Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

3 Dead, Nearly 300 Hurt in Nairobi Gas Explosion; Ukrainian Army Chief Adapts Battle Plans as Aid Stalls; Haley Attacks Trump's Morals, Age & Wealth Ahead of SC. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired February 02, 2024 - 06:30   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Or to put it in Capitol Hill terms, after months of kicking the can down the road, there's a stalemate as lawmakers strained to block poison pills that would undercut any agreement. At the same time they stressed, nothing's agreed to until everything's agreed to, which is a problem since Trump and Republicans have descended into a circular firing squad that has everything in flux at a moment when there are no holiday deadlines looming and no jet fumes in the air to spark an actual outcome. Or to put a fighter point on it, this is a huge problem because what hangs in the balance is of enormous consequence.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: And just to add one more point to that.


HILL: The other consequence too, right, is for the American people and for this country, and that lawmakers aren't doing their jobs.


HILL: Yeah. Phil, appreciated it as always.

Coming up, a CNN exclusive. How Ukraine's Army Chief says his troops are adjusting to less aid from the United States and other key Western allies.

Plus, stunning video this morning out of Nairobi, which shows a huge fireball lighting up the sky there in Kenya. A gas truck exploding. Nearly 300 people injured. These new details just coming in to CNN.


HILL: Developing out of Nairobi, Kenya this morning, a massive gas explosion, which has killed at least three people and injured as many as 280 others.

You just see that massive cloud of fire, essentially. This video capturing the moment that the fireball took over the night sky.


Officials say a truck carrying gas exploded at a cooking gas plant. This happened around 11 p.m. local time. Officials say the fire burned down a warehouse, then burned through residential homes where people were still inside.

Crews working into the morning to put that fire out. There's still no word this morning on what exactly caused the truck to explode. You can see the aftermath here, though, just the charred remnants.

After that, this morning, the Kenyan Red Cross has nearly 300 people were evacuated to hospitals around Nairobi.

MATTINGLY: Well, turning now to a brand-new CNN exclusive, Ukraine's Army Chief says his country is being forced to adapt to the reduction in support from key allies, including the United States. He writes, in part, we must contend with a reduction in military support from key allies, grappling with their own political tensions. Russia, taking note of how developments in the Middle East have distracted international attention, might seek to provoke further conflicts elsewhere.

Let's go straight to CNN's Fred Pleitgen. He's live for us in Kyiv. Fred, this is fascinating because the biggest question on the U.S. side is what's going to happen if aid stops. He starts to dig into that a little bit. What would you take away from it?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he certainly does. And I think what he's recognizing is the big reality that I think everybody who's been here really sees. And that is that the Ukrainians are both outmanned and outgunned. And they probably are going to remain outgunned in the future as well.

And that's something where Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the top general here in Ukraine really says, look, that's the reality that we have to cope with. And he says that the only way to get out of that is by using modern technology. And he refers to unmanned systems, sea drones, land drones, air drones. He said that could be the big equalizer on the battlefield.

I want to read you another quote from this, really fascinating essay that I really urge everyone who's watching right now to go to our website and read. He says, quote, our goal must be to seize the moment -- to maximize our accumulation of the latest combat capabilities, which will allow us to commit fewer resources to inflicting maximum damage on the enemy, to end the aggression and protect Ukraine from the future.

So essentially what he's saying is that he believes that these unmanned systems are going to allow the Ukrainians to lose fewer of their troops on the battlefield while inflicting harm on the Russians. Because the big question is, are the Ukrainians going to have the volume in unmanned systems to be able to do that, guys?

HILL: Yeah, absolutely. Zaluzhnyi also touching on the challenger of mass mobilization, which has been really a source of tension between him and President Zelenskyy.

PLEITGEN: Yeah. It has been, and you know, one of the things -- I've just come back from a tour from a lot of the battle fronts here in this country. And one of the things that every single commander that we met on the ground told us is they have a shortage in artillery shells, but they also have a big shortage in manpower. And it's two things. They don't have enough soldiers on the front line. And the soldiers that they do have on the front line have been there for a very, very long time. And a lot of them are tired and need to be rotated out.

And that's where Valerii Zaluzhnyi says, he needs about 400,000 people to be mobilized. And Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of this country, didn't take to that well at all. He said, look, how are we going to do this? Who's going to pay for this?

