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Reports of Outage Impacting Mobile Phone Services; House GOP Defiant After Informant Reveals Russian Spy Ties; Arizona Prosecutors Refuse to Extradite Murder Suspect to New York. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 22, 2024 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the center of their impeachment investigation was indicted for lying.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The motion of a bribery scheme was false?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Not at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Republicans have good evidence, we would have seen it long ago.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The Alabama Supreme Court says that frozen embryos are children, and destroying them could land you in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The largest hospital in the state pausing all IVF treatments.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been waiting over two years to be pregnant. There is no world where I could see me stopping this process right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. attempting its first new landing in more than 50 years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Odysseus is now barreling towards the moon now hours away from the most perilous test yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people have likened it to hitting a golf ball in New York and having it go into a particular hole in one in LA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what this is, a beginning of an emerging economy around the moon.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: A good Thursday morning, everyone. I'm Phil Mattingly with Poppy Harlow in New York.

And we begin with that breaking news. There are reports of outages that continue to pour in for tens of thousands of mobile phone customers this morning.

Now, people in various states have been reporting trouble making calls on their phones. It's impacting several carriers. Right now it appears AT&T is having the most trouble.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So, according to, 31,000 AT&T customers reported problems with their service overnight, peaked around the problems, I should say, peaked around 4:30 A.M. Eastern Time this morning, some reporting no signal at all, unable to receive or answer calls. We have reached out to AT&T and the other cell providers. We're waiting to hear back.

CNN Law Enforcement Analyst John Miller joins us now. John, I think everybody is trying to figure out what exactly this is. The companies haven't said anything yet and we're continuing to report out.

In terms of from an emergency services perspective or just kind of the basic functioning of society, what are the big concerns right now that people are looking into?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, number one is just the infrastructure of the United States, the way it's built. There's so many people have given up hard lines, landlines. So, when you have a cellular system that is cracking with a major carrier, especially the major carrier that has to contract with the government to supply emergency communications to law enforcement, fire, critical infrastructure, that's a big concern.

Now, that's the bad news. The good news is when something like that unfolds in the wee hours of the morning, when traffic is weighed down, you see that particular tracking outfit sees 31,000 complaints. How'd that happen at 4:30 in the afternoon, as opposed to 4:30 in the morning, I think we'd be seeing massive numbers and greater concerns.

So, right now, we're in triage. AT&T is wondering what's happening. How do you go about that? They're going into their own systems, and they're reading their logs, and they're doing audits through their computers and systems, saying, let's go backwards. Where does this glitch enter the system? Did it enter the system? Or we can -- you know, Juliette Kayyem was on earlier talking about there are atmospherics here. I can remember times when we had what we referred to as sun spots that were interfering with police radio communication.

Remember what a cell phone is. A cell phone is nothing more than a two-way radio. It bounces a low signal to a series of repeaters, cell towers, that then give that signal more power and distribute it. That network is controlled by computers that measure the volume on certain towers and then redistribute it to other towers. So it's complicated, which means when it works, it works great. But when there's a domino effect, when something breaks or cascades, you know, you can see something like this.

Let's just switch to the dark side for a second. Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, everybody, in terms of hostile foreign powers, has been looking at U.S. critical infrastructure. As part of the NYPD's CCSI, our critical infrastructure protection group, you know, we brought all the elements, including the big cell phone companies in, and told them, you know, these are the indicators of compromise, these are the I.P. addresses, these are the signals that they're trying to get into your system. And this was updated literally daily. So, that's some of what they'd be looking for today. Is it an inside problem? Is it an outside problem?

Let's say now we're just going far afield here with nothing to back this up, but we're talking theory. If there was a Russian attack on critical infrastructure, first you would try it out to see if it worked. If you were trying to attract not too much attention, you might try it out at 4:30 in the morning U.S. time to see if you could affect the system and then pull out so people didn't go hunting for what you used.

This was a little clangy (ph).


It's probably a technical glitch. It's probably not sinister. But those are all the things that Jen Easterly and other people at the White House and at DHS and the Critical Infrastructure Directorate and at the FBI and their cyber teams are going to be thinking about as they roll into work today.

