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CNN International: Biden Optimistic About Productive Debt Ceiling Talks; U.S. Reports Fewer Migrant Encounters at Border; Zelenskyy Arrives in the U.K. for Talks with British Prime Minister Sunak; Presidential Race in Turkey Likely Headed for Runoff; Ceasefire Between Israel and Islamic Jihad Appears to Hold. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 15, 2023 - 04:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Bianca Nobilo.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Max Foster joining you live from London. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's likely meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday, setting up another showdown over the debt limit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shouldn't be here. We shouldn't be paying the American people's bills day-by-day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States border patrol has experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a Democrat or Republican problem. This is an American problem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Master of the optics. The optics of him standing with all of these European leaders. Ukraine taking its place in the European bloc.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM. With Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: It is Monday, May the 15th. 9:00 a.m. here in the U.K. where Ukraine's President Zelenskyy is meeting with the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Mr. Zelenskyy is fresh off a weekend with stops at European capitals to meet with other key allies.

NOBILO: France and Germany publicly pledged additional military aid for Ukraine's war against Russia. And Prime Minister Sunak also the same. The U.K.'s package will include air defense missiles and new attack drones with a range of more 200 kilometers. For more on this story, we're joined by Clare Sebastian. Clare, I mean, we gave our viewers a hint of what the objective of this trip have been. But what are the key priorities to take away from this visit?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, I think obviously, the weapons is the key thing. He came off a really big pledge from Germany, $3 billion package was promised over the weekend including another 30 Leopard tanks. France is sending more armored vehicles. And now we have the U.K. with this air defense systems, and adequate missiles and attack drones.

So, clearly, look, they're heading into this counteroffensive. The statement from Downing Street literally says that this is coming as Ukraine prepares for an intense period of military activity. So, they're trying to step up support so that Ukraine has what it needs.

There was an interesting part of the statement though, there's been a slight shift in planning when it comes to fighter jets -- western- style fighter jets like F-16s. The last time that Rishi Sunak pledged arms was the U.K. in February. The U.K. was very clear that it was going to train. It came out and said we're going to train fighter pilots. That this is about Ukraine's long-term capabilities. Now we have a statement saying they're going to start an elementary flying place for a cohort of Ukrainian pilots this summer. This training, the statement says, goes hand in hand with U.K. efforts to work with other countries in providing F-16 jets. Ukraine's fighter jets of choice.

So, it looks like the U.K. is stepping up pressure. It is the country that likes to come out in front with these things. And I think for Zelenskyy, this is also really clearly about optics. He has done this all along. He wants to be seen as taking his place among these NATO countries, among these EU countries, and of course, this is coming ahead of a G7 Summit this week, the really important NATO Summit in July. So, I think that's part of it as well.

FOSTER: And in terms of the counteroffensive -- obviously we don't know exactly when it's going to be -- but is there any sense that we'll get to a position soon where he's confident enough to go in?

SEBASTIAN: Well, he did say over the weekend that the first important steps will be happening soon. They're obviously going to be very cagey with the earlier announcements or details about this. We're also seeing that Ukraine is having some incremental success around Bakhmut. Just a few weeks ago it seemed like Russia had the upper hand.

We're hearing this morning from the commander of the land forces there that they have seen the first success in the defense of Bakhmut. The way he put it, a partial success. And the deputy defense minister says Ukraine has been advancing for several days although against all of the odds. Which says Russia isn't changing its goals and they been moving air assault units to the outskirts of Bakhmut. So, it looks like things are sort of edging on Ukraine's side over there but still extremely difficult.

NOBILO: Is there a concern in Ukraine about war fatigue setting in for European partners, NATO allies, such as the U.S.? Is that also what this trip is about?

SEBASTIAN: You know, I think that Zelenskyy is probably keenly aware of that. And that is why these optics matter. Obviously, this -- since 2014, this has been about Ukraine's desires to be part of Europe.


