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Robert Zimmerman is Interviewed about George Santos; Israel Strikes Islamic Jihad Target; Texas Gunman Had Neo-Nazi; Jens Stoltenberg is Interviewed about Russia's War. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 10, 2023 - 06:30   ET



ROBERT ZIMMERMAN (D), FORMER NY CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE LOST RACE TO GEORGE SANTOS: Hold the Republicans accountable for keeping George Santos in Congress. That's really the bottom line here. I want to see much more aggressive work done and I want to see - and I think we have to invest in local media much more aggressively too to make sure they're supported.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk about going forward. You mention the four seats that went Republican.


MATTINGLY: I mean New York was the majority maker for Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely right.

MATTINGLY: There's no doubt about it. George Santos is one of those. The other Republicans who flip seats or won Biden districts in New York have all, almost to a person, come out.


MATTINGLY: And attacked Santos, said he should resign, said he should be removed. It's very clear in the district.


MATTINGLY: The Republican leaders feel that way as well. He's clearly not going anywhere. The speaker has not asked for him to leave. Why?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, you know, look, at the end of the day, Kevin McCarthy is going to have to make a decision about whether he wants to stand up for the integrity of his institution or protect George Santos. And it's very clear in a Republican Party, where Donald Trump is the front-runner for president and Marjorie Taylor Greene's in House leadership, that they're not embarrass by George Santos and they don't feel the urgency to hold him accountable for the crimes and lies he's already committed.

But you made an important point, Phil, in the earlier part of the show. He's -- Santos is more than just a late-night punch line or a Washington topic. We are suffering in our congressional district because we don't have a member of Congress. And we have - and we don't have a congressional office addressing issues like affordability or getting funding in our district for infrastructure. These are critical issues. Making our community safer. This is where we need a strong, congressional voice. And that's what's so critical in our district and it's missing.

I spent a good part of my time taking casework questions from so many constituents or local government groups that need assistance and we're trying to help them. But this is serious business, not having a member of Congress who's addressing the real needs of the people of our district, yes.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Are you going to run again?

ZIMMERMAN: You know, my only focus, Poppy, and we've talked about this before, is making sure that George Santos is expelled from Congress and holding those accountable who refuse to do it. And that's my focus. After that we'll look at the - we'll look at the political agenda when we have a political agenda. Right now it's about public service. Right now it's about holding him accountable and holding the Republicans accountable to get him out.

HARLOW: I do think the note about local media, it was some of those smallest papers that pointed some of this stuff out.

MATTINGLY: They - they were breaking the news and writing the news.

ZIMMERMAN: That's right. They were. And we were - and we were circulating -

MATTINGLY: And I think as much as - as much as there was an autopsy on the validity of oppo research, who had what files, who was doing what -


MATTINGLY: It was also, I think, the national media looking around and saying, oh, this was actually reported. They do break these - these stories. Yes.

HARLOW: What did we miss? Yes.

ZIMMERMAN: We took those local stories and we sent them everywhere, gave them out door to door, distributed them everywhere we could.

MATTINGLY: Yes. It's -

ZIMMERMAN: Obviously, it was a frustrating time but it's more important now to move forward and try to regain the integrity of our system.


MATTINGLY: Yes, that's -- Robert Zimmerman, thanks so much for coming in. We appreciate it.

ZIMMERMAN: Thank you very much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: And a quick programming note, Kaitlan Collins will moderate an exclusive CNN town hall with former President Trump. It airs live tonight from New Hampshire at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

HARLOW: This morning we are learning new details about a gunman who opened fire at that mall in Texas this weekend, murdering eight people, more still in the hospital. We're live on the ground with what investigators have found.



HARLOW: New this morning, we're learning of strikes in Gaza carried out by Israeli defense forces.

Our Elliott Gotkine joins us from Jerusalem.

Elliott, what can you tell us? We've been hearing sirens blaring.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Indeed, Poppy, sirens sounding in the communities around the Gaza Strip and in cities such as Ashkelon, just a few kilometers north of the strip. The CNN producer in Gaza telling us that more than six - sorry, that six rockets, more than six rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.

