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Carlson Interviews Putin; Stefanik Speaks about January 6th; Swift-Mania Takes Over Super Bowl. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired February 09, 2024 - 06:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Windows below out. The downstairs, it was rumbling like a train.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Large hail, high winds, also downed trees and damaged multiple homes and businesses across the region.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam has been tracking all of it.

We're seeing all of these firsts as weird things are happening too here. It's got to be like 60 degrees tomorrow in New York City in February.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Poppy, I think it's - yes, well above average. And we need to mark that, that this is the first February tornado in Wisconsin. That is significant, right? Three tornadoes overall across the Midwest yesterday. And you saw one of them in southern Wisconsin just really impressive, impressive sight for this time of year.

Now, what do we need for tornadoes in the middle of February? Well, you need warmth and a very moisture-laden air mass. And that is what we have. One hundred and fifty potential warm temperature records from the Midwest all the way to northern New England through the end of the weekend. This is part of a larger trend.

Look at this map. Every single red dot you see here across the Midwest and into New England are locations that have had their warmest winter to date. And that is very significant, especially considering that that warmth is centered across the Great Lakes.

We did the numbers. We've calculated that we've had near record ice cover across the Great Lakes sitting at 5 percent. We should normally have about 37 percent of the Great Lakes covered in ice right now. Only Saginaw Bay and the Green Bay region. This has major implications on, let's say, the fishing industry, for instance, the economy of the Great Lakes. And it's part of a wider trend of declining ice pack across the Great Lakes since records began in the middle of the '70s.

So, to see this warmth, it will shift to the East Coast. And this is kind of the fingerprints of climate change written across this story. Phil. Poppy.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: We see it every day.

Derek Van Dam, thank you.

HARLOW: Tucker Carlson's interview with Vladimir Putin, we've got reaction from Ukraine straight ahead.

MATTINGLY: And what Donald Trump's potential VP pick says she would have done if she was in Mike Pence's shoes on January 6th.

Stay with us.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

Russian President Vladimir Putin getting a platform from former Fox host Tucker Carlson in Moscow, sitting down for a two-hour interview. At one point Putin suggests that the U.S. should negotiate with Russia over this whole war in Ukraine.

Listen to this.


PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): Wouldn't it be better to negotiate with Russia, make an agreement, already understanding the situation that is developing today, realizing that Russia will fight for its interest to the end. And realizing this, actually a return to common sense, start respecting our country and its interests and look for certain solutions. It seems to me that this is much smarter and more rational.


MATTINGLY: Joining us now, CNN's senior media analyst Sara Fischer, and CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen, who is in Ukraine.

Fred, I want to start with you because for two years western media outlets, including CNN, have been asking for sit-down interviews with President Putin. When you watch this, why do you think Putin and his team agreed to it?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think they agreed to it because they thought it would be beneficial for them. In fact, that's something that the Kremlin did say before this interview took place. They say that they feel that there's no benefit for them for communicating, as they put it, with, as they call us, traditional western media. They say that they believe that western media is biased against Russia. You know, some of the reactions that we've been getting this morning

from the Kremlin, they seem pretty pleased with what - what happened there in that interview, what transpired in that interview. They say, this is the spokesman for the Kremlin, they believe this interview will be studied in the future. They say that other media outlets are jealous of this interview.

There's been some reaction from the Ukrainians as well, Phil. They say that this is little more as a -- than a justification attempt, as one presidential adviser here put it, of the genocide against Ukrainians, he said. It was quite interesting because I've actually been communicating with a journalist that I know inside Russia, and he referred to Tucker Carlson as Vladimir Putin's microphone stand, and essentially said, this was little more than a monologue by Vladimir Putin. Certainly we did have long phases of Vladimir Putin essentially trying to give a lesson in history in the whole thing.

I think one of the interesting things that we picked up on was when he said that he hadn't actually spoken to President Biden since before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, or the full on invasion of Ukraine took place, and said that he believed that President Biden's support for Ukraine was a catastrophic mistake as Putin put it, Phil.

HARLOW: It was very important, Sara, for Putin to be asked by anyone that sits down with him about detained "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich. Tucker asked him about that and if he would allow him to be released and come home to the United States. Putin said no, and then he said this.


PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): We are willing to (INAUDIBLE) but there are certain terms being discussed by a special services channels. I believe an agreement can be reached.


