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U-Haul Truck Rams Barriers Near White House; Russians Say All Cross-Border Attackers Driven Back to Ukraine; Lawyer Said Trump Wanted to Fight Subpoena for Documents; GOP 2024 Field Growing amid Doubts about DeSantis, Trump. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 23, 2023 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This hour, new details about the teenager now charged with threatening to kill, kidnap or inflict harm on a president. This is after a U-Haul, crashing a U-Haul into the barriers very near the White House. New details coming in and we are live at the scene.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): We just received an update from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on where he thinks that the negotiations stand on avoiding the U.S. default. He says they are, quote, "nowhere close to a deal." This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.


BOLDUAN: All right. We have new video in to CNN today and this is really the video that you want to see. It appears to show the moment that a man rammed a U-Haul into a barrier outside of the White House.

The National Park Service has identified who they think is behind this, a 19-year old from Missouri. This all started around 10:00 pm last night and officials say the truck drove into the security barriers on the north side of Lafayette Park, right across from White House compound.

The Secret Service says that no one was injured but officials, including bomb technicians, were on the scene. They searched truck after the crash. A law enforcement source says no explosives were found but what was found, the following, including a flag that appears to show a swastika and a black backpack and a roll of duct tape. Brian Todd is there on the scene.

And you have new details of what the suspect said at the scene last night.

What do you have?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right, Kate. According to law enforcement sources who spoke to our colleagues, Evan Perez and John Miller, at the scene last night, shortly after the vehicle crashed into the barrier behind me, the suspect did make threats regarding the White House.

And that is according to law enforcement sources speaking to Evan Perez and John Miller. It occurred around 10:00 pm Eastern last night. the U-Haul truck smashed into the barrier here behind me. Some oil spilled and they have some sand and absorbent there. There is a tire track here by my feet.

At the scene, shortly after it crashed, they thought there might be some explosive inside the vehicle. And for that reason, they evacuated the hotel there, The Hay Adams. They briefly evacuated the hotel while the FBI checked for explosives. They found none so people were allowed to go back.

The suspect did make threats regarding the White House and the suspect identified as 19-year-old Sai Varshith Kandula from Chesterfield, Missouri, who is charged with threatening to kill, kidnap or harm the president and vice president, assault with a dangerous weapon, damaging federal property and other charges.

He should be appearing in court a little bit later. The Secret Service saying that the president was not in danger at any time but they are not giving any specific measures they took to protect the president at the time of the crash.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Brian.

This investigation clearly continuing. Joining me with much more is National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.


BOLDUAN: This is an investigation handled by the Secret Service and other entities not under your purview.

But as you are standing there, what is your thought about the motivations of this person?

ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: It is difficult to know for sure, Kate. And, like you said, it is under investigation, so I don't want to get ahead of where they are in terms of what the motive was here and the actual intent.

Clearly this individual intended some kind of harm by ramming the truck through the pylons. And that is a violent act by itself but I don't want to get ahead of where the investigation is.

BOLDUAN: Totally understandable.

Do you think that the president or the first lady were in any danger last night?

KIRBY: I have to take the word of the Secret Service here, who made it clear that they were not. They take their responsibilities incredibly seriously. And it is important to note that while Lafayette Square is just over my shoulder where this occurred, it was quite some distance from White House property.

So again, we certainly want to thank local law enforcement and the Park Service and the Secret Service for their very, very prompt action that they took last night. But they, themselves, have said that at no time was the president or the first lady in any danger.

BOLDUAN: And they have moved very quickly to secure the scenes and it is good to hear that.

KIRBY: They did.

BOLDUAN: And also, John, I wanted to ask you about Evan Gershkovich. He is in court to appeal his pretrial detention. And as we came on air, Russian state media is saying that the Russian court has extended his detention for another three months.

We know the FSB had been asking for that. Gershkovich had asked for a house arrest in his pretrial detention.

KIRBY: I am just hearing this news for first time here and I don't have an official reaction except to say that he should not be held at all. Journalism is not a crime. He should be released immediately. That is still the administration's view and President Biden's view and he should not be detained, certainly not extended.

