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Biden in Japan to Meet with Allies as He Faces Debt Limit Crisis in U.S.; Ukraine Says, 29 Out of 30 Russian Cruise Missiles Intercepted; Gov. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) bans TikTok Throughout State. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 18, 2023 - 10:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A barrage of missiles raining down on Ukrainian cities. Russia claims they've hit a weapons depot overnight, yet Ukraine says its air defense systems largely took out Russia's missiles. We'll take you to the frontlines live.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: A deal unlike any other, three West Coast states racing to cut water usage as a drought fueled by climate change is drying up the Colorado River.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Leaving the game, umpires walking off the diamond not because of the players but because of their parents. Now, there is an ump shortage plaguing America's pastime, all this on CNN News Central.

BOLDUAN: President Biden has wrapped up the first day of his big trip to Japan. This morning, he met with Japan's prime minister before the G7 Summit kicks off tomorrow. Biden's main focus of this trip is on providing more support to Ukraine and uniting allies against China's influence. But he decided to cut his trip short to head back to Washington to deal with some domestic matters because of the fight over the debt ceiling is still not even close to being settled.

CNN's Marc Stewart, he is following the president's travels in Japan. He joins us now. Mark, how are other world leaders responding to this looming crisis that they see now playing out back here at home for President Biden with the debt ceiling?

MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this debt ceiling distraction is certainly an issue that the president would like to avoid, but it's one that he has to confront, because if there is a default in the U.S., it is one of those rare moments that could actually create or trigger a global recession. So, it's something that G7 members, although not necessarily on the agenda, will likely confront and question the president about tomorrow.

There is some understanding. In fact, if you look at some of the remarks from the Australian prime minister, with whom he was supposed to actually meet in Australia, he expressed understanding, knowing the consequences if there is this default. With all of that said, the president certainly has to confront some other big issues, including the war in Ukraine as it now enters its second year. It's an issue he discussed briefly today here in Hiroshima with the prime minister of Japan. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: But I'm proud that the United States and Japan are facing it together. And 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.


STEWART: On that topic of accountability, the G7 nations will have to look at a number of actions, whether they be diplomatic or even economic, perhaps more sanctions, more restrictions on imports and exports to Russia. Kate, we also have to put China on the list of issues to discuss.


Even artificial intelligence is expected to come up over the next few days here in Hiroshima, Japan.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. It's good to see you, Marc. Thank you so much. Sara?

SIDNER: This morning, Ukraine says its air defenses managed to intercept most of the missiles that rained down on a number of their cities overnight. This is what is left from just one of those missiles intercepted in the capital Kyiv. In Odessa, fragments for an intercepted missile are believed to have killed at least one person there.

CNN's Sam Kiley is joining us from Eastern Ukraine. Sam, what do you got for us this morning? There are a lot of things going on in the country. The war still raging as ever.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Sara. I mean, I think that the 29 out of 30 is a typically good strike rate for the capacity of the Ukrainians to defend their airspace. Now, the Russians are claiming that they have successfully bombarded and destroyed arms depots last night.

Now, we have got no evidence for that. The Ukrainians say one thing, the Russians say the other. We are also working under military restrictions in terms of what we can report and the Ukrainians never admit there's hitting of any military targets for obvious reasons.

But we do know what's going on militarily around the city of Bakhmut, where there is very heavy fighting. The both sides agree on that. There have been limited advances made by the Wagner mercenary group inside that city whilst they're being simultaneously flanked to the north and south with gains being made by the Ukrainians. And this all happening, Sara, as the shadow war continues up haste with a mysterious derailment of trains traveling between the two main cities in the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula. The Ukrainians being coy and somewhat tongue in cheek saying that this was a consequence of poor maintenance.

Clearly, this is joke response they often make to when they have conducted partisan or Special Forces attacks deep behind the Russian held lines. We've seen that in the past when they attributed the destruction of a number of aircraft in the Crimean Peninsula to a smoking accident made by or committed by a sentry on duty there.

We know, but can't prove, of course, that these are actions that are being conducted regularly by the Ukrainians, and I think we could see more of them. They're certainly bound to be more being planned ahead of the much warranted ground offensive that the Ukrainians say they're going to launch this summer.

SIDNER: I have to say, the pictures of the missile smoldering there are pretty remarkable. Sam Kiley, thank you to you and your team there for us in Eastern Ukraine. John?

BERMAN: All right. Happening now, we have live pictures of two agents, FBI agents, testifying on Capitol Hill. This after their security clearances were revoked by the Bureau due to issues regarding the insurrection on January 6.

The agents are star witnesses in this Republican-led hearing. What Republicans are trying to prove or assert is that the FBI and Justice Department are actively working against conservatives. The Republicans call this the weaponization of the government.

