Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

U.S. Running Low on Some Weapons, Ammo to Transfer to Ukraine; Lawmakers Call for Complete and Transparent Accounting of FTX Business Practices After Crypto Company's Collapse; Job Losses Mount Across America's Tech Industry. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 17, 2022 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: First on CNN today, the U.S. is now running low on some high-end weapons systems and ammunition available to transfer to Ukraine. Three U.S. officials tell myself and my colleagues, Jeremy Herb and Katie Bo Lillis, one of those officials described the stockpiles of certain systems as dwindling after nearly nine months of sending supplies to Ukraine during high intensity war, noting there is a, quote, finite amount of excess stocks, which the U.S. has available to send without impacting its own readiness.

Among the weapon systems where there's particular concern about U.S. stockpiles are 155 millimeter artillery shells and Stinger anti- aircraft shoulder-fired missiles, both of which have had a significant role in Ukraine's battlefield success, other weapons of concern as well. The question now, will these shortages impact the Ukrainian war effort.

Joining me now to discuss, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Good to have you on, sir.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good to be on with you too, Jim.

SCIUTTO: So, first of all, the problem here, the war has gone longer and harder than really anyone expected here. There is a lot of burn through these weapon systems, limited supplies and it takes a long time to replace these systems. You can't build them in a day. They take a long time. And, by the way, you have got a big supply chain issue internationally. Are you concerned that these shortages will change the momentum of this war given Ukraine's advances?

LEIGHTON: Yes. And the reason I am concerned, Jim, is because we're looking not only at these supply chain shortages but we're also looking at the attrition rates that are happening to the Ukrainian military. There are a lot of Ukrainians who are getting killed in this war, which is not being reported on as much, but it is a significant factor. Obviously, Russians are getting killed too but the Ukrainian losses in comparison to their population are pretty significant. And the other thing, of course, that we have to consider is the weather. The fact that winter is coming into play here, that means that there are going to be a lot more challenges. And if the industrial base -- defense industrial base in the U.S. and in other western countries can't keep up with what the Ukrainians need in order to prosecute their offensive operations, it is going to be a problem.

SCIUTTO: At the same time, you're hearing public comments from folks, like the joint chiefs chairman, Mark Milley, saying that Ukraine's aim, which is to gain back all of the territory Russia has occupied going back to 2014, including Crimea, just isn't happening any time soon, discussions of peace negotiations taken together. Is the U.S. subtly pressuring Ukraine to make a deal?

LEIGHTON: That could be the case. You have to like kind of read the tea leaves as we parse through these public statements. I think that we have concern about the defense industrial base. It is distinctly possible that the U.S. is looking at trying to find a way out, face- saving way out for the Ukrainians that would allow them to contain the area that they have right now and to also contain the Russians that are on their territory.

The key thing here is, I think, though, Jim, is that they need to understand that there is a certain momentum that the Ukrainians have and the industrial base needs to keep up with that if we're going to get a resolution that has any reflection of justice in this war. And that justice, of course, would be that the Russians get out.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and certainly no indications from Ukrainian leaders, including the president, that they want to give up now.

Let's look back a couple of days, if we can, to this Poland missile strike, which the U.S. and others is now saying definitively, was a Ukrainian air defense missile fired at a Russian missile coming in went off target here. Did Ukrainian officials make a mistake by being so quick to blame Russia here and do they now need to definitively walk that back?

LEIGHTON: Well, this is an interesting one, Jim. I think that obviously in the final analysis when you look at causes, of course, the Russians are to blame for this incident even happening and it is obviously an indirect blame but it's still -- the reason for this is their fault, in essence.

But, yes, the Ukrainians should, I guess, have been a bit more careful in this. I understand the pressures that they're under, which are significant.


I also understand that they're trying to make sure that they aren't held responsible for things that they didn't do. But in this particular case, I think it was an accident and they just need to own up to it, if the evidence continues to bear out what we believe to be true.

SCIUTTO: Exactly. And as you say, it was Russia who, at the time, was raining down dozens and doznes of missiles on Ukrainian territory.

Colonel Cedric Leighton, thanks so much.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Jim. Thank you.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: It is official deadline day for Twitter employees. They have either to accept Elon Musk's terms or leave. We'll take a closer look at that ultimatum, next.



SCIUTTO: Another first on CNN, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Dick Durbin are now calling for a, quote, complete and transparent accounting of the collapse of FTX. In a letter first obtained by CNN, the Democrats the cryptocurrency exchange and its founder, 30-year-old Sam Bankman-Fried, known as SBF, hand over documents about the company's collapse as well as any potential illegal use of customer funds.

