Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Putin; Ukraine Families Want Reunion with Children; Investigating Trump; Police Clash with Paris Protesters; Credit Suisse Shares Close 8 Percent Lower on Friday. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired March 18, 2023 - 04:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to all you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, we're following global reaction to the arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin. We'll go live to Kyiv ahead.

Plus one U.S. state moved to outlaw the use or prescription of abortion pills.

The signs that point to a possible indictment of Donald Trump possibly soon. This comes amid a monumental ruling by a federal judge involving one of former's president's attorneys.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: For Russian president Vladimir Putin, the world could be a lot smaller than it was for him 24 hours ago. The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him and the Kremlin so- called children's rights commissioner, alleging they're responsible for the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

The international court was created to prosecute individuals accused of such actions. Right now, 123 countries recognize its jurisdiction. And if Putin travels to any one of them, he could be potentially arrested there.

Russia, however, is dismissing the warrant since it's not an ICC member state; neither is the U.S. On Friday, President Biden voiced support for court's decision.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think it's justified. But the question is it's not recognized internationally by us, either. But I think it makes a very strong point.


BRUNHUBER: Ukraine's president also agreed with the ICC warrant, saying its significance can't be overstated.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is a historic decision that will lead to historic responsibility.

More than 16,000 cases of forced deportation of Ukrainian children by the occupier have already been recorded. But the real, full number of deportees may be much higher. Such a criminal operation would have been impossible without the order of the highest leader of the terrorist state.


BRUNHUBER: The ICC chief prosecutor believes Putin could stand trial for the crimes even though Russia doesn't recognize its jurisdiction. Here's what he told CNN in an exclusive interview.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you believe it's possible that one day we will see President Vladimir Putin in the dock?

KARIM ASAD AHMAD KHAN, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT CHIEF PROSECUTOR: I think those that think it's impossible, fail to understand history, because the major Nazi war criminals, Milosevic, Karadzic, Mladic, former president Charles Taylor, John Kambanda from Rwanda, Hissene Habre, all of them were mighty, powerful individuals.

And yet they found themselves in courtrooms, whose conduct was being adjudicated over by independent judges.

And that also gives cause for hope, that the law can, however difficult it may be, the law can be supreme.

WARD: So is the message today that nobody is above the law?

KHAN: I think the message must be that basic principles of humanity bind everybody.

And nobody should feel they have a free pass, nobody should feel they can act with abandon and that definitely, nobody should feel that they can act and commit genocide or crimes against humanity, war crimes with impunity, because we have an International Criminal Court. We also have basic norms of customary international law.


BRUNHUBER: There was the ICC chief prosecutor speaking with Clarissa Ward and you can watch the full interview in the next hour. We're covering this story from all angles. We're live in Kyiv and in

Istanbul with Russia's reaction.

David, let's start with you, you've been looking in the issue at stake, the allegations of illegal deportation of Ukrainian children and the effect.

What more can you tell us?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a serious allegation, of course. The International Criminal Court is the court of last resort.

And they have been investigating months these allegations that Russia, ordered by Vladimir Putin and through his head of children's rights, a very ironic term, have been moving thousands of Russian children out of occupied areas of Ukraine into Russia, including orphans.

We followed mothers, desperately trying to get their children back.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): Weeks ago, we first Tetyana Blanco (ph) in Kyiv. In a shelter for displaced families.


MCKENZIE (voice-over): All of the mothers here separated from their children by the trauma of war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Emotions overwhelmed me when Lilya (ph) left. When I realized what was happening it terrified me. All I wanted was the best for my child at the time.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Her 11-year-old daughter, Lilya (ph) stuck a Russian camp in occupied Crimea. All the lessons are in Russian. At first glance, the retreats seem like any other summer camp.

But the loyalty expected from Ukrainian children is crystal clear, part of what a new Yale University study calls systematic reeducation efforts.

But Tetyana and Lilya's (ph) story begin as years ago, the hometown of Kherson fell quickly to advancing Russian troops. Within days, the occupiers began a campaign to Russify the population, often coercing thousands of parents to send their kids to the camps.

But when Ukrainian forces took back Kherson in November, her daughter was on the wrong side of the front line.

