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U.S. Military Releases Video of Russian Jet Forcing Down U.S. Drone; Another Recording Emerges of Trump Pressuring Georgia Official; Yellen Says, Banking System Remains Sound, Deposits Will be There. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired March 16, 2023 - 07:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dramatic new video released by the U.S. military showing the moment that a Russian fighter jet harassed a U.S. drone over the Black Sea ultimately forcing it down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was also part of a pattern.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A senior Russian official promised they would try to recover what they could from that drone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Kremlin spokesperson saying today that the relations between the two countries are at their, quote, the lowest point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to see any escalation. There is no need for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Georgia investigators have another recording Trump pressuring election officials to overturn the election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Third phone call is to the speaker of the house of the Georgia statehouse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What this would show me is Donald Trump had a specific strategy and approach about how he was going to go about pressuring the state officials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump wanted it done and went person by person to try and get it done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fears over the broader banking industry are now global.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Swiss Central Bank saying it is ready to bail out Credit Suisse with more funds if necessary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That sent shares plunging to record lows and markets are tumbling around the world. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. banking system is solid. The footing is much better today than it was in 2008.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, over now to D.J. David Guetta recreating Eminem's voice for an A.I.-generated track.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think there needs to be regulation, federal regulation around artificial intelligence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like that. It's very free and open right now. But at some point, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: March Madness is under way. 64 teams have their eyes on the final four.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 15th seed Princeton made it to the tournament. The Princeton fans still have school spirit. Check out some of the signs they made for the game. The first one says, hey, ref, don't you know who our fathers' are? This one says, ease up or we'll collapse another bank.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we begin, good morning, everyone. Don and I are here, Kaitlan is in D.C. We do begin with breaking news this morning. We are now seeing that video of a Russian fighter jet hitting a U.S. drone and forcing it to crash into the black sea. Kaitlan, it is so stunning. It looks like something out of Hollywood but this is real and it's between Russia and the United States. Walk us through what we're seeing.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it is remarkable to see with clarity what we've been hearing from officials in recent days now to actually lay our eyes on this video. This is video that has just been released this morning by the U.S. military's European Command.

And this is what they've been talking about, this situation and encounter that we're told lasted for over 30 minutes. As you see, a Russian fighter jet here approaching a U.S. drone, that's where the camera is. U.S. officials say that is when it dumped fuel on to the drone. Those were several steps that they were taken. U.S. officials have speculated about maybe trying to disable some of the sensors that were on that drone.

Of course, what this also confirms and what a senior administration official has just told our colleague, M.J. Lee, is that this does confirm there was physical contact between that Russian fighter jet and the U.S. drone. Of course, it clipped the propeller. That is why U.S. officials later had to force that drone down.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is live at the Pentagon as this video has just been released. I mean, Natasha, officials are telling M.J. that this does confirm impact happened, which the Russians had been denying.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Exactly right, Kaitlan. So, this video really does contradict what the Russians have been saying repeatedly over the last several days, which is that the fighter jet never actually made physical contact with that drone over at the Black Sea. Well, we can see here in the video, that Russian fighter jet approaching the drone releasing that jet fuel. And then after the video cuts out because of that moment of collision, you can see afterwards that that propeller is actually damaged.

And that is what U.S. officials have been saying over the last several days is that, really, that propeller could have been damaged by an impact from that plane. And so this video really reinforces what the U.S. has been saying about this. And the Russians have repeatedly denied that there was any kind of foul play here.


They say that they approached the plane and that ultimately they kind of went back and landed safely. Well, obviously, that is not what happened here. And the U.S. is likely releasing this video now because they want to prove their version of events.

Now, we should note that we reported just last night that senior Russian defense officials did actually order the pilot to move forward and harass this drone. So, this was not some rogue behavior by a couple of Russian pilots here, this was actually a direct order from the Russian Ministry of Defense, again, kind of contradicting the Russian narrative of events here.

Now, it remains unclear whether this drone is going to be recovered in the Black Sea. The Black Sea where it landed is about -- is very deep. It is 4,000 to 5,000 feet of water. And so the Russians have actually gone to that crash site and they are going to try to recover it. But the U.S. saying it could be very difficult.

