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Levee Breach Triggers Evacuations In Monterey County, CA; Texas Urges People To Avoid Spring Break Travel Across Border; U.S. Markets Plunge After Silicon Valley Bank Shutdown; House GOP Plots Jan. 6 Probes; Trump Weighs Appearing Before NY Grand Jury In Hush Money Probe; Yemen Struggles To Get Necessary Aid As Millions Starve; The Debate Over Daylight Saving Time. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired March 11, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in New York.
Much of California is under a state of emergency this afternoon, and mandatory evacuations are under way in parts of Monterey County on the central coast.
A short time ago we received this drone video of a levee that failed this morning. As you can see, the waters rushed through the breach and into a nearby neighborhood. The floodwaters have washed away roads and bridges and cut off some communities in the area.
This is new video we also have coming in from Springville where many have lost their homes and belongings in that area. California is reeling from its tenth atmospheric river of the winter in the central and northern parts of the state. It's dumping huge amounts of rain and snow on the ground that is already saturated.
CNN's Mike Valerio joins us form Monterey County. Mike, you spoke to a county supervisor a short time ago there in Pajaro, what have you learned?
MIKE VALERIO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he told us Jim, that there are hundreds of people now who are in shelters, and those shelters are filled to capacity. And the people who are in those shelters have been taken from neighborhoods all around us, Jim, taken to higher ground.
So we asked the supervisor how many people are we talking about. He said around 100 in a church in Salinas about a few miles south of us, John Steinbeck country we're talking about. And then multiple magnitudes of hundreds, he said, at the county fairgrounds here in Monterey County.
And Jim, as you mentioned at the top of the show, this is all happening, this whole tableau, because of the failure of this levee -- those dramatic new drone pictures that we have into the NEWSROOM right here just showing you everything that is happening, the cause and effect here.
Around midnight, water overtook the levee that had been redesigned for the Pajaro River about two decades ago, they had huge flooding and they needed to solve this problem for this kind of desperate region that had a history of flooding.
And then today we fast forward and see all of the damage so far. Now, listen to the supervisor talk about the situation in his own words, just listen to what he told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUIS A. ALEJO, MONTEREY COUNTY SUPERVISOR: Today is the worst case scenario for this community of Pajaro, a community that is heavily Latino, low-income families, farm workers. We worked so hard to try to prioritize this community and avoid flooding.
The last time we had major flooding was 28 years ago in this community. And we know that these are the folks who could least afford this type of hardship on their jobs, on their businesses, on their homes.
This is very costly. They know from the last time that recovering from flooding like this takes a long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIO: And that's what he wanted to convey to everybody watching across the country. You know Jim, California is this place of halcyon coastline, movie stars, and extreme prosperity.
But there are people who are hurting here. Again, working the land, and just about two miles behind us. We started off this morning in flooded berry fields with Fredricka Whitfield.
Jim it's going to take two months for those fields to recover because if a flood happens in this part of California, those berry fields upon which people rely here have to remain fallow for two months. So that could mean people out of work.
Then we fast forward to Tuesday and Wednesday, Jim, when we get the 11th atmospheric river of this system with more water likely headed all around us with that levee still in bad shape, Jim.
ACOSTA: Yes, this extreme weather is not letting up. All right. Mike Valerio in Pajaro, California, thanks so much for that.
Texas is urging people not to visit Mexico for spring break. The state's Department of Public Safety there warning a spike in drug cartel violence across the border could cost travelers their lives. This as we learn of yet another group from Texas now missing after crossing into Mexico two weeks ago.
CNN's Rafael Romo joins us with details on the FBI investigation. Rafael, what are you learning? RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. It's been just a little over
a week since four Americans from South Carolina were attacked and kidnapped in Mexico. As we reported, two of them tragically died.
And now there's a new mystery. Three women living in Texas are believed to be missing in Mexico after they crossed the U.S. border to sell clothes at a flea market over two weeks ago, according to police.
