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New Day

Gisele Fetterman is Interviewed about her Husband's Health and Election Win; Underground Tunnel Found between U.S. and Mexico; Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is Interviewed about Primaries and January 6th Panel; Soldiers Surrender at Azovstal; Russian Soldier on Trial for War Crimes. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired May 18, 2022 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00]

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: To talk about all of this is his wife, Gisele Fetterman, who is the one who urged him to go to the hospital in the first place.

So, first off this morning I'd like to just ask how he's feeling.

GISELE FETTERMAN, WIFE OF PENNSYLVANIA DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE JOHN FETTERMAN: He's feeling great. The pacemaker surgery was extremely successful. He is on the road to a full recovery.

COLLINS: And what's it like for him to win this Democratic nomination from a hospital room?

FETTERMAN: You know, it must be so bittersweet. He's worked so hard for this day and he wasn't able to physically be there to celebrate. But we had a video that he did. And everyone there was celebrating with him. So, we felt him there in spirit. But I am sad that he missed his big day.

COLLINS: It's quite a moment. But, of course, the outcome is what he ultimately wanted. And so I imagine he's angling to get back on the campaign trail.

What have doctors told the two of you about when that can happen?

FETTERMAN: I don't have an exact date yet, but they said soon. I'm making sure right now my priority is that he is well rested. We were hoping to take a week off after Tuesday to, you know, be with the family and rest a bit. His week off started a little bit earlier. But I do want to make sure that he is 100 and ready to go back out there. He, of course, wants to be out there now, but I will not let him.

COLLINS: I know these campaign races can be so grueling. And I wonder, given last night, such a decisive victory for Fetterman, has he heard from President Biden yet on this?

FETTERMAN: He did. I actually spoke with President Biden last night and passed the message. I told him, I'm sorry, President, but he's sleeping right now. So we had a great call last night, heard from many other leaders in D.C. And everyone is excited to move on to -- to -- on November.

COLLINS: So he was asleep when the president called. I'm sure he's not thrilled about that.

What was the president's message to you? What did he want you to pass along to him?

FETTERMAN: A big congratulations and, you know, well wishes on a speedy recovery. And that he can't wait to support us on the way to November to bring home that big win for the Senate.

COLLINS: And we saw that last night President Biden said publicly that regardless of which republican candidate it is going to ultimately be that your husband will run against, he says they have fought a malicious, chaotic primary campaign to be the most extreme. President Biden said they showed that whoever it ultimately is, McCormick or Oz, will be too dangerous, too craven, and too extreme to represent Pennsylvania. And I wonder, is that going to be the argument that your husband is also making until November?

FETTERMAN: I think his argument has always been about our experience, right? What he has accomplished, what he cares about, and what he views. He's never been about attacking other opponents. It's really been about his record and his vision for the state. And I think that's what we'll continue to see.

We believe in running kind, clean campaigns that really focus on the issues and not on who our opponents are.

COLLINS: It's going to be one of the most closely watched Senate races in the nation come November.

Gisele Fetterman, I know you guys have had a very busy few days, so thank you for joining us this morning and breaking the news to us that the president did call last night and you had to pass the message along to your husband.

FETTERMAN: Yes. Thank you so much for having me.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's something, right?

COLLINS: That's really remarkable.

BERMAN: I mean that's something. It's not often the president calls ever. But then, she's like, no, you know, I'm not going to wake him up. He's sleeping right now, Mr. President.

COLLINS: I know. I wonder what he thought of that. You got to wake me up if the president is calling to congratulate me.

But it is notable because President Biden put out that statement last night, as the results for so many of these races were still coming in, but Fetterman had just been called and it was -- it was notable because it really seemed to set the tone for at least what the White House is going to be saying until November. BERMAN: And, of course, the president hadn't endorsed in this primary.

But Conor Lamb, he had campaigned for him in 2018. He had said Conor Lamb reminded him of his son Beau. We know Conor Lamb was something -- someone that President Biden felt very close to and was very fond of, but now firmly behind John Fetterman.

COLLINS: And you see politicians paying very close attention. Of course, President Biden is no stranger to Washington politics and he was -- made clear to point out in his statement he believed Fetterman represents working families and that he has put working class people at the center of his campaign.

BERMAN: It's a hugely important race for Democrats. If they're able to flip this to a blue seat, it might make it easier for them to hold on to the Senate.

