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President Biden And Speaker McCarthy Speaking By Phone For Debt Ceiling Deal; Texas House Votes To Impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton; Interview With State Representative James Talarico (D-TX); New York City Officials Highlight Strain Of Migrant Crisis On City's Economy; U.S. Surgeon General: Social Medial Presents Profound Risks For Kids; VP Harris, Tom Hanks Deliver Commencement Exercises. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 27, 2023 - 19:00   ET



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

We are following big developments in two major stories at this hour. A short time ago in Texas, the state's House of Representatives voted to impeach attorney general Ken Paxton. He is accused of bribery and abuse of public trust. The conservative Republican calls the proceedings a politically motivated sham.

Meanwhile here in Washington, we're waiting for details on a phone call that is wrapping up, or may have already wrapped up, between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The debt ceiling talks have reached a crucial moment of sorts, says negotiations are now down to one final sticking point, work requirements for social safety net programs.

The White House and Republican leaders may have as little as eight days -- eight days to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debts. Many experts predict economic disaster if that happens.

Let's begin with the debt talks. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is at the White House. Our Manu Raju is up on Capitol Hill.

Manu, what do you think? Do we think we'll get some kind of readout from the speaker on what was said in this conversation? What are you hearing at this point?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's very possible we could hear from the speaker tonight. He has been speaking with reporters for most of this process going forward, although last night, late in the night as talks were going on, he did slip out of the Capitol without talking to reporters. We'll see if anything happens here.

But this is a significant moment. And these negotiations have hit this critical time because negotiations have essentially been going around the clock between the president's team and the speaker's team, and they have not been able to close out a deal to avoid the first ever default in American history. In large part because of the sticking points that you mentioned, one of which dealing with the issue of so- called work requirements for some social safety programs like food stamps.

But there are also other issues, too, that are still being hammered out including how far to go in imposing spending cuts. Remember the White House didn't want to include any of this at all as part of the dela to raising that national debt ceiling. They simply asked for it to be done without any condition whatsoever. Republicans demanded conditions. Now the White House is negotiating those conditions.

And the question is, can the speaker and can the president finalize those remaining issues that have been unresolved? That's what one key negotiator Patrick McHenry told me right before this phone call took place.


REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): But there is a major disagreement between the two parties. Republicans want to cut spending. That's what we offered with our approach to raising the debt ceiling. We want work requirements for able bodied folks to get back in the workforce. Those things are big issues and there is no way to sort of gloss that over.

RAJU: The point is, they're talking because you guys have not been able to resolve those sticking points so they need to resolve this. That's what you're saying, right? Those two men need to resolve this.

MCHENRY: Most of the issues that remain that they need to resolve.


RAJU: That point is so key. Most of the issues that remained, they need to resolve. Coming from the key negotiator there, Patrick McHenry. The president and the speaker, can they get there? The nation is watching them at this moment because if they are able to come to some sort of consensus on those sticking points that can move the process forward. There would be legislative text that would be unveiled in the hours and maybe days ahead.

Then a vote would happen on the House floor. We'll see if they can get the votes to push it through the chamber. They have to count the votes, whip the members in line, get it to the Senate as well. All big questions now riding on this key phone call happening this moment -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Manu Raju. If Manu is on the clock, there is something big going on up on Capitol Hill. Manu, we'll let you do some reporting. Thanks so much.

And Priscilla Alvarez is over at the White House for us.

Priscilla, what is the latest you're hearing from the White House on your end of things? It sounds like President Biden has been on the phone today. PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, over the course

of the afternoon there was optimism among White House officials about the direction of these talks and echoing the sentiment of President Biden just yesterday that they were very close to a deal.


And all of this of course coming to ahead with this call. A source telling me that that started around 6:00 so it's about an hour now into this. And the big sticking point here as you've heard there from Manu was work requirements for Social Security -- social safety net programs. And so that was something that were needed to still be worked through, and I imagine that that would come up during this call.

