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Trump Intensifies Attacks On DeSantis During Iowa Stop; DeSantis Sides With Trump, Says Ukraine Not Key To U.S. Interests; SVB Collapse Sends Tech Start-Ups, Small Businesses Scrambling; EPA Proposes New Federal Rules To Make Drinking Water Safer; Pentagon Holds Briefing After Russia Downs Drone Over Black Sea. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 14, 2023 - 14:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: So Ron DeSantis has yet to officially announce he's running for president in 2024, but former President Trump clearly sees the Florida governor as, if not his biggest threat, certainly a big threat for the Republican nomination.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: He keeps talking about him. During Trump's first trip to Iowa since declaring his third bid for the White House, he has intensified his attacks on DeSantis, hitting him over his record of ethanol, Social Security, and tying him to the establishment wing of the party.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So remember this? Did anybody ever hear of De-sanctis, De-sanctimonious? Ron DeSantis strongly opposed ethanol.

He also fought against Social Security. He wanted to decimate it and voted against it three times. Voted against Social Security. That's a bad thing.


TRUMP: But you have to remember, Ron was a disciple of Paul Ryan.


GOLODRYGA: Alice Stewart is a Republican strategy and a CNN political commentator. Olivia Troye is a former adviser to Vice President Mike Pence.

Welcome, both of you.

Alice, let's start with you.

It's interesting, the "New York Times" reports that in response to those comments from the former president, the audience was mixed, both applause and groans.

And it comes as we have new CNN polling showing that among Republican voters, 40 of them would support Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. But look who is at a close second, Ron DeSantis at 36 percent.

They're the only two who came out in double digits. Both Mike Pence and Nikki Haley coming in around 6 percent.

Alice, your reaction in terms of how you think the Trump camp would respond to these figures saying that DeSantis is tailing him closely?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, they should certainly be concerned, Bianna. Because what we see in poll after poll since the former president left office, his numbers are staying the same amongst the GOP and Ron DeSantis continues to grow and he's gaining support.

Look, for someone who is not even in the race for 2024, Ron DeSantis is living rent free in Donald Trump's head. And it's not making any impact on the favorability and popularity of Ron DeSantis.

We're seeing numbers out of Iowa where Republicans in the state of Iowa say they would be more likely to support a candidate outside of Donald Trump. That should be extremely concerning to the president.

Look, what we're seeing - I spoke with evangelicals in Iowa over the weekend. Many of them say they're ready to turn the page. They want someone who spouses the policies of Donald Trump but without the tone and tenor.

What we're seeing with Ron DeSantis, he has gone out in many of these states. He is talking with them, getting feedback from them, and reassuring them that he has the policies that many in the Republican Party do support.


He wants to work on the economy, which is very strong in the state of Florida. He wants to focus on education and crime and safety. And he's going to do so in a way that is not as toxic as they've seen from Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Olivia, our poll, which Brianna was talking about, which shows Donald Trump with 40 percent of Republican voters, Ron DeSantis with 36, has another interesting series of numbers there.

When you look at the DeSantis versus Trumps voters, those with incomes under 50 percent support Trump overwhelming, 52 to 27 percent. With incomes over $50,000, Ron DeSantis holds the lead.

And education is a similar thing. No college, Trump over DeSantis. College grad, it's DeSantis over Trump.

That was interesting. I hadn't seen those splits before. I wonder if you can marry that to what we've seen from each candidate the last few days. Trump going after DeSantis on Social Security. And DeSantis, all of a

sudden, to FOX News saying that he does not support the U.S. efforts to help Ukraine, calling it a territorial dispute. Explain all that.

OLIVIA TROYE, ADVISER TO FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Yes, I mean, it's wild to see those numbers, I would say. It shows you the division between the two front-runners in the Republican Party.

One of them is pandering to the base, which is Trumpism. Both of them, I think, I have that appeal.