However, we are told that the U.S. did take steps to wipe the software from that drone as it kind of plummeted into the Black Sea. There is nothing really of intelligence value that the Russians could obtain anyway, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes. We'll wait to see if they recover it first. Natasha Bertrand, thank you.

And, Don and Poppy, I mean, just to give a sense of how remarkable this event is, Defense Secretary Austin and Chairman Milley of the Joint Chiefs of Staff both spoke with their respective Russian counterparts yesterday and the Russian military for the first time in months about this incident specifically.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to continue to follow that. I'm going to bring in now CNN Military Analyst and the former member of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, retired Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel, thank you so much for joining us.

Listen, there are so much questions around this. First of all, they said that the Russians are saying it wasn't intentional. It is intentional if you're dumping fuel on it. But correct me if I'm wrong, probably not the physical contact because that puts the pilots in that Russian jet in extreme danger. COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You're right, Don. That's exactly it. The Russian pilots were clearly told, based on Natasha's reporting and what we're seeing with our own eyes right now, do harass this drone. They were told to probably kind of bring it down. He got a little bit too close, the Russian pilot did, and that was what when you started seeing the propeller in the after picture. It actually shows a bent blade. And that bent blade is clear evidence that the Russian plane actually hit, made physical contact with the MQ-9 Reaper.

LEMON: It's rare we see this kind of video and this kind of military action, right, that we get the video of it. This is not a normal military interception.

LEIGHTON: No, it's not. Now, what is normal, Don, is going up and taking a look at something that you don't know is out there and it's close to your border. So, any country that has an air force would probably do something like that. But they'll take a look at it, decide whether or not it's a threat and then move from there.

This drone was not a threat to the Russians. It was over international waters, over international airspace and it was actually working on a reconnaissance mission, which is allowed by international law. And the way the Russians reacted to it is was clearly extremely aggressively. It's (INAUDIBLE) the coast of Crimea and it's right there where all of the activity is happening, a lot of the activity is happening in the Ukraine war.

LEMON: If you see the image that is up now, you look at the propeller, the propeller is intact and one and then all of a sudden the propeller is clipped and damage in another. After seeing what happened to the drone -- there's the image right there -- and the damage, did the military have any options to save this drone?

LEIGHTON: Unlikely because of the air worthiness of a drone is really dependent on its propellers being intact and being formed in their original way. So, if a bent propeller is involved in something like this, it can really damage the ability to steer the drone properly and it would potentially result in accidents happening. So, from a safety of flight perspective alone, it was important to move the drone out of the area and one of the ways to do that is to crash it.

LEMON: Yes. I'm paraphrasing not the original question but it was either Kaitlan or Phil who said that General Milley was asked whether there this was an active aggression or an act of war. What do you say to that?

LEIGHTON: It was definitely an act of aggression. I think calling it an act of war is going a bit too far, Don. But, you know, if this continues, if this type of behavior continues, then the ante is clearly being raised and we could be talking other language very shortly. But at the present time, this is an act of aggression and it should be treated as such.

LEMON: This is what John Kirby was saying from the White House yesterday about the possible escalation and it did not want that to happen, because it appears to show that it could happen, right, considering this confirms what the United States has been saying about what happened with this drone.


Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you very much.

HARLOW: We have big developments this morning in two different investigations into former President Donald Trump, the election interference probe in Georgia and the Stormy Daniels hush money investigation here in New York. We are now learning there is another recording of former President Trump pressuring another Georgia official to help overturn his election laws. This time, it's a phone call with the state's Republican house speaker.

And here in New York City, Stormy Daniels met with prosecutors yesterday as they near the end of that investigation. Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, also finished testifying yesterday before the grand jury. That makes two appearances from him in a week. Cohen will join us right here on CNN This Morning in the 8:00 hour.

Let's get caught up on all of this with our Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid. Wow, so much in just a few days.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right. Even by Donald Trump's standards, yesterday, it was a wild day in court for him and related to court proceedings. In Georgia, we had these members of the special grand jury revealing these incredibly details of the investigation, and then here in New York, you had his former alleged mistress and his fixer both talking to prosecutors.


