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U.S. Destroyer Near Collision With A Chinese Ship In The Taiwan Strait; GOP Presidential Hopefuls Descend Into Iowa Event; Migrants Dumped In Sacramento Through Private Jet; Unconstitutional Says A Federal Judge Of Tennessee's Anti-Drag Law; DeSantis And Trump Battling For Right-Wing Online Influencers; Hollywood Studios And Directors Reach Deal, Writer's Strike Continues; F-16 Jets Intercept Unresponsive Cessna Plane Over Washington, D.C. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 04, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. We're following two big stories this afternoon. The U.S. and China trading sharp words after a close military encounter in the Taiwan Strait. We'll show you the video of a Chinese warship coming dangerously close to a U.S. destroyer.

And all eyes on Iowa. A top Republicans storm the campaign trail to chase their presidential ambitions. We'll go to the site of CNN's town hall event with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley just a few hours from now.

Let's begin with this latest spike in the U.S.-China tensions. This video shot by Global News, you see it on the screen right now, shows the Chinese warship cut in front of a U.S. Navy destroyer yesterday. The Pentagon says the two ships came within 150 yards of colliding a razor thin distance for vessels of that size.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann joins us now. Oren, this is the second close military encounter between the two countries in two weeks. How seriously does the Pentagon view this right now?

OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Jim, incredibly seriously. And it's not just that it is this incident on its own. Is that the Department of Defense and the U.S. view this as a pattern of aggressive coming from China in this military encounters. So, what happened in this latest one?

According to U.S. Indo Pacific Command, a U.S. Navy ship was transiting through the Taiwan Strait, sailing through it, very sensitive piece of water for China, along with a Canadian vessel when a Chinese military vessel cut 150 yards in front of the U.S. ship and then circled back and cut again, this time a little farther, 2,000 yards away. But still a very close distance, especially for ships of this size as you pointed out.

It is because of the Chinese action that the U.S. went ahead and called this an unsafe maneuver coming from China. But it's an entirely different narrative if you listen to Beijing. For Beijing, whose minister of national defense was speaking just hours after this at a defense summit in Singapore, it was the U.S., he says who wasn't there for innocent reasons and they were there for provocation.

So, you see, what is essentially a difficulty in communication here to try to get on the same page. Two entirely different narratives about the same incident. Still, that won't deter the U.S. For the U.S. and under international law, these are international waterways. Commercial shipping, a lot of it goes through the Taiwan Strait as are U.S. Navy vessels and other vessel ass allowed to and that's the point the U.S. is trying to make and does make as it sails through the Taiwan Strait. Jim?

ACOSTA: Oren, this is far from the first encounter like this between the U.S. and China. There was one in the air just two weeks ago. Can you tell us about that?

LIEBERMAN: Of course. You're exactly right. And this is why the U.S. views it as a pattern of more aggressive behavior, especially when it comes to two of the areas that are most sensitive for them. That is the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. So, this is just a couple of weeks ago. U.S. reconnaissance aircraft, an RC-135 Rivet Joint flying in international air space over the south China sea when a Chinese fighter jet intercepted that aircraft to basically cut in front of its nose, very close at this speed.

And in the video, you can see that it's wake turbulence disrupts the flight path essentially and shakes and rattles the U.S. aircraft. So again, the Pentagon is saying it will bring this up to the proper diplomatic channels to address this or at least try to address this with the Chinese.

And that is what's important here, is to try to get some sort of communication even though that seems difficult at this point. China essentially trying to exert its influence, perhaps even its sovereignty over both the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea.

ACOSTA: Okay, Oren Lieberman, thank you very much. He's live in France for us. We appreciate it. This new test of U.S.-China relations may very well come up tonight in CNN's primetime town hall with Republican presidential candidate and former South Carolina governor, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley.


That is being held in Des Moines, Iowa where nearly the entire Republican field of presidential candidates and likely candidates campaigned at an influential event this weekend with one notable exception, former President Donald Trump who skipped the gathering. Iowa, of course, it is the first in the nation for the Republican's nominating process. One person in attendance, former Vice President Mike Pence. He's expected to announce his candidacy in Iowa in a few days.