Now a source also told me that earlier today President Biden spoke to Democratic leadership including House Minority Leader Jeffries and Senate Majority Leader Schumer. So all of those conversations have been happening over the course of the day as they race against the clock to come to an agreement.

Now we know the position of the White House on those work requirements, that sticking point. Just yesterday a White House spokesperson said that the White House is, quote, "standing against this cruel and senseless tradeoff." Of course this is something that is unlikely to sit well if included with House Democrats who over the course of the weak expressed frustration about it being included.

So that is top of mind for the White House as it tries to reach an agreement with Hill negotiators, of course, knowing that a default would impose catastrophic consequences for the economy, so all of that happening as we speak. Of course as the saying goes, nothing is agreed upon until everything is agreed upon and that is what is happening now -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. President Biden trying to land the plane on this Saturday evening here on Memorial Day weekend.

Priscilla Alvarez, thanks very much.

Some history was made today in Austin, Texas. As the GOP-led statehouse voted overwhelmingly to send 20 articles of impeachment against Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton to the state Senate for trial. Paxton becomes the first Texas official to be impeached in the House of Representatives in nearly half a century. The vote, 121 days, 23 nays, and two voting absent.

CNN's Rosa Flores joins us now from Houston.

Rosa, this vote is just the beginning. Ken Paxton is certainly not out of the woods. And I guess one of the most important things to headline out of all of this, highlight out of all of this is that he is no longer the attorney general right now. Is that right?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're absolutely right. Under the constitution here in Texas, he is suspended from the Office of the Attorney General pending the results of the trial in the Texas Senate. But let me take you inside the Texas House when this impeachment vote happened. Take a listen.


DADE PHELAN (R), TEXAS HOUSE SPEAKER: There have been 121 ayes and 23 nays, two present not voting, three absent. The resolution is adopted. The chair directs the chief clerk to notify the governor of the House's action.


FLORES: Now as you heard there, the yays were 121, the nays 23. Technically the articles of impeachment were House Resolution 2377. And it only needed 75 votes.

Now Ken Paxton taking to Twitter to respond to all of this and he's called this a sham and also illegal. On Twitter he said today, quote, "I am beyond grateful to have the support of millions of Texans who recognize that what we just witnessed is illegal, unethical and profoundly unjust. I look forward to a quick resolution in the Texas Senate where I have full confidence the process will be fair and just."

Now Governor Abbott has the power under the Texas constitution to appoint an attorney general while Ken Paxton is suspended. I've reached out to the governor's office to see if that decision has been made or if an announcement will be made, and I have not heard back.

Now what actually happens in the Senate? We don't know the timing at this point but we do know that the lieutenant governor serves as a judge. There are 31 senators. They serve as jurors. And a two-thirds vote of those present is required for a conviction.

Now, Jim, here's one very interesting detail. One of those senators is Angela Paxton. If that name sounds familiar, it should because she is the spouse of Ken Paxton. Now, some of these articles of impeachment include allegations of an affair. All of this goes back to the donor that is of question in all of these allegations in regards to the settlement involving the whistleblowers.

And so one big question is, what will happen? Will she participate? I've reached out to her office. I have not heard back -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Rosa Flores, making the calls. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Joining us now with more on all this is James Talarico, he is a Democratic member of the Texas House.

Representative, good to speak with you again. You know, I guess in the House you needed, what, 75 yays to refer Paxton for a Senate trial? You got 121.


That is a pretty overwhelming vote in a Republican-led House in favor of impeachment, and you got it.

JAMES TALARICO (D), TEXAS STATE HOUSE: Yes. Thanks for having me, Jim. I just got off the House floor where I cast perhaps the most consequential vote during my time here in the legislature. I joined a bipartisan super majority of my colleagues to impeachment our corrupt attorney general. And now Ken Paxton is effectively removed from office.

