Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Operation Disrupted by Cyberattack; Grizzlies Suspend Ja Morant Again for Appearing to Flash a Gun; DHS Chief: Border Crossings Down 50 Percent Since End of Title 42; President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to Meet on Raising U.S. Debt Ceiling; Presidential Election in Turkey Headed for Possible Runoff. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired May 15, 2023 - 08:00   ET




ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: 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 those lawful pathways.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. We are so glad you're with us on this busy Monday morning. A lot of news to get to. The Biden administration says illegal crossings of the southern border have plummeted 50 percent since the COVID-era immigration policy Title 42 expired. So we'll take you down to the southern border this morning.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also, it looks like Turkey's presidential election is headed for a runoff. We have Christiane Amanpour here to break down why this race has global implications.

HARLOW: Also new this morning, AAA is predicting one of the busiest Memorial Day weekends for travel in decades. We'll have an expert with tips on how to beat the rush.

This hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

But here's where we begin this morning. New overnight, a bus of migrants dropped off at the official home of the Vice President, Kamala Harris, in D.C. Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent the bus to the Naval Observatory after Title 42, that COVID-era immigration policy, expired last Thursday. Many were expecting a surge of migrants over the weekend, but according to the Biden administration, that's not what happened. Here's President Biden Sunday after a bike ride.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you think things are going at the border, sir? JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Much better than --

much better than you all expected.


COLLINS: Of course, the concerns were that the crossings would jump. In fact, Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas says the crossings were cut in half compared to earlier in the week. But a word of caution here on this. He said it's too early to know if the crossings have peaked at this point.

CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us live from El Paso, Texas, near the border. Polo, of course, the big question is what it was going to look like after it came to that, after it did expire at midnight on Thursday. What have you seen so far, and what are officials there saying about their take on whether or not the numbers have actually been cut in half?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Kaitlan, it's also important to remind viewers that the president himself said about six days ago in the West Wing that the situation could be, quote, chaotic for a while, but it's important to point out that that's certainly not what we have seen here the last couple of days, especially according to his own DHS secretary, saying that they have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of apprehensions.

Remember, this is the number of people that are essentially going into the system for processing. Alejandro Mayorkas reporting about a 50 percent decrease in that since the expiration of Title 42. But nonetheless, that is providing some of the folks on the ground an opportunity to get their head back up above water to try to catch up with the demand in terms of processing these individuals, because there are overcrowding issues, according to several authorities here in some of those processing facilities responsible for actually getting some of these migrants through the system under the new policy here.

And then, of course, the shelter system that provide a moment of respite for these men, women, and children after the processing wraps up and before they continue with their journey. And all you have to do is look behind me. These are human beings, these are migrants that are sleeping under the cover of Red Cross blankets just outside one of the local shelters here, because they're certainly at or near capacity. So with at least temporary sort of respite, so to speak, it's giving an opportunity for them to offer some of those services to those people that were processed before the lifting of Title 42.

The reality is, the number that is certainly going to continue to rise is the asylum seekers arriving in cities throughout the country. I have heard from many of these individuals telling me that they hope to make it to Denver, some to Chicago, Los Angeles, and certainly to New York City where I've been covering that for that last year, with these busloads of migrants arriving at Port Authority from 200 to 300 a day. Guys?

HARLOW: Polo, thank you for being on the ground for that reporting. COLLINS: Also, President Biden set to meet with top lawmakers at the

White House tomorrow. That includes House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Those are really the two people who matter when it comes to what they will be discussing, as we are just 16 days before the U.S. could potentially run out of money to pay its bills and would default on its debts, causing an economic catastrophe, according to experts. The president spoke to reporters as he was riding a bike this Delaware yesterday, sounding actually pretty optimistic about where the negotiations stand.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 an agreement. And I think we'll be able to do it.


COLLINS: Notable to hear that from the president, saying he believes that Republicans are hopeful to come to an agreement. This meeting that is going to happen at the White House tomorrow does come after sources told CNN the talks that were happening over the weekend between staffs of the administration and lawmakers had been productive.


CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House. Arlette, of course, the big question is whether or not they are going to be able to come to an agreement. And the president did seem to make some news when he talked about work requirements that Republicans have been pushing forward on whether or not he would be open to those. What do we know about that?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan. That was one of the areas President Biden said he is still waiting for more information on from Republicans. But he did suggest that tying work requirements to Medicaid is something that would simply be difficult for him to buy into. But President Biden in those comments struck this optimistic tone, as he said that he does believe that there is a desire for both -- from both sides to reach an agreement to avert a default.

Now, over the weekend, top economic officials here at the White House and the Treasury Department said that the conversations on the staff level have been constructive and serious. Those played out over the course of the weekend and are expected to continue into today.

