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Storm Of Diplomatic Activity After Missile Kills Two In Poland; Donald Trump Announces 2024 Presidential Candidacy; Scott Challenging McConnell To Be Senate GOP Leader. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 16, 2022 - 02:00   ET





ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (on camera): Hello, and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, we are following two major stories this hour.

CHURCH (voice over): A Russian-made missile has killed two people in Poland, prompting an emergency meeting of world leaders at the G20 summit in Indonesia.

Russia denies it fired the projectile, but this could be a significant turning point in the war in Ukraine.

Plus, Donald Trump wants to return to the White House. America First, drain the swamp, build the wall. We will have the latest on his newly announced 2024 candidacy.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and my fellow citizens. America is comeback starts right now.



CHURCH (on camera): We begin with the deadly missile explosion in Poland, Tuesday afternoon

CHURCH (voice over): Polish officials say the missile fell in a village about six and a half kilometers or four miles west of the border with Ukraine.

Here is what we know. Two people were killed in that blast. It's unclear where the missile was fired from and why it fell on Poland. But officials say it was Russian-made. Russia has denied responsibility and says it had no targets in the area.

An investigation is already underway. Poland has raised its military alert status and summon the Russian ambassador for an explanation.

It's also considering invoking NATO's Article 4, which would trigger talks with the alliance's decision making body.

CHURCH (on camera): The deadly blast in Poland also set off a storm of diplomatic activity. In the coming hours, NATO will hold an emergency meeting in Brussels.

CHURCH (voice over): U.S. President Joe Biden met with G7 and NATO leaders before he left the G20 summit in Indonesia.

The group released a statement offering their full support to Poland, and promising to stay in close touch regarding next steps. Mr. Biden strike a cautious tone while speaking with reporters. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to make sure we figure out exactly what happened. It's unlikely in the minds of the trajectory that it was fired from Russia, but we'll see.


CHURCH (on camera): And we've got reporters stationed around the globe covering all the angles. White House reporter Kevin Liptak is in Bali, Indonesia. And correspondent Nina dos Santos joins us live from London. Welcome to you both.

So, Kevin, let's start with you. President Biden has been holding emergency meetings with world leaders in Bali on this Russian-made missile falling on NATO ally, Poland. What more are you learning about what has come out of those talks so far?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (on camera): Well, the most urgent task for the president for these world leaders tonight is to try and figure out where this missile came from.

Because Poland is a member of NATO, because of that Article 5 collective defense treaty, the implications are extremely high. That we do know that the NATO ambassadors are meeting later today under what's known as Article 4. That's a collective conference, collective talking about what might come next.

But certainly these leaders will want to figure out very quickly what happened here.

And you did hear President Biden come out of these talks that he was holding on the sidelines of the G20 summit here in Bali. And he was very cautious about what he said. He said, he didn't want to say anything definitive before all of the evidence came in. But he said that it was unlikely that this missile would have been fired from Russia. And we do know that both Russia and Ukraine use Russian made munitions as this war has proceeded. So, this will be something that the president will be looking at as he's flying back to Washington. He just got on his plane. It's about a 24 hour flight back home. He did speak with the Polish president earlier today.


They -- the secretary of state, the national security adviser, all sort of convenient around the president, as he was talking to President Duda to sort of determine some of the effects from the ground there.

He also spoke to the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, trying to sort of arrange what their message will be, make sure that they are on the same page.

And so, the president, as he leaves this G20 summit, I think he will feel fairly good about where things stand when it comes to the war in Ukraine and the war in Russia. The leaders have put out a statement saying that most of the countries condemned that war. But obviously, this is a major new wrinkle in this month's long conflict that the president will be dealing with in the days and hours ahead. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Right. And Nina, Russia is denying it fired this missile into Poland, or what is the latest on Russia's reaction?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Rosemary, the latest comes from the Russian Federation's representative to the United Nations that essentially has reiterated Moscow's earlier denial of having any involvement in this missile incident on Polish territory.

DOS SANTOS (voice over): The Russian representative to the U.N. said earlier in a statement that this was an attempt to provoke a direct military clash between NATO and Russia.

