collapsed. And the second is going to be to inform the regulatory response.


BOLDUAN: That could be on the House side. Let's talk about the Senate side. Joining me right now is Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. He sits on the Senate Banking Committee. Senator, thank you for being here.

Let's start with this reporting that we see from the Wall Street Journal that DOJ and SEC, they're looking into how both SVB's CEO and CFO sold off shares in the bank the week before the bank collapsed. Do you think this could go beyond bad management decisions and into criminal behavior?


SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D-MD): Hi, Kate, it's good to be with you. I think we need to investigate that question, and that's exactly what the Justice Department and others are doing because we did have these big stock sales by the president of the SVB, the bank, as well as others. So, one question, of course, is, was there inside information, inside trading? In my view, we need to look into that.

But even if there was not, I think we need to claw back some of the gains that were made through those tax sales, just on the -- you know, on the eve of the crash of the bank because those funds should contribute to the fund that is going to be keeping all depositors whole. So, yes, we need to investigate that. The possibility of wrongdoing. But either way, I think those that profited on the eve of the collapse need to chip in to help defray the overall cost.

BOLDUAN: Senator, what is the committee's role in the kind of figuring this out? Would you like -- would you like the CEO Greg Becker and the CFO Daniel Beck to come speak to your committee?

VAN HOLLEN: I would. Look. The chairman of the committee, Senator Sherrod Brown is very much on top of this. I've spoken to him. I do expect the committee to conduct hearings. I don't want to get ahead of him as to exactly what witnesses would be called. But we do need to do a post mortem and find out what went wrong and hold people accountable, as well as inform ourselves and -- about what measures that we in Congress can take, what the Fed can be doing to you know prevent this from happening going forward.

BOLDUAN: And let me ask about that because three of your colleagues, Senators Warren, Menendez, and Booker, they've introduced a bill to repeal the 2018 law that rolled back, so -- repeal the clawback if you will, of some of those Dodd-Frank protections and brags that we've been really talking so much about since this weekend. You voted against the move to roll those regulations back. You voted against that 2018 bill. Do you support this effort by your colleagues? Do you think this is where the focus should be right now?

VAN HOLLEN: I did, as you said, oppose the rollback of regulations that took place, you know, a number of years ago which removed the more stringent regulations on banks below $250 billion in assets. And I certainly would support putting back in place the tougher regulations with respect to the bank -- a bank the size of the Silicon Valley Bank and these other banks. There may be other issues that we want to address at the same time.

The Federal Reserve had undertaken a rulemaking on its own back in January, something I strongly supported, to look into exactly these kinds of risk factors. Obviously, we wish that effort had been undertaken sooner. But we really need to support that effort. I've heard from a lot of my Senate Republican colleagues who at least before the collapse of these banks, were opposing the Fed's action to reduce the risks. I'm hoping now that the Fed will move forward quickly.

BOLDUAN: I'll say in reading and it was in January, I believe that you sent the -- you sent that letter and you -- and you -- I was reading some of the reporting around it and your press release, and it's pretty appreciating some wild foreshadowing in what you're saying that needed to be done even at that time ahead of this. On the issue of that rollback of regs, I talked to the Democratic Congressman, Josh Gottheimer yesterday about it. He supported rolling back those regulations in 2018. And his reason being is, he says they were too much for smaller banks. Let me play for you what he told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER, (D-NJ): When Dodd-Frank was passed, it literally had all the same requirements for the biggest banks, the chases of the world, and also your community banks. So, what was happening is all the community banks were going out. They were consolidating and selling to the big banks. And it was going to the opposite effect of what we were trying to create, which was getting away from a few banks that were too big to fail.


BOLDUAN: I understand your position on the regs, but do you see his point?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, Kate, the issue back when that legislation passed was that some of the bigger banks, banks, the size of Silicon Valley Bank, tried to piggyback on the effort by community banks to try to reduce some of the strict regulations that did not necessarily need to apply to community banks. So, this is -- this is why I'm not yet on the bill to totally go back to where we were because I think a community bank does need more flexibility. But the reason -- the reason I oppose that, why I do think that that may be a factor in what happened here is because nobody can describe Silicon Valley Bank as a community bank, right?


This was a -- this was a -- it wasn't a super big bank, but it was a very sizable bank. And so, we should never have removed the requirement that a bank like Silicon Valley Bank be subjected to any -- subject to annual stress tests, for example. So, again, this is -- this was a big part of the discussion back in the day. Many of us supported a little more relief for the community banks, truly community banks, but not for a bank the size of Silicon Valley Bank. And I think you know, what happened is borne out of our concerns about that.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And look. I -- look, a nuanced position can be tough sometimes in sound bites on TV, but that's the important part of legislating. So, we'll see what comes from it, and what investigations also lead from your committee. Congress --- Senator, thank you. I still sometimes call your congressman and I'm so sorry. Senator, thank you so much.

VAN HOLLEN: It's great to be with you. We're on to the budget battles in the Senate just as we did, in fact, in past years in the House.

BOLDUAN: Exactly right. And much -- and much to discuss on that in the future. Thank you, Senator.