CNN's Sara Murray has been watching this hearing as it takes place. Sara, give us the news.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, as you can imagine, the so-called whistleblowers who are testifying are already raising concerns with what they say is the weaponization of the security clearance process for the FBI. And, of course, that's because the FBI shared a letter yesterday talking about how two of these star witnesses appearing today have had their security clearances stripped in part because of views they expressed or activities they took surrounding January 6th.

I mean, one of the folks who's appearing today, Marcus Allen, is someone who urged his colleagues to move with discretion in how they approach these January 6th cases, professed the idea that law enforcement agents may have infiltrated the crowd on January 6th.

Another one of the witness who's appearing today, Steven Friend, objected to a SWAT team arrest, saying he believed it was excessive force. He also used an unauthorized flash drive to go into the FBI and access an FBI computer and download documents.

So, the FBI in this letter is sort of pointing out that there were legitimate reasons, in the view of the FBI, to strip these men of their security clearances. Republicans are standing up for them today saying, look, this is just evidence of how the FBI is coming after people who may have different viewpoints about January 6th, who may try to stand up to the FBI. And we are hearing a little bit from Democrats already in this hearing who are saying these guys are not whistleblowers. The agencies have not determined them to be whistleblowers. They are just calling themselves whistleblowers, John.

BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray, I know this hearing is ongoing. You will continue to watch it. Please keep us posted. Thank you. Kate?

BOLDUAN: So, Montana is making moves, now the first state to block TikTok, really, on all devices. The governor signed a law yesterday, and it will block the app from operating within state lines, and it goes into effect in January.


CNN's Brian Fung, he's following this. He has more details for us. Brian, this is expected to be challenged in court. So, where does this go? What happens?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Yes, Kate. We're really in uncharted waters at the moment. This expected lawsuit could really break new ground in terms of how tech platforms are regulated in the United States. I mean, we are talking about some serious constitutional concerns being raised in response to this law. TikTok, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union have said this law that bans TikTok in Montana threatens the First Amendment rights of Montanans by preventing them from accessing legal speech as well as preventing them from expressing themselves on the internet.

And then there's also another concern here regarding something called bills of attainder, which are essentially laws that are passed to penalize a company without due process, and those are unconstitutional under many state constitutions as well as the federal constitution. So, I think both of these theories are going to be well tested here as this lawsuit potentially comes into play.

And another point to highlight here is that it's not just TikTok that's a target of this ban. You have companies like Apple and Google and other app store operators that are prohibited under this law from making TikTok available for downloads to users in Montana.

Now, it's important to point out here that the violations of this law could carry significant fines, up to $10,000 per violation per day, and all of that would add up to a hefty amount of money. So, there are big stakes tied up in both the ban and the potential lawsuit coming in response. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I mean, even before a lawsuit, it's making a very big statement and it would be groundbreaking if this would go into effect. It's good to see you, Brian. Thanks. Sara?

SIDNER: Still ahead, the announcement many in Washington have been waiting for, when we can expect Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to officially enter the 2024 presidential race. Plus, a controversial bill in Texas, how civilians could be given the authority to arrest or detain undocumented immigrants.

Also, the man accused of brutally killing four University of Idaho students indicted by a grand jury now. He faces four counts of murder and one count of burglary. The detail on that, ahead.



BOLDUAN: On our radar this morning, a Texas man has pleaded guilty to smuggling a gun linked to the deadly kidnapping of four Americans earlier this year. Federal officials say 42-year-old Roberto Moreno Jr. bought the gun knowing he was going to give it to a member of a Mexican cartel. The U.S. attorney involved in this case says that this case is a textbook example of the dangers involved when criminals transport weapons into Mexico. Moreno faces up to ten years in federal prison.

Now, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and today, the Biden administration is rolling out a plan the White House says we will help meet the nation's mental health challenges. It includes $200 million in funding for the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline and more resources for mental health services in schools.

And after months of speculation, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to enter the 2024 presidential race, and he's expected to make it official next week. Sources tell CBB DeSantis will file the necessary paperwork and then hold a formal announcement event in his hometown. CNN previously reported his team is also organizing a major fundraising event next week, which could now coincide with the launch of his campaign. Sara?

SIDNER: This morning, we are just two weeks away from a possible default on the nation's debt ceiling. And with time running out to reach a deal, some Senate Democrats are planning to increase pressure on President Biden to invoke his constitutional authority under the 14th Amendment to raise the nation's debt limit without having to pass legislation through Congress.

CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill with details. Manu, I know you've just run into place because you just had a conversation with the speaker of the House. What did McCarthy say to you?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He actually was positive about the way talks are going, the first upbeat tones we have heard from the speaker about these negotiations for some time. Remember, earlier in the week, he said that they were not been making very much progress.

He had been very critical of the White House for not agreeing to negotiate with them. Several months ago, the White House simply wanted McCarthy to raise the national debt limit without any cuts, without any conditions, whatsoever. Ultimately, the White House reversed course, and now they've been engaged in direct talks between the White House senior officials at the White House and the speaker's top emissary here, Congressman Garret Graves, along with the speaker staff.

