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Isa Soares Tonight

Republicans Scramble To Elect U.S. House Speaker; Russia Appears To Blame Own Troops For Makiivka Attack; NFL Player Damar Hamlin Reportedly Shows Signs Of Improvement After Cardiac Arrest; NFL's Damar Hamlin Remains In Critical Condition; Moody's Expects A "Slowcession" In 2023; Iranian Drone Parts Made In U.S. And Western Countries; Thousands Of Rohingyas Fleeing Desperate Conditions In Refugee Camps; January Heat Records Smashed Across Europe. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 04, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, a standoff in the seat of U.S. democracy

as Republicans scramble to elect a house speaker. Then, a shocking turn as Moscow appears to blame its own troops for a deadly attack that killed

dozens of Russian servicemen. And there is reason for optimism.

We are live in Buffalo with an update on football star Damar Hamlin's condition. But first tonight, political paralysis in the U.S. house as

congressional Republicans struggle yet again to elect a speaker. For the fourth time in two days, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has suffered

defeat, and now a fifth vote you're looking at there is underway.

But hard-line conservative Republicans don't appear to be budging in the opposition to him despite of course, intense efforts and horse trading et

cetera, to try to persuade them. The Republican who nominated McCarthy earlier tried to tamp down perceptions that his party is out of control.

Have a listen.


REP. MICHAEL GALLAGHER (R-WI): I think my friends on the Democratic side misunderstand what's happening here. Sure, it looks messy. But democracy is

messy. Democracy is messy. By design. By design. And that's a feature -- that's a feature, not a bug of our system. We air it all out in the open

for the American people to see.


SOARES: Opposition to McCarthy is personal that his opponents simply don't like him, and nothing will convince them to change their votes. It's led to

a historic stalemate in the house, has not been seen in 100 years. CNN's congressional correspondent Jessica Dean is on the Capitol Hill for us. So

Jessica, going for a fifth round, it does not look good I think it's fair to say for Kevin McCarthy. His allies must be frustrated. What are his

options now?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, the options are he can continue going forward with these votes. But look, we've been

watching this. You just laid it all out, and some of these votes, he's actually losing support. So it doesn't look like he's going in the right

direction. And what a lot of his allies have been saying is they have patience for him for it to go through all of this.

But it's not limitless. They want to see some progress today. And so far, we have not seen progress. He hasn't brought anyone over to his side. In

fact, his opposition has become even more entrenched and really determined to not back down. So really, this is a staring contest at this point and

each side is willing the other to blink.

And it's just simply not happening. And so what that means is we're just at a stalemate, and no members have been sworn in. They cannot begin their

committee work. This is really putting everything in a holding pattern. And certainly, it is showing the house GOP, the message that it's sending to

the American people is you've given them power and this is what they've done with it.

They cannot elect a speaker. And at this point, there is no end in sight, eventually, this will get solved. But it's just a question of how long will

this go on? One member saying just a little bit ago, well, this could take a few days or maybe even weeks. So we just don't know at this point,

somebody is going to have to give in, and nobody wants to do that right now.

SOARES: Who is going to blink first? Look, ironically, Jessica, over in Kentucky, President Biden and Republican Mitch McConnell have been touting

really what we're not seeing here, which is bipartisanship following the Infrastructure Bill. I want you to have a listen to what President Biden

said before departing the White House. Have a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's not my problem. I think it's even embarrassing it's taken so long in the way they're dealing with

one another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do you think the speaker is going to be?

BIDEN: I have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, is there any part of you that enjoys seeing the other party have such a hard time?

BIDEN: No, and I really mean this. It's not a good look. It's not a good thing. This is the United States of America, and I hope they get their act


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what's going to happen if there is no speaker for a week or a month? What's the impact?


SOARES: So what is the impact? The President saying that's not a good look What does a paralyze house, Jessica, mean for the running of daily business

in the U.S.?

DEAN: Right, I mean, the other things that they need to do, not to mention the GOP agenda. What got them elected. What they ran on is totally stalled.

Again, ultimately they're going to have to work through this. But what it is indicative of in terms of a bigger picture is how much will the GOP be

able to get done if part of their party is going to fight them at every turn.


And one thing that we're kind of looking ahead down the line to is that, at some point, Congress is going to have to vote on raising the debt limit.

Which is a very serious, has incredibly serious financial implications. And if those hard-liners do this with that, we could be looking at absolute

financial chaos.

That is one thing if you talk to lawmakers both on the Senate side and in the house side. That they are increasingly concerned about. Is what does

this say about things moving forward? And stuff that they are, you know, items that they are typically expected to do just to run the company -- the

country. Keep it going, if they can't get a speaker elected.

