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New Day

Wally Adeyemo is Interviewed about New Russian Sanctions; Kyiv and Chernihiv Mayors Speak with CNN; Facebook says Russia attacked Ukrainian Accounts; Two Men Arrested for Impersonating Federal Officers. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 07, 2022 - 08:30   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Responsible nations have to come together to hold these perpetrators accountable. And together with our allies and our partners, we're going to keep raising the economic cost and ratchet up the pain for Putin and further increase Russia's economic isolation.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden detailing new sanctions against Russia's largest financial institutions and a number of individuals, including President Putin's two adult daughters.

Joining me now is Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo. He is right in the middle of implementing and enforcing these sanctions.

Deputy Secretary, thank you so much for joining us.

Of this package and a package discussed currently by the European Union, President Zelenskyy of Ukraine said they have a spectacular look, but it's not enough. So what do you say to him?

WALLY ADEYEMO, DEPUTY TREASURY SECRETARY: Well, thank you for having me.

What I would say is that what we've made clear to Russia is that if the invasion in Ukraine continues, we will continue to use our sanctions to constrain the Russian economy. And the key thing to do is to look at what's happened to the Russian economy because of our sanctions. Today, the Russian economy is collapsing faster than any point in 20 years. It's going to be down more than 10 percent this year because of our sanctions. Inflation in Russia is heading towards 20 percent. And what this means is that President Putin has fewer resources to fund his war in Ukraine. And as long as he continues the invasion, we're going to continue to take steps to further constrain his ability to fund the war in Ukraine, and to prop up his economy.

BERMAN: You do a good job explaining in simple terms some of these complicated measures, but I do want to ask you quite bluntly, obviously Russia is still selling gas to the European Union, to Germany.


Are these sales funding the war? Are these sales of gas funding the atrocities we're seeing in places like Bucha?

ADEYEMO: The thing that we've done is that we've worked with our European allies and partners to level a set of devastating sanctions against the Russian economy. And what they have done, because of our sanctions, is they have taken the money that they're earning from selling things abroad, and they're forcing those exporters to take that money and to bring it back to Russia and to buy rubles. Buying rubles is not a profitable way to do business today because of the impact of our sanctions. So, every time they take a dollar or a euro and bring it back to Russia, and they force their companies to buy rubles, it's depleting the resources that they will have to fight the war.

Europe, when President Biden was there, made clear that they have a commitment to removing themselves from dependence on Russian energy. And that's what they started to do. Yesterday, they announced that they're going to ban the import of coal. And what that means to the Kremlin is that over time they're going to have fewer resources, not only for their war in Ukraine, but to project power into the future.

BERMAN: Fewer, but enough still to commit the atrocities that we're seeing in Ukraine. So, again, wouldn't it be harder for Russia to do this if Europe stopped buying gas?

ADEYEMO: We know that the most important thing here is that President Putin has a choice. And that choice for him is whether he's going to continue the war in Ukraine or choose a path to diplomacy.

What we've done with our allies and partners is that we have constrained the Russian economy. We're going to continue to do that.

As you heard from President Biden and from the president of the European Union, Europe is committed to constraining Russia's ability to earn revenues from energy and they're taking steps to do that by reducing the dependence over time. The key thing for us is to make sure that we do this in a way that hurts the Russian economy more than it hurts our economy. And that's exactly what we're doing in collaboration and coordination with Europe.

BERMAN: With all due respect, Putin's made his choice. This invasion is on. It's intensifying in the east of Ukraine. You know, these sanctions haven't stopped him and I understand the president claims that sanctions were never meant to be a deterrent. But the invasion is happening at this point.

You've announced new sanctions against people in President Putin's family. His two daughters. What more is on the table? If the United States wanted to inflict even more pain on Putin, what could it do?

ADEYEMO: Last week I was in Europe talking to our allies and partners and what we're committed to doing is making sure that we stop sanctions evasion because, ultimately, the Russian economy is collapsing upon itself. You've seen Russia shut down the ability of people to take money out of Russia. You've seen them attempt to get companies to buy rubles, to prop up the ruble. So, a big part of this is sanction evasion.

