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CNN This Morning

Pentagon Releases Video of Russian Fighter Jet Hitting and Forcing U.S. Drone into Black Sea; New Audio Released of Former President Trump Pressuring Then Georgia House Speaker David Ralston to Overturn Results of 2020 Presidential Election; Former Trump Attorney Michael Cohen Interviewed about His Testimony before Grand Jury; Yellen: Banking System Remains Sound, Deposits Will Be There. Aired 8- 8:30a ET

Aired March 16, 2023 - 08:00   ET



MARINER KEMPER, CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENT, AND CEO, UMB FINANCIAL CORPORATION: -- they don't float with interest rates. Sixty percent of my assets float with interest rates. So we don't have an issue related to a squeeze. And so anyway, we've got -- we're highly liquid, got great regulatory

capital levels. And I have already talked -- the great thing about being a commercial bank is you can talk to all your customers. And the great preponderance of them have already recommitted. Yesterday we didn't have any outflows. And this thing is over.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That means people were not taking their money out of your bank yesterday, in layman's terms. We appreciate your time.

KEMPER: Yes, exactly.

HARLOW: You are welcome to come back, by the way, after you meet with Moody's. Thank you very much Mariner Kemper.

KEMPER: Absolutely. Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: You're welcome.

CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we begin with breaking news. It is a very busy news day. Good morning, everyone. As you can see, Kaitlan is in D.C. this morning. We are following a lot of news. The news is happening from D.C. to New York and all over. New video just released this morning from the U.S. military showing the moment a Russian fighter jet forced down a U.S. drone over the Black Sea. It is stunning. It is rare video, and we are going to show you the midair encounter.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And as Don noted, we are also tracking several developments in the Manhattan district attorney's hush-money investigation into Donald Trump. Stormy Daniels met with prosecutors yesterday, and moments from now Trump's former fixer and attorney Michael Cohen, who also has spoken with them, is going to join us live for his first in-person interview, TV interview since testifying.

HARLOW: We're also tracking the turmoil in the global banking system, following the collapse of two U.S. banks. Credit Suisse was thrown a critical lifeline as well by Swiss National Bank. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify this morning before Senate lawmakers. She will reassure Americans that, quote, the banking system remains sound.

LEMON: But here's where we begin this morning. It is with our breaking news. The Pentagon has released a video of a Russian fighter jet hitting a U.S. drone, forcing it to crash right into the Black Sea. You can see the jet dumping fuel as it comes swooping past the drone with barely any room to spare. A second clip shows the jet coming back in for a second pass, but this time it collides with the drone. In the video, the feed cuts out. That's when you can see color bars.

HARLOW: Yes. And you can see the drone's propeller blades. We will pull this back up for you. They are clearly damaged, bent out of shape, one of them cut in half. U.S. officials tell CNN that the Russian pilots were ordered to harass that drone. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee just weighed in on this. Listen.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R-FL): And so I think we should fly more of them. We shouldn't stop flying them. And in many cases we should be prepared to scramble jets and respond if they are threatened by Russian aircraft.


HARLOW: So let's bring in anchor and chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. Jim, wow. And this new news that it was ordered, right. This wasn't some mistake, as the Russian government was saying yesterday. What is the new information you are learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I am learning that this was video that the U.S. military was able to extract just in the last 24 hours, that they had video yesterday, but that video did not show with the detail you see here just how close and how dangerous that encounter was. They were able to get this right up to the moment, as you were noting before, that it gets hit physically and then goes to bar as it loses transmission.

So, in other words, they were looking for the most incontrovertible evidence they could have to share with the public. And that's what we have now to contradict the Russian version of events, which is to say that they did not come into direct contact with this plane.

The one open question remains this. Yes, Russian pilots have been harassing U.S. surveillance flights with more frequency and more aggressiveness in recent days, weeks, and months, and that this particular interaction, U.S. officials believe, was ordered by Russian higher ups. The question is, was it ordered just to harass or to actually hit that drone? And that remains an open question.