ROMO: Authorities say the women are two sisters and a friend who crossed into Mexico on February 24. They were headed to the city of Montemorelos in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon to sell clothes at a flea market a week before the four Americans were kidnapped on March 3rd.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson told CNN earlier today that they're aware of reports of three U.S. citizens missing in Mexico but a missing persons report in Mexico says they're Mexican citizens. Mexican authorities say 80 members of law enforcement agencies there are investigating, actively looking for these women.
And back to the latest on the kidnapped Americans, Jim, CNN has obtained and geolocated new video showing all four of them just hours before they were attacked. It was a Facebook Live stream video taken by one of the victims.
The images show the group driving to a medical appointment in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas but they never showed up there.
Jim, back to you.
ACOSTA: All right. And Rafael, we've heard a lot about medical tourism and Americans going to Mexico for their services. It's been going on for a long time.
Can you explain why this is so popular? I assume it's less expensive there, and that's the draw?
ROMO: Yes, that's a key point. And Mexico is actually the second most popular destination for medical tourism globally. In 2020 alone, there were an estimated 1.4 million to 3 million patients traveling into the country to take advantage of an expensive treatment, according to Patients Beyond Borders an international health care consulting company contacted by CNN.
What's interesting, Jim, is that Matamoros is not considered a primary medical travel destination. That's what Joseph Woodman, the company's founder, told us. He said that the reason has to do largely because there are no internationally accredited medical centers or specialty clinics there or in the immediate region, as was the case in larger Mexican cities like Cancun and Tijuana.
How much can Americans save by traveling to Mexico? Woodman told us that on average anywhere from had 40 percent to 60 percent. So big savings but again, the risks are definitely there as we have seen in the last couple of weeks, Jim.
ACOSTA: All right. Rafael Romo, thank you very much for that.
Some startup companies are scrambling to keep their businesses from going under after the stunning collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. Its sudden shutdown Friday morning marked the largest failure of a U.S. Bank since 2008 and the second largest in U.S. history. And now many in the tech industry are in limbo.
Matt Higgins joins us. He's an executive fellow and teacher at Harvard Business School and the author of "Burn the Boats". He was also a guest judge on "Shark Tank".
Matt, I mean a lot of people are looking at this financial news and wondering, you know, is this Deja vu all over again. I mean could this just be an isolated incident affecting tech startup companies in California, or could this trigger some kind of domino effect? What do you think
MATT HIGGINS, EXECUTIVE FELLOW, HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL: I think it's actually very significance. The reality is there are tons of companies, thousands of companies that depended upon this one bank, Silicon Valley Bank. And they literally had their deposits with this bank, $160 billion, so they can't make payroll.
And that money is now being tied up by the FDIC as it figures out what to do. So all across America, a lot of brands that people watching right now love, their boards are meeting trying to figure out how are we going to get through the week.
ACOSTA: Right. I mean, but the startup economy has always been risky. I mean that's part of the gig. Why is this bank failure so chaotic with the run on the bank and you know, investors scrambling -- these are smart guys out there. Why did they freak out?
HIGGINS: I mean that is the question we have to ask. To make it very simple, the bottom line is the bank had invested those deposits in treasuries that were basically two-year maturity.
We all know interest rates have gone up dramatically. When that happens, the value of those bonds goes down. In order to bring in capital, they sold some of those bonds, about $20 billion at a $2 billion loss.
And that's what triggered the panic when people said, wait a minute, is there enough collateral to backstop these deposits, and then big VC (ph) funds started pulling their money out on Thursday and Friday. The government had to step in to stop it.
ACOSTA: And I mean, how did rising interest rates play into this? I think you were just alluding to this. And you know, does this call into question or complicate what has been going on at the Fed, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates? Could something like this happen again with other banks, other financial institutions, that they might over there at the Federal Reserve say, wait a minute, maybe we shouldn't be raising these rates so quickly? HIGGINS: I don't think that's what they're going to do. The way it
simply played in is just the relationship between the value of those assets, those treasury bonds that they had, they weren't required because of the size of the bank to mark those to market.
HIGGINS: That's the real question that's going to be asked. Those regulations were pulled back to exempt these types of banks, and they're not the only ones.
So I think what's happening all across the country is people are assessing risk with their particular bank. How many of these types of, you know, instruments does the bank hold? Are they financially sound? That's what the government is doing right now as we speak.
