Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

GOP Hard-Liners Slam McCarthy Over Debt Deal; Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) Discusses About The Motion To Oust McCarthy Of Speakership; Russia Bombards Kyiv For 17th Time This Month; Beluga "Spy Whale" Swims Into Swedish Waters. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired May 30, 2023 - 15:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: The battle for votes and McCarthy's first big test, all happening right now on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers meeting over this debt deal with some hardline Republicans and the Speaker isn't just fighting for support on his agreement, he could be fighting to keep his job.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And Moscow is rocked, drone attacks hitting residential buildings in the Russian capital. At the same time the Kyiv is facing a bombardment overnight. We'll have the latest from the frontlines.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: And this could turn your stomach a little bit, a new report from the CDC is highlighting how restaurant workers who handle food while they are sick themselves are actually one of the leading drivers of foodborne illness outbreaks. We are following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SANCHEZ: In just minutes, a deal to raise the debt ceiling and avert a catastrophic U.S. default will finally be in front of lawmakers. A key House committee is taking up the bill, the result of painstaking negotiations between the White House and Speaker McCarthy over the last few weeks. But all afternoon we've been hearing from angry Republican hardliners threatening to strip McCarthy of the speaker's gavel for the concessions he made. Moments ago, McCarthy sounded unfazed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some confident (inaudible) pass the bill.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I'm not sure what in the bill people are concerned about.


SANCHEZ: CNN's Lauren Fox has been tracking all of this from Capitol Hill. And Lauren is this grandstanding or do they actually have the votes here to threaten McCarthy? LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, conservatives are

clearly angered by some of the provisions that ended up in this bill and some of the provisions that did not end up in this bill, arguing that it is a far watered down version of the House debt ceiling bill that was passed just a few weeks ago that they believed Speaker McCarthy should have stuck to in these talks with President Joe Biden.

So while there are a number of members of the House Freedom Caucus, who are threatening to vote against this bill, the expectation if it can get to the House floor and that remains an if (inaudible) is that they will have strong numbers on the Republican side.

In just a few minutes, the House Rules Committee is expected to convene they will discuss this bill and we expect that there could be some problems among conservatives on that committee, both Chip Roy as well as Ralph Norman have suggested that they could vote against it.

However, there's another conservative who could be a key and important vote, that's Thomas Massie. He said earlier today that he was not going to publicly say how he was voting, but in previous comments from just a few months ago, he did note that if the majority of his conference was supportive of something, he wouldn't necessarily stop it in the House Rules Committee.

So when I asked Kevin McCarthy just a few minutes ago, if he was confident he was going to have the Republican votes he needed in that committee, he told me yes as specifically how Thomas Massie was going to vote. He said, "Ask Thomas."

I also asked McCarthy, more about if he feels like his speakership is going to be threatened if he puts this bill on the House floor tomorrow. He told me: "You guys asked me all the time. I'm still standing." Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, standing but with a razor thin margin there.

Lauren Fox from Capitol Hill, thank you so much. Brianna?

KEILAR: Some of the harshest rhetoric aimed at Speaker McCarthy over this debt deal is coming from the Freedom Caucus and specifically one of its members, Dan Bishop. Here he was just a short time ago speaking to CNN's Manu Raju.



MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How much - I mean, how much confidence do you have in the Speaker right now?

REP. Dan Bishop (R-NC): None. Zero. What basis is there for competence? You cannot forfeit the tool of Republican unity. It was not necessary to do.

RAJU: Is the Speaker lying about the way he's characterizing this bill. BISHOP: Yes, he's lying.


KEILAR: And Republican congressman, Dan Bishop, is joining us right now. As we're actually in the middle of a House Rules Committee waiting to see how that is going to turn out, sir. Thanks for your time today. You said today that a motion to oust McCarthy as speaker is on the table. If this debt ceiling deal goes to the floor for a vote, are you going to make good on that threat?

BISHOP: Well, we'll see, Brianna. My - I always work with others. My view is that it's going to have to be done. But the more important thing at hand is the legislation that's before us and I'm working intensively. You mentioned there are a number of us who are House Freedom Caucus members or were - more appropriately were among the 20 in January who were contesting the Speaker's race until we had a brass tacks deal, one wish to go forward and that produced great unity.

