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Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is Interviewed about Gun Legislation; French Unions Make Effort to Stop Pension Overhaul; Oklahoma Approves Charter School; FBI Agent Turned Moscow Spy Dies in Prison; Valuation of Pro Sports Teams Rise. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 06, 2023 - 08:30   ET



SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): That Ukraine is going to be in a position to take back some significant territory. And that would be, at the very least, a devastating public relations blow for Russia. It would really compromise Putin's political position inside the Kremlin. You're seeing him getting, I think, more significant resistance from both left and right. And it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that Putin might be panicking at this moment knowing that he is maybe on the cusp of losing some significant amount of territory.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk about guns because this has been really your mission.


HARLOW: It is going to be a year on June 25th since you guys got through and President Biden signed that bipartisan gun safety bill. And I remember on that day, when the president signed it, he said God willing it's going to save a lot of lives. Since then about 18,000 Americans have been shot and killed.

You are about to hold something called the Safer Community Summit this month. As we're seeing a sit-in, by the way, in the capital in Colorado of women, specifically asking for Jared Polis, the governor there, to ban guns, knowing the unconstitutionality of that, but that is what they're saying is the crisis and we need to address it. How are you addressing it with this summit?

MURPHY: So, people are at wit's end. I think people are proud that we finally passed legislation that the NRA opposed last year that does makes the country safer. But it's just not enough. And so you are going to continue to see this movement grow all over the country, demand that states and the federal government do more, universal background checks, take these assault weapons off the street.

The National Safer Communities Summit, happening in Hartford on June 16th, is an opportunity for us to assess how well are we doing at implementing the law last year. And that law takes guns away from domestic abusers, it makes it harder for young buyers to get assault weapons, it locks up more gun traffickers. It is undeniably saving lives. But it's not a terribly persuasive argument to people when they still see too many people dying, their kids are still going through active shooter drills.


MURPHY: So, this summit is also an opportunity to plan for the future, to have all of the anti-gun violence groups, leaders, representatives from the Biden administration, all in one place to say, what's the next step, because I believe that we have now broken the back of the gun lobby. The movement is getting stronger. We have more Republicans that are willing to support anti-gun violence measures. I think the next five years are going to be a moment of pretty consistent victory for this movement. And so this is an opportunity to help plan for that success.

HARLOW: And you have Republicans involved?

MURPHY: This summit will be, I think, mostly members of the advocacy community.


MURPHY: And so we're planning for how we're going to continue to bring Republicans to the table.

HARLOW: You're going to need to get them there at the table to pass (INAUDIBLE).

MURPHY: And, listen, I think what we were trying to do last year was prove to Republicans that they can vote for these measures and not pay an enormous political price. I think we've proved that to our Republican partners from last summer.

HARLOW: We appreciate your time. So nice to have you at the table. Thank you, Senator Murphy.

MURPHY: Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

MATTINGLY: Thank you, Senator.

All right, and this just in to CNN, protesters storming the Olympic headquarters in Paris as demonstrators rally against President Macron's law to raise the retirement age. We'll go there live.

HARLOW: Plus, a former FBI agent turned notorious Russian spy has died in prison. His story ahead.



MATTINGLY: This morning, demonstrators have stormed the headquarters of the Paris 2024 games as France's trade unions launched a 14th day of nationwide protests against the unpopular pension reform law. It's a last-ditch effort to rally support ahead of a national assembly debate that's set for Thursday. French President Emanuel Macron raised the retirement age from 62 to 64 and triggered intense anger across the country. CNN's Melissa Bell is live for us in Paris.

And what are you seeing? What's the latest there on the ground?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you mentioned a moment ago, Phil, what happened at that site at the northwest of Paris that's been set for the 2024 Olympics. It was very dramatic scenes. We've seen it time and time and again. Before these protests, ahead of the main protests, they get into these building, symbolic ones. They've taken on the stock exchange, the headquarters of LVMH.

This, though, Phil, is the main protest today. So, the police pretty heavy visible presence here at the front of the march. And just behind them, the demonstrators preparing to carry on walking.

There's been a little bit of tear gas already. Not very much. But certainly the authorities are expecting a lower turnout today than what we've seen these last few weeks.

The idea of the unions is, of course, to gather support ahead of that vote on Thursday, yet the government have already found a mechanism that will allow them to get around it, which has rather taken the wind out of the sails of the movement, as has, Phil, the announcement by the biggest union that this will be the last of the main protests against this particular reform ahead of the summer.