And they've also made it clear that this issue is likely to dominate and certainly be brought up by Russia as well at the U.N. Security Council meeting that will be taking place in New York later on today.

But, of course, before that U.N. Security Council meeting that will take place in a few hours from now, we're going to have the meeting that will take place in Brussels with those members of NATO that Kevin was talking about collectively meeting to discuss where to proceed from here, given the gravity --

DOS SANTOS (on camera): The potential hypothetical gravity of this situation, but also the fact that, as the Dutch prime minister pointed out earlier on, none of this would have happened if there wasn't an invasion of Ukraine in the first place.

So, the confusion, as Kevin was saying arises, largely because obviously, as post-Soviet states, both Ukraine and Russia use Russian made missiles, in particular, an S-300 missile and missile defense system. And the question is whether or not this might have been a missile that might have drifted over the border into NATO territory. That will be the type of thing that they'll be discussing.

What might help to firm up exactly where this missile came from, and, by the way, you heard, obviously, the U.S. president address reporters saying that early indications appear, it may have come not from Russia, but indeed from Ukraine.

Although he was cautious in his language, there is a caveat that is that NATO appears to have been monitoring all of these missiles, because, of course, Ukraine was being hit by a barrage of Russian missiles yesterday.

So, they have apparently some intelligence on where this missile came from. But, as yet, they haven't been clear on exactly what they know, just now. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Kevin. Liptak, Nina dos Santos, many thanks to you both. Appreciate it.

We'll just ahead in the show, in about 15 minutes, in fact, I will speak with an advisor to Ukraine's minister of defense. So, keep it right here on CNN.



CHURCH: Donald Trump is hoping to pull off a political comeback that's only been done once before in U.S. history, winning non-consecutive terms as president.

Trump announced his 2024 White House bid, Tuesday night in Florida. He railed against President Joe Biden and the "radical Democrats", blaming them for crime, inflation, the war in Ukraine, and a host of other problems.

And in true-Trumpian fashion, he promised he would fix it.

TRUMP: You can't stay quiet any longer. You're angry about what's happening to our country. Our country is being destroyed before your very eyes.

This will not be my campaign. This will be our campaign all together.


CHURCH: Well, joining me now from Los Angeles, Democratic strategist and Occidental College Professor Caroline Heldman. And from Washington, CNN political commentator and former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent. Good to see you both.



CHURCH: So, the big political story, of course, Donald Trump announcing a very early bid for president in 2024, his third attempt, and it comes after his big losses in the midterm elections.

And when Republicans and party donors are pointing the finger of blame at Trump for the GOP's abysmal showing. Charlie, what will likely happen now with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Mike Pence, of course, also, both of them waiting in the wings along with others.

DENT: Well, first, I think most Republicans really are very upset about president's announcement because there's a Georgia runoff going on.


Many feel that his announcement will not help the candidacy of Herschel Walker in Georgia. That the runoff will become much more about Donald Trump. And that -- that's a big problem.

But the other issue, I think Donald Trump is trying to condition the field for 2024. By jumping in now, he is essentially issuing a challenge to his would-be challengers, Mike Pence, Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie, Governor Hogan and others who might jump in.

So, you know, come on, jump in. And frankly, I think Donald Trump would prefer if more of them jumped into the race. Because with a larger field, that would likely help Donald Trump gain a plurality in the nomination process.

So, right now, I think Trump is a stone down the gauntlet. He wants and even though he is a diminished figure, his star is setting not rising. And he is certainly taking a lot of the blame for Republican underperformance in last week's election, as he should be, given the fact that he made the election about himself, and unhelpfully intervened in so many of the primaries, nominating -- helping to nominate candidates who are unfit and really added to significant Republican losses.

So, he is in and we'll see how these others react. But I think some of his would-be challengers won't jump into the race as long as Trump is in there as a viable figure because of his strong base of support.

CHURCH: Interesting. And Caroline, Trump's announcement is a gift for Democrats. But they won't be so happy if and when Ron DeSantis enters the field.

How big a threat is he to Joe Biden, and will Trump overcome the new interest that the GOP has now in Ron DeSantis?

