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CNN This Morning

Leaks Reveal Zelenskyy Plotting Attacks Inside Russia; Ukraine's President to Meet with British Prime Minister; Turkey's Longtime President Erdogan Facing Runoff Election; Mayorkas: Border Crossings Dropped by 50% after Title 42 Lifted; Biden to Meet with Top Lawmakers Tomorrow as Deadline Nears. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 15, 2023 - 06:00   ET



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

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: A good Monday morning, everyone. We are so glad you're with us. Good weekend.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: How was yours? Happy Mother's Day.

HARLOW: Thank you. So nice, so sunny, so great.

COLLINS: It was a beautiful day here in New York.

HARLOW: I slept. My kids made me breakfast. What more can you ask?

COLLINS: Not much.

HARLOW: It was a beautiful day. We hope you had a beautiful Mother's Day and a great weekend.

Let's get started for "Five Things to Know" this Monday, May the 15th.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is in the U.K. this morning. He was meeting with the British prime minister. The visit is just the latest in a series of high-stakes meetings across Europe as Russia experiences a string of battleground setbacks in Ukraine.

COLLINS: Also, illegal border crossings dropping by 50 percent in the days after that immigration policy known as Title 42 was lifted. That is according to the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas. He warns it's too early, though, to say whether or not the surge has peaked.

Also, sources tell CNN President Biden is expected to hold another round of debt ceiling talks tomorrow. That is with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the other congressional leaders.

Yesterday, the president sounded optimistic about progress being made when the staff has been meeting.

HARLOW: Ron DeSantis headlining big political events in Iowa this weekend. The Florida governor making a last-minute pit stop in Des Moines, trolling former President Trump, who canceled a rally there because of bad weather.

COLLINS: Also, Boston's Jayson Tatum setting an NBA record for the most points scored in a game seven. His 51-point performance against the Sixers helped the Celtics move on to the Eastern Conference finals.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

HARLOW: So the control room will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it is Jayson Tatum last week who said he is humbly one of the best basketball players. Am I right?

COLLINS: I don't know. I love that.

HARLOW: Sam? Sam? Am I right? I think I'm right. Well, I think he showed it last night.

COLLINS: It's pretty good. It's a pretty amazing day.

HARLOW: You don't know something about sports? I'm stunned.


HARLOW: Something I learned from Mattingly last week. We should stop while we're ahead. I hope I'm right. Meantime -- I'm right, they tell me.

To serious news this morning, and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is meeting today with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the United Kingdom. He announced a new package -- Sunak, that is -- of support for Ukraine's military. That includes hundreds of air defense missiles ahead of the highly-anticipated spring offensive.

Sunak also promised to start training Ukrainian fighter pilots this summer. That is key. He has said fighter jets are on the table but has not yet taken that step.

Zelenskyy has been touring NATO countries seeking to bolster support for Ukraine. He traveled over the weekend to meet the chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz. Also President Emmanuel Macron of France and Italy's President Mattarella. Also, Pope Francis while he was there at the Vatican.

Meanwhile, Russia's military is dealing with setbacks, including two commanders killed on the battlefield in Ukraine.

On top of this, over the weekend, "The Washington Post" reported classified document leaks reveal that President Zelenskyy -- Zelenskyy, the U.S. believes, is plotting an attack inside of Russia. U.S. officials tell CNN the administration is not aware of Ukraine using U.S.-provided weapons to attack Russian territory.

There's a lot to get to, so let's begin this hour with Sam Kiley. He is live in Eastern Ukraine with more. Sam, good morning.

What is key here? I mean, obviously, it's key to get that British training of Ukrainian fighter pilots. But what else comes out of this meeting today?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it comes towards the end of. We didn't know that he was actually going to even attend this meeting in London. We thought that it was -- it's a European tour. President Zelenskyy had been in Rome, been in Berlin, and then in Paris and now in London.

In all three places he's managed to secure fulsome support of very key important powerful European nations.

In the case of Germany, $3 billion almost of military aid. In the case of the United Kingdom, yet another pledge. This time, among other things, for anti-aircraft missiles and very important fighter jet training program.

Now, the Brits have said that the Ukrainians have actually backed away from asking the British for Typhoon. But they have added their voice to Zelenskyy's in saying that they would like to see the world that the allies supporting Ukraine give Ukraine F-16s. That, of course, has not yet happened.

But what this does do is cement support behind Ukraine in a very material sense ahead of this anticipated summer offensive -- Poppy, Kaitlan.

HARLOW: What can you tell us about the advancement in Bakhmut, Sam?

KILEY: Well, this is significant on a tactical level. It shouldn't be seen as part of the summer offensive, although of course, if they gain initiative there, it's very unlikely that the Ukrainians would fail to exploit it.

