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CNN This Morning

U.S. Military Releases Video of Russia Jet Forcing Down U.S. Drone; Credit Suisse Borrows Billions from Swiss National Bank; Source: Recording Exists of Trump Pressuring Georgia House Speaker; Cohen Testifies for 2nd Day, Stormy Daniels Meets with NY Prosecutors. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired March 16, 2023 - 06:00   ET


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's the cold side of the storm. The warm side, severe; the cold side, snow, as expected.


RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: Chad, I have to say, here in New York, it's been feeling a lot like winter, too. We saw flurries this week. So --


SOLOMON: I'm ready for spring. Chad Myers, thank you.

MYERS: Me, too.

SOLOMON: And thank you for joining us. I'm Rahel Solomon. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Kaitlan Collins in Washington, D.C., this morning. As you can see, Poppy and Don are in New York.

We're going to begin this hour with breaking news, because minutes ago we just got dramatic new video from the Pentagon, released by the military, where you can see a Russian fighter jet as it was approaching the back of the American drone that has now been down for about 4,000 to 5,000 feet in the Black Sea.

In this video that has just been released moments ago, you can see where the Russian fighter jet is going up to this American drone. It is dumping fuel on it. That's what you're seeing on the video as it's approaching here. Then the jet goes away. It comes back and dumps more fuel. And then it hits the American drone. It clips the drone, one of the Russian fighter jets did. That is when you see the color bars there.

Ultimately, of course, this is what led up to the downing of this drone that we have been following all week since this happened. This interaction that happened on Tuesday, we are told, lasted for over half an hour.

Now, of course, that U.S. drone was forced to be downed in the Black Sea. General Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, says its about four to 5,000 feet beneath the water. The Russians are actively trying to retrieve it right now, amid questions about what they could glean from it, if they do.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is live at the Pentagon with more. Natasha, I mean, just watching this video is amazing, in and of itself. To see these two Russian fighter jets come up to this American drone, this Reaper drone, dump fuel on it, clip it that has led to this dramatic escalation.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is remarkable. Let's remember what the Russians have been saying about this incident.

The Russians have been insisting that that fighter jet, the Russian fighter jet did not ever make contact with that drone.

Well, now we can see that the video really does belie that explanation. We're seeing that the fighter jet actually comes up extremely close to the drone. You're watching it right there. Starts releasing a lot of jet fuel, as U.S. officials had said it did. It hits that drone. That is when the camera footage goes out.

And then when the camera footage reappears, you can see that the propeller of that drone is damaged. And that is exactly the sequence of events that U.S. officials had laid out, calling this behavior by the pilots extremely reckless and dangerous.

I mean, this is just really remarkable. This is something that is so unusual to see. Because usually, when these fighter jets intercept these drones, they kind of just fly alongside them. And this fighter jet did do that. It flew beside this drone for about 30 to 40 minutes before actually speeding up right next to the drone, as you saw there, and starting to dump jet fuel on it.

That is the moment when U.S. officials say they realized that something was really, really wrong here.

As we have seen over the last couple days, U.S. officials have made really, really strict protests to the Russians about this incident, saying that it is completely unacceptable, that it could have endangered the pilots, of course, of that fighter jet, and of course, that it violates the U.S.'s right to conduct these kinds of surveillance missions over the Black Sea and over international waters and over international air space.

But again, this just really -- it really belies the Russian explanation for what happened here. Again, they had insisted that the Russian fighter jet did not hit that drone. But you can see pretty clearly, right after that footage goes out, when the camera goes out, that the propeller is damaged. That really could have only been done by an impact from that plane, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes. Natasha, thank you.

Don, Poppy, I mean, as we're just watching this video, it's remarkable. I want to remind people that yesterday we heard from the Pentagon. And they said that they -- it was clear that the dumping of the fuel was intentional. But when it comes to the actual physical contact that they made, they weren't sure whether or not that was intentional.

I mean, Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Don and Poppy, was being asked if he believed this was an act of war. He said he wasn't prepared to go there yet. But these are the kinds of questions they're facing over this video you're seeing here.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And that's what John Kirby said yesterday. They had to be careful, because they didn't want this war to escalate into something else. And if you look at this video, there are big questions about whether or not it was intentional, because this is only 40 seconds of something that lasted for 30 to 40 --


LEMON: -- minutes. So unintentional, 30 to 40 minutes. Very interesting.


LEMON: Kaitlan, stand by. We're going to check back in now with -- in a moment.


HARLOW: Right. With experts on it. CNN military analyst, former member of the joint staff at the Pentagon, retired Colonel Cedric Leighton is here. Also, CNN chief White House correspondent Phil Mattingly. Thanks, both, very much for being here.

