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U.S. Hits Russia with Sweeping Sanctions, Expels Diplomats Over Cyberhacking, Election Interference, Aggression in Crimea Region; Ex- Officer Charged with Second-Degree Manslaughter in Wright Killing; Trial Resumes for Ex-Cop Charged in George Floyd's Death. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired April 15, 2021 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.

The breaking news this hour, President Biden has just signed an executive order imposing a wide range of new economic and diplomatic sanctions on Russia, this in response to Russia's SolarWinds hack of several federal agencies, its interference to the 2020 election, and its ongoing occupation of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine with a big buildup along the border there.

CNN's Kylie Atwood joins me now from the State Department. Kylie, tell us what's new in these sanctions because, you know, I can't count how many rounds of sanctions there have been against Russia to this point, but this has some new elements.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it does, Jim. So, I think, as you pointed out there, one of the things that this executive order and sanctions by treasury are doing today are seeking to go after Russia economically, to target their sovereign debt.

Now, their actions that are being taken today, financial restrictions on American companies that are going to go in effect in a few months here, and then there is also the possibility that this administration could actually use this executive order to then put into place more restrictions that are going to target Russia economically.

It's clear here the Biden administration is sending a signal if they are going to try and go after Russia economically, if they continue to carry out malign actions against the United States. The other thing they're doing is expelling ten Russian officials. Essentially, the bottom line here is that they are saying that these are Russian spies. They have 30 days to get out of the country.

The other thing that the Biden administration is doing for the first time is that the Russian intelligence service, their intelligence arm, was responsible for the SolarWinds hack. Now, that is that hack against nine U.S. government agencies and about 100 U.S. companies that was carried out last year. And so they are putting a finger on who was responsible and then they're going further. They're sanctioning those companies that were involved with the hack. And they're also sanctioning individuals and entities that were involved in the interference, the attempted interference of the 2020 presidential election.

Now, one thing I want to point out here is the Biden administration is saying that they want a stable and predictable relationship with Russia. And so National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier this morning on CNN that when President Biden had a phone call with President Putin earlier this week, he gave him a heads-up that these actions were coming this week.

But he also proposed that the two leaders meet together in a summit. It is clear that the Biden administration wants to keep open channels of communication but they aren't holding back here with regard to where they're willing to go in fighting back against Russian actions against the U.S. and against allies. Of course, some actions -- some new sanctions on Crimea as well today. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Yes. It seems like a geopolitical carrot and a stick, perhaps. We see how Russia responds. Kylie Atwood at the state, thanks very much.

Joining me now, Juliette Kayyem, she's former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Homeland Security.

And, Juliette, you followed Russia's malign activities here in the U.S., including interference in the elections for some time, as well as the U.S. response to this. And this is very familiar, expel some diplomats, impose some economic sanctions.

What does appear to be different here is going after Russia's access to bond markets. Why does that matter? Because it affects their ability to borrow money. Countries need to borrow money. And I wonder do you see that as a significant step forward in these new sanctions?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I do. And I see a couple aspects to this that are significantly different. I mean, one, is of course, as Kylie just said, the attribution to the SSVR, Russia's intelligence wing. That is important, just naming and shaming aspect that we know exactly what Russia was doing.

And the second is, as you said, the financial sanctions that we should really view as political. I mean, in other words, for Putin, if the oligarchs are unhappy, they are unhappy with him. And that is the point of this. The oligarchs, for a long time, have supported Putin because he's made them very, very rich. But our sanctions in the past have not really impacted them or they have not been sustainable.

So the difference now is, of course, we are impacting or hoping to impact Putin's strength among the very rich class in Russia because he really does not, as we've seen in the last couple of months, have popular support. So this is different and significant.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I mean, because these guys, they store their money overseas, right?


They steal it from the country and buy expensive stuff overseas, right? I've seen some of Putin's properties overseas.

KAYYEM: They have a good life here, yes, that is true.

