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Mike Pence Criticizes Trump Over January 6; Biden Aims to Shore Up Silicon Valley Bank. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 13, 2023 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: To describe Florida lawmakers who want to cut back on gender-affirming care for youth.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful.

It's not like a kid wakes up one morning and says: You know, I decided I want to become a man or I want to become a woman or I want to change.

I mean, what -- what are they thinking about here? They're human beings.


KING: We will see you tomorrow.

Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington.

And, right now, Wall Street and Main Street are wondering if more dominoes will fall or if the Biden administration's drastic action following the second largest bank failure in U.S. history will stave off a broader financial crisis.

This morning, President Biden assured Americans that their money is safe after the federal government takeover of Silicon Valley Bank and the smaller Signature Bank. SVB may be a new name for many people, but it was a go-to bank for the tech sector. High-profile companies like Roku, Etsy and Fitbit were all clients. Some had hundreds of millions of dollars tied up with SVB.

Now all those deposits are guaranteed by Uncle Sam in an extraordinary move. Today, Biden detailed what happens next.


BIDEN: All customers who had deposits in these banks can rest assured -- I want to -- rest assured they'll be protected and they'll have access to their money as of today. No losses will be borne by the taxpayers. Instead, the money will come from the fees that banks pay into the Deposit Insurance Fund. The management of these banks will be fired. Investors in the banks will not be protected. They knowingly took a risk. And when the risk didn't pay off, investors lose their money. That's how capitalism works.


KEILAR: We're covering this from New York, the White House and Capitol Hill.

And I want to start with CNN's Matt Egan who is at the Magic Wall for us.

Matt, let's start with how we got here.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Brianna, we had a perfect storm of things that went wrong and conspired to set off the second biggest bank failure in American history.

So let's look at what happened. Remember, Silicon Valley Bank, it was enormously exposed to the tech sector. And that is one of the parts of the economy that is hurting the most right now. Now, in order to raise cash, they have to sell off some bonds. And they have mortgage-backed securities and Treasury bonds.

All of those securities, they lost value as the Federal Reserve raised interest rates. At the same time, we had this bank. They came out and they said they had this hole in their financial, in their balance sheet that forced them to sell bonds,to sell stock.

But they announced that before they actually raise the money. I talked to an insider, an employee there who called this plan absolutely idiotic, because it set the stage for this panic. We had a classic run on the bank. And that forced the federal government to step in last night and announce plans to guarantee the deposits, including the uninsured deposits above $250,000 -- Brianna.

KEILAR: So does this fit the definition of a bailout, or not?

EGAN: Well, not in the 2008 bailout sense.

Remember, in 2008, that was taxpayer-funded. The government injected banks with billions and billions of dollars. And executives, notably, were spared. What's happening now is different, right? No taxpayer funds are at risk right now. That's according to the government. They are protecting all of the depositors, not the shareholders, not the bondholders, but the depositors. And that is a key distinction.

Also, the executives have been fired. So call it what you want, bailout or not. This is a massive rescue, and it is designed to try to put out this fire.

KEILAR: And where do things go from here?

EGAN: Well, I think, most immediately, for the customers of Silicon Valley Bank, right, they just want their money. They need to get their funds out of this bank to make payroll. That is the most pressing issue.

At the same time, we're hearing from politicians calling for a rollback of the 2018 rollback of Dodd-Frank. We heard that from President Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren. They are arguing that deregulation played a role here. I don't think we know all the facts on that front yet. But, clearly, this episode raises questions about anything that lowers oversight of banks.

And now we need to keep an eye on what's happening in financial markets, because the stock market, it's about unchanged right now. So, overall, markets are not freaking out. But regional banks, they are falling very sharply today. And I think that is a sign of continued nervousness on Wall Street and in general about what's happening with these banks.

KEILAR: Yes, a lot of worry that we're seeing, Matt. Thank you for walking us through that.

I want to go now to the White House and CNN's Phil Mattingly.

So, Phil, of course, Biden was vice president when the Obama administration was cleaning up the last financial crisis the last banking crisis. I wonder how that's informing his approach here.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think there's the policy, and I think there's the political.

On the policy side of things, when you look across what transpired over the course of about 36 hours behind closed doors, pretty much a nonstop set of meetings and Zooms and conference calls, as federal financial regulators put together the emergency intervention that they deployed last night.