But to zoom out, the big picture here is that these are jobs, right. these are lots of companies, you're talking in some cases 60,000 companies -- lots of jobs, lots of innovative companies and they may not be around if we don't figure out a solution in the next few days.
ACOSTA: And so -- I mean can another buyer emerge for the bank? Are we talking about a bailout? I hate to use that word, but a financial rescue of some sort?
HIGGINS: Yes. I think this is really important, too. The word bailout has come up. Some have said, you know, a pox on all their houses. These start ups were inflated in their valuation. That could be true.
But the reality is imagine this is a restaurant where you have your payroll just happens to be with your bank -- no one expects your bank to disappear overnight.
So I don't think this is about a bailout. This is about returning people's money that was deposited with a bank. So there could be a white knight. I'm sure those negotiations are happening right now about somebody acquiring it.
The FDIC could step in and could figure out how to backstop it. There's been talk that the $250,000 that's been guaranteed would be released on Monday. This is all speculation. And some percentage of those uninsured deposits would be returned this week.
But the reality is a lot of these companies just don't have a lot of time because they're always living on the edge.
ACOSTA: And the comparisons to 2008, how -- I mean how bad could this get? Could things spiral to a point where we get into that kind of territory? Are we just really far off from that kind of 2008 financial collapse scenario?
HIGGINS: I don't think it will be exactly the -- that scenario, but Jim, you already know how I feel, right. That I feel like the American consumer is drowning under a trillion dollars of credit card debt. Like there is -- we've been waiting for a domino. I do think this could be the first domino that does create, you know,
more layoffs, a little bit of a reckoning. So while it's not the same as 2008, I do think America is very tenuous at the moment because of that mountain of debt that we're dealing with.
ACOSTA: All right. Yes, we have talked about that before. It is a worrisome subject. I'm going to try not to keep me up at night, have this keep me up at night especially with daylight saving time.
But all right, Matt Higgins, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.
HIGGINS: Thanks for having me.
ACOSTA: All right. Thousands of hours of footage from the Capitol riot and insurrection remains in the hands of Congress and Tucker Carlson, but nobody else. Coming up, I'll ask a former January 6th committee member if that needs to change.
Plus one man's journey to Yemen and his efforts to convince Americans that more help is needed to end the humanitarian crisis there.
And moms know nearly everything about their kids, even how they sound when they're thousands of miles away -- or do they? Later, a story you have to hear to believe.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
ACOSTA: House Republicans appear determined to revisit the insurrection they insist on rewriting. Sources tell CNN that GOP lawmakers are plotting multiple probes into the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Areas they want to investigate, security failures, they say, and maybe the treatment of January 6th defendants.
It's happening as Fox's Tucker Carlson tries to use cherry-picked footage to sanitize what happened that day.
And joining me now to talk about this is Democratic Congresswoman from California and former member of the January 6th select committee, Zoe Lofgren. Congresswoman, great to see you again. Thanks so much for being with us.
You know, this past week, I know you know this, Fox's Tucker Carlson began to air his own handpicked excerpts from the thousands of hours of footage that was given to him by the house speaker, Kevin McCarthy from January 6th.
Have you had a chance to review what was aired on Fox or get a sense of what they aired? And what's your response?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, some of that, of course, I read the police chief's comments. Obviously they're trying to gaslight the American public. I mean, what happened was pretty obvious.
The January 6th committee was able to show a lot of video of a mob attacking the police and breaking into the Capitol. And there's no way to say that didn't happen. The committee made, you know, hundreds of pages of information available, the transcripts of witness testimony, video of, you know, the disorder, and to take -- yes, we could have shown you empty hallways in the Rayburn Building, and you know, what would that have shown? People were sheltering in place.
As the chief said, you know, officers were trying to dissuade some of the rioters and trying to talk them into leaving the building. The officers were vastly outnumbered by the mob.
So you know, I don't know why Carlson is doing this, but what he's saying is not true. And I think it's really a shame that the speaker has allowed this narrative to go forward. It's a disservice to the country and to the truth.
ACOSTA: And I was going to say, Carlson got his hands on the video thanks to the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy who gave him exclusive access to this footage. The rest of the networks have yet to see this footage.
