Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Ukraine: 18 Killed in Helicopter Crash in Kyiv Region; Republicans Lay Groundwork for DHS Secretary's Impeachment; Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa Acquitted of Tax Evasion Charges; New Questions Raised After JFK Runway Incident. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 18, 2023 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. If you are just joining us, let me bring you up to date with the breaking news this hour.

At least 18 people are dead and 29 injured after a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten and residential buildings in the Kyiv area. CNN's Clare Sebastian joins me now with some more images we just had in.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we've got some images from our producer Brent Swails who's on the ground there and it shows sort of the level of destruction from this helicopter. You can see the mangled wreckage. Bring it up there. You see it there. The you can see casualties on the ground covered in gold foil.

And we're getting more information from the deputy head of the presidential administration who just held a press conference there, Max. He said that he can confirm the death of the Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky as well as his deputy, first deputy minister and the state secretary says three high ranking members of the interior ministry were in the helicopter. He also said more than 20 were in the hospital including children. Several of them are in intensive care.

He said there is some damage to this kindergarten close by and they're working to dismantle a ceiling that collapsed in one section of it. But he says that there were nine people in the helicopter, all of those were killed and the others were injured and killed where people are bringing their children essentially to this kindergarten.

FOSTER: So, they weren't in the school, we don't think, they were killed -- the children -- they were killed on their way to the school.

SEBASTIAN: That is what he's saying. It's unclear if sort of that relates to all of the casualties. But certainly, he saying that there are injuries among those --

FOSTER: It's just a horrific story, isn't it? But no suggestion at the moment of foul play.

SEBASTIAN: In its early days they are investigating this. You can see from those images that the weather is pretty bad. Our producer on the ground reported low visibility on his way to the site. And we know as well that there's a fire that broke out around it. You can see that in some of the sort of more high up images that were shot of the area. So, it looks like there's a lot of destruction, a lot of damage and they're still trying to determine what exactly happened here.

FOSTER: Clare, back with you as you get more. Thank you.

Now as Republicans take control of the House, they are moving quickly to build a case against U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to launch a rare impeachment proceeding. However, not all Republicans are on board. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has the details.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (voice-over): Migrants lining up along the U.S./Mexico border, cities overwhelmed. It's a crisis Republicans say of the administration's own making. And they argue Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is to blame even teasing potential impeachment.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Should that person stay in their job? Well, I raise the issue they shouldn't. So, the thing we can do is we can investigate and in that investigation could lead to an impeachment inquiry.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): Republicans allege that Mayorkas failed to enforce the nation's immigration laws and they argue he lied to Congress when he said this to a House committee.

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Will you testify under oath right now do we have operational control, yes or no?


ROY: We have operational control of the borders?

MAYORKAS: Yes, we do.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): Just days into the start of the new Congress, Republican Representative Pat Fallon of Texas introduced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas. The exceedingly rare move has picked up steam in the conference with key committee chairs already laying the ground work and preparing to hold a series of hearings on border security.

But GOP leadership has yet to commit to moving ahead on impeachment. Mayorkas meanwhile remains undeterred officials say and intends to stay at the helm of the department.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I've got a lot of work to do. I'm proud to do it alongside 250,000 incredibly dedicated and talented individuals in the Department of Homeland Security and I'm going to continue to do my work.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): The Constitution gives the House authority to impeach on treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. [04:35:00]

Experts say it is ultimately up to lawmakers whether something is impeachable but political disagreements are likely not enough.

STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There is really no precedent for impeaching an officer simply because Congress is of the view that the officer has carried out their duties in a way, they fine distasteful or disagreeable.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): The Biden administration has been wrestling with a growing number of migrants for months, amid mass migration in the western hemisphere. The protocols officials relied upon are the same ones used under former President Donald Trump. Republicans, though, take issue with how the administration has enforced the law at the border but not all are on board with impeaching Mayorkas, including GOP Representative Tony Gonzales.

REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): Impeachment is in case of emergency break glass. It seems as if we have taken that to a common thing. It shouldn't be a common thing. Look, DHS Secretary Mayorkas has made a lot of mistakes and there's clearly a lot of people upset.

ALVAREZ: Now while there is division in the Republican conference about whether to impeach Mayorkas, there is certainly consensus among the GOP about the mishandling of the U.S./Mexican border. Now those criticisms are going to come to light in Congressional hearings may be as early as this month. My colleagues Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona report that the first judiciary committee on the border is expected later this month or in early February. Mayorkas for his part, says that he will not resign and the department have said that lawmakers should instead focus on immigration reform. But to really underscore how rare it would be to impeach a Secretary, the only cabinet official to be impeached was U.S. Secretary of War William Belknap and that was in 1876 over a kickback scheme.