There was a recognition that speed is critical, and so is scale, and I think trying to do as much as they possibly could, to the extent their authority allowed, as quickly as they possibly could, given the growing concern, palpable sense that there was a real risk of contagion, in terms of the system here, was critical.

And I think that is very much a lesson learned from pretty much everyone involved in the financial regulatory sector in the wake of 2008. But I also think the politics are important here.

And there's a recognition that I think was implicit in what you heard from the president this morning, certainly trying to assure markets, trying to reassure depositors, investors about the stability of the financial system, but also making very clear that taxpayers, in the view of the administration, were not on the hook, that this was not a bailout of the companies, a la 2008, as Matt was laying out, and that the executives were all gone.

The banks were, in fact, dead failed, and in receivership held by the U.S. government. That is a very different process than what happened in 2008. And that is a very clear message that administration officials want to get out, that this isn't 2008, that this is a very different effort. And while they are certainly moving as quickly as possible to try and stop this in its tracks, make sure that this doesn't spread, there's no significant spillover risk in the days and weeks ahead, I think they're cognizant of a lot of the dynamics in 2008, despite the fact these are very different circumstances.

KEILAR: Yes, everyone remembers 2008 and what they didn't like about it, for sure.

Phil, thank you for that report from the White House.

CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill.

And, Lauren, we're, of course, seen a lot of finger-pointing here and also renewed calls for tougher banking regulations. Tell us about this.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, this is what you're hearing from a lot of liberals on Capitol Hill.

And we should know, Brianna, that the House and the Senate lawmakers are out right now on recess. But one of the biggest calls that you're hearing are from people like Katie Porter and Elizabeth Warren, who are saying that that bill in 2018 to roll back some of those banking regulations needs to now be rolled back itself.

This is what Elizabeth Warren said -- quote -- "Repealing the 2018 legislation that weakened the rules for banks like SVB must be an immediate priority for Congress."

Now, you can expect that lawmakers on both sides when they get back to Washington are going to be finger-pointing. You're already seeing some Republicans arguing that what the Biden administration doing -- is doing is akin to a bailout, even though the Biden administration is going to great lengths to make that message clear that this is not a bailout from the American taxpayer.

So there is going to be a lot of finger-pointing. But who you are pointing the finger at is really going to be determinative of whether or not you're a Republican or a Democrat up here on Capitol Hill.

KEILAR: And the culture wars are coming into play as well here.

FOX: Yes, I mean, there are some House Republicans and also Governor DeSantis down in Florida who are arguing the SVB is really a marker of a bank that was simply, in their words, too woke.

Here is what James Comer, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said, as well as DeSantis.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): They were one of the most woke banks in their -- in their quest for the ESG-type policy in investing. This could be a trend.


COMER: And there are consequences for bad Democrat policy. And

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This bank, they're so concerned with DEI and politics and all kinds of stuff. I think that really diverted from them focusing on their core mission.


FOX: And, obviously, lawmakers are going to argue, especially Democrats, that that had nothing to do with what happened here.

But, obviously, Brianna, a lot of finger-pointing happening on Capitol Hill.

KEILAR: There certainly is.

Lauren, thank you so much for that.

Joining us now is a CEO of one of the many companies affected by SVB's collapse. Ali Javid is with us. He's the co-founder and the CEO of the entertainment payroll company Wrapbook.

Sir, thank you so much for being with us.

President Biden is saying that these funds are going to be available to SVB depositors today, which is obviously fantastic news for folks like you. But I wonder, have you gotten access to your money yet?

ALI JAVID, CEO, WRAPBOOK: This morning, we checked our bank account. All the funds were there.

More importantly to us, everyone paid through Wrapbook, the 100,000 people in production, their funds are there, and they can cash their payroll checks today at the banks.

KEILAR: And so they're able to do that, which is obviously a difference from yesterday, a huge difference.

We have heard from a 2024 GOP candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy, who says on CNN that depositors, people like you, companies like yours, that they shouldn't not get relief. Here's what he said.



VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would not bail out either SVB or even the depositors.

We should let the market work here, let Silicon Valley Bank fail, if needed.


KEILAR: What do you say to that?

JAVID: We expect our money to be safe in banks. Workers expect to be paid.

Wrapbook processes payroll for 100,000 people. And when a bank fails, that means a worker isn't getting paid to pay their mortgage, their childcare, their groceries. It's absolutely the responsibility of a bank and the federal government to make sure that our deposits are safe.

KEILAR: What would have happened without yesterday's intervention?

JAVID: Thousands of people today wouldn't be able to cash their payroll checks on time.