HELDMAN: Well, I think the primary will weaken Ron DeSantis because Donald Trump is still the most popular member of the party. Although, some early Republican polls are finding that DeSantis bests Trump in some of these key early primaries.

Now it's way too far out for us to really know anything, and that's part of the problem. Why are we talking about this two years before presidential election? It's simply exhausting.

But I do imagine that Donald Trump will inspire what he inspired in 2020, which is historic voter turnout. It was the highest turnout this century, the highest turnout since the 1960s. Nearly two thirds of voters turned out to vote. And that's about a 10-point bump over typical presidential elections.

And people were not voting for Joe Biden, he was just fine. He doesn't really inspire Democrats. If you look at polls. People were turning out to vote against Donald Trump.

So, if Trump is the nominee, I expect really high turnout. And if he's not the nominee, I expect that DeSantis will be pretty bloody by the end of the primary battle.

CHURCH: And of course, meantime, the GOP surprise losses in the midterms, particularly in the Senate, have triggered leadership wars within the party with the Senate -- with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell coming under threat from Rick Scott. What will likely be the outcome of that leadership fight do you think, Charlie?

DENT: Well, look, the roadside is littered with the carcasses of people who have underestimated Mitch McConnell. Yes, there appears to be a bit of a challenge brewing to Mitch McConnell. But it clearly appears that Mitch McConnell has more than enough votes to be the Republican leader in the Senate.

And I know some of them are trying to say that some of his challenges are trying to suggest that somehow the problem was that Republicans in the Senate didn't have an agenda to run on.

Well, the truth is these midterm elections are always about the party in power, and the president of the party in power. It's really not so much about the agenda of the party out of power.

And so, I think some of the folks who are challenging McConnell right now, are trying to deflect blame from cells, because they were too close to the, you know, to the election denial movement, you know, just too close to too much of the excesses of Donald Trump, and frankly, too supportive of too many of these candidates who the American people rejected, because they were seen as too extreme.

Republicans lost the election, not because of Mitch McConnell, but because of the Dobbs' decision. Donald Trump's unhelpful interventions into these primary contests that nominated these unfit candidates. And also, again, the election denial -- the election denialism, and you're looking back at 2020.

So, it's a bunch of reasons why Republicans lost. I would say, those are the biggest reasons and probably most, especially the Dobbs' decision on abortion.

CHURCH: And Caroline, we are all used to seeing disunity within the Democratic Party, but now it's the Republicans that are battling at all levels from the fight for the presidency to leadership squabbles in the Senate. And the House, what do you think will likely happen to the very calculating Mitch McConnell? And also, because I think you've got the last question here to answer.

Let's talk about Kevin McCarthy, because while he has the votes for now, and will likely take the speakership role in the House, he is going to really struggle, isn't he, with that razor thin majority?


HELDMAN: It's not a job that I would want. Kevin McCarthy, certainly, has his work cut out for him. As you point out, Rosemary, he will have a very slim majority in the House.

And while getting that majority means you run the board in terms of committee chairpersonships, in terms of deciding what ad hoc committees are set up. And we should expect to see like a lot of, you know, investigations of Hunter Biden, and these sorts of partisan investigations, which Republicans are fond of doing.

And sometimes Democrats will see a lot of that. But what you'll also see is Kevin McCarthy, having to capitulate to the extremists in his party, the Freedom Caucus and others, simply because he has so little leeway, because he won't have much of a majority.

And he also has to pitch to the center. He has to keep everyone happy. That is an impossible job. And it is one that he may not hold in January because he actually needs to garner 218 -- sorry, yes, 218 votes, not the 188 he has now.

Once they get back in session, he needs everyone together. And that means something along the lines of what he's already done, which has gone with his, you know, head in his -- in his hat and his hand and going and apologizing to folks who he was critical of post-January 6th.

So, not a -- not a fun job for Kevin McCarthy moving forward.

CHURCH: We are watching very carefully. Caroline Heldman and Charlie Dent, many thanks for your analysis. Appreciate it.

DENT: Thanks, Rosemary.


HELDMAN: Thank you, Rosemary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one. Boosters ignition, and lift off of Artemis 1. We rise together back to the moon and beyond.


