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Don Lemon Tonight

Vladimir Putin Send A Message To The West; President Biden Wants Congress To Approve $33 Billion Aid; Russia Blackmails The West With Nuclear Threat; Two Russian Oligarchs Mysteriously Killed; President Biden Not Bothered By Possible Recession; Rep. Madison Cawthorn In Hot Water. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired April 28, 2022 - 22:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We'll have more from Kyiv tomorrow. The news continues. I want to hand it over to Don and DON LEMON TONIGHT. Don?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, Anderson, things seem pretty quiet there in Kyiv until hours ago. What is the feeling on the ground after the Russian strike?

COOPER: You know, I think it, I mean, it doesn't surprise people like most people are still, even though they are starting to, you know, they're out from shelters, they are walking around during the day. I think they are still very aware that there's a war going on and that things are still very vulnerable and can change very quickly. And we saw that today.

You know, five missiles according to Ukrainian official hitting a build -- one hitting a building causing damage to the first two floors. That building causing a fire. At least 10 people are injured. But certainly, a reminder that the war is still very much -- much going on. Not that really people here need that reminder.

LEMON: Yes. Well, as you remember in Lviv, the air raid sirens go off after a while when nothing would happen, there was sort of this false sense of security that developed. You think that's happening somewhat in Kyiv or is today a reminder of that -- the danger?

COOPER: You know, the air raids sirens haven't really been going on -- going off very often here. But there is that, you know, it is once you hear sirens going off all the time and at a certain point you kind of start to figure out when you should respond and when you shouldn't respond depending on where the strikes might take place.

But this I think certainly, you know, was a wakeup call to anybody who was starting to get complacent and just, you know, an important reminder of the danger that still is very close.

LEMON: Anderson Cooper, thanks a lot. We'll see you tomorrow. Have a good one. This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.

Vladmir Putin's unprovoked war started nine weeks ago tonight. Nine weeks of depravity. And now, Russia apparently sending a message to the west with that attack on Kyiv tonight right after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's the meeting with the U.N. secretary generals -- general. Watch.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Today, immediately after the end of our talks in Kyiv, Russian missiles flew into the city. Five missiles. This says a lot about Russia's true attitude to global institutions, about the Russian leadership's efforts to humiliate the U.N. and everything that the organization represents. And therefore, requires an appropriate powerful response.


LEMON: At least 10 people were injured. Ukraine's foreign minister calls the strikes a heinous act of barbarism. We're going to go live to Kyiv in just a moment.

That, as Russia intensifies its attacks in the east and in the south, hitting that steel plant in Mariupol still sheltering hundreds of desperate people, hitting it with the heaviest Russian air strikes, yet more than 50 times in a row.

The mayor of Mariupol calling the conditions medieval for some 100,000 people still living in the city.

Local authorities warning an almost unbelievably horrible situation could get even worse, as the danger of epidemics with fears that there are thousands of bodies still buried in the rubble.

That, as the President of the United States Joe Biden asks Congress for a massive $33 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, more than twice as much as the aid package Congress approved last month. The president acknowledging the price tag is not cheap but saying, caving to aggression would be more costly.

And listen to this warning, it's about Russia saber rattling after the foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov said that the nuclear threat, quote, "the danger is serious, it is real, it cannot be underestimated."


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No one should be making idle comments about the use of nuclear weapons or the possibility of the use of that. It's irresponsible.


LEMON: Top U.S. officials lining up behind the president and warning Russia its nuclear rhetoric is dangerous. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's dangerous. And any kind of rhetoric like that, you know, I think is unhelpful. We said over and over again that a nuclear war cannot be won by either side. And so, I think saber rattling and rhetoric like that is just unhelpful.

MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Well, any time a senior leader of a nation state starts rattling a nuclear saber, then everyone takes it seriously. And it is completely irresponsible for any senior leader to be talking like that in today's world.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: This is not the first time since this invasion that Russia has used that kind of escalatory rhetoric. It's obviously unhelpful and not constructive. And certainly, it's not indicative of what a responsible nuclear power ought to be doing in the public sphere, talking about the potential threat of nuclear war.