And this breaks, really, this kind of uneasy calm that has prevailed over Israel over the last 24 hours since Israel carried out those air strikes killing three Islamic jihad commanders and also a number of members of their families as well. So, Israel has been waiting for the response.

Both strikes yesterday, of course, were themselves in response, Israel says, to the more than 100 rockets that Islamic jihad fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip a week earlier.

Now, a response had been expected. Measures had been taken to prepare Israel. Reservists had been called up. Public bomb shelters had been opened. And, in fact, the home front command, after carrying out additional air strikes this morning it says to take out Islamic jihad members who are going to a rocket launch pad, they were told in those communities around the Gaza Strip to remain in their bomb shelters until further notice.

But as I say, Israel has been braced for a response for the killing -- for those air strikes that killed the Islamic jihad commanders from that militant group yesterday. This is the first response that we've had from the Gaza Strip with rockets being fired towards Israel. I don't think anyone in Israel is under the illusion that these are the last.


HARLOW: Elliott, thank you for that reporting.


MATTINGLY: Also this morning, we're learning new details about the man who opened fire at a Texas outlet mall killing eight people. Officials say he had neo-Nazi ideation, including tattoos and patches. Now, in a news conference, investigators said the suspect had eight weapons with him at the outlet mall, three on him, another five in his car. All of them, they say, he bought legally.

On Saturday afternoon, witnesses said they started hearing gunshots at the outlet mall. The gunman killed eight people and hurt seven others before an officer who was already at the mall shot and killed him. The police chief says the whole thing lasted about three to four minutes.

Now, CNN's Josh Campbell joins us live from Alex, Texas, this morning.

Josh, at this point, do we have any idea, any word on what the motive had been?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, we've been doing some reporting, Phil, based on our sources, looking into the suspect's background. We've uncovered this really troubling online social media presence. Posts about right-wing extremism, about white supremacy, his obsession over Nazis and guns and past mass shootings. But authorities are not yet prepared to conclude a specific motive. They did provide an update yesterday. They said that they're still going through the suspect's digital devices, his social media.


A regional FBI computer laboratory is going through his - that material. They're still trying to get into his computer. But authorities did provide a little bit of information about how that shooting went down and what they're looking at. Take a listen.


HANK SIBLEY, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: We do know that he had neo-Nazi ideation. He had patches. He had tattoos. Even his signature, you know, verified that.

To me it looks like he targeted the location rather than a specific group of people. He was very random in the people he killed. It didn't matter the age, same race or sex. He just shot people.


CAMPBELL: Now authorities say that they believe that he acted alone, but, again, the investigation continues. It's only been less than 96 hours since that attack happened at this mall behind me. Authorities say they still have a lot of work yet to do, Phil.

MATTINGLY: And, Josh, not taking away from the import (ph) of the investigation, but I do want to try and keep focus on the victims here. The horrifying loss for family members, for those who were killed.

There was a lone boy who lost the members of his family. What do we know about him, about what's going to happen to his life going forward?

CAMPBELL: Yes, the victim certainly front of mind for all of us, even as that investigation continues.

That young boy that you mentioned, six-year-old William Cho. He was here at this mall with his family. Among the eight that were killed were his parents, his mom and dad, as well as his three-year-old brother.

Now, he went to hospital. He is out of the ICU. The family says that he is recovering. But certainly you just have to feel for this young boy. This family of four now a family of one.

Now, we're also hearing amid all of this tragedy from authorities that there was also an incredible amount of bravery that was on display here. We had one person who's been on our air talking about rushing to the scene, trying to render first aid, CPR to save lives. We're also told that the Allen police officer who took down that shooter did so within about three to four minutes. And, finally, one of those victims, 20-year-old Christian LaCour, he was a security guard here at the mall. We were told yesterday by authorities he died while trying to evacuate people to safety, trying to get them out of harm's way, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Well, Josh Campbell, great reporting for us, from Allen, Texas. Thanks so much.

