Return to Transcripts main page
CNN News Central
Prince Harry and Meghan Involved in "Near Catastrophic" Crash Involving Paparazzi; Biden Comments on Negotiations to Avoid Debt Default; Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired May 17, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: -- find a couple of persistent violators here that we can identify.
But it went on for a couple of hours. It happened at night; darkness is a factor in getting those images to be identifiable. It was a real mess. So I'm going to say it's possible. But unlikely that you're going to see a lot of that.
SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I think Max Foster is back with us.
Max, what I was wanting to ask, as Kate Williams was talking about how things may have changed in terms of how much of a target they are, since Charles has become king, have you noticed -- have you heard anything?
Is there more concern for -- I mean, not only for just the entire royal family but for Harry and David -- Harry and David -- Harry and Meghan in general --
BOLDUAN: -- in being targets of the paparazzi since even more so since the coronation?
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: No. Just to the point that you were talking about just there, I am told that the footage was taken from security a long time -- along with other evidence that support this whole timeline and the circumstances that they've been talking about.
And they're very confident about what they've got and what happened here. In terms of the threat, I mean, the paparazzi is just pictures and story. They are still a huge part of the royal story and they've got their own story that they developed in the U.S. as well. People just want pictures. And they lead this very private life. They do tell us when there is a big event like there was last night and then the paparazzi do not get the permission to be in the places that we do and they have to get the additional pictures and that's where it all speeds (ph) through.
But he has -- the one security threat that has emerged since he left was in his book, where he talked about killing Taliban in Afghanistan. And he named the number and that was seen as something -- you know, the Taliban spoke about and how he shouldn't be gloating about those sort of kills.
And of course Harry tells a completely different story, just in terms of talk about the trauma that came along with that. And that was seen by some in the U.K. military as well that may have increased the threat against him.
But this is completely separate, obviously. It's a terror threat, which Harry argues is there, as well, generally because he served. And that's why he wanted more security, as well, when he was back in the U.K.
In the U.K. private security don't carry guns. Only police can carry guns and he felt the level of the threat was such that he needed police security when he was in the U.K. but the government has been fighting that.
What he wants in the U.S. is full security paid for by the British government, by the police and that's what he's fighting for in the British courts. But he's not having any success at this point, because they're saying the police can't be, you know, guns for hire for rich people.
So there's a big debate going on about that. I got a bit more information, as well, about how the family was staying at a private residence. They didn't want to compromise the security of their friend's home. So Harry didn't want to go back there.
So that's why they ended up sheltering in place. So there's a lot more detail coming through and I'm sure we'll hear more as well about -- from the police now that the story is out, as well.
SIDNER: And we are getting more information here, talking about how this kind of went down. And when they exited the venue in the first place, the paparazzi got their pictures, pictures of them -- obviously it's posed pictures.
The paparazzi want as many pictures as possible because they sell those but it is interesting to note some of the things we've seen here.
We've heard about driving on the sidewalks, running red lights, reversing down a one-way street, driving while on the phone, driving while photographers are taking photos and blocking moving vehicles.
This is according to the spokesperson for Harry and Meghan. When you see all of that, that is not only dangerous and illegal but they were in all blacked-out cars. They're saying these were all -- so you probably couldn't see faces.
And identifying them may be impossible, correct?
MILLER: That's right. Again with the license plates that were covered up on motorcycles and scooters, blacked-out cars and things like that, but I guess the question here for New York is, all right.
So how would the NYPD do this the next time?
Because this is a lesson learned, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
MILLER: And that means you would probably have to have a slightly larger security detail, because you're not just dealing with the normal threat. You are dealing with something that is more mayhem.
And you would have to have basically an enforcement element added to that, which means traffic division people, maybe a couple of motorcycles, maybe a few scooters, so that you are on equal footing with the people --
MILLER: -- who are the offenders here of various laws, where you can stop them.
And then, you know, once you start writing summonses and making arrests, that's a message. This security detail wasn't built for that. It was built if there was a threat to get off the X and get them to safety and deal with the threat. This was a rolling circus.
SIDNER: It wasn't a normal threat, either.
SIDNER: This wasn't someone going after them to hurt them. It was people just going crazy around them, multiple people, just to get pictures.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Do we still have Kate Williams with us?
I'm going to assume yes. All right.
Kate, we just heard from -- I just heard from Isa Soares, one of our CNN International anchors, who points out that Harry and Meghan have moved to the United States. A lot of the press in Britain publicly, if you read the editorials, they're down on them.
