Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

CIA Seeking Russian Spies; Executives From Failed Banks Grilled on Capitol Hill; Biden and McCarthy to Meet on Debt Ceiling; New Mexico Mass Shooting Investigation; Dangers of A.I.?; Russian Barrage Strikes Kyiv. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired May 16, 2023 - 13:00   ET




GOV. ROY COOPER (D-NC): Get one Republican, one Republican to keep a promise, one Republican that has some courage, one Republican who's willing to stand up to his or her party and do the right thing here.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: This quick programming note.

Shimon Prokupecz returns to Uvalde, Texas, where the community is still seeking answers. Families have turned to CNN for the footage the Texas authorities refuse to release, a new episode of "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER," airing this Sunday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Again, thanks for your time on INSIDE POLITICS. We will see you tomorrow.

CNN NEWS CENTRAL starts right now.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: A Russian barrage strikes Kyiv, pounding the capital with missile and drone attacks. But Ukraine says its own attacks are taking a toll on Moscow's war machine and a major counteroffensive could begin at any moment.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: A dire warning, as the CEO of an artificial intelligence company testifies on Capitol Hill quote if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong.

We know that A.I. is going to change the world, but how, how quickly, how much, no one quite knows.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: With the U.S. on the brink of defaulting on its debt, lawmakers are digging in ahead of a key meeting at the White House, those talks happening in just two hours.

We are following these major developing stories and many more, all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SANCHEZ: Amid a barrage of missile and drone attacks in Kyiv overnight, Russia is making a major claim, that it targeted and destroyed one of these, an American-made Patriot air missile defense system.

A U.S. official tells CNN it was likely damaged, but not destroyed. Ukraine is not commenting, but it says that its air defenses worked against the large-scale attack, intercepting all 18 Russian missiles launched, including some of the most advanced in the Kremlin's arsenal.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live for us in Eastern Ukraine. Let's go there now.

Nic, bring us up to speed on what we saw overnight in Kyiv. And if Russia's claim is true about this Patriot missile defense system, put that into context for us. What's the significance?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Russia has all always wanted to target Western equipment coming into Ukraine, and nothing would give it greater satisfaction than to take down the air defenses that Ukraine has put in place around the capital, Kyiv.

They have been very effective. The Patriot missile system is the epitome of the strength of that defense. So Russia wants to target it. Indeed, Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, has this evening said that he believes that this is what the Russians were trying to do, target that defense system.

And that was the analysis last week as well. Russia gave the defense systems, the air defense systems in and around Kyiv an extreme test, six hypersonic missiles fired from aircraft to the north of Kyiv, nine cruise missiles fired from ships in the Black Sea, and three of the -- Russia's large Iskander S-400 missiles fired to the east from Russian territory.

Now, these hypersonic Kinzhal missiles go 10 times the speed of sound. So, put it into context. Ukraine has said that it managed to defeat all the attacks on the city last night. This is a significant accomplishment, given what was fired at it. However, we don't have further details yet on the damage, such as it may be, to the Patriot system.

SANCHEZ: Nic, we also want to get an update from Bakhmut, because the head of the Wagner paramilitary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is making claims on social media that a U.S. citizen was killed in fighting there.

ROBERTSON: We know that the fighting is very intense. We know that the fighting there continues. We know that the death count and casualty count for both Ukrainian and Russian troops in that city is very high.

We know that there are foreign fighters, including American citizens among them, who have joined and supported the Ukrainians. Prigozhin, who has a track record for propaganda and less than full truth, has said that he has the body of an American citizen. It's not clear if that's correct. He has said, though, that this citizen will be returned to the United

States with respect. He said that there will be a coffin, that he will be draped in the American flag. And that is because Prigozhin, he says, respects the fact that this man died fighting, not sleeping in a bed.

SANCHEZ: Yes. U.S. officials have made it clear that citizens, U.S. citizens, that are there are at their own risk. And it is exceedingly difficult to confirm whether they have been killed in battle.

Nic Robertson from Eastern Ukraine, thank you so much for that report -- Brianna


KEILAR: Lawmakers just finished questioning the tech chiefs behind some of the world's most advanced artificial intelligence products.