HARLOW: And a good update this morning. An eight-year-old boy has been found after being lost and alone in a Michigan state park for two days. He was camping with his family on Saturday when he got lost gathering firewood. He survived by eating snow and sheltering under a log. There he is. Search party volunteers found him on Monday afternoon.



HARLOW: New this morning, the governors of three regions in Russia, on the border of Ukraine, say the areas have been tacked by drones. One of the governors says a military facility was attacked. Another says an enemy drone explosion damaged several buildings and a car. And the third governor says falling debris from a shot-down enemy drone damaged a gas pipe and a house. There were no injuries reported.

And this all comes after Russia claimed last week that Ukraine launched a drone attack on the Kremlin in what they claim to be an assassination attempt on Vladimir Putin. Obviously, a claim that Ukraine vehemently denies. MATTINGLY: Yes, and all that happening as the leader of the Wagner

mercenary group is signaling that Russia may be struggling in this battle. He's once again criticizing Russian military leadership for their lack of support for his fighters ahead of an expected Ukrainian counter offensive.

And joining us now to discuss, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Mr. Secretary General, I appreciate your time.

I want to start with something that I think everybody was observing yesterday, and that was the victory day parade in Moscow. There was a lot of attention paid to just how scaled down it was. Did you read anything in what we all saw? Is there something to take away from that?

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: I think we all should be careful reading too much into a scaled down parade. But, anyway, it reflects the fact that Russia has lost a lot of capabilities in the war against Ukraine. We have to remember that this was a war that President Putin planned to win within days and now they have been in Ukraine for 15 months and they have suffered heavy casualties. And this just demonstrates that big, strategic mistake it was by President Putin to launch this war of aggression against Ukraine.

MATTINGLY: You mentioned the length of the war, the expectations at the very start of the invasion. The durability and the ability for Ukraine to succeed up to this point, or to push back throughout the course of the last 15 months I think has astonished most people, if not everyone.

However, Ukrainian officials have voiced some concern that the expectations may be a little bit too high for the counter offensive. Concern tied to the fact that if there aren't some sweeping victories or significant pushes, that the alliance that is held together remarkably well over the course of 15 months supporting Ukraine may start to wither, may start to fracture a little bit. What's your read on that?

STOLTENBERG: President Putin made at least two big mistakes when he invaded Ukraine. One was to totally underestimating the Ukrainian -- the Ukrainian armed forces, the Ukrainian leadership, President Zelenskyy. But he also totally underestimated NATO and NATO allies and not least the U.S. leadership that has been demonstrated since the invasion where NATO allies have provided unprecedented support to Ukraine and where NATO allies and partners have reiterated again and again that we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes. And this is just demonstrated this week with the new announcement from the United States, more than $1 billion extra dollars in military aid.

And, of course, wars are by nature unpredictability. But what we have seen is that the Ukrainians have been able to retake territory before, earlier in this war, in the north, around Kyiv, in the east, around Kharkiv, and in the south again - around Kherson.


And all the equipment, all the training they have received from NATO allies and partners, including nine brigades trained and well equipped, all of this should enable them to retake more territory in their counter offensive. At the same time, we should never underestimate the Russians. The front lines have been static for a long time and the Russians have been able to build significant defensive alliance with minefields and trenches to, of course, counter the planned counter offensive.

MATTINGLY: You know, you mentioned the durability of the alliance, which I think has probably grown stronger and actually larger by at least one since the invasion. But there's another nation, Sweden, that is also in line to join. Do you believe Sweden, which is facing some issues with at least one member country, possibly two, will be part of the alliance by July during the NATO summit?

STOLTENBERG: I'm absolutely confident that Sweden will become a member. I will work hard to ensure that that will happen by the summit in Venice in July this year. And we have to remember that regardless of when that happens, that they will be a full member. Sweden is in a much better position now than before they applied because all allies, also Turkey, invited Sweden to become a member at our summit last year in Madrid. And since then, Sweden has had this special status, an invitee, meaning that Sweden is participating in NATO meetings, structures, integrating more and more into our civilian (ph) (INAUDIBLE) structures.

