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Biden And McCarthy Expected To Finalize In Principle Debt Deal Today; NYC Says It Can't Support Mass Influx Of Asylum Seekers; Police: New Mexico Rally Shooting Began With Gang-on-Gang Confrontation. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired May 28, 2023 - 15:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right, new today, President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are talking about their agreement in principle to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

At any moment now, the two are expected to speak on the phone to finalize the deal and the text of the bill is expected to be released sometime today.

Just a short time ago, the President had this to say about the negotiations.


REPORTER: Mr. President, are you confident this deal will get to your desk?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. Look, I am about to call McCarthy now at three o'clock to make sure every -- all the T's are crossed and I's are dotted. I think we're in good shape.

REPORTER: What are the sticking points?

BIDEN: None.

REPORTER: Should all Democrats vote for this bill?


WHITFIELD: Still anyone's guess if the House has enough votes to get this bill to the president's desk, but Speaker McCarthy says he is confident the deal will pass.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Just to take you back to where we all started, back to February 1st, I sat down with the president. I said let's work together to be able to raise the debt ceiling, but curb the amount of spending, to let America be able to work again, cut red tape, get some work requirements to help people get back into work. I think this agreement frames all that from limit, save, grow.

It doesn't get everything everybody wanted, but that's in divided government. That's where we end up. I think it's a very positive bill.

We did a conference call with our conference and over 95 percent were overwhelmingly excited about what they see. They haven't had -- they're getting the text today in the process.

Look, in every single negotiation when it comes to debt and others, we get both sides of the party voting to pass the bills and I expect the same thing to happen.


WHITFIELD: All right, we've got teams covering all the latest developments. Let's go to CNN's Priscilla Alvarez at the White House first.

Priscilla, so what more is the administration saying about how it got done?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Fred, there's clearly some optimism today about where this deal is. Now, of course, we haven't seen the text of it just yet. But it has been a critical 48 hours here in Washington as both sides race against the clock to reach an agreement.

On Friday, President Biden on his way to Camp David said they were very close to a deal and expressed some optimism. And then yesterday, the White House negotiators as well as Hill negotiators were talking on the phone and virtually as they tried to strike this deal, and it eventually happened with a call between President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy where they reached that deal in principle, we're told according to sources.

Now, they are expected to speak again. President Biden told us, reporters that they were going to talk at 3:00 PM to what he said is dot the I's and cross the T's. He also, when asked about whether there was any sticking points said "none."

But of course, that has been the question looming over the White House, it is can they also get consensus among House Democrats, especially on some of these issues, like expanding work requirements, some of which we've slowly learned about but we're still waiting for the text.

But the bottom line in the message that the White House has been sending is that there were concessions on both sides as they tried to reach this deal and avert a debt default.

After yesterday's announcement of a deal in principle, President Biden said the following in a statement. He said: "It is an important step forward that reduces spending while protecting critical programs for working people and growing the economy for everyone. And the agreement protects my and congressional Democrats' key priorities and legislative accomplishments." "The agreement," it goes on to say, "Represents a compromise, which

means not everyone gets what they want. That's the responsibility of governing."

So the White House on the phone today with Democratic leaders and Democratic members of Congress to read them in on the deal and to get their support and that will ultimately be the question as expected to close the deal is how much support it will get as it moves on to the next phase of this and perhaps one of the more difficult ones in terms of getting this on the House floor in a vote.

WHITFIELD: All right. Priscilla, thank you so much.

Now to CNN's Eva McKend.

So, Eva, there's a lot of optimism, but of course there's also some skepticism on Capitol Hill about whether they can agree to this and vote and get it to the president's desk.


What you're seeing is both sides really in spin mode, the leadership teams at least trying to put a positive framing on this, but who it is really going to come down to is the rank and file members. If the rank and file members in both parties are going to support this deal, and what we have seen thus far is some conservative members in a pretty high-profile fashion come out and blast this deal.


And then less publicly, there is concern among progressives, specifically on this issue of work requirements, something that they thought was going to be a non-starter.

Nonetheless, Hakeem Jeffries says that he's feeling pretty good -- indicates he is feeling pretty good about this deal. Take a listen.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): The fact that there will be Democratic support once we have the ability to actually be fully briefed by the White House, but I'm not going to predict what those numbers may ultimately look like.