So, he is in a sense bringing that to some degree to fruition for his people with these meetings. And he's grown in confidence in order to do this. In order for the first having nine or ten months of the war, he didn't actually leave Ukraine once. And then had that, you know, big trip to the U.S. in December. The European tour in February and now in the second tour. I think you can see him, that was in Berlin on Sunday. But that's why these optics matter. Because they matter for the Ukrainian people who want this to be the result. And of course, it matters to Moscow who is not going to be happy to see him in all of the capitals.

NOBILO: Clare Sebastian, thank you so much. We'll keep you around as we may get more information about this meeting.

FOSTER: Talks between President Biden and Congressional leaders are expected to resume on Tuesday as a nation inches closer to defaulting on trillions of dollars of debt.

NOBILO: Talks between the White House and Congress have caused tempers to flare, but now sources tell CNN that the temperature could be just right for bargaining.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I learned a long time ago -- and you know as well as I do -- it's never as good to characterize a negotiation in the middle of a negotiation. I remain optimistic because I'm an congenital optimist. I really think there is a desire on their part, as well as ours, to reach an agreement. And I think we'll be able to do it.


NOBILO: Despite the president's sunny outlook, economic experts predict fears about a potential default could be reflected in the markets. One of the president's top advisers says Congress needs a long-term solution to the problem, not a band aid.


LAEL BRAINARD, ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: When I talk to CEOs, to business leaders around the country, they tell me things are actually going very well. But their biggest concern is that Congress might fail to prevent default. And that that would be catastrophic. Our expectation is that Congress will act to avert default in a timely manner.


FOSTER: Now with tightly packed schedules for the president and limited time for Congress to act, negotiations may run out the clock. CNN's Alayna Treene has more from Washington.


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: This is a hugely consequential week for these debt limit negotiations. Senior staff for Congressional leadership and the White House have been meeting daily. And I am told that modest progress has been made. But there is still no deal yet. The two sides remain far apart but they have begun to identify key policy area where they could find common ground.

Some of these topics include looking at permitting reform. Resending unspent COVID relief refunds as well as looking at some spending cuts. Not the Biden administration has repeatedly said that spending cuts should not be part of a potential deal. But I am told increasingly that people in the West Wing recognize that something they'll likely have to cave on.

I did speak with one source close to the negotiations and the told me that if the talks were taking place in February, months ago, they'd be bullish about the prospect for deal. But the reality is they don't have months to negotiate. We are 2 1/2 weeks away from June 1st. And that is the deadline that the Treasury Department that the government could default on its debt. It's also a timeline that was backed up by the Congressional Budget Office on Friday which predicted that a default is likely within the first two weeks of June. The Deputy Treasure Secretary Wally Adeyemo was on CNN this Sunday, warning about the perils to failing to reach a deal. Let's listen to what he had to say.

WALLY ADEYEMO, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: The president made very clear that the speaker in their first meeting that he's happy to talk about a fiscal path forward. The president has laid out a plan, that includes $3 trillion of debt relief over 10 years. And he's happy to the speaker about things that we can do to implement the plan and to make sure we are able to meet our commitments to our seniors, to our troops and to the men and women and the American people. But we shouldn't be here. We shouldn't be paying the American people's bills day by day with the idea that we would have a debt limit default if Congress didn't lift the debt limit.

TREENE: Now we'll see the talks continue this week. The president and the top four congressional leaders are expected to meet again in the coming days. But the reality is, they likely need to have a deal in hand within the next week in order to get a bill through Congress by June 1. Remember, Congress moves very slowly. Once they have a deal, they still need to draft a bill, sell it to both the House and Senate and then try to get enough support to pass. And then that is a huge obstacle to overcome, especially in the short time frame that they have.

But so far, leaders of both ends on Pennsylvania Avenue are remaining hopeful that they can reach a deal in time and avoid the first ever government default.

Alayna Treene, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: As lawmakers scramble to resolve a debt crisis, a Senate committee will be holding three hearings this week centered around the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and signature Bank. The hearings will take place from Tuesday through to Thursday and top executives from both banks are expected to testify. Since the banks collapse in March, federal regulators have released reports details management missteps at the two lenders.

