Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Interview With Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY): Congress Grills Fed Officials Over Banks Failures; Florida School District Investigates Movie After Parent Complains; Biden, Netanyahu Trade Barbs Over Plan To Weaken Israeli Courts; Narcan Becomes First Over-the-Counter Opioid Overdose Antidote. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 29, 2023 - 15:30   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: The people in charge of regulating the country's banks were taken to task today by members of Congress about what led to those failures at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. The second and largest -- rather the 2nd and 3rd largest bank collapses in U.S. history.


REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA): It's particularly ironic, it's the Fed that's raising the interest rates and then the Fed that's not examining banks to see if they can survive if interest rates go up. The concern we all have is, are there other banks that could go under?


BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Well joining us now is one of the Congressman who sits on the Financial Services Committee, Congressman Ritchie Torres. Always great to see you. Thanks very much for coming up with us. What was notable about these bank collapses was just the sheer speed in which it all happened. I mean, just a matter of hours. And I know you and others have pointed to social media and their role in the bank runs that we saw ensue afterwards. You have introduced legislation that require the government to monitor social media for warning other banks if, in fact, that would indeed happen again.


That may sound good in theory, but how would that actually work in practice?

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): Well, the sheer speed of the Silicon Valley Bank run is historically unprecedented. So by way of illustration consider the following comparison. Washington Mutual, which was the largest bank failure in American history, saw the loss of $16.7 billion over the course of 10 days. By contrast, Silicon Valley Bank so the loss of 42 billion in the span of a few hours.

The difference between then and now is social media. Social media has the power to amplify financial panic to an extent on a scale and at a pace that we've never seen before. And so I have legislation that would require banking regulators to consider a new kind of financial risk, social media risk, which has become a factor in causing bank runs.

And one concern I have is that a foreign adversary, a malicious foreign adversary, could manufacture financial panic on social media in order to destabilize the American banking system. So that's a national security risk that we have to bear in mind as we move forward.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that would be a nightmare Congressman. And as we've seen with so many other issues, misinformation online from maligned foreign actors, that is a very real possibility. I'm wondering on the legislation though you have the Treasury Department essentially overseeing the potential for a social media bank run. Why not put that responsibility on the banks themselves if they are already monitoring for things like fraud for their own potential weaknesses. Is that a possibility as well?

TORRES: I mean, we should do both. I mean, the banks themselves should monitor what is happening on social media, but it's important for the regulators to know whether financial panic, whether a bank run is coming so that we can intervene. Whenever there's a bank run in the making, time is of the essence. The sooner we can intervene. The quicker we can prevent a crisis. So it's all about ensuring that we're proactive and preventing a contagion from spreading to the broader banking system.

GOLODRYGA: And the concern about a potential contagion spreading, it still exists. This issue has not been laid to rest. And I'm wondering specifically in terms of rescuing and preventing any bank runs for smaller to midsize regional banks, would you support new legislation in which the FDIC effectively comes out and says that we ensure all depositors even those above 250,000.

TORRES: I mean, I'm in favor of unlimited deposit insurance for a limited period of time so that we can stabilize the banking system. I believe that the Federal Reserve should have put a pause on interest rates. Because these interest rates -- there's just too much happening too fast, and it's destabilizing the banking system.

It's also worth noting that the banks are sitting on more than $600 billion in unrealized losses from securities. A powerful case could be made that the Federal Reserve should purchase those securities and remove those losses from bank balance sheets. Because the problem is not the quality of the assets, the problem is that the duration. These are long term assets and their values actually has the ability exactly right.

So these are valuable assets and so there would be no harm in purchasing them and stabilizing the banking system.

SANCHEZ: Congressman Ritchie Torres, unfortunately we have to leave the conversation there, but I'm afraid we will have plenty to discuss in the coming weeks and months.

GOLODRYGA: Good to see you, Congressman, thank you. Well in Florida, it's statues, its books, and now there's a movie

under review by a school district. We'll explain just the latest controversy there up next.



SANCHEZ: Now that we're growing controversy in Florida, it's about Ruby Bridges. A 1998 Disney film about the black first grader who integrated an all white elementary school in the south.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move, get out of the way.


GOLODRYGA: A parent of a Florida second grader, filed a formal complaint after students watch the movie earlier this month, objecting to its use of slurs. They also argued that it could teach children that white people hate black people.

CNN chief investigative reporter Pamela Brown is filling in for Jake Tapper on "THE LEAD." And Pam I know you'll be speaking with the film screenwriter.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we will be later on in "THE LEAD" coming up in the next hour. We're going to be speaking to Toni Ann Morrison -- Johnson rather. She is a screenwriter for this film about Ruby Bridges. And we're going to get her reaction to the fact that now this film is under review in the school district in Florida. Because of a parent coming forward and petitioning it and saying that it shouldn't be allowed in the classroom.