Also, this week, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is expected to enter this crowded field of candidates and CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Des Moines at the site of tonight's town hall. Jeff, you're going to have to start keeping track of these candidates left and right. There are so many entering the race. That is going to make it very interesting in terms of any of these candidates trying to knock Donald Trump out of the top of this field.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, this week the number does hit ten in terms of major Republican candidates here and there are a couple still potentially who are going to announce in the coming weeks. But nor now at least, the field is growing certainly and there is considerable enthusiasm among Republicans. That certainly was clear yesterday at a gathering at the Iowa State Fairgrounds where Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst hosted most of the Republican presidential candidates with the exception of Donald Trump who was invited but declined to attend.

And these candidates were really making their cases to voters, introducing themselves to voters. Of course, foreign policy is a key topic in this conversation, in this campaign. And Nikki Haley, of course, the former South Carolina governor, but also the former ambassador to the U.N. in the Trump administration, has foreign policy experience. So that is something she often talks about. But yesterday she also talked about how it's important for Republicans to turn the page and look ahead.


NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got to start doing this in a way that we can win a general election. It's time for a new generational leader. We've got to leave the baggage and the negativity behind. We've got a country to save. Don't explain about what you get in the general if you don't play in this caucus because it matters.


ZELENY: So, Jim, the one thing about presidential campaigns, they don't always end on the topics on which they begin. Of course, foreign policy is not necessarily the leading topic of conversation at this point. But as events change around the world, presidential candidates must adapt and respond to these things in realtime. It's one of the tests of these candidates. That's what these long campaigns are all about. Sort of responding to the real-world events.

So, I do expect that Nikki Haley will be perhaps questioned about that, either by our own Jake Tapper or by Iowa voters. And I should say that this town hall here at Grandview University will be filled by Iowa Republican voters, people who plan to participate in the Iowa caucus next year that launched this Republican presidential nominating process. So, this certainly, this campaign is intensifying and it's picking up as the summer comes on as well, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much. And remember in just a few hours, Jake Tapper moderates the CNN Republican presidential town hail with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. It starts at 8:00 Eastern only on CNN.

And joining us now with more on all of this is former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton. He also served as national security adviser during the Trump administration. Ambassador, thanks for being with us. I want to talk about the campaign in just a moment, but let's start with these new tensions with China and this near collision between U.S. and Chinese warships. That is quite the provocation. What's your reaction to that?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think this is part of a concerted Chinese effort to try and intimidate us and obviously the government of Taiwan. These incidents as you have reported or indicated both on the sea and in the air, are part of a larger Chinese project. I think they're trying to warn the United States about keeping its commitments to Taiwan supplying it with weapons and the like.

We saw a similar speech by the Chinese defense minister at the Shangri-La conference this past weekend. And so, I think what this requires is the kind of strategic response that shows that the United States, whether it's in the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea or anywhere else, is simply not going to give up its rights to transit the straits, to have innocent passage for its naval vessels and to show to China they're assertion of sovereignty over any part of the world that we don't recognize already as China, something we're simply not going to accept.

ACOSTA: And let me ask you about North Korea. I'm sure you saw this, former President Donald Trump recently praised that country's dictator, Kim Jong-un over the North Korea's appointment to the board of the World Health Organization. What is going on with Trump and Kim Jong-un? Why does he keep making these kinds of comments about the North Korean dictator?

BOLTON: Well, your guess is as good as mine. I have, in the spirit of our times, tweeted about this and said this is one more piece of evidence why Donald Trump is not fit to be president. This is no joking matter. Kim Jong-un is a cruel dictator.


His people are among the most impoverished in the world. He's building nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles intended to be able to hit the United States and intimidate his regional neighbors. This is not somebody you pal around with. It just shows Trump has no real understanding of the depth of the threat that Kim Jong-un poses and it's why four more years of Trump in control of foreign policy would be extraordinarily dangerous for the United States.

ACOSTA: And I want to get to that, but I remember covering Trump summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore. You were there. Did you see any early warning signs of this kind of strange friendship that they seem to have?

BOLTON: Well, we saw warning signs in Trump's reaction to these letters that Kim sent to him before the Singapore summit and then after. Now, there is no doubt in my mind these letters were written by some communist party hack in the (inaudible) prop of the North Korean Workers Party. But they were filled with phrases like your excellency and things like that. Trump just thought there were love letters.

I mean, I just -- I shook my head. There wasn't much more I could do. I just don't think he understands what he's up against when he faces the hard men of contemporary international affairs. Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, he just doesn't know what room he's in.

