Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Ukraine's Zelenskyy To Attend G7 In Japan; South Carolina GOP Senator Tim Scott Files To Run For President; Soon: Teixeira Due In Federal Court For Detention Hearing. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 19, 2023 - 14:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A united front against Russia. G7 leaders meeting in Japan prepared new sanctions with Ukrainian president Zelenskyy set to make his case for more support in person.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And while at the G7, President Biden phones home. Debt ceiling talks on his mind, as negotiators hit the pause button. We're going to take you live to Capitol Hill for the very latest.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis fighting with Disney, it's already playing out in the 2024 primary race. Remember, he isn't even in this race yet but his potential future opponents are sure acting like he is. We're following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SCIUTTO: A surprise visit to the G7 Summit in Japan at a critical moment for the war in Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will arrive in Hiroshima this weekend to meet face-to-face with President Biden and other world leaders. Symbolism cannot be denied. Remember, the G7 used to be the G8 until Russia was expelled.

The battlefield impact of these talks that can be significant as well. The U.S. shifting its stance on F-16s now primed to let NATO Allies send those fighter jets to Kyiv. And ahead of Zelenskyy's arrival, G7 leaders unveiled a sweeping list of new sanctions targeting the Kremlin.

CNN's Nic Robertson, he is in Ukraine. Nic, of course, the Ukrainian president. He's made a lot of international visits before over the course of this Russian invasion -- the Russian war in Ukraine, but this one happening right now on the cusp of this widely anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive. How important right now?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is important to Zelenskyy. He is on the record as saying the country is not quite ready for the counter-offensive. It's almost ready.

But when you talk to the frontline commanders here and you go into the conversations recognizing that what they tell you could be spent intended to send a counter-narrative or propaganda to the Russian side. They say they're low on ammunition. But when you get in-depth conversations along the frontline, and speak to a lot of people, what you hear along the front here echoes what President Zelenskyy is saying. He needs more equipment, more ammunition. He cannot afford this fight this summer, this big counteroffensive to stall and peter out.

Russia would benefit from a sustained sort of frozen conflict or trench warfare when no side is making gains. This is why it's important for Zelenskyy. He has said that the F-16 announcement coming from President Biden is something that he welcomes and historic decision.

That has been a prelude to it this previous week and Zelenskyy has been in Europe, has been to Italy, has been to France, Germany, the UK. We had also European leaders meeting in Iceland, and it was there late this week that the Dutch and British prime ministers agreed to help Zelenskyy with the F-16s, with procurement, with training. But there's a sense here that the aircraft and the tanks that were announced a few months ago are coming a little too late, a little too short. There's concern along the front line, are they going to make it through with this big push? So yes, F-16, very important.

SCIUTTO: Well, that's notable, right because of course, there have been complaints along the way that it took too long to make that decision to send the Leopard tanks from Germany, for instance, or the Abrams from the U.S. Nic, we know you're going to be there to watch it for us.

Let's get the view now from the G7 where Marc Robertson is there in Japan. Marc, besides the G7 leaders, tell us who else going to be in the room with Zelenskyy and who else is he making appeals to there.

MARC STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Jim. As one analyst pointed out today, President Zelenskyy already has the support of the G7 member nations. It is other invited guests and leaders that may be of interest. In fact, it's been described as a rare opportunity for him to meet with perhaps leaders of Indonesia, India, Brazil, South Korea, and Vietnam, not necessarily member nations of the G7 but invited guests to this summit.

It will be a chance for him to certainly talk about diplomacy and military action. But he also may put some pressure on some of those nations to reexamine their economic relationships with Russia. Relationships that indirectly could be helping Russia through funding of that war.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I called you Marc Robertson, of course, you're Marc Stewart. Nic Robertson in Ukraine. But describe more specifically because I think folks at home, they're used to seeing batches of sanctions every couple of weeks coming from the West. What is truly impactful and new from this latest round from the G7?

STEWART: So, the goal of the G7 when it comes to this latest round of sanctions is to basically close any loopholes, any gaps that could be providing financial assistance from member nations to Russia.

[14:05:13] So, that's why we are seeing the United Kingdom announce it is banning imports of Russian diamonds, Russian metals, commodities that Russia has been making a lot of money from, from the European Union, including Great Britain. We also see Australia putting restrictions on imports of things such as construction equipment and other types of materials.

