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CNN International: Biden, McCarthy to Resume Talks as Deadline Looms on Debt Limit; Wagner: Group's Forces Will Leave Ukraine Thursday; Beijing Summons Japanese Ambassador Over G7 Talks on China; NYC Mayor: 70,000 Migrants Have Come to New York; Paul Whelan Speaks About His Detention in Russia; Ruling Party I Greece wins Big but Falls Short of a Majority. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 22, 2023 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and warm welcome to our viewers, joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. Bianca is off for the day. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president will host House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, for another high stakes face-to-face meeting.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: The president keeps changing position. We need those 97 days, and now changing positions every day, it's not productive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The financial markets are all nervous about this. Is it the first or is at the 14th?

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: There is nothing. They've destroyed everything. There are no buildings. It's a pity. It's tragedy. But, for today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, engines full power. And lift off, Falcon 9.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The beginning of a great journey for all of us.


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

FOSTER: It is Monday May the 22nd, 9:00 a.m. here in London, 4 a.m. in Washington, where the clock is ticking down until the U.S. possibly default on trillions of dollars in debt. Negotiations over debt ceiling are set to resume today between President Joe Biden and the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is again warning Congress and the White House that they must come to a resolution, soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I indicated in my last letter to Congress that we expect to be unable to pay all of our bills in early June and possibly as soon as June 1st. And I will continue to update Congress but I certainly haven't changed my assessment. So, I think that that's a hard deadline.


FOSTER: President Biden arrived back in Washington a few hours ago after a weekend of diplomacy at the G7 Summit, here's what he had to say about the debt ceiling talks whilst in Japan.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's time for Republicans to except that there is no bipartisan deal to be made solely, solely on their partisan terms. They have to move as well. I can't guarantee that they wouldn't force a default but doing something outrageous.


FOSTER: The president has also acknowledged not just the financial implications of a debt default but also the political ramifications as he looks to run for reelection next year. CNN's Melanie Zanona has more on the race to reach an agreement.


MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, the United States is closer to a default but Congress is nowhere closer to a deal. This weekend saw a serious setback in the talks with both sides rejecting each other's offers, exchanging sharp words, and even deciding to put a momentary pause on the talks. And so, negotiators were seeking a much-needed reset in these negotiations.

And on Sundays Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden did speak by phone, by all accounts it was a cordial conversation. They talked about the debt limit, they even talked about Biden's trip abroad to the G7. And perhaps most importantly, they decided to keep talking. President Biden and Speaker McCarthy will meet one-on-one on Monday, and their staff are continuing to talk on Sunday evening. Here's a little bit more about what McCarthy had to stay about that phone call.

MCCARTHY: I believe it was a productive phone call. And so, at the end of the phone call what we agreed to do was we're going to have Congressmen Garret Graves and Patrick McHenry get back together with -- he's going to ask his team to get back together so we can walk them through what we've been talking about. I think some of the challenges here, they may not completely understand how we're coming about this.

ZANONA: So, the good news is, they do have a mechanism in place to continue talking. But the bad news is the two sides are still very far apart. I'm told that the one of the biggest sticking points is spending levels. Republican want to cap future spending at fiscal 2022 levels. Whereas the White House wants to stick to current spending levels -- in other words a funding freeze. And then there's the issue of tougher work requirements for social

safety net programs. That's something Republicans are insisting but Democrats are much more reluctant to give into that.


And then finally, even seemingly basic issues have yet to be resolved. Like the length of a potential debt ceiling hike. Republicans want a shorter window. Whereas Democrats are pushing for a longer window. Into 2025 so they don't have to deal with the issue again until after the next presidential election. So, a long way to go, and not a lot of time to figure it out.

Melanie Zanona, CNN, Capitol Hill.


FOSTER: Investors keeping a very close eye on how these negotiations are going. Here's a look at the U.S. futures today. It's not to worrying but the Dow and the S&P all looking as though they're going to start out negative at the moment, at least.