What do you make of what the speaker has done, and do you support letting all the networks see this footage as Fox has?
LOFGREN: Well, one of the concerns that we've raised, and I still don't -- the police chief has indicated that they were only given rights to review one of the clips, and the rest were not reviewed by the police.
LOFGREN: So we don't know whether there are security risks with what Carlson has or not. Until we know that, I would be concerned about just releasing it to everyone.
On the other hand, you know, the First Amendment doesn't allow you just to pick a favorite political person if you're the government and to deny other news outlets. So we've got a real First Amendment problem here.
But I'll tell you what, you know, January 6th Committee didn't withhold anything. As you know, we pushed to publish everything. It's one of -- you know, when you read the report and there's footnotes in the report, all of the information that's footnoted is available. So you know, to try and distort it now is a losing proposition.
ACOSTA: And do Fox's actions undercut the work of the committee, in your view? Putting out different narrative --
LOFGREN: Well, they're trying to.
LOFGREN: They're trying to do that. But you know, unfortunately, some of the viewers of Fox News, if they get all their news from Fox, they may not know that there was a riot. You know, they ought to go on line and look at the government printing office -- you don't have to buy the book, it's all for free, and take a look at the real truth, at the mobsters -- at the mob that broke into the Capitol.
You know, people died. Over 100 officers were severely injured. That's not a walk in the park.
ACOSTA: And communications revealed in the Dominion lawsuit against Fox reveal that hosts like Carlson were telling their audience one thing while telling each other privately that they didn't believe Trump's claims that the election was stolen.
This past week one of the top executives at Fox, Lachlan Murdoch, brushed off the lawsuit as politics. What do you think of that?
LOFGREN: Well, you know, that's not within the purview obviously of the January 6th Committee. But like anyone else, I saw the information that was released and obviously they were lying to their viewers.
I understand that Fox is not really covering the Dominion lawsuit, so their viewers, if that's the only place they get news, don't know that they were lied to and are still being lied to, which is really of concern.
ACOSTA: And figures from the far right including the former president have embraced Carlson's coverage and shown sympathy for Jacob Chansley (ph), a.k.a., the QAnon shaman.
Carlson portrayed Capitol police as escorting Chansley around the capitol when in fact, he entered the building through a broken door and was asked to leave the building. He pled guilty, he pleaded guilty to disrupting an official proceeding.
But people like Elon Musk are calling for him to be released from prison. Are you concerned Fox and Carlson have clouded how Americans view what took place?
LOFGREN: Well, that's what they're trying to do. I mean there are hundreds of people who pled guilty to violent felonies, for injuring severely police officers who were defending the Capitol. People who have been found guilty by a jury of their peers for violent felonies.
And to say that somehow that is -- they should be released is not really upholding the rule of law. So I think those who are engaging in that rhetoric really ought to consider whether or not the rule of law should be supported because that's really -- that's the fundamental basis for our democratic republic.
We have to have laws, they have to be adhered to. We have to have due process, which we've had with these defendants. They've been convicted. And that's the story. and to try and distort that, to say that it's something other than what it is I think is really reckless.
ACOSTA: And Trump is running again, as you know. He's described himself in recent days as the candidate of, quote, "retribution". What does that say to you, and are you concerned that he might try to retaliate against members of the January 6th committee if he gets back into office somehow?
LOFGREN: Well, I don't know what he meant by that. Obviously this is an individual who is seized by grievances, personal grievances, and has somehow managed to take his personal grievances, the business and interest of many of his followers.
You know, I think what those of us in political life ought to be doing is thinking about what would make life better for the American people. It's not, you know, playing a victim, it's not grievances, it's making sure that we have inflation under control, that we have good jobs and an economy that works for everyone, that we have a decent environment, that our kids can be safe.
Those are the things that people care about, not somebody who's just playing a victim.
ACOSTA: Trump, he stands a chance of regaining the Republican nomination to become president. What does that say about the state of politics? You went through all this trouble, investigated what took place on January 6th.