LEMON: Matt Rivers begins the reporting part of our story tonight live for us from Kyiv. Matt, hello to you. A brazen attack by the Russians on Kyiv tonight while the U.N. secretary general was there. The latest on the ground, please.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so we heard this explosion and we saw the smoke from our hotel here in Kyiv which means that this was not very far away from really the central part of Kyiv, Don. This is not something we have seen in the city for a while now. Smoke like that rising from a very central part of the city.

At least 10 people were injured. Once again, as a Russian missile hit not a military target or at least not hitting a building where residents were. And this is the kind of thing ordinary people being affected that we've seen from Russia time and again since this war began.

This was an apartment complex. It was damaged. There was fire as a result of that. We saw someone or something being carried off in a stretcher. So once again Russia hitting a civilian target here in Kyiv.

And I think it's really important to underline the fact that the U.N. secretary general was just in Moscow. The point of that trip and then coming here to Kyiv was to try and use the power of the United Nations to open up desperately needed humanitarian corridors in this country, Don.

And the Russians knew that he was here and yet they still go ahead with the cruise missile strikes. So, if you had any hopes that the Russians were taking the visit seriously, that perhaps progress was being made for those corridors. I think that hope might be misplaced at this point. LEMON: You know, Matt, the U.S. is assessing that Russian forces are

making some progress in the east. What are you hearing about fighting on the front lines?

RIVERS: Yes, so we got a briefing from a senior U.S. defense official who did acknowledge that Russia was making progress in the east. This is of course the focus point of their new campaign trying to secure the Donbas region but not making a lot of progress. Calling it incremental at best with this U.S. defense official saying that Russian forces are taking, quote, "several kilometers or so on any given day just because they don't want to run out too far ahead of their logistics and sustainment lines."

These were problems that we saw Russia have here in the northern part of the country during their failed attempts to take the capital city of Kyiv where I am, and it does appear that some of the issues continue, Don.

Also, we're hearing from this official that there's low morale because Russia is using conscripts. People who are drafted into the army who are being fed Russian state propaganda before they get here and when they arrive, they see the real situation on the ground. And according to this official, that's really hurting troop morale in the east. But Russia does continue to make some progress taking a few towns in the east over the past few days.

LEMON: So, let's talk about Russia occupying the southern city of Kherson for weeks but they are making moves to stamp out Ukrainian identity there. What do you know about that, Matt?

RIVERS: Yes. Yes. This could be some kind of foreshadowing if Russia were to take other large sections of Ukraine. This is a city, Kherson, that Russia took relatively early in the war. It's in the southern part of the country.

And what we've heard recently is that Russia wants to, basically stage what would be a fake referendum. To try and give some sort of legitimacy to their occupation of that city by having a fake vote that would essentially say, look, all the people who live in the city want to be Russian citizens. Everyone would not believe the results of that vote but that is something that they would likely go ahead within the coming days and weeks.

We're also hearing that they have replaced all democratically elected Ukrainian officials with government backed officials. They are even talking about replacing the Ukrainian currency there with the Russian ruble over the coming days, and telling me they have taken all Ukrainian television channels off the air. Channels that largely tell the truth about this war and they've replaced them with Russian channels that we know just spread propaganda.

LEMON: Matt Rivers, I appreciate the reporting from Kyiv tonight live for us. Thank you very much.

I want to bring in now CNN military analyst, retired general Wesley Clark, he is the former NATO supreme allied commander. General, good evening. Good to see you and to get your perspective this evening. Russia striking Kyiv with five missiles, the first time in five weeks while the U.N. secretary general is visiting. Is that aggression intentional message?

WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think it's definitely intentional. It's an effort to terrorize the people in Kyiv and more importantly show the government in Kyiv that it's isolated, that it's not going to help -- getting help from outside from the United Nations. It is, as President Zelenskyy said, it's an insult to the United Nations. It's a deliberate slap at the U.N. secretary general. But it's what the U.N. secretary general had said they were there for. War is going to go as long as Mr. Putin wants it to go on.


