Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Russia Launched 30 Missiles Overnight; Biden in Japan; New Evidence in Document Probe; FBI Revokes Security Clearances of Three Agents; Montana Bans TikTok; New Jobs Market Data; Democrats Heckle Santos. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired May 18, 2023 - 09:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Joe Biden is in Japan for the G-7 summit. Huge issues, including Ukraine, demanding their attention, yet Biden's cutting his trip shorts as pressure mounts back home over the debt ceiling.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Stunning new video of a police pursuit caught on camera in Iowa. An officer seriously injured after clinging onto the hood of a suspect's speeding car. We'll show you the jaw-dropping moment.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The first state in the nation to ban TikTok entirely. But what does that mean? What happens if you cross state lines while watching videos on your cell phone?

The answers to all your questions on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SIDNER: Shards of metal left behind in flames after Ukraine says it shot down dozens of Russian missiles overnight. This is what is left from just one missile intercepted in the capital Kyiv. Ukraine says they stopped 29 of 30 Russian cruise missiles overnight. The missiles rained down on a number of cities.

Also in Crimea, trains between the region's two largest cities are at a standstill after Russian-backed officials say a freight train derailed.

CNN's Sam Kiley is joining us from eastern Ukraine.

Russia is now claiming that it hit a weapons depot. What are you hearing there this morning?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Sara, I think the thing here is that we are working on the reporting restrictions that apply, not just to the media, but to everybody in Ukraine that does - that is intended to prevent Russians from getting what's called battle damage assessment, and that is how successful have their airstrikes been. So, indeed there were six people arrested just the other day in Kyiv for sending real-time information on that subject on social media.

So, in that context, though, we only have the words of Ukraine and the words of the Russians to go on effectively. We do see some of the effects, and you've seen them on the screen there, of what happens when debris falls.

In the -- Odessa, for example, a missile or the remnants of a missile killed somebody in the industrial area of that southern port city. Now, the Russians are saying that they were successful in their campaign against military targets and logistics nodes across Ukraine. We haven't seen any evidence of that. We have, in the past, there is no doubt that the Russians do occasionally successfully attack military targets and cause massive explosions, particularly in ammunition dumps. That said, the Ukrainians are saying 29 of these 30 missiles were taken out by their air defenses.

But, at the same time, for example, the Ukrainians are rather coy, almost tongue in cheek when it comes to operations behind Russian lines. So, in Crimea now we've seen this derailment that the Ukrainians say is a consequence of wear and tear they say effectively with their tongues firmly in cheek on the main line between the two biggest cities in the Crimean peninsula, of course illegally annexed by Russia. The chances are very strongly indeed that this was blown up by Ukrainian special forces or partisans working for Ukraine behind Russian lines. We've seen that it the past when the destruction of aircraft in the Crimean peninsula has been put down to a smoking accident by officials here, including the minister of defense here, again, with a rye (ph) smile. They won't confirm or deny the operations that go on behind lines, but they can be seen as part of the ongoing attacks by the -- Ukraine against Russia's logistics just as the Russia are trying to attack Ukraine, Sara.

SIDNER: Not unusual. This is often what happens in war.

Thank you so much, Sam Kiley. Appreciate that. Joining us from eastern Ukraine.


BOLDUAN: And the war in Ukraine is definitely on the agenda for G-7 leaders this week. And President Biden, he is in Japan for this summit, a gathering of the world's top economies. Before tomorrow's big event, this morning, President Biden met with Japan's prime minister, along with Ukraine and also showcasing unity against China. President Biden is also having to split his focus somewhat. The debt ceiling negotiations back home demanding his attention and forcing him to cut his overseas trip short.

CNN's Phil Mattingly is traveling with the president.


He's in Japan. He's joining us now.

It's good to see you, Phil.

What has happened so far and where is the focus now turning.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, there's no question the domestic issues the president left behind are certainly hanging over everything in this week-long trip. But White House advisers are very clear, the president has very consequential issues on the agenda and he plans to focus intensely on those issues. And there's probably none more so front and center than, obviously, the Ukraine war. The G-7, the most consequential, kind of cornerstone western alliance behind the support of Ukraine over the course of the last year and a half and has been the durability of that support, really the closeness of the G-7 alliance that has driven what we've seen internationally over the course of that period of time. And it's something the president is going to make a very significant effort, both rhetorically, but also with, as diplomats would call them, deliverables over the course of the next seven days. And there's perhaps no country that has been more steadfast than the support of the efforts in Ukraine than Japan, dramatically shifting its defense posture, its willingness to apply economic sanctions. This is something the president made clear as he met with Prime Minister Kishida earlier today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I'm proud that the United States and Japan are facing it together. And, you know, we stand up for the shared values, including supporting the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereign territory and holding Russia accountable for its brutal aggression.