And that is the concern as everyone moves forward. And one more thing worth noting, it is no mistake that Mitch McConnell is going to Kentucky with

President Biden. He is -- he and Kevin McCarthy approach their leadership in very different ways, and find themselves recently especially on very

opposite sides of these issues.

In terms of funding the government, Mitch McConnell really supporting that gain, that big funding deal passed, Kevin McCarthy was whipping against it.

And so, this is just another example of how these two Republican leaders run very different --

SOARES: Yes --

DEAN: Leadership styles.

SOARES: Indeed, and we'll keep an eye on this fifth speaker vote. And of course, as more -- as soon as we get more details, we shall bring them to

you, to our audience. Jessica Dean, appreciate it, thank you very much --

DEAN: Yes --

SOARES: Jessica. So, is there any way really for Republicans to get out of this impasse as Jessica was really outlining there? CNN's political

commentator Alice Stewart is a Republican strategist, and was communication director for Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz. And she joins me now.

And Alice, you know, Alice, you are just a perfect voice we need today to try to make sense of what's happening. So just explain to our audience

right around the world, Alice, why these Republicans, these rebels are digging in so strongly against McCarthy here?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Isa, it appears to be more of a personal issue than a policy issue. And I've seen the headlines across

the globe and they are very similar. The U.S. house is in chaos. And it is all down to a small minority of fringe Republicans. Look, Republicans

worked extremely hard to win back control of the house and gain a majority in the house.

But the problem is, a majority that is not united is not a majority. We have a small number of Republicans who clearly have a problem with Kevin

McCarthy and will not support him. And it is extremely frustrating for those who fought so hard on the issues and they are making this a personal

problem for them in terms of rallying together. And here's the key issue.

Ronald Reagan said that in terms of being a Republican, someone can be an 80 percent -- agree with you on 80 percent of the issues, and that makes

him a friend and an ally, not a 20 percent trader. And unfortunately, these people have got in their heads that Kevin McCarthy is someone that cannot

be trusted and should not have their support in order to move forward.

And with this, if we can't get a speaker, we cannot make committee assignments. We cannot legislate and we can't put forward the policies that

people elected Republicans to do. Look, some of these holdouts, Chip Roy in particular, a congressman from Texas has valid issues.

He has valid concerns about outrageous spending, about the Omnibus Bill, about securing the border and about freedoms. Unfortunately, their valid

concerns are being watered down with this public spat with Kevin McCarthy. And at some point, someone's going to have to realize either they need to

blink and give in on Kevin McCarthy or Kevin McCarthy needs to recognize we may need a consensus candidate that all Republicans can get behind and also

work across the aisle to actually get things done.

SOARES: I mean, if this is personal, Alice, I mean, if this never Kevin group see this very personal area. Is there any incentive for them? Is

there anything that McCarthy can offer to kind of shake-loose at least some of these holdouts, do you think? Because he has already made some

concessions, has he not?

STEWART: He certainly has. And they can't take yes for an answer is the problem. They wanted certain rules changes. They wanted specific aspects

that they said would make them happy. One in particular is a rules change that would allow them to vote on vacating the speaker. Which would in

essence make the speaker position very volatile, and he would be walking on eggshells, any time five members disagreed with him, they could vote him

out of the speaker position.

So that was a ridiculous concession, in my view on McCarthy's part. But it just goes to show they have not been negotiating in good faith. They have

been dishonest and they're negotiating with him. And saying that if he came around on certain issues, they would support him, and then they moved the


So, he has conceded to a lot of their requests, but nothing clearly will make them happy. And it is not about policies, it's not about rules, it's

about the person that they are voting for.


And we're seeing time and time again, as we are now into our -- going into the fifth vote. Kevin McCarthy is actually losing support. So, this is not

going in the right direction for Kevin McCarthy. And at some point, he's going to have to recognize this is doing a long-term damage to Republicans'

ability to get things done.

SOARES: Yes, what I'm seeing now is that he doesn't seem, Alice, to have got the votes this fifth round. So who blinks first? I mean, and what is

their alternative? We can keep going at this, right? A 100 years ago, it took six what? Six rounds or so. We can continue at this. Is there an

alternative because I remember that the 20 defectors late last night wanted Jim Jordan, he voted for McCarthy, he doesn't want the job. So what are the

options here? What's the compromise?

STEWART: I've spoken with many members on the house, Republicans in the house has spoken with many conservative groups, social evangelical groups.

And the name I continue to hear is Congressman Steve Scalise out of Louisiana. He is someone that can work across the aisle, certainly with

Democrats. He is more moderate.