OpenAI owns the chat bot called ChatGPT. You're probably familiar with it. IBM runs the question-answering machine Watson. This technology could fundamentally improve or it could undermine our elections, our national security, jobs, just to name a few areas.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is following developments from this hearing.

Donie, what's the big takeaway here?


Really, the questions and the discussion we heard over the past few hours up on Capitol Hill just showed you how wide-ranging the implications of this technology can be, from jobs, to election misinformation, to national security issues, even to the music industry, where we have seen famous artists having their voices being dubbed and replicated now using A.I.

And Sam Altman, who is the CEO of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, he was not shying away from both the power and the dangers of this technology. Have a listen.


SAM ALTMAN, CEO, OPENAI: I think, if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong, and we want to be vocal about that. We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening.

But we try to be very clear-eyed about what the downside case is and the work that we have to do to mitigate that.


O'SULLIVAN: Yes, and quite wrong are -- going quite wrong might be a bit of an underestimation there.

I also want to show you the hearing started today in a pretty unconventional way, perhaps a first for Congress. The chair of the committee, Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut, ceded some of his time in his opening statement to an A.I. version of himself. Have a look.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): And now for some introductory remarks.

A.I. SIMULATION: Too often, we have seen what happens when technology outpaces regulation, the unbridled exploitation of personal data, the proliferation of disinformation and the deepening of societal inequalities.

BLUMENTHAL: If you were listening from home, you might have thought that voice was mine and the words from me. But, in fact, that voice was not mine. The words were not mine.


O'SULLIVAN: So, what you heard there was an A.I.-generated version of the senator's voice.

They took an A.I. model, had it listen to some of his speeches on the floor of the Senate and were able to produce that. And not only were the remarks that you heard produced using an A.I. voice. What he actually said in that part of the -- of his opening statement was created using ChatGPT, so really just trying to underline here how powerful and how potentially convincing this technology could be.

And he even brought up the example himself after, say, if his voice were to be used, his A.I. fake voice were to be used in that way to condone Russia invading Ukraine, et cetera, how easily that can be used in a disinformation campaign.

KEILAR: Yes, it is not hard to imagine when you see it there in real life.

Donie O'Sullivan, thank you for that report -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, quite a moment, goodness, in Senate testimony.

Well, another story we're following, in a few hours, police in Farmington, New Mexico, they will give an update on a mass shooting that the police chief there calls purely random. Officials say an 18- year-old gunman killed three people, wounded half-a-dozen others, using multiple weapons in a rampage, all this yesterday morning.


STEVE HEBBE, FARMINGTON, NEW MEXICO, POLICE CHIEF: We are doing the best that we can to piece through and talk with family members of the suspect, piece through what was going on, look at the evidence to see if we can figure out what the motivation was.

But, at this point, it appears to be purely random, that there was no schools, no churches, no individuals targeted.


SCIUTTO: Well, individuals killed.

CNN's Natasha Chen is on the story.

So, Natasha, an 18-year-old gets multiple guns, kills multiple people. How did this happen?


Police say that he was using three weapons, one including an AR-style rifle. The police chief that you just saw there, he also described this whole incident as difficult to understand and devastating, because, as you see, he's talking about the sort of random firing that this person did.

The chief said that he spanned about a quarter-mile through this neighborhood, killing three people, injuring six others, including two law enforcement members, one being a Farmington police officer, another being a state police officer. Both are expected to be OK.


Now, there were definitely terrified neighbors there, including these people who spoke to "Good Morning America" about what those moments were like.


JOLENE ROBLEDO, RESIDENT OF NEW MEXICO: Finding a bullet hole through your daughter's window was just like, my gosh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is the room. Went through right there.

ROBLEDO: It was traumatic to be barricaded in your laundry room with your daughter, who's 1.


CHEN: And there were people who gathered in the community last night for a vigil.

An affiliate reported that they prayed for the families of the victims, of those injured, as well as the family of that 18-year-old gunman, who was shot and killed by law enforcement when they exchanged gunfire. You can just imagine that the chaos and the lack of answers here, and you heard that police chief saying that they're speaking to the family and looking through evidence to figure out what the motive could have been.