We have to go through a process consistent with respecting every single member of the House of Representatives and their ability to fully understand the resolution that has been reached.


MCKEND: So Jeffries indicates the votes will be there among Democrats. McCarthy says that the votes will be there ultimately, among Republicans.

Let's actually take a look at what is in this deal, most consequentially, it raises the debt ceiling for two years. It caps federal spending this year and next. There are no cuts to military or veterans, that, of course, politically unpopular on both sides.

There are tougher work requirements, which I alluded to before, that's very unpopular with Democrats for food stamps and that is in limited cases.

It reduces the new IRS funding, that of course, Democrats aimed to go after wealthy folks to recapture those funds, well, all of those funds now not on the table, and it also claws back unused COVID relief funds.

So we're going to get a better sense of what precisely is in this deal. Right now, it is all a framework. The devil is in the details and once we get a bill text, Fred, we will be able to report more.

WHITFIELD: All right, Eva McKend, Priscilla Alvarez. Thanks to both of you, appreciate it.

All right, so one of the lead, Republican negotiators of this deal spoke today on CNN about how this was all able to come together and how he expects his party will vote in the days ahead.

Here are some of his interview with Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" today.


REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): Late last night, a new provision was agreed to by the White House and the speaker whereby we're going to unlock American energy. We are going to provide shot clocks for NEPA review, environmental review of 12 months and 24 months. That is going to help whether you like renewable energy or traditional energy. This is going to help unlock that energy --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Speed up the process.

JOHNSON: Speed up the process, you know, Germany and France the same kind of project they would get done in two years. It takes us seven years, Jake, so we do need reform here.

And obviously Democrats like Buttigieg and Manchin have talked about doing this. Well, now we're going to get it done.

And then finally, just a big thing. It's administrative pay goal. When you have the administration step forward and propose some vast new regulation that's going to cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Now, they have to go find the money within the existing bureaucracy. It is a huge strike against a growing regulatory state.

TAPPER: Yes, that's one of the things that members of Congress complain about the most, not just with Democratic administrations, but Republicans passing a law and not allocating money to make sure the law it goes through.

We're hearing a lot of grumbling from conservatives in your caucus. Congressman Ken Buck called this deal a debt ceiling surrender. Congressman Ralph Norman said it was insanity. Congressman Bob Good tweeted that no one claiming to be a conservative could justify a yes vote.

Their basic criticism is that McCarthy gave up too much and could have gotten more. What do you say to that?

JOHNSON: Well, I'm the head of a group of 75 pragmatic conservatives called the Main Street Caucus and so when we say conservatives are against it, I want to make it clear, I don't know a single one of the mainstream caucus conservatives --

TAPPER: House Freedom Caucus Conservatives, I should say.

JOHNSON: Well, and even some of them, listen, there will be Freedom Caucus people who will vote for this package. So when you're saying that conservatives have concerns, it is really the most colorful conservatives.

Some of those guys you mentioned didn't vote for the thing when it was kind of a Republican wish list to limit the same goal. Those votes were never really in play. We get that, but overwhelmingly Republicans in this conference are going to support the deal. How could they not? It is a fantastic deal.

TAPPER: How many votes do you think you're going to get? How many votes can you afford to lose?

JOHNSON: We're starting the whipping process now. I have talked to maybe between two and three dozen Republican numbers. I have not heard a single one of them tell me I can't support that.

TAPPER: Well, I just gave you the names of three you can call maybe.

JOHNSON: Well --

TAPPER: Buck, Norman, and Good who have some thoughts.

JOHNSON: I'm not sure having Dusty Johnson call Bob Good is the perfect way to get his vote, but let's be honest, Bob Good will not vote for this thing and it doesn't matter if Mother Teresa came back from the dead and called him, he is not voting for it. He was never going to.

We're good -- this is going to pass.

TAPPER: So 70 members of the Main Street Caucus that you mentioned, are they all going to vote for it, do you think?


JOHNSON: I would be surprised. I mean, I haven't talked to every single one of them, but everybody I'm talking to, Jake, understands that when you're reducing spending, that when you're peeling back the regulatory state, when you are unlocking American energy, when you're getting people back to work, this is a big deal. TAPPER: What concessions did McCarthy make to Biden and Democrats to

get it across the finish line?

