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CNN This Morning
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Asks for More Weapons from Allies to Combat Russian Invasion; Biden Administration Faces Criticism after Classified Documents Found in President Biden's Possession; Actor Alec Baldwin to be Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter for Shooting Death of Cinematographer on Movie Set; Netflix CEO Stepping Down As CEO After Turbulent Year; NY Congressman Santos Facing Growing Pressure To Resign. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired January 20, 2023 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. A standoff is underway between the U.S. and one of its biggest allies over the fate of Ukraine, and neither side is budging. Our Clarissa Ward is there live.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: No regrets. President Biden dismissing concerns about the discovery of classified documents at his home and office as the investigation engulfs his White House.
LEMON: Did prosecutors go too far in charging Alec Baldwin with the death of a filmmaker on the "Rust" movie set? We're going to hear from both sides of the legal debate.
COLLINS: He's the failed Republican candidate accused of orchestrating the shootings at the homes of Democrats. How investigators are looking into whether Solomon Pena's campaign was funded by fentanyl.
Also, this --
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LEMON: A massive loss for music. David Crosby dying at 81. We're going to speak live with one of his best friends.
CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.
To all of those stories in just a moment, but first we need to talk about Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, making a desperate plea for more weapons before it is too late. There are signs that Russia is regrouping and preparing to launch a major offensive. And CNN has learned CIA Director Bill Burns personally flew to Kyiv for a secret meeting with Zelenskyy to brief him on Vladimir Putin's plans. This morning, the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to huddle with western allies. President Zelenskyy spoke virtually at the meeting.
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VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: The war started by Russia does not allow delays. And I can thank you hundreds of times, and it will be absolutely just what you have already done. But hundreds of thank yous are not hundreds of acts. All of us can use thousands of words and discussions, but I cannot put words instead of guns that are needed against Russian artillery, or instead of that anti-aircraft missile that I needed to protect people from Russian air strikes.
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LEMON: Live now to Kyiv and our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward. Clarissa, good morning to you. Zelenskyy made it clear, he said, we need tanks, not thanks. Will Ukraine get what it needs?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the million-dollar question. And a lot will depend on what Germany ultimately decides in terms of giving these Leopard 2 tanks or allowing the other countries such as Poland to give their Leopard 2 tanks that they are in possession of. Up until this point, it appears that Germany is kind of unwilling to do that unless it sees the U.S. give these Abrams tanks. The U.S. has said it's not going to give those tanks, but for very different reasons to Germany's reasons, purely for logistical reasons. They run on jet fuel, not diesel, and they would be incredibly difficult for Ukraine to maintain and operate on the battlefield.
Basically, what Zelenskyy says he needs are three things -- tanks, long-range artillery, F-16s. No indications that he will be getting long-range artillery or F-16s. He is going to be getting a lot of equipment, some $2 billion worth of strikers, various infantry, fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, MRAPs, and things such as ammunition, munitions for aerial defenses, things that they really need.
But everyone right now is waiting to see what will happen in terms of these tanks that they so desperately covet and which Great Britain came forward and said, listen, we're going to give these Challenger 2 tanks, because the reason that Germany has given up to this point in terms of not wanting to provide tanks is they don't want to risk escalating, they don't want to risk facing the wrath of President Putin. And obviously having the U.K. step up and fill the void in the first place allows them some kind of diplomatic cover. So waiting to see where Germany will ultimately fall on this issue, Don.
LEMON: Clarissa, I want to follow up on something. I want to go back to the CIA director briefing Zelenskyy on this coming offensive. Tell us why that is so important right now.
WARD: So, basically, Bill Burns came here to talk to Zelenskyy and share some of the intelligence that the CIA is seeing in terms of what Russia is preparing in the coming weeks and months. And you heard Zelenskyy talking about how time is Russia's ultimate weapon right now. You heard Lloyd Austin as well, the defense secretary, saying, listen, Russia is running out of ammunition, but they are regrouping, they are recruiting, they are building up their military hardware industry.