SCIUTTO: Well, I appreciate the police chief's surprise, but the fact is, it's not that uncommon circumstances. We report on them so often.

Natasha Chen in Los Angeles, thanks so much -- Boris. SANCHEZ: Still ahead: down to the wire.

President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meeting moments from now on the debt ceiling. So will either of them blink, or will the standoff spark economic disaster?

Plus: recruiting Russian spies. First on CNN, why the CIA just dropped a slick new video calling on Russian citizens to share their secrets with the United States.

And defunding diversity. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis banning state universities from using tax dollars for diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, and he is not stopping there.

CNN NEWS CENTRAL returns in just a moment.



KEILAR: In two hours, round two.

President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy will meet once again to try to avert a potential economic catastrophe. And if you listen to McCarthy, the prospects aren't looking any better this time around. One sticking point that remains, work requirements for social safety net programs.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): So, the public wants it. Both parties want it. The idea that they want to put us into a default because they will not work with on that is ludicrous to me.

This is something that President Biden as senator voted for. This is something that President Bill Clinton signed. Are the Democrats become so progressive, so far to the left, they're changing their policies now?


KEILAR: CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House for us.

Any hope for progress at this meeting, Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, Brianna, when President Biden and those congressional leaders canceled or postponed that meeting on Friday that they were supposed to have, sources told me at the time that it was because the staff talks were making progress and that they felt that this meeting would be more productive if the staff had more time to negotiate.

And so, over the last several days, that is what we have been having, White House aides, congressional negotiators going over the details of a potential spending agreement here. And, really, what they're trying to do is to try and better define the contours of a negotiation. And what we have seen so far emerge is that there seems to be some

agreements about the need for caps on federal spending going forward, positive discussions about clawing back some of those unspent COVID relief funds. But there are still a lot of sticking points.

And one of those sticking points, as you mentioned, is this notion of work requirements and whether or not those could be added to any of these social programs, tightening those -- some of those work requirements. So that's going to be a key point of those negotiations happening today.

In terms of how much progress is going to be made, that is really anyone's guess at this point. I mean, we know that that last meeting between the president and those congressional negotiators didn't go great. All you really had was both sides reiterating their talking points that we have heard in public so many times.

Now, the president over the weekend, he said that he's an optimist as it relates to these talks. You heard the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, kind of downplaying the notion that there has been progress. So we will see where they emerge after this meeting.

But, certainly, in terms of the public pressure, the White House is trying to continue to build that up. We saw a memo from the Office of Management and Budget, the director, Shalanda Young, talking about the fact that these cuts that Republicans are calling for, if they exclude Veterans Affairs, defense, homeland security, that would amount to 30 percent cuts on every other area of the federal budget.

And the president himself is now also taking to Twitter saying: "If America defaults on its debt, our economy would fall into a recession and our nation's global reputation would be damaged." He also warns once again that this is a manufactured crisis. And he urges House Republicans to stop playing brinksmanship, which is, again, a familiar refrain that we have heard from the president.

And, ultimately, they do hope that they can make progress in these meetings today, but the president set to leave for that foreign trip tomorrow. And so, critically, it's going to be important to see how much progress can actually be made before the president heads abroad -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, that certainly adds another element to this pressure here.

Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thank you so much -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, speaking of financial questions, two executives from two of the largest banks to fail in U.S. history getting hard questions on Capitol Hill today, the Senate Banking Committee demanding answers over how exactly Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank both collapsed very quickly and why regulators at those banks missed so many red flags.

The hearing is being closely watched by experts of the financial sector, certainly investors as well. CNN's Matt Egan also keeping a close eye on it.

And, listen, there were failures here, certainly from regulators outside the bank, but also risk management inside the bank. Are the bank executives copping to any of that, taking any responsibility?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, the bank CEOs, they did apologize for these failures.

Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker, he said that he's -- quote -- "truly sorry" for how his company's implosion ended up hurting shareholders, customers and thousands of bank employees.


