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Texas Judge Could End Abortion Pill Access Nationwide; Stocks Fall; U.S. Drone Downed By Russia. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 15, 2023 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, right here on "CNN PRIMETIME," the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, how did it happen, and what does it mean to the American banking system at large?

CNN's Poppy Harlow asks the experts. "CNN PRIME-TIME: Bank Bust: What's Next For America's Money?" that's tonight 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

Thanks for your time today. Hope to see you tomorrow.

Brianna Keilar picks up our coverage right now.

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

The U.S. once again finding itself in a stare-down with a powerful adversary over a provocative confrontation in the skies. But, this time, it was a U.S. aircraft that came crashing down. And, today, the White House says the wreckage of that unmanned drone may never be recovered.

But Russia vows to try and find it for itself. A Russian jet forced down the roughly $15 million Reaper drone on Tuesday over the Black Sea. And, this morning, top Biden administration officials lashed out, calling Russia's actions reckless and unsafe.

Moscow disputes the U.S. account, saying the drone shouldn't have been flying near its so-called special military operation.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is at the Pentagon for us.

Natasha, what are we learning about this incident and also the wreckage?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Brianna, well, the race is on really to find this wreckage.

And what we're told is that, apparently, the U.S. does not have any Navy assets in the area that could readily kind of go and pick up that wreckage. And so it will be very difficult for the U.S. to launch some kind of rescue mission for the drone. And it is appearing more and more likely that that drone may not ever be recovered by the U.S. Meantime, Russia is now saying that they intend to try to find the

drone as well, with the secretary of Russia's Security Council telling reporters this morning that they do intend to launch a mission to try to find that drone, which, of course, landed in the Black Sea after being harassed by two Russian fighter jets over international waters and international airspace on Tuesday.

However, we are told that the U.S. did take steps to erase the software on that drone before -- as it crashed into the Black Sea, kind of before Russia -- so that before Russia could actually get to it, they would not be able to glean any kind of sensitive information out of it, because it is not necessarily the hardware that would be valuable to the Russians.

It would be the software on that system that is responsible, of course, for collecting intelligence and other kinds of data that the Russians would likely want to get a hold of. But this is becoming kind of a real tit for tat between the U.S. and Russia just in terms of the statements they are releasing, the U.S., of course, calling the incident very reckless, irresponsible, saying that the pilots were essentially acting in an incompetent manner when they harassed that drone.

Meanwhile, the Russian saying that the U.S. was flying in an airspace that Russia created for its so-called special military operation in Ukraine, which, of course, is an explanation that the U.S. has flatly rejected, Brianna.

KEILAR: Is there any footage of the incident?

BERTRAND: Yes, so we are learning that there is video. There's video and there's imagery of the incident.

And the U.S. apparently is working to declassify that imagery and those videos of what happened. But we are not getting any updates so far on when that might occur. We are told that is pretty much still in the process of being declassified, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Natasha, thank you so much for that report from the Pentagon.

Let's bring in CNN global affairs analyst Kim Dozier.

So, Kim, the White House says, as Natasha just reported, it may not be able to recover the drone wreckage. That's the expectation. Apparently, that isn't stopping Russia, right? Russia is going to try to do this. Is Russia trying to retrieve this for a strategic gain, or is this really just about P.R.?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It's more likely about P.R. and rhetoric to dig this thing from the bottom of the ocean and then parade it through the streets of Moscow or something similar to that.

Look, the MQ-9 has been around since the early 2000s. And this kind of Reaper was actually shot down by Houthi rebels in Yemen before, so it's not like the technology is out there. And our reporting at "The Military Times" and Defense News is that there was nothing in particular in terms of added technology on this particular drone that the Russians would find sensitive.

So you default back to the Russians want to send a message to their people and the various populations around the globe that are on Russia's side, so to speak, in this conflict that, look, this is the U.S. harassing us in what we have been calling a U.S.-led NATO proxy war.

KEILAR: So when we listen to some of the Republican sentiment, the reaction to this, you have GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, who's saying that the U.S. should -- "If you ever get near another us asset flying in international waters, your airplane will be shut down," that that is really the message that should be sent.

