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Putin Gives Defiant Speech During Scaled-Back Victory Day; Victims of Allen, Texas Shooting Remembered; Enforcement Operation to Begin Targeting Migrants in El Paso; New Gallup Polls: Low Confidence in Leaders on Economy; Biden to Meet with Congressional Leaders about Debt Ceiling. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 09, 2023 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR/CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Thanks for joining me. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning, everyone. We're glad you're with us. Kaitlan is on assignment. My buddy Phil is here. Good morning.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Thank you for letting me come back. I wasn't sure after yesterday. But I feel good about this.

HARLOW: You're such a pleasure. You make these mornings great. Did you get some sleep?

MATTINGLY: I did. A little bit. Simple (ph) House, by the way. Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: It's good to have you. We've got a lot going on today, so let's' get to the "Five Things to Know" for this Tuesday, May the 9th, 2023.

Vladimir Putin speaking from Red Square claiming the, quote, "real war" is being waged on Russia during a scaled-back Victory Day ceremony. The speech comes hours after Russia launched several cruise missiles at Kyiv.

Also the gunman behind the Texas mall shooting had a very disturbing online history, full of posts about Nazis and mass shooters. Police say he killed eight people, ranging in age from 3 years old to 37.

MATTINGLY: And happening today, President Biden hosting a high-stakes meeting with Congressional leaders to discuss the debt limit. The country is at risk of default if a deal isn't reached by early June.

E. Jean Carroll's rape trial against Donald Trump now nearing an end. The judge says that the jury will begin deliberations today.

HARLOW: And get this: a possible meteorite crashes into a home in New Jersey. The homeowner says it fell from the sky, tore a hole in the roof, ricocheted around the room, and when she touched it, it was still warm. That's right.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

Well, new this morning, Vladimir Putin giving a defiant speech to the Russian people on Victory Day, as his invasion of Ukraine continues to struggle. Listen.




HARLOW: The annual military parade, which celebrates Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany, was significantly scaled back this year. There was only one tank, and it was from World War II. And there was no flyover of fighter jets or bombers.

In his speech Putin blamed the West for stoking the war, he claims, with Ukraine.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The Ukrainian nation has become hostage to a coup, which led to a criminal regime led by its Western masters. It has become a pawn to their cruel and selfish plans.


HARLOW: Security was tight. The military parade comes just days after a mysterious drone attack on the Kremlin. You'll recall hours before Putin's speech, Russia launched cruise missiles at Ukraine's capital of Kyiv, but Ukrainian air defense shot them down.

So let's begin this hour with our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance.

Matthew, good morning. Quite a stark difference. You've been covering the Putin regime, Moscow, for so long. It's striking to see the difference between this year and previous.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think Poppy, there were some really striking differences. And the first one was that it was a much smaller parade than we've seen in past years. There were about 8,000 troops that took place. I think last year, it was closer to 12,000.

The number of armored vehicles was far fewer. In fact, there was only -- as you mentioned, there was only one tank that was on display this year. And that was a Second World War tank. So no modern tanks.

The centerpiece, of course, remained the intercontinental ballistic missiles. One of them, at least, that was paraded through the cobbles of Red Square. So they're still taking pains to make sure everybody understands that Russia is a nuclear power. But the fact that there was such a reduced number of -- of military

vehicles, reduced number of personnel there, as well, I think is a reflection of two things.

First of all, the security concern because, you know, there's been an upsurge in attacks against key Russian installations over the course of the last couple of weeks. Just last week, there was an attack by drones, according to the Kremlin against the Kremlin itself, just a short distance from where this parade was being held. And so there was a great deal of insecurity and concern and tension ahead of this military parade.

Secondly, I think there's -- there's, you know, speculation that actually, Russia doesn't have that much military equipment that isn't already deployed that it can draw on to display in a military parade like this.

And so, it was a very telling military parade, Victory Day parade this year, Poppy.