Let's turn to the war in Ukraine. The country's Dnipro region came under missile attacks overnight. Multiple people are reportedly injured and several buildings damaged. A local official says that Ukrainian forces shot down 15 drones and four cruise missiles over the region.

Meanwhile, a day after claiming to have taking control of the bitterly contested city in Bakhmut, Wagner Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, says his forces will be pulling out of Ukraine on Thursday and hand over his positions to the Russian military. But there's been no response yet on that for the Russian military of defense. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian military have disputed Wagner's claims.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I clearly understand what is taking place in Bakhmut. And we all clearly understand why all of that is taking place. I cannot share with you the tactical views of our military, of our warriors. But as of today, we can see that the country which a dozen times is bigger than we are, cannot occupy us, cannot win in this war. And we understand that a bit more and then we will be prevailing.


FOSTER: Clare Sebastian following all the mixed messages for us here. We've got three different messages, haven't we, between the Ukrainians, and Wagner and the Russian defense ministry?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I think Ukraine is making it clear that they don't want to hand Russia's propaganda victory, right. That after months and months of fighting Russia want to claim some kind of victory that it could bring home to its people here, the Ukrainians are not going to allow it that.

In terms of what Wagner is saying that they're going to pull out on the 25th. We've seen this kind of threat from them before. Remember, they said just ahead of Victory Day that they were going to pull out right after. That was partly because of a dispute with the ministry of defense over equipment. So, I think we'll believe that when we see it.

Because we know that Ukraine is still looking for an opening to move back in and take more territory. They are, if anything, just holding on to a tiny bit of the town. They've been trying to advance on the flanks. It's clear Russia does have the upper hand there but they're not giving up. And of course, the timing of all of these announcements especially the Russians claim comes as Ukraine took a major step forward towards getting those F-16s, those fighter jets that it's been pushing for a long time.

The U.S. saying it will support training, and it's signaling to the allies that it will allow the re-export from other countries. And I think that sort of provides a context there. Let's take a listen of what Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser had to say about it.


JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The United States has mobilized an exceptional effort to deliver, on time and in full, everything Ukraine needs to launch this counteroffensive. Now that we have done that, we can look forward to the long-term capacity of Ukraine to be able to defend itself and deter Russian aggression. Fourth generation fighter aircraft, Western fighter aircraft, F-16s are relevant to that fight.


SEBASTIAN: So, no one's disputing the level of U.S. aid, right, to Ukraine. It's something like $37 billion since the start of the war which is really more than double than everyone else put together. But it's the trickle effect that's controversial because Russia has absorbed that into its tactics. And I think that you look at the amount of time it's going to train on F-16 -- even at the reduced time for a couple of months -- it doesn't look like they'll be a place for this counteroffensive. And of course, that is the most important thing for Ukraine right now.

FOSTER: Yes, and that also is an immediate concern is again the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, which has had another power cut.

SEBASTIAN: Yes, a blackout is what the Ukrainians said. They're calling it the seven since the start of the war. This means not they've lost a lot of electricity, but they've lost all external power supplies and now they're relying on diesel generators which the Ukrainian atomic energy company says they've got enough fuel to run for just ten days. So, in other words, the countdown has started.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the IEA, is warning this morning that this presents a major threat to the nuclear safety. Obviously, you need electricity at a nuclear plant even when the reactors are in shutdown -- which they are now -- to provide cooling and other essential functions to prevent a nuclear accident.

We've seen these blackouts before. As I said, Max, the power been restored in a matter of hours to days. But we know the situation in the plant is worsening. Staffing levels have been dropping. There was shelling last week near the plant with the IEA warned about. So, there is concern about this. And of course, it's potentially on the front line as well, we're going to see possibly a counteroffensive starting.

FOSTER: OK, Clare, thank you.

Beijing and Moscow are lashing out at G7 countries after G7 leaders slammed what they called China's economic coercion and pledged new measures targeting Russia.