MATTINGLY: And, Kate, a driving force behind Japan's posture here is a recognition that this isn't just a European issue. Obviously a rising China and the potential threat to Taiwan or an invasion of Taiwan certainly driving regional actors here and regional allies. China will also be a significant issue on the agenda over the course of the coming days as the president tries to handle international diplomacy, as he also tries to handle the very real domestic problem back home.


BOLDUAN: Absolutely. It's great to have you there, Phil. Thank you so much.


SIDNER: CNN exclusive reporting now. Multiple sources telling CNN the National Archives found 16 records which show Donald Trump and his top advisers had knowledge of the correct declassification process while he was president. Trump has previously claimed that he could declassify papers simply by removing them from the White House. The National Archives wrote to Trump saying, in part, some of the communications directed to you personally, concerning whether, why and how you should declassify certain classified records.

CNN's senior legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor Elie Honig joins us now.

From what you know, will this help federal investigators in their case as they look into the classified documents that were found in Mar-a- Lago?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely, Sara, because what it does is it undercuts this whole sort of magical declassification defense. The easy part of this case from a prosecutor's perspective is showing where the documents are found and what those documents were. The hard part is showing Donald Trump's intent. What did he know? Did he know what he was doing was wrong? And what these documents could do is shows that the archives told Trump, when he was president, yes, you can declassify. If you're going to do it, here are the steps you have to follow. And then prosecutors will show he did not do any of those steps, therefore he did not declassify. He knowingly took classified records.

SIDNER: All right, we had a conversation with one of Trump's attorneys in this case. One of the attorneys at the same time took himself out, off the case, and away from Donald Trump. But I want you to hear how his attorney defended what he said was Trump's right to have these papers in his -- wherever he went to keep them.


SIDNER: Hold open. Let's look at the Presidential Records Act and what it actually says. It says, the United States shall reserve and retain complete ownership, possession, and control of presidential records. And under federal law, willfully removing any record or document carries the possibility of a three-year prison sentence. We went, we looked it up, as journalists do, and you -- you know, nowhere does it say that you can mentally just think about it and that they are declassified.

JIM TRUSTY, ATTORNEY FOR TRUMP IN CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS CASE: I mean you've packed so many misstatements into one question or whatever that was I'm not sure. But let me tell you this, the Presidential Record Act -

SIDNER: Well, I read the law, so it's not a misstatement.

TRUSTY: Well -- yes, well, we'll see about that. The Presidential Record Act does not have a criminal enforcement component to itself, OK. Look at it again.


SIDNER: Is he right, there's no way to criminally prosecute this? There's no - there's no enforcement component?

HONIG: Well, he's wrong on a couple respects. First of all, there is an enforcement component to the Presidential Records Act. The act, as passed broadly, does include some of the crimes that were listed by DOJ in the very Mar-a-Lago search warrant. The other thing is, Mr. Trusty, who I used to work with at DOJ --


HONIG: Not very closely, but he's got it backwards here.


What the Presidential Records Act says is presumptively any White House or presidential records belong to the government, belong to the American public.

SIDNER: Right.

HONIG: Now, if you're a president, or former president, and you want to claim some of those as your own or restrict access, you can try to do that, and here's the process. But he's got it backwards. He seems to be saying, they belong to the president as an individual, as a human being, and then maybe if the government's lucky they'll get some of them.

SIDNER: Right. And he sort of questioned whether I was reading the law correctly. I assure you -

HONIG: You got it right.

SIDNER: That's what the law actually says.


SIDNER: I do want to ask you about going further. What happens next?


SIDNER: Because these are supposed to be handed over by the National Archives to the special prosecutor I think by -

HONIG: Wednesday.

SIDNER: Wednesday of next week. So, now what?

HONIG: Yes, so Donald Trump can challenge this in court. And if he does, his basis would probably be executive privilege. The idea would be, this is the National Archives, part of the executive branch, advising me when I was president.

But it's not that simple. And Donald Trump has made these executive privilege claims. He's lost them time and again because the courts are very unlikely to uphold executive privilege, where prosecutors say, we need that. That's grand jury evidence. That could be evidence of a crime.

