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Biden And McCarthy To Meet Tomorrow On Debt Crisis; Interview With Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) About Debt Ceiling Debate; Interview With Governor Tim Walz (D-MN) About The State's New Gun Laws; SpaceX, Axiom Launch Groundbreaking Flight To ISS; Paul Whelan, American Detained In Russia Speaks To CNN; Wall Street Anxiously Waiting For Debt Ceiling Deal. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 21, 2023 - 19:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Atlanta.

We begin this hour with high stakes negotiations starting back up on the nation's looming debt crisis. Just minutes ago talks resumed on the staff level in Washington. But they will set the stage for a top level meeting tomorrow. President Biden is expected to sit down with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The two men spoke by phone earlier today as the president was flying back home from the G7 Summit in Japan.

This new glimmer of optimism, if it's real, comes as the prospect of a quick compromise appears increasingly bleak. Just a reminder, the Treasury Department says the U.S. could run out of money to pay its debts as early as June 1st. Experts say that would be disastrous not only for the U.S. economy, but the global economy.

Let's go to the White House and CNN's White House correspondent Arlette Saenz.

Arlette, what are they saying over there right now?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, President Biden returns this evening to a Washington that is much the same as when he left it, without any clear resolution in sight to avert a national default on the debts as early as 11 days from now.

Now, one thing that the two sides are doing right now is talking. Those negotiators have been up on Capitol Hill for about the past hour meeting to try to hammer out some of these very real differences that we've seen from both sides. This follows after that phone call President Biden held with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy today as he traveled back to the U.S. from Japan.

Now McCarthy said that that call was productive but the White House has not offered any insight into how they believe that call was carried out. But earlier today the president did issue a very stark warning about the potential of default and he said that Republicans need to come off of positions that he described as extreme and said that this needs to be a bipartisan deal with Republicans also willing to make some concessions.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now it's time for the other side to move from their extreme positions because much of what they've already proposed is simply quite frankly unacceptable. It is time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal to be made solely, solely on their partisan terms. They have to move as well.


SAENZ: Now, one of the key sticking points sources have told us about is the issue regarding spending levels. Republicans want spending levels to revert back to fiscal year 2022 levels while the White House has proposed freezing those spending levels at the current fiscal year 2023.

Additionally, the White House has been trying to raise the issue of raising revenue in order to lower the deficit. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has insisted there will be no new taxes but President Biden in his press conference earlier today did say that he believes revenue is on the table.

Now some of the areas for compromise are around clawing back COVID relief funds and also permitting reforms. But bottom line here, these two leaders, President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will once again come face-to-face here tomorrow with this -- heading into this incredibly high stakes week as Secretary Yellen of the Treasury once again said today that she does believe that June 1st could be the earliest the U.S. could default on its debts, which could send the economy into a tail spin.

ACOSTA: All right. Arlette Saenz, over at the White House for us, thanks so much.

As President Biden floats the idea of using the 14th Amendment to pay off U.S. debts without congressional approval, he has the backing of several Democratic senators along with some House Democrats who think it's a potential off-ramp out of the debt ceiling crisis. Here's what he said earlier today.


BIDEN: I'm looking at the 14th Amendment as to whether or not we have the authority. I think we have the authority. The question is, could it be done and invoked in time that it could not -- would not be appealed and as a consequence past the date in question, and still default on the debt? That's a question that I think is unresolved.


ACOSTA: Joining us now to talk about it is Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen.

Congressman, thank so much for being with us. You know, the Constitution as we know, it says that the 14th Amendment granted citizenship to formerly enslaved people but there is this Section Four of the 14th Amendment that I guess is very important now.


It says the validity of the public debt authorized by law shall not be questioned. Some legal scholars say that could apply to the debt limit. What's your view on this? Should the president go down this road sooner rather than later in part because as he was saying a few moments ago, there would be a legal process that might play out?

