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CNN International: Biden and McCarthy Meeting Productive, But No Deal Reached on Debt Ceiling; Carroll Seeks Another $10 Million After Trumps Town Hall Remarks; Anti-Putin Russians Claim Attack on Border Region of Belgorod; Senior Russian Official Dies After Falling Ill on Plane; Republican Sen. Tim Scott Announces Presidential Bid. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 23, 2023 - 04:00   ET



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

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


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We both know that we have a responsibility.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Here we are June 1st being the deadline, this is not how government should work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I sense from the White House is a lack of urgency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a formed-up unit of overwhelmingly Russian citizens who volunteered to fight for Ukraine because they wanted to depose the Putin regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one ever could have seen that he would be a two- time MVP.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, I don't like to think about it to be honest.


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

FOSTER: It is Tuesday, May the 23rd, 9:00 a.m. here in, London, 4:00 a.m. in Washington when their lawmakers are desperately trying to strike a deal to avoid defaulting on the U.S. debt for the first time in the nation's history.

NOBILO: They may be closer after U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met at the White House on Monday, both leaders said progress was made despite lingering disagreements.


BIDEN: We still have some disagreements, but I think we may be able to get where we have to go. We both know we have a significant responsibility.

MCCARTHY: But I think we both agree that we need to change the trajectory, that our debt is too large, and I think at the end of the day we can find common ground.


FOSTER: Well, McCarthy later vented his frustration that these talks are coming down the wire with nothing to show so far.


MCCARTHY: My whole goal here was always from the beginning, we want to be responsible. Being responsible would have negotiated this months ago like we wanted to. Being reasonable that we would find common ground. Being sensible that we spend too much money. Unfortunately, we are where we are today, but thankfully the Republicans have passed a bill.


FOSTER: House Democrats are looking to recruit some Republicans to sign a discharge position, which would let them bypassed McCarthy's team and force a vote to raise the debt ceiling.

NOBILO: But hard Republicans are pushing McCarthy to stay the course, stick to a GOP plan passed by the House, and to concede very little to the White House. CNN's Melanie Zanona has more now from Washington.


MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Negotiations wrapped up for the night without a deal in hand, at least not yet. Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden met in the White House for an hour and a half on Monday, and afterwards they instructed their staff to keep negotiating and keep talking to see if they can come to an agreement, or it least come closer to an agreement. Which is a welcome development after a weekend of tumultuous talks, rejected offers, and heated rhetoric. So, following that meeting at the White House, Speaker Kevin McCarthy struck a far more optimistic tone. Take a listen.

MCCARTHY: I felt we had a productive discussion. We don't have an agreement yet, but I did feel the discussion was productive in areas that we had differences of opinion. I believe that we can still get there. I believe that we can get it done.

ZANONA: Now, despite the cautious optimism there, there is still a long way to go. First of all, they are still very far apart on the substance. We are told that spending levels remains one of the chief sticking points. Republicans want to cut spending or as the White House is only offering to freeze spending. So that remains a huge point of contention. And there's a number of other issues that have yet to be resolved as well.

But even if and when they come to an agreement, then they still have to turn it into legislative text, then they have to turn on and sell it to their members. Then they have to pass it in the House before they send it over to the Senate. So, there is still a long way to go, and not a lot of time to figure it out.

Melanie Zanona, CNN, Capitol Hill.


NOBILO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been a constant reminder of the urgency of the matter. In a letter to Congress she said in part, we estimate that it is likely that the Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all the government's obligations if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by early June. And potentially, as early as June 1st.

FOSTER: Surprisingly, the whole ordeal hasn't had much effect on Wall Street. Here's a look at the U.S. futures in just a few hours until the opening bell. Analysts say investors have simply grown used to this political waiting game and are banking on another last-minute deal.


An economist from Moody's Analytics says a plunge in the market may be what is needed to pressure lawmakers to actually get something done.

It's true, isn't it it's. I mean, at the back of everyone's mind is that they're ultimately playing politics and they will reach a deal.