But I am just coming into the news hearing it from you.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Before this, I was going to ask you about his situation, because, again, he was denied a consular visit.

KIRBY: That is right.

BOLDUAN: This is the second time that this has happened.

What is your understanding of why this basic and I would say required -- but they are breaking all kinds of rules and regulations and international law -- but it is an obligation for them to allow these consular visits.

Why are they not allowing this basic access?

KIRBY: It's hard to know what the Russians are thinking here. We do want that access and we want to talk to him directly and check in on him and see how he is doing and communicate to him. And we have made that case very, very stridently through Russian officials, through our embassy, very directly.

And it is not clear why they are denying it. Maybe it is spitefulness over the antipathy toward the United States or toward the free press or there could be some legal excuse they're trying to pin it on. But there is no grounds to deny consular access.

It's typical, a normal request we make for wrongfully detained Americans around the world and we want to get that consular access going. BOLDUAN: John, I wanted to, speaking of Russia, the war in Ukraine,

the Kremlin is saying that forces have pushed back what they are calling Ukrainian forces attacking inside of Russia in the Belgorod region.

But the attack has been claimed by anti-Putin nationals fighting there against Russia.

What is your understanding of what is really happening here?

And how significant is it?

KIRBY: Well, we don't have a whole lot of information on this attack. It does appear it was Russian sympathizing groups, if you will, that sympathize with the war in Ukraine but they're of Russian origin making the alleged attacks here in and around Belgorod.

We don't know a lot of information about these groups, what their motivation was and how they carried out the attacks. When it is coming to our support for Ukraine, we are not encouraging or enabling attacks on Russian territory. Our focus is on making sure Ukraine can defend itself and their own territory.

BOLDUAN: The United States is providing F-16s in coordination with other allies and nations.

Will the U.S. provide its own F-16s to them?

There a process for that decision.


BOLDUAN: But why wouldn't you?

If you now support this move, is there any good reason not to?

KIRBY: I will tell you that we are working our way through that, Kate. The president did announce that we will start to provide training for the Ukrainian pilots, to likely occur in Europe not far from Ukraine, like we've done so many other training events for Ukrainian soldiers and service men and women, most likely I Europe.

But as for how many jets and what type and coming from what country, all of that has to be worked out. One of the things that the president, when he laid out this new training commitment, was to also make it clear that we will be working with a coalition of other nations, nations with these advanced fighter aircraft, to work out all the details of that.

So I can't say yes or no right now, because we are beginning the process. We will see how it fleshes out. But the main thing is they will get advanced fighter aircraft and will get training on how to fly them.

BOLDUAN: John Kirby, National Security Council spokesperson, joining us from the White House, thank you. KIRBY: You bet, Kate.

BERMAN: Really good question, Kate; if they are going to get them anyway, why not from the U.S.?

Now a new update on debt negotiations. Kevin McCarthy did say that they are "nowhere near a deal" but he did deliver a fresh line of maybe optimism that it could happen soon.


QUESTION: Finish this by June 1st?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: We could still finish this by June 1st and the timeline. And look, we met again last night. We are not there yet. It comes down to this, why are we in the problem?

People spent too much money and the Democrats want to spend more than we spent last year. That is not going to happen.


BERMAN: That is part of it. They are also in this situation because the Republicans have not agreed to raise the debt limit, which happened under the Trump administration without conditions. Manu Raju has been running around Capitol Hill.

McCarthy says could get done by June 1st.

But what are you hearing, Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It will still be a huge hurdle to get a deal done by June 1st and get it signed into law. There are so many differences still remaining, between the House Republicans and the White House.

And there's simply not enough time to move through all of the parliamentary procedures to get a bill signed into law and much less get agreement between the House majority and the supermajority in the U.S. Senate.

The question is can get a deal?

White House negotiators are saying that there are still significant differences. McCarthy says they're nowhere near a deal. Garrett Graves and Patrick McHenry, top negotiators in the room, they are saying there is not agreement from the White House to cut spending below this year's level.