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): I'm sure there'll be a legal process that would play out. But I always go with Lawrence Tribe. He's my expert. I think he's considered one of the finest attorneys and legal minds in this country on constitutional issues and others. And he believes it's a valid clause that needs to be foremost in the president's mind, and that we won't have to make a deal and the whole debt ceiling is irrelevant.

The Constitution said you have to honor the debt. So I think it's an ace in the hole for the president. I think he'd like to negotiate and he'd like to be able to show he could work together with the Republicans. It's going to be difficult. McCarthy has got to work with George Santos and who knows who he is or what he thinks. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, they're about as closely tied to reality as Santos is.

So he's got a whole bunch of those people to deal with. And it could result in the end of his speakership. So it's going to be difficult for President Biden to negotiate with somebody who has those types of legislative terrorists on their team and the 14th Amendment is an ace in the hole.

ACOSTA: Is it too Pollyannish to think that the speaker might at some point get to a point where he'll have to just work with Democrats and bring some moderate Republicans along with him to get out of this debt crisis, or is it your sense that that's just not in the cards, it's not going to happen, not realistic?

COHEN: That's not realistic with this speaker or with this House of Representatives. If that would happen, they would certainly recall him and they'd elect a new speaker and McCarthy does not want to be the shortest serving speaker in history.

ACOSTA: Let me ask you about this remark that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made a couple of weeks ago when she was asked if the president could invoke the 14th Amendment. This is what she said.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: All I want to say is that it's Congress's job to do this. If they failed to do it, we will have an economic and financial catastrophe that will be of our own making. And there is no action that President Biden and the U.S. Treasury can take to prevent that catastrophe.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Now there have been some warnings that using the 14th Amendment would risk some kind of constitutional crisis. In addition to a financial crisis, that might be unfurling as a result of crashing into the debt ceiling. Is that something that you think that the country should take a risk on?

COHEN: Well, I think if the Republicans don't come to the table with a reasonable proposal, President Biden would have to. And I don't think McCarthy is going to get to that. I mean, the permitting is something they could work on and the COVID money is certainly something they could work on. I doubt he's going to have any taxes -- I mean, the Republican mantra is no taxes and no fewer guns in America. So he's not going to come up with any more taxes revenue and that is a shame.

But he may want to have work permits or requirements on people to get public benefits and that's going to be difficult for a lot of the folks on the Democratic side to swallow. There might be some other issues that will be difficult as well. But President Biden is going to have to be satisfied and he's going to have to get together the votes to make it passed, and it's going to be difficult. I don't think McCarthy has the votes either.

I think we're in a difficult situation because of the Tea Party. And it's not just those three that are not tethered to reality. There are more on that side that aren't tethered to reality. There are 60 or 70 of them voted not to approve either Pennsylvania or Arizona's presidential electors, and yet over 60 judges appointed by Trump, Clinton, Bush, Obama, et cetera, all said that there was no problems with the election and that those were the proper electors.

And yet they voted to override our Constitution, and really sometimes when I'm in the House, I think of the fact that I'm in a crime scene. And that some of the people I serve with were insurrectionists and they were willing to take the government down, trying to keep Trump in office. Trump says default because it will hurt Biden. That's what Trump is thinking. He didn't default and the Republicans didn't default when he was president, but now they want to do it to Biden and the Democrats.

This is all politics. They don't care about the country. They don't care about our fiscal future and our fiscal condition.

ACOSTA: Congressman, given what you just said there, about some tough talk about your Republican counterparts, it sounds like you are very pessimistic that this is going to get solved and that -- that this debt default is going to take place. I mean, how do you get out of the woods when you describe a situation that you just described there?

COHEN: Well, the 14th Amendment is in play, you don't default. The president just continues to pay the debts of the United States because that's his job as the administrator, as the president, and as the Constitution gives him that authority. Now they could go to the courts, we'll see what the Supreme Court says.

[19:10:03] The Supreme Court should say it's a political question that they're not getting into it. But they got into Bush v. Gore and they may get into this as well.

