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Debt Limit Fight; Rebecca Winter is Interviewed about Her Trapped Sister-in-Law in Sudan; Bed Bath & Beyond Files for Bankruptcy; Sergey Lavrov In New York City. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 24, 2023 - 06:30   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: He actually has the votes?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I think that's what he has to state to his caucus to convince them to sort of hold together, to convince them that this is not a political suicide mission.

I'm having a hard time imagining, from what we've seen so far, that what they're going to present will not be dead on arrival with the Senate where the Democrats have control. But, you know, is he going to put forward something that will hold together his caucus? Yes, I suppose he will. But it's going to be a lot of deep cuts. It's going to put a lot of people in a position of having to cast some really unpopular votes. A lot of his marginal members, people would won in pro-Biden districts, of which there are about, what, 14, 15, 18 of those members, they're going to be in a really tight spot. I think he's going to present something that will enable them to say, hey, I stayed with the team and tried to be true to Republican values as they exist in this particular season, but, no, I don't think it's going to get an actual vote in the Senate.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Before you go, if we can go back to the age thing real quick, how much does that play into what happens in 2024, because both men are pretty old. And the nominee is going to be - the nominee is that - is that - is it enthusiasm, does it tamp down enthusiasm? What exactly does this age issue do?

LOUIS: Well, you know, it's interesting - it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I mean I think what it will, among other things, what it might do is keep a lot of people home, right? If there are younger, rested voters who just don't like what they're seeing, they may - they may just choose to opt out, in which case we get essentially a replay of the 2020 election.

LEMON: Oh, boy.

LOUIS: I think that's probably the most - the most likely outcome. And we're - we're putting - we'd be putting off for another four years. If we have the same candidates as the nominees as we had in 2020, we're putting off for four years this question of, not just the White House, but also the Senate, also the House of Representatives, where we have this historically old average age, or high average age, of the representatives and a younger generation that's looking for new answers.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Errol Louis, thank you.

LEMON: Thanks, Errol. Good to see you.

HARLOW: Good to have you on Monday morning.

U.S. officials say they are not planning another special operation to evacuate American citizens from Sudan. Next, we're going to be joined by a woman whose sister-in-law is caught in the middle of it all in Sudan with an 18-month-old baby.



LEMON: Welcome back to CNN THIS MORNING.

Police in Tampa have arrested a suspect accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a female DoorDash delivery driver. Thirty-eight- year-old Joseph Killings faces multiple charges, including armed kidnapping, robbery, and sexual battery in connection with the incident last Tuesday. Investigators say the woman was making a delivery in this neighborhood when a man approached her with a gun, forced her back into the vehicle and took her to another location where he attacked her. According to police, her family tracked her phone and helped rescue the woman, but the suspect fled the scene after firing several shots at them. He was taken into custody the following day.

HARLOW: Well, this morning, about 100 Americans have been rescued from the violence in Sudan, but thousands more are still caught in this conflict between the country's military and a rival paramilitary group. The fighting has been going on now, this recent fighting, for 10 straight days. Some phone lines are down. Some internet connectivity is unstable. And there has been looting because of the lack of police forces. Thankfully, electricity and water have been returning in some areas. The United States is not planning an operation to evacuate American citizens who may want to leave. They say it's too dangerous to do that now.

Among those trapped in Sudan, an American teacher and her 18-month-old daughter. Trillian Clifford, you see them there, that's her daughter, Alma. They are caught and they are following U.S. orders to shelter in place and to ration food and water. Her family in Massachusetts is increasingly worried, of course. They say she's made a make-shift shelter under her coffee table to hide whenever they hear gunfire and explosions. So, Trillian's sister-in-law, Rebecca Winter, joins us now.

Rebecca, good morning.


HARLOW: I'm just feeling for - for her and for your family going through this. You have little ones. So you can understand what it feels like as a mother. Have you been able to keep in touch with her and get updates on how they're doing?

WINTER: For most of the 10 days that Trillian and Alma have been sheltering in place, I have been able to communicate with her over text message. We were able to communicate over Facetime earlier on, but internet has been out in Sudan for a while now. Unfortunately, in the last 18 hours or so, we've completely lost contact with Trillian as the cell networks are now down in Sudan as well.

