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Resuming Bipartisan Talks, Biden and McCarthy Meets Today; Republican Senator Tim Scott to Declare His Candidacy for 2024 Presidency; Parlatore, Former Trump Lawyer, Speaking Out About Leaving the Legal Team; Axiom Flight Arrives at ISS and Waits for Hatch to Open; Republican Megadonor Defends Dealings with Justice Clarence Thomas; Michael Block Dominates PGA Championship; Hole-In-One by Michael Block Amazes Audience. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 22, 2023 - 10:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to "News Central". Very soon, President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy talks over the debt ceiling. On Capitol Hill, negotiators picked up their conversation, but it's really unclear if any progress has been made. Both sides said that the talks on Sunday went well, but timing is clearly running out. The United States could run out of money to pay its bills as soon as June 1st, which is 10 days from now.

The next hour, South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott is expected to officially launch his 2024 presidential campaign. That announcement is set to take place in his hometown of North Charleston. Scott launched a presidential exploratory committee back in April. He filed the paperwork necessary with the FEC last week. And his announcement comes as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is also expected to jump into the race sometime this week as well.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, a now former attorney for Donald Trump is talking to CNN about why he left Trump's legal team. Tim Parlatore who played a key role on the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation says he left because of infighting in the group. He singled out one particular member of the legal team, Boris Epshteyn. Parlatore claims that Epshteyn prevented the rest of the lawyers from doing what they could to defend the former President.

CNN's Paula Reid had a fantastic interview with Parlatore over the weekend. It really was revealing. Just give us the headlines, Paula.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John. You can describe this as irreconcilable differences, the reason why Tim left the legal team. And it was fascinating because he pointed the finger directly at Boris Epshteyn. Saying that Boris was making it impossible for the former president's legal team to properly represent their client. But I'm going to let Tim explain in his own words what was going on. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Well, sure. I mean, there was -- he served as, kind of, a filter to prevent us from getting information to the client and getting information from the client. In my opinion, he was not very honest with us or with the client on certain things. There were certain things like the searches that he had attempted to interfere with. And then more recently, as we are coming down to the end of this investigation where Jack Smith and, ultimately, Merrick Garland is going to make a decision as to what to do, as we put together our defense strategy to help educate Merrick Garland as to how best to handle this matter, he was preventing us from engaging in that strategy.


REID: There, he is accusing Boris of interfering with the search for additional classified documents.


And that is significant because remember, one of the focuses of Special Counsel Jack Smith is possible obstruction in this investigation into the possible mishandling of classified material. Now, on a statement, a spokesman for the former president says, "Mr. Parlatore is no longer a member of the legal team. His statements regarding current members of the legal are unfounded and categorically false."

Of course, John, we know that infighting, in Trump world, is nothing new. But for it to have something like this, spilled out into public view is really extraordinary and it's unclear what this will mean for the investigation. Will the former president change up his approach, change up his team? And, of course, another big question, was the special counsel watching?

BERMAN: Right. I'm sure the special counsel watched that interview, although, they talked to people on their own. But the word choice he used there, interfering, preventive, that's awfully close to obstructing, potentially, you know. What did Parlatore say about what he thinks Jack Smith is up?

REID: Exactly. Shots fired, right. Well, he does not believe that his client will be charged here. But it's clear, he's raising the suggestion that his now former colleague may have tried to interfere in this investigation. Now, some of the other things I wanted to talk to him about, John, were things that his client may or may not have done, especially, did he actually declassify these materials that ended up down at Mar-a-Lago.

By my count, we have at least four different public explanations for what happened to the documents. Some associate to the former president has said, he had a standing declassified order. The former president has said, he declassified them with his mind. At least one of his attorneys has suggested that he followed to a process to a point then at the end, just stopped following the traditional process. And Tim had Congress that all of those materials ending up down in Florida was just the result of the chaos at the end of the administration. So, we went through each of these explanations, and I was not able to get an answer of the how, when and where Trump may have declassified these materials. And the other big thing I wanted to get an answer on is you may remember at our town hall, our colleague Kaitlan Collins, asked the former president if he had ever shown classified materials to anyone else? And his first response was, not really. Well, I followed up with Tim on that and he said that there was no evidence to suggest that the former president showed classified documents to anyone. But again, a lot more questions than answers there.