Listen, though, what U.S. officials tell me is whether you were told to hit it physically or not, flying that close, dumping your fuel as we see there on the jet and doing so repeatedly, flying so close repeatedly, that's deliberate, and that creates the danger of just such an interaction as this. And that is certainly the U.S. view at this point.

LEMON: Listen, that very good question that you are posing there about whether it was intentional or not. I spoke to Cedric Leighton earlier today and he said -- earlier this morning.


He said he believes that it was intentional to try to down the drone, or at least to damage the drone with the fuel spillage, but to actually come into physical contact with that drone is very dangerous for the pilots. Doesn't believe that that part was intentional. It just happened as they were trying to down it with the fuel possibly.

SCIUTTO: Listen, by the way, whatever the final conclusion is, you dump fuel on a plane, you fly this close, that's dangerous, and you have to accept the risk of a collision. The bigger danger going forward, right, is that you have a lot of uncrewed surveillance aircraft flying around both Russia and China, but you have many crewed ones as well. There is harassment both by Russia and China of crewed missions, not to this degree, but listen, if you are flying that close, it increases the risk of something like that. So you could imagine a more dangerous scenario where you have such harassment, and it puts a crew in danger. Thankfully, we are not there, but we should be conscious you do have a lot of crewed flights flying in similar areas and that there is certainly a risk that the U.S. side is certainly aware of.

LEMON: It certainly looks an act of aggression. Where does place national security, or international security, for that matter, Jim?

SCIUTTO: It's something we have to watch very closely. You and I, we were talking about this over the last 24 hours. There is an enormous amount of U.S. and Russian and NATO hardware flying in and around the Ukrainian airspace right now with the largest war in Europe since World War II. There has been tremendous effort made over the course of the last 13 months to avoid those assets coming into direct conflict. There are lines open to deconflict, as it's known, so they don't come into direct conflict so that you don't end up shooting at each other or putting each other in danger. And this interaction shows that when you mess with those rules and when you deliberately harass, it increases the risk of exactly that.

And why has there been such care taken to keep the forces separate? So this does not become a direct military conflict between the U.S. and NATO and Russia. This interaction right there shows how dangerous and close those assets are.

HARLOW: Don't you think, Jim, that this really also emphasizes how important it is to have the diplomatic lines of communication open between two countries? Remember Kaitlan's interview with Lloyd Austin, the defense secretary, when he confirmed a few weeks ago to her that those lines with China, after they weren't picking up the phone, they still weren't. This is why that's important, right, Jim?

SCIUTTO: A hundred percent, and at two levels. One, at the higher diplomatic level, you want the two countries speaking to each other in these very tense times. But also at the military level there are deconflict lines with the express function of commanders talking to commanders so this kind of thing doesn't happen. You've got to keep the lines open, because the danger is real.

And remember, go back 20 years, do you remember that interaction over China, a Chinese jet harassed a crewed U.S. spy flight, this was over Hainan Island in 2001, harassed it, hit it, brought that jet down with great danger to the crew. That, of course, is the nightmare scenario.

LEMON: Yes. Jim Sciutto, thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

COLLINS: OK, also this morning, there are new developments in two of the investigations surrounding former President Trump. His legal troubles now span from Manhattan to Atlanta, from alleged hush-money payments to reported attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. In Manhattan, Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen has testified against -- again before a New York grand jury for the second time just this week. Stormy Daniels, who is at the center of all of this, also met with prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney's office. It's a part of that investigation into Trump's alleged role in the hush-money payments that Stormy Daniels received.

Michael Cohen is in our New York studio. We are going to talk to him about what he said in just a few moments. But we're also tracking developments in Georgia as we are now learning there is another recording of former President Trump pressuring an official to overturn his election laws. Our CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz is following all of this and joins us now. Another call, another recording. What is Trump saying on this recording.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: This is the third recording we know of, and this recording was heard by the special grand jury sitting in Georgia looking at whether they would make recommendations to prosecutors to potentially bring charges against Trump. And this call was to the Georgia House Speaker David Ralston at the time. Trump basically wanted him to convene the general assembly, to convene the state legislature to stop the result of the election, get involved in the federal election results.

