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California Continues Experiencing Severe Storms With Heavy Rain And Flooding; Mexican Drug Cartel That Kidnapped Four Americans And Killed Two Issues Apology And Turns Over Those It Says Are Responsible; Collapse Of Silicon Valley Bank, Second Largest Bank Failure In U.S. History; Police And Protestors Continue To Clash In Atlanta Over Construction Of Police Training Facility; Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman Checks Into Walter Reed Hospital For Depression; Pope Francis' 10 Years As Head Of Catholic Church Reviewed. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 11, 2023 - 14:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

And we begin this hour in California where the flood threat is intensifying. Powerful drenching storms hitting the northern and central parts of the state brought on by an atmospheric river. Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency. A levee breach has forced evacuations in Monterey County and floodwaters are causing severe road damage as well. The California National Guard is now on the scene in Santa Cruz to support emergency services.

For some residents, the rising water is simply too much.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't live like this. How do you live like this? How do I have my kids here? How do I have my elderly mother live here where I carry her out of her house?


WHITFIELD: CNN's Mike Valerio and CNN meteorologist Britley Ritz are tracking the latest. So Mike, to you first. What are you seeing?

MIKE VALERIO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, we're in the heart of Pajaro, California, right now, and this is the heart of the flood rescue response effort. If you look around us, the area is inundated. And as you mentioned at the top of the show, it is flooded because we have this levee that is upstream in the Pajaro River that failed around midnight local time. So all of that water as the cold front quickly comes through, that water is dumped essentially here all around us.

So what we've been seeing, Fredricka, since dawn, since we moved positions from the berry farm we talked to you last time until now, National Guard troops have been coming up and down the central drag of Pajaro for several hours now rescuing people. You can just see the extent of the water.

And there's still people who are trapped in these homes. As we were crossing the bridge before our live hit with you a couple minutes ago, there were family members who were trying to get through, saying I have a daughter or my dog who are in these homes right now. So if you actually notice, over on my right-hand shoulder, there are people, they are not trapped, per se, but it's still difficult for them on this balcony on this apartment building over here to get around.

So we have these people over here, difficult for them to get where they need to go to safety. But we also, Fredricka, witnessed the rescue of a couple, Sierra (ph), Freddie (ph), and their dog Zeus (ph), about an hour ago. The National Guard came to their home because it was too dangerous for them to just travel a block away from our live shot position right now. They said they woke up around 8:00 a.m., saw floodwaters all around them, saw that the levee had broken on social media, and they called 911. And the National Guard was here in minutes.

So it's a little bit of a lull right now, a quiescent period. But Fred, as we get into tomorrow and the next atmospheric river coming down the pike on Tuesday, we, again, still have a 100-foot section of this levee that has been compromised. What is going to happen when more precipitation comes here to the central coast of California, that is still an open question, Fred.

WHITFIELD: My goodness, it is uncanny. It's really remarkable to see these images and see the destruction caused by all of this water, this atmospheric river.

Britley, so the forecast was there will be more into midweek next week. Is there a way in which to gauge how much?

BRITLEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Fredricka, as we were talking about, those rivers just continuing to rise no matter how much more rain we are expected to get. And while we do have that lull, we still have that westerly wind picking up, which again, brings in the scattered chances for showers in between each atmospheric river.

So you'll see the yellows, hence the slight risk for the flooding along the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada and then spreading up for tomorrow on the northern coastline of California, holding onto at least another one to three inches of rain on top of what we've already picked up through Sunday. And the Sierra Nevada picking up an additional 36 plus inches, feet of snow on top of what we've already had.

All that moisture has to go somewhere. It's pushing eastward. So as it does, it brings in the blizzard conditions across the northern part of the lower 48 and the severe weather across the southern half. Blizzard warnings in effect across the northern plains, visibility down near zero. Snow continues to fall as it rushes across Minnesota into Wisconsin and now pushing into central and eastern Iowa. The southern edge of it bringing in the threat of severe weather late

tonight and into Sunday morning. Hail being one of the bigger concerns as it pushes into the southeast, then wind becomes a concern as well as the threat for isolated tornadoes. Flooding also a concern as well, one to two, possibly three inches of rain expected there.

But again, the biggest concerns are highlighted in yellow from Arkansas down into the Florida Panhandle, stretching across southern Mississippi, back into Alabama and Georgia as we move into Sunday, Fred.