ACOSTA: And this weekend, let's switch to Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the "Wall Street Journal" Ukraine is ready to launch its much-anticipated counter offensive in the war against Russia. In your view, how should the U.S. assist Ukraine in this counter offensive and how much support should they get?

BOLTON: Well, I think we've done a lot. From my perspective, we haven't done enough, but I think there is more that we could help as the battle goes on. I do think one important point to make here is not to overhype the potential outcome. Certainly, there is nothing in the performance of Russian combat arms over the past almost 16 months to give any evidence that they'll do a good job in defending against the Ukrainian attack.

And certainly, we've put a lot of effort into training the Ukrainians, but it's a very dangerous period because if the Ukrainians do well, there will be some in Europe who will say, okay, time to stop all of this and negotiate. And if the Ukrainians don't do well, some of the same people will say, look, this has gone on long enough. So, I think managing expectations here is important.

I understand why Zelenskyy wants to increase the morale of his fighters and that's obviously the right thing to do, but I don't think we ought to conclude we're within weeks of this war ending. I think that's a very, very unlikely outcome of this offensive.

ACOSTA: And let me get to some campaign politics as it relates to Ukraine. I'm just wondering what you thought of these comments from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis that came in response to a question aired from then Fox host Tucker Carlson last March. DeSantis said while the U.S. has many vital national interests, securing our borders, addressing the crisis of readiness within our military, achieving energy and security and independence and checking the economic culture and military power of the Chinese community party, becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.

There has been some talk about how he's backed away from those comments, ambassador, but does the next Republican presidential nominee need to be a steadfast supporter of Ukraine in its fight for its survival? What did you make of those comments from DeSantis?

BOLTON: Well, I said at the time I was disappointed but I do believe in the prospect of redemption so I think there is still hope. Look, this is not a territorial dispute. That was an unprovoked act of aggression. It's been bedrock American policy since 1945, that peace and stability on the continent of Europe are in America's vital interest. That's why we formed NATO and did many other things.

This attack on Ukraine represented obviously an assault on that country bordered by many NATO countries, allies, treaty allies of the United States. That is one strategic interest. Second, the Russian rationale here is basically that the terms on which the Soviet Union broke up, they no longer accept, which means that every other former republic of the Soviet Union is in danger of the same treatment as Ukraine received like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, also NATO allies.

And finally, just very quickly, the Chinese are watching these conflict more than anybody else. This is not isolated. We just talked about the Chinese provocations near Taiwan. If the United States and the west don't defend Ukraine here, I think the Chinese leadership in Beijing could well conclude that there's no way we'll come to Taiwan's assistance. So, there are important American interests worldwide at stake in how we handle Ukraine and I hope the Republican nominee for president will be able to make that point convincingly.


ACOSTA: And before too long, we're going to be getting to debates in the Republican Party primary process. The RNC has apparently adopted rules that say in order to participate in the upcoming presidential debates, you have to pledge to support the eventual nominee. If that's Trump, would you do that if you were one of these candidates? I know you've talked about that you'll be a candidate. Do you plan on participating in these debates and would you sign that pledge? Would you sign on to that pledge?

BOLTON: Well, yeah, I'm still thinking about it. And no, I wouldn't support that pledge. I'm not going to support Donald Trump. This is not a matter of party loyalty. I think he did enormous damage to the country and certainly to the Republican Party in the four years he served. A second term, I think, but all of that is repairable and I think it is being repaired.

But four more years of Donald Trump could do significant permanent damage to the country and the Republican Party. That's why I think everybody who is in this race now should not spend their time picking away at each other. They've got to convince Republican primary voters that the job one here is to prevent Trump from being renominated.

ACOSTA: And yesterday we had former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson on the program and he said that he would, as a part of that condition to participate in the debates, yes, say he would support Trump as the eventual nominee. Do you think that's a mistake and do you think it's a mistake for these other candidates in the field to sign on to that pledge? Should they resist that?

BOLTON: Well, I have a lot of respect for Asa. Everybody's got to make up their own mind. I didn't vote for Trump in 2020. I didn't vote for Joe Biden either. I live in Maryland. I wrote in the name of a conservative Republican because there weren't any conservative Republicans on the 2020 ballot.

ACOSTA: All right. Ambassador John Bolton, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.

BOLTON: Glad to be with you.

ACOSTA: All right. Coming up this hour, a migrant mystery in California. A group of 16 dropped off in Sacramento by a private jet, but the migrants say they had no idea where they were being taken or who was flying them there.