HILL: CNN Business and Economy Reporter Matt Egan joining us now with the details. So specifically drilling through that, what do the senators think they're going to find here?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS AND ECONOMY REPORTER: Well, Jim and Erica, this bankruptcy is just such a train wreck, which I think is a legal term, and now we see Congress getting involved, right? Yesterday, the House Financial Services Committee, they launched a bipartisan hearing for next month.

Now, we have in this letter just sent today top Senate Democrats, they are demanding answers and documents. Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin, they're calling for a series of business records to be turned over, specifically copies of all balance sheets at FTX and its subsidiaries since the company launched in 2019, terms of bailouts that FTX gave to other crypto firms and a complete list of all FTX transfers through a sister hedge fund. That last part is critical because FTX reportedly propped up that sister hedge fund by using customer funds without their knowledge or consent.

Now, let me read you a key part of this letter. They wrote, quote, new revelations continue to shed light on what now appears to be an appalling case of greed and deception. Now, Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO, 30-year-old founder of FTX, he has apologized for this collapse and he has conceded that the company may have been a bit reckless at times. He tweeted yesterday, quote, I was on the cover of every magazine and FTX was the darling of Silicon Valley. We got overconfident and careless.

Now, meanwhile, the fallout from this bankruptcy continues spread. FTX investors have filed a lawsuit naming not just SBF but some of the celebrities who backed this company, including Tom Brady, Gisele, Steph Curry. The FTX meltdown has also infected other crypto firms. Just in the last few days, crypto lender BlockFi has halted withdrawals, another company, Genesis, doing the same thing on some of their withdrawals, never a good sign. And then just this morning, new bankruptcy documents out from a restructuring official overseeing this bankruptcy. He said he's never seen a complete mess like this. He's never seen a lack of corporate controls. And that is saying a lot because he also over saw the liquidation of another famous bankruptcy, Enron.

HILL: Wow, all right. So, for those who are debating Lehman or Enron earlier this week, perhaps we just got our answer. Matt, I appreciate it. Thank you.

It is a troubling time in the tech industry overall, workers watching, waiting. We've heard so much about sweeping layoffs. They have started at Facebook's parent company, Meta, Amazon and, of course, Twitter.

SCIUTTO: Twitter has already slashed half, 50 percent of its staff, and now the new owner, Elon Musk, has given workers until 5:00 P.M. this evening to, quote, commit to extremely hard core work or leave the company.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich reports on the tech sector's dizzying reality check.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In three weeks, the tech industry lost tens of thousands of jobs, historic layoffs at Twitter, Meta and Lyft and Amazon., a crowd source layoff tracking sight, puts it at more than 35,000 layoffs so far this month.

ROGER LEE, FOUNDER, LAYOFFS.FYI: That is the highest month since the pandemic. So, that beats April 2020, which was 17,000 employees laid off.

YURKEVICH: Meta cut its workforce by 13 percent. CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying he's taking accountability and apologizing to those impacted. New owner Elon Musk slashed half of Twitter's staff with founder Jack Dorsey tweeting, the company grew too quickly, I apologize for that. And Amazon is laying off 10,000 workers this week, citing an unusual and uncertain macroeconomic environment.

NELA RICHARDSON, CHIEF ECONOMIST, ADP RESEARCH INSTITUTE: There were big investments made during the pandemic time. While the rest of the economy, for example, was plummeting by 3.4 percent, tech grew by 4 percent.

YURKEVICH: But in a post-pandemic, high inflation world, consumer behaviors and spending habits are changing with the threat of a recession on the horizon.

RICHARDSON: I take this as a sign that maybe companies got over their skis at some point, right, and they are trying to sit upright again.

YURKEVICH: Roger Lee founded as the pandemic unfolded.

[10:45:01] Recently, he's been digging into the numbers.

LEE: There were companies who have been letting go half or more of their H.R. teams just because they're not hiring as many people any more.

YURKEVICH: Aaron Backman, a recruiter at tech company was one of the layoffs.

What did that feel like for you?

AARON BACKMAN, LAID OFF FROM TECH COMPANY: It was a really awful feeling. We were told really early in the morning in email saying layoffs are coming today. And if you get a call, it is going to be you. And I sat there for six hours on Slack and watched my colleagues get laid off one by one.

YURKEVICH: Then he got the call.

BACKMAN: It is depressing.

YURKEVICH: As American workers watched tech giants shed jobs at a rapid clip, many in other industries are asking, am I next?

Should they be nervous?