We know from what Ralston said about the day after this call, he said that he pushed back against this, told Trump basically this wasn't going to happen. It was going to be an uphill battle. But we haven't heard exactly what was said here, how hard Trump pushed, what exactly he was asking and what Ralston told him in response.

[08:10:03] Those exact words would have been lost to history, basically, because Ralston died in November. But this recording did exist. We are learning that it does exist. It was heard by those grand jurors and could become evidence if there is a case brought in Georgia against the former president.

COLLINS: And we've seen how big that other recording of him with Brad Raffensperger has been.

The other development that's happening here that I'm super fascinated by, I know you are too, is the chief judge here in Washington that has really been at the center of Jack Smith, the special counsel's investigations when it comes to the classified documents, but also Trump's alleged role on January 6th as they are looking into that and what that looked like. I guess I shouldn't say alleged, but what exactly he did in the leadup to that. She is stepping down tomorrow. What is the significance of that? Why does that matter to people who are paying attention to this?

POLANTZ: right, so this is the passing of the gavel from the administrator of the federal court in D.C. to the next person to take charge, and that role is very important. It isn't necessarily the judge who would get the case if Donald Trump or others were indicted in the Jack Smith special counsel investigations, but it is the person who manages and makes decisions on what happens in the grand jury proceedings. So prosecutors call people to the grand jury. And if there is a fight over that, if Donald Trump, we know he has been fighting eight to 10 different cases in court. Judge Beryl Howell has been making the decisions on those things. She has given the green light to prosecutors, to House investigators. She has also been trying to be very transparency about what is happening in those proceedings as much as she can.

She passes the gavel to a long-time Washingtonian who is very well respected, very well known in Washington, named Jeb Boasberg. He is the judge that takes over as the chief of the D.C. district court. I sat down with them both last week, asked them how they were going to be handling things, what they were expecting going forward. Clearly, the grand jury is going to take up a lot of their time. It took a lot of Howell's time. It's probably going to be taking a lot of Boasberg's time.

And one of the things he was able to say is that he would try to be as transparent as Howell was able to be on any sealed proceedings that come before him. So we don't know exactly what he will do. He could be different from her. But it is going to be a very key role going forward.

COLLINS: Trump's attorneys are watching this closely as well. Katelyn Polantz, great reporting. Thank you for joining us this morning.


LEMON: Kaitlan and Katelyn, thank you very much. I'll pick up where you guys left off. As we mentioned, the Manhattan D.A. is continuing its investigation of Donald Trump's role into hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels met with prosecutors in the D.A.'s office while key witnesses, Michael Cohen, or witness Michael Cohen, testified before the grand jury for the second time this week.

So joining us now for his first TV, on TV or in-person interview since those testimonies, Donald Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen, also author of the book "Revenge, How Donald Trump Weaponized the U.S. Department of Justice against His Critics." He's also the host of the Mea Culpa Podcast and Political Breakdown Podcast. Thank you for joining us, appreciate you waking up early to see us and to do it in person. Your other interviews have been just on the phone, correct?

MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER ATTORNEY: No, my other interviews with the district --

LEMON: No, I mean on television, for television.

COHEN: Yes, yes.

LEMON: So this is your first time. So thank you. Has it been 21 or 22 times?

COHEN: So I met with the D.A.'s office 20 times for interviews and then two times for the grand jury.

LEMON: Why are you cooperating with them?

COHEN: Because that was the pledge I made when I stood before Judge William H. Pauley and I said that I will cooperate. And I didn't need a 5K1 agreement. I wasn't a part of a cooperation agreement. Democracy is more important than anything, and I know it sounds hokey, but my goal is to ensure that truth comes out and that truth to power is told.

LEMON: In as far as on the list of witnesses, do you know where you are? Are you the last one or towards the end?