Now, both sides have been very tight-lipped when it comes to the contours of these negotiations, but sources have outlined a few items that are on the table. And that includes permitting reforms, as well as finding ways to claw back some of those unspent COVID relief funds. You heard the president there saying that he is waiting to hear more information about work requirements from Republicans. But all of these types of details are things that will get hammered out as these discussions around the budget continue at the staff level today, as they prepare for that showdown between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy here at the White House tomorrow.

COLLINS: Meeting tomorrow. Biden set to leave on Wednesday. We'll look at what the timing of that all that looks like. Arlette, thank you.

HARLOW: After 20 years in power, Turkey's long-time leader is now facing a runoff election. It could have huge implications for the NATO alliance and the war on Ukraine. This morning it looks like Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has failed to secure the 50 percent vote threshold to avoid a runoff. Turkey, obviously a key NATO ally and has the second largest military in the alliance. But Erdogan has maintained close ties with Russia at the same time throughout its brutal invasion of Ukraine, and he continues to block Sweden from joining NATO, which would be a huge blow to Vladimir Putin.

No no one better to talk to about all of this and the broad implications than CNN's chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour. Good morning.


HARLOW: Two years and a very complex relationship between Erdogan and Turkey and NATO and the United States, because they proved critical in some ways, the grain deal, et cetera. But also, they've proved to be very difficult.

AMANPOUR: They're difficult. Turkey is a difficult ally because, as you pointed out, it's so important. NATO has so many countries, but Turkey has the second biggest military. And there, it's on the ground. So it's easily deployable.

But over the years, Turkey has, particularly under Erdogan, starting about 20 years ago when he actually opened up and democratized Turkey, which was very heavily militarized. Yes. And then with various challenges like the Gezi Park protests in 2013, then the attempted coup against him a few years later, he cracked down, and he started to become a lot more authoritarian.

And that is what's made him incredibly unpredictable when it comes to being a rock-solid western ally. And of course, before, Turkey used to be kind of the de facto bridge between east and west. But under Erdogan, they have dropped their attempts to get into the E.U. because there are a lot of conditions that they are unwilling to meet.

COLLINS: What does it say to you that this is going to a runoff, that he couldn't get 50 percent of the vote and the referendum of him that that is?

AMANPOUR: It is a referendum. He is -- he actually went into this for the first time lagging in the votes. Now, what you've seen is, the vote count has shown that he actually took more of the vote in the first round than his challenger, and the challenger is part of a coalition. They banded together to see if they could, in fact, unseat him.

COLLINS: Which it never -- AMANPOUR: Not in this way, no. And now, though, it looks the election

commission has said that his votes are more. He has got 49 plus percent. But yes, he has not made it across the finish line yet. To be fair, the Turkish system has never had a runoff, it has had only since 2018. So he won handily the first time. So you can't say it's the first time in 20 years that he's faced runoff. But it's the first time since they've had a runoff that he's faced a runoff and hasn't won outright.

HARLOW: I think many in the west certainly for the first time are learning the name Kemal Kilicdaroglu. I've seen it all morning, all morning. But really what I find so interest is his statement in the last few hours, is any struggle necessary or people should be confident that we will definitely win. We'll see, but what he has put forward is such a contrast to Erdogan. He has talked about the price of onions. He filmed this video in his modest kitchen. He's trying to say, I am so different from your current president.


AMANPOUR: And not only that, he's touching on the thing that's motivated most voters, and that is the cost of living crisis. The economic crisis is very, very severe. If you look at any reports that are coming out of there, lots of interviews by ordinary people who have to make a living and who have to eat, many people who have been voting AKP, which is Erdogan's party for years, and he has a very strong base, are saying, look, we are doing worse off than our families did all of these years ago. We who used to eat chicken or meat once a week are now maybe doing it once a month.

So that on top of the earthquake, which killed some 50,000 people and which highlighted the corruption that they have blamed the Turkish government for allowing builders and others to pay people under the table and have shoddy construction. But he's a very good and canny politician, this Erdogan. And he knows and he has a very fervent base. He is a politician. He used to be mayor of Istanbul. He knows what it means to be a politician. The other gentlemen was an economist. He knows exactly what has to be done to get the economy back on track, which is what people need. But some people have said his -- so far, anyway, his campaign style has not matched that of Erdogan. We'll see.

COLLINS: And the reason the complications for this are so profound, of course, go Ukraine, at the heart of that.

AMANPOUR: At the moment.