The White House said they'd be willing to freeze spending but that is not good enough for Republicans, who are also pushing for policy changes, new work requirements for social safety net programs.

But talking to the people on the Left, they are concerned about those kinds of compromises the White House is seeking. And some on the Right are warning McCarthy not to water down the House bill that included a slew of cuts, showing pressure growing in the ranks.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I think there would be a huge backlash from our entire House Democratic Caucus, certainly the progressives, but also in the streets.

You know, I mean, I think that this is -- it's important that we don't take steps back from the very strong agenda that the president himself shepherded and led over the last two years.

RAJU: But if the president agrees to spending caps or if he agrees to work requirements on certain social safety net programs.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): It would be a problem. We do not legislate through the debt ceiling for this very reason.



REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): What we're willing to accept is what we passed last month. That's why we passed it. They haven't passed anything, yet you keep asking us what we want to do.

What will it take?

What it will take is what we passed.

REP. BOB GOOD, (R-VA): And our position has not changed. The Senate needs to pass the House bill.


RAJU: And some of the conservative hardliners are telling me this morning they do not believe that the June 1st deadline, that a default could occur. They believe that the Treasury Secretary is making things up. They want her to come testify on Capitol Hill. Just showing you the pressure the leaders are facing now.

BERMAN: A lot of words going around. What matters is the words behind closed doors when they start talking again. Keep us posted, Manu. Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: A lot of words but not a lot of action, classic.

CNN is reporting also that Trump is asking his attorney if he can push back against a Justice Department subpoena to recover classified documents from Mar-a-Lago.


BOLDUAN: This is notes obtained by special counsel Jack Smith. Sources say he has dozens of detailed notes taken by Trump attorney Evan Corcoran. Paula Reid has more on this.

This is a fascinating level of detail that the special counsel's office was able to obtain.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: These notes cover a specific time of the investigation last spring after the Trump team received a subpoena from the Justice Department, requesting the return of classified documents still in the former president's possession.

We learned from the sources that these notes reveal how Trump wanted to know how they could push back on this and how they could fight this. At least one source is telling us that, look, he was seeking legal advice and these are the kinds of questions that any client would ask their attorney in this situation.

But we know publicly the former president has given contradictory explanation for why he did not return these materials sooner. At our town hall, our colleague Kaitlan Collins asked him if he had ever shown anyone these documents to anyone else.

He wasn't able to give a clear answer on that. But he was successfully able to convince a court that he needed these notes because these materials were used in furtherance of a crime.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, appreciate the information, Paula.

BERMAN: Near miss after near miss on U.S. runways and the new effort for the FAA to try to stop these close calls.

The U.S. surgeon general says social media creates a, quote, "profound risk" to your children, what stirred these words.

And now, dramatic video showing a 4-year-old child being dropped over a U.S. border wall.





BOLDUAN: Here's what is on our radar this hour. Twelve airports across the U.S. getting more federal funding. The FAA is awarding $100 million in a project aimed at curbing the runway incursions known as near-collisions.

The Michigan governor has signed two new red flag bills into law. Under these, relatives, law enforcement, medical professionals, roommates and former dating partners are allowed to petition a judge to take someone's firearms away.

If the court decides someone is at risk or could harm themselves or others, the court can prevent them from getting a pistol license and a concealed pistol license.

And this, a man in Florida lost his arm after he was attacked by a 10- foot alligator on Sunday. The 23-year old was bitten near a pond behind a bar in Port Charlotte, Florida. He spoke out and I think that we have the sound bite. Listen to. This


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt just felt like moving, you know, (INAUDIBLE) whatnot, something happened where I either tripped me or something on the ground below me kind of just went down and I ended up in the water. And that is really the last thing I remember.


BOLDUAN: That is crazy. Officials say that the alligator was later removed from the pond and "humanely killed."

BERMAN: Wow, that is some story.

All right, Florida governor Ron DeSantis is expected to launch his presidential campaign as soon as maybe tomorrow. But "The Wall Street Journal" reports that other Republicans may not be so impressed that the field could grow even more, which the paper says is, quote, "a sign that prospective candidates don't think Donald Trump has the contest locked up and view governor Ron DeSantis as a flawed lead challenger to the former president."