They have driven the Russians back across two fronts, at least the North and South of Bakhmut, provoking the mercenary organization, Wagner, to say that it's fearful that it may get encircled by Ukrainian troops. They have been able to exploit -- exploit friction between Wagner and the regular Russian arms forces, a lack of coordination.

And part of -- I think this is very significant, indeed, in the wider, psychological campaign that Zelenskyy's trip to Europe is part of, which is saying to the ordinary Russian soldier, you may not live to see the end of this year. We've got a lot of gear. We've got a lot of initiative. We've got a lot of intelligence. We can reach out now behind your lines with things like Storm Shadow from the United Kingdom, from -- with our own Ukrainian-built cruise missiles that you're seeing in action.

We can get behind you and start knocking off your logistics support. Trying to break the will of the Russian soldier is probably the preeminent objective at this moment. HARLOW: Fascinating. Sam Kiley reporting from Eastern Ukraine. Thank

you for that.

COLLINS: Also this morning, we are keeping a very close eye, as are officials in Washington, on the presidential election happening in Turkey. It could have major implications for the military alliance known as NATO.

At this moment, it does look like the race is going to be headed to a runoff after the long-time President Erdogan failed to get at least 50 percent of the vote. He's been in power for 20 years. He is now fighting for his political survival against the opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Turkey is a key NATO ally of the United States. But Erdogan has raised eyebrows in the West as they have maintained very warm ties with Russia, even despite that brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Erdogan has continued to block Sweden from joining, NATO which would be a major blow to President Putin.

CNN's international correspondent, Jomana Karadsheh, is tracking the results in Istanbul.

Jomana, this is a nail biter, it looks like right now. I know we're still waiting on what the official results are going to look like. But this would have really major applications beyond just Turkey, of course.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Kaitlan. Turkey and beyond. This is a country that has played a major role in many different conflicts and crises around the world.

Of course, a major NATO ally and a U.S. ally seen as an unpredictable one under the leadership of President Erdogan.

But right now, at this moment, Kaitlan, what we understand is vote counting is still continuing. They're still continuing to count ballots, with more than 99 percent of the vote counted so far.

Neither of the candidates, President Erdogan, or the opposition's candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, have managed to get that 50 plus 1 percent threshold that is needed for a win.

The presidency, President Erdogan right now, at a 49.40 percent, and Kemal Kilicdaroglu with 44.96 percent. So this most certainly is looking like it is headed towards a runoff in two weeks' time on the 28th of May.

We've heard from both candidates yesterday speaking, addressing their supporters, saying that, if this is the will of the Turkish people, if this is where it is headed, they accept going to a second round.

But really, Kaitlan, this is a real blow for the Turkish opposition. For the first time, they have come together in a united front. They have managed to put their differences aside. You had this really diverse coalition. And they nominated one candidate. And they were hoping that this would be enough to unseat President Erdogan.

They were promising the people of Turkey change. They were promising people that they are going to take this country back on the path to real democracy.

And so, right now, you have President Erdogan, who has defied expectations. No victory right now, but this is certainly a win for the Turkish president, whose ratings have suffered in recent months and recent years. Whether it is because of the state of the economy in his country that is blamed -- people blame him here, because of his unorthodox economic policies, for the country's economic and currency crisis.

And then you've also got the handling of the devastating earthquake in February, that very slow, chaotic response by the government, the lack of preparedness. And a lot of people were wondering how that was going to impact him.

And at this point, it does seem that President Erdogan, for the most past, has emerged unscathed. Of course, we're going to have to wait and see what the final initial results are today, and of course, if this is headed to a runoff, as is expected at this point at this point, on the 28th of May, Kaitlan.


COLLINS: Yes. He's been in power for 20 years. We'll see what the results look like as they continue to count. Jomana Karadsheh, thank you very much.

HARLOW: Well, this overnight. A bus load of migrants were dropped off at the official home of Vice President Kamala Harris. Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent that bus to the Naval Observatory, something we've seen happen before, by the way.

This came after Title 42, that COVID-era immigration policy, expired last Thursday. Now, some were expecting a surge -- many people were expecting a surge of migrants over the weekend. That's not what has happened so far.

Here is President Biden on Sunday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you think things are going at the border, sir?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Much better -- much better than you all expected.


HARLOW: In fact, Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas says border crossings so far, in the past few days, have been cut in half, compared to earlier in the week. Listen.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The numbers that we have experienced over the past two days are markedly down over what they were prior to the end of Title 42.

We have communicated very clearly a vitally important message to the individuals who are thinking of arriving at our Southern border. There is a lawful, safe, and orderly way to arrive in the United States. That is through the pathways that President Biden has expanded in an unprecedented way. And then there's a consequence if one does not use the lawful pathways.