ACOSTA: Has anybody explained how it would work? How the 14th Amendment would work? Would the president just send a memo over to the Treasury Department and say, under the 14th Amendment I'm telling you to pay these bills?

COHEN: I suspect something like that. But I'm sure they talked to attorneys. Merrick Garland has -- could give him good counsel, and he's got attorneys that give him counsel, and Lawrence Tribe could be called in. I mean, he's kind of, you know, he's the pro from Dover.

ACOSTA: All right. Congressman Steve Cohen, thanks very much. We'll see how it plays out over these next 10 or 11 days. Thanks for your time.

COHEN: Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Now to a CNN exclusive. Paul Whelan, an American detained in Russia since 2018 is speaking out from prison in a new phone call today with CNN.

CNN's Jennifer Hansler who did that interview joins me now.

Jennifer, how is Whelan doing? What can you tell us?

JENNIFER HANSLER, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, Paul Whelan told me he is feeling positive and confident that the wheels are turning on his case, that the U.S. is working to secure his release. But he wishes that that process would play out a lot faster.

The last time I spoke with Whelan was back in December. It was right after Brittney Griner had been released, and he was very disappointed that he had been left behind in the prisoner swap that brought Brittney Griner home. It was the second time that the U.S. had secured the release of wrongfully detained American last year, the other was Trevor Reed, also in a prisoner swap. U.S. officials have said Russia would not include Paul Whelan in those prisoner swaps.

But when I spoke with Paul Whelan today, he seemed a lot more positive, and he said he was confident that the U.S. was treating his case as a priority. Here, take a listen to what he told me how about he was feeling.


PAUL WHELAN, AMERICAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA: I feel that my life shouldn't be considered less valuable or important than others who have been previously traded. And I think there are people in D.C. that feel the same way and they're moving towards a compromise and resolution to this as quickly as they can. There will be an end to this and that end I hope is coming sooner than later. But it is depressing on a daily basis, you know, going through this.


HANSLER: And now, Jim, as you heard in that clip, it is also just very difficult for Paul Whelan to be living in that prison camp day-to-day. He is out in a remote part of Russia called Mordovia, and he has been detained by Russia for more than four years now.

ACOSTA: And Jennifer, I understand Paul Whelan was aware of some of these outside reports about his case. What has he been able to see from prison? I mean, it's kind of remarkable that he would be aware of all of this coverage about what he's been going through.

HANSLER: Yes, Jim, it was very interesting because he said that he was actually able to watch from his prison with some of his fellow prisoners his sister's speech before a U.N. Security Council meeting that was chaired by the Russian Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov. In that speech Elizabeth Whelan called for the Russians to release her brother immediately.

Paul Whelan also said he was able to watch parts of President Biden's speech to the White House Correspondents' Dinner. In that speech the U.S. president called for the release of wrongfully detained Americans around the world including Paul. And he said he thinks that the Russians are showing these clips because they can use them as propaganda to show the U.S., as quote, "begging for one of their own."

But for Paul himself, this is a real boost to his moral, it's a boost to his confidence that the U.S. is working to bring him home. Take a listen to what he said about this.


WHELAN: The public displays and events such as, you know, the press corps dinner and the U.N. visit, demonstrate to not just me, you know, privately, but to the world, that our leaders are impacted by this and they do want me back. And they are working to try to get me home. And if you consider all of the people and all of the agencies in my four countries that are working on this, it's incredible. And I think they're going to get it done.


HANSLER: And now, Jim, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the U.S. has put forward a proposal to the Russians to free Paul Whelan but the Russians have yet to engage on that proposal -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Jennifer Hansler, thank you very much for that.

And Paul Whelan's brother David Whelan will be joining me later on this hour so stay tuned for that.

Jennifer, thanks very much for your reporting. We appreciate it.

Coming up, expanding background checks and strengthening red flag laws. How Minnesota is tackling gun violence. The state's Governor Tim Walz joins me live next. And later.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, four, three, two, one. Engine's full power. And liftoff Falcon 9. Go Axiom.


