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U.S. and Britain at Odds Over Ukraine; University Walks Back Islamophobic Claims. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 18, 2023 - 06:30   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Segun, it was great. Your first appearance -


LEMON: And last.

Thank you, though. Appreciate it. Good to see you.



All right, up next this morning, why Americans are actually starting to spend less.

LEMON: Plus, western allies need to, quote, step up military support to Ukraine. That's from the European commission president. Ahead, the latest major aid package the U.S. plans to send to Ukrainian fighters.


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone, to CNN THIS MORNING.

Here's what's coming up.

The new survey that suggests Americans could spend even less money this year. We'll discuss.

Plus, why former President Trump is calling out prominent evangelical leaders.

And Republicans are wasting no time firing up investigations into the Biden family. This CNN reporting straight ahead.

COLLINS: Also today, it's a critical week for Ukraine underway as President Zelenskyy is set to address the world's political and business leaders who have gathered in Davos, Switzerland, in just a few hours.


Zelenskyy is expected to raise his pleas for more advanced weapons, like tanks and air defense systems, as the war is stretching into a tough winter campaign with big expectations for what could happen this spring, while most NATO allied countries have poured billions into supporting Ukraine.

New reporting in "The New York Times" suggests that the United States and the United Kingdom may not be as much on the same page about what exactly to send despite public appearances.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: What you've seen in -- just in recent - recent weeks, not only from the United States and the United Kingdom, but from many other countries, is a continued commitment to make sure that the Ukrainians do have what they need.

JAMES CLEVERLY, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Well, really, all - all I can do is find myself reinforcing the points that Secretary Blinken has made.


COLLINS: Joining us now is White House and national security correspondent for "The New York Times," David Sanger, who is also a CNN political and national security analyst.

David, I think one big question is, we are seeing, you know, world leaders like this gather together and is ahead of these meetings with Zelenskyy speaking, there are questions about what exactly to send Ukraine. And I wonder what your sense from your reporting is on how aligned the United States and the rest of these NATO allies still are on what exactly to send.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Kaitlan, in a broad sense, it's remarkable that they are still all together nearly a year into this war. Putin's calculus had been divide NATO. And, in fact, we're seeing NATO probably more unified on the general principle of pushing back on Russia than they've ever been. And you've seen Japan and Germany make really remarkable shifts in their foreign policy, some of the biggest shifts they've made in decades, to be far more aggressive in helping with actual fighting equipment.

But when you dig a little bit beneath the surface, you do see differences. James Cleverly, the British foreign minister who you saw there with Secretary Tony Blinken, came to Washington yesterday, had lunch with a good number of us and basically made the case that we only have weeks in order to get more equipment into the hands of the Ukrainians, and that they're capable of winning a total victory. The American view is this is probably going to be a long slog of many years and we have to be prepared to support Ukraine for many years. And that's going to require a different kind of support.

And the Germans are under pressure to ship tanks that they have. They have not agreed to go do that yet or agreed to allow countries that have tanks that are designed by Germany to send them, Poland and others. So, there's a lot to work out. LEMON: OK, so that's pretty interesting. We'll talk about the timeline


But let me ask you, because you mentioned a number of different countries. Explain the difference in -- with each different country because they have to weigh their level of support, what they're going to send. And that's a lot of coordination in doing that.

SANGER: That is. And I think Secretary Blinken, Defense Secretary Austin will tell you they spend most of their day just trying to keep all of this group of NATO allies together and synced up. And that's what that meeting in Ramstein, Germany, is all about in -- on Friday.

But that said, Don, I think it's fair to say that there are somewhat different assessments here about what level of risk to go take. Now, when we saw the foreign minister of Britain, Mr. Cleverly, yesterday, he basically dismissed the threat that Vladimir Putin makes periodically to employ nuclear weapons or at least to move them around. He said, look, the more they're under pressure, you're going to hear that. Basically he was saying you kind of have to dismiss it.

There are a lot of people I talk to in the Pentagon, Don, who think you could never dismiss Vladimir Putin talking about nuclear weapons. Now we haven't seen him move any. We haven't seen him do anything yet. But there's an expectation that he may well.

And then the Germans are still concerned that Europe is not ready, even more than seven decades after World War II, to see German tanks rolling across Europe even in the defense of the Ukrainians because there was a time when German tanks went through Ukraine in a very different situation in 1940, '41.

COLLINS: And, David, quickly before we let you go this morning, we know you have some new reporting. There's this little known ammunition stockpile in Israel that you're reporting the Pentagon is actually tapping into, which is fascinating for the fact that, a, it's little known, b, we know Ukrainian needs ammunition, but also the fact that, c, Israel has been very warry of what it looks like they are sending, their levels of support, for fear of, you know, angering the Russians.


SANGER: That's right, Kaitlan, this is reporting from some of my colleagues, not from me, but it's a really fascinating report.

The U.S. keeps stockpiles of ammunition in Israel so that they can use it anywhere in the Middle East. And they have quietly been raiding that some to move ammunition quickly into the hands of the Ukrainians.

Now, the Israelis don't have any control over this. It's a U.S. stockpile. But the fact of the matter is that it's coming out of Israeli territory. And as you point out, the Israelis have not fully embraced Ukraine by any means in recent times. They've been trying to keep the Russians happy because they need Russia's help in Syria.

LEMON: All right, David Sanger, have a great morning. Thank you so much for joining us. We'll see you soon.

SANGER: Thank you.

LEMON: A Minnesota university that called one of its lecturer's actions Islamophobic is now walking back their rebuke. What they're now saying.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sanchez with the ball, forward, and Swanson's around the back. She's already got one and now it's another. Three second-half goals for the United States and a second goal of the day.