Phil, let me just go to you first. Your reporting, you're usually joining us from the White House. This was a decision by the U.S. military to release the video. They didn't have to.



MATTINGLY: They knew that the Russians were going to have a different version of events. I think that was both expected and happened very quickly. And it was very clear over the course of the last 36, 48 hours that they both thought this video proved their point and were trying to work through the process of actually getting this out in the public.

And I think, if you watch this video -- and obviously this just broke, we've all been watching it at the same time -- it very much backs up what U.S. officials have been telling us over the course of the last several days. And I think underscores the very palpable concern you heard from U.S. officials, that this is a different level of escalation.

These intercepts, in and of themselves, are not rare. That is rare. What you're watching on camera right now is rare and not something that happens often.

You've seen the response from the administration. Whether it's Secretary of Defense Austin, General Milley, as Kaitlan was saying, they've all reached out to their counterparts. The ambassador was taken to the State Department to raise the issues of severe objections.

HARLOW: Right.

MATTINGLY: What they are not trying to do is escalate things. But they do want to prove their point. And I think this is what they're doing with this video.

LEMON: Cedric Leighton, I want to to bring you in. Does this back up what the U.S. has been saying? That this was, in fact, indeed intentional?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, yes, I think so, Don. Good morning to you.

Yes, it looks like the way the Russian aircraft, the SU-27, is coming into the drone, it's very deliberately going after the drone. And when you see the video, and you see it come through the right here, you look at -- you look at the way it's appearing in the camera from the Reaper, from the MQ-9, and comes up really close. And then you see the propeller. It looks normal at this point in time.

But when you look at the propeller afterwards, you will see the bent blade. And that is very clearly a deliberate act. The way this aircraft is coming into the drone, and you see that bent blade right there. You know, clearly something hit it and it had to be some kind of an impact.

And I don't think, you know, while the fuel spill on top of the -- on top of the aircraft, on top of the MQ-9 would have been significant, I don't think it would have caused that damage without there actually being metal-on-metal contact.

HARLOW: I'm so glad you pointed that out. Because if we can pull that picture back up, you actually see that one of those -- I'm sorry, I don't have the technical term, is like half the length of the one on the other --

LEIGHTON: Propeller.

HARLOW: Yes. The propeller on the opposite side.

LEIGHTON: That's right. Yes. That's --

HARLOW: I think it's amazing, Cedric, that this lasted 30 to 40 minutes.

LEIGHTON: Yes. So when these things happen, when an intercept occurs, Poppy, what the aircraft comes up to the target that it's looking for, and you know, it takes a while to identify the target. You know, they -- in this case the Russian pilots sort of said, OK, this is a drone. They would have probably identified it as an MQ-9. They would have then reported back to their ground controllers.

The ground controllers would probably have directed them to go back to circle the drone. And they may have also directed them to do these more aggressive passes. And that will be key. If we can find out whether or not the ground controllers directed the pilots to make these aggressive passes, that then would have clearly indicated that this was a very deliberate action.

LEMON: Phil, that drone now, thousands of feet below sea level, in the Black Sea. On its way down, two U.S. officials told CNN that the operators remotely wiped the drone's sensitive software, which mitigates the risk of secret material falling into the enemy's hands, before crashing into the water. Obviously, they got the video, as well.

Yesterday we had Kirby on. And he was saying, well, they weren't sure they did everything to -- to try to mitigate that. But now they're saying they did.

So I guess if they got this video, they got the information, as well, and were able to wipe it.

MATTINGLY: And they were able -- they -- this is part of when you -- when they utilize these drones, particularly for intelligence collection purposes, they are able to get pretty real-time feeds or access to what the information is in the moment.

HARLOW: They're watching this in real time?

MATTINGLY: They can.


MATTINGLY: It depends on how things are structured.

One of the issues that they were concerned about, besides the fact that this is a very expensive piece of military property, is just ensuring, look, we don't have naval assets in the Black Sea. We are not able to send -- the U.S. is not able to send their people to try and pick this up.

They thought from the early stages that this likely fell very, very deep and would have been very difficult to pick up, no matter what. But as, I think, Oren Liebermann probably reported, they made sure that they could wipe all their systems. Kind of an internal self- destruct, without the explosion that you're trying to think from "Mission: Impossible" type stuff.


MATTINGLY: To ensure that, if the Russians, which have made very clear they're trying to find this, trying to pick this up. If they do, what little is left of it will not be of any intelligence value.

[06:10:07] HARLOW: Yes. It just -- You say "Mission: Impossible." I mean, people waking up to this this morning, this looks like out of "Top Gun," but it's real and it's between the United States and Russia.