Plus, reaction to the ruling of a federal judge who found Tennessee's anti-drag show law is unconstitutional.

And later, they're not just fighting for voters and donors. We'll speak to an author of a new report on Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, and their online power struggle for support from right wing influencers. It's an important story. Stay with us. We'll talk about it just a little bit. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."



ACOSTA: An investigation is underway in California after a plane dropped off more than a dozen migrants in Sacramento. Officials say the migrants were then driven to a church and dumped as has been described, without any prior arrangements. The state's attorney general is calling it possible state sanctioned kidnapping. And CNN's Camila Bernal is tracking this for us. Camila, what are officials saying about who might be behind this?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, they don't know at the moment, but they do say they're going to get to the bottom of it. What we know in terms of what's happening here in California is that both the attorney general and the governor met with these migrants. They were originally from Colombia and from Venezuela. They are all in their 20s and 30s according to the nonprofit group that is taking care of them at the moment.

And as you mentioned, part of their journey was going from Texas to New Mexico, and then getting on this private jet to California. Once they got to Sacramento, they were dropped off in front of the diocese of Sacramento, outside of the offices there. And what the attorney general is saying in terms of documentation, is that he believes it could be from Florida.

I want to read that statement in terms of exactly what the attorney general says. He says, "We can confirm these individuals were in possession of documentations purporting to be from the government of the state of Florida." And then in that statement, he goes on to say, "State-sanctioned kidnapping is not public policy choice. It is immoral and it is disgusting."

Now, we do know that the attorney general is looking at possible civil and criminal action against the people that transported these migrants and also the people that maybe arranged the transport for these migrants. He's looking at who paid for all of this. And he's also looking at whether or not these migrants were misled, were given false promises about coming to California. Now, this nonprofit faith-based group that is currently taking care of

the migrants says they will continue to support them and help them in this journey. They also have a lot of questions as to how these migrants got here and said that a lot of these migrants didn't even know where they were or where they were going. I want you to listen to one of the organization's spokespersons for what is happening here with these migrants.


SHIREEN MILES, SACRAMENTO ACT: Well, we are happy to receive them and welcome them and want to give them whatever support they need. They will be in trouble if they don't show up at the court hearing that has been scheduled for them.


BERNAL: And Jim, you know, this is not the first time that migrants are arriving to a Democratic-led state. Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis sent two planes with migrants to Martha's Vineyard and we've seen these migrants being bussed to cities like New York and others. So, again, the state of California is investigating but also saying they're going to treat these people with dignity and respect. Jim?

ACOSTA: All right, as they should be. All right, Camila Bernal, thank you very much.

New developments concerning a controversial Tennessee law that's drawn attention and ire of many progressives on Friday. A Trump-appointed federal judge ruled the state's new law limiting public drag show performances is unconstitutional. CNN's Isabel Rosales has been following this case and joins us now with more details.


ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, Federal Judge Thomas Parker, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, has barred now Shelby County where Memphis is at from enforcing this law, saying in part of a 70-page ruling, quote, "As a matter of text alone, the Adult Entertainment Act is a content and view point-based restriction on speech. The AEA was passed for the impermissible purpose of chilling constitutionally protected speech.

We also received a statement from the Republican Tennessee Attorney General, Jonathan Skrmetti, and here is what he said in part. "The scope of this law has been misrepresented in public by those more interested in pressing a narrative than in reading the statutory text. The Adult Entertainment Act remains in effect outside of Shelby County. This narrowly tailored law protects minors from exposure to sexually explicit performances."

The attorney general also saying that his office is reviewing that judge's order and that they do plan to appeal, in quote, "when the appropriate time comes along." CNN did speak with one of the co-hosts of the HBO Original Series "We're Here," a Tennessee native, Eureka O'Hara. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EUREKA O'HARA, DRAG QUEEN FROM TENNESSEE: Drag is such an expression of who we are and freedom of who we are. So, to be, you know, co-put into a box with something so sexually explicit, it really just kind of demeaned the message that I was doing especially for my work specifically with "We're Here." So, it was saddening at the same time.


ROSALES: And earlier this year, Tennessee Republicans who hold the supermajority in the state legislature passed this measure, soon after it was signed into law by Governor Bill Lee. And here's what the law sought to do specifically to limit adult cabaret performances on public property to shield children from viewing them and threatened violators with a misdemeanor and repeat offenders with a felony.