He said those talks have been productive. The speaker wants a bill on the floor next week. He still thinks it's important to get a deal in principle by this weekend. He also told me that it's going to take several days to move through the House, probably even longer to move through the Senate. And he said he has had a discussion about the process with Chuck Schumer.

Now, what does the actual deal look like? That is still uncertain. The speaker said a lot of issues are still on the table. He would not get into a lot of whether the disagreements that still exist. But in talking to a number of the members in the rank and file, there is still a lot of angst among liberals who don't believe any deal that the president will cut with Kevin McCarthy would act actually would help their priorities, and among some conservatives who are warning the speaker not to give in too much and not to water down the bill that passed the House earlier this year.


RAJU: So, you'll be okay with voting with something less than what the House --


REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): We're not going to accept anything other than what we've put.

I would suggest that McCarthy not meet until he get put something in writing. His words have no meaning. Put it in writing and if it's anything less, we're not going to accept it.

RAJU: You don't think he's going to make any changes in a compromise with the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a winning hand.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D-OR): If Kevin McCarthy is trying to do these horrific things, blackmailing American public to do so, the president needs to say not now, not ever, I'm invoking the 14th Amendment.


RAJU: Now, that last comment in reference to using a constitutional authority, untested legal efforts for the president to simply raise national debt limit without any congressional action. That is something that has Democrats are certainly not divided on something that the White House has not indicated that it would support going forward. But that signals the concerns on the left about the deal that could come together.

But I just want to note, important to note what the speaker did just tell me, that he does believe things are going in a positive direction. He does see the possibility of getting to a deal, which is a sharp shift in his tone.

Now, does that mean they can actually get something, avoid a default by early June, get it through both chambers of Congress, get everyone enough support in the House and the Senate, all major questions at the moment as the negotiations hit a critical phase.

SIDNER: Yes. So, the headline here is that, really, for the first time, you're hearing positive vibes from the speaker of the House, Mr. McCarthy there. All right, thank you so much, Manu Raju, for getting that for us ah, this morning. John?

BERMAN: That is a significant development, Sara. Hopefully we'll be able to get back to Manu and maybe to the White House to find out if they have a similar version of these positive developments in the debt ceiling talks, because that would be a first time. It is a first time, especially from the House speaker there.

So, one of the issues that Republicans want on the table is adding work requirements for safety net programs, including Medicaid. This is what President Biden said about it yesterday.


BIDEN: I'm not going to accept any work requirements that's going to impact on medical health needs of people.

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.


BERMAN: In 1996, Biden was one of 78 senators from both parties who voted for the welfare reform package that then President Bill Clinton signed into law. It requires states to ensure that a certain share of those receiving cash aid participate in work related activities.

Experts say about 540,000 families who received that cash assistance were subject to the work requirements in 2021. Those families included nearly 1 million children. The welfare reform law included rules for food stamps, including mandating that able bodied adults without dependence could only get food stamps for three months out of every three years unless they are working at least 20 hours a week.

Last month, House Republicans passed a bill that would raise the age limit of people that -- of those people that that applies to from 49 to 55. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that would result in an average of 275,000 people losing benefits each month.

The new Republican bill would also introduce a federal work requirement to Medicaid with exemptions for parents of dependent children and people who are physically or mentally unfit to work, among other things. The CBO says that would ultimately result in about 600,000 people losing their insurance coverage.

All of this, though, Kate, I think we now need to put on hold based on the news that we just got from Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Kevin McCarthy says positive developments. What does that mean? Where are those positive developments? Why does he have this new attitude for the first time here?

BOLDUAN: And that's the key here. The tone coming from McCarthy had been something more akin to like pouring cold water on any kind of positive outlook in the past week. That is movement. Let's see. But that suggests stand by to stand by.

BERMAN: Exactly. Let's see why.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Thanks, John.

Coming up for us, the suspect in last year's fatal stabbing of four college students has now been indicted by a grand jury. A look at the charges and the case against him, next.

And a new deal between three Western states and the federal government could help save the water supply for tens of millions of Americans. Why this is now being held as a historic agreement and why it's not quite yet a done deal.



SIDNER: This morning, we are learning that an eight-year-old girl has died in Texas while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Right now, it is unclear what caused that little girl's death. All authorities will say at this point is that she experienced a medical emergency and was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. An investigation is, of course, underway.

And then there is this move by Texas lawmakers. They are considering giving civilians the authority to arrest or detain migrants. The bill would create a, quote, Border Protection Unit. That unit would be used to repel people from entering Texas unlawfully and give them the authority to return migrants to Mexico. A Texas State Senate committee will take up the legislation today.

CNN's Nick Valencia is following this story for us.