LEMON: It's just the danger that it put the -- the Russians in, like those pilots at this point.


LEMON: Like, if you're just tuning in, this is our breaking news here on CNN. It's just almost 6:10 Eastern Time. This newly declassified video depicts these critical moments, mid-air encounter with the Pentagon said -- which the Pentagon said lasted 30 to 40 minutes, about 30 seconds of video that you see there. The interaction between that drone and the Russian fighter jet.

We're going to continue on this breaking news. We thank Colonel Cedric Leighton and Phil, as well. Appreciate that.

This morning, we're going to move on and talk about this roller- coaster ride of the global banking sector after a large infusion of cash saved a banking giant from going under.

Credit Suisse. We're talking about the stock surging more than 30 percent this morning after it agreed to a $54 billion loan from the Swiss Central Bank. This after it tanked by as much as 30 percent yesterday, after its biggest shareholder said it had no plans to give any more funds to Credit Suisse.

This happening almost a week after the Silicon Valley Bank, once America's 16th largest bank, collapsed and prompted the federal government to intervene.

Straight now to CNN's anchor and chief business correspondent, Christine Romans.

Good morning to you, Christine.


LEMON: A very busy news morning. Will the $54 billion be enough to reassure investors of Credit Suisse?

ROMANS: We have some stability in Credit Suisse shares overnight. I mean, they are moving higher here.

But I have to warn you, this is a company that is in the midst of a big restructuring. It's got a lot of work to do here. And it's got some clarity. A lot of investors are asking for more clarity from Credit Suisse.

So Credit Suisse shares are up, if you can pull that up, guys in the control room. You can see that they are up here. We don't have that. But I'll tell you that it is up a little bit. About 20 percent right now. And futures, U.S. stock index futures, are pretty much mixed here. And

I would say searching for stability is what we're talking about here this morning.

It has been a week now of pressure in the U.S. banking system and now the international banking system. Also raising some concerns about just where we are in terms of fragility in banking, a year now into all these interest rate hikes, guys.

HARLOW: Christine, just help clarify for people. Credit Suisse is such a larger bank than the two -- two bank failures here in the U.S. And the reason that it has been struggling so much is very different. But the timing is just terrible.

ROMANS: So Credit Suisse has had scandal after scandal for some time now. Right? And it is a humongous bank with global implications, lots of counter party risk, lots of tentacles into the global economy. Which is why the Swiss came in there so forcefully to make sure that we know -- everyone knows that there is a back stop for this -- this important, this systemically important bank.

Very different than SVB or Signature, which are tiny by comparison. Niche banks by comparison, and don't hold any systemic risk. Very -- two very different situations, honestly.

But it is still raising concerns about the pressure we are seeing in banking overall.

I will say I've heard up and down -- and Poppy, we talked about this last night on our bank special.


ROMANS: The U.S. Banking system is solid. The footing is much better today than it was in 2008. But in the near term, we're seeing an awful lot of volatility and fear. Fear about what's going on in banking.

HARLOW: A lot of pressure on some other U.S. banks. Big names like First Republic, that people know and see in their neighborhood. Christine Romans.

ROMANS: And those are bouncing back overnight, too.


ROMANS: So we'll watch to see if they find stability today.

HARLOW: Good to hear.

LEMON: Fingers crossed.

HARLOW: Thank you, Christine Romans.

Later in the show we're going to be joined by Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry. He is the chairman of the Financial Service Committee. You'll remember, he talked about this Twitter-fueled bank run. What he's doing in Congress to try to keep this from being contagion.

Plus, Fulton County has a third Trump tape, this time pressuring another Georgia official to overturn the 2020 election. We'll tell you who you is on that call and what the grand jury just heard.

COLLINS: Also, another investigation into -- another update into another Trump investigation. Stormy Daniels has met with Manhattan prosecutors who are investigating the former president, as his former fixer, Michael Cohen, testified yesterday before the grand jury. What we are now learning; that's ahead.



COLLINS: Breaking news this morning. We are now learning about another recording of former President Trump, pressuring a Georgia state official to overturn his election loss.

A source tells CNN this is a phone call of Trump urging Georgia's then-House speaker to call a special session to block President Biden's victory in the state.

Members of the special grand jury who are investigating Trump in Fulton County told the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" they listened to the recording of the call.

One of the jurors telling the newspaper that the House speaker, quote, "basically cut the president off and said, quote, 'I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate." The juror said that "He basically took the wind out of the sails of the former president."