MYKOLA KULEBA, SAVE UKRAINE: We provide rescue mission for children who were abducted and now in Russia for duration and in Crimea.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Mykola Kuleba, the founder of Save Ukraine, declined to say exactly how they negotiated their entry into enemy territory, just that the mothers can't do it on their own. KULEBA: It's impossible to communicate with any Russians because you

can ask these mothers, they don't want to give children back.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): But Tetyana (ph) was ready to take the risk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm worried, of course. You cannot even imagine my emotions inside. It's fear and terror, it's emotional I could see her soon and this is a big deal for me.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Eleven mothers and one father putting on a brave face. But theirs is a perilous route, from Ukraine by road to Poland into Russian allied Belarus, through the Russian Federation to occupied Crimea.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Every kilometer on approach, I could feel it with every cell in my body. I was very emotional when they were closer and closer.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): Save Ukraine spent many months planning this moment, reuniting families, shattered by war, returning children who just wanted to home to Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Once I entered, to me it was an outburst of emotions. Once we embraced, it was like a great weight lifted.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): In the end, they gave up the children willingly. But Save Ukraine said that hundreds, perhaps thousands remain.

"Our two countries are at war," says Tetyana (ph), "but there are good people everywhere."


MCKENZIE: Now the most serious allegations by the prosecutor don't deal with those kind of cases necessarily, though they are very disturbing. They say that there have been potentially hundreds of children taken from orphanages, from state run organizations, into Russia, adopted by Russian parents.

The Russian authorities and the Kremlin say that this is all rubbish, that they're not even party to the treaty. So they say the ICC has no jurisdiction over these arrest warrants. But there are still many children on other side of the front line, with mothers trying to get them back.

BRUNHUBER: Those hugs that you showed there, so emotional. Great reporting there, David McKenzie in Kyiv, thanks so much.

Nada Bashir is in Istanbul with more on Russia's reaction to the arrest warrants.

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you heard in David's reporting, Russia has rejected this case, this warrant by the ICC. We heard yesterday from Russia ambassador to the United Nations, accusing the ICC of being a biased and prejudiced body. They say, in their words, the ICC is a puppet for Western nations.

And that's been underscored by Dmitry Peskov. He took to Twitter in response to the ICC's announcement to say this was both outrageous and unacceptable, in his words.

Reiterating the fact that Russia is not party to the ICC, doesn't recognize its jurisdiction. And that message was really underscored by foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova just yesterday, take a listen.


MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country. Russia is not a member of the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court and bears no obligations under it.

Russia does not cooperate with this body and possible pretenses for arrest coming from the international court of justice will be legally null and void for us.



BASHIR: As we have heard now, from Moscow they do not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC. So when it comes to the impact this will have on the ground, the reaction on the ground and the everyday actions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, may not be seeing any significant changes there.

That was certainly what we heard yesterday from the ICC president, who spoke to CNN, describing this as not a magic wand. We're not going to immediately see an end to violence but the hope from the ICC and the belief is that this could act as a deterrent in the future.

There's still teams on ground investigating each and every day the Russian aggression taking place in Ukraine. Those allegations of war crimes and that evidence will prove crucial in the coming years when it comes to seeking legal accountability for Russia's war crimes in Ukraine.

And that was certainly the direction from the European Union.

We heard yesterday from the E.U.'s foreign policy, Josep Borrell, who said this was an important historical step but also noted this was only the beginning, an important first step, in his words, to what will be a continued focus on seeking accountability by independent international bodies like the ICC for accountability when it comes to Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

So this is a significant step forward, it's somewhat unprecedented and rare to see a sitting head of state facing this kind of warrant by the ICC. But of course, with Russia not a party to the treaty, as neither is the United States, there's some debate whether or not this will have impact whatsoever from President Putin's direction. BRUNHUBER: Thank you so much I appreciate it.


BRUNHUBER: For more on this I want to bring in Sir Geoffrey Nice, a British barrister.

Thanks so much for being here. I want to build what we were hearing from our reporter. I want to get your perspective on the importance of this warrant and what effect it could have.

SIR GEOFFREY NICE, BRITISH BARRISTER: Extremely important for several reasons. First, it means that this man is now labeled and labeled until he dies unless, by chance, he goes for trial and is acquitted or the International Criminal Court withdraws the warrant.

He's labeled for life as a criminal. That was pretty obvious to the public from almost the beginning of the war, that this was a criminal war led by a man who therefore must himself be criminal.

