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GOP 2024 Presidential Hopeful Gather In Iowa; Biden Set To Sign Debt Limit Bill Today; Death Toll Nears 300 In India Train Crash; Double Murder Suspect Arrested, Under Investigation For Potential Involvement In Up To 10 Other Killings; Survivors Take The Stand In Death Penalty Trial; Ukraine Ramps Up Drone-Building Efforts; Weight- Loss Meds May Help Curb Addictions; Arlene Weakened To Tropical Depression. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired June 03, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA REID, CNN HOST: Experience the spectacle of the Stanley Cup Final tonight at 8:00, only on TNT.
Hello, thanks for joining me. I'm Paul Reid in Washington in this weekend for Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin this hour with the race for the White House.
Nearly, the entire field of GOP presidential candidates and contenders are in Iowa right now, as the 2024 race begins to heat up.
The Republican presidential hopefuls are attending Iowa Senator Joni Ernst's annual Roast and Ride events.
Former President Donald Trump is skipping today's gathering. But all the other leading candidates, including Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, And Asa Hutchinson are in Des Moines. As is, former Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to formally announce his presidential run in the coming days.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny, joins me now from Des Moines.
All right. Jeff, well, what can we expect from today's speeches?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, not only is former Vice President Mike Pence getting in the race next week. We are told he is also going to be riding a motorcycle here today. Likely, the only candidate to be doing that.
And we are here at Senator Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride. The roast is a pig roast, the ride is a Harley Davidson motorcycle ride. It's an annual event that she has here. Of course, she is Iowa's junior Republican Senator. But this year, it is featuring a growing field of Republican presidential candidates.
Pence is announcing next week as his New Hampshire -- a former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, joining to the growing field.
But Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is going to be here in Iowa today, returning after being here earlier this week trying to make his case to Iowa voters.
But Paula, we should point out, as summer approaches, this field is getting bigger, but frontrunners do not always continue in that position.
And I'm thinking back to the summer of 2015 when Donald Trump got into the race. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, he was the leading candidate at that point.
I think we have some video of this. Just showing him at this motorcycle ride. And at that point, he was riding high. He was expected to win, or at least to have a good showing.
Well, a couple months later, he was essentially out of the race. So, keeping that in mind as we head into this contest here. The state sometimes humbles front runners and elevates challengers.
We caught up with a influential evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, to talk about the history of the Iowa caucuses. And to make clear this is likely not a two-man contest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: Is it too early to say it's a two-person race?
BOB VANDER PLAATS, PRESIDENT, THE FAMILY LEADER: I think it's too early right now. And the reason I say that is, if you believe the polls early on 2008, Giuliani would have been your nominee. 2012, Perry would have been your nominee. 2016, would have been Scott Walker, and not Scott Walker would have been Jeb Bush. None of that panned out.
So, I think just because of maybe because I'm old, I've been around this a long time. I think it's way too early to say this is a two- person race yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So, there is no doubt that former President Donald Trump is leading the way here as the leader in the polls. But clearly, way too early to say he is the presumptive nominee.
Many Republicans we talked to are looking for an alternative. The question is, who will that alternative be? So, the race for that is really accelerating here.
But the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, he is trying to make the pitch that he can be that leading contender to former President Donald Trump.
So, Paula, we will hear from him in the coming hours as well as several other candidates here. So, you get the sense Republican voters just beginning to tune into this contest.
Of course, Iowa will open the nominating season early next year, likely in January. And then onto New Hampshire and South Carolina. Of course, the goal of Republicans is to win back the White House, defeat President Biden. The question is, which Republican is strongest to do that? Paula?
REID: Sounds like quite the event, nothing better than Iowa during campaign season. Jeff Zeleny, thank you.
ZELENY: That's right.
REID: And with me now to discuss this is Joe Walsh. He is a former Republican congressman from Illinois, and the host of the podcast, the "White Flag".
Joe, good to see you. Thanks for being with us.
JOE WALSH, HOST, WHITE FLAG PODCAST: Good to be with you, Paula.
REID: So, I want to start out by asking you, what do you make of former President Trump's decision to skip this Iowa event?
WALSH: Well, he was in Iowa this week. And I've got to quibble with what the guests that Jeff Zeleny spoke with just a moment ago, Paula. It's not a two-man race right now. This is a one-man race.