And there is a fear that we are going to be looking at another massive Russian offensive potentially in the coming months. No one knows exactly when that would be. The logic behind this, of course, is that Russia mobilized 300,000 people, 150 were already put into the battlefield, but the remaining $150,000 will be finishing up their training in the coming weeks and months. And so it follows logically that Russia will have something in store.
And so what the U.S. and NATO and all of Ukraine's allies want to see is for Ukraine to get the hardware and get the power that it needs to try to catch Russia on the backfoot before it has a chance to regroup and get in there with some further counteroffensives.
LEMON: Clarissa Ward in Kyiv this morning. Thank you, Clarissa, appreciate it.
COLLINS: In Washington today, President Biden says he has no regrets about how he and his team have handled the classified documents that were found from his time as vice president in the Obama administration, as the White House has faced questions about their initial reluctance to share information about this. The president weighed in last night as he was touring a California town that's been ravaged by those winter storms we've been showing you. The president saying he feels that the American people don't understand why reporters are asking about this and not that.
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JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We found a handful documents that were filed in the wrong place. We immediately turned them over to the Archives and the Justice Department. We're fully cooperating and looking forward to getting this resolved quickly. I think you're going to find there's nothing there, I have no regrets. I'm following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do. That's exactly what we're doing. There's no "there" there.
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COLLINS: Republicans have accused President Biden of being hypocritical because he criticized former President Trump from taking top-secret documents and taking them at Mar-a-Lago when he left office. This is what Biden said last fall.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you saw the photograph of the top-secret documents laid out on the floor at Mar-a-Lago, what did you think to yourself?
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How that could possibly happen. How anyone could be that irresponsible.
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COLLINS: The White House, though, is loudly pointing out the differences here, saying that Biden has cooperated with the National Archives and with the Justice Department, giving the documents back, while former President Trump, as we all know, refused to give them back. There came this huge fight between the attorneys and the Justice Department. It led to that historic search that happened last fall that was executed on the former president's property.
Ahead, we're going to talk to former Democratic Senator from my home state of Alabama, Doug Jones. He has questioned the White House's handling of those documents. We'll get his take on the president's latest comments.
LEMON: Just because it's an accident doesn't mean it's not criminal. Go with me here. That's how a Santa Fe prosecutor is sizing up her decision to file charges against actor Alec Baldwin. She plans to charge him with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the "Rust" 2021, that shooting on the movie set that ended in the director's death -- the cinematographer's death. Filmmaker, armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed also facing charges. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed when she was struck by a live round of ammunition fired from a prop gun held by Alec Baldwin. The D.A. saying that she believes that "Rust" had a, quote, "really fast and loose set with a lack of safety standards and live rounds on set." Watch this.
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MARY CARMACK-ALTWIES, SANTA FE DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Nobody was checking those, or at least they weren't checking them consistently. And then they somehow got loaded into a gun, handed off to Alec Baldwin. He didn't check it. He didn't do any of the things that he was supposed to do to make sure that he was safe or that anyone around him was safe. And then he pointed the gun at Halyna Hutchins and he pulled the trigger.
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LEMON: So in an interview with CNN in August, Baldwin blamed Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director Dave Hall who handed him the gun.
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ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Why didn't she check that bullet? Why? Why didn't Halls obey her? She said don't give him the gun, according to OSHA, don't give him the gun until I come back. Why did he give me the gun. Why didn't he check?
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LEMON: So did the D.A. get the charges in this case right? Joining me now, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers and criminal defense attorney Ken Belkin. thank you both. So just very simply, I'll ask the question, did the D.A. get the charges right, starting with you?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think. I think this is a stretch and an overreach on the part of the D.A. with respect to Alec Baldwin. I think the charge against Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is stronger. The reason is that what she has to prove here I don't think she can prove. This is a criminal negligence case. This isn't simple negligence like in a lawsuit. That's been done. Regulatory action has been taken. This is a criminal case. They want to send Alec Baldwin to prison for five years. They have to prove that he grossly deviated from a standard of care that he owed. I don't see how they can do that. They can't convince 12 people unanimously beyond a reasonable doubt that he owed a duty of care that he breached when he handed a gun, says cold gun, there are people responsible for that. I don't think a jury is going to find that.