But there are other members of the Republican Conference today, Nancy Mace, Cory Mills, Wesley Hunt, Mike Waltz, others who are coming out, saying that this deal cannot be done. The Republican Conference needs to now salvage us from this error before it's too late, raises the debt nobody knows how much for just unlimited increase for two years.

People guess 4 trillion, could be higher, could be five, the American people wouldn't be interested in the trivial and sort of cosmetic fakie little concessions to Republicans that are in there that really don't amount to a hill of beans.

They understand that massive increase in debt that every man woman and child of the United States will have to bear for generations. It just can't be done that way.

KEILAR: But I asked you if you would make good on your threat. We heard you in that clip with Manu calling the Speaker a liar. You are saying that this will be the divining vote of your colleagues' careers. I mean, how would you not - why wait and see? How would you not make good on that threat to can McCarthy if you really do mean that?

BISHOP: It's always interesting, you want to focus on the question of McCarthy's speakership. What's more important is what happens to the American people. That's why I'm focused on the legislation. That's what's important now. At some point in time, the forfeiture of Republican unity, the sort of gross failure to negotiate this competently. It's got to be dealt with, for Republicans to be able to resume that.

But the first thing that can happen is more than half the Republican Conference can vote against this legislation so that we've got a core around which we can reform the Unity. They told us we couldn't pass a plan on the floor with 218 votes, because we're so fractious.

We did that. We've been unified throughout. Only when Kevin goes into negotiate with Joe Biden of all people, does he get his head handed to him and now we've got to clean up from that. It's got to be dealt with.

KEILAR: So I want you to listen to part of what we just heard Speaker McCarthy say we isolated a very important part and here it is.


MCCARTHY: I'm not sure what in the bill, people are concerned about.


KEILAR: You've said it vocally and specifically you said it right here. You've said it before. A number of things. You oppose the IRS money, the things that are not in the bill, the lack of real spending reforms. Why do you think he's ignoring what you and other Republicans are saying, clearly?

BISHOP: You'd have to ask Kevin. I want to correct you on one thing, you said I called Kevin a liar. I said he lied, a little bit of a difference there. I specifically gave the example. He said 1.9 billion of the 80 billion Democrats provided to the IRS was being eliminated to 1.4. But he also said it nixed their hiring of agents for 2023 and we can fight it again next year.

That's false. It doesn't nix anything. They can go forward. It takes 1.4 billion out of that pie of 80 billion and he's told the American people we're fulfilling our obligation which he made priority number one to cut back that IRS money so that we don't have an army of IRS agents eating out the substance of Americans to use the language in the Declaration of Independence.

And so he's - he did - he's misstated it. He hasn't come out and said, I'm sorry, that was a misstatement, but - and the bill is chock - full of those kinds of things, regulatory PAYGO, they call it, to kind of restrain the damaging and costly regulations. Well, it's waivable by the Biden administration. The - yes.

KEILAR: Yes, sir. And I hear you what you're saying about the IRS money. I do want to ask because I just have a limited amount of time here and just to draw our viewers' attention to what we're seeing in the wall here.


This is the rules committee hearing. This is live. This is what's going on and this is key to whether this is going to go to the full floor and key in this vote is going to be Congressman Massie. He may be the dividing - the deciding vote here, the key GOP vote on this rule committee and he did, sir, tell NBC that he will decide whether he votes to move this to the full floor after speaking to his wife. I wonder what you would say to him as he is considering his decision.

BISHOP: Thomas Massie is one of the finest members here. He's an extremely independent minded person. He'll make the decision that he makes. Everybody - respect the decisions that people make. What I want to do is before we get to the point where it's irretrievable, we convince enough Republicans to give this a real hard look and to think about it and to reflect on the fact that - Pramila Jayapal just came out and said she liked it. Somebody else said on behalf of the Biden administration that locks their successes into place, Republicans need to think carefully because this is a career defining vote.

KEILAR: Progressive Democrats to be clear a number of them have big problems with this and a number of them are not going to get behind it just to be just to be very clear about that. There's not some sweeping Democratic support for this. We just need to be clear.

I do want to ask you - and I am - yes, I am fixating on the security of the Speaker's job, because I do think that whether your threat has teeth, is key to the strength of your position. Notably, we heard from Congressman Perry, the head of the Freedom Caucus, he didn't say that the entire group is behind ousting McCarthy if this deal proceeds. He basically told reporters at the press conference, they would need to ask members of the House Freedom Caucus individually, where they stood on that. Is there a split in the Freedom Caucus?