JOHNSON: That is kind of the amazing part to me. There were no wins for Democrats. If you look at the state of policy today in this country, and you say, okay, we're going in to do a deal and one side is going to get half, the other side is going to get half. Republicans will pull their half this way, Democrats will pull their half that way.

There is nothing after the passage of this bill that will be more liberal or more progressive than it is today. It's a remarkable conservative accomplishment.

TAPPER: Are you going to need Democratic votes to get it passed in the House?

JOHNSON: There will be some Democrats who will vote for this.

TAPPER: But will you need them, I guess, is my point?

JOHNSON: Well, we are like 222 Republicans.

TAPPER: Right.

JOHNSON: I think it is certainly plausible that we can get 218. Although I think it's going to look a lot better for this country, if we can put a big number up on the board.

Democrats like Joe Biden, and some in the House coming together with Republicans to pass this, that's going to be better for the country.


WHITFIELD: Four Democrats, especially in the Progressive Caucus, the deal is not a slam dunk. House progressive chair, Pramila Jayapal had this warning on CNN's "State of the Union."


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-IL): I think it's going to come down to what the legislative text is. I think at the end of the day, though, the American people have to understand that we are at the brink of default, we don't have a deal yet. We're not sure how many Republican votes can be produced. And it is all because Republicans said that they wanted to cut the deficit.

And let's be clear that what they got from this was not that. They may have gotten other things, I'm not happy with some of the things I'm hearing about, but they are not cutting the deficit and they are not cutting spending because if you think about the fact that they've agreed to increase Pentagon spending, number one, they've agreed to increase VA spending, number two.

And while there are some fiscal -- you know, calculations that are being made around what non-Defense discretionary spending is, and by the way, for people that are listening to that, that's a lot of mumbo jumbo. That's basic spending on things like health care, education, child care, all the things you care about is what Republicans want to cut.

And they even took back $10 billion from the IRS that was supposed to go to taking on wealthy tax cheats in order to make regular Americans pay for wealthy people to be able to continue to get tax breaks.

So I think that, you know, you've got to ask yourself, what was all the drama for? Because they didn't get what they said they wanted, we knew that was never actually what was on the table.

TAPPER: So the deal, as you know expands food stamp work requirements for able-bodied adults under 55 who do not have dependents. This goes throughout 2030. This excludes veterans and those experiencing homelessness.

You have said that your caucus would not support a bill with work requirements that "hurt poor people." Does this deal do that? Is this a deal breaker for you?

JAYAPAL: I don't know because I haven't seen the language, and what -- first of all, let me say, terrible policy, absolutely terrible policy. It does not reduce spending, actually, by some estimates, creates a burden on administrative spending that is actually worse for you know, for the overall cost of a program like that.

Number two, it is about people who are hungry, people who just need a little bit of temporary assistance. And we are one of the only countries in the world, if not the only country in the world that is an industrialized country that puts any requirements on people who just want food.

So very bad policy, it does not save money, and by the way, it does not work. We've seen reams of data that show that when you put these work requirements in, they are really just administrative red tape that will prevent the people who need help from getting help.

What I'm not sure on and what I'm looking at right now, and I need to see the legislative text is what it means in terms of the exemptions that were put in for veterans, for folks who are experiencing homelessness, for people who are coming out of foster care. Those are three exemptions that were included.

And so what do the numbers look like at the end of the day? I'm not sure. However, it is bad policy.

I told the president that directly when he called me last week on Wednesday. This is saying to poor people and people who are in need that we don't trust them and the average amount of assistance for SNAP for example is $6.00 a day, Jake. We are talking about $6.00 a day and I think it is really unfortunate that the president opened the door to this, and while at the end of the day, you know, perhaps this will -- because of the exemptions, perhaps it will be okay. I can't commit to that, I really don't know.


And our caucus -- and it's not just the progressives, across the ideological spectrum, including problem solvers, by the way, people feel that this is bad policy. So, it is very unfortunate that it has even made its way into the discussion, frankly.

TAPPER: But what I'm hearing from you, though, is that if the exemptions are as I described, which, for homeless, for veterans, it's possible that you're willing to hold your nose and vote for it to avoid a default. And again, it all depends on what you see in the text, like nobody should take anything as cemented --

JAYAPAL: I just --

TAPER: Go ahead.