NOBILO: Lawmakers are also worried about the rising threat of artificial intelligence.


So, they've called on OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, to testify with other experts on Tuesday about central dangers, and safeguards to put in place. Altman's company created the famous chat bot ChatGPT. He'll speak alongside critics and champions of the AI movement. Senator Richard Blumenthal says that it's their committee's job to oversee and illuminate the use of AI.

FOSTER: A lot of questions to be asked.

NOBILO: It is really the issue of our time.

FOSTER: It is and getting ahead of it before everyone's using it -- hopefully.

NOBILO: And often government regulation is just quite behind the speed of technology advancing.

FOSTER: The expiration of the Trump era border restriction policy known as Title 42 has brought fewer migrant arrivals than expected for now. According to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. border authorities saw a 50 percent drop in the number of migrants encounters.

NOBILO: That's compared to earlier in the week when they were encountering almost 10,000 migrants per day while Title 42 was still in effect. Mayorkas also said that it's too soon to tell whether the migrant surge has peaked. CNN's Arlette Saenz has more on this story.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden told reporters that things at the border are going better than expected. And he acknowledged that numbers have gone down when it comes to the number of encounters on the border. And said that he hopes they ultimately will continue trending that way. But he also argued there is still much more work to do and that includes Congress acting on comprehensive immigration reform. Something that we've not seen any tangible movement towards in recent months.

But what you've heard from the administration today is them really defending their policies and also arguing that the policies and plans that they put in place for months and the warnings that they've been sending out to migrants that has led to these lower encounters at the border. Take a listen to what Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on CNN.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We have communicated very clearly, a vitally important message to the individuals who are thinking of arriving at our southern border. There is a lawful, safe and orderly way to arrive in the United States that is through the pathways that President Biden has expanded in an unprecedented way. And then there's a consequence if one does not use those lawful pathways.

SAENZ: Now, Mayorkas also said it's too early to say whether there has been a peak yet in the surge of migrants. But of course, there are other challenges facing this administration amid them lifting of Title 42, including capacity out issues at those CDP facilities.

Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.


FOSTER: Cities and small towns along the U.S. southern border have to deal with the influx of migrants every day. Listen to how the mayors of two of those cities are reacting to the crisis.


VICTOR TREVINO, LAREDO, TEXAS MAYOR: This not a Democrat or Republican problem. This is an American problem. And we need to do a better job overall as a country and the leader of the free world. And for that reason, in realtime, it's better for the border patrol to be in contact with border management, working on the front lines all the time. But overall, I think the border patrol have been doing a good job along with our NGOs.

OSCAR LEESER, EL PASO, TEXAS MAYOR: We are prepared. We're ready to move forward and, you know, Secretary Mayorkas and the Biden administration has been a big help to our community because we couldn't do it on our own.


NOBILO: Donald Trump could be running for president against one of this former cabinet secretaries. On Sunday, Rick Perry teased a possible White House bid in 2024.

FOSTER: The former energy secretary unsuccessfully ran for president in 2012 and 2016. He's declined to say whether he supports Trump's campaign, adding that he's still pondering the idea of running himself.


RICK PERRY, FORMER U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: Listen, it's early in the process. I think for any of us to sit back and say I'm for this person or that person is a little early in my process, you know. It certainly is something that I haven't taken off the table. But, you know, the chances of it happening are probably a little bit slim. But who knows. There's a lot of time left and we'll see how this all works out. (END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Turkey's hotly contested presidential election is very likely heading to a second round of voting with nearly all results tallied. No candidate has reached a 50 percent threshold required to win outright.

NOBILO: State run news reports that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leads with just over 49.4 percent of the vote while Kemal Kilicdaroglu has just under 45 percent. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has more from Istanbul.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the polls predicted, this is turning out to be a very, very tight race. Ballot counting is continuing into the early hours of Monday. And so far, it doesn't seem that either of the candidates has been able to achieve that 50 plus 1 percent threshold that is needed to win the presidency.


