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New Day

Ukrainian Forces Report Successes against Russian Forces in Black Sea; Director of White House National Economic Council Interviewed on Steps Biden Administration Taking to Address Shortage of Baby Formula Throughout U.S.; Biden Slams Rick Scott's Tax Hike Proposal; Mike Pence Breaks with Trump, Will Campaign for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired May 13, 2022 - 08:00   ET



CATHERINE RAMPELL, "WASHINGTON POST" OPINION COLUMNIST: Who knows, maybe agree to a lower offer by spooking markets a little bit. It's really hard to say. But we have seen the price fall in pre-market trading so far. Probably when that bell rings, pretty soon we might see some more of a bloodbath, we just don't know at this point.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Intrigue, Elon Musk style. Catherine Rampell, thank you very much.

RAMPELL: Always.

BERMAN: And NEW DAY continues right now.

I'm John Berman with chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. On this NEW DAY, Ukraine takes down a Russian helicopter in the Black Sea, and a new Russian warship is in flames. Plus, is the Biden administration's response to the baby formula shortage falling short? We'll be joined by a key White House official.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Pence versus Trump, the former vice president set to campaign for the current Georgia governor while the former president is backing his opponent in, John, what is a really extraordinary pushback from Pence on Trump for first time we have seen really since they both left office.

This morning we're also going inside the cockpit of a plane that a passenger with no flight experience was forced to land when his pilot passed out.

BERMAN: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Friday the 13th, May 13th. I'm John Berman. Our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is in for Brianna this morning.

We do have new details about a notable Russian retreat. You will remember that Russia made a big play for Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, also its largest city. It failed. Now the Russians also pulling back from the second largest city, Kharkiv right there. The Russians in retreat. We do have some new satellite imagery, and the analysis tells an interesting story. These pictures you're looking at right here, these are of bridges destroyed, believed to be blown up by the Russians as they pulled back from Kharkiv in retreat, to try to keep Ukrainians from the pursuit that they have been. And the Ukrainians had been on their tail, the Russians blowing these bridges up as they're leaving the region.

Again, I can show you where this is on the map here. Kharkiv, here. It's a different story elsewhere in the country, especially in the eastern part, in the Donbas region right there. The Ukrainians are now reporting that they have lost a key foothold in the city of Rubizhne. This is about 100,000 people. They now say after fierce fighting on the outskirts of this area, including the key industrial areas, the Russians do now appear to be in control there.

COLLINS: And on Snake Island, which you'll remember for that defiant stance that they took by the Ukrainian forces at the start of the invasion, there is new video of a Russian helicopter being destroyed by a Ukrainian missile strike. Ukraine says its forces have destroyed multiple Russian assets on the island in recent weeks, and that a Russian support ship that is named for a famous Soviet athlete is on fire, being towed away from the island, a claim that we should note CNN has not been able to verify.

CNN is reporting this morning that the intelligence community has now launched an internal review of how it assesses the fighting power of foreign militaries. This comes amid criticism that officials failed to make accurate assessments both in Afghanistan and in Ukraine.

BERMAN: I'm joined now by CNN military analyst and retired Army general James "Spider" Marks. General, always a pleasure to see you. Let's talk about Kharkiv right now. This is the second major city that the Russians have retreated from. Let's push in here. How have Ukrainians managed to push them back? And what is the strategic significance?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, what's really important to understand here is that the success that the Ukrainians are having around Kharkiv is important on a number of levels. Number one, it validates what the Ukrainians have been doing and we have been reporting on in terms of their ability to very creatively go after the Russians and the Russians are -- they're too hierarchical. They don't have leadership. They're incompetent, and basically, they look like a bunch of fools, but they do have numbers.

So what we see here is I think the Russians have realized, as you've indicated, with some success down here, lack of success here, what the Ukrainians are doing are now going to protect this flank. I don't want to get too detailed here, but they're going to protect this flank, and it wouldn't be surprising at all to see these forces now moving in this direction, making this -- as we have discussed all along, this is a priority, this is where the mass needs to be achieved. This now, all this portion of Ukraine becomes what we call an economy of force. So what you've just reported on, cut the bridges here, Ukrainians have a hard time pursuing them, Russians can move forces down in that direction.


BERMAN: Do you see evidence of success here? We're talking about Rubizhne now, which the Ukrainians themselves say that the Russians now more or less have in control. What is the significance if the Russians are able to gain more ground there?

MARKS: Yes, and again, going back to how the military filter through which I'm going to view this, if the Russians are achieving success here, they want to reinforce success. You don't want to put good money after bad. Don't want to reinforce failure. They're having a tough go up here, right. So let's take this, let's reinforce this, and let's make this the priority.