NOBILO: Exactly, it just feels like brinkmanship. It undermines the urgency of it all. We feel like they are definitely going to reach one. We'll see.

We are also following a developing story from Washington where authorities have arrested a man who crashed a truck near the White House late Monday night.

FOSTER: Officials say the driver slammed the vehicle into security barriers at a public square just across the street from the executive residence. They believe he may have done it intentionally.

NOBILO: The driver has been charged with multiple crimes including threatening to kill, harm, or kidnap a president, vice president or family member. There are no reported injuries to any Secret Service or White House personnel.

FOSTER: Writer E. Jean Carroll has asked a judge to amend her defamation case against Donald Trump. She is now seeking a another $10 million in punitive damages. For the very least after he insulted her at the CNN Town Hall about two weeks ago. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They said he did not rape her -- I didn't do anything else either. You know why? Because I have no idea who the hell she is.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Mister president can I -- can I ask --

TRUMP: They said sir, don't do it. This is a fake story and you don't want to give it credibility.

COLLINS: One thing you did do --

TRUMP: And I swear -- and I've never done that and swear that I have no idea who the hell -- she's a whack job.


NOBILO: And there were a lot of discussions about potential legal repercussions to divulgences that he made in that interview.

FOSTER: Considering everything in court that he said before.

NOBILO: Exactly. Carol was awarded $5 million already, earlier this month, after the former U.S. president was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming her. Trump is appealing that verdict.

We're also we are learning that Trump was interested in fighting the U.S. Justice Department subpoena that required him to return classified documents that he should not have had after his time in office.

FOSTER: That's according to multiple sources familiar with notes taken by his lawyer and turned over to investigators. CNN's Paula Reid explains.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: CNN has learned that special counsel Jack Smith has obtained a dozen of pages of notes from Trump attorney, Evan Corcoran. Memorializing conversations that Corcoran had with Trump last spring during a critical period in this investigation. These notes were taken after the Justice Department had issued a subpoena demanding the return of classified materials that they believe or down in Mar-a-Lago.

Now in these notes, Corcoran reveals how his client asked how they could push back on the subpoena. What their options were to fight it. Now we would not have access to these details if the special counsel had not gone to court to fight to get around attorney-client privilege by successfully arguing that Corcoran's advice may have been used in the commission of a crime.

Now the special counsel is looking at whether anyone is trying to obstruct this investigation into the possible mishandling of classified materials. But at least one source did note that the kinds of questions Trump was asking his attorney, were at the kind of questions that you would seek out an attorney to help you understand.

At this point, it is unclear though how these notes will impact the ultimate charging decisions of the special counsel. At this point, CNN believes that the special counsel investigation is in its final phase, but it is unclear when he will deliver his final report.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the Trump organization for information about his business deals with foreign countries, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

NOBILO: One source said investigators appear to be focused on Trump's dealings with countries that could possibly be interested in the classified materials recovered from his home. The Trump Organization had said that it would not strike new deals with foreign countries while Trump was in office.

The governor of Russians Belgorod region says counterterrorism operations are ongoing after a rare attack on Russian soil.

FOSTER: Two groups of anti-Putin Russian fighters aligned with Ukraine are claiming responsibility for that assault in the region which borders Ukraine. CNN's Matthew Chance has the details.


(UNIDENTIFIED MALES speaking in foreign language.)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Russian forces insists they're taking back control from a group of what they call saboteurs infiltrating this leafy border.

These images purporting to show a Russian soldier detaining three of them was broadcast on state media.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): Meet the anti-Kremlin Russians, now taking the fight back home.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): This is how we work, he says. Amid a bold armored raid across the Ukrainian border into Russia itself.


CNN can't independently verify any of the images, but this entire column of vehicles was spotted crossing the frontier. Ukrainian forces insist it's not them but exiled Russian groups fighting against the Kremlin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are Russians just like you. We want our children to grow up in peace and be free so they can travel, study, and be happy. But this is not possible in Putin's Russia.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): And the raid caught Russian border guards unaware. This one tried to be a hero, the narrator says, amid the scattered passports and a portrait of Vladimir Putin overlooking the carnage below.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALES speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): The border is now unlocked, says one of the fighters. Grandpa Putin will soon turn to honey, says the other. In other words, die.

