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Biden To Meet With Poland's President And Delivery Speech; Two Supreme Court Cases This Week That Could Upend The Entire Internet; LAPD Arrest Suspect In Death Of Prominent Catholic Priest. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired February 21, 2023 - 05:30   ET




CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. President Biden is in Warsaw, Poland this morning following his surprise and historic visit Monday to Ukraine's capital of Kyiv.

In just a few hours he will meet privately with Poland's President Duda. Later he'll deliver a speech ahead of the first anniversary of the Russian invasion. National security adviser Jake Sullivan says the president's remarks will be more than just a rebuttal to the speech Vladimir Putin just gave in Moscow.

I want to bring in senior political correspondent at The New Republic, Daniel Strauss. Daniel, so nice to see you this morning.


ROMANS: You know, following the announcement of new military aid to Ukraine, what do you think is the significance of this for the president's trip to Poland?

STRAUSS: I mean, it's clear that this is something of a doubling down by the president and the Biden administration, especially in response to Vladimir Putin's speech. It's clear that he wants to establish that the United States and -- is fully in lockstep with Ukraine and its NATO allies on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I mean, he can't overtly say that but it's clear from the back-and-forth that this is the message that he's trying to convey.

ROMANS: So the president, from the right-wing of the Republican Party, drawing some criticism for taking this trip to support Ukraine instead of they say, for example, taking care of matters at home like the East Palestine train derailment.

What do you make of that criticism considering the 2024 reelection is right around the corner here?

STRAUSS: I mean, look, the -- I think former President Obama said it very well during his first campaign for president, which is that presidents have to carry and juggle multiple crises at the same time, and I think that's what we're seeing here.

I'm not surprised that Republicans are criticizing Biden on East Palestine because that is something that he is vulnerable on, but if it weren't East Palestine it would be something else. The real focus here -- the real point of this is just to soften him up as the Republican presidential primary finally gets underway and keep him on the defensive as much as he can.

We have not seen the current president go to East Palestine to address the train derailment there or the consequences of what's going on. But I think that this is an administration that's taking that very seriously and we're going to see that in the coming days and weeks.

ROMANS: There's also Marjorie Taylor Greene, a congresswoman from Georgia. She's proposing this, quote, "A national divorce" in the United States. She said this on Twitter. You can see it right there. "We need a national divorce. We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government."


You know, she's from Georgia, it occurs to us, where Joe Biden won and Raphael Warnock won -- two Democrats. So this doesn't make much since -- this divorce -- for kind of a few reasons, right?

STRAUSS: Yes, and it's a little surprising because even -- sort of, even figures on the far-right like Steve Bannon have said this is a dumb idea. I am not sure.

I've seen throughout yesterday that Republicans -- Republican operatives have been saying that this was at the very best a poorly crafted statement sentence and at worst nonsensical. But it falls in line with Marjorie Taylor Greene always sort of catering to people who --


STRAUSS: -- want to take extreme and outlandish measures. So I think that's what we're seeing here.

ROMANS: More provocateur than policy wonk. I think that is her reputation in Washington for sure.


ROMANS: Daniel Strauss, thank you so much. Nice to see you this morning.

And again, that Putin speech is still happening right now so we're going to continue to monitor that.

All right. Meantime, to Michigan where Republicans have chosen an election denier to lead their party. Kristina Karamo has been selected as the next chair of the Michigan Republican Party. She lost last year's secretary of state race and she has not conceded. She is a former community college professor and has falsely claimed Donald Trump won Michigan in the 2020 election. She also spread the conspiracy theory that left-wing anarchists were behind the Capitol insurrection on January 6.

This morning the Supreme Court is set to hear two cases that could break the internet. At issue, whether tech platforms and social media companies can be sued for hosting or promoting content. It could lead to major changes at sites, including Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube.

CNN's Brian Fung is following this for us. He joins me from D.C. this morning. Brian, so nice to see you this morning.

How could these cases, I guess, alter how the internet is regulated?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: That's a great question, Christine. These are two really important cases being argued this week at the Supreme Court. One is being argued by Twitter, the other by Google.

This first case, Gonzalez v. Google, is all about whether or not YouTube can be sued by the family of an American killed in a 2015 ISIS attack and over YouTube videos that were created by ISIS and recommended to users by YouTube.