You know, if you look at war, there are several components that are needed. You need people, you need military equipment --


STEWART: -- and you need money.


STEWART: This is another attempt to quash the money-making machine that is supporting the Russian army.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And then the question is how much does China, for instance, or India pick up that slack in terms of what they're buying from China? Marc Stewart, they're in Hiroshima, Nic Robertson, of course in Ukraine. Boris.

SANCHEZ: In Washington, the high-stakes debt talks have hit a snag and are now on pause. The setback dousing would have been a growing optimism. Earlier, President Biden cut short his dinner with fellow G7 leaders and went back to his hotel for a virtual meeting with his negotiators in DC. The U.S. now has 13 days before potentially running out of money to pay its debts.

Let's take you now live to Capitol Hill and CNN's Melanie Zanona. Melanie, where do things stand right now?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Boris, things are still at an impasse. So, negotiators met earlier today on Capitol Hill but the talks broke up pretty quickly. And afterwards, Republican Congressman Garret Graves emerged and said, the talks have been put on pause and that things just weren't productive.

Then we caught up with Speaker Kevin McCarthy moments ago and he confirmed that indeed they are taking a step back and that things are on hold. And he suggested that spending cuts are one of the sticking points. Take a listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Well, we've got to get movement by the White House but we don't have any movement yet, so yes, we got to pause.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tone -- the tone seems really optimistic yesterday, is it sort of an easy step down and the hard steps left?

MCCARTHY: Yesterday, I really felt we were at the location where I could see the path that the White House is just -- look, we can't be spending more money next year. We have to spend less than we spend the year before. It's pretty easy.


ZANONA: Now, a White House official did say a deal is still possible and that they are still committed to getting a deal. But they also acknowledge that there are still real differences to work out here. So, the sides are still very far apart.

And look, in these sorts of negotiations, blow-ups and breakdowns are actually not that uncommon. You have to understand that both Biden and McCarthy are feeling pressure from their left and right flanks respectively to show that they are fighting that they're not going to give in. But in terms of a timeline, this is a huge setback because negotiators were hoping to get a deal at least in principle by this weekend so they could get it onto the House floor by next week.

That already was an ambitious timeline. That is now completely in doubt. And the clock is ticking. As of right now, there are no more meetings or talks scheduled for today, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, McCarthy's saying he wanted the deal by the weekend to get Congress to pass it by June first. Again, only 13 days away from a potential economic disaster. Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill, thanks so much. Brianna.

KEILAR: In Florida, just days before Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to launch his presidential bid, he gets big-footed by Disney ramping up the feud by scrapping plans for a billion-dollar office campus. That's costing Florida 2000 jobs. And DeSantis is blaming the company's financial challenges. But rival politicians are all too happy to blame DeSantis.

We have CNN's Natasha Chen who is on this story for us. Natasha, DeSantis actually just addressed this in New Hampshire and clearly trying to make the most of this politically with some tough words for Disney.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It looks like he was speaking at a diner in Manchester, New Hampshire. And he made a comment about Disney's special tax district, the one where DeSantis has instituted his own board members there now.

He said to put one corporation on a pedestal and have them be exempt from the laws is not good policy, not good free market economics, not something our state is going to be involved in. He said I know people try to chirp and say this or that. The chance of us backing down from that is zero. So, he is going all in here, Brianna.

And meanwhile, his potential rivals in 2024 are weighing in. And that includes Mike Pence who spoke to Fox Business. Here's what he said.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like Walt Disney not woke Disney, all right? And I'm not terribly surprised to see Disney canceling a billion-dollar contract. That's all -- that's only going to harm people in the Orlando and Florida area, and it's one more reason why, as a limited government conservative, I've said for months now that I think both sides ought to stand down, take the victory for parents' rights in the legislature and move on.



CHEN: This was going to be 2000 jobs in Central Florida, a one- billion-dollar complex in the Lake Nona area that's east of Walt Disney World Resort. The Disney company through a memo yesterday that I obtained says this is really because of new leadership and changing business conditions. They did not mention any politics in that memo, clearly. That's the blueprint you see for that office complex where the move is now not happening.

The fallout for the employees though, there had been some flexibility in moving the employees from California to Florida over time. Some of them already started to do so. A couple of hundred employees already in Florida and we're told that they will be given the option, the possibility of moving back here to Burbank in Southern California.

