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Fox Suggests It May Have Top Execs, Hosts Take Stand At Trial; Sanders Grills Howard Schultz Over Alleged Anti-Union Tactics; Powerful Blasts Awaken Melitopol Residents. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 29, 2023 - 13:30   ET



DR. RAHUL GUPTA, DIRECTOR, WH OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY: We want to make sure that it's accessible across broad swaths of people.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: All right. Dr. Rahul Gupta. Thank you so much. Appreciate your time today.

GUPTA: Thank you, Alex. Nice to have it.

MARQUARDT: And we could soon see some of Fox News' most high-profile hosts taking the stand in the Dominion voting systems lawsuit. But will it's Rupert Murdoch be forced to testify? We'll be right back.



MARQUARDT: In a new court filing, Fox News is suggesting it is willing to put some of its top executives and most well-known hosts on the witness stand when Dominion Voting Systems $1.6 billion defamation case goes to trial.

Let's bring in CNN Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy. Oliver, Dominion asking for many of these same witnesses themselves. We have seen many of their text messages with their true feelings. It did not make them look good. So why is Fox willing to put them on the stand?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yeah, it's shaping up to be really a high-profile trial with some of the biggest names in right wing media potentially testifying. I mean, I think Fox, they're looking at this and they have a different incentive to put people like Bret Baier on the stand.

And you can imagine, perhaps in previous filings, they've pointed out that Bret Baier did fact check some of Trump's election lies. So perhaps they want to put him on the stand so that he can tell a jury that, look, we were fact checking some of Trump's election lies.

I can't speak to the others, but I'm sure Fox has some different incentive for putting these executives and hosts on the stand versus Dominion, which probably wants to grill them about the post-election coverage in the wake of the 2020 contest. MARQUARDT: And another person they may want to grill is of course, the

Chief Rupert Murdoch himself. And there are big questions over whether he would take the stand. Fox, I understand, is trying to fight that. What more can you tell us?

DARCY: Yeah, Fox is saying the 92-year-old Fox Corporation Chief Rupert Murdoch should not take the stand. In his testimony during the deposition position should basically be enough.

I'm not sure the judge is going to agree with that, if this does go to trial. He has suggested that he believes that Rupert Murdoch is obviously in a very important person at Fox and should potentially take the stand. He said he prefers live witnesses. And yesterday, during this virtual court hearing, he said that he really, you know, he thinks that Murdoch can travel. He talked about how Murdoch has expressed interest in traveling between his various residences and that he just got engaged. So it doesn't sound like someone who can't travel from wherever he is in the world to Wilmington, Delaware, for a very serious trial.

MARQUARDT: Well, I mean, given what we already know before the trials even started, it certainly is poised to be an extraordinary trial. Oliver Darcy, thank you very much for all your reporting on that.

Now, right now in the Senate, the gloves are off.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) HEALTH, EDUCATION, LABOR & PENSIONS CHAIRMAN: You've made more misstatements in a shorter period of time than I have ever heard.

SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN, (R) OKLAHOMA: Please correct me, because --

SANDERS: If I'm worth $8 million -- excuse me, all public, excuse me.

MULLIN: Yeah, go ahead. All right.

SANDERS: Excuse me.

MULLIN: Yes, sir.

SANDERS: If I'm worth $8 million, that's good news to me. I'm not aware of it. That's a lie, all right? Number two --

MULLIN: Part of public records.

SANDERS: You're probably looking at some phony right wing Internet stuff. It ain't true. All right? You should read beyond that.


MARQUARDT: Now, that exchange very heated between Senator Bernie Sanders and Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin. That came during a hearing on Starbucks alleged union busting tactics. Howard Schultz is the star witness today, just days after he stepped down from his third stint as the CEO of Starbucks. He is there under the threat of subpoena from Bernie Sanders.

CNN's Matt Egan has been following all this. Matt, that exchange, that wasn't even the main event. That was for Schultz to testify. So what did we hear on the Starbucks front?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, Alex, the main event really was Bernie Sanders confronting Starbucks founder Howard Schultz about his company's alleged union busting.

Sanders didn't mince any words. He accused Starbucks of waging, "the most aggressive and illegal union busting campaign in modern history." And he noted that Schultz, the company's founder, only agreed to testify after being threatened with a subpoena.

Listen to this exchange between Bernie Sanders and the Starbucks founder.


SANDERS: Let me remind you that Federal law at 18 U.S. Code Section 1001 prohibits knowingly and willfully making any fraudulent statement.


SANDERS: Were you ever informed of or involved in a decision to fire a worker who was part of a union organizing drive?

SCHULTZ: I was not.

SANDERS: Were you ever informed of or involved in a decision to discipline a worker in any way who is part of a union organizing drive?

SCHULTZ: I was not.

SANDERS: Have you ever threatened, coerced or intimidated a worker for supporting a union?

SCHULTZ: I've had conversations that could have been interpreted in a different way than I intended.


EGAN: Now, to make his point, Sanders pointed to a ruling from just a few weeks ago by a judge at the National Labor Relations Board who found that Starbucks displayed "egregious and widespread misconduct in its dealings with employees trying to unionize in Buffalo, New York.


Now, for his part, Schultz, he repeatedly stressed that Starbucks has not broken the law. He also referred to these allegations from the NLRB as just mere allegations, ones that he thinks will be disproven over time. Now, here's why all of this matters. I mean, Starbucks, of course, is a brand that a lot of Americans care about. They love. It's also a major employer. Look at that, almost half a million people around the world work for Starbucks, more than a quarter of a million in the U.S. alone. Starbucks raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour recently.

