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Trump Slams Senate Bill; Look Inside Ukrainian Drone Unit; Trump Challenges Biden; Vegas Puts on Show for Super Bowl. Aired 6:30- 7a ET

Aired February 06, 2024 - 06:30   ET



SALEHA MOHSIN, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "BLOOMBERG": Used to be thinking that if I stay at home, I've wasted my vote, you've wasted your vote. I used to say this to teenagers as they're signing up to vote and talking to young students, you have to vote or else you failed to voice your feelings.

This is an election where if you don't vote, you are voicing your feeling. You're saying that I am tired of everything that you have offered me. I am being loud by staying silent.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: It's an important point. And the thing about Trump - and part of that interview was, he made very clear that if you vote for this bill it's going to kill your career. I'll go after you. Like, his ability to use fear and retribution to keep people in line, I've seen people threaten it before. I've never seen the grip like him in terms of where the Republican Party is right now.

But, Errol, he said that he - he kind of went after James Lankford, the key Republican on this bill, and said he'd never endorsed him. He had. He literally endorsed him. And just, out of the blue, like, I never endorsed that guy and definitely will end his career. And - do you have -

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Do you want to read it?

MATTINGLY: Yes. It says -

HARLOW: Dramatic reading.

MATTINGLY: Oh, yes, this dramatic reading. "It is my great honor to give James Lankford my complete and total endorsement." That was September 27, 2022.


MATTINGLY: Complete and total. It wasn't just an endorsement. It was complete and total. And that's a - those are key modifiers there.

I think my question is, he just like lies for no particular reason and I don't understand how he --

LOUIS: I mean, listen, he is in a position where -- very much as Lee was - was illuding to, people will follow him wherever he goes.


LOUIS: His base - you know, look, the day he was sworn in, he had 45 percent approval in this country. I went and looked yesterday. He has 43 percent approval. It's a flat line. He hasn't added a lot. He hasn't lost too much. He's got a base of support and they don't support him because he tells the truth all the time. They - you know, it's really almost the opposite. They'll believe whatever he says because they support him. And so, you know, in this case, he's threatening, with some effect, members of Congress to sort of do his bidding. It will work out for him politically perhaps. Will it work out for them in the long run? Absolutely not.

HARLOW: Thank you, guys. That is an amazing stat. Two percent change over all that time. Thank you very much.

MATTINGLY: Well, up next, CNN's Fred Pleitgen met with an undercover Ukrainian drone unit responsible for sinking Russian ships.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Asymmetrical warfare they call it and the Ukrainians outmanned and outgunned say they need to do a lot more of it.




MATTINGLY: Welcome back.

Sea drones have been a significant asset for the Ukrainian military in its bloody war with Russia. The drones are small but are having a major impact sinking ships in Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen had a chance to meet with the drone unit. He joins us live now from Ukraine.

Fred, a lot of people might not know how this has actually all worked and how important it's been. How much of a game changer are these sea drones?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think for the Ukrainians it could be a real game changer. I just got some numbers actually from the Ukrainian military earlier today. And they say that they believe that they have taken about -- taken out about 33 percent of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, either damaged or destroyed vessels. Obviously not only using the sea drones, but the sea drones are a very important part of that.

Now, we met a really secretive unit of Ukraine's defense intelligence directorate, and they had actually just taken out a Russian warship, so a couple days ago, and they showed us exactly how they did it. Here's what we learned.


PLEITGEN (voice over): It was one of the most brazen and most successful operations by Ukraine's military intelligence service. Sea drones attacking and the Ukrainians say sinking a Russian warship inside occupied Crimea. And he was one of those involved. His call sign is 13 from the elite sea drone unit named Group 13. So secretive we had to hide his face and change his voice.

We used ten drones in the operation, he says. Six of them hit the corvette Ivanovets. CNN cannot independently verify that the Ivanovets was sunk, but video provided by the intelligence agency seems to show the many sea drones evading machine gun fire from the warship and then massive explosions.

Their weapons are not designed to deal with such small sea drones, 13 says. In most cases, they use anti-ship guns.

Ukraine barely has a functioning navy, but the MAGURA drones pack a massive punch, around 500 pounds of explosives.

PLEITGEN: These sea drones might not look like much and they might not go very fast, but the Ukrainians say they have been extremely effective at attacking Russia's Black Sea Fleet and even sinking warships.

PLEITGEN (voice over): The main thing is to feel the drone, 13 says. Not everyone can hold a firm grip. If you squeeze a little, you can lose control of the drone. I would say it's like working with jewelry.

Asymmetrical warfare they call it, and the Ukrainians, outmanned and outgunned, say they need to do a lot more of it.