Yesterday, the attorney general took actions to hold a Russian oligarch responsible for who was trying to evade our sanctions. And our next step is going to be to continue to go after evasion, but also to go after the Russian war machine. Maybe two weeks ago the Russian defense secretary held a meeting in Russia that was publicly pronounced. It was about procurement. How do they procure materials to continue the war in Ukraine. And our goal is to make sure that we go after the Russian war machine by going after their aerospace industry, their marine industries, and other industries that are critical to fighting the war in Ukraine because, ultimately, our goal is to stop the invasion in Ukraine or we're going to use sanctions, export controls. We're going to use our Justice Department. We're going to use the tools of diplomacy to do this, wholistically, not just the United States, but in collaboration and coordination with our allies and partners around the world.

BERMAN: Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, thank you for being with us this morning. Appreciate your time sir.

ADEYEMO: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: We have brand-new reporting about the tactics Russia is using in the cyberwar against Ukraine. We'll tell you what Facebook just revealed.

And our Frederik Pleitgen speaks with the mayors of two Ukrainian cities in the middle of the fighting.

Stay with us.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Russian forces completely withdrawing from the areas around Kyiv and Chernihiv as they regroup and refocus their invasion on eastern Ukraine.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen spoke with the mayors of those cities.


MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAINE: It's not the war against Ukrainian army, it's all the Russian propaganda. It's a war to destroy the city, destroy the infrastructure, to kill civilians.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You visited Bucha and other places. You saw what happened there. How angry are you?

KLITSCHKO: I am depressed. Really depressed what I saw. It's -- I can't expect the people in modern time can do it so bad things. It's genocide. That doesn't (INAUDIBLE) war because they want to kill civilians.

PLEITGEN (through translator): Your city was surrounded for a long time. What is the situation now?

MAYOR VLADYSLAV ATROSHENKO, CHERNIHIV, UKRAINE (through translator): The Russians deliberately attacked the civilian population. They chaotically fired from all types of artillery weapons along the perimeter of the city. With such shelling, it was clear that there would be civilian casualties.

PLEITGEN (on camera): What sort of help does the Kyiv region need? What sort of help does Ukraine need now?

KLITSCHKO: We need political support. We need economical support. We need humanitarian help. We need the medical staff. We need to rebuild our city. But main priority right now, the weapons. Defense weapons. Because we still defend our country and Russians still want to occupy all Ukraine.

PLEITGEN (through translator): What do you need in your city now? What sort of help?

ATROSHENKO: We need to end the war. We need guarantees that the war will not start again. It is necessary to sign political and legal documents that will guarantee the security of Ukraine. It is necessary to help Ukraine with modern precision weapons as soon as possible in order to end the war.


PLEITGEN (on camera): Are you surprised at how badly you beat them, because it seems like everywhere we go there's destroyed Russian tanks, there's destroyed Russian armored vehicles. It seems like they really got clobbered by you guys.

KLITSCHKO: As former fighter, I tell you, it's not a matter of what big are you, how strong are you, it's very important your spirit, your will. And we Ukrainian, we know, we know it's our homeland, it's our houses, and spirit would have Ukrainians better us, give amazing power for everyone to fighting for our children, defending our families.


KEILAR: Some disturbing new drone video obtained by CNN shows innocent civilians being gunned down in the streets.

Plus, Facebook revealing ways that Russia has been targeting Ukrainian accounts. We'll have breaking details ahead.


BERMAN: So, this just in, Facebook parent company Meta just released information on an array of shady cyber tactics from groups linked to Russia and Belarus. [08:50:06]

Joining me now is CNN correspondent Donie O'Sullivan.

Donie, what have you learned here?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so, John, a lot of people wondering, you know, when are we going to see this big cyberattack from Russia. We've heard a lot about, you know, attacks along the way. But a big, major attack.

What we are learning from Facebook today is all this stuff going on in the background, kind of individually small things, but it amounts to a lot when you pull it all together.

Facebook announcing this morning that they have been tracking -- they've seen a group tied to Belarus, which, of course, is a Russian ally, targeting the individual Facebook accounts of Ukrainian soldiers, targeting dozens of them, trying to break into those accounts. Facebook said they were successful, those hackers, in a handful of situations and began posting videos, of course, calling for an end to the war, calling for Ukrainians to put down their arms.

What we're also learning from Facebook this morning is all the sort of regular tricks that you would expect from the Russians are in play here about disinformation, misinformation, fake personas, people posing as reporters in Ukraine.

And, finally, one last interesting thing, attack that is becoming more and more common online called mass reporting, which is they found -- Facebook found a network of 200 accounts that were set up to report. So if somebody criticized Russia, these accounts would report this person to Facebook, to try and get Facebook to pull that down. And so all of this happening in the background. And, of course, we're learning a lot of what Russia is doing today. We also know that a lot of this is also happening on the other side as well.