HARLOW: That's what I was wondering. Is this because of a lack of available resources just to show them off in a parade.

Matthew chance, thanks so much for the reporting.

MATTINGLY: And also this morning, we're now seeing the disturbing trail of social media posts and photos left behind by the mass shooter who killed eight people, including children, at a Texas outlet mall.


The gunman had a profile on a Russian social media site. It reveals an obsession with Nazis, with guns, with mass shootings. And he seemed to indicate he was going to attack them all.

Just a few weeks ago, he posted outside the outlet mall, along with a screen shot from Google that shows just how busy it was on a Saturday. It says, "as busy as it gets."

Now the gunman also posted photos of the tactical vests he apparently wore during the shooting. It has that RWDS patch police believe stands for "Right-Wing Death Squad."

The shooter also shared photos of his guns, a pile of ammunition boxes, and a shooting target.

CNN has learned the mass shooter was able to buy his weapons legally, without a background check, under Texas law. All that despite getting kicked out of the U.S. Army over mental health concerns.

We're also learning more about the victims, including a couple and their 3-year-old son. CNN senior national correspondent Ed Lavandera is live outside the mall in Allen, Texas -- Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Phil. Well, despite all of those troubling details that you've just

mentioned that we've learned about the shooter, it's now become very possible to talk about the victims in this case.

And to give you a sense of the magnitude and the scope of how profound of an impact this shooting has had, the GoFundMe page for the Cho family, the little boy who was left without his parents and little brother, has reached almost $1.2 million.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He always loved riding his little Segway around. And it was so fun to see him speed by and then stop in.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Christian LaCour was a well-liked security guard at the outlet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was just the kind of person who would walk into the store, and everyone in the room would light up, because he was there.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The 20-year-old is just one of the victims gunned down at the outlet mall in Allen, Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May he rest in peace and sending so much love to him and his family.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The shooting devastated two entire families, who both lost multiple loved ones. One of them is the Cho family.

The family of four was visiting the mall, but only 6-year-old William survived the shooting. His parents, Kyu Son Cho and Shin Young Kang, and his 3-year-old brother, James, were all killed.

William remains in the hospital and was just removed from the ICU.

And two young sisters were killed in the shooting: fourth-grader Daniela Mendoza and second-grader Sofia Mendoza. Their mother remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Also killed was Aishwarya Thatikonda, an engineer who was just days away from turning 28.

And Elio Cumana-Rivas. In total, eight people dead, three of them children. And at least seven others wounded after yet another mass shooting in America.

JOSHUA BARNWELL, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Even though they may still be alive, they are forever changed. And generally speaking, not for the positive.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Joshua Barnwell, a Navy combat veteran, was at the mall shopping that day when the shooting began. Trained in emergency care, he helped tend to the victims.

BARNWELL: I want people to really and truly understand the depths of the depravity that occurred, because it was a disastrous situation.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation tells CNN that the shooter served in the U.S. military for three months. He did not complete basic training and was removed because of mental health concerns.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is urging patience in the wait of answers.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): I believe in the coming days, the public will be much better informed about why in the hell this happened.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And the governor making those comments because state investigators here really been under a great deal of criticism. It's now been three days since they've not even answered any questions about this shooting. That is expected to change later today.

We also, Phil, want to share a statement from the lawyer from the -- for the Allen police officer who shot the gunman on Saturday. The lawyer says in a statement, "The officer sprinted towards high-power rifle fire as everyone else ran away. He's a brave servant with a gentle heart that embodies the best the law enforcement profession has to offer. He's doing well and would appreciate privacy as he continues to process this life-changing -- life-altering tragedy." That statement given to CNN affiliate WFAA.

But it has been a devastating few days here in Allen, Texas, as people continue to cope with the magnitude of this tragedy -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yes, no question. Ed Lavandera for us in Allen, Texas. Thanks so much.