But it's a great step to have taken -- maybe a bit later than we would have liked to have him labeled in this way. He won't be able to travel freely in many places. And his being labeled in this way is extremely important for the alliance of countries, including, of course or led by the United States of America, supporting Ukraine.

Any of those countries that now want to separate out, maybe because they would rather have cheap gas and oil because they've just tired of supporting Ukraine, will find it much more difficult when the man leading the war against whom they have so far been giving support is identified in this way, as a man who needs to be tried.

So it's very important for those two reasons and maybe others. But (INAUDIBLE).

BRUNHUBER: Do you think that Putin will ever face accountability in the actual criminal court?

NICE: It's impossible for me to say or I dare say security and political correspondents will be better able to advise on that. But as Mr. Khan said, surprising things do happen.

As indeed, with Milosevic, his handover by (INAUDIBLE) government or by -- for Charles Taylor of Liberia. So those once charged, as he has been, can never be sure that the day of judgment may not come for them. The percentage prospect of that happening are completely beyond my express and useful opinion.

BRUNHUBER: How challenging do you think it would be to link Putin and his so-called children's rights commissioner directly with these alleged crimes?

NICE: I don't think it would be difficult at all. He's been quite open about what he's actually done and providing the criminal side of it can be proved by showing the unwillingness to go the inappropriateness of them to go. And the case is an easy one to prove. Or maybe. And it should be borne

in mind that the express difficulty, the difficulties described by lawyers of these cases, perhaps rather more what lawyers see in things than everybody else does.

It's been very obvious from the very beginning, for example, in the attacks on civilian places like blocks of flats and so on throughout Ukraine, that this was a criminal war.


NICE: And there's no way that Putin could have denied responsibility for what was going on because, like the rest of us, he has a television, so he can see what was going on.

Did you ever hear of him saying, I'm sorry, that wasn't what I intended?

And it shouldn't have happened, and I'll call back the commanders concerned and put them on trial.

Of course, he didn't. It's perfectly obvious what's been happening in this war, including in the forced transfer of children, which is contrary to -- it's a war crime but it can also feature as a crime against humanity and, in certain circumstances, can qualify as genocide.

It's quite apparent he's responsible. So I don't actually think proof of command responsibility resting with him is a big task.

BRUNHUBER: From a U.S. perspective, we heard from President Biden, who said he supported the warrant.

But how much more weight would it have if the U.S. actually recognized the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court?

NICE: Well, it would have more weight. And it's a matter of great regret that the United States does not recognize or would not take part in its work as an active state's party. That would, in fact, be the single act which would most advance international justice.

But in the particular circumstances in which we find ourselves, I think the very fact that at last leading politicians are using the word "criminal" connected to Putin is what really matters.

It should have happened earlier but better late than never. And (INAUDIBLE) at least it's possible, I'm not suggesting it's your opinion, you imply in your question the world is, in a way, waiting for America to say yes, we back international justice for crimes committed in war by becoming part of the International Criminal Court.

That's something the rest of us are looking at and hope it will.

BRUNHUBER: Appreciate getting your insight, Geoffrey Nice, thank you so much for being here with us.

NICE: Not at all, you're most welcome.


BRUNHUBER: Still ahead, a tumultuous week for global markets comes to a close but fears of a banking crisis are still rattling investors. The latest from Wall Street coming up.

Plus French president Emmanuel Macron raises the pension age without putting it to a vote and triggers a furious response. We'll look at demonstrations showing no signs of stopping. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: The Wyoming governor signed a bill imposing a blanket ban on abortion pills taking effect July 1st for not just those who prescribe and sell such medications but also anyone using it.

Anyone found guilty could face up to six months behind bars and a fine of up to $9,000. The governor also approved a bill to ban abortion in most circumstances. It does have some exceptions, including cases of sexual assault, when a mother's life is in danger and the case of a lethal fetal anomaly.

Multiple sources tell CNN a possible indictment against former president Trump could come early as next week. This is in the New York investigation into the hush money scheme involving adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The sources say city, state and federal law enforcement agencies met all week to discuss the logistics of indicting a former U.S. president, including navigating a potential surrender, processing arrest and handling his appearance at arraignment.

Security was another major focus. Authorities are concerned about protests outside the courthouse and threats against officials from Trump supporters.