COHEN: I would presume that I am. I know from reading the same reports that you have, whether it's "The Times" or "Wall Street Journal" that there have been seven or eight witnesses that have come in and spoken before the grand jury. I am not aware -- that's the one thing about this district attorney's office. They are really quiet about everything. You don't get any information about anything other than what pertains to you.

LEMON: So let me ask you about the questions -- and I know that you want to protect the investigation, you want to respect what Alvin Bragg and his office is doing here.

COHEN: Then why ask me the question?


LEMON: I just want to see what you can -- what did prosecutors ask you? What can you tell us about that?

COHEN: I really can't talk about any of the -- obviously, you know that one of them deals with the hush-money payments. But I will tell you that one of the things I think that will come out of this investigation, other than the potential indictment of Donald Trump, is a lot of information about how the Southern District of New York dealt with me in my specific case.


Now, what's difficult for me to do is always to talk about my own case, because people will say, oh, well, you're partisan to your own case and you're trying to make a point. That's why, you know, like Lanny Davis, my attorney, he's been with this with me in this journey since day number one. And he has so much information about the weaponization of the Justice Department against me that, there's nobody else that knows the story better.

LEMON: OK. So, you can't really -- you don't want to talk about the specific questions. I mean, look, can you take us inside and talk about the process of the grand jury. Who is interviewing you? What is it like? Are they each asking you questions?

COHEN: So, the -- there's a lead prosecutor in the District Attorney's Office, who handled the questioning, it was like just being on trial, you're sitting in the front, there are 23 grand jurors. And at the end of the prosecutor's question, then the grand jurors get an opportunity to ask you their own specific questions.

LEMON: Did each of the 23 grand jurors?

COHEN: I can't say that each and every one. But for the most part, yes.

LEMON: So, that OK, -- so, then what types of questions? I know that specifically what types of questions they --

COHEN: Again, those questions or relate to the topics.


COHEN: And it's really so much better if Lanny Davis was sitting here and that way he can sit and talk to you about these sorts of issues. For me, I really do want to respect the process for two reasons. One, because that was a pledge that I made to them. But more importantly, if I do get called as a witness at the trial, I don't want anything that I say now, to impede upon that ability.

LEMON: I understand that you're an attorney, so, you know how this works. And let me ask you then, if you met with them 20 times and then for the grand jury twice. So, they have met with other witnesses, including Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks, both who -- both of whom were --

COHEN: David Pecker, Dylan Howard. There was also Jeff McConney, Deborah Tarasoff. LEMON: OK, so, two questions here, as you go back to -- after they have spoken to these other witnesses, does that inform them as to what they asked you the next time?

COHEN: I don't know how they run their process. What --

LEMON: They're asking you the same questions over and over?

COHEN: No, of course not.

LEMON: You understand (INAUDIBLE)?

COHEN: Yes, I'm sure do. They -- so, again, to respect their process. What I can tell you is that their questioning of me started out at like 35,000 feet.


COHEN: And by the time that I hit the 20th interview, we were down to like three feet ready to land. The Grand Jury was the actual takeoff back to we'll call it accountability vail.

LEMON: So, the grand jury questions are different than the questions that they initially asked you?

COHEN: They're on the same points, but they're not exactly the same.

LEMON: OK. Stormy Daniels, testified in front of the grand jury at least met with the grand jury yesterday. Through --

COHEN: I don't know that.

LEMON: -- through zoom.

COHEN: We don't know that.

LEMON: That should be true. Now, what do you think? What do you think of Stormy Daniels being brought into the process? Because that's a surprise to people. Does that change this investigation that show you that it's ratcheting up than an indictment is imminent?

COHEN: It certainly doesn't benefit Donald for Stormy Daniels to be talking about it. So, if that helps the district attorney's case to go forward. So, be it. I do know and I'm prepared to tell you they have a tremendous amount of information. A lot of people have attacked my credibility. Truth be told, at the end of the day, they can attack me all they want. This case is not going to be predicated on any one individual but rather it's going to be predicated on the documents.

LEMON: All right.

COHEN: The evidence, the text messages, the emails.

LEMON: All right, so, that because Donald Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopina is also attacking your credibility if we can play that real quick. COHEN: OK, Don, before you do that. Can I just see this one second?