The mobilization system here in this country, still somewhat of an old system that a lot of people here say really prevents them from wanting to mobilize and go to the front lines, guys.

MATTINGLY: The tension you and Erica are talking about Fred. Look, there's an elephant in the room here. We are waiting to hear about what Zaluzhnyi's future will actually be. What do you know?

PLEITGEN: Yeah, I mean, this is one of the things that that really is, is like a cloud right now here over political key of run Monday, it became clear we have this from several sources that apparently there was a meeting between Zelenskyy and the Valerii Zaluzhnyi where Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the President of this country told Valerii Zaluzhnyi that he was going to get fired. And he apparently offered him of some other post possibly an ambassadorship, that's not really clear. But Zaluzhnyi declined that and yet Zelenskyy said, look, you are out, you are going to be fired.

Well, since then, this entire country has been waiting to see a presidential decree that would actually say that he has been fired and also who the possible successor could be.

Now, one of the things we have to point out is that the top General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, he is extremely popular among the military and among the population of this country. So whoever comes next is going to have a tall task and certainly folks here definitely keen to see who that is going to be, when that is going to happen of course if that is going to happen, guys.

MATTINGLY: This is so fascinating. I mean, an accelerant to the tension was his candid assessment of things in a media interview. Now writing an essay, definitely go read that essay as second Fred's opinion on that. Fred Pleitgen in Kyiv. Thank you.

Well, up next, Nikki Haley escalating her attacks on Donald Trump, insisting he's too old and too confused to be president. She even claims, isn't there enough cash to compete?

HILL: Plus, in just hours at Dover Air Force Base, the dignified transfer of three fallen U.S. soldiers, Sgt. William Rivers, Specialist Kennedy Sanders, and Specialist Breonna Moffett were killed Sunday in a drone strike at their base in Jordan.

President Biden and the First Lady will meet with their families and attend that solemn ceremony.


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will also be there. This will be the first time that Biden and Austin are seen together publicly since Austin's hospitalization for prostate cancer. We'll be right back.


HILL: Happening today, Nikki Haley continues a multi-day swing through her home state of South Carolina.

MATTINGLY: Former South Carolina government will host a rally in Lancaster tonight in just about three weeks until the South Carolina Republican primary. She talked to CNN yesterday as she sharpens her attacks against Donald Trump and President Biden.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The reality is 70 percent of Americans don't want to see a Biden-Trump rematch. I mean, that's just a fact. The fact that we would have two 80-year-old candidates running for president is absurd. We've got a country in disarray and a world on fire. We need someone who can work eight years to get our country back on track.


Two guys in their 80s, they are automatically going to be in mental decline. That's just a fact. Get ready to spend more campaign dollars on legal fees because those court cases have just started. He's got two in March and they go out for the rest of the year.

It is unconscionable to me that a candidate would spend 50 million dollars in legal fees. It explains why he's not doing many rallies. He doesn't have the money to do it.


MATTINGLY: Errol Louis and Doug Heye are back with us now.

Doug, the message is undeniably sharper. She seems much looser and more comfortable. I mean, she's always been a good candidate, but more comfortable in what she's doing right now. She still has a ton of ground to make up. When you talk to Republicans, do they see something here? Is something happening here?

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: She has a ton of ground to make up in her home state. I think that's part of the big challenge for her, is what those numbers are ultimately going to be. She's probably not going to win that state.

What I hear so often from Republicans who either work at the RNC, which still is a neutral place. There was some questions about that, in theory, at least. The neutrality rule 11 is a big deal. We won't nerd out on that. They see a message that works. And their concern is, if Donald Trump is the nominee, most likely to be, that messaging works regardless, because we focus so much on Donald Trump's -- or on Joe Biden's age, for obvious reasons. Donald Trump's not that far behind. And both of them are at an age where you age a lot faster, in roles where you also age a lot faster. And so they're concerned about this.

Yeah, Trump's up in this poll. Biden might be up in this state in that poll. They see a neck and neck race where either candidate could lose to either candidate.

HILL: I want to get your take on some of what we heard from Roberta Kaplan, E. Jean Carroll's attorney. So she sat down with George Conway for his podcast yesterday. And I just want to play some of this so that you hear it first. Then we'll discuss. She's talking about some of her interactions with the former president.