The plaintiffs in this case -- the family of Nohemi Gonzalez -- that American student who was killed in a 2015 attack -- say Google should be held legally responsible for that attack for recommending those videos. But Google says it's immune from that lawsuit because of a federal law known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. And that law protects the right of websites and tech platforms to moderate their websites as they see fit. In other words, Google says it's not responsible and it can't be sued.

Now, for years, tech platforms have used Section 230 to nip these sorts of lawsuits in the bud, effectively ending them before they can even get off the ground. But now, for the first time, the Supreme Court is set to review this law and determine just how far its protections really extend. Do they cover the sorts of algorithms that make recommendations that YouTube makes when it recommends videos to its user? In this case ISIS videos to people who may be susceptible or interested in terrorist-related content.

The -- if the court comes down with a ruling that comes against Google that could be a really big deal because critics of the social media industry say it could create more opportunities for lawsuits and accountability. And those who are defenders of the industry say it could be really bad for the internet undermining a really foundational pillar of how tech companies rank, sort, order content on their websites and forcing them potentially to change their operations in a dramatic way -- Christine.

ROMANS: Yes. The first big court test of that Section 230 -- fascinating. We know you're following it for us. Brian Fung, thank you so much.

All right. New this morning, at least 14 people were injured, two of them critically, after this explosion and fire at a metal factory in Oakwood, Ohio. The blast sent a plume of smoke into the sky that could be seen for miles. Officials are investigating the cause.

This morning, police have a suspect in custody following the fatal shooting of a prominent Catholic bishop. Bishop David O'Connell was found at his home in Los Angeles this past weekend. Authorities say the victim knew the suspect.

CNN's Camila Bernal has more.


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 65-year-old man arrested in relation to the killing of Los Angeles Bishop David O'Connell.

ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF: This is the husband of the bishop's housekeeper and the suspect had previously done work around the bishop's residence.


BERNAL (voice-over): Less than two days after the bishop was shot and killed in his home a tip led investigators to Carlos Medina.

LUNA: Detectives were told by the tipster that they were concerned because Medina was acting strange, irrational, and made comments about the bishop owing him money.

BERNAL (voice-over): The L.A. County sheriff says the suspect's wife is cooperating with the investigation.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Catholic community mourning and still in shock at the loss of the beloved bishop.

RAMONA TORRES, PARISHIONER: It's just heartbreaking to see what happened to him. I'm brokenhearted. I've been crying for the last few days knowing that he's no longer here to share all his inspiration and his prayers and everything with us.

BERNAL (voice-over): The Los Angeles archbishop, Jose Gomez, describing O'Connell as a man of deep prayer. O'Connell, who was from Ireland, is also being remembered for his love for the poor and the immigrant community and his humor.

BISHOP DAVID O'CONNELL: OK, they told me that I haven't changed a bit since 1984. I said I didn't know I looked so bad in 1984. (Laughing)

BERNAL (voice-over): The archbishop now asking for prayers for O'Connell, his family, and for law enforcement as they continue the investigation.

TORRES: Now I know that he's in the presence of God praying for all of us for peace. We need peace.

BERNAL (on camera): And authorities say they found two firearms and possibly evidence connecting Medina to the crime. The firearms still have to be tested but the L.A. County sheriff saying they're continuing to look into the connection and into any other evidence that will link this man to the crime as their goal is a criminal prosecution.

Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.


ROMANS: All right, Camila. Thank you.

Mortgage rates ticking back up again. What it means for the housing market and home prices ahead.



ROMANS: All right, your Romans' Numeral this morning, 720 -- as in $720 is the increase in the typical monthly mortgage payment for a new home loan for an existing family -- single-family home. That's compared with a year ago. It's up every month, right? That's a 58 percent jump because of higher mortgage rates, right? The number is making the affordability picture even harder for many homebuyers.

Looking at markets around the world right now, Asian markets ended mixed this morning. Hong Kong down pretty sharply. European markets opening lower here.

And U.S. stocks were closed for the Presidents Day holiday. Futures are down this morning -- Nasdaq bearing the brunt of it here.

We have a very busy week ahead on the economic calendar. We get minutes from the Fed's February meeting. There's a revision to GDP that will be critical to watch. Jobless claims, and we're going to get PCE. That's the Fed's favorite inflation measure.

And then this, a critical read on the consumer. Walmart and Home Depot will report earnings before the markets open this morning so we'll be watching that.

On inflation watch, gas prices fell a penny overnight, now at $3.40 a gallon.

All right, let's bring in Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens. It's a real estate company with 3,000 agents in Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. All right, nice to see you this morning.