LEMON: General, look, this is a big ask from the president, $33 billion dollars, this aid package for Ukraine, that would include more weapons like artillery, armored vehicles, anti-air and anti-armor capabilities. How do you think this is going to impact the fight?

CLARK: I think we got do get that material in there for the fight. The humanitarian aid, the economic assistance sure that's important, and they need it. But most importantly, they need the military assistance. The material has been announced over the last week or two. Most of that is not there yet. It's got to get in there.

The Ukrainians have got on the Donbas front, they've got about 120- kilometer gap that they are holding open between the north and south arms of that double envelopment. Now, the Russians are only moving slowly, but, that will or could pick up momentum. And that 120- kilometer gap could be closed relatively quickly if there is a mistake or serious losses by the Ukrainians.

They are outnumbered over there. They are being outgunned by Russian artillery. The Russians are learning lessons from their mistakes, previously. They're just taking it slow, because they realize that they cannot fight the Ukrainians man for man, but if they can locate them, if they can fix them, they can bring an artillery shell that are not discriminating. They'll kill anybody out there. And they've got more artillery and more ammunition than the Ukrainians. So, this is a matter of high concern.

LEMON: The U.S. was unwilling to help provide planes when the fighting centered around Kyiv. Now the fight is an open battlefield. At this stage, would more war planes help Ukraine beat back Russia and should that be a consideration at this point?

CLARK: Well, I think Ukraine has to do everything it can do to disrupt Russian command and control and logistic, wherever that is. But what we're faced with here is not only the battle itself but also the potential ending of the conflict. So, it's important Ukraine not give up this territory east of the Dnipro River in the so-called Donbas.

If they do, then getting it back through negotiations will be extremely difficult. Really, Don, the only way this can end in a satisfactory manner for the Ukrainians is if they get enough material from the west and fight strongly enough to push the Russian forces completely out of Ukraine, restore their territorial integrity and then let Russia ask for negotiation.

That's the only way we're going to get the satisfactory resolution of this. Once the fighting stops, if Russia hasn't given up its aims, it's just going to rearm and push forward again at the earliest opportunity.

LEMON: Let's talk more about what Russia is doing. Because U.S. and NATO officials say that Russia is making, General, only, quote, "slow and uneven progress in the east." But Ukraine is admitting that they have lost several towns in that area. Officials also saying that the attacks are looking better coordinated now. Does Russia have the leadership, the training, the troops to adapt and recover from previous losses?

CLARK: Given enough time and enough push from behind, they will make progress. They are still mostly road bound in the east despite the talk about the wide-open areas and so forth. The ground is still soft. There's been rain. It's difficult for the Russian heavy armor to get off the roads.

But they are moving in parallel columns on roads. They are moving slowly. They are moving with artillery support. When they encounter resistance, they bring in the firepower. So, there is no mud slapdash to try to run through the Ukrainian lines, which is what they've tried to do north of Kyiv.

And as they have practice day by day, moving forward, calling artillery fire and locating enemy positions, strengthening their communications, working their logistics, yes, practice makes perfect. So, they are going to get better, if the Ukrainians can't stop it and knock them off.

LEMON: General Clark, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

CLARK: Thank you.

LEMON: Vladimir Putin's threats are bigger than just Ukraine. Nuclear saber-rattling and tonight missile strikes on Kyiv after the U.N. secretary general's meeting with President Zelenskyy. How does the world respond? Well, Fareed Zakaria is here next. I'm going to ask him.



LEMON: Tonight, the first time weeks -- for the first time in weeks, missiles striking Kyiv. Ukraine's President Zelenskyy saying Russia launched the attack just after the meeting with the U.N. secretary general, who is still inside the city.

Russia may be flexing its military muscles, but Ukraine is not backing down, neither is President Joe Biden, who is seeking billions of dollars more in aid for Ukraine and saying that U.S. will not put up with Russia's intimidation or blackmail.

A lot to talk about tonight with Fareed Zakaria, he's the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS.

Fareed, good to see you. Thank you very much for doing this.