I'm also told that some employees at the time of the announcement had decided to quit and find other jobs because they knew they did not want to go to Florida. So, this is really changing a lot of people's lives here as well as stirring the pot in politics, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, a lot of whiplash for those employees for sure. Natasha Chen, thank you. Jim.

CHEN: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: All right. So, get ready for the race to expand appears a new GOP contender will be seeking the Republican presidential nomination. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott has just filed to run for president in 2024 according to the Federal Election Commission's website. He is expected to make a formal announcement on Monday.

Here with me now is CNN's Eva McKend. You know, Eva, a lot of folks saw this coming. Of course, he had been dancing around this for some time. I wonder how this would shake up a race that many portray as a straight-up Trump-DeSantis contest. But of course, it's way early in the race. I mean, this could change.



MCKEND: Listen. Senator Scott is arguably one of the most influential black conservatives in America. He is the only black Republican currently in the United States Senate. He's well known. He's well- liked.

And he also enters this race with an edge, $22 million in his campaign coffers leftover from his Senate run.


MCKEND: We've learned that he's going to use six million of that money in advertisements in the critical states of Iowa and New Hampshire in advance of the first Republican debate in August.


MCKEND: So, for folks that don't know him, he has the money to compete --


MCKEND: -- to introduce himself to voters over the next several months.

SCIUTTO: That DeSantis and Trump. I mean, they're north of a hundred million so 22 million is nothing to sniff it. But -- although they have an advantage here. I mean, the other piece here, right is his message.

I saw him speak at the Alfalfa dinner. He has a very positive take on America, right? It's not all doom and gloom, but he also has a genuine story of coming from nothing. I mean, a truly moving one that he tells well.

MCKEND: Right. And it's clear that he is going to use that biography in his pitch to voters. This -- I think his candidacy is really a test to see if that message can resonate with Republican voters.

SCIUTTO: Yes, correct.

MCKEND: Has the party really become so steeped in a grievance that they don't really want to hear a positive message --


MCKEND: -- or does Senator Scott's story and argument belie that?


MCKEND: I was in Iowa a few weeks ago speaking to voters, and some of them as much as they liked the former president, they told me that they have concerns about Trump being able to win in the general election and told me that they think that Senator Scott can.

SCIUTTO: Wow, that's notable. And that's an influential state, right? Races can turn on a result like that early on. We'll see. Eva McKend, thanks so much. Boris.

SANCHEZ: Coming up on CNN NEWS CENTRAL. A big court hearing this afternoon for the young air guardsman accused of leaking military secrets. He's asking to be released until trial.

Plus, major signals coming from the Georgia prosecutor investigating Donald Trump's meddling in the 2020 election. We'll explain the latest.

And later, legendary entertainer Jimmy Buffett has been hospitalized. With the latest on his condition from Margaritaville straight ahead.



SANCHEZ: In the next hour, we expect to see the alleged Pentagon documents leaker in court. A federal judge is going to decide if 21- year-old Jack Teixeira should remain in jail ahead of his trial. Former and current Defense personnel tell CNN they are alarmed that to share a kept his security clearance.

Remember there are newly released memos showing that Air Force leadership warned him repeatedly about his mishandling of classified documents. And those warnings came months before his arrest for posting classified information online.

Let's take you now outside the courtroom in Western Mass with CNN's Jason Carroll. Jason, has the judge given any indication of whether Teixeira will remain in custody?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, what I can tell you this is the judge in this case, David Hennessy, the federal judge is looking at all sides of this, looking at the information very, very carefully. You just look at some of the recent evidence that's come to light. You look at that video. That video of Teixeira firing that weapon using racial slurs. I mean, this again, prosecutors say goes to his character.

In addition to that, prosecutors presented the court just this week with additional information. They say -- showing that Teixeira tried on three separate occasions to classify -- to access classified information and was admonished by his supervisors. You look at incidents in September and another one in October.

At one point, he took a look at classified information, wrote a note about it, put it in his pocket. A supervisor took a look at it and told him not to do that again. You remember, though, that this is a situation where prosecutors say he was, you know, revealing this type of information on a server where you had more than one hundred users, some of them with foreign IP addresses.

But Teixeira, for his part, went on to brag about it, according to prosecutors, bragging about it online saying the following. All of the expletives, I've told you guys I'm not supposed to. Man, how escalated up is it? I can type out all of this and still be ready for more, but can barely get through a two-page college paper.