He is the kind of Republican that many say you can have a disagreement with him and you talk it out and you still are friends, and you still are able

to work together. He is the kind of person, as they say, that does not kick a barking dog, and just because you are opposing him, he's not going to

permanently cast you aside.

He will have a disagreement, you will agree to disagree and work together on the policy. And Steve Scalise is someone who has been very committed to

the conservative principles. And that's the key issue here, is the holdouts, and this fringe minority in the Republican Party are truly not

doing a service to the conservative principles that they are elected to serve.

And the problem is, it's worth noting. In the midterm elections, voters categorically rejected this fringe element. Rejected people --

SOARES: Yes --

STEWART: Who denied the election results and were conspiracy theorists. These people were a few of those that did get through. So, voters across

the country are rejecting this type of candidate. However, they do have the power if they are together in this small group to really hold things


And the key is finding someone that is palatable with them. The rational Republicans, they can also work with Democrats. Because they have to pass

things in the House that can get passed in the Senate.

SOARES: Yes --

STEWART: Or we're not going to get anywhere.

SOARES: It's such a good point, you know, where they stood and what the American people voted for, what they want to see, Alice. It's important to

point that out. Let me throw another alternative at you. Republican Don Baker told CNN today that preliminary talks are underway, Alice, with the

Democratic Party for a consensus speaker. I mean, is this a potential way out? Would you want to see something like this?

STEWART: Look, I think the most important thing that Republicans can do is elect someone and put someone in the speaker position that represents the

conservative values that the people of this country elected. And the key is, they have to appeal to this fringe element. They have to appeal to the

rational Republicans, the MAGA Republicans.

But they also have to have the ability to work across the aisle with Democrats in order to pass legislation that can actually pass in the Senate

as well. There are some names that are coming forward that are new to the house and have not been fully vetted. I think it's important to make sure

that we look at the background and the record of those that are being considered for this.

But certainly, a consensus candidate appears more and more with every passing vote to be the way that we're going to have to go, because it does

not appear that Kevin McCarthy is picking up any ground. So, a consensus candidate is not just best for Republicans --

SOARES: Yes --

STEWART: Or Democrats, but it's best for the country. So we can --

SOARES: Yes --

STEWART: Actually kick off and elect this 2023 session of Congress so they can get to work for the American people.

SOARES: And it does appear that McCarthy has lost the fifth speaker vote. We'll wait of course, for final confirmation. Alice Stewart, great to have

you on the show. Let's hope this is resolved soon. Thank you very much, Alice, appreciate it.

STEWART: Thank you, Isa.

SOARES: Now, in Russia, military commentators and pro Russian leaders are pushing back on an official Kremlin narrative. A rare event really in a

country which clamps down hard on dissent. The Kremlin now admits that 89 Russian servicemen were killed in an apparent Ukrainian strike in the

Russian occupied Donetsk region.

The Russian defense ministry is blaming the dead soldiers, saying they used their cellphones and invited the strike on themselves. While that is

sparking anger and disbelief even among those who support the Russian leadership. They say apathy from Russian military leaders is killing

soldiers and the true death toll in Makiivka is likely far higher.


Scott McLean joins me now from Kyiv. So Scott, I mean, this death toll is significantly lower than what the Ukrainians were reporting, I believe two

days ago, what? Four hundred or so. And nevertheless, it's one of the deadliest attacks I believe on Russian forces. What are you hearing from

the Ukrainian side today?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Isa. So a bit of context. Every day, the Ukrainian side and also the Russian side make claims about things

that they've struck and soldiers that they've killed. Sometimes those numbers are remarkably high. And typically, they are also remarkably

difficult to verify.

What makes the situation unique is that the Russians have acknowledged that this attack not only happened, but was extremely deadly as well. As you

mentioned, saying that the death toll is 89 right now, and that number may well rise as they continue to pick through the rubble and very likely will

find and identify more bodies.

What also makes this quite remarkable -- what also makes this quite remarkable is the fact that the Russians are in essence blaming their own

soldiers for their own deaths by saying that they were en masse using cell phones despite a ban on using them that close to the front lines.

Which essentially allowed the Ukrainians to very quickly triangulate and figure out where their precise location actually was. The bottom line is

that no one in Russia is describing this as anything but a failure. The Ministry of Defense says that those officers who allowed this to happen

will be held accountable. That is, if they survived that attack.


MCLEAN (voice-over): Digging through the debris of one of the deadliest strikes so far. Dozens of Russian conscripts were stationed in the school

that once stood here. They were killed just moments into the new year in an apparent Ukrainian attack, using U.S.-made HIMARS rocket launchers.

