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New Day Saturday

Biden to Make Major Address on Ukraine Later Today; Ukraine Retakes Territory on Eastern Outskirts of Kyiv; Biden Visiting Poland as War Rages across Ukrainian Border; Biden Warns Business Leaders to Prepare for Cyberattacks; Senator Joe Manchin Says He will Vote for Biden's Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired March 26, 2022 - 06:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your "NEW DAY." It is Saturday, March 26th. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. Thank you so much for spending your morning with us.

Our colleague, Wolf Blitzer, joining us from Warsaw, Poland where President Biden is set to meet with the Polish president this morning.

Wolf, good morning to you.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, guys. This is going to be a very important historic day. And we're really happy to be here in Poland watching all of this unfold.

The president of the United States now preparing to speak to what is being described as the challenge that lies ahead in Ukraine. Today, President Biden will deliver what the White House is calling a major address on Russia's war against Ukraine, and what the conflict means not just for the U.S. but for the world.

We also learned just a little while ago that the president will attend a separate meeting today with top Ukrainian officials - Ukrainian officials who have come here to Poland. The White House says President Biden will drop by a meeting between Secretary of State Tony Blinken and the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Ukrainian counterparts. And the president will hear directly from the Ukrainian leadership on what is going on in this war.

The president also will sit down with the Polish President Andrzej Duda soon to discuss the refugee crisis and the response of the United States and its allies. He'll also meet with Ukrainian refugees. This will be very important. And American humanitarian workers who are trying to help.

All this comes right on the heels of the president's visit with U.S. troops in Poland yesterday. Met with members of the 82nd Airborne Division who have been deployed along NATO's eastern edge as a deterrent to Vladimir Putin. Ukrainian forces say, they are going on a counterattack right now on the capital Kyiv. U.S. Defense officials says Russian troops are now in what is being described as defensive positions in some territories and Ukrainian forces appeared to have retaken some of the territory to the east of the capital Kyiv.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is now asking the United States for more firepower. Zelenskyy says he needs at least - at least 500 additional stinger, antiaircraft missiles and 500 javelin antitank missiles.

As we wait for the president to meet with the Polish president - President Duda, let's get the latest here in Warsaw. Our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is with me today.

You're going to be with us all day today. It's going to be a long and important historic day.


BLITZER: The president has been preparing for this for a long time. This is going to be significant because it could determine where the U.S. moves next.

COLLINS: Yes. And I think this meeting this morning that he is going to stop by, it's a meeting that the Secretary of State Blinken is having and the Defense Secretary Austin with two top Ukrainian officials, the foreign minister and the defense minister. And we are told now that President Biden is going stop by that meeting.

And I think that's - it's notable because it's the first time he's meeting with high-ranking Ukrainian officials since he's been on this trip. And so, the White House says we will see some of this meeting that President Biden is going to attend. We'll see, of course, what the topic is.

But then he's got these really big meetings with the Polish president. And we know President Duda has called on the White House to do more when it comes to what Poland is dealing with, which is this influx of refugees. Over 2 million refugees have come here through Poland since this invasion began just a month ago.

And President Duda has asked the White House to speed up processing to get refugees who would like to come to the United States, who have family in the United States there. He's also raised this idea that was rejected almost by the White House last week of an international peace-keeping mission in Ukraine. That is something that would require U.S. forces, NATO forces to go into Ukraine and something the White House has said they do not believe it would work, but whether or not it gets brought up in this meeting that President Biden is having with President Duda today will be very interesting.

BLITZER: And White House officials are clearly sensitive to the fact that at least so far what we're hearing from top Ukrainian officials is disappointment in the outcome of the NATO summit. COLLINS: Well, they're unhappy because they wanted a no-fly zone. Also, you heard President Zelenskyy calling for more fighter jets. That is something that President Biden said the other day, he doesn't think is something that they need. They were talking about what they have supplied Ukraine with, these antiaircraft missiles, these antitank missiles. They believe that's enough right now, Wolf. And they don't need the fighter jets. They don't believe based on a U.S. assessment that officials have been citing.