ACOSTA: And Paxton continues to get support from national Republican figures. People like Ted Cruz, people like the former President Donald Trump. Trump was posting on his social media site right after the vote. He has vowed he will fight Texas Republicans who supported the impeachment. It sounds though -- I mean, it seems like Trump's endorsement of Paxton really didn't do much down there in Texas. They weren't listening.

TALARICO: You know, I couldn't be prouder of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the Texas House. In this age of extreme partisanship and polarization, Democrats and Republicans came together to hold a corrupt public official accountable.

You know, nobody is above the law, including our top law enforcement official in the state. That's exactly what we showed with this vote. And I hope folks recognize that corrupt public officials like Ken Paxton are the rot at the core of our broken political system. And holding them accountable is our job as elected officials. And I hope that elected officials across the country will take note of what we've done here in the Texas House.

ACOSTA: And Representative, we were hearing earlier today that Paxton himself was allegedly threatening House members with political consequences in the next election if they did not side with him. Did you pick up on any of this? I know you're a Democrat so maybe he knew how you were going to vote. But were some of your colleagues mentioned, hey, this is going on, they're really trying to strong arm us here? What have you picked up on?

TALARICO: Yes. I can confirm that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, some of them were called by Ken Paxton himself while they were on the floor, right before they took this important historic vote. And that to me is just further confirmation of Ken Paxton's corruption. And I think it's even more evidence of his abuse of office.

You know, if a public official betrays the public trust, if they abuse their power, then they should face consequences regardless of what political party they belong to.

ACOSTA: And what do you think is going to happen over in the Texas state Senate? I mean, you need a two-thirds vote to remove Ken Paxton permanently from office. He's suspended right now. He's not the attorney general technically speaking. But do you think that they can pull that off in the Senate or might Ken Paxton survive this?

TALARICO: You know, I hope the Texas Senate follows the lead of the Texas House, and I hope those senators come together on a bipartisan basis to hold Ken Paxton accountable for his corruption. But as you mentioned, Jim, this is different than impeachment proceedings at the federal level because now that the Texas House has voted to impeach the attorney general, he is removed from office.

He is no longer the attorney general, and he can only be reinstated if the Texas Senate takes action. And an impeachment proceeding is less about, you know, trying to punish the guilty. It's more about trying to protect the citizens of Texas. Protect our constituents. And having the top law enforcement official, the top cop on the take, is a danger to every person in the state, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. And our job is to keep our citizens safe. That's exactly what we did today in the Texas House.

ACOSTA: And Paxton faces additional trouble. He's been under an FBI investigation for years. How do you think this end for Ken Paxton? Because, you know, if you look at other channels, you know, he pops up on conservative media and one would not think he's in as much political trouble as he appears to be in right now.

TALARICO: Yes, that's right. This all could have been avoided if Ken Paxton just resigned from office, right, if he just felt basic shame for what he had done. But he doesn't feel shame. In fact he's shameless. He think thinks that his political friends including former President Trump will protect him. The Texas House on a bipartisan basis, Republicans and Democrats, just showed that that's not going to work this time. That we are going to hold him accountable for his corruption and the harm he's done to the people of the state.

ACOSTA: All right. We don't see a whole lot of bipartisanship these days, but we did see it today in Texas on this very important vote of impeachment.

Texas State Representative James Talarico, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.

TALARICO: Thank you, Jim.


ACOSTA: All right. And we are waiting to hear from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy after his call with President Biden this evening. Do we have a deal to avoid a catastrophic debt default? Stay with us for that. We are watching our Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill as he's trying to track this down at this very moment.

Plus, New York City pleading for federal help as the number of immigrants needing shelter is putting a major strain on the city's economy. The eye-popping number that officials predict they'll be needing to spend by next year.

Plus, a new warning from the U.S. surgeon general on the risks of social media for children. And later, a historic moment at West Point. Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman to deliver the military academy's commencement address. Hear her message to the cadettes. We'll have that in just a little while. Stay with us.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


ACOSTA: New York City officials say the migrant surge is putting a huge strain on the city's finances. They estimate the city will spend more than $4 billion to help asylum seekers by July 2024.