KEN BELKIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Listen, let's be clear. First of all, no one wants to see Mr. Baldwin go to jail, least of all not a defense attorney like me. Let's be clear, in this jurisdiction, this D.A. has a woman who was killed by a man who pointed a gun that he did not check to see if it was loaded at her and pulled the trigger. Now, he says he didn't pull the trigger -- by the way, that is his best defense at trial, is that he did not pull the trigger and the gun malfunctioned. But even still, he pointed an unchecked gun at a human being, something you are never supposed to do.
COLLINS: But what I was struck by is that he has maintained he did not pull the trigger. They talked about how this was sent this off to the FBI as it has one of the best labs in the world. They said someone pulled that trigger. Here's what she said.
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ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: The trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you never pulled the trigger?
BALDWIN: No, no, no, no. I would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them, never.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you confident that he actually pulled the trigger?
MARY CARMACK-ALTWIES, SANTA FE DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Yes, absolutely. The FBI lab is one of the best in the world and we absolutely believe that the trigger had to have been pulled in order for that gun to go off. The trigger was pulled.
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COLLINS: What do you say to that?
BELKIN: What I say to that is the D.A. is overstepping there by making that comment. That is a question of fact for a jury to decide. He says that trigger was not pulled by him. It is up to a jury to make that decision. Of course, there's that FBI report and their experts. He is entitled to bring his own experts into this. And I'm sure Mr. Baldwin can afford the best ballistics experts available. And he's going to get them, and he's going to need them if this case goes to trial.
RODGERS: I actually don't think matters whether he pulled the trigger. He's entitled to treat that prop gun as if it's empty. That's what he's been told. He's doing this cross-pull thing in the rehearsals. I actually don't think that fact matters. To me, what matters is, what is he entitled to rely on? What duty of care does he owe, and did he breach that duty of care? I don't think he did.
BELKIN: First, you should probably never -- not probably. You should never point a gun at another person, ever, loaded or unloaded. It's the basic rules of gun safety. Everyone should know that. And by the way, his co-defendant says that he eschewed those gun safety courses on set. So that's an interesting portion of her defense that you're going to hear out there. But in any event, he should never have pointed it.
LEMON: OK, OK, he should never have pulled the trigger. Isn't that the whole point of the scene is for him to --
COLLINS: It's a western.
BELKIN: But he's pointing it at a person. By the way, they could set up a camera. He doesn't have to be pointing it at a human being.
LEMON: I know you're saying it doesn't have to be, but that's the whole point of --
BELKIN: And that human being is now dead.
LEMON: I understand that. I'm just asking the question, because people at home are thinking the same thing, it is a movie. They are acting. The gun is supposed to be empty, and the director says, OK, go, pull the trigger, do the scene. How do you pull the trigger and not pull the trigger?
BELKIN: Listen, if you are pointing a gun at a person, it is on you to make sure that gun is unloaded. And second of all, you should never be pointing a gun at a person and pulling a trigger, loaded or unloaded.
RODGERS: See, this is where I think that the D.A. is overstepping, because what she said yesterday, to Josh Campbell and also in a "New York Times" interview is that he had an absolute duty to make sure that that gun was unloaded, just like Ken is saying here. That's a strict liability standard. That's not the correct legal standard here. He doesn't have a strict liability duty here.
COLLINS: What about the fact that they basically said this entire set was kind of a disaster, is how they described it, that everyone was complacent. He is not just an actor on this. I think most people would say, he's an actor, somebody else should have checked it. He's also a producer. So does he bear responsibility in that sense?
RODGERS: So that's a separate legal theory, and they're obviously pursuing that as well. And what I would say to that, is the report didn't show me that he had those duties and breached them. There are other producers on this movie. Sometimes producers just give money and get their name on the credits. The question is what actually were his duties as a producer, and did he breach those duties? There are plenty of people coming in now saying, producers don't do that. Producers don't make sure everything is safe. That's why you hire an armorer for. That's what you have assistant directors and prop managers for.