(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE speaking in foreign language.)

CHANCE (voice over): On Kremlin controlled television, the presenters stood like statues as the day's events replay from videos from stunned locals witnessing the fight.

The Kremlin called the attack a diversion, but already there's sharp criticism from Russian hardliners that this was allowed to occur.

This Russian region right next to Ukraine is no stranger to cross border attacks, but armed incursions like this are rare. And the mood here -- according to local Russian officials -- has shifted.

With empty buses coming in to evacuate residents, while those who can are leaving by themselves.

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.


NOBILO: You wonder about, not just the strategic, but the propaganda impact on an attack like that. Especially given that Putin's justification for this war in part was the safety of Russian citizens. Well, they weren't having these attacks on these border towns prior to Putin's invasion.

FOSTER: And if that story gets out in Russian media, how is he going to explain that Russian soldiers are attacking him?

NOBILO: That would be very interesting to see.

FOSTER: Russia's deputy defense -- science minister, rather, has died after feeling ill on a plane on Saturday. That's according to the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The Putin critic was part of a Russian delegation returning from a business trip to Cuba, when the plane made an emergency landing in southern Russia, where doctors unsuccessfully tried to treat him. The cause of death isn't known, but an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

NOBILO: CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is following these developments and joins us now with the latest. Salma, tell us what you know. And also, I was surprised that there would be any latitude for a critic of the Kremlin within the government in Russia.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, throughout this conflict there have been moments where we've heard from, I will give you the example of state-owned energy companies, where Lukoil -- that's the one I'm mentioning here -- openly criticize the conflict in Ukraine. There have been moments of course, especially at the beginning of this conflict, where there have been voices of dissent.

But the result of that has been a string of murky deaths. And this latest death is Pyotr Kucherenko. He's a senior local lawmaker. He is the deputy minister of science and higher education. What we understand took place -- and this is according to the ministry website information page -- is that he was returning from a business trip in Cuba. He fell ill on the plane. The plane landed in southern Russia, right near the border with Georgia. He was treated, and according to the ministry's website, he died. Now, members of his family have indicated potentially that it could've been a heart condition, a heart issue.

But this is being treated as suspicious, because he was known to have criticize President Putin. Most recently to a very prominent journalist, Roman Super, who said he spoke to him just days before this business trip to Cuba. He says that in that phone call, he expressed -- this lawmaker expressed serious concerns about his safety. He said that he was afraid for his life. He said that he was essentially a hostage of the Kremlin, that his passport was taken away, that he had no control of his movements. He said he was distressed and depressed. He is taking tranquilizers antidepressants. So, we're painting a very worrying picture here.

I want to pull up this graphic that shows you about a dozen different officials, businessmen, just since the beginning of last year. So, right around the time of the start of the invasion of Ukraine, who have all died or fell, you know, met their death in an apparent suicide.


I want to bring you the case of one of them, Ravel Maganov, he died in September after falling out the window of a hospital. He was a chairman for one of these energy companies, Lukoil. And he had expressed dissent, criticism, of President Putin's war in Ukraine. Again, Russia is not claiming responsibility. It will not claim responsibility. But they just adds to that climate of fear, that sense that there are consequences if you speak up.

NOBILO: It also wouldn't be the first time that the U.S. or the U.K. intelligence services have identified a suspicious death at the hands of the Kremlin, which ostensibly could appear like a heart condition as well. Salma Abdelaziz, thank you so much for joining us.

FOSTER: Michigan is making it easier for authorities to take guns away from people who pose an extreme risk. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the red flag bill into law on Monday. Courts can consider a number of factors, including a history of violence, mental illness, and use of drugs or alcohol. People who are under the extreme risk order will have two chances within a year to show they're not a threat, and potentially get their weapons back.