Right now more than 44,000 migrants are in the city's care. More than 70,000 have passed through intake facilities.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is live in New York for us.

Polo, officials have asked the state's Supreme Court to suspend parts of the city's Right to Shelter law. What does that mean? What can you tell us?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mainly because that those numbers that you just shared with viewers, Jim. The concern among city officials here is that 45,000 number, which is the total number of asylum seekers, roughly, that they're still caring for, is going to continue to increase. So they're doing two things.

One of them is they're scouring not just the city but also the state for places to potentially put them but also taking this unprecedented and coming with controversial -- controversy, rather, a legal step, petitioning the court to grant them some flexibility in the form of the suspension of portions of their Right to Shelter Law. This has been in place for decades. And at its heart, it basically requires New York City to provide shelter to any homeless individual.

And as you just saw in these numbers, many of them have been asylum seekers. So what they are hoping to do is secure some flexibility and some clarity. Now this has come with some criticism, and as we mentioned some controversy with some critics saying that if they secure this order from the court, that it could allow the city an opportunity to basically skirt around its legal obligations to provide housing for homeless individuals.

But when you hear from the city, from Eric Adams, from his deputy mayor and the list goes on, they say that they are concerned that the system will buckle under its own weight and that this migrant crisis, according to one deputy mayor here in New York, shows no signs of ending any time soon. So they would like this kind of flexibility should they find themselves in a very tight spot where we see, let's say, a bus load of migrants and they have to place them in accommodations that would not adhere to the Right to Shelter Law as it is.

So that's why they're petitioning for this. But again the city insisting that they do not want to basically shut the door in the faces of migrants. But with that mounting price tag that's expected to surpass $4 billion by next summer, then they're worried that if they don't do this, then they could end up in some serious trouble -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you very much.

In the meantime, Roger Waters, have you heard this story? The co- founder of the group Pink Floyd is under criminal investigation in Germany tonight for wearing a costume during a recent concert in Berlin that looked very much like a Nazi uniform. This is what Waters was wearing at the show last week.

It was during a performance of the widely acclaimed Pink Floyd concept album, "The Wall," in which the main character hallucinates he is a fascist dictator in the past. The scene has been understood as a satire against fascism but Waters has been scrutiny as of late over his frequent anti-Israel comments. Germany, for context, we should note, has very strict laws against Nazi symbolism. We'll stay on top of that story.

In the meantime, President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reportedly on the phone tonight trying to hash out a deal to avoid the nation's first ever debt default. We'll discuss the politics playing out behind the scenes. That's next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: A critical development, we think, in the fight to raise the nation's debt ceiling. Sources tells CNN President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are speaking by phone right now or at least they've just wrapped up a phone call. Their call coming at a critical time as negotiators race to finalize an agreement to avoid a first ever national default.

And here with us to discuss this is Republican political strategist Shermichael Singleton and former press secretary to First Lady Jill Biden, Michael LaRosa who also served as special assistant to President Biden.

Shermichael, one of the chief Republican negotiators, Congressman Patrick McHenry, who you know well, he told CNN that McCarthy spoke with the president to resolve some of these last-minute issues. And it's basically coming down to issues that only the two men can really negotiate at this point. Where do you think the discussion --

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think they're going to figure it out. But I want to remind the viewers here, Jim, that McCarthy doesn't have a significant amount of room to maneuver here, Michael, and that's in part because of the Republican caucus. It takes one individual to call his speakership into question.

I've spoken with several individuals who work with some high-ranking members and they said, look, they're not really giving the speaker room. And he would love to maneuver, he would love to try to reach an agreement a lot quicker but he has to keep that in mind, and so my hope, Michael, and you can probably speak to this a bit better, is that the president sort of meets the speaker where he can no longer go.