CHURCH (voice over): The third time's a charm. The Artemis 1 moon rocket blasted off just a short time ago for a 26-day mission. Despite some delays earlier due to technical glitches.

The rocket is now officially the most powerful one ever to reach Earth's orbit. After the first launch attempts were scrubbed in August and September.

Late Tuesday, the team had to address an issue that tied to a crucial radar system. They also had to fix another liquid hydrogen leak. And this first phase of the Artemis mission is an unmanned test flight and the ultimate goal is to return astronauts to the moon and someday send humans to Mars.

And we will have much more on the historic mission later this hour in a live report.

CHURCH: The day of destruction across Ukraine as dozens of Russian missiles rain down on the country. Coming up, the devastating attacks that left millions of Ukrainians without power. Back in just a moment.



CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden says there is total unanimity about G7 and NATO leaders to investigate the missile that killed two people in Poland on Tuesday.

Polish officials say it was Russian-made but it's still unclear who fired it and where was fired from.

The missile landed about 6-1/2 kilometers or four miles west of the Ukrainian border. A NATO official tells CNN that a NATO aircraft flying in Polish airspace tracked the missile.

The Polish president says his country is trying to determine who is responsible. Meantime, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is urging NATO leaders to take action.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Hitting NATO territory with missiles is a Russian strike against collective security. This is a very significant escalation. We have to act.

CHURCH: I'm joined now by Yuriy Sak. He is an adviser to the Ukrainian defense minister, and joins me live from Kyiv. Thank you, sir, for talking with us.

YURIY SAK, ADVISOR TO UKRAINE'S DEFENSE MINISTER: Thank you for inviting me, Rosemary.

CHURCH: First critical question to you. Was this a Russian fired missile or a Ukrainian defense missile?

SAK: Like you have said in your earlier report, at this stage, it is very important to be very cautious with definitive conclusions. And, of course, since this incidents this tragic incident, it happened on the territory of Poland, of our partner and friend, Poland. So, we'll have to wait until the final conclusions of that investigation.

And, of course, we have said yesterday that we welcome a full and thorough investigation of this incident. But what we have to understand is that yesterday was the largest missile attack on our country, since the beginning of this large scale invasion. Almost 100 missiles were fired in Ukraine, millions of people have been left without electricity.

So, this is an important thing that happened yesterday, and neither this massive missile attack, nor the tragic incident in Poland would have happened, you know, if this war was not going on, if Russia did not invade our country. If Ukrainian skies were closed.

And we've been requesting to close our skies for a long time now, and we're talking to our international partners about this, almost on a daily basis.

And actually, today, there will be a Ramstein meeting of the ministers of defense of our 50 countries. And we believe and we almost confident that, you know, the air defense capabilities of Ukraine will continue to be a top priority both for us and for our international partners.

CHURCH: Yes, of course, this missile landing in Poland brings this war to a critical juncture. And we do have to emphasize that Poland has confirmed that this missile was Russian-made. But the problem with that, of course, is that Ukraine, your country, also uses Russian-made missiles.

So, how possible is it that this was a Ukrainian missile, or perhaps a Russian missile intercepted by Ukraine that was propelled by that interception into Polish territory?


SAK: I like to stress two things in this respect. Now, number one, yesterday night, as we woke up today, we've had reports that yesterday night, Russia has launched six S-300 missiles at the city of Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine.

And we know that for some time now -- some time now, Russia, because it is running out of ballistic missiles has been using the surface to air missiles to target ground targets. So, that's number one.

Number two, I would like to stress as well that some time ago, in August, when there was a real threat that Russians would attack or cause some provocation on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Some U.K., as well as U.S., politicians and congressmen have said back then, that if Russia conducted an attack on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, this could be interpreted by the NATO, even though it would be in Ukraine, but because of the contamination, because of this threat of the radiation -- possible spread of the radiation to the European countries, this could be interpreted as an Article 5 of NATO, as a trigger for that article.


CHURCH: Right. Let's get back --

SAK: And we have been warning -- CHURCH: Yes, I totally understand that. But let's get back to this

issue we're dealing with. Because the United States and its allies are holding these emergency meetings in response to this Russian-made missile falling inside the borders of NATO ally Poland.