You know, one of the key questions for her is what her reaction is. What does she say to this -- what this parent is arguing that second graders should not see this film. Because it might make it seem like white people hate black people. I mean, that is the thrust of the argument. And so we're going to ask her about that. And she has made clear that she believes that this film should be shown to second graders and that if parents don't want their child to see it, then they can opt out of it.


But she firmly believes that a film like this that is so important about the history of this country about Ruby Bridges, who was six years old and desegregated the school in New Orleans in 1960. That children who were seven and eight in second grade, they should be able to learn about this. That teachers should be able to provide it. And if a parent wants to opt out they can. She believes that a parent should not impose their will on what teachers can and cannot teach.

And in this case we know -- in this Florida case -- there was a permission slip that was sent home to parents, and they would could choose whether or not they wanted their child to watch this film. All but two signed it. And one of the two was this parent who is now objecting to the film, saying it shouldn't be shown in the school.

So, it'll be really interesting to hear Toni Johnson's perspective on this. She says for her part, she was six years old when she was called the "N" word. We know Ruby Bridges was six year old -- six years old when she did desegregated the school and was also called the "N" word.

So in her view, if a child can be called that and understand the meaning of that, then kids who are seven and eight in second grade, they should be able to learn about the history of racism in this country. So we're going to be able to talk about that with her coming up with the next hour.

SANCHEZ: I look forward to that interview. Pamela Brown thank you so much. Be sure to join Pam at the top of the hour on the lead right here on CNN.

GOLODRYGA: Thanks, Pam.

A rift in relations perhaps. President Biden says that he won't invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the White House in the near term. How Netanyahu is responding. That's next.



GOLODRYGA: The controversy surrounding Israel's attempts to reform its judicial system has officially reached the White House.

SANCHEZ: And President Biden says he will not be inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington anytime soon.

Netanyahu reacted by tweeting this: 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.

CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in Jerusalem for us. Nic you've been tracking some of the protests there over Netanyahu's attempts at remaking the judiciary. How much of all of that is putting a strain on Netanyahu's relationship with the White House and President Biden?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, senior Israeli government officials here are playing down the tension. They're saying that this is a tempest in a teapot. But I think what we've seen over the past few months since Prime Minister Netanyahu has formed a government with some extreme right wing elements is that the tensions with the White House have grown.

It was just a few months ago that Secretary of State Antony Blinken was here trying to talk to Prime Minister Netanyahu, calm tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. And try to persuade Netanyahu and his government not to expand settlements. But since that conversation, the government here has ignored that

advice. So I think what we're seeing from President Biden, who said, look, essentially, I hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to make a compromise over the issue of the judicial reforms. But let's wait and see. So this is sort of the latest phase in that in that tension.

And the same Israeli government official who said, look, you know, let's play this down, has also said, well, when it comes to the discussions with the leaders of the opposition, the Prime Minister is saying so far they're going well. But he added, look, the Prime Minister has got red lines on those judicial reforms as well.

So I think at the moment, it's a really an open question. Whether or not Netanyahu is going to dial back to sufficiency of the opposition here, to the sufficiency of the protesters and to the sufficiency of the White House. So, I think at the moment we can expect these tensions to continue.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, these are two men who have known each other going back some 40 years. Doesn't always mean that they got along for those 40 years, but they do have a long history with each other. Nic Robertson, thank you.

SANCHEZ: New today, the FDA approved the first over the counter version of the antidote for opioid overdoses. Details on this big step from the agency when we come back.



SANCHEZ: As drug overdose deaths hovered near record levels, the FDA just approved the first over the counter version of the opioid antidote, Narcan. Narcan works by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain and by restoring breathing.

GOLODRYGA: This is a really significant developments. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joins us with more. So Elizabeth, this will now be more widely available. How easy is it to use though?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Bianna, it's really quite easy. It's just a nose spray, just like you would use, say an allergy nose spray and it works really well. Right now you -- as we speak, you can get it at drugstores. But you have to ask the pharmacy for it. You don't need a prescription, but you do have to ask the pharmacist. It's behind the counter.

So the hope is by moving it on the shelves -- which is expected to happen later this year -- by moving it on the shelves next to the aspirin or the toothpaste or the shampoo that people will be able to buy it more easily.

And let's take a look at why this is so important. This is a graph that shows drug deaths from 2020 -- I'm sorry 1999 to 2021. You can see how swiftly they have grown. These are opioid overdose drug deaths. And so what we have now is that in 2021, there were more than 80,000 opioid drug deaths in the United States. And nearly 9,000 children and teens died between 1999 and 2016 from opioids.

And so the two questions that are basically left outstanding is, A, why didn't the FDA do this sooner? A lot of people said they should have done this years ago when we're asking for years ago.

And then the second one is, how much will Narcan or Naloxone cost when it goes over the counter? If the cost is high -- and we don't know what it's going to be -- if it's high then all of this really might be for not. Because people won't be able to afford to buy it -- Boris, Bianna.

SANCHEZ: It's still a significant question to be answered. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much for the update.

GOLODRYGA: And thank you so much for watching today. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.