HARLOW: What can people do this morning who are still being impacted by this? My phone didn't go out but I was asking one of our colleagues. You know how sometimes when it's not working you can still call 911?


HARLOW: Well, apparently that was down for a lot of folks, or is down for a lot of folks, too. I suppose they can use Wi-Fi audio.

MILLER: So, the 911 feature is just a jump in the phone that says if you didn't pay your bill, if we switched off your service, if you were an unhoused person or a domestic abuse victim where they've given you a phone that only calls for emergencies, that function will still work. If it's the phone service that's not working, that's going to go with it.


MATTINGLY: Yes. We are continuing to report this out, we don't have specific details, we're still awaiting word from the companies as well.

John, stay with us, we have a lot more to get to with you. Because this morning the impeachment case against President Biden, well it appears to, at least on its face, be falling apart. House Republicans, they're scrambling to salvage it after an ex-FBI informant at the heart of the allegations admitted it was Russian spies who he claims gave him dirt on the Biden's.

Congressman Ken Buck now telling CNN his fellow Republicans who are leading the charge on impeachment were warned about this informant's credibility.


REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): We were warned at the time that we received the document outlining this witness' testimony, we were warned that the credibility of this statement was not known. And yet people, my colleagues, went out and talked to the public about how this was credible and how it was damning and how it proved President Biden's, at the time, Vice President Biden's complicity in receiving bribes. It appears to absolutely be false.

COLLINS: So, James Comer and Jim Jordan, they knew that this was not corroborated information, yet they still went public with it, talked about it on television, used it to fuel these investigations regardless?

BUCK: That's what it appears.


HARLOW: Also the president's brother, James Biden, delivering a pretty significant blow to this impeachment probe. Yesterday, he testified that President Biden did not have any involvement in his foreign business dealings. Democrats are now calling on House Republicans to end this inquiry.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): A wild goose chase built on conspiracy theory and lies from the beginning, and now we know that Russian intelligence operatives were behind creating the propaganda and disinformation at the very foundation of this investigation.

So, I think it's time for Chairman Comer and the Republicans to fold up the circus tent, and we should get back to work for the American people.


MATTINGLY: Republicans have made clear they don't plan on doing that, but the FBI is also coming under scrutiny for its handling of that informant.

John Miller is back with us now. And, John, I'm going to ask a question I asked several times yesterday to other people, and then we talked about it after the show, and you had very enlightening things to say about it, which is this informant, this individual who was indicted, was a confidential informant for a decade. The indictment makes it appear that he is a serial fabulous at the highest level. How can a confidential informant be operating for a decade that lies as alleged in the indictment?

MILLER: So, this confidential informant has been operating for those years, but has been making cases, significant cases in the area of public corruption and other criminal matters. Not in the world of espionage or international intrigue, although there has been a shift in the kind of information he's been supplying.

So, when you have an informant who hasn't had to testify in court, that means they were able to give you enough accurate information so that you could go out and prove that case and then bring a prosecution and then get convictions.

So, in the world of FBI informants, there's the top echelon informant. Let's think Whitey Bulger running a crime family in Boston, at the same time being an FBI informant. Complicated because the top echelon informant has to be giving you information that you can't get anywhere else, but they also have to be committing crimes at the same time. That's awkward, but it's a decision they make.

This would be the second rung down, which is a long-term informant, anybody who's been on the books for more than six years, but there's still a process. There's an informant validation procedure. There's a way to test informants. And there's a way to get that steady stream of raw intelligence, the things you put in a 1023, and vet that into finished intelligence, which is we've been able to verify much of this.

Where does this one make the turn? It makes the turn that once he starts supplying this information about Joe Biden, they're looking at this and it doesn't make sense. They're giving him $5 million and his son $5 million in 2017 when he's leaving office and will have no power to help them.


And that deal was made in some earlier meetings, but the informant talked about it in 2017, but didn't mention the bribe, and then suddenly mentions a bribe later.

So, they're looking at this raw data, and they're saying, it's all out of order, and it doesn't make sense. When Congress starts asking for this, then they have to go backwards to it and say, well, we didn't give this much credibility now, but now we're investigating.

