Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Durham's Newly Released Report; Retail Spending Rebounded in April; Migrant Encounters Slow Down; CIA Tries to Recruit Russian Spies; ChatGPT CEO to Testify. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired May 16, 2023 - 09:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Has much more on this. She's joining us now.

Paula, there is a lot to chew through. I mean it is 306 pages. What are people seeing in this today?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, here Durham goes through the steps that the FBI took in the course of this investigation and he criticizes them again and again, but he doesn't bring forth many new criticisms or really any significant new evidence.

One key thing he really focuses on, though, is that he faults the FBI for opening a full investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia. He says that they should have proceeded with a preliminary review instead.

Now, that requires a lower threshold to begin, but also means that agents don't have access to more invasive tools, like FISA surveillance warrants. And he nods that, yes, they did have enough to open a preliminary review at this time, but he faults them for not taking the usual steps, including not interviewing relevant witnesses, not reviewing its own intelligence databases or using any of the standard analytical tools typically employed by the FBI in evaluating raw intelligence. He says that instead the FBI relied on raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence to open a full-blown investigation.

And he also says that the FBI didn't have proof of any collusion when it opened this investigation. But, of course, Kate, that is often the case that when you initially start investigating alleged crimes, you may not necessarily have evidence of that crime at the outset.

Now, he did not find any evidence of a grand conspiracy against former President Trump and he's not bringing forth any additional charges. Now, so far his years' long investigation has resulted in one minor conviction and two trial losses.

BOLDUAN: And with all of this said and all the criticism at the FBI, what -- how is the FBI responding?

REID: Well, in a statement the FBI director, Christopher Wray, said, quote, the report reminds us why we've instituted so many reforms since that time to solidify the importance of doing the right thing in the right way every time. It's why in response to the IG, inspector general's, 2019 report, we undertook more than 40 corrective actions and have since made dozens more.

Now, Durham is particularly critical of senior FBI officials who were in office at this time. It's important to note, Kate, that many of the people who were in charge at the FBI at the time this began, they're no longer there. But Durham said that he believed that some people in the FBI at that time had a political bias that resulted in sort of a confirmation bias against the former president.

Now, I will note that throughout the Mueller investigation it was Republicans, Trump-appointed Republicans, who were in charge at the FBI and the Justice Department.

Now, of course, this report will continue to be battered about in political circles. We know that top House Republican Jim Jordan has asked the Justice Department to have Durham come and testify next week. So, we can expect that former President Trump and his allies will continue to use these findings, however nuanced, for their political objectives, even though they did not result in the blockbuster revelations that the former president had promised.

BOLDUAN: Paula Reid, thank you so much.

One thing that is clear in all of this, John, is there was a long road to getting to this point.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A long road indeed. So, let's review how we got to this point in the 306-page report. Quite a segue, Kate Bolduan.

From the beginning you will remember Donald Trump railed against the Russia probe.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (September 22, 2017): I call it the Russian hoax. One of the great hoaxes.

TRUMP: (May 18, 2017): The entire thing has been a witch-hunt.

TRUMP (September 22, 2017): But it is one great hoax.

TRUMP (April 9, 2015): This is a pure and simple witch hunt.


BERMAN: In 2019 Trump's former attorney general, Bill Barr, was so convinced the FBI unfairly targeted Trump that he called in John Durham to investigate the investigators. In all the probe cost more than $6.5 million, but as Paula Reid noted, had little success in court. As Paula noted, Durham indicted three people, Igor Danchenko and Michael Sussmann, they were charged with lying to the FBI, they were both found not guilty, and a mid-level FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, pleaded guilty to doctoring an email about a surveillance warrant. He served no jail time.

As for the politics, Trump, who is currently the Republican frontrunner, wrote his supporters this last night. The American public was scammed, just as it is being scammed right now.


SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, just in, new numbers show spending by American consumers rose last month after two months of declines. Retail sales rose by 0.4 percent in April from the prior month.