LEMON: As your -- I know, you're talking about the interview that he did --

COHEN: Can I see this for one second?

LEMON: -- on the other network.

COHEN: Yes. Joe, that's how you end up asking somebody for a document.

LEMON: Let's play it real quick.


JOE TACOPINA, DONALD TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: Alvin Bragg once said, I hope he remembers these words. He can't see a world in which he would base a prosecution of Donald Trump, on the word of a convicted perjurer and felon like Michael Cohen. He's still a convicted perjurer. He's someone who was convicted of lying. And it's not about vengeance, it's about all about vengeance for him.


LEMON: I know that you're very sensitive, and you take umbrage to that. And you're also recreating something that he did an interview on a network --


LEMON: -- trying to take some (INAUDIBLE).

COHEN: Yes, I was -- I was just trying to poke fun at him. It was just so easy.

LEMON: What do you -- what do you think of what he said?

KOHEN: We'll I think he's a fool and worse than that, what's going to happen and again, I've been by Trump's side so long, I can tell you the playbook on to it. Donald sent him out in order to lie, in order to continue with a narrative that only Donald wanted. He's failed in that and so soon, he'll get cut off just like so many others when Rudy mess up, or Alina Habba messed up or Corcoran or Eastman or any of the other ones. And he will just send them, he'll just send them on their way and Tacopina will be just one of many.


LEMON: What do you -- who else can cooperate? What Michael Cohen is saying, Michael.

COHEN: Clearly yet, clearly everyone, you see, it's easy to turn around and to say, Oh, Michael Cohen's a convicted liar. That happens to be true, I did, I pled guilty to 1001 violation. I accepted that, but what you need to do, and so many pundits do this and it's wrong. You need to finish the sentence. Yes, I was convicted, I pled guilty to 1001 violation. But I did it at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump, and they have --

LEMON: Did you (INAUDIBLE) to other stuff outside of Donald Trump?

COHEN: Hold on -- hold on one second. That's true, but we're talking about the what Tacopina wants to call the perjury charge. What I lied about was the number of times that I spoke to Donald Trump about a failed real estate project in Moscow, Trump Tower Moscow. I stated to Congress, the number of times was three. In fact, the number of times was 10. If you think or anybody thinks that that's going to stop me from being a credible witness, considering everything that I've told Mueller. Seven different congressional committees, the Attorney General, the District Attorney, and so many others has always been proven to be truthful and accurate? Well, so be it.

LEMON: You can still have a point of view and an opinion about this and without giving anything up. I have him spoken and met with him so many times. Do you believe that an indictment is imminent?

COHEN: I do.


LEMON: And do you -- when do you think it could happen sooner rather than later?

COHEN: We'll let's all hope it's sooner rather than later, because everyone needs to be held accountable.


COHEN: Everyone needs to be held to the same standard of the law, and that includes former presidents.

LEMON: All right, thank you very much, Michael. I appreciate it.

COHEN: Good to see you, Don.

LEMON: Come back. Please, if --

COHEN: Anytime.

LEMON: -- anything does happen. Donald Trump does deny that those hush money payments, of course, he has denied all along in any affairs as well. Poppy?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Don, thank you. Fascinating interview. All right, look at stock futures this morning as the markets remain under pressure from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank and just couple hours. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. We're going to be joined by a member of the committee, she will be speaking to that is Senator Bill Cassidy, he's next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: Just a short time from now, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify before the Senate Finance Committee in the wake of the sudden collapse of two U.S. banks. She is expected to tell the committee quote, "Our banking system remains sound, Americans can feel confident that their deposits will be there when they need them." This also comes after the huge Swiss Bank, Credit Suisse took a cash infusion of more than $50.00 billion from the Swiss National Bank. They are different.


HARLOW: But boy, it's a bad week for banks.

ROMANS: And what we're hearing from Washington really is that they're hoping that the exposure from Credit Suisse is not going to be big in the U.S. And those are two very different -- different issues. So, how are international markets reacting? I mean, I think they're searching for stability.