So, you can't take this informant and say, well, he lied to them for ten years. But what they're saying about -- people that, through their investigation, they found out weren't there. So, this was a carefully constructed story.

The question we're stuck with right now is, did he construct it, or did the Russian intelligence officials he claims to have been meeting with now feed him that story for the specific purpose of trying to dirty up Joe Biden, help Donald Trump, and all the other kind of election interference we were talking about in 2017?

HARLOW: Yes, that's a core question, right? And how do they answer that? Thank you very much, John, on both beats. I appreciate it.

MILLER: Thanks.

HARLOW: So, this morning, prosecutors in Arizona are refusing to hand over a murder suspect charged with the brutal killing of a woman in New York. Police say 26-year-old Raad Almansoori stabbed two women in Arizona and is also wanted in a New York hotel homicide. But Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says, she doesn't trust Manhattan's D.A. Alvin Bragg to keep him in prison. She's not going to extradite him here.

Brynn Gingras has all of this. This is really fascinating and pretty unprecedented.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, let's start by saying it is somewhat common practice for, you know, these suspects to be extradited to a violent criminal like this to a state where there is a bigger offense that occurred, such as this case.

Now, we're talking about 26-year-old Raad Almasoori, as Poppy mentioned. This is the man that the NYPD says killed a woman in a Manhattan hotel earlier this month, and then days later, flew to Arizona where authorities say he committed a carjacking, stabbing the woman driving and then subsequently stabbed another woman in a McDonald's bathroom.

Now both victims lived, Almasoori was arrested in Arizona while Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell then held a press conference saying she instructed her staff not to work with New York authorities in extraditing Almasoori and then took a swipe at the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg. And here's more of what she said.


RACHEL MITCHELL, MARICOPA COUNTY ATTORNEY: We will not be agreeing to extradition.

Having observed the treatment of violent criminals in the New York area by the Manhattan D.A. there, Alvin Bragg, I think it's safer to keep him here and keep him in custody so that he cannot be out doing this to individuals either in our state or county or anywhere in the United States.


GINGRAS: Yes, pretty harsh word. She followed up by saying AlMasoori needs to first be adjudicated for the crime he allegedly committed in her district and that this move was nothing against the work of the NYPD.

MATTINGLY: I can't imagine the D.A.'s office expected this. What's their response been, if they've had it?

GINGRAS: Certainly didn't expect it but there was a very quick response. And a spokesperson for the district attorney's office did say this in a statement. New York's murder rate is less than half that of Phoenix, Arizona, because of the hard work of the NYPD and all our law enforcement partners. It is a slap in the face to them and to the victim in our case to refuse to allow us to seek justice and full accountability for New Yorkers' death.

Now, Bragg's office adding that Mitchell is playing politics here because important context to remember, Bragg is a Democrat, has been a familiar punching bag for Republicans who have repeatedly criticized him for being soft on crime, he's also taken a lot of heat lately on several of his cases, but particularly the one his office is about to go to trial on against former President Donald Trump.

Bragg, of course, brought 34 felony counts against Trump for falsifying business records in his hush money case in New York. So that bigger context, of course, important here.

MATTINGLY: Yes, critical, and I think much more to come on this story as well.

Brynn Gingras, thank you.

Well, it has been nearly two years since Russia's war on Ukraine began. Next, we'll talk to the former first lady of Ukraine what the next few months could look like.

HARLOW: Also this ahead, NBA superstar Steph Curry and former Davidson head basketball Coach Bob McKillop stole the hearts of college basketball fans everywhere after their historic bracket- busting run to the Elite 8 back in 2008. A Cinderella story for the ages, it certainly was. I sat down with Coach McKillop and talked about the legacy those two legends have formed since that moment.


BOB MCKILLOP, DAVIDSON COLLEGE HEAD COACH 1989-2022: It never surprised me what he did because Matt is an assistant and I as a head coach saw this every day in living color. And now to see what he has done in the NBA, you can't step on this court without thinking of him.