But Becker also tried to kind of shift the blame here. He pointed to the role of social media fanning the rumor mill. He pointed to decisions made by lower-level employees and also the Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes.

Lawmakers, though, Republicans and Democrats, they were not having it. They really slammed these bank CEOs for bungling the job. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, he said that these banks were -- quote -- "fatally mismanaged."

Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, he told the Silicon Valley Bank CEO that he made a -- quote -- "really stupid bet that went bad." And the bank CEOs, they were also questioned by lawmakers about the tens of millions of dollars in compensation that they made in the years before their banks blew up.

And they were questioned about whether or not they would give any of that compensation back, given that these bank failures are costing the FDIC Insurance Deposit Fund billions of dollars. Listen to this exchange between Senator Elizabeth Warren and the CEO of the Silicon Valley Bank.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): How much of the $40 million are you planning to return? How many times are we going to do this dance?

GREG BECKER, FORMER CEO, SILICON VALLEY BANK: Senator, I promise to cooperate with the regulators as they do a review.

WARREN: Are you planning to return a single nickel to what you cost the fund?

BECKER: Senator, I know there's going to be a process review of compensation. And I...


WARREN: I will take that as a no.

(END VIDEO CLIP) EGAN: Now, Warren went on to champion a bipartisan bill that she has introduced with Republican Josh Hawley that would give regulators new powers to claw back executive compensation from banks that have failed.

Warren said that this would -- quote -- "make it a little less profitable for bank CEOs to blow up the banking system."

We also heard some more details about the sheer scale of these bank runs. The Silicon Valley Bank CEO said that, his bank, customers yanked $42 billion in deposits over the span of just 10 hours. He noted that that amounted to roughly a million dollars every second, a million dollars a second.

Jim, this is just a stunning figure that I think really puts an exclamation point on how fast bank runs can happen...


EGAN: ... given the role of social media fanning rumors, and also given how easy it is today to pull your deposits on mobile banking apps.

SCIUTTO: Listen, not wrong that that was a factor, but those interest rate rises, those were very public. The bank didn't adjust to them quickly enough, and, lo and behold, taxpayer bears the brunt again.

Matt Egan, thanks so much -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead: the CIA making a rare public recruitment pitch to Russians. The message? Be a spy for the United States. Ahead, the new video aimed at recruiting frustrated Russians amid the war in Ukraine.

And did the tough talk work? Migrant encounters at the Southern border appear to be down, not reaching the crush that many feared. We're going to show you what the reality is on the ground.

We will be right back.



SANCHEZ: First on CNN: The CIA is looking for fed-up Russians, the spy agency launching a new dramatic recruitment video online, hoping to convince those disaffected by the war in Ukraine and life under Vladimir Putin to share their secrets.

CNN senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt is covering this story for us.

Alex, this is fascinating. And U.S. officials say that the war in Ukraine has given them an unprecedented opportunity to recruit spies.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They really do think that this is a historic, rare opportunity because of how many disaffected Russians there are, because of this war, because of oppression, living under Putin.

This is not directed at the man on the street. This is directed at Russians who have sensitive jobs, who have access to valuable information. And what the CIA is trying to communicate here is: We know what you're going through. It is easy and safe to get in touch with us with that valuable information.

And, in this video, they're even quoting Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky to get these Russians to contact the CIA. Take a look.


NARRATOR (through translator): Is this the life I dreamed of? Is this the path I chose?

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Questions being asked in Russian in a new dramatic video by the CIA just released to try to recruit more Russian spies by appealing to Russians' patriotism, frustrations, and the oppression they face under the Putin regime.

CIA officials told CNN in an exclusive interview that the war in Ukraine has created an unprecedented opportunity that they want to capitalize on to recruit new Russian assets.

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.

MARQUARDT: In the past year of the war, the CIA has been encouraging Russians with valuable information to contact them quietly, securely, and anonymously through a portal on the Dark Web.

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

MARQUARDT: Instructions have been posted on the CIA's social media accounts.

And this new video, after making an emotional pitch to Russian viewers, details how to do that using the Dark Web browser called Tor.

"You're not powerless," it says. "Contact us in a safe way."