Wrapbook worked through the entire weekend to make sure remediation plans were in place. The Fed stepping in, though, IS a significant thing to make sure that workers can be paid.

KEILAR: Who do you blame for how this went down?

JAVID: That's a tough question.

What I will say is, I think it's the responsibility of a bank to be prudent with our deposits. I think it's the responsibility of the government to make sure that banks are safe. As an American, I put my money with a bank. I don't think about whether it's safe. It should just be safe.

I think there's still some work to be done for people to feel safe. But our government did the right thing today.

KEILAR: What do you think about the leadership of the bank, CEOs? Investors, obviously, who you heard the president say, they're going to be ones who took risks and will not be compensated.

What do you think about people who made the decisions that put the books of this bank in a place where this could happen to companies like yours?

JAVID: I leave that to the government to go through. I don't know Silicon Valley Bank records.

What I will say is that there's a whole community of people across companies affected by Silicon Valley Bank who all got together and tried to act in the best interest of everyone who's getting paid. This was a huge rallying moment of support. I leave it to the government to decide and evaluate what happened.

KEILAR: I know that you are becoming much more familiar certainly with some of these processes than then perhaps you were before. Do you worry that, if you move your money to another bank, you will be facing similar problems?

JAVID: I think -- I think the actions today reassure us that deposits are safe with banks.

At the same time, we should all take measures that are appropriate. As a business, we use multiple banks as redundancy. Things happen. And when those things happen, it's our responsibility as a payroll processor to make sure people get paid, which is why we're able to move forward today with paying people, even had Silicon Valley Bank not been -- had Silicon Valley Bank not been around today to support.

KEILAR: Thank you so much, Ali Javid. We really appreciate your time today.

JAVID: Thank you.

KEILAR: Mike Pence is now taking a tougher tone on former President Trump, so why won't he testify against him? We will talk about that.

Plus, a vicious fight in Ukraine is getting even bloodier. Now a group of Russian wives and mothers is calling on Vladimir Putin to stop sending their men to slaughter.

And why three women are now facing a wrongful death lawsuit over abortion pills.



KEILAR: Former Vice President Mike Pence delivering his most scathing rebuke yet of his former boss Donald Trump and his role in the January 6 capital attack.

He told a crowd at a Washington, D.C., dinner over the weekend -- quote -- "President Trump was wrong. I had no right to overturn the election and his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable."

While Pence says history will hold Trump accountable, he has so far balked at many opportunities to help do so himself. He refused to testify to the House January 6 Committee. He said Congress had no right to his testimony. He's currently fighting a subpoena by the special counsel investigating Trump's role in the January 6 insurrection.

Joining us to discuss is Margaret Talev, senior contributor for Axios, and Ambassador Norm Eisen, former House Judiciary special counsel in Trump's first impeachment trial.

Margaret, what do you think of what Pence said?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, Brianna, I was in the room for the Gridiron event on Saturday.

And I have to tell you that, as former Vice President Pence was speaking, every journalist in that ballroom immediately stopped, listened and said, OK, he's making news here. So he clearly wants, at least in that room, and for national coverage to lay down a marker that he has sort of the moral authority lane in a prospective 2024 primary.

And he was not just rebuking Trump, although he clearly was doing that, but he was also rejecting the Tucker Carlson kind of narrative that this was -- the protesters on January 6 were tourists or were peaceful. And he also said very directly that he believes that the free press, the journalists are protectors of democracy and not enemies of the public.


That's all important. And yet, as recently as just days ago, he has continued to fight a federal grand jury subpoena that would give more clarity around the president's actions that day.

So, there is this sort of contradiction in terms. There is the messaging in that room. And there are his actions in terms of the courts. And I know he's arguing this is about vice presidential powers or congressional Senate powers.

I think, unless a court compels him to provide testimony, that he's saying pretty clearly that he's not going to do it.

KEILAR: Norm, he's letting this play out clearly in the court of public opinion and participating very much in that. And it really does stand in contrast to what he's not participating in.


And he has no legal leg to stand on in saying that the constitutional speech or debate clause, entitles him not to show up and answer your questions.

It is true. He may or may not have a right to refuse to answer questions under the Constitution for what he was doing when he was sitting in the chair on January 6, but the law is well-established that, for all the stuff that prosecutors want to hear about before then, he has a legal obligation to show up.