The ban also specifically included, quote, "male or female impersonators who perform in a way that is harmful to minors." Now, this law was originally set to take into effect April 1st, but has been delayed with this legal process. And at least in the case of Shelby County for now, it will not go into effect. Jim?

ACOSTA: All right, Isabel Rosales, thanks very much for that. We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: Soon, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley will take questions from primary voters and Jake Tapper will moderate the CNN town hall. It starts tonight at 8:00 Eastern, only on CNN. And as the fight for donors and voters heats up in the 2024 presidential primary on the Republican side, a new battle front is emerging between the race's two top candidates.

Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are scrambling in a behind the scenes competition for social media influencers. Sources tell "Rolling Stones" magazine the Florida governor is trying to peel off some of Trump's most ardent online supporters.

Joining us now is one of the reporters on this story, "Rolling Stone's" senior political reporter Asawin Suebsaeng. Asawin, great to see you. Help us out here. Why is this competition for online influencers so critical to Trump and the DeSantis campaigns. I mean, we saw -- I mean, obviously, we know Trump, you know, went, you know, went gang busters with this stuff back in 2016 and kind of revolutionized campaigning on Twitter, on social media. I suppose that's part of this.

ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, ROLLING STONES, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it might seem a bit be surreal to your average political observer and some of your viewers to think that this online terrain of Trump and DeSantis and their teams fighting over who will win control of the support of the Babylon Bee, the Bill Mitchells of the world, the Dave Rubins of the world or the Christian Walkers of the world.

It might seem a little bit bizarre and a little bit strange at that has seeped so much into mainstream Republican political campaigning, but if you talk to numerous head honchos and Republican operatives who are leading these efforts of whether it's the Trump or DeSantis efforts, we can talk about other campaigns as well, they will tell you that these messaging wars that are fought online and on the airwaves, you need or at least really want to have these kind of hyper aggressive right-wing online influencers in your camp, according to these people, as ferociously as these two campaign have. Please.

ACOSTA: Yeah, I know. Asawin, I mean, you mentioned the Babylon Bee, and for our viewers at home who are not familiar with this, you know, this is not just a lot of D.C. insiders obsessing over what's on social media. But you wrote about how the biggest prize for either campaign in the social media contest is for the conservative satire website, The Babylon Bee. Can you explain what that is and why is this so important. I know it's been described by some as sort of like the far-right's "onion."

SUEBSAENG: That's a perfect way to put it. It's basically a satirical comedy site that tries to be what the "onion" is I guess for other mainstream audiences or for the left if you think it is a -- if you believe it is, in fact, liberal leaning. But they do it with a MAGA tinge or whatever you want to call it.

And according to guys like this, for Republican presidential campaigns nowadays, it's very much akin to what the mainstream Republican campaigns did in 2015 and 2016 in terms of trying to get for instance, major Fox News personalities on their side.


Or to get endorsements from not just congressmen and congresswomen, but also major top radio hosts, not just nationally syndicated ones but ones who are big players in Iowa and different key states.

ACOSTA: And so, how is the DeSantis campaign wooing some of these influencers over to his side, not just the campaign, but also people who were aligned with Ron DeSantis? I mean, they're really going after this side of the Republican Party, this side of the right in the United States as a way to make end roads and go after Trump.

SUEBSAENG: Oh, yeah. And they're doing it with him and his senior staff offering exclusive access in at least one case that we found in our reporting, team Ron was going around saying, look, we might have a job for you. According to our messages we've reviewed, Christina Pushaw -- I'm sorry if I'm butchering that last name -- one of Ron DeSantis's top communication aides was quietly discussing with one of these conservative online influencers, look, do you want to come and make memes for team DeSantis during the 2024 onslaught.

So, there is a lot of different ways that they've been trying to curry favor with these groups and these individuals. And team Trump has noticed on a number of occasions. According to our reporting, Donald Trump has been briefed by some of his key lieutenants about which influencers are winnable, which influencers are firmly in his camp, and which ones he is losing to Ron DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis himself has gotten similar briefings on this. We spoke to one person with direct knowledge of the matter, that this person has briefed Trump specifically earlier this year on losing people like Bill Mitchell and losing the Babylon Bee. Is this what they consider the most important terrain in terms of ideological or political conflict in the 2024 primary? No.

Twitter is not real life and that applies to political campaigning just as it does the other facets of ordinary life. Having said that, this is an important bloc that they have identified when it comes to the messaging fight and the way that Republican campaigns are now waged in modern American society.

