Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Tensions Heighten Between Russia And Ukraine; British Prime Minister Johnson Faces Calls To Resign; Prince Harry Files Legal Challenge To Pay For U.K. Protection. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 17, 2022 - 05:30   ET




TRAVIS KELCE, TIGH END, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: What's up, mom? I'm glad you made it.

DONNA KELCE, MOTHER OF TRAVIS KELCE: Yes, I know. I actually made it at a disappointing Tampa game. This was an elation. That's what makes sports so great because you can be depressed in the morning and elated in the evening.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you what, Laura, that's some dedication right there. And I guess she really had no choice, right? You either go to neither game or you go to both because you don't want to pick a favorite.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: A mother's dedication has no bounds. I love that. Just wonderful.

Thanks, Andy -- appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right.

JARRETT: All right.

Up next, President Biden's warnings do little to deter Vladimir Putin. Can he do anything to stop Russia from invading Ukraine?

And Britain's Boris Johnson under pressure. Will a partying scandal cost him his job? That's next.




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Do you think we are in a new cold war with Russia?

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): I do. I do because I think Putin again smells weakness here. He knows that if he's ever going to invade Ukraine now is the time. I hope he doesn't make that miscalculation. But the fact is if he does invade Ukraine, what does the United States -- what is our commander in chief prepared to do to stop it?


JARRETT: Strong words from the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee talking about growing U.S. tensions with Russia over its massive troop buildup on the Ukraine border.

CNN was first to report on the U.S. intelligence showing Russia has prepositioned a group of operatives to potentially conduct a false flag operation in Eastern Ukraine to create a pretext for a Russian invasion.

We have team coverage this morning with CNN's Jasmine Wright traveling with the president in Delaware. But first, CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins me live from Moscow. Fred, good morning.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Laura. And a lot of new information coming out over the weekend and also today as well.

The Russians are saying -- in the form of Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Vladimir Putin -- that they are not sure whether those security talks with the United States are going to yield any sort of new agreement. But Peskov, in an interview with CNN, said that right now, the U.S. and Russia, as he put it, are on completely different tracks. And he also called that disturbing as well.

The Russians, of course, as saying they want security guarantees from the U.S. and its allies, namely no more NATO eastward expansion. And also, that Ukraine would never become a NATO member either. The Russians are saying not because they're afraid of Ukraine but they are afraid that NATO could put weapons that could hurt Russia into Ukraine.

The U.S. is obviously saying that if Russia uses those troops it has amassed on the border there to invade Ukraine any further, that would have serious consequences.

One of the things that we found out this morning, by the way -- we were on a call with the Kremlin spokesman again and he said some of those suggestions that we heard that Russia would, for instance, not rule out putting nuclear weapons in places like Cuba or Venezuela -- he said keep in mind those are sovereign countries. So he did seem to pour some cold water over that suggestion.

Nevertheless, right now, it certainly seems as though the tensions are building up rather than letting off, guys.

JARRETT: Fred, thank you for your reporting, as usual.

So let's get the White House angle on this. What is President Biden prepared to do to stop Putin from invading Ukraine? Let's bring in CNN's Jasmine Wright on this. Jasmine, what are you hearing from the White House? What are you hearing from your sources?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Laura, White House officials have been really clear that they are ready to impose severe and overwhelming economic consequences against Russia if it does invade Ukraine. They say they will be big, high-impact -- more severe than what Russia has seen before and really able to impact everyday life.

Now, one thing that we haven't heard from U.S. officials yet is who is -- official attribution -- AKA who is behind the latest cyberattack in Ukraine?

Now, national security adviser Jake Sullivan -- he said yesterday that he wouldn't be surprised if Russia was behind it as it is part of their playbook. But he wouldn't go any further than that when talking about sanctions for the specific cyberattack. He said he wanted to wait for attribution.

Now, one thing that he did say, Laura, is that for him, a metric of success after all of these diplomatic talks is whether or not the U.S. ends up in a better strategic position and that Russia ends up in a worse strategic position. He said that's a test that doesn't happen over a day but it happens over weeks and months. But one thing that is clear here, Laura, is that while that test happens over weeks and months, between -- before then, President Biden has a lot at stake and he is going to be judged, especially if Russia does really defy the U.S. and defy his instruction and invade Ukraine.

And so, there is a lot on the line for this president as he heads to mark his first year in office on Wednesday -- Laura.

JARRETT: A lot on his plate, foreign and domestic.

Jasmine, thank you.

Joining me now to discuss all of this, CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger. He's also, of course, a White House national security correspondent for "The New York Times." David, nice to see you this morning.