ACOSTA: The successful space launch for a private mission to the International Space Station. It was an amazing moment. We'll look back on what took place down at the Kennedy Space Center in just a few moments.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Minnesota is now is the latest state to require background checks for purchasing a firearm. Gun reform advocates including former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords joined Democratic governor of Minnesota Tim Walz on Friday as he signed two gun safety bills into law. The new policies include a red flag law that would temporarily remove firearms from someone considered a danger to themselves or others.

It also includes universal background checks even for private gun sales except for hunting rifles. And Governor Walls joins us now.

Governor, thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate it. What are you hoping in terms of the impact of these laws and what it will do for bringing gun safety to your state?

GOV. TIM WALZ (D), MINNESOTA: Well, I think we all know, Jim, we've seen it across the country, Newton to Uvalde, and it goes on and on every single day. And we know that there are things like these two pieces of legislation make a difference. And so if we make an impact on one of these shootings or if we get the firearms out of the hands of someone who was going to commit suicide, which we know especially for men is what they will do.


That's a win. And these things have nothing to do with a threat to the Second Amendment. This is totally about safety of our children and our citizens, and as a 24-year veteran and a lifelong hunter and gun owner, I'm not impacted negatively at all on this. And I think we need to take that narrative back. Responsible gun owners that do believe that you can have them responsibly. We need to lean into it. So I'm just proud that Minnesota were finally able to do it.

ACOSTA: And are you, I guess, expecting any legal challenges to these policies that you're putting into place? I mean, I think you would have to assume that the folks over at the NRA are going to try to challenge this in the courts. Are you prepared for that fight? How might that play out for you?

WALZ: Yes, we are. We've seen this happen in other states but these are rock solid. We know that people have the rights to use the judicial branch and law enforcement to use the tools to take these away at the short time but you petition and can get them back. And we've heard countless stories of families who are incredibly grateful that their loved one got the help they needed, got over the crisis they were at, and then got those firearms back.

The bottom line is 80 percent of Minnesotans agree with this. The only reason it hasn't been done decades ago as it should have been is we didn't have control of the state's Senate. Last year's election in November changed everything. So here in Minnesota, we saw, you know, one or two vote senators holding up any hearing, any conversation, anything and offering thoughts and prayers once a week, you know, and then moving on.

Well, those days are over. Americans expect better, we should demand better. We don't -- there is no reason that we should not be the outlier of all countries and in Minnesota we're leaning into it to make sure that we're doing our part to protect our citizens.

ACOSTA: And I want to ask you about another piece of legislation that you've enacted there in Minnesota. A bill to legalize recreational marijuana has passed the state legislature after weeks of debate, is now waiting your signature. Are you going to sign that into law? And what does that mean for your state moving forward on that issue?

WALZ: Yes, I'm going to. I've been involved in this, Jim, for many years. I served on the Veterans Affair Committee in Congress for a dozen years, and we passed the first piece of legislation on medicinal cannabis to help us move away from the opioid addictions that we saw with our returning soldiers. And we know that prohibition doesn't work, and with the issues of contamination of fentanyl and xylazine, and things we're seeing show up on street, cannabis, it doesn't make any sense.

And so we're going to allow people to grow it at home. I trust adults to make their own decisions. We're talking about freedoms. You make your own health care decisions in Minnesota. We're not going to tell you how to deal with your children. We're going to allow teachers to teach. We're not going to ban books and we certainly believe that prohibition on cannabis is long overdue and we'll get that out there. We'll have it legally -- the regime will be in place to make sure that we're safe, the things that are being sold to folks, and we'll use the resources from the tax revenue to help educate people on addiction which we know is ravaging, you know, people across the country.

ACOSTA: And I hate to put you in a bad mood by asking you a question about Washington, but let me go ahead and do that because there are these debt ceiling talks going on as you know.

WALZ: Yes.