A blockbuster ruling in the special counsel's investigation of Donald Trump's handling of classified documents: a federal judge has ordered one of the former president's lawyers to answer more questions before the grand jury, agreeing with prosecutors that there should be an exception to the attorney-client privilege.

The second round of testimony that could make the lawyer, Evan Corcoran, one of the most crucial witnesses in the investigation. Katelyn Polantz reports.


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The Justice Department and special counsel Jack Smith have won a monumental court decision on Friday in their investigation into Donald Trump and his handling of classified records.

In this decision that they got under seal from Federal Judge Beryl Howell in the D.C. District Court on Friday, that decision says that conversations between Trump's attorney, Evan Corcoran, and Donald Trump himself may have been part of the commissioning of a crime.

So that's what a federal judge is now agreeing with the Justice Department on that. That is a really, really significant thing, the sort of legal opinion that's going to be remembered and give momentum to not just the special counsel's investigation but also be remembered for presidencies to come.

What the practical impact of this is that Evan Corcoran, the defense attorney for Donald Trump, he already testified in federal court before the grand jury investigating the handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Judge Howell at D.C. District Court is saying he's going to have to come back now and finish his testimony. All of the things he declined to answer because he said they were confidential, because they were attorney-client communications.

Those sorts of conversations he cannot protect any longer because of what the Justice Department has done in this case.

Donald Trump's team, they do have the opportunity to appeal and they are vowing to fight this. But they still haven't even seen the extent of the legal reasoning from Judge Howell. The opinion is not fully available to them yet. They are probably going to get a redacted version of it in the coming days.

So they won't know exactly what the Justice Department has at this time in this criminal investigation. And all of this is still sealed to the public, as special counsel Jack Smith wraps up his grand jury investigation into classified records -- Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.



BRUNHUBER: As his legal troubles continue to swirl, Donald Trump is moving ahead with his bid to return to the White House. He's expected to hold his first formal campaign rally next Saturday at an airport in Waco, Texas. This will be the first large scale rally since declaring his intention to run for reelection.

Ahead, much more on the ICC arrest warrant for Russia's president. How the court's latest move compares to previous war crime trials. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

More on the top story. The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russia's president over alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

The ICC says, along with Russia's so-called children's rights commissioner, Vladimir Putin is responsible for the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. CNN Matthew Chance has more on the ICC's decision and its previous efforts to prosecute war crimes. We want to warn you, his report contains graphic images.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The suspected crime of overseeing the abduction of Ukrainian children has earned Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova a place in a rogue's gallery of alleged war criminals.

Although the ICC, established in The Hague in 2002, has a checkered record of bringing those accused of wrongdoing to justice ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is guilty of the crimes of conscription and enlisting children.


CHANCE (voice-over): -- it took the court nearly 10 years to get its first conviction: Thomas Lubanga of the Democratic Republic of Congo sentenced for his role in recruiting child soldiers.

Many ICC cases have focused on African states, prompting criticism of disproportionality. Libya's former leader, Moammar Gadhafi, was charged with crimes against humanity in 2011.

LUIS MORENO-OCAMPO, ICC PROSECUTOR: Implementing the arrest warrant will send clear signals to those who commit crimes in Libya or elsewhere. You cannot gain power or retain power committing crimes against humanity. The world will not allow you to do it.

CHANCE (voice-over): But he was brutally killed by a Libyan mob before he could be brought to justice.

Before the ICC, war crimes were handled by special U.N. tribunals, like that set up to prosecute war crimes perpetrated in the Bosnia War and breakup of Yugoslavia, including the high-profile trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president, for the mass killing of innocent people.

SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC, SERBIAN AUTOCRAT: I consider this tribunal false tribunal and indictments false indictments. It is illegal.

CHANCE (voice-over): He died in jail before his trial ended, denying many the justice they yearned for.

Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader, was indicted in 1995 but evaded arrest until 2011. The court found he was guilty of genocide. And in 2017, he began a lifetime prison sentence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tribunal will sentence you - sentences you to death by hanging.

CHANCE (voice-over): But it was, of course, the Nuremberg trials of prominent Nazis after the Second World War that set the standard for war crimes prosecutions.