HARLOW: What is your reporting this morning on Evan, as all of us think about him, as his family awaits and waits for him to come home?

SARA FISCHER, SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST: You can't trust those words, Poppy. I mean, the whole game here for the past year, as they've been wrongfully detaining Evan Gershkovich, is that they've been opaque. They will say one thing, they will negotiate in another way. There is no progress at this point. And so for Vladimir Putin to come out and sort of, you know, suggest that in this Tucker Carlson interview to me just seems like a way to sort of dodge the one hard question in that interview.

I'm actually at a journalism conference right now in Charleston, South Carolina, and the person who is managing the release for Evan Gershkovich, Paul Beckett, on behalf of "The Wall Street Journal," he made this point very directly yesterday, which is that you cannot trust anything that the Russian government is saying in regards to this release because the opaqueness is part of the strategy, the misleading words is part of the strategy. And for Tucker Carlson, by the way, to be the one western journalist

to get this type of access to Vladimir Putin suggests that Putin knows that this is going to be an interview where he can manipulate the moderator. This was a huge fail on behalf of American journalism. It was a platform for Putin. And it's disappointing for everybody that cares about Evan's safety.

MATTINGLY: Fred, another -- since you're in Ukraine, I definitely want to ask you, you've been reporting -- you and the team over there have been reporting for several weeks that it was likely there was going to be a switch at the top of the Ukrainian armed forces. The commander in chief was replaced, as you've been reporting was going to happen yesterday.


Russia is now responding to that. What's actually happening on the ground there?

PLEITGEN: Yes. Yes, you're absolutely right, that commanding general was replaced, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi. This is something that happened late last night, which certainly to us seemed like a coordinated move that took place. President Zelenskyy thanked Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, but they also said that this was part of a larger shakeup. They say they want to switch things around in their military because they understand that right now, on the ground, things are very difficult for them.

One of the interesting things that Zelenskyy said is that the counteroffensive, as he put it, had not achieved the things that Ukraine wants it to achieve. And also, in light of the fact that, for instance, military aid from the United States is quite uncertain at this point in time, they believe that they need to switch to what they call new technologies like, for instance, unmanned systems. And they believe that a new person on the top will have to implement that.

Now, that new person is called Oleksandr Syrskyi. He has so far been the commander of the land forces, of the ground army of Ukraine. Very successful in the offensive in Kyiv in the early stages of the war. Very successful in the counteroffensive in late 2022. Less successful recently in the east of the country, where Ukraine's forces have been bogged down. And I think that's one of the main keys that I saw from the Ukrainians. I think they understood that they can't get into a slugfest, into a fighting match with the Russians. They need to try to be more agile, as they were at the beginning of the war.


HARLOW: Fred Pleitgen on the ground in Ukraine, and, Sara, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

MATTINGLY: Well, President Biden calling Israel's military conduct in Gaza over the top. The significance, real significance, of these words. That's next.

HARLOW: Also right now, a manhunt is underway in Tennessee after a deputy was killed, another injured. What we know, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


MATTINGLY: Some stunning -- maybe not stunning, maybe just candid comments from one of the favorites to become Donald Trump's vice presidential pick.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins spoke with House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik last night and asked her what she would do if she were in Mike Pence's shoes on of the day of the insurrection.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Had you been vice president on January 6, 2021, what would you have done?

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I stood up for the Constitution. I believe there was enough --

COLLINS: No, what would you have done if you were vice president that day?

STEFANIK: I would not have done what Mike Pence did. I don't think that was the right approach. I specifically stand by what I said on the House floor. And I stand by my statement, which was, there was unconstitutional overreach.

COLLINS: So, you would have rejected the votes?

STEFANIK: There was unconstitutional overreach in states like Pennsylvania, and I think it's very important that we continue to stand up for the Constitution and have legal and secure elections, which we did not have in 2020. And the -- tens of millions of Americans agree with me.


MATTINGLY: Back with us to discuss are John Avlon, Errol Louis and Lee Carter.

There's a reasons tens of millions of Americans agree with her. And I would note that the Pence team did a significant amount of legal analysis and research before making the decision of what authority he did or did not have before he acted.