And so, I do think one thing that you saw coming out of this summit was Ukrainian officials talking about how they do feel there are needs to be more conversations with Russian officials about what this is going to look like going forward. That's obviously something the White House is watching very closely.


BLITZER: We're going to be watching all of this unfold today. Stand by for a moment, Kaitlan. I want to turn to Ukraine. What's going on in Ukraine itself. Senior U.S. Defense official says Russian forces are in what's being described as defensive positions around the capital of Kyiv and have stopped ground movements at least toward the city.

CNN's Phil Black is joining us live from Lviv right now.

So, what's the very latest, Phil? What are you hearing? What are you seeing?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ukrainian forces are pushing back. In recent days, they have shifted their operations. Not just defending but launching counteroffensive moves in key locations and with some success. Notably around the capital Kyiv, to the west, to the east as well.

Now a Russian general, a senior Russian general, has made comments which suggest much of what we've seen from Russia on the battlefields so far has been a deliberate diversion, a distraction, an attempt to divide and weaken Ukraine's forces. He says Russia is approaching and is encircling some of these big Ukrainian cities, not because it wants to take them but as an effort to tie down Ukraine's forces. So that now that is done, Russia can focus on what it really cares about which he says is consolidating control in the east of the country, in the so-called Donbas region, where Russia has acknowledged the independence, recognized the independence of two breakaway republics there.

Now all of this is very different to what much of the world, to what experts say Russia has been trying to achieve here in recent weeks. They say Russia thought that it could move in very quickly, overwhelm Ukraine's forces, take the capital, and control the country within a very short space of time.

In that context, it is difficult to assess precisely what Russia means by these latest comments, whether it's simply messaging to a domestic audience to explain its poor performance on the battlefield, perhaps deliberate distraction to Ukraine and its allies or it could be a signal that Russia is reassessing what is realistically achievable here in Ukraine based upon its performance so far. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Phil. We're going to get back to you. Stand by. We're watching all of these unfold. Kaitlan is still with us. We're ready to discuss all the pivotal moments that are unfolding on the world stage right now.

Also joining us, CNN global affairs analyst, "TIME" magazine contributor Kim Dozier and CNN national security analyst Steve Hall. He's the former CIA chief of Russia operations.

Guys, thanks very much. Once again, a very important day here in Poland.

You know, Steve, after one month of fighting, the Russian military clearly has not been able to capture Ukraine's capital of Kyiv. U.S. Defense officials say Russian forces are now in what they call defensive positions around the capital of Kyiv. How does this weigh on Putin's calculus right now as he decides what to do next?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, I think it's - I think it's a key indicator, Wolf, of which direction Putin might have to go based on where this war is looking like it's going, which is nowhere fast for the Russians. I thought yesterday's announcements from the Russian side about, well now we can really focus on Donbas is sort of a transparent attempt to explain certainly domestically as well as internationally and perhaps even to themselves. You know, well, things aren't going as well as possible so now we're going to focus on the Donbas.

But of course, we all know that when Putin kicked this whole thing off, it was much more about the denazification and ridding Ukrainian - you know, the Ukrainian people, liberating them from their current leadership which all turned out to be somewhat ridiculous.

So I think this is a real important moment as Putin may be getting or there may be a sign that he's beginning to rethink this and maybe thinking about how to get out of it.

BLITZER: You know, Kim, you've suggested that President Biden's meetings here in Poland with Ukrainian refugees today could actually shift his calculus on how much aid the United States is willing to provide Ukraine is also going to be stopping by this meeting that's happening right now, by the way, with top U.S. and Ukrainian officials. He'll drop by that meeting. We'll get a readout, of course, at some point. What impact do you think all of this is going to have?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it's a lot harder to say no when you're hearing from those involved in the fight directly. And they can lay out their explanation. For instance, of why they want those MiG-29 jets from Poland.