And Howard Schultz says the average store wage is 1750 nationally. But clearly, Starbucks has become sort of the latest flashpoint in this growing effort around the country by workers who are trying to fight for better wages, better benefits, and stronger working conditions. And, Alex, you know, this fight clearly is not going away.

MARQUARDT: All right, Matt Egan, thank you very much. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back with the latest from Israel. Stay with us.



MARQUARDT: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is acknowledging a rare and public dispute with President Joe Biden, who is urging the Israeli Prime Minister to walk away from his highly controversial proposed judicial reforms. Here's what Netanyahu had to say earlier today at the Summit for Democracy. Take a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: You know, Israel and the United States have had their occasional differences, but I want to assure you that the alliance between the world's greatest democracy and a strong, proud and independent democracy, Israel in the heart of the Middle East, is unshakable.


MARQUARDT: Yesterday, President Biden said that he will not be inviting Netanyahu to the White House anytime soon. And Biden issued a stinging response to Netanyahu's proposed judicial overhaul.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: Like many strong supporters of Israel, I'm very concerned, and I'm concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road. Hopefully, the Prime Minister will act in a way that he's going to try to work out some genuine compromise, but that remains to be seen.


MARQUARDT: And to that, Netanyahu responded on Twitter, saying, "Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people, and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends." That, of course, a reference to the United States.

Now to Ukraine, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has invited one of Vladimir Putin's closest allies to visit Ukraine. In an interview with The Associated Press, Zelenskyy called on Chinese Leader Xi Jinping to come to Kyiv and engage with him directly.

Zelenskyy also warned that the fall of the city of Bakhmut in the east would embolden Putin to push forward more aggressively.

In the meantime, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is in Ukraine inspecting the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. That's the biggest power plant in Europe. That is for a second time, amid significant safety concerns because the plant is occupied by Russian forces. A Russian state news agency reported that the U.N. nuclear watchdog is working on a new concept to secure the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

And elsewhere in Ukraine, much of the occupied southern city of Melitopol is now without power after reports of powerful blasts earlier this morning. Let's bring in CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman, who's live on the ground in Eastern Ukraine.

Ben, a big question in Ukraine right now, which you've been reporting on, is when and where Ukraine's military will mount a counter offensive. And we've just heard a little bit more from Ukraine's defense minister on that.


MARQUARDT: Hey, Ben, can you hear me? It's Alex.

WEDEMAN: Yes. Sorry, for a moment, I lost communications. Yes, the Ukrainian Defense Minister had an interview -- television interview with Estonian television in which he said that Ukraine would probably, with the arrival of new tanks from Western Europe, launch an offensive in April or May.

Now, this really doesn't come as a big surprise. It's widely anticipated that this was going to happen. The timing is obviously very much in the air now. Now, what's interesting is what we've seen in just the last few days is the Ukrainians have clamped down on the media. We're no longer allowed to go to Bakhmut nor other areas along the front line.

Now, whether that is because they don't want us to see them having troubles on the front line or if it's preparation for an offensive, it's hard to say. But certainly we were here for the entire month of January and we saw fair amount of reinforcements coming into the Ukrainian side.

My colleague Ivan Watson preceded me in this area and he said also that what he was seen as a constant buildup of forces in the area. So, as I said, not a complete surprise what we heard from the Ukrainian foreign minister, but just an indication of perhaps what we can expect in the coming weeks or perhaps months ahead. And I think I've lost communications again.

MARQUARDT: Well, what may be coming may be indeed quite dramatic. The Ukrainians expected to mount a counter offensive with newly trained troops and new military equipment. Our thanks to Ben Wedeman there in eastern Ukraine.


Now King Charles of the United Kingdom is the third -- is making his world debut. Sorry, King Charles III. He's in Germany for his first state visit abroad. We have a live report from the iconic Brandenburg Gate, that's coming up.


MARQUARDT: A historic moment in Germany today. We have video of King Charles III with his wife, Queen Camilla, the consort, greeted by German President Steinmeier and his wife at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.


It is King Charles first overseas visit as monarch and the first time ever that a head of state has officially been welcomed at the Brandenburg Gate. The first part of the king's trip was to France, and that was postponed due to the unrest and ongoing protest there over pension reform. CNN Royal Correspondent Max Foster joins us live from Berlin. Max, how has this visit been going so far?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have to say it does feel really historic. I mean, a lot of this is about symbolism, of course, as opposed to what actually happens. But for the first time I can remember, we were on the royal flight and we were flanked by fighter jets, German fighter jets, escorting the King as he came into Germany.

I hadn't thought seen that happen before. And then when we got here, as you say, we came straight here to the Brandenburg Gate. Big crowds. And this is the first time, we think, since the Second World War. We think could possibly be ever, that a foreign head of state has been welcomed for a full ceremonial welcome here at the Brandenburg Gate. So they really did roll out the red carpet. This is King Charles's first state visit anywhere, anywhere, because earlier on in the week, as you know, he was meant to go to France. That got canceled because of those demonstrations. So it was a big event.

Actually, the French embassy is just next to us. They're all up there at the window, looking down at this, wondering, you know, perhaps it was a bit embarrassing we weren't able to handle this ourselves. But this becomes the historic moment.

The King will spend the next couple of days here. The family has strong links to Germany. He has ancestors that come from here. The last time I was here with the royal family was with his mother, the Queen. That was her last state visit. So this is now the King's first state visit.

So there's some poetry there as well. It's the government that decides where he goes. So this is also about connecting, reconnecting, if I can say that, with Germany post-Brexit.

MARQUARDT: That gate, the site of so much history. And that's where we find Max Foster tonight. Thank you very much, sir. Take care. Now, that does it for us. We have much more news after this quick break.