ACOSTA: Yes, and Michael, I mean, I was speaking with Congressman Maxwell Frost in the last hour and he, you know, said that Republicans are essentially treating this like a hostage negotiation. They're holding the country hostage, as you said, and so on. But he also said we are the hostage. He acknowledged that as Democrats, they feel like they're being held hostage in all of this. Isn't that kind of what's going on right now?

MICHAEL LAROSA, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: It is what's going on. But, fortunately, we have an adult in the room, the president, who has no choice but to -- and the president always said he was always going to negotiate. He just wasn't going to negotiate with a gun to his head and default had to be taken off the table.

You know, this is what the president was made for, right? This is the moment that we -- Democrats chose him in the primary for this particular reason because he was going to be able to get us out of these kinds of situations. His experience, and he has decades of negotiating with the other side. And he's being the president he said he was going to be as a candidate which is going to be, I'm always going to work with the other side. I'll always going to try to get to a compromise. So he is exactly who he always said he was going to be so Democrats shouldn't be surprised by it.

ACOSTA: OK. Shermichael, what about Kevin McCarthy, though? Is he the same kind of deal-maker that Joe Biden likes to think of himself as?


Or is he really not in that kind of position right now, because as you said earlier, he has this very slim majority in the House. There is not a whole lot of wheeling and dealing. We talked to Tim Burchett chat earlier on in this program, and he was essentially saying he's not going to vote for anything. So you have some of those that are just going to move.

SINGLETON: The reality is you may indeed lose have some particularly those in the Freedom Caucus, that expectation has always been there. I think, however, he will still have enough votes to get whatever deal they ultimately get done. It's going to take about three days for members to review it, they've got to write this stuff up to make sure everything's finalized, to get it over to the Senate.

I think the speaker is doing the best job that he can considering what he is dealing with and I'm not necessarily surprised that some of the more hardline Republicans are saying we want stricter work requirements for SNAP benefits and other programs. We want some type of a cap as it pertains to the budget going back to fiscal 2022. The president doesn't want that.

But from my understanding, they have sort of met in the middle with the White House on that. So look, I think this is a good thing for the president to be able to negotiate running for re-election. I think this is a good thing for the speaker trying to get more Republicans elected in 2024. So I think this is a win-win for both sides if they figure this out quickly.

ACOSTA: Yes, Michael, what do you think of this issue that this has basically boiling down to these work requirements, so-called work requirements for social safety net programs. We talked to Maxwell Frost about this, he really did not like that, and it seems to be something that's got a lot of Democrats on the House side, pretty steamed about this. Might it might get to a point where they may not go along with the president or --

LAROSA: It's also not very unfamiliar, right, Republicans bulking at work requirements or wanting tougher work requirements. This is a silly conversation, because the work requirements are already in place. They just want to make it more challenging for people, the most vulnerable people to be able to get subsidies from the federal government and there will be limits that the president will be able to negotiate on that.

He is not going to give away the store, but it's in the Democrats' best interest if the president, the leader of the party negotiates a deal, one of the most successful domestic policy presidents since LBJ that they unite, the party will come out of this much stronger as a united party.

ACOSTA: Okay. And I'm hearing from my colleague, Priscilla Alvarez, they're getting in my ear and telling me that Priscilla Alvarez over at the White House is hearing from a source that President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have wrapped up that phone call, so the call is now over. Now, we are waiting to find out what McCarthy tells reporters.

So our Manu Raju -- if Manu is up on the Hill right now on a Saturday, that means that something serious is going on. So hopefully, we'll hear from Manu. But let me ask you about this because one of the other sticking points, and perhaps it's been ironed out, it sounds like they've worked on this, is trying to push back the debt ceiling extended past 2024.


ACOSTA: How is that going to fly with Republicans? Because they would obviously like to use this as an issue.

SINGLETON: Yes, but let me tell you something --

ACOSTA: Next year.