This is Donald Trump. It's his race. He is the most likely person to be the nominee. That was always going to be the case. I think that you're seeing so many people Paula get into the race now because of Ron DeSantis, because he's a very weak number two.
WALSH: And look, all of these candidates getting in, they don't really believe they can beat Donald Trump. They're not actually going to try to beat Donald Trump. They're all hoping the justice system will take out Donald Trump, and they want to be the alternative who's standing there.
REID: Well, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has started stepping up his attacks on Trump. Do you think he is doing enough to distinguish himself?
WALSH: No, he -- Paula, he is in the same trap they all are. None of them want to attack Trump. And they've got to be very careful in attacking Trump. What an odd situation right? They can't go after the front runner because this is the front runners party and they want the front runners' voters.
Look, when Trump was indicted a month or so ago, Trump screamed witch hunt. DeSantis and all the rest screamed witch hunt too. Donald Trump says the 2020 election was stolen. Ron DeSantis and any other serious Republican candidate has to say that as well.
So, they're all kind of in this trap, where they have to tiptoe around and echo Trump, so as not to lose his voters.
REID: And the most complicated example of that is former Vice President Mike Pence. Right? He is expected to launch in the coming days.
So, how do you think he is going to handle this, and how could he impact the GOP race?
WALSH: I think he has an impossible role. I -- Paula, I talked to Republican base voters every day, they want nothing to do with Mike Pence.
Here is the truth that the country needs to understand. And I'll watch my language, Paula, the Republican base wants --
WALSH: The base wants a jerk. They want a bully, they want an ass, they want somebody who is intolerant and cruel, and authoritarian to be their nominee.
Right now, that only Trump and DeSantis. Mike Pence can't be that, and Nikki Haley or Tim Scott can't be that. So, really, Pence's only hope, Paula is that Trump is indicted, you know, another 10 times, DeSantis just falls apart, and maybe there'll be an appetite for something else.
REID: All right. I want to pivot to the debt limit bill. President Biden is expected to sign the bipartisan bill today. But he's also taking heat from the liberal flank of his party.
Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): This is about paying the ransom to a bunch of hostage takers, and that is not how we should run this government. It's not good for the people of this country, and it's not good for the position of the United States all around the world.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): If you're a working-class person, elderly person, low-income person -- well, maybe not so good. Maybe you're going to lose a little of your benefits. Not a good deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So, the president getting criticism from the left for this deal. But how do you think it plays with moderates in the party, and importantly, Independents?
WALSH: Oh, Paula, like sweet music. Look, nothing against Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders. But when Joe Biden is pissing off though his left flank, he is doing well. Joe Biden is running to get reelected. There is this huge swath of people, center right and center left who don't like the crazy MAGA right, and they've got some issues with the far left.
When Joe Biden speaks to that swath of America, he does well, and this debt ceiling deal, no matter whatever problems you have with it, and I have problems with it, it demonstrates Joe Biden, the moderate centrists, who just keeps getting stuff done.
REID: Joe Walsh, thank you.
WALSH: Thanks, Paula.
REID: And a quick programming note. Tomorrow night, live from Iowa, Jake Tapper moderates a CNN Republican presidential town hall with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. The evening kicks off at 8:00 only on CNN.
And developing now, at any moment, President Biden will sign the deal to raise the nation's debt limit, avoiding a catastrophic default.
The deal cleared Congress following weeks of closed-door negotiations led by Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Last night, in an Oval Office speech, Biden said the deal averted an economic disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our economy would have been thrown into a recession, retirement accounts for millions of Americans would have been decimated. 8 million Americans would have lost their jobs. Default would have been -- have destroyed our nation's credit rating, which would have made everything from mortgages, to car loans, to funding for the government much more expensive. And it would have taken years to climb out of that hole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is at the White House.
Priscilla, how soon will Biden sign this bill?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Paula, the White House says that they haven't yet received the bill, but they do anticipate that he will sign it today. And that's what President Biden said yesterday.
This signature would come a week after President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had reached that tentative deal on the debt ceiling.
That had been a major breakthrough after weeks of negotiations, and really running up against that June 5th deadline, which is this upcoming Monday.
Now, President Biden speaking to the American people last night from the Oval Office. And that really indicated the gravity of the moment and what he said was averting an economic catastrophe that had been looming over the White House for weeks, if not months, that had they not been able to reach a deal on the debt ceiling that they could default for the first time in U.S. history. And that would cause ramifications across the economy.