So, listen, you have Putin now making the military, threats threatening economic blackmail, bombing Kyiv while Antonio Guterres is there, the U.N. secretary general. Is it becoming clearer by the day that the whole way the west thinks about global security and stability has got, really has to fundamentally change?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Yes, absolutely. Look, we had a 30-year holiday from history. We thought that we were moving into a world in which these kinds of things were unthinkable. You know, Europe in many ways the whole European project is built on the idea of being in a kind of world beyond war.

And the European Union has done amazing things but the reality is that's not the world Vladmir Putin is in. That's not the world that Russia currently is in. And the result is what we're seeing is the return of great power politics in the world after a 30-year holiday. That is a seismic event.


This is a much bigger deal than 9/11. Because 9/11 was a band of thugs. All governments of the world were against them. Eventually, they were able to crush those kinds of terrorists. Here what you have is the most powerful nuclear power in the world. He's threatening to use that strength. Even to use nuclear weapons to tear up the rules of the road that have governed international relations since 1945. No change of border by force. Now massive acquisitions of territory.

All these rules have been thrown out of the window. So, we really, I mean, I'm glad you put it that way, because we really have to recognize we are in a new world. And I think the Biden administration is doing exactly the right thing in recognizing the scale of the problem, recognizing the scale of the -- of the, you know, the stakes involve.

We have taken sides now on this. I think we're on the right side. We cannot afford to lose. If that means Ukraine needs 10 20, 30, $33 billion more in aid, well, the alternative is that Vladimir Putin wins, the western democracies lose.

LEMON: An interesting predicament for the world. Listen, President Biden saying today that no one should be making idle threats about nuclear weapons. He called it irresponsible. I want you to listen to what the U.S. ambassador to Moscow said today on CNN.


JOHN SULLIVAN, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: We've heard that rhetoric. We're prepared, we're prepared to deter nuclear aggression against the United States as we have been for decades back into time with the Soviet Union. We won't succumb to nuclear blackmail but we won't tolerate nuclear saber rattling and nuclear brinkmanship.


LEMON: Listen, the language appears to be tougher to me, I'm not sure if that's your assessment, but does all this tough talk mean that the U.S. might take stronger action in the future, Fareed?

ZARAKIA: I think the U.S. is finally responding correctly to this kind of nuclear saber rattling on the Russian side. Look, the nature of nuclear deterrence is, they need to be just as worried and just as deterred as we are. Yes, they have a lot of nuclear weapons. So does the United States.

In fact, the Soviet Union in the old days, and Russia even under Putin, the doctrine has never been for Russia to go to engage in what is called the force use of the nuclear weapons. That's partly because the Russians always thought they had such a big army, that they would win conventional, which is why was the U.S. that worried about having to station short range nuclear missiles in Europe, and things like that.

I think the saber-rattling from Putin is a sign of weakness. I think the fact that he's demanding that Poland and Bulgaria pay for their oil in rubles in violation of the contracts, and that he's threatening not to send them their natural gas due to them, is all a sign of weakness.

He's feeling the pressure. I think that the Russians really thought this was going to go very differently and was going to be -- it was going to be over much sooner. The longer this takes, the greater the grind of the sanctions, the greater, most importantly, of the capacity of the Ukrainians to fight back using western arms, the Russians realize that their -- they don't have as many options as they thought they did.

So, there, you know, because Putin doesn't care about any of these norms, he is escalating, but you know, we should remind Vladimir Putin, the U.S. can escalate too. And if we need to be deterred by Russian nuclear weapons, Russia needs to be deterred by American nuclear weapons.

LEMON: Right on. We've heard the blackmail. Blackmail keeps coming up. Right? Russia keeps claiming blackmail. President Zelenskyy said that Putin is using nuclear war to blackmail the world. At least what they're saying Russia is trying to blackmail everyone. The head of the European Union said cutting off gas to some European countries was blackmail. How does the world fight back against it?

ZAKARIA: Look, you're asking me a very big question. I think what we have to recognize is there has to be a much more concerted effort to deprive Putin of the money that is funding his war machine. I'm glad we're now thinking about and I hope Congress passes $33 billion in aid to Ukraine. But just keep in mind, we are sending 10 times that amount. About $330

billion to Vladmir Putin every year in terms of oil and natural gas revenues and coal revenues. So, there's still a long way to go in terms of really making him feel the pressure.