If he wants to object to a question he can. But there's no legal basis. So that makes his refusal to cooperate -- he was a hero on January 6. Why isn't he willing to be a hero now, continue that? He doesn't have a legal reason not to, Brianna.

KEILAR: So, do you think, Norm, that he will be compelled?

EISEN: I do think he will be compelled.

We just went through this in the Lindsey Graham case in the Georgia investigation of Donald Trump's activities there to overturn the election. Lindsey Graham said, oh, no, the Constitution says I'm protected from speech or debate.

It went all the way to the Supreme Court. Lindsey Graham's argument -- I filed an amicus brief on behalf of former government attorneys that Lindsey Graham's argument didn't hold water. You got to show up, object to the questions that are objectionable, answer the others. Graham was forced to do it in Georgia. Pence is going to be forced to do it here.

KEILAR: Margaret, how are other potential 2024 contenders, who some of them have been really afraid to criticize Trump, how are they reading this?

TALEV: Yes, well, I think that Pence is trying to test the waters and see whether one of two things will happen, whether he can move the needle and make this a dialogue that other 2024 contenders or prospective contenders are also willing to jump in on.

There's been a lot of sort of indirect criticism of former President Trump, but few of those rivals hitting him squarely over January 6 or saying that's why he shouldn't run again. And Pence is either trying to move the needle in that direction for every other rival or trying to say this will be his lane uniquely.

I think the field is still forming, including Vice President -- former Vice President Pence's intentions. But I think his feeling is that this is the lane he wants to occupy, and that will either set him apart or he will at least be credited with moving the entire conversation in that direction.

It's a risky strategic gambit when you're playing for the base, because although there has been an erosion of some support for former President Trump, there's still quite a bit of support around him as well as -- and I think we will see Pence in early states like New Hampshire and Iowa this week. We will see whether he is as direct, as assertive as he was in that room on Saturday night.

KEILAR: That's a very good thing to watch for.

Norm, today, Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen is expected to provide additional testimony to the Manhattan DA. They're investigating Trump's role in hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

And, this morning, we learned from Trump's attorneys that he has no plans to testify. Does it seem to you that Trump may be criminally charged in that case?

EISEN: Brianna, I think Trump is at grave risk of criminal charges in the hush money case.

It was one of the first things that we investigated when we did the first impeachment investigation against Donald Trump, including sitting down with Michael Cohen. I personally interviewed him. He was my witness. And so I know the evidence that he has.

The core offense is a New York state criminal statute that prohibits keeping false books and records. The problem for Donald Trump is that he booked the repayment of these hush money payments that were made as legitimate legal fees to Michael Cohen. So that's in checks that Trump and others signed. It's in the books and records. [13:25:03]

And that is a very strong criminal case. And it matters, Brianna, because Trump was already on thin ice with so many scandals, including "Access Hollywood" back in 2016. If he hadn't covered up this scandal with Stormy Daniels, it could have affected or even changed the outcome of the presidential race.

So it's very important to democracy in its own way.

KEILAR: Margaret, what would that mean, an indictment or even just the fact that this takes so much of Trump's attention or it grabs headlines?

What will that mean to a -- his run?

TALEV: It wouldn't inherently derail it. But I think it could certainly have a major political impact.

There are Republican donors in early states, in crucial states around the country who are primarily concerned about being able to win in a general election and are concerned about what a Donald Trump nomination would mean. This is all hypothetical. It's all very early. It's very early days in this 2024 contest.

But, having said that, I certainly think that an indictment would change the entire nature of this race, would compel or free up rivals to go after the former president and would give major donors and leaders inside the Republican Party some real agita. And so it could be very important.

I also think -- we were just talking about former Vice President Pence a minute ago. This is where the rubber meets the road. When you're compelled to testify, or when you are subpoenaed, or when you are asked to provide evidence, information, testimony, that can be very important to prosecutors' formation of the case.

Michael Cohen's willingness -- and he said he's nervous about complying, but he's trying to provide the truth and help prosecutors get to an answer. His willingness to provide that testimony could be crucial to them making their case. Did Donald Trump have an intent to defraud or to cover up a crime? Did this result in a violation of election law?

Those are crucial questions that testimony like this could help form the basis of. And that's why people are subpoenaed.


Margaret, Ambassador Eisen, thank you to both of you. We appreciate it.

A group of Russian wives and mothers leading new protests against Vladimir Putin, asking the Russian president to stop sending their loved ones to slaughter, this cry coming amid an increasingly brutal battle for the city of Bakhmut. We have that next.