ACOSTA: And I'm just curious -- I mean, what does this mean for the state of Minnesota? If the White House, if congressional Republicans can't reach an agreement, and the country goes into default. I guess one of the things we don't do enough is ask guys like you, folks like you who are running a state what this might mean for a place like Minnesota?

WALZ: Yes, I'm worried about it. It's the Black Swan event. Our economy is clicking along and created 4500 jobs. We got the lowest unemployment rate we've ever seen. Our exports are way up. People are bouncing back from the pandemic. And this is out there.

And look, Jim, I served in Congress for 12 years. I was asked by President Bush to vote for the debt ceiling raise, I was asked by President Obama, and I was asked by President Trump and his people saying it is irresponsible not to raise this. And I voted for those things. Because that's what responsible members do. And as governor, this one terrifies me.

I was out in D.C. with my former colleagues in January and they were puppies and Rambos about this and I'm telling you I watched John Boehner, I watched Paul Ryan both leave Congress over these issues because they couldn't control their anarchists on their side of the aisle. So our folks need to get this done. I'm worried about it. I think the impact is catastrophic at a time when we don't need it. And anybody who believes this is anything but theatrics, it is irresponsible legislating.

ACOSTA: All right, Governor Tim Walz from Minnesota, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.

WALZ: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, coming up, liftoff. A successful launch on a private mission to the International Space Station. Details from the Kennedy Space Center next. There it is. The fire in the trench. Pretty exciting stuff. We'll break it all down in just a few moments. Stick with us.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: A group of private astronauts are on their way to the International Space Station after a successful launch from the Kennedy Space Center just hours ago. The flight is Axiom's second ever private mission and it's breaking barriers, carrying the first woman ever to command a private space flight and the first woman from Saudi Arabia ever to travel to space.

CNN's Carlos Suarez joins us live from the Kennedy Space Center.

Carlos, what do we know about the next stage of this mission? The capsule will reach the space station I supposed in the coming hours.


What more do we know about that?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. So a mission briefing just wrapped up a few minutes ago and right now,

it seems that everything is good to go in terms of this space mission to the International Space Station.

The mission commander called it a "phenomenal ride" into space. As you noted, the Axiom 2 space mission -- space mission rather, is on its way to the International Space Station after successfully launching from the Kennedy Space Center earlier this afternoon.

Now, according to Axiom Space, it is going to take the four-member crew about 16 hours to get to the International Space Station, where they're going to spend about eight days.

Now, the stage one rocket boosters successfully landed here at Kennedy Space Center some eight minutes after liftoff that caused a sonic boom. It caused everyone out here to jump back a bit and some car alarms to start sounding.

Two Americans and two Saudis are on board the Axiom 2 mission. Commander Peggy Whitson is a former NASA astronaut who has spent 665 days in space. She has served as commander of the International Space Station, and so she has a great deal of experience in space.

She is joined by mission pilot, John Shoffner and then there's Ali AlQarni and Rayyanah Barnawi. They are two mission specialists. Both of them are from Saudi Arabia.

And as you noted, Jim, Barnawi, she has made history with this space launch becoming the first woman from Saudi Arabia in space -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Carlos Suarez, exciting stuff down there at the Kennedy Space Center. Thank you very much.

Coming up, a CNN exclusive, Paul Whelan, an American, the State Department says is wrongfully detained in Russia speaks to CNN. Paul's brother, David Whelan, he joins me next live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with us.



ACOSTA: Back to one of our top stories: CNN's exclusive interview with Paul Whelan, an American wrongfully detained in Russia. Here is part of that interview.


PAUL WHELAN, AMERICAN DETAINED IN RUSSIA: I feel that my life shouldn't be considered less valuable or important than others who have been previously traded, and I think there are people in DC that feel the same way and they are moving towards a compromise and resolution to this as quickly as they can.