HARLOW: Also happening today, federal authorities will conduct what they're calling a targeted enforcement operation. This is in El Paso, Texas, trying to remove or detain undocumented immigrants as officials warn daily migrant encounters could soar to 10,000 after the pandemic- era border restriction policy known as Title 42 expires just two days from now.


Texas Governor Greg Abbott also posting this video overnight, saying an area where a large number of migrants were crossing has been, quote, "wired shut." That's right near the border of Brownsville.

Our Nick Valencia is live there with more.

Nick, good morning to you. Officials say there are over 8,000 encounters with migrants every day. What are you seeing? What are you hearing on the ground?


Border communities like the one I'm here in Brownsville, Texas, are already seeing an increase in migration ahead of the end of Title 42 with the Department of Homeland Security saying they're getting about 8,000 encounters per day. They're saying after Thursday, that number could shoot up by another 2,000 to 10,000 per day.

Here on the streets of Brownsville, we saw firsthand people sleeping on the streets. The record numbers that they're already seeing here prompted the city last month to declare a state of emergency.

Team Brownsville, which is a nonprofit that helps migrants after they cross into Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley, says at its respite center, they have 1,000 migrants staying there, and they're at capacity, which is why people here are sleeping on the streets.

Overnight, you mentioned Texas Governor Greg Abbott announcing a security operation, securing a point that has been used historically as illegal point of entry for individuals crossing, Abbott saying he expects to do the same in other border communities like El Paso, which just like here and the Rio Grande Valley, has historically seen a large number of people cross, using it to cross the border.

The Biden administration, meanwhile, has announced 1,500 active-duty troops are going to be sent here to the border. They'll join 2,500 National Guard members who will serve in an administrative capacity over the course of the next 90 days.

They have a plan in place, but the big question is will that plan work? DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says that they expect that their preparations will be enough to handle what is being called the surge of traffic -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Nick, do we know when those 1,500 additional troops from the Biden administration are actually coming? Because there's been some criticism from Democrats like Senators Menendez and Sinema, some saying they won't get there by the time Title 42 expires?

VALENCIA: You know, that's a great point. And we haven't seen them here from our own vantage point. The administration says that they had been deployed. But we haven't haven't seen that here.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration also announcing overnight that they're going to have an interior enforcement operation which drew criticism from the Border Patrol union here along the border, Poppy. They are saying that the administration has given a heads up to people that they're looking for -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Nick, thanks so much to you and your team for that reporting.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And also happening today, well, buckle up. A critical meeting between President Biden, top Congressional leaders on the debt ceiling. What it means for Wall Street, Main Street and the global economy.

HARLOW: Also, there's new polling out overnight, and it shows Americans are not very confident in our leaders right now when it comes to the economy. We'll tell you what the numbers say, ahead.


HARLOW: Just hours to go until a critical White House meeting between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other Congressional leaders on the debt crisis, the debt ceiling.

How confident are Americans in our economy right now? Not very. According to new Gallup numbers out this morning, just 35 percent have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in President Biden to do the right thing on the economy.

And members of Congress don't fare any better: 34 percent say they're confident in Democratic leaders in Congress; 38 percent say the same of Republican leaders in Congress.

Phil, this is your beat. That's -- no bueno, as they say, for anyone.

MATTINGLY: Yes. I mean, it's kind of hard to think that people would have confidence, given the fact that we're doing this again, on the brink of a self-imposed catastrophe, just for the sake of being on the brink of a self-imposed catastrophe, which has become the norm in Washington over the course of the last decade.

HARLOW: Well said.

MATTINGLY: And yet, that also underscores why today's meeting is so critical. Today's meeting in the Oval Office, where President Biden will be meeting with those four Congressional leaders.

This is the first time the president and Speaker Kevin McCarthy have sat down in nearly 100 days. The stare-down, this game of chicken perhaps starting the end game. I say perhaps for a reason.

If you look at the players that are going to be in the room today, you'll notice we've grouped them together. And not just because they're of the same party. Republicans Kevin McCarthy, Senator Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the chamber. Democrats President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries.