SIDNER: Elite Honig, it's always so good to see you.

HONIG: Thanks, Sara.

SIDNER: Breaking it all down for us and giving us the facts.

HONIG: All right. SIDNER: I appreciate it.


BERMAN: All right, thank you very much.

This morning we are learning the FBI has revoked the security clearances for three agents in connections to the insurrection on January 6th, either being there that day or expressing views about it after. At least two of these agents are due to testify any minute now on Capitol Hill as star witnesses in a Republican-led hearing meant to show how Republicans say the FBI and Justice Department are working against conservatives. They call it the weaponization of the government, even as new details emerge about why actions were taken against these agents.

CNN's Sara Murray has been covering this.

And, Sara, I understand you've got some new information about all this. What are you learning?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. I mean, look, these are the Jim Jordan's so-called whistleblowers. Democrats had already expressed concern about the legitimacy of some of these folks. And we are learning in this FBI letter more about why security clearances were stripped from two of the so-called whistleblowers who are appearing as star witnesses as you said in this hearing today.

I mean for one of the folks he expresses -- he sends an email to colleagues saying you should use discretion, you should proceed carefully about opening any cases regarding January 6th. He's asked by his supervisors to look into someone who was suspected of being part of the January 6th rioters. He says he can't find any open-sourced information. Another FBI employee looks into it and it turns out this person assaulted a Capitol Police officer. That's one of the witnesses we're going to hear from today.

The other one is someone who declined to participate in a SWAT team arrest of someone who, again, was alleged to participate in January 6th. This person believed that it was excessive force. Again, according to the FBI letter, this person had other issues with their credibility. They brought an unauthorized flash drive into the FBI buildings, used it to download documents from the FBI computers. So, the FBI is laying out in a letter ahead of this hearing what some of the issues are that they believe were very credible issues for stripping these folks of their security clearances. Jordan, we already saw him this morning in a press conference, is still standing by these whistleblowers and saying, see, look the FBI is retaliating.


BERMAN: Sara Murray for us. Keep us posted. Are these live pictures of the hearing right now? Are we watching this hearing taking place?

MURRAY: These are.

BERMAN: OK, I should have said that.

MURRAY: The hearing is just getting underway, just a couple minutes ago.

BERMAN: These are live pictures. You're looking at it right now. I know you'll be watching this very closely. Come back to us, Sara, if there - or when there is news. Thank you.


BOLDUAN: Absolutely. We'll follow that.

We've got also this ahead, four children found alive after their plane crashed in the Amazon. How they survived more than two weeks on their own in the jungle.

Plus, a statewide ban on TikTok. Not just government devices, but all devices. That's what's happening in Montana. It's the first ban like it. So, how is it all going to work?

And a "Wizard of Oz" mystery solved. Why a man in Minnesota is facing federal charges now over Dorothy's ruby slippers.

We'll be right back.



BERMAN: The Republican governor in Nevada has vetoed three gun safety bills that passed the state's Democratic-led legislature. One would have raised the age to possess semi-automatic shotguns or rifles to 21. Another would have made it illegal to have a gun within 100 feet of an election site. A third would have barred people convicted of committing a violent hate crime from owning guns. Democrats would need at least one Republican to vote with them in the state senate to override the vetoes.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to officially enter the 2024 presidential race next week. That is according to two sources familiar with the matter. One source said DeSantis will file paperwork next week with a formal announcement soon after.

A Minnesota man has been indicted for stealing the pair of the original ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz." The theft happened in 2005, but a federal grand jury just indicted Terry John Martin this week on one count of theft of major artwork. Authorities say he smashed a glass case in the Judy Garland Museum and stole the slippers, which are just one of four remaining pairs from the movie. They are now valued at $3.5 million. CNN has reached out to Martin for comment.

There is no place like home, Sara.

SIDNER: No place like home. I'm clicking my heels. Time is running down for TikTok in Montana. The governor signed a law banning it in the state. The controversial law will block the app from operating within state line and goes into effect this January, though a court challenge is expected in the case.

CNN tech reporter Brian Fung is here with us.

Thank you so much for joining us.

That wasn't the only target in the bill. What else is in there?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Yes, Sara, there's also a provision in this bill that goes after app stores like Apple and Google. And so it penalizes them for making the app available for download in Montana.


