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Turkey's Longtime Leader Erdogan Facing Runoff Election; FDA Greenlights New Type Of Drug To Treat Hot Flashes; Ex-New York Senator Anna Kaplan Is Running To Unseat George Santos. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 15, 2023 - 07:30   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Giving conflicting answers, confusing the cops. Then the pregnant lady made a run. I should say pregnant lady in quotes. She ended up giving birth to over three pounds of cocaine that was hidden in a fake prosthetic belly.

Deputies say that they arrested Cemeka Mitchem and the driver, Anthony Miller, on drug trafficking charges.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Turkey's hotly contested presidential election looks like it is headed for a runoff. This is extremely significant, especially to the NATO alliance. We'll ask Turkish- American basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom for his take on all of this.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting with Rishi Sunak in the U.K. today. What he just told the British prime minister. That's all ahead.



And new this morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting with the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the U.K. today. The prime minister announcing a new package of Ukrainian military support 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. He said fighter jets are on the table but they have not yet taken that step to provide those to Ukraine.


Zelenskyy was asked about how important this was in making a counteroffensive -- listen.


VOLODYMRY ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: We are in need of some more time -- not too much. We'll be ready in some time. I want to be very honest with you. I can't share with you some days. I just don't want to prepare not for our friends. There are no secrets from our friends but there are some secrets from our neighbors. That's why we have to prepare.

And I'm here not only because of this support but, of course, including this support. It will help us to be more strong.


HARLOW: This meeting comes as President Zelenskyy has been touring NATO countries and meeting with leaders trying to bolster support for Ukraine. He traveled over the weekend to meet with Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Germany, President Emmanuel Macron in France, and President Mattarella in Italy, as well as even the Pope -- Pope Francis.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, also on the international stage, Turkey's presidential election appears to be heading for a runoff vote in just two weeks from now. The longtime President Erdogan, who has been in power for 20 years, is now finding himself in a fight for his political life. With 99 percent of the votes counted so far, neither President Erdogan nor his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu have secured a majority of the vote, so it would be about 50 percent that is needed to win.

Of course, Turkey is a key ally of the military alliance known as NATO. They have the second-biggest military in NATO.

But Erdogan has come under scrutiny as he has maintained close ties with Russia despite its brutal invasion of Ukraine. It wasn't that long ago that Turkey was buying weapons from Russia against the objections of the United States.

Erdogan has also continued to block Sweden from joining NATO so far. If Sweden does join that alliance, of course, that would amount to a major blow to President Vladimir Putin.

Joining us now with his thoughts on the election that is happening in his home country is Turkish-American professional basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom, an outspoken critic of President Erdogan, I should note.

Enes, thank you so much for joining us this morning as we are watching what is playing out. This is something that officials in Washington were also keeping a close eye on yesterday.

What does it say to you that -- about Erdogan's ruling and what voters think of it now that it is going to a runoff?


I mean, the situation is getting worse and worse every day. I mean, if you look at Turkey right now, it is the number one country in the world that put the most journalists in jail, and Erdogan pretty much controls the media.

And there is going to be a runoff on the elections on May 28, I believe, and right now, all the opposition leaders came together to just go against one guy because the whole country is saying enough is enough because we want to go back to democracy and freedom again.

COLLINS: And what would it mean -- I mean, you've been very critical of Erdogan. We've obviously been clear about that. But what do you think an Erdogan loss would mean for Turkey? What does that look like?

FREEDOM: I mean, with Erdogan, first of all, I want to explain this. Erdogan is -- Turkey is a NATO ally but Erdogan does not look at NATO ally. I mean, I keep saying that all the time. And Erdogan is the Trojan horse for Putin the NATO. He acts more like a Russian ally than an American ally.

And, I mean, with Turkey now -- you know, the -- everyone is just saying enough is enough because people are still suffering. The economy is going back. And Turkey is playing a very strategic role in Europe and the Middle East so we've got to do whatever we can to get him out of his seat.

COLLINS: And he's claimed that he would accept the election results regardless of the outcome. Do you think he actually would if he does ultimately lose this election -- this runoff in two weeks?

FREEDOM: You know, I have so many conversations with people in Congress, Senate, and people around the world, actually, saying that no -- if he loses he is going to start -- start a chaos because he has so much corruption and scandals. And if he loses he knows that he is going to be in jail, so he's going to do whatever he can to win the election -- cheat, steal. So many believe that there is not going to be a fair or free election, so I don't believe that he is going to let it go that easily.

COLLINS: Yes, and I should note he also accused the Biden administration of interfering in the election --


COLLINS: -- which they have said they don't sides in this. But they've been watching it closely and I don't think it would be -- they would not be upset if Erdogan were to lose given this authoritarian practices.