SCIUTTO: They do. Now, there is a property element of this in the executive order, appearing to block Russian individuals from access to property assets in the U.S. I know they're more active in Europe. You can see some very wealthy homes in London, for instance, owned by some very wealthy Russians, but is that something that is also a pressure point on the oligarchs who support Putin?

KAYYEM: Yes. Their ability to live well and their ability, also remember, for their children to live well, which they like to do both in Europe and the United States.

And I think what is important is this is not simply a statement to Russia. I think it is also a warning to U.S. financial institutions about how much they play with Russia and this -- and their assets and debt market here. So this will probably -- this will impact banks and financial behavior.

But we shouldn't forget the other point to this, of course, which is the SolarWinds. You know, SolarWinds, people -- SolarWinds is not significant. Their clients are significant. The hack into SolarWinds was impacted national security because SolarWinds clients included major companies as well as the U.S. government. So recognizing that is part of the sanctions is essential at this stage because that had dramatic impact on our internet and homeland security.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And, listen, this administration has called Russia out, unlike the previous administration, despite the fact that the intelligence showed the same thing. Russia did it. The president tweeted, maybe China. And, by the way, had his political appointees kind of skew the intel, right, to make it seem like, well, China, Iran, Russia, they're all in the same category here.

Just briefly, how important is it for the U.S. to speak with one voice and say we know you did it and we're going to hold you to account?

KAYYEM: It's essential and you see the intelligence agencies yesterday testified to Russia's impact and influence on the U.S. elections and what we should do to stop them. So what I like about this is that it's so normal. I know we are not used to normal anymore. Your intelligence is telling one thing. The policy people at the White House and the national security team respond to it. And that is -- it's no longer personal.

And I think what is significant here is that President Biden is with one hand saying, okay, we have a U.S. interest, which is stopping Russia from meddling, but I also have an interest in having relationships with Russia for a variety of reasons, and I will continue to do that. It has nothing to do with Biden's personality or whether he likes or doesn't like Putin or whether Putin likes him. This is how superpowers act. And it's sort of nice to feel after a while, to be honest.

SCIUTTO: Yes, that's how you handle the difficult friends, right? I know what you're up to but let's sit down for dinner. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

KAYYEM: It's not about me. That feels good.

SCIUTTO: Juliette Kayyem, thanks you very much.

KAYYEM: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: In just hours, former Police Officer Kim Potter will make her first court appearance in the death -- shooting death of Daunte Wright. Potter is now charged with second-degree manslaughter. You may remember, she shot and killed Wright on Sunday after police say she mistakenly pulled her fire arm when she meant to pull and aim her taser.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where this took place. Adrienne, what do we expect to happen today?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She will appear before a judge later this afternoon for her first initial court appearance. Keep in mind, it will be via Zoom because we're still in the middle of a pandemic. Potter spent a great deal building her career right here at the Brooklyn Center Police Department. And when she was booked into jail yesterday, that jail where she was is about eight miles from the police department where she built her career. But she bailed out yesterday evening about six hours after she was taken into custody.

It's likely the judge will read the criminal complaint during that court proceeding later this afternoon. We've got our eyes on the criminal complaint yesterday. And in it, we learned that the former officer, Kim Potter, pulled her 9 millimeter handgun and pointed it directly at Wright with her right hand firing one round. Immediately after she fired that round, Wright, Daunte Wright, can be heard on the body cam saying, ah, he shot me, before he drove off and crashed the vehicle. We know it wasn't a man that shot Wright, it was Potter.

So she will hear about the charges in that criminal complaint, the charge of second-degree manslaughter. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Adrienne Broaddus, we know you'll continue to follow it, thanks very much.

We are just moments away from what could be the final day of the defense's case in the trial of Derek Chauvin.


We all saw the video of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck for nine minutes, 29 seconds. But yesterday, a medical expert for Chauvin's defense team told jurors that Chauvin did not kill Floyd. Instead, he said it could have been a heart problem, perhaps Floyd's drug use or something we haven't hear before, carbon monoxide from the squad car's exhaust.