You hear negative things being said over there about Harry and Meghan. However, what this shows is the continued, insatiable appetite for coverage -- and I imagine largely in the U.K. -- of Harry and Meghan, even as some try to turn their backs on them.
KATE WILLIAMS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The word insatiable is exactly the right word. What kind of picture were they going to get inside a car?
It's a picture of someone sitting inside a car. It doesn't seem like the most sellable picture. And yet there's this huge drama, this terrifying drama, that you were just talking about, reversing down streets, pedestrians in danger, other cars in danger, all of it happening at night just to get pictures of Harry and Meghan.
They are the most valuable, I would say, the most valuable celebrity picture opportunity for British newspapers at the moment. And a lot of this is driven about how, Max is saying, he's suing -- Harry is suing the newspapers over privacy invasion.
So that even a lot of negative stories about it, there's always (INAUDIBLE) about Harry, that they are now I think driven by the fact that there is an agenda for these (INAUDIBLE) newspapers about this.
And Harry and Meghan have always suffered this negative media coverage. We know that Meghan shutting the car door was seen as against protocol when you look at -- when you research it, many other royal women have shut the car door.
And they are, I think, completely, they are -- they are -- this is the thing. Even though Meghan didn't come to the coronation, even though Charles wanted (INAUDIBLE), a lot of the coverage is about Harry. The world is fascinated with Harry.
And the British press want pictures of Harry. And this is what paparazzi are doing to get them.
And it is so many shade of Diana, I can't even articulate how similar it is to Diana. Harry said that the last thing Diana saw was flashbulbs. Now some of the paramedics say that she was conscious but, still, the last thing she really did see were flashbulbs.
And for Harry to think this is happening again is absolutely terrifying. And really people want to see Harry and Meghan. They were thrilled to see them out at this wonderful occasion last night.
Meghan said in her acceptance speech at the award, the Women of Vision Awards, you can be the vision leader of your own life. But this is stopping her being the vision leader that she wants to be, the fact that you can't go to New York without being chased like this.
And I think certainly, after Diana's death, we all said something must be done. But I think things have gotten worse since Diana's death because of social media -- it's not just newspapers buying these pictures; it is also social media, it's unauthorized sites.
And I think in the end, a lot of it comes down to us, the consumers. We have to say to ourselves how is this picture being gained?
I don't want to look at this picture. And that is difficult when we live in a world that's ever hungry for celebrity news. But this is the cost, people being chased down the street, celebrities being chased down the street and ordinary people put in danger, as well. BOLDUAN: Just to bring everyone up to speed on what we're talking
about here, the first and probably most important headline is Prince Harry and Meghan, they are OK.
They -- but what happened yesterday, which is what is leading to now all of this, is that, as they were leaving, after they had left an event where Meghan had received an award -- I'm blanking out -- the Women of Vision Awards in New York City, they were chased by paparazzi in such an aggressive fashion that even the NYPD was involved in their protective detail and had to kind of take them to the 19th Precinct in order to give them a cooldown period.
And lots of detail coming out, not only from the spokesperson for Harry and Meghan but also from sources within NYPD, of how dangerous a situation this really was, the way that Harry and Meghan's spokesperson describes it as a near-catastrophic car chase.
What you're looking at is, in the wall, is these are the pictures as they were leaving the event. They're Getty images. These are the images that we are used to seeing.
BERMAN: I walked by this last night. At 9:15 last night, I walked by and I saw -- I didn't see this many camera people.
BERMAN: So I don't know if I was there before or after. But I saw a small collection of photographers, which is unusual on a New York City street -- I'm sorry.
BOLDUAN: No, no, I'm glad you pointed it out. But as we're talking, I want to bring in Salma Abdelaziz, following all of this from London.
Salma, to remind folks, their safety and intrusion of paparazzi in their lives is one of the -- a key reason why Harry and Meghan decided to really largely pull away from royal life and leave London.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, you could argue it is the primary reason why they left London and why they made that extraordinary decisions to leave behind their lives in the U.K. and move to the United States.
At the time, Prince Harry was very critical of the media here in the U.K., accusing it of racial undertones, of sexist undertones against Meghan Markle. He repeatedly raised this fear again that his wife was being treated much like his mother and that he was afraid of that same fate.