COLLINS: The other thing that we saw over the weekend, this development that was striking to me was the Prigozhin, who is the mercenary chief of the Wagner Group that has been helping Russia fight in Ukraine, that back in January he reportedly offered to Ukrainian intelligence services the positions of Russian troops, basically, they would have the intent of firing upon them, offering them those positions if Ukraine withdrew their soldiers from that key city of Bakhmut where there was such intense fighting. What was your reaction from you? AMANPOUR: Look, is it absolutely really an intense situation, because

what Prigozhin is doing with his Wagner Group is challenging Putin without challenging Putin. He never attacks Putin himself. But he's constantly attacking Shoigu and Gerasimov, the two major military -- the defense minister and the army commander. And he's trying to put himself in a good position with Putin. And he has the only troops that, apparently, are willing to go there. But you've seen that it actually hasn't worked yet. They've tried and they've tried and they've tried, and they have not achieved success in Bakhmut. And it is a terrible meat grinder there. But the forces who are achieving slightly more success right now are the Ukrainian troops. And you know Zelenskyy's in London today --

HARLOW: I was just going to ask you about that.

AMANPOUR: He's been on a weekend tour of E.U. and allied NATO capitals, saying if you want us to go on this counteroffensive --

HARLOW: We need more help.

AMANPOUR: Yes, we do. And we need the weapons that you've been promising and we need more. And the British have been actually quite forward leaning because they have said that they want to, and they're ready to provide the much-longer range missiles that the Americans have so far not wanted to provide.

COLLINS: And Germany --

HARLOW: Which is giving them so much money.

AMANPOUR: If the NATO strategy and the U.S. strategy is for Putin to lose, then they have to enable Ukraine to win.

HARLOW: Thank you.

COLLINS: Christiane Amanpour, no one better to discuss all of that with. Thank you so much.

HARLOW: So true.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right, the Memphis Grizzlies star -- the Memphis Grizzlies, I should note, have suspended their star point guard Ja Morant after he appeared to flash a gun on social media. We have details, next.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

This morning, "The Philadelphia Inquirer" fighting back against the cyberattack in what it calls the most significant disruptions to its operations in 27 years. The newspaper, one of the largest in the state, couldn't print its regular Sunday edition. Online postings and updates to the website continued albeit sometimes slower than normal.

The paper was first made aware of this, what they're calling anomalous activity on Thursday. Although it wasn't until Saturday when the disruptions began.

The FBI has been notified about the attack.

COLLINS: As we continue to track that, also this morning, the NBA is investigating after Memphis Grizzlies' star Ja Morant has now been suspended again.

This was after another incident in which he apparently flashes a gun on social media. This is in an Instagram Live video that showed him doing so while inside of a vehicle.

I should note that CNN has reached out to Ja Morant's representative, the Memphis Grizzlies and the NBA for comment on this. We'll keep you updated on that.

It was just two months ago that Ja Morant was suspended for eight games for another incident on social media involving a gun. That was when he was seen holding it up at night at a strip club. This is what he told Jalen Rose after he was suspended that time.


JA MORANT, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES GUARD: I'm big on loyalty, but you know, I had, like I said have to, you know, be there for myself after you know, putting myself in good positions.

And you know, that's the decisions I had to make. You know, decisions, you know, I felt good about and very comfortable about that, you know, I'm going to be in a positive light now with everything, you know that I've made, everything that I've learned in my two weeks.


COLLINS: Joining us now is senior NBA insider for the Athletic and Stadium, Shams Charania. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

I mean, I think the big question that -- what comes from this is the fact that it just happened, and now, we're seeing it again. Were you surprised by this? What's your sense of it?

SHAMS CHARANIA, SENIOR NBA INSIDER, THE ATHLETIC AND STADIUM: I think everyone around the league was really stunned because this just happened about a couple of months ago and Adam Silver met with Ja Morant, and essentially told him that this cannot happen, this should not happen again, and Ja Morant confessed and was convincing that he understood the gravity of the mistake the first time when he was intoxicated at a Denver nightclub, it came out in the investigation that the league had that he was intoxicated, he did flash a gun. And so Ja Morant owned up to it in the moment and everyone thought

that he had moved on. But now that it happens two months later, he got suspended for eight games the first time, and I believe around the league, and even around the Grizzlies, there is concern, there is belief that this is going to be a serious suspension that Ja Morant will be given if this investigation indeed shows that this was his gun, that he flashed over the weekend.

But for Ja Morant, this is clearly somewhat of a pattern of behavior and it is not that he is breaking the law in Denver. He wasn't charged with anything in that nightclub. The police investigated as well. There doesn't appear to be any sign that he violated any law over the weekend, but it's really a morality that he is going to violate and break.


CHARANIA: And that includes with the league, because for them, conduct detrimental to league is the reason why he was suspended the first time and why they're looking into it now.


HARLOW: And just you bring up, Adam Silver, the commissioner. He is a leader to whom that matters a lot, having known him and you cover him. Do you think that Adam Silver will say, look, we talked once, we sat down. You made a guarantee to me, enough, right? A severe suspension, as you suggested. You expect that is what's to come?