There's far less unity among nations today, though, about who is guilty and who is not. And despite the indictments, few expect the Russian leader ever to see the inside of a court -- Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


BRUNHUBER: As Russia's president becomes a wanted man, Moscow is about to mark the anniversary of its initial land grab in Ukraine. Nine years ago, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, which Ukraine at the time called a robbery on an international scale.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is expected to mark the anniversary during a video conference and inaugurate a monument. Ukraine made it clear it wants to recapture Crimea, along with other areas occupied by Moscow.

Ukraine says Russia is building a strong defensive force in Crimea.

Along with news about the arrest warrant for Putin, we heard he will meet his Chinese counterpart face-to-face next week. The war in Ukraine is expected to dominate the agenda. CNN's Selina Wang has details from Beijing.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chinese leader Xi Jinping flies to Moscow next week to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin, his first visit since Russia invaded Ukraine. It's a powerful show of Xi's emboldened diplomatic ambitions and Beijing support for Moscow.

China's foreign ministry said the country's, quote, "proposition" boils down to one sentence, which is to urge peace and promote talks.

Beijing has tried to present itself as a neutral peace broker on Ukraine, publishing a position paper last month calling for a political settlement and casting Xi as a global statesman with fresh momentum after helping Saudi Arabia and Iran broker a historic deal to restore diplomatic ties.

But Western leaders are skeptical of Beijing's portrayal as a mediator. Xi and Putin declared a no limits partnership last year when Putin visited Beijing for the Winter Olympic opening ceremony. Xi has met Putin in person 39 times since becoming China's leader, even exchanging gifts, including pandas.

China has refused to condemn the invasion or even call it an invasion. Instead, Beijing has parroted the Kremlin's misinformation while blaming NATO.

On China's heavily censored social media, it's all hearts and thumbs up emojis in response to the government's official post about the state visit, with comments like, "Hope Russia will win soon," "Hope there will be world peace" and "Long live China Russia friendship."

Beijing has also strengthened economic and military ties with Moscow by boosting trade and holding frequent military exercises. Western officials have raised concerns that China may be considering providing Russia with lethal military aid. Beijing has denied the accusation.


WANG (voice-over): Last month, Putin told China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, in Moscow that relations between their countries are reaching new milestones. The two nations bound together by their shared vision for a new world order no longer dominated by the West.

And while Xi has spoken to Putin multiple times since the invasion, virtually and in person, he's not yet had a single phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Though Ukraine's presidential adviser says negotiations about a potential Zelenskyy-Xi conversation are ongoing.

As Xi heads to Russia, the ability of China to help resolve the conflict hangs in the balance -- Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


BRUNHUBER: Finland is getting the green light to join NATO from two holdout countries. The Nordic nation along with its neighbor, Sweden, applied for membership last year after Russia invaded Ukraine.

New members must be approved by all NATO countries, but Turkiye and Hungary held back decisions until Friday. Ankara said it would it start the ratification process for Finland.

Hungary's ruling party promised to vote unanimously for Finland's membership in little more than a week. Finland's president welcomed the news but said its country's membership isn't complete without Sweden.

Ahead, millions of Nigerians are going to polls again, this time to elect new governors. We'll have a live report from Lagos coming up, stay with us.



(MUSIC PLAYING) BRUNHUBER: Anger boiled over in the streets of Paris Friday night

after the government raised the pension age from 62 to 64. Riot police threw tear gas into crowds of protesters as some chanted for President Emmanuel Macron to resign.

They're the latest skirmishes since Macron decided to push through the contested change without a full parliamentary vote. Mounds of trash are piling up across Paris as sanitation workers continue their strike over Macron's plan, which would raise the retirement age for trash collectors and drivers from 57 to 59.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. markets closed out a volatile week on Friday.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Stocks ended the day down as the tumultuous banking sector continues to unnerve Wall Street. The Dow tumbled nearly 400 points or about 1.2 percent. The Nasdaq slipped 0.7 percent. And the S&P 500 fell more than 1 percent.

There was a steep sell-off in the banking sector, a sign that investors are not satisfied with the response to the financial turmoil. First Republic saw its credit ratings downgraded by Moody's, which says the bank is facing significant challenges.

Shares of First Republic plunged about 33 percent on Friday. Meanwhile, PacWest is down about 19 percent and Zions Bank fell more than 7 percent. Investors are hoping next week's Federal Reserve meeting will shed more light on the trajectory of the economy.