I think that Trump is still kind of trying to claim that he represents the forgotten Republican, so to speak, the working class. I would say that is his bread and butter. That's the message that he used all along to get elected, I think, the first time around.

I think DeSantis is trying to establish himself. That was the quite the entry into the foreign policy field.

I have to say that, as a national security person, from my perspective, it's horrifying to me that you have two potential front- runners for the Republican nomination espousing pro-Putin and standing against Ukraine.

I think we have fallen very far from the Reagan party, I would say.

I'm glad that Ron DeSantis put himself on the record on where he stands on this. It's a slap to the courage of the people of Ukraine. But that's good to know that's who he really is.

GOLODRYGA: Alice, let's pick up on that. That was a jaw-dropping statement.

It's not a one-off. Just a few weeks ago, he said that Vladimir Putin does not pose a threat to the West. And he's saying that the war in Ukraine is a territorial dispute. I mean, these are Kremlin talking points at their best.

What impact is this going to have on the party as a whole when, for the most part, in terms of leadership, Republicans are in support of Ukraine and their defense of Russia's illegal invasion?

STEWART: Look, clearly, DeSantis has a nuanced position when it comes to Ukraine and his response and follow up on some of the criticism he's received.

His team has been quite clear on he does support Ukraine, but he wants to make sure it's not simply a blank check. And he wants to make sure that any assistance or military equipment that we give doesn't escalate and take this fight outside of the borders. He's got a very nuanced position on that.

I did want to comment on the college-educated and non-college-educated support for Trump and DeSantis.

What I think is another concern for Donald Trump, he's going to continue to hold many of the non-college-educated Republican voters.

But as DeSantis continues to get out there, I believe there's more of a chance for him to pick up the non-college-educated voters than it is for Donald Trump to try to peel off some of the college-educated voters.

Many of which left him and left their support of him because of the way he acted while he was president, the name-calling and January 6th and election denying and conspiracy theories.

Those cross tabs will be interesting to watch in the days and weeks ahead.

GOLODRYGA: DeSantis has yet to announce what he's going to do and yet to respond to these attacks from the former president. We'll see how long he can keep that up.

Alice Stewart, Olivia Troye, thank you.

STEWART: Thanks, Bianna.


BERMAN: The Justice Department is investigating the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. This, as many of the bank's clients are now asking for help. We're going to speak with the founders of a children's company who had cash reserves in that bank.



BERMAN: Silicon Valley Bank was known as a top lender for start-ups and small businesses. As clients are breathing a sigh of relief after President Biden announced that all funds, even uninsured deposits, are safe. But many are scrambling to cover expenses in the meantime.

Callie Christenson and Kelly Oriard are the cofounders and co-chief executives of the educational toy company, Slumberkins. They had the majority of their cash in SVB.

Thanks so much for being with us.

Do you have access to your money now?


BERMAN: Oh, good. This is as if nothing changed for you. You do whatever you want and whatever you need with the money you deposited there?

KELLY ORIARD, COMPANY "SLUMBERKINS" USES SILICON VALLEY BANK: We are now trying to diversify our banking strategy to just have better safety. As a very small business and as educators-turned-entrepreneurs, this

has been a really steep learning curve and a moment where you're not really thinking that someday your bank will fail. We're thinking about strategy for our business.

BERMAN: How did you find out this was happening? And what was the impact on you for those days of uncertainty?

CHRISTENSON: We were actually in New York City and started hearing some rumblings of things going bad at Silicon Valley. We were at a toy conference.

And, by Thursday, we had our team working really hard to try to transfer funds out. But the systems were already going down and we were having a really hard time.


And by the time we got on a flight to come home back to Portland, Oregon, on Friday, by the time we landed, we found out that the bank had failed.

And landing from that flight was a really scary moment to know that we were in a world of hurt because we did not have access to our funds anymore.

BERMAN: Talk to me about that world of hurt. What did you do for those 48 hours?