Do you think President Biden should proceed as Putin continues to move in on Ukraine? A lot of tough talk here but at a certain point, it's not going to be enough.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES (via Webex by Cisco): That's probably right and I think there is some doubt even within the administration about whether the tough talk and the threat of sanctions is going to be enough to deter him.


And they're stuck in a sort of odd place here. One of Putin's major demands is that Ukraine never join NATO. Well, never is a long time but Ukraine isn't joining NATO anytime soon. So it sounds like there could be some room there. And another big demand is working out something to keep American nuclear weapons at some distance. Well, that's what we had in past treaties. It's possible you could imagine that being renegotiated.

JARRETT: David, at the same time, we also saw this rare show of strength from the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region over the weekend -- this nuclear-powered submarine carrying 20 ballistic missiles and dozens of nuclear warheads. What message do you think the U.S. is trying to send adversaries in the region with this showing of strength?

SANGER: Well, you know, our nuclear submarines have patrolled the Pacific for a long time but usually, you don't see them. Here, there's sort of a double message going on I think.

One, of course, is to China at a moment that there is an effort by the Chinese, again, to push the U.S. sort of out to the next island chain and make sure that they are seen as the dominant power in the region. But the second is to North Korea, which has picked the past four or five days -- or really, the past couple of weeks to shoot off a number of their different missiles there for a long moratorium and a reminder that this show of frustration on their part that they haven't gotten the world's attention can be responded to.

I'm not sure these kinds of demonstrations have the effect that we thought 20 years ago but maybe they do.

JARRETT: David, it feels like the president is getting cornered somewhat -- you mention by China, Russia, and rivals around the globe. Is it time for the administration to do sort of a reset if you will, or is this sort of just bad timing on a lot of different fronts?

SANGER: Well look, I think we've got a couple of things going on.

The first is China has been more aggressive, more upfront in pushing its role in the Indo-Pacific and around the world than anybody expected. That started really during the last of the Obama years and proceeded through the Trump years. And I think you're now seeing the full flowering of it.

I think that Putin's move on Ukraine and his broad demands right now -- that was a bit of a surprise to everybody. And he is probably sensing a bit of the president's weakness here at home or at least the fact that the president is dealing with so many different issues, from COVID to the economy at home.

And so, you know, it's a moment where the president has got to recognize that his own prescription, which is building strength at home is the key to building it abroad, is really where he's got to start.

JARRETT: He certainly has a lot going on at the same time, but he is the president.

David Sanger, CNN political and national security analyst. Thank you, David -- appreciate it. SANGER: Thank you very much. Great to be with you.

JARRETT: Now to this.

In the U.K., the 'Partygate' scandal has Prime Minister Boris Johnson clinging to his job. He's facing growing calls to resign after news emerged of numerous parties at Downing Street while the rest of the U.K. was in lockdown.

CNN's Nina dos Santos joins me live from London. Nina, good morning. Can the prime minister survive all of these crises just one after another?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Good morning to you, Laura.

Well, at the moment, because of the mechanics of how you unseat a conservative prime minister -- meaning that you have to have at least 53 letters expressing in writing no confidence by members of his elected party -- it looks as though we're not quite at that point yet. It might be premature to say that his premiership is almost over but certainly, the wheels are coming off a little bit and the car is going faster and faster downhill.

That's the sense here at Downing Street amid yet more outrage at yet more allegations of these parties that have been taking place during lockdown, including a couple of parties that it seems have taken place at a time when the nation and the queen was mourning the death of Prince Philip. And, indeed, parties that might have taken place here just hours before the queen was about to walk down the aisle in the chapel where the funeral was taking place for her husband of 74 years -- on her own because of those social distancing regulations.

Now, that has prompted outrage across the British public. It's prompted a number of members of the ruling Conservative Party to demand Boris Johnson resign from office. We're not quite at that point yet but you can expect more kind of policy changes over the next few weeks to reset the narrative, and also some staff who may have broken the rules to go as well, Laura.

JARRETT: Nina, helpful to understand the context and the process there. Thank you.

Well, an erupting underwater volcano in the South Pacific captured in these spectacular satellite images, triggering tsunamis in Hawaii, Japan, and Tonga's largest island.


Let's bring back in meteorologist Tyler Mauldin. Tyler, the pictures are just remarkable here.

TYLER MAULDIN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, take a look at the satellite image right behind me. You can see that huge eruption on Saturday. That ash cloud was lofted into the air -- 43,000 to about 63,000 feet up into the air. And now it is pushing west and on Monday, pushed over Queensland. So

it's now moving over Australia. What it's doing is giving way to some poor air quality, unfortunately, but also some beautiful sunrises and sunsets here in Australia. No threat to aviation, though, at this time.