WHITFIELD: Wow, a system impacting so many. All right, thank you so much Britley Ritz and Mike Valerio, appreciate it.

CNN has obtained and geolocated new video showing the four Americans who were assaulted and kidnapped by drug cartel members in Mexico, and the video shows the activity just hours before they were attacked. This Facebook livestream video was taken by one of the victims, and it shows the group driving to a medical appointment in Matamoros. But they never got to the appointment. CNN's Josh Campbell takes a closer look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Y'all ain't never been to Mexico. Y'all don't know what it's like in Mexico.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: New video obtained by CNN from inside the vehicle of four Americans just prior to their kidnapping in Mexico.



CAMPBELL: The Americans shown and heard on Facebook Live just after they crossed into Mexico from the United States. A government source told CNN the purpose of the visit was for Latavia Washington McGee to obtain a medical procedure, but they never made it. A timeline from Mexican officials indicated that about two hours after entering the country, a gray Volkswagen Jetta starts to tail the Americans van, followed by several more vehicles.

At 11:45 a.m. their vehicle is attacked by suspected members of the Gulf Cartel. Bystander video of the aftermath shows the victims being loaded into a truck. The bodies of the two deceased Americans are now in the United States awaiting an autopsy. As the FBI continues to work with Mexican authorities to investigate, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico is calling for authorities to aggressively combat the cartels.

KEN SALAZAR, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MEXICO (through translator): They have to be dismantled. We have to do this work together with the Mexican government.


WHITFIELD: Josh Campbell, thank you so much for that.

So joining me right now, CNN's Rafael Romo. To get a point of view like that is remarkable. Just as the point of view of the actual assault and kidnapping of the four. And now we've got an apology letter from the cartel. There's so much that is mindboggling about all the events that have taken place.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: We need to just stop a moment and look at the big picture. It's a criminal group telling the world, people, we are a criminal group, this is our territory, this is what we're doing. And oh, by the way, we didn't have anything to do with the kidnapping and disappearance of the Americans. I wanted to read a portion of the letter.

WHITFIELD: And here are the people that we believe are responsible.

ROMO: That's right. This is what they said, just for perspective. The drug cartel's Scorpion group, this is the group that kidnapped the people, "strongly condemns the events of last Friday. For this reason we decided to hand over those directly involved and responsible for the acts," and this is the key, "who at all times acted under their own determination and indiscipline and against the rules in which the Gulf Cartel always operates." They're talking about rules.

WHITFIELD: So separation now, right.

ROMO: A criminal group talking about rules. It's just their own twisted version of reality, trying not to get authorities to be angry at them, trying not to have the Mexican Army come over, which already happened, and not to anger the United States too much. It's just very bizarre.

WHITFIELD: So an interesting kind of psychological warfare, we're going to sound like we're genuine and apologetic, but really they have ulterior motives in which to do this. Excuse me, wow.

ROMO: Yes, absolutely. They want to keep things quiet because the quieter they are the better they can do their thing, the better they're able to commit their crimes.

And just to give you an idea of who they are, the Gulf Cartel has been around for at least a couple of decades, but in the past they have fractured. And I was looking at a report, the recent report by the Congressional Research Service, and this is what they say about them. Let's see if we can put the quote on screen, please. "The Gulf Cartel was the main competitor challenging Sinaloa," that's the Sinaloa Cartel," for trafficking routes in the early 2000s, but it now battles its former enforcement wing, Los Zetas, and Zeta Cartel splinter groups over territory in northeastern Mexico."

The main thing here, Fred, is that these groups have fragmented, and that's what has created even more violence and crime in that part of Mexico. Let's remember, it's right across the border from Brownsville, Texas. WHITFIELD: Let's talk about the kidnappings. And "The Washington Post"

has an article today talking about the hundreds of Americans who have been missing for a very long time. Mexican authorities say hundreds of thousands -- or tens of thousands of Mexicans have gone missing for a long time.


And now we're hearing this new report that the U.S. State Department is looking into the case of three American women who are believed to have been missing. They crossed the border for some kind of merchandise shopping kind of exchange. What's happening here, of these many reported kidnappings or missing persons cases, and either the cooperation or lack thereof between Mexican and U.S. authorities?