BERMAN: And what about the Black Sea? Because we keep seeing images of battles taking place around Snake Island here. As Major Mike Lyons told us before, the Ukrainians are trying to fight a naval battle here without a Navy.

MARKS: Yes, they are. They are. So what's happening, bear in mind a couple of things. When you look at the Black Sea, this is a big bathtub. It is completely bordered, when you get in there, and the United States Navy does not like to get into the Black Sea because there is no place to hide. So what the Russians have is they have forces here, they have taken out of Crimea, they're moving them in different locations so that they can effect with fire on to the shore.

Because of the proximity, and because of some intelligence collection capabilities, the Ukrainians now are going after these naval forces that the Russians are deployed, they are vulnerable, and the Ukrainians are being, again, very creative, in terms of how they're going after them. They don't have a Navy, but they've got some capabilities to gather intelligence and reach further out, which is the key to the Ukrainian success is get as deep as you can, force the Russians to make decisions that they wouldn't want to make so that they engage far differently because you're affected their rear areas.

BERMAN: Spider, a lot going on this morning. Thank you so much for helping us understand it.

MARKS: Thank you, John.

COLLINS: A lot going on here at home as well as a nationwide shortage of baby formula is putting a real strain on families. The stores are struggling to keep it in stock. The house oversight committee has just launched an investigation into the shortages as the White House is under pressure to help parents in need while acknowledging that more does need to be done.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We would certainly encourage any parent who has concerns about their child's health or well-being to call their doctor or pediatrician.


COLLINS: Joining us now is Brian Deese, the director of the White House National Economic Council, which has been working on this issue. Good morning, Brian. And I want to start this morning with how much do you expect these steps that the White House announced yesterday, which were pretty modest, to really alleviate this shortage?

BRIAN DEESE, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Well, we're looking at every possible angle that we can to try to address this issue. And these actions will matter. The president was on the phone yesterday with some of the nation's largest retailers and largest manufacturers of baby formula, and the thing that they said across the board is that the most important step that we can take right now is to give retailers more flexibility on the types of formula that they can sell and consumers more flexibility on the types that they can buy, particularly through the WIC program.

So we are moving out. We actually gave states guidance on using flexibility the day after this recall happened in February. We're going to move out today again with guidance urging states to take action. Many have. Some haven't. We need all states to move on that as quickly as today.

COLLINS: And following these conversations that the president had yesterday with retailers and manufacturers, does the White House now have an assessment, even a rough one, of how long this shortage could last?

DEESE: Well, the key here is to produce more formula, but also to make more formula available and easier for consumers to buy. Already, we're seeing the impact of the steps that we have taken to produce more formula. So the manufacturers that we spoke to yesterday, Gerber increasing production 50 percent. Reckitt is increasing production 30 percent. And in fact, over the last four weeks, there has been more production of formula than there was in the weeks preceding the recall.

So now we have got to also then make it easier for that formula to get on to shelves and for consumers to buy. That's why we need states to help us in cutting this red tape. All of these steps together will make progress. It's not going to solve itself in a day or a week. But we hope that these steps will contribute to making it a little bit easier for families.

COLLINS: Should parents be prepared for it to last weeks, or do you think it is going to be more like months?

DEESE: Well, I think that we have got to see how this progresses in real time. And we can say that for parents that have acute concerns now, they should be reaching out to their healthcare providers. There are emergency measures in place that your healthcare provider can help connect you to if you need a specialty formula, and more broadly if you're looking for formula for your child, the stores are -- have formula in stock.

[08:10:00] You can -- you can go, it is going to be tough, it may mean that you're not able to get the brand you are used to or otherwise. But we hope that increase in production that we're seeing from these private companies will start to have an impact here relatively shortly.


COLLINS: And, of course, it is a big change for parents to have to switch to a different brand and get their babies used to that. Brian, Republicans are saying that the White House didn't really act soon enough here to sound the alarm on this. And so what is your response to that?

DEESE: Look, the administration has been on this from the get-go. A lot of this emanated from a plant in Michigan that was producing formula that didn't meet safety standards. I'm a parent of small kids. Safety is paramount in this place. We need to have safe -- high standards for safety. That plant was shut down because of those safety concerns. And the day that that recall happened, this administration sent out guidance to every state to update their regulations.

We have been working with the manufacturers since that happened, and part of the reason why production has already increased is because of that work. But we're not resting. The president made clear yesterday to the manufacturers and the retailers that we are going to use every lever at the federal government we can to support this supply chain moving more quickly.

COLLINS: When did you first become aware of the shortage?