LEMON: But what you're saying is what people say in the real world, so to speak. In make because in Hollywood, this is what actors are saying. There was one last night, a very accomplished actors who sent me this. He said, involuntary manslaughter charge against Alec Baldwin is outrageous. The assistant director and prop person are solely responsible. I have been in over 100 TV shows before -- I won't say which show he or she is on -- mostly action shows with a lot of shooting. One almost always relies on prop and A.D. period. In all cases, one, of course, pulls the f-ing trigger. That's what the actors are saying. That is just how it's done.
BELKIN: But this was also a rehearsal, maybe it didn't have the formality of a shoot, which could also be a problem. He might have expected it to have that formality. But in any event, he did point the gun, he did pull the trigger. As far as the producers, I think that's more of a civil liability issue. The final act that resulted in Miss Hutchins death was Alec Baldwin's.
COLLINS: Well, we'll see. He says he didn't pull the trigger.
We'll see what the courts decide. Obviously, this is far from over. Jennifer Rodgers, Ken Belkin, thank you both for being here.
LEMON: Good to see both of you.
BELKIN: Thank you.
COLLINS: All right, this morning there's been a major shake-up at the top of Netflix just as the streaming giant had finished last year on pretty solid financial footing Why the sudden change? How does this impact you as a Netflix watcher? We're going to tell you, next.
COLLINS: This morning, there has been a major shake-up in the leadership at Netflix as the co-founder Reed Hastings, who has been there back in the day is now announcing he is stepping down as CEO of the world's top streaming service. He's going to stay on as Executive Chairman. Netflix has come a long way since its early days as a DVD mail service as we all remember.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REED HASTINGS, CO-FOUNDER, NETFLIX: You know, it's like the hare and the tortoise, and we were the tortoise. The hare got ahead, and then they're all bankrupt, and we're now cashflow positive and successful.
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COLLINS (voiceover): Hastings's departure comes as the company rebounded after taking quite a tumble early last year, contributing to 450 employees that were laid off. The streaming giant actually lost subscribers in the first two quarters of 2022, which was the first decrease that they had seen in more than a decade. Since then, it has surpassed expectations, though, gaining more than 7 million subscribers this past quarter alone. So, joining us now to discuss this is the host of On With Kara Swisher, Kara Swisher, and professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, and the host of the Prof G Show Podcast, Scott Galloway. Together, the two of them host Pivot, which I'm sure many of our viewers have listened to.
COLLINS: Kara, I guess just my first question is, what was your reaction to him stepping down?
KARA SWISHER, CO-HOST, PIVOT PODCAST: Oh, not surprised at all. I think, you know, he's been at that job a long time. I think he had wanted to go earlier. But there were a lot of troubles, especially as everyone entered the DVD -- excuse me, the DVD he said that -- the streaming market like Disney and others. And so, I think he was there just to get them through the more difficult time which they had about nine months ago. And it was always the intention that he was going to move up and out, which is a Netflix thing.
LEMON: Yes. I mean, he's step --he's stepping down from day-to-day operations. He's still going to have some --
LEMON: -- influence, no?
SWISHER: Oh, sure. Absolutely. They're -- they never go away. As you know, you know, they'll never -- they never leave. Look at what's happening at Disney or elsewhere. They often sort of stick around, Starbucks, lots of places like that.
LEMON: So, when you look, Netflix has had Scott a rough year in 2022, they've had layoffs, they're losing subscribers, they're facing a tougher market with competition from other streaming platforms like Amazon, HBO Max, Apple TV, among others. Last November, Netflix rolled out a newer lower-priced plan with ads. How do you think subscribers will respond, after enjoying this ad-free content for so many years?
SCOTT GALLOWAY, PROFESSOR OF MARKETING, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: Well, the numbers would indicate that subscribers are receptive to it, they added 8 million subscribers. Actually, Netflix this morning is one of the biggest gainers in pre-market, and you just got to take a moment to recognize that this guy is a first ballot hall of fame business executive. Think about how visionary this individual and this company has been. 1997, he said the largest distribution network with a million people delivering mail into a hundred million homes, and they started with DVDs via mail.