JAYAPAL: That's right. That's right. No, I just don't know because the numbers of people that are affected are -- you know is really what this is -- we have to look at that and if there is --

Anyway, I don't I don't want to get into suppositions because I just need to see the text.


WHITFIELD: Congresswoman Jayapal went on to say that Democratic leaders should be worried about progressive support given some of the concessions made.

All right, coming up, New York City officials say they are overextended and can't continue supporting the influx of migrants.

Up next, CNN goes inside the Muslim community center where a common space has been transformed to accommodate migrants.

Plus, an alleged gang-related shooting on an Annual Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally leaving three people dead. We are learning new details about how the incident unfolded, next.



WHITFIELD: New York City says it cannot continue to support the hundreds of asylum seekers arriving in the city every day. New York Mayor Eric Adams is asking a judge to suspend portions of the city's so-called Right to Shelter law in order to control the influx of migrants being bused from the southern border.

Today, officials telling CNN that the city plans to use a former correctional facility to house some of the migrants. Over 70,000 asylum seekers have come through the city's intake centers since last spring. Officials say $4.3 billion will be spent on the crisis by July 2024.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joining me now with more on this. Polo, what else is New York doing to house the thousands of migrants?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Fred, this latest development is part of the ever evolving strategy that New York City officials have been having to really take on as they try to keep up with the housing demand of these asylum seekers that continue to arrive by hundreds a day.

A city spokesperson telling me that in the coming days, they will be utilizing a facility in Harlem that has been previously used to house Jewish immigrants in the 1940s, used to house soldiers but also used as a correctional facility that it also will be used as a space to house the newly arrived migrants as New York City officials saying that this migrant crisis has no end in sight.


SANDOVAL (voice over): Just below New York's bustling Brooklyn interstate, this brick building offers shelter in the face of New York City's ongoing migrant crisis.

SONIYA ALI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MUSLIM COMMUNITY CENTER: We have 17 migrants that are staying with us and so basically, each bed is their living space.

SANDOVAL (voice over): Soniya Ali helps run the Muslim Community Center which she says for the last nine months or so has collectively offered respite to 75 asylum seekers of all faiths, as New York City struggles to keep up with the demands of housing nearly 45,000 homeless migrants, this organization does what he can to help shoulder that weight, all while hoping to live up to the guiding principle that's painted outside.

ALI: As a Muslim, it's an obligation upon us to help house you know, migrants and people who are travelers and basically we decided to, you know, take that step.

SANDOVAL (voice over): Ali was five when her family emigrated to the US from Kashmir.

ALI: I can definitely understand what they're feeling when they talk about, you know, their families and their children that they have left behind or their you know, wives or whoever it is that they have left behind, I understand that because I do have family members that are back home that are not here and you do feel that sense of longing.

So I understand that part of their journey and their situation.

SANDOVAL (voice over): Ali says her community center is among the faith-based organizations that have applied to team up with the city of New York starting this summer.

A local government official familiar with the city's planning tells CNN the city will soon announce the program that seeks to open up to 50 faith-based shelters starting in July, each offering about 19 beds. The goal, the official says is to count on at least 950 additional

beds for asylum seekers by the fall. However, institutions will have to meet building codes to house large groups, the official says. For Ali, that means installing fire sprinklers.

ALI: This is something that might take a little bit longer than we expected. From what I was told, or what I'm aware of is that there's two slots, June and September. We were hoping for June, but it doesn't look like it, so we're probably going to be approved in September.

SANDOVAL (voice over): The plan to use some of New York City's houses of worship comes as the city and state are forced to get creative to expand shelter space.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): There are some schools that have empty dorms. There are some schools that are not reopening. There are former correctional facilities, which are not ideal, but that is space, if we can change the environment.

SANDOVAL (voice over): As some new and unusual options emerge, faith- based communities are already offering sanctuary.

ALI: Spiritually, it has been humbling to hear the stories and to be able to know that we're making a difference in these individuals' lives.


SANDOVAL (on camera): Ali there, really expanding on the faith community element in all of this, but back to what we heard today from the city of this former correctional facility, this 10,000 square foot facility that originally opened in the early 1900s meant to receive newly arrived Jewish migrants in 1942, then used by the Army to house soldiers. It is really just unoccupied since 2019, Fred, and the city and the states, they have been working to find any space available.