Do they?

Let's ask one. Former Republican congressman from Texas, Will Hurd, who has said that he is considering running for president.

Congressman, always a pleasure to speak with you.


WILL HURD (R-TX), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Thank you for having me on.

BERMAN: Why would Ron DeSantis be a flawed lead challenger to Donald Trump?

HURD: Well, this is the broader problem at the GOP. We have lost at every level since going back to Donald Trump's election. We lost the House in 2018 and we lost the Senate and the White House in 2020.

The red wave didn't materialize in 2022 and part of that is because of Donald Trump's policies and his behavior and his baggage. And trying to be Donald Trump lite is not going to help us to win in November.

We need candidates to appeal to independents and soft Democrats. And so the problem is not just winning and losing elections. The conclave is we could lose this century. The end of last century has been the American century. It has led to a quality of life that everybody in the world has envied.

And that is at stake if we don't have leaders that are focused on issues that are going to ensure we stay the largest sole superpower. So we need people who are willing to take the message to the country.

BERMAN: Is Ron DeSantis one of them or is he falling into that category of Donald Trump lite?


HURD: Well, I think that Ron is going to get in and he's going to try. I think that his numbers are already souring. I think he made a huge mistake in not supporting Ukraine.

The reality is that, you know, if we don't support a country like Ukraine and win the war -- and winning the war means pushing the Russians out of the entire country to include Crimea -- then Eastern Europe is not going care about what America thinks. And they are going to appease and side with the Russians.

Then Western Europe is not going to care what America thinks and starts siding with the Chinese government. And that is going to cause an unraveling of an international order that has benefited America.

And so there has already been a number of missteps and, ultimately, we know who the frontrunner is. And anybody who is unwilling to challenge that frontrunner is just running for vice president.

BERMAN: Are you willing, Congressman?

And I ask you that with the clock ticking, because you said on TV that you would decide by Memorial Day. And by my count, that is Monday.

HURD: Yes, well, I said I would decide soon. And ultimately, look, my position has been very clear. I have agreed when I agree and I disagreed when I disagree and so I think that my track record of criticizing Donald Trump or being willing to criticize Donald Trump is clear.

So as my wife knows, I make decisions when I'm ready. And when I'm ready to make a decision on whether I am able to continue to serve my country, I will make that decision.

BERMAN: Congressman, you are someone for whom I believe compromise is not a four-letter word. There are negotiations underway right now over raising the debt ceiling. Republicans have said -- and you know, there are two ways, by the way, to reduce debt.

One is to cut spending and the other is to raise revenue.

Why should Republican say or not say, we're not going to raise revenue under any circumstances, whether to tax the wealthy or carry interest loophole, why make that a red line?

HURD: Because ultimately speaker McCarthy has to make sure that he is able to deliver the votes to get something to pass. I think there is the $2 trillion of spending that the Biden administration has done over the last couple of years. And in doing it with Democrats only.

And at a time when he had control, he could have raised the debt ceiling at that point but chose not to. It is kind of ridiculous when he is saying that he is blameless in all of this. They had the opportunity to do that. I think that there is plenty of places where he can streamline how the

federal government operates and where $1.7 trillion over the amount of resources that we take in. But there are some strict cuts.

And at least, the thing that I am hopeful for, the fact that both speaker McCarthy and President Biden is saying that there is not going to be a default. Anybody who thinks that default is an option is ignorant. And we have to prevent that from happening.

And the way that you solve these problems is by negotiating and doing compromise and this should have been going on for the last 100 days.

But in the last eight or nine days that we have, a deal gets solidified, because defaulting on our debt is going to have ramifications for every American and it is going to have ramifications throughout the world.

BERMAN: Congressman Will Hurd, good to see you and thank you for coming on.

BOLDUAN: Montana's new TikTok ban is being challenged in court now. Why the social media company says that ban is unconstitutional.

And a scary scene at the southern border, where a video shows a 4-year old dropped over a border fence. What border officials say happened and how that child is doing. We'll be right back.