ROMO: When you hear that, the word that comes to mind is "impunity." And the reason why there are so many kidnappings in Mexico of not only Mexicans, which, by the way, there have been about 100,000 Mexicans kidnapped in Mexico in the last couple of decades. The criminal groups feel they can act brazenly. We have a video of the kidnapping of four Americans in broad daylight. They picked them up. They shot them, and they took them away, and nobody lifted a finger, nobody stopped it. So that gives you an idea of the situation that Mexicans are living on a day-to-day basis.

Now, in Mexico, there's a lot of anger at the fact that the Americans were found -- yes, it's very tragic, two of them died, and we're all very sad about that, but they were found within five days. There are families waiting for years.

WHITFIELD: Right. But I wonder if the videotaping -- I mean the videotaping of the alleged capture, in that moment, that is what's unique here. And that, perhaps, helped that incident gain attention, unlike previous cases that have not been documented in a public fashion. Might that be the big difference here as to, I guess, the quickness of the response and the release of two of the four?

ROMO: It is true. It is true. It is a valid point and it's a very important point. But we have seen in the past images of similar acts committed against Mexican citizens. The people's question is, if you were able to find the Americans in five days, what happened to the 100,000 Mexicans who are still missing?

And don't take me wrong. I'm glad we acted quickly. The point is that they should have done the same thing or they should do the same thing for everybody regardless of who they are.

WHITFIELD: And of course, a lot of family members of people who remain missing have said the very same thing.

So now there's the issue of this kind of tourism on lots of different scales in Mexico, whether it's pleasure, whether it's medical tourism. And now is the Mexican government trying to send a message that it is still OK to come here even though you have these recorded incidents?

ROMO: It's a huge industry. I was able to be in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago doing a story specifically on medical tourism. And I was talking to an American couple, and they told me, hey, we come here and we come to a doctor, whether it's just a primary care physician or specialist, we pay 40 bucks for each visit. So that gives you an idea of, compare to that what happens here. That gives you an idea of why so many people go there in spite of the fact they know how dangerous it can be.

WHITFIELD: There are a lot of risks, not just in the travel, but also the risks and sometimes the procedures if things go wrong.

ROMO: That's right.

WHITFIELD: What do you do? All right, Rafael Romo, thanks so much.

ROMO: Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.

Still to come, Silicon Valley Bank collapsing after failing to raise capital. It's the second largest bank failure in U.S. history now. What does that mean for customers, next.



WHITFIELD: Right now, some tech companies are scrambling to make payroll after the sudden implosion of Silicon Valley Bank. The SVB was a top source of funding for tech startups and held more than $200 billion in assets. The collapse makes it the second largest failure of a financial institution in American history. The fallout sent stocks plummeting, sending investors into a tizzy. The Dow had its worst week since June. SVB is now under the control of the FDIC which insures deposits of up to $250,000. The agency says all insured depositors will have access to their insured deposits by no later than Monday morning.

With us now is the host of CNN Business Nightcap, Jon Sarlin. He is also a producer for CNN Digital. Good to see you again, Jon. So can you explain why this happened?

JON SARLIN, PRODUCER, CNN DIGITAL: Right. This is an old school bank run in a modern economy, and the real reason that people are pointing to for this are interest rates. In 2022 the Fed started to dramatically raise interest rates, and for a bank like SVB, that has had a really significant effect on its balance sheet. The bank holds bonds, which because of increased interest rates, are now worth less money.

On the flipside of that, the broader tech economy sector has been hit by those raising interest rates where this is a frothy economy that really relished in the cheap money that was being tossed around for the last decade plus. Those two factors led to the bank on Wednesday having to sell some of its bonds for a loss. That created a massive ripple effect in Silicon Valley where group chats and WhatsApp chats started talking about, hey, should we be getting our money out of this bank, will it be available in a week, in a month?

Peter Thiel, it was reported by Bloomberg, one of the most significant PCs in the Valley, had his companies pull their money by Thursday. All of that led to panic. And by Friday, California regulators moved in and took over the bank.

WHITFIELD: So some were lucky they got their money, others not so lucky. So what about the bank? Is it done now, or can it actually recover?


SARLIN: So the bank is now under the control of the FDIC, and what they are doing are they are going through the books of the bank and they are trying to determine how much, what the assets are and how it can return its money to its customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. When that will happen, we don't know. What we know is that by Monday, around $250,000, which is the insured amount, will be available to customers.