BERMAN: Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much for that reporting.

The FBI arrests men accused of impersonating DHS agents for more than two years. The bizarre new details ahead.

But first, chef, writer, traveler and friend Anthony Bourdain played a special role in millions of people's lives around the world. Now as CNN prepares to bring you the new film "Roadrunner," a film about Anthony Bourdain, some of Tony's closest friends and family share some of their favorite memories, including his brother.


CHRISTOPHER BOURDAIN, ANTHONY BOURDAIN'S BROTHER: I'd say the first time I went with him on one of his shows, I think it was his third show he ever did, which was in 2001 when I went to France with him. And so we kind of hit some of the old memory places from there that was (INAUDIBLE) his first series. And it was completely new to him. He still didn't quite know how to behave on camera. I was tagging along on a -- kind of a lark. And he ended up roping me in. You know, it was just a very fun and very new experience.

But I would say by the time we got around to Uruguay, which was for no reservations, he had nailed it down. I would say that my memory of the Uruguay trip is fantastic. I was -- I had the time of my life. It was just great. And spent a lot of time with Tony on that trip as well, just riding around in the van with him and the crew and so on.


BERMAN: The new CNN film "Roadrunner" premieres Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.



BERMAN: This is a crazy story. The FBI arrested two men for allegedly posing as federal officers to get closer to members of the Secret Service, including one assigned to the first lady.

CNN's Whitney Wild joins me now with the details.

Whitney, explain exactly what went on here.

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: John, this went on for two years, and it wasn't just the Secret Service who was duped here. The indictment lists favors and gifts given to people who represent a list of agencies. Clearly they developed these relationships over a period of time, according to the indictment. And as you said, it is a really crazy story. The indictment says that over the course of time, these men collected enough law enforcement gear, like handguns and assault rifles, laptops, you know, a list of -- a list of things that they were able to convince other members of law enforcement, people who were trained to spot people who are doing nefarious things, that they too were part of law enforcement. Their claim was that they were undercover agents with the Department of Homeland Security.

The impersonating went so far, John, that the affidavit says these men somehow got SUVs with emergency lights. And it -- they looked like real cop cars. And, over time, the FBI says these two men buddied up to other members of law enforcement. They were giving them gifts like iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, flat screen TVs, a generator. In one case, they offered to buy a $2,000 rifle for a Secret Service agent on the first lady's protective detail.

The indictment also cites witnesses who said that these two men had a list of names and room numbers of the residents in this building and they had access to basically all of the areas of the building, including restricted areas. This story, John, is bizarre, it is alarming and it really highlights just an unbelievable amount of potential vulnerabilities here. So much more to learn. It's a story to keep your eye on.

BERMAN: Whitney, any word on motive? Why they were doing this? WILD: That's the thing, John, the indictment doesn't say -- it doesn't say anything about how this was funded and it doesn't say why they were doing it. It's not clear if they were just, you know, people who were really weirdly interested in law enforcement, or if there was some sort of master scheme going on here. That's why I say this is a story to watch because it was just so extensive.

I mean, I've covered other cases where, you know, people were posing as cops. I have never seen a scam that went on for this long and that was this detailed. They had, I mean, John, just the list of things they did to try to impersonate law enforcement is so specific. I mean their laptops would say DHS on them. They had the insignias, the patches, the gear, the helmets, the tactical gear. It's just unbelievable. It is really one of the craziest indictments I've ever seen.

BERMAN: Yes, look, that's why I was asking, because it makes you think that they had a plan bigger than just performance art.

WILD: It's so weird.

BERMAN: And that, obviously, I think -- I'm sure is the concern right now with those investigating.

Whitney Wild, thank you so much for explaining at least what we know about this reporting so far.

WILD: Exactly. And there's a lot more to learn.

BERMAN: All right, looking forward to hearing your reporting on it.

This morning, we should note, that Covid does appear to be on the march among the Washington, D.C. elite. It is possible that the swanky Gridiron dinner could have been a super spreader event. More than a dozen people who attended the event last Saturday have now tested positive for Covid. That includes two members of the Biden cabinet, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. A wave of new cases has infected at least six people in the inner circle of the administration, including Press Secretary Jen Psaki and the second gentleman, Doug Emhoff.


The White House says it is taking steps to keep President Biden from getting infected. That includes mandatory testing for those who come in contact with him, as well as social distancing during meetings when possible. They say they will not return to pandemic-era restrictions.

CNN's coverage continues right now.