MATTINGLY: Melissa Bell, on the ground for us, thanks so much.

HARLOW: It's remarkable to see.

OK, Oklahoma approving, this is so interesting, the first religious charter school in the nation, setting up a legal battle, not only between church and state, but between the Republican governor and the Republican attorney general in that state. Those details ahead.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

So, this morning, an Oklahoma school board has approved the first publicly funded religious charter school in the nation. A charter school is funded by taxpayers, but it's independently managed. This online catholic charter school is expected to require more than $23 million in state funding in its first five years. The state's attorney general calls this unconstitutional but it has the support of the Republican governor.

Ed Lavender is live in Dallas with more.

Ed, this is so interesting, especially given the direction the Supreme Court has gone on all of this. What can tell us? ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know,

everyone watching this closely fully expects this to ultimately end before the U.S. Supreme Court. But on Monday a little-known government agency known as the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, yes that is a thing, voted 3-2 to approve the application for the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Catholic Charter School, which will be run by the archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The application was approved by a vote of 3-2 after a three-hour debate yesterday. Clearly, a lot of intense opinions about all of this.

The governor of Oklahoma described this vote as a win for religious liberty and education freedom. It also has the support of the superintendent of education there in the state who described it as a monumental decision. But it has come under scathing scrutiny from the Oklahoma attorney general, also a Republican, who said in a statement, quote, approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in best interest of taxpayers. It's extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with tax dollars. And he goes on to say that this has exposed the state to hefty legal fees here in the future.

So, a great deal of controversy swirling around the future of this school and what it means for public education in the state of Oklahoma and across the country.


MATTINGLY: You know, Ed, you mentioned the inevitability of a legal challenge. Do we have a timeline, do we have an understanding of when this is going to start moving in the courts? Because, to your point, this is going to end up in one place and one place only, it seems like, the Supreme Court.


LAVANDERA: Right. I think everyone agrees that ultimately the fate of this school will be determined in court system. Right now the school has been permitted to open in fall of 2024 with about an initial enrollment of 500 students. But exactly how long it takes for this to move through the court system isn't clear, but it sounds like those who are opposing the application of this charter school will be moving rather quickly in -- on the - on the legal front here.


HARLOW: Ed, thank you. It's fascinating. We'll track it.

MATTINGLY: Well, also this morning, a former FBI agent who became one of the most notorious Russian spies in U.S. history has died behind bars. The Federal Bureau of Prisons says workers found Robert Hanssen unresponsive at a super max prison in Colorado. Emergency workers later pronounced him dead. Hanssen was 79 years old.

Now, Hanssen joined the FBI in 1976. And just three years later started spying for the Soviets. Using the alias Ramon Garcia, Hanssen accepted more than $1.4 million in cash, bank funds and diamonds from the Soviet Union in Russia. In exchange he handed over highly classified information, including how the U.S. planned to react to a potential Soviet nuclear attack should that ever materialize.

Now, investigators say he compromised numerous Soviet sources who were providing information to the U.S., some of whom were later executed.

HARLOW: So the FBI says that Hanssen went undetected for years because of his training, right? They finally did arrest him just before he planned to retire. This was 2001. They caught him making a dead drop - you're seeing this actual video, by the way, February 2001, making a dead drop of some classified documents in a park in Virginia. After he dropped those documents, agents surrounded him and arrested him. He pled guilty to 15 counts of espionage and conspiracy. In exchange prosecutors did not seek the death penalty and a judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Let's bring in our chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller.

John, good morning. A reminder for people there who don't remember the specifics, I was one among them, of this case, but it was huge. And just talk about the significance of this.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, I mean, if you go through the pantheon of leakers and traders, Robert Hanssen is set apart from the rest.


MILLER: And it's not just that he leaked documents, which puts him in the Edward Snowden class, or others. It's that he leaked names.

HARLOW: Right.

MILLER: And these were names of active Soviet agents who were working for the United States inside the KGB. These were people like Martinov (ph) and Motorin, who were executed. There was a Soviet general who was imprisoned. There were others who were questioned and tortured and disappeared. The damage to the United States intelligence collection efforts and then the human toll was unparalleled.

MATTINGLY: Why did it take him so long -- unlike Poppy I was -- I - like, I've been so fascinated by this.

HARLOW: Phil (INAUDIBLE) for this story.

MATTINGLY: The books, the movies, everything like that.

MILLER: Also, this is in your backyard.