BRUNHUBER: Earlier I spoke with Michael Imerman, an assistant professor of teaching and finance at UC Irvine and asked him, after a week of bailouts and cash infusions, how precarious is the banking situation now?


MICHAEL IMERMAN, UC IRVINE: The problem with any banking panic is that it's like a series of dominos. And once one domino -- once one of those dominos falls, it has a cascading effect. There's no way to know which will be the next to fall in this chain reaction. So I think everybody is kind of on the edge of their seat, wondering, who's next.

BRUNHUBER: The problem with these falling dominos, as you say, is how quickly things seem to have fallen. As you pointed out, social media has played a huge part in this.

IMERMAN: This wasn't a bank run; this was a bank sprint. And social media played a really central role in that bank sprint, if you will, because, historically, with a bank run, we'll see it unfold over a matter of days, weeks, even months. And with the use of social media and digital banking combined, I mean,

these are great technologies that enable us to be more connected than ever before and have access to more information in real time than ever.

But as information spreads so quickly people can act without having time to digest. And I think that's a large part of what happened with Silicon Valley Bank, when messages sent, people would pull up their phone, go to the banking app and transfer money out without thinking.

And this caused a digital bank run led like nothing we've ever seen before.

BRUNHUBER: The problem is part technology, as you say there, and part psychology, particularly how it spread to the regional banks.

IMERMAN: Right. And so part of what I think is going on right now is, you know, when there is a banking panic, often participants in this panic will not necessarily look at the economics or the fundamentals immediately but just look for commonalities between banks.

And so naturally, people are looking geographically in the Bay Area, assuming that there's some exposure to similar constituencies, clientele. And banks that have a similar size, so these regional banks especially on the West Coast of the U.S., were in a prime position to be put under the spotlight.

And then everybody starts examining things like their balance sheet and looking at depositor base and whose depositor base is similar to Silicon Valley Bank in terms of percentage of uninsured depositors.

That's why we see the crisis unfolding now with First Republic. So it's -- you're right. There's a bit of psychology -- I'm not a psychologist, I'm an economist.

But you know, there is a bit of psychology in this, that takes over everybody's rationality instead of kind of sitting down and looking and examining the facts and making more rational decisions. People just kind of rush to conclusions.

BRUNHUBER: Obviously, many people are having flashbacks to 2008. You know, we pointed out on this program how it is different than 2008 but a lot of these problems were supposed to have been fixed then but seems that they weren't.

Did we not learn the lessons?

Were they forgotten, ignored?

IMERMAN: The fact of the matter is, we as a society seem to have a short memory. So once a decade has passed, we keep repeating these problems over and over. You're right; the legislation put in place after the global financial crisis in 2008 was supposed to address many of these problems.

Too big to fail was major issue in 2008 and everybody said we shouldn't be bailing banks out, we shouldn't have too big to fail, so we put new measures in place to curb too big to fail.


IMERMAN: However, what happened when these regional banks come under pressure?

People pull money out of smaller banks.

And who do they go to?

The too big to fail banks because they feel more confident their money is safe there. And this sets off a vicious cycle because then people are pulling money out of banks again without looking at fundamentals or economics necessarily and feeding it to the too big to fail banks.

So the too big to fail banks are getting bigger and healthier and the smaller regional banks and community banks are the ones suffering. So there's this perverse effect that we see from too big to fail that was not anticipated in 2010.

BRUNHUBER: Final words of advice for our viewers, who are understandably maybe a bit panicky about everything they're seeing.

What would you say?

IMERMAN: So I think in terms of your ordinary bank customer, whether this is a consumer or a small business, as long as you are diversified among a number of different financial institutions, your deposits are insured up to $250,000.

So as long as you don't exceed that depositor base, there is a deposit insurance fund that will protect you with certainty. The question mark comes in is with the uninsured deposits. That was a big issue with Silicon Valley Bank and now a big issue with First Republic.

BRUNHUBER: Appreciate your expertise on this, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it.

IMERMAN: Thank you for having me, Kim.


BRUNHUBER: Voters in Africa most populous nation are heading back to the polls to elect new governors in 28 out of Nigeria's 36 states. The election was delayed so the electoral commission could reconfigure the voting machines use during February's presidential election.

U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken says he hopes any election disputes will be addressed through the Nigerian legal system.

I'm joined by Stephanie Busari in Lagos, Nigeria.

There were certainly plenty of issues during the presidential election, people not able to vote, security issues.