You have Congresswoman Nancy Mace who is saying, if the U.S. is unwilling to shoot down a Russian jet that brings down an American piece of equipment, then we ought to be exacting more sanctions on Russia.


This so far is not the administration's view here. Explain why.

DOZIER: Well, for one thing, these kind of brush-pasts in the Black Sea between U.S. and NATO jets and Russian aircraft, they're so common that major reports have been written over the past couple of decades about why it happens.

And they believe that Russia is trying to affect U.S. behavior. In this case, by making this war about a U.S. conflict and bringing the U.S. into some sort of direct confrontation with Russia, Russia is playing the long game with U.S. public opinion.

They're already aware that there's this sort of thin end of the wedge of some Republican opinion on the far circles of the GOP that perhaps the war in Ukraine is something that has nothing to do with U.S. interests. And you can see that in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' message that you were just referring to, where he said this war is not strategic for the United States and is essentially a waste of money.

And that's why stalwarts like Lindsey Graham have attacked back and said, no, this is something that needs to be -- this is about a war of good and evil and a war of democracy vs. authoritarianism, and that's why support for Ukraine needs to continue.

KEILAR: Yes, I think you can see that attempt to exploit that wedge by what the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said yesterday.

He said -- quote -- "If a Russian strike drone appeared near New York or San Francisco, how would the U.S. Air Force and Navy react? I am quite confident that the U.S. military would act in an uncompromising way and would not allow its airspace or territorial waters to be breached." What did you think of that?

DOZIER: Well, and this from an ambassador who doesn't make public comments very often.

Again, it feels like they're -- that Moscow is trying to make this for ordinary Americans a threat to them, this faraway war that the Biden administration has been able to support without a lot of pushback from the U.S. population, instead coming to their backyard in a very real sense.

But the -- you can also see it in some of the Russian messaging. One of Vladimir Putin's former advisers was talking about this drone giving information to Ukraine to kill Russian soldiers. Again, it's a message to try to make Europeans, Americans take sides in this war, as Moscow feels Washington has.

KEILAR: Kim Dozier, always great to have you. Thank you so much.

Yet another bank crisis rattling world markets today. Here's a live look at the Dow. You can see right now it is down 638 point.

CNN's Matt Egan live at the Magic Wall to help us understand why that is.

So, Matt, regional bank stocks in the U.S. making huge rebounds yesterday after the government stepped in to save Silicon Valley Bank depositors. What's sparking this new drama on Wall Street?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Brianna, this new drama actually started overseas, in Europe, specifically.

All the attention right now is on Credit Suisse. This is Switzerland's number two lender. Now, trouble at Credit Suisse is nothing new. This bank has been in turmoil for years. Last year, they reported massive losses. But, just yesterday, they acknowledged material weaknesses in their financial reporting.

And, today, their biggest backer, a Saudi bank, said that they don't have any interest in plowing more money into this bank. And that's on top of ongoing withdrawals of money from customers at Credit Suisse.

Let's look at what this stock is doing right now, down 25 percent today. That's a very big drop for one of Europe's biggest banks. And look at where they have gone. Look at where the stock has gone the last 10 years. It is now at record lows.

Look at the regional banking sector in the United States. It's kind of mixed today after the big gains yesterday. But the one you want to pay attention to here is First Republic Bank down 22 percent. This comes after both Fitch and S&P just today said that they're cutting the credit ratings of this San Francisco-based lender, worried about customer withdraws.

And what's interesting is that the selling has even spread to some of the biggest banks, despite the fact that those banks are actually getting customer money from the smaller banks, J.P. Morgan Chase down 5 percent, 6 percent for Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo down. Clearly, nervousness about the banking system continues.

KEILAR: Walk us through these new reports on inflation and retail sales numbers.

EGAN: On any other day, this inflation report would be the big story.

Producer prices -- that's wholesale inflation -- cooling off much more than expected, coming in at 4.6 percent year over year in February, as you can see on this chart, really moving in the right direction. It's a sharp decline, almost 12 percent, this time last year.