And Biden ticked through some of that yesterday, as you heard earlier, saying that people would lose their retirement accounts, their jobs. So, all of that had been looming over the White House for some time.
But, of course, it really came down to working with Republican negotiators. And that is something that President Biden's stress over the course of his address was bipartisanship and unity. It's something that President Biden brings up often when it comes to his legislative achievements, and it certainly did not go unnoticed yesterday. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I know bipartisanship is hard and unity is hard, but we can never stop trying. Because in moments like this one, the ones we just faced, where the American economy and the world economy is at risk of collapsing. There is no other way.
No matter how tough our politics gets, we need to see each other as not as adversaries, but as fellow Americans. Treat each other with dignity and respect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALVAREZ: Now, President Biden also commended House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, saying that he negotiated in good faith and acknowledged that not everyone got what they wanted, Democrats and Republicans. And he has certainly gained criticism from the left over some of the concessions.
But at the end of the day, what both sides have stress is that they were able to avoid a default and that President Biden is expected to sign that bill today. Paula.
REID: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you.
And India's prime minister arriving today at the scene of a horrific train crash. Nearly 300 people were killed and more than 1,000 others were injured when three trains collided.
Officials saying just a short time ago that a signal failure is the suspected cause of the crash.
CNN international correspondent Marc Stewart has more on the search and rescue operation.
MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is clearly a challenging effort. There is fear people could be trapped under the individual rail cars, with one official expressing concern the death toll could climb.
STEWART (voice over): Desperate people struggle to free themselves inside the wreckage of an upturn carriage. Passengers push themselves away from the bodies of those who were killed instantly, when two passenger trains and a freight train collided in India's east on Friday.
In the dead of night, rescuers worked frantically to save as many lives as possible. Searching through the ripped coaches littered across train tracks. Pulling out survivors from twisted train compartments that lay toward open in the dark.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When I came out of the train buggy, I saw someone had lost a hand, someone had lost a leg. While someone's face was distorted.
STEWART: Frantic scenes at the hospital where the race to save lives continues with a steady stream of those that live to see another day.
And many who in this hour of need lined up to donate blood. Daylight exposed the extent of the disaster, mangled train cars and body bags lining the tracks. The horror of India's deadliest rail accident in more than a decade.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surveyed the scene, offering what comfort he could to the scores of injured.
NARENDRA MODI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA (through translator): A terrible accident occurred yesterday evening. I am feeling unbearable pain.
STEWART: Rescue teams continue to sweep for survivors. The investigation into just how this horror was allowed to happen is only just beginning.
Marc Stewart, CNN, Tokyo.
REID: Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, Texas authorities say a man called police and admitted to two murders. Now, they're looking into whether he was involved in several other deaths.
Plus, can medications such as the popular weight loss drug Ozempic help curb addictions?
The answer may surprise you.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) REID: Now to a disturbing confession that authorities say could leave to even more troubling discoveries. Police in Austin say a 62-year-old man called them and admitted to committing two murders.
And now, authorities believe he may be involved in 10 other killings.
Raul Meza Jr. was arrested this week after a five-day manhunt on four charges, including capital murder. He's being held on a $1 million bond.
CNN national correspondent Camila Bernal joins me now with the latest. Camila, what more are you learning?
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Paula.
This is a man that according to police was ready and prepared to kill again. Authority is saying he was looking forward to killing again. And it's also a man who called police and said, my name is Raul Meza, and you are looking for me.
Now, the detective that was on the phone when this man called ask the questions, and essentially, this man confessed to killing his 80-year- old roommate Jesse Fraga.
And what the police say is that he also spoke about the relationship, talked about the manner in which this roommate was killed, and gave police details that were not made public beforehand.
So, then, the phone call also led to authorities investigating a death in 2019 of a 66-year-old woman. And so, these two killings essentially were revealed or confessed in this phone call.
Authorities now are looking into, they say, between eight and 10 other cases with similarities, and they say they're committed to looking into these cases that may be related to Raul Meza.
The other thing that happened here is that there was a five-day man hunt for him, and authorities say they were able to collect evidence when he was arrested.