And I think with Putin, the only thing he really understands is force. He has to suffer battlefield losses in the Donbas. He has to feel like his revenues are declining, that he's getting squeezed. That's the only way. And it means a larger coalition.


It's very important to try to get countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE more on board. It's important to try to get India and Indonesia and South Africa on board. Not everyone is going to do everything.

Look, even the west continues to buy oil and gas from Russia. But to the extent there can be a greater sense of sanctions, I think most of the world agrees that what Russia did was wrong. Most of the world agrees that it would be incredibly destabilizing to live in a world in which the strong can do what they can, and small nations have to just suffer it and green beret.

That is not a world that I think India wants to live in, sitting right next to China. It's not a world that South Africa wants to live in. So, we have to make this case persuasively, but just the only thing that matters at the end of the day is hard power, military power, economic power.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, I think the way you put it earlier was right on. Either there's a western democracy, or you don't give the money to Ukraine. Right? That's the choice that we're in right now. That's the situation we face.


LEMON: Thank you.

ZAKARIA: We've joined the fight. The question now is only, who will win?

LEMON: Yes. Thanks, Fareed. I appreciate it.

Russian oligarchs found dead with their families. Was it suicide or was it something else? That's next.



LEMON: Two Russian oligarchs and members of their families found dead in a matter of days. And one former bank executive who fled Russia to fight with Ukraine is questioning one of those mysterious deaths. Telling CNN that he doesn't believe it was a murder/suicide as Russia claims. Listen.


IGOR VOLOBUEV, FORMER GAZPROMBANK V.P. LEFT RUSSIA FOR UKRAINE (through translator): I think he knew something and he must have posed some sort of risk. His job was to deal with private banking. That means dealing with VIP clients. He was in charge of very large amounts of money. So, did he kill himself? I don't think so. I think he knew something and that he posed some sort of risk.


LEMON: So, CNN's Tom Foreman has the details on the suspicious deaths. Tom, what do we know?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don. At least two Russian oligarchs have died in mysterious circumstances in just the past couple of weeks. Starting with Vladislav Avayev who died in his high- rise Moscow apartment, with his wife and his daughter all from gunshot wounds, we are told.

Russian authorities are painting this as a murder/suicide situation. But we don't know. They are often not transparent about what really happened. And we know that when people fall outside the Putin circle, sometimes, things seem to happen to them in very mysterious circumstances.

We might get better answers from Sergey Protosenya, he also who came from the gas industry in Moscow, where a lot of money has flown to these oligarchs out there. He also died with his wife and daughter in a home there in Spain. The Spanish authorities are investigating this.

Probably, more likely that we'll get transparency and real answers as this moves forward. All of this is happening against the background of the Biden administration really trying to step up pressure here and streamline the process of going after these sanctioned Russians through the KleptoCapture task force.

What they want to do is more quickly seize high value assets like this 255-foot yacht that was grabbed earlier this month worth about $90 million. And what's the plan? They want to much more clearly and quickly sell these assets off, then take that money and turn it around and use it to fund the Ukrainian resistance and the rebuilding of the very country that Putin has invaded, and in large part, is trying to destroy. Don?

LEMON: Tom Foreman, thanks as always.

So, let's talk more about those mysterious oligarch deaths with a former senior CIA operations officer, Douglas London. Douglas, hello to you, once again, welcome. Thank you so much for doing this.

At least two oligarchs and their family members dead all under mysterious circumstances. What is going on?

DOUGLAS LONDON, FORMER SENIOR CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: Good evening, Don. You can't put things like this past Putin, but at the same time, it's not consistent with his modus operandi. Putin has not hesitated to go after his opponents. Alexei Navalny who we spoke about recently was a target of Novichok poisoning. The Skripals, this was a former KGB defector who is residing in the United Kingdom, they tried to poison him as well. And one of his former deputies, Litvinenko, they used polonium on him.