Now, diggers sift through what little remains of their barracks, while anger in some quarters of Russia grows. One lawmaker claimed the military

hadn't given the soldiers quote, "the proper level of security. Individuals should be held criminally liable", Sergei Meiranov(ph) said. On Wednesday,

Russian officials said bodies of 89 soldiers were found in Makiivka, an occupied city in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.

This would represent one of the worst Russian losses in a single episode of war. But the Ukrainians, and now, one top Russian military blogger,

suggests the figure could be higher. Earlier on Tuesday, Semyon Pegov or WarGonzo cast doubt on the official death toll, which then stood at 63.

"Despite the official statement of the Ministry of Defense", he said, "the exact number of casualties is still unknown." Some of the dead came from

Russia's southwest Samara region, state media reported. It showed mourners laying flowers for the victims. Meanwhile, Russia continues its air assault

on Ukraine.

This strike, Monday night, while a French reporter was on air, was part of a barrage of strikes in Druzhkivka near Kramatorsk. One of the strikes hit

a hockey rink, causing extensive damage inside. Russia may be down, but they're not out.


MCLEAN: And Isa, the Ukrainian military says when it comes to that Makiivka attack, the Russians are searching for someone to blame. And while

they say that, look, using your cellphone near the front line is usually not a very good idea, they say that the real reason was the Russians

inability to get relatively novice, inexperienced conscripts to the frontline covertly.

One other thing to mention, and that is that we also heard from the leader of Donetsk People's Republic who says that when that vocational school was

hit, after the initial blast, some of those soldiers actually managed to get out. Yet, instead of running for their lives, some actually went back

inside to try to save their fallen comrades. And the DPR leader says that some of those were killed. Isa?

SOARES: Scott McLean there for us this hour in Kyiv, thanks very much, Scott, appreciate it. Well, my next guest can help us breakdown this

reaction from Russia that Scott really laid out there. Steve Hall is a CNN national security analyst and a former CIA Chief of Russia Operations, he

joins me now from Connecticut.

He's a well-known face here in the show. Steve, great to see you. Let me pick up really from what where Scott McLean just let off. The fact that

Russia, Steve, is acknowledging even the casualties, I think it's fair to say it has taken many by surprise. But does it suggest a tactic, a change

of tactic by Putin, it's almost like he's dropped the pretense here.

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, there's a number of different layers of this, Isa. I mean, the first is when they're talking

about the actual numbers -- and I don't envy people like Scott or any other reporter --

SOARES: Yes --

HALL: Who's trying to -- trying to get to the bottom of these numbers. You know, the Russians are always going to say when there's Russian casualties,

they're going to say it's lower.


The Ukrainians of course, are more inclined to say that their operation was more successful and so the numbers will be higher. What struck me as

interesting are these military bloggers who -- in Russia, who have sort of become the push-back to the Russian government with regard to their

activities, military activities in Ukraine.

And those people are being very critical of this being very critical of the Russian military leadership on the ground and in Moscow. But you'll note,

nobody is criticizing Vladimir Putin. Because people generally-speaking understand how that ends in Russia. And there's this long tradition of

saying, oh, it's not the Russian leader, it's these bad advisors that he has.

So, you know, in one sense, I don't really think anything has changed that much except of course, for the lives and the families of these poor Russian

servicemen who are now dead.

SOARES: Yes, and I saw the torrent of criticism from Russian pro war bloggers following that attack. And like you said, very much directed at

the military, not at Putin. But you know, what struck me in terms of Putin is that, this -- I know you'd want to call it a new approach. But what I

saw was on new year's eve I believe, his address to the nation stood out to me.

Because it wasn't at the Kremlin, right? Where he was surrounded by military. I wonder if this suggests in your view, if how you interpret it

here, suggest that his motivation perhaps maybe have changed, it may suggest at what's to come here. What's the message, do you think? We're

seeing these images now.

HALL: You know, I've seen many of these new year celebrations that are usually done with the standard backdrop of the Kremlin. And so, you're

right, that is -- that is a little bit different. The tone to me sounded almost unhinged. It was almost like, you know, everybody had a few shots

before they got on the air and started predicting things like, well, you know, Russia is going to expand. It's inevitable despite how badly things

are going in Ukraine.

So, you know, what we continue to have is, I think the Kremlin trying to -- trying to keep the Russian population as supportive as it can of this,

while at the same time pushing back where they need to if they do have real dissent inside of Russia.

SOARES: And Steve, what did you make of the reasoning or the excuses following the Makiivka attack that Scott was mentioning. The reason this

happened was because they were using their cellphones.