This is President Erdogan's toughest election he has faced in his 20 years of being -- in leading the country. We heard from President Erdogan tonight coming out, addressing his people, addressing his supporters in an appearance on the balcony of his headquarter -- the headquarters of his party in the capital Ankara. That's usually where he delivers his victory speech.

And tonight, he came out and he said that he felt he needed to come out and speak to the people from that same balcony saying that while there are no official preliminary results out yet and that the vote counting is continuing, he did sound confident saying that he believes that they are in the lead. But at the same time, accepting the possibility that this is headed towards a second round.

We also heard from the oppositions candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu also coming out and saying that they are ready for a runoff if this is what the Turkish people have decided.

Now, here outside the headquarters of President Erdogan's AK Party in Istanbul, we have seen his supporters turning out all night saying that they are here to show their support for President Erdogan and if this is headed towards the second round, they are going to continue supporting him.

They know that this has been a very tough election for him and they believe that this is the man who represents them, who they want to represent Turkey and continue to lead the country. They believe that he has transformed this country into a regional power -- a power on the world stage. And they want to continue on that path.

On the other side, you've got the opposition that has been promising people change, promising to unseat President Erdogan who they say has turned this into an autocratic country. And they are promising to reverse its policies and take this country back to a parliamentary and a real democratic system.

And as we are seeing these results coming out, you can see it reflects the divisions in this country and you can see what a polarized country this is. The one thing everyone agrees on is this is the most consequential election in the modern history of this country. And this is not just about the next five years, they would tell you, this is about the future direction of this country.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


FOSTER: A 78-year-old American citizen has been sentenced in a Chinese court to life in prison on spying charges. John Shing-Wan Leung who's also a Hong Kong permanent resident, was detained in April 2021. Authorities haven't provided any details on his charges or the court process that led to his conviction. In China, cases involving state security are usually handled behind closed doors.

Driving was dangerous, if not impossible in St. Louis, after up to six inches of rain fell in the city. The fire department responded to at least 15 calls from drivers who were trapped in their flooded cars.

NOBILO: The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for nearly half a million people in St. Louis and parts of Illinois. So far there are no reports of any injuries.

Record breaking hot weather has been baking the Pacific Northwest. Temperatures in Oregon, Washington state and parts of California will continue to be unseasonably warm until late Monday.

FOSTER: Eugene, Oregon, hit 94 degrees on Sunday, breaking a record that has stood since 1939. Seattle hit 89 degrees breaking a 2018 record. Heat advisories are in effect for more than 5 million people across the region until the end of Monday.

Now still to come, residents in Gaza are picking up the pieces as a fragile cease-fire is holding after days of violence. But can this peace be a lasting one? We'll head to Jerusalem for an update.

NOBILO: Plus, NBA star Ja Morant is suspended from Memphis Grizzlies once again after appearing to flash a gun on social media.

FOSTER: And later, if you're traveling in the U.S. in the coming weeks brace yourself because the summer season is shaping up to be one of the busiest in years.





(END VIDEO CLIP) NOBILO: Church bells and a moment of silence at a memorial in Buffalo New York, on Sunday, marking one year since ten people were killed in a racist attack at a grocery store. All of the victims were Black. Speaking to CNN on Sunday, the mayor of Buffalo praised some of the victims' families and survivors for fighting against white supremacy and fighting for gun reform.


BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK MAYOR: The way you have stood up, spoken up, the way you have represented your families, yourselves, our community, has been nothing short of amazing.


FOSTER: The families of three victims of the mass shooting filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Friday against several social media companies. The suit alleges the gunman was motivated by racist, antisemitic and white supremacist propaganda that he consumed on social media. In response, some of those companies have said they have tolerance for hate speech and actively work to identify and remove extremist content.

NOBILO: Police in Arizona are investigating a fatal shooting that left two people dead and five wounded including teenagers. It happened Saturday night in a gathering in a residential area in Yuma.


FOSTER: Officers found several gunshot victims who were all male. Their ages range from 15 to 20 years old. The suspect hasn't yet been taken into custody.