Here's Brandon Vela with the U.S. marshals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRANDON FILLA, DEPUTY UNITED STATES MARSHAL: I think he was surprised. They approached, surrounded him, and they took him into custody within a blink of an eye. And I think that was a key advantage based upon what was in that -- in that bag that he had when I -- you know, talk about, you know, the duct tape, the zip ties, and a firearm with additional rounds of ammunition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: And that's part of the reason why police say he was ready to kill again. Unfortunately, this is also a man that had already served an 11-year or so sentence out of a third -- or part of the sentence out of a 30-year sentence for killing an 8-year-old girl in 1982.
So, officials there in Austin, saying, in this case, justice was not served and saying he should have been in prison for much longer than he was.
Now, authorities there in Austin say they're committed to investigating these two murders, but also the cold cases that they believe could be related or linked to Raul Meza. Paula.
REID: Camila Bernal, thank you so much.
BERNAL: Thank you.
REID: And the first week of testimony has come to an end in the federal death penalty trial for the man accused of killing 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018.
More survivors took the stand Friday, Rabbi Jonathan Perlman remembered the moment his friend was killed right in front of him. He testified that they were hiding in a closet with two other worshipers when one of them opened the door to see if it was over. That is when he was shot and killed.
A SWAT officer described the interaction he had with the accused shooter, Robert Bowers. The officer said he asked Bowers, why he did it. And Bowers responded that he had, had, had enough, and that all Jews had to die.
CNN's Danny Freeman has more.
DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This first week of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting trial has been intense. It's been emotional, and at times, it's been challenging to listen to, and to watch. But it has also been the first time that survivors of that mass shooting in 2018 have had the chance to face the alleged gunman, Robert Bowers in Court.
We've heard opening statements from both the prosecution and the defense. The prosecution, hoping to prove not only that Robert Bowers killed those 11 Jewish worshippers, but also that he did so intentionally because they were Jewish.
Meanwhile, the defense not disputing that Bowers killed those worshippers, but they are hoping to paint his motives as irrational.
Already, we've heard from more than 12 witnesses, including 911 dispatchers, police officers, survivors of the shooting, and family members of the deceased.
We've also seen harrowing exhibits like the moment survivors, Carol Black and Barry Werber were able to escape the synagogue after seeing their friend, Mel Wax killed right in front of them.
And also, the moment Dan Leger who was shot in the stomach, but survived. We saw the moment that he was actually rescued and carried out of the synagogue by a first responders.
Maggie Feinstein, she is a leader with the Jewish community out there in Pittsburgh. She has been watching alongside family members and victims throughout the duration of the trial. And she explained the reactions have truly been varied.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGGIE FEINSTEIN, DIRECTOR, 10.27 HEALING PARTNERSHIP: One of the things about this trial is the scope of it. The number of victims, the number of people who've been impacted is so large. So, people have every varying response to it.
Sometimes the healing can begin once you can get through and all the truths are known. And all of it is out there for the public to know as well. So, no longer do you have to hold it on yourself.
And so, there can be something that can be healing. It also can be incredibly painful and there's really every degree of difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FREEMAN: Now, of note, the defense team has not been cross examining the bulk of the witnesses that we've seen so far in this first week. We're going to be keeping our eye on it to see if that changes in the days and weeks to come. Danny Freeman, CNN.
REID: Danny Freeman, thank you.
And up next, a CNN exclusive inside Ukraine's secret drone program. Why Kyiv says drones could be the great equalizer against Russian aggression.
Stay with us.
REID: Ukraine's President Zelenskyy says his country is ready for sweeping counter offensive on Russia. Zelenskyy made the comments in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. He didn't commit to an imminent start to the operation, but he added that Ukraine can't wait for months to do it.
The comments came as Ukraine's capital of Kyiv continues to come under attack from Russian missiles and drones.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Fred, what is the latest?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Paula.
Well, what we've seen over the past couple of days is indeed a lot of attacks here on the Ukrainian capital, especially by those Russian missiles and those Russian drones. One of the things that we've also seen though, is that the Ukrainian air defenses seem to be getting better and better.
The last attack the Ukrainian said they managed to shoot down all the cruise missiles and drones that were fired towards the Ukrainian capital. At the same time, the Ukrainian drone program itself is also picking up. And it's certainly one of the big success stories for the Ukrainians, and definitely something that they've committed to on a large scale.
They believe that it's the big equalizer. It's something that can keep them in the game and indeed help them put pressure on the Russians. And that's also something that we are actually seeing now on Russian territory as well where it seems that the Ukrainians are now able to fly there. We got a firsthand look at Ukraine's very large and very secretive drone program. And here's what we learned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: Can this fly into Russia?