HALL: Yes, so, I -- you know, it's really ludicrous for the Russian military to be blaming these poor conscripts who I am pretty sure, you

know, have not had sufficient training, certainly not in terms of telephone security. So, you can't blame those folks. The people that you really have

to blame, those who are responsible.

Those lower-level military leaders on the ground in Russia who either did not confiscate these phones or did not impress upon these young conscripts

how serious it could be. I also have to sort of do a shout-out to the Ukrainians on this. This is a classic example of good battlefield tactical

intelligence. You've got signals intelligence on the Ukrainian side, picking up cellphone activity and using it very successfully and in a very

lethal fashion against the Russians.

So, it's not the conscripts fault. It's the Russian leaders on the ground. The military leaders on the ground who did not do what they needed to do to

protect their soldiers. A long history of that is evident in Russia as well.

SOARES: And one also that stood out to me when it happened was the fact that the soldiers were put next to the ammunition depot. I mean, that, to

me, was almost like a no-brainer.

HALL: Yes, that's -- if that's true, that's yet another example of gross incompetence. And also --

SOARES: Yes --

HALL: A callous disregard --

SOARES: Yes --

HALL: For their own soldiers. I mean, you just don't saddle(ph) people to those sort of secondary explosions which can be just as lethal as the

incoming artillery, of course.

SOARES: Steve Hall, always great to get your insights, Steve, appreciate it. Thank you.

HALL: Sure.

SOARES: Now, France is promising to deliver a light-armored combat vehicles to Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Ukrainian

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the phone on Wednesday. French official told the "Reuters" news agency that it's the first time western-made

armored vehicles will be sent to support the Ukrainian army.

And still ahead right here on the show, new details about the condition of an American football player who suffered cardiac arrest on the field,

reminding the world that life is more important than the game. That is next.



SOARES: Well, just a short time ago, we heard some encouraging news about an NFL player who suffered, if you remember, cardiac arrest during a game

Monday night. The Buffalo Bills football team says Damar Hamlin is showing signs of improvement, but still remains in a critical condition. His family

says doctors are working to get him off of ventilator and breathing on his own.

People across the United States are saying prayers and holding vigils as they anxiously wait for more updates. Hamlin's uncle told CNN, quote, "my

nephew basically died on the field. And they brought him back to life." Have a listen.


DORRIAN GLENN, DAMAR HAMLIN'S UNCLE: We were in Pittsburgh watching it on TV and his little brother was there with us. And when he seeing his brother

drop like that, and I want to tell you, I've never seen him cry, scream like that. Like we were trying to calm him down like it's OK, you know,

he's going to get back up, he'll be back in the game, you know, he'll do -- next thing you know, 10 minutes later, they're doing chest compressions.

It's a half-hour later, they still are not playing it.

I'm like, what's going on? What's wrong with my nephew? And in like -- when I say it like now, we were all in the room crying, man, we were all in

tears, man.


SOARES: Incredibly shocking. Let's bring in "CNN WORLD SPORT" anchor Cory Wire. And Coy, I understand you've been in touch with the team, the NFL.

What more are they telling you?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, they are trying to get back to work with heavy hearts. Understandably, they will have meetings

today, but they won't have a walk-through instead of an actual full-on intense practice, which would be typical for this day in preparation for

the game this week. They are still just processing everything that's going on with their teammate who fights for his life in the hospital.

But they are getting some encouraging news, Damar Hamlin has shown signs of improvement. The Bills said in a statement released just moments ago,

"Damar remains in the ICU in critical condition with signs of improvement noted yesterday and overnight." The Bills say he is expected to remain

under intensive care as his healthcare team continues to monitor and treat him.

This is news for which the team and so many others are grateful. Something else for which the team is grateful, was how the game was stopped in

unprecedented fashion. Is something that wouldn't -- has never been done before. Halting a game in the middle of it when there is a severe injury,

putting player's safety first.

Ten years ago, five years ago, that game would have gone on. Coaches would have said buckle up, get back on that field, it's time to play. So we can't

overshadow and overstate how impactful it was for the head coach, Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills, Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals and

others to call that game off. Here is Bills lineman Dion Dawkins talking about what that moment meant to him.


DION DAWKINS, OFFENSIVE TACKLE, BUFFALO BILLS: I am truly blessed that we didn't have to keep playing. The fact that we didn't have to go back like

out there on that field and play. It just shows that there is care, and that's all that we could ever ask for, is that, you know, we get treated as

people. Because you know, like most people who just treat us as athletes and as superstars and as -- and some people like celebrities. But in that

moment, they treated us like people.