After visiting the southern front this weekend, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy telling Italian media he not only plans to fire his top general, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, there could be a larger government shakeup.

A frontrunner to become the new commander in chief, the defense intel boss known for brazen attacks against Russian military and infrastructure targets.

The Russians are wake up at night to explosions, he says. Explosions in the air, explosions directly at the facilities. They see the real picture of war. They see burning oil depots, destroyed buildings and factories and so on. This is all beneficial.

And the Ukrainians vow to continue hunting Russian military vessels in this battle of David versus Goliath on the high seas.


PLEITGEN: And that's really the way that the Ukrainian military says that they are going to go now, try to make more of those sea drones, drones in general, try to make a larger quantity of them, but also to make them more lethal. They say that's all the more important because for them it's unclear if and when they're going to get U.S. military aid, for instance, in the future, guys.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's an important cost benefit calculation for sure.

Fred Pleitgen, thank you.

Well, Donald Trump says he wants to debate Joe Biden. What does the president have to say about it? That's next.

HARLOW: And the head of the Federal Aviation Administration will testify today. This is a month after a Boeing aircraft just lost a door plug in the middle of the flight.


Much more on how the agency plans to inspect our planes, ahead.



DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'd like to call for immediately debates. I'd like to debate him now because we should debate. We should debate for the good of the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump says he's ready to debate you right now. Do you accept?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just said that on radio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants to debate you immediately he says.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you debate him?

Biden: If I - if I were him, I'd want to debate me too. He's got nothing else to do.


HARLOW: President Biden responding to reporters there in Las Vegas, learning in real time, you've done that before, yelled questions to presidents, who are wondering what. That was Biden's response, sort of making jest of all of this if they would actually debate now.

MATTINGLY: Yes. A piece of advice, be a pool reporter when he's stopping for food, ice cream or I think that was bubble tea.

HARLOW: A milkshake.

MATTINGLY: He's more willing - Boba Tea. He's willing - that's kind of one of these fancy things. He talks.


MATTINGLY: He tends to answer questions when he's in front of reporters.

Trump's challenge, of course, comes despite the fact he dodged every single Republican presidential debate over the past year. In fact, he could debate Nikki Haley right now if he's so determined to debate.

HARLOW: Wanted to.

MATTINGLY: And the RNC's already withdrawn the Commission on Presidential Debates. That move widely seen as a way to get Trump out of having to take the debate stage in 2024.

Saleha Mohsin, Lee Carter and Errol Louis are back with us right now.

I think I'm in the minority on our team in that I am convinced there will be debates.


And I don't see any way there is not. Am I wrong?

MOHSIN: Look, since 2016 everything that we're convinced of we need to throw out.

MATTINGLY: Yes, that's a fair point.

MOHSIN: Maybe it will happen. It will happen for different reasons than it used to.

What's interesting, though, is that President Joe Biden said no to the traditional "60 Minutes" interview before the Super Bowl. And, to me, him saying no to something that he's expected to do, a serious interview, he can really get his message out to an audience, just sitting, waiting for him, waiting for his message is telling. Is it because he can't handle it?

HARLOW: And he just did that interview with Scott Pelley less than a year ago for "60 Minutes." Do you have any sense of why no on this one at such a crucial moment?

MOHSIN: I have no idea. I mean just look at that clip that we just saw. If he is not able to follow the questions, if his staff is worried that he can connect the dots and find the word that he's looking for, that's a problem.

MATTINGLY: I think my question to that point is, given the fact that those are issues that show up in poll after poll after poll, age is something that shows up in poll after poll after poll, if you don't debate, doesn't that just exacerbate that problem? LEE CARTER, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER: Absolutely. I

mean the narrative is already there.


CARTER: And so the only way to count balance the narrative is to prove it wrong. And if he can't do that everything - I mean everything that he does is going to be interpreted negatively until he shows up and can prove otherwise. And so, I think it's a -- it's a big mistake for him not to do the interview in the Super Bowl. I think last year he also elected not to do the interview at the Super Bowl. That was different circumstances. I think then he was saying it was political opposition. He didn't want to go on to Fox News, et cetera.

HARLOW: It was like it's a different network.

CARTER: It was a different network.


CARTER: But this one he should be able to do. And it is a very critical time for this country. It's a critical time for the election. But there's so much going on. So much uncertainty. People are feeling so negative. This is a moment that he could really stand up and stand apart.

I'm not surprised by his response about Donald Trump and the debate. I don't blame him for that at all. But he's -

MATTINGLY: I think that was actually kind of funny.