Now, it's important to point out here that both the app store operators and TikTok could be on the hook, you know, for fines for violating this law, up to $10,000 per violation per day, which could add up quickly if this law does indeed take effect. Individuals, however, won't be penalized under the law. You know, if you're an individual user of TikTok in Montana, then, you know, accessing TikTok won't subject you to these penalties.

But there are big questions about how this law could actually play out or be implemented. The ACLU and TikTok have raised serious first amendment concerns about whether or not this law would prevent Montanans from accessing legal content or expressing themselves on the internet.

And there's another concern here about so-called bills of attainder, which the Constitution prohibits. And bills of attainder are essentially laws that - that are, you know, imposed on companies without due process. That penalize them without due process. And so we might expect legal challenges on both of these grounds in the coming months before this law takes effect in January.

Now, even if it does survive legal challenge, there are big questions about how the state could even implement or enforce this law. You know, the users could very easily, for example, use virtual private networking apps to access TikTok from outside of the state and make it look like they're not within Montana. So, you know, there are very big questions here about implementation.

Just one more thing before I close here, Sara, the -- in a separate move, Montana's governor also issued an executive order yesterday that would, you know, ban apps like Telegram, Lemon8 and CapCut from - from state government devices in another swipe at foreign-linked apps.


SIDNER: Wow, Brian Fung, that was a lot to get through. Thank you so much for leading us down that path and giving us the information.

Kate. BOLDUAN: So, there's new data this morning on the strength of the jobs

market. And 242,000 Americans filed for first time jobless claims last week. That's a drop of 22,000 from the week before. Now, the release of these numbers comes, of course, amid the debt ceiling crisis threatening to throw the economy into a tailspin. And on that front this afternoon, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is going to be meeting with the CEOs of some of the nation's biggest banks to discuss the debt ceiling among other things.

CNN's Christine Romans is here.

Romans, let's start with the jobs numbers -


BOLDUAN: The jobless numbers that just came out. What do you see in this jobless data?

ROMANS: So, these are a proxy for layoffs. And so fewer layoffs last week than the previous week and fewer layoffs than people expected.


ROMANS: So, this still shows the job market is pretty strong. Unemployment rate, 3.4 percent. For every available worker, there's 1.6 jobs waiting for them to fill. So, we still have a pretty tight labor market.

BOLDUAN: But you sent this around this morning. There seems to be like an asterisks here.


BOLDUAN: What is going on in Massachusetts?

ROMANS: What is going on in Massachusetts? In Massachusetts they're pointing out that there seems to be an uptick in fraudulent applications for jobless benefits. And this is something economists started to pointed out because in recent weeks, on this very program, I've said, said jobless claims seem to be rising a little bit. That's a sign the Fed's medicine is working.

But, wait a second, in Massachusetts there has been a rise in fake and fraudulent applications for unemployment insurance, which would suggest that the Fed's medicine is not meaningfully cooling the job market yet.

BOLDUAN: It's wild. I mean JP Morgan - I think it was a JP Morgan analyst said like the entire rise of it is all attributed to what's going on in Massachusetts.

ROMANS: It's all Massachusetts.

BOLDUAN: Blame Massachusetts is what we need to say.

ROMANS: We won't blame John Berman, or the Bruins or any of the teams. BOLDUAN: No, no, I was going to say, we will absolutely - we should absolutely blame John Berman. That's where this - that's where all things roads - all roads lead to.

Then what - on the -- on the debt ceiling -


BOLDUAN: And kind of where we are in this exact moment, talks, talks, lots of talks.


BOLDUAN: This meeting between Janet Yellen and bank CEOs, it's an important one. Bank CEOs are saying, like, number one, they're trying to apply serious pressure here to say this is absolutely the worst thing that could be happening.


BOLDUAN: What could come out of this meeting, though?

ROMANS: Look, just about every person in that room, I'm sure, would like to get rid of the debt ceiling. It's been -

BOLDUAN: All together.

ROMANS: It's been weaponized here and it's just not helpful overall.

I mean you're going to see Jamie Dimon. You're going to see Jane Frazier from Citi Group. The top bank names. There's a regularly scheduled banking industry meeting, and that's what this huddling is all about.

We know that Janet Yellen has been calling CEOs and calling business leaders, you know, all week. I mean they're basically working the phones around the clock to explain to people what's happening and what can try to be avoided here.

I think another interesting number, Kate, for everyone to understand is our bank account, the American bank account. The balance fell below $100 billion. Dramatically falling, the money in the bank.

BOLDUAN: They're running out of money. Yes.