They're together because they are very unified. There have been no cracks between the two sides. There have been no disparate efforts from moderates or perhaps Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to break off and make a deal. Everyone is aligned.

And where are they aligned? Well, if you want to take the White House side of things, they're aligned like this. The position the president and his team have had, that Democrats on Capitol Hill have aligned with him on throughout the course of this process, two-step process. Clean debt ceiling increase or suspension. Then, they're willing to have a discussion about the contours of a fiscal deal.

Now, the question going forward is, Republicans are obviously opposed to that. They don't want anything clean.

So the idea from the White House is avert disaster, push the next deadline beyond 2024, and then have what's happened pretty often in Washington, negotiations over actual spending and budget. Work out the specific policy to address the debt after the debt ceiling is taken care of.

But here's the interesting element. This is what you're going to hear from Republicans, including today. In the past, negotiations over the debt ceiling have happened between who?

Well, if you look at this picture, from 2011, there's then-Vice President Biden. Sitting right next to him is then-Senate Republican Mitch McConnell. Those two struck the deal that essentially saved the day, pulled the economy and Congress and the White House back from the brink and forestalled the last near catastrophe.

So why is 2023 so different from 2011? Democrats back in 2011, many of whom were there and now still are in the White House, feel like they got burned when they decided to entertain the debt ceiling as a negotiating tactic at all. Many of them vowed never to govern through that self-imposed crisis again.

So where does that leave things? Well, if talks fail, there are, at least according to academics, some legal experts, some last resort options the president could ostensibly take. We're talking about things like invoking the 14th Amendment, which declares that all public debt of the United States valid.

The treasury could prioritize some payments over others as a way to maybe minimize the fallout from the default.

Treasury, this is a very popular Internet idea, minting a $1 trillion coin to pay its bills. Maybe even fund the government with the sale of consul bonds, which never actually mature.


Here's the reality, and this should be unsurprising at this point: the White House wants no part of any of those options.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: If they fail to do it, we will have an economic and financial catastrophe that will be of our own making. And there is no action that President Biden and the U.S. Treasury can take to prevent that catastrophe.


MATTINGLY: So where exactly do things stand right now? None of these options on the table? Well, the White House is making clear they're not moving at all. That kind of means things aren't really in an ideal place. Take a listen.


BHARAT RAMAMURTI, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: There is no Plan B. Our plan is for Congress to act to address the debt limit without conditions, just like they've done 78 times in the past, just like they did three times under President Trump.


HARLOW: All right. We're covering this from all angles, from Capitol Hill to Wall Street, and also the global repercussions.

Let's go to Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill.

So Phil just set the stage beautifully for us about what's realistic. I thought it was striking to hear from the White House yesterday in that interview with Jake that there is no Plan B.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, Poppy, that is the big question going into this meeting. How are they going to resolve this? And if they can't, what options are on the table?

And Phil laid them out beautifully. The options aren't great.

But when Kevin McCarthy, the House speaker, walks into this meeting today at the White House, he is the leader to watch.

And in conversations I've had with key allies, as well as close aides to the speaker over the last 24 hours, one thing has emerged as increasingly surprising but true. McCarthy walks into this meeting today with potentially more leverage than anyone in that room expected him to have.

And that is because the vast majority of his conference was united around a plan to reduce spending and increase the debt ceiling. And many of them tell me that they still trust the speaker to go into that room, negotiate the best deal that he can, and that's not to say that a resolution comes out of one meeting.

But they say that they really do have faith in the speaker who, over the course of the next several months, is going to walk a really difficult tight rope between holding onto his speakership and making sure that the country doesn't default on its debt -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Lauren, thank you very much. We'll see what happens.

MATTINGLY: I want to bring in CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

Romans, the street has been a little Zen about this. Which is a little bit surprising.


MATTINGLY: What are they watching with this big meeting today?