But these are big customers, $250,000 is not a lot of money for them. So the question is when they will have access to those greater funds. You can look at a company like Roku, the streaming media company. They filed what's called an 8-K with the SEC, and it said 26 percent of its cash reserves are tied up in SVB. They said they don't know when they will have access to that money.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. And so we know that stocks plummeted on Friday as a result. And what kind of implications might it have broadly on the economy?

SARLIN: So experts that CNN talked to say that they don't think this will be a 2008 scenario where we're seeing contagion spread throughout the broader economy. And the reason they point to is that SVB is a focus bank, right. It focuses on the tech sector. It's called Silicon Valley Bank. So because of that, they don't think it will spread. But we're starting to see effects in the tech world. One thing to keep an eye out, crypto. USDC, which is one of the largest so-called stablecoins, lost its peg because its parent company had money tied in SVB. So the truth is, we really don't know what the fallout of this will look like yet.

WHITFIELD: Wow, it's a frightening scenario. John Sarlin, thanks so much.

Meantime, tensions remain high around a proposed police training facility dubbed "Cop City" in Atlanta. Despite a peaceful demonstration Thursday night, additional events are set for this weekend as part of a week of action. And now the family of a 26-year- old protester fatally shot at the site says an independent autopsy shows their son's hands were raised when police took action. They plan to release the private autopsy results on Monday.

CNN's Isabel Rosales takes a look back to remind us how we got here.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) ROSALES: A nearly 400 acre woodland in southeast Atlanta thrust into

the national spotlight. A "violent clash between activists and police ended with 23 people facing domestic terrorism charges last weekend."

KAMAU FRANKLIN, ACTIVIST: I think it was an overreaction to the destruction of property. The question is property over people, I choose people over property.

ROSALES: Police claim violent agitators conducted a coordinated attack on officers and construction equipment.

CHIEF DARIN SCHIERBAUM, ATLANTA POLICE: When you throw Molotov cocktails, large rocks, a number of items at officers, you're only intent is to harm.

ROSALES: Protestors rebuke the claims and say police indiscriminately arrested people in a park separate from this violence. It's the latest flash point in a years-long saga against what activists are calling Cop City.

The summer of 2021, the city announces plans to turn 85 acres of forest into a state of the art public safety training center to help boost morale and recruitment efforts.

But activists fiercely pushed back, and the Stop Cop City movement is born. Among their worries, environmental harm to one of the largest remaining green spaces in the area. Opponents view the project as a response to the 2020 protests against police killings of black Americans, saying they say the facility will militarize police and further contribute to incidents of police brutality. Despite the public outcry, Atlanta city council green lights the project in September of 2021.

KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, FORMER MAYOR OF ATLANTA: There's still going to be an urban forest there. This is the beginning of a very long conversation.

ROSALES: Several people are arrested after security cameras capture an apparent Molotov cocktail style incendiary thrown toward officers in May of 2022. Several months later, five more demonstrators are arrested and charged with domestic terrorism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We used to call that a sit-in protest. Now it's terrorism.

ROSALES: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation claims activists threw rocks at police cars and first responders.

In January, tensions reach a new level after law enforcement officers fatally shoot Manuel Tera, a 26-year-old activist, while carrying out a clearing operation of encampments near the future facility. A state trooper was also shot and wounded in the incident. But Teran's mother says her son was a pacifist.

BELKIS TERAN, MOTHER OF ACTIVIST KILLED IN POLICE CONFRONTATION: All Manuel wanted to do was to protect the forest. They have no malice and no intention of committing illegal acts.

ROSALES: The police killing leads to protests in downtown Atlanta. Police say they become destructive with some in the crowd breaking windows and attacking police vehicles.


MICHAEL REGISTER, DIRECTOR, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: Let me reiterate, there's a difference between protests and what's happening there. And what you just read was being tweeted out I think validates that we're dealing not with protesters, but with criminals.

ROSALES: Neither side appears to be budging.

MATTHEW JOHNSON, ACTIVIST: It has been essentially a war of attrition by the city of Atlanta, yet still our numbers and support continue to grow.

ROSALES: As protesters mobilize in hopes of stopping Cop City, local and state leaders insist the training facility will be built.


ROSALES (on camera): Fred, this topic is not easy. It is nuanced, it is complex. One thing, however, is clear, that protesters, Atlanta officials, and law enforcement pretty much don't see eye to eye on anything, from the purpose of this future training facility to what they think will be the impact of this training facility to even these interactions that have happened between protesters and law enforcement.