Here's more on what happened yesterday and what we expect today. CNN Correspondent Josh Campbell joins me now live from Minneapolis. Josh, do we expect today is the last day of the defense case?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It could come as soon as today. We're expecting at least one more expert witness to take the stand. The judge, the court has not been telegraphing in advance who the witnesses will actually be. But we're expecting at least one more and there could be an end to the defense's case. And then we move into the prosecution rebuttal phase.

Now, yesterday, as you mentioned, the defense brought in this medical expert to kind of review some of that damning testimony that we heard from so many of those prosecution witnesses. And this medical expert, in an attempt to show that it wasn't Chauvin at fault, rolled out a series of other possible theories and contributing factors. Take a listen to what he said.


DAVID FOWLER, FORMER CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER FOR MARYLAND: We have a heart that is vulnerable because it's too big.

There are certain drugs that are present in his system that make it -- have a risk of arrhythmia.

We've got the carbon monoxide, which has potential to rob some of that additional oxygen carrying capacity.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Is it your opinion that Mr. Chauvin's knee, in any way, impacted the structures of Mr. Floyd's neck?

FOWLER: No, it did not, none of the vital structures were in the area where the knee appeared to be from the videos.


CAMPBELL: So, talking about heart disease, talking about potential drug use by George Floyd and cash on monoxide, which the point he was making there, which raised a lot of eyebrows, is that possibly the exhaust from the running squad car may have contributed to George Floyd's death. Of course, as our colleague Laura Coates pointed out yesterday later, the prosecution was able to illicit from this very same witness that that assessment, this opinion, that exhaust may be to blame here, was based on no actual scientific basis, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And I don't believe on the stand he was able to confirm the car was running at the time, at least if his point of view. Josh Campbell, thanks very much.

We're going to take you inside the courtroom as soon as testimony resumes in the Derek Chauvin murder trial just moments from now.

Plus, the future of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is in temporary limbo. The CDC held an emergency meeting on the vaccine yesterday but, again, did not make a decision. The impact, the waiting game it could have, ahead.



SCIUTTO: There will be at least one more witness from Derek Chauvin's defense team today. Though after that, it's possible they wrap up. Let's speak more about where we stand, what we have seen from the defense so far. CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates along with CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey. Thanks to both of you.

Laura, we may be ending near the trial. There could be surprise with more witnesses, but we're getting into the final days here. And I wonder based on what you have seen from the defense, have they succeeded in their threshold, right, which is really to raise a reasonable doubt about what caused George Floyd's death?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think they have. And here is the key word. It's the same word that the prosecution has been harking on for all this, reasonable. The same way the prosecution is focused on whether the actions of Derek Chauvin were reasonable or unreasonable is the same essential burden that the jury has to be able to meet in terms of thinking what is a reasonable level of doubt here.

And you have to have expert analysis and testimony and other things that raise the questions about what about this particular seed they're trying to plant is reasonable? If all they have got is the discussion on carbon monoxide, without having scientific basis to conclude that, you don't have any evidence that counters the very strong testimony of the pulmonologist, the cardiologist, the forensic pathologist, the medical examiner that actually performed the autopsy, and, again, you got this star witness here, the nine-minute and 29-second video.

All the defense has shown, if you recall a couple of days ago, was a body cam footage from a fifth officer on the scene that --

SCIUTTO: Laura, apologies, hold your thought, because there is activity in the courtroom. Let's listen in and see what's happening.

NELSON: We had several discussions throughout the course of my representation of you relevant to your right to testify or to choose to remain silent, correct?


NELSON: And during the course of our representation, it's fair to say that you and I have had this conversation multiple times, correct?

CHAUVIN: Correct.

NELSON: That you understand that you have a Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent? Do you understand that?


NELSON: You understand that if you choose to exercise that right to remain silent, neither the state nor the court can comment on your silence as a sign or indication of your guilt, meaning, they can't say he didn't get up and defend himself, so equate your silence with guilt? Do you understand that?