So this is certainly going in the right direction, good news for consumers there, retail sales. Now, consumers, they pulled back on spending in February. We saw a month-over-month drop. But this comes after a big gain in January. So some of this is just a giveback.

Where are people spending money? Year over year, we still see big increases in spending for department stores, food and drink services -- that's restaurants -- autos, but they are pulling back on electronics, gas station -- part of that is because gas prices are lower -- and also auto dealers.

Now, the question is, what is the Federal Reserve going to do at next week's meeting? And what's so interesting to me is that no one really knows what the Fed is going to do. At last look, we have basically a 50/50 split between no interest rate hike, they hold things steady, which is a big change, because, previously, people expected a ramp-up, and 50 percent, 55 percent saying a quarter-of-a-point move.

It is very interesting that, almost a week, basically exactly a week away, no one really knows what the Fed is going to do. Brianna, this is shaping up to be a very suspenseful Fed meeting, and one that has a lot on the line right now for the economy and for the banking system.

KEILAR: Yes, it's really interesting to ask economic experts about this, because some think they will, some thing they won't raise interest rates. Sort of that rare moment where it's a question mark here.

Matt, thank you so much for taking us through all of that.

And tonight on "CNN PRIMETIME," the failure of Silicon Valley Bank, how did it happen and what does it mean for the American banking system at large? Poppy Harlow asks the experts. "CNN PRIME-TIME: Bank Bust: What's Next For America's Money?" is tonight at 9:00 Eastern.

Ahead, all eyes on Texas. Right now, a Trump-appointed federal judge there is hearing a case that could end access to a key abortion pill nationwide.

Plus, the FAA holding a safety summit after a string of near- collisions between commercial planes. Can they reverse this disturbing trend?

And an alarming report predicting a massive surge in Alzheimer's cases.



KEILAR: Happening right now, a Trump appointed federal judge in Texas is hearing a case that could end nationwide access to the abortion pill mifepristone.

It is part of a two-drug combo used in medication abortions, the most common method in the U.S. It is an unprecedented case and the most significant legal battle on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

Anti-abortion groups are asking the judge to step in and force the FDA to revoke its more-than-two-decade-old approval of mifepristone.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in Amarillo following this high-stakes hearing.

Rosa, what are you hearing from inside the courtroom?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the plaintiffs made their arguments based on merit and standing. But the most important part so far from the plaintiffs' arguments is actually a question that the judge asked the plaintiffs.

The judge asked them to point to another case in which a judge did exactly what the plaintiffs are asking this particular judge to do. So what are they asking him to do? They're asking him to yank off a shelf a medication. Now, think about that and process that with me for just a second.

They're asking a judge, who is not a subject matter expert, who's not a scientist, to overrule the FDA, who are the scientists, who have done all of the research for the approval of this -- of these drugs. Now, this drug has been approved for more than 20 years. So there's been a long history of this drug being used by millions of women in the United States.

Now, back to the question that the judge made to the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs could not point to another case in which this has happened. That's why this is so unprecedented. Now, about the implications and the impact here, if this judge indeed rules in favor of the plaintiffs, we're talking about millions of women across this country who will be impacted.

Now, since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, so many women in this country don't have access to abortions in their own particular states. For those women that are in states where there is a ban on abortion, this is their only option. This is the option that they have. For women who are in states where abortions are not banned, this is an option that they have without having to go into a clinic. So, again, the implications are very vast here. Now, the plaintiffs

are also asking the judge for a swift and complete decision. Now, does that mean that the judge could be compelled to rule from the bench? He has the power to do that. Will he do that, we don't know.

What's happening on -- what's happening right now in the building that you see behind me, the courtroom where this is happening, is, the U.S. DOJ is now making the arguments on behalf of the FDA. And, Brianna, we're not inside the courtroom. I'm not inside the courtroom. We have a reporter inside the courtroom.

But we know that the FDA is expected to make the argument that this drug is safe, that it's been approved for years. It's been used by millions of women. And so we're going to have to see what happens. There are no cell phones allowed inside. And, also, there's no in-and- out access into this courthouse. It's the reason why I'm outside and not inside, so I could be reporting the news to you.