So here is where things stand right now. The Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, he recently announced that the city and DeKalb County, where the site is going to, have reached an agreement to progress further on this facility. Those construction permits should be issued soon.

WHITFIELD: But the method of the protest, we don't know if that's going to evolve at all?

ROSALES: Right. Something to keep an eye on.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, appreciate it.

ROSALES: Coming up, organizers say half-a-million Israelis are in the streets today protesting Prime Minister Netanyahu's plan to give Israel's parliament the power to overrule the supreme court. We'll have a live report from Jerusalem.



WHITFIELD: Right now, protest organizers in Israel say half-a-million people are in the streets across the country voicing their opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to overhaul the judicial system. This is the 10th straight week of mass protests there. The proposal would allow lawmakers to overturn supreme court decisions with a simple majority. Many fear the changes will weaken the country's highest court and erode democratic checks and balances.

CNN's Hadas Gold joins us now from the protests, which are very boisterous and quite emotional right now. So do these protesters believe that they will be able to stop these changes?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Fred, I think that they feel as though they have no choice. This is really the only avenue they have to fight against what they see as a threat to Israeli democracy. Actually, the protesters behind me right now are chanting things like, "Israel is not a democracy," they're chanting things like, "Shame on the government."

And what's really interesting is actually I've been seeing a mix of people at these protests. I just saw a sign of somebody saying "I'm a right winger against these reforms." Keep in mind, this is the most rightwing government in Israeli history. And I think that goes to show you the sense of some of the people who are against these reforms.

Keep in mind that having half a million people out in the streets across Israel as the organizers claim, Israel only has a population of about 9 million people, so that's a pretty significant proportion of people coming out on a Saturday night to protest this. We are just outside of the Israeli president's residence actually in Jerusalem, and it was Israeli President Isaac Herzog who just a few days ago gave an impassioned speech, speaking out for the first time specifically against these reforms, saying that these reforms as they are written threaten Israel's democratic foundations and warning, he said, that the country is at a point of no return.

He's been pleading for both the opposition and the current coalition government to come to the negotiating table, to come forward with a series of reforms that everybody could agree to. But it seems that so far these pleas are falling on deaf ears from the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They feel as though these reforms are sorely needed to rebalance the branches of government. They also have the votes that they need. They have more than enough of a majority in order to get these reforms through, and it doesn't seem as though they plan to slow down anytime soon. In fact, this week they're planning a major legislative blitz that will help push these reforms even closer to becoming final.

But organizers here say that they are not slowing down anytime soon. They've been out in the streets now for more than two months. They plan further what they call days of disruption. These will be things like you shutting down the highways, slowing down operations at the airport as they did last week. And today they announced they will actually be taking some of these protests abroad. They say they plan to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he goes to an official trip to Berlin later this week. They will be protesting his trip there specifically against these judicial reforms. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Hadas Gold, thank you so much for that.

Still ahead, Senator John Fetterman is working from Walter Reed Hospital after checking himself in for depression, and it's reigniting the conversation about mental health and politics. A former congressman and clinical psychologist joining me to discuss next.



WHITFIELD: Welcome back. New photographs were released this week of Senator John Fetterman working from Walter Reed Hospital. Fetterman checked him in on February 16th, seeking treatment for depression, a little less than a year after suffering a stroke.

And now his decision is reigniting some conversations around politics and mental health. It wasn't until 2019 when Congressman Seth Moulton ran for president that a candidate from a major party talked openly about mental health treatment. And others like Senator Tina Smith and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy have come forward to talk openly about their past mental health issues. But they may be the exception and not necessarily the rule. Or perhaps that's the question.

Former Congressman Brian Baird practiced clinical psychology for 20 years before his election and he's joining me now. So good to see you. So I would love to get your reaction to Senator Fetterman and what he is going through right now.

BRIAN BAIRD, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I think it's so important to understand that in my life, I've never met a single person who has not had a family member, a dear friend or a coworker who has been affected by mental illness. We all deal with these challenges in some way or another. The difference is that people like Senator Fetterman and all members of Congress, most celebrities have to deal with the fact that their struggles become public. But in the case of politicians, they're not only public, but they have people waiting to spend tens or maybe hundreds of millions of dollars to tear you down in the hopes of gaining your seat.

So I have immense respect for Senator Fetterman and for Congressman Moulton and others who have the courage and integrity to come forward and say, you know what, I'm a human being, and I'm struggling right now, and I need some help, because that sets an example for all of us.