MATTINGLY: It's also very close to where I live. I try and find bags of cash, as we were talking about, at old dead drop zones fairly regularly. Why did it take so long to find him and what broke it - broke the case?

MILLER: You know Hanssen was interesting because if you look at the who he was, he was a devout catholic, six children, career FBI guy, showed up to work every day in a black suit with a dark tie, and was a career Russian counterintelligence guy. He was not the what you were looking for, son of a Chicago cop, law enforcement family.

But when you looked, you know, behind those layers, he was a guy with a big ego, personality issues, unappreciated, felt under financial stress all the time, trying to keep up with the costs of the house and the six kids, and he was a guy who just decided, I'm smarter than everybody around me, even if they don't think so, and I can play the FBI man by day and in my alter ego life I can be the master spy working for the Russians and I can conduct this orchestra. And he was right. He did it for years.

MATTINGLY: Yes, for a long period of time. They've got it on video still.

HARLOW: Yes, amazing.

MATTINGLY: It's amazing stuff.

John Miller, thanks so much.

HARLOW: Thank you, John.

So, this just in to CNN, a new court sketch showing Prince Harry in a London courtroom. He is, of course, suing a major U.S. tabloid claiming that multiple tabloids used illegal methods, including phone hacking, to get access to stories about him. We'll tell you what he told the court.

MATTINGLY: And a new report that Nike co-founder Phil Knight is fighting to buy the NBA's Portland Trailblazers to the tune of $2.2 billion. Our own Prince Harry Enten is here with this morning's number.

HARLOW: Good one.



MATTINGLY: Nike co-founder Phil Knight has been trying to buy NBA's Portland Trailblazers for more than a year now, but "The Wall Street Journal" reports he's been boxed out despite offering more than $2 billion for his hometown team.

CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten, the shoe dog himself junior --

HARLOW: That's like one of my favorite books, by the way.

MATTINGLY: It's a great book.

HARLOW: It's an amazing book.

MATTINGLY: All right, Harry, what's going on with the morning number today? HARLOW: Hi.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: All right, so this morning's number is 2.3 billion, billion with a b, dollars. That's how much the Portland Trailblazers are valued at. That is up over 3,000 percent from the $70 million Paul Allen paid for them back in 1988.

And I became very interested in how much major league teams' valuations have gone up over the last say 30 years. Look at this, the NFL franchises, they're up nearly 3,000 percent. NBA franchises up over 2,000 percent. MLB franchises up about 2,000 percent. Now all worth between $2.3 billion and $4.5 billion on average.

And why are these teams so valuable? Well, they're limited teams. So, owning can be a wealth symbol. And, of course, sports team are some of the rare events millions of people watch in this era.

MATTINGLY: I'm just -- I'm happy that rich people are getting richer and what -- like very rich people are getting way richer.

One of those people, you mentioned him, Paul Allen. Sports isn't just his only investment that's paid off since 1988, is it?


ENTEN: No, look at the Microsoft stock. It's up, get this, about 130,000 percent. And that is part of the largest stock boom with the Nasdaq 100 up about 8,000 percent since 1988, well beating the S&P 500 baseline.

HARLOW: 1988. Oh, we love you, Harry. Thank you very much.

ENTEN: Old soul.

HARLOW: Good soul.

MATTINGLY: Your stock is always up, Harry.

ENTEN: Oh, thanks, buddy.

HARLOW: This is for you to read because -

MATTINGLY: Oh, I got it. I'm on it.


ENTEN: All right.

HARLOW: It's about sports.

MATTINGLY: Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, they visited the White House. See what happened when Travis Kelce tried to take the mic.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: For your morning moment. And this is a fun one. President Biden welcoming Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, to the White House on Monday. After the team gifted Biden a personalized number 46 jersey, the Chief's tight end, Travis Kelce, decided to seize the moment and try to steal the mic. That is when the quarterback Patrick Mahomes stepped in.



TRAVIS KELCE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TIGHT END: So, I've been waiting for this --



MATTINGLY: Now, despite the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl three times, this visit marked the first time that the franchise met with the sitting president and toured the White House. The team's first visit was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Just a great team.

HARLOW: Apparently this happens all the time.

MATTINGLY: Yes, with the jersey and everything.

HARLOW: So glad I have a chief White House correspondent next to me.

MATTINGLY: That's what - I bring something to the table.

HARLOW: We will see you here tomorrow.

Thank you so much for joining us.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts now.