So again, it just reminds us that they are having to get extremely creative in terms of trying to find at least a temporary Band-Aid to the hundreds of asylum seekers that are still arriving here every day.

WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, the now suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is calling his impeachment vote a "politically motivated sham."

The Republican-led State House of Representatives pushed out the third term AG from his role, citing evidence of corruption and abuse of power. Paxton is the first attorney general in Texas to be impeached.

Rosa Flores has more on the looming state Senate trial where Paxton will find out his fate.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ken Paxton has been impeached by the Texas House of Representatives and under the Texas Constitution, that means that he is immediately suspended and that the governor of Texas has the power to appoint a replacement, but let me start by taking you inside the Texas House for this historic vote.

DADE PHELAN, TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Of all members voted, there have been 121 ayes and 23 nays, two present, non-voting; three absent. The resolution is adopted.

FLORES: This is a case of Republicans policing Republicans in the state of Texas.

In the state of Texas, Republicans lead the House and the chairman of the committee that investigated Ken Paxton is also a Republican and he issued this statement after the vote saying in part: "Throughout the course of the investigation, we discovered numerous activities that constitute unethical and potentially criminal conduct. These violations of the public trust are alarming and show a systemic pattern of behavior that every member of our committee felt needed to be addressed in a public forum."

Now this vote is already historic because Ken Paxton is the first attorney general in the state of Texas to ever be impeached. Now, there was another bombshell during the hours' long debate leading up to this historic vote, and that was when several members said in open forum that members of the House had received calls from Ken Paxton threatening them that if they voted yes, there would be political consequences.

There was concern about that, so much so that one of the House members took to Twitter saying in part: "I will be submitting a journal statement to amend charge documents to include abuse of power, intimidation of House members, and Senate jury tampering in light of Charlie Geren's statements that AG Paxton called and threatened House and Senate members."

Now I asked Paxton's office about this, and I did not hear back. But Ken Paxton did take to Twitter in response to his impeachment, saying in part: "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."

So what happens in the Texas House? What we know is that the lieutenant governor serves as judge, the 31 senators serve as jurors and that a two-thirds vote of those senators who are present is required to convict.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Houston.


WHITFIELD: Thank you, Rosa. All right, coming up, new details about a gang-related shooting that

left three people dead in New Mexico. We'll bring you the latest next.



WHITFIELD: At least three people are dead and five more injured in a shooting at a Memorial Day motorcycle rally in the New Mexican town of Red River. The police chief there says the violence started after a confrontation between outlaw biker gangs.

One suspect has been charged with murder. He was injured in the shooting and is currently hospitalized.

CNN's Mike Valerio is following the latest for us. So Mike, bring us up to speed here.

MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Fred, in the past couple of minutes, we just spoke with the mayor of Red River and she really set the scene.

This is a town of fewer than 500 people and for generations, they have had this motorcycle rally, Memorial Day, every single year. You see the map right there of the location of Red River and she told us that families, motorcycle enthusiast come to this rally every Memorial Day weekend.

But there's also a thread, there is also a tributary of biker gangs who have started coming to this event and that sort of led to a crescendo of criminality yesterday with now three people dead and others injured.

So as we take you through what happened yesterday around 5:00 PM in Red River, this is near the New Mexico-Colorado border, three people killed, five others injured. One victim airlifted to a Denver hospital, others treated in nearby Taos and Albuquerque, and no ongoing threat to public safety.

And Fred, what exactly that means is law enforcement told us that this is a shooting between two rival criminal biker gangs rather than members of the public or other members of the public being targeted here, and it has had a huge impact on businesses.

So we spoke to the mayor on that front. Here is what she told us. Listen.



MAYOR LINDA CALHOUN, RED RIVER, NEW MEXICO: Businesses were having record breaking days on Friday and Saturday, so this is a huge economic impact to our community.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VALERIO: You've got to have so much sympathy because Red River looks

forward to this every single year, so most of the businesses along this idyllic Main Street are closed, businesses have run out of food. No alcohol is being served. That is the strong suggestion from the town, this prohibition that's been put in place.

Authorities are asking most businesses to stay closed and one person is under arrest, charged with murder.

But again, the mayor here is saying that if there are still families who are in town, this is a gang-on-gang crime, and that they should stay. Their biggest day is expected to be tomorrow, but just such a tragic unfortunate thing to befall little Red River, New Mexico -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, lots of serious activity.