RICHARDSON: First of all, the tech economy are just 2 percent of the labor market. Tech is an important part of the economy but it is not the whole of the economy. The rest of the labor market is looking pretty good. The economy is adding jobs at a pretty healthy clip.


YURKEVICH (on camera): And the hiring that she is talking about there is happening in more consumer-facing industries, so, health care, social services, leisure and hospitality. But when we are talking about layoffs, we're talking about people's livelihoods. Aaron Backman, who you heard from there in the piece, says that he has applied for 125 roles in just a few short months. He's only received two phone interviews. It is becoming very difficult for people right now in the tech industry.

But, mainly, a glimmer of hope, economists say that by next year, we could actually see a reversal, the adding back of some tech jobs. Tech is just a small part of the economy but it's an important part of the economy, Jim and Erica. It is very much the future. Guys?

HILL: Yes, it sure is. Vanessa, I appreciate it. Thank you.

This just in to CNN, we've learned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's daughters are with her on Capitol Hill today, this as we await an announcement from the speaker about her political future. Unclear the exact timing that she will make that announcement, give her speech on the House floor, but we are keeping a close watch and we'll be sure to bring that to you live as it happens. Stay with us.



HILL: 11 years ago, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot with constituents in an event outside a local store. The new CNN film, Gabby Giffords, Won't Back Down, takes you inside of her relentless fight to recover from that assassination attempt and also along with her on her new fight against gun violence.


FMR. REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D-AZ): Hello, my fellow Arizonans.

FMR. REP. RON BARBER (D-AZ): The charisma still comes shining through.

GIFFORDS: We need bold solutions, courageous ideas, leaders who put people first, not politics.

BARBER: Her personality that Gabbifies (ph) everybody is still there.

GIFFORDS: I know the perfect person for the job. He's tough, he's smart, he worked just as hard as I do, well almost, my partner, my rock, Mark Kelly.


HILL: That, of course, the former congresswoman campaigning for her husband, Senator Mark Kelly.

Joining me now is former Congressman Ron Barber, who you just saw in that clip. He was an aide to Giffords before going on to fill her House seat when she resigned. And you were there when she was shot. You were also wounded on that day. It is good to have you us with this morning.

BARBER: It is great to be here, especially to talk about this wonderful documentary.

HILL: I mean, this is quite a journey that you've been on. You were with her obviously prior to the horror that unfolded at that Congress on your corner event in Tucson. You've been on this journey with Gabby Giffords since then. I would imagine, though, even revisiting some of these moments in the film, that had to really take you back because those are in-depth interviews. They want to get to the heart of what happened. What was it like for you to relive that?

BARBER: Well, first of all, I have to compliment the directors. They did a fantastic job. They really knew how to interview and how to capture everyone's feelings and memories of what happened that day.

So, to me, the film represents an opportunity for people to see Gabby at her best, which is to meet up to a challenge, to not back down as, the film subtitle says, and to make sure that she continues to contribute to her community. She is totally dedicated to her community. And she continues to do that with her work on preventing gun violence and, of course, supporting her husband, who is now in the United States Senate.

HILL: It is remarkable in the film I was saying to you during the break. I was there in the aftermath to cover it. But I had forgotten about some of these milestones, and, in fact, not only how she defied the odds but how quickly, in some ways, she was recovering.

Given what has happened since then and that there have been far too many shootings, mass shootings, especially in this country since, all of her work on gun violence, do you sense that there has been a change, do you sense that things are starting to change in this country?


BARBER: I do. And, unfortunately, the United States Congress until just recently has failed to pass any meaningful gun violence prevention legislation. Finally, after the awful tragedy in Texas, where all of the children were killed, the Senate and the House found a way to compromise and get a bill in front of the president, which he signed. It is not everything we need to do but it is certainly a great start.

The thing about Gabby is that she will continue to fight for -- on this issue and for this issue. The successes are -- have been across the country state by state, sometimes community by community. And a lot of state laws, laws passed that prevent gun violence, that is where most of the success has been seen. One of these days, we'll get even a more comprehensive piece of legislation out of Congress.

HILL: Ron Barber, I really appreciate you taking the time to join us this morning. It is a truly remarkable film and reminds of you what a fighter Gabby Giffords was in those moments and is still today. Thank you so much for being with us.

And for everyone at home, please be sure to tune in that all new CNN film, Gabby Giffords, Won't Back Down, premieres Sunday at 9:00 P.M. only on CNN.

Good to have all of you with us today. I'm Erica Hill.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

At This Hour with Kate Bolduan starts right after a short break.