COLLINS: Yes. Yes. We'll be waiting to see who John Fetterman will be running against.

But, in the meantime, we also have new developments for you this morning on the nationwide shortage of baby formula. Two children have been hospitalized because their parents were unable to get the very specific formula that they needed.

BERMAN: Plus, the black box data recovered from a Chinese plane crash suggests someone in the cockpit intentionally downed the plane, killing all 132 people on board. We have the brand-new details ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:38:49]

BERMAN: Time now for "5 Things to Know for Your New Day."

Pennsylvania's Republican Senate primary at this point too close to call. Razor thin margin separating celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick. This will almost definitely trigger an automatic recount. The winner will face John Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, who captured the Democratic nomination from his hospital bed after pacemaker surgery.

COLLINS: And in North Carolina, no second term for embattled Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn, who was defeated by State Senator Chuck Edwards last night, of course making him a one-time congressman at this point.

Two children in Tennessee have been hospitalized because of the nationwide formula shortage. Both the toddler and the preschooler have intestinal conditions and their families couldn't get their hands on the specific formula that they needed.

BERMAN: A new "Wall Street Journal" report says black box data recovered from a China Eastern crash back in March suggests that someone in the cockpit intentionally downed the plane. All 132 passengers on board were killed when the flight nosedived from 29,000 feet into the mountains. COLLINS: The U.S. Soccer Federation has agreed to a deal that provides

equal pay going forward for both the men's and women's national teams.

[08:40:00]

The deal resolves a long-standing legal dispute between U.S. Soccer and the women's national team over their bid for equal pay.

BERMAN: So, a baseball fan got extremely lucky at the Astros/Red Sox game Tuesday. Can't believe I have to say this. He caught not one, but two home run balls, not just in the same game, but in the same inning. The unfortunate part about this was it was the Astros who hit five home runs in one inning off of the Boston Red Sox, which is something that should never happen.

COLLINS: You know, when I was at the Astros/Nationals game on Saturday, that did not happen. I did not catch anything.

BERMAN: That's unfortunate.

COLLINS: Those are the "5 Things to Know for Your New Day." We have more on all of these stories all day on CNN and cnn.com. And don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every morning. You can go to cnn.com/5things, and you can also find it wherever you get your podcasts.

BERMAN: So Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger will join us live, responding to an election denier winning the Republican primary in Pennsylvania.

COLLINS: And there has been a major discovery beneath the U.S./Mexico border, where a massive drug tunnel that has electricity and a ventilation system has just been discovered.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:45:32]

COLLINS: Federal agents have just made a shocking discovery, finding a sophisticated mile long tunnel underneath the U.S./Mexico border, stretching from Tijuana for more than 1,700 feet, featuring a rail track system, electricity, even reinforced walls. Officials say they also seized nearly a ton of cocaine.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is live in McAllen, Texas, with more.

Priscilla, this is quite the discovery.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Yes, this is remarkable.

Authorities found this tunnel last Friday, just after midnight. And just some numbers on just how sophisticated this tunnel was. It was six football fields in length, 61 feet deep, and 4 feet in diameter. This is one of the more than dozens of sophisticated tunnels that the government has found over the years in this area of southern California. Six people were arrested and charged with conspiring to distribute

nearly 1,800 pounds of cocaine. They also seized heroin and methamphetamine.

Now, again, for context here, in the southern district of California, since 1993, this according to the DOJ, there have been 90 subterranean passages that have been found.

And, Kaitlan, this is really just one piece of the broader situation on the U.S./Mexico border. Just yesterday Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was here in McAllen, Texas, where he toured with border officials and discussed the border flows, the border crossings here in McAllen, one of the busiest sectors in Texas. And he talked about not yet seeing a significant decrease in unlawful crossings.

Now, the administration is working with its partners to the south, and particularly Mexico, to try to manage the flow of migrants coming to the U.S./Mexico border in anticipation of a Trump era pandemic restriction ending in just days. So the secretary here yesterday discussing that element of the situation here on the border. But this discovery also remarkable over in San Diego.

Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Quite a time on the border.

Priscilla, thank you for being there and bringing us a live report.

BERMAN: So in one of most closely watched races of primary night, Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn lost his bid for a second term. He, of course, has been plagued by controversy.

Joining us now is also a Republican congressman from Illinois, Adam Kinzinger.

Congressman Kinzinger, thank you so much for joining us.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Thank you.

