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CNN This Morning

Russian Attacks Hit Eastern Ukraine; Trump Attorney Makes Case to D.A.; Dr. Dhruv Khullar is Interviewed about McConnell. Aired 6:30- 7a ET

Aired March 14, 2023 - 06:30   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Support the people of Ukraine, but that is going to be a lingering question and a big one leading up to the election.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: I think you're right, it's going to be a big question.

LEMON: And speaking of Ukraine, its future could hinge on the outcome of a key piece of territory according to Ukraine's President Zelenskyy. CNN live on the ground in eastern Ukraine.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Overnight, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is describing the latest challenges in his country in pretty stark terms as the intense fight in the eastern city of Bakhmut is continuing.


PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINE (through translator): The situation in the east is very tough and very painful. We need to destroy the enemy's military power, and we will. (INAUDIBLE) and Marinka (ph), of Divka (ph) and Bakhmut, Oladar (ph) and Kamyanka (ph), and all other places where our future is being decided, where our future, the future of all Ukrainians, is being fought for.


COLLINS: Zelenskyy still vowing to defeat Russia as CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, right in front of a building that we are told was just hit by a missile strike.

What are you seeing on the ground there? I can see the damage behind you.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And we'll give you a little tour here, Kaitlan.

We are in this eastern city of Kramatorsk. As you can see, this is part of the destruction caused by what Ukrainian officials say was a Russian strike hitting a three-story apartment building in this town. The authorities say at least one person was killed, another is in critical condition. Other people wounded as well.

The explosion eyewitnesses say happened exactly six hours ago, at 8:30 in the morning. And it has shattered windows all throughout the courtyard here where there are other similar buildings, and at a kindergarten, which is just behind where Tom (ph) is right now, shattering all the windows there.

One of the remarkable things about what we're seeing right now is no one's complaining. No one is crying. People are just getting on with the work of cleaning up the destruction, of cleaning up what is left of their homes, for example. As you see, somebody is taking their collection of books out of their apartment, which probably is not going to be livable for near future right now.

This is not the first time that this city has been hit by a deadly Russian projectile. It has been pounded before by Russian rockets and missiles.

We are located about 25 kilometers away from a very active front line, 15 miles. And I've operated in those areas in the past couple days. The artillery is kind of thundering around the clock there. There's a huge Ukrainian military presence there.

The kindergarten that I visited, thankfully, mercifully, had no children there. They were evacuated. The kindergarten has been closed for some six months. This is part of the reality of what people are living in, Ukrainians, in eastern Ukraine.

Back to you.

COLLINS: Yes, it is remarkable to see that, to see a kindergarten gets hit, these buildings get hit. And you're just - you're seeing people, they were so normalized to this and desensitized to this, going through stacks of books outside of it.

Ivan Watson, fantastic reporting. Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Well, a lawyer for President Trump sitting down with prosecutors right here in New York. The argument she made against the charges they are possibly weighing in the hush money case involving the former commander in chief. That's ahead.



HARLOW: So prosecutors here in New York are hearing from the team of Trump lawyers ahead of a potential indictment against the former president and current 2024 candidate in connection with the alleged Stormy Daniels hush money case. The president's former attorney, Michael Cohen, testified before a grand jury Monday. That's a big development. And CNN has learned one of Trump's current attorneys also had some face time with the D.A.'s office. Kara Scannell is here to explain it all to us.

This is one of Trump's attorneys. Her name is Susan Necheles. What is she telling you?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, I talked to Susan Necheles yesterday. She said that she went in fairly recently to meet with the D.A.'s office to plead their case. That's a fairly normal thing to say you should not bring charges against my client.

Now, she said her takeaway was, she thought they were still struggling to come up with a legal theory and she argued to them that they shouldn't bring this. Other prosecutors had passed on this.

You know, and the issue here is, they charge him with falsifying business records and then that's a misdemeanor, or do they charge him with falsifying business records in - you know, to commit or conceal another crime? In this case that could be campaign finance. That's what this is all about this, this payment.

Now, she's been making this argument privately, and she said she's - they're -- they don't have any scheduled follow-up meetings. They're kind of in this wait and see mode to see what the D.A.'s office is going to do.

You know, another of his attorneys, Joe Tacopina, has been taking the public approach, making the public argument.