Beijing has now summoned Japan's ambassador to China, accusing Tokyo of collaborating with countries to, quote, smear and attack China during the G7 meeting. CNN's Anna Coren is following developments and joins us live from Hong Kong. We've had similar language in the past out of these meetings, but it's interesting to see how China is reacting these days to that.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it doesn't like it and it's voiced its anger, Max, towards not only the G7 countries but in particular Japan. And as you said, it's summoned Japan's ambassador to China to express serious tres mauvais (ph), regarding discussions about China during these three days Summit in Hiroshima.

China's increasing aggression and Russia's war in Ukraine, very much top of the agenda at the group of seven. Let me read to you some of the statement released by China's foreign ministry late last night following Japan's dressing down.

It says: Japan, as the host of the G7, collaborated with relevant countries to smear and attack China in a series of activities and in the joint communique. It went on to say that such activities have grossly interfered in China's internal affairs, violated the basic principles of international law and the spirit of the four political documents between China and Japan.

Now the G7 Summit, the leaders of the world's richest democracies were much united in their growing concern over China. You know, stressing the need to, obviously, cooperate with the world's second largest economy, but also to counter its, quote, maligned practices and coercion.

The U.S., as we know, views China as the most serious long-term challenge to the international order and this is backed up by the British Prime Minister over the weekend. Who said China poses the greatest challenge of our age in regards to global prosperity and security.

The leaders of the G7 also pledged new measures targeting Russia. You know, to choke off its ability to finance and fuel its war on Ukraine. And that surprise visit by President Zelenskyy certainly cemented leaders resolve and commitment. We heard from President Joe Biden, you know, pledging on the ongoing support saying we have Ukraine's back.

Russia's foreign minister slammed the group of seven, for indulging in their own greatness. China's foreign minister accused the G7 of hindering international peace and said, Max, that it needed to reflect on its behavior and perhaps change course.

FOSTER: OK, Anna in Hong Kong thank you.

Now the U.S. and Papua New Guinea have signed a new bilateral defense cooperation agreement. This comes during the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to the Pacific island nation. The new pact is expected to expand U.S. access to military facilities in Papua New Guinea. Meanwhile, Washington and Beijing via for influence in the region.

In the coming hours in South Carolina, Republican Senator Tim Scott is expected to formally announce his intention to run for president in the 2024 election. He's getting an endorsement from the number two Republicans in the Senate, South Dakota's Senator John Thune. Sources say that Thune is set to deliver the opening prayer at Scott's presidential announcement.

And after weeks of anticipation, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to file is paperwork declaring his candidacy for the president sometimes this week and perhaps formally announce his bid next week. Scott and DeSantis join a crowded field that includes the front corner and former President Donald Trump, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Arkansas governor Isa Hutchinson.

With immigration, emerging as a key issue in the 2024 race for U.S. president, New York City Mayor is appealing to Washington to help cope with the 70,000 migrants he says have arrived in the city in just the past few months. CNN's Gloria Pazmino shows us what the mayor is asking for on how the city is handling the record setting influx.


GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN U.S. CORRESPONDENT: And for several days, Mayor Eric Adams has been talking about the city of New York and needing financial intervention from the federal government. In recent weeks he has been asking the surrounding suburbs around the city of New York to help and to share the "burden" of having to provide shelter and resources to migrants that continue to arrive here in New York City.

In the last several days since the expiration of Title 42, the city has continued to see a record number of arrivals in the city every single day. According to city hall, they are seeing hundreds of people arrive per day. The city has set up the Roosevelt Hotel -- which you see here behind me -- as a welcome center. A place where migrants can arrive and be connected to resources and eventually be placed in a shelter while migrants figure out their next move.

[04:15:00] Now in the meantime, Mayor Eric Adams is asking the federal government to step in and for neighbors around the city of New York to help out.

ERIC ADAMS, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: If this is properly handled at the border level of this issue can be resolved while we finally get Congress -- particularly the Republican Party -- to deal with a comprehensive immigration policy.