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: Journalist Nobel laureate Maria Ressa has been acquitted of four charges of tax evasion in the Philippines, ending a slew of legal hearings she says were politically motivated. The charges were brought against her by the government of former Filipino President Roderigo Duterte. And a fifth tax evasion charge still looms after Ressa and her media company Rappler. Now the veteran Filipino/American journalist says the ruling is a victory for truth.

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins me from Seoul with more. A lot of people have been supporting this journalist throughout because they feel it was politically motivated.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Max, and we've certainly heard from many of her advocates, many human rights groups today saying that this is a victory. We heard from the Human Rights Watch saying the acquittal is clearly welcome news and a boon for press freedom in the Philippines.

Now Maria Ressa herself spoke outside the court. She was clearly emotional saying that it's not just a win for her and for Rappler but saying it's a win for every Filipino who's ever been unjustly accused. Now she had pled not guilty to all the charges. She had said they were politically motivated saying that it was from the previous administration, from President Duterte.

Now Rappler has been aggressively covering Duterte and his bloody war on drugs. And they say that is why they became a target. Now as you say, there are still legal battles they have to win. Rappler saying there's three active cases at this point but certainly, today they see as a victory. And we spoke to Maria Ressa , earlier today.


MARIA RESSA, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, RAPPLER: It's been a tough six years or so, right. This is -- the world was really turned upside down against Rappler. In less than two years I had ten arrest warrants. And this was the cost of trying to do journalism in our country. Is it turning around? Look, I don't think the problem is just the Philippine government. As long as our information ecosystem prioritizes the spread of lies, how can facts win? This is what social media and technology has done. So, today I am optimistic. The sun is shining, but the fight must continue.


HANCOCKS: So, this is really the first high profile test of as to whether these legal issues that have surrounded Maria Ressa and her website, where going to continue under the new president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Now we did asked her as well whether she felt that has something to do with it, the fact that she was acquitted because there is a new president. And she said it's more the fact this level of fear has been lifted, she believes, in the country since the previous president stepped down. So, she said she had faith in the legal system and she's hoping that going forward that will be the same as well. But certainly, those advocates for Maria Ressa, for press freedom within the Philippines, have been applauding what has happened today -- Max.

FOSTER: Paula in Seoul. Thank you.


Just ahead, new questions are being raised after a near collision at New York's JFK airport. We'll have the very latest on that investigation.


FOSTER: A pair of train operators in Alaska remarkably emerged unharmed after an avalanche slammed into their freight train. You can see a mountain of snow and ice bearing sections of the train there. The avalanche derailing two engines and caused a partial derailment of a third in the middle of the night on Tuesday. Firefighters assessed the situation for safety before climbing the ice and evacuating the two member crew.

Rescuers in Nepal have found another victim from the deadly Yeti Airlines crash bringing the total number of bodies recovered to 71 two more. The search continues for the last remaining person still missing. There were 72 people on board including four crew members when the plane crashed into a river gorge near the city of Pokhara on Sunday. It's the deadliest air disaster in Nepal for nearly 30 years.

We're learning new information about terrifying close call between two commercial airlines at New York's JFK International Airport. The investigation has revealed confusion and apparent mistakes that could have ended in catastrophe. CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean has the story.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are urgent new questions from investigators and experts following the near disaster on the runway at JFK. The National Transportation Safety Board tells CNN, interviews are ongoing, after a Delta Airline 737 and an American Airline 777 were on a collision course Friday night.

JFK TOWER: American 106 heavy, American 106 heavy. Hold position.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Air traffic control recordings detail how the American flight was told to go to the end of JFK's runway 4 left, but instead crossed that runway in the path of the Delta flight that was taking off, a mistake caught by air traffic controllers with just seconds to spare.

JFK TOWER: (Bleep). Delta 1943, cancel takeoff clearance. Delta 1943, cancel takeoff clearance.

DL 1943 PILOT: Rejecting.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): The Delta pilot slammed on the brakes. The FAA says stopping approximately a thousand feet before where the American Airline flight had just crossed the runway.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: It would've been catastrophic had a collision taken place.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Former NTSB managing director Peter Goelz thinks investigations will now dig in to whether the fault lies with the pilots of the American flight apparently confused over directions from air traffic control.

AA106 PILOT: The last clearance we were given we were cleared to cross. Is that correct?

JFK TOWER: American 106 heavy, we're departing runway 4L. I guess we'll listen to the tapes. But you are supposed to depart runway 4L. You're currently holding short of 31L. MUNTEAN (voice-over): After the incident, the American Airlines flight continued on to its destination of London Heathrow. The airline has not said why it did not go back to the gate.

In a new statement, American Airlines says it is conducting a full internal review and cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board in their investigation.