You heard there from our colleague, Max Foster, about the court case, the legal battle to get more security here in the U.K. That was an absolute matter of primary concern for the couple, particularly once they had their first child, that they be provided with that protection.
And they simply did not feel that the palace and the royal family was giving that protection to the level that they wanted. They went to the United States really for safety. So this will leave them with the sense that there is no safe place.
And again, I have to emphasize how huge that exit was and how much it was criticized by the press here in the U.K., some calling it Megxit. That was seen as a very racist and sexist way to characterize that exit, pinning it just on Meghan rather than Prince Harry.
There was a strong sense among communities of color here that she was being treated poorly by the press because of her racial background. So to go to the U.S. in the hopes that this is going to be a safe haven for them and a safe haven for their family and an opportunity to step outside of the royal family and be masters of their own fate, if you will.
Still continue to be public figures but do it on their own terms and still find themselves in this situation, where they say they were simply afraid of the possibility of a collision, afraid of the possibility of harm. This is going to shake them to their core.
SIDNER: Max Foster, you did a whole look at how the press was treating Meghan as opposed to Kate -- not this Kate, obviously.
SIDNER: Can you tell us a little bit about that piece and what you learned from it learned from it and why that really speaks to what happens when these two, especially after they left and made their criticism of the royal family known?
FOSTER: So there was -- Salma was talking to this and it's something that is undeniable in the British tabloid press and I think people in the tabloid press that have set this (ph), a lazy narrative.
As soon as Meghan came on to the scene, which was why the war, dueling duchesses, so the comparisons began between Kate and Meghan.
Kate, the more senior royal and the one that will ultimately be queen, which always seemed to win that tabloid battle. So then you have a winner and a loser. And there were all these comparisons, really, went through them with picture editors and how you have an event, where Kate may wear dark nail varnish and she's looking like a princess.
And then Meghan would go to an event and she'd have dark nail varnish and she's breaking protocol. So it became initially this tabloid narrative that Meghan was always breaking protocol and didn't understand the system.
So I think that's where a lot of the negative publicity came out of the tabloids. And then, of course, you had the racist comments, as well and eventually Harry had had enough. And he put out a statement saying the way they're treating my wife is completely unfair. I think there's a lot of justification to that.
So we are seeing the court cases now how the tabloids actually felt they, you know, as public figures, they had access to senior working royals and they didn't have the same right to privacy as other members of the public. And that is ultimately what Harry and Meghan tried to resolve by
leaving their public roles and no longer receiving public money.
BOLDUAN: Max, sorry to jump on you -- (INAUDIBLE) hard to hear.
We're going to get back to Max Foster and continue to follow this developing situation. We do need to go, get over to the White House right now, as President Biden is talking about the negotiations over the debt ceiling. Let's listen in.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And with all four leaders of the Congress, it was civil and respectful and everyone came to the meeting, I think, in good faith.
BIDEN: I'm confident that we'll get the agreement on the budget, that America will not default. And every leader in the room understands the consequences if we fail to pay our bills. And it would be catastrophic for the American economy and the American people if we didn't pay our bills.
And I'm confident everyone in the room agreed with the Speaker -- from the Speaker to the majority leader, to the majority leader of the House and the Senate -- excuse me -- majority in the Senate, the minority leader of the Senate as well as the leader, the Democratic leader of the House.
And we are going to come together because there is no alternative. We need to do the right thing for the country. We have to move on. And to be clear, this negotiation is about the outlines of what the budget will look like and not about whether or not we are going to, in fact, pay our debts.
The leaders all agreed we will not default. Every leader has said that. And I am proud of the progress my administration's made. We reduced the deficit in the first two years by $1.7 trillion in the first two years. And I proposed a budget to reduce another $3 trillion over the next decade.
That includes more revenue by asking the wealthy and large corporations to begin to pay their fair share and cutting subsidies that exist in the law now to Big Oil and Big Pharma.
Yesterday we all agreed that both the Speaker McCarthy and I would designate senior members that we want to negotiate to give our authority to make agreements in detail what we wanted. So we narrowed the group.
We narrowed the group to meet and hammer out our differences. And we've done that. In fact, they met last night. They'll be meeting again today. And I'll be in constant contact with my team while I'm at the G7 and be in close touch with speaker McCarthy and other leaders as well. Now what I have done in anticipation that we won't get it all done
until I get back is I've cut my trip short in order to be for the final negotiations and sign the deal with the majority leader. I made it clear that -- and I'll say it again, America is not a deadbeat nation.