REID (voice over): Two investigations into former President Donald Trump heating up with possible indictments coming down soon. In New York, the Manhattan district attorney's office speaking on Wednesday to two key witnesses as part of its investigation into hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP'S FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY: My position is at the end of the day, Donald Trump needs to be held accountable for his dirty deeds if in fact that is the way that the facts play out.

REID: Trump's former fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen concluded a second day of testimony Wednesday. And Daniels' attorney tweeted that she also answered prosecutor's questions and agreed to make herself available as a witness.

The investigation is at a critical juncture after the district attorney's office invited Trump to testify last week. Trump's legal team says he will not testify and they're proclaiming his innocence with one of his lawyers making this striking prediction if his client is indicted.

JOE TACOPINA, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I think it will ultimately embolden it, embolden his supporters and give him more strength because he will be proven to be wrongly accused. But on the other hand, who in their right mind wants to be indicted and charged false with a crime? Nobody.

REID: Over in Fulton County, Georgia, the Atlanta Journal- Constitution is reporting the grand jury there heard a recording of a conversation between Donald Trump and the late former Georgia house speaker, David Ralston. In the recording, Trump is pushing for the speaker to call a special session to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state.

One of the jurors recalled Ralston basically cut the president off, telling Trump, I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with five jurors who served on the grand jury investigating Trump's actions in Georgia after the 2020 election. One of those jurors says they were presented testimony about a meeting then-senator and Trump ally David Perdue had with Republican Governor Brian Kemp in December 2020, where Kemp was also urged to convene a special session to challenge Biden's election win.


REID (on camera): Really extraordinary insight into the grand jury process there. This is not the kind of information we usually get particularly before there has been any sort of indictment. We know this grand jury has recommended multiple indictments. And if you talk to the former president's legal team, they are concerned about Georgia in terms of charges being brought. They're not, however, they say, worried about a conviction.

HARLOW: Paula Reid, fascinating. Wild, as you said, even for Trump's standard.

LEMON: I don't know how you keep up with all of these.

REID: It's a lot of coffee.

HARLOW: Brainiac over here. Thank you, Paula. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: All right. We're back here in Washington. The FAA held its first emergency summit in 14 years. Industry experts are warning, as they were gathered here in Washington alongside Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is calling on them to help figure out the root causes of the recent uptick that we've seen and been reporting on in aviation incidents. This comes after a series of near misses involving commercial flights at U.S. airports across the nation. The FAA is investigating seven incidents alone just since the start of 2023.

CNN's Pete Muntean is covering all of this and joins us now. Pete, emergency summit, the first time they've had one in 14 years. What were the main takeways from it?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, what's so interesting about this, Kaitlan, is the last time they had an emergency summit like this by the FAA was back in 2009 following a fatal crash of a Colgan airliner. In this case, in the seven incidents, these dramatic runway incursions, there have been no fatalities.


So, we're essentially talking about crashes that did not happen.

The FAA, though, is vowing that this is just the start of a sweeping safety review here in Washington. After this meeting, it announced no major changes to policy, no single root cause, but it is trying to whittle down and aim at the possible causes here. It says that in this readout of these closed door sessions, there is going to be an examination of the data behind these dramatic runway incursions. They're going to look at new technology that can be put in place at airports that could potentially alert air traffic controllers to collisions that are about to happen.

They're also going to look at pilot and crew fatigue and stress. And that is something that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told me about in an exclusive interview yesterday during the safety summit. He said, there is a kind of rust and this may go back to airlines struggling to rebound from the pandemic. Listen.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: What we're finding is that pilots, ground crews and controllers alike seem to be experiencing this uptick. Some have described as a kind of rust. But that needs to turn into a very concrete diagnosis and specific actions steps.