NOBILO: In Nebraska, the Republican governor has signed a bill into law that bans most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy and restricts gender affirming care for people younger than 19. The bill passed the states Republican controlled legislature last week in a 33 to 15 vote. The governor hailed it as a significant win for the conservatives.

FOSTER: Another Republican entering the race for the White House, Tim Scott from South Carolina the only Black Republican in the Senate, announced his candidacy on Monday. But he didn't seem prepared to answer a question about how he would differ from the GOP front runner.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will you offer voters that former president Trump will not?

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC) U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the question is who do I -- I'm running for president, period. I plan to win. So, the question is, what to the voters want in their president? They want someone who can persuade on the issues that matter to most of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you ever try to overturn an election you lost?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about President Trump's behavior after the 2020 election into January 6th?

SCOTT: We can do two things here. We have a conversation about President Trump, or we can have a conversation about my vision for the future.


NOBILO: South Carolina Senator joins the state's former governor Nikki Haley in the Republican field. More now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.


SCOTT: My family went from cotton to Congress in his lifetime.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From cotton to Congress, those weighty words form the arc of to Senator Tim Scott's rise and frame the argument for his presidential aspirations.

SCOTT: My grandfather said to me, son, you can be bitter or you can be better. But you cannot be both.

ZELENY (voice-over): As he opened his Republican campaign for the White House in South Carolina, Scott made clear his biography is his message. An optimistic vision for America, he said, is shaped from opportunity, not oppression.

SCOTT: This isn't just my story. It's all of our stories.

ZELENY (voice-over): It's his story Scott believes sets him apart from a growing field of contenders. He's the son of a single mother whom he invited onstage in North Charleston.

SCOTT: Thank you for standing strong in the middle of a fire.

ZELENY (voice-over): And praised her guidance through a challenging childhood and for believing in him when he did not yet believe in himself.

SCOTT: We live in the land where it is absolutely possible for a kid raised in poverty, in a single parent household, in a small apartment to one day serve in the people's house. And maybe even the White House.

ZELENY (voice-over): At 57, he's the only Black Republican in the Senate and the only African American to serve in both chambers of Congress. He was elected to the House in 2010 and appointed to the Senate two years later by then Governor Nikki Haley.

NIKKI HALEY (R), THEN SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: It is very important to me, as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat.

ZELENY (voice-over): Who is now a rival in the GOP primary. Scott won a special election for a Senate seat in 2014. He was elected again in 2016 to a full term and in 2022 seized reelection in a landslide. If elected, Scott could also be the first unmarried president since Grover Cleveland.

Along the way, his faith has been a central tenant.

SCOTT: People will say that our message is naive, that our faith is foolish. But they don't know who they're talking to. Conservatism is my personal proof. There is no ceiling in life.

ZELENY (voice-over): As he presented himself as the candidate offering optimism over anger and hope over grievance. And race is pivotal to his message, using it as a shield and sword and as a warning to Democrats.

SCOTT: I am the candidate the far left fears the most. When I cut your taxes, they called me a prop. When I refunded the police, they called me a token. I disrupt their narrative. I threaten their control. The truth of my life disrupts their lives.

ZELENY: Senator Scott did not mention any of his rivals by name, including the front runner, former President Donald Trump. But he did remind Republican voters that they do face a choice in this primary. He framed it as grievance or greatness.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: TikTok has sued the U.S. state of Montana over its new law that will ban the Chinese owned app, starting next year. TikTok says the move violates the U.S. constitution and other laws, and China calls it as abuse of state power.

NOBILO: Last week, when Montana became the first U.S. state to ban the platform entirely, mandating a daily $10,000 fine on the company or app stores that make it available to personal devices within the state's borders. Critics fear that personal data collected on the app could end up on the hands of Chinese government.

FOSTER: Does not affect many people, particularly TikTok users in the wider scheme of things, but it's an interesting test case, isn't it?

NOBILO: Yes, absolutely.

FOSTER: Disney undergoing its third round of layoffs this year. More than 2,500 jobs will be axed in the latest wave. It's part of a cost cutting initiative by CEO Bob Iger who's trying to save $5.5 billion. This year's cuts have hit Disney's entertainment unit, as well as parks, experiences and product divisions and that will add up to about 3 percent of the company's total global workforce.