BESS FREEDMAN, CEO, BROWN HARRIS STEVENS: Good morning, Christine. Great to see you.

ROMANS: We were in the break talking all things real estate because we both really love that. Well, it's your business and I --

FREEDMAN: Everybody likes to talk real estate. At every party that's all the people want to talk to me about is real estate.

ROMANS: Especially now with mortgage rates ticking up two weeks in a row --


ROMANS: -- about 6.32 percent.

What do you make of the mortgage rates here? Are they dissuading people from wanting to buy, or are we getting -- are we normalizing that we're not going to have three percent anymore?

FREEDMAN: We're normalizing. I think everybody has started to accept the fact that the two and three-percent mortgage rates are gone. And I think this was the only way to really quell inflation and get it receding --

ROMANS: Right.

FREEDMAN: -- in the right direction. I think consumers are accepting that.

Having said that, it has slowed down the market a little bit because we're seeing buyers are kind of waiting it out and trying to figure out what's going to happen -- might they tick down. But I think this is where we're going to be for quite some time and people need to accept it.

ROMANS: Didn't you make the point last time you were on that 2021 was like the best year in human history for real estate?

FREEDMAN: It was. I say it was caviar and champagne, and it was celebration, and it was tons of money. Everybody was spending. A tsunami of cash in the economy. Those days are over. We're back to normal times and people have to kind of reset and get read for that.

ROMANS: So overall -- we haven't seen a price crash. Overall prices are still rising. In the fourth quarter they were up I think four percent. But there are some cities seeing some significant declines -- some of the hottest cities. San Francisco, for example.

How -- do you call this a slowdown? Is this a housing recession? What's happening here?

FREEDMAN: Christine, I don't think it's a recession. I think it's a slowdown and we've been -- that's been in the works since the summer of '22. Things have started to slow down.

The Hamptons is another market that's slowed down incredibly. Palm Beach, but because of lack of supply and prices ticking up.

And I think every market is different. As we were talking about New Jersey -- Montclair -- you know, Hoboken and certain areas those markets are hot. People are waiting in line to get in to see things. There's bidding wars. And there's other markets that are a little bit slower and prices are sort of adjusting.

So not every market -- it's not one-size-fits-all. It just depends on where you are. ROMANS: Is part of that supply problem because if you're sitting

there with a 3 1/2 percent mortgage you're not really going to switch right now? You're going to just stay in your house.

FREEDMAN: Yes. I mean, think about it. Eighty-five percent of homeowners who have mortgages have under five percent mortgages. So if you're comfortable -- I was just talking to somebody who was like oh, I got 2 1/2 percent. They are going to be very careful. They're going to be very circumspect and not just go out there and refinance or get another mortgage because they have a great rate for a good time.

And it's not going down to two or three, I don't think, in 2023. I don't know what will happen in '24.


FREEDMAN: I think this is where we are and that's OK.

ROMANS: We'll probably have more rate hikes, so we'll have to see. Right now mortgage rates have been more reflecting the inflation curve, not necessarily the Fed's curve.

But what is your advice, I guess, to sellers? I mean, do they need to be, like, renovating and doing stuff for the first time?


FREEDMAN: I mean, I think sellers need to get their homes ready for sale, meaning declutter and make it look its best.

It's like a first date. You want to look your best. You want people to walk in the door and go wow. You don't want to walk in and like have a mud mask on and curlers in your hair. You have to look your absolute best and that way people will be interested.

But don't spend money doing renovation because people want to come in and customize it. If it needs work let people do their own work.

ROMANS: OK, that's good advice.

Bess, nice to see you.

FREEDMAN: Good to see you, Christine.

ROMANS: Thank you so much. All things real estate with Bess Freedman. Thank you.

All right. Next, a big win for actor Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting on the set of the movie "Rust." What it means for a possible prison sentence if he were to be convicted.



ROMANS: All right, millions of Americans bracing for a coast-to-coast winter storm this week. It's set to bring heavy snow, dangerous winds, possible blizzard conditions. Some will also feel the coldest temperatures of the season.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has the forecast. And Chad, you're from Nebraska, I'm from Iowa.


ROMANS: It takes a lot to shock me, but I saw an insane snow forecast for Minnesota.

MYERS: Yes. I mean, 20 to 30 inches, even in the Twin Cities.


MYERS: Maybe a little bit south of there. The only thing that could keep that number down is if sleet or some freezing rain mixed in.