There will be an end to this and I hope it's coming sooner than later. But it is depressing on a daily basis going through this. (END AUDIO CLIP)

ACOSTA: And Paul's brother, David Whelan joins me now. David, I guess your first reaction to hearing some of that and you know, maybe I'm getting this wrong here, but it sounded like he is a touch optimistic that may be something is happening. What's your sense of it?

DAVID WHELAN, PAUL WHELAN'S BROTHER: Well, I was really pleased to hear the positivity in his voice. I think we are worried about his mental health and his morale and his ability to keep going day-to-day until something is resolved. So, all of that sounded very positive.

ACOSTA: And when was the last time you spoke with your brother?

D. WHELAN: He spoke to our parents a few days ago, I believe and relayed pretty much that things are as good as they can be in a Russian labor camp.

ACOSTA: And are you still in touch with the Biden administration about your brother? What are you hearing from them? Any positive developments on that front?

D. WHELAN: No, I think that's our concern, is that Paul is heard as we have and we've all taken heart at the words President Biden has said, the messages from Secretary Blinken and so on, that something may be coming, but I don't think we see any action.

And so I hope that Paul's hopes aren't dashed or maybe to false hopes, but I don't really see anything coming at the moment.

ACOSTA: And I guess, when you hear Paul talking about how he doesn't see his life as less significant or less important than others, what do you take away from that? What does he mean by that? Has he expressed something similar to you or your family about that sort of thing? What do you think he means there?

D. WHELAN: I don't think he has expressed anything particular. He has seen two Americans come home from Russia and he has been left behind both times. And I guess, in his comments to Miss Hansler, he mentioned that he was hoping that he wouldn't be left behind again and that US sentiment has been that he won't be left behind.

But I think you always worry that, you know, what has made it that other people have gone home and he hasn't, and I think that's a bit of a concern for him. Because each time he is left behind, he obviously has to stay for months or maybe years longer.

ACOSTA: Right. Of course, he would feel that way, it is only natural.

And David, one of the things that Paul mentioned in that interview, a great interview that he did with Jennifer Hansler over here at CNN, he mentioned that he is aware of these press reports, aware of these clips, I guess that they get to watch there in the prison there in Russia. How did that strike you?

Because I thought that was just fascinating that he is able to keep up with that sort of thing and I suppose that might be fueling some of his optimism that we are still talking about it, that his name is still out there, that it is important that a lot of people feel like he should be coming home as soon as possible.

D. WHELAN: It's one of the reasons I do these interviews is so that hopefully they will hit Russian media and make it all the way into the Mordovian Prison.

I think that he hears that message from us and you can take that in from your family, but to really know that the president has spoken out to see that video of my sister at the UN Security Council meeting, all of those things are so important for his morale.

So yes, it was great to know that he had had seen them and that the Russian prisoners in his camp do the translation so that he knows when he is a star, a local celebrity in Russian media.


ACOSTA: Yes. And I guess, we don't want to paint too sunny a picture here because what he is going through has to be just absolutely brutal.

What do we know about in terms of his daily living? What the conditions are like? What he's going through? If you can help us remind the viewers out there, what he's going through.

D. WHELAN: Yes, it has deteriorated since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions. They have cut their food, so the prisoners get less food. He's lost about 20 percent of his weight since he was detained almost four-and-a-half years ago.

It is a pretty rough life and it is not something that I would wish on anybody. I think of it as surviving not living, and I hope that it's not too long before the Biden administration or some White House can bring Paul home so that he can start living again.

ACOSTA: And I guess if you had one message to get across to lawmakers up on Capitol Hill, to members of the Biden administration, to any members of the international community, in the diplomatic community who might be able to help bring Paul home, what would your message be tonight?

D. WHELAN: Don't waste any more time. I think we have waited a long time since Secretary Blinken made the comment about a substantial offer had been made to the Kremlin and that the Kremlin hadn't responded.