MUNTEAN: The head of the controllers union, the Air Traffic Controllers Union, (INAUDIBLE) and I, also spoke after the end of the session and he told me that there is one other problem in the mix here, something that is new that we're hearing about, a shortage of air traffic controllers not only in towers but other air traffic control facilities. He says the onus is really on the FAA and on Congress to find the money to up staffing to avoid these near collisions in the future, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, we'll see when those changes go into effect, clearly something everyone is watching. Pete, thank you.

And for our viewers on CNN Primetime, you're going to be able to inside the cockpit for a closer look actually at America's aviation problems. Kate Bolduan is going to host the new CNN Primetime episode, Flight Risk. That is live tonight 9:00 P.M. Eastern on CNN. Don, Poppy, I know both of you will be watching that very closely, just as I will.

LEMON: I will have it on but I'll be looking like this, because I do have a very healthy fear of flying --

HARLOW: Both of us.

LEMON: -- especially what's going on in the skies right now. Thank you, Kaitlan.

And we'll get back just shortly. This just into CNN, ahead of Janet Yellen's testimony this morning, the treasury secretary is stressing to Americans' bank deposits are safe. Bank deposits are safe. It's what she is saying. This as the Dow Futures and Credit Suisse are both down at this hour. Next, we're going to speak with Republican Congressman Patrick McHenry, the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, what he is doing in Congress to keep the fallout from spreading to other banks.



COLLINS: All right. Welcome back. This morning here on Capitol Hill, all eyes are going to be on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen because she is going to be testifying before the Senate Finance Committee in the wake of the sudden collapse of two U.S. banks. It's supposed to be a hearing mainly focused on the president's budget but, of course, this is going to be a major topic.

And moments ago, CNN got an early preview of her prepared remarks. We're told that Secretary Yellen is expected to tell the Senate committee that, quote, our banking system remains sound, Americans can feel confident that their deposits will be there when they need them.

So, joining us now for perspective is Republican Congressman from North Carolina Patrick McHenry, who is the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and, therefore, has been incredibly busy ever since for the last week or so.

I think the main question people have for you today given your position is, are there going to be congressional hearings on this?

REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): Sure, there will be. And the fact that they're in consistent communication with the regulators and administration for the last week, you know, I think I have pretty good understanding of how they responded. I think they responded well. But we have to get to the bottom of why this happened, sort of the who, what, when, where why and how of this. And we're underway on developing a plan for hearings and witnesses and things of that sort, which is natural in the event and circumstances we've just been presented with.

COLLINS: When it comes to the why of how -- or the how of how this happened, we have heard from some lawmakers who have been very critical of the 2018 rollback of some of the regulations on these banks. You voted for it. You are very positive about it back then saying that you believe that it helped small banks. Do you still stand by that vote?

MCHENRY: Yes. And the evidence they use to justify that is their political belief that they didn't like the bill in 2018. It has nothing to do with the contents and legislation. And, in fact, there has been a recent study that rollback not happened, quote/unquote, rollback not happened, this bank run would have still happened. So, what they're doing, what most of the politicians on Capitol Hill are doing are dining on their typical book of business and resorting to that as the answer and solution for what just happened. It is my responsibility as chair of the financial services committee to get to the bottom of what happened, then we can decide on the path forward.

And there are a number of different theories here. There is a management failure, a supervisory or regulatory failure, a failure of regulation, a failure of law. And then the bigger question that we're all experiencing, the average American family is experiencing and anyone who owns anything is experiencing is inflation and the impact of inflation rising rates. All of those theories are simply theories at this stage and we have to get to the bottom of actually what happened.

COLLINS: Do you think this ends up with new legislation?

MCHENRY: We'll see. But for me to say a couple days into this that it requires new legislation is very presumptuous. But that's actually what legislators always try to respond with, is legislation. It's my goal to actually to figure out what happened before we actually jump to conclusions.

COLLINS: So, you think of (INAUDIBLE) before you get there.

We've heard something from Senator Jon Tester saying that he believes regulators should try to claw back some of the bonuses that SVB executives got before the bank went to a tailspin.


Do you agree that that should happen?

MCHENRY: Well, we need to see what happened first before you can make that determination. What we do know is management in these two banks that failed have been fired. And that's what happens in a bank failure. That is a force of law we have. If you have to come in and backstop the depositors, like the federal deposit insurance company has done for 90 years in this country, you lose your job. The bank executives lose their job.