HARLOW: Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says it is too early to tell if crossings have peaked so far.

Polo Sandoval is live in El Paso, Texas. I will say, Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales, who represents, you know, some 60 percent of El Paso County, says he disagrees with that assessment. But this is what the administration is saying they're seeing in terms of numbers. But it's just been a few days.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And I'll tell you why, Poppy, in just a second. But first, you know, you heard those comments from President Biden.

Now, the fact is that this expected surge in illegal crossings, this was anticipated by federal officials initially. But the reality is, according to Alejandro Mayorkas, that did not happen, especially when you compare the numbers here over the weekend.

The secretary telling our colleague Dana Bash that the average daily rate of encounters was about 9,000 to 10,000 leading up to the expiration of Title 42 but then quickly following that, that number dropping down to 6,300. Not to mention Saturday dropping again to 4,200.

So the results is about a 50 percent decrease in border apprehensions.

But this is where Representative Gonzales's argument is. The fact is that this means that there is still some overcrowding issues at some of the DHS processing facilities. And then all you have to do is look behind me to see that many of the shelters, especially here in El Paso downtown, are still dealing with numbers that are either at or exceeding capacity.

So, the result is some of the folks, which I should mention are just a few dozen, immediately outside of one of the shelters. Well, they're having to sleep on the sidewalk here.

The hope for them is that they will eventually be able to continue with their journey North. So, that really is some important context here, is that that 50 percent decrease in the number of people that were being put into the system for processing and then processed under Title 8. That number has decreased. And that is now allowing not just local officials but, certainly,

federal officials an opportunity to get their head back above water. We saw over the weekend, in recently-filed federal court documents, a senior CBP official projects that we could potentially see that number of apprehensions go back up, potentially up to 14,000 in the coming days or weeks.

But I can tell you after covering this all weekend here, immediately following the Title 42 expiration, Poppy, you don't see any sign of that.

HARLOW: Can you talk about what you saw when you visited a shelter this weekend? And just to be clear, is that different than these government-run detention facilities?

SANDOVAL: To be clear, these are centers that offer respite to these people that are basically released from DHS facilities. They're asylum seekers, migrants that are caught in a bit of a limbo here. So we had an opportunity to speak to them in terms of what is next for them.

One woman, in particular, 38 years old, her name is Connie, left recently with her three daughters. She was processed and released immediately before Title 42.

But her concern is that her adult-aged daughters are still being held in detention. So she's basically just waiting here in El Paso. It was a very bitter Mother's Day for her, as she was waiting for word on when she could potentially see her two daughters, ages 18 and 20 years old.

What you keep hearing again, Poppy, as we send things back to you is the number of asylum seekers arriving in American cities. That is one that is going to continue to rise, as many of these individuals have told me they expect to go to Denver, Los Angeles, and certainly New York City, where we've seen those buses arrive, several hundred a day.



SANDOVAL: I mean people, of course.

HARLOW: Yes. And we have to remember, every single one of these numbers is a human, with a family and a story and caught in the crosshairs of all of this.


HARLOW: Thank you for your great reporting in El Paso.

COLLINS: Also this morning, President Biden set to meet with top lawmakers at the White House soon. That is just 16 days before the U.S. could default on its $31 trillion in debt.

We're going to get the latest on the negotiations, what a default would mean for you and your family, next. And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is in Iowa, taking a not-so-veiled jab at former President Trump, warning against the GOP's, quote, "culture of losing" as he calls it. What he did when Trump's Iowa visit was derailed by the weather.


COLLINS: President Biden set to meet with top lawmakers at the White House tomorrow, with just 16 days before the U.S. could potentially run out of money to pay its bills and default on its $31 trillion in debt.

The president speaking to reporters as he was riding his bike in Delaware yesterday. This is what he said about the status of the negotiations, as they stand right now.


BIDEN: I remain optimistic, because I'm a congenital optimist. But I really think there's a desire on their part, as well as ours, to reach agreement. I think we'll be able to do it.


COLLINS: So he sounded hopeful. And tomorrow's meeting comes as sources are also telling CNN that the talks that are happening right now between staffers of the White House and congressional leaders about raising the limit have been productive.


We're covering this from the White House all the way to your house. CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House.

Christine Romans here to explain what a default would mean for you and your wallet, your 401(k).

First, let's get to Arlette. Of course, the president and we've heard from some treasury officials sounds pretty optimistic. More optimistic than what what we've heard in recent days. What is actually happening behind the scenes in these talks?