Now, the eruption was -- get this -- 6,000 miles away is Fairbanks, Alaska. The -- this -- we were able to find sound -- or pick up on sound all the way up to the observatory there in Fairbanks, Alaska. And just to add to this, it was so powerful the shockwave was recorded all the way into the U.K. So just really crazy stuff.

JARRETT: Just incredible. Tyler, thank you. Appreciate you coming back.

Still ahead for you, Prince Harry locked in a legal fight over paying for his security in the U.K. Why he wants to foot the bill himself.

And a moving television tribute to Bob Saget after his sudden death.



JARRETT: Now to a legal battle that has Prince Harry says he's keeping from visiting his family in Great Britain. It's over a dispute about a U.K. government policy that prevents the prince from paying for his own police protection when he's in Britain. Now the matter goes before the courts there.

CNN's Max Foster joins me live from London to explain it all. So, Max, Harry says he wants to take his kids over to see their grandmother. He wants to take them over for a visit but it's too dangerous. And he's pointing to some scary incidents in the past.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So he's saying that since they -- he and the duchess left their royal roles there have been threats of extremists, but also fixated individuals. And, therefore, they need police support if they come over to the U.K. Their private security won't be enough.

Now, this story came out because a British tabloid got access to some of the information they -- and the Sussexes wanted to make sure it was all right, they say. And what they're saying is that they are taking the home office, which is responsible for all of this, to judicial review on their decision not to provide or to let Harry pay for police support.

So that's the essence of what's happening here and it explains why the Sussexes haven't been back over to the U.K.

But at the same time, there are those saying this can't be allowed. It sets a bad precedent. It basically means that the British police are effectively guns for hire for any celebrities that want to come over to the United Kingdom. So, there's two sides to this debate. But it certainly -- it's created some bad blood, particularly when the Sussexes are pointing towards the family, in a way, in this. Because they say they first started talking about this when they first started talking to the family about leaving the royal roles and the terms of that.

JARRETT: And you remember all the talk about the security issues in that explosive interview that the couple did with Oprah last year. So we will see what the courts do on this.

Max, thank you for your reporting -- appreciate it.

The tributes continue to pour in for beloved comedian Bob Saget who died unexpectedly last week -- the latest one from the 90s hit show that he hosted first, "AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS."

CNN's Chloe Melas joins me live on this. Chloe, the team at "AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS" had so much material to work from of what they call Bob being Bob.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (via Webex by Cisco): You know, if you guys remember, back when Bob Saget was starring on "FULL HOUSE" he was also simultaneously starring on another hit show, "AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS." He starred as the host of that show for eight seasons. That's 1989 to 1997.

And they did this amazing compilation of some of his best moments. Take a look.


ALFONSO RIBEIRO, HOST, "AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS": As you've heard, the world lost a legend last week and "AFV" lost a family member. Bob Saget is synonymous with "AFV" to this day and this show wouldn't have been the same without his unique sense of humor. It's been my honor to continue carrying the torch Bob so brightly lit.

Take a look back at Bob being Bob.

"Bob being Bob" -- a montage of clips of comical moments from Saget's time hosting the show.


MELAS: That song, you guys, brings me back to my --

JARRETT: I know.

MELAS: -- early childhood watching that with my family. It makes me so nostalgic. That was Alfonso Ribeiro who is now the host of the show.


MELAS: But, yes, so many tributes. And his funeral was over the weekend, so a lot of people have taken to social media. I also just want to mention on a different note in case you guys were wondering if "Spider-Man" topped the box office this weekend -- guys, it has been dethroned. Can I tell what movie is now number one -- "Scream."

JARRETT: Wow, the reboot.

MELAS: "Scream" is number one. They have made over $30 million at the North American box office. It has far exceeded any expectation that the movie was going to do.

I had actually interviewed David Arquette, if you guys remember, on CNN's --


MELAS: -- New Year's Eve special.

The gang is back together -- Courtney Cox, Neve Campbell, David Arquette. And, you know, I've just got to find out who is Ghostface killer. I haven't seen it yet, OK? I need to find out.


JARRETT: I haven't seen it yet either but I know the reviews say it's excellent, so got to do that.


JARRETT: All right, Chloe. Thanks so much -- appreciate it.

MELAS: Thank you.

JARRETT: All right, thanks so much for joining me, everyone. I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" is next with the latest on this winter storm making travel tricky in big cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Thanks so much.