President Biden says they need to find out exactly what happened before taking next steps. Do you appreciate and understand this need for an extreme level of caution, given the consequences of this could be immense?

SAK: Well, of course, we understand and I would like to repeat that yesterday, we have said very clearly that Ukraine welcomes a full and thorough investigation. And we know that the NATO allies, including the U.S. will be helping Poland to establish what really happened.

But look, we have been saying it for a long time. And this is, you know, we have been saying that Russian attacks in Ukraine always have ramifications on other European countries, whether it is -- whether we're talking about energy security, whether we're talking about nuclear blackmail, or food security.

CHURCH: All right. Yuriy Sak, thank you so much for joining us. We do appreciate it.

SAK: Thank you. Thank you.

CHURCH: All right. Time for short break. When we come back, Donald Trump is running for president again.

CHURCH (voice over): Why his announcement landed with a thud, even for many Republicans.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need as a party to move past President Trump.




DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: In order to make America great glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.


CHURCH: It's the announcement everyone was expecting. Donald Trump wants to return to the White House in 2024. Although, no other U.S. president has won nonconsecutive term since Grover Cleveland in 1892. Trump says President Biden and the "radical democrats" have turned American cities into cesspools of crime, opened the southern border to immigrants and drugs, allowed Russia to invade Ukraine and stood by while inflation has spiraled out of control. President Biden tweeted, Donald Trump failed America, and even a number of Republicans are expressing doubt about Trump's new White House bid.


GOV. CHARLIE BAKER (R-MASSACHUSETTS): We need as a party to move past President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump is dragging the party down

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Trump's cost us the last three elections, and I don't want to see it happen a fourth time.


CHURCH: Michael Genovese is president of the Global Policy Institute at the Loyola Merrimack University. And he joins me now from Los Angeles. Michael, great to have you with us.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: So, what's your reaction to Donald Trump announcing its third bid for president so early in the game and in the wake of his massive midterm losses with many in his own party questioning his credibility?

GENOVESE: We know the initial part of the speech was very sort of, you know, teleprompter don, drab, tall. About 30 minutes into the speech, he started to find his stride again. It was the old Donald Trump. The perpetual motion machine, category five storm, full of grievances and resentments and self-pity. He said, at one point, I'm a victim, and another point he said, I've been persecuted.

But there were a couple of things that may have gone unnoticed that I think are important. One is that I did not notice any Republican party leaders in the crowd tonight. It might be significant. The second thing is, Fox News cut the Trump feed on the speech midway through the speech. And third, Rupert Murdoch has been making noises about abandoning Trump and moving towards Paul DeSantis. If that is also powerfully true, Donald Trump has some thunderstorms on the horizon.

CHURCH: Interesting. And of course, the Republican Party experiencing chaos and turmoil in the midst of its midterm losses in the Senate, and that is triggered a leadership challenge from Rick Scott against Mitch McConnell. How likely is it that we will see the end of his long leadership in the Senate or do you think he can hold firm?


GENOVESE: Don't underestimate Mitch McConnell's staying power. He's a master politician and he has a tremendous amount of skill at maneuvering parliamentary procedure. He -- I think he's in pretty good shape. I think the challenger will be more perfunctory as a kind of a statement as this, I think, the trouble McCarthy is in in the house. They both seem to have the votes. Right now, they're not spoiling for a fight and I think even though the right-wing in the House wants to get a fight going. I think they're both pretty safe.

But the problem with McCarthy -- and you keep hearing the metaphor used, you know, it's like herding cats. It's not like herding cats. It's more like herding scorpions in a tornado. The right-wing of the Republican Party in the House is going to cause McCarthy trouble beyond words. And so, what his dream job is right now might turn into a nightmare very quickly.

CHURCH: What deals do you think he will need to make with the pro Trump mob that are really basically saying they are holding out on giving him support when he needs it in January for the speakership? What do you think he will have to give up for that?