CNN chief business correspondent and anchor of CNN's "EARLY START," Christine Romans, is here now.

All right, so this is a tiny uptick.


SIDNER: What does it mean? Does it tell us something?

ROMANS: Just think of all of the headwinds that consumers are facing, higher interest rates, their mortgage rates are higher, their car loans cost more, every day things still cost way more than they did a year ago. Then you had these bank failures and all of this this talk about a recession, and what did consumers do?


They kept spending. They went into bars and restaurants, they went to the auto dealership, they went to home improvement stores and they spent more in April than they did in March.

Now, it wasn't a gangbuster's growth. And you can see, if you look at the trend, we were a little worried about a softening - a softening consumer in the past few months. But up 0.4 percent is an improvement. It shows consumer still moving forward.

The word I keep hearing about the consumer is resilient. No matter what they are thrown, they're coming out of the Covid crouch, they want to spend money on the things they want to spend money on, and they have sort of better balance sheets than they've had in a long time. You know, they're racking up credit card debt, for example, but still 54 percent of people are paying off their credit card debt every month. That's a good thing.

So, we'll watch all of this to see if maybe there are chinks in the armor. But, at least for now, not as strongly as economists had expected, but the consumer moving stronger here still.

SIDNER: I like how you mentioned the headwinds, because people forget. They see that number and they think, well, that's not that great, but there are a lot of things that could stop you or make you worry about your own personal finances right now.

ROMANS: Exactly. Exactly.

SIDNER: Speaking of finances, the former CEO of Silicon Valley Bank is expected to talk to a Senate hearing today.


SIDNER: What can we expect to learn? I'm sure that this CEO is going to be grilled.

ROMANS: Yes, so this is just - in just less than a half an hour we're going to hear from - from Greg Becker, the former CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, and he's going to say he's sorry to employees, to shareholders, to customers of Silicon Valley Bank, but he's also going to point out that when this all started, when the Fed first said that inflation was transitory, that managers of banks would have had no idea that you would see the biggest rate increases in 40 years. So, he's going to talk about the Fed's messaging. He will apologize.

You remember that Fed regulators have said that this is just bad management at some of these banks. That's what took them down. I'm sure you will hear Congress members, senators actually here, grill these CEOs.

We'll also hear from the Signature Bank founder and the former CEO there about what went wrong at Signature Bank. So, two kind of separate instances, but both banks that were niche banks catering to a certain kind of client and then suddenly the rug was pulled out.

You'll also hear from the Silicon Valley Bank CEO that the speed of the withdrawals, he's going to say that, I do not believe any bank could survive a run - a bank run of that velocity and magnitude, which was far beyond historical precedence. I mean money over, you know, using your app was just flying out of that bank. In other bank runs you had to stand, right, at the bank and withdraw your money.

SIDNER: Right.

ROMANS: So, there's a whole new kind of era that technology gave worsened this bank run.

SIDNER: Christine Romans, I love it when you come because I always learn something. Thank you so much for that.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SIDNER: We appreciate it.


BERMAN: How will artificial intelligence change, improve, maybe ruin your life? How much protection do you need the government to provide? These are key questions being asked in Washington this morning.

The CIA launches a new campaign to recruit Russian spies. Why the CIA sees this as a, quote, unprecedented opportunity.


[09:42:27] SIDNER: Taiwan moving one step closer today to full marriage equality. The island became the first jurisdiction in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage and now the Taiwanese legislature has passed a bill that grants same-sex couples all the rights surrounding adopting a child. Previously only heterosexual couples and single people were given full adoption rights.

Now to New Zealand. A fire in a hospital has killed six people and at least five others were injured. Dozens more remain unaccounted for. Hostiles are often frequented by young people looking for inexpensive ways to travel. The deadly incident happened in the capital city of Wellington. The cause of that fire, unknown.