NELSON: All right. Now, you also understand that you can waive that right and testify. Do you understand that?

CHAUVIN: Yes, I do.

NELSON: You understand that if you chose not to -- or if you did, in fact, choose to testify you would be subject to cross-examination by the state of Minnesota?


NELSON: You understand that if you were cross-examined by the state, we could not limit the scope of the testimony, the state will be given broad latitude to ask you questions.


Do you understand that?


NELSON: We had this conversation repeatedly, correct?

CHAUVIN: Correct.

NELSON: I repeatedly advised you that this is your decision and your decision alone, right?

CHAUVIN: Correct.

NELSON: I have advised you and we have gone back and forth on the matter would be kind of an understatement, right?

CHAUVIN: Yes, it is.

NELSON: But after lengthy meeting last night, we had some further discussion, agreed?


NELSON: And have you made a decision today whether you intend to testify or whether you intend to invoke your Fifth Amendment privilege.

CHAUVIN: I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today.

JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA: Mr. Chauvin, I'm going to ask you directly, because the decision whether or not to testify -- let me take this off -- is entirely yours. In other words, it's a personal right. Mr. Nelson makes a lot of the decisions in trial. But one he cannot make for you is whether or not you testify. And he can give you advice and you can take that advice or reject that advice. But the decision ultimately has to be yours and not his. Is this your decision not to testify?

CHAUVIN: It is, your honor.

CAHILL: All right. Do you have any questions about your right to remain silent or to testify in your own behalf?

CHAUVIN: Not at this time, I don't.

CAHILL: All right. Does anyone promise anything or threaten you in any way to keep you from testifying?

CHAUVIN: No promises or threats, your honor.

CAHILL: Do you feel that your decision not to testify is a voluntary one on your behalf?

CHAUVIN: Yes, it is.

CAHILL: Now, in addition to that, I'm convinced then that this is your personal decision and that you're aware of your rights, but there is a jury instruction that may be read to the jury. This, again, is the one that you get to weigh in on. It's not for your lawyer to make the decision. Again, he can give you advice. I don't want to know what the advice is. But you can accept the advice or reject the advice as to whether or not to give this instruction.

If you would like, I can read this instruction to the jury. It's titled, defendant's right not to testify. The state must convince you by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged. The defendant has no obligation to prove innocence. The defendant has the right not to testify. This right is guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions. You should not draw any inference from the fact that defendant has not testified in this case. Do you understand that instruction?

CHAUVIN: Yes, your honor.

CAHILL: Would you like that read to the jury?

CHAUVIN: Yes, your honor.

CAHILL: Have you had enough time to talk to Mr. Nelson about whether that's a good idea or not?

CHAUVIN: I have, your honor.

CAHILL: All right. And so I will read that to the jury on your request.


CAHILL: All right. Anything regarding the defense case before we proceed to talk about rebuttal? All right, we'll have you rest in front of the jury then and we can actually take the microphone back. Thank you. Thank you.

We'll have you rest in front of the jury, Mr. Nelson. Thank you.

With regard to the state's rebuttal, it's my understanding that the state is going to call a rebuttal witness, is that correct?

NELSON: It is, your honor.

CAHILL: Okay. Whoever is going to speak to us, if we can kind of outline the topics and if you want to address formally the decision regarding this newly discovered evidence.

SCIUTTO: Defense is going to call a rebuttal witnesses?

Laura Coates, momentous events in the span of just a couple of minutes there, one, Derek Chauvin will not testify. He will have invoked his Fifth Amendment rights. We also heard that the prosecution will call rebuttal witnesses and the judge mentioned newly discovered evidence, that's notable.

But, first, Laura, to your reaction to Chauvin's decision there not to testify.

COATES: Well, you know, it's not all that shocking to think that he would not want to open himself up to the cross-examination -- excuse me -- of the prosecution in this case. Remember, a whole -- a lot of things can come in when you take the stand, including your past, prior, bad acts and any allegations of misconduct that have already been cleared by the judge.