HARLOW: Wow, 18 hours, you haven't been able -

WINTER: And we are increasingly terrified.

HARLOW: I'm so sorry. I know that being there as a teacher, teaching is her passion. She's taught really all over the world. So she's -- she went there to help others as - as a passion.

WINTER: She absolutely did. She loves teaching. She's a preschool teacher. And she also feels like raising her daughter in an international environment is a wonderful gift for her.

HARLOW: It's such a gift, of course, but I bet she never, never expected to be in this situation.

Can you -- I know they're running low on food, on water. Can you speak to how she is feeding Alma right now?

WINTER: Yes. So, she is extremely concerned that Alma is not going to get the nutrition and hydration that she needs. They were near the end of their nursing journey and she has now reversed weaning Alma so that she can insure she has nutrition. Now, the flip side of that is, to be a nursing mother, you need to be getting more calories yourself. She doesn't have more calories to eat right now. She does not know when her next food and water drop will happen, or if it will happen.

HARLOW: Wow. Wow. You know, some other countries have managed to remove their citizens, as well as diplomats. So, not just diplomats. Italy, for instance, said overnight that all Italians who have asked to leave Sudan have been evacuated. The same with Saudi Arabia. They've been able to evacuate some of their residents of other Gulf countries as well.


Is she hearing anything from the U.S. embassy? Because our reporting now is that they are unable to bring people like Trillian out.

WINTER: Your reporting is accurate, but we're in a very awful holding pattern because Trillian's been told by both the U.S. embassy and the international school that she works for that she has to shelter in place and that she should not accept any offers for private evacuation. So, she is just stuck waiting right now in fear.

HARLOW: So, this is what the White House press secretary, Karine Jean- Pierre, said to a reporter question about this on Friday. Let's listen and I want your thoughts out of it.

Here it is.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When it comes to Sudan, this is a warning - a level four warning that we provided to them many months ago, basically telling Americans who were there to leave if they could and also not to travel -- Americans not to travel to Sudan. So, we've been very clear on that. Again, it's not our standard procedure.


HARLOW: She was essentially asked about evacuating people like Trillian. What went through your mind when you heard that?

WINTER: I'm frustrated because I have been hearing this message in the past two days that American citizens were warned and asked to leave. Trillian says that is not true on her end. She has been registered with the U.S. embassy since she's been in Sudan, and she's been in contact with them the entire time.

When she accepted her next job in Myanmar, and we did some research, Sudan was still under an orange warning by the United States, and that was only back in December or January. So, orange does mean that you should not travel there for pleasure, but U.S. employees there were not asked to leave the country, at least according to Trillian.

HARLOW: That's a - that's a really important distinction.

Rebecca, please -- I hope can you reach her and please come back any time. We'd love an update on her and we're hoping for the best situation possible.

WINTER: Thank you so much for covering this story.

HARLOW: Of course. Thank you very much.


COLLINS: Yes, absolutely, and we'll continue to do so. Wishing the best for them.

Also this morning, back here in the U.S., Bed Bath & Beyond has now filed for bankruptcy. What does it mean for you and those coupons that you've been keeping in that kitchen drawer for so long?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bed Bath & Beyond coupons never expire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have expiration dates on them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, to - to throw idiots off!





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, actually, a pretty nice little Saturday. We're - we're going to go to Home Depot, yes, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed Bath & Beyond. I don't know. I don't know if we'll have enough time.


COLLINS: There may not be any time left at all, sadly, for Bed Bath & Beyond. The company announced on Sunday that it is filing for bankruptcy and it is going to start to close stores. Those iconic 20 percent off coupons are now on the verge of going extinct. For decades, Bed Bath & Beyond was the go-to store for just about everything, from weddings, baby registries, filling your college dorm shopping list. A statement from the company says thank you to all of our loyal customers. We have made the difficult decision to begin winding down our operations.

CNN's business reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn joins us now.

OK, so the company had been struggling for a few years I know financially, but what is it that finally led them to declare bankruptcy yesterday?

NATHANIEL MEYERSOHN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Right, Kaitlan, so this is really the end of an era and there are a few key mistakes that Bed Bath & Beyond made that led it to this point. First of all, it was very slow to adapt to online shopping. Even as more customers were moving online, Bed Bath & Beyond was really focused on just getting people to stores so it missed online shopping.