GENOVESE: Yes. They're trying to hold him hostage to a couple of things. One, investigations, investigations, investigations into Hunter Biden, into the Afghanistan pullout, into anything that Biden has done. They also might want to force McCarthy to allow for the impeachment of Joe Biden. That's a big-ticket item, and you need -- really need to have reason to do that.

The right-wing of the Republican Party, that Freedom Caucuses, it's called, just wants to go out and do it. And so, the question is, will McCarthy be able to hold back some of that rhetoric and some of the more extreme views? He may not be in a position to have the strength to do that.

CHURCH: And finally, Michael, where do you think this leaves the Democrats? Because not many people predicted they would retain the Senate and actually survive in the House. I mean, they haven't done as badly as people thought they might do.

GENOVESE: Right. Even the good news for the Democrats also has bad news in it. The good news, of course, they maintained control of the Senate and they are pretty tight in the House. The bad news is, they lost the House. But as the attention focuses more on Donald Trump right now, the question is, do the Democrats fear or welcome Donald Trump? My guess is that right now they are chomping at the bit to have Donald Trump become the face, the voice and the centerpiece of the Republican Party. They think they do very well against Donald Trump. I think they fear him much more than they fear DeSantis and some of the other alternatives.

CHURCH: Yes. It's worked for them so far. Michael Genovese, great pleasure to have you with us as always. Thank you.

GENOVESE: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Well, CNN is calling several more races for the U.S. House of Representatives, projecting Democrats will hold two more seats in California and pick one up in New Mexico. While Republicans hold two in California and pick one up in Arizona. Now, that means as of now Republicans are just one seat away from taking control of the chamber and so, we will keep a very close eye on that. A very precarious as you can see in that chart.

All right. To the moon and beyond, after several technical glitches and weeks of delays, the Artemis 1 mission is finally underway. And we will have the latest on the launch and what NASA hopes to achieve just ahead in a live report.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, stop. Boosters and ignition. And lift off of Artemis 1. We rise together, back to the moon and beyond.


CHURCH: Look at that. And after a nail-biting series of technical glitches and delays, the Artemis 1 rocket blasted off last hour for its 26-day mission to the moon. The team had to address critical radar issues and a hydrogen fuel leak shortly before the launch window opened. It was a third attempt to launch this rocket, the most powerful one NASA has ever built.

The first phase of the Artemis mission is an un-manned test flight. And the ultimate goal is to return astronauts to the moon and someday send humans to mars. And I'm joined now by CNN's space and defense correspondent, Kristin Fisher, who is at the Kennedy Space Center.

Great to see you, Kristin. And you are not far from where the Artemis launched last hour. We actually video of the moment it launched and your reaction is priceless. So, we want to just bring that up for a moment.




FISHER: Oh, my gosh.

CHURCH: I mean, what were you thinking as you watched that?

FISHER: That's my first time seeing that in full. You know, gosh, Rosemary, I mean, I had nothing to do with this launch. I can only imagine what the people who actually contributed to the mission must be feeling right now. But, you know, I am a space journalist. I cover this. I was here for the last space shuttle launch and it was really a sad moment for everybody here at the Kennedy Space Center and, you know, all the people with ties to space, up and down the Florida Space Coast.


And so, that was more than a decade ago. And a lot of people weren't sure that this rocket was ever going to get off the launchpad. And so, I honestly, in that moment, just couldn't believe what I was seeing. Because, we have had so many delays, Rosemary. I couldn't believe it was actually launching.

CHURCH: Yes. I mean, it was so clear how you felt. And I'm sure everyone else there as well. And, of course, now, after the successful launch, are you learning anything about the progress so far?

FISHER: Yes. So far, everything looks really good. We are on track for a post-launch press conference with NASA happening at 5:00 a.m. Eastern time. But, Rosemary, everything is looking really good right now. We have passed all the most critical initial test for the SLS rocket and then, the Orion Capsule, which sits on top. And so, now, what we're going to see is over the next several days, it's going to take about six days before the Orion spacecraft is making -- or is able to make its closest approach to the moon.

And it's going to get really close. It's going to get just 60 miles roughly off of the lunar surface. And what's so neat about that is we're going to be getting live pictures beamed back to earth. And, of course, you know, we have sent probes and rovers and uncrewed spacecrafts to the moon since the Apollo days. But what is different is, you know, this spacecraft is designed to carry humans. And if this mission, Artemis 1, is a success, Artemis 2 and 3 will do just that.