And, of course, you risk the very, you know, foreseeable aspect of it that you cannot defend your actions. And all you leave to the jury is this impression of you as somebody who has committed this crime. So it's one in which they have to go back and forth on.

As a prosecutor, I would have thought they would have loved to have been able to cross. But as the defense, does he not have the burden -- as the judge has just said, he never had the burden to prove his innocence. It always remained with the prosecution. And now, the jury will be instructed per his request that they are not to draw any inference from his decision not to testify.

Jurors often do though because they often want to have an explanation for why the person has not taken the stand. But they will be -- they cannot do that. But now, all the defense has is that officer who testified with the body cam video that did not show the actual event. All they have now is the use of force expert who said that did he not believe having someone handcuffed and prone on the ground was a use of force. And they could have used even more force against George Floyd.

SCIUTTO: Let's listen in because this is the prosecution now taking the stand, as we noted. The judge said earlier, the prosecution intends to call rebuttal witnesses here, but also referenced possible new evidence. Let's listen in.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: -- from Hennepin County that would have contained blood gas readings for the carbon monoxide content in Mr. Floyd on May 25th, 2020.

CAHILL: And why when was it discovered? How was it not discovered earlier?

BLACKWELL: It was discovered yesterday by Dr. Baker. And what had precipitated it, your honor, was a piece of new evidence. It was a disclosure that came from the stand during the testimony of Dr. Fowler. And I want to show your honor what it was. It was in one of the slides that, your honor, can see here if I adjust the camera.

And what I'm referring to, Judge, is this very last reading here on the bottom, where from the stand and the slide that Mr. Nelson prepared was a statement and the discussion that in seven minutes, Mr. Floyd's carboxyhemoglobin could have increased by 8 to 18 percent.

Now, that was a new opinion. The word, carboxyhemoglobin, does not appear in 31 pages of Dr. Fowler's reported (INAUDIBLE) or a discussion about the carboxyhemoglobin content in his blood.

Now, the word -- the concept of carbon monoxide was raised in the report but not blood gas, issues related to -- it was sort of discussed in the same context of sort of taking drugs through the rectum and other things that were raised generally but not a specific reference to the carboxyhemoglobin content in Mr. Floyd's blood.

Dr. Baker heard the testimony. He had not himself ever requested this nor had the E.R. physicians. They explained that when somebody is brought in and blood gases are taken, there is a panel of them that are taken. The ones that get generated in the records would be the ones that the E.R. physicians actually request. Nobody requested carbon monoxide readings because they didn't see how that was relevant, frankly.

And no one had until this testimony yesterday that was specific to the carboxyhemoglobin content of the blood and set it at 10 to 18 percent.

Now, Judge Cahill, what everybody did have access to would be the flipside of the equation. There was information on the arterial blood gas content that showed the oxygen saturation content in Mr. Floyd's blood and the oxygen saturation was at 98 percent, which meant necessarily to the extent there was any carbon monoxide in the blood, it would be at most 2 percent. This was the takeaway that Dr. Tobin had yesterday from this new disclosure and that -- we disclosed that to counsel that there is something that Dr. Tobin could address based on information that everybody did have available.

Dr. Baker simply then addressed the flipside of it, was there a reading or measurement specifically on the carbon monoxide in light of this testimony from Dr. Fowler from the stand yesterday on the carboxyhemoglobin content and the slide which Mr. Nelson introduced.

CAHILL: Well, let me clarify one thing. When was the test actually run?

BLACKWELL: It was run the night of May 25th, when George Floyd was brought in.

CAHILL: And did you subpoena all the records at Hennepin County Medical --

BLACKWELL: We did subpoena all the records.

CAHILL: And what they provided to you did not have that in it?

BLACKWELL: That's right, your honor.

CAHILL: Did Dr. Baker's spontaneously call you to tell you that there might be something deep within the computer records that were --


BLACKWELL: Yes, your honor.

CAHILL: Or did you seek him out and ask him for his --