All right, Mike Valerio, thanks so much.

VALERIO: You bet.

WHITFIELD: All right, meantime no injuries are reported after a fire erupted at a marina in Arlington, Virginia overnight. Video from DC fire and EMS showing flames and smoke rising into the air at the Columbia Island marina on the Potomac River.

Firefighters say they used foam to knock out the fire. At least three boats and several docks are damaged. At this time, still not clear on what caused the fire.

And Ukraine's military says Russia has launched a massive drone attack, mostly targeting the capital of Kyiv. We will head there next and hear how Ukraine's air defenses were able to knock most of them down.



WHITFIELD: Ukraine's military says Russia has launched a massive drone attack overnight. Most were aimed at the capital of Kyiv.

For weeks now, Russia has been intensifying its strikes and cities across Ukraine.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more from Kyiv.


Well, the Ukrainians are calling this one of the largest attacks using those Iranian-made Shahed drones since Russia's full on invasion of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military is saying that of 59 Shahed drones, they were able to take down 58 of those, so a huge success rate there for the Ukrainian military. And the largest part of those drones apparently were directed at this area, Kyiv, and the surrounding areas, now certainly where people who were harmed in this, two people were killed mostly by debris from destroyed drones falling to the ground.

There were also a bunch of buildings that were damaged in this area, one fairly large warehouse was damaged and partially caught fire as well.

It is a pretty dramatic video that came out from the Chernihiv region, that's in the north of Ukraine, of border guards there apparently firing into the sky, and then as they put it, taking down one of those Shahed drones, obviously firing a lot of bullets to take the Shahed down.

And certainly that's something that hasn't gone unnoticed by Ukraine's president as well. He came out today in one of his addresses, and he praised those fighting against this threat of those drones, calling them heroes.

At the same time, the Ukrainians obviously pretty angry at Iran, for allowing Russia to have those drones. An adviser to the presidential administration here in Ukraine warned Iran that there could be retaliation from Ukraine after the Iranians gave the Russians those drones -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Fred Pleitgen in Kyiv, thank you so much.

All right, still ahead, scientists are trying to figure out why a group of orcas is apparently attacking boats off the southern European coast. I'll talk with a killer whale researcher, next.



WHITFIELD: All right, scientists are scratching their heads as to why orcas are attacking and sinking boats off the coast of southern Spain.

This video showing killer whales slamming into a sailboat damaging the rudder and tearing a hole in the bottom. Spanish authorities towed the ship back to port.

Orcas had been sinking three or have sunk three boats earlier this year and there have been other attacks as well. Spanish authorities are warning sailors to immediately leave the area if they see any strange behavior.

I want to bring in now killer whale researcher, Dr. Deborah Giles for more perspective on this and people don't call you doctor, but instead Giles.

So Giles, good to see you.

DR. DEBORAH GILES, KILLER WHALE RESEARCHER: Hi, thank you for having me. WHITFIELD: Wonderful. So there are a lot of theories out there. That

in one case, a female orca was traumatized by a boat collision and began, you know, taking it out on other ships. And then fellow orcas kind of learned how to follow suit on that.

Another theory is that, you know, this simply is a game that juvenile orcas are playing for fun. So what do you think is going on?

GILES: I tend to be more in the camp of the second probability there where the whales have picked up this behavior. They do learn from each other. They are incredibly social animals. They are smart and can pick out behaviors quickly.

I'm in that camp of play as opposed to say, an aggressive thing, because I believe, given what we know about killer whales, in general, if they were really trying to take a boat down, they would be hitting it harder, they would be hitting it, I think in a more concerted effort. There seems to be a lot of interest in the rudder in the underside of the boat that the whales are focusing on.

And the other thing that really makes me feel that it's more of a play thing with the boat is that when the boats have become completely disabled by sinking, something like that, then people are transferred to a smaller boats, the whales leave. They don't continue their interaction with the second vessel.

WHITFIELD: Oh, interesting.

GILES: And so, I do you think that it's more of a plaything as opposed to an aggressive thing?

WHITFIELD: Right. So maybe they really don't want to interact with humans, but these boats look fun, you know, from below the surface. I mean, that sounds like what you're saying here because, just as you mentioned, I mean, these are very powerful animals. I mean, they are known to be very aggressive, and stealth like, right, when hunting.