VALERIY BOROVYK, CEO, ALLIANCE: Yes.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Valeriy Borovyk's company makes combat drones for Ukrainian frontline troops, and they allowed us to film test flights at a secret location. And he says, reaching Moscow is not a problem.
BOROVYK: We have a bigger drone for 700 kilometer with war had 20 kilograms.
PLEITGEN (on-camera): That could fly almost all the way to Moscow.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): While Ukraine denies direct involvement in the recent Moscow drone attack, Kyiv has drastically expanded its use of drones for everything from surveillance to directly bombing Russian ground troops. Cheap, easy to use, and lethal, UAVs, once considered toys, are now vital to Kyiv's war efforts.
(on-camera): Ukrainians say for them, drones are the big equalizer in this war. They say the Russians have more tanks, more artillery, and more planes. But the Ukrainians have the creativity of their population.
(voice-over): This is a drone competition organized by Ukraine's government with simulated attacks on ground targets, chasing fixed wing drones, and even drone dogfights.
We were granted exclusive access on the condition we don't reveal the location. It's like a startup fare for FPV or first-person view drones, small UAVs that can drop mortars and grenades flown by pilots wearing VR goggles from a makeshift trench to simulate the battlefield.
DENIS SEGA, DRONE OPERATOR (through translator): Our drones are very easy to use, especially if the pilot has flown similar drones. I think they will intuitively understand how they work.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): The stakes are immense. A general involved in drone procurement for Ukraine's military tells me.
BRIGADIER GEN. YURIY SHCHYHOL, HEAD OF UKRAINE STATE SERVICE OF SPECIAL COMMUNICATION (through translator): About 30 companies in Ukraine are already mass producing these drones and our goal is to purchase up to 200,000 by the end of the year.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Their backs up against the wall when Russia's massive army invaded last year, the Ukrainians quickly realized cheap air power could help keep them in the fight. First using modified consumer drones, now with more sophisticated UAVs developed in Ukraine what the government here calls the Army of Drones Project, spearheaded by the Minister of Digital Transformation.
MYKHAILO FEDOROV, UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER & MINISTER OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION (through translator): This is a technological war and it's very important to understand how technology is developing and what we as a state can do to increase the number of drones. A certain revolution is also taking place regarding production scaling.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): And while the Ukrainians still won't admit direct involvement, the Russians do admit they are concerned they might soon see more armed drones flying towards Moscow.
PLEITGEN: And generally, it seems the Russians are pretty concerned about their situation in the war in Ukraine. There really isn't any part of the front line at this point in time where the Russians are currently moving ahead. In fact, it seems right now that the Ukrainians are hitting the Russians in many places, Paula, like, for instance, some of those rear Echelon areas in the places that Russia has occupied on Ukrainian territory Berdyans'k, the port town, for instance, is one of them, where it appears as though weapons depots or something of that nature has been hit.
And then you have those Russian border areas where once again overnight, the governor of the Belgorod area says there was cross border shelling that they blame on the Ukrainians. But the Ukrainians say that they have nothing to do with and in fact, there are anti- Putin, Russian fighters who normally fight on the side of the Ukrainians who say that they are responsible for these things.
But again, in those areas in Russia, the Russians are saying that there are a lot of cross border attacks using those drones. So clearly, the Ukrainians able to project their power into Russian territory using that modern technology, Paula.
REID: Frederik Pleitgen in Kyiv, thank you. Let's get more on what's happening in Ukraine and Russia. Jill Dougherty is a CNN contributor and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. All right, Jill, Ukraine is denying involvement in the incursions on the Russian side of the border. But the groups taking some of the credit are affiliated with Ukraine. So what are they trying to accomplish here?
JILL DOUGHERTY, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think especially with those cross border incursions, you know, bombing areas right along the border and also you'd have to say the drones. So I think what they're trying to do is destabilize, set up, you know, the battlefield for what to show to the Russians that they can strike almost anywhere. And especially with this counter offensive, they want to make sure that the Russians really are, you know, trying to figure out what is going to happen next.
And I think that report from Fred is very interesting, because the drones, according to officials that I've spoken to Ukrainian officials, really do believe that that's the future that this is going to play a big role, and that this is just the beginning.