So, tonight on CNN primetime, the failure of SVB. How did it happen? And what does it mean for the banking system now? CNN's Poppy Harlow, she asked the experts. It's called Bank Bust: What's Next For America's Money. That airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Happening AT THIS HOUR. The FAA is holding a rare emergency safety summit and so far, we've heard from the acting FAA administrator as well as the Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg. This is happening as the agency at the FAA is investigating yet another close call between two commercial jets, this time at Reagan National Airport. Pete Muntean has the latest.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: This latest incident underscores just how serious this problem is. To put this into context, the last time the FAA held a safety summit like this was back in 2009. That was the last time. There was a fatal crash involving a commercial airliner in the United States.

There has not been a fatality in the seven so-called runway incursions, but the FAA says it is not waiting for catastrophe to strike. That's why it is assembled airlines, trade groups, and labor unions to try and figure out exactly what the problem is here.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg opened this session. I just spoke with him. He says there is no apparent common cause in all of these incidents, but a cause and a fix must be found now.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: There will be one thing if we found a certain piece of technology in the cockpit or a certain control tower where there were -- there were a lot of issues. But instead, what we're finding is that pilots, ground crews, and controllers alike seem to be experiencing this uptick. Some have described it as a kind of rust but that needs to turn into a very concrete diagnosis and specific action steps. We're not going to wait for something worst to happen to act now.

MUNTEAN: The FAA says this is just the start of a sweeping safety review. And it says it's holding more events like this in the future. Pete Muntean, CNN, McLean, Virginia.


BOLDUAN: And, Pete, thank you so much for that. An important programming note, everyone. Tomorrow, join me for a look at what's going on with America's aviation industry, why so many close calls, and how can air travel get back on track. I'll be hosting this special hour, Flight Risk: Turbulent Times For Air travel. It airs Thursday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: A pretty startling new report from the Alzheimer's Association. The number of seniors in the U.S. living with the disease is expected to nearly double by 2050. Elizabeth Cohen has more on this for us. Elizabeth, what more are you learning in this -- in this new report?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, what we're learning is just there's going to be so many more people with Alzheimer's disease in the coming decades. This is because basically baby boomers are getting older. Let's take a look at these numbers.

So, if we look at this year, we're talking about 6.7 million people being diagnosed with Alzheimer's dementia. In 2050, it'll be 12.7 million. Now, what can we do about this? We need more geriatricians, doctors who treat old people. And also, we need better treatment for Alzheimer's.

The reason is, is that there are two drugs that slow the progression of the disease but there are issues. Many people say they don't work terribly well. And they're incredibly expensive. And for many people, your insurance is not going to pay for them. So, right now, all you can do is go to your doctor, see what they can do for you.

One of the things this report points out is that too often people don't go to their doctor when they're starting to see the signs of Alzheimer's. Don't be embarrassed about it. It's important to get help. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Elizabeth, thank you for that reminder and the report.

Let's end with this today. Stunning new images that you'll see only on CNN captured just last week as Antarctica's sea level -- sea ice levels, reached record lows for the second time in two years. This, of course, will come from none other than Bill Weir and his team.


BOLDUAN: I don't. That's what you're saying, you got all the luck because you're lucky you have to do this, Bill.

WEIR: That's true -- that's true. OK.

BOLDUAN: And he's kind enough to come off the boat, come off the ice, and come in here with us. When you see -- with the headlines are always -- we always talk about all of the dire predictions that are coming and are here.

WEIR: Yes.

BOLDUAN: But then you see these images that you've brought back. I don't even know how to square it. Tell me.

WEIR: It is -- it is life-changing. And for those lucky enough to get down there, it is the wildest place in the world. If you look at a map of Antarctica, that thumb that's pointing toward South America, that's the peninsula. That's where we went. Surrounded by just these moving sculptures of ice and light and penguins.

And -- but soon as you meet these little welcoming committees around there, your wonder turns to worry because you realize they are already being forced to adapt to a warming world. They're finding penguin colonies as far south as they've ever seen before to escape the heat. A freak snowstorm delayed the nesting.

So, these -- look at this couple. We watch them build a nest, but it's way too late in the season for them because they got all this snow at the wrong time. At the same time, the sea ice is going away and that's where the krill grows, that's their food supply. 90 percent of penguins' diet are these little shrimpy krill. And those things feed humpback whales as well --

BOLDUAN: Yes. And so other animals, do they?

WEIR: -- other in the bottom of the food chain there. And so, there are worries that those population numbers could crash as things heat up.


We were actually with whale scientists as they took pregnancy tests of humpbacks and minkes with crossbows. You shoot a dart in to get a little piece of blubber. That's a minke whale right beneath our boat right there.

BOLDUAN: It's amazing.

WEIR: But what gives me hope about this place is Antarctica is proof that humans can realize we have gone too far and back up. It's the only place on the planet that's set aside for peace and science. The populations of a comeback of whales and penguins, all these things we used to hunt to near extinction.


WEIR: So, maybe given space and time, the lessons there could help us going forward.

BOLDUAN: And Bill is working on a big project on this very thing. Thank you though for bringing it to us.

WEIR: Of course.

BOLDUAN: And thanks for taking us there. I can't wait to see it as always.

WEIR: You got it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Bill.

WEIR: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for watching AT THIS HOUR. "INSIDE POLITICS" starts after this.