HARLOW: That's the one that did the "Good Morning America" interview?

SCANNELL: Yes, he was on "Good Morning America" yesterday. He was on Fox News last night. He's making the public pitch and laying out what their defense could be about why they shouldn't bring this case.

Let's take a listen to him on "Hannity" last night.


JOE TACOPINA, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I still hold out hope that justice will prevail.

The crucial distinction is separating campaign funds from personal funds. Could you imagine, Sean, where we'd be tonight if - if President Trump had used campaign funds to make this payment. Oh my God, they'd be calling for his scalp. Instead, he did everything the right way. He did nothing wrong, as he has said repeatedly.


SCANNELL: Now, he's trying to make the case here that these were personal funds, that that was not campaign related and that this was to save Trump from any embarrassment, you know, this alleged affair coming public. You know, it's one of these things that could be a question, ultimately, for a jury, if it gets there.

LEMON: Yes. Joe Tacopina has been on this network and others even before he represented Trump, talking about legal issues, and also weighing in on the former president's legal issues.

Listen, how many attorneys - this is a question, how many attorneys does Trump have? I don't think we can -

COLLINS: Well, there's a lot of investigation.

LEMON: There's a lot of -- let's talk about Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen went in yesterday to speak to the grand jury and he said, listen, his only -- what did he say, my only motivation is that Trump pays for his dirty deeds. What are you hearing?

SCANNELL: Yes. I mean, so Cohen went in yesterday. It's the first time that he's been before the grand jury. And as we know, he's met with the D.A.'s office over the past three years some 20 something times. So, this was the first time before the grand jury. Was there for three hours. His lawyers said he'll be back on Wednesday to continue his testimony.

He's a central figure here. He's the one that facilitated this payment. You know, and this indicates that we're getting to the end here. A decision - an historic decision is likely to be made soon.

COLLINS: It's still remark to me that we're seeing Michael Cohen go in and testify in this way. Like, given -- covering Michael Cohen when he was Trump's fixer. But we will see what happens. I mean it seems like an indictment is very likely.

Kara Scannell, thank you for staying on top of it.

LEMON: Kara, we'll see you.

COLLINS: OK, also this morning, we have some news coming out of Washington. Senator Mitch McConnell has now been released from the hospital. That came after he fell and suffered a concussion.


We have the latest on his condition at this hour.


LEMON: So, a health update now for Senator Mitch McConnell, out of hospital this morning following a fall at a private dinner event last week. McConnell suffering a concussion and a rib fracture. His spokesperson released a statement saying McConnell's recovery is, quote, proceeding well, but he is not going home just yet. The Kentucky Republican is now undergoing physical therapy at an inpatient rehab facility.

For more on that we want to bring in Dr. Dhruv Khullar. He is a physician and assistant professor of health policy at Weill Cornell Medicine. He's also a contributor to "The New Yorker."

Good to see you. Thank you very much for joining us.



LEMON: Discharged yesterday, right? Now in rehab. What does that tell you about his condition?

KHULLAR: Yes, so, you know, concussions are very common condition, obviously. It's the most common form of traumatic brain injury in the United States. Most people tend to recover over the course of a few weeks. Particularly when people are older, they can need a little bit more time to recover. And so it's not uncommon for people to need additional physical therapy, go to inpatient rehab facility like this. And so this - this seems like part of the recovery process, but we need to kind of keep a close eye on how he's doing and make sure his symptoms don't change and they continue to improve over time.

COLLINS: Yes. And we heard from his office. They said, you know, his concussion recovery is proceeding well. They said he was discharged yesterday, as we noted. And it's the advice of his physician that he's going to a period of physical therapy at an inpatient rehab facility. So, he's not home yet. He's going to this rehab facility.

Is that typical? Because, you know, obviously, the big question on Capitol Hill is, when he's getting back to work and, you know, who that process looks like?

KHULLAR: Yes, absolutely. So, you know, people will have a very different set of ways in which they recover over time. There's no single treatment for a concussion. And so the most important things are things like rest, getting high quality sleep, returning gradually to stressful activities like work, and sometimes pain medications and physical therapy. So, this is not unusual for someone particularly in their 80s after they've had a concussion to need a little bit more time to recover. Typically people are at a rehab facility for a few days, potentially a few weeks. We'll just have to see what it is in Senator McConnell's case.