So, as a consequence of this, if we see malfeasance, if we see mismanagement, we have a solid determination of that, though the consequences should be on the executives of these firms.

COLLINS: Okay. So, that is on the table.

Overall, we've kind of heard this argument based on the actions the administration took, which Secretary Yellen will be asked about today, that the U.S. is moving closer to a nationalized bank system because of this response, now that all these depositors are being insured. Do you agree with that?

MCHENRY: I think that is a horrible outcome. As a result of the Dodd- Frank Act and the failures of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, we have larger banks and we have fewer of them. That is problematic for our financial system. It is problematic for competition among financial products and consumer choice. So, I think it's important that we think about community and smaller banks and regional banks and make sure they're able to exist on a going forward basis.

COLLINS: Yes, small banks are really important. I'm from Montgomery, Alabama. I saw how they played a role in the pandemic and whatnot. But you're saying it's a horrible outcome, but is that happening, is what I'm asking you.

MCHENRY: Well, absent us, making assurances to the American people, they don't need to move their accounts, which the action over the weekend was designed to do. That would be the inevitable outcome. So, I think in that respect, the movement of money between financial institutions tells me that we have a flaw and the design of our law and regulation at this point in time.

COLLINS: I want to ask you also given your position as the lead Republican on the financial services committee, the debt ceiling. Do you still favor a clean debt ceiling with no strings attached to it?

MCHENRY: Yes. What I said in December, I still hold by. But they're not votes to do what I want to do. And so I'm working with my colleagues to seek -- to come up with a legislative solution to this very challenging situation. I would encourage the administration to have more active outreach to Capitol Hill, more so than they've done. So far, they have not done really anything other than speak or meet with the president one time. And I think that is not a confidence building exercise, frankly.

COLLINS: They say they want to see the Republicans' budget. Do Republicans have a budget yet?

MCHENRY: Well, they are a month late on producing their budget. The first thing we have to do is analyze their budget and see the validity and the underlying assumptions that they've made and then we're going to make our decision about offering our budget.

I would likewise like to see the Senate Democrat majority produce a budget for themselves as well. We like to see whether or not House and Senate Republicans support the Biden budget. That will be also an encouraging sign.

COLLINS: Do you have a timeline of when we'll see the Republican budget?

MCHENRY: I'm not in charge of timelines. I'm merely a committee chair. And so we have to come up with our policy response but first understand their policy initiatives they put forward to Capitol Hill.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, they unveiled theirs last week. I know Republicans have a --

MCHENRY: They unveiled a budget. They did not unveil a debt ceiling offer.

COLLINS: Well, they said there has to be negotiations, right, because They want it to be what you want it to be, a clean debt ceiling with no strings attached. But some of your Republican colleagues say we want X, Y, Z attached.

MCHENRY: Yes, there are not votes for that. And I'm convinced there are not votes in the Senate for a clean debt ceiling increase. If they wish to do that, they could do it today.

COLLINS: We'll see when they do do it. Congressman Patrick McHenry, thank you for joining us this morning.

MCHENRY: Great to be with you.

COLLINS: A really important topic, so there is a lot going on and you have a lot to get back to. So, thank you.

MCHENRY: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right. Don and Poppy, you heard that there. We were talking about what is going to happen today. We have got that hearing with Secretary Yellen. And a lot of questions lawmakers still have about the fallout from SVB and the collapse of that bank and others.

LEMON: Yes. They can do it today. But, Kaitlan, you know, that's not how it works in Washington, D.C.

HARLOW: It is interesting to see a high ranking Republican on such an important committee agreeing with the White House on that. but saying there is not enough votes to do it on a clean debt ceiling bill. Kaitlan, thank you, we'll get back to you very soon.

LEMON: The high-stakes hearing yesterday in Texas on medication abortion, a group of governors now hoping to secure access to it in their state. The letter they wrote, we're going to be joined by one who signed it. That is the governor of Maryland, Wes Moore. He is here live.