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Gov. Wes Moore (D-MD) On Texas Judge's Vow To Rule "ASAP" In Case Over Abortion Pill; U.S. Demands TikTok's Chinese Owners Spin Off Their Share Or Face Ban; Bank CEO Responds To Listing On Moody's "Downgrade" Watch. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 16, 2023 - 07:30   ET





As soon as possible -- that is how fast a judge in Texas says he wants to rule on a very high-stakes case over an FDA-approved medication abortion pill. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk has made those remarks. He said them yesterday after he heard arguments that could decide the fate of that pill, which is called mifepristone. It is a medication abortion drug. It has been available for more than 20 years.

Anti-abortion groups are suing to overturn the FDA's approval of it. They want a preliminary injunction requiring the FDA to withdraw or suspend its approval while the lawsuit plays out.

The judge, who is a Trump appointee, questioned the FDA's safety process and appeared open to the anti-abortion group's challenge, but he also questioned whether there is any precedent for the court to overturn a long-approved drug. If the judge rules in favor of the challenge and grants an injunction it could disrupt access to the abortion pill even in states where abortion is legal, and that's really key.

So this is why earlier this week Democratic governors in 14 states wrote this letter and they asked the heads of a number of big national pharmacies whether they plan to continue dispensing the abortion pill as well as any other actions to safeguard access to reproductive healthcare.

We're joined now by one of the co-authors of that letter, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore. Good morning, Governor.

GOV. WES MOORE (D-MD): Good morning.

HARLOW: There --

MOORE: Thank you.

HARLOW: There is a chance that Judge Kacsmaryk could issue an injunction. What would that mean for the people of Maryland?


MOORE: You know, the thing that really gets me about the argument is we're talking about a drug that has been on the market for 20 years. There's no scientific basis for this challenge. This is a purely political challenge.

And the thing that we've said for people in the state of Maryland is as long as I am governor we are going to make sure that Maryland is a safe haven for abortion rights full stop. And that means that we are going to use every tool at our disposal to include --

On my first day in office we released $3.5 million of previously withheld funds to support abortion training clinics and making sure the people have not just the -- not just the training but also the physical security to ensure that abortion rights are going to be -- are going to be -- are going to be safe in the state of Maryland.

That we have four bills right now working through the Legislature that I plan on signing as they make it to my desk that focus on increasing access, increasing privacy, supporting out-of-state patients who are coming to the state of Maryland.

So we are going to make sure that Maryland maintains a safe haven for abortion rights. We're proud to work in partnership with other governors to do this because we know the attacks -- these creative attacks that are now happening on reproductive rights are not scientifically motivated. They're politically motivated.

HARLOW: Well, who would this affect most in your state? Because we remember years ago when former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg talked about the fact that a lack of access to abortion affects minorities and the poorest women the most. They cannot travel out of state, for example.

Who are you most concerned about?

MOORE: That's right. Well, as always, we're concerned about the most vulnerable. And you're absolutely right. If you look at the disproportionate impact on this restrictive reproductive rights and restrictive reproductive freedoms that they have -- that they have on women of color, that they have on under-resourced, that they have on younger -- on younger women, we know that the impacts that we are seeing here are not seen evenly.

And so when we have in Maryland -- and, you know, our philosophy -- our motto is "Leave No One Behind." That really does focus on making sure that those who are the most vulnerable are going to be the ones who are the most protected.

HARLOW: Let's move on to a few other topics. You've only been in the job for a few months but you've got a lot on your plate.

And interestingly, one of them is a healthy battle with a basketball challenge thrown in there between you and Gov. Youngkin of Virginia over whether the FBI headquarters are going to go. But you wrote this Washington Post op-ed and you outlined several reasons why you are making the case that it should be in Maryland. And you've included -- you said it should be the logical choice, including racial equity as one of the reasons.

Can you explain that?