HARLOW: There's also, shifting gears here dramatically, but really interesting news out of Pfizer as it pertains to, what, 40 million Americans with migraines. There's a nasal spray. Does it actually work?

KHULLAR: It does, as far as we can tell from the clinical trials. And so, as you said, migraines are incredibly common condition and they can be very debilitating for millions of Americans across the country. So, this is a new spray. It targets a molecule called CGRP, calcitonin gene-related peptide, that's thought to contribute to some of the inflammation in a migraine.

This is unique because it's a nasal spray. And that has a couple of advantages. And so nasal sprays tend to enter the bloodstream much more quickly than oral pills. People that have nausea or vomiting, they might have trouble taking oral pills or trouble keeping them down. And this medication can also be used for people, unlike some other migraine medications who have had strokes or heart attacks, and so it's considered a very safe medication. It should be out in July with a prescription from your doctor.

LEMON: But not the first nasal spray for --

KHULLAR: Not the -- it's the first nasal spray of its kind. So, there's a different nasal spray that's available. But, as I said, that actually can have issues with people who have had heart attacks, strokes or other blood vessel conditions.

COLLINS: Yes, welcome news for a lot of people, too.

KHULLAR: Absolutely.

COLLINS: I mean migraines can be so debilitating.

Doctor, thank you so much for joining us here on set this morning.

KHULLAR: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: Bank shares tumbling this morning following the collapse of two significant U.S. banks. President Biden urges calm. Regulators trying to contain the damage. At the top of the hour, we'll be joined by the former head of the FDIC, Sheila Bair. She was in charge during the 2008 financial crisis. What's worrying her most now?

LEMON: And, just moments ago, a ground stop was issued at New York's LaGuardia Airport as a huge nor'easter brings heavy rain, dangerous strong winds. Our weather coverage continues straight ahead.


HARLOW: Yikes!

COLLINS: Not good news if you're on a plane.

HARLOW: Thank you, Doc. Good to have you.



HARLOW: Legendary Duke basketball former coach Mike Krzyzewski sounding off on his final four predictions. Coach K, as he is affectionately known, retired last year as the all-time winningest coach in men's Division I college basketball with five national championships.

So, I sat down with him and he told me who he thinks could win the tournament this year.



MIKE KRZYZEWSKI, FORMER HEAD COACH, DUKE UNIVERSITY MEN'S BASKETBALL: Sitting courtside, that was difficult because I watch it as a coach. But then, you know, with all the social media, people are taking pictures of you or making judgments. Well, he came here because of this or he came here because of that or, look, he's not emotional and whatever. I said, oh, all right, see you guys, you know.

HARLOW: You've had it. Enough.

KRZYZEWSKI: I've had it. I'd rather sit in a box.

HARLOW: Do you have final four picks?

KRZYZEWSKI: I actually think Duke has a great chance of --

HARLOW: Going all the way?

KRZYZEWSKI: Yes, I really do, because there's such parody in college basketball right now.

HARLOW: So, who else.


HARLOW: You said UCLA's been underestimated.

KRZYZEWSKI: I think UCLA has been under -- Mick Cronin is - he's got some good stuff. You have to give Houston a chance of doing that. I think Edi (ph) is the best player for Purdue, but Kansas has the pedigree.

Some combination of those teams. And when all those teams are eliminated by the round of 16, which could happen, I think there could be a big surprise here, too. I just don't know which one it is.

HARLOW: We'll see if you even go. But we know if you go, where you'll be is in the box.

KRZYZEWSKI: I would only go if Duke is there.

HARLOW: OK. You'll only go if Duke is there.

KRZYZEWSKI: I would - yes, I'm a homer in that - in that case.


HARLOW: Sorry, Kaitlan, he forgot to mention Alabama.

COLLINS: First seed, but whatever.

HARLOW: Sorry. Sorry.

More with Coach K tomorrow.

CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stocks of dozens of regional banks across the United States plunging to record lows.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Americans can rest assured that our banking system is safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This follows his administration's emergency response to the sudden failure of two banks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They gambled with the money and they lost. This was preventable, both through better regulation and, frankly, though better decision making at the bank.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're tracking very severe weather on the east and west coasts.


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: In the northeast, a significant nor'easter is taking shape.