GOELZ: There were plenty of visual cues for this flight crew to know that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Meanwhile, the FAA has not said how it will fix its computer system that failed last week, causing a nationwide ground stop and thousands of delays and cancellations. Sources tell CNN that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is pushing for upgrades faster than planned. Even still, the FAA has no Senate-confirmed administrator leading the agency.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We're going to clear the runway. So, there will be an administrator, and that administrator can do his job.

MUNTEAN: There is one issue with the American Airlines flight continuing on to its destination of London Heathrow. Experts are worried that means the audio from the cockpit voice recorder might be lost. Typically, they record for only two hours. The NTSB wants that up to 25 hours, something the FAA has not acted on.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: The U.S. Transportation Security Administration intercepted a record number of firearms brought by passengers to airport security checkpoints in 2022. The agency added that agents stopped more than 6,500 firearms and 88 percent of them were loaded. That's an increase of almost 600 firearms from the previous record which was set in 2021.

FOSTER: And hits keep coming for Elon Musk. The Twitter and Tesla mogul is back in court this week over a tweet in 2018. Musk had considered taking Tesla private at $420 a share adding funding secured for the venture when no such timing or thing had taken place at all. The price of Tesla rocketed up and then crashed after shareholders realized musk had fudged the details. They're now suing him over the issue. Just another legal battle for one of the world's richest men.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has been released from custody after being detained by German police for a second time this week. Thunberg had joined protesters to oppose the expansion of coal mining operation in western Germany. Police say she and other demonstrators broke through a police barrier heading for a coal pit which authorities say could have collapsed under the weight of the group. Thunberg was also detained on Sunday after addressing demonstrators and joining the protest.

An alarming new study finds that children infected with COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses are more susceptible to have severe health issues. A detailed report next.



FOSTER: We want to bring you one more update on our breaking story at this hour. At least 18 people are dead, more than two dozen injured after a helicopter crashed in a residential area of Brovary, Ukraine. That's just outside the capitol of Kyiv. Authorities say all nine people on the aircraft were killed. All the other dead and injured were locals, parents and their children arriving for the day at the nearby kindergarten.

Ukraine's interior minister, his first deputy, under Secretary of State were amongst the dead. A ministry adviser says investigators are working to determine the cause of the tragedy.

New study finds when kids under 5-years-old test positive for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, they tend to be become sicker and develop more severe disease. The data shows children with another virus are more likely to be younger than five, received increase oxygen support and be admitted to the intensive care unit. A study in the journal "Pediatrics" comes amid a harsh season of respiratory viruses, of course, including RSV, flu and COVID that have overwhelmed pediatric hospitals.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the U.S. this year were far below previous winter waves but concerns remain around the risk of new variants emerging. CNN's Jaclyn Howard has more.


JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN REPORTER: Max, COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing in the United States but levels are well below what we've seen in the past. Here's a look at the past two years. In January of 2021 there was a significant spike in hospitalizations and then in January 2022 you see there's another spike again in the middle of the chart. But at the end of the chart is January 2023 and you see while there's a small rise in hospitalizations, it's nowhere near what we've seen before.

And what this means for the upcoming spring it's still unclear, but at this point in the pandemic health officials are still worried about the emergence of new coronavirus variants. And here in the United States there's been slow uptake of the updated COVID-19 vaccine booster that targets both the original strain and omicron strains of the virus. So those two concerns are still looming. Max, back to you.


FOSTER: Thank you.

Now to the Australian Open where defending champion Rafael Nadal has crashed out of the tournament in the second round.

[04:55:00] The 22 time major champion who was facing American Mackenzie McDonald on Wednesday in Melbourne, was down a set when he pulled up with a hip injury. After a medical time-out he elected to continue but unable to fully move. He was ousted in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. The this is only the second time since 2007 that the Spaniard has exited the Australian Open this early in the tournament.

Now meanwhile Nadal's great rival Novak Djokovic was given a standing ovation during his first round victory at the Australian Open on Tuesday. The Serbian is a nine-time champion in Melbourne. But ahead of the tournament last year, he was deported because he was not vaccinated for COVID-19. Djokovic was ruthless in his match against Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena winning in straight sets.

Actor Channing Tatum says he may remake one of the most famous films of the 1990s.

Yes, "Ghost" may be coming back to life. The original 1990 film starred the late Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore and was nominated for the best picture Oscar. Tatum best known for his role as a stripper in the "Magic Mike" series. Says his production company already has the rights to the movie and plans to do something different with it. Tatum is also gearing up for the final "Magic Mike" movie which will be released on February 10th, just in time for Valentine's Day.

Thanks for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. "EARLY START" with Christine Romans is next right here on CNN.