But I want to also ask you about Elon Musk because Twitter said that it was going to restrict --


COLLINS: -- some access before Turkey's election took place. This was in the days before the voting started. Elon Musk defended it online and basically -- obviously, as you know, much of Turkey's media is under government control.


COLLINS: What do you make of Elon Musk defending -- limiting access to Twitter ahead of the -- this election? FREEDOM: You know, I don't want to hear about Elon Musk talking about free speech ever again. He is literally bowing down to a dictatorship.


The Turkish government called Elon to pretty much tell him that if you don't account -- if you don't ban a couple of accounts that we are going to shut down the whole app in Turkey. And he picked business and money over his morals and principles. So I don't want to hear about him talking about free speech ever again.

And that is -- actually plays a very important role because there are many journalists in -- around the world that is critical for the election. So it was -- it was -- he was wrong for that, for sure.

COLLINS: Yes. A lot of people get their information from Twitter.

Enes Kanter Freedom, obviously, we'll be watching this runoff closely. Thank you for your time this morning.

FREEDOM: Of course. Thank you for having me.

HARLOW: That was fascinating, especially on Twitter and Elon Musk in the sort of broader context of all of this.

The FDA approving a new drug to treat hot flashes brought on by menopause. What is it? We'll tell you about it next.



HARLOW: This morning, all those women who have ever experienced hot flashes -- there is now a new type of drug to bring some much-needed relief and it just got the green light from the FDA.

Let's bring in our medical correspondent Meg Tirrell with more. Good morning.


HARLOW: I mean, this affects so many -- millions and millions and millions of women, and this drug works well?

TIRRELL: Yes, it really does. In clinical trials it showed that it reduced both the severity and the frequency of these hot flashes that are associated with menopause. And, of course, these are the periods of flushing and sweating and chills that can happen to as many as 80 percent of women going through this, so it's a huge number of people.

And usually, these are treated with hormone-based therapies but for some patients those are contraindicated. And so, this drug actually has a different mechanism of action. It works on sort of a center in the brain that regulates temperature. And it did show in trials that it works really well for this. This is for moderate to severe hot flashes caused by menopause. It's

called Veozah. It's from a Japanese drugmaker called Astellas. And what's exciting is that it has this different mechanism of action. It's not a hormone-based therapy.

COLLINS: So the question I think people would have -- or what is the FDA evaluating when it comes to what the risks look like?

TIRRELL: Yes. So it does have a warning about potential liver injury. And so people who are going to take this medicine have to be assessed for liver injury before taking it and then every three months get a blood test to make sure you're liver enzymes aren't getting elevated for the first nine months that you're taking it. So that is something significant to look out for for this class of drugs.

HARLOW: Insurance will cover it for most people? That looks like a no.

TIRRELL: That's the question. Well, so that's something we've seen --

HARLOW: Is it expensive?

TIRRELL: -- doctors be worried about. It's about $550 a month, according to the company --

HARLOW: That's a lot.

TIRRELL: -- before insurance, and so there is a little bit of a worry about people being able to afford it and what the coverage will look like. The company says it is working for wide coverage.

COLLINS: All right. Well, keep us updated on what they say.

All right, thank you so much.

TIRRELL: Thank you, guys.

HARLOW: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right. Taylor Swift interrupted her Eras Tour concert in Philadelphia over the weekend to defend a fan who was -- a fan who was in the audience. The singer was performing her hit "Bad Blood" on Saturday night but she reportedly saw a security guard talking to a fan-- harassing a fan -- and intervened.



She wasn't doing anything. Hey, stop!


COLLINS: You can see Swift there yelling at the security guard saying that the fan wasn't doing anything. She continued to perform. A woman who is claiming to be that fan in the audience then later

posted her take on social media. She said a security guard was harassing her and her friends throughout the night at the concert as they were dancing near barricades that were by the stage. According to this fan, the security guard was escorted out. She and her friends were allowed to stay and were actually offered free tickets to Swift's second show in Philadelphia last night.

No word from Taylor Swift or the venue, which is Lincoln Financial Field.

HARLOW: Just another reason I love Taylor Swift. That's all.

COLLINS: She is -- it's also amazing to be able to notice that was happening --


COLLINS: -- while she's performing in real-time on the stage.

HARLOW: Did you notice how she was telling them stop while singing? Stop, singing --

COLLINS: Yes, she kept going.

HARLOW: Good for her.

Ahead, George Santos is facing 13 federal charges. We're going to be joined by the former New York state senator who is challenging him in his seat -- for his seat in Congress.

COLLINS: Also, there are potentially just 16 days left before the U.S. could default on its $31 trillion in debt, running out of money to pay its bills. President Biden is set to meet with top lawmakers, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, at the White House tomorrow. Can they reach a deal? We'll talk about it next.