MOORE: Yes. This is a legacy-defining choice by the Biden administration. This is the largest project that GSA has ever -- has ever decided on and the largest federal infrastructure project since the Pentagon and the CIA building which, by the way, both went to Virginia and has been part of spurn for the economic growth and development of Virginia.

And the -- and what my argument is that we should just stick to the guidelines that the FBI and GSA have already laid out as to where they're going to put the new building. They said they want to focus on cost. Well, to put it in Virginia is going to cost the American taxpayer around a billion dollars more to put it in Virginia.

They said they want to focus on transportation access. Maryland is the only build-ready site that actually has transportation assets and metro systems that are currently in place.

They said they want to focus on the future mission of the FBI. Well, Dir. Wray has said a huge part of the mission is going to be cyber and cyber threats. Well, Maryland is the home of NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, and Fort Meade.

And they said they want to focus on racial equity. Well, the thing we know is that if you look at economic competitiveness of the largest 150 jurisdictions in this country, northern Virginia in Fairfax County ranks as number two, and much of that has been because of the federal investment they've historically received.

Prince George's County, which is a majority Black county --


MOORE: -- ranks at 107 --


MOORE: -- and that's because of the lack of investment that's come on board.

HARLOW: So we invite Gov. Youngkin to come on and make his pitch as well. I think he'd take issue with the billion-dollar argument you made but he's welcome to come on the program.

Wes, let me move on to two other topics before I let you. Excuse me -- Governor. Let me move on to two other topics before I let you go.

One is President Biden. You've been such a supporter of his, including a reelection bid. You really want him to run again in 2024.

I do want to ask you though about what we've seen in just the past few weeks in terms of a real pivot to the center on some key issues. For example, overturning the D.C. crime bill, which a number of

Democrats, including the mayor of D.C., were very disappointed with. A number of progressives really disappointed with that as you know. Also, the approval of the Willow oil project in Alaska.

Do you support the president's moves on both of those, and what do you make of this pivot?


MOORE: Yes. The thing that I know is that the president -- if you just think about the first -- our first weeks in office, the president has been to the state of Maryland three times just in our -- just in our first weeks of office.

The first time was to announce a partnership that we have with the Frederick Douglass Tunnel, which is going to provide 30,000 jobs here to the state of Maryland.

The second is focusing on broadband infrastructure, which is a huge priority of mine of making sure that everyone in the state of Maryland is going to have broadband -- access to affordable and accessible broadband all throughout the state in urban and rural environments.

And so when I think about public safety and the issue of public safety we all know the number one priority for any chief executive is to make sure that your people are safe -- both safe in their own communities and safe in their skin. And I know that you can have policing that moves with appropriate intensity and absolute integrity, and full accountability, and that's not a choice. You have to be able to do all of those things.

And so when I think about what it means to be able to support getting -- making sure that we're getting and keeping violent offenders off of our streets --

HARLOW: So you --

MOORE: -- and making sure that we're getting and keeping these illegal guns out of our neighborhoods. And then Maryland has -- Maryland was the first state to enact --

HARLOW: Just --

MOORE: -- red flag laws where it has very strong universal background checks.

HARLOW: Just to be clear, Governor, you support Biden? You support the president's moves on both of these big things that I just mentioned?

MOORE: Yes. Well, I -- yes -- no. When you -- when you look at what happened within public safety, you look at the state of Maryland. We are the first state to have red flag laws --

HARLOW: OK. MOORE: -- in place. We are -- we had -- we essentially had universal background checks. We know that these are things that do work when it comes to reducing violence inside of neighborhoods. We also know we can't stop there, though.

HARLOW: But I -- OK, just to put a button on it, are you supportive of these two significant moves that the president has made that have some of your liberal colleagues not very happy? Yes or no?

MOORE: Yes. I -- well, I know that the president's decision on a crime bill in D.C. does not -- when I think about the state of Maryland we know that our impact and the work that we're doing right now, both with the federal government --


MOORE: -- and the local government to reduce violence in the state of Maryland, that it is working and we plan on continuing to double down on that investment.