ACOSTA: And yet the Republican Party may be in a position where they make him the nominee again. All of those voters may choose to make him the nominee again despite your efforts on the January 6th committee. Does that frustrate you? Does that make you think that, well, maybe all this was for naught?
LOFGREN: No. We did the best job we could in telling the truth, and we did tell the truth. You know, one of the things that I was heartened by was that so many people who voted in the last election said that one of their major motivations was to protect American democracy from those who would overturn it.
What that tells me is that the vast majority of Americans understand what the reality was here. And that the ex-president is able to manipulate some of his followers is really unfortunate, but it's not most Americans.
ACOSTA: And Congresswoman, I know you represent the area that is dealing with all this flooding right now in California. The area of Pajaro, Monterey County. There's been a levee breach there. Any update from the constituents as to what's being done?
LOFGREN: Right. It's terrible flooding in Pajaro, and hundreds of people have been evacuated. It's not over now. The rivers are high. It's not raining right now, but more to come.
So between that and Silicon Valley Bank falling apart, which is also here in my area, it's been a busy weekend, and it's not over yet.
ACOSTA: Are you concerned about that bank collapse triggering a wider crisis? LOFGREN: Well, I think -- yes. You know, I'm hoping that the FDIC will
speak with more clarity on what people should expect next. You know, it's not just companies in the Silicon Valley, for example, there are payroll companies that had their -- the funds that they were supposed to use to meet payroll next week at the bank. Now that's gone.
So one of the concerns is, you know, whether people are going to get paid, and that could be, you know, a million people or more all across the United States. So we need some clarity from the FDIC on what's going to happen Monday morning, whether the accounts that are really not on the books are going to be swept up, how much is going to be available to customers.
And you know, people can take steps if they just have more information. I think that clarity has been missing now, and it's essential that it happen by tomorrow so that additional furloughs and layoffs and economic damage can be avoided starting Monday.
ACOSTA: All right. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thanks very much for your time. We hope they get that bank situation under control. Thanks for your time. We appreciate it.
LOFGREN: Thank you.
ACOSTA: Donald Trump is meeting with legal advisers this weekend we're told, trying to decide if he'll appear before a grand jury that could indict him. So should he or shouldn't he? We'll break it down for you next.
ACOSTA: CNN has learned that former President Trump will huddle with his legal team at Mar-a-Lago this weekend, as a potential indictment looms over his alleged role in hush-money payments made to adult film star, Stormy Daniels.
A source tells CNN Trump is weighing whether to appear before a New York grand jury that's investigating the payments that were made days before the 2016 presidential election.
Manhattan prosecutors have invited Trump to appear.
CNN senior legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor, Elie Honig, joins me now. His new books is, "Untouchable, How Powerful People Get Away With It."
Elie, I feel like when I read the title, it is a perfect segue to our conversations. I know I made that remark last week. I'll make it again.
What do you think Trump will ultimately decide to do? He's not going to go in there and talk to the grand jury. He's not going to do that. ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely not. No. N-O. No way.
There would be no reason for him to do that.
This is an unusual feature of New York State law. This isn't just the prosecutors being nice and giving him a chance to do this. They have to give any potential defendant a chance to come in and testify in the grand jury.
That's actually not the law in many states. That's certainly not the law federally.
But there's no upside here. Donald Trump is not going to talk a grand jury out of doing whatever it might do.
All he can do is give information that can be used to incriminate him in this case or in many of the other civil lawsuits and pending criminal investigations against him.
So easy call for Donald Trump here: Thank you for the invitation, but I respectfully decline.
ACOSTA: We've been talking about the Stormy Daniels case for years now. And you and I have talked about it for years now, I feel like.
Does that timeline matter legally?
HONIG: So legally, it does not matter. Some people have asked about the statute of limitations, which usually is five years. Meaning, you have to charge a case within five years of when it ended. Here, these payments happened six and a half years ago.
But the thing is, New York prosecutors are going to be OK on that count because there's a law in New York State that says, if somebody has been continuously residing outside of New York State, you put that clock on hold. So they're well within the statute of limitations.
Jim, the amount of time that has passed here is going to make this prosecution more difficult for the prosecutors because it's harder to stand in front of a jury and argue about something that happened that long ago and make them believe that it's serious and urgent.