BERMAN: A lot more questions than answers. A lot of wiggle room but important data points, I think, in this time line. Paula, thanks to you and that interview you did. Thank you so much for being with me.


BOLDUAN: Right now, we are standing by for a crew of private astronauts to open the hatch and board the International Space Station. The four person Axiom team successfully docked at the ISS last hour. And they will now spend the next eight days in space working alongside the existing team and conducting more than 20 experiments and other projects.

CNN -- CNN's Carlos Suarez is live at Kennedy's Space Center once again for us. So, Carlos, last hour they docked, when is the crew expected to enter the space station? What's going to happen now?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we expect that to happen within the hour. Just a few moments ago, we heard over the radio that an area that the astronauts are going to use to cross into the International Space Station has been pressurized. The two Americans and two Saudis are set to join seven other astronauts that are currently at the ISS for this eight-day mission where they're going to do a number of science experiments.

Now, among the four-member crew, of course, are these two Americans, U.S. Commander Peggy Whitson, she is a former NASA astronaut, also a former commander of the International Space Station. She has a great deal of experience in space having spent 665 days in space. The mission pilot is John Shoffner, and then there are two Saudis that are making this trip as well. Ali AlQarni, he is -- is also joined by Rayyanah Barnawi. She is also a mission specialist and she made history yesterday becoming the first Saudi woman in space.

Now, yesterday we heard from these four astronauts a few hours into their journey. They talked about what it was like -- what it's like, really, to be in space. He is what AlQarni said.


ALI ALQARNI, MISSION SPECIALIST, AXIOM MISSION 2: As I look outside into space, I can't help but think this is the beginning of our great journey for all of us. So, I hope you guys enjoy it with us and dream big.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SUAREZ: And so, the opening of the hatch, we expect to take place in about the next couple of minutes, probably within the next 10 minutes. Sometime after that, they'll then crossover into the International Space Station. Then There's going to be welcome ceremony between the seven astronauts that are currently at the ISS as well as the two Americans and the two Saudis.


One final point out here, these four astronauts were able to make it to the International Space Station in record time. It took them 15 hours and 35 minutes. We're told that is a new record for a Dragon Crew. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Impressive. It's going to be great to see you over the next few minutes. Thank you so much, Carlos.


BERMAN: They took the express lane.

The Republican megadonor under scrutiny for undisclosed real estate transactions with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He is now speaking out, why he says he did nothing wrong.



BERMAN: All right. This just in to CNN. GOP megadonor and real estate magnate Harlan Crow who paid for luxury travel for Clarence Thomas has defended his relationship with the Supreme Court justice in his most extensive interview to date. He did it with "The Atlantic".

CNN's Joan Biskupic is with us now. Joan, what did he have to say?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Good morning, John. And you know, Harlan Crow, you know, he's this billionaire who doesn't like that he's been dragged into this issue. And it's an ethics issue with the Supreme Court but also a potential conflict of interest. So, let me just cut to the chase and give you the best line from the piece. As you said, very extensive, in "The Atlantic". I have never, nor would I ever, think about talking about matters that relate to the judiciary with Justice Clarence Thomas. It's not realistic for two people to be friend and not talk about their jobs from time to time.

So, that's the knot (ph) of it, John. But I would say, stepping back, the main thing he wanted to make clear is that he has admired Clarence Thomas. His relationship with him is purely born of friendship and admiration. He talked a bit about the money that he had given to the Thomas family as he bought a home that Clarence Thomas' mother had lived in, in Georgia. He talked about meeting his mother, having many deals with the Thomas family.

And the way he cast it, again, John, was one of, you know, deep dear friendship, and one where he really wanted the make clear he was not trying to influence the justice. You know, obviously, Harlan Crow has been invested in many ways in trying to -- in conservative causes and trying to move the judiciary to the right. But he said the conversations he had with Clarence Thomas were not of that nature. If they talked about work, they would do it in a casual way.

You could feel throughout this piece that he did with a very prominent writer from "The Atlantic", who happens to be from Dallas where Harlan Crow is based, he mainly wanted to sort of explain himself and explain the roots of his friendship with many prominent public officials, including someone like Clarence Thomas. He did not answer questions, I should say, about other financial transactions or benefits he might have bestowed on Clarence Thomas other than the ones that have already come out.