We pay our bills. The nation has never defaulted on its debt and it never will. And we are going to continue these discussions with the congressional leaders in the coming days until we reach an agreement. And I'll have more to say about that on Sunday.
And I want to have a press conference on this issue. As it stands now, the intention is to go to the G7, be back here on Sunday, hold a press conference and, in the meantime, I've spoken to the Australian leader Albanese. And I've spoken to -- I'm going to be seeing him at the G7.
He will be there, as well, along with the Indian prime minister and along with the Japanese as well. So the Quad members will be there and we'll get a chance to talk separately at the meeting. But it is unlikely that I'm going to be going on to Australia. So thank you very much.
QUESTION: Mr. President, what (INAUDIBLE) specifically, are you still considering (INAUDIBLE) still on the table (INAUDIBLE)?
Which would you be willing to accept?
BIDEN: Well, I'm not -- there -- I'm not going to accept any work requirements that's going to impact on medical health needs of people. I'm not going to accept any work requirements that go much beyond what is already -- well, I voted years ago for the work requirements that exist.
But it's possible there could be a few others but not anything of any consequence.
I know it was important to you to focus on making the trip. But this is having to be put aside.
Is this almost a win for (INAUDIBLE)?
BIDEN: No. No, because we are still meeting. We still have (INAUDIBLE) with allies.
QUESTION: -- Mr. President, (INAUDIBLE), sir?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if he -- OK. So --
QUESTION: You will be meeting or you will be speaking? BOLDUAN: All right. So we missed just the tail end of that -- the tail end of that. But the president there saying that he's confident that they're all going to come together in the end and that they all agree that they will not -- there will not be a default.
But very clearly they're not any further along at least publicly than they were yesterday. But Arlette Saenz is at the White House for us, standing by.
Arlette, what did you hear in this?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard the president there say that he is confident they'll be able to reach an agreement when it comes to the budget and ultimately avert a default.
And this comes as they're entering this new phase of negotiations, with the president appointing his top aides here at the White House to lead those negotiations --
SAENZ: -- directly with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's negotiator, Congress man Garrett Graves of Louisiana.
But look, you heard the president talking about some of the time constraints that they are facing in this moment, how he has cancelled that trip to Australia and Papua New Guinea because he said he does not believe that an agreement will be completely finalized by the time he wraps up in Japan.
He said it is his intention to come back here to the U.S., to meet with leaders and then hopefully ink -- or how he described it-- sign that final agreement.
But there is still, even as you've heard both sides characterize these conversations as productive, there are still so many differences between the two sides of what they want to see in the agreement.
They have to figure out the length of a debt ceiling would look like. They have to figure out how long they would extend future spending caps.
And you heard the president also address one of the key sticking points, which is work requirements for social safety net programs.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said that including them will be a red line for him in these negotiations. The president was asked about those work requirements and he kind of gave a little bit of wiggle room for the potential that there could be some action when it comes to work requirements.
He said that he wants to take off the table any that would impact people's health care. You've heard the White House trying to push, in recent statements over the past really 48 hours, that the president would not support work requirements that would take away health care or push people into poverty. Work requirements is a very tough issue for Democrats, which have been
balking at the proposals that they've been hearing from Republicans so that is just one of the key areas that would need to be ironed out as these negotiations take place.
But certainly they're entering a new phase with the president's top aides leading with McCarthy's representative. And the president is set to depart for Japan in just a short while. He says he'll be maintaining contacts with both his staff and he's also expected to speak with congressional leaders while he is away.
Of course, there is a huge deadline looming as that X date for a potential default could be as early as June 1st, 15 days away and let's not forget how difficult and slow moving things can be on Capitol Hill. They would need to get legislation written across the finish line and also corralling the two caucuses together.
SIDNER: Arlette Saenz, thank you for that.
We heard President Biden say there will be a press conference on Sunday when he comes back from the G7, talking about where they are with the debt ceiling negotiations.
All right. We will go back to our other breaking news. We have heard from the spokespeople for the Duchess and Harry, who were here to enjoy an award that Meghan got and ended up in this insane situation, where the paparazzi were surrounding them, following them for a long time, where they had to go to a police station and wait them out.
We have got a lot of people here who can talk about the royal family and also about what happened. Max Foster is on the phone in London and Melissa Bell in Paris and Kate Williams and Sally Bedell Smith.