REID: So on the other side, Russian strikes have been aimed at Kyiv almost every day for the last week. It appears that Russia is trying to wear down Ukraine's air defenses. Is that your assessment?
DOUGHERTY: Yes, definitely. But I think also, there are other reasons, you know, one is to really decimate Ukrainian cities. There's no question right now that they are in a full-fledged attack on Ukraine. And also part of that is terror. You know, when you look at Kyiv and people coming, getting up in the morning, wondering what will be happening, that is the capital. And that is part of the psychological side of this warfare, to really sow fear among the Ukrainians.
REID: In the feud between the head of the Wagner mercenary group and the Russian military, it seems to just be intensifying yet again. This time, he's accusing the military of putting landmines in the way of Wagner fighters in Ukraine. So what's the endgame for this guy?
DOUGHERTY: You know, they -- it just gets stranger every day, doesn't it? But yes, he's saying essentially, the regular Russian military are putting these landmines behind the Wagner troops who are now pulling out at Bakhmut. That's the city that they say they took, and now they're kind of pulling out and letting the regular military come in. But why would the regular military want to destroy Russian forces, even if they're not, you know, regular forces.
That is Prigozhin. Prigozhin has for quite a long time, obviously, he has tried to, let's say, put the military on their back foot and show that they're, you know, they really have to get in line. They're incompetent. And his forces are the, you know, the ones who are really winning the battles. That's useful, I think, for Putin and for the Kremlin, to kind of keep the military in line. But Prigozhin is a very strange and very egotistical person, too. So I think a lot of this is, you wonder, is there a point where he can go too far, Paula, and I think, you know, that we don't know that yet. But he's really coming up to the line.
REID: He is slowly inching up to that line. So want to talk about the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He was in Finland yesterday to celebrate its admission to NATO. And I want you to take a listen to what he said about the possibility of a ceasefire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Over the coming weeks and months, some countries will call for a ceasefire. And on the surface, that sounds sensible, attractive even, after all, who doesn't want warring parties to lay down their arms, who doesn't want the killing to stop? But a ceasefire that simply freezes current lies in place and enables Putin to consolidate control over the territory he sees and then rest, rearm and re-attack, that is not a just and lasting peace. It's a Potemkin peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Based on what you just heard, do you expect Ukraine's allies to stand firm on this no ceasefire claim if it a ceasefire would benefit Putin?
DOUGHERTY: I would have to say at this point, yes. They are not interested in any ceasefire. The Ukrainians right now are conducting our bet to conduct that counter offensive. And they do believe that as you just heard, that Russia would stop the fighting, consolidate and then attack again. So at this point, I think the Ukrainians are not in any mood to stop the heel that they are attacking, and they say they're ready for it.
REID: Jill Dougherty, thank you.
And up next, medications like Ozempic are especially popular with those trying to lose weight. But can they help curb some addictive behaviors? Doctor say, maybe. Stick around we'll explain.
REID: Popular weight loss medications are helping people shed more than just excess pounds. Some patients say the drugs have also helped them curb addictive behaviors like drinking alcohol, smoking, or even nail biting or online shopping. CNN medical correspondent Meg Tirrell has more.
MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These days, Cheri Ferguson has swapped her vape pen for an Ozempic pen.
CHERI FERGUSON, OZEMPIC PATIENT: I thought I'm not enjoying vaping so I may as well just put this into the battery bin at work and I'll see how long I can go without it, and that was 54 days ago.
TIRRELL (voice-over): Ferguson started using Ozempic 11 weeks ago to combat weight gain during the pandemic that she says was increasing her risk of diabetes. A smoker for much of her life, Ferguson switched to vaping last July. But after starting Ozempic, she says something changed.
FERGUSON: It's like someone's just come along and switched a light on, and you can see the room for what it is. And all of the vapes and cigarettes that you've had over the years, it just -- they don't look attractive anymore. It's very, very strange, very strange.
TIRRELL (voice-over): Ferguson is one of many patients taking drugs like Ozempic for weight loss who say they've also lost interest in some addictive behaviors.
Doctors told CNN that patients most commonly report an effect on alcohol use. It may be because these drugs in a class known as GLP-1s have an effect not just in the gut but also in the brain. It's something being studied at the National Institutes of Health where researchers just published a paper showing semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, reduced what they called binge-like alcohol drinking in rodents.