BERMAN: Madison Cawthorn lost. How do you feel about that?

KINZINGER: Well, it's good. I mean it's good for the country. It's good for the party. It's good for the 11th district of North Carolina. I mean, you know, look, D.C. has become kind of a growing ground for people that are just more interested in fame than governing, that are more interested in becoming famous than in actually doing really serious work in a time when, you know, we've got a lot of challenges here at home, and a lot of challenges overseas. And so it was a good thing he lost.

My organization, Country First, country1st.com, we've been on the ground there. We've been spending money, not on endorsing any opponent, but just getting people to turn out -- turn out to the primary. This is the key, John, is, people don't even vote in primaries. Primaries are, unfortunately, where like a vast majority of members of Congress are actually determined. So, I think we made an impact. It's good to see him lose.

BERMAN: I want to ask you about Pennsylvania, because there's something of a different story there. Doug Mastriano has won the Republican nomination for governor there. And Mastriano -- to call him an election denier is an understatement. I mean this is a guy who worked as hard as he could to overturn the will of Pennsylvania voters in the 2020 election. So what does it tell you that he is the Republican nominee for governor now?

KINZINGER: Well, it tells me that if, you know, on my last kind of glad we beat, you know, Madison Cawthorn, if you think that means we're winning this battle for the soul of the Republican Party, it's not true. You know, I think there can be moments of victory and I think this is going to be a long-term fight really for the soul of the whole country.

In this case, you know, look, you can look at this race, you can look at other races and say, it seems like there's almost a competition to see who can become even more crazy and somehow now that is a litmus test of who is conservative. And that's why I think it's important for conservatives, for even moderates and liberals, to take back what being a conservative really means. It doesn't mean being an election denier. It doesn't mean blowing a (INAUDIBLE), you know, the first time you start your campaign and then being pretty much there on January 6th. Being a conservative, we all know what it used to mean.

[08:50:01]

It means you want to spend a little less money and empower people. It doesn't mean you deny elections.

So, look, this will be a long-term fight for the -- for the -- for the soul of this country and particularly the soul of the party.

BERMAN: Congressman, this is the first time we've had a chance to talk to you since the massacre in Buffalo there. Ten people killed because they were shopping and black. And this shooter, it seems, was motivated by white replacement theory, this crazy offensive notion that white people in this country are under threat from minorities of replacing them.

You've called on your own House leadership to say more about this. What are you asking for specifically? How responsible do you feel that some leaders are for creating sort of this environment?

KINZINGER: Well, what I'm asking for is just to spit out the cancer. You know, there was a day Steve King, used to be a member of Congress from Iowa, and he made some racist comments and we basically kicked him off his committees. Today, you know, people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, you know, people like Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, the folks you think about, they are almost leading -- well, I would argue that they are leading the Republican caucus. And so Kevin McCarthy, Elise Stefanik, instead of leading, as, you know, their title, leadership should suggest they do, they basically are tolerating this all in the name of hopefully I become speaker someday. And what happens, John,, is did they pull the trigger? No. You know,

did they call this guy up and tell him to do it? Of course not. But when we, as a party, or a movement, or people like, frankly, Tucker Carlson, you know, throw out these theories or just fish in the waters of white replacement theory or echo some of those kind of fear-based things, you can't be surprised when some people take that to the level of going and massacring people. You just can't. You can't fund-raise. You can't feed. You can't live on fear because eventually you're going to create fearful people. And fearful people can do really bad things. And I think that's what we saw in Buffalo.

BERMAN: Liz Cheney, your colleague who sits on the January 6th committee, your fellow Republican, she put out a pretty strong statement condemning sort of House leadership in this.

KINZINGER: You know, look, what's amazing, John, is, she got kicked out because she wanted the truth about January 6th. She got kicked out by Kevin McCarthy and replaced by Elise Stefanik. And, you know, Elise kind of was playing with this great replacement theory in some Facebook ads. I haven't heard a word from Kevin about this.

I mean this is where we're at. And I think, look, as a party, and as a country, you've got to look back and say, I mean, really, is this what we want to be doing? You know, we can't talk about Ronald Reagan and then pedal in dark fear. We've got to lead people. We have to be light. And I'll tell you, I'm very worried about where we are. And I think, as a country, we have to take real inventory of our tone, of our rhetoric in politics.