PAZMINO: Now, it's not the first time that the mayor makes this request of the federal government and he has also clashed with his neighbors outside of the city of New York in recent weeks. Some municipalities in the area have filed lawsuits trying to stop the city from busing migrants to their suburbs, citing a lack of resources and saying that they don't have the infrastructure to help migrants.

But the city has said that they also are running out of space and resources. Specifically shelter capacity continues to be a major issue here in the city as more migrants continue to arrive and many of them are in need of shelter.

In New York City, Gloria Pazmino, CNN.


FOSTER: The eight-year-old migrant girl who died in U.S. custody was treated for influenza for several days before her death. That's according to customs and border control officials, who said the girl's mother brought her for treatment four times. Authorities say she was given drugs for a variety of symptoms. She died at a hospital that was -- but the cause of death is still unclear. The CBP said the agency's chief medical officer is reviewing medical practices at its facilities and will bring in additional personnel if they're needed.

Now in Nebraska, a bill is set to become law that would ban most abortions after 12 weeks and restrict a range of gender affirming treatment for Nebraskans under the age of 19. The state conservative literature passed the bill on Friday with a vote of 33-15. According to his office, the governor is expected to sign the measure into law today.

Paul Whelan, an American citizen detained in Russia, says he feels confident his case is a priority for the U.S. government, but wishes it could be resolved faster. Here's what he told CNN in an exclusive 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 treated. 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 I hope it's coming sooner than later, but it is depressing on a daily basis going through this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOSTER: Whelan was detained in Moscow in 2018 for espionage. Charges

that he denies and sentenced to 16 years in prison. CNN's Jennifer Hansler spoke with him about his detention.


JENNIFER HANSLER, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT PRODUCER: Paul Whelan was actually able to watch his sister's speech before a U.N. Security Council meeting last month that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chaired. And in that speech, Elizabeth Whelan called for the Russians to immediately release her brother.

Paul Whelan also said he was able to watch parts of President Biden's speech to the White House correspondent's dinner, in which the U.S. president called for the release of Americans wrongfully detained around the world, including Paul himself.

Now Whelan said he believes that the Russians allowed them to view these speeches because they could spin it as propaganda of U.S. officials, quote, begging for the release of one of their own.

But for Paul Whelan himself, this was a big boost to his confidence that the U.S. was doing all that they could to secure his release. Here's what he said about seeing those public events.

WHELAN: The public displays and events such as 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. I mean, 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 you're going to get it done.

HANSLER: Now it's important to note that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the U.S. has put forward a proposal to the Russians to secure Whelan's release, but the Russians have yet to engage on that proposal.

Jennifer Hansler, CNN Washington.


FOSTER: Meanwhile WNBA star Brittney Griner -- who had also been detained in Russia -- receiving a standing ovation during her first home game on Sunday. Amongst the present for the game was Roger Carstens, the Biden administration's special envoy for hostage affairs. Here's what he said about the special moment.


ROGER CARSTENS, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR HOSTAGE AFFAIRS: I was sitting there crying with Sheila Jackson, the Congresswoman from Texas, when BG came out, I think it was a very emotional moment for both of us. But I could tell you from where I stood, where the team sits, in Washington D.C., we knew that this day was going to come. We knew it was going to be hard, it would take some time. But what we saw today is exactly how I pictured it.


BG home, Cherelle cheering her on, BG's family in the crowd and BG back on the court doing what he does best and that's playing basketball.

Whether it's BG or whether it's Paul Whelan -- who still remains in Russia -- or now Evan Gershkovich who is also now in Russia, we are not going to take our foot off the gas, we're going to keep pushing and it's going to be us that eventually brings everybody home.


FOSTER: Griner scored 27 points and grabbed ten rebounds but the Chicago Sky defeated Phoenix Mercury 75 to 69.

The court appearance is just a few hours away for the suspect in the murder of four Idaho college students. New details about Brian Kohberger's arraignment is next.