John Avlon, when you heard that, what did you think?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND ANCHOR: I think it is -- it is the triumph of ambition over integrity. I think she is trying to clearly curry favor with an audience of one. And she is doing - she is desecrating the idea of defending the Constitution. Let's be very clear, she did not stand up for the Constitution when she voted to overturn the election after the attack on the Capitol. That was about kowtowing to Donald Trump for curry political favor, usually out of fear for avoiding partisan primaries or fear of the very base that just attacked the Capitol.

And so when Donald Trump says it's important we stand up to defend the integrity of our elections or defend our democracy, that's bizarro world that means the opposite of what he's saying. And that's what Elise Stefanik said last night to Kaitlan Collins. The same thing.

And it's sinister that all these people who are in the veep stakes right now are trying to say they would have overturned the election if they had been Mike Pence as a qualification test. That itself should be disqualifying.

LEE CARTER, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS EXPERT: There's no reason why she had to answer it that way. I mean I -- except exactly what you're saying, in order to, you know -- the former president puts loyalty above all else and so I think that was - that was a message to him. I don't think -- and I really don't think that it helps her at all, I mean, with the base, with anybody else. She didn't have to say it. I think a lot of folks at the time respected Mike Pence for what he did, and I - I think it was -- I think it was completely unnecessary.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Among other things, it's at odds with the statement that she released on January 6th, when it happened, after she was cowering in fear like many of the other people who were under attack.

CARTER: Yes, absolutely.

MATTINGLY: What she said is deleted from her website.


LOUIS: She scrubbed it from her website. Someone, you know, sort of tried to bring up, hey, this is what you said on that day. And what she said was that it was a criminal act, that people should be prosecuted and people should be held accountable. She has since scrubbed that from her website.

HARLOW: Just a note of why - and it's so important what she said there to Kaitlan and Kaitlan prefaced this with, you're reported to be on the short list for Trump's VP.

CARTER: Right.

HARLOW: It matters what she says, particularly to that answer.

LOUIS: Sure.

CARTER: It matters a lot because if people don't believe in our - in our -- the integrity of our democracy, we've got nothing. And I know that Donald Trump has been out there talking about this (INAUDIBLE), but that should not be the centerpiece of what we're talking about here. That shouldn't be the criteria by which we're pick a vice president. It's absolutely -- I - I - I find it -- I find it extremely dangerous.

AVLON: It is dangerous. I mean, look, the fact that Donald Trump's election lies have become the litmus test for the Republican Party is sinister and absurd and we shouldn't get numb to it. We shouldn't get numb to the fact that the hyper partisanship and polarization has gotten so bad that people who want to rise in their party feel that they need to embrace a lie and a fiction and destroy our democracy.

HARLOW: I - before - before we run out of time, I want to talk about Biden and the change in words that he used when talking about Israel in Gaza.

Listen to the president last night.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The conduct of the response in Gaza -- in the Gaza Strip has been over the top.

There are a lot of innocent people who are starving. A lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying. And it's got to stop.


HARLOW: Errol.

LOUIS: Yes, I mean, that's -- that's him talking both domestic and international politics. He's saying now publicly what we knew they were saying privately, which is that they were trying to sort of put some limits and some guardrails on Israel's actions in Gaza.


Now he's saying it publicly, in part because he understands that in the Democratic base there's been a lot of protests, there's been a lot of discouraging signs that people are either going to stay home, including in key states like Michigan, or they're going to actually vote against him. And so this is somebody who's trying to stop a regional conflict from spinning out of control, as well as preserve his chances for getting re-elected.

CARTER: To me it's damage control, right? I mean, I think it's -- he - he took a stand and now he's - he's sort of going backwards. And when you look at some of the polling, I think in particular the one if I were him I'd be most concerned about is that 18 to 29-year-old lack of support that he's gotten since his position on Israel. He has lost - he had won that -- that ==- that demographic by 20 points in 2020 and now he's behind by 17 points just over this issue alone.

And we've seen how many protests he's had at his different events, just on this issue, and I think he's trying to - he's trying to do damage control. And I think it's - it's -- the authenticity of it is going to be under question. I'm not sure it's going to help him.

MATTINGLY: There are so many pieces of that. The fascinating thing is, for all the heat and light on that press conference last night, deservedly so, that was the one moment when I went, oh, wow, that is a - that is a big deal what he just said.



MATTINGLY: All right, Errol Louis, Lee Carter, thank you. John Avlon, man, what -- why do we let this happen?