It's also an opportunity for President Biden to do some fence mending with Polish leaders. He had been harsh about the government of Poland during the presidential campaign because Poland has been engaged in an all-out fight with the EU, rhetorically anyway, over its imposition of a new media law, its crackdown on LGBTQ rights and its crackdown on judges. So, you know, Vladimir Putin has done the impossible. He's brought Biden to Poland and made a rough push between Biden and its leaders and done the same thing between Poland and the EU.


So there will be a lot to discuss, also an opportunity to say thank you for taking the majority of the risk right now, not just the 2 million refugees out of Ukraine, but a lot of the weapons flows, et cetera, are coming from Poland into Ukraine, and Poland is risking those attacks that Russia has threatened on those supply lines that are keeping the Ukraine war effort going. Wolf?

BLITZER: That's a good point as well.

You know, Kaitlan, the president - you know, his national security adviser yesterday said this is going to be a major address he's going to be delivering in a few hours here. Of course, we'll have live coverage on CNN. But the stakes right now are enormous because U.S. officials tell me that what's happening in Ukraine right now, they are in a pivotal moment.

COLLINS: They certainly are. And they realized that at the White House, but they also realized this isn't ending anytime soon. And they do realize that there is a long stretch ahead of this, so they want to make sure that they are carefully navigating this.

And so, when President Biden speaks today, what we're hearing from officials is really that it's going to be this culmination of this trip here. This is a very abruptly scheduled trip that President Biden said he really wanted that NATO summit, that emergency summit of the NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday to happen. And that he played a big role in getting that together, getting those leaders all together in one room to talk about this and looking ahead to the fact that they're going to be meeting again in June, Wolf, and this is likely going to still be an issue that it's at the top of their agenda.

I do think yesterday you saw the president trying to highlight the human toll of this invasion of Ukraine, talking about these refugees, talking about how the women and children who have fled Ukraine have had very little except the clothes on their back basically. And today, he is going to come face-to-face with some of those Ukrainian refugees.

Yesterday he was talking to the U.S. forces who are here. Today it's going to be the Ukrainian refugees. And then we'll hear from him after that in that speech. And what officials are saying is essentially that will reflect that.

And I do think the question, as Kim raised is, what does it change when it comes to the U.S. policy. Does it change any of the assessments that they've made? When it comes to fighter jets, we don't believe it does because even though there were those impassioned appeals by President Zelenskyy, I was still told after by U.S. officials that has not changed their calculus on getting those fighter jets to Ukraine. Adding to that is, of course, it's the Polish who - Polish president and the Polish officials and the Polish foreign ministry who raised the idea of these MiG-29s going to Ukraine. That is something the Pentagon rejected because they said it would be too difficult to actually get them and facilitate the transfer of them into Ukraine.

BLITZER: Yes. The Polish leadership said they had some older MiG-29s, Soviet made planes. They could provide them to Ukraine and the U.S. would supply Poland with additional U.S. aircraft - better U.S aircraft.


BLITZER: The U.S. said at least for the time being, said no. You know, it's interesting. And I want to bring Steve back into this conversation. These meetings that are unfolding, they're watching all of this, what's going on here in Warsaw. And what -- we were in Brussels at the NATO summit earlier. They're watching all of this very, very carefully. But at the same time, Steve, clearly, you've got to give the Ukrainian leadership, President Zelenskyy and Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian military a lot of credit because they're clearly taking advantage of some major military wins.

HALL: Yes, most definitely, Wolf. I mean certainly on the battlefield but also diplomatically. The Ukrainians are really -- they're really exceeding expectations, which you know, as Zelenskyy sort of reminded us of that the other day when he said that, hey, don't let anybody, you know, tell you or don't accuse Ukraine of not being, you know, NATO-ready in terms of military because he says we're the ones out there actually fighting the Russians and having some significant success.

So yes, it's really remarkable. And then, Zelenskyy himself, just politically, you remember before the crisis, there were a lot of people who were, you know, not particularly complimentary of Mr. Zelenskyy with regard to his being a politician in his former actor status. Well, he's really come through in spades this time not only being a good, you know, source of leadership for his own country, but also, continuing to put the pressure on the West. Saying, look, we need this if we're going to continue as a country.