ROMANS: Look at the change here from just May 12th to May 16th. So, that's the money we have to pay the bills. As of June 1st, you're going to start getting some big bills for Social Security, for - for veterans benefits.


ROMANS: For a lot of different things, including interest in our debt.


The smaller that number gets on the right, the worse it is for the American people if something terrible were to happen.

And the big number, 14 days. They've got 14 days to get this right. So that is topic number one in the meeting.

They'll also talk about regional banks. And recent stability in the regional banking system. So, I think that's another very important angle of that important meeting in D.C. today.

BOLDUAN: It is an important meeting. It's good to see you, Christine. Thank you.

ROMANS: You too. Thanks.


BERMAN: I heard the whole thing and you guys are wicked mean.

All right, new developments swirling around embattled Congressman George Santos this morning, now facing 13 federal charges. The House will now not vote on whether to kick him out of Congress. Instead, Republicans punted the issue back to the House Ethics Committee. A move that basically allows them to avoid weighing in directly, at least now.

On the Capitol steps last night, Santos vowed he is not going anywhere. And while he spoke, members from the opposing parties began to heckle Santos and each other.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): Investigation.


SANTOS: Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Did you talk to Speaker McCarthy ahead of the vote?

BOWMAN: Resign!

SANTOS: No, I did not. I allowed the -

BOWMAN: Get him out!

SANTOS: I allowed the process to play itself out.

BOWMAN: Get him out! He's gotta go!

The party has to kick him out. He's embarrassing y'all. He's embarrassing y'all.

REP. MARJORY TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): (INAUDIBLE) Do the right thing. You should impeach Joe Biden.

BOWMAN: Impeach Biden? For what?

GREENE: Biden is a criminal. Oh, Biden is embarrassing you completely.

BOWMAN: You've got to get him out! Expel him. You've got to expel. Save the party.

GREENE: Not. You -

BOWMAN: Your party is hanging by a thread.

GREENE: No, we've got to - we've got to get rid of Biden.

BOWMAN: The party is hanging -- the party is hanging by a thread.

GREENE: Save the country. To save the country.


BERMAN: A well-oiled machine.

CNN's Melanie Zanona live on Capitol Hill.

All right, so that was quite a scene, Melanie, but what happens now?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: OK. So, what happened yesterday was House Republicans essentially bought themselves a little bit more time when it comes to dealing with George Santos. Democrats had wanted to force a floor vote on a resolution that would have expelled him, but Kevin McCarthy came up with essentially an off ramp in order to shield his members from having to go on the record and take what would be a very potentially tough vote for some of them. So, instead of voting on the resolution itself, the House voted yesterday to refer the resolution to the House Ethics Committee. They voted along party lines to do that. So it now heads to the House Ethics Committee. Essentially this is a delay tactic.

But, look, the House Ethics Committee has already been investigating George Santos since March. This committee, it is bipartisan, made up of equally Republicans and Democrats, but it is not known to move very quickly. And, in fact, John, typically when a member is indicted, the DOJ will ask the House Ethics Committee to take a step back, to not interfere with their work.

However, in this case, sources told me and my colleagues Manu Raju and Lauren Fox that the House Ethics Committee is planning to move ahead. But that doesn't mean necessarily that they are going to move quickly. So it could be weeks, if not months, before we make them -- see them make a recommendation on whether or not to expel George Santos. And even then the full House would still have to vote on expulsion, which requires a two-thirds majority.

So, all that to say, it could be a while before we see any punitive action against George Santos. But, in the meantime, Democrats are making clear that they are not going to let Republicans live that vote down and they are going to remind voters that George Santos is still, as of right now, a current member of the Republican Party.

John. BERMAN: And Republicans -- what happened as you so apply point out, they bought themselves some time where they don't have to say whether they think George Santos should be in or out of Congress.

Melanie Zanona, keep us posted. Thanks so much.


SIDNER: Harry and Meghan's spokesperson called the Tuesday night car chase, quote, a near catastrophic incident. But their version of events aren't completely lining up with police and even a taxi driver who picked the couple up.

And we're just minutes away from the opening bell on Wall Street where U.S. stock futures are currently -- investors rallying on optimism around the congressional and White House debt ceiling negotiations after a strong annual forecast from retail giant Walmart as well. Walmart's strong projections hit after earlier this week several other companies like Home Depot actually showed consumers turning away from nonessentials amid the inflation as it goes up.

We're going to be right back.