HARLOW: All right. We are -- we are out of time. I tried to get your answer on that.

Governor Moore, we appreciate it very, very much. I hope Gov. Youngkin will join us as well. Thanks very much.

MOORE: I hope so, too. Thank you.

HARLOW: OK, bye.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks, Poppy. Thanks, Governor.

So, sell your stake in the app or face a ban. Why the Biden administration is pushing for a sale of TikTok.



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, you see the White House there on this Thursday morning. It comes as the Biden administration is now threatening to ban TikTok from the United States unless the application's Chinese owners agree to spin off their share of the platform.

Lawmakers have argued that the app is a national security risk, alleging that Americans' data can be accessed by the Chinese government. TikTok's owner ByteDance has disputed that. The company says the U.S. user data can only be accessed by U.S. employees.

Joining us now to talk about this is CNN media analyst and Axios reporter, Sara Fischer.

Sara, we've been talking about a possible ban here for months. This is something we saw efforts by the Trump administration. You know, what could happen? Could this really happen this time if ByteDance does not comply with this request that we are seeing from the White House?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST, REPORTER, AXIOS: Yes, I think so, Kaitlan. So, CFIUS, the committee for foreign investment in the United States, has been trying to negotiate a deal with TikTok to figure out how the app can remain without selling to a U.S. company.

Now, TikTok has given a bunch of concessions. They've promised to store U.S. data here. They've promised to give a U.S. company, Oracle, insight into its algorithms to ensure there is no content moderation problems.

What we are hearing from a source inside TikTok is that CFIUS has essentially decided that if they don't have their owners sell the U.S. stake that they will face a ban.

And Kaitlan, as you know, that's a momentous decision. There are over 100 million users of this app in America. It would be a huge escalation as well of the Biden administration's tensions with China.

COLLINS: Yes, it absolutely would.

Given the number you cited there -- 100 million people here in the United States using TikTok -- I mean, everyone knows one who uses it -- is the infrastructure in place for it to be spun off? Like logistically, what would that look like?

FISCHER: That's a great question and that's part of what TikTok would argue would be a little bit difficult.

But at the same time, they're taking steps right now to separate it out. That's part of what their Project Texas effort is. They are essentially separating the backend of user data in the U.S. so that they could protect it so that makes their argument a little bit tougher.

But to your point about whether or not there is infrastructure to ban it, you have to also know this infrastructure, if this thing goes away, to support the American need for it. When Biden started to look into this TikTok has now grown to so many competitors that if it were to be removed or banned from the U.S. it's not like the American consumer doesn't have alternatives.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has reels. Snapchat has Spotlight. And so infrastructures to support that need still exist.

COLLINS: Yes, that's fair. We'll see. This would be a monumental decision though, still.

Sara Fischer, thank you -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Kaitlan. Thank you very much.

The Mediterranean diet has topped the list of best overall diet when it comes to health benefits for six years in a row. Now a new study finds that the Mediterranean diet may lower heart disease risk in women by 24 percent, and lower the risk of early death by 23 percent.

The diet includes foods like fish, vegetables, and whole grains. This study comes with some limitations as the data relies on self-reported food intake.

Two testimonies, one week. Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen speaking to a grand jury twice this week about his former boss. Michael Cohen joins us live in studio for his first in-person interview since those testimonies. That's next.




HARLOW: Welcome back.

The failure of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank really shaking investor confidence in banks around the world, but also around the corner on Main Street. This week, credit ratings from Moody's cut the outlook it has for the entire U.S. banking sector and also placed six regional banks on review for potential credit ratings downgrades.

Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen is about to testify before the Senate Finance Committee this morning. She is expected to say, quote, "Our banking system remains sound. Americans can feel confident that their deposits will be there when they need them."

Joining us now is the CEO of one of those banks that Moody's has placed on review, UMB Finance, based in Kansas City, CEO Mariner Kemper. Mariner, thank you very much for your time.