So he has been effective in the country. The Ukraine has been effective. The resilience has been amazing in the military stuff. He's also been, you know, quite surprisingly good.

BLITZER: When you said quite surprisingly, Kim, I think it's fair to say that U.S. intelligence was pretty much right on target in projecting what the Russians were going to do in Ukraine. They anticipated it. They predicted it. They were surprised, to put it mildly, by how effective the Ukrainian military has turned out to be. They thought the Russian military, 150,000 -- 200,000 Russian troops would walk in, within a few days, they take over.

DOZIER: Well, U.S., Canadian, and British and other NATO trainers had worked with the Ukrainian military to professionalize it. And to change a lot of the things that you see the Russian army doing wrong. They improved their logistics. They installed an NCO corps. That's the noncommissioned officers that take care of the troops. It helps with morale, something you can see lacking with the Russian troops.


They also replaced all the old Soviet generals with some of the young officers. And this was done by Ukraine as it was trying to prove that it could be a member of NATO. They also drilled over and over and over exactly what they would do in case of a Russian invasion, and one of the things they did was they combined special operations forces together with their conventional forces and they drilled things like how to draw the Russians into an ambush. That's the kind of thing we see them doing over and over right now to great success.

So basically, what we're seeing is the old way of Russian fighting versus the new way of NATO fighting. And that is how Ukraine is measuring up. The one thing the trainers would tell you is they couldn't measure will to fight, and that's what Ukraine has in spades.

BLITZER: Yes. It's interesting. You know, what are you hearing? And I know you've got good sources over there at the White House and elsewhere in Washington, Kaitlan, about their assessment of Putin right now because, you know, this is awkward for the Russian leader. He thought they were going to move in quickly and win. That's not happening.

COLLINS: Well, and I think what they're also trying to look into is what's happening inside Moscow right now and his relationships with his top military aides. Because as we know, the top senior U.S. officials have not spoken to senior Russian officials since the invasion began. They have tried to get in touch with them. Defense Secretary Austin has tried to call his counterpart in Russia. They're not answering the phone.

And I think when you talk to White House officials, obviously they're speculating on what it could be. There are many reasons here. But they think that Putin is really frustrated with his military leadership. And what he's seen playout in Ukraine. Because clearly, it is not at all what they expected. And they say, it's obviously deeply embarrassing for Russia, what they expected. I think that's really interesting as well.

It is, of course, notable what -- how the U.S. is approaching Putin and his standing on the global stage. Obviously, they've tried to isolate him. And what President Biden saying yesterday, he does not believe Russia should be able to participate in the G20, which is this summit of the leading economies in the world. It does reflect going forward, this different position. From a president who just a year ago was sharing the world stage with Putin in Geneva, trying to attempt the stable, what predictable relationship as he framed it. And we've seen how that's really been turned on its head with this Russian invasion.

BLITZER: Yes. You and I were there last year when that - that summit took place between Putin and President Biden. It was very, very significant. And it's not just the U.S. defense secretary who is not getting his phone calls returned from the Russian defense minister. It's the chairman of the joint chiefs, General Milley. Normally, he would pick up the phone, call his Russian counterpart. They talk right away. And that's not happening right now.


BLITZER: And U.S. officials are watching it. Kaitlan is going to be with us all day today. Kim Dozier, Steve Hall, you guys are going to be coming back as well.

We're just getting this coming into CNN. Russia now claims it carried out new strikes - new strikes on -- what they're calling several military targets in Ukraine. We're going to have all the late-breaking developments, all of the latest. That's coming up.

Plus, Ukrainian forces have made some progress, some pretty dramatic progress over the past few days, but how long can they hold back Russian forces without reinforcements? Our military experts, they are also standing by to weigh in.

Much more on this historic day that is unfolding here in Warsaw and in Ukraine when we come back.



COLLINS: Live here in Warsaw.

SANCHEZ: We're just about 23 minutes past the hour live in Warsaw, Poland. Wolf Blitzer and Kaitlan Collins standing by as President Joe Biden is set to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda. I believe we have Wolf now. Can you hear me, Wolf?