Of course you face a lot of competition from Amazon. But also big box stores like Walmart and Target, TJ Maxx, Home Goods, more shoppers are going to those chains, not just online. Bed Bath & Beyond didn't keep up.

And then a few years ago it made the decision to get rid of a lot of its big name brands, which were drawing customers into stores. And it switched to private label brands, which customers weren't familiar with. The move completely backfired and Bed Bath & Beyond actually reversed course.

So, you look at its - its sales the last couple of decades, climbing in the '90s, into the 2000s. Then they peaked in about 2014, began to tumble. The pandemic hit Bed Bath & Beyond really hard.


MEYERSOHN: 2020, they had to temporarily close stores. Sales plunged. And they never recovered. So, now, Bed Bath & Beyond is basically a shell of its former self.

Three hundred and sixty stores are left, down from a peak of about 1,000. One hundred and twenty Buy Buy Baby stores. Those stores are all set to close if they can't fire -- find a buyer during bankruptcy. And that will effect about 14,000 employees if all those stores close. So, we could look -- be looking at 14,000 people looking for new jobs.

COLLINS: Yes, that's a really important number there. Obviously, there are people behind all of this.

The question that a lot of people have, I think, is the coupons. I say coupon. You say coupon. We'll talk about that in a moment. But - but what happens to those? Do they - when -- how long are they good for? What has the company said about that?

MEYERSOHN: Yes, so this is the question on all of our minds right now. So you're going to start rummaging through your glove compartments in your cars, your kitchen drawers, your closets, your basement because those coupons will only be -- you can only use them through Tuesday. Once Wednesday comes, they're completely worthless.


Gift cards, you have to use until May - you have until May 8th to use. And then if you need to return something, you have until May 24th. So, you've go to move quickly if you want anything from Bed Bath & Beyond.

COLLINS: Yes, and so all of this is happening. I mean we've seen a lot of bankruptcies. It's not just Bed Bath & Beyond. This is happening to other companies as well as they're seeing how they're coming out of the pandemic, how people shop now, what that looks like.

MEYERSOHN: Right. So this -- bankruptcies really are piling up right now in the retail sector. We think back to the retail apocalypse. We're kind of seeing it this year. Bed Bath & Beyond, not the only retail store to file for bankruptcy. David's Bridal has filed for bankruptcy this year.


MEYERSOHN: Party City, Tuesday Morning, Tupperware is also on bankruptcy watch. Customers are pulling back right now. They've been squeezed by inflation. And that's hurting all of these chains.

COLLINS: Yes, we can see that. But as you noted, 14,000 people, their jobs are on the line here. Thank you so much. We'll see, of course, this coupon coupon debate, I know we've been having over who says what. That doesn't say how you say it.


LEMON: I can - Poppy, they can't see that at home.

COLLINS: Don, help them out.

HARLOW: O. LEMON: Can they?

HARLOW: C-o-u -

LEMON: C-o-u, coupon.

HARLOW: P-o-n.

LEMON: OK, what did you ask me? You said, ask your mom.

COLLINS: I said how does your mom say it?

LEMON: My mom's a southerner and my mom says -- I said do you -- mom, do you say coupon, coopon or cue - coupon, the way Kaitlan says it. She says cue.


LEMON: Southern ladies.

COLLINS: I knew your mom and I would be on the same side of this.

LEMON: Coupon.

HARLOW: I really don't want to disagree with Don's mom.

COLLINS: I know.

HARLOW: So, we're good. Coupon.

COLLINS: We're good.

LEMON: Tomato. Tomato.

HARLOW: Coupon.

LEMON: Coupon. Coupon.

HARLOW: Mom's right.

LEMON: Yes, mom's - OK, good, coupon.

COLLINS: Mom's always right.

HARLOW: All right, guys, thank you for that. Nathaniel, thanks.

Russia's foreign minister is here in New York City. Sergey Lavrov, look at that, what is on that agenda.

LEMON: Plus, a fire on the runway and a fire in the sky. What caused flames to shoot from this flights that had passengers onboard? Wow.

HARLOW: Oh, so scary.

COLLINS: I love that.