SINGLETON: Whether it's Ron DeSantis or Donald Trump, either one of those individuals with all of the issues that they're currently dealing with and trying to potentially defeat Joe Biden, will also have to answer to the American public about the debt ceiling.

I'm not necessarily sure, and I know there are some current polling that says most Americans want the president to negotiate with Republicans, that makes sense. However, if we're in the middle of this in 2024, Michael, will voters particularly swing voters blame this on Republicans or Democrats? And that's just a risk that as a political strategist, I would certainly advise Republicans on the House, let's extend this thing for two years. Let's not have our nominee having to deal with this in the middle of a presidential election.

ACOSTA: Will that be a huge sigh of relief over at the White House if this thing can get extended past 2024?

LAROSA: I think so, but I also think one of the strengths of the president is this, is legislating, is governing, is the job of being president, this is what he's good at. So even if we were to have a fight like this in the middle of the election, it would be to everybody's benefit not to be having it because everybody is going to want to be campaigning and raising money and doing everything but this.


LAROSA: And next summer.

ACOSTA: And Shermichael, let me ask you about 2024. We saw this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis jumping in. There was that thing that he did on Twitter the other night, depending on who you talk to, it may not have as well as maybe they had hoped, but some new CNN polling on this reveals former President Trump has consolidated 53 percent of his party where DeSantis has less than half of that.

Obviously, it's way too early, so --


ACOSTA: I feel terrible asking you this question, but has Trump essentially wrapped this up at this point? Or just to say, I mean, if you look at what took place on Twitter, where it just did not go well at all.

SINGLETON: It is a fair question.

ACOSTA: It gave you the sense that -- you know, is anybody going to be able to challenge the former president when you have that kind of a launch?

SINGLETON: Look, it is a fair question. I've worked on three presidential campaigns -- Gingrich, Romney, Carson -- and one of the most important things about the announcement process is, it typically gives that boost. It sort of sends a signal to potential voters that oh my God, there's interest, there's intrigue about this particular candidate. How does the candidate connect with the audience verbally, visually? And we know that DeSantis does not do well at retail politics.


And so I think part of the calculation there from his team was well let's avoid something that's awkward where he doesn't do well. Let's go to Twitter.

Elon Musk and Twitter have sort of become the darling of the conservative right. So I understand it from that perspective.

But next week, we're going to find out when he is in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, whether or not Ron DeSantis has what it takes to go head-to-head against Donald Trump, based upon how he interacts with voters.

This is a big test for him. I've spoken to several donors, mega donors that have given a lot of money to Ron DeSantis. They're going to be watching next week, Jim, to see how he interacts with potential voters and how those voters receive him. And if he messes up, this is not going to be good going forward.

LAROSA: But listen, he did raise $8 million in one day on that announcement day, which is pretty big. I think it's bigger than -- Trump has raised, I think like 16 in a hundred days. Karl Rove was on another network up with his board saying that's pretty impressive, actually.

And you know, you can have --

ACOSTA: His glowing up on the launch pad helped him raise money, I guess.

LAROSA: I don't know, I guess. I mean, $8 million, is quite a bit. But you don't have to have the best rollout and I don't know if it will mean much once the debate starts.

You can be -- you can have the best rollout and some great debate moments like Vice President Harris and she didn't make it to voting season when it came down to it but she had one of the best announcement launches and one of the most talked about debate moments of the 2020 cycle.

SINGLETON: Yes, but that eight million bucks. I mean, we need to unpack this here. I mean, some of that comes from bundlers, we know this for a fact. And for the viewers, those individuals who go out to really wealthy people to get as much money as possible.

And I think we need to really make that clear. President Biden, when he selected Vice President Harris raised $26 million in 24 hours. $8 million is not very impressive, Michael, when you compare it $26 million.

LAROSA: I think, well, I was comparing it to his rival, Donald Trump at the moment in the primary.

SINGLETON: That's fair, but I think we should be clear unpacking that.