WHITFIELD: And I wonder if you can elaborate kind of on your concerns, or perhaps even worries about Senator Fetterman and what he is going through, because what is unique here, too, is he is a stroke victim. And both the high powered nature of campaigning and high powered nature of the job of being a senator, he didn't have a whole lot of space in between his spoke and what the public was able to see as recovery, and now in a very public manner it is publicized and being fully appreciated, too, that he has checked himself in to Walter Reed.

BAIRD: Well, he is dealing with a number of issues. Neurologically, that's a challenge right there. On top of that, the stresses of the job, it's hard to describe if you haven't been through it, especially the kind of campaign Senator Fetterman had to deal with, and the kind of attacks not only he, but his family were subjected to. Some of those were just terrible.

And so he's got a lot on his plate. I think it's admirable that he's doing his best working with his staff to try to stay abreast of the issues and stay informed and cast votes as needed. But recovery from a stroke or a depression can take a while. It doesn't mean we can't function at some level. It just means it takes a while and we need to adapt to that.

WHITFIELD: Do you have any thoughts or concerns about the idea of getting treatment, perhaps also still recovering from the stroke, because that is ongoing. I have family members who have had that experience. It takes a long time, even when you think some of your recovery is over, and then working while being treated for depression, that seems like a lot.

BAIRD: It is a lot. But he and his team and his medical professionals and psychological professionals will have to help him modulate that and manage it in bite-sized chunks. And that's not easy to do.

The demands of serving in the House or the Senate are incredible for everybody, and all of us have to learn to manage that in some way. He's got some new challenges, but I'm confident that if he stays with it, the recovery can happen. People make progress when they're treated for depression, and we really have to underscore that. If you deny it or you try to hide it, you're not going to get better. But if you address it and get support, you can make substantial improvement and get back to positive function. And he's an amazing human being, and I'm hopeful that he'll be able to do that.

WHITFIELD: It's been long established that family has always been important in John Fetterman's life. And there was a tweet from John Fetterman's wife with photos of the kids bringing him handwritten messages of support, that family dynamic. Talk to me about how that is key in the recovery.

BAIRD: Well, having support of family and friends, when people feel depressed, they feel so lonely. They feel like they have a dark secret inside and they can't afford to share it. That's for almost everyone who is depressed, but imagine being on the public stage, as public as Senator Fetterman and his family are.

One of the tragedies of this is some folks and some networks have chosen to attack the senator's wife and his family and imply that they're not supportive. As far as I can tell, they're being hugely supportive, and that's so important, because you need that support network. We all do, right. Let's face it. When we're struggling, we need people to be there with us and for us, and we need to have the courage to say, I need some help right now.

WHITFIELD: Yes, indeed. Brian Baird, so glad you could be with us. Thanks so much.

BAIRD: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And in just a couple of days, Pope Francis marks his tenth year as the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Has he delivered on the progressive agenda that he promised? We'll discuss next.



WHITFIELD: It may seem hard to believe, but this Monday will mark the 10-year anniversary of Pope Francis' election to head of the Catholic Church. Formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, he became the 266th Pope and the first from Latin America. Francis came to the papacy in 2013 after a retirement announcement from then Pope Benedict XVI, which shocked the world. I want to bring in now Bishop Robert Barron for more on the Pope's legacy and his ongoing legacy. He leads the Diocese of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota and was appointed to that role by Francis in 2022. So good to see you, Bishop.


WHITFIELD: So what stands out to you as we reflect on a decade under this papacy?

BARRON: It's extraordinary, isn't it? When he was elected, I was there in 2013 when he was elected, and I don't think many would have predicted that he would be Pope 10 years hence, because he was elected at 76. But he's had an extraordinary papacy.

What stands out to me is the word "misericordia" in his Italian, mercy. He's the Pope of mercy, and he wants to show the merciful face of God. I think that's a theme that runs through a lot of his writing, a lot of his preaching, and a lot of his public style. The compassionate, gentle, merciful face of God is what he shows to the world.

WHITFIELD: And there were a lot of expectations, right? When Francis was elected Pope, there was great anticipation that he would be the Pope to bring the church into a more modern era. Do you feel like he's done that?