In Myanmar, at least 41 people are dead and dozens more are missing after a cyclone hit the southeast Asian nation. The death toll is expected to climb significantly with at least one rescue group saying they're bracing for a large-scale loss of life there. The cyclone, which barreled into Myanmar's coast on Sunday, is one of the strongest storms to ever hit that country.


BOLDUAN: One question this morning, did the tough talk work? Migrant encounters at the southern border appear to be down and holding from below the surge and kind of the crush that were feared and expected post Title 42. Yet this is the scene just across the border from Brownsville, Texas, right now. An increasing number of people camping out across the border in Mexico.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in McAllen, Texas. She's been tracking this all along the way.

Rosa, I know that you're doing a lot of new reporting on this, and speaking to a lot of officials. Why was the expected surge -- why is it not happening?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, I've talked to officials and also community leaders on the Mexican side. So these are individuals who are talking to migrants who are in the know about what's going on. And what they tell me is that the tough talk by the Biden administration is actually working. They say that migrants are getting the message that the border is closed. They're also seeing images because now the Biden administration is also being more transparent, allowing reporters to take video of migrants who are shackled and boarded on to planes and deported to their home countries.

And what's going on is that these messages are being sent on social media and in What'sApp groups that a lot of these migrants are part of. That's how they get their information. They're not watching CN. They are getting their news from these What'sApp groups and Facebook and Instagram.


And so those are the messages that they're receiving. The pictures of migrants being deported that they're seeing and on top of that they are actually listening now to Mexican officials who are telling them that once Title 42 lifted and Title 8 was going to be used to process migrants in the United States, that there's also legal consequences for them trying to enter the country illegally.

One of those consequences is the five-year bar of re-entry into the United States and also that asylum ban that was passed as soon as Title 42 lifted. And so now they understand, or that is what officials and community leaders are telling me, that migrants are now understanding that there are legal consequences and so they'd rather wait in Mexico, you showed that video of that camp in Matamoros, they'd rather wait there for -- sorry, that was a very big bird right in front of my face - they'd rather wait there for the CBP-1 app to enter the country legally than enter the country illegally only to be immediately deported.


BOLDUAN: Rosa, thank you, as always. The only word that can come to find is unflappable, but that is some ridiculous pun that I just can't think of another one. But thank you, as always, Rosa.

John, take it quickly, please.

BERMAN: If you hadn't have used it, I would.

All right, a new effort by the CIA this morning. The agency has launched a new campaign aimed at recruiting Russians -- Russians to spy for the United States. The spy agency is targeting Russians disaffected by the war in Ukraine and life in Russia.

CNN's Alex Marquardt helped break this story.

Alex, how is this going to work exactly and why do they think it will work now?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, how it's going to work, and what the CIA has done already is they've posted this video on their social media accounts. The first one that they posted on is the social media app Telegram. And that is an app that so many Russians use to get unfiltered news because, of course, the news media is heavily controlled by the state, but it's also -- you know, Russia is a country where you - where it is very difficult without a VPN to get access to social media apps.

Now, John, the CIA analysts who I spoke with, the officials I spoke with, said that this is now an unprecedented moment because of the war in Ukraine. It is a historic and rare opportunity, they said, to try to recruit more Russian spies because of how disaffected they are by the war in Ukraine, because of the anger that they feel about the repression under the Putin regime. And over the past year, leaders of the CIA have talked about how disaffected Russians are and the opportunities that this presents.

Take a listen.


WILLIAM BURNS, CIA DIRECTOR: Disaffection with the war will continue to gnaw away at the Russian leadership beneath the steady diet of state propaganda and practiced repression.

DAVID MARLOWE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR OPERATIONS, CIA: We're looking around the world for Russians who are as disgusted with that as we are because we're open for business.