Well, President Biden struck an optimistic tone when he talked about the possibility of Congress acting to avert default. And over the weekend, top economic officials here at the White House and the Treasury Department said that the talks on the staff level have been constructive and serious.

Ultimately, they believe that Congress will move to -- to prevent a default. But they have acknowledged there have been some discussions when it comes to budgetary measures.

Now, both sides have been very tight-lipped about these negotiations. But sources have told us that some of the items on the table include permitting reform, as well as trying to claw back some unspent COVID relief funds.

President Biden also indicated that he is waiting for further guidance and details from Republicans on their proposals, when it comes to work requirements for some government aid programs. Though the president did indicate that work requirements for Medicaid would be a much tougher sell for him to buy into.

Now, those staff-level negotiations are expected to continue throughout the day as they're heading into this showdown between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, potentially here at the White House tomorrow. The president saying that that is the likely date for their next meeting.

COLLINS: OK. So we're waiting to see what that's going to look like. And this also comes, Arlette, as President Biden is set to leave the country. He's got that international trip that he's going on.

And this week, we are expecting to hear an update from the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, on what that date is. What is the date when the U.S. runs out of money? What are we looking at?

SAENZ: Well, that date that has been outlined so far is potentially as early as June 1. Now, over the weekend, the president said that they have not yet reached the crunch point.

But if you take a look at the calendar, they are facing some very real time constraints. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said that he thinks that there needs to be a deal in principle by early this week. The White House has yet to commit to that time line.

But the president has an incredibly busy week scheduled. He is set to depart on Wednesday for the G-7 summit in Japan. And even if the deal is reached, we all know how slowly things can move through Congress up on Capitol Hill. So, this is something that really could go down to the wire.

COLLINS: We'll be watching it closely. Arlette, thank you.

HARLOW: Now to what is at stake for you, right? Millions of Americans, if Congress and the White House can't reach a deal. Our chief business anchor and correspondent, Christine Romans, with us now.

Please, please, help us boil this down for everyone at home. Folks are saying that's when lawmakers will move to some agreement, when their constituents start calling.


HARLOW: Really mad.

ROMANS: Right. Mad and saying, Hey, my 401(k) was just cut in half. Or, in the case of small business owners, small business owners, you know, they could be in a position where they can't make payroll, especially if you're downstream from federal contractors who might not be able to pay all of their bills. So this is incredibly critical. And you guys, on the point of those small business owners, they're

already starting to change their behavior. They're starting to put money away for payroll in case there's some kind of big drama this summer. So if you're putting money away for payroll, it means you're not spending it on other things. You're not making other investments.

So already, we talk about that "X" date. Already, this is having an effect in the economy.

Now, think of it also this way. If we have -- if the government has 80 cents for every dollar of its obligations, that means it won't be paying like veteran benefits. They won't be paying Social Security; maybe give you an IOU. Maybe Medicare won't get completely funded here.

That would take the stock market and cause a likely recession. You would see big job loss. Goldman Sachs says even, you know, messing around with the debt limit and going over it, we've already gone past it, frankly. But going past this "X" date and defaulting would be 10 percent of the American economy would just stop. If there's not enough money to pay every dollar that comes in, it would just stop.

We don't have a lot of time here. We do not have a lot of time. And that's the calendar that you heard Arlette talking about. I'm already talking to small business owners who are saying they're making changes and they are pulling back. They want to be able to pay their workers this summer.

Already, we know that the effects are being felt. They've had since January 19th to figure this out.

COLLINS: Yes. Even before we get to that date.

HARLOW: Right.

COLLINS: We'll see the effects of it.

HARLOW: Sort of amazing to see big banks like JPMorgan setting up war rooms, essentially, to say what is the contingency plan if this happens?

ROMANS: Last week, he was visiting -- Jamie Dimon, was visiting the war room every week. Now this week, he'll start doing it every day.

And I'm told that the critical week is May 22.


ROMANS: They must, on these two tracks talking about budget deals, future budget deals and maybe kicking the can down the road with the short-term extension.


ROMANS: The 22nd is when -- that's the week that work has to be done, before the Memorial Day holiday. [06:25:00]

HARLOW: A week from today.


HARLOW: Thank you.

ROMANS: January 19. Washington -- It was January 19.

HARLOW: I know.

ROMANS: But we keep kicking that can down the road, too.

COLLINS: Washington does nothing unless there is a deadline.

ROMANS: That's right.

COLLINS: Christine Romans, thank you.

HARLOW: Or unless Kaitlan Collins is there asking the probing questions.

Thanks, Romans.

COLLINS: All right. Speaking of Washington, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis seized an opportunity in Iowa over the weekend after former President Trump canceled a rally there because of weather. We're getting the latest on when the Florida governor could be making his already seemingly official announcement actually official.