CARTER: I thought it was great. But I think he should - he should address the issue (ph).

LOUIS: I think - I think, look, the strategy that the White House is very likely going to follow is going to be about hitting individual markets rather than trying to talk to the whole world all at once, which is what you'll have in a debate or a "60 Minutes" interview during the Super Bowl.

HARLOW: Good for local news reporters.

LOUIS: Great for local news reporters, right, because he cares about what they're seeing -


LOUIS: You know, in the market in Phoenix and in Madison and in Pittsburgh and so forth. And he, as president, can show up, cut ribbons, you know, open a new road, talk about the things that he's done, show up with all of the local officials that support him in that area. It's a much more efficient and targeted way of doing things, rather than a sort of high-risk kind of performance to try and, you know, amuse people in Los Angeles who are already going to vote for him. Not a great idea. HARLOW: Let's talk about number two on the ticket and how much that

matters. Nikki Haley, Trump have used the number two in the White House right now, Kamala Harris, as a way to say, don't vote for Biden. That's their view.

Trump was asked about it over the weekend by Maria Bartiromo in terms of where he is on a VP pick.

Listen to this.


MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Who is your running mate?

TRUMP: Well, I have a lot of good people. We have a lot of really good people.

BARTIROMO: So you haven't decided who it is?

TRUMP: I have a lot of good ideas, but I haven't - you know, I called Tim Scott so we could -- a lot of people like Tim Scott. I called him and I said, you're a much better candidate that -- for me than you are for yourself.

Kristi Noem, who's been incredible fighting for me. She said, I'd never run against him because I can't beat him. That was a very nice thing to say.


HARLOW: Kellyanne Conway, who, obviously, was crucial to his first win, posted a bunch of stuff. One of the things that she said is, "I would suggest he choose a person of color as his running mate." She also said, "any list would include Mr. Rubio, Mr. Scott," talking about the senator, "Representative Byron Donalds of Florida (a TV fire brand) and perhaps Representative Wesley Hunt of Texas. Dr. Ben Carson, Vivek Ramaswamy." She went on.

What are your thoughts, Saleha, on what he does here and how much it matters or doesn't for his ticket?

MOHSIN: I don't think it matters. This is --

HARLOW: You don't?

MOHSIN: This is one president versus another president. This is just about the presidents. I think the number two -- who votes on number two? Who remembers the number two from 20 years ago?

HARLOW: We also have older candidates now too.

CARTER: Yes, I think that Donald Trump is different, though.


CARTER: I do think - and with Donald Trump, in 2016, a lot of people thought, oh, I can't do it, and then he had the perfect counterbalance in that moment, which was Mike Pence. Right now, he's running away with the Republican primary. But when he gets to the general election, he's going to have some trouble. So, to have somebody who might just give him a few more votes -- because it's really got to be about addition at this point. He's got to get some more people who would give him the benefit of the doubt. If his number two is someone who seems more reasonable, who gives him some - some - some benefit on the abortion conversation, gives him some benefit on some of the other issues, gives him some more moderates or gives him some more true conservatives who are never Trumpers, I think it could really help him ultimately.

LOUIS: No, that's right. I - look, ideally it would be Nikki Haley, right?


LOUIS: I mean a suburban woman who's a woman of color, who's going to - college educated voter.

HARLOW: I think that ship has sailed, Errol.


LOUIS: Well, no, I -

CARTER: You never know.

LOUIS: Or sunk, right? But - but somebody like her or somebody who does some of the same things. But I think you're exactly right, if he -- if they don't do something - because this is sort of an existential problem for the Republican Party. If they don't bring in new constituencies, they are doomed to failure. They -- this is the 20th anniversary of the last time the Republicans won the popular vote in the race for president. And it's - it's - you know, the numbers are going in the opposite direction. And so they're going to have to figure this out. It's not just a Donald Trump question. It's really sort of a larger question for the Republican Party.

HARLOW: On that note --

MATTINGLY: Um, just quickly.

HARLOW: Yes, you do this.

MATTINGLY: John Edwards and Dick Cheney.


MATTINGLY: The number twos for -

MOHSIN: It took you a minute. It took you a minute. I saw you thinking.

MATTINGLY: No, I waited for other people to talk.

MOHSIN: I saw you thinking.

HARLOW: It did not take Phil a minute.

Before we go, I have a special treat.

Take a look at this, guys. Lee Carter wore some very special shoes. Let's - let's -- uncross your legs so everyone can see what -- tell us about your shoes.

CARTER: Well, we've got a donkey and an elephant. We've got the right and the left. But they're on the opposite feet because -

MATTINGLY: I appreciate that they are going the wrong way.