To an extent, the amount of time that's passed is going to make this a tougher job for prosecutors.
ACOSTA: And Trump's lawyers are saying that this case is unprecedented. I suppose that is the understatement of the year. Are they right?
HONIG: They're right in a couple of respects. First of all, of course, if there's an indictment, we know this would be the first-ever indictment of a former president. That would be historic. That would be unprecedented.
But they're also right as a matter of law. Because the theory here that prosecutors appear to be using is, first of all, they're going to charge, it looks like, falsifications of business records, which is a misdemeanor.
Meaning, basically, these were hush-money payments, but they falsely booked them as attorney fees.
But in order to bump it up to a low-level felony, prosecutors have to prove it was connected to some other crime. Here, it looks like they'll argue it was a campaign finance crime relating to the presidential election.
But what we don't know here is, this is a state-level prosecution. The campaign finance violation was federal, relating to the race for president. And there's no law on that.
That will have to be decided by a judge. That's unprecedented, as well.
ACOSTA: In your book, you reveal the Southern District of New York considered charging this case two years ago but decided against it. Does that give insight into what the outcome may be here?
HONIG: Legally, it does not matter. It doesn't mean that the Manhattan D.A. cannot prosecute this case. They can come to a different conclusion than the feds. My former office across the street did.
Also we're dealing with different sets of law. And who knows, the Manhattan D.A. may have come up with new evidence that the feds didn't have two years ago.
That said, I think it's important, I think, the Manhattan D.A. would be well advised to consider the fed's logic.
Look, the feds, when they looked at the cases, the Southern District of New York, they believed that the evidence was sufficient to charge but not overwhelming.
And the Southern District of New York was wary about the political factors. They were wary about the fact that this felt, A, old, and, B, fairly low on the list of Trump's misconduct.
So this is a difficult call for any prosecutor. There's not necessarily right or wrong answer. But I think the Manhattan D.A. would be well advised to at least look at what the thought process was there.
ACOSTA: And aside from Trump and Stormy Daniels, the other key player is Michael Cohen, Trump's former fixer, who's been very critical, sharply critical of the former president. Does that complicate things?
We all know Michael Cohen. We've heard from Michael Cohen a lot. He was on this program last week. He does not pull his punches when it comes to his old boss.
HONIG: He does not. Michael Cohen looks like he's going to be a pivotal witness in this case. On the one hand, Michael Cohen clearly had insider access. He was in
the middle of this transaction. He pled guilty to it.
And many of the things that Michael Cohen has said, since he did his prison time, about Donald Trump have been proven out to be true.
On the other hand, the reality is, like it or not, Michael Cohen is going to be vulnerable to a searing cross-examination.
He has been convicted of perjury. He has been convicted of tax fraud and financial fraud. He denies that he did it, but he pled guilty to those crimes.
Michael Cohen also, as you said, Jim, the man has a white-hot hatred for Donald Trump. He cannot open his mouth without saying something negative about Donald Trump. That's his right.
But on cross-examination, they're going to argue to a jury, this guy absolutely despises Donald Trump, he'd do anything to get him. And that's going to undermine his credibility.
Michael Cohen is going to be a key witness here. I understand why one may want to rest the case on him. I get where prosecutors are going. But make no mistake, defense lawyers are going to have a lot of hay to make on cross-examination.
ACOSTA: And of course, it's just one of several cases that may be on the horizon for the former president. And of course, we'll talk about those as they come along.
Elie Honig, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.
HONIG: Thanks, Jim. Good to talk to you.
ACOSTA: Good to talk to you.
The United Nations calls it the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, but many Americans don't even know it's happening. Next, why millions of people are starving in Yemen, and what can be done about it.
ACOSTA: "The worst humanitarian crisis in the world" - That's how the United Nations describes the situation in Yemen.
Years of conflict have decimated the country, especially its children, who are dying of starvation in many cases.
Nearly three quarters of Yemen's population rely on humanitarian assistance for survival. That's nearly 22 million people.
While the situation remains dire, Yemen is struggling to get the aid that it needs. The U.N. asked member countries to pledge more than $4 billion to the crisis in Yemen. They only got $1.2 billion.