And so perhaps this unusual activity has something to do with maybe the fact that there are a whole lot more of these vessels that are in the waterways where they happen to be a swimming, traversing, and then you get them together. And while they think it's fun, it's traumatizing for the boaters, the vessels, those people on the vessels.


GILES: Absolutely. I can't imagine what it would be like to be on a boat and have that interaction kind of, and it seems like for some folks, it's over the course of several hours, it would be quite scary.

But again, I think that given what we know about killer whales in other parts of the world, this part of the world in particular, we've just not seen that kind of aggression, even when the whales have been targeted, in some cases by being shot at over decades, and you know, in some cases, during the capture era, whales were captured. There is one famous incident where scientists, in order to document that we could actually tell these whales, year after year, as individuals, they took a pocket knife, one of them took a pocket knife and carved out two triangles in the trailing edge of the dorsal fin.

Also, the southern resident fish eating killer whales back during the capture era, every single one of them was rounded up multiple times. And these whales saw their family members being taken right out of the wild and put into -- you know, taken away. And yet all of those incidents never has led to any of the whales in this region, "attacking boats."

And so -- and it just kind of speaks to the playful nature, they have a curiosity streak and they do learn from each other and they do adopt behaviors that spread through the population, seemingly popping up out of nowhere, and often disappearing out of nowhere, just as quickly.

WHITFIELD: But those earlier scenarios, that's so sad to hear that.

So, you know, while the orcas in this region are you know, are considered endangered, and now that people feel like they've spotted them, or there has been this record number of interaction between the orcas and vessels this year, a record number, are you concerned now about their safety given that people, not only are they curious, they don't really understand or perhaps are misinterpreting the intent of these orcas?

GILES: I do. You know, I worry about the people's safety and I worry about the whales' safety as well. I think that there are some measures that can be taken to hopefully limit these encounters, possibly having vessels which isn't necessarily the thing that sailors want to do out there, going in more of groups of boats traveling if they're trying to get from Point A to Point B, that might be an option, possibly having motorized vessel escorts. Again, not really the romantic quiet sail trip that some people might be after.

But I do believe that it is important to remember that we're in their world. We're in the marine realm. They were here long before vessels were plying the waters, as a species they were. And so giving them the respect that they deserve and giving them the space whenever possible, if an encounter starts to occur it seems like one of the things that people can do is stop that hasn't been effective for all cases as I understand, but it does seem to be the forward motion and water moving over the keel that the whales are particularly interested in and they may just be drafting in that area where the water is being sucked along as the vessel is moving forward.

And so that's one thing people can do. You know, one group I did see banged on the hull of the boat to maybe drive them away things like that might help in the situation.

I do feel badly for the people. Obviously, it must be terrifying, but also the loss of property is part of it, too.

WHITFIELD: Sure. Well, hopefully no one gets hurt, not the people not the whales.

All right, Giles. Dr. Deborah Giles like Bond, James Bond. I like that. All right, Giles, thank you.

GILES: Thank you very much.

WHITFIELD: All right still to come, putting the squeeze on your Memorial Day barbecue, the costly condiments that could have you seeing red.



WHITFIELD: All right, this breaking news into CNN, Recep Erdogan was just officially declared the winner of Turkey's presidency in a runoff.

CNN's Richard Quest is live for us right now -- Richard.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE Yes, it was widely known that he was likely to win in the runoff, but the margin is slightly bigger than people had thought. It is about five points, 52, 53 to 47, 48 percent.

And so it is a decisive victory, and what's interesting about it is it was a unified opposition candidate, a single unified opposition candidate that eventually made it to the runoff, and he still couldn't beat Erdogan for his third term.

And so wherever you look in the world now, Turkey is what President Erdogan calls the Turkish century is how he is now going to view it.

From the United States' point of view, the number one issue is going to be NATO and is Turkey going to drop its opposition to Sweden joining NATO over Ukraine.

President Erdogan has been forceful against President Biden in this regard and now the two leaders will have to find some sort of way forward, some sort of negotiation if you can.

But here you have President Erdogan with a third term, powerful in terms of geopolitics, an economy that is in trouble, but certainly giving no quarter.

WHITFIELD: All right, Richard Quest, thank you so much in Turkey.