LAROSA: I think, Biden on his first day raised six. So I think it's still -- from historical standards, it's pretty good for him.

SINGLETON: I think it's okay. I think it's okay.

ACOSTA: All right, well, we'll see what happens in the days ahead. It's very early.


ACOSTA: There is a lot that can happen.

Gentlemen, thank you very much.

SINGLETON: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: Really appreciate it.

A new warning from the US Surgeon General, why he says social media has a profound risk for harming our children. We will about that next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: The US Surgeon General this week called social media a profound risk of harm for children, and now there is an urgent push for lawmakers and tech companies to take action.

Our medical correspondent, Meg Tirrell has more.

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this advisory really aims to call attention to the fact that we don't have a lot of research into the impacts on mental health of social media use among kids.

I mean, you look at the ubiquity of social media for kids under the age of 18, it is really just everywhere. The advisory cites a study showing that 95 percent of kids between ages 13 and 17 report using social media, although the 13 is the minimum age for a lot of these sites, between the ages of eight and 12, forty percent of kids report using social media.

So there is just a lot of use, and the surgeon general points out there's not enough data to say that this is safe. They look at the available research and they conclude there are some benefits like helping kids find communities, particularly kids who are marginalized, but they detail a huge number of risks as well, including studies showing the correlation between social media use and depression and anxiety, interruption of healthy habits like getting enough sleep, online harassment, and low self-esteem.

So this is something that they are calling for more research on and for policymakers to step in here. They're also calling on the tech industry to be more transparent with its data.

The social media companies say that they have already put measures in place to make their products safer for kids. They also have guidance for parents on how kids can use their sites safely, but the pressure is going to continue to mount.

The surgeon general told me that they've heard from researchers that they have trouble getting the companies to really share all of their data, so they are calling on them to be more transparent. In the meantime, they're giving some tips for families and parents to

put into place right now to try to protect their kids. Things like establishing a family media plan, having times when there are tech free zones, maybe around dinnertime, or especially overnight to enable kids to get enough sleep, modeling social media responsibility ourselves, putting the phone down -- that is something that is so hard for so many of us.

Teaching kids about technology, reporting cyberbullying if it happens, and then banding together with other parents. The surgeon general said strength in numbers, that is something that's really important, something we can all work on together.

ACOSTA: All right, Mig Tirrell, thanks.

And joining us now is Dr. Andrea Bonior. She's a psychology professor at Georgetown University. Thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

You know, the surgeon general claim there is not enough evidence to determine whether social media is safe enough for kids' mental health. But obviously, everybody is concerned about this issue.

What kinds of specific effects are we seeing that you can talk about?


ACOSTA: When it comes to this issue, when it comes to kids' mental health. I mean, I'm a parent, I worry about it. Every parent worries about it, I think. It is on our minds.

BONIOR: Yes. We have some correlational data that just really looks concerning, essentially -- and this is worldwide, so not even just in the United States.

We really see the association of depression and anxiety rising with social media use rising, and it has been a very concerning problem because obviously social media use is growing and growing.

As that data that was just mentioned, more than a third of teenagers say they're on social media almost constantly, which is a tremendous problem, and we have to think about it in terms of what social media is taking way from and also what it is doing.


So for instance, it is taking away from things like sleep, things like in-person time, things like being able to have the social skills that we're typically wanting kids to develop, and then also, it is adding things like predatory content, like body image dissatisfaction. So we have to look at both sides of those.

ACOSTA: I need an app that lets me turn off my kids' phone. That's just like, we'd love to have an app that just, boop, it's off. I mean, are there -- BONIOR: There are some available, and I think that's the type of thing

that we need to use and we need to think about just how to talk to our kids about it. So not just sort of laying down the hammer, but really explaining why is this problematic? How does it make you feel? What do you notice about yourself? What are you concerned with?

Because one of the things that we're seeing in the data is that kids themselves are saying, yes, I don't feel so great.

ACOSTA: They acknowledge it.