ROMANS: So the S&P 500 is up 8 percent this year. How can the S&P be up 8 percent when we are on the brink of a catastrophe here?

Well, what Wall Street is telling you is that failure is not an option and that they will not fail at this. And they will get something done. And they're hoping, look, the risk of a default is not zero. And that's a terrible position to be in, but they're hoping that something gets done here.

When you look at the treasuries and the treasury market, that's where you can start to see the stress playing out and the worries playing out. The cost to ensure against a default have skyrocketed. That's a small little market. But that tells you that there are worries about this overall.

I think what's really important for people to remember is we're talking about people getting a Social Security check or we're talking about active-duty military getting paid.

And we're also talking about the creditworthiness of the United States. The whole financial system, the global financial system, is built on us borrowing money. The United States borrowing money and paying it back religiously and on time.

There's a lot of discussion in financial markets right now about the dollar, what this could mean for the dollar, what it could mean for the dollar as a reserve currency. There are big, big existential problems with playing with this debt ceiling fire. The stock market is telling you right now, they're going to fix it.

HARLOW: I think, to Phil's point about Zen, is it's also because last time when we got even close, within, what, 72 hours of defaulting, we saw -- we lost our stellar AAA, you know, credit rating.

ROMANS: Stocks tanked.

HARLOW: Stocks tanked. And I think it cost 1.3 trillion.

ROMANS: Yes. It cost more to ensure that big pile of national debt --


ROMANS: -- because we got so close to the edge, which is ironic. That they're fighting over, you know, paying interest costs on national debt, and then you make it worse by arguing about it.


ROMANS: Look, they've got to figure this out. They've got to figure this out. And there are plenty of people on Wall Street who think they won't, they won't get it until the stock market tumbles 25 percent. And then suddenly, they'll find the religion. So hopefully, that doesn't happen.

HARLOW: Thank you. All right.

And let's talk about the global implications here. Our senior CNN international correspondent Marc Stewart is live in Tokyo.

Mark, what do you think? I mean, I thought it was interesting that we heard the director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, warn about adversarial countries, like China, like Russia, that could take advantage of this from a national security standpoint? MARC STEWART, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are so

many faces to this, Poppy. I mean, there's also this lingering question: if there is a debt default in the U.S., would it lead to a global recession?

And for good reason, because we have seen in many examples when there is financial hardship in one part of the world, it spreads around the entire globe.


I mean, as Christine was talking, this certainly could impact stocks and bonds and the value of the U.S. dollar.

But I'm thinking about where I live here in Japan. This is a nation that sells a lot of items. It does a lot of trade with the United States. We're talking about cars. We're talking about electronics. We're even talking about whiskey.

If there is a debt default or even if things start to slow down in the United States because of this anticipation, it could impact demand for many of these items that Japan and the rest of the world sells to the U.S.

That could impact companies and their bottom line and instead trickle into workers and their families. So that's why we're hearing strong warnings like Christine Lagarde of the Central Bank in Europe, as well as Mark Zandi, an economist, who says this could be financial Armageddon.

HARLOW: Yes. Marc Stewart, thank you very much from that perspective from Tokyo.

And tomorrow night, exclusively right here on CNN, former President Donald Trump will take questions from our friend, Kaitlan Collins, and New Hampshire GOP primary voters. The CNN Republican presidential town hall. That is live tomorrow night, 8 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

MATTINGLY: Last night, LeBron James, little "Witness" vibes. That's an Ohio, Cleveland shout-out, by the way.

HARLOW: All right. "Witness"?

MATTINGLY: We'll talk about it. Lakers pushed the defending champion Golden State Warriors to the brink of elimination. We've got a full breakdown coming up next.

HARLOW: Plus, police say a meteorite -- that's right, a meteorite -- may have struck a home in New Jersey. Those details ahead.


HARLOW: Oh, my gosh, "Armageddon," the best movie ever. I love that movie. It was Liv Tyler.