Several allies, including the United States, have issued bilateral security assurances which Finland in -- if we look at the map, you know, Sweden is now surrounded by NATO countries. So, it's absolutely inconceivable that there would be any attack or effect against Sweden without NATO reacting.

So, we have got a long way already and I hope that we can finalize the (INAUDIBLE) process by Venice.

And let me just add that, this is actually a third big strategic mistake that Vladimir Putin made. He invaded Ukraine and sent a clear message that he doesn't want more NATO on his borders. He's getting the exact opposite. He's getting more NATO presence in eastern part of the alliance (ph). And then he's getting two new members, Finland and Sweden. And with Finland, NATO's border with Russia more than doubles.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's a dramatic shift.

I do want to ask you, before I let you go, we're learning this morning - and talks are underway between NATO and Japan to open a liaison office in the country. I think it would be the first in Asia. Can you confirm those talks are happening and what the strategy is behind them?

STOLTENBERG: Yes, we are talking with Japan about opening a NATO office in Tokyo. NATO has several offices in partner countries. And Japan is a very close and important partner for NATO. And we agreed at the NATO summit last year that we should step up our partnership with our Indo-Pacific partners, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

I recently visited Japan and the message there was that security is not regional anymore. Security is global. What happens in Europe matters for Asia. And what happens in Asia matters for Europe. And Beijing is watching closely what happens in Ukraine, the price President Putin is paying, but also the potential rewards. So what happens in Ukraine actually it makes for the calculations Beijing, China, is making regarding, for instance, Taiwan.

MATTINGLY: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, thanks so much, sir.

HARLOW: Ahead, we'll take you out to Jerusalem - back to Jerusalem, where we just took you, where at least six rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel.

There's also a new recommendation this morning for breast cancer screenings. Why officials say women should get their mammograms a lot sooner.




HARLOW: Beyonce's much anticipated "Renaissance" world tour kicks off in Sweden. She's been pretty quiet since releasing her seventh studio album. She has not released music videos, which her fans have been wanting and complaining -- Phil Mattingly leading the charge on social media for more.

MATTINGLY: I'm going to the tour.

HARLOW: No, you're not.

MATTINGLY: I have tickets, yes.

HARLOW: You are not.


HARLOW: You are?

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's -

HARLOW: With who?

MATTINGLY: My wife's 40th birthday present in Paris in two weeks. Surprise.

HARLOW: Is that for real?

MATTINGLY: Chelsea (ph), if you're watching. Yes.

HARLOW: My gosh, he's the best. Is my husband watching this? MATTINGLY: I'm sorry. Well, she puts on like the best shows in the

world. It's going to be great.

HARLOW: I cannot wait for you. I'm very excited for you.

MATTINGLY: You should come.

HARLOW: I would love to come.

MATTINGLY: We should all hang out.

HARLOW: OK, let me get back to the script.

According to Forbes, Beyonce could earn nearly $2.1 billion from the tour, which is about $500 million more than Taylor Swift could earn from her "Eras" tour.

MATTINGLY: I get that based on -

HARLOW: Are you really going? Is this actually happening?

MATTINGLY: Yes. No, no, it's - no, I'm being dead serious.

HARLOW: I still don't know if you're -- I'm just getting used to you, so I'm trying to figure out if you're joking.

MATTINGLY: Yes. No, this is one of the few times in my life I'm being complete sincere.

HARLOW: And Chelsea doesn't know?

MATTINGLY: Well, now she does if she's watching now. We've got - we've got a lot of kids, so she might not be up.

HARLOW: And you're taking her to Paris. Am I watching your four kids?

MATTINGLY: Do you want to?

HARLOW: Yes, I will do that for you.


HARLOW: That's what a good friend does.

MATTINGLY: That's - you probably won't even notice. Well, thank you.

HARLOW: You're welcome.

MATTINGLY: I'll drop them off the day before we leave. It's going to be great.

HARLOW: Sounds great.

MATTINGLY: CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.