BARRON: Well, I don't know if I would put it that way. I know for sure talking to some of the cardinals who elected him that the task they had for him was to address issues within the Roman Curia, to look at issues of transparency, of some financial mismanagement, to address that problem, which indeed he has. Over the past 10 years he's met on a regular basis and has just announced a major reform of the Curia. I think that's what they had in mind.

Now, indeed, he emerged, I think, as this figure maybe they didn't anticipate in its entirety, but I think that was the task they set for him. If you want to see him in left-right categories, again it's hard. A poor church on behalf of the poor, that's a very strong theme in him, might be more of a left-leaning theme. Certainly, the Pope of the environment. At the same time, he's fiercely oppose to abortion, he's fiercely opposed to what he calls gender ideology. And just in the last day he referred to it as a type of ideological colonization. So to put him in left-right categories isn't going to work.

WHITFIELD: What about on the issue of elevating women? He was the one who said he would be calling for women to play a greater role in the faith, but then many Catholics feel like there's still a long way to go. Do you think the Vatican will go further to give women greater places within the global church?

BARRON: I think so. And he's done that in his 10 years. He's put women into very influential positions within the governance of the church. But he's not taken the step toward women's ordination. So another goal of the Catholic progressive side would have been women's ordination. And the Pope has not gone for that. But at the same time, as you suggest correctly, he has put women in very influential positions, and I think that's set an example to a lot of us throughout the church.

WHITFIELD: What are your concerns about his health? When we've seen him publicly, this is a Pope Francis who visibly seems to have slowed down. He came into the papacy with such vigor. His predecessor, Benedict, became the only Pope since the 1400s to resign. Do you have any expectations of his endurance?

BARRON: We don't know. He's an 86-year-old man. So I suppose, like everyone that age, he's got some health concerns. He had that major surgery a couple summers ago.

I saw him in September, I was over in Rome to give a paper, and then the group had an audience with the Pope afterwards. And certainly, he's slowed down. He's got the difficulty walking. But I was within three or four feet of him, and he looked pretty robust to me, he looked pretty healthy. So I wouldn't predict his demise any time soon. He's certainly struggling with mobility issues, and he's a man of 86 years. But I don't know, I wouldn't say he's in terrible shape.

WHITFIELD: OK, and then what do you see as the greatest challenge facing the pontiff and the church right now?

BARRON: Well, he would say at the heart of his papacy is evangelization. And there he stands in the tradition of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and indeed the Second Vatican Council. I heard him say this at an audience he had with the California bishops when I was bishop out there, and he said the key to my papacy is his document, "Evangelii Gaudium," which means "The Joy of the Gospel," and it's his statement on evangelization, how do we proclaim the faith in the world today. That I think is what he's most interested in. And I would say all of his teaching centers around that basic conviction.

WHITFIELD: Bishop Robert Barron, thank you so much for being with us today.

BARRON: God bless you. Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.

Still to come, American skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin wins her 87th World Cup race and is now the most decorated skier of all time. Details straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


WHITFIELD: Extraordinary, in a word. American alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin has made history. Today the 27-year-old broke the all-time World Cup win total, surpassing a long-held record that few thought would be eclipsed. CNN's Andy Scholes has the details.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, Mikaela Shiffrin now stands alone at the top of the mountain. This morning in Sweden she got her 87th World Cup win, which is now the most ever by a skier, man or woman. Shiffrin just so impressive, especially in her final run, the slalom, with the record on the line. The Colorado native finished winning by nearly a full second. Shiffrin's family was there to celebrate with her at the bottom of the mountain. The win puts her ahead of Swedish skiing legend Ingemar Stenmark, who held the record for most World Cup wins for 34 years, and it was a record many thought would never be broken.


MIKAELA SHIFFRIN, U.S. SKIER IS ALL-TIME LEADER WITH 87 WORLD CUP WINS: Pretty hard to comprehend that thought. But the best feeling is to ski on the second run, when of course you want to win. You have a lead, so you have to sort of be smart, but also I just wanted to be fast, too, and ski the second run like its own race. So I did it exactly how I wanted, and that's amazing.


SCHOLES: And Shiffrin is not done yet. She's going to race more next week in the World Cup finals. And Stenmark said he thinks Shiffrin could get to 100 World Cup wins one day, which is just an incredible number to think about. Shiffrin is going to celebrate her 28th birthday on Monday, and Fred, she will now do so as the greatest skier of all time.

WHITFIELD: Go on, girl. What a birthday gift.