What are you expecting to see this time around? STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN SENIOR AFRICA EDITOR: Good morning, Kim. We're expecting more of the same. We've been to several polling units this morning already. Voting started about an hour ago. Some places haven't started.

So those delays we saw the last time are certainly present. And we're now here at polling unit in an area of Lagos, where people are telling us that they have faced voter intimidation from the community.

So the people have been here since 8:00 am, some of them, and been told that they must not vote -- they're not voting for the ruling party. Now one of the voters is joining me here, Nicole Chikwe (ph). And she will tell us how the voters, the people tried to stop them.

Thank you, Nicole (ph), for joining us.

What are we experiencing here?

NICOLE CHIKWE (PH), VOTER: So I got here at 8:00 am. We've been in a queue and as soon as we got here, we had a number of men from the community come out.

And they were yelling and saying, look, this is a community, this is not an S state (ph). After the rubbish you people did three weeks ago, you think you can come and impose your views on us. This is our village. If you want to vote and not align with us, then go back to your village.

BUSARI: What did they want you vote?

CHIKWE: It certainly feels like APC. So they had mentioned, you know, voting, APC. They didn't mention any other parties, but they just mentioned, if you don't align with us, then you will see what will happen when mad men here don't try this.

And he also mentioned, once we vote, we have to leave. We're not allowed to wait around and vote. And some people are asking, as part of the electoral act, we are allowed to be here for the counting of the votes.

Then, when that's captured by the polling unit, that would be uploaded to the BBAS (ph) system. And they said, no, once we're done voting, we have to leave. And if we don't leave, anything that happens to us, we have to take like that.

BUSARI: So thank you, Nicole, for joining us.

And so there you have it, Kim, some people here reporting that a woman was nearly attacked by people here in this community, who were saying that they must vote for the ruling party.

So this was similar to what was reported in the previous election, where people were -- there were attempts to suppress votes, if they're not voting in the right way, according to them. So we're on this story. We're going around to polling units but this what people are experiencing here, Kim. BRUNHUBER: We'll monitor that story throughout the day, Stephanie,

thank you so much.


BRUNHUBER: The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information on the whereabouts of a dual Mexican American citizen kidnapped in Mexico more than a year ago. Authorities say Maria del Carmen Lopez was taken from her home in southwestern Mexico on February 9th.

Federal officials say they do not believe drug cartels were involved in the kidnapping. Her family says she moved there after she retired and was living a quiet life back in her homeland. Lopez's daughter tells CNN she remains hopeful her mother will be returned to the family safely.

A massive bloom of seaweed is sliming the beaches of the Caribbean and parts of Florida. We'll have more on how bad this may get. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Have a look at this, a smelly seaweed bloom of historic proportions is slathering beaches and threatening tourism in the Caribbean. A trail of sargassum, seen here from space, spans more than 5,000 miles or 8,000 kilometers across the Atlantic.

It could pile up as high as six feet or two meters on some beaches. In Barbados, dump trucks are making thousands of trips to take it away. And it's on some Florida shores, with the worst expected by July.


BRUNHUBER: St. Patrick's Day was celebrated around the world on Friday, from the streets of Dublin --


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): -- to smaller towns, like this parade in County Kerry, where there was even a pub on wheels. People are still celebrating the ability to get together in large crowds since the end of the pandemic.


BRUNHUBER: And at the White House, U.S. President Biden greeted the Irish prime minister. The visit comes ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, which brought an end to decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

Fans around the world of the popular TV show "The Great British Bake Off" have something to look forward to, a new host, Alison Hammond, a well-known presenter, who also co-hosted this year's BAFTA Film Awards. The announcement was made on Friday on social media.

Hammond staged mock interviews of herself and her co-stars with dolls that were, of course, baked into a cake. Hammond became famous as a contestant on the "Big Brother" show in the U.K. more than 20 years ago. She's also hosted ITV's "This Morning."

It's no secrets they like to do things to the extreme and have a look. Blake Johnson, he's the exception. The Australian surfing coach broke the world record for a single surfing session, staying in the water for nearly 40 hours.

In that time rode more than 700 waves and Johnson did it for a good cause. He raised money for youth mental health and he said the biggest problem was the jellyfish.

That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Kim Brunhuber back with more top stories after a quick break, please do stay with us.