BLITZER: I'm not hearing anything.

SANCHEZ: It appears that we're still having some technical difficulties. The two leaders were expected to meet to discuss how the United States and allies can respond to Russia's war on Ukraine. We do expect to see President Biden at the top of the hour. And we will, of course, bring you those pictures as they happen.

As of this morning, Russia is claiming to have achieved its initial goals in the war in Ukraine, and now they will focus on what it calls the liberation of the eastern Donbas region. A top Russian general says the encirclement of Ukrainian cities like Kyiv is a deliberate plan to tie down Ukrainian forces to prevent them from focusing on Donbas in the eastern part of the country.

Moments ago, Russia said it carried out a new round of strikes on several Ukrainian military targets, but Ukraine's military has made progress in recent days, taking back towns in the eastern outskirts of Kyiv.

I believe we have Steve Hall still with us as well as retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton on to discuss the latest developments.

First to you, Colonel Leighton, your reaction to this news that the Russian focus is going to be on eastern Ukraine, the Donbas, instead of taking the entire country. It seems like perhaps an admission that their ambitions should be restrained.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. That's a good way to put it, Boris. Good morning.

Yes. They bit off more than they could chew in this case. And they -- you know, it shows the weakness of the Russian military structure and really Russian military doctrine. When you look at the way in which they've done this, this is kind of the textbook approach to -- as to not -- have them not do a modern war. And to that, I think that's what we're seeing here. They are still dangerous. The Russians are - you know, the latest missile strikes, cruise missile strikes against the Ukrainian military targets are very significant.


But it's pretty clear on the ground that the Ukrainians are putting up a very good fight, and the move by the Russians to say that they're focusing now on the Donbas, you know, could be interpreted as going back to an original warring, but it's clearly much less than they intended when they initially started this event four weeks ago.

SANCHEZ: Colonel Leighton, Steve Hall, please stand by. I'm going to send it back to Wolf Blitzer who is with us from Warsaw. A bit of a technical hiccup there, Wolf, but we're glad to send it back to you.

BLITZER: It's a little windy here in Warsaw, but it's a beautiful city and a historic city as well.

Kaitlan Collins, our chief White House correspondent is here as well.

You know, Steve, as you know, a U.S. Defense official has said that Russia is running low -- running low on those air launched cruise missiles. Do all the Russian missteps at least so far over this first month of this war, explain why Russia is apparently right now - this is pretty dramatic -- lowering expectations about what it will accomplish?

HALL: Yes, I think it is a strong indication about, Wolf. I mean, I think the Russians are probably wondering, you know, why isn't this like 2008 when we invaded Georgia and it was over pretty much in a matter of days and we were out of there, basically taking the top half of the country with us. There were some problems with that military operation on the Russian side, but the thought was that, OK, the Russians - you know, that was sort of practice for them on a much bigger target against Ukraine and they would work things out on the battlefield as well as military communications and so forth. And that apparently has not happened.

And then on the political side of things, of course, what message does it send both domestically to Russians as well as the international community and, of course, Ukraine that the Russians are now saying, oh, no, no, this is really all about Donbas. We're just doing this other stuff in the country, these indiscriminate bombings and, you know, surrounding places like Mariupol and pounding them so hard.

We're just doing that because that's in support of our operation in the Donbas. I think that's transparently false. It's going to be interesting to see how the Russians play this politically now they packaged it to message really where they want to go from here, which we don't know yet. We don't know where they want to go yet.

BLITZER: Yes. They thought it would be relatively simple like Crimea was a few years ago. They took Crimea, still have Crimea.

You know, Colonel Leighton, Russia says only -- I quote "only" -- 1,300 Russian troops have been killed. Western officials say that number is much, much higher, maybe 10,000, 16,000. President Zelenskyy says it's 16,000 Russian troops have been killed.

We know Putin is trying to control the narrative of this war but is that message for Russia's domestic -- domestic consumption -- still, a thousand or 1,500 Russian troops dead, that's not going to be pleasing to the Russians.