HARLOW: Congressman George Santos is facing more than 13 federal charges and he now has a new opponent. Former New York state senator Anna Kaplan is kicking off her campaign for New York Congress and her pitch is this.


Anna Kaplan Political Ad:

REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): My grandparents survived the Holocaust.

I'm Jew-ish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that was a lie.

SANTOS: Absolutely.

LESTER HOLT, NBC ANCHOR, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": George Santos now facing federal criminal charges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have no shame?

SANTOS: I'm innocent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: George Santos wants to restrict women's reproductive rights. He wore an assault rifle pin on the House floor hours after a mass shooting, and he introduced a bill celebrating the AR-15. Instead of resigning, he's running for reelection.

ANNA KAPLAN, (D) NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, RUNNING TO UNSEAT GEORGE SANTOS: I'm Anna Kaplan and I'm running for Congress because George Santos is a disgrace.


HARLOW: Santos has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He's called the indictment a witch hunt. He says he's committed to this run for reelection.

So we're joined now by the Democratic candidate for New York's third congressional district currently represented by Santos, Anna Kaplan. Good morning, and thank you.

KAPLAN: Good morning, Poppy. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you, Kaitlan.

HARLOW: I think for many people and certainly, a national audience, this is one of their first opportunities to get to know you and who you are. You fled Iran. You were 13 years old. You got on a plane and you came to this country for two years without your parents. You're also Jewish and your family feared persecution for that.

We heard George Santos -- we know that he claimed his grandparents fled the Holocaust. So for you, in particular, what is that like to hear as you run for this seat?

KAPLAN: Well, I believe everyone can agree that George Santos is a disgrace and he should resign, but he has said that he's not going to. And Congress should expel him but we have also seen Kevin McCarthy refuse to do the right thing.

I'm running because I want to make sure we give the voters a choice at the ballot and to unseat George Santos.


George Santos started his campaign with lies and has continued those lies all along during being in the office. One of the most offensive lies have been about his Jewish heritage and having family that has survived the Holocaust.

I fleed (sic) Iran. My parents had to make a heart-wrenching decision to put me on a plane when I was 13 years old with 39 other kids because they feared for my life. And the residents of this district are outraged by his lies and it's time for us to defeat him and move him from the office and flip the seat.

COLLINS: What encouraged you to run? Had you already decided before it was clear the plethora of lies that he told or was it all of the deceit and the lies that encouraged you to launch this run?

KAPLAN: I think it's a combination of all that has happened. I ran for New York State Senate four years ago. I flipped a red seat to blue and I helped flip the chamber to a Democratic control. And we were instrumental in passing legislations that really impacted 20 million New Yorkers. I think we need more leadership like that in Washington now.

HARLOW: One of your top if not your top campaign issues has been access to abortion. You signed a bill to codify Roe here in New York.

I thought it was interesting to hear Nikki Haley, the only woman currently running for president in the Republican Party, say this yesterday in response to the idea of a national ban on abortions, which some of the fellow -- her fellow Republican contenders have proposed. Here's what she said.


NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For a national standard I think we have to tell the American people the truth. In order to do a national standard you'd have to have a majority of the House, 60 Senate votes, and a president. We haven't had 60 pro-life senators in 100 years. So the idea that a Republican president could ban all abortions is not being honest with the American people any more than a Democrat president could ban these pro-life laws in the state. So let's be honest with the American people and say let's find national consensus.


HARLOW: Do you think there is such a thing as national consensus right now in this environment on this issue?

KAPLAN: I can tell you in my district the majority of the people want reproductive rights for women. I can tell you that one of the days -- happy days of my life was codifying Roe in the state of New York. What we're watching in Washington, the Republicans are doing everything in their power to restrict women's reproductive rights. We need to do everything to make sure that our voices are being heard.

In a time that they're having six-week bans throughout the country in every different states, I think we need more representation and more women at the table. And I'm running for this seat because there is no -- this district has never been represented by a woman --

HARLOW: Really?

KAPLAN: -- and I would be honored to be that person. And I think based on my record I've proven how I can effectuate change, and that's why I'm doing this early on. And I know that I could be that candidate to flip this seat which is the pathway to flipping the House and delivering the majority to Hakeem Jeffries and for us to be able to really hear women's issues and deal with what's important.

The six-week ban is a law that really shows us -- my daughter's generation and the generations after that will have less rights than my mother did and my grandmother's generation had.

COLLINS: Yes. That's that law that was signed in by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis --

KAPLAN: Correct.

COLLINS: -- the six-week law.

Well, we know you're going to have some competition, of course -- a lot of people who are wanting to run against George Santos in this race. We'll continue to track it closely. And thank you for joining us here on set this morning.

KAPLAN: Thank you so much for the time.

COLLINS: Anna Kaplan, thank you.

And CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


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.