DR. LORENZO LEGGIO, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH RESEARCHER: We believe that at least one of the mechanisms is how this drug reduces alcohol drinking is by reducing the rewarding effects of alcohol, such as those related to neurotransmitters in our brain which is dopamine. So these medications are likely to make alcohol less rewarding.
TIRRELL (voice-over): And it's not just alcohol and nicotine. Patients have even told The Atlantic it had effects on behaviors like nail- biting and online shopping.
LEGGIO: There is a lot of overlap on the neuro balance mechanism that regulate addictive behaviors in general. So it's possible that medications like semaglutide, by acting on these specific mechanisms in the brain, they may help people with a variety of addictive behaviors.
TIRRELL (voice-over): Clinical trials in humans are needed to prove that. One set is underway at the University of North Carolina, looking at semaglutide's effect on alcohol and tobacco use.
Cheri Ferguson says Ozempic has helped her lose 38 pounds. Even better, she says, is how it's made her feel.
FERGUSON: The weight that it takes off your mind is far greater than any pounds that come off your body.
TIRRELL: We reached out to the maker of Ozempic, Novo Nordisk, as well as Eli Lilly, which makes a similar medicine. Both companies said right now they're not running trials of their drugs for addiction. This traditionally hasn't been a market that's been appealing to pharmaceutical companies because drugs really haven't been successful in selling well. Although doctors emphasize there is a huge unmet medical need here. Alcohol use disorder affects almost 30 million Americans and only 5 percent currently receive treatments. So, researchers are hoping that perhaps these promising early results will draw more interest into the field.
REID: Our thanks to CNN Meg Tirrell for that report.
And next, new high temperature records could be set in several major cities this weekend. And it's not even officially summer yet. The forecast coast to coast ahead.
REID: Ford is warning owners of Lincoln SUVs to park their vehicles outside and away from buildings because they could potentially catch fire. Ford officials say the problem stems from a battery monitoring sensor that could get damaged when the parts around it are serviced causing a short circuit and overheating. Model years to 2015 through 2019 are affected. Owners are being advised to take their SUVs to a dealer and have a fuse installed free of cost.
And happening right now, a Flash Flood Watch is in effect for southern Florida. Tropical Storm Arlene has weakened into a tropical depression. But Floridians can still expect up to four inches of rain in some areas. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is tracking Arlene for us. Allison, what's the latest?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right so we're still keeping an eye on the storm. Even though it has weakened, it still has some impacts not only for Florida but also Cuba as well which is where that general direction is headed. You can see a lot of the shower and thunderstorm activity from a lot of those outflow winds from what's left of Arlene really helping to fuel a lot of showers and thunderstorms across areas of South Florida.
You can see a lot of lightning a lot of those showers and thunderstorms firing up even though the main storm itself only has a sustained winds about 35 miles per hour. It's expected to move south and then east close right there kind of hovering along the northern Cuban border there. Again, still, however, we are anticipating several more inches of rain across areas of South Florida over the next 24 to 36 hours before that system finally weakens off completely.
Because of that, the additional rainfall that's in the forecast, we are still looking at the potential for flooding, especially in these counties you see here under the Flood Watch likely through the rest of the day today and even through the day on Sunday.
Elsewhere, the other big story across the country is all of those warm temperatures across the northern tier of the U.S. specifically the Midwest in the Great Lakes region. Here's the thing though, once we get into next week, we're finally going to start to see a lot of that heat beginning to retreat. More of that colder air from the Northeast beginning to spread back into some of the other areas.
So the heat while it is impressive for this weekend, likely looking at about six potential record highs across several cities including St. Louis, it will be short lived. We will start to see those temperatures coming back down in the coming days. Before they do, however, again the forecast for today in St. Louis, 95 degrees, the record is 96. So we're going to be awfully close there a lot of those other locations also looking at near record temperatures. But once we get to the middle portion of next week, we'll finally start to see those temperatures coming back down.
REID: Allison, thank you.
And coming up, three people are still missing after that partial apartment building collapse in Iowa, a daughter of one of the missing joins me next hour.
REID: Hello, thanks for joining me. I'm Paul Reid in Washington, in this weekend for Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin this hour with the horrific train crash in India. Nearly 300 people were killed, and more than 1,000 others were injured when three trains collided. India's Prime Minister arriving at the scene earlier today saying he's feeling unbearable pain over the crash.