ROMANS: This morning, European markets searching for some direction, you can see, Asia close lower but Europe has opened mix. These are the stock gauges there and if you look at stock index futures here, they are narrowly mixed here again, searching for stability. And I think that's definitely what we want to see. Nasdaq Futures are up here, but Dow's futures are down just little bit. But that's not a big, those are not big moves at all.


ROMANS: What we'll be watching are those regional stocks, and you've seen what's happened to them over the past few days, really taking a beating. As everyone's looking at these, these regional banks that may have a lot of deposits that are on insured.


ROMANS: And are people going to be wanting to move out of those. So, big drops in those and then this morning, Regional bank stocks have renewed pressure again. So, this is what's happened the past couple days trying to --


ROMANS: -- stabilize here. That's the big decline in these Regional bank stocks. And you talked to one CEO of one of those recently --

HARLOW: He told me it's over?

ROMANS: Over him?

HARLOW: Yes, he just told me this crisis is over. I'm not so sure.

ROMANS: Well, maybe this is the worst of it.

HARLOW: Yes, maybe.

ROMANS: But if you look right now, you can see many of those stocks are down.


ROMANS: Again, this morning. So, we're just watching those stocks.


ROMANS: You've got First Republic down 29 percent this morning, again.

HARLOW: Again?

ROMANS: Yes, absolutely.


ROMANS: So, look, we've got a big bank failure, two of them last week. Big concerns about stability in the banking sector, but for now, hoping we're putting a floor.


ROMANS: On your bank stress for now.

HARLOW: Let's hope.


HARLOW: Christine Romans. Thanks very much, Kaitlan?

COLLINS: And, of course, Poppy, as you were just talking about there. Secretary Yellen is going to be before the Senate Finance Committee today. Joining us now is one of the members of that committee. That committee, Louisiana's Senator Bill Cassidy. Thank you so much, for joining us this morning. When -- Senator, when Secretary Yellen before your committee today, what are your top questions for her?

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): Well, a couple of things. First, there's obviously going to be questions about the bank and the administration's response. If you look at what FDIC, kind of should have been doing? Are the regulators should have been doing? They clearly weren't doing it. Folks wonder, do we need more regulation? I say, I'm not sure it's the problem with the regulation, it might be a problem with the regulator. That will be thoroughly explored and I will be asking about Social Security, because I think everybody would have exhausted the bank topic by the time they get to me.

COLLINS: Yes, we do want to talk about Social Security. But when you just talked about regulation there, you did vote in 2018 on the rollback of some of those regulations. We've heard some Democrats blaming that saying, that is part of what contributed to what happened with SVB. Do you stand by that vote?

CASSIDY: Imagine that a Democrat blaming but blaming a Republican, when it's a Democratic administration, which is asleep at the switch. Never have heard that before, have you? If you look at, I stand by that vote.

COLLINS: with a vote, yes.

CASSIDY: I stand by that vote.

COLLINS: Even though it loosened the oversight --

CASSIDY: No, it's not about oversight.

COLLINS: -- with it comes to the bank of the sights.

CASSIDY: It was not about oversight. What I've said is that the regulators have the option instead of every year doing a stress test. It wouldn't be mandatory, it would be optional. Now, if you look at publicly traded, you look at Wall Street. Wall Street looked at this bank, back in December, saw that their assets were in long term low interest yielding bonds, and that their liabilities were rapidly going up. And Jerome Powell was saying over and over and over again. We're going to raise interest rates.

Now, the regulators should have stepped in, and they should have said wait a second, we've got a low yield assets and we've got a high yield liability, we've got a problem. Wall Street said that. I'm told that people sold the stock short and made hundreds of millions of dollars. So, Wall Street gets it but the regulators don't (INAUDIBLE). The value of the bank skyrocketed and as it skyrocketed that I'm told should have been a warning a red flag for the regulators to step in and say, banks exploded in value, is there some bubble taking place within the bank? They did not do that either. So, I think there's a lot of things that you can look at.