AVLON: Love you guys.

HARLOW: Because he's got important things to continue to do.


HARLOW: John, we -- today is your last day officially at CNN.


HARLOW: But you'll be back on the air with us.

AVLON: I'm sure - I'm sure I will. I hope so.

HARLOW: We -- you're such a joy.

AVLON: Thank you.

HARLOW: Not only do you make history fun for us.

AVLON: I try.

HARLOW: I learn from you every day. And you're just such a good human. And that's - that's what matters.

MATTINGLY: I'm mostly partial to your wife, but -- because she's fantastic and you - you draft off her much like I do mine.

AVLON: True story.

MATTINGLY: But you have been -- I told you this last night, you've been awesome to work with in my six months up here in-person. I know we knew each other prior. But I -- your energy for -- and your intellectual curiosity for every single day gets me going in the morning, and I appreciate that, because it's very early in the morning.

AVLON: It is early and I have loved being with you and this extraordinary team and the extraordinary crew for so long for so many years. It's - it's not a chore to get up this early, it's a joy because of the camaraderie and the community and the important work that you all and CNN does every day. So, it's been an honor and here -- here's to a new chapter and a new adventure, but it's been an honor.

MATTINGLY: Thank you, my friend.

HARLOW: Can't wait to see it.

AVLON: Thanks, guys. MATTINGLY: Well, Super Bowl Sunday just two days away, not that we're

counting down or anything. Ahead, a preview of the big game in Las Vegas and Taylor Swift mania taking over the city.

HARLOW: And after spending time with his father, who was just diagnosed with cancer, Prince Harry made a surprise appearance at the NFL Honors Awards Show.


PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: Good evening, NFL. It's an honor to be with you all tonight. I really love -- I really love how you stole rugby from us and you made it your own, instead of passing it backwards, just pass it forwards.




HARLOW: A little more than two days to go until Super Bowl Sunday.

Coy Wire live in Las Vegas with more on the big game, or is it the Swift mania surrounding it?

Coy, good morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: That's right. Hi, Poppy. Good morning.

I covered about a dozen Super Bowls I've never seen so much focus, so many questions about something going on outside the lines. The most watched television program in America has even more hype, more intensity as the sports and entertainment worlds collide.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shout out to the newest members of the Chiefs kingdom, Taylor Swift, who has officially reached the Super Bowl in her rookie year. That's kind of cool.

TRAVIS KELCE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TIGHT END: Shout out to Tay. Thanks for joining the team.

WIRE (voice over): The NFL and loads of fans are embracing this romance. One thing you can bet on is that Taylor Swift is good for business. NFL viewership hitting all-time highs this post season.

KELCE: She's rewriting the history books herself. I told her I'll have to hold up my end of the bargain and come home with some hardware, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're screaming at Taylor Swift saying she ruined it, you're just a loser.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is everybody so mad about it? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't get it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is everybody so mad about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This anger, this says nothing about Taylor Swift. It says everything about the men bothered by it.

WIRE (voice over): It's pretty clear that this has all been quite divisive. Some supporting Tay Tay, but others --

TAYLOR SWIFT, MUSICIAN (singing): Because baby now we got bad blood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are boycotting any T. Swift songs. It's hard for me because I have her on my play -- my running play list and everything. So -- but if she pops up on -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's dead to you this week?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Radio station and my oldest son Max and I are big Swifties, nope, she's dead to us this week.

WIRE (voice over): Now, listen to this, Taylor's favorite number is 13.

SWIFT: This is my 13th Grammy, which is my lucky number. I don't know if I've ever told you that.

WIRE: This is Super Bowl LVIII, 5 plus 8 is 13. The game is being playing played on 2/11, 2 plus 11, 13. The Chiefs' opponent, the 49ers, 4 plus 9 is, you get it.

But seriously though, this will be Taylor's 13th game this season, leaving some conspiracy theorists to think the NFL is scripted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think I'm that good a scripter, or anybody on our staff.

WIRE (voice over): Has this first ever Vegas Super Bowl matchup be tailor made?


WIRE (on camera): Yes, some online saying getting to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl so Swifties can boost ratings was the NFL's plan all along.


Ha, ha. And now some are questioning where Taylor will sit during the game as Travis Kelce's mom Donna told us she's sitting.