The NBA is reviewing the suspension of Memphis Grizzly star player Ja Morant. The 23-year-old was suspended by the Grizzlies after another video surfaces in which he appears to be displaying a gun. The video was streamed on Instagram and shows Morant flashing the weapon whilst in a car. CNN has reached out to Morant's representative, the Grizzlies and the NBA for comment.

NOBILO: Morant just recently served an eight-game suspension for a separate social media incident involving him holding a gun at a bar.

FOSTER: Now life in Gaza appears to be returning to normal as a fragile truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad group is holding for now. It comes after five days of intense fighting. 33 Palestinians were killed in Gaza. Most of whom Israel said were Islamic Jihad militants and two people, one is Israeli and one Palestinian were killed in Israel by Islamic Jihad's rocket fire.

NOBILO: Israel says Islamic Jihad launched nearly 1,500 rockets towards them last week. It was the third conflict in as many years between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

FOSTER: And let's go to CNN's Hadas Gold live in Jerusalem. So, we get to see some calm. Will it hold do you think? HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: That's a big question is,

will this hold? And really, guys, the bigger question is when will this happen again? Because really what we saw in the past few days has not really changed the situation.

I should note that last night there was one rocket fired from Gaza into Israel. And Israel responded by shelling what it said one militant outpost along the border. There were no injuries reported on either side. It was sort of a brief break in the cease-fire that had been holding for about 24 hours.

And a security source in Gaza telling the CNN team there that this was a malfunction. And it seemed to have been an one-off and a cease-fire does appear to be holding and life is returning back to normal. This after nearly 1,500 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel and several days of Israeli air strikes that killed more than 30 Palestinians in Gaza. Israeli military saying most of them were Islamic Jihad militants.

But we know of at least 12 civilians were also killed. Two people killed in Israel were killed as a result of rocket fire. One of them an Israeli woman and one of them actually as fate would have it, a Palestinian from Gaza who happen to be in Israel working at the time of this rocket fire. He was killed, his brother is still injured and in hospital.

But at the end of the day, we are in the same situation now as we were a week ago, before this started. Really, nothing has changed on the ground. And even Israeli military officials that CNN has spoken to have admitted as such.

Now while the Israeli military sees this as a tactical success, they say they wiped outside something like 11 senior commanders of the Islamic Jihad. They say they targeted more than 400 Islamic Jihad targets in the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad is still standing. They're still there. For the people of Gaza, the blockade still exists. Their life is essentially returning to what it was before.

For the Israeli civilians who live in the south, the threat of rocket fire still very much exists there as was before. And Hamas, the military group that runs Gaza essentially almost got the best of both worlds. Because they express support for Islamic Jihad in what they were doing. They supported this armed resistance. But they themselves were not targeted by the Israeli military. And they were essentially able to stay out of it and keep their hands clean.

And the question for right now is, when will this happen again. Because these militant groups in Gaza still have arsenals. They still express the same feelings towards Israel. Israel still says it has the same modus operandi towards Gaza if any sort of rockets are fired again. And so, it's just sort of this endless cycle and hasn't really changed the situation on the ground.

But what has changed interestingly, is in Israel, the political situation has changed. Because before this last round of fighting, part of the right-wing flank of Benjamin Netanyahu government actually had been boycotting votes in the Israeli Parliament, because they believe that Israel security response to what happened in Gaza was weak. That party is now back in, and Benjamin Netanyahu's poll numbers, they are up after the latest military operation. So, while things on the ground are sort of in terms of civilian life -- who often suffer the most in all of this -- has not changed. Politically at least, it does seem to have some sort of effect, and Benjamin Netanyahu in the polls at least in the polls is doing a little bit better -- Guys.

FOSTER: OK, Hadas Gold in Jerusalem. Thank you very much indeed.

NOBILO: Inflation isn't expected to stop many Americans from traveling this coming summer. In fact, forecast predict it could be one for the record books.

FOSTER: Also ahead, more moms are leaving the workforce because childcare costs are just too high. But there's a movement to change that.