And let's begin with why Moody's placed you guys on this list that no one wants to be on. They say a high -- we know from your filing that a high percentage of your deposits are uninsured. And Moody's say the share of the deposits which are above the FDIC insurance threshold is material. And they say that makes your funding profile more sensitive and at risk.

What do you say?

MARINER KEMPER, CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT, AND CEO, UMB FINANCIAL CORPORATION (via Webex by Cisco): Well, first of all, let's be clear. They have not issued their opinion yet, so I meet with them later today and we fully expect to redirect the misinformation and get back on track.

But specifically related to uninsured deposits, we do have a high percentage of them but it's based on our business model. We are a commercial bank doing business with businesses. And by definition, those relationships have more than $250,000 --

HARLOW: Yes. KEMPER: -- in deposits.

But these are deeply integrated relationships that have been with us 10, 20, 30 years. We've been in contact with all of them. They stand in solidarity. They're deeply integrated with other services. They're not just depositors.

And the other thing is different from SVB, they're highly diverse. So we don't have any one sector --

HARLOW: Sector.

KEMPER: -- in our deposit base (PH) that has more than fixed percent deposits in any one sector. Whereas, they had 45 percent of their deposits just in tech alone.

HARLOW: Yes. No, I hear you but there are -- that is a difference. Other similarities are, though, a lot of catering to businesses so, therefore, they have -- a lot of the accounts do have higher amounts above what's insured.

KEMPER: Well, additionally, six -- you know, $6 billion of our $30 billion in deposits are --


KEMPER: -- to governments and they, by law, have to be collateralized --


KEMPER: -- so there essentially insured. So if you put those numbers back into our number we go from 75 to the low 50s, which is in line with the large banks. And they don't account for that. I'm going to share that with them later today.


Is your reading from what the government did here to step in and secure the deposits -- all the deposits at Signature and SVB -- is it your read that the government would do that for any failed bank now?

KEMPER: Well, I guess I would redirect and say there isn't a financial crisis. That's an idiosyncratic issue for Signature and for SVB. There is no financial crisis taking place. There's no reason for anybody to be concerned about their deposits --


KEMPER: -- because there's no crisis.

So this is my -- not my first trip to rodeo as it relates to crisis of confidence. I've been in this job for 20 years --


KEMPER: -- and we've seen this before. All of our depositors on a great preponderance have already recommitted to us --


KEMPER: -- and this thing is already over.

HARLOW: Although I would say -- I don't know that it's over. I mean, look at the pressure on other regional banks like First Republic.

I hope you're right but you've got folks like Ray Dalio who founded one of the biggest hedge funds in the world, as you know -- Bridgewater, who said yesterday it's a canary in a coal mine and it's likely that bank failures will be followed by many more problems. The next two years, he says, will be a, quote, "very risky time."

There's concerns -- Larry Summers told me last night -- about a credit crunch with these rapid interest rate increases.

How can you be sure?

KEMPER: Well, I can be sure because you look at the current data and the current data would say there isn't -- it comes out every quarter. There are -- there is no credit crisis. Credit looks pretty good at the banks. We don't -- we don't have any credit problems to speak of.


KEMPER: And I don't -- I don't think most of the regional banks do.

You know, a venture capitalist head of a firm as a talking head doesn't speak for the nation and doesn't speak for the industry. I've been doing this for 20 years and I would say that we don't have a crisis.

HARLOW: Yes, trying to calm nerves. Final message -- and I've got 20 seconds left -- to customers who are worried and say should I move my money to a bigger bank.

KEMPER: Well, again, no crisis. But as it relates to UMB, we are -- we have a 65 percent loan-to-deposit ratio.


KEMPER: If you make the comparison to SVB they had 70 percent of their assets tied to securities, which means they don't float with interest rates.


KEMPER: Sixty percent of my assets float with interest rates.