BERMAN: Let me ask you a little bit about the business of the January 6th committee. We learned that the Justice Department has asked your committee for transcripts of some of the interviews that you have all done. How do you feel about that, and will those be handed over?

KINZINGER: Well, I think the chairman recently addressed this and I'll defer specifically to his words. But I think they were along the lines of, you know, look, we're not going to specifically turn it over to the Department of Justice. There are some issues there. But we're certainly going to find ways to make sure they know what is in the material, that they get the answers they need.

I'm in line with cooperating with the DOJ 100 percent. I just, you know, I'll defer to the chairman to figure out the technicalities.

I think, look, if there is criminal activity done, we don't want to get in a tail chase where we're constantly kind of prosecuting the last administration because that's what banana republics do. But I've got to tell you, the last administration, it's been -- we've never seen an insurrection. We've never seen somebody try to overthrow democracy. So we absolutely have to have justice on that.

We're going to do that on the committee. Justice needs to do that on the criminal realm.

BERMAN: Well, based on what you've seen, because you've seen the depositions, I haven't, do you think there are grounds for criminal charges?

KINZINGER: I think for certain people. You know. we'll talk more about this in June when we do our hearings. And -- but that will be, again, a decision where we can say, look, here's the information. Does that reach any kind of level of a crime for whoever? That's what DOJ gets to figure out. We're going to present the American people, I think, a compelling story in June.

BERMAN: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, I do appreciate you joining us this morning. Thank you very much.

KINZINGER: You bet.

BERMAN: The first Russian soldier to face trial for war crimes in Ukraine pleads guilty. CNN live with reaction from the courthouse.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:57:02]

COLLINS: After weeks of fierce resistance, Russia's defense ministry says that a thousand Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol since Monday.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports from Lviv.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have new numbers now this morning from the Russian defense ministry saying a thousand Ukrainian soldiers from that steel plant now in Russian hands, either in a Russian prison or a hospital. Those are numbers that neither CNN can confirm and Ukrainians have not updated. But the fate of those soldiers, of course, a great concern to Ukrainian families who have many questions, especially the 50 or so wounded, expected to be traded for Russian prisoners of war. A negotiation continues.

The president of Ukraine, Zelenskyy, trying to reassure its people there is a process in place involving intelligence, as well as security officials from Ukraine and international mediators involved. But the fate of those 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers still uncertain.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, in Lviv.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: And this just in, the first Russian war crimes trial since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine is underway in Kyiv. The 21-year-old Russian soldier accused of killing an unarmed civilian pleaded guilty.

CNN's Melissa Bell live outside of the courthouse in Kyiv.

Melissa.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we had been expecting a fairly dramatic day because we were expecting the testimony of Vadim Shyshimarin (ph), as you say, the first Russian prisoner of war to go on trial here in Kyiv, charged with war crimes. But things have taken an even more dramatic turn than we'd expected since the journalists have just been moved out of the room. There were simply too many of us here given the huge attention that this trial is attracting. It has now been postponed and will be moved to tomorrow.

And, again, a new element that leads us to believe that this will be even more dramatic than we'd expected. Vadim Shyshimarin, for the time being, what we've heard of his proceedings so far, not taking the opportunity to speak. However, we have learned that the prosecution is going to, once this trial picks up again tomorrow, present and hear from the testimony of one of the other Russian soldiers who was traveling with him in that car that day when he shot an unarmed Ukrainian civilian. So, that should add extra drama to this court proceedings tomorrow.

We don't know exactly the circumstances in which this prisoner of war is going to speak, whether he's going to speak in defense of Vadim Shyshimarin or not.

But this trial extremely closely watched. And I just wanted to bring you another update. We just heard there about the fate of the 1,000 fighters from Azovstal. We've just have been hearing from the head of the Donetsk People's Republic, which is where those fighters are being held, that in fact the leaders, the military leaders of the Azovstal battalion are still inside the plant. So that is a new development that is of some significance this morning, John.

BERMAN: The leaders have not left the plant yet.

[09:00:01]

Interesting.

Melissa Bell, thank you so much for these breaking news updates. Appreciate it.

Obviously, a lot going on from Ukraine this morning, as there is a lot going on here in the United States. We're watching closely as Pennsylvania Senate results are coming in.

COLLINS: Still no outcome yet when it comes to who the Republican is going to be running against John Fetterman.

BERMAN: CNN's coverage continues right now.