BONIOR: They acknowledge it. Yes.

ACOSTA: And according to the surgeon general's advisory, kids ages 13 to 17 use social media almost universally, it gets to what you were just saying that they're on it all the time.

How did we get to this point? I mean, it just sort of --

BONIOR: Right. Right.

ACOSTA: We just woke up one day and our kids are on their phones all the time.

BONIOR: Yes, well, I think the pandemic went really a long way for making that happen. It accelerated this trend, no doubt, because kids couldn't even leave the house. So I feel like we were on this road before the pandemic, and then during the pandemic, it was like zooming a hundred miles per hour to just make these changes happen more quickly and more intensely.

The other thing are the individual norms, and this is where parents can make a difference, right? Your actual child's peer group, if you're able to think about, can I talk with other parents and say, can we hold off on the smartphone? Or can we make it so that nobody is texting after 8:00 PM? Or whatever it might be.

Those individual norms are so important, because that's how we make small steps toward change.

ACOSTA: And the state of Montana going after TikTok, is that just going to turn it into the forbidden fruit for kids there and in other states that are considering this sort of thing?

BONIOR: Yes. That is a concern.

ACOSTA: Aren't they going to figure out a workaround?

BONIOR: They are going to figure out a workaround, and I think, again, we need to empower these kids to really think about it so that they can get on board with setting limits for ourselves, and we need to practice what we preach.

ACOSTA: Oh, gosh, yes. There is that. All right, Dr. Andrea Bonior, thank you very much. Still ahead, Vice President Kamala Harris' message to West Point

cadets as she becomes the first woman to address their commencement. Plus, advice from Tom Hanks to Harvard's new grads.


TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Now a kooky uncle once said to me, we should all stay in school as long as we can, because the moment we graduate, we have to work every day for the rest of our lives.




ACOSTA: It is graduation season and on college campuses across the nation, the commencement address remains a cherished tradition.

Today, Vice President Kamala Harris became the first woman to deliver a commencement address at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York. Here is some of that message.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To all the cadets here today, you stand on the broad shoulders of generations of Americans who have worn the uniform, including many barrier breakers and trailblazers.

In fact, this year you celebrate the 75th anniversary of the integration of women in the military, as well as the desegregation of our military. These milestones are a reminder of a fundamental truth: Our military is strongest when it fully reflects the people of America.

West Point, each and every day, America's servicemembers demonstrate extraordinary skill, dedication, and discipline. They are willing to sacrifice everything to protect the lives and liberty of people they may never meet, and I believe there is no more noble work that a person can do than to serve our nation in uniform.

And today then, to the class of 2023, you join the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen.


ACOSTA: And actor, Tom Hanks delivered the sendoff to the 2023 graduating class at Harvard and here is what he had to say.


HANKS: Without having done a lick of work, without having spent any time in class, without once walking into that library in order to have anything to do with the graduating class of Harvard, its faculty or as a distinguished alumna, I make a damn good living, playing someone who did.

It's the way of the world, kids.

Now a kooky uncle once said to me, we should all stay in school as long as we can because the moment we graduate we have to work every day for the rest of our lives. Now that uncle was you know, a bit bitter but he was not wrong.


We all get to complain about the man and we all have debts we've got to pay, and we're all entitled to a day off to lay about, but the work that is called for that we must do has no expiration date.

It is the construction of our more perfect union and that job will never ever be completed. It's one that requires rigorous attention, unfading wherewithal, and all hands.

The work is the keeping of the promises of our Promise Land, the practice of decency, the protection of freedom and the promotion of liberty for all, with no exceptions.


ACOSTA: The great Tom Hanks. He also told the graduates that truth is sacred and unalterable, but too many people choose to embrace ignorance and intolerance.

Still ahead, a source tells CNN, a call tonight between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on how to avoid a debt default has wrapped up.

What did they talk about? Do we have a deal?

A live report from the White House and Capitol Hill is coming up next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.