BISHOP: I guess we would have had to have discussed it for - to know whether there was a split or not, Brianna. At this point in time, we haven't had the time to do that, because we are focusing all of our effort on saving Americans from this enormous mistake.

KEILAR: So why not - if - I mean, dispel me of what I just said then is ...

BISHOP: Why are you fascinated by that, Brianna? Isn't the issue of a (inaudible) is the important thing?

KEILAR: I am because isn't it important to your position, I mean, if you're going to have strength in your position as a group, that you do stand firm on this threat.

BISHOP: There's been no lack of firmness in the group of people that I've been with. We need to develop some firmness in the Republican Conference so that they can respond to the problem that we have before us. There's plenty of time to get back to in due course, the subject that you're fascinated by.

But what I'm interested in is dealing with this deal that will pile $32,000 if the $4 trillion numbers, right, $32,000 of debt on the head of every man, woman and child in the United States to go with the 250,000 that's already piled up. That's what's critical.

KEILAR: All right, we're just trying to see where that sentiment is about getting rid of Speaker McCarthy because certainly that's something that factors large in his mind, sir. Congressman, really appreciate your time today. Thank you.

BISHOP: Thank you, Brianna.


SCIUTTO: All fair questions, right, because getting them past the marker initially was not exactly an easy lift. Well, great interview there. Overseas now, Russia's war on Ukraine has entered a new degree of

fighting for the first time the capital cities of both countries under attack at the very same time. There's also the first time civilian areas of Moscow have been targeted since Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine just over a year ago.

The Russian Ministry of Defense says it shot down eight drones over the city. It's blaming Ukraine. This plume of smoke is the aftermath of one of those.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language).


SCIUTTO: So far, thankfully, no deaths reported. There have been some injury reports, drone debris has damaged several buildings there. Russia is blaming Ukraine, as I said, and its interior ministry has issued arrest warrants for two senior Ukrainian commanders. But an adviser to Ukraine's president issued this statement saying, "We enjoy watching and predicting an increase in attacks. But of course, we have nothing to directly do with it," referring to those drone attacks.

In the meantime, Ukraine's capital has been bombarded for days really throughout the war. The 17th aerial assault by Russia just this month.

CNN's Sam Kiley is in eastern Ukraine.

Sam, Vladimir Putin responding to this calling them even I believe something along the lines of terrorist attacks, also claiming some of them were shot down. I wonder when you speak to Ukrainian officials there, they're issuing something of a denial saying no direct involvement.


Is that in your view, a complete denial?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it isn't, is it, Jim. It's an indirect involvement that might be interesting might be something that the Ukrainians have had. They had a very direct indirect, involvement in the Russian citizens that attacked or conducted raids, using Ukrainian weapons and American vehicles given to Ukraine just last week, in Belgorod.

A region which has now been, according to the local authorities there, also attacked with the local government, claiming we can't verify this that one civilian has been killed in Ukrainian shelling in that self same area.

This is part I think, really, of the shaping operations that are going on the head of the Ukrainian counter offensive, but clearly attacks in Moscow are going to seriously rattle the system. It's quite striking. If we listen to Vladimir Putin, he could be quoting Zelenskyy who's been making similar statements about the attacks on his capital, take a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through interpreter): Kyiv chose the path of intimidation of Russian citizens and attacks on residential buildings. It is a clear sign of terrorist activity. The Moscow air defense system worked satisfactorily, however, there is still work to be done to make it better.


KILEY: Now, one person killed in Kyiv, a 33-year-old woman by the - as a consequence of the effective use of air defensive in Kyiv with missile being shot down unfortunately, killing one person. So you see, we now have got a tit for tat in both countries.

I think the difference really being that not since the beginning of this war, has anybody in Moscow been made to feel unsafe, no Russian - that deep into Russian territory could have imagined that Ukraine indirectly was capable of reaching the Russian capital, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, and we should note CNN's reporting that there is at least a low confidence assessment from the U.S. that Ukraine was behind that drone attack on the Kremlin some weeks ago. Sam Kiley in eastern Ukraine, as always, thanks very much. Boris.

SANCHEZ: Still to come on CNN NEWS CENTRAL, Russia's most famous and perhaps cutest potential spy spotted off the coast of Norway. Government officials now warning people to stay away for the whales own good. We're going to tell you where the beluga is headed, and why experts are convinced it is on Putin's payroll.