But we're going to have to see how this pans out -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, we certainly are.


Rosa, thank you so much for that report from Amarillo.

And joining us now to discuss is Dr. Sujatha Reddy. She is an OB-GYN at Premier Care for Women in Atlanta.

Dr. Reddy, thanks for being with us.

This is a lawsuit you are tracking very closely. It claims that mifepristone is not safe and that the FDA didn't study it closely enough before approval. Is that accurate?

DR. SUJATHA REDDY, PREMIER CARE FOR WOMEN: Yes, I don't agree with that statement.

It is a really safe medication. It's been used in Europe for even longer than it was used in the U.S. So there's decades of evidence supporting its safety and its efficacy as it's used. So it is a good drug.

And I think the FDA did with mifepristone what it did with a lot of medications, which, it looked at the data that it had gave an approval, and then it actually relooked at the data several years later and reaffirmed the safety.

There are strict guidelines in the U.S. for prescribing this product. So it's been used, as Rosa said, by millions of women with minimal complications and side effects.

KEILAR: More than half of all the abortions in the U.S. use the two drug-combo of mifepristone and misoprostol.

Misoprostol would actually still be available, because it also has other uses, right, like preventing stomach ulcers. How safe and effective would it be to use misoprostol for abortions and miscarriages on its own?

REDDY: Yes, by itself, misoprostol would not be as good of a medication or a process for termination of pregnancy as the two-drug approach, which is why we have used the two-drug approach.

But you're exactly right. We use misoprostol -- we also call it Cytotec -- I use that to help me with procedures in the office sometimes before surgery. So it's a medication that's been around for a very long time, also very, very safe.

But, by itself, it is not as effective. And I think it would really limit a woman's ability to have a termination of pregnancy or an abortion at this point, because, as Rosa said, right now, in states where there is the heartbeat law, this is one of the few ways women have access to termination of pregnancy, with the medications.

KEILAR: What about for the treatment of miscarriages, where a woman is not expelling, right, where there is an additional step, right, there is no life?

REDDY: Correct.

In the case of something that -- where we see that the pregnancy has failed, we do use misoprostol, or Cytotec, by itself. But in the cases where the pregnancy hasn't failed, it is not going to be nearly as effective as the two-drug approach. So it really is, by itself, not as good of a process.

But I think that brings up another point, that the medical termination of pregnancy has a lot less risk for women than the actual procedure that can be done. It's a really good alternative, which is why more women opt for it, because it is -- does have lower risk.

KEILAR: So you say that taking away mifepristone is, in a sense, preventing abortions altogether in states where abortion is restricted after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Can you explain that a little further?


If you take away mifepristone, I think you're making it much harder. You're limiting access to abortion, for sure. I can't say you're completely taking it away. But I do think you're making it much harder, and you're making the ability to get one much more restricted. So there's no question that's what this lawsuit is about.

KEILAR: We know more and more patients actually travel out of their state, right? They're crossing state borders looking for an abortion because Roe v. Wade was struck down. They cannot get one in their state.

What does it mean for those clinics if mifepristone is banned nationwide? Do they have the means to handle another influx of patients?

REDDY: Yes, that's a great question.

And I'm sure they will be severely stretched to their limits, if they aren't already. And I'm sure they would have to -- I would think, based on what I understand, they would have to turn away some patients or expand services. But we all know how difficult that can be.

So I think this -- restricting this drug or reversing the approvals, as the plaintiffs are hoping, really aims at limiting abortion access even further than it already is. And if you talk to older gynecologists, before Roe v. Wade went into place, the complications of abortions killed women, made women infertile.

I mean, people were having terminations. They were just having them in unsafe ways. So there is no question that reversing Roe v. Wade has made it much more difficult for women to find termination of pregnancy facilities. But by taking away this pill, you're going to even more markedly reduce their ability to get safe, effective termination options.


KEILAR: Dr. Reddy, thank so much. We do appreciate your time today.

REDDY: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: So there have been seven near-collisions between airplanes since the start of this year between commercial airplanes. And the FAA wants to know why. It's asking experts, pilots and air traffic controllers in a safety summit today.

And we will have details on that next.