CARTER: Yes, they're going the wrong way. Exactly.


CARTER: Which seems appropriate in this moment.

HARLOW: That is everything. I needed that this morning.


HARLOW: Saleha, Errol, Lee, thank you very much.

Coming up next hour, we're going to be joined by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries ahead of today's impeachment vote of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. A lot to talk to him about.

MATTINGLY: And, right now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken in the Middle East to discuss post-war plans for Gaza. What we've learned about his overnight meetings. That's ahead.



MATTINGLY: Well, it is officially Super Bowl week, which is good because a weekend without football is awful. And Kansas City Chiefs, they're now preparing to battle the San Francisco 49ers this weekend. It's the first-ever Super Bowl in Las Vegas. The festivities kicked off yesterday with media day. Thousands of journalists asking the players the burning questions ranging from very serious to extraordinarily silly.

CNN's Coy Wire is in Las Vegas.

Hi, Coy. What was the best part?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: The best part was like walking through the casino this morning to get to my ride to get here and people were still going strong.

HARLOW: I can only imagine.

MATTINGLY: Oh, that's his darkest moment.

WIRE: They hadn't even gone to sleep yet.

But, listen, last night, the - yes. Opening night is incredible. You never know what you might see. And this -- for this first-ever Super Bowl in Vegas, 23,800 fans. And you don't even get to get close to the players just to watch this media frenzy. And we got a sense of just how awesome this matchup's going to be.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm living the dream.

TRAVIS KELCE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TIGHT END: In Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII opening night!

WIRE (voice over): Extra hype. Being the first-ever Super Bowl in Vegas, baby. A place known for putting on a show and making memories.

KELCE: There's nobody that has a better show than Las Vegas, right? It's like the mecca of the world for entertainment.

WIRE (voice over): Less than a decade ago, the NFL would have scoffed at the idea of holding a Super Bowl in sin city. Oh, how the craps tables have turned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I allowed to talk about winning money?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've kind of had a bad track record in Las Vegas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My favorite Vegas moment is winning - winning at the Winn Hotel on roulette.

JAKE BRENDEL, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS CENTER: We'd come out here for the Labor Day weekend and just get ridiculous. That was - I mean, the people that were involved in that know who they are.

TREY SMITH, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS GUARD: There's this great restaurant called Tokamadera (ph). And just the food there was absolutely phenomenal.

WIRE (voice over): The Chiefs looking to double down and become the first repeat champs in nearly 20 years. The 49ers are looking to parlay a win into an NFL record-tying sixth Super Bowl title. But there is that one aspect of the game that the players just can't seem to -

TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER (singing): Shake it off. Shake it off.

KELCE: She's a part of Chiefs kingdom right now. It's - it's fun seeing her enjoy the game of football knowing that it's kind of new to her life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not trying to get wrapped up in us against Taylor Swift or anything like that.

WIRE: Which Taylor Swift album title resonates with your character or persona most?


WIRE: Why?

BERNDEL: Because I get sunburned a lot.


WIRE: Fearless lover. You're combining the two?

D. SMITH: I'm a fearless lover.

PATRICK MAHOMES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QUARTERBACK: I mean the "Anti- Hero" song, I mean that - that one's pretty sweet. And so I would say that. But, I do love "Love Story." I mean it gets me every single time.

CHARVARIUS WARD, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS CORNERBACK: It might bring the NFL money. I'm - I'm pretty sure it do if they show she on TV as much as they do. They show her more than the players sometimes.


WIRE (on camera): So, we have more questions asked about Taylor Swift, I think, probably, than the actual game that's about to be played last night. It was pretty awesome to see. And we know that our Phil Mattingly is a fearless lover of his 49ers.


WIRE: Will they get their first Super Bowl win in nearly 30 years, or will it be those Chiefs getting back-to-back for first time of any team in about 20 years.

MATTINGLY: The answer is yes to your first question.

HARLOW: Do -- are they like envious, Coy, of -- did I hear some player envy there of Ms. Swift?

WIRE: Of Ms. Swift? What, I'm sorry, did you say player envy?

HARLOW: Of Taylor Swift. Of Taylor Swift and all the air time she's getting. That's all I was saying.

WIRE: Oh, yes, I know. I mean, it's -- they're - they're very aware of it. And it did seem a little bit bitterness from that last player there. But also some other players just really embracing it and loving it.

HARLOW: Love her. Totally.

Coy, thank you.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, buddy.

HARLOW: Have the best time.

WIRE: You got it.




NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These are people making decisions on our national security. These are people making decisions on the future of our economy. We need to know they're at the top of their game.