DEESE: Well, as a parent and friends and colleagues, it was -- we were aware people were starting to have trouble in stores, but we were aware of this from when the FDA had to take its action back in February with Abbott and with the steps in the Michigan facility. And we have had a team on this from the FDA and in the interagency process since then. And the steps that I mentioned are steps that had been taken over the course of multiple weeks, and we are ramping those up.

COLLINS: And I believe the first complaints about this facility happened last fall. I don't think the FDA started interviewing whistleblowers until maybe December or so. Of course, as you noted, the recall started earlier this year. And so I'm wondering if the sense inside the White House is that the FDA moved quickly enough on this issue?

DEESE: Well, those are independent scientific judgments that I will leave to the FDA. What I can tell you is that they took action to put in place that recall. And we have been working closely on this issue, in the wake of that recall, to try to address the attending impacts of that.

COLLINS: If the president does use the Defense Production Act, which we have seen some lawmakers, including Democrats, say that he should here, do you think that's something that could have a real impact?

DEESE: Well, all options are on the table. The real focus here is how can we actually get more production of formula, and then how can we get it to move more quickly and easily to retailers. So a lot of that is about working with manufacturers so that they can run, they can work on overtime. That was some of the conversation yesterday.

We're also looking at where we can import more formula from other countries where they have safety protocols in place. That would also help increase the amount of formula. But then it's also important to get rid of the red tape that keeps that formula from being sold on shelves. And that's what the retailers told us yesterday. The WIC program is incredibly important. Normally it has very strict protocols about what types of formula are sold and in what context. Right now, we need to relax all of those in every state to make it easier for those retailers that when that formula comes into stockpiles, they can put it on to shelves. So that's the key step we need to take here, and we need states' help.

COLLINS: It is very important message for a lot of families out there who want to know how long this shortage is going to last. Brian Deese, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

DEESE: Thank you.

COLLINS: Meantime, does Senator Rick Scott's economic plan actually raise taxes like President Biden has insisted? We have Daniel Dale with a brand-new fact check next.

BERMAN: And new this morning, former Vice President Pence set to make an endorsement, this could be his strongest break yet from Donald Trump. It puts them on opposite ends in one race.

And one political legend says Biden, President Biden should not run for reelection in 2024. We'll ask a second political legend, David Axelrod, if he agrees.



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden and Senator Rick Scott of Florida are in a face-off over Scott's 11-point plan to rescue America. Senator Scott insists that he would never support a tax increase, but the president says the plan would raise taxes by about $1500 per family.

Joining us now is CNN reporter and fact checker Daniel Dale.

All right, Daniel, what are the facts here?

DANIEL DALE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kaitlan, this is almost an embarrassingly easy fact check. Senator Scott has proposed a tax increase. He keeps going around saying he'd never support raising taxes. Well, he has proposed raising taxes. And the proof is in his own plan. It's not complicated. This is a two-sentence item. And I'll read it. It says, all Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half Americans pay no income tax. Kaitlan, if you're proposing that people who currently pay no income

tax pay some income tax, you're proposing a tax increase. And this is not a small group of people. Currently more than 40 percent of American households, we're talking about 75 million households, pay no federal income tax for a variety of reasons. Some of them are disabled. Some of them are retired. Some of them are working employed people who just don't make enough to hit the minimum threshold to even have to file a tax return.

Now Senator Scott has been criticized for this not only by President Biden, but even people like Mitch McConnell from his own party. And so he's back tracked. His office pointed me to an op-ed he issued more than a month after the plan came out where he said, no, no, if you're retired or working person, nothing will change for you. The only people I'm going after are only wealthy people who are gaming the system and able-bodied working age people who are not working, who are just living on government handouts.

Now, first of all, that's still a proposal to raise taxes for those able-bodied people, and second of all, that is much narrower than the plan he still has not revised. He hasn't changed that original plan. Now Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center think tank told me something that I think is entirely true. He said that Senator Scott has his plan and then he has his tweets and op-eds where he says something that the plan doesn't include.


He said all I know is that in his own words, in his Rescue American Plan, is that he would impose income taxes on people who do not now pay income taxes and Gleckman said that is the very definition of a tax increase.

COLLINS: And that's what President Biden has been using, really sharpening his language lately, basically using all of his attacks on the GOP by basing it off what Senator Rick Scott has proposed here. And he says that he believes this is going to raise an average family's taxes by about $1500.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A member of the Senate Republican leadership laid it all out in a plan, it's the ultra-MAGA agenda. Their plan is to raise taxes on 75 million American families, over 95 percent of whom make less than $100,000 a year, total income. The average tax increase would be about $1,500 per family.


COLLINS: Based on what you have looked into, is the president describing it accurately?