MARQUARDT: So, John, open for business for the past year has meant directing Russians who want to share valuable information with the CIA to a portal on the dark web that they can access through the dark web browser Tor. Now, they have had some success with that, but now the CIA is really stepping that up because they believe that there are a lot of Russians out there who don't understand the value of the information that they have and who believe that it is too dangerous or too complicated to reach out to the CIA. So, in their words, they want to demystify that process through this new video which touches on those themes of patriotism, of fighting oppression. It even quotes from Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. Here's a little bit of this new video.

BERMAN: We don't have that bite, Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. I'm not -

BERMAN: But rest assured it's out there, people can see it, and it's fascinating to see.

MARQUARDT: Yes, it really is. This is a two-minute-long very cinematic, very dramatic video that does not mention Putin or Ukraine directly, but it shows scenes of Russians going out about their normal lives, questioning what they're doing. They -- it talks about their love of country and doing the right thing for their families and living with dignity.

And when I asked the CIA officials what kind of success they've had over the past year, through their efforts, they said they wouldn't be rolling out this new video if they hadn't had some success. In the words of one CIA official I spoke with, he said, contacts are coming in.


BERMAN: It is very interesting, this effort. Also so interesting that they kind of want it public and everyone to know about it.


Alex Marquardt, terrific reporting. Thank you very much.


SIDNER: It was fascinating. All right, speaking of fascination, how will artificial intelligence

change life as we know it. Congress wants to know the answer to that and wants to know if it needs to step in and take action.


SIDNER: This morning, the man behind the artificial intelligence company that created the viral chat bot, ChatGPT, is set to testify before Congress. Sam Altman, the co-founder and CEO of OpenAI will speak during a Senate panel hearing on the risks AI poses to society and what safeguards are needed for the emerging technology.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is here with me.

Donie, straight out of Ireland. I will find out exactly where you're from in a moment.

We - look, we have been warned buy the tech industry leaders that, hello, this could be a major game changer and a disaster for human kind.

So, what are leaders hoping to hear from Altman today?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, as you say, the stakes are high here.


But, look, I mean, this is, I think, very much going to be a surface level hearing. I mean we've heard so much about how AI is, it's already, but how it is going to touch every part of our lives, from the jobs industry, music industry, film, disinformation, whether that's in a national security threat level or also ahead, of course, of next year's election.

So I think today will - you know, it is the first time we're hearing from Altman in front of Congress. It's the first time he's being put on the spot in that way. And, look, Congress is catching up to this. Lawmakers are trying to catch up to this.

SIDNER: Are they?

O'SULLIVAN: But so is everybody else, right? Everybody else is also - this - the speed at which this is developing is so exponentially quick, faster than even the social media revolution is what experts have said to us.

Look, I will just say, it took 14 years of Facebook to be around before Congress got Zuckerberg in front of them in 2018. So they are taking action a bit quicker here. But realistically, are they going to do anything about it, we'll see. They haven't been very successful in doing anything about social media despite many, many hearings over the years and much - much talking about it.

SIDNER: Many hearings, lots of complaints, lots of worry, but no regulation so to speak. O'SULLIVAN: Yes.

SIDNER: So, here we are with AI where it can code itself. I'm totally freaked out by it, but I have used it. So, I'm trying to understand it.

O'SULLIVAN: You should be freaked out. I mean one thing which does stand out is - and, look, we're probably going to hear some zingers today from lawmakers. You know, we've seen in the past, they didn't -- not always understand social media and ask quite silly questions.

SIDNER: Right, we did.

O'SULLIVAN: We may see that today. But I will just say, even Atman himself has said, and also the head of Google, is the guys who make this technology don't always necessarily know how it works either.


O'SULLIVAN: So that's the scary part.

SIDNER: It's fascinating but it's also terrifying.

Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much for coming.

O'SULLIVAN: Thank you, Sara.


BERMAN: Robots will never replace Donie O'Sullivan.

All right, what a difference a year makes. The news about gas prices that will have you smiling into the holiday weekend.

And then horrible news out of New Mexico. A teen goes on a deadly rampage killing three people at random, using three different weapons, one of them an AR-15-style rifle.