Previously, of course, we only knew of two recordings. The one that pretty much everyone has heard, of Trump telling Georgia's Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to find him enough votes to win.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via phone): So look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes which is one more than we have, because we won the state.


COLLINS: And now we are learning of a second call. CNN's Katelyn Polantz is here with us. I mean, it's -- that call was remarkable in and of itself. And now we're learning there's been a second call of him pressuring another state official. What can you tell us?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, actually, a third call. There's two other recordings where he was talking to the secretary of state's office.

But this third call was to the House speaker at the time, David Ralston. And what's notable about it is it's not just what Trump was saying, similar to how he was saying -- speaking to the secretary of state, asking the House to gather for an assembly, to try and gum up the election.

What's notable is what Trump was saying back. We haven't heard the audio of this call yet, so we don't know exactly what was said. But from the reports from these jurors, from what Ralston was saying after the election, he clearly was telling the president at the time, this is not going to work. This isn't something that you could do.

So Trump was getting that message at the same time that he and all kinds of people who were supporting him in Washington, Jeffrey Clark at the Justice Department and others, private attorneys, were trying to go directly into Georgia and get the state House to do something in a federal election.


Also the other thing to note about this is pretty significant, is that Ralston died in November. So if this were to be charged and this were to become evidence, if Trump were to be charged by the prosecutors in Georgia, Ralston wouldn't be able to be a witness. But the conversation can live on, because there's an audio recording of it.

COLLINS: The fact that there's recordings of these calls also shows the skepticism, I think, that a lot of these -- these officials, Republicans, many of them, had getting on the phone with the president then at the time.

I think one question when I was looking through this, is why are we just now learning about this third call and this third recording?

POLANTZ: Well, we're learning about this call, because the jurors heard it. We knew that it -- that it had happened. So Ralston had spoken that he had had a phone call with Trump. I don't think that it was totally known that there was not a recording of it.

But the jurors heard it. It could become evidence in this case, if it were to be charged.

And one of the things, also, that's important about it is that the other calls were to the secretary of state's office. They were about finding votes, investigating the election. This idea, well, we should just look more.

This would be direct pressure onto a state legislature. So the person who is leading the state House, and as you note, a Republican, who's pushing back.

COLLINS: Yes. So another dynamic to this. A lot of investigations going on with the former president. Katelyn Polantz, thank you for tracking that.

Poppy, just an amazing development.

HARLOW: It really is. That's that, and then another investigation here in New York. A huge day yesterday, as you know, Kaitlan, at the Manhattan district attorney's office in their investigation of Donald Trump's role in hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and a surprise appearance before that grand jury.

Daniels met with prosecutors in the D.A.'s office while key witnesses -- key witness, I should say, Michael Cohen testified before the grand jury for the second time in a week.

With us now with all the developments, CNN senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid, and CNN chief White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly.

LEMON: 11,780. Every time I hear it, it doesn't --

HARLOW: But I'm not even talking about --

LEMON: I know, the $130,000. That's --


LEMON: That's our numbers of the day, 11,780 and $130,000.

MATTINGLY: This is what, like, the fourth year where those have been numbers of the day at some point? It's wild.

LEMON: First, let's -- we'll get to Stormy Daniels, right, and to Michael Cohen. But when you hear that phone call, right, the 11,780 it's surreal. But then there's another phone call. Like, what gives here? What is going on? How much more is going to come out on this?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, there could be additional evidence that the jurors heard. But "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" did a great job of getting these interviews and revealing some of this additional evidence.

It's so unheard of to get this kind of insight into what's going on with a grand jury. To hear what they were thinking, the evidence that they heard.

But one thing we've learned from this investigation, Don, is there's always another call. There's always another official. It's been like that for two years.


LEMON: This is Trump.

HARLOW: Let's talk about what's happening in New York right now. Because the -- this is a very -- we've had Alvin Bragg on the show, the D.A. This is a very difficult case to successfully prosecute.

Part of the reason, perhaps, why Cy Vance walked away from it. You have to really thread a needle here and jump a lot of hurdles to prove Donald Trump's involvement in every step of this.

How significant is it that -- that Michael Cohen talked to the grand jury again yesterday, the same day that Stormy Daniels, Phil, was with prosecutors in his office?

MATTINGLY: The beauty of my role on this panel is I'm not a lawyer. And Paula is.

REID: I'm recovering. We'll work together.

MATTINGLY: I will say that from afar -- and Paula has been doing great reporting on all this, and knows this super well -- it is very clear this is moving very quickly. Obviously, these two individuals, who are very important and not unlike the surreal nature of the call that Don was talking about, have just been kind of omnipresent in our lives for several years. It's almost bringing everything back together. And it seems like it's headed in that direction.