Here is the storm right now into parts of Idaho and parts of Montana. This is where the initial blizzard warnings are going to be. Winds are going to 50. Snow is going to be heavy -- two to three inches per hour at times.

Move you ahead to later on this afternoon, it doesn't sneak into Denver just yet but certainly all of Wyoming. And then it stretches out and gets across parts of the Midwest. So, South Dakota, parts of Nebraska, Iowa, even into Minnesota and Wisconsin, and this is where the heaviest snow will be.

Now there's even a chance of some severe weather on the warm side. Sometimes that can happen when there's a lot of cold air here and warm air down here. It'll be in the 70s all across the Deep South today. That's enough warm air to get some of that potential for severe weather going by later on this afternoon, but mainly tomorrow and into Thursday.

Look at this stripe of snow. Big pink areas here. Some spots 20 to 30 across southern Minnesota.

This is the area here though there will be an ice storm. We have to watch this 20 or 30 miles either way -- Detroit, Toledo. Boy, that's going to be power outage city there.

ROMANS: Wow, that's something.

All right, Chad Myers. Thank you so much for that.

MYERS: You're welcome.

ROMANS: New Mexico prosecutors dropping a firearm enhancement charge against Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting on the set of the movie "Rust." Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died in 2021 after she was shot in the chest by a prop gun fired by Baldwin. The move reduces the amount of prison time Baldwin could face if convicted on manslaughter charges.

Similar charges against the film's armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were also downgraded.

All right, Michigan State men's basketball team is set to play its first home game tonight since last week's tragic on-campus shooting.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Carolyn.


ROMANS: Emotional.

MANNO: Yes, as you might expect. I mean, this is just going to be a very difficult, emotional night. It hasn't been that long. I mean, the Spartans returning to their home court to face number 17 Indiana, but it's been eight days since that shooting took the lives of three students and hospitalized five others.

Coach Tom Izzo sharing his thoughts with reporters yesterday.


TOM IZZO, MICHIGAN STATE MEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: The last seven days will be a hell of a chapter in anybody's book. My book would be small compared to the parents that lost their kids and the ones that are fighting for them. It would be very small.

It will be a day I'll never forget. And there's been a few in my lifetime that as they say. For me, I know where I was when John F. Kennedy died. I know where I was on 9/11. I know where I was when I got the news of what happened here.


MANNO: Students returned to classes for the first time yesterday. All campus events have been postponed in the wake of that horrific tragedy, including last Wednesday's game against Minnesota. And so far, no makeup date has been announced for that game.

Elsewhere in sports this morning, the Toronto Blue Jays play their first spring training game on Saturday but the team already has its first save of the season. Listen to this, Christine. Manager John Schneider was having lunch with his wife over the weekend at a restaurant near the team facility in Florida when he noticed a woman choking and struggling to breathe. He went over and performed the Heimlich maneuver, which he said he learned all the way back in sixth grade, ultimately saving the woman's life.

Afterwards, the 43-year-old skipper received a free beer for his heroic efforts and saved the woman's life in the process. Not bad for the weekend.

And the Washington Capitals had a special guest at practice yesterday. This is 12-year-old Liam. He was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer back in December. His wish was to skate with his favorite team. And with his mom and his whole family watching, Liam putting a couple of pucks in the back of the net as well against goalie Darcy Kuemper.

Take a listen to this.


LIAM REIGEL, 12-YEAR-OLD CAPITALS FAN: It was great. I kind of felt like a substitution for Ovechkin and I was doing a bunch of one-timers and stuff.

BILL REIGEL, LIAM'S FATHER: To see him out on the ice after what we've been through is just -- it's hard to put it into words and be able to have him smile on the ice with the guys who were so supportive. It's amazing. It's actually amazing.


MANNO: Very sweet. The Capitals have invited Liam and his family to tonight's game against the Red Wings. He's going to announce the starting lineup to the players, Christine, before the game. He's going to sit on the team's bench during warm-ups, too.

ROMANS: He's a good little skater.

MANNO: I love the confidence. Very sweet.

ROMANS: A good little skater, too. All right --


ROMANS: -- we wish his family the best.

MANNO: We do.

ROMANS: Thanks, Carolyn Manno.

All right, just ahead on "CNN THIS MORNING" much more of our coverage of dueling speeches from President Biden and Vladimir Putin. Putin, who has just wrapped up a marathon address in Moscow. Putin delivering a tirade against the West, condemning the U.S. and its NATO allies as terrorists and accusing the West of starting the war in Ukraine.


Thanks for joining me. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.