HARLOW: Welcome back. This Saturday marks two years since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and Russia continues to make small gains along the eastern front. After taking the town of Avdiivka over the weekend, it is still facing fierce resistance, though, in the south from Ukrainian forces.

Concern is growing over Ukraine's ability to sustain this level of fighting, though, long-term, without much more support from the United States and its allies.

Joining us now, former First Lady of Ukraine Kateryna Yushchenko, her husband Viktor Yushchenko, of course, as president of Ukraine, from 2005 to 2010. Thank you for being here.

Two years in, it will be two years on Saturday, and let's not forget, so many people thought that Kyiv would fall within days, and yet look what Ukraine has done. What is your assessment two years in and also your message for the world? KATERYNA YUSHCEHNKO, FORMER UKRAINIAN FIRST LADY: Thank you very much, Poppy, for having me. I do want to say that, indeed, our war has been going on for ten years. Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, and millions of Ukrainians have been murdered, tortured, raped, castrated, forced to flee.


Many children have been abducted. And every day we hear air raid sirens, thousands of bombs falling down. Every day, we hear about families being destroyed. Just in this past week, two families with -- two parents and three children have died in the night, including a newborn baby. And it is very sad to hear what is happening.

I have to say that I always thought that these kinds of things happen to other people in other countries. And recently, we have found that this can happen to you.

HARLOW: Yes. I read this interview that you gave to the National Review. It was actually almost exactly two years ago, four days before this Russian invasion. And you described calling your father in 1991 when Ukraine declared independence. And he said he never thought he would see it happen again. And I wonder how worried you are if more aid, especially from the United States, does not come, that Ukraine is on the brink of losing that again.

YUSHCEHNKO: Indeed. You know that we are very grateful for the assistance that we have already gotten from the United States and from Europe. There was a time when, as you said, they thought they could take Ukraine in three days, and instead now it takes them months, and the loss of tens of thousands of soldiers to take tiny towns in Ukraine. We have been able, because of assistance and because of the resilience of our people, to degrade their military and take back half of what they've taken since 2022. And, indeed, I think we have humiliated the Russian army.

We do believe that if we had received more sooner, the war would already be over, and --

HARLOW: Already over?

YUSHCEHNKO: -- the delay in arms -- it would be over. The delay in arms is costing us thousands of people every day. And if we had gotten the aid when the threats had first started, if we had gotten the aid then the new escalation had first started, it would be over. But we have been fighting with a very limited capacity.

And I think that's very important for the U.S. and Europe to understand that withdrawing assistance will not make the war shorter. It will only prolong it and bring in other players, and that Ukrainian victory will mean greater security and less spending on defense for the U.S. and for Europe.

HARLOW: So, to those who believe and make the argument that the longer you keep funding this, the longer it is protracted, and eventually you end at the bargaining table and you cede some portion of Ukraine to Russia, your message to them is that it's absolutely inaccurate.

YUSHCEHNKO: We cannot give up. We will not give up because we cannot give up. Because we understand that if we do give up, it is the end of our country and we will cease to exist. And we understand that if we give up, the war will move further.

And so right now, our soldiers are fighting and dying to save the rest of Europe. And we hope that the world understands that. I think that in the past, the world understood that. Now it no longer does.

HARLOW: To exactly your point, if we give up, this moves on to the rest of Europe. Christiane Amanpour, our beloved colleague, did such a telling interview this week with Ukraine's foreign minister in Kyiv. And this is part of the exchange. Listen to this.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINE'S FOREIGN MINISTER: Europe is used to living in peace.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It's because your countries allowed the peace dividend when the fall of the Soviet Union happened.

KULEBA: Without a single drop of blood. But now there is a war, and the Europeans have to accept the fact that the era of peace in Europe is over. Whether someone likes it or not, it's over.


HARLOW: I wonder what you make of that, if you believe Europe, to some extent, the United States have been too slow to recognize sort of the end of that era of peace.

YUSHCEHNKO: I think that unfortunately, people don't recognize that Putin's main aim is clearly not just to take Ukraine. He wants to eliminate western values. Yes, he wants to eliminate Ukraine completely as a nation. But his main goal is a new world order without democracy, freedom, rule of law. He wants the end of American and European leadership in the world.