ACOSTA: And why is this fight over memes and what happens on social media and on these kinds of influential conservative sites important? Is it because there is the potential for some of these sites to push disinformation? What is it that makes it so critical to everyday voters out there?

SUEBSAENG: Well, I mean, a lot of these individuals even if they are operating in a bubble, an extremely online right-wing bubble, they still do have some degree of pull in terms of their follower accounts. Not all of those big numbers, whether they're in the hundreds of thousands or millions are entirely fake or bots. There are real people behind those accounts.

But along with that, their ability to influence messaging and getting into the ears of journalists, getting into the Fox News and talk radio and extremely viral conservative eco-system, they do have abilities there that are very useful when you're trying to win over more Republican based voters, when you're trying to make a bigger splash when it come to the heavily trafficked, including through Facebook and other websites conservative hubs that can be building blocks, if not in and of themselves, the make it or break it factor. They can be building blocks to that if you're trying to route a Trump or route a DeSantis in a primary like 2024s.

ACOSTA: All right. It's a fascinating part of this process. We're going to keep an eye on it and I know you will as well, Asawin. Thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.

SUEBSAENG: Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right, and new tonight, the union for the Hollywood directors are reaching what they call a historic tentative labor deal. What does that mean for the writers who have been on strike? We'll discuss that coming up. You're live in the "CNN Newsroom."



ACOSTA: A tentative deal has been reached between Hollywood studios and the Director's Guild of America. This as the ongoing writers' strike enters its fifth week. CNN's Chloe Melas is live in New York with more details. Chloe, what is the director's union getting out of this deal? Hopefully, this is a good development on a lot of fronts here because this is affecting the writers as well.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Well, this is an incredibly big moment, Jim, for everyone at home that cares about the content that their watching and consuming because of these strikes. It greatly effects the fact that they might all be running out of content, these studios, had they not reached a deal.

Now, the writers are still on strike, but the director's guild calling it a truly historic deal. So, I want to break down to you what this means. So, the main things that the director's guild wanted, Jim, were higher wages and they wanted artificial intelligence and streaming concerns to be addressed and it looks like they got that.

So, five percent wage increase in the first year. And then in the following two years you're going to see smaller increases. You're going to see assistant directors having their work days cut down by one hour. And we have heard from people in all of these guilds talking about being underpaid and overworked.

Next, something that I found really interesting, is that the contract is going to be banning live ammunition on set. This is coming after what happened over a year ago on the set of "Rust" with Halyna Hutchins being killed when a live bullet somehow was fired out of the prop gun that Alec Baldwin was holding.

It also has the clause I talked about when it says, look, A.I. is not a person and that generative A.I. could not replace the duties performed by members. So that hopefully puts some people at ease in that union.


And then for the first time, global streaming video-on-demand residuals would be paid based on the number of international subscribers. Jim, last week, you and I heard from two writers who talked about the fact that they were not seeing residuals. And when it comes to streaming, they don't know how many clicks and how many people are actually --

ACOSTA: Right.

MELAS: -- watching and consuming the content. And so, this is all tentative, Jim, and we hopefully will see this go into effect on Tuesday.

ACOSTA: Yeah. I mean, there is all of this money flooding into streaming these days and I -- you know, obviously everybody wants their fair side of the deal. What does this mean for the writer's strike because this has been dragging on for weeks now?

MELAS: Five weeks, and you know, look, the writers' strike, they came out and said we support our friends in the director's guild, in all of the guilds, and you know, rumors, you know, there are rumblings on social media that SAG-AFTRA could be next with their agreement coming. But they said we are standing strong and we are going to hold out for

what we believe we deserve, in terms of what they want with wages, what they want with hours, and how they want residuals and streaming and A.I. to affect them and how they want to see that going forward.

But this is a water shed moment, what we're seeing with the director's guild, and hopefully we will see all of these guilds feel like they're being fairly compensated and valued so that they can continue to make the content, Jim, that we all love to watch.

ACOSTA: Yeah. I just finished the last episode of "Ted Lasso." We need our writers, you know, our directors working so we can keep getting that great content. Chloe Melas, great to see you as always. Thanks so much. We appreciate it. We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: And we do have some breaking news coming into CNN. F-16 fighter jets were scrambled around Washington, D.C. shortly before a small plane crashed in Virginia. CNN's Natasha Bertrand joins us now. What are you learning, Natasha?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yeah, Jim. So, we are told that U.S. F-16 fighter jets were scrambled today in response to an aircraft that ultimately did crash in southwest Virginia. Now, we are told that the fighter jets did not actually shoot this plane down and that the aircraft crashed for unknown reasons.