Putin usually want to send a message. When he wants somebody dead, he wants the message to other opponents. Going after these people as they have under, perhaps murder/suicide, it would be very complex operation. It takes time to plan an operation like this. You have to case the target, there's usually one team that does that, and then you bring in another team that actually executes the operation.

To do this once, after some time, perhaps. But multiple incidents make it less likely. You know, for what it's worth, the suicide is quite prevalent in Russia. It's actually the third highest country and more prevalent among men than women in Russia. And these executives were all associated with gas, energy and banking industry, all of which have been hit hard by sanctions.


LEMON: Douglas, how the U.S. and other western officials figure out what happened here?

LONDON: Well, as Tom Foreman said, certainly in the case of Spain is going to have more transparency. There will be a trail if there was something untoward, if there was activity that would suggest outside parties were involved. And certainly, the forensics could tell.

We clearly have much have less visibility within Russia, unless somebody pops up on social media or starts leaking from the inside. But things like this so often breakdown. But then you're also subject to the conspiracy theories which often take a life of their own.

LEMON: So is there value in the U.S. in keeping these former Putin allies safe. I mean, could they provide any kind of useful information?

LONDON: Most of the oligarchs have left the country or any form of opposition. Their information is likely historical in nature and they likely lack any true influence over -- over Putin. What you really want are to find those still on the inside. And there are a number of them. And they are being affected by sanctions as well.

There are those who came up the ranks of Putin in the KGB, who served in prominent positions, who still exercise influence. They also have great contacts throughout the national security apparatus within Russia. Those are the ones who not only know what's going on, who can perhaps influence Putin if they choose to, but also who could maybe make a change there without Putin's consent and at least tell us what the steps and possibilities might be.

LEMON: So, Doug, you saw Tom's report there, reported on President Biden's plans to use the money made from seized oligarch's assets to go to Ukraine. How will that sound to the top level of Putin's inner circle? LONDON: It could go one of two ways. It can either put more fears

into those that are losing vast sums of money that could mean ruin in bankruptcy for them, but then Putin could turn around and turn them into heroes.

So, I think it's reasonable to try to continue to do everything we can to pressure these people, to detach Putin from his support and to try to move on the elites there who actually do hold a lot of power and certainly a lot of money. But I think we also have to be aware that while emotionally satisfying, there might be second and third consequences for us down the line if we do this extrajudicially for our own interests overseas.

LEMON: Thank you, Douglas. I appreciate it.

LONDON: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: The U.S. economy shrinking for the first time since early in pandemic as one big bank warns of a major recession. Is the risk real? We'll break it down after this.



LEMON: There are new concerns about the health of our economy as data shows overall U.S. economic performance at its worse since the early days of the pandemic. The U.S. economy unexpectedly shrinking by 1.4 percent between January and March. And that is really raising concerns about potential recession as Americans struggle with rising prices at the gas pump and at the grocery store.

I want to discuss now with CNN's Catherine Rampell, she is our economic commentator and opinion columnist at the Washington Post. Good to see you in person.


LEMON: It has been a minute here. So, let's talk about the president. He is responding to this question about whether he is worried about a recession. Here he is.


Well, I'm not concerned about a recession. I mean, you're always concerned about recession but the GDP, you know, fell to 1.4 percent. But here's the deal. We're also at last quarter consumer spending and business investment and residential investment increased at significant rates both per leisure, as well as products.


LEMON: He's not concerned. Should we be concerned?

RAMPELL: I'm more concerned than I was. I don't think a recession is inevitable but I think the risk of a downturn have risen significantly in the past few months. Yes. Yes. I mean, we've just gotten very unlucky. We kind of needed everything to go right. We needed the economy to reopen, factories to reopen, supply chains to unwind, people to go back to work and then not have anything else bad happen.

And instead, it's been one thing after another. Right? We had this lockdown, these COVID lockdowns in China. We had the war in Ukraine which is obviously horrendous for other reasons, including the loss of life. But beyond those more immediate, you know, those immediate issues, there is also a lot of complications that has added to food prices around the world.