CHURCH: All right. Kristin Fisher, thank you so much for your report and, of course, your enthralling reaction there. Appreciate it.

FISHER: Thanks.

CHURCH: And Daniel Dumbacher is the executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, with us now from Sacramento. I do hope that I pronounced your name correctly, sir. But thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: And, of course, as we've been reporting, it was NASA's third attempt launching the Artemis 1 moon rocket after some technical issues. What was your reaction when you saw the launch?

DUMBACHER: Well, my reaction tonight was probably like everybody else's, was, first, paying close attention to the first eight minutes, to make sure that we go all the way through the main engine cut off and got the core stage separated like we needed to. And then, just frankly, like I won the Super Bowl or like I want the NCAA basketball championship, it was quite a celebration.

CHURCH: Yes. Just amazing. And, of course, the images are just extraordinary, aren't they? So, why so many issues though getting to this point? The team having to fix another liquid hydrogen leak and, of course, a radar signal problem?

DUMBACHER: Well, these systems, you have millions of different parts that all have to work perfectly at just the right time and every new launch system always has these kinds of experiences to go through. We had these with Apollo, we had these with the Gemini, we had these with them with Shuttle. And so, now, we have the first one under our belts and the mission is off to a great start with the perigee race burn just, I believe, getting completed. So, looking good.

CHURCH: So, what all will this moon rocket potentially achieve and how significant will this be, do you think?

DUMBACHER: This is extremely significant. We have not reinitiated the launch capability that we had back in the Apollo days. So -- and eventually, the Artemis system, we will be able to take more payload, more hardware to the moon than we did with Apollo. So, we have reinitiated this great launch capability that we gave up back in the early 70s, we now have it back. And now, we can go -- get back to exploring and help establish that space economy from the lower earth orbit up to the moon and extend the human neighborhood.

CHURCH: And, of, course, one long-term aim of this mission is to eventually see humans land on mars. How achievable do you think that goal is?

DUMBACHER: That goal is achievable but it's going to take some time. We need to get to the moon, learn how to live and work on the moon and learn how to live and work and operate these missions, being so far away. You know, with space station, we are an hour and a half away from home if there is an issue or a problem with the moon, we're a minimum of three days, and in some places, we are nine and 10 days away from the moon.

And, when we go to mars, you know, that is 35 million miles away compared to 240,000. So, that is going to be a six-month one-way trip. So, you know, we have a lot to were along the way and we'll do it one step at a time. And, in that -- in the course of that, we'll create the new opportunities, the new economic opportunities for the next generation.

CHURCH: You've got those numbers down pat. Thank you so much, Daniel Dumbacher, for joining us. A pleasure to speak with you.

DUMBACHER: My pleasure. Thank you very much.

CHURCH: Absolutely. And we'll be right back. Stay with us.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, spend three hours on Tuesday testifying before an Atlanta area grand jury. Prosecutors are investigating with the then-president, Donald Trump, and his allies, tried to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. The questioning focused largely on a phone call weeks after the election in which Trump allegedly tried to push Kemp to convince state lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden's win in Georgia.


Former Trump White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, is scheduled to offer her testimony before the grand jury on Wednesday with a Senator Lindsey Graham set to testify on Thursday. And, a Florida judge has ordered that former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, must testify before the grand jury. The judge denied Flynn's request to defer his testimony while he appeals the ruling.

All right. Let's get you up to date now on our top stories this hour. Right now, investigators in Eastern Poland are working to figure out where a missile that killed two people came from. Authorities have said that it was Russian-made, but they don't know yet whether it was launched by Russian forces in Ukraine or possibly as part of Ukraine's air defense system.

Here, in the, U.S., Donald Trump has officially announced his plan to run for president in 2024. Trump claims that Joe Biden and the Democrats have ruined the country with crime and inflation and only his America First policies will get things back on track.

Well, we will have much more on those stories next hour. I am Rosemary Church. I'll be back after a short break. Do stay with us.