And then what is arguably the greatest pivot in business history, predicting the onslaught and the increase of broadband, went into streaming, went into vertical content with House of Cards. There are more people now who have a recurring revenue relationship with Netflix, globally, than Amazon Prime. His accomplishments here are just, you know, short of the troubles of the last 12 months looking at his career. His accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary.
COLLINS: Yes, he kind of dragged the rest of the industry with them when it came to streaming. I thought about -- well, you know, what he said about the origin of it was so -- I think he had a late fee on a movie that he had rented from when there were still stores where he went and rented DVDs. So, I think, Kara, the question that it raises with his departure is, you know, what does the future of Netflix look like, or just the streaming industry overall?
SWISHER: Well, there's all kinds of rumors that it's always going to get bought by various people from Apple to Disney for over the years. But Scott is right, this guy has pivoted and pivoted and pivoted again. And he doesn't mind sort of making a mess doing it, because he knows the right direction to go on. That said, there's huge amounts of trouble in streaming. The money being spent is enormous, and the competitors are big, right? And so, he's been doing -- being as innovative as he can, but others have caught up.
It's not unsimilar to what's happening to Elon Musk with Tesla, where now there's competitors, now there's really something going on, even though they were dominant, but there's no question that Reed Hastings has pioneered almost everything in this area. And now he's leaving it to others. And I think it's -- I don't -- I don't think they're out of the woods yet on trouble because I think others are getting better and better. But you see pressure on Disney over streaming with Nelson Peltz and buying Hulu, and there -- this market's still got a lot to shake out, especially the high costs which, Scott, you talk about all the time.
LEMON: Scott, go ahead, respond. You were -- your name was invoked.
SWISHER: Yes, Scott. Respond.
GALLOWAY: Yes. Well, look--
SWISHER: Don't get shocked. You have --
GALLOWAY: I mean, this is the 10-pound gorilla in the space, and name another streaming network that isn't hemorrhaging money right now? I mean, whether it's Disney Plus being the cause of a huge expense, $1.2 billion in losses in that group. Amazon and Apple have infinitely deep pockets, but if they were to break out the cost of their network, you would see a lot of redding (PH) here. This company is the dominant force in streaming just a -- well, even visionary around internationals, Squid Games out of Korea. They built a 10,000 first- person production center, so they could regionalize content in Spain. I mean, the bottom line is in the streaming market by any reasonable standards, it's been Netflix and the Seven Dwarfs.
And to Kara's point, they have competition for the first time which will drive down margins, right from a shareholder perspective, a business perspective. Netflix defines the category, and as of this morning, it's up dramatically again, and blew away their subscriber growth, the numbers. I just -- when someone step down, you got to look at all 28 frames of the movie, and this is an exceptional story.
LEMON: Yes. Listen, we got to run.
SWISHER: Yes, I do think so.
LEMON: We got to run, Kara, but I do find myself now and I ended up I spend, I think, more money on streaming than I actually spent on cable if someone --
SWISHER: That's right.
LEMON: -- would just come up with a bundle for cable. It's called cable. Great idea. I mean, you know.
SWISHER: It's called cable.
LEMON: It's just --
SWISHER: -- it's called cable. That might happen, that might happen.
LEMON: -- it's so much easier and faster just to flip through in -- on unregular cable than going out of an app, then into another app, and out of it, and then spending more money when you just like paid made one payment. It's called cable. Thank you, guys.
COLLINS: All right, Kara Swisher, Scott Galloway, thank you both. Also, this morning, George Santos is rejecting calls to step down over his tangled web of lies about his past. What do his constituents think, though? We're actually going to be live in his district.
LEMON: In the case of the failed Republican candidate who allegedly hired a team to shoot up the homes of Democratic officials in New Mexico. Why investigators are looking at his campaign donations? That's next.