I want to bring in Thomas Sadoski, actor and activist and the founding ambassador for War Child USA.
Thomas, great to see you. Thank you so much for joining us and calling attention to this.
You wrote this opinion piece on CNN.com, "Too Hungry to Weep: The Tragedy of Yemen's Starving Children."
And we're just not paying enough attention to this issue, you're absolutely right about this-.
You recently got back from Yemen. Tell us what you saw there.
THOMAS SADOSKI, ACTOR, ACTIVIST & FOUNDING AMBASSADOR, WAR CHILD USA: Thank you, first of all, for taking the time.
It is - it's a situation that far too few people know about. I'm a firm believer in the decency of the American people. And I truly believe that if people really knew what was happening over there, the action on it would be swift and significant.
What it's like on the ground is almost impossible to describe. You know, there's something that really hits in the deepest part of you when you are in the presence of children who are starving to death.
You know, I'm a father myself, but I think, just as a human being, there is something really primitive that gets woken up in you, this need to protect and need to care and this need to do something.
And the unfortunate reality on the ground in Yemen is that that suffering is everywhere. It seeps through every interaction that you have with every person.
You can see it in the faces of everyone that you come across. And you can see it, you know, strewn all about you on the streets. It's an extraordinary, extraordinarily brutal and difficult thing to see in practice.
ACOSTA: Yes. And we're showing our viewers some of your video and pictures when you visited schools in Yemen. These children are absolutely beautiful.
ACOSTA: And to think about how they're suffering is just - it's unimaginably painful, I'm sure, to see it on your side of things when you go and visit.
Tell us about that experience.
SADOSKI: Yes, well first of all, those kids are kids. The thing that happens, particularly with this organization that I'm
so fortunate to work with and to have been on the ground with over there, War Child USA and War Child Canada, through our local partners in Yemen, have been able to work with the local community to have these safe spaces for the kids to go and get to be kids.
And you see, when you cross the threshold from the towns outside and the reality, the brutal, bleak reality of the outside world, when you cross the threshold into these schools, you get to see that extraordinary and beautiful thing that happens when children get to be children.
You get to see them laughing and running and playing, all the things that we associate with the incredible beauty of childhood. And to see them learning.
And to hear a word repeated again and again and again, which is so rare when you are talking about active war zones, talking about active conflict, and that word is "pride."
And these kids talk about being proud to be able to be in school and being proud to learn, being proud of things they've learned and the knowledge that they're on-boarding. It's really incredible.
And it just makes what's happening on the other side of the wall that much more sort of impossible to digest on - certainly, on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level and spiritual level.
It really breaks your heart when you step back out on the other side and see, oh, this is the world the kids are going to be walking back out into.
ACOSTA: Thomas, you write in your piece:
"Having spent the past week in Washington with members of Congress and the Senate regarding the crisis, it is apparent that political and fiscal calculations flourish when media coverage is fleeting and outrage muted."
"As one Senator sterilely offered during out meeting, 'That's a lot of money.' A lot, indeed."
How do you get Americans, especially in Washington, to care about this crisis?
SADOSKI: What a good question.
Unfortunately, the simple answer, which would seem to be the best, which is that, you know, as a - a country that has a military footprint in the crisis itself, on a foundational level, we're morally and ethically called upon to care, isn't an answer that seems to get much traction, particularly in Washington.
So what do you do? How do you appeal to folks over there?
I was very heartened to see a small, albeit loud bipartisan group get together and try to do some work around the War Powers Act with Syria. I would love nothing more than to see some follow through on that regarding what's happening in Yemen.
But more importantly, what you have to understand is this is a situation that continues to degrade, right? It's not getting better. Children aren't turning a corner and - and then getting the help that they need.
And at the same time, American aid is also degrading. Secretary Blinken announced a couple of weeks ago, you know, in this big press conference, oh, we're going to be giving $440 million-something to the United Nations fund for Yemen.
That's a 25 percent reduction from what they gave last year. That wasn't mentioned in his press conference.
I don't know how you can square that circle. You know, I don't understand a world in which we - we're saying we're going to help by doing less. That doesn't make sense to me.