Prosecutors telling the judge just this week, the weight of the evidence against the defendant has only grown stronger. And the risk the defendant poses if released, have only come sharper into focus. The defense for its part, also though presenting the judge with evidence they say showing that in the past, there have been situations where defendants who have been charged under the Espionage Act have been released on bail with conditions.

And so that is what the defense is asking for this time that Teixeira be released with conditions such as under his father's supervision. We'll see what the judge decides when this hearing gets underway in just about an hour from now, Boris.

SANCHEZ: No, we know you'll be watching that hearing closely. Jason Carroll from Worcester, Massachusetts, thanks so much. Brianna.

KEILAR: In Georgia, we seem to be getting the clearest signal yet on whether potential charges may come in the investigation into former President Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis sending a letter to staff on Thursday announcing remote workdays in August. She also asked judges to not schedule in-person hearings for parts of August.

We have CNN's Sara Murray, who is joining us now on this story. So, this letter is coming after -- we sort of already knew, right, that this would all happen this summer but this is a much more narrow timeline.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. She had a reach -- originally told law enforcement expect some announcements between July 11 and September first. In this letter where she is announcing these remote work dates for staff, she's asking judges, could you not schedule in-person trials or in person-hearings, essentially, for the first three weeks of August makes it pretty clear that this is the time period she's going to make her announcement on whether to bring charges against anyone.

And she says in her letter that by making these changes, these remote workload changes, you're going to take out 70 percent of the people who are working in this judicial complex. That's been a big issue. They've gotten a lot of threats.

She's talked about this throughout the investigation. So, I think they want it to be sort of as small of a presence of people who do not need to be there as possible in case there are potential threats when she's making these announcements.

KEILAR: It's really quite a precaution to be taken. But don't they still have to deal with the former President's request to throw out all of the evidence from the special grand jury?

MURRAY: Yes, there has been this pending motion. Donald Trump's team wants the district attorney disqualified from this case. He wants all of the evidence and the special Grand Jury collective thrown out.

And the Trump team recently said, hey, can you give us 21 more days to respond to what the district attorney last had to say about this today? Today, the judge said, thanks. But no things. Judge Robert McBurney said, to date, the court has received well over 500 pages of briefing, argument, and exhibits on the issues raised. That is plenty. There will be no more briefing unless it is solicited in writing by the court. So, it is pretty clear here. The judge is tired of reading motions and ready to move this thing along. So now we wait for him to rule on the Trump team's motion here.

KEILAR: That's the judge equivalent of don't call me I'll call you.

MURRAY: Exactly.

KEILAR: Sara Murray, thank you.

MURRAY: Thanks.


SCIUTTO: Well, during a surprise appearance, the author, Salman Rushdie warned against Florida's book ban saying they will suppress freedom of expression. And we take a look at the conservative activist group Moms for Liberty that has been a driving force behind those book bands as well as restrictions on curricula in schools there. Their story, just head. Stay with us.



KEILAR: Author Salman Rushdie made a rare surprise appearance last night in New York to warn against the dangers of banning books. Rushdie was in town to accept a Courage Award from the literary and speech advocacy group PEN America and he raised the order -- he praised the organization for suing Florida's Escambia County School District over the removal of certain books on race and LGBTQ issues from school libraries.


SALMAN RUSHDIE, AUTHOR: And PEN has to face that problem head-on just as we have done in other countries. The attack on books, the attack on teaching, the attack on libraries in -- how can I put this, Florida? Has never been more dangerous, never been more important to fight.


KEILAR: Rushdie survived a near-fatal stabbing attack nine months ago while giving a speech in upstate New York. He did take a moment to thank the audience members who came to his rescue and saved his life that August day, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Survived the fight as well for many years. As it appears more and more likely, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will join the Republican race for the presidency. It brings a renewed spotlight on the governor's parental rights in education law, and all the controversies and protests it has sparked. It bans teaching Florida students about sexual orientation and gender identity and has led to the banning of hundreds of books from public school reading lists. If DeSantis has aspirations to take those bands wider, that is nationally, he already has a small army behind him. A group of moms laying the groundwork in PTA meetings across the country. CNN's Elle Reeve has more on exactly who they are.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By exposing our children to adult concepts such as gender identity, we are asking them to carry a load that is much too heavy for them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Might I suggest instead of anal sex, perhaps we could go back to teaching cursive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This book is not appropriate and it isn't in your schools.

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Moms for Liberty is a parent activist group.