ROBERTA KAPLAN, E. JEAN CARROLL'S ATTORNEY: He looks at me from across the table and he says, see you next Tuesday. You could tell it was like, it was like a kind of a joke again, like teenage boys would come up with. And my colleagues are like, Robbie, do you know what that means? And I'm like, no, what are you talking about?

They tell me and I'm like, oh my God, thank God I didn't know. Because had I known, I for sure would have gotten angry. But we have a court reporter, we have videographer, they're entitled to a lunch break. You're here in Mar-a-Lago. What do you think you're going to do for lunch? Where are you going to get lunch?

And so I said to him, well, you know, I raised this question with your attorneys yesterday, sir, and they graciously offered to provide us with lunch. At which point there was a huge pile of documents, exhibits sitting in front of him, and he took the pile and he just threw it across the table.


HILL: I mean, I see sort of smiling, laughing. I don't know that any of that is all that surprising.


HILL: Right? It is fascinating to see sort of like, pull the curtain back and see what happens in the deposition versus what you see in non-deposition times. Not a lot of daylight. So there you go.

LOUIS: Look --

HILL: You know what you're getting.

LOUIS: Robbie Kaplan seems to have hacked Donald Trump. She's gotten under his skin. She proved it in court over and over again. This is, I think, sort of more evidence that she figured out how to be exactly the kind of woman that drives Donald Trump crazy. We saw some of this with Hillary Clinton back in 2016. Gets under his

skin, you know, and she knows how to sort of twist the knife a little bit, and he completely loses control.

Now, what does that mean politically speaking? It doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know. He doesn't like powerful women. He doesn't like to be challenged. He doesn't like really to have to sort of abide by the rules that the legal profession and other kind of esteemed institutions have normally operated by.

And so he throws a tantrum. That's what he does. He's throwing a large tantrum in public from the podium. That's essentially the core of his campaign.

MATTINGLY: Doug, Erica and I subscribe to a purity in language. I mean, we don't swear.

HILL: Never. I certainly never.

MATTINGLY: We never fated it.

HILL: Never.

MATTINGLY: It's deeply offensive to me. Which is why this moment, and the pause right before it stood out to me from the President. Watch.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He laughed about it. What a sick --


BIDEN: My god.


MATTINGLY: It was funny and everybody laughed. West Wing Playbook over "Politico" made the point, did some reporting, made the point that he finishes that sentence behind closed doors, which if you've covered the President and you talk to his team, you know he swears, just like Donald Trump swears, just like you don't swear.

HILL: Never.

MATTINGLY: And so that's not surprising. But I think what's interesting is that's one of those moments where he connects with people by being a normal human being, kind of off script Joe Biden that we knew when he was in the Senate or when he's vice president. Does he need to do more of that?


HEYE: Overwhelmingly, the political bosses I've had did not swear made, life a little bit easier. But I think it also shows, yes, that -- that language works now. And it works because of Donald Trump. You know the first time Donald Trump said a bad word everybody was aghast.


And what we saw was very quickly the Head of the DNC, Senator Gillibrand. They started dropping F-bombs as well. Was it presidential or senatorial? No, but it works.

LOUIS: And some of that is generational. Young people just -- they use language just very, very differently without any sense of decorum. They don't think they're doing anything wrong. It's not to be transgressive. It's not to make a point. It's simply how they talk. Language evolves and the rest of us are going to have to catch up.

MATTINGLY: I do want to point one thing out, though. Like what it is probably more than the language or joking about whatever it is or isn't. Joe Biden loathes Donald Trump. It is personal. It is not because he doesn't like the man, it is because of what he represents. Like that is a viscerally held view and it comes out behind closed doors and I think you'll probably see more of it. But that more than anything else. Everybody laughed and it was off the cuff. But that was real.

HEYE: It also shows a vigor that we often say that Joe Biden doesn't have in his advanced years. It's a good one.

HILL: So does he need to bring more of that? I know we're out of time. But does he need to bring more of that? Not just the language, not just being a little bit more familiar, but being perhaps a little bit more transparent about how he --

HEYE: Transparent and animated.

HILL: Yeah.

LOUIS: I mean, it's sort of a casual, informal way of trying to disqualify Trump, say that this man is just unfit for office.

HILL: Thanks guys. Appreciate it.