And it certainly doesn't make sense to the parents of these children, who are starving to death in this country, where, again, we have a moral, ethical responsibility because we have been involved in the conflict.
And you know, I think that the reality is, as a - being blessed as a member of my society, living in the country that I live in, with all of the incredible gifts that it provides me, the responsibility that I have to pay back those gifts is - I don't get to use ignorance as an excuse.
SADOSKI: If that phrase "U.S. backed" is hung on a situation, I don't get to claim ignorance.
ACOSTA: Absolutely. And simply put, we can't let these children starve to death. We just can't let that happen.
Thomas Sadoski, great work over there.
ACOSTA: Thank you for shining a light on this. Please come back and do it again.
Thomas Sadoski, from War Child USA, we'll continue to focus on this. Thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.
And we'll be right back.
SADOSKI: Thank you for your -
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ACOSTA: Most of the U.S. will move the clocks forward one hour tonight. Daylight Savings Time begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday. But does anyone really like it?
CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten, joins us to run the numbers.
Harry, I think it's the other way. People don't like the other one, right, when we move the clocks back and it's dark for 12, 15 hours a day during the winter? That's what people hate. People like this, I think, right?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: No. No. I hate losing the hour of sleep. Jim, I hate them both.
ACOSTA: That's true.
ENTEN: I think Americans agree with me on this.
ACOSTA: Yes, that's true.
ENTEN: Nobody likes this idea.
ACOSTA: I lose this hour every year, too. It's - and I can't get over it. I can't overcome it. It just gets me every time.
ENTEN: It gets me every time. You know, I'm always so exhausted.
And if you look at the polls, what they show is that the clear vast majority of Americans, 65 percent of them, don't like the idea of changing the clock twice a year. Just 32 percent say, yes, they do.
I'd like to know who those 32 percent are. But I guess you could get 32 percent of the country to agree on just about anything.
ACOSTA: What do people think we should do instead of changing clocks?
ENTEN: I think our back and forth earlier in the segment gives you an idea that people can't necessarily agree.
ENTEN: If you ask folks, you know, what's the system of time we should use, Daylight Savings year-round, which you like, comes in at 38 percent.
The current system gets 32 percent. Then there's that Standard Time year-round that comes in at 26 percent.
So basically, just like on every other issue, we seem to be a divided country on the way that we should, in fact, tell time.
ACOSTA: Yes. And I don't want to get into like doing the math here in terms of like how much darkness we would be if we did one versus the other or - we'll do that another time when we have more time. But Marco Rubio and others want to make Daylight Savings Time year-
round. What's the - are there any drawbacks with that?
ENTEN: I would say so. We've tried it in the past, Jim. We did it in the past. We did it during World War II. We did it in the early to mid '70s because of an energy crisis.
Look what happened. Look at the polling. People who wanted to end year-round Daylight Savings Time, 67 percent in 1974, 71 percent in 1945.
So look, we could try it again, but two-thirds of the country hated it when we did it in the past. I have no idea why, this time, it would be any different.
ACOSTA: And what do you think is the best way to maximize sunlight? That's what we're talking about here. Let's get out of the dark.
ENTEN: That's exactly right.
So, OK, let's say you want to maximize the number of days or the percentage of days in which you have sunlight before 7:30. Let's say you want to maximize those same days in which you get sunsets after 5:30 p.m.
Actually, Standard Time year-round is the best way to do it. And 72 percent of the days nationwide would get that. The current system is second best at 69. And your favorite, Daylight Savings year-round, only 60 percent of the days would do that.
You're in the wrong here, Jim, in my opinion.
ACOSTA: Ah. All right. Very good.
Good luck tonight getting to sleep, you know -
ACOSTA: I'm sure you have a little something on the bedside table that will help out with that.
Harry, thank you so much. We appreciate it.
ACOSTA: Be sure to check out Harry's podcast "Margins of Error." You can find it on your favorite podcast app or at CNN.com/audio.
In other news, roads washed away, residents fleeing to higher ground. Many people in California are dealing with dangerous flooding this week. And a live report from the scene next on the CNN NEWSROOM.