Plus, anger in Iowa. Families pleading for officials to search for their loved ones in the rubble of a partially collapsed apartment building. We're learning five people are still unaccounted for. And it looks like a crab and a cockroach had a baby and it's said tastes like lobster. Meet the 14 legged crustacean making waves among foodies. Would you take a bite?



KEILAR: Is there a former Russian spy lurking off the coast of Sweden? Well, maybe. He's incredibly large. He's bright white. He is very friendly. He's downright cute if I don't say so myself.

And CNN's Melissa Bell is following the story for us.

Melissa, this is a beluga whale to be clear. And he was first spotted back in 2019 and now he's on the move. What can you tell us?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. An alleged Russian spy, Brianna, and the beluga whale first spotted in 2019 off the coast of Norway already far from home if that indeed is what he was. And he was found to be wearing a harness on which you can mount a camera which had the inscription equipment of St. Petersburg on it which led to the speculation that he may have been part of some marine mammal program aimed at spying or demining in the Arctic Sea.

Now what's happening is that he's heading south far from heading northwards to where he might find other beluga whales. He's been heading southwards all the way to the coast of Sweden. And that's what people are extremely worried about, not just that he's heading to waters that are probably too warm for him, but also that he is simply too friendly and could get himself in trouble.

He's, of course, as he's gone, Brianna, been capturing the hearts of Scandinavians who nicknamed him "Hvaldimir," which is a contraction of the name for whale in Norwegian. And Vladimir, of course, a suggestion that he may indeed come from Russia. So very close attention being kept placed on this whale and its survival at this stage, when no one really knowing how they can go best about protecting him from himself and his friendliness, Brianna.

KEILAR: The thing about this "Hvaldimir" is that it's brought to light something that actually has been going on for some time, which is marine mammals being used for military purposes. This isn't actually new, Melissa.

BELL: That's right. And it sound may sound like science fiction, of course, it's not. You go back to the Cold War, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union had these types of programs. And even today, the United States Navy continues to use sea lions and dolphins, essentially. These animals are extremely good at detecting sounds and therefore useful in for instance, demining operations and they're still being used by Russia today.

In fact, it was just after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 that the - that Moscow announced that it was not just confiscating, annexing Crimea, but also Ukraine's combat dolphin program. And in fact, what Maxar images showed just after the invasion of Ukraine last year, were these dolphin pens that appeared to have been set up just off of what is the largest Russian naval base in the Black Sea.


That, of course, lends weight to the credibility of the theory that this might also be a marine mammal that escaped from one of these pens this time in Russia's Arctic. What no one can understand and experts are divided on this is whether he's headed that far south because he's looking for a mate or simply because this whale is lonely and looking for human attention which at this stage he appears to be getting,, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yeah, he's just looking for a friend. But we hope that he stays safe as he goes looking for that.

Melissa Bell, thank you for the report. Boris?

SANCHEZ: It is yet another sign of how cooled relations are right now between the United States and China. Beijing is rejecting a proposal for Defense Secretary Austin Lloyd or rather Lloyd Austin to meet with his Chinese counterpart at an upcoming security conference in Singapore.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon for us.

Oren, what is this all about?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Boris, this goes back to essentially how China signifies or signals rather its displeasure. And we've seen them do this before, cutting off different levels of communication, when they are angry about something. A good example would be, for example, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi his visit to Taiwan last summer.

Right after that visit, China cut off a number of different levels of dialogue, including military to military, as well as important conversations about climate that was their way of signaling anger and this looks to be an extension of that.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was trying to set up a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Minister of National Defense, Li Shangfu, who's been in a position for a few months now, but there hasn't been any real dialogue or communication between Austin and Li Shangfu.

So this would have been a good opportunity to do that at the Shangri- La Dialogue in Singapore and the U.S. had reached out to do that. But after not responding to the US for some time, China rejected that. They're still essentially what looks like very angry about the fact that Li Xiang fu is under U.S. sanctions since 2018 for dealing arms to Russia.

Boris, they want those sanctions lifted. The US position is that they can have the meeting even with those sanctions.

SANCHEZ: Yes. A difficult chapter in relations between those two nations.

Oren Liebermann from the Pentagon, thank you so much. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, officials say at least five people remain unaccounted for after an apartment collapse in Iowa. Some family members convinced their loved ones are still inside. We have the latest on the search there.