It's not clear, for example, if it violated air space around Washington, D.C., and if that's why the jets went after it. But we are told that they did not actually physically shoot that aircraft down. Now, the U.S. military aircraft did actually caused a sonic boom just because of the speeds that they were traveling at when they were kind of chasing this aircraft.

And, you know, we reported earlier that the aircraft that was ultimately downed was a CESNA Citation that crashed in Staunton, Virginia. Now, the sonic boom was so loud that people across Washington, D.C., Virginia, and the surrounding areas actually heard them and we have video of that.


So obviously it sounded very, very loud to a lot of residents around D.C. wondering what that could have been. Well, we are now told that it is the direct result of these aircrafts, these fighter jets chasing after this aircraft. And according to the FAA which released a statement about this aircraft that did crash in southwest Virginia.

This was an aircraft that took off from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Tennessee and was bound for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York. The plane crashed into a mountainous terrain in a sparsely populated area according to the FAA, and we are expecting more information on this from the Pentagon and the FAA shortly, Jim. ACOSTA: And Natasha, I just -- because this is all coming in in the

last several minutes here to us at CNN, did you just say a few moments ago that the plane didn't make it very far. It just made it from Tennessee to around Staunton Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, but did not make it to the Washington, D.C., area, is that correct? If you can walk us through those steps again.

BERTRAND: Yeah, Jim. So, what the FAA has told us is that this aircraft took off from Tennessee and it was headed to MacArthur Airport on Long Island in New York. But it is unclear if it actually made it all the way to New York. However, there was concern because the aircraft was unresponsive. And at that point, when it was kind of hovering near D.C., it's unclear if it actually violated D.C. air space.

That is when the fighter jets went and scrambled it. And then ultimately, it is unclear what the exact sequence of events here that led to it crashing. But it did ultimately crash and we are told that that is not because of the jets themselves. They did not shoot it down. So, obviously we still need to wait for more information, Jim.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And forgive me if I'm pushing into areas where you have to speculate beyond where we have the facts at this point. Let me get a national security analyst, Juliette Kayyem. She joins us. Juliette, if the plane only made it as far as Staunton, Virginia, that relative area in this area and went to college at that neck of the woods, that plane was starting to get closer to Washington, D.C., but was still a good couple of hours away.


ACOSTA: And so, if -- if it went down there, there must have been some concern on the part of defense officials as to what the plane was doing or how it was flying. What is your sense of this as we're hearing about this now?

KAYYEM: Right.

ACOSTA: Obviously the sonic boom startled everybody in The Washington, D.C. area, but we still have a lot of questions about what was going on with this plane.


KAYYEM: Okay. So, the scenario that would be envisioned for this, so this is, you know, if, you know, why were they scrambled if it wasn't so close to D.C., is that now we're hearing or we're reporting that the Cessna was unresponsive. So, if that's the case, some air facility, air control tower would have known that, especially if it was flying too low.

By that sense, all of these air control facilities are connected, and if they start to get worried that there is a Cessna that's being unresponsive either because it's nefarious or something happened to the pilot, they are going to notify DOD. Now, there's 10 military bases around the D.C. area. We don't know where these scrambled from. Likely Bolling if, you know, to be realistic here. But -- and they would have been scrambled because of the unresponsiveness.

Now, once again, to people listening, the unresponsiveness isn't necessarily nefarious. Bad things happen to pilots that are not ill will and we will find out what happened. The fact that the plane went down before it reached D.C. at least to me suggests that -- and that it wasn't shot down, at least to me suggests that this -- something happened in the cockpit that made the pilot unresponsive and the plane just went down. a tragedy, and obviously scary to people in the D.C. area who are not used to these scrambles happening often.

ACOSTA: That's right. And obviously people who are in the Washington, D.C. area and lived through 9/11 recall that there was that period after 9/11 where, you know, things had to be tightened up from an air defense standpoint over the nation's capital. Juliette, Natasha, stay with us for just a few moments. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to gather some more information about what took place with these F-16s scrambling in response to a plane that ultimately crashed in the mountains of Virginia. We'll have more on this in just a few moments. Stay with us.