LEIGHTON: Not at all. And in fact, the deaths of Russians soldiers, the effort by the Russian government and at that time the Soviet government to control that kind of messaging back in the 1980s, you know, when they were in Afghanistan was a major factor in actually destroying not only Russian morale but the Russian ability to actually do a mission -- conducted mission in that country. We're seeing the same thing. This is one of those moments, Wolf, when bad news does not age well. And that's one of the things that I think the Russians are going to be dealing with. The Putin regime has to really take into account the fact that they're going to have some very angry parents dealing with, you know, with their dead sons in this case, and that's a very -- not only a very tragic thing for them but it's also something that could seriously undermine the Russian government.

BLITZER: Kaitlan, when President Biden meets soon right behind us at this big stadium -- this football stadium here in Warsaw with these Ukrainian refugees, he gets -- he'll get emotional speaking to them, seeing the little kids, seeing the grandparents, seeing the women, most of the men, the Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60, they've had to stay behind --


BLITZER: -- in Ukraine. But this is going to be a powerful personal moment for this president of the United States.

COLLINS: I think it certainly has that opportunity. And that's something that the White House has been talking about. Because even yesterday, they said when President Biden was getting this briefing from the top humanitarian officials who have been handling the refugee crisis since this invasion started, they talked about him being in the room and really having this sense of what they have been working with day in and day out, and he was talking about the women and the children and seeing that and what those images really mean to him. And I think that really does speak to also today. And President Biden was saying yesterday, he actually wanted to go into Ukraine. He said he wanted to see this war up close. He wanted to meet with the Ukrainians who are still there and speak to them face-to-face. But he indicated that because of security reasons that is not something that was ever really on the table. That's what we were told by White House officials. That it wasn't something they had strongly considered obviously, given Ukraine is in active warzone right now.

And so, I do think that there is the chance for that to happen today though as he's coming face-to-face with these Ukrainian refugees, meeting with them and talking to them about what their experiences have been. And so, I do think there is a chance for that to happen. And I think you'll see that reflected in the speech that he's going to give after he meets with them for several hours.


BLITZER: Yes, well, he sees these little kids who are now refugees, so many of these 3.5 million Ukrainian refugees who have fled, and more than 2 million have come here to Poland where we are right now. When he speaks to them, when he hears their stories -- and he's a grandfather too, and it's going to be a powerful moment, we're watching --

COLLINS: Yes, and the stories --

BLITZER: Unfold --

COLLINS: Heartbreaking. So, how could you not?

BLITZER: Yes, very heartbreaking. Kaitlan is going to be with us all day. We're watching all of this unfold. This is a historic day here in Warsaw. Our Colonel Cedric Leighton, Steve Hall, guys, thank you very much. Boris and Christi, I've got to tell you, I'm very honored to be watching history unfold here. I was in Brussels, and now here in Warsaw, I know Kaitlan is as well and we're happy to be reporting the news. Let's hope its good news because the news has been so awful over the past month.

PAUL: Wolf, you -- we are so glad you and Kaitlan are leading this. We're learning so much from the two of you, thank you, thank you both so much. And listen, as we wait for President Biden, there are some warnings from the FBI this morning that Russian hackers could launch a direct cyberattack on the U.S. The troubling signs officials are pointing to this morning. That's coming up. Stay close.



PAUL: Thirty-five minutes past the hour right now, and in just a short time, President Biden is meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda. The two are expected to discuss the response to the growing refugee crisis. Out of the nearly 4 million who have left Ukraine, more than 2 million of them have been registered in Poland, and that number is expected to grow as the war drags on. Now, President Biden also set to deliver a speech built by the White House as a quote, "major address on the war in Ukraine" before returning to Washington. Boris?

SANCHEZ: There are new warnings this week from the White House about potential Russian cyberattacks. Top U.S. officials are saying that Intelligence shows the Kremlin has been preparing for a strike, and they could go after U.S. companies and critical infrastructure. The news is coming as CNN confirms the FBI issued a notice that hackers associated with Russian internet addresses, scanned the networks of five energy firms and more than a dozen other companies.