And he also did not want to talk about anything else he had done for other justices. And just to refresh everybody's memory, this all started when "ProPublica" did these pieces about Clarence Thomas taking these trips with Harlan Crow on his, you know, mega yacht, super jet across the globe. John.

BERMAN: Yes, and of course, he didn't address the issues of disclosure which is really --


BERMAN: -- matters for Clarence Thomas in this case.

BISKUPIC: That's exactly right. And that's a matter very much for Justice Thomas to explain.

BERMAN: All right. Joan Biskupic, thank you very much for all that.


BOLDUAN: From giving golf lessons on a public course in California, to hitting off hole in one at the PGA championship, Michael Block with a stroke of a lifetime. Coming up, his, reaction to this wild moment.



BOLDUAN: Brooks Koepka made history becoming the first player from the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour to win a major, claiming the third PGA championship of his career. But the guy who really stole the show, sorry, Brooks, was not him. It was Michael Block, a golfer from Mission Viejo, California whose day job is being a golf pro at a public course. He finished 15th yesterday, winning almost $300,000, securing an invite back to one of golf's biggest championships again next year.

CNN's Coy Wire joins us now. Coy, this is really fun. Did he really win $300,000? Did I read that correctly?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: That's the earnings. That's right, Kate. BOLDUAN: Wow.

WIRE: And we're talking about just a guy, who's just a dude. He says he only gets to hit about a bucket of balls once a week, and that's in between all the lessons he's giving. But part of the charm of the PGA Championship, Kate, is that they let club professionals qualify. And of the 20 who were playing, he was the only one who made the cut. And his magical Sunday in Rochester, New York will go down as one of the great tall tales in golf lore.

He hits this hole in one, Kate, on the 15th. It's his first ever, in any competition. And watch his reaction, he doesn't understand why the crowd is erupting. He's like, they're cheering just because I got on the green. So, he asked Rory McIlroy and Rory is like, no. Dude, you hit a hole in one. Rory wasn't the only one stunned. Watch the reaction from everyone watching back in his home course in California, erupting into cheers when he aced it. The magic just kept coming though.

On, the final hole, needing to sink a putt to finish in that top 15, Block, drops it like it's hot. That means an automatic berth into next year's PGA Championship, and about $300,000 in earnings for this. The crowd erupts again. Hugs from Rory, emotions come pouring out. Block said he was in total disbelief but then comes the best hug of them all, Kate, from his biggest supporter in his life, his wife, Val. Block was on CNN this morning, a few hours ago, talking about his fairy tale story.



MICHAEL BLOCK, FINISHED 15TH AT 2023 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: She almost killed me. She almost choked me out on that one. But, yes, it was great. She was very emotional as I was, too. She hasn't seen me cry outside of one other time in my life until this week. And I woke -- I literally woke up on my bed crying this morning. It was pretty crazy. I can't wait just to be on the plane and sit back and relax and be able to soak it in, and be able to respond to all of my friends that have wished me, you know, what I've done. I mean, it's been insane. And I can't wait just to respond to everybody and tell them thank you for all the support.


WIRE: The PGA Tour surprised Block by inviting him to play again this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, Kate. So, it looks like he's not going to be getting back to teaching those lessons next week after all. But his story is so inspiring. It makes aspiring writers out there think that maybe someday I'll write a best-seller, artists think that maybe one day I'll paint a masterpiece. So, it's something everybody can relate to.

BOLDUAN: I mean, I'll have a controversial opinion on that one -- on this one. I think this is when you retire. Like, you just hit a hole in one in the PGA Championship. This is when you just, like, drop the golf club and say, like, I'm out. Thanks all. This is entirely my legacy. But regardless, I'm sure we'll see him play again. This is why also I don't play golf or win at anything. It's good to see you, Coy.


BERMAN: Well, I hope --

WIRE: You're doing all right.

BERMAN: I hope you stick around to the end of the show, at least today, Kate. Because any minute now --

BOLDUAN: Well, I'm fine but I must.

BERMAN: -- any minute now, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is expected to officially announce his run for the White House, putting him up against another big name, South Carolinian, Nikki Haley and, of course, the front liner, Donald Trump.

And the Uvalde community preparing to mark one-year since the tragedy at the Robb Elementary School. Why families of the victims and survivors push to see the body camera footage from that day.