NOBILO: Still head, the suspect in the Idaho college student murders appears in court. He stays silent when judge asked how he pleas.

FOSTER: Plus, 16 years after Madeleine McCann disappeared, investigators are once again combing for evidence to find out what happened to the British toddler. We'll explain what sparked this latest search.

NOBILO: And a monster storm threatening a direct hit on Guam is now considered a super typhoon. Meteorologist Britley Ritz is tracking it for us.

BRITLEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The joint typhoon warning center has now issued Mawar a super typhoon, with winds of 155 miles per hour. We'll have the latest track and the impacts to the Mariana Islands, here in just a few minutes.



NOBILO: The powerful storm Mawar has now strengthened to a super typhoon. Warnings remain in effect for the islands Guam of and Rota, with a direct hit on Guam still possible.

FOSTER: Meteorologist Britley Ritz is in the CNN Weather Center with the very latest. Hi, Britley.

RITZ: Hi. Yes, absolutely, we have max winds of 155 miles per hour. That's just two miles per hour shy of a category four storm, on the Saffir-Simpson scale, based on the Atlantic basin. A lot of de- convection around the center, a very clean eye, still rapidly intensifying.

So, it's strengthening as we speak. And it's roughly about 150 miles from Guam. And yes, still slowing down, winds pushing north northwest at eight miles per hour. It's taking on a very warm ocean waters in the mid 80s. That is fuel for this system to really continue to strengthen. What we're hoping for is some up welling, where the cool water gets pushed up to the surface and it can help it weaken a bit. But it's a very slim chance of doing so, with some very warm water.

So, over the next 24 hours, expect winds to increase to 155 to even stronger as it pushes over Guam. Now, don't pay attention to that centerline. Sure, is there a potential direct impact? Yes, but the eye has been wobbling which is why we have a cone. There is still some uncertainty as to where direct landfall will be. That line pushes further back out to sea towards the northern provinces of the Philippines. And yes, strengthening to 160 miles per hour within the next 72 hours.

The first band has already moved through. We're waiting for the next band of rain to push closer to the island. Very light to moderate rain, but still nonetheless, another outer band and a lot of wind with these bands too. Tropical storm force winds 39 plus miles per hour. The eye now showing up on radar. So, some of the heaviest rain still about a day away.

But now it's still the time to prepare for this type of situation. A very dangerous storm ahead of us Wednesday, late Wednesday local time. The heaviest rain staying on the southern end of the island, and finally starting to taper back once we move into Friday. Regardless, we're talking about picking up roughly ten inches of rain over the next five days. And isolated higher amounts are possible. On shore flow causing storm surge as well. We're talking about winds, tropical storm force as early as Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. Typhoon force winds pushing up to about 119 miles per hour here late Wednesday -- Max, Bianca,

FOSTER: Britley, thank you, we'll be watching.

NOBILO: Millions of people in central Mexico have been warned they may have to evacuate due to increased activity for the country's most dangerous volcano. Ash has been spewing into nearby towns since last week, delaying flights in Mexico City and forcing dozens of schools to close. About 25 million people live within 60 miles of the volcano, which is southeast of Mexico City. The volcano had been dormant for decades until erupted back in 1994 and it's been rumbling away ever since. The U.S. embassy has issued a travel advisory for the area.

FOSTER: In Atlanta, four construction workers were hospitalized with minor injuries after a construction crane partially collapsed and smashed through two floors of the building below. This happened at a high-rise that was under construction in the city's danced midtown neighborhood. The area surrounding the site was evacuated, including a fully occupied apartment complex. And several nearby streets were closed to traffic.

Just ahead, newly released surveillance footage from the U.S. Mexico border shows the dangers many migrants face in their journey to the U.S.

NOBILO: And a new tip from a new search for a British toddler who vanished 16 years ago. We'll show you where investigators from three countries are now looking for evidence in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.