Joining us now to discuss, Javed Ali, he served as the senior counterterrorism director at the National Security Council. Javed, great to have your expertise this morning, we appreciate you joining us. Help us understand this scanning of different American companies amid these warnings about preparatory activity by Russia. What do hackers gain from scanning these networks? Is it an indication that there's an imminent attack?

JAVED ALI, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Boris, great to be with you this morning. And so, there's a pretty troubling development, and it looks like the Biden administration is revealing what probably was fairly sensitive or if not classified Intelligence about this kind of digital or electronic activity, and it suggests, if this is all true, that Russian-based hackers most likely from Russia's security services have at least put their digital fingerprints into different electronic systems inside the United States.

Now, it doesn't mean that an attack is imminent or even likely, but the fact that we're detecting this kind of activity and now revealing it publicly is a pretty interesting sign, and hopefully, by doing this, it will deter the Russians from further activity.

SANCHEZ: Help us understand that context. They put their fingerprints in these networks, what does that mean?

ALI: So, hacking is a fairly complicated kind of activity, but through these electronic means with malicious code or software, hackers could get into these digital networks and critical infrastructure here, other U.S.-based companies. So, that looks like that's the kind of activity that folks on our side here in the United States or with our allies overseas are detecting. Now, it doesn't mean that even if this software is inside or code is inside these systems, that doesn't mean that it will lead to any kind of deleting of data or the physical impairment of how these systems operate.

But the fact that it looks like these -- again, these fingerprints or footprints are in these systems suggest that they're already inside potentially or trying to get inside, and now it's a question of waiting and watching or potentially trying to kick them out.

SANCHEZ: It could be a signal or a flair to let the United States know that they are there, right? So, give us the context, the potential, the capability that these hackers aligned with the Kremlin might have to wreak havoc in the United States and the rest of the West ALI: So, I would argue that Russia is by far and away the world's most

aggressive and sophisticated and capable cyber adversary to the United States. And the Russians through their security services and third parties' proxies have engaged in a series of cyber operations against the United States, stretching back a decade.

So, this isn't new, it's just the context is different. And again, the capabilities that we already know Russia has to delete data, to impair the physical operation of systems in the real world, these are -- this is what the threat potentially could look like, and weather Russia chooses to go down that road in the future, it remains to be seen.

President Biden has said for the last month that if Russia dares to attack critical infrastructure here in the United States with this kind of aggressive cyber operations, that the consequences will be very high. He said it in February, and he said it this week as well.


So, again, I think what the White House is trying to signal to the Russians that we know what we're doing, we have the Intelligence about it, but if you dare to take that next step, there will be a heavy price to pay.

SANCHEZ: You know, the concern obviously is that this might be a symmetrical warfare. The West has many more targets than some of our opponents when it comes to cyber space. We've got to leave the conversation there. Javed Ali, I appreciate your insight. Thanks so much.

ALI: Thank you.

PAUL: All right. So, no vote from Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans is evident. But Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will likely see the closest Supreme Court confirmation vote in history. We want to take a look at the numbers and what's next? Stay close.



SANCHEZ: A major development yesterday on Capitol Hill, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin saying he will vote for President Biden's Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Harris -- rather, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

PAUL: Yes, which means that she'll most likely be confirmed as the first black woman to sit on the nation's high court. I want to go to CNN's Daniella Diaz right now, she's on Capitol Hill. Daniella, good to see you this morning. So Judge Jackson, we watched it, faced some intense questioning from Senate Republicans this week during the hearings. Talk to us about where that has left -- where that's left the whole process.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Christi, Boris, it was an intense questioning and test-line of questioning indeed. Of course, Ketanji Brown Jackson met for days with the Senate Judiciary Committee, this being of course, the fourth time she's faced the Senate Judiciary Committee for a job that's being probably the most high-profile job she'll ever have, serving as the first black woman on the Supreme Court bench.