DALE: So a couple of things here. First of all, it's not clear just how broad the support is, even among Republicans for this plan. Again Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has rejected it. Second of all, the nearly $1500 figure is real, Kaitlan, but I think the way the president is describing it is misleading. He suggests it's directly from Scott's plan, and it's not.

Here's what it actually is. The Tax Policy Center, again a think tank, saw Scott's vague two-sentence proposal and said, OK, what kind of plan could possibly satisfy the idea that everyone pay some taxes? And it came up with a hypothetical plan where every household had to pay a minimum of $100 in federal income tax no matter what their income. So this hypothetical plan is based on, quote, "assumptions," that's what they told me, about what a Scott policy could look like.

And they found that under this hypothetical policy that 42 percent of households that would have their taxes raised would see an average increase of $14.80. So the Tax Policy Center is very transparent, Kaitlan, that this is only a hypothetical, but I think President Biden wasn't for obvious political reasons. So I think President Biden is free to cite this nearly $1500 figure. It's a real analysis.

Tax Policy Center is a legit entity, but I think it'd be much more transparent if the president clarified that this figure was from one independent analysis that tested what Scott's proposal could mean rather than framing it like that conclusive or definitive analysis.

COLLINS: Yes. Certainly not something that people like Senator McConnell want to have to be defending against.

DALE: Absolutely.

COLLINS: Daniel Dale, thank you as always for bringing us the facts.

DALE: Thank you.

COLLINS: Also new this morning, there is a proxy war growing in Georgia. Former vice president Mike Pence is set to rally for the governor, Brian Kemp, who is one of former President Trump's top Republican targets this midterm election season.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And should President Biden pass the torch in 2024? Our own David Axelrod weighs in.



BERMAN: Big political news this morning, a heavyweight proxy battle shaping up, Pence versus Trump. The former vice president announced he will campaign for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. Donald Trump is backing Kemp's opponent, very publicly, David Perdue. He's made Kemp one of his prime targets for the midterms.

Joining us now, Patricia Murphy, political reporter for the "Atlanta Journal Constitution."

This news broke just this morning. What do you make of it?

PATRICIA MURPHY, POLITICAL REPORTER, ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: Yes, this is huge news. We have known for a long time that Republicans would start to line up behind Brian Kemp as he heads toward his primary on May 24th. We did not expect for Mike Pence to be coming in and putting in such a big public show of support for Brian Kemp. We got the news today and we broke the news today, Greg Bluestein did actually, that Pence will be coming in the day before the primary.

He'll do get-out-the-vote rally for Brian Kemp and that will be in his challenge -- from against, rather, David Perdue, who Pence has been very supportive of in the past but no longer because of the two are now big rivals and Pence is coming down on the side of Brian Kemp.

BERMAN: Just to remind people why Donald Trump is going after Brian Kemp. Brian Kemp, the Republican governor of Georgia, refused to do anything special to overturn the results or try to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which Donald Trump lost in Georgia, and Trump has never forgiven him. So now you have the former vice president picking sides with the guy that Trump blames in part for losing Georgia.

MURPHY: Yes. And it wasn't just that Donald Trump never forgave Brian Kemp, he recruited David Perdue to run a really unprecedented primary challenge against Brian Kemp and David Perdue has made claims about the 2020 election really the center point, focal point of his campaign against Kemp. It really has not caught on successfully. Brian Kemp is ahead in the polls, he's way ahead in the fundraising, and to be able to have Mike Pence come in at the end really is because of a huge show of support from other Republicans.

It's not necessarily in every case in Georgia something against Donald Trump, Brian Kemp has never spoken badly against Donald Trump, he's just tried to focus on the election results and he's tried to keep his own brand, but he's not picked a fight with Trump, but Trump has certainly picked a fight with him.

BERMAN: Patricia Murphy, thank you so much.

COLLINS: Joining us now to discuss all of this is David Axelrod, CNN senior political commentator and host of "The Axe Files."

David, quite some news this morning that Pence is going to be stumping on the trail for Kemp, not that surprising given you've seen Kemp has a pretty comfortable lead here. But it is when you look back at video from January 4th, 2021 and Pence was on the trail for David Perdue in Georgia.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, as you point out, Kaitlan, he's jumping on a fast-moving train so it's a pretty smart move for Pence, but Pence, as you know, Pence has staked out this territory. He's decided -- you know, Trump may blame Kemp for Georgia, he blames Pence for losing the election because he thinks Pence should have intervened.

Pence has now embraced that decision and he's doubling down by going in for Kemp. And he sees an opportunity to inflict a loss on Trump and of course he's looking forward to 2024 as well.

BERMAN: Yes, again, Mike Pence knows that everyone is noticing this, David. It's not like Mike Pence is sneakily walking into Georgia for this announcement. He knows that it's going to make waves.