Also ahead, the ruling Conservative Party wins big in Greece's parliamentary elections but still can form a government. We'll head to Athens for a breakdown of the results.

And later --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 5, 4, 3, 2,1. Engines full power and lift off, Falcon 9. Go active!


FOSTER: Axiom Space launches its latest mission to be the first International Space Station with a very special crew member.




KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, GREEK PRIME MINISTER: We're very happy about the result. As you can see. We're not the only ones.


FOSTER: The Greek Prime Minister there, elated that his ruling Conservative Party's win in the parliamentary elections, on Sunday. However, it fell short of the majority they needed to form a government. With almost all votes counted, New Democracy took a significant lead with more than 40 percent of the vote trouncing the opposition leftist Syriza which got just over 20.

Now the Prime Minister ruled out the possibility of forming a coalition, which will likely set the stage for a second election in about a month or so. For more let's go to Elinda Labropoulou, joining us in Athens, Greece. Actually, a much better result than the pollsters had predicted. So that's why he looks so pleased.

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: Well absolutely, it's a much better result than anybody expected. And this is very much why the prime minister does not want to go into a collision government. Obviously, he has said that, you know, this gives him a very strong signal that his party can govern again alone. So, what we expect to see is, you know, some negotiations about a coalition, and so. That's soon enough or a caretaker government to be sworn in and in about a month from, to go to a new round of elections.

Now the prime minister has described this as an incredible victory for democracy. And this is also something that, you know, people here have been looking at very closely. Because it's an election that's been very much dominated by the economy. And it seems that the prime minister has managed to succeed in garnering so many votes, pretty much based on the economic platform and the success rate in the four last years that he's been in government.

It's a vote of confidence, if you like to the prime minister what we have witnessed in Greece. He's somebody who has brought in growth, and at the time when people are really feeling the inflation, they're really feeling the prices going up all the time. It seems that this is how they decided to cast their ballot.

This vote came at a time where the government has faced a number of scandals, a wiretapping scandal, a lot of accusations and push backs in migration and even with issues with the rule of law. But all the same, it seems that it's the economy that really dominated this election and this is what the people of Greece have voted for.

FOSTER: OK, Elinda, thank you.

Brian Kohberger, the suspect in the murder of four University of Idaho students, is set to appear in court in the coming hours. He was indicted last week for four counts of murder and one count of burglary. But because of a wide-ranging gag order, which remains unknown about -- much is unknown about the case still. CNN's Mike Valerio has more on that in today's arraignment as well.


MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we will be watching a few things because the trajectory of this case utterly changed last week. A grand jury handed down its indictment on Wednesday saying, yes indeed, Bryan Kohberger should be put on trial. And because of that decision, the path to a jury trial is no longer up in the air like it was before. There will be an arraignment and Kohberger will likely enter a plea.

So first, we're going to be watching to see how Kohberger pleads to four counts of murder and one count of burglary. Most likely he will plead not guilty. But there's always a chance that either side could ask for more time and the plea is entered later. Second, the judge is expected to entertain arguments on a gag order, which has limited what information we know about the case.

Because right now, all of the lawyers involved here -- including those representing victims, families and witnesses -- cannot say anything publicly about this matter. Nothing at all, except for what is written in court documents. One of the victims' families wants to make the gag order less restrictive.

And this matters because six months later, we still do not know what prosecutors think is the motive here. We still don't know what investigators think could link the suspect to the four victims. Information is very tight, and a less restrictive gag order could increase what we know.

But farther ahead, we'll see if there's a potential timeline. Will a trial date reset or just a status update put on the calendar? And then finally, will the state of Idaho seek the death penalty? After Kohberger enters a plea within 60 days, prosecutors need to file written notice if they are going to seek capital punishment.

So, a lot of things to watch all of a sudden. Now that we know this high-profile case is indeed headed towards trial.

Mike Valerio, CNN, Los Angeles.