And what I think many Americans do not understand that his goal is the end of the U.S.


And he has stated this clearly many times and the Kremlin is doing all it can to sow polarization and dysfunction in the U.S. And I think it's very strange that many people who call themselves American patriots don't understand that.

HARLOW: To that point, for people who don't know, you've had such a fascinating career and journey. You worked in the Reagan White House. So, I'm particularly interested in your response to Republican lawmakers, like, for example, Republican Senator J.D. Vance, who just said this in Munich over the weekend about Putin. Here he was. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): I do not think that Vladimir Putin is the next potential threat to Europe, and to the extent that he is, again, that suggests that Europe has to take a more aggressive role in its own security.


HARLOW: Not an existential threat. What do you say to that?

YUSHCEHNKO: Putin has made it very clear for many, many years that his main goal is to eliminate American power in the world, to create a world of a different axis, where it's Russia, China, North Korea, Iran that control the world. And to me, it is still shocking.

And I have to say, as you said, I grew up in America and worked in the Reagan White House, where Republicans understood national security threats and understood what was good for America. And the fact that so many Republicans now support Putin is shocking to me, because Putin has one goal, and that is the absolute destruction of American power, democracy, freedom and rule of law.

HARLOW: Finally, the Biden White House is considering further sanctions and talked about just the last couple of days further sanctions on Putin. My question has been, though, it has not deterred Russia at all in Ukraine, it did not deter -- look what just happened to Alexei Navalny in Russian prison. Is there anything sanctions-wise that you believe would act as a deterrent, for example, the 300 billion in assets, we just talked to Bill Browder about that yesterday?

YUSHCEHNKO: Thank you. Indeed, we need to get those assets confiscated. I think that there are many Russian sanctions that have not been enforced. They have been able to overcome them by working through many other countries, including India. And it's very important that these sanctions are more strongly enforced, that these assets are given to Ukraine for our military and our financial needs. And, again, I think it's very shocking that people don't understand that this is in America's interests to support our country.

HARLOW: Former First Lady of Ukraine Kateryina Yushcehnko, thank you so much for your time this morning.

YUSHCEHNKO: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Also new this morning, a U.S. sailor is facing court- martial after being accused of espionage in the alleged mishandling of classified documents. The U.S. Navy says the chief petty officer shared defense information with the citizen of an unnamed foreign government at least six times while stationed in Norfolk, Virginia.

CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now live from the Pentagon. Oren, what more do we know about what actually happened here?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Phil, Bryce Pedicini had what appeared to be a long and successful career in the Navy. According to his Navy record, he enlisted in 2008 and served on three different destroyers, including most recently the USS Higgins based in Japan.

He had gotten good conduct medals as well as the National Defense Service Medal, according to his Navy record. And in August 2022, he was promoted to Chief Fire Controlman, a critical role on a U.S. Navy warship.

But according to Navy prosecutors, in November 2022, several months after that promotion, he began sharing classified information with a foreign government.

Now, the charge sheet that we have seen doesn't list the foreign government, but according to prosecutors, this happened several times, November, December, January and February.

Then in May of 2023, as Pedicini was serving on the Higgins in Japan, prosecutors say he had took a picture of a classified screen and was attempting to transfer that to a foreign government when he was arrested and taken into pre-trial confinement.

He remains there several months later, now being held in San Diego, awaiting his court-martial here. He has been charged with 14 counts of espionage and the attempted transfer of classified information as we wait to see how this moves forward.

Phil, it's worth pointing out here that part of this, according to prosecutors, played out at exactly the same time as Jack Teixeira, the Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who was charged with leaking classified information online on Discord. Teixeria was arrested in April. According to the documents here from the Navy, it was Pedicini who was arrested just one month later.

MATTINGLY: Yes, important context. Oren Liebermann, thank you.

Well, the families of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie reaching a settlement and avoiding a trial. The details on how that agreement was reached. That's next.


HARLOW: And overnight, thousands of Americans, maybe you, woke up to your phone not working, what we're learning about this nationwide cell service outage.