ORIARD: We were, you know, talking to our board, trying to plan out, you know, how could we make payroll. What's worst-case scenario? How can we make sure that we keep the company going?

And it was one of those moments when, you know, from a fiduciary responsibility, somebody said, I think we can make a wind-down plan, too. That's something we need to consider.

I think, at that point, Callie and I were so determined not to go down that path, that we decided to call in our community. We have a really strong community of parents and teachers that have supported us as a small business, growing to where we are.

And so we called out to them, telling them what was going on, and we were really transparent, and they have answered the call.

So we were able to have a sale that generated revenue that went into a new bank account that we could use as operating cash.

BERMAN: If President Biden hadn't announced government support for deposits there, what would have happened to you?

CHRISTENSON: You know, we were lucky that we had inventory on hand to generate cash sales to go to a new bank.

With what she just explained, the cash generated by the community support rallying around the brand would have given us this buffer of time to navigate the unknown. It still is unknown.

The markets are a little bit unstable where we rely - as a Start-Up, we rely on investment and venture funding, which we aren't that confident in at the current moment.

And so it makes - it really was a feeling of no one is coming to save us, we're on our own, let's turn to the community that surrounds this brand. And they really showed up.

BERMAN: I can't imagine what it was like to get off that flight and find out that your bank had failed. And I'm happy for you that it's back to sort of business as usual.


BERMAN: Callie Christenson, Kelly Oriard, thanks so much for being here.

CHRISTENSON: Thank you for having us.

GOLODRYGA: The EPA is proposing a brand-new rule to make your drinking water safer. We'll tell you about it, up next.



BERMAN: All right, the EPA today proposed new guidelines to make the water we drink more safe. The rules would create the first national drinking water standard for so-called "forever chemicals."

GOLODRYGA: These chemicals are used in nonstick cookware, cosmetics and food package. The chemicals can linger in the environment and THE human body for years and cause serious health problems.

CNN senior health correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins us with more on this.

Elizabeth, these so-called "forever chemicals" are linked to some very serious health dangers. Can you talk to us about what these new recommendations are?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Bianna, they are linked to some very serious health problems. It doesn't mean they cause these health problems. But they've been linked to them. And that's why the EPA wants to start setting limits for at least some of these chemicals.

So let's take a look at some of the health problems that have been linked to these chemicals.

They're called "forever chemicals" because they do linger. They've been linked to cancer, to problems of prenatal development to liver issues and to immune effects.

So what the EPA is saying - and people have been begging the EPA to do this for many, many years now. They're saying we're going to regulate them. We're going to start making changes.

So water systems have about three years to start getting these limits down.

And also, it's unclear how they'll be -

GOLODRYGA: All right, Elizabeth, I'm sorry, we're going to interrupt you.

And take you straight to the Pentagon, who holding a briefing on the U.S. drone brought down earlier by a Russian fighter jet. Let's listen.

BRIG. GEN. PAT RYDER, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: - have to essentially crash into the Black Sea.

To my knowledge, at this time, the Russians have not recovered that aircraft.

But again, in terms of our recovery efforts, I don't have any updates to provide right now. I'll refer you to the Navy in terms of in terms of what assets they may have in that region.

Thank you.

Jean (ph)?


Regarding North Korea's submarine launch of a strategic cruise missiles recently, North Korea has announced that it's possible to monitor a nuclear warhead on strategic cruise missiles.

What is the readiness of the United States against the escalate, the provocations such as the nuclear provocation by the North Korea?

RYDER: Let me just make sure I understand. What's the readiness of the U.S. to respond to a nuclear provocation by North Korea?


RYDER: Well, I think we've been very clear that, were North Korea to employ a nuclear weapon, it would be the end of the North Korean regime.

But our focus continues to work closely with our allies and partners in the region to deter aggression, to preserve security and stability in the region, and that will continue to be our focus.