HARLOW: Nathaniel, that was great.

COLLINS: Tell you mom I said thanks.



HARLOW: This is significant and pretty rare. Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, is right here in New York preparing to meet with the secretary-general of the United Nations. The face-to-face comes after members of the G-7 expressed concerns over the weekend that Moscow may not hold up its end of the bargain in that critical Black Sea grain deal.

Matthew Chance is with us.

Let's start there, and we've got a lot more to cover with you. And it's so nice to have you here. Usually, you're in Moscow or a war zone.


HARLOW: Somewhere. So, thank you for being here.

So, the G-7 essentially is proposing cutting off all exports to Russia. All of them. And in response over weekend Russia said what?

CHANCE: Yes, that's right. I mean, at the moment, all exports were allowed to Russia except ones that were specifically designated as not allowed. Well, the G-7 are proposing turning that around and banning everything to Russia except for a few things like medicine and things like that.

The Russians are reacting strongly, say if you do that, then we're going to take our own measures as well. And one of the things we're going to do is stop that grain deal, which is basically the only diplomatic agreement that there's been since the Ukraine war began, which allows Ukraine to export its grain to the rest of the world, sort of helping sort of hunger issues across the globe. So, you know, it would be a massive escalation.

LEMON: Sergey Lavrov is here and what - this planned meeting. What is Lavrov looking to accomplish in his face-to-face at the U.N. this week?

CHANCE: Well, he's chairing a bunch of meetings because it's - it's wired because Russia is now the president of the Security Council.

LEMON: It goes alphabetically they go in order, right?

CHANCE: Yes, it's a -- it's a rotating thing. And April is their - is their month. And so they've hosted a whole load of conferences which basically serve to platform the issues that they want to raise. Earlier this month, they talked about the issue of transferring Ukrainian children to Russian territory and they got in -- the person in Russia to speak at that conference. He was the main person involved in that. Well, she's been indicted by the International Criminal Court.

HARLOW: Right.

CHANCE: And accused of war crimes for kind of basically stealing children from Ukraine. They had a conference about arms control. They've accused the U.S. of pouring weapons into Ukraine. Obviously, that's because it's trying to defend - it's helping - the U.S. is helping Ukraine defend itself against the Russian invasion. And now they're talking today, Sergey Lavrov's going to be chairing a meeting about defending the U.N. charter, which was set up to stop countries invading other countries. And so it's like -

HARLOW: Irony there.

CHANCE: The irony there. They're basically trolling.


CHANCE: I mean that's the allegation, they're trolling the rest of the world by using this U.N. presidency as a - as a platform.

COLLINS: Yes, but can we talk about just the absurdity of that because the last time that they were in this position was in February of 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine. Now they're doing this. They're having these meetings.

You know, how do you see other nations respond? Because I know we've seen, you know, some eye rolls, some protests leaving certain meetings. A how do other nations respond as Russia is doing this, and Lavrov?

CHANCE: Well, they say -- because the western states, obviously, are, as you say, rolling their eyes. You know, basically walking out of some of these meetings at key moments, sending low level representatives and things like that. But, unfortunately, there are lots of other countries around the world, like China for instance, and India, and, you know, Brazil, who are much - and many African countries as well, who are - who are much more sympathetic to the Russian point of view. Perhaps they don't want to get involved directly or - or they see some value geopolitically in supporting Russia in - in these - in these acts that he's carrying out.

HARLOW: You brought up China. What about the fact that China's ambassador to France said essentially this morning that former Soviet states don't exist?

CHANCE: I mean that's -- that's crazy. I mean that - I mean that goes - it's -- I read that this morning this well. That's going further than even the Russians are going.

The Chinese are very close to the Russians. They've been providing diplomatic and political support to Moscow for a long time, but especially since the beginning of this war. There's an economic relationship between them. I mean China's one of the world's biggest energy consumers. Russia is one of the biggest energy producers. It stopped short of providing Russia with weapons. Hasn't crossed that

red line yet. But it may well in the future. But, you know, with this kind of political rhetoric, saying, oh, look, countries like Latvia and Estonia and Lithuania and Kazakhstan and Ukraine are not really legitimate countries, it adds legitimacy to this idea that Russia can invade them at will and not violate sovereign territory.