LEMON: Yes. This is what you write. You are basically quoting yourself in your Washington Post piece, where you said to avoid recession, everything needed to go right. And you said it didn't, it hasn't gone right. And you say that some of the consequences for what has happened has not even been felt yet. What are those consequences? What could that be?

RAMPELL: Well, it's partly the COVID lockdowns in China. You know, that has led to shut downs of some factories. We're going to have shortages of all sorts of products that are made in China, electronics, cars, things like that. We are seeing some of that so far.

The bigger looming question has to do with food because everybody -- well, everybody knows I think by now that Ukraine and Russia produce a lot of wheat and corn. And that's driving up those food prices. There has also been disruption to the fertilizer market.

So, if you are a Brazilian farmer, and you get fertilizer from Russia, that market has been disrupted. Prices have gone way up. There are a number of other shocks that have been coming down the pike, things like the avian flu is driving up the egg prices. We're going to see more of that in the months ahead.

A number of other kinds of complications relating to disruptions in supply chains for all sorts of reasons. You know, at the Texas border, there was this deliberate political theater by the governor there that has affected things.

So, it's like, again, it's one thing after another. We really needed to be very lucky. t is very lucky. We needed for things to normalize, and to just not have any unwelcome surprises. And instead, we have had unwelcome surprise after unwelcome surprise.


LEMON: Yes. You say, look, you are more concerned than you have been before. But I mean, many economists they aren't panic about -- panicking about this contraction in the economy. They say that there are bright spots. Bright spots include, as the president mentioned, spending, as the president mentioned. Could these positive trends keep going to help avert a recession down the line?

RAMPELL: Well, I hope so. I certainly hope so. Like I said, I don't think it's inevitable that we'll have a recession. The other big question mark looming over all of this that I haven't mentioned that I should have is the Fed. So, it's the Fed's job to get inflation under control. And its main tool for doing that is raising interest rates.

But it's really tricky and difficult problem to solve. Because if they want to raise interest just enough to dampen demand to get prices down a little but not enough to tip us into a recession. And that goldilocks scenario almost never happens.

Historically, when the Feds has raised interest rates to get inflation down, it has accidentally killed the economy. And because inflation has gotten so much worse recently, that means the Fed is kind of behind the eight ball. They have to be much more aggressive. The odds that they will accidentally tip the economy into recession has gone up.

LEMON: I will ask you or say what I've been saying to just the economists who come on the show and everyone who talks about this. Especially after COVID or during the pandemic, do we really have the right mechanisms or levers to measure the economy. What is healthy? What is not healthy in the economy.

Because basically we're in a once in a lifetime pandemic and now -- quite frankly, now a wartime economy. How do you measure that? What do you with that?

RAMPELL: Well, it's always challenging. Right? All of our metrics are imperfect. Even in normal times when you don't have a once in a century pandemic GDP is kind of a funky way to try to measure the health of the economy. It has lots of imperfections that have been, you know, documented, again, well before we had COVID.

The challenge here is partly that consumers, voters care about a lot of the things that are bad, and seem to care less about the metrics that are good. Right? So, job growth has been really strong. Unemployment has been way lower than anybody predict -- predicted like a year ago. And the White House is frustrated that we are not talking about that.

And I try to acknowledge that these are good things in the economy. Right? But if you look at consumer sentiment, if you ask a regular voter, or regular member of the public, do they care about that? They are talking about their pocketbook. They are like --


LEMON: They are going to say gas prices are high.

RAMPELL: Gas prices are high --

LEMON: Egg prices are going up.


LEMON: How that --

RAMPELL: Grocery prices. And I feel poor. Yes. LEMON: Right. Interest rates are higher.

RAMPELL: Right. It's -- our mortgage is more expensive than it used to be.

LEMON: Right.

RAMPELL: So, it's great that there are jobs to be had but if jobs aren't keeping up with the cost of living, so what? So, I don't know that there is a perfect metric out there that captures all of those complicated things happening in the economy. At some level, you have to listen to what some voters say that they care about. It's, you know, it's not just the hard numbers on the page.

LEMON: Right.