Sally, I know you've written extensively and written a couple of books on the royals, as well.
When you heard the language used here, that this was a, quote, "near catastrophic" accident, what did you think?
Because there are all of the history of Harry's mom.
SALLY BEDELL SMITH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I, of course, like everybody else, had a flashback to August 31, 1997, the night that Diana died. Everybody is incredibly thankful that it didn't turn out that way.
But I also couldn't help thinking that they have been subject to all sorts of surveillance and intrusive photography really from the moment they landed in the U.S. In the Netflix documentary, you had -- you had them talking about the number of drones flying overhead; Tyler Perry's house in Beverly Hills.
And you see, even now and they're living in Montecito, there are obviously paparazzi lying in wait for them. There were some images the other night fro when they went out to a sushi dinner, when Meghan went backpacking. And they are, in the U.S., under what appears to be sort of constant
surveillance as celebrities. And I -- and I can't help thinking that, right now in this moment, they would, in the U.K., have much more protection. I mean, I have walked by Frogmore Cottage where they lived in the U.K., near Windsor Castle.
SMITH: There is no more secure place anywhere than Frogmore Cottage because it is in the Windsor home park. And there have been a series of agreements that the royal family has made with news organizations, that were very mindful of what happened to Diana in 1997, and for years before that, that have applied some restraints.
I know when Harry was in the U.K. for the -- I believe it was for the unveiling of the memorial statue of Diana -- I think he did later that there was some cameraman following him at one point.
But I think in a weird sort of way they've gone from the frying pan into the fire in the U.S. because there is no -- there's nothing to inhibit the likes of TMZ and other agencies from following them around.
I have no idea who was involved last night but it does show that, given their celebrity status, which is really what they are now, they are former members of the royal family but they are no longer working royals.
And I mean, it's a terrible situation but I think, in a sense, they are less safe in the U.S. because we have freedom of the press and there are no -- there's no mechanism by which they could reach any kind of agreement in this country to prevent what happened last night from happening again.
I don't know what they do, other than kind of retreat to a very quiet life in Montecito. It's a real problem for them.
BERMAN: Sally, stand by, if you will. It is 11:26 here on the East Coast. We just got first word of this event about an hour ago, that event is that Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, apparently were involved, so say their spokesperson, in a near- catastrophic car chase.
I want to go to Max Foster, who helped break this news for us.
Max, because it's been some time since we're reminding people of exactly what happened, just walk us through, beginning to end, what they are saying took place.
FOSTER: Just before I do that, there was an alarm in their circle that say right now that some of these paps' pictures that were taken last night, the cause of this incident, according to the Sussexes, are being -- are starting to circulate on websites.
They absolutely think those pictures should not be used because that -- if you use them, you are feeding this sort of dangerous behavior. And I am also told that other members of the family haven't yet reached out to Harry or Meghan to see if they're OK.
But essentially what we had was a big public event yesterday. It was Meghan receiving an award in New York. And it was a coming out moment if you like, from a low period, where she's trying to stay low profile or seemed to be because we had a big royal event here in the U.K. She didn't want to overshadow that.
And then after the event, there was a two-hour chase, as we understand it, cars in blacked-out windows and also scooters, photographers chasing and creating lots of near collisions.
The couple were there, with Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland. They felt it could have been fatal at one point. And they had to basically hide away and take sanctuary in a safe place. And they're deeply concerned about it. And they only just told us about this even though it happened last night around midnight in New York.
They're not telling us, of course, where they are right now. We don't know whether they're still in New York or whether they're back in Los Angeles. I'm being told that's for obvious reasons and deep concerns about their safety and the security. And they don't want to take any more risks.
This speaks to all of the fears that Harry's been talking about all of his life and that Meghan's been talking about ever since she entered the royal family, that they are fodder for the tabloids and that they are at a constant risk because of it.
And it all takes Harry back to how his mother died, being chased by paparazzi in Paris, and how he vowed to protect Meghan from a similar fate, which is why they moved to the U.S.
BOLDUAN: Max, stick there with us. I know you're trying to learn more about what happened here. And let me go over to Melissa Bell and she is standing by in Paris for us.
As Max was pointing out, this is something the paparazzi, the fear of paparazzi, is something that Harry has been battling with essentially his entire life. His mother died when -- I think he was 12 years old, Melissa.
And he's -- and he wrote and he wrote extensively about the impact of her death on him in his book, the "Spare," even talking about how he didn't believe it for a long time.