CHARANIA: For sure, and this will be an Adam Silver. The commissioner has essentially the power to make any ruling he wants in a suspension. And so with Ja Morant, he met with him face-to-face, I'm told and that message was delivered to Ja Morant. And so, now that he has done it again, I think the league has to look at this greatly and there is a lot of concern, again, with the Grizzlies, even internally, that this will result in a serious suspension.

Of course, the fear would be a full season that you would lose him, but this is not similar to Gilbert Arenas. This gun was not brought to the arena, this gun was not pointing to anyone and was not flashed to a teammate at an arena. This was done at his own time, and it is important to note, this is not a leaked video. This is something that Ja Morant, people around him are openly publicly displaying his actions.

COLLINS: That's such a good point because that was the same issue two months ago, when they were inside that club, that it was a video that he had posted, and now this is the same thing. That's such a good point that it's not some linked video. This is something that he is actively parading around, he and his friends showing this.

And so I guess, the question is, what is your sense of what his teammates think about this? Because I know what the reaction was back in March when he was suspended for those eight games. I mean, is there a sense of frustration from what you think? CHARANIA: So in March, his teammates came out pretty defiantly in the

aftermath and supported Ja Morant. We have not heard from any of his teammates, there have been no tweets. There has been nothing of support since this latest incident. But when it happened the first time, there were conversations even before the incident among his teammates.

Steven Adams, who is a veteran leader on the Memphis Grizzlies team, he really approached Ja Morant in that locker room and said, we have to stop going out. We have to stop doing off court behavior that could impact our on court play, a couple of weeks, a week later, Ja Morant has the gun incident in Denver.

Now, it is the offseason. So we're not clear how much real communication there has been. There has yet to be any support for Ja Morant in the aftermath.

This is a teammate that they're going to lose for a period of time if the investigation proves that this was this was a gun that was displayed over the weekend. And so, I think this is just a harsh reality that Memphis is dealing with, and I think there is a sense of shock within the organization that this has happened again for the second time in three months.


HARLOW: And the impact on the team and all his teammates and people counting on him.

Shams Charania, thanks very much.

Illegal border crossings have dropped significantly in the days after Title 42 was lifted. That's according to the Homeland Security chief, Alejandro Mayorkas. One Republican lawmaker disputing that. More next.


[08:26:59 ]

HARLOW: Welcome back.

This morning, the US southern border entering its first full week without the COVID-era pandemic Title 42 immigration policy that quickly allowed the US to expel migrants. Look at the difference in drone video taken in El Paso.

On the left of your screen, that was Thursday before this policy was lifted when about 10,000 crossings were reported that day.

And on the right of your screen. That was yesterday, Sunday, a much quieter scene with about 4,200 crossings reported on Saturday.

Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas was on "State of the Union" with our Dana Bash yesterday. Here's a clip.


days, the United States Border Patrol has experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters versus what we were experiencing earlier in the week before Title 42 ended at midnight on Thursday.

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.


HARLOW: Joining us now, CNN chief political correspondent and co- anchor of CNN's "State of the Union," Dana Bash.

Dana, good morning.


HARLOW: That was really important and interesting interview, the administration is happy the numbers are what they are right now. But you also had a Republican Congressman on after Mayorkas who said, look, that does not tell the whole story here.

BASH: That's right. And that is why yes, you heard some optimism from the Homeland Security secretary, but also a lot of caution.


BASH: I asked a couple of times whether or not he believes that the surge has peaked at the southern border, and he would not go there and for good reason, because they just don't know. And he, I'm sure can imagine saying on our show, yes, the surge has peaked and then suddenly the surge gets higher and there are even more of an influx of migrants coming to the southern border.

So look, this is a very much a fluid situation and there is absolutely no clear answer. And this has been the case for, you know, a decade- and-a-half, maybe even two decades. I've been covering this particularly very, very closely when I was covering Congress full time.

There will not be until there is a legislative fix to a very broken immigration system and this is about the biggest political football that there is on Capitol Hill and that's saying something.

COLLINS: Yes, I mean, it doesn't even appear close if they could come to an agreement. We'll see if that changes as some senators are trying to push something through.

Dana, as I was watching yesterday, what I was struck by was Mark Green, who is the Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, a Republican when you asked him about what Trump said last week to me when he refused to rule out if he is re-elected reimplementing that zero tolerance policy at the border that led to those devastating scenes of families being separated. This is what Mark Green said about that.


BASH: Should that policy come back?

REP. MARK GREEN (R-TN): So that's why in this bill, we were very clear, families should not be separated. If you look at House -- HR 2, it's very clear, we are not separating families.