Let me go to Carla (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just a real quick clarification. What did the fighter jet - what did he strike the MQ-9 with? Was it the wing, was it -

(CROSSTALK) [14:55:03]

RYDER: Yes. I can't you what specifically what portion of the aircraft, but the fact it essentially ran into the MQ-9.


And separately on Ukraine, there's reports out there from the battlefield that the Ukrainians are running out of munitions, they're having shortages.

Is that a concern for the Pentagon? And what's the Pentagon doing to alleviate that problem?

RYDER: Yes, so as we've been doing, since the beginning of this campaign, we're doing everything we can to ensure that we're meeting Ukraine's needs, whether it's ammunition, air defense, armor. You heard us talk defensively about that.

Tomorrow's discussion, of course, will be another opportunity to bring the international community together to focus on Ukraine's most urgent needs to include ammunition.

And so, again, that will continue to be our focus. And you've heard Secretary Austin and others say that we're committed to making sure they have what they need to be successful.


Is there an assessment the Pentagon has on why they're running out of ammunition? Is it because they're expending it too fast? Is it not making it to the battlefield in time? What's your -


RYDER: Yes. I'd have to refer you to the Ukrainians to talk about their specific efforts to supply their individual units.

Again, we're very closely with them and our international partners to get them what they need.

I think it's also important to take a step back and look at the progress that has been made while recognizing there is a still tough fight ahead, particularly as we go into this spring and summer.

So our focus, again, is going to be working with national armaments directors, with Ukrainians to get them the ammunition they need and get them to the frontline units as quickly as possible.

Let me go back over to this side of the room.

Yes, sir.


Can you guide us through the timeline of the MQ-9 intercept? We have that the aircraft was struck at 7:03 Eastern time. But how long were the Sukhois with the aircraft beforehand? And were there any radio calls between - radio communications between the Russians or from the United States?

RYDER: So on the latter part of your question, no, none that I'm aware of. And I would ask you go back and confirm this with UCOM.

But based on the information I have here, it seems like, approximately 30 to 40 minutes, they were flying in the vicinity of this MQ-9. And at 7:03 a.m. is when the - 7:03 a.m. Central European time is when they collided, causing it to crash.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The U.S. Forces had to bring down the aircraft. Does that mean the United States piloted to the crash site -


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: - or was it struck by a missile?

RYDER: Yes, we brought it down.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And also, is there any U.S. Naval assets currently in the Black Sea?

RYDER: Again, I'd have to refer you to the Navy for any details on particular assets in the region. Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you talk a little bit more about the damage to the MQ-9? Was it unflyable and that's why you had to bring it down?

And can you say a little bit more about how often this kind of thing happens in the Black Sea that Russian aircraft harass U.S. drones and other aircraft?

RYDER: Yes, so I don't have any statistics in front of me in terms of intercepts.

But again, as I highlighted, the fact that intercepts of aircraft are not uncommon in and of itself, it's not obviously a daily occurrence.

The vast majority of those intercepts are what we would consider safe and professional, just wanting to see what's there, right? You're flying alongside it to be able to see what's there.

In this particular case, though, again, they collided with the aircraft, damaging the propeller and essentially putting it in a situation where it was unflyable and uncontrollable so we brought it down.

Thank you.

Time for a few here. We'll go here.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sir, thanks. Just wanted to check to confirm any communication with allies, such as Turkey, about potential recovery of the drone? And is there any concern Russia could provide the drone to Iran if it recovers it?

RYDER: So that would be a hypothetical. Again, Russia does not have the drone. So that would be a hypothetical question.

In terms of working with allies and partners, I don't have anything to announce here. But if and when we do, I'll be sure and let you know. Thank you.

Go to Fadi (ph) and then we'll come back over here for a question.



So when - I know you don't want to share lots of information, especially intelligence information, but are you able to say whether the MQ-9 was flying near Ukraine or near the Crimean Peninsula?