RAMPELL: It's what do they say that they're paying attention to? Do they feel like their finances are doing well? You can tell them it's not so helpful. I think to tell them, you shouldn't complain so much. You know, the economy is good look at -- look at job market. If people say, yes, but, you know, I'm going to the grocery store, and everything is more expensive, and I feel poor. I think it's going to come off as a little bit tone deaf.

LEMON: Thank you, Catherine.

RAMPELL: Thank you.

LEMON: Good seeing you. Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn in hot water over a slew of recent missteps. The latest attempt to bring a loaded pistol through airport security for the second time, and there is a whole lot more.



LEMON: Freshman Congressman Madison Cawthorn, a North Carolina Republican facing a serious primary challenge next month, in fact, a slew of Republican candidates are lining up trying to stop him from getting a second term. Cawthorn's antics and the negative headlines that come with them have angered Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and his home state, including getting stopped this week at an airport with a loaded pistol.

More tonight from CNN's Dianne Gallagher.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): So, flying home from D.C.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Congressman Madison Cawthorn on Instagram, appearing to make light of his latest criminal charge.

CAWTHORN: Just went through TSA, no major alarms, nothing bad happened. GALLAGHER: This week, for the second time since taking office just

over a year ago, Cawthorn was stopped from carrying a gun through airport security. The TSA confirming to CNN that Tuesday morning, agents at Charlotte Douglas International Airport detected this loaded pistol at a check point. Charlotte police seized the handgun and cited the freshman congressman who they said was cooperative with a misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon on city property.

He could also face up to nearly $14,000 in TSA fines as a repeat offender. Cawthorn called it a, quote, "flat-out mistake" in his Instagram caption.

CAWTHORN: Fly safe. Make sure you don't have a gun in your bag.

GALLAGHER: The Republican representative was not charged in February 2021 when Ashville regional airport agents found a different gun in his carry-on bag, Cawthorn's team told the Ashville Citizen Times last year that he brought the gun by mistake.

His run-ins with law enforcement not limited to air travel, Cawthorn set to appear before a judge in May on charges of driving with a revoked license. Dash cam video obtained by a coalition of North Carolina news organizations shows the March 3rdstop for driving left of center and an expired tag where a trooper tells the youngest member of Congress --

UNKNOWN: Your license has a pickup order on it.


GALLAGHER: -- that his license is revoked, though the reason is unclear. But the record that has Republicans on the Hill riled up isn't his legal one, it's his pattern of controversial comments.


GALLAGHER: Like calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a thug.

CAWTHORN: Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a thug. Remember the Ukrainian government is incredibly corrupt and is incredibly evil.

GALLAGHER: And claiming he's been invited to cocaine-fueled orgies in D.C.

CAWTHORN: Hey, we're going to have kind of a sexual get together at one of our homes, you should come. I'm like, what did you just ask me to come to? And then you realize they're asking to come to an orgy and then you watch them doing it, I'll keep cocaine right in front of you.

GALLAGHER: That landed him a closed-door meeting with party leadership.

MCCARTHY: I just told him that he's lost my trust, and he's going to have to earn it back. I laid out everything that I find is unbecoming.

GALLAGHER: Members of his own party are seeking to stop him from getting a second term.

CARTHORN: We're starting to see this coordinated drip campaign.

GALLAGHER: Next month's primary has a crowded field of GOP candidates backed by state Republicans.

UNKNOWN: They call it Instagram famous, famous for what they post online.

GALLAGHER: And they're leaving heavily on Cawthorn's slate of scandals.


GALLAGHER: So what does this all really mean for the May 17th primary? Well, look, North Carolina's 11th district is very red. Madison Cawthorn had plenty of baggage when they elected him the first time. But he's not a newcomer anymore, there are seven Republicans running to replace him. And that is where most of the state GOP support is concentrated.

U.S. Senator Tom Tillis is actively campaigning for one of his challengers. To win the primary without a runoff, you have to get 30 percent plus one. Now, look, May 17th, Don, sounds like it's a long way away, but early in-person voting in North Carolina started today.

LEMON: All right, Dianne, thank you for that. Serious damage tonight in the Capitol of Ukraine where missiles hit a 25-story residential building. We're live on the ground after this.