COLLINS: The U.S. Women's national soccer team starting the new year with a bang, trouncing New Zealand with a 4-0 win in Wellington. Mallory Swanson scoring that opening goal just after halftime after a lackluster first 45 minutes. She scored a second goal just minutes later.

Alex Morgan and Lynn Williams got the next two points on the scoreboard. And the two teams face off again on Saturday in New Zealand ahead of this summer women's World Cup.

LEMON: Goal!

COLLINS: Back to Don's favorite word.

All right, up next, we're going to talk about why former President Trump is calling prominent evangelical leaders who helped back his victory in 2016 disloyal.

LEMON: Plus, chilling video of a man trying to kidnap a barista through the drive-through window. You're going to see what happened.



LEMON: So an adjunct art professor - art history professor is now suing Hamline University in Minnesota after they fired her for showing an image of a 14th century painting featuring the Prophet Muhammad in it at an art history class. According to "The New York Times," one student objected to the image being shown and complained to school administrators. The university responded by calling the incident Islamophobic.

Now in a statement the university says, in the interest of hearing from and supporting our Muslim students, language was used that does not reflect our statements on academic freedom. Based on all of that, we have learned, we have determined that our usage of the term Islamophobic was therefore, flawed.


John Avlon, our senior political analyst, is here.

What do you make -- this is an about face. What do you make of this?

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a big story when it comes to academic freedom and defense of liberal values, frankly. Hamline University is a small, liberal arts college. But they seem to have lost the idea of what that means in this fight with the adjunct professor.

Art history class, she went in saying she was going to show pictures of religious figures, including the Prophet Muhammad, warned students at the outset, warned it before the image was shown, showing an image of a 14th century painting, painted by Muslim artists at the time. One student complained, and she was dismissed.

And the president of the university at the time wrote a letter saying that sensitivity to Muslim students, one of whom complained, should have superseded academic freedom. That's a fundamental problem. That's a fundamental problem. And now they're in the firestorm that resulted and now they're walking that back in the face of a lawsuit.

But it seems to me these sort of skirmishes need to be resolved by schools, particularly liberal arts colleges. Doubling down on liberal values, which remind us that it's important to be sensitive to people of faith, but there's no right not to be offended, particularly if you're doing the right thing and warning people that what they see might be offensive.

COLLINS: And we've seen what an issue it is at small schools like this, where it seems to like - these students have more leeway when they complain about something like that.

I do want to ask you about something else, though, that's happened in recent days, which is the former president was asked about prominent evangelical leaders not coming out and endorsing his 2024 bid so far. This is what Trump said in response to that.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: That's a - that's a sign of disloyalty. There's great disloyalty in the world of politics, and that's a sign of disloyalty because nobody - as you know, and you would know better than anybody because you do such a great job, nobody has ever done more for right to life than Donald Trump.


COLLINS: I talked to some Trump advisers about this after this happened because -

AVLON: Yes. COLLINS: That was a key bloc that helped deliver the White House to Trump. You know, he promised to appoint conservative judges. That's what they wanted. They said they believe this is just a self-defeating issue for Trump.

AVLON: Yes, this is -- this is an own goal, but I think he blurted out what he really believes. Remember, loyalty with Donald Trump is famously a one-way street.

But to your point, a higher percent of evangelicals -- white evangelicals, we should say, voted for Donald Trump that voted for George W. Bush, who is actually a born-again Christine. So, for him to basically lash out at the evangelical leaders who are pumping the brakes on a Trump 2024 and say they're being disloyal, what does he think they are, his pets, that they can be called to heel? I mean already we've got a problem in this country, frankly, when we're dealing with (INAUDIBLE) polarization, about the polarization of religious faith. That's something that's dangerous for democratic republics to break down around partisan lines.

And this sort of - of insult to that community and say they've got to fall in line when he runs, just reminds us of the importance of, frankly, keeping religious faith separate from partisan politics. Donald Trump hanging a lantern on that problem.

LEMON: But are we shocked he didn't' do the same thing with Jewish Americans?

AVLON: He did the same thing with Jewish Americans, in effect.

LEMON: Questioned their loyalty and -

AVLON: Questioned their loyalty because, again, it's all in that Trump centric universe. You know, it's - it's - it's - it's all about what's good for Donald Trump -


AVLON: And not actually, you know, the essence of evangelisms (ph) reaching out and winning converts.

COLLINS: It also - it seemed to be kind of an excuse for 2022 and how Republicans did so poorly in the midterms because he was saying, because of Roe v. Wade he said they didn't come out as much he believes in the midterms after it was already overturned.

AVLON: Well, yes, and, look, I mean, look, religion in politics is complicated. And he, in this - he's been passed blamed the overturning of Roe v. Wade for the performance of 2022. Now saying he wants credit for it.

You know, I -- in 2020 I interviewed a series of religious leaders about just the choices, Biden being a person of faith, and was reminded that the Bible warns against the sin of lying over 116 times. So, it seems to me that those are factors that should put in place as well and the totality. [06:55:01]

But, bottom line, one of the things we've got to do is break down this polarization of faith in American politics. This (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: He needs to get out more.

AVLON: There's that too.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, John.

AVLON: All right, guys.

COLLINS: John Avlon.

LEMON: Appreciate it.

COLLINS: All right.

LEMON: Straight ahead, why the coroner has deferred Lisa Marie Presley's case -- cause of death, I should say. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta will explain.



MICHAEL W. MORRISSEY, NORFOLK DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The continued investigation has now allowed police to obtain an arrest warrant charging Brian Walshe with the murder of his wife.



LEMON: Man, this has been going on.

Good morning, everyone. Poppy is off today. It's Kaitlan and I.

Well, you heard from.