WIRE: So there, that moment, we witnessed perhaps a paradigm shift, a change in the way that forevermore player injury, player health and safety

is going to be perceived by not just people within the league, but all around the world. Player -- how important player safety is.

SOARES: Coy, of course, our international viewers may not know this. But you played for the Buffalo Bills in that very same position as Hamlin. You

talked about there how the game, the safety has changed over the years.

Is there anything else that could be done to change this?

To prevent this, I should say?

WIRE: Yes, I played six seasons in this stadium. I have a titanium plate and four screws in my neck from my days here in Buffalo. The reality is,

it's a violent game. I was on the field when my teammate, Kevin Everett in 2007, was paralyzed. He was convulsing on the field.

The game will never be completely safe. It is so much safer now than it was with the rule changes, with the awareness, the cognizance of how brutal

this sport can be and how important it is to take care of one's body, of one's mind.

Progress is being made. So I think that's the silver lining. In situations like this, you try to see something positive through tragic moments. It's

that we can continue to make the game safer, continue to make changes that can protect this and the future generations to come.

SOARES: Indeed. Well, you brought us a least a little bit of good news. There is signs of improvement for Damar. We'll keep thinking of him during

this very tough time. Thanks very much, Coy Wire, appreciate it.

Still to come tonight, gridlock in Congress is usually good for U.S. markets and the economy. But too much of a good thing, as you can imagine,

can quickly become a bad thing. We'll discuss with Richard Quest.

And they are being used by Russia in the hundreds, Iranian drones flown into Ukraine. Now a CNN reporter discovered something shocking about how

they are made. We'll reveal it next.





SOARES: Welcome, back everyone.

Usually Wall Street likes having a divided government in Washington. It means neither political party will have the power to make big changes. But

the gridlock we're seeing in Congress where, there is now a fifth vote to select a speaker isn't putting investors at east.

Many are asking if House Republicans can't pick a speaker, how they will respond to a potential recession?

Many Americans are worried one is in the cards this year. Moody's Analytics says that more likely scenario is a slowcession. That's when growth slows

dramatically and a full economic downturn is narrowly avoided. I will go straight to Richard Quest, the anchor "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."

Richard, we'll talk about slowcession in a minute. Let's talk about this drama and the paralysis that we are seeing on Capitol Hill. All very

embarrassing for the Republican Party but potentially problematic for the running of the country, too.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Yes. I think we'll see that in the coming weeks because how this plays out will determine the ability of the U.S.

government to take the necessary hard decisions that it's going to have to take. A speaker will eventually be elected. Of that, there is little doubt,

whether be a day, a week or a month.

But how powerful that speaker is and how the ability of that speaker to then fend off challenges and dissenters and malcontents, that will really

be the talking point as the government moves forward.

Look at the Dow today. I can tell you straightaway, the malaise (ph) in Washington plays into it. But that red on the left -- first of all, we open

up. We open up because of some economic news on employment.

Then we go down because of problems in Washington. Then we go back up again. That red on the far right is because of the minutes from the latest

Fed meeting. What the markets, Isa, are digesting is so much stuff that anything can tip them over the edge.

SOARES: We'll leave the horse trading for capital for just a second. Let's talk about economic picture. You and I have spoken about various scenarios.

Before the holiday, you and I were talking about some investors saying we're in a recession.

Goldman Sachs called it a soft landing. Now Moody's is calling it a slowcession. These are very different views.

What are the Fed minutes telling us?

That's the most important.

QUEST: The Fed still says it doesn't see as its baseline recession. Here is the one I want you to take away.

I don't care whether you call it a recession or a richcession or a slowcession. To those people who are suffering it -- and this is the same

in Europe, the Middle East, in the U.K., which is in a recession -- or the United States, a slowcession feels exactly the same as a recession.

There is virtually no difference between growing a smidgen and falling a smidgen. It is a technical number. And I think the danger here is that we

focus, "Yay, the U.S. avoided a recession," when the reality is, to people who have lost their jobs, to the macroeconomy, it will feel exactly the


SOARES: Which is very much the discussion we had a couple of days ago from the IMF. It doesn't matter if you're in a recession or not. You will feel


QUEST: Exactly. I was just looking at -- I've got a property, I've got a flat in London.

SOARES: It's very beautiful.

QUEST: Thank you very much. But I was looking at the mortgage. It's a relatively small mortgage. I was looking at how much it's gone up from this

time last year to now. It's gone up -- it's nearly tripled in terms of that.

Compare that in the U.S. where you have fixed mortgages for 20-30 years. No difference at all. So I can well sympathize with Europeans, particularly in

the U.K., with this mortgage catastrophe; it's about to hit during 2023 as mortgage rates reset. That is your slowcession.