LOUIS: Thank you.

HEYE: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: We are about to witness the release of Apple's new Vision Pro headset, your site.

HILL: Super site.

MATTINGLY: Stay with us because we're going to test it out right here on CNN THIS MORNING. Next.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, now I can definitely tell that you are not able to see me.

STEIN: You appear when I look at you. You begin to sort of like ghost in a little bit.


STEIN: Yeah, you're ghosting me. Hello. It's just me and your virtual land, paying you a visit.


MATTINGLY: That is our next guest, having some fun testing Apple's new Vision Pro headset. Apple's first mixed reality headset blends digital content into the literal space around us. And today, you can get it yourself for $3,500.

Joining us now is CNET Editor at Large Scott Stein, who's test driving this gadget literally right now. You can see it. His avatar is going to join us. Scott, can I start with the least which I have, who is this gear tour? Before we get into what it actually does, who is this gear tour? Who's buying this?

STEIN: It's a great question. I mean, Apple's writing a line between professionals and the general consumer market. And I think if you're a professional, you know, if you're looking at something that needs a super high-res display, or you're someone who knows about creating NVR or 3D models, maybe training, that area. But then if you're -- they're pitching as a super cinema headset to the average person.

Now, for $3,500, that's a lot of money. But, you know, the experience in it is phenomenal. It's just that, that is an ultra-luxury price territory.

HILL: It is, and there's some question about, you know, there aren't as many apps right now. We're also -- we should point out that's your avatar on the other side.

MATTINGLY: Those who were wondering why there's now two screens and two Scotts. That's what happened.

HILL: I'm fascinated by this because I know it's a little bit heavy. It has this giant battery. And I'm picturing myself, as you point out, if you're watching a movie or maybe if you're watching sports. Am I just sit there on my couch with this? I mean, you can't get up and walk around with it, or can you?

STEIN: You can. So the only thing is that there's a battery pack. So you have to carry that in your pocket or something or put it in a holder. But you can actually walk around with this. And the pass- through cameras are good enough that you can basically do a lot of things. I would not recommend cooking or doing anything mission critical. But,

you know, you could definitely check the time. You could check messages even. It looks like you're looking at life through a camera feed. But, you know, that means you could also multitask. You could run things on multiple monitors in this and check things in the outside world, which is the feeling of some sort of science fiction, you know, world that I would be living in.

MATTINGLY: Can you spin on that a little bit? Erica is tech savvy and has covered this stuff in the past, I am not.

HILL: Decades ago, before this existed.

MATTINGLY: I try to be. If you're purchasing this, what you're looking at right now, what you're seeing right now, what you're participating in right now, explain it to a normal person.

STEIN: Absolutely. So what I've set up is that I'm talking on my laptop at home, which I can see through the-- through the -- through one connection. But I'm also connected via video chat on Vision Pro. So I see the two floating together. It's like I'm sitting in the office. I can see everything in the office, but I'm also seeing a floating monitor that's doing that connection. And then what you're seeing is my persona. That's a scanned virtual identity, kind of like an avatar that Apple uses for -- for voice connections.

And it automatically works with things like WebEx, Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, which it's -- it is a computer. I mean, they're talking about as a spatial computer. It's much more hooked in to everything that you might be doing with iOS Than any sort of VR headset before.

HILL: So it's a computer on your face that looks like giant ski goggles. In reality, you know, this is sort of, you were saying, when Phil asked, which is my main question to, who is this for, right? Early adopters, people with some money to throw around. What does this become though, right? So if this is the first thing that we're going to see, ultimately, for on a more accessible front, what could that look like for the average consumer?

STEIN: Yeah, so there's been talk for years, and I've covered this landscape looking at this mission to get to AR glasses, you know, like those Tony Stark glasses, something futuristic that we've seen in so many films that shows you heads up displays, and you can, you know, see holograms in the real world and model them and all that.

But I think that also means melting the idea of what's a computer into something that becomes virtual that you can interact with -- with your hands. And a lot of people talk about this literally being a vision for what's there.

And I think that's what it is -- best possible model to get that experience, obviously in a VR like design with a battery pack. But what it's doing, blending realities, is pretty amazing because there's been nothing at this size that has done that. There's been nothing that's done that with hand tracking in the air like that altogether. And I've looked at almost everything. [07:00:00]