What it means on the legal side, what it means on the political side, here's the craziest thing. I don't even know. Right? Like, there were very real reasons why it seemed like Alvin Bragg was not going to -- why Cy Vance was not going --


MATTINGLY: -- moving forward. Why Bragg didn't seem like he was going to move forward.

HARLOW: Right.

MATTINGLY: And very real reasons why, when you talk to people in the Trump orbit, they feel like this is not their biggest concern.

HARLOW: But can you explain, though, Alvin Bragg thinks he has a shot at this now. What does he need Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels to prove if he wants to win his case?

LEMON: They're at the crux of it.

REID: They are at the crux of it.

LEMON: He made the payment.

REID: It's a bad day for Donald Trump.

HARLOW: Even if it's not illegal, it's the other stuff.

REID: Exactly. It's not about the -- about the hush money. It's not about the alleged affair. It's about how this hush money was reimbursed.

And yesterday, you have an adult film star with whom you had an alleged affair and who people testify you paid hush money to, to keep quiet about the alleged affair ahead of the campaign in 2016, talking to prosecutors on the same day that your former fixer shows up to talk to the grand jury. This is bad.

But again, the question for prosecutors is whether they believe they can prove that these were improperly reimbursed to Michael Cohen. Because he's the one who facilitated the payment to Stormy Daniels. So she's a key witness to talk about the hush money. But he's really

at the center of this case. How was this reimbursed? Was it also done to help the campaign? Because then it can be charged differently.


But there are a lot of questions, Poppy. This is seven years ago this happened. It's been investigated for five years. And just in the past few weeks, we've seen this parade of high-profile witnesses and a sudden uptick inactivity. There were, like, eight or nine witnesses, including Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, and a bunch of folks.

Listen, his -- his defense on television is Joe Tacopina. We know him as the TV lawyer.

HARLOW: Saw him with Erin last night.

LEMON: "And you know this is all about politics, right?" He's talking about the politics and whether it's going to affect 2024. Can we play this and a quick reaction from you guys?


JOE TACOPINA, ATTORNEY: I think a prosecutor would say, you know, he's a very Democratic prosecutor. He's been supported by the far-left. Going after perhaps the most far-right guy you have out there. And I think he's thinking, If I prosecute him, I take him out of candidacy.

If they indict him, it will embolden -- I think it will -- you know, because he will win this case. It will catapult him to the White House.


LEMON: Mr. White House correspondent?


LEMON: What do you think?

MATTINGLY: It's probably a decent assessment of the political dynamics. Not to give anybody too much credit at this stage.

Look, it is very early on in the primary process. We have no idea what's going to happen next. And the people that you think are definitely going to be top-tier candidates may flame out before Iowa even happens, in terms of the caucuses.

The reality is, though, when it comes to the very, very sticky supporters in the Republican primary of President Trump, this certainly isn't going to make them walk away.

The bigger question is, does it make the -- if President Trump can focus on Trump and get 30 percent or 35 percent in the primary, does something like this drive the 5 to 6 percent he would need to really get things over the top away? I don't -- I mean, if you're a Republican and you know Alvin Bragg and

you know what Alvin Bragg kind of made his public posture in the lead- up to taking over the role as D.A., I don't think that this is something that dissuades you.

I just -- nobody that I've talked to, whether they like the former president of don't, on the Republican side of things, this is the thing that changes minds. If anything, it just brings it back to the forefront that Democrats don't like him, or something like that. It's easy to message, as you saw last night there.

REID: Yes. And why now, right? Because there could be additional evidence; they've uncovered a new witness. We haven't seen that. And there are a lot of questions about whether he is bowing to political pressure.

And that is not what we want to see in our justice system. Prosecuting people for political gain.

LEMON: With all the investigations happening, we could do this until -- what is it -- "CNN TONIGHT" at, you know, 11 p.m.

REID: Let's not. I need a nap. I love you guys, but I need a nap. Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. Thank you, Paula. Appreciate that.

Straight ahead, though, we should tell that you Michael Cohen is going to join us. We're going to get his side of the story on what went down during his second grand jury testimony. I believe it is his first in- person interview. I've seen on the phone, you know, on another network. But he's going to be here in person.

Also, half a million -- half a million Israelis taking to the streets in protesting against Benjamin Netanyahu's government. Why there are concerns this morning that Israel could be on the brink of a civil war. We're live in Jerusalem.

HARLOW: We're also following the breaking news. See the moment caught on camera when a Russian fighter jet took down a U.S. drone over the Black Sea. It is stunning.

Our team is standing by at the Pentagon with the latest.