SOARES: One person still telling me, one telling me they're still buying the scene, 200 percent rights in my area for sales (ph).

Who would have thought in this market, Richard?

QUEST: I was going to say that's what happens when you live in desirable areas like you do.


SOARES: Very desirable. Richard Quest, thank you very much. Good to see you.

"QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" will be back in about 20 minutes or so.

Now to a CNN exclusive. According to Ukrainian intelligence, parts made by more than a dozen American companies were found in Iranian drones used by

Russia in Ukraine.


SOARES: The findings have been shared with the U.S. government, which has vowed (ph) to shut down Iran's production of drones that have been launched

into Ukraine by the hundreds. Natasha Bertrand has more on this, how this exactly might happen.

Natasha, talk us through this.

How are these parts ending up in Iranian drones when sanctions are already in place?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is the major question. Here the short answer is it comes from these distributors and the

third-party sellers that are essentially taking the parts that these Americans and Western manufacturers produce and diverting them for illicit


Basically, what we found from this Ukrainian intelligence assessment was that they examined 52 components of a downed Iranian Shahed drone and found

that, of those 52 components or parts, about 40 of them actually came from about a dozen different American companies.

It's a lot of numbers. But essentially the majority of the parts in that drone came from American manufacturers. It's a very concerning statistic to

the Biden administration, which, as we reported last month, has actually set up a task force to figure out how and why this is continuing to happen.

The reality is that, in this global market, where a lot of these products are just so ubiquitous and so easily available online in other parts of the

world, it's very difficult for these companies, these manufacturers to get a complete hold over their supply chains and monitor every distributor and

reseller who might be diverting those for illegal reasons.

What we were told by the White House is that they have been talking directly to these companies to try to get them to better monitor where

their parts and components are going.

A lot of these things like semiconductors, very small parts; it is just very difficult to figure out where they're going. The U.S. does not always

have perfect visibility either.

Sometimes it's actually a lot easier for Iranian and Russian and whatever other bad actor to create shell companies to buy and sell these kinds of

products than it is for the U.S. to actually uncover those shell companies and sanction them.

So it is kind of a game of Whac-A-Mole at this point. But experts we spoke to said that it is a game of Whac-A-Mole worth playing.

If you can make it harder by even a little bit for these bad actors to be able to purchase the equipment from these American companies and then sell

them to Iran to make drones to then use in Ukraine, then that is kind of a version of success.

But they all agree that this is never really going to be 100 percent stoppable (ph).

SOARES: Natasha Bertrand for us watching this hour. Thanks very much, Natasha. Appreciate it.

Still to come tonight, imagine seeing a baby girl die before your eyes and worrying your own daughter might suffer the same fate. A survivor of a

harrowing journey at sea describes the horrors her family and fellow Rohingya refugees were forced to endure.





SOARES: Adrift at sea with no, food, water and medicine, waiting desperately for rain so they could have something to drink, watching

helplessly as fellow passengers died before their very. Eyes

Rohingya refugees who survived a horrifying journey are speaking out about what they were forced to endure. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports. We warn, you

some of the images are graphic.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despair and misery etched on every single face, one by one they collapse. Emaciated

bodies clutching small children, others motionless, seemingly unconscious on an Indonesian beach.

They are the Rohingya refugees left adrift on a boat on the open sea, forgotten and ignored. A human tragedy that keeps repeating itself.

Fahat Monesa (ph) and her five-year-old daughter Uma Salima (ph) were among the 174 to reach Aceh province after one month surviving on just three days

supply of food and water. She has almost unrecognizable.

HANCOCKS: What happened when you got on the boat?

UNIDENTIFIED FEFMALE (through translator): She tells me there was no food, no medicine, no water for all of those days. Only when it rains could we

drink rainwater.

HANCOCKS: A few days into the journey, she says the engine broke down. They were stranded in the Andaman Sea. Fahat Monesa (ph) remembers watching

a baby girl die after drinking salt water. She says the boat driver jumped overboard in desperation from thirst and hunger and died leaving his

desperate human cargo to drift helplessly hoping for rescue.

On December 18th, more than three weeks after setting sail, Fahat Monesa's (ph) brother back in Bangladesh managed to contact the boat trying to

organize a rescue from a local boat in Indonesia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): We are dying here. We haven't eaten anything for eight to 10 days. We are starving. Three people have died.

HANCOCKS: Fahat Monesa (ph) says, I thought I would die. I thought I would die on that boat.

United Nations Refugee Agency says 26 people died before the boat was rescued by Indonesian fishermen and local authorities. The agency says

several countries turned a blind eye.