And she really handled herself as they questioned her on allegations, they floated for weeks that she has been soft on crime, on her past as a prosecutor, as an attorney, as a public defender, and, of course, questioning her on her judicial philosophy if she were to be confirmed to the Supreme Court in a Biden administration. But look, there doesn't seem to be any Republicans that will support her nomination.

You know, we were keeping an eye on three Republicans specifically, Graham, Collins, Murkowski who supported her for the D.C. Circuit In 2021. However, Graham said he's not going to support her, and Collins and Murkowski had not yet said which way they will vote. So, this will likely be one of the tightest confirmation votes in history, but Democrats do not need any Republican votes.

But I do want to reflect on one moment that happened this week that everyone is still talking about where Senator Cory Booker; a Democrat from New Jersey, had a tender moment with Ketanji Brown Jackson and brought her to tears as he applauded her history as an attorney and how she might be and will likely be the first black woman to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Take a listen to what he said.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Today, you're my star. You are my harbinger of hope. This country is getting better and better and better. And when that final vote happens and you ascend onto the highest court in the land, I'm going to rejoice.


DIAZ: That was quite the moment that people are still talking about where he brought her to tears as you can see there. But really, first, the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to meet and vote Ketanji Brown Jackson out of committee by April 4th, and then the full Senate floor vote will happen after that. So, just a couple of weeks until she's likely confirmed as the first black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Christi?

PAUL: Historic for sure. Daniella Diaz, we appreciate it so much, thank you. We'll be right back.



CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning everybody, I'm Carolyn Manno with a look at sports, and a tiny, but mighty St. Peters University with an undergraduate enrollment of just over 2,000 students continues to captivate the entire nation. St. Peters after knocking off second-seeded Kentucky and seventh-seeded Murray State. The defensively gritty Peacocks stunning number 3 Purdue in a 67-64 nail-biter in Philly.

I was actually on campus for students and alumni in New Jersey City, New Jersey for the historic win last night. And take a look at this, a proud bunch who are probably still dancing this morning. St. Peter's is a very tight-knit community. They believe that the darlings of the tournament aren't done yet. The road doesn't get any easier though in front of college basketball's Blue Bloods North Carolina up next tomorrow afternoon.

And meanwhile, South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley is leading the charge to close the equality gap after last year's viral tournament controversy, and Coy Wire spoke with this week's difference maker.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: This is the first time this tournament is being called March Madness. You know, the NCAA was called out last year for some of the inequities that were seen between the women's and men's game. Have you seen any kind of progress yet?

DAWN STALEY, HEAD COACH, SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS: Well, I mean, there's huge progress. The signage, the -- everything, the swag bags, all of our players that, you know, that experience what they experienced last year, you can feel it.

WIRE: What do you think are some of the keys to moving forward?

STALEY: I think the keys to moving forward is, we had to be treated like a sport, like a real sport, like a revenue-producing sport.

WIRE: Yes --

STALEY: I don't know if it's going to be on the magnitude of what March Madness is for the men, but I know one thing, they invested in it. And I know the numbers keep growing and growing and growing and growing. Imagine that there's multimillion-dollars behind it.

WIRE: We're walking on Dawn Staley way right now. It's an honor. How does that make you feel?

STALEY: I hope this is a place where people will come and say, this is where women get treated well.


What are they doing at the University of South Carolina to grow not only our game, but grow women in a way that any profession and where, you know, there is inequitable pay? I think if a man is doing a better job than me, then pay him. But if I'm doing a better job than the man, pay me.

WIRE: That's right.

STALEY: It's quite simple. I don't know --

WIRE: Yes --

STALEY: How we get to a point where we're choosing because of your sex.

WIRE: What is your dream for women sports?

STALEY: I want people to invest in it. You don't have to hand stuff to us. Like we got the formula of being a great sport. If you just pour into that, I know we can be a sport in which people will clamor to be a part of. So invest in us.


MANNO: Coach Staley's top-seeded Gamecocks have looked really good in the tournament so far, continuing their March Madness journey by knocking out North Carolina last night. Of course, it's about so much more than winning on the women's side. Much more ahead on NEW DAY. We'll be right back after this.