We've waited months and I think -- I'm sure that they don't forget that each day Paul has to spend waiting for them to act, but I wish they would act more quickly, more decisively, and bring Paul and bring other Americans home from the wrongful detention and hostile situations they are being held in.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. It is time to bring Paul Whelan home. David Whelan, thank you very much for your time. Always thinking about

you and your family and what Paul is going through over there in Russia. It just -- it breaks your heart, but thanks.

Thanks for taking the time to talking about Paul tonight. We appreciate it.

D. WHELAN: Thanks for having me.

ACOSTA: All right, and still ahead, Lizzo got emotional last night speaking about abortion rights at her concert in Nebraska. Why the mega pop star says you deserve to be protected. That message coming up.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Now to some other top stories we're watching this evening.

New York authorities say two boys reported missing last week were found dead in two different Manhattan rivers. Police say the boys were friends and they were reported missing only a day apart. They were last seen walking together in Harlem.

The NYPD says the investigation into their deaths is ongoing and they're still working to determine a cause of death.

And in Kansas City, three people are dead and two more injured following an overnight shooting at a nightclub. Police say all five victims are believed to be adults. The two people injured remain hospitalized. One person is in stable condition while the other is in critical.

Local authorities are asking anyone with information to come forward. They are offering a reward of up to $25,000.00.

Tomorrow, President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet to discuss the debt ceiling. The two spoke by phone earlier today. McCarthy called the talk productive.

Wall Street though is anxiously watching Capitol Hill hoping for a deal and CNN's Christine Romans has more on that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Jim, money in the Treasury's coffers is running out and so is the calendar.

Washington and Wall Street gripped with developments on raising the debt ceiling and many say the drama shows it is time to scrap the debt limit to prevent this from happening again.

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: I think reasonably good intent, you know, when this was first put on the books over a hundred years ago to force lawmakers to come together and figure out how to make sure that the government's fiscal situation is on sound ground, but that's not what's happening now.

ROMANS: Wall Street seemingly confident a deal will be struck even as the so-called X date looms, and the American consumer is still spending.

Big retail earnings reports last week showed consumers shifting toward buying essential items and experiences, while not spending on things they didn't need.

Overall, retail spending posted a modest rebound in April following two months of declines. Still, consumers face a tough road ahead amid sky high inflation and recession woes.

A Gallup poll found three in five Americans found high inflation caused financial hardship for their household. To fight that inflation, higher interest rates and that is cooling the housing market.

Home prices posted the biggest decline since 2012. Average home prices down 1.7 percent nationally in April from a year earlier. Home sales hindered by a lack of homes on the market.

This week, a big week on the economic calendar. Housing data, the minutes from the Fed meeting, first revision to GDP and the Fed's preferred inflation gauge, the PCE -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, thanks so much.

At her concert in Omaha this weekend, mega popstar, Lizzo took a swing at Nebraska's new bill that would restrict access to gender affirming care and abortion.


LIZZO, SINGER: Don't let these laws say who are you not. You are who you are. Okay, I see you. You are valid. You deserve to be here in every form. You contain multitudes.

These laws are not real. You are what's real and you deserve to be protected.


ACOSTA: The state is likely to ban most abortions after 12 weeks and restrict gender affirming care for transgender Nebraskans under 19 years old. That bill passed the state's legislature on Friday and the governor there is expected to sign it into law tomorrow.

For the first time, a member of the controversial LIV Golf series has won a major championship.


Brooks Koepka fired a 67 in today's final round at Oak Hill Country Club, good enough for a two-shot victory. It is the third time he has won the tournament and his fifth major title overall. It also marks a return to the top after knee and wrist injuries kept the 33-year-old sidelined for much of the past two years. Koepka is now the 20th golfer in history to win five or more majors.

And coming up, one year after the horrific school massacre in Uvalde, officials there say, they will hold a press conference with questions that families of the victims still want answered after the botched police response. We talk about that in a few moments. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


ACOSTA: One year after the horrific school shooting in Uvalde Texas, 10-year-old survivors AJ Martinez and Jaydien Canizales are left with memories of the friends they lost and daily reminders that their lives will never be the same.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz talked to AJ and Jaydien and their parents about the long physical and emotional recovery from the shooting.



SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Do you ever think about your friends from class that day?


PROKUPECZ: What do you think about?

MARTINEZ: I think that I miss them.

PROKUPECZ: How about you, Jaydien?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, there's a lot of differences between him since that day, like certain things trigger him.

This lady looked at him with the evil eyes and he had an anxiety attack. And he was like, mom, it reminded me back to the way that gunman was looking at me with his evil eyes.

PROKUPECZ: The headphones you're wearing? Why?

CANIZALES: So it can help me -- so if I saw anything, like if I hear something bad, I can just put my headphones on. So I won't have to hear it.


ACOSTA: And CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins me now.

Shimon, we've learned that Uvalde city officials plan on holding a press conference tomorrow ahead of the one-year anniversary. How do you expect that to go considering all of the questions about the botched police response there and tell us more about your interview with those two precious young boys. It just breaks your heart watching that.

PROKUPECZ: I mean, it's really tough time. Brave boys, brave parents who agreed to do this with us.

The survivors, the families who lost loved ones, all who have agreed to talk to us are just incredibly brave.

In terms of tomorrow, I don't think we're going to hear anything from officials. Certainly, people will be learning more from the information that we provide in the next hour than they will get -- ever get from officials at this point and that is something that families have counted on us, on CNN, to provide them with information and that's exactly what we're going to be doing in the next hour.

We're going to be showing family members, survivors' video of the moments when their kids were finally, after 77 minutes, rescued by police from that classroom. And they asked us to see this video, they knew we had it, they asked us to see it, and we agreed to show it to them.

And we sat with them as they watched this, as they watched their little boys and their little girls be rescued from this classroom, learning new information for the first time because of the video that we're showing them.

And we're also going to show viewers, a lot of these images horrific, heartbreaking, gut wrenching moments of when these kids were rescued and what law enforcement did in the moments after and how all of these kids were placed on a school bus and then taken to the hospital -- Jim.

ACOSTA: And Shimon, do the families of those killed still have any hope that there will be accountability for the police response? I mean, because it just seems like what they've gotten up until this point is a brick wall.

PROKUPECZ: Sadly, no, Jim. They don't think they'll ever see any kind of accountability. All they hope is that this obviously never happens again and that law enforcement learns from this and that they never ever, ever wait again to rescue kids inside a classroom or anyone that is ever trapped with a gunman in an active shooter situation. That's why they're allowing us to show some of these images because they hope this brings about some kind of change so that there are some lessons learned.

But there really is no hope for them in terms of accountability. We're approaching a year here. And simple information about what their kids went through, the types of injuries that their kids went through, how their kids passed out, how their kids nearly died -- key information that they feel is important in understanding what their kids went through for their psychological being, they haven't been able to get from law enforcement -- Jim.

ACOSTA: It really is just unbelievably tragic what they've all been through. And what is the biggest thing that surprised you putting this show together? I mean, you've covered this up and down every which way. Anything that surprised you?

PROKUPECZ: Well, I think the parents and the bravery of these survivors, the kids, their bravery and how they had to act like heroes to try and save their friends, their best friends, their classmates, even trying to save some of the teachers who died and what law enforcement perhaps was lacking that day, many of these kids in that classroom kind of took on that role.

You know, Khloie Torres, who we spend a lot of time talking about here shortly. She was a true hero that day. She was on the phone with 9-1- 1, but also trying to help those that were injured inside the classroom.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, they displayed tremendous courage. That's what it is all about, and it was lacking on the parts of law enforcement that day, that's for sure.

All right, Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much.

Don't go anywhere. An all-new episode of "The Whole Story" with Anderson Cooper. One whole story, one whole hour airs next. That's right here on CNN.

Thanks very much for joining me this evening. I'm Jim Acosta. I'll see you here next weekend.