BABAR BALOCH, ASIA PACIFIC SPOKESPERSON, UNHCR: We as UNHCR are reaching out from state to state in the region wherever we were getting reported

this is either close to one country or another. No one acted on those requests and appeals.

HANCOCKS: Stateless and persecuted, these Rohingya refugees have known little peace having fled once for their lives five years ago in Myanmar

after a brutal campaign of killing and arson by the military to Bangladesh and in a sprawling refugee camp Cox's Bazar with little hope of a life,

just survival.

MUHAMMAD TAHER, ROHINGYA REFUGEE (through translator): In Bangladesh our life was difficult. We were banned from going out to look for work. The

children could not go to school.

HANCOCKS: This year threatens to become one of the most deadly for the Rohingya in the Southeast Asian waters. UNHCR says at least three boats

were rescued in December, one by the Sri Lankan Navy, two ended up in Indonesia. But one boat carrying 180 people have not been heard from since

the beginning of December. Its passengers feared loss.

BALOCH: These are literally death traps, that once you get into those, you end up losing your life and this is done by the merciless human smugglers

and traffickers who don't care about human lives.

HANCOCKS: For Fahat Monesa (ph), it cost around $1,000 for a false promise of a seven-day trip to Malaysia. A price so high she had to leave her

seven-year-old daughter behind with her mother in Bangladesh, assuming she would join later.

They must bring my other daughter to me, she says. My heart is burning for her. All I ever wanted was to get an education for my children. She now

faces the torment of living apart from one child while dealing with the trauma of another -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.





SOARES: We have new video of last week's confrontation between the U.S. military plane and a Chinese aircraft at the South China Sea. This is a

video released by the United States on Thursday.


SOARES (voice-over): Washington accused the Chinese fighter jet for performing an unsafe maneuver, U.S. aircraft forcing it to take evasive

action. And now we have the view from the Chinese side, Beijing blames the U.S. for violating international law and putting its pilots at risk.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea as sovereign territory. Parts of it are contested by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan as

well as Benin (ph).


SOARES: Bad news if you are planning to hit the slopes this winter, there might be no snow. Ski resorts across the Alps in places like France and

Austria have temporarily closed due to warm weather, a stark reminder of climate change.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The new year may have only just begun but temperatures are already heating up across much of Europe. At least

eight countries smashed their winter weather record, having recorded their warmest day ever in January.

As the world rang in new year celebrations this week, climatologists were busy tracking extreme temperatures and found countries, including Poland,

Denmark, the Czech Republic, Lichtenstein and Belarus all reached alarmingly warm temperatures on January the 1st.

Meteorologists say it is too early to attribute the extreme heat to climate change but do say the driving force is a warm air mass from Africa's west

coast moving across Europe.

It may look warm in the Spanish city of Bilbao but locals are noticeably wearing winter coats, basking in the winter sun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's not normal for Bilbao to have such good weather. It always rains a lot here. It's very cold and it's

January and it feels like summer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): What would normally be covered in snow, this ski resort in France, is now stark (ph) of it, forcing businesses to

shut their doors to customers until conditions improve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Sure we are, of course, a little bit sad about having to close. We had a good Christmas holiday season,

which matters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Over in wartorn Ukraine, where much of the country's infrastructure damage or destroyed, millions of Ukrainians

were without power over Christmas.

The cities across the country, including Kyiv, broke weather records in January, which may have helped reduce energy consumption. As Ukrainian

advisor Anton Gerashchenko put it, even the weather is on our side.

Just before the year came to an end, the U.K.'s Met office said last year's sweltering heat, which ran rivers dry and caused a drought in parts of

England, was the country's hottest on record.

Though January's mild temperatures might provide some relief to the cold, meteorologists warn it could offer a glimpse of a concerning and possibly

even warmer future.



SOARES: We will turn to the top story. Kevin McCarthy is battling, as we told, you for the U.S. House leadership. It doesn't have yet the vote from

round five. With his on Republican Party standing in his way, some members of the Republican Party.

The party's lack of unity hasn't gone unnoticed, with late night show host Stephen Colbert roasting them and reflecting on Tuesday's political drama.

This is what he said.

"it's been a day of pure, uncut Peruvian blue-flake schadenfreude, watching the GOP stab each other in the throat."

There will be plenty of this happening right now in the U.S.

Thank you for your company, stay right here, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next. Of course, we are keeping an eye on what we just mentioned, what's

happening on Capitol Hill as U.S. House of Representatives struggle to elect the next leader. They are now on round five. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS"

picks up after this short break. Stay right here.